Disclaimer: I, as per usual, own absolutely nothing related to RWBY. I am simply having fun with the characters for my own amusement.
Author's note: This is a continuation of the AU I started in The Best Laid Plans, so I suppose this would count as a sequel? It's not exactly a direct sequel, since you don't need to read the first fic to really get what's going on here, but if you'd like to take a look at it I won't complain! There's also Moczo's contribution to the AU, For Better or Norse, which focuses on Nora and Ren. You should read it! It's good!
Blake Belladonna woke up feeling warm, and woke up to the sound of silence. She knew immediately that something was wrong.
The warmth was not unusual. As an agent of Beacon, someone who had been with the organization now for a few years, Blake was used to napping before a mission; it was, often, the only sleep she got for the night. When her sleeping options included the window of a company car or the soft body of her working partner, assuming that kind of closeness, she would always choose to sleep snuggled into her partner. And when her options for warmth were turning on the car's heating system or simply curling into a pure-blooded dragon, nine times out of ten she would choose the dragon.
So the warmth was something she was used to. In her three years at Beacon, Blake had often fallen asleep against her partner. They had the kind of friendship where that level of intimacy was acceptable.
What was unusual, however, was the silence.
Blake didn't say anything at first, waiting to see if Yang would notice that she was awake. But the level of tension in the blonde's body didn't decrease, and she didn't say a word. Finally, the black-haired woman sighed, opening her eyes. "Are you sick?" she asked. "This is going to be a long mission if you're sick."
Yang smirked a little bit, but she was still braced against the car's wheel, eyes focused on the abandoned building in front of them. "Good morning to you too, kitten. Enjoy your cat nap?"
"Well, I see you still use cat puns. So I at least know it isn't a fatal illness." Blake stretched and sat up, running a hand through her hair as she blinked. The black pair of cat ears at the top of her head twitched as her fingers grazed them; she usually took care to hide them beneath a bow, but on a mission like this such secrecy wasn't required.
One of the perks of being a pure-blooded faunus, she had quickly learned, was the intimidation factor. Most humans in this day and age had gotten used to them, but when it came to the matter of a raid, occasionally they got a lucky break and someone would freeze up at the sight of her animal ears. She doubted it would happen tonight, but she could always hope.
Yang hadn't stirred as she stretched. Her eyes hadn't even drifted briefly over to her to enjoy the view. If Blake had suspected something was wrong before, this behavior all but confirmed it. Asian dragons were passionate, sexual creatures, and even if Blake had never accepted Yang's advances when they had first started working together, they had settled into an easy, comfortable friendship that the faunus found she treasured. She would never admit it out loud to anyone, but when it came to Beacon, Yang was probably the closest thing she had to a best friend.
The fact that they were only good friends had never stopped Yang from admiring the view before.
"What's the matter?" she murmured, her eyes scanning the area. "Have you seen anyone yet?"
The blonde blew out a breath. "Nah, not yet. No sign of anyone going in our out of this place, and it's been an hour. We did come kind of early, though."
Blake shifted in the car seat, reaching for the file they had on the case. "Are you sure you got the right place? You never told me where you got the info for it."
Yang shrugged and finally leaned back into her seat, the first sign of relaxation she'd shown since parking the car. "I got it from Jaune," she said.
Blake blinked, now. "Jaune? Really?" It was no secret that the young man didn't like talking about his past association with magical hunters.
"Really. I didn't even have to twist his arm for it! I guess he and Pyrrha must really have their backs against the wall this time."
Not shocking, Blake mused. The case had lasted now for months, and in the course of that time, three families had been murdered; husband, wife, any children, all dead, all by human hand. It was easy enough to pass off such things as the work of a serial killer, but she was sure it didn't give people like Jaune any comfort, when they were the ones working to cover up involvement from the magical community.
Yang paused, then grinned. "And I may have twisted his arm a little bit," she admitted. "Reminded him of the times we got down and dirty back in the academy. Those were nice nights. Say what you will about Jaune's appearance or personality, he knows how to make a girl feel good."
