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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
Burning Feathers
Dec 7, 2015
18 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!SLG6Syo1XLowCGmbY9zjposted on PENANA

Ah, the weekly business meeting. It had taken four years of trial and error, but eventually they found a balance of keeping everyone informed without wasting time. Part of the adjustment came as Phoenix grew in members in the last three years. When they were relatively small they could get away with monthly meetings. By the time Ruby and Weiss got married it was once every two weeks. Three years after that they were up to weekly meetings as a group, and nearly daily on an individual basis.67Please respect copyright.PENANAW8JVNo3ERE
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They were still informal, as they had been from the start. Blake thought they were about half done with this one as they sat and talked; occasionally laughing at a joke. Sometimes those laughs were forced to break tension over a touchy subject, but usually they were with good humor.67Please respect copyright.PENANAeylX63oVQ8
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Blake shook her head again; suppressing a laugh at what she was hoping was a joke. "Whose idea was this again?"copyright protection63PENANAvPl8wHjvRS

Thompson wasn't suppressing anything as he chuckled. "No one will admit to starting it, but it's been done and no one's inclined to change it." He was still in charge of the Defense Wing, the protectors of businesses and individuals from protection racquets and other forms of sabotage. He had proven remarkably adept at it, and his dedication was one of the things that Blake respected the most about him.copyright protection63PENANAO4WHOxAuZZ

Okay, so this wasn't a joke she realized, even if it was amusing. Well, just because she's the leader of Phoenix doesn't mean she had complete control. This addition had its uses she decided. It might have a unifying effect. That should be encouraged. "Feathers it is then." Why they wanted to call themselves feathers she couldn't quite grasp.copyright protection63PENANAgAfOSCeInF

"There is another thing..," Daniel, interjected.copyright protection63PENANAwTvR11zkwr

More? This was going to be good. At least she hoped it was going to be good. She had worked hard to make sure that each member felt they could be heard. She didn't expect this backlash though. "And that is?"copyright protection63PENANAdlv93jHEOH

Daniel could really stretch out a conversation. That was the nice way to put it anyways. "It's how they're greeting each other..."copyright protection63PENANAD5hTTav8ST

She waited a few seconds for him to finish the statement. When that didn't happen she looked back at Thompson. "How?"copyright protection63PENANAOpMkgNlQ7S

Her Defense chief replied "burn brightly," with even more amusement than before.copyright protection63PENANAhleMuh6cVV

Huh? "Burn brightly?" she asked incredulously.copyright protection63PENANATy0arUkX3d

Joining the conversation, Alice spoke up. "Well, it does make sense. This is Phoenix, and phoenixes burn."copyright protection63PENANAQRCCbTpxKx

Blake shot an accusatory look at the leader of her spy network. "You had no idea this was happening?" Not likely. Alice was, if anything, better at her job than Thompson was. Technically it wasn't her job to keep tabs on what was going on within Phoenix, but she did it anyways. She only reported on those findings directly to Blake however. As she put it, 'Spies infiltrate. It's what they do. If someone isn't looking for them they'll do it to Phoenix as well. I'm black ops. If I get caught you have deniability and I'll happily take the fall. You can hate it, but it's necessary.'copyright protection63PENANAq1TEOoWVAR

Oh and how Blake hated it! She wanted to believe the best in every member of Phoenix from the six leaders to the newest 'feather.'copyright protection63PENANAQtqRESMZPP

Okay, I have to admit, I'm going to like that term once I get used to it.copyright protection63PENANAcGHPjTIJqs

The master thief did her best to look innocent, which in itself was admitting her guilt. "Not a clue."copyright protection63PENANAhRuaviysd8

As good as she was at ferreting out secrets, she was better at spreading information. "I'm betting you started it."copyright protection63PENANAj4BJVfCHes

Cracking a smile Alice said "Why would I do that?"copyright protection63PENANAxr8egs7Zby

Sigh. "Any other surprises I should know about?"copyright protection63PENANAssqXCVfbot

"Don't forget about your two o'clock tomorrow," Simon reminded her, not that she needed or wanted it. As leader there were things she had to do, no matter how much she dreaded it.copyright protection63PENANAjHyVrtb3bq

She wished she could forget about this one. "Yes, my interview with Teresa and Friends."copyright protection63PENANAvJREX8657h

