Hey, long time no see.

Explanation at the end.

discord gg/8gbF2TJ (Link in profile if you want to copy paste).


Chapter 26: Unfortunate Past


Jay calmly picked up his gin and tonic and downed the rest of it in one gulp.

No sense in wasting a drink.

"So, how about I change that statement?"

Maya just laughed, digging the pistol deeper into his side, her hand hidden by the flap of his jacket, "Do you think I'd fall for you changing your mind just because I put a gun to you? Nah, Bluejay, I know you better than that. You'd rather die than put little Finch in danger. Ain't that right?"

Jay bit back the snark that bubbled up in the back of his throat, "No, I'm serious. We could split a deal. Finch and I stay free from your harassment, and he'll make whatever the hell you want."

"Mhm," her free hand rested on his thigh. Probably supposed to be alluring, but to Jay? More creepy than anything else. "Or my boys could take you and we'd threaten you until he gives himself up to us."

More than likely, every man she had inside the bar had their Aura. When he left, that number had been far lower, less than the amount inside the bar, so what the hell changed? Maybe Maya had the balls to have guys with inactive Aura come after him… but she wasn't stupid. If she did, she'd have a whole lot of guys in body bags real fast.

"I don't think my… organization would like that very much."

A raised eyebrow, "Oh? Fucked off and joined a new gang now? What, do they offer you morally correct jobs that have you coming out smelling like roses? I'm supposed to be scared by this? Do you really think whatever fucking gang you're apart of is gonna try and get you back or something?" a childish giggle, before she leant into his ear. "I'd like to see them try, especially after our upsizing."

"Well-"

The bartender placed down two glasses in front of them, interrupting him and drawing an annoyed but simultaneously pleased look from Maya, "Two beers for the gal and the lad. Have a good time the two of 'yer, eh?" he winked with a wide grin, before walking away chuckling.

Maya snatched up the drink, "Back to business, I've destroyed enemy gangs before. Don't think yours is any different."

He cleared his throat, not bothering to reach for the drink, "I really don't think a bar is the best place to do this kind of stuff, so what do you say we uh, take it outside?"

She sipped at her drink, scratching her cheek, "Nah."

"Why not?" it came out before he could think.

"Oh y'know, just the thing that's preventing you from pulling a gun on me. Everyone around us," she leant in close as if sharing a secret. "We both know that, Bluejay."

"And the what, five or six people you have around this bar isn't stopping me from starting a fight?"

She tapped a finger on her pursed lips, "Maybe."

Her men by the doors hadn't moved, but her remaining men had slowly encircled themselves around them, all the while Maya's faint smirk grew.

"So, what happens next?"

"Well, you hand over the gun you're keeping in your pants, and you and I walk out of here together along with my other guys watching your every move. You also won't do a thing because if you do, well..." she chuckled. "Between you and me, I don't think you can take on six plus guys with active Aura and training. You're not a Huntsman, and we both know that."

He gave a wistful look at the beer on the table. He needed his head clear for the next part, but not like a little could hurt, right? So he snatched up the glass and gulped down a mouthful, "I appendix carry it."

Carefully, he slipped the knife hidden in his palm into his sleeve. Meanwhile, he locked eyes with Maya and grinned, making sure to have her focus on him. At her cocked brow, he responded, "Go on, might as well get this over with as fast as possible."

Her lips drawn into a thin line, she reached forward, feeling around his waistband, until her hand finally found purchase on his sidearm. She jerked it out and immediately went to look it over. "Nice piece, where'd you get it?"

"I figure you know where I got the money," he eyed the uncertainty flash across her face as she pocketed the pistol, then the jealousy. Yup, she never changed. Too busy being jealous to worry about the knife he was going to slip between her ribs later.

She motioned with her head towards the door, her own pistol still jabbed in his side, "C'mon, get moving."

"Alright, alright, gimme a sec," he grunted, adding under his breath. "Still a bitch..."

"What?"

"Nothing," he shoved off the barstool, starting to make his way over to the main entrance. At least until he felt a hand pull him back.

Maya came forward, wrapping a tight arm around his neck with a dopey grin plastered over her face, "Nuh uh, not that entrance. Around the back."

