“Alright, Weiss, lower the wall,” Ruby ordered.
It definitely felt weird giving orders, but Ruby confident that she was right here. The person that knew what to do should be the one in charge, right?
The wall of ice in front of them began to dissolve away into frosty blue mist–because Dust was too freaking weird for the ice to just melt into water, ya know? The center opened up to the outside first, letting in a flood of sunlight that made all the girls squint and/or cover their eyes, then the rest of the structure rapidly faded away.
Nothing. Utter quiet.
Ruby couldn’t trust that, though. The Nevermores could be perched right above them for all they knew.
She needed to get Crescent Rose.
“Yang, lead,” she said calmly. “Weiss, can you get me up to Crescent Rose? I don’t want to use my semblance.” She was running dangerously low on aura. Time for some semblance conservatism.
Weiss gave a nod, too distracted from scanning the strip of sky that was visible to them to formulate an answer with words.
Yang walked out in front of the group until she was just a few feet past the mouth of the cave, her fists up by her face, her steps slow and measured, knees bent, ready to spring into action. She looked straight up, then around.
“Looks clear,” she announced to the team as Ruby joined her. “Looks like da Rose is still up there,” she remarked, pointing to the thin black line jutting out from the rock a few dozen feet above them.
Ruby breathed a sigh or relief. She hadn’t expected the Nevermores to, like, steal her weapon or something, but it was nice to reaffirm it was there.
It would be even nice to have it in her hands again.
“Boost me, Weiss!”
Before she was even done with the sentence, the familiar high-pitched hum of Weiss’ glyph forming rang out, followed by the deep bass thrum as she activated it and Ruby launched into the air.
Ruby couldn’t help it–she let out a yelp of surprise.
Look, getting suddenly launched into the air at a bajillion miles an hour can be disconcerting even if you know it’s coming, alright?
The one glyph was enough to get her almost twenty feet up into the air before gravity pulled her to a stop, but as soon as she started falling back down, another white glyph appeared underneath her feet. She landed on it in a light crouch, then jumped off, the accompanying boost from the glyph easily letting her get all the way up to her scythe.
One quick snatch-and-tug later and Ruby had her Crescent Rose back safely in her hands.
‘Don’t worry, beautiful. I’ll never leave you by yourself ever again!’
Ruby was expecting Weiss to summon a grey glyph under her and make a little staircase for her to run down or something, but instead a black glyph appeared a few feet below her and pulled her down. Right before she reached it, though, it disappeared.
‘What the heck?!’
Ruby wasn’t sure why Weiss was suddenly throwing her down to the ground, and the weightlessness of falling didn’t feel nearly as awesome this close to the ground as it had when she was hundreds of feet up with the Nevermores. She was just about to shift into her semblance to slow and manage her fall when another black glyph appeared below her and pulled her down. This time, she was able to land on it for about half a second before this one disappeared.
Again, that mild panic of freefalling, with the new fear of getting another concussion and having Weiss disapprove of her brain even more.
But another glyph showed up, then disappeared. The sequence continued as Ruby fell and she relaxed as she realized Weiss was making a makeshift elevator with her glyphs. A glyphevator? Glyph…vator? Eleglyph?
Aight, those two words just really didn’t go together, did they?
The trip down was a little stop-and-starty as some of the time Weiss made the glyphs disappear before Ruby reached them and other times Ruby’s feet made contact with them and she jerked to a stop.
Once Ruby got to the last ten feet of the fall, the glyphs Weiss summoned were white instead of black, slowing her descent just before dissipating.
Ruby landed with a soft thump, Crescent Rose clutched possessively in her hands.
“That’s new!” she chirped to her bestest bestie.
Weiss smiled proudly and gave one of those head tilt-shrugs. “I just improvised something like that to get Professor Goodwitch out of trouble. I think I like it, though… I’m not that great at timing it…” She trailed off and looked down at her feet, looking kinda frustrated.
“Something we can practice later!” Ruby encouraged her.
It was super neat that Weiss was finding new ways to use her glyphs! And not surprising either. She was really smart and the glyphs were a really versatile power.
Weiss looked up at her and gave her a confident nod. “Yes. For sure. I’m… mostly just happy I was able to improvise at all.”
Ruby beamed at her, equally happy. That was a good point! Weiss apparently freaked out when she didn’t have a plan or didn’t know what to expect, so her coming up with anything on the fly was good experience for her to get.
“Same!” she agreed. She turned back to the open expanse in front of the cave and the problem at hand. “Now… Yang, lead the way. The rest of us will coconut behind you.”
“Uh, what?” Yang asked, her eyebrows going wonky.
“What? You don’t want to be in front now?” Ruby asked, confused.
“No, I do… but you said you were going to… coconut behind me?”
“What?! No I didn’t! I said we’d all follow behind you!”
Yang blinked at her.
“What?!” Ruby squeaked again. “I wouldn’t say coconut, that makes no sense!”
“You definitely said coconut,” Blake chimed in behind her.
“Hopefully this concussion goes away soon,” Weiss muttered. “It was already hard enough following you in some conversations.”
“Most conversations,” Blake amended.
Weiss nodded. “Most conversations,” she agreed.
“Hey! Al-alright, enough!” Ruby stammered, confused how this had gotten back to ‘Poke fun at Ruby’ so quickly. “Just go already!”
Yang snorted a laugh and walked forward out into the open, Weiss and Blake following behind her while Ruby stood still and sulked. When Professor Goodwitch drew level with her, she leaned over to whisper, “Professor, did I really say ‘coconut’?”
The woman raised a bemused eyebrow at her. “Indeed you did, Miss Rose,” she replied just as quietly. “I’d recommend focusing a bit more aura into healing that little head of yours. I’d also like it on the record that I will not be coconutting anywhere, thank you very much.”
Ruby couldn’t help giggling at that. It sounded so funny to hear a professor say that!
She walked up to join the others, Blake giving her a smirk that totally said ‘I heard that’.
“I guess we’re clear?” Yang said at the lack of angry chicken charging noises.
“Guess so,” Blake concurred.
Weiss shuffled her feet nervously. “They may have gone back to eating the dire constrictor,” she noted.
“If they did, we can try going across the canyon again and just go wayyyy further down so there’s no way they can see us,” Ruby offered.
Weiss nodded. “I’d rather not fight them, so that sounds like a good plan.”
Yang opened her mouth, looking like she was about to argue, then slowly closed it.
“Yang?” Ruby prompted.
She shook her head. “Just don’t like the idea of leaving them behind us is all. But if we just stay far enough away then it shouldn’t matter.”
“Doesn’t matter anyway,” Blake stated, crouching into a fighting stance as she looked above the trees to the north. “They didn’t go back to the snake.”