Simon shook his head. He'd been a part of Phoenix since the day it started three years ago. It was long enough for him to know her feelings on such things. "Interview is too strong of a word. It's only a talk show. Mingle, schmooze. They'll only talk about Phoenix at the end once the audience is comfortable with you."copyright protection63PENANAEAK4xn0Nyo

"I get it. It's not them becoming comfortable with me that I have the problem with."copyright protection63PENANAhS6POxiZBu

Simon chuckled. "It's you being comfortable with them. I know. If I could arrange for a talk show without a live audience I would have." He became more serious. "You made me leader of Public Relations, and this is necessary." That wasn't entirely accurate. He'd been at least partially voted into the role, but that wasn't worth arguing about at this exact moment. "You run Phoenix, so by definition you are its face. I'm going to make the most out of that. The fact you are a huntress only adds credibility to what you say. I made sure Teresa was going to stress that point."copyright protection63PENANAp6dhLbpRhx

There were mixed feelings there. She was still proud to be a huntress, and she continued to work out daily to keep her edge, but she wasn't employed as one. Using that title felt like a lie.copyright protection63PENANA9V7T0Eh0sQ

Outwardly she simply shrugged. "I'll be there." She moved on to another subject quickly, hoping to leave the tension she felt from the last behind. "You already told me yesterday, but let the others know about Yang's little project."copyright protection63PENANApJIvyw3RwE

She was still adamant that all leaders were aware of what the other wings were up to. It had been a good arrangement. Quite often a project could be augmented with the help of another wing. At the very least they weren't getting in each other's way and trusted each other. With a wing like black ops trust was something that could be destroyed quickly. She couldn't have that.copyright protection63PENANAlWLzdwLCo2

With a wide smile he was more than happy to tell about the success of Yang's show. "Grimm Hunter's numbers have been high enough that it's been renewed for season four and five. From the latest polls it seems that Yang has managed to maintain her popularity while still being viewed as uh... loose and uncouth." Blake smiled. Leave it to a PR exec to try being politically correct.copyright protection63PENANA9xYhrYVJZn

"In other words, people think she can be a bit of a bitch and a complete slut," Alice supplied. Leave it to a street wise thief to cut through BS.copyright protection63PENANAzo7hTFOXwl

Simon smiled. "Yes, that would be accurate. As a result her boyfriend Jerry has gotten the fan-fair we were hoping for. I'd say about fifty percent of his fan mail is marriage proposals saying something along the lines of 'you deserve better, I can make you happy.'"copyright protection63PENANABShmruTc7i

Isaac spoke up for the first time since his report earlier about the last rally his wing had run. "How many of those letters are from humans though?"copyright protection63PENANAfhQdyhcu1b

Valid question and one Blake hadn't thought of asking earlier. It was further proof that these meetings helped each wing and herself work better. "Hmmmm..." Simon sat for a second thinking then estimated "roughly thirty percent. Higher than I had expected at this point in the show's progression."copyright protection63PENANASAzZRtEGqb

"This has to be hard on Yang," Daniel commented. "I've met her a few times. She's spunky, but certainly not what the media is portraying her as. She's very likable."copyright protection63PENANA123ipvNiIU

Yang bothered by public opinion was an amusing thought. "Oh, I wouldn't worry too much," Blake supplied. "She's basking in the spotlight, trust me. She doesn't care what people think of her, just that they are thinking of her at all."copyright protection63PENANABXcrbKJneK

"And it's that likability that makes her work," Simon continued. "People may not like what she does, but they do like her. It leaves the viewers conflicted and transfixed." It also meant that her faunus boyfriend was getting some favorable views as well. That was one of the reasons this was important to Phoenix. Then there's the other reason.copyright protection63PENANAy7k86cBLS2

Blake turned her attention to Jenny, their Exchequer. "And how is this affecting our finances?" Again, she already knew but the rest needed to be let in on the loop.copyright protection63PENANAWU40dtv0Me

Jenny cleared her throat, then looked at her scroll to find the numbers. "Ms. Long is funneling the majority of her income into our coffers as everyone knows. Last season she granted us approximately one hundred and forty five thousand credits in revenue. We have ear marked all of those earnings for JNPR and Ruby and Weiss's expeditions. Neither of them are in any danger of running low on funds. The next two seasons are going to increase that revenue by fifteen percent. I think it would be safe to move the extra earnings to the general funds."copyright protection63PENANAVoc7PnSyK7

