A feeling of dread was slowly starting to settle over Mako as he observed his team practice, particularly their waterbender who, despite being the Avatar and having mastered the element of water, was still struggling. Asami clearly knew the forms and could expertly defend herself but she struggled with offensive moves. Mako didn’t know whether this was due to Asami being timid with her role on the team or being distracted by other matters, namely learning airbending from Tenzin, who graciously allowed them to practice on the training grounds on Air Temple Island, and dealing with Amon and the Equalists. Watching the Avatar struggle and get increasingly frustrated was not easing any of the anxiety that Mako was feeling going into the match.
Asami Sato’s probending debut and subsequent matches had been a trial by fire. As noted earlier Asami excelled at defensive maneuvers but struggled when it came to offense. She also often got the team in trouble with the referee as she tended to use more than one element just out of instinct. Despite a rocky start Asami quickly became popular with the fans aside from perhaps the small number of Hasook fans who remained bitter about the change up in the team line-ip. Any hope on Asami’s part of escaping her identity as the Avatar as a participant of the game were quickly dashed as when the Fire Ferrets were playing she was the main focus of attention. She knew that it annoyed Mako and Fire Ferret fans pairing him with Asami probably annoyed him further. Asami was quite surprised when she found a drawing of herself and Bolin getting married amongst the fan mail they had received following their fifth match and was further surprised to learn that these fans often got into heated debates with one another regarding this subject. Asami was also surprised that Korra didn’t come up in these ‘discussions.’ When she did Asami was angered that despite Korra’s talent, to the Fire Ferrets fans she was merely Mako’s ‘squeeze.’
One of the downsides of being involved in probending were the people who sought her out namely sports journalists, managers, potential sponsors. But the one Asami really dreaded was one man in particular who approached the trio in a restaurant following a match and who the team would be facing tomorrow night: Tahno of the Wolf Bats. Asami felt immediately unease when he approached her. She wasn’t sure it was his physical appearance, his voice or the overall manner in which he carried himself.
Asami concluded it was a combination of all three.
“Let’s take a break,” said Asami panting.
“I could take one too,” said Bolin, equally tired. He was already starting to unfasten his training armor.
“You can take breaks all you want after we win the tournament,” said Mako pointedly. Asami and Bolin sighed. They knew that it was pointless to argue the point.
“Yeah,” yelled Meelo who along with his sisters sat watching the trio practice, “You tell them Mako! I’ve never seen such a sorry bunch.”
“I don’t know what is worse,” said Bolin adjusting his armor, “Being worked to exhaustion or taking abuse from a seven year old.”
“Well he’s right,” said Mako, “and as for you,” he said turning towards Asami. Asami gave him a warning glare but it didn’t sink in. “How about a little Avatar power here? I thought you had mastered water.” He walked over to this bench to get some water from a thermos. He lifted the thermos and all of the sudden the water shot upward out of the cup and into Mako’s face. He turned to Asami wearing his familiar scowl.
“Just be glad I didn’t turn the water into ice.”
Meelo broke in with an important announcement: “DOG!”
Ikki and Jinora immediately sprang to their feet and the Fire Ferrets turned their attention to the white fury object that was quickly making its way toward the group. The canine looked at each person, trying to determine who was the best too approach first for affection. She settled on Asami.
“Awwww,” chorused the kids as Naga came to a halt in front of Asami.
“Hello Naga,” says Asami taking off her gloves to rub Naga’s head. She looked up to see Naga’s owner staggering up the steps.
“Why,” wheezed Korra, “Why must there be so many steps?” She sat down on the top step to catch her breath.
Asami couldn’t help but smile. She patted Naga’s side and pointed at the airbender kids who were waiting anxiously to get their turn greeting the canine trespasser. “Go get ‘em Naga.” Naga barked and speed off towards the kids, Pabbu scrambling to his feet to get out of the way. The kids cheered as Naga came to halt in front of them and they attacked her with affection.
Asami walked over to Korra carrying a canteen with her and took in Korra’s dress. She wore her usual black and blue Future Industries coat but underneath she wore a dark blue vest, dark grey pants and brown boots, altogether a more causal attire she had seen her in so far. Although Asami thought that Korra could make anything look good, even a potato sack. Asami then had image of Korra wearing nothing but a potato sack and quickly had to shake the image from her mind.
“Here,” said Asami, handing the canteen to Korra.
“Thanks,” said Korra, unscrewing the cap and taking a big swig. She let out a sigh when she finished. “Oh that’s good.” She looked up at the Avatar and smiled. “Hi.”
Asami felt her cheeks grow warm. “Hi.” They stared at each other for a few seconds. Say something. “Day off?”
Korra nodded. “Yeah. Your father forced me to. Says I needed a break. So I thought I’d stop by.”
Asami offered her hand. “Glad you could make it.” Korra took her hand and she hoistered to her feet. “Mako is in a mood today.”
“When is he not?”
Asami clasped her hands behind back. “I like the getup today,” she said shyly. She suddenly became afraid that Korra would take offense to her using that term to refer to her clothing.
