Yo, yo, yo!
Welcome to another chapter of Grimm's Evolution. Yeah, I know it has been a while since I updated, but what can you do when you have one hour's average of free time every day. Thankfully I will have more time again after the 27th of August, but unfortunately, it doesn't mean that I will start updating every week. I will probably keep trying to give all my stories one update per month after that.
Meanwhile, I will be focusing on my studies and writing my original story. I hope that some of you might try it out as it will be a postapocalyptic Litrpg evolution story. What can I say, I just love the premise of evolving. So if any of you are interested in reading my original in the future, be sure to join my discord or just wait here as you can be sure, that I will let you all know when I post it. (It will be out on Royal Road.)
Alright with that said, I hope you will enjoy the brand new chapter of Grimm's Evolution. Link to discord below.
LINK: discord. gg/ b7JaQcpuc7 (Just delete the spaces.)
Chapter 16. Bullshit is with us!
"How are you this fine evening my friends!" I finally called out when those fuckers decided to just stare at me as if I was some kind of exotic creature... Which I probably was, but that wasn't the point! I didn't come here to have a staring contest with younger versions of RWBY characters.
My greeting obviously didn't move the trio too much as the only thing I got in response was a very dry reply from Glynda, "It is still morning."
Qrow snorted and, I frowned as my gaze went up towards the sun, then back to Goodwitch, and then again at the sun, Huh, I guess it really is... And here I thought I have been waiting here for hours. My bad, I guess?
I waved her off and grinned, "No matter. What's important is the cargo I got in the transporter and the information I can provide about Merlot. So how about we get moving eh? Oh, and the name's Umbra, but they probably already told you that."
Just as I began walking towards the back of the transporter, the Clover look-a-like spoke up. Here goes my hope that they would just go along with what I said. After all, it's not like I'm some random guy that just appeared out of nowhere with Merlot's Virus, I thought with a groan.
"If you could stop for a moment, sir," Clover said as he and the other two stepped a little bit closer, "Before we continue any further, we would like to ask you a few questions. Atlas can't afford to make a mistake now so I hope you understand sir."
Spinning around to face the trio again, I sighed, "It's Umbra, my friend. And yes I already expected that you wouldn't accept my help just like that."
Which is a shame, really. I guess it's time to bring out the bullshit and hope that they are gonna take it. Again, I completely ignored the small voice in the deepest parts of my mind that kept calling me an idiot. I definitely wasn't one and my plan would work... maybe.
As my thoughts began to run rampant, Clover tried to speak up again.
"Before that," Glynda interrupted just when the Atlas' Specialist opened his mouth, "We should remember about common human decency and also introduce ourselves, don't you think Specialist?" she said with a glare pointed at the younger man.
I snorted internally, I guess she didn't change much over the years. Hell, going by the flask in Qrow's hand neither of them did.
"Of course ma'am," Clover almost shouted out and quickly looked back at me, "I apologize Mr. Umbra." Well, he definitely meant it, though the apology felt as if it was more for Glynda rather than me... Oh well, what can you do?
"Cut the newbie some slack Blondie, it is his first big mission after all," Qrow finally spoke after taking the last sip from his flask and gave me a nod, "I'm Qrow Branwen, Blondie is Glynda Goodwitch and this poor fella is Specialist Clover Ebi if I remember correctly."
The other two gave nods of their own in my direction. Not to seem rude, I smiled and answered cheerily, "A pleasure I'm sure. Now, why don't we get this over with, eh? The Grimm here might leave us alone for now, but let's not try our luck."
"Right," Clover spoke as he cleared his throat, "First we would like to know why you are trying to stand against Merlot and how you obtained an Atlesian transporter."
Expected, I thought with a shrug.
Leaning against the side of the transporter I began the tale of complete bullshit I came up with, "You could say that Merlot began his studies on the combination of Grimm and humans a long time ago. He was always obsessed with improving the Human race and thought that Grimm was the way to do it. He started small, experimenting on some weak Creeps or Beowolves here and there, but of course, that wasn't enough to further his studies. After all, humans were his end goal and so it was obvious that he would need us to advance."
To be honest all of this might as well be true as I created this part of the story from the records I took from Merlot's base. The next part of the tale? Well, here the true bullshitery comes.
Ignoring the grimaces on my new allies' faces, I continued, "From what I gathered, Merlot struck some deals with Bandits tribes across Remnant to deliver him subjects for his experiments."
"I take it, you or somebody you knew, were one of the unlucky ones," Qrow asked, earning a nod from me.
