Dark.

Inside her cell, Fareeha could hear everything going on outside. War had broken out... Salem's attacks has grown bigger and more dangerous. Fareeha has had plenty of time to think since she turned herself in... She was thinking about everything that's been happening, all the things her friends had done... all the things she had done. And she was thinking about what was happening now. People where in danger, and she was just sitting here... her friends where likely fighting for their lives, and she was just sitting here... suddenly, her breathing became faster and she grabbed her head, shaking a little.

"You ok kid?" Robyn asked, noticing Fareeha's sudden change.

"DAMN IT!" Fareeha suddenly screamed, making everyone else jump, and Qrow jolted awake "Damn it! How could I have been so unbelievably stupid!?".

Qrow looked at her in confusion "Fareeha? What's wrong?".

Fareeha got up and punched the hard light shield of her cell "What the hell was I thinking!? People are in danger, and I'm just sitting here like a useless moron!".

"Wow, what brought on this sudden change?" Robyn asked.

"It's not sudden! I've been thinking about this non stop ever since Elm said those things to me. She was right, my mother would be very disappointed in me if she could see me now! I need to get out of here! I need to help my people!" Fareeha said as she keeps punching her cell walls, as if hoping they would go down if she hit them enough.

"Well how nice to see you've found your spine again. But how exactly are you going to help anyone? in case you've forgotten, you can't just simply walk out of here" Watts reminded.

"Shut up! I will find a way out! I will-" Fareeha began but paused when she heard something "Wait, what is that?".

Watts glances nervously at a wall seconds before a fiery blast collides with it.

"Get down!" Qrow shouts.

The blast shoots past them, leaving a pile of rubble and small fires in its wake. Robyn lowers the hand protecting her eyes to the sound of a crow screeching. She glances up, then lowers her head back down as more debris falls toward them. Fareeha quickly began to shine as debris fell on her.


Meanwhile, Nora slowly opens her eyes. Her vision is blurred. She blinks a few more times before opening to see her arm covered in burn scars and a bed.

"No need to worry, miss. You and your friend are going to be just fine" Klein said he glances down with friendly brown eyes after adjusting some medical tubes.

Nora's vision turns to the sound of a door being opened. Blake is opening a door for Ruby, Weiss , and Whitley, who are carrying an unconscious Penny, while Hana carries an barely conscious Lena on her back.

"She lost consciousness. And she's... leaking" Blake said.

"Set her down, set both of them down" Klein ordered.

Ruby, Weiss and Whitley set Penny on a bed next to Nora's, while Hana puts Lena down on the same bed as Nora, which was luckily big enough for both. Whitley is grimacing at the green coolant that stains his clothes. Ruby and Weiss do the same.

"Can you help her?" Ruby asked.

Klein scans Penny with his scroll, which locates an injury at her waist. His eyes are red as he assesses the damage "Even based on what you've told me, I hardly know what she is" He coughs, and his eyes turn from red to brown "Ahem, but, her basic anatomy seems similar enough. I can at least stitch up that wound".

"And Lena? Will she be ok?" Hana asked in concern for her teammate.

Klein looks at Lena "Luckily, she is not seriously injured. A quick patch up and she should recover once she's rested".

Ruby looked relieved that at least Lena would be ok. A thundery crash sounds from outside. Everyone present glances in that direction. The power suddenly goes out.

Whitley looked annoyed "Oh, that's just rich".

"Sure, why not add a power outage to our growing list of problems?" Hana asked sarcastically.

Ruby takes out her ringing scroll. May's voice comes through "Everyone okay back there? Just saw another bombing run light up the kingdom".

Ruby glances out the window "Looks like part of the city lost power. We're okay though".

"Sorry I couldn't stick around, but time's running out for everyone in the crater" May said.

"No, we're sorry. Once we know what's wrong with Penny, we'll... we'll do something" Ruby assured the best she could.

"Don't beat yourself up, kid. At this point I don't know how much is left to be done" May said.

As May ends the call, Ruby starts to tear up "It's all just... too much. The Grimm, the crater, Lena, Nora, Penny... How do we fix all of it?".