There she is, Blake thought, and rubbed her eyes. "We're working," she said.
"Hey, you asked how I got it from him. A shame he's been so loyal to Pyrrha. They're a cute couple, don't get me wrong, but I'd really enjoy another go with him."
To fight off the mild headache she could feel building behind her temples, Blake flipped open the folder to study the documents they'd gathered over the course of the case.
The photo that was attached to the documents was, needless to say, disconcerting. It was the man they suspected—knew, really, since he'd been sloppy on the last few kills—was behind the recent string of murders, and he looked old enough to be someone's loving grandfather. Bald, a beard of snow white on his chin, dark gleaming eyes; he could practically pass for Santa Claus.
"Where did Jaune get this information?" she asked, mostly to distract herself from the disturbing thought of a beloved childhood idol going on a murderous rampage; she'd believed in Santa once, too, even if that belief had been cruelly short. "He hasn't been involved in the hunting community since his falling out with his father."
"Obviously, he didn't get it himself." Yang stretched, shuddering a bit in pleasure as something in her back cracked out loudly. "Apparently if you flash enough money at someone, they'll be willing to leak any info you ask for. Shocking, isn't it?"
"Was his source reliable?"
"I had my lil' frost dragon run his name after Jaune brought me the info. He came up clean. He's worked for Beacon before, apparently this is like a source of income for him. So he's trustworthy, yeah."
Blake rolled her eyes. "You know Weiss hates that nickname."
"She loves it. It makes her blush. She's cute when she blushes, you know? She should do it more often. Don't know why she doesn't."
"… You asked her on purpose, didn't you." Blake didn't phrase it like a question. Beacon's relationship with the hunting community was well known, so Yang didn't need to be specific about who she'd asked about it. Which meant she'd had her pick of anyone, and she'd chosen Weiss.
"Of course I did," Yang said cheerfully, not even trying to deny it. "She's my frost dragon. One of these days I'll win her over."
Because Yang's love life was dangerous and unfamiliar territory, Blake focused on reading the information contained in the report. She'd read it enough to know it like the back of her hand and to see it in her sleep, but she never passed up the chance to refresh her memory.
Drake Bishop, fifty-eight years old. He'd been a magical hunter ever since he'd turned sixteen. The Bishop family name was not one of the oldest names in the business; they were nowhere near the league of the Arc family and the Winchester family, to name a few of the lines that had endured for centuries. But they were an established and known family, and those that inherited the name tended to fall into two completely opposing camps: the kind of hunters who only pursued prey because they were a threat to human life, and the kind of hunters that pursued prey because they hated magical creatures and considered that a good enough reason to kill them.
If magical creatures had existed since the dawn of humanity, then magical hunters had existed for just as long to hunt them. Generally speaking, so long as the community hunted creatures that were a threat to humans, or risked exposing the magical world in some way, then Beacon was willing to let them do their business. Beacon was certainly a large, old organization, but it couldn't be everywhere at once, and it only had a limited number of agents to assign to an endless number of cases. Many hunters were more than willing to be paid for freelance work or to pass along information, and overall it was a healthy relationship, even if it had gotten tense at times in the past.
But then there was the other part of the community; the part that was gradually becoming a minority as time passed, but a part that still existed. These hunters hated magical creatures, and took any excuse to kill them. It didn't matter if that creature wasn't even a threat to human life, or wasn't a risk to exposing the magical community. They existed, and therefore, for some hunters, that was enough for them to die. Of that particular part, the Arc family was the largest and most well known name, and while Beacon had certainly arrested or killed enough of their hunters to become hated by the family, the clan was simply too large and too old to be completely removed without the hunting community throwing a fit.
Drake Bishop was the kind of hunter who killed because he enjoyed it, and he needed no other reason. His name was small enough to not be picked up on Beacon's radar, and during his years of hunting he had often been clever enough to avoid directly implicating himself in any kills he made.
