Chapter 1: No Easy Day
No Easy Day
How did we end up here?
How did I end up here?
The sun had set by now. The tall peaks of the surrounding mountains loomed out of the darkness and Korra was doing her best to steer the airship to avoid them. At the moment she was relying on her instruments and the map taped to the steering column with their destination of Zaofu circled. It didn’t help that the metal city sat in a valley surrounded by high peaks. It would’ve been tragic and ironic after everything that happened that day for everyone to lose their lives because she clipped the side of a mountain.
On their way back from what was once the Northern Air Temple they had flown by Ba Sing Sei. Even from the air she and everyone else on board could see the chaos and devastation. They could see the Earth Kingdom army moving into position in an attempt to subdue the riots but she knew it was useless. Unlike its neighboring nations, the Earth Kingdom never had a strong military. She could tell that by the fact that their transferring of tax money had been constantly foiled by a group of bandits and that they had hired Cabbage Corp as a contractor for their equpment. That told her enough. Now with the Earth Queen dead there was no one in charge unless they could dig up some member of royal family who was still alive. Still this wasn’t going to be a simple fix.
Spirits what a mess!
To think all of this because…
She shook her head trying to get the thought of those glowing eyes staring up at her in agony.
“Something wrong,” asked the only other person on the bridge. It was Zaofu’s Captain of the Guard Kuriva.
“I’m fine Captain,” said Korra softly. “Long day.”
Kuriva stepped forward a bit. “We should be approaching Zaofu shortly. I believe it’s just over that mountain there.”
Kuriva pointed forward but Korra was having a difficult time seeing. Flipping a switch the lights on the bridge switched from white to red. After a few moments of letting her eyes adjust she could clearly see the mountain Kuriva was talking about.
“Just bank left around it and we’ll be there.”
Korra nodded and did as instructed. And just like that the illuminated domes of Zaofu appeared in sight. Korra reached over and handed the radio receiver to the Captain.
“Zaofu this Captain Kuriva requesting permission to land.”
There was a brief pause before…
“Permission granted Captain.”
Ahead of them one of the domes opened up revealing the brightly lit landing pad.
“Zaofu we need medical and security personnel standing by. We have wounded on board in need of immediate medical attention.”
“Acknowledged. Medical and security personnel are already standing by.” The tone of the dispatcher became more informal. “Thought you should know we have some visitors. White Lotus. They here about that prisoner you have.”
“White Lotus,” scoffed Korra, “I feel safer already.”
Kuriva regarded her for a second before speaking again into the receiver. “Acknowledged. Kuriva out.”
She placed the receiver back on its cradle and without another word departed the bridge. Korra paid no mind as she focused all her attention on bringing the airship down for a smooth landing.
Once the airship was securely anchored to the ground Korra finally relaxed a little bit. She still had to complete some shut down procedures. Soon the hum of the engines slowly died down and there was silence. Korra had been fearing this moment. When there was nothing else for her to do. She was alone with her thoughts and it was the last thing she wanted.
“You're too late! The poison's been in her system too long. The Red Lotus has won.”
Korra’s hands bawled into fists and soon they collided with the steering column, then it was her feet and then she was trying to rip the fifty-pound instrument out of its fixture not minding that the airship belong to the Metal Clan.
She heard her voice from only a few hours ago.
“You son of a bitch! I’ll kill you!”
And like before hands were soon grabbing her and hauling her away. Before it was a couple people. This one it was just one.
She stopped punching and kicking but she remained tense and on edge. Hands gripped her arms from behind.
“Korra,” said the voice now in a gentle tone.
She felt all the anger drawn from her and it was slowly replaced with despair. Her muscles that seconds earlier were ready to tear apart the entire control panel became lax and her body went limp. The strong pair of arms managed to keep her on her feet. She allowed herself to be turned around.
“Sweetie,” said Tonraq softly.
Korra let out a sob. In the past couple of hours she almost lost those who she was closest to. She only learned later that her father barely escaped death if it weren’t for the quick actions of Kuriva. On top of hearing her father’s scrape with death she had to deal with the fact that her best friend had been taken away by some freakish cult.
“May I just say that this plan is bad? Stupid. Idiotic. Moronic. Bat shit crazy. Illogical. Nonsensical. Am I missing anything here?”
A pair of sympathetic but determined emerald eyes bore into hers. “Korra.” The tone of her voice sent shivers down Korra’s spine. “I know. Trust me I’m not exactly gung ho about this but it’s the only way.” She had pressed on before Korra contradict that. “I’ll have back up. Lin, Su and your father.”
She glanced downward, fidgeting with one of her gloves. “I’m not happy with that either. Him being a world leader and all.”
A pair of hands found her shoulders. “Hey.” She looked up as if she was under a spell. “I won’t let anything happen to him and he’ll watch over me. Don’t worry. This will work.”
In the present Korra clenched her jaw shut in a desperate attempt to hold back the inevitable tears.
“Don’t worry. This will work.”
Her lip quivered and she felt tears starting to run down her face.
“N-Nothing. I’ll…I’ll tell when you come back.”
Korra squeezed her eyes shut.
She let out the scream that she had been holding in for what seemed like an eternity. It was filled with sorrow and anger.
She was pulled forward and felt herself fall into her father’s arms. One hand was wrapped around her back to keep her on her feet while the other stroked the back of her head.
“Shhh,” whispered Tonraq softly, “It’s okay Korra. Everything is going to be okay. Just let it all out.”
This wasn’t the first time Korra had been in a situation like this and had heard those words from her parents. The first time was when she was eight and Master Katara had told her that any bending abilities she had would’ve cropped up by now. She later suspected that the elderly waterbender knew from the first time that she wasn’t a bender but knew that she wouldn’t accept that answer. Not yet at least.
Korra realized that she had said that out loud. “Worthless,” she repeated softly, feeling fresh tears well up in her eyes. “That hasn’t changed.” She felt her father tighten his grip on her.
“You’re wrong Korra. You have gifts and abilities well beyond myself and many other people. You have created so many wonderful things.”
“And none of that helped today,” she said bitterly, “None of it…helped her.”
“She’s strong Korra. The both of you are strong in spirit. I believe the two of you will come out of this stronger and better than before.”
She wanted to refute that but she just didn’t have the energy for it. Instead she just let her father hold her.
How did we end up here?
How did I end up here?
Ever since she moved to Republic City and met up with Asami, Mako and Bolin she had been a witness and participant in world changing events. And despite that they or at least she had held onto the belief that no matter how much things change some things will stay the same. That whatever hurdle life had thrown at them they managed to regain some normalcy in their lives.
She wasn’t sure that would happen again.
Things were changing and there was no going back this time.
Chapter 2: Gala
Korra meets the Avatar for the first time
One Year Ago
Korra looked up from her work, a new Satomobile roadster, to see her boss Hiroshi Sato walking into her workshop dressed to the nines. Oh. Right. The gala tonight for Asam—Avatar Sato. “Good evening sir,” she said taking off her goggles and taking a sip from her coffee mug not minding that the coffee was cold by now, “You’re looking very sharp this evening.”
“Thank you Korra. How’s it coming along?”
Korra sighed. “It’s a balancing act. It needs to be light and nimble but the engine is weighing it down. If the Law of Physics didn’t exist we’d get a lot more stuff out.”
“Hmm,” he hummed stroking his moustache. “Perhaps a whole new engine might be necessary.”
Korra’s heart sank a little as she knew it would cause the project to run longer. She didn’t mind working in satomobile division but she did want to branch a bit more.
She shrugged. “Probably.”
“I know you can do it.”
She took off her work gloves. “I appreciate the level of confidence you have in me. I really do. But this was suppose to be a quick project before transferring to the aerodynamics division.”
Hiroshi gave her a sympathetic look. “I know that you had your heart set on that but you’re the best I got in Satomobiles. Besides let them the boys in aerodynamics work the kinks out first. I hate to lose my best engineer because someone put the wings on wrong.”
“But it’s fine if it happens to your test pilots?”
Hiroshi shrugged. “They were crazy enough to volunteer in the first place.”
Korra chuckled as she wiped the grease off her hands. She glanced behind Hiroshi. “So is Asami with you?”
“No. She said she’d meet us there.” Since her return to Republic City Hiroshi had only managed to see her a few times with the first being bailing her out of jail on her first day back. Apparently she had gotten arrested taking on some triads. Since then she had been staying on Air Temple Island to learn airbending.
“’Us’,” she asked.
“Of course. You’ve been working very hard and you deserve a night off. Besides Asami asked if you were going to be there.
“Really?” Korra felt her cheeks heat up and hoped she wasn’t blushing especially in front of her boss. She turned to toss the rag onto the workbench in order to hide her face. “That was nice of her.”
“Also I believe her probending teammates will be joining us. You know them I believe.” Hiroshi never had a problem with probending before as far as Korra could tell but ever since Asami had joined the Fire Ferrets he made no secret that he was not pleased with her decision.
“I guess this new engine can wait. Let me just change.”
“Oh and Korra, a dress this evening.”
“What’s wrong with my suit?” When she wasn’t dressed in her usual black and blue Future Industries jacket, she wore tailored navy-colored suit.
“Korra, it’s technically a man’s suit.”
“Only in style. Besides the press seem to like it.” Hiroshi gave her look. “Fine.”
City Hall was quite packed when they arrived. After having to endure the flashes of the cameras and shouting of questions by the press they made their way onto the floor and mingled with the crowd. Hiroshi shook hands with pretty much everybody while Korra opted to hang back. Despite slight protest earlier she admired how she looked in her blue dress. Not bad at all.
Suddenly conversation in the room stopped and was replaced by applause. Her attention was drawn to the entrance and in particular the group that had walked in. The bright red and orange robes stood out in the crowd as the Councilman Tenzin and his family entered the room. Ahead of them was the Avatar. She stood there in a red dress smiling politely at the crowd.
“Thank you everyone,” she said. “It’s good to be home again.” Another round of applause and camera flashes. She saw the Councilman Tarrlok slither up to her in order to complete the photo op. The smile remained on Asami’s face but Korra could see the slight change from genuine to forced.
She turned her head to gauge Hiroshi’s reaction and saw that he was visually disgusted with the display before him.
“He is the very model of a modern politician,” said Korra lightly in an attempt to get a chuckle out of her employer.
Hiroshi merely hummed and stroked his moustache. He suddenly took Korra’s hand and started walking towards Asami. “Come on. Let me introduce you.”
“Introduce me or rescue the Avatar?”
By the time they reached Asami Lin had just walked up to her, got right into her face and remarked snidely, “Just because the city's throwing you this big to-do don't think you're something special. You've done absolutely nothing to deserve this.”
Asami regarded the Chief of Police coolly and even raised an eyebrow at her, giving Beifong a slightly amused look. Korra didn’t think it was possible but the scowl on Lin’s face intensified. With a grunt she turned and walked away.
“Hi Dad,” said Asami brightly, turning her attention away from the departing chief. Father and daughter embraced each other in a big hug. Korra could see just from their expressions and body language they were making up for lost time, all those years Asami spent training and traveling all over the world. She could also see Tarrlok straightening his suit and about to intrude upon this father-daughter moment and turn it into another photo opportunity. Korra managed to catch the councilman’s eye at which she narrowed her eyes and shook her head, making her warning clear. Tarrlok’s expression went from shock to annoyed to smug. He crossed his arms and regarded her as the press photographers maneuvered around him to get a good shot of Hiroshi and Asami.
Hiroshi pulled back and planted a kiss on Asami’s forehead. This elicited ‘awwws’ from the crowd.
“Alright folks,” said Hiroshi, “Nothing to see here. Enjoy your evening.” The crowd for the most part did disperse and Hiroshi managed deflect any questions addressed to him or Asami with, “Later, later.”
Korra saw Tarrlok had slithered away but she knew he’d be back.
“Korra.” Hiroshi’s voice grabbed her attention. When she turned her gaze she froze as the Avatar was no more than five feet away from her standing beside her father. This was the first time she managed to see Asami up close aside from the occasional photograph that Hiroshi liked to show around the office when he received one in the mail. Emerald eyes. Long flowing black hair.
Get a hold of yourself!
Korra hoped that Hiroshi and Asami had interpreted whatever dumb expression was on her face as merely being nervous.
“I present to you, for the first time in the flesh, my daughter Asami. Asami, this is Korra my star engineer.”
Korra couldn’t help be embarrassed by this label especially in front of Asami. After all it could’ve been her had she not been selected by whatever spiritual force as the next incarnation of the Avatar.
Korra bowed. “It is truly an honor to meet you Avatar Sato.”
Asami smiled and bowed back. “Please call me Asami. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Dad has written about you in his letters.”
Korra grinned. “Hopefully good things.” Hiroshi chuckled.
“Of course,” beamed Asami, “If its’ not a problem I would love to visit your workshop when I have a day off.” She paused to regard Tenzin who was trying to keep his youngest child Meelo under control. “If I have a day off.”
Korra laughed and could’ve sworn Asami’s smile grew wider. “My workshop is always opened to you.”
Unfortunately the conversation was cut short by a loud, cheerful voice.
“Asami! Korra!” Bolin approached the group with his hands filled with orderves which he was he stuffing his face with in between words. “Mmm these little snacks are delicious. Glad to see you two have met.”
Asami looked at Korra curiously. “You know Bolin?”
Korra nodded. “Yep. I’m a fan of probending. I often listen to the matches when I’m working late which is all the time. That and I’m also…”
Korra internally sighed as a familiar face came forward. “Hey Mako.” She noted the look of surprise and something else she couldn’t determine on Asami’s face.
“Korra ran over Mako with her moped,” explained Bolin to Asami before popping another snack into his mouth.
Asami turned her gaze to Korra. “Really?”
Korra grinned and crossed her arms. “Well actually, it was more like Mako stepped in front of my moped.” Mako huffed which only made her smile more. Annoying her boyfriend was her favorite pastime of hers as he was always wound so tight and had a quick temper. Their relationship, initially very fun and innocent as well as an opportunity for Korra to actually have a social life, was losing a bit of its steam.
As the Fire Ferrets were nearing the championship Mako had been devoting more and more time to practicing and less and less to her. Korra understood and didn’t nag him about it but then he made the charge at her that she wasn’t spending enough with him. Korra didn’t hesitate to call him out on his hypocrisy. The turning point was that night Korra was feverishly working on one of the new V8s that was going to be demonstrated tomorrow in front of a crowd of reporters, potential clients and her boss. The phone rang. It was Mako and in the rush to finalize and perfect her new engine, Korra had completely forgotten about a dinner date they had schedule for tonight. The conversation didn’t last long as Korra was in no mood to handle the sound of her boyfriend’s voice especially when he was agitated as it reached a higher octave. The phone was slammed down onto its receiver and after a period of continuous ringing the chord was ripped from the wall.
Since then apologies and overtures were made but for Korra the relationship had lost its sheen. But she was reluctant to end it. She was hoping that it would naturally end in a, hopefully, amicably way and they could continue being friends because she generally cared for Mako and there were certainly things to like about him but just wasn’t romantic partner material. But she knew deep down that wouldn’t happen, Mako certainly wouldn’t. Not to mention their relationship had already quickly progressed to the physical stage. Sex has a way of complicating things.
“Small world,” remarked Asami as she took a glass from a waiter’s tray. For a moment Korra feared that Asami might be annoyed with her for dating her teammate. Her fears were quickly put to rest when Asami took another glass of wine from the tray and handed it to her.
Asami raised her glass. “Cheers.”
Korra smiled. “Cheers.”
“Chmmers,” said Bolin through a mouthful of food. Korra and Asami laughed as Mako let out a sigh and rubbed his temples.
When Korra ventured to the banquet table to get another glass she bumped into a notable and familiar face, the blue arrow tattooed on his forehead and the unique beard stood out, but one she hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting in person.
“Councilman Tenzin.” He turned and looked down at her. He more than anyone in her life, with the exception of her father, made her feel so small. She bowed her head slightly. “Korra. Future Industries.”
He bowed back. “Nice to meet you.”
She smiled and reached over to grab a glass. She hoped to pick his brain over his vast knowledge of airbending and gliders. Hopefully such information would be helpful to her in her own pursuits in aerodynamics.
But that was quickly dashed.
“Excuse me,” he said in a monotone voice. He was already across the floor before she could say anything. She sighed and downed half of the wine in her glass in one gulp.
“You’ll have to excuse him,” came a pleasant voice. Korra turned and saw a very pregnant woman dressed in air acolyte robes walking up to her. “He’s like that. He’s more connected with the cosmos and the spiritual world than he is with other human beings.”
“So I’ve observed,” said Korra flashing a lopsided grin. She was immediately at ease with this woman whom she deduced was the councilman’s wife. In a way she reminded her of her own mother Senna.
“Pema.” Her pleasant expression suddenly changed to one of exhaustion as nearby her daughters had gotten into an intense argument. “Excuse me one moment,” she said to Korra before turning to her children. “Girls!”
At the sharp tone of her voice the argument between the two girls came to an abrupt halt as they turned with worried glances towards their mother. A second later they had their arms raised and fingers pointed at one another, ready to lay blame on the other.
