Here's the new story.
Not much to say on this one. I've read and enjoyed a few stories where Jaune gets a powerful semblance and everything changes as a result of it, but those have always been interesting Semblances, but mostly combat oriented or "useful" ones. I wondered what might happen if you unlocked a Semblance too useful. Too good. So good that people can't just ignore the fact you have it and will go to any lengths to claim it for themselves. This is what came about.
In terms of darkness, this first chapter is probably the darkest the story will be. Sure, there will be death and such later, but no more and worse than in any of my stories like One Good Turn or Kingdom's Service.
Also, man, fitting a summary into the tiny character allowance of this site is tough. At least if I want a real one.
"A Semblance is a big responsibility, son. It can be used for ill or it can be used for good, but at the end of the day it's nothing more than a tool. It's up to you to decide where the line lays, and what it'll take to make you cross it."
The voice faded away as the tart smell of medical equipment and a sterilised room filtered in. Groggily, Jaune's eyes opened, taking in the stark and empty space; a white and grey room ten metres by ten with a single heavy metal door on one end. Above it, a wide window reflected down on him, the people behind it invisible.
His arms strained against the metal bindings. Bars crossed over his wrists and the insides of his elbows, while more crossed over his stomach and legs, pinning him vertically to a bed raised upright.
"Subject 000 has regained consciousness."
Jaune glared up at the speakers on either side of the window. His mind was still muddied, a result of the anaesthesia. He felt sick and tired. Once, he'd felt fear as well but that had long since been forced out of him.
"Commence testing. Subject 000's vitals strong. All readings normal."
The door below the window swished open. A single man in a grey uniform approached, helmet hiding his face and segmented armour running up and down his body. His trousers were a dark black and he was unarmed.
"Agent 152. Please approach Subject 000 for testing."
There was no seeing the expression of the man behind the mask. His lower jaw was visible but his mouth was a firm line as he strode forward. The door sealed and locked behind him with a loud, mechanical clunk. Jaune's head hung low, the anaesthesia still running through him, but he watched the man with steely eyes. When he came close, the man reached down and drew a small, black object.
"Research note; aura-activated electrical discharge device. Administers shock on contact. No internal power sources. Aura conversion. Agent 152, begin testing of Subject 000."
The soldier nodded and stepped forward. Jaune strained against the bindings but there was no pulling free. The object began to spark as the soldier activated his aura. Jaune shook his head, begging him no.
The first spark locked his muscles. Every part of his body tensed. The second brought agony, sending lightning dancing up and down his body. Despite trying not to, he screamed instantly, head thrown back and mouth open. "Arghhhhhhhhhhhh!"
Light bled into his eyes. Pink. Green. Yellow. It missed like a swirling pattern, a kaleidoscope of colour that washed over his blue irises. A subtle pulling sensation echoed deep inside before the torture cut out with a wink. Jaune sagged, eyes still shining and swimming like pools of oil. The soldier still had the taser against him but it no longer worked.
"Subject 000 has activated Semblance. Designation: Null. Agent 152, please confirm absence of aura."
The soldier nodded and pressed the aura-powered device to Jaune's bare neck again. It yielded no results. Immediately after, the man brought out his scroll and touched it to his skin. The device made an aggressive and startled pinging noise.
"Agent 152 registers no aura. Complete aura depletion. Subject 000 has created a field within which aura is nullified. Agent 152, please test Semblance."
The man shook his head and held his arms out. Nothing happened.
"Subject 000 prevents usage of Semblances within radius of fifteen metres. Temporary designation; Null Zone. All aura-based devices cease operation within Null Zone. Agent 152, perform incision on Subject 000."
Jaune grunted as the knife cut into flesh and drew a red line on his arm. It oozed blood.
"Subject 000 is not immune to the effect of Subject 000's Semblance. However, the Null Zone does not cancel the application of Subject 000's Semblance. Despite registering no aura, Subject 000 can maintain the Null Zone for a recorded twenty-five minutes and sixteen seconds. Up from initial reported duration of seven minutes and forty-six seconds recorded four months prior."