So he reluctantly followed Maya stumbling around, giggling and teasing him quietly, while her actual words were laced with a familiar venom that ran in stark contrast to her dumb, dimpled smiles. Patrons sent envious looks his way, and the much less subtle gangsters under Maya's command followed closely, watching his every move. It'd make the next thing he'd do far more difficult, but probably still doable.

"Lotta new help you have," he mentioned as they pushed through the back exit door, passing by the tatted-up man in an open leather jacket whose eye's tracked him the entire time. "Where'd you get them?"

They stepped into a dimly illuminated alleyway, just wide enough to accommodate the van that sat off to his right, where two men waited, hastily getting off the walls they leant on and hiding scrolls behind their backs as he came into view. As the door swung shut behind them, Maya immediately tightened up, her drunken act disappearing, replaced by the tight grip around his shoulder and the pistol aimed directly at the base of his neck, "Like I said, upsizing. Maybe you would've known if you hadn't fucking left?"

The two men had opened up the back of the van, pistols held loosely in their hands. At Maya's last words, she pressed the sidearm into his neck just enough that he thought he heard the slide of the pistol move back imperceptibly. It'd be out of battery, where the pistol wouldn't fire, but she immediately drew back, no longer pressing it directly on him.

Still interesting though.

"Aw, you want Finch back so much don't you?" a grin spread across his face. Even if it didn't work, at least he would've gotten Maya angry, and that was worth it alone. "Can't make her own money so she has to come running back to- oh!"

Thwack!

His Aura took most of the bite of the pistol whip, but fuck, did it hurt. He stumbled forward, turning around to see a snarling Maya aiming her sidearm directly at his forehead, but not pressing against it.

"C'mon, that was some pussy shit, Maya. Try it again."

She moved to press the pistol against his forehead, but a frown overcame her expression, "No, no, you're trying to trick me into doing something."

She started pulling away slightly, waving for her two men to come over. Behind her, the back door to the bar started to swing open again, most likely with her other men inside the bar.

Well, guess it was too much to hope she'd put it out of battery.

"So guess this is the part where those two chucklefucks shove me in the van and take me to a dark, dark warehouse so you can do whatever you want?" He glanced around, palming his knife down from his sleeve.

"Of course, get a move on," she motioned with her pistol towards the van, taking it off him for the moment he needed.

He lunged forward, one hand batting the pistol out of the way, making sure to clamp down on the slide with a firm grip. His knife flashed out, driving down towards her neck. She brought up her free arm to block, but to no avail as the blade connected with her neck and she was sent careening backwards. However, instead of sinking into her flesh, his knife skittered off. He sent it in an upwards thrust, catching her lip with the pointed butt of the handle.

He winced as a bullet whizzed past his cheek. A moment slower and maybe Maya would've gotten him right in the eye. It wasn't a pleasant thought to mull around in his head as he ripped the sidearm out from her hand, racking it as quickly as possible to eject the spent casing. It wouldn't have cycled, considering that he stopped the slide from moving with his hand.

A kick directly to Maya's gut drew a grunt of pain from her. He immediately brought up the pistol, centring it on the single man standing in the middle of the doorway, whose hand sweeping back his coat near his hip all the justification he needed. Three shots sent the surprised man stumbling back into the bar behind him, the metal door swinging shut.

He fell to a knee, swinging the pistol around to the two men off to his left. They held pistols out in front of them, both aimed directly at him.

Jay jerked back as bullets impacted his Aura. Quickly sheathing his knife, he dove to the side, slamming down on the trigger and dumping round after round into his two assailants.

"Fucking Aura!" he scrambled to his feet, dashing away down the alleyway, which only led to… a backstreet. Great. His Aura shuddered as bullets impacted into his back, and his response was to fire wildly back to try and keep their heads down. Mid stumble, he managed to pull his scroll out from his pocket. He swiped through his contacts, selecting the one he wanted with a frantic thumb. It started ringing.

And it rang.

And rang.

There'd only be so much time before they rounded the corner...

"C'mon, c'mon..." he growled, staring down at the scroll. Finally, the swirling loading circle became whole. "Fucking finally! Cedric!"

"What is it? I'm dealing with some shit right no-" a gunshot cracked behind him. "The fuck, Jay?"

