Disclaimer: RWBY is owned by RoosterTeeth. Really, should we be doing this for every chapter? If fanfic authors actually owned the titles they wrote for, it wouldn't be called 'fanfics' then, now, would it?
I think I'll just put up a generic disclaimer on my profile page and direct people there for every chapter. Yeah, that should work.
Nighttime in Gévaudan was mostly quiet, like almost any other town or settlement. Darkness enveloped the area, save for the occasional dim beams of light from second or third floor windows, signifying that the room was either occupied by someone working far into the night, someone who simply forgot to turn off their night light, or simply left the lights on (most of the time, these were children's bedrooms).
In the orphanage where Ruby and the rest stayed, most of the people inside were already asleep, or were trying to.
Save for one.
Ruby lay in her bed, arms under her head with her fingers interlaced. Normally, by this point she would be asleep, deep in a dreamless gray slumber; at times she would be beset by memories of her past, only to be shoved back into the murky darkness of oblivion mere moments before she woke back to consciousness. No matter how she tossed and turned, sleep seemed to evade her this night. Even turning her pillow around to try the cooler underside did nothing to calm her wandering mind.
Finally running out of patience with her inability to enter dreamland this night, the silver-eyed girl sat up and scratched the back of her head. "Stupid sleeplessness..." While being annoyed at her own situation, Ruby's thoughts turned to her friends sleeping in the other rooms. "... Wonder if they're asleep as well?"
After taking a few minutes to make up her mind, Ruby decided to take a peek. It wouldn't hurt her, or them, anyways.
With that, Ruby threw on an oversized shirt and stepped out of her room barefoot. The gray shirt with Beowolf prints all over it looked decent enough for sleepwear, and even if someone caught sight of her she could just say she was out for... A glass of milk. Yeah, that'll do.
The first door Ruby opened (with as little noise as possible), right next to hers, was Elena's. The black-haired woman lay neatly ensconced in her blankets, her black hair spread over her pillows. Ruby stayed standing in front of the slightly-opened door, watching with a slight smile as Elena shifted a little and turned her head to the other side... Only to see a shiny line of drool from the corner of her lip, trailing down to her chin. Apparently, her personal "Batman" was a slight drooler.
With a quiet chuckle of amusement, Ruby closed the door and softly made her way to the next one. As Ruby cracked the door open, she was assaulted by the sound of a gentle snore. Apparently, Ebony was a deep sleeper and he had taken precautions to ensure that no one was woken up by his sleeping habit.
Ebony slept in boxers and a loose shirt, which had ridden up and exposing his abdomen. His entire bed was what you'd expect of a teenage guy: messy, unkempt, and with everything all over the place. It was so... Typical. Quite unlike how Ebony behaved in person.
Alec's bed was practically empty except for a bunch of pillows. This made the crimsonette frown, until she noticed something: the large "pillow" in the middle wasn't a pillow at all - it was Alec himself, the blanket wrapped around him snugly encasing him in a cocoon of warmth. And as if on cue, just a few seconds afterwards, Alec turned and continued sleeping, a snot bubble forming (and popping softly) every time he breathed. Quite the contradiction between his normal everyday behavior and his - dare Ruby think or say it? - cutesy sleeping behavior.
Gently shaking her head, Ruby softly closed the door and checked on the others' rooms. One by one, she watched how they behaved while asleep. The crimsonette knew that despite appearances, each and every one of them would be up and alert at the merest sign of danger.
When she reached the final door - the one across hers - and opened it, one of Ruby's eyebrows arched upwards. She wasn't expecting the last room's occupant, Sanguis, to be still awake and reading.
The room itself was dimly lit; the only light coming in was the thin sliver of moonlight from the slightly open window from behind and above Sang's shoulders. The pale light bounced off of the open page and slightly diffused. Only the sound of paper being flipped every few minutes could be heard; if one would focus intently, the sound of slow, controlled breathing could also be slightly discerned.
Red-brown eyes lifted off of the page, locking onto the slowly opening door. "Sang? I thought you were already asleep." Ruby poked her head through the door, her silver eyes eerily glowing in the dim room.
With a soft sigh, Sang reached for her Scroll and started scribbling, the device's normally bright lighting dimmed enough to prevent glare. 'I can't sleep yet. Too much on my mind.'
Ruby padded closer and peered at the handwritten response. "If you have too much on your mind, isn't it a bit counterproductive if you read to get yourself sleepy?"
The corner of the older girl's mouth turned up slightly. 'Not always the case. I just read up to the point that the letters start to blur together. By that point I know I'm tired and sleepy enough.'
Ruby seemed to mull this over. "I guess you have a point..." Her eyes stray to the book in Sang's hands. It was gray and unmarked, nothing to indicate what it contained. "So... What's that book about?" It seems her love for books still hasn't waned, after all this time.
Sang started to write in her Scroll, but seemed to hesitate a few moments later. Ruby could easily see the hesitation in the older girl's red-brown eyes. With a deep sigh, she erased everything and started writing anew. 'You're too young for this kind of... reading material.'
Ruby's eyebrows knitted together as she shot up to her feet. "What do you mean, I'm too young?!" Sang's eyes immediately narrowed, one finger flying to her lip as she shushed the younger female. "Sorry... But what did you mean, I'm too young? I'm twenty freaking years old, for crying out loud!"
This time, Sang's response was almost immediate. 'Your age isn't exactly what I'm worried about. It's your behavior. I know you're 'twenty freaking years old', as you put it, but you behave a little better than thirteen. Sorry if I come across as rude, but I am not going to let you read this particular book just yet. Maybe one of the other books in my meager collection?' Right after Ruby stopped reading, Sang's arm swept to her right where a bookcase lay.
True to the mute girl's word, there were a few books stacked, not even enough to fill one row halfway through. There were some interesting titles though, but none captured the silver-eyed girl's interest like the untitled one in Sang's hands. "No thanks. I don't think these'll get my curiosity satisfied."
