Lan peered out from behind the corner into the cavern. Sure enough; Daylen, his entourage, and the compliant Faunus workers were clustered around the center of the rock-filled cavern, guarding an argent cylindrical structure that Lan took to be the bomb. The troops were arranged in a circular formation around the elevated piece of ground where Daylen, a few Black Claw members, and the bomb were standing. The outermost and innermost rings of the formation consisted of Black Claw combatants who had planted themselves in position with thick slabs of scrap metal that acted as shields, and were pointing their weapons towards all the openings. Between the two groups were Faunus workers, all of whom had nervous expressions on their faces and were clutching a variety of basic weaponry.
“At least he’s not treating them like fodder.” Thought Lan.
After getting a hold of the formations, Lan focused his attention on the bomb. Currently one of its panels was open and someone who looked like an engineer was working on it, fitting together wires and placing dust crystals here and there.
“So, what do you think?”
Lan looked backwards at Aurelius.
“I’d suggest parlay.” Said Lan,
“Wha—Parlay?” said Aurelius, his expression doubtful. “With those wild—“
With a deft movement Lan covered the man’s mouth with his hand.
“Finish that sentence and I’ll rip out all your nose hairs.” Said Lan “also it’s Daylen inside, he’s a lot more understanding than Jirall. I might be able to get a few words in…Okay I know what to do.”
Lan slipped back behind the wall, sat his bag down and began to rummage through it. After a few minutes he frowned. He looked up at the guardsman around him as he pulled out a metal pole.
“Does anyone have any white cloth with them? All I have is black.”
The guardsmen all shook their heads, and few “No”s popped up here and there. Their clothes were all white, but were made out of some kind of metal armor.
“Hmmm, what would grandpa do?” thought Lan, after thinking for a moment he snapped his fingers and turned to Aurelius “Quick! What color is your underwear?”
“Oh, uh it’s white but—“started Aurelius, suddenly he realized why Lan asked the question and started to open his mouth in protest. But too late, Lan was already behind him.
“Sorry.” Said Lan
Daylen looked out at the people gathered before him, spread out in front of him like a small pond. He let out a quiet sigh and rubbed his eyes.
“Is something wrong Daylen?”
He turned and looked into Megan’s concerned face.
“It’s nothing, just…a little tired.”
Megan sighed and leaned forward to whisper into his ear.
“Are you sure you want to go through with Jirall’s plan?”
Daylen was silent for a moment, and then slowly pushed her away.
“We don’t really have a choice.” Said Daylen “Besides, we’ve gotten this far in life thanks to following Jirall.” “But I really hoped that we wouldn’t go through with this in the end” Jirall thought the last portion, letting that opinion echo in the confines of his heart instead of inside the cavern.
Daylen let out another sigh and turned to the technician working on the bomb.
“Is it almost ready?”
“Just another couple minutes” said the technician, “still got too calibrate the—“
At that moment a loud high-pitch shriek similar to that of a wild boar’s filled the cavern. Everyone in the cavern snapped to attention and trained their weapons on the entrance where the sound came from. A few moments later a white flag appeared in the opening.
“We request a parlay” said whoever was holding the flag “We wish for no harm to come to either side.”
Many of the men and woman in the ranks looked at each other in confusion and turned towards Daylen.
“Um, okay?” said Daylen “but what was that sound just now?”
“Guard captain Aurelius screaming like a little girl” responded Lan “a little sissy baby piggy girl.”
“You almost crushed my lower regions!” shouted Aurelius in an angry voice. “I swear I felt my skin rip!”
It was then that Daylen and the rest of the Faunus realized what the flag Lan was holding was made out of.
“Well, are you going to come out now?” said Daylen, still slightly put off by the situation.
“Oh, yeah sure.” Said Lan,
A few minutes later Lan, Aurelius (who had a pained expression on his face and was nursing his lower regions), and the rest of the guard emerged from the tunnel. The guards then set their shields, forming a defensive wall behind Lan who was walking forwards to the center of the room.
