RWBY series property of Rooster Teeth.
Original characters and concepts property of author "Person With Many Aliases"
A/N: This is more of an piece to present a design. I haven't been able to build a narrative good for her yet, but I couldn't let her go without showing her off a little. So it's probably a bit patronizing. Some of the concepting is also reliant personal interpretation, which obviously means it will be canon noncompliant in about immediately. C'est la vie.
In between sessions, when every muscle screamed in anguish from the practice, and the sword remained on the floor from where it was dropped, the exhausted child asked.
"You're the strongest in the world, right?"
From where he sat, he rubbed his chin, considering his answer.
"Why do you think I'm the strongest?"
"Sorry, that's not the right question I should ask. Rather, by what quality do you define if something is 'the strongest'?"
The child sat there, and thought. There was a certain clarity achieved, while the body of the student was weary and battered, the state furthest from "strong", while looking on at the seated, casual shape of the master, who looked unmovable and unbreakable.
The child fell upon an answer.
"Someone who believes in himself. You're the strongest to me because you're confident. You've fought larger, better armored enemies, and every time, they always fell back in fear while you kept fighting. No matter how strong something looks, you're stronger because of your belief."
He laughed, and readjusted the sheathed blade where it lay beside him.
"That's an insightful answer for someone your age. I'm impressed."
The child's face glowed from the praise.
"But if strength is determined by belief, then I would be the weakest by comparison."
The young student blinked, and then frowned, "That's not true. You've defeated everyone who's fought you. There's no better proof of your strength, master."
"A lack of defeat doesn't preclude an eternity of victory, either."
"Then, master, who can outdo even you?"
The master adjusted himself in his seat.
"I haven't seen her in a while, but if she's the same as I last saw her, then she's certainly on a level beyond me."
"How? Why? What can she do that you can't? Where does her confidence come from?"
The child was wracked with confusion, set off by the earlier admission of the man. The child wanted to believe he was an unstoppable figure, one who hung the stars and the moon without effort. A figure akin to a god in its unassailable perfection.
"Far from it, her strength is drawn from her lack of confidence."
"You say that strength is a matter of belief. That's true. But if your belief consumes you, your self assured strength is only a measure of your arrogance. You stop growing. That's when someone arrives who is just a little stronger, tougher, or faster, and cuts you down, and you won't understand how."
"What about this girl then? How can she be strong if she doesn't believe in herself?"
"She's always thinking. Always pondering the meaning of her life, and the limit of her abilities," the master answered, "She never accepted the skill she already has. She always thinks she's incomplete, and practices and practices without end, never satisfied."
"She sounds really unhappy."
"She's pathetic," The man snapped suddenly. It jarred the young follower, "She's selfish, self absorbed, and uncommitted. All she cares about is enlightening herself, like a hermit. But she is stronger than me."
The master turned to his student.
"Blake, strength without a cause is meaningless. As long as we live in this world and we have the power to make it better, that's what we should apply ourselves to doing, not just wasting our time improving ourselves just for the sake of improvement."
"I understand, master."
He seemed pleased to hear the ready response, but seemed to have one extra thought in mind.
"…All the same, if you ever meet this woman, avoid fighting her at all costs. No one can beat her. She's the saddest, most pitiful swordsman in the world, who has no idea what she can accomplish. One day, she'll meet God himself and kill Him, and she'll walk on, crying about how much further she has to go."
Vale, and by extension Beacon academy, had the good luck of being settled in a temperate region of Vytal. Besides that, the city was built into a bay, next to a massive body of water. Between the perennially even weather and a natural massive heatsink, even on the hottest of days, Vale never became muggy or exhausting. The instant you stepped into the shade, the heat of the sun instantly disappeared. It was a picturesque landscape all around, with blue skies and white clouds, blue waters, and brightly hued flora.
However, the further south you went, the drier it became. Go far enough and Vytal looked almost like another world. A dry and cracked badland sparsely filled with brush and stone, and the insane creatures that found a home there, human included. The sun here was blood red and without mercy, pouring its heat and light without end, with no water to absorb the heat, and no cloud to block the light.
