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#neptune vasilias
RWBY plays Among Us (part 4):
Nora Valkyrie: Alright, it's a wrap. It's Blake, I saw her on camera.
Jaune Arc: Good enough for me, let's get her out-
Ruby Rose: -HOLD ON, YOU CAN'T JUST VOTE FOR A MEMBER OF MY TEAM LIKE THAT, WE NEED TO DISCUSS!
Nora Valkyrie: THERE'S NOTHING TO DISCUSS, I SAW HER-
Ruby Rose: (epic, passionate speech about how Blake is innocent and that she can't possibly be the impostor)
Yang Xiao Long: (just as passionate speech, but even angrier than Ruby's)
Yang Xiao Long: Okay...let's get back to the tasks. Can't believe those bozos tried to vote for Blakey-oh hey, Blake! And you have Sun and Ruby with you! Let's stick together-
Sun Wukong: SPAM THOSE W'S IN MY CHAT, LET'S GO! (Sun's chat stream is suddenly filled with responses of either 'W' or '#TeamFaunus')
Blake Belladonna: (smirks and sips her tea triumphantly while ignoring the angry texts she's getting from Ruby and Yang)
Nora Valkyrie: NO ONE LISTENS TO ME, I SWEAR! Thank you fearless leader for at least having my back.
Jaune Arc: ...I'm getting tired of losing at this game...
39 notes · See All

(After watching Game Grumps play DR this morning, I’ve had Danganronpa on the mind. So, I decided to write this up for fun)

Set-up: In an alternate universe, teams RWBY, JNPR, SSSN, and CFVY are invited to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, the next step to becoming Huntsmen and Huntresses after graduating from Beacon Academy. Monokuma traps the students there and forces them to kill each other in order to escape. 

Chapter 1

The motive for this round is “memory wipe”. If no one is killed in 24 hours, then their loved ones’ memories of them will be wiped out. No one will remember them outside of the school. This freaks out Yatsuhashi Daichi in particular due to his past traumatic experiences with his semblance. And sure enough, he is the first student to die.

During the class trial, the students have a hard time determining who the killer is. As they uncover the truth piece by piece, they soon discover that Yatsuhashi was not as innocent as it seemed. It turns out, he was actually PLANNING on committing a murder of his own. Ruby Rose then starts to wonder if Yatsuhashi was killed in self-defense, that he had actually carried out his plan but failed and was killed by his would-be victim. 

The students are about to give up until Nora Valkyrie points out that Yatsuhashi has an unexplained broken rib. The wound wasn’t fatal, which is why the students opted to ignore it. That’s when Ruby realizes that the injury could’ve been caused by a really strong punch. 

Cue the “CHOOSE THE GUILTY PERSON” minigame and Ruby selects Yang Xiao Long. After a long back-and-forth of Ruby picking apart the evidence and testimonies, as well as Yang defending herself, Ruby eventually proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Yang killed Yatsuhashi in self-defense. Yang breaks down, wondering if she inherited Uncle Qrow’s misfortune semblance.

Yang’s execution: Yang fights several robots dressed as the White Fang. Suddenly, she’s cornered by a robot dressed as Adam Taurus. Yang tries to fight him but Adam-bot strikes first, cutting off her arm (just like the show). This time, Adam-bot finishes the job by cutting off Yang’s other limbs before decapitating her. 

(students eliminated: Yatsuhashi Daichi, Yang Xiao Long / 14 students remaining)

(quick note: just like the actual Danganronpa series, I killed off Yang in the first chapter since the games killed off someone you thought would have been a major character for the rest of the game. Sayaka in DR1, Byakuya in DR2, and Kaede in DR3)

—————————————————————————————————

Chapter 2

The motive for this round is “2 lies and a truth”. The group is given three statements about each other, 2 of which are false and 1 which is true. To prevent the students from just confirming which is true and which is false, Monokuma clarifies that any student who reveals the information in their cards will be killed instantly. This greatly increases the paranoia among the group. Just to give an example of this motive, Ruby’s statements are:

1) Weiss Schnee’s sister, Winter, arrested Qrow Branwen for murder, which he was framed for (in this alternate universe, this turns out to be the true statement but was written by Monokuma out of context in order to make Ruby hate Weiss)

2) Blake Belladonna’s parents scammed Taiyang Xiao Long out of a deal that would’ve made him millions of liens.

3) Lie Ren mocked Summer Rose after her death and has even pissed on her tombstone

And the victim of this round is…Sage Ayana. During the class trial, the group discusses whether anyone had any statements involving Sage. The only ones who do turn out to be Jaune, Coco, and Blake. Ruby proves that Coco was in her room at the time of the murder while Blake is cleared by Sun Wukong (he says something about how Blake needed him for help with a special project).

Side note: Blake later reveals that her special project was investigating the academy to find any clues regarding Monokuma’s identity and what happened to Hope’s Peak. 

This leaves Jaune. After prying him for information, Jaune reveals that his statement about Sage was, “Sage Ayana was planning on blackmailing Jaune’s family after finding out he forged his transcripts”. Everyone starts suspecting Jaune of being the killer because of this. Then, surprisingly, Jaune admits to killing Sage. 

However, after analyzing the evidence, Ruby realizes that Jaune is innocent and is trying to cover for the real killer. Reasoning that Jaune would only do this for people he cared for, Ruby then realizes that the killer has to be someone from JNPR. And that person turns out to be…Pyrrha Nikos. 

Despite Jaune’s attempts to defend Pyrrha, Ruby eventually proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Pyrrha killed Sage. After admitting defeat, Pyrrha says that she killed Sage on accident. She and Jaune had confronted Sage and, after a heated argument, Jaune and Sage started fighting. Pyrrha intervened, resulting in Sage’s death. 

Pyrrha’s execution: Just like the show, Pyrrha is killed by incineration. However, before she dies, Pyrrha sees that the people “responsible” for killing her are robots made to look like JN_R. 

(students eliminated: Sage Ayana, Pyrrha Nikos / 12 students remaining) 

(quick note: just like the actual games, the execution in this chapter is meant to propel one character’s arc forward. Mondo in DR1 and Peko in DR2)

—————————————————————————————————

Chapter 3 

The motive for this round is control of the Schnee Dust Company. This immediately makes the group wary of Weiss, believing that she’ll try to murder someone in order to maintain control of her family’s business. Weiss tries to convince Ruby that she won’t do such a thing but Ruby, for the first time, is unconvinced of her friend’s intentions. 

This chapter is especially brutal since we have two murders to deal with. The first turns out to be Fox Alistair. Then, several minutes later, Neptune Vasilias ends up dead. 

The class trial for this chapter is especially complicated due to the two murders. First, the students find out that Neptune was the one who murdered Fox. Ruby wonders if Neptune wanted control of the Schnee Dust Company, to which Sun Wukong says that doesn’t sound like Neptune to him. When the students dig further into the evidence, they start to wonder if Neptune was working with someone.

Ruby proposes the theory that Neptune was ordered by someone to kill Fox. He was then killed by that same person so that the unknown person can claim credit for a murder and to create a complicated scenario that would help them avoid being exposed in trial. This leads to the students turning against Weiss. Ruby points out that Weiss had the most to lose from this motivation and that it would’ve been easy for her to get Neptune to do her dirty work for her (they are still romantically involved in this universe). 

After a round of intense questioning, Weiss finally breaks down and reveals that she did indeed plan everything out. She got Neptune to kill Fox and then planned to kill Neptune to complete her plan. However, she swears that she didn’t kill him. Someone else got to Neptune before she could. 

