Chapter 12-

Of Thieves and Killers

When he had finally finished climbing up the long trek of stairs to the rooftop, he was greeted with the familiar sight of Roman Torchwick leaning against some worn down railings. For a moment, he simply stared, because where had once been a signature bowler hat that rested atop that man's head was now a simple dark hood from a similarly colored hoodie.

"A disguise…?" He eventually asked, a curious expression on his face.

The orange-haired thief let out a puff of smoke from the lit cigar in one of his hands as he appeared to be browsing through his scroll on the other. After a brief moment, Roman put away the scroll and greeted him with an easy-going smirk.

"It's a bit of a pain for me to go outside these days," The thief replied with a shrug, "You know, with half the town wanting to kill me and the other half wanting to throw me in a call."

He raised an eyebrow in response.

"Having second thoughts Roman?"

The thief simply laughed.

"Are you kidding me? Come on now kid, I'm one of the most wanted men on the planet. Stuff like this doesn't even faze me anymore."

He supposed the older man had a point about that.

"Anyway, it sure took you long enough to get here kid."

For one reason or another, he suddenly felt a pang of annoyance, but suppressed the feeling. It was a common feeling to have, he had come to learn, when it came to socializing with someone like Roman Torchwick. He supposed that some people were just naturally annoying in their nature.

"I had work," He eventually responded in a dry tone, "And it takes a while to commute across the city."

"That's why you need a car kid."

He couldn't afford something like a car, not with his paycheck. It wasn't as if he needed one anyway, as he rarely found himself needing to commute across the city.

"I can't afford a car," He simply replied.

Roman smirked.

"You know, I could help you with that."

He couldn't help but roll his eyes at that comment. It was quite obvious that whatever help Roman Torchwick was going to offer him was going to be something that fell along the lines of illegal activities. He wouldn't be surprised if the thief had shown up at his doorstep the next day with a brand new luxury vehicle, and knowing Roman, it was one that was going to be acquired through one unsavory mean or another.

Something of which he had no interest in. So, he simply changed the subject.

"Why are we here Roman?"

To his credit, the thief knew when to stop fooling around and get serious. He supposed that when it came to business, as the thief liked to say, playful antics were more or less left behind at the door. A thin stream of smoke left Roman's mouth as the man's previous flippant attitude seemed to scatter away like his tobacco smoke in the air.

"Well, we sure did a number on the big bad, didn't we kid?" Roman asked, as another puff of smoke left his lips, "I mean like stopping the train and taking down Adam Taurus along his mutts. It was a pretty big deal you know."

He simply shrugged, unsure of what the older man was trying to make.

"What are you trying to imply Roman?"

The thief didn't respond immediately, and instead took another puff from his cigar. When it became apparent to him what the thief in question was trying to do, he inwardly suppressed a sigh.

He should have expected this honestly, Roman did have an annoying habit of dragging things on with his flair for the dramatic and all. He didn't plan on humoring the man, so he simply remained quiet, waiting for the inevitable reveal that would supposedly shock or frighten him in one way or another.

The thief gave him a pointed look in response.

"You're no fun kid."

He let out a sigh.

"Just get to the point Roman."

Really now, who was supposed to be the adult here again?

The thief took another huff from his cigar before he tossed it away completely, dumping it over the railing. Gesturing with his hand, the thief motioned him over towards the railing. Seeing no real reason to refuse, he obliged and walked over, eventually resting his arms on the railing as he overlooked the city of Vale from atop of the building they were on.

"Y'see, the thing is, the final boss doesn't go down that easily kid," Roman eventually began.

"Video game analogies now Roman?" He asked, bemused, "Can you just get to the point?"

The thief gave him another look, which he ignored.

"Tch, alright look," Roman replied, an annoyed look on his face, "Cinder's not finished yet. And from what I've been hearing, something big is going down right now."

"Details Roman," He interjected.

"Hey! I was getting there alright? You can't rush this kid, there's a certain grace that needs to be employed when it comes to sabotaging your former employer," Roman pointedly explained, "Anyway, there's been a lot of movement into the city lately. And I'm talking about a bunch of real shady individuals that have absolutely no legitimate business in a major city like Vale."

People coming into the city around this time weren't anything surprising. The Vytal festival was coming up soon and there were bound to be outsiders and such. Although, what Roman had just mentioned did kind of give him some reason for concern.

