9: Its Name
Some aspects of living on Remnant were undeniable constants.
The seasons would come and go year after year in the usual order.
The sun would rise and set every day, as would the moon.
The Grimm would attack and seek to annihilate them all.
There were some things they had just come to expect from living on such a unique world. Birds flew, fish swam, sky whales would swim and fly, Grimm attacked, and Kriegers caused collateral damage.
It wasn’t that they did so purposefully or with any real malice. But it seemed that wherever someone in the Krieger family went, they were virtually guaranteed to cause - or at least be near - some sort of destruction in one form or another. Alexander’s inventions were known to explode by accident, or on purpose to devastating effect, doubly so with all the weapons his company made.
His wife Katherine was infamous across the world for accomplishing any mission given to her with efficiency and a tendency to leave craters and “unscheduled urban and/or rural demolitions.” The mission to Lanterns Gale had resulted in the scorching of one end of the northern valley and what could only be described as the “multi-craterization” of the other, not to mention the damage done to the nearby mountains by her caffeine-fueled frustration. And that was just one area that had been devastated.
The wall of Lantern’s Gale was smashed and collapsed in two large sections, not to mention the turrets that needed to be repaired. The marble coating would be easy to replace, much to Katherine and Glynda’s confusion.
Though the unspoken fifty-seventh law of physics regarding Krieger proximity was challenged somewhat in that area, as the damage to the wall was done by a Nevermore with an apparent hatred of architecture. The blame for that rested squarely on the Grimm’s very dead shoulders.
For as the Grimm always attacked humanity, they were likewise always killed with the utmost prejudice by those with the strength to fight back. So while the people of Lantern’s Gale were miffed at the damage, they were satisfied that the Nevermore got its dues.
The damage to the nearby clearing however was squarely human. At least the end result was, as people soon found the Nevermore’s feathers scattered about the ground along with its claw marks and corpses of its fellows. Though no Grimm had created the unique type of damage seen there. To the shock of those in the city, a single boy had remade the clearing into a deep and expansive crater. Even the nearby trees weren’t untouched. In fact later investigation revealed some were in fact launched several miles away.
But nobody was mad at this Axel Krieger for the damage. They were thankful for him saving their city even if he had been unable to stop the wall from being damaged. Bastet Lynx was at the forefront of the rescue party and all over Axel to make sure her charge was safe and sound. After that she had hugged the boy dangerously tight out of joy that he had survived and amazement that he’d accomplished something so incredible at so young an age.
Lantern’s Gale later held a town meeting to publicly thank Glynda, Katherine, and Axel for their efforts in protecting the city. Axel in particular received a medal for bravery from the mayor, along with thunderous applause from the entire populace and more hugs, hand shakes, and kisses to his cheek than than he could count.
There was a massive party soon after that. It was filled with feasts, loud music, and that other universal constant; alcohol. Yet somehow Katherine had kept every single drop away from Axel. It was a grand affair celebrating that for all the damage the Grimm wrought, the people would live to see the next day.
“After that it was a long but pleasant ride back on the Arwing. The passengers were talking about what had happened the entire ride back. Captain Peppy was annoyed that Axel had caused some turbulence with his attack, but the man was clearly pleased. Though Axel was too asleep to know it. Then we got home where more people met us and cheered until we finally slipped out of sight to get back to the HQ. We finished up the paperwork, got some coffee, and here we are.”
Glynda finished her long-winded explanation with an elegant sip of her coffee, leaving Alexander in a mixed state of confusion and amazement at her words. With each passing sentence he had slipped down inch by inch in his head, trying to disappear under his desk. Though Katherine had quickly yanked him back up like a turnip.
So his only solace was resting his head on the desk, quietly thumping his head. Neither woman paid it much attention until he groaned.
“Something wrong honey?” Katherine asked with a chuckle.
“You smash a mountain range - again.” thump “Several turrets and a wall are crunched like stale pretzels.” thump “My son is almost crushed, stabbed, and eaten by a Nevermore the size of a building.” thump “Then he manages to vaporize a damn Nevermore and somehow blows up the sky.” thump.
“Perhaps you require some coffee Alexander? It would remedy your headache.”
