Warning:

Non graphic mention and depiction of a child being raped

Non graphic murder

Profanity

This thing is rated M for a reason, guys.


A rumble in her stomach was the indication to her that it was time to go home. She pouted while she grumbled annoyedly: Yang was so good at hide-and-seek! Ruby searched through the undergrowth for a few more minutes until she not-so-stealthily stepped on a dry stick, only to wince at the resounding sound it made. Again, she pouted childishly, backing up and then tripping on an awkwardly placed root. She yelped as her tiny body crushed her even tinier wings uncomfortably against the forest floor. She had miserable tears in her eyes now and was ready to give up the game so that they could just go home, it had to have been a long time since they started. She opened her mouth to call for Yang—

A hand was suddenly over her mouth while another simultaneously yanked her backward. The grips on both her jaw and her arm were sure to leave marks, and she was now shrieking in shock more than pain into the hand, the sound muffled into obscurity.

"Found it!" The whispered voice sent a shiver down her spine and she felt her heart begin hammering in her chest like a drumbeat. What was going on?

"Itty bitty, but she's got some spirit. Now look at them fine wings!" The grip on her mouth shifted slightly but didn't relent, while her assailant moved to the side: there was another person there, she realized. The other person closed in on her, and a hand lifted each of her wings one at a time with a tenderness that scared Ruby instead of calming her. The person hummed, running their finger over Ruby's feathers to feel the texture.

"A crow or raven." He decided after a moment, "Either way she'll bring in big bucks, I know a few buyers who love wings. Probably some sick kink of theirs." He breathily chuckled while the man holding her nodded his head eagerly. She couldn't get a good look at either of them, but it didn't matter anyway. In the next moment there was a piece of fabric being tied around her eyes, then another over her mouth when the man moved his hand away. She was too dumbfounded to make any sound other than half-confused, half-fearful yelps everytime she was prodded by one of the two.

"She's kinda quiet now, dontcha think?" The one that was holding her said gruffly while the second one tied her arms together. Where was Yang? Couldn't she hear them? Wouldn't she save Ruby?

"Just stunned, probably tired. She's just a kid." He said with finality as if that explained everything about her behavior. It did, apparently, since the man holding her grunted in acknowledgment

"Nice ta know those rumors about a winged Faunus on Patch were true?" The Man suddenly asked in a teasing voice.

"Don't be stupid, that old bastard Cimmerian never gives bad info, you idiot." The Second replied in a voice that implied he was getting annoyed with the questions.

Yang. Where was Yang? She needed her big sister.

She was flung over the Man's shoulder and when she squeaked in terror, something hit the back of her head and she lost consciousness.


She woke up it was to a loud metallic banging that she realized shortly after was someone banging on the sides of her cage. She had been locked in a small cage like an animal for the past (she presumed) week, one that was shaped like a bird cage despite how it was small enough that she would never be able to spread her wings inside.

She curled up further into herself out of instinct, whimpering miserably, but her movement did get the loud banging sounds to stop though. Small mercies.

That thought was thrown out the window when something prodded her back from the direction of the banging sound.

"Get up, birdie." She whimpered as she struggled to a sitting position. Her hands were bound but her feet were not, which made it slightly easier. Her eyes focused finally after what seemed like half an hour and she got a decent look at the one waking her up.

He was indistinguishable from any of the others that wandered down here. A black featureless bandana covered the lower half of his face while his messy black bangs were overgrown to cover up the top half. She couldn't even see his eyes. In the dull lightning of where she was being kept he seemed more like a moving shadow.

"You just love taking your sweet time, dontcha?" He growled in irritation. This time, he didn't have food, water, or the bin that she used to relieve herself, in fact, he had nothing in his hands and the door to her cage was open, but he stood in front of it. His arm went forward and took a handful of her shirt, pulling her towards him while she yelped in surprise.

