Struggle and Strife
Chapter 9, Broken Hands
I do not own anything pertaining to FF7, FF7R or RWBY.
There was only one way to deal with women like Sienna Khan in Jaune's experience, and that was by hitting them with the good old tried and true Strife charm. This was neither the time nor the place for such behavior, let alone from the woman who is responsible for the uptick in violence from the White Fang over the past few years.
While he had never seen her face, Jaune had at least heard of the rather short tiger Faunus in passing at some point in the recent past. For someone who was supposed to be the leader of an international terrorist organization, Sienna Khan certainly didn't conduct herself like one.
Blake seemed to choke on her breath while Sienna could only blink in astonishment at the stone cold bluntness of his words.
Such a delivery left no further room for persistence on the matter, or so Jaune had thought.
"I… see." Sienna breaths out after a moment in a near whisper, likely having never been rejected so quickly or harshly before in her life, "Not to be rude, but may I ask why?"
"No." Jaune simply shrugged before ignoring the woman's thousand yard stare and turning his attention to Blake. "Have you contacted your father?"
The amber eyed Faunus could only nod in confusion while also stealthily creeping back from her High Leader by a few feet, having never dreamed that there was someone out there with stones big enough to dismiss Sienna Khan like she was an afterthought to her face, let alone twice in the span of a minute.
Everyone felt the sudden chill in the air, but no one dared comment on it.
"Good. Tell him I'll be by tomorrow afternoon if you two speak again tonight." Jaune then nodded once at Blake and ignored Sienna completely before turning away from the two and beginning to make his way towards the base of the mountain contained within the ruins walls.
"Wait, where are you going?" Blake called out to him after a few moments of consideration, causing Jaune to pause for a moment before glancing back at her over his shoulder.
"To make sure that the job's done." The blond once more replied in a fashion that left no room for further conversation.
When it became clear that there was nothing left to be said, Blake and Sienna got the message and seemed to begin to make their ways back towards the entrance of the ruined city.
With that, Jaune left the two feline Faunus behind and started making his way towards the base of the mountain that was just within his eyesight, ignoring the harsh whispers they shared between them as he traveled further and further away.
Whatever issues that arose in the future due to his harsh handling of Sienna were future Jaune's problem. Present Jaune's problem was finding the nest or nests of the Grimm that have been causing problems and making sure that they are completely cleared out.
Now, if he were an eyeless crocodilian Grimm with a propensity for lightning based ranged attacks, where would he make his nest?
Underground, of course, hence why Jaune was making his way towards the foot of the mountain. If there was a cave anywhere in these ruins, it would be near the mountain.
For as long as man had been forging weapons of metal, so too has man been mining for ores. A mineshaft was more than likely how the obviously subterranean Grimm were able to breach the ancient ruins of a city long since fallen to the dark. That, and Blake had mentioned that the walls had remained standing until someone had leaned on a support pillar and brought an entire section of the walls down on their heads.
This tells him that the Grimm couldn't have come from without, not if they had become contained in the city before the walls crumbled. This means they could have come from above or below, and considering the Levi-Creep's lack of eyes, Jaune was more than willing to bet his bottom Lien that they came from below.
True to his suspicion, he eventually stumbled upon the mineshaft in question, protected from the elements under a carved canopy of marble suspended on gashed and weathered columns of similar material.
The skeletons that littered the path leading to and from the mine painted a vivid picture, one Jaune could almost visualize should he have been depraved enough to do so.
The miners had been the first to die, obviously. Their skeletons lay closest to the mineshaft, assorted in such a way that the former eco-terrorist knew that the Grimm had the element of surprise when they first began to flood into the city.
Beyond the miners lay the remains of countless civilians, their weathered bones paving the roads shrouded in thick, twisting vine and gnarled thickets of wicked thorns. Rusted trinkets of pocked metal and dully gleaming gems of Dust were all that remained of them beside.
It had been a massacre.
These people had about as much of a warning about their impending demise as the downtrodden living in the sector seven slums did when the plate dropped.
Hardening his resolve, Jaune utilized his Semblance to begin amplifying his Aura, once more bringing his reserves to near capacity before stepping forward into the dank mineshaft. The deep blue-green glow that surrounded his body as he actively called upon his Aura was enough to illuminate the cavernous tunnels he continued to check.
