Korra woke abruptly to complete darkness. After a second some of the disorientation wore off and Korra began to panic as she felt a weight on her chest. She sat up and whatever was pressing down on her disappeared. Before Korra could act any further she felt something cold and wet touch and lick her cheek.
“Naga,” she said with a sigh of relief. Her eyes adjusted enough to see the white outline of her canine companion. Naga continued to nuzzle and lick her face. It was times like these she was grateful for having the dog in her life. She sat up a bit and wrapped her arms around Naga, pulling her closer. Naga responded by resting her head on Korra’s chest.
Korra glanced around the room to make out her surroundings. She wasn’t the only occupant in the room. A few feet away from her was another bed and in it was her father still dressed in the clothes he wore to the battle hours earlier.
Zaofu. I’m in Zaofu.
A rush of unpleasant and unwelcomed memories flooded Korra’s mind and she tried her best to flush them out. After leaving the airship Tonraq had quickly guided Korra to one of the many guest rooms. After briefly greeting Naga who had come running as soon as she disembarked from the airship, she collapsed onto the bed and quickly fell asleep. She was not only tired but also hoping that day’s events were all some horrible nightmare.
Korra wanted to get up but the rest of her body wouldn’t respond. A part of her didn’t want to know how the Avatar was because she was afraid of the answer. Despite witnessing Suyin removing the metallic poison from Asami’s body, she knew her friend was in bad shape.
In the end her worn out body and the frightened voice in her head won as Korra remained in bed for the rest of the night. She pulled Naga closer to her and buried her face in the soft white fur. It didn’t take long for her to fall back asleep.
To those who know Korra it is well known that once she gets to work tinkering with something her attention is one hundred percent focused on the task at hand. The world could come to an end and she would be none the wiser.
Today she was ninety-five percent focused on her work with the new Satomobile engine, the other five percent was towards the radio playing a familiar tune that Korra often found herself singing along to.
“’I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to start a flame in your heart,” sang Korra as she leaned down into the deep pit of the new Satomobile engine she was working on. She wore a gray jumpsuit that had blotches of oil and grease on it and her hair was pulled back into a ponytail. “In my heart I have but one desire, and that one is you. No other will do. I’ve all lost all ambition for world acclaim, I just want to be the one you love. And with your admission that you feel the same, I’ll have the goal I’m dreaming of, Believe m—“
Korra ceased singing when she realized during the last couple lines that it had become a duet.
“Good afternoon Korra,” said a familiar voice that made Korra bolt upright. She was thankful that she had removed the car hood beforehand or else she’d be seeing stars right now. “Sorry I couldn’t resist. I like that song.”
Korra took a deep breath to calm herself before turning to face her boss’ daughter. “Good to know you have good taste in music.” Asami’s wardrobe today was different although Korra didn’t expect her to be wearing the same dress as the night before. Instead she wore a dark red tunic, burgundy colored pants and tall black boots.
“I hope I wasn’t disturbing you,” asked Asami nervously.
Korra waved a hand. “Nah you’re fine. Besides your family owns this company. So if you wanted to you could go around bothering everyone and no one would say anything.” Korra walked over to the workbench and picked up her coffee cup, looking disappointed upon discovering that the cup was empty.
Asami chuckled. “I would never do tha—Oh! Hello.” Korra turned her head to see Naga had gotten up from her bed that was in the corner of the room and had approached Asami, tail wagging.
“Naga, don’t be a snoop.”
“It’s fine,” said Asami as she leaned down, extended her hand for Naga to sniff. It wasn’t necessary as Naga generally liked everyone but Naga sniffed the offered hand anyway before giving it a lick and moving in closer. Asami responded by rubbing Naga’s neck. “Hello Naga. What a beautiful dog you are.” She looked up at Korra. “I’m guessing she?”
“You are correct,” said Korra with a grin.
“Oh what beautiful girl you are,” said Asami as she got down one knee so that she was eye level with Naga who responded by licking Asami’s face.
“Naga,” said Korra disapprovingly.
“No its fine,” laughed Asami, “Once you’ve gotten a lick from a sky bison, a dog’s lick is mild in comparison.” She stood up which upset Naga but she relaxed when Asami continued to pet her as she looked around Korra’s workshop, her eyes settling on the engine Korra had been working on. “So is this your latest project?” Asami looked from the car to Korra and saw the engineer wore a lopsided grin. That grin is going to be the death of me isn’t it?
