Author's Note: I know you're probably feeling a bit jerked around because I am rewriting this story again. I apologize sincerely. But as a reader, I felt my story was a hot mess. It was something I was not proud of. Hence this rewrite. And I can finally say, this is a chapter I am proud of. And this is the standard I want to maintain. And the new word minimum is 12,000. This chapter while similar to my older draft, I have added many new things and removed many others. As for my other chapters, some may be like this chapter while others will be radically different. Updates are still monthly, occurring on the third of each month. And consider this the only Author's Note you will see in a while. Thank you for understanding. Edited/Beta'd by Spartacus400.
Chapter 1: Little Red Riding Hood
An excerpt from a book long forgotten.
Once upon a time there one was a girl with a red cloak.
And she was alone.
But she wasn't always alone.
She once had a loving mother, father, and sister.
And then one by one, they left her.
Leaving the girl with the red cloak was alone in the woods with the big bad wolf.
Until a comforting flame approached the girl with a red cloak.
And her whole world changed forever.
She was alone. She was alone in every sense of the word. She had no one. She was abandoned in those darkened woods. Everyone had left her in the last few months. Her mom. Her hero, despite her pleas, went away on some mission. It was the first time that her mom left her because of a mission. And it was also her last because her loving mother came back dead.
And now, whenever she thought of her mother, all she could think about was that lifeless body and how she left her. She couldn't even remember the good times that she had with her. All those moments, smiling and laughing, were gone in an instant. Now her sole memory of her mom was that bloodied corpse that they buried on the cliff. And that broke her dad. She never knew what alcohol was until her dad came back the day after of the funeral, reeking of it.
And that was also the first time he had screamed at her. He called her a slew of harsh words that she barely understood but she could figure out the intent behind them. She was called worthless and was told that he hated her. She had never seen her dad like that, and she didn't like it. And since that day, all he did was drink and yell. He was supposed to be a hero. But in a way, he was dead too. But it was worse, the happy memories of her dad were twisted and destroyed the more her father drank.
She could no longer recall a time when her father was happy. Both of her parents abandoned her and it hurts her so much. But the one that hurt the most, was her older sister. She loved her. She used to be a bright, shining sun in her life. But those memories don't bring the same light as they used to. She used to look up to her sister and how she relied on her for support during those trying times.
She clung onto her sister like her life depended on it. But she could tell that her sister didn't want that responsibility. The responsibility to be more than a sibling, she didn't want to have the responsibility to be a guardian of someone else. The memory of her sister leaving was still fresh in her head. Moments ago, amidst their father's drunken yelling, he had told her sister the truth about her mother and how her real mother was still out there. And that was the excuse her sister was looking for to leave her and their "dad." Her sister didn't want to be a part of this broken family. Her sister had went into the woods at that moment, intending to escape that broken household. Their "dad" paid them no heed as her sister left. Her sister wanted to find her real mother, a real home.
But she didn't want to be left alone with their "dad" and so she rushed out to follow her sister into the woods. She didn't want to be alone. When she caught up to her sister, she found her stomping deep into the woods. She cried out behind her tromping sister. Her sister turned around, and the younger sibling almost didn't recognize her older sister. She begged and pleaded with her sister to let her come too. And while she was crying, she rushed out to her sister in one last attempt to plead with her.
And that's when she was struck by her sister. She landed on the ground with a thud. She started crying harder. Her sister, her hero, her protector had never hit her before. The betrayal had hit her deep, almost like a core part of her was ripped out.
And what her sister said next only made it hurt worse.
"I'm not your damn sister anymore! And I'm tired of helping of you! Your mom died! Not mine! It was always about you! You didn't give a damn about me! I sacrificed so fucking much for you and you never helped me! Do you know how many fucking times I took the hits for you?! The beatings I suffered for you!? Or how much time I wasted protectingyou?! You're weak! You never once thought about what I wanted! And even now, it's always about you. All you care about is yourself! Well, I am done!" Her former sister screamed.
Her sister was dead now too and standing before her was a stranger who hated her.
"No. Please don't leave me." Was all she could muster as a response. She knew it was selfish to ask that but she asked anyway. She didn't want to be alone.
"I HATE YOU!" Then her former sister responded with a violent scream and gave a harsh kick to the fallen girl's head. The harsh impact knocked the girl out cold, making her recall the horrible last few months. And then she woke up alone. She was alone. She laid there on the cold ground in the woods. She held onto her red cloak as if it would protect her from the dark woods. The red cloak was the only thing left from those happy days.
Even if she could no longer recall those fond memories, the red cloak still made her feel safe and happy. It was the only thing she had left. She clutched onto that red cloak for what seemed like an eternity. The woods were growing darker and darker. No matter the time of day, the woods were always dark. But the growing darkness was unnatural. The girl in the red cloak could feel that much. Still holding the red cloak, she got up slowly. She looked around in the dark woods and then she realized how lost she was.
The blow that her former sister dealt had disorientated the little girl. And the encroaching darkness was not helping either. She looked all around, but she didn't know where to go. She had no home now. She had no one to go to. Her former sister was all she had left. And now she was gone. But… the only person she possibly had was her Uncle Qrow. He was a hero like the rest of her family. But he had went on a mission awhile back, just like her mother. And she hadn't heard from him in a long time. He had left during those happy times. So he might as well be dead too. Her family were called heroes but why would they leave her? They had left her in the woods. She desperately wanted to believe that he would swoop in and take her in.
But that optimism was crushed under the harsh reminders of the last few months. Anyone she loved had left her, who was to say her Uncle won't do the same? They weren't heroes. Heroes wouldn't leave her alone. She was confused and angry. Part of her wanted everything to go back the way it was. But her former sister's words echoed in her ears. And then another part of her screamed out in anger towards her former and broken family. Did all of them leave because they hated her? Some part of her didn't want to believe in those thoughts, but it was the only thing that made sense.
Why else would they leave her? The girl shivered as a cold wind swept past her. She could see the shattered moon rising slowly into the sky. And then she heard the howls. She knew she had to run. The howls were echoing all throughout the forest. The girl was scared and did not know what to do. So she just ran. She ran as fast as she could.
But the howls were getting louder and louder. She could not escape the howling. Her speed was steadily decreasing as time went by. And the howling only got louder. Eventually she had to stop. She was out of breath.
Taking deep breaths as a small pain formed in her side, she looked around, trying to find the source of the howling. Then she heard heavy breathing behind her. Quickly turning around, the little girl was faced with a huge wolf with a skull-like face with bones protruding from its body. It was no ordinary wolf, it was a creature of Grimm. The only thing she could remember her dead parents telling her about Grimm, is that she should run. The wolf grinned with its razor sharp teeth and its red eyes were savoring the girl before it.
It howled at the shattered moon hanging in the sky. And several howls in the distance echoed back. The little girl started backing up slowly away from the wolf, until she bumped into something behind her. Before she could even turn to face whatever she bumped into, the wolf charged her and a set of sharp claws clamped into her right shoulder. The wolf gripped the little girl's shoulder before raising her into the air, clearly savoring the moment.
