Against the Crowd

"Oh! What about this one!"

Blake sighed, doing her best to hide the small smile that was growing ever larger as Ruby chattered on. Still, despite the air of indifference that she was attempting to project, she looked at the picture Ruby had pointed out in her book of weapons.

"I don't think using a weapon twice your height would be very effective." Blake said.

"Well I'd get a smaller one then!" Ruby said with a smile.

"A waste of resources. You'd have to get new ones made as you grew... though that might not be a problem for you..."

"Hey! I'll be tall one day, just you watch!"

"Of course you will..." Blake said, turning back to her own book.

"Hmph." Ruby sat in sullen silence for a few moments before perking up and shoving her small book back towards Blake. "Well which one do you like then?"

Blake rolled her eyes. "Why do you care so much about weapons anyway." She groused, but at Ruby's insistence she flipped through the pages illustrating the some of the more memorable weapon types wielded by hunters and huntresses.

"I like this one."

Ruby snatched the book back and looked at Blake's choice. "Ooooo! A ... ka...tana...? Oh It fold too! I didn't know you could make swords go bendy bendy like that..."

"That's surprising, considering that your favorite weapon so far is the collapsible battle ax."

"That's different." Ruby said. "The axes didn't bend, they just snapped back into the handle, like..."

"A sliding door?"

"Yeah! Thanks Blake."

"You're welcome."

With that Ruby turned back to her book. She'd worked through most of the contents already, memorizing the stats of every weapon as she went. In a few days she'd finish the book and be begging Tukson for another one. Not that he minded providing Ruby with questionable litterature for children. Somehow her cuteness factor turned a psychopathic obsession with weapons into an adorable character trait.

That, and Ruby actually payed for books, unlike Blake who just devoured them and put them back on the shelves.

"You two okay back there?" Tukson called from the other side of the shop. Blake's sensitive ears picked out the smooth sound of leather sliding against leather as Tukson shelved some of his older books.

"We're fine!" Ruby called back cheerily.

Blake flipped a page in her book silently and sighed quietly as Ruby began humming tunelessly to herself.

*Ping!*

Both girls glanced in the direction of the door as the bell rang.

"Welcome to Tukson's book trade." Came the man's familiar catch phrase. "Home to every book under the sun."

There was a rustle of cloth as door thunked shut a moment later. "Really? This place?" A low feminine voice replied. Ruby stiffened slightly, eyes growing wide. "Well, it is remarkable cozy, I can see why she likes it here..."

Blake watched as Ruby stood and, tucking her book under one arm, made her way to the front of the store. After a moment, Blake got up and trailed behind her.

Standing in the front of the store was a young woman in a flowing crimson dress. She glanced around lazily, taking in the dusty shelves and mountains of books without really paying them any attention at all. Ruby came to a stop in front of her.

"... Hi Cinder..." She said sheepishly. Blake could picture the small, winsome smile she would wear as she looked up at the woman.

"So this is where you've been going Ruby?" Cinder asked.

"Yeah..."

"Hmm." Cinder ruffled Ruby's hair absentmindedly. "I trust she hasn't been giving you any trouble?" The woman asked Tukson.

"Ah- No ma'am. She just stops by to take a look at some of my books."

Cinder looked over to were Blake stood, half hidden behind a shelf. She smirked. "And to play with her new friend I assume."

Ruby nodded. "I... um..."

"Shhh." Cinder cut Ruby off. "No need to apologize or make excuses. I'm glad to see you've been keeping yourself well occupied." She looked back over at Blake. "And before you ask, yes your new friend can come visit on your birthday. That's what you were planning on asking me yes?"

"wuh?" Cinder just gave the girl a look. "Ah Thank you Cinder!" Ruby jumped up and hugged the woman "Thank you, thank you."

With a much put upon sigh, Cinder extracted herself from the hug and set Ruby back on the floor. "Calm down Ruby." She said, before turning back to Tukson. "She's payed for all of those books that have been appearing in her room?"

"Of course." He replied, a small grin on his face. "Though, when I opened my shop I never though one of my best customers would be a little girl."

Cinder smiled mysteriously. "She defies expectations." She said, holding out her hand to Ruby. The little girl took it with a big smile. "Shall we go then? You still have tasks to complete."

"Yeah!" Ruby waved over her shoulder as they left the shop. "See you later Blake!"

