Adam Taurus was angry.
It wasn't surprising, as he was the first to admit that, when faced with a difficult choice, he had a tendency to default into a fiery spectrum of emotions.
Also to be fair, with the life he lived, he had a lot to be angry about.
The horrible treatment he had suffered in mining camps that left his eye a disfigured mess, the endless discrimination both he and his race suffered while everyone with even a shred of authority closed their eyes to their plight, the pointless pacifism of old White Fang that believed they could change things with brochures and peaceful protests, and Sienna's unnecessarily political approach that didn't seem to be working any better…
Yet, none of those problems were the main reason. The biggest source was the fact that his semblance was linked to his emotions, and its combat applications were almost exclusively driven by his anger, forcing him to stay angry to perform his best.
Constantly fighting against the impossible odds, he needed every single edge he could get, no matter how much of a psycho it made him be. To optimize it, he had cultivated a unique mental space, immersing himself in cold anger that gave him power but didn't impede his decision-making.
However, as he traversed the streets of Vale, he had well past that point. His anger was boiling, searching for a way to explode. Most would have assumed that it was about the sudden departure of his lover a few weeks ago.
Disappearing without a word.
It was insulting, certainly, not only because of the abandonment, but because it implied that she didn't trust him to let her go if she said that she wanted to return. Like Adam was a monster that would kill her for that.
Though, considering what she had done, maybe she wasn't too wrong. Returning to Menagerie would have been no problem, but she went and joined Beacon.
Even joined a team with the heiress of SDC, the biggest bane of the Faunus-kind.
But no, much to what people assumed, Blake's disappearance just annoyed and frustrated him. Ultimately, even as they shared their dream and their bed, Adam was aware that Blake and he were built differently. She was the closest thing the Faunus had to a princess, and had an easy life, not like the torture he received in the mines.
His anger was about a different woman.
He had no idea about her identity, her faction, and her aims. She just popped into existence one moment, bringing a great deal of money and weapons with her that they horribly needed, but it was the great power she displayed that made their cooperation possible.
Or, more accurately, she forced them to work for him, the threat of violence making it less of an alliance and more of a forced form of slavery. Adam wanted to fight back, but losing most of his allies in a pointless fight was not what he wanted.
Though, when she requested them to go and rob the dust stores all along the Vale, like they were nothing but a bunch of greedy thieves like most people claimed, he was tempted to kill her.
The fact that she actually asked them to follow one of the most garbage humans Adam had the displeasure of meeting only made it worse.
It was insulting and unbearable.
Too bad Cinder was too strong for a direct strike.
All because of her Semblance.
Semblances had always been unbalanced, and considering Adam had been one of the luckier ones, he knew he didn't complain. However, Cinder's semblance was strong beyond belief, making that even a successful ambush didn't promise anything more than a pyrrhic victory.
Of course, that didn't dissuade Adam.
If insurmountable odds had been enough to dissuade Adam from trying to take revenge, he would have been still working in an SDC mine in the middle of nowhere, making the Schnee family even richer as he slowly died.
Revenge was not a smooth journey, and letting his anger quicken his steps promised disaster.
He had already caught evidence of direct communication between Sienna and Cinder after Cinder's forcible intrusion, which meant he couldn't fully trust the members of White Fang under him, who might betray him for Sienna.
Adam always knew Sienna was a political animal, and while he was able to act in impunity because he was the best fighter that was still a part of the White Fang, that was before Cinder's appearance, destroying the balance.
Sienna would love to get rid of him before his reputation developed to a point that would allow him to stake his leadership claim.
It was the reason he was going through the streets of Vale in the middle of the day while trying to look nondescript with a worn-out cape, alone.
Not just to make Cinder pay, but also to make sure he wouldn't end up riddled with bullets in a dark alley, ambushed by his fellow Faunus. He knew that even under his men, there were many that would have been willing to commit to such an act for the promises of a quicker promotion.
Faunus was not exactly a monolith. If they had been, they would have long thrown the yokes of oppression.
He stayed silent as he walked, making sure he wasn't being followed until he arrived at his destination.
A bookstore, empty other than the owner, a familiar face. "How can I help you?" asked the owner.
"Hi, Tukson," Adam murmured as he let the cape slide down, revealing his face, doing his best to keep his smirk down as Tukson blanched. He might not hate Tukson, but he didn't like him enough not to enjoy his display of fear. He also noted that despite his obvious fear, Tukson made no attempt of raising his claw, knowing a hopeless battle when he saw one.
"So, you're my executioner," he murmured resignedly, trying to look brave despite his white face.
"Calm down," Adam ordered, not surprised by his question. He wouldn't kill him, of course, but he had deliberately cultivated a reputation for being merciless. It was more useful than actually killing people. "I had two years to kill you if I actually wanted to kill you." Adam took a step forward, looking around. "Really, a bookstore where you met new people every day? Is this the best you can do to stay hidden?"
Tukson looked at him incredulously, unable to say anything for a while. "So, you're not here to kill me."