She was set on the floor with a patience that seemed foreign in this environment, before he led her away by her (still bound) wrist. She passed cages by the dozens, each with a Faunus inside. There were some made of thick glass and the inhabitants were vaguely reptilian, she realized, since they tended to have obvious features like scales or slitted eyes, one even had a snake tongue, which had poked out of his mouth when she passed by. Others were in metal cages that were shaped like kennels, and she could barely see their inhabitants but could have guessed that they were dog or cat Faunus. Others still were in slightly bigger cages that had bars and housed Faunus with antlers, or hooves, and everything else under the sun. There was only one other bird cage, but the occupant had feathers sprouting from her hair instead of wings like Ruby had.

She could feel the eyes of every single one of them as she was led away. Some of the older ones just looked sad, but most looked angry. Ruby didn't know what she had done to get them mad at her.

One of the ones in a kennel hissed at her when she passed, "Run, you stupid kid."

The thought hadn't even crossed her mind, and just when it did the person guiding her tightened his hand painfully around her wrist. She grimaced in pain and whined, but instead of loosening his grip, her escort tightened it further. She cried out at that and the guy growled, before seeming to realize what he was doing and immediately loosening his grip.

"You're fucking lucky, kid. You'd lose value if you were hurt." He paused for a moment, while she attempted to figure out what he meant. "Although I guess to get stuck here you have to be pretty unlucky in the first place." She could hear the laughter in his voice.

But for the life of her, she wasn't sure what was so funny.


eople were watching her. She stood on a stage, without even a scrap of clothing to hide her modesty, in front of the small crowd that had gathered. Her back was turned to them to display her wings. Scared into obedience, she never tried to run, talk, or even move.

People were shouting numbers at her. Big numbers. One would shout a number and then someone else would immediately shout a bigger number and it had been going on since she was led out.

Was she supposed to one-up them like how everyone else seemed to be? Shouting over them? She was half tempted to try and see what would happen.

The most recent number was "fifty thousand," and even though she wasn't entirely sure how big 'thousand' was, she knew it was a number that was bigger than a hundred, and that if she wanted to make it bigger she could've said "sixty thousand" because sixty was bigger than fifty. Right when she finished that thought someone increased the bid and the shouting hushed immediately.

"Two hundred thousand!" It was a deep baritone voice that made Ruby wonder how big he was. People always said that bigger people had deeper voices, so he was probably a giant.

"Two hundred thousand, going once!" A different voice that had previously been repeating the shouted numbers, said. The crowd broke into hushed murmurs.

"Going twice!" The man said after a very long beat.

No one said anything.

"And— sold to the gentleman in the back!"

Without another wasted second she was taken by the previous escort and was led into a room where she was sat in a chair and told to stay. The man leaned against the wall nearby watching her.

"Rufous, huh? Definitely unlucky." He said with such surety that Ruby couldn't help but finally question what was happening.

"What's going on?" Her voice was tiny and hoarse, and her face scrunched up like she was about to cry at the sound.

"You just got bought by a shitty old bastard. Good luck, kid. You're gonna need it." Despite the words of presumed comfort, he had a cackle in his tone that told her that he couldn't care less about what was going to happen to her.


For the first few days that she was there she was fed nicely, given a tiny, but soft mattress to sleep on, and was allowed to use an actual toilet. Considering everything was in pristine condition, it seemed like heaven compared to the bird cage. She began to like the short, potbellied, old man named Rufous who had taken her from the place. He smiled at her with a grand smile and always asked her if she wanted anything. The price for his happiness was simply that he was to be able to touch her wings.

She was nervous at first— her father always told her to protect her wings, because people wouldn't like them. But he liked them, right?

He did. He caressed each feather as delicately as his pudgy fingers would allow, and his face was always red with giddy happiness whenever he did so. The expression unnerved Ruby, but she brushed it off. This was better than the cage, way better.

That changed on the fourth night. Suddenly his gentle fingers became rough while he was gripping her wings with that same giddy smile. She whimpered from the pain and asked him to stop, but that only seemed to spur him on.

