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The Phoenix Princess Never Dies

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            Finally, the moment she had waited for. She would be crowned Fire Lord. This is what Azula had wanted her entire life, right? ‘Of course it was!’ She assured herself. It was her destiny to rule, not her foolish brother, certainly not that rabble he ran around with. Avatar or no, they were little more than peasants. ‘No matter, father will take care of them’ she thought darkly, smiling to herself.

            Around her, the council stood ready to accept their new ruler. The only reason she did not already wear the crown was because those old fools felt the need to have this ceremony; despite no one being here to watch. That irked her somewhat, that no one would be here when she finally ascended to the throne. ‘They aren’t worthy of witnessing this moment. None of them are!’ she told herself. She closed her eyes as she waited for the crown.

            “By decree of Phoenix King Ozai,” the council’s leader began, “I now crown you, Firelord-” the councilman hesitated.

            Azula shot a glare over her shoulder, “What are you waiting for? Do it!” she demanded. Then she heard it, a roar that she knew could only belong to the beast the Avatar always flew around on. Azula whipped her head around, her face flashing with fear for a moment, before she regained some semblance of control. ‘Firelord Azula fears no one!’ she proclaimed to herself alone. Her doubts were buried by her anger when she saw who sat atop the infernal creature. Her brother; and that peasant from the water tribe. The second she barely noticed, as all of her attention centered on Zuko as the beast landed in front of her.

            “Sorry, but you’re not going to become Firelord today.” he said, “I am.”

            ‘Ridiculous, impossible, never’ the words raced through her head, ‘the throne is mine and you can’t take that away from me! I deserve it, not you!’ But all she could do was laugh. “You’re hilarious.”

            The peasant stepped up beside her brother, “And you’re going down!” she proclaimed.

            ‘Ignorant, insolent, foolish’ Azula’s mind was racing faster; faster than she could keep up with for much longer. The councilman made to place the crown on her head, as if he sought to ignore this challenge. She would not be so weak. “Wait!” she commanded, raising her hand to stop him, “You want to be Firelord?” she asked as she stood, “Fine. Let’s settle this, just you and me, brother, the showdown that was always meant to be; Agni Kai!” There was no way he would be foolish enough to accept, and if he did, she would crush him and capture the water tribe peasant for later.

            Zuko appeared calm as he glared back at her. “You’re on.” he said defiantly.

            The peasant looked at him incredulously; Azula simply smiled. “What are you doing?!” she asked him, “She’s playing you! She knows she can’t take us both so she’s trying to separate us!”

            Azula’s grin faded as she concealed her outrage at the peasant’s remark.

            “I know,” Zuko responded without looking away from Azula, “but I can take her this time.”

His confidence unnerved her, though she could not show it. It infuriated her as well.

“But even you admitted to your uncle that you would need help facing Azula.”

“There’s something off about her, I can’t explain it, but she’s slipping.” he explained, “And this way, no one else has to get hurt.”

            Azula barely registered what was being said as she tried to prepare herself for the coming fight.

 

            As they sat facing away from each other, Katara couldn’t help but noticed the contrast between the two siblings. Zuko was still, calm and collected; Azula fidgeted, and looked entirely disheveled, unhinged even. Abruptly, they both stood. Zuko took up a fighting stance, while Azula stood upright, arrogantly pulling off her cloak.

            “I’m sorry it has to end this way brother.” she stated as she dropped her cloak.

            “No you’re not.” he responded simply.

            Azula’s mad grin did not fade, but Katara could see her eyes grow more sinister. She took up a loose fighting stance before launching the first attack. The battle quickly became an impressive display of power, with Zuko’s control matching Azula’s untamed fury. Blue and orange fire clashed again and again, as Azula simply tried to overpower Zuko. It soon became apparent that Azula was beginning to tire, and Zuko seemed to have the upper hand as he knocked her off of the jet of flame she had been riding.

            “No lightning today? What’s the matter, afraid I’ll redirect it?!” Zuko taunted as Azula stood.

            “Oh, I’ll show you lightning!” Azula cried; her madness becoming more and more obvious as the fight went on.

            Katara felt pity for her, despite the how much pain the princess had caused her and her friends; to see someone, even Azula, like this just seemed so sad to her. Her musing was halted as she watched Azula carelessly gather as much energy as she could muster, before pointing it… directly at Katara!