Weiss puts a reassuring hand on Ruby's shoulder as Klein sneezes, his eyes light blue "One step at a time, my dear" He sneezes again, his eyes returning to brown "You can't worry about fixing everything. Simply focus on what's in front of you. If you'd like some place to start, I'd be able to work faster if you could bring the power back on".

Ruby tried to think "Well, how would we-".

"We have a generator near the edge of the estate" Willow is leaning on a doorframe, a bottle of alcohol in hand.

Whitley huffs, crossing his arms "So kind of you to join us, mother".

"Believe it or not, I am above drinking in the dark" Willow said and then notices Klein with them "Oh, hello, Klein".

Klein gives his former employer a silent nod.

"SDC executives have their own auxiliary power supplies in case of a city-wide blackout. It's extremely unfair, but perhaps now isn't such a bad time for company perks" Weiss said.

"I say your company perks has already done a lot of good for us" Hana said.

Whitley glances out the window and seems to come to an epiphany "We don't just have perks".

Weiss looks at him "Hm?".

Whitley smiles in realisation "We have the company. The people you mentioned in the crater, they need a way out, right? There are rows and rows of cargo ships just sitting in the hangars because of the embargo".

"And our own automated drones, like the ones at Snow Shoe Shipping" Weiss remembered.

"We can order as many as we need to pilot our ships down to the crater and get people to safety, while the Grimm are occupied with the general's forces" Whitley said.

"We can?" Blake asked

"I can. I just need father's computer" Whitley said.

"Then we definitely need to get the power back on" Ruby declared. Before they head out, she removes Lena's goggles and puts them around her neck "Hang in there Lena... I'll be back soon".


Hana, Blake and Ruby sprint to the power shed outside Schnee Manor and push open the gates. Ruby throws a lever on the backup generator, and it hums to life. The words STARTUP SEQUENCE - POWER BACKUP can be seen on its main display.

"Oh, come on, come on" She said, sounding really stressed.

"Don't worry. It'll work" Blake assured.

Ruby looks down "Nothing else has".

"Ruby..." Hana said in a sympethetic tone.

"I know you don't always know what to do, but that's never stopped you from doing something. I was like that as a girl, but time and... a lot of other things, took their toll on me. Then I wasn't sure if that kind of girl could actually survive in the world... until I met you. It was a little strange at first because you were younger, but I've always looked up to you, Ruby. And I still do" Blake said, meaning every word.

"She right Ruby. You are one of the strongest people I have ever met. Even when everything looked hopeless, you never gave up. And you always keep fighting, and you never stray from the path you believe in. You keep going where most others would've just given up... And that's one of the main reasons why I haven't give up" Hana said, and just like Blake, she meant what she said.

Ruby tears up again, and seems to be reassured "Thanks... both of you".

The generator finally reaches operational capacity, and power is restored to Schnee Manor. Whitley, who is waiting in his father's study, practically pounces on the keyboard of the desktop terminal as Weiss looks on. Blake seems satisfied at a job well done, but her ears droop, and her expression turns to one of shock as she regards something Ruby.

"What?" Ruby asked, confused by her friend's sudden look of worry.

The Hound's silhouette can be seen in front of a flash of lightning through a window behind Ruby.

"Ruby look out!" Hana shouts, but it was to late.

Ruby is thrown through a hole in the wall of the power shed. The Hound roars menacingly at her. Blake tries to land a blow, but her strike is deflected. The Hound lunges forward, and Ruby avoids it using her Semblance.

"What is this thing?!" She asked in shock of the sudden attack.

"It's just a Grimm. Just focus" Blake fires at the Hound as Ruby takes a deep breath in preparation to use her Silver Eyes. Blake leaps off a wall to attack, but is knocked aside.

"Blake!" Hana cried out as she fires at the large grimm with her pistol, but the Hound barely even noticed it.

"Take the girl" The Hound said as it charges, pinning Ruby to the ground. Her Aura shimmers weakly.

Blake gets back onto her feet "Ruby!".

With a roar, the Hound sprouts newly formed wings from its back. It begins to take off, Ruby in tow, but Blake manages to get her weapon around one of its feet, and stabs her sheath into the ground to tether it, Hana quickly joins in as both did their best to keep the grimm from flying away with Ruby.

Meanwhile, Weiss arrives at the scene, speaking into her Scroll "Klein!".


