RWBY Book 2: Echoes - Bird Watching | Penana

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RWBY Book 2: Echoes
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Writer Polydragons
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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RWBY Book 2: Echoes
A - A - A
Bird Watching
Feb 27, 2016
16 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!F4VCswdsFzzeCP7U3hDaposted on PENANA

Three days ago Alice had woken up to a picture sent to her by Yang on her scroll. Given the fear Blake had shown at the thought of Yang knowing she was being spied on, Alice had expected it to be a complete debacle when it happened. Well regardless of what her boss may have thought of the possibility, Alice thought the brawler had done an excellent job for something outside of her skill set.109Please respect copyright.PENANApu4L88ZiNb
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After the first day of her wing's research she had known this guy was either very new or very good, and very good wasn't likely. If he had been good enough to go completely unnoticed by law enforcement he wouldn't have been caught by Yang.copyright protection105PENANArr7n3zTh2z

No matter how good you become, you start as a beginner. At that level you will get caught. Hawk, who was marked as among the best in the game had been caught three times, the first time for a simple pick pocket. The only way you wouldn't be found is if someone had gone back to remove those tracks from public records. As Alice could say from experience, that took a lot of money. More than it was worth normally unless your family had a name to protect, like hers did.copyright protection105PENANAQBOsrVnud0

No, this guy was new. He didn't have any records in any of the law enforcement databases she had her fingers in. After five years of working at getting access, she had almost all of them now.copyright protection105PENANAEwonbtvCpi

What disturbed Alice the most was he didn't show in Vacuo's police records. The first day that might have made sense. On the second day however he should have been in for the current breaking and entering charge if for no other reason. It had been possible he might have escaped before getting brought to the station and thus avoided getting put into the system, but not likely. And if that had been the case he had to have been scared off by Yang because he hadn't returned.copyright protection105PENANAFRJMeMl84o

Today she knew who he was. Of all things the information had been from Vacuo's food services. His mother, Wanda Green, had applied for a food stipend based on financial hardship when Jacob was still an infant. He had stayed on that account until he was too old to qualify as her dependent three years ago. After that he dropped off the face of the planet.copyright protection105PENANAHU0wnrrKWE

Alice had wondered if he might have been snatched up by one of the many other spy networks out there. It made sense. He had been a model citizen up until he disappeared, which is why it was so hard to find anything about him beyond the basics. The only solid piece of information was he had been broke. Broke people did what it took to survive. They did even more for those they loved. After he disappeared his homeless mother had found herself an untraceable source of money and was now living among Vacuo's middle class.copyright protection105PENANALBb9YmCuZ1

If that's what happened I may be forced to respect him, Alice thought.109Please respect copyright.PENANA5QxJ1ymdIG
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Considering the lack of education he had up until that point and the skill he showed when stalking Yang it had to have been good training. Hmmmm....  Are there any organizations that would train spies like that? I don't think so. Not of this quality at least. So odds are it's something private. That smacks of corporate money then.copyright protection105PENANAaWhasFCUpy

Alice didn't like that thought. Not at all. Phoenix was earning a lot of enemies in the corporate sector. Whicker Mining was only the latest entrant. She would need to dig up what information she could on the major players and see who would qualify to go at them in such a subtle manner.copyright protection105PENANAza9Kj87VD6

She hadn't created as much of an information web in the corporate sector as she had with the rest of the world. Blake wanted to avoid any form of corporate sabotage, or to do anything that could be traced back to them and made to look like attempted sabotage. While that made sense, it also had limited her.copyright protection105PENANAXqKQWbXfXc

She could get a better lay of the land through Daniel and Weiss. This was more on their side of the playing field, and she would be talking to them. The trouble was they were preoccupied with the coming conflict with Whicker. I'll talk to Sasha, Daniel's second, Alice decided. That way I'm not splitting their attention when things are so intense over there right now. copyright protection105PENANAC89UiCzVxZ

Intense was a nice way to put it. Weiss was a scary woman when she decided she wanted to squash an opponent.copyright protection105PENANAt69DRtLYpp

Her parents were another good source of information. As much trouble as she'd caused them she hated to return to them and ask for help, but then again they already were in Phoenix's back pocket by their own choice. They were staying out of Alice's sight while doing it, or trying to, but the influx of money four years ago was hard to miss.copyright protection105PENANA4nPPdL0a0Y

