I have returned from the lands of college, my weebish brethren! I now possess a BS in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology!


The sound of screams echoed through the streets of Vale. People were fighting for their lives; with every rock, fist, or knife they had within reach. They fought as hard as they could against the tide of Infected to no avail. Their screams filled the night sky as an Infected got ahold of them.

Fathers refused to leave their children behind even as an Infected had their jaws wrapped around their throat. Mothers collapsed trying to carry their toddler whose ankle had sprained. The rest of the horde caught up to them in fractions of a second. Their bodies were scattered on the asphalt for the Infected to begin picking them apart.

Yang found herself tucked away inside a bus, sheltering with the few others who made it here. The vehicle's cabin doing little to shield the passengers from the outside. Only thin panels of glass kept the Infected away. In no way did they deafen the cacophony of the apocalypse.

'Where's Ruby?'

Yang looked around and could not see her little sister within reach. She could only make out the figure of another passenger praying fervently on the floor. The man sobbed as she spoke his invocation, hoping divine intervention would come of it. None joined him, trying to hide beneath the bus seats or get sleep.

Suddenly, something rocked the side of the bus. An Infected had fallen against the panelling, causing someone inside to let out a frightened shout. The horde outside heard this squeal, leaping to their feet to hunt the source. Their attention now focused on the bus.

Yang dropped to the floor, ducking out of sight. The others followed her example, covering their bodies with jackets or bags as the Infected grew close. Their blood-soaked faces peering into the windows searched for any sign of movement. Dozens of eyes traced every inch of this enclosed space. Yang could feel their hungry glares come over her.

Out of her sight, Yang heard someone stand and dash to the front of the bus. They slammed their hand against the door control, and the panels folded open. Before she could rise to shut them, that runner had been taken down, killed without hesitation. Everyone inside the bus jumped to their height, nearly sprinting to close the door, but it was too late.

Infected began climbing over the runner's dead body. Simultaneously, everyone scrambled to the bus's rear, hoping to create distance, but it was futile. Those closest to the front were grabbed and killed in a shower of blood and screams. The praying man didn't even rise, being leapt upon and dispatched with a bite to the neck.

As more Infected poured into the bus, Yang was trapped against the back window. Infected behind her pounded on the glass, trying to break it open to snatch her. Those in front were closing in. She was watching her death unfold before her.

...

Just as the Infected reached the girl, Yang snapped awake. Covered in sweat and panting furiously, the Blonde rose and looked around the room. A single lamp lighting the space revealed a sleeping Ruby across from her. Zwei appeared equally undisturbed, flicking his ear unconsciously.

Fuck these nightmares...

Almost every night with them. Someone would wake up screaming, alerting everyone in the house to a possible threat. When the screamer calmed down, it wasn't easy to return to bed. Everyone had to remain awake out of fear or anxiety.

Yang probably drank her weight in that shitty drip coffee by now. It was the worst thing ever, but the caffeine was all that was keeping her awake these days.

I need a shower.

Quickly washing up, Yang stepped out of the bathroom. Her wet hair and skin sucked out all the heat from her body. The chill that ran up her spine nearly sent the girl back into her bed. Every step she took on the cold wood floors made Yang feel like she had walked through a meat locker.

Cold...

Shivering, Yang moved to the living room to grab herself a spot on the couch. She could curl up in a blanket and watch a movie to pass the time or until she fell back asleep. Plus, whoever was on guard duty could use the extra set of eyes. They were probably getting ready to nod off and fall asleep without anyone to talk to.

Descending the carpeted stairs, Yang came down into a dark living room. She could hear Ren and Nora doing something a few rooms down, but that was the only sign of life. There weren't any other wanderers with insomnia to join the Blonde.

Looking outside through the barred windows, Yang couldn't see anything. For a moonless and cloudy night, her view was as good as it could get. Infected could have been walking around fifty feet from the house, and Yang still wouldn't be able to see them. It felt like a fruitless endeavour to stand there gawking.

Backing away, Yang felt her way near the couches. Nearly stumbling over the lounge chair, she could see something lying on the long sofa. Focusing her eyes, Yang made out the image of Jaune.

Her friend was curled up on the couch without a blanket. Only in shorts and a t-shirt, he had to be freezing. The boy was subconsciously huddling his arms and legs together to keep himself warm without any covers. If Yang had a light, she might have been able to see his skin was covered in goosebumps.

Ehh, where's a blanket?

Looking around, Yang felt a blanket haphazardly thrown on a lounge chair. The soft plush sheet would keep him warm, at least. So, Yang grabbed the end of it and moved to lay it over him. When she reached midway on Jaune's torso, the boy snapped awake.

