At the genesis, there was but dust and darkness. From dust they came, Humankind was born into the world. Remnant, they called it. They learned, grew, and advanced in their ways. But from the darkness, came the Grimm. They were sinister, evil, malevolent creatures, which preyed upon humanity. For a time, it seemed as though all was lost. But Humankind found a weapon that would allow them to repel their predators. Dust they called, it, from whence they came, the power to create, and to destroy.
With it, they challenged the Grimm. Nature's Wrath descended upon their aggressors, and the Grimm were forced back into the darkness from which they'd crawled out. With their newfound peace, Humankind built even greater kingdoms, with the power which they had discovered. They ushered into an age of technomagical prosperity. Their kingdoms grew, and they forged a path all of their own in their harsh, unforgiving world.
But there is balance in all things. The moment light burns at its brightest, does it cast the darkest of shadows.
He shifted in his seated stupor.
"Elwyn. We're at the site."
A beat passed. "I'm up, old man," Elwyn groaned, his green eyes fluttering open. He lifted his head and saw his father leaning over him. The old man's eyes were sunken into their sockets, looking slightly bulged because of the crooked spectacles he wore. His father stepped back to give him space. Elwyn stood up, stretching and cracking his joints. "We here already?"
"Get going, we need to check back and cross reference the data as soon as possible."
"Right, gotcha," Always work with you, Elwyn thought. He scratched the back of his tousled brown hair, yawning right after. A few moments later his father handed him a lance looking weapon. It was a dull, silver color, with a large glowing cylinder near a tonfa grip halfway down the shaft and near the lance-tip. The cylinder looked similar to ones you'd find on a revolver, except larger, and each chamber filled with Dust instead of a bullet. He grabbed the 'lance' by its tonfa grip, where a gauntlet connected to the shaft began to wrap around his forearm, a mechanical hiss signaling that everything was locked and in order, sending a jolt through his arm. "Interface seems fine." He said as he made swinging and stabbing motions. He hefted the pilebunker around. Light enough, he supposed.
"Get," his father said flatly.
"Alright already, geez," he growled. He flicked his arm forward and back abruptly, cocking the pilebunker in the process with a loud metallic clack. He made a motion with his right hand, and the tonfa handle retreated. The pilebunker compressed itself into a smaller form, which rested below his forearm, hanging by the gauntlet.
Elwyn stood over a launch hatch. The Nevermore was probably directly below them at this point. Atlas didn't really cut corners with stealth systems in their transports. But it would only take a few more seconds before it sensed their presence. A loud shriek told them it already had. Without another word, the hatch in front of him hissed opened. He peered down, and sure enough, a large, black shape was flying below them. Rather, toward them. He jumped down through the hatch with some hesitation.
Just like the simulators, just like the simulators, he repeated over and over to himself as he fell through the sky. Below them was a vast field that spread in all directions. His admiration for the spectacle was cut short by the Grimm shooting up at him. Up close, the Nevermore glowed sinisterly in the afternoon sunlight. This one was larger than their transport ship, and honestly, it was a little terrifying if he were to face it alone. He felt his breath catch a few times under his breathing mask. Thankfully he wasn't alone.
A loud explosion filled his ears, along with the sight of the Nevermore getting bombarded by grenades. Several grey shapes appeared around him, three of Atlas' prototype models for a new line of androids. The prototypes took out their rifles and began to shoot at the disgruntled Nevermore, who was now ready to strike at these pesky insects that had disturbed its flight. It started to fall, its back towards the ground below, and shoot at its assailants with razor-sharp feathers. They launched off the Nevermore like bullets, causing Elwyn to fling his body weight to one side to avoid being skewered. Two of the prototype droids managed to get through the initial volley, but the last one was sliced cleanly in half.
Strike one for evasional judgment.
He streamlined himself, and readied his pilebunker, bring his arm back and ready to strike.
I can do this.
The pilebunker deployed from its box-like stasis, the gauntlet now extending modular pieces of armor which acted as shock absorbers up along his arm, in order to absorb the massive recoil from the weapon. One thing he was slightly thankful for, despite his old man being an absolute dictator when it came to testing out new weapons was that there was never a dull moment in his life ever since he turned 17. Because his father was a researcher and weapons developer for Atlas, he was often called upon to test out possible new equipment for the military and the academy back in Atlas. Why his father insisted on his son be the one to test possibly volatile equipment, he had no idea. But hey, whatever works.
