Go we here.

Cover Art: Mysterywhiteflame

Chapter 22

The warehouse got busy quickly. The four of them were sat in a circle with a series of laptops, going over the various cameras and talking quietly to one another to pass the time. When they'd first been told their job would be to watch and track the White Fang Jaune had imagined being cramped into a corner with his heart racing as dangerous terrorists walked by in front of them. The reality was far more mundane – but in a good way. They were safe and sound a healthy distance away watching through cameras.

Why put their lives at risk when they could use a couple of gadgets?

"I guess we can count Perry as having rolled then," said Flynt. "And oh look – it's Roman Torchwick again. Man, I deserve a raise for tagging his vehicle."

"We're not being paid."

"Yeah. Shit, ain't it? We should complain."

"Atlas paying us would leave a paper trail," said Jaune. "Though I'm sure if this all works out that they'd be more than happy to compensate us in other ways. Hell, we might get to keep our dorms for the rest of our time in the academy for preventing an international crisis."

"Counting our eggs before they've hatched, aren't we?" teased Neon.

"I mean, we're on top of this. We're kicking the crap out of this." Flynt laughed, and Jaune couldn't help but agree. "And look – Torchwick and his cronies are moving in some big-ass thing covered in sheets. Hundred lien says that's the weapon we're looking for. Are Warden seeing this?"

"We are," came the voice. "And I won't be taking that bet, Cadet Coal, because we're certain that's it as well. Good job on locating it."

Jaune felt his heart swell. "Is Atlas going to move in and take it?"

"Not at this time."

"What? Why?"

"It would require a confrontation, and in a civilian area no less, and that weapon if powered – and I expect it is – could prove devastating. We're not saying we won't strike, cadet, only that we'll be picking a more opportune time and place. A rally filled with people is not that."

Jaune swallowed his disappointment, then pushed it even further down. Warden knew best, and he had to admit it was excitement talking more than sound sense. "Right. You want us to find out where it's being stored, then?"

"Yes. And what their plans are. That's another reason we can't strike now. Torchwick is going to be talking to all these faunus and he's going to have to expand on some of their goals to get them on board. Reclaiming the weapon is our primary goal, but things will still go poorly for us if the White Fang commit terrorism in Vale. He's brought it here to show off to them – there's no other reason. That almost certainly means he's going to need to explain its purpose. Otherwise, what's the point of having it here?"

No action, then. Not tonight, anyway. Jaune would be lying if he said he wasn't a little disappointed. He didn't want to go in there and fight himself, but it would have been fun to watch Atlas hit the place like a meteorite, arrest Torchwick, reclaim their weapon, and send the White Fang scattering into the wind. It was a little surprising how much he wanted to see that, and the little pride he felt at the idea of Vale being forced to admit Atlas had made it happen. Given he was himself a citizen of Vale and only a student in Atlas, he wasn't sure what that pleased him so.

"Anything we need to do, then?" asked Flynt. "You want us to tag that vehicle while it's outside?"

"That wouldn't be a bad call," replied Warden. "We have its plates and intend to track its ownership and follow it using CCTV we can hack into, but a second line of defence certainly isn't a bad idea. Wait until the rally begins in earnest, though. The last thing we want is for you to spook them into rescheduling."

It was decided that Neon would be the one to go set the tracker up, and mostly because if she was spotted then she could claim a late arrival as a faunus. It was yet another case of her heritage informing the decision, but she seemed fine about it in this case. He figured that was because she wasn't being asked to infiltrate or pretend to be something she wasn't. Penny slipped her a tracker which she stored on her person, and then they got down to watch the show.

Faunus continued to slip into the building, arriving confidently at first and then nervously at the end. Those who came last were obviously the least sold on the ideology, and were probably there to be convinced. There was a lot of nervous looking around, second-guessing, and a few even decided against it at the last and slipped away after seeing the calibre of people there. The White Fang didn't try and stop them. They needed loyal recruits after all and couldn't take the risk of those people backing out at a critical junction. Still, it was a good sign that not all of them were so reckless as to go through with this. Getting angry was easy, making bad decisions while angry was easier, but most people would realise they were bad decision once the white-hot rage faded. And if not? Well, they'd recognise it was a bad choice when he and Neon showed up at their door to threaten them with arrest.

