Author's Note: Don't you just love that fresh, new story smell? I know I do.
I thought I'd try something new and different here. At least for me. As you can probably tell by my choice in featured characters I'm going to be giving a lot of focus to two girls who have a total of four lines of dialogue combined. I think the Malachite twins are criminally (no pun intended) underused in fan fiction. Their designs are really cool and their setting and potential associated characters offer an entirely different atmosphere and setting for RWBY stories.
Also, crack ships are awesome.
Anyway, hopefully you enjoy what's to come. I'm not sure about what kind of update schedule this story will have yet, but the next chapter will be out in a few days. I also don't plan to let this interfere with Letters to Winter's update schedule. The plan is for that to update next week as well.
Today would be the beginning of a new life.
Jaune Arc dug his hands into the pockets of his blue jeans as he walked the streets of Vale, his head on a swivel as he took in all the sights and sounds around him. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that he would be here. His village was small, homely, and lacking in the excitement department outside of seasonal festivals and holidays. When the occasional carnival or other sort of travelling entertainment came near it was a cause for celebration for all of the citizens. To go from that, a lifestyle which he had lived for seventeen years, to this, was a mind-blowing experience. He was seeing all kinds of new places, meeting fascinating new people. And it was all just starting.
He was a man who knew what he wanted out of life. Since he could remember being old enough to have hopes and dreams, Jaune could think of only one thing he wanted to be when he grew up. A huntsman. Just like his father. He wanted to be a hero like the man who had raised him. Like his grandfather, and his father before him. The Arc line stretched back beyond the Great War, but it was only during that devastating conflict that his family had begun to make a name for itself. The words of stories he had been told when he was young were still etched in his mind to this day. Names like Julius, Alastor and Azure were as familiar to him as the names of his seven sisters. Photographs and paintings of heroes from days past were as bright and vibrant as his own messy, blonde hair. Jaune longed to join them in fame and glory. He wanted to be the one to save the day. He wanted to be the man who one day young boys and girls would aspire to be like.
The very idea made a grin come to his face. It's happening. It's finally happening. After today I'll finally get the chance to do what I've always wanted to do.
It was why he was here in Vale today. To begin the process the only way he knew how. In spite of his best efforts there were some people who did not have the same confidence in him that he himself possessed. It was not out of malice. Anything but, in fact. Jaune had been training to be a huntsman for several years now, but had never been afforded the opportunity to attend a prestigious school like Signal Academy on the island of Patch. He had been homeschooled in the art of war by his own father, and apparently his father found his skills to be lacking. Either that or he simply did not want his son to walk the same path that he himself had chosen. As a result the man had attempted to put to rest the idea of Jaune setting out to follow in his footsteps.
However, despite the fact that Jaune knew this decision was made out of love and care he could not help but be disappointed. He could not help but feel angry about it. This was his life. It was his to live. The mistakes were his to make. And the consequences were his to deal with. He was seventeen. At this age he was more than old enough to make his own decisions about his future. His peers of the same age were going off to attend schools like Beacon Academy here in Vale, as well as other prestigious academies in the other three kingdoms. Why should he not be granted the same opportunity?
Soon enough Jaune snapped back into reality. The colorful and flashy lights in the neighborhood where his hotel was located had long since disappeared from the surrounding area. It was clear to even a small town guy like him that he had stepped into a rougher part of Vale. The whole area just seemed, for lack of a better word, barren. Large buildings, many likely apartments and condos, lined the street around him. Built with red brick and large arches carved out for similarly tall arched windows, the structures looked rather plain and dull. One in particular stood out, however.
Jaune squinted to get a better look at the sign on the front which had the street address on the building. Honestly, who painted a yellow sign with words in an even darker shade of yellow? It was beyond annoying to try and read. However after pulling out his scroll and double checking the address he was looking for there was no longer a question of whether or not this was the place. He hadn't even realized that his pace began to pick up at the sight of the club.
He slapped his right pocket to confirm once more than he did indeed have his wallet with him. Not that he would have ever left the hotel without it. After so many years of carrying it in the same spot every day he would have felt awkward and uncomfortable without it in its rightful resting place. He made the same action with his left hand on the scabbard of Crocea Mors which hung on the left side of his waist.
Crocea Mors, the ancestral blade of the Arc family, was in all honestly more of a relic than a weapon these days. Unlike most contemporary weapons it did not have a secondary function as a firearm. What it did have, however, was a sheath which could expand into a heater shield. Both items would serve him well in the coming years. They had to. This could not all be for nothing.
The day Jaune had left his home was done under the pretense that he had been accepted into one of the Kingdom of Vale's many art schools. Following the Great War, the arts became one of the most important aspects of life in Remnant's kingdoms. So much so in fact that it became regular habit to name children after colors.
However art was more than just color, drawing and painting. Art was music. Art was literature. Poetry. Crafting. The list went on and on. When it came to his guitar Jaune's skills were above average. He had even begun to take up singing to go along with it before he had left. As a result it had been easy to convince his family that he had been accepted into a school which would further develop his talents. It was why his guitar case was sitting in his hotel room right now. It would remain unused, however. The only instrument he would need for the next four years would be the blade which hung at his side at this very moment.
Jaune was glad to have it too. The sketchy neighborhood made him happy that his Aura had been unlocked years ago by his father when they had begun their training. Crocea Mors would be unleashed only as a last resort. It had been one of the earliest lessons taught to him by his father. Violence was never the answer, but there were times when it was the only response you could give.
