The day dawned bright and vibrant in the city of Vale, rousing the many inhabitants to begin their daily routine. Ozpin was one such person, going through the same morning like any other.
But to him, something felt off about the day. An unexplainable dread filled him. Was he simply worried for the first years that were now on their missions? Did he dread whatever Salem and her forces were planning? Or was he simply done with having to deal with James' attempts to protect the people?
He stepped into his office and took a sip from his mug, filling his mouth with the taste of hot chocolate. The windows gave him a beautiful view of Vale in the morning. It always paid to remind himself of what he was fighting to protect, and this view did a good job of it.
But now it was time to get to work if only he could shake off that feeling…
Jaune picked at his food in the cafeteria, unable to shake the unease he felt after the call he got from Ruby during the night. Even though he had only gotten static he still felt it was important.
"Are you sure that's all you're going to eat, Jaune?" Pyrrha asked, always caring about how he was doing. She was almost like the team's mother with that attitude, not that he would ever tell her that.
"Sorry, just worried about that call from Ruby…" He picked at his food some more.
"It was probably just a butt dial! Happens all the time!" Nora said between pancakes.
"She's right Jaune. Nora accidentally calls me all the time. I'm sure they're fine, they're with a Professor after all." Ren's words made sense but didn't do anything for the feeling that something was wrong.
"Yeah. You guys are probably right. Maybe I'll feel better once we get underway."
"That's the spirit Jaune!" Nora said before throwing a stack of pancakes into her mouth.
Pyrrha placed a hand on his shoulder and he smiled at her. "Its team RWBY, of course, they will be fine."
Before long it was time for their own mission. Jaune hoped that his team were right…
"It's almost time."
Emerald hummed in agreement. She and Mercury were sitting waiting in their room. It was only a couple more days, then Torchwick and the White Fang would burst into Vale and unleash a horde of Grimm. In the confusion, Cinder would claim what was rightfully hers and then they could get out of here.
The "niceness" of everyone here made her sick.
"I'm gonna miss this place. It's going to be so hard with only you around for entertainment…" Mercury said with a tone of fake sadness. He didn't care about any of this. He was just along for the ride.
"Who cares about this place? It's just a school full of brats."
"Cinder isn't here for you to impress, Emerald." Mercury sighed and stepped to the window and stretched. "Is it just me, or does this whole plan seem like it's not gonna work?"
"What do you mean? Are you doubting Cinder?" Emerald smiled, she could use this to prove why Mercury shouldn't stick around after the mission.
"I don't know. Just feels like something is gonna go wrong. Maybe I just want to go to the backup plan. I mean fighting in the tournament sounds like so much fun!"
"We aren't here for fun, Mercury." She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Sure, I know that. Doesn't mean I can't take pleasure in our work. It'd be boring otherwise. And if this was boring then I don't know why I stuck around, you know?"
"Hmm" Emerald hummed again. Mercury was so different from her. She was loyal to Cinder because she brought her off of the streets. Mercury however just didn't want to die after killing his own father. The only reason he stuck around was because he knew that Cinder would kill him so that he couldn't tell others of the plan.
It worked she supposed. He would remain loyal so long as Cinder stayed strong, and there wasn't any doubt in her mind that Cinder would always be strong.
Now if only he would shut up about his feelings and just wait patiently like her.
Velvet sighed as she waited outside the changing rooms. She had been all for a day to de-stress after their mission. It had ended in what they all accepted was a failure. Though they would never agree on whose fault it was. They all thought that it was their own fault, that the rest of the team did the best they could.
Of course, Velvet didn't think that clothes shopping would get rid of her stress or make her feel better. But it would for Coco, so she had come along. As had Yatsu and Fox. Maybe tomorrow they would go somewhere else, give someone else a chance to do what they enjoyed. That seemed like a good idea to her.
An hour of clothes shopping later and they were all walking away, through the crowds of people out on their business. Despite the time turning to late afternoon, Coco guided them through more shops. Clothes and accessories and all manner of other things were popped into her bags during their trip. Coco already looked happier and more at peace with herself.
And then they heard the scream. They were closer to one of Vale's main gates now, so the chances of a Grimm attack were higher. It would have still had to go through those on watch, however. A quick glance showed the team were all on the same page before they began to push through the crowd.
Fox and Coco went on ahead, while she and Yatsu took a slower approach, not wanting to rush into combat and get hit. Although there wasn't the sound of combat, only gasps and sounds of distress and shock. Velvet soon saw why.
