Hunting – 3.3

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Ruby was really worried about Weiss–like, really worried. Her eyes were darting around, unfocused, almost manic, and she was hyperventilating like crazy. 

As gently as possible, Ruby grabbed her partner’s hand and led them both off to the side a bit. Some space and privacy should hopefully help. Weiss was the kind of person that recharged and centered herself with quiet and solitude. Ruby was the same way sometimes. 

Well, the solitude part was the same. She usually was blaring her music a few too many hundred decibels above what would be considered “quiet”. 

“Weiss,” she said when they stopped. “Weiss, can you look at me?” 

Ruby waited while Weiss’ gaze slowly focused in on Ruby’s own, and once it did Weiss gave a single, adorably confused blink. 

“Hi!” Ruby whispered. 

Weiss huffed out a brief, bemused laugh. “Hello,” she responded, her breathing finally starting to slow. 

“You doin’ okay?” Ruby asked. 

“I-I’m fine,” Weiss stammered, immediately looking down. 

‘Right.’

“Hey,” she restarted, waiting a few seconds for Weiss to look at her again before continuing. “You’re alright. The Grimm is dead and you’re still standing here, all perfect and princessy!” 

Weiss’ lips twitched ever so slightly, but then she shook her head with a sigh. It looked like she was finally out of Panic Mode, so that was progress at least. 

“It’s not… I mean, yes, I did freak out about the Grimm disgustingness getting all over me, but…” She trailed off and looked over at the professor and their teammates. Ruby followed her gaze and saw Yang and Blake both jerk their heads and try to pretend like they hadn’t been looking. Professor Goodwitch was just straight up facing the other direction. 

“What am I doing here?” Weiss muttered in a way that gave Ruby the impression she was mostly talking to herself. 

Her first inclination was to answer that they were on a Hunt, duh, but she got the feeling the question meant more than that. 

“What do you mean?” she asked instead. 

Weiss’ shoulders slumped. “I mean why am I trying to become a huntress? I don’t belong out here. I’m terrible at this! If I… freak out the moment a Grimm hits me–while Yang is just swinging Grimm around by the teeth and you’re exploding through them no problem and Blake is so good she’s not even getting touched–then what the hells am I doing here?” 

Oh. So she wasn’t upset that she got attacked, she was upset that she freaked out. 

Alright, time for Super Encouraging Team Leader Jutsu. 

Ruby jabbed the tip of Crescent Rose into the ground so it could rest upright and gently grabbed Weiss’ other hand too, giving them both a squeeze. “Hey, Weiss, you’re not terrible at this! You’re freaking awesome! That Super Ice Blast Shard… Volley… Thing… that you did? That was epic!” 

“It was an accident,” Weiss replied dejectedly. 

Undeterred, Ruby countered, “Yeah, so imagine how awesome it’ll be when you do it on purpose!” 

Weiss frowned and opened her mouth to respond, then closed it and frowned deeper, as if unable to find a good argument against that. 

Haha! Point for Super Encouraging Team Leader Jutsu!… SETLJ? No, that was dumb and weird. 

“And there’s nothing to be ashamed of about freaking out a lil’ bit the first time you get Grimm grossness on you! We did too!” 

That was a tiny fib–Ruby hadn’t freaked out at all the first time, or any time, she got splattered with Grimm blood. She remembered just thinking it was weird that their blood was black and wrinkling her nose at the smell–something she still did, ‘cause, well, gross. But Yang really had freaked out! Ruby was really young when it happened so she didn’t remember everything, but she still had a mental video in her head of a ten year old Yang panicking and flailing her arms everywhere to try to get the blood off of her and punching Mom’s leg a bunch when she rushed over to help. 

“But I’m so far behind,” Weiss lamented, determined to keep hating herself. 

Ruby shook her head. “Nuh-uh! Sure, you’re a little behind when it comes to dealing with the evil monsters of doooom, but you’re way ahead in your Dust casting and your studies and your semblance is super OP and you’re just really awesome! So this is just something you gotta train! Just like I have to train to be a better leader, or actually do my homework, or not fall asleep in Professor Porkybutt’s class!” 

Weiss cracked the tiniest of smiles at Ruby’s nickname for The Worst Professor, but offered no response. 

“It’s a skill like any other,” Ruby added, hoping to drive the point home. “And if your music and sword fighting and Dust casting are any indication, when you train at something you get really really good at it. So just… give yourself time to train!” 

Weiss pursed her lips, scrunching her eyebrows together as she looked at Ruby. “…Okay,” she finally conceded with a whisper. 

Ruby gave her a beaming smile. “Awesome!” Another point for SETeLeJ!… No, that was terrible too. “So, you want to keep going? Or… should we call it a day?” 

Ruby really hoped Weiss was willing to keep going. She was having a ton of fun. Killing Grimm with Yang was always a blast–there was just something so exhilarating about wombo comboing their awesome moves together. And now they had Weiss and Blake with them too! 

It was weird fighting with so many extra people though. Ruby wasn’t used to not having to address some of the Grimm she saw because someone else was going to take care of them. She almost smacked Blake with Crescent Rose twice in that last fight because she kept ninja leaping at a Beowolf Ruby was about to hit. 

No big deal though! That’s why they were training! Some day, they’d all be able to, like, super predict what they were all doing so they looked like one elite fighting machine. At least, that’s how Dad and Uncle Qrow describe it whenever they wistfully reminisce about “the good old days”. 

Ruby really, really hoped things didn’t end for her team the way they had with her parents’. She wanted to always have the good old days. So they’d just be… good days?

Weiss looked over at the rest of the group, eyes wide and eyebrows raised with worry, but then her face settled into a determined expression and she turned back to Ruby. “No, let’s keep going. I meant it when I said I wanted to succeed.” 

Ruby gave Weiss the biggest, proudest smile she could make–and she was a good smiler, so it was probably epic. Weiss was so brave! Going from an almost-maybe-actual meltdown to determined to keep moving. 

“Just keep moving forward,” Ruby said, quoting something her uncle always told her. She gave Weiss’ hands one last squeeze of encouragement, then picked her scythe back up and lead the way back to the group. 

“Alright, Team RWBY! Let’s go kick some more… butt!” She was going to try to come up with a clever name for Grimm butt, but what would that be, other than Grutt? Which was… probably not something she should say out loud. 

As soon as they got close enough, Yang walked up and wrapped an arm around Weiss’ shoulders, using the tips of her fingers to wiggle Weiss’ hair a bit. “Proud o’ you, Ice Queen,” she said affectionately. 

“Don’t mess up my hair!” Weiss protested, sounding a lot like Ruby, but when she yanked Yang’s hand off her head only for Yang to settle it on her shoulder and give her a sideways hug, she only squirmed a little bit, giving what Ruby imagine Weiss thought of as an obligatory pout. 

Blake simply gave Weiss a solemn nod of acknowledgement that Weiss returned and… and that was it? 

They really didn’t talk much if they didn’t have a Rose/Xiao Long to prompt them, did they?

