The walk back to his room was done in silence. Neither Adam nor Qrow spoke and Beacon's grounds were quiet. Visitors had all gone home by this time and any students were likely back at their dorms. It all felt numb to Adam however.
He'd almost killed a man. A man that somehow knew something about his relationship with Blake. That knowledge would be beyond his reach now.
Adam sighed as they neared his room. Six Atlesian Knights were arranged around the door, on guard. Their optics followed him as he made his way into his room. They weren't exactly a threat, but the destruction of even one would bring down the full might of Atlas.
The door clicked as he unlocked it. As he pushed it open a pair of hands reached through the opening and grabbed him. He yelped as Yang pulled him into the room before shoving him into the middle and he was surrounded by his team. Qrow squeezed in just before Yang slammed the door shut. Ruby and Weiss sat down on Weiss' bed. Yang turned on Adam. "Explain. Now."
Adam adjusted his jacket. "I… I don't exactly know what happened." He wandered over to his bed and sat down on it. "I saw Mercury try to attack me after the fight, at least I think I did. First with a gun and then with Dust. I blocked the first but attacked the second. I was… afraid. Afraid of what would happen if he used that Dust on me with my Aura so low."
"So you didn't try and maim him after he was out of the match?" Yang asked.
"I didn't." Adam said.
"Whew. I was a little worried there." Yang said with a sigh, plopping herself down next to him.
"You… believe me?"
"Of course. You're our teammate. We believe that you saw what you saw. Right guys?"
"Yeah!" Ruby exclaimed.
"Of course." Weiss said imperiously. "Whether what you saw is accurate or not isn't the issue. You saw things that weren't there and based on what you saw you acted in self-defence. You didn't intend to scar him."
"I… thank you. All of you." Adam said.
"Glad to hear you all getting along." Qrow spoke up. "Now I hate to break it up but we have some ground rules. First off Adam isn't allowed to leave this room. At least until the Festival is over. So no trips to the grounds or the Colosseum or even the cafeteria. The rest of you have to bring his meals." He held up a hand as Ruby and Yang exploded into complaints.
"Look I get it OK!? But this is important, you either abide by these rules or he's thrown in a cell. Second rule is the guys out there. Adam will be under Atlas guard for now. The General wants to make sure nothing happens and guess what? He runs security for the Festival. Final rule, after the festival is over he has to go and see a shrink, so don't worry too much."
Ruby stood. "But that's unfair! Adam just-"
"It doesn't matter." Qrow firmly interrupted. "He assaulted a man. Even if he intended not to, that's what everyone else saw. With his record, we aren't allowed to take chances. If we don't do this then he will be arrested, then his past will be revealed and it'll cause an uproar. And we all know what that'll bring."
"You really think it could be that bad?" Weiss asked.
"I don't know. But we can't take that chance. Ozpin will crack down as hard as he can. Just let him do his magic, and stay out of Ironwood's path. Alright?" The rest of the room nodded hesitantly.
Qrow sighed and deflated. "Just try and enjoy yourselves. Don't worry about the tournament or anything else. Now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do." Qrow left the room.
Yang scoffed. "Work. More like 'I have a bar to get drunk in!'" She said mockingly.
"I'm gonna go get us some food." Ruby said.
"I'll go with you." Weiss volunteered. The pair quickly left the room.
Yang patted his shoulder. Adam took a deep breath. "Yang. Do you have a recording of the fight?"
"You wanna relive that?"
"I want to see how crazy I am."
Yang scanned his expression for a while before she sighed and relented. "Alright. It's all around the net at the moment." She produced her scroll and flipped it to the video and handed it over.
The changes hit him the moment he pressed play. "Hey there! Hope for a good fight!"
"Is that so?"
"Well yeah. That's why I entered! I've heard how strong you are! Do you really take on the Pyrrha Nikos all the time?"
"If I were you, I'd shut my mouth."
"Huh? What did I say?"
He sounded angry for no reason. Adam sucked in a breath through his clenched teeth and continued. The fight was mostly the same as he had seen it. But the strange move Mercury had made never happened. Instead, it was Adam who looked to move erratically. Dodging or moving with a blow that never happened. Mercury was trying to block as many attacks as he could when Adam dodged to the side and went for a long swipe. Easy for him to dodge and to take advantage of.
