RWBY: Break the Storm

2: Construction

He had to shorten the extension mechanism by two inches. Otherwise the blades could be loose and get knocked out with the first strike from over extension. That or the blades would just shoot out whenever he activated them and end up impaling somebody.

Actually that could be pretty useful. Funny too even. If he got captured and told to put his hands on his head, the blades would just shoot out, catch them all off guard and leave them vulnerable to a thrashing like no other. Better yet, he could implant homing micro-jets to program the blades to fly back to him after hitting a target. Maybe as a neat secondary function….

Note to self: add projectile function to blade. Also, micro-jet guiding system?

No, that idea could be added later. For when he had time. This current tech oopsie had to be addressed first, or he’d inevitably end up making something part gun, part sword, part motorcycle, and part coffee maker. He wasn’t even sure how coffee makers kept appearing in his designs, he didn’t even drink coffee. Mom said it was “just a phase” of his, that it was something his dad went through at Beacon, and to not pay it any real attention. According to dad it always came back to coffee makers. That, or washing machines.

Someday he had to ask what bizarre combination of genes he had inherited from his parents, like his and Nadja’s sapphire-blue hair for one. But possible genetic disorders could wait. He had lethal toys to build.

“Nadja, could you please toss me the number three screwdriver, the welder, a wrench and another piece of Kriegonite sheet metal?” As he continued his work, a small welder landed neatly on the table, followed closely by a rectangular alloy piece. Perfect, now he just needed a wrench!

Several seconds passed. He remained without a wrench. Perhaps Nadja wasn’t fully listening? With some regret Axel tore his eyes from his project to survey his room. The floor was peppered with lab materials. Tools, bits of metal, and dozens of unusual mechanisms and gizmos were scattered all over, including Axel’s bed. But his eyes did not find the phantom wrench. Not a trace.

“Hey sis where’d you put the- woah!”

Before he could even finish his inquiry, a blunt and weighty object came spinning through the air. Out of the corner of his eye, Axel saw it come spinning straight at him with frightening precision. Axel ducked under its arc, barely avoiding a heavy hit to his forehead. The metal object hit the wall, bouncing off with faint clang and landing on his desk.

It was the wrench, thrown with frightening precision from a skilled marksmen. A strong-willed and proud sibling that now stood in the doorway, glaring at her brother with a smug grin on her lips.

Katja.

“If I had thrown that seriously Axel, you’d be feeling more than a headache right now.”

“I don’t know,” Axel snarled “I think I avoided that pretty well.” Katja wasn’t impressed.

“Don’t kid yourself. If you can get caught off guard by a lazy toss like that,” Her grin faded. “imagine yourself in a dark forest, with no backup, no map, and no idea how many Grimm are going to be barreling down on you from any direction.” The image passed through Axel’s mind. In the middle of the night, lost, alone. Hundreds if not thousands of Grimm out there that could only desire one thing, to tear him limb from bloody limb.

“No.” he responded, shaking his head to free his mind of the horrifying image he spontaneously conjured up, and returned his gaze to Katja’s own cruel eyes. “A true Hunter would not be afraid of giving their life in combat against the Grimm.”

There was a dead silence in the room, disturbed only by the occasional mouse-clicks heard from Nadja’s bunk. Axel held his ground against his sister. He was determined to stand up to her one of these days. But then something strange happened. Katja’s eyes flashed a hint of something Axel had never seen in her since his accident; Sadness.

“You have the intelligence to build weapons, and you know the tactics of fighting Grimm. But brains or courage alone aren’t going to save you from gunshots or claws. A true hunter would have complete control over their senses Axel. They could track Grimm based on smell or hearing alone, even if they were miles away.”

“What are you getting at Katja.” Axel ground out. “I’m busy.”

“You can’t be a hunter Axel, if you can’t see what you’re trying to hunt. With those shots of pain you’re getting from those eyes...Well, you wouldn’t last a minute against the Grimm.”

With a single contemptuous smirk, Katja left Axel with his pile of nick-nacks, and a sense that he had just been stared down by some massive predator, like he was a measly scrap of meat that had been looked over and disregarded for being too small, not worth what little trouble it would take to eat him whole. Axel turned back to his project, the small mess of a workstation with his weapons in the dead center.