Four months? Was that how long it had been? It felt like longer. Years. Time ceased to have meaning in the tight cell and barren chambers he was brought to. He slept when they put him under. He ate when food was forced into his mouth or even provided intravenously. He soiled himself where he was secured and was cleaned and maintained by faceless people in white lab coats or armour.
"Begin second stage of testing. Introduce Subject 003 to testing chamber."
Jaune's head rose, eyes growing wide as the door opened.
The young girl was strapped to a wheelchair, sobbing and crying with her curly, blonde hair tossing left and right. A second soldier pushed her in, ignoring her pleas to be left alone. She wore a pale green medical gown and her arms were covered in red marks from various injections. Once she was inside, the second soldier quickly departed.
"Lavender…" His voice came out a raw croak from disuse. He didn't recognise it. The crying stopped and she looked up, eyes wide and afraid.
"J-Jaune? B-Big brother…"
It was the first member of his family he'd seen since he'd been taken here. Since they all had. Since the masked people came for them.
"Subject 003. Age: Fifteen. Vitals below average. Long-term disease. Semblance: Limited Telekinesis. Semblance unlocked due to stress testing designed to draw out Null Semblance. Viability for inheritance of Null Semblance terminated. Subject 003 updated status: Expendable."
No. No, no, no.
"Agent 152. Use sidearm to dispose of Subject 003."
Without hesitation, the man brought out a gun and pointed it at Lavender.
Aura sparked as it went off. Lavender was tossed to the side and fell, striking the ground. Her aura shimmered across her skin, a red welt growing from where the bullet hit. No blood. She'd blocked it. Pulling her knees up, she cried on the floor.
"Subject 000 shows instinctive control over Null Semblance. Able to activate and deactivate at will with near instantaneous results. Agent 152, report aura." The soldier held his scroll against him. "Agent 152's aura reported at 100%. No aura damage reported by exposure to Null Semblance. Begin testing of Subject 000's control. Alternate lethal dose of Semblance vs firearm on Subject 003. Testing to continue until Subject 003 expires."
The soldier approached, fire licking over his hands as his Semblance activated.
A loud and distant thoom shock the facility. The voice from the speaker cut off. The soldier let his Semblance go and looked back toward the door, then up at the windows for instruction. A second later, a siren began to wail and red light bathed the testing chamber. A different automatic voice, feminine and computer generated, began to play.
"Facility under attack. This is not a drill. All units to combat positions. Facility under attack. This is not a drill. All units to combat positions."
Jaune closed his eyes.
This is far too much resistance.
The errant thought was quickly dismissed as adrenaline rushed through Blake's body. Twisting out the way of a lunge from a robotic enemy, she leapt up and over, firing twice into the back of its head. It turned her way but she was already moving, chasing down the human soldiers firing on her allies. With any luck, the robot would chase and open fire on her, hitting its allies.
Bullets ricocheted off her aura. She closed the distance and kicked up into the first man's jaw, flipped and kicked off the ceiling. The second aimed up at her but caught only a clone, Blake landing under the woman's arm and sweeping her legs out from under her. Slamming the butt of Gambol Shroud down cracked the visor and sent the woman into dreamland. The robot spluttered and fell behind, brought down by a single well-placed shot from an anti-armour rifle. White Fang rushed up, weapons at the ready.
"Secure these two and cover the area," Blake ordered. "I'll push deeper and meet up with Adam."
"Ma'am!" they said, hunkering down. They'd never normally have taken orders from her, but they were fiercely loyal to Adam and trusted his instructions. He'd told them to listen to her and they would. Checking her aura and happy to see it still hovering around 85%, she hurried further on, listening to the sound of gunfire in the distance.
The white walls gave way to offices. White frosted-glass windows with the image of a mechanical cog with a staff or torch driven down the middle of it. It looked more like a laboratory than a weapons testing facility like Adam thought. Still, there was no denying the sheer size of its garrison. You didn't have this much ordinance around unless you had something you wanted kept safe. And with the place being in the snowy mountains of an abandoned mountain range in East Atlas, it was clear they wanted it kept secret as well.
