Axel’s head felt sore. The pain in his body was still very much there, stabbing every inch of him when he made the tiniest movement. Somehow the afterlife was turning out to be just as painful as his normal one. He was supposed to be at peace, not lying in the dirt. Unless…
The feeling had returned to his hands so that he could feel the ground. Cold, moist grass lay between his fingers, as well as his cheek. He could feel the moisture evaporating on his skin, and the roughness in the hard soil. His hearing was slowly coming back to him, as was his sense of smell. Everything smelled foul to him, but he couldn’t quite nail it down. His ear drums were reverberating, so that sound was heavily distorted. He heard low grumbles nearby, unlike anything a human or animal could produce. He definitely was not in heaven, unless Angels were slobbering beasts with enormous teeth. But the smell was what stuck out for him. It was a burning, tangy scent. Then he realized, it was the stench of sulfur. He struggled to move his neck. His body ached with the effort, but he somehow managed to move it just enough to see what kind of hellhole he landed in.
The grass under his fingers was thick and stretched out around him for some distance. He was in a small clearing, beyond which he could glimpse the tall evergreens. The whole area was covered in the blackness of night. It couldn’t have been that long since he was…Since he was kidnapped by a flying horror.
He’d been falling, then suddenly he wasn’t. He had been wrenched out of the sky by the Grimm that had smashed a humongous wall without any difficulty. The creature wanted to kill, he had made himself a flailing meal for the monster, so why hadn’t it killed him the second he’d been grabbed? The question had to wait when he heard the rumblings around him again, only this time in their full clarity, and his situation became horribly clear to him.
He was alone, far from Lantern’s Gale, with Grimm coming in for a fresh kill.
He had to move.
Axel strained to push himself up, but his arms suddenly coursed with the pain that made him slump back down. It wasn’t hot needles this time. The pain was almost identical to what he felt back then; it was like that rebar was being pushed straight through him all over again.
He still couldn’t even scream. He lay on the ground, eyes open to the horror that was coming, paralyzed and helpless to run. If only he could run back to the city, he could have a chance to get help. All he could do was run and cower when the pain came to him. He’d die here, a failure who ended up as a scrap of meat for Grimm.
There were worse ways to die at least. He could’ve died from a cold, or starved in the streets of Beacon while people walked by uncaring of his fate.
His mind drifted back, to when he first fell and lost his sight. He wondered where Katze had gone off too since that day. Was she doing alright since the accident? Did she finally meet that Adam fellow she had always talked about? Was she even still alive? Questions he’d probably find in the actual afterlife when the Grimm came here.
Of course, there was no reason for them to stop with just him.
Countless people in the city would die if that flying Grimm came back. Even though Glynda and his mom would return, that creature would attack and kill so many people. Human, faunus, none of it mattered to these things.
Axel’s hand squeezed the grass even as pain burned his limbs. The Grimm were coming fast, eager for their first kill; him. But nothing would satisfy them, no amount of flesh would satisfy or convince a Grimm to ever stop killing. Once they were done with him, they’d move to the city. To Bastet, to every man, woman, and child.
Not a single person would be spared if the Grimm had their way. Everyone they met would die.
He struggled to raise his neck. The creatures had no remorse, no compassion or comprehension of their sole purpose. They didn’t know the horror of what they did, and they didn’t give a damn.
All they wanted was to kill. . .
In the clearing, several Beowolves and Ursas came to see that their flying compatriot had dropped them a fresh snack. Their glowing red eyes saw the lump of flesh that was absolutely radiating with misery and anger. They were so hungry and eager to sate that hunger, so much that a single Beowolf rushed out ahead of its pack in spite of the danger of breaking the feeding order. It was just so hungry that its sense of fear was nullified by the hunger.
Its jaw was dripping with drool as it stopped over the tiny human. Something was strange about this meat, something about its smell. The creature leaned in, nose smelling the creature’s scent.
Then a sharp piece of metal pierced its skull.
Axel’s arm was raised and pointed right at the Beowolf’s head, and his blade was extended, embedded in the Grimm’s agape jaw. The beast briefly twitched, before all brain function ceased, and its body fell limp, off of the blade and onto the wet ground.
Axel’s other arm shakily moved to push him up while his legs bent to lift. As if possessed, he rose in a slumped and clumsy fashion, briefly stumbling before he managed to regain his footing. His arms hung low and he stood with slouched pose, almost feral. The Grimm could see that he was breathing hard, panting with every effort he made like he was on the verge of collapse. But the human did not collapse, he remained standing while their pack slowly scattered in the clearing.
A few of the creatures noticed a large shadow overhead. It circled the clearing from high above. The human looked strong, but they could rip him to shreds with their friend as backup. It was time to feed, and this boy looked to be a filling morsel.
The Alpha Beowolf howled with the blood lust of its entire species, and charged forth with its pack right behind them. Eyes still obscured beneath his hair, Axel responded in kind to charge straight at the Grimm. He moved fast and kept low to the ground, so that when a Beowolf brought its claw down to slice him in half, he was able to leap clean of the monster’s claws.