Beyond that, Adam wondered if there were fewer bolts in the tornado than he had thought, but he hadn't had time to count then. Finally, came the end, where Mercury fell to the floor in defeat. As he picked himself up, congratulating Adam on his victory, Adam blocked nothing and then struck.
It was hard to see the damage done from the video, but Adam didn't really want to know. He did his best to make out what he could, however. The attack had hit him front on. The wave seemed to hit his legs, torso and face the hardest.
Adam silently passed the scroll back. Yang took it without a word. She put it back in her pocket, and then pulled Adam into a hug. They sat there for a few minutes before finally parting.
Adam chose to retire early. He'd had enough of the day.
James was angry. He trusted Ozpin, but this!? Trusting a monster like Taurus is going to be the end of us!
It was why he stepped up security. Ozpin may not like it, but he wasn't in charge of keeping the people safe, not anymore. James was well within his rights to put two dozen more Knights in the Colosseum, several dozen more in Vale and three dozen in Beacon itself. Each joined by normal soldiers and, for Vale and Beacon, a few Paladins.
He would not allow anything bad to happen. Even if Ozpin was going to get in his way.
"So?" Cinder asked, her voice cold.
Mercury winced as he pulled himself into a sitting position. "Well, my legs are fine. They just need some repairs is all." He tried to smile but winced as pain flared. "Sadly my beautiful face is forever marred!" He pointed to his lips. The top lip on the left side had been torn slightly, leaving it almost looking like he was always smirking on that side. Or it would once he healed.
"Is that all?" She asked.
Mercury sighed. "No. There's a larger cut across my chest too. No fighting for me. Doctor's orders." He pointed to the door behind Cinder. Out there was the back alley physician they had brought Mercury to. A favourite of Roman's, or so he had said. The work he performed was well worth the price, she would admit.
"Then I will have to rely on Emerald to finish this. We shall remove you from Vale tomorrow morning. We won't be staying after the Festival… comes to a close." Cinder smiled.
"Yea, yea. Have all the fun without me." Mercury grumbled and lay back on the bed.
"Our Faunus friends shall be by to pick you up. Be prepared for them." Cinder didn't wait for a reply and simply left the building. The cool night air of Vale welcomed her.
I am so close to success. One more day and I will finally claim what is rightfully mine!
The monster tore at Mercury Black, ripping him apart for daring to challenge him. It pulled the legs from his body and threw them to the side, laughing. When it was done nought remained of the silver-haired boy but the blood around its maw. The monster turned to face him.
A beast. An amalgamation of several animals that stood taller than he ever could. Canine legs, the claws of a bear, the head of a lion with a pair of massive horns. A massive beast of black and red fur, with glowing red eyes that peered into his soul.
Hunger. It spoke with a deep, gravely voice. I hunger.
"No! Go away!"
I hunger for death. Slaughter all in our path. Kill! Kill! Kill! It began to chant, looking more and more excited.
Around him he could see copies of himself, killing humans. Hundreds, perhaps thousands. All of them deserved it.
"No!" He cried out, clutching his skull.
She agreed. Why fight your nature?
"It isn't my nature!"
You enjoyed it. You defaulted to it. You are a monster! A beast! Embrace it like you did before!
"No! I'm no beast!"
And yet when she disagreed with you, when she desired to fight and kill, you thought violence was the answer to bringing her to your side!
"I rejected that!"
Did you? Or did you simply say that? If she came right now, what would you do?
"I… I don't know…"
The beast laughed. Then you have no hope of changing anything.
You are just another beast.
Adam awoke, shooting up in his bed his eyes wide awake and frantically darting around the room. He wiped the sweat from his brow. He quietly pulled himself off his bed and sat down at his desk.
He felt… exhausted. That dream had drained him of his energy. It wasn't the only thing of course. The fight and its aftermath had wrecked him. He had not only seen things that weren't there, but imagined a conversation that hadn't happened.
