Jumble of Surprises
Jaune wasn’t sure why anyone
would try to rescue him when he wasn’t in peril. All he knew was that the
arrival had involved smashing the door off from its hinges and straight into
his body. This contact forced the blond backwards, threatening to make him fall
off the roof as he didn’t have his feet on the ground to anchor his body.
Expecting the worst, the one in trouble felt a hand wrap around his body to stop him. When another hand lifted the door off of his body, Jaune was surprised to find that it was Penny who came to his aid while showcasing strength that didn’t match her slender arms.
“Hey, get your hands off of Jaune!” The same voice from earlier turned out to be from Sun, who had leg raised used for his dynamic entry that involved a kick. Lowering the limb, the monkey took out his staff and aimed one end towards Steele. At the same time, Neptune came up from behind with his gun up and ready to shoot.
“Who are you? Why does it look like you’re ready to engage us with those weapons of yours?” After setting Jaune down, Penny reached for the guns-swords hanging on her waist. She couldn’t open the compartment on her back as she was restrained from using them unless circumstances were dire.
Steele walked up to pull Jaune behind him in an attempt to keep Juniper’s leader out of a possible fight. “What she said; who the hell are you two? You can’t barge into a meeting like this.”
“Technically, this place is open for most students, so we have rights to be here.” Neptune noticed his spiky-haired partner glare pointed in his direction. “What? It’s true regarding school regulations.”
“Really? You want to be a nerd at a time like this?!” Sun exclaimed while he formed his gunchucks, Ruyi and Jingu Bang, into both hands. Looking back at the Atlas duo, he yelled, “And somebody told us they saw all three of you hanging out here for a while now. After what you did to the Faunus today, we’re not going to let you have your way with our pal!”
Jaune felt pale as he saw that his friends were having the wrong belief about Steele and Penny. Despite how both of them were on the evil known as the Coalition Group, the neutral blond believed now wasn’t a time for any of them to be hostile.
When he thought of a plan, Jaune came into the space between the Normal Coalition and Team Sun. “Guys, I’m fine. There was no harm done, see?” The blonde waved his hands to show he wasn’t harmed. “We were just having a calm chat. There’s no need for me to be rescued in any way.”
“You say this after we came up all this way to help you? Exactly whose side are you on, Jaune?”
All eyes turned to the doorway that was covered by the darkness untouched by the sun’s dim rays. Right as the lamps turned on to illuminate the area, a figure walked into the dim lights. In white and black clothes, the brunette had a sword and sheathe in each of her hands.
The newcomer was Blake Belladonna, the mysterious shadow of Team Ruby. Seeing her eyes filled with vengeance didn’t make Jaune feel positive about her real reason for being here. His concern grew when the cat raised her blade to point them at Jaune and the Atlas duo behind him.
“Well? Answer me. Exactly what are you doing with the people who should be your enemies as they’re ours?” Blake’s demand had Steele and Penny take up battle stances. In the middle of the two groups, Jaune didn’t know what he could do to calm down the present tension.
To make matter worse, Lou hummed, “Wow, got quite a choice to make, Jaune. Alright, here’s the plan. Beat up these Atlas kids, woo the girl, then take her to dinner. That way, you’ll have two body pillows for the night. Chop chop, get to work, cassanova.”
Jaune inwardly groaned as Lou has given a scenario that would definitely ruin his new ties with Penny and Steele. Thinking of another idea, he remarked, “Nobody is an enemy here. Tell them Steele, you guys were going to apologize to the others later, right?”
The captain’s nod had Sun and Neptune look at each other out of confusion. Blake didn’t seem convinced as her stance didn’t relax in the slightest. “Really? Is the captain going to apologize to Velvet for what he did to her?”
“Yeah, we’re going to do it, so stop repeating the sob story I’ve been hearing all day.” Clearly annoyed, Steele crossed his arms with a strict frown. “Jaune already told me about it. Hearing this from a girl I just met isn’t respectful at all, let alone a cat Faunus who’s seeing me and Penny as the bad guys without much justification.”
“Uh, you know she’s a Faunus?” Sun exchanged nervous glances with Neptune. After looking at Blake, he said, “You can’t really say that unless there’s an obvious sign like my tail here. Throwing around random details can-.”
“I know she’s a Faunus because of her ribbon. If you’re trying to keep a secret, then you better get a better disguise for that.” Steele’s statement was followed by Penny saying, “I thought so too. Maybe she should think of getting a hat; that cute bow isn’t doing its job very well.”