There were dozens of smaller branching shafts to check and mark on his growing mental map as clear when they proved to be Grimm free and largely undisturbed. The shafts closer to the surface contained trace amounts of raw Dust not yet fully mined, as well as raw ores like copper and tin.
The further the main shaft traveled downward in a wide spiral, the more abundant that raw Dust became, though Jaune was beginning to suspect there had to be some kind of rhyme or reason behind their formation.
He could hardly call himself a scientist by any stretch of the word, but he was and still sort of is still a master-class Materia user. Knowing that Materia was the crystallized knowledge and experience of the Cetra, which allowed the Humans on Gaia to wield Magic in a way that the Cetra could naturally, was Dust then somehow the crystallized remains of an ancient civilizations Magic as well?
After repeating the question in his head a few times, Jaune could admit that it did sound plausible, but with no way to either confirm or deny his theory there was no use pondering the subject for too long.
At this point, all he could do was continue following the trail of skeletons, old pickaxes whose handles have long since decayed away and the empty lanterns that may have once contained Burn Dust.
It wasn't long after that did the delivery boy finally stumble across the main cavern that the Grimm had once occupied undisturbed, a large cave in due to over mining one particularly massive bright yellow Dust Mote likely being the cause of the first unveiling of the Levi-Creeps.
He quickly began cursing himself for using so much Mana earlier, as the sight of an entire hoard of twenty foot tall Levi-Creep Grimm was enough to make even his chocolate starfish pucker slightly.
'Look at the size of those things.' Jaune thought to himself in near disbelief, unable to take his eyes away from the lumbering Grimm far below him in the cavern. 'Why are there so many of them? How are there so many of them?'
Reaching into his front pocket, Jaune retrieved his scroll, turned on the built-in camera and recorded a short video of the churning mass of back flesh and bone plating below. Making sure to zoom in on the Grimm as best he can, Jaune eventually ended the recording and returned his scroll to his pocket before deciding on a game plan on how to handle the many Leviathan sized Levi-Creeps below.
The urge to hit the crowd of Grimm below with a Beta spell he had 'learned' from a zolom that lived close to Kalm is strong, but even he knew better than to cause massive radioactive explosions underground. The chances of the mountain above collapsing in on top of him and then causing a massive landslide were too high, otherwise he would have done just that.
From what Jaune could tell, there were also far too many Dust motes jutting out of the walls for him to risk just spamming spells and accidently set off, especially due to just how large said motes were. Just the single node of the bright yellow Dust that Jaune had passed was enough to power a village like Kua Kuana for years, let alone the massive spires of it that littered the glistening cavern filled to the brim with abominations that were commonly called the Grimm. That was even after said node had been mined previously.
Finding Dust deposits as large as these were was nearly impossible in Remnant's modern age, let alone in such a wide variety. Jaune would know, he once considered opening his own Dust company to try and put the SDC out of business, only to realize just how difficult such an endeavor would have been.
Until now, that is.
Casting the Big Guard command spell upon himself with his slowly replenishing Mana reserves, Jaune channeled an intense amount of Aura into his legs before leaping into the sea of Grimm below with the Fusion Sword still fully assembled and at the ready.
Kali Belladonna was in a good mood.
No, scratch that, Kali Belladonna was in a great mood.
When Blake had returned home around two in the morning and tried to sneak into bed, Kali had been wide awake and waiting to jump her daughter to force her to spill the sardines on what happened between Sienna and Jaune.
After hearing the story of how the blond delivery boy had ruthlessly crushed any chances Sienna had at wooing him, Kali had spent the next thirty minutes afterwards laughing her bella-butt off, to the point that she had tears pouring from her eyes.
It wasn't every day that someone told her that Sienna was shot down so hard that the short extremist then spent the rest of the night nursing a bottle of liquor while becoming nigh unresponsive to the world.
It had apparently gotten so bad that Adam and Blake were forced to run interference and thus take over the cleanup operation that was still ongoing on the former defensive line.
Forget owing him for killing the Grimm that had been plaguing her home for months, Kali now owed him for the greatest gift he could have possibly given her outside of precious blond grandbabies to spoil.
