A/N: This is a little oneshot I made for Noble4259 for his arkos oneshot collection.
"Oh god…. oh god oh god oh god oh god," Jaune quietly whimpered as he huddled down as far down in cover as he could.
It all went to hell so quickly. It was just supposed to be a routine evening patrol, but they got ambushed. The White Fang assault was brutal and Jaune ended up getting separated from his unit. The sun had set long ago, leaving the only source of light the full moon and the flashlights of the White Fang soldiers searching for him. He didn't know where he was anymore. He was now lost and alone in the jungle
Worse still, his rifle was jammed and he couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. He was completely defenseless.
"Thought I heard something over here!" He heard someone shout. Beams from flashlights started shining through the shrubbery towards his direction. Jaune gasped as he dove into a bush. The lights grew brighter and the footsteps grew louder. He could now see the boots of multiple White Fang soldiers near him.
He dug down further and clutched his broken gun. He shut his eyes tight and bit his lip to suppress his shuttering, counting down the seconds until he's found and executed. 'I have to make a run for it,' he thought. It was suicidal, but so was staying here.
Right as he was about to push himself up, someone pressed themselves on his back and put a hand over his mouth to muffle his startled cry.
"Wait," a feminine voice said quietly. Jaune felt himself freezing at her words despite his rising fear. Jaune heard his heart pounding as White Fang soldiers walked literal inches away from his face. Yet, they somehow never noticed him, and the patrol eventually left. His savior waited several minutes before taking her hand off his mouth.
"They're gone, it's safe now," she said as she got off of him. Jaune rolled over and crawled out of the bush. He was met with the sight of a woman around his age, with luxurious red hair and the friendliest green eyes he's ever seen. "Don't worry soldier, I'm here. If the Fang wants to tango, now they'll have two to dodge." She reached a hand out to him.
"Thanks a lot," he accepted the hand and she helped him up. "Seriously, thank you. I'm Jaune Arc, Private First Class."
"Nice to meet you Jaune," she smiled warmly at him. "My name is Pyrrha Nikos, but the lads back at base call me Camouflage."
"Camouflage?" he asked. She nodded. "Why are you called that?"
"It's because… is your rifle jammed or are you out of ammo?" She pointed to his gun.
"Uh… jammed," he replied. "I didn't have time to try and fix it."
"Here, let me try," she took the gun from him and started working it. "Anyway, I got the nickname Camouflage because, well… hmm, how do I put this… like camouflage, things are never quite the way they seem. Does that make sense?"
"Somewhat yeah, I get it," he said. He didn't get it, but he didn't ponder further. He knew nicknames can come from the smallest and stupidest of things and didn't make sense half the time.
"And...there," Pyrrha ejected and reinserted the magazine and cocked the gun. "All fixed."
"Wow, thank you. What was wrong with it?"
"It was a-" her head suddenly took a serious look as it snapped to the side. Jaune brought up his rifle as they simultaneously crouched. They heard footsteps fast approaching.
"That's a lot of them," Jaune whispered worryingly.
"We might have to fight through them," Pyrrha upholstered a knife.
Jaune felt his gut knot. Even with two of them, the odds of them surviving was still a long shot. The rifle shook in his hands, but stopped when he felt Pyrrha put a hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw a fire in her eyes. It was strange, but suddenly Jaune forgot his fear and was filled with determination.
"We got this," Pyrrha squeezed his shoulder and withdrew her hand. "We'll do a tactical withdrawal. Fight and pull back. I'll make sure you're clear."
"But, what about you?" he asked. Pyrrha just smirked.
"They call me Camouflage for another reason. Don't worry if you don't see me, I have your back." Pyrrha got up and disappeared behind more shrubbery. She was completely gone and it threw Jaune off just enough for him not to notice the enemy soldier until she came up in front of him.
"He's-" was all she had time to gasp before Jaune shot her dead. He quickly retreated as the other White Fang soldiers shouted and fired where they thought he was or would be.
With newfound vigor from Pyrrha, Jaune's fear was almost non-existent as he fought and retreated repeatedly. He would take cover and shoot at White Fang soldiers he saw or where he suspected they were before falling back.
While he was reloading, he saw a White Fang trooper charge at him with a bayonet. He was then swiftly dragged into a bush and his startled cries were quickly and suddenly cut off. Pyrrha then ran out of that very bush, still armed with only her knife, and dove among more foliage. Jaune couldn't help but let out a single chuckle. She really was good.
Several times throughout the fighting, Jaune would see White Fang soldiers shoot directly at Pyrrha or at the where she was seeking cover. To his astonishment, Pyrrha was not hit once. She kept on running and gunning, or stabbing in this case, without stumbling once. It was like the bullets were going right through her, just as if she wasn't there. Jaune realized just how lucky he was to have her by his side.
After hours of running and gunning, they lost the White Fang force. They took a moment to catch their breath.
"I don't believe it, we're still alive," Jaune said.
"So you've said a hundred times already," Pyrrha smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. "I told you we'd be alright."
"Yeah..." he still had trouble believing it. "Still thank you. You're amazing out there. You're like some… war goddess or something." She smiled at the compliment which caused him to blush, she really was cute. "Like, I swore I saw you get shot several times, yet you're perfectly fine."
"...well, it's like I said before, with camouflage things are never quite the way they seem," she said, her smile slightly faltering. Jaune didn't notice it.
"Yeah, I guess you're right," he said, understanding her nickname a little bit more. He supposed his mind was playing tricks on him. It was dark and the jungle was thick, the bullets mostly likely just missed or hit thick foliage that was in the way.
They eventually got back up and started heading back to base, at least they assumed they were heading in the right direction. The sun started to rise and turned the black sky orange. They hurried their pace, if they can start seeing clearly then so can their enemy. Even though they lost them, the chance of there being more White Fang soldiers in the area was still a chance too high.
"Wait," Pyrrha crouched and held a fist up. Jaune crouched next to her. "Do you hear that?"
"Sounds like running water," Jaune said. "Wait, I think that's the Jade River." He took point until they reached the edge of a clearing. "I knew it, it is the Jade River, I even recognize that curved indent in the river bank. We're by the rapids." He couldn't hide his excitement.
"I'm not too familiar with this part of the jungle. I'm assuming this means we're close to the base?" Pyrrha asked.
"Indeed it does. Well, not close, but not far," Jaune explained. "We'll probably get back to base in an hour, maybe just a little over."
"I haven't noticed any signs of the enemy for a long time. I think we can afford another short break," Pyrrha said.
"Oh thank God," Jaune wiped the sweat from his forehead. "I don't know how you can keep doing this."
"I'm MAC-SOG," Pyrrha said. She rolled up her sleeve up to her shoulder to show off her tattoo of an angry skull with a beret biting a knife.
"Holy shit, you're spec-ops?" Jaune gasped as he looked at her tattoo.
"Yep," Pyrrha smiled and flexed her muscles to show off. "You can touch it if you want." Jaune did so and gripped one of her arms. It was weird. He could feel her firm muscles that filled him with envy, but at the same time, there was no warmth to her skin that one would normally feel. "I meant my tattoo, silly."
"...oh... sorry," Jaune blushed and Pyrrha giggled again. "Uh… mind if I go to the river and wash some of this sweat off me?"
"Sure' I'll cover you," Pyrrha noded, and Jaune went to the river.
As he took off his helmet and washed his face, he had a certain thought about Pyrrha. Jaune's skin and uniform were dirty and his face was covered in sweat, yet Pyrrha was perfectly fine. She was just as clean as a recruit out of the showers. 'How does she do it?' he wondered. 'Must be the special ops training… or something,' he rationalized in thought. Feeling slightly refreshed, he wiped the excess water from his face and went to put his helmet back on his head.
"Jaune!" Pyrrha screeched. Not even a moment later, a crack filled the air and his helmet went flying out of his hands with a big new hole in it. He barely had time to scream as rifle and machine-gun rained down upon him.
"Pyrrha!" Jaune called out. He tried to raise up over the bank and fire but hunkered back down as a grenade sent dirty into the air and rain down on him. "Pyrrha!" He called again but got no response. Was she… another grenade explosion through him out of his thoughts. "Bastards!"
He stood up and fired wildly at the tree line. He ducked back down to dodge incoming fire and to reload before firing again. Each time he stood up, he kept an eye out for Pyrrha, but she was nowhere to be seen.
As he reloaded and was about to stand back up, time seemed to slow down as his eye caught something. A grenade was in the air and was coming straight for him. He wouldn't be able to run away in time and there's be no cover from the explosion and shrapnel.
As the dread of his death started to set in, Pyrrha ran in from nowhere and jumped and spun around. She smacked the grenade out of the air with her hand, just like it was a fly. Her momentum made her face him, and when she landed on him she covered him as best as she could on reflex, shielding him from falling dirt from the explosion.
"Pyrrha!" He could almost hug her, but she pulled away and dragged him up against the river bed.
"You ok?" she handed him his rifle.
"Yeah," he lied as he cocked his gun. "Now what?" He flinched as more bullets kicked more dirt on him. He watched Pyrrha look up from the bank, down to the river. "Pyrrha?" Another grenade exploded close by. "Pyrrha, what do we do?!" Pyrrha still ignored him. Panic was starting to set it.
"We can't fight them," Pyrrha eventually stated. Before the true meaning of those words could set in, he felt her grab his shoulders and stare intensely into his eyes. "What you're going to do, is you're going to swim down the river to safety while I distract them."
"What?! Pyrrha are you out of your mind?!" Jaune shouted. "No, I- no, I can't just leave you behind like that!"
"Yes you can," she replied sternly.
"No, not after you saved my life back there! I won't abandon you!"
Pyrrha seemed to consider his words for a moment before gripping his shoulders tight. "Don't deny me this." Before he could retort, she hefted him up and threw him into the river. It was several seconds before he managed to resurface above the water.
"Pyrrha!" He had enough time to see her hop over the riverbank before the rough water dragged him back down. It was a struggle for Jaune to try and stay afloat, he was under the water more than he was above it.
After some time he was able to grab onto a rock on a river bed and pull himself out and crawl out of the river. He traveled a long way, but he could still see the curved indent far in the distance. He couldn't hear or see any more fighting. Which either meant he was too far to hear or see, or…
"Pyrrha… I'm sorry. I'm… damnit!" He pounded a fist into the mud below him. He forced himself up and continued the trek back to base. "It's not fair!" He punched a tree in rage but kept walking slowly. Almost an hour later, his thoughts were still occupied with Pyrrha's sacrifice. It was his fault. If he didn't want to stop just to splash his face with water then they wouldn't have been ambushed like that, or they wouldn't have gotten pinned down like that. She would-
He heard rustling nearby and snapped his weapon. "Who's there?" He called out and got no response. He took a few cautious steps forward when suddenly he was grabbed from behind and put back against a tree. His instincts of striking back halted when he was met with a familiar pair of friendly green eyes and a warm smile.
"Pyrrha!" He couldn't help himself when he lunged forward and held her in a tight hug. "You're ok!"
Pyrrha could help but smile and hug him back. "Yes, I am. I'm sorry about what I did earlier."
"No no, it's ok. Just..." he pulled away from the hug. "How did you get out of there? I thought you were dead."
"It's… a long story. I'll be more than happy to tell it when we get to safety," she said. Jaune wanted to refute but didn't argue with her. He was just happy she was ok.
After some more trekking, he went through a clearing and the base was in sight. "There it is. We finally made it."
"Yes we have, I told you we'd got this," Pyrrha said. "Jaune, you go in, I'll... stay out here a bit longer, to make sure we weren't followed."
"Ok, that makes sense, ok. I'll see you later Pyrrha." Jaune walked forward before pausing to look back. Pyrrha was already gone, camouflaged with the jungle. He just let out a chuckle and continued forward.
Once he entered the gate, he was taken to a medic tent to get a look over before he headed to the commander's office for a debriefing. He retold his tale to Captain James Ironwood and Lieutenant Clover Ebi as best he could.
"-but as they approached, another soldier, not from my unit, came up behind me and helped me remain undetected."
"We didn't have any other units in that area," Ironwood said. "Who was this other soldier?"
"Pyrrha Nikos," Jaune said.
"Pyrrha Nikos," Jaune repeated. "She's spec-ops, said she went by the nickname 'Camouflage'." At this Ironwood and Ebi shared a concerned look with one another. "Uh, sirs?"
"Jaune I think you need to come with me," Clover walked next to Jaune and grabbed his arm. He led Jaune outside and took him into the green tent on the right.
"Lieutenant, what's this about?" Jaune asked. "I'm not lying to you guys. I-"
"It's not that," Clover said. "We believe you're telling the truth, but… see for yourself." They stopped in front of a bed. There was a half-open occupied body bag on top. Jaune gasped when he saw who it was.
"P-Pyrrha?" He rushed to the side of the bed. "No, no, it can't be," he uttered in denial. He gripped her hand and felt no warmth. She was dead.
"This here is Sergeant Pyrrha Nikos, and she's been here since she passed away last night," Clover said. "In fact, she was here for most of yesterday afternoon as well."
"B-but… last… last night… it… it can't be… it..." Jaune collapsed and thankfully there was a folding chair behind him. It couldn't be… it just…
"But the thing is," Clover continued, "before she died she said 'Semper Fi' and that her final wish was to save a young trooper caught in a barrage. Take it what you will."
Jaune was in a state of silent shock. His mind had trouble comprehending it. Pyrrha saved him, but it wasn't really her. It was a phantom. That answered but asked so many questions.
"Arc," Clover took something out of his pocket and held it out. "Her dog tags. I'm not a spiritual man, but I know she'd want you to have them now." It was a sign of respect and comradeship to accept one's tags. Jaune gratefully accepted them and Clover left him be.
Jaune stayed there by her side for a good long while. It was only when a corpsman came to take the body away that he left, but before he did he asked for a minute alone with her.
"Pyrrha..." he thought about what he wanted to say, but the words died in his throat. "... just..." he gripped her hand and held it tight. "Thank you. Thank you for saving me. I'm just sorry you couldn't be here as well." Soon after, her body was taken away for proper burial.
Jaune would spend many more months patrolling that area of jungle, and almost every time he would be in combat with White Fang soldiers. But, whenever he was under heavy fire, surrounded, or cut off, he was never afraid. Whenever fear started to dwell up inside him, someone who wasn't really there would put their hand on his shoulder, he'd see the fire of invisible green eyes, and feel the phantom warmth of her smile.
Jaune Arc had Camouflage on his side, and with her things were never quite the way they seemed.
A/N: And there we go.
In case you couldn't figure it out, this fic is based on a song by the same name, Camouflage. The original is by Stan Ridgway in 1986 and Sabaton did a cover of it in 2016. Both are really good and I encourage you to give them a listen to.
Thank you for reading, have a good day :)