(I) Jan. 30, 2016 – Feb. 5, 2016 (6 days) (2,151 words)
(II) Feb. 5, 2016 – Feb. 6, 2016 (1 day) (2,464 words)
(III) Feb. 7, 2016 – Feb. 8, 2016 (1 day) (2,018 words)
Total Word Count: 6,633 words
Posted on FanFiction: Feb. 9, 2016
/ — — CHAPTER 1 — — \
Have you ever wondered how nostalgia isn't what it used to be?
It was a quote she heard from somewhere, its origin lost in time. She had more than a few occasions in her short life where a sentence or a phrase suddenly pops into her head like some annoying, irrelevant textbox prompt in a video game, but they never had this "In Your Face" quality as this latest quote.
And how could it not when she was feeling as if she had uttered this quote herself—or at least wished she had.
Yang knew she had woken up somewhere in the middle of Patch, inside its many forested areas where you would likely get lost and never be seen again if you've gone off the beaten path. She was lucky to find such a path beneath her, but some bits of flattened dirt held no answers to the huge gap in her memory. She could've sworn she had been in the middle of a fight with that pink-haired midget—that crummy dwarf with that crummy smug and that crummy fighting style—but her opponent was nowhere in sight and it didn't seem like she was on a train anymore.
Standing up proved more difficult than she estimated. Exhaustion pulled at her to come back to the ground, lie down, and close her eyes, but doing so would open her up to Grimm attacks. Patch might be a small island where the local Huntsmen ensure that Grimm infestation was at an all-time low, but there would always be stories of people—stupid people—who'd wonder off and disappear, leaving behind torn clothes or even a shoe for searchers to find days afterward. She knew this island like the back of her hand, which should've proved useful to her current situation, however, the current fog enveloping the area hindered her sense of familiarity. To find her way back to civilization in this condition would be akin to searching for the candles and matches during a power out.
The thought didn't deter her. She had gone through worse, after all, such was the life of a Huntress-in-training. She checked her body for any injuries, scratches of any sort, and was glad that apart from having to ignore a few sore spots and bruises, which she had experience in droves already, she came out of her recent fight far better than she thought. Her gauntlets were still on her wrists, too, and a slight test proved they were able and combat ready. She fished out her Scroll and called Ruby, but all she got was nothing. No ringing whatsoever, not even a robotic female voice telling her that the number she was dialing was unavailable. Awhile later, she realized the signal bar was crossed and her frustrated attempts at getting any sort of call had the Scroll responding with No Service plastered on the little screen.
"Just my luck."
Though Patch was fully connected to the CCT on all corners, there were still black spots in places where the various towns and villages spread about the island were miles and miles away. It narrowed down where she probably was, but with how the situation had turned direr by the minute left her more uneasy than relieved.
Still, it was a start and she only needed to follow the path to get back to civilization. She pocketed her Scroll and picked a direction.
"Eenie meanie miney moe…"
Whichever direction would be fine because all roads in Patch led to civilization (if some lone houses occupied by old, eccentric but still combat-ready Huntsmen was also considered civilization), and while using this method with only two choices to be had was easily rigged with picking which one to start with, she indulged in the illusion of it being random. It helped her be sure of her decisions sometimes; she had no idea why.
She set off in a moderate pace. She knew she had to hurry. Another minute spent dawdling was another minute not knowing what sort of trouble Ruby and the others were in. Her body, however, would disagree to the thought. Her muscles ached, her eyelids felt a little heavy, and though as much as she wished to not think of it, she had to accept that she had been close to tripping back to the ground when she first stood up. Her Aura wasn't fairing any better. The extra exertion to save time hiking would certainly push her reserves to nearing empty, and with the threat of the Grimm looming beyond the fog around her, pacing herself was the better, safer idea. She couldn't be a lot of help with her team if she ended up as Beowolf chow before returning to Vale.
She kept her ears open as she walked, but all she picked up were the muffled footfalls of her own two feet on moist soil. The fog rampantly slithered into her clothes as she walked, and though it was cooling for her skin, she could do without having to wipe off the condensed vapor on her face.
Well, she thought, I'm exerting myself to keep moving, and that is kind of a workout, I guess, so would this count as sweat?