Blake waved once. "Bye Ruby." When the door thunked shut she and Tukson shared a glance.

Then next day Ruby showed up at the shop later than usual with a tired smile on her face. "I... just had to do some stuff before... Cinder let me come." She murmured to Blake before plopping down in her favorite corner and leaning into the older girl.

"Um... Ruby, what are you doing?"

"I'm sleepy." She said, grabbing Blake's arm and snuggling even closer. "Mmmm."

Blake sighed. "... Yesterday, you said something about a birthday party?"

"Oh! right..." Ruby sat up, before a massive yawn overtook her. She blinked the tears from her eyes as she rested her head on Blake's shoulder again. "Can you... come over on... the day after tomorrow?"

"I should be able to."

"Great... good night Blake."

"It's two in the afternoon Ruby."

"Yeah... the middle of the night."

Blake sighed again before grabbing her book. If she knew Ruby at all, she'd be back up on her feet and bouncing off the walls in twenty minutes or less. Until then Blake was content to read her book and let Ruby use her as an impromptu pillow.

It was getting colder as autumn approached, and the little red head was pleasantly warm.

Ruby still hadn't woke up when Tukson came back to check on them. After taking in the scene he just handed Blake another book so she wouldn't have to move after finishing her first one. "Are you planning to go the rally today?" He asked quietly.

Blake glanced away. "Yeah... I was thinking about inviting Ruby along..."

Tukson frowned. "Sure about that Blake?" He said. "I know she's your friend. But she's still human."

"I know... and that's why I want to bring her." Blake said. "We're supposed to work together with humans right? So what better way to show that unity than having a human with us at the march."

"It's a good idea in concept Blake." Tukson said. "It's just that in real life things rarely work out that neatly." Blake didn't say anything. "It's your choice if you want to ask her along, but just remember that her being there could cause a lot of problems."

"I know that!"

Tukson shrugged again and moved around the shelf, leaving the two girls behind.

Blake huffed quietly as she returned to reading, but the book couldn't distract her from her thoughts.

Tukson was right, bringing Ruby along to the rally would open the door to all sorts of problems. The other faunus might attack her, or the police might notice her and use Ruby's presence as a reason to attack, or Cinder might show up and do god knows what. Even off the top of her head it was easy for Blake to see how all of these things might happen.

But she still wanted to bring her new friend along. Blake wanted to prove that humans and faunus could get along, despite how many people said it was impossible. Ruby was a good person, and Blake knew she didn't care if someone was a human or a faunus. In a sense, she almost wanted to show Ruby off to the rest of the world. It would be like saying "This little girl can get along with us! Why can't the rest of you?"

Ruby shifted at Blake's side "You're thinking really hard Blake." She said. "What's up?"

"Huh?" Blake glanced over to the younger girl. "Oh, you're awake now?"

"Yep!" Ruby smiled, "You make a great pillow!"

Blake rolled her eyes. "That's heart warming."

"Yeah." Ruby said. "So why were you thinking so hard Blake? Your ears are red."

"Wha-?" Blake's hands snapped up to touch her ears. Well, they were a little warm but-

Ruby giggled. "Made you look!"

Blake blinked once. "That... was surprisingly cunning."

"Huh?"

"Never mind." Blake closed the book and set it to the side. "Ruby, I... do you have to be home soon?"

"Huh?" Ruby blinked once. "No, Cinder said I don't have to be home until dinner since I got all my other stuff done already." She looked a bit put out at that though. "It's cause she's busy, so she won't be there either..."

"I see." Blake said. "Um, Ruby. Tukson and I have somewhere to go soon."

"Really? Where?"

"To... a faunus rights rally. And I was wondering if you, maybe, wanted to come with us."

"Oh, okay... " Ruby nodded once. "What's a rally?"

Blake sighed. By the looks of it she had a lot of explaining to do.

"You know that faunus... that we, aren't really treated well by most people right?"

Ruby nodded, frowning sadly in a way that made her eyes shimmer dully.

"A rally is what we do to protest- to disagree -with the people who treat us poorly. We all meet up in one place, and we march around the city letting everyone know that we don't appreciate being treated like animals." Blake glared off into the distance, her hand clenching into a fist.

"I'll definitely go then!" Ruby said.

"Really?"

"Yeah! You're my friend. I don't like people being mean to you!"

Blake smiled at that. "Thanks Ruby." She said. "Just remember to stay close to Tukson and me the whole time okay? There won't be many humans there."