When Ruby wonders who else had a reason to kill Neptune, she realizes that the only people who could have a reason would have to be someone close to Fox. This person would also had to have seen Neptune kill Fox and were angered to the point of taking revenge, knowing that would make them the guilty party in the class trial. Ruby then narrows the suspects to two people; Fox’s teammates, Coco Adel and Velvet Scarlatina. 

After another intense round of questioning and battling both Coco and Velvet’s arguments, Coco finally admits to killing Neptune. She says that she saw the whole thing and because she was still dealing with Yatsuhashi’s death, she just “snapped”. Coco then bitterly remarks that if she had kept her cool and let Weiss go through with her plan, she would’ve gotten her revenge anyways since Weiss would’ve been exposed in trial. 

Coco’s execution: In a bit of irony, Coco is killed by Monokuma with her own miniguns 

(students eliminated: Fox Alistair, Neptune Vasilias, Coco Adel / 9 students remaining) 

(quick note: just like the games, 3 students are eliminated this round. Also, yes, this is a variation of the Celestia Ludenberg case) 

—————————————————————————————————

Chapter 4 

The motivation for this round is…nothing! Monokuma says that he was going to give them one but, based on the previous chapter, the group doesn’t need one due to Weiss’ presence. No one, not even Ruby, feels comfortable being around Weiss, despite all her attempts to get people to trust her again. 

Eventually, the group does start to warm up to Weiss again. However, that’s when Monokuma intervenes and claims that he helped Weiss with her plot to kill Fox and Neptune. When Ruby asks how he helped her, Monokuma says that in exchange for information on how to best accomplish her murder scheme, Weiss acted as his “mole” by reporting to him directly about the group’s actions. This further enrages the group, especially Blake since she’s been trying to find a way out of Hope’s Peak Academy.

Just as the group is about to imprison Weiss, she ends up dead. Ruby finds Weiss’ body in her room, apparently having committed suicide. Ruby even finds a suicide note by Weiss’ bedside drawer.

The class trial is initially seen as a piece of cake since it’s clear that Weiss committed suicide. It’s only Ruby and Blake who are unconvinced. They insist that the group review the evidence anyways since there might be something they’re missing. 

As the groups digs deeper into the evidence, the students realize that there was indeed more to this death than they originally thought. It turns out, Weiss DIDN’T commit suicide. Someone took advantage of the group’s paranoia surrounding Weiss and her own guilt from the previous trial. They then killed Weiss and made it look like she killed herself out of despair. 

The group then starts flip-flopping on who could’ve done this. First, the group targets Velvet since she could’ve been seeking to avenge Coco and Fox. Then, the group targets Sun Wukong since he was friends with Neptune and may have been furious over how his friend was manipulated. 

Eventually, the group exposes the true killer: Scarlet David. Turns out, he also had the same idea as everyone else and was hoping that the group would focus on Velvet and Sun. Scarlet then says that he had nothing against Weiss, it was purely just to survive. However, he also says that he was justified in what he did due to Weiss’ actions in chapter 3. 

Scarlet’s execution: Scarlet is incased in ice. He is then crushed to death by Weiss’ Arma Gigas as a bit of ironic revenge from beyond the grave. 

(students eliminated: Weiss Schnee, Scarlet David / 7 students remaining) 

—————————————————————————————————

Chapter 5

As the penultimate chapter, Blake’s side mission that was mentioned earlier takes the forefront. Since chapter 2, Blake, Sun, Ruby, and Jaune have been working together to solve the mystery of Hope’s Peak Academy, Monokuma, and what happened to them. In their investigation, the group discovers that a “great disaster” happened to Remnant and that it somehow involves Monokuma. 

There is no motivation this round once again. However, someone still ends up dead. The unlucky student this time around is…Nora Valkyrie. Ren is especially angered by this since Nora was his best friend/the person he was technically “together-together” with. During the investigation, Ruby is troubled by the fact that the evidence she’s been collecting doesn’t paint a logical picture. Unlike the previous murders, Nora’s death seems…unnatural. Like it shouldn’t have happened. 

The class trial for this case is arguably the toughest of the 6 trials. Nothing seems to go anywhere and, despite the breakthroughs made by Ruby, none of the evidence adds up to anything. Ruby then starts to suspect something about this trial; what if this trial is rigged? 

Ruby’s suspicions are somewhat confirmed when the group starts honing in on Blake and herself. Ren and Velvet accuse Blake and Ruby of being aloof from the group, to which they defend themselves by saying that they have their reasons for being on their own. Ruby starts to realize that this is what Monokuma wants and that Monokuma may have killed Nora himself in order to set up a case in which the only answer was either Blake or herself. 

Before Ruby can bring this up, Monokuma claims that he had nothing to do with Nora’s death. Knowing that the situation is doomed and that it was between her and Blake, Ruby takes the fall by saying that she has no alibi. Blake tries to stop Ruby from taking the fall but the group overrides her arguments. Ruby is voted off and, much to Blake and Ruby’s surprise, Monokuma proclaims that the group got the right answer. 

Ruby’s “execution”: Ruby is taken to an angry crowd where she’s laid down on a tree stump. An executioner wielding Crescent Rose appears, preparing to decapitate her. Before he can, Jaune Arc arrives and helps Ruby escape. To ensure Ruby survives, Jaune tosses Ruby down a garbage disposal chute. He’s then stabbed through the back by the executioner, killing him instantly. However, he dies with a smile on his face, knowing that he saved Ruby.  

(students eliminated: Nora Valkyrie, Jaune Arc / 5 students remaining)

—————————————————————————————————

Chapter 6 

Ruby wakes up in the garbage disposal, hazy but alive. As she gathers her bearings, she’s met by Blake Belladonna, who had jumped into a different garbage disposal chute to save her. Ruby and Blake make their way out of the area and back to the main lobby. When Monokuma says that Ruby has to be executed due to Jaune’s interference, Blake argues that Ruby should never have been declared guilty in the first place due to the previous trial being obviously rigged. Blake then says that they deserve a re-trial and if Ruby is declared guilty once again, then they will respect the verdict.

Monokuma reluctantly agrees to this, leading to Ruby and Blake realizing that Monokuma is purely observing their actions. He won’t actually involve himself in their deaths and actively encourages them to solve the murders on their own. It was almost as if he wanted them to solve their problems themselves. 

Ruby, Blake, Ren, Sun, and Velvet reconnect and, after squashing any previous feelings of distrust, agree to work together to solve Nora’s murder once and for all. In the class trial, the group hits all the same snags they hit in Chapter 5. However, this time, the group approaches the situation as if Nora’s death was rigged. That’s when Ruby realizes that they need to figure out how Nora even died in the first place.

When Ruby digs further into the evidence, Ruby realizes that Nora’s death was purely a freak occurrence. Turns out, she suffered a random brain aneurysm that had nothing to do with any of the investigations. After making this clear, the group discussion turns to who arranged her body to make it seem like she was murdered. 

After confirming that none of the group was involved in arranging Nora’s body (including Jaune), Ruby points to Monokuma as being responsible. Monokuma once again declares he had nothing to do with Nora’s death, to which Ruby points out a loophole; Monokuma DIDN’T kill Nora, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t arrange the scene afterwards. Ruby then points out that Monokuma used Nora’s sudden death to his advantage to get the group to turn against herself and Blake. 

With his act exposed, Monokuma decides to reveal himself. And it turns out that Monokuma this whole time was…Ozpin. Just then, the rest of Hope’s Peak Academy’s staff and students (who are really just the Beacon Academy staff) enter the trial room and congratulate the surviving students. Even the students’ families are there to cheer them on. 