Sang reached across and pulled a thin book out, tapping it gently against her palm. The title read 'Huntsman Pro 2: Rapid Form Switching, Deconstructed (And Simplified)', authored by a 'Y. Kannagi' and a 'L. Utsugi'. She grabbed another book, a hardbound one, the title on the spine reading 'Disquisition on Grimm Behavior and Physiology' and placed it on her lap; soon another hardbound tome followed, 'Authoritative Thesis on Faunus Senses and Their Origins, Mythical and Otherwise', written by a 'Dr. Beatrice Oobleck'. Probably a relative of Prof - er, Dr. Bartholomew Oobleck.
'You sure about that, Ruby?'
The response came immediately. "Yeah! I'm sure!"
In the end, Ruby left Sang's room with the Huntsman Pro book in her hands. However, her mind wouldn't keep itself away from the unmarked gray book. Sang didn't even hint as to what it was!
Damn if she won't get her hands on it, one way or another. As she was about to reach her door, Ruby turned and swung the mute's bedroom door open. "I'm gonna get that book in seven days and read it, Sang! Just you wait!"
A smirk and two whispered words were sent Ruby's way. "Bring it."
Thus started a week-long cat-and-mouse situation between Ruby Rose and Sanguis Anima. Ruby's insatiable curiosity and deep-seated love for books made her want to read the small, unmarked gray book in Sang's possession.
Ruby stood in front of her window, eyes locked onto the black-haired girl sitting in the shade of a tree. An open gray book was in Sang's hands, the pages being flipped every few minutes.
Having utmost confidence in her abilities, Ruby knew Sang would have to close the book at some point; that was when she would strike hard and fast, and grab it when the latter lowered it.
True to her expectations, Sang did close the book... But did not let go, holding onto it as she used only her legs to get up. Wait, what?
As soon as the older girl turned her back, Ruby opened her window and placed one leg on the windowsill, tensing for take-off. But just before she kicked off, an idea snuck into Ruby's head.
Red-brown eyes turned towards a speeding blur of red, smoothly stepping sideways to avoid the speeding missile that was Ruby. One eyebrow arched up slightly, as if asking the younger girl, 'yes?'
"Sang, let's spar! I wanna see how I've improved since we first met. We haven't actually had a proper spar yet, so this would be a good time! Whaddya say?" Ruby's silver eyes were gleaming with excitement, practically bouncing in place as she awaited a response.
Sang slightly narrowed her eyes, obviously mulling it over. After about two minutes, the older girl nodded and kicked a twig to Ruby's face.
Taking that as a signal, Ruby dodged and immediately launched to the offensive, her hands blurring forward in a series of jabs and straights. Unknown to Sang, Ruby was aiming more than a few lightning jabs at the book, while using the other attacks as feints to distract the older girl. Sadly, this didn't seem to be working as the older girl kept on the defensive, ducking and weaving and dodging with seemingly minimal effort, while parrying and misdirecting those she couldn't avoid with only one hand.
Noticing this little detail, Ruby hopped backwards a bit. "Aren't you going to use both hands, Sang? I'm using both hands to fight you here, y'know?"
With a small shrug, Sang pulled out her scroll from its holster at her back and scribbled her response. 'I don't see a need to do that Ruby, as I'm not going to go all out on you. If we both did, either we'll end up both gravely injured, or worse, one or both of us would be dead.'
"I'm flattered you think so highly of me, and at the same time I'm a bit insulted you're holding back." Ruby pouted and lowered her arms. Her eyes narrowed before she continued, "So I'll just step it up then!"
With a quick dash, Ruby was almost instantly within Sang's guard. This, however, turned out to be a very big mistake for the crimsonette. As soon as Ruby's hands extended, Sang caught one wrist, slid herself into position, flipped the younger girl over then sat on her stomach, all in one fluid motion.
"Wh... What just happened?" Ruby wheezed out, finally getting her bearings back and her senses finally catching up. One moment she was about to tackle Sang, the next moment she was on her back looking up the trees, with the mute girl sitting on her stomach, putting just enough weight to pin her.
'Sorry Ruby, but you still leave yourself very wide open when you charge unarmed. Try to fix that first then we'll try again, eh?' Ruby missed the slight smirk that came to Sang's face as the latter started walking away. Oh Ruby, you're just too predictable. Let's see how far you're willing to take this.
The digital clock above the kitchen door read 06:19. Scratch that, it just turned 06:20.
Sang stood in front of the stove, the inviting scent of ginger, garlic and something being stir-fried waking up everyone in the orphanage. One by one, the kids and teenagers made their way to the dining hall. Everyone waited with hushed, sleepy morning talk until the mute girl walked in carrying a medium-sized wok, heaped with steaming fried rice. On the table were a few covered platters, and as soon as the wok touched the mat everyone slightly bowed heads in prayer. A minute later, the platter covers were lifted to reveal deep-fried fish, neatly split in half, sliced tomatoes, bacon, eggs and some hotdogs. The children started to pile food into their plates, while Sang held back and lightly tapped Elena's shoulder. When the butler turned her head, the mute girl raised her scroll with something scribbled on it. 'Our supplies are starting to run low. I estimate another two or three days before we run out completely. I've taken the liberty of marking a few Grimm bounties posted on the Hunter Association site. It should take us one to two days to complete, if we leave immediately. We should be able to get back in time to replenish everything.'
Elena nodded her head. "Understood, Master Sanguis. I'm glad for your forethought. I shall inform Master Ruby immediately."
Elena approached Ruby, and in true butler fashion, bent slightly at the hip and whispered to the crimsonette's ear, softly enough so only the intended receiver would hear. Ruby smiled and replied in a low voice, "Good to hear. Thanks Elena, tell Ebony and Alec to gear up after eating. We'll let Sang take the reins. She knows what to do."
FOURTEEN HOURS AND A SUCCESSFUL HUNT LATER, AT A HOTEL...
"Ugh, why did I have to bunk with you, of all people?"
