Chapter 39

Harry took a quick look over the situation and knew it was deteriorating fast. The Grimm had stopped tunneling under the Fae, but only because the Fae themselves were beginning to falter. Overhead, Molly and Cinder's battle still raged, lighting crackling across the sky in a brilliant light show of blues and whites that lit up the sky. The ground was slick with rain that showed no sign of slowing. The situation was growing dire, their window of opportunity was shrinking.

He looked back at the huntsmen, who were really just kids like Pyrrha, and took a deep breath, "You three still good to fight?"

Ren and Nora nodded silently; Jaune was in the middle of his best fish impression. "I… how did this happen?"

Harry scratched his chin and couldn't help the smile, "A little Winter magic was enough to cool off Torchwick's mini-me. The wardens used earth magic to rock Mercury's world. This should hold them until the whole thing blows over."

"Yeah, right," Mercury snorted disdainfully from his earthen cacoon, "You really think you'll be able to hold us? Especially with Cinder and Emerald still running around?"

At that, Harry frowned and kicked some dirt on Mercury's exposed face. He sputtered and gasped, "What was that!? What just touched my face!?"

"The kid has a point though," said Ramirez, looking at Harry questioningly, "I can leave a few Wardens behind to keep an eye on them. Last thing we need is these two running loose."

Harry nodded at that, "If we can spare the manpower. That girl and her illusions will cause trouble, but we know to expect her now-"

"Actually, Emerald won't be a problem." Jaune interrupted after finally finding his voice.

Harry and Ramirez both looked back at him, and his two teammates stared expectantly. Jaune pointed a finger back towards the triage area, "Emerald lead a small group of Grimm over there to take care of the wounded, but I took care of her. Her Aura is broken and she's being restrained."

Nora and Ren's stares grew longer and wider. Jaune blinked at them, "What?"

"You handled Emerald?" Nora started.

"On your own?" Ren finished.

Jaune folded his arms and looked defensive, "I did. What about it?"

The two exchanged a look, and Ren said, "Well Jaune, we saw what Emerald could do. She's very skilled…"

"And I'm not?" Jaune asked.

"Hey, at least you admit it." Nora muttered. Ren shot her a look and she raised her hands defensively, "We were both thinking it!"

Harry interrupted with a cough, "Children, focus please. Jaune, you know for sure that Emerald is dealt with?"

Jaune frowned at his teammates a moment longer than nodded at Harry, touching the tiara on his head that he'd forgotten to take off in all the confusion, "Pyrrha gave me this during the fight. It lets me see through Emeralds illusions. She's pretty bad without her Semblance to rely on."

Harry grunted, "Ah. And here I thought you were just making a fabulous fashion statement. Good, that solves another problem though, now-"

The tarmac shuddered again, and detonated several feet off. A small pack of Grimm boiled out of the newly formed hole and charged towards them, only to be cut down in a hail of gunfire from the side. They fell in heaps of disintegrating sickly flesh, dead before they even realized it.

Harry lowered his staff and the runes cooled. He looked in the direction the gunfire had come from and saw Marcone approaching them, with a personal guard and Hendricks in tow. He looked annoyed.

"Dresden," Marcone said, voice firm, "I do hope you have an actual plan to deal with this mess, one that cannot be best summed up as 'standing around'. This endeavor has been quite expensive for me both on a monetary and personnel level, and I'd rather end it sooner rather than later."

"I'm working on it. I've got a man scouting out the area right now, so we can get around that mess." he pointed at the steadily growing horde for emphasis. "I just need a little more time."

Almost as if on cue, Toot-toot zipped in from above and perched himself on top of Nora's head, standing at rigid attention. Nora froze, her eyes wide and strained to look up at the pixie without moving her head.

Toot-toot slapped his hand against his head and squeaked, "My lord! I return with news for you!"

Harry let out a relieved sigh, "Good, great. So, how do we get around the horde?"

The pixie paused, and his wings fluttered with uncertainty, "Er, um… Well you see, my lord…"

Harry remained silent, but closed his eyes in resignation, "You couldn't find anything, could you?"