He was laughing now. That deep laughter that sounded like a grunting ox.

"I love you." He whispered in her ear as he tore her clothes off. She screamed in terrified response, sensing that something was wrong. Wrong!

He had dozens of guards and servants, and not a single one of them came in to save her.


Her body ached. She couldn't walk anymore— didn't have the strength. She had been 'upgraded' from her tiny mattress to Rufous' grand bed. It was so soft it felt like she was being swallowed by a warm, fluffy cloud. She didn't like it. It wasn't worth it.

Being in that bed meant that when Rufous came into the bedroom she was there waiting, and if she was there then he would get that giddy smile on his face.

And when he got that smile it meant pain, screaming, and not being able to walk the next day. She was brought food in bed, was carried to and from the bathroom by a servant, and was often sent pitying glances by those who helped her. She didn't like it. This wasn't worth it.

She wanted the cage back. In the cage it was hard, and musty, and hot, and loud, and so, so lonely, but she wanted the cage back, because in there at least she could wear clothes, and at least she was never in pain, she never had to feel so afraid.

Rufous loved when she screamed, or when she squirmed in pain, or when she cried in despair. His face always lit up when he saw her, and it reddened when he smiled, sometimes so much that it became an ugly purple.

She didn't want this. Why had this happened?

He was on top of her one night, making her scream and smiling so much that his face was purple, when the door to his bedroom burst open.

That was odd. His servants never disturbed him when he was with her. Still, the distraction was welcome because it meant that he had stopped moving. She was quieter now, but still groaned miserably with every breath she gasped for. Then he moved away and her stomach was on fire again, but instead of continuing like she expected, instead he slumped over and fell off the bed.

She was relieved. She didn't care that there was a dark silhouette watching her from where Rufous had fallen. She didn't care because she wasn't in pain anymore.

The silhouette moved, walking to the side of the bed where Ruby laid with quiet thunks from what Ruby guessed were footsteps. Now that she was closer and Ruby could focus on her she noticed that she had glowing eyes like burning embers, and Ruby was instantly entranced.

"Pretty…" She heard herself whisper despite herself. With all the strength she could muster, she struggled into a sitting position, and it was only then that she noticed what had become of Rufous.

The old man was face first on the floor, dim lighting barely illuminating the puddle of dark spreading on the carpet. He had a single dark stain where he had presumably been stabbed on the left side of his chest where his heart would be.

Without understanding why, she felt her eyes crinkle, her lips turn upwards, and a soundless chuckle escape from her throat. She was laughing at the sight of Rufous' dead body.

"Child." Oh, now Ember Eyes was talking. She was a woman without a doubt. Ruby turned to look at the woman, smile still on her face. She knew, somewhere inside of her, that even if this woman killed her she would die with a smile on her face.

Ember cupped her face with her hand gently and Ruby tensed, smile falling quickly despite what she had been thinking moments before. Rufous loved to touch her like this. There was no way she was going to let some woman treat her the same way after she tasted the sun. Not after she was given a glimpse of the sunlight that was her life without Rufous in it.

With a panicked shriek she threw herself at the woman, so far beyond running, knowing that there was no way to get away. Too many guards. Eyes everywhere.

The woman let out a weird sound of what was probably shock when Ruby fell upon her, but ultimately she wasn't stunned enough to let Ruby have her way with her. Within seconds Ruby was restrained, but she was still kicking and screaming, screaming so loud that she was certain her throat would be sore in the morning.

"Child, look at me." The sternness of the voice that was oddly devoid of emotion made Ruby pause. Her eyes were wide open and they locked on the woman's glowing orange orbs after a moment. She was still gasping for breath from adrenaline and pain and anger and everything in between, but there was that tiny spark of childish naivety that remained in her still that made her stop. The woman breathed a sigh of relief, and then took off her jacket, offering it to Ruby. She had a red shirt underneath with yellow runes adorning every edge in the fabric. Ruby took the jacket in mild confusion, she hadn't been given any clothes since that night with Rufous.