“How’s it going Daylen?” said Lan with a smile.
“Uh, fine” said Daylen, slowly recovering his composure “and how are you?”
“Oh, fine except for the monkey and puppy up my butt” said Lan, destroying Daylen’s composure once again.
“What!?” said Daylen, his composure once again slipping.
“Yeah they won’t let go” said Lan.
He then turned around and pointed to his rear where George grabbing on with all four limbs and Ignis was latched on with his fangs.
Lan then turned back around to face Daylen who, along with all the other Faunus in the room, was looking at Lan with a disturbed expression.
“Well, all jokes aside” Said Lan, his voice turning serious “Daylen, why a bomb?”
Quickly recovering his wits, Daylen fixed Lan with a cold stare.
“We didn’t really have choice anymore” said Daylen “with so many years of unanswered enthusiasm, rallies, and effort…we had to take matters into our own hands.”
“By staining them with blood?” said Lan “Aren’t you trying to improve other people’s lives.”
“Yes” said Daylen “we are.”
“You call this terrorism improvement?!” shouted Aurelius from behind the guardsmen’s shield wall “You’re only going to make it worse for yourselves! Especially you workers. ” Aurelius pointed his finger in an ark at all of the Faunus workers “How can you be so ungrateful.”
“Ungrateful!?” shouted someone in the crowd. A moment later that person burst to the front of the line. It was Milton, the leader of the worker union. “We’ve been worked to the bone for barely anything! We’ve had to scrounge together our savings to pay for food, and dig through the trash just to survive!”
“That’s nonsense!” shouted Aurelius “According to the reports in our system database, you should be able to pay for your meals at the cheaper markets and still have enough funds to store away for emergencies. You’re all having a hard time because you’ve been too wasteful!”
“Wasteful!?” shouted many in the crowd. Many cries of outrage erupted from the crowd. Lan turned and faced Aurelius.
“It’s true” said Lan, “Me and grandpa stick with these guys after closing time every day; they get paid really small amounts.”
“Why that’s preposterous” said Aurelius “The system showed that the correct sum had been withdrawn from the company checking account—“
“It didn’t go to them” interrupted Lan “that money went into Siemans’s account.”
“Just take a look at these records that grandpa and I stole from the bank last week!” Many perplexed gazes turned in Lan’s direction as the boy pulled some folded documents out of a pocket in his gi and handed it over to Aurelius. The man quickly read the documents, widened his eyes in surprise, read it again, and frowned.
“If this is true” he said, rubbing his chin “Then that means that the amount they were paid was…oh god.” Aurelius covered his eyes with his hands. “Not even enough for a loaf of bread.”
Lan peeked at Daylen out of the corner of his eyes and noticed a change in the man’s demeanor, an almost sorrowful look had appeared on Daylen’s face for a brief instance before once again being replaced with the emotionless expression he had displayed earlier.
“Did you not report the discrepancy?” asked Aurelius, turning to the group of Faunus.
“We did” said a tired looking man with a fuzzy gray beard “but every time we were laughed at or ignored. Them racist clerks never took our complaints seriously.”
Aurelius was quiet for a moment, muttering “even for a Faunus this is…” under his breath, which elicited an elbow from Lan. He then walked forward and fixed the Faunus with a tired and apologetic stare.
“I’m sorry” he said after a moment of silence “No, We’re sorry…On behalf of the Dust Hole division of the Schnee Dust company, I apologize.” Another moment of awkward silence passed as the man scratched his head before continuing. “I can understand the pain and frustration you have all gone through…So let me offer you this: If you all end this now, I will not only guarantee that you all will not be blamed, but you shall also be reimbursed for all the pay that you haven’t received…as well as an extra stipend for your pain and suffering… I guarantee it will be paid” Aurelius added this last portion in a hurry as murmurs of derision began forming in the Faunus worker group. “Even if I have to pay out of my own pocket, I’ll make sure you are all given proper compensation.”