“No thanks Glynda” thump “I’m just dandy. Picture of sanity and stability right here. Yessir.” he groaned, burying his head in the crook of his elbow.
Katherine looked at her husband, then back at Glynda with a raised eyebrow, then back at her lump of a husband with an exasperated sigh as if he was the drama queen in the family.
“In any case,” Glynda rose from her seat. “Do you have any idea how this happened?”
Alexander slowly rose from where he was, leaning back in his chair. He looked at Katherine, and she at him. He let out a faint if tired smile toward his battering-ram beloved like they were back at Beacon, meeting each other for the first time.
“We discussed things long and hard Glynda,” he began. “I ran tests on Axel’s eyes as soon as he got back. From what I’ve seen, it looks like his eyes are working perfectly now. I don’t really know how it worked, but somehow he stabilized his interface with them and they’re at peak capacity now.”
“Pardon my interruption Alexander, but how exactly did that work?” Glynda asked. To her immense surprise the genius scientist and engineer who could make a weapon out of practically anything responded to the question with a shrug.
“I have no goddamn clue. It could be he had an epiphany from confronting something he couldn’t run from. Or it might be a chemical imbalance in his brain that the eyes only adjusted to when he was fighting the Grimm. That or the Damon blood in him healed his remaining damaged tissue. But you want to know something Glynda?”
“Go right ahead.” she responded.
“This may be the only time I say it, but I just don’t care.”
Glynda felt her jaw dropping.
“My son’s better and happier than I’ve ever seen him. He’s back on his feet and is eager to start school as soon as he can. I’m just too happy to care that much about the mechanics.”
Glynda managed to shut her gob before Katherine fell over from laughter, and regained her composure to nod at her friends.
“So I have gathered you two have reached a conclusion in regards to my proposal?” The two of them nodded in agreement.
“We have. Axel’s going to Beacon Academy.” Katherine confirmed. Glynda felt a small smile forming on her lips.
“Excellent. I look forward to having Axel as a student.” she glared at Katherine. “As long as you make sure to tell him that he is not, under any circumstances to use that move of his indoors Damon. I do not want another blue-haired student demolishing the campus like you did.”
Katherine just quietly cackled back at her friend. “I make no promises, Witch.” To Alexander’s fear, Katherine tapped her fingers together.
“You know,” Alex said, regaining his madwoman of a wife's attention. “My family has a title for people who’ve accomplished something like what the little rascal did.”
Glynda raised an eyebrow. “What is it exactly?” she questioned.
“Wolke Trennwand. It translates roughly to ‘he who divides the heavens.”
To his surprise, Glynda and Katherine looked at him at the same time, both with a questioning look in their eyes. It was like he was back in Beacon about to weaponize his first washing machine before they stopped him.
“What?” he said. Katherine looked greatly amused at him, as well as something else. Prideful.
“That’s not too far off from what the people were calling him the whole time we were there, which is also what he’s calling that little move of his now that I mention it.”
“Oh, and what would that be Kath?”
Katherine looked proud as she ran the name over in her head. Of all the things he could’ve been called, she couldn’t think of anything more appropriate to bestow on her son. Her son whom was once a tiny little boy with dreams of greatness, and now had gone out and done it. He had a title now, one that was spreading across the land not due to his relation to the Grimm Reaper, but his own legend, his own image. She couldn’t feel any prouder for her son than when she looked at her husband and spoke the name.
“I've gotta say, that’s pretty appropriate.” Alex chuckled.
“Indeed.” Glynda concurred. “It’s already spreading, people are learning about him.” Glynda frowned a bit. “Where is Axel exactly?” To this Alexander gave another uncharacteristic shrug.
“He went to the training room as soon as he got back Glynda,” Katherine said with a grin. “he wants to run his weapons through the wringer again. That and test his perfected Stille Wut.”
The retraction and extension mechanisms worked perfectly. The blades hadn’t lost an iota of their edges, not the tiniest dent. The casters had fired at the expected rate, and were more effective than he’d ever hoped. The ejection function fired off without a hitch, and didn’t pierce his nose on top of that! Everything was in solid working order. That wasn’t even taking into account how terrifyingly effective the last attack had been. It split the damn clouds and turned the clearing into a giant crater, and even then it had only been aimed at the sky…
Axel scribbled another note in his notebook under the new move.
