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The Reluctant Hero (RWBY SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by JBukharin, Feb 8, 2020.

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  1. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

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    Sweet!
    Schemes are hatched...
    Truths revealed...
    Butterflies flapping their wings...
    Will the wonders never end?
    I hope not!
     
  2. blakraven66

    blakraven66 Making the rounds.

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    Didn't you say Pyrrha was seven in the first chapter? So why is Ruby three when she should be only two years younger?
     
  3. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Because at the time I wrote that latter chapter, I had forgotten that I had set them to be 7 instead of 5, thus I messed up the simple math.
     
  4. Threadmarks: The Lady in Red (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Helping other people is our responsibility. And no matter what I’m gonna live by that.” – Shirou Emiya

    Chapter 13: The Lady In Red (4)

    To say that I was starting to notice a pattern slowly forming around my little family was… an utterly foolish understatement.

    With Raven being properly tied and moved out of my home, I expected things to return stable as I didn’t exactly have the particular condition that pushed me to seek a major involvement on the plot.

    Remnant’s complicated issues, ranging from family matters to world-end scenarios, were stuff to keep the furthest away from me. Especially since I was dealing with one of said issues because it was related to a good connection to part of the cast. The support cast to that.

    Yet my hopes of enjoying a new day without facing STRQ anytime before lunch, which were legitimated by the fact the team would be keen to avoid trying to press on the sensible info ‘I might be still having about the world’, crumbled before a rather unusual sight as I walked towards the kitchen.

    The snoring was soft, almost undetectable to my ears, and I would have easily associated the noise to Sienna deciding to pull an all-nighter for that day. It wouldn’t be the first time the woman decided to ‘guard’ the house and making use of the couch but… then I turned my stare at the furniture and frowned at what I saw.

    Raven’s eyes were closed, further proving that the woman was still soundly asleep and unaware of the fact that I was looking at her. She was wearing a short half-sleeved white shirt that sported a dark-gray rose on it, mini-pants doing nothing to hide the pale and ‘glowing’ legs of hers.

    Summer could have given her some clothes. The Branwen didn’t exactly bring anything that could resemble a night-wear and the fact that said clothes looked rather tight on her frame was enough to conclude it was indeed a spare pair of clothes from the leader of her team.

    Sprawled on the couch with her hair left unhindered with anything to tie her dark locks away, the sword-wielding woman looked like a lioness enjoying some much-needed rest and… now I was visualizing Raven with feline cat-ears-

    No, we are not having this right now!

    My hands slapped softly at my cheeks, the brief pain snapping me out of my embarrassment as I walked towards the kitchen cubicle. Holding back a yawn, I started to fix the fire on the stove and prepared the small saucepan with milk to put onto the flame.

    My hands fluttered without hesitation while picking the cups that were supposed contain the warm milk. A few spoons were taken too, carefully handling honey and chocolate powder.

    Finally a yawn broke away from my lips, my tired stare fixing over small pack of coffee mini-bars. While the bitter beverage was preparing, my attention shifted back to the saucepan as I turned off the fire and… poured the milk in the mugs.

    The little steam coming from the sweet liquid, coupled with the delicious aroma that came from the mixture blending in the cups was what I needed to finally wake up and… it was time to wake up the kids.

    With a nod, I picked the two cups that were meant to be given to Nora and Ren, turning around to start to walk-

    And Raven was there, standing patiently just a few meters away from me. Her red-eyed sight was directed at my actions, there was minor surprise as she had been discovered but… my only reaction was just tensing up and giving her my own wide-eyed gaze.

    “Good morning.” I greeted quietly, giving nothing else from that. The woman blinked and nodded in return, letting me walk past her as I resumed my little march to the children’s room.

    I admit I was surprised at first at her lack of a stronger response at the non-commitment to truly interact with her, but soon I was calmly shaking the kids awake. Both were quick to finish the content of their mugs and I was sent back-tracking to the cubicle.

    I glanced at Raven the moment I spotted her dark ahoge peeking from the couch she had used as a bed until minutes earlier. She was lying on it, sight covered by her arm as she sighed quietly.

    Mugs to the sink and my cup placed on the small counter of the kitchen, I glanced momentarily at her as I tried to understand… Why, how and when?

    Seriously, I thought that Summer would have gone out of her way to make sure the woman wouldn’t have escaped her watch but… she failed. I blinked, the third and final mug quickly placed together with the rest.

    My eyes turned once more at the young woman and I started to notice the awkward silence having been in the room for… sometime now. Curious, but not overly-dramatic.

    I could only think of the reason behind her presence here and I found quite interesting lack of the intensity present until the day before.

    Just as I was about to finally commence the discussion, I found myself beaten by the woman herself.

    “Why are you… happy of this dull life?” She asked, her voice clear as it delivered quite the packed question.

    I blinked. “Er- can you be a little more… specific?” I asked back, my mind trying to grasp what she was alluding to and… the former Huntress sighed.

    “You take joy from preparing breakfast.” Raven commented with a little stronger tone. “You enjoy something that shouldn’t give you any gratification and… it confuses me to no end.”

    I hummed. “You mean something that doesn’t give you any gratification.” I felt chiding to the woman, causing her red eyes to turn to glance at me with some intrigue. “People can actually live without having to deal with highly-dangerous situations, Raven.” I concluded with a sigh, her stare hardening a little in show of annoyance.

    “Then what about Summer- or Taiyang?” She pressed with more determination. “They are still Hunters but… they hardly care now about training as much as they usually did when we were still in the same team.” There was a brief pause. “I know that they now are taking care of the… children, but to fall to this pathetic predicament? Even Qrow looks stronger than them… and he is always drunk.” She stopped with a frown, eyes turning to the ceiling as she waited for an answer.

    … “You know that they have other responsibilities now-”

    “But then why would they decrease the training?” The Branwen interrupted, her ahoge flickering left and right to show her inner confusion. “Why would they waste time that could give them the strength to protect Ruby and Yang-”

    “Because they are still their parents.” I interjected firmly, my tone turning colder as I felt irritated by the lack of understanding I was getting from the woman. As clueless as she could be about family-related stuff, I was sure that she should have been smart enough to connect the fact children had parents and not formal guardians around. “And as their parents is their legitimate concern is to make sure that-”

    Just as I was about to finish that more-than-needed explanation, we both heard the distinct sound of the door bell.

    I frowned, slowly advancing towards the entrance area and went to check from the peeping hole. I was surprised at whom was on the other side, my hand quickly going for the knob and twisting it open after unlocking the door. A smile forming on my face, I nodded and greeted the people standing by the porch.

    “Good morning, Ghira, Kali.” The couple nodded back as I turned to the yawning girl standing close by her mother’s legs. “And hello there, Blake.”

    The child yawned and nodded. “’Morning, uncle John.” She greeted softly.

    ...Did she just-

    “She asked if she could call you like that… since it rings well, she says.” Kali answered my silent question while ruffling the tired girl’s hair. “And I find your resemblance with Ghira quite amusing.” She commented mirthfully, deepening my frown at this very bit.

    Ignoring the fact that he was taller than me, had muscles and could easily open me up as a tin can if the situation required, I think I could see… a very insignificant and minor resemblance.

    I glanced at the man, he merely nodded silently, his face telling some imposition from his wife had put him on the corner over the matter. Just as I was about to ask why they were there, I remembered that the three members of the Belladonna family weren’t the only ones present there.

    Courtesy of a partly-annoyed Sienna, my poor cheek was targeted by a sudden pinching attack.

    My eyes snapped open at the sudden pain and my sight was instantly to the not-so-amused Tiger Faunus. “Hello to you too, John.” The woman replied with a stern smirk, her hold intensifying. “I see that you are courteous today. Enough to remember me very well.”

    I felt dread as I felt her annoyance flooding towards me, like a wave ready to consume everything on its way. “I’m shorry!

    Her lips twitched upwards at my pinch-induced impairment and both Kali and Blake giggled at the scene, Ghira merely nodding in sympathy at the situation that had fallen upon my poor face.

    “I’m happy to know that you two are this close but… I think I should tell you that we are visiting for… her.” The mother’s smile widened as her index finger pointed behind me and… right at a very surprised Raven.

    “Kali?” The Branwen said with a shocked tone, her red eyes widening at the fellow woman.

    The Cat Faunus giggled. “It’s been a while, Rae.” She replied with a nod.

    I blinked, glancing at Ghira and then Sienna. “They know eash other?” I asked with confusion dripping from my words… only to be yanked a little harder by the Tiger Faunus. “W-Why?

    “’Why?’” She parroted with a quiet tone. “You want to tell me that I should question why she is here after she had left yesterday?!The woman looked- no, was livid and I gulped nervously.

    ...I was pretty convinced that a ‘sorry’ wouldn’t have worked this time around.

    Soon we were all sitting by the couches as Ghira, Sienna and I stared with mild curiosity as both women started to spare their respective attentions to each other.

    It took me a while to understand how the two were connected and… I almost facepalmed at where I could draw any parallels from.

    Old Times. It was from ‘Old Times’.

    The comic was pure slice of life with some Anime-like scenarios about the various misadventures of Team STRQ… and the grand cast formed by various other characters that weren’t supposed to be in Beacon Academy to begin with!

    Not that I complained, I always loved a good slice of life and…

    The issue was that I could remember how Kali was characterized in that series. Albeit very kind, polite and reserved, the Cat Faunus did have a minor attraction to Raven, said interest materializing in the form of stories… she would write about her.

    Nothing overly-romantic and cringey stories about any shipping but… the main discovery was that the mother was also a writer herself.

    I mean, Blake’s interest in literature was supposed to come from somewhere.

    Now that sounded like a good thing to consider, since I wouldn’t mind having Ilia learning from someone else other than me. As much as I was happy to help her around, finding time with the work hours and house chores proved to be a draining situation.

    “-And do you remember when Qrow and Tai ended up hit by that squid? It was… amusing wh-when the old man passing nearby gave them both CPR.”

    The Branwen snorted. “My brother would whine about that ‘incident’ for two whole months. I swear, the Dorm room became unbearable by how he behaved about it.” She commented herself.

    Kali chuckled. “Yet Tai was very quick to forget about it, something about trying to impress someone.” The Faunus winked at the huffing woman. “Do you remember the serenades he would throw at you?”

    “More like hindrances to homework.” Raven shook her head. “He was terrible when it was Valentine day.” She concluded with a sigh.

    “Indeed and-”

    “Dear.” Ghira interrupted right in that moment, his stare directed at his watch. “We should hurry, the children are going to be late for school.”

    My eyes widened and I nodded as I did notice it was getting late. Kali pouted a little but smiled sadly as she stood up from her seat. “It’s been good to catch up with you, Rae.”

    “Likewise, Kali. It’s always good to hear from you and...” Her red eyes turned to her friend’s husband, narrowing at him much to the latter’s nervousness. “Your husband… I hope he was the ‘one’ that could tame you.” She mused quietly, her tone turning… odd.

    …What?

    I think it’s time to bail, John. This is turning-

    “Why yes! He truly knows how to untangle me up-” The cat-eared mother giggled and nodded to the sheer embarrassment hitting the witnesses of this last bantering. Sienna stood up and started to drag me towards the door.

    “W-We are leaving!” She ordered with a hasty tone, pulling my arm and forcing me to stand up too.

    I had a sheepish look about the ‘hurry’ the woman had and… then I remembered a little detail-

    I had yet to change in my normal clothes and… I couldn’t go to my workplace in simple shirt with baggy trousers.

    “S-Sienna, wait! I-I am not ready-

    I’m not readyyyy!!!”​

    --------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d-----

    “That’s unacceptable, Jacques!” A closed fist slammed on the desk in front of the blank-looking young man.

    The owner of the hand was an elderly businessman with icy blue eyes and pristine white-hair “I gave you half of my shares for the SDC because I wanted to trust your common sense and ability to make affairs but-”

    “The company is faring well, father.” Jacques replied cooly. “I made sure that the profits were tripled and that the board of directors was happy with our plans.” He affirmed, pushing forward some papers with positive results.

    Your plans, you foolish brat.” Nicholas Schnee snarled, his face growing redder the more he spoke with this idiotic mess of a person. “Applying extreme measures against Faunus-related workers, depriving them of rights that they got from the Council-”

    “A lesser evil for the sake of improving the company.” The Chief Executive pointed out snidely. “Being ‘nice’ is unbecoming for the SDC. Our priority should be the betterment of the Schnee family and the empowerment of our monopoly over Remnant.” A smug smile appeared as the words left his mouth.

    You insufferable cur-” The official leader of the family paused a moment to cough, the fit lasting for a few moments. “Y-you, I will make sure you- you are ousted from the board-”

    “Empty threats from someone close to the coffin.” Jacques sharply stated, his eyes turning in slits as his anger started to show. “A foolish old man trying to use his reputation to ruin an upstanding young man and head of the Gelé family.

    “Y-You-”

    “I will be enjoying some quality life with my family.” The younger businessman interrupted. “Winter is showing an impressive capacity to deal with complex math problems, her tutors are praising her as a young genius-”

    “You w-will pay, Jacques.” The head of the Schnee promised coldly. “I- I will make sure t-that once I’m done with you-”

    “No more.” The elegant young man demanded. “You are allowed to leave, father.” The order was easily perceived by the elder and… Nicholas decided to retreat.

    His body was partially shivering, once more the medications failing to help him withstand the annoying illness that he had contracted during one of his latest explorations. His health had deteriorated to an unbelievable rate and… mistakes have been made.

    Giving his daughter’s hand to Jacques was possibly the greatest of them all and now the founder of the greatest Dust-based company in the world was struggling to protect his family from the ambitious prick’s plans.

    He walked alone in the empty hallways of the mansion, glancing once or twice in a while around as he noted the strange looks the guard within his very house were giving him. Like an untrustworthy criminal, a deranged man ready to explode any moment now.

    The last bit wasn’t that far as, while he did look merely irritated and sick, Nicholas was truly having the greatest ire toward that smug bastard. He sighed, eyes closing as he tried to calm down and-

    “Sir, I see that you have finished with your meeting.” The hopeful and flippant voice brought the old Schnee out of his inner peace, his eyes softly gracing the butler that he had personally hired to take care of his grandchildren.

    Klein Sieben was a diamond among coals, a man that proved to be not only capable of doing his job efficiently, but also provide the children someone that they could trust as a surrogate family member.

    Something that Nicholas didn’t mind as he did encounter the peculiar butler years before when he was but a babe at the time.

    “Thank the Gods, yes.” The elder replied amicably. “And I hope that Willow has finished with the sparring session of today.” He asked quietly, getting a simple huff from the servant.

    “Lady Schnee is patiently waiting by your room. She awaits news about-”

    “What happened with my talk with the selfish prick and… it’s not good news at all.” The man interrupted, shaking his head in self-disappointment. If he had been younger, healthier, the discussion would have gone way worse than having a moron still sitting on his former chair.

    “Indeed?” Klein looked quite concerned by this response. “Then would you prefer if I prepared for you some coffee and-”

    The Schnee held his hand up, gesturing the butler to be quiet. “I understand your worries, Klein, but I will manage without one for what I’ve to say to my daughter.”

    His little girl, pride of his eyes and… a registered Huntress by Vale’s registry. It had been amusing to see how Willow had preferred to continue her studies in Beacon Academy of all places… and yet he had been glad for that.

    Without a close influence from other important Altesian families, the rebellious girl developed and matured in a wise and dangerous woman to face without proper tools.

    Something that Nicholas circumvented unknowingly and so wrongly by setting up that arranged marriage with Jacques.

    Regrets filled his once determined soul, his hand shivering a little as it hovered close to the door that led to his room, his heart aching at the news he was supposed to deliver.

    He knocked twice and… entered with a faux smile.

    The moment he stepped inside, Nicholas was surprised by a quick hug from Willow. The young mother of three children looked hardly different from before her marriage. Sharp and brilliant cerulean eyes expected proper news, her expression one of hope.

    “Father.” Her smile, once a symbol of being happy of, now felt hurtful. He had failed his baby girl.

    “W-Willow.” He smiled even more as he patted his daughter’s shoulder. “I see that you are still holding strong with your sparring partners.” He commented, drawing a minor pout from the adult but gaining another big smile soon after.

    “They are particularly lazy-mannered in spars.” She replied with an annoyed tone. “But I suppose that this is the best I can afford right now.” Her voice trailed some resignation to the critical situation she was undergoing with her marriage.

    Her husband had yet to show any disturbing attitude, but if Nicholas’ gut feeling was correct (like always), then it was a matter of time, possibly after he passed away, for Jacques to snap and retaliate against his wife.

    Willow was sometimes hot-headed, something that she had inherited by her father, but that was also a flaw that put her at odds with the former member of the Gelé family.

    The old Schnee sighed. “Sweetie, can… can you help me to the bed. I think we both… needs to sit down for this.”

    She tensed a little at the request, nodding with some confusion and… concern. “S-Sure thing, father.”

    Her hold was strong, but cautious enough to mind his tired bones and soon… they were sitting by his bed.

    “The discussion was… heated.” Nicholas admitted quietly. “Jacques was very adamant over his stance and… and I understand that this is about your friend-”

    “It’s not only her.” Willow interrupted quietly. “But to those children and their parents that work at the mine.” She added with a serious tone, something that the father nodded at.

    He could see a resemblance to the horror of child labor back after the Great War, how Mantle had to struggle painfully to return to stability.

    A young Nicholas Schnee would learn how being humble and mindful of how things work all over the world was what made a man the best among high numbers. A man capable of standing up against odds and work himself out from poverty with ingenuity and capacity to take opportunities the right way, never the easy way.

    What once was the Schnee Dust Company, a monopoly born to bring prosperity to Remnant as a whole, was now slowly crumbling in a… ‘very large monopoly under Atlas’.

    The council had been a pain in the butt to deal back when they demanded several times for the company’s nationalization, something that would have crippled his hopeful dreams multiple times.

    Then Jacques started to mingle with some members of the government and strange situations happened by the political landscape of the kingdom.

    Some of the rights present for Faunus were rescinded one by one, meek explanations allowed and the military, having been silently and unknowingly bribed with a bigger budget, were fine about it all.

    Many of the older generals, those that had been there to witness the horrors of the Faunus Revolutionary War, were quick to resign from their posts… but their actions mattered little when the media focused on ‘other, more important news’.

    “A-And I tried to have him to back down from his post and...”

    There was a pause, his daughter realizing almost too quickly where he was going with his words and… the sadness was almost too much for him. The hug that she gave him, something that he should have initiated, brought him to tears.

    After years of fighting injustice itself, Nicholas Schnee lacked the strength to properly match up with the vultures hovering over his family. He was tired, too tired to keep up with the burden and… it was infuriating.

    He slumped over the woman’s kind embrace and… he sighed. “I… I’m sorry, sweetie-”

    “It’s alright, father-”

    “N-No, it’s not.” He interrupted angrily. “I-I should have noticed quickly that the mongrel was… like that. I should have- I-”

    Shhh...” The white-haired mother patted his weary head softly. “You did what you could have done and… I don’t blame you.” She said in a comforting fashion, causing more tears to flood through his eyes.

    This was… unacceptable.

    His sweet daughter… was here comforting him. He should be the one comforting her but…

    Promises matter little if there wasn’t any action backing them up.

    If he wanted to truly redeem himself… he would have to remove the cause of the problem.

    Jacques was problematic, part of his board was even worse. Even if he was close to his final day, Nicholas continued to fight for his family and… hopefully something would have come up within his mind when he would be with his grandchildren.

    With tutors and teachers besieging the two granddaughters, the man was left only with little Whitley, the toddler being too young to be ushered into education just yet.

    But the day after tomorrow, with the day in the schedule being freed for the children, the old man was offered the chance of enjoying some of his last moments with them.

    Maybe it was melodramatic and overly-foolish but, for the first time in decades of being atheist, Nicholas Schnee prayed for a miracle to save his family.

    ----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d-------

    AN

    And here we go! Last bit of Raven’s first Segments is done and… now we pick up the pace!

    I think you all know by know where it will be the next location and… Atlas will take two-three segments, bringing up more characters and… chaos theory goes insane.

    Also, Old Times is a comic written and drawn by Tikoriko and… it’s something wholesome, like 99% of his drawings.
     
  5. Threadmarks: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    But what you could perhaps do with in these days is a word of most sincere sympathy. Your movement is carried internally by so strong a truth and necessity that victory in one form or another cannot elude you for long” – Hjalmar Schacht

    Chapter 14: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall(1)

    When I first discovered that little issue regarding the strange transactions happening in Menagerie and connected it to an unknown element in Atlas, I hadn’t been aware of how much big the illegal operation had been, nor I had been conscious of the massive escalation it would have brought to the matter.

    When the Chieftain of Menagerie himself had slammed fists on his table regarding this absurdly-large money-laundering attempt via the exploitation of the less-developed banks present in the island, the reply of Atlas had been a mixed one.

    While a strong majority of the Atlesian council had publicly condemned the predicament as deplorable and quickly offered some compensation for the damage suffered by the small nation, the lack of notes detailing the possibility of further investigations and some trials for the guilty part was more than enough to propose a counter-offer.

    No compensation had to be paid, but there would have been an investigation assigned to a mixed task force formed by members of Atlas’ military and someone from the Menagerie’s own guards to maximize the ‘friendship’ and ‘trust’ between the two political entities.

    Something that was bitterly accepted after some days of hard-thinking for the former Kingdom of Mantle, but the hesitation to the acceptance to the rather ‘generous’ deal was more than enough to confirm that something was off about this entire predicament.

    The doubts pestering by Zardula about the ‘guaranteed safety’ for the Menagerie’s group had been influencing his refusal to have either Ghira or Kali, or both, to work on the diplomatic case. Thus, after some quick contemplation over the matter, a particular name was brought up.

    Sienna was more than happy to be bestowed with such a grand duty as much as she was enraged by the fact she would have to deal closely with Atlas. It was a curious sight the one I was granted when I saw her smiling with some minor angry growls purring on her throat, even the noise leaving me as perplexed as hesitant to even get close to the Tiger Faunus.

    And while I had expected to be given some free time away from the now-attached woman and try to deal with the fact I had someone like Raven Branwen deciding to sticking around once or twice in a while, maybe also get to help Ilia a little more with her project, I was given a foul hand as I had been summoned the earliest in the morning by the chieftain himself.

    The visit had gone pleasantly, the coffee offered was more than delightfully accepted and the kind comments regarding my ‘trustful’ approach over this discovery were quite sugarish themselves to be the prelude of something a little more complicated and worrisome.

    The pleasantries lasted for just less than half an hour and what I was given in the form of quick words was more than enough to have me hyperventilate a little at what I was being offered.

    With Sienna going to Atlas, there had also been a mindful thought about sending someone else to both keep an eye over her zealous belief over the Kingdom and to make sure she had someone to have as an ally during the trip there up in ‘behind enemy lines’.

    I was quick to pick up where he was going with that introduction and before I could have been granted the chance of refuse, the man was quick to point out the fact that Sienna was the least worrying guard to have around until she was around to do this job.

    In fact, even though I had been behaving rather ‘well’ in the last few days and I had proven that I meant it that I wanted to stay there by bringing up this ordeal to the authority’s sight, I still had to have someone to be my minder. Cue the subtle reminder that I would have to deal with someone possibly worse than the young woman and completely unknown for me to ‘avoid getting stitches’ from.

    It wasn’t a pleasant thought as it would put me in quite the pickle with whoever I would have to deal with in that very case. It was also annoying that the man knew about my trouble about it and was keen to present it in quite the infuriating manner.

    The smug was irritating, but I was too nervous over the fact I had been put in a very difficult predicament here with this crossroad. Either I went to Atlas and dealt with whoever had gone to create this economic mess, or I would have to deal with some hostile minder that could screw my peaceful life without a second thought about it.

    I don’t think there isn’t much of a choice. With how it was worded, I can tell he really wants you on the field.

    ...What? Why would he-

    You are good with economics, you have found about the issue and it would be easy to see why having you to personally analyze the matters from a close perspective would get the investigation going with some hopes of success.

    Ozpin’s comments were logical and incredibly-helpful in bringing up this very notion. Atlas might not be outright governed by some tyranny, but the few men ruling in the council wouldn’t have been keen to have this scandal to escalate to a further degree. They were pragmatically nationalistic in nature, but they were also ‘united’ under the banner of the grand Kingdom they were.

    It was good in terms of keeping stability up, but also fairly dumb when corruption lingered around the high levels. And that is why I had to be there with Sienna to make sure that things wouldn’t get hidden away for the sake of ‘unity’ and ‘patriotism’.

    It’s not as bad as you point it out to be.

    Ironwood is a moderate element in the leadership compared to some generals. I would be quicker to believe that there is some moral code going on with the tenure of the military than that the military itself is corrupt like the government.

    You mean that they accept honor and justice as tenants? You will be surprise by what James was forced to do two years before the Fall.

    I have limited knowledge about stuff and I think that until crazy things happen to disprove my current familiarity with people, I will stick with what I know about him and the others.

    Which is why I think your knowledge about the ‘future’ is as peculiar as it is quite exhaustive about the possible reason as of why our predicament exist.

    What?

    While I have indeed transmigrated in your body, my incapacity to fully take over is manifested by the biological and soul-related differences we share. Your body is devoid of Aura, it’s devoid of a true Semblance as… there is nothing even remotely close to this third Humanity.

    You mean that there is actually a different about- Hold up! Third humanity? What-

    Nothing to be concerned about. Just keep an eye on things as your unique body and soul are going to become a greater target compared to Maidens and Relics.

    AND YOU DECIDED TO TELL ME THIS NOW? WHY THE-

    Because it’s a mere suggestion, a highly-probable one, but still a guess about our peculiar case. Nothing that truly tell us much about the truth of things. And now, I will rest for a while… I think things will require my assistance rather soon now that we are going in dangerous lands-

    Who said that I would accept the offer-

    You are currently signing it as you are think-talking to me.

    I blinked back to reality and I found my hand scribbling down my signature on the document forwarded by the calm-looking elder, my attention fully shifting back to the real world as said compiled file was pulled away from my reach and analyzed by the Faunus’ attentive glance.

    He gave a nod, a tiny smirk unveiling as the paper was taken away by a guard nearby. I stared at the scene in utter surprise and confusion, brain failing to keep up with the fact I just did that unconsciously.

    ...WHAT THE FUCK!

    Ozpin didn’t reply at my foul reaction, further leaving me to deal with what I just did. Seriously, what had happened back there and why I had little recollection over the actions regarding the signing of the papers.

    I was then given a quick explanation about a few questions I still had over the matter, most of them regarding the kids. Kali had been more than happy to take the two children to stay by the mansion for the days Sienna and I were supposed to be out of there, Ghira merely impassive but quick to accept of helping me with the kids too.

    My workplace would end up getting informed that my current presence was going to be missing for the time being for some national security’s matters. The excuse was simple to listen but it was hefty enough to silence enough questions from my boss and other colleagues.

    I didn’t ask anything about Raven, knowing full well that the woman was still going to keep track of me with her portals and I knew that the Chieftain would surely be elated of the fact he wouldn’t have to be wary of the bandit leader wandering in Menagerie.

    What followed after the meeting could only be described as ‘utter chaos’.

    I had to reassure the two kids that I was going to be back in more or less a week from now, the work being a safe trip that wouldn’t see me put in any danger (a lie, but I was quick to label it a white one). Nora cried, a lot, the girl latching onto my chest worse than glue the moment she was finally provided with the explanation behind my sudden departure.

    Ren was sad too, but the young boy was a little more understanding of the matter after twenty minutes spent telling him that I would be fine, that Sienna would have been with me and that Raven would have surely kept an eye over me for the sake of keeping me alive from any attempt at my life.

    The Valkyrie was a little more difficult to convince, especially with how loud her bawling was and how she decided to drown any words coming from my lips with her cries. I was almost brought to a rather unpleasant situation where a parent, even a newly-made one as I was, had to be strong enough to part with their kids.

    Nora had grown attached to me rather quickly, the sudden opportunity to finally having a good family being more than enough to urge her to spend more time around me when I was back home and that manifested right as I had to go for this business trip.

    The thought that I had to be absent for a full week had been enough to spark, anxiety, nervousness and fear as the girl denied me the chance of moving away from the couch of the living room back home.

    I wouldn’t be lying that I did felt a little crappy at the prospect I couldn’t spoil her over the matter, maybe rejecting the offer and all, but then I was given peace in the form of a lucky development with the girl.

    Her cries turned less, her eyelids dropped until they close and after two hours of full-crying and all, I was left with a terribly-exhausted child on my arms. I blinked tiredly myself, strained by the situation but strong enough to carefully pass the sleeping child right at the kind and waiting hold that Kali had prepared for me to let go of Nora.

    The child shifted with a small frown and scowl, the lines were once there were her tears were now red as her cheeks were. I dropped a little kiss on her forehead and patted Ren’s head while bidding him a calm goodbye. The boy nodded with a sad smile, holding back a yawn before returning the words.

    With this situation dealt with, I was left to deal with Sienna’s reaction over my presence in what was going to be her ‘glorious’ but painfully-agonizing road to Atlas. The young woman had been shocked-no, floored by the fact that I, a simple civilian, would have to follow her around during this voyage for the cold north and her lack of major words dignified an immense conflict growing in her head.

    I had no doubt that she was hesitant of the fact that I would have been a burden in any attack and that I could have possibly caused some major issues about the legitimacy of what was supposed to be a proper entourage from Menagerie.

    I wasn’t a Faunus and people would have suspected me of being from another Kingdom, thus suspecting a possible foul play from another ‘rival’ over the visible weakness exposed by the scandal’s discovery.

    Paranoia was a strong emotion capable of making people do some mad things for the sake of self-preservation. Like Gulags and Purges.

    I was also conscious of the fact that there were enough power-plays to make things hot in that cold nation up below, that some politicians would make propaganda out of this and maybe try to get some easy favors from popular consensus over the failure or success of this investigation.

    And hopefully, we weren’t going to be assassinated by some hit-man mere moments before returning back home. I would seriously hate that kind of unfair timing and… death isn’t fun.

    This incredibly-annoying and massively-tiring first half of the day ended up with Sienna and I entering inside the airship arriving from Atlas itself, the interior was a cold-themed as the exterior, the lack of warm colors and the presence of a prevalent amount of gray, silver and blue was enough to remind me of some military operation.

    There was a young lieutenant assigned to command the ship and a mix of soldiers and androids keeping things going within the complex machine that would transport us to Atlas and… maybe get us to a safe refuge before forcing us to do things.

    I really didn’t want to die a Kennedy’s death.

    ----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---

    The silence offered by her room was surprisingly noise and difficult to endure.

    Winter Schnee huffed as she was finally enjoying some free time away from her tutors and back to the safe refuge that was her bedroom. The place itself was big enough to accommodate the entirety of her wardrobe, filled with clothes for various occasions, her book-filled shelves and the workshop she had received as a gift from her grandfather.

    The ghost of a smile briefly appeared at the mentioning of the kind old man that was Nicholas Schnee. The elder was rather forgiving and lenient over her educative growth, mentioning the fact that she was still young enough to enjoy some happiness before dealing with the complex nature of being part of the richest family in Remnant.

    The girl huffed as she flipped the current page, the set of math problems having been completed with flawless execution of the methods taught by the rigorous teachers bought by her father.

    Men that were stern with their explanations, quite unforgiving when some issue would rise up from the failure to properly understand a part or two of their lectures but also quite cautious to not exaggerate with their manners and their loud tones, knowing that a mistake could see them thrown out from the graces of the family.

    Even though a mere ten-years old child, Winter Schnee was a very attentive girl that could understand the nature of things happening in her little palace of ice and cold. Home was home with Mama, Weiss, Whitley and Grandpa, but while it had a full-fledged warming system, the presence of her father seemed to render things so cold and difficult to keep up with.

    The man that was Jacques Schnee was… ambitious. She blinked, her hands pausing a moment in her homework as she repeated softly the word and connecting silently to its definition.

    Her father had an ambition, a long-timed goal that seemed to span beyond the common and the average. He was conscious of his rich position and exploited those that were weaker than him. The nature of the strong against the weak, it was something that the lessons from the tutor teaching her about history had been repeating over and over again.

    The power of grand men against a multitude of inferior individuals, either because of economic, social or even political reasons. It was something that happened between animals, Faunus and even humans.

    It was a connecting element that was somewhat unpleasant to those that felt that the ‘inferiority’ of the Faunus-kind was genuinely a thing. Even as a young and still-growing lady, Winter knew that there was something wrong in calling it a ‘fact’ when no proof had ever been brought up.

    Something that her Mama had agreed to when she had asked about the matter, further giving her depictions of the concept being subverted either by humans or faunus themselves. It was so absurd yet so present, especially with the old and loud guests that her father would invite for business dinners.

    Rich people that were either members of the SDC or just some minor noble families trying to get the scraps falling of Jacques’ plate. Ignoring their loud grumbling and overly-saccharine words that were to endear the attention of the unofficial head of the family, Winter’s only problem about those events was the frequent presence of children her age. Young boys that were keen to share tentative words of ‘friendship’ and ‘alliance’ because of their families’ desperate attempts at glory, even going as far as to try and do the same with the still-innocent Weiss.

    Her younger sister was incredibly-trusting of those individuals, feeling that their words meant what they were saying and sometimes forcing the eldest child’s hand in going to threaten the daring fools to back away from these attempts.

    The first time she had seen closely someone threatening someone else, it was when her mother had been angry with one of the servants treating badly little Whitley. The words had by then lost any attempt of formality, yet it hadn’t completely degenerated in a crass contest of bad words.

    She knew little of the ‘foul ones’, only that they were bad to hear and say to someone, something that had been more than enough for Winter to not search about them and…

    She was digressing.