“Yep,” said Korra beaming, “Orders from the top brass.”
Asami smirked knowing who ‘top brass’ was. “How long have you been working on it?”
“Oh since nine this morning.”
Asami raised an eyebrow. “All this since nine?”
Korra chuckled. “No, if I was I’d be looking quite dead now. Not to mention I’d probably have a lot more muscle on my arms than these puny things,” she said as she flexed an arm to show how thin it was. She put it down when she realized that she was still wearing her jumpsuit that wasn’t illustrating her point very well given the baggy sleeves. She awkwardly cleared her throat and walked towards the car. “The engine is from our 200 series. For this,” she said tapping the side of the car, “I need to design a whole engine for this one for this,” tapping the engine, “is too heavy. So before I begin to come up with designs for a new engine I wanted to see what I could use from the old one. So I had the guys from parts bring me a 200 engine and so here I am fiddling with it to see what I can modify. Once I get it down to a certain weight I can work with and the performance matches what is expected from this model then I can start on designing the new engine.” Korra looked over Asami and saw her smiling at her. She couldn’t resist looking at those emerald eyes of hers. Those are going to be the death of me. “Sorry if I rambled there.”
“Oh no you’re fine,” said Asami moving closer, “One of the reasons why I stopped by. I’ve been gone for so long that I need a lot of catching up on what’s in the works. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the 200 series?”
“200 series is the sports version of the Satomobile essentially. Your father keeps coming up with fancy names for them but we just refer to it as 200 based off the model number.”
“I see,” says Asami with a nod, “Is there an expected deadline for this model?”
“Sometime next year so I have plenty of time to get this sorted out,” as Korra said this she placed a hand on the engine so she could lean on it and by doing so she knocked a piece off and it fell down into the depths of the engine. Korra closed her eyes and took a deep breath. If she didn’t have company she’d be swearing up a storm as it would take an hour just to find where that piece had gone. She felt a hand touched her shoulder. She opened her eyes.
“There was another reason why I stopped by,” said Asami, “I wanted to ask if you wanted to go to lunch.” She looked at the engine. “I think you could use it right about now.”
“Oh,” said Korra surprised, “Uhh yes. That would be nice. So we’ll just pop down to the canteen?”
“I had someplace else in mind. If you don’t mind of course. I don’t want to interrupt your work.”
Korra looked at the engine. “Yeah I could use a break. Let me just clean up and we’ll go.” She walked over to her workbench removed her gloves and undid her ponytail, letting down her hair. “Will this place allow Naga?” She turned back to Asami to see her staring at her.
“Hmm,” asked Asami, who was mentally kicking herself for starring.
“If you don’t mind I’d like Naga to come along with us.”
“Oh. Yeah this place has tables outside so I think they’d be fine with her.”
Korra unzipped her jumpsuit. “Great. Just give me a few minutes and we’ll go.” Korra tossed her gloves onto her workbench and disappeared into an adjacent room.
While she waited Asami walked around the workshop examining various machine parts that littered the floor and various tables. But what really drew her eye were the designs that were tacked onto the bulletin board over the workbench. She saw detailed and intricate designs for Satomobiles, airships and airplanes, some were rough sketches while some looked like advertisements.
“Anything catch your eye?”
Asami jumped a little and saw Korra emerge from the other room, scrubbing her face with a towel. She was dressed very formally in black pants, a light blue dress shirt and a dark blue vest.
“Were you dressed like that underneath that jumpsuit,” asked Asami.
“Yeah I had meeting this morning. Soon as I got in here it was straight to work. I’m usually more casual when I work. But investors pop around all the time and Mr. Sato wants everyone looking their best and brightest.” She looked up at the board. “So what do you think?”
“I think they’re quite fantastic,” said Asami, her eyes turning back to the various drawings. “You certainly have an artistic eye. You could work in promotions if you wanted to.” Asami nodded to a particular drawing that showed a Future Industries airship flying over Republic City at sunset.
“Benefits of taking art classes in college.” Korra leaned forward and tapped a drawing of an airplane. “This one here is my favorite. I hope it’ll be my next project.”
The plane was quite different from the ones Future Industries was building at the moment. For one it wasn’t a biplane, it had an enclosed cockpit and its designs was much more sleek.
“I call it the Spitfire,” said Korra with a grin.
