RWBY: Fallen Roses
By: Adam Sandlin
Beacon was a buzz of students, the autumn leaves fell from the trees. The air was filled with anticipation for the upcoming break for the holidays. A kind of nervousness for what kind of end-of-semester projects were planned by their professors, but a happiness to know that they can all finally relax for a month without worrying about classes or projects. Ruby Rose was, however, more stressed than ever. No part about her was happy. She ran from desk to desk in her dorm, gluing parts of projects, flipping pages in textbooks to study, and coffee, to keep her going. Her sister, Yang, walked in. She knocked on the wall to get her sister's attention.
"Hey! Whatcha' doing?" She asked, knowing perfectly well how stressed she was.
"YANG!" Ruby cried as she slammed pieces of a project. "You know I don't have time to talk now! Why don't you get started on your projects, anyway?"
"Because, it's not as important as the fact that we get to go home for a month in a week... Duh! Imagine, sis, home for a whole month! Not having to fight anything, or listen to boring professors, what about getting to sleep in? Do even get it?" She responded joyfully. Yang did bring up some good points, but Ruby was set on finishing these projects.
"But, Yang, these projects count for half our grade! Why am I the only one stressed about this?!" She yelled, flailing her arms around out of frustration. Yang chuckled at her sister's anger.
"You'll learn that these projects, aren't as important as you think. Professors make you think that they're something, but, they almost never grade it that harshly." Ruby looked at her sister with a confused face,
"Of course, teachers here are really soft about this. And, what in the world are you making?" Yang asked. Ruby looked down at here project, at the current moment, it was a bunch of popsicle sticks hot-glued together in a random, messy fashion.
"GET OUT!" Ruby yelled, pushing her sister out of the room and slamming the door. Yang stood there for a second, crossed her arms, and simply laughed and strolled away.
As the days passed, Ruby's presence became less and less, attending class less and less to finish her projects. She skipped lunch everyday, and even stopped sleeping. Her body ached, and her brain was fried. She had nothing more to give, but somehow kept going. Fueled by her need to get the grade, and prove her sister wrong. Multiple times, members of her team and her friends tried to get her to calm down, but she brushed them away and got back to her work. During the nights, Ruby would talk to Blake, who would try to get back to her books, but would respond, only keeping her going in conversation. Weiss had tried to talk to her about it like Yang, but, once again, it failed. "Ruby, take a break, I'm sure your projects aren't that important. Just come down with us and get some breakfast, or at least lay down and get some sleep. It's just a letter! Calm down." They all said. Ruby, however, didn't have it at all.
Early on the sixth day, an announcement came on the speaker, "Attention: All students report to the auditorium. All students report to the auditorium" Everyone, startled by the announcement, jumped out of bed and frantically ran around the room getting their uniforms on and getting ready. As they started to leave, yang yelled back "Ruby! Come on!" Weiss rolled her eyes, walked up to Ruby and dragged her by her shirt collar. "Let's go." She said as she grinded her teeth.
As students flooded into the large room, Headmaster Ozpin was standing on the stage in a serious demeanor. As the sound from the students shuffling into their seats quieted, he started to speak in a worried voice, "Good morning students, as you all know, tomorrow is the last day before the holiday break, and I know you all are very excited, but I have some very bad news." He looked out at all the team leaders, and paused on Ruby, he cleared his throat. "A far greater evil is coming, one that could end life as we know it. Far worse than the Grimm you all know about, but, something we cannot train you for. We don't expect you to be eager to fight, but we hope you want help in some way. go to your families for your breaks, know that there will be those to stay behind and help fight not only for their world, but yours as well. We all inhabit this planet, and we all vowed to protect it from the evil that lurks around every corner, sacrifice ourselves for the well-being of humanity." He paused for a second and looked around again. He breathed deeply, and took off his glasses.
"Have a great break everybody."