The gift that was clam-jamming Sienna.
Nothing brought her shrivelled cold heart more joy than tormenting Sienna, outside of cajoling her Blakey of course.
All was right with the world now, if you were to ask her.
Speaking of, she spotted her new favorite blond slowly making his way towards the Belladonna residence from up the road, causing her to return inside from her sunbathing on the balcony to tell Ghira that their guest had finally finished his mission.
Within a few minutes, Jaune had been delivered to Ghira's study by Citrine, who looked as harrowed as the blond swordsman.
Kali couldn't help but frown slightly at Jaune's ragged appearance, his clothing in complete disarray while the harness that usually held his many swords seemed to be in tatters. Despite his immaculate posture and the sharpness of his bi-tone gaze, Kali could tell that he was nearly dead on his feet from the shortness of his breathing and the lack of the stifling presence that followed him like a second shadow.
"The ruins have been cleared of all Grimm and their nests, which were hidden in a mineshaft below." Jaune eventually broke the silence, his unique drawl making his words seem a bit friendlier than his otherwise dry tone would imply.
Kali could tell that there was something weighing on his mind, though she could hardly fathom what it could possibly be. Something about the distant look on his sharp eyes made her feel as if something major had just happened to him.
"There were more?" Blake questioned from behind her father, having been given a few hours of reprieve to grab a quick nap and lunch some thirty minutes prior to Jaune's arrival, "Of course there were. How bad was it?"
"See for yourself." Jaune slowly withdrew his Scroll from his pocket, unlocked it with a swipe and pulled up the video he had recorded before setting it on Ghira's desk for all within the room to see.
After the first video finished playing, which left two of the three Belladonna's speechless at the sheer size and number of the Levi-Creeps that had been too large to crawl through the mineshaft and into the ancient ruins, a second video began to play.
One that showed a calm and collected Jaune casually posing before the quickly dissolving corpse of a Grimm that was easily over forty feet tall and probably half as big around for a victory selfie while noting a few details about the massive beast in a nearly clinical manner.
"This particular Grimm is likely the 'Mother' of the Levi-Creeps, if such a term applies to the creatures. When enraged and then nearly dead, the Mother Leviathan-Creep hybrid began to 'spawn' more Grimm of a smaller size, which might explain the population density of this singular species in such a confined space."
The second video then ended, which Kali assumed was the final video before a third began to play, this time showing a similar scene of Jaune standing over the corpse of a dissolving Grimm, only this one was so large that only its clawed hand fit into the camera frame at first.
Then Jaune switched out of selfie mode and turned on his flashlight, which further illuminated the Grimm and revealed the rest of its vanishing remains.
"I was wrong, this is the Mother, the previous Grimm was likely just one of this Grimm's eldest spawnlings. This mission has been fun, but sadly, I think this was the last of them. Now, to catalogue the Dust… wait… did I just hear… whispering?"
A moment of silence engulfs the room as the video shows Jaune spinning around and shining his camera towards the back of the massive cavern. This new view shows not only just how many different types of Dust were hiding in the cavern below, but something even stranger still.
Ominous rune-like carvings lined the walls of the cavern and from a recession between what appeared to be religious pictographs of two drastically different beings, a crimson glow began to illuminate the cavern further.
"My, my… I haven't seen Magic like that since the Gods left u-…"
The meaty sound of Jaune's massive blade bisecting the strange, squid-like floating Grimm that had just barely wandered into Jaune's camera's view filled Ghira's study, followed by a huff of indignation from the blond and then his final input.
"I'm done here."
The video then ended without any further adieu, leaving Ghira, Blake and Kali to stare at Jaune as if he had lost his mind.
"I'm a delivery boy and sometimes a mercenary if the money's good." Jaune frowns slightly before pointing at his scroll, "That type of nonsense, however, is where I draw the line."
Kali couldn't help but feel like there was a story there somewhere, but she didn't push him to elaborate.
"Let me get this straight… you not only came across giant Grimm that can spawn even more giant Grimm, right below our feet, but you then found a Grimm that could talk?" Blake is the first to break the thick silence that hung in the air like a miasma. "Am I missing anything here?"