“I think its great,” said Asami, “I would definitely love to see it fly. Why the name Spitfire though?”
“Well its something I’ve been labeled around here and at home so why not embrace it?” Korra says while showing off that grin again that Asami was pretty sure she was falling in love with.
“So, are you a pilot yourself? You seem to know how to handle machines just as well as you do designing as evidence by your win at the auto race in Omashu.”
Korra chuckled. “Oh well that’s very kind of you to say. I’m actually taking lessons right now with one of the test pilots, Naoki. So far I know how to take off but not to land.”
“That’s kind of an important step.” The two women shared a laugh over that and some of the nervousness felt by both diminished a bit. “So my father is really pushing forward with this plane division?”
“Oh he is. Of course he had to do quite a bit of persuading to get people to sign up to be test pilots. He managed to pull some men from his airship crews with the promise of a higher salary. Anyway, hopefully when I’m done with this,” said Korra gesturing towards the work-in-progress Satomobile, “I’ll be able to transfer over to aviation.”
“Well,” said Asami leaning up against the workbench, “I can always persuade my father to transfer you.”
Korra looked at her surprised before bowing her head. “Oh that’s very nice of you Ms. Sat—Asami. But being the Avatar you really shouldn’t worry about a mere humble engineer.”
“Oh,” said Asami softly with a big smirk on her face, “Are you so humble?”
Korra looked up with a cocky grin. “Very much so. I so rarely polish all the awards I’ve won.”
“I bet they’re even sitting in an old shoe box,” said Asami although she didn’t know how she managed to keep with the playful banter since the combination of Korra’s blue eyes and lopsided grin were destroying her. “But seriously,” she said standing up straight, “it really wouldn’t be a problem. Besides at least I’d being doing something useful around here.”
“Oh come now,” said Korra walking over to the adjacent wall to retrieve a dog leash from a hook. Naga immediately went over to her, tail wagging. “We know more about this creep Amon thanks to you and Mako.”
“Our esteemed chief of police doesn’t—“
“Oh forget her,” said Korra attaching the lease to Naga’s collar, “The Avatar is tasked with bringing balance to the world. You can’t let one chief of police prevent you from doing your job. You’re going to have to deal world leaders. She’s small fry in comparison.”
“She’s quite intimidating though.”
Korra grinned. “You should see my Dad when I brought home my first boyfriend.”
Hiang’s noodle shop was located only a few blocks from Future Industries Tower. The lunch crowd had already come and gone so Korra and Asami were only one of a handful customers sitting outside in the shade of the building’s awning. Naga lay on her side asleep, a bowl of water only a few feet away from her.
Things seemed to alternate between calm and awkward as the two struggled to come up with topics of conversation to keep the conversation going. It was easier when the food arrived as they took the time to eat but also it opened a new topic of conversation. Asami talked about all the interesting foods she tasted in her travels while Korra noted that almost all of them could be found in Republic City.
Both women tried their hardest not to stare at one another too long and would pull their gaze away to look at a passing streetcar and glance up at the sky as if something interesting was going on up there.
During the course of their meal Korra had found something else besides the Avatar’s emerald eyes and flowing hair, which was tied up in a ponytail today, to focus on and that was her muscles that were clearly outlined even under her tunic and arm wraps. Korra noted her own slim arms and was beginning to regret she didn’t hit the gym as often as she promised herself.
Asami was still entranced by Korra’s eyes even in the dim light. She also noticed the little mannerisms Korra would do such as tuck a stand of hair behind her eye, which actually made Asami bite her lip (she was quick to recover by popping a dumpling into her mouth), or fiddling with a bracelet that had a little charm on it that had the Water Tribe symbol carved on it.
“You know I think we have a mutual friend,” said Korra swallowing her noodles.
Asami sat up in her chair. “Yes! She was my first instructor. Well actually my second since technically my first was my Earthbending instructor. But Katara was the first one who taught me after I left home. I’m thankful for it now as I don’t think I could have handled my firebending teacher at that time. It was my first time away from home and from Dad. Katara really make me comfortable and was really one of the few members of the White Lotus who actually treated me like a human being. Everyone else only saw me as the Avatar and the only positive interaction I had with them was when I was doing something right.”
“What about Councilman Tenzin,” said Korra pouring tea into her cup.
Asami sighed and leaned on the table. “He’s coming around. When he’s teaching me I’m the Avatar and when we’re just talking about something unrelated, which is rare, I feel he’s actually addressing me…if that makes any sense.”