The comments from the Atlas folks had Jaune feel a bit confident that Blake’s secret wasn’t breached in any way. Feeling silly to worry, he noticed that the Faunus in question didn’t seem to care about his concern as she calmly lowered her weapons.
“Then let me hear it. I need to make sure the apology you’re planning to give is appropriate for her.” Blake tapped a foot on the ground, showing that she was waiting for the captain to reply to her demand. Jaune inwardly groaned when he saw the young soldier flare is nostrils in anger.
“You want to see if my apology is enough?! Wow, so you think you can just waltz up to me and judge whether or not the quality of my words are enough?!” Steele aimed an accusing finger at the cat. “You, miss, need to take it down a notch. This is the first time I’ve met you. No familiarity, no respect, and clearly no trust if you’re going to play the Faunus in distress card on me.”
Jaune walked backwards to join Neptune, Sun, and Penny who were all standing near the edge of the roof. Seeing this fight between Steele and Blake had him realize he shouldn’t interfere as the two were in terms of talking things out.
“There is no card to play since I know how Atlas works. Your organization’s ways are the reason why the Schnee Company has Faunus slaves in the first place.”
Steele scoffed at the given details. “While my pay grade doesn’t let me know the details, Atlas wouldn’t make capturing Faunus their sole purpose. They would only be involved to make sure that those kind of Faunus finish their terms of service. You know, the ones who used to be criminals or couldn’t pay off debts like everyone else?”
“Service? Sure, and the harsh working conditions involved with mines and labor are also in the line of humane standards.” Blake had her sarcastic reply come with her own scoff. The tone and manner had Jaune almost believe Weiss was here; the Faunus must have been influenced by the heiress in some way.
Overall, Jaune was feeling uncomfortable by the ongoing debate as a lot of the details were something he heard as rumors, not concrete facts. Using a quiet voice, he asked, “So when is all of this anger talk going to end?”
“Beats me, I was here just to save your ass from whatever trouble you were in.” Sun took another bite out of the candy bar that he took from Neptune’s pocket. “Since there isn’t going to be any action, I think we’re in for a long haul. Blake was pretty ticked about this whole Normal Coalition thing since this morning.”
The blonde sighed as he figured this was the case. When he noticed Neptune raise an arm to present a candy bar, he said, “Thanks,” and took the small snack. He presented it to Penny and asked, “Want some? You didn’t look like you had anything to eat.”
“No thanks. Even if I had a stomach, seeing Steele arguing like this would have made my appetite disappear.” Despite her sad remark, Penny still smiled and said, “But thanks anyways. I’m glad I was right to see you as a kind person, Jaune. I hope you can continue to be like this for me and Steele during our stay here.”
Before Jaune could reply to the girl’s kind request, he noticed that Blake held up her Scroll to show a picture of what he realized was the giant robot that was announced by Ironwood the other day.
“Then can you explain this?” Blake hissed as she came closer to the captain to have him take a closer look at her device. “Why was a Paladin sighted on our campus? Something this dangerous shouldn’t be here in the first place.”
Steele had his mouth kept shut as he eyed the details of the article. After a brief moment of silence, he looked at Penny. “Hey, did command or the General ever tell us about a delivery like this?”
“Nope. Unless there’s an issue with communications, we have no news or reports on that kind of delivery.” As Penny stated this, a loud explosion went off from a far location. This made everyone run in that direction and look over the rooftop to see what was happening.
When Jaune found his own spot, he peered out to see smoke coming from one part of the school’s stony path. It was there where he saw bodies lying on the ground, most moving while several were still. Appalled by this, he looked around for the source only to see the hulking form of the Atlesian Paladin rumble around the corner of a building.
Jaune realized that a possible delivery by Atlas was being used by an unknown individual to cause mayhem during night, a time when almost everyone was settled down. While he found this strange, Lou supported his suspicion by saying, “On the same day this Paladin caught some attention, we see this happen. Is there a setup going on here? Oh well, hero time. Let’s mark one more win for you before bedtime, kiddo.”
Before Jaune could think of his next action, he heard Steele yell, “Penny, contact base and find out what’s going on. I’m going to take care of this trash before the news hounds place the blame on Atlas for this.”
“Alright, good luck Steele.” Penny’s words of encouragement led to the captain jumping off the rooftop. Just when Jaune believed the captain was insane, he saw that the one falling suddenly had small fire blow around his heels to help him make a safe landing on the ground before running off.