She was brought face to face with the huge wolf, teeth bared as though it was grinning. The little girl screamed in pain as tears started streaking down her face. The sharpened claws of the demonic wolf dug into the little girl's shoulders. She could feel the blood flow down her arm as the searing pain in her shoulder continued. The wolf howled as though it was laughing at her as she screamed in pain, helpless in her predicament. She flailed against the beast, hands striking at the Grimm in a futile effort to free herself.
The beast released its claws and threw her onto the ground, blood streaming from the wounds on her shoulders. It didn't let go because of the girl, but because it was like a child playing with its food before eating. She could feel the warm and wet blood coat her left hand as she held her wound. She tried crawling back with her one free hand but the wolf responded by snarling at her and she froze in fear. She knew the wolf was going to kill her. And she was going to die alone. She was going to die completely and utterly alone.
NO! NO! The realization of impending death had hit her. And the primal fear of death had her terrified. She didn't want to die! She didn't want to become a corpse like her mom! Her former sister's words taunted her. She was mad. She was angry! THEY LEFT HER TO DIE ALONE! She didn't want to die! She doesn't want to die alone and unloved! The wolf leapt onto her and the little girl held out her free hand in a desperate attempt to fend off the beast. The girl felt as though a protective covering went over her. The Grimm leapt at her, claws ready to tear her to pieces. Only for the wolf to be bounced back as if it had hit a shield.
Both the girl and the wolf stood there in shock, neither moving. The wolf, no longer sensing easy prey, held back and watched her carefully. The girl looked at her hands in shock. Her hands and her arms were glowing with a small red tint before the glow faded away. The pain in her shoulder faded away somewhat.
The pain was still there but it felt numb. The little girl remembered the stories that she grew up with, the stories with heroes and villains that wielded a mystical force called aura that protected and healed them. She used to love those stories, but right now, she hated those stories. Those stories were nothing but lies. She used to believe that her family were heroes. That her mom and dad were heroes who saved people and slayed monsters. But when it came to her, they left her all alone. And she found herself questioning if they really loved her.
If they loved her, why would they leave her? The wolf's growl snapped the girl out of her thoughts. She eyed the wolf cautiously. She had to run. She had a feeling that she couldn't rely on her aura forever. The little girl got up and started to run. She could hear the wolf howl once more in glee, almost like the wolf wanted a chase. She could hear the wolf behind her. The girl had to be faster. She had to get away! She could feel the wolf getting closer and closer as she could hear the wolf's snarls getting louder and louder.
She had be fast! She wanted to escape from everything. She wanted to escape from the wolf. She wanted to escape from her broken family. She wanted to escape from her sister's words. She wanted to escape. She could feel the wolf right at her heels. She focused on one thought, I have to be faster. And she felt a small tingling sensation wash over her body. Then she felt an enormous energy surge throughout her body. That energy started pushing her. She started running faster and faster, the wolf's angry snarls fading into the background.
The dark trees of the woods passed by as a blur as she continued to run. The little girl felt peace as the wind blew in her face and she felt her cloak flowing behind her. She turned to look behind her, to see if the wolf was still following. Red petals were flowing behind her, but no wolf. The little girl felt almost happy, all her problems were gone in the wind… for now. She grimaced at that thought and pushed herself to run faster, leaving a trail of red petals behind her.
Unfortunately that extra burst of speed briefly distracted the girl from noticing the huge tree rapidly approaching her. Before she could stop, she smashed head first into the tree and was knocked out. Shadows were cast over her as the shattered moon hung in the darkened sky as she lay unconscious on the ground, a howl shattering the silence of the night.
Wandering for hours on end in these woods was not part of the plan. But the whole point of her being here was to ensure she would not get lost in the woods the next time she was here. She took out her scroll and made several adjustments to her now-completed map.
It was beneficial to have a quick and efficient path through the woods to Signal Academy, but she had underestimated just how fucking thick Patch's woods were. Patch was suppose to be a small island but she was quickly getting the impression that people would get lost and die in these large woods. She sighed quietly. She needed to get more funds so she would pay someone else to wander these godforsaken woods. The dark trees were unnerving to say the least, and the shadows don't help either. She stopped as she came upon a clearing.
She recognized the clearing from the position of the trees, she had been here before. Now with her map, she could finally leave this island. She was about to move into the clearing until a red streak came blazing by before it slammed into a tree. She looked onto the form of the red streak more clearly now that it stopped. The red streak was a little girl that didn't look older than eight.
There was a trail of red rose petals all over the clearing, she noted. The little girl must have unlocked her aura and her semblance. Most likely just recently given her lack of control and age. It was impressive that a girl that young would have unlocked her aura and her semblance. Some people would train their whole lives to unlock their aura, never to do so.
Sometimes they took the shortcut and had their aura unlocked by someone else. And other times, people would have the worst moment of their lives and they would have their aura and semblance unlocked. The girl must have had a really bad day if she unlocked her aura this young. She doubted that her family would just unlock a child's aura, it would be agonizing for everyone involved. A child's aura was notoriously painful to just unlock by someone.
And given that it was illegal, she doubted that someone else unlocked it for her. Possibly an orphan, or perhaps she came from a bad home life, given the fact that a child wouldn't wander these woods willingly. She doubted that she was trained to unlock her aura.
'Is she a student?' she wondered, before she shook her head. The girl was too young to be in Signal. Primary combat academies like Signal started their "recruitment" at twelve years old. She could probably accept that some might get bumped up a year, but the age gap was too drastic. And she hadn't ever heard of anyone getting bumped up more than a year.
Now what was she to do? Part of her wanted to leave her. Then she thought on how to make this situation benefit her. She was planning on taking on a lot of people in the future. Everyone from headmasters to huntsmen, and as good as she was, she would still be shorthanded. It might be beneficial to train someone that had already unlocked their aura.
This girl had huge potential. It would even the odds; they trained their students, and she would train hers. Besides, she would surely be "recruited" later in her life if the girl survived these woods but if she took her in, it would help with one less future huntress to fight. And under her tutelage, the girl would be a force to reckon with, and she needed all the help she can get. But there was a problem. The girl was young. She would have to raise the girl.
She would not lie to herself and say that it would be strictly a teacher-student relationship. There was a difference between having an apprentice and having child soldiers. She would seriously be limiting the girl's potential if she reduced her to nothing more than a child soldier. Someone with aura could be very powerful if they were taught properly. And child soldiers were nothing but cannon fodder. By taking in this girl, she would be responsible for her. She would be teaching her and raising her. If the girl was older, it would be a different story. But she had to be raised.
She would almost certainly form some sort of bond with the girl. Was she ready for that? Did she really want herself to get close with someone again? Was she ready for a commitment like that? Her thoughts turned to the girl. Would she even have a say in this? If she didn't want to come, would she just abduct the child? She was practically taking a girl on a whim. What if she was wrong and she had a concerned family? She did not need a family coming after her because she took their child. She heard a howl echo throughout the woods.