“So… which way are we going?” Ruby asked. 

Blake scoff-laughed and pointed. “C’mon.” 

“Follow us, Mysteriously Resurrected Helpless Civilian!” Ruby declared to Professor Goodwitch, who quirked an eyebrow her way. 

“Hey, Ruby?” Weiss spoke up as they started walking. 

“Yes, Weiss?” Ruby replied with a smile. 

“Do you mind if I do the… outrunning or whatever? Just for a little bit?” 

Ruby studied Weiss’ face for a moment, reaching the conclusion that she was troubled but determined. ‘She wants some alone time to think,’ Ruby knew. ‘She listened to me, but now she needs to figure out how she feels about it.’

“Sure! Just remember to stay in sight and to check in with err’body every now and then.” 

Weiss gave her a grateful nod and, once they got to the treeline, skated off to the side with her glyphs. 

Blake started jogging forward, but Ruby called out, “Hold up. Blake, Yang, how ‘bout we stay a little more compact this time, just in case there are more of those freaky Stalkers lurking about?” 

Blake turned and blinked at her, then nodded quickly in agreement. “That sounds good, yeah.” 

“Pffft,” Yang scoffed. “Let me go first then, I can take ‘em.” 

“Can you, though?” Blake said a mocking thoughtfulness. 

“Heeeeeells yeah! Let me at ‘em!” She took two steps forward, then looked at Blake. “You gotta point me in the right direction, though,” she admitted, making Blake bust out laughing. 

“Yang, no!” Ruby scolded. “I think you and I should stay with the professor and Blake should just be a little bit ahead of us.” 

Yang turned to frown at her, then at Professor Goodwitch, then at Ruby again. “But I don’t wanna.” 

“Yeah, well, you gotta! I’m team leader so you have to listen to me!” She placed her hands on her hips and posed heroically for dramatic effect. 

“Yeah, well… I’m your big sister, so you gotta listen to me!” Yang countered, crossing her arms. 

“… Wait, that’s not how this works!” 

Yang grinned triumphantly. “Oh yeah? Do you not remember Dad saying you have to listen to everything I say? He said it, like, six times the day he dropped us off at the airport.” 

“Yeah, but I wasn’t team leader yet!” 

“So? I’m still the big sister. I have supreme executive authority granted to me by Pops. And I say I get to run ahead and fight all the Grimm like a badass.” 

… Darn it. She was right. 

“But-wha-buh… no! I’m calling Dad!” 

Ruby took out her scroll, flipped it open, and… saw she had no service, the red circle and line through the little radio wave symbol in the corner seeming to mock her. 

“Darn it!” 

“Haha!” Yang cheered. She started walking ahead. “Blake, you should totally tell me if I’m going the wrong way, ‘cause otherwise I’ma just keep ooooooon walkin’.” 

“Alright, bye,” Blake grinned. 

“Yang-uh! Wait!” Ruby dashed to get in front of her sister and force her to stop. “New… addamemnum to the exe…cutor… powers. When we’re on a Hunt, I’m in charge! ‘Cause I’m team leader! You can be in charge when we’re doing boring crap, like… anything that’s not a Hunt.” 

Yang placed her hand on her chin in thought. “Hmmm… nope!” 

“Nope?! Whadaya mean, ‘nope’?! You can’t nope that!” 

“Yuh-huh I can! As the Lady Supreme Executor Boss Beoch, I have to approve all edamames to the executive powers!” 

“The word is addamemnum, ya big dumb.” 

“The word is addendum,” Blake sighed. 

“Really? Are you sure?” 

“Mm-hmm.” 

“Oh, well… what she said!” Ruby finished. 

Yang rolled her eyes. “Whatever mang, I have veto powers, that’s all that matters. I also declare that the word is now addamemnoo.” 

“What?! You can’t do that! I veto that!” Ruby bounced angrily in protest. 

“I veto your veto!” 

“B-but my lord, is that legal?” 

Yang grinned. “I will make it legal!” 

“Ladies, however you figure this out, you should resolve it quickly,” Professor Goodwitch spoke up, reminding Ruby that they had an audience. “I believe your teammate has spaced out and wandered off.” 

OH NO! 

Ruby turned and scanned the trees frantically for Weiss. Where was she?!

“Weiiiiiss?!” she yelled in the direction she’d skated off to. 

“… What?!” came a distant reply. 

“Come back a little closer please,” Ruby called back, sighing in relief that her partner hadn’t gotten gored by a Stalker while she was arguing with her sister. 

A few seconds later Weiss came into view, hopping from glyph to glyph back to the group and landing a few feet away with a soft rustle. 

“What’s going on?” 

“They’re being sisters,” Blake explained coolly, backing up and leaning against a tree, crossing her arms like she was getting ready for a long wait. 

Dumb, sassy ninja!

“I’m not being–I’m just being a leader! And Yang’s being a dumb!” 

“Dumb is not a noun, Ruby,” Weiss said. 

“YouknowwhatImean!” 

“True.” 

“Hey!” Yang protested. “I just want to be in formation like last time so I can walk ahead and charge at the bad guys!” 

Weiss looked puzzled. “Sure, I thought that was working okay.” She turned to Ruby. “Are you changing that?” 

“Yeah! I think me and Yang sh–I mean, Yang and I should stay with the professor so we can be more… defensey in case there’s another Stalker sneak attack or something.” 

“Oh. That makes sense,” Weiss stated. 

Ruby pointed at Weiss and looked at her sister. “See?! The smart girl agrees with me!” 

“Wow, okay,” Blake quipped. 

“What deeheck, Weiss?” Yang objected, flailing her hands up in the air dramatically–and goofily. “Doesn’t it make more sense for me to be in front so that if something attacks us, I can take the first hit and then hit back really hard?” 

“Sure, but Ruby’s saying she’s more concerned about an attack from behind, so wouldn’t you need to be there to take the first hit?… And it’s not like you’re really in front anyway. Blake is. Really, you’re in the middle, so you’d be the last one to be attacked.” 

Yang blinked. She raised a hand, pointing her finger at Weiss and opening her mouth to argue, then backtracked. 

Over by her tree, Blake was covering her mouth with a fist, but she was very clearly suppressing down a laugh. 

“B-but I can be in front!” Yang finally spurted out. “Blake can just point me the right way if I get off track!” She looked over at Blake hopefully. 

“Possible,” Blake admitted, “but that sounds like a lot more work… And also very very dumb.” 

Yang pouted. “Your face is very dumb.” 

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m well aware of your opinion on the intellectual aptitude of my face,” Blake sighed. 

The unexpected sound of Weiss giggling broke out from Ruby’s side, that wonderful wind chime noise. But when Yang turned to glare at Weiss, her expression was the picture of innocence, her hands clasped daintily in front of her. 

Okay, so she was feeling better. 

“Fine!” Yang finally conceded, waving her hands around like an ape again. “I’ll stay with Peanut and Professor Grumpywitch!” 

“Ahem,” the professor cut in. 