Alec's groan was answered with a smirk from his trainer/tormentor, Sang. She tossed him a notepad with scribbles, apparently as a response to his question. 'First, there's an odd number of people. Second, Elena won our little game earlier so she gets to bunk with Ruby. Third, Ruby's still too exhausted from covering you from that Gryphon Grimm. And fourth, Ebony happens to be close acquaintances with the hotel owner so he's staying with them, at least until morning, trying to get some of the costs down for the orphanage funds.'
He huffed as he finished reading. "That wasn't a question, y'know."
The mute only raised an eyebrow and scribbled on her Scroll. 'You made it sound like one. Though I was aware you were being sarcastic. It was laid on so thick, it makes the concept of the word 'thick' look thin.'
"Eh, whatever." Alec plopped down on the bed, letting his mind wander for a few minutes. When he turned to ask Sang something, he found her with her nose buried in a nondescript gray book. "This isn't the first time I've seen you with that book. What is it?"
'Something I'm not yet willing to share with you. It's rated as an adult book for a reason. And before you ask, no I haven't let Ruby so much as touch it.'
Blinking a few times, Alec let out a soft grunt. "Knowing how sadistic you are, it's probably filled with tales of pain, torture and gore in vivid and explicit detail, down to the last minutiae." He settled down on the bed and turned slightly so he was facing the ceiling, not seeing his roommate's smirk. "Anyway, Sang, I know I still haven't fully fixed my aim, but I was thinking... What do you think about needle launchers as my ranged option?"
'That sounds... Decent enough. Though you'll still need to be close enough to do any considerable damage.' It was obvious that Sang was entertaining the idea though. 'I'd still recommend something with a little more piercing power. And you still need to get your aim at least halfway decent before you even start thinking about it.'
Before Alec could respond, Sang had turned her back and headed to the bathroom, the sound of the shower running a few moments afterward. When the ravenette re-entered the bedroom, Alec was already asleep. Sang shrugged to herself and proceeded to towel her hair completely dry, then throwing on her underwear before sliding onto her bed. She slid her arms under her head, letting sleep slowly take over.
Meanwhile, in Ruby's and Elena's room, the crimsonette was playing on her Scroll to pass the time, while Elena tinkered with her gloves' monofilament wires. Ruby glanced at the clock on the bedside table, and mentally nodded to herself. Just a little bit more then I could go look for that book... I'm pretty sure Sang brought it with her, since she's not yet done reading it.
"Master, I'm going to sleep. Please don't stay up too late," Elena suppressed a yawn as she lay down, eyes fluttering closed shortly afterwards.
Ruby waited until Elena's breathing slowed down, and glanced at her personal butler to make sure. Once satisfied, the crimsonette slid out of bed as slowly and quietly as she could, and gently grabbing the doorknob. Ruby almost had a heart attack when the brass contraption rattled a bit even with her lightest touch, but calmed herself down after checking (and confirming) that Elena was still asleep.
Taking her time opening the door as quietly as she could (or as quiet as one can be when turning an old brass doorknob), Ruby finally made it out of her room, but she knew she couldn't get complacent. Once out in the hallway, she wedged a plastic card between the door and the slot where the locking bolt would go. This closed the door yet still made it 'open', in a sense, since its lock wasn't engaged.
She still needed to get to Sang's room though. Thankfully their room was right next to theirs; the only problem was that the doors were situated on the far ends of the rooms themselves. Ruby still had to cross the nearly thirty feet of distance to the mute girl's room.
Taking no chances, Ruby stepped into Godspeed realm for a second, making it to the other door within half a second. Her troubles were far from over though, as she still needed to open the door.
The door that had the same old, rusty brass doorknob. Argh, is the universe really against me so much? Repressing the urge to pull at her hair and scream, Ruby got to work trying to open the squeaky, creaky door.
Despite her mounting frustration and thinning patience, Ruby finally got the door to open. She then let out a sigh, and gently stepped inside. Alec was asleep on his side, for once not swaddled in his blankets, and facing to his left where Sang laid, one leg crossed over the other forming a 4-figure, and both hands under her head. Now comes the hardest part...
Ruby started to dig through Sang's bag, checking through the few clothes, ammo rounds, and... Was that Ninjas of Love? Taking no chances, she took it out of the bag and leafed through the pages. She was only disappointed as instead of a story, all Ruby found inside were outfit sketches and measurements, noting that one of them was under her name. Ruby dismissed it, shrugging and whispering to herself. "It was worth a shot though... Let's see, where would she hide it...?"
The next spot Ruby checked was under the mattress. Thankfully the bed wasn't that large, but it was difficult enough with Sang still asleep on top of it. Apart from that, the mute was a ridiculously light sleeper: the tiniest noise usually alerts her and would usually be up within a second or two, on high alert and ready to punish whoever interrupted her sleep. Ruby's breath hitched as Sang let out a small grunt and turned to her side, facing away from Ruby and towards Alec.
Ruby continued her search, pushing her arms under the mattress and feeling slowly, suppressing a blush once she hit the spot directly under Sang's waist and hip. It didn't help that the mute seemed to snuggle herself deeper towards Ruby's palm. "Dammit Sang, you're not helping here...!"
The last spot Ruby checked was under the pillow. If the book still wasn't here then Sang probably didn't bring it with her. There was just one small problem: Sang took the other pillow and apparently used it to prop her legs up, placing it under the crook of her knee. However, said pillow was now situated higher, in between Sang's thighs. Those firm, shapely thighs...
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts and swallowing nervously, Ruby started to stick her hands inside the pillow between Sang's legs, feeling for anything that may be a book, her face red and trying to block out any PG-rated thoughts.
"Wh... Ruby...? What're you...?"
Sang's low, hoarse whisper almost made Ruby scream and faint. The mute girl was blinking blearily at her, apparently still out of it. Acting quickly, Ruby whispered soothingly, almost as if she was hypnotizing the red-brown eyed girl. "It's all right; this is aaaaalll a dream, Sang. Alec is a ninja-pumpkin, Ebony is Archer from Fate/Stay Night, Elena is the true director of Black Butler..."