The students are shocked when they hear the explanation behind Hope’s Peak Academy. Ozpin reveals that the entire mystery of Hope’s Peak Academy was just a set-up for the real experiment. This entire process, the true purpose of the killing game, was to weed out the weak students. He says that, due to the coming of the dark lord known as “Salem”, they needed Huntsmen and Huntresses who could survive the harshest of challenges. So, Ozpin and the rest of the Hope’s Peak staff devised the “Danganronpa experiment”. They would torture the potential students mentally and physically and those who were able to figure out Monokuma’s identity and survive the challenges would be fit to graduate to the second-level of Huntsman and Huntress training in Hope’s Peak. 

Ruby is horrified by this revelation. When she says that her family wouldn’t have approved of this, that’s when she sees that Qrow Branwen and Taiyang Xiao Long are in the room as well. They congratulate her on surviving “Danganronpa”, saying that she has what it takes to be a Huntress. They then reveal that they also survived a version of “Danganronpa”, which further shocks Ruby since they never told her about their experiences in Hope’s Peak. The game ends on that bittersweet note. 

Survivors: Ruby Rose, Blake Belladonna, Lie Ren, Sun Wukong, Velvet Scarlatina 

11 notes · See All

Jaune: Alright, you two, I want you both to listen to me very- Look at me! VERY! CAREFULLY! I’m trusting you two to be Adrian’s babysitters tonight. More importantly, Sapphy is trusting ME to trust YOU. Please, don’t make me regret this decision. Do? You? Understand?

Ruby: Yup!

Nora: Relax, Jaune-Jaune! We’ll be the best baby-sitters ever!

Jaune: (Narrows his eyes) You better…


Ruby: (Reading Adrian a bedtime story) …And they all lived happily ever after. The end. (Looks down) Aw! I thought you’d fall asleep by now!

Nora: So, what now?

Ruby: Well, there was this lullaby Yang sang to me once. It might work.

Nora: Nothing else to lose, right?


Little child, close your eyes~.

You’re like an angel in the moonlight~.

(Like an angel in the moonlight~.)

While you’re dreaming~,

A new day waits for you~.

(New day waits for you~.)

Let this lullaby carry you through~.

Shh~!

Adrian nods of to sleep until an explosion rocks the house as Nora and Ruby shred on guitars in the glow of the flames. In the back, Beowolves and Ursa rock out with their own heavy metal instruments. A Beowolf drives up in an off-road vehicle.

IT’S BEDTIME!

IT’S BEDTIME!

LET THIS ARMY OF GRIMM ROCK YOU TO SLEEP~!

IT’S BEDTIME~!

FUCKING BEDTIME~!

HAVE SWEET DREAMS WHILE I REV MY JEEP~!

Nora and the Grimm tear up the floor as they peel out. An Ursa shreds the best heavy metal guitar solo you’ve ever heard. Ruby cheers until she notices that Adrian is still awake and shivering. Ruby waves at Nora to stop. Nora kills the Grimm and crashes the vehicle.

Ruby: I noticed you’re still awake. Was it the guitar solo?

Nora: Was it the Grimm? (Adrian nods his head) Yeah, we’ve been told that.

Little child, just relax now.

Let Gerald play some soothing sax now.

“Gerald,” a Nevermore, squawks noisily into a saxophone. Nora hefts a jackhammer over her shoulder as she walks over to Adrian’s door.

I’ll use this jackhammer right outside your door~.

(Right outside your door~.)

The vibrations will help you sleep for sure~!

Adrian shrugs, and closes his eyes as he tries to sleep. He starts to breathe softly as the roaring beasts fade into the distance. He is only moments away from sleeping soundly.

Nora: (Tears through wildly on her tool) O-O-O-O-OH F-F-U-U-U-C-K-K-K!!!

Adrian awakes to a horrifying sight. Salem is here, and she cackles as she towers over the terrified child. Specialist Cordovin, arrives in her giant mech, headbanging to that sweet metal, and starts fighting Salem. In the port, the White Fang attack the sleeping city, their leader, Ghira Belladonna, faces off against the Junior Detectives. Meanwhile Ruby and Nora coo at a Grimm beaver they found, hungrily snapping at them.

IT’S BEDTIME!

IT’S BEDTIME!

LET THE LAUGHTER OF SALEM CLOSE YOUR SLEEPY EYES!

IT’S BEDTIME!

FUCKING BEDTIME!

FIGHTER MECHS TEARING ACROSS THE SKIES!

IT’S BEDTIME!

IT’S BEDTIME!

THERE’S A BOATLOAD OF PIRATES!

AND THEY’RE FIGHTING POLICE!

IT’S BEDTIME!

FUCKING BEDTIME!

HERE’S A CARNIVOROUS BEAVER!

AND HE’S HUNGRY FOR MEAT!

Adrian hides under his covers as Grimm chant for him to sleep in their odd, guttural way. Ruby decides to bore Adrian to sleep with facts. Nora finds a brand new toy.

“SLEEP! SLEEP!”

You ever wonder how ghosts can’t be stopped by, like, anything?

“SLEEP! SLEEP!”

Would you like to see a slideshow about where meat comes from?

“SLEEP! SLEEP!”

Apparently, lots of deadly Grimm know how to open doors! Who knew?!

“SLEEP! SLEEP!”

CHECK OUT MY AIR HORN!

Adrian opens his eyes to see Salem has summoned a Leviathan to attack the city. People are screaming in terror. The battle on the wharf continues. Jaune sees the carnage and screams as Salem continues to cackle.

IT’S BEDTIME!

IT’S BEDTIME!

LET THE PITSPAWN OF SALEM MELLOW ALL OF YOUR DREAMS!

IT’S BEDTIME!

FUCKING BEDTIME!

HERE’S ONE LAST CURDLING SCREAM!

Sun: Freeze!

Ghira: Avast, ye scurvy dogs!

Neptune: Put your clawed hands up!

Adrian passes out from the excitement. Nora and Ruby tuck him in and kiss his forehead. Ruby steps out, and Nora shuts the door.

Nora: Good night!

27 notes · See All
RWBY plays Among Us (part 2):
Ruby Rose: WEISSITWASBLAKE, WEISSITWASBLAKE, WEISSITWASBLAKE, WEISSITWASBLAKE-
Blake Belladonna: -Whoa, whoa, whoa, Ruby are you gonna let me talk-
Ruby Rose: WEISS, BLAKE VENTED AND KILLED SCARLET. I SAW THE WHOLE THING-
Blake Belladonna: Weiss, if you believe that nonsense, you're gonna throw the whole game for us!
Weiss Schnee: Will you dolts slow down, I can't think straight-
Ruby Rose: IT WAS BLAKE!
Blake Belladonna: NO, IT'S NOT ME. IT WAS RUBY!
Neptune Vasilias: GG! GG! LET'S GO RUBY! WOOOOOOO! I CAN'T BELIEVE WE PULLED THIS OFF!
Ruby Rose: (incoherent screams of joy, followed up by loud clapping noises)
Blake Belladonna: Wow...wow...wow...wow...WOW WEISS. WOW! Just...WOW!
Yang Xiao Long: Weiss, I'm calling you Eiss from now on. Because Ruby stole that W from us!
Scarlet David: (sounds of disappointed groaning)
Sun Wukong: Nep...bro, I've never felt this betrayed in a long while. Why you gotta self-report my body, man? Also, WHY WAS I THE FIRST TO DIE?
Nora Valkyrie: I FRICKIN KNEW IT WAS RUBY FROM THE START!
Jaune Arc: Damn it...I say that Ruby was sus ONE TIME! And then all of RWBY declares me as the impostor and votes me out! Look what happened! LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED!
Lie Ren: Honestly, I can't even be that mad. I'm just happy we at least got Neptune.
Weiss Schnee: (steps away from her laptop and starts pacing her room, fuming with anger)
43 notes · See All

(Danganronpa OST “Discussion - HEAT UP” playing in the background)

Blake Belladonna: In order to solve Coco Adel’s murder, we need to figure out who she was going to see last night.

