Thunder rolled in the skies above as rain poured down in an unending tirade against the buildings of Beacon academy.
"But, why us?" Jaune asked, he with the rest of his team and team RWBY stood before Professor Goodwich in one of the now quiet classrooms.
"Because I think that you are the only two teams I can trust with this mission." The Professor explained.
"Wow... Gotta be a pretty dangerous mission to need all of us." Ruby noted.
Glynda gave a slight nod before continuing. "Most of the danger stems from lack of information. All we know is the string of disappearances is linked to this, 'fallen hunter's charm' that was posted on Coco's blog."
"So we're just going to dive head first into this with no other information?" Blake asked, uneasy.
"Adventure!" Nora cheered.
Again the Professor nodded, giving the Faunus girl a sympathetic look. "Unfortunately yes, there have been no more leads that we could find. Our primary objective is finding team CFVY and bringing them back to safety. We are armed so we should be better prepared than the others who have done this charm. We are also aware that we are walking into an unknown threat, so, be prepared for anything, stick together, with your partner at the very least at all times and do not lose your piece of the charm. Understood?"
The others present nodded.
"Good." Glynda sighed then went over to the desk and picked something up, returning to the group and presenting the charm. It was a piece of paper cut in the shape of a cloaked figure.
Ruby couldn't help but be reminded of her mother by the snowy white piece of paper that was meant to look like a cloak wearing huntsmen.
"Now, everyone, take a firm hold with one hand, dig your nails into it if you have to. Then repeat 'fallen huntsmen, we beg of you' nine times in your head. Once everyone is finished we pull the paper apart. Ready?"
The others nodded, the looks on their faces varying from fear to determination to excitement.
The room fell silent as the nine of them repeated the phrase nine times in their heads. The only sound was the pattering of rain on the window and the distant roll of thunder.
Lightning flashed and brightened the room as Glynda looked back up at the students she'd chosen for this mission. "Everyone say it nine times?"
The others nodded.
They did so and the paper tore into nine pieces.
"Quickly, put your paper scraps somewhere safe." Glynda ordered as she did so with her own.
The others followed suit but Jaune gave her a confused look. "Nothing's happening."
No sooner had he said that the entire room started shaking violently, lights flickering. The floor under them seemed to shatter of its own accord with particles of pure darkness floating up as they started to fall.
The sound of nine weapons clattering to the floor echoed through the now empty classroom before leaving it in silence.
Weiss groaned and pulled herself up to a sitting position, her head pounding but that faded as her vision cleared. Looking around she found she appeared to be in Professor Port's classroom, yet, not. It looked aged with cracks in the plaster and the furniture dry rotting. Everything also seemed much darker than normal and just generally wrong. It was so dark she almost didn't spot Blake across the room when she stood up.
Her bow wearing teammate lay amid a mess of splinters and boards that was the remains of the desk she'd landed on. She was motionless and Weiss quickly feared the worst before hurrying over. Kneeling beside Blake she was relieved to find the Faunus was still breathing.
"Blake, Blake! Wake up." Weiss demanded, shaking her teammate lightly.
"Ungl..." Blake groaned as she came around.
"I think so- ahg!" Blake grunted in pain after trying to move, she looked down at her right leg and Weiss followed suit.
Blake's leg was impaled on a chunk of jagged wood from the desk. With a defiant growl she pulled her leg up and free before wiggling into a sitting position and pulling splinters from the bleeding wound. "Where are we?"
"I don't know... It looks like some weird, twisted version of Beacon." She admitted, realizing the Blake's Aura wasn't healing the wound she started looking around for something they could use to stop the bleeding.
"Damn, anyone else nearby?" Blake asked, pulling the bow off of her ears and untying it. It wouldn't be big enough to properly cover the wound though.
"You were the first person I saw." Admitted the Heiress before she shrugged off her jacket, then biting down on the sleeve near the shoulder seam. With a firm grip on the rest of the jacket in her hands she ripped the sleeve off.
"We need to stop the bleeding." She stated sharply, leaving no room for argument as she folded the sleeve so that it would pad the wound effectively then took the ribbon from Blake, who grunted as pressure was applied. With the makeshift bandage securely in place Weiss stood and put the remainder of her jacket back on.