Still, she put it on and zipped it up. It was big on her, even though it had been skin tight on the woman, and was very baggy on her, reaching down to her knees. She hugged the long sleeves to her in uncertainty. The fabric felt weird on her skin after so long going without wearing anything.

The woman examined her under a critical eye and then smiled at Ruby, but the expression was impossible to make out in the lighting.

"You're going to be fine." And a tiny part of Ruby believed her.


Years later...

A solemn tune of a familiar voice played over a tiny radio on the corner of the desk. There was a slight prickling chill in the air that belied the heavy snowfall outside the window, where a dreary landscape of white and gray drowned out all else. Cutting through the perpetual silence of the soft music was a sharp squeal as the chair at the desk abruptly spun, facing the window rather than the desk it had been facing previously.

Jacques Schnee laid his bony cheek into his knuckles as he sat in a relaxed position, one leg crossed over the other, staring off in deep thought. Weiss' most recent recital was playing in a never ending loop, and he was already bored of the song. Had he been required, he most likely could have sung it word for word, hitting each of the notes simply due to how much he had heard it since it was released a few weeks ago.

He needed new music.

With that thought he turned his chair back to facing the desk, his finger reaching forward to call for his assistant and have her download a much larger selection of music than the single song on his feeble playlist, but as soon as the chair had finished its spin he froze. He felt his finger twitch as he gauged the new occupant of the room.

They loomed over his seated form and suddenly the chill of winter seemed harsher, and Jacques felt a shiver fall down his spine. The person was shrouded in a light grey cloak that blended in well in the whitewashed room that was his office. Their snowy colored clothes hid any distinguishable characteristics even of their gender, which was contrasted sharply by a single black splotch in their attire: an ink black mask that was modeled after the head of a Nevermore.

Jacques found that his throat was dry as he stared down the silent trespasser through the empty black eye holes in the mask. The assassin silently promised his death; for it was all too obvious why they had come into his office.

As ominously silent as they had entered, they shifted, bringing their arm up slowly, obviously expecting retaliation. The upper form of the assassin leaned forward, exposing their neck.

Without a second thought Jacques lashed out, each of his fingers closing except one to point at his target: the displayed neck, and instantly a glyph appeared. An ice shard, long, thin, and sharp, shot towards the exposed flesh, impaling the assassin, who dropped to the floor lifelessly— or it would have, provided his target was still where they were last seen.

The ice punctured the ceiling with a sharp thud, shocking Jacques out of his reverie. He shot up from his cushioned chair and whirled around, examining every shadow in the room. There always seemed to be a dark shadow in the corner of his eye and it terrified him.

It was only after an eternity of what seemed like hours until he felt himself calm down. There had been no movement or sound for so long that it was possible it was just his paranoiac imagination.

Due to all the stress from his job, it had not been the first time.

With a shaking hand he pressed the announcer and called for his assistant to bring more guards into his wing, and have some stationed inside. With a sigh of relief at his assistant's quick reply, he sat down. His entire being was still on edge; was that cloaked figure really just a hallucination?

He felt exhausted suddenly as the adrenaline left his system, yet he realized that he wouldn't be able to sleep anytime soon. His eyes fell upon his desk and he pulled his chair in to set to work on the paperwork once more.

There was a small paper on his desk over the documents he had last been working on, pristine white paper ripped from a larger piece.

It read only a single sentence in crudely written black ink, but it was enough for Jacques to shoot from his chair once more. In response, a rope fell over his neck from behind and a small, gloved hand covered his mouth.

The rope tightened immediately and Jacques shuddered, responding with a shove of his elbow into his would be attacker. Similar to his previous attempt, his blow struck nothing but air. A boot hit him with the force of a car, not on his back where his assailant had previously been, but into his stomach. He felt himself bowl over, a strangled wheeze leaving his lips as air left him. He gasped painfully, struggling to draw in oxygen and finding none. The rope hadn't loosened even when she changed positions.