Ruby nodded. "Okay. When do we leave?"

"Right now actually." Tukson's voice called as he rounded the shelves. "It's almost three, so if we want to be there on time we should go." He gave Ruby a brief glance. "I'm still not sold on the idea of bringing you along... But you're a good kid, just stay with Blake and keep your nose clean."

Ruby tilted her head sideways. "But... why would I need to wash my face?"

Tukson chuckled. "It means stay out of trouble, kid. Now let's go, you can leave your books and heavier things here. We'll be walking for a while so you probably won't want to carry them."

"Okie dokie!" Tukson put all of their stuff in a small safe behind the counter and locked the door to the shop behind them.

The three walked down quiet streets. Usually, in a situation like this Ruby would chatter and scamper around: looking at street signs, talking to strangers, that sort of thing. But the solemn air around Tukson and Blake served to mute her enthusiasm. She could tell that this 'rally' thing was going to be very serious, and that she maybe shouldn't even be there. So she wouldn't give the other faunus a reason to tell her to leave by acting childish.

The sun still high when they made it to the meeting place, a small square off one of Vale's larger plaza's. There were humans in the shops around the edges and just passing through, but they were offset by the truly massive numbers of faunus that filled the square.

Until then, Ruby had never realized how few faunus she'd seen in her life, despite Vale having one of the larger percentage population of them. Occationally she would catch a glimpse of one or two walking down the street, or in a restaurant, but there were always far more humans around. Now, the situation was inverted.

She watched in awe as people, with so many different animal characteristics, mingled in the square. She watched a man wolf ears playfully put one with tusks into a head lock. A woman with scales along her neck was talking with two others with furry ears or feathers.

But what drew Ruby's attention even more was the way they moved.

Now, having spent so much time around Cinder, Ruby knew what unconscious grace looked like. The beautiful woman seemed more to dance through life, rather than walk and move like a normal person. Blake was sort of like that as well, though her movements were filled with all the awkwardness of youth.

Tukson always had a sort of power to his actions, but the rest of these faunus...

Snake faunus looked like they were sliding through the air effortlessly. Wolf and deer faunus didn't jog, they loped with an economy of motion that humans lacked. Bird faunus damn near seemed to fly with each step they took.

It was beautiful.

"Hey Ruby."

"Huh?" Ruby looked back at Tukson. He seemed... different now, indomitable in every action, like a glacier.

Like the weight of pretending to be human had been lifted off his shoulders.

"Don't get separated from us okay?"

"Oh, yeah." She picked up her stride as Tukson and Blake moved deeper into the crowd. Still she couldn't keep her eyes to herself as she passed them.

Really, apart from the obvious animal characteristics, faunus didn't look that different from humans, but how they moved was just a world apart. Subconsciously, Ruby started trying to mimic them: smooth out a stride here, eliminate a needless motion there. She was concentrating so hard she almost bumped into Tukson's leg when he drew to a stop.

"What's a human doing here?" The man, a rabbit faunus, in front of Tukson asked. All of a sudden all of the nearby people were looking at her. She could feel their eyes sweep across her. The looks were curious, and some were cold, but at least none were outright hostile.

"She's with us." Tukson said. "A friend of Blake's here. Wanted to come and show her support."

At this Ruby nodded vigorously.

"Che." The man shrugged. "No harm in that I guess, just make sure she stays out of trouble."

"We will."

And like she had passed some kind of test, everyone went back to ignoring Ruby. She didn't really mind, it meant she could watch them without it being weird or anything. She made sure to stay next to Blake and Tukson as more and more faunus gathered in the square.

About five minutes after that several faunus went around distributing banners and signs. Blake had her down, a small piece of colored paper on a meter stick that she'd brought with her when they'd left the book store. A snake faunus handed Ruby an equally small sign, which she excepted with a big bow and grateful smile.

Over towards the edge of the crowd Ruby saw a group of older looking faunus talking with a young, silver haired man. The rest of the faunus seemed to regard him with a sort of grudging respect. And he seemed to treat them with equal, if not greater, consideration.

"That's Ozpin." Tukson murmured, at her side. "He's been Vale's unofficial link between the White Fang and the government for a few years now. Been trying to push our case inside the government and he's always been on our side when it came down to it. Heard he just got made headmaster of Beacon Academy, where they train hunters."