All the more reason for them to find out what was going on.
Red light flashed down the corridor ahead. Men screamed and the head of a robot smashed into the back wall. Smiling, she rounded the corner and whistled to announce her presence. Much like her own, the White Fang were taking control of the area while a masked figure strolled toward her, his red blade touching the floor at his side.
"You're late. I got here first."
Adam chuckled. "Good to see you in one piece too. I wasn't aware we were racing."
His smile fell. "I know. Something doesn't add up. I expected a token defence and an easy assault. You'd think the whole point of a hidden facility is not having to staff it with so many men."
"It's a lot bigger on the inside." Blake led him down the corridor to the lab rooms she'd passed before. Adam removed his mask, his single eye narrowing. Beakers and vials of liquid covered desks while paperwork lay strewn everywhere, the inhabitants clearly in a rush to get somewhere.
"They must have evacuated." Adam brought out his scroll. "We're expecting escapees up top. Shoot down any vehicles. Try to take prisoners but don't risk your lives for it." He put it away and looked to her. "There. Happy?"
"I'd be happier if we didn't have to kill anyone."
"I'm trying, Blake. I am. But I won't ask them to die for your morals."
Blake nodded. It didn't really satisfy her but she told herself it should. This was war, after all. The White Fang against its enemies. And the foe this time were soldiers, so they'd be shooting to kill. It wasn't meant to be like this.
Adam pushed open a door and stepped into one of the labs. Sheathing Wilt, he sat down on a discarded chair and picked up the closest document. "Blood tests. Arc. Does the name sound familiar to you?"
"Me neither. These blood samples are all healthy."
"You can read medical charts now?"
He showed her the page. "I can when someone helpfully writes `Healthy` in big red letters on it."
Smartass. If they weren't testing on people then what was all this for? There hadn't been any outbreaks she'd heard of so it couldn't be disease control. Weapons development implied more engineering in her mind, though. Or at least some facilities to design and build more of their usual robotic units.
A single gunshot echoed further down the facility. Adam's head shot up.
Blake was already at the door, looking deeper down the corridor where it had come from. The White Fang hadn't pushed that far yet, meaning whatever was down there hadn't been shooting at them. A misfire? Someone jumping at shadows? Either way, Adam was up and drawing his sword once more.
"You think it's Grimm?"
"Bit early for them to be showing up. Unless they have a second exit we couldn't find." He moved on. "Guess we'll find out."
"Control. This is Agent 152. Please respond. Control? Damn it." The soldier shook his scroll and hurried to the door, banging his hand on it and shouting through. The speakers were silent, and though red light continued to bathe the room, the sirens had stopped. "Agent 98? Smithson. Engage the manual override. Let me out." He slammed his fist on the door. "Fuck. What's going on out there?"
The question echoed in Jaune's head too, but his eyes were on Lavender. His younger sister, only a few years below him, laid on her side, still trapped in her wheelchair with arms and legs tied down. She was still crying, knowing what her fate would be once whatever this was ended.
Expendable. Disposed of.
"Damn it all," the man growled, stalking back from the door and cocking his gun. "What the fuck am I supposed to do now? Do I continue the testing?" He looked to Lavender on the floor, crying and with her eyes scrunched shut, brow furrowed. "I guess I should finish you off."
The gun barked once.
Lavender's aura protected her.
Growling, he brought fire to his hands.
Jaune's eyes glowed, his Semblance kicking in. The fire winked out, ripped from the man's control. When he reached for his gun, Jaune cancelled his Semblance again, preventing him from killing his sister.
"Very funny." The soldier spat and looked Jaune's way, hissing under his breath, "You're lucky they need you or I'd put a bullet between your eyes."