Black spots filled his vision as he collapsed suddenly, but vaguely he felt an arm wrap around him, laying him gently to the floor without a sound.

"Shh…" A whisper came from above him, the ominous dark mask hovered over him, the only thing visible in his darkening vision.

Then the voice only repeated what was written on the paper in messy handwriting,

"You look like you've seen a ghost."


Several patiently waited minutes after the white haired man fell limp, Ruby ungloved one of her hands, feeling his neck for a pulse. After a moment she was satisfied with her work and unwove the rope from the corpse's neck. She gloved her hand once more to avoid leaving fingerprints anywhere. The indentions from her strangulation would last, making an autopsy mostly pointless, however right now that wasn't what she cared about. She grabbed the man's hands and pulled, feeling the resistance from the carpet, but all it took was channeling aura into her arms and upper body for the weight of the man to seemingly lessen as her strength was fortified. The body was dragged behind the desk, carefully hidden from the view of the front door where guards were sure to waltz in at any given moment considering his previous call.

As if on cue a knock shattered the lull she had succumbed to while listening to the solemn tune that was on constant replay.

"Sir?" A deep voice asked, "We were told to report to you, may we come in?"

"There are four." A voice came through her earpiece faintly "The cameras' loop will end in seven minutes, twelve seconds. Best be on your way."

Ruby scowled to herself, mentally berating the speaker for setting such a short time— then again he hated Ruby so it wasn't surprising.

Ruby went straight to the window, examining the pane. It was locked.

Ruby quickly set to work, bringing a small lock picking set from one of her many pockets. It took longer than she would've liked, and after the guard's second, far more hesitant call for permission to come in, she gave up.

"You're losing your touch."

"Fuck off, Mercury." She whispered, she barely heard her own voice since it was so quiet, but knew from the man's chuckle that he had heard it.

She turned as she heard the doorknob jiggle, and time seemed to freeze around her.

The office was a wide open expanse with no place to hide, most likely due to Jacques' paranoia with assassins. She stared at the knob, before moving slowly to the opposite side of the door from where it would open.

Glancing behind her she grimaced: she was in a timer now. A trail of ebony colored rose petals hung suspended in the air behind her. After fifteen seconds of real time they will dissipate, but that was time she no longer had now. Every move she made left petals in her wake, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to follow.

She cancelled her Semblance and felt the air shift around her from the abrupt movement. She jumped and hugged the ceiling directly above the door, breathing deeply but quietly to calm her rapidly beating heart. The door wiggled as the knob clicked and it swung open without a sound from the well oiled hinges, Ruby knew; it was where she had come in from after all. The guards filed into the room, unnerved at their boss' lack of presence.

"Sir?" The one she recognized as the speaker from behind the door stepped forward.

One of the guards had noticed the rose petals and was looking at them with a face of confusion, as if he was trying and failing to remember something important., yet their backs were turned to her, so she wasted no time in silently climbing from the doorframe and slipping out the door.

Her pace was quick, yet silent; as fast as she dared to go without making unneeded sounds that would draw attention. To her it felt agonizingly slow, but she forced herself to continue with stealth in her escape, making it less likely that she would get caught, and infinitely easier to pin the blame on any other assassin. The only mistake she had made was activating her Semblance on instinct and leaving a trail of rose petals: the signature calling sign of the Raven.

After only thirty seconds of melding into the shadows and avoiding people like they were the plague, a shout broke through the still mansion,

"ASSASSIN!"

The night was quiet for a moment, shocked into silence, before the hallways began to buzz with activity.

A menacing chuckle broke the silence that had settled over Ruby's mic, "Nice job, asshole, you can't play with the big dogs, you know."

Ruby narrowly avoided openly snarling at Mercury. She bit down on her lip with a tiny grumble as she peeled a corner.

"The loop will end in less than three minutes, get your tiny little ass out of there if you don't want to be filmed."