In Weiss' bedroom, Klein is tending to Penny as Willow pours herself a drink.

"There's a Grimm here and others might be nearby. Keep everyone together and call if there's trouble" Weiss said.

"Of course" Klein said.

Willow's hands are shaking violently, and she loses her grip on the cup and bottle. They shatter against the floor, which doesn't do her nerves any good.

Klein looks at her "Madame, please try to calm yourself".

Unbeknownst to either of them, Penny's eyes snap open, her irises an ominous red color. Willow panics, before running out the door "I can't do this. I can't do this!".

"Willow, please come back!" Klein called after her before he notices Penny standing, and turns to her "Goodness, try not to-".

Penny, clearly not in her right mind, throws Klein aside. He falls against a chair, which clatters to the ground. Penny takes a step toward him, then her eyes flicker between red and her usual green. She stumbles back and grabs her head.

"No, not again!" She said in distress.

At the power shed, Weiss launches a barrage of icy projectiles at the airborne Hound, but misses. She stabs her rapier into the ground, using her Semblance to call forth a Giant Nevermore, but it is destroyed mid-summon as Centinels join the fray. Blake is momentarily distracted as a Centinel tries to attack, and the Hound shakes off its tether, climbing higher into the sky.

"No!" Blake calls after it in worry.

"Give her back!" Hana said as she wanted to shoot the grimm, but didn't want to risk hitting Ruby.

The Hound was about to fly away, but suddenly it smelled the air and noticed the sent it was tracking wasn't only coming from Ruby... and was stronger in the direction of the manor..

Ruby looks at the goggles she took of Lena "It's not here for me, it's here for Lena!".

Realizing it was holding the wrong girl, The Hound changes targets, dropping Ruby and taking off for the manor. Weiss notices her falling helplessly.

"Ruby!" She calls out as her friend hits the ground hard, her Aura dissipating.

Blake destroys the last Centinel, then turns to Weiss "Help the others, We've got her".

"Yes! They need you Weiss!" Hana added.

Weiss casts one last worried look at Ruby, then heads to the manor herself. Hana and Blake crosses the yard to help Ruby, but another Grimm emerges from the ground, barring their path. A Cenitaur drags itself into view and screeches, its body churning with bright green acid.

"Oh come on!" Hana said in frustration.


Back in the manor, Penny struggles to maintain control as Klein watches, unable to do anything.

Whenever her eyes turn red, she takes a step toward Klein "You're okay. Please!".

Penny's eyes alternate chaotically between red and green, and she appears to be in pain "I don't want to do it".

A hand reaches out to grab Penny's "Hey..." Penny is taken by surprise as she looks down at a weak Nora "No one's going to make you do anything you don't want to do".

Penny fights against the hack in her system, her words coming out haltingly "But there is a part of me... It's making me...".

"It's just a part of you. Don't forget about the rest" Nora said weakly.

Nora gives Penny's hand a weak squeeze. Penny seems to have taken control for the moment, and kneels by Nora's bedside. Klein receives a transmission on his Scroll.

"Klein, it's coming inside. Stay quiet. I'm on my way" Weiss said.

"Do hurry. Whitley and Willow have yet to return" Klein said.

"What? Where'd Mom go?" Weiss asked.


Willow bursts through the doors of her room, breathing heavily. She reaches for a bottle on a nearby table, but seems to harden her resolve, seeing her Scroll next to it. A distant crash has her yelping in surprise. The Hound has entered the manor's entrance hall, and sniffs around for Lena. She was close but pinpointing her location was going to be tricky as she didn't leave any clear trail to follow. It only caught her sent by pure luck, but now her sent was all over the place... But it could feel Lena's smell was stronger in a certain direction, so it began to follow it. Nora and Penny look horrified at the Grimm's distant sniffling sounds.

Weiss reaches the manor as well, stepping lightly and looking for the Hound. Suddenly her Scroll beeps "Above you!".

Weiss narrowly dodges as the Hound drops from the ceiling, but it swings its' arm, knocking her backward. Her Aura shimmers as she slams into the piano behind her. She fires icy projectiles at the Hound as it leaps onto the second landing, and it roars indignantly before crawling out of sight.

