Just a note, to fix some continuity stuff, the last chapter's scene with Iris, Jay, and Jaune didn't take place in the morning, it took place at night. Just changed around some words to make it like that, so you don't need to read it again if you don't want to.
Some shilling for my Discord here. Blah blah we play games alot come join in and hang in VC when there are people in, we're pretty friendly. DnD is uh, coming along? Join the server anyways, we're chill and we joke around with each other alot, so uh…
Dunno join the server.
discord gg/8gbF2TJ (Link in profile if you want to copy paste).
Onto the story.
Chapter 25: Fact Finding
"Control, Control, this is Watchman 3, flash, flash, flash. Huntress spotted in sector Zulu-Delta-three-niner. Description to follow, break," Ivers said in a normal volume. It'd taken a while, but he'd finally gotten used to his hi-tech mask and all it entailed.
Ivers pressed back down on the transmit button, and proceeded to describe everything he saw. Verda had his long rifle out in front of him, aimed through the loophole they had knocked out in the concrete wall. Ivers had moved his spotting scope down from the less covered, but more advantageous position, to a similar loophole to the one Verda used. As constrictive it was, it was a small price to pay for the concealment it offered.
"Watchman 3, this is Control. Confirm, single Huntress?"
"Affirmative, single Huntress and a dog. Looks like she's taking it out for a piss, over."
A pause, "Continue to observe and report. Tracker Minor is en route. Keep eyes on until they get there, over."
Ivers responded, "Wilco, out."
"Observe and report huh? Shit, remember when we did this all the time?" Verda slowly shifted his rifle, which he knew held a bead exactly on the Huntress' head. "Now that was fun, being all stealthy and shit, infiltrating places and slitting throats for money. Real mercenary shit, unlike whatever the fuck Striker Group has."
Ivers tapped a few times on his wrist display, zooming in on the girl in the center of his scope, "Is it just me or do you remember her from somewhere?"
"Actually… isn't that one of the girls that beat the shit out of Torchwick?"
"Fuck, I think so."
Verda turned to look at him, flat mask looking him up and down, "Should we call it in?"
"Bitch, the XO's Control tonight. He sure as shit doesn't know about us saving Torchwick's dumbass. We'll tell Arberwood and Chief after we get relieved tonight because it's not relevant right now."
He just shook his head, returning his focus to the projected image in front of him. The dog had just finished its business on a lamppost, and the Huntress was blearily blinking her eyes, beckoning the dog towards her. Despite her apparent tiredness, she made frequent checks around her, and Ivers wouldn't have been surprised if she was battle ready at that moment.
"Control," Ivers moved slowly to begin disassembling the scope in front of him. "This is Watcher 3. Request ETA on Tracker Minor, over."
A slightly irritated voice came back, "They're five minutes out. Drones are retasking, but it'll take a hot second, over."
"Roger. Target is mobile. We're moving to follow, out," Ivers shoved the spotting scope into a small black drawstring, before stowing that inside his assault pack. "C'mon, Verda. Let's get going before we lose her."
Verda folded up his bipod and hefted up his rifle, following Ivers across the concrete cast floor towards the stairs, "We using our stealth cloaks yet or naw?"
"Save it," he sprinted down the stairs, taking two or three steps at a time. "We'll need every last bit of the batteries. Shit runs out too quick."
"Hey," Verda leapt down the stairs, vaulting off the side of the flight onto the one below, landing right next to him. "She has a dog. You remember to mask your scent?"
He continued sprinting down the stairs, eventually reaching the bottom floor, "Not effectively enough for a dog, but we'll just keep our distance and downwind because that mutt sure as fuck doesn't look like a tracking dog."
Ivers reached the last door, taking a knee as Verda scampered up to him, "Activate stealth now."
With a press of a button, they disappeared from sight.
Even after all of the times he used it, it never ceased to amaze him what technology could do.
How any of this was possible?
Some dust bullshit likely.
It didn't take even half a minute to find the girl and her dog again. A corgi, if his memory didn't fail him. The two of them slinked along the side of the buildings, staying in the deep recesses of shadows while slowly trailing the Huntress a few blocks ahead of them.
"Shit, this is easy," Ivers laughed, trudging along in the debris, carefully to step only in the clear areas. Normally, they'd be silent, but the mask sure as hell was handy. Its sound suppression was good. Not perfect, but good enough that nobody could hear someone wearing the mask unless they were shouting and the listener was within a metre.
"Shut the fuck up, Ivers. You're going to jinx us." a pause. "Too late for that anyways. You probably already did."
"Watcher 3, this is Control," his headset actuated. "Drone is on station, and Tracker Minor is nearly there. Continue a loose follow but you're okay if you let her out of your sight, over."
Ivers took a knee behind a pillar, motioning for Verda to do the same, "Wilco Control, over."
"Happy hunting- wait, shit. Watcher 3, wait one."
He threw a glance behind him, which was only met with a shrug.
The headset actuated again, "Watcher 3, we've picked up two unknown thermal signatures from the drone, we're marking it on your HUD times now. White Fang by the looks of it, unknown what they're doing out so far. They're going to be in the path of the Huntress, break."
Ivers glanced down at the cloak that shrouded him, the invisibility rippling and stuttering, intermittently warping the air around him. Really? Now was the time it'd start into its little bout of issues? Ivers tapped his chest ineffectually. The cloaking was still there, but less so than before.
Control continued on, "Try to get to them and get them out of sight before the Huntress sees them. ROE stands. Preserve our hidden status here if it means taking out the Huntress. Last resort, though, over."
Ivers pressed himself against a concrete wall, watching the Huntress continue down the road getting ever closer towards the moving marker that denoted the White Fang on his HUD, which likewise moved perpendicular to them. "I'm assuming we don't have radio contact?"