This sight encouraged Jaune to set his own foot onto the edge. As his hands reached for his shield, he noticed Blake take up a similar stance beside him. “You’re going too?”
“I don’t see why not since the teachers might not make it in time.” The cat turned her gaze to the noise caused by the unseen robot. “Besides, I can’t trust an Atlas officer to handle this, whether or not this is all a mistake. If you’re going to help, can you keep up with the rest of us?”
Jaune saw Sun hop next to Blake while Neptune nervously peered over the edge and wince at the sight of the ground that was far below. Feeling confident thanks to the plan in his mind, the blond warrior bent his legs so he could squat into position. “I have to try something. It’s my job as a Hunter to help protect the others, both Faunus and humans.”
With that, Jaune jumped off the rooftop, not knowing that his statement and action left his friends gawking at him out of surprise. Still falling, the boy placed his shield at his front and used Lumen Burst to have a blast of light burst out from the surface of his weapon. The force of his attack broke his fall and launched him up enough for his feet to adjust so the bottoms could make proper landing onto the ground.
With body intact, the leader of Juniper ran to the place filled with unpleasant sounds. Along the way, he heard something land on the area near him. He turned his head to see Blake run near his left side while Sun caught up to his right.
“Man, didn’t expect that out of you,” yelled the smiling Sun. “Then it’s time we go kick some ass, right Neptune?”
Jaune didn’t understand the monkey’s question until he saw the blue-haired boy come in while carried by three of Sun’s yellow, astral clones. As the monkey copies disappeared, Neptune managed to stumble onto his feet and run alongside the others.
“Yeah, but mind being a little more gentle the next time?!” Neptune shot his partner a disproving look while his hand rubbed his sore bottom. “I know climbing down isn’t my forte, but you could have at least given me a heads up!”
Jaune couldn’t hear Sun’s rough reply as he turned around the corner of a building. There, he saw the Paladin trying to ram its arms into a moving Steele, who had fire flowing from his shoulder blades. Unsure why the captain wasn’t fighting at full strength, the blonde boy noticed the bodies lying all around the field of battle. They were students, fellow classmates, who appeared to have been victims of the larger robot’s rampage.
“Oh look, Steele isn’t using his full power so the unconscious bystanders could remain safe. Typical heroic behavior, blah blah blah. Mind going in already to save the day, Jaune?”
Taking note of Lou’s disdainful voice, the Arc descendant ran on while he had both hands on his swords. His shield remained on his back so it could unleash a blast of energy from activation of Lumen Burst. This rocketed the blonde up into the air so he could stab the blade into the backside of the gray, armored suit.
Hanging on as the Paladin tried to shake him off, Jaune felt his body get flung around like the times he had wild rides on a playground’s circular roundabout. He held back his barf as he saw his distraction allowed the others to get close. Sun and Blake whacked away at the steel giant’s legs while Neptune provided supporting fire with his gun. Altogether with Steele’s power strikes, everyone boxed in the Paladin so their battle won’t affect the nearby others.
Remembering his technique from earlier today, Jaune raised an empty hand so his Arc Save, a transparent sword, could take form. He stabbed the weapon into the Paladin, hoping his skill would quickly drain the suit of armor’s energy supply.
“Stay focused, remember that Arc Save can pass through physical objects based on your will. But nice eyes my man, you’re getting the hang of your genes’s goodies. Looking forward to your own contribution once you get someone who’s willing to have a kid with you.”
Lou’s implication of procreation had Jaune lose his focus. As noted by the jewel, his Arc Save came out as its transparent form couldn’t stick to the solid surface. This happened just as the Paladin’s upper body did a 180-turn that finally threw the boy off of the robot.
In the air, Jaune felt helpless as the earlier spin made him too dizzy to correct his form. During his flight, he suddenly stopped when someone caught and placed him over a firm shoulder. When he was dropped to where his bottom met the ground, he looked up to see Blake yank her ribbon backwards so her blade embedded in a wall could come back.
“Look out,” Blake answered as she yanked Jaune away so they could dodge an energy blast. Pulling away from his rescuer’s hand, the boy raised his shield so he could defend him and the Faunus behind from the barrage of blue energy that rained down upon them. When the attacks stopped, both teenagers peered over their protection to see Neptune jam his spear into one of the Paladin’s arm gun while Sun hung onto the other with his clones to force the barrel down and aim at the ground.
