Had a few people asking where the chapter is, etc, why it's not come out last two weeks – just a reminder that I do put dates on the bottom of each chapter and where a week is missed, I try and explain it in an author's note. I hit almost every single date I put, except where it's a daft spelling mistake (which I change) or if something bad happens.
Trigger Warning: I don't really use these often, but people have complained a lot in the past. Personally I think warnings like this detract from a story but hey-ho. Mentions in this chapter of dark shit involving sexual slavery and prostitution of a non-consensual manner. You won't read or see any happening, but it's all very heavily alluded to. If you want to skip it, go to the end for a summary of the chapter.
Cover Art: Serox
Hei's information took them to a large set of townhouses – tall, terraced buildings with five floors and numerous apartments within. Each of those had been retrofitted into its own little pleasure dens according to the intel. It didn't make sense to Jaune that a criminal gang would term itself an `entertainment gang`. To him, gangs were meant to be violent, illegal things – drugs, murder, bank robberies and fraud. According to Hei, those were the minority. Most gangs simply set up with whatever was a money earner, albeit on the wrong side of the law.
"Illegal gambling, opium rooms, boxing rings and prostitution," Jaune read off. "We're looking at all the above in there, and probably some storage rooms for drugs and the like. Our focus is getting the girls out. We're not bothering with stealth here. Team RWBY will be going in first because they're huntresses, and the best suited to react if they have armed people in there."
Ruby and Weiss nodded, while Yang and Blake offered their own assent.
"The White Fang will be playing support for this." Sienna took over, far more experienced in conducting paramilitary operations. Jaune let her. "I want Bane, Tukson and Perry outside keeping lookout. Let us know if you see police, but also if more gang cars or any lorries run up. They might try and smuggle the evidence out. If that happens, take out their tyres and strand them. The rest of us will go in with Team RWBY and spread out as needed. Yuma, Trifa, your job is to subdue and keep prisoners. Jaune, Ilia and I shall carry on deeper and find the brothels while Team RWBY sweep the building and deal with any armed threats. Questions?"
"You said you'll run once the police arrive." Weiss said. "What if that happens while the fight is ongoing?"
"It shouldn't. The police won't dare enter while a firefight is going on. They'll set up a perimeter and try to engage hostage negotiations."
"Then how will you get out?"
"A place like this will have its own escape route. Likely underground. It'll be how they smuggle drugs in and out. We'll take that, or if that isn't possible, we'll sneak out another way. Deery will be working remotely and relaying us information on police channels, so we'll get a warning if they do decide to breach. We'll work it out from there."
That sounded just a little too vague, but Team RWBY shrugged it off. With any luck, it wouldn't be an issue.
"Assuming we find the victims, what do we do with them?" Yang asked. "Take them outside or leave them until we've dealt with everyone?"
"Mostly the latter, but if they're close enough then you can direct them to Yuma and Trifa. They can keep them safe or escort them outside if the police arrive. Obviously, don't take any risks. We need to protect them, and the people here may not be shy about harming them. Deal with the threats first, the victims after. Any other questions?"
There were none.
There weren't any guards at the front of the building. That felt wrong, but maybe they were all on the inside so as not to draw suspicion. The front door was brightly lit with a red light on the inside serving as a signal to what was offered within. Team RWBY huddled outside, weapons at the ready but nervous – so very nervous. If the White Fang had the wrong information, they could very well be hurting innocent people.
"We were right about the hospital." Jaune said. "This information came from the same source. Besides, you won't have to harm anyone if they don't attack you first, and what civilian is going to do that?"
Yang was the first to nod, take a deep breath and reach for the door handle. It was unlocked and swung inward, into a narrow corridor with a busy coatrack at the back. The group scurried in, Ruby having to hold her scythe vertically in the confined space. A staircase lay ahead, rooms off to the left and right. The one on the right was loud, with laughter, music and plenty of shouting coming through. Left was quiet, lights off and hopefully empty.
They had to clear the place room by room. Leaving anyone behind was inviting an ambush from below as they climbed the stairs, and they could also be leaving the girls in harm's way if they did. Trifa and Yuma moved ahead to guard the staircase, while Sienna nodded at the door and Team RWBY stacked either side of it.
Here we go, Jaune thought.
The door was pushed open.