After Ozpin stepped down from the stage, a loud, over-bearing silence took over the room. No one dared to speak, but everyone wanted something to break the silence. All of the students looked at one another, nothing but a mixture of worry and fear. Knowing they can't ignore what their headmaster has said, but wanting to forget about it all and just go home. Ruby stepped up from her seat, and started to clap, her claps getting louder and faster every time. Other students around her looking at her with both disgust and relief that the silence was broken. Ruby's team sunk down into their chairs, covering their faces, embarrassed by their leader. Ruby started to walk up to the stage, she had a renewed energy in her, maybe she passed the threshold between exhaustion and insanity, or knows what she's doing, either way, she was about to say something.
"Friends, schoolmates, team, why do we come to Beacon? To help defend humanity from the darkness. But, if Ozpin is right, and he probably is, what is coming, could be absolute darkness. Never has the world needed us more than right now. We are the first line of defense, and if we bail out on humanity now, what light can help them if their beacon has gone dark? Not only are we all expected to give everything we've got, we should want to give it all." She paused, the exhausted girl stood on stage, not any audible reaction from her fellow students. Weiss looked around from her seat and stood up, rubbed her hands together and started up to the stage. She stood next to her leader and put her arm around Ruby.
"What she's saying is true, we are all here to learn how to become the best hunters. This is the test we've all been given. Will you shrink away from your duty and let everyone face the consequences, if you do, you aren't fit to be a student of Beacon." A long silence from the crowd made the two uncomfortable, they looked at each other in worry. Then, the rest of team RWBY came up and gathered around Ruby. The students slowly started to applaud their courage, the slow thundering sound of a thousand cheers crashed against Ruby. She realized her projects could wait, this is what she has to do. She has to train for the fight of her life.
As the last of the leaves fell from the trees in front of the entrance of the academy, parents of students waited for their children to come out with their luggage, except there were no students coming home for the holidays. Their parents were sent away by Ozpin and a couple other professors, frightened and afraid for their children's lives, but also for their own. Team leaders got their teams ready for the fighting, professors oversaw their leadership when necessary. The days passed quickly as they prepared for the invasion. Other academies joined up at beacon, Ruby's old friends from Signal saw how much her old friend had grown since going to Beacon, and just how much better she's gotten. The days went fast, and sessions went long. Sleep was something of Ruby's past, she found it funny, how much sleep she's gotten recently… only a couple of hours a week. There wasn't much time until the "Evil", no one knew what to call it, from what Ozpin said, it was nothing like what they've been taught before. Ruby hurt all over, she lacked the energy to keep going, but was pushed by her will to defend what she loves. She can't imagine not helping when she knows that this could be the end for humanity, so until she knows it's safe, she'll keep going, and she could only hope someone will follow. She doesn't expect her team even to keep going, she would even stop them in training to tell them that they don't have to stay. She even approached Yang asking her to go tell the family about what's happening. A letter won't do enough. Much to her surprise, none of them left. They all stood by her all week.
On the eve of Light Night, the holiday of the world. The day celebrating the first time humanity used dust to fight away the grimm. A time to celebrate life and freedom. Often by exchanging, usually, expensive gifts. Ruby loved the holiday, she loved sitting by the fire, opening gifts, being around family. This year, however, would be different. Her gift is knowing humanity will be saved, she will sit by the blazing light of safety for everyone, protecting them from the darkness. The training left their bodies exhausted, but their spirits are high. Their muscles ache, but their soul pushes on. They can't be stopped.
On the eve of Light Night, Beacon academy and other academies lined up around the entrance. The moon was high, the wind was cold and harsh. Everyone was freezing, but warmed by the need to protect their world. Ruby held Crescent Rose close to her body, her hands shaking, her heart pounded, the fight of her life was finally here. All of the work she's done, all the effort she's ever put into anything, comes up here, the friends she's made, the companions she has, all come together.
Just as Ruby got lost in her thoughts, a black fog came over the horizon. It blocked out the stars and the lights from towns. It began, the fight to either leave humanity in the dark, or ignite a light brighter than ever before. The line broke, people fled from the sight. Team RWBY stood there, hoping, praying, preparing, dreaming. Hoping for a victory, and no lives lost. Praying to walk away unscathed. Preparing to get into the fight of her life. Dreaming, that she'll be able to get up the next day like nothing happened.