It seemed that at last, however, something had caught up with him. Call it age, call it karma, but he'd messed up his most recent kills. Normally after making a kill he would burn the body, and he'd only ever killed one or two at a time. This was his first string of murders, and all of the bodies had been left intact.
"The Icefire was still in the bodies, too," Yang said absently, speaking more to herself than to Blake. "That's really sloppy. It shows the prey was a dragon."
And this was why Beacon had developed an interest in Bishop recently. The three families he'd murdered had had two things in common: they were from the same general area, and one person in the family had been a pure-blooded dragon. The problem was that the three dragons had never been a risk to human safety. They had never once done anything that could endanger the magical community. And yet they had been killed, along with their significant other and any half-breed children they had produced. Beacon prided itself on putting down creatures that were a threat to human life, and protecting the ones that weren't. Such actions couldn't be ignored.
Icefire in particular was a gruesome way to kill a dragon. It was a poison made of a mixture of ice-based Dusts, usually acquired from either the black market or from smaller companies that were willing to sell their product for such uses, and it could be mixed with bullets or with bladed weapons. In their true forms, dragons were notoriously difficult to kill, but if they were cornered in human form and couldn't transform, it was as easy as murdering, well, a normal human, except the dragon still had access to basic fire. A stab to the heart, or to any vital organ, would be fatal.
Icefire was basically a way of ensuring that once the dragon was fatally wounded, it would stay down. Ideally, the user would be able to stab or shoot the creature right in the heart. Once that was done, the poison would be pumped from the heart into the dragon's bloodstream, traveling through the body and effectively freezing the creature to death from the inside. It was a quick, intensely painful death.
"It was definitely sloppy," Blake agreed, flipping the folder shut. "Bishop isn't known for being sloppy, we'd have caught him way before now if he was. I'm curious as to why he slipped up this time."
"We'll find out soon enough." There was a growl in Yang's voice that immediately had Blake's ears twitching, and the dragon leaned forward against the wheel again. "I see movement through the windows. Someone's in there. Lend me your night vision, Bella."
"Can't you ever call me by name?" Blake leaned forward too, though, narrowing her eyes a bit. It was true that as a pure-blooded faunus she had access to night vision, but there was only so much she could do with walls in the way. Still, the window was relatively clear, and Yang was once again silent, giving her a chance to focus all of her senses.
After a few minutes of this, the faunus leaned back against the car seat and rubbed her ears. "Well, I can't confirm for sure who is who because of the distance," she said, "but there're definitely three people in there. One of them looks a bit taller than the other two, so he's probably older. If I had to guess, he would be Bishop. The other two seem nervous, tense, going by their body language. He's definitely leading this tonight."
"It always amazes me how much you can see with just moonlight."
Blake couldn't quite resist the smirk as Yang unlocked the car. "One of the perks of being a cat faunus." She blinked, then, as the blonde opened the door. "Um, Yang? We didn't discuss a plan—"
"Oh, we have a plan." Yang slammed the car door shut so hard the vehicle rattled, and as Blake scrambled out to join her she was thankful that the dragon had thought to park far enough away that their quarry wouldn't hear the sound. "I get Bishop. You can take down his friends."
A slim black eyebrow arched. "Both of them?"
The other woman snorted. "Bishop has never hunted with anyone before. But tonight he has two people with him. My guess? He probably got wind of the fact that Beacon is on his tail. Those two are going to be his bait to distract us while he slips away." She grimaced. "Probably apprentice kids, or they got rejected from their family and still want to be hunters."
Blake couldn't quite suppress the wince. "That seems…. mean."
Yang scowled, now. "The man makes sure that when he hunts, he puts a dragon in a position where it can't even fight back. Damn right he's mean."
… Well. That explains that, then.
