"Ridiculous."

Ruby swiped at her bangs, the sweat having plastered them to her forehead so that she could better look at her partner incredulously. "Wanting to help people is ridiculous?"

The two girls had decided to take to one of the dueling arenas for this afternoon; a rare moment for the both of them as Weiss had done away with a test in a third of the time that her professor intended his students to use and Ruby was given a break from one of her leadership courses after she and the other team leaders were given an in-depth lecture and analysis on general defensive formations that were used and praised by Hunters today for their flexibility when it came to being applied no matter the diversity of the teams. The focus on academics for today must've made the younger girl restless and Weiss may've been similarly influenced enough to agree for some sparring.

It was after their latest round that they took a seat on the bleachers – Weiss refused to just drop and sit so shamelessly on the arena floor as her partner had done – where Ruby voiced a concept that Weiss felt compelled to address. "Helping people isn't ridiculous. Doing so without having to kill anyone is what's ridiculous."

"But we're training to be Huntresses," Ruby argued. "It's one of the reasons why I want to become one. We're supposed to fight and protect people from monsters. We're not supposed to fight other people."

"That doesn't mean you never will," Weiss pointed out, the time they've spent together and her becoming accustomed to Ruby's naivety having built up a tolerance for it. It – and possibly her tiredness after their sparring - kept her tone easy even if this was a lecture meant to have Ruby see sense. "You yourself fought those criminals that were robbing the Dust shop and that was before you even started at Beacon."

"But I didn't kill them; I didn't need to."

"That was a straight-up fight against opponents who were much weaker than you. Just like how we won't always be fighting Grimm, there will be situations that won't be that simple. Someone doesn't need to be strong to point a gun at another's head and threaten to shoot them. The best strategy would be to make sure they can never pull the trigger in that instance or any other ever again."

"You mean kill them," Ruby translated with a frown.

Weiss shrugged. "It's very difficult for a dead person to shoot a gun."

"There's always other methods though. Policemen are the ones who take care of criminals but they always try to find a peaceful solution. They try to negotiate and convince criminals to give up instead of just outright shooting them."

"Until they're given no other choice."

"But that's when they don't have any other choice. There's always other options, Weiss. We have options, too." Other than dabbing at the sweat at her face, Ruby was doing the same with Crescent Rose. The scythe currently in its folded, blocky form, the younger girl had it resting on her lap to better run the towel along its surface to wipe away what stains her sweaty hands may've left behind and the dirt that may've collected with slamming it around everywhere. "Fighting those robbers made me realize how strong I am when compared to others and it's that strength that'll let me defuse situations without anyone dying."

There were many different ways that this argument could go and almost all of them would lead to pointless ramblings if Weiss was to try and give a specific example of an unwinnable scenario and Ruby, true to her childish ways, would pick at it to find a way to win. Deciding against a pointless route, Weiss kept it general and, more convincingly, factual. "Again, it doesn't mean you'll never run into a situation where killing isn't the solution. If we never have to kill then wars wouldn't be so costly."

"There isn't a war going on though."

There was a response that immediately came to mind but the heiress held it and the resentment that it would've come equipped with back. Instead she replied with a hint of irritation, "There doesn't have to be one, you dolt. You fought weak enemies but there may come a day when you'll fight one who's as strong or even stronger than you. And when you do fight it'll be a life or death situation that only ends when either you or them are dead. During such a time you can't let something like mercy get in the way; it'll only distract you."

Ruby lapsed into silence, the towel stilling in her hands while her eyes stared unblinkingly at it. Not feeling as victorious as she thought she would, Weiss occupied herself with Myrtenaster. Despite having engaged with Crescent Rose, there were hardly any nicks or cracks on the blade; proof of strength of the durable alloys and latest forging techniques that went into the creation of such an elegant yet lethal weapon. A couple of the Dust cartridges, on the other hand, she could see were on the low side.

The fencer flicked at the lock with her thumb and carefully broke open her rapier so that the extractor wouldn't fling the cartridges out of the rear of the cylinder completely and instead leave them sticking out enough that Weiss could remove the ones that were running low and place them in her pouch. She could refill them later and right now she settled with loading full replacements one-by-one. As slow as the process may be, Weiss never concerned herself with a way to make reloading faster as her stamina and Aura wasn't up to par to go through more than one load of Dust.

That could always change later, she thought. It was too soon now but if she did end up sticking with Beacon for the full four years, she might need to think of a way if she did end up improving that much.

It was when Weiss replaced the last one that needed it did Ruby say, "It's not like I really think I'll be able go through my entire life without killing anyone. I'd like to and I will always try to find a way to do so but I understand there's a difference to what I want and what may happen."

Weiss put a hand on one of the metal prongs that acted as the guard to lift the blade until there came the click of the lock reengaging, firmly clamping it and the cylinder back in place. When she looked back at Ruby it was to see the girl setting the towel aside but her gaze remained on her weapon.

"During my first week with the other leaders we were told of the risks by our instructor," she explained. "One thing he said was that if we were to ever engage in such a fight, we have to remember that our opponent has willingly accepted the risk of dying in combat just as we did. We may prefer to fight Grimm but dead is still dead no matter how it may happen. Either way our objective is to avoid us and our teammates from meeting such a fate."

The heiress quietly examined her partner, that distant look that she had on her young features making her appear more mature and more like the leader of the Huntressing team that she is. It was that look and moments like these that reassured Weiss that she could exert enough trust when it came to following a girl two years her junior.

"Have you wondered about why I use a scythe, Weiss?"

Weiss blinked at the unexpectedness of the question. "It's a weapon that you wield with exceptional skill so isn't that enough?"

'Exceptional skill' came naturally and Weiss found that she meant it. As wild as Ruby's fighting style may be, she had to admit that there was some kind of connection between her leader and her weapon that went beyond what Weiss had with Myrtenaster. For Weiss, her sequences and forms had been drilled into her muscles so that she could perform them instinctively, without thought. It allowed her to free her mind so that she could concentrate and draw on the power of her Dust to unleash her spells.

For Ruby, she was able to perform with an unpredictability that Weiss would have to admit that she didn't have. Not only did she swing that massive scythe around, but she twisted and bent her small body around it in a way that had Weiss swearing that there were instances where she couldn't tell if Ruby was wielding Crescent Rose or Crescent Rose was wielding Ruby. It let her react and counter in ways that Weiss didn't expect yet seemed completely natural and fluid to her partner. Many a time Weiss thought Ruby left herself exposed but when she went on the attack, she would maneuver herself away and bring Crescent Rose to bear in her place.

With her young age yet all that skill she possessed now, Weiss couldn't even imagine how powerful Ruby will become when she got older.

"Ozpin called it one of the most dangerous weapons ever designed." Holding her scythe delicately as if such a thing had suddenly become a fragile possession, Ruby brought it up in front of her. "When Uncle Qrow introduced me to the scythe, I thought it was big and even a bit scary. But I was excited because such a big and scary weapon was perfect to slay big and scary monsters."