The damn things were so close to being perfected. All that needed fixing was the extension mechanism. When they were complete he’d be on a straight path to becoming a full-fledged Hunter. A life full of glory, adventure, combat, and a chance to explore the unknown. He’d grow up to be a strong, fierce, and famous hunter just like his mom. That was what he wanted more than anything in the world….Wasn’t it?

“Thanks for helping out there sis.” Axel muttered, directing his voice toward the top bunk. As with so many times before, the only response from Nadja were the endless clicks and taps of her keyboard. Axel found it more than a bit odd that she seemingly hadn’t noticed Katja busting into their room. Then again Nadja probably had some top of the line headphones to drown out the world around her, especially him.

He didn’t blame her, not really. The accident had affected the whole family, not just him. It was nothing he could change right now. Maybe Nadja would be open to talking later, maybe in a few days, he couldn’t be sure. All he had right now was the task in front of him, the completion of his soon to be hunting weapons. Genius constructs if he did say so himself.

“You have the intelligence to build weapons.”

Axel’s arm slowly stretched out to pick up the wrench. He lazily turned it around and over in his hand. Then he picked up the welder, along with the sheet of Kriegonite. The mechanism was in front of him. He had all the tools at his disposal and the know-how to make it all work. Now, he just had to make the jump.

Just make the first adjustment.

“You know the tactics of fighting Grimm.”

It was easy. He could do this. First came the wrench. Careful not to tamper with the inner workings, Axel began tightening the extension mechanism. The “gauntlets” - he had yet to come up with a name for them - would clamp up once the extension was activated. The programming worked, the blades themselves were just slightly out of alignment. A careful nudge or two fixed that. The bolts went in nicely enough. He made doubly sure they were secure this time. Next came a screwdriver.

“But brains or courage alone aren’t going to save you from gunshots or claws.”

The sounds of machinery clicking into place were like music to his ears. The smell of metal and the feel of fitting mechanisms together, the rush of creating a tool and seeing it work or fail, both of which presented unique opportunities.

“A true hunter would have complete control over their senses Axel. They could track Grimm based on smell or hearing alone, even if they were miles away.”

Failure showed problems that had to be fixed, and fixing them required understanding of the problem. Success showed that a solution had been reached, which meant it was possible to add on to that success. The sensation was almost euphoric. The joy he felt when working like this was so impalpable, so amazing he would sometimes shiver from the rush of creating. His lower eyelids were practically twitching in excitement.

All he had to do was complete this, and he had a future, a chance to fight and kill Grimm. That was what he desired, to fight. There was no doubt of that. He knew what he wanted. He was doing good. Better than good, he was great. He felt fine...

“You can’t be a hunter Axel, if you can’t see what you’re trying to hunt.”

Everything in Axel’s view went blurry. He couldn’t see anything clearly at all. The wrench suddenly turned into a gray blob, the welder was some blue rod-like thing. Or was that the welder? For all he could tell it was his water-bottle. Nothing could be made out on his desk, it all blended together as some metal-gray mess mixed in with deep reds and dark blues, the only distinguishable things he could see were his hands.

Either the focus settings needed to be readjusted, or…

“Oh no-”

Suddenly his vision flashed red. An electrifying sensation zapped in his eyes. It was another episode, attacking him, assaulting him from out of nowhere. The intensity of it made his eyes scrunch up in pain. His hands gripped the sides of the desk with all his strength, as he tried to distract steel himself against the inevitable crash. Like a lightning strike, the sensation shot through his nerves and right to his brain. There it branched out, going off in thousands of directions at once, filling his brain as a maelstrom.

Chaos. Pain. Blindness. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t see. He could barely even think through the storm his mind was thrown into. Like a fish in a tsunami, he was being swept under a crushing wave that threatened to drown him in murky, crushing agony. It was taking all his effort to resist moving. If he moved a single muscle the pain would just react and stab him with paralyzing aches like thousands of hot needles. His hands and forehead were sweating from the effort. He had to stand firm, he had to fight this.

Mom. He needed to call mom. She could help him. Even if the meditation didn’t work she could back him, give him a foundation to at least resist this pain that would just not leave him no matter what he tried! He couldn’t let this beat him! If it did, he couldn’t become a hunter, his lifelong dream! To kill. To fight. To die. Of course it was the right path for him, the path of a warrior like mom! He wanted it, he needed it! But these episodes came at random, and always so suddenly like this. If something like this happened when he was tinkering, if he was on the battlefield….

“With those shots of pain you’re getting from those eyes...Well, you wouldn’t last a minute against the Grimm.”

