• Published 29th Jul 2016
  • 1,072 Views, 14 Comments

Remnants of Equestria: ASSD - chillbook1

Team ASSD (Acid) work together to overcome the challenges they'll face as Huntresses of Atlas Academy

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I owe Sweetie Alabast-Belle my life.

The whole team did, for one reason or another. Her and her pa saved our lives. When my parents couldn’t provide for me anymore, Sweetie convinced her dad to let me live with them. We found Scootaloo wandering around Vacuo, starving on the streets, and she took her in, too. And Diamond Tiara, hating her parents, ran out and had nowhere else to go but the Alabast Manor. Mr. A wasn’t huge on the idea of basically adopting three kids, especially when one of them was the daughter of his sworn business rival. But Sweetie got him to come around, and we all had homes because of her.

The point I’m driving at is that I love Sweetie like my own flesh and blood, and I hated seeing her hurt.

“You’re not a failure,” said Scootaloo again. Sweetie had her face buried in her pillow, still sore from her little scrap with Rarity a few hours earlier.

“Yes I am. I’m supposed to be heiress to the Alabast Dust company, and I can’t even deal with… Her,” groaned Sweetie. “She destroyed me.”

“I know, I was there,” said Diamond, a small giggle in her voice. “I’ve never seen someone lose so badly!”

I’m gonna say right now that I have a lot of patience for Diamond Tiara. I understood that her situation was just as rough as ours, just in different ways. She ain’t being mean to be mean, she just don’t know how to be nice. She’s working on it, but old habits die hard. We normally just ignore her, or tell her to shut her trap. But, today, after seeing Sweetie take that loss at her own sister’s hand, I was fed up.

“Diamond Tiara, I promise to God, I will lay your ass flat,” I said. “You wanna see someone lose bad? Step to me.”

“She’s right,” sighed Sweetie. “I shouldn’t be on this team. How am I supposed to kill monsters when my big sister can stop me in my tracks?”

“‘Member, Sweetie, y’all are younger than us,” I reminded her. That sister of yours, she got three years on you. You can learn a lot in three years.”

“But I don’t have three years. I have five months. What's gonna happen in five months, when I have to fight her during Vytal?”

“Simple. You won't,” said Scootaloo. “Not alone. We'll be there with you, and she won't be able to beat all of us.”

“I think I just threw up a little,” said Diamond, rolling her eyes. “Could you be any cheesier?”

“That tears it. You and me, DT,” I said. I pulled my folded black bow off of my back and flipped it open. “I'm about to teach you some manners!”

“Guys, don't fight,” begged Sweetie. She looked at her Scroll, probably checking the time. “We have class soon. Who's going?”

Scootaloo and I quickly put a finger to our noses. Since Sweetie was battered and broken, she wasn't leaving bed for a while. That meant Diamond was covering for us.

“Why am I always getting stuck going to class for you?” she demanded.

“Cause I'm lazy,” yawned Scootaloo. “And AB can't actually read, so it's gotta be you.” I punched her in the arm, even though we all knew she was joking around.

“I'm gonna head down to the city for a bit,” I said. “Trying to get some things together to see if my folks can set up shop here.”

My ma and pa worked a store that specialized in Huntsmen equipment and whatnot. In Mistral, they barely have two Lien to rub together for themselves, let alone for me and my sister. They had to split us up, but we stay talking. They just took out a loan and needed me to help find a location that they could afford.

“Cool,” said Scoots. “Hey, while you’re out, would you mind picking up my scooter parts at the repair shop? It’s just downtown, next to that cafe.”

“Oh, I would, but the thing is,” I grinned evilly. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to read the sign.”

I shoved Scootaloo playfully on my way out, stopping at the door for a second. I took one last look at Sweetie Belle before setting off for the city.

I sighed tiredly, trudging through the crowded Atlesian streets. Almost midnight, and I still wasn’t all done with what I needed to do. Still, I had Scootaloo’s parts in my bag and I only had one last thing, so I wouldn’t have to bellyache much longer. Last thing was to check out the warehouse where my folks would be storing inventory. Just a quick little inspection, a little head pop in and out to make sure nothing was falling apart and that they’d have enough space. It was simple, and it should’ve taken me about five minutes.

But someone just had to go and follow me.

