Well, this is more fun than clubbing, Yang thought with a trademark grin for the camera. The smile was convincing because it was the absolute truth as she ducked another swing of an ursa's wild attack. Too slow. I'm glad he brought a lot of friends!513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡuiIGmZb2oa
There was a reason she was in Vacuo besides running the club scene: her job. She got paid well by several parties. That included her show and the people paying her to kill a grimm infestation. Normally that was a kingdom but sometimes it was a private corporation. She unabashedly took them for all she could. The greed added to her image, it paid for the over-priced monstrosities she was living in in each kindom, and most importantly it helped Phoenix. Actually that last was the only important part.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡZJQMWyJgJg
This time the job was for her favorite customer: A small village trying to survive beyond Vacuo's borders. These villages were the ones most often needing the help of a Huntsman, lacking the protections and fortifications of the established kingdoms. Missions helping them was the reason she became a huntress to start with, and why she only charged them a handshake for her services.
This village was known as Lockhart, named after its founder Ellie Lockhart. Her daughter was apparently a fan of Yang's, having sent a fan mail to ask for help. It was very well written, getting the nod from the people Jeff hired to screen them to reach Jeff's desk, who in turn handed it to her personally. If that nine year old was any indiction her mother was brilliant. On first meeting Yang decided she'd underestimated her, and like Blake her cat ears were quite cute.
Lockhart was cut off from the rest of Vacuo both physically and financially. The ruling council of Vacuo had been clear at the time of the village's founding they could not and would not be able to assist them in such a dangerous and unnecessary venture.
Yang could appreciate the kingdom's stance. If they assisted every half baked attempt at colonizing the wilds they would be spread too thin. It meant even well intended and planned attempts couldn't be helped either. It would only encourage more to throw their lives away.
While she could appreciate the stance, she didn't agree. That's why this was so much fun. She loved giving a proverbial middle finger to bureaucrats who lost track of the value of human life. The only good part was she knew this wasn't another case of faunus prejudice since it was well established Vacuo did it to everyone.
This settlement had originally seemed ideal. Located within a valley, it had clean water, fertile ground at the eastern edge of the basin, and cliffs to act as natural walls on three sides against humanity's natural predator: grimm. For ten years it had been exactly that and had continued to attract more people to move and try their luck at a new beginning.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOQ7RVoGrsA
Then two months ago the east cliff face collapsed and a massive amount of grimm came in the new entrance. Not everyone survived the disaster, but those that did managed to find safe sanctuary back in Vacuo. Now they were trying to return to their homes and lives. To do that they needed to replace the natural wall of the cliff with a man made one, then reinforce the remaining two sides to prevent another such invasion.
And that's why she was here: to provide the security during construction.
It wasn't like Yang was going to do it all on her own. No matter how great a fighter you are you can be overwhelmed, and you couldn't stay vigilant during your sleep. She was just the figure head for the movement. Her face alone attracted more to come to the village's aid, including old friends of hers, like team SSSN who had reformed for this one mission to her great enjoyment.
A basic framework for the wall was going to take a week. Once that was done the village would be defensible from that breach with only a handful of huntsmen. At that point Yang would be taking her leave and returning to Vale, letting SSSN and company handle the remainder of the job. As much as Yang hated to leave a job half done she wouldn't be needed at that point and her staying would only get in the way because of the camera crews and production workers for Grimm Hunter.
Speaking of SSSN, Yang looked over her shoulder as her last opponent fell to shadowy dust to catch sight of Sun and Cassandra fighting. Those two really did look good together. Briefly she had contemplated reigniting her romance with Sun for the cameras. It would do good for the image. Not only would she be the slut cheating on Jerry again, she'd be the homewrecker of Sun's good relationship which had been stable. It might even work better of Sun rebuffed her attempts.
It couldn't be anything more than that of course, which was a shame. Even if Sun had changed and could accept her lifestyle, Cass was territorial. Even flirting with her old boyfriend would cause trouble. Though she still loved the man, especially because she loved him, she was going to keep her distance.
Neptune, on the other hand, was a welcome physical presence. His confidence was not feigned anymore, and it resonated with her beautifully. Unlike Sun his last girlfriend hadn't worked out. She didn't know why, and Yang didn't need to. She just knew he was available for a little extracurricular play time and emotionally stable enough to laugh off any cameras from obnoxious reporters.
His scars were actually very attractive now. It added a rough edge to his overly polished appearance. Seeing how they had allowed him to grow eased the guilt she had once felt about being their cause.
Jerry certainly approved of him, though how much of that was because he thought Neptune was cute was hard to say. That line of thinking always gave her a chuckle. There were certain advantages to having a bisexual mate. Jerry just had to keep it tucked inside his pants though because unlike him Neptune wasn't a switch-hitter.
It was still up in the air if her and Neptune were going to be able to be more than friends with benefits, but neither were concentrating on it either. It was just good to reconnect.
Reconnect... Anyone watching, and given the cameras that would be most of the planet, would have wondered why the star had burst into laughter in the middle of a fight for no apparent reason. Damn I have a dirty mind.
