With a deep breath, Jaune opened
the door and took his first step onto the rooftop. Taking more steps forward,
he felt a light breeze gently brush his hair and clothes to the side. He raised
a hand to block both winds and light coming from the orange light of the
When he noticed three silhouettes, he adjusted his eyes in time to see Cardin make a hard landing onto the concrete. As a witness, Jaune winced when the sole of Steele’s silver boot slammed down and crunched into the chest of the bully's broken chestplate.
"See, it's people like you why everyone finds a reason to stir up trouble." The angry Steele raised his leg before slamming it down to hit Cardin again. Nearby, Penny just watched while sitting on the edge of the roof. In his position, Jaune wondered what his arch nemesis did to incur the wrath of the captain, a fellow member of the Norma Coalition.
Coughing, Cardin raised his head and groaned, "I-I'm sorry."
"Sorry doesn't cut it." Steele roughly grabbed Cardin’s armored neckline and lifted him into the air. Letting body dangle, the captain made eye contact and growled, "I know about your record with the Faunus. While I support your enthusiasm, it should be used to stop the enemies when they're on the move. Starting vain fights like the recent one is an embarrassment to me and your allies."
When Cardin turned his head to avert his guilt-ridden eyes, Steele gripped the bully’s face with one hand to forcefully make it look forward. Eyes blazing in fury, the one in control stated, "This happens again, your career as a Hunter is over. By my authority and strength, I'll make sure your hands will never be able to hold a weapon, understand?!”
Without waiting for an answer, Steele opened his hands to let his victim fall. With a clenched fist, the captain punched Cardin’s stomach to send him flying into the air.
Jaune watched this spectacle with mixed feelings as his nemesis landed near his feet. With Steele’s revelation and memories of the fight fresh in mind, the blonde looked down at the injured with an expression of disdain.
“So this idiot started the fight? What a piece of shit. The only thing I’m grateful is that you got to show your skills.”
Jaune silently agreed except for the last part while he kept his eyes on Cardin limping towards the rooftop doorway. When the one departing was gone, he turned to see Steele cross his arms while Penny hopped off of her seat. Trying not to feel intimidated from what he’s seen, he asked, “Well, here I am. Is there something you want to talk to me about? Maybe have an introduction?”
"Oh, I know plenty about you, Jaune. After what happened in the past few days, there's nobody who doesn't know your name." Steele slowly walked forward and circled around the nervous blonde with narrowed, examining eyes. "The defense of Vale City, impressive brawl with a full team, and figure of the retarded belief that you’re the rising ‘hero’ of the ‘oppressed’ Faunus.”
The leader of Juniper wasn't sure if he was listening to reasons that would make the Atlas members attack him with no witnesses around. His tension lessened when Steele walked towards Penny to stand next to her with his arms crossed again.
"So what's the point of getting into today's fight? Did you think it bad that I was defending my guys from your friends?" The captain sounded calm, making his question more of a curious nature than threatening.
Understanding this, Jaune remarked, “The one in that fight was someone I knew. She was in trouble, so I stepped in to help her. And isn’t it your group that really started the fight?”
“Cardin might have been accepted as a member, but I didn’t know him enough to see he was an asshole,” sighed the annoyed Steele. “Damn it, that time I arrived was when everybody was yelling at me that our guys were getting beaten up by strong fighters. They should have been a little clearer with their report.”
“So…that’s it? You were protecting your group because of a misunderstanding?” It was Jaune’s turn to be curious as the captain also didn’t seem too pleased that the reason for the fight happened in the first place.
“Yeah…yeah, we can say it’s my bad. That’s why by tomorrow, the Normal Coalition is going to be given some new rules to follow.” Steele cracked his knuckles, an image signaling that ‘giving’ will involve some physical applications.
When Jaune waited to hear more, silence filled the air for the next few minutes. With the sun setting lower and winds becoming colder, he started to believe that the conversation recently ended and the two Atlas reps were waiting for him to leave.
“Great, typical military assholes to make this awkward. Come on, let’s go back so you could cuddle up with your pyrrhic body pillow. I’m hoping more accidents happen between the two of you.”
Ignoring the perverted comment, the leader of Juniper began to turn on his heel. When he was just about to face the door, he heard Penny say, “Steele, didn’t you call him up here to apologize? Just do it now so you don’t have to feel bad about not doing it later.”
“Shut up, Penny.” More annoyed than angry, Steele loudly cleared his throat. “He might not even need to hear it since he knows that our guys aren’t going to do pull the same act twice.”
“But you said you wanted to personally apologize because he didn’t seem like such a bad guy.” Penny walked towards Jaune to lean close so she could scrutinize the blonde better. “And we were right. He got involved to help out a friend. As a good person, he deserves an apology. Even I know that it’s better to say some things rather than leave them unspoken.”
Steele scratched a part of his head, looking befuddled on his decision. Soon, he said, “Fine, fine. Jaune, sorry that you and your friend got involved. That accounts for those party bombs from this morning that I know you had to deal with. Some dumbass named Russell apparently thought of this with the less disciplined dumbasses.”
