It was a lazy Sunday at Beacon and Team RWBY was lounging around their room, probably for the first time in weeks. Most of the time, their professors loved to load up homework on Fridays that kept them busy for the entire weekend. And with the Vytal Festival getting ever closer, the workload was only getting bigger. Thankfully, Beacon's faculty wasn't heartless and allowed for the odd day free of classwork to do.
Unfortunately for Ruby, she had gotten kinda used to having things to do.
"I'm booored." Ruby groaned for the fifth time, her head resting listlessly on her desk. "Can we go do something?"
"Ruby, this is the first day off we've had for three weeks. Embrace it." Yang said, not opening her eyes. Ruby's older sister was taking a nap. Why, Ruby couldn't say, since Yang had already slept in till ten that day.
"We can't all be layabouts." Ruby's partner retorted. Weiss was sitting at her own desk writing something. Knowing the Schnee heiress, she was probably spending her one day off either working on some extra credit or preparing a study guide or something for an exam weeks away. She looked reproachfully at Yang. "It certainly wouldn't kill you to be a bit more proactive with your studies."
Yang sat up at that. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that someone who barely scrapped a D on her last exam really shouldn't be wasting a free afternoon."
"Oh really, Miss Perfect, well how bout you…"
Ruby was pretty sure Weiss and Yang actually enjoyed arguing because my goodness they did it a lot. She just wished they would get a room (heh) because she was sick of having to listen to them go at it. Blake looked over the top of her book at the bickering duo.
"Just hanging out in our room is getting to be dull. Why don't we head out into town?" Ruby sent silent thanks to her Faunus teammate and jumped on the opening.
"That sounds good to me. We haven't been back there since the whole 'train' thing."
It took some cajoling on her and Blake's part, but they got Yang out of bed, Weiss to put her pen down, and both of them out the door. They made the trip over in relatively good moods, though a discussion about where they could go for food nearly sparked another debate. But when they reached the city proper, the mood soured.
"I thought they'd have fixed everything by now." Ruby said quietly, looking at a shattered storefront. The signs of the Grimm incursion were still everywhere. The streets were still torn up with claw marks and more than one pile of rubble was awaiting disposal.
"It's going to take a while to get everything back to normal. It's not like there's a magic reset button to press and make everything the way it used to be." Weiss said with her usual indifference, but her eyes seemed glued to the damaged stores herself. None of them were going to say it, but Ruby would bet they were all thinking the same thing.
This was our fault. If they had found the White Fang faster, if they had stopped the train before it had breached the city's defenses, none of this would have happened.
Yang broke the tense silence. "Right! So, what did you guys want to do?"
"Uh, I'm not sure." Ruby said, thinking. There was that arcade she liked going to, but somehow the idea of Weiss in an arcade didn't seem to fit.
"If you didn't have anything you wanted to do, then why did you drag me away from my beauty sleep?" Yang complained. Ruby only half listened to the whining, trying to think. Something caught her eye in the corner of her vision. It was a spear, with a metal shaft and a deadly looking head. Not the kind of thing you saw very often in a major metropolitan area.
The spear's owner, a man dressed in black, was walking into an alleyway with another man, also dressed in black with a sword sheathed on his back. Sensing trouble, Ruby began to walk their way.
"Ruby?" Weiss asked from behind her. "What is it?"
"I'm not sure…" Ruby loosened Crescent Rose from her holder. With all the people in town for the Vytal festival, there were bound to be some foreign Huntsmen around and considering Grimm had been running amok in the city only two weeks ago, it wouldn't be at all surprising that they were keeping their weapons close. Even so, something didn't feel right.
Ruby stepped around the corner and with her practiced Huntress eye assessed the situation.
There were five people in the alley, four men surrounding a woman. The woman was an attractive blonde, and was wearing clothes that did very little to hide that fact. Her crop top was actually smaller than her purse (though to be fair it was a pretty big purse) and her skirt was really short. It was the kind of outfit that would turn heads, and Ruby suspected that the current situation was because it already had. Given she was now surrounded by what looked like a gang or something; she probably hadn't wanted this kind of attention.