"Negative. Do your best, out."
"Thanks, Control," he grumbled, not transmitting on the net. "Verda, we need to pass right by the Huntress, and my invisibility is malfunctioning like a mother fucker."
Verda hefted something in his hand, "Hey, get as close as you can, and I'll distract the bitch. I'll follow if I can."
"With a rock?" Ivers glanced down at Verda's hands.
A shrug, "Just get in position, dipshit."
Ivers didn't respond to that jab, just rounding the corner and taking careful steps in the shadowed part of the buildings, as to not disturb the rubble around him. He continued like this until he got nearly right on top of the Huntress, not even five metres behind her.
Verda, if you fail this, I'm going to rip your spine out.
Making sure his external speaker was off, and speaking as quietly as possible—a small part of him still didn't trust the mask enough—he transmitted, "Whatever bullshit you're going to pull, do it now."
The dog next to her peaked its ears up.
It spun around, nose up towards the air, clearly searching for something, him. Ivers stopped, carefully, and very slowly moved his hand down to his thigh, where he knew Magic Cannon was.
Dog, if you compromise me, I swear, the first thing I'll shoot is you.
The Huntress glanced down at the animal, quirking an eyebrow as the dog confusedly turned all around them, "Zwei, you smell something? Is it Grimm? Please don't tell me it's Grimm, then I'll have to explain to everyone why I was out fighting Grimm."
His hand tightened around Magic Cannon's grip, ready to whip it out and blow both of them away. More than likely, it'd take a few shots to put her down. Maybe Roman would want her alive, to gloat or something before he finished her off. Wouldn't be too difficult with both him and Verda here anyways. His invisibility rippled again, just as the Huntress began to look over at him.
Her eyes squinted.
Magic Cannon was already out of its holster.
Patter patter patter.
The sound of a rock bouncing around on the ground immediately caught both their target's attention, just in time for Ivers to silently sprint past, making an effort to make his footfalls as soft as possible.
Evidently, it didn't quite work, seeing as they immediately snapped to the rapid footfalls behind them.
"Zwei," the huntress said, head scanning around as she rested a hand on her weapon. "What was that?"
Ivers ducked into the side street, where the White Fang would be. Verda was close behind, his HUD marker just around the corner. Two White Fang grunts were just up ahead, pressed against the side of the buildings. It wouldn't be enough to fool the Huntress, because it sure wasn't enough to fool him. He was on them in seconds, pulling both of them—one female, one male—through the gaping hole in the crumbling wall next to them, shoving both to the ground.
A pair of wide eyes stared up at him, Iver's hand clamped now firmly on both their mouths. His legs shifted to firmly seat himself on top of the Faunus beneath him, the stealth technology flickering like a computer glitch. With his other hand, he put a finger to where his mouth would've been in the universal sign for silence, and actuated his external speakers.
The White Fang grunt beneath him nodded slowly, wide eyes even visible beneath his mask. Beside him, the grunt's companion was forced back down to the ground by an invisible force, which his HUD highlighted at Verda. The grunt beneath him had stopped struggling, and Verda's stopped soon after a quiet sound emitted from Verda's own speaker.
Outside, the patter of footsteps grew closer and closer to their hiding spot.
"Hello? Anybody there?" said the brat, the oversized gardening tool she carried making audible swooshes through the air as she swung it around.
Really? After all of this, they'd be found out?
Ivers readied Magic Cannon, aiming through a crack in the wall, "Verda, get ready."
Verda's grey cloak, highlighted on his HUD, swept across his shoulders as he brought up his own gun, "Like you need to tell me that."
There was a sudden pause in the footsteps, then a gasp, "Grimm!"
Then all he heard was mechanical noises and the growls of the accursed creatures of darkness, gunfire, and the sounds of metal slicing through flesh.
Ivers sagged to the ground in relief, but still kept his hand cannon trained on the wall opening.
The two Sabyr Brigade Hunters looked between each other, their grey cloaks flicking in between immaterial and visibility, before finally stopping, remaining visible.
"Shit," Verda patted himself down, glaring at the White Fang. "Invisibility shorted itself out. Fucking White Fang. What were you guys doing out here?" his speaker only actuated on the last part, and even then, quietly.
The female grunt spluttered, "Um-"
"Verda, look at them. What do you think they were doing?" he gestured to the both of them. Both were panting, clothes bedraggled and faces red in embarrassment. Ivers could even see the marks of… passion on both of them.
"Right. They got horny."
Ivers sighed, and shook his head, "Control, what's the status on Tracker Minor? Over."
A new voice came on the net, "This is Tracker Minor, we're here and got the target. Kinda hard to miss her now."
"Thanks. She's got a dog, so keep your distance."
"Will do," a chuckle. "Finally got a thanks from you two, eh? Well, take the two unknowns back to base. Watcher 4's relieved your position already. We'll take it from here."
Control sharply cut in, annoyance audible to even the most unaware person, "Tracker Minor, this is Control, shut it. Watcher 3, RTB with the unknowns and we'll debrief there, over."
Ivers pulled one of the Fang grunts up, glaring at the Faunus even though he knew they couldn't see his face, "You nearly fucking compromised us."
Before either of them could respond, Verda walked up, flipping around a large knife, "Hey, look on the bright side, Ivers. Since these two chucklefucks broke the rules and went out in the city unauthorized when we clearly said nobody but us was allowed out, that means I get practice with this baby!" Verda caught the knife, gently tracing a line on the chin of the grunt with the tip. "I've been meaning to try out some stuff with it, y'know. It'll be fun."
"Fun, sure," Ivers rolled his eyes. "C'mon, let's get going before some more Huntresses show up. Wouldn't want to accidentally shoot these two in the chaos."
