Hunting Monsters

Chapter 2

"You know, I could get used to this." Morgan hefted the case full of Dust in one of her hands. "It's kind of fun."

"Glad you're enjoying yourself." Lance was watching the shop's owner fill another case, one of his soldiers keeping the man at spearpoint. Of the other five soldiers with them, three were carrying their own Dust supply, with the other two keeping watch.

"It's just so little effort for so much reward." Morgan absently stepped down on the mangled remains of an anti-theft shutter. The thick metal bars across the door and windows would probably have deterred most would-be burglars without a blowtorch and a few hours to go to town on them. Morgan had simply ripped them clean off the walls. The old man had been rather cooperative after seeing that.

"Do try to stay focused. We're supposed to be robbing the place, not having a chat." Lance grabbed the now full container and tossed it to one of his clones. The hooded spearman caught it out of the air. He stepped back to join his identical companions, each one dressed in Umbra combat gear with a spear at their side. Even after years of fighting alongside Lance, having four of five duplicates of him running around was still unnerving. Lance usually had his copies wear hoods and masks. It kept enemies from learning his abilities, he said, but Morgan always thought he did it for his teammates' sake. Gwen certainly had been vocal about how she found the repeated 'deaths' of their teammate to be creepy.

Morgan squashed the memory. "Are we done here?"

"I think that's about it." Lance turned back to the old man. "You're cooperation is appreciated."

The watcher at the door stirred, the words muffled by his mask. "Trouble."

Outside, a lone man was waiting for them. "Trouble indeed." Morgan dropped her case of Dust and strode out to meet him. Behind her, Lance and the clones similarly dropped their burdens and formed a loose crescent around her, Lance himself to her left. She spoke first.

"Argos."

"Morgan." He rested his spear on his shoulder, looking as though they had merely met during a walk. His gaze shifted to the right end of the line. "And Lance, good to see you."

Damn. Of course this asshole would see through the decoy. Lance threw back his hood and pulled down his mask. "I had not thought to see you here, Argos. At least, not alone."

"About that." A body slammed into the pavement next to them. The clone was already fading into smoke as she looked to see William on the rooftop he had been observing from.

So much for having some insurance. She had been opposed to the idea of splitting their forces from the beginning but Lance had insisted. She glanced toward the alley where the second one had been hiding and there he was.

She felt her mouth go dry. A monster with hair the color of blood and a predatory look in his eyes. "Sanguin."

"It's been a while, Sanguin." Lance blurred for a moment, suddenly having two new clones on either side of him. Morgan slammed her gauntlets together, ruffling her hair with the shockwave they produced. She pointed a heavy, metal finger at Argos and Sanguin. "Are we gonna do this, or stand around jawing all day."

"Before we begin, perhaps you wouldn't mind telling us where Mordred is?" Argos asked.

"What do you think?" Morgan was a touch offended by the question. He should know better than to think any of them would turn on a squadmate like that. If the question had been turned to him, she doubted even he would have laughed it off.

"Make this easy on yourselves." William had joined his friends. Unusual for the silent Faunus to speak up.

"Easy how? We all know Woden doesn't tolerate dissent. You're going to kill us no matter what we do." William was too well trained to avert his eyes, but he did look pained at her words. It just occurred to her, Shadow was one short too. Where's Dominic? If he was holding back to watch for Mordred then they'd probably be okay. But if he planning on launching a sneak attack on them here…

"Enough." Sanguin drew his sword. The monster was drooling now, ready to eat. "Let's end this."

"As you wish." With that, Morgan punched the ground, sending a wave of shattered concrete racing forward. Shadow scattered to avoid it and were met by charging clones. Morgan clenched her fist and charged into the fray.


Dom had lost track of the number of times he had restlessly paced the length of the room and back. The waiting was driving him mad. They had finally found the enemy, yet he was being held back to continue running surveillance while the others went out to hunt. He'd crossed the world for this mission and now San had stuck him on the sidelines for the duration. It made him want to hate the man.

He would have, if it wasn't all so very logical. Sure, Lance and Morgan were raising hell downtown and it was likely the third member of Phantom was close by. However, likely was far too uncertain for dealing with a man like Mordred. He could be off doing god knows what and someone needed to hang back and run surveillance to catch him at it. Since Dom would have had to teach any of the others how to keep track of the different cameras and alarms that made up Vale's civil defenses, and was the least skilled of the four in battle, he was the obvious choice. That didn't make him like it any more, though.