Life was boring for Jerry without Yang around, or at least that's what they wanted the paparazzi to think. No scandals were to be found except his latest heartbreak over his cheating girlfriend. It allowed for him to move around with only a couple of reporters to worry about at any point in time.
And right now Jerry was at home alone, theoretically, while Yang was out in the field. As alone as a reality star ever is at least. The show's cameras weren't with him, along with all of the production crew. He did have a couple of trusted security guards. Yang could get away without them, he couldn't. Given the recent break-in there was no chance she would risk him being unprotected against another stalker.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbkwNOU1s4B
Naturally Jeff was still there. While they were taking extra steps to be inconspicuous of their relationship, they weren't going to become celibate. They were laying in Jeff's bed that night, snuggling and watching a bad movie based on a love triangle. Jerry found them hilarious, though he was fairly sure Jeff was tired of them, but he was humoring his boyfriend that night however.
A knock at their bedroom door proceeded one of their guard's voices. "Sir, there's been an attempted break-in from the south entrance. He's been subdued, but..." Harold's voice grew unusually confused. "Well, I think it would be best if you saw this."
"Okay, give me a second to get dressed," Jerry responded. Yawning he paused the vid and started to get dressed, enjoying the feel of his lover's eyes on his body. "Coming with me?" he asked casually.
"That wouldn't be a good idea," Jeff responded. "We don't know who's waiting for you out there. If word gets out that Yang's manager was alone in the same house as her boyfriend people might make the right connection."
"Yeah, I thought so too, but I had to ask." Jerry hated Machiavellian plots. There was too much to keep track of and too many places a small crack could cause the entire structure to crumble. The guards alone was too much of a risk. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Leaving their room he nodded at Harold to lead the way. "He refused medical evac sir," his guard said, his voice sounding stiff from strain.
That was an odd statement, and that vocal strain was only making it weirder. "Two questions: What did you guys do that required a medical evac, and why didn't you send him regardless of his objections? Yang can get away with a lot, but it'll be your careers on the line if you don't give a prisoner proper care."
"He was injured when he got here," the guard said automatically, "And he seemed terrified at the possibility. Since his injuries aren't life threatening we didn't think it was unreasonable to let you know and get your final decision."
Pass the buck up the chain of command in other words. Jerry couldn't blame him. He just wished that the chain of command went higher then him right now. "How injured?"
"That's why we took his fear of going to the hospital seriously. This man was tortured." The tone of voice made it clear that Harold meant the literal definition of torture. "But he's refusing pain medications as well. He said he wanted to remain coherent before he spoke with you."
"Then lets hurry up!" he prompted, moving from a walk into a run.
In reality Jake didn't know much. Maybe that's why his torturer hadn't asked anything. He knew that he'd been part of a very small organization, only employing four spies all of whom were hired and trained on the same day. He knew each had a handler, and it was their handlers that reported to his boss and were the only ones who actually knew what was going on. Well, they knew more than he did at least.
Obviously this man knew all of that however. When he was done imprinting his message on Jake's flesh the other spy had dropped him at the normal meeting spot for his handler, Charlotte, and sent the coded message to her indicating he had information.
That was actually true, if you decided his body was the information. Through the pain Jake had done everything he could to remember the details of his torment. Not just the man's face, but also the sights and sounds around him that could indicate where he had been. He'd looked for any signs of other people who could be helping. He would have cataloged every question asked of him had there been any.
The only information he had was that he had been compromised. If it had just been Yang it could have been written that he'd just been an overzealous reporter. He even had reporter credentials and a news outlet that was paid off to vouch for him.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡi3CuAvqWD1
He wasn't sure what him being caught meant for his employment, but he wasn't hopeful. Well, after this he had lost his taste for the game anyways. Like many kids watching spy movies and fantasized about being one. He'd seen the corny love stories and he'd seen where once the spy lost its usefulness he was was dead. He hoped for the former and discounted that latter. What was the point of keeping him in the dark? He had nothing he could turn traitor with.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjcZkfYvn7O
Charlotte had one weakness, and one that he'd been sure she didn't know about. He could read her. When she showed up at the meeting and saw him he knew those weren't stories. When she proposed to bring him to a safe-house to get treated he knew he would never leave it again.
As wounded as he was it didn't take much to yank down on her steering wheel while simultaneously unhooking her seat belt. It was a calculated risk. As injured as he was the impact, even with his seat belt, could have killed him as well. An eighty percent chance of dying is better than one-hundred however.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡtrI4CcpW4a
Two (more) cracked ribs was an acceptable trade to his presumed executioner's caved in head. Unfortunately making the car undrivable was also part of that trade.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡcevp4p7Z9i
How did life turn out this way? That's the question a person's supposed to ask when they reached a low point like this, wasn't it? Jake couldn't. His life had come to this because of his choices and he accepted that without flinching. His choices had brought joy to the only person he cared about, his mom. Without him she may never have survived her early years of grief when dad died. Without him she would still be out on the streets begging with the faunus and the transient instead of living comfortably in Brookside Terrace.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡBYMAvbvvu4
His choices may make this his last night, but they were all choices he would make again for her. He just regretted that she would be on the streets tonight having received his code to go into hiding. Better the streets than dead at the hands of a hitman. She knew the streets. She would live. If he lived he hoped he could help her back to an easier way of living.
