Chapter 1: Cat and Bull
If there was any doubt that he was able to go toe to toe with a terrorist, this fight would put those thoughts to rest. In a good way. Sort of. One thing that really bugged him was how she managed to fight with that magnificent head of hair of hers.
While he was finding some even ground fighting Kitty, it wasn't like he was winning either. At least all those years of training at the academy weren't just for show. To say the least, he felt pride swelling within him. Maybe he wasn't that far off at becoming a hunter. Well, if he died here, that little dream would be cut short. But hey, he'd go down fighting, right?
No, I'm going to live.
I want to live.
Fear was something that gripped him right now. Despite the fear, he pushed onwards. Either it was bravery or foolishness, but it helped him keep on his toes. A quick horizontal swipe. Guard. An overhead smash. Guard. Roll away. Keep my defenses up. It was a little difficult, considering they were swinging at each other at around three strikes in the span of a second. Through their fight there was some sort of understood respect for one another, well, after he'd called her 'Kitty'.
It went on unsaid, as his lance clashed with her blade, as he blocked a bullet with his gauntlet. He prided himself in his defense. But he couldn't strike.
It was the fear.
If he tried to strike, and he left an opening, that would be it. He was content at delaying it as long as he could. He tried to urge his body to do something other than his routine blocks, but he faltered too much to do anything about it.
Their dance continued. She was always on the offensive. Even if he'd found an opening, could he take it? As one of his instructors said, a powerful, lion Faunus: "Offense is the greatest defense". Her strikes were precise, fluid, seamless. At times, he was entranced by it, like it was a dance that he didn't want to end, because ending it would mean that one of them would die. It was probably going to be him.
She didn't want to kill him. Well, she did at first because of that 'Kitty' remark, but not anymore. To an extent. The boy had put up a good fight so far. He was young, probably her age. She kept him on the defensive. His style had some kinks, but his defenses were solid, like he was used to being on the 'losing end'. Did that make sense? Not to get ahead of herself, but she was proficient fighter. She'd fought Adam to a standstill multiple times.
Maybe he was holding back for her.
The thought made her internally shudder.
She wasn't planning on this little distraction. She planned to go with Adam and 'hijack' the train, only to cut off his escape and leave him in the middle of the Foreverfall. Perhaps if she had asked Adam to check out the noise, she would be gone by now. But he was planning on setting the charges and killing everyone aboard. When she saw the Quezacoatl fly overhead, she knew Adam would have killed anyone who'd stepped off the plane. She said she'd take care of it.
A small side of her wanted him to give up already. Despite the fact that she had started to respect his skills in the short time they clashed, he'd put a delay on her plans to escape. If she took too long, Adam would check up on her. It was now or never.
Their weapons became a whirling cacophony of clashing metal as neither one let up on the other. The girl's technique with the Katana was too quick for him to find any sort of opening without leaving his own defenses to suffer. The visor helped him track her lightning quick movements. It constantly fed him with data that he tried to process as fast as he could. Data on how she would strike and when, at what angle, in which intervals. It bogged down his mind just trying to take it all in. His father said that with enough data he would be unstoppable. But some things you just couldn't calculate on happening.
He'd gotten careless. He wasn't expecting her fighting style to change dramatically. The moment he saw some sort of ribbon tied to her weapon, he questioned himself for a moment. He definitely wasn't seeing things. He saw her transform the Katana into a pistol-sickle multiple times, but this time was different.
It was tied to piece of ribbon attached to her arm. She threw it right at him. He leaned backwards to evade the sudden attack. Then he heard a gunshot. The katana in its pistol form recoiled back right at him. He reacted as fast as he could, dropping to the ground. The blade nicked his visor. It was sliced in half, barely missing his nose for a split second. The visor chirped and whirred, broken technology fizzling and shutting down. There goes all that data. Before he could think of what he could do again he felt a hand grab him by the collar violently. He'd let his guard down again. In the moments that he could have recovered, his mind was stuck on his broken visor. She used her momentum to lift him high enough to deliver a fierce kick to his abdomen. It knocked the wind right out of him. He was flung backwards, back into the open area of the first train car he'd landed on.