    Winter’s first try at intimidating had felt quite meek, the embarrassment and nervousness almost getting her to pause mid-lecture, but she had been lucky that the individual being targeted proved to be easy to dissuade from annoying Weiss even more.

    The second and third tries were actually a little more refined, she took her time to properly set up the time and settings for those to happen. Both were successes and so were the ones that followed after those.

    Precision, improvement and an odd sense of satisfaction in bringing order to that trouble-making nature of those pursuers. It was also something that had led her to take a dominant role in keeping watch over her siblings, Weiss even going as far as to consider her big sister ‘her hero’, the title being enough to put a blush on the little lady’s cheeks.

    The praise might have been of a brief nature, but the person from where it originated was enough to bring out even more satisfaction with her protective nature.

    The noise of the door opening was what interrupted her thoughts and homework’s sessions, her throat stopping with the calm humming born from that positive thinking and- She smiled when she was greeted by the familiar head peeking from the entrance of the room.

    “Hello, sweetie,” Nicholas Schnee smirked happily as he greeted his grandchild. Winter’s eyes brightly returned the warmth she was received and she stood up from her chair to approach the kind elder.

    The man fully entered inside the room, his hands holding something behind his back as he waited for the child to stop before him. “Oh? Were you busy with your homework?” He asked with a silly but curious tone, getting a huff from the child.

    “It’s math,” She replied back with a pout, little arms crossing close to her chest. “Grandpa, why is math so difficult?”

    The man chuckled and nodded. “Why, I think it’s to make sure that fun things are funnier to make after Math,” He explained flawlessly, like always. Yes, her Grandpa was this much cultured and impressive compared to other… dummies!

    She almost giggled at that funny word, there was just something deeply amusing about it and- her attention was once more at the kind old man as the secret object he had been hiding until now was revealed to her.

    Awe struck deeply as she was staring eye to eye to a fluffy teddy bear with pure-white fur, dark-blue eyes and… a little bow atop one of its ear. It had also a little smile and it seemed ready to be hug by the girl in front of it.

    Winter didn’t hesitate in snatching the lovely gift off from Nicholas’ hands, pulling it in a tight embrace as she contemplated, between the pleasant surprise and the gleeful texture of the fluff, whatever fate it was going to get once her father discovered it.

    It was an odd aversion from Jacques Schnee, but he had been sternly denying to his children the chance of keeping any fluffy animal dolls for no apparent reasons. Something that had driven him to get rid of the other gifts from the still-leading figure of the family towards the youngest members, either by burning them or having them delivered to the nearby dumpster.

    Fat tears were still a strong memory of what had happened back when her first little lion cub had been taken away and destroyed, her rage directed at her father had reached the highest peak possible in that fateful day and… she blinked when she felt a big hand caressing up on her head.

    Her stare noticed the kind but sad smile on the elder’s face, a strange sight with the usually-cheerful grandpa and… he spoke. “Jacques will be busy in those few days,” He finally said with a sigh. “There is a commission in the council that wants to see things over a bad thing that had happened in Atlas.”

    She frowned. “What bad thing?” The girl pressed on with a curious tone. Why wouldn’t she want to know what kind of situation was going on at home? Could it be another strike? Or Maybe it was some disaster back in Mantle.

    “Nothing that you should concern yourself with, little one,” He snorted amusingly, drawing a bigger smile from the returning pout in the girl’s face. “But I can tell you a little unique detail that got me quite shocked about this curious case.”

    The return of her interest was immediate, enough to cause another snort about it before an explanation was provided.

    “The commission is going to be formed also by individuals loyal to Menagerie-”

    The little nation that contained the grand majority of Faunus-kind, Winter knew about it mostly from her Geographical lessons that the Historical ones. She was still ‘facing’ the first section of the Great War and that was going to be a large topic to deal for the rest of the year, she reckoned with an inward sigh.

    “And there will be a human among them.” The elder finally finished with a little grin, expecting an incredible reaction out from her granddaughter and… it sure did happen. Her jaws dropped in an adorable display of shock at that impossible scenario.

    It had been in the lessons from Geography, the tutor had been keen to point out that humans were never accepted within the community and thus no one had ever gotten to a high place within the Faunus-dominated hierarchy.

    Yet her Grandpa provided the best news with the highest of legitimacy and… she blinked.

    “W-What?” She started with a little surprise still dripping off her words. “But why would a human be among them?”

    The man hummed quietly, his hand still carefully patting her soft head and drawing a frown out of the girl.

    “Well, I don’t know exactly how he got there… but he is part of the commission and he seems to be a competent fellow by the info I gathered from the little bio afforded by the bank he work for.”

    Part of her had been eager to press for more about this surprising development, but she remember about eagerness being a troubling emotion to bring so often around. That was what her Mama would tell her about during the little time they managed to spend together.

    It was rare nowadays to get together to spend some time with her…

    “Let’s just say if things proceed smoothly, your father will have some trouble coming his way,” The elder chuckled, drawing the girl’s curiosity beyond her little formality and she finally asked.

    “But why is he going to matter that much, Grandpa?” Her tone was carefully picked to strike the proper ‘cute’ notes to get some persuasion going, that was also something that Mama had told her to do with her Grandpa.

    And it did in fact work when the man sighed before spilling more about the matter.

    “This young man has a strong connection to the topic of the discussion, something that Jacques doesn’t have and… I almost pity your father for going against that kind of tight case.”

    “So is father going to…” What word would best fit with the context? Fail? Be defeated?

    “He will be steam-rolled and… that is the best fate he could get out from that possible meeting,” He muttered with a smirk. “By the way, young lady, are you ready to spend some time outside with your grandpa and your siblings?”He asked with a giddy tone, getting a little giggle out from the amused child.

    “Of course, Grandpa-” Then Winter blinked and sighed. “Still, I would have liked if Mama had come too.”

    “I wanted that too, sweetie, but Mama is busy with annoying your father,” The elder replied with a sad sigh.

    The little girl frowned at this new display of sadness. It was unbecoming for her grandpa to be sad, same for Mama and her siblings and…

    Hopefully, that strange man living in Menagerie was truly going to make her father’s sorry for hurting her Mama and the rest of the family.

    She sure wished for it so.

    -----------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d--------

    AN

    So, Xmas has passed and now we awaits for the New Year.

    By the way, I started a new RWBY fanfic that will completely do some crazy stuff that not many stories do:
    1- The MC isn’t a OC/SI but a normal OC connected to a fairy tale;
    2- He will not be paired with anyone but will be close (we are talking about ‘closeness of the wholesome kind’) to the co-protagonist;
    3- Canon Plot? What Canon Plot?
    4- Blake is a legitimate dummy that will become relatable and…
    5- Stalkers, Yanderes, insane innuendos;


    And lots more in… I have a Cat Problem!
     
  6. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Is it a RWBY comic? Official or non?
     
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  7. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Yes.
     
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  8. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Yes to everything?
     
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  9. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    It's on Deviantart. It's not official.
     
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  10. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Thanks!
     
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  11. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

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    Sweeeet~
    More waves!
    More butterflies!
    Give a happy ending here and there!
    Avoiding a Kennedy Bullet here and there!

    Nice nice!
    As expected of our Ozpin-Possessed MC.
     
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  12. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter update is delayed to tomorrow. Had to upload twice for another story and I drained time and mind over those chapters so... tomorrow!
     
  13. Threadmarks: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Justice will be swift! Justice will be painful! It will be DELICIOUS!” – Ruby Rose, she is not a crook.

    Chapter 15: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall(2)

    I think I’ve not stressed well enough my rational phobia about dangerous situations that saw me quite close to either be stabbed, cut or shot at.

    When the Airship landed by the small hangar pad provided by the flight controller, I had expected just a handful of soldiers, mixing with the already well-guarded entourage which I was part of for this occasion.

    Much to my chagrin and surprise, the welcome greeting was much bigger and more patriotic than I had initially expected.

    Actually, why didn’t I expect Atlas to parade its full military glory in front of the small envoy from Menagerie? Was I that much detached from the overall situation to forget about the Kingdom’s strong and trustworthy appearance?

    I wasn’t much intrigued nor interested by the little march song used to flaunt and flex their muscles with the two lines of men armored and ready to make some warring.

    What truly caught my attention was the lack of any robotic units there for me to see. Either it was too early in the past to see some of the modern anti-Grimm robots or maybe the budget wasn’t allowing for the full introduction of the expensive replacements for the soldiers I was looking at.

    All of them seemed to be upholding some legitimate military discipline, I could see honest and undeniable warriors that could really make this kingdom truly the greatest around.

    Then I imagined how they would end up being slowly replaced by robots, devices that can’t learn anything from experience (yet) and could easily compromise a mission because of some malfunction.

    Flesh worked better than metal, that is why, despite the advanced technology the nation had, I couldn’t help but facepalm at how they were blatantly ignoring the flaws of their ‘ultra-modern’ doctrine of warfare.

    But I was digressing, my eyes fixed on the man that stood out from the mass of soldiers.

    General James Ironwood was wearing something similar to his original uniform, but instead of a single glove to hide his cybernetic prosthesis he was wearing a pair.

    His posture was much less rigorous than how I remembered it to be in the series. He blinked, noticing my stare, but his attention was briefly on me as someone else managed to catch his attention.

    While I was an oddity to what other past envoys had been made by, someone that many of the soldiers were looking in quiet surprise and limited shock, their focus was suddenly directed at the sole individual beside me.

    Donning a uniform similar to the one I was provided to make use of for the entire duration of the trip, Sienna was visibly tense and miffed at the little welcome greeting made by the troops there.

    The Tiger Faunus looked ready to jump in action, but what kind of action was difficult to predict.

    It was a violent one, that was a sure thing, but her attention wasn’t channeled on someone in particular. The entire hangar felt the anger exuding from the woman and I glanced at it with silent curiosity.

    I’ve seen Sienna getting angry at people before, with me being the prime subject of the episodes most of the time I had been at Kuo Kuana, but the current display she was giving off was actually beyond anything I had seen until now.

    Gone was the intelligence, gone was the logical predatorial glint in her eyes. I could see a rabid and furious animal ready to lash out at the closest living being for even breathing a little too loud for her tastes.

    If this had been a normal situation back home, I would have let her cool down on her own, knowing perfectly that the young woman was smart enough to realize if she is exaggerating or not.

    But knowing the importance of the current predicament, I decided to intervene before things escalated to an unfortunate point.

    Sienna stopped and tensed a little more, growing quiet and surprise as she felt my hand squeezing at her arm. Her attention shifted at me and she noticed almost too suddenly the little stern glare I was directing at her.

    Chiding her by using words would have been a mistake for me since the circumstances would have turned me to be the issue for this little diplomatic endeavor. That is why I settled for a quick and easy to understand glance that settled things up for the woman.

    Don’t mess things up.

    The message seemed to reach deep in her brain, her breathing slowing to a normal rate and she finally threw a quick nod my way before we continued to walk towards Ironwood.

    The General looked incredibly curious, maybe it was my presence here or maybe it was the dynamics behind the relation I had with Sienna.

    I wasn’t in the mood to play the part of the sociopath, thus I merely shrugged at the present surprise.

    He tensed up, aligning to a military salute before introducing himself. “General James Ironwood of the Atlesian Military, I welcome you to the Kingdom of Atlas, Diplomat Khan and Consultant Bukharin.”

    He bowed a little, prompting us to return the favor, with Sienna being a little slow with bending her head a little for the sake of mere courtesy.

    “General Ironwood,” Sienna replied with a soft and restrained voice. “We accept Atlas’ welcome.”

    Simple and perfectly curt for the Faunus to avoid giving too much of her attention to the high officer. The General blinked but nodded, possibly aware of the possible tension between the two diverse groups and… he turned to glance at me.

    I blinked back at him. “Something’s wrong, General?” I asked carefully, gaining a surprised look out of him.

    “Just… curiosity, Consultant Bukharin,” The Atlesian admitted with a neutral tone. “Still, I believe it would be best for us to make way to the current setting of the committee.”

    He gestured for us to follow him, the lines of soldiers parting and forming two different columns as they covered our flanks while we proceeded out of the hangar and towards the convoy of cars and trucks waiting outside the military installment.

    We entered the vehicle where the General was going and Sienna almost squished me to death while she furiously sat down on the comfy seat.

    It wasn’t her weight, I was perfectly aware that she was slim and athletic, but the intensity which she used to descend upon the cushioned seat ended up partly rubbing on my leg and… giving me a sudden but moderate bout of burning pain.

    I flinched, my brain giving the utmost to keep my mouth from giving out some foul word, even whispered, at that unplanned suffering.

    The Faunus did notice the flinch, but she didn’t seem apologetic about my current plight. Rather she looked to be enjoying the little payback for being ‘chided’ before the General.

    In a normal case, I would have let go, but considering that it was Sienna and I wasn’t technically a normal human being, I decided to keep count of this little slight.

    I was a man with common sense and a fair degree of maturity, but pettiness was something included in the overall package and thus my revenge will manifest in utter childishness and dumb.

    I managed to keep quiet, or at least I didn’t let out any compromising noises that would have highlighted my temporary pain as Ironwood decided to finally speak up.

    “Consultant Bukharin, may I ask you a question?” The man inquired with a formal tone, once again sporting his professionalism even in that close setting.

    Sienna glared at him briefly, then she looked with some curiosity right at me, intrigued by what I could do now that I was being called to reply.

    As a Diplomat, the Tiger Faunus should have been the one to answer questions and, if someone had tried to divert the attention to another individual of the entourage, to remind said ‘someone’ that she should be the only one to answer to stuff.

    She was still angry, I could sense that in the For- Actually no, that would lame.

    “Sure thing, General,” I replied calmly and the man nodded.

    “If it isn’t too much personal or direct to ask,” He continued with a cautious voice. “I was interested to know… how did you end up living in Menagerie and working for the local bank?”

    The woman tensed visibly at that probing query, her eyes widening as I sighed and frowned.

    “Gratitude,” I merely replied, letting the world roll off my tongue as slowly as humanly acceptable.

    There was some silence, the Atlesian officer looking perplexed at the curt response, but noting the little smugness coming off from my little smirk.

    “I suppose I had been… far too blunt with my inquire,” He promptly countered at the sudden realization of what I just did. “My apologies.”

    “Apologies accepted and...” I hummed quietly as my smirk fell. “I reckon that I shouldn’t have been that much blunt with my distress.”

    It was a competition of sort between me and the General, a challenge to see whom was able to discover more of the other by keeping the situation as civil and polite as possible.

    Was it correct for me to advance such a situation? Maybe no, but I could also see some interesting rewards in coaxing the man to indulge with his curiosity.

    In for a penny- Nevermind, my PTSD can’t allow even that saying to even go through without getting some Volume 3 memories scrambling my brain.

    Oh, the horror and the inhumanity!

    “I suppose we are both at fault,” The man agreed almost instantly. “But I think I should explain that this is out of my personal curiosity. The Council hardly requested for some inquiry about your origins, Consultant Bukharin-”

    “Please, call me ‘John’,” I interjected with a sigh. “I understand that the full formality might be mouthful and I think it’s for the best to… reduce some silly obstacles.”

    But while I was keeping up with this little act of probing around the General, my mind was also playing around the idea that the Council actually did try to study my curious case.

    I had expected it, but until now it had been but just a baseless assumption of mine.

    To hear from the Atlesian liaison that this was actually something that almost happened? A curious detail that would surely help up in the future.

    People were noticing my presence and, if Atlas started to question about my existence, so would Vale and Mistral.

    And that would be quite a difficult kind of celebrity to face as Salem was always watching for curious individuals to either recruit or kill if those refused her offer.

    What a drag, would a certain Jojo say at the cruelty bestowed to my fate.

    Ironwood stiffened at the simple request, wasting a moment or two to consider the proposal before letting out a hesitant nod.

    “While I can allow such condition to pass in a semi-formal circumstance,” He paused to stress up his point. “I’m sure you can understand that I can’t extend such thing during the proper meeting scheduled for the hours after lunch.”

    ...After lunch? I thought it would have been before the meal. The first session, I did expect it to be early enough for us to manage through it without having to deal with other problems prior that.

    Yet fate screwed me again and I merely accepted the fact that I was going to deal with some hours of boredom to spend Gods know how.

    At least I had Sienna to pester around for some time, just enough to not get butchered by anything coming from anger.

    “I can see that being a necessity, sir-”

    “James,” The man interrupted this time, a small smile visible only partially from the way he was now looking at the road. “I think you have raised a fair point, John.”

    ...I could work with that, I guess.

    In the end, after almost an hour of speaking and discussing about general topics which barely scraped at more important details, the convoy ended up stopping as we reached the military building set to be used as a temporary ‘embassy’ for the current visit.

    We were given a single room and a pair of guards to keep a look out for us and onto us as we were allowed to wander around the city until lunch-time.

    Two hours worth of doing something rather than being stuck indoors without much to do as I was fairly sure a military-owned establishment had anything even remotely close to ‘normal’ TV.

    Atlas military was just far too strict to allow something as ‘distracting’ as that to even exist within the premises of its discipline-based hierarchy.

    Sienna and I decided to go for that promised walk, my interest in seeing the fullest of Atlas being now displayed as the chance to get some answers was here for me to grasp.

    The wandering was monitored by three soldiers, their visors hiding their hair, face and expression as those followed us around wherever we went.

    It was mostly unnerving, but then the situation changed when we decided to enter the park and… I ended up encountering someone I had but just seen a glimpse off from a portrait in the series.

    --------d-d-d-d----------d-d-dd-----------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d-------

    Nicholas Schnee huffed as he tried and almost failed to keep up with the giggling children playing tags with him.

    Weiss was the loudest of the two, little happy tears falling as she was having the one of the best moments of her childhood, Winter sharing the same bright smile as the two girls continued to play around with their grandfather.

    The park had been perfectly secured by the family’s bodyguards as to avoid any unwanted attention from journalists or worse people, giving them the full chance to fully enjoy the day as a family rather than a picture in a frame.

    Willow was sitting by one of the benches, the woman smiling kindly as she shared some time with her youngest child. In a light-blue crib, little Whitley was gurgling happily at the loving care of his mother, the toddler enjoying the affection coming from the beautiful lady.

    The former Huntress hummed a little song, playing with her son’s little hands and mimicking what seemed to be some little extravagant dance. The child loved the new activity, a little giggle muffled by his pacifier but still reaching out for his mother.

    And that reaction was more than enough to lift her hopes of success up.

    Without Jacques around, her husband having to prepare his own speeches and possibly to fabricate some proof to add to his credibility, the four Schnees were left to appreciate their free day away from the books and the usual isolation forced by the former Gelé heir.

    But that wasn’t the only interesting detail of that important day that Willow felt happy to know of.

    While the committee had garnered major popular interest for the rarity of the entourage invited for the occasion, the very thing that made it truly unique and crucial for Jacques was that he was implied over a possible scandal, a fraud of non-negligible size that would have easily seen him ousted from the Company if proved to have happened.

    The magnitude of the eventual humiliation was extremely high, mostly because the event has happened through the non-developed bank in Menagerie.

    Relationships weren’t hostile with the Faunus-dominated nation, they were actually the warmest since the last decades spent in efforts to introduce business on the pseudo-kingdom.

    Efforts that came directly from the other businessmen that were part of the Council and wished to expand somewhere where the SDC wasn’t as prominent as it was in almost all the countries in Remnant.

    And with this little issue, with this blatant attempt to ‘undermine’ a nation’s economic sovereignty, the relations between Atlas and Menagerie were surely going to suffer a major blow.

    A blow so big that some heads would have to roll for the sake of making up the damage caused to the ‘Grand Kingdom’.

    It had been utter and pure dumb luck that had seen this opportunity to rise to the attention to the council, the Chieftain of the island himself had barged in with these news through some heated messages.

    Angry demands, questions and a call for proper justice.

    Something that was difficult to stomach for many individuals here in Atlas, but also something far more hideous to ignore out of the reputation the Kingdom in the North still had with the other nations.

    If Menagerie could have been violated in that manner, then why wouldn’t be the case for Vacuo or Mistral.

    Vale had already gone through some investigations, the results having been yielded mere days ago and showing no sign of foul play…

    But how would Mistral and Vacuo do the same with their current plights. With Mistral having bandits and a government that barely worked and with Vacuo existing only nominally in the map of Remnant, it was impossible for similar cases to be opened up by their respective councils and…

    International outcry was just starting to reach out Atlas.

    Mantle was tensing up at the growing dissent, the local administrations trying its best to appease the worries of the population but what really caused some serious possibility of real justice to be brought out was the ire of the various men scorned by what Jacques had done behind their back.

    In a single discovery, everything the man that she had married had created was sent to shake and soon crumble if some major intervention wasn’t approved by the military.

    A difficult possibility considering the fact that the SDC had always been at odds with the Atlesian military, mostly because the high leaders believed that the company had to be nationalized by the government to unleash its full potential.

    That was never going to happen, of course, and it was all thanks to some legal contracts set up by her father.

    The company was secured from nationalization and… her husband was soon to face quite the hostile jury since the committee was made by men and women loyal to Menagerie and the Army.

    Something that was actually having Jacques worried if not scared of losing the position acquired as a ‘gift’ of an arranged marriage.

    Willow smiled as her ears were endeared by hearing another happy gurgle from Whitley.

    The toddler was truly showing to be turning just like her daughters, her baby boy being as bright as possible under her caring ministrations and hopefully he wouldn’t take none of his father’s foolish ambition.

    There was barely any cloud in the sky and the sun was easy to spot up in the sky, it was truly a good day to spend outdoors rather than to freeze at the horrible cold place that was their mansion.

    Yet it was about the time it was starting to get close to lunch that something started to just feel odd over some of the bodyguards.

    Having been present when her father had picked up those man to work for them a decade or so ago, Willow knew most of them by mere looks and could easily remember their names.

    Yet some of the guards just looked new and too young to be among those her father had picked years ago.

    Her intuition was honed by experience from Atlas Academy and Beacon Academy, her senses sharp enough to understand that something was incredibly wrong about the situation.

    There was no interest in giving out their element of surprise and, given the fact that she had left her weapon back home…

    This wasn’t a good situation, truly not the best possible.

    Gritting her teeth behind her lips, her eyes fixed on her father, Nicholas still unaware of the problematic issue at hand and that meant that he wouldn’t be able to help if the escalation came to happen.

    It was an uneasy peace that followed the next fifteen minutes and then-

    “For the White Fang!” One of the impostors yelled as he deployed an electric staff, but instead of attacking the woman and the toddler, the assaulting group rushed towards… her father and her daughters.

    A shriek formed in her throat, but the utter shock prevented her from releasing it. It’s been just too long since she had last took part to some serious action and… it was as horrible as she remembered it to be.

    But differently from back to her prime self, Willow was just too rusty to keep up with the sudden development.

    Time seemed to slow down as the attackers were close to reach the unaware old man, the Schnee patriarch turning around barely in time to see the Anti-Aura blade approaching his neck and-

    Schlink!

    Blood was spilled, red liquid falling to the ground, but no head was rolling off her father’s body.

    Nicholas Schnee looked shocked, his reactivity allowing him to properly dodge in time the strike just as it was deflected by a now bleeding knuckle that had uppercut the sword away.

    The owner of the now-damaged hand was sporting a major flinch on his face, the pain surely being considerable enough to halt many normal individuals but-

    Crack!

    This gentleman in particular seemed to not be like many others. His undamaged fist slammed squarely on the shocked assailant’s face, shattering his sunglasses and his jaws by the sound of it.

    Crumpling on the floor, the attacker was the first of many to be targeted by the new arrivals.

    Two of them were engaged by a… Feline Faunus at first sight, the ears were difficult to properly describe with the way the woman moved, a tanned blur that savagely attacked the impostors with a whip-like weapon.

    Three soldiers arrived too and started to target the other lone aggressors while making sure to not hit any of the real bodyguards.

    The whole engagement lasted about five minutes, the fighting terrorizing her children as Whitley started to cry in his crib at the loud noises while Winter and Weiss kept close to their grandfather as the conflict persisted while the elder went to check at the groaning young man that had intervened and saved his life.

    The brunet was half-crouched, now the pain perfectly visible from her perspective as Willow had a clear path to the specific wound.

    Blood was still spilling and some of the knuckled had been halved, sparing just the bones from the horrible strike much to the stranger’s dumb luck.

    It was in that moment that the mother saw the Faunus rush towards the two men, her eyes narrowed on the wounded one and she had that familiar worried-angry kind of look only women were mostly aware of how to use it so well.

    What followed next could only be described as the perfect comedy… ignoring the previous exchange of attacks between aggressors and guards.

    A slap echoed through the area as the Tiger Faunus hand slammed strongly on the young man’s exposed face drawing a surprise yelp while also getting him to focus on her.

    “What was that?!” She shrieked angrily. “‘I have a plan’? Did you seriously thought even for a moment that the blade could have done much worse by punching its edged side?!

    The human blinked. “I’m sorr-”

    Another slap, this time less powerful than the first one but the effect was just as similar as the previous one.

    “Don’t apologize for me, John. That was dumb, stupid and-” The Faunus stopped, her glare persisting for a little while more before she glanced with a furious look at the wound. “We need to see that wound checked by some medic.”

    “S-Sienna, it’s not that ba-” Before John could finish, Sienna’s hands went underneath his armpit and… she lifted him off the ground.

    “That is not negotiable.” The demand was clear and the young man seemed shocked by the development itself as much as the others at the park were.

    “Ugh- Am I just a little to he-” The human shut down quiet as the woman glared at him with an intense glare.

    “Your privilege to talk has been rescinded until you are looked up by some doctor,” She turned at the three soldiers, the men looking fairly surprised by the outburst but hardly displaying any of the inner shock within themselves. “We need to return back to the embassy- he is bleeding profusely-”

    They nodded and, without giving a chance for the others to react, the group that had helped them to survive that assassination attempt.

    There was silence at first as they disappeared from sight, the surreal scene leaving everyone confused, quiet and incredibly confused. Did Willow mention confused?

    But the silence was then broken by the snort and hack coming from Nicholas Schnee, the man looking fairly elated despite the recent horrible ordeal and close-up encounter with death itself.

    “To think that someone like him would be more brazen than expected!” He replied loudly, ignoring the eyes on him. “Now I’m sure of it, Jacques’ days are numbered now that this youngster is going against him.”

    The proclamation didn’t give any familiar hint to whatever had just happened, yet the mentioning of her husband and the fact that this young man, this foolish individual that had punched a blade without Aura, was someone that was meant to be part of what would end her marriage-

    Her eyes widened, her mind flashing in realization as the name used to depict that pained face now matched with the full identity of this little vigilante.

    Willow couldn’t believe but, now she could see why her husband was going to have serious trouble with John Bukharin and why this individual looked so much interesting like her father had told her.

    The blunt but unexpected reaction, it was effective but put on his body a little handicap in the form of a painful gash that almost hindered any further action.

    It was difficult to predict, incredibly unorthodox in his ways and… the woman couldn’t help but want to know more about this mysterious player in this final chessboard for her hopes away from this unhappy marriage.

    Minutes passed but the police and some more soldiers arrived to arrest and remove the assassins off the park’s ground, the family given the opportunity to retreat back to their mansion.

    But while they were on their back home, Willow continued to think about this new element in the game and, for some reason, she felt taken back to the wacky days spent at Beacon.

    It was just like… back in that school.

    -----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d---

    AN

    It’s been far too long since the MC got hurt. Here is the blood, here is the glory!

    Also yes, the episode could be a possible theory behind the lack of Nicholas Schnee as within the manor and why Weiss said that the White Fang had taken ‘some of her family members’ away from her.

    Little Notice: Punching the edged-side of a sword isn’t fun, if you aren’t made of Adamantium, your body isn’t resilient to most metal or you are not from Krypton, then I can assure you that it will end up being a painful experience.
     
  14. Threadmarks: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish. ” – Euripides, The Bacchae

    Chapter 16: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall (3)

    ~John’s POV~

    I was doing my best to not give a look at Sienna as I continued to lay in that lone bed of that infirmary bay.

    Being rushed to the doctor quite quickly by the panicked group, the medic had to deal with double the worry as usual because of the importance my well-being had compared to other patients he could have treated and because of the furious look that the Tiger Faunus was making no effort to hide to anyone looking at the scene.

    The woman literally barged inside the large room, deaf to the guards requesting a permit before letting her inside as she slammed her whole body onto the door, almost tearing it apart with her impressive strength.

    One would say that with a wounded individual should be cared with utmost attention, but the concern created by the state my hand currently was ended up bringing quite the fiery reaction out of her and I had my little ‘fun ride’ before being set in that comfy white bed.

    The wound itself wasn’t truly that terrible at first analysis; the blade had just missed the bones and the cartilage, just leaving some bloody mess on my injured knuckles that would heal in a few days from now.

    Nothing that would leave me with permanent damage or limited functions with the hand, just reducing my capacity to write from that one in particular for some time.

    Which was a good thing since that wasn’t even my good hand as I had used my lefty.

    Something that you shouldn’t genuinely be proud of. That was a good way to lose an entire hand, luck just decided to spare you and-

    I avoided some nasty situation from happening. Did my intervention avoid Nicholas’ death?

    Considering that he was going to get decapitated, just like it had happened in the original timeline, I reckon that yes, you did avoid having Nicholas Schnee dying from that assassination attempt.

    So that’s what-

    You are ignoring the issue here! That weapon was made with Anti-Aura alloy, you were lucky that your fist moved careful enough to not get too much injured from that confrontation.

    I don’t want to jab at you about it, but you are making it sound like avoiding this injury mattered more than saving a life-

    Considering that I would want to keep things the same as the previous timeline, at least until the best opportunity comes around? Yes, I am furious! You almost created a handicap to yourself when we already have some major issue in the form of a Queen of Grimm trying to kill me.

    Oh? And let me ask, would it have been better to wait for Jacques to rise to power, banter some deal and then leave the Schnee family like-

    Yes. Yes, it would have made things easier. Considering that we have a massive advantage over Salem and you are wasting all of it… mingling around, it’s just-

    Infuriating?

    Confusing and it brings more unknown elements to the past events. With Nicholas surviving, Gods know how much things will change-

    Isn’t Nicholas a former Huntsman or something like-

    He was a miner, his father was a Huntsman and taught him the basics to survive against Grimm. Why do you want to know that?

    Well, now that Nicholas is spared, he would keep hold of the SDC-

    And render the chances of having them as allies nigh-impossible. With Nicholas in power, Winter will not join the military and Weiss wouldn’t have any reason to go to Beacon.

    You know what? I think you are… wrong.

    Beg your pardon?

    Willow went to Beacon and surely got a positive experience from it, I think she would be elated to have one of her daughters or her son, maybe even all together, to follow her footsteps, possibly to get them to see the world out of Atlas without having to deal with the political war happening in this kingdom.

    This isn’t a sure thing-

    But it leaves me with a better chance of getting this to happen if I play my cards well. I know that she would certainly keep an eye for any ‘inspiration’ over where to send her children and… if I send mine to Beacon-

    She would give it a greater thought than normal, that is easy to see, but the doubt of Weiss being sent or not to Beacon-

    Is worth the risk. But I have to ask you something, did you even consider that I had taken into account everything while I was in the middle of acting upon the scene?

    I did listen to your ‘incensed’ thoughts by the time you first felt the pain and how you had to move quickly but-

    When I decided to take that wound, I didn’t certainly do it out of foolish bravery. Rather, I was the first to notice what was going on and the closest to intervene on the matter as I knew well enough that while Sienna might be fast, she hadn’t noticed quick enough the situation.

    And you considered yourself as an equal chance to deal with the confrontation? You, someone that doesn’t have Aura.

    I ran because I saw a win-win situation, one where Nicholas Schnee would survive and avoid the radicalization of the White Fang with his more lenient work policies, one where the Schnee family wouldn’t have fractured and led to some apathetic development and one where I wouldn’t have to deal myself with Jacques.

    You still are going to deal with him, especially with the soon-to-be reunion.

    Do you think Ironwood asked for-

    My advice? It’s probable, maybe he did ask out of certainty as you are indeed a new element at the table, someone that is terribly unpredictable as little known to the world.

    Before I could say more, my trail of thoughts was interrupted as soon as I started to hear a noise coming by the nearby window.

    It was the distinct sound that would be heard when… a bird is pecking at some glass.

    I turned my eyes at the window, my orbs widening in surprise as I saw a certain raven with red eyes pecking insistingly at the transparent surface.

    Oh no.

    It would seem like you are going to deal with Ms. Branwen. Good luck with that.

    The sudden activity was caught by Sienna herself, the Faunus having her eyes fixed at the bird, Raven stopping with her endeavor to return the glance.

    Moments of uneasiness and silent prayers went by as I hoped for the young woman to not open that blasted-

    “Cra!”

    Dammit!

    The raven flied inside, perching at the metallic end of the bed to give me a proper glare before it jumped and turned back to the former Huntress, Raven Branwen glancing me with a furious stare as I tried my best to not flinch at her appearance.

    “You rushed unarmed against a group of assassins.” She wasn’t asking, the dark-haired woman was stating calmly and determinedly. “You, a civilian, decided to risk your life without any sureness over your success. Are you stupid?” The bandit leader asked sternly, my nervousness finally branching out onto my face.

    “Technically, it worked,” I started to reply, trying my best to ignore the two women’s combined staring. “And you know what they say about stupid plans that are actually successful-”

    “That the one creating them is still stupid,” Sienna interjected flatly, her arms crossing underneath her chest. “You don’t have much of a leverage to make up with this situation.”

    “I mean-”

    “Didn’t you say that you care for your brats?” Raven interrupted with a scowl, the painful jab striking true through my feeble defense. “I wonder how that girl, Nora, would have reacted to hear how foolishly her father would have died-”

    I felt furious about that unforgivable attempt to guilt-trip me, my anger spurred almost instantly by that comment.