Yang's house was an unpredictable place to run, or he hoped it would be. Looking for asylum from the ones you were sent to sabotage was risky and something most wouldn't do in his current situation. He didn't have any information to barter for their good will. All he presented was a possible liability.
For all that Yang was a slutty bitch, she was also a good person. He hoped that would be enough if she got the thumbs up from Jerry. He hoped Jerry would accept his story enough to give that thumbs up.
He had done his research on Yang before starting to shadow her. He knew as much as anyone could which included RWBY. With that information it didn't take much to guess she was helping Phoenix, even if there was no proven paper trail connecting them. Paper trails are easy enough to hide. Then there was her boyfriend, a goat faunus.
There was little doubt he was right. He also knew that yesterday Yang had gone to a small town named Lockhart to eradicate some grimm for her show. The house would be empty, mostly, except for some guards and the man he was going to see.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ0UjhXtM6u9
The front door wasn't an option for several reasons. If he was wrong and this move had been predicted then one of his employer's goons could be waiting for him. Even if it wasn't predicted there was a possibility that another man had been assigned his old post already and would spot him. It was equally possible the person who met him at the door would turn him away thinking he was yet another fan.
He wasn't sure how good the security would be with Yang gone, but he knew the layout of the house. He had a decent chance of at least getting inside before being caught. It was his best option he had decided.
A funny thing about hidden exits: they couldn't be effectively hidden with a guard nearby. This house had one, though he didn't know why beyond guesswork. It was how he'd gotten in last time, and it was as available to him the second time allowing him to quickly get to the kitchen entrance at the back of the property and away from possible outside discovery.513Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbQQpaR4Idu
That was as far as he got, being taken down by two brawny men who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. "Jerry Towson, I need to see Jerry Towson." He hoped that between the desperation in his voice and the condition of his body they would listen and not simply call the cops on him again. That hadn't gone well for him last time.
When Jerry reached the kitchen he understood a lot. He recognized the man from the picture Yang had taken, but he wasn't in nearly the same condition as the last time. One guard was standing over him, ready to react should the man try anything while another was doing first aid on wounds that were sickening to look at. Harold hadn't been exaggerating when he said he looked to have been tortured. Though the one applying first aid had offered medication, repeatedly, for the pain he must be in their prisoner wouldn't accept it. "Not until I finish talking to Mr. Towson," he'd croaked out.
The sight softened the tone of voice he had been preparing to use on the walk. "You have my attention," he said softly. "Do you mind if I call you Jake, or do you prefer Jacob?" With that statement he made it clear they knew who Jacob was. That was about all they knew, but they could let him assume they knew more. It could only help.
"Jake is fine," he answered, though his voice was rough raw sounding.
Nodding his acknowledgement Jerry asked the obvious. "So, why are you here?"
Despite the question being so obvious Jake paused to give the answer serious thought. "I don't have anyplace left that's safe to turn to." The scratchiness of his voice was painful to listen to. Was it from screaming? Likely given how he looked. Jerry didn't blame him for keeping the answers short.
For that reason he was going to give him questions that could answered with yes or no as much as possible. "You're a spy, a young one, and your employer has turned against you since you've been caught," Jerry guessed, though he spoke as if it was a complete certainty. Jake nodded his agreement with the statement however. The thing that statement left open was who caught him. "That means you have information she doesn't want us to know. You're hoping we'll help you in exchange for that information."
It was another statement, but this time it was wrong, or at least Jake's shake of the head said he was. "I don't know enough."
That was disappointing, but an expected possibility. "Then why do you think we'll help you?"
Moving slowly to not give his guards a reason to retaliate the prone man reached for his left eye, then carefully slid a contact to the side revealing a slitted pupil underneath. "We're kin."
Of all the things that could have come up, finding out he was a fellow faunus hadn't been remotely considered. "Why would a faunus work for the SDC?" he asked in surprise, though the answer was obvious enough: money. There were countless faunus working as slave labor around the globe that proved it was enough.
It was Jake's turn to act surprised however. "SDC?"
He really didn't know anything, did he? Not even who he was working for. That was peculiar. Why kill him then, or at least attempt to kill him? And who tortured him? "Let's start from the beginning."
He had already decided to help the man before finding out his heritage. That information gave him more options to do so, provided his story checked out. The protection wing now had certain level of jurisdiction if you interpreted its mandate right, and the black-ops wing was a given. Alice's team would be able to do more with whatever information they could get from Jake than even Jake could guess.
By the end of the week they'd be heading back to Vale. Jerry was going to be sure Jake was with them, and healthy. "Are there any local doctors you can call that will keep this quiet from the authorities?" If anyone would know, it'd be his security chief.
"I know one," he responded instantly.
"Good, bring him in."ns188.8.131.52da2