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Black Lotus

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"Good! Again!" Jace commanded Olivia. Her arms trembled from the exertion. She'd been running drills like this for half an hour straight, and her body was slick with sweat. Her hair was even lankier than usual. Olivia gritted her teeth and repeated the form that Jace was drilling into her this time. A series of jabs, knees, and kicks, all of which Jace blocked with the pads he was holding.

"Good! Again!"

A series of jabs, knees, and kicks.

"Good! Again!"

Olivia finally collapsed mid kick, her leg simply giving out beneath her, and rolled on to her back on the floor. Her breath gasped out raggedly, even her thoughts came slowly, 'I think... I'm ready… to just use my semblance… Who need's secrets…?'

"Alright, take ten. We'll pick up with a new set once you've caught your breath," Jace turned to a nearby table and tossed her a water bottle from it. She was too weak to catch it before it smacked her in the chest.

"You're… a… monster…" Olivia said between gasps for breath. The bastard just grinned in response and turned back to his own workout. 'Where does he get the stamina!?' Olivia drank greedily from the bottle, not caring that some of it dribbled down her chin. It was the best water she'd ever tasted. 'Or I'm just that damn thirsty.' Olivia would put her lien on the second option.

Olivia felt something strange through her sixth sense as she was lying there. A tingle that sent a sliver of warning down through her bones. "Someone's here!" she whispered to Jace hurriedly, pointing towards the front door. Jace's eyes narrowed when he heard the tremor in Olivia's voice. He wordlessly got the attention of a few others who grabbed up weapons, aiming them at the front door.

Everyone waited in silence, a tension in the air that could be unleashed at the drop of a hat. Olivia felt herself shiver from the fear clutching at her throat, 'What is this feeling!?'

Three slow knocks echoed through the room, coming from the front door. The tension evaporated, White Fang putting their weapons down and going back to what they'd been doing before. Olivia's gaze whipped around the room in confusion, 'What are you all doing!?" The door opened, and a red haired woman stepped through that Olivia didn't recognize. She recoiled when she saw the woman's eyes were staring straight at her, too. A smile crossed the woman's face.

"I take it you're the young spider faunus I've heard so much about?" the woman stepped through the door and closed it behind herself. Olivia flinched when it closed, 'Between me and the escape!'

The woman seemed to notice Olivia's blatant fear and slowed her approach, holding her hands up, "Calm down, little spider. There's no threat here. I take it you've never met another spider faunus before?" Olivia just shook her head timidly in response. The woman sighed, "Your sixth sense is just warning you that there's a 'bigger' spider nearby," she smirked, "I promise I'm not going to gobble you up. I'm Widow, by the way."

Olivia tried to force herself to calm down. She could still feel her heart beating rapidly, but the tremors had stopped. She stood and tentatively held her hand out, waiting for a handshake. Widow grinned and took it slowly, letting Olivia get used to the contact as they shook hands. Her senses protested, screaming at her to let go, to run, to hide in the darkest corner she could find and wait for it to leave. Olivia grit her teeth and continued the contact. After ten seconds, she didn't feel like hiding. After fifteen, she didn't feel like running. And after thirty seconds, she finally let go, sighing with relief as her senses calmed down. Her heart no longer raced in some mad attempt to beat itself out of her chest.

"That was intense," Olivia choked out, still breathing hard.

Widow nodded, "Exposure therapy is the best way to get over it. The first time is the worst, especially if you've grown up so long without meeting another yet, but you'll always notice another spider faunus more distinctly than anyone else. Your senses recognize that someone else knows you're there the same way you do for them, and warns you as best it can."

Olivia shivered one last time and smiled, "Nice to meet you."

"And you as well," Widow smiled again, "I found Beryl's home. He's holed up pretty tight, but I think we can get a few key people in. Were you wanting to come along?"

"Yes," Olivia said immediately. Beryl had threatened her with slavery, and was now a threat to her very existence.

"Good! Also, do you mind putting those away?" Widow pointed above them both. Olivia gave her a look of confusion before she realized her appendages were all poised above, ready to strike down at Widow at a moment's notice. She let them retract in embarrassment, rubbing a hand against the back of her head.

A thought came to mind, "How did you know?"

Widow just gestured at her entire body with a smirk, "Spider faunus, remember? I can sense them just as well as you can."

