Hello, how are you?

It's the moment we've all (no, maybe not you there in the back) been waiting for!

I wanna cut to the content, but allow me to point this out: This chapter is coming out on the third anniversary of the initial release of Technician! Please, hold your applause until the end (actually, 41 chapters in 36 months is most certainly not the goal I was hoping to meet. Should be a lot higher. Hold your applause as long as you like instead!)


Beta: Knight of Cerberus

"How do you lock a ghost in a cage anyways?"

Pyrrha felt her skin prickle as the door closed behind her, taking a deep breath in through her nose. She looked around the warehouse she and Blake had found themselves in – at the massing, mask-wearing faunus as well as the dozens of already initiated White Fang members – and couldn't help but think this was a bad idea.

Not the operation itself, just Pyrrha's involvement here. The redhead had a feeling that, even behind a mask of her own, she might be attracting too much attention. Almost as if she'd figured there would still be a pair of eyes on her at all times - and there would be, with all the lookouts.

Getting in past the guard at the door wasn't a problem at all, like Blake had said. It went as smoothly as possible, despite the discomfort Pyrrha felt. She could tell she wasn't really suited for undercover work, if this even counted as such. Maybe having Ren on the inside would have been the better choice after all.

The girl was torn from her musings as she was tapped on the shoulder by her teammate.

"We should stand closer to the edge of the crowd, on the side."

Pyrrha nodded softly, stepping closer to Blake as the only faunus of the two parted the crowd politely. The undoubtedly human girl smiled at a few people as she passed, and to her surprise some responded with smiles of their own.

She wouldn't think they were willingly joining a terrorist group just from the looks of them, but the masks seemed to unite everyone in a way other things could not. The anonymity was a strength as much as it was a weakness, she supposed.

When the two girls were at the edge of the crowd, Blake wheeled around, taking Pyrrha's hand and squeezing it. She nodded.

Pyrrha bent forward, resting her face in the shoulder of Blake's shirt. What might have looked like a touching moment to anyone else was most certainly not.

"We're in position, about to split." Pyrrha whispered, after keying her mic.

"Right." Ren responded. "I took someone out who was patrolling the roof. I hope they don't look for her."

That made Pyrrha shiver. They were supposed to avoid any fighting if possible, but she supposed Ren knew what he was doing. Still, that could complicate things on the inside.

Even Pyrrha had doubts about facing off against everyone in the room.

"I've got eyes on the big windows in the back of the building." Ruby confirmed. "No sign of Torchwick. Or at least, I can't see him."

That was good news, in Pyrrha's eyes. The career criminal being here when he'd be one who could recognize all of them would really throw their plans out the window.

"I can also see all three of you, currently." The youngest member of PBRL tacked on. "I'll watch Ren's back for now."

"Appreciated." The boy let out, before the voice-feed cut.

Pyrrha pulled her head back up from Blake's shoulder. "You got all that?"

"Yeah. If things go wrong, you're crowd control." Blake seemed to frown beneath her mask.

"Right." Pyrrha bit off, uncertain. She looked behind her, and some guy who'd been looking their way turned his head. She hoped he hadn't heard them.

"I shouldn't be long." Blake whispered, patting Pyrrha on the shoulder before turning on her heel, striding away.

Pyrrha was alone, and couldn't help but feel the faunus girl was far more confident than she was right now.

The girl let out a shuddering breath, before turning and taking a couple steps towards the boy who'd been watching her. She stepped beside him, and he spoke before she had a chance to:

"You Beacon students sure are something else."

Pyrrha practically froze in place, hand hovering over her hip. Her finger grazed the button on her scroll that, with three taps, would alert her team their cover was shot. Ready to press it at any time, she sidled right up to the young-looking man. She couldn't quite get a read on him, but it seemed he wasn't an exposure risk, right now.

If he really wanted to blow their cover, there wasn't a lot that could stop him.

The redhead coughed slightly. She was supposed to avoid talking with anyone unless it was to maintain her cover, but this case proved exceptional. "Sorry, what?"

"Where's the rest of your team?" He seemed to ponder aloud, crossing his arms in front of his mostly bare chest. "I only saw the two of you."

"That's none of your concern, and please keep it down..." Pyrrha shuddered as she remembered to keep her own voice down, eyes going up and down the unknown boy's body. He didn't appear armed aside from his armguards, but who knew what he had up his sleeves?

Not literally. The only thing his short sleeves were hiding were some well-defined arm muscles – things Pyrrha could claim she was at least mostly familiar with. Looking him over as he was, it was clear he was a fighter. Or at least an athlete of sorts. The guy was fit.

