Lan and Ignis were staring each other down. Lan’s eyes full of mock seriousness and Ignis’s full of playfulness.
“Why?” said Lan, narrowing his eyes.
“Why do you always have to sit down in front of me whenever I’m on the toilet?”
Ignis stared at Lan for a moment longer and then his face broke into the usual happy smile, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.
The two of them were currently in the restroom of Lan’s home, Lan being on the toilet, and Ignis sitting right in front of him.
“Your making me feel uncomfortable.” said Lan.
Ignis wagged his tail and made a happy groaning sound. Lan smiled and shook his head, he then reached for the toilet paper, but stopped as he noticed what was on the roll.
“Grandpa!” yelled Lan.
“N’Yes?” answered Byakko from down below.
“Why is there sandpaper on the toilet roll?”
“Don’t you remember what I said to you back when we started training?” said Byakko, “We’re training every part of your body!”
Lan groaned, stared at the rough material, then sighed. He had no choice…unless he wanted to let Ignis…no, bad idea.
It had been two days since the two of them had stolen the documents from Mr. Siemans’s office. The morning after the party, there had been a huge uproar in the building after Mr. Siemans arrived at his office to discover his security androids destroyed, his safe empty, and his guards incapacitated. He had spread a huge office-wide alarm, shutting down the mining operation while an investigation was being made. He also sent the guardsmen to patrol the town in an attempt to find the thief and promised rewards to anyone who had information about the culprit. Lan and Byakko had refused to participate in the search and when they were reprimanded by Siemans, Lan had pulled out a copy of the contract they had signed and pointed to the section involving the guardsman’s duties. Lan pointed out that the only duties of the guardsmen were to protect the well-being and property of those in the mining operation while on duty. Siemans had been furious and was sure that the copy was a forgery, but then again Lan was the only guardsman of his ranking that had actually read the entire contract and had a thorough idea of what the job entailed. Since they couldn’t be held legally accountable for their choice in this matter, Siemans sent them out of the office, stating that they would be on leave without pay for the next three days. This resulted in Lan and Byakko educating other guardsman of their ranking on the contract, which forced Siemans to give incentive bonuses for the patrol duty and afterwards contact the hiring department and demand that they improve the wording in the hiring contracts for guardsman.
And what became of the guardsmen who had guarded the office you ask? Well, even thought that they had did their best to protect the office (the guardsman Garfield’s being covered with knock out powder when found that morning gave him a good excuse for his inaction), they had been fiercely reprimanded. Lan had watched from the sidelines as their sergeant had yelled at the two that morning, with guardsmen Danish appearing remorseful for his actions and guardsman Garfield seeming as if he didn’t care. A third guardsmen had been with the sergeant during this meeting and had been constantly complimenting the sergeant’s actions as well as telling his two fellow guards what they could have done better, many of the suggestions being excerpts from the guardsman manual (which Lan doubted that most of the guards had even read).
At present time, the entire town was holding its breath and waiting for the aftermath of the break-in. Who was the one that stole from Siemans? What was stolen? These and many other questions and rumors floated around the town as the minutes and hours ticked by. Also, with the mines temporarily shut down, the many Faunus laborers suddenly found themselves without the income they needed for their meals. Luckily for them, Siemans couldn’t afford to keep the mines closed for too long, not without angering his superiors at least, so the mine was scheduled to be reopened two days from now.
In the meantime, Lan and Byakko were enjoying their short vacation, which entailed the usual vicious training followed by whatever they felt lie doing that day. Things had been difficult for Lan the first day however, after he had told Byakko about his firearms weakness. Both luckily and unluckily for Lan, Byakko had devised a quick and effective training regime which involved the old man throwing a barrage of small rocks at the boy and forcing him to dodge them. Byakko started out slow of course, but by the end of the day Lan still needed several ice bags to keep the swelling down.
Now back to present time.
Lan crawled down the stairs on his stomach, Ignis harassing him all the way down of course. Lan’s rear was in too much pain for him to move properly. After arriving in the living room, Lan crawled into his chair, sat down (which elicited a short yelp from the young boy), and grabbed the copy of Modern applications of Dust that he had been reading. Ignis plopped down near Lan’s feet and settled there.
“How was the new toilet paper?” said Byakko, who was sitting on a couch across the room from Lan and changing George’s diaper.
“What purpose would training that area serve?” said Lan.
“Oh you’d be surprised” said Byakko, “you never know when an iron spike or other similar items could be fired at your behind. So we will harden it to withstand that damage by exposing it to various rough and hard materials. I bet in no time flat, you can start using those steel cacti I’ve been growing!” Byakko pointed to an enormous cactus in the corner of the room that had grown from its pot on the floor to halfway up to the ceiling.
Lan grimaced and hid his face behind his book.
“So,” continued Byakko, finishing up with George and allowing the little monkey leap off the couch and tackle Ignis. “How are the plans for tomorrow’s party going?”