It suddenly all made sense. The uncharacteristic silence and tension from her partner, the complete and utter focus Yang had on taking down Bishop. The young dragon was by no means unprofessional when she was on the job, but this kind of drive from her was unusual. But now, Blake understood.
Yang was angry.
After a moment, Blake's hand slid down to the holster she kept strapped around her waist while she was on a mission. She undid the buckle and tossed it to Yang, gun and all. The blonde caught it with one hand. "Don't need your weapon?" she asked mildly.
"If I'm just taking down two potential rookies, I don't want to waste the bullets." Blake rolled her shoulders, exhaling deeply to relax and focus, clearing her mind. "Ruby would get mad at me if a bunch of kids scratched up Gambol Shroud."
Yang snorted softly at the name Blake casually used to refer to her weapon, and for once, chose not to point out that the name had been given to the gun by Ruby, not Blake; there was no need to call it Gambol Shroud when she wasn't around. But she stayed silent, simply unlocking the car door and tossing the gun into the back seat.
Blake flexed her fingers absently, her breathing picking up a bit as she felt the familiar tingle run under her skin. "We'll wait for them to come out?" she suggested. "If Bishop is leading, I can pick off the other two before he even realizes what's going on."
Yang smirked, cracking out her knuckles. Blake briefly saw a flash of fang as her teeth bared. "Sounds like a plan."
She didn't need to say it. Yang had been an agent as long as she had; she knew how this worked. Goodwitch had specifically told them to bring Bishop in alive. He wasn't the only hunter who went after dragons like this, and the species was still recovering from almost being driven to extinction. If they offered him the right deal he would be willing to talk, to give up names and locations of future hunts and potential victims. He would be much more useful to Beacon alive than he would be dead.
She didn't need to say it.
"Yang. Don't kill him."
There was a pause. It only lasted for a few seconds. Then Yang laughed, a short, light thing, and it completely contrasted with the streaks of red that were beginning to run through her eyes and the hints of fire in her hair.
"Relax, Blake. I won't kill him. I'm not a monster."
James Stone was not a happy camper.
He had just turned seventeen years old, and unlike his idiot twin brother Eric, could tell when someone was pulling the wool over their eyes. They had been at the bar only a few hours earlier—a local gathering for hunters more than for any actual drinking—when Drake Bishop had plopped down at their table and had struck up conversation. The gist of his proposal was simple: he had scouted out a fourth dragon family, but he was feeling a bit anxious, starting to slow down a bit. It would be wonderful if some strong young men could help him. Why, if the kill even went well, he'd recommend them to other clients and give them some of the old weapons he no longer used!
James hadn't even gotten a chance to speak before Eric had almost jumped over the table to grab Bishop's hand, eagerly agreeing to the hunt. And now here they were, out in the middle of the night, in pitch blackness because the wind had shifted and clouds had covered up the moon, walking through a thick wooded area.
James was not a happy camper at all.
He was by no means an experienced hunter; he and Eric had only been out on four or five hunts since they'd taken up the job, all easy kills for small time creatures to make quick money. A pure-blooded dragon was well beyond anything either of them had experienced. On the surface, though, the job didn't seem difficult. Bishop's intent was to attack while the dragon's mate and young children were nearby, effectively keeping the beast from taking on full form or using its dragonfire.
But he wasn't stupid. He understood why Eric had jumped at the chance to hunt with Bishop, of course. The old man's family was not a large name, but it was respected and known. For a couple of kids like them, just starting out, succeeding on this hunt and getting access to the man's former weapons and clients was a dream come true. That didn't change the fact that something felt fundamentally wrong with the whole situation.
James personally had no issues with magical creatures. The hunts he and Eric had been on had been in pursuit of smaller monsters that had disrupted human life and had needed to be put down, and they had been paid pretty decently for those jobs. This hunt with Bishop all but guaranteed they would have a smooth start to their careers, and yet it bothered him. The old man had given no reason for why this dragon needed to be killed. He had provided no evidence that the beast had hurt anyone. Eric, being the eager idiot that he was, had committed them to the hunt before James could ask Bishop about any of that.