Weiss uses her scroll "Mom?".

In Willow's room, her bottle lies in pieces. She brings up several camera feeds showing the manor's surveillance on her Scroll "I... I can see it. It's outside Winter's old room. I- You can kill it? Can't you?".

"What is it doing?" Weiss asked she heads for the stairs as she talks. The Hound is shown prowling the hallway, sniffing.

"I'm not sure. It's acting strange. Why is it here?" Willow asked.

Weiss climbs the stairs, her rapier at the ready "It doesn't matter. Just keep an eye on it so I can track it down".

Willow takes a breath to steady herself "Right. Right. Okay. It's moving again. Heading towards... Oh no! It's heading for Klein and the others!".

Weiss got wide eyes. Lena was with them! If any of them tries to fight the hound, they will die. She needs to hurry. Back in Weiss' room, Lena was finally waking up. She sat up with a groan, rubbing her head in pain.

"Ms, please hold still" Klein said.

"What happened...?" Lena asked before she could hear The Hound in the distance "What's going on?".

"There is a grimm in the building. We have been told to lay low and let the others handle it" Klein answered.

Lena got out of bed "Like hell I am staying here".

Klien's eyes turned red "Listen here young lady. You will stay here and that's final".

"Try to stop me if you think you can" Lena said before looking at Penny who was struggling with her programming "Hang in there Penny. Once the danger is over, we will help you".

"Lena..." Penny barely managed to get out before Lena left the room.

Outside the room, Lena saw The Hound looking at her, it smelled the air before speaking "Found... you".

Lena was surprised it could talk, but there was no time for that now "You want me? Come and get me!".

The Hound growls as it charges at her. Lena waited for the right moment before using her semblance to blink behind it, avoiding it's attempt to pounce at her. Knowing The Hound was only after her, Lena had to lead it away from the others. So she began running, with an angry Hound chasing her.


Blake is doing battle with the Cenitaur, blocking its strikes and leaping out of the way of its acid spit. Hana jumps at it from behind, trying to stab it with her blade, but it quickly shakes her of.

"Why did it get more disgusting?" Blake asked.

"Beats me! But it's so gross!" Hana said as she avoids some more acid spit, while Ruby is still unconscious behind the Grimm.

"I don't know if you can hear me, but we need you, Ruby. We all need you" Blake said detonates a fire dust-infused clone in front of the Cenitaur, and goes in for a strike, but it knocks her off her feet.

Hana quickly ran in, slashing it with her sword before dodging it's claws and shot it several times, but was knocked down and the grimm was about to stab her, before Blake jumps in front of Hana. She forms an ice dust-infused clone around the blades on its arms, and tries attacking again, but she is hit with her own solid clone and collides with a wall, her Aura shimmering weakly.

"Please, get up" Blake begged Ruby.

The Cenitaur grabs Hana as she tries to move, its twitching mandibles nearing her neck. It suddenly stiffens and dissipates. Ruby can be seen behind the disintegrating Grimm, having used her weapon to bisect it.

She turns to Blake, chuckling "I could hear you" She offers Hana a hand "You ok?".

Hana accepts the hand "Yeah, thanks to you".

Blake lets out a relieved sigh, and accepts a helping hand from both Hana and Ruby to get back on her feet. Then Penny's distant scream has them turning to look back at the manor.


Penny is struggling more than ever to maintain control "I'm sorry!".

With one last grunt, Watts' hack takes over and her eyes stay red. Klein tries to stop her, but Penny simply pushes him away and leaves Weiss' bedroom. Meanwhile Lena was still playing a dangerous game of chase with The Hound, which she was barely able to stay ahead of. The Hound finally catches up, and hits her in the back, causing her to be sent flying across the floor. She looks behind her to see The Hound leaping at her, and she used her semblance to avoid it again.

She reaches the main staircase, breathing heavily. But The Hound was soon on her again, hitting her down some of the smaller stairs, making her land in front of the large stairs. The Hound pins her down, and growls before it was suddenly attacked from behind by Penny, who knocked it away.

"Penny?" Lena said confused.

Penny looked at her with red robotic eyes "I must bring the Maiden back, and then self-terminate".

"What?" Lena asked before Penny grabbed her "Penny don't!".