With that single jump Axel went up high over the pack, back flipping over them all. In midair he drew his remaining pistol, setting it to full automatic fire that cast a shower of bullets on the pack. Two of them were killed as one’s head was reduced to ash while the other’s neck was vaporized under the barrage. Two more were wounded while the Alpha escaped free of the metal hail.
Axel landed on the ground with a heavy skid. His slid his gun back into his coat, and shot to his side when an Ursa attempted to crush him from behind. The beasts attack smashed the ground where he once stood, scattering rocks and heavy dirt. Not bothering with this one just yet, Axel ran again at the Beowolves. Only this time they were ready.
Three of them charged, trying to encircle him. One in front of him pounced him. Axel slid under the attack, shooting his armblade up above him to slice the Grimm in two piececs that crashed into the dirt. The other two charged him just as Axel rose back and turned to face his opponents. He responded to a swipe at his left with a parry from his own blade. The other Beowolf lunged at his head only to hit empty air as Axel ducked. From his crouched position, Axel thrust his elbow up at its arm. His other armblade pierced his jacket sleeve, and the arm that attacked him.
The Beowolf howled in pain while the second one swiped at Axel’s feet. But he twisted around the Beowolf’s arm that was still impaled on his blade. The weapon sliced through it as Axel flung himself at the other attacking Grimm. His boot buried itself in the monster’s jaw, knocking it back several feet.
The other lacked an arm, but that didn’t stop it from charging with utter fury.
Axel drew both of his armblades as the rest of the horde came at him. Dozens more Beowolves including the Alpha, and those two Ursas were charging him a fair distance from the two he was already engaging. He had to finish this quick or else he’d be swamped. It was all he could do to keep himself focused with his body feeling like he was….
The two Beowolves attacked again, and Axel dodged a series of swipes and strikes, blocking those he couldn’t dodge. The one with a severed arm lunged too far and lost its balance, opening it up to several spinning slashes at its belly and neck from Axel, before he blocked a chomp at his own neck so that the Grimm’s teeth landed on the blades. Unfortunately for it, Axel’s blades were significantly stronger than its own teeth. The blades broke shattered the fangs into shards. Axel turned his blades to plunge straight through and out its throat. He swiped his arms free of the body, jumped on top of the creatures shoulder’s, and lept into the air as it fell dead.
He soared through the air with the horde charging forth. From the underside of his sleeves, two small metal tubes extended just beyond his palms. He pointed the weapons at the nearest creatures.
The casters charged with energy, and fired shots of pure destructive energy. Each shot was a single blue beam that exploded on impact with the ground and everything in their vicinity. The recoil was so powerful that every shot sent him back up higher and higher in the air. Grimm after Grimm were vaporized by his shots, scattering their ashy remains all over the clearing.
The horde was scattered and disorganized now as hellfire rained down upon them. Several of their number including one of the Ursa were dead, and many more were wounded by the blasts. They were in such a panic that they failed to notice Axel plunging straight at them with two blades in his hands.
He collided with one of the Beowolves as a missile with his rocket boots firing at full capacity. The blades passed through its flesh and the rockets sent both of them flying, impaling a second Beowolf clean through the head. Without a single movement wasted, Axel kicked off the two corpses, spinning upside down like a top as he did to fly past two more of the creatures, both of whom lost their heads as he went by. He landed, deactivated his boots, and turned back to charge straight at the horde.
He felt no fear. He only felt anger. Such incredible overwhelming anger that drove him to attack a force bigger than he had ever fought in training. These beasts wanted to taste flesh but were now tasting his swords like they deserved. He’d been unable to protect Bastet from the Nevermore, but he would be damned if these Grimm would ever threaten another single person.
He wasn’t even sure if he was still feeling the effects of an episode because he was just so angry that monsters like these had threatened people in Remnant for all of history. They wanted a meal, he would only give them death!
The beasts fell in droves as Axel rushed and zipped around them, dodging attacks and parrying swipes to respond with his own barrage of slashes and stabs. He had turned into a black-blue blur that zipped around them, killing them when he saw the slightest opening. He killed, wounded, slashed, stabbed, kicked, punch, shot, and slayed the Grimm faster than they ever thought a mere human of this size ever could.
He wasn’t slowed down when a stray attack managed to hit him. His arms were cut, his legs were as well. Blood dripped from his wounds, but he didn’t stop. He wouldn’t stop, or else these fiends would reach the city. He refused to stop fighting.
The Alpha Beowolf was now the only one left standing amidst the scattered corpses of his pack and the Ursas. Its pack had been annihilated by the human that stood before it now.
The beast roared in rage, an anger it had never felt before. The Grimm didn’t care anymore for its hunger, it only wanted to see this human torn to ribbons!
The beast attacked with fury that surpassed its entire pack. Its limbs were far stronger and faster than Axel’s own. It barely missed his side when its foot smashed into the ground, but the impact knocked him onto his back. The Grimm lunged its arms at his form to tear him apart.
At the last possible second, Axel managed to fire his rockets. The boots propelled him to safety just as the Alpha’s claws stabbed the dirt. With considerable effort, Axel back flipped off the ground to land on his feet, but lost balance and fell to his knee in his landing.