"Looks like everyone who is going to leave has left," said Penny. "It is good that they were able to realise their mistakes and avoid breaking any laws. Will they get in trouble?"

"They haven't done anything and it's none of our business. If this were Atlas then we might ID them and send their details covertly to anti-terrorist authorities, but only to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't slip. We don't have that jurisdiction here, nor do we want to expand that kind of effort. Vale is an ally but they have their own ways of dealing with things."

"Yeah, and it's called ignoring it and hoping it'll go away if this is anything to go by." said Flynt. Warden's only response was to chuckle down the line. Vale really had dropped the ball here, and it was going to blow back in Atlas' face at this rate.

"AH!" cried Penny, suddenly anxious. "Problem!"

"What?" asked Jaune, glancing her way. "What's wrong?" Penny was pointing at the screen and he slid over to have a look. Her camera was looking over the audience from an angle off to the right, and he couldn't see much beyond a sea of masked faces. Penny was pointing at one area specifically. "What is it? I can't see what you're seeing."

"That's friend Ruby's teammate!"

Flynt glanced over. "They're terrorists? Damn, that girl's going to be devastated."

"No! Blake is obsessed with stopping the White Fang and is the one responsible for the explosive fight on the docks." Penny was biting her lip nervously. "And Ruby told me that Blake had shown an obsession with finding what Torchwick and the White Fang were doing in Vale and putting a stop to it."

"Oh," said Neon.

"-shit," finished Flynt. "Wait, but didn't you say they were busy tonight?"

"R-Ruby told me she and her team were doing girl things in Vale. Did she lie?"

Obviously. Jaune groaned and pressed the transmitter. "Did you catch all that, Warden?"

"We did. This is bad. We can cross reference her name for an ID but if she is here to cause trouble then she's found the perfect place for it."

"Is it really a problem if they do our work for us?" asked Neon.

"If they stopped the rally, captured Torchwick and disarmed the weapon, then no. Of course not. But how likely is all that to happen without a fight? If Torchwick is provoked and uses the weapon then even if they take it down, the fallout will land directly on our shoulders. We cannot have that weapon put to use inside an allied city – and we need to know what the White Fang are planning. Well-meaning or not, they could completely ruin this operation."

Jaune wanted to swear. He didn't. "What do we do?"

"You need to prevent any interruptions and get them out. Cadet Katt-"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it." Neon hissed under her breath and reached into her bag. A white porcelain mask came out. "Send the faunus in to pretend to be a terrorist. What can I say to her? I doubt she's going to comply, and we can't have details of this leak."

"Can they be trusted to stay silent?"

"Unconfirmed," replied Jaune. "They seem trustworthy but also… uh… blunt? Forward? I think they'd demand to be a part of the operation, and I get the feeling that patience isn't their strongest suit. They'd jump into a fight at the first opportunity."

"Then they're not joining the operation. Katt, get in there and keep her busy. We don't care how but we a) cannot have her interrupt the speech and b) cannot have her attack Torchwick and push him to use the weapon. Cadet Arc, you're putting the tracker on the vehicle. Coal and Polendina, remain as recon but be ready to intervene if the rest of the girl's team arrives. Keep them away by whatever means necessary."

"Yes sir."


Jaune and Neon jogged quietly across the street and stopped by a low wall. Neon had her mask on and her hair down to look at least a little different to how she usually did. It wasn't a great disguise but they lacked the time.

"Will you be okay?" asked Jaune. "I know it's not fair – and after I promised you wouldn't have to go undercover…"

"You promised," said Neon. "But I knew you wouldn't be able to keep it if they asked. It's fine." She flashed a smile. "I appreciate you trying either way. Plus, it's not like this was planned. Bloody Valeans can't keep their nose out of trouble, can they?"