The next thing they knew, they went off, flying into the darkness, losing their teammates, unable to communicate. Flying into the fight of their lives. Going to meet their enemies face to face. As they flew closer to it, the less they could see. They hit the ground, Bricks from the road flying up. The force of the impact causing that much damage. Ruby ran around the black city of Vale, unknowing what she'll run into. All she had was the sound of a familiar laugh. She couldn't place it or find out who was laughing, but she knows she's heard it.
Running, dodging, climbing, but no fighting. There were no enemies to fight that she had run into. Her main goal, however, was meeting up with her team. She kept on running through the infinite darkness. No moonlight, no street lamps, nothing. Absolutely black. As she ran, she lost her sense of hearing, her quick footsteps became more and more distant and eventually, nothing. Her pants were just feeling, she couldn't hear the air being blown out of her mouth. Her pounding heart quieted.
The entire city seems to have been swallowed up into this darkness, there was no one out on the streets. Buildings began to dematerialize. This unnamed monster was literally destroying matter. Ruby thought of a name for it now that she spent some time in there. Pitch, absolute darkness. The greatest enemy of light. A beast, living or nonliving that feeds on the things humanity has made in the light only to turn it back into the darkness they oh so feared. The very thought of this made Ruby get a cold shiver down her spine, the thought of what would happen if this thing reached Beacon, her family, or her team succumb to its power, too much for her now. She has to stay focused, her mind can't start to drift now. Why is it so hard for her to focus now? Why does she have difficulty thinking about things? It's like her mind is forced to think about different things.
That same laugh seemed to get louder and louder the more she ran. The more she ran, the louder it got. She still couldn't name who the laugh came from, but she knew she knew it. Then, she heard a voice speak to her,
"Red, you always seem to put yourself right in the middle of where you aren't supposed to be." Ruby stopped. How could it be? Roman Torchwick? He got tangled into messes before, but never this bad.
"Run, Red, run, no matter how fast you go, you'll always be in sight. You don't know where to run or even if you're going there. I can bring you to the light, or drop you in eternal darkness. Feed your soul to the cloud, and be a part of the new world. It's easier that way, no fighting or bloodshed, just blissful darkness." Ruby couldn't get the voice out of her head, there was no running away from it. She had to find him, he is the source. No matter how long it takes, or if she won't survive, she has to stop this evil. Pitch must be brought to a stop.
"Ruby, seriously now, these childish games must be at least close to done. We've done this dance for how long now? Years Ruby, years. You've hurt my business, my livelihood, my life for YEARS!" The ground shook, knocking Ruby off her balance, the force of his speech moved the ground?
"Now's my chance to finally rid myself from you, victory tastes so much sweeter than I thought." Ruby looked around, kind of pointless since everything was pitch black, but she found a small spark of light on top of one of the remaining structures in Vale. She darted towards it, yelling out "I won't give into the darkness, and I won't let you win. Huntresses never give in… I never give in."
She jumped up to the spot, grabbed onto it, and looked up. She saw Roman's face, but a shadowy figure to it. The hair, instead of the smooth style he had black, shiny hair leading up to a billowing cloud of darkness. His body was made up of clouds fastened together that looked like his build. Suspended in mid-air, he was the source of Pitch, and she was right there with him.
"Ruby, how nice of you to finally arrive, took you long enough. Rule one: Don't keep me waiting." His voice was louder than ever, his face looked at her in a twisted, angry way. He lifted his hand and clenched his fist. In that instant, clouds grabbed Ruby's limbs and took Crescent Rose from her.
"Do you know how I got this? I bet you thought I was just another criminal. Guess what, all those plans I made, all that dust I stole, all the deals I cut… not only weakened humanity, but it helped me. How did man first defend itself from darkness way back when?" Roman leaned close to Ruby's face and grinned
"Dust. Dust is everything humans have. Without it, nothing would be possible. Without it, everyone is at risk, no matter what you do." The cloud thundered and shook.