Jaune Arc: And whoever met her ended up killing her…so what’s everyone’s alibis? 

Velvet Scarlatina: Well, I was fast asleep so it can’t be me.

Neptune Vasilias: And Weiss accidentally knocked me out….so there’s no way I could’ve met her!

Nora Valkyrie: Not that this needs repeating…but…I was spending the night in Renny’s room, so we’re both clear.

Yang Xiao Long: Argh, this is going nowhere…will someone please just confess to meeting Coco in the library!

Lie Ren: No one wants to take the fall…that means we’re all gonna die if we can’t figure it out. 

Weiss Schnee: …regardless of what Sun says about me, I swear that I was in my room the whole day!   

Ruby Rose: (thinking) Hmm…I feel like I heard something in that exchange that can point out who Coco was going to meet! I just need to confront that person’s statements!

(scene repeats, Ruby fast forwards the discussion) 

Yang Xiao Long: Argh, this is going nowhere…will someone please just confess to meeting Coco in the library!

Ruby Rose: (shoots truth bullet that reads ‘HIDDEN LIBRARY BOOKS’ at Yang’s statement) NO THAT’S WRONG! 

(scene shatters, back to normal cutscene mode)

Ruby Rose: Yang, how did you know that Coco was going to the library? We found her body in the bathroom. 

Yang Xiao Long: Gah! I mean… my tongue just slipped, okay! I guess I’ve been hanging out with Blake a little too much, hehe.

Ruby Rose: But…Yang, I haven’t mentioned this yet but I found library books in Coco’s backpack.

Yang Xiao Long: That’s…uh…um…

Blake Belladonna: What are you not telling us Yang?

Nora Valkyrie: OMG…don’t tell me you were the one who met Coco!

Yang Xiao Long: …I’M NOT THE KILLER! STOP GANGING UP ON ME!

11 notes · See All

Rosebud Prologue:The first move.

In times of despair and sorrow there are fundamentally two options. Wallow in it, or move forward despite through the pain. A wise person would recommend escaping one’s own personal suffering. A wiser man would ask the question nobody else does. When you move forward, what happens to things left behind? They don’t fade away, not always. Sometimes…they try to keep up.

It was just another day. Ruby was doing dishes while her fourteen year old daughter, Carmine, held her baby brother in her arms. The little monster was enjoying his bottle while his happy sister hummed Gold to him. Ruby couldn’t help but feel all warm inside. Carmine had been doing everything and more to help out. This past year could’ve been way harder without her, but now things had fallen into a decent routine. More importantly, Ruby could say goodbye to sweatpants again and hello to corsets! Her body was back in action like it was before pregnancy. Loving her children had no limits but it felt heavenly to not feel like a balloon again. Jaune never complained though. Most likely because it meant it was his turn to whip her into shape. The sneaky husband loved helping with her stretches.

Ruby put away the last dish and dried her hands. “Wanna switch off?” She asked, clearly seeing Carmine enjoy her current duty. The girl shook her head no. “I’m fine feeding Garnet. Just another role as big sis!” Her smile practically reached her eyes. Ruby noticed Carmine had her red contacts in. “Going somewhere soon?

“Yep. When dad gets back with groceries I’m gonna head out to do a bit of patrolling. Thought I’d stop by Sun’s place and see if Aero wanted to join. He gets snippy if I don’t at least try and convince him to join.” Ruby laughed, that was pretty on brand for the boy. “Just don’t go around town starting trouble. I’m tired of the cops telling me you’re playing vigilante.” Carmine couldn’t help scoff at such exaggerated claims. “How’s it my fault I happened to encounter a gang leader in his hidden base of operations? It was poorly hidden. Besides, the cops haven’t called in weeks.”

Ruby’s scroll immediately starts ringing with the Vacou police department ID on it. She turns to Carmine and sighs. “Listen, I was wild like this too, but not this wild.” Carmine raised an eyebrow. “But…I haven’t done anything. In a while, or that they can prove…” she hoped. Ruby only shook her head tiredly and answered. “What or who did Carmine break?” The officer laughed lightly before it faded off. “No no, this isn’t about Carmine. One of the stations a couple of miles out of the kingdom to the neighboring towns called our department. If I’m correct, you were very close with Maria Calavera, yes?” Ruby moved away from her kids and spoke lower. Maria had passed away several years ago. It was the first time Carmine looked so hurt. “Yes, is everything okay? Did something happen to her house,”

“Her home is fine, but not her tombstone. Apparently some punk kid decided to defile it. The cops are wondering if you can drop by and scare the punk into proper shape. You know how people get when they meet you. Also you take care and technically on it, so pressing charges have to come from you.” Ruby was still processing someone disrespecting a grave. To what gain? Maria had no more enemies. Not to mention that her grave wasn’t in a cemetery. It was moved to a hill near the outskirts. “Yeah I’ll show up. I can’t promise I won’t scare the kid to death though. I can’t believe a person did such a thing. This world I’ll tell ya; give me a few minutes to head out. Have them with me so they can admire their work before I make them clean it all up.” Ruby hung up and let out a sigh. There was always something.

“Everything okay?” Carmine asked. She walked towards her mother and held Garnet’s adorably chubby face in front of Ruby’s face. It was impossible not to smile at it. “Hehe, I’m fine. Looks like a certain baby is fine too. I might have to put this boy on a diet!” She poked his tummy and patted Carmine’s head. “I gotta go to your abuela’s gravesite. Somebody was messing with it and I gotta give them a stern talking to.” Carmine looked as stunned as Ruby did, then her face scowled. Ruby had seen that before. “Nah ah, you can not come and beat them up.”

Carmine poked her lips out. “You’re no fun. I guess I’ll keep the house safe with Garnet then.” As if she had a choice. Who else was gonna do it!? She stopped pouting when Ruby kissed her forehead. Carmine wanted to rub it off but her hands were full. “Mom!” Ruby stuck her tongue out childishly as she walked away. “Lock the door! You dad will be home soon.” The front door was closed and the house became a little more quiet. “Well it’s just you and I now.” Garnet blinked his eye at her curiously before spitting up a little on himself. Carmine closes her eyes to collect herself. “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

xxxx

The trip to Esperanza from the outskirts of Vacou was only a couple miles; not a real problem for someone who walked all the way to Haven. Ruby reached Maria’s small and festive hometown in about half an hour. It was still rather early for everyone to be out and about but noise and smells of food sizzling filled the air all the same. Ruby always liked this place. She spotted the tree that stood proudly on the hill on the other side of the town. Even from here she could see some limbs had been broken off and some kind of fabric flowing off of it. “Why would-ugh, teenagers.” Ruby groaned. Under the tree she could see a cop and another individual draped in a black hood. Now she was even more confused. An over eager fan or hater maybe? Many people around here loved Maria and her legendary status. Ruby wasted no time racing up to the vandalism, catching the raven haired officer off guard. Her emerald eyes bugged out at the sudden appearance.

“Gah! Wow, you’re faster up close. You should come with a bell.” Ruby chuckled at the statement. “I bet the grimm would love that idea.” A closer look at the tree revealed more damaged limbs and roughed up ground. Ruby turned to the cloaked figure who avoided her gaze. They were taller than Ruby expected but that’s all she could decipher. “Care to explain why you felt so compelled to ruin a memorial? Disrespecting the dead is pretty low.” She said firmly, crossing her arms for more affect.