The only problem was that the radios he had built for the squad had a limited range. Morgan and Lance had been sitting right on the edge of that range. To make matters worse, the flow of the battle had pulled them all the rest of the way out. The only way for him to reach them now would be to message their scrolls and he doubted they would be taking the time to check them in the middle of battle. Which meant that if he did find something he would have to handle it alone, and the prospect of facing the final member of Phantom squad was not a pleasant one. It chafed, but he knew the wisest course of action in that case would be to stay put with his eyes on the cameras, and keep track of Mordred via the security systems. Later, when San and the others were back, they could go after Mordred as a group.

A blinking light caught his attention. Odd. It was his scroll that had lit up, not his computer. The computer was where he was running most of the security sweeps, the only thing on his scroll was Beacon's internal security. For that to have gone off… He quickly accessed the scroll. His eyes flew across the words, and focused on the camera feed. He stood stock still for a moment, weighing his options and priorities. The mission dictated he remain where he was and keep tabs on the enemy, so he could alert the others and they could attack in force, guaranteeing victory.

Damnit. He slung Twin-Edge over his back, slid knives into the various sheaths around his body, and was out the door before he could talk himself out of it.


Three members of Team RWBY were wandering the grounds of Beacon, looking for their most vocal member. They would have been having an easier time of it, if it weren't for the fact that they were technically breaking curfew and needed to sneak around as a result. While most of the faculty were willing to overlook the occasional late night snack run, anyone foolish enough to be openly traipsing around the grounds past curfew was going to catch hell for it.

"Seriously, where is she?" Yang was asking; as they left the third training field they had checked.

"I 'unno." Her sister said around a mouthful of cookies. She had been in the middle of a bag of them when Yang had mentioned how late Weiss was out and had decided against leaving them behind. It was rather common for the Schnee heiress to be out late. Weiss loved to push herself on the practice field and the defeat she had suffered earlier that week had lit a fire under her. Still, even at her most fervent she would never tempt staying out after curfew had started. If nothing else, all the times she had chided Ruby or Yang for doing so meant that she would never live it down.

And so, baited with the prospect of finally knocking Weiss down a peg or two, Yang and Ruby set off to find her. Blake was merely accompanying them to make sure they stayed out of trouble, or so she told herself.

"Well then where is she? The library's closed and she's not in the practice courts, so where could she possibly be?"

"We haven't checked the practice courts on the east side yet, maybe she's in one of them." Blake suggested. The eastern courts were secluded from the rest of Beacon's grounds somewhat. They were where people went to practice in semi-privacy. If Weiss were working on a new attack or technique, something she could expect to fail at a few times (or more) she might have gone out that far. Perhaps not surprising for someone driven to improve as much as possible, the Schnee heiress didn't like other people seeing her when she when she made mistakes.

"Honestly Ruby," Yang was saying. "You need to get Weiss to stop being such a workaholic."

Ruby was giving a muffled reply when a noise, faint to a human but all too loud to her Faunus ears, caught Blake's attention. She turned towards it and looked down another one of the tree shrouded pathways that crisscrossed Beacon's grounds. Time seemed to slow as she saw him. He was wearing a long, black coat with a hood that covered his face. And thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes was a girl with long white hair.

"Weiss!" Blake cried, her teammates turning in response. The man didn't hesitate, but quickly turned and ran down the path. Blake raced after him, her legs working as hard as she could make them. Ruby and Yang were close behind, the whirring of metal telling Blake that Crescent Rose and Ember Celica were being readied for battle. She quickly drew Gambol Shroud herself. The man in black was widening the gap between them, until he sprang to the side suddenly to avoid a flash of silver that embedded itself in the ground where he had been. The knife exploded, throwing up a cloud of dust. Another black figure burst from the trees and landed in front of them. He drew back a hand that glittered in the moonlight until he was tackled to the ground by a flash of red.

"Get off me!" Dominic yelled, shoving at Ruby.

"Don't!" She yelled back. "You'll hit Weiss!"

Dominic's eyes widened for a second, before they narrowed and his lips curled into a snarl. He tucked the knife back into his sleeve with a flick of his wrist and burst after the kidnapper with a surprising turn of speed. The kidnapper was heading east, toward the cliffs. For a moment Blake had the hope that he would try to take the lift down and they could corner him. No such luck. Without the slightest break in stride, he sprang over the edge and into empty air. The three members of Team RWBY and Dom were right behind him as they fell.

