ANVL Part 1: The Empathetic Forger
AN: Hello everyone Marc here. Well this is a long time coming, but finally I am going immortalize my OC team: ANVL. This is part one of a bigger tale that I want to share. I'll give each of the team members an origin story before I actually get them to the main events of RWBY. However, I may put cameos of some of the characters meeting my characters in their everyday lives, so watch out for those. Well enough about me, lets get this Fic started with the Adamant Trailer!
Disclaimer: I don't own RWBY, it's associated characters, or any other medias I may use for the sole sake of entertainment. What I own is the OCs I created.
"We do not fear the unknown. We fear what we think we know about the unknown."
On the northern continent of Remnant held one of the 4 Kingdoms: Atlas, the highly military and "technologically advanced" nation of the world. Away from the near-marshal lawed city, in the western lands of Mantle, peaceful forests and fields filled with lush plants, rich earth, and ever-abundant animals dominated the landscape. Despite the highly populated Kingdoms, neither Atlas nor the other settlements of humanity ventured out and claimed these virgin lands. The reason was simple. Hidden in these unspoiled lands was the bane to humanity.
The Creatures of Darkness.
The Creatures of Destruction.
The Creatures of Grimm.
By now everyone knows the stories. That these creatures only devoured human flesh when they so choose. That they are attracted to negative human emotions such as sadness, envy, loneliness, or hatred. Knowing that they are the Darkness, while we are the light. And as long as Grimm plague Remnant, Humanity will never be safe. That is what we have been told about these pitch-black creatures; they are mindless monsters that want to send man back to the Void. That is all we know. And yet at this present moment, this is not what we see.
It was midday in the wilderness of Mantle. In an open meadow of the forest, grass and wild flowers strewn around the area with a small creak cutting through, was teaming with a variety of Grimm species. A pack of werewolf-like Beowolves were lazing around at the edge of the clearing; the elderly, more bone-armored Beowolves laid comfortably on the soft grass and passively watched their younger kin rough house amongst each other.
A pair of Boarbatusks were clashing their curved tusks against each other in order to see which was dominant. The swine-like species was covered in their traditional black fur, along with the bleach white bone-armor which most Grimm possess. Boarbatusk had numerous plates scattered on their back in the form of a hardened shell to protect them and add additional pain during their "rollout attack". They had two large inward curving tusks that were decorated with the red markings similar to their bone-masks.
A small flock of crow-sized Nevermores perched in the trees or free flew through the air, with an elder Nevermore the size of a bus overlooking the entire meadow from a sizable branch. These avian Grimm were similar in shape to ravens or crows with minute distinctions when compared to them. They feature their iconic bone-mask with a single back-facing crest, decorated with their unique crimson markings. The only peculiar physical traits were their two pairs of eyes, their two clawed wings, and their titanic size if they reached elder status.
The only lone Grimm in the assortment of creatures was an Ursa Major, the massive bear lookalikes sporting black fur, massive claws, a short-faced muzzle with their bone-masks, and ivory spikes jutting from their spine and back. This individual was scratching and pawing at a maple tree and staying OUT of the open area of the meadow.
The creatures of the meadow that witnessed the monstrous bear's arrival found the Ursa's actions peculiar. It shied away from any groups of Grimm and would remain at a distance in the protection of the trees' shadows. They would have assumed it was a human ploy to attack them if it were not for the fact that they couldn't sense any negative human emotions from the odd bear, nor the stiffness of the humans' machines in its movements. The Grimm wrote it off as an odd quirk of Ursas in general. Ursas did enjoy consuming sap even though Grimm in general didn't need to feed on such things.
What they didn't know was that the so-called "Ursa Major" was watching intently at each of the assembled groups of Grimm with its glowing, glassy red eyes. It quietly observed the group, unconsciously nodding in a human-like manner, until it picked up the sound of a snapping twig.
On the opposite side of the meadow was a Nightmare. This Grimm species was an equine-based creature possessed a rare pure-white color coat and an equally pearl mane and tail. While white colored Grimm were uncommon, this trait wasn't unheard of. It was reported that White-Grimm are even tougher than their commonly ebony counterparts.
This individual was obviously an elder, with the creature's elaborate bone-armor dotting its body and protecting it's vitals. One peculiar trait of a Nightmare was that their bone-armor on it's back was shaped like a saddle. People could ride and control Nightmares for a short time if they are able to mount them, but as soon as the would-be rider dismounts, the Nightmare most likely attempt to gore the rider with the single 4-ft long curve horn that grew off it's ivory-white masked skull. They didn't have any special attributes of their species except for their insane galloping speed. It is said that Nightmare could gallop from zero to 200-mph in 10 seconds.
The Nightmare was cautiously entering the meadow with a look that seemed like trepidation. It shifted its head back and forth, sweeping the area as if it were looking for danger. The assembled creatures only gave it a sparing glance before returning to their activities. However, the Ursa on the perimeter of the field paid close attention to the unknowing equine Grimm.
Satisfied that the area appeared safe, the Nightmare nickered behind it as it walked toward the creek. The Ursa taking in the sight tilted its head in curiosity. It appeared that the Nightmare was a mother because practically prancing along side her was a younger Nightmare. The small equine Grimm appeared to be the size of a foal or yearling. Its body was pure black and didn't have a speck of white bone adorning its body; not even a horned bone-mask on its face. If anyone saw the young Nightmare from a distance, it could have been mistaken for a common black horse. The only feature giving it away was its ever-glowing red eyes.
The Nightmare yearling was prancing about the meadow without a care. The young Grimm was bold, for it was trotting up to various groups of Grimm.
Normally, Grimm didn't fight amongst other Grimm species, for they are all united in their attraction of human negativity, but they could get annoyed if pestered long enough; which was exactly what the young Nightmare was doing.
The yearling pranced up to napping elder Beowolves and playfully nudged them. The disturbed werewolf Grimm that were roused from their sleep waved off the young Nightmare in an aggravated fashion, the equine backing off from the elderly wolves accordingly. Next, it was galloping after the airborne Nevermores, attempting to have a race with the nimble birds. With it being so young, the yearling couldn't even begin to reach its legendary speeds that it's species was known for.
In it's fun, the little equine bumped into the fighting Boarbatusks, whom had taken immediate offense at the surprise contact. They were angrily waving their tusks at the yearling, who was luckily smart enough to bolt away as soon as the Grimm swine chased after it. The yearling took immediate refuge behind its mother, making the elder Nightmare snort aggressively and stomp her hooves at the ornery Boarbatusks. The two pig-like creatures stopped in their trails at the mother's warning. They may not have been elders, but they were smart enough to avoid angering the wrath of an elder Grimm mother. They retreated elsewhere to resume their head-butt competition.
Now nudging her child along, the two equines reached creak in order for the mother Nightmare to sip at the cool water.
The Ursa observing the rare Grimm species grunted in surprise at the Nightmare choosing to drink water. Before the bear could attempt to get closer to observe them, the shriek of the elder Nevermore caught it's—and the rest of the Grimm's— attention.
Coming from the sky were three Bullhead aircrafts, each toeing a large shipping container on their magnetized undersides. Their jet-propulsion wings screeched through the air as it approached the clearing. The Grimm knew that humans flew in these crafts to hunt them down. However, only the Ursa was able to deduce who was attacking them from the bloody-red emblem emblazoned on the hull of the aircrafts.
The White Fang.
Before any of the Grimm could act, the Bullheads' nose turrets open fired on the Nevermores; cutting most of them down before they could takeoff. The gunfire escalated the agitation of the Grimm, as they all became feral at once. The Nightmares, while they too were acting aggressive, were backing away slowly to the trees for safety. The only Creature of Grimm NOT acting aggressively was the Ursa, who was still hidden in the shadows; it's glassy red eyes not displaying the rage that it felt inside itself.
Leaping out of the Bullheads were many Faunus freedom fighters, 60 men in total, all of them wielding pistols, rifles, or thick ropes. All of the members of the White Fang wore those white masks; a horrid mockery of what the Grimm naturally wore. The leader of the group had intricate designs red designs on his mask, only slightly obscuring his pointed wolf ears atop of his head, and wielded a custom tommy-gun.
He quickly barked out orders to his subordinates. "Get these beasts loaded up! Whatever's giving you problems, kill 'em!"
Immediately, the Creatures of Grimm went on the offensive. Beowolves snarled and charge at the White Fang members. The pair of Boarbatusks curled up into balls, running over unlucky Faunus who didn't get out of the way fast enough. Nevermores dropped out of the sky and pecked at their enemies' exposed skin, while the elder Nevermore shot multiple Fell-Feathers with a beat of it's mighty wings. Even the Nightmare bucked Faunus with her powerful back legs and stabbed them with her horn when they got too close; her yearling sticking close to her side and low to the ground to avoid the firefight. They were tearing through these lowly grunts, but the White Fang had numerical superiority and the support of 2 Bullheads; one of them was shot down when the elder Nevermore's spear-like feathers killed the pilot.