Fox was pushing the crowd back to form some space while Coco leant down and pulled up the thing that had caused such a stir. A young teenage girl, covered in blood, clutching the broken remnants of what was once a weapon. It took only a moment for Velvet to recognize her.
Ruby Rose was in bad shape, covered in wounds and unconscious. Coco looked up at her, eyes wide. "Vel, get a first aid kit! Yatsu, call an ambulance! Fox, keep the people back!"
Velvet was already moving. The gatehouse would have the equipment to help. By the time she pushed through the crowd and arrived the guards were already moving. One of them was rushing out with a kit and handed it to her the moment she got there, probably recognizing her as a Huntress.
Velvet and Coco got to work the moment she brought the kit back. Several guards arrived to get the crowd moving. Ruby was in a bad way and the pair worked to bandage what they could and stall the bleeding. Cuts all across her body and even what looked like an attempt to open up her stomach.
What has she been through? First-year missions aren't supposed to be this tough!
A bullhead began to touchdown nearby. Paramedics were out within moments, rushing over and pulling the girl onto a stretcher.
"Yatsu, call Beacon. I'll go with the medics." Coco said.
"What will people say when the Coco Adel is seen covered in blood? What a scandal!" The voice of Fox said within their minds, his Semblance connecting them.
"They'll say 'wow, what a great new fashion! I can't wait to get my own!'" Coco said with a wobbly smile. "See you guys soon!" She called as she rushed to the bullhead.
Velvet looked down at her hands and the blood that was there. It was still warm. Her hands shook. Yatsu placed a hand on her shoulder.
"The Headmaster is on his way to the hospital now. Professor Port is going to pick us up. I said we would help search for the rest of team RWBY. Professor Goodwitch is grabbing some more Huntsmen to do the same."
"You did that quick Yatsu…"
"No. You just spaced out. Come on, there's a fountain over here. Let's get you cleaned." Yatsu guided her over.
Velvet couldn't help but wonder if she had jinxed their mission when she told Ruby they would be fine. They had just come from their own failed mission and now theirs is the same.
She would do her best to find the other members of Ruby's team. It was the least she could do for her friend.
The hospital was abuzz with people, but that wasn't anything new. People were always getting hurt or otherwise needing treatment. But they all got out of the way of Beacon Academy's Headmaster. It had been a long time since he had needed to rush to Vales general hospital.
This warranted it, however. His feelings had been correct. A mission had gone horribly wrong and now three young girls were missing and one was badly wounded.
The busy halls fell into quieter ones and before he knew it he stood outside of the ER. Coco Adel sat nearby, impatient for news. The doctors were still at work.
"It's alright. You acted quickly and may have saved Miss Rose's life. I can take it from here, however. I recommend returning to Beacon and perhaps getting a change of clothes."
"Sir, I would like to join the search for the rest of her team." Coco stared into his eyes. He saw the guilt that still laid within. Lower Cairn, and the people that had died there still haunted her. She blamed herself for being unable to save anyone. He sighed.
"Professor Peach is waiting in Beacon. Your team is already searching with Professor Port. Return to Beacon and ask her to take you."
She stood instantly. "Thank you, sir!" And she was gone, rushing to save everyone she possibly could.
Ozpin sat down in one of the seats, prepared to wait for as long as it took. But he had other things he needed to do as well. He drew out his scroll and opened his contacts. His hand hovered over Taiyang Xiao-Long before it moved lower to Qrow's contact.
The scroll rang for a few moments before the gruff voice of his most trusted agent came through. "Oz… not the best timing you know?"
"Qrow. You need to come back now…"
"You sure? Pretty close to finding the people that attacked Amber."
"Your nieces' team ran into trouble. Ruby is in the hospital and we have yet to find any of the others, including Yang."
There was silence for a good minute before Qrow finally croaked out a single word. "Shit."
"I have Glynda and others searching now but either way you are going to want to be here."
"Have you told Tai yet?" Ozpin's silence was telling. "I see. I'll be there. The least I can do is try to stop him from trying to kill you."
Ozpin sighed. "Thank you Qrow, but Tai has every right to be angry. I shouldn't have sent them on that mission…"
"Sounds like it." Qrow was angry. It was the kind of anger he had only heard twice before. When Raven had left and when Summer had never returned. "It'll be there soon."
And then the call was over. Ozpin looked down at his scroll.
He was glad Tai was on a mission. He sent him a message asking him to call the moment he could. It was the best Ozpin could do at the moment.