Unsure of what had touched him, Jaune grabbed Yang's arm hard, faster than she could react. The boy's hand clamped down on her lower arm, squeezing Yang like a vice. She hissed loudly and tried to pull away, but Jaune didn't budge.

"Ow-Ow-Ow-Ow, Jaune, it's me," Yang harshly whispered as she tried to get her arm back.

When her words clicked in Jaune's head, he immediately let go of the girl. She yanked her arm back, feeling the residual pain of his fingers on her flesh. Jaune then sat up, took hold of her throbbing limb, and began massaging. His hands gently brushed the reddened skin, easing the pain little by little.

"Are you okay," he asked in a concerned tone. "I-I didn't know it was you. You scared me..."

"Fuck, you scared the shit out of me," Yang expressed, taking her arm back. Opening and closing her hand, the pain had vanished almost entirely.

God damn, he's strong...

"Sorry," he apologised, going to rub the back of his head. "But, what are you doing up? Nightmare again?"

Right on the money...

"No, couldn't really sleep," Yang lied while shaking her head. " Wanted to hang out down here and tried to give you a blanket, but you saw how that went."

"Oh," he uttered, grabbing the sheet and feeling the soft cloth. "Thanks... If you want to hang out here, I'll go upstairs."

Before he could slip away, Yang blocked his path. "It's fine; you don't really need to leave," she said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Want to watch a movie?"

Jaune shot her a look, showing he wasn't entirely sure about the offer; however, his brain relented, and it soon disappeared. "Yeah, sure."

Choosing a movie was easy. Just some random flick about a guy hunting the mafia for killing his dog. Something both teens enjoyed watching for the actors and plot itself. As the opening credits began playing, the pair settled in.

Jaune was about to huddle inside the blanket away from Yang, but she had other plans. Grabbing his leg, Yang pulled him onto his back. A surprised gasp escaped his lips as he was yanked by the Blonde. When she let him go, the boy stared at her confusedly. His expression turned into shock as Yang flopped down on him, lying on his body with her head on his chest.

"Yang?"

"You don't like it," Yang playfully replied, snuggling into the boy.

Jaune's warm body felt terrific against the frigid air. Without the blanket, she was perfectly fine staying right where she ended up. Even if it wasn't the most comfortable of places to sleep, cuddling always made up for it five-fold. Jaune, on the other hand, was as stiff as a board. Someone had taken a remote and clicked pause on the boy right as he fell into place. His outstretched arms refused to fall anywhere but his sides.

"Just not used to it," he squeaked. "Never done anything like this..."

"Didn't answer the question."

"Y-Yeah, it's nice," Jaune whispered nervously.

Yang snorted loudly. There were so many other adjectives better suited to what he was likely experiencing, but Yang wasn't about to get into a fuss about it. Jaune's brain would have fried beyond repair, thinking any harder right now. So, Yang grabbed his arms and guided them to the centre of her back.

"Keep your hands on my hips or back for now, 'kay."

She needed this. Jaune more than likely needed this. A soft body to snuggle up with helped ease the teens into a deep sleep soon after.

...

Yang's left eye cracked open as consciousness came over her. In her frame of view, a Scroll was centred right in the middle of it. Behind the device was a smirking Nora Valkryie. A series of clicks followed as her smile grew wider.

"How long have you been there?"

Yang guessed Nora had enough evidence stored away to make a veteran prosecutor look amateur. Yet, she wasn't mad about it. Yang would have done the same thing to any of her friends if they were caught in the same predicament. It was hilarious, and she loved Nora for doing that.

"Long enough..."

"Hope you got a nice angle, then," Yang said, rising from her station.

Half her face had pressure marks from Jaune's shirt embedded into her skin. Yang's neck was stiff and painful to turn sharply. But she slept great. Better than the first time the blondes shared a sleeping place. So, if getting pictures taken of you was the price of admission, then it was worth it.

"What, you're not gonna yell, 'Delete the pictures, Nora,'" the Ginger whispered while mimicking Yang's voice.

Unsticking her legs from the couch, Yang rose and walked into the kitchen. "Nah, nothing to hide here," she replied with a smirk. Stretching her arms behind her head, the girl came into a delicious smell that immediately distracted her from what was going on.

Oooo, what is that?

At the stove, Ren was stirring a pot of something. Whatever it was, it got Yang's salivary glands flowing like a waterfall. When she eyed the plate of beef jerky on the kitchen island, the Blonde couldn't help herself. She snatched a chunk and bit into it, feeling the savoury taste wash over her mouth.

"Fuck, that's so good," Yang expressed with a full mouth.

