Jaune: The Strong (Volume 1)

Fame and Infamy

Chapter 7: Fame and Infamy

“I’m sorry for not telling you Jaune. You were tired and at the time and I didn’t believe events were going to escalate so quickly.”

Jaune nodded as he and Pyrrha walked through the hallways in their normal, battle wear. Clinking in his white armor, he replied, “And I don’t blame you. It’s just weird that something like this happened in a few days. Are people really going to place the Faunus in that kind of position again?”

“When they’re scared of more disasters like the one from before, a reaction like this is bound to happen.” The saddened Pyrrha stopped with Jaune in front of Ozpin’s office, their desired destination. Raising hand to present the door like a prize, she said, “Well, here it is. Are you going to be fine by yourself, Jaune? We can always go in together, even ask the headmaster for more details on what is happening.”

“I’ll be alright,” the boy answered. “It’s just a checkup on how my body is. Nothing that bad…unless Goodwitch is here.”

“She is. Used Skill 5 to scan the area with a bit of your Aura. A pain in the ass, but it’s worth it as I can tell you there’s not much to be worried about.”

Taking Lou for its word, Jaune just waved at Pyrrha as she left to leave her partner to his task. After taking a deep breath, he slowly opened the door to find an unexpected surprise.

“Hey, the man of the hour rises from the grave.” Sun waved his hand from his standing position. “Yo, feeling better? You must be tired if you passed out from fighting so awesome the other day.”

Jaune nodded as he saw the monkey stand next to Coco, who had her glasses down to get a better view. At the other side was Ruby giving Jaune a nervous wave of hello. All three students were standing in front of the desk occupied by Ozpin with Goodwitch at his side.

“H-hey everyone, Professor Goodwitch.” Jaune inwardly yelped when the blonde teacher glared at him. “I’m here for my checkup, but it looks like everyone is pretty busy, so I’ll come back later.”

Before the blonde could leave, he saw Ozpin shake his head. “I was actually in the process of calling you to tell you about this meeting ahead of time that comes before the examination. You can thank the ones who were already here for that.”

“Me?” Jaune asked as he pointed a finger at himself. “Why?”

“Because of your participation during the time the city was attacked by Grimm. It is this along with the others here why you and your team may be in a difficult position. That is why with this info in mind, I implore that you stay for the sake of future events.”

Ozpin’s tone held a hint of professional urgency that made Jaune close the door and take his place between Sun and Ruby.

“Hey, thanks for rescuing me the other day,” Ruby whispered. Jaune simply nodded with a smile as he was glad to see his friend was fine.

“Ooh, Summer’s kid is looking cute. And since she’s a half-sister, you’re allowed to go after both her and Yang. Their dad probably told them it’s okay for guys like him to have two mommies, that player.”

Jaune felt sick to hear Lou laugh at its dark joke about justified adultery that may not even be true. Regaining focus, he noticed that the room became silent and tense as Professor Ozpin stood out of his chair.

After taking a sip from his cup in hand, Ozpin began, “Now, all four of you were asked to come because some disturbing changes have been ongoing in the city and school.”

“Yes, we do have the idiots from Atlas making a riot with those stupid confetti bombs of theirs. Talk about a waste of time using their know-how on tech.” Coco placed her glasses back on while she tapped one heel on the ground from annoyance. “Can you believe they tried to roll one of those things into my team’s dorm? We were lucky Fox threw the thing out of the room before it popped someone’s eardrum.”

“If those nerds were so smart, then they wouldn’t have put a dumb timer on that pitiful party ball in the first place.”

Jaune mentally agreed as Lou made a point. He also noticed Sun glance over his way for some reason.

“Yeah, the same thing happened to my dorm. It was so much worse than Weiss’s alarm clock.” Ruby shuddered, a sign that she and her team has fallen victim to the confetti balls unlike the other teams. “Why did they do this to our room and the others? It’s pretty rude for them to do something like that in the first place.”