"I don't see any reason not to. Anyone have any thoughts?" Blake asked.copyright protection63PENANAjjeDrkP36I

Daniel had something to add. Of all of the leaders, he was the one who had matured the most in his position. He had little understanding of finances and business at the start, and little confidence to go with it. Weiss had worked with him however. Soon he proved quite adept at manipulating the flow of commerce to put stress on the businesses prejudiced against faunus. He was even better at teaching faunus to run their businesses to compete and attract human customers.copyright protection63PENANA53Ca3PEzQr

"Could those be ear-marked for my wing instead? Whicker Mining is trying to counter our efforts. They're large enough that we haven't really chipped into their profits, and they're throwing money at the smaller companies to counter the proceeds they're losing from our efforts." Blake reflected that a year ago Daniel wouldn't have asked that in the meeting. It would have been asked afterwards just between the two of them. Definitely an improvement.copyright protection63PENANANMPZTEmMd7

Everyone nodded in agreement. "Okay, it's yours. Anything else?"copyright protection63PENANATwq7aSsZVy

Looking up Alice responded "I guess it's my turn. I got a report from JNPR this morning."copyright protection63PENANAI1BlcFaQe1

Blake was instantly captivated. Their mission officially fell under Alice's wing, so that's where the official reports went first. She still got personal letters of course, but they were all of the "We're fine, don't worry about us," variety. The official reports had to be accurate and she was eager to hear the real story.copyright protection63PENANAi2N71HMot0

The reports came in monthly. Longer if they were outside of Vale for a prolonged amount of time where they couldn't be sent. It had been six months. Blake was nearly crawling out of her skin with worry, and with guilt that she was the one responsible if things had turned deadly.copyright protection63PENANAwmxXuHPWHL

She was pretty sure she was going to kill them herself if they were back in town and hadn't called her first!copyright protection63PENANAvpM7KYMVP0

"They're about four days east of Vale by bullhead currently," Alice continued. She was holding her voice even, but there was something there... Something she was hiding.copyright protection63PENANAX73Kf5s2tV

Four days east? That was quiet a distance. "How did they get a report in?" Blake asked automatically, not letting the fear that had started invade until she knew what was going on.copyright protection63PENANA30iAXMiNJZ

"They found an old SDC mining town where they found an a mostly intact communication tower. They managed to get it working well enough to get a signal to another facility, who then sent the rest to us."copyright protection63PENANAyepklaj869

That had to be Ren's doing. Of the four he was the most mechanically inclined. Clever and lucky are an unstoppable combination. "Then we can't be sure how edited the report is, can we?" The fear eased up some. Maybe all she was hearing from Alice was the nerves of a half completed report."copyright protection63PENANA93gcOwhgzL

"The report is very detailed, but most of it made no sense for why they were actually out there. It's obviously a smoke screen for any other ears out there."copyright protection63PENANAcCLudJhvw1

She had already figured out that was the case. "So what information did you get reading between the lines?"copyright protection63PENANAv5gVqC6KKc

"They want a bullhead out to their position asap. He said its because Summer was injured." A sarcastic grin spread across her face, trying desperately to hide her unease. "Given that there is no Summer in their party, it's safe to say there is another reason for that."copyright protection63PENANATTf954Gmkf

Blake's stomach bottomed out. "Send out a Bullhead to get them now,"  Blake said, a feeling of panic nearly overwhelming her. She refused to let it show, and nearly four years of practice allowed the mask to set into place perfectly.copyright protection63PENANA8wSU16DjBa

"I did it within minutes of getting the report. CFVY is on their way," Alice said instantly.copyright protection63PENANAl7gB3Gd9qX

These days CFVY was short one member. As her second Velvet couldn't put herself in obvious danger. If Blake for some reason died she needed to be available to step in. Coco and the rest of her team would be enough for something as simple as an extraction though.copyright protection63PENANAljRBtWFaj0

She looked over the faces looking at her. Though they couldn't see the panic when she first heard the news, they did see how quickly she ordered for the bullhead. They knew something was up.copyright protection63PENANAqsximzo0T0

Not that she could hide what she knew. That would go against the very purpose of these meetings. "Summer was Ruby's mother. She died a long time ago. Their situation could be very bad if they're using that name." All five faces nodded their understanding, worry crossing each.copyright protection63PENANAae8rQb73ky