    “You don’t have the rights to even bring this up, Raven,” I retorted with a dark frown, the woman blinking in surprise at my poisonous tone.

    “John-” Sienna tried to jump in but I was not in the mood for conversations.

    “Do you both seriously think that I didn’t consider the implication, the height of this little wage I had to take just so little ago?” I asked with an irritated tone, my bandages tightening a little as my wounded hand throbbed with the other in relative anger. “That I hadn’t thought about what kind of worst scenario I would have to deal with, how things could have gone wrong?”

    The Tiger Faunus averted her eyes in shock at that verbal retaliation, causing me to blink and move my sight elsewhere.

    I turned my attention at Raven, the woman still surprised but barely fazed by my outburst as she continued to stare at me with some morbid curiosity. Of course the veteran Huntress would have been adept in perceiving

    “When I first noticed what was happening, I had to make the difficult decision,” I continued, my throat growing sorer by the moment. “Was I going in for some pompous and arrogant reasons? No. Was it some romantic heroism? Super-nope.”

    “Then why did you do that?” The Branwen asked with a sigh. “If it isn’t for anything selfishly selfless, what brought you to go and be the one interrupting the murder?”

    “Because it’s the good moral thing to do?” I mused loudly, causing both women to glance in surprise at my disappointed look.

    “It’s impressive how easy it is to ignore the possible death of someone, how easy one can pat their own shoulder and say ‘it was not my fault’ or that ‘it could have not gone differently’,” I said before catching a brief pause. “With Grimm, criminals, and other death-creating issues, Remnant has started to accept the idea that death isn’t ‘that bad’ and that intervening isn’t even as essential as it should be.”

    “Are you referring to the way the focus of our ire is about your endangerment compared to the safety of the people that were protected by your quick reaction?” Sienna asked softly, eyes widening a little. “About the fact that-”

    “While I appreciate the concern you both have for me and that you are willing to bring some ‘sense’ to my brain,” I stated with a nod. “I still have something else that reminds me of the risks I take when picking a decision instead of another.”

    I aimed my unharmed index up to my temple.

    “Your mind?” Raven guessed, blinking as she spotted me nodding. “So you think that-”

    “Every time, moment, second- There is always an instance where I have to come to see what kind of repercussions I could have caused, or I did cause, with what I’ve chosen to do with dilemmas.”

    “It’s unhealthy-” Sienna tried to jump back in the discussion.

    “It keeps my sanity from spiraling out of control because of the paranoia,” I interjected with a flat tone. “I know that not everything is dangerous to my existence, but I can’t certainly accept that I should just not consider every situation at hand. There are times when the situation might leave me unscathed, there are times when the injury is to be expected in the best case scenario.”

    “That’s still unhealthy,” The bandit leader stated resolutely. “You walk a fine thread that could certainly have you fall in the same abyss Ozpin is facing. One of fake omniscience that could really curtail your real morality.” She sighed, eyes closing for a moment. “You are a good man, John, but you are also that. A man, a mortal man with flawed ideas and intentions when it comes to some decisions with pressure.”

    ...What?

    At my confused look, the Tiger Faunus nodded. “You tend to make horrible decisions when you are under pressure, either the pressure is directed at you or it is the situation itself that leaves you with ‘no good choices’.”

    I blinked at the analysis and… I gave her a frown, ready to protest at that senseless judgment-

    Raven suddenly moved closer to the bed and then leaned her face forward, bringing it close to mine and… she did nothing else.

    There was no suggestion to anything perverted, so I could only stare in silent shock at that sudden action, her red eyes piercing instantly onto my own stare and forcing me to look away.

    “What are you going to do now?” The woman asked calmly, she was there and standing in that position, her pale face close to mine to an uncomfortable degree.

    But she was doing nothing about it and… what I’m supposed to do-

    You are panicking.

    U-Uh?

    I blinked and soon I realized what was just happening.

    The unexpected approach had left me speechless and thoughtless, just like Raven had just suggested and…

    “C-Can you please back away?” I asked the most cautious and polite way possible.

    The woman blinked just one last time before nodding, a tiny smirk forming on her face.

    “You aren’t someone that panic to the point of being unable to fully react, but you tend to forget how to be ‘smart’ when you are put in difficult predicaments,” Sienna commented for her. “That is something you tend to show a lot when we walk back home.”

    I-It’s not that bad-

    It is.

    “Still, I’m happy to know that the damage isn’t a lasting one,” Raven commented, slowly returning by the window. “Next time you end up in this kind of situations, don’t expect me to be as lenient as now.”

    Just as she finished saying this, I saw her opening a portal and frowned. “Already going?”

    She glanced back. “Taiyang and Summer are trying to cut Yang’s hair,” The woman explained with a tight tone, getting a quick flinch out of me as I could expect what kind of hell the two had unleashed in their home. “Qrow took Ruby for a walk by the local park so that she isn’t seeing the scene.”

    Sienna frowned at this but then smirked. “Well, I suppose she took from her mother.”

    “While I don’t like adjusting my hair, I would cut it from time to time as to avoid getting it to interfere with my fighting prowess,” The woman admitted without hesitation. “But my daughter is… a little more attached to her locks.”

    “Good luck,” I said with a sigh, getting a wave from Raven before she walked into the portal, the rift closing mere moments later and leaving us to…

    Realize that it was about time we had to go for that blasted reunion.

    To be fair, my sudden burst of irritation now wasn’t without reason as Sienna decided to keep me close as she pulled me around the corridors of the building, ignoring any little glare that would end up appearing to her sight.

    Yep, hurt and ignored here.

    --------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d--

    ~Sienna’s POV~

    The meeting room was quite formal-looking but massive, the themes being the same as most of the rooms here in the Atlesian military-owned building.

    A large gray-blue circular table with light-gray chairs all around it, several documentation and papers littering the surface of the furniture as they all started to take a seat with their respective sides.

    The unexpected element that Sienna had taken notice right as she pulled an annoyed John inside the room was… that there was a non-negligible number of guests for this specific session.

    Some were lawyers, some were economists while the rest was a mix of politicians and journalists preparing for the grand event to start.

    A little surprised, Sienna was quite slow to sit down her eyes scanning all over the room in barely-veiled surprised before finally ending with a clear sight over the ‘opposing’ part.

    While General Ironwood and some of other Army officers were sitting by their left side as to express neutrality over the case while representatives of the SDC and Jacques Schnee himself were sitting on the opposite side as theirs.

    Her eyes narrowed at the calm-looking leading figure in the organization, the man seemingly unwilling to spare even a look at the Faunus as he kept looking with a neutral look at John.

    Soon the noises domineering from the adjourning session ceased at the request of the guards spread all over the area and Ironwood himself decided to be the one to begin this commission.

    “Today we are here to discuss about the unique case of embezzlement reported by the leadership of Menagerie,” James announced with a formal and polite voice, turning his attention to Jacques and the other representatives. “The Schnee Dust Company has been accused of fraud and economic manipulation by the Bank of Menagerie.”

    The heir to the company snorted. “Rubbish,” He commented with a whisper while looking at his lawyer, the man looking incredibly nervous but extremely careful to not give up anymore info about his current state of mind.

    Her feline ears twitched in annoyance, already irritated by staying in the proximity of the dangerous businessman.

    It was instinctual, but also common sense as the man had more than once proved to be intelligent enough in using the Atlesian laws to reduce the rights of the Faunus workers, never once considering applying the same with the other human regulars.

    Actions that were condemned multiple time in the past and… nothing had gone through with it because of the traditionalist opposition to any investigation over the matter.

    Bribery and corruption played big roles too, but it was bigotry that truly won favors for Jacques.

    It was so unfair to think that someone like this man could have gotten this much power and political clout to aspire to this situation, enough to try and subvert a blatant violation of international rules.

    Yet he was here, looking completely collected and uncaring of the attention he was currently receiving, as if he knew that nothing wrong was going to happen to him and he knew about it.

    There was just some worry about this strange calm, her mind quick to remind her that the evidence brought by John would have been more than enough to strike the infuriating bastard down without much of a fuss.

    “Mr. Schnee, you are granted the chance of offering your defense at these accusations.”

    Jacques sighed as he was given the chance to speak first, Sienna continuing to eyeing the fool as his attention was still directed at the maimed young man sitting beside her.

    “The accusations forwarded by this weakly-formed entourage can hardly present a clear sight of what is happening over what has truly happened in the last few years, rather it proposes baseless guesses over superfluous data accumulated lazily and inconclusively,” He began explaining, picking up a copy of the graphs showing the ‘curious’ situation that had brought this situation to happen. “The documentation presented contains indeed some suspicious activities, but no proof whatsoever that might entail that those are caused by the SDC. In fact, the spikes presented here are from four distinct lines that are not connected one to another.”

    He slammed the paper on the table, glaring fiercely at the bored-looking John. “This is why I suspect, having solid proof myself that it is just a ploy from Menagerie to undermine Atlas’ stability with such a pretentious claim!”

    The journalists were the loudest about this sudden proclamation, the noise of collective tapping by their digital notepad drawing some attention… but nothing from John.

    The young man looked unimpressed, rather irritated by the boisterous intervention and, as Ironwood turned towards them, Sienna turned her full attention at the injured human.

    He glanced back, blinking and nodding as he slowly got up and spent a moment to glance impassively at the angry-looking Schnee.

    “While I would find this patriotic speech quite endearing if it hadn’t been build on big words that meant nothing, I think it would be more honest to admit that the consideration allowed by Mr. Schnee is not only partial but also born from terrible knowledge over the subject of simple economics.” The jab was visible and many looked surprised at the insult towards the businessman’s intelligence.

    “This is why I shall enlighten the people here with a more apt language, considering the numbers and the variables that I have to present and introduce for this case. It will all be simplified for the sake of avoiding any confusion or misunderstanding as not everyone here is much aware of some of the general terms of this topic,” He said, drawing a brief pause as he took the documents with the graphs listed on them. “The documentation in question, the one that Mr. Schnee used to vilify and put the entire accusation in jeopardy out of spite than logic, are actually deprived of some simple understanding of the Banking system in Menagerie.”

    Ironwood frowned at this. “I thought that Menagerie accepted the International Bank Act,” He commented loud enough to draw a calm look from John.

    “That is part of the case, Menagerie considered a special case by Article 324 and 410 of the International Bank Act as it isn’t recognized as an independent Kingdom, but rather a ‘sub-kingdom’ nation.” The young man quickly answered, letting no seconds go to waste. “Thus, as per regulations, several limitations are applied for the same of protect the local economy from the competitiveness existing in the four Kingdoms’ market and ensuing some rules over the working of the bank itself.”

    “And what kind of ‘limitations’ do you wish to point out to this commission, Mr. Bukharin?”

    Sienna was quiet, completely surprised by the vast use of complicated words flaunted by her supposed ‘aide’, someone that wasn’t supposed to be taking a major rule in the activity but…

    Maybe it was for the best, her nerves still tense towards the SDC and her reasoning a little biased over the matter, enough to bring some unpleasant reactions out of her.

    “The limitations in question are about the limits of the bank accounts and the interest rates promoted by the bank itself,” He replied carefully, bringing up to attention the files once again. “The Bank allows the creation of multiple accounts by paying a certain fee, increasing the interest rates for those that have multiple bank accounts.”

    Many journalists and politicians nodded in awe at the system while some of the economists were looking intrigued by the rules present in Menagerie, impressed by this little aspect of history that was easily ignored by many businessmen.

    “S-Still it doesn’t explain the crime itself and the c-connection to my client,” Jacques’ lawyer stated with a hint of nervousness. “The documents introduce some individual, yet it is easy t-that someone else could have just used the CCTS system to bypass those obsolete regulations.”

    John hummed. “Yes, online… well, that would be a good guess if the Bank truly accepted online transactions,” The human mused in faux innocence, bringing everyone to a quiet standstill just for some fleeting moments.

    “Mr. Bukharin, you are saying that…” Ironwood paused, checking with his team if there were other surprises that he should have been aware of. “The Bank of Menagerie doesn’t allow transactions with CCTS-connection?”

    “That would be correct, the system disavowed by Menagerie as per the international meeting held in Argus three decades ago because of the limited range of the CCTS-connection that reaches the island.”

    “So this mean that transactions have to happen in person or via trusted associate.”

    “That is indeed correct, General,” John agreed with a nod. “And that is where the accusations to the Schnee Dust Company are born from.”

    The young man then started to look through the documentation, fishing out two colored pictures taken by a security camera that were portraying a formal-dressed man entering/leaving from the Bank’s entrance.

    Jacques sat down with a surprised look, his legal support appearing a little paler than before at the explanation behind the seemingly innocuous evidence.

    “I assume that these photos had to seem ‘odd’ without the proper context, but now that it’s clear that the reasoning behind the presence of those, I should introduce this curious individual,” The injured speaker announced by bringing up another photo, this one showing the full face of this stoic-looking human. “This is Otto Sedan, prominent economic advisor to the SDC’s Board of Directors. This man is tasked to monthly deposit or retire money out of the four bank accounts established under his name.”

    “Wouldn’t that make him a thief? Maybe he stole money and-”

    “Not truly, General Ironwood,” John interjected with a serious tone. “While the eventuality of this shady individual being a thief had crossed the investigative group in Menagerie, we also confirmed that this wasn’t the case by checking on the documents regarding the non-negligible amount of money presented at the Bank. The reason dignified being that it was a ‘legitimate gift by the SDC’ to Sedan for the sake of… deposit it within the Bank accounts.”

    “And why would it be a problem if I decided to deposit some money away in Menagerie of all places?” Jacques jumped in with an exasperated tone. “More money would revitalize the bank and-”

    “It would actually be a problem considering you are depositing as a ‘single individual’ instead as a ‘company’,” John quipped quickly, interrupting the attempt to turn down the offensive. “Interest rates change immensely between the rule of the ‘Individual’ and the rule of the ‘Collective’, the latter receiving much less because they have access to special options in case of bankruptcy, of loans and other important issues that a company could be facing against. So yes, what is happening here with the legitimate documentations here confirmed by the International Economic Treaties is that Mr. Schnee has committed a massive fraud crime against Menagerie AND the Kingdom of Atlas.”

    People were now stirring at this angry statement, numerous politicians were now openly-glaring at Jacques, the businessman looking horrified by what was just happening in that escalation.

    John turned his attention to Ironwood and nodded. “This is the full and detailed explanation of accusations, I think I will end my turn here.”

    Before any of the SDC’s representatives could try to bring up some defense about the case, the lawyer sighed and nodded at the arbitrator.

    “We concede our time for this session and we request that the session for tomorrow is pushed a two hours later than planned,” The man glanced at his client with an annoyed look, causing the heir to look incredibly uncomfortable. “There is some evidence that I wish to study a little more about the case.”

    James nodded with a perplexed look. “It will be conceded, but I expect the presentation of any new proof two hours prior to the original date. This session is adjourned.”

    Noise resumed louder than before, numerous journalists trying to instantly break through the wall of guards separating them from the Menagerie Entourage.

    Sadly, Sienna was much faster as she helped John up and proceeded to rush out of the room while followed by their bodyguards, their destination… their room.

    While the Tiger Faunus tried to sponge up what had just transpired in that eventful day, the human decided to say something that caused her to almost trip.

    “Tomorrow is going to be your turn.”

    Her eyes widened, the tanned woman glancing at the tired-looking young man with a frown. “What?” She asked confusedly.

    “I managed to… remove their foundations. The lawyer can’t do much about it and I guess they will try to make some faux defense,” He explained calmly, drawing a yawn. “We have the spotlight and… tomorrow I want you to shred them with words,” He smiled mirthfully. “Not with your claws.”

    The Faunus snorted and shook her head. “And what do you think I should say?”

    The human pulled a half-shrug. “Whatever you can say that is offensive, polite and good publicity for Menagerie as a nation, I reckon.”

    Blinking at that strange advice, Sienna ended up spending the rest of the day genuinely trying to write down something that could work with that ugly mug that was Jacques Schnee, keeping her phrasing cautious but also entertaining to some.

    She then ended up presenting the content to the tired John, the young man close to fall asleep in the small couch in their room and he snorted…

    Before starting to giggle at certain ‘not-so-polite’ words that may or may not have passed through her ‘impartial’ filter.

    Of course, some corrections would ensue for victory’s sake.

    -----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d----------

    AN

    First round against Jacques, I reckon he was given a sudden and unforgiving kick below the belt.

    Little economics, nothing too difficult and I had a ‘blast’ trying to find an appropriate quote for this chapter.
     
  15. Diver

    Diver Versed in the lewd.

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    Poor old Jacques is about to get a reaming I reckon. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
     
    Relyt33 and Drake D Zero like this.
  16. Threadmarks: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    To save a life is a real and beautiful thing. To make a home for the homeless, yes, it is a thing that must be good; whatever the world may say, it cannot be wrong.” – Vincent Van Gogh


    Chapter 17: Where the sky is blue and so is the Fall(4)


    ~Sienna’s POV~


    The plan was simple… or at least that was what her mind was constantly repeating to her.


    An attempt to keep her worries away from her composure, at least enough to give her the edge to not fall in any of the various escalations that her inner nervousness and anger were so eagerly yanking her towards.


    Not that Sienna was truly ‘afraid’ of giving a proper end to this defeat for Jacques Schnee, actually she was eager to see the closure of this feeble defense from the businessman and bring a new milestone to their cause.





    It was odd, the Tiger Faunus mused softly as she ventured the halls of the building, preparing for the grand finale of this little theatrical mess, and her hands were carefully handling the two pages filled with strong but careful words that she will have to make use of.


    Either repeating those in the proper cases unraveling with this last push to get this commission to pass some serious edicts or even invent in a creative but mindful way some answers to any eventual questions asked by the lawyer.


    John had been quite certain that this final session was going to offer just a little cessation of the current situation, now that they had won before ‘judges, jury and executioners’, it was time to bring a passionate personality to exalt this victory.


    Something that the human couldn’t quite yet express for two specific but legitimate reasons: Not only had he joined the White Fang quite recently and his position was still uncertain (but not for too long if the situation conclude as happily as predicted), but he was a human and, in the eyes of Atlas’ people, still someone that couldn’t certainly praise too much the animals.


    Some were still skeptical over his commitment, but it would be even worse if he was the only one that had to speak for the occasion as it would undermine terribly the Fang/Menagerie’s current standing.


    As the official representative for this special event, Sienna knew that there was no way out from avoiding verbal confrontations now more than even as things were reaching its formal sealing.


    Was she ready for this? She felt nervous, there was no point to lie over something that was distinctly weighting over her thoughts.


    But it wasn’t the kind of nervousness about messing things with what she had, but rather the Faunus knew that her emotions didn’t make her the best of diplomats.


    The young woman could hold well against simple officers and ‘no-name’ industrialists, but to bare a calm mind in front of Jacques Schnee?


    The only reason she had been able to keep up an exemplar attitude before the man the day before was because her whole attention had been taken by the cautious words used by John to unbalance his ‘opponent’.


    With her mind tuning back to the human that was currently and ‘willingly’ kept back to the medical bay of the building for some more check-ups, her mind couldn’t help but bring up the very annoying but also confusing bit of the night before.


    Sienna didn’t get much sleep that day. Even trying to tire herself out by merely closing her eyes and think over the complex mess she would have to deal with didn’t seem to bring any of the hoped results.


    The room was quiet, the only noises coming from the lone human sleeping softly on the little couch of the room.


    His bandaged arm was still lying on his chest while the young man continued to lie on that piece of furniture.


    The positioning was awkward considering that part of his legs stood out from the length of the couch, his socked feet waving mid-air as he continued to… sleep.


    It was difficult to discern if he was dreaming or not, but the lack of discomfort on his face was… actually very comforting for her.


    The simple expression of resting, his eyes closed and his lips barely open to let out some little snoring while he continued with his eased slumber.


    The young woman could remember having her eyes fixed at that calm expression, the room was barely-lit and dim, but being a Faunus her sight allowed to give proper looks in the dark.


    She blinked, then again and…


    Sienna blinked right early in the morning as John folded back the little white sheet he had been given while asleep.


    It was morning alright, the light coming from the half-closed windows shining onto the lower section of the bed.


    The rest of that preparation phase proceeded smoothly, the Tiger Faunus hiding from the blissfully-unaware human about her confusing take on sleep.


    It had been so sudden and… so pleasantly uneventful.


    While she couldn’t get any dreams from that little rest, at least she didn’t have to face any of her usual nightmares.


    An energizing dreamless slumber was actually something important as she then considered the burdened day that awaited her.


    Little worries, but an incredible amount of concern about any unexpected developments.


    This was the first time she had to deal with something that required so much thinking and planning, well-beyond the classic tasks she had been facing with the White Fang.


    Sure, helping with administrative issues had given her some knowledge over what had brought the entire world’s angry hammer down on Atlas, everybody had to get quite irritated when someone starts to ‘cheat’ around the basic rules and laws of economics, but this conclusive part was sure going to bring to her some little chances to bring forwards some of the message of her group.


    John had been quick to shot down a full speech about the cause, pointing out that this wasn’t a rally and she had to impress some stubborn crowd instead of a downtrodden group of citizens.


    Those were the kind of people that mostly didn’t have any issues with the Faunus themselves, but they were mostly neutral to the problems about the mistreatment and the ‘missing rights’ for the Faunus workers.


    It was irking that some people preferred ‘ignorance’ to doing the right thing and… it wasn’t her duty to do so.


    She was here to represent an issue, first as a diplomat of Menagerie and then, if the opportunity truly allows her, to bring up something about the White Fang.


    There wasn’t much to speak about even if she wanted, Ghira had been quite clear in stating that this was a national-based visit and that any voicing of their cause would only alienate the proper course of justice.


    Infuriating, there was no end for her bubbling anger, but the strong emotion was already quarantined in the deepest corner of her mind.


    She sighed as she finally as the large room was once more opened and… the same disposition was there to look at.


    Journalists and rich people to one of the corners, Jacques and his little group to one of the table’s side with the military representatives led by James Ironwood sitting by the edge of the table.


    Sienna didn’t hesitate to carefully take a seat, instantly feeling quite anxious with the lack of someone else beside her.


    By deciding to leave John to some proper check-up, she was going to stand alone against Jacques.


    Which in theory wasn’t truly a horrifying scenario as she could easily dismantle the smug fool, yet her grasp over her emotions would surely… falter without someone to keep a look on her.


    As the session was adjourned and silence descended by the spectators’ section, General Ironwood formally reintroduced the entirety of the room to the current state of things and… the mustached moron looked fairly annoyed by the retelling of yesterday’s happening.


    His lawyer looked just a little fazed by the words, his attention directed at the lone paper sitting right by the section of the table in front of him.


    The rest of the group looked even more disappointed by how things had turned out to be, Jacques looking even more annoyed by the way some had even ‘missed’ the appointment by the gloomy standing they were in.


    The SDC had never looked this frail before the people, or at least the leadership never did under Nicholas Schnee’s care.


    The old man had recovered from the ordeal from few hours ago and had been quick to dismiss any worrying injuries on himself or any other members of his family, but he was quite elated to divulge the identity of those that had intervened against the assassination attempt.


    Tabloids mentioning relentlessly about the full development of the day before, between the attack on the Schnee family by some ‘fraud White Fang members’ (of which Jacques was particularly quiet about to the journalists asking about the infiltration in his family’s bodyguards) and the utter destruction of that superfluous attempt to counter the accusation directed at the man.


    She was calm, or at least calmer than before when the lawyer was given the means to speak first and he seemed quite uneasy with his tone.


    “We would like to ask for a fair settlement for the case brought up to this commission,” The man spoke with a tense tone. “My client, Jacques Schnee, is willing to pay as a compensation for the damage given to the local bank of Menagerie as sum equal to 3 millions Liens.”


    Some people gasped at the tall number, while a little group of investors merely snorted at such proposal and Sienna was well-aware as of why.


    But before she could have said anything over it, Ironwood decided to jump at the end of such sentence.


    “And by fair settlement, you wish to repay only a fourth of the damage inflicted to the bank, Mr. Schnee?” The General asked with a serious voice, eyes narrowed on the lawyers as the man merely gulped nervously at the development.


    “W-While my client would be more than happy to dispense a rightful amount, t-there is actually a major rule that can’t allow any higher amount than this.”


    Sienna blinked in surprise at the unexpected reply, the Tiger Faunus turning at the military officer leading the commission.


    Sadly, it was Jacques to speak.


    “By referring to yesterday’s mentioning of the International Bank Act, specifically articles 571 and 573, ‘a private company or an organization not tied to any of the kingdoms cannot and shan’t allow the transaction of a sum superior to 3 million Liens to the treasury of a single nation in any circumstance’,” The mustached man explained with a somewhat less determined tone. “Despite Menagerie being considered a ‘Sub-Kingdom’, it still does count as a ‘Nation’ and thus is applied to the rule.”


    ...WHAT?!


    That- That bastard-!


    Anger bubbling even more than before, it took the young woman some moments of silence to avoid letting a snarl out for the world to see.


    This little trick seemed to have come out of nowhere, the incredible reduction of the compensation not only would barely dent at the company’s overall capacity to try again… but it also turned this victory in a shallow one.


    Just like with the Faunus Rights Revolution’s one.


    Endless thoughts filtered within her mind as she pondered over this unexpected development, her eyes settling on the notes left by the human still by the medic bay and… she blinked.


    There was some tension in the entire room, with Ironwood checking properly on the rules admitted by the leader of the SDC and… she blinked again, this time her whole body going briefly still as a minor realization struck.


    John had been incredibly confident of success, but he had never mentioned about how things were supposedly going to end for that situation.


    It was a win, there was no denying of it, but this little obstacle had to have been seen by the young man before it all came out.


    Then Sienna thought back at the strange drive from John to have her mention the cause of Faunus, never being much of a ‘fanatic’ with his determination over the Fang’s duty and yet he had seemed fairly pushy over the matter.


    The little web continued to appear in a detailed and complex display of plans and contingencies, ending right to the little issue presented there.


    And the solution for this specific problem was-


    “Miss Khan, do you accept this settlement or do you wish to bring a counter-offer?”


    Eyes going wide at being yanked back to reality, the Tiger Faunus blinked one last time before… sighing.


    “We refuse this miser compensation, General Ironwood-” The tanned woman replied with a cautious tone, already noticing a snort from Jacques. “But I wish to present a counter-offer that best represents the term ‘fair’.”


    The Atlesian officer nodded quietly. “Please do explain your proposal.”


    “Menagerie shall not request any direct compensation from the Schnee Dust Company,” Sienna began, bringing out some surprised looks from the spectators, and a small smile was now in full display on her face. “But we wish for a proper retribution for those that were truly hurt by this heinous crime.”


    She blinked, her smile widening as she prepared to drop the final words. “The people of Atlas.”





    Everyone looked confused at this new development, most of the spectators looking confused if not curious about what the young woman was talking about.


    “Care to explain what you are referring to, Miss Khan?” Ironwood questioned, looking particularly surprised by the choice of words.


    “The Schnee Dust Company is an organization that publicize its influence and correct attitude towards its workers, the proper rights applied to the various people joining within the group to make it one of the most important and well-known brand in the world,” Sienna started to explain with a sigh. “They have legal obligations to make sure they are operating within the regulations, which is not the case as seen in this commission, and all workers are guaranteed to a safe and stable environment during their jobs and… sadly, this is not the case too.”


    There was just a little pause, something to give her some precious time to assemble something to offer without losing the currently-gained momentum.


    “Many are surely thinking I’m just referring to the Faunus living here in Atlas and, while my pledge to my people is moral-bound, I find myself saying that they aren’t the only victims of this predicament,” She said with a serious and saddened voice. “In fact, despite the large presence of complaints about the current work conditions for Faunus, only a few journalists have also mentioned the horrible instances of abuse towards human workers.”


    The crowd exploded in gasps and loud words as people were incensed by this situation, some of those reporters mentioned were among the group and… one of them stood out by lifting his hand up.


    “General Ironwood, I would like to speak, sir,” The man waved his hand at the table. “What Miss Khan just said is true.”


    The leading figure of the military entourage blinked at that. “Considering the situation and the lack of much proof of Miss Khan’s statement, I will allow just a witness to confirm the news.” The man nodded and gestured the reporter to move closer, the guards making way as the blond-haired man sighed as he walked by the table and took the seat previously used by John the day before.


    “Please introduce yourself with name, last name, affiliations and relation to the case,” Ironwood continued, following the standard procedure used even yesterday.


    “My name is Forest Parakeet and I work for the Daily Mantle News as a contracted reporter,” The newly-introduced ‘Forest’ muttered quietly if not disgruntled somehow. “And my relation to the case is a confirmed article I’ve written three months ago about a peculiar case of bribery happening by one of the SDC-owned factories sited by the outskirts of Atlas.”


    The General frowned. “Can you please specify which one in particular?”


    Not a terrible request considering the non-negligible number of factories sprawling by the edges of the Kingdom’s capital.


    “Uh… I reckon it was Factory 642C, it was reviewed by the military just a month before I personally investigated over the growing complaints of lacking guarantees over some of the malfunctioning devices there, some people having suffered wounds during work,” The journalist replied with a blunt but detailed summary of his work.


    “You said it was reviewed by the army,” Ironwood frowned at the news. “Can you give some more about this part of the story?”


    The blond sighed but nodded. “It was Lieutenant Braddock, tall and lanky guy that was dismissed last month for some crazy stuff.”


    James sighed tiredly, trying to ignore the informal tone.


    “Lieutenant Jacob Braddock was discharged after failing to defend against accusations of bribery and embezzlement,” He explained curtly, displeased by the fact he had to bring up such a dishonorable discovery. “The army has yet to check on his last work, but we will make sure that this particular review and others that any of your colleagues are willing to forward will be checked thoroughly before the end of the month.”


    Stern, confident and incredibly efficient. The response barely got a reaction from the reporter as the blond merely shrugged and nodded at the promise.


    “Now that this is confirmed,” Ironwood stated with a calmer tone, “Let us return to the main topic. What kind of compensation do you have in mind, Miss Khan?”


    Sienna blinked, her smile rising up again but this time she was careful enough to not spoil the fun too quickly.


    “We have two conditions in particular,” The Tiger Faunus said with a resolute voice. “First, we wish for the SDC to repay three fourths of the damage by bringing proper rights and regulations to the Faunus workers in its facilities,” A brief pause, enough to gauge a little disappointment from the crowd but… here’s the sweet treat. “And to repay two fourths of the damage to regulate properly the current rights of human workers in its facilities.”


    The effect was immediate. From the slight annoyance at bringing up Faunus as the initially-sole winners of the cause, a resounding roar of praise emerged by the spectators’ section.


    Many journalists were happy of the good development, while businessmen were rejoicing at the fact the SDC was meant to receive a major blow to its current economic state.


    Jacques was bursting in rage at such offer while his lawyer paled but seemed uncertain over the countering of such proposal.


    “That’s preposterous-” The man tried to oppose, but… Sienna wasn’t done yet.


    “The second condition is that… Jacques Schnee publicly and formally apologize before the citizens of Menagerie and Atlas for the terrible crime perpetrated by his leadership of the organization.”


    “And the Atlesian Military shall make sure both conditions are respected if the offer is accepted,” The General nodded, a tiny ghost of a smile showing yet he kept looking serious even then. “Still, I wish to remind Mr. Schnee and his lawyer that this offer is indeed fair as it works to benefit the people of Atlas as a whole.”


    The crowd didn’t shy away from agreeing to such comment and Jacques turned even redder at how his little plan had failed too.


    He was so close to growl like an ‘animal’, but he stopped to furiously whisper at the lawyer, the poor man sighing tiredly as he stood up and nodded.


    “We will accept the offer, General Ironwood… and Miss Khan.”


    The reaction from the spectators was just as explosive as it had been the day before as they had witnessed a major victory ‘against a fraud and a criminal.’


    Sienna didn’t bother minding around and she was glad that the reporter beside her didn’t decide to ask her any questions, Forest merely shrugged before leaving to reach his colleagues as the conclusion to this case was announced.


    With this done, her leave was quick and quiet as her mind was set on finding a certain individual.


    Someone that could- no, should have told her that there had been a little ambush planned instead of letting her receive a minor heart attack!


    With the two guards still following her behind as the woman entered the medical bay, they all stopped at the sight of an empty bed.


    There were no doctors there, no nurses… and no John.


    Yet there was a clue sitting by the messy bed left behind, a piece of paper with something written on it.


    Doing some good deed, will be back by dinner~





    THAT UTTER SON OF A-


    -------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-d---------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d--------------


    ~John’s POV~


    I know, I know.


    It sounds dumb for me to be wandering around without giving some proper message to a lovely and understanding Tiger Faunus, but the reason that drove me to follow this little red-haired Bull Faunus leading me right where his home was, a certain disgraced doctor following us both with a sigh or two along the way.





    Okay, some context might be needed before we proceed from this point but I can already say that there is some logical explanation behind the insane mess I just jumbled in.


    When Sienna had left me to suffer once again the horrible experience that is lying on a hospital’s bed to get some doctor to check on my wound, I had thought that my time here at Atlas would have been quite… slow and uneventful.


    Safe but also boring and incredibly limiting considering the vast amount of things I could do with this opportunity.


    Still, despite my lack of means of going around the place without a proper reason, I found myself waiting for… something to happen.


    After an hour of silence spent there, I expected the next ‘exciting’ event would have been Sienna returning with a victorious if somewhat confusing result.


    I wasn’t truly certain of what Jacques was going to try before the commission with all the cards stacked against him, but considering the shrewd businessman he is, I didn’t think he would have settled down with little resistance.