“Yeah yeah yeah,” Yang grumbled. 

Ruby pumped a fist to celebrate her victory. “Yes! And I’ll take your concession as an explicit agreement that I’m in charge when we’re on Hunts!” 

Implicit,” Weiss and Blake both corrected at the same time, then grinned at each other. 

“Yeah, that too,” Ruby added. 

“You can be in charge of mah boot in yer face,” Yang grumbled, waddling off with her hands in her pockets. 

Ruby wasn’t too worried. When Yang got upsetti spaghetti, she didn’t stay that way for very long. But Ruby wasn’t sure why being in front meant so much to her, though. 

“Yang,” Blake called out. 

Yang turned. 

“That way,” Blake said, pointing. 

Yang glared at her, then quickly picked a stick up from the ground and chucked it at her partner, who danced to the side with a snicker. 

Blake led the way forward and, curiously enough, Weiss decided to walk beside her. 

“You know,” Ruby heard Blake tell Weiss, “we should start a business where we just charge these two chuckleheads whenever we have to correct their grammar. Or just, you know, their words.” 

Weiss nodded in agreement. “I’d hazard a guess that we’d be more profitable than the SDC.” 

Blake busted out laughing at that, and Weiss, after a quick sideways glance her way, bobbed her head side-to-side ever so slightly in what looked suspiciously like a subdued Ruby Happy Wiggle.

Well this was nice. Those two were getting along! That was… a way better outcome than Ruby could have hoped to expect to come from Weiss’ panic attack. 

“By the way,” Blake added, “just so you’re not caught off guard: Yang has declared that the word addendum is now addamemnoo.” 

Weiss shook her head like she was taken aback. “What?” 

“Yep. She has declared it so, which apparently makes it so. So.” 

“Well… that’s ridiculous!” 

Blake shrugged nonchalantly. “That’s a conversation you’ll have to have with Yang and Ember Celica, so… good luck.” 

Weiss turned to glance back at Yang just as Yang through another stick at Blake that bounced off the girl’s shoulder, prompting her to scamper ahead with another laugh. When Yang picked up another stick and looked at Weiss, Weiss’ eyes went wide and she bounded after Blake on a series of glyphs with an “eep!” 

Once they got about thirty feet ahead, Blake slowed down to match their pace again and the two girls started talking again. At one point, Blake pointed off to their left at the wall of ice Weiss had made that was still standing tall, and Weiss nodded and gave a big long response. 

Ruby smiled, happy they were getting along. 

Then she looked over at Sulky Yang, who was also watching their two partners, trudging along beside her and realized she had some more Happiness Sharing to do. 

“Hey,” she said, bumping her shoulder into her sister’s bicep. “Wassup?” 

Yang’s pouty face got deeper, but she kept her eyes on the two girls ahead of them. “I don’t want to be on guard duty, Ruby. I want to be on charge duty!” 

“You still are! If a Grimm shows up, you can still charge at ‘em! You just start from back here.” 

Yang huffed. “Sure. Whatever. If they get hurt ‘cause I’m not close enough to protect them in time, though, then I’m gonna hold you upside down by your ankles and spin you around until you get stuck permanently dizzy.” 

Ah. There it was. This was all about Mama Bear Yang. She didn’t want to be in front because she wanted to get hit first, she wanted to be in front to make sure nobody else was.

She reached up and patted Yang on the back. “They’ll be fine, Yangarang,” she said, using one of Mom’s nicknames. “They’re tough cookies.” 

“If they were cookies you would have eaten them already,” Yang said with a small smile. 

“True,” Ruby agreed, nodding sagely. 

“It’s just… I dunno, Ruby, if that giant death cat was any indication, there are some pretty big, hard hitting Grimm out here. And they might be tough but I don’t think either of them is that tough.” 

“Well Blake doesn’t even need to be tough, nothing can touch her anyway,” Ruby consoled her sister. “And if something jumps at ‘em, Weiss can do some crazy wizard crap to stall for you to get there.” 

“You sure she won’t just freeze up and start shaking again?” Yang asked, glancing at Ruby with a worried frown that told Ruby the question came from genuine concern and not a desire to poke fun at their teammate. 

After a moment, Ruby shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out.” 

No, she wasn’t sure Weiss wouldn’t panic again. She was pretty sure Weiss wasn’t sure about that either. But she was determined to try, and that was all that mattered. If not today, then someday in the future she’d be able to stare down hordes of Grimm fearlessly. It was the team’s job to help her get there. Ruby’s job. 

“I don’t like gambling our teammates’ safety, Ruby.” 

Ruby sighed. “I know. I don’t either. But she’s gotta get used to this somehow, right?” 

“So let her get used to it from back here! If she does freeze up, she’s going to be in trouble, and she’s going to put Blake in trouble too. At least back here she’d have Professor Goodwitch to help if something goes really wrong.” 

They both looked back at the professor then, who was watching them silently, intently, and gave them a curt nod of affirmation. 

“If any of you should be in danger, I would of course step in to help,” she stated matter-of-factly. 

That was reassuring. “Alright,” she told Yang. “Give it a little while, then you can go swap to outrunning or whatever, send Weiss back here. Just… give her a few minutes to build her confidence back up, ‘kay? I don’t want her thinking we’re trying to baby her or anything.” 

“… Yeah, that’s fair,” Yang conceded, then let out a heavy sigh and stretched to mark the end of that topic. “Nice job back there, by the way. We still got da moves.” She held a hand out to fist bump, and Ruby happily grabbed it and wiggled it around with a giggle. 

“That Layup into Slice-and-Dice was so cool!” she cooed. 

“Mhm. Oh! And I forgot to tell Weiss thanks for those glyphs!” Yang realized. “Those were sweet! I got turned into a Yang Rocket!” 

Ruby grinned at that. “You should tell her that,” she said. Weiss needed all the positive reinforcement she could get. 

“I will. Also, did you see Blake jumpin’ around and executin’ those hoes like a sexy little ninja? That was awesome!” 

Not exactly the word choice Ruby would have picked, but she was happy that her sister was happy with her partner. “Her freaking ribbons are crazy cool, yo,” she replied. 

“I know, right! When she, like, chokelined that charging Beowolf for me to cave its chest in? That was, like, super awesome synergy or whatever.” 

“Not as sweet as our Tree Attack!” Ruby reminded her sister, who laughed. 

“Oh yeah, that was epic. What should we call that? I wanna do it again.” 

“… Not… Tree Attack?” Ruby guessed. 

Yang rolled her eyes. “No, probably not Tree Attack, Ruby.” 

“Darn. Uuuuum…. What about Ent Smash?” 

“I feel like that might be copyrighted.” 

“Hmph.” 

“But the author has no idea how copyright laws work, so Ent Smash it is!” 

Ruby grinned, then pouted. “That’s basically synonymous with Tree Attack, you know,” she grumped. 

Yang quirked a bemused eyebrow at her. “Weiss is right, you’re a total dolt.” 

“Yeah, well… yer face!” 