“Retaliation against the teams that have Faunus for team members.” Ozpin finished his walk around the desk. Jaune felt more attentive as the headmaster was closer to solidify presence and eye contact. “And yes, this may sound immature for Atlas students, but they are still teenagers nonetheless. Their own headmaster, General Ironwood, is taking the steps to discipline them for such unacceptable behaviors.”

Jaune frowned at this news as he knew this didn’t solve the real issue. He noticed Ruby and Sun recreate his own expression while Coco simply checked her nails with a calm demeanor. In need of answers, he said, “I’ve heard Atlas is handling the Faunus in both the city and Beacon. Is a fighting force from another Kingdom really allowed to do this kind of thing?”

“It is since the Vytal Festival’s approach is taken into account.” Ozpin set down his cup while his other hand held onto his cane. “As all Kingdoms are to come together in what is to be a joyous occasion, security matters would go to those who hold the best qualifications. Since our current number of Huntsmen is unable to assemble, the present military force is considered more reliable along with those who command them.”

“Even if it means hurting the Faunus?” With a soft, quiet voice, Ruby asked, “Do we really have to treat them in such a terrible way? This all seems wrong.”

“Whether such actions are right or wrong, I cannot say. So much has happened to where the oppressors and oppressed cannot be entirely righteous.” Speaking with a strong tone laced with assurance, the headmaster’s frown melted into a small smile. “But this is all a temporary measure. Finding the White Fang, masterminds, or seeing a peaceful passing of the Vytal Festival are conditions that must occur before the city’s residents are to find the time of peace we’ve all had before. Until then, we can only ask for everyone to be patient as waiting appears to be the safest choice.”

Jaune heard Sun huff in frustration, a reaction understood to be coming from a descendent of the species in question. He saw Ruby cross her arms and slightly whine, “We can’t go on a mission to take care of the bad guys? If we can find them, then that means everything will go back to normal faster.”

“Finally, someone says something interesting. Jump on board her train, Jaune!”

“No, not this time, Ruby.” Ozpin shook his head to place emphasis on his decision, which made Lou scream inside Jaune’s head out of frustration. “To be frank, my position will have little effect in these matters. This means any student of Beacon who acts out of line may not get away with a simple warning, especially when the Normal Coalition is around to keep tabs. I even believe the participants of this morning’s disturbances would be members of this small society.”

The term, Normal Coalition, had the others form faces of discomfort. Even for the calm Coco, she lightly groaned as a hand went up to her forehead. “Don’t tell me that club is actually going to come together. I thought it would only take a few of them to use Ironwood as their panic button if they’re up to no good again.”

“Nope, they’re also spreading lies about how Faunus are the real evil in Vale.” Sun cracked his knuckles to show his growing anger. “It was funny at first, but I can’t ignore this anymore if people like them are starting to get together. I don’t care if people say their ‘corrections’ are what the people need. They should all just bitch to a therapist, not at the helpless folks of my kind.”

Jaune noticed Ruby’s eyes widened at Sun’s use of language. Jaune was also shocked, even if he understood that the monkey did it out of anger.

“I’m afraid General Ironwood has given his consent. For him to make a decision does seem strange as he should be aware of the repercussions.” Ozpin had a hand under chin that showed he was really thinking about a case he couldn’t decipher, despite coming from a fellow headmaster.

To see Ozpin, a respected headmaster and reliable councilor, in his confused state worried the students, especially Jaune.

“Perhaps it’s good to find ask of that in my next meeting with the General. For the sake of having all of you reach your classes in time, I will say now that all of you were asked to come here so I may give each of you new responsibilities.”

Jaune exchanged glances with Ruby and Sun before he looked forward and asked, “Responsibilities? What kind of responsibilities?”

“The ones I believe will be handled well by the leaders who have led their teams into battle the other day.” As Ozpin gave a suspicious smirk, he corrected, “However, these are not missions, more in the nature of favors due to our unique circumstance. As such, all of you are free to decide if your team will become involved in what I have in mind.”