I didn’t notice at first. In fact, I didn’t realize it until I made it to the warehouse. I pretended not to, in case they were planning something. I just kept going and listening as if nothing happened. I didn’t want to make them privy to the fact that I knew what they were up to. That’s a good way of getting into a quick fight.

Another good way is to go into a warehouse with only the one exit, which is what I did.

On the bright side, the warehouse was just about perfect. Nice and big, plenty of storage space. Plus, it was only a couple of minutes from where the shop would be. When I saw what I needed to see, I decided to address my tail.

“You gonna show yourself?” I asked the semi-darkness. “Or are you waiting for me?”

“Nice to see you, too.”

I recognized the voice, and that made me madder than a yak in heat.

“You got some guts to come and find me,” I said. “Come out and let me see your sorry ass.”

I turned on the spot, my right hand on my bow and my left working an arrow out of the quiver on my leg. I drew my bow and aimed it, just barely holding back from shooting her in the face.

She had that damn smirk on, like she was enjoying herself. It was like everything was normal. Like she wasn’t a crook. She wore a deep, leafy green hoodie and dusty blue jeans, just like mine. Her arms were crossed over her chest, which meant that she didn’t have her weapons ready. She didn’t think she’d have to fight me.

“Sup, cuz?” Babs’ smirk widened when she realized how irritated I was. “Long time, no see.”

“What do you want?” I asked. “And why shouldn’t I whip out my Scroll and call the cops?”

“I want to talk to you. And you shouldn’t turn me in cause we’re family.” I let loose of my arrow, firing it right at Babs’ head. She swatted it away with the back of her hand. “And I was always stronger than you. I’d knock you out before you could dial.”

“I ain’t no kid no more,” I said. “I’ve been working hard the last two years, trying to make up for what you done did to the family.”

“You can’t blame me for making a name for myself,” said Babs. “Had to put food on the table somehow.” I shot another arrow at her face; this time, she caught it, then broke it over her knee. “Your aim is getting better.”

I split my bow in half, flipping the sharp ends outwards and grabbing the H-shaped hand-grips that unfolded. I took a few steps with my katar in my hands, stopping when Babs finally drew her swords on me.

I always used to laugh at Babs weapon. How the hell are you supposed to kill Grimm with a pair of hair scissors, even ones twice the size? But she showed me. All she had to do was split them in half and she had two sharp, dangerous short swords. If she combined them again, she could string a wire between the blades, load it with a bolt, and turn it into a crossbow.

“What do you want?” I snapped. For the first time, Babs’ smile fell onto the floor someplace.

“I… I need your help.”

“Bite me.”

“Seriously, Bloom. You think I would show my face if I didn’t need to?” She lowered her swords slightly. “At least hear me out. Just once. For old times sake.”

I should’ve beat her down and called the police, but I didn’t. Truth be told, I sorta missed my cousin. We were best friends as kids. We were gonna be Huntresses together. But instead, she decided to waste her talent robbing banks and selling Dust to criminals. Still… I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did without her. Everything I knew about being a team leader, I learned from my cousin.

“What do you want?” I asked, lowering my weapons slightly. Babs sighed, probably relieved that she wouldn’t have to fight me.

“I’m in bad trouble, cuz. I’m in over my head,” said Babs. “Like, way over my head. Damn, Bloom, I don’t know what to do.”

“What happened?”

“Don’t hate me.”

“No promises,” I said. Babs took a seat on the floor, pulled a cigarette from her pocket, and began smoking.

“So I was doing some business with the White Fang,” said Babs. I dropped my katars.

“You what?!” I shouted. Babs held up her hands.

“Look, I ain’t do nothin too bad. I ain’t been fighting for them or nothin,” she promised. “Just business, y’know?”

“What kinda business?”

“Uh… Y’know, selling em stuff.” Babs looked right spooked, which was enough to make me nervous. “Dust, weapon parts, and… Uh… Something called Feral.”

Feral, according to Sweetie Belle, was a kind of drug that Faunus seemed to like. It helped them to party or whatever. The Alabast Corporation has been funding ways to get the stuff off the streets for ages, and Mr. A never was happy when there was a new surge of the junk on the streets.

“Yer joking,” I said. She shook her head. “Damn it, Babs! Selling Feral? That’s ten years, easy.”

“Heh. It would be, if it was just a seller,” chuckled Babs nervously. “But I ain’t. I’m… I sell wholesale. My last deal, I sold em two hundred pounds of the stuff.”