As he was about to cross the last street to reach his destination, Jaune stopped in his tracks as a bright yellow motorcycle sped around the corner before driving past him. The loud roar of the engine hurt his ears, but the colorful vehicle was a welcome sight in a place where the lights were dim and the buildings dull.
As he neared the doors he expected there to be noise. This was a nightclub, after all. Years of television had taught him that the thumping bass of the music was a staple in a place like this. But there was nothing. Only silence. Jaune pushed through the doors to enter.
Ahead of him was a small hall with several cheap looking chairs lining either side. An unoccupied podium stood off to the side of colored glass doors which allowed entry to the club itself. Perhaps this was some sort of waiting area for particularly busy nights? Or merely a place to sort through any undesirables who would not be wanted inside?
Jaune stood in the eerie silence for a number of seconds hoping that someone would greet him and allow access to the interior. Those seconds seemed to last for an eternity as he waited to take the next step on the road to glory. But there was still nothing. Not a single sound or person was present. He longed to hear the angry growl of the yellow motorcycle now. It was better than this. Finally Jaune made the decision to take the initiative and went to enter into the club. A pair of glass doors slid open to reveal the horror which he had never expected to find.
He felt as if he had stepped into a parallel universe devoid of all shades and colors except for black, white and red. The black floor he walked stretched in a square all the way around the central dance floor, making the central white tiles stand out all the more. Everything seemed to reflect the bright lights hanging down overhead. Was the entire floor made of glass? Somehow despite the impracticality of this it would not surprise the young man. The pillars of glass which stood on all four corners of the dance floor seemed to reinforce his suspicion.
It was not the color scheme that horrified Jaune, however. Nor was it the material which the place was made of. It was the condition of everything. All around him was complete and total chaos. Broken furniture was strewn all across the floor, the legs of chairs and tables snapped off to leave jagged wooden stumps which could impale those without an Aura with ease. Somewhere, perhaps on the other side of the club, was where those wooden limbs now rested.
Something terrible had happened in this club, and it had not happened long ago. The stench of dust was still heavy in the air, and the many bullet holes which littered the walls told him that a massive shootout must have taken place recently. Jaune could feel his jaw begin to quiver in fear and felt his teeth chatter as a result. He quickly suppressed the feeling. That was not the behavior of a huntsman.
Jaune unconsciously took a step backwards, and was met with the loud crunching noise of glass underneath one of his heavy combat boots. As he looked down to the floor he saw shards of glass sprinkled everywhere. It had come from a number of places if he had to take a guess. Either the glass structures which decorated the club, the windows or perhaps even the bottles and glasses which could be found on almost every table in the place. The answer didn't matter, however. Only the cause did. And whatever the cause was, it was dangerous. Maybe his first instinct was correct. Maybe he should just leave.
He was about to take another step back he stopped in his tracks at a sound. It was faint, distant and soft. It was undeniably feminine as well. Jaune could feel his heart hammering in his chest. Someone else was in the club. And whoever it was, she was alive. Whatever kind of massacre had taken place here, someone was still alive. There was no longer any question in what he should do. There was no question of what he must do.
As Jaune strode deeper into the club he saw that there were bodies scattered all around, perhaps a dozen in total. All were men dressed in black suits, broken and bleeding as they lay haphazardly on the floor in every direction. A massacre indeed. Whether or not they actually were dead was unknown to him. His attention was focused on the voice which was becoming louder as he was obviously drawing nearer to it. She was saying the same word over and over. It sounded like a name.
"Miltia..." the voice said weakly.
Jaune's hand unconsciously drifted down to the hilt of Crocea Mors as he neared. He could feel his pulse thumping in his ears. Sights and sounds were becoming faded and muted. He wondered if this was what tunnel vision was. He wondered if the attacker who had wrought such destruction on the club was still present. He wondered if the girl was another victim.
After stepping into the middle of the dance floor most of Jaune's questions were answered in an instant. To his right, in a spot previously blocked from his sight by furniture and very architecture of the club, were two girls.
A pale beauty with raven hair kneeled on the floor, seemingly impervious to the glass littered on the ground all around her. The white of her dress was stained with spots of red here and there, most likely as a result from the many tears and holes which dotted the once pristine clothing.
In her lap lay the head of another girl of similar complexion and color, only she wore red. Jaune could only imagine the wounds which were hidden by the bright, bold color of her dress. The first girl gently cradled the other's head, softly stroking her hair while beckoning her to wake up from whatever trauma had been inflicted upon them.
He did not know how long he had been staring at them before the conscious girl looked up. In an instant their eyes met, her bright green ones looking into his own deep, ocean-blue orbs. Jaune saw those eyes dart down to his side where his hand still rested on Crocea Mors, and the girl squinted suspiciously before looking back up to his face. The unspoken question of whether or not he intended to do them harm was evident on her face.
Jaune may not have been the most socially adept guy in Vale, but even he knew what must have been going through her mind. He slowly removed his hand from Crocea Mors' hilt before raising them both up chest high to show that he was no threat. "It's okay," he said in a soft, yet firm tone. "I'm not here to hurt you."
Those green eyes did not waver as they continued to look at him. The girl remained kneeling there as still and silent as a statue. It reminded Jaune of the reaction an animal would have to a human when encountered in the wild. It would stand there and stare at you as you walked, never moving a muscle until you had passed by and ceased to be a threat. It never knew that you meant it no harm, just as he meant no harm to these girls. Who would ever wish to hurt her or the one in red? And why?
