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Black Lotus

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Olivia bundled her arms into her hoodie pockets as a chilling breeze rippled along silent streets past what would be her new home. They were back in the warehouse district, along the edge that led into the slums. The portion of the slums that these warehouses ran along were heavily populated by faunus, pushed to the fringes of the city where they would be 'out of the way' of the humans. It was the perfect place to have a secret White Fang hideout. There were no humans to report suspicious activity.

Crim opened the door ahead of her and stepped inside, "Welcome to the White Fang," he smiled back at Olivia and waved his hand for her to head in past him. She obliged, and walked past. She could feel dozens inside, several in this room alone. What greeted her eyes first was a large open area. There were couches off in a corner, all facing a television, with several faunus lounging around. A little way from that was a small kitchen, one that actually worked unlike hers from the looks of it. There were quite a few weapons and crates of dust ammunition scattered around the center of the room. A few members were there at one of the tables, doing maintenance on the guns and packing magazines. Off to the far left corner was an open floor space with weapons lining the walls. Not guns, but swords, staves, axes. Olivia didn't know the names of many of them. On the mat, looking like he was training…

"Jace? That was your name, right?" Olivia struggled for a few seconds to recall what the other boys had called him.

"That's me! Glad my uncle could help you out," Jace replied, pausing in his workout to look over and smile at her. There was a sincerity to it that made Olivia's shoulders relax. She hadn't even noticed she was tense.

"I recognized you from the description he gave me," Crim said from behind her. They both stepped to the side to allow the other faunus to enter the building as well. They deposited their weapons and headed off to mingle or feed themselves. Several disappeared into back rooms or up the stairs.

"That was a year ago. You either just have really good memory, or… I should be worried about a stalker," Olivia smiled to show she was messing with him.

Crim grinned before his face turned a little more serious, "We were making sure that you were out of the building when we found the guards near the front door. You could have just let them pass and got yourself out safely, but you risked yourself to stop them from flanking us. Thank you."

Olivia shrugged, "And now you've saved me from a trip to the Schnee Mines, so I'd say we're even."

"You looked like you had at least one of them under control," Crim smirked, "What was that you did, by the way?"

Olivia paused and tipped her head to the side while she thought it out. 'Can I tell him the truth? I don't think he's going to turn against me or anything. It is a nice secret to keep, though…' Olivia decided to just tell him the truth. He'd already seen it in action, the cat was out of the bag.

"My semblance creates invisible spider legs. I was holding him against the bars with them."

"And the hole through his chest…?" Crim was looking at her with a measure of respect, now.

"One quick jab, yeah," Olivia tried to keep her face from cringing. The man had made her mad, and they were threatening her with slavery. That didn't make the guts that spilled out any more appealing. 'Thank Oum I don't feel as if I'm actually touching them.' Olivia did shiver at that mental image.

"You didn't use anything like that in our fight," Jace remarked, also giving her a look, "You would have had a better chance if you did."

"I didn't exactly want to give away my greatest secret to a bunch of huntsman in training," Olivia began, "I did use them though. I've never tried it before, but I was coating my arms and legs with my semblance to try to punch harder and move faster. It was… hard… to control."

Jace laughed, "You did look like you were really concentrating during our fight."

Crim was looking thoughtful as he finally let the door close and stepped further into the room next to them, "You have a good point. It could be the ace up your sleeve. You should think about learning how to fight that way, and only reveal them when you absolutely have to, or when you're certain the secret won't get spread afterwards."

Olivia recognized the implication, 'When you know you're going to kill whoever you're fighting.'

"You could train with Jace!" Crim's eyes lit up as he looked at his nephew, a twisted smile on his lips, "He's trained the most at hand to hand."

Jace's eyes met Olivia's, and he nodded, "I wouldn't mind. You did show promise before, I wasn't lying about that, and if it helps you keep your secret..." he shrugged, "Two birds, as they say."

"Don't you have classes, though?" Olivia asked, a little confused. He had been wearing a student uniform and hanging out with those other students at the arcade.