She wiped the spot above her mouth, and her fingers came back moist. She didn't even realize she was sporting what she liked to call a sweat-stache. She hated those; a simple lick of her lips (for remoistening purposes) would sometimes include a salty hint, courtesy of the sweat-based mustache.
I only ever sweat during a workout, she thought distantly before sighing through her nose.
She ventured through the fog, saw it fade for every ten steps, then five steps, two steps, and then she found herself free to look at the forest without an impeding filter. The trees had distanced themselves from the path ahead, making it wider than it really was, but the canopy above was just as thick as any fog she had seen in Patch. There was enough sunlight breaking through, but there were no "holes in the roof" sort of effect around her. Everything looked gray and dim. No red eyes lurk in the bushes and trees, and she was thankful for that.
Her trek continued. She checked her Scroll again for a signal, but the No Service prompt haunted her screen like malware. It must've been an hour since she woke up, and the fatigue had spread quite painfully to her knees and calves. Her throat burned, eager for a drink. Yang stopped in her tracks, took a deep breath, willed herself to ignore the hundred aches hitting at her legs, and kept on walking. The thought of resting tempted her, but she still could not catch a signal, which meant civilization was still miles and miles away, and the day wouldn't last forever. Being out in this forest, alone, tired, and low on Aura, was bad enough, she didn't want to worsen it by burning out what daylight she still had.
No, rest could come later, when she was back inside human-controlled territory. She would ask for any working phone if her Scroll still refused to reach the CCT and report her current position to Beacon. Then she'd eat, drink, rest, wait, and hope that her sister and their team had better luck than she did.
Are they even still alive, though?
She purged the thought. She refused to think more of it, but it was like blocking a leaking pipe with her bare hands. She thought of Ruby. Out of all the members in her team, she thought of Ruby the most, because her being back in Patch with no idea of how she got here or even what happened since the train—because surely that event had ended with either a stop or a crash—was gnawing at her as time ticked and tocked along. Was Ruby okay, where was she now, had she been abducted like her? Was this even considered abduction when Yang just found herself waking in the middle of a fog-infested forest on a dirt road in Patch?
And how could she really be sure that this was Patch at all?
There had been no way-signs since she walked this road. Not even forks on the road, just this path that made it quite easy to think she had been walking on a giant endless circle.
And why was she so certain that this was Patch, the place she grew up in?
For the second time, Yang stopped, took a breath, and cleared her mind. Then she looked around her, hoping to find some answers to her questions from the surrounding forestry, but none was forthcoming (as expected, really). The day was darkening already, and another check on her Scroll still plastered her with No Service. She was beginning to suspect her Scroll had been tampered with, but then why tamper with it at all when her abductors could've just confiscated it as they left her for dead? And on that note, why didn't they confiscate her weapons as well?
Instead of thinking on it more, she resumed walking, a little faster than before now. Plenty of time for brainstorming once more important matters—like her not dying in the woods or collapsing from exhaustion—were resolved.
Exhaustion, though, might have dulled Yang's senses a lot more than she first realized, because she only noticed the child when she was twenty feet away, standing in the middle of path in front of her, facing the same direction Yang did. Blonde hair like hers, braided into two short cute side ponytails, and pulling a bright red wagon along. Her shoulders were slumping—a sign of exhaustion that Yang could relate to—and the pull on the wagon, judging by the loud squeaks from its wheels, was done in an unbalanced rhythm, and Yang's mind instantly compared it to some wacky and noisy version of Red Light, Green Light.
Yang hurried her pace, intending to catch up with the little girl and ask her about… well, a lot of things, why she was here all alone, where was here, where's your home, does your home have a phone she could use, but as the distance shortened to fifteen feet, ten feet, five feet, Yang's steps slowed then stilled.
A sense of déjà vu overwhelmed her.
The road had finally split in two—the right going straight, the left veering in that direction and uphill, ending at the front porch of an old raggedy house, whose windows were all shattered, roof caved in, and front door torn off from its hinges and left lying outside to the left of the dark looming passageway housing several awful glowing red eyes. The little girl whimpered, dropping the wagon's handle, and shifted backwards till she bumped into the wagon.
