"So, let me get this straight…" Adam Taurus, a member of the White Fang, said as he paced through the tent. The woman and her pawns who had come to recruit him and his group stood at the entrance.
"You could've gone to anyone for help. You could've made a deal with a gang leader, paid off some Huntsmen that have strayed from their... righteous path... but instead, you choose to seek an audience with me." Adam stopped in the centre of the tent and stared at the woman in front of him.
Cinder Fall smiled and Adam could feel the cruelty and sense of superiority that lay behind it. "You're the one we need. Your skill, your ability to lead those beneath you. You're an exceptionally valuable man, Adam. And we've put a lot of thought into-"
"Then you're clearly not thinking straight! If you truly understood us, you would know coming here was a mistake. The White Fang is not an organization for hire. We're a force of revolution!" Adam stepped forward and raised his fist, hoping to show zealotry he didn't hold.
Cinder smiled. "I believe our plan will be beneficial for all parties involved. I have... an associate in Vale. He and I are working on a revolution of our own. But we can't do it without your forces. We need-"
"What you need, is to leave." Adam held up his sheathed sword. "You are asking me to send my men to fight and die for your cause. A Human cause." His hand fell to the hilt of Wilt. "And that is not an idea I am willing to entertain."
Cinder's smile fell into a scowl for but a moment before she schooled her face into something far more polite. "Very well." She turned and left, both the tent and the White Fang encampment.
Adam followed her outside the tent and watched her go.
"What did they want?" Blake Belladonna, Adam's closest friend and ally, asked as she appeared from seemingly nowhere. She was good at that. Far better than Adam ever could be.
"For us to fight and die for them." He spat to the side. "Just another arrogant Human." He said the words but in truth, he no longer felt them. Cinder was arrogant that was for sure, but Humanity as a whole? He wasn't sure anymore.
"Hmph. We'll show them, Adam. Shall we get going? That train isn't going to rob itself." Blake smiled. Where once it would have been sly or sarcastic, filled with mirth she hoped to hide, now it was filled with cruelty, not unlike that which Cinder had held.
Where had the girl he loved gone?
"Your right. Let's go." He said, hoping to get this all over with. It felt so tiring to pretend to be some cruel and zealous warrior of the White Fang, but he had no other choice. There was no room for dissenters or traitors, not in the White Fang under Sienna Khan.
A body split in two, bisected at the waist. Adam watched as the last of the Atlesian Knights fell to the floor, no longer functional. Their arrival in the train had gone well, even with the hiccup of jumping into a train car filled with hostile robots.
Blake moved ahead, pulling forth a Dust Explosive and started to rig it to the side of one of the containers.
"We should stop the train and kick the crew off. No nee-"
"Why? Their just Schnee minions. Doesn't matter if they die."
Adam felt a pain in his chest. Was this what the White Fang had turned Blake into? She had followed in his footsteps and now she was so ruthless and cruel. Could he stand by and let it happen? Was his love more important than other peoples lives?
Yes. Yes my love and Blake herself are more important to me than the lives of people I've never known and never will. But… He looked to Blake as she quietly worked on the explosives. Can I continue to love her when she has become a… a monster?
"Blake. They may be Human, but just because they work for the Schnee doesn't make them as bad as the Schnee!" Blake stood and looked at him, her face one of shock and surprise.
"Adam! They work for those who oppress us! They aid the system that hurts us! They deserve all the pain that this brings them, probably more! What happened to your resolve?" She looked so hurt that he felt like agreeing with her instantly and apologizing for his weakness.
But it wasn't a weakness, was it?
Before he could respond they were interrupted by a Spider Droid, falling from the ceiling and slamming down. Adam grabbed Blake and dodged away from its heavy cannon blasts.
Charging out the door and onto an open train car, they cut through a few more Atlesian Knights before turning back for the Spider Droid, which broke through the wall of the train car with no care. It fired it's cannons the moment it saw them again.
Adam blocked the blasts and pulled the energy into Wilt with his Semblance.
"Buy me some time!" He shouted to his partner.
"Do it!" She simply nodded and charged forward. She lept and spun around the machine, slashing Gambol Shroud into its metallic armour. She swung on her ribbon and launched herself onto its face, firing her gun into its neck area.
She lept back as its arms collided together and transformed into a much larger cannon, which charged for a few seconds before firing a beam towards Adam. He drew Wilt partially out of Blush and blocked the beam on it. He felt himself being pushed back for a moment before the beam stopped.
He sheathed Wilt entirely and smiled. The red in his hair and on his clothes began to glow as his Semblance charged to full. The Droid charged ready to crush him under its legs.
The moment it entered range Adam let forth his most powerful attack. For a moment it felt like colour faded from the world, turning into black and red with only the moon as it's usual cold whiteish grey.