Quite surprisingly, it seemed to work. Sang settled back into her pillow, mumbling something that sounded like 'I am the sword of my bone', and her legs seemed to tighten around the pillow between her thighs (which Ruby still had her hands in). Ruby almost jumped when Alec grunted and mumbled, "You're too loud Ruby, can't some ninjas and samurai get some decent sleep here?"
After getting her arms out from the pillow and exiting the room with no gray book to show for it, Ruby glanced up to what she thought was a CCTV camera and thought aloud to herself about Alec's words. "I wasn't that loud... Was I?"
After a successful hunt and getting the bounties from the Hunter Association, Ruby and company head straight home to the orphanage. While on the way back, Sang picks up a flyer and reads it, then hands it to Ruby. "What's this...? An arcade tournament? What do you mean with this, Sang?"
The mute girl scribbled her response quickly. 'Simple. We go to get some fun, and if possible try to win us some extra Lien. Whether we win or not, we still get to have fun. We might also take a few of the older kids along, and get some plushies for the younger ones.'
"That isn't a bad idea," Ebony stated after reading Sang's reply. "Besides, it's been a long time since I stepped into a gaming arcade."
"Well, why not now?" Alec points to the Arcade in the flyer, only several feet away. "They're already open and it says on the flyer today's one of the one-day tournaments. Let's do this now so we don't have to spend extra time and Lien going back and forth."
Ruby's smile lit up. "Then it's decided! Operation Have-Fun-In-The-Arcade is a go!"
Sang let out an amused snort. 'Sometimes you have surprising insight, for someone so young. I think my dream of you being a ninja pumpkin might have some truth to it.'
"... Oi, was that an insult? Are you insulting me?"
A FEW MINUTES LATER:
Ruby and Alec watched in fascination as Sang systematically decimated everyone who challenged her. She already had eight straight wins in the game named 'Blazblue: Continuum Shift', and was currently playing with a huge grin on her face as the arcade's rumored top player was helplessly locked and zoned-in. Sang was playing as a petite girl dual-wielding guns, while her opponent was a blue-and-white garbed katana wielder. The guy had already challenged Sang four consecutive times with different characters but lost every time, each loss ending spectacularly with the screen turning red as Sang pulls off what the onlookers called an 'Astral Heat'.
Right now the two were in the second round, the first win under Sang's name, and with less than a minute left on the timer. Seeing the clock tick to the final thirty seconds, the mute girl springs to action, forcing her opponent to draw closer. Just as she started to pull off her finisher, Sang's opponent started to jump back. Her whispered "Shit!" was still heard, causing everyone around to think she had mistimed it and would lead to her first finishless victory. However, it was not meant to be as the move still connected, and zeroed out the opponent's life bar with four seconds to spare.
Sang let out a sigh of relief as onlookers applauded and cheered, some trying to console the loser who left with his head hung in defeat. While Sang was busy shaking hands and waiting for either the next challenger or computer-controlled opponent, Ruby stepped closer and started to subtly frisk her down. When the screen loaded her next AI opponent, Ruby drew back and let Sang finish the fight in record time. With each win, Ruby's hands would subtly roam Sang's sides and midsection, discreetly patting her down for the book. Bystanders eventually notice this and watch amusedly as the mute girl kept on playing, either ignoring or enjoying the contact (spectators think the latter, it was actually the former) while Alec refrains from having his forehead meet his palm.
When Ruby draws back for the tenth time, Alec silently comments, "No offense Ruby, but you do know it looks like you're coming on to her while she's playing."
"Wh - No! It's not like that! I'm just trying to look for the book!" Ruby defends, her cheeks already dusted with a light blush. It isn't that visible, given the arcade's dim lighting, but Alec easily sees it due to their close proximity. "I know she has it somewhere on her. She's not the type to leave a book if she hasn't finished it yet!"
"You sure Ruby? It doesn't really look that way..."
A soft light makes both of them turn, Sang standing near them with her Scroll held out. 'I'm done, nine straight challenge and twelve AI wins. That was actually fun. They gave me a few plushies as a prize for the win streak. Where's everyone else?'
The group's arrival back in the orphanage yesterday was met with plenty of smiles and approval. The bounty Lien would help keep the orphanage up and running, while the plushies won in the arcade provided some free toys for the little ones.
Today found Sang up on a tree branch, nose in the gray book once more. Ruby was in her room, curiosity still at a high and trying to think what could make Sang part with the book, even for a few minutes.
A stray thought crosses Ruby's mind, making her pause. "Wait... I've seen her reading the book, but I've never seen where she keeps it. It wasn't in her bag, in her bookcase, not even under her clothes, and definitely not under her mattress and pillows. So where exactly does she keep it?"
It couldn't have been rolled up and tucked somewhere in her arms or legs, since Sang preferred sleeveless or short-sleeved shirts, at times going for midriff-baring ones. As for her legwear, the mute usually opts for either close-cut denims or something form-hugging or close to it.
The more Ruby thought about it, the less sense it made to her. And the more she thought, the more it dragged her considerably foul mood even worse.
"Oh, hi Ruby. Have you seen the slave driver yet?"
"Eh?" Ruby blinked, having been abruptly brought back to reality by the sound of Alec's voice. "You say something?"
Alec jammed his hands in his pockets, sighing as he did so. "You probably haven't seen that mute taskmaster of mine. Anyway, I needed to find her since I've already completed the task she gave me, and didn't tell me what to do after that."
"Oh, hush, you. Sang only wants to bring you up to the potential she saw. She won't be like that if she didn't see anything in you. Anyway, I saw her a while ago reading... on a..." The caped girl trailed off as a plan formed in her head. If she couldn't find out where Sang kept the book, then Alec might, considering they spent a lot of time together in tort- er, training Alec's accuracy and working out other uses for his Semblance. She faced him fully, hands on his shoulders. "Say, Alec, I have a favor to ask you. Actually, consider this a task."
"Oh great, yet another taskmaster." Alec groaned, thinking it would be like Sang's near-brutal tort- er, training methods.