"We should have known after the fiasco at the docks."

"Yeah. Welp." Neon took a deep breath. "Here I go. I'll keep the guards on the entrance busy."

Neon hurried out of hiding with a nervous gait, and approached the two White Fang guards at the entrance. They stopped her but didn't look too suspicious or angry. Neon started talking quickly, moving her hands up and down as if in sheer embarrassment. It drew their attention further onto her, and let Jaune slip around the other way and continue down the low wall without being seen. Even if faunus had night vision, shadows were still better to stick to. They could pick out light in poor conditions and he'd probably still stand out if caught, but it was stupid to assume faunus could, or would, catch every little thing. The important part was not being too loud.

He heard the sound of the metal gate being pulled back open to let Neon in, and then shut behind her. How would she stop Blake causing trouble without revealing herself? He had no idea, and hoped Neon could come up with something. There wasn't much else to do but trust her. Moving on, he ducked low behind some old crates and peeked out at the truck Torchwick had brought the weapon in on. He wasn't even going to hear and see the speech inside at this rate.

There was a driver at the truck, human, stood leaning against the cabin with a cigarette in his mouth. He had his eyes on his scroll, the illumination from the screen lighting up his face as he watched some video or amused himself online. For all that Torchwick was working with the faunus, he obviously didn't trust them to work for him. Telling. It had him wondering just why they were aligned, though he supposed they'd find that out after reviewing the rally speech inside. Jaune crept out and stuck close to the warehouse, focusing more on not making any noise than not being seen. In video games he'd throw a rock to make noise, but even if the guy was dumb enough to walk off and look that way, he'd be alerted and do a full circle of the truck to make sure there weren't any problems.

Sliding along the metal wall, he heard voices raised inside – not violently, thank goodness. He kept side-stepping until the back of the truck was between him and the driver, and then nervously crept forward checking every before putting weight on it. As he got closer he heard little 8-bit sounds and cheery music suggesting the driver was playing a game on his scroll. Hopefully that'd keep him busy. Crouching low at the back of the truck, Jaune knelt and took the sticky putty and put it on the back of the numberplate, then pushed the tracker into it and held it there for thirty seconds.

He hoped Neon was having good luck inside.


"-too long have you been put down, mistreated and oppressed by the humans – by people like me!"

Neon would give it to Torchwick that he had a good voice, along with a wicked sense of humour. Only he would dare take the piss out the audience as he was rallying them, and she couldn't believe more people weren't calling him out for it. Herd mentality. When there were this many people, it was hard to be the one to speak out.

That wasn't an excuse for terrorism. These were her people, her species, and they were making life close-to-impossible for the rest of them across Remnant. Yeah, people were racist. It sucked. It could be changed, though. They could get more faunus into politics, change laws, and make a difference. But no, they picked up guns and became terrorists, which was all the ammunition the people putting them down needed to point and say "See? This is why we can't trust the faunus!"

None of that mattered now. Neon festered at the mask on her face, and at being the one to be sent in, but she couldn't blame her team for it. At least Jaune knew, and the guy wore his heart on his sleeve. He'd look so freaking agonised at her being asked to do this that she'd almost wanted to laugh. Almost. It's the mission, she told herself. And it's not like we expected someone else from Beacon to be sneaking in here. Man, life would be easier if she actually was a terrorist and was just here to listen to the rally. Fat chance of that if these were the exact two who started an all-out battle royale with Torchwick at the docks, however.

"-and that will soon change. I present to you, a gift from the White Fang that we will use to show those racists what's coming to them!" Torchwick gestured behind him. "Behold!"

The tarp came down. Neon froze. They'd known it was a weapon, and they'd known it was a vehicle, but holy shit it was a huge robot. Bristling with weapons, too. Neon gulped as she identified a few and put together what kind of damage they could do in a civilian environment. The Atlas symbol had been painted over by the White Fang's emblem but everyone would know this was Atlas tech. It just had that angular look about it.