The unforgiving ground rushed up to meet them. The kidnapper fell, his coattails and Weiss' long hair fluttering in the wind. He made a gesture, somehow coming to a stop in midair. He had to jerk to the side to avoid Dominic, who swung with a dual ended sword as he flew past him. Dominic didn't do anything to break his fall, just slammed into the ground feet first like a falling stone. The impact drove a crater into the ground but he was already running towards the roof the kidnapper had dropped onto.

Somewhere behind her, Blake could hear the sound of gunfire, likely the two sisters trying to slow themselves down. Blake gripped Gambol Shroud's ribbon, this was going to be tight. She fired, sending the pistol into a building she was falling past. As she descended, the ribbon pulled taut and brought her scything through the air. She had to curl up her legs to keep them from scrapping the pavement (and probably snapping off, given how fast she was moving). At the top of her arc, she disengaged Gambol Shroud and flew. She landed roughly on another rooftop, the impact enough to almost jarring her teeth together.

A flash of white caught her eye. Blake ran over to the edge and saw him running, Weiss still tucked under an arm. Ruby and Dominic were behind him and Yang was jumping down after them. Blake vaulted over the edge and joined the chase.

Their chase raced through the city streets, on rooftops and over traffic. As she ran, Blake's mind was awhirl with questions. Who was he? Why did he want Weiss? What was Dominic doing here? Despite her best efforts, she just wasn't fast enough to catch him. The others were lagging also, but Ruby and Dominic were keeping closer than she and Yang could. Finally, as Blake rounded a corner, she had lost him, but the hole in a nearby warehouse's window looked promising. She and Yang jumped through and landed on the floor where Dominic and Ruby were waiting. Their attention was fixated on a second level catwalk where the kidnapper was standing, Weiss haphazardly dropped on the ground next to him. The warehouse was full of construction materials, steel girders and concrete blocks, lying on pallets or stacked in piles.

"Give Weiss back, NOW!" Ruby yelled, more raw fury in her voice than Blake had ever heard from her.

The kidnapper ignored her and addressed Dominic. "You're pretty far from home, Momma's Boy."

"Mordred." Dominic coolly replied. "Stooping to kidnapping now? I would have thought that was beneath you." The implications of the exchange were not lost on Blake. Dom and this 'Mordred' knew each other, well enough for nicknames. Mordred had thrown his hood back, letting them see his face. He had long, dark brown hair that fell around his shoulders. His face was narrow, with thin lips and eyes that were pale gray and icy cold.

Mordred had a little half smile on his face that was starting to infuriate Blake, as if this was all some big joke to him. "Is this the part where you swear to kill me or some other dramatic speech?"

Dominic crossed his arms. "If you want. Or I can just beat you to a pulp and drag you back home. Though, since those hands of yours are so dangerous, I may have to take them from you."

"I'll pass on that offer. I'd really rather just kill you."

"If you can."

"Do you honestly think you are anywhere near my lev-"

"Shut up!" Ruby yelled. "Give Weiss back!" She screamed at Mordred.

He raised an eyebrow. "And why would I do that?"

Ruby folded Crescent Rose into its sniper rifle mode and pointed it at him. "Or else."

He chuckled at that. "Sorry, but I'm not giving up my prize just because you point a peashooter at me."

"Your prize?! That's IT!" Ruby fired a flurry of rounds. Mordred barely reacted, only raising one of his fingers. A steel girder, probably ten feet long or more, leapt off the pallet next to Mordred with stunning speed and interposed itself between the two, the bullets' impacts shaking it as it hovered.

"That was rather rude." Mordred said. He pointed his finger and the metal pillar shot forward like from a cannon. Dominic stepped in front of Ruby and caught it with an outstretched hand. The force of the impact boomed, but his arm didn't so much as bend. With a grunt, he threw it back the way it came. The girder froze to a stop in midair before it could hit Mordred, who just looked bored. Dominic looked down at Ruby disapprovingly.

"Calm down. Losing your cool is a great way to get killed." He turned back to look at Mordred. "This guy has a puppetmaster ability. If he touches something, he can put an invisible 'string' on it and manipulate it freely. That includes human bodies, so be careful not to let him touch you. He has ten strings, one for each finger. For this fight, we need to neutralize his puppets while attacking from a distance to keep him from controlling us." Dominic pulled his swords from his back, the two of them snapping into line with a decidedly deadly sounding click. His instructions were delivered in a calm, workmanlike manner. Blake found that reassuring. Put like that, it was possible to pretend this was nothing more than an unusual training exercise.