The other three all turned to loo–
Yep. Both of the Nevermores were visible in the distance just above the trees. The circles they were flying in soon carried them out of view again, but if Ruby was judging the distance correctly…
“They’re waiting for us to come back to cross,” she realized.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Weiss argued. “Why wouldn’t they just wait for us out here?”
“Maybe they didn’t want to fight us where we had the cave for cover?” Blake said.
“They’re birds, Blake,” Weiss countered. “Do you really think they’re that smart?”
Blake waved a hand in the direction they’d spotted the Nevermores, a ‘duh’ look on her face. “All the evidence seems to indicate that, yes,” she shot back.
Weiss opened her mouth, then snapped it shut, frowning. Stumped.
“Well, guess we’ll have to fight them,” Ruby decided. “We coulda snuck by if they were eating down in the canyon, but with them flying up there and looking for us, we’d have to walk forever to get around them.”
Weiss sighed in resignation. “I don’t think we have it in us to win that fight.”
That… was a valid worry.
“It’s okay, we got this,” Ruby reassured her team before she really started even trying to figure out how they were going to ‘get’ this. “Um… we could jump down into the canyon and fight them there? Use the walls to Reverse Guillotine them like last time, maybe?”
“Wouldn’t we be sitting ducks for their feather attacks?” Yang said.
“Featherstorm!” Ruby cut in.
Yang gave her a deadpan look, then continued with her point. “Even one feather hits really hard.”
Ruby thought back to the feather that hit Yang and caused her aura to flicker. “Yeaaah…” she admitted.
Professor Goodwitch cleared her throat then, all members of Team RWBY immediately turning their attention to her.
“I will offer a little bit of help here. If you were not already aware, which it sounds like you are not, Nevermores have a limited number of uses of their feather attack.”
“Yes yes, that’s what Nidas called it, too. Featherstorm. What-have-you. They have a limited amount of feathers they can conjure, older Nevermores having a larger pool.”
“What, like it’s their semblance and they’re spending aura on it?” Weiss asked.
Whoa, wait, what?!
“Indeed,” the professor answered, “very much like that. There are theories about Grimm having some sort of dark mirror to our aura, which would explain the heightened durability of some of the tougher species.”
“Theory?” Weiss huffed incredulously. “Wouldn’t that be something that should be top priority to confirm?”
The professor looked coolly back at the disgruntled princess. “Yes, it would. Unfortunately, our aura detectors don’t read anything off them, reinforcing the theory that what they have is an alteration of some sort, and you might imagine that there aren’t a line of Grimm volunteering for testing.”
Weiss gave her equivalent of a pout–more eyebrow than lip–at the professor’s sass.
Ruby giggled at the mental imagery though. “What if they did? That would be so funny. Beowolves walking around with, like, ‘I donated’ stickers and getting donuts afterwards.”
“Or there could be Grimm giving the tests,” Yang played along. “Like an Ursa in a labcoat named Doctursa.”
Ruby broke out laughing at that.
“Guys, focus,” Blake hissed at them. “Professor, would you be able to tell us how many… featherstorms… Nevermores of this size would have?”
Professor Goodwitch tilted her head and thought for a moment. “Three to five, I’d guess. They seem to be in the young adult stage.”
Blake turned to Ruby. “You remember how many times they featherstormed you while you were distracting them?”
Haha! ‘Featherstorm’ was catching on!
“Not… really? A bunch, like at least… eight? Maybe nine?” There’d been the, what, three or four over by the canyon, another three or four running through the trees, and another two over by the cave. “Maybe ten?”
“So they’ve gotta be tapped out by now, right?” Yang concluded.
“Maybe that’s why they backed off,” Blake added contemplatively.
That made sense. It also made this fight way more winnable. If the Nevermores were out of their ranged AOE attacks, that meant the only way they could hit the team was by getting into melee, and they were big and clumsy up close, and didn’t have the same kind of hitting power that a Deathstalker or other similar Big Grimm would. They could flap and smack with their wings, scritch and scratch with their claws, and pick and peck with their beaks. The wings probably wouldn’t hit too hard because the muscles weren’t made to move in slashy motions, and the claws wouldn’t help them much if they were on the ground, and it would be easy to dodge them if the Nevermores tried to hover above them and kick/grab. That left the beak as the only real threat, as that would probably strike fast and hard, but the team could keep moving around the dumb chickens and not let them get a good attack off.
So… winnable, right?
“We don’t even necessarily need to kill them,” Weiss’ voice cut through Ruby’s strategisizing.
“Hm?” she responded instinctively.
Weiss blinked when everyone turned to her, shuffling her feet a bit. “Well… we’re a bit tapped out too, and we all remember how much effort it took to kill the Nevermore in initiation, right?”
“So maybe we don’t go through the effort of killing them,” Weiss finished. “Maybe we could just cripple them, clip or slash their wings so they can’t pursue us. In Grimm studies we learned that Nevermores’ wing joints are really vulnerable compared to the rest of their bodies. Maybe we just have Ruby…” She trailed off and made a scissor motion with her fingers.
Ruby smiled widely. One, she was really proud that she’d remembered the same lesson about Nevermore weaknesses that Weiss had. Granted, Weiss probably remembered a lot more from their lessons than Ruby did, but hey, she could pretend this meant she was as smart as Weiss for a little bit, right?
And two, that was a good point, and a good plan. They didn’t need to kill the Nevermores, just neutralize the threat they posed.
She gave an encouraging nod of agreement. “Do you have it in you to keep them pinned down long enough for that?”
Weiss’ eyebrows scrunched up in that cute concerned-thinking face she had. “I… think so?” She paused a moment, then reconsidered. “Yes, definitely, but then I might not have anything left for afterwards.”
“Blake and I might be able to help,” Yang said, grinning wickedly at her partner.
“We can?” Blake blinked in surprise.
“I got an idea.”
Blake narrowed her eyes. “Am I going to like this idea?”
Yang shrugged casually. “Depends on if you still hate the idea of my touching Gambol Shroud.”
Blake instinctively hugged her sheathed sword to herself. “Mine!” she protested quietly.
Yang cracked up laughing at that. “It’s not that bad. C’mon, let’s get going. I’ll tell you on the way.”
With that, Yang began walking back toward the canyon, Blake falling into step beside her as an instinctive reaction to Yang’s invitation.
Weiss looked at Ruby, who looked back and gave a shrug. Seemed like Yang had some cool team maneuver idea. They probably should have worked out a marching order again, but screw it. Ruby was tired and her head hurt. Walking two and two would be fine.
“C’mon, Professor,” Ruby said as she and Weiss began walking side by side. “You get the A team protection now!”