Booze, smoke and dice – the bottom floor casino was packed full of people playing around several tables. There was something else Jaune quickly noticed. Tits. A whole lot of women, thankfully adult, dressed in bikinis or in some cases entirely topless, lounging over sleazy looking men wasting money away on the house tables. There weren't any one-armed bandits, but roulette, cards and dice were in full swing, as was alcohol and smoke that didn't smell like cigarettes or cigars at all.
Apparently, Yang recognised it. "Weed!" she snapped. Her arm rose and buckshot fired once into the ceiling. The sound was deafening and had everyone freezing and turning their way. "Down on the ground! You're under arrest!"
Technically speaking, Team RWBY didn't have the authority to arrest anyone. Neither did the White Fang for obvious reasons. That probably hadn't been her plan however – her goal was to spark a reaction and ensure this place really was the criminal hellhole it was supposed to be. That, at least, her demands achieved, because while most of the guests panicked, as did the women, several men in brown overcoats lining the walls whipped out automatic weapons and started spraying at them.
Jaune dove behind the nearest table and huddled for cover. Holes exploded in the walls behind him, sending chips of wood and dry paint raining over him. Heart racing, he looked to Sienna for ideas, only to realise he was the only person who had hunkered down. Sienna, Ilia and Team RWBY were nowhere to be seen.
But they could sure as hell be heard.
"No, no, no!"
"You can't do th-hngh!"
Cries, impacts and the crashing of wood. The girls tore through the gang members like wet paper, even Ilia and Sienna far more than these gangsters could hope to handle. Team RWBY were worse, veritable ghosts weaving between bullets and knocking grown men down with quick sweeps and slashes. They were holding back as well, not using their Semblances or shooting their weapons in case the gangsters didn't have aura.
It was over in a matter of seconds. Literal seconds. Jaune stood, more embarrassed than afraid, and brushes his arms clean. The gang members were already down and groaning, nursing broken arms or unconscious. A fat man in a suit tried to crawl past Jaune's foot, sobbing fitfully. He gave the man a little push and sent him rolling over onto his back. "Please don't!" he cried.
"No one will be hurt as long as you all stay here," Jaune spoke. "Our companions will be coming through to tie you up. You there." Jaune pointed to the nearest woman, who looked up at him with haunted eyes. She was wearing an odd, feather-frills sort of get-up that revealed more than it didn't. "Stand up. Do you work here?"
The woman shivered. "Y-Yes…"
Her eyes flicked to the downed men. "O-Of Course…"
"We're shutting this place down. We've heard rumours of people kept against their will and forced into low-paid jobs. After tonight, these people won't be hurting anyone again." Her eyes came back to his, desperate but afraid. That was answer enough in his mind. "Do you know where we might find those people?"
"Third floor," she whispered. "They're on the third floor. Some of them… some of them need help."
"Bitch!" one of the downed men howled. "The boss will have your eyes for that!"
Jaune made to call out, but Ilia beat him to it, kicking the man so hard he curled up into a ball. Well, that was one way to shut him up. He looked to Team RWBY as if to ask if that was proof enough, and they each nodded back. Even Blake did. "You four can move on ahead," he said. "I'll have these people tied up."
"Right." Ruby was already moving. "Let's go!"
"Alright. To all you lot, you're all going to be handed over to the police. Those here against their will have no reason to fear – you'll be looked after. Everyone else had best start thinking about hiring lawyers. Don't try and escape; the building is surrounded by White Fang, and a lot of our people aren't nearly as merciful as I am. Spider! Bat!" Yuma and Trifa came into the room. "See to tying these people up. We're going on ahead."
"On it. Get those spider-anus-hands working, babe."
"I will kill you if you say that again…"
He left Yuma and Trifa to it. From the sounds coming from upstairs, Team RWBY had already started clearing the second floor. They were certainly a lot faster at it than he was used to. Sienna and Ilia caught up with him and climbed the stairs, the three of them having to clamber over two unconscious forms at the top.
On the next floor, doors were open left and right, gangsters strewn about and for the most part knocked out. Weiss came stalking out one door, saw them and paused. "It's disgusting," she spat, face inflamed and hands clenched in fists.
"What is it?"
"Dungeons, pain rooms – not even BDSM, but just pure torture."
The blood drained from Jaune's face. "What…?"
"I've seen it before in wealthier circles," the heiress went on. "Those who can have anything they want start to lose interest in normal vices, always seeking the next high. They move from what is acceptable to what is forbidden, losing themselves in a hedonistic quest for pleasure." Her lips twisted. "Disgusting. I hate it."