Toot slumped forward and his wings drooped, "Alas, no my lord. These foul beasts are infiltrating every cranny and nook in the airport. While the Za Lord's guard could sneak past them, you big-folk would… not."

"And if we got caught up in a fight, that could drag the entire horde down on our heads." Harry concluded. "Thank you Major General. Go gather the rest of the guard and wait for me to call. I might need you again."

Again Toot saluted and zipped away in a flash of light. Once he was gone, Harry glanced at Marcone and asked, "How many of your people are still up for fighting?"

"A dozen or so remain in fighting condition." Marcone replied smoothly, "The remainder were either killed or injured by the young man currently buried under the ground."

Mercury laughed, and Harry kicked more dirt on his face, making him sputter indignantly.

"Okay," Harry said, and turned back to everyone else. The Wardens of the White Council, many of them recruited during the war with the Red Court Vampires, looked at Harry with that youthful hope in their eyes. He was their hero, their inspiration, according to older members on the Council, and several of them had already died on his watch. If this went bottom up, so would the rest. The blame would solely be Harry's if that happened.

The same could be said of Pyrrha's friends. Harry hadn't asked Molly to bring them to Chicago, it was bad enough that Pyrrha had tagged along, they didn't need the extra hands to manage. But they were here now for however long this universe would tolerate them, and they were even younger than the Wardens with him. Four kids, really, and- wait.

Harry blinked, "Um, where's the fourth kid, Ruby?"

The trio looked amongst each other and Jaune said, "Last we saw, one of those big monkey-Grimm was fighting her."

A chill went down Harry's back, completely unrelated to the rain overhead, "You're sure? Where did they go?"

Ren pointed left along the fae lines, where a cluster of Grimm was swarming, unconcerned with the faeries slaughtering their kin. Though it was impossible to see exactly what was happening, it wasn't difficult to see the flashes of red and the rose petals that were covering the ground as Grimm screamed in agonized rage and frustration.

A deep-chested bellow echoed like thunder, and there was a surprised human cry. A flash of red was knocked clear of the Grimm horde, tumbling head over heels through the air and crashing into the open ground between the Wardens and the Grimm. Ruby rolled to a stop and lay on the ground stunned.

Her scythe careened out of control, spinning as it fell right towards the assembled onlookers. Harry shouted and everyone scattered as Crescent Rose crashed into the ground by the bottom of its hilt, no less than a foot from Marcone. The criminal overlord didn't so much as flinch away, even when the wickedly sharp edge of the scythe came to a wavering stop inches from his nose.

Marcone let out a long suffering sigh and looked past the scythe at team RNJR, "Children, please bring the girl back into our fold, so we may deal with these Grimm. The fewer we have running about causing havoc, the better."

He didn't need to tell any of them twice, they were already moving. Jaune reached her first and helped Ruby to her feet as fast as he could. The girl was unharmed but stunned, legs clumsy and slow to get beneath her. Ren joined them a moment later and supported Ruby's other side, while Nora guarded all three of them, knocking a Creep aside like it was a gnat.

The crowd of Grimm before them rapidly parted, but not quick enough. Something big and powerful surged through their ranks, and the Beringel knocked a pair of Beowolves in its charge. It came to a galloping stop on all four limbs with its lips pulled back in a snarl that exposed long fangs.

Silence reigned, even the storm grew quiet for the moment. Rain no longer fell from teh sky in droves, though lightning and thunder still boomed overhead. The Grimms eyes flicked from Ruby to the other humans behind her, and immediately focused on Harry. The suddenness of the gesture, and the clear sign of recognition in its eyes was enough to make Dresden step back and swallow nervously.

"Oh hells bells, it remembers me."

Nora aimed at the Beringel, finger resting lightly on the trigger. It noticed the action and turned back to her, taking a deep breath and…

The hard strum of a guitar, interrupted the Grimm before it could let loose another earth shaking roar. The Beringel and the Grimm around it paused, as did Harry and his Wardens, and looked towards the source of the sound. The guitar sounded again, joined by drums and the steady thrum of helicopter blades. Right as the drums and guitar broke into a full opening solo, a trio of marble white helicopters, big suped up transports, crested over the airport. A stylized 'R' was emblazoned on the tail of each helicopter, and the lead one was blaring AC/DC's 'Shoot to Thrill' over a loudspeaker.