So you could understand where Team RWBY was coming from when they finally arrived here after taking an airship from nice, cool, pleasant Vale to arid and downtrodden Bolide, the furthest south one could go while still connected to a basic transportation network, including air travel and buses.
It wasn't even their final destination.
"Weiss? I know you don't like this weather, but grinding your teeth can become a bad habit…"
"When I get back to Beacon…"
A dainty porcelain hand turned into a fist and tried crush a hole in the table.
As for Blake Belladonna, she kept her eyes on her book, and decided her fearless leader, seated next to Weiss, was the most appropriate person for keeping the resident heiress from accidentally killing herself from the sheer stress of leaving her comfort zone. As for the black-clad girl, she leaned back in her rickety steel chair, one arm over the back, legs crossed, and book raised to her face. A shop in the area actually had an unabridged Stanton edition of Anna Hastur's play, The King In Yellow, a favorite she hadn't been able to find in years.
The three of them were seated in the train station, conveniently one of the few public spaces in Bolide that had a roof, waiting for their connection further south. The Station had fever dreams of being a major transport hub in the region, and did everything it could in its budget to make itself a modern structure, with grand spaces to invite shops and large halls to contain a constant stream of waiting passengers. The reality, however, was that the facility was just two stories of lifeless concrete, housing empty stalls, bad ventilation with a few open windows doing their job, a kitschy souvenir shop and an understaffed drinks bar where three huntresses occupied a table for lack of anything better to do, besides listen to the generic pop hits bouncing out of the speakers set up in the vicinity of the bar.
Weiss was flush with the temperature, elegant skin boiling over with rushing blood and sweat as it tried to dump as much heat as possible at cost of the fencer's meticulously well kept appearance. She hated it as much as she hated the glare and the dust, and the general fact she was here at all. Ruby didn't show as adverse a reaction to the heat, but still had the collar of her dress opened to expose her neck to as much air as possible, and had been wiping the sweat on her forehead repeatedly with the sleeve of her outfit, an act that had been slowly irritating Weiss for its lack of etiquette (or hygiene), though she was doing everything humanly possible to keep a lid on it.
As for Blake, it was only years of practicing a poker face and her bow hiding the fact her cat ears had all but wilted against the top of her skull, that she only looked unaffected, while she could feel the heat floating uncomfortably above her skin.
"I can't believe she tricked us… I can't believe she tricked you!" Weiss muttered, "How could you let Velvet sweet talk you into trading missions?"
"Well, it was Velvet's teammate, really…" Ruby lamely justified, "She told me they had some relatives in that direction they wanted to visit! She sounded really grateful!"
The choice of missions the four teams received had been equivalent of a mid-term. A test to see how they would function on a long term contract. Four directions for four teams, and nothing was known otherwise until the lots were drawn on who was going where.
"And you believed her?" Weiss said, glaring, "Ugh, I don't care. I hope they all catch pneumonia or something up in the north… I shouldn't have expected better for a faunus to control a team of crazies…"
Blake looked over the top of her book for a second to reproach her white clad teammate with a sharp look and her name.
The fencer's eyes widened for a second, before she looked away, glumly, "…Sorry."
"Apology accepted," Blake said softly, and dropped the matter as quickly. Weiss had been working hard to expand her views in the past year, and Blake was grateful to her for that. But it was still easy for the Schnee to fall back onto pinning all the blame on a nearby faunus when she was particularly stressed.
"Come on, team! We gotta think positive and be proactive! We… We can review our mission briefing and come up with strategies!"
"Hm. So that's where Jaune's leadership manuals have been disappearing to," Blake concluded, before returning to Carcosa's downfall.
Now Weiss' ruddy face was no longer alone. Ruby spluttered, trying and failing to even verbalize an explanation. The Schnee meanwhile, sighed, intervening.
