A city burned. The walls surrounding it are immense, created to defend man, woman and child from humanity's most dire enemy, but now they served a different purpose; they contained the chaos within, a barrier between the beasts and the madness. The city was vast, a fortress in disguise, and in all its immense glory it burned. From it issued bitter ash and desperate screams, dancing together in the chilled night air, rising up into the void that was the sky like the last, stuttering breaths of a fallen god. Countless dire-lights flickered within, and the bastion walls yet still served their purpose, a buffer against a sea of roiling, ravening blackness.
The Grimm had come, and they circle the last stand of the White Fang like crows, exalting in the slaughter, the pain, and the despair.
And yet they could feel that, even then, hope burned bright within that doomed place. Bright spots of relief, the cheers and roars of the victorious as they struck down their hated foe once more, one final time.
Brightest among them was a woman, a flare of righteous anger and resolve, standing atop the husk of a car in an abandoned street. On the opposite end of the street stand two figures, easily seen for the flames that surrounded them on all sides, implacable rage thundering through both their veins.
"It ends here, Cinder!" The lone woman shouted, deftly hefting her weapon with an ease borne of years of gruelling training and experience. She looked young, in her early twenties at most. Her singular, gleaming silver eye was hard, screaming defiance and challenge. Her hair was cropped short, hardly reaching her chin, a choppy mix of black and crimson. Her otherwise delicate features were marred only by a large eye mask covering the left side of her face, a simple black embossed with a white rose decal; her symbol. She was fairly tall, sitting just under six feet in height.
Her outfit was coloured consistently black and red. A corset wrapped round her waist, coming to rest just beneath her breasts, atop that was a light long sleeve jacket, and beneath it an elaborate black belt with her rose decal on her left hip. Beneath the belt, tied round her hips lay a barely visible, but familiar, orange scarf. Beneath a sizeable combat skirt sat black pants tucked into charcoal grey steel toed combat boots, topped with white fur trim. Adorning her right hand and forearm was a firing-gauntlet, steel studded red leather armour. Wrapped firmly around her shoulders was a long, well worn red cloak.
Both the man and the woman snarled in response to her challenge, and the battle was begun.
Ruby Rose spun Crescent Rose, her high-impact sniper-scythe, in a precise circle, handily deflecting the red dust blast that Roman Torchwick had attempted to blindside her with. The improved weapon, with a serrated edge and longer, sharper blade gleamed wickedly in the wavering firelight. Cinder, teeth bared in feral rage, screamed in frustration. The sounds of the battle happening in the streets around them echoed eerily in the night.
"Why won't you die?!" The flame-wielding criminal screamed. Ruby deigned not to answer, shifting into a low stance in order to begin her attack. In a blur of dented metal and shattered tarmac she tore along the street toward her opponents. Torchwick hardly had time to move, hissing a low breath as he narrowly dodged an unbelievably fast slice from the Crescent Rose aimed to hew his neck from his shoulders. Only the glint of the weapon's blade provided by a streetlight on the derelict road had saved his life as he stumbled backward from the deadly strike. Cinder capitalised on what little time she had gained, throwing her arms out in a gesture not unlike that of welcoming a friend, unleashing a wave of potent fire magic in an attempt to turn the scythe wielder into ash. As Cinder summoned a dazzling variety of flames Ruby approached, weaving gracefully within the napalm bolts and towering, twirling pillars of flame, systematically moving in and approaching her target.
"You've been trying to kill me for years! But it's too late now! You can't beat me Cinder!" Ruby yelled, dashing with her weapon raised toward the insane woman.
"I refuse! We are so close! Give up; you're the last one left Rose, victory will be ours!" Cinder roared in response, as Torchwick re-entered the fold, intercepting Ruby and engaging her in close combat.