And if this girl sets him off and gets him nervous, he's going to whip it out to fight her off.

Even if they somehow won, it'd be a shitshow for Atlas. There was no doubting Vale's Council would blame it on them for losing the thing, and they still wouldn't have any idea what Torchwick and the White Fang were planning. Teeth gritted, Neon slid through the crowds toward Blake and her friend. Maybe they wouldn't do anything stupid. Maybe they had the same idea – watch, wait, and gather information. Maybe she wouldn't need to intervene.

The crowd began to cheer as Roman presented the huge machine. On the stage, another, smaller girl with pink hair crossed her arms and stood off to the side of him. An accomplice or a bodyguard of some sort. Neon trusted they'd be able to get some intelligence on her later once the camera footage could be analysed. Neon had just managed to slide up behind Blake and Sun when Torchwick looked right at her.


Right at them.

"He sees us," said the money faunus.

Yeah, no shit, thought Neon. You're practically wearing the exact same clothing you wore at the docks and all she did was switch into a new outfit of the exact same colours!


"He can't see in the dark," said Blake, drawing her weapon, taking aim, and shooting out a fuse box.

As actions went, it had to be the most pointless Neon had ever seen. Sure, Torchwick and his friend might not be able to see well in the dark, but every other faunus could, and it wasn't like no one had a torch on their scroll, or that it was pitch black outside. Light still filtered in through windows, so it was closer to gloomy than pure darkness.

"Don't let them escape!" roared Torchwick.

Neon considered stopping them for a moment – she really did. Trip Blake up, let her be captured, and keep the mission parameters active. Only for a second, though. The White Fang would kill to keep this hidden, and she couldn't have that on her conscience. Neon thumbed a flash under her skirt instead, slipped the pin out and tossed it up into the air, turning at the last second. Casting the warehouse into darkness was cute and all, but those two really ought to look for solutions a little more applicable to all people within the area.

When the flashbang went off, the white light had faunus and human alike screaming and falling to the ground. Neon took the moment to press the device in her ear and bark out: "We've gone hot! The idiots got rumbled!"


Crap, crap, crap.

It was all Penny and Flynt could do to watch as Ruby's teammate came crashing out a window with her friend and sprinted off, and as White Fang poured out after them. They'd hardly gotten anything from the rally, and now the White Fang had been provoked into action. Penny was about ready to jump out and help when Flynt yanked her back.

"Chill. They should be able to get away." He touched his comms. "Neon, what's the status on the stolen tech? Tell me Torchwick isn't thinking of using it."


"Fuuuuck. Warden! Advice, please!"

"We cannot let that weapon be used in the city!" shouted Warden. "Damn idiots interfering! Katt, slow it down. I don't care how. Specialist Schnee is being dispatched, and to hell with our cover. Arc, Coal, Polendina. You have the freedom to do what you think you have to – just prevent that thing from getting out this district and toward a busier part of the city."

"Y-Yes sir!"

"I'm going in," said Penny. "Neon needs help."

She was gone before Flynt could stop her. He groaned and set his laptop down, then drew out his own instrument. "You catch that, Jaune?"

"Yeah, I caught it. I've taken down the driver." He was breathing heavily. "Get here quick – I have an idea. I'm around the left side. Hurry."

Good on him. Jaune might not know it, but he was leader for a reason. Flynt vaulted the wall and sprinted past the numerous faunus running away. Some were doing as they'd been told and chasing the two from Beacon, but most were just running. They were spooked, afraid of being caught, and convinced the rally had been found out. Many would probably run home, stash their masks, and clench their butts for days to come dreading a knock on the door.

Fighting past them he sprinted around the back end of the warehouse just as Penny charged in and cut down the front entrance. Neon wouldn't be alone for long but he still worried for his partner – she was cocky, and he didn't want to see that come to bite her. Flynt quickly found Jaune at the cabin of a flatbed truck, a downed man at his feet. There was no blood.

"Flynt!" he barked. "Can you drive this?"

The truck? Flynt gave it look. His lessons hadn't covered logistical vehicles yet but if it had a wheel, a stick, and a pedal then it'd be close enough. "Yeah, sure. You want me to ram him? This cabin will crumple like paper, and he'll blow me sky high if he opens fire."

Jaune shook his head. "I want you to go in backwards and take his feet out from under him."

Doable. Well, still risky as fuck, but at least it'd be the lower back-end of the vehicle making the impact and not the cabin. He wouldn't need to worry about being pinned inside when the walls and ceiling crumpled around him.

"Get that door open," said Flynt, catching the keys Jaune had taken off the man and climbing in. The thing was older than his gran, but everything looked in place. He disengaged the handbrake and clamped down on the brakes, ignited the engine and began revving the engine, then leaned his arm and shoulder back out the driver side window to see. "Go. I'm ready whenever!"

Jaune threw his weight into the metal door and wrenched it open. It went slow at first, then picked up speed on its aged wheels and opened wide. The big-ass robot was already on its feet and using red lasers to locate and track Penny and Neon. The latter was skating around just doing her best to keep it from locking on while Penny tried, in vain, to damage it with her flying knives.

Time for me to do my part… Yanking the gear back into reverse, he slammed his foot down on the accelerator and lurched back. The eighteen-wheeler squealed and threatened to jacknife itself, but he spun and twisted the wheel left and right to keep it as even as he could. Come on. Come on.

Torchwick opened up his minigun at Penny and stared carving the shots through concrete floor after her as she dodged. One of the robot's large legs slammed down to brace itself as it turned to follow her, exposing its back to Flynt. That cockpit must have been awfully loud inside with that weapon going, which was why Torchwick didn't hear the truck coming.

"Got you!" howled Flynt.

The back end of the truck slammed into the back of what would have been the vehicle's shin. The flat back platform it had once laid on bit low, and while it didn't breach armour it did hit with enough force to push the feet forward. A human would have adjusted, stumbled, or thrown a hand back to steady itself, but this wasn't a person – it was a machine. It had programming and it was piloted, and whatever Torchwick was, he wasn't a professional Atlesian mech pilot. The vehicle toppled and tilted, and when its other leg slid back to try and steady itself, that too hit the truck.

The mass of metal hung precariously, drifting back until, with an almighty crash, it fell backwards onto the vehicle. It didn't lay still. Its guns kept firing and punched holes in the roof, and a missile that had presumably been meant for Penny whooshed up and struck a girder, bringing it down in a blast and making it bounce off the cockpit and away. The vehicle, or more likely its pilot, was stunned. The impact must have sent Torchwick reeling in the cockpit.

Flynt's celebrations were cut off by the sound of shattering glass to his left as two heeled boots came through the passenger window. The girl, short, landed in the seat beside him, unsheathed a narrow blade and stabbed it right at his neck. Flynt only just managed to lean forward to let it sail by, nicking his collar, but the girl used that moment to plant her feet against him and shove with all her might. The door smacked open, and Flynt toppled out, able to briefly see her take the wheel and start the engine.

"Let them go!" shouted Jaune, a moment before the truck tore out the warehouse with the mech on its back. Flynt personally thought he wasn't in much of a position to stop them anyway, but he heeded the order regardless. "That truck is tracked. They'll take us right to where the thing is being stored and we can capture it without the risk of someone piloting it." He then turned away and called that in to Warden, speaking under his breath. Though Flynt didn't hear Jaune's words, he did get the feedback from Warden.

"We have the vehicle on track and it's moving away from civilian areas and likely to a hiding point. Good work. If that thing had gotten out onto the freeway and into the city then we'd have had a disaster on our hands."

"We weren't able to get the full details on what they're planning because of interference," said Flynt.

"We have something to work from and with any luck the mole will provide further context. The four of you are to retreat immediately. Specialist Schnee will make excuses for why she is here, but you cannot be found in the area. Leave the surveillance equipment. The footage has been downloaded and we'll scrub the rest clean. We have what we came for."