“Oh thanks,” said Korra, “This is what I usually wear on my days off.”
“I like it.” Asami particularly like how Korra’s vest clung to her form and her eyes suddenly focused on the size of Korra’s chest. Stop it. “You okay now?”
Korra nodded. “I need to get into shape. It would be embarrassing to be done in my stairs. Besides,” she bumped her shoulder against Asami’s, “your arms put mine to shame.” Although they weren’t under her probending gear, Korra had taken notice of Asami’s biceps during their previous meetings.
Asami chuckled. “I think you’re selling yourself short.”
“Can we keep her,” interrupted Ikki as the pair rejoined the rest of the group. ‘Her’ referred to Naga who was soaking up the attention and affection.
Korra smiled. “I’m afraid not. She’s my best friend. But I do need someone to look after her when I’m working. If its okay with your parents.”
“It is,” chorused the children, prompting a laugh from Korra and Asami.
“Can we get back to it now,” asked Mako.
Bolin sighed. “I guess.”
Korra and Asami shared a look of exasperation. Asami put her helmet on while Korra walked towards the bench the airbender kids were sitting on. Mako grabbed her arm.
“What are you doing here,” he whispered to her.
“Excuse me,” she asked incredulously.
“We don’t need any distractions.”
Korra opened her mouth but noted the presence of Councilman Tenzin’s children a couple feet away. She leaned in closer. “Look, I get it, okay? You’re nervous about the tournament. But it’s no excuse to treat me and everyone else like garbage.”
“I don’t do that!”
Korra raised an eyebrow at him. “Really?”
Mako crossed his arms. “Yeah, really. This is important.”
“So was preparing the S1 for Omashu and yet I didn’t take it out on you.”
Mako opened his mouth to refute that but after some though he found that couldn’t. “You can stay,” he said with a sigh.
“Oh thank your majesty,” said Korra with a curtsey. She sighed as she joined the children and Naga.
Korra knew Mako was a good guy and could be very sweet but often those moments were few and far between. She had been drawn in by his charm and confidence, not to mention looks, but she discovered that the moody lone wolf personality was the default. She also knew that she wasn’t the first girl Mako had been with since the Fire Ferrets had risen through the ranks and their popularity grew. Slowly she began to realize why his previous relationships didn’t last long. Initially one would chalk up it to the traumatic experience of witnessing his parents’ murder, being homeless on the street, and for time being involved with the triads. But then there was Bolin who was one of the most happy-go-lucky, albeit a little naïve, persons Korra had ever met.
Korra frowned thinking about all this. She felt bad about judging Mako, particularly because his past had shaped who he was, but on the other hand she had colleagues who had terrible upbringings and difficult early adulthood but yet they were the most professional and kind people she had ever met. Her friend Naoki came from a troubled home and suffered from substance abuse throughout his adolescence and early adulthood. She found the ones at the company who gave her the most problems, in terms of questioning her work solely based on her age and gender or flat out ignored her, often came from more prodigious backgrounds. But at least she understood what their reasons were. It mostly came down to ego and Korra encountered that everyday. She acknowledged that she herself had an ego and it has caused her to butt heads with her colleagues but the realization eventually sets in that bickering only causes delays and will hurt the overall product. Hiroshi Sato had been very clear that one thing he would not tolerate was an inferior product.
So Mako remained an enigma. He often deemed himself team leader and the most mature person of the group yet he showed many signs of immaturity.
Just one more day. On one hand she wasn’t looking forward to being single again but on the other she couldn’t quite deal with her boyfriend’s behavior anymore. She was hoping that when the dust clears she could still remain friends with the brothers.
“You’re pretty.” Korra looked around for the source. She looked down to see Tenzin and Pema’s youngest child Meelo, who was perhaps the ugliest child she had ever seen. His face looked like a piece of abstract art. Hopefully in a year or two the rough edges will smooth out.
Meelo held up his hand. “Can I have some of your hair?”
Korra scooted as far away from him as possible. She turned to the older siblings. “Should I be worried about him?”
“He’s mostly harmless,” said Jinora.
“Hi I’m Ikki,” chirped the middle child.
Korra smiled. “Korra.”
Jinora do a proper bow. “Jinora.” Korra returned it.
“I’M MEELO,” shrieked Meelo, which startled Naga. She got up from the ground and rested her head in Korra’s lap.
“Soooo,” said Jinora moving closer to Korra, “Avatar Sato is pretty amazing huh?” Ikki immediately refocused her attention on Jinora and Korra, her glare turning into a amused smile.
“Uhh,” said Korra, legitimately thrown off by the question, “Well, yes, I think she lives up to the title.”
“And she’s soooo pretty,” says Ikki, both sisters now had matching cunning smiles.
“Line,” said Mako. On the ground they had outlined in chalk the boundary lines of the probending ring.
“I was within the line,” shouted Asami.
“You were over!”
“Hogmonkeys!” Asami flung the water she was holding in the air onto the ground.
“Yeah she is,” said Korra. Although she didn’t want to be on the receiving end of the Avatar’s ire, she couldn’t deny that Asami was quite attractive when she was mad.