Seeing how he had not received any kind of reaction Jaune slowly moved his hands down to his belt. Cautiously and deliberately he began to remove his sheathed weapon from his side, laying the scabbard down flat on the ground before softly shoving it aside with a boot. He looked back up at the girl with a weak smile on his lips.
"See?" he said reassuringly. "No harm here." He frowned slightly when she once more did not respond. "What happened?"
The girl's tongue flicked out for a brief moment to wet her lips before she spoke. "What do you want?" she asked.
At least she was talking now. That was progress. "I..." he started before trailing off weakly for a moment. He didn't exactly know what he wanted. This was all still so surreal to him. It almost felt like a dream. "I want to help," he finished.
If this was going to be the first day of his new life then helping was exactly what he should be doing right now. It was the duty of a huntsman to help people in need. And by the looks of it these two, no, all of these people were in dire need of help.
The girl in white spared a glance down at her unconscious comrade before looking back up to him. "A trick," she said simply.
Jaune frowned. "What?"
Her gaze once again drifted off to look down to the sheathed sword which lay a few feet away from him. "You think I'm stupid?" she said bitterly. "You came in right after she left. Here to finish the job while we're weak."
Jaune had no idea who the girl was referring to or what job she spoke of. Clearly she had the wrong impression of both him and his intentions towards her and her friend. At least he assumed it was a friend by the way the held the other girl. They may have been more than just that, as even from a distance Jaune could see the similarities of their physical features.
"I..." he started, not quite sure knowing how to respond to the accusation. "I'll call the police then. An ambulance too."
"No!" she snapped. Those green eyes of hers seemed to harden at the mention of the authorities. "No police."
He wanted to ask why, but Jaune decided that prying into details like that would only make the situation worse. Considering the reason he was at this club in the first place he could imagine why the girl did not want the authorities to be involved. The owner of this place was probably involved in a number of illegal operations ranging from simple fake IDs to drug and dust smuggling.
In any case he could not simply give up. He could not walk away from this, especially now that the thought had been planted in his mind that there might be a person who would come to finish the job.
Jaune ran a gloved hand through unkempt blonde hair in frustration. "Okay. What can I do to help?"
The girl narrowed her eyes at his response. "You wanna help?" she asked. "Go away!" she said, lashing out with an arm to point in the direction which he had come. The wince of pain on her face was proof enough that she was injured, but the fact that she had moved to grab her right shoulder showed just how bad it was.
Jaune shook his head, more to tell himself that he could not walk away from this rather than to argue with the girl who had just told him to leave. He took a few more steps, the crunching of glass sounding with each step he took.
An angry scowl overtook the face of the girl in white, and if he had to guess Jaune would assume it was because she was upset with herself for showing weakness rather than him refusing to follow her order.
"Let me take a look at your arm," he said as he got closer. "I'm not gonna hurt you. And I'm not going to call the police. Okay?"
The fact that she did not protest again as she had before told Jaune just how bad of shape she and the other girl were in. She was tough. She had to be to withstand whatever beating she had took and still be breathing. But it would seem that even she knew when she needed help. And while she may not ask openly for such help, she was not above taking it if offered to her.
Jaune went down to a knee a few feet away from them. He was careful to maintain a respectable distance from what in reality were a pair of strangers in a very vulnerable state. The last thing he wanted to do was be overly-aggressive. "My name's Jaune," he said. He figured now would be a perfect time for a joke in order to break the ice. "Short, sweet. Rolls off the tongue." At the last moment he thought better of reciting the last part of his usual greeting.
"So?" she said, clearly not impressed. "You want a medal or something?"
Jaune grimaced at the response. So much for breaking the ice.
Upon closer inspection of the pale-skinned girl he saw that there was indeed a correlation between the patches of blood scattered on her white and teal clothes, and the places here they had been shredded. Likely as a result of the glass which almost covered the floor like a sharp, brittle carpet. And while he could still not say with any certainty that the same applied to the girl in red, he saw that she too had tears and holes in her own dress.
What he did notice about the crimson girl was that she was armed. She wore wrist-mounted claws on both arms, each with a pair of cruel-looking, curved talons. It became painfully obvious to him that these two were not mere victims of an assault. They were fighters. Fighters who had just been beaten. He knew all too well the humiliation that came with that. Whatever physical harm they had suffered tonight was nothing compared to the blow to their pride.
"Well, no," he said, a little bit embarrassed now that his line had failed so miserably. "But it'd help if I had a name I could call you."
He saw the girl's teeth bite down on her lower lip before she finally spoke. "Melanie," she said simply.
A weak smile played on his lips. He was finally getting somewhere. "Melanie," he repeated. "Okay. It's nice to meet you, Melanie."
Melanie looked around for a couple of seconds. Jaune saw how she looked forlornly at the destruction which surrounded them. "Yeah. Real nice."
Jaune closed his eyes with a sigh. It seemed that he could just not win. He could understand why though. If he were in her position then he would most likely not be in the best of moods. Nor would he want to make small talk with a stranger. Even if they did have the best intentions.
"What happened here?" he asked again. He hoped now that they were on a first name basis with one another she would feel a little more trusting.
"Some bitch came in and trashed the place," she said. Her face lowered to look once more at the girl who rested in her lap. "I don't know why," she said, her tone softening a bit.
The girl which Melanie was referring to must have been the same which she had accused him of working with earlier. Or at least the one whose job she had accused him of wanting to finish.
Jaune nodded in understanding. "Like a robbery or something?"
"I don't fucking know," she snarled. "And I don't care either. All I care about right now is making sure my sister is okay."