“I heard that!” Blake quipped back from freaking twenty feet away, turning to give Ruby a playful glare. Naturally, Ruby responded by sticking her tongue out at the girl.
“Stop it!” Weiss hissed at her. When Ruby turned to complain, Weiss jerked her head slightly towards Professor Goodwitch.
Oh. Right. Gotta be, like, professional or whatever.
“I feel so safe now,” the professor said in a completely dead tone.
“How you feelin’?” Ruby asked her partner as they walked. “You good?”
The brief hesitation before Weiss answered was telling. “I’m fine,” she said, the word ‘fine’ coming out high pitched and squeaky.
“… That Elder Weaver scare you a bit?” Ruby guessed.
She’d never seen a Weaver in person before, much less a big’un, but seen pictures and heard Dad and Uncle Qrow’s stories. Apparently Team STRQ got ambushed on a scouting mission by two Elder Weavers when they were students.
Dad said it was probably the scariest, freakiest Grimm he’d ever encountered.
“I wasn’t scared,” Weiss retorted, loading the word with disdain. “I’m not a c–… Not scared.”
Weiss would never admit to being scared. It wasn’t in her. That kind of admission took more self confidence and self assuredness than she had. Ruby was going about this wrong. This was Weiss she was talking to, she should make it about thoughts, not feelings. Weiss was a lot better dealing with those.
“What did you think of it, then?” she asked instead.
Weiss stared blankly ahead and Yang and Blake for a few seconds before responding. “It was just… H-how are we supposed to be expected to make a life out of fighting these things? It–you weren’t there, and I don’t think words can do a good job of describing it, but it was… monstrous, Ruby. Massive and ancient and evil and…. I felt so insignificant standing in front of it.”
Exclamation points exploded in Ruby’s brain at that admission of feeling, of what was really bothering Weiss.
The giant Grimm had made her feel insignificant. That was something the Ruby could understand bothering Weiss so much–she’s been training and studying and working hard to try to be a perfect huntress and out on her first official hunt she got thrown up against an uber Grimm that she could never take on by herself with all the experience in the world. That was probably frustrating, thinking all of her work was irrelevant against the Enemy.
“Well… you have a team to help you! You’re not supposed to be able to take it by yourself.”
From the way Weiss’ brow knotted, unconvinced, Ruby got the feeling she hadn’t quite hit the mark.
“It’s not just that,” Weiss continued. “It’s just… people don’t belong in forests and caves fighting Grimm like this. It’s like… trying to live underwater or trying to breathe lava. We don’t belong there. It’s not something we were made to do.”
Huh… Ruby had never thought of it like that. She’s always thought her purpose was to fight Grimm, that it was what she was made to do. Why else would she have super powers?
“I’m sure you don’t get it,” Weiss grumbled. “You seem to be enjoying this somehow.”
“No, I do!” Ruby protested quickly. “I get it!”
Weiss raised an eyebrow at her.
“I don’t feel the same way, but I do get it!” Ruby pressed. “And maybe you’re right. Maybe we weren’t made to fight Grimm. But that doesn’t mean we can’t.”
That drew another thoughtful frown from Weiss, and she turned her gaze back to the front with a noncommittal “Hmm”.
Did… that mean Ruby made a good point?
If it was a bad point, Weiss would have just said “That’s dumb”, so if she actually had to think about it, then it must be at least okay… right?
“Well regardless, I’m not quitting, so it doesn’t really matter,” Weiss eventually declared. “I’m probably just overreacting from… stress and… stuff.”
Ruby giggled at the lack of eloquence. “You did get Grimm guts on you,” she pointed out in agreement. “And you ran into a Greater Grimm. On your first Hunt.”
“And I got stuck in a cave wall while rock climbing in a claustrophobic tunnel,” Weiss added.
“Long story. The thesis here is that everything sucks and today is the worst.”
“Weiss noooooo!” Ruby wailed, rushing over to hug Weiss’ arm and getting an annoyed huff in response. “This is our first day being an awesome team! It can’t be the worst!”
“Are we being awesome?” Weiss asked dubiously. “Our civilian died to a stalker in our first encounter with Grimm, you lost most of your aura and all of your brain trying to get away from the Nevermores, and Blake and I almost definitely would have died in that cave if Professor Goodwitch hadn’t been there.”
“Most definitely,” the professor replied from behind them, startling Ruby.
Weiss gave Ruby an “I told you so” look.
“W-well… don’t worry!” Ruby stammered. “We can totally get to the finish line and be super awesome doing it! Trust me!”
Weiss definitely wasn’t convinced.
Ruby stubbornly shook the girl’s arm back and forth, trying to persuade her through physically shaking some trust into her if nothing else would work.
“Alright, fine!” Weiss snapped, lightly slapping Ruby’s hands to get her off. “We can do this. Just… focus and stop hitting your head.”
“It was one time!” Ruby whined.
Hopefully this didn’t become a thing.
A quiet settled over them for a bit, then a question popped into Ruby’s head (as they do).
“How are we doing, Professor? Like, if you had to guess a grade for us right now, what would it be?”
“It would not be appropriate for me to tell you that now,” she answered flatly.
“I didn’t say that.”
The professor rolled her eyes. “Miss Rose!”
“What?!” Ruby chirped with a grin.
“I am a professor of almost two decades. Your insistent, childish antics aren’t going to persuade me to abandon the professionalism due my station and experience.”
Her grin died, replaced with a pout. Ruby looked at Weiss, who glared back at her.
“Could you stop embarrassing us, please?”
“I’m not! I’m just embarrassing myself!”
Wait… that wasn’t a great argument.
“You’re our leader, Ruby. You’re representing all four of us. And embarrassing all four of us!”
That made Ruby cow back a bit. “S-sorry!” she replied instinctively.
This sucked. Ruby was just being silly! It’s not her fault Professor Goodwitch apparently has zero sense of humor. Or negative sense of humor. Is that a thing?
And leaders shouldn’t be representatives for their whole team! That was dumb. There was no way Ruby would ever be able to act like a combination of herself and Weiss and Blake and Yang! So how the heck was she supposed to represent all of them?!
Although… maybe that’s not what Weiss meant.
Whatever. This was dumb. Team leaders should be in charge of their team in battle situations and then beyond that they should just be a normal team member. That way nobody would have any reason to yell at Ruby! She was awesome at fighting, and then whenever they weren’t fighting she could just be Normal Rubes without any of these weird team leader expectations!
“Sorry,” Weiss said quietly, making Ruby look back over in surprise. The regretful expression on Weiss’ face disappeared in a flash, hidden behind the normal mask of Schnee impassiveness, but Ruby saw it! It was there!