Jinora and Ikki giggled drawing Korra’s attention and a look of confusion. She brushed it aside and focused on the trio practicing.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon the Fire Ferrets alternative back and forth between being in synch with another to chaotic mess. At one point Asami even vocalized the option of getting a new waterbender to replace her. It got to a point where Korra was expecting to throw in the towel and quit the team. But things began to improve and the practice ended on a high note. The match however was still up in the air and it was clear that any victory against the Wolf Bats was going to be a narrow one rather than a knock out.
“So are you and my father going to be at the game tomorrow,” asked Asami as she walked Korra to the dock with Naga following along. She didn’t know why she was surprised to find a speedboat sporting a Future Industries logo on the side tied up to the dock.
“Of course! Why would we be?”
“Well maybe because you wouldn’t want to see me get my butt kicked and be sent flying out off the game platform.”
“Oh come on,” said Korra bumping her shoulder against Asami’s, “You’re going to wipe the floor with the Wolf Bats.”
“Yeah well they’re more synch with each other despite the personalities of its members.”
“Maybe you need a theme song.” Asami looked at her as if she was nuts. “What? A good theme song can boast your confidence and amp up the adrenaline.”
“Please do not tell Bolin that idea,” warned Asami, “He’ll run with it. It’s bad enough we’re opening with Pabbu doing a performance.”
“Maybe I can cheer for you on the sidelines.” Korra threw her hands into the air and waved them about. “Go Fire Ferrets!” Asami rolled her eyes. “Sami, Sami, Sami!”
“Stop,” said Asami giving Korra a push, trying to hide the smile on her lips.
“Am not,” said Asami not very convincingly as she was laughing as she said it.
Naga ran ahead and jumped into the boat.
“You’ll be fine,” said Korra. Besides there are more pressing things to be worried about. Korra wanted to say this but didn’t. She had lighten Asami’s mood a little bit, she wasn’t going to ruin it but reminding her of Amon’s warning. She herself was worried too but she did feel better than a majority of the Republic Police force was going to be present during the game. She jumped into the bump and united it from the dock. “So, I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Asami nodded. “Yep.”
They exchanged goodbyes and then Korra was off. Asami watched the small boat speed off, heading towards the city. Her gaze turned to the arena across the bay. There was a lot of activity before as the police conducted searches of the facilities and began setting up for tomorrow. Even in the late afternoon sun there was still something foreboding about it.
Asami found herself in the middle of the arena, dark except for a lone spotlight shinning down on her. Her arms and legs were in chains, unable to move. She was surrounded by Equalists, their green goggles glowing in the darkness. In the stands were their supporters, normal citizens who were calling for her blood. A hand suddenly grabbed the back of her neck and she was forced to look up. Standing above her was a tall figure, his body silhouetted by the spotlight above and his face hidden by a mask.
“Poor naïve girl. You too have a mask. You hide behind a title, this idea of power and wisdom. But you’re just a helpless, naïve little girl once your power is stripped away.”
His hand suddenly clamped down on her head. The light above them was now fading and the monsters in the dark were closing in.
“Oh don’t fret Avatar. This won’t hurt.”
Asami tried to move again but found that she couldn’t. She couldn’t breathe and she felt as if she was about to pass out. The feeling was as if all the essence of life within her was being drained from her body.
A voice suddenly broke through the chanting of the crowd, bringing with it a moment of clarity.
Asami’s eyes flew open and she found herself lying on her side on the ground. She sat up and looked around. She was alone. For some reason she felt relieved that no one witness her having a panic attack.
She got to her feet. It took some effort but she managed. The feeling of lightheadedness remained. Her heart was beating to an erratic rhythm and slowly she was started to relive the experince she had in her…
Asami closed her eyes and tried to control her breathing, the same method she used to mediatate. It was difficult to get the images out of her head and what unnerved her further was just how vivid her vision was and how much detail she had managed to remember.
Perhaps it was a premonition of things to come.
Do you want to talk, asked a voice.
Asami shook her head. She closed her eyes. Despite the horrorific nature of her nightmare, the silence she experienced conscious was unbearable. The sooner she fell asleep, the sooner the morning would come.
Despite the Fire Ferrets locker room overlooking the main arena and the opening matches between the new amateur teams that would warm up the crowd could be clearly seen and heard, Asami was too lost in her own thoughts to notice or care. She was still disturbed by the dream she had last night and she been replaying it over and over again thus resulting in little sleep.
She met with Mako and Bolin in the afternoon after two for practice. After recent events and the nightmare she had the previous night Asami was thankful for being part of the Fire Ferrets as it allowed momentary escape. That proved to be only temporary as there had been little to do for the past three hours except wait for their turn in the ring. There had been little conversation amongst the trio. Even Bolin, who was known for his unbounded enthusiasm and optimism, was unsettlingly quiet, sitting alone in a corner of the room fiddling with Pabu’s costume to which the ferret was constantly trying to get out of.
As the current match entered its final round there was a knock at the door. An official stuck his head in.