He winced at the anger, which while directed at him, was only done so as a convenience. Melanie may have been annoyed by his presence and questions, but she was not angry at him. She was angry at the situation. At the girl who had inflicted such harm on her and her sister for seemingly no reason. And most importantly she was worried about her sister's well-being.
Jaune could relate. If someone had come into his home and beaten up his sisters he would have snapped too. It wouldn't have mattered how much training and skill he possessed or lacked as a huntsman. He would have hunted the perpetrators down and shoved Crocea Mors down their throats.
He nodded slightly before continuing. "Do you two have Aura?"
Green eyes looked back up at him with suspicion. "Why?"
He extended an arm, motioning to an area of her dress which was stained by blood. "You're bleeding. I wanted to know if it would take care of itself or if I should help you treat it."
"Whatever," she scoffed. "Yes, we both have Aura."
Jaune smiled at the news. "That's good." He looked around and saw the hundreds of unscathed bottles of alcohol sitting on the shelves behind the bar. "Now I won't have to break out the vodka to sterilize those wounds."
She gazed at him incredulously. "Are you like, stupid or something?"
He waved his hands defensively in front of himself. "No, no, really! Hard liquor makes a surprisingly decent stand-in for an antiseptic when you don't have the real stuff. I learned that in my training a long time ago. It'll clean the wound, and since you have Aura it won't really matter if it damages the skin. Only problem is it'll hurt like a..."
Jaune trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence.
"Bitch," she said suddenly.
"It'll hurt like a bitch," she answered. "Don't bother trying to be the knight in shining armor around me. Because I'm not a lady. And I'm damn sure not your damsel in distress."
Jaune nodded wordlessly. He would do his best to remember that.
"Kay, so you asked all your little questions," Melanie said sharply. "What do you want now?"
Was there really anything more he could do? The authorities were out of the question. As a result professional medical care was as well. The girl's Auras would heal all of their surface injuries. He just had to be certain about Melanie's arm.
"How's your shoulder?" he asked. "Is it dislocated?"
"I..." she said with clear uncertainty in her voice. "I don't know."
The strapless dress she wore told him what he needed to know. With no clothing to conceal the flesh the extent of the injury was apparent. Or lack thereof. There was no telltale lump to show where the ball had become dislocated from the socket. It was a safe bet that it was merely a sprain suffered from whatever battle she had fought in only minutes before.
"I think it'll be fine," he said reassuringly. Her suspicious eyes seemed not to care about such comforting words, however. Melanie remained on-edge at his very presence, and especially his proximity to her.
"Uh huh. Great to know that you think it'll be fine."
Jaune smiled nervously. "Well, like I said. My training did teach me some first aid." He used a pair of fingers to scratch his temple. "Emphasis on the teach part. Not a whole lot of practice..." He paused briefly. "Like any..."
The uncertainty that had been in her voice transferred to her face in an instant. Jaune noticed this and did his best to try and reassure her.
"But I'm sure I could have relocated it," he offered, adding a toothy grin to try and sooth her concerns.
"Wow I feel so lucky," she said sardonically. "Why do you keep talking about training? Am I supposed to be impressed?"
"My dad's a huntsman," he said with a hint of pride in his voice. "So he tried to teach me a bunch of stuff about fighting and healing up after a fight. Growing up in the sticks helped a lot too. Not like there was a doctor we could get to in ten minutes if we needed to."
"Huntsman," she said softly. Jaune heard the disdain with which she spoke the word.
He frowned but made no comment.
Melanie looked down to the still form of the girl who Jaune now knew was her sister. It was painfully obvious now that he had the information along with being so close to them. They shared the same pale complexion, the same raven-black hair, and if he had to take a guess, the same emerald-color eyes. The only real differences between the two in terms of color came from their clothes and accessories. Where one wore white the other wore red. Where one wore cyan eye shadow the other, again, wore red.
See, you'll make a great huntsman, he told himself. You're always paying attention to the details.
The girl in red began to stir. Expressions which had ranged from fearful to annoyed to angry all vanished in an instant and were replaced with just one now. Hope.
"Miltia?" Melanie said softly.
There was that word again. The very first word he had heard uttered in this building after he had stepped foot inside. Now he knew what it meant, or rather who it meant. Miltia was Melanie's sister.
Eyelids slowly fluttered open to welcome a second pair of green eyes into the room. Jaune wanted to grin with delight at guessing correctly but held his emotions back. He did show a smaller more empathetic smile however in support of the other girl who was just now waking up from the battle she had obviously lost.
"Melanie?" she said in almost a whisper. The soft and delicate tone of her voice didn't have the same edge as her white-clad sister. Jaune didn't know if this was normal or if it was because she had just woken up.
For the first time since meeting the girl Melanie had a smile on her own face. "Yeah, it's okay," she said soothingly. One of Melanie's tiny hands stroked her sister's shoulder reassuringly. "She's gone."
Miltia made a move to sit up. She placed a hand on the floor to help prop herself up. "What hap- ah!"
In a flash Miltia's hand shot up from the floor to reveal a long crimson line trailing down her palm where her black glove did not cover her flesh. A single drop of blood fell from her hand, followed by another a couple of seconds later.
Her Aura, in fact both of their Auras must have been in terrible shape. Miltia had sliced herself open on one of the thousands of pieces of broken glass on the floor.
Miltia pressed the bleeding hand against her dress, uncaring of the stain it would leave. Then again it would have only blended in with her blood-red colored dress, but he doubted that she had even considered that with the instinctual reaction.
