"We're getting close," Adam whispered as the boat passed by a series of mountain-like peaks jutting from the ocean. "Won't be long now."
"Quick question. Are humans even allowed on Menagerie?" Neptune asked, voice worried and anxious.
"Yes, though aside from trader's and sailor's there aren't that many. Just act like you belong and don't do anything stupid and nobody will give you trouble."
"Right. Okay." Neptune responded. Adam rolled his eyes. The blue-haired teen was stood far from the edge of the boat, avoiding the water at all costs. The rest of his team was spread around the area, relaxing while they had a chance. Neptune shuffled away, mumbling to himself about staying inside for the rest of the trip.
Adam spent most of the afternoon daydreaming and watching the ocean pass by, rubbing his hands together through his gloves, while SSSN had fun. At some point in the later afternoon, as the sky and sea were bathed in reddish-gold light, an older man approached him to lean against the railing as well.
"She's beautiful, ain't she?" The older man spoke.
"The ocean? Yes."
"Heh. So you aren't blind then." Adam stiffened at the words but the man just laughed it off. "I've been around a long time. Been a sailor for most of it. To tell the truth I find the ocean more stunning the further south you go, the shade of blue is breathtaking. I suspect it's something to do with Menagerie and it's Shallow Sea, but I don't really care about the why. Just the view."
"Is that why you sail down this way?"
"Yup. I make the journey to Menagerie often, just for the view. Well, and to give people a hand." The man, who Adam now recognised as the captain, shrugged. "Probably a bit of habit in there as well." He laughed for a moment, stopping once he realised Adam hadn't. He coughed a little awkwardly.
Adam was about to reply but halted himself. The water had begun to churn unnaturally. His eyes narrowed in suspicion before widening as the boat bucked to the side, pushed as a massive serpentine Grimm burst from beneath the waves. The Sea Feilong let out a roar, towering above the boat and stretching out its long bat-like wings. As they began to beat the beast was pulled from the water, flying above the boat.
"Get inside," Adam said, hand falling to his waist to unclip Blush as he dashed forward. The Grimm roared once more and then slammed down onto the front deck, shattering the wood but thankfully not damaging the structure of the ship. It noticed him a moment later and reared back. Golden light gathered in its mouth. As it's maw began to part, lightning-sparked as it prepared to fire. A ball of blue lightning crashed into its face, forcing it to send it's beam far out to sea.
Adam looked back to see Neptune standing on the upper level, shaking slightly as he fired his weapon again. Within moments the rest of SSSN came running to help. Neptune was the only one with long-ranged attacks substantial enough to do any damage to their foe, leaving the rest of them to figure out how to kill the beast. A voice came out over the speakers as the beast recoiled from another blast to the snout. "If you can keep still we can kill it!" The captain said as a heavy gun emplacement came up from below deck on an elevator.
"Sun! We need to clip the wings!" Adam shouted.
"Right! Uh. I don't have a sword!" Sun replied.
"Then we need to get someone who does up there!" Adam rolled his eyes. "Scarlett or Sage. I'll run defence." Hopefully, I can withstand its attacks.
"Oh, I got an idea! Scarlett! I'll throw you!" Sun ran over to his teammate. The pirate looked worried as he and Sun figured out their plan. Sun ran forward and summoned several clones. Together they flung Scarlett high up into the air. As the pirate flew high the Grimm turned with its attack ready. It ignored Neptune's next shot, tanking it just so it could deal damage to its enemy.
The energy gathered and quickly released. A beam of golden light lanced down at the boat. Adam jumped in front of it, Wilt slightly unsheathed. He took the brunt of the attack directly on his blade. Lightning scoured through his body and he let out a scream of pain.
His voice was joined by the Grimm's screams of pain as Scarlett, gliding around like a bird, used his scimitar to cut a large tear through the leathery wings. The beast collapsed, no longer able to keep itself aloft.
The prow of the ship skewered it a moment later. The cannon let loose a deafening bang it fired, incinerating the head of the Sea Feilong. Scarlett lazily glided back to the deck.
That wasn't so bad… Adam thought as he collapsed to one knee, his body weak from being electrocuted by what was probably several thousand volts of electricity. It was almost too much energy for him to contain. He clutched his head as it swam.
He let himself fall into unconsciousness.
A day passed and Adam felt better, especially once he released the excess energy still in his system out into the ocean. It was good too, because it was the day they arrived at Menagerie.