"In my case, accidental stabbing."
The two Sabyr Brigade Hunters laughed.
The two White Fang Grunts shivered.
/ - /
"Fuck you, miniature making isn't nerdy," Thistle stretched up his arms, leaning back and forth in easy movements.
"Yes it is, you dumbass," Vi rolled her eyes, lightly punching him in the side as they walked along the mildly busy street. Storefronts lined their left, while open space stood on their right.
Thistle rolled his eyes, moving out of the way of another passerby, "Sure, maybe it's nerdy, but at least I have a hobby, unlike you.
"I-I do!" she spluttered. "Like uh..."
A pregnant pause.
"Exactly, you don't!" he gave a cackle, slapping her on the back.
Vi huffed, crossing her arms indignantly, "Well, excuse me if not everyone is as privileged to grow up in a wealthy and caring family that lets them do whatever."
Thistle flinched at the mention of privilege, though Vi didn't notice.
"Well, sorry that I was born in a wealthy, affluent, upper-class family," he said with a touch more malice than usual. "Wasn't my choice that I didn't crawl my way up from the bottom."
If Vi noticed the bitterness, she didn't let on, "Yeah, wasn't my choice to get tossed onto the streets." she spun around idly as she walked, "Hey, look, us two of completely different backgrounds hanging out together. Ain't that a way to defy class?"
He shot her the stink eye, "Vi, you flip flop between either sounding smarter than Finch or being absolutely retarded half the time. Add onto that all the entirely uninteresting things you have going on in your life besides work, which, I remind you, entirely consist of either trying to be a criminal, or needs a large group of people which only leaves you the option to sleep most of the time."
"Jeez, who shoved a stick up your ass?" Vi rolled her eyes up at him as they walked. "And I'll find a damn hobby, and then you won't have anything else to make fun of me for."
"Don't. Don't you fucking say it or I'll bash your skull in."
Thistle laughed harshly, where he'd usually tactfully change the subject, he decided on something else, "Oh look at me? A woman that cant'-"
"Fuck you!" Vi sprang forward, looping her arm around his neck in an attempt to choke him out.
"Argh!" Thistle's eyes darted around before he very quickly pointed to someplace else, "Hey look! The restaurant!"
Thistle drew her eyes over to a freestanding restaurant that sat in its own lot, even having its own parking lot in the suburban neighbourhood. A modest place, the only real extravagant part the towering sign that proudly displayed the restaurant's name, Rabbit's Foot. Ironic, considering that their suspicions were that this was a money laundering scheme for the White Fang.
Both of them stopped on the adjoining sidewalk, looking over at the massive restaurant.
"Pretty bold of them to do stuff out of that," Vi commented, taking in the two-storey building as she released her chokehold.
"Well, partner," Thistle started towards the entrance, hands shoved in his pockets. "Extra money coming in and out is less suspicious here than a smaller place."
"This'll be the third one today, right? Hope this one actually has something."
"Me too, so you digging around and being suspicious isn't all for nothing."
Criminals and terrorists alike needed funding, and that funding typically came from less than legal methods, and so they needed to clean that money to make it usable somehow, because money gained illegally would only get them caught, much to their misfortune. Cedric got a tip from an apparent source of his—Thistle personally had tagged him as a more direct action type of guy, not so much the network creation type, but he shrugged it off—that the Rabbit's Foot was a money laundering operation for the White Fang.
"Hey, look around, eat some stuff and see if they got some back offices or something. I don't expect you to find anything solid, or anything at all, but Vale's cell is a whole lot less versed in these operations than the more radical wings. But just so you remember, your number one priority is to remain undercover. I really don't fucking need a running gun battle in the middle of Vale, yeah?"
Vi ran to catch up to him, "How are we gonna do this?"
"I was thinking pulling up in the Laserbeam and blasting the place with the twenty-five's was a good idea," Thistle tilted his head back and forth. "But apparently Cedric doesn't want undue collateral, so we'll just have to do this real sneaky like."
"You're not very good at stealth," they both stopped just outside the dual glass doors.
Thistle scratched his chin, "Neither are you. How 'bout this: you go in and check out all the fancy food that your poor fucking street urchin ass couldn't afford, and I take my 'privileged' dumbass to go dumpster diving for anything interesting around the back. Switch our roles around for this one. Deal?"
"Absolutely wonderful," Vi grinned, bowing in mock respect. "You gonna pay for me?"
Thistle was already headed around the back of the building, "No, because you have money."
She stuck her tongue out, before just shaking her head in disappointment, "Asshole..."
With that, she pushed the pair of glass doors and entered the bright and rich interior.
/ - /
Solo surveillance was always interesting.
Interesting being the keyword. Not fun, not safe, not easy. The only thing Jay was assured would happen was that it'd be interesting.
Something would always pop up, something would always happen, something to make something which he desperately wanted to be uninteresting, interesting.
Jay was still waiting for that to happen, nursing the gin and tonic at the counter of the most dinged up, beaten up bar he'd ever been to. There was one that was more, but that was only because of an attack by the police.
His target stayed in the well lit part of the bar, rejoicing and socializing with a few other Faunus around the circular tables laid out on the floor. Beer spilled, and glasses were raised, they pranced around like children. The mood was shared among the others there, the rough men and women drunkenly dancing around with a positive mood that could surpass even Iris.
Yet, Jay could recognize the tattoos inked onto their arms, their hidden ones peeking out from underneath a shirt, the brazen of them having their gang symbols on their faces, with the smart ones, faces worn and tired, hiding their most identifying ones underneath their clothes.
Not one person in the bar lacked an identifier, whether it was visible or not. Anyone that didn't was either brave as hell, lost, or a police plant, or all of them at once.