"Yeah! I'm in a bit of trouble right now!" Jay spun back, taking a few half-aimed shots behind him, where the two gangsters rounded the corner, pistols raised. "Fucking gangs! Uh, tell Finch to launch a fucking bomb drone at them and send some fucking help!"

"How'd yo- nevermind. We're jocking up now. Keep in sight for his drones, and delay them as long as possible!"

"Yeah, no need to tell me that twice!" he ended the call abruptly and shoved his scroll back into his pocket, dashing behind a convenient dumpster as he checked his pistol. The magazine that fell out noticeably had a single round at the top of the magazine. The spare mags he carried on his belt wouldn't fit in the pistol either. Fuck.

Thunk!

As he slammed the magazine back in, he gasped suddenly. A sharp pain at the back of his head blossomed and he careened forward, nearly falling to the ground as his mind swirled.

He initially scrambled to stay on his feet, but instead decided otherwise. He twisted around, landing flat on his ass and bringing his stolen sidearm to bear on his attacker from the rear, only for the sidearm to be smacked out of his hand like a plastic toy. Jay jerked his hand to his waistband, where his knife was sheathed, only to stop as a bearded man wearing a night black ball cap levelled a rifle at him.

"Stay the fuck down, Bluejay,"

Jay stared down the barrel as the man sent his pistol skittered away with a black boot, "Oh hey, Tas. How you doing?"

"Shut the fuck up."

Jay gave a cursory glance around the backstreet. The two men from before were cautiously approaching, pistols raised. Two gangbangers were fast approaching behind Tas, and Maya was shakily approaching, wiping away blood from her lip. Random cars lined the backstreet, with random objects littering the ground. Great.

Jay just sighed, slowly raising his hands. Tas gave a victorious grin.

"Tas, cuff him!" Maya spat out, Tas glancing away from him for a moment, and that was all he needed.

Jay shot up, tearing his knife from its sheath and lunging straight for Tas' throat. He karate chopped the rifle askew, but was a bit too slow, as two rounds caught him in the shoulder, the barrel jabbing him in the shoulder before it skittered off. He gritted his teeth, pushing through the pain and punching out his knife, catching Tas right in the jugular. There was no satisfying feeling as the knife plunged right into the bastard's throat. No, it impacted like Jay just tried to stab three inches of steel.

Jay closed the distance in a half a bound, knocking the both of them to the ground in a violent tumble of flying limbs. Jay ended up on top, knife working to cut the sling that held Tas' rifle to him, and kept Jay from getting it. Tas didn't keep idle, lashing out with a fist, striking him in the face, but Jay doggedly kept on.

All he needed was the rifle, and then he could fight his way out. All he needed to do was to stay free long enough for Cedric to come help. That was all that he needed…

Just as he finally freed his rifle, the sling coming free of Tas, who desperately fought to get it back, he was torn back, ripped off Tas with a death grip on his jacket, given a punch that rocked his head back and forth. Jay hit the ground face first with a grunt, a knee pressed into the small of the back, and moist breath wafting into his ear.

"Stay the fuck down, Bluejay," Maya fumed into his ear. His hands were thrust together, the recognizable sound of gravity bolas engaging around his wrists. "Or I'll skullfuck you so hard little Finch won't be able to tell the difference between you and pulped watermelon."

"Good luck with that..." he muttered as he felt the pressure leave his back.

He sighed, testing out his new constraints. No slack in it. Damn.

"Nice try, Bluejay" Tas chuckled, turning Jay face up and crouching down next to him. "But ultimately, a failure, just like everything in your life."

A roll of his eyes, "Just you and your gang."

"Shut your mouth."

"Yeah," came Maya. She crouched down in front of him, his stolen gun just peeking out from her jeans. Her hand came away from her bloodied nose, revealing the purple lips formed into a frown which came along with it. "Shut the fuck up Bluejay."

"Nah, you can fuck right off."

"Tas," she motioned to the broadly built man with a hand, cradling her head with her thin fingers. Good, at least he finally got to do what he always wanted. "Shut him up, will you?"

Tas snorted, setting his rifle onto the ground, his expression souring as he initially tried to sling it, only to realize his sling was cut. Then he drew his handheld mace, "Sure thing."

Out of all things he expected to come across in Striker Group, his old gang really wasn't high on the list. Well shit, he thought as Tas reared back his mace, bringing it down on his head with a swift motion.