"Ruby, as great as your suggestions are, we've already been over the briefing a dozen times since we left for Bolide. All we've gotten out of them are rumors and hearsay. So three bordering towns have cut communication. That could mean anything. Maybe they're suffering a power outage."
"But it also said there was a massive increase in Grimm sightings in the area."
"Only sightings. Everybody who's talked about it didn't even have a scratch to show. I bet most of them were drunk and ran away from their own shadows."
"But it's still suspicious when the facts are taken together."
"…Yes. Yes it is," Weiss admitted, "But I still think this mission is a waste of our time. Don't expect anything worthwhile, Ruby! We're just chasing a rumor. The only reason why Ozpin gave us these missions is because they're long distance, not because they're important."
Ruby looked particularly despondent at Weiss' claims. She clearly didn't like the idea of treating the mission as a wild goose chase only worthwhile for its grades.
Suffice to say, the heat of the region was exhausting the patience of team RWBY.
Conveniently, the only thing worse than the heat was the company.
The loud bragging screeched through the air above the girls' heads.
"I don't care what anyone else here is saying, I'm glad I signed on for this job! I can't wait to fuck up some Grimm! Empty towns? It'll be like a fucking all day country fair, no ticket needed!"
"And we're the ones getting paid!"
Blake was pretty sure the eye rolling around the table was unanimous. Poking her sight over the top of her play, the black-clad girl could see between Ruby and Weiss to the other side of the bar, where a number of tables were occupied by men (and women, but mostly men), short of hair but long on armor plating and weaponry, and even longer in their braggadocio. People all claiming to be Huntsmen or Huntresses when they were really just local toughs hoping for easy money.
Sadly, most people couldn't tell the difference between trained professionals and opportunistic sellswords. The local municipal authority had panicked when initial contact with the distant settlements disappeared overnight, along with the reports of Grimm activity. Sure, they filed a proper emergency response that was quickly rushed to Beacon, but at the same time, they also opened up a bounty claim. Not just that, but the worst type in practice. Hastily approved, with no clear target and no real limitation. All it said was that there would be payments by proof of kill. Whoever was good with a sword or gun was welcome to partake in the "reclamation" of Hieronymus, Rodin's Peak, and New Milton, when the first reasonable step was to do some actual recon first.
Now the train station was filled two bit mercenaries, all ready to pour into Hieronymus, guns blazing and swords swinging. The loudest of them was an ex-military type named Hicks, who regularly proclaimed he graduated from the army of the "state of the art ultimate badasses", and was quite filled with both alcohol and guns.
"See those kids? They're supposed to be the "pros" from Beacon. When there's a Grimm emergency, they send out a kids on a school assignment. Watch as it turns out to be those White Fang fucks. I swear to God, anything we see with a tail out there-"
Blake sighed quietly. This was going to end well.
"Guess who got driiinks!" A familiar voice serenaded as their last teammate sauntered over to their table, arms cradling more bottled drinks than what was necessary. At this point, it seemed the only person who didn't seem to mind the temperature or the crowd was Yang Xiao Long. Even though she sweating heavily, she basked in the heat and light. Unlike the other three, she also had a natural skill with gatherings. She could play with the leers and the catcalls, returning her own snappy remarks on the fly and dancing around the groups she could tell only talked a good game, up until she returned, dropping the drinks that her teammates gratefully grabbed for, taking long swallows of the chilled drinks.
"Thanks, sis," Ruby sighed in relief.
"Nothing but the best for my little Spice Girls!"
That elicited a labored groan from Weiss, who put a hand into her face in exasperation, "Ugh. Don't you start."
"What's your problem?" Yang asked, eyebrow cocked.
"She's still upset that Velvet's team convinced Ruby to trade directions," Blake muttered from behind her book.
The blonde nodded in understanding, as she took a seat.