The White Fang's weapons shot electrical Dust rounds, temporarily stunning the Grimm that were attacking. Beowolves collapsed under the constant electrical rounds hitting them while most of the elders were put down for good when too many were ripping apart their forces. The smaller Nevermores fell out of the sky when stuck as well; whether they were unconscious or dead was unknown. One of the Boarbatusks were restrained by ropes the White Fang brought, the other was riddled with bullets when it killed too many Faunus members. Even the Nightmare was lassoed by multiple tethers and was pulled down to the earth by the combined strength of several White Fang men. She was giving off defiant whinnies and violent squirms as they held her down and hog-tied her hooves together. After most of the Grimm were captured or slain, the White Fang started loading up their prizes onto the remaining shipping containers on their battered Bullheads.
This was all witnessed by the enshrouded Ursa Major on the edge of the meadow, who was luckily still unnoticed by the extremist group. The bear Grimm shifted its ears forward as the leader of the group was addressing the concerns of one of his subordinates.
"Sir, we lost over half our men on this mission. Why do we need to trap all these Grimm? What is the purpose of all this?" An unnamed grunt complained. He and the remaining forces were cut up and battered from the quick, yet violent skirmish moments ago.
"It is for what a plan our leader has cooking up in a few months. We're probably gonna use these filthy beasts to attack some human compound or something. I know we lost men, but if our leader say we need to capture Grimm, we capture Grimm." The leader of the hunting party informed. Unbeknownst to them, the Ursa was fuming on the inside, even though his features never shifted an inch.
"Was this really Adam's idea? This seems a bit too extreme, even for us." The grunt's only response was a weary sigh.
Before their talk could continue, the restrained elder Nevermore roused from its sleep and was shrieking angrily. Many White Fang members tried to pull it down to submission, but the beastly bird's strength was unparalleled.
"Shit! It's waking up!" A female Faunus cried out.
"Get that thing under control!" A Faunus male roared as he and a group of men tugged at the tethers restraining the Nevermore.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Watch the beak!" Another called out as he nimbly dodge a peck aimed at him.
The leader snarled angrily as he stalked forward, bringing his machinegun to bear. Sensing the aggression coming off of the Wolf-Faunus, the elder Nevermore snapped its attention to the angry leader.
"CCAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWW!" The Nevermore shrieked just as aggressively at his new target. Before it could lunge at the Wolf-Faunus, he squeezed the trigger of his gun.
The Nevermore's shrieks turned into cries of pain. It gave one last cry before slumping to the ground; it's body dissolving into wisps of black smoke rising to the air.
"I told you," the wolf-leader started as he shouldered his gun, "if they give you any problems, kill 'em…"
"SIR!" Another of his subordinates cried out.
The angry leader just groaned at his incompetent men. "What is it now!?"
Turning towards the disturbance, he could see a yearling Nightmare lassoed in the same manner as its mother. It attempted to attack some of the Faunus while they weren't looking to reach the bound elder Nightmare, but it was unfortunately capture. That didn't mean it would submit easily.
Whenever one member would get too close to hold it down, the yearling bucked at the just the right time and nailed them in the gut. And if they got too close to it's face, it would stomp at them with its front hooves, head-butt their stomachs, or nip at their hands. Its attacks were sloppy, and more of an annoyance than an actual threat to the White Fang members struggling to make the young Nightmare yield.
While this was happening, the bound elder Nightmare was whinnying in fear as the Wolf-Faunus stalked over to the struggling yearling.
"How many time do I have to tell you stupid people?! If they give you problems—" Before the leader could raise his Tommy-gun at the equine Grimm, something at the edge of the forest decided that it was time to act.
Stomping out of the forest into the opening was the observing Ursa Major, and he was majorly pissed. It had all the hallmarks of a regular Ursa Major, but if one were to look closely at it's head, they would notice that it's bone-mask gleamed too brightly in the sun and it's eyes had the same shine as a glass marble and glowed red a bit too strongly for a normal Grimm's glowing eyes. The supposed bear Grimm began walking toward the remaining group of White Fang members.
The leader shifted his gun to the bigger, more dangerous threat slowly making it's way towards them.
"Open fire men!"
The remaining White Fang members brought out their weapons and fired at the still slow walking bear, which had just gotten on all fours and began to gallop straight towards them. Round after round they fired, but their bullets just ricochet of the Ursa's hide. While it is not unheard of to have Dust rounds bounce off of some Grimm's bone-armor, the sound of their bullets didn't sound like they were hitting a Grimm's reinforced hide. It sounded like they were shooting at a steel wall.
Closing the distance between them in 5-seconds, the Ursa lunged at the leader Faunus; the bear's head slamming into his gut from the sudden tackle. The Wolf-Faunus was in serious pain. The Ursa certainly didn't feel like a living Grimm, it felt as if a car slammed into him. His attacker then grabbed the leader by the neck with it's massive, and now very obvious, metallic claws and brought him up to it's face. All the while his subordinates kept firing at the Ursa's spiked back, with little effect. He could see now that he was at eye-level with the beast that it was clearly NOT a Grimm. The eyes were a window to the soul—or whatever constitutes as a soul for Grimm—, and he could see that the beast's eyes held no malice, hatred, or ravenous hunger for human flesh. It was blank. Glassy.
Like a lens.
"What… are…. you?" The Faunus managed to choke out from the not-Ursa's hold. And to his surprise, the beast responded.
"Just a nature lover, bud." The fake Grimm threw the leader as if he were a baseball at a group of White Fang grunts, making them tumble over at the surprise living missile. "Just a nature lover…"
At the surprise from the apparently talking Grimm, the White Fang grunts stopped their firing and looked on in amazement.
The Ursa's voice, which sounded like a male teenager, possessing a metallic tang to it similar to a voice coming out of a speaker on the radio. When he spoke, its mouth didn't move, but instead sounded like it came from a speaker box from inside its mouth. He turned toward the remaining group of fighter, standing at it intimidating height, looking down at them.
"I'm gonna say this to you guys once so listen up! Leave the Grimm here and you are free to go. Or…" The Ursa growled, his crimson eyes glowed angrily, displaying its fury, "stay and I get to make you my personal punching bags for my Weapon-Frame…"
After a beat, one brave or stupid grunt raised his gun at the talking Ursa.
"KILL IT!" The grunt roared as his gun fired a barrage of bullets, the rest of the White Fang following suit.
The beast just sighed as the bullets bounced off its metal hide. "Why do bad guys never pick the easy way?"
After his quip to himself, the not-Ursa got on all fours again and growled. He did need to work out all the kinks in this form anyways.
"GGRRROOOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRR!" Like the animal he's based on, the Ursa charged at the group of Faunus extremists. With every bullet, the markings on its bone-mask glowed brighter. Unheeded by this, the Grimm bear crashed into the group and proceeded to close combat.
With a swipe of his right paw, several Faunus flew through the air. With a swipe of his left paw, several more were launched violently airborne. All the while, the Ursa seemed to be laughing at how easy it was. One grunt foolishly tried to charge at the talking Grimm head. The Ursa let out a snort before lunging and clamping his jaws around the Faunus's upper body armor. The man was crying out in terror as he begged for help as the Ursa shook the man like a ragdoll. The Grimm later launched his bite victim at a group of charging Faunus, making them all collapse like pins. Several of the more agile Faunus avoided the monster's swipes and mauling as they tried to take him down from a distance.
"Keep your distance!" A black haired Cat-Faunus screamed at the other Faunus still able to fight. "Ursa's don't have ranged attacks. If you keep out of its reach, then we can beat it!"
As the grunts distanced themselves from his swipes, the Ursa just chuckled to himself when he heard the girl's statement.
The Ursa let loose a throaty growl as it's mouth opened up, flames spilling at the corners of it's maw. "That's what you think…"
The Ursa then unleashed a stream of napalm from its mouth in a flamethrower-like fashion. Many who were caught off guard from the unexpected attack were pushed back from the searing flames or blown back when the Dust fueled fire made contact with the ground and exploded. Some unfortunate members were caught on fire and were screaming in agony as the flames chipped away at their Aura Reserves. They were luckily able to put out the flames with some help of their fellow Faunus. If that wasn't bad enough, the fire-breathing Ursa stood tall and stalked toward a cowering group of White Fang extremists. He towered over the scorching flames he created and walked unhindered through them. His crimson eyes were burning just as furiously as the inferno engulfing the area, his gaze never wavering from the small group of Faunus he was attempting to scare off. To them, he looked like a demon from hell.
Just as the Ursa was going to strike again with his claws, the black haired Faunus girl suddenly appeared on his spiked back and stabbed him through the back with her blade coming through the other side. The speaker-boxed voice yelped in surprise as he struggled to grab at the pest on his back.
"Gather up the wounded and regroup at the airships!" The Faunus girl ordered as she ducked beneath another wild swipe from the Ursa. "I'll handle this guy!"
Not needing any more encouragement, the group gathered up the injured and retreated back to the Bullheads.
The Cat-Faunus girl watching to insure they got out safely from the blaze was her undoing as the Ursa violently shook his back, causing the girl to fall off in surprise. The enraged fire-breathing Grimm used his left paw to back hand the black haired Faunus away. Anger clouding his judgment and making him put an unnecessary amount of force behind his blow. Suddenly the body just faded like an after image as she summersaulted off her copy and kicked his chin upwards; wincing when her foot made contact with what felt like a metal jaw. Despite being stunned, the Ursa continued using his previous attack's momentum and struck her gut with his right paw. His attack sent her hurtling towards a tree. When she made contact with the tree, her Aura protected her from the jarring impact before fading away to recharge, leaving her defenseless. Her White Fang mask fell off to her side as she tried to regain her breath from the bear's merciless strength AND slamming into the unyielding foliage.