"Thanks... Why didn't you just use Myrtenaster to cut the seams?"
Weiss held her hands out to her sides. "You see it around here somewhere? Because I don't."
Blake's eyes widened and she searched around her for her own weapon then looked back up at her pale companion. "Gambol Shroud isn't here either..."
"Guess they didn't make the trip. Can you stand?"
"Yeah, I think so." She said and with Weiss' help managed to get back to her feet.
"Let's see if we can find the others."
With that both girls headed for the door, as they neared though they saw someone laying in the floor on the other side of the doorway. The person was facing away from them and all they could see was an arm with a head resting against it but there was no mistaking the disheveled blond bun. As they hurried forward Glynda slid the rest of the way out of sight, as if being dragged.
Seeing this Weiss ran to the doorway as Blake limped to catch up. Looking down the dark hall Weiss couldn't see any sign of the professor other than her glasses which had apparently fallen off.
"Is she okay?" Blake asked as she reached the doorway.
"She's gone." Weiss replied quietly, kneeling to pick the glasses up.
"You okay sis?" Yang cradled her sister as her voice reached Ruby's ears as she fought her way back to consciousness.
As Ruby's silver eyes regained their ability to see clearly her blond sister was the first thing she saw, followed by the ceiling of what looked like a dilapidated version of the ceiling of a Beacon classroom. Confused she looked around, taking in what appeared to be Professor Oobleck's classroom which looked like it had been abandoned a good fifty years. "Uh, yeah... where are we?"
"My guess would be where everyone else ended up after doing that charm thingy." The elder sister shrugged, one hand raised palm up while the other arm still supported Ruby's back.
The younger sister's silver eyes locked onto Yang's bare wrist. "Where's Ember Celica?"
"Don't know, I can't find Crescent Rose either."
"Oh no..." Ruby was instantly more tense, being separated from her precious weapon in a possible combat zone. She instinctively reached up to check and make sure her cloak was still in place and she was glad to find that she still had it.
"Come on, we aren't gonna find anything by sitting around here doing nothing. Let's see if we can find any of the others or those we came looking for." Yang said, standing and pulling her sister to her feet with her.
After a quick check around the room to see if there was anything useful the two headed out of the room and down the hall without really picking a direction. They had to be mindful of holes in the floor and debris hanging from the ceiling as they went but other than the strict wrongness of the place it seemed quiet.
"Do you think this place is only as big as the real school or that it reaches the city? Or even all of remnant? Like, what if this is the other side of a mirror..." Ruby pondered, glancing around to see if things looked more like they were a mirror image but they seemed exactly the same as the normal school.
"Let's just hope it's only Beacon because otherwise we are going to be here forever." The blond sounded less than thrilled at the idea.
Ruby was about to add to the fact they didn't actually know how to get out of this place but was distracted by something moving in the hall ahead of them. At first it looked like the shimmery water illusion that raised off of pavement in the summer but then as they steadily got closer it seemed more like it was a person. They had green hair.
"Hey, isn't that one of the transfer students from Haven Academy?"
"Uh, yeah... I think her name is Emerald."
"I didn't know they disappeared too." Yang admitted.
"Me either... hey, Emerald!" Ruby called, continuing towards the other girl. "Man, is it good to see another person around here did... you..."
Her sentence trailed off and her footsteps faltered as Emerald turned around, slow and somewhat unnatural in her movements, red eyes seeming to glow. Lightning flashed outside, lighting up the hall and both sisters realized they could see right through the other girl. It was then Ruby also noticed a line of blood running from the corner of the girl's lips and down the side of her chin. Ruby took a step back then felt as if she could no longer move at all, as if she were suddenly frozen in place.
"Hhhhgggg." The other girl groaned, reaching towards Ruby and slowly opening her mouth, causing more blood to spill over her lips.
"Ruby..." Yang said worriedly, inching closer to her sister but not looking away from the thing down the hall.
"Giiihhhh..." A crazed look filled the red eyes and she rushed the sisters.
Ruby's heart raced, she couldn't think, couldn't move, her body just refused to listen. Lucky for her Yang wasn't affected the same way, grabbing her wrist and practically dragging her down the hall to run away. Emerald followed, feet not even touching the ground as she chased them with inhuman speed, which wasn't fair considering Ruby couldn't seem to access her semblance. Yang was fast on her feet though, dashing down the hall while dragging her sister, making a sharp turn and running right through the front doors of the building, which luckily gave when she tackled them.