"Don't forget the giant Dust motes," Jaune idly notes while grabbing his scroll and switching from his video reel to his photo gallery, "there is a lot of Dust down there, enough to put the SDC out of business easily."
"Really?" Blake perks up upon hearing this, an excited smile starting to form at her lips, "you aren't pulling our legs, are you?"
Jaune shook his head before passing her his scroll after making sure he was in the correct album, which Blake began to thumb through slowly with Ghira watching with glazed eyes and a goofy grin over her shoulder.
"As you can see, I'm not." The blond then accepts his scroll back after Blake downloaded a copy of the photo album to her own scroll for later perusal.
The silence was back, this time lingering longer than it did prior before Kali decided she had enough. "So, how about my Blakey? Isn't she wonderful?"
Ghira and Blake both groan in unison at how she decides to cut the growing tension while Jaune retains his neutrality as best he can.
Kali saw Jaune's lips quirk into a small smile before it was gone as quickly as it came, tried as he might to hide it from being seen by palming his face with an ungloved hand.
"She is… something special." Jaune eventually agreed amicably after moving his hand away from his mouth when it became clear that Kali required an actual answer from him, "I see a very bright future ahead of her."
"I'm glad we agree." Kali nods and smiles benignly before clapping her hands lightly, as if she hadn't just threatened to disembowel Jaune with a rusty spoon if he didn't agree with her through her glare alone. "Well then, how about some lunch? You look like you could use a good meal before we finish discussing business now that you're back and safe."
Obviously Kali needed to run interference, as both Blake and Ghira had become nearly catatonic upon hearing and seeing just how much Dust was in the caves below the ancient ruins and just what such a discovery implied for the people of Kuo Kuana and the Faunus species as a whole.
Or maybe they were still in shock over the talking Grimm. Kali wouldn't know, she was just a former terrorist turned housewife. The Grimm weren't her forte, so Grimm-spawning giants and sentient talking tentacle Grimm didn't really seem all that odd to a woman who hardly knew what the Grimm really were or what they could do.
"I'd much appreciate it, ma'am." Jaune nods almost enthusiastically upon hearing her offer of free food, his stomach agreeing loudly as well, "I could probably eat a whole Chocobo right now."
Kali smiles a proud smile, having figured that if there was any way to warm her newest favorite guest up to sticking around a bit longer and thus giving her more chances to hook Blake up with a better man than Adam, it was by offering him free food.
There wasn't a person on Remnant who would turn down her home cooked meals, especially if they've already tasted them at least once.
It was how she bagged Ghira, and if Blake would just stop being so rebellious and actually bothered to learn how to cook, Kali's efforts to bag Jaune as a son-in-law would go a lot smoother!
"A what now?" Kali questions, her brows furrowing slightly as the word Chocobo finally registered in her mind, "Is that a type of cow or something?"
"No, it's a large bird… that you can ride like a horse. Sort of like a big, yellow emu." Jaune actually had to pause and think for a moment, having not actually seen one in close to twenty years or so, "They come in different colors other than yellow, though, my favorite being black."
From the way he was speaking, Jaune may have actually been a bit passionate about the creatures, especially considering how the otherwise quiet teenager actually bothered to describe the species beyond just calling them birds.
"That doesn't exactly surprise me." Kali deadpans while looking down at his outfit before shaking her head and making her way out of Ghira's study, "Blake, will you be a dear and show Jaune to the bathroom so he can freshen up? I'm going to go see if some of Ghira's old clothes will fit him until we can get a seamstress over here to take care of his gear."
"Uh, ma'am, I appreciate it but-"
She cast a quick glance over her shoulder at Jaune, one that silenced his argument dead in its tracks, then continued on her way while humming a happy tune under her breath.
Now that Sienna was kicked to the curb, War Plan Yellow was officially underway once more, with additional plans already in the works should she fail her new mission.
Jaune soon realized why Ghira dressed like his mother still picked out his clothes, and that was because his wife did.
Now dressed in an outfit that was remarkably similar to the all black outfit he used to wear when he still thought he was a SOLDIER and all freshened up from a long, steaming hot bath to pass the time until lunch was ready, the blond swordsman was ready to eat and then nap the day away on a bench somewhere in the sun.