This was impossible! Between his sisters words bouncing around in his head, and the searing pain that was overriding all of his senses to the point of unconsciousness...It was too much! It didn’t matter if he fought or surrendered to this enemy, either one would only bring him pain. What could he do against it? It was all so overwhelming that he almost didn’t notice the sounds of tiny, dainty footsteps slowly creeping up behind him. Almost.

“Nadja. Do you need something.” He was trying his best not to wail his lungs out right then and there, and it was taking all his focus on squeezing the desk just to make coherent speech. He couldn’t take this right now.

“I’m curious on the state of your weapons brother.” Unfortunately Nadja didn’t seem to notice the fact her brother wasn’t moving an inch while she made idle chit-chat.

“Almost done. Extender needs fixing.”

“You still haven’t done that? I thought you were ready to get back in the training room.”

“I...Miscalculated some variables.”

“You mean you thought it would all work on the first go.”

“That’s a...Nice way of putting it.” His hand tightened as another bolt of pain sparked him.

“I think you should start from the ground up, redo your plans.”

“Don’t need to. Plans are fine. Dad looked over them.”

‘You know, dad’s been wrong before. He did make the dryer eject explosive laundry.”

“I trust him. Don’t you?” Axel’s brow was growing beady with sweat.

“I do, its just that he can make mistakes sometimes. I mean these weapons might fail.”

“They won’t Nadja.” Another spike, another twitch. She paused at Axel’s subdued tone.

“Can you be sure? there’s hundreds of ways it might go wrong. It might be safer to just-”

Finally the floodgates cracked. Axel’s fist jerked for a split second. Axel clenched it with all the strength he could muster through the flames and barbs in his body.

“It. Will. Work!” With a single word filled with the pain and desperation of a mind on the brink of collapse, he shouted far louder than he meant to. Nadja jumped slightly behind him, likewise caught off guard by the outburst.

Axel couldn’t see, he couldn’t think. The gesture only made things worse. Now the pain in his arm was almost unbearable, like being wrapped in barb wire. What’s more he was pretty sure that Nadja wasn’t going to take it well.

“I didn’t think you were so married to throwing your life away brother.”

No, not well at all.

“I mean you were always courageous, but I didn’t think you of all people would be throwing themselves on the front lines like this.” Axel had learned that all women in the family had sharp tongues. Nadja was no different, if anything she was a prodigy of venomous speech, and the ice in her voice spoke well enough of that.

“Last I checked sis,” Axel’s jaw clenched. “You were looking to become a hunter yourself.”

“Of course. I have an ideal skill-set for a hunter. I’m smart, fast, and calculating.”

“So you have said. Many times.”

“Not to mention the Krieger name will help with getting notoriety.”

“I know sis.” he snarled on accident, silencing Nadja for a few brief wonderfully silent moments of reprieve. But it was all too short.

“Brother...Why do you want to do this? With your skill-set Dad would gladly put you in his research division. I bet you could be churning out new inventions to help people all over Remnant in no time at all if you focused on mechanics and cybernetic technology.”

“Inventions entertain me. They don’t inspire me like they do for dad.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Why do you want to be a hunter?”

“Sis, please...I’m kind of busy right now..”

Axel’s mind wouldn’t stop coursing with pain. With those words, it definitely jumped in speed. What were once rapid bolts traveling through his head were now growing into a hellish inferno, burning his entire being. He couldn’t think about her question, he had to focus on holding back the pain. But he wanted to fight. He wanted to be a glorious warrior fight in humanities name! He knew exactly why he was doing this. He knew his reasons perfectly.

So why couldn’t he hold out against the pain, like it was eating away at him whenever he tried to push it back? The fire from Nadja’s question burned almost as intensely as the pain did. Why did he want to become a Hunter? Though Nadja seemed to reach her own conclusion.

“Is it because of that girl?”

Then, everything stopped. The quiet breeze through the house, the creak of wood under Axel’s hand, it all fell silent. To Axel, the world drifted away, fading into blackness when those words escaped Nadja’s lips and slithered their way into his mind. But the question did not upset him, or even exacerbate his condition. It sparked something deep within.

Through the raging flames of his attack, there was a single spot in his mind. Almost unnoticeable, but Axel could feel it clearly now. A place that had lost all sensation in spite of the storm. It was a small spark of clarity, a sliver of his thought processes that were free of all pain. One piece that could still think, and think of only one image: two bright yellow eyes, filled with tears.