Harry grinned wildly and let out a whoop of excitement, "Oh, hell yeah!"

The lead chopper and its escort swooped over the battle ground towards him and the others, while the third broke off and the doors on the side slid open. Men in combat gear appeared hanging from the side, and unleashed hell on the Grimm pinned by the Fae. Bullets tore into the helpless monsters trapped on the ground, and soon explosions began to send smaller Grimm flying, and reduced the larger ones into shrapnel filled corpses.

The remaining two choppers swooped over head right as the Brian Johnson began belting lyrics. The lead choppers door practically roared open, and a pair of shapes dropped from the sky. The first smaller shape opened fire on the Beringel as it descended, eliciting a bellowing challenge from it. Lara Raith landed legs splayed on the ground, all grace and beauty, then leapt twenty feet away in a single bound, far out of reach of the Beringel's massive fists that caved the ground in where she had landed a moment ago.

The second shape came crashing down on its back a moment later, stabbing a cavalry saber deep into its shoulder. It roared in surprised rage and rose suddenly, but it was too little too late. Thomas backflipped off the Beringel before its massive hands could close around his head. When he landed, he propelled himself between its legs, slashing at its hindquarters as he moved in a blur of white and steel.

One leg went out and the Beringel fell to its side, in time for Lara to dart back in and use its massive arm as a ladder straight to its face. She sank her twin blades, each one a two foot long wavy short sword that glimmered in the pale stormlight, into the Beringels eyes, blinding it in an instant.

The Beringel's head whipped back and it howled in impotent rage, clapping at where it had last seen Lara, and at the source of its pain. But Lara had already moved, a continuous blur that clambered over the beasts head while dragging both blades with her.

As she came over on its back, Lara whirled mid-step and slammed her sword into its neck up to the hilt, and repeated the action with the opposite blade. In one smooth fluid motion, separated the Grimm's head from its shoulder. It's body crashed to the slick tarmac, where its head joined it a moment later where both evaporated in the rain.

Had Harry blinked, he might have missed the fight. It was over before it even had a chance to begin and was a very quick reminder of just how dangerous the White Court could be. They may have lacked the endurance of other supernatural monsters, but they were ruthless in battle and in a skirmish like the one he had just witnessed, they were at their strongest. Surprise and speed were the mainstay combat tactics of the White Court, and both Thomas and Lara had known what to expect this time. The Beringel hadn't had a chance in hell against the both of them.

And the rest of the Grimm that had accompanied it were just as screwed. More shapes fell from the chopper, all of them graceful and beautiful women in white that, in the rain, were made exceptionally appealing to the eye. Over half a dozen white court vampires joined Thomas and Lara, and tore through the Grimm in seconds. Overhead, another guitar solo started again, as the battle fell into a lul, and more figures descended from the chopper.

A trio of massive wolves landed almost silently, with Butters riding on the back of one of them. The Alphas were surprisingly unharmed, thought Butters looked little green. Ropes fell from one of the choppers, followed by men and women rappelled down. Murphy was the first with boots on the floor, and rushed to Harry before she'd even unhooked the rope.

"Harry, you're-!" She started, then paused and blinked in surprise, "Absolutely fine… huh."

He frowned, pursing his lips together, and tapped his staff against the ground, "Gee, you sound very disappointed about that Karrin. Is this picasso painting I call a face 'fine'?"

"Oh don't be such a baby," she replied, grinning, "Normally in a fight like this, I'd expect you to be in half a body cast and on crutches by now."

Harry made a show of leaning heavily on his staff and shrugged, "Well, you're half right, I guess."

Murphy's grin faded when she glanced around the growing crowd and noticed a particular absence, "What happened to Pyrrha? Is she all right?"

"She's fine, just hanging out in the triage," Harry jerked a thumb behind him.