“Makes perfect sense.” Korra stirred her tea and lifted it to take a sip.
“So are you a waterbender?”
Korra froze for a second before taking a sip and placing her cup on the table. “No,” she said softly, “I wanted to be though. The day Katara told me straight that any bending ability I had would’ve resonated by then. I was eight or nine at the time.”
The mood became a little somber and Asami was now regretting that question. “That must’ve been tough.” Smooth Sato. Real smooth.
Korra nodded. “It was for a while. I still had my parents’ love, which is always important. There were plenty of others who were nonbenders that had managed to get on just fine. But…I felt like I was destined for more. I didn’t want to spend my life pulling fishnets out of the sea or crafting tables or whatever. I wanted more than that. Being a waterbender would’ve opened up so many more opportunities. At the very least I could’ve been a healer and helped people.” Korra’s fingers were slowly rotating the teacup around in its saucer. “Anyway, it wasn’t the life that I was destined for.”
Asami leaned forward in her chair. “Korra I’m sorry for bringing this—“
Korra held up her hand and shook her head. “No, no its fine. I’ve made peace with it a while ago. I was lost for a while but then I discovered I had this…knack for building things. My Mom got my involved in a craft shop. At first I was opposed to it. In fact I would just sit in the corner fuming. The woman who ran the workshop was incredibly patient and didn’t push me or anything. She said that if I wanted to participate or not was my choice. First day I did absolutely nothing. Just sat there until my Mom picked me up.”
“Quite committed weren’t you?”
“Damn right,” said Korra with a grin. “I was even more furious when my Mom said I would go back the next day.”
“I don’t want to go back,” whined Korra as she sat at the kitchen table, barely eating her dinner.
“Sweetie, you didn’t even give it a chance,” said Senna gently, “How can you know you don’t like it if you don’t give it a try?”
“Because I’ll fail at it that’s why,” yelled Korra who trying to hold back the tears that were starting to form in her eyes.
“You don’t know that for certain sweetheart,” said Tonraq, also gentle but a bit firmer in his tone.
“Oh yes I do,” said Korra stabbing at her vegetables and shoving them into her mouth, “What am I supposed to learn? How to make little trinkets for tourists to buy? Oh yeah. How’s that suppose to look?” She pointed her fork at her father. “Tribal leader.” She turned it towards her mother. “Healer.” Towards herself. “Seller of worthless junk.”
“Korra,” said Senna, “You shouldn’t have to hold yourself to your father or I. We just want you to do something that makes you happy.”
Korra slammed her fork onto the table. “There’s only one thing that would make me happy and I can’t do it!” No matter how hard she tried to hold back her tears they were soon welling up in her eyes and spilling over onto her cheek and tunic. “Do you know how hard it is? Watching you two work with water. Hearing Katara’s stories. Then when it’s my turn, nope! Sorry! You don’t get bending abilities by little Nastiq across the way whose constantly getting his tongue stuck to something gets it!”
Korra crossed her arms and put on her infamous pout. She did this to insure she didn’t fling her plate across the room. Tonraq and Senna exchanged worried glances. Many nights they had stayed up and talked about Korra. After her visit with Katara, Korra would often cry herself to sleep with her parents at her bedside. Sometimes they would wake at the sound of their daughter’s quiet sobbing. Nowadays Korra kept to herself, rarely engaging with any of her friends or anyone else.
Even Katara couldn’t get through to her. She stopped by a few weeks after that visit with an offer to spend an afternoon with her and Korra turned her down, retreating to her room to sulk.
“I hate this,” said Korra closing her eyes, “I hate being worthless.”
This got her parents out of their chairs and to her side.
“You’re not worthless sweetie,” said Senna kissing her daughter’s cheek and wiping her tears away.
“You need to give it some time Korra,” said Tonraq, “You will find something that will grab your interest and become your passion.”
“I’m not going to find it making stupid chairs or foot stools,” said Korra with a sniff.
“Building a chair is just the first step,” said Senna softly. “You might build bigger things one day.”
“Yeah,” sniffed Korra, running her arm under to nose to wipe it, “a dresser.” Tonraq couldn’t help but chuckle despite the glare from his wife. “You might as well just put me on a block of ice and send me out to sea.”