And he didn't like that. He didn't like the thought that they were going off to kill something, and they didn't even know why.
It was that this point, as he turned this thought over in his head, that James became aware of two facts.
The first was that he could no longer see Bishop in front of him; the old man must have gotten ahead of him without him realizing. Despite the pitch blackness of the night, James wasn't particularly concerned about this revelation. The path they were walking on was a trail that was often used by families and joggers during the day, and as a result was well worn and easy to follow. So long as he stayed on the path, he would reach the target even if he couldn't see Bishop in front of him leading the way.
The second was that he could no longer hear Eric's footsteps behind him.
That concerned him.
"Eric?" He turned around, his hand already going to his waist to reach for his gun. He regretted now, more than ever, that they had immediately gone off to hunt with Bishop after meeting him at the bar instead of going back to their base to stock up on weapons. All he had on him was his pistol, loaded with silver bullets. It shouldn't have been a problem since the old man said he would kill the dragon, but a chill ran down James' spine when he looked and saw that Eric was no longer behind him.
He didn't see blood. Somehow, that was not comforting.
Swallowing hard, he started to turn around again. He needed to find Bishop, now. He needed to sever from this hunt, and fast. He needed to go back and find Eric, and they would go home like nothing had happened and forget they had ever—
James froze as his eyes met the glowing, golden gaze of a black panther.
The fact that he was staring at a panther immediately clued him in on the fact that something had gone very, very wrong with the mission. They were in woods near houses. A panther should not have been there. It should not have been sitting in front of him, just watching him. It should not have been the size of a tiger, and it definitely should not have been watching him with human intelligence reflecting in its eyes.
He then did the only thing that seemed to make any sense anymore.
He turned and ran.
He didn't get very far.
There had been a bit of distance between him and the unusually large, unusually intelligent panther. This had given James the illusion of having a head start. In truth, he only made it a few steps before something large slammed into his back, knocking him onto his stomach and pushing the air out of his lungs. He hadn't even heard the creature move. He drew in air to scream, thinking perhaps that he could at least warn Bishop—
Claws dug lightly into the back of his neck, to the point of pain. The panther lowered its head, gently nuzzling against his ear, its breathing low and warm…
And it spoke, in a distinctly feminine voice.
"Whatever you're planning to do, I wouldn't advise doing it," she murmured. "I'd hate to have to kill you because you got too loud."
James Stone, seventeen years old, fledgling monster hunter, passed out on the spot. It was almost impressive how quickly he lost consciousness when confronted with something he had never faced before, completely at its mercy.
The panther snorted softly, lifting her paw away from the back of his neck and retracting her claws. As the clouds drifted away from the moon and spilled silvery light across the trees, she changed. Her claws shortened to human nails, her fangs dulled to human teeth, the black fur that covered her body retracted and smoothed out to human skin, covered in the Beacon uniform agents wore while out in the field. The only feature that remained from the animal she had been was the pair of black feline ears, now deceptively looking like a house cat's, perched on top of her head.
Blake sighed as the last of the changes melted away, and tugged the boy's wrists back so she could handcuff them. At least he had been easy to intimidate, like his brother; one of the perks of hunting rookies who had never seen a fully transformed faunus before. She would need to go back to the tree where she had stashed Eric. Something she immensely enjoyed about being a leopard faunus was her ability to drag unsuspecting animals or people up into trees, and she had knocked Eric out before he could think to scream once she'd gotten him off the ground.
The important thing though was that both of the brothers were still alive, and neither of them had been harmed. They would probably be held for questioning after being taken in, but the chances that they would actually be arrested were below zero. Blake would need to look into the Stones and their past just to be sure, but they seemed to be two rookies who had simply gotten in way over their head.
The only loose end to tie up now was Bishop.
Blake grimaced, shifting for a moment to look in the direction the old man had been heading. "Yang," she murmured, "you'd better not make me regret letting you handle him by yourself."