Dom was trying very hard to keep his near panic from showing.

Mordred had graduated ranked highest in his class, one year over Dom. Dom's own rank was in the mid-teens of his class. That didn't paint a particularly promising picture. Not to mention that Mordred's chosen battleground was full of large, heavy objects for him to throw at them. And to cap it all off, Dom's backup was more likely to prove a liability than an asset. He'd have told them to go back to Beacon, if he thought it would do any good.

"You're being rather patient." Mordred hadn't attacked while he was talking to the girls, despite Dom explaining his power and being relatively distracted. Mordred sneered in response.

"Please. Do you really think I need to resort to cheap tricks like a sneak attack? Against someone like you?" The silver lining here was that Mordred didn't have his blades with him, so he'd have to make do with whatever he could grab here. The question is, what does he have? He had had two of them on his shoes earlier, but the few seconds he had had in the warehouse before Dom and Ruby had gotten there had given him enough time to set up his strings on a complete set of new puppets.

This was going to be a defensive battle. Dom was going to have to take point, get as much of Mordred's attacks aimed at him as possible. If they could hold out long enough, San or other reinforcements would arrive and tip the balance in their favor.

Dom spun Twin-Edge, taking solace from the familiar weight. The girls were spreading out slightly around him, a sign of good training; that way Mordred couldn't attack them all at once. Dom shifted into a fighting stance, waiting for Mordred to make the first move.

He didn't have to wait long. Mordred tapped the girder on top of the pile next to him and raised his hand. The girder, along with three others, rose to join the one in the air. With a flick of Mordred's fingers they swirled about, long ends pointing at the group below him like a row of spears. Another flick and they descended in a rain of steel. Dom dodged the one aimed at him and let fly one of his knives. Unfortunately, Mordred had anticipated that and had kept one of his girders back to defend himself. They met in midair, the following explosion knocking the girder back. It would have been the perfect moment to attack, if Dom didn't needing to dodge to keep the first girder from smashing his skull in. He danced backward, Twin-Edge flashing forward to meet it with a resounding clang. The girder lashed again and again and though Dom deflected or evaded each strike it was enough to keep him on the defensive.

The girls were all have similar problems, the metal bars danced as if they were alive. He saw Yang sidestep her girder, only for it to spin like a cheerleader's baton and slam her into a wall. Blake and Ruby were more agile, but even they were having difficulty evading the twisting metal serpents. That was what made Mordred truly dangerous; his ability to perfectly manipulate five objects against four different opponents while making it look easy.

Wait… five? Mordred only had his right hand raised; his left was in his pocket. Why was he only using one hand? Their attacks were starting to get through; one of Ruby's shots had gotten past the defending girder and Mordred had dodged it rather than use his other hand. Did he not have enough time to get his left hand's strings in place? No, there were still plenty of girders in the stack he had drawn his first five from. So why was he limiting himself?

Dom's train of thought was derailed when his girder tried to swat him into the ground like a fly. Twin-Edge met it as it swung down and Dom used its own momentum to let Twin-Edge shear through it. The severed piece dropped with a clang. Mordred wasted no time in letting the rest of it fall, slapping another one and bringing it to bear. Again, he only used his right hand. Why? He was again distracted, this time by Ruby's shout.

"Weiss! Run for it!"

Dom whirled. Weiss was on her feet, though she looked unsteady, and had drawn her rapier. She ignored Mordred and clumsily vaulted over the catwalk's railing, dropping down to the floor and landing near Blake. Dom was already running but it felt as though his feet were made of lead. As if in slow motion he saw Weiss raise her sword and stab it into the ground. Ice erupted from the point of impact, rapidly forming a large wall. Blake had managed to dodge being frozen at the last second, but thrown off balance as she was she had no way of avoiding Mordred slipping behind her and almost gently placing his right hand on the back of her neck. Mordred leapt back onto the catwalk, followed by Weiss and Blake.

Dom was furious with himself. Goddamnit, why didn't I notice!? He was carrying her! What was I thinking!?

"Now then, ladies. I hope I didn't bore you too much with the prologue." Mordred smiled as he flexed his fingers. Weiss was still unconscious and Blake was visibly struggling, but even so they both took fighting stances. "Time to start the show."