What is wrong with me? He had no idea anymore. Had he become so obsessed with Blake that he couldn't even see reality any more? Or… had someone interfered? If there was someone who had a Semblance that could manipulate a person's senses…
But why would someone do that? Make him maim another student just to get him disqualified? Adam couldn't think of a motive. Maybe Blake wanted to make humans hate him enough that he would leave and join her again, but nobody in the White Fang had a Semblance like this. Not that he had ever heard before anyway.
No, it couldn't have been someone manipulating him. He had done it. He had to suffer the consequences.
The dream did give him one good thing he supposed. It confirmed that he didn't have an answer yet. He didn't know how he should deal with Blake and until he did, could he really change anything?
Hours later the sun dawned and the others awoke, but he still didn't have an answer.
"We're being watched." Weiss whispered. Yang growled in response and just kept marching forward. The pair had decided to be the ones to bring breakfast for the day, leaving Ruby to try and cheer Adam up.
Yang is letting her emotions control her. Weiss thought. This isn't the time to be getting worked up! Weiss sighed.
Her eye twitched when they rounded the corner and saw Winter waiting at the cafeteria. Her sister quickly noticed them and began walking over. Yang growled in response again. Winter ignored her, however.
"Weiss. We have a… problem."
"Oh really?" Weiss asked with a bored drawl, folding her arms.
"Yes. Father is here."
"What!?" Weiss' eyes widened.
"Yes. He arrived an hour ago. He is… well… here." Winter handed over her scroll, a news article open on the screen.
Weiss read it aloud for Yang. "Jacques Schnee arrives in Vale, hoping to congratulate his daughter, Weiss Schnee, on her victories in the Vytal Festival Tournament while checking on his Vale holdings. However, with the recent developments in regards to the disqualification of his daughter's team, Mr Schnee seems less than pleased. The Dust magnate appears to be preparing to battle Beacon over the placement of the Faunus teammate, who readers may recall was the perpetrator in an attack on- ugh. This is idiotic." Weiss scowled and handed it back to her sister. "Did you know he was coming?"
"No. I didn't think he would come. At least not so soon. He must have been on his way before your teammate-" Winter halted at Weiss and Yang's glares. "He must have already been coming before yesterday's events."
"Great. More trouble." Yang groaned.
"It does appear that he left Whitley back in Atlas, however." Winter said.
Weiss sighed. "Thank the Gods for small mercies." She muttered under her breath, Yang just looked confused. "If you'll excuse us, we need to pick up some breakfast for our teammates."
"Of course Weiss. Just be careful. Of Father and your… friend."
They ignored her and entered the cafeteria. Yang put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. Weiss returned the gesture. Father. I will fight you if you try to get rid of Adam! I won't allow you, or anyone else to ruin what I have!
The crowds piled into Amity Colosseum once again. Weiss and Yang had both stayed behind, not very enthused about going to watch the final matches. Ruby, however, thought that at least one of them had to go and watch. They had friends to cheer on after all!
As she struggled to find a good seat, the announcers called the first match. "And for our first match of the day, we have Pyrrha Nikos of Beacon!" Professor Port paused to allow the crowd to go wild. Once they calmed he continued. "Against Penny Polendina of Atlas!"
Oohh! That's an exciting match up! Pyrrha! Master of the sword and shield with the power of magnets! Battling the mighty robot warrior Penny! Who is made of metal…
"Oh no." Ruby looked down in growing horror as her friends met on the field of battle. She swallowed. Did she try and stop the fight? While she wondered what to do, she spotted something that shouldn't be there.
Or more accurately someone.
Isn't that Mercury's teammate? Why is she here? I thought they'd already gone back to Mistral…
Ruby started to push her way through the crowds. Something was going on, and she was going to get to the bottom of it.
A/N: If there is one thing that is truly better for everybody than canon's events, is that everyone believes Adam believes what he saw, whereas obviously, Blake didn't trust Yang. Not quite a big dramatic thing, but everyone's still kind of processing. Too bad Cinder won't give them a chance eh? Mercury's injuries are bad, but not super bad. Scarring but survivable. Face and chest marred and his legs damaged. And we end off with Ruby realising that something bad might happen. Ahh, fun.
Hope you enjoyed and I'll see you next time!