I thought Babs had run outta ways to surprise me, but apparently not. Two hundred pounds of Feral… I didn’t know there were enough terrorists in Atlas to use it all.

“Jesus, Babs… Where do ya—”

“It’s better if you don’t know. I’m taking a big enough risk by even talking to you right now,” said Babs. “If the Fang finds out my cousin is basically an Alabast… I’d be more screwed than I am now.”

“You still haven’t said.” I picked up my katar, flipped it to a bow, and strapped it to my back. “What do you want? Why do you think I’ll do it? Why should I help you, after how you turned your back on the family?” Babs sighed, flicking her cigarette onto the floor.

“I left the family a long time ago, cuz, and I still don’t think I made the wrong call,” she said stubbornly. “But I didn’t come to you begging forgiveness. I need your help, and you can’t rightly say no. See, the White Fang took my Feral off my hands, stiffed the bill, and left me for dead in Vacuo. But I found out later that the Feral they bought off me ain’t being used for recreational purposes.”

Babs told me about her meeting with a high-level White Fang leader that they called Lady. She ordered the two hundred pounds of Feral, and offered to pay Babs twenty million Lien. Obviously, Babs accepted and managed to get the product for her employer. Lady buried Babs up to her neck in the desert and, for her trouble, told her what she intended to do with the drugs.

Feral ain’t exactly a health drink for Faunus, but it’s downright lethal to humans. Lady knew that good and well, and she thought she’d exploit that fact. She was gonna dump Feral into the Atlesian water supply. The casualties would be too high to count.

And she was gonna do it tomorrow morning.

“Why the hell did you wait so long?” I snapped, grabbing up my Scroll. “We coulda sent this to General Armor. Now, there’s no time… Damn, I hope the girls are up.” I dialed my team and waited. Two minutes later, and a single line connected.

“AB?” whispered Sweetie sleepily.

“Grab your mic, then wake the girls and bring them here,” I said. “The White Fang are trying to poison the water supply, and we need to stop em.”

I heard Sweetie squeak, then start booking it through the room she was in.

“Scootaloo and DT went back home with Daddy,” she said. “I can’t get a hold of them until morning.”

“We don’t have that long. We’ll have to make do with just the three of us,” I said with a tired sigh.


I looked at my cousin, who was trying to look calm and cool despite the fact that she had just put somewhere around a million people in jeopardy.

“I’ll explain on the way. Meet us by the CCT tower. We’re gonna do some investigation in the meantime.”

“Hey, turn to the left a bit,” I ordered.

“Aye-aye, captain.” Sweetie turned her head, and our view shifted slightly to the right.

“Your other left, sweetheart.”

“I know, I know, I thought I saw something.”

Sweetie Belle turned the right way, and, from on the rooftop of the CCT station, we could see the corner of a truck parked outside of what looked like a rundown, abandoned building. According to Babs, this was where the White Fang would be moving out from.

“You look like you finally lost your damn mind,” said Babs. “You talking to imaginary friends now?”

“My partner,” I answered flatly. “You remember Sweetie?”

“That bougie-ass Alabast you hang with?”

“I can hear you, jerk,” said Sweetie, even though Babs couldn’t hear her.

“She can hear you,” I delivered. After a second of thought, I added, “Asshole.”

Sweetie was at the CCT station, but Babs and I were by the water treatment plant. I couldn’t see what Babs was up to on account of my closed eyes, but I could see what Sweetie was doing thanks to our Semblance.

Sweetie and Diamond were the first ones to discover it, something DT never let us forget. Nobody knew how it happened or why, but we somehow all ended up with the same Semblance. At our commands, two or more of us can share our senses, our skills, and our strength. I could see and hear everything she could, just like she could see and hear everything on my end. That’s why I had my eyes closed, to avoid distracting her.

“What now, AB?” asked Sweetie.

“Babs, what time is it?” I opened my eyes, flooding my view with two different perspectives of vision. It could get kinda crazy, the more of us that were linked up at once. My cousin glanced at her Scroll.

“0300,” she grunted. “We need to move out soon, if we’re gonna get out in front of this.”

“Alright, then. Sweetie, you ready for your first real mission?” I asked. I could tell by the way her portion of my vision bobbed that she was shaking her head.

