Blake was getting itchy. After the shopping trip she hadn't done anything to get White Fang back together and under her banner. She had hoped to get Weiss's help, but she was so fixated on Ruby and her nightmares since they started three days ago that that wasn't going to happen. Weiss could hardly hold a coherent conversation let alone think out complicated plans.659Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡrjTMdyvDyd
She felt completely out of her depth, but figured any motion was better than no motion at all. Weiss had given her a lot of tips on how to manage crowds from her own training as the future CEO of Schnee Dust Company. It must have hurt her to go back to those memories, but she'd been determined to help Blake. Grouchy, but determined.
That Saturday Blake started by putting on her "work clothes." She hated to admit it, but she was actually starting to like the look, especially the hair. She was seen wearing the jacket, belt, boots and fingerless gloves almost daily. It gave her a small thrill because she knew it had a slight intimidation factor. She wasn't going for intimidation tonight though, so she put on the rest of the clothes that went with it. She looked into the mirror and turned this way and that to be sure everything was in the right place. It was easier to put on than her bodice had been, but it was still new enough that she wanted to be sure. The fact the silk shirt rubbed against her skin in new ways had nothing to do with it.
"You sure you don't want back-up?" Yang asked a bit anxiously eying the clothes her next battle would be Blake's last from the restricted movement.
"I'm sure," she said as she put Gambol Shroud where it belonged on her back. "Besides, it's your turn to watch Ruby."
Finished getting ready, Yang let out a long whistle. "Gotta admit, Weiss knows her fashion. You look good girl."
"I look like a cross dresser," Blake griped
Yang chuckled. "Not with your curves. You are definitely all woman. Hope you don't get in a fight though. You'd bust all the seams that thing has."
"No, it's quite comfortable actually. Weiss made sure that I only got clothes I could move in." Yang made a face that clearly said 'yeah right.' Blake ignored it. "Wish me luck."
"All I can and then some."
Making her way through town Blake headed directly to the warehouse she'd found the last group. They would be the best start of the five groups she hoped to get to today. They gave her the most hope for the future of their cause. Last time she had entered quietly, making her way to the back inconspicuously. She'd gone unnoticed for who she was, and that's what she had wanted then.
This time she wanted a bit more theatrics. She intended to be noticed. It's hard to not be when you walk directly to the faunus standing in the center. He was doing his best to lead the discussion, and failing. A natural introvert, being put in the center of attention was taxing on her, but it wasn't impossible. She'd need to read a book in a corner after this she knew, to recharge her emotional batteries. For everyone watching her enter they would have never known. She looked cool, confident, and in control of everything she wanted to be. Weiss had schooled her in this act for several days until she was proclaimed 'adequate.'
The room had been rowdy before she showed herself, arguing about what to do next. They were more desperate this time, each trying to get an idea, any idea, which might work. As she walked forward and more people noticed her approach they grew silent. The ones that didn't recognize her got whispered to. By the time she reached the center everyone knew who she was.
This could go very badly from this point depending on if they thought of her as the cause of all their problems. The answer came from the moderator, who approached her. "We don't mean any harm. Please don't..," he started fearfully.
It was not the best start, but it wasn't the worst either. "Easy. I'm not here to cause problems. I'm here to help."
"Help?" he asked incredulously.
This was going to go better than she hoped she realized. "Yes, help. I have plans, and I need to bring the Fang back together to make it work. To make us equals in the eyes of the humans."
From about mid-way up a beer bottle flew towards her. She wasn't surprised by it and simply moved her head six inches to the side so it missed. "You killed Adam! You ruined us!" the attacker screamed, sounding shocked that not only was she foolish to show herself, but that the rest of the faunus hadn't risen to help him.