Still though, it wouldn't do to just let her bleed on her dress until the wound scabbed. Jaune stood and began walking toward the bar. "Let me go get some towels."
The walk to the bar felt like miles as he felt the eyes of the sisters follow him every step of the way. Each footstep sounded like a thunderclap and every piece of glass which crunched underneath his boots was like nails on a chalkboard. Eventually however he did make it to his destination. It felt awkward to be behind the bar. Not that he was comfortable in front of one either. But he simply never imagined being in the position. He certainly had never thought about being a bartender before. No, there was only one goal Jaune had in his life. He wondered no if he would even get the opportunity to begin that journey.
After a small search he found something better than he had originally been looking for. A small first-aid kit sat on a shelf underneath the counter, most likely to deal with injuries resulting from broken glass. Taking the precious loot along with him he quickly walked back to where the two sisters sat.
As he neared he heard the newcomer of the pair speak again. "Melanie, who is this guy?"
"I don't know, Miltia," the longer-haired girl said. "I think he said his name was like, 'John' or something."
"Jaune, actually," he corrected her.
Jaune knelt down before the two girls again, this time a little bit closer in order to actually be able to make the necessary physical contact with them. He opened the white box and opened up a small package containing a gauze pad. "Miltia, was it?" he asked the injured girl.
Miltia nodded wordlessly to the question.
Jaune gave a soft smile to try and gain her trust. "Let me see your hand."
The red-clad girl looked over to her sister for guidance. Melanie hesitated for a moment before nodding slightly. Then, as if the only thing she needed was Melanie's reassurance, Miltia presented her hand to Jaune without a second thought.
Jaune gently took the hand in one of his before he loosened the straps which held the claw in place before sliding it off of her fingers. He then began to softly dab the area around the cut with the gauze. At first there were tiny winces with every touch when Jaune made contact with the wounded area. Miltia's lower lip was pulled in slightly, teeth lightly digging into the skin as she sought not to let any sound escape her lips. He saw how her eyes were locked onto her hand and his treatment of it rather than on himself. Jaune fought back a familiar smile at the sight. Every mannerism reminded him of his little sisters.
Soon enough the area was clean and he could see that the glass had sliced the upper part of her palm, perhaps around one inch in length. He repeated the process over and over again using different, unblemished parts of the pad until the affected area was cleared of blood.
"Okay," he said softly, reaching back into the box to fetch another sealed item. "This part's going to hurt a little bit. Ready?"
The girl nodded weakly without a word.
And true to his word, it did sting. Miltia's hand flinched the moment the disinfecting wipe made contact with her skin, but Jaune held it in place long enough for him to clean the entire area. By the time he was finished the wet pad was colored an orangey-brown from the blood and dirt it had just cleared from the wound.
Most people would be surprised if he were to tell them that this was an all too familiar experience for him. Naturally he would not be referring to the part about treating the wounds of random girls he had just met at a destroyed nightclub. However, he was well-versed at treating the skinned knees and small abrasions that his siblings would suffer on a regular basis while playing outside. Usually such treatments also involved the magical healing properties of kissing them to make them better post clean-up, but Jaune knew that such an action would only result in him being the one in need of medical attention on this night. In any case, he felt as if he was playing the role of the big brother once more.
When he deemed the work finished he placed a bandage over her palm. Realizing that the awkward location of the wound would make a simple bandage impossible to stay on by itself, he took a piece of sterilized cloth from the kit and wrapped it around so that both ends met on the top part of her hand. It was amazing that a girl with such small, delicate wrists wielded such a heavy and deadly looking weapon on each hand.
"There," he said as he finished wrapping the ends of the cloth in a small bow. It was a practiced technique that his younger sisters insisted he do any time they required anything more than a simple bandage. "All better."
Miltia looked up at him, a seemingly genuine look of surprise in her emerald orbs. But before she could say anything another voice thundered through the air.
Today was not a good day. Not one bit.
Hei Xiong, known better as "Junior" to most, winced as he picked himself off of the hard, cold concrete. He could scarcely remember how he had even wound up out here. Nor did he know how long he had been there.
He pressed a hand against his throbbing head and grit his teeth as if he were trying to get through a bad hangover. It might as well have been one with the way he was feeling. Not just his head, but his entire body was sore. His mouth was dry and he barely had the energy to move. However he knew that he had to.
Memories quickly flooded back into his head as he replayed the events of the evening. Flashes of orange and gold dominated his mind's eye as he recalled just what, or rather who had caused him to wind up in the position he woke up in. That girl. That tall, beautiful blonde girl. As much as he was loath to admit it, she was all of those things. She was responsible for everything. For his current condition. For the destruction of his club. For hurting the twins.
His stance was wobbly at first but finally he worked up the strength to begin his journey back into his club. As he walked he felt his foot kick against something hard and metal. Looking down past the filthy, ruined clothes he wore he saw a sight which made his stomach twist and his heart ache. His weapon. What had once been a complex club which doubled as a bazooka when ranged attacks were necessary, now it was nothing more than a jagged metal stump attached to the handle.
Junior reached down to pick up what remained of his once proud weapon. A weapon which had served him well for the better part of two decades. It had been by his side even before he had attended Haven Academy all of those years ago. And it had been a crucial part of his life even after he had strayed from his once honorable path. Now, thanks to that girl, it was little more than scrap metal.