"This won't be too difficult, in fact I think it will help you in the long run." Ruby looked straight into Alec's eyes, her silver orbs glinting hard. "You know that gray book she always reads, right? I know she doesn't keep it anywhere in her room, so it means she keeps it somewhere on her person. Now, since she's trying to improve your accuracy, we'll up that a bit by adding on situational awareness. It'll help you decide your best course of action given your surroundings, and adapt whenever something changes. What I want you to do is simply observe Sang until you find out where she keeps the book. Easy, right?"
Alec narrowed his eyes, thinking. "So basically, it's her regular punishments with subtle spying thrown in?"
"Pssh, please, she's not that bad."
"Try telling me that when you've endured three hours of nonstop pistol firing on one hand and having her chuck wood chunks at your head and arms if you don't do well enough for her tastes." Alec slightly shuddered as he tried hard not to recall the most recent torture session with 'the mute taskmaster from Hell'. Let's just say that avoiding it was key to his immediate future survival, and leave it at that.
Ruby couldn't help but take a slightly mocking tone. "You could avoid them easy, if you were aware of your surroundings well enough. That's what I want you to learn! In fact, Sang should be teaching you this, not me!"
Alec was quiet for a few more minutes. "Fine, but don't expect me to be able to avoid everything. That woman can read my mind as well as you do, if not better! I swear!"
As Alec walked away, Ruby smirked to herself. Now, just to make sure, let's get three more eyes on her. "Oh Dinah~ I've got a little game for you~"
Ruby said earlier that crazy woman was reading, but I forgot to ask where. Just as I turn to go back and ask her, I see the woman with the eyes from hell perched on the orphanage's back fence, one arm raised up to shield her face from the sudden gust of wind blowing her hair about. I hate to say this but there are times and angles where that mute taskmaster looks beautiful, and this is one of them. I think to myself, 'she'd be a decent photography model... I wonder who she got that from?'
Before I could say anything, Sang tosses an unloaded pistol at me. I catch it, look it over and notice that the top part (the slide) seems to be modified a bit. As if anticipating my question, she shoves a notepad at me. 'What you're holding is a black-market modded Glock 18, set up for both semi-auto and full auto fire. What I want you to do is pick your spots beyond the arc I've marked for you and hit the targets I will raise up. You'll do this for the next two hours or until I'm satisfied, whichever comes first.'
"Um, Sang, dumb question but where's my ammo?"
She just slides off the fence and kicks a bag by her foot. 'In that bag is enough ammo for a squad of five policemen. Hopefully you'll learn to pick your shots well.'
Well, best get it over with, I suppose. I grunt as the bag is slung over my shoulder, feeling the weight dig in as I look for the arc she marked. I stop suddenly as I see it, ten meters beyond what she normally makes me fire from, meaning for this particular challenge (this is a challenge, there's just no other word for it) she wants me to accurately hit a possibly moving target from sixty meters away, using only a pistol.
"Sang," I call out. "The arc you've marked out is ten meters farther than what you usually make me fire from." I can't help but feel she really wants to make things as hard as possible for me. "Isn't this, you know, just a little... Well, difficult?"
Even from my distance, I can easily see her eyebrow going up as if saying, 'so what?' God, I swear this woman is an evil, evil taskmaster.
Complaining further will only make her more annoyed, which in turn only increases the rate she throws things at me. And she gets more accurate as time goes on, too. I'm just thankful she doesn't use her submachinegun on me yet, and I don't want to play her moving target practice anytime soon.
Speaking of which, a rock sails by audibly about a foot to the right of my head. Yup, that means she's getting impatient. If I don't get a move on, her throws will start to inch closer, no matter where I go.
I reach into the bag and pull out an extended magazine, slam it in the pistol and cock it, then fired one shot towards the woods behind me. That's my signal to Sang that I'm ready. She then pulls out her weapon and extends it to its halberd form, spins it once then stabs something hidden from my point of view before raising it. Sang then lifts it up, showing... A watermelon with circular zones inked with a permanent marker. "At least she's not starting with the hard ones..." I hold the pistol steady, aim and pull the trigger... Only to have the bullet fly wide, missing the watermelon itself by about a few feet, if the way Sang looks at me is anything to go by. Oh boy, she's getting pissed. *gulp*
ONE HOUR AND SIX EXTENDED MAGAZINES LATER...
I can tell Sang is trying hard not to drop her halberd and start drilling me again. I know it's not me, the last magazine was spent in semi-auto mode, I even took my time lining up my shots before firing. I even used a low-hanging branch as an improvised bipod to steady my aim, but something is really blowing all my shots to the right. I've even adjusted for it and intentionally aimed more to the left, but I still miss the fucking watermelon completely!
There's something really wrong here. Seriously, does this woman's Semblance have anything to do with telekinesis or something?!
I reach for another magazine when something whistling makes me look up. Just as I raise my head, I feel something slice into my cheek, and hear the unmistakable thunk of a knife digging into the tree behind me, making me freeze in shock and fear. My eyes see Sang with her arm still outstretched, eyebrows twitching violently and mouth set into a deep scowl. Shit, I'm in really deep shit... Shit shit shit fuck shit-
I almost flinch when her outstretched arm moves sideways and points to my left. Is she telling me to change locations?
Before I could even ask, a wooden stool crashing not even two feet to my right made me jump and scramble to the spot Sang pointed. That woman is scary as fuck! Why don't they believe me when I say she's the fucking taskmaster from hell?
I scramble to the point she indicated, sixty meters directly to her right. Without letting me catch my breath, she catches my attention by kicking a pebble to my foot, then pointing to the damn watermelon from hell. I swear I'll go crazy if I don't hit that stupid fruit even once!
Foregoing any preparation, I raise the pistol and squeeze the trigger. My eyes go wide as I hear the squelch of the bullet penetrating the watermelon, and seeing the top part get blown off.
She just levels a deadpan stare at me, as if saying 'what are you waiting for, an invitation?' That was when I noticed her hair: normally Sang wears it loose, but this time she has it in a high ponytail, and it was flying directly behind her.
And I realized it was the wind that kept on blowing all my shots off. Well, now that I know, this shouldn't be too hard. I guess.