That was stupid. Really stupid of him. Why didn't she finish him off though? Maybe she wasn't expecting him to drop his guard so suddenly and went with what she could.
Of course not. She's a professional. Is she still toying with me? He wondered in frustration. Here he was, on the cool, metal flooring of a Schnee company transport train, and all he could wonder was why the terrorist didn't kill him. It was so surreal. He shouldn't have been alive right now. His mind raced for an answer. He was still alive, so he could still fight. But what could he do now without the visor to track her movements?
He thought back to his days in the academy. He'd never needed the visor before. He's fought people as fast as her, as far as he could remember. When did he start relying so much on that visor? Probably since his father always wanted him to wear it during weapons testing. This wasn't weapons testing though. It was already destroyed anyway, so any argument for it would be moot.
It was something that his instructors at the Atlas Academy had always told him. It was pretty cliché, he knew that. But there was some truth to it, otherwise why would professionals like them always tell students that?
When it came to matters of life and death, your instincts will serve you better than anything that you could put on paper. This was definitely a matter of life and death by now. Changing attack patterns probably meant she was done toying with him. As he lay there on the ground, almost exhausted, he felt a second wind coming.
He laughed a little. Then a lot. He couldn't see it, but his opponent looked at him curiously.
Did I break him? She thought.
He flipped backwards, landing on his feet. He clicked a switch on the side of his head, and the visor split in two, resting on either side of his face and revealing his eyes, which trailed to a structure behind her.
She wasn't about to give him any breathing room, and she charged him head on. His green eyes locked onto her amber orbs. Without saying another word, he jumped high.
The train went under an overpass. She overshot and tried to regain her balance. She skidded along the metal flooring. She was ready to follow him and looked up. Darkness suddenly filled her vision. The overpass made her lose sight of him.
One Mississippi. As he sailed above the overpass, he cocked the tonfa handle and readied his trigger finger. It was pretty serene up in the air, nothing but the rumbling of the train and the sound of the wind rushing around him. The moment he saw the distinct shape of that black bow she wore, he readied himself. Two Mississippi. He aimed the lance at her and fired. The Red Dust ignited at the rear end of the handle, propelling him forward abruptly. He cocked the tonfa handle again.
Three Mississippi. She saw the ignition of Red Dust high in the air. She was still skidding to a halt when she decided to dive out of the way. He landed right where she'd been, piercing through the metal flooring of the train car and sent a rumble throughout the train.
She dusted herself off, going back into a stance. "Not too shabby," she started. "Too bad you missed."
He locked eyes with her again. "You're not the only one with tricks, Kitty."
He'd definitely heard her growl before he fired his pilelance once more. Yellow Dust made contact with the metal surface. Electricity arced its way through in a cone area in front of him. She was right in the line of fire. She screamed, equal amounts of surprise and pain. She'd underestimated his weapon. She should've known by the glow that it was Dust-operated. She felt her consciousness fade from the shock, the only thing on her mind was that she was going to get back at him for calling her Kitty again. The girl slumped forwards, and he caught her before she could hit the metal flooring.
It was a miracle that his gambit paid off. He probably wouldn't be able to pull it off a second time. Like there's going to be a second time. He thought grimly.
He caught a whiff of what seemed to be perfume.
So terrorists wear perfume, huh? He thought. Up close she did look young, somewhere around his age. She had graceful features, but it belied power and athleticism. She was, in technicality, a soldier, just like him. Some would think it odd, but even now hunters and soldiers as young as teenagers were already being commissioned. It was a fact that tensions were escalating, not only with the Grimm, but also with the White Fang, so it was normal at this point that even teenagers were on the front lines. It was unfortunate that the people in power couldn't see things eye to eye. He carried her inside of the car that they'd fought in previously propped her against a wall. He gave her a respectful salute before continuing through the train cars. She was good, but there was no way she could have handled this operation alone.
Look who's talking, lucky-face, he berated himself.