“Good,” said Lan, looking up from the book “I’ve got the okay from everybody down at the worker living quarters and have assigned everyone responsibilities.”
“And we of course will bring the food.” Said Byakko, smiling as he watched George pick and eat insects out of Ignis’s fur.
The day before, Lan and Byakko had gotten together with the Faunus workers. None of them had been invited to Siemans’s party so Lan and Byakko had decided that they would throw one together just for the Faunus workers. This had been well-received by the workers, especially since a large feast would be provided and there would be no time conflicts with work.
At present time, a large number of Faunus were prepping the empty square in the center square of the Faunus living quarters for the event by cleaning the area and setting up tables, chairs, stands, and a stage. Entertainment would be provided by anyone who felt like it, Lan had set up a sign up list for possible for performers once the plans for the event had been finalized and had been surprised to find the list completely full by the end of the first day.
Things were progressing swimmingly for the coming event and the whole local Faunus community was buzzing with excitement, but unbeknownst to them Lan and Byakko had a second major agenda for throwing the party. A little while ago Lan and Byakko had sent Ignis and George to the White Fang airship, inviting the whole organization to the party. It was there that Lan and Byakko planned to pass on the incriminating information. From what Lan could make out from the documents he had stolen, Siemans had been selling a significant portion of the dust purified at the mines to certain other parties in exchange for a hefty sum. A scandal like this could easily get the man out of office, and Siemans knew this. For that reason, the man had ordered the guards to search every suspicious person they saw, especially if they were heading towards any organizations that could disseminate the information, like the local news station or the White Fang. For this reason, Lan had not given the documents to Ignis and George, since a monkey in a diaper with a backpack riding a wolf pup would definitely attract the attention of the guards and be searched. So along with the invitations, Lan had also sent something that would alert Jirall and Daylen to the situation without setting off any warning bells. It was a letter written by Byakko that read:
“Remember what we talked about last time? Then get over here and we’ll give you some hell!”
This could easily be interpreted as a Byakko, a member of the guard, taunting the members of the White Fang and as a result easily got through the checkpoint that the guards set up around the airfield where the White Fang airships were.
The party was scheduled for tomorrow night.
“Do you have the docs ready?” Asked Byakko, as he plopped onto the couch and switched on the TV.
“Yes” said Lan, pointing to a small leather briefcase in the corner of the room “They are ready. Do you have the meat ready?”
“They’re already in the fridges” said Byakko, smiling.
The two then kicked back in their respective chairs and relaxed as they waited for tomorrow’s setting of the sun.
The next day around evening
Lan and Byakko were walking down the center street leading towards the center of the Faunus living quarters as the sun began to dip under the horizon, at their side were Ignis and George, the latter riding on the former’s back. On Lan’s back there was a giant backpack containing tools, books, other miscellaneous items, and most importantly the briefcase containing the sensitive documents. On Byakko’s there was a round sack twice his size that contained the ingredients that he had gathered.
The area around them was in significantly less repair then the rest of the town. The buildings were broken down and decrepit concrete structures. Most of the roofs were patched with thin sheets of metal and woodwork, many of the windows were broken in many of the homes, and the streets were peppered with many stains that Lan didn’t care to know about. The Faunus in the area didn’t have the time nor energy to make their neighborhood look nice; here they had to spend all their productive time trying to survive.
Coming down a hill, Lan saw the large communal farm on the far edge of the living area that he and the local Faunus workers had started a few weeks ago. It was now bursting with the many fast-growing crops they had planted and had already begun to supplement the diets of the Faunus living there. Amazing how a little time placed on the side, could help so many good people survive. Of course, there were rules set in place so that everyone would receive their fair share and Lan had convinced Byakko to be the upholder of those rules, a position that the jubilant old man took quite seriously (evident by the many traumatized workers that had tried to steal more than their fair share of the crops in the middle of the night).
Lan and Byakko quickly neared the area where the party was to be held and saw that the majority of Faunus living in the area had already arrived. An uproar of greetings erupted from the crowd as soon as they caught sight of Lan and Byakko walking down the hill. Ignis and George perked up at the sight of so many excited friends, and raced down the hill like a cowboy on his horse. Lan and Byakko waived and shouted out greetings as well. The moment their feet touched down on the floor of the party area, they were swarmed by all the Faunus gathered there and had to shake a couple dozen hands before they were able to start moving forwards again.
Lan and Byakko made their way to a giant makeshift grill at one end of the party square and began to set about prepping the food. Byakko set down the giant bag of ingredients, while Lan set up a small table where he prepped his cooking tools and spices. A group of Faunus also brought in a basket of freshly picked vegetables from the garden.
Lan cracked his knuckles and then began to prepare the meat and vegetables while Byakko lit the grill using a large pile of scrap wood, some fire dust, and a pair of spark rocks (he had originally wanted to use a lighter and his own bodily propellants but Lan had convinced him against it).