She glanced behind him and pulled her lips tight. Harry raised a hand in a calming gesture, "Like I said, she's fine. Bit off more than she could chew when she fought Cinder, but if we make it out of this alive, she'll be fine."

That made Murphy roll her eyes and sigh, "You're kidding me. Why would she do that?"

"Long story, not important at the moment. What is important, is getting past that." he pointed at the warzone that rested between them and portal.

A particularly nasty explosion tossed a handful of Grimm into the air, where Fae magic froze them into inky black ice sculptures that shattered upon hitting the ground. Murphy swallowed slowly, and tightened her grip on her boxy little submachine gun.

"Right, easy."

Marcone spoke up, "This is why I advocated action, Dresden. The longer we waste discussing what we should do, the more likely it is that the Grimm will simply be too numerous for us to assault."

"Except that its Grimm all the way through," Harry retorted. "The only way through would be a frontal assault, and it would take a miracle for us to-"

The words died in Harry's mouth, and he almost slapped his forehead. Instead, he whirled around towards the Alphas and Butters, who had approached at a more casual pace. Butters was still atop Andy, and his complexion looked a little better.

"How you holding up Butters?" Harry asked.

Butters burped and covered his mouth, "Just… dandy. Lara's pilots certainly don't care for passenger safety."

"It was you and the former police officer who insisted we arrive as quickly as possible," Lara approached with her siblings in tow, wiping her blades along her arms. Thomas gave a faint nod to Harry, and casually slipped to his side.

"Nice entrance," Harry muttered to him. "You choose the music?"

"Of course. Lara doesn't have the taste for it." Thomas replied.

If Lara noticed, she didn't bother to show it, still focused on Butters with a hand on one shapely hip, "Perhaps next time you should consider the exact nature of your request, before you make it."

Butters swallowed deeply and burped one last time, "N-noted."

"Okay people," Harry interrupted, "Enough of the banter. We're all nervous about the big scary horde of psychotic nightmare death monsters, but here's the deal. If we want to get rid of the nightmare death monsters, we're going to have to charge in until we find the hellhole they crawled out of and cork it."

Thomas stared at Harry for a long minute, then at the horde. "Well… what's the worst that could happen?"

"Nothing, if Butters is leading."

All eyes turned to Butters, who blinked once and pointed at himself inquisitively. Harry nodded, "Yes, you. You have the Sword, remember?"

That made a fierce grin spread across Butters face, "Oh yeah, I do, don't I?"

"What sword?" asked Jaune. He and his friends returned to the group, with Ruby shuffling awkwardly over to where Crescent Rose lay, still impaled in the ground inches from Marcones face.

"Sorry sir," she murmured.

Marcone nodded, but kept his eyes on Butters, "I take it that, with Mr. Butters possession of a Sword of the Cross, the Grimm become especially susceptible to attack?"

Harry felt annoyed that Marcone had to know at all about Butters being a Knight, but that didn't stop him from nodding, "Yeah. The light from the sword is like their kryptonite, they can't stand it."

"So if Butters leads the charge, it should give us some breathing room until we reach the portal." Karrin said.

Harry sighed, "Just like Chitzen Itza all over again, isn't it?"

"More explosive." Thomas noted.

"And wetter," Karrin added.

Harry ignored them and tapped his staff against the ground, "But we need more than that. The Sword alone isn't enough, not one of them anyway."

And then he hit upon an idea. A wonderful, simple idea.

It was perhaps worthy of note that Harry simply wasn't used to sheer number of resources at his disposal. In general, he was used to fighting in situations were at best, he could count on the support of a dozen or so individuals at best. With support from Marcone, the White Council, Lara, the Alphas, Pyrrha's team, the Fae, and his friends and family, he had access to over fifty incredibly powerful individuals willing to listen and work with him.

The simple fact that he was inexperienced with the deck in his favor was why it took him so long to decide on the proper plan of attack. But after a solid minute, the choppers began swapping over the Grimm once more, blaring the opening to 'Welcome to the Jungle' as they joined the third chopper on raining hell down on the Grimm.