Said gang was an unusual bunch. For one thing, they were all wearing matching black outfits, almost like a uniform. But it was the weapons that caught Ruby's eye. Each one of them was carrying an old fashioned bladed weapon, the simple and straightforward kind that were still so very deadly. They were Huntsmen weapons.
The four men were standing around the woman, two of them between Ruby and her with the other two on the other side of her. The two closer to Ruby and facing away from her were the ones she had seen earlier. The first man had cropped short crimson hair and had a sheathed sword slung over his back. It was about three to four feet long and its circular grip and crossguard made it most likely a ninjato. Next to him, the other man's spear rested lightly on his shoulder. Judging by the shape of the bladed head, it was some sort of glaive. The apparent ease with which he carried it made it clear he had plenty of practice using it.
Of the other two men, facing her, one was a Faunus with floppy, white dog ears and a pair of long daggers sheathed at his sides and the other tall, muscle-bound man with a scar over one eye and a pair of hilts rising over up over one of his shoulders. Oddly, the two hilts were connected by a metal cable. Perhaps the swords were meant to be used as a single weapon bound by the cable? Or maybe they were meant to be brought together into a double-ended sword and were split for easier carrying?
Ruby shook her head. Now was not the time to start drooling over weapons. The swordsman had folded his arms towards his group's prey. "You're not very smart, are you?"
"If she was, we wouldn't be here." The spearman next to him said lightly. "Still, this is a decent enough way to kill some time."
"Let's just get this over with." The swordsman said, sounding weary as he ran a hand through his hair.
Ruby had heard enough. "Hey!" Crescent Rose unfolded in a whir of moving parts, its familiar weight reassuring and its barrel pointed at them, ready to fire. The spearman and swordsman both half turned to look at her. The swordsman's face was impassive and the spearman raised an eyebrow at the scythe in her hands.
"Easy, Red, we've got this." He said, before a scream tore through the air.
"Hhheeeellllppp! They're going to rape me!"
"Wha-" Was all the spearman got out before a foot slammed between his legs. He crumpled to the ground with a whimper and the woman shot past him down the alleyway. She almost ran into Ruby she was running so fast, and once she was past the young scythe wielder she turned the corner and kept on running down the street. Ruby couldn't blame her for wanting to get as far away as possible.
"Good job hanging on to her there, Argos." The muscular member of the gang said drily, his arms folded and his face looking mildly amused.
The spearman staggered to his feet, groaning. "How bout I shove your balls back inside your torso and then we see how well you'd do, huh Dom?"
"Quiet." The swordsman's voice was even but had the unmistakable weight of authority. He turned to his companion. "Dom, get after her."
"But…" Dom began, only to wither under his apparent leader's gaze. He sighed. "Right. I'm on it."
Not a chance. Ruby thought. He had to go through her and her teammates to get out of the alley, and that wasn't gonna happen. She wasn't about to take her eyes off the enemy, but it sounded like her teammates had already drawn and readied their own weapons. The four of them could hold one guy off, even if he was built like a tank.
Unfortunately, Dom had another idea. He crouched low and with a single bound scaled the four story building that made up one of the alley's walls, deftly catching the edge of the roof as he flew past it and pulling himself onto it.
"H-hey!" Ruby shot up after him, propelled by a shot from Crescent Rose. But before she could reach him, the Faunus with the daggers appeared in her path with a blur of motion. He thrust out a hand and an invisible wall slammed into Ruby, throwing her back onto the pavement.
"What was that?" Weiss asked as she helped Ruby back to her feet.
"Wind manipulation." Blake said tersely, watching intently as the white-haired man dropped lightly down beside his buddies. With the very air around them now a potential weapon, they would have to be careful. Argos, propping himself up with his spear, glanced at the redhead.
"So, are these guys friends of hers, or just idiots? What do you think, San?"
