Quiet

It was quiet in her office, nothing but the sounds coming from the screen in front of her and those of her own thoughts.

The day was as busy as ever, perhaps even a bit more so with the recent developments. First it was the matters with the anti SRED faunus, then it was dealing with the Atlesian council, and then….the incident with Ruby and the new Grimm, and now , working out the next step on how to defeat this new threat. Each event has taken its toll on her, some much more than the other. Ruby's predicament for instance was particularly bad, effectively rendered her out of commission for a whole good week, and even up until now when everything is supposedly back to the way it was, the sense of pain and guilt always creeps back to her whenever she look at, or hear about her ever-cheerful partner. She had planned to ask Yang and Jaune for counsel, seeing how they have had their own fair share of personal pain and how to get over it, but her duties always stopped her from doing it. More importantly, if its not her working ethics then it was her own personal pride that is holding her back, on that has grown and empowered since she was a small child.

Yes , she was Weiss Schnee, idol, war hero , huntress extraordinaire, heiress to the largest corporation in the world and leader of the most powerful military unit in the world. If she needed to cry, she'd do it by herself for as long as it takes, for a true leader must always remain strong and reliable, especially in times like this.

But then again , … sometimes you wonder,…just how much can one person truly bare.

Leaning back against her chair, Weiss took a long, tired breath. Her eyes stared at the plain white ceiling of her office, as all the thoughts began to dissipate from her mind. The room, which was design in a combined minimalist Gothic manner in order to invoke a sense of power, order and efficiency, ironically now make her feels like a powerless princess locked up in her high tower, surrounded by emptiness and melancholy. She felt like closing her eyes and drifting off to long needed sleep , but was interrupted by a voice over the intercom :

"Commander , agent Rose is requiring permission to see you, she said its an urgent matter."

Weiss seems confused at first, but then regain her composure.

"Let her in"

"Yes commander".

With the voice disappeared, Weiss begins to shift herself back to the busy-looking posture of a leader she always show. Her mind start speeding through the possible situations that could make Ruby want to talk to her directly like this. However before she can come up with an answer, the front door slit open.

Ruby Rose, the ever hyper and charismatic leader of team RWBY and self-proclaimed BFF of the head of the SRED. If there was anything that help Weiss fights through the work load that she has to managed everyday, was the fact that she always had to Ruby to fall back on, whether its actually helping her with missions and work, or just her antics and tease that makes the day a bit more… exciting. However, something is different today.

In place of her usual cheery smile, Ruby instead had a out-of-character fierce and cold and expression. Her piercing silver eyes aims directly at Weiss almost as if she was about to unleash her scythe at the sitting girl. Weiss reacted surprised on the surface, but underneath, she was near terrified of this look – a look full of anger and animosity that she had only seen from Ruby once before, when they were in the final clash with Salem. Before she can think about, Ruby began to move toward her with a quick pace, the room rang with the clanging sound of her mechanical feet stomping against the floor.

"Ruby, what did you need to see me…."

"Explain this"

Ruby slid a scroll towards her. As it stopped just short of the middle of desk, multiple projection of what seems to be data files and research begins to appear, among them, pictures and recording of top secret facilities and experiments revolving around a young-looking girl with long orange hair, some of which looks disturbingly gruesome, as the girls seems to be dismembered and fired upon in a shockingly brutal manner. All of them refers to the same name over and over again : Project Persephone.

Weiss's eyes widen in shock, as she turns from the projections to Ruby. But as she meets those fierce silver orbs again, she responded with a icy demeanor of her own.

"Where did you get this" .Her voice, harsh, and cold, exerting the power that matches her position.

"Explain… now"

"Ruby, you would do well to remember your position,… do not speak to me…"

"I don't give a damn about our positions ! All I want now is answer , so cut the crap Weiss, and answer, do you know about this and do you have anything to do with this."

Weiss was taken aback by Ruby's outburst. The dark-hair huntress now exert an aura of fury similar to that of her older sister when she is enraged. This was the first time that Weiss had been snapped back at like that, and for it to come from Ruby of all people, just makes everything seems more intense. Regaining her thoughts, Weiss let out a sigh before standing up from her chair and began moving towards the nearest window.