The trio did a final inspection of their gear before filing out the door, Pabu hitching a ride on Bolin’s shoulder.
By the time they had gotten to the staging area one of the teams, the Kauo City Koalas, were exiting the arena, their defeat apparent due to them being completely drenched.
“You boys enjoy your swim,” remarked Bolin.
The Koalas gave the Ferrets the ugliest of looks.
“Good luck,” said the team captain sarcastically before he and his team trudged down the hall, leaving a trail of water behind them.
“Well,” said Mako turning to his teammates. Asami and Bolin expected a rousing motivational speech. Instead Mako rubbed his neck before awkwardly checking the strap on his helmet.
“We’re going to crush them,” yelled Bolin, “And you,” he said pointing to Asami, “are going to be great! Send that jerk Thano home crying.”
Asami smiled for the first time that day. “Thanks Bo,” she said playfully punching his shoulder.
“Yeah,” said Mako softly, “You’re going to be great. We all are.”
It wasn't the most rousing speech but the effort was appreciated.
Asami turned to see a man running up to the group waving a piece of paper in his hand.
"Message for you ma'am."
"Thank you." Asami unfolded the note and read it.
Best of luck to you and your team. No matter what happens I'll always be proud of you.
Now go get em!
Asami smiled, truly feeling more confident than she had throughout the day.
A green light flashed above the door.
"Ready," asked Mako.
"Ready," said Asami, tucking the note away.
"You know it," bellowed Bolin. Pabu let out loud squeak prompting grins from his teammates. When the door opened they made their way to the lift that would take them up to the platform. Their moods improved significantly. By the time they reached the top and had come into view of the crowds there were grins all around.
"And here they are ladies and gentlemen," announced Shiro Shinobi, "Republic City's very own Fire Ferrets!"
The crowd cheered wildly although there were a scattering of booing. Mako and Bolin, especially Bolin, sucked up the crowd's energy and played to it. Asami gave a polite wave to each corner of the arena but the crowd wasn't her focus. Her attention was drawn to the private boxes. She paused when she saw, against the bright lights, the reflection off a familiar set of bifocals. After a moment of letting her eyes adjust she made out the outline of her father and a woman sitting next to him. It was Korra. Both were applauding.
As the cheering started to die down they could clearly hear Korra's voice from the box.
Asami smiled. Bolin waved. Mako rolled his eyes, which, unbeknownst to him, drew a look of irritation from Asami.
Bolin turned to the team mascot. "Ready Pabu?"
The ferret responded with a squeak and the two launched into the routine they had been practicing for weeks.The act would have impressed many in a street performance but in a large arena it was lost on the crowd who were anxiously awating the introduction of the challenging team.
Asami lookedat Bolin and saw his grin morph into a look of disappointment at the lack of praise and attention to Pabu’s act.
“And introducing also from Republic City, please welcome the White Falls Wolfbats!”
The lights in the arena suddenly dimmed. Asami’s heart leapt thinking that Amon was making good on his threat. A spotlight was switched on and three silhouetted figures appeared at the opposite end of the platform.
The figures raised their arms to reveal that they were wings. This was in time to a burst of pyrotechnics and stinging note from a Hammond organ that blared from the P.A. system and shook the arena. The crowd erupted in wild applause. The arena lights came on and the opposing team could clearly be seen. Asami narrowed her eyes. Even from the opposite side of the platform she could make out Tahno’s smug grin.
“Well that was impressive,” said Korra.
“If I had known they were going to do a visual presentation,” said Hiroshi cleaning his glasses, “I would’ve helped.”
“I guess she doesn’t have that Sato showmanship,” said Korra tapping Hiroshi with her elbow.
“Being the Avatar has made her humble, which isn’t a bad thing.” He leaned back in his seat and folded his hands over his stomach. “I remember when she was young and she unveiled a new gadget of hers before an audience of myself, her mother and her stuffed animals. She did a really good impression of me with the broad gestures and manner of speech.” Hiroshi had a nostalgic smile on his face. That disappeared when the match began and Asami immediately took a rock disc to the stomach. Hiroshi sighed. “Yasuko would strangle me if she were alive today for letting Asami take part in this sport.”
Korra noted the tone of distaste in his voice. As far as she could recall Hiroshi hadn’t voice any objection or criticism in regards to probending before although seeing your daughter take part in a competitive sport that involved throwing fire balls at one another and the losing team is sent tumbling down sixty feet to a pool of water, Korra could understand Hiroshi’s attitude towards the game.
"Off to a great start," Asami heard Mako mutter as he blocked an incoming attack as Asami adjusted her helmet.
With an angry huff she ran forward in front of Mako and shot forward a blast of water that stopped the next rock disc in mid air and sent it back towards its point of origin, namely the Wolfbats' Earthbender. It hit him right in the chest and sent him tumbling backwards.
Asami kept her eyes locked forward and fended off a blast of fire sent her and Mako's way. "I agree," she said.
The Fire Ferrets managed to survive the first round. When a one-on-one with Tahno, Asami promptly knocked him back with a powerful jet of water.