The entirety of his tagalong team made sounds of awe at the sight of the town. Adam rolled his eyes as he led them from the docks and into the town proper. They passed by the water-side market, built atop the Shallow Sea to allow the water-bound Faunus a chance to interact with the other villagers. SSSN continued to mutter to each other in awe as they walked through the town.
People moved out of their way quickly and it wasn't hard to figure out why. Three humans and a Faunus gawking at everything while they followed Adam Taurus down the road. They were definitely a sight to be seen. Ugh. I wish I could get there faster. He felt out of place with all the eyes on him. It felt… off.
"So which house is theirs?" Sun asked innocently.
"That one." Adam pointed to the manor in the centre of town.
"..." Sun let out a low whistle. "They're rich!? Or… or royalty!?"
"Ghira is the chieftain. He's respected and acts as the leader of town. He was the former leader of the White Fang. Back then they just protested. We just protested." He corrected himself with a sigh.
"Your girlfriend is royalty!" Sun exclaimed. Adam's eyes twitched.
"No. She isn't either of those things." He replied through gritted teeth.
"Oh. Right. Uhhhh." Sun winced.
Adam shook his head. "Let's just keep moving."
Adam grew more nervous as they got closer to the manor, his throat felt like it was blocked and a pit had opened in his stomach. Dread had filled his being and was getting stronger the closer he got. The building seemed to loom over him, looking like it was taller than it truly was.
He took a deep breath as he walked to the door. His hand shook slightly as he reached out, grabbed the door knocker and knocked hard.
A couple moments passed before it slowly opened, revealing Kali Belladonna. At first, she seemed mildly interested at who could be at the door. Then her expression morphed, changing from interest to confusion to annoyance and anger.
"Adam Taurus. What are you doing here?" She growled. Her eyes passed over him to the people behind him. An eyebrow raised.
"To apologize and ask for your help."
Her eyebrows shot up at that, her eyes scanning his face. A voice called from deeper in the house, making Adam flinch. "Kali? Who is it?" Ghira asked as he turned into the hallway. His eyes widened in shock before narrowing in hate. "Taurus." He growled, voice rumbling with disdain.
Adam didn't respond for a moment, his mind racing with thoughts on what to say. Ghira walked forward, hand reaching out for the door. Kali held up a hand, however. Ghira and Adam stared at her, confused.
"You said you wanted to apologize?" Kali asked. Ghira stopped in his tracks.
"Y-yes. I did. May we come inside? I want to explain everything."
"Kali!?" Ghira asked incredulously.
"I think we should hear him out at least. We can hand him over to the guards later if his apology isn't good enough." Adam gulped as Ghira nodded in agreement.
They pulled the door further open and welcomed him into the house once again. It felt very different compared to the last time he'd been here. It was a lot tenser for one.
He took in a deep breath, and entered.
Ghira glared at him from across the low table, not even bothering to drink the tea Kali had prepared. SSSN sat awkwardly around Adam, cups in hand and trying to appear as non-threatening as possible. Adam took a long sip of his drink and sighed as he placed it back onto the table.
"I'm not entirely sure where to begin. So I suppose I should start at the beginning." Adam took a deep breath and started. "I'm sorry. I'm so very very sorry for everything. I'm sorry for undermining you and supporting Sienna Khan. I'm sorry for helping depose you. I'm sorry for manipulating Blake into staying as we became monsters! I'm sorry for dragging her down to my level! For letting my hate and spite corrupt her into a bloodthirsty terrorist! I'm so sorry for not realising what I had done until it was too late!"
Adam panted, like he'd been running. It felt like a weight had been lessened. Not gone, however. Ghira and Kali waited for a long moment, scanning his face and body to see if he was lying. Eventually, Kali sighed. "I think he's being honest."
Ghira scoffed. "So what? He still did it."
"I left the White Fang. Once I realized what we'd become I left. I ran away. I joined Beacon in the hope of making up for what I've done. But I now know that until I help Blake I won't be able to move past it. I can't move on without helping her. But I'm not strong enough. I need you to help me help her!"
Ghira grumbled and sculled his tea. Kali sighed. "I don't think there is much we can do. She didn't listen to us before, I don't see her listening now." She held up a hand as he made to speak. "Don't think that means we are going to sit by and do nothing! She is our daughter. We will do whatever it takes to bring back the girl we raised. Even if that means working with you."
"Thank you!" Adam said, bowing his head.
"We aren't doing this for you!" Ghira growled. "We're doing this for Blake. We won't ever forgive you."
"I won't ask you to. I just want to make up for my mistakes and help Blake realize you were right, violence isn't how we make things better."