Note to self: Do not aim at the ground near or in populated areas under any circumstances. Collateral damage is unknown, but vaporization is a proven outcome.
He’d have to install a power lock until he tweaked the dust converters. So far that had prove to be the only glitch in his weapons.
Though as his dad always said, “a glitch that increases destructive potential isn’t a glitch, it’s a feature!” Axel took minor solace in ignorance of whether those were words of wisdom or insanity. In all likelihood they were probably both.
He turned the page from his sword notes to a more recent entry, one titled “Stille Wut.”
Stille Wut, aka “Silent Rage”
-Meditation using complete immersion in a single emotion. Results in an “emotional implosion” (find better term?). Results in near-total mental clarity.
-Mind state feels objective and refined. Did not feel any emotions in state besides calmly enraged. Excellent in combat to keep focused and calm.
-Previously inflicted wounds and wounds gained during the state did not register. State most likely nullifies all pain. Should avoid injuries all the same. Could make me a moving corpse.
-Creates a ‘glow’ in my eyes for some reason. Have yet to explain this phenomenon, but it has potential use for intimidation, plus it looks quite snazzy.
-Common triggers include: Threatening well-being of loved ones, disregard for sentient life and emotions thereof. Traumatic sights. Can be controlled ultimately, but these can activate it potentially.
“Interesting writing there brother.”
Nadja’s voice came from just behind where Axel sat in the simulated campsite that had served as his training ground mere minutes before. Unsurprisingly, his little sister was completely nonchalant at the sight of a couple simulated Grimm lying all over the place with her brother in the center. If anything she was more intrigued with his notes.
“Can’t believe I know something you don’t sis?” Axel teased.
“Perhaps. I am more interested in how you managed to attain this...State.”
Axel leaned back on his impromptu Grimm chair, closing his notebook with another chuckle. For once there wasn’t a specific explanation for it. In an exact mirror of his father, Axel shrugged. Nadja responded to his explanation with a sigh.
“Just try to explain it to me.” she grumbled.
“I really can’t.” he responded. “I’m not sure if its me having a imbalance of chemicals and hormones that causes some kind of adrenal overload. It could be some of that magic we have in our blood that mom mentioned, or it could be something based solely on emotions. All I know is that I triggered it when I thought about…”
Axel rose from his seat as he slid the blades back into his arms. He still didn’t understand it fully himself. One second he was thinking about the Grimm and his childhood friend, the next he felt at peace and was charging a Nevermore without a single thought at how insane it was.
“My mind just drifted to-”
“To that faunus girl right?” Nadja interrupted. Axel could see she wasn’t the least bit pleased at hearing her brother’s motivation to survive was that girl of all people. “There are days when I truly question your sanity Axel.”
“Normally I would too, but this wasn’t one of them. I just had some kind of epiphany, and that helped me push past the episodes my eyes used to cause and somehow survive out there. Not only that, but I finally got my weapons sorted out,” Axel shot the blades and casters out his sleeves in a flash. The blades flew up several feet in the air, and Nadja instinctively jumped back in surprise. Then they fell back into Axel’s hands and were idly twirled in elegance that actually made Nadja faintly envious of her ditzy fool of a brother, for once.
He handled the weapons with an ease and relaxation that she’d never seen from him. It was almost a dance between him and the swords. He no longer had that weariness since the accident in his eyes, that view that every waking moment was another opportunity for an episode. He looked like the brother she once knew, full of a strange optimism, and an annoyingly cheerful and snarky attitude.
His swords glistened in the simulated sun as they fell back into his hands mid-spin. The catch was smooth and every motion linked to the next, so that when the back of the blades slammed together, it was the last move in a fluid dance.
“Come on sis.” Axel suddenly spoke up, leaving Nadja briefly confused.
“Huh? What?” she blubbered. Axel smirked.