“Not exactly,” said Sweetie shakily. “If I can’t beat Rarity, how am I supposed to beat a bunch of rabid animals?!”

“Cause Rarity wasn’t trying to kill off the entire human population of Atlas,” I said dryly. “Also, that’s a might racist. I think Adagio and her gals might take offense to that.”

“I’m not racist, I’m—” I felt a hand roughly grab my shoulder, but I knew from how distant it felt that it was actually on Sweetie’s end. She turned and was face to face with the white mask of a Faunus terrorist. “AB!”

“Crap, we gotta move!” I shouted. I took three steps before the Fang member launched his fist at Sweetie’s head. She fell to the ground, but I only stumbled from the pain. “Damnit, Sweetie, I’ll be on you quick! Just hang in there!” I killed the connection, then ran in the direction of the CCT. After a second, I heard Babs fall in behind me.

“Wait up!” she shouted. I ignored her, shifting my legs into overdrive. I rubbed my cheek, the spot where the Fang guy punched Sweetie. It didn’t hurt much to me, but Sweetie was softer than me. Gentler, more tender. If she got hurt because I dragged her into my own problems, I’d never forgive myself.

I was tempted to check in on her with the Semblance, but I didn’t want to distract her, or myself. There were about twelve blocks between us. A mile or two. I had to make it there quicker than quick. Babs kept trying to talk to me, but I ignored her the whole time. I needed to focus on kicking the asses of any White Fang who dared put their hands on Sweetie Belle.

I ran up on the scene just in time to see Sweetie roll out of the way of a White Fang’s shotgun. I quickly drew my bow and fired an arrow in his direction. He dodged it, but then decided to focus on me. As soon as the attention was off of her, Sweetie brought her mic up to her mouth and screamed into it. The White Fang clutched his stomach, dropping to his knees for Sweetie to knock him out with a heavy kick to the head.

“Sweetie!” I ran to her side, pulling out my Scroll to check her Aura. It said she was at 18%. If this were a duel, she would’ve just barely won. She huffed tiredly, dropping her mic and stand to the ground.

“What took you so long?” she panted. “That dude kicked my butt.”

“Ya don’t say,” said Babs. I elbowed her in the gut, which made Sweetie notice her for the first time.

“Babs,” said Sweetie flatly.


“We don’t have time for this crap,” I said. “Sweetie, head home. Babs and I will take it from here.” Sweetie huffed indignantly.

“I can do it, AB,” she swore. “I can help.”

“I’m sure you can, but you dying ain’t worth the help,” I said. She was about to argue, but I stared her down. “I ain’t asking, sweetheart. That’s an order. Go home and call General Armor as soon as possible. Don’t do anything Scoots would do.”

Sweetie opened her mouth to argue again, shutting it once my arrow flew right past her ear. She glared at me, stomped her foot, then begrudgingly ran off in the way of home. She’d be pissed at me for a while, but I’d rather her be pissed than hurt. Or worse. When she was gone, I turned to Babs.

“That truck hasn’t moved yet,” I said, peering at the vehicle in question. “We early? Is this even the right place?”

“For the record, Bloom,” said Babs darkly. “I’m real sorry.”

I was about to ask her what she was sorry for when she hit me. I never saw it coming, and I didn’t feel it until I woke up. I don’t know quite what happened next. I remember falling, but I was out before I even hit the ground.

“Psst. Bloom. Wake up.”

My head was beating like a drum. I went to grab it, only to realize that my arms were tied down by my sides. I blinked, trying to see through the darkness. After a bit, I realized that I was blindfolded. I tried to push it off with my Aura, with nothing happening. Atlas tech, for sure. Probably an Inhibitor, but I couldn’t tell.

“Bloom? You up?” I could hear Babs from somewhere in front of me.

“Babs? What happened?” I struggled in my ropes, fighting for freedom. “Where are we?”

“White Fang compound. You’re meeting with the boss soon.”

“What about the Feral in the water supply?”

“Made it up.” Babs sounded sorry now, but that paled in comparison to how she’d feel if I ever got out those damn ropes.

“You low down, dirty rotten, no-good, yellow-bellied, back-stabbing swamp rat!” I yelled.

“Sorry, cous, got bills to pay.” She ripped my blindfold off, letting me see her sleazy mug. She had dragged me to a dank basement, completely empty except for me and her. She held her scissors in one hand and a fat fistful of Lien in the other.