"How did you two sleep," Ren asked, keeping his eyes on the pot.

He knows too?

"Pretty good, probably will try it again," Yang answered cooly,

"My joke was gonna be good, then you ruined it," Nora whined under her breath.

"Then I'm happy it's working out for you two," Ren expressed as he took a sample of his dish. "But Jaune's up for this kind of thing?"

At that, the mood was sucked from the room. Yang swallowed her jerky and dropped the rest of her meal on a plate. Ren didn't stir from his position. He clearly awaited an answer.

"It's not that serious," Yang explained in a sober tone. "We haven't really done anything either. So, there's still an out for us."

Ren nodded his head, moving to shut off the burner.

At least he was serious about it too. There wasn't any point in trying to pretend Jaune was all right. He had shit therapy, and hard drugs couldn't cure. All the boy had were friends willing to look out for him and someone he could confide in. Pressing the breaks on the thing going on between him and Yang was their job.

"Then, any plans for today," Nora asked, moving the subject elsewhere. "City was a bust, and we got no idea where to go if we want to find the army. What about going east?"

Didn't really think about it...

"Aside from sitting on my ass and playing video games, not really," Yang answered with a shrug. "All those soldiers said was they're going to the countryside. Don't know where that is exactly... Probably going to the trees like Robin Hood or something."

"I guess it's a waste of gas if we tried," Nora concluded, pouting as she began thinking of something else.

There was no point in trying to hunt them down. Nobody among their friend group was a super-spy capable of tracking a person with little information. It would be a stroke of luck if anyone managed to run into a battalion hanging out at a farm.

While Yang thought of this, Ren brought over a bowl to her seat. Its contents were a hearty vegetable soup. Beans, carrots, corn, celery, potatoes, and peas were all there, cooked in a homemade vegetable broth. Taking a spoonful of the dish, Yang sipped it gingerly.

Oh, shit...

It was a full and complex soup. Onion, garlic, parsley, and thyme were the most obvious seasonings. Better yet, it felt fulfilling to Yang. She couldn't stop herself from scarfing down the rest of the bowl. She then used the jerky to scoop up what was left.

Usually, she didn't like vegetarian meals, but this was an exception.

"That's awesome," Yang complimented as she bit into the jerky. "This your recipe, Ren?"

"No," the boy replied, shaking his head. "It was Claire's. She has a book of them in her office."

Oh... It's hers.

"Yeah, we got the stuff for it from the garden," Nora added. "Just the carrots, celery, and potatoes. The rest of it was canned."

I see.

It was customary for families to have gardens in Vale. Not something to live off entirely, but for fresh fruits or vegetables. The one at the Arc House was about two hundred square feet. In that plot, they grew a wide variety of plants. They had pots set out around the house for those out of season crops.

"Well, I guess we won't starve anytime soon," Yang expressed as she poured herself another bowl of soup.

"As long as we can find canned food," Ren pointed out, hinting at more beyond his words. "If this goes on for more than a month, we might have to start expanding the garden. Scavenging just to supplement won't feed us forever in that case."

"Uh-huh, I just printed out a bunch of stuff, too," Nora said, grabbing a stack of papers from a countertop. "Like guides to planting and harvesting. How to can tomatoes. That sort of thing... Also, some information on crops and what they need to grow."

Wow, they really got some of this figured out.

Ren and Nora were prepping for the worst-case scenario. Everyone believed this thing might not last forever, but it was stupid not to take precautions. With how dangerous scavenging was, growing your own food was safer than risking your life for that extra can of beans. It was everything they implied that Yang agreed with.

"Unless you want to go full vegan, we'll need some meat too," Yang added. "Cuz, that sounds like a shitty time if we can't get our protein in."

Yang saw how much beef jerky they had. It was a lot and a variety of flavours. However, it was still a limited supply. Nor could you survive like this just by eating plants. In the long run, you would have vitamin deficiencies and end up malnourished. So, getting some fish or terrestrial animals in their fridge was another goal. That, or find a bunch of beef jerky.

As they thought of ideas, the trio heard Jaune walking around. His loud footsteps slowly lumbered into the kitchen, announced by creaking floorboards and a yawn. Jaune sleepily ran a hand through his messy locks while scratching his stomach when he reached the threshold. The boy, not even noticing his friends gathered at the island until a few seconds into the room.

"Hey guys," Jaune said sleepily as he neared the soup pot. "What're you talking about?"

"Fishing or hunting," Ren curtly explained. "Do you know of any places where we can do either? The three of us wanted to find something fresh before going through the beef jerky."

"Turkey's in season," Jaune answered, leaving the room and returning with a map and book a few seconds later. "Here, my dad and his friends made this."