With the White Fang's brutal attack on the Grimm, their plan to use them to most likely attack innocent people, and the sudden near injuries he received, the Ursa immediately saw red and all joking and talk fell to the wayside.
The Creature charged with more animalistic fury than what was seen before. All that was running through his mind was "kill, slaughter, destroy SOUL!"
Terror taking hold of the Faunus girl, she took out her pistol-sword again and unloaded every bullet she had at the charging monstrosity. It did little good as the Dust rounds ricocheted off of its hide. She kept squeezing the trigger, her actions rewarding her with a "Bang" of her gun, until her heart stopped when she heard her gun go silent.
It was just as well, since the Ursa just closed the distance between the two as the gun ran out of ammo. His massive paw swiped her sword out of her hand and slammed her into the tree behind her, his left paw holding her down. Exhaling from the sudden impact, she didn't have enough breath to scream as she witnessed the Ursa's claws descending upon her unprotected skull. All she could do was shut her eyes and wait for death to claim her.
Realizing that she was still alive, the black haired girl cracked open one of her amber-eyes. She dared not move, because just a mere centimeter from impaling her face was the Grimm's lethal claws. The Cat-Faunus just gulped as she shifted as much as she could from the beast's hold on her to take in the form of her near-killer.
The Ursa seemed to be struggling and shuttering if the trembling paw was any indication. The girl now realized that this "Ursa" was nothing more than a machine. The sparks coming off of the beast's wound from her previous sneak attack against it was undeniable evidence. And thanks to the hole she made from her attack, the Faunus girl could hear words coming from inside the mechanical monster.
"I am a human, not a Grimm. I am a human, not a Grimm. I am a human, not a Grimm…"
His mantra continued for several minutes before the pressure was eased slightly off of her. Not enough to escape of course, just from "Crush you like an ant" to "Using my weight to hold you down".
"Sorry about that, Kitty-Cat. I sometimes don't know my own strength. You okay hun?"
She could practically hear his sheepishness coming from his speaker. Before she could talk, she was interrupted by the sound of rapid machinegun fire again.
The rounds impacted the metal Grimm and it went down. Not from wounds mind you, but from some the leader's shots striking it's sparking wound. It stalled and collapsed off to the side sprawling on its back, freeing the girl from its massive weight in the process. The Faunus girl ran over to the approaching Wolf-Faunus as he replaced his now empty drum of bullets with a fresh one.
"Wait! That isn't a Grimm. It has a person inside!" The man just rolled his eyes before pushing her out of the way, intent to kill the monstrous annoyance.
"I don't care Blake! You may be Adam's personal 'lap-cat', but I will get him results! And this BEAST!" He shouted, pointing his gun at the downed Ursa. "Is gonna be killed by ME for standing in our way!"
As he stood in front of the Ursa's torso and took aim, steam hissed out from the side of its chest, followed by several mechanical clanks. Both Faunus were caught off guard by the new action.
Next, the chest of the Ursa forcefully ejected off its body, slamming into the Wolf-Faunus and causing him to stumble back. What followed next was a series of shifts associated with Remnant weapon-shift technology. Only this shift was coming from the Ursa, whose furry hide faded away and was apparently a hard-light hologram. The fading hologram revealed the gunmetal-gray shell that made up the Grimm's form. It was currently shifting and folding away to congregate on the user's back, who was groaning and complaining about how long it'll take for repairs on "his Ursa".
The mysterious teenager was getting back on his feet, his weapon just finishing folding away to form a large metal hiker-style traveling backpack with robotic clamps in the place of shoulder straps and glowing lines of fiery orange strips traveling the length of the bag on each side, he just groaned at the Wolf-Faunus who made his Ursa-form inoperable.
He was tanned young man with dark, short styled hair. He was wearing a metallic-hued, steel colored open trench coat with the tails reaching the back of his knees, over a simple black shirt. The steel-hued article of clothing had pulsating orange lines, 2 on each side running down the sides and curving to the back of the coat from the collar to the tail of the coat, that emitted the same energy as his metal bag. On his hands were brown-leather work gloves with steel studs along the knuckles. The teen also wore dark blue jeans that appear to have slight scorch marks splotched around the pant legs. His boots were heavily armored in sturdy metal and encompassed his feet and legs up to his knees in the same gunmetal tone of his weaponized backpack. On his head looked like a high-tech welders mask in the open position, making look like a metal baseball cap, which was also in the same metal color scheme. He appeared to have what looked like a one-handed war-hammer with a silvery, porous rock as the head hanging casually from his belt from the right side, and an oddly shaped gun with an ammo belt that fed from his backpack hanging on his belt's left.
His entire form reminded Blake of an industrial style "Cyber-punk" character in one of the many books she had read.
"Way to go ass-hat. It's going to take forever finding the right parts to patch that hole you made in my Frame's 'Ursa-form'." The human male stated. What made it odd was that his message didn't match his tone of voice. He claimed that he was angry, but his monotone drawl made him seem only slightly peeved.
Despite not being a mechanized Grimm anymore and surrounded by the few White Fang members still battle capable, his expression and tone never changed from monotony. It honestly unnerved Blake, who had a quick glimpse of the pilot's humor when in his robotic Ursa form. Now, his tone made it seem like Atlesian security-mechs had more life than him. All through Blake's observations, the teen continued to spew technobabble on the upkeep of his weapon and her few comrades continued to surround his unmoving form.
Fed up with the monotone boy, the Wolf-Faunus shouted at the current focus of his ire. "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU!"
His outburst made the teen pause his techno-rambling as he turned towards the irritated group leader.
"I told you already, Wolfie. I am a nature lover. Pay attention." His dull tone somehow managed to weave his sarcastic insult into his reply, which made the wolf-man even angrier.
"You may have caught us off guard the first time, human. But now you are exposed, surrounded, and have only that tiny hammer and pistol fight with!" The leader shifted his gun to bear, aiming at the teen. "Surrender, and I'll make your death a quick one!"
The other Faunus followed suit and aimed the guns at the dull teen. Though Blake was reluctant as she reloaded and aimed her pistol. Threatening and killing people still bothered the girl, who was wavering in her loyalties of the White Fang's cause at the moment.
Arching an eyebrow, he scanned the 10-armed gunmen. After a few moments, the young man just closed his eyes and sighed.
"Very well then…"
In a blink, the young man un-holstered both his hammer and his belt-fed pistol. He held his hammer in his right hand, ready to strike, and his odd gun in his left. The teen aimed the weapon directly at the Wolf-Faunus's face.
"I'm afraid I'll have to decline, Wolfie." The young man blandly stated as he gave a swiftly jerked his head downward, making his welders mask close and cover his face.
The Faunus leader trembled in rage. "FIRE!"
The young man immediately turned on his heel and dropped to left knee. His metal backpack absorbed the gunfire of the dust rounds and coincidently made the glowing lines of his bag shine brighter. In the second the firefight happened, the teen swiftly turned and stood again.
Bringing up his pistol in a sweeping arc, it barked out several times. Each member that presently encircled him didn't come out unscathed as the gun's payload struck. It cause most of them to stumble back, the gun's ammo exploding on their Aura, but some of the Faunas collapsed in pain as several broke through and were imbedded in their arms and/or legs.
Blake, who luckily evaded the monotonous young man's shots, quickly approached a fallen Faunus cadet who was crying out in pain when her Aura failed to stop the shots.
'Poor girl… This was her first assignment.' Thought Blake as she surveyed the injured girl's leg. Instead of a bullet hole-riddled leg, Blake's eyes widen in surprise at what she saw. 'Ar—Are those nails?!'
Blake was staring at the several 4-inch spikes lodged in the girl's leg. The hardware appliance-turned weapon also had tiny red Dust crystals as the nail head if she had to guess. Blake's finger only grazed the metal and she drew her hand back as she winced. The damn thing was super heated! It was in the process of cooling off, but Blake knew that the heated metal spikes had essentially fused with the girl's flesh. Meaning that any attempt to just rip the nail out would cause the girl immense pain and potential blood lose from the freshly opened wound.
Blake spared a glance at the gunmetal human. He was now confronting several of her comrades at once in melee with his metallic stone-hammer. She had to admit, the human was very skilled. He drew back his blunt weapon to strike the Faunus in front of him, timing it just right to clock the head of another member attempting to slash at him with his sword from behind, and slammed his hammer on the side of his pistol. It basically exploded in the man's hand as the teen followed up with a left elbow to the man's gut, making him hunch over, followed by his hammer striking the man's face.
Blake noted that the metal teen's constant "circular turning" fighting style. He didn't seem to need to protect his back as often since his metal backpack seemed impervious to standard firearms and bladed damage; he just focused on using the momentum of his twists to either strike with his hammer or unleash a barrage of heated nails at his opponents. One such opponent was the Wolf-Faunus who gained some distance a few yards away and was taking pot shots at the human; bullets crashing against the durable metal weaved in his clothes and welders mask. This temporarily disrupted his flowing movements of his combat. His mask had a slit that displayed his eyes managed to convey a slight frown before he kneed his opponent in his crotch, showing Blake that he wasn't opposed to fighting dirt, and unleashed a flurry of nails toward the rifleman.
