"And we're officially in the wild!" Ruby proclaimed.
She leaped forward into a puddle. Yang followed, sharing her umbrella with Weiss, who also wore a pale poncho. Blake, protected from the rain by a dark raincoat, closed the small gate behind them.
"This still seems like a bad idea," Blake said.
"It's perfectly safe! We'll be in range of a couple of the wall's turrets, and if we're really in trouble we can call Ozpin and he'll send help!"
"I can't believe he actually gave you permission to go outside the wall," Weiss muttered.
"And I couldn't believe I got to come to Beacon two years early!" Ruby jumped into the air. "Headmaster Ozpin's awesome! But we'll be okay. The big Grimm usually don't even come as close as Mountain Glenn."
"And the medium-sized Grimm aren't a threat?" Weiss snapped.
"They really aren't," Yang said. "I mean, it wasn't easy to kill that Greater Nevermore, but it wasn't really hard either."
Blake shrugged. "And if anything that size was so close to Vale, actual Huntsmen would be sent to deal with it. They have a point."
"We still shouldn't underestimate the Grimm," Weiss said. "And didn't you say you thought this was a bad idea?"
"For reasons unrelated to safety."
"Where are they?" Ruby asked.
Team RWBY had been wandering around the Emerald Forest for half an hour.
"We're right next to Vale," Blake said. "There aren't many Grimm here."
"But initiation wasn't any farther away!"
Weiss rolled her eyes. "You didn't think there were normally that many Grimm that close, did you?"
Yang patted her sister on the head. "Ruby hasn't been outside the walls of Vale since she was really little."
"The dunce still should realize that there aren't that many Grimm around. If there were, every village and tribe would be destroyed in a week tops and travel between Kingdoms would be impossible!"
"I get it, I messed up," Ruby muttered. "But I don't want to leave until we find one!"
"What are we doing when we do find a Grimm?" Blake asked.
Ruby turned to face her team, smiled, and closed her eyes. "Now that...is a secret!"
Weiss moaned in anger.
"I hear something," Blake whispered.
"Finally!" Ruby shouted. "Where?"
Out of the bushes, a pale serpent as thick as a telephone pole sprang at Yang. She leaped out of the way and twisted her arms, transforming her Ember Celica from bracelets into gauntlets.
"Wait!" Ruby exclaimed. "Don't attack it!"
Weis sighed. "Ruby, that's a taijitu."
"I know! But if we just kill it, we came out here for nothing!"
The Grimm lunged at Blake, who jumped into a nearby low-lying tree branch.
"What are you going on about?" Weiss shouted.
"Who's thinking about attacking the monster?" Ruby asked.
"Me, Weiss, and Blake," Yang said, dodging the serpent's other head. "And I think Weiss is thinking about attacking you."
"Not just yet, no." One of the heads snapped at Weiss. "But I'm getting close!"
"What are we doing with the Grimm?" Blake asked. "Or is that still a secret?"
"Instead of attacking, tell me what you're gonna do and why!" Ruby smiled and she vaulted over the taijitu's black neck. "That way, we learn about how we think in combat and can predict each other better!"
"Clever," Blake said, "except for one issue."
"You're insane!" Weiss shouted.
"Essentially," Blake said dryly.
"I'm going to grab it to stall for time," Yang said, grabbing the white end of the Grimm. "This is gonna take a while."
"You have no business directing us if you can't see problems this massive with plans you create!" Weiss shouted.
"Yeah, no one help me," Yang muttered, kicking at the black head.
"Weiss has a point," Blake said. She shifted to a sitting position on the branch. "I will shoot the other head to aid my teammate without getting too close to her feet." Blake proceeded to do so.
"That's great!" Ruby said. "What's next?"
"Are you even listening to me?" Weiss demanded.
"No one's listening to me," Yang grumbled as she tried to tie the white end of the taijitu into a knot. "Ow! Blake, shoot the other head more or something!"
"This plan is insane! We should just kill the taijitu, go inside, dry off, and—" The black end of the taijitu whipped around and knocked Weiss off her feet.
"I'm going to cut the neck—" Ruby started.
"Just freaking ATTACK it!" Weiss demanded as she scrambled to her feet.
"Careful!" Yang said. "I'm still here!"
Ruby drew Crescent Rose and twirled it, before dashing towards the Grimm. It twisted its head out of the way, but not enough. The black head of the beast flew off its neck and struck Blake in the abdomen. She was knocked off-balance and dropped her weapon to grab another branch.
Weiss stabbed the white head of the taijitu. "I'm going to stab the other head because this is pointless. Wouldn't it make more sense to do this while sparring?"
"I don't think JNPR would slow down just for us."
Weiss stared at Ruby.
"We could spar each other," Blake said, sliding down from the tree. "Slowly, explaining why we're doing what we're doing."