"The latter, I imagine." San said, drawing his sword. His face still had that dull, almost bored expression. "Nothing permanent."
Ruby stared at the sword. To the inexperienced eye, it didn't look very impressive. The grip was worn, the blade had a handful of notches and dings running along its length, even the circular crossguard had a chip dug out of it. But Ruby knew, it was the beaten, worn weapons that were the dangerous ones. Swords didn't accumulate battle damage sitting on a shelf. It had to be used in combat to get those nicks and scratches. Further, she couldn't see a spot of rust along its length and the metal almost glimmered even in the shadows of the alley. This sword was well used and well cared for; the weapon of a professional warrior.
Ruby was beginning to have some second thoughts.
She didn't have time to think on it, though. San shot forward like from a cannon, his sword whistling as it arced through the air. Ruby raised Crescent Rose to meet it, catching the blade on the scythe's shaft. Incredibly, the sword just kept on going. Her block kept it from slashing her in two, but the sheer force of the blow threw her backwards. She slammed into one of her teammates and fell into a heap with them.
As she tried to untangle herself from Weiss' limbs, Ruby heard the clang of metal on metal. Blake and San were dueling, his single sword keeping up with both of Gambol Shroud's blades. Yang was fighting the Faunus, blasts of wind almost bowling her over. Ruby, back on her feet, dithered for a moment over which foe to attack first, but Blake getting thrown into a lamppost by a well-placed kick decided her. She rushed back over at San, Weiss falling in behind her.
Crescent Rose arced through the air, San nimbly dodging the heavy blade. His own weapon was busy parrying a stab from Weiss, and he somehow was able to fend off the flurry of attacks the two girls launched while making it look easy. Despite herself, Ruby was impressed. That battered sword of his moved almost like it had a mind of its own and he slipped through even the slightest opening they created. Unnervingly, that impassive mask he was wearing had cracked and Ruby could see the slightest hints of a grin playing at the edge of his mouth. She had the feeling he could turn the tables and put them on the defensive with relative ease.
Her suspicion was confirmed a second later when, while his sword was locked with Myrtenaster, San caught Crescent Rose by the shaft mid-swing with his free hand. He yanked her in and their heads slammed together. Dazed, Ruby felt herself being grabbed and thrown. She flew through the air until she hit the ground and rolled to a stop along the pavement. She had lost Crescent Rose in the tumble and as she propped herself up on an elbow, a silver line entered her vision.
Argos looked down at her from the other end of the spear, smirking as he did so. He was leaning against a lamppost, looking for all the world like he was just out for a casual stroll. Except for the spear, of course.
"So, having fun?" He asked lightly, humor in his voice. Ruby grit her teeth at his tone.
"Do me a solid, Red." He spoke over her. "If you stay down there, I can take it easy 'guarding' you and you don't have to have San hand you your ass again. Win-win."
Ruby looked over to the battle. Myrtenaster had somehow gotten wedged inside the ground, Weiss on her knees trying to cough some air back into her lungs beside it. Blake and Yang were both being battered by bursts of wind from the white haired Faunus as San darted toward them. She looked back to Argos. "Why are you doing this?!"
"The better question is, do you believe every random stranger you meet without question?" He replied glibly. His eyes moved past her down the street. He waved lazily with his empty hand. "Hey Dom, done already?"
Ruby followed his gaze. There, walking down the street, was Dom and the woman from earlier. Though to be honest, 'walking' was bit misleading. She had dug in her heels, but Dom was walking in front her, dragging her along by the wrist like a disobedient child. She was lashing at him with her free hand, but his body might have been made of stone for all it seemed to accomplish.
"Yeah." Dom said, taking in the scene of the battle with an odd expression. He glanced down at Ruby and reached into a pocket. "Here."
He flipped a wallet through the air to her. A black wallet with a corgi logo on one side. " How did you get my wallet?"