All that fighting in the caves deep below Kuo Kuana had given him a fresh perspective for his love of the daylight and the warmth it provided.
He tried not to think about how much the caverns below the ruins reminded him of the northern crater of Gaia and what had awaited him there in his past life, but he couldn't help but draw comparisons where there should have been none.
There was something seriously wrong with everything Jaune had seen or heard down there, and it wasn't just the sheer size and number of the Grimm he was thinking about.
The fact that there was a type of Grimm capable of speaking, let alone displaying actual sentience, bothered him something fierce. Everything about it had contradicted the lessons his father taught him when he was much younger and more ignorant of Remnant.
Everything he had thought he knew about the creatures of the dark was now being called into question, such as the nature of their existence as supposedly mindless beasts or even their point of origin, if the talk of 'Gods' that the floaty eyeball squid Grimm was whispering about is to be believed.
Then there was its admission that some form of Magic had already existed on Remnant prior to his arrival from Gaia, no matter how brief it had been. The thought of there potentially being other Magic users out there was hardly a cause for concern for him, but the fact that such knowledge was apparently lost to time was.
Were the 'Gods' that the Grimm had referred to an ancient species of beings like the Cetra? What happened to said Ancients for their Magic to have disappeared so thoroughly from Remnant that its existence is now considered legend? Is that what Dust really was, the crystallized remains of an age long passed and the Magic that once flourished?
Beyond even that, was there another Calamity like JENOVA plaguing this planet as well? Was that what Genesis had meant when the redhead said that another planet needed his help? Is that what the Grimm really were, the mutated spawn of another alien lifeform not native to Remnant?
Jaune was so lost in his suffocating thoughts that he nearly missed the sound of someone's footfalls stopping just outside the door to the guest room he currently occupied.
"Lunch is ready." Blake spoke up after gently tapping on the closed door twice to get his attention, "Are you still hungry?"
Shaking his head quickly to rid himself of the heavy thoughts weighing upon him, the blond swordsman rose from the edge of the bed he was sitting on and made his way into the hall to walk with Blake to the dining room. "Sure am, thanks."
"No need to thank me, I'm just the messenger." Blake shrugs loosely before gesturing over her shoulder with a nod of her head for Jaune to follow along. "If anyone should be being thanked, I should be the one thanking you."
Pausing at the fourway and trying to turn and face him completely, Blake almost collapses on herself and just barely catches herself on the doorframe to prevent herself from falling to the floor.
"Ah, damn it!" Blake hisses as one of her hands instinctively reached behind her to clutch at the still barely healed wound on her lower back, causing Jaune to frown slightly in concern.
"You good?" Jaune questions in a concerned tone while extending an arm for her to brace herself on as Blake tries to stand up straight once more, only for her to wince as she does so. "Do you need some help?"
"I appreciate it, but I doubt there is anything you can do to help with spinal injuries." Blake sighs while reaching up to wipe the light sheen of sweat from her brow, likely from the pain she felt more than any exertion. "Unless you can, that is."
Jaune shrugged lightly before raising his right hand and snapping his fingers after calling upon enough Magic for one of his more commonly used spells. A green wisp of energy sprang from his fingertips and began to float around Blake in a full circle rapidly before sinking into her body and illuminating it with majestic emerald colored light.
"As a matter of fact, I can." Jaune shrugs, resisting the urge to smirk upon seeing the dumbfounded look on Blake's face as her body accepts the magic of the Cure1 spell while restoring her body until she could properly stand once more, "surprise."
"I… thank you." Blake near whispers as she straightens her back without any issues while lifting a leg and rolling her ankles one at a time to test her range of motion. "I was just being sarcastic! I didn't actually-"
"No problem," Jaune cut her off, knowing that he was likely going to be hit with Blake's emotional baggage if he didn't somehow hurry things along, "we can talk later, after lunch."
Blake tilts her head slightly and stares at him as if he were the most fascinating thing in the room, which causes him to shift slightly in an uncomfortable fashion before she nods slowly and turns to continue towards the dining room without further input.
The sway of her hips was much more pronounced than before, though it was likely just her natural gait than anything else.