The sound of knocking made them all jump. Ghira sighed and left the room to check on the door. Kali leaned over and gave Adam's shoulder a pat. "I believe you. I believe you can change for the better Adam. Just remember that it's hard for us to trust you. The last time we saw you, you'd convinced our daughter to become a terrorist."
"I know. I want to make up for that. I want to bring her back." He said, rubbing his hands together.
"Prove it to us. Show us how you've changed, how your time at Beacon has changed you."
"Just tell me what to do to show you."
"If you don't like the White Fang being terrorists, then help us get them off of Menagerie. Too many are recruited here."
"We can do that." Adam replied with conviction.
"Yeah, we can totally do that!" Sun added, he paused for a moment and leaned over to Neptune and whisper in his ear loudly. "How can we do that, by the way?" He asked. Scarlett facepalmed.
Kali chuckled and sat back with a smirk. "Show the people of Menagerie why violence will only make things worse. You can do that, right Adam?"
"I will." Adam said with a nod.
Ghira returned a moment later. "Corsac and Fennic were here. They know you've arrived, Adam."
"That's fine." He said, standing. "You four came to help, so let's get to work. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it."
Team SSSN stood up, surrounding him. Now is the time. I'll show why they should help me, and I have just the idea. He looked around at the people with him. Three Humans. Three Faunus. I can work with this.
Weeks of trudging through the rough forests of Mistral had left the newly titled 'Team RNJR' exhausted. Ruby wasn't sure how long they had left to go before they reached the capital city. They'd passed through plenty of towns and done lots of work but still, it felt like they were never going to get to Mistral.
It hadn't helped finding the only known airship of the area destroyed along with Shion village. It was a harsh reminder that the world wasn't as simple as fairy tales made it out to be.
The Power of Friendship sadly failed to save the lives of many.
If only this was like the books. It'd be so much easier. Ruby complained to herself.
At least the next town looked inhabited.
"Here we go. You got a package too." Taiyang said with a smile as he placed a box down on the coffee table.
Yang quirked a brow up in confusion. I didn't order anything… she pulled open the box and her breath hitched. A gleaming metal arm stared up at her. A full arm, from hand to shoulder. It looked like a perfect fit, like a perfect metal version of her arm.
Tai looked on with a hopeful smile. Yang internally cringed. "Thanks, dad…"
"General Ironwood sent it. A reward for all your hard work fighting to protect Beacon and the people there. It's top of the line, latest technology!"
"Thank you… I'll uh… I'll put it on later if that's okay?" She asked, looking up at her father with sad eyes. His smile faded and he nodded slowly.
"O-okay. Sure. I'll go put the rest of this stuff away." He walked off with the rest of his groceries.
Yang put the lid back on and carried the box back to the guest room. It was too hard, trying to sleep in her old room. She'd shared it with Ruby.
Who had abandoned her. Just like Adam. Just like Raven. All of them had left her. All but Pyrrha, who had stayed because she was also wounded. And yet she came around every weekend to check up on her.
They don't have faith that I'll recover on my own. I don't need a fake arm! She growled and almost threw the box away but sighed and placed it on her bedside table. I won't use it. I won't wear it. I can't just replace my arm with a hunk of metal and move on!.
Yang left it there and returned downstairs. She had some boring TV to watch.
Weiss sighed as her maids left her dressing room, having finished preparing her for the charity event. In just a few minutes she'd be singing in front of a fully packed stadium and then acting as an obedient daughter, standing around and hanging off of her father's every word like the other sycophants.
It was mind-numbing. It was obnoxious and she hated every moment of it. My singing is just another one of his tools these days. She felt helpless.
She had no friends, no allies. She had nothing that was her own in Atlas. Just her terrible family. I heard Winter is in Mistral. If I could escape I could go there. She'd help me. The operative word was escape. She had to be able to escape for any of that to occur.
Escape was difficult. Jacques Schnee was one of the world's most powerful men. How was she supposed to get away from him?
A knock on the door broke her out of her thoughts. It was showtime. Time to perform once more for the benefit of her father. She stood and made her way out. It was time to be his slave once again.
Hopefully for the last time.
A/N: Apologies for the delay, my computer decided it was a great time to have an error and took about 12 hours to fix itself. I blame this horrid heat wave we just got. Ugh. Anyway, Adam finally arrives, after a short fight with the Sea Feilong, and has his conversation with Ghira and Kali. They aren't fans of him. Who'd have thought?
I hope you all enjoyed and I'll see you next time!
Update!: No chapter next week due to continuing computer issues. Be fine after that.