"I see… Well, think about it this way. Juniper has to take a sea route, so I'm sure they'll have tons of fun looking after Jaune. Vel's team are gonna freeze their butts off in the north, and Cardinal's poking around in the woods. Us? We get to ride a train and check out a few ghost stories. If anything, we got the best deal!"
"If I don't die of hyperthermia first."
"You better get a drink, then, Schnee Engel," Yang said, grinning cheekily. Weiss glared.
Blake followed her partner's advice, at least, as she closed her book halfway through act two to pick up a bottle of cold water. It was only another hour until the chartered transport arrived. As long as nothing happened, all they had to do was loiter and ignore the crowds until then, then they would get a cabin all to themselves. With air conditioning.
Something then happened. Rather, someone.
A new figure passed through the entrance way of the bar, and the team could literally feel the atmosphere shift around them. The person that arrived was alien to the crowds for three specific reasons.
First was the silence. Most who entered the bar, even the huntresses, all came with noise, shuffling, bantering, bragging, and complaining. They and all the other supposed hunters that were occupying this refreshment area were all busy, all interacting. But the one who entered was solemn, seemingly unnoticing of the commotion about her. Second was the color. Everyone else in the room had been touched by the dirt and dust outside, smeared onto their color coordinated mixtures burly browns and tans, blacks or white on blues. She however, was bone white, an eye drawing absence of color in the room. White cargo pants strapped to her waist, festooned with bulging pockets, knees reinforced with bolted leather, white button shirt, sleeves short so her arms were bare. A harness was fastened on, shoulder straps going down both sides of her torso to support the central mechanism wrapped around her waist. The waist unit supported a mechanical stabilizer arm that remained folded up on her left side. However, a long package was fixed to the other end of the armature, but its form could not be determined as it was tightly wrapped in white cloth.
What wasn't white was her head, drawing all eyes to the third reason. A placid face of a young woman framed by long red hair, tied behind her head in a low pony tail. It framed her purple eyes, with pupils shaped as horizontal rectangles. Emerging from the skin of her exposed forehead, rising up in perfect parallel were a pair of slim horns that tapered off into sharp points.
Faunus. The word on everyone's tongue.
The noise around the bar dropped a few decibels, as they watched this interloper arrive. Quiet and immaculate and alien to the point of drawing attention. It was as if a ghost had descended upon them. Walking through the conversing bodies, coalescing slowly onto a stool at the counter, putting white gloved hands on the polished wood, and saying, "A glass of milk, please."
"…Wait, excuse me miss, did you just ask for milk?"
The bartender, a wizened middle aged man, gave a hard, questioning stare at the Faunus woman, who looked back calmly, before shrugging and moving to the refrigerator at the side of the counter.
"Hey! Barkeep! I thought this bar didn't allow pets!" A raucous voice shot at the woman's back.
"She probably drinks it out of a plastic bowl!" Another comment followed, eliciting a loud barrage of laughter in turn.
Ruby watched Blake's grip around her bottle tighten, Weiss looked on, worried about an ensuing commotion. Under the table, Yang's heavy palm wrapped itself around Blake's other hand, all balled up in a fist starting to shake atop her lap.
"Don't. She can take care of herself," The blonde whispered quickly.
Blake shut her eyes, free hand still gripping her drink, sighed again.
By then, the woman's drink had arrived, though followed shortly by three men. Hicks, that ever burly, buzz-cut, rippling example of masculinity motioned for two of his friends to rise from their seats and follow him with a "Hey, check this out."
When the glass of milk was placed on the counter, the faunus woman began to reach for it, before a larger hand plucked up the drink. She turned to follow it to see Hicks swallowing the milk with one long gulp, "Ah, that hit the spot."
"…That was mine."
"Is that supposed to mean something to me?" The broader man said, smug.
There were some dark chuckles, and the faunus' eyes flicked back and forth for a second, noticing that besides Hicks, her position at the bar had been hemmed in with his other two colleagues. It wasn't entirely clear, though, whether the fact made any impression on her, as she turned back to the bartender.
"Another glass, please. Put it on this man's tab."