“Korra we’ve never done that,” said Tonraq chuckling, “That’s just a myth. Besides why would we? We’d be wasting good food.” Tonraq laughed harder as he got a chuckle out of Korra and earned a slap on the arm from Senna.
As the laughter died down so did Korra’s tears. “I don’t want to be like this. I just want to be good at something.”
The tight embrace from both her parents did settle her but the question remained unanswered and Korra dreaded the day when she’d received it.
“So you went back,” asked Asami.
Korra nodded. “I did. I went in with a better attitude. Still didn’t think it would lead anywhere. But it got me out of the house and doing something. Anyway to make a long story short I got better and better at it. When it came to electronics I didn’t understand a thing so I set myself to learning about it. I found myself in need as there weren’t any electrical repairmen in the Southern Water Tribe and I was the only one who had the knowledge to fiddle around with wires and not electrocute myself. Then came vehicles, namely snowplows. Not to mention I built gadgets of my own. Nothing ground breaking but it was something. Enough for my parents to decide to get me into a technical university here.”
“Was it difficult making the move?”
“Very. I stayed with ‘friends’ of my father’s. A couple. They owned this apartment uptown along with their two sons and the wife’s mother. Things were okay at first but as I progressed through college living with them began to become a pain. They’d never save any of their food for me as I arrived home late from classes and I’d get the stink eye for taking just a piece of bread from their pantry. I was ‘stealing food from the young children’s mouths’,” said Korra with a roll of her eyes.
“They actually said that?”
“Not an exact quote but something along those lines. Two times I was threatened with being kicked out but a phone conversation with my Dad prevented that from happening. I don’t know exactly what was said but I would not have liked being on the receiving end of that conversation. But we did eventually part ways thanks to the Noggs here,” she said leaning down to rub Naga’s side. “A friend and classmate of mine convinced me that having a pet would improve my life. I disagreed saying that it would only cause more stress but she keep listing all the emotional benefits of having a pet so I gave up and went to a local animal shelter with her. I was thinking about getting a cat or rabbit, something that could manage being on its own while I was at class but then as I walking down this corridor with cages on either side of me I spotted this small ball of white fluff lying on the floor. I bent down for a closer look and it moved and then I see three black dots: two eyes and a nose.” Korra smiled and looked down at her canine companion. “It was over after that. No matter what she was leaving with me. I found out while filling out the paperwork that it was her last day to be adopted so there was no way I was leaving her there.”
“I can’t imagine that went over with the family you were boarding with.”
Korra shook her head. “Nope. They weren’t having her in the house so I left.”
Asami raised her eyebrows. “You left?” Korra nodded. “So where did you go?”
“I stayed with my friend. Crashed on her couch. I didn’t have much at the time so making the move was easy. Once I got the job at Future Industries I was able to afford a small apartment for a short while. Then your father gave me a shot at being on his Satomobile design team and well here I am.”
“Where are you living now? Same place?”
“No, once I got a salary raise after some of my designs were accepted, I got a new place.” Korra finished off the rest of her tea. “But we’ve gotten off track. Katara.”
“Oh right,” said Asami with a sheepish smile, “Sorry about that.”
“No you wanted to know more about me and I provided a cliff notes version of it. Anyway, I remained very good friends with Katara. I helped out her often with things around her healing hut or pestered her to tell me stories of her adventures with Aang and Team Avatar. Until one day,” said Korra sitting back in her chair, “I approached the healing hut and a White Lotus soldier told me to buzz off.” Asami looked confused. “Also Katara was making a lot of trips up to the White Lotus compound, the reason she couldn’t tell me.”
“Ah,” said Asami as she got what Korra was referring to.
“Yep. We almost met. But your bodyguards shooed me away.”
Asami smiled as raised her teacup. “But you have to admit some of them were kinda cute.”
Korra laughed. “I didn’t know you went for the balding gray haired ones.”
Asami frowned. She placed her teacup back on the table and threw her napkin at her. “You know the ones I meant!”
Korra leaned her elbows on the table and continued laughing. “Pema better watch out. She’s got competition.”
“Stop,” said Asami, who herself was laughing too but it was more that she found the sight of Korra laughing endearing. “Besides Tenzin doesn’t have gray hair.”
“Oh well,” said Korra as she tossed the napkin Asami had thrown at her onto the table, “I guess Pema doesn’t have anything to worry about.”