The Fae lines, battered, beaten and bruised, but still standing, began to part as the opening riff filled the air. The Grimm sensed this opening, and began surging into the chokepoint, pushing aside any Fae that got in their way.

It made for a nice neat firing line for the twenty or so Wardens standing on the other side.

Ramirez roared a command to the Wardens, and they unleashed fiery hell. Now, it was worth noting that every wizard had a different method to their magic. Training as a Warden brought some uniformity in terms of basic skills like shields, but when it came to offensive magic, innovation was not only allowed, but encouraged.

The first waves of fire unleashed rolled forward in a carpet so thick and intense it immediately evaporated the water on the tarmac, sending up thick billowing clouids of steam. The first ranks of Grimm were incinerated in that inferno, those farther back fell to the ground as the fire scorched their limbs raw.

Streaks of light quickly filled the air after, beams of fire ranging from the size of a telephone pole to wire thin. More Grimm fell in burning corpses, quickly evaporating and allowing their comrades to absorb even more fire. Shooting stars arched overhead and exploded in artillery like procession, sending smaller Grimm flying and knocking larger Grimm to the ground. Miniature stars landed on the ground like landmines, detonating when Grimm strayed too close, leaving nothing in the wake of the brilliant light. There was no subtlety to this display of raw power, no control and no reservation. The Wardens reduced the Grimm before them to ash, and the ground around them to molten tar.

Then, the Fae unleashed their magics again.

As the fire died down, icy whirl storms knocked Grimm aside like bowling pins, frost instantly coated the ground, freezing the tar as quickly as it had melted. The Grimm were thrown into chaos from the follow up assault, their momentum and cohesion shattered.

That, was when Butters lead the charge. The Alphas howled, and Butters unsheathed Fidelacchius, allowing its brilliant white light to blanket the airport. At the same time, he let loose a fierce cry and screamed, "Polka will never die!"

Leading the charge, Butters was a beacon of light that cast aside the darkness as he charged. The Alphas acted as his escort, Andy still carrying him on his back like a wolfish steed. Behind him came the White Courts, fast, graceful, and beautiful as always: Grimm that sought to brave the holy light of the Sword were quickly cut down by them. Next came Jaune and the others, supporting the Whites as they ran, but focused primarily on making it to the portal. Finally, acting as rearguard came Marcones forces and the Wardens.

Harry could easily have kept pace with the Alphas if he dove into the power of the Winter Mantle. But while he might be able to keep up, it wouldn't have been smart for him to exhaust himself simply charging. As long as Butters was up front with his sword, the Grimm would be far easier to deal with. Those in the back, unprotected from the light, would find themselves under assault on a far more common basis, and this was where Harry would find himself at his strongest.

He, Ramirez, and Karrin ran side by side, unleashing hell as they ran. A Creep attempted to leap towards them, but Harry knocked aside with a lance of invisible force. A Beowolf's head exploded from a quick burst of rounds from Karrin's machine gun, and Ramirez's sword flashed, severing the leg of an Ursa and leaving it to be put down by another Warden.

Ahead, lesser Grimm continued to flee from the light that scorched their hides and burned their bones, but the older and stronger Grimm attempted to brave it's painful effects. They didn't get far before either a White Court cut them down, or someone from RNJR smashed/cut/decapitated them. In the presence of a sword, the Grimm were hardly a threat at all.

They had just about one hundred feet to go before the portal, practically the home stretch. So of course, it was then that something went wrong.

It was as Harry ducked under a Beowolves swipe and froze its head in Winter ice, that a bolt of lighting arced from the clouds overhead and smashed against the airport. The thunder that followed was practically physical in its presence, stunning all those present. Harry stumbled back and shook his head, regaining his line of sight in time to see a pair of shapes hurtle out of the sky and crash into the airport where lightning had struck a moment ago. The facade shattered in stone and glass, the upper floors collapsing and sliding off onto the tarmac in a great heap.

Harry felt his blood run cold. "Molly." he murmured.

Karrin looked up at him and then at the building, "Oh no."