    Imagine my surprise when finally my ‘own’ doctor finally arrived to the room, huffing with a tired posture while nodding at the guards waiting by the entrance.


    Mustache wriggling and a certain scowl in display, I was completely caught off-guard when the incredibly familiar, younger but still-the-same man decided to introduce himself.


    “My name is Arthur Watts, Mr. Bukharin, and I’ve been assigned to… assist you with your injury.” He said with a quiet tone, quite spent considering the kind of character I was more accustomed too.


    Here is Watts, the hacker that turned the robotic fleet of Atlas against its owners during the Fall of Beacon and probably a reincarnation of James Moriarty.


    The man was shunned by Atlesian society after some misconduct that wasn’t much detailed about, so much was shady about this man and…


    He was a depressed fellow. It didn’t take me that much to see how self-hating he felt about himself, the man going to a slug-pace as he went through the regular procedure of the check-up.


    Ignoring Ozpin’s loud and possibly - and genuinely – legitimate claims over the man as a threat to us, since he was part of Salem’s Inner Circle in the original timeline, I decided to tempt my current predicament by seeing if I was in danger or not.


    After all, it was never mentioned when Watts joined Salem and from his current attitude I could only deduce he had yet to be recruited.


    Which brought to be a juicy but needy issue that could easily turn in the best opportunity to gain a resourceful ally in the long run.


    I was no Dio Brando, but I was still capable of bringing a connection out of little with this disheartened man.


    Someone that was betrayed by his colleague for money, horribly framed with fake accusations and robbed of the chance of becoming the most brilliant man in the kingdom.


    The story which I partly expected from someone like him, but to hear him give emotion instead of keeping a formal and careful behavior around a ‘complete stranger’ was enough to offer me even more insight over his nature.


    A misunderstood man with a growing disdain over society as a whole, his husk of a life drained of any meaningful note to explore...


    ...Why do I feel the need to call Todd Phillips?


    Just as expected, after another hour of careful probing and intervening in the right moments seemed to get him to open up and warm up to some pleasant conversation.


    His pace picked up a little more and soon we were discussing about some philosophical questions over life, death and the meaning of everything.


    I was a realism-believing thinker, a theoriser and a man born with science and religion in a somewhat harmonious blend so that whole topic became quite easy to endure for some time.


    Arthur was quite eager in inquiring left and right, still politely and mindful of the situation we were in, and would be entertained in finding any matching thoughts over some of his own ideas or even finding some newer but more logical solutions to metaphysical problems.


    Before the talk ended up taking the entire time I had there, our attention was quickly deprived by the sudden noises coming by the entrance as one of the guards was groaning while kneeling on the ground as his partner held up the arm owned by the one responsible for the flinch-inducing attack.


    It was a young boy, not as young as Ren but maybe a little older than he looked considering how tattered his clothes were and how bony he looked from my initial perspective.


    His hair were spiky but quite short, a mix of red with specks of dark-brown here and there, a little eyepatch over his right eye while his left one was a bright cerulean.


    I didn’t need to think further to know whom I was looking for in that very moment.


    Even as a child, Adam Taurus looked as vicious as he would end up becoming with how he was struggling so vehemently against the tight hold of the unharmed guard, yanking and yelling as he failed to accomplish freedom from it.


    But maybe I was being too hasty as children were generally like this… but why would he be there.


    I could understand the logic of Watts being there because he was also a medical doctor and that his brilliancy is something of a guarantee to a quick recovery for my wound but…


    Why was little Adam here of all places?


    I didn’t wait too long to ask Watts to see what was going on and to let the child in the room, the doctor quick to say that it wouldn’t be good to have someone unknown, even someone as young as the little Faunus, enter the room without a proper control.


    I sighed and pressed on, calling in the mythical ‘gut feeling’ that the kid had something important to say and, after sparing a silent stare about the matter while contemplating over what to do, Watts went to the guards and told them to let the boy inside.


    There were some minor protests but soon the boy was indeed allowed to get close to where I was.


    He looked nervous at the new development, but he didn’t shy away as he tensely give a quick bow towards me.


    “I-I’m Adam Taurus a-and- you are J-John Bukharin,” He stated, a half-introduction that left me with a quizzical look for just a few moments before I gave him a calm nod.


    “Hello Adam and yes… that is my name.”


    His visible eye seemed to lit before he seemed ready to cry.


    “Y-You cares for Faunus, right? You do, r-right?” His tone slumped into desperation there and he sniffed. “P-Please sir, I-I know I shouldn’t be there- a-and my mom is sick and- she is ill-”


    My eyes widened the more he spoke, the hyperventilating child getting me quite panicking myself as it seemed fairly urgent.


    Without hesitation, I interrupted him by bringing my good hand on top of his hair and gave him a pat. “You don’t need to feel guilty of anything, kid,” I muttered quietly. “Can you tell me what kind of illness?”


    He nodded, so innocently and so frailly. “S-She is coughing a lot and- she was coughing blood-”


    Gritting my teeth, I patted his head again and stood out from my bed.


    “What are you-” Watts tried to ask, but I sighed.


    “Kid’s mother seems to need a good doctor, Arthur, and I reckon you wish to do some good with your skills,” I said with a huff, taking Adam’s little hand on my own. “So why not now that you have the chance?”


    “I’m your doctor, John, and Miss Khan-”


    “Knows that I’m an adult and that emergencies are a must,” I interrupted again, then I turned to the child. “Adam, can you lead us where your mother is?”


    He blinked, surprise and shock filling this little kid.


    He wasn’t even ten, he was too short and… so desperate.


    He is going to become a butcher, to help him would-


    Give him a proper chance at life.


    I didn’t need Ozpin right now, especially with how things have turned recently and so… we departed from the medical bay with a hasty pace.


    The guards were skeptical, but since I still had more influence over them than a certain lovely and understanding Tiger Faunus, they were already escorting us out of the building, following the three of us as we were led by the child right by the outskirts of the city.


    Much to my shock, I discovered that Atlas did have a district that resembled to Mantle with its popular houses, yet surprisingly enough it was much worse than the city down below.


    Everything looked so rundown and decaying, the people there wearing some of the worse clothes… and they were all Faunus.


    It was a ghetto, the little gates around the area further cementing the idea that this was a cultural-limited section of the capital.


    I felt bile rising at the revelation, but I held back even after we were led inside one of those rotting buildings, Adam showing us to the little room that was… his home.


    It was small, so unfairly small.


    I blinked, nose clenching and eyes flinching as I perceived the strong smell of smoke emanating all around and… it was disgusting.


    Right by one of the corners was a little mattress with sheet, a young woman coughing with a blooded facemask with her eyes closed.


    She was half-awake and her long red hair with two distinct little horns protruding from the top of her head made it clear that it had to be the young boy’s mother.


    The child let go of my hold, rushing by her side as he quickly switched the stained facemask with a new, unblemished one.


    “I-I’m back, mom-” He said with a trembling but loud voice, enough to get the woman to slowly open her eyes and stare at the kid. “I-I brought help-”


    She blinked and stared at us. In a normal circumstance, someone in her state should have panicked at the presence of two strangers… but she hardly seemed to care at this point.


    I quickly moved by her side and took hold of her wrist, checking on her pulse while Watts started to rummage on his medical bag and soon he was by her side too.


    There was palpable tension and Adam looked at the scene with wide eyes and an afraid look, something I could notice only because I was sparing some glances at him as I was uncertain over what to do with this advanced case of pneumonia.


    I had some experience with treatment of Bronchitis after suffering twice of it some years ago, but Pneumonia was something well beyond that experience... and at this late stage I had little hope that Watts could succeed in stabilizing her conditions.


    Twenty intense minutes passed, the doctor’s mustache wriggling restlessly as the man did the best possible to make sure to help the woman but it was clear from the very beginning that there was no chance of saving her.


    This is why he kills, this is why he cannot be redeemed.


    I ignored him, but I flinched at the words used.


    This is unfair.


    Arthur backed away as the older Faunus started to slowly move her hands to her face, grasping the mask and pulling it down trembling.


    “A-Adam?”


    “M-Mom?!” He got closer to her once again, a little pained smile on her face.


    She is going to die.


    I… Can I do something with magic? Something that-


    Considering your limited knowledge and practice, I would advise to-


    Something like giving her more time! I know that I can’t heal this kind of illness, but-


    Follow my instructions, we can give her… enough time for treatment.


    I gulped nervously, the mother was in the middle of giving her last words to her child but I had one of my hands over her shoulders.


    She didn’t seem to notice, but Adam was glancing at what I was doing as I silently followed the former headmaster’s tasks.


    It was mostly happening from within and I was quite confused as to what to do with some of the passage.


    It was by the final step that I felt something happen.


    This wasn’t Jaune’s healing semblance, this wasn’t something negligible-


    I felt like my insides were getting yanked out, sudden and sharp pain shooting through my whole body as I felt my- my soul being forced to comply to such unnatural complexity of life.


    I was- I was breaking rules, important rules- I could feel guilt- shame and pain, pain, pain and-


    My mind lightened as the brief pain session stopped without notice, just like it had started.


    I blinked as I felt my entire body so… tired and unfocused.


    I blinked again, I saw Watts rushing back to me, I saw Adam exclaiming my name and… I saw the woman tense up in slight panic before she… sat up on her bed.


    A solid but soft thud preceded darkness, the last thing I heard being a disappointed sigh from Ozpin.





    ...


    [I wonder, what are you?]


    --------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d---------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d---------


    AN


    Conclusion to the first part in Atlas and in classing fainting style.


    Dante Alighieri would be so proud of me!


    Still, Adam is here and he is 9.


    Yep, little Adam and he is adorable and… yes, his mother do survive.


    Why I did that? I have plans. Plenty of plans and no I will not pair her to MC. Have some mercy on the guy, I’ve plans for romance but… not to Professor Arc’s kind of madness.


    Little shameless plug, I have a RWBY comedy story. What does it mean? Plot is reworked and lightened, pairings are… a thing? Maybe? And the main characters are… an easy-to-anger human and a silly Cat Faunus. Indeed, I have a Cat Problem! (It’s not SI/OC-I, the human is a new OC with fairy-talesque name.).
     
  17. Threadmarks: White Noise over the Past's Shadows (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Sometimes friends make mistakes. Grievous ones that cry out for us to stay and prove we are true friends.” – Beth Bernobich


    Chapter 18: White Noise over the Past’s Shadows (1)

    Corrections by: Ant0nius (FFN)

    ~John’s POV~


    My awakening was a peaceful and quiet one.


    I could hear birds chirping eagerly under the kind sunrays bathing them in light, the warm breeze tending over my tired body as I quietly started to look around at where I was.


    My first thought was that this wasn’t Atlas.


    There was no snow on the tree branches up above my head, no signs of ice, or even the dreadful and chilling temperature that should have gotten my body stiff and aching after sleeping without… my bandages.


    I glanced at my hands and realized that I was indeed missing the wounds that had been causing me quite the annoyances until now.


    Glancing up and around my proximity, I found myself blinking calmly as I was graced with a sense of peace as I continued to study the natural heaven.


    The mystical silence, adding to the pleasant loneliness the dense forest exuded, soothed me from going into a panic. My body slowly woke up as I started to better examine what I was looking at.


    The chances that I had been kidnapped and dropped somewhere were slim if not nonexistent.


    Considering the level of security in Atlas, even in the poor district where I had unceremoniously made a close encounter with the floor via pain-induced fainting, there were some guards wandering around, and I couldn’t see why dropping me here of all places would be a smart decision for a kidnapper.


    I certainly wasn’t in the Grimmlands, thus I hadn’t been scooped out by anyone working in Mami Salami’s group. There wasn't even a hint of the pool of corruptions created by Salem to generate Grimm, nor I could hear anything that could dignify the presence of some dangerous animal nearby.


    As there was no one else to socialize with, I tried mentally asking Ozpin for any answers to the many questions in my head.


    When nothing but uninterrupted silence answered me, I paused to ponder what this could be.


    Either it was another sign that things were far from fine, or perhaps this was the former Headmaster merely being a jerk by not responding to my questioning.


    ...No, he wouldn't try to do anything this cruel, despite how little he seemed to care about life after spending centuries of leading people to an assured death.


    It was at that point that I threw the maddest idea that I had in the handful of theories within my head.


    Could it be that this was my very own mindscape?


    I couldn’t exactly deny the possibility, nor I could confirm it without major clues… yet I had something where I could start from.


    Considering that I felt in top-shape compared to how I felt before being forced to unconsciousness and that I had no bandages/injuries like I was supposed to still have, the hypothesis that I had been indeed yanked deep in my psyche seemed to gain more and more foundation the more I thought about it.


    Still, as I stood up from the bed of grass and flowers, my eyes scanned around my surroundings once again, before proceeding to venture deeper into this lovely garden.


    My steps were slow in order to me to be mindful of making any unwanted sound. Despite initially feeling like I was the only one in this forest-like haven, a gut-feeling was now making me feel that that I wasn't alone out in this strange place.


    I was keeping a healthy closeness to some of the trees as to use some of those to shield myself from any eventual ambushes that I might found myself targeted by.


    I didn’t have anything to defend myself, no back up and… who knows, maybe this wasn’t actually a mindscape.


    Maybe this was much much worse than I wanted it to be.


    I sighed as I finally caught something burning in the distance. A mix of smell and distinct noise, the odor of something being consumed by some flames, the little smoke rising from one of the sections within the forest.


    It was a small light-gray smoke and-


    It had to be a controlled fire, someone had set a camp here.


    Tension rose as I continued with my search, hoping that this wasn’t a horrible situation just like I was expecting it to be, rightfully so after having ‘missed’ some brutal karmic retribution in the last few weeks.


    The injury at the hand? It was quite the limited problem compared to getting my head tattered by some Beowolf or my arm severed by a certain battle-lusting woman.


    I paused in my steps, my brain pondering the pros and cons of approaching the clear presence of some sentient being, my eyes sharpening as I decided, begrudgingly so, that I had to see who was there.


    Maybe it was some little camper, maybe this wasn’t something born from my brain and… maybe I just needed to take another nap. A few hours should be enough time to get the last bits of uneasiness off my back.


    Sadly, I couldn’t have just gone and taken some more rest, at least not until I had verified whom was lurking around those woods, if it was a friendly individual or something to worry about.


    The noise of fire increased the more I sneaked closer to the area in question, my intention being to move through the bushes as to avoid meeting up with any unpleasant being lingering in the area and… I was finally given the chance to glance at the glade where the bonfire was created.


    A pair of hands was close to the edges of the fire, the pale skin and the delicate fingers careful enough to not get too close and risk some burning.


    She was wearing a pair of brown bracers, my eyes moving up to notice the two dressed overlapping, the outer white one covering mostly the gray-colored one that had a green-blue crystal embed by the clavicle.


    I stared up right… into her face-


    ...Oh no.


    She blinked, slowly retracting her hands as her light-blue-eyed stare was now directed at me.


    The terribly-familiar woman was giving me a fascinated look, as if she knew already where I was, behind some bushes.


    OH FUCK N-!!


    I tried to bail, turning around as I was ready to bolt away from the clear sight of pure danger and possible torture.


    But just as I gave my back and made my first step directed away from that trap, I found myself… stopped in my preventive blitz out of that horrible predicament.


    A reddish hue was now coating my body, and I tensed up as I found myself incapable of moving out of that scary magic grip.


    “I don’t want to harm you,” A gentle whisper that was easily denied by thunderous thoughts of panic and fear, my legs trembling as I tried to break out of that hold. “You… will not be harmed.”


    As if I was going to fall in that blatant attempt to corrupt me!


    “I mean it.” She continued, this time her voice turning whiny.


    Soon I felt her magic slowly pull me closer to the bonfire, or at least close enough to ‘listen’ to her words.


    Struggling wasn’t working, my sudden lack of strength against the supernatural energy manipulating my physical capacities to surrender to her request intensifying the need of running out of that situation.


    Nonononono-


    “I’m not… her.”


    Sure-


    “I really mean it!” The blonde repeated with a huff. “I’m not the Queen of Grimm.”


    “And I’m Santa Claus-”





    “You do look quite portly-”


    “S-Shut up!” I snarled back with a little bit of embarrassment.


    Salem sighed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to-”


    “Y-you are like an illusion. There is no way that-”


    “I could be here, ‘ruining’ your chances of success by ‘corrupting’… you?” She concluded this little interruption with a skeptical note, more than enough to fluster/anger me even more.


    “I-I’m not that fat!”


    “But you aren’t certainly as fit as was… Ozma.”


    I had been struggling against the magical hold, but then I stopped wide-eyed at the mentioning of the real name of the Wizard.


    Why would she tell me his name when… she doesn’t know that I was aware of it?


    The woman blinked and sighed, eyes closing as she ended the incantation holding me from running.


    I felt the pressure on my body lessening to nothing, the capacity to move independently restored moments later as I found myself tensing at the quiet sight I was given by the magical user.


    Salem had a saddened look as she looked up from her uneasy posture and nodded. “I’m… sorry.”


    ...What?


    Actually, what the goddamn fuck I’m listening to?!


    I didn’t restrain myself in showing my incredible confusion and shock at what was currently happening and the woman merely nodded.


    “I- I know this is difficult to explain, and that you have all the reasons to… hate me,” She said slowly, stuttering in quite the uncharacteristic way. It was different from the strong and fierce individual displayed by Jinn. “But my presence here isn’t… connected to her. I’m not her.


    There was a tense pause, I found myself quietened by the storm crashing inside my head as I thought well about what I was looking at.


    This was… the human version of Salem, which shouldn’t be there as she and Mami Salami were the same person.


    They were still whole, they had to be still whole.





    But what if-


    No, I… I can’t just trust her. Not now, not… ever.


    Yet it couldn’t be wrong to… consider the chances here, the strange details of this unplanned and unexpected encounter.


    She seemed so genuine, the blonde barely giving off any resemblance to the angry individual that waged war against the Gods before becoming a shell of its kinder self by turning herself to the darkest pit of the world.





    But what if this wasn’t the truth?


    “Who are you?” I asked carefully, gauging her reaction as she slowly looked at me with some surprise. “If you aren’t the Queen of the Grimm, who are you?”


    More silence, the pause extending to some more seconds before she blinked and spoke.


    “I… I’m Salem,” The woman replied cautiously. “And… I’m lost.”


    “Lost?” I quickly asked with some confusion dripping in my voice, causing her to nod once more.


    “I shouldn’t be… there. I shouldn’t be creating these problems to you, I shouldn’t be a bur-”


    “No, stop,” I interjected swiftly, my eyes narrowing at that odd escalation. Seriously, what was going on with her?


    I was still skeptical from probing for more information as I was quite doubtful of her full authenticity, but then again it wouldn’t be wrong to think that… maybe there was some sense in her words.


    How would have Salem entered in my mind?


    Despite the massive feat she was known for by the series, her magic wouldn’t be able to mindcontrol someone… this far from her grasp.


    And to appear so vulnerable and so genuinely so was just… too much. Why? WHY!?


    Instead of trying to press her for more, my little fury was killed by what was happening to the blonde.


    Tears were swelling, she looked a mess ready to crack and I was still standing there like a moron trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with my brain.


    “I-I thought I was doing the right thing by- by bringing him back,” She sniffed, falling back on her previous seat. “I- Why did I do that? Why… Why did I attack my own children!?”


    Her hands were up to her face, covering her expression while I silently witnessed this mental breakdown, immensely confused about it.


    WhyWhyWhyWhyWhyWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHY!


    “Why.” I finally spoke.


    A single word, one that barely sounded like a query but that still got a reaction out of the grieving woman.


    The blonde sobbed, her hands barely moving as she tried her best to reply to this and-


    “I- I don’t know!” Salem replied loudly, shivering as her tears continued to fall freely and without hesitation. “I-I remember- I was falling in the pit, I could remember the pressure, the pain a-and then-





    She paused just for a moment.





    “I w-woke up in this forest,” The woman continued, still trembling and crying. “I was alone- I thought that I was alone, and that this was just my own exile after what I did.”


    I took a seat near the bonfire as she narrated what she could about her presence in my mind.


    “It was… so strange, so quiet and… and then I found this place,” Salem described, her right palm slowly gesturing this little section of the forest. “I thought it was a sign of civilization, that I had been somehow been recovered before losing myself into the pool and then I tried to experience the warmth of the flames.”


    She stopped, once again staring at the continuous fire raging within the limitations imposed by the small light-gray rocks circling the never-dying pieces of wood fueling the natural agent of destruction.


    “I… didn’t found just the warmth,” She said softly, her hands finally lowering as she gave a solid glance at me. “I… I found your knowledge.”


    ...No. That’s not something go-


    “There is so much about what happened to me after I had turned into… that-”


    Nonono. Don’t continue down this-


    “A-And then I killed him again, why would I-”


    I beg you, don’t do this-


    “These four girls-”


    If there is a God, and by God I mean someone overpowered but not also a jerk, then please help me or-


    “And...” Salem stopped in her tirade, most of it lost in the current headache born from this discovery.


    This wasn’t good. This wasn’t… acceptable.


    Finally, after calming down a little, I noticed the blush on her face, her tears briefly interrupted as the blonde found it difficult to talk about what was next.


    “For the love of life and everything else, don’t finish that sentence,” I replied sternly and almost begging her to.


    She blinked at my soft outburst, feeling fairly surprised by my own embarrassment as I couldn’t certainly control my own embarrassment and…


    “You are odd,” The woman blurted without thinking. “Like… you are really odd.”


    And this was coming from the one that lived the first two decades of her life stuck in a tower.


    “Is your bluntness part of your charm, lady?”


    She scoffed, shaking her head as for a moment the sadness seemed to vanish.


    “As your sass is.”


    I blinked, a little smile twitching on my face. “Then it is~.”


    She frowned. “I’m not-”


    “Too late and… how about we share a serious conversation,” I proposed in a mindful tone, noticing almost immediately her tensing up but she didn’t resume with her crying.


    “Wh-What about?”


    “You are not the evil, murdery Queen ruling by the Grimmlands,” I started to explain. “Your last memory before getting ‘here’ was going for the ‘turning’.”


    She nodded and so I continued.


    “Now, from my understanding this is my mindscape, so you are technically in the same predicament as Ozzie,”


    The woman’s eyes widened. “O-Ozma?”


    “The latest reincarnation,” I nodded with an unsure look. “He isn’t the same as back then, kind of become something ‘similar’ to a gray character but just becoming a poor manipulator at best.”


    “Ozma’s plans are usually prone to failure,” Salem sighed tiredly while shaking her head. “I could remember when he tried to create a new table for the library but ended up conjuring a dragon.”


    I faked a flinch. “How extensive was the damage?”


    “E-Enough to revoke bed’s privileges for three nights.” The woman replied with a mirthful tone, a giggle drowned in her throat.


    Ah, who would have thought that Ozzie was this much whipped.


    “Returning back to the serious stuff,” I said quickly, knowing that I had to quickly find a way to wake up considering how I had left stuff in the real world before going unconscious.


    One can wonder how much time would it take for a concerned tiger to maul a friendly moron like me while I’m unconscious.


    “So yes, there is an Ozzie here and no, he isn’t your Ozma. Or at least not the man you married with his quirks and flaws,” I summarized calmly. “I’m surprised he has yet to join this discussion, but maybe it’s best he is kept blissfully unaware of this new development and- actually, do you know when you appeared chronologically speaking?”


    “I… I think it was about the time you reached… that island. Menagerie?”


    Annoyingly unspecific. Dammit.


    “Well, I guess that is-”


    BAM!


    “Aw!- What?!”


    I felt a powerful hit land on my cheek, almost sending me tripping backward with the suddenness of the blow.


    Salem’s eyes widened in surprise. “What’s wrong?”


    “I- Someone punched me and-”


    SLAM!


    SBAM!


    SLAP!


    SLAP!


    O-Okay, what the hell is- GOING- OW- OVER- OUCH- HERE-AHW!


    I blinked, finding myself pulled away from my mind and back to the real world.


    And boy, was the real world turning into a world of pain as I realized that whoever had began beating the crap out of me was still going happily at it.


    My sore body could barely move, especially with some of the constraints keeping me in the medical table when-


    I blinked multiple times, my eyes narrowing as I tried to adjust to the blinding light coming from above, to try and see who was my aggressor and…


    The beating stopped-


    -Right as I noticed that Sienna was looking at me in surprise, her closed fists restrained in that very moment and stopping with its previous hitting.


    “Y-You are back!”


    Restrain her! The patient is-!!


    But before the guards could move in to stop the crazed-looking Faunus, I felt her entire weight plummeting right onto my poor bones.


    [What a lovely woman, is she your-]


    N-No, we are just friend and-


    Before I could conclude, in the midst of that chaotic mess, I could distinctly hear some loud purring coming from the woman straddling close to me while she repeatedly whispered ‘Thank yous’ right onto my ear.


    [Oh. I guess it’s ‘that’ kind of friend.]


    G-Goddammit, Sienna!


    ------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------


    ~Sienna’s POV~


    Moving John back to their room proved to be fairly awkward and uneasy, especially after the little scene she had gone with after getting overwhelmed by the various developments dispatched at once.


    The human had returned back to the base mostly unscathed… but unconscious and bringing two more Faunus with him, a child with his mother.


    Both had been following back to the headquarters, the woman looking nervous herself but she was soon granted some diplomatic immunity by Sienna on the ground that they were ‘applying to join Menagerie’.


    More paperwork, but that issue wasn’t as concerning as the one presented by the comatose state her ‘adjutant’ had returned with and the way the man helping him back to the base looked to be affected by it.


    The doctor with him, Watts, was seen muttering under his breath about ‘a miracle’, his wide eyes making him looking a mix of mad and shocked at whatever had happened while they were out.


    He underwent a brief checkup, his hyperventilation causing the other doctors to promptly intervene before it could have turned into something a little more serious than just panic.


    Still the aftermath proved to be fairly awkward because of how she had reacted to it all.


    Maybe it was worry, maybe it was the fact that this has been the second freak accident that got the human to suffer something bad or… maybe she was just too stressed to deal with this kind of madness.


    Silence was granted to the two of them, the room proving to be oddly easing of the insanity ensuing just moments prior returning to the ‘safety’ of the bed.


    Yes, she had decided to not leave the now-more-bruised human in the couch, deciding to give half of the mattress to the partially-groaning man while they both stared at the ceiling of the bed.


    If the Tiger Faunus had to be honest to herself, maybe showing so many emotions at once might have not been a particularly stellar idea.


    Especially with the now-awake John, having some more bandages over his head after her little stunt caused by panic, stress and a little meltdown.


    Maybe she should have expected some bad reactions at her ‘rough-rousing’, but to actually feel this much pressured by the human’s irritated posture in the bed did make her feel like a naughty child that just got caught breaking the cookie jar.


    “I’m sor-”


    “You are a moron,” The young man interrupted with a huff. “You know, considering the overall situation of today, I would have expected this moment to be the opposite of how it is right now but...”


    He tried to shrug, the effort ending before its conclusion as his sore arm didn’t manage the full action. “You did ‘that’.”


    Her ears flapped down at that emphasized comment.


    “I-It’s was just the rush of the moment,” The young woman admitted, her tone tight but giving some insight over her inner stress. “You should know about this after-”


    “Beating doesn’t sound like a solution to a state of pseudo-coma, Sienna,” He commented over her explanation.


    “And ‘punching a sword without an Aura’ is?”


    “Since it actually saved a life and the damage is done upon myself- Yes!” I shot his arms up in a fit of anger. “Like- Why beating me?!”


    … “I… I didn’t thought it that well.”


    “I just want to know why?” He pressed on with some insistence, slowly turning to look at her. “I understand the worry and all of that but-”


    He paused, his eyes going wide open for a moment and causing her to frown back at him… but it was in that very moment that she felt something trail down the side of her cheek.


    A tear, then two.


    Her left hand reached the edges of her eyes as she slowly began drying the wet sensations developing there. “C-Continue.”


    John blinked, but didn’t comply with her request as he silently stared at her as she went through with this annoying activity.


    Why now? Why would tears happen now of all times?


    Why not before he woke up? Why not while he wasn’t there to see?


    Now a can of worm would have to be opened, mostly because she knew how persisting the young man was over this kind of situations.


    “It was allergy,” She spoke once again.


    The human turned to once more stare at the ceiling, the furious expression now gone from his blank face. “Hm.”





    “I swear it-”


    “I know,” He interjected with a quiet voice. “I understand you don’t wish to talk about whatever this is about.”





    What?


    “There is no backstory,” Sienna replied fiercely. “I really had a bad allergy moment and-”


    “Sienna, you are the one that told me that you don’t have any allergy.”








    “What if I said I lied back then?”


    This time her query was met with silence, the human seemingly distracted with his own thoughts and that was quite the odd development.


    Where was the pestering she had expected? Where was the probing for more juicy details?


    “Are you… alright?”


    He hummed. “A little tired. It’s nighttime.”


    The woman quietly nodded, her eyes glancing at him.


    “It never stopped you before from asking,” The Tiger Faunus pointed out carefully.


    “I’m still recovering from a beating,” He replied sassily, causing her to flinch. “Plus, it wouldn’t help you if I asked you now.”


    She lifted a curious eyebrow at that. “Care to elaborate that bit?”


    He sighed, finally turning to glance right at her inquiring orbs.


    “You are currently recovering from the stress of those few days, the little ‘show of affection’ proving that you aren’t exactly well-receptive of positive help,” The human explained softly. “So, for now I will just avoid causing you further stress-”


    “I-It’s not that, it’s not you,” The young woman interjected with some surprise. “I just feel like you are being too careless while helping others. Too much for it to be… healthy.”


    He blinked and nodded. “You are correct.”


    Her ears twitched. “Really?”


    “I’ve been exposing myself to danger way too much in these few days,” He replied with a sigh. “I guess that I need to put my mind back on some self-preservation or things could escalate to an ugly end.”


    And what an ugly end, she admitted to herself as she compared the odds the young man had endured until now.


    It reminded her far too much of the carelessness that led to her father’s death.


    Lack of self-control in his selflessness and his easy-to-trust nature saw him killed in one of the protests before the foundation of the White Fang.


    You need to keep a smile on, always, or the world will never grant you the joys you want to experience.


    What a foolish statement.


    Smiles can do so much until those turn stale and ineffective, so dull and emotionless.


    “Sienna.”


    Her mind left the memory lane and she resumed the real world right on that very moment, his words bringing her back out of her mind.


    “Yes?”


    “Do you dislike humans?” He asked tentatively. “I don’t mean as full-hating, but just like… how much of the society works. How flawed we are with our morality.”


    Now, wasn’t that an interesting question?


    Humans were flawed, but so were Faunus. This very concept wasn’t difficult for someone as perceptive as she was to notice, but it wasn’t easy to explain in simple words.


    What difference made the latter stand out to the former? One had more freedom of choice, and decided to mostly succumb to some horrible path of despair-giving without much hesitation about it.


    Humans were resourceful, but it was their number that made them so incredibly difficult to face in a ‘fair fight’.


    Faunus had their own abilities, making them of higher quality compared to simple humans.


    Yet, the answer to that question wasn’t something as lengthy or confusion-inducing.


    “I dislike foolish ones,” She ultimately answered.


    John nodded and didn’t pursue any conversation from this point, basking in the quiet note of the night as the two of them continued to calmly stay awake in that normal quiet.


    How odd was it that there was no embarrassment from that predicament? How curious it was that she couldn’t help but enjoy the little warmth she was gaining by his proximity.


    “John.”


    Her voice broke through the transparent veil.


    “Yes?” He asked softly.


    “Are you… afraid of me?”


    A pause followed, but the young man seemed to be thinking about this and thus she didn’t push him for some answer.


    Finally, he nodded.


    “No,” He stated resolutely. “I’m not generally afraid of you.”


    “But you are afraid of me in specific cases?”


    “I don’t like beatings for one,” He repeated with more sass, at this point the flinch replaced by snorts from the young woman. “But I guess the unique case that would get me genuinely scared is… if I manage to get you ready to hurt me for the sake of hurting me.”


    ...What?


    “Is it wrong for me to think that my greatest fear I had about you was fighting you after doing something bad myself?”


    She blinked perplexed at that followup, skeptical about having an answer to that.


    “It depends on the circumstances,” Sienna concluded with a hum. “It’s a legitimate concern since you do care. I think you do.”


    He nodded at that and she continued.


    “But you are also wrong to make it much of a big issue out of it,” She admitted with a shake of head. “We are already past the point you can make me angry with some random madness.”


    “Oh,” He replied ‘smartly’, nodding again as he resumed his staring up at the ceiling. “Understood.”


    Another pause ensued, but this time the fatigue was finally catching up on the young woman.


    “John.”


    He hummed again, too tired to reply to that.


    “Would you be mad if… I wanted to rest a little closer to you?”





    “Why?”


    “The pillow here is too cold and sturdy.”


    A stupid excuse, one that was born from quick panic and nervousness for even blurting that silly proposition.


    She was ready for a refusal-


    “If it’s for the pillow… sure.”


    And she didn’t get that much to her inner surprise.


    She merely gave a distracted nod, shifting closer to the already eyes-closed human, almost ready to fall to sleep once again.


    She felt her eyelids slightly dropping as to follow the human, a yawn drowned before leaving through her lips as she snuggled her head on the softer pillow where John was resting his head and… she fell asleep.


    Sadly for Sienna, her stressed rest would see her move during her sleep and… John couldn’t help but dream that someone was purring right onto his chest during the rest of his silly happy nightmares.
     
  18. Sojo

    Sojo Getting out there.

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    Sienna best girl.
     
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  19. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

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    Hail! You have done a miracle!
    Hail! You have given a man a chance and a chance is all he needs!
    Hail! You have progressed well in the relationship points!
    Hail! You have made great many more waves!
    Hail! You have met a shade of the past!
    Hail! You survived!