This one was a lot stronger than the rest of the Grimm, so he’d need something with a lot more power to take it out.
Today was as good as any to test out the recombination feature.
Taking his blades, Axel slammed their backs together. The weapons fused into one double-edged sword, the final form of his weapon that glistened in its glory.
Both Axel and the Alpha waited. To charge forth recklessly meant a swift and painful end, so they waited. They glared right into each other’s eyes, never breaking the stare.
Axel felt all his senses going wild. He could hear a faint breeze and the distant rumblings of the battle in the mountains with perfect clarity. He could smell the sulfur in the air, the bitter salty scent of his own blood, the pine trees around the clearing.
Yet the pain in his body, it was lessening. He wasn’t assaulted by the sensation of metal bars in his body anymore. The sensation of hot needles was still strong, but he was pushing through it. He couldn't let it distract him. If he lost focus in the midst of battle, he'd be killed in seconds by his opponent. More than anything, he wanted to keep Lantern’s Gale safe from these monsters, and he would die if that’s what it took.
The two circled each other, slowing making each movement as carefully as they could. A single slip up meant death for one and victory for the other. They both fought out of anger; one for the people in the city, the other for its slain pack. They just needed the right opening. For what felt like hours to Axel he and the Beowolf
Dark, heavy clouds loomed in the sky. They’d been there since the early afternoon. They were heavy and laden with water. For the entire day they’d been quiet. But now they were finally about to burst.
Then the opening they had both been waiting for suddenly came.
A single rain drop fell that raced to the ground with ever increasing speed, down past the flying Grimm and trees, before landing in the clearing.
This smallest of disturbances was the signal for the two to attack. The Alpha ran with such speed that it upturned the ground behind it, while Axel burst forward in a cloud of dust, scattering dirt as he ran faster than he ever did before.
They met in a whirlwind of metal and claws, attacking each other with utter fury in every movement. Axel’s swordsmanship and the Alpha’s decades old skill collided with no clear victor in sight. Both fought on instinct, using every movement to kill or line up for the kill. It was a battle of pure primal fury.
With a mighty roar the Alpha slammed both its hands against Axel’s sword, pushing his feet into the ground with their strength. His boots fired again, shooting him up to slam his knee into the Beowolf’s chin. The creature reeled from the sudden blow, but brought its head straight into Axel’s stomach. Axel was knocked down and tumbled back just before the Grimm’s claws stabbed into the ground above his head.
It took only a second for the Beowolf to remove its claws, but that second was long enough for Axel to slice those claws clean off, simultaneously nicking the flesh of its hand. The Alpha barely stopped and tried to knock Axel aside, but he rolled along the ground as his opponent made a series of stomps and slashes after him. Again and again it attacked only to miss.
Finally, one of it’s attacks struck home. The claws sunk into the ground around his neck, pinning him down. Axel looked up to see the teeth racing towards his head, and he inched his head to the side just as the teeth chomped down. The monster was growling in anticipation of its meal, so hungry and angry that it failed to see the movement of Axel’s sword. The weapon was plunged deep into its arm, spurting out that black oily blood all Grimm had. The Alpha snarled in pain, but refused to release its grip."Damnit you mutt! Just die!"
Axel drew his pistol again, firing it on full auto into the creature’s stomach. Each bullet embedded itself into the flesh and scattered oily blood and small chunks of flesh, but the Grimm seemed to barely react to the attack, driven by hunger and rage that eclipsed normal pain. It kept snapping at Axel while he struggled in vain to remove his sword. Then he decided that he needed some extra snap in his bullets, and readjusted his thumb around his gun’s handle. A single button press activated a nasty surprise for the Grimm.
With loud pops every single bullet embedded in the Grimm exploded. Chunks of its black flesh scattered along the ground and onto Axel's clothing, washing it all in black oil that smelled of copper and brimstone. The Alpha moaned in pain, and it's hand finally loosened.
Axel let go of his sword and punched the creature’s arm to the side with both of his hands. He didn’t waste any time getting away; he flipped up onto his feet, almost slipping as the rain had made the ground slick.
The Alpha was stumbling back and forth, having a piece of metal in its arm and missing most of its chest and stomach. It realized that all of the pain was from this single human. The Alpha's gaze leveled at Axel, but suddenly found him mere feet right in front of him, moving so fast he appeared to be a blur.
Axel ducked under a swipe with the creature’s free arm followed by a pained chomp near his shoulder.
Axel reached and grasped the sword’s handle in a backhand grip, keeping a firm handle even as the Grimm thrashed about to shake him loose. Axel dug his feet into the ground and refused to give in for even a second. The sword was too firmly stuck in the limb to rip out with his own strength. He needed more power.
He drew upon the strength of his Aura, connecting it to his weapon, his hand-crafted tool to channel his power.
The sword began to glow, its blade illuminated with a soft hum, bathed in a light-blue glow. The flesh around the blade started to smoke and hiss, filling Axel’s nostrils with the ever-increasing stench of sulfur.
With the burst of his Aura Axel drew on all his strength. He pushed the blade forward, up the Alpha’s arm. It went through the flesh inch by inch with each one being accomplished through the power his sword. Then with a powerful burst of flame, the sword cleaved through the arm like hot butter. The Grimm collapsed onto its only remaining arm.