            Timed seemed to slow. Katara could only watch, eyes wide, as Zuko dove in front of her. Somehow he still redirected it, as it streaked up into the sky; but something was wrong, that much was clear to her as he lay twitching, unable to rise. “Zuko!” she cried, as she moved to help him. Before she could get close, lightning struck in front of her, forcing her to dive away. She tried to run to him again, as she could see him trying to get up, but Azula shot a wave of fire at her from the side, forcing her to protect herself. Azula laughed maniacally as she shot another bolt of lightning at Katara, her accuracy seemingly hindered by her utter lunacy as she finally lost control completely. Katara could only desperately dive away from each blast to avoid the heat that each bolt gave off.

            “I’d really rather our family physician look after Zuzu if you don’t mind.” Azula said mockingly, before sending another streak of lightning at Katara.

            She pulled water from the ditch that bordered the courtyard to block it, before retreating behind a pillar as Azula threw more fire down at her. She caught her breath behind the pillar as she desperately sought a way to defeat Azula.

            “Zuzu, you don’t look so good!” Azula yelled across the courtyard.

            Katara looked around the pillar to make sure he was alright. She saw him lying where he had fallen, across the burning courtyard. As she did so, Azula grunted as she charge more lightning, which gave Katara enough warning to dodge, moving to another pillar as she searched her surroundings for something to fight back with. She pulled water from the ditch again and directed it at the spot Azula had been standing; a spot that was now vacant. Suddenly, Azula flew at her from behind, riding a jet of blue fire. Katara sprinted back towards the courtyard, using more water to help her dodge the blasts of fire Azula launched at her as she charged recklessly.

A particularly strong blast forced her out of the courtyard once again, and as she stumbled behind another pillar, she saw that a grate nearby was covering a large stream of water flowing beneath the courtyard. She moved to stand above the grate as she started to think of a plan.

“There you are filthy peasant!” the princess called, as she flew at Katara from behind a pillar, fire streaking behind her.

Katara, taken completely by surprise, reacted on instinct; drawing water from beneath her, she directed it towards Azula’s voice even as she froze it. She heard a surprised gasp from beside her, and she turned to see Azula impaled on multiple shards of ice; the momentum of her careless charge had rendered her unable to dodge. She stared in horror as the princess struggled to breath; one of the spike went right through her chest. Azula glared at her, eyes full of hate.

“Of all the people to kill me, you are the only one worse than Zuko…” she stated, “I hope my father kills you all!” The princess coughed, blood splattering on the ice as she drew her last, laborious breath. “And if he doesn’t, just know that I will haunt you in particular until the day you die… mark my words, this is not the last you will hear from me peasant. You will not find peace, my shadow will dog you every step until the day you die! This… I… promise…”

With those words, the crown princess died. Katara could not hold back tears as she unfroze the ice and lowered her to the ground. She cried as she closed her eyes, and as she made her way to where Zuko still lay. She cried as she healed him, and as she told Zuko what had happened. She never told him about Azula's last words, however, and it wasn’t until after they met up with Aang once more that the gravity of the princess’ final words truly hit her.

 

--53 years later--

-Southern Air Temple-

            By the time of Aang’s death, Katara had not thought about Azula’s words in many years. As she sat alone in the hours following his passing, she could not help but reflect on the events of their life together. It was while reminiscing that she recalled the end of the war and the words that had haunted her for so long. She wondered if Azula ever had the opportunity to follow through on her promise. If so, which of the many trials they had experienced could have been her doing? Since Katara still lived, perhaps she was still waiting for her opportunity. Katara quickly dismissed these thoughts, as there was little to gain in speculating. She could only hope that Azula had somehow found peace.

 

-Somewhere in the Spirit World-

            Azula had waited patiently for this moment. The first decade after her death had been agonizing. Watching the Avatar and his friends grow up to find love and happiness, to see what the world became without her in it. It had nearly destroyed her when Zuko was reunited with their mother. The only thing that allowed her to persist was the knowing her mother had loved her through everything. With renewed fervor, she had overcome her sorrow, her regret, even her own mind with all of its devices and doubts that had built up over the years she spent trying to please her father. With a new direction, and a new plan, she waited for her opportunity to show the world, and of course that lowly peasant, that she was not yet finished. Now, the time to wait was over. A new Avatar would be born, and she would be the vessel for Azula’s revenge.