    Sweet update.
    Now our dear MC has TWO spirits in his head.
    Good.
    Having two voices helps in decision making.
    Or make you sound more crazy but who cares!?
     
    Drake D Zero likes this.
  20. Diver

    Diver Versed in the lewd.

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    I’m a bit lost, did Sienna try to punch John out of unconsciousness because she was worried about him? Is this just weird “I don’t do feelings well especially with humans” stuff? She’s too wound up from dealing with Schnee and panicked?

    Did like that he has effectively co-opted Watts and Adam. Suck it horrible cannon future!
     
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  21. HatoYin

    HatoYin Not too sore, are you?

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    Ozpin would be a curse to someone on the path of success...
    But others whose life is miserable, filled with failures etc... For them ozpin reincarnating into them is a blessing...
     
    JBukharin likes this.
  22. Threadmarks: White Noise over the Past's Shadows (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis


    Chapter 19: White Noise over the Past’s Shadows (2)


    ~John’s POV~


    It was another early morning for me in Remnant and I could already tell it was going to be a crazy one by just looking at my first obstacle for a pleasant and ‘safe’ awakening back in bed.


    I was surprised when I found myself questioning about the means I should be use to deal with the overgrown cat currently napping on my chest.


    Seriously, why did she had to move in her sleep? I could have sworn she had been the one free from any aching in her body that should have spark any nightmare.


    The conversation of the day before was still fresh in my mind and, frankly speaking, I couldn’t see it being the issue behind such a tactical move in the unexpected effort of screwing me in the metaphysical level.


    Yep, nobody likes to get to deal with critical circumstances which weren’t dealt by the solvers… especially if said circumstances would eventually lead to some violent escalation towards me!


    I mean, there was nothing truly wrong about the scene as we had been just sleeping.


    Sienna was kind of warm and she wasn’t wearing anything indecent in that very moment, but I couldn’t help but see more of what her her reaction would be if she happened to wake in that precise instant instead of musing over the overall cute display.


    Even the adorable purring coming from her vibrating lips and her calm snuggling weren’t doing enough to to disperse the awkwardness that this scene presented to me.


    I was carefully quick to push her arms and head away from my proximity, knowing that a wrong move could see me subjected to further aggression for trying to merely move away from extra-danger zone.


    I waited some more seconds of silence after I was done to gauge if I had managed with my utmost effort to get her to move away from me without waking her up and…


    Yep, she’s still sleeping.


    A quiet sigh left my mouth as I thought myself finally free of the threatening issues within my current whereabouts, only for my easiness to die down mere moments later.


    My eyes were quick to pick up that there was something shining from the little couch set several meters away from the bed.


    I was quite sure that the room occupants until late yesterday were just me and Sienna, prompting me to slightly panic at this detail…


    Only to frown at the realization of who was lurking by the shadowed corner of place.


    The red glow that I had first seen was unique to a certain scarlet-colored blade that was being currently polished by a certain dark-haired, red-eyed woman that had made herself a seat by the furniture.


    Her attention was directed at the activity itself, giving me plenty of time to prepare to what looked to be a planned surprise from Raven.


    I continued to stare, sure that the attention would have caught her own and… I was proven correct when the former huntress lifted her stare right up to match mine.


    “Oh,” She hummed quietly. “You are awake.”


    ...That’s it?


    “Good morning to you too, Raven.”


    She nodded, proceeding to return most of her attention right at the blade cleaning.


    “Before you ask, Yes I did enter from the window,” The Branwen mentioned distractedly. “And then I closed it once I was inside.”


    I merely blinked back at her, leaning on my pillow as I continued to watch her as she continued with her activity.


    My stare was one of curiosity and fascination, but also one of confusion and nervousness as I was trying to understand why she was here to begin with.


    Sienna had sounded fairly genuine when she had said that she hadn’t contacted the woman about what had happened with the Taurus family; plus, it seemed that Raven wasn’t even aware of what had happened to me quite recently.


    I was quite sure that it wasn’t what had happened yesterday.


    ...So what exactly got the woman to present herself unannounced and so late at night, considering that both Sienna and I had gone to sleep just before midnight.


    It took me just a few more moments of staring that I finally noticed that there was a certain degree of tiredness lingering on her face and, now that I thought about it, I could also remember some of it in her voice.


    “Having a tough time with the rest of the team?” I asked with some careful tone, worried that any eventual discussion could stir too much the sleeping tiger.


    The question seemed to draw her away from her weapon’s maintenance once again, a surprised look briefly appearing.


    “I had some… issues getting the whole ‘mother’ thing working with Yang,” She replied slowly, some hesitation present in her tone. “Summer helped a lot. I think… it could have been much worse if I hadn’t her around to guide me with some instances.”


    “But?”





    She sighed, giving a blink or two before actually replying.


    “I guess I might not feel happy with… some of the frustrating bits with our interactions.”


    Now that was interesting. I had seen the older Rose behave fairly hesitant to approach the Branwen, but the two seemed to hit it off fairly quickly just before they left for Patch.


    “Is it about Summer or-”


    “Summer is as understanding as I remember her be. But she has developed some unusual sternness which she would display heatedly when I... exaggerate with some of my comments towards Yang and...” The woman paused for a moment and then- “I think I’m doing more bad than good if I continue to stay with them.”


    I blinked, a little surprised by this unexpected escalation. She did sound fairly fine with Summer’s comments but… what could have driven her to think such thing.


    Qrow? Maybe some snide remarks, but the man wouldn’t just risk creating a fallout with his sister. Now with how difficult it had been to convince her to go back with them.


    Taiyang sounded pretty chill and quite serious when he mentioned having no beef with his former wife and, while I knew very little of what he thought of his wife, I was quite sure that things would just be… fine with him.


    “Care to elaborate?” I inquired with a curious voice. “I mean, doubts are something that ‘new moms’ have to experience or if it’s something about your former team-”


    “Yang is always trying to stay in my arms and I’ve seen her struggle violently when Summer tries to pick her up,” The Branwen interjected with a more unnerved tone. “I think she might end up disconnecting from them if if I continue to be around.”


    I waited a while before answering, just a quiet sigh offering a glimpse of my pondering over her words.


    “You are worried that it will ruin Yang’s connection with-”


    “Ruby.”





    What.


    “Uh-”


    “While I can say that Summer could easily understand what is going on with her, same for Taiyang and my stupid brother, I don’t think Ruby would-”


    “Sorry, but… while I can see why some would care for Rubes in this case, why is so important to you when you have barely met her?”


    Her lips parted, then closed. There was some silence, quite the tense period of time that passed without major interruption as I stared down at Raven as I knew that there was something more about it.


    “F-Fine,” The woman said with a scowl. “I-I’ve tried to take care of Ruby too when Summer was busy, to see how it was to deal with a younger child and...”





    “And?”


    Her red eyes averted in a rare display of embarrassment.


    “She is… easier to manage compared to Yang,” She ultimately admitted. “Or it’s easier to make sure she doesn’t get sad, angry or cry.”


    Facepalming at this irritating development, I let out a soft groan.


    “Raven, you understand that children after a certain age tends to get a little more high-maintenance and thus ‘more difficult’ to keep up with, right?”


    There was a few instants of silence, but the Branwen gave a slow nod.


    “I’m aware about that-”


    “While it’s fine for you to help around with Ruby, I want you to know that it doesn’t mean you can just favor her over your ‘Little Sunny Dragon’ ‘cause you decided that it was easier like that.”


    “But- I’m not-”


    “Then please start putting more effort on your child instead of complaining,” I pressed on with some annoyance. “I understand it’s difficult, but don’t just give up without making some serious effort about it and...”


    I gave her just enough time to give a nod before resuming with my merciless pressing.


    “And Raven, forgive me if I ask, but have you tried to tell Yang that Summer and Ruby were still her aunt and cousin, right?”


    More silence, this time it was driven by the woman’s confusion.


    “W-What?”


    “Did you tell her that while Summer wasn’t her mother and you were, that she was still family and that she should be treated as such?” I repeated with some seriousness in my voice. “Since, you know, she is a child and she is possibly having some confusion herself over the matter compared to other people of our age.”





    “I thought that… it should have been Summer’s job since...” She paused a moment. “She does that with Ruby.”


    “Because Ruby is her daughter, and you should be the one to tell Yang that since you are her mother and she listens to you,” I pressed on with some irritation. “Raven, this shouldn’t be difficult for you to understand after years of leading a tribe made by bandits. They are meant to be more difficult to manage compared to a little girl.”


    Yet the situation was proving to be difficult enough for her to actually have to ask advice about it.


    I was impressed, incredibly so, but I blinked in surprise when she merely nodded at my words, leaning her head a little back by the couch’s soft fabric.


    “You didn’t even try to catch any sleep yesterday?” I inquired with a suspicious tone.


    “Yang has started to sleep with me in the same bed and… she had been having some nightmares,” She replied before letting out a yawn.


    Soon the woman was settling her blade by the floor, adjusting herself on the couch as she eased her head by the comfy arm-chair that gave sight over the bed.


    “What about you and the Faunus?”


    I tensed up at her finally switching her attention right onto the curious predicament that was going on in that bed.


    “What about us?” I tried my best to not show any uneasiness over the matter.


    “If I recall correctly, you two weren’t this… close.”


    There was no way in hell that she was actually suspecting something more from the predicament… but what if she actually was?


    What a troublesome instance.


    “To be fair, the closeness is the same as before,” I admitted with half-truthfully. “But after spending a little too much in the couch, I conceded to the fact I did need some proper rest in a bed.”


    “Sounds like bullshit,” She interjected with a minor scowl. “How come she just ‘relents’ over having the bed for herself. You weren’t injured enough to warrant this little situation.”


    I gulped nervously, perfectly aware that I could just end up revealing unconsciously about the thing that got me in a mini-coma.


    Raven didn’t move too much at first as I stayed quiet, her eyes narrowing even a little more before she actually started to get off from the couch.


    “What are you doing?” I blurted almost instantly.


    “I would love to have some sleep in a bed and… I really need to sleep.”


    It was almost like she was begging at this point and I felt a little bit nervous about it all.


    I mean, I could see how tired she was right now, but to have her actually come be this close after what had happened in the last few weeks...


    I might have forgiven her for trying to do some stuff that I wasn’t consenting about, but I couldn’t just forget the matter altogether.


    My body tensed up instinctively as she started to slowly enter inside the covers, reaching for the side that was unoccupied and… settling her head by the furthest bit of my pillow.


    With her eyes closed, just before I could even start to refuse such a sudden assault, I found myself looking at the woman as she just… fell asleep.


    She was so close, I could feel the warmth of her body and her breath coming so close to my neck that I had to let out a shiver or two at how things had escalated without reason.


    But before I could have done anything about it, I felt some shuffling on the other side of the bed and I felt my arm completely ensnared by a certain still-sleeping Tiger Faunus now snuggling at said limb.


    Now I was stuck in that bed… and I had this need to go to the bathroom.


    Goddammit.


    My inner groans were met with the quiet walls of my mind… which was odd considering that I had two people inside that should have been having some commentary over it all.


    Seriously, where are Ozpin and Sallie?


    -------------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d-----


    ~‘Sallie’ POV~


    This staring contest that had been going for hours now was starting to get ridiculous.


    Sure, the blonde was perfectly aware that Ozma was quite the stubborn mule back just like he had been back when he had been alive in his first life but to see him keep up with such a self-destructive attempt… was quite frustrating.


    Not only would he shout at her about keeping away, but he would also constantly grumble about missing his ‘cup of coffee’ and blaming his inability to perceive the threat close to his turf.


    It was quite confusing to see the man she had loved for so long decline into the blabbering elder that she had thought her father to be.


    Of course her father was malicious in his nature, but the tones and the words used by both were awfully similar if not the same.


    Still, Salem was certain that it was his own mean to react to surprises just like her presence in this mindscape had been that had gotten him to be this much abrasive with everyone and everything.


    She could still remember the heated discussion spared between John and Ozma that had happened the day before.


    Both men begun a verbal sparring that would eventually end with the youngest of the two going to rest away from this ‘nagging’, going to ignore their efforts to contact him while he was sleeping for the next day.


    And leaving her to face the slightly-drained Ozpin.


    The man was still rejecting her proximity, threatening some physical retaliation in case she came way too ‘dangerously’ close to him.


    She obviously kept her distance, realizing quickly enough that approaching the old man would have resulted in her just being despised even more by him.


    Magic made her capable of sustaining any damage he could throw at her, but the woman was also smart enough to realize that the issue would then be something that couldn’t just be fixed with any spell.


    And that was trust.


    John’s trust.


    Despite the clear dislike the young man had over her former husband, the brunet had been quite clear in keeping away from ‘escalating’ any further situation to something ‘irritating and unneeded’.


    It proved to be quite easier than she had expected, especially since it reminded her how difficult it had been to confess to that foolish man still dangling from his ‘safe spot’.


    Despite the serious efforts displayed back then to catch his attention, the man had been dense enough to ignore an unfair majority of signs that she had left for him to notice and understand.


    Those were all meant to show show the strong feelings she had developed for him just after being freed by her imprisonment but he ultimately managed to dodge a non-negligible amount of those.


    To some degree, she could now see why the brunet had been so close to call her ‘Pyrrha’ as her early predicament and her propensity to apologize quite profusely when wrong greatly mirrored the polite attitude that was known to the redhead.


    Still, it would also be true to see some of herself in Jaune with his lack of knowledge of the big world around him.


    But while she would have been more than glad to continue her musing over the uncanny resemblance she sported with the leader of ‘JNPR’, Salem had something a little more complicated to face about.


    The same stubbornness that was expressed back during their first shared lessons about magic was now being applied in a somewhat semi-legitimate reason as he continued to stare/glare at her while continuing to stay by his little perching in one of the distant trees’ branches.


    He looked like an old and weary-looking vulture trying its best to keep his stability in that tiny and somewhat resilient branch beneath his feet.


    The blonde sighed, blue eyes fixed on his angry-looking form.


    “You are going to fall from there,” The blonde warned for the umpteenth time, her mind slowly losing its grasp over the worry about any pain born from that stupid stunt.


    The more he continued to stay there, the more she started to feel like an eventual crash would be deserved by the tired-looking Ozpin.


    “I refuse to be too close to you,” The former headmaster of Beacon stated coldly. “Even if you managed to trick Mr. Bukharin, I know exactly what you are trying to accomplish with this shy masquerade of yours!”


    ...Trying to really fix the horrible mistake she had committed?


    Salem was still having a hard time trying to make sense of what had happened to her after falling in that pool, her memories growing blank the more she tried to think back about that last act of her life.


    Then her Grimm self had appeared, keeping some lucidity for years… until negativity seemed to truly overwhelm her.


    But those memories that saw her commit kinslaying weren’t part of her mind, nor were the result of some insanity created by a trickster.


    The orb that was now giving her warmth until she stayed near to it had granted her a glimpse of what the current host of this body knew about the world he was facing and the possible future that was now away to be reached.


    Endless routes have opened since his arrival, each containing unique sets of obstacles that were there to halt the advance of John Bukharin and his inner mission of bringing some order within Remnant.


    Nothing was truly centralized within the planing.


    Everything was made flexible to best take advantage of the opportunities and depended on the chances presented by the world itself.


    It was pure chaos, the embodiment of discord becoming the perfect tool to balance back to Terra- Remnant.


    The old world, the one she had been prime responsible to shatter in the first greatest rebellion against the Gods.


    Childishness had driven everyone, but her sins were so far even greater than anything that Ozma could consider himself guilty of.


    She was the one that brought an end to ‘Heaven on Earth’ for the sake of repelling the natural rule that claimed from her the soul of her lover.


    Her anger had been so intense, yet it had been her carefulness to make sure to gain the support of everything available in the world to wage war against the Gods.


    Her Chaos failed before Light and Dark… but now that there was no God to truly tremble before?


    Salem was… conscious about the unpleasant sensation born from thinking of defeating the husk that bore her name so mightily and so dreadfully, but this sadness was easily dismissed by the truth about the monstrosity that hid behind her grimmified appearance.


    While joining side to those that had long faced the Grimm would have been a good choice, considering the memories available to John, it was easy to see how wrong that could end up becoming.


    If this Ozma was sporting barely-veiled hatred towards her, the same would have happened with the one that was still alive and in a position of power that could easily create problem for everyone, especially herself.


    Which meant that the best faction was the one that John was slowly but surely building up from various pieces.


    It was a sluggish process, but there was no reason to chide over the results of his recruiting.


    His friendly personality, combined sprinkles of genuine interest over making sure that this crisis was over the fastest possible, made it possible that his efforts would start to attract a more active group of people to his side.


    Which would create an alternative to Light and Dark, something that would shatter without hesitation the classic chessboard that had for so long reigned over Remnant while making it possible to establish newer hopes for those that wanted a better human society.


    It was idyllic for a dream, but one that she could see come into fruition with dedication and-


    CRACK!


    “Damn i-”


    Ozma groaned as he fell on the ground, following the now-broken tree’s branch to its descent.


    Just like she had seen it happening.


    She sighed, shaking her head at the disappointing sight before turning her attention right at the orb and what was going on with the owner of this mindscape.


    There wasn’t much to said about Ozpin as the former headmaster merely tried to climb back up the same tree before settling in another branch.


    Salem blinked once… then twice as the orb granted her a limited vision of what was going on with John from his own perspective.


    The young man was stuck in quite the curious predicament as he was literally being restrained by the presence of two women, one for each of his side.


    One was the Tiger ‘Faunus’ that he had so quickly labeled as a friend and which Salem had quickly seen as a ‘special-kind of friend’ instead of a regular one.


    It was clear as the sky was in a cloudless day that the woman did feel something for him but that she was holding herself from letting out her true emotions… which made Salem the more irritated by their chemistry.


    John wasn’t dense, but he also didn’t have clairvoyance about what was going on in the tanned female and thus was unable to know what to do with her overreactions.


    If only Ozma had been as quick to recognize romance as he is...


    The other one was… familiar, but the blonde was fairly unsure about why she was here in that very moment.


    [Seems like you got yourself stuck in quite the curious circumstance there.]


    The brunet tilted his head as he heard her words through their connection, a sigh building up from his lips before he gave a solid nod.


    I can assure you that nothing ‘lewd’ is happening here.


    [I can see that by myself.]


    The three were all clothed, seemingly just resting in that precise instance and the lack of any strange action under the covers further showed that they weren’t doing anything particularly indecent.


    It was still odd for a man to be in the same bed as two women… without them being romantically close to him.


    [Are you still sure that you are just friends and-]


    I think this still is a case of close friendship, Sallie. Don’t make this scene look bigger than it actually is.


    [I don’t see why should I. At least, can I confirm that we are normal friends and not that kind of friend-]


    Can it, you tease!


    A giggle died down by her throat, but before she could have pressed for more, her attention was caught by some shifting happening by his side.


    The blonde’s eyes widened as the brunet turned his sight by where Sienna had been sleeping until now and… his eyes fixed onto a pair of feline yellow orbs.


    “G-Good morning?” The young man greeted with some hesitation.





    Soon her eyes widened and her posture tensed as she noticed that there was a certain Branwen resting on the other side of the bed.


    “Wh-What- When did she?”


    “A couple of minutes ago and she is merely resting,” He assured swiftly, visibly relaxing as he noticed the Faunus’ body easing over the predicament. “How… how are you?”


    [Really smooth.]


    She blinked. “Mostly well. How are you?”


    The brunet shrugged and gave her a tiny smile.


    “A little stuck there, you know you… kind of moved in your sleep.”





    “I can see that yes,” Sienna replied quietly. “And how is that a problem?”


    John tensed a little at the blatant trap, but didn’t hesitate much to answer.


    “N-Nothing truly, it’s just that… I would like to move to go to the bathroom”.


    The Faunus’ lips parted in surprise, moving just enough to allow the young man passage out of the bed.


    “O-Oh, sure.”


    “And… shouldn’t we be getting up right now or-”


    “Appointments start at 10 and it’s… 6,” She groaned a little as she noticed the early hour. “C-Couldn’t you- Why do you even wake up this early?”


    “As I said, I need a bathroom break,” He replied tightly, snorting a little before entering inside the little bathroom and-


    Salem detached from the ‘terminal’ preferring to not look at certain embarrassing things to unfold before her eyes.


    Her attention turned back to Ozpin in the Mindscape, the man having fallen off from two branches while she had been distracting herself by chatting with the brunet.


    He was still glaring/frowning at her and she merely nodded back at him.


    This experience was sure going to be far more irritating than she had hoped it to be… but at least she got John’s shenanigans to keep her from going truly mad.


    -------d-d-d--------------------d-d-d------


    AN


    It’s here and… I’m terribly tired.


    I’ve wasted most of the time I had planned to use to write this chapter to watch the second movie of FSN Heaven’s Feel with my sister. I’m slowly corrupting her to enjoy some bits of the world of Fate (Muhahaha) after failing to get her hooked with RWBY (A Major Defeat for sure!).


    Still, things are interesting and… I think this chapter has the important purpose of dissipating two little questions:


    What is Raven doing and will she have some relevance even after the ‘Lady in Red’ arc? (Which is yes).


    And is Sallie a baddie in disguise or not? Which I think I answered it pretty clearly and-


    I might have left some mistakes. I will probably go back at them tomorrow when I will be awake.


    While I do enjoy CasGil I don’t want to die the way he died.


    Death by working myself to the bone at 22 is quite tragic (of course this is a strange joke jabbing at my workaholic attitude over writing).


    P.S. I’ve also started a glorious reworking of some of my old Fate stories similar to what I’m doing with Fate Player Online. I’m starting with Tales of Two King, a FSN medieval story set to have a glorious take over the happenings of Fate’s Britain!
     
  23. Threadmarks: White Noise over the Past's Shadows (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    I didn't do it for YOU or anything! ” – Standard Tsundere Quote


    Chapter 20: White Noise over the Past’s Shadows (3)


    ~Sienna’s POV~


    A cold shower proved to be more than enough to get the uneasy stress gone from her tense mind.


    Sienna was still unsure about what had just happened back in the bed, and how and when Raven had decided to infiltrate that ‘high-security’ room for the sake of… resting.


    It was odd to imagine that the infamous rogue huntress would have truly needed to have some time off from her family considering how many years she had missed that kind of duties.


    Then again, there was also the fact that it was a new experience altogether and… this very point sounded so infuriatingly true in her mind.


    The Tiger Faunus was young, just a little bit older than the annoying human that had slept beside her, but still far too ‘early’ in understanding the complex nature of motherhood.


    Her childhood was already blurry as it was during her first few years of live and the first image of ‘mother’ that she could found was… a blur.


    Just like the rest of faces back in that tumultuous time.


    It was a sad thought to have in her mind every time she ended up pondering over it, but one that didn’t exactly put her in a state of true emotional distress.


    It was static to her and… that wasn’t important.


    Instead she settled with some tidbits coming from John’s lips over the predicament that had led the Branwen to seek some brief asylum from her family.


    After sleeping for a mere two hours, the dark-haired woman was quick to take her leave through one of her portals.


    Yet today wasn’t going to be a peaceful one as Sienna had wanted it to be, at least to recover from her growing state of restless she was having during this stay here in Atlas.


    Albeit there was no formal event that she was supposed to take part, the moment she stepped outside with a quiet John on tow, the Tiger Faunus was stopped by a young officer wearing helmet and military armor.


    “Ms. Khan, General Ironwood requested your presence and wishes to speak with you about some situation about foreign relations,” The man stated after a quick salute. “He sounded insistent about it.”


    The singular comment from the polite soldier wasn’t missed by both individuals and the woman merely nodded back at the officer as she started to lead towards where Ironwood’s officer was.


    Despite her interest in not meddling too much with Atlas’ inner politics, especially with how fragile things were after the pseudo-trial she had to go through with and… then there was the little ramifications caused by John’s recent actions.


    There had been just a few rumors of people taking a shine for the only human in the White Fang.


    Not only it gave them a factual perception that that there were humans that were actually caring for their plight, but that John was genuinely the one sporting this much concern in front of the cameras.


    A single young man, with little known background and an interest in true equality, had bested Jacques Schnee, a symbol of oppression to Faunus, in what was going to pass an historical event.


    And Sienna couldn’t deny that there was also a strong support coming from the local community to her excellent work and peaceful resolution.


    It was odd that going for such a moderate, and seemingly-hollow, victory could gain so much positive feedback by the Faunus here in Atlas.


    Maybe the situation was bad enough that anything at this point was considered a miracle.


    The only miracle that she was aware of was that none of the repressed Faunus had decided to migrate away from the capital because of how Menagerie had dealt with this Schnee Blunder.


    The real issue about that development would have been about space since the island wasn’t ready to accommodate too many people at once, especially a large exodus from Atlas.


    But that was a bad thought to deal with on a moment of peace as now… she had to deal with this new issue.


    The moment she entered the office assigned to the General, her sight was captured by the scene stopping with her intrusion.


    The high officer was staring coldly at the man leaning towards him by the desk, the slimmer figure holding a soft growl while glaring at Ironwood.


    His name was ‘Watts’ something and, the moment she made way for her human colleague to enter inside the room and see for himself what was going on, the enraged man seemed to show surprise as… he simmered down his rage to interact with John.


    “Mr. Bukharin, it’s good to see that you have recovered,” The mustached figure greeted with a friendly tone, to which the younger man smiled and nodded.


    “Arthur, I see that you have yet to be detained,” The fellow human mused with a fascinated voice. “I can see General Ironwood ready haul you to jail.”


    A snort left the doctor’s lips. “Oh, but there is nothing wrong in making a legitimate request to leave Atlas!


    Watts stared again at the commander of the garrison with a heated stare, but the Tiger Faunus blinked at the comment.


    Leaving Atlas? And to go where?


    “You are still under investigation for the illegal experimentation you have been doing for-”


    “There is no tangible proof of such a ludicrous statement, General, and until there has been a sudden change with the national laws, I’m still considered free to do-”


    “Nothing until the investigations are properly completed,” James interjected with a tired sigh. “There is a procedure, Dr. Watts.”


    “And there is something like ‘factual proof’ that I’ve yet to see for warranting those ‘investigations, General,” Arthur retorted with a hum. “My lawyer has already dismissed the incredible claims made by some of those charlatans-”


    “Charlatans that are esteemed members of the High Atlesian Science Council. Their words carry some weight and-”


    “Wouldn’t they still have to advance some serious proof about these life-changing claims?” John inquired quietly, blinking at Ironwood as the General looked to glance at him. “I mean, since their core role as scientists is to support thesis through facts, where is the evidence for Mr. Watts’ misdeeds?”


    “From my understanding, General,” Sienna decided to join in the discussion, fascinated by the young man’s sudden interest over the subject. “There isn’t actually a reason to restrict this man from actually deciding to leave Atlas if he wishes so.”


    The military officer bit down a groan as Watts sported a gleeful and smug expression on his face, but he sighed.


    “There are clauses from your contracts that-”


    “Force me to not divulge none of the secrets I’ve learned about Atlas’ projects,” Arthur continued with a giddy voice. “Yet the problem with that troublesome detail is that my contract was nullified by the Council before being fired. As much as I’m concerned I’m free to do whatever I want.”


    James tensed up at this revelation, his eyes widening a fraction at that reply.


    “Can this be proved?”


    “Transcript 135843, comma D,” The scientist answered with a nod. “It’s part of the judgment passed after the final evaluation that saw me expelled from the council. The councilmen had carefully detailed the full extent of their actions and those aren’t unchangeable.”





    Ironwood sighed at this and glanced at John with a drained look. “It would seem like there is no mean to hold Dr. Watts from pursuing a citizenship for Menagerie.”


    Sienna would have normally exclaimed loudly at that, but it was far too early in the morning for her mind to allow this.


    Plus she was suspecting that this reaction was expected as the young man beside her turning to look at her with a sheepish look that was cut short with a glare.


    “Explain now.”


    It wasn’t a question, it was a demand. At this point, some pressure was more than needed to pull out some proper answers out of John.


    He was compliant to her queries, but he was also quick to restrain himself from giving too much of everything.


    It was as if he was afraid of giving up so much and… that was mostly-understandable considering his known-background.


    “I might have suggested to Arthur that Menagerie wouldn’t refuse to accept a scientist of his caliber.”


    Her frown darkened at that answer, but before she could press for more, the mustached man piped in.


    “I will not request any absurd wage, I just wish to have some freedom and guarantees as a researcher.”


    “This kind of offer should be presented to the Chieftain, Doctor,” The woman said with a sigh. “He is the one responsible for the internal affairs and I’m just a diplomat.”


    “A diplomat with the means to contact the Chieftain,” The man shot back politely. “Thus I should first ask you for permission to seek an audience with the leader of Menagerie.”


    ‘He knows how to move with his words. Now I can see why John would be interesting in this… mad scientist.’


    But would it be convenient to have someone else, especially if this was a normal human, to return to Menagerie without a proper check of his background?


    While John proved to be a good individual, he was also quite unruly when he found someone that was worth to interact with one way or another.


    He seemed so… careless, but in an incredibly resolute way that left her quite floored at his actions.


    Not that she couldn’t react to it, but rather the calculated reactions from hers were expected and somewhat countered by whatever he was thinking in that very moment.


    Improvisation was something that John was unknowingly good at, despite how much he tried to appear more as a mastermind.


    He was a good planner, but his true talent was his capacity of play the roles he is assigned in the best way possibly and… it somewhat frightened her.


    Sienna had met people like John in the past, ready to serve their country to the very end and sometimes taking sacrifices upon themselves for the sake of a ‘Greater Good’.


    So instead of granting to the young man a complete victory, the Tiger Faunus decided it was high time to show some little restrictions now that she could.


    Her closest hand reached for his left ear and, keeping a calm but incredibly annoyed composure, Sienna decided to pull it.


    A yelp was drowned within his mouth, but the young man snapped in quick panic at that action.


    With his eyes widening at the situation, John frowned at her, inquiring in quite the irritated way to let him go.


    Sadly for him, this wasn’t her plan.


    “General Ironwood, I suppose this meeting is over,” The woman mused quietly at the officer, James looking at the scene with a curious but partly-elated glint in his eyes.


    The Atlesian man didn’t reply vocally, but he gave her a nod as to gesture them that they were allowed to leave.


    Watts followed silently, his stare fixed at the unique scene developing in front of him as soon as the now-trio left the room and proceeded to walk away from the annoyed military officer.


    “Sienna, you can let go-”


    “I can, but should I do this after the recent actions you just did, John?” The Tiger Faunus interceded with a bored look. “I think you’ve been left wandering around without my attention for far too long. Maybe it’s time to restore some restrictions and rule from when we first met up.”


    The young man blinked at this. “What are you going to do? Put me on a leash?”


    What an ironic thought, the tanned woman hummed mirthfully as she imagined the scene.


    A human being leashed by a Faunus? For some reason she felt ready to burst a giggle or two at that mere thought.


    But then again, her amused trail of thoughts perished in a horrible fire the moment she remembered some stories Kali had told her about her early romantic escapades with Ghira.


    Okay, first we find a place where to get some proper tools to deal with John and then I find some bleach to clean up that whole mess of a thought.


    ------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----


    ~John’s POV~


    I was starting to get tired of being manhandled by Sienna.


    Being dragged around the streets of Atlas for Gods knows why, I felt my ear starting to burn a little at the grasp exerted by the Faunus and I was twitching in brief irritation at the continued punishment I was suffering even now.


    Seriously, I can understand that I might have been a little hasty in the last few days, that I might have left some strange impressions with how I dealt with some of my good deeds I’ve accomplished, but to be left to face this kind of pressure was just-


    [Correct.]


    Yes- Wait, no! What are you talking about?


    [While I don’t want to sound insensitive over your own feelings about the topic, I can see why she would want to keep a closer eye on you.]


    Nonsense! I might have exceeded once or twice in the recent past but-


    [Your actions have brought you self-harm and you have come close to lose a hand during that situation at the park.]


    Indeed, John should be a little more mindful about-


    [I remember a certain ‘young man’ that was keen to jump at every danger. In fact, I think his name was… Ozma?]


    The only reason why I decided to pry in this conversation was because we can’t have a reckless host!


    [And I’m making sure that he doesn’t end up to become as clueless and danger-prone as you were back before… you passed away.]


    There were some motivations that led me to take blunter approaches compared to your careful efforts- And I refuse to even continue this conversation. It’s the young man that is to be subjected to this.


    Meh, I’m fine here. Please, Sallie, grill him a little more.


    [Oh, but I will grill you first, John.]


    I held back a groan at that rebuttal and I blinked around as I continued to be dragged around Atlas.


    Can’t I just try to make peace and-


    [There is no war to make peace about. She isn’t angry at you but, rather, I think she is trying to make sure you don’t trip in more trouble without her knowledge.]


    That sounds incredibly wrong from a moral standpoint.


    Indeed.


    ...Aren’t you the one that had- Actually, I think your ‘past self’ still has full control of Vale’s security system.


    That is inconsequential-


    [Dear, I’ve to ask out of concern, but did you perhaps spy around on people that weren’t your students?]


    What? Why would I do that when-


    Wait, so you mean you were truly clueless about what was supposed to happen at the docks when the White Fang and Torchwick were caught working together by RWBY?


    There are instances where I stumble over some important crimes in the making, which would end up with me dispatching the proper force necessary to deal with those. But no, I wasn’t aware of the alliance lurking during that occasion.


    [But what about Ms. Fall? Wasn’t Headmaster Lionheart supposed to have sent you a list of his students?]


    I thought he did. A pity that someone had managed to hack into Haven’s registry and send me a fake message.


    ...About that. You know that Lionheart was… Salem’s spy, right?