"Right!" Ruby declared. "Team RWBY is doing Blake's idea!"
"Maybe in an hour," Yang said, standing up. "Weiss got a little mud on her clothes when she got knocked down."
"I'm muddy?" Weiss asked.
"You kinda are," Ruby said.
"My point is that Yang's being a hypocrite."
"Yang is not a hypocrite!"
"She's covered in mud."
"That doesn't make her a hypocrite!"
"It does when she's calling other people muddy!"
"Why are you so childish?" Weiss yelled.
"Why are you so mean?" Ruby retorted.
"Why are both of you so muddy?" Yang asked.
Ruby glanced down at herself. "Huh? I'm not mu—"
Yang shoved her sister into a mud puddle.
"Yaaang! I'm telling Dad!"
Blake sighed as she wiped mud off of Gambol Shroud using a convenient bush. "What have I done to deserve this team?"
"He—Headmaster Ozpin!" Ruby tried to straighten out her muddy cape a little. "Hi! Um. What brings you here?"
"I do try to keep an eye on students who wander outside of the walls. Speaking of whom, where are your teammates?"
"Oh! Um, the Cornells apparently clogged up most of the shower heads on our floor, so Yang and Weiss are showering in the ones which work and I'm trying to find another. We kinda got dirty. Except Blake, she mostly stayed clean. She's reading."
Ozpin nodded. "A lesson the rest of you need to learn is that sometimes, progress requires you to do a little dirty work."
"Tell me, how has your training with your team gone so far?"
"Huh? Well, okay I guess."
"Are you telling me what you believe, or what you think I want to hear?"
"I'm pretty sure that you're going to tell me about why what I did was right, actually."
Ozpin smiled. "You are learning. Good. Now tell me, what are your concerns about the training you attempted?"
"Well...no one else seemed to like it. I mean, they didn't think it would do anything. Yang always supported me, but I think it's just because she's my sister." Ruby sighed and stared at her feet. "She was probably laughing at me on the inside."
Ozpin shook his head. "Ruby, you shouldn't let what other people think dictate your actions, and you certainly shouldn't concern yourself with what you think other people think."
"But they're right, aren't they? All this stuff was just a stupid idea."
Ruby looked up at the headmaster. "No?"
"Yes. There are no stupid ideas, only poor implementations."
"Of course. You should be learning about your teammates. How can you fight with someone you don't know?"
"I don't think we learned anything useful, though..."
"There is no such thing as useless knowledge. I have no doubt you will lead your team better after today. Haven't you learned more about them?"
"...I guess I did."
"And would you say your teammates learned more about you, and each other?"
"Which was your intent for this afternoon, was it not?"
"Which means you were successful."
"Tell me something."
"What did you learn?"
"Um...well, Blake's favorite color is gray..."
Ozpin was shaking his head.
"I find it hard to imagine that you can't think of even a single thing which can be directly applied to combat."
Ruby thought. "...Yang likes to wrestle things?"
"Weiss is easily distractable?"
"Sometimes useful, but not what I had in mind."
"What do you intend to do after showering, and why?"
"...Uh, I learned that it's good to spar?"
Ozpin shook his head. "Why are you sparring?"
"To learn more—"
"What inspired you to spar?"
"Oh! It's because Blake said it, and the lesson is—I need to let the others plan stuff some?"
Ozpin smiled. "I suspect that all of the issues you encountered could have been avoided if you had discussed your plans with your teammates beforehand."
"I...that probably would have helped. Thanks, Headmaster Ozpin!"
"Think nothing of it."
Ozpin watched as Ruby hurried to a nearby shower block. She has so much talent, and so much to learn. To think that she and others like her will be the next generation of Huntsmen and Huntresses...I thank the heavens I don't have to do this alone.
"Nice sparring!" Ruby said. "I think we learned a lot today. That was a good idea, Blake."
Blake shrugged and opened her book.
"Are we finally done with your ridiculous schemes?" Weiss asked.
"Well, I didn't have anything else planned. What do you guys think?"
"Um, do you have any ideas, Weiss?"
"I think this was all a waste of time."
"Well, what do you think we should have done instead?"
"We got beaten by Jaune's team," Yang pointed out. "We need to do something."
"...We need to practice fighting together," Weiss said. "My father sometimes had my sister and I spar our fencing tutor together, trying to promote teamwork between us. We should spar against each other in pairs some time, and not practicing those absurd team attacks."
"They're a good idea!" Ruby insisted. "We just need more practice."
"Sounds good to me," Yang said. "I've had some ideas we might be able to use, too."
"We can't let our studies go by the wayside," Blake added. "There is a reason we study more than mere combat. It may help us realize some facet of tactics we overlooked. Even if it doesn't, the value of knowing when and whom to fight can't be overstated."
Ruby smiled. She felt a lot more confident about this tem working out after all.