The empty glass was replaced by a fresh serving, and was just as summarily taken away by Hicks before the woman could drink it. She turned her head slowly to look at him.
"May I help you?"
"Well, Lamb Chop, when you rolled in me and my boys, Drebin and Walsh here, thought it was kinda fuckin' rude that a faunus didn't take the time to greet her betters," Hicks said, nodding towards the other two, a dark skinned man with a short mohawk, and a Caucasian with a beard.
The woman turned away, staring off into the distance, "I apologize then, but I am just passing through. I am not worth greeting nor being greeted by."
Blake's ears were still keen, hidden as they were, and could pick up everything. She fought back an angered growl until it was better masked. The whole situation was disgusting. She wasn't sure what was worse. The men who saw a faunus as justification for harassment, or the faunus who were so beaten down by life they just passively took the abuse hurled by them. The old parts of Blake railed at both parties. For the villainy, for the cowardice.
Fight. Shout. Scream. Do something! You're still a human being!
Hick was chuckling as he seemed to recognize something, "You know, now that you're up close, I think I like what I see…"
Yang's grip tightened even further to keep Blake in place as she all but nearly hissed in rage as she watched the men press in closer, Hicks' hands pressing aggressively into the woman's waist and thigh. She didn't even react.
"Firm body, and some great tits. My type of woman. Best thing is you don't talk back. The best faunus are the ones who know their place. How about it, Bo-Peep? Why don't you keep me and the boys company?"
"Yeah, we got all the milk you want with us," Walsh leered, predatory grin almost taking up his whole face.
"Hey, Hicks, if you screw a sheep, wouldn't that be bestiality?" Drebin asked disparagingly.
"With a faunus, it don't matter!" Hicks jibed back, sending laughter above the woman's head.
Blake's glare was trading furiously with Ruby's helpless waves, their thoughts made clear on their faces.
I am going to bury them. Don't you dare stop me.
It's not like I would, but not here! Just wait!
I am not going to sit here and just watch this depravity…!
The horned woman had reached into one of the pockets on her cargo pants and produced a few coins which she dropped onto the counter next to the empty glasses.
"Keep the change, bartender. If you men will excuse me."
Languidly peeling off the stool, she made moves towards the front entrance of the drinks bar when Hicks brushed past to stand in her way again, his two friends at her back. His face had moved from an expression of smugness to something darker, irate at the casual way he was ignored.
"Hey, bitch. You didn't answer my question. If you're a good girl, you say something."
The conversations around them tapered off as eyes turned towards the confrontation. Meanwhile, she sized him up again.
"My answer is that I will count to five. If you and your associates don't return to your table by then, I will punch you."
Ruby exchanged more looks, wincing, and realizing: This is going to get ugly, and it's going to be in here. Full of people and easily reachable furniture.
"Oh-oh, y-you're gonna punch me!" Hicks gasped, pointing to himself, "Well, I guess I better…"
The way the faunus kept just ignoring his responses finally got under his skin, as he frowned, and grabbed the collar of her shirt with a thick hand, spitting, "You got a lot of nerve for a goddamn sheep-Kllrrggggh!"
"Klrgh" came from Hick's mouth and eyes bulging when he felt the faunus' comparatively miniscule fist plunging deep through his layers of load bearing vest to bury itself into his diaphragm. The force of the blow sent the man collapsing over top her arm, and a sick splashing sound followed as two glasses worth of yet to be digest milk and bile escaped from his throat.
Blake stared. Her team stared. Everyone stared.
The woman blinked, and took a step forward. With a twist of her waist, her fist in Hicks thrust forward, sending the folded man off her arm and through the air, out the bar, and crashing into the train station's main terminal.
Everyone watched Hicks, who wordlessly rolled on the ground outside, clutching his stomach, before turning back for an instant to look at the woman who suddenly and effortlessly changed everything. Without missing a beat, she had already dropped her hand and began walking again.
Drebin and Walsh didn't stand for it.
