The instructor wouldn’t stop yelling. The class had been running for almost half an hour now, and their form was breaking down, individually and as a whole, the neat rows they started in deteriorating. “Fuschia! Stay with the pack! Lee if you wave at Adel one more time I’m gonna make you run until I throw up, boy!” Rhodes was falling behind, struggling to keep pace being the shortest in the class, especially as fatigue weighed on them. The instructor fell into step with them, screaming. “Keep up Castor! Faster, faster, move it!” They panted, pushing harder, pumping their legs and arms as fast as they could. It wasn’t enough. They were still lagging.
“Let’s go Castor move it move it move it move it!” She shouted at them.
The girls’ class was on the field over, closer to dense wood of emerald forest. “Oh my gods, a rapier wasp!” Someone yelled. “ Aren’t you allergic?! Oh my gods you have to run Elena! Run!”
It wasn’t the name but it was close. Too close. The phrasing was too close. It was too close-
They froze where they were, the instructor skidding to halt and almost tripping at the sudden stop. She stomped up to them, fuming. “What the hell are you doing Castor?!” She shouted in their face. Rho didn’t hear her, didn’t really comprehend that she was standing there even as they looked up at her with wide eyes like a deer in headlights. They weren’t seeing her. They were seeing-
Her mother had her by the wrist, all but dragging her along as they tore through the underbrush. She kept glancing up at her, the fear on her mother’s face as they fled not really sinking. Her mother stole a glance over her shoulder and gasped, hand tightening it’s hold on her child painfully as she tried to run faster. Adena frowned and dug her heels in, bringing them both to a stop. “Let go Mommy!”
Her mother shook her head, frantic. “Adena we have to go-”
“You’re hurting me! I want to go back to Dad!” When they had ran out the back door Adena had saw her father on his knees. He looked like he was praying as one of the strange men held something to his head. A loud noise had rang out after she turned her head back forward, she didn’t know what it was.
“We can’t go ba-”
That’s when her mother had lurched forward, something ripping through her chest. Whatever it was, it grazed against her cat ear. It burned , stung. Hurt. She reached up as it folded back against her scalp, crying out in pain as her mother fell forward, a choking cough tearing from her throat and splattering hot liquid on her face. Adena smelled copper. “Mommy….?”
“R-” she coughed again, beginning to drown in her own blood, unknown to Adena. “Run Addie, run.”
“Mommy? Wh-” Something whizzed past her and she ducked down on instinct, whatever it was splintering the wood of a tree behind her. Her mother pushed her away and she took some stumbled steps forward.
“Don’t stop, keep running! Run, Adena, run! ”
Young Adena turned. And she ran.
And she ran. And she didn’t stop when she heard her mother scream, even when her muscles burned and she couldn’t breathe.
Rhodes snapped back to reality. To the instructor standing in their face and screaming, spittle landing against their cheeks.
“Run Castor, Run!”
Rhodes turned, and they ran. And they ran. And they didn’t stop as they heard their name being called and footsteps running behind them.
They ran right through the girls’ field, and straight into the woods, and they didn’t stop even as their heart hammered and felt like it’d pound through their ribs, even as their face wet with tears as they streamed past the trees.
They tripped on a root, and tumbled, hitting the ground on their hands and knees. They wheezed, gulping down air as best they could. It felt like their lungs were bleeding.
“Rho!” There was Kimber, skidding to a stop next to them and grabbing them by their arms. One look at their face and he was sitting down cross-legged and gathering them up into his arms to drag them into his lap. “You’re okay Rho, you’re okay.” He says through his panting, repeating it like a mantra, Di and Scarlett sliding up next to them. Di and Scarlett watch as the faunus sobs into his chest. Kimber shares an uneasy look with them as Rho cries harder, clutching at his shirt as they speak words through their tears that shakes the three of them to their cores.
“She told me to run, I have to run, she told me to run-”
“She told me to run.”