Two cars in, and around a thirty or more dead AK-130s later, a loud explosion caught his attention. It was right after one other car. He checked inside and saw Dust had been scattered everywhere and a large hole was blasted through the other side of the shipping crate. He saw two figures, a large, mechanical one, and another that looked human, fighting outside. As he rushed to the opening, he realized it was an AK-135 Arakne Droid, fighting what looked like a man with a katana.
What was with these people and katanas? He thought. He jumped the gap and was planning to aid the Arakne Droid, but it had already begun to setup its particle cannon. The bright light it gave off made him wince, and the roar of the shot was enough to make his ears ring. For a moment, he felt sorry for whoever was at the receiving end of that. Whoever that guy is, he's as good as-
The bright light of the particle cannon dissipated almost as fast as it began. In the distance, he saw a masked man, his blade slightly unsheathed. He was glowing with power.
To say that Elwyn was shocked was like saying that his father liked science. It just wasn't comparable. The masked man had just absorbed god knows how many kilowatts of power, and he was unscathed. He could see the man smirk confidently as the Arakne lunged at him.
One swing of the blade, and the Arakne disintegrated like nothing had been there in the first place.
The man had redirected all of that power, and used it for himself.
He was definitely in an entirely different league.
Panic began to rise in Elwyn. He had to face this monster alone. Damn, damn, damn, he repeated in his head, over and over. He gulped hard. It took a moment before the man noticed him. Upon closer inspection, it looked like he had horns.
The masked man looked at him with disinterest. "Well well, you managed to get past Blake?"
Was that her name? Elwyn thought. He shook off his hesitation and pointed his pilelance at the man. "In the name of the Atlasian Army, I demand you cease and desist at once and be taken into custody."
The masked man looked thoughtful for a moment, as if he were seriously considering the offer.
"Tempting," he began. A smirk spread across his features. "But I think I'll pass."
The feeling of getting the butt end of a katana hit you on the chest at the speed of a bullet was something Elwyn would remember for a long while. The man's movements were much faster than Blake's. The moment the katana collided with his abdomen, he'd already been kicked from behind, sending him flying forwards. He thrashed in mid-air, trying to gain some balance. He righted himself before he crashed into the floor, and he landed kneeling on one leg. The masked man was already on him. He needed to gain some space and recover. In a quick motion, he mounted the pilelance onto his arm and jabbed forward quickly, using the momentum to arm the Dust. Some Red Dust should do the trick. Laying my cards out right at the start.
"If you would kindly lay off for a second," Elwyn growled. The masked man was about to strike again when the tip of the pilelance exploded. He thought he managed to get him then.
The crazy bastard sliced through the Dust explosion. Elwyn didn't know if it was skill, the material of the Katana or what, but this was just ridiculous. It was a good point that he'd already adopted a CQC stance. He wouldn't be able to defend himself with the lance at this range. Despite its bulk, the pilelance wasn't heavy enough to slow him down. He has trained with this type of weapon for a long while. He jerked his head backwards, the masked man's Katana grazing his cheek and drawing blood. On reflex, he weaved right, and threw a violent uppercut with his pilelance. His fist was abruptly halted by the masked man's sheath. He pulled a trigger, this time good old fashioned hydraulics taking place over Dust technology. The lance extended forward violently and abruptly. He heard a crack coming from the masked man's sheath. In a moment he triggered the hydraulics again. This time the man was sent flying upwards.
Elwyn followed through. He jumped high, following the masked man's trajectory. He went higher than his opponent, and with the pilebunker aimed for the heart, he pulled the trigger.
A flash of red filled his eyesight. He felt it connect, to be sure. The man flew backwards back onto the train car. He saw the katana right in front of him in a defensive position, and a smirk across the man's face.
Adam Taurus was a very skilled assassin. He'd been part of the White Fang for many years now, and he's fought his fair share of hunters and Grimm. The boy in front of him was no different. He was little rough around the edges, sure. Not to mention he was human. But he could feel that he was fighting for his life.
It excited him to know that the kid's life was in his hands.
