Rude Awakening

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Better alone, or among enemies?

Sure, they aren't your friends.

But at least they make for company.

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In the cold of an old abandoned warehouse, Yang slept against the steel wall of a shipping container.

Memories of better days haunted her dreams. Days when she was invincible. When she could take on the world with reckless abandon. She was so strong.

So strong….

"Wakey wakey, blondie."

A mocking voice cut through her sleep.

She recognized its owner, and her first reaction upon waking was to punch him. Her arm lifted to throw her go-to move, the straight right.

But the action came up empty.

The familiar surge of power, the sound of her fist whistling through the air—all of it was absent. Instead, Yang opened her eyes to see the truth of her shortened limb. Bandages wrapped around, dirty and coming undone.

She barely contained the pitiful sound fighting to escape her throat.

Mercury raised his brow, staring at her. "Oh. That's embarrassing."

"Hrrr…!"

"Relax, lion queen." Emerald strode in from behind him. "Merc did the same thing when he first lost his legs. He'd wiggle his little nubs in his sleep, dreaming he could still run. It was like one of those adorable amputated puppies."

"Aw. You thought I was adorable."

"When you were unconscious and not speaking." Emerald glared at him, and then to Yang. "Now, get up so I can change those bandages."

Yang grunted and struggled to stand. The offset in her balance was still something she wasn't used to. She tried to push off the wall, but ended up slipping back down. The chill concrete felt harsh against her tailbone.

She gave up trying.

"Any day now," Emerald rolled her eyes.

"I liked it better when you pretended to be nice," Yang snarled.

"And I liked it better when you still had a sense of humor and some fight in you. So I guess we're bothdisappointed."

"Then don't fix my bandages…. I don't care."

Emerald breathed an exasperated sigh. "She's worse than you were," she said to Mercury.

"Well, I was lucky enough to have Cinder in charge of my rehabilitation program. Stand and be useful, or die by burning fire. O' fond memories…"

Just then, they all heard the sound of glass shatter, followed by a flash of light. When their eyes adjusted, they saw Neo striding over with a prosthetic arm and a big smile on her face.

"Masa finished the first version?" Emerald asked.

Neo nodded.

"About time. Lucky you, south paw."

"Where did you guys get that?" Yang questioned, eyeing the limb Neo held.

"Not worth the time to explain. Not that Neo could tell anyone anything ever," Mercury commented.

Neo curled the artificial hand's trigger finger down, then the ring finger, the pinky, thumb, until the only finger left up was—

"Well, then!" Emerald clapped her hands together. "Let's hurry and strap this baby on. The sooner you can fight, the sooner you can stop being dead weight and help us find Raven. You do remember that's why we picked up your useless ass."

"How can I forget, when I have to remind myself every day?"

"Glad we're on the same page. We get to save Cinder, you get to see your mom, and we travel merrily to Haven across Grimm infested territory, while evading all forms of authority. Fun times. Hope, you aren't having any second thoughts."

Yang shut her eyes. "I don't have anything but second thoughts."

Amid the tense silence, Neo walked over to Yang and pulled her up. Despite the other having a larger figure in comparison, the small girl practically tossed the other onto a nearby table. With deceptive strength, Neo pinned Yang down and planted a firm kiss on her lips.

""What."" Emerald and Mercury blurted.

When Neo parted from Yang, she stared down at her with a maniacal smile. Her swift hands undid the bandages around Yang's right arm and Mercury caught on. He grabbed the prosthetic limb and started attaching it to the patient on the table.

Pain instantly shot through Yang's nerves, intense enough that she almost passed out. The machine clamped onto her bicep and began reconfiguring itself. She screamed and writhed. All the while, Neo gazed down with a sadistic grin.

"Should I put her under an illusion?" Emerald thought, as she sat on Yang's legs to stop them from kicking.

"You didn't do it for me," Mercury answered.

"True."

"It's better this way."

"Words from experience?"

"…Doesn't Neo look like she's having too much fun with this?"

The two took notice of the crack in the pink girl's sinister smile growing wider and wider.

Neo is such an "S", they both shuddered silently.

As Yang squirmed under their grasps, her prosthetic arm drilling into the wound of her flesh, her thoughts ran full of regret.

She asked herself, "How did it come to this?"

Her team was gone. Vanished to the distant corners of Remnant. She was left for broken and shunned from following. Some of her teammates had good reason and some did not.

She didn't care.

Yang believed she could count on them no matter what happened.

But they weren't here.

Yang looked up into the faces of Neo, Emerald, and Mercury.

They were.