The girls ran a good distance from the door before realizing their pursuer didn't follow them outside so the two stood in the rain, trying to catch their breath.
"What was that?" Ruby panted.
Before Yang could even try to answer a sharp scream cut through the air. A scream filled with panic and horror. "STOP! NOOOOOOO!"
The sisters locked eyes. "That sounded like Weiss."
Without another word the two charged off in the direction of the scream, running as fast as they could towards the cafeteria. The sound of their feet pounding on the sidewalk, splashing through puddles and careful to avoid holes in the ground as they went, the rain pounding on them and the ground around them the only sound other than their feet and labored breathing.
The two hit the doors at the same time, charging in but nearly stumbling back out do to the smell of rotting. Rotting food and something else, something nastier. It was dark as the team leader scanned the room, hoping her pale partner would stand out even in the shadows.
"Weiss?" She gagged from the smell.
Lightning flashed outside and lit up the room briefly, giving the sister a glimpse at the room, tables disheveled and food rotted to mush and crawling with maggots. That wasn't all though, the shadows of long dead bodies were also visible among the tangle of dishes, tables and benches.
"Weiss...?" Ruby called again, this time it was muffled with her cloak as she'd thought to cover her mouth and nose.
"She probably saw the state of this place, screamed and ran." Yang suggested and that did seem likely.
The overhead lights flickered as the two turned for the door and a big patch of red caught Ruby's eyes. The lights flickered again, staying on and the silver eyes locked onto what had caught her attention before, widening in horror. The big patch of red on the other end of the long room was blood and bits of flesh, the rest of the body in a tangled, unrecognizable mess on the floor just under it.
That turned out to be more than she could handle, her stomach turned and she dropped to her knees just before the contents of said stomach could come back to haunt her.
"Ruby..." Yang's tone was soft but also unnerved, tearing her eyes away from the gruesome scene to kneel beside her sister and held back her hair. Once it seemed no more would be coming up she pulled her little sister back out of the cafeteria and into the rain.
"I'm sure that wasn't her... It looked recent but maybe she saw it happen. Either way we need to keep looking for her." Yang insisted.
"Weiss... Please be okay..." Ruby sounded like she was on the edge of tears.
"Yeah... Blake better be too."
"Nora?" Ren sat up quickly, speaking and moving before he could even see clearly.
When his vision did clear he found he was alone, which both disappointed and worried him at the same time. Getting to his feet he glanced around to get his bearings, the room he was in looked like his teams dorm room but as if it had been abandoned and left to rot a few score years. Blankets were rotted and looked like they'd crumble at his touch and everything else in the room looked to be in equally bad disrepair.
With a sigh he got out his scroll to see if he had any kind of signal but he didn't, which wasn't a surprise but meant he wouldn't be able to call his teammates and see where they were. That being pointless he put the device away and checked to make sure he had everything else but he scowled when he realized StormFlower was missing. Cursing his luck so far he glanced around the room once more, but not seeing anything useful he headed for the door. The hall was darker than the room had been but he didn't entirely care, there was only one thing on his mind.
"Nora?!" He called as he carefully navigated down the hall. "Nora!"
"She can't answer you..." A woman's voice quietly said from behind him.
He spun to face the unfamiliar voice with a glare. The woman wore a long white cloak a lot like Ruby's and had her hood up and over her face so really he couldn't see much more than cloak and her boots on the floor. Scratch that, just above the floor. She glowed faintly, almost illuminating the walls and floor nearest her.
"Why not?" He asked with a growl.
"Because it's simply impossible." She said, an eerily amused edge to her tone. She then chuckled darkly and faded from sight, leaving Ren alone in the hallway once more.
Mentally aiming a few rude comments at the strange, ghostly woman he turned back around and continued down the hall, calling out for Nora over and over. When he came to a dorm room door he'd try it but found most of them wouldn't budge, as if they were part of the wall and not even real. Frustrated but trying to remain calm he headed down to the first floor, it was here he noticed something lying on the floor in the darkness, it was about the size and shape of a human but it was hard to tell.