Molly was their ace in the hole, the keystone to their plan. She was the only one among them strong enough to hold Cinder back until they closed the portal, maybe even beat her. But if Molly lost, or was put out of commission for whatever reason, Cinder would be free to unleash unholy hell on the entire expedition. That wasn't even considering what Cinder might do to Molly if she won.

Harry glanced at Ramirez and up ahead in Butters direction. He was still tearing through Grimm, cutting them down left and right as he rain. One of those griffin Grimm came screaming towards him, only for the edges of its wings to erupt in flames when it got too close. It crashed to the ground and was crushed under paw and foot.

They could take care of themselves fine, as long as the Sword was wielded properly. Harry looked to Ramirez, who was looking at where the Fall Maiden and Winter Lady had crashed.

Ramirez didn't even look at him as he spoke, "I'll keep things together till you get back Harry. I can handle a suicidal charge towards a gateway into hell. I do it every other Thursday in fact."

Harry clapped a hand on his shoulder, "Thanks Carlos."


With a gesture of his hand, Harry beckoned for Karrin to follow. Together they broke off from the main force towards the gaping wound in the side of the airport. Most of the Grimm were focused squarely on Butters, leaving plenty of open ground for them. Harry only prayed that they would make it in time.

This was far too easy, Jaune realized.

In the confusion that had followed the arrival of those strange flying machines, he hadn't been able to keep up with all the new faces that had joined them. All he knew was that this Butters guy had a weapon that scared the Grimm, which seemed almost paradoxical. Grimm existed to terrorize, not to be terrorized. But the weapon proved effective and he wasn't going to complain about that.

Without the rest of Cinders team to slow them down, the sheer power that had been unleashed to push through the Grimm had been staggering. Combined with Butters sword, it made logical sense that their sprint had been so easy. But something scratched at the back of Jaunes mind, something that screamed that this was far too easy.

Turns out, he was right.

As the portal finally came into view, which was enough to give Jaune a headache just looking at it, a pair of Beringels came barreling out from the other side. With the power of the Sword, they didn't last long, their flesh burning and the White Courts descending on them like a pack of rabid wolves. Jaune didn't know what the White Courts were, besides pants tighteningly beautiful, but it was also very clear they weren't even remotely human. Which kind of counter balanced the pants tightening to manageable levels.

When the Beringels went down, the massive wolves leaped over the White Courts with Butters in the lead and made a dead sprint for the portal. They got within ten feet of it, when there was a shout, and a wall of invisible force exploded from the portal. It felt like a train hit Jaune across his entire body, knocking him flat on his face. The train decided to park itself on his back, as he found himself pinned flat to the floor.

He strained to move his head and eyes, and saw that it wasn't just him. The rest of his team, the White Courts, Butters, even the Wardens and Marcones people had been pinned to the ground. A handful of Wardens remained standing, but they were fiercely focused on the ground, mouths murmuring furiously in incantations.

Jaune looked forward again and felt his heart drop. Butters lay spread eagle on the ground, clearly trying and failing to get up. The wolves were similarly crushed beneath this invisible weight, and the Sword and its light was nowhere to be seen. Already, the Grimm were beginning to approach. Those that drew too close though, found themselves pinned as well, which was a small relief.

Looking past Butters, Jaune saw the culprit responsible for this swift change of events. A man clad in dark robes stood on the other side of the portal, both hands spread. His face was hidden behind his robes, but when he spoke, his voice rumbled through the air like thunder.

"Arrogant fools. Did you truly believe you could so easily approach this Anchor? No, your time on this world is over, change comes to Earth and to Remnant, and I am it's instrument."

As he finished speaking, shapes filled the portal, familiar ghostly shapes that filled Jaune with dread.

There were two of them, both far larger than the one he had seen before. They floated over the ground like ghosts, made of a semi-transparent black substance shaped in a vaguely humanoid torso. Their arms were far too long and ended in three clawed hands, while they wore a pale white mask over their shapeless heads. They were called Geists, and from the looks of it, these two were very, very old.

As they pulled themselves through the portal, both Geists darted forward into the air, spreading their unnaturally long arms wide, and then rocketing forward into the debris that littered the battlefield. The hulking burnt out remains of flying machines shuddered and pulsed with malevolent energy, steel groaning and creaking under the strain of Grimm power.