Ruby glared as Mordred positioned her teammates like marionettes. A red mist filled her mind until she saw Dom out of the corner of her eye. Remembering his earlier words, she swallowed down her anger and focused on the enemy.

"Since I'm feeling magnanimous, I fill in some of the holes in my good friend's explanation." Mordred said. "When I'm controlling something complex, I need to devote more than one finger. For something like a human body I need a whole hand, so these two pretty puppets are the only ones I can use right now." His smirk deepened a little. "Of course, it's not like I'll need any others to kill you all."

A twitch of his fingers, and Weiss and Blake were flying at them. They didn't seem affected by gravity anymore; both of them glided through the air rather than jumped. Even as Weiss reached the ground and began to slash at Dom, she still didn't walk or stand so much as she hovered an inch over the ground. Blake, exchanging blows with Yang with gritted teeth, was doing the same.

Intending to capitalize on not being attacked at the moment, Ruby hefted Crescent Rose and took aim at Mordred. The puppeteer simply waved his right hand and Blake was yanked backwards through the air until she was in-between the two of them. Ruby's finger froze on the trigger.

"Ruby!" Blake called. "Don't worry about me! If he wins he'll kill us all anyway!"

"Yeah, but…" Ruby just couldn't shoot her friend. Mordred laughed mockingly. Blake shot towards Ruby at blinding speed, but the young leader still couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger. Blake's blades lashed forward, Ruby managing to fend them off. Another explosion of ice caught her attention. Yang had been sealed up in a pillar of ice. Her fire was already melting it, but she'd be out of the fight for a little while. Distracted, Ruby didn't notice one of Blake's feet hooking around her own. A quick yank and she was on the ground. Even so, Ruby still managed to parry a few strikes, until one of Blake's feet came down on her wrist, pinning her arm and Crescent Rose to the ground. Death descended in the form of one of her closest friends.

Until another sword entered Ruby's vision and caught the pair mid-strike. Dom slowly pushed Gambol Shroud up and back, Blake's muscles straining against him. Ruby looked past them both to see Mordred, who had an annoyed expression, as if offended he hadn't managed to kill her yet. He twitched his wrist, and from the corner of her eye Ruby saw a blur of movement.

Weiss was flying towards her, Myrtenaster drawn back ready to strike. Behind her, Yang had just shattered the ice holding her, but she was still unsteady, the bolstering power of her Semblance not having time to kick in yet. As Weiss drew closer, Ruby tried to bring Crescent Rose to around to block but it was still pinned by Blake's foot. Myrtenaster shot forward.

A hand descended into the path of the blade and the rapier lodged itself in its palm.

Dom's lips were pressed firmly together, but Ruby could still hear his scream. Then, stunning Ruby, he pushed his hand forward, further embedding Myrtenaster into his palm, and wrapped his fingers around Mrytenaster's hilt and Weiss' hand. With a shout, he swung Weiss around, slamming her into Blake and sending the Faunus flying. Dominic then slammed Weiss to the ground, dropping his sword to pin her free arm. Ruby shot to her feet. Yang rushed over and positioned herself in between Blake and her. "Ruby, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. But Dom-"

"I'm good." His voice was thick with pain but his eyes were still sharp. "I've had worse." Weiss was kicking and struggling beneath him but he managed to keep her pinned, despite his impaled hand being loose at his side. Just looking at it made Ruby's own hands hurt. Mocking laughter drifted down to them.

"Absolutely pathetic. You struggle with all your strength and this is all you're capable of. I didn't expect much more from those children but you have no excuse, Dominic."

Ruby moved up to join Yang. "Don't worry, we can take him." She called back to Dom.

"No, you can't." Mordred shook his head like she had answered a question wrong in class. "Dominic was the only one here with any degree of talent, little as it was. With him losing an arm like that, this is over."

"Like hell it is!" Yang was beginning to flare up, flickers of fire running along her hair. Mordred smirked back. "And what are you going to do, little girl? Go running to mommy?"

Oh god. The embers around Yang surged into an inferno.

"Damnit, he's just trying to bait you. Keep it together." Dom was trying to get through to her sister but he was wasting his time. Ruby knew from experience that trying to get her to calm down wouldn't work. When Yang got mad, the only thing you could do was get out of the way and let her do her thing. Which she did, charging forward in a surge of fire. With a flick of Mordred's wrist, Blake flew to meet her.