"Oh, right," Olivia nodded in understanding. 'Obviously. Stop asking stupid questions.'

"You ready to get back to it?" Jace asked from behind her.

Olivia turned back to him with a weak smile, "Right now?" Jace grinned maliciously.

Widow watched from the sidelines as they got back to it. Jace taught her a new series of strikes that ended with a kick to the knee. It was designed to put someone on the defensive, make them put the weight on that knee, and then debilitate them with one clean strike to it that would break their leg. 'Now we're talking.' They'd just been doing body blows up until that point, but Olivia understood why. You couldn't break someone's leg like that until they were out of aura. Better to learn how to get them to that point in the first place. They began their drills again.

"You're learning hand to hand? Why? I could feel the power in that semblance of yours. Why use weaker attacks?" Widow asked from her place, leaning against the wall.

Olivia paused and cocked her head at Jace, "Mind if I show her?"

He grimaced, but lifted his hands back up, pads firmly held in place, "Alright. Just one set, though."

Olivia's semblance activated again, the appendages draping across her arms and legs in the way she had been practicing. Her elbows and shoulders each rested directly in one of the joints, the last bit of it curled down over the front of her fist. If Olivia wanted to, she could bend the last joint back up and use her appendage to stab whatever she was punching. The appendages also curled perfectly on to the back of Olivia's legs. The final tip of it buried into the ground right behind her heel. It turned out, with a day's worth of practice whenever she wasn't running drills with Jace, the feeling had come much more naturally. The contours of the extra legs had been mismatched before, with Olivia trying to keep the end behind her fist, instead of wrapped in front of it as it was now.

Widow's eyes widened, and she nodded in approval with a smirk on her face, "Keeping it a secret, eh?"

Olivia waited for Jace to say he was ready, then launched into the set they had been practicing before with devastating strength and speed. Each blow earned her a wince from Jace, his hands struggled to keep up with the assault. She finished the set with a powerful kick, knocking him back a few steps even though he'd been braced for it. Jace pulled back immediately and waved his hands through the air, trying to shake them off, "No more! It's a good thing I have aura, otherwise you'd be snapping my wrists through the pads."

Widow clapped after the display, "Marvelous. You're making me jealous, little spider."

Olivia let her appendages retract and accepted the praise, turning back to her while Jace continued to shake his hands off, "What's your semblance?"

Two swords were pulled off the rack next to Widow as she lifted them up. She gave Olivia a smirk, then smacked them together roughly. Metal slamming against metal, and yet… silence, "My semblance allows me to cancel out noise within an area. Noise I make, noise things make, noise you make."

Olivia tried to whistle in appreciation and couldn't even hear her own breath coming out, "Okay, that's awesome." Her voice was finally audible after she stopped trying to whistle.

Widow bowed her head, also accepting the praise. She turned back to Jace, "Hey kid, when's Crim getting in?"

Jace finally gestured for Olivia to restart the sets they had been doing, this time without her semblance, and spoke as he blocked, "He left to get some more supplies. Pretty sure he expected you to be in today, so he's prepping for the mission."

"Speak of the devil," Widow muttered. Olivia paused in confusion and tried to sense Crim. It took another ten seconds before she could feel him approaching the front door.

"How'd you sense him from so far away?" Olivia turned back to Widow as she asked.

"Your sense will get stronger as you get older. More accurate, too. Another reason why it's more difficult to meet other spider faunus later in life. Your sense for them gets stronger, but you haven't been exposed yet," She waved her hand towards the front of the building, "I paused at the door when I first got here because I could feel everyone pointing their guns at me. You'll also be able to tell who's a faunus and who isn't, no matter how visible their 'parts' are, among other things. I could fight with my eyes closed if I wanted to."

Olivia brightened at the news. By no means was she unhappy about her sixth sense, but the fact that it would get even better in time? 'Fantastic.'

The door finally opened as Crim stepped in, holding a large wooden crate under his other arm. He spotted their little group and smiled as he headed over to them, "Alright, first thing's first," he set the crate down and popped the top, pulling out a bagged uniform and tossing it to Olivia, "Go see if that fits."