“Sounds like he’s trying to butter you kids up…he has me sold. Accept it, Jaune. Getting permission will mean he’s got to have your back in some way. It’ll be nice if you’re ever going to get things done as a hero.”

Jaune nodded not just for Lou, but to show the others he was willing to listen. “What can we do to help?”

“An appreciative response, Jaune,” Ozpin said. “For starters, I would like for Team Sun to keep an eye on the students, especially the Faunus. Team Ruby should maintain a close watch of the city as all of you have always come up with interesting results. Ms. Adel, I have noticed Team Coffee has accepted missions outside of the city. Take the time to see any unusual behavior that may be out of society’s range of awareness.”

While heads nodded to show acceptance, Coco said, “Sure, we can do that. We’re not really leaving until later, so we’ll also lend a hand here if it’s needed.” Pulling glasses down to have her eyes revealed, she finished, “Now, I’m kind of curious as to see how our actions are going to avoid getting into trouble by the General and his group.”

“Why, Ms. Adel, I believe a favor asked by the headmaster will give you some leeway in handling matters. A simple signature may even help all of you reach destinations thought to be impossible in these times.”

The listeners could have sworn that Ozpin had a small, mischievous glint in his eye. Lou seemed to notice as he told Jaune, “That beautiful bastard is giving all of you a chance to become heroes. Get ready Jaune cause we’re…wait, why didn’t he give us an assignment?”

Just as Jaune wondered the same thought, Ozpin motioned his head towards the doorway. “Everyone but Jaune is to leave. That would include you, Professor Goodwitch.” The gray-haired elder gave his colleague a stern gaze to show he was serious.

“By the way, love your necklace. What designer made something this beautiful?” Jaune turned to see Coco walking up to him so she could have her hand raise Lou’s jewel form. The boy felt nervous as the brunette’s lavender aroma invaded his senses from her close distance.

Keeping focus, Jaune said, “It’s a family heirloom. I don’t think you can get it anywhere else.”

“Really? Damnit, I was hoping there was a jewelry shop that could replace the store that was trashed a while back.” Coco sighed as she let go before leaving. “If you ever feel like putting that up for auction, just let me know, okay?”

“Ooh, keep that offer in mind. I forgot women like the pretty things. Jaune, we’re going to make you rich at some point in time so your variety of female cast can reach a new girth…tee hee, weenie joke.”

Jaune inwardly sighed as he waved his hand to say goodbye to Sun and Ruby going through the main entrance. When he saw Goodwitch about to make her own exit, he said, “Professor, I’m really sorry for the other day. I’ll fix myself so you’ll never have to go through something like that again.”

The addressed woman stopped at the doorway as her eyes gave Jaune a curious gaze. After Goodwitch adjusted her glasses with a hand, she replied, “You have done nothing wrong, young man. We all understand you’re still new to your control over Aura. Yet, if you are eager to prove yourself, show it to me in the next practice match.”

As Jaune nodded while Goodwtich left, he heard Lou cackle, “Aww, so sweet. An ambitious student wants to impress his teacher, who is already flattered by his concern for her well-being. Well, she does look like the old-fashioned type. She’ll be a work-in-progress along the way.”

“Now what meaning would such a comment entail? Would you care to elaborate on that?”

Jaune jumped while Lou mentally shrieked as they heard Ozpin literally speak to interact with the telepathic jewel.

“Y-you can hear me?!”

“Why yes, although it is interesting to note how you have an interesting vocabulary compared to the others in this school. Honestly, how on earth have you found a lifeform such as this one, Jaune?” Ozpin went back to his desk’s chair to take a seat. Looking up with hands clasped together, the headmaster gave Jaune his full attention.

Staying silent for a moment, Jaune finally took the hint of how Ozpin was waiting for an answer. Seeing no reason to lie, he replied, “I’m not exactly sure since our meeting was pretty random. It calls itself Lou, something that told me it’s a heirloom of my family.”