    That sounds- wait, is this about the knowledge you have about the world? You mean that you have proof that-


    He caved in the moment she put pressure on him. When you planned to converge RWBY and what was left of JNPR to Haven with Qrow and your newest host, Leonardo had sent several huntsmen to die in planned Grimm ambushes while he tended a trap with Cinder and her goons.


    That’s impossible! I trust Lionheart to-


    Salem also had Hazel Rainart sent to face you. You know, the guy you wronged by not making sure that his sister was ready for initiation-


    There is a proper documentation required for every student to present before being selected. Ms. Rainart had not only given a prodigious file about her abilities, but I was also given a recommendation from the headmistress of the school she had studied by.


    Wait, you mean that it wasn’t really your fault?


    We take under consideration the safety of students despite how lenient the staff might sound to be and-


    But what about Jaune?


    What about Mr. Arc?


    He had falsified documents!


    But I was given certainty of his capacities by his father.


    But- Wait, what?


    I suppose you are unaware that the first thing I did when I first was presented with those documents was contact Mr. Arc’s father about the matter and… much to my immense surprise, the man just give a recommendation for his son’s abilities in studying at Beacon.


    I was partially stunned by this revelation as… that would actually make some sense.


    While I could see Ozpin being lax over some of the school’s standards, there was no way for someone as methodical to just ignore the fact one of his students had managed to infiltrate Beacon without proper preparation.


    But what if Jaune did have ‘some’ preparation? What if he had trained, at least a little bit, to get some basis done?


    I mean, he did show to be capable of slaying Grimm pretty well despite the initial shock that might have come during the first engagement.


    Maybe he did fight Grimm with his father, or maybe he had seen his parents fight.


    So much was just ignored about the young man…


    [While I would be interested in seeing where you two are trying to end up with this discussion… I think Sienna brought you somewhere.]


    I blinked in surprise when I actually noticed that we were in fact entering what looked to be a shop.


    Inside there were only two individuals talking to each other, both elders, a man and a woman, that were sharing some simple conversation.


    Arthur took a brief lead as he glanced at the scene and smiled curtly. “If it isn’t Dr. Polendina.”


    The hat-wearing tanned man turned to look at the mustached fellow, his eyes widening in surprise but a calm smile appearing on his face.


    “Arthur Watts, my former student.”


    As the two approached each other, with the unknown individual moving through some complex wheelchair with… legs, I took notice of the elder’s surname and blinked again.


    So this is Penny’s father?


    Pietro Geppetto Polendina. He is one of the finest minds in Atlas.


    Wait, you know him?


    We have shared some conversations in the past, especially when Ms. Polendina was first received at Beacon Academy for the Vytal Festival.


    And why a legchair?


    What?


    A wheelchair with legs. That’s a legchair.


    Some minor disability from an experiment gone wrong, nothing truly life-changing but he has a noticeable limp.


    “And I see you’ve brought some people here,” The older scientist commented with a bright smile. “Ms. Sienna Khan and Mr. John Bukharin.”


    The Tiger Faunus finally let go of my ear and I rushed to nurse it up.


    “And you are Doctor Polendina,” The young woman commented back. “Arthur explained to me that you are capable of creating tools that can be used by civilians in record time for the right price.”


    “Oh, it’s nothing special,” The balding man replied humbly while scratching his head. “But yes, I would be capable of doing something like that.”


    Sienna nodded, sporting a small smile as she prepared to make whatever request she planned to make-


    “I would like to have something to keep track of him,” She finally said with a resolute tone. “A device to keep constant sight over where he is going.”





    “I think that’s quite and exaggeration-”


    “I’ve been pondering about this for some time now, but while it sounds ‘excessive’ I took in consideration the fact that you tend to run straight into the danger,” The Tiger Faunus explained, ignoring my comment. “If I know where you are, I can make sure that you receive support and don’t do anything even so remotely stupid.”


    I frowned at that. “It’s not like tha-”


    “Ah, whipped.”





    [An unexpected comment, but a pleasant one for sure.]


    My lips closed tightly as I glanced around to find whom had decided to deliver such a comment.


    It was the old woman the scientist had been talking to, which was now staring at me.


    Her skin was a tan lighter than Dr. Polendina, and her silver hair were wore in a single braid.


    She was wearing a dark-blue dress with white details, and she had a staff lying on the table she had been sitting by.


    She was also incredibly short, making her appear like the Remnant version of Yoda, and I felt like this comparison didn’t stop just to that ‘height’ comment.


    “Not truly, no,” I replied mirthfully and… I stared at her ‘eyes’. She was wearing what appeared to be some mechanical glasses which had some blue led that changed its intensity to simulate the appearance of… eyes.


    “Forgive me if I ask, but isn’t that young woman trying to get some mean to watch over what you are doing from now on?” The pint-sized lady pointed out quietly. “Isn’t that a clear sign of a very complicated relationship for a couple?”


    “W-We are not like that,” Sienna muttered nervously and I gave a mere nod while I continued to stare at the midget with an irritated glint.


    Seriously, what is this sassy individual?


    “A pity, you both look to fit well together,” The old woman replied with a sigh before tilting her head to the side and nodding. “Yes, I can see it working well for the two of you.”


    [I like her.]


    Of course you would.


    [She is not wrong.]


    She is surely senile.


    “Who are you?” I asked with incredible annoyance in my voice.


    She shrugged. “Someone.”


    “I can see that, yes,” I pressed on. “But what is your name?”


    The old woman smiled a little and sighed. “I guess you are trying your best to appear the most polite possible.”


    I snorted at her comment, but she wasn’t done yet.


    “Yo soy la Parca, joven,” She muttered quietly, causing me to stare at her with wide eyes as I recognized what she was saying.


    Yet she didn’t waste time in waiting for me to reply, as she glanced back at the shop-owner while standing up from her seat.


    “I think I will be going for now, Pietro. I’ve things to do and the walk back home will be a long one for me.”


    The scientist nodded slowly at her and sighed. “Make sure to not break the device again, Maria.”


    ‘Maria’ merely snorted at the comment while continuing with her walk, but just as she prepared to leave, I finally reacted.


    “Es un placer conocerte, Maria.”


    The short woman tensed up, surprise shaking her a little as she glanced back and give me a long ‘wide-eyed’ stare.


    Then she blinked and eased a little bit before finally leaving.


    “What an interesting youngster,” She half-whispered before closing the door behind herself once she was out of the shop, leaving me to face what was going to be quite the annoying debacle to-


    Click.


    Uh?


    I felt something heavy on my left hand and I turned to stare what had just been put by my wrist.


    It looked like a watch. A very heavy, tightly-latched watch that was now on my wrist and… Sienna was looking at me with a devious smile while holding what looked to be a transparent device.


    It would seem like the old lady was correct, John.


    [If only we had something like this back in our Era, Ozma.]


    ...


    “The little tool that Mr. Bukharin is now wearing is a special object that will keep track of his movements in the digital map you are currently holding Ms. Khan,” Dr. Polendina started to explain. “The map itself contains a highly-detailed planimetry of Atlas and Mantle, and its main purpose is to perfectly keep signaling the presence of Mr. Bukharin in its radius.”





    “You know, when I meant you getting me a leash, I wasn’t being serious,” I pointed out dryly. “That’s called sarcasm.”


    “You know, when you end up getting in so many troublesome moments so frequently, it’s not you being chased by trouble itself,” The woman retorted with the same dry tone. “It’s you trying to make the worst decision possible after finding yourself chased by trouble itself.”


    I frowned at that, but held back from rebutting that jab.


    I felt that something was off about her current reaction, it was way beyond the stuff I was usually accustomed to.


    I’ve spent time trying to understand her, trying to keep myself in her good sides… but now Sienna sounded like she had purposely changed tactics around me.


    It was like she was-


    [Throwing a hint at you? Slapping you for attention? Maybe even trying to make a point?]


    The more I listen to this, the more I feel like this isn’t it.


    Indeed. It’s possible that Ms. Khan is just showing some friendly concerns over John’s wellbeing. Which is good considering how many horrible things happened to him until now.


    I don’t know if I should be feeling worried or not that Ozpin is supporting me about this.


    “It will be just for the time we will spend here in Atlas,” Sienna resumed with a calmer voice. “I wouldn’t put it beyond Jacques that he might try to do something about the loss you have given him.”


    I blinked at that and gave her a nod. “I almost forgot that-”


    “He is a scumbag that will resort to kill his opponents?” She pressed on with a sigh. “I thought that you would have know because-”


    “I think I will sleep in the couch today,” I interjected calmly, glancing at Watts as he was the one that was actually paying for the transaction.


    Wait, did Sienna just accept that as a bribe?


    [What is a bribe to a maiden’s attempt at being recognized?]


    Nothing. And that is why it’s worrying.


    [Oh, shut up!]


    I could see the Tiger Faunus tensing up a little at my comment from the edge of my sight, her jaws dropping briefly before she looked a little… irritated by my words.


    “Okay.”


    Just that. ‘Okay’. No efforts to oppose my decision or-


    “Sadly, you are still recovering from the yesterday’s situation,” She promptly continued with a serious voice. “So I will have to keep a close eye on you for the time being.”





    What?


    [Do you need more proof about this?]


    Y-You heard her. It’s just to check up and make sure I didn’t hurt myself anymore.





    Yet, I couldn’t help but feel like things were more than they looked to be. But why?


    --------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d--------


    AN


    I’ve so many things to say! But I will be quick!


    So, I’ve started the Rework of Fate/Last Heaven. Imagine a Sassy OC with a unique Assassin trying his best to survive the Fifth Holy Grail War and… what is this? A possible Illya Route?


    And… I’ve started the rewrite of Magical Trickster DxD. Yes, in the end I crumbled over the fact I couldn’t keep up with that messy story, no matter how big it was.


    Hopefully, the rewrite will not receive any pressure and I will be able to give it a proper pace instead of rushing things up.
     
  24. Ramuthra

    Ramuthra Dabbler

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    There's only one correct response to this scenario.

    Kiss her on the cheek, and say "Thank you dear, I love it."
     
    Yeetboi and JBukharin like this.
  25. Threadmarks: White Noise over the Past's Shadows (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    The only one who can decide your worth... is you. If you want to earn something, you need to reach out for it. Pro-athletes give up their teenage years to train. Business owners put up collateral to borrow money. That’s how it always works. To make your ambitions come true, you have to take risks. The larger the ambition the greater the risk. That might involve time or enough work to affect your lifespan… So make your choice. Live in peace as a wannabe or risk losing it all to reach the very top. You’re the one who needs to decide. ” – Yumeko Jabami, Kakegurui


    Chapter 21: White Noise over the Past’s Shadows (4)


    ~John’s POV~


    A full day passed in Atlas. A day lacking any signs of uneventfulness, danger, or even anything positive on my part.


    Only a strange sense of calm that only bringing the worst sense of uneasiness over my current predicament.


    After spending so much time in Remnant, especially with how certain events around me have gone, I was outright unsure over long periods of time that just saw me pondering over the recent circumstances.


    And with the fact that the meetings with Ironwood were proving to be fairly easy to go by without causing any major diplomatic incident between the Kingdom and Menagerie, I was given plenty of chances to contemplate about my current problem.


    It was the greatest issue I had to face yet, and one that was both expensive and annoying to ignore in most of circumstances. The very thing that was now tightly-attached to my wrist.


    It was heavy, not truly much of a hindrance or something that limited my capacity to move my arm, but I was starting to get incensed by the sensation of having something this ‘metallic’ and cumbersome on me.


    I held myself from whining about this dreadful novelty near to Sienna, as I was pretty sure that she had been quite ‘clear’ with her motivations for this dumb limitation I was now forced to deal with.


    While I had to admit that punching an Anti-Aura Blade right on its edge and wandering with the barest minimum of guards around an area in the capital that was filled with quite the assortment of criminals were things that just sounded so dumb for a sane person to go through in a merry mood, I wasn’t wrong in believing that every risk had a chance of rewards.


    I understood her message clearly, yet this restriction was both an issue for me and for those that I might end up encountering here in Atlas.


    I was sure that I was going to met more people along the way, perhaps individuals that could seriously screw with Salem’s recruitment campaign and weaken her means to strike around without any hesitation.


    Still, I was quite surprised when Sienna had not forbidden me to make some ‘solo’ walks around the city while she was busy with some of her final bits of her diplomatic job, mentioning that I wasn’t a prisoner to anyone here, but still pointing out that she would have been aware of any danger if things went south during any of those strolls.


    I had to also accept General Ironwood’s impos-request of accepting another member to my escort squad, to further bolster my chances of not getting mugged or killed during any of my trips around the capital.


    I didn’t mind having to deal with another soldier to keep an extra eye on me, but I soon realized that things were far from my first expectations of this newcomer.


    Especially because of his peculiar choice of weapon and… his Semblance.


    This new guy was capable of not only nullifying my efforts to move around in case of anything suspicious, but he was also good at outright screwing with my lucky/unlucky streaks with his bullshit ability.


    Specialist Clover Ebi was a tall, brown-haired young man with green eyes. He was pretty bulky, but just enough to keep up with the usual frames of the guards.


    The young man was friendly, his tone sounding incredibly genuine when trying to inquire about my current health and safety… but goddamn, why he was assigned to me and not to a task that could make best use of his unfairly good ability.


    Good Luck. I was walking around with some glorified Lucky Charm that was meant to keep me away from trouble.


    And it was working way too well!


    But while I was quite irritated by this good, but also bad predicament, a single thought had fully materialized within my mind and… I couldn’t just ignore it.


    Seriously, why didn’t Ironwood pick this guy to join the defense force when he came for the Vytal Tournament?!


    I had heard of someone having a Semblance the opposite of what Qrow has, but to think that he would have been among the higher ranks and within James’ circle? Of that I was quite unaware about.


    So he just… didn’t tell you?


    While James and I share a strong sense of justice and a need to eradicate the Grimm’s menace, he can become quite tight-lipped when discussing of anything or anyone that could be regarded as an important secret for Atlas’ supremacy.


    [So he decided to limit Atlas’ presence in Vale… to not make his nation appear too weak?]


    Painting that circumstance in such light is… partly-correct, yes. But I would like to also bring up the fact that James was restrained by some absolute orders from the Council, from having the Tournament’s force to be just sufficient enough to sustain multiple low-level Grimm assaults… to have Ms. Polendina fight without surrendering during Vytal.


    Wait, what?! You mean that Penny’s death-


    Was something that James had expressed sorrow about mere moments it had happened. He had tried to wrestle about this very point when the fight against Ms. Nikos was announced, but the representative of the Atlesian Council proved to be quite adamant in not making Ms. Polendina yield the match.


    ...That was a big epic fail now that I learned about it. But to think that it hadn’t been a screw-up from Ironwood, and one of the Council here in Atlas? I was left with a mix of irritation, confusion and-


    “Is everything alright sir?”


    I was brought back to reality by the query leaving Clover’s mouth, my eyes blinking in brief realization as I turned to look at the young man.


    “Peachy, Clover,” I muttered quietly as I took a sigh, staring away from the concerned look on his face. “Just pondering over the fact why dumb people are those that make important decisions in most occasions.”


    Blinking at my words, the Specialist seemed to be a little surprised by my response, but he sobered up pretty quickly as he spoke once more.


    “Sir, you were talking about someone with… a bad luck Semblance?”


    The mere mentioning of this brought me back on the discussion’s tracks as I nodded with a small smile.


    “Oh right,” I hummed quietly. “There is this guy in Vale that got some really bad luck. I was thinking if you know anything that could heighten his Semblance’s effect, perhaps some lucky charms to-”


    “Truth be told, sir, I don’t think a Bad Luck Semblance can be influenced by superstitious objects,” The Huntsman admitted quickly, interrupting me. “But I will surely give it some attention considering the fact that I had always wanted to see someone with the opposite of my Semblance.”


    I nodded. “So you want a phone number or-”


    “It will have to wait for a while, to be fair, sir,” he interrupted again. “I still have to deal with your protection, and I can’t give precious attention about it this away so suddenly and without thinking about it.”


    “I suppose that’s a fair point,” I admitted with a huff. “Still, I’ve to warn you that he is quite the drinker.”


    The Specialist blinked, showing a little bit of uneasiness at the matter. “How much is ‘quite the drinker’, sir?”


    I didn’t reply quickly at that, finding myself surprised at the fact that I didn’t exactly have a ‘proper answer’ to that.


    Sure, Qrow was a heavy drinker in the series but…


    Did Qrow’s beer addiction worsen up when Summer died in the previous timeline or was his pacing over it always like that?


    I would say that Qrow didn’t like to drink that much before Ms. Rose perished, but I think I can easily mention that both him and his sister are quite attached to alcohol, with Raven being the one that enjoy it the most.


    I suppose this is referencing to the fact that her logical mind can survive that much booze.


    Perhaps. I never inquired about this habit of hers, never found a reason to.


    [Did she perhaps made a point where she didn’t want to talk with you in general, Ozma? I think that would fit well with her personality.]


    Despite what my insistence about having Raven brought back to our side might have alluded about, I am not someone that keen to know ‘everything’ about my former students and allies.


    And I deduce from this defense that you have the same mindset about Ironwood.


    I... I do, yes. He is capable of making good decisions most of the time.


    Before I could have indulged some more about this little opening in Ozpin’s shell, my attention was taken away by loud footsteps and someone crashing onto my legs, causing me to almost trip back.


    “S-Sorry a-and!” The feminine voice sounded incredibly uneasy, but just as I glanced down to see what just slammed into me, I found only orange lighting moving around me and settling behind me as-


    More footsteps, this time I turned to look at the approaching figure and… I blinked at the curious state of this young woman that was now standing in front of us.


    The girl had light-blond hair that were tied in a ponytail, her tanned complex contrasted by her vibrant violet eyes. She was wearing a sleeveless dark-brown robe that reached down to her armored black boots.


    “Sorry to disturb you both but did you see a- a...” The young woman blurted out quickly in the heat of the moment, freezing up with her eyes going wide as she noticed the man standing beside me. “S-Specialist Ebi, didn’t expect you to-”


    “At ease, Ms. Hill,” The Specialist interjected politely, a small smile on his face. “Please, state what is the reason that see you chasing… something?”


    The young woman nodded, her posture easing up a little bit at the man’s words.


    “I was dealing with a mission with my team. We were supposed to make a proper presentation for Atlas Academy to the pre-Combat school,” The girl started to explain. “Then one of the students ran from the classroom and from the school, thus I decided to quickly give chase and-”


    “You ended up here,” I interrupted with a nod, the huntress finally taking notice of my presence too, her posture tensing up a little in recognition.


    “Mr. Bukharin, I didn’t think that-”


    “Fret not, Ms. Hill,” I interjected the clearly nervous outburst. “I understand that you’re still dealing with a pursuit.”


    The reminder did well to make her already-wide eyes to open up even more at my words.


    “I- Yes, I- Did you see… a young girl, around ten and… with blonde-brown hair? She was using her semblance, a speed-augmenting one.”


    I blinked at the questions, my focus moving a little bit away as I felt a pair of small hands grasp at my shirt from behind, feeling quite the tension from the newly-revealed cause for my prevented stumbling.


    “It’s unique for a child of her age to be able to use her Semblance this early,” Clover pointed out with a hint of awe. “I genuinely hope everything is alright. I’m still confused as to why the girl would need to be using it so suddenly and without any major reason.”


    The huntress appeared a little nervous, but shook her head.


    “Nothing happened in that classroom, Specialist Ebi,” She stated curtly. “But I guess you’ve seen nothing about the child. I will be going now instead of disturbing you any longer.”


    “Then please, return to your task, Ms. Hill,” The Specialist replied swiftly, the woman didn’t spare any other glances at us as she quickly rushed away to one of the streets to the side.


    Silence persisted for a little longer, but soon the tight grip over my shirt lessened and the child slowly walked around and stopped in front of us.


    Staring up right onto my face, I studied the quiet girl’s looks.


    The young student had short dark-brown hair with a frontal section that was a platinum-blonde, her tanned skin a little darker than the huntress that had just left our sights and… she had some curious dark-pink eyes.


    She was wearing a light-blue shirt and a pair of dark jeans.


    “Hello,” I finally spoke up, gaining her attention once more back to reality. An uneasy smile forming on her face to try and match up with my calm, but kind one.


    “Hi,” It wasn’t a truly shy response, but rather one of awkwardness that I felt accustomed about.


    “It seems like you got quite in some trouble, young lady,” Clover mused with a patient tone, drawing her glance at him. The child looked even more nervous at that comment and I sighed.


    “I think there is more to this than what Ms. Hill told us, especially with someone that has stopped running now,” I muttered back with a nod, getting a surprised look out of the curious girl. “By the way, I’m John Bukharin, a diplomat, and this here is Specialist Clover Ebi.”


    At hearing the introduction, the tanned girl nodded slowly.


    “Nice to meet you… I’m Harriet, Harriet Bree and...” She paused a little in her own reply and then she resumed with a braver look on her face. “And I want to become a Huntress!”


    The loud conclusion lifted some surprise onto my face at that little proclamation.


    I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up becoming a Specialist if she goes along this path.


    [She seems to be quite swift with her Semblance. Her Control is admirable.]


    The praises were restricted within my mind and the girl looking fairly nervous as we didn’t react at her final bit, but then I decided to give her a solid nod and smiled even more at that determined sentence.


    “That’s a big dream… I suppose with your Semblance you will surely make it.”


    Harriet looked surprised, her jaws dropping low at the comment.


    “W-Wait, you aren’t going to tell me that… it’s not possible?”


    And why not? She doesn’t seem to have any problems that could hinder at that opportunity.


    I frowned at her shock, but before I had the chance of inquire about this sudden rebuttal, it was Clover to ask about it.


    “I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to,” The Specialist mused with a confused look. “You seem to be healthy, your Semblance is incredibly useful and… is there a reason for you to think that you can’t?”


    Despite the praise, the student kept quiet for some time, her eyes darting away from making direct confrontation for some time as I tried to understand what might have caused that kind of perception to stick by the girl’s mind.


    The first thing that I shot down as a possible cause was racism.


    While there are Faunus that do have some ‘hidden’ animal features in their bodies, there were still some telling signs of any declination of that kind.


    The girl did seem to be lacking any of these signs, her only curious detail being the blond-platinum part of her hair.


    Then I shifted to the possibility that her parents were poor or anything like that, but I was quite sure that this very notion wouldn’t generate any impact over the chances of someone to join a Combat School.


    People needed warriors, and class-based restrictions for Hunters weren’t a thing even here in Atlas.


    I continued to ponder over this curious development, failing to grasp at what might have created this predisposition within the child to think as such.


    [For a ten years-old girl, she is quite short.]


    That’s actually… a fair point.


    That is not a ‘fair point’, John. I’m aware that you know that there are Hunters that have heights below average-


    I wasn’t referring about school’s requirements. I was referring about normal school.


    ...Care to elaborate?


    Harriet is a little bit shorter than someone her age should be, she is a girl, and she has low self-esteem. The ideal target for-


    Bullies. Now I can see where you are trying to go with this logic.


    It was the only logical conclusion, at least with what clues I could work with right now.


    But instead of keeping the silence going even now, and turning this predicament in quite the awkward scene for the girl to be part of, I crouched slowly so that I could have a level-headed conversation with her.


    The action immediately caught her attention, dark-pink eyes now fixing on my face as I sighed.


    “Harriet, you are going to become a Huntress if you want to,” I commented with conviction. “If you put forward the very determination you used with that comment against the challenges before you, it will be an easy win for you.”


    A frown adorned her face. “B-but-”


    “No butts, kid,” I hummed happily, her face gaining some color at the interjection while her lips twitched with some hints of amusement. “You will be able to do it if you truly want it.”


    Then I glanced up to Clover, the man staring back with a frown. “In fact, do you want to know why Specialist Ebi is here with me?”


    Because you are known to stupidly run into dangerous cases?


    [Because you are a man-child?]


    You are ruining the moment, you know?


    I turned to look back at Harriet, the girl giving me a curious look. “Well, I-”


    “Diplomat Bukharin has repeatedly gone headfirst in dangerous situations that put his safety in jeopardy,” The Specialist explained over my voice. “But while his actions are to be considered foolish because of his lack of Aura and Semblance, he did save lives by putting his own life on the line.”


    I snorted, the tanned girl alternating to stare at the two of us. “Specialist Ebi is kind of correct, I was quite reckless during these instances… but the final result, to avoid people to get hurt while kicking some baddies’ butts was what truly mattered in the end.”


    “So… I should still try because… I want to,” Harriet tried to summarize slowly and quietly. “And not listen to-”


    “The kids that are bullying you?” I concluded for her, and her jaws dropped at my sigh as I nodded at her silent queries about what just happened in the conversation. “I can recognize the actions of some dummies. And… I think they are just envious of the potential you have.”


    She sighed. “But I’m not special-”


    “Nope, you are not,” I replied quickly enough, causing her to pause as I continued. “You are just Harriet Bree, a young girl that wants to become a huntress. And I can already say that you will manage to get at Atlas Academy… but from there, it’s all up to you how you want to become a warrior for Humanity.”


    I stood up, humming quietly as I noticed Harriet now giving me a wide-eyed look, her face displaying a mix of awe, admiration and… realization.


    “So from now on, the next time you have someone that tells you that this dream will never happen, you ignore them,” I concluded with a final nod, patting her head. “Now, let’s see to have you escorted back to school before you-”


    “He-hem.”


    Clover was already look behind us while Harriet and I tensed up a little before glancing at the origin of that voice.


    Ms. Hill was staring at us with an annoyed look, her arms crossing by her chest as she contemplated the sight in front of her.


    “Specialist Ebi, Diplomat Bukharin, I suppose that this little scoundrel has been caught by you two.”


    I blinked at the term, noticing the immediate tension intensifying in the little girl’s body.


    “We had a discussion with Ms. Bree,” Clover admitted calmly while staring directly at the young woman. “And she will not face any punishment, nor detention for this instance.”


    The sincerity leaving the young huntress surprised. “W-What?”


    “Ms. Bree has sincerely apologized over what had happened, accepting to offer apologies where those are due while also promising to never consider committing this little chaos once again,” The young man replied seriously.


    “B-But sir-”


    “Also, I wish to remind you that there was a certain ‘scoundrel’ back at the Academy that did much worse than what Ms. Bree had done today,” The Specialist continued, ignoring the flinch coming from Ms. Hill.


    “I-… I understand, Sir,” The light-blonde woman conceded, taking a few steps toward us and taking hold of Harriet’s hand as she carefully started to walk away from the scene, leaving me perplexed and confused over Clover’s sudden vehemence at the situation.


    A couple of silent seconds passed as we were finally left alone once again in that street, but then I decided to inquire about this much to my tired state of mind.


    “So… what got you so much worked up for Harriet’s situation?” I asked politely, glancing at the Specialist with an inquisitive look. “I didn’t think you would have gotten this much emotional over it.”


    He blinked in surprise at the comment, but then he sighed.


    “I suppose that I drew some comparison with the stories I’ve heard of people that had been part of my team,” The man admitted quietly. “There have been some that had experienced this kind of senseless hindrances like Harriet has.”


    “Really?” I pressed on with a surprised look. “I didn’t expect Atlas to be this much-”


    “Despite Atlas’ reputation to have the greatest education system, we still have some flaws within it,” Clover interjected quickly and with an honest tone. “And these issues cause for our manpower to sometime have some weakened assets.”





    “I will keep an eye on the girl from now on,” The Specialist continued with renewed seriousness. “She does have plenty of potential to possibly surpass me.”


    I blinked at that follow-up and I started to hum at it. “That’s a tall expectation… but I guess your luck is going to make you successful about it-”


    “Good luck isn’t perfect luck, Mr. Bukharin,” He interrupted again with a sigh. “It can do so much before it actually ends up failing me in a serious battle.”


    I frowned at these, pondering over this discovery as I had expected him to be… nigh-impossible to kill.


    But considering how Qrow’s Semblance isn’t a 100% case of screw-ups, I could only guess that my early assumptions were unfounded and quite silly to even think about.


    Just like many other plans of yours.


    [Oh shush, it’s not like you can really talk about ‘that’.]


    I ignored the inner exchange as I smiled up at the Specialist and nodded at his legitimate comment.


    “I suppose I was wrong about that…” I mirthfully finished that conversation as we finally started to made our way back to the headquarters, my mind already setting up some plans to spend the rest of the day back to the shared room to recover from this draining meeting…


    But then, when we finally reached the building, I was met with quite the sudden development I wasn’t sure how to truly react to.





    Actually, I was pretty capable of reacting to it but true issue about it all was something connected to the fact that-


    Sienna… what do you mean we’ve been invited at the Schnee Manor for dinner?”


    -----------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d--------


    AN


    Remember kids, clean your hands, bitch-smack your bullies, and care for your dreams!


    And seriously, I can’t just get out of my mind the whole concept of Robyn having been quite the pest in her first year at Atlas Academy, perhaps as a Mantle native trying to get straight all the formalities in the school.


    So much potential for chaotic messes and…


    Harriet. Yep, I put her in this chapter and… no, she isn’t an orphan. It was never mentioned she was one and I couldn’t see any sign of her being one… so no, she isn’t getting adopted. (That doesn’t mean that she will never appear ever again, in fact she will have quite a couple of chapters dedicated to her in the distant future).


    And before anyone ask and makes some unneeded ship wars: This story will not see Clover x Qrow. Why? I’m not much into pandering (like not at all) and I’ve plans with them being Bros rather than Bfs.


    Next Arc (no pun intended as usual) will see some more action. We talking about some Action Movie (of the non-BS kind) stuff.
     
    Relyt33, Dracomaser, Yeetboi and 12 others like this.
  26. Threadmarks: Party Hardy (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    For a storyteller, an open ending leaves much room for imagination; for the inquisitive reader, however, it is a source of great anxiety.” – Joyce Rachelle


    Chapter 22: Party Hardy (1)


    ~Sienna’s POV~


    When she first received the notifications containing the invitation for dinner forwarded by Nicholas Schnee for that very day, Sienna had felt dread and… yep, just dread.


    There wasn’t nothing positive that could come from being invited to a private function hosted by the richest family in Remnant, especially if those were well correlated with the recent activities of the SDC about their workers’ conditions.


    The trial did well to open up her eyes over the overall situation within most of the factories, where racism surprisingly enough turned to be the least of the problems for anyone being hired by the representative of the company.


    It was another reason to be distrustful about the organization’s policies, something that should have seen her politely decline the sudden development appearing right on her Scroll.


    Perhaps she really should have done that, maybe she should have also called John before getting herself urged by her own concerns of not jeopardizing the entire diplomatic mission in accepting the formal message.


    And yet there was no space for her to regret and weep over her silly reactions over the matter, as now she was forced to deal with something far worse than she had initially thought.


    If there was something that was truly getting her to instantly hate her past self, it was the fact that now she had to try out some proper dresses for the dinner.


    It wasn’t going to be a public feast, yet it was underlined the necessity to have some proper clothes prepared for both herself and the trouble-seeking brunet.


    The young man had returned from his stroll unharmed, confirming the fact that having Specialist Ebi keeping an eye on him had been a good decision for Ironwood to take over this unnerving topic, and he was quick to pick a simple dark-colored tuxedo with a white shirt and dark-purple tie.


    It was so simple for him, yet the struggle for the Tiger Faunus proved to be far worse than she wanted.


    A tailor had been summoned by the General to help up with the task, the man mentioning that it was just for the betterment of Atlas-Menagerie’s relationship for her to be aided in that simple situation.


    It costed him very little to forward some assistance, and the abstract reward from this action wasn’t something that the young woman was keen to just ignore on the spot.


    Still, there wasn’t much for her to brush off all the support she could get in having this nuisance of a need fulfilled quickly and painlessly.


    Four hours flied by, and she finally settled for a simple rose-red sleeveless dress, and a pair of black heels.


    Sienna had to rebuke more than once the advice of adding something that could ‘exalt’ her natural features, with the tailor quickly trying to get her to fit something that would’ve work well with her Faunus attributes.


    A polite refusal was then followed by numerous curt ‘No’s directed at the insistent girl picked for the job, causing some huffs and disappointed looks to come from the paid worker.


    With just the dinner being a couple of hours away, the Tiger Faunus decided to spend this time by engaging in some calm discussion with John, hoping to get some entertainment and, if not, some distraction from her growing worries over literally walking in the dragon’s lair.


    While the invitation had been advanced by Nicholas, there wasn’t any doubt over the fact that Jacques was still going to be there.


    It was still an important dinner, one that would just aggravate the current state of displeasure created by his most recent actions.


    But perhaps she was underestimating the hatred that the businessman had started to develop after facing John and getting defeated on a political-diplomatic match.


    Both were silver-tongues, but the young man that just seemed so keen to eagerly at the first sign of danger was someone that gave much more interest over facts to support his thesis than heavy words to sustain it.


    It was quite odd to see John give little to no thoughts over the current matter, preferring to keep any topics correlated with the event pretty far from the discussion they both were engaging with.


    Perhaps he was just nervous over the matter himself and… he was keeping everything bottled up?


    Debatable.


    Sure, there were instance where the young man would outright keep the truth out of her reach, bringing up a need to keep everyone safe or just not mess the world too much.


    It was annoying to know that he was aware of so much about Remnant’s affairs, but she was terribly glad that he had sounded honest in mentioning that she knew just barely about her personality before meeting her.


    The future was uncertain, but he had been quick to bring reassurances over her current standing, drowning down any need from her to pester even more over this unique subject.


    But there was also a genuine release from the curious individual when dealing with situations he wasn’t much prepared about.


    Fright was an exaggeration, but there was no denying that he had shown some legitimate nervousness before some unpleasant instance.


    And now they were going to go in a situation he himself wasn’t much aware about, and he had been keen to point this out just as he had returned from his walk thorough the city.


