Chapters 3-6 have been rewritified on the pain of death and dismemberment by the hoighty toighty holy hole of the ordos most holey.
She never wanted to be a Hunter, never made it her life-goal to be one. Fighting is barbaric, it never solves anything in the clean and manageable way that negotiating did. Yet, people seem to just fall into it like old habit- violence, that is. When they could use words, people use fists.
Daphne didn't understand people. She didn't Get them, they confused her. There were so many different things about people that Daphne had to remember, so many different nuances and specific little details that Daphne just gave up on remembering them all. She wasn't completely hopeless at it, she knew the basics well enough, when people are happy or sad or angry, she knew that well enough, it was the more complex emotions that she didn't know how to compute.
It was hard to get or understand the emotions that people felt, mostly because she never really felt them herself; at least, that's what she thinks. Life had always felt extremely dull. Black and grey with smidgens of white, monochrome shades always over her eyes, destroying the pallet of nature. Daphne never got angry, never got upset, never laughed never cried, never let herself question why she could never feel these things.
It made killing all the more easy, and d it also made the concept of death seem inconsequential. If it was to be the cessation of all feeling, than what reason did she- a person who seemingly is unable to feel- be afraid of it? While she understood such a mindset was unhealthy, she viewed it more as an asset than detriment. She Is very efficient at what she does, she is clean and orderly. She is logical. Leaving mistral was a logical decision, as was joining the shade academy, as was sticking with Holiday through the fall of Vacuo. She doesn't understand her teammates, her partners, comrades, 'friends.' She can read her immediate area- she can scan five hundred feet around her in every direction, and if she concentrates- she can feel through walls. Yet she cant read her teammates, she cant read other people. She just doesn't understand. The pieces don't click.
The desert sun is still rising; the air is only now starting to warm, the ground starting to bake, the cracked black pavement of the street does not yet have its heat-distorting haze. It will soon, but even before that, Daphne pulls on her sports bra- her only real upper clothing, and lets the heat out, to grow up in mistral and migrate west to Vacuo- it was quite uncomfortable. She was fine with it, it was bearable if it meant running free from that hellhole pit filled the endlessly cracking whip. Besides, she had friends now, and from what she understood, friends are supposed to protect each other.
Friends are supposed to behave irrationally. She also had Taigan, and Taigan is her best friend, Taigan can kill, Taigan can kill very well and does so while protecting her. There is no friend better than Taigan. Taigan will keep her from going back to that pit of scowls and screams and the endlessly cracking whip. She felt something ahead, her antenna straightened, feathery things that caught the breeze, and pulled secrets from the air. She closed her eyes, letting the mental map construct in her head like a city of lights and outlines. This city was dead; it made none of the right sounds that cities were supposed to make. Shouting and yelling, the crank of machinery and whine of electricity, the sound of engines and echo of footsteps on sidewalks. It is a dead city. But she can feel no Grimm, can hear no growls or click of mandibles.
A complex, farther ahead, around three hundred feet, likely less, she can feel something anomaly's. She stays quiet, it isn't immediately concerning, and hasn't given credence to any threat just yet. So she says nothing, reserving her judgment until she can get a more noticeable fix on what it exactly is. When Harriet speaks up, the water treatment plant coming into view, Daphne realizes what it was she was sensing.
The sounds of a city, or, at the very least, the heart of one that has refused to stop beating.
"Water treatment plant." Harriet says, "Looks deserted."
"It's not," Daphne says, Harriet looks back at her. "I can hear the machines."
"You don't say." Harriet mutters, an idea beginning to form. "Maybe we should pop in and have a looksee."
Team Holiday breaks into a soft run, kicking up sand with every step as they eat up the meters between them and the once strong heart of Sodomah.
"Daphne, what you got?" Harriet snaps her fingers, sliding into place next to the front double doors to the 'tandem water & electric.' The building itself was a modern structure, wide and flat, like most buildings in Vacuo. Massive pipes led into one side of the building, running in from the sea, and countless storage tanks sat ready inside, filled with all the water that they could carry.
Even before the fall of the CCT's, it was desalinization plants like this one that kept the kingdom alive, overseas shipments gave the kingdom resources it otherwise wouldn't have, and through that bloated the standard of living past what could be sustainable when those shipments ceased. The slow degradation of society began, first the council collapsed, the academies starved, Grimm ran rampant, and then only the coastal cities remained, but even they fell.
Daphne was the first to enter, hefting Taigan in front of her, the micro gravity amplifiers inside her shield spinning up with a squeeze of the handle inside her shields brace. Her antenna were stiff and alert, catching the air and all the subtle vibrations contained within. She could make out a picture in her minds eye even before breaching, everything was clear to her as she passed through the wide dented double doors to the lobby. Dust, cobwebs, dried and desiccated plants along with flickering lights and a stale stagnant smell to the air, while there were no bodies visible, the place smelled of death. More noticeable however was the sound, the feeling, the electric throb of machinery operating deeper within the desalinization plant. The soft whine of massive pumps and deeper more throaty murmur of electricity exposed to air under intense pressure.