“Money, money, money, it’s always money!” I couldn’t believe it. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted her. “How much Lien am I worth to you, huh? You done left the whole family behind for a couple thousand, how much is your favorite cousin worth?”

“Ten million Lien,” said Babs solemnly.

I had a real “the hell did she just say?’ moment right there.

“Sorry, what? Ten million Lien?”

“Yeah. You’re worth a lot of money to some folks.” Babs slipped her money in her pocket. “Wanna know what’s messed up? This ain’t even half of what I owe my people.” She sat down next to me, letting out a frustrated sigh. “I didn’t lie about everything. I really am in over my head. And if I gotta sink someone in order to stay afloat, then I’m gonna do it, y’know?”

“That ain’t you. You’re selfish as hell, but you ain’t cold enough to just throw your cousin to the wolves,” I said, struggling pointlessly to free my arms. If only Sweetie was here… “You try to be tough, act hard, but I know you.”

Knew me. Things have changed since the picnics with Granny,” said Babs angrily. “In my world, I gotta act hard. When you hang around people like the ones I do, being soft is a sin.”

“So is greed, but that don’t seem to worry you none.”

Babs was gonna say something, but she stopped herself when she heard the door open upstairs. She quickly put my blindfold back on, then stood up. I heard footsteps, someone wearing heels. The steps stopped, and then it was quiet for a bit.

“What is this?” The voice echoed and warped as she spoke, heavily filtered through a voice modifier. It was creepy, that's for sure, and that short sentence was enough to scare Babs stiff.

“Uh… She's the Huntress I promised you,” said Babs. “One of them, anyway. I figured—”

“I was promised the heiress to the Alabast corporation. Did you think that was merely a suggestion? An optional objective?”

“N-no, not at all, I just—”

“You guaranteed me four Huntresses with unique Semblances.” The creepy-voice chick seemed to be getting fed up. “You assured me that one of them was an Alabast. I paid you handsomely for that, and you deliver to me… what, exactly?”

“Listen, Lady, I swear, this is one of the four. They got this mind sharing thing,” said Babs. “You got one, but she can get the others. They feel what’s going on in each other’s bodies, the other three will know she’s in danger.”

“And I suppose I should just take the word of a human, then?” said Lady. I heard her drop something heavy to the floor, then start slowly dragging it as she moved forward. Her sword. “You’ve disappointed me too many times, human. I grow tired of our cooperation. I think it may be time to end our partnership.”

“Hey!” I shouted. “Don’t hurt her!”

“Shut up, human, you’re next.”

“She’s telling the truth! We share a Semblance, me and the Alabast!” Lady yanked off my blindfold, bringing her face within inches of my own. She didn’t have a mask like a normal Fang. Hers covered her whole face instead of just the eyes, and it looked more like a spider or a mantis than a Grimm. She wore a black hooded cloak, which made her look like some sort of cult leader. Given her position in the White Fang, that shouldn’t have surprised me.

“Finally, a human with something useful to say,” she giggled. She hefted up her sword, a flamberge zweihander so big that I doubted I could lift it alone, and pointed it at my throat. “Shared Semblances? Those are a bit on the rare side. What assurance do I have that you’re telling the truth?”

“I ain’t no liar,” I said. “Never lied a day in my life.”

“Humans are liars by default. It’s in your nature.”

“I swear on my life,” I said. “Don’t hurt her. She’s telling the truth.” Lady laughed, strapping her sword to her back.

“You swear on your life? Aren’t you supposed to swear on something with value?” sneered Lady. “Strangely enough, I believe you. So, I say unto you this: Bring the Alabast here, or I will kill your cousin here. Then, if you are lucky, I will only make you suffer for a while.”

“She was telling the truth, but it don’t work like that,” I huffed. Not like I would give my girls up to this chick anyway. “It’s not on all the time, and we can only turn it on when we’re near each other. The girls are all the way at the Academy. You think you got the man-power to walk into Atlas Academy, kick down the door, and yank three students out they bed?”

Lady laughed, slapping me gently across the face.

“Yes, I do,” she giggled. “It wouldn’t even be hard.” Her confidence scared me to death. “But there are a lot of Faunus at that school, and the last thing the White Fang wants is to harm innocent, misguided brothers and sisters.” She grabbed my face by the chin almost lovingly. “But I suppose a human like you couldn’t be bothered to think about loss of Faunus life.” This time, her slap was anything but gentle. She grabbed me by the throat and pulled me to my feet with strength that didn’t really belong to a girl her size.