And a Beowolf emerged into the clearing. It started stalking towards the fallen girl. She would have to make her choice fast. She decided on a compromise. She could afford to play the role of a good person for now. Save the girl and if she was right about the girl and if she could be persuaded to come with, she would have a new ally for the future. And if she was wrong about the family or the girl didn't want to come, then the Grimm can have the little girl.
The girl was still unconscious as the Beowolf loomed over her. Summoning her weapon, a flash of fire appeared on her hands, and then her black bow was in her hands with a dust arrow ready to be fired. Taking aim, she launched the arrow right at the Grimm.
The arrow struck the Beowolf right on its back. The Grimm turned around to face her. It snarled at her and she smiled in response. The arrow then let loose a fiery explosion. And the Grimm was nothing but ash. She approached the unconscious girl, who began to stir as the woman got closer. The little girl awoke to the sight of a woman with fiery eyes looking at her and the smell of burnt meat in the air.
"Hi?" the little girl said slowly.
"Hello." the woman said calmly.
"Who are you?" the girl asked.
"My name is Cinder. What's yours?" Cinder said gently.
"Ru..by… Rose. Ruby Rose. It's Ruby Rose." The girl stuttered out.
"A pretty name for a pretty girl. But why are you out here all alone? If I wasn't nearby, you would have been killed by that Grimm," she said with a concerned tone.
Ruby looked down, clearly downtrodden. "I… they..." Ruby paused, looking at the woman who saved her. The girl saw sympathetic eyes, motioning for her to continue, unaware of the fire behind them. "My family… they…" Ruby started, before taking a small gulp. "They...left me. They said that they hate me," Ruby tried to hold back her tears, but she could not. Telling Cinder about it made the truth inescapable in her mind.
Cinder didn't know what to do at first. Until the crying girl reminded Cinder of how she used to be. Alone, scared. Cinder remembered how she felt. All alone, wanting someone to comfort her. Cinder hugged the crying girl, which only caused Ruby to cry harder. She had forgotten how a loving hug felt;, all she could remember was the hatred that she had to endure.
"Why… Why would they leave me? They are suppose to be heroes." Ruby whispered.
Cinder had a brief smile on her face. She whispered to Ruby. "Heroes aren't good." Ruby stopped crying and gave Cinder a look of confusion.
"What… what do you mean?" she asked. Heroes were good, right? But then why would they leave her?
"Heroes would not leave you alone to die. But they did. Heroes pretend to be good, and then they hurt you." Cinder said.
Her words hung in the air and Ruby processed the words slowly. It was the only thing that made sense for the young girl. It would explain why her sister would protect her and then leave her to die. She took a deep breath as she processed that information. She accepted that as fact. Heroes were not good people, they pretended to be good. And then they hurt and hurt others. Then Ruby realized something.
"If heroes are bad, why would you save me?" Ruby asked.
"Heroes lie. They pretend to be something they are not." Cinder paused as Ruby looked down for a moment. "But I am not like them. I promise I will never lie to you. But do you really want to know why I saved you?" Ruby nodded her head slowly. "I see potential in you. Because you see, heroes have hurt me too. And I want to make them pay. And I was wondering if you could help me." Cinder said. Ruby was shocked.
"M… me? Why me? I am… weak. All I can do is run fast." Ruby said quietly.
"Hey. Don't you say anything like that. You aren't weak. You just need training. And I can help you train. But do you want to see those heroes pay?" Cinder asked gently.
"I do. I want to make those heroes pay. But," Cinder looked at her with curiosity. "I don't want to be alone anymore."Ruby said. Cinder smiled. She grabbed the little girl's hand.
"You won't be alone anymore." She gave a small smile to the little girl. And she walked with the little girl out of the woods still holding Ruby's hand but there was a lone thought in Cinder's head. Was that my first real smile in so long?
Emerging from the dark woods, they arrived onto Signal's beaches. The shattered moon shone brightly in the sky as Ruby looked up at it.. It seemed to be shining brightly like a candle slowly burning. Ruby turned to look at the woman who had saved her and taken her in. Her face was contorted into one of intense thinking. Cinder brought the little girl to a small black motorboat resting on the shore, motioning for Ruby to help push the boat onto the water.
Ruby was happy to oblige. She was happy to be doing something for someone. She was happy that she was no longer alone. Once the boat was in the water, Ruby hopped into boat after Cinder. The boat roared to life as they sped across the darkened oceans. Cinder's face was deep in thought before it twisted into something dark and mean. Cinder took notice of Ruby looking at her, and she flashed her a quick smile. Ruby smiled back at her. It was nice to smile after so long.
Ruby stared at the shattered moon once more as it lulled her into a deep sleep. Cinder watched as the girl's silver eyes faded away before she turned to continue piloting the boat. It was certainly an unexpected turn of events for her. She wasn't expecting to pick up a kid with her semblance unlocked. And that brought a flurry of challenges. She now had to divide up her funds to train this girl, but hopefully the long term investment would be worth it.
And there was also that issue. Cinder would be a fool not to recognize it. She was already… softer around Ruby. Something about the girl reminded her of herself at that age. She always had a soft spot for children, but nothing like what she was feeling for Ruby. The girl was hers and she felt protective for her. Even if it was only a little bit, Cinder was… unnerved by it.
She had appearances to keep up. It's not easy appearing to be all ominous and threatening all the time. Image was everything. But as long as she could contain the tenderness when it wasn't just her and Ruby, no harm done. And yet, while she was expecting some sort of bond, she wasn't expecting to form an attachment this early. Maybe it's because she had been doing this alone for too long. Humans are social creatures, they should naturally form connections with others.
But she found it funny with all the fucked up things she did and lived through, she was worrying over raising and teaching a girl. A small frown appeared on her face. The girl's training would have to be hard and vigorous, nothing less. But it was necessary for her, for both of them. She remembered her goals and slowly her anxiousness lessened. By aiding her, the girl wouldn't suffer but she would go through hardships. But hardships are inevitable in this world, it is better to prepare her for them than to have her unaware of it.
Hopefully, she can be trained enough in simple reconnaissance in five months so she can aid in step one of her plan. The girl was young and had potential but there was no way for her to be combat ready in five months. Maybe in a year or two.
She slowed the boat down as the boat neared land. She scanned the empty docks of Vale's industrial districts. The docks had been abandoned due to the riots. And the property values in the area had decreased significantly as a result. Honestly, it was easy to create strife in the race relations between faunus and humans. It was just a simple process of filming VPD officers being VPD officers.
All she had to do was film a faunus taxi driver getting beaten and release it on the web. And as expected, it blew up. And they had a face for faunus abuse in the form of a lowly taxi driver named Rod Kingsmen. Faunus were outraged and then it was only a matter of time before the situation worsened. It played out even better then she expected. The officers were acquitted and the victim died in the hospital. And the faunus had a martyr. They screamed out for revenge for Rod Kingsmen and the city of Vale was burning.