"And you know these people?" He asked, "Are you sure they're not just here for the Vytal festival?"

The thief snorted.

"Yeah kid, I'm sure a bunch of hired guns and cutthroats came to watch a bunch of snot-nosed brats beat the stuffing out of each other," Roman sarcastically quipped, "No kid, I'm pretty sure they aren't here for the Vytal festival."

Ignoring the sarcasm, he gave the man a questioning look.

"… And you know this how Roman?"

The thief replied in kind by returning with an incredulous expression on his face.

"Are you serious kid? Uh… Hello, I'm Roman Torchwick?" The thief held out his hands for emphasis, "You know, one of the most wanted men in Vale? Come on now, you've got to give me some credit here. You don't just become an infamous kingpin you know. Just because you're a freak of nature doesn't mean everybody else is a bum with no skills."

He narrowed his eyes at the backhanded compliment.

"Err… No offense," Roman quickly added after, "I meant that as a compliment!"

He couldn't help but roll his eyes at that.

He supposed that the thief did have a point about one thing though. Roman Torchwick was one of the most wanted criminals in the city, so he shouldn't have been surprised that the thief was still able to gather information from the underworld, in spite of Cinder now being the new queen of the kingdom. Roman still probably had some connections here and there that he had taken advantage of.

"So you believe that these mercenaries are working for Cinder?" He eventually questioned, "That they came into the city under her orders?"

Roman shook his head.

"I don't believe kid, I know. There isn't anyone else left alive in the city's underworld with the kind of financial leverage that could afford hiring from the likes of the Mistral Brotherhood. The timing is just too perfect, you take down all of her muscle from the White Fang and not too long later, a bunch of these guys come flooding into the city?"

The thief scowled as if recalling a bad memory.

"Yeah, that psychotic bitch definitely has the means and the reasons to bring them over alright."

He frowned at that.

If what Roman said was true, then it would seem that the uneasy feeling he had been having for a while now would prove to be a foreshadowing of sorts. The implications of Roman's words gave rise to a series of troubling thoughts involving the destruction of the city in one way or another. They were thoughts that he hoped would stay just that, as mere thoughts.

"No matter how confident you are Roman, this seems to be all still speculation," He eventually replied, "Do you have any concrete evidence to back up your claims?"

"Nope," The thief cheerily replied, "And that's why we're here."

He raised an eyebrow in response.

"… And just what do you mean by that?"

"Well…" Roman gave a cheeky grin, "Let's just say that we're going to be paying one of Cinder's new friends a little visit."

And with that, the thief gave him the universal gesture for "follow me" and leaped over the railing towards the next rooftop. For a moment, he simply stood there and stared blankly at the spot that the thief had been mere moments before. Eventually, he let out a small sigh before he followed after the older man.

When they finally stopped, it was on the rooftop of a rather weary looking building that seemed to be an apartment complex of some sort. The paint on the walls had begun to scrape off and the actual walls themselves had definitely seen better days. With his usual confident smirk, Roman gestured for him to follow as the thief made his way down the fire emergency staircase attached to the side of the building.

He still had questions, but it appeared that they would have to wait.

With a small sigh, he trotted after the older man. They continued down the staircase for a couple of floors until the thief in front of him suddenly came to an abrupt stop and held a hand up.

"Kid, you still have that pistol you carry around on you?" Roman suddenly asked.

It took him a brief moment to realize that Roman was referring to his evoker.

"Yes…" He answered, giving the older man a questioning look, "… Why?"

Roman simply smirked.

"Good, keep that thing out and try to look threatening, alright?"

He furrowed his brow while Roman pulled out a familiar looking cane.

"Alright kid, here's how it's going to go down. So our new little friend from the Mistral Brotherhood is staying in the room on the floor directly below us. We're going to pay him a little visit and ask a few questions, so just let me do all the talking," The thief nonchalantly began as he started to load dust cartridges into his cane, "Oh, and do try to restrain yourself from interfering if things get a little bit…Violent, alright? If you have any questions, make them quick."

It didn't take a genius to figure out what Roman was planning on doing. Interrogations were not things that he enjoyed participating in, whether as the interrogator or the person getting interrogated. They always involved far too much talking and animosity for his tastes. Despite his dislike for the act, he was hesitant to leave things completely up to Roman. Torture was not something that would condone, no matter how valuable the possible information was.

