After making the last-minute
decision to put his weapons away, Jaune saw Aqua swing her long weapon in a
wide arc. Mercury came in and caught the spearhead with his foot while Emerald
used both sickles to grab the lance’s shaft so she could yank it out of the
Jaune saw his chance and ran as his transparent sword, Arc Save, appeared into both of his hands. He tried slashing it at Aqua, but missed as she was already in the air after turning into a mist of blue droplets.
“You got her?” Mercury asked.
“I see her,” Emerald replied as she aimed a gun at the air and fired. Several bullets of fire Dust slammed into a sheet of water before exploding into tongues of blazing fire. A moment later, Aqua reappeared while parts of her uniform were covered in small flames.
Regaining her bearings, the Faunus picked up her spear and aimed it forward during her dash towards her enemies. She missed when the crime duo jumped away, forcing her to keep going so she could dodge the incoming bullets. When she turned, her eyes grew into horror after they focused onto the uninvited blonde.
“Jaune, what are you doing here?!”
The addressed one raised his Arc Save up. “Stopping you from making a mistake.” Before Jaune could go on, he saw Mercury rush the blue feline with a flurry of kicks. Several side kicks sent out bullets from the gun boots that almost hit the Faunus as she blocked them with her twirling weapon.
Emerald tried to flank from another side, but blocked a wide swing from Aqua’s lance. With blades on the shaft, she tried to keep the lance still as her partner arrived from the air with a heel kick set to crush the feline’s skull.
“Nice moves,” Aqua said as her spear glowed in a blue light. With Dust activated, tendrils of water came out of the weapon to wrap around Emerald and the airborne kicker before throwing them to different parts of the hallway.
“You just missed some steps, so better luck on the next round,” the Faunus taunted. She looked at Jaune right as several tendrils wrapped around the boy’s entire body.
Arms stuck, Jaune couldn’t focus to remake the lost Arc Save. He could only remain helpless as his binds brought him close to the cross Faunus. Lou didn’t help when it yelled, “Bite her! Spit at her! No, kiss her and use your boyish charms to stop her!”
“What are you doing?” Aqua didn’t look away as her water tentacles spurted out to attack the recovering fighters. “You shouldn’t have come after me.”
“But I had to! I remember now, you and I were friends at that playground!” Jaune exclaimed as he tried to struggle out of his wet restraints. “Please stop and turn yourself in. If you do, nobody could do anything to you once you’re not a threat.”
Aqua sadly shook her head. “It’s not that simple and you shouldn’t have come after me. You’ll only end up hurting yourself.”
Sparks flew through the watery restraints to shock both Aqua and the unfortunate Jaune. The water tentacles disappeared as the user lost control of her powers. However, this didn’t stop the blue cat from jumping away. Her Dust spear disappeared into a mist of water before it materialized back into her hand.
“Think that’s good enough?” As her turn to taunt, a nearby Emerald sneered while she held her sickle weapons sparking in electricity from Dust usage. Mercury walked up while his feet became covered in the fire made by the Dust in his boots. The young criminals were prepared to take the current battle to the next level.
In response, Aqua kicked Jaune hard to send him flying and grabbed her crystal spear. As the weapon disintegrated, large blobs of water hovered near her and turned into icy heads of ferocious beasts.
“Not sure, let’s find out in this round.” Swinging her arms forward, Aqua had her monstrous, ice sculptures fly out. Set to ram into their targets, none made it very far as Mercury managed to meet the ones close to him with powerful kicks from his feet of inferno. Throwing round and front kicks, the skillful kicker maintained his smile as his body spun and legs smashed the other ice heads from impossible angles.
Emerald provided support by shooting down the heads that tried to arc through the air by Aqua’s command. She made sure none would outflank her partner, thus turning this exchange into a heated stalemate.
From his viewpont, Jaune didn’t know how to approach as he didn’t want to ruin Emerald and Mercury’s streak. He also didn’t want to rush towards Aqua as she would only retaliate by sending one of her projectiles his way.
At one point, the blonde noticed Mercury’s grimace as he did a split kick to break two more ice heads. The kicker was reaching his limits and Emerald was losing the needed ammo and energy to maintain her barrage.