Something rattled to the left of Jaune's shoulder. The metal binding shook, jostled despite him not being able to move a muscle. Hope shot through him and he looked past the soldier to Lavender, whose entire face was scrunched up in concentration. The metal bar creaked. Something gave way with a metallic snap.
"I'm not paid enough for this," the Soldier said, pointing his gun down at Lavender.
The binding holding his left arm in place snapped off loudly and was flung away. The sound shocked the soldier and made him look back. The very second his arm was free, Jaune slammed it onto the side of the bed as he'd seen the doctors do before. The release catch was struck and the other bindings jettisoned themselves off, dropping him to the floor.
"Subject 000 has escaped!" the man roared.
Jaune's legs cried out in agony, unused to moving or exercise after so long. The fire inside gave him energy, pushing him to lunge forward with hands outstretched and a scream on his lips.
A gunshot cracked off his aura. After so long of the monsters testing it by hurting him over and over, he'd learned to control it. He hit the man around the midriff and carried him down over Lavender's body, making the girl cry out. The soldier hit the ground first and Jaune slapped the gun away, grabbing the man's helmet and cracking it down.
Stars danced as something cracked into his head from the side. He swayed and was unable to dodge the second punch, which knocked him clean to the floor. His head was spinning. He was tired, weak and sore from so little movement. Anger gave him strength but no skill. He flailed out with his feet, hitting the man's jaw. In return, the soldier drove both feet down into Jaune's chin, sending him skidding back.
"Nice try," he grunted, wiping his chin. "But it'll be a long while before a kid with no training can best a trained soldier. Now, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. You sit there and let me tie you back in, or you resist and I'll burn or beat you unconscious. Your choice, Subject 000."
"I have…" Jaune pushed himself onto his hands and knees. "…a name."
He drew up, eyes shining three colours in a dazzling display of light. The Null Zone dropped, robbing everyone within fifteen metres of aura and Semblance. No telekinesis from Lavender. No fire manipulation from the soldier. No aura. No shields. Just three normal, unprotected and fleshy human beings.
And one gun clutched in his hand.
He saw the soldier's mouth open in shock. Through luck more than skill, he placed the bullet there. It ripped through aura that couldn't manifest, through skin and bone and muscle and more. The man's head snapped back. His entire body followed. He staggered once and his hand raised up as though to grasp something, before he crashed down to the floor, laying in a pool of blood.
I killed a man. Jaune's hand trembled. I… I…
A sob broke those thoughts.
"Lavender!" Falling, he crawled his way over to her, the adrenaline that had kept him going rushing away. All those months of being held in one position came back and his muscles returned to jelly. He dragged himself the remaining feet, put the gun down and fumbled on the release catch for her restraints. The leather gave way with a hiss and a whip as it retracted.
Arms wrapped around his head a second later. Lavender was in his arms, crying and pushing her face into his neck. Almost on the verge of tears himself, he held onto her, pulling her close. Someone was still alive. One of them. He wasn't alone.
"I'm here," he whispered. "I'm here. Dad made me promise I'd look after you all. I'm here."
"Jaune," she babbled. "I-I was so scared. T-They hurt me. Hurt everyone. M-Mom-"
"Mom's alive!? Where is she?"
"They took her. I… I don't know where. Said they were moving her – moving her and the others. Other facilities. I was only left behind b-because I didn't unlock your Semblance l-like they wanted." She began to cry again. "Because I was useless."
"You're not useless. And… And I'll find them. I'll find them all, Lav. I promise."
Something hit the metal door hard. It buckled inward, bending at the centre like it had been struck with a battering ram. Jaune looked up and picked up the gun again, steadying it on the doorway with a shaking hand and wide eyes. Through a small crack in the door he saw a red flash, then the whole thing was tossed aside, exploding in and up into the air. Jaune threw himself down over Lavender and cancelled his Semblance.
The wreck of metal came crashing down a good few metres behind them. Smoke billowed in through the door and he opened one eye, this time blue, ready to bring his Semblance forth and shoot whoever entered.
Until he saw a girl.