"You could say that," I faked a grimace and brought out my left arm into the open. Instantly, the trio gasped as the black scaled arm and sharp claws flexed in front of them. To further the shock I uncoiled my tail from my waist and let it sneak out from under my cloak.
"As you see," I continued completely ignoring the rigid postures of the trio, "Merlot didn't leave me without a curse of my own. I was one of his early subjects that managed to survive his inhumane experiments. Experiments that changed me on the outside and inside. Oh don't get me wrong, I came out stronger from it all, but there is no day when I don't remember the years lost and all the pain I went through to get here. Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, even then Merlot decided I was a failure and threw me inside one of his secured cells to never see the light again."
Qrow and Glynda didn't show any reaction apart from their initial shock, but thankfully Clover didn't have their experience in such situations.
"I'm really sorry to hear that sir," Clover spoke, his tone as sincere as his words, "It must have been a horrible experience."
I withheld a smirk and sighed instead, at least one of them showed signs of believing me, "There is nothing to be sorry about Specialist. Life decided to throw me under the bus and let me deal with it. And just for your information this," I motioned to my left arm, "isn't contagious, so don't worry."
"How?" I raised an eyebrow at Glynda's sudden question, "How did you get out? I doubt Merlot just let you out just like that."
Of course, you had to ask about it. If there is any part that they won't believe this is it.
I nodded, "Of course he didn't, but as I said, I was his guest for a few years. Three exactly if I remember the date correctly. During this time I was mostly ignored. I think the old bastard kept me just to take some samples from me or in case he had to go back to square one. As such most of his staff didn't even know about me or just forgot over the years."
"So what, you just somehow broke out of your cell and sneaked out from his base?" Qrow questioned, his face set into a permanent frown.
I snorted, "I wish, would have probably got out much earlier if that was the case," shaking my head, I continued, "No, nothing like that. The cell was far beyond my strength to overpower. The chance to escape appeared only a few weeks ago when Merlot decided to abandon his old base and cut his losses. He probably ordered some of his people to deal with me and then clear the base. And well, that was his mistake."
Chuckling, I made a fist of my left hand, "Those fuckers thought I was another of Merlot's weak subjects that the madman just didn't kill yet. They paid the highest price for their stupidity and I got my freedom in a cleared-out base... well almost cleared."
"Seems pretty convenient," Qrow pointed out and I was a bit surprised that no one spoke about how I just pretty much admitted to killing a few humans. I guess this world really works differently.
I shrugged, "Name it however you want. I was free once again so I won't complain."
Visibly frustrated now, Qrow ran a hand through his hair, "Listen, I'm not saying that I don't believe you, but your story got holes in it. Holes that don't make it any easier to trust you. Sooo why don't we skip this part of interrogation and just focus on the aid you can offer us. After all, actions speak louder than words."
And that was why I always liked Qrow's character. He always single-handedly carried every scene he was in.
Smiling, I reached inside my cloak and brought out a single Scroll, "This little thing here has almost every record from Merlot's computers I found in the base. His many experiments, some deals he made, and what is the most important for you, notes about a certain Virus that troubles Atlas. Apart from that, it has a number that some of Merlot's goons were supposed to contact after a job in Mantle."
Reaching towards the Scroll, Clover nodded, "If this Scroll indeed has everything you just described it will definitely be a big help to stopping the breakout. If you could follow us to the Bullhead, we will check the device and then decide on what to do next."
"Ah, ah, ah. Not that fast. You didn't think that was everything I had, hmm?" I grinned and waved my hand, motioning them to follow me to the back of the transporter, "You see, on my way here I found this lovely vehicle, and wouldn't you know what I found inside."
Still grinning, I swung the doors open and watched as the trio's eyes widened considerably, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with Merlot's Virus."
Damn, I'm good.
Glynda Goodwitch really wished she had chosen a different profession in life. A merchant, police, or maybe even a normal industry worker. But no, she wanted to be a Huntress and then a teacher to show the future generations how to defend people from the cursed creatures of Grimm. Today was just another day when she cursed her ambition and Ozpin.
After all, if it wasn't for the man, she could have been a normal Huntress just doing her job. Instead of that, she was now a part of a shadow war between two immortals and a member of a group that regularly got sent on missions just like this one. Really, zombies, mutated Grimm, and now a man that claimed to have his own past with Merlot.
Damn you Ozpin.
Taking a deep breath, Glynda focused on piloting the Bullhead and snuck a glance at the man sitting next to her, "I don't trust him Qrow. Ignoring his almost outrageous story there is just something wrong with him," she gritted out and ignored when she heard Qrow taking another sip from his flask.