“Hey, hey, be easy on her!” said Babs.

“Shut up, stupid,” I managed to gasp that out despite the fact that Lady was crushing my windpipe.

“I should kill you right now. Grind you under my boot,” whispered Lady. I summoned the last of my waning strength and used it to spit in her face. “And you call us the animals. You’re coming with me. You, human, return her blindfold.” Lady threw me back on the ground, finally letting me do important stuff like breathe.

“Where are you taking her?” asked Babs.

“To my base of operations. My scientists will figure out how her Semblance works,” answered Lady. “Then, she will be killed, and you will be paid for your trouble.” That seemed enough for my cousin, who brought the blindfold back over my eyes. She kissed me on the forehead before reaching to the back of my neck and yanking off something.

The Inhibitor. Not much I could do currently. She didn’t even deactivate it, which meant my Aura would slowly come back on its own. Did me about as good as a stapler in terms of escape, but the fact that Babs took it off… What exactly did that mean?

“So, Uh… Lady,” said Babs. “What do you plan to do with the Semblance? When you crack the code or whatever?”

“Give it to every White Fang in Remnant,” said Lady, pulling me along and, I assume, out of the basement. “With every brother and sister feeding me audio and visuals… We can’t lose.”

“Yer an idiot,” I said. “I sometimes pass out if just three of us share senses for too long. What you’re trying to do? Your head will pop like a grape, just like every Faunus you got linked in.”

“Do not speak as if you understand the powers of the Faunus mind. Our psyche is a thousand times more powerful than a human can even fathom.”

I slowly felt my Aura return. Except… It wasn’t my Aura. It was similar, but something about it felt different. It was like soda; This new Aura was a different brand than what I was used to. Then, it dawned on me. Babs was sharing her energy with me.

“Babs?” I said.

“AB, cover your ears.”

That wasn’t Babs who said that. Nobody else seemed to hear it. My suspicions were confirmed when my eyes seemed to open, and I was staring down at myself out on the street.

“Babs,” I said. “Cover your ears.” I assumed she heard me and listened, because I instantly did the same, then shouted. “Let em have it, Sweetie!”

Sweetie shouted into her microphone, her beautiful, melodious singing voice ringing through the empty street. Even with my hands clamped firmly over my ears, the song leaked through and made me kinda nauseous. I imagine that Lady was puking in her mask.

I felt Babs tug off my blindfold. Babs was on all fours, trying to keep her insides from leaking out. Lady had passed out right there on the pavement. Babs handed me my bow, then pushed me away.

“Go. Lady won’t stay out for long,” she coughed.

“Babs, I—”

“Beat it, cous!”

I looked at Babs one last time, struggling to get to her feet, then gently punched her on the shoulder.

“See ya around,” I said, before running off to meet up with Sweetie Belle. My partner cut off our Semblance, then dropped down to meet me down the street.

“Where are we going?” asked Sweetie, pulling out her Scroll. “We need to call the police!” I grabbed her around the wrist, shaking my head.

“Let her go. She’s been through enough,” I said. Sweetie reluctantly did as I said, returning her Scroll to her pocket. “Thanks for the save, Sweetie.”

“Don’t mention it. I’m glad Scootaloo taught me never to listen to authority figures.” Sweetie looked at me with concern. “You sure about this? Can we let her go?”

“I gotta. Family is family,” I said. “It’s okay. Once she has her business taken care of… She’ll come around.”

I couldn’t possibly know that for sure. In fact, history said that Babs would keep lying, cheating, and stealing her way into tough situations. I had to hope that she didn’t get into too much trouble. But I couldn’t worry about her. I had to focus on paying Sweetie back. Not just for the save today. For everything.

Author's Note:

Ah, welcome back to the world of Remnant! As usual, this story will be accompanied by another, written by Prince Conjure. In this instance, the companion story follows Team SABR, led by Spike at Shade Academy. Furthermore, this is also a "sequel" to SSTT and FRRP, though it takes place during approximately the same timeframe.

As usual, reading the other stories aren't 100% required to understand what's going on, but it would do you a world of good (plus, they're quite good, so you might enjoy them)