Looking over Nora's shoulder, Yang deduced the book was a log of all the hunting sites around the area. Each of these corresponded with a location on the map. Turkey, deer, elk, assorted waterfowl, and fish were primary the makeup of this list, with every one having a detailed description of their territory or home range throughout the year.

"This is very detailed," Ren expressed with interest as he read through the book.

"My dad likes to hunt," Jaune replied with a shoulder shrug. "Turkey's his favourite, so we'd get a bird for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year."

Nice...

Yang figured it was bonding time between them, like her family and board games. Tai nor Qrow were hunters. They'd go out shooting for practice, but that was about it. Whipping the shit out of each other over some Catan or Monolopy was the way to go.

"If you want, we can go today," Jaune asked Yang, sitting down and pouring himself some soup. "Me, you, and Ruby."

Yeah...

"I want her to learn, so turkey is a good start," Yang agreed, nodding to the boy.

We can also get out of the house for a while. Some fresh air will be good for Ruby and Jaune. Then we'll kill a turkey and work our way up to an Infected.

"I'll come too," Nora insisted. "Want to see how it's done from the master gobbler slayer."

...

Gathering their things, Yang waited in the living room for Ruby. While lingering, she spotted Jaune leaning over his bowl of soup with a contemplative expression. Occasionally, he'd take a bite, but he would stare at his food most of the time.

"You all right," Yang asked, walking to Jaune's side.

"Yeah..." Jaune answered, pushing the bowl away from him and leaving it half-finished. "I lost my appetite."

Hmmm...

"What's wrong," Yang questioned, leaning down to his level.

Jaune didn't appear to have any desire to answer her. However, a concerned glance from Yang broke it down. He ultimately turned away and spoke.

"It's my mom's soup," he explained with a sigh. "Can't think about it without seeing her upstairs. Makes me sick..."

Oh...

"Then don't eat it," Yang expressed as sympathetically as she could. "We'll figure out something else. Ren and I can come up with good recipes."

Yang wasn't a great cook, but she could make something edible if required. That was where Ren shined, and Yang was willing to learn. So, all they needed were some essential ingredients, and the group was golden.

"Thanks..." Jaune replied, swallowing as he nodded.

"Then, c'mon, let's go bag us a bird," Yang said, holding out a hand. "I want to do a turkey dinner tonight."

...

Packed into the jeep, the group drove on the backroads. They avoided the cluttered highway and stuck it out here on the gravel. Thus, it was a peaceful trip minus the bumps from the road being washed out. There hadn't been a single Infected today either.

"So, she had that stuff growing out of her face," Ruby asked from the backseat.

"Yeah, it was super weird seeing that," Yang expressed, running a hand through her hair.

"Any idea what it was," Nora asked, leaning between the front seats. "I haven't seen any Infected with that."

"No clue; we didn't stick around to ask questions," Yang replied, rapping her knuckles against the door panel. "Probably something to do with the Infection..."

Yang had not the faintest hint of what that shit could have been. They didn't even know what the Infection was still. Fungi, viruses, bacteria, and parasites could have been any of the contenders. Without any evidence, taking a guess was pointless.

The only thing Yang cared about was protecting the group from the Infection. Keeping their eyes and mouth covered during confrontations. Staying way the hell away was the only way to be safe. So, it didn't matter what caused the Infection.

Taking steps to gather food out in the wild was the best move. Less risk of Infected that way.

Continuing down their route, the group sat quietly, getting some shuteye while they could. Turning around a bend in the road, they exited the forests bordering the Arc property. The wide-open spaces and faint sunlight seemingly lifted their spirits. Yang peacefully watched the herds of cows grazing as they passed by.

Why couldn't it always be this nice?

A few more miles later, Yang spotted the Lark house. Seeing that home again, she sat up and scanned the entire area to see if there was any sign of him. There was no way to tell if he'd come back home with no truck in the drive.

"Hey, can we stop here," Yang asked, pointing to the Lark house. "Mr Lark said he was going into the city to find Sky. I want to check on him and make sure he's doing okay."

Hopefully, he found Sky.

Given how bad their luck was in Vale, Yang didn't feel better about his chances. If he did make it back, the two households could work together. Despite Sky being an ass, they needed all the help they could get. A farmer would be a critical asset right about now.

"Yeah, we have to anyway," Jaune replied, pulling into his driveway. "The turkey spots about a mile west of his house."

Nice...

Parking at the side of the house, Jaune got out first, checking the immediate area with a rifle. When it was safe, he tapped on the back of the car, letting the girls know to come out. They each shuffled through the doors, stretching their legs in the humid morning as Yang moved to unpack their gear.

