The elevator door opened and Lan and his two little friends poked their heads out and looked in both directions before darting out and jumping into a nearby trashcan (to us for cover of course). The inside of the Dust purification center was dimly lit, with brownish walls covered in grime. Lan and his friends were currently in a corridor with two exits on both sides. The signs of recent battle were everywhere, from the burn marks and bullet holes on the wall to the occasional blood stains here and there. Inside the trash can, Lan pulled out a map showing the massive layout of the dust purification center.
“Jirall said something about 2 bombs” said Lan, “The only places that would be advantageous to put one are the control room, the two Dust storerooms with the raw dust and purified dust, and the Dust reactor.”
The control room was closer, so Lan decided to go there first. George grabbed onto the top of Lan’s head and Ignis dove into one of the pockets of Lan’s backpack as the boy leapt out of the trashcan. Lan dashed to one of the ends of the hallway he was in and stopped at the corner, peering around he saw a few people lying motionless on the ground. There were Black claw warriors, guardsmen, and engineers who had gotten caught up in the battle. Lan went around and checked each of them, but it was already too late. Sighing, Lan returned his attention back towards his previous objective. After dashing down a few more corridors, pocketing anything he thought might be of use, Lan arrived at the entrance to the control room. He was about to reach out and open the door, but stopped as he heard a few strained grunts inside.
“How do you shut it off?!” yelled a gruff voice man, this was followed by the sound of an impact and an exclamation of pain.
“I don’t know!” cried someone else “Only the boss knows, he didn’t tell anyone else.”
“That’s bullshit you little ******, who would believe that the one who built the damn thing can’t turn it off?” Another impact and another exclamation of pain.
Having heard enough, Lan wrenched the door open and stepped inside.
Inside the control room, surrounded by many panels and screens, was a group of guardsmen surrounding a grey-haired man with two large tusks coming out of his mouth, an elephant Faunus, who was tied to a chair. The man was currently in very sorry shaped. One of his tusks had been broken off and his face was swollen and bloody from the beatings he had just received. The one who was currently holding the man’s collar was a large dark-skinned man that Lan recognized to be Marcus.
The moment he entered, the gazes of everyone else in the room landed on him, alarmed at first but then relaxed as they saw a familiar friendly face. Shifting his feet awkwardly, Lan pointed at the bloody faced man.
“Is it really necessary to beat that guy black and blue?” said Lan.
“Of course it is!” said Marcus angrily “There’s a bomb that could blow any minute somewhere in this building, and this little **** is the only one who knows how to shut them off!”
“I told you already!” shouted the man, “I don’t know how—“
“Again you moth—“ Marcus raised his fist again, but Lan interrupted him in the middle.
“Just wait a minute and let him speak” said Lan.
“Oh, thank you” said the technician, letting out a deep breath as a trickle of blood slid down his chin. “I may have assembled the thing, but it wasn’t me who made it. Jirall ordered the device from some outside party and many of the parts came to us pre-assembled. I just followed the instructions that came with it. Jirall is the one who handled the set-up of the bomb’s systems, and right now both the kill switch and trigger are in his hands. The bombs are also set to go off if anyone tampers with them while they’re armed.”
“What the-- why didn’t you say any of this earlier!” roared Marcus.
“I tried” whimpered the technician “but you always hit me before I got the chance to expla-a-ain.”
Marcus growled in annoyance and then motioned towards one of the guardsmen.
“Take this guy away.”
The guard nodded then dragged the technician to one of the side rooms.
Marcus then turned towards Lan.
“So what are you doing here kid” he asked “and where’s that insane grandfather of yours?”
Lan then began to explain everything. Relief spread throughout the room the moment people discovered the Grimm were being kept out of the walls by Byakko, but that relief quickly turned sour the moment Lan explained the existence of a second bomb.
After Lan finished his story, Marcus collapsed into one of the nearby chairs and placed his hands over his eyes.
“Dammit” he whispered “One was bad enough, but two? That’ll be enough to take one of the walls down, and if the Grimm get into the underground-railroad system leading to the distribution areas... Those damn terrorists and that little ******* Siemans, the both of them…”
After mumbling for a few more minutes Marcus got back up and turned his eyes on Lan.