She expected some violence but not full scale riots. She was quite pleased with the effect. The Faunus targeted businesses ranging from the Schnee Dust Company to the docks. And from the riots, the seeds of her plan began. She was able to play off the riots and she managed to get a base of operations and increased tensions between the faunus and humans. Parking the small boat, she looked at her warehouse near the waterfront.
Rundown and abandoned, it suited her needs perfectly. She looked at the sleeping girl in the boat. Despite what she had been through, she still had an air of innocence to her. Not completely innocent, but just enough to keep her grounded. It was a double edged sword. If she embraced that innocence, then she would be unprepared for this world. If she lost all of it, then she would be nothing more than an angry animal screaming at the world.
She had to help preserve that tiny bit of innocence, to keep Ruby grounded. It was important for everyone to have something to keep them grounded. And for Cinder, it was memories of a time long forgotten. Picking up Ruby, she carried the girl to the rundown warehouse. The outside appearance was deceiving, the inside of the warehouse was clean and organized. Crates of equipment lined the walls with huge empty space filling the middle. And in the office on the second floor in the very back was her cot. Making her way toward the office, she looked at Ruby.
The girl held on tightly to Cinder. Cinder did nothing and let the girl's tight embrace continue. Reaching the office, she made her way to the cot. She would have to get another cot for herself. Setting Ruby down gently into the cot above the covers, she thought about her next course of action. The riots were still going strong. She expected it to have died down after two weeks but there was no sign of them ending any time soon.
She was going a little stir crazy waiting for the riots to die down. But right now, she had something to do. And that was training her young student. She started thinking on how to train the young girl. She obviously had to create a strict workout regime to get the girl into shape. And then aura training. Semblance training would be simple for Ruby. Her semblance was speed, and it would be like a muscle. The more she used it, the stronger it would be. She would have to teach the girl about proper combat dust usage.
And there was also the girl's education. She couldn't enroll the girl in any schools, combat or otherwise, it would attract attention and would leave a trail of breadcrumbs right back to her. While she figured the girl's family didn't want her, there could always be concerned extended family looking for her. She made a mental note to have Ruby clarify her family situation. She took out her scroll to check her remaining funds.
Doing some quick math, she figured that between her and Ruby, she had enough lien to cover food cost for at least several months. And she had enough extra lien to buy some books to teach Ruby. She turned to the sleeping girl, tucking her in before she headed out to get the supplies for Ruby. Despite the riots, she wasn't worried. Anyone who got in her way would end up as ashes.
Ruby was tired. She just went through a whole week of non stopping training and it wasn't going to stop. Her body ached as she finished her warm ups. Cinder had told her training would be hard and exhausting, but that was an understatement for Ruby.
She had to do fifty of everything, from jumping jacks to push ups. Cinder was very serious and strict when it came to training. Despite her body aching, she persevered through the training. She didn't want to disappoint Cinder. While she had yet to do so, there was that tiny bit of fear of disappointing Cinder, or worse, making Cinder hate her like them.
She then started her semblance training, which consisted of running from the front to the back of the large warehouse fifty times, nonstop. After the exhausting run, she stopped to catch her breath. She didn't have to do aura training or any lectures today, which made her happy.
She had to do aura training every other day. And all she had to do was 'meditate' but Ruby didn't have the patience for that. And the lectures ranged from boring topics like history to interesting topics like weapons. But today, she was starting Dust training. Ruby was excited. From Cinder's lectures about how dangerous Dust was, Ruby was beyond excited to start training with it. She waited for Cinder to leave the office, apparently she had an important meeting to set up. Ruby was practically bouncing up and down waiting for Cinder. Cinder exited out of the office and strolled up to the excited young girl, in her hand was a small red crystal.
"Now, Ruby." Cinder started. Ruby focused her gaze from the crystal to Cinder.
"You remember all my lectures on proper Dust usage?" Cinder asked.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Ruby said excitedly.
"Ruby." Cinder said with a tone of annoyance. Ruby snapped out of her excitement.
"Yes, Cinder." She said slightly dejected, drawing a small smile from Cinder.
"Good. Now, I want you to project a fire projectile using this crystal at that training dummy." She pointed toward the old training dummy that she had Ruby practice on.
Ruby had much to improve on with hand to hand combat. She didn't respond to any of Cinder's teachings. While slightly disappointing, she understood that the girl's strengths were elsewhere. But she needed to teach her something before that inability for hand to hand combat got her killed. She briefly grimaced at that thought. Focusing back at the task at hand, she handed Ruby the small red Dust crystal. Ruby held out the small red Dust crystal and focused, the crystal responding to her.
And then it exploded. The explosion knocked back both Ruby and Cinder to the ground. Their auras had managed to protect both from the ensuing explosion from any serious harm.
"God fucking damn it, Ruby! What did I say about using Dust?!" Cinder yelled.
Ruby winced, Cinder never yelled at her. Ruby looked at the woman before her. An aura of hatred and anger emitted from her. And Cinder's eyes glowed with a burning anger. It was terrifying for the young girl to see someone that was always so calm become so angry. Cinder huffed slightly. Regardless of aura, the explosion still hurt, and that aggravated Cinder. She wasn't use to getting burnt and it hurt… a lot.
She had been very patient with Ruby when she messed up despite her intolerance for failure. She was very patient with her mistakes. But her mistakes never blew up in her face. Although she didn't mean that outburst, she had drilled how to use Dust into Ruby's head. She shouldn't have failed. It was her first real outburst toward the young girl.
All the other times, she kept her cool and gave very stern lectures toward the young girl. But she shouldn't have yelled at Ruby. It wasn't because she felt… bad… about it, it was because she didn't need Ruby possibly associating her negative memories with her. She wanted Ruby to trust her but Cinder had recognized the fact that she was somewhat distant with Ruby, out of a fear of raising a child.
She constantly second guessed herself with Ruby, and that might cause problems. If she was really going to be under Cinder's wing, she needed the girl's trust. And she hoped that she didn't blow it. She looked at Ruby, tears forming in the corner of the young girl's eyes.
"Ruby..." She started. And the girl disappeared in a flurry of rose petals and into the office in the back.
"Fuck." Cinder muttered under her breath.
She walked to the office and found the door locked. It was expected. It was a child crying after getting yelled at. She was going to have to make this up somehow.
"Ruby." She said softly. She could hear the girl stop crying for a moment. Then, her scroll chimed. It was a reminder that her meeting was happening in ten minutes.
"I have to go this meeting. But… I'm sorry. I just want you to know that." She said quietly.
Ruby gave no response so Cinder walked away. Stepping outside, she took a deep breath. Pushing aside her worries and concerns about Ruby, she adopted a more sinister thought process.
No one will get in my way. I will get my way. Anyone who gets in my way will burn.
She closed her eyes and exhaled. Her eyes opened, with a roaring fire inside them. She made her way to the club, an aura of confidence and cruelty almost palpable to those she passed on her way. She walked in a solemn silence, time seeming to speed up as she walked to her destination, until she was outside the meeting place. A club run by some up and coming thug named Hei Xiong.