A guttural grunt of both anger and sorrow rumbled in his throat as he neared the closest entrance to his club. As he slowly walked the halls which led to the dance floor of the club he took solace in the fact that at least these areas were unaffected by the blonde girl's wrath. If only one or two floors of the building had been damaged by that psychopath he would consider himself lucky. With the way her hair was ablaze right before she had knocked him through the window he was surprised that the entire building had not been engulfed in flames. He wouldn't have put it past the little bitch to do so just for the fun of it either.
After making his way back to the scene of the crime he looked around to see the full extent of the damage. He doubted that anything on the dance floor would be salvageable. Decorative glass structures lay in ruin and the floor itself was covered in cracks and huge holes which had been blasted by dust weaponry. Even many of the adjacent tables and seats had been destroyed by the mayhem. Only a few sets of furniture on the entire floor had been spared any damage.
It would take a lot of money to repair this place. It would almost certainly clean out all of his lien reserves. However, money was not his primary concern. He pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind as his search for the two people he cared for most in the world had thus far turned up empty.
"Melanie!" he called out as he walked deeper into the room toward the dance floor. "Miltiades! Are you al-"
He cut himself off as he caught sight of the two girls he had been searching for. Two girls, and one strange boy. Junior's eye's narrowed as his vision fell squarely on the back of the blonde young man. The fact that he was blonde did him no favors when flashbacks of the blonde girl came rushing back to his mind.
At the sound of his voice all three people turned to look to the source. He saw how close the boy was to the twins, close enough to be in physical contact with both. By the positions of their bodies it looks as though they very well may have been just seconds earlier.
Junior glared at him, not in any mood to deal with any more trouble this evening. "Who the fuck are you?" he roared.
The boy quickly stood up and turned to face him. By the looks of it he was unarmed, but looks could be deceiving. Junior had seen all sorts of unconventional weaponry in his time at Haven as well as the years he had spent out on the streets afterward. For all he knew this kid was hiding weapons in his shoes, his belt or that black and orange hoodie of his. One could never be too careful. Junior clenched the handle of his ruined weapon tightly just in case.
Before he could answer, however, Junior heard a welcome and familiar voice instead. "Hei," Melanie said with a smile. It was an expression filled with relief.
Very few people in the world knew Junior's real name. Melanie and Miltiades Malachite were two of those select few. In his line of work it was dangerous to let things get too personal. If one knew who you were they could use that against you. They could target your friends and family in order to gain leverage over you in business arrangements. As a result it was far safer to use an alias or false identity. In the case of Hei Xiong, the simple name of Junior sufficed for his new identity.
At the sight of his return Melanie stood up before offering a hand down to her twin sister. The other reached up to take it with her left hand, and Junior noted that this was because her dominant right hand was currently wrapped up in a white cloth that was stained with a blotch of red. Soon enough the two sisters were back on their feet, both hovering behind the boy. Junior knew that they would be ready to pounce on him at a moment's notice should he give the order, even in their less than battle-ready conditions.
Junior nodded to Melanie in acknowledgment of her greeting before returning his gaze to the boy. "I asked you a question, kid," he said sharply.
The boy's body language betrayed his nervousness as he ran a hand through his hair. "My name's Jaune," he said. "I'm here to see someone named Junior."
Jaune's hands found themselves drifting to his jean pockets, another sure sign that he was nervous. But Junior was not about to take any chances.
"Hands where I can see them," he ordered.
Jaune was quick to raise them back up in front of his chest. Only now did Junior realize that there was a ridiculous picture of a cartoon rabbit on the front of his hoodie. The idea that the kid could possibly be a threat was rapidly diminishing, but still, he would not take a chance until he was certain.
"I'm Junior," he said with a jab of his thumb into his chest. "What do you want?"
Jaune's expression seemed to brighten at the news that he was speaking to the man he had named. "That's great!" he said as he took a few hurried steps over before stopping in his tracks. It was clear that he was intimidated by the older man, even in his sorry state. "I talked to you a few days ago. Well not so much talked, but we exchanged messages with each other. I had asked about forging transcripts to get into Beacon and you told me to meet you here tonight."
Junior frowned as he searched his memories for what the boy was talking about. After a few seconds everything clicked and he recalled the conversation. Yes, he had told the faceless young man to meet him here tonight in order to discuss the terms of the business transaction. However that was before a certain girl had decided to show up and trash his property.
The tension in his muscles lessoned now that he knew the boy's intent. But it did nothing to put him in a better mood. "Look, kid," he said. "This isn't the time or place to be talking about that shit."
He could tell that Jaune's world had just been shattered by the expression he now wore on his face. Jaune took another step forward. "But I have the lien," he said as he touched one of his pockets.
"Look around you," Junior snapped as he too took an aggressive step forward. "You think I care about a few hundred lien after my business, my life, has just been destroyed?" His arms stretched out to gesture to the thousands of lien worth of damage done to his club. He saw how Jaune's head turned to take in the sight as well.
"But you said-"
He stopped Jaune mid-sentence. "Right now I don't give a damn about what I said, and I don't give a damn about you or your transcripts." He could feel all of the anger and frustration he was experiencing begin to boil over. "If you leave right now and come back in a few weeks, maybe, just maybe I'll consider taking you up on your offer."
The wide, blue eyes of the boy only looked more desperate after Junior had spoken. "But the deadline to send in transcripts is in a few days," he argued.
"And that's not my problem," Junior said with a tone of finality. The distraught expression of the boy told him that he too knew that the discussion was all but over. However there was no harm in making it official. "Now get out," he said pointing toward the doors from which he had entered.