Grabbing a few rifles and a shotgun, Yang handed one out to Nora and Ruby. The former slung it over her shoulder, not even attempting to mess with the firearm. On the other hand, Ruby checked the bolt and made sure it was in working order.

"Okay, I'm gonna try the front door," Yang said as she dragged the last few bags out of the car.

Jaune and the others nodded to her, moving clear of the house to give the girl space. Yang walked to the front as they shadowed her in the yard, keeping an eye on the windows and door. She pulled it open as she got to the screen door and gave a few hard wacks against the solid oak hatch.

*Thack*Thack*Thack*

Yang waited a few seconds to hear a response to those three knocks. She expected a grumpy old guy to open the door or have an Infected come charging at it any second now. However, there was not a single peep coming from inside the house. It was as if it had been boarded up and abandoned.

"You think he's asleep," Nora asked from behind.

"No, he would have gotten up by now," Jaune countered, moving to Yang's side. "Farmers usually are up by dawn..."

I should make sure...

Yang turned around to face Jaune and Nora. "Hey, can you guys boost me up there," she asked, pointing to the overhanging roof of the porch. "I wanna take a look inside."

The roof had several points of access into the house. Mr Lark had only boarded up the windows on the first floor. Everything on the second mainly was left open. Yang could have easily slid inside and had herself a look-see if any were unlocked.

"Are you sure," Ruby questioned with a concerned look painted on her. "What if he shoots you?"

"Nah, he won't," Yang replied, shaking her head. "I'm gonna call through the window first. Then I'll check it out."

Jaune and Nora didn't protest, moving to prop themselves against a wall for the girl. Yang grabbed Jaune's shoulder, stepping on his knee before placing the other on his opposite shoulder. As Yang's other foot went to the unoccupied shoulder, Nora moved behind to support her as Jaune stood to his full height.

"Okay, can you reach it," Jaune said through gritted teeth. The full weight of Yang on his shoulders began to wear on him, causing his face to go red.

"Yep," Yang said as she snagged a hand on a window sill, pulling herself up to the roof.

On the roof, Yang crouch-walked over to any window she could find. Trying to pull open any of them, she found most were locked from the inside. As Yang moved to the last window, she pulled up on the glass, and it came sliding right open, giving her full access to the house.

Nice...

"Hey, Mr Lark, it's Yang; are you in there," she shouted.

Listening for nearly a minute, Yang couldn't detect anything. Not even a call for help had Mr Lark been injured. The shouting alone would have brought an Infected out.

Hmmm...

Hopping inside, Yang stood in what was probably Sky's bedroom. Most of everything had been packed away, but the size of the bed and football memorabilia told Yang enough. Luckily, a locked door separated her from the rest of the house. She'd have the time to flee if there was an Infected somewhere.

Cracking the door, Yang looked out into the hall. Still, there was no sign of life. "Mr Lark," Yang shouted once more into the house. However, there was no reply from him.

Crap, I don't think he made it back.

Pulling the door open, Yang silently walked around, checking every room for Mr Lark. Peeking into the master bedroom, she could tell it was a single man's place, but nothing to say to her that he'd returned from Vale. The entire upstairs level was clear of anything.

Coming downstairs, Yang found the remnants of Mr Lark's cigar, having burnt to a crisp, on the table. The charring on the wood told Yang a fire had narrowly been avoided. If Mr Lark hadn't tended to this, he likely never returned to his home.

Yang suspected he might never be back.

Shit, I should grab some stuff then. We need the supplies.

Yang grabbed a set of keys on the wall near the front door, labelled 'greenhouse.' This set also matched the door, allowing Yang to go in and out without any issue. So, she first flipped the bar off and threw it open, allowing her friends to come inside.

"He's not here, guys," Yang announced to the incoming group. "I got his greenhouse keys, so we can take a look inside."

"Are we gonna take his stuff," Ruby asked as she passed through the threshold. "What if he comes back?"

Ehhh...

"If he went to Vale by himself, he's not coming back," Jaune expressed, leaning against a couch. "We barely got out of there and didn't even try going to a hotspot."

There was no way he was about to fight through all those Infected at Beacon. He'd have a chance if he had an automatic and a few magazines. However, Yang didn't think he would make it without backup.

"Then let's grab some stuff from the greenhouse," Nora argued, trying to find a middle ground. "He won't be able to harvest anything growing in there right now, so it'll go to waste. The rest of his stuff will just stay here. We can check in a few days to see if he's back. Okay?"

"I guess," Ruby acquiesced with a sigh. "As long as we don't steal from anywhere else, I'm okay with it."

