"Go! I'll hold them off so you can get out!"
"There's too many! You'll die!"
"I know! Now go!"
"I won't leave you!"
"God damnit, run!"
So many memories came flooding back. So many memories that she wished weren't real. Memories she wished were all a dream, where she'd wake up, be comforted by her team, and go about her day like nothing had happened.
But all the proof she needed was right in front of her, engraved in stone for all to see.
It had been one year since her team had gone on their first mission outside the kingdoms. It had started simply enough: a sudden Grimm infestation near a village was worrying the settlers, they had to exterminate them.
Then everything fell apart. Immediately after dropping in, a bomb went off near the walls, letting the creatures of darkness into the village. Anarchy befell the colony almost immediately.
Her team had focused on rescuing the civilians, using the bullhead that dropped them off as evacuation. They had split into partners to speed up the process.
However, this meant that when they accidentally startled a large horde of them, they weren't able to fight them.
Her sweet, loving, amazing partner...
He'd ordered her to run, knowing that they would never see each other again. Given no other choice, and with him not taking no for an answer, she'd ran.
Like a coward, at least to her.
When it was time to leave the village for good and he still hadn't arrived, she tried her absolute best to get them to stay. Her team, however, fought just as strongly for them to leave, and in the end she'd collapsed, giving them the chance to leave. The realization had finally hit her.
Her partner was gone. And they didn't even get a body.
"Hey", she spoke to the stone. Maybe if she tried hard enough, she could picture it with blonde hair... "I just wanted to check up on you. Sorry it took me all year, but... it's been one stressful year.
Team RWBY is as active as they always were, finding danger everywhere they go. Everytime they get in a fight, they always say they're fighting for you. Even Weiss.
Ruby never got over it. Losing you pretty much stole any innocence she had. She doesn't kill, but she doesn't show mercy either. It's awful. I've seen her leave people with broken bones and missing teeth. The only thing that keeps her the way she was is Yang's cookies, and even then it doesn't always work.
Weiss, Blake, and Yang might not have cried their eyes out, but they've changed as well. Weiss is more of the "Snow Angel" instead of the "Ice Queen", as you would say. Blake's honestly been more open with us then she ever was before. Even Yang stopped teasing anyone that didn't 100% like it. Knowing her, she probably somehow blames herself.
Ren and Nora were able to bounce back fairly quickly. I was a little angry at first, but they told me about how they're orphans and it made sense. You're not the first family they lost.
And me..." the tears finally started to fall on the empty grave. "Where do I begin? You were the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Now you're gone and it's my fault!" The last bit came out as a shout more than anything else as she collapsed on the ground.
"I loved you, you idiot! How could you not see it when it was right in front of your eyes?! You actually saw me as a regular person and not some superhero! I needed you!" She let the tears fall before she mumbled "I still need you".
She couldn't take anymore. She could come back tomorrow anyway. The others would understand. She ran as far away as she could from the empty ground as fast as she could. Anything to get away from the reminder of her failure.
In the clearing she left, a single leaf fell from the trees, landing on the stone.
A leader, partner, and friend
A true hero, even if he didn't know it.
"Ugh, why do we always get the crappy jobs? Investigate White Fang activity? *psh*, they just want us out so the others can actually learn something in combat class.
CRDL was doing a patrol in a nearby village, searching for any leads on the elusive terrorist group. Unfortunately, the mission had been as vague as possible, and none of them were able to figure out where they should go.
"Well, it probably has to do with the fact that we're considered the worst team in Beacon", Dove offered with no hesitation. He regretted it immediately when Cardin punched him to the ground.
"No. We are the best team there, and don't let teams like RWBY or PRN (Prune) say otherwise", Cardin said, clearly annoyed.
"Yeah, at least we still have all our members. Not like JNPR. Their leader literally didn't last a single mission!" Russell joked. They all shared a laugh...
Until a gunshot rang out, sllencing them all.
The streets quickly emptied, showing CDL that this was a regular thing. They turned around to look for the gunman, hoping for the ever elusive lead, but they all froze when they saw Russell.
Russell was stiff as a board, bleeding from a single hole in his chest. Not only was the gunshot aimed at them, but, they realized with horror, it cut through his aura in one shot.
The horror didn't stop there. After about 5 seconds, CDL could only watch as Russell's entire body turned icy blue, with his teeth chattering, until all his movement stopped completely. Still staying completely still, he fell backwards...
And shattered into small ice fragments when he hit the ground.
In around 15 seconds, one of their members had been completely obliterated.
Once they got over their initial shock, CDL armed themselves for a fight and resumed their search for their attacker. They didn't have to look far, as he was only a block behind them.
His appearance was... intimidating. He was wearing a full body set of combat armor, mostly black with hints of red. It covered his entire body, from his shoulders all the way down to his boots. On both his were holsters for a set of twin pistols. But his helmet, glowing blue and seemingly acting as a HUD of some kind, was what drew their attention.
Despite his mere presence making them want to piss themselves, they had a teammate to avenge. So, in true CRDL fashion, they charged straight at him.
The man, completely unfazed, simply walking into the building he was right next to. CDL charged right by the door, tumbling over themselves before they dusted themselves off and entered the building.
They had entered a unlighted two story shipping warehouse, with the bottom floor filled with shipping containers of various shapes and sizes. The top floor was nothing more than an overlook on the containers, presumably for overseers making sure everything was going fine.
Using hand signals, Cardin signaled Dove to go left and Sky to go right before he dropped to the first floor. He weaved through the maze of containers, looking for any sign of his teammate's killer.
Meanwhile, up above, Sky's body fell over with a snapped neck. He didn't even get the chance to scream.
Dove heard the body fall and instinctlively fired across the warehouse. Hearing nothing but a puff that oddly sounded like a smoke bomb, he continued searching...
Until, out of the darkness, a gun barrel was pressed against his head, ending his search with a single shot and a cut off scream.
Cardin might not have been the smartest person alive, but it didn't take a genius to realize what the gunshots followed by a thud meant.
Another teammate was dead, possibly all three.
He was about to call out when he saw him: the man who killed his team, standing near the container in front of him. He was leaning on the container crossing his arms, looking oddly relaxed for a man who killed three Huntsman-in-Training.
Cardin charged forward in a blind rage, swinging his mace for a downward strike. He did not expect the man to simply catch the mace.
The man used his free hand to grab Cardin's mace hand and snap his wrist, loosening his grip. This allowed his mace to be grabbed and tossed out of both of their reach. Still holding his wrist, he pulled down, using the pain to bring Cardin to his knees. Cardin was completely unable to resist.
The man used the advantage to kick Cardin's knee, bending it the wrong way, before letting go of him and watching him writhe on the ground in pain. If his helmet didn't completely hide his face, Cardin would've seen a sociopathic smile on his face.
Finishing the job, the man pulled out of his guns and said the word "vengeance". The voice chilled him to the bone: it was clearly robotically synthesized, but that didn't make it any less intimidating. It gave him the vibe that he wasn't fighting a human. He was fighting a demon.
With his message said, the man executed Cardin on the spot.