A moment of silence passed through the room before someone else spoke again.
“That’s all well and good” said Milton “but the town’s probably been overrun by Grimm already, we’ve got no choice now but too—“
“Actually” interrupted Lan “that’s not true.”
Lan quickly explained that Byakko was currently keeping Grimm out of the city, and that technicians had already been scrambled to fix the power lines. With that, the last vestiges of fighting spirit that the Faunus workers had left completely disappeared. Most of them hadn’t wanted something like this in the first place. One by one they dropped their weapons. Milton, acting as the representative for the group, walked forward and Aurelius did the same. The two of them stopped in front of each other and held out their hands, clasping them in a firm handshake. It looked like things had ended peacefully on this front, however:
“System armed” said a mechanical female voice that echoed throughout the cavern.
Everyone in the cavern turned in the direction of the sound, and saw that the bomb had lit up with an eerie red light.
“I’m sorry” said Daylen “but we must continue.” The Black Claw troops had already separated themselves from the Faunus workers and formed a defensive perimeter around the bomb, pointing their weapons at both the guards and Faunus workers.
The cavern was completely silent save for the hum of the now armed explosive. The Faunus workers and guards once again held a shocked expression on their faces, Lan was no exception.
“Seriously Daylen?” said Lan “You saw that things could be peacefully resolved and your still going to go through with this?”
“What does one little negotiation make” said Daylen, his face devoid of expression “Even if this is the spark of change for this small town, it means nothing in the face of all the atrocities that we Faunus have endured…..Is this enough to change the world? Is this enough to make up for all we have suffered? Is this enough to convince those pigheaded people in power that they need to change?” Before he had realized it, Daylen had begun spouting off the words of his brother. Daylen had a gentle and kind soul, so when he had seen things resolved so peacefully between the workers and guards he had wanted to just throw away this bloody plan and pursue a path in a peaceful direction. But at that moment his brother’s face had entered his mind and the memories of the pain they had suffered as children flooded through him. He remembered the hundreds of times that they had been beaten, the hollow pain in their stomachs after not having eaten for days, and the cold hand of their mother’s lifeless corpse.
With those in mind, Daylen attempted to steel his mind and pulled the staff from his back. It was a weapon made from a combination of green, brown, and black metal. The top of the staff had a shaped resembling a shepherd’s crook while the bottom had a sharpened point with a metal ring near the tip.
“Now that the bomb has been set, it will begin to count down at the flip of a switch.” Said Daylen, “It is also constructed in a special way that will cause it to detonate if anyone should attempt to dismantle it.”
He paused for a moment and looked around the room. “To my Faunus brethren, I suggest you reconsider your options, siding with us will be in your best interest for survival.”
Following Daylen’s statement, silence filled the cavern.
“Grab the technician!” shouted Aurelius, “He’ll know how to dismantle the bomb!”
The Black Claw member that had just shut the bomb’s control panel removed a pistol from his waist, pointed it at Aurelius, and fired. Luckily one of the nearby guardsmen was able to intercept the projectile with his shield. At that moment hell broke loose.
The Faunus workers quickly formed two opposing groups, one siding with Daylen and the other with Aurelius and the guardsmen, and began to fight each other after picking up the weapons they had just dropped. The guardsmen divided into two groups, one assisted in suppressing the panicked Faunus who had decided to side with the Black Claw, and the other headed towards Daylen. The Black Claw members began to fire on the group of guardsmen who were charging forward, however the guardsmen’s’ shields blocked all of the gunfire. Attempting to minimize casualties as best they could, Lan and his little friends darted around the battlefield disarming those who were using lethal weaponry and preventing those who had fallen from being trampled. The guardsmen quickly neared the encircling formation of Black Claw troops, but were beaten back as a purplish red whip coursing with energy smashed into their shields and stopped them in their tracks. Megan held the weapon in her hands, and began to lash at the enemy forces over and over. The force of her blows prevented them from taking a single step forward, the great force likely a result of the whip’s special qualities and/or her semblance.