I think Blake will be happy not to have to hide that chair in her private office anymore, she thought with amusement as she pulled out her scroll. Pushing the call button she waited for the answer. "Hey mom." As cool as she liked to play things Alice couldn't stop a tear from bubbling up at those two words. Two words which had gone unspoken for too long.copyright protection105PENANAnD6wxo97kG

Looking across the table Alice had trouble meeting her father's eyes. She felt no shame for the life she had chosen. It was more suited to her personality. While at first it had been for selfish reasons it had led her to Phoenix, perhaps the most influential movement on the planet for faunus rights. Arguably more important than sympathetic corporations like the Whitmore conglomerate that her father ran.copyright protection105PENANA6OMgrDJdC8

Jonathan had never said a bad word about her choices that she was aware of. It was possible that he didn't hold it against her regardless of the difficulty her life had caused him and the emotional pain. That was what bothered her most: the pain. She loved her parents deeply. How could she look either in the eyes knowing she had willingly gone against everything they stood for?copyright protection105PENANACGvrwJdxUe

Despite that he was looking at her with an embarrassing amount of pride in his eyes right now. Her mother was holding his hand and looking with an equal amount of joy at being so close to their daughter again. Coco, a friend of the family, had been very clear that they had only praised her to their friends and spoken only of their regret that they were not closer. That only seemed to add to her guilt.109Please respect copyright.PENANAtDRdQbfcxT
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The charade had ended on their involvement with Phoenix. She wanted... She wasn't sure what she wanted. Did she want to get to business and end this meeting quickly and escape the uncomfortable feeling in her chest? Or did she want to reminisce with them about the past and catch up with what has happened since they parted ways?109Please respect copyright.PENANArWnwIwEIPs
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No, what she wanted to do was beg for their forgiveness. She knew that. She felt no shame for doing what she had done, but she still wanted their blessing. She was twenty-six years old and still trapped as the sixteen year old who had run away from home a decade earlier.109Please respect copyright.PENANATUiqDjZ0xI
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Clearing her throat, Blake broke the silence. "You said you have some information for us Jonathan?" She asked gently, leaning into the chair newly relocated to the meeting room given to her by him. It looked overly opulent for her Alice thought.copyright protection105PENANAjUcbw0AwX7

Forced to take his eyes off Alice, her father nodded at her boss. "Alice..." He looked nervous for a second as he glanced back to his daughter. "Ms. Greychild asked if we had any information on corporate spies we could part with you."copyright protection105PENANAQALZ0Fz3im

Greychild. A surname she had taken as an ironic joke, being the black sheep in the family. That might have been what hurt her parents the most. She hadn't thought of it that way at the time, but it must have felt like a complete rejection of them when Alice had made that change.copyright protection105PENANAJ4M5lFYmKn

Appearing unaware of her thoughts he continued, "We have a greater network in that area than you do. I understand you want to avoid the possibility of it being used against you, but ours is well established and predates Phoenix's existence. If our operatives are caught there would be a minimal backlash on you so it makes sense to use them."copyright protection105PENANAh4iufOuQks

Blake nodded her understanding and waited. "Every major company has a black ops department for the same reasons Phoenix does, and all of the major players are generally aware of what the other companies are up to because of that. Generally. If we aren't specifically looking for something a company may be able to hide something. I think we may have found one thanks to Ms Grey-"copyright protection105PENANAXb2Ja3oJ7G

"Alice," their daughter interrupted, unable to hear the false name uttered from his lips again.copyright protection105PENANA6QKTV6yTti

"Alice," he repeated. Did her tough-as-nails father just choke up a little bit? "She got us to look for secret training facilities. They exist of course, but we found one that is a secret even from their own company. If we hadn't hunted down references to 'Jacob Green' we would never have found it."copyright protection105PENANAhKmAeCoJsJ

A confused look crossed Blake's face. "What do you mean it was a secret from its own company?"copyright protection105PENANAbpVe95ixPp

"That gets complicated, but let’s say that even its own board of directors and CEO didn't know it existed, nor its own internal spy network. The only connection is the money being funneled into it and the personnel roster. We followed the money trail back to its source: Winter Schnee."copyright protection105PENANAeVfYOb5n5y

That didn't alleviate Blake’s confusion. "Weiss's sister?"copyright protection105PENANAFmj2WyElh6

"It's a small division. It had to be to stay under the radar, and it started three years ago from what we can tell. Five operatives were being trained. Their training ended last year."copyright protection105PENANA4twZIF50dU