I start opening fire on the watermelon, and to my surprise and delight I start to hit it. Five more shots and the watermelon from hell is reduced to juice and pulp on the ground, some of it trickling down Sang's weapon and arm. I slightly shudder as she licks some off of her hand, and then proceeds to impale another watermelon with a grin. For some reason I couldn't help but imagine her doing the same, with blood and whoever has the balls of steel to get her riled up to that point.
Now that I know that the wind's blowing my shots off, I start to move and I learn to tweak my aim, a few going off course but not as bad as before. As I'm aiming at the next watermelon, I notice something off. I'm sure that Sang held that watermelon perfectly upright... So why is it now angled slightly...? Oh, so she's going to take it up a notch.
"Master Alec, Master Sanguis, please cease for now and take a short break. Master Ruby does not want you both overexerting yourselves."
Elena walks towards Sang with a tray in her hands. Looks like a tea set with some biscuits on a tray. "... I know you can still go on, Master Sanguis, but we cannot say the same for Master Alec. After all, he does not have your level of analysis, but I will agree he does have determination. We may consider him a dumbed-down combined version of one of your favorite animated show protagonists."
"Oi, was that an insult? And here I was thinking you were an angel sent to save me from my tormentor." I grabbed one of the biscuits and wolfed it, washing it down with a cup of tea, not even bothering to taste them fully. "Either way I was getting tired, so thanks for the save. Unlike my drill instructor from hell," I lightly snark at Sang who rolled her eyes and turned away, nose in her gray book.
... Wait, since when did she have that book out?
Master Ruby tasked me with observing where Master Sanguis keeps her book. I can understand why she wants to learn that info, as we can use the same method to keep or hide extra Dust or ammunition when we go out.
My biggest issue would be Master Sanguis' observation skills; they are certainly nothing to sneeze at, and more than often she would spot a crucial detail we would somehow miss. I do not wish to raise her suspicion, as I believe she does not trust us completely except for Master Ruby.
I see them from the kitchen window, Master Sanguis spearing a watermelon by her feet and raise it up, for Master Alec to fire at. I narrow my eyes when I notice something: Master Sanguis is slowly, very gradually moving the watermelon, causing the shots to go wide. I chuckle softly, knowing this will force Master Alec to observe and predict the direction the watermelon will go. If I understand Master Sanguis' intentions, she wants him to learn how to adjust to moving targets.
I do not know how long they've been outside but I believe it is almost time they took a short break. I prepare some tea and biscuits, arrange them on a tray and head out.
"Master Alec, Master Sanguis, please cease for now and take a short break. Master Ruby does not want you both overexerting yourselves."
Both of them turn towards me. Master Sanguis uses her free hand to grab a pen and write on a nearby notepad, 'This isn't even one-tenths of what I can bring out of him, Elena. I was intending to call you a bit later, after I start to get his training to high gear.'
I wordlessly read the message and shrug slightly. "I know you can still go on, Master Sanguis, but we cannot say the same for Master Alec. After all, he does not have your level of analysis, but I will agree he does have determination. We may consider him a dumbed-down combined version of one of your favorite animated show protagonists." She scrunched her nose as she pulls out a gray book from her pants' back pocket. It is odd, though; her pants pocket doesn't seem to be big enough to accommodate the size of the book Master Sanguis pulled out. How does she do it?
"Oi, was that an insult? And here I was thinking you were an angel sent to save me from my tormentor." Master Alec grabbed one of the biscuits, shoving it into his mouth and swallowed, then reaching for a teacup and downing its contents quickly. "Either way I was getting tired, so thanks for the save. Unlike my drill instructor from hell."
Master Sanguis' only response was to roll her eyes and go back to the book she was reading.
From what I understood from Ruby, Sang has some method to keep items concealed, and she wants us to observe how she does it and somehow replicate it. I admit the idea's got its merit, but first I have to see it.
I grab the binoculars on my table and aim it towards the back fence, where I see Sang holding a speared watermelon and waiting for a few minutes, then the top part getting blown off. Looks like she's 'training' the brat again.
She then turns as Elena approaches. Sang doesn't seem too happy, but soon lets it be as she pulls something from her back pocket. It's a book.
"Wait a minute..." I gently turn the dial on the binoculars, zooming in a little closer. This thing isn't exactly military tech, but it does the job. More of an antiquated piece of old-school hardware, actually.
Anyway, I'm trying to check out Sang's book... And it's quite bigger than the pocket she pulled it out from. Huh. How'd she do that?
Waiting for a while more, I'm rewarded when she moves to put it away after making the brat stop firing and shoo him inside the orphanage. She tucks it into her back pocket much like how anyone would tuck a handkerchief into a pants pocket, then takes off towards the forest.
I'm pretty sure she's not going to hunt anything on her own, so she's either going to do some reading or get some 'me' time. Maybe both. Heh, imagine that deceptive little spitfire diddling herself... Blackmail city, here I come.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER:
That sucks. Sang just went out to read. But how in hell did she pull that book from out of almost nowhere? Hammerspace? Maybe I'll try asking politely.
I don't understand why our Queen wants me to keep an eye on this human. She doesn't smell like prey at all, and to my best knowledge she hasn't done anything against our Queen. Perhaps it's due to that very fact: the other humans and Faunus around her still have that distinct scent of fear and wariness, but the red-eyed one doesn't. What makes her so brave? What causes her lack of concern? She doesn't even waver when she looks me in the eye!
Per the Queen's order, I silently tail the human until she stops at a clearing, and climbs up a tree. I can hear her heartbeat slow down as she relaxes herself and pulls out something out of her leg. Her eyes are on the object and - wait! What is this? Her heartbeat picks up, but not by much... It's not fear, it's not anxiety... It's... Pleasure? Why would she feel pleasure just by looking at that flimsy object?
She remains like this for the entire time she is perched on the tree branch. Just before dusk settles, she pushes the object back into her leg and breathes deeply a few times. This gets her heartbeat back to normal, and then she slides down the tree and makes her way back to the Queen's domain.
That was one human I probably would not understand. But who cares? I have my Queen. I'll rend those who stand in her way.