For some reason, the blonde felt sympathy for the captain, who was starting to appear somewhat decent despite his rough nature. Remembering his own difficulties during his first days in Beacon, Jaune felt the need to provide a break for the head of the Coalition.
“Okay, come on. Don’t be a nice guy like that. If he messed up, then you have to let him feel some heat. Remember, the bunny still had to suffer a few lumps cause of these two.”
Despite knowing how the telepathic jewel mentioned Velvet to rile him up, Jaune still felt frustrated that his new, Faunus friend was indeed a victim of the recent battle. Keeping mercy in mind, he said, “Don’t apologize to me, apologize to everyone involved, including Velvet since it’s the responsible thing to do.”
“Actually, I already had my members apologize to those involved. Velvet and Yatsuhashi will get theirs from Cardin before my own visit with Penny, the weirdo here standing with me. After all, they gave a pretty good fight. They have my respect for holding out well.”
Jaune noted how the captain’s smile displayed a hint of joy from remembering his fight with the members of Team Coffee. While this unnerved and confused him, the blonde still said, “So you are doing the right thing. Wait, are you apologizing to the Faunus too?”
“Well, yeah. They deserve it too since there were also victims involved.” Raising one eyebrow, Steele said, “Wait a minute, you don’t believe we’re discriminating against the Faunus, are you?”
Jaune’s silence made the captain ruffle his coat. “Okay, so you’ve been fed that propaganda. Maybe I should pay those media vultures a visit later; better not give my teacher trouble with their bullshit.” The adamant boy of steel cracked his knuckles in a violent manner.
“And if you do that, the General will have to clean up after you, which would give him more trouble.” Penny’s logical statement had her partner rub fingers against his forehead due to stress. Jaune sighed as he started seeing that the Atlas duo weren’t as bad as he believed them to be at their first meeting. Plus, he felt guilty as he may have been given some exaggerated information, although Ozpin’s advice still added the pinch of salt to his considerations.
Finding more questions than answers, Jaune asked, “Then can you tell me what exactly the Normal Coalition is supposed to be doing?”
“Watching out for unusual activity, most involving the White Fang.” Somehow switching to a more formal tone, Steele continued, “And when Faunus are students in a school that teaches them how to fight, they need someone to keep a watch on them. We, the upcoming warriors of Atlas, have been ordered to take on this task while going on about with our original roles as attending students…well, something like that.”
Jaune took a second to replay the answer that was given to him. After Lou made some good points in his mind, the boy made his final thoughts before answering, “Well, orders are orders from where you come from, I’m sure. But it’s not really propaganda if it’s still your mission to keep an eye out on the Faunus. To most of us, that would still be discriminating in some way.”
“Can you really say that?” Steele asked his question with words laced in frustration. “First of all, that fight and the morning pranks giving the group a bad name shouldn’t have happened; I’ve been making that very clear to you. We were never supposed to have been bothering our fellow students with that kind of aggression. It’s only if something happens when we’ll ever commit ourselves to violence not just on them, but the ones with bad intentions.”
“Says the guy who seems to like fighting. But…for some reason, I’m getting a familiar vibe off of him as he talks. That’s weird.”
Jaune disregarded Lou’s mental comments that were too aimless and not on the subject. “Is that the same for the city? There seems to be a lot more going on over there.”
“The soldiers there are taking precautions since that’s where most of the White Fang are at. You should know criminal activities haven’t stopped even when Roman Torchwick was kicked out of the picture.” Steele aimed his gaze in the direction of Vale City. “And honestly, it can’t be helped. By more than coincidence, the White Fang began causing trouble right as preparations for the Vytal Festival started. In times like this, we have to keep a close eye on things for the people’s protection.”
Jaune almost agreed, but still found some parts of Steele’s statement to be wrong. “But Atlas is still focusing on the Faunus. It’s just not fair to have everyone look at them or else people will think every one of them is considered guilty.”
“Okay Jaune, let me ask you. What is the White Fang’s mission?” Steele watched the boy grow silent. With one question alone, the captain managed to have the leader of Juniper understand his own contradiction with his previous statements. Knowing this, he glanced at Penny and asked, “Can you answer for him?”
“Sure,” said the observant one that had yet to reveal herself as an android to Jaune. “The purpose of the White Fang is to annihilate the human populace. Reports noted that several members have donned disguises and became sleeper agents to cause damage from inside our societies.”
Steele nodded as his partner helped sum up to his point. “With the White Fang around, we can’t help but consider the other Faunus as enemies. As long as we don’t know whose side is on whose, then the best we can do is place the proper regulations. Plus, it’s your council that gave the General command over security. If anybody needs to be convinced on any changes, it’s them.”
Jaune sadly nodded as the captain made a point. Getting frustrated at anyone who hailed from Atlas would have been pointless when the city’s council, members who understood Faunus relations, considered all options that led to the army’s occupation.