“Darn. Ya done got me, Peanut,” Yang smiled, pulling Ruby in for a sideways hug as they walked. 

“Yeah I did.” 

A few minutes passed as they just walked together in silent company. 

“Hey, what are they doing?” Ruby piped up, noticing that up ahead Blake and Weiss were crouching behind a boulder and a tree. It looked like the ground fell away a few feet past them, too. Was there a canyon or something up ahead?

Yang let go of Ruby and clicked out her gauntlets and Ruby followed suit, unholstering Crescent Rose and letting the beautiful weapon of awesomeness unfurl. The sound was apparently loud enough for Blake to hear, ‘cause she turned to them at that moment and gestured them forward, then put a finger to her lips. 

There was something up ahead. 

Yang immediately rushed forward, crouching low and moving as quietly as possible over a forest floor covered with leaves and branches–which is to say, not all that quietly. Ruby followed a bit slower so she could stay closer to the professor. 

She ran up to join Yang and Blake behind the boulder because it had more room to hide behind than the tree Weiss was at. Before them was indeed a canyon, about fifty feet deep and forty feet across, running almost perpendicular across their path as far as Ruby could see. The rock faces on either side were really rough, making the geography feel almost unnatural, like someone had taken a giant Crescent Rose and just gouged a crevasse into the earth. 

A freaky thought. 

“Look,” Blake whispered, pointing down. 

Ruby followed her gaze to find two Nevermores, bigger than freaking school buses, down on the floor of the canyon. They seemed to be eating a… 

“Is that a snake?” Ruby whispered incredulously. It was huge! It was almost King Taijitu size but clearly not a Grimm. Its scales were mottled brown and red, though maybe the red was blood? It was very, very dead, after all. 

“A dire constrictor,” Blake whispered back. “It’s the not-corrupted version of a King Taijitu.” 

“How many freaking giant monsters are in these woods?!” Yang exclaimed in a hush. 

“A lot,” Professor Goodwitch answered academically. 

“What should we do?” Weiss asked. She looked alarmed, but not… panicky. That was good. 

“We took out one Nevermore before, but it was a lot of work,” Blake thought out loud. “I’m not sure we could take two, but we do have the drop on them.” 

Yang crossed the fingers of her hands together and pushed outwards, stretching, and cracked her neck side to side. “We can take ‘em.” 

“Yang, chill for a sec,” Blake said. 

You chill for a sec!” 

“I am chill!” 

“Guys!” Weiss interrupted. 

“Sorry,” Blake acquiesced. “We could sneak around them?” 

“We don’t know how far this canyon goes, though,” Weiss countered. “If we plan to walk all the way around it, that might take too long.” 

“You could get us across though, Weiss,” Ruby pointed out. “Just make us a stairflake bridge. Bridgeflakes? Glyphbridge?” 

“Oh, that’s true,” Weiss realized, blinking like she was surprised she hadn’t thought of that herself. 

“So we could walk along the canyon edge until we’re out of sight of the killer birds and then bridge across?” Blake summarized. 

Ruby nodded. 

“I’m not sure I like leaving two Nevermores behind us,” Yang said. 

“You’re just saying that because you want to fight them,” Weiss accused her. 

“No!” Yang defended herself. “For real! Remember what we learned in Porkybutt’s class? Nevermore’s have hella good hearing. If we leave them behind us and get in a fight on the other side of the canyon, there’s a decent chance they’ll come after us.” 

“But they’re also extremely territorial, even against other species of Grimm, remember?” Weiss argued. “There’s a very good chance these are the only Grimm we’ll see for quite a while.” 

“Miss Xiao Long, did you just call one of your prestigious Beacon professors… Porkybutt?” Professor Goodwitch spoke up, looking both offended and amused at the same time. 

Yang gulped. “Oh, uh… no. No I did not. You must have misheard me. That’s a really funny nickname though. One that somebody that isn’t one of his students that needs to make good grades in his class might totally use. Hypothetically.” 

Professor Goodwitch narrowed her eyes at Yang. 

“So!” Blake exclaimed. “What’s the plan?” 

Everyone turned to Ruby. 

“Oh!” Right. Plan. Team leader. Yikes. “Ummm… Weiss, how big is a… flock? A flock of Nevermores?” 

“I thought there were only ever up to two together in an area,” Blake said, to which Weiss nodded. 

“Two max, barring weirdness like the hyper-condensed Grimm population in Mountain Glenn,” she confirmed. 

“Okay, so it should just be these two?” Ruby asked, waiting for a nod before proceeding. “‘Kay. So let’s head left–uh, west? Right? Which way are we facing?” 

Blake rolled her eyes with a smile. “That way’s north,” she said, pointing across the canyon at a bit of an angle. “So yeah, if we go left along the canyon that would be west-northwest-ish.” 

“Right. Yeah, duh, west-northwest-ish, Ruby,” Yang teased. “C’mon.” 

Blake swatted at Yang’s arm and Yang stuck her tongue out at her in response. 

“Alright, then we’ll go with what Blake said earlier,” Ruby decided. “We’ll go wes–left and once we’re far enough away that we won’t risk the Neverbutts seeing us, we’ll cross with Weiss’ glyphs. Sound good?” 

There were nods all around, though Yang’s was somewhat begrudging and she was pouting just a bit. Ruby looked at the professor, looking for some sort of affirmation from an adult, but Professor Goodwitch just met her gaze impassively and blinked. 

Darn it.’

Oh well. She’d just have to hope it was a good plan. The professor would totally stop them if it was a bad plan, right? Or would she just let them do a bad plan and learn the hard way? 

She seemed like the type to do that. 

Welp. With the information she had on how Nevermores were territorial and came in no more than two, this felt like the best option to Ruby. Fighting two of these things seemed to be a little much. 

“There’s a big ol’ wall right there,” Yang grumbled. “Just sayin’. We could totally do that Reverse Guillotine shit again.” 

“Language,” the professor admonished. 

Hm. Yang had a good point. The Reverse Guillotine was the most epic scene in any anime ever, but being written and without Red Like Roses Pt. 2 jamming in the background, it probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as cool…

“We could only do that one at a time, Yang, assuming we can even get one of them against the wall,” Blake said gently. “And we’d have to deal with the other in the meantime.” 

“Yeaaaah,” Yang finally relented. “Alright. Let’s be chickens.” 

“We’re not being chickens, we’re being… strategically cautious,” Weiss corrected. 

“Strategic chickens!” 

“Ugh!” Weiss huffed. “Whatever, let’s go.” 

Blake led the way, the group staying all together as they ran along the forest edge by the lip of the canyon. After about three minutes the Nevermores were two tiny black dots off in the distance. 

“Alright, we should be good here,” Ruby announced. “Weiss, if you would be so kind.” She gave her partner an encouraging smile that made Weiss raise her chin proudly. 

“Of course.” She made an elegant, wavey gesture with her hand and a line of grey glyphs appeared, one after the other, each about five feet across, spanning the gap of the canyon. 