“I didn’t mean to snap,” Weiss continued, not making eye contact as she spoke. “I’m just… stressed. You’re fine. Just dial the goofball setting down until we get out of here, okay?”
Haha! So Ruby got to still to be goofy! Score.
“Deal!” she agreed.
Of course, Weiss just rolled her eyes and shook her head.
Apparently Ruby couldn’t even agree with her correctly. 😦
“How’s your weapon, by the way?” Weiss asked, the change of topic throwing Ruby for a spin.
“Huh? What would be wrong with Crescent Rose?”
Weiss shrugged her head a little. “It got stuck in the cliff face, didn’t it? I just thought, I don’t know, it might have gotten scuffed or chipped or something when you decided to stab a cliff for whatever reason.”
“It would’ve been really cool if it had worked!”
But Weiss raised a good point. Ruby pulled out her weapon and unfurled it, holding it up as she walked to inspect the blade.
“Oh… crap. You’re right.”
“Did the blade break?” Weiss asked, leaning to look herself.
“The blade’s okay–scratched at the end a bit, but that’s it. But the housing is cracked on the end.”
Ruby tilted the weapon around so Weiss could see where the red metal casing that held the scythe blade was broken, a small piece a bit smaller than Ruby’s fist carved out of it, with a few cracks extending a couple inches past it. Nothing too bad, but…
“Uh-oh,” Ruby muttered, reaching up and giving the blade a wiggle to test her–
Crap. It wiggled.
“What’s wrong?” Weiss asked.
“The part of the casing that broke off held one of the clamps that keeps the blade locked in place. So now the end is all…” She trailed off and gave the end of Crescent Rose’s blade another wiggle to demonstrate.
It wasn’t wiggling too much–there were four other pairs of clamps running along the casing for redundancy and sturdiness. But it was enough that Ruby was a little bit worried about hitting something too hard and causing the blade to snap. The steel that she and Uncle Qrow had used for the blade was strong and held an edge well, but was also pretty brittle.
“Can you fix it?” Weiss asked, her brow furrowed in concern.
“Of course! But not out here… Actually, not at Beacon, either. I don’t have a workshop here.”
The makeshift workshop Dad set up for her in the garage was easily the place Ruby loved most in the world and knowing it was so far away, especially now when she needed it, kinda totally sucked.
“You’re welcome to use the open workshop for students,” Professor Goodwitch told her.
That made Ruby’s eyes go wide. “Whoa, really?! We have one? Is it awesome?!”
The professor chuckled a little. “Yes, it is quite impressive. You all will have a class next semester in it for weapon care and repair. Although it sounds like you are already fairly experienced in weaponsmithing. Did you make this Crescent Rose?”
“I helped design her!” Ruby crowed happily. “And helped a little bit on the actual forging, but my uncle did most of it ‘cause I was little and he didn’t want me to get hurt or mess up anything.”
“Ah, Qrow,” Professor Goodwitch nodded. “I should have guessed that. His style is all over it.”
“Yeah!” Ruby agreed happily. That was, like, the best compliment for a weapon ever!
“Will this be a problem during this Hunt, though?” Weiss worried, gesturing towards the missing piece of Crescent Rose’s casing.
Ruby frowned. “… Maybe. I’ll just need to be careful with my swings and try to make sure most of my hits connect at the base of the blade. If I do that, it should be fine… I hope.”
“Well… maybe this would be a good opportunity for us to get you that new steel so you can upgrade it like we talked about before.”
Ruby’s mouth dropped open. “You’re right! We could totally do that! A-are you sure you’re still willing to pay for that, though?”
The grumpy face Weiss gave her didn’t make much sense to Ruby. “Of course,” she declared. “I said I am, didn’t I?”
Ruby held her hands up in surrender, Crescent Rose still in her left. “Sorry! I didn’t mean–I just meant… um… I’m not really sure what I meant, but nothing bad!”
Weiss’ grumpy face lasted about two more seconds before she cracked a tiny smile. “Okay. But yes, I’m willing to pay for it. And I’m kind of eager to try figuring out how to put Dust ports in a weapon.”
“You mean you don’t know already?” Ruby asked, a little surprised.
“I know the Dust refining process and how to cast with it. I’m not an engineer!”
“Oh… right. I just thought you knew everything about everything.”
Weiss’ cheeks flushed. “Well… I don’t. It’s nice that you think so, though.”
“If you need any assistance, there are several professional weaponsmiths and mechanists that work out of our workshop that should be able to help,” Professor Goodwitch chimed in.
“Whoa, really?” Ruby chirped, turning to walk backwards and look at the professor clearly.
“Indeed. When I say it’s an open workshop, I mean it. Any weaponsmiths with a professional or apprentice license is welcome to use our facility and resources. And any aspiring, untrained individuals are able to take classes with us. You’ll likely have at least a couple in your class next semester.”
“That’s so awesome!” Ruby cheered. Like, she already knew Beacon was The Best, but this was a delicious icing on the already delicious cake!
“How much does it cost to use Beacon’s things?” Weiss asked. She then reached out to grab Ruby’s arm and jerked her to the side, and after a moment of confusion Ruby realized her partner had stopped her from tripping over a root.
“Thanks,” she whispered, turning to walk forward again.
The professor answered Weiss. “Using the facility is free, and we only ask that the people using it pay us back for any resources–ores, gears, clamps, et cetera–once they sell their creations. The classes have a small fee to make sure the instructors are compensated for their time, but not much.”
“That… doesn’t seem like a very good business strategy,” Weiss said.
The professor’s eyebrow arched up in that professor-y way she had. “Ours is an institution built for education, not profit, Miss Schnee.”
The way she said Weiss’ last name almost sounded… bitey. From the way Weiss’ shoulders pulled together and she shrank in on herself, Ruby figured she’d taken it that way too.
Right when Weiss opened her mouth to respond, she was cut off by the distant screech of a Nevermore. The two of them froze in place, waiting and watching the sky to see if they were being attacked.
A second passed. Two. Five.
Footfalls through the underbrush crunched from up ahead announcing Yang’s return, Blake at her side–though far less noisy.
When she came into view, Yang stopped and gave Ruby and Weiss a bemused look.
“Why are you guys stopped and crouching like a couple of bonobos?” she asked.
“You still need to define ‘bonobo’ for me,” Blake muttered.
“I told you, it’s beyond defining.”
‘“Did we get spotted?” Weiss asked urgently. “We heard a… caw, or whatever.”
Yang grinned. “Ooooh. No, they’re still flyin’ around in circles up there. Just making the occasional stupid bird noise, that’s all. Blake and I figured out our move! We think we can tie a birdo down if you can ground it, Weiss. And it would help if you gave me a boost.”