At least, he hoped so. His luck with women was turning out to be as horrid as it was before he died and arrived on Remnant.
Soon enough, the two enter the dining room and are greeted by Kali warmly while Ghira looks up from the scroll he was typing away at before putting it away.
"What took the two of you so long, hmm?" Kali hums mischievously upon noticing the fleeting look that Blake had sent Jaune before sitting down, her daughter's straightened posture and ease of movement not slipping past her for a moment. "Are you perhaps warming up to Blake? Should I be expecting a broken hearted redhead to be showing up soon?"
"Don't count on it." Jaune intones lightly after taking a small bite of the baked fish Kali had prepared for him, "This fish is delicious, how long did you bake it for?"
"Twenty four minutes, I usually pull flounder's out of the oven a few minutes earlier than I do other types of fish." Kali then turns and grins at Blake, who seems far more bothered by her questions than she would have been earlier, which means that something had indeed happened between the two to liven her daughter up so much. "Don't think I don't notice that look, young lady. If our guest here won't tell me what happened between you two, you will."
Blake opens her mouth to protest, but Kali cuts her off with a quick glare much like she had Jaune thirty minutes prior when he tried to do the same.
"I healed her back, that's it." Jaune eventually admits when it becomes clear to him that Kali isn't going to stop harassing Blake until she gets an answer. "Nothing more, nothing less."
"Wait, you... can heal people as well?" Ghira stops eating for a moment to level Jaune with a look that reminded the blond of the same type of look his own father would give him when he did something particularly outrageous, even by the Arc family standards. "I think we should stop asking you what you can do and just start asking you what you can't at this rate."
Jaune didn't really know what to say to that, so he said nothing and opted to instead take another bite of his meal.
Silence descended over the dinner table, though it wasn't as oppressive as it had been in Ghira's study, instead almost comfortable in a way. As much as Jaune wanted to bring up the subject of his pending payment for services rendered, he knew better than to bring up business at the dinner table, even if they were only eating lunch.
In all honesty, he was enjoying the almost familial feeling that sharing a meal with the Belladonna's brought him. It was almost like he was back in Edge after a particularly spicey delivery, relaxing with Denzel and Tifa over a stiff drink and whatever leftovers his childhood friend had on hand at her bar.
The thought was enough to nearly choke him up, but he let the memory go without dwelling on it like he would have even just years prior.
"If you don't mind me asking another large favor from you," Blake begins unsurely after finishing her helping of fish and pushing her plate away from her, "do you think it would be possible for you to heal those who were hurt by the Levi-Creeps? I don't know how much you'd usually charge for healing, but I'm sure the White Fang can come up with something."
Jaune sighs upon hearing Blake ask her favor, having already assumed she would request such a thing when the realization finally set in that her back was actually fully healed and no longer bothering her with even phantom sensations of pain.
"I don't charge for healing." The former mercenary eventually admits, his gaze falling to the table as he thought about Aeris and how she would feel if he were to do such a thing, "We can deal with that after I finish speaking with your parents, if you'd like."
Blake nods firmly, her amber eyes shining with an emotion that could have only been gratitude. "Thank you."
"You're a good kid, Jaune." Ghira calmly pushes his plate away while lacing his fingers together and resting his elbows on the table. "We of Kuo Kuana owe you a great deal, and it seems that debt is only going to grow larger the longer you stay. Do you perhaps already have some form of payment in mind?"
Jaune locks eyes with Ghira from across the table before pushing his plate away and leaning forward as well, knowing that the time for business has come at last. "I don't want to ask for too much, especially knowing how much you need the resources here for Kuo Kuana and the people depending on you."
"You are right about that, of course, but a debt owed is still a debt owed, young man." Ghira counters calmly, his gaze remaining firm. "Kuo Kuana likely would not have remained standing if you hadn't been here. The Fang was struggling to hold the lines, and if even a single one of those massive Grimm had somehow made their way to the surface either now or in the future, I doubt we all would be long for this world. I honestly can't think of a reward great enough for the things you've done for us, and believe me, I've been thinking hard on it."