“Stairflakes!” Ruby cheered, immediately running up to and halfway across the bridge before stopping. Nervous spikes of vertigo shot through her when she looked down and saw the massive drop beneath her and the thin layer of magical something-or-other that was all that was between her and a very long fall. She shook it off, though. No reason to be worried! Weiss wouldn’t drop her, and even if she did, Ruby’s semblance made falls like that not even a concern. 

As Ruby hopped up and down a bit, Weiss began following her across.

“C’mon, guys!” Ruby called to the other two girls and their professor. “It’s totally safe!” 

Yang and Blake both approached slowly, Yang leading by putting a hesitant foot onto the greyflake in front of her, then another so that she was totally suspended in the air by Weiss’ magic. 

“This is not okay, dude,” Ruby heard her sister mutter. 

They all started walking slowly across, the professor going last and giving the glyphs a curious, studious inspection before stepping onto them. 

Ruby ran all the way across the bridge, stepped onto the ground on the far side of the canyon, then ran back to Weiss, who was now halfway across. “This is awesome!” she chirped. 

Weiss’ smile was proud and appreciative. “Thank you,” she said softly. “Though please stop being a hyperactive dolt for a little bit while everyone gets acro–” 

“*SCRAAAAW!*” 

The terrible cry of a Nevermore echoed through the canyon, and everyone immediately turned towards the two dots in the distance. 

One of the dots launched into the sky, quickly followed by the second with another loud screech that bounced off the rocky walls. 

Were they…? 

They were getting bigger. 

They were coming this way. 

“No fucking way!” Yang yelled. “How did they see us?!” 

“Language,” the professor said again. “And you should have learned in Professor Port’s class that Nevermores have very good eyesight.” 

“I didn’t think it was that good!” Weiss cried out in despair. 

“Well, now you know,” Professor Goodwitch replied simply. 

‘Crap.’

“Everyone go back to that side!” Ruby shouted, pointing back to the side that over half of the group was closest to. 

The professor turned and jogged back, followed by Blake and Yang who were practically sprinting. Weiss summoned a white glyph to the side of the bridge and stepped onto it, launching herself the full distance to the ledge, leaving the bridge in place for Ruby to run across. 

Once they were all grouped up, Weiss spoke up in a worried voice, “Now what?” She looked at Ruby, and Ruby in turn looked at the professor, who continued to look frustratingly impassive. 

“What do we do?!” Ruby cried at her. She wasn’t scared of any dumb Nevermores, but those things could hurt her friends and sister and that was not okay. And her team was looking to her for answers.  

The professor remained calm despite there were two freaking Nevermores less than twenty seconds away. 

“I don’t know, what do you think we should do?” she asked. 

“Is this really a teaching moment?!” Yang burst out angrily. 

“Very much so,” she answered. “The most valuable lesson you can learn as a huntress is how to deal with losing or hopeless situations. Now calm yourselves and focus. I believe you’re capable of handling this.” 

Well… that was a nice vote of confidence. 

Okay. What do, Ruby Rose, what do? 

So the obvious issue was fighting two flyers out in the open. Especially when Ruby was the only one that could reliably reach them and she was the one with the greatest ranged power. They needed cover from the Nevermores featherstorms and a way for Blake and Yang–Yang particularly, since she was their hardest hitter–to reach them without having to rely on Weiss glyphs trying to help them get to moving targets in the air. 

The trees were the obvious solution for the cover, and if the Nevermores flew low enough, Blake might be able to reach them by jumping from the canopy. Leaves and branches weren’t reliable as far as cover went, though. They needed something more substantial like…

“The cave!” 

Ruby turned to look at Blake, who blinked once, then nodded in understanding. 

“Go!” Ruby shouted. “Follow Blake!” 

The cave that they’d found the last group of Grimm in would be perfect shelter for them to bunker down and figure out a more substantial plan for dealing with this. It was pretty far, though. It would be at least a couple minutes of hard running while taking fire from above. 

Ruby needed to distract the Nevermores. 

The group had followed her orders, now sprinting together into the forest following Blake, who hopefully would be able to navigate them to where they needed to go. The Nevermores were bearing down, now very much not tiny dots. 

Ruby sent a couple shots up at the one on the right, and though she was a thousand percent sure she hit them both, the big dumb chicken didn’t give any reaction beyond squawking at her angrily. 

Dumb chickens. 

Remembering what happened the last time she got featherstormed, Ruby tucked some of the fabric of her cape into her belt to subdue its flapping and hopefully keep her from being pinned down again. 

“Ruby, come on!” she heard Yang shout. She turned to see Yang waiting for her a little ways into the room. 

“Go!” Ruby repeated urgently. “I’m stalling them!” 

“WHAT?!” Yang shouted, barreling back toward her. “No fucking way am I leaving you here!” 

“G–” 

Another high-pitched scraw, loud enough now from proximity that Ruby could feel her eardrums shaking, rang out, and Ruby looked up just in time to see one of the dumb chickens beat its wings powerfully, launching a volley of spikey feather projectiles of dumb chickeness down at her. 

This time she was watching, though, and the shotgun attack was wide and inaccurate. Even though the projectiles were moving at near-bullet speed, Ruby was able to watch the two that were actually going to hit her. She pirouetted to the side to avoid one, in the same motion swinging Crescent Rose to bat the other to the side. 

Easy. 

One was going to hit Yang, who was still running to Ruby, but Yang saw it coming and just punched the point out of the air angrily. 

Her hair was on fire and her eyes were a matching, flaming red. 

“Yang, go!” Ruby repeated. “I’ll catch up!” 

As she shouted this, a shadow descended down on her, and she blurred to her right just in time to avoid getting crushed by the divebomb of the second Nevermore, who let out another deafening screech–or it would have been deafening, but in the Rose dimension it sounded muted and tame. 

Unfortunately, the Nevermore’s wide wingspan meant that Ruby didn’t get quite far enough to the side to avoid getting caught under the slam of its wings as it crashed into the ground, though the impact was dulled by the effect of her semblance enough that she merely stumbled down to her knees from the weight. She rolled to the side and pushed herself up into a half-crouch, which was as tall as she could stand from where she was caught under the tent of a Nevermore wing. 

She popped out of her semblance as she threw a wide, powerful swing into the Nevermore’s side. The thing’s stupid feathers were made out of carbon steel or something because Crescent Rose’s tip simply skipped off the surface, and it was heavy enough that the impact barely nudged it. 

“Run, Ruby!” Yang shouted, charging toward the currently grounded Nevermore. 

“You run! I can outrun them, you can’t! Go while I buy time!” 

“I’m not leaving you here!” 

The Nevermore on top of Ruby lunged forward, snapping its beak at Yang, but Yang dashed to the side and punched it in the side of its face, eliciting a slight rocking and an angry *skraw!*

“I don’t need you to protect me, Yang!” 

“Yes. You. Do!” 