It took every ounce of training she had not to verbally attack her supposed comrade and remain silent, but her bottom lip suffered severely from her agitation. With the hallways buzzing with new activity she could afford a hurried jog, but kept to her predetermined path of escape. With adrenaline pounding in her ears she nearly failed to notice a door opening, but caught herself in time and quietly stumbled to a halt. A band of guardsmen hustled through the door and down the hallway, not noticing her hiding in a curtained windowsill.

Pressed for time she was forced to activate her speed Semblance to get out in time: there was twenty seconds left. She rushed through the back door leading to the massive six car garage and fled from there, leaving a heavy trail of petals. The moment the door was opened to the outside she took to the air, to avoid making footprints in the deep snow.

Ruby deactivated her Semblance quickly and took shelter in a snow covered tree not too far from the Schnee's mansion, her cloak camouflaging her as intended. Her breath was ragged and so she decided to take a break before she allowed herself to make for the pickup site. The freezing wind bit at her throat but she gulped it up regardless, while the heavy blizzard began to cover her still form instantly, and she gratefully allowed it. She could deal with cold, freezing, and the inevitable sickness that will come later when she was home, for now she needed to make sure she stayed hidden.

Mercury's hateful chuckles abruptly stopped with a tiny noise that told Ruby that he muted himself. Only a moment later he was unmuted, but it was a different voice that greeted her.

"I'm actually sorry that you had to deal with him, there was supposed to be someone else assisting you… What happened?"

"The target was eliminated successfully, but the loop was pretty short plus I had to use my Semblance twice to get out in time, I'll be found out." There was no doubt in her mind. Despite the guards seeming incompetence, only world-class investigators would be hired. Those already on her trail would know the signs without fail.

Emerald was silent for a moment before a snort of laughter was heard, "Honestly, What was Mercury thinking? He's the one that will be punished, not you!"

Ruby mentally laughed at the comment, but outwardly only showed a cheeky smile. Cinder had enough faith in her to know that she wouldn't be caught so easily. Similarly, her relationship with Emerald was much more like friendship in contrast to the hateful distance between her and Mercury.

"I know right? Sometimes it's—" she cut her amused whisper off the second she heard activity. Even through the howling wind she took no chances. Footsteps crunched the undisturbed snow beneath her spot as guardsmen searched the perimeter.

Her breath caught in her throat when a flashlight brightened the branches around her, but she stayed still nonetheless. By now she was completely soaked with the freezing water from the snow and was going numb in several places. Her shivering didn't seem to alert the guards thankfully, since the wild winds shook all the trees and drowned the muted chattering of her teeth.

Once they were no longer in sight, snow filling in their footprints, she took off, Emerald's previous joking forgotten. The original rendezvous point was five miles northeast of the mansion, a distance that would take her only a minute or two at full speed, but with stealth an issue and freezing, soaked, wings she was forced to take a much slower pace. Twenty minutes in she was at three miles and she found herself in front of a night club. Her breath ragged, she cut her original plan for fear of a health issue more dangerous than a fever.

The music got louder every step she took towards the backside of the joint, however once she unlocked the door with her key and stumbled inside the sound was heavily muted as if she had entered another building entirely. Once she closed the door, it was nearly silent, with only nearby workers in the back being audible. The sound proofing here was expensive but worth it.

Sighing her shoulder found the wall and she slid down, her numb legs were shaking and, once she was in a spot she deemed safe, could no longer support her weight. Her wings went limp behind her completely soaked with frost melting off the feathers. She sneezed, felt her throat begin to burn and smiled. Her numb fingers worked her Scroll, the touch-screen device having trouble registering the frozen digits. A small message was typed out with slight difficulty.

"At Rusty's. Pick me up?"

And instant later a confirmation was sent by her friend and the device began vibrating for attention. Ruby answered the call and held the scroll out before her. On the screen Emerald was displayed: she had a pair of crimson eyes and contrasting mint green hair and dark skin. She also sported a dirty brown turtleneck and a slightly amused expression, which quickly turned to worry when she saw Ruby's state.