Within a few minutes, a variety of meats and vegetables were roasting over a roaring fire and filled the air with a delicious smell. The crowd had gathered around the grill, plates grasped tightly in each of their hands. The air was filled with the sound of the sizzling meat and their growling stomachs. None of the Faunus performers that had signed up wanted to perform before they had eaten their fill, so Byakko leapt onto the stage, pulled out a large ukulele, and began to play a tropical tune that he had learned on his travels. Amazingly, he was actually quite good and soon had the party goers dancing to the tune as they waited in line.
On a beautiful sunny day,
Walking on the sandy shore,
I saw a lonely old tiger,
Sunning himself and starting to snore,
The first round of cooking quickly finished and Lan began to dispense simmering shish kebabs, cuts, and other tasty barbecue foods onto the many plates that were being held out to him.
I asked myself, why was he here, napin’ on the beach,
But then again, everybody needs, a comfy place to sleep,
Life can be tough, and sure enough, we’ll all need breather now and then,
And that old tiger sleepin’ there was just now cashing in,
Those that had been served sat down at the tables scattered around the square or on any other unoccupied open space and began to voraciously tear into the food that they had been served.
Cause from what I saw, on his fur, and all across his face,
With his battle scars, and matted hair, and the smile on his face,
I knew that he’d, seen it all, and just wanted some peace today,
He’d been down the block and crossed the street more than we will ever be,
But don’t think that’s the end of his path, fire’s still burning in his eyes,
So after a snooze, and maybe some booze, he’ll be running off again!
The first round of performers finished eating and then headed up to the stage where they relieved Byakko of his position. They pulled out a variety of strange instruments made from scrap material and began to play cheerful tune as Byakko made his way down and started to mingle with the rest of the party goers.
The sun had set at this point and the party was starting to get into full swing. Lan checked his watch, it was around 8:30 now. He had been received a message earlier that day from an adolescent member of the White Fang that told him that Jirall, Daylen, and the rest of the main group would be arriving around midnight. There was still plenty of time until their arrival, so he planned to enjoy the party for now, however.
Lan looked down at the bag by his feet. The pocket that contained the briefcase was still firmly sealed with the lock he had placed on earlier. Lan had to keep it safe before the transfer. Many futures were riding on it after all.
“Hey, the meat’s burning!” shouted someone at the front of the grill.
Lan yelped as he recognized the scent of burning meat and returned his attention back to his cooking duties. For the next three hours Lan was glued to the grill serving practically the entire Dust Hole Faunus population. Byakko had to make trips out of surrounding walls here and there to gather more ingredients and Lan was forced to use the garden grown crops sparingly.
Byakko mingled with the rest of the crowd by eating, laughing, and gossiping with everyone that came within arm’s reach. Ignis and George spent their time running from table to table and begging for scraps.
Around 10:00 the bartender at the local bar brought out kegs of beer and whiskey that he had made from the fast-growing Fonio grain plants that had been some of the first crops planted. It wasn’t long before a good portion of the adults became incredibly inebriated, Byakko included.
“Hey,” shouted Byakko as he drank from a large keg of whiskey “Let’s have a drink-off! The top-10 get to have dinner with us for the next week!”
“What about the losers?” asked an equally inebriated man with small bull horns on his head.
“Hmmm” grunted Byakko, as he placed a finger on his chin and began to think “I know! How about this! The ones who lose have to go peeee in a cup and drink it back up again!”
The drinkers surrounding him were already far too far gone too notice how ridiculous this notion was and instead of refusing like the would have had they been sober, they instead raised their glasses and gave loud roar of approval before downing their drinks.
Lan smiled and shook his head as he watched this while throwing another 5 kebabs onto the grill.
Many different entertainment groups had already come and gone off the stage, some of them escorted off with applause from the crowd and some running off the stage to avoid being pelted by whatever their audience felt like throwing.
By 11:00, Lan had finally satiated the appetites of every Faunus present and collapsed onto a bench on the side of the square after dumping a huge plate of cooked goods onto a large serving table. A moment later Ignis, who was barely able to drag himself towards Lan due to his severely bloated stomach, plopped down by Lan’s left foot and gave a contented sigh. A few seconds later Lan felt George drop onto his shoulders and found that the little monkey was much heavier than he remembered.
“The begging went well?” asked Lan, smiling.
Ignis responded with a contented groan and a fart while George made a small chirping noise and wrapped his arms around Lan’s head.
“Good to hear” said Lan, settling back into the chair and scratching George’s head.
Lan didn’t feel particularly hungry right now, he had after all tasted a small piece of everything he cooked, so he simply watched the party goers enjoy themselves while sipping from a cup of water. The bag containing the documents was by his side and there was only an hour left until the transfer, as he watched the party goers start a bonfire in the center of the square, he felt peaceful and lifted his gaze to look at the beautiful moon far above.