But considering his own thugs called him 'Junior' behind his back, clearly not everyone was happy with this upstart. But that upstart was the only one with connections and the information she needs and he was reliable. Entering the club, she was greeted with bright, flashing lights, and blaring techno music. Teenagers were on the dance floor, moving around like big dumb animals. But in truth, they nothing more than shadows in the background.
Walking with an air of confidence she made her way to the bar where Hei was at. He was talking to some orange haired guy in a collared suit and a bowler hat. Sitting next to the guy Hei was talking with, she listened in on the conversation. The hushed whispers between the two probably meant something significant was happening. And Cinder liked to be well-informed.
"Listen. It's the heist of a lifetime!" The orange haired guy exclaimed quietly.
"I don't think robbing from the Schnee Dust Company is a good idea. The riots have finally died down… but that doesn't mean the SDC or the VPD is lowering its guard down. In fact, it probably is raising security given the damage those riots did. So find someone else, Roman." Hei retorted back.
The other guy, Roman exclaimed, "But the payoff! Its a lot of lien. And I am sure someone like you would want… no, needs that type of cash. Don't think I didn't notice how 'well' you're doing in the criminal food chain. Just some food for thought."
Cinder was intrigued. But she wasn't sure if he was telling the truth or was a really good con artist. Hei gave a grunt before saying, "I made up my mind. Get the fuck out of my club."
Two thugs in black business suits went behind Roman. "I know when I am not wanted. But I'll be sure to call you, honey." He got up and left the bar.
The two thugs dispersed back into the crowd. Hei gave out a long sigh. Cinder cleared her throat, grabbing Hei's attention.
"And what do you want, sweet cheeks?"
"I am here for the meeting, Junior." Cinder spat.
Hei shot her a glare. Cinder's eyes lit up briefly, full of malice. Hei backed down.
"Whatever, I wasn't expecting a woman but alright. Do you know how this works?"
Cinder gave out a scoff, she was no amateur. She was almost offended.
"Okay. So who ya looking for?" Hei asked before taking a sip of alcohol from a bottle.
This asshole is the only way to find someone that doesn't want to be found. From his tone, he probably thought Cinder was looking for a 'bad boy' lover, or some other contrived notion. Oh how wrong he is.
"Lopez." She said bluntly.
Hei immediately put down the bottle.
"Whoa, whoa. Which Lopez are we talking about?" He asked.
"You know which one I am talking about." She said smugly. He wasn't expecting that.
"Lopez the fucking Heavy?" He nearly spat out his drink.
"That's the one." She gave out a vicious smile.
"That big old bastard? I don't think that fucker is still alive." Hei exclaimed.
"We both know that old bastard is still kicking. And I'm going to pay you to find him." She said.
"No offense lady, but I don't think he wants to be found." He exclaimed.
"Then what am I going to do with this money?" She asked sarcastically. It was no secret that Hei needed the lien to fund his little 'takeover'. His thugs did not come cheap.
"Fine. But I am jacking up the price. I think another five thousand lien would cover it."
Cinder was taken back for a moment. Then she was pissed. On one hand, she needed the information now. On the other, she couldn't complete the next part of her plan if she bought this information. She made her choice.
"Alright." She grumbled.
She hated when someone pulled this type of shit over her. If she could, she would flay him alive. But in this business, positive business relations were vital. And she couldn't sour this relation just yet. But she needed a new way to obtain funds immediately. She took out the remaining lien in her pocket and slammed it on the table.
"Pleasure doing business. I'll call when I have his location." He gave a cocky smile before taking a small swig of alcohol.
How was she going to get more lien? Then she remembered the orange haired guy from earlier.
"Hey… do you have that Roman guy's number?" She asked. The guy raised an eyebrow. He was wondering what she wanted with a lowlife like him.
Once he gave her his number, she strutted out of the bar. Taking out her scroll, she dialed in Roman's number.
"Y'ello?" A cocky voice greeted her.
"Hello, Roman. I have a business proposition for you." She said into her scroll. The voice turned slightly serious.
"I am listening."
Ruby ran into her 'room'. Well, technically it was both hers and Cinder's. But right now, that didn't matter. Ruby just wanted to be alone. She gripped onto her red cloak. She remembered how angry Cinder was. She was never angry at her. Maybe upset once or twice. But never angry. It reminded her of them and of those nightmares.
Does Cinder hate her like them?
"Ruby." She jerked her head toward the door.
She had locked it. She didn't want to talk to Cinder, she was afraid that she would be angry at her.
"I have to go this meeting. But… I'm sorry. I just want you to know that." Cinder's voice was gentle once more, offering sweet words of forgiveness.
Ruby didn't know what to say to that. Her…. former dad never once apologized for his words of cruelty. She was stunned. And then she heard Cinder walking away before Ruby could say anything. She felt like she had to make this up to Cinder. Here was Cinder apologizing to her and she said nothing.
She remembered her failure with the Dust. She had to get better for her. She couldn't focus on what Cinder had told her about proper Dust usage at the moment, which frustrated her. Cinder practically forced that information into her head, and she was too upset to remember any of it. She took out one of the books on Dust. Cinder had often made her read books when she was too busy to lecture Ruby. Her interest varied depending on the books. Books on weapons, awesome. Books on history, ew. But books on Dust were in a weird spot for the young girl. On one hand, the concept of Dust was exciting. On the other, using Dust was surprisingly complex, and exceedingly boring.
But she had to push through that, she wanted to make Cinder proud. She started reading the long and boring passages of the book.
'… Chapter 4: Using Raw Dust in Combat. While Dust is commonly used as an energy source, that same energy can be applied in combat. Combat with Dust boils down to two forms, processed Dust powder and raw Dust crystals. Processed Dust is most commonly used in the form of Dust bullets, where there is no real skill required in using. Raw Dust crystals are far stronger than refined dust, as well as far harder to wield.'
Ruby skimmed that page. She needed to learn how to use Dust.
'...Using Dust crystals requires the use of aura. Dust crystals act like a conduit for a user's aura. A user must be skilled in using their aura in order to have some control of Dust crystals. An unskilled aura user would likely have little to no control over the Dust. Often times, a clear mind results in a greater control of the Dust. An unfocused mind will result in the Dust's energy being unfocused. To practice using Dust crystals, a slow approach is recommended. Start slow and visualize the intended effect. But caution is advised, overusing one's aura will result in unconsciousness and/or extreme exhaustion.'
And that was all Ruby needs to know. She had to take it slow. But doubt filled her head. She was skilled in going fast. And that was how she did things, she rushed in. She took a deep breath. Cinder often told her to slow down and take deep breaths. Rummaging through the room, she found where Cinder kept the Dust crystals. Taking out a small red Dust crystal, she ran out of her room, leaving behind a trail of rose petals.
She held the red Dust crystal tightly as she faced the training dummy. She held out the crystal and took it slowly. She closed her eyes, her mind a chaotic mess, but she pushed those thoughts to the side and focused. She visualized a fire emerging from her hand and hitting the dummy. She concentrated on that lone thought. The Dust crystal hummed and emitted a small red light. Then Ruby was thrown back as a wild fireball shot out from her hand and struck the training dummy, knocking Ruby onto her back with a thud.