Yang chanced a look at the girl, intending to calm her and have her get behind her, but doing so had also given her a good look at the contents of the wagon: some food and water… and a sleeping little girl who had dark red hair and was wearing a red hood. But she was sleeping no more as the bump had been enough to pull her out of blissful dreamland and into nightmarish reality.
Inside Yang's mind, her voice was screaming. The déjà vu might've done its best to clue her in, but rationality would've also done its best to review the facts. As it was, the fact that a blonde girl with side ponytails, wearing a similar outfit Yang herself would've worn at that age, was out here alone and dragging along a wagon was insufficient to conclude a very farfetched theory. At least until she saw the wagon passenger and her eyes—silver eyes.
Just like Ruby. Just like Mom.
The Grimm inside the house hadn't stayed idle for long. Their growls were fierce, hungry, overlapping each other like a wind ensemble irreparably out of sync. It was hard to tell how many there were. Yang counted four pairs still within the darkness while three braver Beowolves leapt out of the glassless windows. One held little care with personal safety as it barreled through the porch railing, its momentum unaffected, and ran straight for the kids.
When Yang heard the children scream, action overcame thought. She got to the front of the wagon in two steps, flicked her wrists, felt the familiar grip of Ember Celica on her forearms, and pumped them with Dust shells.
Low on stamina, low on Aura. The only things going for her were the amount of Dust shells she still had and her natural fighting prowess. This wouldn't be the first time fortune had not favored her in a life-or-death fight.
And as the Grimm closed in and she pulled her fist behind her shoulder, she was determined that this wouldn't be her last either.
I will not die without fighting for a life I am not yet done living.
Fist met bone and there followed a sound of deafening thunder.
It was oddly therapeutic, if Yang were to be honest. Hours of trekking through the woods with nothing ever happening, forced to replay the last moments of her first mission as the rest of her mind did its best to focus on other things for a change. Despite the great disadvantage she faced, she was still facing it head-on.
"Stay down and stay quiet, kids!" she said, looking over her shoulder for a glimpse of the duo—and wouldn't you know it, the blonde girl had lilac eyes like her—and then charging straight into the pack congregating at the porch.
Beowolves were rarely alone, and though they were weak to all sorts of attack, they made up for it with speed and quantity. With Grimm being Grimm, lives meant little for their existence if the payoff was killing another Human or Faunus. Yang didn't expect them to be wary of her after disintegrating their foolhardy comrade with just one blow. In truth, she was hoping for the opposite.
First step, she needed to increase the gap between her and the kids. The Beowolf pack had to have their full attention on her and her alone. The second step involved something foolhardy of her own. She was low on Aura but full on bullets, and the Beowolves were masters of telegraphing their lunges that she need not look at all to know when one was about to pounce from behind her. A bullet to the face in the midst of their jump would solve that problem quickly. But that still meant she was going to let the Grimm surround her on all sides. They also were less likely to attack her one-by-one, so she'd be left open to more than a few other claws while declawing a chosen target.
It was a stupid plan, but it was what she got. Besides, there was still the third step—
A lunge coming from her right flank. Yang shifted her left leg to 8 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 4 o'clock of her right one's position, heel up, toes down, and spun counter-clockwise, right fist loaded and flying. The Beowolf was in mid-air, claws forward, mouth open and salivating, red eyes glowing with mindless but malicious intent. The first shot killed it in an instant, its head exploding into chunks behind it, but the momentum of its body still propelled its now headless corpse towards Yang. Sensing another lunge at her immediate left, she kicked the corpse to that direction. Momentum partially broken and trajectory completely diverted, the second Beowolf tumbled on the ground face-first. It skidded and rolled about, coming towards her, but she stood her ground. The Grimm came to a stop next to her feet, facing the canopy-covered sky, and still had the audacity to growl at her.
She sensed another Beowolf dashing towards her from behind. She ducked, left fist embedding into the mouth of the supine Grimm mid-growl. Her intention was to grit her teeth for what was coming next, but like the daredevil she was, the elation of battle had morphed that action to a shit-eating grin and she didn't bother to stop it. The shadows below her became more profound, as if the sun had been covered with thick clouds—the third Grimm was atop her. She depressed the trigger in her gauntlet and rode along its supercharged momentum. Her second kill also had its head blown off, scattering bits of soil everywhere, but she was already flying up, up, and landing a fast elbow onto the third Grimm's stomach.