He was curious however, as to why Roman had wanted him to be here, if the thief knew he would disapprove of his plans.

"If you do not want me to interfere, then why did you call me here?"

Roman continued to fiddle with another dust cartridge.

"Why?" The thief repeated, "Because, you're here as insurance, in case shit goes downhill. Normally I'd have Neo for this, but she's currently preoccupied with another job. And seeing as how this is something that would benefit you as well as me, it seemed like a good a time as any to put our little partnership to use."

Before he had a chance to say anything else, Roman had already jumped down a flight of stairs and smashed open one of the windows on the wall with his cane. Frowning, he took out his evoker and quickly followed suit, jumping into the newly made entrance after the older man.

He was greeted with the sight of two rugged looking men who appeared to have been in the middle of a card game. Various stacks of Lien were scattered across the table, indicating that some rather large bets were being made.

"What the fu—"

"Why hello to you too gentlemen!" Roman interrupted, still holding his weapon in the air, "Y'see this here's a hold up. Now, I'd suggest that you all not move and adhere to my demands."

A brief moment of tense silence seemed to engulf the shoddy room.

"Do you know who the fuck we are?" A man with a scar across his face soon growled out, "Do you know just who the fuck you're trying to mess with here?"

"Why yes, I do!" Roman mockingly answered, "You're all a bunch of two-bit thugs working with the Mistral Brotherhood!"

"You motherfucker, we'll kill you!"

Roman pointed his cane towards the blonde haired man that had just spoken.

"Sure, you and the rest of the city," Roman dryly replied, "But the thing is, too bad for you, I'm the one holding the high card in this here game," Roman gestured with his weapon, "So, it's my turn to ask the questions. Who hired you?"

The scar-faced man scoffed.

"And what makes you think we'll answer? You're just some pretty boy and a punk kid. We ain't telling you shit."


His eyes grew wide in surprise at the shot.

"Agh!" The scar-faced man howled, "F-fuck, he shot me!"

"And that's just your knee," Roman sneered, "Now if you want to keep your other knee intact, I'd suggest you start talking."

He frowned and narrowed his eyes at the thief, but otherwise remained quiet. The damage had already been done, so there was little point in sharing his disapproval and breaking the image of fear that Roman had now instilled into the two thugs. He would of course step in and put a stop to it should things escalate any further.

Shooting unarmed men, even if they were hardened criminals simply left a bad taste in his mouth.

The scar-faced man that was now in a fetal position clutching at his ruined knee continued to let out another stream of curses. His companion, a blonde-haired man with a tattoo on his neck, had a fearful look in his eyes. He may have disapproved of Roman's methods, but they definitely seemed to work, as the two men now appeared to be a lot more willing to talk than before.

"Well?" Roman asked impatiently, "As entertaining as it is to watch you grovel on the floor, I don't have all day."

For good measure, the thief walked up and held his cane over the man's other leg.

"A-alright! I'll talk, I'll talk, just don't fucking shoot!" The scar-faced man choked out, "The guy that hired us, he didn't tell us his name! If you know that much about us, you should know how it is; his money was good so we didn't ask either."

"Hmm," Roman hummed, "Fine. Alright blondie, your turn now," The thief lifted his cane up and pointed it towards the other man, "Tell me something useful or I won't just shoot your kneecap off, I'll smash it into little tiny pieces myself. What was the job you were hired to do?"

For a moment, it appeared that the mercenary in question was going to hold his silence. Although, once Roman began to lightly pull down the trigger of his weapon, the mercenary seemed to come to the realization that his own well-being was worth much more than his client's confidentiality.

"H-hey man, take it easy, I'll talk," The blonde-haired mercenary said as he held up his hands in the air, "We were only told to make our way into Vale. Once we arrived, we were to receive instructions from someone named Cinder. That's all I know, swear!"

Roman simply let out a small hum, before he looked over his way with a smug expression on his face.

"Well," The thief began, "I guess that answers that question kid."

He supposed that it did, in more ways than one.

That only meant that things were only going to get even more dangerous in the future. It seemed that Cinder's plans were still going on strong, and the battle at Mountain Glen only served as a small detour in the grand scheme of things. In retrospect, he should've expected that, after all from his own experiences, grand evil plans like Cinder's or Ikutsuki's were never that easily foiled.