The moment's hesitation may have saved her life. It gave him the time to take in her mask – utterly unlike those of his captors – her white and black clothing and the faint splatters of blood over her black and purple stockings. Long black hair fell down her back and she had an odd weapon in hand. A combination of a gun and a cleaver.
That brought him back to life and he pointed the gun at her. "Don't come any closer!"
Her gun swivelled to face him but didn't fire. She looked at him through her mask, seeing a young man in a pale green gown huddling over a younger girl wearing the same, both bruised and pale, with the dead body of a soldier nearby. Jaune's heart hammered in his chest. Flecks of colour began to swirl in his eyes. Better to shoot first, no? Before she shot them.
The girl lowered her weapon, reached up and removed her mask. That action, random as it seemed, distracted him long enough for her to introduce herself. "I'm Blake Belladonna. You don't need to be afraid. We're going to get you out of here."
He didn't dare hope. "What?"
"You're here against your will, aren't you? We've attacked the facility. We…" The girl looked back to the doorway. "We're the White Fang." She waited for some response but he'd honestly never heard of them. Or if he had, he couldn't remember. Her eyes shifted back to the dead soldier. "We're enemies of them," she said, pointing. "We're not here to hurt you."
Jaune's gun dropped. Not by choice, but because his arm gave way. The girl took it as the former and sheathed her own weapon, hooking it behind her waist. She turned and shouted back to someone outside the door.
"Two people, Adam. Humans. I think they're test subjects."
Something burned in his gut. "I have a name!"
"Sorry. Sorry." The girl raised both hands. "I didn't ask it. What's your name?"
"Jaune." It felt good to hear it, even if only from his lips. "My name is Jaune. Jaune Arc." He looked down at his sister still huddled to his chest. "This is my sister, Lavender. We… I…" His voice gave way with a scratchy sound.
"Do you want something to drink?"
Helplessly, he nodded. Trust was something too precious to give but he couldn't help himself. Just one chance to hope, to imagine this might not be some sick trick. He watched through a haze of tears as the girl approached and removed a flask of something from her hip. She knelt and offered it to him, unscrewing the top.
The water was clear and fresh. He wanted to finish it all but forced himself to take no more than a third and hold the rest to Lavender. She guzzled greedily on it, eyes closed and hands holding his. Another person entered the room as she did. Red hair, black clothing and a hideous scar on his face. It was square and uneven, not natural at all.
"Humans?" he asked out loud. "I guess your kind doesn't care who they harm."
"They're victims, Adam. Please don't do this now."
"Hmph." The man sheathed a fearsome looking sword and crossed his arms. "Do you think I would? I hate to rush you and your friends, Blake, but we need to move. Yuma needs time to set charges and we need to be gone before we're noticed. Bring them with us. Maybe they can explain what's going on here."
Blake nodded and placed a hand on Jaune's shoulder. "Can you walk?"
"N-No. I've been tied down for four months…"
Her yellow eyes narrowed. Even Adam huffed angrily. When she looked over to the faunus, he sighed and came forward. "I'll carry the boy," he said. "You get the girl. Don't struggle," he said, kneeling. "I don't make a habit of helping humans like this, but I guess you don't count."
"They didn't see us as human…"
Adam's eye met his. It was angry. Jaune had a feeling it was always angry, burning with supressed rage. Even so, the redhead nodded. "You have a point. Only animals and faunus that get locked up in cages like you." He stood, hefting Jaune's weight easily. "Guess that makes you an honorary faunus."
"Others. Were there others…? My family…"
"We have people scouring the facility," Blake said, Lavender on her back, legs on either side of her waist and with her arms around the faunus' neck and shoulders. "If they're here, we'll find them. So far, it's only been the two of you and several researchers."
"Guess you're not a fan of those," Adam said. "Good. We'll be questioning them up top."
The sun burned his eyes. The icy wind burned his skin. He didn't know whether to cry in happiness, relief or agony. Blake and Adam carted them to a nearby vehicle and pushed them inside, Blake finding them several thick coats to wear. Lavender curled into his side again while Adam went outside to see to the detonation.