"Is… Does anyone need medical attention…?"
"No. There's blood but… whatever or whomever it's from is gone. Hopefully not killed. They might just have been beaten or whipped. Not that that's much better," she muttered under her breath. She opened her mouth again, closed it and shook her head, moving into the next room without saying a word.
Hei hadn't mentioned this. Maybe he hadn't known. This must be what differentiated an entertainment gang from a regular casino; they offered the same degree of entertainment but pushed to a much higher level. Dangerous highs, forbidden vices and access to things no one else dared offer. Not unlike the horrid pit fights to the death they'd seen before.
"This place is somehow eviller than the hospital." Ilia said.
"A lot of people are going to be charged for this." Sienna said. "Come on. We should make for the third floor. The people up there must have heard the commotion by now."
Yang's blood was pumping in her ears.
Her hair blazed yellow, her eyes red, and the man who dared to try and turn a weapon on her – a barbed whip no less – struck the back wall so hard he left a spiderweb of cracks. Something was broken, and she dully hoped it was his spine. He collapsed without a sound, but the poor man, no older than her, strapped to a wooden cross with a leather gag in his mouth and blood running down his back, made enough sound for the two of them.
"Shh. Shh. It's okay." It wasn't but things would hopefully get better. Yang unbuckled his hands and feet, then hesitated on where to touch him. He was wearing leather pants, but his top half was covered in blood. "Shit, are you alright?"
"D-Do I look alright?" the man gasped as he wrenched the gag out. Tears had long since dried down his cheeks to make them sparkle. "F-Fuck, I… my back." He swallowed. "T-Thank you-"
"Don't talk. Why did they have you here? Are you from one of the villages?"
He shook his head. "Orphanage. I was offered a job. High pay. Didn't think to ask questions." He glanced back over his shoulder and shivered. "Should have. T-The second I got here, I was dragged up here and…" His eyes widened. "Upstairs!" he barked. "There are more-"
"We know. We're clearing the whole building out."
"Good. G-Good." He looked down at the man who'd been abusing him and swallowed. For a moment she thought he might try and strangle the bastard, and that she'd have to step in and pull him off. Thankfully, he chose not to. She had a feeling that was more because of the pain he felt than any real mercy.
Yang placed a hand as gently as she could on his shoulder. "I want you to go downstairs and find the two faunus in masks in the main room. Tell them one of the huntresses sent you down and they'll look after you."
"The White Fang?" The man, more of a boy, looked so hopeful it hurt. "They're here!?"
It said a lot about the current sentiment in the city that an abused soul like this would pray for the White Fang's intervention more than he would the police. That a human would be relieved at all was incredible enough. Then again, Team RWBY were only here because Ruby managed to convince the White Fang to listen to them, so maybe it wasn't so far-fetched.
"The White Fang and Beacon are here. You're saved."
"Thank you! Thank you!"
Yang stepped out after the boy and watched him run for the stairs. He passed Blake en route, who saw his back and closed her eyes in disgust. Yang caught up, sharing a bitter smile. Upstairs, fresh gunfire opened up. It sounded like the gangsters had finally caught on and were gathering their forces to hold them off. If she had her way, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.
"My rooms are clear." Blake said. "Shall we go up?"
"Yeah. Weiss and Ruby can catch up. Your old pals might need us more."
They might have pushed too far, too fast.
Or not fast enough. The gang members were hunkered down and Jaune winced as a stream of steady gunfire rinsed the corner he and Ilia were hidden behind. Sienna was on the other side, equally pinned down. Further down the corridor ahead, tables had been overturned to create makeshift barricades, and men in brown coats knelt behind them, automatic weapons balanced over the edges and trained on their position.
Further beyond those, people were moving. A lot of people. That they were moving away from the fight worried Jaune, because it implied they had somewhere to go and might be trying to smuggle the victims out.
"Deery here. The police have finally noticed and are on the way. Radio chatter is going wild! You have maybe six minutes until they arrive. They're saying it might take twenty to set up a full barricade."
"Twenty minutes!" Jaune called to Sienna and Ilia. He didn't have to say until what; they nodded back. Sadly, that warning wouldn't change the fact they couldn't get down the corridor without being riddled by bullets. "Damn it! Where are Team RWBY?"
"Someone call for the cavalry?"