Ruby swung vertically, from low to high, the weight of her weapon lending her swing immense power. Torchwick spun in a tight circle to the side, dancing around the blow, only to be startled when with a harsh bark the rifle discharged, allowing Rose to spin it in another upward, smaller upward strike at immense speed. His arm jarred, even reinforced with a heavy burst of his Aura, as he swung his cane in an attempt to deflect the broad blade. Ruby didn't even slow down, using the momentum to turn Crescent Rose around her midsection like a demented hoola hoop, the blade extending outward in a straight line. Roman cursed and dropped into a low roll to avoid the spinning strike at his midsection, receiving a sharp blow to the head as Rose kicked him in the head for his effort.
Roman was sent skipping down the street, tumbling and flailing, Rose's heavily Aura enhanced blow carrying an immense amount of power. Snapping her head up, Rose used her semblance to run to a wall, dodging a massive ball of obsidian shards conjured by Cinder. She met the wall with a sharp crack, the brickwork beginning to crumble beneath her heels. Completely horizontal, standing in the middle of the wall, she jumped off with all her power toward the recovering Roman, causing the already damaged bricks to explode inward in a shower of dust.
Torchwick swung upwards, concealing the act of one of his arms dropping to his side, reaching for a sidearm As always, trying to gain the upper hand with feints and trickery, but Ruby had seen it all before, and he had slowed considerably already, her previous attack seemingly having shaken him.
The skill difference was plain as day. Ruby, a prodigal student trained by one of the deadliest hunters on Remnant, Qrow the Hewer, then sent to the world's most prestigious combat school, and finally honed by years of combat. She was a storm of steel and fire, a truly beautiful expression of death brought down to the mortal real.
And then their was Torchwick, the world's greatest thief, super-criminal, ladies man, man's man, three times most eligible bachelor of the year, General of White Fang revolution and hunter dropout.
His cane, precious as it was to him, was totally inadequate weapon to take on a master of one of the deadliest, most well designed weapons in the world. It was a scant few seconds, hardly a to and fro, before Ruby had taken complete control of the fight and began asserting her dominance. She unleashed an incredible barrage of jumping, rolling strikes and slashes, breaking through his hard fought defence before he could even register the weakness. With barely a whisper, three slashes land on his body, the first two draining his aura completely in their attempts to save his limbs.
His Aura drained, the final attack hits home. His eyes widen as an intense burning pain registers. He gurgles and rasps as blood bubbles and erupts from the final, long, precise cut across his throat.
Walking up to him, Ruby plants a slow kick into his chest, pushing him over and sending him sprawling in the dirt, clutching at his neck and scrabbling feebly as he breathed his last. "After all these years, and you barely last a minute." Ruby said softly, her voice pained. "If only this could have happened sooner." She shook her head as his hacking, shuddering body slowly stilled, her scythe trailing blood as she flicked it through the air to clean it.
"Die!" The briefly forgotten opponent screeched. An immense fireball is flung from her fingers, burning white hot and fierce as a small sun. The ball collides, and a fantastic explosion turned everything in a ten-metre radius to all but dust. An ominous cloud of debris floated through the now darkened street, lit only by the shattered moon hanging solemnly above.
"Finally! Yes! Yes!" Cinder cackled joyously, her breathing laboured and harsh from her exertion. Pure, undiluted satisfaction burnt through her as she searched the space where her most deadly - and final - opponent once stood. Her laughter was cut abruptly short when a small object fluttered into her line of sight. Her hand snapped out and grasped it in an instant, reflexes still strung high. She regarded the small object, rubbing it between her long fingers.
A single, blood red rose petal.
Her eyes widened in brief panic, but before she could so much as move the fierce satisfaction in her chest was replaced by a metre of curved, serrated steel. Her feet were lifted off the floor as the blade was forced to protrude even further, curving messily upward from her stomach toward her face. Her screams were horrifying, laced equally with anguish and impotent rage, subtly mixing with the sound of her rapidly pooling bodily fluids.
"Grimm take you, bitch." A voice growled in her ear. "This is for my friends." Ruby said as she yanked the long blade out of her opponent. A spray of blood gleams as it flies off her weapon, glistening like morbid liquid jewels in the moonlight.