He landed on the Nevermore's head. It wasn't too pleased with that. They were several more meters from the ground when the Nevermore decided to swoop back up again into the sky. He lost his balance and was sent tumbling over. He was back in a free-fall, looking up as the Nevermore started to fly away. He stayed as calm as he could, breathing rapidly into his mask. He shifted his weight. A few more moments and would wind up as a stain on the ground. He aimed his pilebunker towards the Nevermore. He grabbed the pilebunker by the rear shaft, and pushed hard. The main body transformed into the shape of a crossbow, the lance tip aimed directly at the Nevermore. He pulled a trigger on the tonfa handle, and the lance launched through the air, a sturdy metal wire connecting it to the main body. He hit his mark.
The Nevermore was too busy dealing with the other two pests to sense that it was not rid of the third. It had sliced one of the prototypes in two once more with its projecticle talons, before ripping apart the last one with its powerful beak. It was a split second later that it sensed something flying towards it. It looked back out of instinct, and found a lance pierce through one side of its bony faceplate. The Nevermore shrieked, jerking and flailing in mid-air, confused at its loss of eyesight. Elwyn clicked the trigger on the tonfa-handle again. He was jerked violently forward and went sailing through the air, just before he splattered on the ground below. The shock absorbers on his arm had worked. If it hadn't been there, his arm would have probably been ripped clean off the socket. He readied the pilebunker, loaded since he jumped the free-fall. As soon as the lance's metal tether was fully retracted into the main body, he growled and fired the pilebunker as it was lodged into the thrashing Nevermore. The Red Dust ignited, and a large explosion engulfed the Nevermore from within.
It exploded fantastically, fizzling electricity arcing through the air as the Nevermore fell back toward the ground. Where the head had once been, was left an array of wires and circuitry, decapitated and bleeding machine oil. He had to hand it to Atlas engineers. It was a realistic depiction of a Nevermore, as far as he could tell. As he rode the robot-Nevermore's carcass as it crashed to the ground, he braced for impact. The test was over now.
As he hopped off the mangled robot-Nevermore's body, he took off his breathing mask. Jumping from high altitudes gave him a certain rush he couldn't explain. He breathed in deeply, and saw his transport ship starting to make round. "I think the prototypes need some adjustment," he called out. His father was standing near the side hatch of one of them, clearly looking displeased.
Great what did I screw up this time?
As his father's transport landed, he all but ignored Elwyn and went straight to some mangled remains of the prototypes he had sent out. He was sure that he got the algorithm for their movements correct. Was it a hiccup? Did something interfere with their sensors? High altitude perhaps? These thoughts raced through his mind as his son watched on, rolling his eyes and walking towards the remains of the fake Nevermore. The scientists at the research institute said Nevermores were actually much more durable than their creation, but the basic attack patterns and principles remained the same. They needed quick and accessible data for various weapons and prototypes, so they decided that each of the Grimm replicas they had were just a tad more vulnerable. They would do cross-referencing to actual Grimm data later. He looked back at the battle, and tried to think of ways that the Nevermore could be more realistic. It had these robotic tells and cricks every now and then, such as pausing slightly mid-flight or between each volley of talons. Programming their attack patterns could only go so far as of now, especially with something as large as a Nevermore. An Ursa or a Beowulf, perhaps, but a Nevermore was a different entity altogether-
Elwyn shook his head to clear it. Now he was thinking like his father. He had nothing against the man. He'd taken him in when he was younger, after which he was enrolled into the hunter training academy at Atlas. For whatever reason, he didn't know, maybe to prepare him for testing all of these new weapons. He looked at the pilebunker on his right arm. It was called the Dust-Integrated-Pilebunker-System, or D.I.P.S. (Deeps) as he liked to call it. Whatever the reason, he enjoyed the feeling of the fight though. It was something that kept him going, it made him feel useful. He was orphaned early, by what he can't really remember, but it made him feel like he had no place in the world. And he'd always dreamed of becoming a hunter. That much he remembered. After four years of academy training however, he was pulled out. He wasn't a horrible hunter, he was above average in multiple respects. Maybe his father really was just planning to use him as a weapons tester. Not that he was complaining. It did put his dreams of huntership on hold though.