Yang agreed with that. Nothing would make her feel like shit if they took everything and Mr Lark returned. Looting the greenhouse for anything growing was a decent middle ground she could agree to.

"We can grab whatever after we bag a turkey," Jaune concluded, pushing himself off the couch. "We need to get into place before they fly down."

...

The entire group crammed themselves into a blind. The small wooden box was placed about sixty yards from an opening encircled by forests. In the centre of the clearing, a food plot of beans, wildflowers, and clovers had been planted to act as bait for wildlife. Anything in the area could come in for a snack while the hunters in hiding trained their sights.

"They'll fly down from their roosts sometime soon," Jaune whispered, peeking over his shoulder out the blind's window. "I'll start calling and see if that brings them in."

Jaune pulled out a call Yang couldn't identify with a gun to her head. It looked like a whistle if you cut it down to the reed. However, Jaune blew into it and made the thing sing. It sounded nothing like a turkey. Regardless, Jaune continued blowing into it for a few minutes, pausing as he listened in.

Yang then heard what sounded like a bird calling back from the forest. Looking over the blind railing, she saw a few begin to creep out. The sight of the turkeys immediately got everyone moving into place. Before anyone could open fire, Jaune signalled for them to calm down.

"Okay, find a bird; we're gonna try to hit a few at the same time," he instructed as he moved behind the girls.

Yang brought the scope up to her eye and searched for a bird. Training the sight on him, she followed him around as he began pecking at the ground. The girls did the same to her left and right, locating a single bird from this flock.

Need to aim for the middle of him. Heart or lungs...

"Okay, if you have a shot, go on three," Jaune said, looking through a scope without a gun. "I'll tell you if you hit one."

"One-Two-Three..."

Ruby and Nora shot precisely as planned, killing their birds with no issues. Yang was short on the pull, shooting a second after they did and went high. However, Ruby was quick, training her scope on Yang's turkey and firing a shot directly centre mass. The second round struck the tom and dropped him.

Shit...

"Good job, girls," Jaune complimented. "Let's grab them and head back."

...

We did that in just an hour?

Yang was feeling good about it. Her aim was shit, but the result was still adequate. The three twenty-pound birds would feed the group for a while if they stretched it out. Adding some vegetables and less meat, they would be fine.

"We hit a jackpot," Nora announced as she and Ruby returned from the greenhouse. "Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and bananas!"

The Ginger carried bags full of vegetables while Ruby had the bananas slung over her shoulder. Judging from their plunder, it was around forty pounds, just in tomatoes. The bananas themselves numbered about a hundred on the stem. It was a bunch of food that had Yang trying to figure out what they would do with it.

I'm gonna hate tomatoes when this is over...

"How're you feeling about hunting, Ruby," Yang asked as her sister dropped the bananas at the back of the truck.

"It's not that bad, kinda boring just sitting around," she replied with a shrug.

"Yeah, I feel you," Yang agreed with a snort. "Don't know how it's fun either..." She took a deep breath. "But what if I asked you to try your luck on an Infected. You don't get close and shoot at them from the roof?"

Having Ruby watch their backs was the right idea. There was no way that girl would be down in the dirt with her, Nora, or Jaune. If Yang could handily beat her in a wrestling match, an Infected would tear her apart.

"Really?" Her expression was more puzzled than rejecting the idea.

"Yeah, I kinda wanted you to get used to shooting at something other than a paper target," Yang explained. "Just practice getting used to it."

"Ummm... okay, I guess we can try."

...

Dropping off the turkeys and produce, the group snagged a ladder. Yang had an idea in mind, but they needed a change of scenery before making it happen. So, it was back to that gas station they looted a week earlier.

Driving into town, things had fallen apart quickly. Houses were burnt out or completely ransacked from the looks of it. Cars littered the streets, blocking access to many of the side roads. Despite the chaos, there weren't that many bodies around.

"You think we can check out some of these houses," Ruby posed to the group. "They might have some stuff we can use."

Canned food was on Yang's mind. Any more would be really helpful. However, Yang didn't see any Infected around, which was cause for concern. They might all be shacked up in the houses, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting souls who wandered in.

"We can scout it out another time," Yang replied, trying not to outright deny the idea. "If we can take out some Infected around here, we can try it."

Turning a corner, the group finally arrived at the gas station. The building had been cleaned out since their last visit. A few Infected bodies were lying around, clearly attracted by looters, but it seemed clear. As Jaune went to park, Yang got a look inside.

That door she sealed had been opened. Some poor fool opened it and let those Infected out or busted through it on their own somehow. It made the girl have some second thoughts about coming here specifically.