Yet even in this weakened and dying state, it tried to kill Axel with a bite at his head.
But Axel had crippled it, and lazily swayed to the side, almost a taunt of the Grimm’s efforts. Before it could even react, the Grimm found Axel’s sword rushing to its head.
With the anger in his mind still raging as a blizzard of contempt, Axel jammed his sword up through the Alpha’s neck. The blue flame illuminated the blades path through the neck and up out of the skull. The Alpha's head burned on the flame, and the flesh disintegrated into ash.
Finally, painfully, the Alpha fell to the ground in a lump of matted fur and black blood. It’s body moved no more, leaving Axel as the victor. Axel almost felt happy, in a weird way. He had just fought his first Grimm horde and survived.
For a brief moment, he allowed himself to feel exhaustion in his legs. His sword became a makeshift cane as he slumped down, practically panting his lungs out. It turned out that killing dozens of Grimm in mere minutes would be quite difficult on anyone who wasn’t a professional Hunter. Who would’ve thought? The pain in his body was still there, but it was at the level of an aftermath of his episodes instead of being in the height of one, much to his confusion.
Every single movement had caused a spike of pain in his body in the past. But he’d been able to dodge, counter, and kill Grimm with a relatively clear mind and body. He didn’t know how that had happened, maybe if he lived through this he could figure it out. His mom and Glynda would certainly be excited to learn how he had managed to push through it. Throughout the entire battle he had been guided by some training, though as his first real combat experience he had reacted more on pure instinct fueled by rage. He could still feel it, utter fury at the Grimm…
Maybe that was it! Maybe the method his mother had been teaching him was all wrong. She always talked about calming himself into a trance, that he could attain an inner purity, some peaceful state of mind that would numb his mind and body to the pain.
Wait, no....She didn’t say peaceful exactly. She had always said it was some kind of emotional implosion, or some kind of feedback loop. What had Nadja said?
“Maybe you don’t need peace brother, maybe you just have to become so unbelievably immersed in an emotion that it will make you come full circle and become calm again, a kind of focused emotional storm. A silent rage I guess. Now stop making all that noise and go to sleep or else I’ll sick mom on you.”
She certainly had a way with words, his sister. If her idea was true, then he just needed to become so enraged that he’d make it a normal state for him. If he mastered anger, he might be able to find a solution to his episodes. But of course he had a much bigger problem. Namely that he was stuck out in the woods with Grimm corpses all over the ground. It wasn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. He was within a few miles of the city at least and could reach it if he just moved carefully through the forest. But it seemed the grand scheme of things weren’t finished with him just yet.
A shadow passed over the clearing, large and predatory. For a second he was shielded from the heavy rain by a massive object flying overhead only for it to disappear just as quickly as it arrived. But the shriek in the air signaled that the monster that demolished Lantern’s Gale was far from gone. Axel could hear the wings beating, feel the faint gust from each one reaching him. The beastie was here, and it definitely wanted to eat.
Somehow it found him - a lone human - more interesting than an entire city. Maybe it was how he had slaughtered an entire pack of the Grimm, or perhaps it was the misery and anger that all Grimm were attracted to. Either way it wanted him, and it wasn’t going to wait for a fair fight.
He had to be ready, and so he struggled to rise from his slump. He pushed up off his sword, which had since lost its glow. The rain pummeled him with an overbearing ferocity. Every drop caused a twinge of pain in him. By now it was a storm overhead filled with heavy rainfall. The grass was wet and slick with the Grimm’s blood and the torrential downpour.
The massive shape of the monster was now clear to him as he rose to a stand. There were the massive crow-like wings that stretched so far. The middle of the wings edge had two massive claws, and the wings themselves were attached to a comparatively thin body. The creature had an equally long tail, along with large feet tipped by somehow even larger claws. The edge of the winds and its face were covered in white, bone-like material that stood out even in the heavy mist of the night sky. Pure white that only made its blood red eyes stand out all the more.
The beak of the creature opened wide, and it cried a horrid shriek far louder than it ever had before that rocked the tree branches and even caused the ground under Axel’s feet to shake.
This was one of the most dangerous Grimm in existence, the Nevermore. Known for striking with incredible precision and overwhelming force before disappearing into the night. The damn thing was certainly living up to its legacy of untold destruction, having smashed a skyscraper-tall wall like styrofoam. It had seen the city of Lantern’s Gale as a meal, the great wall around it as a plaything to smash to smithereens.
Now it was looking at him and found something far more interesting. For the moment it remained where it was, watching him with inhuman, ruthless eyes. Axel couldn’t tell if it was curious or simply considering how it should serve him. Should his ribs be cooked in hot sauce, or whatever the hell these monsters enjoyed?
“What’s wrong you giant chicken!?” Axel shouted. “You smash an entire wall and kidnap me out of the sky without a second thought, but now that you watch me slaughter your friends you’re just now getting cold-” His taunt was cut off when he saw the Nevermore suddenly streamline itself. Its wide wings had closed around the body, its legs were stretched out behind it, and the beak closed. Suddenly it wasn’t a passive bird anymore. All of its gestures had turned the Nevermore into a terrifying missile that was now falling at him at breakneck speeds.