She rode the flight to its peak, enjoying the out-of-breath whine stemming from her prey's mouth, and then pivoted her body so that she and the Grimm were face-to-face. Her left gauntlet was still smoking from the shot (more out of dissipating Grimm blood clinging to its gold sheen than muzzle smoke), its chamber still empty, but her right was the opposite, and she marked her third headshot for today as gravity and momentum hurled her back to the ground, into the anticipating teeth and claws of two new Beowolves that had exited the house.
She double-pumped Ember Celica and let loose, mentally counting each round. Neither Grimm tried to dodge; most of her shots were way off the mark to begin with, and that was fine because she didn't fire those shots to kill her prey but her velocity. Keeping her arms stiff during the recoil consumed bits of her Aura, and that was fine too. Better this than a claw to the face—anything was better than a claw to the face. Or the hair.
When her feet touched land, she calculated her remaining ammo inside the chambered belts and decided it was better to reload now than later. As she fished two fresh shell belts from her ammo pocket, the Beowolf on the left howled, followed by the right, and the rest of the pack residing within the abandoned home came out in droves like a disturbed bees' nest. She tried jogging her memory, the one of her childhood, and wondered if there ever was this many Beowolves at that time.
Distracted. Big mistake. The pack pounced on her together.
"Fuuuuck," she said through gritted teeth and a grimace before shooting the closest enemies without proper aiming. There was no time or room to reload, and she was lucky to have kept count of her remaining ammo. The pack had boxed her in, almost huddling together with her in the middle.
She managed to toss one belt upwards, but she had to drop the other when a Beowolf got lucky, scratching her left gauntlet. The shell entering and exiting its head gave Yang a higher level of satisfaction, but such a thing was short-lived with the hectic dodging, blocking, and attacking in-between she was forced into. The adrenaline had done its best to make her ignore the utter exhaustion her body had been battling against, but all things had their limits. No amount of adrenaline would solve her dulled senses, her slower reaction time, the ill-fated snap decisions she was making in her fight. Fatigue had caught up to her, and for every Grimm she managed to dispatch, five others caught her in their claws. Some tried for a bite, but she was constantly in motion, making most of the space she had and shifting towards the momentary gap she opened for each death of an enemy, which always got closed off before she could even get a foothold. They were tearing at her clothes, at her Aura-protected skin, at her hair, and she was pissed. Oh, she was fucking pissed, but she didn't lash out, not yet. Not yet.
She had to be sure every Beowolf was in attendance, all standing in one place for something she had been saving for a special occasion.
Roll call complete. Everyone's here.
Now came the third step.
She trusted her Aura to act as her shield for whatever attacks that came her way, but she knew it couldn't be trusted forever. It would give at some point, with how low it was, so she opted for using one of her last-resort fighting styles. Absorb the blows, fill up her kinetic tank, and with the last of her fighting Aura, release it all in one devastating ground pound. The resulting shockwave would do the rest.
Her gauntlets were shot dry, and she could almost feel the searing heat emanating from the gun barrel even through the thick insulation.
Just one more shot, baby. You can cool off, then.
She was grinning again. What a thrill this was, despite the danger.
Another Beowolf came towards her, and she released the spent casings on her right gauntlet towards its face. With the Grimm momentarily distracted, she swerved to its left, kicked its back, which brought it on all fours, and used it as a springboard to propel her up and out of the huddle. The Grimm occupied the space she left, howling and growling. The ammo belt she tossed was on its way down. Her timing couldn't be more perfect as she loaded her gauntlet without having to touch the belt and loaded a new Dust round into the chamber.
The energy saved up by her Semblance combined with the Aura she sent to her right arm, and as her jump reached its peak—a moment of stillness, a moment of weightlessness—she eyed the concentrated area of black mass and white bones just below her, a multitude of red eyes glaring with intense negative emotions. The grin was still on her face and her fist was ready for one hell of a punch.
Then she finally heard the children's screams.