It seemed as if things had entered a stalemate.
However Daylen had yet to do anything. He merely stood there, his eyes closed and his staff grasped tightly in his hands. He was inhaling and exhaling slowly, calming his mind and silencing his soul. Then, when he finally opened his eyes, the storm began.
Reaching into a pouch at his waist, Daylen pulled out three objects and threw them at the ground between the guardsmen and the Black Claw. As he was propping an unconscious man up against the wall, Lan caught a glimpse of them and recognized them as tree seeds. At the same time, Daylen slammed the sharp end of his staff into the ground, a green layer of Aura covering his body. The light from Daylen’s body traveled from his hand to the staff, where it then entered the ground. Three green tendrils of energy shot out from where the staff was embedded in the earth at frightening speed and reached the seeds that were embedded in the ground.
Giant wooden vines erupted from the seeds a moment later, slamming into the line of shields and blasted the guardsmen backwards. But it didn’t stop there. The vines continued to rush forward, ripping up the ground and ensnaring any that came too close. Guardsmen and Faunus alike were wrapped in the raging plant matter, the guardsmen were able to more successfully evade however thanks to their training. Crashing into the walls, the vines finally stopped. Like a prison, the vines had numerous Faunus and guardsmen trapped inside. The guardsmen inside the vines that were still able to move pulled out blades from their tool belts and began cutting themselves out, while those outside of the vines continued their charge.
Ironically most of the people trapped and entangled in the vines were Faunus workers, the remaining Faunus workers outside the vines simply stood where they were, their faces masked with confusion and fear.
This actually worked out quite well for Lan, since the boy no longer had to prevent them from killing each other. Whistling at George and Ignis to take cover, Lan dashed towards the battlefront. However, the minute he reached the frontlines another round of vines exploded in front of him. He leapt backwards and ironically used the advancing vines as springboards to avoid being entrapped by them.
“Not as fast as grandpa’s hand” thought Lan, as he ducked and jumped through the encroaching vines “But there’s gotta be something I can do about them.” He considered reasoning with Daylen again, but another one of Byakko’s sayings came to his mind: “People are most open to persuasion after a good old fashioned beat down!”
“Okay,” thought Lan as he finally leapt out of the path of the vines and landed on the ground a few feet away “how can I beat him down?”
Lan stood still and thought for a moment, ignoring the guardsmen who were being flung into the air and crashing down near him. After going through all the tools that he currently had in his mind, Lan came up with a solution.
“My first time trying this” said Lan, pulling out a canister of Dust, “but here goes nothing.”
Lan deposited some of the blue powder into his palm.
“Okay, just gotta add aura and—“Lan ‘s palm began to glow with a blue light, and the blue dust in his hand immediately exploded, coating his hand in a layer of ice.
“Ack—cold cold”, said Lan, bending down just in time to avoid a stray bullet.
He ran behind one of the tree roots to avoid gunfire, reached into one of his pockets with his good hand, pulled out an instant hot pack, gave it a punch to start the chemical reactions, and placed it on his hand to melt the ice.
“Ahhhh” said Lan, as his hand warmed up, “well, that didn’t go well.”
He quickly glanced around the battle front to make sure no one was dying, and then pulled out the dust canister again.
“Let’s try this again” he thought.