“What’s it called?!” Ruby immediately burst out. The name was basically the most important part of the move.
Yang let out a devilish snicker. “Heeeehehehe. Tell ‘em, Blake.” She nudged her partner’s elbow with her own. “Tell ‘em.”
The pouty scowl on Blake’s face was kinda hilarious. “Um… Yang figured you’d ask that, and she insists on calling it… The Nae Nae?”
Yang’s grin widened and she proudly put her fists on her hips in a totally unearned victory pose.
“What?!” Ruby squeaked. That was terrible! “Why?!”
“I don’t really know? Something about how we’re using Gambol Shroud as a whip… even though we’re not, really.”
“Shudup, yes we are!” Yang whispered to her loudly.
Blake rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I don’t really care what we call it as long as it works.”
“But we can’t call it the Nae Nae!” Ruby whined. “That song is terrible!”
“Your face is terrible and I disown you!” Yang shot back.
“Oooooooh,” Blake breathed in sudden realization. “It’s a sooong. I thought you were just being an idiot.”
“It can be both,” Weiss quipped.
“I’ll eat you,” Yang grumped at her.
“Yang, I veto that name!” Ruby declared with executive authority.
“You can’t! It’s our move, we get to pick the name!”
“Blake doesn’t like it!”
“Blake doesn’t care!”
They both looked at Blake, who looked between the two of them like a deer in headlights, then shrugged.
“See?!” Yang yelled, flailing a hand toward her partner.
“This is so not worth this much drama,” Weiss drawled.
“Agreed,” Blake said. “We have some Nevermores to kill and a relic to get to. Can we go?”
“And a professor to protect,” Weiss added.
“That too. None of which need to involve ridiculous arguments about combo names.”
Ruby pouted and shuffled along as Blake turned and began their trek again. “… But that name sucks.”
“Listen here, Pipsqueak,” Yang started, waiting for Ruby to reach her and then throwing a hand around her shoulder as they walked.
“No, you listen here!”
There was a pause. Yang blinked at her. “… What?”
“What?” Ruby responded.
“You said ‘you listen here’. Did you have anything to say?”
“Oh, no. I was just saying that.”
Yang rolled her eyes. “Well, it’s my move that I came up with. I get to name it!”
“This isn’t a democracy!” Ruby protested.
“Yes it is,” Yang said, giving her a squeeze. “I said so, so it is.”
“That’s not how democracy works,” Weiss informed her.
“But I am the Senate,” Ruby pouted.
Yang gave her a grin and another squeeze. “Not yet.”
Alright, maybe Ruby needed to reevaluate Team Leader responsibilities. Maybe it should be being in charge in combat and naming all of their combo moves now and forever, especially if the stuff Yang came up with was gonna be ‘Watch Us Nae Nae’.
What a doof.
“I never got an answer to how I’m supposed to be boosting you,” Weiss pointed out from Ruby’s other side.
“Oh, right,” Yang said. “It’s easy. Just, when we go for the move, give me a glyph to help me jump over the Neverbutt.”
Alright, this move sounded cool, whatever it was. The name was absolutely terrible, but it would probably be really sweet.
Weiss was not similarly impressed, though. “You want to jump… over a Nevermore?”
“I mean… it’ll be on the ground…” Yang reasoned.
“Well, sure, but…”
“Trust us, Weiss. It’ll work,” Blake said. “… Maybe.”
Weiss’ lips twitched. “Well now I’m filled with confidence.”
“Shall we?” Ruby asked, eager to get to the fight now.
The trip back to the canyon was boringly uneventful compared Ruby’s epic fighting retreat from it. And they couldn’t even talk to pass the time ‘cause Blake kept shushing Yang to listen and watch for the Nevermores and Weiss kept shushing Ruby because she’s Weiss.
And, of course, the Nevermores would make stupid chicken noises every once in a while and they’d all tense up, ready for a fight.
A walk that was only about ten minutes ended up feeling like ten hyper-stressful hours.
When they got a couple dozen feet from the edge of the treeline in front of the canyon, Blake crept to a stop, crouching behind a large root and watching the Nevermores circling above carefully.
“So what’s the plan?” Weiss asked.
“Just jump into the ditch and make them follow us?” Yang suggested.
“And if they still have feathers left to throw at us?” Blake challenged.
“Dodge ‘em?” Yang answered like it was obvious.
To be fair, it was a little obvious.
“I can make a wall,” Weiss offered. “Block a volley, maybe more if they’re stupid.”
All three of them turned to look at Ruby.
She blinked. “Um. I mean, yeah. That’s kinda our only option, right?… I could go up there to them, actually. Fight them a bit in the air and try to bait out the featherstorms in a direction that won’t hit you guys.”
“Veto,” Yang declared immediately.
“Yang-uh! Stawp it! You don’t get to veto!”
“She’s just saying she disagrees,” Blake sighed impatiently.
“Yeah, she can do that. But when I disagree, it’s a veto. She just has normal disagrees.”
“Anyway,” Weiss hissed, “we all jump down together? Do we want to spread out and try to dodge their feathers or group up for my wall?”
“Mmmm… Group up,” Ruby decided. “We’d have to burn semblances to dodge and risk losing aura if we can’t, and we’re running low. Better to take the safe bet with your wall.”
“Okay,” Weiss responded, barely audible. Her expression seemed to flick through different states of nervous and determined.
“Hey,” Ruby said, getting her attention. “You’ll do great.”
Weiss nodded slowly. “I just don’t want to screw up and get you guys hurt.”
Yang clapped her lightly on the back, making Weiss startle a little. “No worries, Ice Queen. You got dis. Just do it like the wall at the cave. That saved our butts big time.”
That prompted a tight smile from Weiss, who then gave one more single, confident nod.
“Alright, I’m ready.”
“Blake, you ready?” Ruby asked, getting a solemn nod as Blake continued to watch the angry chickens above them.
“Always,” Yang answered, clicking out the knuckleguards on her gauntlets.
“Alright…. Um, Professor? You, uh, stay here I guess?”
Professor Goodwitch simply crossed her arms and took a step back.
“Maybe we should rethink this,” Blake hedged.
“Naaaaah,” Yang argued. “She’ll be fine! Weren’t you guys just saying a little while ago that Nevermores are territorial and there wouldn’t be any other Grimm nearby?”
Blake pursed her lips. “Well, yes, but…”
“But nothing,” Ruby cut it. “We need to get a move on. We have a plan. Let’s do it and get this fight over with so we can get back to our actual mission of getting to the chess piece.”
She looked at each of her team members in turn. Yang gave her an eager nod, Blake frowned for a moment before ducking her head and nodding at the ground, and Weiss simply met Ruby’s eyes and waited.