“‘belch’ how’s the party boy?!”
The peaceful feelings Lan had been experiencing were replaced by a strong odor of alcohol. Byakko crashed down onto the empty spot next to Lan, causing the bench to tilt and raise Lan a few feet into the air and sink where Byakko had sat down. On the other side of the square Lan saw all the Faunus that Byakko had been drinking with passed out and being carried away by their relatives. Lan shook his head, feeling sorry for them. After all, when Byakko made a bet, he made sure to follow up on it.
“Party’s fine grandpa” said Lan, who had already been pulled into a one-armed embrace by his inebriated grandfather. “Just resting a bit before they arrive.”
“Ah,” said Byakko, nodding his head “I see, well you’d better check on them documents just in case. Who knows, you might have missed something?”
“Good thinking grandpa” said Lan, pulling the backpack in front of him and taking the key for the lock out of his pocket.
“Hey grandpa” said Lan, turning back to Byakko “Do you think you could help me with—“
Lan found that the old man was no longer in the seat, which was currently 2 feet below its original elevation. In his place was a small sticky note saying: Gone to the can to play the tushy trumpet, be back soon.
Lan sighed and turned his attention back to the bag. He removed the lock and then unzipped the compartment containing the briefcase.
“Whew” exclaimed Lan as he took the briefcase out of the bag, a calm smile on his face “I don’t know why, but I was half expecting for this thing to be stol—“
A black shape darted out of an alleyway and whipped the briefcase out of Lan’s hands, leaving the boy staring stupidly at his empty hands. Lan’s relaxed demeanor fell and then after a moment of contemplation the situation clicked in his mind.
Lan leapt to his feet and stared in the direction of the their who was now a small dot running up the hill.
“Ignis!” shouted Lan.
The little wolf pup attempted to leap to his feet but was hindered by his bulging belly.
“You stay here and guard my bag” said Lan.
Ignis plopped back down.
“George” shouted Lan
The monkey leapt off of Lan’s shoulders and landed on his two feet in front of the boy, saluting.
“I need you to take this to grandpa”
Lan scribbled a quick note on a piece of scrap paper: It’s been stolen! –Lan. And handed it to George.
The little monkey grabbed the note and proceeded to run in the direction of the restroom where a large cloud of smoke appeared to be rising.
Now that that was taken care of, Lan turned back in the direction the thief had ran off in and darted after him.
Lan was fast for his age, very very fast. It wasn’t long before he regained sight of the thief, just in time to see him duck into an alley.
Putting on an extra burst of speed, Lan blasted forwards and made it to the entrance of the alley just in time to see the thief jump from the top of a dumpster on the right and grab onto the low roof above him. Lan jumped diagonally upwards to the left and rebounded off the wall towards the top right, landing on the roof the thief was on the moment he pulled himself up.
“Halt!” shouted Lan, striking a pose holding out his right hand like the hero in a cartoon he watched did whenever he confronted a villain. “Release my bag and—“
He stopped as he finally got his first good look at the one who was holding his bag. It was a young scruffy looking Faunus boy with long black matted hair covering his eyes and a pair of doggy ears perched on the top of his head. He was wearing an extremely large cloak that wrapped around his entire body in a ball like fashion and appeared to be wearing underclothes, from what Lan could see through the gaps in the cloth.
“A Faunus?” thought Lab “Why would he want to steal those documents from me?”
Taking advantage of Lan’s momentary confusion, the boy whipped around and leapt from the edge of the rooftop they were standing on and onto another. Snapping out of his confusion, Lan quickly began to pursue the boy once again. The two of them leapt from rooftop to rooftop, their dark forms slightly illuminated by the street lamps down below.
From the boy’s movements and physical prowess, Lan knew that the boy had experience and/or training. He would have been able to outrun any normal pursuer, but Lan was for from normal. Byakko’s torturous and life-threatening yet effective training regimes had pushed the boy’s strength and skill to far beyond normal limits. Lan gained on the boy, quickly closing the gap as they darted across the metal roofs. The boy sensed this and quickened his pace, but to no avail. Within a couple seconds Lan was right behind him, and was reaching out his hand to grab the hem of the boy’s cloak.
Suddenly, as the boy leapt forwards over a gap in the roof, he threw the briefcase to his left. Grabbing the boy’s cloak and pulling him onto the roof he was standing on, Lan watched as the briefcase rose through the air in an arc and block the glow of the moon for a brief instance before it fell. A dark shape darted out of an alleyway below, and grabbed the briefcase before falling onto another roof a couple meters away and running in the direction that the boy had originally been running in.
“He has allies?” thought Lan, as he stared after the dark shape.
