One: The March Ever Forward

"Alrighty, this one looks about… 300?"

"Are you sure? The last one was more like 400, and I don't think I have much ammo left."

"Mmmmmm...DEFINITELY 350."

"Uh, alright." A beat after, and a reverberating boom breaks the midday silence.

"Yeaaah! That did it, that's the last one! Thanks, Nora." Ruby Rose said, stretching back from her somewhat stiff position with Crescent Rose firmly dug into the earth before here. Nora Valkyrie throwing out a quick salute in response.

"It was a pleasure to assist, glorious red leader! Now, I believe Ren and Jaune are almost finished packing up, and that means there should be some leftovers. I'll just go and make sure we leave nothing behind the enemy can use to catch our trail!"

Ruby smirked as Nora sprinted headlong with a loud victory whoop to the remains of team RNJR's camp from the night before. Listening as the whirlwind got closer, Ruby could hear the sound of two panicking male voices shouting in protest, before they were deafened by what sounded like a blender chewing through a Boarbatusk, as well as the occasional clatter of pots and pans.

'Yup, no leftovers or traces now'.

Ruby finally retracted Crescent Rose from its position in the dirt and clicked it back into place at her person. With a contented sigh, she looked out past the small ridge she stood upon, taking a moment to appreciate the expanse, freshly-cleared of Grimm. Before her lay was the occasional dried but spritely tree, numerous rocks lying through the fields and hills, separated only by light green brush and the moist heat that pervaded the area. Above Ruby, there were dark clouds, slowly enclosing the sun's view to the world. There would be rain soon. Ruby would say a few hours, perhaps it would hit in the evening as they readied their camp. She did not know.

2 weeks. For 2 weeks team RNJR had been on the path, whether it be hard-packed or filled with tangles and Grimm. In the beginning, it was easy enough to catch a ride from a fishing trawler at one of Patch Island's ports. At that point, the greatest difficulty the team had encountered was one of Jaune's bouts of sickness, which lasted for several days on the ocean. Ruby was honestly worried the captain would've been angry at Jaune for how many places he had marked with his bile. But, the old man captaining said trawler just grimaced and shook his head. 'Damned kids don't know how to their own'.

With the docking of the trawler at the closest available port, and a quick prayer to all that was graciously land-locked by one scraggly blonde, the team set out into the wilderness; for the eventual goal of entering Mistral's capital, and thereby its academy of great prestige, Haven.

Ruby had faith that Ren knew where they were going, the team entrusting the boy with navigating through the wilderness that was central Mistral. However, she wasn't so sure if they were all able to march onward for much longer. Nora did wonders keeping spirits high on the road, with Ren providing a calming aspect to her shenanigans. And Ruby did what she could, though she had to admit to herself she still had a ways to go before she could completely shake free her awkward layer.

'No, the real problem is Jaune. Dust, I feel horrible saying that'. Ruby grimaced, but it was no less true. At first things had gone well enough, they seemed to be making headway and all were in relatively good spirits, an occasional joke cracked to break up the monotony of the pounding of feet on dirt. But as the days went on, the team's noodly blonde seemed to sink farther from the formation as they went, seemed to stay quieter at night when the team shared stories before hitting the hay. Unbeknownst to Ruby, Ren had seen Jaune with unshed tears in his eyes one early morning, staring into the sunrise with a stony expression, though he had not mentioned it, feeling Jaune had reason enough. But all felt it. Felt it as they willed themselves to sleep some nights, the occasional howl of a beowulf in the distance. Jaune was mourning, and the cracks were starting to show. And once those cracks broke free and spread, they would not stop at himself, no. They would spread farther, amongst his teammates. For they were all in mourning, to be true. Ruby closed her eyes to the expanse before her, and instead concentrated on the welling of feelings within.

'We will never forget them, never. And if I do then I don't deserve to be a huntress…

Pyrrha...And Penny, I hope...Wherever you two are… I hope we do right by you both'.

A light, dry wind rolled up to the ridge, blowing her hair past her face. She kept her eyes closed for a moment longer, letting herself feel the relief. Emboldened, she swept away with a flourish of her cape, back down to the remnant's of the camp site, her friends waiting. Yearning for direction.

Ruby shouldered her pack, team RNJR making final adjustments. It would be a long walk today, and possibly a cold, damp evening as well. But they were hunters and huntresses, as far as they were concerned. They would go as far as they were required, as far as they needed to, to bring justice to their comrades, their friends. Their lovers.

Ruby raised her head from the straps on her pack and gave a confident smile to the rest of the team. Ren nodded, not looking forward to the tiring and dry day. Nora winked, ready to climb a mountain if needed. And Jaune, he set his jaw forward and smiled a liar's smile. Ruby looked on in empathy for a moment, before focusing on the trail that dissipated into the fields past them. The going would be rough, but they would take it, and laugh along the way if needed.

'I wish Yang was here, she'd keep everyone groaning from her puns so much they wouldn't even notice how many rocks and holes there are here'. For just a moment, her quicksilver eyes hardened, thinking on her dearest of friends, her team members. She couldn't help but feel a bit hurt over their scattering. But she held onto hope that one day they might reunite.

'Who knows' Ruby pondered.

Maybe they're meeting up now, and I'll be the last one to the team meeting…'She shook her head ruefully. But that would be another time. Right now, her friends and herself had places to be, evil to fight, answers to find.

"Alright team RNJR, let's MOOOOOOOOVE OUT!"