Thunk!

"Ow!" Jay yelped out. His arms instinctively went to clutch his head, only to be stopped by Tas' boots. "Y'know that fucking hurts, right?"

Maya's eyes widened a little, while Tas just shook his head.

"That doesn't fucking knock people out y'know. Well, maybe some, but I have active Aura and I've been fighting my entire life. I've been shot in the head more times than I can count. You think a fucking mace is going to- ow!"

Tas struck him again, pulling away looking more than smug, "I know, Jay. Now shut the fuck up or I'll hit you again. It might not knock you out, but it sure as fuck hurts, doesn't it?"

"Point taken," Jay groaned.

Maya rubbed her neck, glaring down at him, "Bag him. Also, search him. I don't need to find out he stuck another knife in his pants..."

Jay snickered, "Might want to search me better nex- fuck!"

His head spun as it was driven straight into the asphalt ground. Tas lowered his head next to his ear, "Shut the fuck up, Bluejay."

Jay wisely chose to not reply.

His pockets were turned inside out, from his multitool, to even the little crumbs of food being torn out and spread across the ground. Tas took his scroll with a flourish, flaunting the thin piece of metal and glass in front of him, "Found his scroll, Maya!"

"Good, toss it," Maya leant down next to Jay, cupping his head, her eyes boring into him. "Can't have little Finch tracking us down, hm?"

Jay just scowled.

"Alright, load him up and bag him," Maya jerked her head in the direction of the alleyway where they came from. "Police response here is shit, but I don't want to chance it."

A black bag was slid over his head, and Jay just sighed.

He'd have to hope for a miracle, and Jay didn't believe in miracles. He decided to instead hope for his team, because Jay was sure that they'd tear half the city apart to find him.

As Jay was forced to trudge along, he contented himself to waiting for the next few hours.

/ - /

"Wealthy and caring family huh?" Thistle grumbled, continuing to dig around in the dumpster. "Guess that means I'm the one that has to dig around in the trash."

Taking his head out of the dumpster, he sighed, laying his arms on the edge of the rusting metal rim. The bricked-up walls around him didn't do much to assuage the thought of somebody walking into his little side street and asking him why the hell he was digging around the trash of a Faunus-owned restaurant. Maybe he'd say he was a garbage man to something, which might work long enough for him to get out of dodge.

So far, nothing but rotting food.

He did his best to scrape off excess muck on his blue surgical gloves on the edge of the dumpster, "Maybe checking the food dumpster wasn't the brightest thing I've ever done..."

Thistle exhaled, getting to work on the other trash cans lined up next to the huge, green dumpster.

All of this… he knew what he was getting into when he signed on. His dad made sure of it. Everyone dipped their toes into other fields every once in a while. Infantry in covert operations, and spies in basic infantry tasks. It was how it went. That still didn't stop the nagging feeling that Thistle hadn't dipped his toes in a pond, but leapt straight into the ocean. Shit, Jaune made it clear, didn't he? He knew he wouldn't be with the Rocky Laser Beam for any of it. He knew that they might have to get dirty, and he was fine with it.

He was fine with it, he repeated in his head.

Thistle opened a trash can, working to pull open a black garbage bag, loosening the knot until it came free. Inside…

"Huh."

Long strips of shredded paper, mixed in with some whole piece of paper as well.

Which begged the question, why would a restaurant need to shred paper in the first place?

He cautiously glanced around before digging his hands into the pile and looking at the snippets of words left on the page. Something that looked like letters, and snippets of some fancy fonts. Interesting things to have shredded. He'd have to find a place to stash the bags until he could come get them later since walking on the streets with full garbage bags slung over his shoulder wasn't exactly the most inconspicuous thing.

And maybe they could piece the shreds together if they didn't sleep for a couple of days.

Using paper documents themselves was an interest. With everyone going paperless, the fact that there were a few bags of shredded paper further piqued his interest.

Ain't that curious.

He surreptitiously looked around. A metal door to his right, a window inset in the wall in front of him, and the brick wall of another building backing him.

Thistle stared up at the single window above him.

None of what he expected a restaurant to sound like emanated from it. Just silence.

So after a glance around him to make sure nobody was watching, he decided to take a quick look.