Drake Bishop could no longer hear the boys behind him, but this didn't bother him.
If he was lucky, James and Eric had been a decent distraction for the Beacon agents. He'd gotten lucky; one of his old friends had heard about the information being exchanged and had been kind enough to warn him about the possibility that his next hunt would be staked out by the organization. He had briefly considered taking time off, giving the situation a chance to calm down, but he couldn't; the hatred that clawed at his gut was simply too great.
It had been a complete accident that he had discovered a small community of dragons in that specific neighborhood, simply by scouting out the territory and tracking dragon traveling patterns. Once he'd discovered that fact, well, he couldn't just stay away.
He'd only killed three so far. By his estimation, the community had originally consisted of about ten dragons, so his hunts had dropped that number down to seven. He was on his way now to kill his fourth; a male dragon and his human mate. The woman was pregnant. He wanted to be sure the half-breed would never live to breathe.
The fact that he had stumbled on a pair of rookies had been another stroke of luck. James and Eric were skilled enough hunters to last against small creatures, and innocent enough that he was relatively confident that Beacon wouldn't kill them or arrest them. They were the perfect distraction.
Up ahead of him, the trees thinned out as he stepped out under the silvery moonlight, into a small, grassy clearing. It was the last bit of open land he had to cover before he reached his target. He would try to be quick about it this time; he was enjoying these kills so much that he had slowed and gotten sloppy. Absently patting his belt to make sure his knife was still strapped in, along with the handgun he always brought with him to complete these hunts after he'd killed the dragon.
He couldn't resist the small, sadistic smirk. It was thrilling, really, to put the magical world's most powerful creature in a situation where it couldn't fight back.
Whistling a small, cheery tune, Bishop took his first steps out into the grass.
He saw then, out of the corner of his eye, something burning. He blinked, started to turn to face it, and then something slammed into his stomach with the force of a speeding bus. He recoiled against the heavy blow and gagged, dry heaving at the power behind the blow, but before he could recover he was hit again in his ribs by something hot, something that burned, and he distinctly heard the crack and snap of ribs as he was lifted into the air, thrown clean through the empty space and slamming his back into a tree with enough force that it snapped and tumbled over into the grass with a muffled crash.
Bishop saw brilliant flashes of white light, then dots of color still laced with red, before his vision finally cleared. He coughed wetly, and tasted blood on his tongue. He groaned, slowly rolling over onto his stomach.
The woman who stood where he'd been only moments before lifted an eyebrow, lowering her burning fist and extinguishing the flame in an instant. "That was totally self-defense," she said conversationally. "I took you out before you took me out. I know you have Icefire on you."
His body ached, but he still lifted his head to get a good look at her. He saw the red gleam of her eyes, the white fire in her hair, and fury blazed through him like a wildfire. "Dragon," he snarled.
The eyebrow arched even higher. The woman calmly stepped closer before she knelt, smirking down at him. It was a cold, amused smirk. "Yang Xiao Long, actually," she said cheerfully. "And I know all about you, Drake Bishop."
His eyes widened for a moment, uncomprehending, before terror flooded them. Completely forgetting his situation, he tried to lurch to his feet to try and escape, and very nearly made it. In one smooth move Yang straightened up and slammed her elbow into his stomach. He let out a low sound, like a balloon releasing its air, as he sank back into the grass.
"Relax, you nasty old bastard. Any dragon worth their scales knows Drake Bishop. You kind of have a reputation." Yang knelt back down, absently resting her cheek against her fist. "I'm with Beacon anyway. I'm under orders to not kill you, as tempted as I am."
Bishop couldn't say anything. He didn't think he had the air to talk. All he could manage was a hateful glare.
"And oh, trust me, I'm tempted." She smiled, and it was not a particularly nice smile. "You really snapped this time, didn't you? You've always hated dragons, so finding a whole community like this… must have driven you insane. Hell, it did drive you insane, considering how sloppy you got with so many potential victims."