Alright. Go time.
“Okay. Let’s go, team. Landing strategies are hot! Eagle is go for launch! Uh…”
“Ruby, shut up,” Yang groaned.
Ruby took a moment to remind herself to conserve her energy as much as possible for this coming fight. She was running low on aura as it was, and Crescent Rose couldn’t take too much additional stress.
As one, they all broke from the treeline. Annoyingly, Yang was still a faster sprinter than Ruby, so she reached the edge of the cliff first and just… kind of… yeeted herself off, letting out a hollering ecstatically as she fell.
Above them, the Nevermores squawked angrily and both turned to glare down at them. Almost as if in slow motion, Ruby watched one of them tilt forwards to begin a dive, the other tilting backwards and winding up its wings for a featherstorm.
Short on time, Ruby yelled out an order with the least amount of words she could: “Weiss! Don’t let it shoot!”
Weiss took a moment to take in the Nevermores and figure out what Ruby meant, and Ruby also dropped down to slid into a crouch, swinging Crescent Rose up and transitioning it to its rifle form in one smooth movement. Aiming for the Nevermore’s eye, she let a shot loose before she’d even stopped sliding.
Unfortunately, not taking the time to line up the shot or even get a good foundation meant the shot went slightly just wide. Before she could recover from the recoil to try again, though, the feathers began spearing out of its wi–
Weiss’ ice projectile came into view, speeding towards the Nevermore. The first of the feathers intercepted it and set off the explosion. The ice erupted, a massive version of the ball of ice spikes Weiss made against the Beowolves a while ago. It looked like a giant blue version of those underwater mines.
Most of the other feathers got swallowed by or blocked by the giant ice cube that suddenly popped up. The ice’s momentum carried it up a little bit further towards the Nevermore, but then gravity pulled it back down and it fell away. The feathers that had been along the outside of the featherstorm were unimpeded, spearing down towards Yang but all harmlessly wide. It looked like she was falling through a tunnel of feathers for a moment.
Blake had already jumped down after Yang by this point. Ruby slid to a stop right at the edge of the cliff, her leading foot actually extending out over the edge, but she didn’t wait even a secondblink before leaping forward off that foot and pushing herself out into the openinto open air to plummet down after her teammates.
The Nevermore that had been diving was moving fast, aiming for Yang as it outpaced both Ruby and Blake in its downwards pursuit.
“Yang!” Blake shouted down toward her partner. It didn’t look like Yang was able to hear through the noise of falling, though.
The Nevermore was getting closer to her.
Luckily, the stupid chicken lined up well with the sun that was more or less above them now, so its shadow came into view on the ground below and Yang saw that. She jerked around and started falling backwards, looking up at the Grimm that was about to try to bite her head off.
Suddenly, Blake’s weapon, bent around into its pistol form, whipped out and wrapped around Yang’s forearm. She flinched in surprise at it a bit, but then realized what was happening and grabbed onto the hilt-grip-thing just as Blake yanked her back with the other end of the ribbon.
The action pulled Yang from her trajectory and meant the snapping beak of the Nevermore that was about to nomph on her bit nothing but air.
Ruby wasn’t sure what happened, but as Yang moved backwards, Blake moved forwards–probably physics, though maybe Yang was trying to throw Blake at the Nevermore.
Either way, the result was Blake was sent spinning around the giant bird, the ribbon catching on the creature’s side as she was swung around and smacked into its underside with a surprised yelp.
Ruby unfurled Crescent Rose into its scythe form, ready to act. She noticed Weiss falling a bit above her, head first.
With one big pull on the Gambol Shroud’s ribbon, Yang brought herself flying into the Nevermore’s back, feet together in a solid double kick that dad woulda been proud of.
… An idea began forming in Ruby’s head.
The Nevermore spread its wings to try to stop its fall and Ruby yelled out, “Weiss! Freeze the joint!” She pointed for good measure.
A second later, just as the Nevermore was beginning to slow, a signature Weiss-splosion of ice hit one of its wing joints, locking up its ability to fly. The one wing bent and seized up, the beast rotating and falling with that iced side facing the ground. Yang and Blake both drifted off, still tied together and not falling quite as fast as the giant monster.
Ruby slipped into her semblance and pushed herself to speed down to Yang. She grabbed her sister’s arm and dragged the heavy lug a few feet forward to get her into place and up to get her above Blake, then exited the Rose Dimension.
Yang was staring at her in wide-eyed confusion.
“Land on its head!” Ruby shouted at her.
Understanding dawned in her eyes and she grinned, nodding.
Ruby zoomed over to Blake, catching on to her to make sure she didn’t float away, and told her, “Throw Yang at its face!”
“What?!” she balked.
Ruby was already peeling away, though, getting ready to follow up her sister’s strike if it wasn’t enough to kill.
Dissipating black glyphs appeared underneath Blake, three of them slowing her down enough that she didn’t break her ankles when she landed on the grey glyph Weiss summoned for her to land on. Using the platform to brace herself, Blake used both arms to throw Yang down towards the Nevermore.
At the end of the arc, Yang untangled her arm from Gambol Shroud and shot down like a bullet.
The Nevermore hit the ground with a crash, the ice bound to its side shattering out around it.
Yang’s fist arrived shortly after, caving in the side of its face with the accompaniment of a shotgun blast.
Her superspeed landing meant that Yang suffered quite a bit of damage too, her aura rippling and knees buckling with the impact. It was fine, though. That just meant she’d have a mega punch ready for the other Nevermore.
Other Nevermore because this one was very, very dead. Already dissolving, actually.
Ruby wanted to dance and cheer and hug her team, but she needed to focus. Step one was making sure she didn’t splat onto the ground.
Easy enough with her semblance.
Weiss dropped down next to her. Above them, the remaining, now angrier, angry chicken screeched loudly and dove for Blake where she was still standing on Weiss’ glyph.
Blake did an elegant, Blakey backflip off the grey snowflake and dropped down towards them. At the same time, Weiss pointed up at the glyph and seemed to be pouring more energy into it, because it expanded, more rings of glyphy glyph shapes appearing around the center.
The Nevermore rammed its beak into the glyph. There was a microsecond pause as the creature stopped there, almost like a single frame of lag, then the glyph split in two and the bird jerked back as it fell, flailing its wings.
It fell straight down, forcing Ruby and Weiss to scramble out of the way. Blake, who was almost snagged by it in midair, did some sort of epic ninja double-jump backflip, leaving a shadow in her place that the Nevermore’s beak swiped through and dissipated into smoky curls.
When it hit the ground, the world shuddered.
