Sunday, 11th April, 79AGW.
Cafe Sunrise, Vale.
It was another five minutes before he spotted Claire as she stepped into the café, Teak and Lux following behind her. All three of them were loaded up with bags, and he made a silent vow to avoid carrying any of it.
“Wow!” Claire said, shocked. “I can’t believe you ordered without us—that’s so rude!”
Lima shrugged, taking a bite out of a maccaron and letting out a groan of content.
“Mm! Sorry, I was getting pretty hungry,” Lima lied before gesturing to the spread of desert foods. “Feel free to help me eat it if you want; I went completely overboard, as you can see.”
“Apparently so,” Teak said bemused, slipping into the seat beside him. “How much did this even cost? This place looks pretty expensive.”
Lux was watching him suspiciously as she seated herself next to Claire, across from them both.
“Completely free—I charmed the owner with my good looks,” Lima bragged. “You’re lucky to have such a beautiful teammate.”
“Did she try and take it all back after she noticed your rotten personality?” Lux teased.
He huffed at the derision, and Claire laughed out loud. Teak coughed into his hand to hide his own amusement before speaking up.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Teak said, smiling.
Lima accepted the subject change easily—He didn’t want to remain on the topic of the food for much longer anyway. He had no intention of mentioning the two from before. There was always a chance they were watching him to check if he followed through or not, and he didn’t want to get the others involved.
“Yeah, two crystals, not exactly cheap, but I don’t usually lose my gear, so it will last a while.” Lima admitted, “Sorry I ditched you, buddy—I hope they didn’t make you carry all of their things?”
“Of course we didn’t,” Lux said, annoyed. “Idiot.”
“Teak even found some nice clothes,” Claire said, sounding pleased with herself.
Teak flushed and looked down at the table, and Lima blinked, glancing at the other two for an explanation—both looked away innocently, and he was left in the dark.
“Okay then.” Lima said curiously, “Where are we going next? You still want to check out that weird old equipment store you were telling us about?”
“Mm!” Claire said suddenly, “It’s only open for another two hours, so we have to go soon—I called the owner, there’s an older pair on sale—cheap enough that I can get it without asking my dad for money anyway.”
Teak looked happy about the subject change. Lux looked pretty interested as well as she munched on a donut of her own.
“I still haven’t even figured out what I’m going to make.” Teak admitted, “Claire, are you still going to make a new frame for it? Or just use the original one?”
“I mostly just want the internals—Understanding how things like that work isn’t my strong suit,” Claire admitted sheepishly, “I’ll make a wrap-around helmet casing in class and reseat the components inside it.”
“Ten dollars says that Teak knows how they work,” Lima said teasingly.
“Fools bet,” Lux smirked.
“I do know how they work,” Teak interrupted, pouting, “Light enters the lens, they hit a light-sensitive surface called a photocathode which converts the photons into electrons—they are then amplified by a photomultiplier before they strike a phosphor screen and as they connect they let off tiny bursts of light—”
Teak looked around at three confused gazes before huffing and crossing his arms. Lima continued to stare at him like he was an alien, long after the others broke down into giggles.
“Well, maybe you should study more—Lima, stop looking at me like that!” Teak said, embarrassed before changing the subject quickly. “I found a copy of a really old journal I’ve been looking for. Can we go pick it up after we’re done getting your night vision goggles?”
“Of course!” Claire said happily.
A really old journal?
“Who did the journal belong to?” Lima asked curiously.
“A man called Mandias—you probably haven’t heard of him,” Teak admitted, “He was a researcher from several hundred years before the great war. It’s one of the few surviving books from that time period—well, there are several copies now. I follow a blog about old history stuff, and one of the posters on the site—from Mantle—mentioned it there, I called a few bookstores in Vale, and one of them actually had a copy.”
Teak shrugged sheepishly, realizing he’d gone off on a tangent.
“Before the great war?” Lux said, idly prodding him into continuing. “So no academies?”
Teak nodded, smiling at the interest.
“No academies, no combat schools, no Amnity Colluseum—Vale was still a fledgling city at that point, and Atlas didn’t exist yet,” Teak rattled off, “Solitas, the capital being Mantle at the time, hadn’t made any contact with Anima yet, but I think they had some trade deal with Sanus?—it later fell through anyway.”
“What was he researching?” Lima said thoughtfully.
“I haven’t read it yet,” Teak pointed out, “When I asked the poster, he said Mandias’s main focus had been investigating a forgotten religion centered around two opposing gods and the source of their powers.”
He sat back in his chair, raising an eyebrow expectantly at the three of them—a reverse of the challenge they had placed on him for the goggles—how vengeful of him.