He shook his head, "Today was the last day of regular combat school. I have three months before I join Haven Academy for my first semester there." 'I was right, he is the same age as my brother had been.'

Olivia looked around the room, "You're not a part of the White Fang? Or are you going in as a spy?"

"A little of both…" Jace gave a hard stare at his uncle, "I wanted to join, but Uncle Crim didn't want me to. Said I should try and make something more of myself," he shook his head in exasperation, "I eventually talked him into letting me pass information off to them at the very least. Not much to really give, since the school doesn't exactly hold any sway over the SDC or the police, but I'll help any way I can."

Crim looked annoyed that his nephew had managed to even get that much out of him. He looked between the two of them and gestured over his shoulder, towards the couches that had just been vacated. It was late, and many of those in the room were starting to head to their rooms. Olivia accepted gratefully. It had been a long day, and her legs were immediately thankful when she sunk down into the couch. 'This is so much softer than mine…' Olivia sighed and leaned against the arm rest.

"So, kid. I hate to ask, but it's a requirement for the group. Anyone we need to be worried about by taking you in?" Crim asked seriously from the couch across from her.

Olivia thought it over. The fat man had definitely sounded like he thought he was important, at the very least, "The man I ran into after our fight," she glanced at Jace to make it clear who she meant, "was someone that I mugged a couple nights before then. He said he'd pulled some strings with friends in Atlas to get me sent to the mines, and asked me if I had known who he was before I mugged him."

"Can you describe him for me?" Crim looked troubled by the news.

"Fat, bald… wore expensive clothing, which is why I mugged him. The police took him at his word over mine before they even knew I was a faunus," Olivia thought it over again, but that really was all the details she could remember, "He was a coward too, I guess."

"Did you get a look at him, Jace?" Crim turned to his nephew.

Jace nodded, "Pretty much what she said. Expensive clothes and everything. I did notice a gold medallion hanging from his neck, like a chair in a circle."

Crim winced, "So he was a member of the Mistral Council," he sighed, "He'll definitely hear about the detainment center getting attacked and wonder what happened to the faunus being held there." Crim looked at Olivia, "How mad was he?"

Olivia hesitated, but decided the truth was the best way to go. If she withheld information and got all of them killed because they had taken her in… "He was pretty mad. I did… taunt him a bit more, before he left. That may have included calling him a cry baby in front of a bunch of police officers."

Crim nodded, "So, we focus our next mission on him before he gets any bright ideas to start upping searches for a black haired, pink eyed faunus girl."

Olivia felt a lump in her throat, "How are we going to narrow it down? How many members are there on this 'council'?"

"Seven, including the Headmaster at Haven. We can get pictures of all of them, though. It's in the public records," Crim pulled out his Scroll and navigated through a few websites before pulling up an official looking webpage. He held it out to Olivia, who took it and swiped down the images until she found the man.

"That one," she pointed to his portrait, "Beryl Verdigris".

Crim took the Scroll back from her and look over the man's information, "Alright. I'll let Widow know when she gets back. She can find out where he lives and do a little recon before we move in."

"Widow?" Olivia asked curiously.

Crim brightened, "She's the other spider faunus I told you about. That isn't her real name, she gave it to herself when she joined. Stealthiest damn person you'll ever meet." Crim's expression darkened a little, "That reminds me. There's a second question we have to know before we can make this official. What's your story? Why is a twelve year old living on the streets?"

Olivia sat back as both Crim and Jace sat forward, expectantly waiting for her answer. Olivia decided to just give them the short version, "My family lived outside the city. My brother and father were both trained at the combat school, so they didn't have much trouble protecting us from the Grimm," Olivia's eyes teared up slightly and she glanced at Jace, "My brother was going to join Haven, too. He never got the chance, though."

They both waited patiently for her to continue, "We were attacked by three… well... four, bandits. They killed my brother and parents, and I unlocked my semblance when I thought I was going to die with them. After I killed the two that were left, this woman… I think she was with them, congratulated me on it and offered to take me in. I said no, and she left through a red portal."