An inelegant but accurate description that Weiss had to agree on. Unlike the other big weapons that trainees wielded like Nora's Magnihild and Cardin's mace, there was something about that large, crescent-shaped blade that inspired an added degree of intimidation that Weiss would never admit but nonetheless wasn't immune to that the blunt head of a bludgeoning weapon couldn't contend with. Halberds and claymores made little difference as they may have the size but not the shape of the steel that expressed how they were specifically meant to mow through any and all obstacles with one sweep. There was a reason why 'scything' was its own term and Weiss had viewed Ruby demonstrate it on multiple occasions during Grimm hunts.

It was that blade that unfolded as Ruby unveiled its true form. She rested the long handle against her shoulder which served to accentuate just how much bigger the weapon was when compared to its wielder.

"I did ask why Qrow decided to teach me," Ruby spoke. "Back at Signal, I used to be horrible; I couldn't fight with anything. Then the top scythe-wielder came to me and decided to train me in everything that he knew. While I was happy with how well I took to it, I did wonder why he would teach me of all people in such a cool but deadly style. There had to have been others who would've been better choices."

She beamed up at the head of Crescent Rose with a smile of admiration and...longing. Not in a romantic way as Weiss picked up to there being something different but no less sentimental.

"He told me that I was the perfect choice," Ruby revealed. "I see the scythe as a weapon to do good and protect people despite its appearance. He said that was something that has become lost over the years. A long time ago, all of us were once united and worked to protect each other. No matter what weapons we used - whether it be hammer, sword, or scythe -, they were all meant to act as a shield for defense. We've strayed during the dark times, fighting each other more than the Grimm, and with this peaceful era he hopes that we'll be able to go back to what we once were."

She hugged Crescent Rose, one hand idly trailing along the handle. "I want to prove that Crescent Rose can protect people and that she's not just a weapon meant to kill. Killing, as Qrow said, has become too commonplace. People have come to depend on it as a viable option. It's a danger that a scythe exhibits the most and one that he believes I can overcome through restraint. If there's one thing I know about Crescent Rose, it's that once I swing it's hard to stop her and the damage she can do is a lot so I want to make sure to be as good as I can be to take care of every single one I take. I don't want to become comfortable with killing."

There was no critical rebuke from Weiss, the heiress instead quietly observing how Ruby treated her weapon. A weapon that can inspire terror and create wholesale destruction but a weapon that Ruby was embracing as if seeking to protect it from those corrupting views that people had for it. Slowly, Weiss looked down at her slimmer weapon and how it rested across her lap.

"Sorry, I guess I kind of got weird there," Ruby apologized, smiling sheepishly at Weiss although her hold remained on Crescent Rose. "I just want to make the world a better place and I believe I can do that with not only Crescent Rose but you and everyone else too."

Weiss didn't reply. With one hand wrapped around the hilt of Myrtenaster, the other slid underneath the blade so that she could gently lift it up from her legs.

"So why did you come to Beacon, Weiss?" Ruby asked.

Weiss again said nothing, staring at her own cold eyes that were reflected back at her and the risen braid of flesh that went down the left one.

Ruby frowned with concern. "Weiss?"


Corbin came to with a spasm of limbs, a shot of adrenaline being injected into his system to wake him up when his restored consciousness was joined with the sound of gunfire. Any actions that he should undertake were delayed because of his spinning vision, all thanks to the pounding located at his skull.

The question of why his head was hurting and what he remembered last was explained in a rush as his memories came back to him. His team was meant to slow down any police officials that were to arrive, they were attacked by a Huntress and-

That was a Huntress? he asked himself, the pale and very young face popping up in his mind. That girl had to barely be a teenager but she was carrying around that scythe, had moved faster than Corbin could react, and if the throbbing was any indication, she was much stronger than she looked. Strong enough to knock off his helmet as when Corbin held a hand to where the pain originated, there was no steel layer that usually came with it.

Setting aside his own discomforts for now, Corbin examined the surrounding area and, to his shock, was greeted with the sight of the scattered bodies and weapons of his comrades. Were they dead? There wasn't any blood anywhere and he thought he saw one of them twitch but he couldn't be sure.

More gunfire was produced, close but up high. The warehouse. He must not have been out long; a few minutes at most. Enough time for the Huntress to deal with his group and then engage the second that took up positions in the building.

It was the idea that the rest of his compatriots may be in danger that got Corbin to move from…why was he under a trailer? Ignoring such a trivial thing and explaining it away as having come under it when the Huntress kicked him, Corbin focused on arming himself and rejoining the fight.

There was a rifle nearby, whether his or someone else's he wasn't sure but he struggled to reach it. Slowly sliding out from beneath the trailer, the bear faunus attempted to get to his feet only to have his legs buckle and drop him to his hands and knees. He really did get hit hard, may even have a slight concussion. He hadn't felt any lumps or other exterior signs of injury when he checked his head but that didn't mean anything. Being unable to balance himself, this headache, and his swimming vision were more than enough to point him in that direction.

It wasn't going to stop him and Corbin focused on this need to arm himself. Taking it slow, Corbin gradually crawled on his hands and knees towards the discarded rifle, the thought a lifeline that helped him from succumbing to this dizzying pain. When he was close enough, he reached out and grasped the butt of the weapon to drag it towards him.

It didn't move. It felt heavy for some reason and the faunus tried to tug on it as hard as he could to no avail.

It took him longer than it should've to realize that the reason that he couldn't move it was because a high-heeled boot had been placed on top of it, applying enough pressure to leave the gun immobile. When it finally dawned on him, Corbin followed the boot up, eyes trailing up the material which gave way to pale legs and a skirt that was really part of a one-piece dress. A jacket was worn over it.

It was after passing the apple-shaped necklace that was resting on her collarbone did Corbin reach her face.

He knew her. There probably wasn't a faunus in the White Fang who wouldn't be able to recognize her on sight even if they were the victim of a concussion. Hair as white as snow and done up in an off-centered ponytail. Eyes that were as frozen as Remnant's northern, arctic continent and just as ruthless. A scar crossed down the left one, tarnishing her otherwise smooth and noble features. Though the top and bottom half of the imperfection were misaligned, how straight and narrow they were implied either a blade or something else that was as sharp and precise having sliced through the skin to leave behind such a fine mark.

As if by its own volition, his mouth moved and his lungs donated enough air so that her name could be passed through it. "Weiss Schnee."

The heiress of the Schnee Dust Company had her brows lowered and eyes narrowed to broadcast cold enmity. At the sound of her name, a corner of her lip curved up, the alteration to her features that was the result encouraging a chill that went down Corbin's spine.

"That's right," Weiss confirmed. "Here I am."

Before Corbin had any time to react, that boot that kept the rifle pinned in place shot up and slammed into his chin, his consciousness leaving him once again.