“That’s strange. Your family has never mentioned something like this.” As a man who had some ties with past fighters, Ozpin pointed at Lou’s necklace form. “Is it possible for it to speak out loud? While telepathic exchanges are interesting, it still requires a good concentration of Aura to keep up with.”

“Oh, so that’s how you found out. You’re pretty sharp for an old man compared to a wound up broad like Goodwitch.” Speaking out loud for the first time since the rooftop, Lou unhooked its string so it could float off of Jaune’s neck and fly into a comfortable view. “Yeah, communicating like that uses up some Aura. Just thought it was more convenient since a talking rock like me tends to make people think otherwise. Plus, it helps as I’m trying to be Jaune’s wingman here.”

Ozpin chuckled at Lou’s comment. “Wingman? My, the younger generations do tend to liberate themselves from the old ways. Has he been making any progress so far?”

“Getting stronger? Yeah. Getting girls? Eh, there’s something.” Lou shook itself as if it was a hand making the ‘so-and-so’ motion. Jaune was more surprised to see how the talking necklace and Ozpin could converse like drinking buddies.

“So Lou, will we have a pleasure of an introduction? Because if you have been helping Jaune, then we may need to discuss how we will be taking care of him from this point on.” After Lou nodded its pointy body, Ozpin leaned back in his chair as if preparing for a lengthy conversation.

Confused, Jaune stood up straight in an attempt to look attentive amongst the mature figuers. “Take care of? Is something going to happen to me?”

“I’m afraid so,” Ozpin answered with a solemn nod. “As you know, members of the Normal Coalition are sensitive about others who ally themselves with the Faunus. This morning’s retaliation may be the least of what we are to expect from them, especially when Team Cardinal is most likely to join them.”

Feeling vulnerable from hearing the news, Jaune had to ask, “Would they probably have something like a hit list?” Switching gears the last minute, he nervously laughed, “Well, that’s probably ridiculous. I mean, they wouldn’t go so far as to lynch me, right? I didn’t even do anything to them.”

“No, the situation is quite different based on the attention you have garnered from yesterday’s battle. Perhaps this video will help give the right idea.” Ozpin raised his Scroll to where Jaune could see the screen. The blonde saw a video of yesterday’s battle playing on it.

“Jaune Arc, the Boy Wonder.” Reading the title, the boy glanced at the descriptions typed below. “Leader of Juniper annihilates the bully of Cardinal. A hero to victims, the oppressed Faunus.” Shaking his head, Jaune looked up at Ozpin and stated, “This can’t be the reason why they would think I’m a problem, right? Cardin bullies not just Faunus, but everyone else.”

Ozpin leaned over to tap a screen that was minimized at the bottom of the Scroll. From there appeared another video titled, “Jaune, Hero of All.” This media replayed the quotes that Jaune gave about his views on the Faunus to Cardin. Unlike the last one, the comments below were full of praises, curses, and heated discussions.

“For the best or worst, people have decided to make you a symbol of sorts. By the process of propaganda, you now have the school believe you’re sided with the Faunus and opposing the Normal Coalition.” The headmaster shook his head in an apologetic manner. “I’m sorry, Jaune. This only happened because the timing was too perfect with Atlas’s start of their occupation. When people are looking for sides to pick, they look for strong figures that would represent them. You, Jaune Arc, are now considered a hero of Faunus and enemy of the growing Normal Coalition.”

By this time, the boy of attention had his jaw slack, making his mouth open wide in shock. He didn’t even react to Lou’s budging against his shoulder.

“Kid? Hey, Jaune. Snap out of it. This is a good thing.” Lou floated in front of its owner’s face while its body showed a small, white glow. “Get it? This is fame right here. All the lovely Faunus in this school now have their eyes on you. And when you’re beating those normies’ asses, the Human side of females will fall in line. This is a chance in a lifetime; get ready to rock their world, hero.

Jaune answered by groaning out loud while his hands went to his face. He preferred taking suspension, especially if would help him avoid anybody that is now trying to get him. He also shuddered to think of the other aces in the school that will eventually become his enemy within due time.

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