Yang blurred past them with Blake hot on her tail. Bullets ricocheted off their aura to ping into the floor, ceiling and walls with bright flashes of light. It was honestly a little terrifying to watch the two girls, teenagers, rush head on into gunfire and shrug it off like it was nothing. Even more frightening to witness Blake somersault over the barricade and push past all the gangsters entirely, to trust Yang to take them all out on her own.
And she did. Ruthlessly. She landed in the middle of them like a golden demon and lashed out with both fists, catching two different people by the throat and hurling them into two others. Her foot caught a table and launched it like a football, driving three more down. Someone came from behind wielding their spent gun like a club, but Yang caught his wrist with one hand and punched him in the gut with the other so hard his feet rose up off the floor. He dropped, completely unconscious from the one blow.
"Is this what a huntress is!?" Jaune hissed. "How did we survive the docks!?"
"Luck." Ilia replied. "And Bane. There's a reason we're more afraid of a single huntsman than a squad of Atlas soldiers. You never know what they can do, or what bullshit Semblance they'll pull out."
Well, Team RWBY were on their side now, and wasn't that a relief? Seconds after Yang had finished destroying a fortified position on her own, the three of them raced down toward her. Yang had already placed her foot through a wooden door and stormed in.
"Y-You can't do this!" someone within shrieked. "I know my rights-"
The sound of a fist cracking concrete could be heard. Jaune swallowed and rushed in, wondering if she hadn't just murdered someone. Luckily, she'd missed the speaker's head intentionally. Yang's fist was buried in the wall while an old man, hastily dressed, sat in a puddle of his own urine after having fainted.
Nearby, on the bed, a frightened looking young woman had drawn tatty sheets up her body. She was thin and bony, pale and frail. Probably between twenty and thirty, but obviously not healthy or happy. Yang snarled and pushed past Jaune, more intent on stopping any more tragedies than helping this one. Jaune waved Sienna and Ilia to do the same, and soon they were breaking down doors and shouting demands at the people inside.
"You don't need to be afraid." Jaune said, trying to sound as comforting as he could. He didn't approach, worried he might scare her. "My name is Jaune Arc and we're here to help-"
"Y-You're the White Fang…"
He winced. "Yes, but-"
"T-They said you'd come!" the woman began to cry, letting the sheets fall to cup her face. Jaune looked away from her naked body. "S-Some of them said you'd come save us, but I didn't believe it. I didn't dare." She sobbed. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry I-"
"You don't need to apologise. We're here now and we're getting you out. All of you." Jaune swore as more gunfire sounded in the distance. Blake must have found more enemies. "I hate to say this, but I want you to stay here. You'll be safer in this room than you will outside. We're going to clear this place out of all the gang members and then you'll all be escorted out safe and sound. Is that okay?"
The woman, too tearful for words, simply bobbed her head.
"Good." Jaune smiled again. "You've been very brave. I'm sorry I have to leave you but there are other people we're going to help. Please get dressed. You'll need clothing outside."
"W-We're not given any. They like us undressed when they rent a room…"
Bastards. Jaune felt the hot swell of fury within him. Ilia was right. The hospital had been terrible, evil, but this… this was far worse. They might have made the wrong choice on which to stop first. "Here." Jaune shucked off his thick hoodie and laid it on the end of the bed. He was mildly aware of the stupid bunny rabbit face on his shirt, but that didn't matter here. "You can wear this. I'm sorry I can't give you more."
Jaune turned away before she could speak again, rushing out into the corridor. Ilia was leaving another room, her face marred with a hideous scowl. "It's not just girls," she said on seeing him. "They have boys as well. Little boys."
"No. I mean… small. Frail. Unhealthy."
That wasn't much better and Jaune hated the small amount of relief he felt. If he'd seen children here, then he wasn't sure he could stop himself wanting to kill these people. He was on the edge already. This is what we expected to find, he reminded himself. Hei warned us about this. I shouldn't be so surprised.
And yet he was. Surprised and angry. It was exactly what they knew they would find, but that was so much harder to see than it had been to imagine. It stung somewhere deep inside, twisting and rolling in his gut until he felt sick to his core. How could people do this? How could they want this? He wouldn't fault people paying for sex if they wanted and if the other person consented to it, but why would you want to see a bruised and obviously sickly person on the other side of that? It was just wrong.
"Ruby and Weiss have caught up and are clearing more rooms." Ilia reported. "Yang went ahead to find Blake."
"I'll follow. You help finish things here."