Just why couldn't her teammate be at least somewhat normal?
"I agree," Qrow replied, hiding his flask, "I don't doubt that he wants to get rid of Merlot, but there is more to that. People don't just randomly show up at your doorstep claiming they have a solution to your every problem. He is hiding something and for whatever reason, I feel like it won't be easy to find out what."
"And his mutations? Do you think Merlot did it? Maybe she is responsible for it," Glynda questioned as a shiver ran through her entire body at the single thought of that woman.
"I don't know Blondie, I really don't. I'm willing to trust him about the mutations even if it is just to calm my nerves," The blond-haired woman wished she could do the same, unfortunately, she always tended to overcomplicate everything in her life.
"Still, we need to be careful with him," At Glynda's raised eyebrow he elaborated, "He is a killer."
She couldn't help the snort that escaped her, "We all have blood on our hands Qrow, I thought you learned that a long time ago."
And that was the painful truth. Anyone that even thought about trying to become a Huntsman, had to remember that fighting Grimm wasn't their only job. How many times over the years a Huntsman decided to go rogue or a particularly nasty criminal ran rampant across the Kingdoms. Hundreds or even more. And normal police couldn't face those people...
No, it was the other Huntsmans that had to take care of those situations and it wasn't rare for blood to spill during confrontations. That was the way of this world and no one could do anything about it. Not when even the gods abandoned them.
"I know that Blondie," Qrow fired back, "It is just the way he speaks about killing is wrong. Hell, he didn't even mention how he probably killed some people to obtain the Virus."
Qrow had a point there, but Glynda really didn't know what the Branwen wanted her to say.
"Let it go for now, Qrow. If we are to believe at least a part of his story then Umbra's mental health might not be the best after years of being a prisoner and a test subject. Let James deal with him, because I would rather not," There, she said it as best as she could.
Next to her, Qrow snorted, "You and me both, Blondie. You and me both."
I would admit without any shame that the sight of Atlas at close range glued me to the Bullhead's window for a few minutes. Hey, it wasn't every day you witnessed one of the most advanced architectures on Remnant, so sue me. Besides, with my advanced sight, I could map the city at least a bit. After all, I was just entering the headquarters of the most powerful military on Remnant when I was technically a Grimm.
Some would call me stupid, others would call me brave, but I? I had a plan and a lot of points in luck. If there was any time that this cursed stat should work, it is now.
So please don't fuck me over at least this once, Really sometimes it felt like I was the one with Misfortune as a semblance, not Qrow...
Sighing, I dropped down on the bench in the corner of the Bullhead's storage space and looked around.
Qrow and Glynda were in the cockpit probably still trying to figure out what the hell am I and what were my true goals. Good luck with that, you would need to ask the Relic of Knowledge to find answers to those questions.
Glancing at the other person in the room, I watched as Clover studied the machine with the Virus. From time to time he noted something on his scroll, all the while smiling as if he discovered something groundbreaking.
I always thought he and the whole Ace Ops were weird, I mused with an almost silent snigger.
"The other guy called you a newbie, so how long have you been a Huntsman, a Specialist, or whatever they call you here?" I asked out of the blue. He piqued my interest a bit and the show didn't really show us much of Clover's past. Or maybe I just ignored it... Meh, whatever. At least small talk is a better way to pass the time.
"Specialists are Huntsmans that went through some additional training," Clover replied not taking his eyes off the weird machine, "And I have been one for about four months now."
"So you are part of some elite force, nice. Probably wasn't easy to get there huh?"
The younger Clover glowed at my words and finally stopped his investigation, "Indeed it wasn't. Although getting handpicked along with a few others by General Ironwood definitely helped, we all had to work hard to keep our position."
Damn this guy was really proud of his achievements. Though I couldn't really fault him. If I understood everything correctly about Atlas military, then Clover achieved one of the highest positions possible at such a young age. Good for him.
Any further conversation was stopped when the entire Bullhead shook. I grimaced, Someone really needs to work on their landing.
"I think we are here," I said dryly as I took a peek through the window and noticed the steel walls surrounding us from every side. Welp, now I really was inside the maw of the lion.
"Yes, we're. Follow us and don't try to sneak away," a male's voice spoke up behind me.
Spinning around, I nodded towards Qrow and Glynda who just exited the Bullhead's cockpit, "Don't worry, I'm here to help, nothing more."