"At least she's got the physicality to back up that mouth of hers," remarked the Chief of Police. Tenzin, standing next to her as they observed the game below them, let out sigh. He noted that the gesture was practically his trademark.
“I know you two aren’t exactly friends.” Lin scoffed at that. “But you know things would be a lot easier if you would at least be civil to her.”
“Why,” she asked with a huff, “She comes into twon all high and mighty, bringing destrction in her wake, taking the law into her own her hands…”
“Sounds like someone I know. I seem to remember you sending a bicycle thief flying when you were twelve or so. I’d like to also add that your mother wasn't alone in her fight against crime in this city."
"She may have needed let but I don't," muttered Lin.
"All I'm asking is that you extend some courtesy to my fathers successor," he leaned against the rail, "I see little bits of him in her. It's not immediately obvious but it's there if you look."
Lin let out a long sigh. Tenzin was always good at emotional manipulation. "Alright. I'll lighten up...a little. After all she did give us our best lead yet on the Equalists."
"Speaking of which--"
Lin elbowed him in the side. "Don't jinx it," she said with a slight smile.
Hiroshi got up from his chair. "I need to use the washroom. Do you need anything from the concession stand?"
Korra, sitting on the edge of her seat and intently watching the game, absently shook her head.
The second round did not go well as the Wolfbats began to resort to dirty tactics. This was evident when a ball of water hit Bolin with a rock inside it, nearly sending him off the side. Mako turned to the referee for a call but the ref acted like he didn’t see it.
“Time,” shouted Mako. Both teams ceased play as Mako addressed the ref. Asami couldn’t hear what Mako was hearing but she did hear him when the referee shook his head. “You can not be serious! We all saw it! Everyone in this arena saw it!” He pointed to the crowd who were beginning to boo the Wolfbats. The opposing team couldn’t care less.
“Come on pretty boy,” taunted Tahno, “Don’t throw a tantrum because your team’s losing.”
Mako ignored him. The referee blew his whistle. “Resume play.”
“I want a game official out here now,” yelled Mako.
The referee didn’t budge. “Resume play,” he repeated.
The Fire Ferrets collectively shook their heads and resumed play. Pushed back to the final section of the platform they need to up their defense.
“What’s the play,” yelled Bolin for as soon as they were back into position the Wolfbats starting unleasing a barrage of water, earth and fire. “We can’t keep this up.”
“How about a little steam,” asked Asami.
“What are you-WOAH,” Bolin ducked from an incoming earth disk that was on fire. Normally that would call for an immediate disqualification and the offenders would be suspended or possibly banned. But the Wolfbats or their manager must’ve paid the game officials a lot of money to ensure they won this game. In the stands fans were starting to chuck items at the Wolfbats but the distance was too great that most of what they threw ended up in the pool below. “What are you thinking?”
“A blast of water and fire at their feet, distract them long enough for an offensive push.”
“We can’t combine elements!”
“We’re not. We just so happened to hit the same spot.”
Bolin moved towards the edge drawing fire. “Whatever you’re going to do, do it now!”
Waiting for an opening Asami and Mako together shot forward a powerful stream of water and fire going from right to left. The plan worked. The wall of steam produced by this move wasn’t much for it immediately began to dissipate but it was so sudden that it distracted the Wolfbats’ fire and earthbender long enough for Asami, Mako and Bolin to launch a full offensive which knocked the Wolfbats to the edge of the platform.
Now that they were on equal footing the Fire Ferrets didn’t hold back, hitting the Wolfbats with everything they had while their opponents were to struggling to stay on their feet.
But Tahno and the Wolfbats weren’t going down that easy. What followed was intense back and forth between the two teams. The crowd was going nuts and Shiro Shinobi’s commentary was reduced to rapidfire gibberish.
“The action here is unbelievable ladies and gentlemen!”
The Wolfbats’ Earthbender was the first to fall off the platform thanks to a blast of fire from Mako. Asami used this opportunity to go after Tahno but one a jet of water came at Asami’s head so fast her head was knocked back. Asami quickly maneuvered for a shot unaware that Mako was coming from the other direction. The two collided into each other and the Wolfbats didn’t let this opportunity pass and, despite Bolin’s best efforts to cover his teammates, a blast of water and fire sent Asami and Mako off the platform.
Asami felt herself go numb when she hit the water. After all that work and practice it was clear that the Wolfbats were going to win. Losing a championship probending match didn’t fare well for her public image. Afterall how could the Avatar handle threats, manmade and spiritual, if she couldn’t win a match using one element.
Asami let herself sink. She didn’t want to imagine what her father would say to her after this. Would he give her an ‘I told you so’ lecture or a sympathetic pat on the back and an offer of ice cream. ‘You did your best and that’s what counts.’ Unfortunately that excuse didn’t apply to her line of work.
Then there was Tenzin. It was very much like having two dads. Maybe she would get both the lecture from one and sympathy from the other.