Jaune couldn't see all of what happened next. What he saw was a mass of steel and concrete slam down in front of the portal, blocking it from view. It took Jaune a moment to realize that what he was looking at wasn't its leg or body, but the Geist's newly formed hand. He forced himself to follow it higher and higher and higher, watching as debris seemed to lift itself into place, forming a new body of ruined machinery.

A pair of burning white eyes, the Geists themselves, burned at what would be the colossus's 'head', close to two hundred feet above them all. The sound of combat from the Fae battlelines went utterly still as this hulking giant took form, and looked over the airport.

The bottom of its head split open into a steel filled 'mouth' and released a scraping hiss like rocks on steel. With one swipe of its massive arm, it shattered the Fae batteline. Magics bounced off the steel shell, and any Fae directly hit by it ignited into a screaming mass of fire. The Geists tilted back their head and let loose a metallic roar that deafened Jaune and shattered glass within a quarter mile radius.

And the Grimm responded in kind.

Cinder Fall staggered to her knees, and spat blood from her mouth. There was a cut on the inside of her lip, a minor annoyance to go with the rest of the small cuts and bruises that lined her body. Molly hadn't overpowered her Aura, the girl had made no attempt at it. But Cinder had very quickly learned that Molly had no intention of fighting fair.

She was no stranger to illusions, Emerald specialized in them after all, but Molly was in a league all her own. It had been a struggle for Cinder to retain even a basic understanding of the world around her, and nearly every time she attempted to strike at Molly, it had been revealed to be another trick. That was when Molly would strike, when Cinder simply couldn't defend herself in time.

Attempting to keep her Aura up at all times was difficult and exhausting. Obviously Cinder knew how and when to apply it, but she didn't even have a basic sense of where Molly would strike from, and that paranoia had eaten away at her as much as Molly's quick strikes.

What had evened the score in Cinder's eyes though, was when she had simply had enough of those hit and run attacks and grabbed Molly around the chest during her next attack. Together, they had plummeted from the sky into the airport, an impact that had been more exhausting than Cinder had anticipated.

She stared at both her hands, which still retained the burns from her fight with Pyrrha. The girl had put a greater strain on her than Cinder had anticipated, and Molly was taking her apart as a result. A very real nugget of fear had lodged itself into Cinders mind, a fact that she refused to accept as possible.

Molly might win.

Cinder, could lose.

That very thought sent spasms of anger through her frame, and she ground her teeth together, feeling power surge back into her once again.

"Oh my, someone's angry." Molly practically sang.

Cinder's head snapped up, in time to see Molly kick her across the chin, sending her flying onto her back with stars in her eye. Molly chuckled and slowly walked towards Cinder, her boots thudding against the concrete floor. She sidestepped a piece of iron rebar on the floor, and dusted her hands off.

"I'm curious Cinder," Molly said as she walked towards her, "how does it feel to be powerless?"

With a wave of her fingers, ice began forming along Molly's fingers in long claw like appendages. Molly flexed her fingers, and let loose a predatory grin. Frost coated the edges of the Fae armor she wore, and her eyes were wide with excitement and pleasure.

"How does it feel to be the victim!?" she lashed her hand out, releasing the shards of ice as she did. Cinder rolled aside as the ice embedded itself where her head had been a minute ago.

Molly was at her side in an instant and landed a savage kick in her side, knocking the air from her. Cinder curled on the ground and glared up at Molly. Molly sneered at her, "How does it feel, Cinder, to watch all you've worked for, your hopes and dreams, die!?"

She stomped on Cinder's stomach, hard. Cinder gagged and gasped for air, while Molly casually knocked her over onto her stomach. More anger filled Cinder, and she clenched her fists tight, scraping her knuckles against rubble and ash. She whirled to her feet, unleashing a ball of fire that passed right through Molly without a hint of resistance.

The illusion faded and Molly took a handful of Cinders hair and slammed her against the nearest wall. It cracked and Cinder lay there unmoving, letting Molly approach her and pin her to the wall by the throat.