“The two brothers,” Claire said, snickering. “I remember my dad reading me that one before bed!”
Lima had also heard it before, one of the many fairy tales from days long past and one of the few memories he had left of his mother.
“You said he was investigating a religion—” Lux frowned. “Why was he looking into fairy tales?”
Teak gave her a look and got a pout in return.
“I don’t know,” Teak repeated, bemused. “I haven’t read it yet, remember?”
“Ugh! Hurry up and read it then,” Lux complained, “I hate being left in suspense.”
Sunday, 11th April, 79AGW.
Tukson’s Book Trade, Vale.
With Claire’s new goggles safely tucked away in her bag, the four searched for the next destination. They had to follow directions from a scroll to locate the small shop, tucked between two much larger buildings.
“Welcome to Tukson’s book trade,” A tall man said without much energy, “Home to every book under the son—I’m Tukson. How may I help you?”
“That cannot possibly be true!” Lima cried, “I know for a fact that Claire has a copy of ‘Histories Hottest Faunus’ hidden under her mattress—I bet you haven’t got that book!”
Claire looked shocked at the accusation.
“Shut up!” Claire squawked, “How do you even know that?!”
Lux raised an eyebrow at her pointedly, and Claire flushed. Tukson scratched the back of his neck for a moment before bending down behind the counter and rifling around for a minute.
“I may not have that particular copy,” Tukson said, amused, dropping a copy of the book in question on the bench. “But I do have a copy.”
“Well shit,” Lima said sheepishly, “You win this round, buddy.”
Tukson laughed lightly.
“Um, I called yesterday about an old journal written by a man called Mandias?” Teak said hopefully, “Do you still have it in stock?”
“Ah!” Tukson said suddenly, hammering his hand down onto his palm. “Mr. Fawn, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Teak smiled.
“I still have it—I’ve been holding onto that one for a long time,” Tukson admitted, “Nobody’s ever come looking for it either. It first came into possession of my family through my great-great-grandfather and into my own hands from my father about two decades ago.”
“Wow,” Lux said, impressed, “I don’t think my family has anything from that long ago. The closest we have is this weird-looking amulet from before the great war.”
Tukson smiled at her before turning and opening a drawer in the cabinet behind him. He removed a package with brown paper and twine tied around it.
“Sorry, this might come off as rude—you two are Beacon students?” Tukson said curiously, indicating both Teak and Lux.
“Yes,” Lux said easily.
“I’ve wondered for a while—I don’t get a lot of Beacon kids in the shop, so I’ve never managed to ask—from one Faunus to another; how do they treat you up there at the school?” Tukson said idly, setting to unravel the twine.
Claire hooked an arm around Lima’s and steered him away from the three at the counter, giving them some space.
“Help, I’m being kidnapped,” Lima said, sniffling. “Who knows what horrible, horrible things she’s going to do with me behind the stacks? My beauty is truly a curse!”
“Let’s not turn this abduction into a murder, alright?” Claire quipped dryly, pulling him towards the romance section.
Sunday, 11th April, 79AGW.
Malachite’s Dorm, Beacon.
Lima slipped out of the room after he was sure the other three had finally fallen asleep. He hung suspended by nothing on the outer wall of the dormitory, making his way down to the ground.
The first week at Beacon was essentially over. It was interesting just how much his routine had changed since he’d gotten here. It was an even stranger feeling to spend almost all of his day in close proximity to others.
He’d been around others at Sanctum, sure, but actually, living with them? It was an entirely different Grimm. That wasn’t to say he disliked it—it was just so vastly different from what he was used to. Sage had always been a complete bastard at school, but he didn’t smother him outside of it—As long as he’d done his expected daily training and spars at least.
Lima had pretty much been left to entertain himself—he’d learned quickly that exploring the city of Argus and hunting for stray Grimm in the surrounding areas had given him an outlet for both his frustrations and stress.
After an entire week here spent in almost constant contact with the other three members of his team, he’d had no outlet—yesterday had been the exception, but a couple of hours had only taken off the edge of it all.
He snuck past the many buildings littering Beacon, heading for the tree line. There was a pair of older students hiding in the shadow of the last building before the no-mans-land, clothing in a mess around their feet.
“Hey!” A girl squeaked.
Lima ignored them as he cut across the grass and entered the forest at a sprint. It was dark, but he’d spent years growing accustomed to places like this, and it only slowed him a little. He stuck to a large trail through the trees, making plenty of noise as he went.
It wasn’t all bad, though; he genuinely found himself connecting with his teammates—far more than he had expected to. They weren’t pride-bloated and vapid narcissists like many of the elitists at Argus had been, built up by their families’ names and deeds of their long-passed ancestors.