=Five Years Ago=

Something was wrong.

The day was as normal as any other. While the various maids, butlers, and other hired help went on with their jobs to maintain the mansion, Weiss had taken to the privacy of her room with sheets of music that she received from her singing teacher. Those sheets represented a milestone in her lessons as, during the past months, her teacher had stuck to developing the girl's singing through breathing techniques and controlling the pitch and tone of her voice to not only reach but maintain a wide range of notes no matter how high they went.

Her instructor was an experienced performer, having only recently retired from the stage but not from singing itself. Other than the thrill that came from being able to study under an actual singer, it was a famous one who Weiss's father admired and her albums could be heard echoing down the halls of the manor. While Weiss was motivated to develop this talent of hers, the idea of it being her voice that would one day travel through the halls because it could be something that her father would love to listen to gave her that extra incentive.

It was with that dream in mind that Weiss set the sheets on the music stand that had been lowered to accommodate her short height. They would remain there and she would stay standing in front of them until she could not only memorize but deliver every lyric with flawless performance. She came prepared as there was a pitcher of water and a cup on top of the nightstand next to her bed. Even if it went empty, she'll just make a quick call to one of the maids to refill it for her.

The pitcher hardly drained a quarter before Weiss was interrupted by a noise that clashed harshly with the melody. It was a noise that was unusual to the quiet atmosphere that came with such a large residence: that being a slamming door.

The yelling that came afterwards was no better and Weiss became anxious upon hearing it. Not only was it loud and angry, but the heiress recognized it as none other than her father. She couldn't make out what he was saying but she knew it was him even if he hardly ever yelled.

As nervous as hearing it made her, it didn't dissuade her from investigating. Abandoning the music sheets, Weiss pulled open the door and hurried to the stairs. Her room was on the second floor of the mansion and despite its large size, additions were still being made to it as, even one floor down, Weiss could see how the east wing was closed off for renovators to perform the final stage of the remodeling on the third floor.

That wasn't what concerned her though. Hands gripping the banister, Weiss peeked through the rails in time to see a pair of shadows that were disappearing down a corridor that would lead to the western end of the mansion. Her father was heading for his study then; a place he usually went to after coming home.

"Why am I only hearing about this now?"

Weiss reflexively shrunk back. Her father was no longer yelling but he was still angry and it scared her. What happened?

Another voice, one she didn't recognize, replied with slow hesitance, clearly as nervous as she was when it came to her father. "We couldn't confirm anything at the time. While his disappearance seemed out of the ordinary there was no real cause for alarm. Then we got the letter."

"What letter?"

Weiss didn't get the chance to hear what it was as they moved out of earshot by then. For a while all she could do was stand there, clenching at the steel rails during this indecision of whether she should follow or not. Curiosity ended up prevailing over her fear and Weiss descended the stairs with a rush. Her small, bare feet padded nearly soundlessly against the marble tiles of the entrance hall which appeared so big and empty. Other than the pretty crystal chandelier high above, the rest of the decorations were minor and rather sparse such as a few portraits and valuable trinkets that had been collected and put on display.

Weiss again hesitated, this time at the mouth of the hallway that her father and whoever he was with went down. Despite how far it stretched, they weren't in sight and Weiss probably waited long enough that she wouldn't be able to be spotted if she followed them. Overcoming her leftover misgivings with the assurance that she was a Schnee, Weiss quickly but quietly went down the hall.

A maid came around the corner, her head turned to where she came from. She looked worried and didn't notice the tiny heiress until she nearly bumped into her. Weiss was fast enough, deftly moving around her while the servant stumbled and then straightened herself.

"Miss Weiss, wait!"

She ignored the call although, like her father, the maid's panicked tone and her features creased with worry accomplished in adding to this feeling of something bad having happened. It was always calm in her home, the servants themselves enjoying what the Schnee residence had to offer. One of them graced her nose with the scent of roses, the cause being a nearby window that was partially open to let the fragrance of the nearby bushes waft in. Their petals were white of course to better match the color scheme that the Schnee family preferred.

Weiss began to pick up the muffled rumblings of conversation as she drew closer to the door that she knew to be her father's study. No matter what adjustments were made to her home or how many rooms it may possess, it was still her home and that would never change.

For her inconvenience though, it was one that possessed thick doors meant to thwart eavesdroppers. It didn't stop Weiss as the heiress tentatively pressed her ear to it, trying to make out anything that she could from the inside.

No amount of thickness could stop the enraged shout that broke through. "They did WHAT!?"

Weiss jerked her head back, eyes wide with surprise and terror at the sheer amount of vehemence that infected the outcry. It had her looking back down the hall, that terror prompting a desire to leave that came when a child didn't want to be around when their parent was angry. The heiress swallowed it down nonetheless and placed her ear back against the solid slab of wood.

The vocal vibrations that had the door trembling in the most subtle way against her hand and ear had to belong to the other man who was talking fast. She could only catch a few snippets though.

"…delivered this morning…DNA…"

Then came her father and his raised tone let her catch more. "Who was responsible for this?"

"...letter…Fang…"

"The White Fang are nothing but a batch of dissidents! Minor annoyances easily ignored!"

The White Fang? The name meant nothing to Weiss, having never heard of it before. They were involved though and she had to assume that they were the ones who were troubling her father. Her ear slid along the door as if repositioning it would allow her to hear better.

It didn't and her movements instead made the following statement of the mysterious man completely inaudible. Even when it was her father's turn to make a reply, she could only catch the end of an inquiry.

"…alive?"

"…recording…murdered."

The next time Weiss removed her head from the door it was due to the loud banging and crashing of something breakable being smashed against the floor. Even when no longer flush against the door, she heard him.

"AND NO ONE'S BEEN BROUGHT TO ANSWER FOR THIS BARBARISM!?"

Weiss went back to her spot.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before!" came the distinct response. "This has taken everyone by surprise!"

Her father didn't immediately reply but Weiss thought she could hear something. It took her too long to realize that it wasn't just the door but the floor that was tremoring and when she did the door was swinging inwards and Weiss was falling with it.

"GET O-!"

The order was interrupted when Weiss cried out. While falling, it was to be met with her father's knee when he stepped out to better demonstrate his incomplete order with finger pointed. The kneecap was perfectly positioned to connect with her cheek and suddenly she was on her rear, hand going to the pain that blossomed there.

"Weiss!"

Hurt and scared at being caught, Weiss kicked her feet against the floor while the hand that wasn't attending to her cheek assisted in her efforts to get away. She was shaking her head, about to tearfully utter however many sorries it would take for him to forgive her for listening in but he interrupted her.

"No, no, no! Weiss, come here!" He caught her immediately, bending down and scooping her up from the floor. He held her tight against his chest, one hand stroking through the lengths of white hair that flowed freely down her back. "I'm sorry. That was an accident."

