“So, that made for three dented walls, a cracked column and five broken windows.”
“Six windows, you forgot the one you jumped back through.” Glynda corrected.
“Ah yes, how could I?” Katherine replied, more focused on washing several plates than going against her former classmates photographic memory. She had learned that lesson one too many times before in school. Although there was definitely one thing she could use against her.
“I definitely won today.” she chuckled. Glynda’s eyebrow twitched at those words.
“I humbly disagree. The fight concluded without any clear victor, Damon.”
“We could start another bout if you’re up for it, Witch.” Katherine looked up from her work, dishes still covered in soapy water. She flashed a devious grin, and a faint puff of aura flowed from her body as a soft current. Almost unnoticeable to most, but a woman with honed senses, like Glynda could notice the smallest amount of energy. She slowly turned around with washcloth in hand, facing Katherine with a neutral yet no less deadlier gaze.
“If we do, Alex will, despite his physical frailties, make us both clean it up. I would rather not risk the wrath of a man who once detonated the art building on accident. Nor your children, who will undoubtedly be angry that their desserts, along with the kitchen were reduced to a smoking crater by our fighting. Again.” Glynda’s words did not fall on deaf ears, and she definitely knew that Katherine’s children were her weakness.
“Bah, curse you and your magnificent logical brain.” Katherine grumbled, pulling a face at Glynda. Though she couldn’t help but laugh in her mind at their unique relationship. Her, the boisterous and admittedly thick-headed battering-ram, Glynda the studious prodigy, sporting considerable...Confidence in her own abilities. It was a wonder they hadn’t vaporized the entire campus in their first week of school.
Well, they almost did. It was only the collective efforts of Ozpin, Morrigan, and Alex that they ever came to a tentative truce, and even then there was the occasional unscheduled campus demolition.
After that it was a long string of squabbles that eventually budded into an odd sort of friendship. While they were still intense rivals, they possessed a grudging respect for each other and became a lethal duo whenever they had to fight side by side, which was a common occurrence when they eventually graduated. Many years of fierce competition and missions eventually mellowed them out to the point they considered each other friends, to the point where Katherine even asked Glynda to be her kids godmother.
Though that had been interpreted as a joke the first time she brought it up, the Wicked Witch humbly accepted to be there for the young Kriegers. She had said it was only to ensure the next generation produced capable Hunters, but one look at the four as babies left caused an almost unnoticeable change in the normally cold woman. The Wicked Witch had quickly warmed up to the children. Though she would never admit it of course, she did take genuine interest in their well-being.
“How is Nadja doing? She barely spoke tonight.” Glynda said. Katherine chuckled, remembering that her youngest remained silent as the grave, even when desserts came out.
“She’s doing great in fact. She’s nailing everything the schools can throw at her.”
“...Katherine.” Glynda looked back at her with a knowing frown.
“You know I did not mean her grades.”
“You didn’t?” Katherine lied through her teeth. Glynda could always see through those. It was hard not to see through a woman who had once denied all interest in Alexander even as she stared at him dreamily in class.
“I know she’s excelling academically,” Glynda shrugged faintly “and I am very happy to hear that she is setting her sights on becoming a Hunter. But please, tell me why she was giving Axel a death-glare the entire meal? Most Grimm would be terrified of such a gaze.”
“I guess she gets that from me.” Katherine joked. But her humor fell on deaf ears.
“Well for the most part she’s doing well.” Katherine picked up a pile of moist dishes, carrying them over to Glynda’s station. “She and the twins are getting along swimmingly, and she’s always very kind and courteous to others.” Katherine set the dishes down, and turned a glare to Glynda’s observing eyes. “Though she’s starting to develop a smug streak.” Glynda couldn’t help but feel like there was an unspoken accusation in there somewhere.
“So, how is she getting along with her older brother?”
“...Not well.” Katherine said. She spoke with a dead tone.
Glynda had only heard that voice once before, at Morrigan’s funeral. All that Katherine felt about her youngest kids relationship with each other was expressed in those two words alone. Glynda wordlessly took up the dishes, while Katherine returned to her own workstation.
For the rest of their washing session, the two did not speak to each other out of some unspoken vow. For all her animated demeanor, Katherine could be the most dower person Glynda knew. Whether it was when discussing her Clan or the loss of a comrade near and dear to them all, the “Grimm Reaper” could be the most human of them all.
Even if she was a literal half-blood demon.
The Dishes were wiped of food, washed, dried, and returned to their shelves. With the usual combination of Katherine’s speed and Glynda’s fastidiousness, the chore was quickly finished, and the two stood in a clean, sparkling kitchen. Katherine had whipped up some herbal tea for them when it was all done, and the two sat across from each other at the kitchen island table. For a time they remained in peaceful silence, sipping and hearing the faint sounds of night-time crickets outside. But the peace could only last so long.
Eventually, Glynda decided it was time to get down to business. Grim business.
“So, about why I came here Katherine-”
“To hear my children’s shining adoration of you?” she interrupted.
“...The real reason is not that, and stop spreading that rumor.” she faintly snarled.