Jaune raps his fingers across the surface of the table lightly as he ponders on what to request from Ghira and Kali, especially knowing that the budding Kingdom-to-be just outside the walls of the Belladonna residence would soon be undergoing a Dust-boom and thus become a focal point of international news.
"If it means that much to you, make me a statue or something." Jaune eventually says more as a joke than a serious desire, "And sell me an acre of land somewhere that isn't already spoken for at a decent price. That's my desired payment."
"Deal. How big do you want the statue to be?" Ghira agrees far too quickly, almost as if he had already had something similar in mind, "And an acre? That's all? I can't charge you for something like that!"
"I was just joking about the statue." Jaune admits almost sheepishly before Kali quickly hushes him with one of her quick glares, as does Blake surprisingly, forcing him to quickly amend his words, "or, uh, how about just life sized? Nothing too grand."
Ghira goes from looking disappointed to incredibly pleased in no time flat upon hearing Jaune agree on a size for his statue. "Easy enough! I haven't carved a statue since the last time… well, it's... been a while, but this is the perfect excuse to break out the old hammer and chisel! Though, I… don't have access to any decent stone to work with, now that I think about it, and it'll be months before I can order any from Mistral..."
The High Chieftain sighs as he looks down at the table, his brows furrowing as he tries to think of a solution to the newest issue to arise.
"Can you work with marble?" Jaune questions unsurely, which causes Ghira to perk up once more, "There's a slab of it in the ruins that I can haul back here after I finish healing the wounded folks that Blake mentioned a few minutes ago."
Somehow, Jaune got the feeling that he had just made a friend for life based on the look Ghira was giving him.
A quick glance around the table made him raise that number to three.
He had made three friends for life.
Sienna Khan was in one of those moods.
What kind of mood, you ask?
She wanted to rip someone's head off, of course.
Since the target of her ire was nowhere to be seen, and thank the Faunus Gods for that, Sienna was forced to sit and stew in her anger, alone and in silence. Not even Adam was around to second question her every action, or the Albain brothers to pester her with their thinly veiled barbs and schemes to dethrone her from her rightful position as High Leader.
All was as good as it was going to get with the world, as far as she was concerned. With no way to recover from such a blunder on her part without tracking down said target of her ire and trying to explain her actions and the inner workings of her Semblance, Sienna was just going to have to accept the consequences of her actions. Even if she had been jacked up on ambient Aura and destruction when she tried flirting with the blond delivery boy that Ghira had hired to help the White Fang repel the Grimm, it was no excuse for her forward behavior.
Either way, if she couldn't secure Jaune Arc as a mate, then at the very least she intended to make him an ally. But how did one go about making such a person an ally? What could she possibly offer him that he doesn't already have or can't get on his own?
Power? He already had that, beyond the scope of Sienna's wildest imagination.
Wealth? What was Lien to a man like him?
A means to an end, at best. A tool.
Prestige? There wasn't anything prestigious about being associated with a terrorist organization and even she would admit that freely.
Based on his reaction the night prior, offering herself up as a lover was out of the question as well.
The White Fang had nothing to offer him, yet Sienna couldn't help but try and think of something anyway.
What did a man like Jaune Arc even want? How could she even possibly guess as to what he could want, knowing as little about him as she did?
Was it better to simply inform the White Fang of his status as a VIP, even if he has no desire for such treatment?
Sienna is broken from her ruminations by the door to her study being hastily opened by Ilia, a close friend of Blake's and an immediate subordinate of Adam.
"Ma'am, I bring urgent news, please forgive my intrusion." Ilia removes the standard White Fang operatives mask as she quickly approaches Sienna's throne before kneeling at the base of the stairs leading up to said throne, "The blond mercenary that Ghira hired yesterday has arrived at camp with Blake and is healing our wounded as we speak. I've never seen anything like it, ma'am, it's… almost like-"
"Magic." Sienna finishes for Ilia with a sigh, any anger she felt towards the blond evaporating upon hearing that he had come to the White Fang's main camp to heal their wounded. "I've seen him do things that defy what Aura can do, lieutenant, it doesn't really surprise me that he can heal the wounded as well. Very well, if that is all…"
Understanding a dismissal when she heard one, Ilia quickly makes herself scarce after donning her mask once more.