Sparing no time, Jaune threw his shield forward with all his strength. The metal’s pointed end stuck into the Paladin’s arm joint, making its hand cannon unable to freely move around. Neptune saw this and carried out the same tactic by jabbing his polearm into the other arm joint. At the same time, the giant robot jumped back to gain some distance, but couldn’t move its upper limbs as they were sparking from the damaged areas.
“Look out, it still has missiles!” Blake took out Gambol Shroud in its gun form so she could prepare to shoot down the coming projectiles while Sun and Neptune gained some distance from the robot.
“Missiles?!” In simultaneous responses, the boys raised their weapons to prepare for the announced attack. Instead, they saw a huge explosion erupt from the Paladin’s back just as its legs were sliced off from underneath.
The renegade robot was now on the ground as a useless, limbless body of scrap metal. Coming around this former threat was Steele, whose arms turned from a jet-black color back to their normal color. The captain sighed as he glanced at the four who came to stop the Paladin with him.
“Thanks, this wouldn’t have ended quicker without you guys.”
Steele’s form of gratitude had Jaune nod with a smile. He looked at his friends to see that they didn’t expect the young soldier to treat them in such a fair manner.
Sun was the first of the three to recover by giving his version of a smile. “No problem, glad we stopped this thing.”
“Or person.” Blake walked up to the remains of the Paladin, to the front where the cockpit hatch was at. “The pilot is to be blamed for what happened. If it turns out to be one of your people, will you take responsibility, Captain Hartbuster?”
Steele shrugged his shoulders. “If this is caused by one of our guys, then they’ll face the full hell of the consequences for doing anything that could shame Atlas.”
The answer seemed to satisfy Blake as she calmly approached the cockpit with Steele. While Sun and Neptune exchanged whispers on the side, Jaune heard Lou make a cough that asked for his attention.
“Jaune, remember how I was expressing displeasure towards our hard-ass commando over there?”
The addressed blonde looked over to see Blake and Steele trying to get the Paladin’s pilot door opened. “Yeah, what about it?”
“I think it’s high time you know that I don’t like him because he’s the closest one to becoming a hero compared to you and the other fledglings. No offense, but his position and power is clearly saying he’s a cut above the cream of the crop as of this point.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Jaune paused as he saw Steele glare at Blake. The far distance made it difficult for the blonde to hear the conversation going on between the Faunus and human. “If he ends up becoming a good guy, then he can help us!”
“First off kid, that’s a big ‘if.’ He’s under the command of the pricks who fling their worthless junks all around because they have the power to get away with it. Never trust a man under the thumb of those kind of people. Oh, and second, I just don’t like the fact that if he hangs around, he could easily take the spotlight away from you.”
Jaune felt frustrated by the last part of Lou’s remark. “How would you say something so selfish? It’s hard enough to deal with the fact that you want me to become some weird cross between a womanizer and a jerk. Don’t label people like this or I might end up becoming the bad guy because of you.”
“So you won’t listen? Fine, then do me a favor and at least become strong enough someday to where you can kick this guy’s ass. Better safe than sorry for the sake of your current and future assets.”
The owner of the talking necklace was about to send another resort until he heard, “It’s about damn time!” Jaune looked at the source to see that it was Steele breaking off the door of the Paladin with his bare hands. Blake was on the side and shaking her head. Sun and Neptune watched the captain’s performance with impressed nods.
By the time Jaune came over to look inside the robot with the others, his breathing came to a complete halt. His action added to the silence aside from the groans of the nearby students, who were awaking from their forced unconsciousness.
“Holy shit, this is really bad.” Steele stepped away from the door while both hands scratched his head out of frustration. “This is not good. Why is someone like her piloting this Paladin in the first place?!”
Inside the Paladin’s cockpit was a young girl who had long hair and a pair of cat ears, features colored in blue. While her status as a Faunus riding an Atlas vehicle was surprising, it couldn’t compare to how the person had on the same uniform worn by the students of Beacon.
The final surprise of this discovery was the White Fang mask planted on her lap. As a sign of membership form the infamous group of feral Faunus, this meant that the pilot held the identities as a student, pilot, and secret agent.
Everyone knew then that the situation was about to escalate to an all new issue. Trying to think ahead, Jaune found himself asking more questions of what the future will bring for him, his friends, and the other attendants of Beacon.