There they were, in the same place as she left them, hugging each other next to the red wagon, faces plastered with fear as their shrieks continued flowing into her ears. A Beowolf, moving solo from the pack, had gotten close to them, one arm raised to the heavens, bone claws so much sharper and more terrifying than its brethren. Her heart felt like it stopped for one beat, then started pumping in a presto tempo.
Action again overcame thought. All the remaining power she had put in one Dust round was shot at a completely different target, but she only realized too late what she had done. The blonde kid saw the incoming projectile, bright and hot like the sun, and instinctively covered the younger girl with her body. Yang couldn't usher another scream, to at least tell them to run or use the wagon as a shield somehow. It was too late.
The shot, however, was wild, too far for a decisive hit. But it still contained a very volatile amount of power. When the Dust round hit the dirt, it exploded like a car bomb, pushing almost everyone back by powerful gusts of displaced air and a roar that felt like it was rattling inside your bones.
Gravity kickstarted the freefall, and Yang was ill-prepared for the landing. She had exhausted all her energy, bet everything on that final shot. She doubted she could muster the strength to show one final act of defiance towards the Grimm, shooting off how many fuckers before they got to her in the end. She, however, still put on the effort, but one more shot was far too much. The kickback was intense, and she felt like a kid again, just starting out with using her prototype weapon under the supervision of her father. She remembered the bruises and the broken bones that one time she pushed herself too far. And now she idly wondered, as she was a second or two away from hitting the ground, how many bones would she break this time.
She hit the ground with a squelch. She bit back the scream, despite experiencing the most painful thing she ever had in her life. A painful experience that only held its top spot for a mere three seconds before a flood of hungry Grimm descended upon her supine, defenseless form.
Yang screamed, then. She flailed her limbs about, kicking, punching, and shooting, never giving up, never giving purchase. But the Grimm didn't care. They smelled her fear, reveled in the pain she took for every move she made, as more and more of them mobbed her, slashing at her body. She screamed and resisted, refusing to let fear take over her, despite the part of her that wished for the suffering to end demanded she take the easy way out. Better a death by her own hands than a death this horrid.
She refused and successfully loaded another round into the gauntlet's chamber. She aimed for the Beowolf to her immediate right. She gritted her teeth, arm steady, but before the trigger could be pressed, the Beowolf grabbed hold of her arm in a vise grip. One attempt at pulling was all the creature allowed before sinking its fangs into her arm.
Her screams returned, so loud, so unbearable that she no longer cared if her voice broke.
Spurned by their brethren, the other Beowolves made use of their mouths, finding a spot to bite and digging in. One bit her shoulder. Then her left hand, but she got lucky there; it couldn't bite through Ember Celica.
Fresh tears muddled her vision, but she was partially thankful she didn't have to see the first biter tearing her arm apart. There was just so much blood, so much pain.
So this is it, huh?
She thought of the kids, so much like her, so much like Ruby, their situation mimicking so much of a time long past yet instead of a capable scythe-wielder who could decimate the Beowolf pack within a minute, what they got was a tired over-confident teen who got more than she bargained for. She wished they were okay, but then… how could they? If the explosion didn't kill them, then the Beowolves would. Some savior she turned out to be.
Then she thought of Ruby.
Her throat burned, a gift from thirst and the constant screaming. New tears came forth, this from a sense of finality. All the things she still wanted to do with her life, with her sister, with her friends, the burning question she still had been unable to find an answer to, they would all be cut short by the Grimm, like all hopes and dreams that had a run-in with them. She was going to die, and her loved ones wouldn't know, and she knew—just knew—that Ruby would forever search for a woman that was no longer there.
Her lips moved to say the words, but her voice was silent, too tired to even offer a token effort. The dead don't speak, that was probably why. The rest of herself just hadn't caught up to that fact yet. Maybe.
So then why, after accepting what was to come, she found herself defying it again as a hail of bullets and flying Grimm body parts entered her darkening vision? Why was she trying to smile as the silhouette figure wielding a giant scythe massacred the Grimm?
Dare she wish?
Dare she hope?
She whispered a name, too low, too quiet, drowned out by the mass roars of pain surrounding her. Her eyes tracked the lightning fast movements of her savior, barely able to keep up as the scythe—
She closed her eyes, no longer able to fight back the sleep she so desperately needed. This might be the last time she ever slept. But maybe… it would all be all right.