Adam sighed. While his violent reputation was useful —and not entirely unearned— sometimes it became a true chore. "No, Tukson. If I wanted to kill you for wanting to hang your weapon, I wouldn't send Shemp and Curly to track you down."
"But you still made them hunt me down," Tukson said, though this time much relaxed.
"Of course I did. I was a new leader, and your reluctance was already known. Why do you think Sienna put you on my team. She either wanted me to kill you to paint me as a fanatic, or let you go to paint me a softhearted fool. Why do you think I sent you a patrol for a week with Sienna's old boyfriend as your partner. In that way, I managed to avoid the situation by looking like a green leader, while Sienna shared the blame for her boy toy's fuck up."
Tukson looked truly shocked.
Adam sighed. Just like his bloodthirsty reputation, his reputation for directness was also useful. But it would have been nice that once in a while, people bothered to ask why such a violent and short-tempered man was the most successful team leader in White Fang both in terms of mission success and survival rates by a great margin.
Personal combat power was useful, but it had its limits.
"Why are you here, then?" Tukson asked.
"I need your help."
"No," Tukson replied immediately and resolutely. "Even when I left, I was unhappy with the new White Fang. Now that it has fallen low enough to help human thieves robbing stores, there's no way I help you, not even if you kill me."
Adam felt a sudden red curtain falling into his view. He lashed out, barely managing to target the counter instead of Tukson's face, breaking it into pieces. "You think I want my comrades to follow the orders of a two-bit thug," Adam bellowed angrily, before he took a deep breath and contained himself. Anger was not useful. "I hate it, and I want to stop it. That's why I need your help."
"What?" Tukson said, shocked.
"It's a bit complicated, and more you know, more dangerous it will be for you, but I need to do something before White Fang's reputation in Vale is ruined completely," Adam said. "These human thieves have a backer strong enough to threaten the whole chapter here, and I can't take her down without risking everyone's lives, and even then, it's not certain."
Tukson looked at him suspiciously. "If things are as bad as you say, why doesn't headquarters help. You might be one of the best currently active, but a few more experts should be enough to clean up whatever problem you're having."
"Unless Sienna is willing to sacrifice the mission in Vale to get rid of me," Adam explained.
"Do you think she would be that ruthless," Tukson asked, shocked. "I know that she's not the nicest person, but…"
"I'm sure Ghira and Kali trusted her and believed that she wouldn't risk their mission for power, but now that it ended for them," Adam said. "But before he finally stepped down, Ghira survived six assassination attempts by humans, while his location was supposed to be a secret, while White Fang lost several key members who, coincidentally, would support Ghira no matter what. Do you think she would bat an eyelash to make me vanish when the risk for her leadership outweighs the benefits?"
"She's that ruthless? That means you're in a big danger," Tukson said, the level of concern he displayed surprising Adam.
Adam shrugged. "I don't have a problem with danger, as long as I could see a path for victory, which I can't. That's why I need you to keep your ears open to get me some information. I need you, Tukson, to save the soul of the White Fang," he said, making sure to let his tone shift deeper as he spoke, using his public speaking skills to make Tukson take the leap of faith.
"What kind of information," Tukson said, still trying to sound disinterested, but Adam knew that he had his first recruit for his dangerous game. Just from the way his posture shifted, Adam could read that he was almost sold on the idea.
"Roman Torchwick has the priority for the moment. He's the point man for my forced allies, and it'll make things much easier if I can just get rid of him, or convince him to stay away," Adam explained.
"You don't want me to poke around for his mysterious employer," Tukson said, surprised.
Adam sighed. "If I wanted to kill you, Tukson, I wouldn't bother with such things, and kill you directly."
Tukson winced. "That dangerous?"
"Worse," Adam confirmed. He would have loved someone to research Cinder, but it was also certain to end up in a violent death. And Adam didn't earn his reputation by sending his allies on desperate missions. "Just collect everything you could about Roman, and we will decide from there," he added, deliberately implying that Tukson would be a part of the decision-making process.
"I still need to know more," Tukson said, and Adam started explaining, giving most of what he knew about Cinder and her allies, including their looks and demeanor, with a strong recommendation to run away the moment he saw them around. If Adam didn't trust himself to take them with a team, what chance did Tukson have?
They talked for an hour, discussing various plans and contingencies, before Tukson asked. "When do you think you can visit next?"
"I don't know, but it'll definitely take more than a week," Adam answered, and Tukson nodded silently. But he said nothing else. Adam took that as a signal to leave. It was an unkind reaction, but at this point, Adam was aware that he had pushed him too much already.
He turned and left, hoping that his gambit would be successful.
Author notes. Hello, everyone. Here is yet another story, this time with a bit more story driven. I'm sorry to post yet another one before finishing the others, but sometimes, it's really impossible to reject the call of the muse.
In this story, we'll see a different Adam. Still an aggressive and domineering one, but reasonably less racist and markedly more intelligent, unlike the ridiculous shift that he had in the canon.
Of course, like my other stories, expect a lot of lemons.