Junior saw how Jaune closed his eyes and let out a long, almost pained breath before his feet began moving. Experienced eyes followed him every step of the way as he watched Jaune go over to collect a sheathed sword which lay on the floor several feet away from where he and the twins had been.
Without looking back Jaune exited from the club. Junior continued to stare at the doors for a few seconds afterward to make sure he would not return.
Only when he was sure that the boy was gone did Junior let his guard down. He turned his attention to the twins. "Are you two alright?"
"Yeah," Melanie said softly. Miltia nodded silently in agreement.
Junior walked over to them to take a look for himself. Each of the girls was covered in bruises and dozens of small cuts from glass. Miltia in particular had suffered the worst of the damage when she had been sent flying through one of the glass decorations courtesy of a particularly nasty punch from the blonde girl.
The two girls were his family despite the fact that he shared no blood with them. However, in a way, they in fact did. All three of them had bled for one another on more than one occasion. In Junior's experiences, both here and back at Haven, it was your brothers and sisters in arms who were your real family. The people who would bleed for you and those you would bleed for were the people you could count on most in the world.
He saw that some of the men who had fought against the girl had recovered by now as well. They stood and walked over towards him in ones and twos, and soon most of them were milling around seemingly waiting for orders. But at this time there was nothing productive that could be done. Everyone needed time to recover from this. Himself included.
Junior looked around to see the black-clad henchmen staring at him through their crimson sunglasses. "All of you get out of here," he said, the tone of his voice kinder than his choice of words. "Go home and get some rest. We have a busy day tomorrow."
Not needing to be told twice, the gathered men slowly began to dissipate with mumbled acknowledgments.
Junior himself made his way over to the bar, followed closely by the twins. After slipping behind the counter he rummaged around to find three clean and unbroken glasses. He placed them on the counter where the two girls sat opposite of him. Both were clearly still nursing their injuries. A little drinking would go a long way in numbing the pain. Or maybe a lot of drinking. The night was still young, after all.
A fine Mistrali spirit was just what they would all need in order to cure what ailed them. Junior filled each glass with the clear liquid and one by one the trio knocked back the expensive variety which he had chosen for them. Right now this was exactly what they all needed. Pain relief. A way to let loose and forget about everything which had happened tonight. The problems would be dealt with tomorrow.
No one said a word as he refilled the glasses. Melanie was quick to down the shot once more, while Miltia slowly spun the glass back and forth with the fingers of her uninjured hand. After Junior too finished his drink he decided to finally break the silence.
"How's the hand?" he asked Miltia.
She answered with a tiny shrug of her shoulders, her eyes still locked onto the full glass in front of her. "I dunno."
Junior frowned at the response. He had come to expect such non-committal answers from the twins, and especially from Miltia. However it didn't change the fact that such an answer at this moment did not help to alleviate his concern for the two girls.
"How bad is it?" he asked Melanie. "Since I assume you're the one who wrapped it."
The girl in question shook her head in response. "No, it was that guy," she answered.
"Yeah," Miltia confirmed before turning to her sister. "So was he like, a doctor or something?"
"No, he just helped you with your injury," Melanie clarified.
"Duh, that's what doctors do, Melanie, " Miltia countered.
A frown crossed Melanie's lips. "I know that, Miltia," she said sharply. "But he kept going on about how his dad was a huntsman or something."
"I don't remember him saying that."
"That's because you were unconscious."
Junior rolled his eyes as he poured himself another shot. Only minutes ago he saw the two twins on the ground together, Melanie with her arms protectively around Miltia as apparently the boy worked to treat their injuries. It was a side of them that few people saw, much less knew existed. The twins cared deeply for one another and would go to any length in order to protect each other. However that did not mean that they did not suffer from sibling arguments over the most petty things. The fact that they were twins seemed to make it worse, as Junior could not ever recall seeing siblings argue as frequently or as pointlessly as the Malachite sisters often did.
Melanie sighed and held her glass up, giving it a small shake in order to gain his attention. Junior wordlessly filled it once more, and it took only moments for the girl to empty it again.
Looking at the bottle he saw that it was already half empty. Both he and Melanie would both soon be on their fourth shots while Miltia still nursed only her second. He was not surprised by this in the least. Melanie had always been the more outgoing and aggressive of the two. Miltia's more subdued personality contrasted her sister well, but even she was capable of bouts of vicious violence when the two fought together as a team.
Miltia finally emptied her glass. After setting it down she continued to stare down into it. "So like, why does he need fake transcripts if his dad's a huntsman or whatever?"
"Who knows, who cares," Junior said as he poured the girl another shot.
Silence fell over the bar once again as the trio continued to drink. The normally chatty girls clearly weren't in the mood for conversation. Not after what had happened on this night. With any luck the memories would soon be drowned out in an alcoholic haze and they would be able to get a full and painless night of sleep. Then the real work would begin. The arduous task of putting the club back together and replacing any of the men who may decide that they no longer wish to be a part of the operation.
Finding competent men was always hard. Junior considered himself lucky to have the twins. He looked out for them and they did the same for him. They were also the two best fighters he had available. The grunts he employed to do his dirty work had little going for them other than having numbers on their side. They were expendable. And thus they knew nothing of significance when it came to any plans or goals that Junior had. Finding replacements for meat shields would be the easiest part of getting things back to normal.
After several more shots Melanie had her head propped up on the bar with one hand. She toyed with her hair with the other, hooking it behind an ear before her hand drifted up to thumb the decorative flower which adorned the girl's raven tresses.