"H-hey," The blonde-haired mercenary hesitantly stuttered, "We told you everything already, so we're free to go right?"

Roman merely smirked.

"What? Oh yeah, you guys are free to go," The thief cheerily replied, "Free to go straight to hell that is."

The blonde-haired man's eyes went wide.

And then Roman pulled the trigger.

Only this time, he was ready for it.


The dust filled round whirled through the air before it smashed into the newly formed barrier, stopping its path. The blonde-haired man, whose eyes had grown as large as saucers during the entire exchange, let out a breath of relief when it became apparent that he wasn't in danger for the time being. Roman slowly set his cane down before turning his head towards him with a glare.

"Didn't we agree that you weren't going to interfere kid?" The thief asked, visibly annoyed.

He simply shrugged.

"I never agreed to anything."

And that was the truth; he never had a chance to voice much of anything really.

"Alright then kid, say we let them go. And then what?" Roman challenged, "They go running back to Cinder and let her know that we're on her trail? I don't know about you, but I think that she has more than enough reasons to burn me to a crisp already, I don't need to add anymore to that list."

As usual, Roman's logic was infallible. Killing them would prevent a lot of unnecessary problems; after all there was that old saying. Dead men tell no tales. But even so, the very act itself went against his morals. It wasn't who he was, nor was it what SEES was. SEES had never once resorted to killing, not when it came to Takaya or even Ikutsuki.

He did not plan on breaking that trend either.

"We're not killing them Roman."

The thief looked as if he wanted to argue, but the sounds of nearby police sirens caught his attention. Someone else in the building had probably heard the discharge from Roman's gun and called the police.

"Tch, fine whatever," Roma eventually bit out, "You want to play the hero? Go ahead, but I'll say this, in the real world, heroes don't get happy endings kid."

He didn't need Roman to tell him that. After all, he knew that better than anyone. That disgusting feeling of emptiness from being the seal still gave him nightmares to this day. And it was still a sacrifice that he would willingly make time and time again if need be. It wasn't even about being a hero; it was simply about protecting what was important to him, whether it be his friends, SEES, or even his own convictions.

More police sirens could be heard in the distance.

"Let's get out of here before the cops arrive," Roman said, before turning his attention back towards the two mercenaries, "As for you two, you didn't see anything, alright?" Roman leaned closer and whispered into the blonde-haired man's ear, "Otherwise, I'll be paying you another visit, and next time, the kid won't be here to save your skin."

The man's face paled, but he nodded nonetheless.

"Alright then gentlemen, I'm glad that we came to an understanding," Roma sneered, "For your sakes, I hope that we don't meet again."

And with that, Roman kicked open the door and stormed out.

They had snuck out through one of the building's emergency exits and had thus managed to avoid running into any police officers. Roman apparently knew the ins-and-outs of the city quite well, because they had ducked into so many different back alleys on the way back towards their part of town that he had long given up on trying to figure out where they were. It also took a good deal longer than he preferred, but they eventually did make it back to an area that he was familiar with.

He leaned against one of the many shipping containers at the docks as he waited for Roman.

The thief had wanted to take a small detour before heading back to his apartment. Apparently, the man had wanted to pick up a box of cigars from a nearby store. Seeing as how they were already in the area, he didn't really have any objections.

"Yo kid," Roman greeted as he walked over, "Can you believe how much they charge for a box of cigars these days?"

He raised an eyebrow at that.

"I find it harder to believe that you actually paid for something."

Roman laughed in response.

"Well, I do have to keep a bit of a low profile for a while kid. I would never steal my cigars anyway, that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

The thief reached into his pocket and took out a lighter. Grabbing one of his new cigars, Roman proceeded to light it and took a long drag. Tobacco smoke soon filled the air in his nearby vicinity and he couldn't help but wrinkle his nose at the smell.

"Did you have to smoke in this particular area?" He dryly asked, "Specifically next to me?"

Roman took another hit from his cigar.

"No, not really."

But of course, because it's Roman, he does it anyway. He resisted the urge to have Thanatos strangle the man next to him as he let out a sigh. They stood in silence for a while, as the sounds of the nearby waves drowned out most of the noise at the docks.

Something had been bothering him since their little visit to Cinder's new henchmen.