Chapter Text

-South Pole-

As the oldest and most experienced waterbender in the Southern Water Tribe, Katara had been the obvious choice to train the young Avatar in waterbending. Even she was surprised, however, at how quickly Korra had picked up and mastered every skill she had shown her. The Avatar’s single-minded focus was simultaneously impressive and worrisome. In fact, many aspects of the ten year old concerned her. She was far too concerned with mastering her bending, spending much of her free time practicing. Any time she wasn’t bending was spent alone, or with her parents. Katara frequently wondered whether her focus was the cause or the product of her isolation.

She often found herself frightened of the look Korra had when she finally mastered a technique; the hunger in her eyes did not suit someone so young. Yet, that was not what bothered her most. It was the eyes themselves that truly disturbed the master waterbender; they were golden. Every time she looked at them she saw Azula; stabbed, bleeding, cursing her name. The implications were clear to Katara, but she had no way to validate her suspicions. She simply did her best to guide the Avatar down the gentlest path possible.

 

--Seven years later--

Korra stood upright as she tuned out her firebending master as he discussed her mastery of the element with her other former teachers. She had mastered fire just as easily as water and earth, perhaps even easier. It had come as naturally as breathing to her, which was convenient given firebending was largely dependent on control of one’s breath. She watched the White Lotus guards as they were helped out of the fighting ring. Pathetic. Even four on one, they were no match for the heat of her flames. She had surpassed them long ago, as she had surpassed all of her teachers. Her insatiable hunger for knowledge and strength had driven her above and beyond what they could teach her. Perhaps it’s time I found some new teachers. The thought came to her unbidden, though she was not against the idea. She had long ago accepted these intrusive ideas as some sort of Avatar instinct, and had learned to trust them as they had only ever helped her excel.

She was supposed to receive a new teacher soon, Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang, to help her master airbending. Pointless. Useless. She frowned as she watched her teachers go their separate ways, with Katara glancing at her; concern etched in her face, fear evident in her demeanor. She had never seen eye to eye with the master waterbender, who had insisted on teaching her healing before letting her move on to earthbending. She suspected the fear had set in around that time, as Korra had angrily insisted that she would never need to heal her enemies, and that anyone else could find their own doctor. After that, she had begun to trust only her parents and her own instincts, as everyone else clearly had their own agenda. The Avatar was no one’s puppet.

With that in mind, Korra decided that she would make her own way. She pondered it further as she left the courtyard that had served as her training ground for the past eight years. She would travel the world, master every aspect of bending she could and become the most powerful Avatar to have ever existed. Only then could she do what her predecessors could not; bring true balance to the world. The only question now was where to start. Perhaps Zaofu? The Metal Clan were known to be powerful earth- and metalbenders. She could also head to the Fire Nation. She had always been interested in learning how to bend lightning, though her firebending teacher had refused to even discuss the matter with her. She suspected that he was simply bitter about not being able to do it himself. Republic City. That was an interesting idea; she could probably learn a lot regarding all of the elements there. There was also much more to do and more ways to stay out of sight in a city that big.

The more she considered it, the more the idea appealed to her. She could leave tomorrow, as she didn’t need to pack much. Tonight. She thought for a moment, and as she closed the door to her room. She took in her few belongings; her parka she wouldn’t need, a few variations on her standard water tribe outfit, her extra pair of boots. Knives. Of course, the set of throwing knives that had been a gift from her creepy uncle for her sixteenth birthday. She would want to avoid drawing attention, and not much drew attention like bending. Nothing else stood out to her as something she should bring. She realized with a slight smirk that she could be ready in less than a minute. Korra decided she would leave at midnight.

 

-Later that night-

Only the whisper of the wind could be heard as Korra slipped out of the building that she had lived in for the past twelve years. She could never bring herself to call the place home, and she didn’t look back as she bent a hole in the giant wall of ice that surrounded the compound. She made her way to the nearby docks, and was halfway through the process of preparing a small skiff for her departure when she heard slow, shuffling footsteps across the deck behind her.

“You can’t stop me, sifu.” she stated levelly without stopping her movements.