Blake had expected that also. If anything she was surprised not more had started throwing whatever they had at hand. Expecting it didn't ease the pain that it caused though. She'd tried to come to terms with that night. She thought she had several times over the years, but she hadn't. Not truly. He had been her first love. There was no getting past that, no matter that it had been necessary. That if she hadn't, he would have killed her instead. It was a wound that would scab over, but not heal. When picked at it would once again bleed. And right now, it bled. This wasn't a time for tears though.
Without a single sign of the inward turmoil ravaging her, Blake didn't deny the truth. There was no point. "Yes, I killed him, but I was not the cause of the White Fang's fall. He was. Remember the road he had taken us. Do you think that the united armies wouldn't have wiped out every last member? Now I'm here to finish the job I started. I will save the White Fang by bringing us back together."
Another Faunus yelled "Impossible. We've tried, and each time it falls apart."
"Unsurprising. I'd expect that to happen, actually. By the end Adam controlled every aspect of White Fang. When he died there was no one to take up the reins, and then some started claiming they had the right to succeed him. Worse were the ones who tried to take control by force. I'm guessing it was like a civil war, and the rifts it created are not going to go away."
She paused. Silence. Good, they were at least listening.
"If nothing changes, the White Fang is dead. My brothers and sisters will be lost to Human prejudice for another hundred years. You all know it's true, or you would not be here trying to find a path to success." How many times had she stood in front of the mirror preparing this speech? She was hoping it was time well spent right about now, because here came the point where she just might become the center of a riot. "What we need to resurrect the Fang is someone every cell would follow. I'm that person."
It went from dead silence to an uproar. Each person screamed their opinions, most of them negative. Words like 'usurper,' 'traitor,' and comparing her ancestry with things that could barely be considered animal. Weiss had told her to expect that, and what to do when it happened. She stood impassively, feet shoulder length apart, back strait, hands at her side, and looking strong yet non-confrontational. She let the crowd scream until they ran out of breath, energy, or anger to continue.
When she was again surrounded by silence she began again, still in reasonable tones. "Does anyone disagree with my logic that what is needed is a strong leader?" A bit of grumbling could be heard, mostly agreeing she was right on that point at least. "Who would you follow then? There is a group to the west. They have a strong leader named Thompson. Would you follow him?"
That got a reaction! Anger mostly, but some were frightened by the prospect. "He's a good man. He has the Faunus's best interests at heart. I have listened to him and his group in the same way I listened to you. With him there could be peace."
The yelling didn't slow down at this assessment by Blake, but she wasn't lying. If people would follow him, Thompson would make a good leader. She also knew that the bad blood between the two ran deep.
Once again Blake waited till they yelled themselves out."Okay, how about to the east. There's Glenn. He might not be as strong, but he's peaceful."
A yell sounded from about the same level as the bottle that had been thrown earlier. "He's a Wimp!" and everyone laughed. Blake shared that assessment as well, if not quite so crudely put.
One more name to make her point. "What about your own leader, Simon?" That was met with hushed silence. Simon was a good orator, which is how he'd gotten control here, but he wasn't a leader. He had no plan or direction, and no one's respect outside of this cell. Everyone knew that, even Simon, but no one wanted to say it and possibly insult him.
"I see. So then, who do you think could bring our brothers and sisters back together then?" she rounded back into her power play. "Yes, I could be seen as the source of all of your problems, but I can also be viewed as the savior. Either way I will be viewed and recognized. My skills will never be questions by any of you. Above all of that I am a fully trained Huntress; the very definition of a hero in everyone's eyes human or faunus. I will raise us up, and I will bring our message to the humans in a way that they will respect us, not dismiss us or fear us."
A heavy silence was met by her words filled with uncertainty. They had heard her out, and truly listened to her arguments without dismissing them with their anger. No point in pushing harder. Next was to bring them proof. "I do not ask that you decide now. I ask that you consider it and to see the validity of my claims when other cells contact you with my message. Decide then how strong my claim to leadership is." She let that set in for a second, and then started to leave with smooth military precision to her step. This started another out crying. Some asking questions hopefully, some screaming obscenities. Blake ignored them all as she reached the exit. They needed to talk it out amongst themselves. As long as she stayed they would be too afraid or too angry to do it honestly.