“Oh come on you know you love it.”
“My. Real. Reason. Damon.” Glynda was on the edge of her seat. “I have a mission.”
Katherine leaned back in her chair, trying and barely succeeding to hide her giggles. Glynda chose to ignore that. For now. Right now there was business to discuss. Setting down her tea, Glynda pulled out the Hunter-standard issue scroll from her pocket. The device extended into its normal size, blinking to life at Glynda’s touch. The device let out a series of beeps and boops as her fingers zipped through its functions and files. She arrived at her needed document, and the scroll expanded further to the length of her forearm.
“Here.” She set the scroll down on the table as it lit up with the image of a map, a small but extravagantly constructed town, located exactly three-hundred and fifty miles away from Beacon’s capital.
“Lantern’s Gale.” Katherine nodded. “I thought the town’s defenses were up and running from the last Grimm attack. Did they shirk on the defense budget again?” One of her briefest missions was fighting off a few hundred of the beasties while the townsfolk ran about like headless chickens, and the law enforcement huddled in their offices hoping the danger would pass if they ignored it.
“Actually, they are. The last wave of Grimm convinced the mayor to finally put up security systems. They’ve since added Alex’s new manned turrets, civilian bunkers, and even begun training their own militia. But what they haven’t added are..”
“Spines?” Katherine guessed, shrugging when Glynda narrowed her eyes.
“Unfortunately, no they have not. Last week, their scouts found signs of Grimm in the area. Roughly two-hundred in number. Types consist of Ursas, Beowulves, and apparently a few King Taijtus, if the message we received from the mayor is to be believed.”
The map lit up several small red lights scattered a considerable distance away from the town, concentrated behind several mountains to the north and within walking distance of the only usable path through them. When they would attack, the Grimm would be forced into a bottleneck. With some respectable firepower those beasties would be reduced to black stains.
“Why come to the Hunters for help? That number of Grimm hardly requires a Hunter of your caliber.” Katherine said. It wasn’t mere praise, it was a cold hard fact. Glynda was more than capable of singlehandedly slaughtering of Grimm three times the piddily force approaching the town. But what surprised her was what Glynda said next..
“Correction, Hunters of our caliber.” she said. Katherine’s eyebrow shot up her forehead.
“To clarify, “ Glynda said. “the mayor is asking for ‘top-caliber’ Hunters to provide aid. He specifically asked for the Grimm Reaper and the Wicked Witch.. Even with their defenses, the people are scared of any attack coming out of the blue and wiping them off the map.”
“So they’re asking us to provide what, moral support? I’m not a cheerleader...Anymore.”
“No. They want us to catch the Grimm horde before it ever arrives.” Glynda sighed.
“So they want us to show up when we aren’t even needed to fight a Grimm horde that can easily be blasted apart by their defenses and own soldiers, because they’re scared of fighting for and relying on their own strength.” Katherine chuckled. “I never thought we’d be babysitting an entire town.”
“We have interesting careers indeed.” Glynda agreed. Katherine took a mighty swig of her tea, finishing it with a happy sigh as she looked back at her friend. Her friend, who remained silent. Even for one as composed as the infamous Goodwitch, this was very odd. Offering a pitifully easy assignment when there were far greater threats to Remnant such as the White Fang or the hordes in the Dark Continent. They would both gladly fight to protect humanity, but this mission was ridiculous. A hilariously small Grimm horde - for them at least - attacking a town already guarded by Krieger weaponry and a reportedly well-trained militia. The pay would be good considering the luxurious nature of Lantern’s Gale, but this was something either one of them could handle with little difficulty.
“Glynda, there’s something you’re not telling me.” Katherine leaned in, examining her friend with eyes that completely shattered the image of a goofy and loud-mouthed person. Her sapphire-blue eyes burned like the flames of hell. Glynda often forgot that underneath the jokes, the childish demeanor, and thick-headedness of her once loathed rival, there resided one of the most feared fighters on Remnant, the Grimm Reaper.
Or as she was known to her clan, “Carnage Katherine.”
If it had been anyone else, Katherine’s glare would have knocked them out cold or even create the spontaneous need for physical relief. But the two of them, the Grimm Reaper and the Wicked Witch, stood on equal footing. For Glynda, this was her friend demanding answers. Answers that she had quite frankly dangled in front of her. Possibly it was an old reflex from school holding sway over her, but whatever the reason, she had to tell her old friend what the Witch was actually cooking up this time.
“Its our job, as Hunters is to fight the Grimm.” Glynda set down her tea. “But I as a teacher, have another duty, to ensure that the next generation can continue to defend the rest of humanity. Every so often I have to recruit potential talent.”
“Please, cut to the point Glynda.” Katherine sighed.
“Very well. I’m here to request that you bring Axel with us.”
The Krieger Manor library was a peaceful place. No matter the time of day, guests could enjoy peace and quiet conversation in the great library. Its shelves reached all the way up to the manor's roof, the equivalent of four whole floors stuffed with books.