"So I've been thinking," she said without looking away from the bottles behind the bar that her eyes had been focused on. "You should totally do that transcript thing."
Melanie may have been able to hold her liquor with the best of Junior's customers, but her small and petite body was beginning to betray her. He could already hear the beginnings of slurred speech coming from her lips. On the other hand, his large frame was holding up just fine.
Nonetheless he would entertain the idea. It was better than silence. "Why's that?"
"Well, th-think about it," she said before gesturing all around her with an arm. "This place is fucked."
Junior sighed. She was not wrong. "Yes, Melanie," he agreed. "This place is fucked."
"So, we need money," she told him. It was the understatement of the year but she had spoken the words like they were a scientific breakthrough. "He'll give us money."
Junior shared a knowing look with Miltia. The girl had not touched her latest drink for the last five minutes. Melanie had downed at least twice as much as her. Maybe it was around time to wrap things up.
"Not enough," Junior explained. "It'll take a lot more than an extra three hundred to fix this mess."
"Okay, okay," Melanie said defensively as if she were being interrogated. "Just he- just hear me out. What if, like, we have a mole or something?"
The way Miltia suddenly squinted at Melanie made him think she actually believed her sister was speaking of the animal rather than a spy. But Junior knew better. He also knew a decent idea when he heard one.
"Go on," he urged the older of the sisters.
"If you do this for him he'd like, totally be in your pocket," Melanie explained.
Miltia looked back to her untouched drink with a frown. "I think you've been drinking too much, Melanie. Hei's pockets aren't that big."
Melanie turned to look at her sister, a hint of annoyance playing on her lips. "I wasn't being literal, Miltia."
"I know that, I was making a joke."
The white-clad girl scoffed. "Your face is a joke."
Miltia's brow furrowed in disbelief. "We have the same face, idiot."
Melanie grabbed her sister's glass and poured its contents down her throat. "Whatever."
"Whatever," Miltia echoed, not caring about the theft of the drink she obviously had no interest in.
Inane argument aside, Melanie had actually brought up a good point. This Jaune kid who had made contact with him a number of days ago wanted to be a huntsman. He wanted to attend Beacon Academy. His father was a huntsman, but for whatever reason he did not have legitimate means to get into the combat school. However Junior refused to believe that someone who most likely grew up with training had no skills whatsoever. Perhaps there was an opportunity here.
Having someone on the inside of Beacon could prove to be very useful for business. Junior had no interest in the school itself. Nor did he care about their duty to protect Vale and its people. However, if Beacon was anything like Haven, there would be plenty of opportunities for the young huntsmen and huntresses to go out into the world and try to better it in more ways than just slaying the creatures of Grimm. The warriors of the hunter academies regularly had run-ins with local criminals. From simple muggers to the soldiers of the White Fang, there were plenty of threats that existed in the kingdoms that were not mindless monsters.
If Junior had insight as to who and what the targets could be, he could be one step ahead of the authorities at all times. Moreover, he could use such information to get an advantage on the competition. Roman Torchwick had hired a number of his men earlier for some unknown purpose, and in the coming days the flamboyant criminal would strike at whatever his next target might be. Knowing what the authorities knew about men like him would be priceless knowledge.
That kid might be just what he needed in order to get that knowledge.
Junior poured Melanie yet another shot before he pat her on the shoulder. "You know, I think you're onto something there, Mel," he said with as much enthusiasm as his gruff voice was capable of.
The inebriated girl flashed him a toothy grin before disposing of her reward down her gullet. "Yay me," she cheered weakly.
He shook his head slightly before looking over to the younger twin. "Miltia, would you help your sister to her room? She's done for the night."
The girl in red nodded before she stood up and placed an arm around her sister's back. "Come on, Melanie," she said before locking her wrist underneath the other girl's arm. They slowly walked away from the bar, and Junior heard the last words of the sober girl before they left. "Don't even think about doing that right here. If you want me to hold your hair back for you then you need to wait until we get to a toilet."
The club owner sat alone now as he contemplated just what the future might bring. Tomorrow he would get in touch with the kid. Tonight, however, was for him.
He looked over to the now empty bottle of alcohol he and the twins had consumed. Just like his club, it was useless now and ready to be thrown away.
Junior went and grabbed a brand new, unopened bottle of scotch. After he poured another glass he held it up in front of his face as he gazed over the wreckage all around him.
"To new beginnings," he said to himself.
Author's Note: So you may notice I gave Junior a little backstory here. He's a former huntsman who graduated from Haven. I chose that because of Mistral's criminal underworld, and figured that growing up there would lend some credibility to him becoming a crime boss in Vale. But you may ask, if he's a former huntsman how did Yang kick his ass so easily in the Yellow Trailer? Well, my reasoning is...
1. He's rusty. He's spent the past X number of years only fighting and subjugating other lowly criminals in Vale. At best the only Grimm he's had to fight are some lower tier Beowolves. His skills have declined since he stopped being a huntsman, for reasons which will indeed be explained in future chapters. I have entire backstories planned out for both him and the Malachite twins.
2. He underestimated Yang. Up until she punched him in the face he just thought she was a pretty face. She took him by surprise, and he had no idea that she's a...
3. He had no idea that Yang is a prodigy. Just like the rest of the main characters, Yang is exceptional. Overpowered compared to the rest of Beacon's students. As a result she can take on people far above the skill level of an average student.
So I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of this story. Much more to come soon, including a more in-depth look at the twins as we get scenes from their points of view.
Thanks for reading.