No Easy Day
How did we end up here?
How did I end up here?
The sun had set by now. The tall peaks of the surrounding mountains loomed out of the darkness and Korra was doing her best to steer the airship to avoid them. At the moment she was relying on her instruments and the map taped to the steering column with their destination of Zaofu circled. It didn’t help that the metal city sat in a valley surrounded by high peaks. It would’ve been tragic and ironic after everything that happened that day for everyone to lose their lives because she clipped the side of a mountain.
On their way back from what was once the Northern Air Temple they had flown by Ba Sing Sei. Even from the air she and everyone else on board could see the chaos and devastation. They could see the Earth Kingdom army moving into position in an attempt to subdue the riots but she knew it was useless. Unlike its neighboring nations, the Earth Kingdom never had a strong military. She could tell that by the fact that their transferring of tax money had been constantly foiled by a group of bandits and that they had hired Cabbage Corp as a contractor for their equpment. That told her enough. Now with the Earth Queen dead there was no one in charge unless they could dig up some member of royal family who was still alive. Still this wasn’t going to be a simple fix.
Spirits what a mess!
To think all of this because…
She shook her head trying to get the thought of those glowing eyes staring up at her in agony.
“Something wrong,” asked the only other person on the bridge. It was Zaofu’s Captain of the Guard Kuriva.
“I’m fine Captain,” said Korra softly. “Long day.”
Kuriva stepped forward a bit. “We should be approaching Zaofu shortly. I believe it’s just over that mountain there.”
Kuriva pointed forward but Korra was having a difficult time seeing. Flipping a switch the lights on the bridge switched from white to red. After a few moments of letting her eyes adjust she could clearly see the mountain Kuriva was talking about.
“Just bank left around it and we’ll be there.”
Korra nodded and did as instructed. And just like that the illuminated domes of Zaofu appeared in sight. Korra reached over and handed the radio receiver to the Captain.
“Zaofu this Captain Kuriva requesting permission to land.”
There was a brief pause before…
“Permission granted Captain.”
Ahead of them one of the domes opened up revealing the brightly lit landing pad.
“Zaofu we need medical and security personnel standing by. We have wounded on board in need of immediate medical attention.”
“Acknowledged. Medical and security personnel are already standing by.” The tone of the dispatcher became more informal. “Thought you should know we have some visitors. White Lotus. They here about that prisoner you have.”
“White Lotus,” scoffed Korra, “I feel safer already.”
Kuriva regarded her for a second before speaking again into the receiver. “Acknowledged. Kuriva out.”
She placed the receiver back on its cradle and without another word departed the bridge. Korra paid no mind as she focused all her attention on bringing the airship down for a smooth landing.
Once the airship was securely anchored to the ground Korra finally relaxed a little bit. She still had to complete some shut down procedures. Soon the hum of the engines slowly died down and there was silence. Korra had been fearing this moment. When there was nothing else for her to do. She was alone with her thoughts and it was the last thing she wanted.
“You're too late! The poison's been in her system too long. The Red Lotus has won.”
Korra’s hands bawled into fists and soon they collided with the steering column, then it was her feet and then she was trying to rip the fifty-pound instrument out of its fixture not minding that the airship belong to the Metal Clan.
She heard her voice from only a few hours ago.
“You son of a bitch! I’ll kill you!”
And like before hands were soon grabbing her and hauling her away. Before it was a couple people. This one it was just one.
She stopped punching and kicking but she remained tense and on edge. Hands gripped her arms from behind.
“Korra,” said the voice now in a gentle tone.
She felt all the anger drawn from her and it was slowly replaced with despair. Her muscles that seconds earlier were ready to tear apart the entire control panel became lax and her body went limp. The strong pair of arms managed to keep her on her feet. She allowed herself to be turned around.
“Sweetie,” said Tonraq softly.
Korra let out a sob. In the past couple of hours she almost lost those who she was closest to. She only learned later that her father barely escaped death if it weren’t for the quick actions of Kuriva. On top of hearing her father’s scrape with death she had to deal with the fact that her best friend had been taken away by some freakish cult.
“May I just say that this plan is bad? Stupid. Idiotic. Moronic. Bat shit crazy. Illogical. Nonsensical. Am I missing anything here?”
A pair of sympathetic but determined emerald eyes bore into hers. “Korra.” The tone of her voice sent shivers down Korra’s spine. “I know. Trust me I’m not exactly gung ho about this but it’s the only way.” She had pressed on before Korra contradict that. “I’ll have back up. Lin, Su and your father.”
She glanced downward, fidgeting with one of her gloves. “I’m not happy with that either. Him being a world leader and all.”
A pair of hands found her shoulders. “Hey.” She looked up as if she was under a spell. “I won’t let anything happen to him and he’ll watch over me. Don’t worry. This will work.”
In the present Korra clenched her jaw shut in a desperate attempt to hold back the inevitable tears.
“Don’t worry. This will work.”
Her lip quivered and she felt tears starting to run down her face.
“N-Nothing. I’ll…I’ll tell when you come back.”
Korra squeezed her eyes shut.
She let out the scream that she had been holding in for what seemed like an eternity. It was filled with sorrow and anger.
She was pulled forward and felt herself fall into her father’s arms. One hand was wrapped around her back to keep her on her feet while the other stroked the back of her head.
“Shhh,” whispered Tonraq softly, “It’s okay Korra. Everything is going to be okay. Just let it all out.”
This wasn’t the first time Korra had been in a situation like this and had heard those words from her parents. The first time was when she was eight and Master Katara had told her that any bending abilities she had would’ve cropped up by now. She later suspected that the elderly waterbender knew from the first time that she wasn’t a bender but knew that she wouldn’t accept that answer. Not yet at least.
Korra realized that she had said that out loud. “Worthless,” she repeated softly, feeling fresh tears well up in her eyes. “That hasn’t changed.” She felt her father tighten his grip on her.
“You’re wrong Korra. You have gifts and abilities well beyond myself and many other people. You have created so many wonderful things.”
“And none of that helped today,” she said bitterly, “None of it…helped her.”
“She’s strong Korra. The both of you are strong in spirit. I believe the two of you will come out of this stronger and better than before.”
She wanted to refute that but she just didn’t have the energy for it. Instead she just let her father hold her.
How did we end up here?
How did I end up here?
Ever since she moved to Republic City and met up with Asami, Mako and Bolin she had been a witness and participant in world changing events. And despite that they or at least she had held onto the belief that no matter how much things change some things will stay the same. That whatever hurdle life had thrown at them they managed to regain some normalcy in their lives.
She wasn’t sure that would happen again.
Things were changing and there was no going back this time.