And what about Mako and Bolin? For Asami probending was an opportunity for sharpening her bending. Not much was at stake apart from her public image and ego. But for Mako and Bolin probending was a means of survival. It provided them with shelter and a limited income. Winning this championship was way improving their status in life. The prize money would’ve been more then they had ever won before not to mention the sponsorship deals. Instead the Wolfbats, who cheated their way to victory, were going to be on the cover of cereal boxes.
I just ruined all of that. I have to make it up to them. Maybe Dad can give them work. I could loan them some money. Mako probably wouldn’t like that but—
A hand grabbed her arm and yanked her to the surface. Asami hadn’t opened her eyes yet and already Mako was yelling at her.
“What was that!?”
“I didn’t see you,” grumbled Asami, spitting water.
“No of course not,” he said in that snarky tone which Asami equated to the sound of nails on a chalkboard. “You were too busy in your vendetta against Tahno to pay attention to what’s around you.”
He took off his helmet to get splashed in the face with water but an angry Asami.
“Spare the lecture! Besides it’s not over yet. Bolin might pull through.”
No sooner did the words leave her mouth that a shadow passed over her and Mako accompanied by a scream was Bolin plummented into the water. Seconds later he emerged.
“Aw man,” he said dejectedly.
“Come on,” grunted Mako.
Above them the crowd cheered and booed as the Wolfbats were announced as the winners of the probending championship.
Asami was wondering if they could challenge the decision, since it was clear there was cheating involved on the part of the Wolfbats, when the lights in the arena suddenly shut off. The crowd lapsed into silence as they sat in darkness, the only source of illumination being emergency exit signs and the lights illuminating the pool.
The silence was broken by a crackle of electricity. Asami thought there must’ve been a power failure as she saw flashes of blue in the stands. The horrified screams and cries told her this wasn’t a technical problem.
“We have to get up there,” she said moving towards the ladder. She was about to reach out for it when she saw a figure appear above her in the darkness. She froze as the bright green eyes that had haunted her dreams leered down at her. The figure held a circular rod in his hands. Asami was already bending the water from the pool but before she could bend it at her attacker the rod-shaped device was activated and bolts of electricity shot out toward the water. Asami screamed as searing pain shot up through her fingers, through her hand and up her arm. This combined with electric shocks rising up from her legs into her abdomen Asami’s couldn’t withstand the intense pain and she quickly succumbed.
“Folks we seem to be…uhh…experiencing technical difficulties…we’re going to go to a commercial break…we’ll return shortly…I hope.”
Korra was on her feet, gripping the edge of the viewing box, looking around anxiously as she saw electric discharges going off in the crowd. She could see a police attempt to fight off an unseen assailant before getting hit by an electric shock. She looked down to the pool for any sign of Asami, Mako and Bolin but they were nowhere to be seen.
The door behind her was suddenly kicked in and for the first time Korra saw an Eqaulist. The figure stood there silently before stalking towards her, raising its hand revealing an apparatus strapped to it. By some unseen motion the device came to life and as if giving a preview the glove left off some electrical discharges. Instead of striking fear into Korra, which was the Equalist soldier’s goal, she was instead facisinated by it. She got a closer look at when the Equalist lunged towards her. She dodged the attack and delievered a powerful punch her opponents face. The Equalist stumbled backwards, Korra gripped its right arm tight to keep herself from getting shocked and she kicked hard at the shin. Her attacker fell to his knees and another punch to the face knocked him to the floor. Her hand was burning and she could see bruises starting to form. She removed the apparatus, which was a glove, and quickly set about tying the Equalist with some curtain rope. An attempt by the Equalist to get back on his feet was met by Korra’s boot striking at his abdomen. There wasn’t a second attempt.
Korra studied the device in her hands. It was dark brown glove with various wires, switches and gauges attached to it. She slipped it on and could immediately feel the vibration of the device’s motor. She could feel a trigger in the glove’s thumb. She hooked her thumb around it and was about to squeeze it but she quickly looked at the gauges on the outside of the glove. She lowered the wattage. The previous setting would’ve done someone, namely her if she hadn’t managed to take down her attacker, serious harm. She hesistantly pulled the trigger.
The glove emitted sparks of blue light accompanied by loud crackles of sound. She turned the voltage up a bit. She sequeezed the trigger and bolts of electricrity leap from the glove. All the time her hand didn’t feel a thing. The glove was completely insulated. She turned the setting to a higher setting and the hum of the motor got louder. She slowly squeezed the trigger and bolt of electricity shot from the glove towards the wall leaving a burn mark. Korra was amazed how much power the seemingly simple device had. She immediately set off to find Hiroshi and her friends.
"Asami. Wake up."
It was a hard nudge to her side that made Asami regain full consciousness. Her vision was blurry. She tried to move but couldn't.
"Asami," came the voice again in a whisper but more insistent this time. "We're in big trouble and it's about to get worse if you don't wake up."
She recognized the voice. "Bolin?"
"Oh thank Kyoshi," he sighed with relief.
"What happened," she asked while trying to get her eyes to focus.
"Would love to say we all went out and got drunk and this is all just an awful hangover but we're currently tied up underneath the arena," said Mako.