While comforted by her father's affection, Weiss still caught someone leaving his study, using the distraction to swiftly retreat from the area. Weiss ignored him, not wanting anything to get her father mad again and instead returned his hug, injured cheek rubbing soothingly against him.

"Let me see." He tucked a finger beneath her chin to tilt it enough that he would be able to inspect her face.

Weiss resisted his efforts, keeping her cheek firmly in place. It hurt but she didn't want him to worry about her. Not when proving that she was strong could make him feel better. "It's alright, papa. I'm fine, I promise."

Fortunately he chose to accept it, his hand moving away to resecure his hold on her. Weiss relaxed in his embrace, happy that he wasn't yelling anymore and would've enjoyed just being here with him and feeling his fingers comfortingly running through her tresses. Nevertheless, there was something bothering him and with him having become calm she thought it safe to ask.

"Papa, what's wrong?" Weiss asked gently, her own arms gripping him tight in what she hoped was a similarly comforting manner. "What happened?"

His hand paused in its stroking but only for a moment. He curled some strands of her hair around his fingers, his thumb rubbing along the back of her head. Weiss waited as patiently as a child could but, even if she was a Schnee, she didn't have that much patience and soon asked, "Why were you yelling?"

He took a deep breath, Weiss's head moving with the motion. With his thumb stilling, he finally spoke, "Its Uncle Horace. He's gone."

"Gone?" Weiss repeated.

Horace wasn't her real uncle but he and his family were close to the Schnees as he was her father's best friend and most trusted aide. They visited the mansion a lot when they were invited over for dinners and get-togethers and Weiss would visit their place almost as frequently.

She liked those times when she went over. Their house was smaller but it was more than enough for them. While Weiss's father did have a small taste of a 'normal' life before Schnee Dust really got off the ground thanks his father, Horace and his family remembered how they were before the benefits that came with being confidants of a growing dynasty. Horace's wife even taught Weiss how to sew as that was how they took care of clothes and other belongings to make them last for as long as possible instead of throwing them out.

They had a daughter who became Weiss's friend: Aurora. She had bunk beds in her room with the bottom one reserved for Weiss when she slept over. It hadn't originally been made for her though; someone else used to sleep in it. There was once another girl, another daughter, who was part of the family but she was sick and had been sick since she was born.

Weiss never met her; she was 'gone' before she could. They were happy to have her though and assured her that she wasn't intruding by sleeping in her bed. Her presence may've even made it easier for them.

But now another loved one was gone.

"He was taken away," her father explained. "Some bad people took him away and killed him."

A heavy knot was twisted within Weiss's stomach at that. She wasn't stupid; she was twelve after all and a bright child who had always been told that one day she would do the Schnee name proud. Adults could try to protect her as her father was doing but she knew the significance of words like dead and killed. But hearing the second and being told that it happened to someone close to her…it just didn't seem like it was real.

The next question she asked seemed so simple and lacking that it may've sounded downright stupid, and yet it was the only thing she could say. "Why?"

"Because they're monsters," her father replied. "They think they can do these things and then hide like the cowards they are."

Weiss found herself agreeing with that description as how else could anyone have done such a horrible thing to Horace and his family? They were always nice to her and shown nothing but love and respect for each other. Only monsters would ever think that any of them deserved to die.

There came a tug at her hair and the young heiress winced as her father splayed his fingers along her head, the strands of hair curled around them being pulled painfully while her cheek was pushed further against his chest. The added pressure caused the small bruise there to sting.

"Don't worry, Weiss." The arm around her grew tighter. "I won't let anything happen to you."

Weiss squirmed, her father's embrace starting to hurt. "Papa."

That bitter tone was back and, with it, Weiss's fear as her father promised, "They'll all pay for this."


=Present=

Why did Weiss Schnee want to go to Beacon?

She was to inherit a billion-Lien company that was supported by mankind's dependence on the most valuable resource that it mined. Because of how it was so vital to their civilization and the growth that Schnee Dust had been able to achieve in such a short amount of time, there was nothing but continued progress that was expected to be made by the company. When she became the next head, Weiss would be just as rich and powerful as her father and grandfather with future opportunities allowing her to expand her supremacy.

There was nothing but luxury that would be achieved through such anticipated expansionism so why would the heiress wish to attend a combat school – reputable as it may be – when her future was already set for her? Beacon would not teach her how to run a business or familiarize her with the careful manipulations that came with dealing with politics.

There were a number of typical theories that could be reached and, perhaps, did apply to the heiress to some extent. Considering that she could easily hire her own private combat instructors to train her at home, one would believe that she came to Beacon for a more public showing of her skills. Everyone knew of her forebearers and their accomplishments but Weiss had only just begun. To become known as a powerful Huntress and to graduate as a top student to the top combat school was a good way to start and develop her reputation.

While not business-related, her accomplishments would prove that she was not someone who was only graced with a fortuitous birth. She had integrity and it would do well to let her handle the challenges that would come with administering her company. More advantageously, not only would she be succeeding with her own gifts but also with her company's assets. She would demonstrate to all not just her competence but the excellence that came with a Schnee product that let her accomplish so much.

It was sound. It was logical. It was even true.

But it was not the answer.

The answer was something so simple and straightforward that no one would think that the reason why Weiss Schnee would come to Beacon was really the same reason that everyone else had.

She wanted to fight monsters.

She just happened to know that the Grimm were not the only monsters that needed to be fought.

Weiss was looking down at one now. It was a monster who tormented her throughout her childhood. It was a resident of the shadows and dark corners that children would be fearful of even when it was nothing more than the results of their own overactive imaginations.

For Weiss, it had been so very real. That day five years ago was the day that she understood that monsters did exist and that they were out there waiting for her to take that one misstep that would have her tumbling into their domain. And until such a blunder was ever made, they settled themselves with stalking and preying on everyone who was associated with her.

Horace had not been the first and his family was not the only one who suffered. There had been more and during her months in Beacon there was probably another who had been abducted or outright shot or blown up in public. No matter the security or other protective measures that were made, there would always be some weakness or gap that would allow one of them to slip through. That was all that was needed to open up another grave.

Each success further enraged her father. As the first true heir to Schnee Dust and being trusted with a legacy that had only just begun, it was his duty to make sure it prospered. To have it threatened as it was with the war that had been declared by another party, he became determined to show that the Schnee name was unshakable and uncompromising.

Her home became a fortress. Contact with friends had been severed so they would not be used against her. Her singing and other talents would be used as a front to present how life was as normal as could be and that the Schnee family remained undaunted despite the threats and attacks that were made against it. All she had to depend on was herself while her father brokered deals and contracts that were meant to better arm them and make sure that the next assault made by their enemies would cost them dearly.

There had been no one there for her. There was no one for her to turn to. When she cried at hearing another person dead because of her name, when she heard her father lost in another episode, she had done so in an empty cage with no explanation as to why it was all happening.