"Some kinks to work out," he heard his father call out from behind him. "But you did good, kid."
Elwyn cracked a small laugh. He really couldn't hope to fully understand his father any time soon, but that was alright for him. He walked up next to his father. "A lot better than the last one. I didn't dislocate my shoulder on this one," he said, showing off the improved pilebunker he still had mounted on his right arm.
His father gave a dry chuckle. "At this point it's not even a pilebunker anymore."
Elwyn looked thoughtful for a moment. "Lancebunker? Pilelance?"
A moment of silence, and a shrug. It didn't really matter to his father what he named it. As long as it was in working order. As for the prototypes cyborgs that were to replace the AK-130s, they still needed to work out some problems with the programming. For the most part, they had done what they came here to do.
It was amazing that they found a private area of land for their testing purposes. Then again, with the amount of money Atlas puts into its military expenses, it was probably a cakewalk for them to find this… or acquire it through other means. While they were part of the Atlasian Military, they were far from territorial waters. In order to keep these tests on the hush hush, they had to move their facility and research team. As of now, they were within the territory of the Kingdom of Vale.
"Beacon is in Vale, right?" Elwyn asked, he and his father boarded a their transport vehicle, a Quezacoatl high speed transport plane, the same one they were riding half an hour earlier before the testing began. His father looked nonchalantly at the notes that he'd gathered.
"That Hunter academy, yes?" he answered almost absent mindedly. "If I recall right, by airship it wouldn't be too far south of here."
Wonder what it would be like… Elwyn's mind started to drift. Beacon was an academy from which all of the top and famous hunters and huntresses come from. "Maybe one day," he whispered hopefully. As the jet vertically took off, there was a loud beeping that came from one of the onboard communication nodes. His father took his eyes off his research and went up to the node. He hovered his hand over it, and a screen showed a stream of information. It was an emergency coded broadcast. Elwyn got up from his seat and looked at the screen.
"What is it?"
"A Schnee Company Transport Train sent out a distress signal just now. It's under attack," his father paused a bit, deciphering the runes more. "Biometrics scans of the AK-130s confirm the intruders are Faunus. It could be the White Fang," he finished. He input some commands to a console. The Quezacoatl rose higher. The vessel started to swivel towards the south. They were headed to the attack site.
Elwyn caught his breath. "We're going to intercept them? The White Fang, and we're going to try and intercept them?" He croaked. He knew much about the organization. They were radical Faunus, who used violence to try and gain equality for the Faunus in a Human-centric world. At one point, he knew that the White Fang were peaceful. But now their leader was hell-bent on bringing about equality, one way or the other.
He also knew for a fact that these people were professionally trained fighters and assassins. He'd had combat training at the Atlas Academy, but he wasn't sure if he was ready to fight professionals, let alone terrorists. He remembered, however, that he owed a great deal to the Schnee family. Well, not him personally, but the company helped supply the Atlasian military with the Dust they needed. They also provided funding for the more… covert cells of the military. Such as the one he and his father belonged to.
"We're still part of the military. I've already asked for a recovery team to take care of the test site," his father said sternly. He scanned the screen that popped up. More data had entered the flow. Another communication broadcast, this time from their Headquarters itself. "The closest units have already been required to sortie. We're the closest patrol that train's got."
I've had a good life, he thought morbidly. The Quezacoatl took off with a burst of speed. If they hadn't braced themselves in their seats beforehand, they would've been flung to the back of the craft. Through the windows he spied their destination: The Foreverfall Forest. There was a clear divide between the Northern Plains from where they'd come and the Foreverfall. The rust-red trees extended over hills, plains, and mountains as far as the eye could see. Through a low-slung valley clearing winded a huge pathway, a railroad that trains, from passenger to cargo, took in order to avoid the imminent dangers in the forest, such as the Grimm. They'd soon catch up to their target in a little over a minute.