Crim's eyes widened at the last tidbit of information, "What was she wearing?"

"Black and red armor, and a brutal looking Grimm mask. Bigger and more detailed than the type you all use."

Crim's eyes were downcast as he pondered what she'd said. He muttered out his reply after a few moments had passed, "Raven Branwen."

"Who?" Jace asked from next to him.

"She's the leader of the Branwen Tribe, a group of bandits that roam the continent, attacking smaller towns and travelers. We've lost a lot of supplies in their raids," he stared into Olivia's eyes, "She's dangerous. Those bandits would have been her men. Don't try to get revenge. Raven is one of the strongest people I've ever encountered. She doesn't care what happens to the people she steals from. I've seen entire towns get overrun by Grimm after one of their raids. They don't stick around to help."

"That's horrible," Olivia choked out. She was suddenly very glad she hadn't stopped to listen to the woman all those months ago. 'What would I have turned into?' The words the woman had spoken to her came back, 'The weak die, and the strong survive.' It was a terrible philosophy, but at the same time... "It's kept her safe… Her very name inspires fear. Gaining strength at least wouldn't be a bad idea. I don't have to use it the way she does.'

Olivia nodded to herself, "I'm sure she doesn't even remember me by now," she spared an eye to Jace, "I'm not going to try and hunt her down or anything, but I would appreciate training. I need to get stronger. It's the only way to protect myself so things like today never happen again."

Jace smiled, "Of course. We should start with the basics, then once you have those down you can start learning how to incorporate your extra legs into it. How strong are they, by the way?"

Olivia activated her semblance and gave them each a meaningful look, "I'm holding one out to each of you. Grab on." When they had both hesitantly reached out in front of themselves and taken a hold of one of her extra legs, she lifted them into the air, unmoving from her own spot on the couch, "I really don't even feel your weight on them right now," Olivia chuckled slightly, remembering back to the occasion at the warehouse, "And it was me that tore through that warehouse door."

She set them down. They both looked at her, impressed, and Jace laughed lightly, "Now I'm really glad you didn't use them in our fight. I was thinking that one punch you hit me with was how strong they were, but if you can pick both of us up that easily?" he shook his head, "You'll be an absolute power house soon enough."

Olivia beamed back at the compliment, happy with herself, 'It really is a strong semblance.' She looked at them both with curiosity, "What are your semblances?"

They gave each other a look and nodded. "I can expel my aura outwards in short bursts. That's what I did the first time I punched you," Jace smirked. Olivia remembered the straight jab she'd taken to the face, and the sheer power that had been behind it.

'I can project my thoughts into other people's minds,' Olivia heard Crim's voice even though his mouth hadn't moved.

'Uhhh, can you hear me too?'

Crim grinned mischievously, "No, I can't read your mind."

Olivia reeled back, "But that's just what I was-!"

Crim's laugh cut her off, "That's what everyone thinks the first time they find out," his laughter slowly ebbed down, "As long as I've seen the person's face before and have an idea of their general location, I can speak to them telepathically. It makes ordering these guys around so much easier. No radios to be overheard by the guards unless someone needs to talk back to me."

Crim's expression sobered, "Just keep in mind, you're among friends here. Everyone that joins the White Fang has some unfortunate experience in their past that drove them to it. You aren't alone. Not here."

Olivia decided not to pry into their 'experience'. She was the one that needed to prove herself, and she could hardly expect them to share something so personal. Her eyes scanned the room instead, "So, where am I sleeping?"

Crim chuckled and pointed up the stairs, "Last room on the right. We're starting to run out of space, but we have a few rooms left over. Do you have anything stashed away somewhere?"

Olivia nodded, "I kept my brother's weapon. It's at the house I was staying at. I'll go get it tomorrow, if that's alright?"

"I'll have Jace go with you. Not that I don't trust you to take care of yourself after all this time alone, but he's good for backup," Crim looked her up and down, "and we can find something more fitting for you than that hoodie."