The person hid further in their hood. Ruby waited for any possible response but there was only silence. They looked at the ground and dug their right foot into the dirt. The cop touched Ruby soldier. “He’s been pretty silent since I caught him red handed. There’s a mark on the back of the tree they spray painted. I can’t make sense of it but I was hoping you might be able to. For all I know, no gangs use that tag.” Ruby pointed star the culprit. “Don’t you dare try to run. We’re not finished young man.” He nodded. Ruby backed away slowly. There were always a few that tried running. It was as if they forgot what her semblance was.

A few steps from her and the cop told her that the dude was just gonna stay there. She finally turned around to examine the tree. “You said the back right? Gangs spray paint all the time so I might not know what….” her voice drifted into silence as she reached the other side of the trees. She had to take a few steps back to make sure she was seeing things okay. “This-This is…” words still eluded her as Ruby stared at black spray paint that perfectly made the image of a queen chess piece. Ruby could feel her face lose its color. “Cinder…” it was as if her name was a trigger for disaster. The tree suddenly was cut into by a blade that pierced the other side. Ruby was barely able to dodge the surprise attack, getting a clear view of the weapon. It was a scythe. Their culprit was holding a standard scythe that counted swinging at her. A small smirk was visible on the young man’s face as he came at her in full force.

The scythe constantly spun in his hand as he tried to swipe Ruby.The woman was done being surprised however. Ruby easily ducked and whipped out Cresent Rose. “Wanna play huh? Fine.” She hissed. Fighting first and asking questions later was something Ruby could get behind. She gripped the pole of her weapon tight and swung horizontally. The force alone caused enough pressure to push her opponent back while the blade barely scratched his torso. He had good reflexes. Ruby blitzed behind him and slashed him back before disappearing and reappearing in front of him. Ruby spun the bottom of her scythe and clipped his chin, then took a shot to thrust it forward. The sharp metal end would’ve connected to his face if an unexpected bullet didn’t hit Ruby in her arm. She turns her head to see the cop’s gun trained on her with deadly accuracy.

“What the hell are you-huh?” The emerald eyes of the cop turned pink and brown along with her hair. A familiar mischievous laughter comes from the old adversary as she twirls the gun and watches Ruby avoid the opponent in front of her. “Hey Rubes! You’re looking good; filled out quite a bit. I know your husband must like that.” She fired a few more bullets at Ruby’s feet to keep her moving as the red reaper was easily out classing the man in black, but he was nothing but persistent. He forced Ruby to jump by sweeping her feet and shoulder bashed her to the ground. Expert or not, Ruby was only so big. She quickly recovered by tumbling backwards and dashed towards Neo. For the first time in a long time, an ache more deadly than any blade pierced Ruby’s heart. Ruby couldn’t help but be bombarded with the memories of seventeen years ago.

“WHERE IS SHE!?” Ruby screamed at the smirking woman. That smirk pissed her off to no end. Not again, they’re not taking anything again. She swung Crescent Rose downward at Neo’s face, but quickly spun it sideways to shoot herself towards the right. The cloaked figure sprinted in front of her and blocked a horizontal slash that looked like it would’ve hit air, but wouldn’t. The Neo behind her shattered and the real one poked her head out from behind the man, happily surprised. “Damn, nothing gets past you anymore huh? Saw right through me.” Neo tried getting off another shot. “Still fast?” One bullet fired at close range only hit a rose petal. Instincts told Neo to push her partner out the way and duck. It was the right call. The edge of a scythe blade had been dropped and yanked backwards where Neo’s neck was. “I’m faster…”

Neo’s partner swung the end of the shaft to Neo to grab a hold of then Yanked her to safety behind him. “Phew, thanks darling. Told you she was the real deal.” Neo finally stopped smiling and glared at Ruby. “That’s What makes this next part so satisfying.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a detonator. Ruby’s body tensed up and her assault was halted. Neo’s thumb rubbed the top of the bottom rhythmically. “Guess where the bomb is?”

Ruby didn’t even flinch. “Leave the townspeople out of this or I swear-”

“Times up!” Neo hit the button and Ruby gasped. She went to dash at Neo but was hit in the side with a scythe from behind. The image in front of her shattered as she stumbled into it. An anger growl left her throat as Neo laughed. “Hahaha, kidding! This trigger does nothing.” She tossed it to the ground. “Still gullible after all these years. How are you not dead? Oh wait, others die for you.”

“Little…” Ruby grit her teeth and fired round after round at Neo. The cloaked man spun his scythe to deflect each one. He jumped forward with a downward slash but missed. Ruby spun in a tight vortex of petals that kept his feet fry the ground. She hooked his scythe with hers and yanked it out of his hands then hurled it Neo; not a shred of concern was seen as Neo leaned to the side and caught it. She turned to wink but saw Ruby behind her partner with the man on one knee and gripping the pole off Crescent Rose in an attempt to remove it from his neck before Ruby could choke him out. Neo pointed her pistol again but didn’t pull the trigger. With most of Ruby’s body behind his, it wouldn’t be a good idea to test her aim.

“Heroes take hostages now? That’s so cold”

“You would know.” Ruby pulled harder. “Must mean a lot to you if you’re not shooting. Where’s Cinder?”

“What? Am I not enough for you? Is my vengeance second rate? I thought you’d like me more after all we’ve been through.” Neo pouted.

“LAST CHANCE! OR-” Neo dropped the gun and yawned. “Or what? You’ll strangle him? That would be a terrible way to end a reunion, right Dustin?”

Just like that, Ruby felt her body go numb. “D-Dustin?” She muttered. Her grip accidentally loosened and the man ducked under the metal bar against his neck and rolled away in less than a second. The ground beneath Ruby trembled. Vines armed with thrones shot from the dirt and wrapped around her legs, waist, arms, and neck like barbed wire that pulled her down to her knees. The pain drained and felt a numbing, but Ruby could only stare at the black roses that bloomed on them slowly as the man walked towards Neo and grabbed his scythe. He looked back at Ruby who stared in disbelief, tears flooding her eyes. “D-Dustin…?” She repeated, her voice cracking. Ruby watched the man pull the hood off. Suddenly the world didn’t seem real. Her body felt ice cold with only the warmth of her tears on her face that came from silver eyes that became dim and cloudy; a perfect reflection of the ones in front her. Including the red and black hair. The difference being it was on a face that reflected not just her, but the man she married. It was only once, but Ruby never forgot that face. The face of the boy that made her a mother. The face she mourned for more times then she dared remember.

He finally spoke, “Hey mom. Glad you can make it.” The weight of cold and dense bone gripped Ruby’s shoulder. There wasn’t a nerve in her body that didn’t feel like fire and a heartbeat that didn’t sound like a boombox in her eardrums. If she was trembling before then she was now. Ruby didn’t even bother looking up. The shadow on the ground was enough. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s been quite some time since I met your mother in person. Isn’t that right?” The hand grabbed Ruby’s chin and turned it up to the right. Now Ruby had no choice but to look.

Cinder stood there looking down. Her previous outfit was ditched for dark purple leather pants and a black shirt that faintly glowed a deep fiery red like her heels. Not only was her arm different, looking fully formed and in case the bone armor grimm is known for, her eyes weren’t the same. One remained the same as before. The one that was never harmed. It was the injured one that made Ruby’s mouth run dry. The eye, it was silver as well. “Why don’t we catch up a bit? Normally I’m on a time crunch but since everyone is held up….” She turned Ruby’s head to the left and let her see what she had been missing out on. The wind around Vacou had picked up and turned a dust storm. In it, Ruby saw thousands of red eyes and the sign of fire. Alarm sirens blared seconds later.

“My gods…” Ruby gasped.