"Where are my friends?!" Ruby asked, she tried to pull free, but failed.
"Wait a second, I haven't even finished yet. As I was saying, I've had this darkness inside me since the day I was born, it taught me, guided me, shaped me into what I became. There were times that I didn't like what I was doing, but, the fact that I was promised such a reward so grand, I had to keep going. King of the World, a title anyone would strive for, only for me to claim. Working with that 'White Fang'? Foolish group, but brought in a lot of power for me. More authority, more places to go." Roman got a big smile on his face now. Ruby was struggling to escape the bonds.
"Ruby Rose, this is finally where we part ways... Permanently." He brought up his fist again, only this time, it was like a storm cloud, lightning, thunder, still dark however. "It's never been a pleasure, and it never would have." Ruby tried to move one more time, and accepted her fate. Maybe she wasn't meant to be a huntress after all.
But then,she saw roman's hand get hit by something, she couldn't hear anything other than his gasp of pain. He grabbed it with his other and brought it close to his body. Rudy's bonds loosened, and she could escape. She reached for Crescent Rose and began to pound Roman. Bringing him to the ground. Moonlight started to return. And the city started to come back. Ruby put the blade up to his neck, as he was forming back into his human shape.
"Roman Torchwick, this is finally where we part ways... permanently." Ruby said, as she finished him off. She put down her weapon and looked up. The clouds and darkness were fading off into the night sky, the moon and stars have never shone brighter than right then. Everyone and everything in the city came back to life, street lamps, lights from buildings, flashlights from people, even the city sounds faded back in. It was great to see light at all. Ruby leaned over Torchwick's body, and felt a crushing feeling in her chest, as if she had teams of people standing on her. It was unbearable. She got down on her knees, holding her chest. There was no way to stop it, but she doesn't know why it started. The rest of her team ran up to her. She couldn't say anything, the pain was too great. They all huddled around their leader. Ruby couldn't breathe, her lungs expanded, but nothing filled it. She gasped for air, but nothing happened. Her hearing fell into just a ringing sound, her eyes teared up. She collapsed on the ground, next to her weapon in front of her team. They all cried out for someone to help, ruby couldn't hear what they said, or see what they did, everything faded into a dark black. But Yang in particular was trying desperately to get help. She began to cry out, holding her sister's lifeless body in her arms "Someone! Anyone! Please! Help!"
Ruby awoke with no sense of feeling, her body didn't feel at all. No pain, no cold, no warmth. She opened her eyes to see she was in a white clearing in the middle of a forest. The moon seemed bigger than normal, and shown even brighter. The wind was strong, her red cloak blew behind her. The sound of the wind sounded harsh, yet, she felt nothing. She stood up, and looked around again. There was nothing, nothing but her and another woman in a white cloak. She just stood there, her back was to Ruby, she didn't move, she just looked up at the moon. Ruby couldn't see her face, but knew she was friendly. The wind almost blew her back on her back as she tried to step towards the figure. She shielded her face with her hand to be able to see through the snowy wind.
"I know why you're here." the figure said, not even moving or taking focus off the moon.
"I know what you've done, Ruby Rose. You're very brave. It's a shame, really. Such more you could've done, so much more." Ruby got confused, was she dead? Is this what being dead is like? Ruby tried to speak, but nothing came out. "Stop." The white figure said, holding up her hand. "I'll let you have a voice, but I have to explain first. Questions can wait." Ruby closed her mouth and stood there, waiting for her to turn around and see her face.
"Ruby, you aren't dead, not yet. I pulled you away before you could. I just want you to have some time to think about things, some time to finally tell the truth." Suddenly, the wind stopped, everything calmed down, the white girl turned around, the hood still hid her face. "Tell me, Ruby, why did you want to become a huntress?" Ruby could talk now.
"I want to help people... I want to be a hero." She said quietly.