Then, surprising everyone, Yang sidestepped her attacking partner, spun around, and trapped Blake's arms to her side with a crushing bear hug.

"Now, Ruby!"

Grinning at her sister's surprising cunning, Ruby raised Crescent Rose to blow Mordred's head off, only to see the puppetmaster lunging straight for her, fingers outstretched. For the first time that night, Ruby felt calm. If he touched her it was over, sure, but that just meant this was a test of speed. And if there was one thing Ruby Rose was, it was fast.

She dodged Mordred's striking hand, her Semblance making it child's play to dodge and get behind him. The scythe blade hammered into his back, his Aura flaring as he was sent flying. He slammed into a wooden crate face first, and as he got to his feet Ruby could see the edge of the crate had cut his cheek open, meaning his Aura had been nearly fully depleted by her attack. She didn't intend to give any time to recover and quickly wedged her scythe in the floor, firing as fast as she could pull the trigger. Mordred's eyes widened and he fearfully slapped at the crate next to him, only just managing to raise it off the ground in time to intercept her shots.

The crate shuddered under the impacts and suddenly Yang was beside Ruby, adding her own fire to the onslaught. They were joined a second later by a now free Blake, who joined Gamobl Shroud's fire to theirs. The box fell apart from all the bullets sent its way, but Mordred moved fast, rapidly grabbing at the pipes as they fell from the ruin of their container. His fingers danced and they moved with them, creating a whirling wall of spinning metal. He'd used both his hands for that and as Ruby glanced over she saw Weiss now slumped bonelessly on the ground. They'd broken his grip on her.

With his new barrier, Mordred managed to fend off the hail of gunfire until Crescent Rose ran dry. Her teammates stopping their barrages informed her they had similarly run out of ammo. As she dug for a fresh mag, Mordred drew up the pipes around him in a metal cage. The mocking smile was gone, replaced by a look of rage.

"You brats." He spat. "I'm done playing around. Time you learned what a real Huntsman can do." He leveled the pipes towards Weiss and Dominic. But before he could attack, a dark shape with a flash of red smashed through a window on the upper level. Sanguin dropped down to the floor, landing lightly on his feet.

"San!" Dominic cried, relief evident in his voice. Sanguin wore the same dour expression he always seemed to have. His bright green eyes surveyed the scene, passing over Ruby, Yang, Blake, and Mordred before lingering for a second on Weiss and Dominic. His eyes narrowed, and Ruby felt a chill run up her back.

"You." Mordred spoke to Sanguin, some of his old swagger returning. "I'm surprised to see you here. Are we actually important enough to make Woden let her pet monster off the leash?"

"I see you still haven't learned not to run your mouth, Mordred?" Sanguin grabbed his sword's hilt, the blade rasping on the wooden sheath as he drew it.

"Let me guess, this little maggot called for help and you came by to lend a hand?" Something about what he was saying sounded off, like there was something he meant that she didn't understand. It only lasted for a second, but Ruby saw Sanguin's eyes widen and his fist clench. He stepped forward, his body shifting into a fighting stance.

Mordred glanced up at Ruby and her teammates, their weapons still aimed at him and looked back at Sanguin. He sighed and theatrically raised his hands in surrender, the pipes clattering to the floor.

"Well, I'm a big enough man to admit when I'm beat." He took a long step back, his back almost touching the wall behind him. "Next time Dom, your mother's pet won't be around to save you." He dropped his hands to slap against the wall, then clapped them together, fingers clenched tight.

A creaking above her turned Ruby's head toward the ceiling. The roof was beginning to cave in and as she looked the walls were following suit.

"The building's imploding!" Sanguin shouted at them. "Get out!"

"But Weiss!" Ruby shouted back.

"I'll get them, just go!" And she had no choice, with Yang's hand on her collar pulling her out the window behind them. As they fell to the ground outside, the warehouse's walls slammed together with a crash of shattering concrete and metal.

"WEIIIISSSS!"


When Mordred started to collapse the building, San was already rushing over to them, his hand burning red. As he ran he swept it out in front of him and the red took flight, a line of crimson slicing through the air. When it met the rapidly approaching tangle of walls, it sliced through them too, as it the concrete were made of paper. The path it carved wasn't large, barely three feet wide, but that was more than enough.