It was never going to end. She was promised that those responsible would pay but they still continued. She was told that nothing would happen to her but, in her place, others would suffer.

That was when she made a plan of her own. No longer would she remain at the back of the chessboard while her pawns – her subjects – were taken out and the knights, rooks, and bishops were unable to properly retaliate. She wasn't going to wait until there was no one left between her and her enemies.

It was the queen's turn to take to the battlefield.

Her previous training was meant to prepare her for her entrance into not only Beacon but the war that she would be free to participate in. She removed herself from the safety of her base and her grades, her reputation, all of her triumphs would carry one specific message:

Here I am. Come and get me.

And when they did reach for what they thought to be the delicate neck of a songbird, they would instead find the talons of a raptor poised to tear them apart.

She knew her message may not be passed along as quickly as she wanted it to. Vale was a perfect place alright which included a lack of a suitable White Fang presence. She wanted a year but it could've taken two or maybe all four. As disappointing as it may be, she could take comfort that each delay would allow her to become stronger for when the White Fang eventually came for her. They had to. She was Weiss Schnee after all; the one they really wanted.

Her plan wasn't without complications though. She didn't become a leader but that turned out fine as RWBY can still become a renowned team. Besides, being a subordinate did have its advantages as she could act with potentially greater anonymity than she would if she was leader. While the idea had come to mind to turn any team she may command as her own fighting force, she dismissed it entirely. Too many have died in a fight that should've been hers to begin with and while she could use the team to bring it to her, she didn't want Ruby or anyone to participate in it.

Then there was her most recent and unexpected problem that occurred when she became at ease with this peace that Beacon had given her along with her freedom. It brought a disciple of the Fang right at her side without her knowing and at first she had been too disgusted with herself for letting it happen to pick up on the significance of the development: that being that the White Fang would arrive sooner than she anticipated.

And what do you know. Not even a year had gone by and here it was: the day that she had been waiting for.

It was the day where she could draw Myrtenaster as she did now. It was unhurried but her grip at the hilt was tight with the expectation to deliver the blade and her vengeance with lethal efficiency. Once it fully cleared her sash, Weiss lowered it down, the pointed tip tapping against the concrete.

She savored this position for a moment longer before she removed the tip from the ground and brought it to the beast's neck.

All it would take was that extra ounce that would come when she flexed her arm to cross that needed inch to complete the deed. There was no Aura to stop her and her rapier's sharpness would pierce through without so much as a pause. When that blood came gushing out, the stain it would leave behind on her blade and the ground would verify to this animal's kind that they were not untouchable and Weiss was not weak. If they wanted her they would have to be prepared to fight and she had no intention of losing.

Weiss would make them pay. If she had to, she would kill every last one of them if it meant getting them to understand that they can't do such evil things anymore. No one would suffer anymore, no one would have to die without knowing why, and no one would have to ask the unanswerable question of why someone they loved had been taken away from them.

All it would take was one tiny effort and she could make them all stop.

….

…So why was she hesitating?

Weiss stood where she was, motionless. Her arm and her weapon didn't so much as tremble. She stared at where the point of Myrtenaster touched the bare neck enough that there was a small indent made in the soft, yielding skin.

Her vision wandered. Moving along the pavement, it focused on a tiny object that was within reach of her foot. Gingerly, she stretched it out to touch and roll the casing enough so that the picture of the snowflake that was labeled on it was visible.

Myrtenaster soon drifted and Weiss pried her gaze away from the bullet casing to take a look around the rest of the area. There were casings belonging to bullets of smaller calibers but it was the larger ones that caught her interest. With them were gashes made in the ground that Weiss knew had to have come from a heavy, curved blade gouging it.

Ruby's been here, Weiss deduced. She was here and… She performed another scan. …and she didn't kill any of them.

There were bodies but not corpses. A few had broken bones, limbs that had been bent at odd angles, but none of them had been cleaved apart or split open. They were still breathing.

Dammit, Ruby.

Weiss cursed at her because it had to be her leader who was responsible for this unwillingness to do what had to be done. As much as she was convinced that she had to, the thought that she was about to kill someone who Ruby spared…bothered her.

Why didn't she kill them? A child she may be but she wielded such a fearsome weapon that was meant to kill everything in its path. Ruby had shown no quarter to the Grimm, slaughtering them in droves. Before Weiss's eyes she had seen packs of Beowolves torn to ribbons without pause.

Because she doesn't want to kill anyone, Weiss recalled. She wants to help people. The fencer looked down at her own weapon.

It was nothing like Crescent Rose. Myrtenaster was thin and elegant. Whereas the scythe was frightening, the rapier was graceful.

But just like Crescent Rose, Myrtenaster had an owner who sought to use it for a purpose that went against its appearance.

She doesn't understand, Weiss told herself. She's still such a child. She doesn't get it but she will when she gets older and realizes how brutal the world can be. And in this world there are people who deserve to die.

Weiss understood that and when she turned back to her original target it was with renewed conviction that had her raising Myrtenaster back up to his neck.

But like before she hesitated.

…They really did look human. With this one lacking his mask, Weiss could see his rather plain face. Even when she took note of his inhuman ears, what became significant was that human face that was calmed with the loss of consciousness. It wasn't contorted with hostility.

It wasn't like Weiss ever had a real problem with the faunus in general. She didn't trust them as who knew which one was an agent of the White Fang but she didn't hate all of them. The only ones she hated were the ones who merited it. They weren't people; they were monsters just like her father said and monsters were meant to be slain.

She's done enough of that in Beacon. She's frozen various specimens of the Grimm and shattered them into pieces, set them ablaze and turned them into ash, pierced their organs, obliterated them in every way that she could. What she had to do here didn't even require a fraction of such an exertion.

But they're not Grimm.

Why would that even matter? If anything, they were worse. Grimm were true to their nature and never tried to justify what they did. An Ursa didn't disembowel you and tell you that it had the right to do so. A Taijitu didn't hiss how the life it was squeezing out of you was one you didn't deserve before it would swallow you whole. Boarbatusks don't trample you and inform you over the crunching of your bones that you had it coming. They were just animals following their instincts.

The faunus of the White Fang were those who've gone rabid and their madness led them to believe that it was okay to kill innocent people. The only solution was to put them down.

…This wasn't how she imagined it though. When she did imagine a day like this, she did so with the fantasy that they would be coming at her by the dozens, howling and cursing her name. The threats of ending her life in whatever macabre manner that they would bark out would be cut short when she cut them open. When they fell at her feet, it would be with the gratification that they knew they underestimated her and would think twice before deciding to come for her or anyone else again.

"Get up…"

This faunus had been reaching for a gun when she found him. She should've let him pick it up. She should've let him take his shot at her. It should've been when the gun ran dry and she was still standing before him that she should've sent him off to the afterlife with the knowledge that it was a mistake to ever go against her.

"Get up."