“I know,” Katara responded, “But I thought I should at least see you off. And I owe you an apology.”

“For?” Korra questioned.

“Whatever happens to you, it will be my fault.” she answered cryptically, “I should have been stronger; I should have tried harder to save her, to save you. For that, I am truly sorry.”

That made Korra pause as she was untying the rope that moored the ship to the dock. “What do you mean? Who did you fail to save? Why would you need to save me?” she asked, looking up at the old waterbender. She saw in her eyes a sadness deeper than the ocean she was floating on.

Katara knelt down and finished untying the rope. “Now is not the time to tell you, child. Someday, you will understand.” she said quietly, “I only hope that you can forgive me once you do.” With that, she stepped back, and gently waterbent Korra’s ship away from the dock. She watched as the Avatar recovered from her shock and pushed herself further out to sea, until she disappeared over the horizon.

 

--1 week later--

-Outside Republic City-

Korra was careful to make landfall far enough away to avoid any prying eyes, but that also meant she had a long way to walk until she’d make it into the city proper. She grabbed the knapsack containing her belongings, then earthbent the skiff back into the water and set it adrift. She made sure her throwing knives were concealed within reach as she began the long walk towards the city. She studied the skyline as she approached, and found herself impressed with the sheer size and quantity of the buildings here. They seemed to stretch up to the sky, and they took up all of the horizon before her. The lights were even more incredible; like stars sprinkled all over the city. As she got closer she came upon a road, which she decided to follow along the outskirts of what seemed like a residential area.

She passed a multitude of shops and restaurants that were bustling with activity despite how late it was getting. She wondered if all the activity was a byproduct of the city lights allowing people to feel safer going out at night, or if the people went out anyway and the lights where just there to make it seem safer. Her question was answered a few minutes later when she felt a shadow step out of an alley behind her. She stopped walking, but didn’t turn to face them, and crossed her arms as if she had suddenly grown cold, while simultaneously taking hold of one of her knives. The stranger stopped as well, a few feet behind her.

“It’s a bit late to be walking the streets alone young lady.” the sleazy sounding man said, “Maybe I should walk you home.”

Korra turned to face the man, giving him an innocent smile. Vile, disgusting, scum. She noted his outfit; shiny black dress shoes, clean red dress pants with a matching jacket, and black bowler hat. He looked to be in his late twenties. She assumed he was some sort of gang member. “I’m just looking for a place to stay.” she told him.

The man’s crooked smirk grew slightly. “I know a good place. I can take you there, it’s not too far from here.” he explained smoothly.

“Lead the way.” Korra responded.

The man walked past her, far too close for her comfort. Even his cologne was revolting, and he wore far too much of it. “Follow me.” he called over his shoulder.

Since he was heading the same way she had been, Korra decided to follow him for now. The boat ride had been unbearably boring, and she found herself itching for a fight. So she fell into step just a few feet behind the man, keeping one eye on him while also paying attention to where they were going. They passed a few more shops, most of which were closed or empty. She noticed far less people out on the streets here. She decided this must be gang territory, or at least a shady part of town. As the man slipped into an alley, she decided she definitely didn’t want to arrive at whatever place he was leading her too. She slowed to a stop and dropped her pack halfway through the alley.

The man slowed as well, and turned to see what was wrong. “Come on, it’s just another block or so.” he said, inclining his head to the left, towards the other end of the alley.

“We won’t be staying there tonight.” Korra stated calmly, “I think this is as good a place as any to rest.” She took a half step towards him, subtly readying herself for a fight. She suspected he was a firebender, and wanted to be ready.

“Here?” he questioned, not catching her meaning as he looked around, “This is just a dirty alley.”

“Seems fitting. Ironic even.” Korra smirked at him as she saw him begin to figure it out. Before he could do anything about it, she whipped her right hand out, light glinting off steel as the knife flashed from her hand to his right shoulder. Her left followed suit faster than he could register what was happening. The second knife buried itself in his right thigh, and he crashed to the ground, landing on his side.

“You bitch!” he yelled at her, “I’ll kill you!”

He launched a blast of fire with his good arm, but from the ground the movement was slow and Korra easily dodged as she closed. He tried desperately to crawl away, but the Avatar was already upon him. She put her knee into his stomach as she grabbed his collar. With her right arm she grabbed her last knife from where it was secured at the small of her back and held it to his neck.