He climbed up on the dumpster, quickly peering into the window. An office. Cabinets lined the sides, with a wide office desk facing him and stacks of paper on it.

It may not have been the best idea in his life, but it was already a bit late to change his mind as he finished shimmying the flimsy window open with little difficulty, and dove straight in. It was actually fairly easy in reality, just some jiggling and the lock would open itself. Something learned from many nights of nothing to do but learn.

"Well," he brushed off his clothes, taking a look around. "If this was a White Fang hideout, they have some shit security. Might as well get something for breaking and entering though."

After a subconscious pat on his holstered sidearm, he went to work, starting to rifle through the stacks and stacks of paper on the office desk, taking pictures of each with his scroll as he quickly scanned over each. A lot of financial documents, cheques, and more things Thistle couldn't recognize, but took a picture of regardless. Maybe all of the incriminating documents were already shredded and burnt, and all he was going through was mundane sheets of paper that had none of what he was looking for. Thistle glanced wistfully at the laptop sitting on the desk. If Finch was here, he could've cracked it open and probably found a treasure trove of information. He wasn't here though, so Thistle kept on working.

He sighed, scanning through yet another wall of text and he held his scroll over it, freezing when something caught his eye.

I'm heavily against using my restaurant as a "transport point" for your operations. I've heard what you want to store here, and really, can't you find another place to put them? This is just a restaurant to move lien and people, not whatever you're transporting. The last thing I need is for that to be in the same building. Use another place.

Also your courier was ru-

Thistle tore his eyes from the paper. There were footsteps from just outside the door.

Shit.

As he snapped a photo of the document, the door swung open, a Faunus man dressed in a dress shirt and tie walked into the room, eyes glued to a scroll in his hand. Glued, as in immediately noticing and locking onto him as the door behind him shut.

"W-"

Thistle didn't let him finish his word as he leapt across the table. He slugged the unprepared Faunus across the face, gripping his collar and throwing him down on the ground.

The Faunus didn't put up much of a fight after the first punch. Maybe Thistle could've been a bit nicer, but he sure didn't want the Faunus to wake up and get him on the way out, so he gave the man a few extra punches after he went down just to make sure.

He glanced around the room, then towards crumpled up Faunus on the ground, some splatters of blood staining the carpet, "Well, this ain't too good."

So he did the only thing that came across his mind, and dove headfirst out of the window.

He landed with surprising grace, rolling on his side and smacking his head repeatedly against the asphalt, where he expected to have accidentally dropped headfirst onto the concrete and gone unconscious. He gave a groan as he got up, immediately starting to walk away as if nothing had happened.

Once he was a fair distance away, he pulled out his thankfully intact scroll, and dialled Vi.

"Hey, Vi?"

A low monotone of noise in the background, "What? I'm trying to enjoy a nice meal right now, so if you could fuck off that'd be great."

"Oh yeah, about that," Thistle winced. Someone yelled out behind him, but a hasty inspection found no angry Faunus man chasing after him. Probably somebody finding the body he just left behind. "I may have assaulted someone, so uh, mind leaving?"

Her tone turned miffed, "Just because you fucked up, doesn't mean I have to leave."

A text chime. Pulling the scroll away from his ear, he read it. It was from Cedric.

"Oh."

"Oh, what?" Vi asked. "Is someone chasing you now?"

"Nah, read your texts."

A moment passed.

"Ah."

"Let's meet up at the car, yeah?"

/ - /

"Finch," Jaune stared down at his scroll, hand depressing his radio transmit button. "What street is that?"

On the scroll, a bird's eye black and white thermal image of a road was displayed, the drone's camera was centred on a boxy van weaving its way through traffic. Another car had stayed close to it for every turn it made, so that made for at least two target vehicles for them to take down.

"Uh, just two blocks ahead of you. Keep moving forward and you'll hit it. I'll guide you in."

Jaune sighed, rechecking the SMG held next to him again. Beside him, Cedric sat in the driver seat of the compact four-door they were driving. Lavender sat in the back, her carbine slung over her chest, and sporting a noticeable black eye and many, many bruises. She wore a faint scowl, her hands fiddling with her sights.

"Remember," he said, playing with some of his chest rig straps. "Jay's gonna be somewhere in there, so don't get too trigger happy."