San leapt through first, Dom close on his heels. San, unsurprisingly, landed lightly. Dom, with a sword through his palm and his other hand carrying a teenage girl's worth of dead weight, was not as graceful. He did manage to land on his feet, but his legs buckled underneath him and he skidded across the ground. To his credit, he kept his passenger from hitting the ground by twisting so he'd landed on his back. After they came to a halt he was content to lay there for a moment, dropping his head back on the pavement and letting various parts of his body submit complaints. A foot entered his field of vision and not ungently rolled Weiss off him. San took his hand and pulled him up into a sitting position.

"Mordred?" Dom asked.

"Gone."

Dom flushed with guilt. "If you hadn't had to save me, you could have had him. I'm sorry."

"Doubt it'd been that easy." His captain dismissed his apology and pointed at his hand. "Let's get that out of you." He grabbed the hilt with one hand and Dom's wrist with the other. "On three." Dom had to suppress the urge to roll his eyes. Someone saying they would rip out something stuck in a person on three, then actually doing it on one or two was one of the oldest clichés in the book. It was so they didn't clench up and make the pain worse but Dom liked to think he had more control than that. San readied himself. "One, two, three!"

Dom blinked. He looked down at a hand that still very much had a sword through it then up at San. His mouth opened to ask a question, but instead let out a strangled scream as San pulled the sword out in one clean motion. Dom glared up at his captain, who had the barest hint of a smile on his face. Dom rolled his eyes and used his good hand to rip off his sleeve, which San quickly wrapped around the wounded palm as a makeshift bandage.

"How'd things go for you guys?"

"We brought Morgan down but Lance was able to slip away."

"Did you…?" Dom knew their orders had been to kill the rouge Phantoms, but even so…

"No." San sighed. "Theron Samia showed up as we were finishing up. He and the others are taking her to the prison. It was only after they left that I got the emergency signal you'd set up and followed it here."

Dom nodded. He glanced over at the unconscious heiress. "She slept through Mordred using her as a puppet, so I think she's been drugged."

San bent over and brushed the hair off her neck. "Signs of an injection at the base of the neck. What do you think, Suenotin?"

Dom shrugged. "That's as good a guess as any. Though we should probably let a doctor take a look to be on the safe side."

"Agreed." San's pocket chirped. He fished out a scroll and frowned at what was written there. He held it up to his ear. "Yes ma'am. No ma'am. I… Right away." He tucked the scroll away and looked at Dom almost apologetically. "Goodwitch is spitting fire. I need to go report, can you handle things here?"

"Yeah I got it." San nodded and with a few bounds he was up on the rooftops, heading out. Dom had started to fuss with his bandage when something red blew past him in a blur of motion. Ruby was kneeling next to the unconscious heiress, trying to shake her awake. The clatter of footsteps heralded the arrival of her teammates. He grabbed Ruby's shoulder with his good hand.

"She's been sedated, but should be fine."

"Should?!" Ruby all but shouted at him, fear and worry tinging her voice. "She's been turned into a human puppet, battered all over the place, and been drugged but she should be fine?"

"Mordred's puppet grip doesn't damage the body at all." Dom replied. "And he spent a lot of time and effort to get his hands on her. Why would he bother if he was going to inject her with something that would kill her?" He left out the fact that him using the heiress as an impromptu weapon was probably going to smart in the morning.

"Her breathing is even and she doesn't look ill." Blake added. "She'll be fine until we can get her to the hospital." She joined Ruby in crowding around Weiss, Yang on the young leader's other side.

Dom left them to it. He needed to retrieve Twin-Edge from under the rubble anyway. As he shifted chunks of shattered warehouse around with his good hand, his mind drifted back to the battle. More specifically, to the end of it.

When Morderd had charged Ruby, Dom had thought they were all dead. Mordred would catch her with ease, replace the unconscious Weiss with her, and then it would be Dom with a sword through his hand and Yang against Ruby and Blake. Instead, Ruby had outmaneuvered Mordred with high speed movements Dom could barely keep track of. In that moment, she had been moving faster than even Will could, and Will was the fastest man Dom knew. Come to think of it, according to Argos the entire group had done far better against the stronger three members of Shadow than a group of first years had any right to. Exactly who are these kids?

Dom kicked aside yet another piece of the roof and was rewarded with a glint of sharpened metal. He shifted aside a chunk of the wall with his good hand and wrenched Twin-Edge free of the pile. While he was trying to find a way to get Twin-Edge back into the straps on his back with only one hand, the sounds of sirens echoed down the street. Great, now I have to talk to the police. This night just kept getting better.

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