She looked up to see the training dummy on fire. Ruby felt proud that she managed to use Dust. Cinder would be proud. As she got up, her stomach twisted into knots and Ruby felt sick. She grabbed her stomach and went onto her knees.
Violently expelling the contents of her stomach, Ruby collapsed onto the floor. Her vision was fading and exhaustion overtook her.
And the usual nightmares that had been tormenting her began. Surrounded by pure darkness, she saw her. She was wearing her white cloak. Her silver eyes were full of hatred. Ruby felt scared. Why did she leave me?
"Because I hate you. I bet Yang's real mother loves her. I don't love you. You're no daughter of mine." She sneered.
Then she vanished in a flurry of white petals. Then he showed up. He was a drunken slob, clothes stained with blood and alcohol. He absolutely reeked of the stuff.
"It's all your fault." He slurred. "All your fault. Why do you look like her? I… Just get away! I hate you."
Then in his place was her. "We are not sisters. We never were. I hope you die." Her 'sister' said with venom dripping with every word.
She knocked Ruby down with a violent push. Ruby started crying. She was alone. They all hated her.
"It's okay. I'm here." A gentle voice said quietly.
This part of the dream never happened before. There was no sooth voice in these nightmares. But with just those words, everything seemed brighter like a bright sun rising for the first time. When she awoke, she felt tired. Even more so than after Cinder's training. She got up slowly. She started making her way to her room. Reaching her room, she collapsed onto the first cot she saw. She fell into a dreamless sleep.
Cinder walked up to the warehouse, quite satisfied with how things worked out with Roman. But it took longer than expected. The moment she stepped in the warehouse, her thoughts turned to Ruby. She saw the training dummy burnt and vomit on the floor. Dropping her more sinister thought process, she became worried. Where's Ruby?
She looked all around before going into the office. And she found Ruby sleeping on her cot. Feeling a tiny sense of relief, she left the office to clean up the mess. As she scrubbed the vomit off the floor, she looked to the training dummy and began to piece together what happened. The girl must have been practicing with Dust and she improved. Cinder felt a sense of pride. She went out of her way to try again, to impress her. Cinder had a sense of pride, a sense of motherly pride.
Cinder frowned at that word. She knew deep down that's basically what she was to the young girl now. Would she be mad to deny that? Cinder prided herself in being control of herself, she knew better to reject and deny those feelings. She was human after all. She wasn't a complete apathetic monster. But she knew that she had to keep those emotions in check.
Too many times… death and pain occurred because of them. But this was a growing young girl. If she was going to fight for her, then she needed to do it because she trusted. To be a cold and distant guardia… mother and teacher was even more inane than being an overprotective mother. She had to balance her emotions carefully.
Too much and Ruby could end up too empathetic to the world, this cruel world of bloody evolution. And too little, and she wouldn't be able to trust the girl in the future. ARGH. Was she over her head by taking in this girl? This wasn't the type of relationship she could manipulate with the girl. She took in the girl as an apprentice, but by doing so, she became her guardian, her mother. She became responsible for her.
And that made her second guess every single act of kindness. If only she was an angry teenager. She could have manipulated her without a second thought. She wouldn't have to worry what she was thinking, only that she obeyed. Only if she was older. But she wasn't. She was a young child who looked up to her, who needed her.
She would be a broken mess if she wasn't here. And she would feel guilty if that happened.
Cinder found that funny. She murdered, robbed, and destroyed many people without a second thought and she was worrying about a little girl. She heard the office door creak open. Turning around, she was greeted by a tired Ruby rubbing her eyes.
"C..Cinder?" The little girl started.
"Did I make you proud?" She pointed toward the burnt dummy. Cinder's heart melted. This little girl trusted her with the very core of her being. She wanted to make Cinder proud. She loved Cinder. She was hers.
At that moment, she didn't care about balancing her emotions. While the girl needed discipline at times, she also needed love.
"Yes of course, my lovely rose."
She said quietly before moving toward the young girl. She wrapped herself around Ruby.
"I am always proud of you even if I get a little angry. I will always be proud of you." She whispered before kissing the little girl on the forehead.
"Always. I love you, Ruby." Ruby hugged Cinder back.
"… I love you too, mommy." Ruby said quietly as if she said something risky.
Cinder smiled. Ruby had always refrained from calling her 'mom' or 'mommy'', but the sentiment was always there. But now Ruby was hers one hundred percent. She hugged the girl a little tighter.
"Cinder..." Ruby started.
"Yes my rose?" Ruby winced a little at the last word.
"Can...can I not have the name 'Rose' anymore?" She said, clearly worried. Cinder took note of that comment. She was severing all ties to her old life to be with Cinder completely. She was even more proud of the girl.
"Do you want to use my last name?" Cinder asked as she pulled away from the hug and looked Ruby in the eye. Her silver eyes sparkled as she asked.
"Yes." She said nervously.
"Hmmm. Ruby Fall. It does have a nice ring to it. Are you sure?" Ruby nodded her head furiously.
"Well then, it's nice to meet you, Ruby Fall." She said gently.
Ruby giggled, clearly happy with her new last name. It was as if a burden lifted off her shoulders.
"Now, since you made me proud with your initiative, I think you deserve a reward." Ruby's eyes beamed with joy.
"What is it? What is it?" Ruby asked as she jumped up and down.
"Ruby." She said gently.
"Sorry." She muttered as she stopped jumping up and down.
"Now, I was thinking ice cream." She said. Ruby beamed with joy, Cinder only allowed her to eat healthy stuff.
While she liked the strawberries and milk, everything else was ick.
"Now what flavor would you like?" Cinder asked. The eight year old started thinking about which ice cream she wanted.
She wanted a bit of everything. After a solid minute of thinking, Ruby had her answer.
"Neapolitan!" She said loudly.
"Ruby, indoor voice." Cinder reprimanded her gently.
"Sorry." She whispered.
"Alright, I will be back in seven minutes with your ice cream, Ms. Fall."
Ruby giggled again. Cinder gave the girl a quick hug before leaving the warehouse. Ruby was ecstatic. Cinder did love her and she didn't hate her.
She wasn't like them! She wanted to keep make Cinder proud. And she had a new last name! No longer would she be constantly reminded of that… dark part of her life. That part of her life that tormented her in her sleep. She was happy.
She practically bounced all over the room waiting for Cinder. And Cinder entered the warehouse holding two ice cream cones. She originally just got one cone, but she decided to indulge herself a little with Ruby. She gave Ruby her cone and gestured toward the office, Ruby following her while furiously devouring her ice cream. Entering the room, they sat on Cinder's cot, Cinder slowly and carefully eating her ice cream while Ruby continued to devour her ice cream.
Cinder's thoughts turned to Ruby's training and what would happen after she finished her training. She never really discussed what the plans were after training, she was going have to rectify that. As they finished their ice cream, Cinder turned toward her surrogate daughter.
"Ruby?" Ruby looked up toward Cinder, ice cream covering most of her face. Cinder couldn't have a serious discussion with Ruby looking like that.