Olivia's finger idly twisted one of the drawstrings for the hood, "I'd, uh- like to keep wearing it. It was my brother's…"

Crim held his hands up, "Say no more. You won't be able to wear it when you're on missions, but feel free when you're on your own time," his eyes caught on to the tear in the sleeve, "We can have July patch that for you as well. She used to be a seamstress."

Olivia nodded thankfully, "Well, unless there's some secret third question… Mind if I turn in for the night?"

Jace stood up in agreement, "It's late. I should be getting home as well. I'll be back tomorrow morning to pick you up, then once we're back from our little trip we can start training."

Olivia smiled and gave him a miniature salute, "Looking forward to it. Have a goodnight."

Jace and Crim both reciprocated the sentiment as she walked up the stairs. She gave one last wave as she was lost to their sight and headed for the room that would be hers. It was a cozy little room, about fifteen feet across in either direction. It was lightly furnished with the essentials, a bed, dresser, and a nightstand. Olivia jumped into bed and pulled the thick blanket around herself, 'Oh yeah, much better. This one isn't even moldy.'

For the second night in a row, Olivia had a peaceful night's rest.

 


 

"Look, I'm not saying you should do it. I'm just saying it would be cool," Jace explained himself. They were walking from the hideout to the house Olivia had been squatting in, and Jace had told her about the ideas he'd come up with since last night.

"I am not wielding six guns. I would look like such a weirdo."

"Uh, yeah. A weirdo with a lot of firepower. No one would dare call you that," Jace scoffed.

"Not to my face," Olivia laughed, "Besides, that defeats the entire purpose of trying to keep them a secret, remember?" Olivia adopted a deeper voice, like she was pretending to be someone older, "Say kid, watcha doing with all those guns? Don't ya know you only have two arms?"

"And that's when you shoot them," Jace replied simply. The grin spreading across his face betrayed the joke.

"I'm not really a fan of using guns in the first place. I feel restricted if my hands aren't free," Olivia said after the moment had passed, "I only used my brother's til now because people aren't afraid of a twelve year old. Hard to mug people without attacking them if they just get all sappy and call you cute."

"You should still have a gun to use. What are you gonna do if they shoot at you from a distance?"

Olivia tapped the back of his head with one of her appendages, "These babies are completely bullet-proof. I don't even lose aura when I block with them. So, I close the distance, and get back into my preferred range while they waste their ammo."

"And if they have explosive ammunition, or too many bullets to block all at once?"

Olivia pondered the question, "Then I dodge? What else can you do against an explosive, anyway?"

Jace laughed, "Good point. I guess if you're keeping your semblance a secret, it might even make them more confident when it looks like they're getting free shots on you."

Olivia nodded happily. She hadn't thought of it that way, but it was a nice idea. 'As long as I can keep it a secret, no one will be any wiser.' "Plus that means I can go anywhere I want without worrying about being searched."

They had just walked to within thirty feet of Olivia's old house when she grabbed Jace, pulling him to the side behind another building, "Someone's inside," she whispered fiercely. She focused, letting her sixth sense ebb out while she concentrated, "Three someone's. Hold on… I recognize them from…" Memories of the large faunus man and his two thug friends swam through her mind, "Oh, he is dead."

"Wait, who is? Who's in there?" Jace whispered back, a little panic tinging his voice.

"Some thugs that tried to disturb a good time. They were trying to force their way in while I had guests, and I didn't take kindly to it," Olivia spared a glance to Jace, "If they came back, they're probably ready for me."

"Are you sure you want to go in there?"

Olivia laughed lightly, "No. I don't want to walk into an ambush. How about we bring them out to us?" She grinned at Jace's confused expression and stepped out from behind the building they were at. She walked closer to her own, keeping her sixth sense sharply attuned to the three people that were inside. There was one waiting on each side of the door. 'Perfect.'