The Hound appears and locks hands with Penny, making her drop Lena and forcing them both into a standstill. Then a third arm emerges from its back and slams Penny into the floor repeatedly. It growls out each word of its order every time Penny hits the ground.

"Take. The. Girl" The Hound lifts an unconscious Penny with one hand before tossing her aside and looks at Lena "Take. The. Girl!".

"Stay away from me!" Lena yells as she tries to move away, but The Hound grabs her.

"Get of her!" Weiss who had finally caught up shouted as she tries to attack the Hound. Which holds up Lena as a shield, forcing Weiss to hesitate, and leaving her wide open for The Hound to knock her away.

Ruby, Hana, Weiss, and Blake return to the manor, with Ruby crying out in worry "Lena!".

The Grimm raises a claw to Lena's throat, causing the girls to stop in their tracks.

Ruby's voice turns uncharacteristically low, matching her anger and indignation "That's... enough".

Hana, Weiss and Blake turn to look at her as a bright light emanates from her Silver Eyes. The Hound drops Lena and stumbles back, falling through the window behind it. Lena tumbles down the staircase, coming to a rest at the four girls' feet. They rush the check on her, but the Hound slowly crawls back into view.

As it drags itself back onto the landing, its inner core is visible: the head of a decrepit Silver-Eyed male fox Faunus with unsightly veins covering his face, dark fluid seeping from his one eye and ear, and exposed musculature by his jaw. As it lumbers down the stairs and its joints crack back into place, the head repeats its orders in a raspy voice. Even Ruby is stunned at the horrific sight.

"Take... the girl. Take the girl. Take the girl. Take the girl!" It repeated over and over again.

Lena watched it get closer and closer... then her eyes flared up with her Maiden power "GET AWAY FROM US! JUST GO AWAY!".

She suddenly rushed the Hound with an angry yell, before anyone could even try to stop her. She grabs The Hound's exposed face... and it began to freeze.

"GO AWAY! GO AWAY! GO AWAY!" Lena screams as she uses her full Maiden power to freeze The Hound solid.

When she finally let go... The Hound fell on the floor... and shattered. Lena had frozen it inside out, leaving nothing left than the frozen pieces of it's corpse.

Lena's Maiden power simmered down and she realized what she had done. She fell to her knees and began to vomit. Ruby ran up to her and quickly hugged her.

"It's ok Lena. You are safe now" Ruby said.

Lena was shaking in utter terror as she looked at the pieces of the dead Hound before she began rubbing her hands together, like she was trying to warm herself up "It's so cold... It's so cold... It's so cold... It's so cold... It's so cold...".

Ruby tries to comfort her girlfriend while staring in shock at the Hound's dead remains.

"What was that?" Weiss asked.

"That was... a person" Ruby answered.

"So cold... so cold... so cold..." Lena repeated.


Meanwhile, at the Atlas holding cells, Cinder tears away a chunk of rubble and smirks down at Watts "You know, this may be the first time I've ever been happy to see you".

"Cinder" Watts said as Cinder grabs his hand and helps him up, letting him lean on her " What are you-".

Cinder covers his mouth with her Grimm arm, cutting his sentence short "It's my turn to ask for something".

She raises Watts onto her shoulders in a fireman's lift, then heads for the hole she blasted in the wall. A trio of Atlesian soldiers burst into the room, two with rifles and the third with a rocket launcher "It's her!".

Cinder scoffs as the soldiers aim their weapons at her. Flames burst into existence at her feet, and she propels herself past the soldiers just as they fire their weapons. An explosion can be heard from inside the room as she zooms out into the Atlesian sky, giving one last smug look back.

As she was flying away, Fareeha had managed to protect herself with her semblance. Seeing the hole Cinder had made, she knew this was her best chance to escape. She didn't want to leave the rest, but she had to trust them to be able to take care of themselves. So she ran, knocking down the soldiers and stole one of their rocket launchers and leaps through the hole in the wall.

Using her semblance to slow her fall, she knew she had to find her friends... and if she knew anything about them, there was only one place in Atlas they could be. And if they are not there, then she could at least use the place to contact them.

She had a lot to do... and her first step: Reunite with her friends, and hope for the best.

.

Tell me what you think.