"Let's get the ladder out," Jaune said, going to put the jeep in park. "We can sit on the roof and try to bait the Infected in."

"I'll grab it," Ruby chirped, jumping out of the car. She quickly climbed onto the roof and began unstrapping the ladder.

When she reached down to hand it off to Nora, the group heard the unmistakable sound of a gunshot. Everyone turned to its source, finding two people running from the Infected. A pack of eight or nine chased a pair of girls who ran for their lives.

"Oh shit," Yang shouted, going to grab one of the guns.

Before she could do anything, a gunshot rang out from above the car. Ruby trained her scope on the closest Infected and put a round through her chest. Two more shots from the girl and the Infected making up the rear were dropped. Their bodies spasmed on the ground as they tried to push forward despite their grievous wounds.

Looking back to the girls, a redheaded woman clocked another Infected across the head with the butt of a rifle. In the same motion, she whipped around and thrust the bayonet into the eye of the next Infected. Unable to keep moving and fight, the woman dropped her bag and fired three shots in quick succession. These large calibre rounds cut through the third Infected's chest cavity blowing a massive hole in his back.

Still possessing enough energy to continue, the rounds ripped into any Infected behind him. Tumbling as they flew, the first one struck by these bullets had its head explode. Another, its arm blown off, causing a massive jet of blood to pour out from its brachial artery.

The other girl, a white-haired girl wearing a suit, kept running. She only made it twenty feet to the car before being set upon by another Infected. The woman screamed in fear as it lunged at her back. Unable to get away, she tried in vain to fight, turning and stepping into a hole in the ground. Her ankle shifted and rolled within the pothole, causing an audible 'pop' to emanate from the joint.

Before the Infected could leap upon her, Ruby placed another round dead centre in its chest. Through the heart, the round immediately shredded the organ, causing a massive loss of blood pressure throughout her system. She coughed up a torrent of blood, pushing forward to reach her quarry before dropping dead at the girl's feet.

"Ruby, get off the car," Jaune shouted, slamming his fist into the roof.

As she leapt down, Jaune floored it. Yang grabbed whatever she could to hold on as the boy peeled off in their direction. Squelching the tires, he revved the engine, and the two were pushed back in their seats by the change in inertia. Jaune immediately swung wide, gunning it past the redheaded girl and towards the Infected.

Yang braced herself as the jeep slammed into the first body. The entire vehicle was tossed about as more and more Infected were thrown over the windshield or under the tires. One Infected shattered the glass as he careened directly into the pane.

Flipping back around, the body was tossed off, clearing the view for the pair to continue their assault. A few bodies were beginning to peel themselves off the ground, but Jaune did not give them a chance. He gunned the jeep right over them, crushing their bodies further with the car's full weight.

Driving right up to the redhead, Yang immediately jumped out and helped her into the passenger seat. Nora and Ruby dashed over to the white-haired girl and scooped her up. They carried her to the car and threw the girl into the back seat. When an Infected on the ground tried to grab Nora, the girl smashed his head in with the butt of a rifle, crushing its skull in a sickening gush of blood.

As Nora was freed from the man, more and more Infected began running out from the nearby suburbs. Soon, dozens were within twenty feet of the car. The Ginger barely managed to leap inside as they reached for the vehicle.

...

Driving back to the house, everyone was silent. The group was still on edge. Even the two new girls didn't speak a word, taking in just how lucky they were to have come across Yang and her friends. When they pulled into the driveway, the rest of their friends came out to greet them.

"What the hell happened," Dante cried out as he caught sight of his totalled jeep.

The whole front end of the jeep was caved in. No bars protected the face vehicle, allowing untold damage to accumulate there. While no fluids poor out from underneath, the radiator was likely bent out of shape. Yang didn't even know what it would look like under the hood beyond that. All she knew was that the bumper and hood were total losses.

"Infected, lots of them," Jaune yelled out from inside.

Stopping the car, everyone was allowed the chance to get out. The redhead and her friend limped out to the side as the others gathered around. The white-haired girl had to hold on to the redhead or collapse due to her bad ankle. Each was already looking to be in bad shape despite the one girl's injuries.

"Thanks for helping us," the redhead said, putting her gun and bag down. "We got caught outside and didn't have anywhere else to hide."

"No problem," Ruby replied with a smile. "I'm happy you found us!"

"Stop, don't move," a growl came from behind the two girls.

Jaune interrupted the conversation, moving the two girls apart. With his gun in hand, he began patting down the redhead. The others were shocked by what he was doing but did not intervene. Even Yang was caught entirely off guard by his actions.