When Yang awoke, her eyes saw a white ceiling. Things were blurry at first, her memories, her surroundings, things were too bright, too faded, but she could never mistake the color of the ceiling. It was hard to move, hard to really think. She could discern some movement on her left, an indiscernible shadow behind what she believed to be white curtains. The background noise around her had mostly been ignored, but now she started to listen—rhythmic beeps coming from a machine. Her arm was bandaged up, with a see-through tube taped on her wrist and a blue clip gently biting on her middle finger like a playful puppy that hadn't started teething yet.
She thought of the word, hospital, yet she couldn't come up with a reason for why. The bed was comfy as hospital beds go, but she still felt like shit and her right arm was a little itchy and she was still unable to move more than a few inches at a time. Pain, a feeling she felt held a great significance to her current situation, was now absent, replaced by peace and security, although such a thing had also spurned some confusion.
At least for the first ten seconds. Her eyesight had gradually gotten better—or rather reverted to normal—as the seconds ticked. And by the eleventh, the blob-like shadow had sharpened to a human-like figure, light was less of a pain to her retinas, and minute details in the room she missed once were now clearer and more vivid.
The figure behind the curtain must've noticed something odd, because it stopped what it was doing and seemed to be staring right at her through the cloth. Footsteps on a tiled floor came to her ears at the same moment the figure started moving again. The curtains swerved to the foot of the bed, and in came a black-haired nurse who looked quite surprise to see her.
"Oh," the nurse said, then peered closer at her as if Yang were a creature she had never seen before. When Yang blinked once, the nurse neared her bed and asked with a smile, "Miss, can you hear me?"
Yang tried to nod and partially succeeded.
The nurse had with her a tablet-sized Scroll with a white back cover, which she thought had gone out of style about five years ago. Ever since Scrolls were outfitted with a setting to customize the glass screen's transparency, the demand for such archaic privacy-givers had plummeted. The nurse tapped on it a few times and moved her attention to the monitor thing that read her vitals and stuff.
"The doctor will arrive here shortly, Miss," she said, still smiling, as if Yang's condition was too common to throw a little empathy on, but maybe that was true. Yang had no idea of hospital statistics, but she'd bet some Lien that most check-ins were either Grimm victims or Grimm survivors, and at times, these two things were not at all separate. "Is there anything you need? Does anywhere hurt?"
Her throat was killing her, for one thing. She mouthed water to the nurse, too parched for her voice to carry the request through, and the nurse understood right away.
After some minutes of almost one-sided small talk—Yang's replies mainly consist of nodding, head-shaking, and the occasional smile at the nurse's attempt at being funny (no puns were made yet, so she wasn't at all punny, badum tss)—the door to the room opened and in came a large man who had to duck his head a little so that the horns on his head wouldn't hit the top of the doorway. His horns were in the shape of a ram's, sweeping from the edge of his hairline to his nape and then curling inward. His hair, a lot more plentiful than she thought a man with horns would have, was as white as Weiss's and followed a similar style to his horns, gelled to shine and sweep back to his nape without a single hair strand out of place.
"Ah," he said as he neared the foot of the bed, his dark blue eyes glimpsing at his own tablet Scroll (with the same ancient back cover as the nurse's), but with how large his hand was, the device ended up looking more like a phablet Scroll. "Forgive my surprise, Miss. I've seen my share of Huntsmen exhausting their Auras to a crucially low level—life-threateningly low, even. But this is the first time I've seen one waking up after only three days in bed. The shortest on record before you was ten days."
Yang already heard this from the nurse—Nurse Fiona—who had prattled on about details of her rescue (but not the important bits, unfortunately), the state she was in when she arrived at Pall General Hospital, and how lucky she was to still be alive. Yang was unsure whether Nurse Fiona was actually this talkative or she was merely doing so to keep the dead silence as they waited for the doctor to a minimum. She wanted to ask about the two kids, but her few attempts at doing so hadn't gone well, either by getting cold feet or a slight coughing fit. She recalled her last image of the two kids. A Beowolf was about to claw at them, and on instinct, she launched a projectile—an explosive projectile, for fuck's sake!—at them but the shot went wide and she hadn't heard any screams other than her own once she got reacquainted with the ground. Half of her wanted to know, but the other half would rather not.