Teak came from a different world entirely—or that’s how it felt, having no prior history with Hunters. His lack of experience with just about everything related to the Grimm was wholly overshadowed by his startling brilliance. Even just his talent for recalling the things he read was helping him catch up.
It was clear that he’d grown up with a set of vastly different experiences to him—ones that Lima would likely never really understand without having lived through it. He’d noticed the glances when people spoke to his teammate. The rude comments about the boy’s feminine appearance, the look of derision that far too many people were comfortable with sending towards the Faunus on top of it all.
Lima was honestly impressed that the boy had turned out as empathic as he had, given all the shit he no doubt had to live with—There had also been plenty of little arguments cropping up in the last week, resulting from being smashed together with three strangers in such a small space.
Teak was almost always the one trying to defuse the situation, working to bring everyone back to neutral. He probably was the best choice for leading the group, if only for his talent for resolving conflicts without setting anyone off.
The Grimm were starting to follow him now, tearing through the forest parallel to him, red eyes flashing in the dark. He drew them towards one of the many large clearings he had discovered during the combat exercises.
Claire was just as complicated, but in a more discreet way that you couldn’t really notice without putting a few things together first, she—like Lima—was a social instigator. Her interpersonal skills were developed enough that she always knew what she could get away with saying. She used it to great effect, teasing the others, playing off existing jokes but never crossing into the insensitive territory like Lima was prone to doing.
Personable, easily likable, and witty—and almost all of it was a perfect cover for an inferiority complex the size of Anima. A large and extended family of civilians, each talented and successful in different ways.
She wanted what everybody wanted, to be noteworthy, to stand out with her own talents and successes. To prove that she was worthy of the same respect that her sister had been granted—not out of pity or because her parents loved her, but by pushing herself to achieve it.
Being away from their family had been hard on all of them, but Claire was probably experiencing it the worst, at least from what he could tell. He’d found her crying twice since they’d talked on the roof that night, and they’d spent several hours talking quietly about her family.
Lima reached the clearing just as the first Beowolve lunged at him, and he twisted on his heel, drawing a spike up and cracking the create in the bottom jaw with the flat end. The Beowolves momentum vanished, and he spun the spike in the palm of his hand before catching it in a reverse grip and putting it through the top of its head.
Lux was probably dealing with change the best, at least from what he could tell. Her battle mania seemed to pull her out of any negative moods. At first, he’d thought that she was trying to deal with the stress by being more aggressive, but it was starting to legitimately look like she just enjoyed fighting that much.
It wasn’t just fighting either. She seemed to thrive in conflict—fighting, arguments, competitions, banter. As long as she had an opponent in some way, she seemed to be ecstatic. Lima couldn’t think of anyone he’d met before that was even half as competitive as her.
It was frustrating to an extent, he would admit. Teak gave in too quickly for Lux to get any real competition out of him in anything, mental or physical. He just wasn’t very good with her level of competitiveness. Claire was quicker on the draw with retorts and tended to leave Lux flustered, which inevitably ended with her doubling down, making things worse. With him, Lux just wanted to fight, and despite losing several times, it hadn’t shaken her confidence in herself at all—she just came back harder the next time, happy with the challenge.
Lima held his hand out, as the gravity dust activated, the spike tore out of the Beowolve’s eye, flipping through the air and back into his hand from across the clearing. He angled it up and blocked the claw that cut an arc down towards his face. It stopped cold on the spike, and he twisted, forcing the tip of the spike to break through the lock and cut a line from the creature’s jaw to the ground.
Then there was him—Lima, the attention-seeking joker who had a fixation that was far past unhealthy. He’d made numerous mistakes since he’d gotten here, some of which could have ended much worse off than they had.
Lima was a product of his environment, torn from a loving family at a young age and left to fester in his hate. Sage had pulled him out of it, but the man came from a bygone era, from a generation born at the conclusion of the war.
He’d picked up so many of the man’s mannerisms—he wasn’t so far gone that he couldn’t see that. Abrasive, irreverent, and tactless, he did and said things to illicit reactions from those around him, enjoying seeing what he could draw from them. He went too far at times, and he was probably more guilty of doubling down than Lux was—upping the ante when he felt uncomfortable usually led to that.
Midori’s guidance had kept him from falling quite so far into the man’s orbit, tempered him even, instilling a better understanding of how others felt. It had given him insight into what drove most people and why they did the things that they did.
Lima stomped down one a monster’s head, pinning it to the ground, and with a flex of his semblance, crushed it into dust. He slowly turned around the clearing, dissolving corpses littered the ground, illuminated by the shattered moon above—no more movement in the trees or red eyes in sight.
He was feeling better already.
I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.
My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.
I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.