“I’m not going to tell you to go back kid, you’re stronger than most of the guys here after all, but I’m going to have to ask you to follow my instructions exactly.”
“Only if they’re reasonable” said Lan.
Marcus then turned to address the rest of the guardsmen in the room.
“We’ve already narrowed down the location of the bomb to three places, and have already sent some scouts to check the storerooms, they should be reporting back any minute. In the meantime, the rest of us will be heading towards the Dust reactor in the top section of the complex. Check your equipment and take care of anything else right now, we’ll be heading out in 10 minutes.”
The guards saluted and then began checking their weaponry and shields. Lan noticed that all of these guardsmen were much better armed than the ones led Aurelius, with many of them holding high quality assault rifles and other advanced military equipment.
Lan walked over, then plopped down on the ground beside Marcus. After doing so George and Ignis suddenly jumped up and landed in Marcus’s lap.
“What the—“ started Marcus, then after staring down at the two little ones, a grin appeared on his face “Well hey there you little cuties” he said, scooping the two of them up into one of his large and muscular arms and stroking them with the other “You trying to cheer this old man up? Thanks.”
After watching Marcus cuddling the little guys and chuckling, Lan asked a question that had been waiting in the back of his mind.
“Hey Marcus, I heard that you used to be a Huntsman, a defender of justice and guardian to the people. Why did you start working for a scumbag like Siemans?”
Marcus, who had just been licked by Ignis and began to laugh, started and then turned solemn. With a sigh, he placed both Ignis and George on the ground and turned towards Lan.
“Well, let’s just say that I did a few things that I’m not proud of back when I was on active duty.” He said “Siemans found out about it thanks to some of his underground connections, after which he blackmailed me into being his personal bodyguard. Wouldn’t of really cared if I was the only one being affected…but I couldn’t let my wife and son live knowing that papa got shipped off to the slammer…well just goes to show that every mistake you make can and will be used against you.”
“But you got to have gotten sick of the things he did right?” said Lan.
“How could I not?” said Marcus, “Guys a certified scumbag, but as long as he’s got that dirt on me stored in that computer of his, I’ve got my metaphorical hands tied…anyway now’s not the time to talk about these things, we got to focus on Jirall right now or a lot of good people will die.”
“Yeah” said Lan, who then reached into his bag and pulled out a chocolate bar. “You know Marcus, you’re an okay guy.” Lan then held out the bar to the man “Friendship token.”
Marcus looked at the chocolate bar for a moment then chuckled slightly.
“You’re okay too kid” he said reaching his hand out and taking it “Too bad your gramps is as crazy as a moth—“
At that moment two groups of guards burst through the door to the security room. Most of them appeared exhausted, injured, or both.
“We’ve got Black Claw coming” shouted one of the guards “Our groups were intercepted on the way back from checking the storerooms, they were empty.”
Marcus was already on his feet and a large mace with had appeared in his hands.
“Everybody get ready!” shouted Marcus “We’re making a beeline to the dust reactor room!”
He then reached into a pouch at his back, pulled out a white mask shaped like a skull, and placed it on his face. Afterwards he grabbed a large and thick, orange and brown shield that had been lying on the ground.
“How soon till they arrive?” he asked.
“Any minute sir” said one of the guardsmen.
“Are you ******** still not ready yet!?” shouted Marcus.
“We are ready sir!” shouted the rest of the guardsmen in the room.
“Then march!” shouted Marcus.
He and the guardsmen then burst out of the control room, Lan and his little friends fast on their heels. Within a few moments they came in contact with the Black Claw troops that the scouts had reported. They were both better armed and better trained than the men that Daylen had and the result…they were completely annihilated.
Marcus truly lived up to his name as an ex-huntsman. Lan watched wide eyes as Marcus swung his mace, the mace-head detaching and rocketing forward. The mace head, connected to the shaft that Marcus was holding with a rope made of some kind of alloy, crashed into the group of Black Claw, shattering their armor and sending them flying before they even had a chance to raise their weapons. Then before the ones in the back had a chance to get organized, Marcus had already reeled back the top of his mace and charged into the group with his shield. His orange aura flared as dozens of Black Fang troops were sent flying, pushing his way completely past the group. The Black Claw members behind him who were left groaning on the ground were quickly restrained by the guardsmen who were following the man. Within a few minutes they were completely restrained, and a few guards were left behind to watch after them.