Hopefully, he would be able to tell Tai that at least one of his daughters was alive.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
The repetitive sounds of the machines were what welcomed her back to consciousness. That and the pain. Her whole body felt like it was on fire. She couldn't feel her left arm and her stomach felt like it wouldn't stop moving.
It took a monumental amount of effort to open her eyes and take in the scene. A hospital. She was alone. Or… no, she wasn't. There were people in the room but far away, talking in hushed whispers.
Her throat was dry and scratchy. Her head felt like it was floating in the middle of an ocean being pushed around by the waves. She spent what felt like an hour waiting, building up enough strength to pull herself into more of a sitting position.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity she heard footsteps coming closer. She couldn't see who they were due to the curtain wall around her, but soon enough Professor Ozpin stepped around the curtains and took a seat beside her bed.
"Miss Rose, it's good to see you awake." His face was one of sadness and melancholy as well as a tinge of hopefulness. "We have all been very worried about you." A small smile came over his lips.
"How are you feeling? Do you think you could answer a couple of my questions?"
Could I? My head doesn't feel right and my throat hurts…
She shrugged, though it ended up as barely a movement. Ozpin seemed to have gotten the idea, however.
"Alright then. I won't ask for specific details yet but we need to know. What happened to the rest of your team?"
Ruby closed her eyes. She could remember it all. Everything that took place. But how to say it?
"W-w-Weiss… fall… tunnel…" She croaked out, her voice sounded so small and damaged. Between each word was a deep breath. "Rocks…fell... trapped…"
"She's trapped under rocks inside of the train tunnel?" She nodded. "And the others?"
"Sis… trees… Grimm… stayed…" She coughed and Ozpin held a glass of water to her mouth which she drank greedily.
"Yang stayed behind? To battle the Grimm?" He winced at her nod but covered it quickly.
"Is that why she stayed behind? Because you were hurt?" She nodded again. "Alright. And what about Miss Belladonna?"
"Bird… feather… in… clearing…" She strained for a moment and had to breathe. It was so hard to speak. "She… pushed… blocked…"
"A bird and feathers? A Nevermore?" She nodded once more and he stood. "Thank you, Miss Rose, we have a chance to save them now. Get some sleep. Your father and uncle will be here soon."
And then he was gone, rushing out of her little area with his scroll in hand. He moved so fast it was almost dizzying, though that may have been more her head than his own speed.
She didn't know how long it took her to finally fall asleep, but it felt like hours. What were the chances her team could be saved?
She didn't think it was very high.
"So. Bring me up to speed. Now." Taiyang was not happy. Not happy at all.
"Your daughter was unconscious for several hours in the hospital before she first woke. I was able to glean some information from her about her team. That brings us to now." Ozpin sat down. The pair were outside of the room Ruby lay in, currently being watched over by an angry Qcrow.
"It's been two days, hasn't it? The news has caught wind of something having happened. Ruby wasn't subtle when she arrived back in Vale."
"Yes. I doubt the council will want to keep this quiet. Even with the losses, it was a successful mission. They stopped the train."
"I don't care about that. What the hell am I going to be telling my daughter?"
Ozpin sighed. He felt more tired than he had in years. "We were able to find both Miss Schnee and Miss Belladonna. Neither survived. Miss Schnee was sadly crushed by falling rocks, we aren't sure exactly what happened yet, however. Miss Belladonna was… well, she attempted to defend a wounded Ruby from a Nevermore attack. She was never someone who had the strength to block one of their feathers." Ozpin took a breath. It was never easy.
Taiyang shook silently. He had never met either girl but still felt the loss. "And Yang?"
"We never found her. Signs of battle yes, but not her. We didn't find any remains, so it's doubtful the Grimm killed her there. They aren't exactly known for cleaning their plates so to speak. However, we didn't find anything to track her by. As far as we can tell she vanished."
"Do you think Raven saved her? Qrow mentioned she would help Yang once. Do you think this was it?" Taiyang looked hopeful.
"It is a possibility. For now, there isn't anything we can do. We don't know Raven's location and if she did save Yang she hasn't brought her back. Once the Festival is over with I will have Qrow find the Branwen tribe. But for now, I am worried about what our enemies have planned."
"I understand. I'll think of something." Taiyang turned and left, entering the room to sit by his unconscious daughter.
Ozpin left to return to Beacon. He would stop Salem's plans.
It was the least he could do for those that had died.
A/N: Poor Ruby. Had this one in the brain for a while. It's... well it's not exactly a happy fun-time story. Weiss and Blake are dead, Yang is missing and Ruby is recovering. This is gonna be a rough one.