Leaving that subject aside for another time, she turned her focus on the Faunus doctor in front of her. She knew him: Doctor Tushar. He had been the one to check her and Ruby over after the incident with the Beowolves in the abandoned house—just a few scrapes and bruises and probably some hidden psychological trauma, but when Uncle Qrow suggested he get the two girls checked over by a doctor, 5-year-old Yang jumped at the chance to delay the inevitable return to the Xiao Long abode and face the powerful wrath of Papa Taiyang. Dr. Tushar was also a good friend of Uncle Qrow's, as far as she knew, with a dash of mutual partnership that helped them climb up their respective careers despite their… well, problems. Qrow with his drinking habits and Dr. Tushar with his Faunus heritage because a higher-up in the hospital was a widely known bigot. She never did found out what exactly Qrow got out of the arrangement—if Tushar worked with Alcoholics Anonymous on the side, then he was a piss-poor representative, what with how much alcohol Qrow still manages to consume in a day—but she also knew when her uncle was being secretive about his contacts. Yang definitely never forgot this doctor.
So why was he acting like they never met?
But don't forget, he is a doctor of Pall General. He must have more frequent patients coming through his door than a little girl who had one mean brush with death but had grown up without needing another hospital visit. Anyone can forget someone they met only once or twice.
He started listing her injuries, some severe, some minor. She did fracture a few bones, and with such a low healing output from her dried up Aura, they had to patch her up the hard way—at least until her Aura had enough respite to heal her naturally to full health, which Tushar estimated would take most likely two weeks at the least.
She couldn't wait~
Really, she couldn't wait. She wanted out of this bed right away.
"Doctor?" Fiona said, interrupting him from his speech. Yang didn't really care anymore. She might not have forgotten who Tushar was, but she had certainly forgotten how much of a theatrical talker he was, and she meant the bad kind of talker, someone who had plenty of energy in their voice but very little substance in their words, like a preacher of a doomsday cult. When Tushar stopped his speech to look at Fiona, she said, "She doesn't yet know about…" She motioned with her hand. Some sort of gesture, but Yang couldn't figure out the meaning of it.
Tushar, however, understood it right away, and his gaze moved from the nurse to Yang, observing her with far more scrutiny than what she deemed to be comfortable.
"I see." he said, and here his voice changed. Lower in pitch, his delivery a little solemn, a little hesitant, like a kid resigning to confess to his parents about a bad thing he did. Yang understood right away she wouldn't like what she'd hear, but it had to be done. "Miss, I'm afraid this will be a shock to you."
Fiona tapped and swiped some things on her Scroll, and then the bed's upper body started to rise, startling Yang a little. The heart rate monitor's beeping increased its pace gradually. She didn't need to listen to outside reading to know her heart was hammering quite hard in her chest. She knew it was just nerves, like stage fright or waiting for the pregnancy test results (not hers), but she couldn't help herself. Something about this rubbed her the wrong way, something out of place, something awful. The two other people in the room seemed to agree with her feelings, if not by words then by body language.
Tushar breathed in, then out, and he looked to be bracing himself for something. Another really bad sign. "Please," he said, then gestured to something on the right side of her bed, "look down."
She did, and at first she didn't know what she was supposed to see. Her body was clad in a hospital gown, nothing out of the ordinary. Her arm was wrapped in bandages from the shoulder all the way to—
She sucked on her breath. Blinked. Held her breath.
No… no… no, no, no!
The bandages were wrapped over her shoulders, her biceps, her elbows, and nothing else. Because from the elbow down, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Can't be. Impossible. It's there, my arm's there! Right there, right fucking there!
She jerked her left arm to her right, disturbing the IV and the clip on her middle finger. She couldn't care less about those. There was still some sensation in her right arm. She felt it, absolutely felt it, dammit! But as she tried to clench her right hand to a fist, the feeling had dwindled. Then numb. Disembodied. No matter how hard she clenched, the piercing sensation on her palm was absent. Her left hand went to grab her right forearm or where it should've been, but it was like grabbing onto a ghost.