"Well, Cinder?" Molly asked, "Any final words before I drag you screaming to Arctis Tor? I'm sure my boss will love tearing everything you know from you piece by piece. Right now though?"

She pushed hard, until the wall behind Cinder cracked and she gasped for air. Molly's grin went wide, and the walls and floors around them began to layer in frost.

"Oh, right now I'm just enjoying this. After all you've done, you're finally getting what you deserve. Payback, for the lives you took, the homes you destroyed, and the world's you've damaged. It's end of the line, Cinder, so I'd make your last words something snappy. Something good for the history books."

Cinder opened her one good eye, and looked at Molly expressionless. "You talk too much." she rasped.

There was no warning when Cinder tried to slam the iron bolt into the side of Molly's skull. Molly had been expecting some form of final attack, and knocked Cinder's hand aside. The bolt fell from her grip, tumbling end over end, and bounced off Molly's cheek.

Brilliant blue and white fire erupted from the touch, and Molly screamed in surprised agony, immediately releasing Cinder to grasp at her cheek. The moment she did, Cinder sprung into action, unleashing her power. She punched at Molly with her bare hands, hitting hard enough to dent the armor plating around her chest and knock her backwards into a fallen pillar. Concrete shattered, revealing the steel supports within.

Cinder sped across the floor between them, grabbed Molly by the face, and slammed her head into the exposed iron once. Molly howled with pure animal agony, fire spreading wherever the iron touched her bare skin. Cinder tossed her to the ground, and ripped the rebar from teh pillar, testing its weight in both hands.

Once satisfied, she turned on Molly, raised it over head, and brought it down on Molly's back. Again and again, she beat the helpless Winter Lady with cold iron, tearing apart the protective armor she wore with each blow. Slowly bits of the armor came apart, exposing slivers of skin. When Cinder saw those, she would drag the bar across them, leaving burns in its wake and eliciting more screams from Molly.

Several times she did this, until Molly was left curled into a ball on the floor, whimpering in pain. Cinder stood over her, panting hard and oh so satisfied. She used one foot to roll Molly onto her back and planted her knee against her chest. With but a thought, Cinder released heat into the iron bar until it glowed red hot.

Grasping it in both hands, Cinder raised it over head, aiming for Molly's throat-


Unseen force crashed into Cinder from behind, sending her tumbling head over heels into the nearest pile of rubble. She quickly got back to her feet, sneering at her new challenger, calling upon her power as the Fall Maiden to smite him down.

Harry Dresden stood in front of Molly's vulnerable form, ice coating his staff and duster in layers, the air trembling with untapped power, and his face twisted in an expression of sheer naked hatred and contempt.

"Stay away from her, you bitch!"

A/N: My original plan for these fight scenes would have been far longer and more complex, but given the time I had to think about it, I realized that they ultimately didn't need to be described in detail. As I write, I'm beginning to learn that not every action and conflict, on a large scale anyway, needs to be detailed. Its the smaller interpersonal conflicts that are more important. Things like what happened this chapter benefit better from general summarization and grand scale. I only hope I managed to do that well.

Which brings me to what might be a mild point of contention, how fast the Beringel went down. To that I'll point out that it was ambushed by a pair of new opponents, and that the Beringel itself has been shown to be particularly weak to thrust based stabbing attacks. Hence why the greatest damage done to it, was via stabbing and by beings that can move fast enough to pull off attacks like that.

That's another thing, I've been rereading the Dresden Files again and I realize I kinda horrible nerfed the White Court. While they could never match a Huntsman in terms of endurance or what they could do with their Semblance, a White Court is more than fast and strong enough to temporarily match or even surpass a huntsman. This would of course vary depending on the Huntsman and White Court Vampire, but the point still stands. When I inititate Project Editorial Mandate, that is one of the first things I'll be rectifying.

Anyway, rant out of the way, I'm surprised by how fast I got this chapter out. No idea when the next will go up, hope it'll go up soon. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and please let me know what you thought in the comments below. Feel free to pester me with questions too. Otherwise, I'll see you all next time!