Olivia quickly obliged. She came back down a few minutes later, making some final adjustments as she did. Olivia stood in front of them and did a slow turn. Black short sleeve shirt, black pants with a white vest fitted snug to her by a black belt around her midsection. Her hands were covered by fingerless gloves that reached all the way up her forearm, just far enough to cover her black veins. A pair of steel bracers around her forearms as well, helping to hold the gloves in place. Finally, soft toed boots with steel shin plates. To top it all off, the mask. It was larger than the rest, actually covering her entire face including her mouth.

Widow put her fingers together and wolf-whistled.

"I'm twelve."

"Just showing my appreciation. Get your mind out of the gutter, little spider," Widow smirked.

"It suits you. I should know, I had to order it specifically for you. We didn't already have outfits that would fit a kid," Crim shrugged, "Glad it turned out so well."

Jace sighed and shook his head, "I'm just plain jealous."

Olivia rolled her shoulders. Her arms and legs still felt free, like they did when she wore her hoodie, but the additional weight on her arms and legs was a little off putting, "Let's keep going. I need to get used to wearing it when I fight."

Jace nodded, and they continued their training session.

 


 

Olivia crouched down behind the car in the driveway as her senses told her the guard was about to round the corner. She positioned herself against it, low and quiet, and stepped around the edge. She kept the bulk of the car between the two of them.

'Take him out when his back is turned. Widow will make it quiet,' Crim's thoughts whispered through her mind. She nodded. He was behind her with Widow, the two keeping watch as she made her approach. Olivia rounded the back of the car, right as the guard walked past it. He was wide open, exposed and completely unaware that she was there. She unleashed her semblance and poised them to strike, doubt suddenly creeping into the forefront of her mind, 'Am I going to kill him?'

Realizing she was waiting too long, Olivia decided to just knock him unconscious. With one horizontal swipe of an appendage, his head was knocked to the side. He slumped silently to the ground, courtesy of Widow's semblance. Olivia grabbed him under his armpits and dragged him back to the others, making sure to stay low in case someone peeked out a window.

'What are you doing?' Crim's voice whispered through her mind as she pulled the unconscious man next to them. Olivia mimed throwing his body into one of the nearby bushes, and when Crim just continued giving her a confused look she decided to just do it. She picked his body up with her appendages, drifted him over top of a nearby bush, and dropped him.

Crim shook his head, 'I mean why didn't you kill him?'

Olivia paused in thought, she had no idea how to gesture in a way that meant 'because I don't have anything against him personally' so she just whispered it instead.

Crim sighed and shared a look with Widow, 'You don't need to have a personal vendetta to end someone's life. You need to be more pragmatic. What if he wakes up while we're still in the middle of our mission?' Crim stood and walked to stand over the man, pulling his sword out as he did, 'Should we take the time to tie up every guard we knock out? Then they'll have time to notice he's missing. There's a very simple solution.' Crim punctuated his next words by stabbing down into the unconscious guard's chest, 'Remove the variables.'

Olivia staggered back at just how callously he had murdered the man, whispering fiercely, "That's… How can you be so calm about it!?"

'I've had many allies, comrades, and friends die because someone wasn't willing to do what needed to be done to keep them alive. That's why I refused to let Jace become a member of the White Fang. I love the kid, but he has a bleeding heart. He can't do what's necessary," Crim looked Olivia up and down, 'Can you?'

'Could I…?' Olivia had to ask herself. She had killed three people so far in her life, two in self-defense, one because she really wanted to, and almost a fourth if Jace hadn't talked her out of it. 'Leaving that brute alive was a risk, no matter what Jace says.' Olivia looked at the guard that had died before he could even realize it. 'If we left him alive… He really could have given us all away. Then we would have been inside, surrounded. Outmanned and outgunned, in unfamiliar territory. They certainly wouldn't hesitate to kill us…'

"I can," Olivia confirmed. There was no tremble in her voice, nor flicker of her eyes that might show her as lacking resolve. She paused, though, a thought coming to mind, "Don't tell Jace. He'll stop training me if he finds out about this." The other two nodded their acceptance.

'Well then, let us continue,' Crim returned to his place along the wall, 'By Widow's count, there are ten guards stationed on the grounds at any one point in time. With that one gone, that makes nine left. They tend to sweep back and forth through the house, trading places as they go, so another should be on his way soon. We need to close the distance to where he should be coming from, and get him before he gets suspicious. Sound good?'