Lan prepared to sprint after the new thief, but realized that just leaving the boy there would allow him to catch up and act as a relay for the new thief in case he was caught. So Lan quickly incapacitated the Faunus boy with a quick hook to the jaw before beginning his pursuit.
Lan leapt from rooftop to rooftop, slowly gaining on the other thief as well. But through the darkness he saw may dark shapes dart this way and that at the limits of his perception.
Outnumbered and possibly outmaneuvered, not a good situation.
But more importantly, this display of numbers and organized movements labeled these thieves as members of some kind of organization. Lan could understand why an organization containing scruffy Faunus children would want the documents in the briefcase, but why would they steal it from him? He was planning on turning the documents in to a noble organization in order to help all the Faunus in the area. But whatever those people needed those documents for; Lan knew for sure that it wouldn’t be good, especially if they already knew what he was planning on doing with them.
Lan was right behind the next thief now, this time anticipating the exchange. The moment Lan saw the boy shift his arms to start to throw, he flicked a pebble he was holding in his hand at the boy’s. The collision of the stone on the back of his hand caused the boy to yelp in pain and fumble his throw. The briefcase crashed onto the rooftop in front of him. The boy stopped for an instance to pick it up and was overtaken by Lan in an instant. The moment he was close enough, Lan pivoted on his left foot while bending down and threw a sweep kick that caused the Faunus boy in front of him to fall onto he back. As he fell, Lan darted forward above his collapsing frame and grabbed the suitcase from off the ground, executing a roll and then springing back to his feet. He patted the leather case and smiled, now relieved that he had the important item back in his possession.
A shape darted out of the shadows and sped towards him at that moment. Lan had been expecting this. Tucking the briefcase under his left armpit, Lan whipped around in the direction of the shadow prepared to throw punch. However, his fist stopped mid-strike as he noticed a pair of amber eyes.
It was the girl he had seen the first day he had arrived, the young black-haired Faunus girl that had been with the White Fang protestors. He had believed that he would never see her again after talking to one of the protestors, so he was completely unprepared and was struck by that sudden feeling of destiny once again, his mind shut down from the surprise and the muscles in his went slack.
In the moment that he was frozen from surprise, the girl leapt forwards; snatched the briefcase from under his arm; and began dashing away again.
Having already experienced the daze once, Lan was able to snap out of it much faster than before and immediately began pursuit.
He now knew who was intent on stealing the documents, but why? Why were the White Fang trying to steal documents that he had informed them that he was going to hand over? Why were they attempting to sabotage the first chance at progress that they had seen in a month?
He didn’t have time to think about these questions at present time though. He had to focus all his attention on catching that girl to both find out what the White Fang were planning as well as discover why she made him feel that strange sensation.
The girl wasn’t all that fast compared to the first two, being only 4 or 5 years old as far as Lan could tell, but she was quite agile and was taking advantage of her Faunus abilities quite well. She made good use of the various structures jutting out of the roofs of the buildings as well as other obstructions, detecting them quickly through the use of her race’s characteristic night vision and weaving around them and placing them right behind her, which resulted in Lan having to dodge the obstruction a soon as it popped out of the darkness.
She was good, that was for certain, but Lan was still gaining on her. After dodging a rickety metal chimney and leaping over a rusty patch of roofing, Lan found that he was only a few meters away from her.
He saw her look over her shoulder and grimace as she saw him.
Lan’s breathing grew heavier as he began to sense a shift in destiny.
He saw some of the dark shapes come closer to the two, ready to intervene the moment he caught her. No matter, he was ready for them.
He reached out his hand.
Two dark shapes burst out of the roof right in front of Lan. Startled, Lan wasn’t able to move out of the way in time and tripped as his foot collided with the larger object. He spun head over heel diagonally to the left of the girl and crashed into a chimney a little ways away.
Lan groaned then slowly sat back up, rubbing his head as rusted metal debris fell off of him. Looking up, Lan stared at the two objects jutting out of the roof and recognized what they were as he noticed a familiar messy hairstyle.
“Hey boy!” shouted Byakko, turning to look at him and ripping apart the metal roofing as he turned his neck, “I’m here to help! Now where’s the thief?”
The man still appeared quite inebriated and was currently clutching a piece of roast meat in the hand that was also coming out of the roof.
Once again struck dumb by his grandfather’s antics, Lan was only able to gawk as his grandfather as the Faunus girl ran past him. A few seconds later he came back to his senses and whipped his head around to stare at the girl who was now disappearing into the darkness again.
“Grandpa!” yelled Lan, leaping to his feet “Help me catch that Faunus girl!”
“Right!” shouted Byakko, bursting out of the roof the moment Lan took off running again. Lan made a mental note to pay reparations to the people who lived in that home.
As Lan ran through the dark, he finally realized where the girl was heading. He had mapped all the pathways that he and the White Fang thieves had run during the chase, and realized that they were heaping for the city dump. Were they meeting someone there? He would find out soon, because at their current pace she would arrive there before he caught up to her.