The faunus didn't get up, didn't even wake up to her demand or to the blood that trickled down his throat. Myrtenaster nicked the skin but not on purpose. It was shaking and that was because Weiss's hand was shaking.

"Get up!" Weiss ordered. She whirled around on the others, still unconscious but it didn't stop her from screaming at them. "Get up, get up, GET UP!"

What were they waiting for? She was right here! Weiss Schnee! Why weren't they getting up and trying to kill her? This was their chance!

Forget it! Why did it matter how they died? They'll be dead and they won't be able to kill anyone ever again. She may not know what these faunus have done but that shouldn't matter either! They were all guilty! Even if Ruby came back and saw what she did to those she spared, Weiss shouldn't care how her partner may look at her!

It was all going to be worth it in the end. Even if she killed and kept killing until the White Fang ceased to exist, it was all for the best.

If it can put a stop to all of this, wouldn't that be fine?

Growling, Weiss refocused on the bear faunus. She drew her arm back, Myrtenaster coming with it, the rapier aiming for the same spot but, this time, she swore it was going to stab through.

…Wouldn't it be alright?

The growl became a scream and Weiss closed her eyes before throwing her arm forward.

Myrtenaster flew…spun…and bounced as it landed on the ground. The Dust cartridges were undamaged as the weapon rolled away, the metal prongs rattling against the lot before it came to a rest.

Weiss fell to her knees but her arm remained outstretched after having hurled her rapier away from her. Her breath coming out in shaky gasps, the heiress brought that hand back to place her palm over her eyes.

I'm sorry, father, she apologized. You have a weak daughter.

She couldn't do it. Despite how this faunus and everyone like him had it coming, despite how it was her duty as the Schnee heiress to pay them back for all they've done while she remained safe in her castle, despite all her preparations and desires for this moment, in the end she just couldn't do it.

Her hand fell away, hanging weightily at her side. She moved sluggishly, her strength having been as depleted as her resolve as she slowly got to her feet. When she looked down at the faunus, it was not offence that was directed at him for being alive but disappointment at herself for letting him live. It was nowhere near enough to motivate her to pick up her weapon and finish what she started.

Even in the midst of defeat, she was aware that while she lost one battle, another was raging nearby. She heard the chattering reports of gunfire going off in the warehouse but it stopped shortly after she arrived. The tumult of a more distant but no less violent conflict told her that there were what had to be more of the White Fang deeper within the docks.

They came for the shipment, Weiss surmised, her suspicions and her connections having led her here when she learned about the Schnee freighter that was to arrive. At least something had gone right.

Maybe she'll find it in her to do it. Maybe the heat of battle and an actual threat on her life will chase away her troublesome reluctance to kill an unarmed and defeated foe. She could still succeed with her own plan.

And if Blake was with them?

Weiss never came up with an answer for that. After retrieving her weapon, the fencer looked up at the warehouse with the intent to summon a glyph that would propel her up to the roof where she could get a view of what was going on at the docks. Myrtenaster froze in mid-raise and Weiss blinked. What is…uh oh!

Weiss turned and sprinted out of the way just as something – no, someone – landed with enough force that the ground shook and broke beneath their feet, fissures splitting open the solid concrete to create long, jagged lines that extended around the impact zone. Weiss actually felt one open up beneath her trailing foot and it was that and the miniature earthquake that had the heiress tripping and falling.

She reacted accordingly, turning her fall into a roll that ended with her crouched and facing the new arrival, Myrtenaster held across her in case they proved to be an enemy. No such attack came though, the person straightening within the miniature crater they created before stepping to a more flat surface.

Weiss saw the pink bow in their ginger hair and her brows flew up in recognition while her rapier was lowered. "Penny?"

The girl had knelt to set down a load that she had been carrying in her arms. At hearing her name, she spun her head around to meet Weiss and the heiress nearly took a step back. Short as their interactions may be, Penny always spent them with a wide, goofy smile on her face.

She wasn't smiling now. When Weiss saw her freckled face, it was to see a severe expression with a deep frown and those usually bright green eyes tight and dark. It was an expression that Weiss would never imagine on such a perky girl and seeing it startled her.

It didn't last long for once she recognized who it was that called her, that wide smile was back and her eyes lit up with delight. "It is a pleasure to make your reacquaintance, Weiss!" She tilted her head. "Your hair looks wonderful tonight."

Weiss didn't respond, having switched from Penny to what she laid out on the ground. A short body clothed in red and black with a cape partially draped over their form. It was-

"Ruby!" Weiss hurried over, Penny reacting by looking down at the younger girl who lay unmoving before standing up. With the ginger-haired girl between her and Ruby, Weiss stopped, looking at what she could of her leader before focusing fully on Penny. "What happened?"

"Explosive impact," Penny informed, her smile shrinking while her gaze became unfocused. "A rather odd weapon. By all appearances it resembles a tool meant to facilitate balancing while walking but the unstable appearance of the projectile and resultant detonation implies a Dust crystal or something of similar nature imbued within it." A pause, then, "I don't think the primary function is meant for walking."

Weiss stared at Penny incredulously, hardly understanding what the girl said – or that she was even capable of such vocabulary – but able to figure out that someone had attacked her leader. "Was it White Fang?"

Penny shook her head. "No, it wasn't White Fang."

That didn't make sense and Weiss needed a second before asking, "But the White Fang's here aren't they?"

She nodded. "They are."

"But they didn't do this to Ruby?"

"They did not."

Again Weiss was struck into silence. That didn't add up at all. White Fang was here but they weren't responsible? What was going on? Before she could ask for clarification, Penny was stepping around her and said something that Weiss didn't catch. "What was that?"

"Upper left pectoral," Penny repeated, stopping in the middle of the crater she made. "I have to go, Weiss. You're here and you're her partner. You can help her."

"Penny, wait!" Weiss tried. She didn't understand any of what was going on!

"Don't worry, Weiss!" Penny gave her another of her wide smiles while she bent low with her knees. "I'm combat ready!"

Another miniature earthquake was initiated and Weiss had to fight to stay on her feet which she succeeded in this time. When Penny jumped, the crater seemed to get deeper and small chunks of the already-cracked lot became dislodged entirely. Weiss watched in stunned silence as that awkward girl easily cleared the two-story building she descended from less than a minute ago.

What is she? the fencer asked herself once Penny was no longer in sight. A groan brought her to a more pressing concern and Weiss was at her partner's side, setting Myrtenaster down so that she could free an arm to curl behind Ruby's back to lift her up from the ground. "Ruby, it's me! What happened? Who did this?"