“Got to love subterranean grimm. Just have them move slow enough and a little magic to tip the weather in your advantage, then boom. Ambushed without a warning.” Cinder finally let her go sauntered over to Neo and Dustin. “Unfortunately it’s more smoke and mirrors than an actual bang. Tragedies on the scale of Beacon’s are hard to replicate. All you kids have grown up now and everywhere. It’s a pain in the ass. This event was just made to keep us uninterrupted.” Ruby tried struggling through the vines but could barely move. Every shift made her wince as they tightened. Not only that, but she actually felt weaker. They were doing more than restraining her. Cinder found amusement in the struggle. “Your son’s semblance is pretty annoying, isn’t it? Best not to move. Dustin, don’t over do it. I still want my fun.”

The pain eased and her strength was less inhibited. Ruby still couldn’t believe what was happening. She stared at her child who stared back, despondent. “Dustin, it’s me. I’m-”

He silenced her by tightening the single vine on her neck quickly. “I know exactly who you are.” Anger and vigor flooded his eyes in a glare that could only be seen as murderous. “And I have nothing to say to you.” Cinder rubbed his back. “Don’t mind him. You know how teens are, all rebellious and angry.” This situation was going so well she couldn’t help but laugh. “That being said, he’s grown into such a fine young man under my-”

“Ahem!” Neo said loudly. Cinder rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Under our guidance. He’s been quite helpful. Killing silver eyed people and learning their abilities has been far easier when he started helping out. It’s a shame, getting old that is. I used to go collecting by myself. Now he brings back the prizes for me sometimes.” Cinder rubbed the side of her face and saw Ruby shiver in shock. Their attention to each other was disrupted by a flashing light from Ruby’s pocket. The girl tried struggling again as Cinder reached for it and pulled out a scroll. Today got even surprisingly better all thanks to a home screen. “Oh well you look at that? Carmine was a person we expected to hear at least once, but I had no idea about the third one. What a handsome boy.”

Dustin’s body tensed tightly. “What…?” He muttered. Cinder tossed him the phone and sure enough, there the baby was with the rest of the family. Brand new silver eyes and all. The photo was blurred as Carmine’s name came up as the scroll rang. There was no hesitation in answering.

“Mom! Vacou’s being attacked and dad still isn’t back. Garnet is fine and no grimm are heading this way yet but-”

“CARMINE! TAKE YOUR BROTHER AND RUN!” Ruby screamed as loud as possible. Dustin hung up and looked at Cinder and she nodded. “Time for a family reunion.” She snapped her fingers and a nevermore descended from the sky for Dustin to jump on and head towards his brother and sister. Even with him gone, his vines still had a grasp on Ruby. It was weaker but the numbing pain still ran through her as she finally forced her way out of the ones around her arms and neck; air and sensation tried to fill her being again as she fell on her hands and knees. “My son, what did you do to him?” She raises her head with tears running down her face. Moving now would be stupid. Ruby had no choice but to recover.

“Me? You make it sound like I brainwashed him or abused him. No, no such thing.Granted it wasn’t my idea to keep him. The boy would’ve been dumped in a grimm pool or something if I had my way, then Neo had to step in and proposed a better idea.”

“Disguising as your nurse was far too much work to just have it end with a dead newborn. Besides, even I have my limits unlike some people” she glares the hell out of Cinder. “I can play the long game. A missing son returning to his family to erase it? That’s way more interesting don’t you think?”

Cinder circled around Ruby, watching the girl carefully as she indulged herself with explaining how a day like this could happen.“You asked me what I did to him. I did the only thing that made sense. I told the truth.” Ruby’s face softened. Her eyes scanned the ground as she tried to understand. The truth? Cinder groaned, “Boring I know, but a lie this big would be impossible. Ruby Rose, a name known by every last goddamn soul on Remnant. Between that and Dustin’s features, he’d figure out that he wasn’t ours sooner or later, so I told him exactly who he was. A child stolen by a hero’s worst enemy. You should’ve seen the way he wept for you. I told him all I could. How incredible your reputation was to the masses and how you would be remembered throughout history for all time along with your friends. Surely a hero that elite would rescue their son, right?” She smirked, Cinder could see Ruby get pale from the implications.

“He…was waiting for me.” Ruby’s voice crackled and shook. A stark contrast from the laughter Cinder had. “Hahaha, oh he did more than wait! Time after time, your son tried escaping. Each attempt meant him killing grimm that I didn’t even have to influence, and each time it was up to either me or Neo to save his life. His will was quite astonishing, his mind sharp. He tried for years until one day…he actually escaped.”

“What?” Ruby wasn’t expecting Cinder to say that. “He escaped?” Cinder pulled out a scroll and nodded, “He was young too. Barely twelve if I remember. At this point I was at my wits end. I thought my choices were to cut my losses or kill him out of spite; Never did I expect him to come back with a look in his eyes I’ve never seen. The anger for his situation had changed. All because of one simple little thing.” The scroll was flipped around for Ruby to see. “Remember this day?”

Of all the things that Ruby expected, a picture of her from an old news photo wasn’t one of them. It was her holding Carmen up proudly after the girl’s first tournament. Her daughter had entered a jr competition at eight and took first place. Cinder put the scroll away. “Apparently he made it all the way to that event. Imagine the look on his face, seeing you smiling so purely with the sister he had no clue about? All that faith he put into you…and it meant nothing. Congratulations, how’s it feel to move forward? It brought him closer to me. My sweet Dustin.” Cinder and Neo fawned dramatically. Their laughter grew as Ruby’s anger rose. Her blood started to feel like it’s boiling and vision started to blur. Her eyes started glowing before flickering in and out constantly as she tried her damnedest to eradicate Cinder to no avail. A pounding in her head started forming that made her grip it. Cinder bent down and tugged hard on Ruby’s hair to stare right into her face with complete disdain. “That’s right Ruby, hate me. Hate me as much as I hate you. This isn’t about justice or preservation. Your anger vs ours. Let’s see who edges out.” Cinder backs away and blasts a wave of ice that only freezes then shatters only the vines. Crescent Rose is stabbed into the ground next to Ruby. This day was unavoidable. These feelings had been building a festering for years. Not just because of Dustin. Beacon, Pyrrha, the friends she’s hurt; the despair Cinder brought into Ruby’s life was too much and too often. Ruby had enough. She pulled herself up off the ground with her scythe. Eyes devoid of light beamed into the two pairs of glimmering evil as the clouds darkened the sky. Ruby could only think of one thing.The only thing that Cinder had thought about for ages.

I’m gonna kill you.

xxxx

The sounds of thunder and gun fire raged through and electrified the air as Dustin rode the nevermore. He looked back to see a concentration of wind and varying elements coming from where he left. “Looks like they’ve gotten serious. Time for me to get my party started.” He would be over Ruby’s house in a matter of minutes. Karma was finally gonna come knocking on her door. “A shame she won’t see this. Alright, time to see what my little sister I made-” a sudden pressure and force came upwards that hit like a canon. Next thing Dustin knew, the nevermore no longer had a head and was swan dive to the ground. He quickly jumped from the bird and rolled onto the sand to break his fall. Carmine watched the whole thing while cleaning grimm blood of her blade several feet away.

I’ve never heard mom sound so panicked before. Grimm herds aren’t anything we haven’t handled before so I knew there was more to the situation; but what exactly is the more?” Carmine couldn’t make out his face from distance but the scythe on the sand and cloak were more than enough to be off putting. She stepped closer cautiously. The color of his hair and eyes immediately made her stop and jump back, placing her sword in front of her body as he stood. “Stop! Who are you?” He patted himself off and looked at his sister. Admittedly, he was caught off guard. This was already more interesting than he anticipated.