On their way to the dust reactor, the group ran into a few more groups of Black Fang, but none of them were able to get in more than a few shots before they were sent flying by Marcus’s mace. After a while they arrived in front of a large iron door. One of the guardsmen walked over and placed a keycard into a panel by the door, but from the beeping and red lights that came afterwards everyone could tell that it didn’t work.
“They hacked the system boss” said the guard “What do we do no—“
With a loud clang, Marcus slammed the bottom edge of his shield onto the ground. Anchoring apparatuses then shot out from the bottom of the shield, piercing into the ground and giving it support. Marcus then shoved the tip of his mace into an indentation at the back of his shield. With a loud clang, the front of his shield opened up, revealing 6 barrels in the shape of a honeycomb.
“Out of the way” he grunted, and the guard ran behind him as fast as he could. Marcus then pulled the trigger on the haft of his mace. With an earsplitting bang, six large orange projectiles erupted from the shield and crashed into the iron door. The door was blasted apart, turning into large chunks of metal shrapnel that shot into the room. The guardsmen immediately ran in and assumed an offensive formation with their shields and rifles forwards. The reactor room was a huge area which was mostly taken up by the enormous reactor to the left of where the guardsman had entered. The reactor was still active at that time and was in the process of refining many metric tons of Dust.
There were a few windows in the room, and through the gray light that was seeping through many could tell that morning had already arrived. At that moment a cold voice suddenly rang out from the surrounding ceiling speakers.
“Hello humans” said the voice “Welcome to the end of your road.”
The group of guardsmen was then illuminated with large bright lights coming from the right side of the room. Turning their heads towards the source of illumination, they saw light pouring out of the large glass window of the reactor’s operating room. The room jutted out of the side of the wall and overlooked the entire room. There were two staircases on both sides that lead up to it.
Slowly a black shadow appeared and covered the group of guardsmen. After their eyes finished adjusting to the sudden brightness, the guardsmen saw that the man was Jirall. Behind Jirall was a group of Elite Black Claw soldiers and a group of engineers were currently kneeling on the ground with their arms behind their heads.
The guardsmen trained their weapons on Jirall.
“Don’t move” said Jirall, his men quickly trained their weapons on the kneeling engineers.
Marcus clicked his tongue and ordered his men to stand down.
Smiling, Jirall pulled out a small switch and pressed a button.
A loud beep filled the room and he guardsmen turned their head in the direction of the noise. Sitting on top of the reactor was a bomb similar to the one that was located in the caverns down below.
“System armed” said a mechanical female voice.
“You!” Marcus’s face had flush red with anger “Do you realize what you’re doing boy?”
“I’m bringing change” said Jirall “I’m ending the stagnation on the treatment of my brothers and sisters. This will show you humans that we aren’t a race that can be pushed around and treated like cattle.” He paused for a moment and clenched his fist “After this, many with similar feelings will flock to us. We will form a new force in this world and punish you ******** that refused to let us live our lives.”
Jirall waved his hands and the majority of the Black Claw in the room went out the doors to the sides of the room and onto the stairs, training their weapons on the guardsmen.
“Be thankful” said Jirall “You humans will become an example of those who would dare oppress u—“
The top of the operating room burst open and the room was filled with black smoke. There were many grunts of pain along with a flurry of movement. A few moments later, the bottom of the operating room blew open and a large object fell to the ground below. The moment it was about to hit, two capsules exploded beneath it and covered the object in a kind of white foam, breaking its fall. The object that had fallen to the ground was all of the engineers, tied up with a few lengths of rope, and the white foam appeared to be capsules used by the mining operations anti-fire system. A dark figure dropped down behind the engineers and called out to Marcus. It was Lan.