The cloaked girl's face was scrunched up in pain, droplets of sweat wetting her face. Her hair was disheveled and how her eyes opened and closed deliriously made Weiss nervous. Before she could check to see what was the matter with her, Ruby quietly uttered, "B-Blake…"

Weiss froze, all thought ceasing to make room for that name that had her full attention. Blake was here? Was she responsible for hurting Ruby? "Blake did this?" Teeth gritting with quickly-building anger at the possibility that she had been right all along, Weiss pressed, "Where is she? I promise, whatever she did to you-"

Ruby shook her head with as much strength as she could muster. "No." Silver eyes fought to open so that they could look blearily up at Weiss. "Blake's in trouble. She needs help."

Weiss went still for a completely different reason. Blake was here, White Fang was here, but Blake needed help? And if Blake wasn't responsible and the White Fang wasn't responsible, then who was it that hurt Ruby? "Ruby, what-?"

"Weiss!" a new voice called. The heiress looked for the source to see it as none other than Yang, the blonde sprinting towards them. Even while running she was shouting, "Is that Ruby? What happened?"

That was what she would like to know if only people would stop distracting her! If there was one thing that she had been told so far from both Penny and Ruby though, it was that the White Fang were here and that Blake may actually be fighting against them. As confusing as that was, Weiss made a decision to believe it as she shouted, "Blake's in trouble!"

Yang skidded to a halt at that, startled, and her gaze flew from the two partners to the direction of the docks where the sounds of battle continued. "Blake?"

"She needs help!" Weiss insisted. "I've got Ruby so see what's going on!"

"But…" Yang spun her head between Weiss and the docks and the heiress could sense her internal strife. "But Ruby…"

"I have her, just go!"

Yang stayed where she was for a bit longer, her feet stomping with indecision as one foot was pointed to her sister while the other was stretched to where her partner may be. As much as they wanted to, they couldn't each have what they wanted. The deciding factor came when another round of shots resounded from the docks. Then, with a roar of frustration, the brawler disappeared to the ongoing conflict.

How Weiss wished to see for herself what was going on. Unfortunately, her leader chose that moment to fidget in her grip as she weakly called, "Yang! Blake!"

Weiss returned to her, placing her other hand on her chest to keep her down. "Yang's got Blake so just lay here and-"

Ruby whined just as Weiss touched something warm and wet.

Right then and there, that was all the heiress could think about. Time seemed to slow to a crawl, all other noise muffled as all Weiss could do was look down at where her hand lay against Ruby.

Upper left pectoral. It was around that area that Ruby's cloak had fallen over her and now Weiss could see that the cloth material was slick with this warm, wet thing that she could feel cling to her palm. It was hard to make out but Weiss noticed a different, darker shade of red that stained Ruby's cape…and it was spreading.

When she turned her palm up, she found that the blood was much more noticeable on her pale skin.

Oh, no, Weiss dreaded and before she could stop herself she was grabbing the edge of Ruby's cloak and throwing it to the side. The cross-shaped pins were bent and broken and fell away from the scythe-wielder's shoulders as the article was removed completely. …Oh my God.

Despite the color of her blouse, Weiss nonetheless saw how a patch of it was unnaturally blackened, a faint wisp of smoke issuing from Ruby's chest. Much like her cloak, the fabric around the hole that bubbled and bled was soaked with her vital fluid that gave off such a strong, iron-coated scent because of just how much of it there was.

Time came rushing back and with it a flood of adrenaline that got Weiss to act. Setting Ruby back down, Weiss pulled off her jacket and, to her horror, she found that the sleeve that had been supporting Ruby was also stained with her blood. She hadn't felt it, the thicker clothing having kept her from detecting that amount and Weiss was harshly ridiculing herself as she bunched up her jacket and pressed it against Ruby's chest.

Why didn't I see it sooner? No, it wasn't my fault. There was Penny, and Yang, and that damnable cloak. No excuse; I should've checked sooner! Clearly she was in pain! I shouldn't have wasted time asking such useless questions!

"Ruby," Weiss breathed out. "Ruby, I need you to talk to me. Say something!"

Ruby groaned when Weiss brought her jacket against the wound but was making no other noise. She was breathing but only now did Weiss notice a sickly, gray pallor that had come over her features that wasn't much different from her usual skin tone but served to implant plenty of fear into the heiress.

"Weiss…" Ruby mumbled. Those lids slid up so that silver orbs could look back up at her again.

That was good. She just needed to get Ruby to focus. Weiss fumbled for her pouch. "Yes, Ruby, it's me. I need you to do me a favor. Just stay awake, okay? Stay still but stay awake. Focus on my voice, okay?"

Vials of Dust fell and scattered along the ground as Weiss desperately searched. That smooth, round cylinder that was the speedloader that Ruby made for her also fell and rolled away. Weiss tried to quell her growing panic, needing to make sure that it didn't take over as each passing second she wasted on her search was a second that Ruby may not have.

The wound's deep, Weiss went over in her mind, silently demanding that the blood drenching her jacket would stop. She's bleeding a lot. How much time before it gets serious? She's still young; she doesn't have that much blood to lose to begin with! I've got to seal it quick!

Even if she stopped the bleeding she didn't know if that was the only thing she had to worry about. It was the most obvious one but could a lung or some other vital organ been damaged? How did this even happen in the first place? Ruby must've gotten taken by surprise or her Aura hadn't been at its peak to protect her from the full blow. If anything, as dreadful as it was, Ruby may've been lucky as it could've been much worse.

"Weiss," Ruby repeated, more insistent this time.

"Ruby, stay still," Weiss ordered again just as she felt the plastic wrap.

"But Weiss, it's not what you think…" Though her eyes were glazed with pain, the younger girl looked up at Weiss imploringly. "Blake's not White Fang. I think I even saw her cat ears." A brief smile twitched onto her face. "They actually look kind of cute…"

That was what she was worried about? "I don't care about that right now and neither should you." Weiss removed the small, black packet from her pouch. With her keeping one hand on her jacket, she made use of her teeth to rip open the package. "I'm going to close the wound and you're going to be fine. Just stay with me."

The powder that Weiss dumped onto the wound after removing her jacket was a first aid tool that filled the demands of Huntsmen and Huntresses needing to immediately treat injuries that may occur in the field. Considering what kind of injuries were expected to be inflicted by fighting giant creatures, the powder was a blessing when it came to dealing with it, promoting hemostasis no matter how terrible the wound may be. Not only that…

Weiss placed her hand on Ruby's chest, ignoring the uncomfortable sensation of the mixed powder and blood while she flared her Aura. The agent acted immediately, not only hardening but expanding to properly fill the wound cavity.

It was a temporary but potentially life-saving fix. Not only did it seal the wound but it would keep everything in place until a proper healer or trained medical personnel at the proper facilities could take over.

Weiss really hoped she did it in time. Beneath her hand, she could feel how Ruby's chest rose and fell with a quickening respiration. That was a bad sign. It meant that Ruby had already lost enough blood that her body was compensating by increasing the rate of functions with what she did have left. Heart rate had to be increasing along with her accelerated breathing.

"Weiss…" Ruby whispered.