He'd been trying to get a feel for the kid's fighting style. As far as Adam could tell, he was very aggressive, with an over reliance on his one and only hard-hitting weapon. Too closed-minded, he thought. If he truly wanted to master it, he would have needed to become more creative than 'punch and crunch'. How he managed to get past Blake, he could ponder on later. She probably wasn't expecting the Dust. She was careless like that sometimes. As he descended, having defended against the kid's last attack, he looked upwards. The kid had unattached his pilebunker and wielded it like a lance.
Nice gimmick. Adam thought. Compared to Blake however he left himself a lot more open. Had she been soft on him? She'd been acting strange lately. When he mentioned that he would set the charges for the transport, she'd looked worried. Did she actually care for the humans on board? Preposterous. These thoughts lightly treaded his mind as he parried and blocked the kid's swings and thrusts.
They were back on the ground, back in their little melee. The strikes were fast, sure. They were also telegraphed. It was a very mechanical fighting style, something that the Atlasian Military would have probably thought up. Calculated strikes, in a pattern, the most 'efficient' way to fight an opponent. It was all too elementary for him. He'd let a hit or two get him, feigning him breaking through his defenses. It seemed to keep his spirits up. Didn't want to let the prey tire out too quickly. The mountains were still close together on either side of the valley. His transport wouldn't be able to save him when Adam decided to stop playing around.
If the kid were really smart, he'd mixup his thrusts with Dust emissions and sudden triggers of the pilebunker's- lancebunker's?- hydraulics to keep him guessing. But he wasn't. He was too green, and could only think of a single attack pattern at once. Sort of like Blake sometimes. They were both young and fiery, with a need to prove they were competent.
Adam kept parrying and blocking strikes with his ninjato. Every once in a while, he'd fire off a shot from Blush, his rifle-sheath. The kid either managed to block or let the bullet graze him. He had guts at least. Adam would enjoy crushing his spirit, and every other bone in his body.
He jumped backwards. It was getting late. The sun had already set, and Adam wanted to finish the job already. He sheathed his ninjato and adopted his signature iaido stance. Obviously, the kid took the bait, not knowing what he was preparing for, or perhaps, just forgetting that little spectacle with the Spider Droid. Adam heard the click of the lancebunker being loaded with Dust. He smirked.
Elwyn thought he had gained some ground on the man, just like he did with Blake. But there was something different in their clashes, something more… hostile. Each clash felt like the man could have turned it around then and there. It was different from his fight with Blake. Each parry filled with contempt, each block filled with derision. If Blake had been toying with him, this guy was plain laughing at him, holding back on purpose. He could see the subtle smirk the masked man had whenever he'd land a blow on him.
I'm not stupid. He thought. The masked man jumped backwards, his hand over his sheathed katana in a stance. His back was turned to the giant hole that the Arakne made with its particle cannon earlier. Why don't you just kill me already dammit. He armed the pilelance with White Dust, mounting it on his arm again in one swift motion.
"STOP TOYING WITH ME!" Elwyn roared as he raised his pilelance, using his left arm to transform it into its crossbow form. The man raised his katana to block. A handle extended from further up the shaft he grabbed it with his left hand, bringing it down to the left side of the gauntlet. He pulled the trigger and White Dust ignited, sending a blinding beam of light right at the masked man. It collided with the katana. Elwyn cocked the lever with his left hand and triggered his pilelance several more times. The only other thing he could hear other than the White Dust emitting the laser was the screech of the modular armor as it kept up with the recoil from his pilelance and the spent Dust casing that hit the metal flooring. With each blast, he saw the katana absorb more and more of the power. The masked man glowed red sinisterly.
Elwyn cursed in realization. In his frustration he forgot about what the man could do with that katana. He'd unloaded the entire shell of White Dust.
It was all going to get redirected back at him.
In a split second he adopted a defensive stance, crossing his arms in front of him. A loud crackle of energy began to emanate from the masked man. He was glowing rather brightly now.
"If you say so," came the man's arrogant reply.
A bright white light. Then someone grabbing onto the collar of his uniform right before a wave of energy managed to slam itself into him.
Adam felt a rush. All that Dust that connected with Wilt's blade was delicious. He felt the power inside of him grow exponentially. He'd give the kid what he wanted. It would be a quick death, unfortunately. He wouldn't be able to see the look on his face when he died. He would be disintegrated on the spot.