Drebin tackled her from behind, arms wrapping around the faunus' smallish frame and sending them both crashing onto the floor outside, Walsh following close behind.
Yang scoffed, "I seriously did not expect the first blow to go like that."
Ruby was already bolting out of her seat, "Come on! We got to help!"
"Help who?" Weiss couldn't help muttering.
"Whoever's in danger!"
Even as they were speaking, the other patrons of the bar were also rising from their seats, their blood warming at the thought of seeing combat. Mutters and gleeful shouts of "Fight!" echoed, as Bolide's mercs began to walk out to watch.
Blake Belladonna meanwhile, watched, as she followed her teammates, mind cycling back through the last few seconds.
A lifeless figure releasing a sudden burst of power, and then receding… not responding, then exploding…
I have to be wary until I understand why she acts like that.
But determining the whys would have to wait.
Outside, a horned faunus slid across the linoleum floor of the Bolide Station, the larger man on straddling her back snarling.
"You're gonna pay for hitting Hicks…!"
She didn't say a thing while Drebin's hand wrapped around itself one of her horns, hoisting her up and spinning her around to lay one of his fists into her face. She played along until she got to her feet, when her hand lanced up to strike Drebin's elbow at that sweet spot where the bone could not protect the nerve.
The mercenary's hand involuntarily jerked and loosened, letting the faunus close in and lay two punches, one after another into Drebin's head with enough force to bowl him over. From behind, she could hear something akin to Hicks screaming like an injured predator, and she twisted her head to see that he had indeed almost mostly recovered from the last blow, and was charging at her, arms clawing for her neck. She backed away just the minimal amount of distance so the fingers swung through empty air. Hicks continued to claw and punch away, sputtering at the faunus who just stepped away just enough, tilted her head back just enough to dodge. Then she leaned back just enough to counter balance for the heel of her shoe to jump forward from beyond Hicks' reach and slam into his chest with enough force to send him to the ground, back of his head cracking against the floor.
A girl's cry caught her attention, and she looked towards the crowd that stood at the door of the bar. Her eyes rapidly flicked across them, trying to determine who of them warned her. Among the uniform mass, four colors reached out, attached to four faces that matched the age of the voice, supported by an uncharacteristic worry for a faunus etched on their features as they watched the unfolding fight.
Red, White, Black, Yellow-
Which one of them said it? What were they looking at?
Oh yes, Walsh. She should have remembered him. The faunus shifted her gaze to see the final, bearded man charging towards her, his hands gripping a slightly curving saber that was drawn close to his body, about to thrust out into her. She didn't even make a full turn to face him when the two bodies collided, gray steel protruding out the other side of the woman's torso.
A wave of sharp gasps rippled through the audience, realizing the full implications of what had happened. Bad blood was one thing, a brawl another, but to escalate to…
Blake stared at the duo for a second before sighing in relief.
The faunus woman pulled her left arm to the side, wrenching Walsh with it. The arm holding the sword had stabbed through front end of the clothed parcel mounted at the woman's side at last minute, and had been harmlessly redirected to the side. Now his wrist was trapped inside, seemingly unable to budge, especially with the woman's hand wrapped around that end of her object.
Walsh glared at the faunus, who share no particular reaction of her own. Then she crushed her grip closed.
Everyone winced at the loud 'snap' and Walsh' scream of pain as whatever the faunus had been holding crushed his wrist, leaving a broken hand to limply drop its sword. Even then, she had not concluded, and the woman kicked Walsh as hard as she could, sending his body back while his hand was still wedged in, eliciting a second scream as the joints of his arm pulled apart and dislocated. As his hand was wrenched free, it caught onto the parcel's fabric, tearing the end off to fall to the floor along with Walsh.
The last mercenary choked on pain as he gathered himself to his knees, propping himself on his one working arm.
"I'm gonna kill you! Goddamn faunus! You're dead! You think you can just walk all over us!? I'm gonna fix my arm and we'll hunt you down and roast you over a fucking spit!"