Asami looked up and saw a dark figure standing close by with its back facing them. That's when it all came back.
"Equalist," she said softly.
"Plus Amon," said Mako, "he's up there now."
Asami could hear a voice booming from above but she couldn't make out what he was saying. It didn't matter since just the sound of his voice made her feel uneasy.
"We have to get out of here."
"I second the motion but they've got us pretty tightly tied up here," said Bolin.
"Can't burn the ropes off without harming myself or you guys."
"Any ideas Asami," asked Bolin.
"Well firstly..." she lifted up her leg and kicked a fireball towards the Equalist, striking him in the back and sending him flying into the pool. "That felt good. Alright let's work together to get out of here."
Korra managed to sneak her way down to the lower levels of the arena. She didn't know how long the charge of the device lasted so she did her best to avoid any Equalists in her path. It took her a while to find the right to the door to the arena. When she did she was greeted by a fist that stopped mere inches from her face.
It was Asami with Mako and Bolin flanking on either side.
"Hello to you too," said Korra has Asami dropped her fighting stance.
"Are you alright," asked Asami.
"Aside from losing my bet that you guys would win tonight, not too bad."
Mako rolled his eyes. "Does the sarcasm ever stop?"
"What's that on your hand," asked Bolin.
"Hm? Oh!" Korra lifted her hand. "An Equalist tried to zap me with this. They took out the cops with it. Ingenious design I have to--"
"Where's my father," asked Asami frantically.
"I don't know. He left to use the restroom before the attack happened and I haven't seen him since."
Asami nodded. "Mako. Bolin. Go with Korra and find Tenzin and my father." She turned and looked up at the arena platform above her. "It's time for me to face this."
When Asami landed on the platform with a blast of water propelling her upwards, Amon was making his exit via the skylight. She could see an airship hovering above the arena. She could see him being repelled upward by a cable, his minions making their leave as well. Tahno and the Wolfbats lay unconscious on the floor.
"Ready for this kid?"
Asami jumped and spin around to see Lin.
"He's alright." Lin looked up towards the skylight. "Think you can make it?"
Asami smiled. "I may need a lift."
Up on the roof the Equalist army was making its retreat as police reinforcements were en route to the arena.
"I bet they weren't expecting that," sneered an Equalist. His comrade laughed.
"You should've seen the look on one of the pigs' face when I zapped him."
"I heard we captured the Avatar."
"I think so. They were supposed to bring her up."
"I haven't seen her. I wonder where--"
The skyline exploded in a ball of fire that shot upwards into the sky. The Equalist airship made a quick evasive action, knocking those on board, including Amon, off their feet. The Equalist leader got to his feet and saw emerging from the smoke the Avatar and Chief Beifong.
"Okay. Plan," asked Asami.
"Take care of the guys here. I'm going after Amon."
There wasn't a moment for discussion as the Equalists who had been knocked off their feet by the explosion were up and closing in. Lin aimed and shot her cable upwards towards the airship. Asami stomped her foot on the ground which sent a shockwave toward the advancing Equalists. This has created large cracks in the roof.
Best stick with fire, she thought and immediately began knocking one Equalist after another with a single heavy blast of fire. She felt something wrap around her arm. It was a chord and the Equalist at the other end of it was advancing towards her with electric prod. Asami yanked the chord, pulling the assailant towards her and hitting him right in face, shattering his goggles.
She felt a sudden jab at her left shoulder and felt it go numb. She spun around at her attacker. The chord that was still wrapped around her left arm pulled her downwards as the Equalist she had kicked tumbled to the ground pulling her with him. This aided her as the Equalist next jab at her missed allowing Asami to blast him at point blank range and send him flying.
Asami quickly used fire bending to burn through the chord and break free. She saw she wasn't done as the remaining Equalist were slowly approaching, waiting for the right moment to attack.
Meanwhile above her an aerial battle was taking place as Lin was trying to make her way up to rapidly ascending airship but found herself under attack by Equalist sliding down on cables to try and knock her off.
Back on the ground Asami was now in the middle of a fierce battle. While she was able to easily dispatch her earlier opponents, these ones were proving to be difficult. It didn't help they were wielding electric-dispensing weaponry that had a range to them. More disconcerting however was the use of chi blocking. There were two of them and they were fast. If they manage to get one of her limbs she was done for. Her numb shoulder was getting worse and it made fighting with her left arm more and more difficult.
She saw a flash of light and she felt a punch to her stomach followed by a burning sensation. This knocked her back. She looked up and saw a new challenger: a tall, skinny man with a thin mustache wielding two electric prods.
The chi blockers took this moment of distraction to rush and attack, striking her chest, stomach, and right leg.
"FUCK YOU," roared Asami as she head-butted one of them and grabbed the other by the arm as he was making a jab, twisted it and yanked, dislocating the bone. The Equalist howled in pain and crumbled. Asami looked back to her other opponents just in time to see the Thin Man run forward and strike her in the face. The blow sent her stumbling back and before she could recover a powerful kick knocked her off balance and she fell back. She saw smoke and in a panicking moment reached out and grabbed onto whatever she could. Her hands grabbed a piece of metal and she latched onto it. Her feet dangled in the air.