    He was going in blind, unsure of what could’ve happened from that very situation, and yet he wasn’t showing much apprehension over the matter.


    Could it be that he had some contingencies ready in case of any escalations? A good guess, she thought positively about, but the situation was just too theoretical to actually have a proper glimpse over his pattern.


    Thus the Tiger Faunus waited for the proper opportunity to see where things were going to end up into from this very point.


    But while she had expected for the conversation to remain within common topics, the young man decided to make a small detour she couldn’t help but find interesting and worth of further explorations.


    “Are you sure about it?”


    “I’m certain of it,” Sienna confirmed calmly, her amber eyes staring curiously at the confused look on his face. “Why? Is this important?”


    “Possibly,” John admitted with some hesitation. “It could be. I don’t know,”


    “But what got you to ask about this?” She pressed on, unwilling to let the discussion to fall so suddenly and without a proper explanation. “I mean, you’re mentioning about a language that I’m sure it doesn’t exist in Remnant, and yet you feel like this question is worth to be asked.”


    “I’ve met someone that does seem to have some knowledge of it. Enough to speak it,” He replied with a nod. “But I don’t think it’s much important. She just seems to know about it-”


    “Is it from where you lived or-”


    “Someplace near to that, yes,” He interjected tensely, glancing around and looking for the possibility of any of the guards giving them some attention. “But it’s for the best to not continue this conversation now. I will explain you this once we’re done with the dinner.”


    She gave a nod at that promise, hoping for the conversation to now have some ‘easier’ topics to be brought up… and her hopes were dashed away when the young man rekindled the exchange of words.


    “By the way, are you feeling prepared for the dinner?” He inquired calmly, but putting no effort in hiding his fascination. “Isn’t this the first time you are-”


    “Yes,” The woman replied tightly, trying to keep down her irritation from influencing her words. “I think I will be fine.”


    Letting out a satisfied nod, he started to sport a mirthful smirk on his lips. “I’m glad to hear that. Then I’m sure you have that bouquet of flowers to offer to the kind host of the house when we go in there.”





    What?


    An alarm exploded in her head at the mentioning of this tradition, her eyes widening at what felt like the noise of glass cracking at that very instance.


    “You… a bouquet?”


    John didn’t reply at first, merely staring her down with a studious look and getting her even more worried about this circumstance.


    The sudden comment had unbalanced her certainty, throwing a massive wrench right into her gears as she tried her best to elaborate what she had just heard.


    Did she truly have to bring flowers to the Schnee family? Was this tradition something only known in Atlas?


    True, this was the first time she was forced to deal with something this much important.


    Her little experience was mostly a difficult remembrance of what she had gained from listening to Kali’s tales about the important dinners she had grown accustomed with by being the Chieftain’s daughter.


    But never she had heard the Cat Faunus mention anything even so closely related to the words leaving the young man’s mouth.


    Why a bouquet? Why to the Schnee Family of all people?


    Her mind was scrambling for something, anything, that could help her to keep up with the facade she had put to deal with John’s concerns and-


    “Hehehehe-” The young man’s soft chuckles were muffled even more as he pressed his hands hard on his lips to keep those shut, making her tense up again. But this time it wasn’t dreadful realization that got her this much uneasy… it was annoyance.


    Of course, the idiot had tricked her with a petty lie to see if she truly was aware of the traditions owned to this kind of events.


    He knew that it was her first time dealing with an important dinner, and he was so eagerly teasing her about it.


    “You… you are a jerk,” Sienna replied intelligently, drawing even more chuckles from the human with that response. “Is this your attempt at ‘coming back at me’?”


    “M-Maybe?” His lips twitched even more at that question, his words trembling in between the chuckles. “And wh-what if it was?”


    She glared at him, her eyes narrowing furiously as she prepared to retaliate as harshly as possible.


    The Faunus should’ve expected this much irritation from dealing with someone she had ‘scorned’ up until very recently.


    John wasn’t someone that just dropped any revenge, even one as small and insignificant as this one in particular was, just for the sake of showing some backbone in normal instances.


    “Then you’re going to have a harder time to-”


    His chuckles merely intensified from her irritation, turning into his rare genuine laugh that generally got everyone to pause for a couple of seconds.


    It was indeed an annoying development because… it was incredibly distracting.


    Her challenge crumbled behind her lips as her wide-eyed glance stared at the situation without much of a reaction at first, trying her best to keep at bay the need to smile back at that infectious and rambuctious chuckle.


    One of the guards around snorted a little at the laugh, while the others were rightfully looking away and trying to not stare at the moron.


    John didn’t seem to be caring about what his infectious laugh was doing, and Sienna’s lips twitched to form a small smile as she started to shake her head at the idiocy unfolding before her eyes.


    The true essence of a lovely dummy that was just trying to fight against the general nervousness of a very complicated situation.


    Instead of continuing to pursue some more aggressive words, the young woman couldn’t help but bring her right hand to cover her own mouth, to try and hold the giggles from leaving.


    She continued to shake her head in a mix of disappointment and amusement, clearly having lost control over the discussion all because of that unexpected development.


    Goddammit, Bukharin.


    --------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d----------


    ~John’s POV~


    I really didn’t want to go there, but there was no way out.


    Taking a deep breath, I stepped outside the car that had taken Sienna and I to the Schnee’s manor, and I took just a moment to glance at the greatness of the entire place.


    I had seen some images already of this building, but I hadn’t thought that I would’ve been urged to visit it for a formal dinner to spend there.


    I was nervous, rightfully so as I tried to imagine whatever trap from Jacques I could’ve ended up facing in this very instance, and yet I managed to find relief in a little detail that was noticeable right as I moved out of the car.


    The entire area and the rest of the proximity was completely devoid of journalists.


    If Jacques had been the one to truly plan out something for this very unexpected situation, he would’ve rendered the dinner a little more public, to have journalists keep track for any mistake either the Tiger Faunus now beside me and I could have done during this predicament.


    I had a theory that it wasn’t something concocted by the ambitious businessman, but rather by his father-in-law as proved by the one that sent the invitation.


    Nicholas Schnee was… someone I wasn’t keen to tackle even in a pleasant circumstance.


    It wasn’t like I distrusted the man already by his last name, knowing full well that he himself was the one that literally kickstarted the entire SDC’s business with good intentions.


    However the issue lingered right about the fact I was supposed to keep close to someone that was far more experienced in politics and in studying characters.


    Ozpin didn’t say anything about any possible friendship between him and the now old man, and there was no doubt in my mind that both had to have met when the SDC had just appeared on Remnant.


    A possible ally to Salem, why wouldn’t the headmaster of Beacon consider to have him to his side?


    With that thought stuck in my brain, I found it difficult to imagine the fact that I would’ve been given the chance of giving a proper look to the younger version of the Schnee siblings.


    Sure, I had caught some glimpses back during the little attack in the park, but that had been fairly… limited compared to what was going to happen now.


    There was no adrenaline, no reason to worry for any attempts at anyone’s life, and I didn’t have to be worried about having to keep an eye on Jacques.


    It was going to be a normal private dinner, with etiquette taking a large bit of the entire reception, and a veteran of politics that would be studying me for the whole time.


    Nothing truly concerning… except for any surprises.


    Ironwood had been quite annoyed at the fact he didn’t have the power to assign Clover to follow us for this dinner, especially since the place was meant to be one of the safest here in the capital.


    And I had showed some irritation at the fact, especially with the knowledge that someone with a Semblance that grants good luck wasn’t someone I wanted to be parted away for these kinds of occasions in particular.


    My instincts were just screaming that this was the best situation for some mess to happen, something very dangerous to explode right onto my face and-


    “He-hem,” Sienna faked a cough, taking a step towards me. “I think we should get going.”


    I blinked at her with a surprised look, but nodded quickly as I noticed that I wasted too much time staring at the manor, offering my right arm to the Tiger Faunus.


    “M’lady,” I hummed mirthfully, making her snort at the courtesy before she actually wrapped her left arm around my right one.


    From there we both started to make our way towards the main entrance to the building, glancing around as we tried to cover with our sight the entirety of the palace.


    “I’ve a bad feeling about this.”


    I blinked again, glancing to the side with a curious look.


    “Gut feeling?” I inquired curtly, drawing a nod from her much to my growing concerns over this circumstance.


    I can see why you would be worried. It’s been a while since you’ve put yourself in a dangerous position.


    [That sounds more like an unhealthy mindset to have. The world isn’t trying to kill you at every turns.]


    Didn’t you say that you saw my memories?


    [You’ve been attacked by Grimm and Raven early on, then there was the attack at the park and saving little Adam’s mother… that doesn’t sound like a pattern beyond coincidence.]


    ...I forgot that you were an airhead-


    [WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN, OZMA!?]


    I shook my head at the debacle exploding inside my brain, turning my focus back on Sienna.


    “We will keep our guard up then,” I said while nodding at the Faunus. She glanced up at me. “I do think that it all smell like a trap. Somehow.”


    She blinked, nodding silently and in agreement at my reply before turning her sight back to the entrance.


    The walk to the short staircase of white marble that led to the principal doors was a brief and uneventful one.


    Soon we found the doors being opened by some of the servants working for the family, various butlers and maids waiting for us there already bowing and…


    My attention was mostly taken by the lone butler standing centrally in the middle of the path.


    At first I failed to recognize him because he still had some hair on his head compared to the version I was best aware about, but I couldn’t certainly forget someone like Klein.


    “Mr. Bukharin, Ms. Khan,” He bowed his head politely, my sight catching onto the fact his eyes were light-brown in this instance. “I’m Klein, and I will personally see that you’re led to the dining room.”


    Sienna and I nodded at the polite greeting, but didn’t talk back to the man as he turned around and started to walk through the halls, leading us through the various light-blue corridors of the manor.


    [This seems like an unpleasant place where to live.]


    It’s even worse when your family becomes dysfunctional and beyond fixing.


    I remember visiting this manor just thrice in my last life. The architectural style is oddly enough meant to unnerve the visitors to this building.


    But why?


    I’ve never asked about it. I just didn’t want to know.


    Silence reigned all over, and I spared some attention over the various paintings attached to the walls, with some showing Nicholas in some endeavor, while the rest were landscapes all located in Atlas.


    Finally, Klein opened the doors that led to the vast dining room where almost every member of the Schnee family was there waiting for us to arrive.


    I could see that Nicholas had taken the chair by one of the ends of the long table, while the rest of the family picked one of the two sides of the table, with just a chair being left untouched between the former head of the family and his daughter.


    Willow looked carefully at us, showing no curiosity at our entrance but merely addressing us with a polite look.


    To her left was her youngest, Whitley, humming quietly while looking at us with wonder and interest.


    Weiss had taken the chair beside his, the little girl’s eyes were barely hiding her fascination over Sienna and I could see her stare directed specifically at the Faunus traits of the tanned woman.


    My gaze ultimately ended up turning at Winter and… I was met with some strong and intense orbs of cold water.


    The eldest child of Jacques and Willow looked incredibly interested on me, or rather, it seemed like she was trying to understand me as if I was a closed book she just couldn’t reach out and open to read.


    Nicholas stood up from his chair and smiled. “Ms. Khan, Mr. Bukharin, welcome and, please, take a seat.”


    He gestured to the rest of the chairs left unoccupied and we moved towards those.


    “Mr. Schnee, we wish to humbly say that we’re… honored to be there,” Sienna muttered with some hesitation at the old man, I helped her take her seat before going to my own.


    “Please, call me Nicholas,” The smiling elder replied, then turning towards me. “The same courtesy is applied to you, Mr. Bukharin.”


    “Then I think it’s also courtesy if the favor is returned, Nicholas,” I stated back with a calm smile. “Please, call me John.”


    Sienna didn’t reply to that, merely nodding at the entire situation as Nicholas took a moment to sigh.


    “And I’m deeply saddened to say that my son-in-law, Jacques, will be missing this dinner because of some unexpected issue at work,” He commented with a genuine note of dismay. “I would have notified of this instance myself after sending the formal invitation, but these news had reached me just less than an hour ago.”


    We both nodded, but before any of us could’ve responded to that development, Willow decided to speak up.


    “My husband has been dealing with an increase of pressure after the recent events,” The woman added with a patient voice. “I hope you all understand that it isn’t directly related to what happened a couple of days ago.”


    I sighed. “There is… no need to apologize,” I replied with a formal tone, glancing at the Tiger Faunus for some agreement on this bit. She merely glanced at me and I bit down another sigh. “The role your husband has surely drains him of free time with how complex his work is.”


    “That’s good to know,” Nicholas admitted with a small smile. “I understand that it’s quite awkward as something to mention, but I think it’s for the best to inform our guests of how things are right now.”


    Soon after this little parenthesis, several servants moved to start dispensing food for what was meant to be a formal dinner with rich people.


    With attention directed to my manners, I proceeded to carefully dissect the particularly tiny sliver of seasoned meat some poor souls would easily consider a ‘normal steak’.


    The dinner is set to be a lengthy one, not a substantial one.


    Still… this just makes me sad.


    There was some silence during the first couple of minutes, and I decided to use this opportunity to properly study the behaviors of those sitting at the table.


    My worries about Nicholas trying to twist some more details about me proved to be incorrect, with the man happily putting his attention right on the dish in front of him.


    Willow was slow with her bites, perhaps she expected something to happen and she didn’t want to be caught up in the middle of taking one of the tiny pieces by her lips.


    Whitley didn’t seem to have a full grasp of manners, with his steak having been already cut up in little parts so that the child had no reason to make use of the knife that was currently missing by his side of the table.


    Weiss had a similar situation, but instead of carelessly devouring the meal, she was putting some effort to not seem famished, a small smile was adorning her face as the girl enjoyed the delicious meal.


    Winter was… following her mother’s example to a certain extent.


    She was quite slow with her bites, but instead of showing little attention to the table, she was outright still watching me.


    The situation was indeed confusing if not unnerving as I couldn’t think up of anything that could’ve gotten the teen to be interested on me of all people.


    It would’ve been a normal thing if she had been interested in Sienna, perhaps seeing her as the strong diplomat that someone as respectful as she was could make a role model out of.


    Yet her attention was completely directed at me and… there was no verbal interaction. She was quiet, her eyes silently trying to ‘say’ something and with me failing miserably to catch whatever message it was.


    [Could she be crushing on you?]


    I’ve some doubts about this theory. There are some stark signs that would tell if this instance was true or not.


    Like blushing and looking away if I returned her stare.


    But she didn’t when I decided to turn my sight at her once I was done with my plate.


    In fact, the girl seemed to be almost encouraged to stare even harder as I deigned her some direct focus.


    “Winter, is there something wrong?”


    I blinked as I glanced at Nicholas, the old man having noticed for a long time now that his older granddaughter had been looking at me for some time now.


    Willow took a moment to study the situation herself, while little Weiss and Whitely merely gave some little glances around, seemingly fascinated by this development.


    The girl sighed and gave a solid nod.


    “If I may ask without sounding uncouth,” Winter started with a polite tone. “Can I inquire about something I just don’t understand about you, Mr. Bukharin?”


    Her mother appeared quite mortified by this inquiry, while the elder at the end of the table merely stared at the scene with a certain degree of curiosity.


    “I suppose I can spare some answers,” I said with a slow nod. “Of course, I can’t reply to personal questions.”


    Willow’s uneasiness lessened at my response, but she stopped eating as to see where this situation was escalating into.


    If Sienna had been paying attention or not to the situation, I couldn’t tell because I couldn’t see her from where I was looking… yet I could feel her put her fork and knife by her plate.


    She gave a quick smile. “Mr. Bukharin, I understand this might sound impolite but… why did you join the White Fang?”


    “I suppose it’s… a surprising discovery to make, but no, it’s not too personal or even impolite,” I assured with my own smile. “Let’s just say that I was saved by a group of them.”


    “Saved?” The white-haired young lady pressed on with a hint of curiosity and I nodded.


    “There was a situation that saw me put in quite the difficult instance. One that could’ve seen me dealing with some horrible consequences… but I was found just in time by a group of those and brought to safety.”


    “Sounds like a complicated mess from the way you’re cutting some of the details,” Nicholas pointed out. “I suppose it was quite tragic.”


    “I was traveling through Mistral for a work-related situation,” I replied with some more detail. “And I was attacked by a tribe of bandits while stopping mid-way.”


    “Bandits are… truly a problem for that Kingdom,” The woman admitted with some disdain. “It’s a shame that the Council just doesn’t spare enough efforts to get rid of those.”


    I nodded at that, but just as I pondered about it I actually remembered something I had discovered a while ago and never bothered to truly check properly.


    “Actually… Willow- Can I call you Willow?” I asked first, gaining a small smile from the married woman.


    “Only if you allow me to call you John,” She retorted softly and I nodded with a small smile.


    “I’ve heard that you’ve frequented Beacon Academy for some time as part of a program for Atlas Academy.”


    Willow nodded. “Only for just a year, yes,” She admitted with a sad smile. “Any reason behind this question?”


    “Only that I had the chance of meeting some graduates from there. They are now hunters… well, most of them since two are now teachers-”


    “Will you give give me a name, John?” She interjected with a hint of amusement. “Did anyone ever tell you how cryptic you tends to sound while going around some topics?”


    “Too many times.”


    It wasn’t me that answered, but Sienna. The tanned woman muttered this with a disappointed tone, eliciting an amused twitch from Willow’s lips.


    “I guess… and I wanted to ask if you’ve met someone by the name of Raven Branwen,”


    She tensed up, her blue eyes going wide open with a hint of surprise at being mentioned this name.


    “You… you’ve met Raven,” The woman parroted quietly.


    “Yes, I did,” I confirmed with a tight tone. “But I guess there is a reason for you to sound like that about it-”


    “I thought she had… left the corps,” The woman admitted quickly, her calm posture breaking at the mere mentioning of part of her past at Beacon. “And… you were attacked by bandits.”


    She blinked, taking a moment to breath. “I suppose you aren’t angry at each other or-”


    “I’m more of a life consultant to her after a couple of odd bumps,” I explained with some hesitation. “She is still dealing with the fact she is back with the rest of the team.”


    “They all still live together?” Willow inquired with some surprise. “I thought that it would’ve been a temporary situation.”


    “They settled with ever since their family started to grow bigger,” I replied with a nod. “In fact, both Raven and Summer are mothers now-”


    “Summer is… a mother?” I was swiftly interrupted by the woman, her tone drawing some amusements out of the rest of the table, with only Sienna appearing a little concerned by the topic.


    From what I’ve understood from Raven’s last visit, she still hasn’t truly accepted the woman as a friend.


    “I will have to call her and check if-”


    Clang!


    A loud noise of metal being bent and twisted interrupted her intrigued words, urging our collective attention to turn towards the only doors that connected the dining room to the rest of the house.


    In front of those was a tall and bulky man giving us his back for a couple of moments, then he turned and… I felt sweating nervously.


    “Sir, who are you? I don’t know how you entered the mansion but-” Nicholas tried to speak against this newcomer but the familiar individual merely sighed.


    “Forgive me for my intrusion, I don’t mean no harm...” The ‘stranger’ mentioned quite politely. “But I need Mr. Bukharin to follow me. Someone important wishes to speak with you.”


    ...You got to be kidding me.


    My eyes were wide open as I continued to stare at the approaching figure of Hazel Rainart.


    And she will not accept a ‘no’ as an answer.


    ----------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d-


    AN


    I promised action. Here it is!


    P.S. Before anyone ask no, the reasoning behind Grimm!Salem’s interest isn’t BS… but out of legitimate logic behind the recent happenings.
     
  27. Scurra71900

    Scurra71900 Getting out there.

    Joined:
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    Thanks for the chapters!
     
    JBukharin likes this.
  28. Threadmarks: Party Hardy (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Whenever you feel compelled to put others first at the expense of yourself, you are denying your own reality, your own identity.” – David Stafford


    Chapter 23: Party Hardy (2)


    ~John’s POV~


    In this very predicament, a sane person would’ve started to panic, perhaps even wonder over the chances of actually succeeding in jumping through the windows and make a run for it.


    It sounded like a good idea to me at first too, but then again, there were a few issues within that very idea.


    I wasn’t nowhere near the windows, with the dining room being fairly humongous, the distance between the table and the sides of the are was… non-negligible.


    If the main problem decided to sprint as I rushed at the nearby emergency 'exit', I was sure going to get a body-slam.


    Yet I was silently staring at the worrisome individual, thinking how exactly did he get there and why he looked so calm.


    Hazel was quite the imposing figure. And while he didn’t look quite threatening, from very far, he was quite a strong guy with a grudge for Ozpin.


    Plus he could certainly crack some skulls worse than Gregor Clegane if he was pushed into his berserk mode.


    I could’ve sparked the action, enabled the kerfuffle by just making a stand already, yet it would’ve been a puny and stupid mistake to make considering the unforgiving circumstance.


    Nobody here had weapons to use against the intruder, and the intruder himself was someone that could easily shrug off most of conventional firepower.


    Thus, instead of planning a direct plan of attack, I knew that I had to rely upon the information I had over my ‘recruiter’.


    The man took a step towards me, and I blinked at this unpleasant circumstance.


    “A Queen?” I inquired with faux-interest. “I think none of the kingdoms currently have any proper monarchs.”


    “She isn’t known to many, and it would be best for you to just follow quietly,” Hazel rebuked politely. “I can’t guarantee the safety of those in this room if-”


    “As if I would allow some lunatic to attack my family,” Nicholas finally erupted, his face showing some anger at the threatening undertone of the last comment.


    Both Winter and Weiss had slowly walked to stand by their mother’s side, while Whitley was picked by Willow in her arms.


    I felt Sienna reach with her hand, grasping at my right shoulder.


    “He isn’t going anywhere.”


    The stern refusal was met with a sad look from the minion, and Hazel took a step closer.


    “Sadly, this is beyond anyone. She has expressed interest, and there’s nothing that will make her back away from-”


    “Why are you so calm about this?” I asked with a confused tone. “You know, you just entered one of the few places that are considered the safest in Atlas and… you don’t seem worried about anyone coming to help us.”


    The Schnee family was in this point of the timeline one of the national treasure for Atlas. The mere moment someone threatened their prized company, there was no doubt that an airship was well on its way.


    Yet I found it truly odd that none of the guards around the mansion had yet to arrive and attack the bulky bastard in front of us.


    There was a swarm of those, and it was just confusing as to why none had yet to come and breach the now-obstructed door.


    “That’s because no one will come,” He replied quietly, his tone losing some of its previous calm while addressing this subject. “At least not until my partner is out there to make sure that nobody disturbs us.”


    A partner? But Salem didn’t have that many minions right now and-


    No. Hazel couldn’t have been this much- this much stupid!


    But there was no doubt, he was the only candidate possible that could’ve partnered with the Dust-roid giant.


    My blood run cold at that explanation, as I had a solid theory about whom was currently lurking around the halls of the mansion and making a slaughter of people there.





    WHY THE HECK HE LET TYRIAN GO IN A MURDER SPREE?!


    “Are you- Are you insane?” I blurted out subsequently, eyes widening in a moment of utter shock. “You-”


    “We need to make sacrifices,” The big man reasoned with some hesitation dripping from his words. “Some lives need to be taken for the sake of making a better world.”


    His interruption made me ready to burst in anger at how lazily he was addressing such an issue.


    Not only they had attacked one of the kingdoms so suddenly, but they were also in the process of threatening children and the other people living in the mansion.


    Screw diplomacy, I need something to retaliate quickly with this prick.


    I wouldn’t suggest trying anything too sudden. Maybe James is already mobilizing some force to-


    “John, you know about what this troglodyte talking about? Who is this man?”


    Nicholas’ voice interrupted my brain-storming session, and I glanced behind to give him a brief look.


    “The situation is pretty bad, and if something doesn’t happen soon, we might end up dealing with someone less sane than him,” I answered the first query, feeling unsure how to deal with this very predicament. “And his name is Hazel Rainhart.”


    The intruder looked surprised at my last words. “So you’re aware about my name and… you lied about not knowing the queen.”


    “Knowing is a strong word,” I replied swiftly and with an uneasy tone. “Let’s just say that I perfectly understand when to stay away from some unstable individuals, differently from you.”


    He frowned. “She is just misunderstood, not unstable,” The man tried to surprisingly plead and I frowned.


    “Forgive me but misunderstandings don’t get people killed, at least not as many as she is prime cause for,” I rebuked with some irritation. “And seriously, you’re doing nothing more than antagonizing now.”


    “You’re left with little options about that, Mr. Bukharin. I understand that you care for people’s lives, even those that you’ve yet to met,” The tall individual pointed out. “Let’s just avoid making unneeded messes when-”


    “You are trying to kidnap me, I hope you understand that’s already a mess,” I sarcastically rebuked, staring hardly at him. “Also no, before you make any reference to any sad backstory, I will not be swayed by some half-truths.”


    He raised an eyebrow at that. “And what do you plan to do then? You’re not in a position to ‘refuse’.”


    Can we do something about it?


    [If I remember correctly, you did use something close to transfiguration a while ago, but I’m not sure you can use it without proper concentration-]


    Ozpin and I already tried to make something after I managed to get that Pepsi can, but I can’t get anything from it.


    It’s not transfiguration, we’ve already confirmed that. Yet feel like this is familiar too and-


    [Maybe it’s one of the few arts you left me to deal with. There are a couple of spells that match with your case but… I think I might be wrong, but what did you envision when you materialized that… can?]


    Well, I was just remembering the flavor of the beverage since it’s my favorite and-


    [Can you imagine the emotions born from that remembrance? What made it feel so strong and so dominant within your mind?]


    I blinked at the query, thinking back at the very situation for a brief moment as I contemplated about the delicious taste of the soda drink and-


    Freezing up, I stared down at my hands and… at the familiar blue-colored tin can now in my hold.


    “How curious,” I hummed quietly, unwillingly drawing Hazel attention at the little thing I had now in my lap.


    “What’s that?” He inquired-demanded while frowning at the object.


    “Oh you know, the very sensation that one feels when they seem ready to lose, but then then they suddenly win because of something oddly overpowered and terribly amusing,” I hummed quietly and trying my best to appear as mysterious as possible. “It’s like drinking a soda drink with a dry throat.”


    He didn’t reply, and everyone failed to see that something was just off about the can itself.


    But before Hazel could’ve done anything to reply to that insane comment, I did the unthinkable as I threw the can right at him.


    “Please catch, it’s rather important,” I exclaimed while the small thing soared towards the man, Hazel tensing up as his hand stretched to reach the seemingly harmless can.


    The very problem that he would notice just as he got hold of the blue-colored contained was that it was no longer ‘small’, but it was twisting from the inside out.


    With his eyes widening in shock, the little thing exploded as the liquid pressured the small pieces of metals into his shirt.


    Cuts spread all over his clothes, yet there was no physical damage on him since his Aura tanked most of the sudden explosion.


    The rest of the witnesses either jumped in fright at the sudden phenomenon, with just Sienna staring at the scene without much else other than gawking at the resulting effects.


    Meanwhile the frizzy beverage sprayed all over his face, outright blinding him and distracting him for a while as I stood up, two more cans occupying my hands.


    And that is what happens when you add a lot of Mentos inside a single can of Pepsi.


    That sounds particularly dangerous considering that you’re making these ‘bombs’ from the experience you had with them.


    [To think that you would go as far as trying to drink from that because of a Truth and Dare challenge-]


    That was Drunk Bukharin. And nobody knows what Drunk Bukharin can and will do.


    “You’re the one in the position to lose, Hazel,” I said while shaking my head, taking a couple of steps. “You should’ve just tried something a little more discreet. A pity that I don’t plan to have you run away from this encounter.”


    He snarled. “You made a terrible mistake by refusing her offer. The new world will come and-”


    “I will not allow that to happen, especially for the very reason that drives you right now to renege humanity as a whole,” I replied sternly, drawing a surprised look from him. “Gretchen Rainart didn’t die so that you could destroy her beliefs.”


    His eyes widened, and he seemed genuinely shaken by these words… but I wasn’t actually trying to make conversation there.


    I took more steps towards him. “A pity that you’ve tainted her wishes like this. And you were her brother.”


    Before I had the chance of throw the two tin cans, I froze as a noise erupted from the stuck doors, with someone trying to barge inside.


    This distraction proved to be a serious mistake on my part, and I would then blame my tense mind while a big fist slammed straight into my chest.


    I felt the air leaving my lungs as I was sent flying away, only to land on the opposite side of the room.


    D-Did someone catch the number of that train?


    Get up, don’t let him leave!


    While I shared well Ozpin’s own interest in seeing Hazel dealt with instead of having to face him again in the future, my hopes were dashed away the same way the windows of the room were when that bastard run into them.


    I don’t know why he didn’t press the advantage, perhaps he was panicking or something like that but-


    The doors were slammed open, with the young butler that was Klein Sieben spearheading a group of fellow butlers and some of the arms guards


    “Mr. Schnee, we’ve arrived to get you out of there with-” The man paused at the scene bestowed before him, shock filling his now-red eyes.


    I saw Sienna finally bolting towards me, crouching down to check on me with a worried look.


    “I’m- I’m mostly fine,” I stated with some difficulty, still recovering from the little flight I had before hitting ground.


    “You- you’re really going to give me a heart-attack one of these days,” She replied with a relieved sigh as I slowly allowed her to lift me up to stand. “We need to leave, we can’t-”


    “I know. We’re not risking an encounter with the big guy’s partner,” I interrupted with a small smile. “Don’t worry?”


    “I think I’ve all the reasons of the world to be worried,” The Tiger Faunus rebuked while helping me walk around, my mind whining at the fact I ended up with a little limp by my left leg.


    I was still in pain from the impact, but it was somewhat bearable compared to the rest of horrible instances I had been subjected with in the recent past.


    Without saying anything more about the matter, I let Nicholas take the rightful lead of the group in rushing towards the main entrance.


    I looked around with cautious eyes, with Sienna following my example as we settled at the end of the large crowd of people.


    Willow had kept her children close to her, everyone looking fairly shaken by the recent developments, but not enough to falter in following the clear orders that were meant to take us away from the dangerous place.


    There were no obstacles along the ways, yet some of the paintings had been slashed and damaged by what seemed to have been some wars between the hallways.


    Tyrian had been there… but he was no longer around to create any problem


    Which was bad considering how unpredictable the man was in every circumstance, and I feared that an ambush had been set just at the end of this little run towards the main doors.


    We stepped outside, making our way down the small staircase that led outside courtyard were a few airships had landed.


    There was an odd sense of quiet, I could see some police’s sirens flaring from beyond the gates as they let the military take over this difficult situation.


    Soldiers started to be deployed from the flying vehicle, several squads forming as they advanced towards us as to bring us to safety and-


    “THERE YOU ARE!”


    Dread froze my mind in a cold sweat, shock filled my throat as I turned to the side while trying to stare up, only to stop at an odd purple spot by Sienna’s upper back.


    She tensed up, perhaps feeling that something was off with her Aura but… it was too late.


    Tyrian plummeted from the little perching he had been standing by until now, his stinger rushing down fiercely and puncturing the Tiger Faunus near her left arm’s joint.


    A cackle, a pain-induced gasp and then we were all crumbling down the stairs, with the rest of the group rushing away as the Scorpion Faunus stared at us with a demented grin.


    “What’s wrong, Bukharin?” He inquired with maddening mirthfulness. “Did the scorpion sting your cat?”


    I felt numb, my brain blanking out as I stared in an odd mix of anger and shock the monstrous smile on the bastard’s face.


    “Perhaps you should’ve accepted? See? It’s your fault that she is- WOAH!”


    I swiftly threw a punch at him, but he ducked away from it. The tanned woman was still clinging onto me, but she was unresponsive.


    “Pity that you can’t truly fight. Always hiding away, letting other suffer and die because you can’t think fast enough,” Tyrian chucked. “But that’s what makes you weak. You think when you should act!”


    And I did act as I suddenly tossed at him a small blue can.


    He smiled, blissfully unaware of what was going to happen the mere moments later.


    The explosion was slightly more powerful than the one I had used early on with Hazel, and I was forced to shift my body to provide some protection to the unconscious Sienna.


    I could feel some metallic shards cutting into my jacket, but none reaching too deep through my clothes.


    John, you need to-


    I wasn’t listening, I couldn’t listen. No distractions, just actions.


    The Scorpion Faunus’ cackling had persisted despite the subsequent soaring into the nearby wall, some of the upper section of the building came down onto him and yet the man seemed mostly untouched, if not for some tears on his clothes.


    “Marvelous- but not enough~!”


    “Mr. Bukharin, duck!”


    I barely heard the voice of the soldier, yet I complied as a volley of bullets slammed into a surprised Tyrian.


    His aura sponging the sudden attack, yet the bastard didn’t seem willing to linger as the soldiers continued to approach the two of us.


    “Ah, you need to believe it, Bukharin,” He said with that infuriating smile. “Join the queen, she will reward you immensely and offer you the greatest of the gifts possible. And maybe you will be able to keep your little kitty cat.”


    A brief giggle was let out, then he rushed quickly away as he threw a small object on the ground- that revealed to be a flashbang.


    A bright light engulfed the entire section, and none of the soldiers fired their guns again over this distraction to avoid hitting me in the process.


    Once sight was restored to everyone around, the aggressor was no longer around to be captured… leaving me to deal with the fact that not only this wasn’t a victory-


    But Sienna got poisoned in the process too because she had to take the bloody hit for me.


    ----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-dd--


    “Doctors say that she didn’t lose too much blood, and that she should be stabilize fairly soon.” Ironwood muttered from his seat. “The issue is the poison.”


    Yet I didn’t give him sign of actually paying him any attention, my full focus fixed onto the unconscious form that was resting on the hospital bed in front of me.


    Of all situations that I could’ve predicted as possible outcomes of that horrible circumstance, this one had completely been either ignored or just passed as nigh-impossible.