Aqua seemed to notice this as she had the water blobs near her head turn into spikes made of ice. “Would have been fun to see who the winner is, but we need to wrap things up.” As she finished, her hands threw forward to make her Dust weapons fly and break into cold shrapnel that rained down like a squall.
Mercury quickly ran backwards to dodge several before he resorted to backflips so he could get away from the storm. As he passed his partner, Emerald held her sickles that had small gusts of winds coming out of their blades. When she swung them, her weapons unleashed small tornadoes that met the rain of small ice.
“Hey, hey! She’s getting away!”
Jaune realized this attack was a distraction as Aqua started turning into a mist of water. He quickly moved towards her so he could ram into her just as he felt his form feel intangible again.
By the time he felt his awareness return, Jaune had one hand push the Faunus down while his other quickly stabbed down Arc Save into his target’s stomach. Although the young Arc didn’t enjoy hearing Aqua’s gasp of pain, he made sure he had a firm grip on his blade. His attack wasn’t in its physical form, so all it did was drain energy without hurting its victim.
“Did you chase after me because you were after that reward before leaving?”
Aqua’s amused voice had Jaune look up to see that his hand was gripping the girl’s breast. Feeling its firm and soft form, he felt a rush of lust make his mind consider dangerous actions. He quickly let go and got up so he could keep a good distance away from the Faunus.
“That wasn’t meant to happen. I am so sorry.” Jaune saw his apology made Aqua giggle out of good nature.
“You have more than that to apologize for, but I can’t be mad at you when you still have that goofy nature from when we were kids.” The Faunus stood up only to bend over with a hand holding onto her side. “It feels like you took something went missing from inside me. Did that sword take some part of my purity too?”
Lou’s perverted laughter didn’t help Jaune in his dizziness. He had enough from his family’s heirloom, so Aqua’s sudden tease in this tense situation caught him off guard.
“So can you get out of my way, Jaune? I have an appointment to keep.” Back to normal, Aqua looked down when her hands didn’t grip anything after flexing. When her head came back up, her eyes leered at the boy holding her lance behind his back.
Keeping calm, Jaune stepped back forward and scanned the room to see they were inside an enclosed area that was bright from the ceiling lights. With the surrounding shelves holding cleaning supplies, he figured they were inside a closet located at an unknown part of the school.
“Jaune, give back my Water Lynx. It’s the whole reason why I came back to my dorm. Without it, I can’t finish my mission.”
“No, you can’t have it. If you really need it, you’re going to have to take it by force. I don’t even know why you’re going this far to listen to the White Fang. What is your mission anyways?”
Jaune realized he snapped at Aqua after he saw her look shocked from the tone of his voice. Despite his regret, he held in his apology because the girl had to explain herself first.
“I can’t tell you. If I do, it’ll make doing this a lot harder for me. It’s already hard when you came after me and said it was for my sake.” Sounding sad, the blue-haired Faunus stepped back as a hand gripped the part of her chest where her heart should be at. “It feels like you’re trying to carry out our promise, but that’s impossible because I bet you don’t even remember it!”
“But that’s where I come in. Hang on a sec, there’s something like that in your memories somewhere.”
To Jaune’s fortune, Lou brought up a memory that involved him looking at a younger version of Aqua. This period involved him making a pinky-swear with the girl who smiled as she exchanged their promise with each other.
“So you’ll make sure nobody will ever hurt us, even me?”
Jaune felt sick as he heard himself answer to a promise he never bothered remembering.
“Then if you become a Hunter, I’ll be become a Huntress with you. After that…we can protect and show both Humans and Faunus that we don’t need to hate each other.”
After the memory ended, Jaune felt his grip on Aqua’s lance weaken. “I guess…you’re mad that I wasn’t there to help you…after things between Humans and Faunus got bad.”
“I’m not angry, just hurt that you couldn’t be there to make us happy when we were miserable.” Aqua sniffed as she was apparently reliving bad times that played inside her mind. “I know you’re not to blame, but so many people hurt us. Humans were the reason why most of my family is gone. Even my own people ignored us because they thought we were wrong for hanging out with Humans. Nobody, not even Hunters, really did a damn thing for any of us!”