"Don't worry, I'm not supposed to be here either. But my cover seems better than yours." Upon even closer inspection, the boy's tail seemed like it was wrapped around his waist like a sash. "How'd you get the guards to let you in?"

"I'm a mole faunus with poor eyesight."

"And they fell for that?" The boy asked incredulously, scratching the back of his head. "It was fairly obvious to me with how out of place you looked. Then again, I don't really know what I'm doing either."

Pyrrha shuffled uncomfortably, looking around. No one seemed to be listening in, but the redhead chose to exercise caution regardless. This guy could be baiting her, trying to get her to say something she shouldn't. "What about you?"

"Me? I don't want to be here, either. This White Fang or whatever's like a cult."

The redhead stared at the blond boy incredulously, though she doubted he could tell through her mask. If anything, there was a vague sense of familiarity with the boy she was struck by. She had the feeling she knew him, or recognized him from somewhere.

He'd called her and Blake both Beacon students. Had he said that to throw her off by hinting he knew who she was, or was that just a statement?

Wait a minute. Blond hair, bare-chested, and a chiseled body. She had definitely seen someone like him around Beacon earlier.

"We haven't met." Pyrrha pointed out, pinching her lips together as she side-eyed the boy.

"I saw that food fight you had with that other team. It was bizarre."

Had he been there? Pyrrha hadn't noticed, but she figured she could excuse herself of that.

"Why are you here?" The girl finally asked, looking over at the blond boy. His smile smoothed into a thin line, and he shook his head softly.

"I'm looking for someone, actually. Poofy, curly hair. Dark skin, tattoos, and extremely short. Let me know if you see her, okay?"

"Right, I will." Pyrrha confirmed, looking out over the crowd. It would probably be hard to find whoever this guy was looking for without pushing through the masses, but the redhead was going to stay where she was.

She had her own job to do.

Blake glanced from her right to her left quickly before tossing her hair over her shoulders. Someone had tried to stop her from making it all the way to the back of the large, vaulted room, but she managed to convince them of who she really was: not Blake Belladonna of Beacon, but Blake Belladonna of the White Fang. Whoever the man was that tried to stop her, all she had to do was throw around big names, and he bent like a twig, letting her pass.

She wouldn't be able to fool anybody else, though. She couldn't and wouldn't dare risk it, especially with the sheer amount of White Fang there were in the room. She was impressed with how many guards they had posted, covering all angles.

Blake was absolutely certain she wouldn't be seen, though. The girl bent her knees and jumped, stepping off a large container before clinging to a railing above her. She pulled hard and swung herself around it acrobatically, landing lightly on her feet. The metal beneath her barely shook as she twisted and ducked behind a crate.

She needed to ensure she wasn't seen. If she was spotted that would make trouble for Pyrrha, and it seemed like her leader was already uncomfortable enough as it was when she left her.

"I no longer have eyes on you, Blake, be careful." Ruby's voice sounded quietly in the faunus' ears, Blake nodding to herself as she pulled herself up over the crate. She checked for the guards again, before leaning out when no one was looking her way.

"There sure are a lot of people on overwatch here. There has to be a dozen on the upper level alone." Blake reported, drawing her blade. The girl wedged it into the crack of the door, and jammed it hard with the palm of her hand. Something gave, and the black-haired girl grunted softly, wincing at the noise it made.

Popping the door open, the girl eased into the room before closing it shut behind her. She let out a breath she hadn't been holding once she confirmed it was unoccupied. It was a decently sized office, but the large windows peering out over the rest of the warehouse would likely give her away if she turned on any sort of light.

She hoped whoever was in charge had the information she was looking for tucked away somewhere here. She didn't know how she was going to be able to get out safely now that she was inside.

"I'm in the office." She looked out the window overlooking the scene below – the recruitment rally seemingly swelling with numbers as more hopefuls showed. Blake felt she knew better than anyone how these people felt, but with what the White Fang had turned to as of late she was a little scared.

There was a whole crowd of people – of her kind – in Vale, willing to go along with the White Fang's errant ways. If anything, maybe it frustrated her more than it frightened her.

Blake shook the thought off, returning her attention to the office. It seemed either the windows or the main door were her only way out - all conveniently leading out to the warehouse where at least a hundred potential hostiles waited. The vents would be too narrow, and odds were she'd end up stuck in them if she tried.

Doctor Oobleck wouldn't let her hear the end of it, if he found out.

"What's a human doing here?"