The Faunus shooter used his gun to protect his upper body, but then the gunmetal teen aimed lower. His first two shots struck both his feet, making the Faunus man scream in pain, and effectively nailed his feet to the ground. Some of the White Fang member's attempted to pull free the wailing man, but to no avail. The teen then continued to fire, but only at the ground. He made a trail of heated nails from the wounded man and the people assisting him, all the way to where the teen stood. The gunmetal human's gaze crinkled when he gave a smirk as jumped into the air and struck the first nail in his long chain in the earth. What happened next was a series of explosions going off with the force of several grenades. All of those explosions were headed straight towards the pinned man. The others who were trying to help him ran off, and the trapped man only had a chance to scream before he was blown off his feet and flew a few yards. Blake tried to forget the sickening image of the wailing Faunus leader being dragged off by his comrades, the bottom portion of his legs scorched right off from the blast.
Focusing back to the injured girl in front of her, she tried to give her a reassuring smile.
"Okay sweetie, I'm going to get these nails out of you." Blake took off a portion of her ribbon and ripped a strip of her shirt. She knew that it was going to be bloody. "Can you bite down on this for me?" She rhetorically asked as she practically shoved her ribbon into the girl's mouth.
"Okay I'm going to count to three." Blake informed grasping the now cooled metal. "One… Two…"
The Cat-Faunus girl viciously ripped out the spike before her promised number, her impromptu patient screaming through the black ribbon clenched between her teeth as tears spilt from her eyes. Blake had to pull four more nails lodged in the girl's leg before her patient slipped into unconsciousness from the superheated spikes' mutilation.
Sighing in relief, she proceeded to wrap the cadet's bleeding legs. She grimaced slightly at the shoddy tourniquet, but it at least covered the cadet's wounds and stemmed the bleeding.
"You need some help Kitty-Cat?"
Blake jumped at the sudden dull voice from behind her. The black Cat-Faunus swiftly turned and whipped her pistol up and fired off some bullets. Predictably, the young man twisted right and dropped to his right knee, his backpack again absorbing her bullets. He then turned right again while kneeled, shifting to his left knee and following up with a strike of his hammer; hitting her gun out of her hands. The gunmetal teen then jammed his modified nail-gun underneath her chin, forcing her head painfully up.
"Pull that shit again, and you'll get to know the literal meaning of 'losing one's head'." The young man threatened, his tone still unchanging. "Nod if you understand me."
Blake slowly nodded, not wanting to gamble with her life with his weapon digging into her chin. He jerked his head sharply upwards to open his welders mask to its cap form. The corners of his mouth then shifted slightly to somewhat resemble a smile. He then reach behind him and pulled out an item from a compartment on his backpack and shoved it into her hands. Blake shifted her eyes downward to see what he gave her.
It was a first-aid kit.
"Use that to patch up your buddy, Kitty-Cat. I got some antibiotics in there and gauze works better than cloth. Your gonna need it when you wake up."
"Wait, what do yo—?"
The girl slipped into unconsciousness after being bludgeoned on her head from the young man's hammer.
The teen stood back up to straight the wrinkles of his coat and sighed. "Another botched Field Study…"
Littering the area were the inert forms of the White Fang. They were all defeated from either too many superheated nails lodged in their bodies and passed out from the pain, or were knocked out from his hammer's blunt force trauma to the face. The teen holstered his weapons and gathered up the fallen forms of the Faunus.
After several hours of work, the sun began to set on the small meadow. The only activity was the Grimm in the shipping containers howling for freedom and a single human dragging the unconscious Faunus inside one of their Bullheads. It was a lot of work for a single person, but he managed. With the last Faunus loaded, he pulled out his firearm and aimed it at the inert body.
*BANG! BANG! BANG!*
The gunmetal teen holstered his smoking souped-up nail-gun, "There. That takes care of them."
All members of the White Fang were nailed down onto the airship's interior by their clothes. He made sure to place the black Cat-Faunus in the pilot's seat and a note nailed on the arm of her chair telling her that if he saw any more White Fang trying to capture Grimm for malicious purposes, that she would regret it. He had to admit, not the most original threat ever, but it got his message across. He would have normally called the Atlas authorities to pick them up, but he nearly lost control and killed the amber-eyed girl. He figured that he would spare her and her group as penance since he nearly slipped again…
Plus, if the supposed "Kingdom of Innovation" didn't detect White Fang activity despite basically being in their backyard, then the gunmetal teen shouldn't encourage more of Atlas' legendary incompetence by giftwrapping their foes for them.
The young man's stoic features nearly cracked a smile at the thought of Atlas' title as the "Strongest Military Power of Remnant". Those fools. General Ironwood needed some better standards to measure by. Foundry standards. Maybe then his bite would match his bark.
Shaking off his musings, he typed in a few commands on the Bullhead's dashboard to start the autopilot and strode off to exit the craft. He charted their Bullhead to fly back to it's last known location, it being Vale; White Fang forces have been sighted there pretty often now of days. He was making his way out of the aircraft, kicking in the face a Faunus who was rousing from his sleep back to unconsciousness, and towards the shipping containers that held the Grimm.
He hoped to salvage at least one good thing from this disaster of an outing.
The first thing that the teen heard was the constant slamming and pounding against the metal of the containers. He could hear the growls of Beowolves clawing at the door. The Nevermores shrieked and called out in a symphony of ear piercing cries. They were either egging the Beowolves on or calling for help from any passing Grimm. Even the now solitaire Boarbatusk snorted viciously and was slamming its tusks against their confining walls.
From the sound of it, it seems the Grimm have woken up.
The metal-clad human went straight to the door to study the lock momentarily. Nodding to himself he took 10-paces away from the door, yanking off his left glove as he walked, and took a few deep breaths as he cracked his neck. In an instant, the young man grabbed his nail-gun and shot dead center at the electronic lock on the door that was keeping the creatures of Grimm contained. The sudden shot caused the Grimm to go into an even wilder frenzy. The ravenous creatures had burst through the doors with a series of roars and snarls; the young man casually holstered his gun as the demonic looking monsters encircled him. The Creatures of Destruction and Bane to all Humanity barked, snarled, and screeched at the gunmetal teen, trying to make him cower in fear or foolishly fight against them. And yet, all the metal-clad human did was one thing.
By now, beings with souls, Human or Faunus, would be shivering in terror from their monstrous appearance or enraged at their very existence and the slaughters their species cause throughout the centuries. Yet as their senses searched the gunmetal teen's emotions all they felt was a void.
No Sadness, no Loneliness, no Envy, no Hatred, no Fear, no negative emotions calling out to them. Absolutely NOTHING was emanating from the human before them. It was as if his entire emotional spectrum had been dulled. They could sense his soul, marking him as a Human. They could see that he was armed with weapons if the hammer and gun were any evidence to go by. But with all the evidence pointing to what should be obvious in their minds, their primal instincts weren't calling for his blood, for Human's nullified emotional state didn't agitate them.
This confused the Grimm so much that most of the Beowolves couldn't help but tilt their heads; even the experienced elders were put off by the emotional void of a Human. The Nevermores halted their piercing cries as they used their sharp eyes to try to discern if the emotional anomaly in front of them was actually a human machine. The Boarbatusk ceased his snorting and grunted in confusion.
Slowly, his right hand inched toward his family forged hammer. The Grimm easily saw this and were put on the defensive. The only reason why they didn't immediately attack was because their instincts didn't kick in to tell them to protect themselves. They watched as the teenaged human fully freed his hammer from its holster and grab a rod-like cartridge filled with red powder from his back. Loading the rod into the hammer's handle, the gunmetal teen held the seemingly simple weapon in front of him and squeezed the trigger on the hilt.
The pores on the stone of the hammerhead ignited with flames.
The hoard of Grimm jumped back in surprise and snarled again, assuming this was a human trick to end them. Finally, the young man spoke up.
"Shhh… It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you." The teen's tone was still as static as ever. He slowly swept his hammer in an arc back and forth like a torch. The flames coming off the hammerhead entranced the Grimm and—for the moment— made them docile. His words, while not as emotive as one would expect, put them at ease and reflected his Aura as non-threatening. "Just relax… I am not a danger to you. Relax…"
With respectful caution, the young man slowly made his way to one of the elder Beowolves. The teen held out his left hand, bare from the brown leather that formerly covered it. It had only made half the distance to its intended target. He would let the elder Grimm decide to close the gap.
Puzzled, the Beowulf elder sniffed the human's hand. After a handful of seconds, the Grimm leader huffed and he barked out several times to its pack. Apparently, he and other Beowolves lost interest in the strange anomaly in front of them because one by one, the pack retreated and ran off into the dark forest. With a twinge of disappointment, the teen proceeded to try again with the other present Grimm species.
Once again, he was not successful in his attempts. The Nevermores practically flew away the moment he approached them, and the Boarbatusk actually lunged at him to elicit a response from the gunmetal human. After he expertly evaded the creature's tusks, it too vacated the area. Leaving the dull teen to alone in the meadow with a hammer lit like a torch, and a minimal feeling of annoyance. Just as he placed his glove back on his hand and about to call the whole day a bust, he heard scrambling from inside the shipping container.
Tilting his head with an arched brow, the metal-clad teen made his way inside of the metal container and raised his impromptu torch up to cast it's orange glow in to the shadows.