Jaune saw that Aqua was doing her best to hold in tears. He felt responsible since it was clear that she didn’t want to feel this way when she was carrying out her mission. Confused and frustrated, he asked, ”But I don’t get it, why didn’t you come to me earlier if you knew who I was?!”
“Because when you were getting picked on by that bully and hardly keeping up with the others, I didn’t see you as the same confident friend from our childhood. But just when you were getting better, when I tried to find the courage to see you, all of this shit came down on me.” As Aqua’s voice became shakier, tears started coming out of her eyes, signs that she was dealing with all kinds of negative emotions.
The young Arc couldn’t answer as he didn’t know what to exactly say, especially when the girl appeared ready to break down. When he took into account their earlier conversation, the boy slowly came up to the Faunus. “Even if you don’t blame me, I’m sorry for what happened to you and the others. What matters now is that we’re together again. If you need my help this time, you’ll get it.”
After taking one more step, Jaune heard Lou say, “Kid, remember her Dust weapon. Also know I was nice enough to put a veil of Aura around your body to counter her Semblance, so have at it.”
Jaune lowered the spear in his hand so it could lean against a wall. After that, he encircled his arms around the Faunus so he could give her a comforting hug. “If you hurry and escape to the city, we can meet up and rescue your brother together. It’s not too late to carry out that promise together.”
Two hands grabbed the boy by his shoulders and pulled him back. He looked up to see the Faunus was shaking her head with a mixture of disbelief.
“I already told you, I don’t believe in things like that anymore. After losing so much, there’s no way that everything is going to turn out alright,” Aqua said as she stepped back. Before Jaune could approach her again, he noticed water began to wrap around his body out of nowhere.
“H-hey!” the blonde exclaimed as he felt himself get lifted into the air. He looked down to see that he was in a sphere of water that acted as his prison. Only his head was poking out from the lower part so he could still breathe.
“Okay, I didn’t know she lied to us. And holy Dust, is that a tail?!”
Jaune looked at Aqua to find that the Faunus indeed had a tail of water sprouting from her skirt. He was so surprised that his jaw dropped, a reaction that made the girl giggle as she had her spear in hand.
“I did tell you the truth about my Semblance when it was in its normal form. Right now, I’m able to freely create and control any kind of liquid for a limited amount of time.” The blue feline placed her hand onto her hip. “You don’t learn this name till later, but it’s called Perfection, the form that comes after Semblance. It represents a more complete version of your abilities.”
While Jaune struggled to get out, he inwardly groaned once Lou exclaimed, “Oh, Perfection. That’s right. Wait, why does she know it? And why the hell did those teachers not teach you how to prepare for that kind of training?! Those lazy fakers need to get replaced by real educators!”
The blonde didn’t let Lou’s complaint distract him from making eye contact with his childhood friend. Desperate as he knew what she was going to do, he exclaimed, “Aqua, you don’t have to do this. Just run or something, but don’t do what’s going to kill you!”
The blue Faunus had both of her hands grab Jaune’s cheeks. Out of nowhere, she had her head close in so she could kiss the boy fully on his lips. Mind blank, he didn’t put up any resistance as a tongue went inside his mouth and interlaced with his own to make a slimy embrace. Unfamiliar pleasure made his heart beat fast and throat vibrate from his deep moans.
“Yowza, did not expect that! And hey, don’t you dare pull back! Keep your head there and take it like a man!”
After several seconds, Aqua pulled back as her mouth trailed a thin, wet line. Using a hand to wipe her mouth, she giggled, “That felt so good. There’s no way this could have been your first kiss, right?”
Jaune’s blush made the older girl briefly laugh out loud. As she finished, she remarked, “Then I guess that’s the best thing you gave me as I did for you. Shit, I already said goodbye to you. Why did you come after me?”
Aqua’s form started turning into mist, leaving the other boy horrified of what’s happening. As he struggled, he fell into deep sadness when he heard, “Please, don’t chase after me anymore or you’ll end up in more pain than me. Let this be the last time we see each other.”
“Oh no, those are dying words! Jaune, get out of there and use Arc Save!”
Jaune just finished powering up Lumen Burst that blew apart his spherical prison with an explosion of light. Landing on the ground with his clothes wet, he looked up to see the last droplets of Aqua’s form disappear. Unrelenting, the boy rammed through the door so his body could enter the large space of a hallway.