Blake's heart leapt into her throat as she wheeled around to look down into the crowd through the window. She quickly found Pyrrha, but realized the exclamation hadn't been about her teammate. Standing atop a platform – though it was more akin to a stage – alongside a faunus man Blake recognized, was Roman Torchwick.

The crowd seemed rather unruly as the man gestured widely and began to talk. Blake bit off a swear as she pulled back further into the office, scrambling for file folders, papers, a laptop: anything that might have what she was looking for. She needed to hurry.

Information on Tukson's death was her primary objective. Whoever might have ordered or even carried out the hit. If she was lucky, maybe she'd even find something about why the Fang were working with the infamous Torchwick – a human, of all things. She doubted Adam would have approved of something like that.

Or would he? Could he still be running things here in Vale? That would explain why there were so many Fang in the warehouse.

The girl scowled as she spread the contents of a file folder out across a wide desk, pulling her scroll apart. She didn't have time. She took pictures of each sheet, wary of every flash, before shuffling them all back together and moving on to the next packet. Blake didn't stop, making sure nearly everything was catalogued, before tossing the files back into a somewhat neat pile that looked untouched.

However, she'd already broken into the office. They'd know someone would've gotten into something they weren't supposed to.

Blake looked around.

In the nicest, most backwards way she could, she needed to steal something of value. Not exactly something expensive, but something certainly noticeable.

It was misdirection. They'd realize the office was broken into after they were long gone, no matter how this ended. If things were left untouched and nothing was missing, they'd dig deeper than she'd want them to. If they realized someone had gone through their files, they'd change plans or rearrange meetings, and all the information Blake retrieved would be worse than useless.

And so, the faunus girl pulled open all the drawers of the desk, staring at their contents. She couldn't help but grin as she lifted a lacquered cigar box from one of the drawers.

"Do we know anyone who smokes? If so, I have a gift for them."

Ruby giggled over the feed. "My sister isn't here, otherwise she'd probably call you a cat burglar."

Blake growled, but Pyrrha's voice broke through the feed next. "Blake, you need to see this."

The girl blinked, before striding over to the open window. "What am I-"

Roman Torchwick snapped his fingers, and the cloth banner behind the stage Blake disregarded earlier fell. The girl's eyes widened. She was too far to hear what Roman was saying clearly – or maybe the room was soundproofed – but the crowd that had previously seemed unruly and hostile were now brimming with energy.

"What is it?" Ren quizzed, probably unable to see from where he was positioned.

"You know those Atlas security robots we had to fight in that simulation once?" Blake breathed, biting her lip as she squeezed the cigar box she tucked under her arm. "Yeah, like one of those, but about ten times bigger."

"And he's saying they have more of them." Pyrrha added on. "Something about an operation in the southeast, too."

That was vague, but it was something to consider. However, there was a new problem for them:

What the hell did they do about the giant robot they had before them right now? The White Fang had more of them? Blake lifted her scroll and took a picture of it, before angling the camera towards Roman Torchwick, the faunus man she recognized somewhat, and the girl off to the side of the stage.

Pictures taken, Blake looked around, plotting their exit. She didn't even know if they got what she needed, but at this point, they needed to make tracks.

"Guys, this is bad." Their leader's voice rang in Blake's ears once more with a hint of panic, and the girl could already see why. Pyrrha was being pushed towards the stage – or rather, there was no way to avoid ending up closer to it as the new recruits were apparently called forwards. The redhead seemed to fight the flow a bit, along with someone else.

Blake tapped her foot against the floor of the office, biting her lip.

"Ruby, Ren, we're gonna need a distraction." Blake keyed in. She wrapped her ribbon around her arm, looking out the window before positioning herself behind the door.

"How flashy?" Ruby asked immediately.

"Very. Do you have anything?"

"Oh, you bet. Cover your eyes."

Blake braced against the door, praying Ruby wasn't about to just bring the building down around their heads. Cautiously, the faunus girl brought her arm across the front of her face, burying her closed eyes in it.

"Three, two, one. Now!"

It seemed like nothing happened for less than a moment, until the faunus girl's ears were assaulted by startled, almost pained screaming as she drove her shoulder into the busted door. She opened her eyes, and there was a spattering of glass that hit the floor. Whatever Ruby had done, everyone else was clutching at their heads or had their eyes closed rubbing at them. Pyrrha was still standing, as was the one guy who she'd been next to.

As Blake hopped over the railing and crossed the floor in a hurry, the boy shrugged to Pyrrha before collapsing and moaning in pain much like the others.

"I'll explain later." Pyrrha said as the redhead looked her over. Blake glanced around, seeing the guards slowly recovering, and more than a couple reaching for weapons. "We need to go!"