Bound to the floor of the container was the snow-colored Nightmare. Her formerly pristine coat was scuffed up and marked with dirtied footprint from the other Grimm species' attempts of escape, stepping on her restrained form in the process. The tip of her horn has broken off and left the curved ivory with a jagged edge. Despite her treatment, the White Nightmare was a creature to behold.
Nickering over her was the yearling Nightmare, who was trying it's best to pull apart the ropes binding its mother. It tried every angle to loosen the cords, while stopping to nuzzle the mother Nightmare affectionately, with her grunting appreciatively at her yearling's efforts.
Noticing the light of the hammer/torch, the Ivory Nightmare snapped her head to its wielder. Her brays and aggressive snorts made it clear that she was still willing to fight off the Human despite being tied to the floor. The yearling halted its attempts of freeing it's mother and stood in front of the downed Grimm equine, trying to look as intimidating as possible. Given the fact that the yearling looked as threatening as a newborn foal, it's attempts did not work.
Not making any sudden moves, the young man unclamped his weaponized backpack and set it on the floor with a soft clank, followed by the nail-gun attached to his side in an attempt to be as nonthreatening as possible. He then set his welders mask that sat on his head on top of the cumbersomely large weapon. The two equine-based Grimm were watching his every action; just as equally puzzled at the emotionally barren teen like the other Grimm were.
"Easy you two. Looks like those guys in the White Fang didn't set you up with first class accommodations." He droned calmly at the skittish yearling. The mother Nightmare trained its eyes on the gunmetal teen, making sure he didn't make any sudden or threatening moves.
The flames coming off his hammer entranced the two horse Grimm, but they were still on edge and agitated at the blunt weapon in his hands. Noticing their unease, the young man paused and set down his hammer on the floor before continuing his slow trek to the bound Nightmare.
Now completely unarmed, the young man could have easily been attacked and injured by the young Grimm free in the container with him. Remarkably, the yearling sidestepped the approaching human and let him approach its mother. He kneeled next to the White-Nightmare, sympathy faintly finding its way across his stoic features.
"How would you like me to get you out of those bonds, eh?" The young man asked, before tugging at the lassos keeping the Nightmare pinned. The equine Grimm intently observed the human as he undid the ropes that secured her to the floor. As he was untying the knots, the young man continued his monotone, yet calm promises of freedom to the two Grimm horses.
After what seemed like forever, the gunmetal teen undid the last of the bonds on the Ivory-Nightmare. He backed away as the equine stood up and whinnied at her freedom. Her yearling trotted up to her and nickered happily. With both of them reunited, they turned the odd Human that helped them. Both the White-Nightmare and her offspring approached the teenaged human, the teen still void of any overt emotions in his soul. When they were at arms length away, they stopped and observed him further.
Slowly, the gunmetal teen removed his gloves again and offered out his hands. There was a beat between the two species. Then, the mother Nightmare closed the gap and leaned into his hands and nickered softly. As soon as she made contact, the man's Semblance activated and linked his mind and Aura to the White Grimm, making him draw a sharp intake of breath. His whole body felt alive! Like a stray lightning bolt struck him.
The young man's monotonous features morphed to a more expressional, everyday face the longer his mind was connected to another being as his dulled emotions came flooding back for him to feel again. He craved the literal emotional high his Semblance granted him ever since he was gifted and cursed with it the day it emerged to him. He knew the limits of his Semblance and dangers that came with it, but for that fleeting moment. He felt human again.
Getting over his high, his mind saw a series of images zoomed across his eyes in a near unintelligible mess. This was what he sees every time he connected with any living thing's mind. In this case, the Snow-colored Nightmare.
He saw where the Nightmare roamed across Remnant. The freedom she felt when racing others of her kind. The camaraderie she felt when helping and protecting other Grimm from harm. The joy she felt when creating her first newborn. The disgust of the ugliness Humanity had to offer to the world and the violence they inflict upon each other for the pettiest of reasons, and the feeling of satisfaction when removing the ugly blights from existence. And at the same time, the serenity she sensed when Humanity, both Human and Faunus, lived harmoniously among one another.
Unfortunately, that memory was perhaps several hundred lifetimes old. It had been a long time since she felt that sense of peace from Humanity.
More images blurred by until the gunmetal young man could see images not of the equine Grimm's personal memories. The teen openly smiled. This was what he was hoping to see.
After his eyes refocused, he saw Remnant's shattered moon in the sky. However it was blurry and confined to a circle in the sky, as if he were viewing it underwater from a pond. The rest of the sky was tinged in a malevolent red haze. His surroundings were a desolate wasteland with no life, as if everything withered and died. The only things breaking up the landscape were what he could assume were large stalagmites of purple and black Dust crystals imbedded into the cracked earth. Even then, the crystals gave off a sick purple miasma as it continued to glow like a beating heart.
He only had a short window of time here, so the young man tore his eyes away from the sights of the ailing land and traversed across the terrain.
The tan skinned man knew from his numerous times coming here when connected with a Creature of Grimm that this was basically where they came from. Wherever 'here' was. He discovered it when he first activated his Semblance. All of the Grimm have a type of connection to this dark place, and his mental connections to the Grimm materialize a sort of "Aura avatar" here. However, while his studies shown him that this was where the Grimm came from, it felt wrong.
It felt vile.
It was like someone or something had come to this bizarrely unique realm and perverted the land to suit their needs.
After traversing the blackened earth for what seemed like hours, with the nauseating glow of the mauve crystals the only thing offering him company, he finally discovered something other than craggy boulders and desolated earth.
Of course calling the structure a "building" was being generous on his part. It seemed to be carved straight into the cliff face of a high rising plateau. He would have missed it entirely were it not for the stairs that led inside the carved building, along with the small gaps dotting the face of the rock formation that he assumed were windows. Like it's surroundings, it too looked like it was rundown. The gunmetal teen compared it to the ancient ruins found around Mistral, but whereas the people of Mistral built with pristine white marble, this place was built from some kind of obsidian.
Setting aside the unease the ruin gave him, the young man entered the ominous structure. He didn't see any personalized furnishings or items, but it was well maintained, telling him that there was someone living here. The Human's face adorned a victorious smile.
Maybe he will finally get the answers he was looking for.
As he traveled deeper into the temple-esque ruin, something caught his attention. Voices. Two of them coming from a long hallway on his right. The gunmetal teen tiptoed warily down the black stone halls, taking great care not to make a noise, until he reached some sort of throne room. He pressed his back flush against the wall leading to the room and peeked his head around the corner.
From the pitch of the voices, the two speakers were female. One of the women had her back to him, talking to the woman that sat upon the throne in the center of the room.
The woman with her back to him was really quite the dish.
The woman's was a ravenette, the length of her hair just covering the nape of her neck. The smoky-black glass high-heeled shoes that she wore granted her a few more inches in height; her right ankle had a thin anklet, decorated with several pointed black crystals on a golden chain. She wore a rich red dress with gold accents adorning the fabric, along with arm-sleeves in the same fashion. The skirt of the dress stopped just at her mid-thigh, the length accentuating her creamy slender legs; and boy did she have legs! Before the acquisition of his Semblance, he would have been the type of guy to attempt to flirt with attractive women. However, he doubted he would get very far with her, especially with the two deadly and arm-length blades she carried. They were crossed on her back and sitting on top of her generous derriere. The dress was held up by two straps tied together in simple knot at the back of her neck, just above a diamond-shaped hole in the back showing off her smooth uncovered back.
In the diamond hole of her dress revealing her flawless skin, between her shoulder blades, a curious black tattoo marred her flesh depicting two high-heeled shoes in the shape of an odd pointed heart. For some reason, the black inked marking on her skin felt wrong to the teen. The aura coming off of the two individuals was oppressing and dreadful, making him choose not to reveal himself. Instead, he remained silent and listened closely to the exchange between the two women.
"The Huntsman severed the connection before it was complete…" The crimson swordswoman's sultry voice reported to a woman seated on the throne. From his angle, the red-dressed woman's form eclipsed the seated woman.
"Hmm… how very unfortunate. I cannot imagine how much discomfort you are feeling from that hungry Lich Parasite I gave you for the job." The seated woman commented in a soothing voice similar to that of a mother talking to her child.
The gunmetal teen could only make out an intricate black gown, maybe a robe, which had long billowy sleeves over what looked like a white skin-tight arm length glove that covered what was visible under her sleeve. And thanks to the minute shifts of the red woman, the young man saw that the robed female had white locks of hair style in an odd bun/spidery braids with pointed black crystals hanging on different braids from the black ribbons weaved through them. Of his many trips to this dark place, he had seen this woman, and even then it was because she was miles away from where his Aura avatar spawned and of her distinct silhouette from a distance. He always ported out before he could get a better glimpse of her. Now the only thing obstructing him was the red-dressed woman.
"Yes. It's…" The ravenette paused, trying to find a suitable comparison to her apparent condition before settling for telling her how she truly felt. "An emptiness. It burns. Like hunger."
"Will this be a problem for the trials ahead my dear?" The robed woman questioned. The hidden teen could almost believe her concerned tone. Almost. Being emotionally stunted by his Semblance made him appreciate what he lost. So he studied people's physical triggers that displayed their true feelings during conversation to better read them. He could obviously tell that the robed woman's worry for the red-woman was a façade. The red swordswoman didn't seem to notice as she shook her head to assure her superior of her state.