"What should we do?" an anxious voice asked, watching Blake leave the warehouse.
Calmly another voice replied from the shadows "We watch, and we wait."
"But is that wise?" the first voice said with true fear as Blake walked around a corner and out of sight.
"It is." Again it was said with calm, and now with a hint of steel.
Reaction had set in almost as soon as she left the warehouse. It took a half hour to calm her anxiety, and start to feel the least bit normal. That was also how long it took to get to her next destination.
The next cell held their meetings in a middle class suburban house. It looked perfectly normal among all the other houses, and the occupants looked human to the casual observer. They were among the small percentage of faunus who's animal attributes were not obvious unless they wanted them to be.
She hadn't gone in last time she had been here because there was no way to do so and stick to the shadows at the same time. She will be recognized when she comes in and there was no way to avoid it. Her mission tonight wasn't to gather intelligence though, it was to negotiate. She knocked on the door using the pattern that indicated she belonged. The door opened to the owner of the house. The open hatred he showed upon seeing her was the only warning as he screamed "Bitch," and tackled her.
Blake took the blow. Grabbing him from behind she kept his shoulder pinned to her gut as they went backwards. Hitting the ground, she used their momentum to roll. They ended with her looking down at him as she straddled his body. While he was stunned she delivered a palm strike that knocked him out.
A small part of her mind noted that her clothes were exactly as Weiss had promised in combat. She also saw that this faunus had claws. Bits of leather were now under them. If it hadn't been reinforced that would likely have been her skin instead. Another thing to thank Weiss for the next time she saw her. The list was getting to be quite long.
She didn't have much time for thought. Jumping to her feet she already had two attackers bearing down on her. Luckily for her not everyone recognized her as quickly and needed to be told who she was. Otherwise they would have come at her en masse and overwhelmed her. She could still fight her way free even in those odds, but not without risking deadly force. She wanted to avoid that if possible.
Using dust she had gotten from Weiss in conjunction with her semblance, she leaped back and left an ice copy of herself in her place. She timed it perfectly as both of her attackers found themselves stuck wrist deep in that sculpture.
The next four were now on her. She combined acrobatics with her semblance in a way that was almost second nature. "None of you are a match for me," she said between maneuvers. She was easily avoiding each attack and making it obvious. It was unlikely but she hoped it would make them realize they couldn't win and stop. "I don't want to hurt you. I just wish to talk." she reasoned to them.
"We don't want to hear you, traitor!" This one had just left the house. He wore a grimm mask. At the sight she knew this cell was a lost cause. The grimm mask had been introduced by Adam and was a symbol of open bloody rebellion against humanity. "Very well." With a heavy heart she back flipped out of combat, this time leaving a stone copy which several of her attackers either hit or ran into. She turned and walked away. One tried to stop her. He was left gasping for breath when her foot buried itself in his stomach. No one else tried to stop her after that.
When she was out of earshot she called Velvet, her point of contact, to tell her of this cell. She couldn't afford for them to disappear before the morning. The cute rabbit eared faunus would make sure the authorities would be at their door within fifteen minutes in riot gear. Given the damage Blake had done already they wouldn't be leaving before then.
She wanted her people to rise up, but letting the feral portion do it would just continue Adam's legacy. She couldn't allow that. Ozpin and Glynda understood that, which is why they had given their support. Velvet had volunteered. She reported to Glynda while Blake was in the field if something went badly, and to the police in situations like this.
She'd had a planned route to get to all five cells in a single night, assuming each time she approached a cell it went smoothly. The third one had been run by the one she identified as Glenn before. When she got there she was met by bodies. The bruising and unnatural positions told her it had been done by large blunt objects like baseball bats. On one wall there was graffiti in large letters. "All feral animals should be put down." Anger rose, intensified by frustration, and motivating her to push harder and faster. She concentrated her Aura around her fist to protect it and punched one of the brick walls. The feeling of the brick cracking under her fist was satisfying and helped balance her emotions.