Blake nodded quickly, turning to the door her and Pyrrha had originally entered the room from, before clicking her tongue. It just wasn't a good choice.

"We need to get to a window." Blake pointed out. She cocked her weapon and then threw it, tugging on the ribbon to fire it off and firmly lodge the blade in a wall. Giving it a tug to check the tension, the black-haired girl kept an eye on the hostiles as Pyrrha stepped back.

In the span of seconds, Pyrrha jumped, landing on the ribbon before Blake pulled not a moment later. The redheaded girl launched up to the balcony and Blake ripped her weapon free of the wall, grunting as she swung it skywards, running back into the crowd.

She wanted to desperately apologize to the suit-wearing faunus she used as a springboard, but there was simply no time as she swung with the momentum from her hop. She came back across the warehouse, using her own muscles to pick up her ribbon's slack as she rose.

With expert finesse and a little luck on her side, Blake flipped, landing right next to Pyrrha. As the redheaded girl aimed her rifle to provide covering fire, her shield rang in response to a shot that was taken at them. The black-haired girl ran right past her teammate, hearing Pyrrha's feet clack against the metal walkway right behind her. She lept, crossing her arms as she busted out the broken window Ruby's shot passed through.

Blake stuck the landing, rolling with her momentum as she watched Pyrrha soar through the air, weapons on her back. As Blake turned her eyes upwards, she barely caught the outline of Ren leaping from the top of the warehouse to the next building. Gunshots and shouts ran out as it seemed they'd found him as well.

As Pyrrha nodded, Blake preparing to run, it felt like the very ground shook, dust flying as the warehouse's wall buckled.

"Run!" Blake shouted, taking off without looking behind her. When she could afford the chance to do so, she saw the Atlesian machine breaking through the mass of brick that was formerly the wall separating them.

The faunus girl looked back again, and her eyes widened as it seemed like the armor was gaining on them. They needed a plan.

If they tried to lose it in the winding streets of the industrial district, the White Fang themselves would catch up. If they just took off and tried to race it in a straight line, it would run them down – whether the armor caught up, or even if it just let loose with its guns.

Turning and fighting it right now wasn't going to do it. Worst possible option, in Blake's opinion.

"Pyrrha, do you have a plan?" Ruby quizzed. Blake heard the girl's rifle go off through the audio feed, but it was hard to see if the shot that pinged off the armor plating did much.

"Blake, can you lead it on?" Pyrrha asked, slowing to a jog and pulling her shield off her back.

The redhead squeaked over the feed as the mech's machinegun ripped up the pavement between them.

"Got it!" Blake's heart hammered in her chest as Pyrrha ducked into an alleyway. The black-haired girl pulled her arm up and squeezed the trigger of her handgun in rapid succession.

The bullets pinged off the machine's armor plating, almost as if it was taunting her, staring her down.

"Okay, follow me, big guy..." Blake trailed off as the mech took one step forwards.

Whatever Pyrrha was going to do, she had to do it fast.

Pyrrha charged down the alley, sliding into a wall as she used her shield to bounce off it. It might have seemed impractical, but it was the quickest way for the girl to turn such a tight corner.

"I don't know how long I can stay ahead of this thing!" Blake called out, Pyrrha hearing the distress in her voice. The redhead had to take a calming breath as she jogged, slowing a bit.

"Ren, you're good?" PBRL's leader asked, clenching her fists as she strode towards the next street over.

"Yeah, I lost the guys chasing me on the rooftops." The boy responded, seemingly just as out of breath as Blake. "I'm trying to keep up with Blake and the mech."

Pyrrha nodded. "Ruby, link up with me. We need to play catch-up."

They needed to take out that armor, and whoever was in it. The White Fang behind them were a secondary problem.

"This got out of hand so fast." Pyrrha said to herself, putting her hands on her hips as she stretched her back a bit. She keyed her mic, hearing gunfire from what seemed like no small distance away. "I'm in front of the complex now."

The sounds of gunfire cut out for a moment before beginning anew. Slowly, Pyrrha heard something else in the distance, growing closer. The redhead peered down the street, and with a screech of rubber a single headlight rounded the corner.

Ruby broke a lot more softly as she approached Pyrrha, the redheaded girl looking the motorbike over. "This is Yang's?"

"Yeah." Ruby passed Pyrrha what looked like a spare helmet. She seemed to have her cloak wrapped around herself tightly. "If we scratch it, she'll probably kill me. So, hold on tight."

The redhead chuckled uneasily, mounting the bike behind Ruby as it seemed to rumble in response to the younger girl's touch.