Specifically about how nonchalantly Roman was willing to kill someone.

"Roman…" He eventually began, breaking the silence, "Back at Mountain Glen, the White Fang on the train. Did you kill them?"

The thief in question simply gave him an incredulous look.

"Oh no, not this shit again kid."

"Roman, did you kill them?" He asked again, much more firmly this time.

Roman took another drag from his cigar.

"Not personally," The thief eventually answered, "I did kill one though. Bullet straight to the neck. Wasn't one of my smartest ideas though, since I ended up getting blood all over one of my favorite suits."

He frowned at the vivid imagery that the thief had chose to use.

"Not personally…?" He slowly repeated, before realization dawned on him, "Neopolitan…?"

"Yup, you got it kid," Roman casually remarked, "Y'see unlike me, she actually rather enjoys killing people. Thinks of it as a hobby really, it actually creeps me out a bit sometimes. She can be a bit too… Sadistic at times. Although, I suppose that's what makes her such a good accomplice. In this business, you always need someone to take care of the dirty work after all."

He had always thought that Neopolitan had been a bit… Unhinged. An innocent smile that had always seemed to be hiding something deeper underneath. The occasional slip-up, where the angelic façade had cracked and out came a grin that was far too-wide, far too-eccentric, emitting an almost bloodthirsty aura even.

He had always seen flashes of it, but had simply brushed it off behind one excuse or another.

A trick of the light, or perhaps his mind had been seeing things due to his tiredness. He never did pay any second thoughts to Neopolitan's occasional unnerving lapses. Or perhaps he had always known in the back of his mind, and simply chose to ignore it instead. Perhaps he was afraid of his worries being true, because it seemed that in one way or another, he had come to value the odd relationship that they had with each other.

Perhaps he was afraid of breaking that relationship and the repercussions that came with it.

Ryoji had always said that he had been far too kind for his own good. How he would in the past, distance himself from others to avoid the possibility of pain that came from forming relationships with people. After all, relationships never did last forever, and when they did finally end, all that was left was pain. What had happened with Shinjiro was simply a testimony to his beliefs.

He couldn't help but shake his head at the thought.

When had he grown so sentimental?

He was no longer that same person from before. The bonds that he still shared with SEES even to this day made sure of that. Relationships may come and go, but the bonds that were formed, the experience and the memories, those were forever. Even now, with his relationship with SEES shattered, their bond was never broken. He still had his memories and experiences with SEES, and it was those very experiences that shaped him into the person that he was today.

He turned his attention towards Roman, who had been staring at him with an unreadable expression.

"Roman…" He slowly began, "If this partnership is going to continue, there will be no more killing, alright?"

The thief simply let out an exasperated sigh.

"I thought that you were going to say something unreasonable like that."

Was he being unreasonable? He didn't think so.

"There are other ways besides killing Roman."

Roman simply rolled his eyes.

"Sure there are," The thief agreed, "Yeah, like for example, I could just be an upstanding citizen and start a legitimate business rather than be a thief!"

He frowned, but kept his silence, prompting the thief to go on.

"Ah, but you see, the thing is with that, I'd be working five times harder and making ten times less than what I do now!" Roman continued on, "Which brings me to my point kid, why take the harder road? Because it's the right thing to do? Don't give me that bullshit," Roman sneered, "We would've saved ourselves a whole lot of headaches in the future if you simply let me put those two idiots down."

Having finally finished his little rant, Roman leaned back against a nearby shipping container and slid down until he was sitting with his back against the wall. The thief took another drag from his cigar and blew out a thick plume of smoke.

"So tell me kid," Roman began once more, "Tell me why you want to make things harder for everyone. And please don't give me any more of that morality crap."

He stared Roman right in the eyes.

"That's exactly why."

To Roman, it might've just been bullshit, but those were his beliefs. They were his convictions, they were SEES's convictions. He didn't think he'd ever be able to face them again were he to go against those beliefs.

The thief took another deep drag form his cigar.

"You know, for someone with so much power, you sure are naïve kid."

He simply shrugged.

"Perhaps I am. But, those are my beliefs and I don't intend to go against them."

Roman let out a dark chuckle.

"Heh, just like little Red aren't you kid?"

He blinked at that.

"Little Red?"