"Find anything, Daph?" Harriet asked, sliding in after Daphne, Yeager and Linda followed after. Typical of most, Harriet was on full alert once she was within the confines of a building, ears perked, glare piercing outwards, looking for any potential threats despite the assurances of Daphne. You can never be too careful in abandoned places, the creations may have once been that of man but in their absence such dens turn to the realm of beasts.
"Just machines." Daphne shakes her head, Taigan still held at the ready before her even as the rest of her team relaxes slightly, weapons lowered but still able to be quickly brought to bear. There were papers, files, folders, and all manner of detritus scattered across the floor, leading back to its point of origin, the overturned and ransacked file cabinets, drawers pulled open and spreadsheets caking the floor around the receptionists desk. The two side officers looked no different.
Yeager took several of the files and casually perused them, before looking at the desktop terminals at the receptionists desk, he idly punched a few keys, seeing if the terminals woke up and was not surprised that they remained dormant and dead. "Place is fucked," he remarks.
"Not any different from any other place within a few miles give or take."
"Thing is it's still running," Harriet whistles. "I know these places are automated and all that, but this has to be pushing the limits."
"We're not alone." Daphne suddenly announces, looking around, calm, despite the words she spoke, and the alarm that seemed to trigger in her teammates.
"There are several living things within this complex."
"Wish you had told me this earlier, Daph,"
"Daph shrugs. "It took time to grow accustomed to the noise the machines generate, and difference it between the sounds of living creatures."
"Linda, lock this place down with Yeager, Daphne you go with me, let's find these fuckers."
Harriet and her moth Faunus friend took to the hallways, Daphne taking the lead, her antenna swiveled and bobbed as she kept Taigan in front of her, the Heavy circular saw-come-shield was durable and solid enough to take blows from seemingly anything Remnant had to throw at Her, and Harriet was more than willing to take advantage of that, pride be damned.
This water treatment plant was one of the many modern desalinization plants that were constructed along the coastline of Vacuo by the authorities of Sodomah. It was a much more modern affair than the makeshift scrap machines that were constructed by the desperate populace long ago when the Desert oasis' ran dry and plunged the central valleys into a hellish existence of heat and sand. It apparently had not occurred to many that such an eventuality was even possible that there would ever be a future where the people would want for anything. In the old days of Vacuo- the kingdom was regarded as some sort of paradise. Such a dream quickly eroded and turned to so much dust along with the oases.
The first few desalinization plants were rushed things, pulled together and built with whatever parts were available. They were unreliable and crude, but they worked; dust powered engines and turbines pumping in hundreds of gallons of seawater in exchange for barley enough to sustain a small village and resupply caravans. Further engineering saw to larger yields of fresh, drinkable water, until eventually large coastline spanning factories were made in so as to quench the thirst of an entire nation. Before the CCT fell in Vale, water was airlifted to outlying settlements around Vacuo, but with the absence of the CCT, air travel became hazardous, Radar stations could not broadcast the forecast of the weather and the movements of flying grimm. The much shorter-range radar of Bullheads and heat gliders were not nearly strong or sensitive enough to pick up on the fast moving species of flying grimm that would descend from the clouds and rip the transports to shreds. Ground based caravans were not much better off, only the recent exports of the Sodomah armored transports had seen to alleviating the drought blighted communities that huddled together in furtive hovels among the savannahs beyond the great desert sands.
It was those same caravans that had given hope to the academy students when the underground storage tanks ran dry, and the bottled reserves were exhausted. More to the question was why the White Fang hit Sodomah. What's the point of plunging what remained of Vaccuo into the parched sands and dooming the thousands of Faunus that lived here?
Daphne stopped, Harriet nearly bumped into her. Neither said anything, Harriet waiting with patient intensity, Daphne cocking her head, her antenna shifting and bending, catching the slight vibrations of the air, formulating a precise map in her minds eye. She quietly motioned Harriet closer, and whispered. "Movement in the next room."
"How many?" Harriet asks, she thumbs the haft of Melody, the axe head and pole extend with a snap-click. "Human or Grimm?"
"Around five." Daphne leans her head against the wall, pressing her antenna against the cold plaster. "Can't tell, the machines; they're vibrating the walls. I can't tell exactly."
"We'll breach, just to be safe. Might be grimm, maybe just looters."
"If that's the case, I'll take point." Daphne said, stepping before the doorway, Taigan raised before her, its rim glowing softly blue as the internal dust generator spun into action. Behind her, Harriet gripped Melody, the off-orange halberd glinting.
"Punch it, Daph."
Daphne lunged forwards.
The doors exploded outwards, sailing across the room, a concussive thud bending them like tinfoil. The smashed into the opposite wall, cracking cement and embedding themselves fully. Yet, before they even were half way across the room, There was Harriet, vaulting over Daphne and twisting around mid air before landing, Melody whipping around her waist- and coming to rest in her back hand as she crouched low, legs spread, eyes ablaze.
"Fucking what-?" The shout greeted her, as well as the cascading sound of automatic rifles snapping off of safe.
White masks, with black and red stripes. Well over twenty, all of them looking at her.
Harriet didn't move, she kept her stance, and calmly glanced back at Daphne. "This is a lot more than 'around five'."
Daphne shrugged, "I can be wrong sometimes."
Every time I hear thunder I cry, because I imagine that it's Harambe up in heaven slamming the soul of some naughty-boi up against the great big zoo wall in the sky.