The Droid began to disintegrate, leaving behind only black ash that flew off through the wind into the Forever Fall forest. Adam sighed. The Droid was gone. But all wasn't well.
Blake's answers haunted him and even now when he turned she was hard at work setting explosives, not even waiting for him. I… I can't let her remain as this monster! But… she won't listen to me. Not while I would seem like a hypocrite. I… I would have to...
His mind whirled with possibilities. However, he could only see one working. Adam stepped forward and onto the next car. Blake glanced up and gave him a confused look.
"Blake… I can't do this anymore… all we do is hurt people… We have become monsters… and I can't let that stand, not anymore. Come with me Blake, we can start a new life! We can change things without being monsters!" Adam held his hand out, hoping she would take it.
"Adam… you want me to betray the White Fang? You want me to be like my parents?! Adam! The peaceful option never worked! We are getting results this way! You can't have cold feet now, your resolve to do whatever it takes was the reason I followed you!"
"I know…" His hand dropped to the hilt of Wilt and drew the red blade forth. "And I apologize for everything. I will show you, Blake, that we don't have to be monsters to get results. It's the only way I can live with myself now…"
He slashed down, cutting through the connector that held the cars together, and watched as Blake and the White Fang fell back, slowing to a stop while he and the crew continued onwards.
Adam stepped into the next car and hid behind some crates. His mask came off after a moment and fell to the ground. It was followed by tears.
Adam had betrayed everything he once knew.
I have to become something better… A protector of people, rather than a ferocious monster…
The train ride to Vale was long, leaving Adam to wallow in his regrets.
Vale was a beautiful city, almost seeming like it was in perpetual spring or summer. Adam walked through dank alleyways and shadowed streets, hiding from the people of this city. Most didn't know his former allegiance, but some would know and send for the police or Hunstman. It's why he hadn't entered the city before.
Now though there wasn't much choice. Thankfully it wasn't much longer before he arrived in an old, dilapidated building. A White Fang safe house for those in the city and on the run. Nobody was inside, which made all of this much easier.
Adam spent a night there and prepared himself. His mask was dashed against the wall, shattering into pieces. In its place, he covered his scar and brand with a thin cloth. Thick enough to hide his eyes and the damage around them, but thin enough that his eyes could still see, even if it was blurry.
Thankfully he had long ago trained in Aura projection. Every combatant knew the basics of course, but few took it to a high enough level to use it to augment their senses. He used it as a sonar, pinging around him to 'see' objects. That, along with his normal albeit blurred sight, allowed him to move around normally.
Adam left the next morning and did something he never thought he would do, he applied for Beacon Academy. He would become a Huntsman. He would redeem himself and show Blake that there was another option.
He would save her from herself. No matter the cost to himself.
Adam spent the next month dashing between dilapidated and abandoned buildings and White Fang safe houses that were currently unused. He avoided anything that might alert Blake or the White Fang to where he was. Before he knew it, it was time to board the Airship and move on to the next chapter in his life.
It was time for this monster to change.
Beacon Academy was… impressive. Adam had been to many places but nothing was quite as beautiful as Beacon. Large grounds of grass and flowers, trees and nature abound and even the buildings were made of beautifully carved stone.
Adam kept his amazement to himself, unlike the other students - and wasn't that strange to think of himself as one? - who instead gasped and talked to their friends and really any who would listen.
Adam kept to the back of the pack, avoiding the charging mass of teenagers. One particularly gruff-looking ginger human shouldered Adam as he passed, laughing all the while. Adam had to take a minute to breathe and not murder the boy, despite his deepest wishes.
I can't. I have to be better…
Adam took a moment and continued. But it became apparent that life was truly trying to test his resolve. Before him was a girl in white and another girl in red and black. He recognized one of them. How could he not? Weiss Schnee was known to all in the White Fang, because of her father and corporation.
Years spent in the White Fang told him to kill her now and claim a great victory. But he held back. He had too. The pair conversed and then the girl in red and black sneezed over some Dust, causing a small explosion. One of the vials, containing the red Burn Dust, rolled over and stopped in front of him. The symbol of the Schnee Dust Company stared up at him.
His scar itched.
He reached down and grabbed the vial. It would be so easy… just throw it at her and shoot it… He looked at it.
After a moment he sighed and stepped towards them.
"...This isn't your ordinary combat school. It's not just sparring and practice, you know! We're here to fight monsters, so... watch where you're going!" The Schnee spoke in that imperious manner typical of the Atlesian Elite.
The other girl looked fed up as she said: "Hey, I said I was sorry, princess!"
"I'm sure she would prefer to be called Heiress. That is what they call you in Atlas, isn't it? Weiss Schnee, Heiress of the Schnee Dust Company." Adam spoke quietly, keeping his emotions in check.