He found Blake and Yang on the other side of at least thirty men, all injured and unconscious, some groaning and a few dangerously quiet. He stepped over them and through the door at the back, into what appeared to be some kind of medical facility of all things. The room was arranged like a hospital ward with numerous beds, some occupied, and medical drips here and there.
On one side of the room were a whole lot of shattered jars, beakers and glasses, while on the right stood Yang, a man in a suit dangling from her hand and several more on the floor. Blake was applying first aid to a woman who was wearing a green medical gown.
"Is she okay!?" Jaune asked.
"She's been shot." Blake snapped back, as angry as he'd ever seen her before, but, for once, not at him. "It hasn't hit anywhere vital – through and out. I'll need to keep pressure on it until paramedics arrive."
"This is the man in charge," Yang interrupted, dangling the man just a little higher. He was old – ancient, even – easily eighty or ninety if a day, with sallow and wrinkled skin and a thin spattering of white hair on his head. We found him and his lot trying to destroy as much evidence as they could in here."
The old man kicked weakly at Yang's chest. "B-Bitch," he croaked. "Y-You don't have the right to come here. I'll see you arrested!"
"Not before you, asshole. I bet the other guys in prison will tear you apart."
"Yang." Blake growled. "We need him in one piece. He needs to pay for what he's done."
"I know. I know." Yang let the man down but kept hold of him. He slapped and punched at her, but his weak blows really didn't do anything. Yang ignored them so much she turned to look at Jaune entirely. "They're shooting the victims up with drugs in here," she said. "Keeping them hooked so they're too weak and addicted to try and make a run for it. Those that do end up either dying as druggies or come crawling back for a fix."
So, that was their insurance policy, their method of keeping their `stock` in line and disciplined. Monsters. The things he'd seen were bad enough already, but forcefully addicting people to dangerous drugs was the icing on the cake. There was no argument that this would be a huge win for the White Fang in the court of public opinion, but it didn't feel worth it. He would have sacrificed all that for this to have never been a thing in the first place.
Like him, Yang and Blake didn't look happy with the night's work. They'd done good in taking this down, but there was no pleasure to be had in what they'd seen. That this was happening at all made it all too clear which way the city was going.
"Jaune." Sienna had come up behind while he was distracted. She looked distraught, but also focused. "We have five minutes until the police set up a full barricade. They're already out in force. This is our last chance to slip out without a fight."
Damn it. The timing was… well, it wasn't bad timing, but still, it felt like they should stay to help Team RWBY clean up the mess. Pick up the pieces. Something. Leaving them like this, with all this horror, felt wrong.
"Go." Yang offered them a tight smile. "I'll tell the others you had to book it. No point staying if it'll make the cops and council angry, and we need these poor people to get help fast."
"Are you sure you'll be alright?"
"We'll be fine. Better if this ends sooner than later. If you have to negotiate your way out, the girl Blake's busy holding together might not make it. The sooner the police feel it's safe to enter, the better we'll all be."
That sealed the deal. The police wouldn't dare trust them, couldn't afford to, and any delay might mean gangsters waking up or even people dying. Jaune touched his finger to his radio and spoke clearly into it. "Our work is done. We're getting out the way so the police can get in. Everyone move out."
"On it, boss."
"Good work tonight," he said, if only because it felt like someone should. "We saved a lot of people." He looked to Yang and Blake. "Thank you for your help. We couldn't have done this without you."
Blake scowled down at the injured person, but Yang winked back, still holding her prisoner. "Oh, get out already. You'll make me blush. Hit us up online if you want to do more. After this, I have a feeling we'll all be interested."
Five minutes later, the police entered the scene to find four huntresses stood above a mountain of unconscious criminals, covering a good fifty to sixty emaciated men and women. The White Fang were nowhere to be seen, but the borrowed uniform jackets that several of the naked people were wearing spoke of their involvement.
Online, the forums exploded into activity with a single post from Yuma.
Felt cute tonight. Shut down a gang. Might come for you next. 😉
Not much comedy in this chapter I know. Fallout and reactions next chapter.
Summary: The WF and Team RWBY attack a place forcing victims of Grimm destroyed villages into brothels and take out a lot of people. They save more, discovering that the victims were forced drugs to keep them addicted and too weak to escape. They catch the guy in charge and the WF flees into the night while RWBY stays behind to hand the bad guys to the police and save the victims.
Next Chapter: 26th October
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur