Within an hour Asami was back on Air Temple Island, lying in bed and once again staring up at the ceiling, unable to sleep. She had given up on trying to deceive herself into thinking that the events of the passed couple hours was merely an intense nightmare that she was about to awake from.
It seemed like most of her life had been plagued by nightmares. First it was the bizarre dreams of people and events that were unfamiliar to her. Some were pleasant, other terrifying. Soon she would realize these were dreams of Avatars past.
Then there was the night the intruders broke into her home and ongoing emotional and psychological repercussions that resulted. Even during her years of training when she was far away from home in the Southern Water Tribe or in deep in the mountains of the Earth Kingdom she’d be haunted by the death of her mother. In those circumstances there was no one there to comfort her. At most there was a knock on the door from a White Lotus requiring if she was alright.
She never knew how exactly died but the burning smell that she and her father smelt as they entered the house that night led to many horrifying confusions. Years later she was with her Earthbending master and they came across a town that had ravaged by a forest fire that spread. She came across a barn that had caught fire and collapsed. Buried under the rumble were the burnt remains of the animals who had been trapped inside and whose owner was unable to free in time. The stench that assaulted her nostrils brought her back to that night and the images of her mother suffering a similar fate led her to nearly passing out. When they returned to camp Asami declared there would be no training that day. Her Earthbending master, who wasn’t known for compassion, for once didn’t argue.
Now as her body screamed for rest, she shuddered at the thought of dreams would come to her that night.
Thankfully Beifong didn’t keep them at the estate for very long. Amon and her father had managed to escape via an airship that was parked at the test track. Some of the Equalists that Korra had incapacitated had been taken into custody and what was left of the group’s armory had been seized. There wasn’t much left to do.
The entire time they being interview by the police, Asami didn’t make eye contact with anyone. She sat on the running board of Korra’s car and stared at the ground. Naturally Bolin tried to inject some levity and it went over as it usually did. When Tenzin offered to bring Asami back to the island she didn’t hesitate. Surprisingly the offer was extended to Mako and Bolin. This was the second home they had lost in a matter of weeks. When Tenzin offered Korra the same courtesy, Asami and her had a brief moment of eye contact. For a moment Korra had this look of fear on her face, as if Asami didn’t want her to come along. Asami gave her the best smile she could muster to reassure her it was alright.
Korra looked noticeably relieved. She turned to Tenzin and accepted the offer although she needed to return to her apartment and fetch Naga. The last Asami saw of her as Oogi lifted into the air was her driving back to Republic City with two police officers accompanying her.
As they flew back to the city Asami forced herself to look back at large house she had once called home. But truthfully it had ceased being her home years ago.
It was around five in the morning when Korra arrived at Air Temple Island via ferry. She watched from her car as the island slowly came into view. In half an hour it would be dawn and the city behind her was mostly dark save for the small glow of streetlights. The pain in her side had mostly subsided. All she wanted to do was to climb into a bed and sleep for a couple of weeks.
Two police officers had accompanied her to her apartment to retrieve some things including Naga. Her place wasn't safe anymore. She advised her neighbor who looked after Naga to take some vacation time as Republic City was likely to be Ground Zero of an upcoming coup. Surprisingly her neighbor took the information quite well.
"You really believe that," asked one of the officers as Korra drove towards the ferry.
"Of course. Everyone has been underestimating them. The public face of the Equalist movement has been for a while people handing out leaflets on the street. Until recently no one had really seen the more sinister side."
"But do you really think they're capable of overthrowing the United Republic," asked the other officer.
"The Equalists have been supported by the CEO of the most powerful tech company in the world. Same company that also handles military contracts."
The two officers groaned. Naga barked happily. Korra smiled. She was quite envious of her companion. Totally oblivious to the drama and chaos around her.
Over the intercom came the voice of the ferry captain, sounding weary for being up all night and probably approaching the end of his shift.
"Air Temple Island."
Korra managed to get a few of hours sleep. She was awoken by a very loud voice from outside.
Korra rolled out of bed and went to the window, opening it slightly to see Tenzin outside in the courtyard. Tarrlok was there as well.
"Oh come now Tenzin. I merely want to see how the Avatar is feeling and to offer my support."
"How do you think she is," said Tenzin, his voice rising in volume.
"What is going on out here?" The two men turned and saw Pema approaching them, hand on her belly.
"Ma'am," said Tarrlok with a bow.
"Will you two lower your voices, Asami is trying to rest," said Pema firmly, "Councilman Tarrlok I ask you kindly to leave. Asami doesn't want to see anyone at the moment. Good day councilman." With that short and to the point declaring she turned and headed back inside. Korra grinned as she watched Tarrlok look at Tenzin, his shock quickly morphing into the best emotionless expression one could have after being told off by a pregnant woman, nodded and walked away.
Korra ventured into the hallway. In one of the rooms she could hear Bolin snore loudly. How Mako ever got any sleep was a mystery and perhaps a reason why he was so irritable all the time.
She found Asami's room. She knocked softly.
She was about to walk away when a soft voice inside spoke.
Korra slid the door a little. "It's me. I'm sorry to bother you. I was wondering if you wanted Naga to keep company." She was expecting her to say no.
"I would like that. Come here Naga." Naga walked into the room. Korra could hear Naga jump onto the bed. "Hey girl." Korra peeked in to see Asami lying in bed hugging Naga to her, Naga wagging her tail and licking her face.
Korra started to close the door.
"Thank you Korra."
"You're welcome." Korra quietly slid the door shut and went back to her room.
Don’t know why she’s thanking me, she thought, I was the one who ruined everything. She flopped onto the bed and immediately groaned.
“Would it kill Tenzin to get a decent mattress?”
That afternoon Korra poked her head into Tenzin's study. Lin was there along with her second-in-command Saikhan.
Lin noticed Korra standing in the doorway. "Nice work last night kid. Did a real number on them. How's the arm?"
Korra rubbed her right arm. "Sore but thankfully not broken."
"Your theory was correct," said Tenzin.
"I wish it wasn't," said Korra.
"We've seized all Future Industries facilities," said Saikhan, "I think that, combined seizing their armory at the Sato estate, the Equalists are pretty much licked."
"I doubt that sir,” Korra said softly.
Korra nodded. "There's a good chance they've been moving things in and out for months. What you seized was probably only a faction of the weaponry they have at their disposal. It's all probably in a warehouse somewhere. Someplace not owned by Future Industries."
"Pretty dumb move to move it hours after a police search of the premises," said Lin.
"Amon must be getting impatient," said Tenzin stroking his beard.
"We should call in the United Forces." Korra got stares. She was used to it at work. It was one of the reasons Hiroshi took a liking to her. Then again this was not on the performance of a Satomobile. It wasn’t her place to add her opinion in a conversation like this. But then again she already been in two life threatening situations with the Equalists, forced to flee her home and she wasn’t going back to work anytime soon. "What? Don't think this isn't going to end with fighting in the streets. Because it is. Electronic weaponry, mech tanks, airships." She turned to Lin. "Did you secure the airfield?" Lin nodded. "I was up there a month ago. Naoki, one of the test pilots, says there's been a bunch of new recruits to take flying lessons. One of them that he fired I think I bumped into last night. I strongly believe none of my coworkers are Equalists and were in the dark as I was. But there have been new hires over the past year. Trust me when I say it would be very easy to move things around without much suspicion. If anyone questioned them all they had to do was flash a piece of paper and that would be the end of it." Korra paused. "Hiroshi must've known I talked. Who else knows about the Equalist glove I gave you?"
"Not sure," said Lin, "A handful including myself."
"You were probably tailed," said the Deputy Chief.
"Possibly but they would've stopped me before I talked to you."
"You're suggesting there's a spy in our department," asked Lin.
Korra shrugged. "Seems like a good place to have one if a coup was being planned.” Saikhan shifted in comfortably in his chair at the word. “Makes sneaking into a sports arena easy when you know the security."
Lin frowned. "I should head back to the station."
"What about the United Forces?"
"While I agree it would be comforting to have the military on guard, I think it would cause greater panic."
"Panic will only make Amon's job easier," said Saikhan, rising to his feet. “Although I agree with Ms. Korra that if this situation isn’t contained soon we very well need to call in the military.”
After they left Korra walked the island for hours going over the events of the last 48 hours endlessly. It was in her wanderings that Korra found Asami sitting on the beach with Naga sitting beside her.
"Mind if I join you?"
Asami turned. She stared at her for a few moments before nodding. Korra sat beside her. The Avatar looked she hadn't slept very well. Her hair was messily put into a ponytail and her eyelids were barely open.
"Some Avatar huh," asked Asami. She paused, waiting for Korra to respond. She continued when Korra only stared at her. "Aang woke up to find a hundred years had passed and everything he knew and loved was gone. It took me a couple years but I'm in a similar spot except now the only family I have left hates who I am...what I am."
"I know the story," said Korra softly, "Heard it from Katara and Suki. The exaggerated bits from Sokka." This made Asami chuckle. "How many airships did he, Suki and Toph take on?"
"Forty," said Asami with a smile.
"Not bad. It was sixty when he told it to me." Korra stroked Naga's fur. "Aang woke up to find his world changed and his people gone. But he wasn't alone. He had his friends." She looked at Asami. "So do you." Asami raised a brow. "Yeah I know that doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. A tech nerd, the comic relief and the moody Firebender. Actually that's pretty close to the original Team Avatar. But still I think Team Avatar Mark II is willing, ready and able to help take down a masked terrorist from taking over the world."
Asami stared at her before laughing. "You're serious?"
"Hey I lost my job what else am I going to do," asked Korra with a shrug.
"Go to Ember Island and wait for all this to blow over?"
"Where's the fun in that?" Korra grinned as that got a laugh from Asami. "Trust me Asami, with Mako, Bolin and me at your back we'll crush those Equalist losers. Actually it could just be the two of us."
"Oh really? How would that work?"
"Asami as amazing are you are you still need a ride. Unless you have a sky bison or badger mole that I don't know about."
"I can drive!"
"When was the last time you actually drove a car?"
Asami thought about it. "Okay you have a point."
"Then it’s settled." Korra jumped her feet. "Team Avatar is back." She offered her hand. "What do you say Asami? Want to work off some rage and angst by beating some people up?"
Asami smiled and closed her eyes. She shook her head. "Yeah alright." She took Korra's hand and let herself be pulled to her feet. "Better than mopping around here all day."
"Alright!" They turned to see Bolin followed by Mako walk up to them. "Team Avatar!"
Korra and Asami laughed.
“What do you say bro,” asked Bolin to his older sibling.
Mako shrugged. "Ah what the hell. Besides the Equalists cost me two jobs."
Team Avatar Mark II plus Naga came together in a circle and let out cheer.
"Let's go bust some heads," said Korra, driving her fist into her palm.
As they made their way back up to the house Asami turned Korra. "What about my Dad," she asked softly.
Korra saw the pain and betrayal in Asami's eyes. Korra looked down at her feet. Hiroshi was the only family Asami had left.
"You focus on Amon. I'll handle your father."
Unfortunately that evening Team Avatar didn't find any heads to bust as the Equalists were being quiet for the time being. What they did find was a large gathering of people in one of the outlining neighborhoods of the city. When they arrived at the scene the only source of light were the headlights of the police cruisers who had amassed at the intersection. This was no small police action as they were a number of cruisers as well as three vans or “paddy wagons.”
A police officer on a loudspeaker was addressing the crowd telling them to return to their homes and that as of now there was a curfew in affect.
Climbing out of the car Asami walked over to the crowd. "What's going on here?"
"They shut off the power," said a man in the crowd.
"There’s nothing but darkness for blocks!"
"Now they're going on about some curfew!"
"Avatar get them to turn the lights back on."
Asami turned towards the police. "It shouldn't too hard-ah shit." Tarrlok was standing amongst the police. "I should've known you'd be here."
Tarrlok saw her approach. "Avatar Sato! How good to see you. Deepest regrets about your father. Who would've known the great Hiroshi Sato was secretly an Equa-"
"Why are these people without power," demanded Asami.
Tarrlok quickly switched from consoling to serious. "New curfew. Anyone out on the streets passed 8:30 will be subject to arrest."
"I wasn't aware of this."
Tarrlok grinned. "Approved by the council not more than an hour ago."
"Gee I wonder who proposed the measure," said Korra.
"I see you’ve got yourself a gang now Avatar," asked Tarrlok, "Ironic. I seem to remember trying to get you to join my task force months ago. I was criticized for it. Well, it seems now I was right about the threat these thugs pose to the public." He leaned closer to Asami. "Maybe you didn't want to believe because you knew your dear old father was one of them."
Korra, Mako and Bolin stepped forward, intent on doing bodily harm to the councilman, but Asami motioned them back. She stepped forward instead. When she spoke she made sure he voice was loud enough for everyone to hear. "You need to leave. And take your posse with you. All you're doing is making a tense situation worse. That's all you've done since the moment I arrived in this city. These people," she said pointing towards the crowd behind her, "aren't the enemy. These attics are actually the type of actions the Equalists leech off of to increase their numbers. If there's anyone who has been a benefit to the Equalists it's been you! But you don't care. All you care about is the publicity."
Tarrlok grinned and clapped. "Nicely done Avatar. You make every conspiracy nut-job around the world proud. But unlike you, I actually have the law on my side and if these people don't return to their homes they'll be locked up."
"Oh yeah," challenged Asami, "We'll see what Beifong has to say about this.” She turned and walked back to the car, the others following her. She suddenly heard Korra yell. She turned to see her friend be seized by a water tentacle and pulled violently towards Tarrlok.
"Let me go!"
"Arrest her and those two," Tarrlok said in authoritative tone, pointing at Mako and Bolin. "Interfering with police business and resisting arrest."
Mako and Bolin could barely act before they were nabbed by the cops.
Tarrlok hauled Korra towards him which was a mistake because when Korra was within range she spat in Tarrlok's face. "Fuck you!"
Tarrlok threw Korra towards a police wagon where she was quickly restrained by officers and forced into the van along with Mako and Bolin.
Asami quickly got over the shock of what was happening in front of her and stormed up to Tarrlock, almost nose to nose with him. "Let them go!"
"You have no authority over me. You're not even proper Avatar. Just a half-baked one in training," sneered Tarrlok.
"Fucking fascists," yelled Korra, kicking her feet and making sure the task of getting her into the van as difficult as possible for the officers, "Get your hands off me!"
"Can I have my phone call now," asked Bolin before he was shoved into the van. Mako attempted to retaliate but was quickly restrained and shoved into the van. Korra was still putting up a fight.
"Tarrlok when my Dad hears about this he's going to rip your spine out!"
The crowd was now openly jeering at the police and began pelting them with whatever they could get their hands on. Tarrlok shoved a fuming Asami aside.
"Round them up!"
The metallic barricades that been set up suddenly lifted off the ground and bent themselves, wrapping around a group of civilians. People screamed and tried to escape. The police were about to move in but Asami blocked their path.
"Put. Them. Down," she said, igniting fireballs in her palms.
The police went into fighting stance. Tarrlok shook his head. "You should know by now that police don't answer to you Avatar."
"Well that's good then," the fire disappeared from her palms, "because I don't answer to you." Asami stomped her foot and the whole street heaved. Tarrlok and the officers lost their balances giving Asami enough time to rush forward and blast them with air, sending them flying. Asami looked shocked that she was able to produce such a strong gust of wind since she was still learning airbending.
A metal wire wrapped around her arm. She gave it a good yank, pulling the officer's face into her fist. She ripped up concrete, sending police vehicles toppling over, shattering sidewalks, almost toppling over street lights and utility poles. The police didn't seem to know what to do with a rampaging Avatar so they quickly retreated. Tarrlok got to his feet and shot a blast of water towards Asami who sent a blast of fire back, throwing him back against the police van Korra, Mako and Bolin were contained in.
"Chump," said Asami. She moved to free her friends but the cries of crowd caused her to go to them first. "I'll get your loose." She looked at the metal piece, which had contained the crowd. "I can't bend this. I'm going to bur--"
The crowd watched in horror as Asami suddenly thrust her head back violently and unnaturally. She quickly fell to her knee, her head bent painfully backwards. Asami could see Tarrlok get up and slowly approach, a look of pure rage on his face and his hands held outward as if he was bending. He stopped and he twisted hands and Asami felt her muscles twist and pain shoot up into her brain. The last she saw before passing out was Tarrlok looking down at her.
"What the hell happened here," demanded Lin when she arrived on scene. "Cut those people loose and start taking statements. You," she addressed a young officer leaning up against an overturned police cruiser, "What happened here? Where is the Avatar? And where is Tarrlok?"
The young officer swallowed nervously. "Chief you're probably not going to believe me."
Lin crossed her arms. "Try me."
"So much for Team Avatar's big comeback," said Mako as he, Korra and Bolin sat in Lin's office.
"You think yours was bad," said Lin with a small smile, "Believe you should've seen the Team Avatar me and Tenzin formed when we were kids." Tenzin ignored her, focusing instead on his non-stop pacing. "It was me, Tenzin, Kya, Sokka and Suki's son Tikani." Tenzin paused his pacing and regarded her with a raised brow. Lin huffed. "Okay there might have been someone else as well but the point is it didn't last long and it mostly was us chasing squirrels out of Aunt Katara's garden. Our first outing, if it could be called that, ended when Tenzin got a splinter from a log."
"Well it’s nice to reminiscence about old times," huffed Tenzin, "but we have a crisis on our hands. Asami has been kidnapped by Tarrlok who now bloodbender apparently. A development I honestly did not see coming.”
"Not to mention the inevitable lawsuits headed the department's way," said Lin, "I've put out an APB for Tarrlok and we've looking into any places he would go."
"Could it be possible that he took her to Amon," said Bolin who then quickly raised his hands, "Not that's what I'm hoping for or anything. Far from it. But maybe he's in league with them."
"Might explain why his task force only caught small fry," said Mako.
"The bigger question is how could Tarrlok use bloodbending when there isn’t a full moon," pondered Lin.
Tenzin stroked his beard. "There's one theory." He looked at Lin. "The one case we know of someone using bloodbending at free will."
Lin's eyes widen in realization. She shook her head. "That's impossible."
"Lin after everything that has happened during these past few months nothing really is impossible. Remember he disappeared without a trace."
Lin plopped into her chair and rubbed her head. She had been suffering from nonstop headaches for the past couple weeks and it was only going to get worse.
"We have an armed terrorist group about to stage a revolution, demonstrations mounting against this department, the council now wants to hold a hearing with me so my job is on the line." Tenzin gave her sympathetic look as he had done his best to put in a good word for her it was too late now even thought the police action tonight wasn’t authorized by her. Now the citizens were now actively against the police for a variety reasons that had been building up over time, now reaching a breaking point. There was going to be a hearing next week, which seemed to Lin uncertain. There might not be a police force by next week. She continued, "now we have a missing Avatar and a councilman whose a bloodbender. Anything else?" There was a knock on the door. "Oh for spirits--COME!" An assistant poked his head inside. "What is it?"
"Sorry to disturb you Chief but Councilman Tenzin you have a phone call. Your wife just went into labor."
Tenzin's jaw fell open which he quickly shut. "Excuse me," he said to the group before tearing out of the room nearly knocking the assistant over.
Lin shook her head. "That woman sure has a sense of timing."
Asami found herself in a dark forest. She didn't belong there for she recognized what was happening before her were events long since past. But there was a point for her being here. She felt like she needed to witness this.
The forest was brightly illuminated by the full moon above. There were two women, both waterbenders although they were dressed in Fire Nation garb, one young, one old. The young waterbender was on her knees, tears rolling down her face as she pleaded to the older woman. Her words fell on deaf ears as the old woman continued to manipulate the young woman's body.
"I don't want to see anymore," said Asami, horrified at the display before her.
"It's almost over. Watch."
The voice was familiar.
The young woman's facial expression turned from pain and fear to determination and rage. She slowly rose to her feet, struggling against invisible chains and held her hands out, imitating her opponent. The old woman looked shocked but tried to maintain her control but soon her resolve broke and she crumbled to the ground, hollering with pain.
Figures emerged from the darkness. Two teenage boys and a young girl, dressed similar in red, gathered around the young waterbender as she slowly sunk to the ground.
"Katara," asked one of the boys. He had short black hair and wore a headband. "Are you alright?"
Katara didn't respond. She used the back of her hand to wipe away her tears.
The old woman began cackling as two Fire Nation soldiers approached and restrained her.
"Congratulations girl. You're a bloodbender now."
"This old bag is off her rocker," said one of the soldiers. His partner agreed.
The old woman continued to cackle madly as she was hauled away. The last thing Asami saw before being swallowed up by darkness were the three children huddled around their friend who was softly crying.
Asami awoke in an enclosed metal cage. She had no idea how long she had been there. There was no sign of Tarrlok although she did hear some of noise outside but she was too weak to call out. Her vision was blurry and she had difficulty keeping her eyes open. Soon she was no longer alone.
"How do you feel," asked Aang, sitting on the floor and leaning against the opposite wall.
"Can't really feel anything," said Asami. She leaned her head back against the wall. She felt a sharp sting of pain when she did. "Parts of me are numb and the rest is in pain." She looked at her predecessor. "You looked good with hair."
Aang chuckled. "How did you know it was me? I thought the headband kept me incognito."
Asami rolled her eyes. "Truly you are a master of disguise." She closed her eyes. When she spoke again her voice was barely above a whisper. "Why didn't Katara tell me?"
"She didn't tell you because she wished that bloodbending technique would end with her. She barely spoke about it ever again and each one of us kept the incident with Hama out of our respective memoirs."
"Then how does Tarrlok know bloodbending if apparently only Hama and Katara knew about it?"
Aang was quiet for a while before he answered. "Hama wasn't the last bloodbender we encountered. The next one happened right here in Republic City about thirty years later..." Aang’s voice trailed away as the inside of the metal cage drifted away.
There was complete darkness for a moment and then there were balls of light far off into the distance. She was moving towards at seemingly great speed but her feet did move, in fact she was standing on anything. She seemed to be drifting in an endless void towards a pattern of lights. Shapes were beginning to form. What she was moving towards did not remain a mystery for long as below her a city formed out of the darkness. The array of lights were street lights, the shapes buildings. There was a moment of panic as she continued her descent but suddenly she slowed down, assuring her that in this vision the laws of gravity didn’t apply.
Asami glided over Republic City, once again an invisible observer. She could instantly she was in the past from how Republic City looked from above. The skyscrapers that made up downtown were absent although the buildings below her which ran up 15 to 20 stories were considered skyscrapers to people of this time.
She began to descend although not by choice. It was if she was being pulled but she wasn't afraid for she knew she was safe. She soon found herself hovering over a small alleyway in one of the outer boroughs. The alley was lit with floodlights and police vehicles, ancient ones that probably only did 45 if they were going down a steep hill, lined the streets.
"Sergeant move that crowd back," barked the commanding officer on scene. At first glance Asami thought it was Lin but upon closer look saw that it wasn't. It was her mother Toph Beifong.
Toph turned to see Aang approach. "I have the scene under control Aang. You showing up here is just going to stir up the crowd. Luckily the press seem to asleep at this hour."
"I'm sorry I just had to know for sure."
Toph sighed. "Fine. See for yourself." She bent down and for the first time Asami noticed the white sheet that lay at Toph's feet. She instantly knew what lay under it and braced herself when Toph pulled away the sheet. It wasn't enough for Asami let out gasp at the mangled body below her. It was a man in his forties, dressed formally, his head pulled back and limbs twisted around unnaturally and frozen in place by rigor mitosis.
Aang let out a sigh. "Now we know for sure."
"We don't have a coroner report Aang,” Toph pointed out.
"Won't matter. It'll say the same as the others. What is this? The eighth?"
"Ninth," corrected Toph, "but you're forgetting one thing Twinkletoes," Aang grimaced at being called that, "Last full moon was three days ago. This stiff can't be no more than a few hours old."
"I think our friend has a special talent," said the Avatar as gazed down at the body. He nodded to an officer who pulled the sheet back over the corpse. "Goodnight Toph."
He turned, his cloak billowing behind him, and walked away.
"Are you going to tell her," asked Toph.
Aang paused in his step. "I have to."
"I don't want her to get involved. I don't want to deprive your kids of their mother."
"I know and I appreciate it but she'd want to get involved if I'm involved."
"Tell her you're not then. I'll keep you and Sokka updated." Toph turned and walked towards him. "If a situation arose and Katara would have to...you know," she said in soft voice.
"I know Toph."
"I would never forgive myself."
Aang reached and gently squeezed her hand. "Thank you my friend."
Suddenly everything went blurry and before Asami could make sense of what was happening she was standing in a brightly lit hallway. Aang was in front of her walking away. She followed after him, her feet now firmly on the ground. He came to a door at the end of the hallway and rang a buzzer.
"I'll get it," yelled a voice from inside. A few moments later the door opened revealing a seven-year old girl with light skin, brown hair and blue eyes. "Uncle Aang," exclaimed Sakari, Sokka and Suki's youngest child.
To the surprise of her parents, Sakari turned out to be a Waterbender, a trait that had skipped over Sokka and his first two children to her. Her learning of bending forms from her Aunt Katara and her cousin Kya led to her interest in dance. For years she appeared in numerous theatrical productions that toured over the world before returning to Republic City to settle down with her husband, an air acolyte, and devoted her time to teaching at one of the city’s performance art schools.
Aang smiled and bend down to scoop her up. "Hello sweetie." He placed a kiss on his niece's cheek. "How ya doing kiddo?"
"I'm fine. Tikani was teasing Atka at dinner again.”
“Any food flung?”
“No but Atka will get back at him eventually.”
“Hello Aang.” Suki appeared from around the corner. “What brings you around at this hour?”
“Hello Suki,” said Aang, leaning over to kiss his sister-in-law’s cheek. “Business I’m afraid. I hate to bug the old man but I figure I’d let him in before I headed home.”
“I figured you would be home by now,” said Suki, a tone of concern in her voice.
Aang smiled. “Avatar’s work is never done.”
“I’m not old.” With a huff Sokka appeared.
“Really? I could’ve sworn I saw some strains of gray on your hea—“
“Was something important you needed to tell me arrow head or did you just come by to annoy me,” asked Sokka.
“I do plenty of that at the office.” Aang leaned closer to his brother-in-law. “A matter I need to discuss. Figured I tell you now. You’re grumpy in the morning.” Sakari giggled at that.
“Alright,” said Sokka resigned. “Come on in.”
Aang gave Sakari another kiss before placing her down.
Following Aang, Asami walked through the entry way into a luxurious living room with large windows that overlooked the city park. Green and blue clashed together as the room was littered with Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe artifacts. In the center of the room was a cluster of charis and couches, no doubt the area where the family would gather around to hear Sokka’s heroic tales. Asami heard them herself many times.
She had been so taken aback by the nature of these visions that she hadn’t properly appreciated the fact that she was seeing her predecessor, Sokka and Suki in the prime years of their lives. Her memories of Sokka were that of a kindly older man, who was always ready with a joke and a story to tell but many times Asami had caught in a more reflective mood as he got older. Her last memory of him shortly before he passed away was of him telling him a joke about a fish merchant and a parrot. The joke provoked a genuine laugh from her rather then the usual groan, to which he always pleased as he loved to make others suffer from his pun. This time there was a warm smile. “You see? I still got good material.”
In one of the large chairs Atka, Sokka and Suki’s eldest, sat with a book in her hands. She was splitting of her mother apart from her Water Tribe skin. She was also a Kyoshi Warrior, following in the footsteps of her mother who had set up a dojo in Republic City many years prior at the time of its initial construction. The Kyoshi Warriors were no longer limited to duties on the island of Kyoshi but had established a presence in the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom, often providing self-defense workshops for young girls and women. Following Suki’s retirement, Atka had taken up the mantel of captain of the Kyoshi Island dojo. Last she heard from Suki was that she was living with Atka and her family on the island.
“Uncle Aang,” she said looking up from her book, “This is a surprise.”
“Hey Atka,” he said leaning over to ruffle her hair, “Sadly just a quick business meeting with your dad.”
“Well you know uncle there’s this thing called a telephone,” she said with a smirk. “I think you can use wonderful technology to good use.”
“Ha ha,” said Aang deadpan, trying to suppress a grin, “That sarcastic tongue of yours.”
Atka shrugged. “Can’t help it. It’s in my genes.”
Aang looked at Sakari. “Promise me you won’t go down the path of your siblings.”
“I make no promises Uncle Aang,” said Sakari sweetly.
Aang and Suki shared a look. “Spirits help us,” he said with a sigh.
“It was only a matter of time,” chuckled Suki.
Aang nodded. He wondered what the sibling drama between his own kids was awaiting him when he returned home. Before heading into Sokka’s study Aang poked his head into his nephew’s room. “Are you worried your sister’s going to kill you?”
“It would save me from this chemistry test I have on Tuesday,” said Tikani, his eyes remaining on his work.
“Positive thoughts Tikani. Positive thoughts,” counseled Aang.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” said the teenager, briefly looking up to give his uncle a smile.
Tikani was a familiar face in the Southern Water Tribe. Ever since he was in his twenties he had been working under the previous Water Tribe chief Hadoka, his grandfather. He still work in an administrative role under the new chief Tonraq.
“Okay so what was so important it could’ve wait until tomorrow?” Sokka plopped down onto a small couch. Every square inch of his study was filled with either mementos of the many years of travels and adventures or paperwork. He was surprised when Aang opened the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a small bottle of whiskey. Sokka leaned forward. “Okay this is serious. Spill it.”
Asami stood in the corner and watched as Aang sat beside his friend, both taking sips of whiskey, silently mulling over the information that had been learned this night.
“I have to tell Katara,” Aang finally said.
“Yep,” said Sokka, staring down at his glass.
“I don’t want to.”
“I know.” There was a long pause. “But she can’t get involved.”
Aang scoffed. “Since when has that ever worked?”
“I know, I know.” Sokka took another long sip of his drink. “Maybe Suki and Katara should take the kids and—“
“Would Suki leave your side,” asked Aang.
Sokka sighed. “Only if the kids were at risk.”
“I don’t think they are. Remember when Toph constantly tells us not to get involved, this is what she was talking about. You talk tough about the triads to the press, you make yourself a target.”
“Lin and Su should stay here or your place.”
“Toph probably won’t be receptive to that idea.”
“Yeah well tough,” said Sokka placing his glass down on the scoffed up coffee table. “Are we sure about this?”
“There is no doubt. I saw the victim.”
“Press learns about this they’re going to have a field day with it.”
“Toph’s ensuring a tight lid on is keep on it,” said Aang, “Anyone asks its just another mugging. We need to make sure that whoever is doing this knows we’re not on their trail.”
They lapsed into silence again.
“You need to tell her,” Sokka said finally.
Aang finished his drink. “I know. Are you going to tell Suki?”
Sokka nodded. “Aang…if something were to happen to my ki—“
Aang took hold of Sokka’s arm. “It won’t.” Upon seeing his brother-in-law trying to suppress his emotions, Aang gripped his arm tighter. Of all the adventures they had as teenagers the encounter with Hama was one they collectively forgot about it. “I promise it won’t.”
The scene shifted again and now Asami was in a bedroom. Aang was on his knees beside a large bed. Asami’s Waterbending teacher Katara sat on the bed, silently gazing down at her hands, which lay in her lap.
Aang reached out and gently took her hands into his. “Sweetie,” he said in a soft voice.
Asami remembered Katara describing how her and Aang supported each other through difficult times and that when life decided to take away Aang unexpectedly her world came crashing down. Asami remember the looks of comfort her Waterbending master would give her and sometimes she would catch the looks of sorrow.
“I was suppose to be the last one,” Katara said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I know,” said Aang, kissing her hand.
“How could this happen.” She closed her eyes.
“Someone was bound to come to the same conclusions.” Aang didn’t mentioned Hama’s name. Her name was rarely ever mentioned apart from late night talks following a nightmare.
Katara nodded. “And of all the places for that person to show up.”
Aang nodded. “Yeah I know.”
“But it’s a good thing because you and Toph recognized what it was and you can stop it.”
Aang looked at her surprised. “Yes,” he said hesitatingly, “We will.”
A small smile formed on Katara’s lips. “You needn’t worry about me. But be honest, are we in danger?”
Aang told her that little had been printed in the press, the only mentions of it in print were chalked up to gang violence, which was true, but nothing mentioned the practice of bloodbending. Although Aang feared that his appearance at the crime scene would spark interest in the case. He would have a hard time explaining what he was doing in that section of town.
“The Avatar showing up at a crime scene is definitely going to get some attention. I screwed up,” he admitted. He was suddenly pulled upwards by Katara who kissed him on the lips.
“Let’s go to bed,” she said cupping his face. He melted at her touch, closing his eyes and letting out a sigh. Her fingers slid down his face to his clasp of his cape.
“Okay that’s enough,” a disembodied voice said suddenly, which caused Asami.
“But it’s getting to the good part,” said Asami with a grin. The scene around was swept away. “You know these are technically my memories too.”
“Well there some things you don’t need to see,” said the voice now identified as Aang. Her vision came back and she was back in the metal box. “I respect your privacy and something were to come up between you and Korra I—“
“What? Shut up,” huffed Asami. She could see a similar start to form Aang’s face so she quickly changed the subject. “So I’m guessing this bloodbender from years ago is connected with Tarrlok?”
“The man’s name was Yakone,” said Aang, now serious again, “After the rise of the Triads in Republic City, Yakone and his ‘associates’ formed a rival organization. Things were bad for a while in this metropolis that we built. But Toph and the police worked hard to keep things in order. Eventually Yakone felt that he could run things better so he broke away from his organization, taking along those who were loyal to him. The killings were him settling old scores. We got lucky and had enough to convict him.”
“Well he nearly escaped for one thing,” said Aang leaning forward, “He was to able to subdue me, Sokka, Toph, and a room full of people long enough to make his escape. I went after him and managed to capture him while also ensuring he never caused harm to anyone else.”
“You did what you did to Ozai,” said Asami, “You took away his bending.” Aang nodded. “Well the past seems to be repeating itself. Bending being taken away, bloodbending, I suppose I’m going to meet a giant lion-turtle?”
Aang shrugs. “You never know. Yakone didn’t stay locked for long. He managed to escape from prison and he just disappeared. There were rumors about possible whereabouts but that was it. But it would seem his offspring has set about finishing the job he never could do albeit through a different profession.”
Asami got to her feet, which wasn’t easy. “I could make a joke about the similarity between criminals and politicians but there are more stressing matters at that moment. Let’s take stock of what we know at the moment: I’m stuck in the box.”
“A metal box,” says Aang.
“And you haven’t learned metalbending yet.”
“It was on my to-do list,” says Asami with some defensiveness in her voice. “Tarrlok is a bloodbender and the son of a former crime boss who also was a bloodbender. But I don’t think we need to worry about him becoming mayor or something. There were witnesses to what he did to me. Besides if Amon gets his way there won’t be a Republic City for Tarrlok to have power over.”
Aang suddenly got to his feet, looking alert. “Listen.”
Asami did. She could detect voices but who they were or what they were saying she couldn’t determine. “The police?”
“I don’t think so.” He turned and vanished through the wall. He returned a few seconds later. “Nope, definitely not the police. Equalists.”
Asami let out an exasperated sigh. “This day keeps better and better.”
“We only have one course of action. We have to go through them.”
Asami cocked an eyebrow. “’We’? Aang I’m no shape to do anything at the moment and no offense but you’re dead.”
“Yes but there is a way for me to get you out of here. At least get you past these guys.”
Asami could hear the people Aang was referring to.
“She’s in here.”
“Should we leave her in there?”
“No just put some volts through it. That’ll finish her off.”
Asami looked back at Aang. He offered her his hand.
“Aang I can’t,” she whispered frantically. “You know I can’t enter the Avatar State.”
Aang didn’t back down and still held out his hand. “Trust me.”
“Payback time,” said the Lieutenant as he approached the box, charging up his kali stick before touching it against the surface and electrocuting the box. After about ten seconds he stopped. There were no sounds from inside. Cautiously he electrocuted the box again for a longer duration, stopping to prevent an overload of his equipment.
“I think you got her sir,” said one of the Equalist soldiers.
The Lieutenant ignored the comment and unlatched the door, opening it to reveal darkness. He felt a chill run up his spine and was about to flip the safety cache on his kali stick off—
“Where is she,” another soldier asked.
The Lieutenant looked away slightly and when he looked back inside the box a pair of glowing eyes were staring at him. In between the eyes was a glowing arrow.
Suddenly he was lifted off his feet by a strong gust of wind and was sent, along with the rest of his men, flying across the room, colliding with the wall. The men groaned in pain and staggered to their feet. They looked up as a figure emerged from the box.
Walking towards them was Avatar Aang, eyes and arrow glowing white.
The Equalists lowered their weapons as the shock set in. So shocked were they that none of them could comment on the fact that the deceased Avatar was up and walking.
The Lieutenant got to his feet and took out his kali sticks. He didn’t care if he was facing Avatar Asami, Aang or Kyoshi. The Avatar was an enemy to his cause. He let out a war cry and charged towards the seemingly resurrected Avatar, kali sticks blazing blue as they crackled with electricity.
Aang continued walking towards the charging opponent and when the Equalist was about to strike, in a quick motion Aang, in true Airbender fashion, side stepped out of the way of the charge and with a quick application of eartbending conquered a rock pillar out of the ground and sent the Lieutenant flying into the metal box, hitting with such force that the door slammed shut.
He turned to the other Equalists who charged him thinking they had an advantage as he was momentarily distracted with dispatching their superior officer. Aang made a slicing motion with his hand and again the Equalists were blown off their feet and sent flying into the wall, down for the count this time.
Aang continued towards the stairs. He remembered when he and Roku used the same trick at the Fire Temple to escape from Zuko and Commander Zhao. He briefly transformed into Avatar Kyoshi during his supposed trial and basically confessed for a crime he was charged with. The memory of those events so long ago when it was just the trio of him, Katara and Sokka brought forth a mixture of emotions that he had to quickly push aside. He needed to remain focus if he was to get Asami out of here.
He started to ascend the stairs. As much as he wanted to move faster he was prevented by the fact that Asami’s body was still weak from the physical torment of being bloodbent and having been locked in a tight enclosed space for hours.
“We’re almost there Asami. Stay with me.”
As he got close to the top of the stairs there was voice calling from the top floor.
“Hey you guys got the Avatar yet? The boss wants to head ou—“ Appearing at the top of the stairs was an Equalist soldier whose voice trailed off into garbled nonsense as he saw who was coming up the stairs. A fire blast sent him flying and the same fate awaited the Eqaulists who rushed in to help their comrade.
The path was clear now. Aside from the pile of unconscious bodies strewn across the floor the small room was bare of any furniture or fixtures. A door was open ahead revealing the outside and flurry of snow.
“We’re in the mountains,” said Asami weakly. “Guess I’m not taking a cab home.”
“We’ll make it.”
Aang pressed on, using whatever of his own energy to aid Asami in moving. He was worried that when he and Asami would leave the Avatar State she would be defenseless and this gamble would’ve been for nothing.
Stepping outside into the cold Aang was momentarily blinded by the brightness of the outside before his, or rather Asami’s, eyes adjusted and saw parked a few feet away a large armored truck.
Aang felt Asami’s body suddenly tense up. A figure stood by the truck.
It was Amon.
Aang could sense the other’s shock although there was no way of actually seeing as the rebel leader hid his face behind that mask. Aang acted quickly to use that moment to his advantage.
But he found that he couldn’t. His arms wouldn’t move. His legs wouldn’t move.
Then remember that again this wasn’t truly his body.
Asami was frozen with fear.
“Asami I can’t move unless you let me!”
The moment was gone as Amon began to stalk toward them.
Aang could hear Asami’s rapid breaths, feel her heart pounding in her chest.
“Don’t give into the fear! We get him out of the way and we can escape! Or else this would’ve been for nothing! You will go back into another metal cage!”
The moment he felt Asami’s muscles relax he acted. Using whatever strength he had left he threw a punch of fire towards Amon. Amon easily sidestepped out of the way. But what he wasn’t counting on was Aang bending the snow behind him and bringing it down upon him and freezing it.
“You think you can do the whole sidestep evasion,” taunted Aang, “I’m an Airbender. We basically invented it!” Moving his legs into a wide stance just like Toph taught him to, he stomped on the ground and a rock pillar popped out of the snow and sent the frozen form of Amon sailing into the air.
But Aang knew that wasn’t the end for the Equalist leader. He had fought Amon’s type for decades. They always come back.
With that last act of bending both Aang and Asami dropped out of the Avatar State. Aang physically disappeared and Asami fell to her knees, the freezing temperatures just now registering.
“Okay you’re clear,” said Aang. “Get going!”
Asami staggered to her feet and stumbled towards the truck, hoping the key was still in the ignition. Luck was briefly on her side as the keys were there, complete with pine tree key chain. She hauled herself into the cab and started the truck.
“I actually haven’t driven in a long time and certainly not in a truck like this. I survived Tarrlok, the Equalists and Amon but driving off a cliff will be my demise.”
“Can’t help you with that kid.”
Asami hit the gas and with a lurch the truck took off. It wasn’t until Asami was a mile down the road did she relax albeit slightly.
The search for Asami was now in its 13th hour and so far there were no leads as towards her whereabouts. Following Asami’s kidnapping Chief Beifong decided now was the appropriate time to act on some leads of Equalist hideouts that had gathered from informants. Each raid proved unfruitful and only led to the arrest of a handful of Equalists and the confiscation of some weapons.
Frustrations within the group, which included Korra, Mako and Bolin, increased following each raid and was at a boiling point now that fatigue was setting in.
Korra wiped at her brow and wearily made her way towards Lin’s police cruiser.
“Where are you going? We’re not done here!”
Korra stopped. That voice. That constantly irritated, nagging voice that had been plaguing her for months was now threatening to break down the last of her self-control.
Thirteen hours. Thirteen hours of worrying to death of the whereabouts and condition of her friend. But that was also thirteen hours of Mako nonstop complaining, yelling, hurling threats and insults to anyone who got in his way.
Now Korra had had enough.
She turned and faced him. Always that same expression on his face: the furrowed brows and the judgmental look in his eyes.
“I’ve been up on my feet for thirteen hours,” she said as calmly as she could. “Hours of pacing back and forth, running all over town, kicking down doors and taking out Equalists, hoping to find Asami.” She took a breath. “I want to find Asami but I can’t do that unless I rest.”
“We’ll just have to leave you behind then,” he said turning back to the group, “You can go back to the Air Temple.”
He was no more then a few feet away did he hear the retort.
He paused, turned and saw blue eyes burning into his.
“Seriously,” Korra panted, her anger provided a boast to what remained of her energy, “Fuck you. I have been putting up with that nagging, condescending, ‘woe is me. I had a rough childhood so that’s my excuse for being a dick to everyone’ bullshit for months and I’ve just about had enough of it. In fact I had enough of it weeks ago. You know why when we have sex and I insist on you going down on me? It’s because it’s the one time you put your mouth to good use!”
Behind Mako’s mortified expression Korra could see Bolin looking away with an uncomfortable look while Lin had the always-present scowl on her face yet Korra could’ve sworn she saw the slight trace of a smile on the chief’s lips.
Korra continued, walking towards Mako and poking his chest. “You know what Captain Amazing, if you want to kick down every door in Republic City to look for Asami? Then fine! Be my guest. I’ll be with the logical thinking adults.” Korra let out a scoff. “I mean do you really think we’re just to be walking along and then all of the sudden Asami is right there?”
Korra and Mako’s little spat was suddenly interrupted by the loud screeching of tires as a previously unnoticed truck, which moments ago had passed them, came to an abrupt stop. They all turned their attentions to the idling truck, which let out a series of mechanical groans as if whoever was driving it was having difficulty shifting gears. Eventually the truck began to slowly back up towards them. As it got closer Korra could see the truck was in a sad state as they multiple dents and scraps along the side and especially in the front. One of the front headlights appeared to be broken as well.
The truck came to abrupt stop and the passenger side door was flung open.
A pair of familiar emerald eyes stared down at Korra.
“Need a lift,” asked Asami, her hair a mess, dark rings under her eyes and her face covered in scraps and bruises. Despite this she gave Korra a warm smile.
“Sure but I think I should take the wheel,” said Korra.
Immediately Korra, Lin and Bolin crowded the passenger door and couldn’t resist asking her multiple questions though all were essentially ‘where were you?’. Suddenly they were being pushed aside.
“Give her some space,” yelled Mako as he pushed them aside. Korra, already weak from a lack of rest, stumbled backward and fell flat on her rear onto the asphalt. She looked up to see Mako pull a very uncomfortable looking Asami from the cab of the truck and hold her in his arms. “I got you,” he said softly as he carried towards the police cruiser.
A hand extended towards Korra. She looked up. It was Bolin, who didn’t know what to say, but his kind, considerate expression was enough.
“Thanks Bo,” said Korra taking his hand.
Bolin helped her up. “I’m guessing you and Mako are on the outs.”
“Observant as always,” she said brushing herself off.
“Hey these eyes do more then just charm the ladies,” he said with a grin.
Korra was too tired to laugh so instead she placed a hand on Bolin’s shoulder. Appreciative that even in the darkest of times Bolin always had a lame joke to lighten the mood. It didn’t always work but she appreciated the effort.
“You know for someone as smart as you, you have a lousy taste in men,” remarked Lin as the trio followed after Mako and Asami towards the cruiser.
“Yeah well, I honestly have preferred the ladies but I take what I can get,” Korra said in a low voice that only Lin could’ve heard it.
Lin raised an eyebrow. She cocked her head towards the cruiser. “The Avatar?”
“Yeah but that’ll be the day pigs fly.”
“Trust me kid,” said Lin as she fished the car keys out of her pocket, “Love is a waste of time. Brings only misery.”
Korra took a look at the middle aged, cranky police chief strolling next to her. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
By the next day neither Korra nor Bolin had gotten the full details of what happened to Asami and Councilman Tarrlok for that matter. There was a closed-door meeting in Asami’s room with Lin, Tenzin and, for some reason, Mako.
There wasn’t much they could do. They would get the details eventually.
As much as Korra wanted to sleep she decided to pay a visit to Pema, who successfully delivered her baby: a boy named Rohan.
“Remarkable timing Pema,” said Korra as she sat by Pema’s bedside. Bolin stood beside her pouting after she told him he couldn’t hold Rohan.
“Maybe if I have another one a volcano will spring up out of nowhere and erupt,” said Pema with a grin, holding her newborn child in her arms.
“Are you thinking about having another one,” asked Korra, not sure if the older woman was joking or not.
Pema chuckled and then with a serious tone she said flatly, “No.”
After making sure Pema and the baby were alright and telling Jinora to keep her siblings in line or else she would feed them to Naga, Korra went to her room.
Her canine companion was asleep on the floor. Instead of collapsing on the bed Korra headed for the bathroom. She ran the bath and began stripping off her clothes. As the tub filled up Korra stared at her reflection in the mirror. For some reason she thought about her parents at that moment. Maybe it was because in the last two days Asami had lost her only remaining relative to revolutionary madness. Maybe it was because Pema had given birth to her fourth child only hours before. Maybe it was because she saw a lot of her parents in her own features.
She looked away from the mirror, running a hand through her hair. She really wished her parents were there with her. Back home she saw how her parents dealt with a crisis and was awed how quickly they sprang into action and how well they worked off each other. It was one of the reasons why she had been so dismayed to discover that she wasn’t a waterbender, believing at the time that would mean she would never be able to work alongside them.
She climbed into the bath, letting out a sigh as her strained muscles reacted to the warm water. She laid her head back, allowing herself to be almost fully submerged. Water always seemed to calm her down, which felt like some kind of consolation for not being able to control it.
She never meditated but was able to reach a state to where she had blocked out the troubling events and thoughts that had been plaguing her mind for weeks. Her feelings for Asami, her failing relationship with Mako, being away from home for years, the betrayal of her boss, an seemingly unstoppable force leading a revolution.
The only thing she focused on was being submerged in water. Feeling comforted that she was far away from the issues that had been troubling her.
“Here we all are. All of us sitting on an island in the middle of the bay. An island that is city landmark, appearing on everything from posters and mugs to postcards.”
With a groan Korra sat up and pulled the drain plug. As the tub began to empty, Korra climbed out and started to dry herself off.
Sleep would have to wait. She had to convince the others that they needed to leave. At the very least Pema and the kids had to get out of the city.
Amon wasn’t dumb and he demonstrated that by always being one step ahead of the police, even the night when his dealings with Sato had been exposed and again he managed to slip away. Amon wanted the Avatar and everyone and their mother knew Asami was in Republic City to train with the only Airbender master left. Together with his kids they were the only airbenders left.
“So much for a comforting bath,” huffed Korra.
Naga awoke from her slumber and looked up as Korra entered the bedroom and began to get dressed.
Her parents weren’t there. They were miles away in the South Pole and probably unaware of what was taking place in the United Republic. They weren’t going to come swooping in to help solve her problems anytime soon.
“It’s up to me.”