"Nora?" He headed over to it but quickly realized it wasn't his partner, though he was also glad since this was a dead body. He frowned, whoever they'd been they had come from Beacon academy as that was the uniform they were wearing.
Now more concerned than before he headed to the nearest door to check it like the ones upstairs, this one however, came open when he tried it. Pushing the door open he regretted it an instant later when the overpowering scent of death hit him, he quickly covered his nose and mouth as he glanced around. The room was littered with bodies in varying stages of decay, thankful he didn't see his bubbly companion among them he closed the door and hurried on. The next handful of doors he tried refused to open so that left only the door to the building itself which did open.
It was raining but the sky was pitch black, anything past the school grounds was also black, as if there was just nothing there. Despite that disturbing fact he found himself glad for the fresh air after what he'd just experienced. He wasn't sure what exactly this place was or what was going on but people who'd come here before them hadn't left alive and that was very, very troubling.
Standing around contemplating it wasn't going to do him any good though so he headed for the main building, figuring most of his friends would do the same or maybe even already be there. He passed more bodies on his way to the main entrance but there were fewer the closer he got and he hoped that was a good sign, if anything could be a good sign in this place.
The doors opened with ease which was a slight ease on his mind and he headed inside. "Nora!"
Still no answer. He sighed and continued on, passing yet another body as he neared another hallway and decided to go left first, calling for his partner again. "Nora!"
He froze, it had been so quiet he wasn't sure his ears weren't playing tricks on him but it came again.
"Ren?" It was Jaune.
"Nora?" That was Pyrrha's voice.
"Jaune! Pyrrha!" He called back and followed their voices.
"Ren, where are you?" He heard Jaune call from further down the hall.
"Here, you guys alright?" He called back, hurrying a bit.
"Yeah, Nora with you?" The team's leader called. At this point they sounded very close, Ren felt like he should see them by now, even if it was dark.
"No, I woke alone in the dorm." He called back, slightly unnerved.
"Ren?" There was uncertainty in the blond's voice, which now came from behind Ren, as if the two had just passed each other.
The hairs on the back of Ren's neck stood on end as he slowly turned back around and as he did he caught a reflection in the window. Pyrrha and Jaune were facing the direction Ren had come from, looking around in confusion, but they weren't actually in the hall with him.
"What the hell..."
"Where is he?" Jaune asked in confusion as he glanced around. "I know I heard his voice right around here..."
"Yeah, me too." Pyrrha agreed, unnerved.
"He's here but not in the same space." Said a familiar female voice.
"Coco?!" Both teammates said at once, glancing up in the direction they'd heard the voice and indeed, the stylish team leader was there, leaning against the wall between the windows.
"The one and only."
"Oh thank goodness, we've been looking for you." Pyrrha smiled.
"What did you mean before though, where's Ren?" Jaune asked, still keeping an eye out for his missing friend.
"This false Beacon is made of a series of closed spaces all layered up on one another, though some of them are farther ahead or behind in time. Some places in the spaces are thin so things can echo through but as long as you are alive you can't actually pass from one closed space to another one. You are in one and Lie Ren is in another. At least the two of you were lucky enough to end up in the same one, you are the only two here though."
"What are you talking about? You're here." Jaune asked.
Coco reached up, pulling her sunglasses down her nose a bit to look over them at the two and in turn let them see her eyes which had a lifeless, glassy look to them. "I'm not alive anymore."
Both took a step back from her without really meaning to.
"No... No we came to find you as soon as we found out!" Pyrrha protested.
"Time doesn't flow quite the same way I guess. I wondered why no one came for us before."
"There has to be a way out of here, a way between spaces." Jaune said hopefully.
"Well, I have a couple of theories." Coco offered.
"Let's hear them." The blonde encouraged.
AN: Well, I've returned from battling adult life problems as best I can, I know they will rise again to fight another day but for the moment I have a chance to ACTUALLY POST SOMETHING. Seriously, never grow up if you haven't already, it's a trap and if you have grown up well... I feel for you.
As always reviews and pms are welcome! I'd love to hear thoughts and theories and the like, even just letting me know you enjoy something is encouraging, life's been hell lately.
To those of you also reading bumblekits, there will be more of that soon!