"This is no time to be sad, we are just simply talking. But, that isn't the true reason. You hide your true personality Ruby Rose, you make it as though you are an innocent little girl, yet you are a very mature woman. Don't hide your true colors. Tell me why you really want to be a huntress." Ruby looked down, her eyes teared up, she wiped her face with her cloak.
"My father, before I was born, but after Yang was born, was killed. The Grimm killed him, from what my mother tells me. Stories she told of him were some of the best I've ever heard. I devoted my life to try to make sure no one else had to endure what I had to go through. Yang also trained, but it felt like my mission." Ruby looked up at the woman, tear streaks down her cheeks. A secret she's held dear for years has finally come out, even when it isn't to anybody, the feeling of telling the real reason she has done this with her life is such a relief. "He was a great man, so I've heard, but he was brutally killed before I could know him. The Grimm took him away." The wind began to pick back up, a gentle breeze blew against them.
"You must know that you are not alone. Your team was there to save you. You've trained them well, and gained not only their respect, but all of Beacon's. In your time of being a student there, you've done some magnificent things. Things no other human could even dream of. You led a force to fight back something that could've destroyed humanity." the figure sat next to Ruby. "Headmaster Ozpin wasn't wrong. He said he made the right choice to make you the leader. Remember When you first came to Beacon?" Ruby looked up at her, she saw part of her face for the first time. A sweet smile on her face that was one of the most sincere in her life. "You know what Ruby, you were the huntress you always wanted to be, you lived your dream. You got to be what you wanted to be for your whole life." she looked up to the moon. the wind picked up, Ruby still felt nothing from her body.
"Now, for the bad news." the figure stood up, and sighed. "The darkness resides in a host, and can travel to a new one when it needs to in order to live. Ruby, Pitch decided you would be its next host." Ruby saw a tear fall from her and hit the ground. "It will slowly rot your kind heart into a twisted, greedy, black abyss of darkness. You won't be able to make good decisions. You won't be able to feel happiness. Only madness and depression. You won't enjoy life, only look for the worst. Constant nightmares and memories you never even experienced, only to cause you sadness. She turned back towards Ruby. "I'm sorry, but this is the easiest way to tell you." Ruby looked down, unable to cry anymore.
she said in a low voice, "So, I don't have anything to live for now? My life has been finished before it even started? I got to be a huntress for a day, does that make up for missing out on the rest of my life?" Ruby stood up, clenched her fists, and approached the figure.
"You will go down in history, you won't be forgotten. Just keep a hold on your friends and the happiness you feel now, and Pitch cannot keep a grasp on your soul." she said in a calm voice.
"Who are you?! How do you know all of this? I need to know." Ruby yelled, she reached for the hood and ripped it off. A gust of wind blew over the two of them. Ruby looked at her face. It was her mother. Her eyes were big and tears streaked down her face.
"I came here so I could be the one to tell you. I wanted you to know that I'm here. I know it hurts, but remember, no matter where you go, no matter how you are, your friends and family will be there to help. Don't worry, you're in a hospital in the real world, wake up when you come to terms with this. Take your time. There is no rush." She started to drift away and out of sight. Just like that, Ruby was alone, in this snowy clearing. She put her hood up and lay down next to Crescent Rose. She didn't know how to come with terms with this, she didn't want to wake up, she didn't want to have to decide on what to do, even though she already knew what must be done.
In the hospital, Yang sat next to her sister everyday. Every day, she would hold her hand and hope for her heartbeat to pick up and her eyes open. Tears fell every morning she wasn't greeted by her sister's voice. The doctors came in every now and again to check the machines and her vitals. Ruby's friends came in every couple of days, but once classes started up again, no visitors came in. Just Yang who sat there day in and day out. Every day for twenty-nine days went just like that. The various sounds of the machines being the only noise in the room. Yang sat there, almost like a statue, watching over her sister's seemingly lifeless body.