“Wait, wait!” the man cried, “Please don’t kill me!”

Kill him. “Begging isn’t going to get you anywhere,” Korra responded coldly, “I’ll need an actual reason if I’m going to justify letting your sleazy ass go.” As she spoke, she pressed the knife just a little harder into his neck.

“Shit, ok… um…” the man desperately sought a way to convince her, “If you need a place to stay, there are plenty of hotels and such downtown! Lots of tourists and the like stay there. Down the road we were just on, take a left at the first big intersection and cross the bridge. You can’t miss it!”

“Hmmm…” Korra considered it. She felt like he was telling the truth, but she knew not trust him completely. No mercy, no witnesses. “That’s much better,” The man sighed with relief. “But, just in case.” His eyes widened as she plunged the knife into his chest, straight into his heart. She jumped back as he clutched at the stream of red flowing from his chest, his red jacket turning darker as the stain spread. He coughed up more as he tried to scream, then quickly stilled as the blood loss caught up with him and he lay still.

Korra was struck dumb as she stared at his body. “Spirits…” She had intended to let him go. She lurched to her knees, feeling sick as she realized she had just killed a man in cold blood. Weak, pathetic, grow up. She only retched once before she recovered. The Avatar closed her eyes for a moment, just long enough to send those thoughts to the back of her mind and refocus. She stood up and made her way to where the gangster’s body lay, a pool of crimson beneath him. She carefully retrieved each of her knives, wiping them on his left pant leg before returning them to where she had previously concealed them. With one last look around, she ducked out of the alley and made her way towards the nearby bridge. She failed to look above, however, where she would have seen a masked figure watching through green lenses.

Chapter Text

-Downtown Republic City-

Korra followed the thug’s directions, knowing that fear begets honesty. As she neared the far side of the bridge, she noted distinct differences from the area she had just left. There was no trash on the street, no low life eyeing her from the alley and… none of the street lights were on. She also didn’t see anyone on the streets, which she found very strange. As she walked further down the block, she began to hear shouting in the distance. It was unintelligible, and sounded more like a crowd than individual voices. Deciding to investigate, Korra followed the noise. It slowly became a rumble, steadily increasing in intensity as she got closer. Korra picked up the pace as her curiosity grew. She cut through an alley where she could see people on the other side. She was nearly running by the time the crowd came into view. People filled the streets from building to building. Hundreds of them, all shouting towards a group of men in uniforms who stood behind barricades. She assumed they were Republic City’s police force. One officer standing on top of a Satomobile, using a microphone to shout over the crowd.

“All non-benders, return to your homes immediately.”

“Yea, as soon as you turn our power back on!” A man in the crowd shouted back. That got the crowd even more riled up, nearly drowning out the officer’s reply.

“Disperse, or you’ll all be arrested.”

“You benders can’t treat us this way!” Shouted a woman. The crowd got even louder, drowning out the officers next words.

Korra watched as two men approached the blockade. One was shorter, more stout and square jawed, with a very receded hairline. He wore a police uniform and was listening to the other man. The other was clearly from the water tribe, with long hair, tanned skin and blue eyes. He finished whatever he was saying to the shorter man, and they stopped just behind the Satomobile where the officer was still trying to disperse the crowd. Korra made to move closer as the short man shouted up to the officer with the microphone. Get out of here. Korra broke off, moving towards the edge of the crowd. She knew something was about to happen, and was not about to get caught in the middle. She glanced back over her shoulder, and saw the officer stand back up, and bring the mic up to his mouth.

“Arrest these Equalists!” He shouted.

Korra was almost to the edge of the crowd when chaos erupted. People were running in all directions, making for alleys or just blindly running away. She shoved her way through, not bothering to be gentle. She was a few steps from the alley she was aiming for when she felt someone grab her ankle. She turned, aiming a kick before she even saw who it was, but she barely got a glimpse before she was pulled off her feet. She reached for her ankle, even as she was dragged across the pavement. She saw now that it was a wire wrapped around her leg, and it was pulling her towards the police line. All around her, people were being rounded up by the police. Most were penned up by the barricades, while the rest had been grabbed by wires like her. As she came to a stop at the feet of the officer who grabbed her, a second wire wrapped around her torso, locking her arms to her sides. She watched as the people trapped by the barricades were picked up by the earth beneath them, and loaded into trucks by the handful. The rest were being unceremoniously tossed in the back of another truck. The same officer who had dragged her across the street moved to pick up Korra. Feeling rather undignified and very annoyed, Korra aimed a kick at the man's jaw.