It'd been quiet. Jay had tailed the Faunus man for the last few hours, quickly realizing that he didn't have the slightest thought about personal security. No SDR, not even conspicuous tradecraft that they took right out of a movie. It was easy, and that was what unnerved him.
The Faunus wasn't White Fang, no, he was a gang banger. A gang banger heavily associated with the White Fang.
Jay wished he could've had some other people in his team here, but looking around, none but Cedric would've fit in. Only he had any experience working in the kind of neighbourhood the target hung around in, and anyone that looked out of place would've gotten torn apart within seconds.
The streets crawled with them—gang bangers that is—sitting on every street corner blatantly peddling their goods, not a policeman in sight. Turf wars were common, and death even more.
Jay didn't mind it mostly, he was used to the constant staccato of gunfire in the distance, used to the dried blood on the streets. It'd been a long time since it really bothered him.
It just bothered him why the police didn't do anything.
Jay sighed, staring down at the half empty glass in front of him.
It was the bartender, shining a glass, "Somewhat."
"Ain't explain to me why yer' got a gin 'en tonic then."
He cast a tired look up at him, "Waiting on someone."
"Mhm," the bartender cast him a wary look, clearly not buying it. "Yer' been waitin' here for a couple 'o hours. Friend late or somethin'?"
A shrug, "Dunno what to tell you, man. I'll bitch and moan but in the end-"
"I'm here," came the feminine voice behind him, taking a seat on the stool next to him. "Pay up, sucker, because I arrived exactly on time. Two beers on me."
Jay, was to say, completely fucking shocked that something interesting happened on his solo surveillance. He calmly looked over, taking in every single detail about the newcomer that had injected herself into the conversation as he sipped on his drink, "Nice of you to join me."
You've got to be fucking kidding me.
The bartender eyed the two of them, before a chuckle erupted out of his throat, "Yer' have fun. Don't make the lad wait on you next time, eh?"
"Sure," she gave a nod, a sly smile on her face.
Jay guardedly looked her over. Brilliantly blue hair cropped to just above her shoulder, tattoos peeking out from her loose shirt, her baggy and open dull jacket hanging off off her shoulders, while her jeans hugged her legs, worn and ragged. Familiar red eyes stared at him, contempt barely hidden behind the sheen of politeness.
God, why couldn't he just have one solo tail that ended well?
"Been a while, Bluejay," she used his old moniker, searching for a reaction as she picked at his clothing, taking particular note of his jacket. "Nice clothes, where'd you get the money for all of it?"
"Work," his face remained passive, drawing annoyance from her.
"What kind of work?"
"Would you fuck off, Maya?"
A laugh, "Oh can't an old friend catch up? I even saved you from the geezer running the bar. I'm pretty sure he was this close to calling you an undercover cop." a harsher chuckle. "God knows the likeness of that is nil with your background. You'd have ended up in jail faster than I could blink."
He wanted to burst out laughing then, instead, he calmly sipped at his drink, carefully slipping a knife out of his belt and hiding it behind his hand. He made note that there were at least four possible exits in the room, the closest being the front door, "C'mon Maya, I walked away from the gang with your permission. No need to get all in my face with this. Just leave me alone and we can all go on with our day."
"Oh, you did walk away with our permission," Maya growled, sidling her stool closer to him. "Just you walked away with the greatest thing that happened to us since we took over Red Sickle's territory."
He stilled, arm tensing up, "Finch isn't an object."
A wolfish grin appeared, Maya getting up to his face, face inches away from his, "Oh no, he's a moneymaker, and you're going to tell us where the fuck you're keeping him."
A tile of her head and several hardy men started moving around the bar. One by each of the three entrances, with the rest at the table next to them. The only way out not covered was the bartender's exit, and he highly suspected he'd be blasted by his shotgun the man kept under the table if he tried to jump the counter.
New faces though. Interesting.
Nobody else seemed to notice, which was good, because he could still salvage this and continue on with the tail.
"Look, Maya, I don't want this to end in violence-"
"So tell us where the kid is."
"-but I ain't gonna hand him over. That's out of question."
Maya chuckled, then laughed, laughed so much a few patrons looked over and gave him a jealous look as she leant in close, placing a hand on his thigh, "I'm afraid that's not an option, Bluejay."
The cold, metal barrel of a pistol pressed into his side.
/ - /
Nick didn't know how long he'd been in the cell.
The room gave no clue to the time, the sole light the dim light bulb hanging above him, flickering on and off like a decrepit artifact. The barest bit of light lit up the bare concrete walls and shone off the metal table and the steel door in front of him. He was strung up in the middle of the room, chains holding his arms up towards the ceiling, and manacles clamped around his wrists and ankles. Every time he tried to shut his eyes, harsh metal music assaulted his ears, beating against his head like a hammer to a nail.
Long ago had his clothes been replaced with a ragged orange jumpsuit, cold air blowing through his bare skin. His Aura barely helped, the little of it that remained—the result of the man prodding him like a cow when he'd first arrived, draining his aura to beyond nil—the last bit of his consciousness that remained knew that his aura wouldn't come for a while.
God, it was cold. So very cold.
Some dredge of his barely functional head recalled the training he'd gotten from the Atlesian branch of White Fang. That if they were captured, they were likely to face horrors he could never imagine. Cruelties that couldn't be visualized at the hands of sadistic interrogators. Less so if they were captured by police, and more so by Atlas.
It was clear to him that he was captured by the latter.
How many hours had it been? Couldn't have been too many… he lost count a long time ago.
His sole solace would be that once his brothers and sisters found out he was taken, they'd spirit away his family to a safe place, where they couldn't reach them.
