First I want to thank people who read my first RWBY one-shot Lives Lost, Lives Lived. It got more favourites, follows and reviews than I had ever expected and I'm just so grateful you guys liked it.
Anyways, another story fresh off the printer. I hope you enjoy it.
"Ms. Schnee. Ms. Belladonna. Thank you for seeing me this morning." Headmaster Ozpin gestured for the two girls to sit down in the seats provided.
They looked at each other, but complied with their old headmaster's request. Ozpin's office was the same as it always was. Immaculately clean and sparsely decorated, aside from the clockwork ceiling and his own long desk. Like usual, a coffee mug was steaming within arm's reach, but he made no move to reach for it. Instead, his fingers were laced together, thumbs locked in place. His expression was difficult to read.
"May I ask why we are here? We are no longer students at Beacon Academy." Weiss began, her voice as prim and proper as it always was.
"And what a loss it has been to this Academy. To see young women such as yourselves leave our establishment. But in your situation, I wholeheartedly understand. My sympathies still go out to you and your loss."
"What do you want, professor." Blake snapped, not enjoying the headmaster's way of slowing down a conversation.
The headmaster in turn stared at the two and reached for his mug, taking a slow sip of coffee before placing it down. With every movement Blake's eyebrows noticeable twitched in annoyance. Yet, she remained silent. They both did.
"I would like to offer you a mission. One final mission before you both put aside your lives as Huntresses for good."
"No." Blake crossed her arms over her chest.
"Professor, you know why we left Beacon and why both of us gave up on being huntresses. You can definitely find better candidates suited to this mission than two Beacon Academy drop-outs." Weiss mustered
"You would think so, my dear. Please at least stay and watch what I have to offer, before you make up your minds fully."
"Of course." Weiss kicked Blake underneath the desk. With an eyeroll, Blake nodded. There was no way she would go on another mission. She had promised herself that she was done with fighting. She and Weiss had made an oath. No more being huntresses. They were done with that part of their lives.
The holo-screen flickered to life. At first, it was hard to determine what it was the girls were seeing. Then, as the holographic images of smoke cleared, it was a village. A village burning. There was so much smoke and fire. More than an ordinary grimm attack would cause. Even if there had been thousands of grimm, this amount of burning was impossible. They saw people running in panic. Some were coughing, hands and knees on the dirt ground hacking up blood and lungs from smoke inhalation. Others were running for their lives. Some were running while lit aflame. Others lay motionless as the fires claimed their bodies.
Weiss gasped in horror, her fingers grazing her lips in shock. Blake glanced at the girl. It would be a moment later before she too realized what was going on. Amidst the burning buildings and people, stood one who did not look frightened. Instead, the figure looked angry. Furious even. All while covered in flames of her own. The long, tangled blonde hair of the figure was a mess, but was not turning to ash. The figure's eyes were glowing a bright red.
"Indeed." Ozpin muttered. "If I am correct, you both have not seen Ms. Xiao Long in a couple months?"
"I've not even heard a word about her since the funeral. I even tried calling Mr. Xiao Long and her Uncle Qrow. Neither had heard a word about her." Weiss could not tear her eyes from the screen. Watching as the monster that was Yang Xiao Long tear through people and buildings alike, setting anything she could not reach with her hands, to flame.
"When did this happen?" Blake's voice cracked, even as she tried desperately to remain calm.
"This was six days ago. Yong Xhang Village." Ozpin flicked buttons on his desk. The image flickered and turned to a horrible scene. There were no colours anymore. Just black and white ash and grey smoke of charred bodies and the remnants of houses and shops. The village's walls were cracked in multiple places. Even made from stone, they looked to have been burnt or melted.
"This is Yong Xhang Village today. I sent a fourth-year team to search the village. From their report, there were no survivors to be found in the wreckage. That is not to say any didn't escape during the confusion." Ozpin pressed another button. It was obviously a video of a different village, but the picture was much the same.
Death and destruction.
"This was Toa Fei village."
"And this was Tsu Mai. Noticing a pattern?"
Weiss could hardly believe it. They had been to each of these villages. Team RWBY had been to each one. She had made friends in each one. Save lives in each one. It was a path of destruction, played for them in reverse. It matched something familiar. It matched-
"It's the villages Team RWBY visited while tracking the Cryptic." Blake finished her thought aloud.
"Indeed." Was Ozpin's singular reply.
The Cryptic had been a new type of grimm, only just discovered and documented. Ruby had been adamant about taking on a mission to find and kill it. And of course, become one of the first people in history to even witness one of these strange creatures, let alone kill it. It would take all summer, taking away their one break before classes resumed, but they all agreed to it. It had been their final mission as team RWBY.
"Why though? I thought she would never want to visit those places again? Not after…"
"I cannot answer that, Ms. Belladonna. Only say what I know or understand to be true with the little knowledge I have. It is my belief, that after the incident and the preceding funeral, Ms. Xiao Long… to put it mildly, snapped. Her emotions took control. And with a semblance as powerful as hers… you can see the aftermath."
"You want us to find Yang and stop her." Blake concluded, knowing no other reason the headmaster would have called on them. Ozpin's slight nod was all the confirmation she needed.
"Indeed. You do, however, have a time limit to reach her and recover her by any means necessary. If you recall the path, she has set herself upon, you know what village is next. From what we know of her pace between these three villages, you have at most two weeks before she reaches Saishu Kioku."
Saishu Kioku. The largest city outside of Vale itself. Thousands of people hidden behind two massive walls which nearly rivaled those protecting Vale and Beacon on one side. With a mountain; one of the few on the Sanus continent, on the other side. Blake turned to Weiss, reading her expression. It was grim. If Yang reached the city, there would be no way anyone would survive.
"We accept." The two spoke as one. "Anything for Yang."
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly, and it was warm. The few clouds in the sky were light and fluffy. The ground was still wet from the previous night's rainfall, but it filled the air with the pleasant smells of petrichor. The leaves had only begun changing colours, but most were still green and hung fiercely to their trees. There were puddles on the ground. Many puddles that were clean and on every surface. The grass, the dirt and the pavement. In a word, perfect.
Yet, not a single person present noticed. All eyes were on the headstone. Hundreds had attended. It surprised the father and sister. About how many lives that little girl had touched in just one short year. A girl dressed in all white stood beside one dressed in black. Cat ears uncovered for possibly the first time in public. Their sister team; Team JNPR was with them. All silent and at a loss for words. None looked at each other but felt a semblance of comfort at the closeness they all shared. And the love and respect they had for the girl in red.
The father was the first to speak. His voice cracked as he knelt, one palm resting on the grave of his daughter, the other on the grave of his wife. Her mother.
"I… My little girl had only ever had two dreams in life. The first… the first was to be just like her mother, cloak and all. The second. The sec-sec…" He forced out a harsh breath. "The second was to be a hero and help people. Judging by the number of people present, I know that she achieved that dream."
He knew he had more he wanted to say. The crowd knew too by the number of pages he held in his hands. Yet, as he tried for a second time, then a third to get words out, his voice was drowned out by the sounds of his own sobs. He stood and reached for his living daughter; his eldest. The fiery blonde who was once the life of any party. She hugged him back, but her eyes never left the name on the stone. It was her turn to speak.
"It rained last night and there are puddles everywhere. Ruby would have loved it."