Weiss smiled with an air of smugness. "Finally! Some recognition." Adam scoffed.
"Don't be smug. After all, while your company is the largest provider of Dust to the world, they are also well known their mistreatment of their labourers. Especially Faunus." He placed the vial into Weiss' hand. "This isn't the kind of place where politics are going to aid you, Schnee."
The girl seemed to finally notice the horns on his head, for she stepped back in slight shock, obviously worried.
"H-h-how dare you!" She stammered.
Adam just scoffed and left, heading towards the main building. He let out a frustrated sigh once he was out of earshot. I let myself get carried away. Talking down to a Schnee? Am I looking for trouble?
He shook his head and followed the crowd into a large auditorium. It wasn't long before it was hard to move around due to the sheer amount of bodies.
It was then that Headmaster Ozpin walked on stage.
Glynda Goodwitch, Professor and apparently the head Combat Instructor, lead the procession of students into the Ballroom where they were left to set up bedding and sleep, to prepare for the initiation the next day.
Most set up in groups but Adam set himself up in one of the corners, back to the wall and ready to defend himself, even with Wilt and Blush locked up for the night. The burly man from before had shown he wasn't friendly to Faunus, and would likely do something to him during the night if he wasn't prepared.
Leaning back Adam thought of the moments that lead to this circumstance. The Train, the woman who came to his camp, the various missions over the last three years. Adam remembered them all, but what he remembered most was the quiet moments with Blake. The whispered conversations and the joy they found with each other. Then he remembered the time she killed a man, and how he was so proud of her.
It sickened him now, that he let it happen. That kill had been all it took for her to follow him down the path of bloodshed. One poor SDC guards life was all it took for the sweet, sarcastic and idealistic girl to turn into a zealot willing to kill any in her way.
But why was he so sickened for her to turn into that, but so uncaring about his own change?
"Hel-looooo! I believe you two may know each other?" A blonde girl said as she appeared in front of him, dragging another girl behind her.
"Aren't you the girl the Schnee was yelling at?"
The red and black-haired girl nodded. "Uh, yup! The names Ruby but you can just call me Crater… Actually Ruby is fine." She smiled and rubbed the back of her head.
"Right…" Adam drew out the word and just stared at them, not that they could see his eyes. "Anything else?"
The blonde whispered angrily at Ruby, who whispered back just as mad. They turned back to him smiling.
"Sooo… what's your name?" The blonde asked.
"I'm Adam." He sighed.
"Well, Adam, I'm Yang, Ruby's older sister! I like your… mask!"
"It goes great with your… pajamas!" Adam looked down at his simple shirt and pants.
"Nice night, don't you think?" The blonde asked.
"I guess… Are you going to keep asking these questions, or can I go back to my thoughts?"
The blonde turned away and muttered something. But the other girl, Ruby, didn't.
"What are you thinking about?" She sounded… actually interested?
"I-... Just about being a Huntsman I suppose."
"Hm. I've always wanted to be a Huntress. Ever since Yang told me all those stories before bed. Stories of heroes and monsters… It's one of the reasons I wanted to be a Huntress."
"Wanted to be just like the stories? Wanted a happily ever after?"
"Well, I'm hoping we all will. As a girl, I wanted to be just like those heroes in the books... Someone who fought for what was right, and protected people who couldn't protect themselves!" She smiled at that. She looked… proud?
"That's... naive… Ambitious but naive. Our world isn't a forgiving one." He looked to the floor. "It isn't like some fairy tale…"
"Well, that's why we're here! To make it better."
"Oh, I'm so proud of my baby sister!" The blonde interrupted and the pair began to fight between themselves. Adam sighed and pulled his blankets over himself as someone threw a pillow at the girls.
This… wasn't at all what he had expected.
Ozpin watched through the cameras as the children went to sleep.
"I still don't think it was a good idea letting him in Ozpin. He's a terrorist!" Glynda Goodwitch said, watching the feed on her Scroll.
"Was a terrorist." He countered, sipping from his mug.
"You actually believe he wants to change? He has killed Ozpin!"
"Your care for the students is admirable Glynda, but I do trust he wants to change. If you are so worried, keep an eye on him. If he wishes to harm our students then I'm sure you can catch it."
"I… I'll watch him. He won't harm any of my students."
"Thank you, Glynda. We should always give people the chance to change, to redeem themselves. It's what separates us from the monsters." He stood from his clockwork chair and stepped to the window, taking a long sip from his mug.
I'm going to need more hot chocolate…
A/N: And so we come to the end of the first chapter. This is gonna be a ride. I've done my best to keep both Adam and Blake as close to their canon counterparts as much as possible. Obviously, some change was necessary for this to work and make sense and over time that will all be revealed. See ya next time!