"Really?" Ruby asked. That must be why he looked so distinguished and graceful, just like the faunus she realized.

"Yeah." Tukson said. Then another group of faunus moved over to where Ozpin stood, blocking the man from their sight. "He usually doesn't come to the rallys though, he might be asking us to postpone it..."

"But I thought you said he was on your side. Why would he ask you to stop then?"

"From what I've heard from my friends, he's one who always looks at the bigger picture. Maybe he thinks protesting today will hurt us."

"But sometimes you just can't wait anymore." Blake interjected. "Sometimes, playing the long game just doesn't pay off when you need it to. And that's why we're protesting today, no matter what."

Ruby looked back and forth between the two of them. "Did... something happen?"

Tukson sighed. "Shnee dust company opened up a new factory recently. They hire a lot of faunus and usually treat them poorly. That's what we're marching for today."

"Oh..." This was all more than a bit confusing for Ruby, but she was doing her best to stay focused. In any case, she could tell this was really important to her friends, so she would act the part even if she didn't get everything that was happening.

The quiet conversations continued for a few more minutes before an middle aged lion faunus climbed up on a statue in the middle of the square, waving his arms once to gather everyone's attention.

"Looks like we're starting." Tukson murmured.

"Friends!" The lion shouted. His voice was deep, resonant, carrying through the air like the beating of a drum. He began giving a speech, reminding all of them why they were there. To oppose the injustices of society, to show the rest of Vale that they had a voice, and they would be heard.

The Faunus around Ruby nodded and cheered in time with his words, she saw smiles when he talked about a better future, even though she caught a glimpse of Ozpin, off to the side of the plaza with a small frown on his face.

And then they marched.

There had to have been over a thousand of them. Ruby couldn't even see the edges of the crowd after they started walking, with more and more faunus joining in with each moment.

Cheers and chants sprang up at random through the crowd, but in the middle of the press of bodies she could barely make out one voice from the next.

By her side Blake raised up her sign proudly, waving it with determination as she joined in with all of the chants. She probably knew all the words by heart, and as time went on Ruby began to pick up on the words as well, cheering and smiling as the march continued.

The air sparked with energy, Ruby could feel it, the aura in the air, the power. So many people, all united in a common cause.

Though Ruby didn't know it, by the time the Rally reached the factory there were over five thousand faunus marching. So many that they filled entire streets, stopping traffic and drawing countless eyes.

They reached the factory, intent on walking right up to the factory itself, so everyone would know exactly what the White Fang was about.

They were stopped at the gates.

Ruby, now sitting atop Tukson's shoulders and waving her banner with all the energy in her eight year old body, saw a military barricade set up at the entrance to the grounds. Men in silver and blue armor, at least fifty of them, stood in a phalanx, riot shields out, dust rifles at the ready.

She watched as one held up a megaphone and shouted something at the crowd. Boos and jeers were the only response. The mass of faunus pressed forward, just a few scant feet away from the barricade. The soldiers tensed, but neither side was making the first move.

The faunus quieted slightly, sliding from chants to murmurs as they eyed the soldiers warily.

"Tukson..." Ruby asked nervously, "What's going on...?" She didn't like this new feeling in the air.

"Damn Shnee company hired mercs from Atlas." He growled out. "They're trying to get us to leave, but the hell that's gonna happen!"

The murmuring of the crowd grew larger, rippling throughout the mass of men and women. Ruby shivered with anticipation.

"Yeah!" She pointed her sign at the barricade like a lance, "Out of the way!" She shouted at them "For justice!"

Her battle cry was taken up by those around her. "Jus-tice! Jus-tice! Jus-tice!" It spread through the rally, like a blaze. One of the soldiers seemed to notice Ruby, he gestured to the man with the megaphone, pointing out the sole human amid the mass of faunus.

Even as the chanting of the rally grew louder, the commander started speaking frantically into his scroll. After a moment of listening, he nodded once, turning his attention back to the almost mob in front of him.

They were nearly at the breaking point, Ruby's chant was like a small bit of snow, breaking free at the very top of a mountain. It gained momentum with each passing moment, and, if they waited, the guards would be facing an avalanche.

The commander tossed the microphone aside and cupped is lips. Even though she couldn't hear him in the slightest, Ruby could read the terrifying word as it tore from his lips.

"FIRE!"