Axel ran back through the clearing with sword in hand. He moved as fast as he could through the rain while the shrieking sound of the massive Grimm racing through the sky came ever closer. He could only leap to the side as the creature came too close to turn, whereupon its wings sprang open and the feet slicing deep and fast through the ground with the horrid sound of the earth being devastated in seconds..
Several massive and deep tracks were carved into the clearing by the attack, scattering dirt, grass, and rocks all over. A scar had been made in the earth, and Axel now lay between those scars. He was a speck in the damage wrought by that attack alone, and left with the sensation that he was far smaller in the world than he first thought.
Another shriek in the air signaled another incoming attack, this time much faster. Axel could tell because this was far higher in pitch, which could only mean the Nevermore was getting serious with him. Through the rain and sensation of needles returning to his body, he rose up, only to duck back under another swipe that just barely missed his head. The Nevermore missed again, yet still struck the ground as a force of nature. More of the clearing was changed into upturned mud and crushed grass when several more tracks were carved into the earth. The sound of the giant claws smashing their way resembled that of an earthquake, and it certainly left the effects of one. Again the Grimm flew back into the sky as quickly as it appeared.
Axel scrambled to get a look up at the sky from his position in the dirt. He had to find out where it was before it came back around for another attack. He had been ridiculously lucky with those two attacks. Nevermores almost never missed their target and were known for their precision in seizing prey. Somehow this one had missed him, twice! If he lived this would be an amazing story to tell.
But even luck had its limits. Soon this beast would get angry or hungry enough to come at him with its full power, and Axel doubted that amount of courage or luck would save him when that happened. He had to think about how to kill this thing, or at the very least hold it off long enough for someone to arrive and help him out. Though either one was unlikely at best.
“Think, think you idiot. What do you know about Nevermores?”
They could fly, obviously. They could fly impossible fast, enough to outrace airships in fact. Their wings were tough, doubly so with this particular one given the unusual bone structure on its wings. It had already smashed and plowed through a gigantic titanium-enforced wall while being fast enough to evade turret’s locking on to its position. That kind of speed would make it very hard to dodge. It was amazing Axel had dodged at all, it should be faster by his estimates.
It had those claws, plus the ones on its wings. The former had been uprooting the earth, while the latter were only of real concern if it decided to swoop low enough to smash him with the wings themselves, or turn sideways like it had with the wall. Those two attacks were unlikely right now. Right now the Grimm was using only its claws, as if it was showing some bizarre type of restraint.
The Grimm shrieked again, and Axel saw that the wings were once again spread wide. But this time it was still high up in the air. Axel sprung up to his feet while remaining crouched for the barrage he knew was coming. Sure enough, the Nevermore spread it’s wings as wide as it could and made a single flap. Hundreds of its feathers flew at the ground, missiles strong enough to no doubt pierce concrete and metal with ease. There were so many flying at him that Axel lost sight of the Grimm and the clouds for a moment.
"Oh come on!"
He dashed forward as one feather slammed into his position, and many more came soon after, bombarding the clearing with deadly penetrative force. He didn’t have time to panic or shout in surprise, he could only focus on dodging.
His Semblance was firing on all pistons, accelerating his reaction time far above that of a normal human or faunus. Everything was moving slowly for him. The feathers crawled through the air and impacted with the ground like they were all underwater. He could track most of them with his Semblance, but he wasn’t moving any faster himself. It didn’t accelerate his own speed, so he made every movement with careful observation. Each dodge and roll was the only route he could take without being impaled.
It was only seconds, but to him the barrage felt like it endured for hours. He moved with panic and anger still fueling him, checking every possible direction and considering alternate routes upon countermeasures in the span of seconds just to survive. His mind had never thought this quickly before, never explored its potential unless he was in a life-and-death scenario. Well now he was in one, and it was pushing him to the limit of his abilities.
The initial barrage finally came to a halt just as Axel stumbled and rolled in the dirt. His Semblance had deactivated, accelerating everything back to its normal speed. The remaining arrows slammed into the ground, scatter more dirt and grass with their impacts. The clearing was now more of a war zone than any scene of nature’s splendor.
Up above was the Nevermore, still flapping merrily as it looked down on this intriguing human being. The eyes of the beast were almost curious with him. Axel however was far less amused with his opponent. This Grimm should have killed him in seconds without a second thought given its speed, power, and no doubt centuries of experience. It would’ve had the easiest kill when it snatched him from the air back at the wall. So why hadn’t it crushed him into mulch yet?
Now that his brain processed the battle, he saw that the Nevermore was moving a lot slower than before, and its attacks were unusually imprecise to kill a single human like him. On the wall it was quick enough to snatch him out of the air, and to smash the wall and be gone in the span of mere seconds.
It didn’t make any sense, was it just bored and trying to kill time? Why would a massive predator be playing around like this?
“Wait…” Playing around…
“You,” Axel snarled with a new found rage. “you’re just playing with me. You want to have fun with your meal before you gobble it up don’t you?”