“What on Remnant possessed you to take out a grimm mid-flight? I doubt you noticed me.”

“A lone grimm going after a house outside of the kingdom when its friends are having a blast inside is pretty freaking suspicious. Now answer my question!” Her body tensed. Carmine didn’t know why but she felt as if his gaze alone might swallow her up like a pit of tar. There was no mistaking that color. His eyes looked fogged and hazy but they were definitely silver. Then there was his face. Carmine never imagined Garnet would look like grown up but this man’s face would’ve been pretty close.

“Huh, figures they never mentioned me. It was probably too shameful and humiliating to reveal such a major example of arrogance.” His words felt like venom and on the verge of being unhinged, yet maintaining a low tone of composure as he grabbed his weapon. “I think you already have a good guess on who I am, or do you need a closer look?”

Carmine saw the man vanish in the blink of an eye. She quickly rose her sword in front of her in a block that covered her entire body. A clash of metal crashed right into it and rattled her arms from the force. Now they were face to face with a similar look of intensity. “I….I don’t understand what’s going on!” Saying that this was unnerving was an understatement. Carmine has a job to do though. The longer he was with her, the further her clone was with Garnet. The only regret was splitting her sure evenly. Fighting an unknown opponent could go wrong.

“It’s simple really. You’re not the first born child of Jaune Arc and Ruby Rose. That kid got snatched by a witch.”

Carmine’s world felt like it stopped. “Cinder Fall.”

“Bingo.” A vine shot from the ground and wrapped around Carmine before flinging her. Dustin followed up with a leaping downward strike but Carmine corrected herself mid-air yo block it. “Heh, look at you…” his hand slid to the bottom of his scythe and started swiping side to side against Carmine’s defenses. Each contact made sparks fly and her arms ache from the weight of the attack. She couldn’t take it anymore and ducked under the next attack to get in close. Both opponents were no stranger to the limitations of a scythe or had to overcome them. Carmine knew he was likely to pull the entire thing back by bringing his hand to the top of the shaft, so she jumped straight up and grabbed her curved blade, Stamen, from both ends and swung it down to have it drop like a guillotine. The impact left a small crater where Dustin stood before he jumped out of the way. She had no expectations of hitting him but she needed breathing room. It was her turn on offense.

Carmine shot off three aura slashes before pursuing him. She watched closely as his scythe spun to block the attack and leaped over him to get a hit in from behind. More vines shot up and stabbed her hand before connecting. A low hiss came from her. This was obviously his semblance but knowing it’s function was hard to tell. More shot up around her in a circle. A simple spin cut them down to size easily and she unleashed a flurry of rapid attacks that clanged and bashed against his scythe when she wasn’t missing him entirely.

“Geez, maybe I overestimated. All the talk about my little sister and this is it?”

“Big talk from someone fighting a kid, and we’re not family!” Carmine swung at his left torso but was stopped dead in her tracks when he grabbed the blade with his hand. A jab to the throat made Carmine choke on her own breath as Dustin twisted her arm behind her then put her in a choke hold. Her feet barely scraped the sand as she desperately tried to breathe. Carmine could feel his breath on her ear as he whispered angrily through his teeth.

“Don’t act stupid and face the facts. It’s the least a sorry excuse for a replacement; don’t even have silver eyes like our brother.” He squeezed her wrist so tight she could feel it start to give. Stamen was dropped as she tried not to scream. “As for the age difference, three years ago I was already filling graves. What do you do? Rule over the talentless? Tournaments are useless. Just like you.”

Carmine squirmed and bit her lip till she bled. Screw the pain and his words. Weak was the last thing she was, and she was gonna prove it. “LET. ME. GOOOO!” Carmine felt a pop in her wrist as she jerked forward, hard. Her feet stomped the ground and two rose clones appeared on each side, the first grabbed her sword and drove it against Dustin’s ribs. The blow broke his hold on the original by pushing him back. The second clone grabbed his legs so he would fall backwards. It worked. Dustin’s head hit the ground and he stared up to the sky as the first clone did the guillotine drop the original did earlier. “Take this!!!!” It screamed.

Dustin hit his fist against the ground. Vines shot pierced right through the clone then swooped low to stab the other. With the last of its strength, the first clone tossed the sword to the original as she watched her clones go limp; their bodies faded as black roses bloomed the vines. Maybe it was their manner of defeat, but Carmine started to sweat. She hadn’t even realized she picked up her blade and was backing away from the man surrounded by a garden of death. A gut feeling told her that being trapped in those spelled the end.

Her semblance was info Dustin knew nothing about. To see it was genuinely surprising, but nothing he had to fear. Not with Carmine looking like a deer in headlights. “Do you know what black roses symbolize?” Carmine didn’t answer. Instead she pulled out the second part of her weapon, Pistil, and combined it with Stamen. The blade curved downward while the collapsible tactical baton connected to the hilt to make her scythe. Dustin felt a surge of excitement run through him. Another surprise from his sister. “HAHAHAHA! Oh please don’t tell me you’re about to challenge me with that?” He laughed hysterically, his calm demeanor completely shifting to nothing short of rage. He stabbed his scythe in the ground. “Rotten Rose will ruin you.”

“Rosebud hasn’t failed me yet.” Carmine got low and held on with both hands. Her right wrist aches but adrenaline and necessity demanded its use. Carmine needed all the reach she could muster. Dustin was done talking and put up his hood. Alarms, screams, explosions, even the wind blowing felt muted to Carmine. The only thing that mattered was the reaper in front of her. She was going to get through this and reject those black roses. Today wasn’t death day. Not for her. The vines shot straight at her. Carmine shredded through them like a blender by twirling Rosebud. Two more vines from each side forced her to jump straight up. She pulled a trigger on the shaft of the used to be tactical baton. A slug round recoil sent her back to the ground where a massive sweeping attack severed the vines. It wasn’t enough.

Her brief rest was interrupted by more sprouting from the ground around her. Another gunshot sent her out of the center before they all stabbed her from every side. More and more dove in and out of the ground like serpents chasing prey. Dustin stood motionless as his sister fired herself in any direction she could to avoid a strike. Occasionally she was forced to stand her ground to cut several before dodging again. She tried to hide it, but Dustin could see the fear in her eyes. He was gonna force it out of her. A wall of thorny vines walled off Carmine from back stepping again. Dozens of vines came from everywhere in the front. The fear he wanted didn’t come. Carmine grit her teeth and started slashing through them head on.

Chunks of plants flew everywhere as Carmine hacked angrily through them. “Haaaaaa!” The girl could only scream through the pain as thorns scraped her skin like a million stabs. “Just…a little…more!!!!” She refused to stop until a swing cut through to the other side. The sight of Dustin’s shocked face spurred her on. Another gunshot was sending her straight at him with Rosebud’s blade eagerly awaiting to connect with his throat. “You’re done!!!!” All her force went into swinging the blade; too much strength in fact. Dustin simply leaned back Carmine completely whiffed. Her momentum kept her body rotating. In the moment her body had turned away from him, her eyes could only see the blood stained thorns she borrowed through. Carmine’s anger subsided and was reminded of the most basic rule of fighting. Keep track of your aura. Her mistake for forgetting was an instant and excruciating pain that crossed her from each shoulder down to the opposite hip. It all had happened so fast yet time felt slow as the ground seemed to rise to meet her.

Carmine laid face down on the ground. Her back started to feel wet. Like if someone was pouring something warm on it, something thick. Tears filled her eyes seconds later when the shock of it all was met by the stinging of sand and reality.