Olivia stepped up directly in front of the door. She could feel them tensing up inside. 'Good thing this place is so rundown. It'll work in my favor for once.' Olivia gestured for Jace to get ready, and with one last moment to orient her appendages, pierced them through the wood. Each wrapped around one of the two that had been waiting next to the door. Her other two slammed into the door itself. She used the blunt side of her appendage to send the door flying forward into the third person on the other side. With one backwards heave, Olivia dragged the two through the wall and on to the ground. Their weapons clattered across the porch. They were too stunned to keep a grip on them.

Pain bloomed across Olivia's chest as shots started pinging off her. She quickly pulled the other two appendages back to defend herself, bullets now bouncing off with no effect. Olivia glared through the open doorway, into the dark interior, at the large man from the previous day, 'Shoot at me with my brother's gun, will ya?' She uncoiled the two that were already on the ground, they wouldn't be trying anything soon, and stepped into the house. The large man was frantically firing at her, terror clear in his eyes.

Olivia spared him a smirk, "This was your big idea? You're a disgrace to faunus everywhere."

"Fuck you!" the man yelled in panic. He hadn't even noticed yet that the gun was out of ammo, giving him only a small 'click' each time he pulled the trigger. Olivia spotted the bulge sticking up from underneath his shirt, a few bandages poked out from the neck line. She gave him a devilish laugh, then stabbed him through the same spot, pinning him to the wall behind him.

"It seems like you didn't learn from last time. And I was so insistent, too. Are you just that dumb?" Olivia tilted her head as she asked the question. He was too busy yelling in pain and struggling to pull himself free. Olivia slapped the gun out of his hand with another appendage and pulled it closer to herself so that she could pick it up with her actual hands.

"Please! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I get it now! I won't show myself around here ever again! Just let me go!" tears streaked down the man's face. Olivia ignored his pleas, looking over her weapon to make sure it wasn't damaged.

Satisfied, she spotted the extra magazines on his waist and reclaimed those as well. Olivia began to reload as she spoke, "You know. The first time I ever shot a gun was with this one?" she spared him an evil grin as she finished reloading, "That guy was begging for mercy, too."

His eyes went even wider as his face paled, "No, please! Don't do it! I'll never come back!"

Olivia was aiming it at his chest when a hand grabbed her by the shoulder. Jace didn't pull her back, but his fingers clenched tightly. He spoke to her in a calm, soft tone, "Just let them go. You have your gun back. Be the bigger person, here."

"And were they just going to 'let me go'?" Olivia turned her eyes to him in annoyance, "Were those police just going to 'let me go'!? I tried being nice. It ended with me behind bars and with a one way ticket to hell. I was thinking about it all morning before you got there. What could I have done differently? What would have kept me out of that situation?" Olivia leveled the gun at the large man's chest in front of her, the double meaning she spoke was clear to everyone in the room. "I shouldn't have left him alive."

"No! Please! We weren't gonna kill ya, I swear! We just wanted to mess you up a bit and trash the place!" the man continued to beg, hands struggling futilely against the spider leg. The tip of it was stained red with his blood. His hands were slipping as he tried to push against it.

"If you do this, I won't train you. I'm not going to teach someone that enjoys hurting others."

Olivia whipped around on him, arms shaking, "You think I enjoy this!? I'm scared! I'm terrified of what might happen if I let him go!"

Jace let his hand relax on her shoulder as he spoke, voice still calm, "Then you'll have friends there to protect you. What is he," Jace gestured to the large man crying in pain, "going to do against the White Fang?"

Olivia's body trembled as she stared at the man. No one spoke. With one final, long sigh, she retracted her appendage. The man collapsed to the floor in a heap before struggling on to his feet. He barrelled between them and out the door, this time being the one to leave his friends behind. Olivia just shook her head as she started to calm down, "I really hope I don't end up regretting that."

"You won't," Jace said with a smile. There was a slight tremble to his voice as he spoke again, "Now, let's get to training, eh?"

Olivia nodded and grabbed a few other things that she didn't want to leave behind, letting her semblance vanish as she did. The blood on them disappeared, but the pool on the floor had already started to stain into the wood.

'I hope you're right, Jace.'