In this moment of revelation, he didn’t expect Steele to pat him on the shoulder.
“Cheer up. Most of this should blow over by the time the Vytal Festival is done. If the White Fang doesn’t do anything then, things should go back to normal for this city’s Faunus.” Steele walked backwards to give Jaune space. “And with me in charge, I’ll keep my people in line. Just hope the Faunus in this place doesn’t do anything to retaliate, or that’ll escalate the situation on a different level of stupid.”
“And he’s nice to a hero like you…oh, hell no. Don’t tell me he has the quality too,” Lou said with a groan of exasperation. Unsure why the jewelry was so dramatic, Jaune focused on smiling at the captain. “That’s good to hear. At least you have a good grasp of the situation.”
Unexpectedly, Steele’s frown turned into a lighter shade of a small grin. “Leaders are supposed to have good insight, something you’ve shown after coming here. Even appreciate that you at least listened to me until the end rather than spout a bunch of one-sided views.”
A giggle had both boys glance at the source to see it was Penny. “I didn’t expect to see you ever being that nice to someone you just met, Steele,” she said with a smile. “Maybe you can have a decent friend who won’t run from you when you have your tough guy act on.”
“It’s common courtesy between the two of us. Don’t just assume anyone can be friends at first glance.” Steele placed his hand under chin, a display of a sudden idea coming to mind. “But we could consider you an ally of sorts. People are looking up to you as an ideal representative of the Normal Coalition’s opposition, so maybe you can help calm things down from that angle.”
Penny smirked as she started waving her body back and forth in a playful manner. “Then maybe we can tell him about the other purpose of the Normal Coalition.”
“Other purpose?” Jaune asked. “There’s another reason why the group exists?”
“No, no, I didn’t mean anything by that.” Obviously trying to fix a slip of tongue, Penny didn’t help make her case when she hiccupped right after saying her lie. Steele’s facepalm confirmed to Jaune that there was more going on that the two didn’t mean to share.
For the best or worst, this was something Jaune had to know since he didn’t enjoy the suspicious feelings he was starting to have from the hints that there were secrets. “Can I know about this? If it’s a secret, then I promise to not tell anyone unless things go out of hand.”
“Sure, but you better keep your word or else it’s going to cause a lot of trouble.” Steele’s words had Penny look up and ask, “You’re going to tell him? Is that really okay? We even had orders to not discuss this with anyone.”
“Well penny brains, we don’t have a choice since you let the cat out of the bag on this one.” The captain suddenly placed his knuckles on both sides of the girl’s head before twisting them. “And just because we’re in front of someone doesn’t mean I’m going to do this to you!”
When Jaune believed Penny was being tortured, he noticed that the girl didn’t react at all as he wasn’t aware that her head was harder than the normal human skull. He was even surprised to hear her say, “Another massage? But this never does anything to me and you know the reason why.”
“Okay, then how about this?!” Using one hand to grip his partner’s skull, Steele lifted up the body to let it dangle before shaking it around like a ragdoll. Jaune wasn’t appalled by this happening, more at how Penny was laughing at her situation that could have been attributed to domestic violence.
For a robot in disguise, violence might not have been a legal breach in normal society since she was still the first Aura synthetic lifeform of Remnant.
“Quit playing around, Steele. If we’re going to tell him, we should do it before nighttime settles in.” Penny said this as her partner let go so she could land on the rooftop. Her cheery expression showed that she wasn’t harmed in any way.
Seeing this, Steel turned around in a cross manner to where his back was facing Penny and Jaune. “Fine, then you tell him since this started with you. Remember that you let out anymore classified info, I’m placing all of the blame on you.”
Penny skipped up to Jaune and placed her mouth next to his ear. “He’s not serious. Really, if you give him a chance, you can find him to be as nice as you.”
“I heard that, penny brains. Just hurry up and tell him!”
Jaune cringed as Steele sent a sharp glare in his way. Penny saw this and only smiled before she leaned back while her hands adjusted the pink bow clipped to her hair. When ready, she said, “Alright. Straight to the point, the Normal Coalition was also created so we could keep a close eye out on those who hate the Faunus. Since Faunus opposition always involved harsh cases, the General has decided that it’s better for the trusted members like me and Steele here to keep a close eye on those who believe they’ve gathered for a similar cause.”
The explanation left Jaune speechless as he didn’t expect this at all. To hear James Ironwood purposely make a group so they could round up potential troublemakers and keep an eye on them held so many positive and negative results.
Lou sounded equally surprised when it exclaimed, “Wh-wh-what? So they’re not your typical pricks? And Steele is in charge of this kind of thing? Am I the only one starting to see he’s possibly a threat to you as heroic material?!”
“Quiet, I can’t hear her when you’re yelling in my head!” Jaune managed to say his mental reply in time to hear a crash behind him. When he turned, his body was slammed by the flat side of the flying door. Propelled backwards by the force of the crash, Jaune found that his body was ready to fall over the edge of the roof behind him right as he heard, “We’re here to rescue you Jaune!”