As Lan pondered, Byakko suddenly appeared right beside him, keeping in perfect stride.
“I’ve got her!” shouted Byakko, belching holding up a Faunus girl by the leg. It was a white haired Faunus girl with horns that looked absolutely terrified.
Lan stared at the obviously frightened girl and sighed.
“I meant the girl with the briefcase up ahead.”
“Right!” said Byakko, dropping the girl, who quickly scurried away. He then darted away so quickly that Lan was unable to follow.
From the screams that soon began to ring through the dark, Lan knew that Byakko was checking every single one of the children that were flitting through the darkness, with the exception of the girl who was actually carrying the briefcase of course. The man couldn’t do anything even remotely constructive or helpful when he was as drunk as he was.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the dump and Lan watched as the girl leapt off the roof in front of him and descended down into the dump site below, disappearing from his sight.
Lan followed suit, landing with a squelch onto the mushy ground below.
It was much darker in the dump, the lights from the street lamps didn’t reach in there. Lan closed his eyes and listened, completely unaffected by the smells of rotting garbage thanks to his having to put up with his grandfather’s odors.
The Faunus girl most likely thought that she had lost him in the darkness, so she wasn’t as careful in masking the sound of her steps. It wasn’t long before he detected the tip tap of her small feet and after figuring out where they came from, he quickly and quietly followed. He soon found her. She was standing in the center of a circular patch of dirt and was reading a map. Lan hid himself behind one of the mounds of garbage, and peered around the corner.
She hadn’t detected him yet, and that was fine by him. People are much more likely to reveal what they’re hiding when they don’t know someone’s watching after all.
“Now where are you heading?” thought Lan “Who are you going to give that information to?”
The girl looked up from the map and began running again. Lan silently tailed behind her, flitting from trash pile to trash pile to keep himself hidden. Slowly, the trash piles got smaller and smaller and Lan found that they were approaching a large rectangular concrete building in the back of the dump area. It was a medium sized gray building with large smoke stacks jutting into the sky. Through a few broken and dilapidated windows on the second floor Lan could see flickering orange lights within, illuminating the shapes inside and casting dancing shadows onto the ground far below.
Lan saw the girl slip through a door in the side of the building and quickly followed. Opening the door a small crack, Lan peered inside. Inside he saw a large open area with piles of scrap metal as well as many large furnaces, kilns, and smelters littered about the walls. To the far right he could see bars of metal stacked against the wall. This was most likely the area of the dump that recycled thrown away metals back into usable form. Lan slipped inside the door moved behind a pile of scrap. It was stiflingly hot in there and was filled with the sounds of running machinery. Thankfully for Lan, these conditions made it increasingly difficult for him to be detected.
He saw the girl in the center of the room, looking left and right.
“This is the meeting place huh?” thought Lan. “Let’s see what you’re hiding.”
After a few moments of watching, Lan saw the girl’s face light up as she saw something. She dashed over to the left where there was a small control panel and pressed a button on the upper right corner. The room was suddenly filled with a clanking grinding noise. Lan saw the grates on all of the furnaces fly open, revealing the seething infernos that writhed within. Lan was confused for a moment, what was the purpose of doing that? But as he saw the girl begin to walk towards one of the open furnaces he finally understood her motive.
Darting out from behind the pile of debris, Lan sprinted towards the girl.
“Wait, stop!” shouted Lan.
He realized his mistake as she turned and gave him a surprised stare. He should have ran quickly and silently without alerting her and grabbed the briefcase before she noticed he was there. Now that she was alerted to his presence, she would be filled with alarm and attempt to finish her mission faster than before. She whipped around and began running towards the nearest furnace, arriving in the time it took for Lan to cover half the distance between them.
She raised the briefcase above her head. Lan knew he wouldn’t make it in time and screamed for her to stop, to think about all the people that could be saved with that information. She paused briefly after hearing this. But after she turned slightly and saw how close Lan was getting, she turned back to the task in front of her and consigned the case to the flames.
Lan stopped and stared. His body went slack from the futility of his efforts and his mind went blank from the cold void of despair that filled him. He watched as the hot air sent the black ashes of the now burned documents spiraling into the air, whipping around the young girl’s long hair that casted writhing shadows on the ground around her. She turned and stared at Lan, her face masked by the shadow cast by her own frame.
A dark yet beautiful form that whispered of mystery, loneliness, elegance, and duty.
Lan found himself unable to tear his gaze away from the girl, enraptured once again in the tendrils of fate that crept up from his soul. The two stared at each other for a full minute, before a move was made.
The girl darted off to the right, heading towards the nearest exit to the building. No longer held by her gaze, Lan was able to break out of his dazed state of mind and began to run after her.
He crashed into a large muscular frame that suddenly appeared in front of him and fell onto his back.