Yang accentuated each word with a full tilt punch into the Nevermore’s chest. Each one made it take a small step back, and the third sent it slipping clumsily off the edge of the cliff, its head and body slamming down on the ledge and making the ground shake. It tipped backwards and fell over the ledge, but was able to push off the face of the cliff and twist in the air to get its wings under it before it hit the ground. 

There was a familiar *thwip thwip thwip* noise that Ruby recognized as another featherstorm and, not knowing where the first Nevermore was to know which way to dodge, she simply blurred into the Rose Dimension, hoping that would be enough to protect her. 

It was. One feather slammed into her back with enough force that she was slammed down to her knees again, though it did hardly any damage to her aura. 

Yang didn’t have a way to cheat damage, though, and when one of the feathers hit her shoulder, knocking her down and making her aura flicker, she cried out in alarm. 

Crap. 

If these feathers could make Yang flicker… Well, the only thing Ruby had ever seen that could do that was a shot from Crescent Rose, and if Yang was focusing on keeping her aura up then even that wouldn’t do it. So these feathers were hitting in the same ballpark as a high caliber sniper round. 

To add to the worry, when Yang flickered she lost any energy she built up from her semblance, so now she didn’t even have a super punch to trade back. 

The ground all around them was now littered with so many feathers speared into the dirt that it was practically an extra, mini forest. Ruby threaded her way through the feathers–which, when she brushed past them, did indeed feel like they were made of flexible steel–to get to her sister’s side and help her up. 

“Yang, go,” she demanded one last time. “I’m okay, I promise. I’ll be right behind you.” 

Yang’s eyes, now back to their pure lilac, flickered from Ruby to the Nevermore circling back around overhead to the one rising back up out of the canyon, then at Ruby again. “You better be. If you’re not running into that cave literally on my heels, I’m turning around to chase you down and beat you up myself.” 

Ruby gave her a small smile. “I know,” she said, giving her sister a kiss on the cheek. “And you could totally, one hundred percent catch me.” 

“Damn straight.” Yang pushed herself to her feet with Ruby’s not-very-helpful help, then started jogging back after the group. “Be a badass, Rubes!” she called behind her, her voice hitching to betray how torn she really was right now. 

“Always!” Ruby called back before turning to face her enemies, the evil chickens of doom. 

They were both now circled back toward her. She needed to buy a little time out here for Yang to get some distance, then she could start darting through the trees and try to use that cover to her advantage. 

She cracked her neck from side to side like Yang did, then crouched low, ready to spring into action as the two massive monsters flew down towards her. 

The second Nevermore stopped this time to featherstorm her while the other started to divebomb, and Ruby waited until it was committed to the wingbeat before making her move. 

She slipped into the Rose Dimension and gave to long, powerful bounds sideways that carried her an easy fifteen feet to put the dive bombing Nevermore between her and the featherstorm. The volley impaled the ground around where she had been, making the forest of feathers even denser–to the point Ruby figured it would be next to impossible to run through. 

She jumped up and kicked her semblance into overdrive, that familiar thrumming through her heart increasing in intensity as she flew up to and past the diving Nevermore, all the while continuing to climb the fifty feet it took to get above the second Nevermore. She dropped down onto its back as it squawked in what Ruby imagined was surprise, or whatever the Grimm equivalent of such an emotion would be. Grurprise?

She knew from experience and class that Nevermores were vulnerable on the underside of their neck and at the joints of their wings, and a bit on their legs. No way she could reach the legs from here regardless, but the neck… 

Precariously trying to keep her balance, she ran up the Nevermore’s back to try to get to a position where she could hook Crescent Rose around its neck, but then it rolled in the air and she slipped off, plummeting through the air. Her beautiful weapon almost slipped from her hands, too, but she quickly reached out to snag it with her off-hand too before transitioning into Rose Form and rocketing down at the first Nevermore that had hit the ground a couple seconds ago and was spreading its wings to lift off again. 

This was her chance! 

She began spinning, trying to build up enough momentum for the attack to work, and aimed for the wing joint as she flew. She slipped out of Rose Form so she could fall with the full force of gravity for the last few feet, but then she heard another *thwip thwip thwip!* above and behind her and was forced to slip back into her semblance right before she got knocked around by another volley of feathers. 

Plenty of the projectiles hit the grounded Nevermore but just bounced off of it harmlessly. 

Well poop. 

Ruby was able to force herself up from the ground before she hit it and landed on the first Nevermores back, trying to go for the decapitation again. The monster beat its wings and took off, though, and once again Ruby was sent tumbling off of its back. 

No good. She was only able to line up the attack against the Nevermore she Reverse Guillotined because Weiss had frozen it in place. 

Oh well. Yang should have had enough time to get decently ahead of her now, so she could run to the forest. 

She did so, dashing behind a tree just in time to take cover from another salvo of chicken feathers. 

Right. So she could run now, and she was going to need to move fast to stay ahead of the dumb chickens, but she couldn’t run straight after her team ‘cause then she and the Nevermores would catch up to them. 

So zig-zags. Serpentine! 

That description felt a little macabre considering what the Nevermores had been doing to that giant snake just a couple minutes ago. 

Ruby shook the image away and focused on moving. She zigged a bit and zagged a bit, doing her best to look and listen for any more featherstorms. 

Luckily, the Nevermores, while big and fast and tough and strong, were not ones for stealth or subtlety, and they gave Ruby ample amounts of caws and screeches for her to keep track of where they were above her, making figuring out which direction to take cover from rather simple. 

She kept up the evasion for a few minutes, to the point where she was getting physically tired and relying on her semblance more and more. She’d burned through a decent chunk of her aura now–enough that she was a bit concerned for the next three to five hours after this. And Crescent Rose, as perfect and wonderful as she was, was not a lightweight, so Ruby’s left arm was starting to burn. 

‘Time to rejoin the team,’ she decided, then she stopped. 

… Wait, where was the team? 

She’d been zigging and zagging too much! She totally lost track of where she was!

CRAP. 

‘Okayokayokay, it’s okay, Ruby Rose. You can figure this out.’

The cave had marked the center of a small clearing in the forest, so if she could get up high enough, she could look around for the nearest break in the trees and there was a good chance that would be it, right?

She glanced up. Well, there wouldn’t be any issues getting high enough. She had access to a quite literal bird’s eye view. 

‘Kay, time to get crazy. She’d ridden on a Nevermore a couple weeks ago, getting up on one and holding on long enough to look around would be no big deal.  

She mentally flicked the aura switch in Crescent Rose to compact it back to carry mode and holstered it on her back. Having it out for this next part wouldn’t be necessary. 

She crouched low, crossed into the Rose Dimension, and then leapt up, just the jump by itself carrying her twenty feet into the air. In order to save on some aura, she elected not to go straight to flying, instead making her way up by jumping from branch to branch, her semblance’s weird effect on her physics allowing her to land on and spring off of branches that normal wouldn’t be able to ever support her weight. 

A couple bounds and one big jump later and Ruby was clearing the canopy of the forest, sailing right up to and in between the two Nevermores who gave almost comical squawks of surprise. 