She took out a handkerchief and begin wiping Ruby's face. Ruby gave a small shout of protest before resigning herself to her fate.
Once Ruby's face was clean, Cinder began speaking.
"Ruby. I want to ask you something."
"Do you know why I am training you?" Cinder asked.
Ruby answered almost immediately. "To help you."
"With what?" Cinder continued her questioning.
Ruby thought for a moment. "Revenge." She said slowly.
"Against who?" Cinder questioned.
"Against… 'heroes'." Ruby responded with a twisted face of disgust.
"Ruby, by helping me… there would be people wanting to hurt us, and you will have to hurt them. Are you okay with that?" Cinder asked carefully.
Ruby seemed conflicted for a brief moment before gaining a resolve. "If… they want to hurt us… then… I am okay… with hurting them… as long as I am with you… I will be okay." Ruby said quietly.
"Don't worry, Ruby. I won't let anyone hurt you. Besides, I'm making you strong. And I'm so proud of you." Cinder wrapped her arm around Ruby.
And they sat in silence as Ruby clung onto Cinder.
Another two weeks of vigorous training for Ruby and she showed steady improvement, enough that to call her a prodigy would be accurate. While training, Cinder adopted a strict and slightly harsh approach for Ruby. She made sure never to be too harsh with Ruby. While Ruby didn't seem happy during training, it improved her discipline somewhat despite Ruby's grumbling. She became more focused but she was still a hyperactive child at times.
But Cinder did make sure she balanced out her harsh training with softer activities. She talked to Ruby. They discussed many things with topics ranging from things like how strawberries are delicious to Ruby's thoughts on Cinder's 'boring' history lectures. She even gave Ruby some comics to read.
After another harsh day of training, Ruby collapsed onto her bed and started reading some comic while Cinder checked her scroll. There was a whole week before Roman's little heist went down, after which Cinder would have a stable source of funds for the foreseeable future. It was also a chance for Roman to prove if he was viable asset. But still no response from Hei. Goddamn did he piss her off, but she knew better to rush him. But two fucking weeks with no updates? Either Lopez really did not want to be found or 'Junior' was fucking incompetent.
She was going a little stir crazy, and Ruby was too. She was anxious to see some action. Besides, she wanted to give Ruby a trial mission of some sorts for a while.
But what to do? She decided to check the news. Checking the news kept her in the know, and perhaps she could get an idea for how to test Ruby. Opening her scroll, she clicked on the news app. Several headlines caught her attention.
'Faunus attack on Schnee household. Several dead.'
'Gruesome murder in Vale! Witnesses claim shadows attacked the victim.'
'Gang attacks getting more violent. Burnt corpses found in local gang hideout.' She bit her lip.
Perhaps she could give Ruby an assignment to fight gangs? No. But there was no real way to give Ruby a trial run given her current skill.
The girl was still struggling with hand to hand combat. She realized how fucking idiotic and stupid it was to send an eight year old out to fight gangs head on.
If she sent her out, Ruby would fail and possibly die. Ruby at her current level was more suited for other non-combat tasks. If she sent her out… and she failed… not only would that mean she wasted time and resource, she would… also lose Ruby.
But Ruby needs to see some sort of action. She needs to see what she is going to do in the future. She needs to see how dangerous the world is.
Perhaps recon? But there was literally nothing she could do until she was contacted. Then her scroll starting ringing. Taking out her scroll, the caller was Roman.
The 'self-proclaimed' gentleman thief better have a good reason to call. She specifically told him not to call her until the heist.
"Roman." She said calmly.
Sounds of gunfire rang out through the scroll. Cinder moved the scroll away from her ear as the loud gunfire continued.
"Sorry for calling, dearie. But we've got a problem." Roman said loudly over the noise of gunfire. BANG! BANG!
"Goddamn, I am almost out. Neo! Be a dear and take out that gunner over there. Thank you!" A man's scream came through the scroll.
"Sounds like you have it taken care of. I am wondering if this was a waste of my time." Cinder said.
"Sounds like someone is having a lovely morning. But the attack on my well-being is not the problem surprisingly. What the problem is that some assholes decided to raid my equipment stockpile. You know? The same equipment that we were going to use for very illegal things."
A brief pause. "Good, looks like those assholes retreated." He muttered. "Anyway, they managed to run off with something irreplaceable for the heist."
"And why can't you resolve this?" Cinder asked annoyed.
"Becaaause." He sang. "I got to replace the equipment they damaged and I am in no condition to hunt them down."
Cinder frowned. Was there anyway to benefit from this? Then she realized the opportunity she was given but she was still frustrated at this turn of events.
"Just this one time, I will help you out. Next time, clean up your own messes. I recommend you not fail me next time around."
"For someone who is all fiery, you are a cold hearted bitch. But I digress. Anyway, they ran off with the specialized vault cracker." He said.
"And who were they?" Cinder asked.
"Let me see, I gotta check the body. Oh that's gross, Neo. Put the decapitated head down, please." Roman started humming for a moment. Cinder started tapping her foot.
"Oh. It's those asshats."
"Well?" Cinder said sharply.
"It's the fucking Fake AH crew. Well, looks like you don't have to track them down. Their hideout is the rundown warehouse on Los Santos Lane. You're welco..." She closed her scroll, cutting Roman off.
This was the perfect opportunity for Ruby to 'get her feet wet' so to speak. While Ruby may not be able to go on a trial run, she could at the very least accompany her on this. She could learn something from a little field experience or watching someone in the field.
Walking into the office, she found Ruby reading her comics.
"Hey, Ruby, I've got something to ask you." Ruby put down the comic book and looked at Cinder.
"You know how I mentioned there might be missions that I have to go on from time to time?" Ruby's silver eyes seemed dejected.
"You have to go?" Ruby asked quietly.
"Yes." Cinder said quietly. "But I want you to come with me."
Ruby's eyes started sparkling with joy. "Really?! Really?!" Ruby exclaimed excitedly.
Cinder nodded. "But." Ruby paused her excitement.
"There are some things that I want to go over." Ruby nodded her head.
"One. This is a dangerous mission. You have to be careful. And you aren't ready for those types of missions on your own."
Ruby looked slightly dejected.
"Yet." Cinder added.
"Two. People are going to die. People who get in our way and want to hurt us…." Cinder paused.
"Deserve to die." Ruby finished for her, reciting what Cinder had taught her.
"Three. I want you to stay hidden. Watch. Only. Take notice on everything I do. This is a learning experience. Do not do anything. If you do something bad, I will have to punish you. I don't like doing that."
Ruby cringed as she remembered her last punishment. Trying to get out of training resulted in Ruby doing pushups for an hour straight.
"Do you understand?" Ruby nodded her head.
"I need to hear it from you."
"I understand." Ruby said.
"Good, my precious gem. Now get ready."
"GOD FUCKING DAMN IT."
He slammed his hands on the table in the barely illuminated room. Towers of darkened crates filled the room with other crates strewn about through the large room. In the middle of the large warehouse floor was a barely illuminated table with several occupants who remained silent at the man's outburst.