Getting no response, I shrugged and followed the trio down the Bullhead's open ramp. If they didn't want to talk then that was fine with me. At least it gave me more time to study this place. Who knew when would be the next time I needed the layout of Atlas' military base... Hopefully not too soon.
Entering the huge hangar, I took notice of the multiple soldiers, or whoever they were, running around and messing with the various aircraft parked here. Some of them seemed pretty damaged and my mind instantly went to Atlas' current situation. Well, now I was pretty curious about the situation down in Mantle. No one from the trio wanted to even give me a piece of information.
Ungrateful fuckers, and here I'm risking my life just to solve your problems, I scowled as we entered a hallway leading deeper inside the compound.
We walked for another few minutes in complete silence, which to be honest was kinda getting on my nerves. Like I expected at least Qrow to say something. Man, did he really change that much in the span of a few years or was I really so untrustworthy? After all, the famous Qrow Brawnen wouldn't even try to take a sip from his flask or crack a joke.
Oh well, you can't have it all...
Thankfully the painful silence was broken when we arrived in front of large steel doors.
"You will have to wait for a moment here while we talk with the General," Glynda stated and then nodded to Clover, "Specialist Ebi will stay with you for the time being."
Without another word, Qrow and Glynda strolled towards the doors that instantly slid open once they were near them. I caught the glimpse of who, I was pretty sure was Ironwood and a very spacious circular room. Pretty sure they showed it in the last Volume I watched.
Once the door shut, I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes, "How long do you think we will need to wait?"
"Couldn't tell you, sir," Clover replied as my eye began to twitch, "It depends on the severity of the subject discussed and I think we both agree that this one is quite important."
True that, though if he doesn't stop calling me sir, I will punch him in the face, I almost growled out.
Instead, I went with a more friendly route, "What's with you and calling everyone sir. I'm not your superior, hell I'm practically a stranger to all of you."
The young specialist smiled, "It's a habit. After all those years of military training, it comes naturally, no matter who you are. Still, I will remember to address you by your name. Huntsman Branwen and Goodwitch had the same request."
Walking into the large circular room behind Clover I nodded towards Ironwood, "It's a pleasure to meet you, General. I hope that my assistance will be useful in your attempt to stop the Virus and Merlot."
The General, and the original trio, looked at me oddly for a moment as I finished my greeting. What, did they expect me to walk up to the most important person in Atlas and greet him like an old friend?
I would call myself eccentric, not stupid.
Clearing his throat, Ironwood extended his right hand, which I shook instantly, "It definitely will be Mr. Umbra. Now without wasting any more time I would like to know what you want in return for what you already gave us. After all, everything has a price."
Straight to the point. I like it.
"Not much General," I replied and flexed my left hand, "I just want to be there when you finally go after Merlot. The only bastard has been running rampant for too long."
Silence fell upon the room as everyone processed my words. I knew that my request was a long shot. After all, I was a complete unknown. Still, it was the best way to find Merlot without the need to sneak around like an idiot.
"You need to understand Mr. Umbra," Ironwood spoke, breaking the silence, "That I just can't allow a complete stranger on a mission that important. We don't know what you're capable of and I won't risk the safety of my soldiers."
"Then test me," I instantly fired back, "Do whatever you need to give me a chance at taking Merlot down, because trust me, one way or another I am going after him. I stopped near Atlas just to give you some much-needed aid and to maybe, just maybe, obtain some allies in my search."
Once again the room became silent, but this time I could at least see some reactions to my words.
Glynda? Nothing there apart from a slight frown. My favorite drunkard? Yep, he was back to drinking. Clover? The specialist just watched Ironwood, waiting for his response.
As for the big boss himself? Well, Ironwood stared at me as if I was the biggest mystery in the world. To be honest he was kinda creeping me out.
Just when I wanted to point out that I would like an answer soon, Ironwood decided to reply, "I will see what we can do. I can't promise you more than that. Still, you need to know that we will do everything in our power to find Merlot and put a stop to his madness. For now, though, I would like to offer you a temporary place to stay while we process everything you have given us. Maybe this time will give you a chance to rethink the reward you would like."
No, chance in hell my friend. I will just sneak out if this thing doesn't work out. I'm pretty sure I can follow you once you find Merlot.
Maybe not the best plan of action as Ironwood definitely wouldn't be happy if I intruded on his military operation, but I didn't really care. Oh, I could try to find Merlot's base on my own, but I had no chance of locating it faster than Ironwood who had an army under him. With his help instead of flying around Atlas for weeks, I could cut this time to days. Or so I hoped.