For Axel and Nadja, the library was a sanctuary, and they both could enjoy some quiet in it despite their strained relationship. In the center of the library they read their books, while their father worked on a large whiteboard. Axel relaxed on a couch with a history book on famous Hunters, while Nadja read "Theoretical Dust Physics," a book Axel had taken one look at before his brain started to hurt from all the complex equations."Hey, dad?"
"Yes Axel? Did you have a question on P.A.D.S?"
Axel shifted in his seat to peer over the couch. "P.A.D.S? Pads?"
"Yes!" his father chirped, spinning on his heels. "Personal Attack and Defense System." He stepped to the side, showing his drawings. On the left was a backpack of some sort with a small turret that was indicated to be extending. In the middle was that same backpack, but with two small propellers instead of a turret, and Axel could see from some notes that it was designed to project a force field. On the right was the most differing form, a boxy drone that sported those same propellers, and two tiny cannons under its base.Axel found his head tilting at the device. It wasn't the oddest thing his father had designed, not by a long shot. If it got manufactured he would love to try out a combo jet pack, turret, and drone. But there was one feature that seemed odd to him."Actually I was curious about something else. But why does the drone have a TV for a face?" Alexander's mouth opened, but no sound came out. He looked confused now, leaving Axel quite confused. Alexander looked to Nadja, whom was inexplicably reading her book upside down."Sweetie, why does it have a TV for a face?" he asked. Without missing a beat Nadja responded."Because that'll help endear it to soldiers and make it more effect at communicating. Also because you love my input ever so much."Axel turned to his sister. "You just wanted it to be able to flash a kitty face, didn't you sis.""The kitty face protocol is irrelevant in this discussion brother." Nadja continued reading, either choosing to ignore or just flat out not noticing the suspicious eyes of her brother. "Yes. . .Anywho," Axel turned back to his father. "I was actually curious about something else. I feel like this history book is exaggerating a bit."
"In what way?" Alexander responded as he strolled to his son. "With this one battle, "The Battle of Midnight Gap," that one stretch near the Dark Continent's border. The book says that Aunt Maxine, Morrigan, and mom fought off ten thousand Grimm on their own before reinforcements arrived, killing five thousand of them in the span of ten minutes."
"Really? Well I'll be.""That can't be true can it? I mean the book must be exaggerating. It says that mom and Aunt in particular used some kind of napalm to soften them up while Morrigan peppered them with lightning bolts." Axel's statement made his father narrow his eyes, before he gently took the book from his son to inspect.
"Well that can't be right. The Grimm casualty count is just wrong. They didn't kill five thousand." he muttered."Right? I mean they have to be exaggerating don't-"
"They wiped out the entire horde." he stated. "I. . .I'm sorry dad? Axel felt his mouth dropping. His father seemed to not register his surprise and handed him back the book."Your mother, aunt, and Morrigan never called for reinforcements. They never needed them. The entire horde was wiped out to the last Beowolf."
"You're kidding me dad.""I wish I was. Morrigan in particular used. . .Well I wouldn't say she just used lightning bolts. It was closer to an entire storm being projected from her hands. I could swear she summoned a hurricane at one point as well." Alexander scratched his chin in thought.
"And that bit about your mother and aunt using napalm is just laughable."That last bit made Axel raise an eyebrow. "Well it said that the entire area was scorched by some kind of explosion."
"It was," Alexander nodded. "just not by napalm. I'll tell you when you're older. Just take solace in the fact that your mom, your aunt, and Morrigan wiped out an entire army from the Dark Continent in under ten minutes!" Alexander smiled, a face that utterly failed to make Axel not picture his mom carving her way through entire legions."Mom can be scary sometimes, you know that right dad?""Oh come now!" Alexander laughed, rubbing his son's hair. "Your mom is a powerful Huntress but she's not that-"Suddenly a terrific explosion of sound cut off Alexander's words. He, along with his children were all suddenly knocked off balance and fell to the floor. A horrid screech had echoed throughout the manor, making Axel cover his ears to prevent going deaf.
The floor of the manor was shaking just as much as the air did. The whiteboard fell to the ground, scattering pens all over the place. The pile of books near Nadja's chair collapsed, almost landing on her head if she wasn't scurrying towards her dad with all haste, screeching like an eagle the whole way.
Alexander took his daughter in his arm just as Axel managed to get underneath the couch, covering his head with his hands. Then, just as quickly as the calamity started, it had stopped. The air was quiet, and the ground was still. Axel peaked out from under his couch, seeing his dad and sister still huddled underneath the other couch. Nadja's eyes were darting from side to side as if she expected another one to come any second. Alexander meanwhile looked merely annoyed with the predicament.
"And now the pens are all over the floor. Spectacular." he grumbled. "It's going to take me forever to find them all. Can't even imagine what pissed off your mother to pull a roar like that."
"So, mom doesn't scare you huh Dad?" Axel was crawling out from under the couch. "Well. . .Either your grandpa Keiser is here and decided to announce his arrival with an earthquake, or Glynda said something to piss off your mother. Either way I'm not scared at all."
"Really.""Okay, maybe a little. Just a bit."