On the morning of day thirty, Yang was surprised by a doctor walking in. His solemn mood was clear as he walked over to the computer. He turned over to Yang and sighed. "Yang, as you know, it has been thirty days… I'm sorry, but it's time." Yang shot up from her seat. She moved the doctor's hands from the monitor and said in an authoritative way
"No! I know she's almost back. You can't do this yet! She saved us all, why can't you just leave her for a couple more days? Look at her, she's so close! I can feel it!" Her eyes began to water up at the fact that her words were falling on deaf ears. There was nothing she could do to convince a man who obeys the rules.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Xiao Long, but rules are rules, after thirty days, we have to turn off the machines." he took a deep breath, and put his finger near the button.
"Not yet doc, I still have something to say." Neither of them said that. Ruby woke up. Not even opening her eyes, she only could speak to get their attention. They both looked in disbelief. "Please, can you leave, I need to talk to my sister." The doctor nodded and stepped out, still in disbelief at what just happened.
"Yang, I need to tell you something." Ruby said, not in a sad voice, just calmly, "I've had some time to think about what I need to do." Yang leaned toward her. "When I collapsed however long ago it's been, I was greeted by mom." Yang smiled softly, and tears still continued to form. "She let me admit why I wanted to be a huntress. Not just because they were real life heroes, but because of dad. I just wanted to get that out." Yang didn't say anything, she just let her sister talk. "I also learned something, something I didn't like then, you won't like now, and no one will like forever. That evil that started this whole thing, Pitch, got into me, somehow, I don't recall how, it just came. It would turn me into a monster. From the happy girl you knew into a heartless demon you would fear. I don't want to live like that." Ruby paused for a second, "Yang, when I'm done, tell the doctor to turn the machine off. I won't let the monster come back. If I die, it dies with me. A decision I have to make for the good of everybody. I can't let humanity go into the night. Not after being a student of Beacon. Not after being a huntress." Yang was blown away now. How could she ask the doctor to kill her sister by her command? "Yang, I know you're still there, please go. I'm too weak to move, to breathe on my own, to even open my eyes. Would you rather remember me as a huntress saving the world with the help of my friends and team, or twisted, evil remains of someone you loved, there is little I can do from here that can help anyone." Yang stood up, and started for the door, she turned to her sister, lying there, waiting for her sister to go. "Yang, this is the last command from your leader, you can't leave me now." Yang turned back, and felt the tears drop from her eyes.
Doctors were buzzing around the hospital, Yang had trouble finding the right one, but eventually she did. she told him, reluctantly, he came back. They walked back into the room, Yang sat next next to her sister and the doctor went over to the computer. "Yang, remember when we first came to Beacon? How we were so young? It feels like we've grown up in just this short time." The doctor turned off the machines. The slow hums quieted and stopped. "When I first became the leader, Ozpin told me he knew he made the right choice," Ruby breathed deeply, tears escaped her closed eyes. "I know now. I know why he made the choice he did. I, no, we got to be the huntresses we dreamed to be, and we saved the world... I love you Yang." Her body became limp and lifeless after that. She left her sister with that. Yang sat back in her chair. She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at the doctor.
"Shall I inform your parents about this?" He inquired in a somber voice. Yang looked back at her sister, and got up.
"No. I think they'll be fine," she said. The doctor was a little confused by this, but simply walked out.
"stay as long as you need. Just, turn the light off when you're done. We're trying to save energy," he said just outside the room. Yang looked out of the window, birds flying, sun shining, city buzzing. She looked out to what her sister saved, Ruby liked to share the credit, but it was truly her doing that saved everyone. As Yang walked out, she looked at the light switch, but decided not to turn it off.
Yang knew her sister was out there somewhere, living her dream. When you die, are you ever really gone? As long as someone out there remembers your name, who you are, what you look like, or what you did. As long as someone can hold onto that, people never disappear. Ruby is out there, being the huntress she's always wanted to be, living her dream every moment until the end of time. She'll never go into the night and fade into the background, always there, protecting her team. Whenever rose petals float by in the distance, think of the huntress that saved the world, Ruby Rose.