She screamed as the dust guns roared. Tear gas grenades broke over the crowd, causing nearly every faunus to stagger, but they rallyed in a heartbeat. They charged the barricade.

The rifles couldn't be using live dust rounds, they couldn't! Ruby was forced to watch, swept up in the tide as the mob crashed into the barricade, was forced back by fire and sword, only to surge forward again.

There was screaming and shouting and tearing and turning and pushing and pulling.

Blake was out of sight, it was only Tukson's tight grip that kept Ruby safe from being trampled.

"You have to get out of here!" Tukson shouted at her. His height gave him an advantage, he spotted a clear ally off to the side. "I'm going to throw you over there!" He pointed. "Can you make it?"

Ruby stopped her trembling long enough nod. She could do that distance by herself. Tensing, she gathered her aura. "Now!" He shouted, and she flew.

The shouting and screaming only grew louder as Ruby passed overhead, the sound of gunfire long since drowned out by the mob. She tucked and rolled, coming to a stop with nary a hair out of place, but back in the street things were only growing even worse.

The faunus had nearly broken through the barricade, she made out the glint of steel armor on the ground and winced as stomping feet and battered bodies obscured it. But there were more guards now, coming in from the behind and attacking the mob from both sides.

For a moment it looked like it could go either way. The mercenaries had tactics and equipment on their side, but the mob had pure numbers. Even against a few hundred soldiers, the might of five thousand faunus was no laughing matter.

Then the bullheads broke the skyline. Ruby watched in horror as two jets flew over the crowd, dropping tear gas and suppressing fire before circling back. The mob rippled beneath the onslaught, like a pond in the rain.

Caught between a hammer and an anvil, the faunus did the only thing they could, they broke.

The faunus scattered into the alleys, and Ruby was swept up with the tide. She was forced to use her semblance almost constantly just to keep from getting trampled. But before she could disappear, the group she was fleeing with ran into another platoon of mercenaries.

In the clash that followed, Ruby slid through the cracks, tears streaming down her face as she looked back, and saw the woman who had handed her the banner drop to the ground, clutching at her chest as her pristine white sweater slowly darkened. In her other hand she held something wet and red, the large gaping wound at a fallen guards throat revealed just what.

Ruby ran.

She ran through twisting ally ways and darkening streets. She ran past startled passerby and angry cops besides. She didn't know where she was going, all she knew was the nightmare behind her. And so she ran, without time or direction. She ran till her aura was almost completely spent.

In a distant alley, she collapsed against the cool metal of a dumpster and tried vainly to stop her tears.

She only had a few moments of stillness before the sound of footsteps caught up to her.

"Let go!" A young voice called. Blake! There was a harsh crack, then a man spoke.

"Shut it, kitty." He said. "God damnit, we better be payed overtime for this, hunting fucking strays."

"Just lay off." Another voice said. "We'll just sweep this ally and then get this one back to base." The other grunted in acknowledgement.

By now Ruby could see them. Two mercenaries, one of them dragging a barely conscious Blake by her wrist as they walked down the ally. For now the shadows protected her, but there was nowhere for her to hide. They'd notice her in just a few more steps.

And they were going to kidnap Blake too. Ruby couldn't run away.

With a quick jerk of her wrist, she tore off the small necklace she was wearing. On the end of the chain was a small yellow dust crystal, a gift from Cinder. She grasped it tightly in between her hands. "Please work..."

"Hey, what-"

Ruby squeezed her hands together and pushed. Lighting erupted from her fists, arcing into the nearest guard and sending him flying backwards.

Even as the second one turned in surprise Ruby was moving, she passed him, snatching the dust rifle from his loose grip. She almost crashed into the wall herself instead of jumping off of it. But she managed, landing on top of the dumpster and aiming the gun shakily at both mercenaries.

"Holy shit!" The first merc was still down and the second was looking around frantically, trying to figure out where the lighting had come from, and why a little girl dressed in red was holding his gun.

"Please leave..." Ruby said softly as the first merc pushed himself to his feet. Thankfully the second dust rifle was out of reach.

"What the hell?"

"Hey, little girl, you better put that down before you hurt yourself." With a casual toss the man sent Blake tumbling across the alleyway. Ruby began to tremble.

"Leave. Now." She said again.

"Where's the other one?"

"It's just this stupid kid. Who's going to give me back my gun, or else I'm going to rip it out of her twitching fingers."

"I said leave!"