Ruby pushed herself that little bit extra for flight to get up on top of one, then landed and gripped onto it tightly with all four limbs, dropping her semblance so she could see into the distance more clearly–everything kinda faded to red after a certain point in the Rose Dimension. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t very easy to see a clearing anywhere around her. The trees all looked pretty much the same and the gap in them, if there was one to look for, apparently wasn’t super noticeable. It didn’t help that the Nevermore she was on top of was balking and bawking trying to shake her off. 

It was pretty hard to make perception checks as a bobblehead. 

Well this wasn’t working. 

Maybe she could use her semblance to fly up really high and then cut it off and look around while she was free falling? That wouldn’t work though, right? The wind would hit her eyes and make them water. But wait, her aura would block that, so maybe it would work! 

Hm. 

She could also just run around shouting “Marco” and wait until she heard a teammate yell “Polo”…

That was probably not the best idea. 

Just then a flash of blue to her left caught her attention and she turned to see… 

“Whooooa,” she breathed. 

A large explosion of icy blue was radiating up in the sky, a trail of iridescent Dust leading down to a point in the forest. 

‘Weiss sent up a flare,’ she realized. 

That… was freaking dope. 

The light got the attention of the Nevermores too, and they both turned to give it curious squawks. A moment passed, then they both took off toward it. 

Well, at least Ruby had a free ride. 

The Nevermores turned what would have been a three minute run into a thirty second flight. Being the idiot chickens they were, though, when they got to the shimmering blue crystals that were still suspended in the sky, floating slowly downward, they stopped to look at those instead of following the trail to the ground. 

“Ha! Later, ya dumb chickens,” Ruby quipped before letting go of the Nevermore she was riding to start plummeting toward the ground. 

She’d been right about her aura protecting her eyes from windshear, so at least there was that. 

The dumb chickens both squawked in surprise at the reminder that Ruby had been there, and after a short delay she could hear the wingbeats above her of them diving after her in pursuit. 

The sound of another featherstorm rang out and Ruby immediately slipped into her semblance and peeled to the side, dodging everything but apparently the last darn feather, which hit the bottom of her foot and made her spin out. Her semblance weakening gravity’s pull on her also meant the bird that hadn’t stopped to launch the volley was gaining on her. 

She dropped her semblance to let gravity take over again (and also ‘cause she was getting dangerously low on aura at this point), and the air friction helped to stabilize her spinning. She could feel her cape flapping around against her back and legs and was willing to bet she looked really freaking cool right now. 

Falling from the sky in a streamlined pose, cape flapping in the wind, two Nevermores diving down after her? That was an action movie sequence right there if she’d ever seen one. Step aside, Captain Vale. Ruby Rose is in da house. 

From below her, Ruby saw four streaks of blue light blast out and up towards her, each one chiming out a crystalline tinkle as she whooshed by them. Above her, she heard four separate crashes like ice shattering and the Nevermores croaking in dismay. 

Weiss was freaking awesome. 

Ruby honed in on the spot where the ice missiles had come from and, sure enough, a couple seconds later she was close enough that she could make out Weiss herself. 

Now that she could see it from above, Ruby realized why this cave had been impossible to spot from far away. The clearing of trees was only out to a couple dozen feet in front of the cave, and the cave itself was just a scoop out of a raised bit of rock in the forest, so there were trees on top of it, too. No way she could have seen this. 

Okayokayokay, time to focus. Now was her chance for an epic super hero landing. 

She whipped out Crescent Rose and unfurled it, preparing to stab it into the top of the cave. She could use it to slow her momentum as she carved a line down to the ground. It would be awesome!

Apparently she wasn’t account for, like, physics or something, though, because when she got to the point twenty feet above the ground where the top of the cave was, she swung Crescent Rose into the rock. It worked, biting deep into the stone, but Ruby kept falling and her grip on her weapon was evidently not strong enough. Crescent Rose jerked to a stop and Ruby got yanked around before letting go and falling with a scared yelp. 

She managed to slip into her semblance just before she hit the ground, which probably saved her from going splat into a Ruby pancake. The impact still hurt like heck, though, and she landed on her back and had the wind knocked out of her painfully. 

“Aaagh,” she moaned. 

“Ruby!” she heard Weiss and Yang both cry out from somewhere nearby-but-also-in-the-distance, but her vision was so blurred she might as well have had her eyes closed, so she couldn’t see them. 

She felt something wrap around her arm, though it was a dulled, muted sensation that didn’t make much sense. 

“Ruby, turn off your semblance!” she heard Yang yell. 

‘What?… Oh.’

Ruby poofed back into the real world, and while that helped her vision clear up a bit, it did nothing to ease the pain in her back or help her lungs not feel like they’d been turned inside out. 

“Aaaagh,” she repeated. 

“Ruby, can you hear me?!” she heard Yang shout, though now that her semblance wasn’t diluting and filtering the noise, the volume was a lot higher than it was before. 

“Looooouuud,” she groaned. 

“They’re coming back!” she heard Blake cry out from nearby. 

“Get her inside!” Weiss yelled. 

The sensation on Ruby’s arm–that had apparently been Yang’s hand–moved around to just under her shoulder, then a similar feeling appeared under her other shoulder. 

‘Hehehe, two Yangs,’ she thought. 

Wait, no. Yang had two arms, didn’t she? 

Did Ruby have two arms?

She wiggled and, yep, two arms. Nice. 

Yang started dragging her backwards and Ruby dimly pieced together what was happening. 

“Noooo, Creshha Rooose,” she mourned, reaching out with both hands to flail them, trying to grab her weapon. Wait, she was still at the top of the cave. Were Ruby’s arms long enough to reach her? 

… Mayyyybe. 

She flailed some more. 

Yang pulled her into the darkness of a cave, then there was a familiar *thwip thwip thwip!* sound. What was that noise again? 

It was immediately followed by a musical ringing and a wall of blue filled Ruby’s vision, and it radiated cold. A bunch of thunking noises followed soon after. 

The blueness blocked off the entrance to the cave, though, including sunlight, and everything got a lot darker, only weird fractals of blue light coming through the wall illuminating anything. 

“Nice, Weiss,” she heard Blake say. 

“Hehe, rhyme,” Ruby snickered. 

A piercing shriek made the entire world vibrate, earthquake style, and the huge form of a giant chicken slammed into the blueness–ice! It was ice! 

The impact made Weiss and Blake both yelp in surprise, but Ruby just chuckled. 

“Angry bird,” she giggled, pointing. 

“Oh dear,” Weiss muttered. 

“Ruby, are you okay?” Yang asked from where she now was leaning over Ruby’s face. 

“Hehehe. Yerrrr momma,” Ruby replied. 

“Is AWOL, yeah. Did you get some brain damage from that fall?” Yang scooped Ruby up by the shoulders and hugged her close, and Ruby snuggled in and got comfy. “I promised I’d beat you up if you weren’t behind me, but if I beat you up while you’re brain dead then I’ll feel really bad.” 

“Yer fashe isss brain derrd!” she chirped back. 