"Ready as I-" Pyrrha was cut off by the screech of the bike's tires, reaching forward to wrap one arm around Ruby's waist as it felt like she was going to fall off. Her pulse pounded in her ears as they hit speeds she certainly wasn't prepared for.

"I said to hold on tight!" Ruby called out over the sound of the wind, and Pyrrha clutched her partner tighter reflexively, squeezing her legs around the bike's frame.

The wind whipped at the redhead's hair as she adjusted her seating, looking past Ruby's shoulder. The wall ahead of them seemed to grow closer at a pace that made Pyrrha's eyes widen.

Pyrrha felt Ruby lean, and closed her eyes as she leaned in sync. The tires screeched and Pyrrha braced, feeling them tilt further than she was comfortable with.

Momentum righted them a moment later, and Pyrrha cracked her eyelids open.

"You sure you've never ridden a bike before? That was perfect." Ruby mentioned, speeding up.

"No, I'm terrified."

There was a slight crackle in Pyrrha's ear, and she listened intently.

"Blake, you're-"

"I know, but there's nowhere else to go!" Ren spoke, only to be cut off by their faunus teammate. Pyrrha tensed up again as there was more than a moment or two of silence.

"Ruby?" Ren's voice carried over the feed. "Blake just led the mech onto highway eleven, eastbound. I can't follow them."

Pyrrha swallowed the lump that grew in her throat. "Did you just say highway?"

"Highway eleven, eastbound."

The redhead clutched Ruby's sides, closing her eyes as they leaned into another turn. The engine shook nearly as much as Pyrrha did, rumbling as they continued on.

"We'll be right there." Ruby confirmed, Pyrrha just about to bury her face in the girl's back.

"Our simulations didn't prepare us for this." The redhead sighed to herself, trying to relax a bit. Ruby shook her head softly.

"I don't think Oobleck expected us to be in a high-speed chase involving a mech and a motorcycle, no."

Pyrrha winced. "We're going be in huge trouble, aren't we?"

Ruby shrugged as they changed lanes, dropping their speed a bit. They pulled into a turn, only leaning slightly as Pyrrha's stomach felt like it was about to leap past her lips. The two girls passed Ren who bent over and panting on the side of the road.

"I'll… catch up…" The only male member of PBRL panted loudly over the comms.

Pyrrha made a mental note to start making Ren run more, when they got back to Beacon.

As the two girls accelerated onto the elevated highway, Pyrrha could see the mech in the distance, Blake crouched low on the top of a box truck.

"Can we get close enough for me to leap to it?" Pyrrha asked, her nerves getting the better of her in this instance. That couldn't be their only option, could it?

"We might be able to. It's either that or we shoot at it."

The redheaded girl winced, her grip on Ruby's waist tightening. "My rifle won't do much against that."

Not only that, but she didn't dare take her hands off her partner. Not at these speeds.

"Crescent Rose is loaded with Ice Dust. You can slow it down with that!"

"But you're driving, how are you going to-"

The redheaded girl blinked, looking down at how Ruby's cloak was wrapped around her, Crescent Rose collapsed and holstered right behind her.

"Come on guys, any day now!" Blake sounded pretty frantic as Pyrrha hesitated, before reaching down. She slipped Ruby's sniper-scythe from the small of her back, and gave it a good yank. The barrel extended.

As part of their team training, Doctor Oobleck had them run exercises where they'd used each other's weapons – but just barely. It would be a long, long time before Pyrrha could hit a target with pinpoint accuracy the way Ruby could.

Hitting a moving target from the back of a motorcycle while also moving at highway speeds? She doubted she could manage that with a smaller rifle like her own, never mind Ruby's.

Still, as Pyrrha leaned back further than she was comfortable with, she had to try. Not only was Blake in trouble, but civilian lives were at stake. She clenched her legs and pulled herself back upright as Ruby had to swerve to dodge a car that had spun out.

"Dammit." Pyrrha barked out, resetting. She laid her arm out, holding Crescent Rose at a seemingly impossible angle.

She fired, and the stock slammed against her shoulder softly. Crescent Rose really didn't have a lot of kick to it, but even while steadying the weapon with her semblance where she could, she watched the bullet harmlessly land at the mech's feet. A miss.

The redheaded girl pulled herself back up, dragging back the bolt of the rifle. She hissed to herself as she prepared to lean back again. She'd ensure the next shot would hit.

She blinked, and when her eyes opened again, the mech tumbled, practically collapsing as her and Ruby gained on it. As they screeched to a stop, the large machine was just pushing itself upright.