"The answer is yes, I do know about her. I'm the one that signed the order to started the damn program. It started when we rediscovered the documentation for the previous self-operating aura carrier program in a closed down Atlesian facility. After that, we managed to track down retrieve the components from the last-known successful experiment as well."

"you mean Penny"

"…"

"Yes Ruby, we found Penny, or at least what remains of her. After that arena battle and the ensuing Grimm attack coupled with the Salem crisis, Ironwood deemed the entire project unnecessary as it had already cost way too much with little practical results to show, therefore all the information relating to it was sealed away, and eventually almost forgotten. That's where we came in. It started out as a restoration passion project for all intended purpose as the potential of creating artificial hunter and huntress were too interesting for the egg heads in the research department, hell the "R" in the SRED is there for a reason you know. And so we managed to retrace the steps all the way to rebuilding the old shell."

"So you did bring Penny back"

"Yes… and no. One of the most incredible thing about Penny was that not only she has the capabilities to produce her own aura, but her A.I functions at level that is near- human perfect. She learns, behaves, emotes, and adapts to her situation, as I believe you were quite aware of from your own experience. This type of programming was beyond us, even now with our current capabilities, and it didn't help that it's the only thing that we didn't managed to find any information about. Luckily, we managed to salvaged and refurbished her old A.I housing system from the old body, but having been lying dormant for the past decade or so, bits and piece of the operating system was corrupted or lost all together. We tried our best to fill in the gaps, to a point of what we saw as close enough to human behavior. Then,…."

Weiss stop, her brows furrow as her grief-filled eyes turn to Ruby.

"You happened Ruby"

Ruby stood motionless, as she tries to figure out what Weiss meant, then it clicked when she look down at the metal limb that is supporting her.

"…"

Weiss look out to the window again

"When I saw what happened to yo , I know that with our current abilities now, we won't be able to hold the new threat back. The recent encounters with Yang and Blake only serve to reaffirm that belief. And not even now, say even if we managed to defeat this threat, what if something even bigger comes. In history, we humans have relied on our ability to evolve and adapt to survive. However, what we exceed in intellect, we lack in actual physical capabilities. That's why machines and weapons were born. Even then, it remains that a machine without a man is destined to become useless and a man without a machine is hardly effective. We need both of those factor to create the perfect weapon to safeguard not only ourselves not only against this threat, but against any threat in the future. We needed something like Penny. Therefore I agree on the proposition to develop a new combat system to be incorporated with this new shell."

Weiss then walk back toward her desk, where the projections of the files were still showing. Then she signaled Ruby to direct her attentions to the individual pictures.

"The weapons system is already underway. But the problem remains with the shell. The fact is the old model was too fragile, therefore we needed to fine a way to increase its defensive capabilities, which involves…. necessary stress testing to see how well each improvements performs against the most severe of attacks. This is what you see here"

"… How long have you been doing this"

" Around 8 months"

" Why didn't you tell me"

Weiss's brows furrows

" Ruby, we're not teens in school anymore, this is a military organization and this is Level 1 classified information. The fact that you know this information and that I'm telling you this information means that we both run the risk of being immediately discharged and put in jail. I know it's unfair, but responsibility comes first."

She then turn to notice Ruby's expression darkens,

" Even when it means torturing the people know ?! I've seen all the recordings Weiss, I've seen her expressions as your scientists pummel her around, I've heard every scream, every grunt, EVERYTHING. She is suffering Weiss. You said it yourself, you have rebuilt her as a human, so what gives any of you the right to be treating her like this ?!"

" Ruby, she's LOOKs human, but she's not, its not her pur…"

Weiss eyes widen as Ruby took hold of her collar and move towards her, eyes burning with fury and small droplets of tears appearing around the corners as she spat

"STOP WITH THE ARTIFICIAL WORDS…. purpose, shell, functions , systems,… Its like you forgot all the time we spent together with her back then. Can't you see that She's Penny, she was our friend. I've seen her for myself Weiss, hooked up like a puppet in that canister of yours, do you know how terrified I was then, how confused I was ?"