"I like it." The hidden teen could practically feel the zealous smile on the ravenette's face.
"Good. I would have hate for you to be put on the sidelines while the plan continued towards our goals." The woman on the throne shifted slightly to correct her posture. "You will have to factor in the recovery of the other half of Autumn into a revised version of our plan, my dear."
He curiously arched an eyebrow. What did she mean by "the other half of autumn"?
Her subordinate lowered her head in a brief bow. "Yes. I will claim what is ours."
The red-swordswoman's superior nodded her head to her underling. "As I know you will. You have been my most faithful follower for many years. I trust you can accomplish the task at hand."
He could almost feel the pride coming off of the attractive ravenette as she soaked in the praise. Her form then disappeared in a flash of wild flames, leaving the seated woman alone in the room. When her subordinate teleported away, the young man made out the rest of her hidden features.
The skin on her face was completely pale white. Bone-white! Her forehead had a black diamond shaped bindi that some cultures in Vaccuo adorned in a similar fashion. The sides of her face had black pulsating veins that ran from her forehead to her cheeks leading to the corners of her eyes. Before the young man could see her eyes, the haunting woman pinched the bridge of her nose between her eyes as let out an aggravated sigh. It appears that she had cast aside her motherly mask and was now irritated.
"Stupid incompetent girl! What should have been a simple transference has been sullied by her disgusting need for theatrics!" The woman slumped in her throne as she continued her rage. "Now my plans have to suffer further delays because of her shortcomings!"
Nursing her forehead in her palm, she cracked open her eyes wearily; revealing the features that terrified the young man the most. The white of the orbs were pitch-black, and at the center of them were malevolent glowing red irises. It resembled the red gleam of the Grimm, but where as the Grimm's eyes only shined with anger, this woman… this entity… only radiated pure evil. Quickly, the gunmetal teen ducked back into cover to make his retreat, missing the fact that the terrorizing woman's glowing eyes widened a fraction. She saw his form dart away. With her red eyes burning in fury, she swiftly faded into darkness.
Backing away from the throne room, the teen counted down the moments before his mental projection would fade from this realm and send him back to his body. He had gotten more info than he would have ever thought in this chance encounter, now it was time to leave.
Just as he thought he was in the clear, his back bumped into a distinctly feminine form. The teen's heart immediately stopped as he froze in place, not daring to turn around to confirm whom it was.
"How did you get to this realm, boy? Who are you?" The soothing, intelligible tone of her questions didn't cover up the murderous intent hidden beneath her words. The young man witnessed something he wasn't meant to, and if he saw enough movies, then this was the part where the Woman in Black would kill him to insure her secrecy. After all, "Dead men tell no tales".
Despite his very soul shaking in fear, the gunmetal teen had to stall for a few more seconds before his ability literally "spirit him away" from her clutches.
"I-uh- I was… playing that new Hunter-mon Go app on my Neo-Scroll X (Product of Foundry Futuristics)! You know how it is. First your walking around aimlessly to find that legendary White-Goliath on the ol' tracker system, the next thing you know, you've strayed into the crazy part of town riddled with crimson hazy skies and a desolate wasteland! Hehehe…he." A few beats passed between them and he could imagine the flabbergasted look on the evil woman's face.
The teen gulped, still not turning to meet his foe face to face, and tried walk forward to make a hasty escape. "Well, sorry for breaking into your home and all that ma'am. But it's getting pretty late and I got a big day ahead of me in the morning! So I'm just gonna—"
The Ivory-woman's left hand shot out and snagged his right shoulder, clenching and digging her sharp finger nails into the young man's flesh. "I sincerely hope you have enjoyed your role as a joker whilst on Remnant, child. For you shall not enjoy yourself when I drain you of your essence and throw your carcass into the deepest, darkest hole I can find."
The teen winced as the woman's grip started drawing blood. He literally needed 30 seconds before his Semblance returned his mind to his body. He just needed to keep her talking. What better way to do it than to be an annoying, Oum damn prick about it?
"Well this certainly is some kinky foreplay ma'am, we've just met. I'm flattered that you think me so desirable, but how about we wait a year? I'm only 17, wait until I'm at the age of consent before you decide to jump my bones. Don't want to get charged for doing indecent things with a minor now, right? Unless that's your sorta thing, then no judging." He perversely suggested, while internally begging for his mind to return to his body already.
The malevolent woman was caught off guard, her mouth gaping at the sheer disrespect this insignificant human showed her. Her face contorted into a snarl.
"DIE YOU SPECK!"
She spun him around and attempted to pierce his heart with her dagger-like fingers. Just as her middle digit broke the skin on his chest, his form blazed in a fiery-orange gleam and began to dissipate in an instant. The last thing he saw was the hatred and outrage pouring from the pale-woman's burning eyes.
His mind flashes back through the series of images from the White-Nightmare in reverse, along with the emotions that came along with them. In a blur, his mind was deposited back into his body. Even though it seemed like hours for him, only 5-seconds passed in reality. He was back in his emotionally deadened body, glad to not feel the overwhelming sense of his terror at his life being ended by the abnormal woman.
That didn't stop his sharp intake of breath and the fleeting fear that shot through his soul as he quickly tore his hands away from the White-Nightmare's body. The Nightmares nickered agitatedly from the fleeting negative emotions emanating from the teen, but as he calmed his fast beating heart, so too were his emotions put back to it's sullen state. He swiftly put his gloves back on before patting the horse-like Grimm on the neck.
"Thank you milady. You've helped me learn more than you'd know." He suppressed the faint twinge of disappointment of his robotic tone, already missing the fleeting taste of his humanity his Semblance granted.
After stroking the mother and offspring Grimm's manes in thanks, he holstered his hammer and placed his welders mask on his head; he wanted to lead Nightmares outside to the meadow while they were still agreeable.
"Stay safe out there you two." He droned as he patted their barrels one last time as a goodbye. "Maybe one day, when we get this whole 'Humanity vs. Grimm' thing sorted out, I'll see you guys again in the near future."
The Pristine-Nightmare mother eyed him as she snorted, the teen easily interpreting the meaning.
"Yeah, I know that's probably a long ways off Ms. White. A man can dream can't he?" The young man joked impassively. He crouched down to the yearling Nightmare and lightly ruffled it's mane playfully. "Take care of your mother while you're out there little one. Think you can handle that?"
They of course didn't speak, but they got the gist of his message as they snorted back to the metal-clad man. Then, the two Nightmares reared up and brayed into the stars that blanketed Mantle before galloping off into the forest. The scene caused him to put forth the effort to his soul and he managed to crack a small smile as opposed to his commonplace grins that his inhibited body produced. It were times like these that made him hopeful that all of Remnant—
*RIIING! RIIING! RIIING!*
That magical moment was gone as his Scroll blared to life. Pulling out his steel-gray, slightly large square piece of communications technology with a detachable earpiece that was the Neo-Scroll X out of his pocket, the teen groaned when he glanced at the Caller ID picture. His deadened emotions couldn't hide his slight trepidation as he psyched himself up.
Despite being branded as a "Scroll", the Neo-Scroll series Smart-Scrolls exclusively made and used by citizens of Foundry functioned differently than the standard Scrolls the Four Kingdoms, along with Remnant as a whole, used.
The gunmetal teen sighed as he plucked the earpiece off the Neo-Scroll, twisted the square machine once, and casually tossed it to the ground. Before it landed, the device halted its descent inches from the earth and had begun to spin rapidly in place as it slowly rose from the ground to eyelevel.
Stoically, he placed the earpiece into his ear as the tiny Smart-Scroll emitted a blue light before it created a 3D wireframe of a humanoid figure. An instant later, the wireframe filled in to form a life-sized, indistinguishable hologram of a 21-year old square-rimmed spectacled woman with the same tanned skin and dark colored hair as his reaching her shoulder blades, tied back in a low ponytail.
She was wearing a pink blouse, a black business skirt and low-heeled shoes, and an open metallic-hued copper colored lab coat with pink energy lines coursing through her sleeves –worn and functions similarly like his steel colored trench coat— which she always donned over her clothes. On her left arm was a very advanced looking wrist computer— a Holo-WristPuter 5+ if he wasn't mistaken—that glowed soft blue that displayed various holograms floating centimeters from the machine's body and lazily rotating the circumference of her arm.
This was Aeris Malleo, one of the many brilliant minds of Foundry,the most technologically advanced city in all of Remnant.
By the looks of her glaring face, she looked pissed off.
"ACERO PETROS MALLEO!"
The now named Acero winced at her furious tone. 'Crap. She played the "Full name card". Aeris must be REALLY pissed.'
Acero sighed slightly, "Hey sis…"
The hologram of his older sister lash her left hand out hard and cuffed him over the head; making him stumble and knocking off his welders mask.
Yup, Hard-Light hologram projectors... One of the many wonderful technological features offered by the Neo-Scroll X! Yay…
"Don't 'Hey sis' me Acero! Do you not realize where you have to be at end of the weekend!?"
"The Advanced Preparatory Academia of Vale, the 4th Great Bastion of the Guardianship of Humanity in all of Remnant and Beacon of the Light of the World..." The Malleo brother snarked in his monotonous droning, reciting the formal title of 'Beacon Academy'. Just because his emotions were deadened, doesn't mean he couldn't act like his old wily self.