“It’s okay to say that this looks damn cool. I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about brother.” she was determined to not reveal a single moment of weakness to the oaf she was related to. She refused to be distracted by the sword. Even as it shined in the light and whistled a faint metallic hum with every motion. She denied any fascination with the weapons frame and seamless result of a fusion of no less than four weapons into one shiny whole. Nor did she have any interest in the tiny inscription on the weapon’s pommel. She wasn’t interested in it at all.
“I gave it two names.”
“What?” Nadja found herself again being shaken from a stupor, much to her embarrassment. If anything it was a sign that her brother was in fact back to normal. Or as normal as could be expected from their mad family. He certainly looked at least a little bit mad when he sported a proud smile on his lips. With a single motion he split the swords apart.
“I named the sheathed and drawn forms of the blades Letzen Licht.” Again the blades fused into one shining whole.
“The combined form, this double edged beauty; Teufels Licht.”
“You went with ‘Devil’s Light’, and ‘Angel’s Light.’ Kind of tacky.”
Axel could only snicker with the blade held over his shoulder.
“I named the final form in honor of mom. I figured that she’s the ‘devil,’ and dad is the ‘angel,’ so it seemed like a decent fit to me. Besides, you went with ‘mother’s love’ for your own weapon, and my name is at least as good as that.”
Nadja looked genuinely annoyed with her brother, to which he actually felt pleased. It wasn’t a huge breakthrough, but the fact that Nadja could actually be annoyed by him again showed that while she still had walls a mile high around her, they weren’t insurmountable. As if to distract from the issue, Nadja gestured Axel to follow her. It was in fact near dinner time.
“Let’s go, dad will be wanting to hear your version of the story.” she sighed.
“Alright.” Axel disassembled the weapons into the two swords and sheathed those back into his sleeves with a casual smoothness in his movements. Together they walked through the virtual campsite, brother and sister.
“By the way brother,” Nadja asked. “What did you end up calling that new move of yours, and I heard that the people of Lantern’s Gale were chanting some title for you?”
“Well, the answer to that is two-fold sis.”
“Well? What is it?”
Axel was silent for a moment. He still couldn’t believe it fully himself, it was just so bizarre an event. One moment he was nearly Nevermore-bait, then the next he was splitting the clouds with a single attack and was being chanted to by an entire setting. To say it was a bit overwhelming was a massive understatement. Somehow he’d been slammed with crippling pain, and smashed it to bits with a technique that was either scientific, emotional, or magic-based.
He had found what he wanted out of being a Hunter at least. He had realized that for one, he actually kind of enjoyed all three aspects that he’d mulled over before.
Carnage in so much that he enjoyed a good battle, exploration in that he could go out with others to explore new worlds, and glory because while his own deeds did net him more popularity than he expected, they had given hope to the people of Lantern’s Gale when previously they had none.
But it wasn’t any just one of those things he wanted. Unsurprisingly for someone like him, he had considered all the options and possibilities with maddening precision and care, yet had completely missed an obvious alternative. When he was fighting the Grimm, it had been his anger for the casual disregard of life that had started him down his path, but it was thinking of all the people he loved that had driven him to fight. Nadja, mom, dad, Glynda, the Hell Twins to an extent, Weiss, Bastet.
Every person he knew had given him the strength to not just survive, but live. In remembering all the people he knew, he found what he truly desired from being a Hunter. More than anything in the world he wanted to protect. To defend lives and save those in harms way. It was why he grew so angry at the Grimm, because they viewed life as it’s food source. The people of Remnant were certainly not food. They were so much more. Axel wanted them to keep on living.
So he’d ensure that they all could, that everyone would have a chance at life to prove themselves. He’d defeat the one’s who wanted to kill, to enslave, to elevate themselves above all others. And he’d do so with his weapons, his eyes, and indeed his entire being. He had a title now, and he was determined to live up to that title as one who would break the dark shadows of the world and help illuminate a path for others to walk on. He would help, defend, and fight for the betterment of all no matter the enemy, and with his new found power, he would find a way. It wouldn’t be easy, but it was a promise to himself, to his family, to Katze, to everyone.
“Cloudbreaker.”He was now Axel "Cloudbreaker" Krieger, Hunter in training.
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