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH~

Carmine couldn’t stop screaming in agony. Her arms did her best to lift her but her right wrist gave out. Everything was giving out. There wasn’t a muscle that wasn’t shaking in her body. There wasn’t a thought of anything anymore with the sound of creeping plants and footsteps approaching while a shadow loomed over her. The silhouette of her blood dripping off the scythe that was ready to draw more. The shaft of it flipped her battered body over for her to stare into the eyes that should’ve been preserving life; but all she saw was them asking for hers. Was this despair? Carmine never felt anything like it before. For the first time in her life she felt powerless, weak. Her tears ran down her bloody and soiled face. “Pl-Please…” she said, quivering. “ I don’t wanna die…” she shut her eyes and lost all sense of self. “I DON’T WANNA DIE!!!”

CARMINE!!!” Multiple people cried out from a distance. Dustin turned his dead and was immediately blasted by a laser gun in the face that knocked him away. The current of electricity stunned him momentarily as he saw three more people. Two of them he had heard and learned about. The leader of team SSSN and his partner. The third was an unknown boy with bird wings that picked up Carmine while the other two stood in front of them. “Sun and Neptune. What are the odds the partners of a disbanded team are hanging out today of all days? One of you doesn’t even live on this continent.” He glared at Neptune.

The duo immediately recognized the man in front of them and gasped. No way they wouldn’t. Neptune gasped, “Is that…?”

“No way…” Sun said. He looked back at an injured Carmine then to Dustin. No doubt about it. He clapped his hands together and summoned clones. Now wasn’t the time to let his guard down. “I don’t know how you’re here but I’m not letting you go. Aero, get Carmine far away from here.”

“Not on my watch!” Dustin dashed forward immediately. Neither the clones or pro huntsman were quick enough to stop him blitzing the both of them. He reached to grab the boy holding his sister, then poof, nothing. It was like magic. Dustin blinked and they were gone. They went from right in front of him to already being in the sky, several minutes away. Whatever happened wasn’t speed. He didn’t know what that was, but it was definitely the boy’s doing. He looked back at Sun and Neptune who were charging at him in full force. Dustin clicked his teeth and sighed. Play time was over. “Two pro huntsmen like yourselves is way more than I bargained for. Especially after my other reunion, sorry.” A faint light in the distance caught his eye while planning his exit. Whatever it was had speed and was heading towards the storm over Cinder’s battle. “If I was a betting man…” Dustin used his vines to left himself into the air and grab a passing nevermore to ride, leaving Sun and Neptune in the dust.

“Damnit!” Sun yelled.

“Never mind him, let’s get back to town and help.” Neptune said, seeing the light. “Jaune’s gonna be pissed.”

xxxx

Aero was flying as fast as he could to the medical station set up. Finding Jaune or his friend would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. What he wouldn’t give to have a healing semblance right now. The blood that came from Carmine and dripped down his arms as she wept in pain was burning a memory into him he didn’t want to ever see again.

“Hang in there Carmine! You’re gonna be just fine. Your clone found my mom so don’t worry about Garnet. He’s perfectly fine.” He told her to ease whatever pain and stress he could. The way she clung close to him wasn’t inspiring any change. Carmine kept weeping and shaking.

“Hurts…” she winced. “It hurts so much.” Aero felt a lump in his throat. The boy kept flying with all his might. The tears of the strongest person he knew weighed heavily on his heart the entire flight.”

xxxx

That fight against Reaper and Maiden wasn’t fairing too much better. Neo could attest to that as she laid on the ground, aura flickering and writhing in pain. The normally dry, dusty air was soaked with pouring rain thanks to Cinder. Neo picked herself up painfully slow and could barely keep track of the hundreds of petals and embers that danced in the air over panicking villagers. Who would’ve thought Little Red would’ve grown into such a warrior? To Neo, both Cinder and Ruby might as well be freaks. She watched Crescent Rose carv through ice thicker than a goliath’s flesh and slam into Cinder. The woman went right through the already destroyed memorial tree before recovering with a tiny cyclone of lightning and fire that enveloped Ruby. That too was immediately reduced to nothing. Fortunately, Ruby looked tired. Her own aura and breath looked to be draining.

“Looks like this might be it.” Neo aimed her pistol. “Sorry Cinder, I get the kill-” the blur of bright light raced into view and then before Neo. Her eyes were witnesses to the shining white aura of a furious knight with a sword poised to strike her neck. Any time to move was erased to her as the blade was swung. The force would’ve been enough to take her head. The only thing stopping that was Dustin’s scythe between them that went unnoticed until now. Dustin’s arms went numb but his face remained stern as he stared at his father inches away who was lost for words.

“D-Dustin?” He uttered in disbelief. The hesitation left Jaune open for Dustin’s vines to grab him and throw him towards Ruby. The battling women had finally realized company had arrived

Dustin helped lift Neo to her feet. “You alright?” A pinch on the cheek and a nod told him that was a yes. Cinder landed near them while still facing Ruby and now Jaune.

“Why are you back?” She growled.

“Things got complicated, more huntsman. Time to go. We didn’t come here from a swan song.”

“Like hell! I’m just getting started.” Cinder made a bow and arrow out of lightning and took aim. “Ruby dies today.”

Not if Ruby had anything to say about it. She was ready for another exchange of blows but her anger was quelled when the sight of fresh blood was washing off of Dustin’s scythe. “Dustin, what did you do?Where’s Carmine and Garnet!?” Jaune was still shaken by who he was seeing. How was this possible? The sight of Cinder and Neo enraged him but the words Ruby said were brought to the forefront of his mind. “Carmine? Sun and Neptune should’ve-”

“I never saw Garnet.” Dustin interrupted. “As for Carmine…I’m sure she’s in shock by now. Fortunately for her my full swing wasn’t possible with how close she was. All blood, no lasting damage. Well…that’s not true. Trauma is tricky like that.” He smirked at his parent’s mortified faces. Dustin touched Cinder’s back. “Let’s go! We’ll kill them later. That wasn’t the point of this anyways.”

Ruby and Jaune tried their best to ready themselves as their son stepped forward and pointed at them. “Mark today. The peace you’ve cultivated in my absence will fall as easily as your daughter did, by my- our hands.”he declared. Ruby wasn’t even sure who she was looking at. The face she remembered was not covered in a hate and tragedy that mirrored the two by his side. Her heart couldn’t take it, it wouldn’t. Ruby was about to try and grab him when a shriek filled the air. The villagers down below were being trapped and attacked by vines. Ruby looked at Dustin. “Stop this!”

“You can either stop it yourself, or chase us. Choose fast. It’s not healthy to be wrapped too long.” The nevemore more extended its wing for them to walk on. He watched Ruby take another step before tightening his grip on screaming children. Ruby and Jaune looked in conflicting frustration before Jaune went to help them. “Ruby! I can’t do it all alone!”

Once again Ruby was asked to make the choice to chase her child or do her job. Grief filled her as she looked at him then stared at Cinder in seething hate. “Your head will roll if it’s the last thing I do.” Ruby threatened, joining Jaune to save the people. The nevermore took off and Cinder angrily aimed her bow before Neo blocked her sight with her umbrella.

“Don’t. Let’s not give them more reasons to hunt us now. It’s like Dustin said. This was just our first move. Break their world, then their lives. We waited this long. Just look at our handy work.”

Cinder watched the chaos of a small town and kingdom struggle with her grimm. To say it didn’t make her smile would be a lie. Yeah, she needed more of this. “It’s no Beacon, but it’s a damn good place to start.” Cinder looked at Dustin with more pride than she knew how to deal with. “Oh how I have high hopes for you. Do keep making your mothers proud. Dustin bowed respectively and watched the ruin along with her.

Finally a new game had started and the first move was theirs. Dustin couldn’t wait for his next one. “Here’s to a speedy recovery Carmine… Your big brother will be sure to visit.”

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