Elwyn donned his actual combat clothing now as the aircraft reached cruising speed. A white military coat with a pauldron on both shoulders and Kevlar padding across the chest. He wore a visor that extended from the earpiece, leaving his lower face exposed but encompassing his jawline. His pants remained the same, black cargo pants that were made of durable material. He stepped his favorite pair of boots into some modular armor tech, which would help with his landing. He equipped his pilelance, already allowing the modular armor creep up his arm and attach to the pauldron. He disconnected the lance from the gauntlet, and wielded it like he would a spear, gripping it along the shaft. The handle extended to accustom itself to the new mode. When he rested the butt end of the shaft on the ground, the lance was a little under a head taller than his 5 foot 10 stature.
"Ready to initiate Dragoon drop," he called out to his father. His father looked away from the ship controls for a moment. It was his own idea to give a name to how he entered the battlefield. He'd heard Dragoon was what greatly skilled lancers were called a long time ago.
"10 seconds," was all his father replied with.
Elwyn cocked the tonfa grip, loading the next revolver shell into the tip of the lance, ready to fire the Blue Dust at any time. The hatch opened a second time that day. The sunset showered the forest with a dull, orange glow, making the forest even more beautiful than it had minutes before. The train was below them now. He saw ruins of AK-130s strewn across its surface. 5 more seconds.
"If it gets dangerous, get out of there. At least we can say we tried."
Elwyn merely nodded, before jumping from the Quezacoatl. Second free-fall of the day. The wind rushed him as he fell from the airship. It was a good feeling, so much so that whenever he practiced his 'Jump', he wished that he could fly. Or at least, fall with style.
The fall from the airship took a second or two before he was about to land on one of the train cars. The airship had to fly high to avoid the mountains on either side of the valley. One thing they taught you at Atlas academy: shock-troop deployment. Because of Atlas' technology, their hunters had ways of entering battlefields in creative ways. Shot from a cannon? Sure. Riding a high tech jet? No problem. Free falling from a few hundred feet above ground? Piece of cake. Whatever their aesthetic, students were allowed to choose from a variety of situations that they could practice on, as electives. You never know, right? In a world where most people he knew could scale the height of a building in a few seconds by running or where one could undermine the laws of physics on a whim, what he was doing wasn't that much of a long shot in the first place. So Elwyn took up the art of HALO jumping. Given this particular jump wasn't that high in the first place.
They always thought he was crazy for wanting to master something like this. Not that he didn't wind up with a few broken bones early on. But he got better at it. Eventually. In the few seconds it took for him to drop down, he aimed his lance at the surface of the train car. A moment before landing, he loosed a shot from his lance. The force exerted by the explosion of Ice Dust was enough to cushion his fall, and he landed safely with a flourish.
"Yeah, that felt good," he praised himself. He heard a click sound from his helmet. His father contacted him via radio.
"The mountains get choppy up ahead. I'll be seeing you on the other side."
"And kid," a beat passed. "Good luck."
Yeah, that's what you say to your kid when you allow him to fight professional terrorists. Thanks dad. He started his way forward, entering one of the train cars. Multiple AK-130s lay in ruin, lying in their own spent shell-casings. They'd all been sliced in one way or another.
"Guess someone took a sword to a gunfight," he chuckled. Obviously he was nervous at this point. Whoever could take down an entire contingent of AK-130s meant business. His visor's scanners picked up movement. Someone was rushing at him. On impulse, he raised his lance in defense. He felt a weapon collide with the handle of his lance. The force sent him reeling backwards slightly. He was met with another series of blows. He blocked one after the other, trying to gain some ground. He clashed with his assailant's weapon, bracing himself, before deflecting it violently. His assailant flipped backwards, landing gracefully.
Definitely not what I was expecting a terrorist to look like.
He went into a stance, pointing the lance straight forward.
"Leave, and I'll guarantee your safety," he heard her call out. A pair of amber eyes locked onto his. They were calculating, calm… sad. Her pupils seemed to form slits as far as he could tell. It was distinct in their low-lit conditions. A cat Faunus?
"No can do, Kitty," he started, trying to sound authoritative. "On behalf of the Atlasian Military I order you to stand down or face charges of trespassing and theft on Schnee company property."
If he could hear an audible crack in someone's demeanor, her narrowing eyes would have probably been it. He heard it like a thunderstrike. She was angry. Was it the Kitty? She braced backwards, before lunging at him at full speed, brandishing her jet-black katana at him. Not seeing any other choice, he decided to meet her offense with his own.
It was probably the Kitty.