“I don’t want to hear it. Don’t get me into one of my moods,” warned Pema. It must’ve been a very dangerous thing to get on the bad side of a pregnant woman as the girls clamped their mouths shut. “Where were we,” asked Pema turning back to Korra, her voice once again pleasant, “Oh yes. Please excuse my husband. Truth be told he really didn’t want Asami to attend this event. Tarrlok has been constantly harassing her to join this fight against the Equalists.”
Korra was able to spot Asami through the crowd and saw that Tarrlok had, again, been able to draw her away from her father and friends. She watched with suspicion as Tarrlock navigated Asami through the crowd, endlessly talking while Asami listened to him politely but showing some trepidation. Korra looked around to see if Hiroshi, Tenzin, Mako or Bolin were following the pair but they were wrapped up in enjoying the festivities. Well the others were, Tenzin was dealing with Meelo.
“Go on.” Korra turned back to Pema, embarrassed at having ignored her.
“I’m sorry ma’am. I meant no offens—“
Pema smiled and held up her hand. “No need to apologize. Now go. The Avatar needs to be rescued I believe.”
Korra nodded and ventured after the Avatar and the smarmy politician. She found them on the steps leading to the entry hall of the building. At the foot of the stairs was the press. Of course.
“Of course.” Korra wasn’t alone. She turned and saw that Chief Beifong stood beside her to watch the display below. “She certainly takes after her father,” said the chief in a tone that showed that her words were anything but complimentary.
She thinks that Asami is soaking all of this up, thought Korra.
She was about to respond when she heard very clearly from the crow of reporters, “Avatar Sato, you witnessed Amon take away people's bending firsthand. How serious a threat does he pose to the innocent citizens of Republic City?”
Asami nervously cleared her throat. “Well I think he does present a very clear danger to the ci—“
Even before she finished speaking there was a flurry of additional questions and more camera flashes. Korra could clearly see Asami was flustered by the bombardment of questions and was stuttering out answers.
“Well, I guess you were wrong,” said Korra sharply as she turned her attention back to the chief of police. In return she was the next victim of Beifong’s piercing glare.
“Well that girl is definitely in over her heard.”
Beifong’s words had no affect on Korra as she had turned her focus back to Asami. She had had enough of what was going on below and decided it was time to get her out of there.
After all those years of training you’d think they’d give her some public relations lessons, she thought to herself. You underwent some yourself under Hiroshi.
She remembered an incident a few years ago during an event where the latest Satomobile racer would go up against one of their competitor’s. Korra not only helped design it but also raced it as well, which got her a lot of flak from the company’s team of test drivers though she earned their respect after winning the race. While taking questions from the press afterwards she was angered by one journalist’s accusation that she had in some way cheated. Hiroshi could already foresee Korra’s reaction and quickly defused the situation before the journalist’s spectacles were permanently embedded into his face. After that she learned the ropes of dealing with snobby journalists.
She turned and started making for the stairs but stopped to look Beifong up and down. “Quite remarkable.”
“What,” asked Beifong sharply.
“It amazes me how you’re able to do your job with that stick up your ass all the time. Excuse me.” She didn’t dare turn around. She simply basked in her own little victory.
“Asami! There you are!” Korra instantly drew everyone’s attention with her best impression of every socialite she had ever met at a party. ‘Korra darling you must try this smoked salmon. Its simply divine!’ Within seconds she was now the target of the press but they suddenly ceased their questionings as Korra walked up Asami. Out of the corner of her eye she could see some of the radio reporters leaning in along with their engineers, large microphones in hand.
Asami looked bewildered at Korra’s sudden appearance and was even more bewildered when the engineer took her hand into hers.
“Come,” she said, “I want you to meet someone.” A lie but she needed to get Asami out of there.
“Excuse me, Korra is it,” said Tarrlok lightly and with a put on smile. Korra called it the Bullshit Smile. She told that Hiroshi one time, she was known rather infamously for speaking her mind. Her boss simply laughed and responded, “That’s actually what it is Korra. But if I didn’t have it and I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
“We’re in the middle of a press conference.”
Korra met his stare, which was politely telling her to shove off. “The Avatar is not obliged to hold press conferences.” Although she said this with confidence she in actuality had no idea about Avatar duties apart from keeping the world in balance. She leaned in order to say in a voice just above a whisper, “Careful councilman. Your fangs are showing.” She pulled away and said at a much higher volume so that the reporters could hear it, “By the way, my congrats to you and the misses on the new baby.”
