Chapter Seven: The List
AN: A short chapter before I regretfully put the story officially on hiatus. Grad school, sickness, and a toddler make for a full schedule.
The Beacon cafeteria had a decidedly tense atmosphere as the double doors slammed open. Huntsmen trainees of all years looked in idle curiosity at the latest bout of madness to enter their lives. From freshmen to seniors, they all took in the imposing sight of teams RWBY, JNPR, and CFVY entering as a cohesive unit. The lower years sat nervously as the tall huntress leading them scanned the room. The seniors kept their hands on their weapons, sensing an alpha predator in their midst.
The tension snapped as a jovial voice shattered the silence. "Well, if it isn't my favorite group of huntresses!" The irrepressible monkey faunus chirped as he sauntered over, his arms held wide as if to embrace the group as a whole. His steps faltered as he took in the changes in Ruby. "So, uh… What's new?"
Ruby, brittle smile in place, gestured to the door. "Hey, mind if we talk to you in private for a sec?"
Her face shifted from painful joy at seeing a friend to rage and loathing as a voice she was not yet ready to hear chimed in from behind them, "So, how's it going, Snow Angel?"
Sun's eyes widen as Ruby's silver eyes dull to gunmetal grey and he takes a step back as with a crack of displaced air, she vanished from in front of him in a flurry of petals. A painful shout and a hard impact shifted his attention to his best friend being held up with one hand, a metallic fist pulled back to land a devastating blow. Charging in to save his friend, he found himself restrained by glyphs, a black cable, every metal object on his body, and the main strength of Yang and Nora. "Not this time, Sun. We don't have the details but trust us." Blake locked eyes with him as she talked him down.
They turned to the figures in question as Ruby ground out, "Penny. Scan."
A tiny green figure popped up from her pocket. "I'm data retrieval ready." Winking out, chiming began to ring out from Neptune's scroll. Suddenly, the green figure is once more hovering over Ruby's pocket. "Data retrieval accomplished. There is an 74% match rate. Subject: Neptune is carrying a hit list. Recommendation: Incapacitation or Incarceration."
As the figure winked out once more, Ruby turned her baleful glare at the cringing figure pinned to the wall. "Hit list? Well, your name just reached the top of mine."
Her fist blurred on its way to his face, yet halted, lightly deforming his nose and cheek as he shrieked out, "IT'S A LIST OF WOMEN TO PICK UP!"
Whimpering, he began to babble, "Sun was talking about all the hot chicks he saw here. I wrote them all down to see who I could score with while I was here. I don't know anything about hit lists. It's a hit-on list. I swear!"
"Penny? Can you confirm this?"
The green glowing figure tilted her head cutely, "Given the new information and potential alternative context, the data is a 98% match to a list of women."
Her arm slacking slightly as her rage is tempered, "Wait… what is the other two percent?"
"Searching… It appears there is a typographical error. For some reason, a Joan Arc is listed. As the only Arc is Jaune, it created an error in the data."
Blinking, Ruby's arm slacked, dropping Neptune in a heap. She looked down at the sniveling wreck, then at Jaune who was desperately trying to be invisible or somewhere else. A light snicker escaped the time displaced huntress which shattered the tension and gave rise to roaring laughter as the lanky blond rolled his eyes, "Yeah, yeah… laugh it up. You told him I was a girl?" He glared at Sun.
The baffled monkey faunus got his own laughter under control, "Nah, but I might have been eating so it may have been a bit… muffled. You gotta admit, there's a lot of girls here, so he must have auto-translated. Sorry, bro."
Ruby glanced around and dragged the shuddering heap to his feet. "Alright. You get a pass for now, and this isn't the place to discuss it. Let's find a secure room to talk this out." With a gesture, Jaune and Ren bracketed Neptune and half-dragged him along, trailing a confused monkey boy.
As the door closed, the group arrayed themselves with both comfort and defense in mind. Looming menacingly behind Neptune, Yatsuhashi stood like a monolith while Fox locked his unseeing orbs at the trembling pick up artist. "Alright, so… Can I know why Ruby looks so… different?" Sun opened as he lounged idly.
"Yep." Ruby popped the P as she started rummaging through her satchel. "Basic story, I came back in time a few years. World went to crap fast. Trying to stop it."
Holding up his hand, Sun interrupted, "Saying I believe that, why go all 'Rrrr raaar eat your face' on Nep?"
Ruby looked up and tossed the slagged remains of Sun's weapons on the floor. "Because he is why you died."
Both members of SSSN paled, "Wha.. how?"
Ruby sighed, "I wasn't there, but I was told by Future Fox that Neptune lured you into a building for a 'meeting for supplies', ducked out, and the building that was filled with fire dust went up like an inferno. The only thing LEFT was your weapon and charred bones."
Neptune stared and shook his head in disbelief, "No. NO fucking way. No way I'd betray my partner like that."
Ruby glared and snapped, "Well you did. They haven't gotten to you yet, but it's coming. The people responsible for this mess arrive within the next few days. We need to be ready for them. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Everyone has a weak point. You claim you wouldn't, but is there anything, ANYONE, that would be an exception?"
He paled, "Ariel."
The group looked around, including Sun, "Who?"
"My little sister. She's four. I'm all she has. I mean, after our folks died, I used our inheritance to hire a governess to take care of her while I am in training." He stared at his hands, "I would do anything to keep her safe."
For the first time, sympathy crossed their faces, "Damn. That would do it," Yang chimed in. "I'd do some pretty unspeakable things for Ruby here."
Ruby sighed, "Alright, you get a pass. However, get a message to your governess chick. Move. Find a place to hide, because the baddies are masquerading as Haven students and your headmaster is a coward. Giving your information to them would be nothing to them."
She rose and had begun leading her people from the room, "Oh and these teams are off limits. Try your luck somewhere else."
As the door clicked shut, Neptune pulled his scroll from his pocket, "Aaaaand delete. Not even remotely worth the risk." He began patting himself down, "Body and dignity… mostly intact. You got off lightly, Vasilias." He sighed, "But they were so hot…" He slunk from the room and off towards the Haven dorms.
"So, the baddies aren't here yet?"
Ruby cocked her head to the side and looked inquisitively at the idly twirling Nora, "Nope. Why?"
"Why don't you, y'know, just set a trap for them," the hammer goddess blinked at their ersatz leader.
"Well, there was a tentative plan for Qrow to 'recognize them' by their fighting style and bust them that way," Ruby pointed out.
Nora hopped on Ren's back, to his surprising lack of surprise, "Well, that could go wrong in so many ways." She looked Ren in the eye and the pair nodded, "I know what you need!"
"CRAZY PURPLE KNOCK OUT GAS!" "A stealthy ambush in their dormitory."
The pair looked at each other, "Ambush?" "Knock out gas?"
Ruby blinked, her eyes wide, "You two… are amazing. BOTH! Knock out gas and ambush any left standing. If we time it right, we can gas them in their sleep." She started running towards the main building, "I need to talk to Commander Ozpin! Save me some cookies!"
Yang blinked at her sister's rose trail, "Well, that was a thing."
Weiss had bitten her lip as she eyed the departing Rose, "I have some things I need to take care of. I'll… catch up with you later." She nonchalantly started walking along the fading trail.
Just as she felt she had pulled it off, her back straightened sharply at lightly teasing words drifting on the breeze, "Go get 'er!" Picking up the pace, her mind was filled with her temporally advanced partner and thoughts of retribution against her partner's blonde sister.