I hear the Queen's whistle; she's calling for me. I set out at an easy lope, and come before her shortly. When she reaches up and gently pats my nose, I growl softly and appreciatively, and try my best to tell her that I only saw her human pulling something out of her leg and looking at it in pleasure. She seems to understand, and lets me go to return back to my cave.
I can't help but imagine what sort of humans our Queen has under her rule.
... Darnit, they didn't get anything at all... Where does she keep it?
Sang leaned against a tree, slowly sliding to a seated position with one hand holding the gray book while the other held a plate with food and a fork. She bent her legs, using them as a "lock" of sorts while the plate rested above her breasts. One hand flipped the book open while the other speared food, and slowly brought it to her mouth. I wonder what Ruby will be doing this time…?
As the mute girl sat in silence, chewing while letting her eyes glide through the text, a capeless Ruby Rose was trying hard to balance herself on a tree branch. She held a fishing rod and was slowly extending the line, careful not to get the thin yet sturdy steel hook in front of Sang's vision. Just a little more… She saw the hook dangle about half a foot above Sang's head; now she needed a distraction, something to take the mute's attention away from the book – just enough so she could lower the hook further and get the book.
Ruby almost knocked her head on the branch she was lying on. She forgot to ask someone – anyone – to run a distraction for her!
Before she could continue mentally bashing her head, a voice brought Ruby's attention back to the present. "Hey, Sang! Instead of wasting your time reading that trash, look to the river to your right!"
Without looking away from her book, Sang's fingers tapped rapidly on her Scroll. 'Gimme a few more minutes Ebony, I just need to finish this scene-'
"Wait any longer and you'll miss the glorious view of nips through shirts, cameltoes peeking through short shorts, and wet clothes hugging skin," the now-identified Ebony replied with a smirk plastered on his face.
The moment the words left Ebony's mouth, Sang's head snapped to the right, eyes narrowing in search. Ruby, still up on her branch, took the opportunity and let the hook drop, escaping the mute girl's notice. 'Nice! Thank you Ebony!' She managed to get the hook wedged in the bottom part of the book's spine while Sang's mouth curled to a frown, scribbling on her Scroll again.
'If this is your idea of a prank, let me tell you now that you could have done WAY better.'
Ebony laced his fingers behind his head, smirk still in place. "Just admit you were looking for another chance to perv on whoever was bathing in the river. You even let Ruby grope you back in the arcade. Don't deny it 'coz I was just a few yards away, and I had a front row view."
'Fuck you Ebony. Fuck you seriously.'
"Since you asked so nicely, I'd be very happy to do you, Sang. That'll prove that you don't play for the other team. It's a win-win situation!"
Sang speared the rest of the food on her plate and shoved it in her mouth before throwing the fork at the now-laughing and running away Ebony, narrowly missing his calf. 'Cheeky kid… Eh?'
Just as she was going to set the book down, Ruby yanked the fishing rod, line and book upwards. "Hah! Got it! See ya Sang!" With that, the crimsonette dashed off towards her room, slamming the door shut then locking it and leaning against the wood for good measure. "Now… Let's see what Sang is reading all the time."
As soon as Ruby opened the book, her eyes widened in surprise and annoyance. "SANG! DAMNIT!"
The book itself was blank, except for the scribbled words: "Nice try Ruby."
"This has gone on long enough," Ruby muttered to herself. "This has got to end! I have to get that book today!"
With that, the caped girl set to enact her (desperate) plan. She knew Sang was an early riser, usually dragging Alec along with her for tort - training sessions.
Ruby waited for Sang to exit her bedroom. The moment the door opened and the gray book came into view, Ruby jumped forwards, hands outstretched and ready to grab.
It was not meant to be, however, as the older girl merely took a step back, letting the caped girl fly forwards and into Erif, who was just getting out of his shared room as well.
Erif and Ruby were on the floor, rubbing their heads as Sang poked her head out of the doorframe. Softly clucking her tongue, the ravenette scribbled on her Scroll and tapped the still-whimpering scythe wielder. 'Now you're no longer trying, Ruby. One day left~'
Ebony whistled to himself as he made his way to the back of the orphanage. They had set up a small tool shed where the gardening tools were kept.
It was also where the Red Queen's Court did their weapon maintenance, or at least those whose owners were willing to let other people touch them. That meant only Sang, and she had convinced everyone (read: threatened grevious bodily harm in multiple ways) to 'stick to making sure Angra Mainyu's blade was clean' while leaving the implied threat hanging. When asked for the reason, all the mute would respond with was that the weapon 'was steeped in blood and forged in her own personal hell, and let's leave it at that.'
Today was Ebony's schedule to clean and maintain their weapons. "Oh boy. Elbow grease and headlights, wet whetstones and pliers," he half-whispered, half-sang to himself as the door opened and let lght into the shack. "'Coz I'm gonna be your repairman, your blacksmith, your armorer; and you better believe you'll shine, shine like there's no other, sharp like a jewel~"
He was started off with cleaning the gardening tools kept in the shed, as his own didn't need any maintenance, tucking the submachinegun/halberd hybrid folded under his wooden chair in its smaller SMG form.
Meanwhile, Ruby was pouting inside Sang's room. The reason being, today was the seventh day since she had promised she would be able to get the unmarked gray book from the mute. Said mute currently hid a triumphant smirk as she tapped on her Scroll, 'Ah, don't be such a baby, Ruby. So what if you weren't able to get the book, you could always borrow it from me directly after I'm done with it...'
"I don't want to be handed victories, Sang. I wanna work for it."
'Heh, there really wasn't any need to get this far, but suit yourself... Where're the others? I only hear Alec's pistol being fired outside the walls.'
"Elena's with the other kids out front, and Ebony... Is probably doing weapon maintenance. He should be done already, though..." Ruby glanced out the window, idly noting the cloudy morning weather.
'Now that you mention it, you're right. What's keeping him?' Sang's eyebrows lowered slightly, a telltale sign that her mind was now running at lightning speed.