"S-Sorry we couldn't capture the mech," said Flynt, still a little dizzy.

"Capturing it isn't your job. Locating it and preventing it running amok are, and the four of you have done that superbly tonight. Rest assured that Atlas is pleased with your performance. I'm sure General Ironwood will be as well. Now get out of there before Winter arrives. Go out and get drunk. It's a Friday night. Have another alibi."

"Sir, yes sir!"


Not having much in the way of ideas, they ended up going with Warden's idea of just visiting a nightclub – the same one that Flynt and Neon had before. It turned out there'd been a narrowly averted fight in another on the same road, and it was closed for the night. Jaune set four drinks down on the table and sat. He'd been to a few teen discos in his time but never a nightclub proper. Ansel did have one that he knew of, but it was less of a club and more of a village hall converted into one on Friday nights, and you had to be eighteen or over to go.

"Cheers," said Neon. They all clinked their bottles to hers. "To a damn good job tonight – despite the chaos. We did what we came for, avoided trouble, and completed the mission. That makes us big damn heroes."

"Shame about his accomplice," said Flynt. "We had it on that truck. Imagine Winter's face if she showed up and we had Torchwick in cuffs and the mech just laid out on the truck ready for her to take away."

They all laughed. Jaune personally doubted Winter would show her surprise even if she felt it, and she'd have played along and simply told them they'd done a good job. Still, it was funny to imagine her with her jaw on the floor like some childish cartoon.

"I just got a message from Ruby," said Penny, checking her scroll. "Apparently, they're in trouble again. Something about her sister being caught with a passenger on her motorbike that wasn't wearing a helmet, and she let slip something about having been trying to find the White Fang. Their teacher has given them another week's worth of detention. Also, her sister has been given points on her license."

"All four? Wasn't it just the blonde who broke the law?"

"Apparently, there was camera footage of Blake at the warehouse caught on CCTV."

Bullshit. Warden had disabled anything that might have seen them- oh. Jaune winced. "Warden dumped them in it, didn't they? They needed an excuse for why Winter was out in that area, and they had our used footage showing Blake caught in the crowd. I bet they laid that over the CCTV and used it to frame her so there wouldn't be any suspicion on us or Atlas."

Neon snorted. "I mean, can you really say she was framed when she was very much there? It's not like she didn't do any of the things she's got in trouble for. Besides, this is good. Maybe it'll keep them off our backs and out our business."

That was true, but Jaune still felt bad. "They were just trying to help."

"Helping is going to the proper authorities or reporting a known terrorist rally to the police, Jaune. Or, in our cases, reporting it to our superiors. Going in alone and starting a fight that could have had that mech running rampant on a busy Friday night is not helping. It's reckless endangerment and holding a vendetta." Neon, as always, was uncompromising when it came to the White Fang. "I don't doubt they're good girls and all, but the last time they tried to help they blew up a dock, torched millions in dust, got you, Penny and Ciel into danger, and didn't even capture Torchwick. That's not helpful."

"I guess. It still feels a little unfair of us…"

"You and your bleeding heart. Penny, take him to the dancefloor."


"Orders received!" Penny's hand clamped around his wrist. Jaune was yanked off his stool a moment later. "I am boogie-ready! Let us dance the night away!"

Just a reminder this is Neon bashing RWBY, not me. From an Atlas PoV, with Atlas interests (i.e. the last thing they want is the canon occurrence where it appeared in public and wreaked havoc) the actions taken by Team RWBY are catastrophically bad.

Outside of this fic, yeah, anyone would rather Team RWBY take it out of commission then terrorists have it. But the point is people could have died, and that's a disaster Atlas can't allow.

Also, I had to refresh my memory and go watch the rally on youtube to spot that Neptune doesn't wear a helmet when he and Yang are blitzing down that motorway after the robot. xD Amusingly, Yang has goggles on so she can see against the wind, and Neptune has goggles too – but he wears them on his forehead even at that speed. Bro, please!

Next Chapter: 11th March

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