The two continued laughing. Naga whined and tried to bury her head between her paws in an effort to drown out the noise. Her attention was suddenly attracted to something small and familiar that was quickly approaching the table.
Korra and Asami were caught off guard when something small and orange leapt onto the table, knocking over teacups and rattling silverware.
“Pabu,” said Korra with a shake of her head, leaning forward to pick up the troublesome creature before it made for their food.
“Hi Bolin,” said Asami, turning in her seat towards the young earthbender who had just exited the shop holding a large brown paper bag in his hands and was staring at the two women with wide eyes.
“…H-H-Hi uhh…Asami…Korra,” stuttered Bolin, “Ah! Korra. I see you managed to snag a hold of Pabu.” Bolin held the bag under one arm and extended the other out towards the troublesome ferret. “Come on Pabu. Let’s leave Asami and Korra alone.” Pabu leapt from Korra’s hands onto Bolin’s arm, scurrying upwards to its favorite spot, perched on Bolin’s shoulder.
“Do you want to join us,” asked Asami.
“Oh no I got to get back,” Bolin said, lifting the bag, “Mako’s waiting for me and you know how he is…So…See you later!” With that Bolin turned and walked away, his pace quickening as he made his way down the block.
“Well,” said Korra fixing the things on the table that Pabu had knocked over, “got my awkward Bolin moment of the day out of the way.”
Asami turned to her. “What was up with him?”
Korra let out a snort. “If I had a yuan every time someone asked that in regards to Bolin…or Mako for that matter.”
The airfield owned and operated by Future Industries sat atop a mountain range a couple miles north of the city. There were five buildings on property that included a control tower, two very large hangars for airships and two smaller hangars for planes with additional hangars being planned. The transition from Satomobiles to aircraft had been a swift one as Future Industries had been given the contract to update the Republic City Police Department’s fleet of airships, beating out their competitors namely Cabbage Corp. The move to airplanes was largely seen as a no-brainer given Future Industries’ reputation for branching into other areas beyond cars and home appliances.
After her lunch with Asami, Korra had briefly returned to the workshop but had been so distracted by various thoughts, all related to the Avatar, that she decided to give the engine a test forgetting about the small part that broken off and fallen into the innards of the machine. The stutter of the engine and a loud clanking sound reminded her of that and she quickly shut the engine off.
She decided that she’d deal with it another time and decided to take Naga for a ride.
Being in a high position had its perks. One of them was having the choice of any vehicle to take out for a bit given it be returned in pristine order. She took one of the motorcycles with a sidecar, strapped Naga into the passenger seat and decided a nice drive out of the city would be good.
Arriving at the airfield she sought out the company’s best pilot Naoki who was fiddling about with the engine of his plane.
“How’s the skies Naoki?”
The pilot turned to see Korra followed by Naga approach him. “I’ve had about enough of it these days.”
“Then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong business,” said Korra with a smirk.
“Maybe I am. I’m not getting any younger spending all my time up here on this mountain teaching some kids with one foot in their graves on how to fly aircraft worth millions. I could be down there in the city, enjoying the nightlife, finding companionship.”
“You won’t find companionship with that mustache,” said Korra walking past him to inspect his plane.
Naoki leaned down to pet Naga. “Oh come on Korra. Don’t you think I look like a famous mover star?”
“Yeah, the one who ties the woman to the railroad tracks.”
“You’re hilarious Korra,” deadpanned Naoki. “But I’m serious. Just when I’m getting the guys settled in and not crashing their planes, I have this whole new group come in recently.”
Korra turned to face him. “New pilots?”
“Yeah, in the last month or so. That’s why I’m so busy nowadays.”
“Well, can’t complain about being short staffed,” said Korra who turned back to the plane, standing on her toes to get a look into the cockpit.
“Yeah well I had enough to deal with the original group. Besides these new guys…I don’t know. They feel off to me.”
“Off how,” asked Korra, “By the way, did you get the pedals fixed?”
“Yeah last week.” Naoki sat down on a nearby crate, Naga following him so he could continue petting her. “Their attitude. I mean right off the bat they want to know the general basics of the controls. I told them that comes later, first they need to kow the internal workings of the plane. One guy actually snapped at me! He told that was the mechanics job not his.”
“So what did you say?”
Naoki grinned. “Well I told him that a good pilot knows when his plane is working or not by feel and sound. If one has a problem up in the air they have to make a guess on what it could be and know how to counteract the problem. I told him I’m not running a flight school here. We’re here to test new types of aircraft and that in itself is a dangerous job. He continued to express his displeasure with the way I run things so I kicked him out.”