“Jaune? What were you doing in there?”
The boy looked up to see Pyrrha standing with Ruby and Sun. “I was talking to Aqua, but she ran off to do something. We need to find her right now!”
“Whoa, don’t panic. Our pals are looking while taking the ‘long way’ back to their rooms.” Sun’s smile showed that he was the mastermind for the juvenile action. “I’m sure they’ll find some sign of her if she goes there. We were actually going to check out one place where she might be going if she is part of the White Fang.”
“Really? Where would that be?” Jaune asked as he walked with the trio to their destination.
Ruby cocked Crescent Rose in its gun form. “She might be heading to the amphitheater. That’s where General Ironwood is scheduled to show the city’s representatives how the security is in the school.”
“So her mission is to assassinate the heads of our society,” sighed Lou from the inside. Yeah, you should probably go before things are handed to hell in a handbasket.”
“Are you students here?!” A new voice had Jaune and his friends turn to see two Atlas soldiers approach them. “Did you not hear the announcement? This school is on lockdown. You shouldn’t be in this area; it’s not safe.”
“We know. We were, uh, just about to head back to our rooms, right guys?” Sun’s question came with nodding heads from the others. One of the soldiers scratched his helmet before placing his hand on his headgear’s side.
“Command, this is Red Nine. I have several students here who are approaching their rooms. Please send escorts to my coordinates while we continue our patrol en route.”
After static gurgled from the helmet, the soldier glanced at the kids and said, “Stay put, we don’t want anything happening to the four of you while we’re on duty.”
“Hey, why do you get to call Command?” The second soldier’s whine was followed by his hand pushing on his ally’s shoulder. “You know my evaluation is shit because of dozing off. That call would have fixed that if I was the one who made it.”
“Sorry, it was the spur of the moment.” The first soldier shook his head. “Look, if you don’t doze off by the next evaluation, I’m sure your position won’t get replaced by one of those stupid robots.”
Sun round-kicked one of the soldier’s head while Ruby slammed a drop-kick into the other’s body. As bodies fell, the monkey looked down and remarked, “Damn it, kind of feel bad that he’ll lose his job now. We better go before he wakes up mad.”
While squeamish of the result, Jaune nodded as he and the others ran to the amphitheater. A few steps later, he heard footsteps before a woman shouted, “Hey, stop right there! I said stop!”
Now on the run from Atlas soldiers, the blonde Arc sprinted at full speed with the others. After turning one corner, he saw there were several soldiers down the hallway running towards them.
“I see them!” one soldier yelled before he and his comrades took out stun batons. As they raised their weapons, Sun ran ahead and had two astral clones appear beside him. All three monkeys struck at their respective targets to knock them out.
Still going at full speed, Sun took out his gunchucks and spun them to send several gunshots down the hallway. Probably thanks to his super hearing, his shots hit more soldiers running into the line of his bullets.
“Go, I got these guys!” the Faunus yelled before he rounded the corner to his right. Running straight on, Jaune veered his head to see that Sun and his clones were keeping more of the Atlas soldiers busy in the other hallway.
As the trio reached the stairs, Jaune looked down to see white androids, AK-200s, walking up the steps. With assault guns aimed forward, one announced, “Desist or retaliation will be met with equal force.”
“Ruby, get ready to grab Jaune and run.” Pyrrha raised her hands that glowed in a black color. “I’ll hold them off.” She held her position as the robots fired. Thanks to her Semblance, she managed to stop the flying bullets until an entire wall was floating in front of her and the others.
As the young Rose gripped his arm, the blonde glanced at his partner and said, “Thanks. Sorry for making all of you do this.”
“We trust you to do the right thing. There’s no need for thanks.” Despite her reply, Pyrrha smiled as she appreciated what her leader said. “On my mark-.”
“Dust rounds set and aim.” All androids said these words in a chorus as their guns made metallic clicks. “Main weapons ready, engaging targets.”
“-now!” Pyrrha yelled as she pulled back and thrust out her arm. This made the wall of bullets fly forward to meet the androids’ colorful rain of death. Upon collision, explosions went off in bright assortments that created rainbow of clouds in the air all around.