"Would you like something to eat?"
Jaune shook his head. He'd just be sick right now.
"We won't be long," she promised. "We're going to blow this place up and then get away. We have a camp nearby where you can both have a tent. We'll get you hot water for a bath and some warm sleeping bags."
If this was a trick, he still wanted to believe it for a while. "Thank you."
Adam returned. "No one else inside I'm afraid. Your family must have been taken away. We can question the prisoners once we're back in camp, but we can't afford to stay here." He took a seat opposite them and beside Blake, strapping himself in. "So, mind telling us just why they were so interested in you?"
"Adam!" Blake hissed.
"I'm not trying to rush you," Adam said, meeting Jaune's eyes. "But once we're back, I'm going to be interrogating those we took prisoner. Any details you can give will help."
"Adam, he doesn't need-"
"I want to be there."
Blake cut off.
Adam raised a single eyebrow. "You want in on the questioning?"
"Yes." He swallowed; the act of speaking still hurt. "Want to… hrk. Sisters. Mom."
"You want to know where your family is? Makes sense." He leaned back. "Going after them alone is going to get you killed, though. Or worse, it'll end up with you as a prisoner again. I don't really care since that doesn't affect us, but I imagine it's a bigger deal for you. How do you expect to rescue them?"
"I… I have to try. I promised him." In his final moments, with Nicholas Arc bleeding out and the soldiers closing in, he'd begged his son to protect them. Jaune's eyes closed, heart clenching at the memory. "I promised. I'll find them. I'll save them. Help me," Jaune begged. "Please, help me."
Adam sighed. "Not that I don't sympathise, but we have our own battles…"
"I can help with those."
"You? How can you help? You're a mess. You can barely even walk."
"Adam!" Blake rebuked.
"What? It's true. Look at him, Blake. He's on the verge of collapse. Me rejecting that offer is a mercy to him. He's going to get himself killed if he goes anywhere near a real fight. It's a miracle he killed that one guy anyway-"
"They want my Semblance."
"They killed my dad and took my family hostage to get it."
"Look." Adam sighed again. "That's awful, I agree, but you're not the only one dealing with being hunte-"
"They think it might be hereditary," he said, forcing himself to continue. "They want to find how it works. Mass-produce it. Transfer it into weapons. Use my blood and bits of bone to make bullets or explosives. T-They say it has the potential to change everything. To change the world. They'll kill for it, and they'll kill you all to get me back again."
Blake and Adam exchanged long, silent looks.
"If you help me… If you help me find my family..." Jaune closed his eyes, feeling a weight settle on him. Lines. Dad always talked about them, about how you had to choose what lines you were willing to cross and what you weren't. To save his family, though? How could be be selfish enough to put his morals before that? "I'll use my Semblance for you. If you don't, they'll find a way to use it against you."
"And what," Adam said slowly, "Is your Semblance?"
In answer, he activated it. Blue irises swam with green, pink and yellow. The Zone slammed down, draining them of aura suddenly. It was a tactile sensation and the two faunus both gasped, Adam going stiff and Blake sagging forward in her harness. Adam looked down to his scroll, eyes growing wide as he saw what the researchers had. No aura. No protection. He had, in an instant, been reduced to a normal person vulnerable to any stray bullet.
"Impossible," Blake whispered. "That – That's not possible. You can't just cancel aura…"
Adam's reaction was far more visceral. His teeth were gritted. His eye burned.
"Bullets that ignore aura. Weaponry that cuts through faunus like chaff. Bombs that incinerate populations without any hope of survival. Is that what they wanted?" He swore angrily. "Is that what you represent?"
Eyes swimming with colour, Jaune nodded.
Not all Semblances were made equal. Some could move fast, some were stronger and others could control single elements. They were as varied as they were inexplicable. While all were powerful, few were noteworthy. Those that were garnered interest and support, making powerful huntsmen who could defend their Kingdom. The truly incredible Semblances might even face incentives to have as many children as possible to try and pass it on.