Getting her scroll out, she called Velvet. "Bad news. Have the cops come to the third location, and have them bring the coroner and forensics." In hindsight she regretted punching the wall; contamination of a crime scene and all that. Velvet may be a bad-ass, but she was also a sensitive soul. The news upset her and Blake felt bad to have to give it.
As a murder scene Blake had to wait to give a statement which slowed her down. She only had time for one more cell after the delay. She chose Thompson's group. He was a hothead, which was part of why no other cell would follow him, but it was fueled by his passion. She hoped she could use that passion to draw him in.
This group met in a park in a dark area that only a Faunus's dark vision could see clearly. She walked up to them in the same way she had with Simon's, going directly to the leader. As with her previous approaches there was instant recognition by many, and those that didn't were told. Several of them rose from their sitting positions ready to attack. "You four, sit your asses down, now!" Thompson roared. He had a lion's mane with the canines to match. It was easy to see why he commanded such respect. The ones who had stood dropped back to their seats as quickly as they could.
"Blake Belladonna. What do we owe this pleasure?" he said with what looked to be a real smile.
There were two ways this could have gone, this was the one she had hoped for. "I want to talk. I'm trying to bring our brother's and sister's back together, to claim our right to equality."
One of his followers looked ready to say something to that. A glance from Thompson was all it took to silence him before he started. "How do you think you're going to get that to happen? We're not exactly getting along with each other right now. I tried. They seemed to think I was too aggressive."
"They thought you were a brute and a bully."
That got a grin. "That too."
Thompson was neither, Blake knew. Brash and temperamental, but not dumb enough to be called a brute, and no quality that made him a bully. He was, however, a man who wanted things to the point. If she could convince him, she'd have everyone else in this park without question. "I'm taking the reins and calling the shots. There isn't anyone else the Fang would all agree on. You're smarter than they think. You know it's true."
"So, the lost kitten who became Adam's lover, and killer, wants to run things?"
"I don't want to. I have to."
Tilting his head back Thompson let out a great laugh. "Okay."
She knew Thompson was straightforward, but she hadn't expected it to be that easy. "Okay?"
"You made the best argument I've heard. Worse case is you fail, in which case we'll just go back to how it's been until someone else can do the job."
That was hardly a resounding endorsement, but it was enough. "Okay. Contact Simon's group and let him know you're in. He's on the fence but if I can show him I got others ready to work with me I think his group will come in next."
"I would try Glenn next," he said helpfully.
Blake looked down at the ground sadly. "I went to him before you. They were all dead."
The lion aspects he showed were nothing to the lion's roar that tore through his throat in anger. "Who!"
She needed to stop him before he started. "Calm down. I don't know and going half cocked won't accomplish anything."
"It'll feel good," he growled659Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ1Vb1CXTnHw
"You just agreed to fallow my orders. So back down," she said with authority. Blake didn't give any more argument than that. If she argued the point he would lose respect of her as a leader, and she could not afford that. Not after just getting that position.
He followed the order. He was obviously still angry, but he relaxed. "Talk to Simon," she told him. "I will work on getting more of us, understood?"
"Yeah, I got it." No, he definitely wasn't happy. That passion would prove to be a double edged sword she realized.
Heading home she reflected. It had been a mix of failures and successes tonight. It was a start. Tomorrow she would be keeping watch over Ruby, and then there was the need to get enough sleep for classes the rest of the week. Her next reasonable chance was next weekend. It was slow progress, but it was progress none the less.
And none of it would mean anything if she didn't come up with a decent plan to get things done. A leader without a plan wasn't a leader at all.
She now had a whole new respect for Ruby as the feeling of responsibility wrapped itself around her shoulders, and they bowed under its weight.659Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEG62pfVjuUns 188.8.131.52da2