Aeris cuffed him over the head again. His sister glared at him from her skewed glasses, having no patience for humor at the moment.
"Don't be a smartass, brother. I meant why are you NOT at home getting prepared for the Macro-Bullhead leaving for Vale in the morning. I had to get your robo-buddy Aria to start packing your clothes! Where in the Void are you right now?" Her hologramed form turned to take in her surroundings before her eyes landed on the bloody wolf head of a White Fang emblem emblazoned on the side of a downed Bullhead nearest to her. "Oh no… not again. The White Fang!? Really? What in Oum's name did you do to get this organization on your ass? Aren't your psycho fanboys enough for you to handle?"
The gunmetal brother took offense at his sister's insinuations… He didn't attract too much trouble…
"Those angry furries came onto me after trying to poach some Grimm in the area. I was just minding my own business in Improv before the Dust started flying. Don't worry I sent them packing." Acero ranted at his sister's projected image. "Don't even get me started on those damned 'Hammer' cultists."
Talking about the "Steel Hammer Witnesses" was a sensitive subject for the young man. Especially when he felt responsible for the actions of those overzealous, unknowledgeable loons that misinterpreted his social thesis he wrote up when he was 9. He changed the subject to a more lighthearted one.
"I was just getting some last minute Grimm research in Copper. Also, can you tell Aria to pack my toothbrush and go to standby mode after she's done packing (Aeris: I can't believe you're bringing your robot to your new school.). No need to protect my wellbeing like the 'highly advanced' Atlisian Commando series Knights." Acero drawled, calling his big sister by her nickname and managing to spill some humor into his usually dull tone. The Malleo sister snorted at the comparison he made of her.
"Tsk. Bitch please! Atlas brand tech has so many glitches, design flaws and inefficiencies riddled in them that I wouldn't be surprised if Ironwood's little toy box of a Kingdom toppled over from a gentle breeze."
The Malleo siblings shared a laugh at the expense of dissing the Kingdom of Atlas. Aeris laughing so hard that she was hunched over and shedding tears in her mirth. Acero, also wanting to crack up just as much as his sister, only managed to loose a few light chuckles passed his lips. Later, after propping up his sister's hologram body to help her regain her breath, Aeris drifted back to a more serious topic.
"Acero, its still not too late to register to Fulcrum Academy…" Her response was a semi-peeved groaning.
"Copper, we've been over this." His sullen voice could not show how exasperated he was in have this conversation.
"It'll be easy Acero!" Aeris continued trying to persuade her brother to change his mind. Acero rolled his eyes as he went back to the shipping container to retrieve his bulky weapon; Aeris' hologramed image following close behind. "Even though I just got the job, I'm on the Board of Directors for Foundry—"
"I could fast-track the paper work to Fulcrum—"
"You have the grades to attend, and I'm sure they'll squeeze you in since the Malleo Technologies Company does provide more than 73% of the tech and equipment for the school—"
"I mean Oum, YOU have built most of that equipment for Fulcru—"
"AERIS." Acero could only manage a stern, raised tone to constitute as a replacement for displaying his anger these days. Luckily, it was enough since Aeris paused her sweet-talking.
"Look Copper," Acero sighed as he knelt down to heft his backpack up. "I know I could get into Fulcrum. It is Foundry'sequivalent to the 4-Kingdoms' Hunter Academies. I could build all the machines of war to my heart's content, but that isn't what I want sis."
His sister's hologram knelt down with him and placed a concerned hand on his shoulder.
"Then what do you want Steel?" Aeris softly spoke, using her brother's nickname affectionately. "Why travel to another continent to go to school whose education system is clearly leagues below that of what Fulcrum exceeds? The people from Foundrynever needed to reach out to study at the 4-Kingdoms' Academies to be hunters when our Academy is just fine for our city and the future innovators of Remnant."
Acero politely removed her hand from his shoulder as he lifted his weapon and secured the clamp-holds with as snap.
"Well, I suppose Ironwood got something right whenever he says 'Fine is not good enough' during his next gen showcases." The gunmetal teen quipped before standing to meet his sister's eyes. "Despite Foundrybeing censored by Atlas from the rest of Remnant to save face from being ridiculed for nearly being defeated by a city-state where they exiled their non-conformists and radical scientific minds, our people always knew that we should have been the one of the Superpowers of the world; the most powerful even. But this is not about an Us vs. Them argument. It is about furthering my practical experiences with the rest of the Kingdoms AND Foundry."
Aeris tilted her head. "What do you mean?"
"Our city has grown too comfortable with our near isolationist mentality, Copper. I'm studying at Beacon because it is the only Academy that has a majority of its students coming from all corners of Remnant. If I applied to Fulcrum then I would be the same exact Gear-head that nearly all of Foundry is when comparing themselves to the 'unrefined' Kingdoms. This is so I can be exposed to multiple and differing mindsets so they could offer me perspective and a chance to handle things I may not have thought of before. If I can understand how people from other Kingdoms tick, then maybe Humanity can take a step to true Peace; not whatever the Void this pretend Peace that the Kingdoms like to sell to people."
Acero told his sister before how he personally felt about the Kingdoms of Remnant being powerful Kingdoms, but not one people; despite what propaganda for the moral of humanity told otherwise. His main vice was to understand everything and everyone so that he could better learn from and strive for a brighter future where ALL walks of life could live together in harmony; not treat it as a front for someone's need to an end.
His big sister's eyes narrowed slightly before she added her suspicion to his desire to travel. "And Vale also happens to be on the continent smack-dab in the middle of the map… A place perfect for many diverse Grimm species to thrive in…"
"Hmm… So it is." Behind his monotone words, he felt a twinge of sheepishness when his sister caught the side benefit of traveling to the Kingdom of Vale. "What I said still holds true though."
"Damn it Steel…" The Malleo sibling chimed with disappointment along with worry for her baby brother.
Aeris was always concerned when he when out on his 'Field Studies' on the Creatures of Grimm. When Acero was a young boy, his teachers told him that the Grimm species had little scientific evidence surrounding them because capturing and studying them was ill advised. So he took the next logical step thinking, "If they can't come to me, then I'll go to them". Ever since then, he had strayed out of the town with his research notes and camera to record his findings. At first it was just watching bird sized Nevermores through binoculars, or observing the occasional elephantine Goliath that nosed around the forest outside of Foundry's Hard-Light barrier field.
She and her father always thought it was a phase and that he would grow out of it when he joined Vulcan Academy (Foundry's pre-Huntsman school). However, Acero's hunt for knowledge on the Grimm didn't fade away as he aged, he just used his older scientific mind to make more elaborate plans for his Field Studies.
He created stealthy, fast flying drones to scour the skies to observe a flock of Gryphons that congregated at the Atlas Alps. Weapons that were capable of stunning Ursas for a short time before plants a tracker/camera devise on them to later study their habitats, social habits, and movements. Even clothing with a way to mask Faunus and Human's Aura levels to make them comparable to a common animal by converting Aura to heated energy that would vent through energy discharges into the earth. It made wearers less noticeable to Grimm as long as they didn't activate their Semblance or outright attack Grimm. Unfortunately, some didn't heed his disclaimers and ended up injured or worse.
He even discovered that Grimm parts that were removed from their bodies don't dissipate into black smoke as long as the Grimm form was still alive when one of his upperclassmen challenged him to get him the tusk of a Boarbatusk in exchange for his top of the line jeep, a Foundry Military Puma. And if he could get two, a right and a left tusk, then he would also wire 5,000 lien to his bank account.
Acero just ventured out, found 2 ill-tempered Boarbatusks near the Foundry Barrier Field, bludgeoned both of the swine Grimm to unconsciousness, tore off a tusk each, and returned in an hour. Her little brother scrapped the older student's jeep for spare parts, became 5,000 lien richer, and a permanently barred from taking any more bets from the student body.
It only got worse when he went out on one of his Field Studies and discovered his Semblance, Impersonation. His thirst for understanding granted him the power to link his mind with any living thing for a handful of seconds. Acero can then understand an individual's battle tactics, briefly emulate their fighting style, and the way a person thinks and behave to counter them. It is a passive ability, meaning it was always activated. This was the reason he always wore gloves on his hands and covered any exposed skin.
The Impersonation Semblance power of understanding her brother's enemies had the unfortunate side effect of nearly killing off his entire emotional spectrum. When he returned, Aeris scanned him with her Holo-WristPuter to make sure he wasn't some robot sent by someone as a prank (It happened more often than you'd think in Foundry). This was such the conundrum that even the top scientists couldn't discover a way to restore his subdued feelings.
However, that didn't matter to Acero. With the Malleo family name being comparable to Atlas' Schnee family, our family held a lot of influence despite not being part of the formal government. With his influence, he immediately called for a city council meeting to share his discoveries with Foundry's higher ups. Acero told them what he saw when he used his Semblance activated for the first time and used it on a Grimm. That the Grimm were not the plague to Humanity and that they desired harmony among Human and Faunus kind; he said that they were hardwired to "weed out" the ugliness of human behavior. He ranted for nearly 3-hours, trying to describe what only he could grasp yet not able to put into words others could understand while being restrained by the sullen drawl his new Semblance restricted his soul to. It also didn't help when he described seeing a "Wicked Witch perverting the Grimm species' home".