Again and again, he chanted the creed of his cell, finding solace if any of them would be captured, they had all taken it to heart:
We are the sword and shield of all Faunus kind, we are the line that shall hold against the tide. Our resolve is iron, and our will steel, we shall prevail against the monsters who shroud themselves in masks of decency. The White Fang shall not flinch in face of terror, for the White Fang are terror.
Nick chanted it over and over again, faintly remembering it from his days in Menagerie and Atlas training with the best of the best of the White Fang. A distant memory compared to now, where all he had was his resolve to never give in.
It didn't register at first, but once it did, his eyes shot open, and ears perked up to listen.
The door opened near soundlessly, the opening it created letting in light that bathed the walls in a blinding wash in comparison to his own meagre light source. He squinted in response, trying to cringe away, only stopped by the tight chains clinging onto him.
"Shit… this is dark, where the hell are the lights?" he could hear someone fumbling around in the darkness before the room suddenly lit up all at once.
After taking a moment to adjust to the blinding light, he finally got a good look on his interrogator.
The woman closing the door wore tight fitting jeans and a short sleeve compression shirt that did well to complement her body, not that he'd care for the bitch.
He didn't have to go further to tell that she was no different to any other Atlesian. Scum.
"Oh hey!" she closed the door behind her with her hip, a clipboard hugged to her chest, and a plate in her other hand. She flashed a grin up at him. "How are you doing?"
He made no move to speak.
She laid something on the table. A bottle and a plate with some food on it, "Silent treatment huh? Well, suppose being chained up doesn't do me any favours. Here, let me help you out of that."
Nick watched cautiously as the woman undid his restraints. At one time, she got so close that he could smell the flower scent from the purple streaked brown hair.
It was funny, almost, that someone that was so capable of terrible acts would take the time to smell nice. Just like Atlas then, the worst people living behind a veneer of niceties and politeness.
Wringing his wrists out, he carefully watched his interrogator pat the chair closest to him, before taking a seat on the opposite side, "Come, sit. We have a bit to talk about."
A suspicious glare, still rubbing his pained wrists
"Hey," the interrogator hefted the plate of food towards him. "You're hungry right? Sit down and come eat."
After he frowned at the food, she just sighed, "It's not poisoned or drugged. Here, I'll eat some myself." she took the spoon, shoving it into her mouth and swallowing. A grin. "See? Not poisoned."
Very carefully, and with constant glances over his shoulder, he sat down. The chair didn't budge, like it was welded to the ground. They weren't completely stupid at least, not giving him a chair to fight with. Unfortunate for him, fortunate for them. The woman pushed the bottle and plate towards him, resting her head on her fist and giving him a deceptively nice smile, "Go on, try some!"
He started slowly at first, visually inspecting, even sniffing the morsel of food. The interrogator rolled her eyes, but encouraged him with a wave of her hand, "Go on. I swear it's not poisoned with a truth serum or anything. That would just make my job harder in the future. Might try to starve yourself out. Wouldn't want that for your kid right?"
At that, Nick paused, just for a moment.
No, they didn't have Max, he would've heard him in the van if they did.
They didn't, he repeated to himself. Max was fine, Amelie was fine, it was all fine.
He assured himself like this all the while shoving the food into his mouth. The interrogator watched him with calculating eyes, taking in his every action. Curses flew around his head. She definitely saw his pause when she mentioned Max. He knew she'd file that away for "later use" or something like that.
"So," she began as he took a sip from the water bottle. "I'm Iris, and your name is..?"
"You already know, don't you?" he croaked out, letting the water soak his parched mouth.
Iris pursed her lips, "Yeah, but I want to hear it from you, y'know?"
He could've easily just refused, or even given a false name to test their information, but in the end, he decided to relent, "Nick."
"Nice to meet you on better terms, Nick. I would say sorry for snatching you off the streets, but..." she flashed another smile. "It wasn't personal, I promise."
"Like that makes me feel any better..." he mumbled, taking another sip of water.
"Maybe," a pause. "Hey, you believe in Reliqium, right?"
Suspicion crossed his face, "Yes."
She laughed, a hearty belly laugh that echoed around the room, "That's funny, I'm one too!"
Iris held up a pendant that hung off her neck, an intricate set of laurel wreaths that intertwined with a hollow star. The pendant itself was a simple brass, hanging off a modest chain that clinked and rattled as she moved it around, "Always nice to see I'm not just a crazy nutjob. Though the fact that you're a terrorist puts an uh, damper on my mood."
"You think the revelation we vaguely believe in the same God is going to make me confess to something I didn't do?"
"No, but you should stop the whole 'I don't know' game. We both know what I'm here for, and we both know who we are."
"I want a lawyer."
"So-" Iris paused, mouth agape. She spluttered, face scrunched up in amazement before laughter exploded out of her. "Oh my god! Do you actually think that's the way things are going to be done around here? No Nick, there are no lawyers, no oversight above me, no pesky superior staring over my shoulder. Just me and you. I'm curious though, are you just that dim and didn't notice all of this? Or are you..?"
"Just making sure."
"Good to know the White Fang don't put idiots in commands. Would make my job too easy. Can't have that," she paused, scratching her chin in thought before she gestured his way. "Hey, we're not going to dance around you being in the White Fang, are we? 'Cuz we have photos and all that. I don't need a confession either, so you denying it won't do anything. I'm here for something else."
He just crossed his arms.
"Nothing to that? No denial? Guess we're past that stage but..." she shook her head, before sighing loudly. "Guess I should've expected this whole silent treatment from you bunch."