“Right,” Nadja brushed her hair aside while Axel was affixed to his desk. “That makes sense. Throw your life away because of that faunus.” Nadja’s words were dripping with venom, covered in that same tone she had begun using since his accident. “That’s perfectly logical. You find someone you like being with, you want to go off and play away from your family. Your siblings.” Axel could hear a sharp inhale from his sister.

“You play with her, you have fun out on the city rooftops. You have the time of your life and start to like her. Her a faunus street-rat, you a child of a multi-million dollar weapons manufacturer. What could’ve gone wrong?”

Her words bit like a viper. If there was one thing that hurt Axel just as much as his episodes, it was hearing his baby sister spout such blind hate of a people she didn’t even know.

But the real shocker to Axel wasn’t Nadja’s words, disheartening as they were. No, the true surprise was that Axel had the brain capacity to even understand those words.

“Is that all you’re thinking about? Sacrificing yourself, just so you could have a chance at finding her again when she ran away? Giving your life because some girl blinded you?”

The more Axel thought of...Her, the more his mind started to clear. The pain was still intense beyond belief, but more and more sections of his body were losing that stabbing sensation. He could see the desk more clearly now, distinguish between the various tools and bits of scrap before him. He was even able to process his sisters words now, and he did not like what he was hearing.

“Don’t you have something to say brother?” She spat out like a foul taste.

“Nadja.” Axel ground out his sister’s name, grip still tight on his desk. “I’m very sorry to ask this of you, but could you please just stop talking?” Nadja only took that as a challenge.

“What, you can’t face the facts? That the faunus was a lying, manipulative-” Axel’s fist suddenly spasmed, sending another burst of electricity through his entire arm. For a split second his arm that had remained affixed to the desk lifted itself up ever so slightly. Then, with force of will that was slowly regaining control of his body, the fist came crashing down on the desk. Several gizmos and tools were scattered from his desk, loudly clattering as a rain of metal on the bedroom floor. For a few seconds, the room was dead silent.

Axel remained where he sat. By now he was slumped over his desk as his breathing came heavy to his lungs, weighing down on him as if he was burdened by bricks, compressing him. His throat felt itchy. His hands were numb, especially the one that had slammed the desk. The rest of his body was covered in the familiar prickly sensation, though much less prominent. The only exception were his eyes, which felt like balls of ice shoved in his skull. They numbed the initial pain, while at the same time creating a whole new type of discomfort. With weariness drenching his entire being, Axel’s eyes inched open, slowly crawling apart against the pressure of his exhaustion.

But despite all the sensation he felt, that the after-effects of his pain still lingered in his skull, he could see. He could think. His thoughts weren’t being drowned out by the attack on his senses. There was a haze, a sluggishness like tar slowing him. It might stick around for a minute or two, yet he could think and comprehend his situation. There weren’t any white hot needles in his limbs or chest, or burning sensation in his head. There wasn’t the temptation to curl into a ball or smash whatever was nearest to him. Something had changed, and his sister had somehow triggered the reaction.

“Nadja, do you-” She wasn’t there. Axel’s vision shifted to the bunk beds, where Nadja must’ve taken residence. But she wasn’t on her bed either. In fact, her computer, mouse, and odd holo-equipment were also gone. With one glance at the open door, Axel knew she was long gone now. Probably in the library again, looking for peace and quiet from her insane brother.

The image of him sitting in a corner, giggling while raving about saving all faunus would probably stick to her mind, intentionally or not. A painful wound that needed to be mended. But to force change on his sister would only harm her more, so the only course of action he could think of was to let her be and blow off steam.

Herotated his chair, leaning down to pick up the welding torch and Kriegonite. The inner workings of the blades were tuned up and fit together like legos. Metal legos. Energized metal legos. Specifically legos that worked in conjunction with each other to extend blades capable of slicing through Grimm. They could also shoot explosive dust rounds. Possibly make coffee too if he….

“Dear God dad, what mad brain did you leave me with?” Axel muttered. Questions for another day, if he didn’t end up incinerating himself somehow. With a loud sigh Axel slapped on a pair of goggles, a necessity for this kind of work, especially with his eyes. Even if he could see clearly, he still didn’t have a complete handle on their various mechanisms. Trying to activate the light-masking function might end up triggering night vision or the zoom-in.

At the very least, it was safer to leave the eyes as is and not risk a malfunction. Besides, it was always fun to use more traditional methods of crafting weapons.