“Ooh, now that’s pretty,” Ruby said before she became a blur along with her package. An instant after, both her and Jaune’s body appeared at the stair’s bottom end. As she took out Crescent Rose in its scythe form, she began her dash with Jaune once again.
During their run, Ruby exclaimed, “So why are you after this girl? It can’t just be for the info she has!”
“She’s an old friend who I left behind a long time ago! I’m not going to do it a second time when we still have a promise to keep, not when we managed to get together again!”
“Ooh, that sounds so cool and romantic!” Ruby smiled wide, apparently impressed by the boy’s determination. “Well, we’re almost there. The amphitheater should come up through that-.”
A sudden earthquake had both teenagers stumble on their feet. When Jaune regained his balance, he feared for the worst as the sound of rushing water came from the distance. Hurrying on with Ruby, he eventually made it through the entrance to see that the battlefield was occupied by elements of great forces.
On one side, a muscular figure stood with metal covering its entire body. It had arms out to struggle against the waves of water flowing from the other side. The source of this river was coming from the giant head of a beast that’s made of the same, blue element. Both monster and iron man were on the ruined field of the amphitheater’s former arena.
Unsure on how to approach this, Jaune looked around and saw the General stand behind the group of his Human soldiers. Near him were people in formal clothes, most likely the representatives from the city. While glad they were safe, the blonde teenager didn’t enjoy how the iron figure was about to be skewered by the aqua monster’s fangs that were made of ice.
Suddenly, a discharge of intense electricity went off from the figure, lightning ripping through the water beast and stabbing into the ground and walls. As soon as it appeared, it stopped. By then, the monster of water evaporated into steam thanks to the heat from the intense electricity. At its former spot was Aqua, who coughed in pain while her body smoked and her aquatic tail slowly disappeared.
Appalled by this sight, Jaune noticed that the victor of this battle was Steele whose skin turned from iron back to its light color. His hair still black, the captain took several steps away from the Faunus. While cautious, he showed no signs of killing a girl whose Dust weapon was on the floor and in pieces.
“Surrender, you’ve lost this battle.” Ironwood’s announcement summoned more robotic and Human soldiers from other entrances. As their guns came up with clicks and clanks, their formation didn’t leave Aqua with much chances of escape.
“I guess I did. It’s my loss.” Aqua let out a small laugh that created confusion in the bystanders’ faces. To Jaune, he thought he heard an intense amount of sadness in her voice.
“But the war isn’t over.” No longer laughing, the blue feline glared at the leader of the Atlas military. “If you plan on winning like this, you’ll end up with more losses than gains, General.”
“No, she’s got a gun! Stop her!” Lou’s warning had the boy see his childhood friend reach for the gun that was attached to her back. Before he could run, he felt something hard hit him from the back to make his body hit the floor.
“Of all times, these Faunus fuckers attack you when you’re distracted?!”
As Jaune felt terrible from hearing Lou’s curse word, he also felt restraints wrap around his wrists. He looked up to see that Ruby was also on the ground with Atlas soldiers tying her up with handcuffs. Feeling his Aura’s weakening gave the notion that his body was under the influence of a Null Stone.
Feeling helpless, Jaune looked ahead to see a sight that made his insides twist and turn. His sudden ascension from the ground managed to surprise the soldiers enough for him to get away and run towards Aqua.
“Aqua? What are you doing?!” The blond felt frantic as his long-lost friend had the barrel of the gun aimed at her head. Despite his best attempts to run and ignore others telling him to stop, his attention focused on Aqua, who turned and mouthed the words he regretfully managed to read as one sentence.
“The rest is up to you now.”
Out came the blast of a loaded gun. Next came the sound of an empty bullet shell landing on the ground. After a body fell onto the floor, silence ensued throughout the vast space of the amphitheater.
While others were silent out of surprise, Jaune’s came from utter shock and despair. He didn’t understand why she did it. He didn’t even know if there was a point to such an action.
All the boy knew was that his former friend was now a lifeless body on the cold stone of the ruined arena floor. The worst part was how she did it by choice, indicating that she had nothing else to look forward to despite their promise together.
Feeling he was to blame for letting this happen, Jaune could only let tears come out of his eyes as his knees met the solid ground. His mind shut down, canceling out the voices of Lou and the soldiers coming in to take him away.