Home was a cabin near the edge of the forest, with walls of carefully carved wood. Her father had always proudly said that he'd built it himself, though having seen him when it was time for repairs she had some doubt about that. She'd always wanted to play hide and seek with Yang in the forest, but he'd always said it was too dangerous, and by the time they were old enough to protect themselves Yang hadn't been interested anymore. She'd been sad back then that they lived in a place so isolated, but ever since she'd started training with Uncle Qrow, her opinion had changed completely; she couldn't imagine living in a city where you weren't allowed to do weapon training on a whim.

A quick glance revealed that they didn't seem to have any visitors today, which was good news; she wasn't sure if she could keep a secret from Yang, let alone from multiple people at once. Taking a deep breath, she composed herself and reached for the door.

"Hey, sis, whatcha doing?"

Two strong hands settled on her shoulders as the words were whispered in her ear, and she could only let out a yelp of panic, pivoting around and backing into the door, wide silver eyes meeting a familiar sight.

"Y-Yang! Don't sneak up on me like that!"

"I didn't sneak at all though, you were totally zoned out." Throwing her arm over Ruby's shoulder, Yang threw the door open and all but dragged her inside. "So, what's on your mind? Finally found a cute guy? You're going to have to introduce us."

"No!" Making a face at the very thought, Ruby sent a scorching look toward her sister's grin. "It's not like that, it's just... you're leaving for Beacon."

"Oh." The arm's embrace grew stronger, all but pulling Ruby into a hug. "Well, you know, two years isn't that long really. I know it seems like a lot, but you managed at home when I started going to Signal, and you're going to be a lot busier with your last two years."

"Y-yeah, I guess you're right." It wasn't really a lie, Ruby reasoned; it was true that she wasn't looking forward to two years in which she would barely get to see her sister. "Besides, I'll finally get to have fun without worrying that you'll interrogate my friends."

Knuckles rapped on her skull in response as Yang started to roughly brush her hair, until suddenly the blonde frowned in worry, her free hand feeling at Ruby's arm.

"Your muscles are all tense, you've been swinging your scythe. Did something happen on the way here?"

"Hm, not really." Grateful for the change of subject, she gave a small smile. "I...went to visit mom, but I ran into some Grimm on the way back."

"Makes sense."

It did, at that. Graves were notoriously dangerous places - not because there was anything dangerous about the graves themselves, but simply because the feelings they stirred up tended to shine like a beacon to all the Creatures of Grimm in the area. There was a reason why people were buried far away from their home, at least outside of major cities.

Her sister's casual reaction to her report did bring to mind Merlot's earlier accusations; how many Grimm did Yang imagine, when she said she'd met "some"? Yang wasn't like the other students at Signal, she had a fair idea of how strong she was; the two of them had sparred from time to time, though never seriously.

Could Yang have done what she did back there? ...Probably not. She was extremely strong and skilled in her own ways, but the way she fought wasn't suited for large groups. It was a bad comparison to begin with.

Besides, it didn't matter who could beat the most Grimm. She really would miss Yang while she was at Beacon, so it was better to just enjoy her company as much as possible before she left.


As the night started to draw late, an unexpected intruder approached the rustic house, its mechanical eyes focused on the second floor window.

It was risky to approach the house of a trained Huntsman as closely as he had; the unit that he used to keep an eye on his pet project had some combat ability, but nowhere near enough to even hope to escape against such an opponent. Fortunately he'd managed to gain access to the mission records that were kept at Signal Academy, and therefore he was certain that Taiyang Xiao-Long wasn't home, and wouldn't be home for quite a while.

His daughters were more than talented enough to defeat a simple platform, but he was confident that he could make up an excuse if Ruby discovered it. The risk of being found by her sister was real, but no great threat; he could easily send a replacement and she wasn't the kind that would investigate into where it came from to a degree that would be bothersome. It was still a risk he would rather not take, but he had no choice; once she set out on her journey, his student would doubtlessly keep her scroll with her at all times.

The advanced receptors registered the voices of the two girls coming from the kitchen on the first floor, and so he began his task. The unit's hand detached, using a small propeller located in its wrist to assist in its climb up the wall until it reached the window. It was unlocked, as he knew it would; Ruby had mentioned in casual conversation that they rarely locked the house when they were present, the kind of detail that he made certain to keep in mind.

Finding the scroll was even simpler than he'd imagined; it had simply been tossed carelessly on her bed. After that, it was a simple matter for him to make the necessary changes; most of its functions had no need of alteration, the only thing that mattered was turning off its locator, and gaining control of its ability to deliver and receive messages. It was for her own good; talent like hers wouldn't prosper if she was constantly kept under the watchful eye of an overprotective father.

The deed was completed in a manner of minutes, and the remote-controlled hand hastily pulled back, using the footage he'd taken earlier to make sure that the scroll was back where it had started before scuttering out of the window to rejoin the main body.

Not much longer left now before he could move on to the next stage of this particular experiment, the very thought made him giddy. How Oz hadn't found out about this particular diamond in the rough, he didn't know. Perhaps age was catching up with him, or perhaps it was simply a matter of chance; it was pure coincidence that had led to his meeting her after all. Perhaps that same stroke of luck had kept her from falling into anyone else's hands.

Wasting an opportunity was a grave sin, and so he wouldn't. The experiment would last as long as possible, until he had all the results he needed. It certainly wouldn't be interrupted by the call of a worried father asking her where she was and making her rethink striking out on her own.