He flicked the switch, and the welder burned a bright-blue flame, melting the Kriegonite into place over the inner workings. The slightest error could be catastrophic to the blades, so he had to maintain a steady hand, sliding the tool along the adjoining portions of metal with the grace of a skilled painter. Somehow his hands were now in perfect working order, not wavering once while laying in the final layer of his weapons. At last they’d be completed. Every part would work, he was sure.

The casters had endured their fair share of malfunctions, most of which resulted in something exploding or being electrocuted. Sometimes both. But they were ready, with some advice from that Weiss Schnee girl, a daughter of one of dad’s associates.

Her insight had been invaluable for his project, advising him on the potency of various dust types and how to best harness them. It was odd really, that a girl who was petty and impervious to others could be so professional and even polite when it came to technical matters. Her remarks on his craftsmanship and sketches, while curt at time, were constructive and very helpful. Her words helped perfect his caster designs, somehow.

Weiss Schnee, childish and composed in all facets of her life. One of the greatest questions on his mind was how such a paradox of a woman could become a Hunter, with her whirlwind of emotions. Weren’t Hunters supposed to be in control of body and mind? Shouldn’t they possess a degree of sanity and common sense.

Then again, maybe someone with a few issues to sort through could become as capable of fighting Grimm as anyone else. After all, “The Grimm Reaper was known as a one-woman army, yet she could be just as simple-minded as any child. Yet that didn’t stop her from tearing Grimm apart with her bare hands. Maybe if a person like Weiss could be a Hunter, then someone like him with a few minor visual problems should be able to as well. Right?

Axel shook his head, refocusing on the welding. He couldn’t afford to get distracted during this delicate process The covering was almost done, thankfully. The heat from the welder only added to his sweat-laden brow. Hopefully this would be the last version he’d have to make for a while, unless these spontaneously combusted in the middle of a fight, or scorched the family pizza, or some other terrifying malfunctions He sincerely hoped the blade extension mechanisms wouldn’t react on a whim.

Like when he scratched his nose...

With the image of his blades giving him a nasty piercing embedded in his mind, Axel fueled his resolve to quickly but carefully finished welding on the plate, melting the alloy into its place. Thank god it was aligned properly this time. The edges of the weld were glowing a bright red, but a quick application of a compressed cold air gun took care of that, cooling it all to one silvery surface. But on that surface there were a few blotches, possibly soot.

Taking a rag he quickly removed the stains, rubbing diligently to ensure they were spotless. Next, he grabbed another, darker rag to rub in soft polishing wax. His attack on the metal was absolutely brutal. His every motion assaulted the enemies of dust and stains, wiping them from the face of his weapon. To fail in refinement was to fail utterly, or something poetic to that effect.

After a long instance spent polishing the metal, he was at last satisfied when he glimpsed his own face reflected off the brilliant surface. The gauntlets were to be kept concealed in his sleeves, but there was no reason they couldn’t shine like stars when he took them out. Perhaps he could even blind people with the brilliant glow from his expert polishing. That, or through the use of some burst of light.

Note to self, consider adding flare functions to gauntlets for surprise attacks.

Having scribbled down his latest idea, Axel stepped back to admire his handiwork. There they were, assembled. Axel could see them clear as day when he removed his goggles. The sleek metal that shined off the rays of the golden afternoon sun through the windows. The black leather that would wrap around his arms detailed with flame-like patterns. The metal itself was smooth and plane, but he could add some decorations later. As they were now, he loved them. Two gauntlets, mirror images of each other. Now he had weapons to slay the Grimm without mercy, to help him carve a path into the career of a Hunter. They weren’t just any weapons, they were his works of art.

Axel’s arms slipped into the gauntlets. Once his forearms were in, the gauntlets activated their clamps, extending piece by piece. The folded leather likewise wrapped around his arms, and the clamps secured tightly in place. The fit was perfect, wrapping around him like a second skin. He rotated his arms to get the feel, and found it ideal. There was some weight to them, but it was a good weight that would keep him aware of them. The alloy Kreigonite would be almost unnoticeable to him in combat, would hold up to considerable blunt force trauma without denting, and one would be hard pressed to find a blade capable of slicing it. With all the layers and equipment in these weapons, they were remarkably light, and rather spiffy with the shiny metal. They were perfect.

“Now I just need to come up with a name for you guys.”



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