RWBY Book 2: Echoes - Burning Feathers | 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
Burning Feathers
Dec 7, 2015
18 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!LKerEA8WmOhKoeWpMkGoposted 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.154Please respect copyright.PENANAgHcSHwK5iy
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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.154Please respect copyright.PENANAbOlEMVFoWi
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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 protection150PENANACBq0PnpBI5

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 protection150PENANAZUyCrLqGwT

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 protection150PENANAE28nMNK6C4

"There is another thing..," Daniel, interjected.copyright protection150PENANAMeGdewBE7j

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 protection150PENANAK7diKE3bkA

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 protection150PENANA4ZDdmp07vC

She waited a few seconds for him to finish the statement. When that didn't happen she looked back at Thompson. "How?"copyright protection150PENANAciRTw6p7Kx

Her Defense chief replied "burn brightly," with even more amusement than before.copyright protection150PENANArvEENpjRAE

Huh? "Burn brightly?" she asked incredulously.copyright protection150PENANAsFD5S0uT70

Joining the conversation, Alice spoke up. "Well, it does make sense. This is Phoenix, and phoenixes burn."copyright protection150PENANAwkjndPtCWe

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 protection150PENANA9nKO2ydmqN

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 protection150PENANA0SsDYlDteL

Okay, I have to admit, I'm going to like that term once I get used to it.copyright protection150PENANAtK6M7jCBWy

The master thief did her best to look innocent, which in itself was admitting her guilt. "Not a clue."copyright protection150PENANAQ5WAUZ87ly

As good as she was at ferreting out secrets, she was better at spreading information. "I'm betting you started it."copyright protection150PENANAVlroZpJCSX

Cracking a smile Alice said "Why would I do that?"copyright protection150PENANAomHu9POLqK

Sigh. "Any other surprises I should know about?"copyright protection150PENANAkgPhRKg0RC

"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 protection150PENANAyNY0bXpVAi

She wished she could forget about this one. "Yes, my interview with Teresa and Friends."copyright protection150PENANATYEAtNqhzR

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 protection150PENANA1T8RaZBrZt

"I get it. It's not them becoming comfortable with me that I have the problem with."copyright protection150PENANA3yg1ysZYoz

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 protection150PENANAghyVS2Jiji

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 protection150PENANA9lbhcmhONg

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 protection150PENANAhRPySn1Slp

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 protection150PENANArCH0xz2gSm

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 protection150PENANAy2HKkT6BHT

"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 protection150PENANASZKHxD5zvr

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 protection150PENANAYX3GYBf1R8

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 protection150PENANAnqa4bvYh6G

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 protection150PENANAbYFWGdALM6

"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 protection150PENANAcL4gr2RH3J

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 protection150PENANAQra0vlwuDC

"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 protection150PENANAaPBQLi3m3Q

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 protection150PENANAsgBxw3znKD

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 protection150PENANA6A5gBBC75f

"I don't see any reason not to. Anyone have any thoughts?" Blake asked.copyright protection150PENANAKg5m6RE9dI

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 protection150PENANA0GYBduFNSp

"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 protection150PENANArZ0wfC7SKd

Everyone nodded in agreement. "Okay, it's yours. Anything else?"copyright protection150PENANA8vtdRz4vJh

Looking up Alice responded "I guess it's my turn. I got a report from JNPR this morning."copyright protection150PENANAeJXckbH0Yz

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 protection150PENANApqyqWO34GN

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 protection150PENANAhOiL1ak6F3

She was pretty sure she was going to kill them herself if they were back in town and hadn't called her first!copyright protection150PENANAnTMl67xN7w

"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 protection150PENANAnxWWYTK1Xr

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 protection150PENANAPfg70hhloX

"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 protection150PENANAoLRb7YjEMr

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 protection150PENANAa9Z65X0QZY

"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 protection150PENANAiOdyWeQeze

She had already figured out that was the case. "So what information did you get reading between the lines?"copyright protection150PENANAcY03972tMO

"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 protection150PENANAUWXT33R3UQ

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 protection150PENANA1cEfLBuBP3

"I did it within minutes of getting the report. CFVY is on their way," Alice said instantly.copyright protection150PENANAP11P5bX7EJ

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 protection150PENANAWzGTtJXkNS

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 protection150PENANAaP5P5Qqzrg

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 protection150PENANAChhE7nQ4uv

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 protection150PENANANq4ukydiS1

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 protection150PENANAb3QgTW6jvy

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 protection150PENANAz7PRMWeC1J

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 protection150PENANA7PacjuKxND

Something in her voice must have leaked through judging by Alice's expression. "Of course."copyright protection150PENANAyYGpezllTQ

"Did you get anything else out of the report?"copyright protection150PENANATtYJlLGAnH

"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 protection150PENANAjvxtHQYroL

Until she heard from them again she knew she wasn't going to be getting much sleep. "Thank you."copyright protection150PENANA4WKLmZlIkf

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 protection150PENANAzdJxW4jCEG

She looked over each of the leaders of Phoenix's wings, and smiled. "Anything else?"copyright protection150PENANAkYbRrTIql6

Everyone shook their heads. "Alright. I'll be briefing Velvet then preparing for the show tomorrow if anyone needs me."copyright protection150PENANAcp3WbqVx8f

She started to turn around when all of them said "burn brightly!"copyright protection150PENANAMHtvfpAy2f

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 protection150PENANAfmeqeFkW6F

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.154Please respect copyright.PENANAUMgqt40qb2
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Todays had been the worst so far. Far worse.154Please respect copyright.PENANA7rKjjrQ4x8
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"There are better ways to kill brain cells," a rough voice came from behind her.154Please respect copyright.PENANADIXZnKV28R
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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.154Please respect copyright.PENANAl2DBt7FtxQ
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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.154Please respect copyright.PENANAwEigYCHOHf
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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 protection150PENANAEkRmvHjlTd

"You should," Blake replied, though her heart wasn't in the rebuttal. "What you have in mind isn't what good leaders do."copyright protection150PENANAiJaxFe2RPH

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 protection150PENANAS6MtJLa04x

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 protection150PENANArISi5n0pJT

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 protection150PENANAC1CNzi1CaR

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 protection150PENANAj2X6vGSFHW

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 protection150PENANAd8F5qKtqac

"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 protection150PENANAjNeWAOeCqo

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 protection150PENANAtJrqQW7ICO

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 protection150PENANAFPWlVm6oNg

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 protection150PENANAB73P3EDig3

"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 protection150PENANAHJN8aE5hnH

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 protection150PENANA53w2ospuQd

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 protection150PENANAKrkOhosVGJ

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 protection150PENANAZosMxCrCUO

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 protection150PENANAj0RQ3fisK9

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 protection150PENANAFvBZjSoMN5

She never thought she'd miss the days of fighting off Roman and his cronies. Those had been simpler days.copyright protection150PENANAvMtYz0B0Dv

"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 protection150PENANAPXwHOzW72H

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