She caught him completely unprepared, right under the chin and he immediately slumped to the ground, unconscious. The wire pinning her arms loosened, and she quickly wriggled out. Two more officers approached, much more warily this time. Korra was about to show them who they were messing with. No bending. She had already failed at keeping a low profile, but she couldn’t let them know she was the Avatar. Korra drew her knives instead, eyeing the officers as they closed the distance.

“She’s armed!” One cried, sounding alarmed. The voices owner was clearly nervous, she doubted he’d seen much action yet.

“I noticed, rookie.” The other one replied flatly. He was clearly more seasoned, she could tell by the way he moved, subtly maneuvering to block off her escape.

Korra decided to go for the veteran first. She made a dash for the alley, as he was still moving to cut her off. The veteran thrust his hands out, shooting both of his wires at her, one high and one low. Korra leapt over one, and deflected the other with her knife. As soon as her feet touched the ground again, she pivoted towards the man and rushed him directly. She heard wires pass just behind her as the rookie was too late to adjust for her sudden change of direction. The veteran took a wide stance as he drew his wires back in. He and Korra both knew they wouldn’t retract in time. He launched a series of rocks to slow her down, and Korra gracefully danced around each of them, even as she continued to close. The veteran calmly conjured up a wall in her path, which Korra the pushed off of, changing direction toward the alley again. She heard wires whistling towards her, and quickly spun around to deflect them. One bounced off her blade, but the other caught her forearm . She was about to cut it, but a third wire wrapped around her other wrist. She pulled against them, but the wires just got tighter. Her knives were pulled from her grasp, and a wire wrapped her arms to her sides again. Korra stopped struggling, and settled for glaring at the two officers.

“This one’s had training.” The veteran stated. He stepped behind Korra and handcuffed her. He was not gentle, and the cuffs bit into her wrists sharply.

“Yea, she was pretty good.” The rookie replied, “Fast too.” The veteran handed him Korra’s knives.

“What’s with these?” He asked, “Chi blocking doesn’t quite do it for you?” Both officers chuckled. Korra just glared at him.

The veteran shoved Korra forward, towards the last truck. “Not bad rook.” He said, “First day out, and you helped bag an Equalist. Just don’t let it go to your head.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it sarge.” The rookie replied as he moved to pick Korra up. He was met with a knee to the face as Korra vented some of her frustration.

“Ah fuck!” The rookie clutched his nose, blood dripping from his hand. Korra didn’t have time to smirk at him before she was slammed to the ground head first. Her ears rang as the sergeant leaned over her.

“Put hands on any of my men again, and I won’t hesitate to bury you. I will fuck you up, just test me.” He hissed directly into her ear. “Got it?”

Korra nodded once, still dazed. The veteran picked her up, and threw her in the truck, slamming the doors behind her.

“Have the medic look at you. We’ll get her to the station.” She heard through the doors.

Korra sat up, and tried to make herself comfortable on the bench. She felt someone get in the truck and start the engine. She was startled as the truck started moving, almost falling off the bench. Korra had pictured her first time in a Satomobile being much different.

-The Next Morning-

-Republic City Police Station-

Korra awoke to the sound of footsteps outside her cell. She glanced up to find the sergeant who had arrested her, along with the bald man who had ordered the arrests.

“Sleep well?” The sergeant asked sarcastically, “Good. We have questions for you. On your feet face the wall, hands against it above your head.”

Korra stares at him without moving, her face expressionless, yet defiant. He stared back for a few seconds before he spoke again.

“I’m giving you a chance to play nice, girl. I suggest you take it.”

Korra simply held her hands out in front of her, together. Again, she and the sergeant stared at each other. The battle of wills was finally interrupted by the bald man.

“Just cuff her sergeant, so we can get on with it. We have other suspects to question.”

“This one is different, sir.” The sergeant responded, “She’s well trained; she already injured two of my men.” Korra smirked at that, which both men saw.