No no no nonononononononono—
Someone grabbed her shoulders, pushed her down, and she resisted it, flailing her whole body about, not caring about anything. Something primal had awakened within her, a torrent of emotion that had no chains to keep it in check. The beeping was getting faster, faster, faster, and the shouts were getting louder, louder, and she wished that person would shut the fuck up. Her arm was gone. She's the one who should be shouting. Her fucking arm was gone!
Then she felt something worm inside her left arm. Not the IV, not that, something colder, something she didn't want, but whatever it had been was fast-acting as she felt not just the numbness in her (missing) right arm, but her left now as well. Was it gone as well? Was it going away and leaving her? Was she armless now? Was she—
The doctor was saying something as the bed slowly lowered her down, but she couldn't catch it. Her eyelids were heavy, she couldn't feel anything anymore, much less hear. But some small part of her that had scraped up a small ounce of coherence had one final thought to conjure before sleep completely took over.
The person screaming was me.
-o- -o- -o- -o- —O— -o- -o- -o- -o-
-o- -o- -o- -o- —O— -o- -o- -o- -o-
This story was actually conceived when I rewatched Episode 7 of Volume 3, the one that was a Cinder flashback, and I noticed how the color of Yang's eyes had almost gone completely gray (I don't frequent discussion forums, and I'm sure this topic had been discussed to death by now). We'd seen her when she was pissed, but what exactly was going through Yang's mind during that moment—Bewilderment? Shock? Self-doubt? A mix of all three, most certainly, but did the animators color her eyes that way to convey a deeper meaning to the current whirlwind... well, whirling inside her head? In any case, I tried thinking of a situation where Yang is confronted with something extreme, and the first thing that came to me was this thought: Well, since she broke Mercury's weapon limb, her own weapon limb should go away. Broke then got morphed to amputated. I sometimes hate myself for that, but it opens up a few plot threads I wanted to explore, especially since she's 12 years in the past.
That's another thing, too. There was no definite timeline established with that Beowolf encounter, as far as I know, so I made a rough estimate. The oldest toddler I believe should be is 3 years old (but some would argue the oldest is 2), and Yang did mention Ruby was a toddler at the time, so Ruby is roughly 2 1/2 at this time while Little Yang is 5.
And before you ask that the amputation was a reference to what happened to her in Episode 11, that's not really true. I actually plotted most of the story beats back in January and let imagination handle fleshing it all out (as I've recorded in the "Date written" section at the very beginning of this chapter). One of the earliest story beats, apart from Yang having to time travel, was that: arm amputation. I could've gone on with a simple story of Yang going back to the past and fixing shit and some training montages, but I find little intrigue in that. I needed something for Yang to reach out for, so I went the amputation route and how she has to cope with this loss and the other shenanigans and butterfly effects this thing will create. I just… honestly didn't expect Rooster Teeth to go that same route, because my intention was to move as far away from RWBY canon as possible, and that's because I have doubts my portrayal of Yang would be how she'd actually react. I went a little Phantom Pain by the end, too, so yeah, go Venom Yang. Besides, the theme of her losing a limb kind of references her trailer—and when I mean 'kind of,' I mean that it could mean that if you tilt your head to the right a little. You know, that quote in the beginning?
Scathing eyes ask that we be symmetrical, one sided and easily processed. Yet every misshapen spark's unseen beauty is greater than its would-be judgement.
Coincidence, of course. This was never in my head when I was brainstorming the fic, only afterwards, when Episode 11 decided to take the ante up to 11.
I've also been quite curious in a time travel story. I've read more than a few out there. Most are bad, some are good, but a lot of them has this problem where the chosen main character is an experienced warrior from a war-torn Remnant and the time-travel thing was either deliberate or an accident. I'd get behind it if it's a story about the MC having to work through his/her personal demons as he/she relives the past, but most of the time, it turns into something like centering on fixing canon failings (which can be quite intriguing if done right) but letting everything play out almost the same way. I didn't want to do that, so this got made. If I say anything, I'll be entering spoiler territory.
One final note: Barbara must've been waiting anxiously for Episode 11 to come out. Seriously, she's fricking savage in her RWBY cosplay pic on Twitter that I'm left stumped. Or rather, right stumped.
… Dammit, Barb.