The woman looked down at the beaten mercenary, judging the situation. Then she reached to her hip. One hand grasped the mysterious package and drew it in front of her, while it remained in place thanks to the stabilizer arm it was attached to. Where the fabric had torn and given way, one could now see two long black tabs, the obvious source of Walsh's broken wrist. The other hand slowly curled around one of them and pulled.
For everyone else watching, it was a mild surprise.
For Blake Belladonna, it was an utter horror as she watched the history of her life loop around in a single instant.
The woman slowly withdrew a long blade, the tab having been its handle, without decoration, and without a guard. Merely a way to hold a brilliant red blade, straight spined and the color of blood.
The world around Blake dissolved as she stared at what she had hoped to never see again.
Flashing, swinging, cutting, murdering. The blood red testament of her dreams that were delusions.
Master's sword… Who is she!? Where did she get it!?
"You're dead… you're dead…! Stuck up little-"
Walsh stopped talking when he began to remember his relative position to his opponent. He, with one disabled arm and no weapon, was looking at the woman who smashed his limb and now held a formidable sword in her hand. Who was now beginning to pace forward.
He began backpedaling, both from where he had been sitting, and what he had been saying.
"H-Hey… lady, let's calm down… I was kidding!" He tried to laugh, "It was a joke! N-no harm, no foul…!"
"You made the decision to draw your weapon on me," she responded, matter of fact, "as did you make the decision to attack me with it. In your mind, in your heart, you had decided 'I will kill this person', and aimed purely and truthfully."
She stood above him, both hands on her sword.
"As such, you forfeited the right to object to being shown equal measure, in all things."
In that moment, three things happened. The first was that the horned faunus raised her red blade and swung down at Walsh. The second, she picked up a second too late varying cries of "Blake?", "Blake, what are you-", and "Blake, wait!"
Third, her intended blow was intercepted when a girl in black darted in. The woman's sword slammed into the flat of a gray and black cleaver she had pulled off her back and held before her.
(Hm… The design didn't seem appropriate for this child. It wasn't just a cleaver, she concluded.)
"Oh. Are you an associate of this man?" The woman asked.
"Hardly," Blake grunted and felt the heel of one of her feet shift back a few inches as the red blade continued to push.
"Then may you please move out of the way? I was concluding something."
"Let them go. They can't hurt you any more."
"It's more accurate to say 'they can't hurt me right now'," The woman corrected, "With today's medical procedures, they could easily recover in a day or two. What will happen then? They will certainly try to take their revenge upon me then. If not then, then in the future. They will always desire to kill me for what I did to them."
"You don't know that," Blake said, glaring.
"It seems only one of us heard what that man said. Or is it you just don't understand what it means when someone says 'I'll kill you', and really means it?"
("-then you're no use to me alive!")
The fragment of memory danced by Blake's ears unbidden, and she flinched. It was all the woman needed for one of her white gloved hands to dart forward and grab the back of Blake's Gambol Shroud, pushing it down for her other to slide her blade past, the back of the red sword pressing into the huntress' neck in a instant. Blake swallowed.
"Please move aside."
The warning was clear.
"Let Blake go."
The woman's eyes flicked to the side, and saw the remaining children had pushed themselves out of the crowd and stood in a line before the blade-locked stand off. In the center was the blonde, furiously staring, and with her metal bracelets converted into full on bracers ringed with shotgun shells. The other two, Red and White, had not yet actually drawn their weapons, but the way they were ducked slightly, they were tensed up for anything.
"I'm only going to ask once," Yang warned. Her hair verged on flaring.
"Miss? We don't want to fight," Ruby said right after, trying to mediate, "Can you, uh… put your sword down… please…?"
Blake watched the faunus' eyes move from her to her teammates more than a few times, and judging how to proceed from the deadlock she was in, whether to engage or disengage.
My god, she would fight us if she wants to.