To his continued silence, she continued on prattling, "Really don't know what you guys see in the White Fang. Like, I get it, you're fighting for Faunus Rights. That's great and all, but how do you expect the governments of the world to react but hunt you down? Hell, I hunted you down and here you sit. We already have Faunus equality in law, especially in Vale. Maybe not quite as much in Atlas but I really don't think bombing them is gonna work-"
"You don't understand anything!" he slammed the table, only barely resisting the urge to reach out and choke the absolute bitch out. Only his self preservation stopped him. The lack of chains around his wrists was new. Was she really that confident? Or just stupid? "You humans, always walk around thinking they fucking know the plight of the Faunus, that they know what we go through every single fucking day. You people say you support Faunus, yet, do I see you defending a Faunus when they get wrongfully shot by police? Huh? The Fang has tried peaceful methods, and they have failed. So we are forced to resort to violence, we are forced to become terror."
Quietly, he began to recite his creed.
"Please, sit down before security has a heart attack and decides to shoot you," Iris cleared her throat, gently pushing him back into his seat while glaring at the camera in the corner of the room. "Indulge me, how does attacking people even bring about these goals?"
It felt weird, her words, like someone whispering into his ear, pushing him towards following her words.
Nick gritted his teeth, blinking rapidly as he focused on his family, "You think I'm that stupid? This is just you eventually pushing me to reveal intelligence." laughter, "I expected you to be better."
"Mhm," annoyance flitted across her face. Wonderful. "I kind of expected that. Didn't take you for the dull type."
"We busted another White Fang Cell earlier," Iris stated, resting her head on her hand. "Lightning raids, y'know? A Lot of us hit you all at once. We'll get to the bottom of whatever the hell you're planning eventually. The question is whether you will walk out of this stuck in one of our black sites, or a comfy max sec prison in Vale. Your choice and I highly encourage you to consider little Max in all of this. So, tell me, what's Operation Typhoon?"
Typhoon. No, he couldn't reveal that. Never.
Again, a tug at his head that told him to cooperate. Then… then that tug picked at something else.
His face screwed up tight. If he only cooperated… he'd get to see Max, right? All he'd have to do is tell her about Mountain Glenn…
All he'd have to do…
No. No, no, no. He couldn't betray the White Fang. They were his brothers and sisters. Amelie wouldn't like him any better if he snitched and betrayed everything they worked for…
But she wouldn't like it if he just abandoned Max, right?
Nick couldn't quite tell that there was something in his head. The influence in his head was only a whisper, pushing him here and there, encouraging this, discouraging that, subtly rationalizing things for him, and putting things into perspective. Nobody could ever tell that it was in their head unless they knew beforehand, exactly as Iris intended. It was a perilous art, careful maneuvering, lest you show your hand, and Iris was well practiced.
Yet, Nick held on.
"Those..." Nick struggled with his words, mouth twitching and eyes flicking all over. "Those are lies." he snarled, "Not one will give themselves up to you. At least the ones that know anything worthwhile."
Iris hid her disappointment, mentally scrambling for another approach, "Oh yeah, no doubt, but you know what else we have? Scrolls, documents, computers. All that kind of stuff. Maybe it won't lead us to the jackpot immediately, but they'll lead us to other places. I'm just here asking you because I'm giving you an opportunity to help yourself. So tell me, what the fuck is Operation Typhoon?"
"I don't know what that is."
"Bullshit," she slid forward a photo. It was of him next to another high ranking White Fang member. "This man right here told us all about how you knew about Typhoon. So I ask again, what do you know about Typhoon?"
Again, the gentle whispers in his head.
"Go to hell."
They continued for an eternity, Iris poking and prodding for information, and Nick vehemently giving non-answers or just staying silent altogether. Again and again, Operation Typhoon came up, with each utterance Iris growing more and more frustrated. She didn't show it, of course, she was professional, but Nick could take pleasure in seeing the little wisps of anger that seeped through the cracks.
Typhoon was to be their big attack against the Council, their wake up call to Vale that the White Fang was not to be taken like children whining about a toy. No, he would not take that away from the Fang, no matter how much he hated the human organizing it.
More and more, the voice whispered in his head, the prods and pokes becoming pushes and shoves, and the hushed whispers becoming shouts and kicks.
All relative, of course, to Iris' usual interrogation, it required far more force than what she usually applied. To Nick? Well… a highly perceptive person might've noticed, and Iris gambled hard.
"You're… you're using something on me," a confused Nick slurred out after Iris tried mind game after mind game, his resolve barely holding. "Was it something in the food? Took long enough."
Internally, Iris cursed like a sailor, externally, she said, just the slight tinge of annoyance on her tongue, "C'mon Nick, you didn't get any sleep for the last week-"
Had it really been a week? No way.
It had, and Nick could feel the weariness come down on him all at once.
"-probably that starting to kick in. You're hardy, I'll admit that, but you know one thing, Nick?"
He stared up at the ceiling, his entire world spinning around him. He spoke drunkenly like it was his tenth shot and he was stumbling down the street, "What is it, you fucking snake? Huh? All you Atlas types always go around interrogating people and acting like your their friend, then fucking betray them. People like you know no loyalty, no honour, no fucking nothing. I bet you're a manipulating self-centred bitch, ha."
Iris frowned. Nick continued.
"You know what fucker? I hope that I'll kill your family. Starting with your parents-"
It was a tic, that he didn't notice. A subtle change in her demeanour, a hardening of her eyes, her mouth curling into an angry frown.
Spouting his rhetoric staring up at the ceiling, Nick didn't see any of it.
Iris got up, the first time since she's started the interrogation. She paced around the table, slowly closing the distance between the two of them, and leant down to the Faunus man, "I've never walked out of an interrogation room without having considered it a success, and I don't intend you start here with a fucking mutt like you of all people."
"It's clear that I'm never going to crack you like this," Iris' face had morphed from the friendly interrogator to that of pure hatred in a split second. "I have a sense about these things, y'know. Whether someone will talk or not."