Pyrrha jammed the scythe into Ruby's hands as she shook. She stepped onto the highway, legs like jelly. Blake was running towards them from further ahead.

Even as her breathing was ragged, even as her muscles and every fiber of her being protested, Pyrrha ran across the lanes, jumping and putting both hands on the armor's plating as it tried to swivel to hit her. Even using her semblance to pull it from her back to her hand, the leader of PBRL barely managed to get her shield up in time to protect herself from the machine's heavy fist. She was launched, but not before she reached out with a palm exposed.

The Atlas mech sparked slightly, and Pyrrha clenched her hands into fists, yanking as hard as she could. She hit the ground with a gasp as she saw the machine's joints separate in a shower of sparks, the cockpit opening.

The girl couldn't even allow herself a breather as she pushed herself up. Roman Torchwick tumbled out of the cockpit, grunting as he stood.

"Well, this is unexpected." He let out with a chuckle, dusting off his jacket. "What a surprise it is, seeing you three again. Isn't it past your bedtimes?"

Neither Blake, Ruby, nor Pyrrha moved beyond bringing their weapons up, barrels pointed towards the well-dressed man. He raised his hands in surrender, but Pyrrha didn't budge.

"It's over, Torchwick!" Ruby called out, Pyrrha seeing the girl's frown from where she was crouched.

"Ah, I remember you. You and that portly Beacon professor got in my way once, and now you found yourself before me again. Ha! You're the gift that just keeps giving, aren't you?"

The man looked around with a grimace, before his eyes fixated on Pyrrha, shaking his head. "You damn kids..."

Pyrrha narrowed her eyes, before something tickled her ears. It took her a moment to recognize the sound of footsteps. She gasped as her eyes widened, turning and bringing her shield up. A blade brushed against it heavily and just breezed past her face.

"Here's where we part, kiddos!"

Mismatched eyes stared into Pyrrha's own as swung her own weapon at the girl. A sturdy looking umbrella redirected Pyrrha's strike as an explosion roared behind her, hearing Blake and Ruby both firing.

The redhead didn't dare pull her eyes from the threat in front of her, though, as her assailant backflipped away, the short girl tilting her head as she sheathed the blade she held in her umbrella.

The top of the stranger's umbrella folded as she twirled it, before it expanded again as she rested her weapon on her shoulder, shifting her stance as she leaned forward. The headlights of halted cars further back blinded Pyrrha just slightly as she squinted.

Was this girl bowing?

"Are you three okay? I saw the explosion from here." Ren asked, Pyrrha taking steadying breaths.

"Ruby and I are fine, but we're-" A grunt comes through, as well as the sound of metal clashing with metal. "Fighting Torchwick. Sorry, he's fast!" Blake bit off, panting. Pyrrha could hear gunfire echo from below as well as through her earpiece.

"Pyrrha?" Ren asked immediately after Blake broke off.

"I'm still on the highway, engaging the enemy. A girl who was with Torchwick at the warehouse earlier." She remembered seeing her, at least.

The girl blinked, the color of her eyes shifting. Just as quickly as Pyrrha realized the irregularity, the girl was before her. Pyrrha's heart beat in her chest as she lowered her shield in preparation for the girl to draw her blade. Instead, the shorter girl's leg shot upwards in a kick that caught the bottom of Pyrrha's shield.

The unexpectedly fluid strike forced Pyrrha to back up, dodging to the side as the girl's umbrella collapsed, the top of it barely passing by her face. Each hit the girl attempted to deliver was packed with force and left little opening for a counter.

Pyrrha's sword folded inwards, and she reached forward to stab at the girl with her spear. Everything about this girl threw the redhead off. She watched the girl's knees bend, arms tightening into her core as she bent around the Beacon student's thrust.

The girl swatted at Pyrrha's weapon like it was a fly, deftly redirecting it as her palm brushed the flat of her spearhead. Pyrrha expected the girl to draw her sword or send another brutal kick her way once she stepped forward.

She didn't expect the girl to back off with another silently curious tilt of her head.

"Who are you?"

The girl did nothing, only holding her umbrella loosely as it twirled.

Pyrrha grunted, before stepping forward and spinning, prepared to throw her shield.

She took her eyes off the short, quiet girl for less than a second. Multicolored hair was at the bottom of the redhead's vision. She'd crossed the gap between them that quickly.

There was no punch, or stab, or kick. Pyrrha's arm was instead crossed in front of her and pulled forward, flipping over the unknown enemies' extended knee. Just as the redheaded girl experienced a moment of weightlessness, something hard collided with her lower back, sending her rolling across the highway.