There was nothing she could do. She felt sick, as memories of a similar situation years ago raised their heads. Memories of Weiss and Ruby going missing and Blake choosing to stay with Phoenix in a key moment rather than searching for her friends.copyright protection63PENANA1GRSilPYv9

From that she had learned to accept that as leader she had to prioritize without allowing personal feelings effect her decisions. Her personal feelings said she should be on that bullhead right now, and she wanted to rip Alice's head off for not telling her sooner.copyright protection63PENANAYVBweX5DXZ

She knew that Alice had handled the situation correctly, and as leader of the black wing it didn't need to go instantly to her. Each wing worked autominously with her only directing. She would only undermine, maybe even destroy, their authority if she insisted every problem be brought to her for approval.copyright protection63PENANAE8dMz4YH8j

That didn't mean she couldn't ask for special reports on specific items. "Next time you receive a troubling report like this from JNPR, or Ruby and Weiss, please let me know after you've done whatever you can. I don't care about the hour." Maybe a tad bit of anger was warranted. That should have been a given, regardless of responsibilities.copyright protection63PENANAf9Z72isSgY

Something in her voice must have leaked through judging by Alice's expression. "Of course."copyright protection63PENANA1fUDL8ARMy

"Did you get anything else out of the report?"copyright protection63PENANARqH4dh9bYh

"Nothing for sure. He said they were looking around the facility while they were trapped there," she paused for a second, looking Blake directly in the eye. "Those were his exact words. It could have been said without it being literal, but it might not. That's it though. Everything else didn't make any sense for what they're out there for."copyright protection63PENANAudruluMNm2

Until she heard from them again she knew she wasn't going to be getting much sleep. "Thank you."copyright protection63PENANAMoiG14PCVB

She refused to let any of her fear show. Even those she worked the closest with were not allowed to see behind her mask of control and confidence. Doing so would only undermine their own confidence.copyright protection63PENANAbM2SRg91s7

She looked over each of the leaders of Phoenix's wings, and smiled. "Anything else?"copyright protection63PENANAiXlJrGdeuA

Everyone shook their heads. "Alright. I'll be briefing Velvet then preparing for the show tomorrow if anyone needs me."copyright protection63PENANAhgZzW1DMDz

She started to turn around when all of them said "burn brightly!"copyright protection63PENANAoOmqHeHQf9

She would have been amused, deciding they had all been in on the new greeting, if not for the dark clouds she saw towards the east and her friends.copyright protection63PENANAYx6khx0vMv

Blake reached to pore another scotch, and found the bottle empty. She reached instead for a second bottle. She knew she shouldn't, but she needed something to relax her. The weekly meetings were harder on her than she let on. Even when they didn't involve her friends in life and death situations, they always involved hard decisions. Decisions that likely had no direct effect on her, but would dictate the lives of thousands of faunus for generations to come. Sure, she delegated the responsibility, but in the end it was all on her.67Please respect copyright.PENANAMlWQBYCbBF
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Todays had been the worst so far. Far worse.67Please respect copyright.PENANAqxOatBywgp
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"There are better ways to kill brain cells," a rough voice came from behind her.67Please respect copyright.PENANAauYws4zQ0q
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She shouldn't be doing this either. "Brute's have no right to talk about brain cells." She had grown a high tolerance to alcohol over the years. Though she was delightfully buzzed and nearing wasted, she still sounded like herself.67Please respect copyright.PENANAZMLVDnTfzv
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Thompson laughed, trying to drain the room of some of its depressed tension. "Don't worry, no one saw me come in," he said to the first worry that hit her every time he showed. "They couldn't see it, but I know how hard hearing about JNPR was on you. You don't think I could leave you to your own devices?" He looked directly at the first empty bottle.67Please respect copyright.PENANAUZ3JawkI2B
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She'd felt it the day they'd met. She'd been so focused on her mission she'd ignored it as a passing fancy. It wouldn't be the first one. Then he went missing. When she saw him alive the relief was enough to stop her mid step in the middle of a war zone. It was an attraction built from mutual respect and rutting lust. For all of his gruff exterior Thompson could be remarkably gentle when needed; like right now.copyright protection63PENANAHm7VDxqsZs