"Hey." Ruby said blandly, a victorious smirk on her face despite her obvious exhaustion.

Emerald stayed silent for a minute as she looked Ruby over before looking her in the eye and sighing loudly. "Tell Rusty to get you a warm bath and a change of clothes, if he doesn't listen, well…you know what to do."

Rusty, the owner of this club in Atlas, wasn't directly associated with Cinder and as such wasn't always accounted for, but they would occasionally service each other for mutual benefit. Today, Rusty would house her until Cinder came to pick her up.

Ruby tilted her head back tiredly and shouted into the back room, "Hey! Is Rusty in?"

Three men, two dressed in security uniforms, another like a bartender, cane to see what the ruckus was after a minute. The bartender recognized her and confirmed that she was not a trespasser to the guards and went to find his boss leaving the two men to eye her suspiciously.

Emerald talked with her while they waited, both completely ignoring both guards, before the bartender came back with a scrawny man.

At first appearance Rusty would not be the type to associate with dangerous people like Cinder, but what he lacked in brawn he made up with a mind that could carve every last ounce of information from his victim, which served him well as an information broker. It was not uncommon for him to hire people that he had dirt on.

The man, with his twiggy red hair and wiry round glasses, looked upon Ruby with an unamused frown.

Ruby worked for one of the only people that managed to get dirt on him.

With a sigh he did as told promptly, letting Ruby soak in his own tub and wear some of his pajamas—provided they were far too big on her, even despite his small frame, but the oversized shirt didn't quite fit with her wings, with the shirt being awkwardly half on, exposing most of her torso, chest included, so instead Ruby simply held it over her front.

Later, when Cinder picked her up her report was met with no surprises, Emerald had already filled her in and Mercury had already been (brutally) warned not to interfere with a mission again.

To no one's surprise Ruby was out of action for a few days to recover from a fever, but shortly after she returned to her training, her next mission came to light.


"We're being relocated to Vale." Cinder said bluntly, with Ruby, Emerald, and Mercury at attention. "From there we will be meeting with numerous people who will help with our goal and we will infiltrate Beacon."

The three subordinates had differing reactions, with Emerald looking mildly surprised and Mercury looking entirely unamused, Ruby however had a frown indented into her face. None of them spoke.

Cinder continued her explanation of their plan for the near future: Ruby would enter Beacon as a student, while the remaining three would continue their plans.

"What?Me?Whatwhy?Waitwhat?" Ruby spoke rapidly to the point where she was nearly incomprehensible.

Cinder, used to her behavior, remained undaunted, "There will be no work befitting of your skill set in Vale. We will later apply as transfers, but you need to begin gathering data on Ozpin and see if the relic still remains beneath the school as it was originally."

Mercury snorted in laughter, "Heh, that's just a nice way of saying you'll be useless." Emerald proceeded to elbow him in the side with an annoyed glare.

"Not necessarily," Cinder replied, "Ozpin has a fondness for those with innocent hearts. Since Ruby excels as a con artist, it will be but a simple job for her...but unfortunately the same cannot be said for you." Content, she displayed a mischievous smirk. Mercury only sputtered uselessly in reply. "Your priority mission is finding Fall. We believe she is somewhere in Beacon." She finished, reverting back to her seriousness.

Their banter stopped when Ruby spoke up again, "U-umm… Well, miss..?" Reverting to politeness was a clear sign that she was afraid of talking back. "I'm kind of… famous..? Or infamous… or whatever… But..! But uhh…" Her speech was a far cry from her usual confident demeanor and Mercury was the only one that seemed to be enjoying it.

Cinder took the obvious fear in stride, "Your features have never been seen. All it'll take is a makeover, some bleach for your feathers, a change in your outfit— it'll be easy, Little Rose."

That nickname.

Ruby looked at the woman and exhaled loudly, before nodding, "I hope you're right."