The angry chicken on the other side of the ice wall squawked angrily and pecked at the ice.

“May I examine her for a moment?” she heard Professor GoobyWomp ask. 

Yang shuffled Ruby around a bit and suddenly she found the professor’s face leaning over her. 

“Miss Rose, is your vision blurry?” 

Ruby shook her head. “… Onlyyyy da par’s that I can see,” she giggled. 

The professor was looking at her eyes. Like, really looking. It was kinda creepy. 

“Do you know where you are?” 

“Um… A chicken… cave. No! A burr cave. Wit’ chicken neighbors.” 

“She seems to have a concussion,” the professor concluded. 

“Are you sure?” Blake asked. “Sounds a bit like standard Ruby.” 

“Blake, not now,” Yang scolded. 

“Sorry! Injecting humor into serious situations is supposed to be your job, but you’re slacking!” 

‘Slacking is a funny word,’ Ruby thought. 

“Don’t worry, Miss Xiao Long,” Professor GabbleWabble said. “Her aura will repair the damage shortly.” 

“How long?” 

“Anywhere from five to thirty minutes, I’d guess. Until then, keep her head propped up and enjoy her rambles.” 

“Ramble bamble,” Ruby added to clarify. 

The dull thunks of the chicken’s pecking kept resounding through the cave. 

“Ruby, you absolute dolt,” she heard Weiss say from somewhere behind Yang. “Why didn’t you use your semblance to land instead of whatever the Crucible that nonsense was?!” 

“Ssssuperhero!” Ruby answered succinctly. 

“What?” Blake responded. 

“Yang, translate,” Weiss demanded. 

Yang sighed. “She probably just wanted to do an epic superhero landing to look really cool.” 

“Ah…” Weiss said. “And instead she fell on her butt and knocked her brain into the future. Good.” 

“Not defending it,” Yang chuckled lightly. “Just explaining.” 

“I’m from da future?” Ruby asked, really confused now. 

Yang sighed again. “Yep, you came from an alternate timeline where you were born brainless. How ‘bout you have some quiet time and focus on channeling your aura into that empty head of yours?” She hugged Ruby close again at that. 

“Tha’s pretty cool,” Ruby remarked. She was a time traveler!

“Mhm,” Yang replied. “Now focus on healing, ya lil’ doof.” 

“No, you.” 

“Blake’s right, this sounds like standard Ruby,” Weiss joked. 

“Well well well, someone made a Weisscrack,” Yang said dryly. 

Ruby giggled. “Weisscrack. Hehehe. It’s like wisecrack… but… Weiss.” 

Yang patted the side of her head. “Good job, Ruby. You done figured it out.” 

“Hehe, thanks.” 

The pecking noise stopped and the angry chicken gave one more angry squawk at them, then whooshed away. 

“I guess we’re hanging out here for a bit?” Blake concluded. 

“Guess so,” Yang answered. “Weiss, can you make another wall on the other side? This cave goes way too deep for me to be comfortable with us just sittin’ here.” 

“I… I’d prefer to save my Dust, if possible? We still have two Nevermores to deal with and a long journey after that.” 

“If we had some light, Weiss and I could check it out and make sure we’re alone,” Blake offered. 

“That sounds dangerous,” Weiss said. 

“Only if we’re not alone,” Blake countered. “And if that’s the case, wouldn’t you want to know?”

“Aaaalieeeeens,” Ruby added. 

There was a brief pause during which Ruby was pretty sure Weiss audibly rolled her eyes. “I’d want to not be wandering around in a dark, creepy Grimm cave,” Weiss answered. “But… you’re right. It’s a moot point though because we don’t have a light source.” 

“Did none of you bring any white Dust crystals?” the professor asked. 

There was a long silence as Ruby’s teammates all looked at each other. 

“Ooooh, yer in troooubllle!” Ruby taunted. 

“Shush, Ruby,” Yang told her. “Keep healing.” 

Oh right, her aura. Ruby started focusing really hard on amplifying the aura to her arm. 

Wait, why her arm? Was there something wrong with her arm?

She double checked. They were both still there. Could aura grow an arm back? Maybe she should test that. 

But wait, if her arm was okay, what was she supposed to be auraing? What had Yang said?… ‘That empty head of yours’? 

Haha! Her head. 

She started focusing her aura to her head. 

“In the future, you should each have at least one white Dust crystal with you,” Professor GlobbyWoop lectured. “The likelihood that you encounter a Grimm pool while you’re out in the field is decently high and you should always have a means to destroy it… Also, it would be helpful to have a light source at a time like this.” 

“… Sorry, Professor,” Weiss eventually said for them. 

“Don’t worry, girls. This is part of learning. All that being said, I brought a couple crystals with me, should you like to use one here.” 

There was another pause, then Blake said, “Whadaya say, Weiss? Want to do some scouting with me?” 

“… Sure?” she answered, sound super duper not confident. 

“We could always just make another ice wall,”  Yang grumbled. 

“We do not kneel!” Ruby chirped. 

“Aren’t you a little curious what’s in here?” Blake asked. 

“No?” Yang replied incredulously. “It’s a fucking cave, Blake. It’ll have cave shit in it.” 

Language, Miss Xiao Long.” 

“If there was anything lurking in this cave, I would have heard it by now, Yang. Relax. I just wanna look around. You’re welcome to come with me if you want to leave Weiss with Ruby.” 

“I’m not leaving my sister.” 

“Alright,” Weiss interrupted. “How confident are you that nothing’s in here, Blake?” 

“Unless there’s a random Stalker lurking in here, one hundred percent.” 

“Kitty!” Ruby chimed in. “Bring a yernball.” 

“I-is that a thing, Professor?” Weiss asked. “Do Stalkers live in caves?” 

“Not so far as I’m aware,” she answered. 

“Okay… Okay, let’s do it,” Weiss said, this time with conviction. “Scouting mission.” 

“You two are supposed to be the careful ones,” Yang muttered. 

“We are,” Blake said. “Which is why we’ll be fine.” 

“Whatever,” Yang grumbled. 

“We’ll be back in a bit, Yang, promise,” Blake said, walking over to give Yang’s shoulder a squeeze. 

“Could you go with them, Professor?” Yang asked. 

“Hm… A useless civilian wouldn’t really go trekking deep into a Grimm cave to scout with you, but… I suppose here it’s a bit more appropriate. Yes, I’ll accompany them.” 

Yang heaved a sigh of relief. “Okay, good.” 

“Useless!” Ruby cheered. 

“Get going, I suppose,” Yang said begrudgingly. “Before Ruby’s head clears up and she freaks the frack out that you guys wandered off into the dark like a couple of idiots.” 

“Like you two, you mean?” Weiss quipped. 

“I will totally smack you upside the head, Ice Queen.” 

“Aaaaand we’re leaving now.” 

“Have a good trip!” Ruby called out with a lazy wave. 

“Ruby?” Yang said as their three companions all got ready to leave.  

“Hm?” 

“Shudup.” 

“Okie.” 

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