It recovered quickly, though, and swiped a wing up, then down like an axe, towards Ruby.
She managed to push herself back just in time to dodge the strike as the steel edges of the feathers of the angry chicken’s wings stabbed almost two feet into the rust colored rock.
Ruby immediately kited backwards, switching back to her rifle and trying to put a few shots into its eyes again.
The Nevermore shielded its face with a wing, swiping out with the other in the other direction. Ruby saw Blake jump over the swipe and actually land on the wing, but she also heard Weiss yell out in pain or surprise.
Well, if it was down here scrapping with them, that probably meant it was out of featherstorms.
Blake ran up the wing towards the bulk of the Nevermore, slashing down with both her sword and her bladed sheath as she moved.
The Nevermore reacted, tilting the wing up and twisting around to try to snap its beak around Blake’s waist.
Blake lost her footing, executing a sideways flip with the use of a shadow that the Nevermore promptly murdered. It quickly jerked its head to the side to track Blake, though, and was about to snag her out of the air when there was a sudden, loud thud as it pitched forward and sideways with a squawk.
It was Yang. She’d run up behind the chicken and punched its leg out from under it with the energy the fall had fed her semblance.
Angry Chicken slashed out wildly with its wings, forcing all four of them back. It kicked itself up and flapped, trying to take to the air again.
Twenty feet above it, a massive white Weiss glyph appeared, the musical sound ringing out louder than Ruby had ever heard. A moment later, a gigantic shard of ice lance down from it like some epic anime Spear of the Heavens and slammed into the Nevermore’s back.
It shattered loudly, ice raining everywhere, unable to pierce the Nevermore’s… hide? Skin? Whatever.
The impact was enough to force it to crash back down into the ground, though.
Yang immediately jumped on its back and ran up toward its head. Blake tossed Gambol to her and Yang caught it, pulling her partner up into the air as she ran.
Yang jumped down in front of the Nevermore to get in its face while Blake tried to do some sort of damage from on top of it.
Weiss skated over to Ruby, sweat dripping from her face and one of her sleeves torn up at the elbow.
“Nice mega ice spear thingy!” Ruby chirped.
“I need to freeze its feet, right?” Weiss asked, voice sounding tired and strained, evidently not in the mood to say ‘thanks’.
“It’s moving too much,” Weiss informed her.
Before them, the Nevermore was thrashing and bucking as Yang pummeled its face and shotgunned herself around to avoid reprisal. It was traveling more than ten feet with every step, more when it would jump around to try to throw Blake off its back.
“Can you summon the ice under it with a glyph?”
Weiss frowned. “Yes, but that would just push it up, not trap it.”
Double crap. So Weiss needed to do the projectiley thingies to actually freeze the chicken’s feet to the ground, but they weren’t fast enough.
…. But bullets were!
“Can you summon a magicy ice glyph for me to shoot through?” Ruby asked her partner excitedly. “So I can shoot it and apply the freeze that way?”
Weiss blinked. “I… think so?”
Ruby didn’t need any more than that.
She crouched down and leveled her rifle. She rotated the scope to the side (because the Nevermore was too close to warrant it) while Weiss conjured a decently sized white glyph in front of her that slowly turned the light blue of ice Dust. It was a little bad ‘cause it obstructed her visibility a bit, but luckily her target was kinda really freaking big.
This move would need a name…
Ruby waited until Yang shotgunned herself to the side and the Nevermore leaned back to try to peck at her.
“Iceflower!” she yelled, taking the first shot.
Being the super awesome marksman she was (when she wasn’t sliding full speed trying to shoot a flying target, at least), the shot hit the Nevermore’s knee square on, erupting into a kaleidoscope of frosty petals (literally an ice flower! :D) and making the Nevermore stumble.
“Holy crap! That worked!” Ruby cheered in surprise.
The Nevermore lifted its free foot up and clawed the ice off of itself.
“Keep going!” Weiss shouted at her.
“Blake!” Yang shouted up to her partner, gesturing for her to come down. “Time to Nae Nae!”
Ruby cringed. If Yang ever yelled that out in public, like in a tournament or something…
Ruby sent more shots into the Nevermore’s leg. One, two, three, f–
Both the Nevermore’s feet were encased now, but the layers of ice were thin enough that when it had a chance to strain against them while Ruby was reloading, they began to crack.
Two magazines left. Twenty shots.
Ruby sent three more shots into the block of ice encasing the chicken feet, then the glyph in front of her winked out. Guess that ice Dust crystal had run out.
Weiss looked at her. “Do we need m–”
“Weiss, boost me!” Yang shouted.
She was standing with Blake in front of the currently trapped Nevermore, one end of the Gambol Ribbon in her hands.
“Oh, um…” Weiss muttered.
A white glyph appeared under Yang’s feet, and a moment later she jumped, catapulting over one of the Nevermore’s wings and landing on the other side, pinning the wing down with the ribbon.
The Nevermore skree’ed at them and jerked its wing up. Yang held on and held her ground, but Blake was pulled forward, dragged several feet before she could find her feet again.
“Yang!” she cried out. “I’m not strong eno–”
A black glyph appeared under her feet and anchored her in place.
“Thank you!” she called back.
“Ruby, now!” Yang shouted.
‘Now? Now whaaa… oh.’
Yang’s plan clicked into place and Ruby grinned. She unfurled Crescent Rose. Admittedly, she was a little apprehensive about what she was about to do because of how loose the tip of her blade was. There was a not-insignificant chance the end might snap or the whole blade might get yanked out of its housing, but… worth?
Weiss caught on too and launched Ruby up into the air.
Nice. This was awesome. It was all coming together. (huehuehue)
Ruby slipped into the Rose Dimension and began spinning, holding Crescent Rose across the back of her hips and building up her centridifugical force to make sure this attack worked. When she’d picked up enough speed, she swapped back to the real world, letting gravity take full hold of her again.
She arced down, a whirling petalstorm of epicness, and brought Crescent Rose’s blade down right at the point where the Nevermore’s wing that Blake and Yang were tethering met its torso.
There was a jerk of resistance for the briefest of moments that made Ruby worry she wouldn’t cut through, but then it gave and Ruby sliced through. Her weapon slammed into hard rock at way-too-fast speed and there was a heart wrenching cracking noise.
There wasn’t enough time to figure out what happened before the Nevermore reacted. It let out an ear-piercing shriek that had a physical force behind it, throwing all of them back and shattering the ice that held it down.
Ruby was sent rolling, clutching onto Crescent Rose for dear life and trying not to poke herself on any of its edges.
The massive pile of feathers that was the Nevermore’s dismembered wing had already began dissolving, the Nevermore itself haphazardly limping away from them.