"It's okay, Ruby." Weiss was struggling to keep her voice from trembling. Needing to do something for her and her partner, the heiress took Ruby's hand in one of her own.

She wished she hadn't. Ruby's hand was cold. That scared her. Ruby was never cold; always full of warmth and energy and life…

"I'm going to call for help." Weiss reached for her discarded jacket and to the pocket where she knew her scroll would be. She had no idea what was taking the police or any other emergency services so long; someone had to notice that something was going on at this point. "Just breathe, Ruby. You're going to be fine so just…" Her voice hitched, the strain starting to get to her with all these things that said that Ruby wasn't fine. "Just…don't go, okay?" Her vision started to blur. "Please don't go."

As she pulled her jacket to her, all she heard from Ruby was her breathing. Then, "I'm sorry, Weiss."

Why was she apologizing? She didn't do anything wrong. If anything, it was Weiss who should be saying she was sorry. If she hadn't left her partner's side, if she had been with her, she could've prevented this from happening. "There's nothing for you to be sorry for. Just breathe, Ruby. Stop talking and breathe."

The same time that Weiss's fingers took hold of her scroll, smaller ones curled weakly around her other hand.

Heedless to Weiss's instructions, Ruby whispered, "I wish I…knew sooner. I wish I said…more."

What was she talking about? Seeing that her scroll was just as stained, Weiss wiped it against what section of her jacket that was still clean in order to clear the screen. Fearing that this was another sign of Ruby's worsening condition, Weiss begged, "Ruby, save your strength."

"Wish I…helped…more…"

"Help with what?" When she didn't get an answer, Weiss repeated. "Help with what?"

Silence.

Ruby's hand was not just cold anymore. It was cold and the fingers relaxed as it became so very limp. When Weiss went just as still, she couldn't make out Ruby's breathing. She turned. "Ruby?"

She wasn't breathing because her chest was no longer moving to fulfill such an action. Her head lolled away from Weiss, the position and how her red-tipped bangs fell over her eyes almost preventing Weiss from seeing that they were closed. Her lips were slightly parted from one last release of breath.

Refusing to believe what she was seeing, Weiss maintained her grip on Ruby's hand. Choosing to let go of her scroll instead, Weiss pressed her fingers against Ruby's neck, desperately searching…and then having them fall away in defeat.

Ruby was gone.


Blake carefully inched her head away from her cover, trying to get a proper look around it. She had to quickly duck back though, her efforts being rewarded with the slugs that ricocheted off the leg of the crane she hid behind.

They were shooting at her.

Although Sun managed to get out of danger, Blake had stood there, unsure of what to do. A part of her wanted to reengage Roman but another part held her back, afraid of what she would do if she met him in another violent clash. In the end, it didn't matter for when she prepared to move – whether to fight or run she wasn't sure -, another wave of reinforcements that dropped from the Bullheads kept her distracted when they fired on her.

She let herself be driven back to the crane, placing it between her and them as she tried to figure out what to do.

Her own comrades were attacking her. Whether this latest group knew of her previous ties or not, they were still former colleagues. She may not have fought at their side but she once fought with them all the same.

Her cat ears were still visible and they had to have seen them at least. That was doing nothing to deter them though. She was a faunus who had been restricting her efforts to the sole human who was here tonight but it was a human that the White Fang had a deal with and were even protecting from her.

Another volley of projectiles were fired but Blake wasn't in any danger of being hit by them. No, she knew their strategy. They were keeping her pinned down, restricting her movements. While she thought they may just be distracting her while the rest of them either retreated or worked to finish what they started, her last look revealed that there were a number of them trying to circle around to flank her.

Trap, surround, and finish her. That was their plan and she wasn't doing anything to stop them.

She was a Huntress-in-training. Before that, she was a promising agent who was selected to be trained in the use of weapons, stealth, and Aura to become a formidable fighter. She was leagues above a typical White Fang foot soldier and just as Sun was able to take them out so easily, she could do the same.

But that would mean fighting one of her own.

Blake looked down at Gambol Shroud, sword and sheath in hand and ready to do her bidding. Once she built her weapon, she quickly used it to strike back at her human oppressors. Whether by laying waste to cybernetic sentinels or beating an intolerant human into the ground, Gambol Shroud had been responsible for the havoc she had willingly taken part in but only against humans.

Never had Blake risen so much as a hand against another faunus. As horrible as the things she may've done were, it was always for the betterment of her race. When she had taken to violence, she did so with the idea that it was for the best for her people. It was one of the only things that she had left and now she was in a situation where she may have to throw that away too.

It was more than that though. By attacking the White Fang, she would no longer be just a runaway. When word got back that Blake Belladonna had engaged the White Fang in combat, she would be labeled as a traitor. The organization would not be able to let that slide as easily.

And Adam would also learn about it.

So what should she do? Run? Leave and disappear before she dug herself in a deeper hole?

Sun got away from Torchwick but she didn't know if he was still here. Was she really going to abandon someone who helped her and willingly followed her into danger?

And Ruby. Oh, Ruby…

She saw Ruby take the hit that Roman shot at her while she was distracted. She heard Ruby scream. Blake didn't know why her former leader was here but if she was even remotely responsible for putting Ruby in danger…

There were many things that Blake knew she could never forgive herself for, but if something happened to Ruby she didn't know how she'd possibly be able to live with herself.

She had no choice. Resigning herself to this latest sin with the thought that one more was really no matter, Blake closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Right after she released it she leaped out from cover, her sheath coming up in preparation to guard her against the next shots that were undoubtedly about to be fired.

That was when the meteor hit.

Blake had enough time to see the White Fang members stretched out in their semi-circle before catching sight of the golden contrail of the shooting star that struck right in the center of them. The results were catastrophic, the gathered faunus being picked up and tossed about like leaves in the wind. Others who weren't in the immediate area found themselves tumbling to the ground due to the shockwave that followed the eruption, the ground upheaving astonishingly and knocking them off their feet.

Blake nearly met the same fate despite being much farther away. Halting her charge, all she could do when she recovered was stand and stare with wide-eyed amazement.

A fiery blaze roared spectacularly. Although concrete shouldn't be a proper settlement for a pyre unless you had the proper materials, the flames stretched high and burned hot enough that Blake could feel the sweltering heat that radiated what had to be all across the docks.

The source of such hellfire rose right in the middle of it. While the flames danced with an intense mixture of red, orange, and yellow, there was a patch of brilliant gold that sparkled with a radiance that put the entire thing to shame. Blake was immediately drawn to it; how that gold descended as if a fiery cape from the head of the warrior who may as well be the embodiment of such a cataclysmic element.

It could almost be described as pretty until one saw the points of crimson located at that same head. Whereas the hair was alluring as it personified that outward beauty a flame could attain with its appearance, it was those scathing eyes that represented the true nature of fire: to burn everything it touched.

Yang Xiao Long has arrived, and she was pissed.