The giant pigeon wasn’t even taking him as a threat, just a snack to knock around and scare before it grew bored and just swatted him like a toy.
Axel’s body was twitching, but it wasn’t from the pain. It was the sheer anger he felt to this creature that had smashed what humans worked so hard to build. That it spread terror without a second thought and took some kind of entertainment in watching its lesser brothers die in droves before it. It didn’t even care for the lives of its own kind!
Now it dared to gain enjoyment from playing with a living breathing creature on a whim! Everything on Remnant existed solely for its entertainment and sustenance. Axel and Bastet were food. The people of Lantern’s Gale were just food. Axel’s friends and family were nothing but goddamn food to this thing!
Axel’s grasp on his sword tightened in anger, his mind raced in a flurry of rage. Humans and faunus were just morsels for the Grimm! The creatures did not care for the lives and emotions of living creatures. They didn’t care about Axel’s own history, nor that of Bastet or Captain Peppy. They would look on them all and see only food!
If they had seen Katze, she was just food to them.
For all Axel knew of her, she wasn’t anything to Grimm. None of who she was mattered. She had laughed, frowned, and cried when Axel knew her. She had wanted an end to the Faunus discrimination. She loved sushi so much that the scent of tuna drove her into a frenzy. Books were her best friend, and the day Axel got her several had been the happiest of her life. She disliked the hot summers and loved autumn. She always wore an adorable black ribbon on her head, and enjoyed having her ears scratched. She loved having a ditzy boy as a friend.
Everything she was, that everyone was, none if it mattered to Grimm. They didn’t know Katze’s life, and didn’t care. They had the sheer gall to look on all life and view it as scraps. Axel had finally realized what Grimm wanted, all that they lived for; to kill and eat without end.
It caused a spark within him. His mind arched with simultaneous pain and anger, each so intense on their own that when combined they risked driving him mad. The sensation of needles in his body returned with a vengeance while the rage against the Grimm ran just as strong. This would've drive him to tears or screams, but Axel gripped to a single spark of clarity within him. His anger was stronger than any pain.
In the storm of pain and rage, he finally knew what he wanted as a Hunter. It wasn’t to bring carnage and taste blood on his lips, nor was it to explore the world without end or be lauded throughout history. No, it was something far more valuable than any of those.
The realization gave his entire body an explosive kick start. His body flared with strength he had never left. Somehow beneath his exhaustion, deep beneath what he thought was his limit he found there was an ocean of strength deep within him. Power that filled his body down to the very tip of his fingers.
He glowed a thick deep blue aura and projected a sudden gust of wind in all directions. It was strong enough to push away the water and dirt in a faint but clear circle around his body, after being kept under the weight of pain that had held him down for so long, was finally waking up. He was waking up.
The Nevermore could see this happening to its prey. What had seemed like a tiny scrap of amusement was fast turning out to be a serious threat. The human was glowing as its Aura grew and grew. The Grimm could feel that its food was beginning to show its true colors. For the first time in its existence, the flying predator that stood as the apex predator was beginning to feel fear. Its playtime had ended, it was time to feed.
The Grimm abandoned all pretext for seeking entertainment. Now there was only the hunt. The creature flew at a wide angle so that it gained considerable distance from the clearing. Axel readied himself for another charge with sword at the ready. The creature completed its circle, and dipped heavily with wings clamped to its sides, diving with that shriek of a falling bomb. It shot with speed twice as great as before with no sense of restraint. It wanted this human dead before it really became a threat. Its body smashed aside several of the trees, flying lower than it had on its previous attack runs.
Axel saw this instrument of destruction that could level cities, and ran straight to it.
He upturned the ground behind him with the sheer force of his launch. His blue glow was growing all the brighter as he zoomed forth into the jaws of death, determined to break the teeth and burn the tongue. The Nevermore spread its wings just before it slammed into the ground, leveling out and barreling through the feathers that were still embedded in the ground.
Through a veritable forest of feathers and corpses Axel ran. His sword was held in both hands at his side, ready to slash. The Grimm was flying so low that it would smash through anything in its way, including him.Axel knew that well and continued to run. The Grimm wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. So it was his duty, regardless of being a non-Hunter, to stop the beast before it killed anyone else. If he was to die in the attempt, than he’d die content with the knowledge that he would be dragging the Nevermore down with him.
The Grimm’s mouth remained shut, and it’s wings kept plowing through the feathers, and soon him. Axel engaged his Semblance again so that everything slowed.
The snapping of the feathers were sluggish, and every break in their frame was clear to his ears, and he could make every move precise and calculated. He disregarded the move to duck under the attack, for that would only result in him being crushed. So if he couldn’t slip under, he had to fly over.
With all his speed propelling him, Axel lept forward, soaring just barely above the Grimm’s wings before they would’ve hit him. He passed over the cruel darkness of the giant Grimm, the oily black sea that had signaled death for countless others.
In his flight he passed within arm’s reach of the Nevermore’s eyes, which was more than close enough to slash with his sword, fueling his strike with the contempt he felt for the massive beast. The blade cleaved through one of its eyes, squelching the horrid orb into viscous fluid. The sword continued its slice through a portion of the mask and left a small cut in the creatures back. Before Axel had even begun to descend, the Nevermore had already reached the end of the clearing and angling up back into the sky. His own speed had been sluggish compared to the insane velocity the Grimm now used.