Also, who knew if the System wouldn't decide to attach some time limit to the quest all of the sudden. For now, the objective of my quest was very straightforward, and with Atlas' help, I could maybe succeed before the System decided to change it again.
Shaking my head, I cleared my mind of those thoughts and addressed the General, "I kindly accept your offer, General, but I doubt I will change my mind. Not after everything I have been through."
Ironwood nodded, "I can understand that. Now, for the time being, Specialist Ebi will be your minder. In case of any questions or problems, he is the one you should contact. Apart from that, I hope you understand that you will be under almost constant surveillance. We're grateful for your help, but you're still pretty much unknown."
I shrugged, "Of course. Only an idiot would allow someone like me a free reign inside a military base. Now could someone show me to my new quarters? It has been a few long tiring days on the road and I would like to get some rest."
"Definitely. Specialist Ebi will lead you there."
"Yes, sir," Clover saluted before nodding towards me, "Please follow me."
With nothing else to be said, I did just that and continued to walk deeper and deeper inside the high-security military base.
What did you get yourself into again, I mused with an almost unnoticeable shake of my head.
"You are finally here Specialist, good. Do you have anything to report about Umbra after two days of surveillance?" Ironwood questioned as one of his best marched inside his office. Thankfully this time he wasn't late.
"Not much sir," Clover reported, his posture straight and perfect, just like they trained them, "He mostly stayed inside his room only going out a few times to take care of his natural needs. Sometimes he tried to talk with the guards on duty, but he was mostly ignored."
Just as expected, Ironwood hummed. To be honest the General expected the man to ask to be let out some distance away from Atlas so he could go hunting Merlot alone. It seemed that James was wrong and Umbra really hoped that he would let the stranger into a military operation.
Ironwood still wondered if maybe he could use Umbra's request somehow, but for now, he only had a few very bad ideas. Hopefully, the rest of Clover's report would help him decide.
"And what did you manage to find out during your talks with Umbra?"
"Again, not much, sir," Clover instantly replied, "As ordered, I tried to fish around for information about his past, but I only managed to find out a few not really important facts. He lives somewhere near Vale, doesn't have any family and he stays away from any civilization."
Not much indeed, Ironwood frowned. He really would love to know more about their mysterious guest as just like Qrow and Glynda he didn't believe the entirety of Umbra's story. There were just too many holes and inconsistencies in it.
"Sir, if I may," Clover interrupted Ironwood's musing, "What are the current situation and the plan of action?"
"We are moving forward Specialist. Umbra's information provided our scientists with enough information that the Virus should be a thing of the past in a week," Ironwood answered honestly.
It definitely took the weight off James' shoulders when his scientists informed him of the progress towards the possible cure. Ironwood never expected such news. A vaccine against the Virus yes, but a cure? No, that was beyond any of his expectations.
"And Merlot?" Clover questioned again.
Here James let out a deep sigh, "Qrow managed to infiltrate the traitor's house unnoticed and infect his Scroll. Now we are just waiting for the bastard to slip and contact Merlot, after that we are going in. Soon Merlot will answer for his crimes."
The answer definitely satiated the Specialist's curiosity, but Ironwood could see from the slight frown that Clover still had something to say.
"What is it, Clover? Out with it."
Noticing that he somehow gave his thoughts away, Clover straightened up, "I was wondering sir what do you plan to do about Umbra when we finally find Merlot. He doesn't look like he will back down from his request anytime soon."
"I'm well aware of that," Ironwood dragged a hand across his face, "I will probably regret it, but I am ready to send him into Merlot's hideout first. You, Qrow, Glynda will follow him, and an entire squad will be at the ready just in case something goes wrong. I'm well aware that it's not the best idea, but if Umbra really wants to do it then in the worst case, we will get rid of a certain flight risk."
Clover visibly gulped, "Of course, sir... Is there anything else you need from me?"
"Yes Clover," Ironwood nodded, "Bring Umbra to the simulation room. It's high time we find out how he even managed to get here alive."
And that's it for today's chapter.
Once again I thought we would be finishing this arc today and well, I failed again. It is just that I wanted to flesh out the characters, show more of the thoughts of people around Umbra and how they react to his appearance.
At least in the next chapter, I don't have any more interactions to write as we will be getting straight into Umbra fighting against who knows what, and then they will be instantly going after Merlot. Well, almost instantly.
So yeah sorry for the last of action and the delay for eh chapter again, but I just have a lot to deal with nowadays.
Have a good night/day everyone and I hope to see you in the next chapter or on discord.