“Is this the one?” said Byakko, holding up yet another frightened Faunus child.
“No!” shouted Lan, “Now move!”
He dashed past his grandpa and headed towards the now shutting door that the girl had just exited out of. He ran through and burst into the crisp night air, turning left and right and listening for some sign of the girl. It was not use, now that she knew she was being carefully followed she was most likely doing her best to mask her presence. She was gone. Lan sighed and wiped some of the now cold sweat from his brow.
Byakko came through the door and stood directly behind Lan, the man was finally sober again.
“It’s gone?” he said.
“Yeah” said Lan sadly
“Hmmm, sorry” said Byakko
“It’s okay” said Lan, “It was my responsibility anyway.”
Lan turned and looked up as a his grandpa as a new idea popped into his head.
“Do you still have that kid you grabbed” said Lan “We might be able to get some information out of him.”
“Nope” said Byakko, “He scurried off after I dropped him, want me to go grab him again? He probably hasn’t gotten that far.”
“No,” said Lan clenching his fist. “I think I’ll just have a word with his boss. Come on, let’s head back to the party.”
It was 11:45 now, so the Jirall and Daylen would be at the party by the time Lan and Byakko got back. He needed to have word with them.
Lan and Byakko arrived back at the party square at around 12:10.
Sitting around a table in the center of the area were Daylen, Jirall, Megan, and a group of White Fang members, it looks like Jirall decided not to bring every member. The Faunus workers present were obviously put off by them; there was an empty space around the White Fang group of about 3 feet on all sides.
Daylen smiled and waved as he saw Lan, a half-eaten piece of stake in front of him. The rest of the White Fang were also biting into some of the various cooked goods that Lan had placed on the serving table earlier. The only one who wasn’t eating was Jirall, who had his usual brooding frown on his face.
“Your finally here.” He said getting to his feet, “Did you bring the documents?”
“Yes,” said Lan as he and Byakko sat down on the opposite end of the table. “But they were stolen a short while ago and burned.”
Daylen’s smile disappeared and the other White Fang members began to murmur amongst each other. Jirall’s eyes narrowed and he stood up.
“Then we have no business here. But I guess that’s all I can expect from a human brat.”
The others at the table also began to rise but Lan raised his hand and stopped them.
“There’s no need to put up the act Jirall.” said Lan, “I know you were the one who ordered it.”
Lan saw Jirall’s normally unchanging disposition twitch slightly before returning to its normal state. Daylen’s head whipped upwards and stared at his brother, surprise evident on his face.
“What are you insinuating?” said Jirall slowly.
“I recognized one of the thieves I saw today.” Said Lan “I saw her among the protestors in front of the mining gates the day I arrived. She was holding one of the signs and chanting with the others. That means she was a member of this division of the White Fang, which is currently under your jurisdiction.”
There was a brief moment of silence, which was broken when Jirall gave a dry laugh.
“Hah, so you think I’m the one responsible just because you saw someone you think is part of my division?” said Jirall, “that’s all the proof you have?”
“I know what I saw” said Lan, “I could never mistake or forget about her” he thought inwardly.
“Or could it be that you’re just trying to push your failure onto me?” said Jirall, walking around the table stopping right beside Lan. “It was your duty to safeguard the documents until we arrived and you lost them because you were incapable. Simple as that.”
Lan clenched his fist, Jirall’s words rang true.
“That you weren’t even able to guard it from some paltry thieves…you disappoint me. But, what can I expect from humans, you people never keep your words.”
“Do I disappoint you too kid?” said Byakko.
Jirall turned and faced the large man.
“Yes” said Jirall, staring him right in the eye “As a fellow Faunus, yes you do. Come on everyone, we’re leaving.”
The rest of the White Fang got up and followed Jirall as he walked away.
“Um, thanks for the meal.” Said Daylen as he and Megan passed by Lan.
“It was really good” said Megan.
The two of them ran forward and caught up with Jirall, talking to him in whispers as they walked away.
Lan sighed and sunk back into his chair. He felt two familiar weights plop down onto his feet and looked down to see Ignis and George, both of whom had concerned looks on their faces.
“I’m fine,” said Lan, patting them on the head “Just a little tired.”
“I knew this kind of thing would happen” said Byakko, sitting down next to Lan.
“But as always you kept quiet so I could get some life experience.” Said Lan, rubbing his eyes.
“Yep” said Byakko, “Heard Jirall say something to Daylen the day we first met’em. It was after we had left the room.”
“There’s your super-hearing again” said Lan. “What did he say?”
“That we could be useful to their plans”
The two sat there for a few minutes staring at the bonfire burning in front of them.
“I thought they wanted a peaceful resolution.” Said Lan after few minutes “Something that could help them bring change without bloodshed.”
“It’s impossible to completely understand what someone else wants.” Said Byakko “It’s something I’ve learned time and time again.”