The Council discredited her brother and wrote it off as PTSD from encountering a near death experience with a powerful Grimm and a crackpot theory. They didn't say those words specifically, but Acero knew when he was being brushed off. The only reason he wasn't put into a straight jacket was because he was still a productive member of the city and it didn't inhibit his abilities in society.
Also, being a Malleo, one of the founders of Foundry, helped just a bit.
Despite being discredited and ridiculed for being crazy, Acero kept pursuing his hunt for knowledge and prove that Humanity and the Grimm could exist. Her father had an unusual way of looking at the world, but he found ignorance to be a distasteful trait in humans, so he supported his son's endeavors. While Aeris herself didn't agree with what was most likely a delusion from his Semblance activating in a stressful situation, she reluctantly agreed as well
But that didn't stop the fact that her baby brother was constantly risking his life whenever he ventured out on his "Safaris". The thought of him never coming back from one of his trips always terrified Aeris to the core.
The prolonged silence between them caused Acero to hug his sister, the only way to overtly show his feelings without words.
"Copper, I'm a big boy now. I can handle myself in a jam. I got my Weapon-Frame 'Improv' with me," the studious young man assured with a gesture to his weaponized backpack. "And I know how to keep my head out of trouble when dealing with Grimm. Plus Aria will cover my ass if get cocky. People however, are the real weird ones I'll have to overcome."
His monotonous joking made the elder Malleo sibling smile and giggling at the humor. Her little brother proceeded to hug his sister tighter.
"I truly do want to go to Vale to enrich myself Copper. We can't be a recluse forever." Acero continued, determined to leave their conversation on a high note. "And who knows. Maybe Foundry isn't as great a place as we thought. Another Kingdom could have some qualities better than us."
Aeris snorted at that. " The day that happens is the day Atlas stops begging for the scraps of our dated technology and claiming to Remnant that those 'advanced' AK-130 droids are anything but Foundry's old robotic receptionists before we've moved onto Hard-Light."
"I actually heard through the grape vine that the Council finally relented to Ironwood's requests and are sending the specs for our series 1 Talos Troopers."
"More like Ironwood's 'bitch fits'." Aeris commented as she adjusted her glasses on her face. "That's hardly an upgrade Steel. The series 1 Troopers were discontinued for their inefficient anti-malware systems when some dumb kid hacked into a security team's CPU from a Neo-Scroll 1 and made them reenact episodes from Crimson vs. Cobalt."
Aeris was glaring at her brother again.
"Yeah, I was bored that summer and was grounded from the Internet…" Acero finally admitted. "Besides, if it got hacked by me, then it deserves the junkyard. Because of me, I got Foundry those new sleeker models with actual Smart-A.I.s in them. They look so human that I don't think even the Troopers themselves can tell the difference."
"Yeah, yeah, congladulations Steel. Now the guys in my office can marry the Fem-Troopers they've been pining for. So proud of you. What I don't understand is why did you decide to do that on 9 separate occasions? I mean Oum, these series X Talos Troopers were launched a week after you made the 9's stride around while their Holo-Shifts took the shape of General Ironwood in his underwear during the Tech-Boom memorial festival. While Ironwood and his students from Atlas Academy were in attendance…"
Her brother only shrugged, "Like Dad always says, 'If it can't stand up to a Malleo's tinkering, then it might as well be made in Atlas.' Plus it got that sexy Schnee attached to Ironwood's hip to laugh so hard, fruit-punch shot out her nose."
"And yet you continue to wonder why the General wants to have you shot."
It figures her brother would nearly start a war and blatantly disrespect the leader of a Kingdom for brownie points from Winter Schnee. Even with his suppressed emotions, her brother was a bit of a horn-dog when it came to beautiful girls.
"So this has nothing to do with the fact that the series X Troopers were designed exclusively by you after the Council begged you to stop making their former weapon-smiths look incompetent." Aeris asked with a raised brow.
Acero tried to look innocent at that moment. "I plead the Fifth."
Aeris just rolled her eyes and shook her head at her zany brother. It was a blessing that he didn't loose his personality when his power kicked in.
"Maybe some time away from home will do you some good, Acero. Do your goodwill work, achieve world peace, and maybe finding a special lady to call you out on your shit. Don't wait too long though little brother. I want some nieces and nephews to spoil. Kayseeyabye!" Aeris disconnected her call, her hologram slowly fading. Her teasing caught the stoic boy off guard and actually made him flush in embarrassment.
"Hey. That's not cool Copper." The Malleo tried to sound insulted but falling short of slightly disgruntled.
Aeris' fading form stuck out her tongue. "See ya at home Steel!"
Her form fully dissipated and the shining light from the advanced Scroll deactivated and fell downward. Acero rolled his eyes at his sister's teasing's as he held out his hand. The Neo-Scroll X stopped its free-fall and shot back to his hand; the young man expertly catching it and placing it in his pocket before glancing out to the calm meadow outside the container.
Remnant's fractured moon casted it's silvery glow in the darkness as it serenely drifted across the night sky, letting the young man see everything perfectly because of it. Acero took a deep breath of the cool air and started to walk out of the shipping container to use his newly pilfered Bullhead to fly home. Before reaching the exit, his foot kicked against something lightweight and solidly made.
Looking down, what he saw was the chipped fragment of the White-Nightmare's horn. He bent over and scooped it up to appraise its condition. It was about the size of his index finger and was about 3 inches in diameter and had no other breaks for it to crumble into smaller fragments.
It was in good condition.
With a thought, his Weapon-Frame split down the middle and shifted the two halves so it was in front of him at his sides. The two halves shifted again, opening up a panel for each. Inside these panels was the real driving force behind his weapon.
Each piece was recovered over the years from his Field Studies. A small, chipped off tusk of a Boarbatusk. Some fragments from a Creeper's bone-armor. The spear-tip of a Giant Nevermore's Fell-Feather shots. A small part of a Deathstalker's golden stinger. A claw tip of an Ursa Major. Two fangs of a King Taijitu; one from both the black and white head. And his prized and favorite tusk shard from an ancient Goliath; the one whom jumpstarted his Semblance and started him on his path of Grimmology.
All of the glass containers holding the samples were glowing blue to signify their forms are ready for use; with the exception of the Ursa sample flashing red, indicating that the form is in need of repair.
Each of these samples were recovered from an Elder Grimm, since they are so old, difficult to kill, and generally keeps out of human affairs unless attacked or agitated. If he recovered pieces from the younger, more reckless Grimm, then the chances were it would die rather quickly when near the presence of humans and lose control to attack and get killed by a hunter; meaning he would have to go out and replace them.
His pack functions just fine as a mobile mech-suit when he's fighting human opponents. But if he needs an extra boost, then his pack will open up and press the sample of the Grimm species depending on which form he's in and onto his exposed part of the back of his neck. Because the pieces were still connected to the still living Grimm, it works to the benefit of Acero's Semblance. It will give him a better reaction time and comparable endurance to the actual Grimm species he recovered it from.
But there is a catch. If he were combating with a fragment too long, then Acero would lose control and attack everything without restraint like a Grimm.
'Like the incidents with samples 1 and 5' Acero's eyes drifted to the first and fifth fragments he recovered.
A fang from an Alpha Beowulf and a shattered fragment from a mighty Beringel.
Both of the cases were disconnected with its blue ready light not present. Nothing was wrong with the forms, that would be an insult to himself, but both samples had negative connotations attached to them that left him feeling crushing guilt that he never wanted to be reminded of again. So they are just collecting dust in their containers until their donors' luck runs out and some hunter kills them. Acero left them there as a reminder to know his limits.
Shaking himself out of his depression he scanned for an unused container to store his latest prize. Once found, Acero slid open the glass and popped it back into place; now containing the shard of the White-Nightmare with a softly blinking yellow standby light.
Forging a new form for the Nightmare should keep him busy for an afternoon.
As he was admiring the new piece, his eyes caught the distorted reflection of Remnant's moon shining on the sample's glass causing him to frown.
He nearly had forgotten about his latest venture to that Witch's hellish realm. It was the first time he got close to her and even then her mere form gripped him in fear. His persistence paid off, and now he had a new piece to his ever-growing puzzle.
Admittedly, it wasn't much to go off of, but at least he knew now that she has an accomplice working under her. And he didn't understand what use a Lich Parasite was for, they gave him bug bites when he was 7 but they were mere pests and easily squashed, but that Witch seemed to have been confident in the miniscule Grimm in her plan. It was clear to the Malleo boy that he stumbled across something that may be out of his depth and planned for at least years if the black-robed woman's irritated actions were anything to go by, but he had so little evidence. His latest venture had gathered him more evidence than the last 5 years since he got Impersonation combined.
"So, The Wicked Witch is the mind behind Grimm war machine? Did you create them? If so, then I tip my welders mask to you. They are a majestic species. Or were you like me and stumbled upon their usefulness by mistake?" Acero faintly smirked as he willed his backpack to its original form. "I hope you're ready for me Lady. Because I tend to break things that aren't up to Malleo standards."
The Forger of Foundry strode off to his stolen aircraft and flew off to Foundry to get ready for his new life at his new school. Not knowing that his time in Beacon will be… an interesting one.