"Shut up you fucking brat!" The merc charged fist up, the second moved to pick up his gun.

"Go away!" Ruby pulled the trigger. She held it down, spraying the entire alleyway, eyes scrunched shut until the clip finally clicked empty. Only then did she dare open her eyes.

Both mercenaries were laid out against the far wall of the alley, blown backwards by the concussive force of the dust rounds, she didn't spare them a second glance before running over to Blake's side.

She almost collapsed on the way there from aura depletion, but she made it to her friend's side. "Blake!" Ruby grabbed Blake's shoulders, shaking weakly. "Blake! Are you okay?"

"... Ruby...?" the Faunus muttered, her eyes blinking in and out of focus. "What...?"

"Blake!" Ruby tried to pull her friend into a hug.

"Over here!" Something collided with Ruby's side, sending her sprawling across the hard pavement. She cried out as she rolled to a slow stop. Several dark figures poured into the alley. One was looking at Blake, another was checking the Mercenaries.

"Thank god. She's fine, just got knocked around a bit."

"Looks like someone did us a favor." Someone spat on the mercenaries.

"There's another one."

"She's a human."

Suddenly Ruby wasn't on the ground anymore. Some one had picked her up by the throat, and pinned her against a wall. She could see nothing but red hair, red like blood, and very angry eyes.

"She was probably working with them. There's no way Blake would get caught otherwise."

The others looked uncomfortable, but no one made a move to stop him. "She's just a child."

The man's grip tightened, "So is Blake."

Ruby struggled weakly, legs kicking out into empty air, hands clutching desperately at the fingers slowly constricting around her throat. "Please..." She whispered. "Please..."

The man said nothing. Black spots slowly began to obscure Ruby's vision, and she could feel herself slowly slipping away. Her struggles grew weaker and weaker until...

She couldn't... even move... anymore. Silver eyes tracked her own hands as they fell down to her sides.

Yang... was right then... Ruby really was worthless...

"Adam stop...!"

Blake... what?

The grip loosened, but barely, only enough for her to draw a tiny sliver of air.

"She's my friend, Adam! She saved me from them!"

"What?"

Silence for a few seconds. Ruby was held in limbo, on the border of consciousness. Then: "You heard her Adam. Let the girl go."

The hand vanished, and Ruby fell to the pavement, collapsing. Heavy coughs wracked her frame as her body reacquainted itself with the concept of breathing. She was shivering violently.

Around her, voices continued talking, though she didn't have the energy to listen.

"We have to keep moving, more will be here soon."

"What about those two."

A snort. "No need to worry about them anymore, bastards."

"Let's go then, back to base. Arthur should have already made it."

"Wait."

"Adam we don't have time damnit!"

Someone grabbed Ruby by the back of her shirt, hoisting her up. "We're taking her with us. She can tell her story to Arthur and we'll see if he buys it."

"Whatever, just go!"

Ruby hung, limp in the man's grasp, as the pavement rushed by beneath her. She felt more than saw her captors taking sharp turns and narrow roads. She didn't have the strength to move anymore, even when they came to a stop and entered a small building. Her captor bumped Ruby's shoulder on the door frame as the entered.

The room was warm, and in the moment of stillness, Ruby's eyes slowly drifted closed.

...

"- Blake is vouching for her Adam. What more evidence do you need?"

Ruby awoke to the sound of voices.

"I still don't like it. She's a human."

"She's a child!"

"Well that hasn't stopped them now has it!?"

Slowly, Ruby opened her eyes. She was sitting in a wooden chair. In front of her, the red headed man, Adam?, was arguing with the lion faunus from the rally.

"That doesn't matter." The lion said. "We have to be better than them. We have to prove that we aren't animals."

It sounded like a worn out argument. Almost as worn out as the faunus looked when he gave it.

"And that's been helping us so much, hasn't it old man?" There were others in the room as well. They were keeping silent but even Ruby could tell that they were on Adam's side. "Well I'm fucking done with it. If they're expecting animals, I say we give them the savage beasts that they're so fucking afraid of."

"That won't help anything Adam."

"If they'll never respect us, then at least they will fear us."

The lion faunus just looked so tired, he glanced over at Ruby and sighed. "Perhaps..." He said. "But first I would like to hear what you have to say, child."

Ruby shrank back into her chair. "Me?"

