Ruby Rose stares at the moon through a window, sitting on the staircase. Snow is drizzling outside. Ruby checks on Blake Belladonna, Weiss Schnee, and Yang Xiao Long, who are sitting on the rug and staring at the fire from the fireplace. Maria Calavera reads a book while sitting on the sofa and Oscar Pine is pacing back and forth. After checking on the others, Ruby stands up and walks toward Qrow Branwen. Qrow is sitting nearby the window, looking outside with his feet propped on the drawer.
Qrow: Storm's cleared up for now. We should be able to leave by morning.
Ruby: That's good.
Qrow: No... I don't have a good feeling about this place, especially with me around...
Ruby looks down at a wine bottle on the floor with Qrow's hand hovering near it, then looks at him.
Ruby: Are you... okay?
Qrow: (scoffs) Sure. Tell everyone to get some sleep. I'll wake you guys up just before sunrise.
Ruby walks away as Qrow drinks from the wine bottle. Ruby pauses and looks back at him before narrowing her eyes downward.
Back in the other room, the fire continues to burn. The book Maria is reading has a "III" on the cover, with the other two volumes on a nearby table.
Oscar: It's a diary?
Maria: The head of this household, Bartleby. Apparently, he and several other families founded this little settlement to try and live on their own. It sounds like it worked, at least for a spell.
Maria: Just one of many hardships. Slowed down their farming, made everything harder... It's a shame, really. He seemed like quite the ambitious fellow, always thinking of new schemes to overcome the odds.
Ruby: (walking back into the room) Hey guys. Qrow said we should get some sleep. We're gonna head out early tomorrow.
Blake: Thank goodness.
Everyone gets up to get ready to sleep. Maria hops off the couch.
Maria: Hmph, the last thing you'll catch me doing is letting some kid tell me what to do. (in a mimicking voice) "Go to bed!" (scoffs)
Maria sits on an armchair, turns on the lamp next to it and continues reading from the book. Ruby shrugs and smiles before going to sleep herself. The fire continues to burn in the fireplace.
By next morning, the fire is out. Sunlight seeps through the curtained window while Team RWBY and Oscar sleep on the floor. Maria rests on the armchair, still holding the book she was reading. Qrow sleeps on the chair by the window, still barely grasping the wine bottle in his hand. A couple other wine bottles are also on the floor. The bottle slips from his hand and clatters on the floor, causing Ruby to wake with a start. She looks around before rubbing her eyes and getting on her feet. She walks over to the window and opens the curtains.
Weiss: (muttering in her sleep) Close the window!
Ruby walks over to the entrance hall and picks up the empty bottle Qrow dropped before walking over to her uncle.
Ruby: Uncle Qrow. Come on, get up. (shakes Qrow's shoulder)
Qrow: (groans) Leave me alone...
Ruby: We overslept.
Qrow, still groggy, just lightly shoves Ruby away. Ruby looks at the empty wine bottle, and after a moment, her hand starts shaking. She angrily throws it against the wall, shattering it.
Qrow: (waking up startled) What?
Qrow looks around, seeing Ruby stand before him and then to the shattered bottle.
Qrow: Oh, right. Sunrise.
Ruby's angry expression softens, and she hugs her uncle.
Ruby: You know, you can talk to me about stuff. Yang too.
Qrow: (hugging Ruby back) Let's just get outta here.
Qrow gets up from the chair, with Ruby following him.
Later on, the group moves outside. Weiss is seen using Myrtenaster to weld a metal ball to a makeshift trailer hitch attached to Bumblebee. Weiss, Blake, Yang, Qrow and Oscar's pupils appear to be dilated, while Ruby's are their usual size.
Oscar and Blake can be seen sitting on the porch steps.
Oscar: Can we just go back to bed?
Blake: If we're all so tired, maybe we should make breakfast?
Oscar: You wanna make it?
Blake: Not really.
Ruby and Qrow push the flatbed trailer behind Bumblebee. Once it's in position, Ruby walks up to Yang.