But what if, theoretically, a Semblance occurred that was too powerful? That changed the balance of the scales too much. A power to change the world. One dangerous enough to cost humanity the battle against the Grimm and which could make any amateur with a gun the most dangerous man on Remnant. Huntsmen, huntresses and soldiers would be nothing more than athletes. Worse, athletes with melee weapons who couldn't take a single attack. A Semblance that was a force multiplier so drastic that untrained civilians could take down an army of huntsmen.
A Semblance like his. Null. If a single Kingdom could gain control of it, they could change the course of history. No one could stand up to its soldiers armed with weaponry that invalidated the defence so many people relied on. They couldn't even hope to fight it.
"Help me," Jaune said. "And I'll help you. This could be under your control, or it could be under someone else's. Your choice."
"Adam," Blake pleaded, shaking her head.
It was too late. Adam's single eye was wider than it had been before. His lips curled up, teeth showing as he bit back a laugh. Without a second's thought, he stuck his hand out, grasping Jaune's across the Bullhead.
"Welcome to the White Fang."
Winter touched a finger to her earpiece, watching the team she'd brought with her fan out among the snow and wreckage, avoiding the entrance from which thick black smoke billowed into the afternoon air.
"No enemies on site, sir. We've missed them. Signs of a battle. Some kind of facility hidden in the mountain stormed by what I assume to be the White Fang."
"You assume, Winter?"
Winter kicked at a discarded, Grimm mask. "Hard not to, sir."
"Our records show no facility in the area. Whatever it is, it's not ours. Any sign of whose it is or what it's about? One of Watts' old labs, perhaps?"
The renegade who had been exiled and allegedly killed for his dangerous research. Winter knew of him and had even heard about abandoned labs found here or there. This one certainly hadn't been abandoned. Once they had the smoke cleared and could send drones down into the facility, they could find out more, but for now it was a waiting game and scouring the outside for clues. They'd reacted as soon as the smoke was reported, but by the time the aircraft arrived, the attackers were long gone.
"I don't think so, sir. This place was clearly still active."
"Run by whom, then? I struggle to believe something like this could exist on our doorstep and go unnoticed. I'd have thought it a White Fang base. Perhaps it is and this is there retreat, destroying any evidence left behind."
Winter was about to offer her thoughts when one of the Specialists approached with something in hand. The woman looked stern and displeased; a reaction Winter mirrored as the Specialist handed her what appeared to be a charred and discarded helmet. There was a bullet hole in the side of it and a dusting of blood that suggested the owner wouldn't be needing it anymore.
Turning it over in her hands, Winter found the back and let out a quiet curse. Not quiet enough that it wasn't caught, however.
"Winter. What have you found?"
"You're not going to like this, sir."
"I don't like any of this already, Specialist." General Ironwood sounded as upset as she felt. "Show me. White Fang? Grimm? Some other enemy of the Kingdom?"
Winter pressed a button to cause the small headset to project the feed live to Ironwood's terminal. Holding the helmet between both hands, she angled it so that he could clearly see the logo emblazoned proudly on the back. The iron cog and the upward staff that marked the insignia of Atlas. More specifically, an Atlesian Soldier's helmet. Standard - and current - uniform of their military forces.
More specifically, of the Atlas Specialists. Her own unit.
"It's one of ours, sir. The facility belongs to Atlas."
The main points of view for this story are going to split between Jaune and Ironwood, with Ironwood being a major character in this story. We're going to have dual protagonists for this. Jaune on his quest to find his family and Ironwood on his own quest to discover what is going on in his Kingdom and stop a boy from descending so far he can't be saved.
People always say I bash and hate Ironwood but I genuinely love his character. I love that RWBY finally gave us a character who can be both good guy and bad guy at the same time, and who has more shades of grey than the usual "I'm pure evil" or "I'm pure good" of the main cast and evil cast. General Ironwood is just a guy with a responsibility, doing his best to look after his people.
Next Chapter: 10th February
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur