Been a while. Around 3 months without any updates even.
If you didn't know, I was on Hiatus at that time as I didn't really find enjoyment in uploading anymore. I still loved writing and wrote a lot in my free time even then, but the lack of feedback weighed on my mind for a while and I thought it wasn't really worth it to upload anything, so I stopped. Might sound like whining, but it's honestly tough to keep going when there are barely any interactions for stuff I put my heart and soul into. I hope you at least understand this.
Am I better now? Oh yeah, significantly. Am I back though? Ehhh I don't want to get your hopes up and say 'yes', but we'll see. I only uploaded this chapter because I hit a new milestone. 8k followers on FFN is pretty damn big, so I thought I'd show my appreciation. While I enjoy genuine and good reviews ten times more than random numbers, it means a lot. So thanks.
That's all I wanted to say really. Don't expect more chapters soon, but don't be all that pessimistic either. I might upload something tomorrow out of excitement.
Enjoy the chapter.
– Qrow –
"Hey, Qrow." The kid finally started as he approached the older huntsman. "You doing alright?"
"Hanging in there." Qrow shrugged, staring at the setting sun from his sun lounger. "Almost forgot how peaceful it is inside a city. Feels kinda wrong."
"Heh, yeah. I'm kind of the opposite, though." Reid responded. "I can barely remember what it's like fighting out there, clearing Grimm nests or whatever."
"You know most of what I do is just intel gathering, right?" Qrow glanced at him. "I don't look for Grimm like other hunters."
"Yeah, but you still get to fight." Reid sighed. "I feel kind of caged, y'know? I have so many responsibilities that I can't even go on regular missions. It's either training the girls, experimenting with magic, or taking care of the company. "
"You don't like being a businessman?"
"Ehhh I mean, seeing the numbers only go up feels pretty damn good." He shrugged. "But it's also pretty boring having to deal with all the other bullshit to make that happen. Though, I do have an exciting meeting today."
"Oh?" Qrow raised a brow in interest. "With who?"
"Menagerie representatives. Kali Belladonna and Sienna Khan." He answered, surprising the older man.
"You want to trade with the White Fang?" The Huntsman narrowed his eyes. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Don't worry, I know what I'm doing," A cocky smirk appeared on his face. "If everything turns out well, expect a huge drop in White Fang attacks."
Oh, it's this damned grin again. He has some secret weapon for the meeting that's either going to go horribly fucking wrong, or it'll work perfectly without a hitch. No in-between. That look means he's going to be doing something insane again.
"You realize getting them to stop targeting the SDC is impossible, right?" Qrow said.
"You're gonna look so stupid once I'm done with the meeting."
Qrow wasn't sure he liked how casual Reid's response was, but he knew the asshole won't give him any kind of explanation for what he was planning, so he just settled for the next best thing, even though he knew he was going to be ignored.
"Don't worry, I got this."
Qrow sure hoped so.
"So how's Haki training going?" Reid changed the subject. "I hear you're having trouble."
"Yeah…" Qrow sighed, sitting up. "I don't think it's for me."
"But you haven't–"
"I have tried, kid. I tried really hard." He cut Reid off. "But it's just not working, and you know? That's fine with me."
And it really was. Qrow wasn't that hung up about it– he didn't necessarily need this power to function. He's been doing just fine for over twenty years, foiling every single assassination/kidnapping attempt by Salem and her goons. He wasn't gonna keel over any time soon.
Even if Salem's gonna stop messing around, all Qrow had to do is be a little more careful than usual. Besides, she wasn't going to focus on him. In the grand scheme of things, Qrow was nothing compared to the actual powerhouses like Ozpin and the Titan Slayer. Reid himself said it too.
She could throw Grimm after Grimm at him, and he'd handle all of them. He might've not helped that much, but Qrow survived two Titan encounters, after all. He'd seen the worst of the worst compared to most hunters.
"Not everything has to work out." Qrow continued, standing up from his seat to address the Titan Slayer properly. "Sometimes, you have to accept the hand you're dealt and move on."
"Yeah, but I mean…" Reid trailed off, struggling to argue. "I don't want you getting hurt out there. That's all."
"And I appreciate the sentiment, kid. I really do." Qrow smiled slightly, patting him on the shoulder. "You don't have to waste so much time on me, though. Not when you have a million other things you have to take care of."
"I'm at my limit, Reid." The huntsman insisted. "There isn't much I can do. Put that energy into training Ruby and Yang instead. They're young, eager to learn, and way better off than me."
Reid had a crestfallen expression on his face for a split second before it disappeared just as quickly. Qrow noticed, though, and had to hide his own guilt from the kid. He knew this decision was going to hurt him, but he didn't want Reid to cultivate something that'd give barely any returns.
Qrow was already past his prime. He was old and had learned everything he could. Unless he wanted to disappear into the mountains to meditate and train for several decades to unlock his Aura's full potential, he wasn't going to be doing much.
"Knowing you had so much faith in me means the world to me, kid," Qrow said, patting his surrogate little brother on the shoulder again. "I'm sorry for disappointing you."
The moment Qrow tried walking away, Reid grabbed him by the arm.
"Wait. Listen." He said. "I… might be able to help somehow."
"Let me finish." Reid cut him off. "All I want from you is approval."
"What?" He turned to look at the younger huntsman. "What do you mean by that?"
"Just trust me on this, Qrow." He insisted. "What I'm about to do might be a bit unpleasant, but I promise you it'll help."
The older huntsman paused, studying Reid's face as he continued to persist.
"If it doesn't work, then I'll let it go."
"Fine, fine." Qrow sighed. "So what is it, then?"
"I just want you to keep one thing in mind as I do this," Reid said. "Focus only on Haki. No matter how bad it gets, just think about bringing it out. You have to work with me here, Qrow."
"Okay…" Qrow furrowed his brows. "What do you mean by 'no matter how bad it gets'?"
Reid remained silent for a moment as his eyes glowed red, strange patterns spinning at a rapid pace. The moment he made eye contact, Qrow froze, losing his ability to breathe as he fell to his knees. He gasped and panted, trying so very hard to take one breath, but failing miserably.
The skies darkened with a crimson tint and the sands turned gray. The once blue ocean turned bloody red as Qrow felt the unbearable pressure try to crush his body. It got so bad he began clawing at his neck. He didn't know what exactly was happening, nor did he know what caused it, but whatever it was, it was going to kill him if he didn't do something.
As Qrow kept trying to take a single breath, he saw a giant, shadowy figure raising a giant blade right in front of him. Was it this? Was this some kind of Grimm? He couldn't see it very well, but it wanted to decapitate him, so it certainly wasn't friendly.
He tried to dodge the incoming blow as the blade slowly descended on him, but his legs refused to move an inch. With how difficult it was to breathe, and how much oxygen he'd already lost, Qrow could barely do anything. It was gonna hit him, and he was certain a single hit from that thing would go cleanly through his aura and kill him instantly. Was this how he would die?
That's when he remembered the kid's words. If he could manifest it here, he could defend himself from this thing for at least one blow, but that'd give him more time to think over his options and maybe find a way out of this mess. He didn't even remember what he was doing before this, only Reid telling him to focus on Haki for whatever reason.
So he did, doing whatever he could to 'will it into existence' as the kid put it, bringing up both arms above his head as he closed his eyes shut. Every inch of him screamed at this power to manifest and protect him from danger.
He didn't know what took the thing so long to attack, but Qrow suddenly could breathe again, prompting him to gasp as his eyes shot wide open. He looked around and realized that everything was back to normal– normal beach, normal skies, and Reid right there grinning like a lunatic.
"You did it!" Reid exclaimed, making him flinch. "Fuck yes, I knew it would work!"
"What are you–"
That's when Qrow noticed the black metallic spot on his arm, his eyes widening in shock even further. His gaze was fixated on it until it slowly disappeared. For good measure, Qrow tried to do it again, and lo and behold, it worked.
"I-I can do it."
"Hell yeah, you can!" Reid said, more excited than him for some reason. "See? I told you you shouldn't give up! Turns out you just needed a little push."
"I- yeah, I guess–" Qrow then froze as he remembered whatever the fuck that was. "Wait, what the hell did you do to me?!"
"I cast an illusion." He answered casually.
"You can cast illusions?!"
"Yeah." He nodded. "Also, you can't be mad at me. I asked for consent."
"I didn't even know what I was consenting for." Qrow groaned. In hindsight, though, that was on him. "Don't you ever do that to me again, alright? Fuck…"
"Hey, it worked." Reid shrugged and smirked.
Qrow stared at him with an annoyed look before sighing deeply. He couldn't be mad at him, not even if he wanted to. Honestly, even the joy of finally being able to do Haki was overshadowed by whatever the fuck the kid did to him. That was horrible.
…Still, he very much appreciated it. Now he got what willing it into existence meant. They were right, the feeling was inexplicable.
"Now you get to practice this for at least one more month," Reid said. "Trust me, it's a hundred times easier now that you got the hang of it."
"I'll teach you Observation next, and since you know what Haki feels like, you'll know how to do it pretty quickly." He checked his watch. "I gotta go now, though. My meeting is in a few hours. See you later!"
With that, Reid used his fire magic to propel himself away, flying over to the main city in a blue light. Qrow rubbed the back of his neck as he looked down at the black spot on his arm. Well, at least he has something to do now.
…So the kid also had illusion magic.
Of course he fucking did.
– Reid Astera –
That was a risk, and I'm so glad that it paid off. I don't think Qrow would've appreciated being Genjutsu'd if there was nothing to gain from it. I really didn't want to do it either, but it was this or risk Qrow being targeted by actual threats. I trust him to handle it, but Tyrian is still out there, and nobody knows what Salem did to upgrade him. Always better to assume the worst and be overprepared than to have one of my closest allies die.
This also proves that the people here can learn Haki. I still wasn't sure even though Kiryu pulled it off, because Kiryu isn't a native to Remnant like everyone else here. Now I know for sure the girls can do it, and I'm really looking forward to seeing who can manifest conqueror's. At least one of them will be able to do it, I'm sure.
I can think of ways to awaken it later. I honestly don't want to resort to illusions again.
I gave them a day off today since I didn't want them to work too hard, and that rest days are important regardless of how many potions they can drink, so most of the girls went out since I was still busy with the company and meeting.
I know I shouldn't be, but I'm kind of nervous. I have the biggest advantage known to man in this meeting by being the most powerful Titan Slayer in history and the inventor of potions, but I know that's not enough to get Sienna to pull back because of SDC and Dust, so to counter that, I may have to do something incredibly reckless.
Once I discussed it with Velvet and Ozpin, both showed genuine concern. They also saw the benefits if it works, though, so they didn't try to stop me. The latter did think I was bold enough for the plan to succeed, and I'm confident too.
Watching the bullhead landing on the pad, I watch as the door opens and the two women walk out toward us, led by several guards. Sienna is wearing armor, feeling anxious and on guard, and a more relaxed Kali, garbed in a black dress, walks beside her, smiling at me from a distance.
"The paperwork was quite painful, you know," Ozpin says suddenly as we wait for them. "Not to mention getting the rest of the council on board with this plan. If not for your efforts and achievements, they would've laughed at the notion."
"It'll be worth it, I promise," I respond. "If we can deal with the White Fang without resorting to violence, then that should be the option we take."
"I'm not arguing with the idea. I believe in it and I trust you to deliver." Ozpin says. "I can't say I feel the same for her, though."
"Don't underestimate her, Oz," I mutter, smiling politely at the White Fang leaders. "She can easily handle something like this."
Plus, I talked with her and she showed interest and enthusiasm for the plan. She's got this.
"Hello and welcome to Vale, ladies." I greet Kali and Sienna. "I'm very glad you accepted my invitation."
"Oh please, the honor is ours," Kali responds, bowing respectfully. "I must say you gave us quite the scare, though. It wasn't something anyone expected."
"The same could be said here, Ms. Belladonna," Ozpin replies. "Sir Astera's decision was certainly surprising to me and the Vale Council."
Sir? Wait, do I have more authority than Ozpin now? Well, I mean, I'm the pseudo-King of Vale right now, so I guess that makes sense. He never called me that before, though, and not gonna lie, it feels fucking great.
"I just think there's a huge opportunity where everyone can benefit." I quip casually. "Now if you'll all follow me, I'll lead you to the meeting room."
The two women follow us into my tower and I get a better feel of their emotions. Sienna didn't say a single thing yet, but she seems incredibly reserved and cautious. My rep with her is positive, but she doesn't trust me yet, and that's understandable. She's giving me the benefit of the doubt, and nothing more than that.
Kali is cautious, but not as much. She trusts me enough to think that Menagerie could benefit significantly from this endeavor and is willing to be helpful. Probably. I'm going to make a guess and assume that Sienna initially wanted to decline the invitation, but was convinced by Kali to accept—just a hunch.
Of course, I would've been weirded out to not see Ghira here had I not done some research earlier today, but I guess it should've been obvious seeing how I got no rep points with him at all no matter what I did.
He's dead. Killed in the chaos after a particular peaceful protest went wrong around ten years ago. I'm so glad I didn't ask anybody about him and looked it up instead. That could've made me look like a fucking moron.
From the several forums I looked up, most think that he was very obviously assassinated, and it's a ploy by the SDC, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Just that he died from a 'freak accident', which is just dumb, because from what I remember, Ghira knew how to fight and had his Aura unlocked.
It'd be highly unlikely for him to die from an 'accident'. Assassination, however, can happen easily. If that's the case, then the amount of patience Blake had for Weiss is very admirable. I don't think I'd be able to do the same if it happened to me. I wouldn't be anywhere near as reasonable.
Then again, I don't know what it feels like to lose someone close to you, and I'll keep it that way no matter what I have to do. Another change I could've easily missed If I hadn't been careful. I knew keeping an open mind and not fully relying on canon knowledge was a good idea.
Weirdly though, I haven't seen a single mention of Blake in all the reports and forums I read. Was she not known like her parents? Did they keep her birth a secret? I guess that'd make sense if they planned to protect her from assassins or kidnappers and whatnot.
"I would've shown you around Vale some more, but–" I start as we enter the elevator leading to my office.
"Oh no, we understand." Kali waves it off, glancing at her partner. "I think our presence could lead to some… well, misunderstandings."
"That's fair," I reply.
"I must say though, Vale looks quite different from what I remember." She continues the conversation, looking at Ozpin. "You've taken care of it well I see."
"Certainly, but I couldn't have done it without my colleagues. I'm only the headmaster of Beacon, after all." Ozpin states. "Admittedly though, Atlas and General Ironwood have been most generous by sharing most of their technology."
Sienna twitches at that and I sense her annoyance flaring at the mention of Atlas.
"And with Sir Astera's contributions with his business, Vale will surely continue to grow from here." He adds. "His potions were quite the blessing to our people."
"Hopefully that goodwill can be shared with Menagerie," Kali responds.
"That's the plan, Miss," I say as the elevator door opens. "Ladies first."
Sienna doesn't react but Kali chuckles as they walk out, facing Velvet, who was at the door leading to the meeting room. The bunny Faunus bows slightly and opens the door to them, leading them in. I notice Sienna's gaze linger on my secretary before going inside.
She's… unexpectedly quiet to be honest. I thought she'd throw a comment or two, but she's been dead silent and it's kinda making me nervous now.
You underestimate how imposing you look to them.
What, like politically?
Oh. Well, I am pretty damn big.
…How tall, though?
Jesus. Am I still growing? Man, can't wait till I'm seven feet or something ridiculous like that. Gonna have to make bigger doors.
As the ladies take their seats next to each other, I and Oz sit on the opposite side with Velvet standing behind me, holding a binder.
"So then, I'll cut to the chase since I doubt any of us would want to waste time." I start. "But how do you feel about letting me open a few stores in Menagerie?"
"That depends, of course." Sienna finally speaks up, her tone reserved and calm. "I'm sure you're not offering something like this only for returns, otherwise you would've made the offer to Atlas first."
"Why would you think that?" I raise a brow.
"Menagerie isn't wealthy." She answers bluntly. "And international hero or not, you're not just doing this to help others."
"Oh?" I smile slightly. "But why wouldn't I? That's ultimately my job at the end of the day. To make the world a better place."
"Because you said this was an opportunity where 'everyone' benefits." She says. "However, doing this only out of goodwill means you won't benefit, thus contradicting yourself earlier."
She's really fucking sharp. Goddamn, I'm actually impressed.
"You're right, I definitely want something out of it," I confirm. I wasn't planning to lie in the first place. "Well, two things. First, I want to be given full permission to explore the deserts beyond the jungle, as well as full permission to excavate and search for materials."
The two leaders remain silent, waiting for me to resume.
"In return, I'll open stores all around Menagerie, and give free healing potions to the hospital for the injured." I continue, raising my hand to signal for Velvet to give me the binder. "The prices will be the same as everywhere else, and all requirements will be enforced as well. All the information needed can be found here."
I hand it to Kali and give her a moment to read it, and she nods after a moment.
"Sounds reasonable. That can be done." She says as she turns to look at me. "And your second request?"
I lean forward and try to be as calm as I can be. Well, I am calm, but I want to show it, which is a lot harder than you'd think as the next few words come out of my mouth.
"I want you to pull every detachment you've deployed back to Menagerie," I say seriously. "Effectively stopping all your operations."
Kali nearly flinches in shock but manages to keep calm. Sienna, however, scowls deeply at that.
"Forget it." She scoffs. "We will not submit to you humans, not again."
"I'm not telling you to submit," I argue. "I'm saying we shouldn't sacrifice more than we have to."
"And let you and your kind walk all over us?" She growls, getting angrier. "Did you seriously bring me here to make a mockery of Faunuskind?"
"Ms. Khan, you can't possibly think the other kingdoms will allow Sir Astera to supply the White Fang, a terrorist organization, with potions." Ozpin assists, arguing for my sake. "The Titan Slayer has invited you here in hopes of peacefully preventing any more unnecessary deaths caused by this war."
"So now you offer peace? Once you've finally felt what it's like to be discriminated against? Not when my people have been slaughtered, abused, and enslaved? Not when we begged for our equal rights?" I can sense her hatred and anger flaring more with every word she utters. "You humans never cared about peace, only supremacy and superiority. The only way you learn is through violence and wars."
"To what end?" I ask, making her look at me with a glare. "We're gonna keep up this cycle until one of us is wiped out? Is that what you're hoping for?"
"Oh spare me the lecture. You are in no position to be spouting this 'cycle of hatred' bullshit." She deflects. "We've tried peace and understanding, and where did that get us? Sent to an infested continent, left to fend for ourselves."
"We are not defending or denying what previous generations did," Ozpin argues. "We are trying to be better, Ms. Khan. To stop this senseless violence before more people are killed."
"Senseless?! You're the ones who started senselessly enslaving and killing my kind!" She gets up from her seat and snarls at Ozpin. "You've robbed kids of their parents, wives of their husbands! How dare you call our retaliation senseless when you began these pointless wars in the first place?!"
As the urge to put her in her place flares within me, a flash of memory resurfaces. A pair of parent and child I found in one of Pig Emperor's auctions. The dad was drugged and attacked me, and in a moment of clarity, I only knocked him out to get the drug out of his system.
I don't know what I would've done had I killed him, especially when the boy was in the same room as us.
I sense sadness and sorrow from Kali, regardless of how relaxed she looks, which calms me down very quickly, but it also strengthens my conviction.
"You have every right to retaliate, Sienna. I don't actually disagree with that. The anger you're feeling is justified." I say, surprising everyone in the meeting room. "But the way you're going about it? I can't let it continue."
"So what? You want to stop me?"
"I want to help you," I respond. "But it's my responsibility as the Hero of Vale and the Titan Slayer to protect the innocent. The innocent your organization dragged into this conflict."
Sienna pauses as she lets me continue, and I feel Kali's interest as well.
"Fighting for your kind and defending them from the unfairness of the world is a noble cause. It's something I admire." I state, believing it with all my heart. "But when innocent people are involved in this, doesn't it make you the same as the humans you despise so much?"
"How could you say this?" Her scowl deepens even more. "Are we not important in your eyes? Second-class citizens? Do we not deserve justice for what humans did to us?!"
"It stops being justice when civilians who had nothing to do with your pain get butchered," I respond harshly, my Haki making her flinch slightly. "Do you think only humans were killed in this pursuit of vengeance? Do I have to remind you of that train crash one of your officers caused in Forever Fall? Faunus occupied that train, and they were killed over nothing."
That shuts her up as she stares at me in shock. I relax my posture but remain just as serious.
"This isn't justice, Sienna. Both sides are suffering the more this continues, and we know it." I insist, extending my hand. "I want to help. I'm a Hero, it's my job to save people, to save you and your kind, but I can't do it when you refuse to cooperate."
For a moment, I see genuine hope on her face, but she hesitates, still unsure. Kali, who was silent throughout the argument, holds her hand and nods at her with a small smile, pushing her to shake mine. Sienna glances at her but doesn't relent still.
"And what of the enslaved Faunus here?" Sienna asks, though this is more directed to Oz I think. "Vale is not clean– corruption still runs rampant and one of your colleagues likely runs several slaver rings."
I make a mental note of that. That's a very big claim she just made– one of the councilmen is responsible for the slavery here? Interesting. I'm gonna have to do some research about that. 'Bout time I contact Roman again.
"I'll take care of it," I interject before Oz can, ignoring her accusation.
"And how can I trust you'd be able to do that?"
I pause for a moment and smile.
"The Black Phantom works for me," I reveal, taking the risk and shocking her, Kali, and Velvet. "I know him personally and he answers to me only."
Ozpin, who already knows Nahkriin's identity, raises a brow at that.
"And how do I know you're telling the truth?" Sienna challenges.
"Ever wondered how he was able to dismantle every operation with ease?" I respond. "Killing everyone involved in those auctions?"
Sienna pauses, catching on.
"Potions." She says.
"My most powerful potions," I add. "The ones I don't share with the public."
This manages to somewhat convince her and Kali.
"...You're the one who sent the Black Phantom." Kali realizes. "I… see…"
"That's why I just want you to trust me." I persist. "I can help you and all of Faunuskind, stop all the slavery and discrimination in every kingdom, but I need you to take the first step. That's all I ask."
Sienna relaxes considerably, eyeing my hand with a thoughtful look before a more determined expression takes over her face as she shakes it. However, she still insists on one thing that gets me grinning.
"Very well. I'll… trust you, Titan Slayer." She nods, gripping my hand firmly. "But I have no intention to stop robbing the SDC from their Dust."
I glance back at Velvet, who notices me and nods quickly before leaving the meeting room, getting my secret weapon. Now that she's much more relaxed and willing to look at this from my view, I know for sure it'll work. I can reform the White Fang into an actual military force rather than a terrorist organization.
"There's no need," I say, making her brows furrow in confusion. "You won't need to send out anyone for these petty thefts anymore, because Dust will be delivered right to your door."
"What? What do you mean?"
My grin widens as someone knocks on the door.
"Come in," I say, still staring at Sienna.
As the door opens, the SDC Heiress in all her glory joins the meeting. The two White Fang leaders freeze in complete shock, staring at Weiss with wide eyes and slacked jaws.
The second phase begins now.
– Weiss Schnee –
Saying she was nervous would be a severe understatement.
She was in the same room with the leader of the White Fang, the number one enemy of the SDC and the same organization that sent killers at her, and her family. Weiss almost felt like she was dreaming– never in a million years did she see herself in this situation.
And it was all because of Reid.
It was the day after their test. Reid told her he wanted to talk to her in person, and Weiss was happy to oblige. He looked serious when he asked for her, which made her prepared for anything he could be needing.
She was not prepared when he told her about the meeting he had with Sienna Khan and Kali Belladonna, nor was she expecting him to offer her a place in said meeting. Weiss almost thought he was joking, that this was some elaborate prank. That is until he explained his reasoning, and like him, Weiss saw an opportunity. A very big one.
This was her chance to restore her grandfather's legacy, to prove that she wasn't like her father at all. There was no doubt that Weiss felt incredibly hesitant and pessimistic at first, but she couldn't waste the prospect of doing good for the world.
Make them remember Nicolas Schnee and his great achievements, how the SDC wasn't always corrupt, and that Weiss could fix it. How could she throw away the chance at succeeding her grandfather?
She had to do it. No matter how uncomfortable it may be and how her resentment tried to blind her.
So she accepted her lover's offer, promising him to do her best. Reid, being as sweet as ever, made sure she knew that he believed in her and that he'd follow her lead and assist her as much as possible.
Staring at the shocked Sienna directly in the eye, Weiss kept her cool and gave a small respectful bow.
"It's an honor to finally meet you, Ms. Khan." She greeted professionally, though 'honor' was quite stretching it. "I'm Weiss Schnee, Heiress of the SDC, though you probably knew that already."
"What's the meaning of this?!" Sienna scowled deeply. Kali, however, had her look in an "O", signifying her shock. She didn't seem upset though. "Is this some kind of a trap?!"
"Relax, she's here to help," Reid said.
"You think I'd believe that?" She growled, putting her hand on a gun strapped at her hip. "Her family is the root of most of our problems!"
"My father is the one causing them," Weiss argued calmly. "But I'm not my father, and I want to fix them."
"As if." Sienna scoffed, glaring back at Reid. "I didn't know why I thought I'd trust you. Of course, you'd pull this sort of trick. You're the same at the end of it all."
"I just told you to relax." Reid's smile dropped, his tone getting more dangerous. "You haven't given her a chance to speak yet."
"She's a Schnee."
"Who is willing to sell Dust to you." He pointed out. "Fair and square, without any needed bloodshed."
Sienna didn't reply, glaring directly at Weiss, who was getting increasingly more uncomfortable and annoyed. That is until Kali finally spoke.
"We'll hear her out." She said simply and with a smile, shocking her partner.
"What?! What are you doing?!"
"Sienna, please calm yourself," Kali spoke, smiling gently at Weiss, who already found her significantly more likable than Sienna. Also oddly familiar. "Ms. Schnee, please continue."
Seemingly not wanting to argue with her partner, Sienna sat back down, but still kept her glare on Weiss, who nodded gratefully at Kali. She was a lot nicer, which was to be expected as the one who advocated for peace rather than violence.
"I, as the SDC Heiress, would like to open a few Dust stores in Menagerie." She said, calming herself after being given a chance to speak. "I also would like to supply Menagerie with Dust to help in clearing out Grimm nests and expanding the main city."
"And what would you like in return?"
"Nothing substantial," Weiss answered Kali with a shake of her head. "As Sir Astera said, I'd like Ms. Khan to pull back the White Fang out of Atlas and cease her attacks on the SDC."
"This will never happen." Sienna shot her offer down immediately, making her flinch. "I will not let you continue enslaving my people."
"This is not about Dust, Kali." She cut her partner off. "I couldn't care less about that when our brothers and sisters are forced to work in their mines. Faunus die every day because of the working conditions– they're branded and whipped for their Dust."
"You don't, Schnee." The High Leader spoke over her, causing Weiss' heart to pound and her emotions to slip. "You could never understand the suffering you force my kind to–"
"Do you think I'm fine with it?!" Weiss yelled in frustration. "Do you actually think I support these kinds of inhuman treatment of Faunus?"
That actually got her backing off. Even Reid looked surprised at the outburst for some reason. Weiss would feel embarrassed if she wasn't so angry.
"Do you have any idea how I feel about it?" Weiss scowled back at her. "What it's like to see the once-great company of my grandfather fall to corruption and greed– to see it abuse the rights of its workers every single day?"
The two women remained silent.
"I've… seen corpses piled up. Poor workers that are routinely killed in 'freak' accidents and poor conditions because no one gives a damn." Weiss continued, her tone lowering. "Yet I've always remained afraid and powerless. I couldn't do anything for them, and I hated myself for it. I hated being related to that bastard of a father. I hated being a Schnee."
Weiss managed to calm herself a little as her angry scowl dropped, replaced by an almost pleading expression.
"But no more. I refuse to let this continue. I refuse to let him sully my grandfather's legacy any longer." She promised, slowly extending her hand. "I will do everything in my power to better the worker's conditions, that I will swear, but please, you have to help me. I can't do this on my own."
Sienna's glare disappeared, but she was still apprehensive as she stared directly into Weiss' eyes, studying her to see if she was lying or not. The SDC heiress was hoping that this speech was worth embarrassing herself over, but a single glance at her lover's confident and proud smile told her that everything would be okay.
Because it was Kali who took her hand, surprising them both.
"I think this venture will be quite beneficial for both of us," Kali said, playfully winking at Weiss, making her smile gratefully. "Good to be doing business with you, Ms. Schnee."
"Wha– I haven't agreed to this yet!" Sienna protested.
"There's no reason for us to avoid the peaceful alternative when it's on the table, Sienna. The Schnee heiress expressed her wish to lend us a hand," Kali reasoned. "So let's accept and do what we can to help each other. It's what Ghira would've wanted."
"If this turns out to be some kind of a trap–"
"Oh, you're always so paranoid." Kali rolled her eyes. "Isn't that wonderful speech of hers enough proof of her sincerity?"
Weiss blushed slightly at that, but Sienna seemed to have taken it seriously as she clicked her tongue after a moment of thought.
"And how, exactly, do you plan on doing any of that?" Sienna said. "Unless Jacques dies during the flight over, he controls the company, not you, and would never agree to anything like this.."
"With the public support of the Titan Slayer. Not even my father would go against him, and by extension, me." Weiss answers. "Father won't like it, but once we make it clear that his only alternative is an extremely effective PR campaign and hostile takeover from the most powerful man on Remnant, he will come around."
"How sure are you that that will work? That man has proven extremely stubborn and spiteful in the past."
"Even he isn't stubborn enough to fight the Titan Slayer on this. It would be political, and possibly literal suicide." She says coolly. "Sir Astera is the only man in history capable of slaying three Titans in the span of a few months. No one would want to be his enemy."
"...Fine." Sienna relented reluctantly. "Don't think I trust you yet, Schnee. The Titan Slayer is one thing, but you haven't given me a single reason to believe anything you said. I'm only giving you the benefit of the doubt."
"That's fine," Weiss said. "I'll prove it to you sooner or later."
"I'll be the judge of that."
"Then it is settled." The headmaster said. "Sir Astera and Ms. Schnee will be given a few lands to build their stores in Menagerie, as well as supply the continent with potions and Dust respectively. Sir Astera will be given permission to explore the deserts beyond the jungles and Ms. Khan will call her White Fang agents back to Menagerie. Is everyone in agreement with this arrangement?"
Nobody verbally responded, but the silence was enough confirmation.
"Then as the Headmaster of Beacon Academy and Councilman of Vale, I recognize and acknowledge this contract between High Leader Sienna Khan, Kali Belladonna, Titan Slayer Reid Astera, and Weiss Schnee," Ozpin says, locking them all in a verbal contract. "Thank you all for coming and attending this meeting. Mrs. Belladonna, I will contact you later for more details in place of Reid Astera. The Titan Slayer is quite busy with other projects, unfortunately."
"Very good." Ozpin smiled, getting up from his seat. "Please, follow me. I will lead you back to the bullhead."
The two leaders do so, with Sienna giving Weiss one more look before walking out of the meeting room. As soon as the doors closed behind them, the SDC heiress rested her head on the table in front of her and groaned loudly, the mental stress washing away as Reid brought her closer to him.
"You have no idea how proud I am right now." He said, prompting her to look at him grinning widely. "I fucking knew you could do it."
"Sienna Khan is so intimidating. Way more than I thought," Weiss whined, looking back at him. "Losing control was so embarrassing."
"Personally, I think it helped a lot in convincing them. They did not expect that display of emotions." Reid patted her back.
"That speech of yours was fairly convincing." Velvet, who was silent throughout the meeting, agreed.
"See? Even Velvet thinks it's pretty cool." Her lover insisted. "You've done really well today, Weiss."
Weiss's face turned as her heart fluttered, a wide smile nearly splitting her face. She loved being praised way more than she should.
"I'd say we celebrate, but it's getting late." Reid continued. "And I imagine this was pretty stressful for you, Weiss, so I won't hold you up any longer."
"Thank you, Reid." Weiss nodded. "But I don't mind celebrating so late. I have some ideas to… destress."
For a moment, the two looked at her in complete obliviousness, which made her feel incredibly awkward until they quickly caught on.
"Sure." He simply said, making the two blush before he glanced at Velvet.
"I-I need to go back to Beacon." Velvet declined, clearing her throat. "I'm going out early with my team tomorrow."
With that she walked away, leaving the building. It was until then that Weiss' brain fully processed what that was, making her frown in confusion. Was he trying to have the Faunus join them?
The Heiress couldn't make sense of it in time as Reid's gaze got her shivering. Oh well, that didn't really matter.
She needed that destressing activity regardless.
– Reid Astera –
I was slightly worried at the end there, but I had faith in Weiss. She showed genuine interest when I talked to her about this and was very willing to fix the SDC from the inside. Of course, she did show some worry about her dad taking away the Heiress title from her, but as I said before, he wouldn't fucking dare.
Of course, it's not all that fun and rainbows, though. You can easily twist this and make Weiss out to be a terrorist supporter for lending a hand to Menagerie, and by extension, the White Fang, which can give Jacques an easy way to simply disown her or worse.
However, with me, the guy who is viewed as the second coming of god by the public is on her side, it gives Weiss insane flexibility without her dad interfering. People will always view whatever she does with my support in the most positive way imaginable because the Titan Slayer obviously doesn't support terrorists.
If not for my political power, this plan wouldn't have any way of working. And once people realize that the White Fang's presence simply just disappeared after this deal, it might even give good PR for me and Weiss. We've basically pushed the White Fang back to Menagerie far quicker than any other military force.
So in a way, she's also kind of helping her dad, because she effectively stopped their attacks on SDC products. He'd have no way of doing anything to her, especially not when I'm on her side.
While risky, revealing our relationship will also completely fuck over Jacques and what he can do with her even more. Nobody wants to be my enemy, not even the SDC. A simple snap of my finger can and will instantly ruin him and the SDC because politically I'm untouchable.
As long as I keep doing good for the public, it'll be less likely for Jacques to do anything. He'd be well and truly fucked regardless of what he does. Either he relents and lets Weiss do whatever she wants, or he risks going against me.
If I decide something, nobody can say no to me.
Yes, it's very nice being this hilariously powerful.
Then again, I'm also swamped with work. I want to fuck off somewhere to train and level up, but I can't find the time to do that anymore, not when my business is taking off. Perhaps once I get more competent higher-ups working for me, I can afford a day or two of dungeon diving.
I have Weiss and Velvet right now. Kiryu is another option, but that's about it. Three people aren't enough. At least two more should be though.
Speaking of Velvet, we still haven't figured out her element yet. It's none of the basic or advanced types, so it's gonna be really tough to find out what she has. I think I'm gonna make a device that shows what magic people can use. Should be easy to do that.
Don't worry Vel, if you don't have any of the known elements, then whatever you have will be a surprise for sure. The possibilities are endless.
As for Weiss, though…
I glance at the naked sleeping beauty beside me and hum quietly.
I could've sworn I felt pressure from her little outburst, but it vanished as soon as it appeared. This makes me believe she has Conqueror's, which is strange because when she had a similar fit on our date, I felt nothing.
Then again, on our date, she felt more heartbroken than frustrated. Did that make a difference? Possibly. What matters is that I'm now 99% sure she can use it if she trains in Haki, which is just more incentive to teach her and the rest of the girls.
I haven't even explained Haki to them yet, and Weiss shows that she probably has the rarest type.
I really love these girls.
Priapus' note: Yes, Remnant has informal but internationally-binding contract law between sovereign nations. No, I won't tell you how or why.