She lowered her voice to a whisper, getting right into the fox Faunus' face, "I've interrogated many, many fucking animals like you. People who wouldn't talk even if they had the world offered to them, and I have walked away with their jaws unhinged vomiting out information like their life depended on it," a sadistic cackle like an evil witch. "But you? No, you fucking keep going strong even if I try everything in the book. And you know what? You have brought out the one fucking part of me that has destroyed me before, and I don't fucking like that."
"Fuck you bitch!" he conjured up as much spit as he could, sending it in a glob that splattered against the woman's face.
Nick was knocked to the side by a sudden punch, leaving him leaning over the side, blood dripping down on the floor below. Suddenly, he was dragged out of the chair by his hair, the manacles locking around his wrists before he could even realize it.
Her voice was hushed, yet still as filled with anger as it previously was, "I've walked through life, always a smooth talker, always charming people, and in the fucking end, always destroying everything with one mistake. One fucking mistake! Iris the snake, they'd call me, Iris, liar and cheat, manipulator and narcissistic antisocial prick. They'd all call me that. I grew past that, right? Now I'm here, doing what I do best."
In a sudden movement, Iris struck him hard across the face with an open hand strike.
"Heh, touched a chord with that huh? Well, guess they were right about you," he tensed up, no strike came.
"They were right, alright," Iris replied, her voice giving his shivers. "They were right about that. That I was all of fucking that. That I lied, manipulated, and fucked with people. So I decided to put those efforts into something productive. Which is picking at the brains of animals like you so everyone else can sleep soundly in their bed without having to worry about getting blown up in a fucking bomb attack!"
She gripped his head with both hands, forcing him to face her, "Look at me, motherfucker. Help me God, if you don't tell me what the fuck Operation Typhoon is, give me some names, and tell me something useful, I swear to Reliquo, I will make your life worse than Gerdas crawling through the underworld and back, and believe me you fucking animal, scum of Remnant, low life of Kasserian, I can fucking do that."
Nick stared at Iris, looking deep into her eyes, and saw hatred in its pure, concentrated essence. The type that would drive someone to tear a person in half, that would drive them mad to hell and back. Disgust, enmity, contempt, it was all there, in a single bundle of emotion deep within his interrogator that came bursting to the surface.
There was no tug on his thoughts, no whispers, just the knowledge that malice radiated off her by the ton.
Any pretense that she was his friend, that she was any different from any interrogator he was told to expect, wiped away.
No, she was different from other interrogators. Definitely different.
He began to quietly chant, "We are the sword and shi-"
A strike, more blood, "- of F-faunus kind."
Blood splatters covered the ground.
There was no more anger on her face, instead, it was joy, even happiness. She gave a smile of pure sadism, one that promised only pain, the wet cloth and water can in her hands promised more.
"You White Fang were always fun to play with."
The next indeterminate amount of time was a blur, Nick reduced to chanting the creed over and over again in some hope that it would give him strength.
It was something that changed his mind. Something that only barely registered in his head, but it still rang clear.
He submitted, finally.
He didn't know what he said, but whatever it was, it got her to stop.
It pained him to say he truly didn't know if he betrayed the White Fang or not.
Staring up at her, her implements of pain held tightly in her hands, chest unevenly rising and falling as she caught her breath, and the blood that stained the floor having long dried, and his cuts and bruises scabbing over. Her eyes still were filled with contempt, her anger having not faded one bit.
It was personal, he decided, using his semblance with the last dredges of aura that he kept squirrelled away. It wasn't out of racism or pedantic hate for terrorism, it was something that ate her up inside.
Yet, afterwards, she sat him down, calm and collected, acting just like she was at the beginning, and fed him food while gently inquiring about the White Fang's operations.
Again, the torture started again, the same sadistic smile taking pleasure in each ounce of water poured on his face, each strike delivered, and each small, dark box he was shoved into.
He barely knew what he said to get her to stop, but she stopped, standing above his curled up form with eyes of fury.
Without another word, Iris walked away, leaving for the door.
Nick chanted his creed, reaching the last line, yet, he could not finish it.
He couldn't not out of pain or tiredness, no, because it simply wasn't true.
The White Fang wasn't terror, because whoever Iris was, was.
/ - /
"Hey, Iris. You get the info we need?"
She just groaned, letting the metal door close behind her. Cedric sat behind the set of screens, each a different view of the cell she just left. He held a cigarette between his lips, and an almost casual expression even after the things he inevitably just watched. The chance he wasn't there when she… lost her cool? Good enough that she'd bet on it.
"Yeah, should be on tape. He didn't give anything until later on, so you can ignore the first three quarters," she made a mental note to erase the part where she let loose a very personal tirade. That wasn't something anybody needed to know about, especially Cedric.
Cedric pushed away from the desk, standing up and walking towards her, "Hm, Jaune and Lav didn't like what we made them do."
"It had to be done. He wouldn't give an inch. It got the job done and that's that," Iris wiped away something from her forehead. Dried blood, and not her's. "I didn't even have them do anything, just watch."
He took her by the shoulders, brushing away some of the still fresh blood from her tangled hair, "Yeah well, they didn't like what they would've had to do on your orders. I'm fairly sure they would've refused if I told them to do it."
A scoff as she was gently pushed down onto a nearby stool by Cedric, "I could've convinced them, and I don't need to be babied, Ced. I didn't even get hurt."
"Yeah, and you look like you just bawled your eyes out after beating the shit out of someone," he shot back. "Add onto that you look like shit."
"I'm fine," Iris rubbed at her eyes, scratched at her dried tears.
Cedric pulled the cigarette out and held it in "Well, I was here for all of the last eight hours, so I know for a fact you're not fine."