"This Jacob was one of them obviously, and given that he was attached to Yang she's after Phoenix with them..." Blake’s face was bunched up in thought, trying to work through the possibilities. She looked over at Alice. "Do you think we should bring Weiss in on this? She understands how her sister thinks."copyright protection105PENANAprQFqFQv2V

Alice shrugged. "You know her better than I do. Setting siblings against each other can be dicey and rarely pretty."copyright protection105PENANA3HimKeUpAc

"Winter set herself against Weiss if she's after Phoenix and Winter knows it. I'm not sure it's wise to oblige her though," Blake said doubtfully.copyright protection105PENANAvEF2EoIKoV

Alice's mom, Scarlett, answered, "I wouldn't," she started. She was speaking to blake, but her gaze was directly at Alice. "Whether it’s Winter's choice or not doesn't matter. Helping her set them at odds will only hurt your friend."copyright protection105PENANAFOmvtMakic

That need to beg for forgiveness went up three fold in Alice. Leave it to a mother to know exactly how to apply guilt.copyright protection105PENANAflUyIFNC4n

"I'll ask Ruby's opinion," Blake decided. "Do we know the names of the other four operatives?"copyright protection105PENANAOA1uCGSkqh

Jonathan shook his head. "Only three of them, one in each kingdom. The last is a mystery. I'm thinking she is sickly. She's been in and out of the hospital regularly since she started. We can't find out why for sure though."copyright protection105PENANAg55DBypLSI

Alice doubted this mystery woman was sickly. It would be a waste of training on anyone that infirm, which only deepened the mystery of her existence.copyright protection105PENANAY83TGLytoC

"What about Hawk? Is he mixed in with this?" Blake asked.copyright protection105PENANAQdcSIPzA90

Her father let out his first laugh. Just as she remembered it was filled with good humor and warmth. "That's the one thing I can say for sure. He's not involved. He's been playing the game since before Winter was born and while I can't say for sure who he works for, I can say it isn't for any of the corporate powers out there. We've been looking."copyright protection105PENANASp5X2Hvsso

Alice had avoided speaking with her parents since her first call, so this was news to her as well. Two spies dog fighting out there over Yang, one of their bosses was still an unknown and both of their motives were a mystery.copyright protection105PENANAbrxekd0THo

The plan had been going on for four years on Winter's side however. That was before Phoenix's rise to a level of power that corporations would take notice. Was it personal then? If that was the case Phoenix might not be the final target after all. That no one in the company knew about it, including her own father apparently, was the most disturbing part.copyright protection105PENANAwyBJrky0UI

This was getting complicated. Alice was starting to get the itch to pick a pocket or two in the relatively freeing environment of the anonymous dark alley. It was a simple life back then with no sense of responsibility.copyright protection105PENANA0M86KbNfEg

I ran from responsibility back then. I guess I have grown up some. copyright protection105PENANAEPHb42p4W7

A small smile was trying to play with the corners of her lips as Blake headed towards her office. Alice had been a bundle of nerves and conflicted emotions, but she had also been happy under it all. Blake was glad that Alice had asked for the help her parents would freely give, but what she had most enjoyed most was watching that family bond be reforged.copyright protection105PENANAtsF5c6pK7k

It even beat out getting that chair out of her office finally.copyright protection105PENANAt76BeQN16r

That enjoyment hadn't washed clean the unease of what the Whitmore's had to say. She had known Phoenix was going to call many enemies upon it. She had known that the Schnee Dust company would be one of the largest. She hadn't expected for it to be Winter leading the charge and going about it in a way that would almost inevitably involve Weiss.copyright protection105PENANAiLhZXl2mpZ

She wished she could spare Weiss the heartache this fight would cause. Was it cowardly to turn to Ruby first, and to fervently hope her friend had a good reason to avoid bringing it to Weiss? Her heart ached at the thought. It had been four years since their wedding, and four years since Weiss had any interaction with her sister. It was long enough to accept their relationship would likely never be repaired, but at least it wasn't outright war.copyright protection105PENANAtTr9YEgnon

Maybe it won't come to that. At least Blake hoped it wouldn't.copyright protection105PENANAHSvOuJFhLM

Up ahead Thompson was leaning against a wall with his arms crossed, eyes following her as she approached. "Want some company?" he asked casually once she was within easy earshot. His eyes had already searched her face. What he got from that search was questionable. Her expression still lacked a large display of emotions, but he was getting better at seeing the subtle signs it did show.copyright protection105PENANAJ3x03um6RM