He fell to the ground in another stumble, the effort of reacting to such speed, even with his Semblance engaged had left him too focused to notice how his landing would go. That and the ground had been upset yet again in the Nevermore’s passing. He rolled head over heels until he ended up on his back with arms splayed out at his sides, amazed that he’d managed to pull off something so unbelievably insane and lived. He had gone up against one of the strongest Grimm and survived against all logic and common sense to the contrary.
But the success came at a price.
He had just challenged a massive Nevermore that plowed through cities in seconds.
The Nevermore was now truly angry, and in pain. It floated from high above looking at Axel with no sense of amusement or fear or hunger in the one remaining eye. This human was no morsel anymore, it was something it wanted dead. The Nevermore shrieked once more, far more cruel and guttural in its tone. From pain and anger the beast trumpeted that its hunt was beginning. Whereas it had screamed before to incite terror, it now signaled to all who could hear; this was its territory, its food, and no one else’s. The howl of predation and anger. It wanted death and today that would be tasted.
The shriek thundered the ground and Axel’s own senses. He had truly pissed it off to the degree that it was now solely focused on him. In a sense he felt terrified. But in another he felt proud. He as a single human had done more damage than the defense systems of an entire city, and gained the dubious honor of being the sole focus of the Grimm’s anger.
“Not so hot now that your prey can fight back are you?”
This creature’s view of humans and faunus had no doubt changed. It was realizing these tiny bipedal creatures weren’t tools to swat and eat at its leisure. These little snacks could actually stand up, they could fight, and they could touch a being even as old and strong as itself.The Nevermore had no words to describe its feelings. But it knew emotions, and today it felt only red-hot anger. Axel could see it flashing in the beast’s eyes.
It was a strange sense of validation for him. He changed the Grimm’s view, challenged it’s view of the world. Now it was seeing that he wasn’t its plaything, and it was furious at being injured. That a mere human was damaging its status angered it beyond belief.
“Now you’ve gotten the picture.” Axel’s sword pointed at the monster. “We aren’t just your toys!” Axel spun his sword overhead. He was going to need more power than he’d ever used before. His weapons had been proven to function perfectly in an all-out life or death battle. Extensions, dual-wielding, casters, and finally the double-edged form were all operating at peak capacity. Now there was one final attack he had to test. It was as good a time as any.
The Nevermore howled once more, this time as a direct threat to him alone. He was more than happy to answer.
His body felt calm and focused, as did his mind. Every muscle was primed to kill. He no longer felt pain. The sensation of hot needles were gone, utterly gone. He only felt the tidal wave of anger within, that rage telling him that this beast didn’t care for the lives of Bastet or Peppy or Nadja. It wanted to feast without fear and saw them all as mice.
He was determined to prove it wrong. He’d take the creature’s view of them all, and turn it to ash.
He felt an odd sense of tranquility within. The raging sea within him was slowly calming itself, becoming motionless in his mind. In his eyes, he felt a strange warmth. It was barely noticeable, but it was something that made him feel peaceful. His mind was filled with to the brim with anger in defense of those he loved, but he felt at peace.
He took his sword in both hands, holding it to the side at angle pointed at the ground. He took a single calming breath, and activated the sword with his Aura. The deep blue glow returned to his body, emanating that stiff wind in all directions around him. The sword, his sword hummed as it started to awaken its power. The shining blade glowed in a far brighter translucent blue light. More and more power was unearthed from within the sword. Its glow now masked the metal, and with a single burst of Axel’s aura the glow sparked into a brilliant flame.
Up above the Nevermore slammed its wings to its side, and shot straight at the ground. No more strafing runs or feather attacks, this was a dive bomb to obliterate the human beneath it. The monster fell faster than the rain and with far more precision. The shrieks of its previous attacks were nothing to this sure-kill move. The storm raged around the Nevermore as it flew, its one eye was trained on the scrap of meat that had dared to wound it so.
Axel refused to move in the slightest. He stood adamant against the oncoming threat with sword in hand. This was to be the deciding moment between the killer and the killed. In one second he could either be slashing this monster into oblivion, or be a stain on it’s beak and the muddy ground. His sword burned in a blue inferno that flared with unrivaled intensity, carving a small crevice into the ground just by its proximity. The Grimm came closer, and closer. The storm raged around him, as if the weather reacted to the intensity of their fight.
“You want to see what we can do!? Well check this out! I am Axel Krieger, the son of Alexander and Katherine Krieger!” His sword’s flame grew and grew, tearing up the ground where he stood. He was one with his weapon now, and ready to confront death.
The obstacle 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.
“And this,” He gripped the handle tightly while the Nevermore shot through the air.
“is your end!” Axel dragged his sword through the dirt, burning it into ash as the blade carved its way into open air. With the intense force of a small storm propelling the weapon, the sword slashed up at the oncoming Nevermore.