Cinder fell to her knees in agony, clutching the gaping wound in her chest in a pointless endeavour to survive. The tear is vicious, large and undeniably spells her imminent end. Her lifesblood slips and gushes through her fingers, forming a stick puddle all around her.
"After all these years... All this time you hunted me… And for some time I was running and fighting just to survive. But every time I got better, learnt a little more. You were your own worst enemy. You turned me in a warrior you couldn't defeat, sculpted by your own hand. Now look where we are." Ruby gestured expansively to the destroyed White Fang city-bastion. "I told you, Cinder. I told you, years ago, that you would die by my hand. Everything you did, everyone you killed," Her voice caught but she steadied herself. "It was for nothing." She hissed viciously, looking down her nose at her fallen enemy.
Slowly Cinder raised her eyes, meeting Ruby's own silver orb. Ruby hardly had time to think before she realised Cinder's eyes were burning; the telltale burning of her preparing one of her most powerful spells. Cinder gave her a vulpine, haunting smile, far too wide to be truly sane. Her dust infused body and clothes produced an ominous, incredibly bright light as she harnessed her favoured element. A heavy shimmer of heat appeared around her almost instantaneously.
Ruby didn't wait to stick around. Turning she activated her semblance to escape Cinder's final dread work. The subtle vibration she felt as she ran at impossible speeds was buzzing louder than it ever had before. Her scattered trails of petals was wide and long, indicating just how hard she was pushing herself.
Cinder erupted. A massive wall of white fire burst forth, forming a incandescent, doming explosion. It travelled unnaturally quickly, gaining ground on Ruby.
Ruby gritted her teeth and ran even faster, determined to outpace her foe's last, desperate gamble. The white explosion closed in. The vibrations intensified, and her limbs began visibly shaking.
Everything was crystal clear for a moment as the fire reached right behind her. The sour taste of ash and blood in her mouth, the cold sweat pouring down her body, the slight pains of the minor burns she sustained in her battle. The weariness and fatigue of her long war was suddenly extremely acute. The street was equally suddenly detailed in the extreme, every crack and break in the concrete burning into her senses.
The fire nipped at her heels and she pushed through the crystalline moment. She forced her aura and semblance to give more, to move faster. She felt like she might come apart she was vibrating so intensely.
The world started to tunnel oddly as she reached hitherto unknown speeds, the landscape stretching and warping like water poured down a pipe. The fire was centimetres from her back. She pushed once more, as hard as she could, and then she leapt. The fire closed in around her.
It didn't burn.
The fire fed the energy coursing through her being. The image of the street shifted and marred jaggedly. She was tossed to and fro as the world around her ruptured. Suddenly everything was pushing and pulling. All she could see and feel was her being moved in a thousand directions at once, inwards and outwards...
After an indescribable period of time the sensations lessen. The world shifted back into focus, pouring in around her in reverse. The vibrations lessened. With an odd whooshing, fluttering sound she was thrown into her new surroundings.
It was a veritable explosion of red rose petals as she started falling. A hard wooden floor rose up to meet her. Without thinking she landed in a neat roll, reaching and unsheathing Crescent Rose in a defensive twirl as she came upright.
"Wha-" "Gah!" Two voices yelped, startled, followed by a scream of fright and audible hissing. Ruby quickly took in her surroundings. Wooden floors, beige walls covered in posters, some bookshelves, desks and two sets of beds, poorly thrust one top of one another to create makeshift bunks…
Her eye snapped to the occupants, all of whom were staring at her. A girl with yellow eyes, long black hair and a bow, crouched in a ready posture on her bed, pistol drawn. A girl with lilac eyes and long yellow hair, standing tall, gauntlet clad hands raised ready for combat. A girl with ice blue eyes and white hair, placed in a duellist's stance, sword pointed down and ready.
A girl with identical, large silver eyes staring right back into her own, scythe clutched in loose, trembling fingers.
"…Mom?" Fifteen year old Ruby Rose choked out into the cutting silence of the room.
A rewrite of the first chapter, done nearly a year after I first began... yeah, definite improvement there.