He kept glaring.
"One question, though. Really, I'm curious. Why the Icefire? There's no need for it once you fatally wound a dragon in human form. So why use it?"
Every fiber of his being told him to keep quiet. That if he kept quiet, she'd let him live. But she was a dragon, and Bishop had always hated dragons. He was a man who enjoyed their fear and powerlessness when he killed them, a man who enjoyed the pain and grief it caused their families before he killed them as well. He was half convinced she would kill him anyway, despite her claims of being with Beacon.
So he just smirked.
"Why not? Nasty lizards like you deserve the most painful way to die, and Icefire accomplishes that nicely. Makes you nice and powerless so you can't do anything when I go after the mate and kids."
Yang, to her credit, had stayed relatively emotionless during his brief speech. It wasn't anything she hadn't already figured out from his profile; the man was a serial killer, and his preferred victims were dragons. He got off on the situation he put them into, and she hadn't expected a reasonable response to her inquiry. But at the mention of mate and children, the red in her eyes darkened to the color of blood.
Bishop thought he saw an opening then. It was probably suicide, but if he was going to go down, he wanted to go down trying to take the lizard with him. Adrenaline and hatred dulled the pain in his ribs, and his fingers closed on the hilt of his Icefire-soaked knife. He surged up in a blur of motion, aiming right for the beast's chest—
He didn't even see Yang move. One hand snapped around his wrist and twisted it backwards, to the point of cracking. Her other hand was right on his face, slamming his head into the grass so hard his ears rang and his vision went blurry. His knife fell out of his suddenly numb fingers.
Yang's smile was wicked, now. "Harder when your prey can fight back, isn't it? But you wouldn't know that, would you? You never even gave them the chance. All you've killed are dragons you forced into submission using their mates and kids. Have you ever even seen a real dragon, Bishop? I don't think you have."
She gently cupped his chin, so his eyes met hers.
"Keep your eyes open. I want you to see this."
She let go of him and straightened up, rocking back on her heels for a moment before she took a few steps back. Dazed, all Bishop could do was watch. He was in too much pain to move, and every move Yang made only reminded him that he was no match for her. Still, instinct had him keeping his eyes on her, waiting for the moment she finally decided to kill him.
The streaks of fire that had burned in her hair flared up in a brilliant blaze of white, then raced down her body with a blinding speed that flashed with enough light to make Bishop's eyes burn. A blast of heat shot through the whole clearing before fading away as if it had never existed in the first place, before he had even drawn another breath. Bishop almost thought nothing had happened until a large, clawed paw slammed down inches from his face.
Generally speaking, when people spoke of dragons they most often referred to the European variety. European dragons were basically dinosaurs with wings, and had a reputation as hateful, greedy beasts that would sooner eat humans than breed with them. According to official records once the dragon population had been able to be monitored, European dragons were all but extinct in the modern day. Any survivors that were still left were ancients, and hid away well enough to make it clear that they wanted nothing to do with humanity. There was a persistent rumor that any remaining survivors were so paranoid that they even refused to mate even when they happened to meet another European dragon.
The dragons that were now considered the dominant species, slowly but surely making a comeback, were the Asian dragons. In ancient times they had been equal to gods in human culture, but when the hunting had truly begun they had been much more comfortable with the thought of breeding with humans. This interbreeding came with a few downsides, of course. No ancients remained of the Asian species, and the modern day dragon couldn't compare to the gods that had existed during old times before things had gotten bad.
That didn't mean, of course, that a modern day Asian dragon was something to be ignored.
Yang was, by all standards of the species, a young dragon. She was still, however, the size of a bus in her fully transformed state. Pale yellow scales, almost white, gleamed under moonlight as her muscles shifted and rippled under her skin, and a darker mane of gold like a lion's blew gently in the evening breeze. Her eyes were a dark, bloody red as she looked down at Bishop, and her lips curled back, fangs bared in a grin.