"Take a guess." Dom said, jerking a thumb towards his still struggling prisoner. Ruby remembered; she had brushed past her in her hurry to get away, or so Ruby had thought. Dom frowned at the look on her face, then rounded on his friend. "You didn't tell them."
"Not as such, no." Argos said, still looking amused.
"You didn't think that might be a bit important?" Dom said scornfully as he shoved the woman towards Argos. Argos didn't bother grabbing her, just whirled the blade of his spear away from Ruby's throat to rest lightly on the blonde's throat. Surprisingly, Dom then bent down, offered Ruby a hand, and pulled her to her feet.
"What might be important?" Ruby asked, now thoroughly confused.
"It's pretty simple, Red." Argos gestured at the quietly panicking woman at the end of his spear. "Little miss thief there thought she'd spend the day thieving. Unfortunately for her, she's not as good as she thinks, and the owner of a store she robbed caught her on camera. We were wandering nearby at the time and look like reliable sorts, so he asked us to find her."
Out of the corner of her eye, Ruby could see the fighting had stopped. Blake was holding onto Yang's arm and looking their way and Ruby was reminded her teammate had much better hearing than the rest of them, even with her true ears covered by a bow.
"Since we are good at what we do, we tracked her down easily. Which is about when you guys showed up and I think you know what happened from there."
"Do you expect us to believe that?" Weiss voice asked. Ruby turned to see her partner still holding Myrtenaster ready.
Argos shrugged. "No, but I expect him to believe him." He pointed.
An old man was hurrying down the street towards them. He looked at the signs of battle with obvious amazement. "You got her! I never thought she'd put up that much of a fight, even after you got some help."
Then Ruby placed him. He was the clerk from that Dust shop Roman Torchwick had robbed all those months ago. Apparently he thought her team had been helping catch the thief and the battle damage was all her doing.
"Sure, let's go with that." Yang muttered.
"Well, it looks like none of you were injured. That's good." The shopkeeper continued, oblivious. "Did you get the Dust back?"
"Here." Dom handed him a purse. The old man reached inside and pulled out a handful of sparkling gems and a wad of cash. His genial, slightly anxious expression twisted into rage. "I've had it with you damn punks trying to rob my store. When the cops get here, you're going straight to prison."
Sure enough, the sound of sirens was slowly getting louder. Dom and Argos exchanged looks, then turned to their leader.
"Uh, San? Orders?"
San just looked bored again. "Shadow, time to vanish." San turned and ran, jumping off a balcony on to a rooftop. His friends weren't far behind him. Argos shoved the thief at Ruby and took off, hopping up to join the others in a few bounds. He paused at the roof's edge.
"Cya round Red." He waved, and was gone.
Team RWBY stood there in stunned silence for a moment.
"Okay…" Yang turned in the direction of the sirens. "So I guess we should wait for the cops?" She said slowly and looked at the rest of them quizzically. Ruby shrugged and took a step closer to the thief and cocked Crescent Rose threateningly.
"Just try to make a break for it and we'll see if you're faster than bullets." The effect was somewhat spoiled by Yang snickering at the one liner. She ignored her sister and addressed the old man. "Who were those guys anyway?"
"You don't know them?" He seemed surprised at that. "They were carrying Huntsman weapons, so I thought they must have been students at Beacon."
"They each had a black disk on their lapels." Blake said. "That's the emblem of Umbra Academy. But why are they in Vale?"
"Who knows." The old man didn't seem to care. "They spend their time catching thieves, they're welcome to stay. Bout time we got some real protectors around here."
Ruby's face fell. She'd always tried to keep people safe herself, but…
You can't call yourself a protector if you keep failing to protect anything. First Torchwick at the docks, then the train. As far as actually protecting Vale went, she didn't really have a winning track record.
But, somehow she didn't think those guys had any intention of being guardians. They had jumped into a fight rather than give a simple explanation and there was something unsettling about San, at the very least. The way he had smiled as they fought…
"So Ruby," Her sister's voice intruded into Ruby's thoughts. "Was this exciting enough for you?"