Daylen sent out another round of vines which crashed into the ranks of the guards. Slowly, but surely the guardsmen were being ensnared and exhausted. They had grown more wary of the attacks after the 2nd time, however they were still taking losses each time the plants tore through their ranks and rendered some of their men immobile. Daylen was waiting for Jirall to give him the signal, at that moment he would activate the bomb’s timer and retreat to one of the airships. Once the bomb went off many lives would be lost and there would be no going back, he knew this and had made his peace. However, he found himself simply ensnaring the enemy guardsmen instead of using the lethal force that he was more than capable of. Deep down he didn’t want to hurt them, deep down he wanted to just stop here, but the words of his brother chained those thoughts in the deepest recesses of his mind where they could only influence his actions in a subconscious way. He would continue down this path, he would force himself beyond the point of no return.
As these thoughts filled him he slowly found himself feeling less and less connected from the rest of his body, eventually he felt as if he were sitting inside a dark room watching his own actions unfold on a screen in front of him. He was slowly fading into the darkness and chaos, feeling the man he once was vanish bit by bit.
With empty eyes, Daylen once again reached into the pouch at his side and removed three seeds. Throwing them, he was about to send another burst of aura into his staff but at that moment a small dark blue blur leapt above the battle before him.
“Finally got the hang of it!” shouted Lan who was holding a dust canister in both of his slightly blue hands. He shook the dust canisters until a small cloud of Dust formed in front of him and triggered it with his aura. Several small trails of blue energy shot forward from the dust, striking the seeds that Daylen had thrown and encasing them in ice. Daylen released a pulse of green energy towards the frozen seeds in the ground, but the seeds remained still as they sat in their icy prisons.
With a clunk, Lan landed on top of a guardsman’s helmeted head and turned to Aurelius who was being protected by a phalanx.
“All the guardsmen’s weaponry is currently non-lethal, correct?”
“Uh, ah, that’s right” stuttered Aurelius.
“Get off!” yelled the guard Lan was standing on.
“In that case” said Lan, bending his knees and placing both his hands into the folds of his coat. “Charge!”
Lan leapt into the air and threw two pouches at the Black Claw soldiers who were still firing away with their rifles. The two pouches exploded into two black clouds, also releasing something that made a clanging sound against the guardsmen’s shields. The guardsmen charged forward at that moment, Megan’s whip lashed through the air towards them, but was intercepted by explosives thrown by Lan.
As the guardsmen crashed into the line of Faunus, they raised the batons and were prepared for a tough fight. But to their surprise they found the Black Claw members on the front line buckling from even the slightest nudge. They then noticed needles sticking out of any exposed areas of skin that the members had.
“I dipped those needless in Fentanyl solution!” shouted Lan as he dashed across the tops of the Black Fang members’ heads in Daylen’s direction “It’s a drug that’s 100-150 times as strong as morphine!”
“Where did you get something like that?!” shouted one of the guards.
“Black Market” said Lan nonchalantly, as he leaped past the last line of Black Claw gunman. He leapt upwards into the air and dove towards the bomb; however Megan had already begun swinging her whip in his direction. Lan gave a sharp whistle, and a moment later a red and black blur leapt out of the crowd. The George tackled Megan’s face and blocked vision while Ignis bit down on the hand holding the whip.
“Just you and me now Daylen” said Lan as he landed on top of the bomb “but before persuasions begin, it’s time for a good old fashioned beat down!”
Lan pulled his shock batons out of his gi and dove at Daylen, who had readied his staff and was clutching a handful of seeds.
I’m really looking forward to telling some of the future instances of the story, especially what happens after the end of Lan’s journeys. Right now, my favorite character is Lan’s apprentice, (who will not be showing up for a loooooong while), but I’m sure you’ll also enjoy the next three arks after this one where he joins a crew of infamous sky pirates (that has a large number of descendants of a certain violent old man), trains in the temple of Byakko’s former team member, and becomes an influential figure in Remnant’s underground.
As always, give me any suggestions you have on improving the story, and I hope you will continue to read and spread my work…and I gotta ask, do you guys think my writing is long-winded (using more words than necessary)?
P.S. for those who think that Lan acted out of character, remember that Byakko raised him and is still in the process of forming his ‘self’ in a sense.