"An annoying little brat that's apparently a lot more similar to you than I originally thought," The thief cryptically replied, "I'm going to let you in on a little secret, think of it as a life lesson if you want. Now, if you think about it kid, what do we all really value in life?"

That… Was a question he was not expecting.

"Love and friendship? Honesty? Integrity? Don't make me laugh," Roman scoffed, "What a bunch of sentimental bullshit. The only thing that matters in this world is power and…" The thief reached into his pocket and took out his wallet, "Money."

Roman tossed the wallet onto the floor as a stack of Lien flew out of it.

"Back when I was just a little starving brat, crawling around in some godforsaken shit-hole of a village somewhere way out beyond the walls, where was my love and integrity then?" Roman took another drag from his cigar and let out a dark chuckle, "Forget about love, people wouldn't even spare a second glance at me. What they saw wasn't even a fellow human being, but just another little street rat."

Roman snuffed out his cigar with his boots.

"Oh, but things sure change quickly when you have money and power," The thief smirked, "The world becomes one hell of a better place when you have those two things. It doesn't matter even if you have to dirty your hands to obtain them. As long as you have money and power kid, even a little street rat can become a king."

He did not agree with that way of thinking, not at all.

"Are money and power all you care about Roman?"

The thief picked up his wallet from the floor.

"They're the only thing that matter kid. The point of the story is, when you're living life on the edge, you don't give a damn about things like what's right or wrong. Money and power are all that matter to you because that's all that you've really got."

He watched as the thief picked up the rest of the Lien on the floor.

"Then what about Neopolitan?"

Roman gave him a guarded expression.

"What about her?"

"You don't care for her at all Roman?" He carefully asked, "You don't value your relationship with her?"

The thief simply shook his head chuckled.

"Heh, weren't you listening? Our relationship is the same one that I have with you kid. I have uses for her, and she has uses for me. And when we no longer have uses for one another, then we'll go our separate ways. There's no love or friendship involved if that's what you're thinking."

He didn't believe that, not from what he'd seen of the two.

"That's a lie Roman."

"Believe what you want kid," Roman stood up and dusted himself off, "But I'm done with this conversation. You don't want any more killing? You want to take the hardest road? Fine, like I said, power and money are all that matter to me and you're the one with all the power here, so you call the shots."

Roman began to walk away before stopping and cast one last glance his way.

"Just don't regret it when that decision comes back to bite you in the ass."

Roman didn't stay around for long, and pretty soon he found himself sitting alone in his living room. Neopolitan was still off doing whatever job that she had been given, so for the first time in a long while, he found himself with some time alone.

He thought about Roman's words.

And he could see where the thief was coming from. He could understand that because of his upbringing… If one could even call it that, had shaped the man's ideals into what they were today. Those that only knew fear, treachery, and hatred in their lifetime would only be able to live that same way after all.

He could understand where Roman was coming from, but he did not agree with it.

The familiar sound of shattering glass drew his attention away from his thoughts. Neopolitan sauntered into the room, her parasol resting atop her shoulder as she took a seat next to him on his couch, an amused grin resting on her face as usual.

"You could use the door you know."

The girl simply shrugged in response.

"How was your little meeting?"

He thought about how he would describe what had transpired in as few words as possible.

"… Eventful," He eventually settled on.

Neopolitan gave him a knowing grin.

"Did you have fun?"

He let out a sigh.

"And just what is your definition of fun?"

And there it was. It was only there for a second, but he definitely noticed it this time around. An almost manic shine in her eyes, and an all-too-wide smile that seemed to exude a kind of exuberance that was... Unsettling to say the least.

"Oh you know; this and that."

"... Like fighting and killing?"

Neopolitan simply grinned at that.

He averted his eyes and turned away from her. He couldn't help but wonder just what kind of messed up childhood someone had to have to become like that.

Eventually, Neopolitan simply stood up and walked over, until she stood directly in front of him. She gave a slight tilt of her head, and looked at him with a confused expression on her face.

"Do you not approve?"

He felt as if she had asked him that very same question once before.

"I don't approve of killing."

She frowned at that.

"But Roman needs me to kill."

"Not anymore."

She blinked.

"We talked about it earlier," He clarified, "He won't need you to kill anymore."

For a moment, she simply stared at him.

He stared back.


This time, it was his turn to blink.


She nodded in response.