Ruby: You guys got the bike ready?
Yang just gestures to it.
Qrow: Well, it's done now. So let's hook this thing up and--
Qrow rests his foot on the side of the trailer, and the tire on the opposite side goes flat. He groans in frustration before checking on the tire.
Maria: You people are just beacons for bad luck, aren't you?
Frustrated, Qrow just walks over to a nearby fence post and sits on the ground. Yang also sits on the ground by the well.
Yang: I'm starting to think the universe just doesn't want us getting to Atlas.
Ruby: (sighs) It's just a flat tire, I'm sure there's a spare.
Yang: It's not just that, it's everything. Storms, crashes, monsters... (sighs) I'm so tired...
Blake: Me too. It feels like we're always having to fight to get by.
Ruby: Yeah. But that's what we signed up for.
Oscar: We signed up to try and save the world, not just... delay the inevitable.
Weiss: Last night, I... (putting a hand on her arm) I couldn't stop thinking - why are we even going to Atlas?
Everyone shares troubled looks.
Ruby: Weiss, we have to.
Ruby: What? The Grimm might--
Yang: They'd find it eventually, sure, but bury it or just throw it down the well, it would take years. It might not even happen in our lifetime. But we could be done with it now.
Ruby detaches the Relic of Knowledge from her belt, glancing at it before looking up at her teammates, who appear to all have dazed looks as if they were in a trance. Ruby stares at the Relic one more time before walking over to the well.
Ruby: I am... really... (pupils become dilated) tired...
Ruby starts to have the same dazed look on her face as she holds Relic out above the pitch-black darkness of the well. However, instead of dropping it immediately, Ruby hesitates for a bit before composing herself. She starts to pull the Relic back, but then notices a pair of glowing red eyes at the bottom of the well, startling her and snapping her out of her trance-like state and returning her pupils to their normal size. In her fright, she accidently drops the Relic into the well. Ruby helplessly watches it fall into the darkness below.
Ruby: No! No! No! I didn't mean to!
Her teammates continue to stare at her with dazed looks.
Weiss: Ruby, it's okay.
Ruby: No! No, there's something down there! I saw it, it was looking at me!
Ruby looks back inside the well, only to notice the glowing pair of red eyes are gone.
Yang: (putting a hand on her sister's shoulder) Hey, it's okay. You just said you're tired. It's probably nothing. Now let's go.
Ruby: (swatting Yang's hand off) What's wrong with you?! We can't just leave, we have to go down there! We have to get the lamp back! Oh, what was I thinking?! (facepalming)
Qrow: All we have to do is fix this trailer. Hey, farm boy, check the shed for a spare.
Ruby: I'm not leaving without the lamp!!
Her teammates continue to dazedly stare at her.
Blake: (sighs) I'll go down with you...
Weiss: We'll go down together.
Qrow: Fine! (getting up) Get the stupid lamp. Oscar, fix the stupid tire.
Qrow heads to the house, passing by Maria on the porch.
Maria: Where are you going?
Qrow: Where do you think? (shakes his flask and walks back into the house)
Maria just looks down.
Maria takes a seat on the porch steps and continues to read another volume of Bartleby's diaries.
Team RWBY hop down into the well together, into a vast underground waterway system. Ruby and Yang take out their Scrolls and turn on their flashlights.
Yang: Maybe the current carried it away.
Team RWBY proceed forward cautiously. Weiss notices more tunnel openings along the path.
Back above ground, Oscar works on fixing the tire while Maria continues to read. She turns a page, and the words "I did it! I found my solution" are visible.
Back underground, Team RWBY continue sloshing through the waterway.
Ruby: Oh, come on, where is it?
Blake: Turn off your lights and just look for the glow?
Ruby: (nervously) Okay...
Ruby and Yang turn off their flashlights, and Ruby pulls out Crescent Rose and proceeds forward with caution.