“Good for you.”
“Yeah. For a while. Then the boss calls me.”
Korra raised an eyebrow. “Hiroshi?” Naoki nodded. “And?”
“He asked me why I fired one of the new pilots, citing the lack of applicants for the job and our current small crew. ‘We need all the pilots we can get,’ he says. So I told that I run things my way in order to ensure the safety of my pilots and the ground crew. He understood and he actually came out to talk to the new guys and explained to them how things run out here.” Naoki shook his head. “Still, strange lot they are. Especially that guy I fired. If you want to make a crack at someone’s mustache, he had the most bizarre one of all.”
“Well, he’s not here anymore so I guess I’ll settle for you,” said Korra climbing into the co-pilot seat, “Okay Naoki. Enough chit-chat. Let’s go.”
“You serious? I got all this other stuff to do.”
“So do I,” said Korra fastening her helmet, “but its nice to get away from earthly matters for a bit.”
Naoki sighed and stood up. “Alright.” He gave Naga a pat on the head. “We’ll right back girl.”
Naga made herself comfortable on the grass as Naoki prepped the plane and minutes later was taxiing down the runway.
“Have a good day?”
Asami jumped and nearly stumbled on the steps outside the pro-bending arena. She turned to the source of the voice and saw a familiar face standing under the gazebo.
“Mako,” growled Asami, “Are you trying to give me a heart attack? What are you doing creeping in the dark?”
“I wasn’t creeping,” he said walking towards her, “I was in plain sight and you didn’t notice me. So how was your day?”
Asami frowned at him. “Well clearly I did something to annoy you by your tone of voice.”
Mako narrowed his eyes. “I don’t have a tone!”
“Oh right. That’s how you always sound.” Asami turned away and headed up the steps.
“So Bolin told me you and Korra have been hanging out lately.”
Bolin. I should’ve known. Asami reached the top step and turned once again to face firebender. “I guess. I visited her at her workshop today. You know the one in the building that my family owns?”
Mako rolled his eyes. “Yes I know.”
“I was visiting Dad and I figured I’d stop by and see what projects she was working on.” This was only partially true. She did run into her father when visiting Future Industries Tower but it was Korra she had specifically had gone there to see. “I was going to lunch afterwards after a busy morning so I asked her to tag along. Satisfied?”
“Why are you so interested in Korra all of the sudden?”
“Ah you see,” said Asami, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “this maybe difficult for someone as anti-social as you but there’s something called a ‘friend’ and in order to obtain a ‘friend’ you have to spe—“
“I get it Asami,” said Mako who was getting more annoyed by the second.
“So get to your point counselor.”
Mako raised a finger. “I…” He closed his mouth and his eyes looked around, any place but her, mentally trying to piece together whatever argument he was going to make. “Look,” he said with a frustrated sigh, lowering his hand, “we have a big competition coming up and we should really be focusing on—“
“Excuse me,” said Asami, now quite pissed at her team mate’s behavior, “I’ve showed up at every practice, bright and early, ready to go for the past couple weeks. What I do outside the arena is frankly none of your business.” She decided then that she had enough for one night and turned away from the arena doors and starting back towards the city.
“Oh so because you’re walking away, the argument is over with?”
“It wasn’t an argument to begin with you idiot,” spat Asami, “Be honest with me, why are you so bugged about me spending time with Korra and getting to know her? How come you didn’t mention her before?”
Mako crossed his arms. “Like you said, how I spend my life outside the arena is none of your business.”
Asami gave him a glare. “Night Mako.”
Even though Asami could easily bend her back to Air Temple Island, she decided to walk to the closest ferry terminal. She needed the time to be alone as well as to calm down.
She was unaware that in the darkness of a nearby alleyway two sets of eyes were watching her.
“We could take her now. There’s no one around.”
“No. She is not to harmed. That was the deal.”
“She’s already exposed us. She blabbed to the cops about the rally.”
“And look at what good it has done. The city is trembling with fear and Councilman Tarrlok is getting ready to lead a crusade against us. She merely expedited the evitable.”
“But she can cause big problems down the way.”
“We wait for now. In due time she’ll know the truth and perhaps she can be persuaded to join us.”
“And if not?”
“Then she’ll be dealt with.”