Bishop could only stare up at her. He didn't dare move. He couldn't breathe. He was frozen, literally paralyzed, with fear at the creature that was looking down at him. If she wanted to, all she had to do was lift her foot up and crush him as if he was an insect.
Yang tilted her head briefly to the side, studying him, before she lowered her head so they were eye to eye. He could feel the heat coming off of her scales. Something wicked gleamed in those dark red depths.
Bishop screamed like a little girl. When he saw those giant fangs part and descend on him, he thought no more.
Blake felt Yang before she saw her; the tremors that ran faintly through the ground gave the faunus a fairly big hint as to what form her partner was currently in. So she wasn't particularly surprised when a dragon stepped gingerly through the trees, trying her best to not crush them under her paws as she moved.
She pushed herself up from the car. "Bishop?"
A low huff, before Yang lowered her head towards Blake. With all the gentleness of a mother setting down her kitten, Yang carefully retracted her fangs and deposited Bishop at the black-haired woman's feet.
Blake looked at him for a few moments, then looked up at Yang.
Yang sighed. "He's alive. You can check his pulse if you don't believe me."
Blake was silent for a moment, then shook her head and opened the car's front door, digging around for a spare pair of handcuffs. "I trust you. You did say you weren't a monster, after all."
"Your trust in me is heartwarming." Blake felt the light surge of heat, and without a word tossed the cuffs to Yang once she was fully human, ignoring the way the dragon yanked Bishop's arms back with a bit more force than was necessary. Ozpin had told them to bring him in alive. He hadn't told them to be gentle about it.
"The rookies?" Yang asked, as she dragged Bishop up. Blake helpfully opened the back door for her.
"In here too. Sleeping like babies still, in fact." The leopard faunus smirked. "They've never seen a pure-blooded faunus before, it seems."
Yang snickered, closing the door and making sure it locked. "I don't know why you tell me to cool it. You're just as evil as I am."
"I'm more subtle about it."
The blonde rolled her eyes, before she gestured to the front seats. "You mind driving? I want to keep an eye on the old bastard to make sure he doesn't pull anything before we get to Beacon."
Blake was reasonably sure Bishop was injured enough that he wouldn't be a threat to either of them, but she didn't bother pointing this out. She simply nodded and grabbed the keys from Yang's hand, going to the driver side. She paused for a moment, glancing at her partner. "Yang?"
Yang blinked, leaning against the roof of the car to look at her. "Yeah?"
"Thank you for not killing him."
She blinked again, baffled, and frowned. "Why would I kill him? Sure, he pissed me off, and I was tempted, but… well, orders."
Blake smiled at her. "If you showed this side of you more often, I think you'd actually win Weiss over." She slid into the driver's seat and twisted the key.
Yang mulled the thought over as she settled into the seat. "You think so?"
"It would remind her you aren't just a sex-crazed maniac."
"… And here I thought we were having a nice friendship moment."
"We still are. I'm going to request that she help you fill out the after mission report. I can make something up and say I got knocked around a bit, so I'm not in the right mind to do it. You'd contribute more anyway, since this was really your case."
"That is a total lie," Yang said.
Blake shrugged. "You're a bad influence on me."
Yang considered this for a moment longer before she launched herself at Blake and wrapped her up in a crushing, warm hug. "Best friend!" she cheered.
Blake hissed a bit in complaint at the strength and warmth of the embrace, but she was still smiling when Yang let go.
The worldbuilding exposition may be a bit much, but... I had fun with it, so I'm not sorry!
Speaking of worldbuilding, I made a brief reference to it at the end, but Blake is specifically a black leopard faunus. The term 'panther' can be assigned to any large black cat, and I figured a leopard's climbing skills would suit her better than a jaguar's swimming skills. It just crossed my mind while I wrote that James probably wouldn't recognize a black leopard on sight, so I used panther from his POV.
Read and review, please!