“Just get her to interrogation. I don’t care how.” The bald man looked Korra in the eyes as he said that last part. She just kept smirking at him, though her arms were crossed now. He turned around after a moment, and disappeared down the hallway. Once he was gone, the sergeant let some length of his cables drop from his gauntlets to the floor.

“Last chance to do this nice, girl.”

Korra rolled her eyes, and held her hands up again. The sergeant bent the cell door open, and shot a wire around her wrists. The second wrapped around her ankles, forcing her legs together. Korra stood awkwardly for a moment, trying to regain her balance. Before she got the chance, however, she found herself picked up and tossed over the man's shoulder.

Korra thrashed angrily for a few moments, attempting to strike him with her knees and elbows, but it had no effect through his armor.

“Put me down asshole!” She cried, “I was being perfectly cooperative!” She stopped struggling and settled for holding herself in a comfortable position, while trying to retain some dignity.

“You brought this on yourself, girl.” The sergeant replied, “I’d rather not have to lug you around, but you seem to enjoy making things difficult.”

Korra’s only reply was an exasperated huff. It wasn’t far until they passed through a doorway, and she was unceremoniously dumped into a chair. Her hands were almost immediately cuffed to the table, before the cables restraining her were pulled away. Korra closed her eyes and took a moment to center herself; now was not the time to lose control. She listened to the sergeant walk out of the room and shut the door. She opened her eyes and studied the room. It was small, with only the table she was cuffed to, her chair and the one across from her. The door was on her left, and it had a small window through which she could see the back of a helmet, she assumed the sergeant, standing guard.

Less than a minute later the guard stepped away, and the door opened again. In stepped the water tribe man she had seen last night, who seemed to be in charge of whatever this operation was.

“We’re a little short on time,” he said, “so I’ll keep this brief. You have information that I need, and I have the means to detain you indefinitely.”

Korra gave nothing away as the man paused to observe her reaction. To his credit, he didn’t seem at all surprised by this.

“If you decide to talk, you can be out of here within the week. If you choose to be difficult, however, your stay will be much longer and far less pleasant.”

Again the man stopped to let his words sink in. Korra merely continued to stare into his eyes, unblinking and expressionless.

He gave a tired sigh. “My patience is wearing thin. I’m giving you a chance at redemption here, an opportunity to aid Republic City against the Equalist terrorists. What I need are names, locations, numbers. Who are your leaders, where do they train and recruit? How many men are at their disposal?” He demanded.

Korra laughed in the man’s face. She couldn’t believe how desperate the police must be. They didn’t have a clue what was going on either, and that amused her to no end. At least she had the excuse of arriving yesterday. She took a moment to regain her composure. The man across from her looked less than amused.

“You think I’m an Equalist?!” She exclaimed, still not quite believing he was serious.

The man stood up, knocking his chair to the ground as he slammed a fist on the table. “You were apprehended at an Equalist rally, where you attacked multiple officers, injured two of them, and then attempted to flee on foot!” He snarled.

“They attacked me first!” Korra replied indignantly. “And whatever the Equalists are, it has nothing to do with me.”

“So you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?” The man stated, “I find that far too convenient to believe. No, the way I see it, you are an Equalist agent who was attempting to incite a riot amongst the non-benders of Republic City. When things went wrong, you attempted to escape.” He smirked, “Or perhaps you sought to buy time for your comrades to escape. Quite noble, for a terrorist.”

Korra frowned at him, not liking the direction this was taking. The man before her was clearly delusional, caught up in his own personal power trip and a vendetta against these Equalists. “I’m not an Equalist. I only arrived in the city recently. I really don’t-“

“Then who are you?!” He interrupted, “Why did you come to Republic City? Why now? Who can verify your story? Because I don’t believe a word you say. Give me something tangible, or you’ll find yourself right back in a cell!”

Korra went for a different approach. “My name is Mai.” she replied softly, “I came here to find work. My mother has been very sick and my family can’t afford the treatment she needs.” She swallowed her pride and did her best to play up the pleading and desperation. “I swear I’m not here to cause trouble, I just have no idea what’s going on.”

She only got a scoff in response. “It's disappointing that you’ve decided to waste my time.” The man said as he stood up, “Of course, we will have to detain you until we can verify your claims. The security of Republic City must come before individual comfort.” He made his way out the door without another word...