"You should," Blake replied, though her heart wasn't in the rebuttal. "What you have in mind isn't what good leaders do."copyright protection63PENANA3WzIEMZ66x

Another of his laughs. She loved hearing them. They were somehow reassuring that everything would work out, even when she was barely holding back the tears. "You have been adamant that we don't act like an army, so why do you have this army mindset about fraternization among the ranks? You do realize how many of our members are dating right? Why us then?"copyright protection63PENANA2aUSNu2Ivd

He was trying to distract her from herself. She knew it, and she needed it. The alcohol wasn't doing it that night."Because we aren't simply members. We're leaders. We can't let them have any impression of favoritism. Especially from me."copyright protection63PENANAJczR7cpyFo

A smile crossed his face more felt than seen. "Yeah, don't think I didn't figure out that's why you had everyone vote on who led the wings. If it will make it any easier I'll let my second take my place and become a foot soldier."copyright protection63PENANA0IkArZmq5t

What touched her the most is knowing he would for her in a second. It was enough to break through her fears finally, feeling the warmth of his presence at last.copyright protection63PENANAX8DS0rn29T

But he was too good at what he did. Phoenix needed him where he was. Even if that wasn't the case she couldn't ask him to resign from a position he loved simply for her. Her mind worked on that problem viciously, trying to use it in a way that prevented her other thoughts from returning.copyright protection63PENANAgT5QKd39MI

"I see the gears working kitten. Let's not do this right now. I came to comfort you, not upset you. Let me do it." Little did he know how well he had already comforted her.copyright protection63PENANAxMrSmSRJjW

She felt his hands start to massage the back of her neck; his fingers finding the knots he had already known were going to be there. She leaned into it, subconsciously. Realizing she'd already given in she temporized one more time can't hurt.copyright protection63PENANAch4Qa5hx8r

Not that much happened. She finally noticed the effects of the alcohol when she stood up, and nearly fell over as she stumbled forward. Thompson came forward and picked her up. She snuggled into it, and was unconscious before she reached the bedroom.copyright protection63PENANAqokwe4Kidw

Blake's mood had improved in the morning, though she was still ever conscious of her friends in the back recesses of her consciousness.copyright protection63PENANA0LirDFkvpD

"We just made it back home," Ruby's chipper voice said from a voice message the next morning. "Come over when you get the chance!"copyright protection63PENANAsBUwr4CJCK

She said it so casually. Like they hadn't been out in grimm infested woods for two months now, and were likely going to be going back out next week. Those two were insane. They had started only weeks after their wedding, not long enough for a proper honeymoon in Blake's opinion, and hadn't stopped since except for a week here and there. She was pretty sure they hadn't even finished decorating their house yet.copyright protection63PENANAa39vzozkGN

From Ruby she had expected it. She had too much of a paladin mindset to do otherwise. Weiss on the other hand had surprised her. She was normally so level headed and pragmatic. She would know that pressing themselves like this was going to wear them down. They needed time off to recharge their batteries, and to have time to themselves to renew their relationship.copyright protection63PENANAQGz98cPsIe

If anything, Weiss was the worse of the two. Blake had the distinct impression that if Weiss could she wouldn't be back in Vale until every last facility that treated faunus worse than slaves was left with none of them. She had been that way since the first time they reached a SDC facility.copyright protection63PENANA6aQ0Hh5j1H

Blake shook her head, chagrined that she hadn't seen it coming. She knew how bad it was out there, from a statistical sense. She hadn't actually seen it with her own eyes. The statistics were bad enough however. Knowing that she was in any way attached to what she found had to have driven Weiss nearly insane. Blake recognized the signs of obsession from personal experience. She hoped Ruby did too.copyright protection63PENANA4cKdHkBhEi

Maybe I'll see if Daniel can't use Weiss's expertise. As his mentor she was the first one he'd ask if there was. It might slow her down enough to get at least a bit of rest before going back out. Even if he can't use her help, I'll make sure he understands that he does. That little snafu with Whicker Mining would work.copyright protection63PENANA5uZEE7RtAz

She never thought she'd miss the days of fighting off Roman and his cronies. Those had been simpler days.copyright protection63PENANAHHJxHqPNKR

"Get back to bed," she heard from her bedroom. Simple days with three other roommates to stop her from doing things she would regret in the morning. Well, she should be regretting them.copyright protection63PENANAvO3f1LAD3e

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