"So you won't kill anymore?" He questioned, "Just like that?"

She nodded again.

He blinked once more in response.

He was expecting her to protest if anything. With the way Roman had described her… Murderous tendencies, he would have half expected her to have thrown a fit actually.

"Why?" He found himself asking out of curiosity, "I thought that you liked killing."

Neopolitan simply shrugged.

"I do. But I like you and Roman more. And if Roman doesn't need me to kill anymore, then I won't."

That… He supposed that made sense, in one way or another. But that logic was just… It was almost childlike in nature.

He wasn't sure just what to think about it.

Neopolitan simply gave him an amused grin.

Ella allowed a small smile to grace her face.

Her fellow classmates smiled back. Greetings were exchanged and small talk was made. Oh, they talked about all sorts of mundane things, like the newest album from the hottest band or about what boys in their year looked the cutest. She participated of course, because Ella, like most girls her age loved to gossip.

After all, Ella was simply another young huntress-in-training.

"Oh yeah, Ella is your teammate alright? I heard that she had to go back to Mistral because of an emergency!"

"Ah yes, she had a… Family emergency to attend to, but she's fine, don't worry about it," Ella reassured, "As her teammate, I'm confident that she can handle herself."

"Oh, but doesn't that mean you won't be able to participate in the tournament?"

Ella gave a sad smile.

"Unfortunately, yes that is the case. But, I'm sure the other representatives from Haven Academy will put on a good show."

They continued to talk, until the Professor in the room gathered everyone's attention, signaling the beginning of the class. And naturally, like the good student that she was, Ella began to jot down notes from the lesson. After all, one of Ella's teammates never did take his studies seriously, so she had to make sure that not only did she have notes for herself to use, but for her teammate as well.

The sound of a ringing bell signaled that the class had soon come to an end.

Scribbling down the last of her notes, she allowed herself a small smile in satisfaction as she began to put away her pen and other materials.

"Hey Ella, do you want to grab something to eat with us?"

Ella simply shook her head at that.

"I'm sorry; I already made plans with my team," She replied, "Perhaps next time, Hailey."

Hailey seemed to deflate a little at her answer.

"Oh, alright then, maybe next time!"

Ella smiled and nodded in response. Hailey and her friends all waved her goodbye as they quickly scurried away towards the cafeteria. Ella, being the good friend that she was, returned the gesture and watched as they walked away, chatting with one another all the while.

Packing up the rest of her class materials, she bid her professor goodbye before she began to make her way back towards her dorm. Beacon Academy was a rather large school, much bigger than Haven Academy was. So going from the classrooms back towards the dormitories took a good deal longer than she was used to.

Once she finally made her way back to her dorm, she was greeted with the sight of her two other teammates.

And then the mask came off.

Cinder sauntered her way over towards her bed. Dropping off her bag of school supplies at her bedside, she took a seat.

"So tell me Mercury," She purred, "How did it go?"

The silver-haired boy simply shrugged and turned on the small little television in their room.

"See for yourself."

The Vale News Network soon appeared on the screen.

"This is Lisa Lavender with VNN, here to report a recent murder of two members of the Mistral council that were here to attend the Vytal Festival…"

Cinder simply smiled.

"Well now, Mercury, Emerald. It seems that you two can still be competent when need be."

Emerald averted her eyes, while Mercury simply grunted in response.

"… And thus the council has deemed it fit to make General Ironwood the head of security for the remainder of the Vytal festival…"

It took a great deal of effort to suppress the grin that was threatening to split her face in two.

And with that, another pawn on the chessboard had fallen. Sure, there had been some surprises here and there. But, it was nothing that she couldn't handle. After all, she had spent years planning the fall of Beacon; she had made every possible arrangement, planned for every single contingency that might have occurred.

Wild card or not, nothing would stand in her path.

Beacon was already destined to fall. The writing was already on the walls. The rest of the plebeians simply didn't know it yet.

Author's Notes- If anyone finds any errors, please do point them out so that I can correct them. It's been a while since I've written anything, so I'm quite rusty. Life's been a bit rough lately, so it felt pretty good to simply take some time and just write. Hopefully you all enjoy reading it.

Oh, and by the way, it seems that I've lost contact with my old Beta reader, since I have been missing for quite a while. If anyone would be interested in helping me out with that, feel free to message me.

Until next time~