    I was silent, even Ozpin and Salem failing to get me to say something about the matter as I felt myself in the brink of collapse.


    Despite the optimistic perception that the medics assigned to Sienna had over her recovery, I was confident that it wasn’t an utter certainty.


    Qrow received a scratch in Volume 4, and he almost died there. The Tiger Faunus was literally stabbed and she had been injected with far more poison than the Branwen had in canon.


    I didn’t need to have a PhD in Medicine to know that the situation was far worse and far more difficult to deal with.


    Maybe the saving grace was that she was being treated in an official hospital instead of a bunch of young huntsmen, but I wasn’t certainly going to show any relief in that infuriating moment.


    I was angry… at myself.


    I should’ve moved- I could’ve moved.


    Yet I had thought instead of acting. It was ironic how Tyrian had been correct with that statement.


    It had been suddenness, the fright of the development that caught me off-guard.


    And that sore mistake had seen Sienna pay a non-negligible price.


    The General had been there for just a couple of minutes, yet he didn’t try to offer any consolation other than the standard sentences an acquaintance could offer around.


    It wasn’t like he didn’t want to try, but I could see that he was unsure how to tackle my current mood.


    And I wasn’t even going to reprimand him for that, as I too was unsure of what I was supposed to feel right now.


    I was stuck in a loop I’ve never been forced to deal with. None of those I knew about had ever come so close to die like this.


    The immediate action, the blink within a lifetime.


    Stirring deeply but important, my anger only served as a newer reason to bash my indecision, and I was left to face a music I wasn’t happy to be subjected to.


    I was alone in that dark moment, and I didn’t even dare to look for any messages or lost calls in my Scroll.


    None of the news outlets had even come close to mention the full extent of the damage caused to the victims of the ‘terrorist assault’ at the Schnee Mansion.


    Jacques was contacted by the army mere hours after the situation was solved, and some inspectors were sent to check on him the very moment that all calls had failed to reach him.


    He was found in quite an indiscreet position, one that actually ended up showing a detail of the man I hadn’t thought him possible of.


    He was alive, and doing particularly well as he was taken by the soldiers for some questioning.


    The young woman that he had been found with was a little less happy to be caught in quite the awkward role within that office.


    Who would’ve thought that Atlas had their own prostitutes.


    I would’ve laughed at the ironic detail that the ‘greatest’ kingdom actually had the greatest non-descript service in Remnant.


    But right now? I was doing my best to not just fall asleep.


    Hazel’s punch had left my torso a little sore, but nothing that had warranted the application of any medical bandage… yet I had been ‘ordered’ by the medics that I needed some rest to recover from the trauma.


    I had been there to see the close-up of the situation happening, I was there to see the gore in its most glorious take.





    I’ve seen plenty of wounds, quite a lot of horrible and gruesome sights too- I wasn’t feeling ‘traumatized’ over that very detail.


    The issue was that it had to happen to her.


    I think I’ve all the reasons of the world to be worried.”


    When was the last time I was the one actually worried for her? Have I ever considered worrying for her wellbeing?


    Sienna was a tough woman with determination and bravery that easily exceeded a large majority of individuals in this world.


    Sanity? She offered whatever she could muster while facing my absurd resolutions to some silly quandaries.


    I mean, using Mentos and Pepsi? That’s pretty childish, and stupid. Even though she wouldn’t realize what both of these were, I could see her pester me with her own stress and irritation.


    It wasn’t a whine, it was more of an attempt to keep connected despite the differences between us.


    And no, I wasn’t just referring to appearance and biology.


    She was stubborn, level-headed, but also terribly naive before the ways to answer to simple questions.


    I was paranoid, prone to jump at the weirdness, and horribly over-exaggerating while facing any issues in my path.


    We were different, but we were in the same boat. We’ve been like that for a long time now.


    And now she wasn’t there to scold me, to prove that she was still going to make it.


    I thought that I was going to be left alone for the remainder of the day, that perhaps nobody would’ve approached me with how dreadful my state was right now.


    I blinked, my belly grumbled quietly, but the hunger wasn’t just reaching my brain as I continued in that simple task of watching over the Tiger Faunus.


    She was resting without complications, her stab wound had been properly bandaged, but I could see some blood and purplish hue form within the white of the medical cloth.


    It reminded me of his cackles, of his belittling, of his sudden and unwanted victory.


    I hadn’t thought about facing Tyrian. I had really hoped that someone else would’ve taken him out for good.


    Someone that had the means to counter his semblance, to kill the bastard the most anticlimatic way possible.


    Yet fate was cruel, and so was the one that was indirectly responsible for Sienna’s wounds.


    My hopes of being left alone were interrupted when I noticed that Ironwood had returned back in the room, his hands being busied by what looked to be two steamy cups of coffee.


    I felt tempted to sip at the bitter substance, going against the mere principle that I just didn’t like the bitterness.


    And I really don’t need to turn into Shade 2.0, especially with how ugly the situation was right now.


    I stared at the cup, taking it to warm up my cold hands, but keeping myself from diving down for a quick sip.


    “The Council has just concluded an emergency session two hours ago,” The General began to explain quietly, appearing uncertain of what he really wanted to tell me with this. “Hazel Rainhart and Tyrian Callows have been branded as terrorists and enemies of the nation.”


    I snorted blankly. “Good for Atlas… I guess.”


    The man paused at my sarcasm, but didn’t seem much irritated by it.


    “I’ve started to create a task force that will serve to find and capture for trial both men,” He continued with a calm voice. “I want you to join it.”





    “I’m a mere diplomat to Menagerie. I’m not an Atlesian citizen-”


    “Honorary citizenship,” James interjected with a small smile, presenting two documents that I quickly settled on my lap, just so that I could place the steamy mug away. “The Council saw it fit to bestow both you and Ms. Khan with these for your brave service done to aid Atlas.”


    At least now I can die with a bright smile because I’m a citizen of the Great and Glorious Atlas.


    I closed my eyes and… sighed.


    “It was Ozpin. Wasn’t it?”





    I opened up to stare at the General, the man looked like a deer caught in headlights, with his surprise and his panic mixing well within his expression.


    I graced him with a sigh. “What does he want from me?”


    Once more I was given silence as an answer… at least for a couple of minutes.


    “He just wants to talk with you,” He assured. “He was fascinated with… her interest for you.”


    “I will not join any sides,” I pointed out quietly. “I will accept to talk, but I will not take part with any activity with his group.”


    “You would be protected,” James tried to explain, making me almost sigh in utter disappointment at that very ironic point to sustain this stupid thesis.


    “James… please tell me, do you believe in fairy tales?”





    “Why are you asking me of-”


    “I don’t,” I interrupted with a nod. “I never believed in any of that. Sure, some are pretty stories that can make a child giggle and wonder… but I never strayed away from the initial wonder, I always saw the ‘flaws’ behind the tales.”


    I looked once more at Sienna. “Fairy tales give hope. Even when there shouldn’t be none.”


    “Ozpin’s mission is just-”


    “But his ways are flawed,” I interjected again, drawing a huff at his stubbornness. “The way to Hell is paved by good intentions… and cemented by avoidable mistakes.”


    The General kept quiet, listening as I continued with that soft-voiced rant.


    “Let me ask you this then if you believe in him so much,” I commented with a hum. “Would you believe me if I said that he can’t kill Salem?”





    “He can’t kill her. You could, I could,” I stated with a tired tone. “I mean, we would need some serious equipment to actually deal some damage and put her down for good, but Ozpin can’t just do it right now.”


    He blinked. “Why?”


    I nodded at his question and smiled. “Because he doesn’t want to.”


    “She’s trying to exterminate humanity-”


    “He was reluctant to call her his enemy even when she killed their children before his eyes,” I pointed out sternly. “He still has that reluctance, and that’s why we will lose if he doesn’t just accept that she can’t just be saved.”


    At this, the militaryman frowned. “What do you mean saved?”


    “Salem tends to tell her real story to her minions, it makes things less awkward- distrust less likely to fester,” I admitted with some minor amusement. “But no, the way I learned about the truth wasn’t from her.”


    “Who told you then?” He pressed on, making me sigh in annoyance at his irritating crescendo.


    “Relic of Knowledge, and let’s just say that there’s a lot to say… and you should really get it told by Ozpin,” I replied with a dry tone.


    “He wouldn’t say anything about-”


    “Threaten him that I will tell you if he doesn’t. That he will accept.”


    “You’re making it seem like he is so easy to push around.”


    I’m not.


    [You are~.]


    “There are buttons that can be pressed,” I said while nodding at him. “But I think it’s time we… return on the real dilemma. Why should I join this team?”


    James seemed to sober up instantly at the question.


    “Right now we’ve dispatched our best toxicologists to try and find an antidote to the poison harming Ms. Khan,” He mentioned with a calm sigh. “If we recover Callows, we can surely get the process reduced to a minimum.”


    “You mean if we capture him-”


    “We have elevate chances of saving Ms. Khan,” He interrupted me, causing me to frown. “That’s why I’m choosing the best we’ve right now. From Specialists to Huntsmen.”


    I blinked at the comment, but I gave him a slow nod.


    “If this truly helps Sienna, I will… join,” I admitted with some hesitation. “But I will not take part in any military operations for Atlas after this.”


    He gave a nod at that. “I can accept that and… the first meeting will be tomorrow morning. You will be taken to the temporary headquarters, given some equipment and a nickname.”


    I blinked at that last bit, especially since ‘Bukharin’ was already my nickname.


    Still, I didn’t question the logic and took a quick sip from the steamy cup I had forgotten to have left to the side.


    Only to flinch at the bitter taste that entered my mouth.


    Seriously, how does Shade love this?


    --------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d---


    AN


    Sounds like I’m taking shots at a certain fellow Author, but it’s more of a fun poking. I think Shade is an amazing writer (and it’s not like I wish to be noticed by senpai for once- Mph!).


    Still, John is pulling a… Wick?


    I really don’t think Sienna would be happy to know that she got the role of the ‘pet’ getting attacked for the hero to go in a fun spree.


    Plus she is the one getting maimed this seriously. Goddammit, John!


    And yes, Jimmy is part of the task force too. I will give him the role he deserved.


    P.S. Did you know that another ‘John Bukharin’ got thrown in a far worse universe? I mean, the Dragon Ball Z universe just three years before the beginning of the Android Saga is an odd point where to be inserted into. Check out ‘Rush for Greatness’! (Mr. Popo is not the Canon version.)
     
    Relyt33, Dracomaser, Yeetboi and 18 others like this.
  29. Threadmarks: Party Hardy (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries - for heavy ones they cannot.” – Niccolo Machiavelli


    Chapter 24: Party Hardy (3)


    Ironwood didn’t wait much to call, in fact I almost jumped when the phone started to buzz three hours after he had left the medical room. The conversation was fairly brief as it focused only on the important details like the address where I was supposed to be. I was slightly nervous, yet a mere look at Sienna’s pained form was enough to get me going with a blank expression.


    If the circumstances hadn’t included the possibility of her death, I would’ve probably been giddy to go and see which kind of shady military room the General had decided to setup the briefing.


    Before actually being sent there, I was first ‘advised’ to give a visit to the local armory right at the military headquarters that housed our things. The soldier that was assigned to the special lockers was legitimately surprised when he realized that a ‘civvie’ had been given a special number to pick one of the few available boxes with equipment.


    I gave a quiet glance at the smooth, metallic texture of the small crate before I took it in my arms. Then I was led to the changing area where soldiers were supposed to put on their uniforms and armor. The room was particularly large for a single individual, yet I didn’t linger with my staring as I quickly opened the box and slowly started to switch my current diplomat clothes with what was inside there.


    [C-Could you please warn beforehand next time?]


    Sorry.


    The armor was a dark-gray, quite the different contrast with the stark white of the standard color for Atlesian soldiers. But the biggest of the surprises as I started to put the pieces on was that it all fit perfectly with my frame.


    I had grown slimmer since the first day I had spent in Remnant, a mix of unhealthy escapes and being subjected to some aggressive training under Sienna’s supervision. It was nothing special, I was slim but far from athletic.


    You would be surprised how much that matters in the scope of things. I don’t think I need to remind you of Port.


    You know, Peter Port isn’t the one I really want to think about when I’m trying to change my clothes.


    The helmet had a large visor that was polarized on the outside, making it impossible for my identity to be noticed much to my relief. As soon as I had put it on, the entire system installed within it slowly came to life.


    I was partly reminded of an ODST’s visor, with all the startup details and process buzzing for a while before offering me quite the barest HUD possible. No advanced grid, but I had a small radar-like section on the lower-left section of my sight.


    And while the system continued to go through calibrations, I continued with putting on what was left within the box. The rest of the armor followed a similar style to a regular Atlesian soldier armor, but the number ‘2’ was emblazoned on both front and back.


    Once I was done with the with the whole process, I took notice of the fact that there was no weapon within the crate. Only the clothes I had removed and put in there. Perhaps Ironwood had plans to give weapons only after the briefing. It wouldn’t have been smart of him to give me a super-armor and a gun to someone that would easily skip the meeting and rush to intercept the two criminal.


    Closing the box and walking back to the entrance where the head of the armory was, I proceeded to leave my stuff there, and soon I was out of the building walking with my own ‘super-suit’. And I felt quite empowered when I made my very first step by the streets. People would spare me some passing glances, some had their eyes widen up at the unique version of armor I was donning, but none actually stopping me to inquire about it. It was an odd experience to say the least.


    The walk was also pretty brief as soon I found myself entering into the main section of Atlas Academy. Differently from Beacon, the school wasn’t located away from the capital, but within it. The entire place was bustling with active people going through their errands, with some students and soldiers taking the same ways and creating a hive-like complex within the humongous entrance room.


    Wandering up to the one of the available receptionists, I quietly greeted the young woman with a quick nod.


    “Hello sir, how may I help you-”


    “General Ironwood invited me for an enlightening conversation about Jokers and Tragedies.”


    A strange secret phrase to avoid any awkward issues, but one with some logical sense behind it as Tyrian and Hazel have been codenamed respectively ‘Joker’ and ‘Tragedy’. Ironic that the laughing madman with a chronic need to cause people pain was nicknamed like the archnemesis to Batman.


    But Tragedy? I could see Hazel getting miffed at discovering that the general lines of his own purpose and become his newest name. And I would gloat each and every second at that kind of reaction.


    The young woman tensed up a little bit surprised at the sudden sentence, yet she nodded as her eyes flashed recognition at my words.


    “H-Headmaster Ironwood is already waiting by his office,” She muttered back. “You may use the staff-reserved elevator to reach it.”


    I nodded, holding back a thank you as I really wasn’t in the mood of pleasant chatting. The elevator itself was devoid of any individuals using it and I was glad to enjoy some moments of lone thoughts about the current situation.


    What kind of office does Ironwood have?


    Hmm? I guess it’s similar to mine… but uglier.


    Ugly?


    I refuse to add more. Just don’t nag at me once you got a glimpse at it.


    Now, that was quite the reaction out of the usually stoic wizard and, the very moment that the elevator came to a stop, I took a moment to study the entirety of the room.


    It was spacious, perhaps a little less than Ozpin’s office back in Beacon, yet I couldn’t see anything even remotely ‘ugly’ in there. It had a soft dark-blue as a major theme, some star-like decorations by the floor and a big window-like complex by the deepest section of the room, where the main chair and desk were.


    I advanced thorough the room, my sight fixed right at the two waiting individuals by the desk. James was donning a similar armor with helmet and protective plates being a pristine white compared to the dark-gray that were the ones worn by the figure sitting by one of the four available chairs in front of the desk.


    The clue that made me realize that it was Ironwood? The stature and the frame. Only a couple of people in Remnant had that kind of physique and my estimation was proven right as the man took notice of me.


    “Misfit-02, please take a seat near Misfit-03. We’re still waiting for the rest of the squad before starting the briefing.”


    Curt, direct and incredibly friendly. Goddammit, why the show got him to appear so distrustful in so many occasions?


    I gave him a nod, still pondering over the fact that my denomination was now ‘Misfit-03’ while I complied with his words and took a seat beside my soon-to-be teammate.


    The first thing that I noticed of the armor-clad fellow was the slender denotation of the armor and a more ‘stuff’ by the area of the chest. A woman, I could see her stare at me as soon as I was seated.


    “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” She politely said, drawing a quick frown from me as I realized that her voice was slightly distorted.


    I suppose James had taken some precautions to protect your identities.


    And I forgot to activate it.


    [Yep.]


    Fuck.


    Unwilling to leave the polite interaction go wasted, I proceeded to let out some fake coughs while I spoke.


    “L-Likewise,” I replied, getting a confused posture from the woman and a sigh from Ironwood himself.


    “Misfit-02, your voice modulator device is in the lower right section of your helmet.”


    I nodded, slowly reaching for the small switch in there to activate it.


    [Ease up, soldier. You have yet to go for the battlefield.]


    I just forgot. No nervousness-driven fail.


    That’s what you said everything you manage a nervousness-driven fail.


    Oh, can it for once!


    “Sorry,” I muttered quietly at the two occupants, relief washing over my body as I now had a distorted voice too.


    “Ah, don’t worry,” Misfit-03 mused with a sympathetic smile. “I had a similar problem myself when I first arrived to the office.”


    I blinked at that little confession, but I nodded at that show of genuineness. I couldn’t see what her expression was because of her polarized visor, but I half-expected a smile waiting on the other side of the small glass.


    As soon as this little mistake was fixed, the door of the elevator opened again to reveal a tired-looking figure donning the same armor as I had. This one had a ‘4’ on it.


    “S-Sorry, I was late because-” An oddly-familiar feminine voice started to explain in the middle of her drained breaths.


    “The Voice Modulator, Misfit-04.”


    Ironwood sounded quite stern there and the girl seemed to realize the mistake at once as she swiftly reached to where the switch was.


    “S-Sorry, Headma-General Ironwood.”


    And I thought I was bad, yet my mistake paled at the chaotic introduction to the supposed last member to the team.


    “At ease, Misfit-04,” The leader muttered calmly before gesturing at me and the woman beside me. “And please, take a seat by-”


    “U-understood.”


    She rushed to pick a seat beside me, clearly ignoring the fact she had interrupted her superior officer with that panicked response. To be fair, I could only imagine that she was close to have a meltdown at the fact she was here to begin with.


    Am I wrong in thinking this might be a student?


    It wouldn’t be odd for James to bring up some prodigious student to his private missions, but it’s always the ones that are expected to hold it together… not anyone like her.


    [While I wouldn’t be as insensible as Ozma, he has a point. This girl doesn’t seem mentally prepared for the mission.]


    ...Bah, you’re both wrong. Look at Ruby, see how far she went from being a childish fifteen years-old.


    There was no response after that, but I didn’t expect to hear one as the briefing finally started. A holographic map appeared above the desk while Ironwood moved around and in front of it.


    “A couple of hours ago, the Schnee Manor was attacked by the duo formed by Tyrian Callows, codename ‘Joker’, and Hazel Rainhart, codename ‘Tragedy’. Their objectives were the kidnapping of Diplomat John Bukharin and the assassination of both Nicholas and Willow Schnee,” James started to explain with a serious tone, instantly drawing out from me a confused look.


    I was well-aware that the two had tried to kidnap me but… didn’t Hazel mention that he had just wanted to kidnap me and nothing else?


    A lie. Hazel might appear as a blunt and somewhat honest individual, but I can’t see the kind of person he is to lazily admit that he wanted to kill the mother and the grandfather in front of the three children in that room.


    Now, wasn’t that a surprise? But then again, why would they have needed to go as far as kill the adults in that room?


    “After some developments born from the recent investigations, it was confirmed that the individual that provided them the means to enter the manor without activating the security system and the one that provided them with the task of assassinating both key targets was none other than the same person. Jacques Schnee.”


    “Wait, what?” Misfit-04 seemed to almost shriek in shock at the revelation. “B-But isn’t he married and-”


    She stopped as I tugged at her sleeve, forcing her attention to slip away from her little outburst and back to reality. Glancing briefly to look at me in confusion, she seemed to perfectly realize on her own what just happened.


    Tensing up, the girl lowered her stare at the silent General. “Apologies, sir.”


    … “As I was saying, Jacques Schnee was apprehended and interrogated thoroughly after he was caught in quite the curious situation with someone that claimed to be his ‘only truest lover’. Some suspicions had sprung from this very instance and the fact that the man didn’t have a proper reason to skip the important dinner,” James continued with his serious tone. “The finest interrogator within the army managed to get some answers out of him and none was as ‘simple’ as everyone here would hope.”


    As he finished this last sentence, various letters opened up in front of the holographic map and… some were very awkward to read. The ‘businessman’ hadn’t been much bright over his attempts to usurp the company ever since he got married with Willow.


    At first those were letters to gain some more powers through new roles within the company. Most of those either rebuked with a solid ‘no’ from Nicholas, or even outright ignored by the founder of the SDC. The irritation started to appear in some of the examples until the final letter that tried to alter the last wills of his father-in-law.


    If up until now Misfit-04 had been shocked, this new sight got her floored over the matter. I was actually surprised that Misfit-02 seemed hardly fazed by the images, and her posture left no signs of genuine reaction to this situation.


    “As of now, Jacques Schnee has been confined until a date for his trial can be set. His crimes have been confirmed to be over High Treason against Atlas and planned murder attempt on his wife and father-in-law,” The General resumed with no major change in his voice, yet I couldn’t help but be glad that the dangerous exploiter got locked in some cold cell. But while I was glad to see the scumbag yanked away from his previous position of power, I couldn’t help but sadly think about the impact this predicament was having on the rest of the family.


    Winter had yet to fully understand how devious her father was, and her younger siblings weren’t better on that department. The only one that could get saved was Whitley since the boy was too young to ponder properly about this complicated case.


    “Yet, this is but the background of what our mission is going to be,” The man finally said much to my annoying impatience. “Right now, Joker and Tragedy have been sighted in Mantle, but they have been prevented to leave the city thanks to the quick intervention of the Militia and the Police to close down all entry points.”


    “General, was a curfew implemented to avoid the presence of any innocents in the streets?” Misfit-02 inquired with a genuine note of concern.


    “The police applied the standard emergency curfew. As of now, nobody is wandering the streets of Mantle.”


    We all shared a nod, but the briefing was far from over.


    “Our mission will be to search through the suspicious buildings where the two men had been sighted,” The General continued. “From there, it’s suggested to capture Joker because someone was stung by his powerful poison and we need to find an antidote to it. But Tragedy can be killed on sight.”


    I almost nodded when he mentioned Sienna, but I held back from giving out my identity to my other teammates.


    “The team formed to deal with this mission is made by me, Misfit-01, then by Misfit-02 and Misfit-03, both close-range specialists, and finally Misfit-04, the long-range specialist.”


    A sniper. I almost snorted at the fact that many characters that made use of snipers were quite awkward in RWBY. I wonder if it’s made on purpose or not…


    My attention shifted away from my thoughts as I turned at the strange noise coming from the desk. A small space was opened as a hidden compartment moved up to show three cased lined horizontally on the table, each sporting a number from two to four.


    “I saw fit to get prepared for each of you the proper equipment for your roles,” James said while gesturing us to stand up. “These are still advanced weapons that shouldn’t be misused during the mission, and I will warn you about this just once. I expect utmost respect with the ‘treats’ offered to you all.”


    I didn’t wait any longer and slowly went to open up the case with the ‘2’. I blinked as I noticed a futuristic, white-painted rifle encompassing the entire length of the container. I lifted it up and blinked at the little electric crackle coming from within the tool.


    “The ASH-12 is one of the most recent models of the Electric Generation of Shotgun,” Ironwood described with some pride over the nice thing in my hands. “It’s been years since we’ve started working on Electricity-based means to reduce the use of slug-action rifles, and this scattershot shotgun is-”


    “So cool!” Misfit-04 interrupted giddily, gaining a frown out of me as she peered off from over my shoulder. “That means halved reload time, quick-paced shooting and… Oh, sorry.”


    She retreated the mere moment she realized she was literally resting her chin on my shoulder, almost too familiarly for my happy self. Like really, what the heck is going on with this girl?


    Shrugging off this strange sensation about the odd girl, I moved my attention back to the next case and… I blinked in surprise at what I saw.


    Misfit-03 pulled out a simple handle out of the container, yet she pressed one of the buttons in there and… a retractable staff expanded, soon to be coated in electricity enough to form a… light-blue saber.


    “The MAS-7 is an advanced Infantry Saber developed for those few specialists worth of its power and speed. It has two main features with the Attack form being the one you currently deployed-” The General continued with these descriptions, only to pause as the woman pushed another button. The following effect was that the blade bent a little and the electricity moved to form a… shield.


    “Fascinating,” Misfit-03 commented while waving a little the newly-formed defensive form. “I suppose it has some limits since its based with electricity.”


    While Ironwood went to explain a little more the merits and flaws of the MAS-7, I felt tugged away by some words being whispered by the confusing fourth member of this squad. I noticed that she was staring at the blade with her head tilted to the side. I couldn’t recognize any of her muffled whispers and… she turned to look at me.


    “Is there something wrong?”


    I blinked, surprised by her sudden query. “Not truly. No.”


    The girl didn’t press further, and I moved my stare away as it was finally her turn to reveal her ‘cool’ sniper.


    The box opened and soon the girl was shivering in eagerness at the monstrous thing she had just unleashed. It had been folded to be properly put within the container and… it was a very strong-looking sniper. If before this moment I thought Anti-Tank snipers were the strongest kind of guns of their kind… but then someone decided to introduce the anti-building sniper that I was currently looking at.


    That’s truly a powerful-looking gun.


    “The AMOR-13 is something I could say was the most expensive to recover, but I feel quite certain that this gun is the best fit for you. It’s a-”


    “A High-Velocity Electromagnetic Sniper that literally makes any other sniper pale in comparison! More than twelve shots in the chamber, its explosive rounds are devastating enough to shatter through buildings and-”


    “You’re hugging it a little to eagerly, 04,” I interrupted dryly, my sassy comment getting the girl to tense up in shock at my words.


    “W-what about it? Shouldn’t I embrace such a masterpiece of a gun? This beauty of a gunsmith’s dream?”


    More like a wet dream from the way you’re molesting that poor gun. Sure, I would certainly be driven to cuddle into that mass of unadulterated destruction-causer without hesitation, but I would’ve done it in private, away from the eyes of others.


    There is a standard in loving good-looking guns!


    I thought that it was a syndrome restrained to the Rose family. I can now say for sure that there are two cases beyond that line.


    [Is is normal for someone to be kissing a weapon like that?]


    That is a sight I’ve been bestowed… for over sixty years now.


    “You shouldn’t molest that ‘masterwork’, you brat,” I retorted at being subjected at that sudden aggressive tone.


    I could feel her glaring back at me now. “Don’t call me- a brat!!!”


    “Perhaps you should both stop behaving like brats,” 03 piped in with a motherly tone. “I understand that you are incredibly tense for the situation, but I suggest it would be better to focus on our mutual issue rather than bicker with each other.”


    There was silence after those good words and I couldn’t help but lower my head in a moment of shame. Perhaps I had gotten my nerves burning a little more than usual now that I knew that Sienna was in danger.


    The same action was followed by 04, the girl looking nervous all at once at being reprimanded together with me.


    I sighed. “Look- I’m sorry that I snapped a little. I just have some troubles that need fixing once this is all over.”


    “I-I understand,” She replied quietly. “I do have some issues to deal too, a-and I hope you find a solution to your troubles.”


    “Likewise, 04,” I said while I smiled at that truthful sentence.


    I felt a little less at the world after butting head with someone about something so silly and easy to resolve. But before I had the chance to resume the conversation, Ironwood decided to intervene with a tired sigh.


    “While I’m glad you got these divergences sorted out this early on, I think it’s time we move on to the real mission,” The General commented with a calm tone, directing us to look at part of the office that was now opening to reveal a private landing zone where an airship was waiting for us to board it. “I shall offer more explanations over the matter once we arrive in Mantle.”


    We all nodded, slowly following the armored officer up to the open section of the bullhead-like vehicle, settling down by the seats available there while the pilot began the lift off.


    The procedure was slow, but as soon as the airship was stable enough and away from the ground, it soared over Atlas and then down to Mantle, the sight of the former Capital of the Kingdom already making me unnerved over the situation we were supposed to deal as of now.


    It was quite the unpleasant place where to go for the holidays. I could see plenty of reasons to never visit it considering the polluted air and the cracked walls just making it appear like some rundown city that had been forsaken by God- the Gods to be precise.


    Just as the airship hovered over the city, I started to notice that something was off in the already badly-shaped settlement. I could see fire, I could hear screams and inhuman roars happening down below.


    “General, I think there is a big problem,” I muttered, but the man was already distracted with his communication device, discussing with the men on the ground.


    There was some tense silence at this, but soon the General was done with his quick interaction through his Scroll. “The situation has escalated. Grimm have somehow invaded the section where Joker and Tragedy have been spotted and… they might be trying to force themselves into one of the blocked entry points.”


    He stood up from his seat, standing beside me as we both stared at the predicament. “Seriousness is a must. I don’t need to explain that civilians are at risk as we’re speaking right now.”


    The rest of the squad nodded and soon the pilot managed to get to land in the closest landing zone to the epicenter of the chaos. I was the first one to step out of the airship, my hands grasping tightly at the shotgun as my visor finally twitched and displayed a proper grid for the weapon I was holding. I could feel the inner Heavy Metal building up as I knew that I had to rip and tear if we wanted to get to where Hazel and Tyrian were right now.


    I saw police officers, militia members and some Atlesian soldiers scrambling to aid the evacuation of the civilians that had to be forced out of their homes. Howles rippled through the cacophony of gunshots and explosions, with various Beowolves trying to overwhelm the stiff resistance created by the combined forces.


    From survival in the woods to a wartorn battleground. The irony of someone that wanted a peaceful life. But I guess that I, just like a certain Yoshikage Kira, will have to take onto the challenge and deal with the disturbance.





    Of course Kira is a serial killer and I’m not, still I wanted to appear cool. I needed the cool, the hype. I had to go through the horde of Grimm with the rest of the group.


    Ironwood didn’t linger too much, already leading us towards the large skirmish in front of us, with 03 keeping close to me while 04 deviated from following us and actually reach a favorable positions to start to snipe down the various monsters down.


    With the General taking the first shots with his handgun, I decided to focus my attention at the approaching pack of Beowolves that had detached from the main force.


    I huffed, my aim quickly directed at the head of the Alpha and- BANG!


    The powerful blast tore through the head and spine and torso of the bastard. I saw the creatures almost tripping at the sudden wake-call and I felt the need to show affection to the monstrous tool of death and sorrow that I had been bestowed with.


    I could now feel what 04 was feeling just a while ago-


    Told ya!


    I blinked, returning back on reality as I saw two of the remaining Grimm getting blasted to dust by the girl and her possibly-compensating sniper.


    She isn’t that much tall.


    But so you are too.


    [You’re just average in height. I think. Is this average in this modern times?]


    Ozpin didn’t reply to that question much to his immense relief and I focused on taking down the three wolf-like monsters in front of me.


    The scattershot didn’t disappoint as I destroyed the creatures the same way their leader died. In the fashion of utter annihilation and lack of gruesome details because of their odd biology.


    Why am I sad that I’m not seeing some blood getting spilled?


    [Your ‘girl that is also a friend’ is bedridden and close to death, your brain is getting influenced by the rush of the moment and… when was the last time you drained your stress?]


    The answer to that query is never. I think we might be seeing some madness happening rather soon and… why the hell James gave him an overpowered Shotgun.


    But I wasn’t listening anymore. I had entered in my happy place, and I was happily decimating Grimm while the former couple debated about the current state of my sanity.


    Misfit-03 seemed to be doing fine, cleaving her way through four Beowolves that had unluckily rushed all at once towards her. A clean and swift streak that was soon increased by more unfortunate fiends joining that meat-grinding experience.


    04 was almost giggling through the comms as she sniped without mercy nor restrain all of the Grimm that ended up in her sight. There was just a degree of frustration being released so fiercely and furiously in that manner… and I wasn’t certainly holding back myself from smiling happily at the destruction.


    It was the right thing to do, especially since Grimm were known to fester in negative emotions. I needed to attain peace through violence and… there was nothing amoral in going berserk on Mami Salami’s little minions.


    [Which is why I see nothing wrong with that. Actually, I wouldn’t mind jumping in and help you if I could.]


    This has nothing to do about the fact that the Grimm are part of your other self-


    [Of course that is also another reason to join the fun feast. Why wouldn’t I want to murder and destroy the atrocious abominations she had created when she had done the same with my baby girls?]


    Nevermind, you’re both lost causes.


    I was too hellbent in the carnage, to take notice of that, with Ironwood starting to lead the troops deeper in the dangerous area and into the next large section of resistance formed by the creatures of darkness.


    I primed the shotgun, my heartbeat quickening at the symphonious urgency of my adrenaline. I could feel the next wave come, and the more died, the more closer we would get to the two bastards.


    Finally the entirety of my stress unraveled before the monsters, and I had little to worry about with people covering my arse if I went to deep in my brief bout of insanity.


    Rip and tear, I found myself humming harmoniously. Rip and tear.


    ----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------


    AN


    Okay, maybe it’s more of Doomslayer than John Wick. I mean, the motivations for both characters are similar to a strange degree (yet I’m sure that Daisy was killed after Doom 1), but the murderous emotion is still there.


    Rip and Tear… I guess?


    Also, who is Misfit-04? And why she seems so familiar?


    P.S. Kind of ironic that the current followers number in FFN is 606...
     
  30. madder

    madder Making the rounds.

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
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    Is Misfit-04 Ruby or Summer?
     
    Relyt33 likes this.
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