Back above, Maria continues to read, with the words "The huntsman pointed them out to me the other day." visible on the page. Maria narrows her eyes, reading more intently.
Underground, Team RWBY continue their search.
Blake: There. (points at something ahead)
Ruby looks to the direction Blake is pointing toward and notices the blue glow of the Relic of Knowledge coming from a tunnel along the path. Ruby runs forward by herself.
Above ground, Maria turns a page, revealing an illustration of a humanoid-looking Grimm with its name on the adjacent page: "The Apathy". Maria gasps.
Underground, Ruby arrives at the tunnel, and finds the Relic of Knowledge on the ground. She runs over and picks it up.
Ruby: Guys, I--
Ruby then looks up behind the Relic, adopting a horrified expression on her face. Multiple humanoid-looking Grimm of different sizes are bunched together. They turn their heads toward Ruby, reaching their arms out to her. Ruby lets out a terrified scream, and her teammates snap out of their trance-like states, their pupils returning to normal.
Yang: (gasps) Ruby?!
Ruby backs away and runs out of the tunnel. Yang, Weiss and Blake see her run out and approach her.
Yang: What is it?
The rest of the team notice the skeletal Grimm slowly trudging out of the tunnel. Ruby takes out Crescent Rose and fires multiple rounds at them. One of the Grimm lets out an ear-piercing scream, causing Team RWBY to struggle to stand.
Yang: What is this...?
Blake: My weapon... feels heavy...
From behind, Team RWBY notice Maria appear.
Maria turns around and runs. Team RWBY watch the Grimm start to move toward them.
Ruby: Go, go!
Team RWBY turn around and run, catching up with Maria. They see daylight coming from the well, but more of the Grimm appear and block their path. Another ear-piercing scream is heard, affecting the five women. Ruby notices another tunnel entrance next to her.
Ruby: This way!
Team RWBY and Maria run into the tunnel. They continue to run through the complex underground passages while avoiding more of the Grimm's kind along the way. They then make their way to an underground room. However, Team RWBY and Maria notice a much larger group of the Grimm at one end of the room. They make a run toward the other way, but one of the Grimm lets out another scream, causing Team RWBY and Maria to collapse on all fours.
Yang: I can't... do this... I can't...
Maria gets back up, using her cane to support herself before collapsing again. On her fall, she feels a set of stairs in front of her.
Maria: An exit. An exit!
Ruby looks up and notices the stairs leading up to the cellar door. Ruby crawls forward to Weiss.
Ruby: Come on!
Ruby then hears a weapon drop behind her and notices Blake collapse to the ground, while the Grimm continue to inch toward her.
Ruby: Blake... get... up!
Blake: (pupils dilated) It's fine...
Blake starts get her dazed look from before. More Grimm emerge from the entrance Team RWBY and Maria came from. Ruby looks on in horror and in her desperation, crawls and attempts to reach out towards Blake, who continues to lie down motionless. The Grimm reach their hands down to the cat Faunus...
Upon yelling out her friend's name, Ruby's eyes start to glow brightly, causing the Grimm to back away in pain. Blake gasps and snaps out of her trance, her eyes back to normal. Ruby helps her up while Weiss, Yang and Maria also get back up.
Ruby: I've got her!
Maria: What just happened?
Weiss runs up the stairs and tries to get the doors open, but they do not budge.
Weiss: They're locked!
Yang: Out of my way!
Yang runs up the stairs. The Grimm recover from their incapacitation, and another scream is let out. Team RWBY and Maria collapse once again.
Yang: (reaching for the cellar door) No... No...!
As the Grimm inch closer, Maria crawls toward Ruby, only able to see the world in shades of cyan.
Maria: Ruby... what color are your eyes?
Ruby: They're... silver...
Maria lets out a gasp of excitement.
Maria: You have a family? Friends?
Ruby looks up to see the Grimm getting closer, but Maria lays her head down and covers her ears. From Ruby's perspective, Maria's next words sound slightly muffled.