She looked down and saw the arena below. She was hanging onto the remains of the skylight, her muscles on the verge of collapse and the metal burning her hand.
The Thin Man was standing above her. "Your time is over Avatar. The era of bending is over. We won't let people like you stand in the way of new world. An equal world."
"If you think people will let you take their bending away and go quietly afterwards, you are naive," said Asami, hoping her friends might see her predicament and would have her back. "You really think the world is going be sunshine and harmony after your little revolution?"
"Maybe not," said the Thin Man, "but at least it would be equal and the nonbenders will no longer submissive to you. Our brothers and sisters will unite and rise up and end the tertiary of the benders." The Thin Man lifted his foot and brought it down on Asami's fingers.
Her fingers lost their grip on the piece of steel and she plummeted to the ground. The arena swirled around her and she could only close her eyes as she headed right for the arena floor.
She let a sudden gasp as she felt a pull on her leg and her free fall came to an abrupt stop a mere few feet from the floor.
"I got you kid," grunted Lin as she gently lowered Asami down. When she was inches off the ground she let go Asami hit the floor with a slight thud. Lin was immediately beside her. "You okay kid?"
"Can I go back to beating up Triads," asked Asami slowly getting to her feet.
"I'll consider it," said Lin patting Asami on the back.
Lin shook her head. She didn't want to tell the Avatar she called off pursuit of Amon to save her. At least not yet. "We'll get him."
Lin dusted off herself off. "Yeah well Tenzin and I were talking and he told me to ease up on both you and him." The Chief of Police shrugged. "I figured it would be easier to work with you rather than keep you out. Besides you were just going to meddle anyway."
Asami grinned. "An old friend has told me its part of the job."
Lin gave her a questioning look. "And whom might that be?"
"Let's just say he has first hand experience with this sorta thing."
Hiroshi Sato was being helped down one of the corridors by Korra and Mako when Asami spotted them and came rushing forward, Lin trailing behind her. Asami wrapped her arms around her father and hugged him tightly.
The elder Sato hugged her back. "I'm so glad you're okay." He pushed her back a bit to look her over. "You’re okay, right? Those monsters didn't hurt you did they?"
"Nothing serious," assured Asami, "Probably need to rest up a while."
"Then you're coming home with me," said Hiroshi firmly.
"Dad I'm stayi--"
"No 'buts' Asami. You're coming home. You can resume your training with Master Tenzin when you're fully rested."
Asami didn't have much energy to argue with Hiroshi. Instead she just hugged him.
Hiroshi hugged her back.
"What happened to you?"
Hiroshi grimaced. "One of those fiends knocked me out in the lavatory. What kind of world do we live in where a man can't use the restroom in peace?" Asami snickered. "It's not funny Asami."
Asami covered her mouth. "I know." She noticed someone was missing. "Where's Korra?"
"Here I am." Korra appeared from around the corner holding two coats. She handed one to Hiroshi.
"Ah thank you Korra. If it's fine with Chief Beifong I think it's best we be on our way."
Lin just waved. "Yeah sure. This place is going to be a madhouse once the dust settles."
Tenzin approached the group rubbing his head.
Before he could say anything Hiroshi took Asami's hand and said, "Councilman Tenzin, Asami is coming home with me. There will be no discussion."
Tenzin barely had any time to react to this information as Hiroshi was already leaving with an embarrassed Asami and an apologetic looking Korra in tow. “Okay then.” He looked over at Mako and Bolin.
"And what about you two?"
"We live here sir," said Mako.
Tenzin felt his headache getting worse. Lin gave his shoulder a pat.
When she arrived at her apartment after being dropped off by Hiroshi and retrieving Naga from her neighbor, Korra immediately locked her door and closed her curtains. She slowly removed her coat that was still draped on her arm.
Underneath was the Equalist glove she had picked up earlier that evening. She didn't know what compelled her to smuggle the device out of the arena and not turning it over to the police. The only thing she could come up was simple curiosity.
After pacifying Naga with treats she sat at her desk and began her dissection of the strange device.
It was around five in the morning that Korra decided to call it a night. After six hours, multiple cups of coffee and a few burn marks on her desk and wall caused by the device, Korra had only one clue to the glove's origins: a small circuit with a 27B/6 engraved on its side.
There were a number of possibilities floating around Korra's mind to be the possible origin of the glove or rather the manufacturer of it. There was a possibility and it made her sick to even consider it.
"Paranoid," she said to herself. "That's all it is."
But it is possible. Or else would have the know-how and resources to mass-produce such devices?
"Who said it was mass produced? They could've just spent months making them."
Get real. This isn't small time anymore. This is a revolution and they are serious about it.
Korra stumbled into her bedroom and collapsed onto her bed. "If what I'm thinking of is true that means Future Industries as a whole or certain people within the company are in league with a terrorist group."
"Oh shut up," she saws covering her head with a pillow and letting sleep take hold.