"Goddamn it. I can't believe it. We lost Brownman." He said quietly before taking a swig of alcohol.
"What are we to do now?" One of the occupants of the table said.
"Give me a minute to think, Beardo!" He took another swig as the rest waited in silence.
"First. We take revenge on that bitch, Roman Torchwick, and that tiny ass bitch with him."
There was a murmuring of agreement.
"Second. After that, we go forward with the heist."
"Wot? Why? Why so soon? I mean… after..." He paused.
"It's for him, Free. It's for him." He said quietly.
"He wouldn't want us to quit just because he… Fuck. Point is… this is a dangerous business. We all know the risks."
"We risked everything for some shitty vault breaking device. To rob a fucking convenience store!" One of them screamed while pointing to said device on the table.
"Calm down, Mogar! It's a really fucking loaded convenience store. Really fucking loaded. Besides it would… be disrespectful to quit now."
"Fuck you, Geoff." Mogar muttered.
There was a brief silence as the already drunk leader drank once more.
"And one final thing. We have to face the facts. This is a six person crew. We… have to replace Brownman."
The table erupted into shouting of disapproval. Geoff pulled out a gun and fired it into the air. BANG!
"Be quiet, you fucking dicks! Face the facts! We are fucked without a sixth member. We have to replace him." He yelled. He took another swig.
"Who can replace him?" Beardo asked.
"Dragonface?" Mogar said somewhat jokingly but there was no true humor in his voice.
Everyone shook their heads.
"Besides… I heard the kid went to Vacuo to play hero with some of the vigilantes there." Free muttered.
"How about Axial?" Geoff asked.
"He is more of a behind-the-scene type of guy. Although, he would be a good choice but… I think he is laying low at the moment. The cops probably got pissed at him for no reason. Besides I think he likes being in the B-Team crew." Beardo interjected.
They all hung their heads in silence. No one could think of anyone until the quiet one wearing a black skull mask rose from the table.
"I nominate 'Lil J." There was a brief silence. Nobody said anything so the man in the skull mask continued.
"He has dedication. I ran a few jobs with him. I have no complaints."
"I do. The fucker's short." Mogar interrupted.
"And nobody expects a short guy to be dangerous. And that 'fucker' is dangerous." He explained.
Geoff rose up and set down his bottle. There was a brief breeze throughout the large room where they held their meetings but nobody paid any attention to that.
"Alright, fuckers. The Vagabond nominates 'Lil J. Any objections?"
Mogar just grunted. Beardo and Free shook their heads.
"Alright then. We'll initiate 'Lil J after we have Roman's fucking head!" He shouted. Everyone at the table yelled in agreement. They all rose, guns drawn and raised in the air. Geoff roared with the rest of his crew. The prospect of revenge for one of his friends had replaced the sadness with rage. Then something hit Geoff right in the eye.
"ARGH!" He screamed. Everyone jumped back and started taking out their guns. Everyone looked in shock as they saw what had struck Geoff. A single black arrow had taken Geoff's right eye.
"When I find the fucker who made me a pirate… I will!" He didn't finish his threat as the arrow detonated, splattering the walls and his crew with blood.
"BLOODY FUCKING HELL!" Free screamed.
He started waving his gun around frantically.
"Show yourself!" Mogar screamed. He started walking away from the table and into the darkened warehouse floor. Beardo grabbed him by the shoulder to stop him.
"Everyone form a defensive circle!" Beardo screamed.
The crew formed a large defensive circle as they desperately searched for the shooter.
"Where is he?" Free screamed before he dropped his gun as an arrow pierced his gun hand.
"AHHH!" He screamed while holding his hand in pain.
"My boi!" Mogar screamed as he broke the circle to help Free.
"WAIT, YOU FOOLS! TAKE THE ARROW OUT!" The Vagabond screamed. Mogar looked back helplessly as he realized it was too late for him and Free.
Beardo and the Vagabond looked on helplessly as an explosion engulfed Mogar and Free and the force blew back Beardo and the Vagabond onto the floor.
"NO!" They both screamed.
Beardo started hitting the floor in frustration as tears fell down his face. "No! No! No!"
"We have to move!" The Vagabond screamed as he scrambled to get up.
Then a darkened figure dropped down from above and slammed a large black blade into Beardo's skull. Blood oozed down the blade as the Vagabond watched as the last of his friends died before his eyes. He raised his pistol to fire before the figure charged forward.
He fired his first shot.
The figure dodged to the left.
His life began flashing before his eyes. His first job with the crew. It was a simple job. A simple bank robbery. Everything was planned out. Free would crack the vault, Geoff would run crowd control with Beardo, and Ray and him would hold off the cops until Mogar came with the getaway vehicle. They expected a few minutes of panic and carnage. But everyone in the crew was having fun. No one got hurt… except the cops. They held down the bank in a glorious fashion. And then Mogar crashed in with an airship. They had a clean getaway despite the dramatic entrance.
Oh, the celebration party was glorious. And that's when they realize something. That they should be a group. They all just clicked with each other. And they had the most epic heists for many years.
He fired another shot at the figure. It dodged to the right this time.
The Fake AH crew became a name amongst legends in the heisting community.
Geoff, the master planner.
Beardo, the second in command.
Mogar, the demolition specialist.
Free, the master thief.
Brownman, whose gun skills were legendary.
And himself, famous for his blood-thirst.
They were feared and respected. They had the cash, the power. And they had each other. They had trust in each other. It was something rare amongst crews.
Crews often ran on fear to keep each other in line. But they didn't need that. The figure reached him and ran it's blade through his chest.
God, he loved them. They were his best buds. He would relive every single moment with them. He had no regrets. He closed his eyes as he envisioned himself drinking with the crew, one last time.
The figure pulled the blade out of his chest and blood poured out of his chest. The body fell face first onto the floor with the skull mask making an audible 'thud' in the quiet warehouse. The figure stepped into the light.
The figure was wearing a black sleeveless jacket with a black domino mask. She grabbed the device on the table and turned to face the darkness at the back of the warehouse.
"Ruby, you can come out now." She called out in the dark. A flash of red emerged from the dark. Ruby ran up to Cinder. She looked into Cinder's fiery eyes.
"So, how was it?" Cinder asked curiously with a tad of worry in her voice. She was worried that the girl might be… disgusted with the violence.
"It… was… AWESOME!" Ruby shouted.
Cinder was taken back for a moment before a small smile formed on her face.
"You were like, 'Psshh', arrow in the FACE! Then BOOM! They were like, 'nooo'. And you were like more arrows for you! Then you were like, 'hoho, here I am.' Sword in the face for you!" Ruby said excitedly as she made elaborate hand gestures that mimicked Cinder's actions during the fight.
Cinder could not help but smile a little wider at the girl's description.
"Let's go home." Cinder said and she grabbed the little girl's hand and they began walking out of the warehouse. "But don't think you're getting out of me quizzing you about this."
"But mooom." Ruby complained.
Cinder smiled as they continued walking home.