Left alone with her thoughts once more, Sienna can only sigh heavily as she weighs her options before finally deciding to bite the Dust and at least attempt to strike up a cordial conversation with Jaune Arc before he leaves the compound she called home.
It's not like he could possibly think any less of her than he likely already did.
With this thought in mind, Sienna rises from her throne and begins to make her way towards the temporary field hospital some ten minutes away on foot with her guard detail in tow.
The sound of laughing children running through the few paths through the woods still open to the public filled her four ears and reminded her once more why she did the things she did at the end of the day, the jubilant noise enough to raise even her spirit.
After another few minutes spent going over her gameplan on how she would actually approach the target of her recent inner turmoil, the High Leader of the White Fang stepped into the medical tent after the guards posted just outside snapped off a salute and stepped aside to grant her access.
While she had acknowledged Ilia's news of Jaune Arc healing the wounded, she didn't quite comprehend the scope of just what such a thing implied until she saw it with her own eyes.
Xavier Snow, a leopard Faunus that had been on the fast track for a promotion to second lieutenant, had been one of the first to be nearly fatally wounded by the Levi-Creeps when they had first descended on the White Fang operatives that had been guarding those in charge of investigating the ruins from whence they came. Sienna had thought that even with Aura, the injuries to his body would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Yet there he danced a happy jig, on a leg that was basically minced meat not even hours prior when she had done her rounds to check on her people.
Like Magic, or perhaps a miracle.
Sienna hadn't believed in either until the night before.
The black clad delivery boy wasn't wasting time, either, moving from person to person as he snapped his fingers repeatedly, releasing green wisps of healing energy in bolts that honed in on the many patients in question. One by one, the previously wounded White Fang members and guardsmen alike rose from their cots and inspected their newly healed bodies with varying expressions of confusion, joy and relief.
It was one of the most mystifying experiences of Sienna's life, as well as the most tiring. With every bit of damage to the bodies around her being healed, her Semblance supplied her less and less ferocious power until finally, she was left clear headed for the first time in weeks and in almost complete control of her actions and thought process.
Yet another reason for her to be grateful to the powerful swordsman.
A return to normalcy is just what she had needed after such prolonged usage of her most cherished, yet hated ability. Grudge had been driving her near stark mad as of late and it had peaked the night prior after she had basked in the wanton destruction that Jaune had unleashed upon the Grimm.
Now, if only she could get his attention.
With how many people that now surrounded the clearly uncomfortable and dare she say exhausted blond, she had a feeling she was going to be waiting a moment.
This was neither the time nor the place for her to pull rank, however, so she instead sat herself down on an empty cot and resigned herself to wait a little while longer. Her people deserved to speak with their healer and savior perhaps even more than she did, after all.
Who was she, in the face of a man that was as kind to her people as he was as merciless to her enemies?
"It's amazing, isn't it?" A voice questions from beside her. "I hope that soon we can resume our mission, now that the threat to our home has been dealt with and our people whole once more."
Sienna doesn't have to turn her head to recognize Adam's voice.
"It is. Though, I wouldn't count on that mission going live any time soon, not if what Kali messaged me turns out to be true." Sienna turns to lock eyes with her Right Hand, her voice dropping an octave to be less intrusive to the cheerful laughter of those still lingering around Jaune and Blake, "Seems like our courier over there discovered an absolutely massive trove of Dust just waiting to be harvested when he was clearing out the ruins last night."
"Is this information accurate?" Adam questions, only to purse his lips and tilt his head to the side thoughtfully, "if it is coming from Miss Belladonna, it likely is. Just how much Dust do you think he found down there, Lady Sienna?"
"Apparently enough to put the SDC out of business." Sienna admits after carefully considering her words, "Which means enough to turn Kuo Kuana into a proper Kingdom and not just a settlement barely kept afloat though unscrupulous means."
"This… changes things." Adam says slowly, his masked face turning away from Sienna and back towards the blond who had apparently made this possible. "Everything."
"Maybe so, maybe not. The only thing we can do now is ready ourselves for the inevitable." Sienna smiles in a predatory fashion as wicked thoughts begin to cross her mind, "Atlas isn't going to take a threat to their financial stranglehold on the Faunus laying down."