When they had both nodded, Crim snuck out from behind the wall up to the car Olivia had been at before and waved for them to follow. The side of the building they were on had an open car port of sorts. There were four different vehicles, three parked inside, and the one they now hid behind that had been left out in the driveway. From their position, they could either go into the garage and try to pick the lock on the door, or they could go along the right side of the garage towards the front door.

It was the front door they now hurried towards. They leaned back against the wall to the left of it, hidden from the light of the open windows above. 'Keep waiting,' Crim commanded. Olivia was starting to get worried, but complied nonetheless. After another thirty seconds she felt a presence approach. The door swung open, another guard stepping out. From their position, the door was between them and the guard until he had closed it. Widow quickly vaulted on to the steps next to him as they came within sight. The man's eyes widened, lips opening to scream for help. No sound came, and a moment later Widow's knife was protruding from his chest.

She wiped the blood from her knife onto his coat then let him fall backwards off the other side of the front steps, into the shadows of the wall opposite them. Olivia and Crim hopped up onto the steps as well. Widow slowly cracked it open, eyes peering inside closely. Olivia's senses were telling her no one was close by, and it seemed like Widow agreed. She led them into a large open area. There was a set of stairs off to the right that curled up along the wall to the floor above. It was there that they went, ascending silently towards their true goal.

They arrived at the top and Widow placed a hand on either of their shoulders. Olivia waited, just around the corner to the hallway they needed to go down. She felt the man's presence soon after, heading down the hall in their direction to come downstairs. Crim pushed her forward, 'Now's your chance. If you fail here, at least we can make a break for it. Do or die.'

Olivia didn't think he would literally kill her. It was just an expression, after all, but even still she mentally prepared herself, 'If you don't do this, then they'll hunt us down. Hunt me down. Especially after we've already killed two of his guards!' Olivia poised her appendages, ready to strike. A guard stepped around the corner. His eyes went wide as he caught sight of the three of them. His hand dropped to his side, reaching for his gun...

Olivia speared him through the chest and dragged him back from the front of the hallway.

Body dealt with for the moment, Widow once again took the lead and headed into the hallway. It was long, but as they made their way down it, Olivia was glad to notice the lack of guards in the upstairs area. They were in the clear, just the Council member left to take care of and they would be home free.

Their progress slowed, and after a dozen more feet, Olivia realized why. There were five people in the room ahead, not one. 'Does he have guests over? Maybe that fourth car in the driveway wasn't his…' Widow seemed to be having the same idea. She turned back to Crim and held up five fingers, spread out so that he wouldn't think she was just telling him to wait there. They shared a nod and continued forward, eventually standing directly outside the door.

'Widow and I will each take two. You run in immediately after we do and single out Beryl. He's your kill. Once they're all dead, we'll go out the way we came. We have to do this quick, there's no telling when someone might find that guard on the stairs.'

Olivia nodded quietly and stepped back, waiting for them to make the first move. It seemed like a few more words passed between Crim and Widow. They each gave her one last look, and flung the door open. Widow entered first, soundlessly. The men inside were playing poker. They began to silently shout, standing up from the table and reaching for weapons.

Crim and Widow closed the gap in a flash and were on them. Two were dropped instantly. They didn't have enough time to defend themselves. Olivia followed suit, her eyes locked on to the fat man on the opposite side of the table from her. Beryl saw her making her quick approach and stumbled up on to his feet before throwing the table up, trying to put a barrier between himself and Olivia.

Olivia brought down one of her appendages and used it to vault herself high through the air. She twisted midair, feet turning into the fall so that she stopped behind the man, only a few feet away. Beryl spun in place, scream on his lips but with no sound escaping, as Olivia drove all four of her appendages through him at once. His body went limp instantly as he was lifted off the floor, arms swaying to the side, and head dropped to his chest. 'I'm almost sad I didn't get to hear him scream.'

The other two 'fights' were over mere moments later.

'Well done. I'm proud of you,' Crim smiled at her as they began to leave. Widow raised both her hands up, and gave her a silent double high five as she whispered, "Good job, little spider." Olivia's face glowed under their praise.

'That was easier than I thought it would be…'

Who knows? Maybe she could get used to this whole killing people thing.