He sheathed his blade once more after the last volley had been shot. He glowed with power. He prepared to swing forward. As he did, something hit him from behind. It knocked him off balance. His aim became off. He'd swung downwards at an angle instead of directly in front of him. The energy sliced through the train car. He felt the metal give instantly. A powerful white flash that was too close even for his comfort enveloped the entire area. In a moment, he saw what happened.
He'd sliced the car he was on in two. The section that was still connected to the lead car was intact enough to continue along the tracks. It was already a ways away. On the other side, he saw the kid on the ground, with a stupid look on his face. The kid couldn't believe he just survived.
Adam couldn't believe the kid survived.
He saw another figure standing beside the kid, her figure all too familiar for him to mistake it.
Blake mouthed a goodbye as the lead-car further separated from the rest. What was left of the car he was on eventually halted, leaving him behind.
In the quiet serenity of the night, Adam began to laugh.
He felt his life literally flash before his eyes.
He got careless and it almost cost him his life.
Funny, he'd just asked the guy why he didn't go ahead and kill him already.
He looked to his left. Standing beside him, with sadness in her eyes, was Blake. She'd saved him from being ripped apart by his own foolishness. Why?
"Ki-" he caught himself. "Blake?"
She looked at him with a fierce expression. "How do you know my name?" she growled.
He got up with some trouble. His legs felt like jell-o. "The guy mentioned it," He said, motioning back. The segment that had been sliced off disappeared around a corner. She stared daggers into him.
"Yeah, well don't call me that. We're not friends," she turned and walked towards the lead car.
Her tone stung. It's not like it wasn't true. Not too long ago, they were trying to kill each other. She hopped to the lead car section, and he silently followed her. They walked in silence for a few moments.
"Thank you," he finally said. "For saving me."
She stopped in her tracks. "You're welcome," she said, not looking back.
Before they reached the entrance to the next car, he called for her to stop. She looked around, curiosity on her face. "What?"
He pointed to the crooked bow that displayed her cat ears. They'd twitched slightly when she turned around. It was kind of endearing. "Those are all Schnee Employees in there."
She got what he meant. It was probably already reported that the White Fang were attacking the transport train. Having a Faunus show up all of a sudden would probably be a little too dangerous. She reached up to her bow and felt for it. It was probably knocked around slightly after that attack by Adam. She went off to one corner and tried to fix it, but without a mirror she couldn't get it quite right.
"Here," she heard from behind her. The boy fixed her bow for her, delicately placing the cloth so that it covered her cat ears from both sides. "There, it doesn't show now."
She turned around and looked at him like he'd grown another head. "Why are you helping me?"
"You saved my life. I think fixing your bow is the least I can do," he said plainly. Truth be told, he was still a little anxious. She could kill him at any moment if she wanted to. So far, she didn't, which he was thankful for. If he tried to fight back, it wouldn't do him any good. His pilelance was all but mangled. It must have gotten nicked by the masked man's attack. "Will he be coming after you?"
"The masked man."
"Ah," she hesitated. "I'll be alright, you won't have to worry about Adam," she finished. She looked at the entrance to the lead car, before deciding to sit down against a few crates near them. She didn't want to face anyone else for now, let alone questioning humans.
There was fondness, and sadness, in how she said his name, he noticed. He went over to sit near her, keeping a healthy distance. He sat on another side of the crate, facing the side of the valley that the Cracked Moon could be seen from. The soft glow was reflecting off of the rust-red trees. It was a beautiful night.
"May I formally know the name of my savior?" He asked absent-mindedly. There was a few moments of silence. He peeked over his shoulder at her. She was unmoving.
That's fine, I guess. It was a weird question to ask. He thought.
"Blake," she said suddenly. "Blake Belladonna," a beat passed before she continued. "You?"
He smiled, although she didn't see it.
"Sorry for calling you Kitty," he started.
He heard an annoyed mewl. "Name?" she asked impatiently.
"Elwyn," he replied, looking at the beautiful, glowing moon. "Elwyn Albion."