When Marcus had first blown open the door, Lan had charged forwards using the smoke as cover and used one of his grappling hooks to pull himself onto part of the pipe system on the ceiling. He had then pulled on a pair of suction cup gloves and slowly made his way over to the operating room as soon as he knew the situation.
“Cover me!” Lan cried.
He then tilted the mass of engineers on its side and, with great protest from those tied up, began to role it in the direction of Marcus and the rest.
“Gah” “Ouch” “My spleen!” were among a few of the complaints that came out every few feet the mass was rolled.
The few moments after Lan began to roll the engineers over, the Black Claw members began opening fire on both Lan and the guardsmen. Luckily the guardsmen already had their shields up and Marcus and a few of his best men had already gone to Lan’s side and were covering him and the engineers. Soon, the engineers were rolled over to guards, cut loose, and sent out of the room towards the elevators. Now that the hostages were safe, the guardsmen then began to focus their full efforts on the fight with the Black Claw. Part of the groups continued the fire fights, while another portion of the two opposing forces began to clash in a violent melee. Here and there people were going down, some groaning due to injuries, and some to never rise again.
Standing in the middle of the battle, unhindered by the melee and gunfire, stood Lan and Marcus facing Jirall, who had already come down.
“Had a feeling it would come down to this” said Jirall, pulling a pair of green metallic claws onto both of his hands.
“Not too late to talk peace” said Lan.
“Enough talk” said Jirall.
Moving so fast that he vanished from Lan’s sight, Jirall dashed forward and drove his claws towards the young boy’s face.
The edge of Marcus’ shield caught Jirall’s claws, and with a pulse of orange light blasted Jirall back. Jirall did a somersault in the air then landed back on his feet a few meters away.
“You won’t be getten past my shield” shouted Marcus. Lan remembered from files that he had read was that Marcus’s semblance was Rebound and allowed him to bounce back a portion of his enemy’s attack along with a little bit of his own energy, provided he could take the attack in the first place. It had two fatal weaknesses however, one of which was that if the opponent’s power outclassed his by far he would be blow back instead, which was why he never stood a chance against Byakko.
Jirall stared at Marcus for a moment then said, “I know”. His eyes then flashed with an amber light and he disappeared once again.
His senses tingling, Marcus tried to turn his shield behind himself. But too late, with a flash of green light Jirall slashed Marcus across the back and threw a kick which knocked the man forward. You see the second weakness of Rebound was that it could only bounce back attacks taken from the front, so if someone was able to get behind him fast enough, he would have to rely on his aura to take the hit.
Unluckily for Marcus, not only was a Jirall a warrior fast enough to do so, Jirall’s was also able to immediately see through Marcus’s weak point, thanks to his semblance Predator which allowed him to pinpoint any weak points that he himself could take advantage of.
With a flurry of kicks and slashes, Jirall attacked Marcus, forcing the man on the defensive. To minimize the damage he took, Marcus placed his shield on his back, but his aura was still being worn away little by little. Jirall was simply too fast for Marcus to handle, it was a very bad match up of abilities.
Lan tried to find an opening to help, but in a duel between two warriors at the level of professional hunters, what could a young boy who had yet to discover his semblance do?
The rest of the battle wasn’t going too well either. The guardsmen were being pushed back by the Black Claw troops. The two forces had similar equipment and numbers, but had very different levels of combat experience. The guardsmen had received excellent military training but hadn’t seen too many serious battles, while the members of the Black Claw had participated in many covert battles both with other people and Grimm.
One of the guardsmen near the entrance to his room had his shield knocked out of his hands by a combination of gunfire and the martial skill of a Black Claw elite he was facing. He fell to the ground and looked fearfully at the black uniformed Faunus who was bringing a knife down towards his face.
A wooden vine darted out from behind the guardsmen and struck the Black Claw troop in the chest, denting his armor and sending him flying. At the same time a barrage of gunfire came pouring out of the doorway, forcing the Black Claw onto the defensive.
The attention of everyone in the room turned towards the doorway. Out of it came Daylen, his troops, and the armed Faunus workers.
“Brother, this has to stop now.” Said Daylen.
“Gotta clean up the mess that we started” said Milton, cocking his gun.
I hope to write a story our dearly departed Monty could have enjoyed as well.