With an indifferent shrug she said "I wouldn't mind." That was neither the truth nor a lie. She was conflicted because her next move was to make that call to Ruby. She wanted the reassuring presence he would represent, but she also wanted to keep it private.copyright protection105PENANA5lFxuDbL1A

Her defense chief must have read her right. "Well, maybe as far as my office. It's on the way to yours." That was the best option from her point of view. She would get some of the comfort but still have the privacy when talking to one of her oldest friends.copyright protection105PENANA8IsExWnce9

He stayed quiet at first, remaining just a comforting presence at her side. She hoped it wasn't clear to anyone who passed by them how bad she wanted to lean into him. She remembered watching Jaune and Pyrrha walking side by side. Even when they weren't paying attention to each other their connection was unmistakable.copyright protection105PENANAYYcwYg1lmS

Did she have that kind of bond with Thompson? Did she want that kind of closeness? Most importantly, could she... could Phoenix afford that kind of intimacy among its leaders?copyright protection105PENANA7rdMYIqats

"I take it it was a disturbing meeting," her man... her friend said, interrupting her thoughts. "You seem happy, but I figure that's only to be expected now that Alice is finally talking to her folks. That means whatever else was talked about was decidedly unhappy for you not to have a smile everyone else would recognize."copyright protection105PENANAKCacgI9EUo

Blake nodded slowly. "The SDC just became a major factor. You should talk to Alice after they're done in there. I think we might want to tighten security internally, at least for the time being."copyright protection105PENANANTm0qlhrGD

"Easy enough to do." Blake realized she was more distracted than she thought when she felt herself get pulled Thompson's into his office; the action knocking her off balance for a second. Had they walked that far already? Feeling his arms wrap around her she tensed up for a second. Could she afford this? "Ssssh," he whispered into her ear. "Just relax for a minute before you go do whatever you have to do that's putting your stomach in a knot."copyright protection105PENANAkO5xB4g1eK

Involuntarily she tensed up even more at the realization of just how easily he was reading her. It shouldn't have been a surprise. They've known each other for five years now. She was prone to leaning on him more than she liked in times like these. He would know the signs.copyright protection105PENANAtYmEbDmkhh

Can I afford this? she asked herself again. She'd asked it many times in those years, normally without consciously acknowledging that she'd asked it.copyright protection105PENANAI5b56Bqn27

Of course he spotted her unspoken need and answered it as he came in for a kiss. Those kisses she loved so much. I can't afford this, she decided, but as that became clear her ability to care if she could or couldn't disappeared. Leaning into the embrace she accepted it and all that it could afford and cost her.copyright protection105PENANA0mV6Uwabxo

Ruby can wait for a few minutes, she thought, as she hooked the office door with her toes to swing it closed to the outside world.copyright protection105PENANAV1mhGxU3Sc

Steven tried not to laugh at the absurdity of the news report. It wasn't seemly.copyright protection105PENANAlBhwGn77La

"Sources confirm that the beloved philanthropist had been fighting cancer for over a year," the anchorman was continuing, "when he finally succumbed to the frightening illness last night." Over a year hmmm? Well, that was when he stopped being as visible to the world, so that was a logical conclusion for when his "sickness" had started.copyright protection105PENANAeLx9SrF2Cd

That he had died last night however... That was either poor reporting or excellent fact manipulation. Give her another twenty years and she may be playing on my level in fact, he reflected, accepting that it had been the latter.copyright protection105PENANAqyeNPVlKZd

"Councilman Ferris, your three o'clock is here," his secretary announced from the door.copyright protection105PENANAWkOeQvBYCm

Turning off the vid screen he nodded his understanding. "Thank you Dorris. Have him come in."copyright protection105PENANA9Q8G018F3K

Waiting for his chief operative to come in to give his report, the aged councilman wondered if her coming out now was a result of his message to her, or if there was another factor. If she was playing the deep game he expected it was likely both.copyright protection105PENANASui7h83CS2

Coughing out a fit of blood Jake limped his way down the street, sticking to the shadows and leaving as little evidence of his passing that he could, but the blood trail was unavoidable. He'd bandaged himself up as well as possible. None of his wounds should leave enough of a trace, but the internal injury that had caused that hacking was persistent.copyright protection105PENANAPPmE3daFcM

He couldn't go to the hospital, but if he didn't he was likely to die. There were too many ears in a hospital however. He'd be found. The safe house his former employer had set up for him wasn't an option anymore either.copyright protection105PENANA2lDb1Dc9jf

So that left only one place he could head. His only possible ally.copyright protection105PENANAUbKdj1mmEf

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