A spike of uncharacteristic hatred washed through Blake, directed towards the faunus woman, who would so casually just consider hurting others…
"Don't you dare think about it…!" She could hear herself snarl. She couldn't even remember the last time she made that voice. It was like an old friend coming home.
The woman's head turned, and purple sheep eyes stayed fixed on her, curiously working her gaze over the black clad huntress' face.
"Or was it… you were the one who told others you were going to kill them."
Blake didn't say anything, but her glare couldn't be any stronger. Before anything else could happen, a loud voice called through the train station, while a group of uniformed men approached.
"Police! All armed citizens stand down!"
On cue, the hand on the Gambol Shroud and the sword at Blake's neck instantly receded. The huntress gasped for air and watched the red blade that could have only belonged to her master coolly withdraw into the half shredded wrapping, next to a black brother hilt.
"Perhaps in better circumstances, next time. Good evening."
The horned woman twisted neatly on one heel and hopped into the crowd, somehow twisting past the many bodies who all looked and followed, too shocked and confused to bother apprehending her. After all, what was their involvement in all this?
Blake, however, was involved.
"Wait… Wait! Where are you going!?"
Blake threw herself into the crowd, while possibly hearing Yang behind her shouting, "Stop running off by yourself! Gah!"
She wasn't listening, though. She could see a hint of white disappearing through the service entrance at the back of the bar, and she chased after as fast as she could, vaulting over the counter and racing into the cramped hallways, always just catching a glimpse of the escaping figure as it rounded another corner. One hallway eventually turned into a exit passage, an emergency exit at its end that had just clicked shut. Blake ran as hard as she could, barreling through the door.
She exited into a dry, open lot, with nothing in it. Above, the heat of the sun burned, and she panted, frustrated and confused.
Yang slammed through the emergency exit a few seconds after, slowing to a stop next to the black huntress, panting just the slightest.
"You really need to warn us when you're going to do this. I had to leave Ruby with the police. They probably think she and Weiss were the ones who mashed up those goons."
Her partner looked back, slightly guilty.
"Sorry. I couldn't let her just walk away like that."
"You see where she went?"
"No. I don't even know how she disappeared.."
"Ugh," Yang snorted, hands on her hips, "What a psycho. She better hope she doesn't run into us again."
She tried to laugh it off, but she could see Blake still staring at the lot, like she hoped she could see a magic trail to lead her to the missing sheep.
The blonde put a hand on Blake's shoulder, "Come on, partner. We need to rescue my sister from the cops. And Weiss."
Blake wanted to leave it alone, write it off. Just the heat. Just an accident. Just a bad meeting.
But it was her master's sword. It couldn't be any other. The question beckoned, how it had wound up in the hands of this one person.
Who are you…?
Blake's yellow eyes narrowed at the dry world, asking.
She walked side by side with her master down the hall of the hotel. The rugs were sodden, the walls were smeared, and the bodies separated.
She wasn't sure where to look anymore.
"M-Master… I… feel sick… why… why did we… these people…?"
He knelt down, grasping her by the shoulders while she shook from adrenaline and horror.
"We did this because these people deserved it. They pack us into boxes and work us until we die, and then write us off as resources. Expenses. We're just data to them that they pour through while they sat in this hotel, drinking wine and sleeping with women. We taught them a lesson tonight. Tonight, we reminded them we're living people, who can't be taken lightly."
"But…this isn't what we used to…"
"Now is the time for action. Remember what I told you about strength without causes?"
It was hard to breath. All she could smell was copper. She nodded slightly.
He held her close, pressing her face into his jacket, and he whispered close as he picked her up and walked.
"We're knights killing dragons. Farmers killing giants. Our fight to be freed from these ruthless human rules… is a page in a story of history. We're making history, Blake."
In the folds of the master's clothes, smelling the scent of living people again, the child felt secure once more. Guided by the red of her master, she knew that, no matter what happened, at the end of the day, they were fighting evil. Enacting justice.
Making the world a better place.
She had the power to make the world a better place.