Ruby pushed herself to her feet and lifted up her weapon to inspect the damage.
The last section of casing that held the end of the blade had completely cracked open, leaving a foot and a half of exposed, unfortified blade just kinda hanging out. Poor Crescent Rose wouldn’t even be able to fold up like this! Well… maybe it would because there was enough of the last section where the gears attached to the next housing that it might fold, but the blade might not go with it, and if it didn’t, something would definitely break even more.
Ruby wanted to cry.
The Nevermore on the other hand, just seemed pissed. An injured animal might try to crawl away or something, but an injured Grimm? Nope.
Once it realized it wasn’t going to get its balance anywhere close to normal again, it apparently decided “screw it” and just threw itself at the nearest enemy–Weiss.
It dove forward and tried to skewer her with its beak, but luckily she skated back just in time.
She was panicky, though, ‘cause she sent herself tripping backwards, letting out a scared yelp as she landed on her butt, the Nevermore tensing to jump forward again.
Yang slammed into its side just in time, knocking it over. And with one of its wings missing, it had a hard time pushing itself up again.
It was forced to backpedal continuously as Yang assailed it, being careful to stay on its wingless side so it couldn’t respond well.
Blake rushed up to help. She ran up from the side, swinging her weapon like a lasso before tossing it around the Nevermore’s neck. She couldn’t hold it down, though, but Yang quickly dashed forward and grabbed onto the ribbon where it hooked around. She shoved sideways and down, leveraging her strength to pin the thing’s head down.
“Weiss, stab it in the eye!” she yelled out.
Weiss hesitated, clearly not eager to get close to the killer beak.
“Now! Right in the eyeball!”
Ruby could see Weiss steel her nerves before she acted, summoning a glyph underneath her and lunging forward, her sword thrust executed with uncanny precision. Myrtenaster was buried into the Nevermore’s eye up to its hilt.
Again, another deafening shriek of pain. Weiss and Yang were both close enough to its head that they screamed in pain as they were knocked back. Myrtenaster and Gambol Shroud both left behind in and around the creature as the Nevermore staggered back.
‘How the frickity frack is this thing still up?!’
One red beady, birdy eye glared at them, nothing but hate in it.
It was going to keep on attacking until it went down.
Ruby lifted Crescent Rose, then anchored the blade in the ground as the monopod she often used it as. The exposed blade didn’t impede that functionality.
The Nevermore was far enough away from her now that she cranked her scope back into place, aiming down the glass at its remaining eye.
Her teammates were staggering to their feet when the Nevermore screeched again, knocking them back down.
Ruby pulled the trigger.
The evil light went out in the creature’s eyes. It twitched once with a croaking noise, then collapsed, then twitched again.
Then it began to dissolve.
There was nothing but silence for the longest moment.
Weiss spoke first. “We did it?” she said in surprise, as if still taking in their victory and processing it.
“Hell yeah we did!” Yang cheered.
“Everything hurts,” Blake croaked.
Ruby walked over to her team.
“Nice shot, Cap,” Yang beamed at her, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
Ruby pouted in response.
Yang frowned. “What is dis? Why are you the sad?”
Ruby held up Crescent Rose in response.
“Don’t stick your scythe in my face,” Yang grumped. “Why are y–oh. Ouch.”
“Is it bad?”
“I think so.”
Weiss and Blake both walked over to the disappearing corpse to collect their weapons.
“We can totally fix her!” Yang said cheerily. “No worries. Be happy! We just killed two Nevermores! At the same time!”
“I used up so much aura,” Weiss lamented as she approached.
“Shudup, Weiss! We won! And our Nae Nae totally worked!”
Ruby groaned at the name.
“Oh, don’t even,” Yang shot at her teasingly. “‘Ice Flower’? Come on.”
“What?!” Ruby squeaked. “It’s an ice flower!”
“Yeah, but… Frost Shot? Helloooo?”
“Yeah, okay. That’s better.”
“I’m still calling it Ice Flower until you stop calling your move the Nae Nae.”
“You’re both children,” Blake sighed.
Yang laughed and held her hand up to her partner to high five. When Blake obliged, Yang snagged her hand and pulled her in for a one armed hug, so now she was squishing both Ruby and Blake.
“Nice work, Partner,” Yang said. “You were great.”
Blake blushed deeply and stammered out, “Th-thanks. You too?”
Yang nodded confidently, pleased, and Blake smiled and bumped Yang’s nose with her forehead affectionately.
“Weiss, come get congratulations hugs!” Ruby demanded, stabbing Crescent Rose into the ground and holding out her arms.
“… No thank you.”
“But you were awesome! You earned congratulations hugs!”
Weiss shuffled her feet and looked around at the ground. “We need to get mov–”
“Weiss, shut up and come get your hugs,” Yang cut in.
Weiss gave her princessy pout at Yang’s curtness, but then she shuffled a small step forward. Then another. Then two, and she sidled up to Ruby and gave what she was probably hoping was going to be a quick sideways hug.
Of course, Ruby latched onto her as soon as she was within reach, squeezing as much pride and congratulations as she could into the girl.
“Okay, that’s enough!” Weiss coughed.
“Let go of me!”
“Okay! Stop crushing me!”
Haha! Weiss accepted her awesomeness! Win.
Ruby slackened her grip and Weiss danced away before she could react enough to try to pull her back.
“Seriously, though,” Yang said, “that was awesome, Weiss. That icy Spear of the Heavens shit? Dooope.”
“That’s what I thought it was too!” Ruby chirped happily.
“Thank you,” Weiss said quietly, her lips twitching with the subtlest of pleased smiles. “And you, nice… punching. And Blake, nice… ribboning?”
“What about me?!” Ruby squeaked when it became clear Weiss wasn’t going to continue.
“You had… nice slicing. And shooting. And… shotcalling? Or whatever you want to call it.”
Ruby beamed. “Thanks!” So Weiss thought Ruby was awesome at three things!
“We were all awesome, guys,” Yang, giving Blake and Ruby another squeeze to reinforce the message. “Nice job.”
“We should get back to the professor, though,” Blake reminded them.
“Yeah, so she can tell us we’re awesome too,” Yang grinned.
“And, you know, to complete the mission?” Weiss grumbled.
“Sure, sure. That too.”
“How are we going to get back up the cliff?” Blake asked.
They all stared up at the top of the canyon wall several dozens of feet above them. Professor Goodwitch was there at the edge, looking down at them, arms crossed. She looked grumpy. Then again, she kinda always looked grumpy.
Then they all looked at Weiss.
“All I do is carry you guys,” she muttered, making Ruby burst out in delighted laughter.
“A’ight, team,” Ruby announced. “Let’s get this Hunt done.”