Lavender rolled her eyes, "Pfft, you think you have to remind us about that?"

"Maybe you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Quiet down you two," Cedric gave him the side-eye. "I never thought I'd have to tell you of all people, but stay focused. I need you on top of your game for this, and especially now."

"We're five versus, what, how many did Finch see on his drone? Six or ten guys?" Jaune finished with his SMG, moving to the grenade launcher slung around him. "And if they captured Jay, I'm fairly sure a decent amount of them have Aura, so I'm hoping we're going to do better here than we just did with the White Fang."

"C'mon Jaune," Lavender leant her head on the window. "That was… we both made it out of that. Isn't that good enough for you?"

Finch's voice came over comms, "Make a right turn on the intersection ahead and you'll come up right behind the van. We're maneuvering around the front and getting into position."

They made the right turn, Cedric merging into traffic as Jaune rested his hand on the door handle. The few cars on the small street left their target van in plain view.

"You know, what if," Lavender straightened up, also getting in position to leap out of the car. "What if Finch just followed the wrong van this entire time. His drone got mixed up or something, and they're actually just a random white van, and we're about to hit a couple of plumbers with fifty tear gas grenades? Serious question."

"In that case," Jaune bit his lip as they neared the van, Cedric settling a couple of metres behind it. "We exfiltrate as fast as possible and hope we didn't leave any evidence behind."

She turned to him, leaning forward slightly, "Seriously?"

"Masks on," he ordered, hand reaching across his chest for his radio. "Iris, you and Finch in position yet?"

Iris came back, cool and professional, "Not yet, give us a moment. Like, one minute and we'll be good to initiate."

"Good. Stay ready. We'll get them at the stoplight ahead."

He grimaced as he stared at the back of the van. It was a simple plan, really. They'd advance from behind, while Finch and Iris would contain them from the front. Theoretically, that was the basic formula for an in-extremis vehicle interdiction. Then again, Jaune and Lavender had done everything by the book and still got out of their firefight with the White Fang with more than a few bruises.

So Jaune racked his SMG, and quietly readied himself for something to go wrong.

/ - /

Maya massaged her neck, turning around in her front passenger seat to look at Jay. The man had sat perfectly still for the last half hour of driving around in circles, "Bluejay."

He didn't respond.

She leant backwards, pressing against the back of her seat and snapping her fingers in his covered face, "Bluejay! You there?"

"The hell you want?" came the muffled response.

She leant back in her seat, smirking when Jay sighed.

Oh, it was great to get back at him, even in little ways.

"Sonuvabitch!"

Maya felt the van jerk to a stop, nearing throwing her into the dashboard. Pulling away annoyed, she threw a glance towards the driver, who slammed on the horn, curses pouring out of his mouth.

"The hell happened?" She leant forward in her seat.

The driver gestured towards the van in front of them, which was not even a few metres away, and certainly not speeding up. In fact, slowing down just before the stop light fifty metres out, "That fucker cut me off!"

Her eyes narrowed at the van, "That asshole. Tas!"

"What?" came the bored voice from behind.

She huffed at the disrespect, "I want you to get out and fuck up the guy that just cut us off."

"Hm..." was all that came back. When she didn't hear the immediate sound of a door opening, she turned back, ready to give Tas a piece of her mind when she saw him staring out the tinted rear window of the van. "Hey, Maya, you notice the car behind us has a dude in a balaclava and a chest rig?"

Oh shit.

Jay apparently heard much the same, because he let out a malevolent chuckle.


Short chapter you ask? After all of this time I give you a what, 5.1k chapter?

Well, yeah. I did. Because one, the Discord got me into Warthunder. You can't stop it, so might as well join in.

discord gg/8gbF2TJ (Link in profile if you want to copy paste).

Also yeah, we started the DnD, finally. Just it's not quite RWBY. You can join to find out what exactly it is though. The players say they have fun, so… yeah? We'll be doing the RWBY one after this one, because me dum and turned a one shot into a full campaign by sheer accident.

I'd say there was a lack of motivation, but like, bruh Warthunder is to blame. So I dunno, join the Discord and yell at the boys for getting me into russian plane game that only brings suffering.

Review or something, and join the Discord, because well, if you can't stop it, might as well join it.

Anyways, time to go commit a hate crime and get assault weapons banned.