"Ruby I'm sorry but,…"

But you know what was worse, its that when I look into her eyes, I don't see some mechanicals components, I saw the eyes that belonged to the person back then, and I remember the last time I saw her, face to face, its like living through all that pain again, watching someone you cared about get ripped in half in front of you. Do you how much it hurts.?

"Yes I,.."

"It make me think about what else you may have been hiding from us Weiss, about yourself, about the SRED, the Grimm, everything. Its like having all these power to yourself have change you Weiss."

"ENOUGH"

Ruby last line stroked a nerve that has been building up with all the stress and emotion that Weiss has been holding on to within herself over the years. At that moment, she a felt like her chest was burning as she fights to keep herself from breaking down. Her fists tighten ever and ever more as she bit onto her lower lip keep the tears from bursting out.

It was then that Weiss begins to fight back the dark-hair woman's grip on her collar, pushing against her to escape it. Slowly lifting her face, one can almost see the light shakes in her shoulder, our hear the muffled heavy breathing underneath the brim of her hat. Then, cold blue pearls faces against their silver counterparts.

"Do you not think that I'm trying my best here … Do you know how hard is it to shoulder all these responsibilities that I have, to have people's lives and essentially the future of humanity placed under your care? Don't you think,…. Don't you think that I know what suffering and pain feels like too, when I see the people who are dear to me get hurt. How did you think I was when I carried you into the carrier with blood covering us from head to toe, how do you think I was when I watched pushed you in that wheel chair, when Yang was helping you walk while I had to carried on with my work. HOW THE LIVING HELL DO YOU THINK I WAS WHEN I WAS SOBBING IN YOUR LAP THEN. I know pain Ruby, maybe even more than you do, and I'm haunted everyday by some of decisions that I had to made but do you know why I do it ? Because It is the duty of a leader to make decisions that will benefit the greater majority. That is not something that I will jeopardize easily, much less for a girl who haven't grown up from her fairytale yet and her "friend" who has always been a machine and that I had minimal history with."

Weiss felt like a weight was lifted off her as she continue on screaming towards the dark-hair huntress. She finally had a valve to express all the problems and concern she had had to deal fit and it particularly felt strangely satisfying to a point of near ecstasy to counter much of her partner's points with what she saw as a better, more logical answer in every single capacity. But in the midst of her "indulgence", Weiss failed to realize that she might have gone to far. As Ruby stood still , her expression hidden the the large bangs of her hair. Weiss came forward with one last verbal jab.

" I do have a lot power Ruby, but it was with this power that I managed to got you out of all the difficulties that we have faced. All the in subordinations, the slacking off, even your legs and rehab, do you know why ? its because you're a critical part to the benefits and safety of the public and the success and efficiency of this organization. The fact that you were my friend only came later since that only serves to…."

SLAP

Everything stop

Her words, her thoughts

All ended with a single eruption that echo around the room.

Weiss couldn't register what happened at first, but then she start to feel a buzz of static like pain ringing across the surface of the left side of her face. As she slowly moves her hands to cover the part that is hurting, she turns head to face the source of the force that struck her. What she saw, probably hurt her even more.

Ruby stood there, her arm fixed in its posture indicating the action it just performed. No longer the fury that she was a couple of minutes ago, her eyes glossed over from tears that forms along the edge, her brows furrow between a state of anger and sad ness. Her teeth gritted and her nose has a slight tinge of red. There was anger there of course, but more than that, it was a look of anguish.

Weiss couldn't stop looking away from the face opposite her as she wanders through the words that she had uttered. Only then, Weiss realized the consequence of the words came from her. Her eyes widen in a state of guilt and panic, and she moves her lips to apologize. However, for some reason, her lips were frozen in place and the words she wants to say never managed to escape the back of her throat.

What seems like an eternity passed before Weiss finally manage to get out the words she wanted.

"Ruby …. I… I'm… "

"I thought you were better than this"

And with that last sentence, the dark-hair huntress swiftly turns and disappeared out of the room. Then as sudden as it came, everything was now back the way it was for the princess in her high tower.

Quiet.