Axl and Dad - A new addition to the final Stretch Goal! - 2 player live play tonight!
Axl stared out over the water, frustrated with himself. What was he doing back here, on his father’s drifting repair station. He kicked at the edge near where he sat and a piece of the dock crumbled into the water. It felt like everything here was just rotting away, waiting to sink into the ocean and be done with it. That’s why he’d had to leave--the aura of loss his father projected was too much for him, too stifling.
“Twas impressive,” said his father, emerging from the low doorway of the repair shop office, carrying a drink in each hand. “Your performance back there. People love you. I’m glad.” Axl waited. “You know who it reminds me of?” There it was. It always came back to her. “You remind me of me.” Axl looked up, surprised. “You?”
“My little Nag’i ain’t afraid of heights. Might be the one good thing I gave you.” He smiled, a warm, gentle smile, and Axl felt himself relax. Suddenly, he couldn’t remember why he was always so eager to avoid his father. “Oh, Axl, the cliffs I would climb! It’s a wonder I didn’t break my neck. Did you know that’s how I met your mother?”
“Breaking your neck?” asked Axl. It was a lame joke, but his father laughed uproariously. “Practically! I would have, to get a chance to meet her. We used to go out to the cliffs, some of us humans and a few Crocs too, climb up and jump off. Well, one day, there were some Nag’i there, fishing, watching us. And your mother got into it with one of the Croc lasses. She was quite a fiery one, your mother. The Croc dared her to see how high she could climb, and she didn’t hesitate a second. Lit out up the cliff, seemed just as good at climbing as she was at everything else. Of course, halfway up, she made the mistake of looking down. Brave as she was, she was full Nag’i, and being that far above the water froze her blood. Well, lucky for her--and me, I suppose--I happened to be climbing at the same time, and I made my way down to her.”
Axl’s father sipped his drink, and Axl did the same. The deep red hibiscus tea was sweet and tart at the same time, and seemed to contain all of his childhood in it. His father took another drink. Axl prodded him impatiently, “So?”
“So I got down there, and I could see she was scared to death, but I could also see she was willing to stay there till she proved the Croc wrong or her arms gave out, whichever came first. So I told her a little lie. I told her to take my hand, but when she reached for it, I let myself slip a little. Well, being who she was, she reached out to save me, and we both went tumbling through the air and landed on our behinds down in the water.”
“Well, she was spitting mad, but we got to talking and she forgave me soon enough. She never did want to climb again, though. And she didn’t learn her lesson about making waves with Croc bullies, either. In fact, thinking about it reminds me of how you dealt with those stupid Nag’i kids who used to give you a hard time.”
“You mean the time I stole your craft and crashed it into their house?”
“Never been so proud. My son. Owning his lineage.”
“That’s not how I remember it. If I recall, you made me clean engine pipes for a month.”
“Of course I did. That’s what parents do. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t rooting for you.” He sighed. “I guess I wasn’t always the best father….but I was trying.” Axl’s father forced a laugh, but his eyes were wet and his voice held a deep sadness. He shook his head, as if trying to shake a weight that had been weighing on him for a long time.
“I just want to say, I don’t blame you for leaving. And for not wanting to talk to me anymore. I get it.”
“It wasn’t anything you did, Dad.” Axl had a hard time getting the words out. He’d always resented his dad for showing his emotions so openly, but now he found himself feeling strangely protective. “It’s just...I needed some space...from you, and everything. Needed to find my own path.”
“I know it was hard for you. Son of Braze. Half-Nag’i. It’s a lot of stuff to put on a kid. And I wasn’t really in the best place to help you...navigate everything. I know I wasn’t. So I’m thankful you met Mae, and Babs. I really am.”
The mention of Babs snapped Axl back into the present. “I have to tell you something, Dad.”
“It’s ok, son. We’ve said enough apologies for one day.”
“No, it’s about Mom. She’s---” His father stood up suddenly, interrupting Axl. “Hold on. Do you hear that?” Axl fell quiet. Then he heard it, a great hissing sound. They both saw it at the same time. Slithering through the water were two great reptilian heads, swimming straight for the neighbor’s raft. “Get down, Dad!” Axl shouted as he raced towards his watercraft. There were shouts from the neighboring raft, now, as people spotted the beasts.
Axl gunned his watercraft, pulling his sword from its sheath. It wasn’t his best weapon, but he’d trained enough in the Droska ring to know that it would be the most effective against the two serpentine foes. He shouted as he sped across the water, hoping to distract the creatures from their intended target. The two heads swung to look in his direction, and began to raise out of the water as he approached. He veered to the left, hoping to put one of them behind the other, confusing their attack. Too late, he realized his mistake. As the heads cleared the water, he saw that they were connected to the same body. There would be no confusing this enemy.
Quick as lightning, the two heads attacked. Axl made a sharp turn with his craft and, as the Hydra retreated, he saw his opening. He swung his sword, slicing through scales to land a narrow blow. The head recoiled, pulling back towards the body. Axl looked for the other head, fearing an attack, but it didn’t come. Then, before he could react, the second head erupted from the water and coiled around his craft. It lifted him partway out of the water as the first head poised itself to strike. Axl prepared to let go, but he knew his chances were slim.
Then, a whistling split the air as a harpoon tore through the eye of the head that was about to strike. The creature screamed and Axl looked back at the path of the harpoon in astonishment. There, standing on the edge of the dock, stood his father, a giant harpoon gun hoisted over his shoulder. Behind him, a large chest that sat on the side of the office lay open. It had been there all through his childhood, and he’d often wondered what was in it. “Lost the key years ago,” his father had said when he asked.
Another whistle, and a second harpoon followed the first. Axl wasted no more time. Climbing his watercraft, he slashed twice at the neck of the great Hydra, nearly severing it. It slid back into the ocean, and Axl had a tense moment when he thought it might drag his watercraft down with it. But instead, the coils loosened, and the great beast slid into the water, dead.
“Holy tides, Dad! Where did you learn to shoot like that!” Axl exclaimed when he reached the dock.
“Hah! I guess climbing wasn’t the only think your mom loved about me.” His father flashed a big grin. Axl knew that grin. It was his grin. His father carefully laid the harpoon gun back in its chest and returned to where Axl was sitting. “How come you never showed what was in there before?” asked Axl. “Never had cause to,” replied his father. “Besides, I figured you’d get it open one day or another. Clever rascal that you were.” There was a pause. “So what did you want to tell me about your mother?”
“Nothing, really, I guess,” Axl lied, not wanting to spoil the mood just yet. “I...I saw a picture of her at the Citadel the other day. After I fought the Guaracuda.”
“What?” his father exclaimed. “Did they just call the tournament and make you a Blade already? Not that I’d blame them. A Guaracuda, though?”
Axl smiled. They had a lot of catching up to do.
Multi-limbed monsters require coordination to hit. Some of their hit locations are joined, meaning both hits must be assigned during the same fight. You may have to team up with other contestants to make sure you take these down!