Ruby sighed, waving her hand dismissively and saying in a nonchalant tone, "Knowing him, he probably forgot where he put your submachinegun and is trying to stall for time to find it... He'll get it back before dinner, don't worry."
For the next ten seconds, Sang seemed to freeze, before her eyes narrowed. 'Lose my Angra Mainyu, will he... Well, let's make sure he finds it quick and learns to remember better,' she snaps the book with a loud snap and shoves it towards Ruby, audibly mumbling about 'making a twist to the literary examples' and storming out the door.
It took about a minute for Ruby to realize she was now holding the gray book that started her week-long troubles. "Aww yeah! I did it! I got the book from Sang! Now let's read it... Kinda feel bad for Ebony though, but I'm sure it'll all work out. "
"Goodness gracious great hairy ballsack of Lord Albert the Trout!" Ebony jumped from his chair and screamed - er, excuse me, exclaimed manly - as Sang slammed the shed door open with a kick. "What the heck, Sang? You trying to kill me with a heart attack or something?"
Her face blank, Sang's lips parted as the words came out in a low whisper that promised untold pain. "Where's Angra Mainyu?"
Ebony's head tilted slightly. "Angra Mainyu? Your weapon? It's right here, under my chair. See?" He bent slightly as he reached underneath his seat, pulling out the watermelon juice-stained weapon into sight. "I haven't started on cleaning it yet since I'm not yet done with the gardening tools used by the kids and Elena a few days ago. What's the matter? Did you need it right now?"
Sang's eyebrows knitted together, eyes darting side to side as if rapidly reading something before closing them and letting out a sigh. Well played Ruby, well played. Reaching for her scroll, she rapidly typed out, 'Nothing... I just realized that I've been had, however rare that might be.'
Ruby finally held the unmarked gray book in her hands, excitement making her giddy as she shut the door to her bedroom. What sort of story would she find within? Her fingers glided through the leaves and stopped at a random page. The text was uniform and neatly arranged, although several sections seemed to be blacked out altogether and different words scribbled directly above them, as if the original owner didn't want the next reader to use the redacted words. The handwriting was legible enough, although the inked lines were a little too thin, in Ruby's opinion. Made for difficult reading especially in dim areas. If Sang was actually reading this part in her room using only moonlight for illumination, the red-brown eyed girl had some serious sight.
Deciding to think about Sang's eyesight another time, Ruby skimmed through the page and began reading loudly at a random section, confident that no one would be able to hear her.
"Does this mean you're going to make love to me tonight, Christian?" Holy shiz. Did I just say that? His mouth drops open slightly, but he recovers quickly.
"No, Anastasia it doesn't. Firstly, I don't make love. I truck… hard. Secondly, there's a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don't yet know what you're in for. You could still run for the hills. Come, I want to show you my playroom."
My mouth drops open. Truck hard? Truck hard?! Holy shiz, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified.
"You want to play on your Xbox?" I ask. He laughs, loudly.
"No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come."… Producing a key from his pocket, he unlocks yet another door and takes a deep breath.
"You can leave anytime. The helicopter is on stand-by to take you whenever you want to go, you can stay the night and go home in the morning. It's fine whatever you decide."
"Just open the damn door, Christian."
He opens the door and stands back to let me in. I gaze at him once more. I so want to know what's in here. Taking a deep breath I walk in.
And it feels like I've time-traveled back to the sixteenth century and the Spanish Inquisition.
With each line, Ruby's face started to feel warm. What was this? What... Is this what Sang was reading at night?
A soft thud in front of her, followed by a soft yet hoarse whisper made Ruby look up. "I see you've read the first book. And I must say your reaction isn't what I expected... Perhaps you are indeed mature enough for this. Would you like to read the second book with me?"
And what Ruby saw expressed in the mute girl's eyes wasn't the usual sharp, calculating gaze, but a softly interested look; one that made Ruby gulp and soon feel lightheaded with the flush on her face. She involuntarily flinched at the sensation of the older girl's forefinger trailing ever so slightly down her cheek, to her jawline, tracing down her neck, outlining her collarbone. 'So, are you interested in... Maturing... Your reading preferences...?'
Ruby's now-beet red face wore a blank expression as she stood up, closing the book and dropping it on Sang's hands while sharply turning towards the door. Still silent, the crimsonette opened the door and softly shut it, her voice fading away with each step, "Nope. Nope, nope, nopity, nope..."
Sanguis smirked to herself. Ah, so easy to tease. She looked so cute though... It's little wonder why the writers tend to fall for Ruby-types. The moe is strong in her. She picked up the book and tucked in between two random books on her shelf, humming as she scanned the titles for her next literary pastime.
Phew. That was hard, writing in a Beowolf's point of view.
So. RWBY Volume 3 has completed, you know who's been made into Grimm chow, split to quarters and paved the way to a pyrrhic victory (I hope you've watched up to V3E12 by this point, otherwise I've just given out major spoilers), and this is the first chapter I've ever posted since the time I went on hiatus. It's been almost a year... Ouch.
I don't have any excuses, but I will say what has been happening: real life, career choices, losing almost all of my typed work, and Monty Oum's passing a year ago. To be honest I still haven't gotten over the last bit, but thanks to some inspirational words from the Monty Oum Project, I decided to pick up the pen (technically, the BlackBerry phone where I write everything, with a new 8GB microSD and a 4GB backup) and start writing again. Even if I don't get my little AU launched, at the very least I will try to get the groundwork laid out.
I wonder, how many references will you guys spot?
For those who don't get it, the part Ruby reads is from – you probably guessed it by now – 50 Shades of Gray. Inspiration struck in the form of Lindsay (Ruby's VA) reading the exact same section on RT's Extra Life podcast. Check it out on YouTube if you wanna hear it.
Major props to Raiyu Fenrir for helping brainstorm the ideas and keeping me sane when Kami almost drove me mad. Srsly, thanks dude.
Anyways, that's it for me. Sanguis out for now. Ja ne~
Moving forward, all A/N's will be at the end of every chapter/story, and a generic disclaimer will be on my profile page.