"Hey, what the hell," Yang shouted at Jaune.

"You got any bites, scratches," Jaune questioned as he patted down the redhead's arm. "Fevers, headaches, seizures?! You fucking sprouting anything?!"

What the fuck is going on with him?

"N-NO," the redhead cried out, visibly shaking now as she was under intense scrutiny. "Neither of us is sick! W-We can just go!"

"Hold on," Ren said, stepping in.

He grabbed Jaune and pulled him away from the girl. The other boy didn't resist, walking past the group and back into the house. As he crossed the threshold, Jaune slammed the door loudly, causing the white-haired girl to jump.

"You two can't leave," Ren stated plainly.

"Yeah, look at her ankle," Nora agreed, gesturing to the already swollen joint. "If you guys try walking out of here, she won't make it to the end of the driveway. We need to wrap it and get some ice on it."

"We got the stuff to take care of it," Vi chimed in.

"Let's just get inside, and we can talk it over," Yang said, grabbing the redhead's stuff. "Ankle first, sleeping arrangements later."

...

Dropping the girl onto the couch, Nora slowly pulled off the shoe on her injured leg. Any movement caused the girl to hiss in pain. However, Nora worked through it as quickly as possible, getting down to the sock, which was easily peeled off.

"That looks pretty gross," Ruby said as she looked over the red foot.

"How do you think it feels," the girl said through gritted teeth. Her face contorted into a wince.

Ren returned to the living room with ice and a bandage to wrap it in. Vi came down with some pain meds freshly liberated from the pharmacy. Working in tandem, the trio managed to wrap the foot like experts before applying another wrap to bind the ice to the ankle.

"Cold."

"So, what're your names," Marron asked, bringing some water in from the kitchen. "And how'd you end up out here?"

"I'm Pyrrha Nikos; that's Weiss Schnee," Pyrrha replied, gesturing to Weiss on the adjacent couch.

"Hold on, that Pyrrha Nikos," Dante nearly squealed in excitement.

Mistrali athlete who was a champion at basically everything you put her in. There was not a sport she did not excel at. Shooting, javelins, sprints, jumping. Even historical martial arts with swords, spears, and shields. That girl won everything.

Her feats earned her the title 'The Goddess of Victory.' With good reason.

"Y-Yep, in the flesh," she nervously replied. She was clearly uncomfortable with the boy gushing over her.

"Settle down, dude; they've been through enough already," Yang growled, tapping the boy on the head.

Don't need every guy making them scared as shit...

"And, Weiss Schnee is related to that Schnee family," Vi asked the other girl.

"Yes..."

"That's the Schnee Electric Company for the rest of you," Vi continued. "They sponsored a few photoshoots and runways I've been to."

Rich girl if she's a Schnee.

"Then what the hell were you guys doing out in the streets," Yang inquired, changing the subject. "Both of you don't have some security or escape car?"

"We were at a faunus rights conference in Vale," Weiss explained, settling into the couch as deep as she possibly could. "Everything was fine there, but it all fell apart at the hotel. I heard screams, and one of my security detail checked it out. Those Infected attacked him, so I had to run. Luckily, I knew where Pyrrha's room was and ran there as fast as I could..."

Shit...

"Neither of us had a way back to the airport, so we tried to find somewhere safe to hide," Pyrrha continued their story. "That didn't go very well for us." Her words trailed off with a nervous laugh.

"Whelp, it's safe here, so you got nothing to worry about," Ruby declared. "Once your ankle is fine, you guys can think about what's next."

"But to be on the safe side, you both will have to quarantine," Ren insisted, standing up and walking to the centre of the group. "The last time we brought someone in, they turned within a day. If you're not showing symptoms overnight, you'll be free to go."

He's right...

"Can we put them in your parent's room," Yang asked Marron and Vi.

The two girls paled at the memory of their mother. Some part of them felt as though things were repeating themselves. Marron couldn't get a word out, choosing to look away instead.

"Y-Yeah, its got a bathroom, so they can stay inside," Vi replied, forcing herself through the words.

"All right then, let's show you the digs," Yang said, grabbing Weiss and allowing her to use the girl as a crutch.

Please be all right.


So, we have picked up a few more girls. Pyrrha and Weiss have joined the group. Jaune did not make a good first impression.

Jaune: 10 Infected, 1 Mom, 1 Intern

Yang: 2 People, 6 Infected

Ren: 2 Infected, 1 Child

Nora: 2 Infected, 1 Turkey

Ruby: 3 Infected, 2 Turkeys

Pyrrha: 3 Infected

Weiss: 1 Fucked Up Ankle

Adam: 7 Infected

Velvet: 1 Infected