The ground around Axel exploded outward from where he stood. The entire clearing was upset and uprooted when he made his swing, and many of the surrounding trees were uprooted and fell to their sides or outright flew into other trees. The initial swing only left the small circle of ground Axel stood upon untouched. He stood strong as his attack traveled into the air. The fire from his blade had expanded and flew high into the air, burning as a beam of energy that near-instantly evaporated the passing rain drops.
The beam flew straight at the Nevermore, having moved too fast to dodge the attack. Its own blind anger brought about its brutal end. The creature fell into the flame. It was swallowed whole by a creature far stronger than itself; humanity. The beam covered its entire form. Its tough mask and iron-like feathers were peeled of their protection layer by layer. The intense fire rapidly ate its way through the Grimm, burning off chunk by black chunk. Its body was quickly reduced to ash, and it died with a shriek born of contempt and its own fear. But it was the last sound it would ever make, as it was quickly snuffed out by the beams own thunderous howl.
The beam continued high up into the air, raging as a focused tempest that rivaled and overcame the storm around it. It climbed higher and higher into the sky, through the wind and rain and night until it pierced the clouds. The beam was so large and so bright that it could be seen for miles in all directions.
In Lantern’s Gale the entire populace heard the howl, in the direction the Nevermore had flown to hours before. They initially thought the otherworldly noise was the Nevermore about to smash through their homes. But when they looked to the sky they were not filled with fear, but wonder. Where there once was fear and dread of the night, the people saw a single light of hope.
From near the wall, there was Bastet being attended by a medical team for her injuries. She saw the pillar of light where her charge had no doubt been taken to, and found herself amazed.
From far away on the Arwing, the rabbit faunus Captain Peppy could see the bright light as well. He didn’t have the slightest clue what was happening, but the wind from it was rocking his ship back and forth, much to his chagrin.
Those with basic Aura abilities could see and even feel the titanic force of the beam like it was an earthquake and tornado rolled into one. The nearby Grimm that had been watching the battle all felt the power in the human and the sight of its attack made them flee for their lives, scattering back into the wilderness with all haste.
The only place that the light couldn’t be directly seen was in the mountains, where the maelstrom was still raging between an army of Grimm and two Hunters. Glynda was in the midst of kicking several snake Grimm into ash while vaporizing an entire pack of Ursas with her left hand. She didn’t notice the earthquake and attributed it to Katherine’s own efforts. But even if Katherine herself couldn’t see it, she could certainly feel it, feel the unmistakable energy of her son’s Aura.
The beam soon went above the clouds, slowly dissipating and shrinking. When it had reached the absolute height of its flight path, the attack gradually faded away into the ether.
For a moment the sky fell silent, save for the gentle rain’s pitter-patter on the ground.
But the beam had not finished its display.
From the point where it rose to the heavens, the clouds that had been heavy in the sky suddenly split in two. The gray clouds were blasted apart and dispersed from the hole made by the beam, and from there it rapidly expanded. The clouds over that stretched over the clearing to Lantern’s Gale and the mountains were pushed aside and dissipated in seconds as the aftermath of the beam swept through the sky.
In a single instant, the rain was gone and the clouds were no more. There had once been a gray blanket in the sky, but the hands of god had reached through the hole made by the pillar of fire and tore the clouds apart to reveal the peaceful starry night sky. The whole of the city and mountains were bathed in the faint light of the stars and moon. The roof had been torn off to reveal the wonder of the world.
For the people of Lantern’s Gale it was one of the most beautiful sights they had ever seen. They had been menaced by a creature that made a mockery of their proud wall and fragile pride. It had appeared and disappeared in an instant, flying off into the distance. Now they had no doubt in their minds that the menace had been destroyed. They didn’t know how exactly, but they were just happy to still be alive. Someone or something had stepped in and saved them, not only destroying the Nevermore, but obliterating the clouds that had loomed overhead.
For the two Hunters in the mountains the sight was far more perplexing.
Their assignment had been completed with the utmost prejudice and efficiency. Where there had once been hundreds of Grimm there were now only one massive pile of bodies. Two mounds of the damned upon which rested two women whom hadn’t even chipped a single nail between them. They had been in the midst of discerning who had the greatest kill count when the clouds were torn asunder with the sound of a sonic boom. They could both feel where the attack originated, and they could definitely feel the insane Aura. Katherine rose from her perch, staff still embedded in the head of an Ursa.
“Figures,” she groaned. “I leave him alone for one evening, and he rips the clouds apart.”
“No doubt something he inherited from his mother.” Glynda added. “I can only guess if he’ll inherit your unique brand of intelligence Katherine.”
“Beg your pardon, Witch. I don’t think I heard you correctly.” Katherine had since removed her bladed staff from the Grimm corpse and held it meaningfully over her shoulder. For one of the few times in her life, Glynda gave a genuine smile to her longtime friend.
“But I do know that he inherited your indomitable will. Your annoying, outspoken, destructive, caring will. He’s got your willpower, and that’ll overcome any setback.”
“Thank you?” Katherine stood more confused than insulted for once with Glynda.
“Your welcome. Now come, we should find Axel before he inevitably finds himself in more trouble than he is now. I trust he’ll be quite exhausted after splitting apart the sky.”
“Indeed.” Katherine chuckled. "My little Axel."