His tone softened as he placed a hand on his shoulder, "Iris, do you need to talk?"
"No!" she snapped, standing up suddenly, pushing past Cedric roughly as she made for the stairs. "I'm fine!"
"You're doing it again," his words were strained.
She glanced back. His face was screwed up in concentration, lips curved downwards in a frown.
"What am I doing Cedric?"
"Using your semblance," he forced through gritted teeth.
A gasp escaped her mouth, her hand involuntarily shooting up to cover her mouth as she panickedly cut off her semblance, "Shit, I'm… I'm sorry. Fuck… won't happen again..."
"Iris," his voice hardened as he closed the distance between the two. "You are not fine. If you're not alright, I'll… I can't have you operating when you have persona-"
"I'm fine!" she didn't even intend it as a shout as she pulled away, barely aware of the tendrils of her semblance reaching out. "Just give me time and I'll be right as rain before you even know it. C'mon Ced, that was just a fluke."
The strain on his face worsened, "Iris..."
She turned to the flight of stairs behind her, "I'm fine. Look, I'm gonna go out for a bit, get some food. You don't need to follow me or anything, I'll be back soon, m'kay? Later."
Iris made a hasty escape, flying up the stairs and quickly leaving Cedric behind, who stood in the middle of the concrete room, his face the perfect image of concentration.
A few moments after she left, Cedric felt the pressure leave his head, and he slumped against the nearby wall.
"That could've gone better..." he buried his face in his hands. "Fucking hell, that didn't use to be that powerful..."
Cedric just shook his head. There was no point in going after her, especially with her amped up Semblance where she'd just tell him to stay, but there was no way he was letting her out in the world so soon after… all of that.
He still needed to file the damn report too... all of that intelligence was incredible, especially what Typhoon entailed. The Major would be pleased, and probably give him a pat on the back while taking all the credit as usual. Eventually, it'd file its way up through the slog of bureaucracy and then they'd take appropriate action. Especially since Typhoon wasn't due for quite a while, according to the terrorist in the room.
The reports would take a while, as it always did, and that just meant a whole lot more paperwork for him since he had the great opportunity to act as an independent asset.
That still left the problem of Iris.
Then he got an idea.
He pulled out his scroll, navigating his contact list until he found who he was looking for, and pressed call.
"Hey, Finch? I need an immediate retask. Yes, it's important," he quickly explained the situation, Finch expressing understanding as he packed up his equipment in the background. Soon, he ended the call, confident that at least somebody was watching over his distraught targeter.
Then something else popped up on his scroll, a red notification. Curiously tapping on the notification, he immediately let loose a string of curses.
His day just turned from decent with a few hiccups to absolutely fucking terrible.
Hello, I am back.
More shilling for my server here, we're friendly and we like new people. We play games in VC often, so you can join if you're into that. We're also open to people coming in and chilling, and or just existing. Any aspiring writers can also come for advice, since we have a few other writers than myself in and alot of knowledgeable people here.
Join the server today and make number go up and monke brain happy.
discord gg/8gbF2TJ (Link in profile if you want to copy paste).
Oh and uh…
Omake: Cheems is fucking pissed.
Velvet had been strapped into the chair for Dust knows how long when the tophat wearing dog appeared again in a flash of light.
"Self insert my ass..." the dog muttered, pacing back and forth on the pristine concrete ground. "I don't write myself with a lisp and that means it's inaccurate? I'll ban all of you I swear... all my characters are RWBY characters? That sounds like a fucking ban and a half..."
She tried to scream, only for her mouth to refuse to open despite everything she tried.
You damn dog I'll kill you!
The golden dog cocked his head up at her, tophat beginning to slide off his head, "Oh, yeah, you. Can you let me monologue or are you going to continue being a little bitch?"
Her screams refused to come out.
Let me speak asshole!
"Oh yeah sure, I will, just give me a moment," the roll of his eyes worsened the tophat's slide, and in a split second, it clattered off his head and onto the floor.
The now hatless dog looked at the hat rolling away from him.
Velvet chuckled, showing as much mirth through her restrained expressions as she could to rub it in.
"Oh c'mon, now look what you've done!" the dog sighed, shaking his head only for the tophat to suddenly reappear back onto his head. "Well, anyways, ransom's been fulfilled, you're going back unless he doesn't hold up his side."
The dog turned to the camera, black beady eyes showing no emotion save the smugness that presented itself, "You know what to do, Arizona."
One second after, Velvet blacked out.
/ - /
"AAAAH!" Velvet screamed, shooting up in her bed. She rapidly patted herself down, touching all and everything to make sure that she really was there.
"Thank god… it was just a dream..."
She sighed in relief, slumping back into the warm embrace of her bed.
The door to CFVY's room burst open with gusto, startling the rabbit Faunus and revealing Coco, sashaying in as she usually did.
"Heyo, sleepyhead!" Coco smirked, leaning down as the Faunus fumbling on the ground. "Nice of you to finally wake up! You were asleep for ages!"
"Sure felt like that..." Velvet rubbed her head where a migraine was starting to form, like an old pain coming back to screw with her.
Coco turned back to the door, waving the rest of the team in, "Well, while you were getting your beauty sleep, we saw team RWBY had a dog so… I got us a dog!"
"Really?" Velvet tweaked an eyebrow. She didn't hate dogs per say, but apparently, her subconscious did, if it made that talking dog out to be such a villain. "Can I see it?"
"Come in boy!"
It was the same dog from her dreams, sans tophat, and with a happy tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth, but the same, almost smug expression on its face.
"We even got him a cute little tophat!"
Velvet fainted right there and then.
Anyways, write a review or I swear, I'll put this story into rewrite hell.
And kill Velvet.