“Mmmm” grunted Lan.
The adrenalin had worn off by this point and he found himself very tired. He gazed into the firelight for minute longer, but soon found himself unable to keep his eyes open.
“Just rest boy” said Byakko, ruffling his hair “It’s been a long day for you.”
“Was this really because I was too weak?”
“No it wasn’t” said Byakko, sitting back into his chair. “You’re incredibly strong for your age and still growing, heck you can kick an ursa’s ass faster than it can blink! If anything, it’s because those bozos weren’t honest.”
Lan smiled and closed his eyes, falling into a contented yet at the same time distraught sleep as the tendrils of fire light danced across his closed eyelids.
Later that night
“Jirall” said Daylen, “Why?”
Jirall, who was lying on his bed and wearing a tank top and jeans, looked up from the report he was reading and stared at Daylen.
The two of them were now aboard their airship, in their bedroom in the back. One side of the room was extremely clean and orderly with all the clothes neatly folded by the well-made bed, this side belonged to Daylen. The other side was extremely messy with clothes and reports strewn all around, this was Jirall’s side.
“Why what?” said Jirall.
“Why did you send our youngest members to dispose of the reports? Said Daylen “Those documents could have helped us, not to mention you exposed those children to undue risk.”
“Yes” said Jirall “That kid recognized one of them. It’ll be a problem if he sees her or any of the other kids with us. We’ll have to send them back to their previous divisions tomorrow. They were only temporary help anyways.”
“Jirall” shouted Daylen, appalled. “None of this is necessary!”
“Isn’t it?” said Jirall, sitting up “If those documents were exposed and that that scumbag Siemans replaced, then the boiling anger that the Faunus here have been accumulating could disappear altogether. You know that we’ll need that for our operation”
“But this could really improve their lives” Said Daylen “I’m sure we’d be able to launch the operation just fine even if we didn’t have them work with us.”
“So what if their lives get a little better?” said Jirall “And that’ll only happen if the one sent to replace Siemans is a trustworthy person, which I highly doubt. Not only will things just get worse again after a while, but there won’t be any progress for the rest of our race. The atrocities that are committed towards our people continue every hour, every minute, every second! Our peaceful protests aren’t budging the powers at be an inch, everyone can see this.” Jirall paused for a moment; he could see his brother’s unstable state of mind.
“We’ve been given a chance” he said after a few moments “A chance to finally make a difference and we need to take it, no matter the cost…Our young members played their part well” Jirall leaned back onto the bed “but now they need to leave, both for their own safety and for the cause.”
Daylen stared at his brother, an anguished look on his face. He then began to pace around the room, stopping here and there, about to say something, but then shaking his head and continuing to pace.
After the fifth round, he was finally able to speak up.
“Brother, I’m not sure I can do this anymore.” Said Daylen, bringing his arms down in a helpless gesture. “Just thinking about all the lives that could be lost—“
Jirall slammed the report he was reading onto the table by his bed. Daylen shut up immediately.
“Lives lost?” said Jirall, “Hundreds, maybe even thousands of our kin die every day around the world thanks to what humans force upon us and you complain about the lives that will be lost in the operation? Did mother’s death teach you nothing, do you not remember how she died in the mines from overwork?”
“N-no” said Daylen, raising his arms “I just—“
“This needs to be done!” said Jirall, his words quiet but still carrying a powerful tone “We’ve tried our leader’s methods and they just haven’t worked! We’re still living our lives as second class citizens while all those humans look down on us with scorn!”
“But” started Daylen, “people like Lan—“
“Are too few and far between to make a difference!” shouted Jirall “We need to take matters into our own hands in the only way those humans will understand!”
Daylen, already mentally exhausted from worrying over the topic for months, collapsed onto the bed and covered his face with his hands.
Jirall sighed, walked over, and placed a hand on Daylen’s shoulder.
“Regardless, we’ve already come too far.” Said Jirall “We almost have enough firepower and the espionage was already finished a long time ago. Just a little longer and we’ll be ready to act…We’ll finally start changing the world.”
Daylen looked up at his brother. He then shut his eyes, tightening his whole face from the stress he was feeling, and then after a few minutes he relaxed and let out a long sigh.
“Okay brother…I’ll…do my best.”
“That’s all I ask” said Jirall, turning back to his bed.
The two then passed the rest of the night in silence, things would begin soon, their preparations were almost complete and their subordinates ready for action. All that was needed now was the right trigger, a flame strong enough to light to the fuse, a flame that was already beginning to burn in the troubled heart of the man who stood at the top of the time.
Do you guys think my story is unconflicting enough with the canon story to be absorbed into it? That’s my major reason for writing this so I would honestly like to hear your opinions on it as well as any suggestions you have on bettering this tale.
Wish me luck, and I hope you continue to enjoy my stories. Next week Jirall and Daylen’s plan goes into action. Look forward to it!