With no time to so much as wince in pain, Pyrrha rose to her feet, shield raised in preparation for the girl to press the attack.

She didn't, simply sauntering over with the umbrella over her shoulder.

Pyrrha folded her spear over, gripping it as she fired a couple shots towards her assailant. If she wanted to put distance between the two of them, so be it.

The redhead was a little disheartened when all it took was the girl holding her umbrella out, giving it a little spin to stop her shots.

The redhead hesitated, seeing the girl getting something ready behind the umbrella. Another weapon?

As she swung it up to her shoulder, Pyrrha blinked, staring.

She was texting?

The four-time Mistral tournament champion could handle a lot of things. She could handle media pressure, she could handle a little loneliness at the top – she was even already far over earning her most recent title over a forfeit.

But being ignored in a fight was one thing that really pissed her off.

"Alright, that's enough." She bit off, growling softly.

Pyrrha rose to her feet, bracing her shield against herself as she ran forwards. She brought her sword back, shifting it as she swung overhead. When the girl backed away to dodge her slash, Pyrrha took an extra step forwards, firing. The shot from her own weapon passed under her arm, Pyrrha able to feel the heat off it as it just missed grazing her.

She used her semblance, glow surrounding her spear as she aimed at the girl's center. Her entire focus was on that one point, pushing forwards.

Their weapons clashed as the blade was pulled free of its umbrella-sheath, the point of her spear redirected. Rather than risking a riposte, Pyrrha shoved her shield forwards, separating from her opponent before pushing the attack by swinging her spear low. The girl hopped over the strike, and Pyrrha reared her weapon back to attack once more.

Blade fully unsheathed, the pink and brown-haired girl stabbed towards her, twisting out of the way.

It was just a soft push, Pyrrha using her semblance to tilt the girl's wrist. The point of her blade impacted Pyrrha's round shield, before her opponent retreated with a few quick steps back.

The girl lifted her blade to her eyes, glancing between Pyrrha and the concealed shortsword. She appeared confused for a moment, before she stood up straight, holding her sword out and taking a breath. Pyrrha took the moment to breathe in herself.

The redhead strode forwards, spear held behind her. With a flick of her wrist and a press of her thumb, it shifted just as she brought it around.

Her opponent swung in response, but Pyrrha had anticipated it. She bent the blade's path, pushing it upwards.

The redhead's eyes widened as she had to come to a complete halt, leaning back as the thin sword passed right before her eyes. She twisted her hips as she brought her shield up.

The short girl reached around her guard, slicing at air as it took a slight push at the last second to prevent the blade from nicking her underarm. Pyrrha watched the point of the girl's sword as she was put on a complete defensive, stepping back.

She wasn't allowed to retreat. Slash after stab, repeating, each one barely missing Pyrrha as the girl pushed and pulled in reaction to her opponent's movements. Finally, an opening appeared as Pyrrha's opponent pulled her arm back too far.

With a foot firmly planted, Pyrrha stepped into her opponent's strike.

The head of the umbrella expanded before Pyrrha's face. The redhead stumbled back.

Her weight was all put on one point – her back foot.

Her gut lurched as she fell over the edge of the highway, eyes widening. She tried to turn as she fell, but couldn't.

Pyrrha hit the highway beneath back first, the wind knocked from her lungs. The girl rolled over as she gasped for breath, and something bounced off of the back of her head, clattering to the ground.

It was a scroll. She blinked, and then blinked again as she read. Pyrrha growled loudly.

It was her scroll. She realized that now. Across the display, it read "Invincible Girl? Bitch please."

Staggering to her feet and turning around, Pyrrha squinted. The headlights of a car shone brightly, horn blaring as it passed her. Up traffic, the smug looking girl tapped her umbrella against her hand repeatedly, blade resheathed. Sweat rolled down Pyrrha's back as she breathed heavily.

Was that why she hadn't heard anything from the rest of her team during the entire fight? If the girl had her scroll, maybe she cut the call. When had she lifted it off of her? Pyrrha hadn't a clue.

"Who the hell are you?" The redhead asked again, readying her weapon.

There was no answer. Just shining headlights that lengthened the short girl's shadow as another car passed. Pyrrha ran forwards once the vehicle rushed by, swinging her sword.

Her opponent stepped forward too, ducking low as she spun. Pyrrha followed through. Just when the redhead was about to celebrate her successful attack, the girl faded from the redhead's vision.