The man nodded. "We know that you saved Blake, and for that you have my deepest thanks. I won't question if you managed to defeat two fully grown men on your own or if you had some help-" Adam started to say something, but he was silenced with a sharp glare. "-but, I would like to know why you did it."

Ruby blinked, frowning in confusion. "Why... I saved Blake?"

"Yes."

"She's my friend..."

The men and women around the room shared glances, but the lion faunus pushed onward.

"That is all? You protected her just because she was your friend?"

"Well... yeah." Ruby said. "I couldn't just leave her." To her it was just the simplest thing in the world. Why were they asking her to explain it?

The man smiled. It was a small thing, but it looks so very bright.

"Thank you child."

Ruby nodded. He was about to turn when she shook her head once "I- I'm sorry." She whispered.

"Oh?"

She clenched her fists at sides. "I'm sorry that we're so evil..." She scrunched her eyes shut, trying to prevent tears from running down her cheeks. The massacre flashed across her eyes. So much red. "I'm sorry that we all deserve to burn."

"There there, child." The man whispered. He placed a comforting hand on Ruby's shoulder. "You saved someone's life tonight. Let that be enough for now." No one else moved as Ruby slowly spent her tears. Last vestiges of energy gone, she drifted off to sleep in the chair once more.

With a sigh Arthur turned back to the rest of the room. There was new determination in his eyes, new life. "This is why we cannot just be savage beasts." He said, gesturing at the little girl. "These innocents, who have pure hearts and strong convictions. They will be our allies, but only if we prove that we are worthy of them."

Not even Adam dared to speak.

"This child defeated two fully grown men to save one of our own. We would not be animals if we repayed that kindness with senseless bloodshed, we would be monsters." He sighed, place both hands on the wooden table in the middle of the room. "But all the same," He said. "Adam is right when he says we cannot allow things to continue as they are."

"If nothing else, there must be justice."


"There are several reported deaths among the mercenaries who headed off the faunus riot at the Schnee Dust Factory. Due to police efforts however, there were no civilian casualties and the rioters were quickly dispersed."

"According to the head of the Vale P.D., the faunus have already begun to retaliate. The bodies of two Atlas mercenaries were discovered in an alley more than a dozen blocks from the riots shortly after the event. Preliminary reports suggest that they were caught off guard while completing their patrol and brutally murdered..."


A/N: And that's the chapter. Due to some computer problems, I typed up this chapter in word pad, which lacks a spell check. I know I'm a pretty terrible speller on my own, and I did my best to edit my mistakes, but I apologize for any mistakes that may have slipped through. Fanfiction has it's own spell check of course, but... well we'll see how it goes. Once again a big thanks to CrimsonHeresy, rwbybomb21, Mystic Shadow, patrick the almighty observer, jduncan1, P.T. Piranha, Blighted114, NyrocX, we love us, and my one guest for leaving reviews, along with everyone who followed and favorited. This chapter... was a bit painful to get out, so know that all of you inspired me to keep going and get it finished on time.

Now for some general notes. For those who want more clarification of some of the specifics of this chapter. Arthur, the Lion Faunus, is the current leader of the White Fang. Adam is just respected due to his strength, he's not in a position of leadership. Arthur was the original leader, and he has yet to step down. In my mind, it was an event like this that drove him to resign and let more militant faunus take control of the White Fang. Whether or not that will happen in the future still remains to be seen.

As for the riot itself. The mercenaries were hired by Schnee dust company to protect the factory on the day it opened. At the start they used the dust equivalent of rubber bullets and tear gas like I said, but as the faunus started retaliating they were given the go ahead to use lethal force. Several faunus did die, the news report just illustrates the current bias of Vale.

Some of you mentioned in reviews that you're having trouble pinning what Cinder's goals and motives are. So am I actually.
In the actual series she plays her hand close to her chest. We can see what some of her plans are, but not what her end goal is, or even why she's pursuing that goal. I'm doing my best to capture that.

There is no doubt that she has some attachment to Ruby, just like she had some sore of attachment to Emerald and Mercury, but even I don't really know if that connection is motherly or purely analytical. Cinder is one of those characters that writes themselves.

For those of you who are angry at Yang. Don't worry, Ruby will have her moment, but not for a while yet.

I should be able to finish one more chapter on schedule before college starts again. After that, it all depends on how much free time I have. I'll do my best to keep the updates coming.

Thank you for reading, don't forget to leave a review!