Maria: Don't think about them. Think about the people who love you. Focus on the thought of them, the way they make you feel. Focus!
Taking Maria's advice, Ruby closes her eyes and concentrates. While Maria speaks, Weiss tries to budge the doors open, and Yang reaches out in desperation before falling under a trance, her eyes even more blank than before.
Maria: Life... is beautiful. It is precious. And it must... be protected.
After focusing, Ruby opens her eyes, the silver gleaming. She sits up and her eyes glow brightly once more, driving the Grimm back and disintegrating them all. Maria and Ruby stare in awe while Weiss, Blake and Yang recover. Yang crawls up the stairs and punches the doors open with her prosthetic arm while firing from its gun. Team RWBY and Maria run out and find themselves in the basement that Ruby and Weiss discovered the day before.
Blake: We're back in the house?
Team RWBY then look at the bar and see Qrow leaning on the counter, passed out.
Ruby: (runs over and shakes her uncle) Uncle Qrow, get up!
Qrow: (slurring his words) Hey! Get off me! What are you doing here?
Maria: We're leaving, you idiot! Come on!
Maria runs out of the room, with Blake and Yang following her. Weiss looks back towards the basement entrance.
Weiss: Not yet...
Outside, Oscar has replaced the tire for the trailer and is filling it up with air. The noise from the air machine muffles the sound of people crying out his name.
Yang: Oscar! Oscar!
Oscar looks behind him to see Yang, Blake and Maria run out of the house.
Yang: Oscar! We have to go, now!
Oscar looks at them bewildered.
Back inside, Weiss grabs a few of the alcoholic bottles from the shelves and throws them towards the basement, shattering them.
Qrow: (still slurring his words) Hey... Hey! What are you doing?!
As more of the Grimm slowly start to come out from the basement, Weiss uses Myrtenaster and a glyph to send fire toward the cellar doors. Using the spilled alcohol, she sets the Grimm on fire.
Weiss: Now we can leave!
Weiss helps Ruby grab Qrow's arms as they drag him out of the room.
Qrow: Stop it! Stop! What's wrong with you?! What's...
As Qrow looks up, he sees the Grimm on fire still walking towards them. Qrow looks on in shock as he is dragged out of the house by his niece and her friend.
Outside, everyone sits in the flatbed trailer while Yang starts up her motorcycle. She wastes no time driving away from the now burning house.
Yang continues driving Bumblebee down the snowy road with everyone sitting in the trailer being pulled behind her.
Maria: The Apathy. They're not strong or ferocious. They drain your will to go on. Bartleby's estate was hemorrhaging money towards the end. He wanted to cut costs on Huntsman protection, but in order to do that, he needed everyone calm... always.
Oscar: (reading from the book) "Managed to get two away from their pack. Hike back was miserable, but got the bastards in the cellar. Wife thinks I was out sealing the waterway entrance. I'll do it tomorrow and tell her the truth once these things take the edge off of everyone. I'm tired."
Maria: The next page proves that he did, but not before the rest of the pack followed their missing pair all the way home. My guess is they made their way beneath the estate through the water tunnels that Bartleby sealed up the next morning. Bartleby's plan worked. (takes the book from Oscar) No one was angry or sad or scared. No one was anything. And then... no one was left.
Maria takes one more look at the final page of the diary, the last words written down being "I'm tired". She then closes the book and tosses it out into the snow, the cover having "VIII" on it, while the group continues to drive down the road.
Weiss: I'm... sorry for what I said... about giving up.
Upon hearing this, Yang stops driving.
Yang: Me too. We can't quit until the lamp is safe.
Blake: It's not your fault. It was those... things.
Maria: I should have known. The signs were all there, but I'd never seen an entire settlement withered away like that. I suppose my mind just isn't what it used to be.
Ruby: Miss Calavera? How do you know so much about the Grimm? And in the tunnels, you knew exactly what to say to make me... to make my eyes do that. How?
Maria: (smiles) Well, isn't it obvious, girl? I had Silver Eyes.