Pyrrha's eyes widened as her gaze trailed what they could see of the mysterious girl's leg. Pain exploded throughout her body as the girl's knee connected with her ribs, launching her across the highway's broad lanes. The back of Pyrrha's head cracked against the barrier and she groaned, eyes squeezed shut.

Seething, Pyrrha's hands scrambled for her weapon as she blinked, her vision blurry. Something sharp dug into her shoulder, and the redhead squealed, kicking her feet.

Pyrrha didn't know where she was supposed to be looking. The girl hovering over her dug her heel in with a grin, eye colors swapping with a blink. The redhead whined as she saw a little blood trickle from where her foe's heel pierced her skin. Her weapons were out of reach.

She couldn't pull them towards her at all, squeezing her eyes tight. The heel seemed like it dug deeper into her shoulder as she even thought about it.


The sound of shattering glass hit Pyrrha's ears and the pressure faded, but the pain was all too real to ignore. When she opened her eyes, crystals of ice had blossomed near her feet, and the girl who'd been there just moments ago was more than a few paces away, glaring into the distance.

Pyrrha's assailant spared her one last look, before stepping backwards into the headlights of an approaching car. The leader of PBRL stared her down as she smiled, waving. Tires squealed, but she just seemed to vanish.

By the time the car came to a stop well past where her opponent had been standing, she was just gone.

"Pyrrha!" Ren called out again, the boy's footsteps seeming to echo in her head. She didn't spare the driver of the car that had stopped a glance, nor did she really acknowledge Ren beyond turning her head to him. "Are you alright?"

"No..." Pyrrha trailed off, trying to push herself up with a grimace. Ren held her down, taking her hand. "Hey, are Blake and Ruby okay?"

"Yeah, they're fine. We couldn't reach you. I'm sorry."

"'s alright..." Pyrrha managed to breathe out, blinking slowly as she looked at the ice that formed around her feet. The girl's vision blurred, to the point everything only looked blue and grey. "You can thank Ruby for me, right?"


"I'm just... gonna have a little nap."

Pyrrha's eyes closed and her head bounced off the barrier.

Up on the rooftop of a nearby building, a blond boy grimaced as he pulled back on the bolt of his rifle, ejecting the cold, spent casing into his hand. He gently thumbed the button along the pale weapon's length, folding it up into its more manageable size.

"Always trust your gut, Jaune." The boy repeated to himself, panting as he stared out over the scene before him. A trail of smoke stretched to the sky from the wrecked hull of some sort of Atlesian armor at ground level, a hole blown clean through the shoulder of the highway. He'd arrived far too late to do anything meaningful but take a pot-shot at the girl Pyrrha had been fighting, but he'd under-compensated for the wind and missed.

Missing a shot like that Jaune couldn't excuse. After running up ten flights of stairs and having barely a moment to set up, he had plenty things to blame, but in the end, it was the results that mattered. If he could kick himself, he would.

He should have realized what was happening sooner, if anything. The hints were all there – everything was given to him on a silver platter.

Everything he needed was in the palm of his hand, but he just hadn't looked closely enough. PBRL's late night out, and the other day when they'd clearly raided some sort of White Fang hideout.

He'd realized it too late.

The boy holstered Horizon, pulling his black scroll apart. He held it up to his cheek, and it only rang once.


"It's still fine to call me Ozpin, Jaune." The stern man spoke into the blond's ear. "I have a feeling I already know what this is about."

Jaune nodded – even though he knew the man couldn't see it – looking skyward as the engines of a news bullhead seemed to fire at a steady pace, keeping the aircraft level.

"Breaking news?" He offered.

"Beacon students involved in a highway chase ending in a brawl with a special guest appearance by the infamous Roman Torchwick – for the second time this month?" Ozpin almost sounded like he was amused, if anything.

Jaune sighed loudly. "Looks like it, and I just got here myself."

"You shouldn't be seen there." Ozpin tacked on with a more serious tone. "The authorities will handle this, and I'll come down to Vale personally to sort it all out. No doubt James will have a fit, if he isn't having one already."

"Alright, I guess I'll make myself scarce. If anything else happens you'll be the first person I tell."

"Good work, Jaune."

The connection cut, and Jaune slid the scroll closed, pocketing it. He ducked down the rooftop access and sighed to himself.

That one girl with the pink hair, she'd turned in the direction he'd fired from almost immediately after he'd taken the shot.

She was definitely trouble. He'd bring her up with Ozpin later if he needed to, but right now he needed his own cover.

The plastic bags just inside the building were just where the boy had left them, fingers straining as he picked them up, fishing his standard scroll out with his other hand.

"Time to tell Yang shopping went okay."