Tarrlok stared at her dumbfounded, the press equally baffled and shocked. There was literally a beat or two of silence before the press erupted into a chorus of questions now aimed at the councilman who was longed thought to be a bachelor. He still was which was why Korra conjured up that little concoction to get the press off Asami. Tarrlok gave the reporters a grin and tried his best to laugh off the remark.
“Calm down folks. What the young lady said was in jest.” He turned to Korra to give her a glare. Korra gave him a wink in return as she led Asami up the stairs.
“Looks like I arrived just in time,” she said as they reached the top of the stairs and were soon out of eyesight of both Tarrlok and the press.
Asami gently removed her arm from Korra’s grasp. “Thank you,” she said softly, “but they had the right to ask me those questions. I should be doing something about the Equalists.”
Korra’s smile dropped as she regarded the Avatar who was now quite solemn. She could almost see the thoughts of doubt swimming around inside her head. “Avatar—“
“Just Asami please,” she said with a slight smile.
“Asami, I know this situation with the Equalists is pretty scary and it is an issue that’s not going away but frankly joining Tarrlok’s task force isn’t the answer.” Asami gaver her a questioning look. “Pema told me about his various…overtures. That and I overhead what was going on back there. This whole thing was a cheap tactic to push you into joining his little task force thing. Tarrlok couldn’t do it but having the press hoarding you might.” Asami sighed, looking quite despondent for being so easily manipulated. She opened her mouth to say something but Korra quickly continued. “They,” jerking her thumb back in the direction they had come, “don’t represent the people of this city. They’re merely looking for a headline. People are scared by the Equalist, yes. They expect the Avatar to intervene at some point, yes. But you have to make the decision of how to go about it.”
“And you think joining the task force is the wrong way?”
Korra thought about it for a moment before shrugging. “It’s the police’s business right now. If they wanted help they’d come to you.”
“Yeah well I don’t think Chief Beifong will be asking me for help anytime soon.” She paused for a moment, taking the time to glance around. Everyone was preoccupied with their own conversations to pay her or Korra any attention. “Can I confess something to you?” She looked to Korra who nodded. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Korra’s heart went out to the Avatar. It was something she could relate to. “Well, that’s how I feel most of the time.” Asami crossed her arms, clearly not convinced by this statement. “Its true,” chuckled Korra, “I can’t begin to tell you how many projects I’ve gone into with no idea of how to proceed. Do you know how many times I’ve had to disassemble and then reassemble a Satomobile? Sometimes because I left out one little piece.”
Asami chuckled. “Hopefully for the sake of the test drivers you’ve improved since.”
“I have,” said the engineer with a lopsided grin, “And now there’s significantly less wrecks during testing.”
Asami regarded with a warm smile. “You’re a very interesting person Korra.”
Korra blushed and struggled to form a response. She settled with, “I am aren’t I?” She received a playful shove from Asami.
“I have to repay you for rescuing me back there.”
Asami looped her arm around Korra’s. “I insist.”
Korra’s breath caught in her throat as Asami’s emerald eyes stared into hers. “Well, uhh. How about,” she cleared her throat, “When you have a day off, stop by Future Industries and I’ll show you what we’re working on.”
The party ended rather anti-climatically shortly after that. Asami left with Tenzin and his family and Hiroshi soon departed afterwards. Tarrlok, his plans for getting the Avatar on his side once again foiled, saw no sense in staying so he too left but not before convincing the press that the rumors of him being secretly married and a father were merely the product of Future Industries top engineer’s humorous nature. An hour later the hall was empty save for the caters packing up and Bolin trying to stuff as much food into every available pocket. His reason was that it was for Pabu.
Korra shared a cab ride home with Mako and Bolin. Even though it only took about ten minutes for the cab to pull in front of Korra’s apartment, Bolin had managed to fall into a deep sleep, the various orderves falling out of his pockets.
Korra’s apartment building was the one of a series of recently developed real estate along the waterfront. The docklands that were once there when the city was first developed had been torn down as the majority of the shipyards and docks now were lined up along the mainland. Hiroshi had set her up in this place. When she arrived in Republic City she shared an apartment with a family who had also emigrated from the Southern Water Tribe and were friends of her mother’s. It sat above a take-out place and was home to her during her two years at university before landing a temp job at Future Industries.
“Want me to come up,” asked Mako as Korra opened the door to get out.
She paused and inwardly sighed. She knew where saying ‘yes’ would lead. Not that she hadn’t any complaints about their sessions in bed, they were actually quite enjoyable and passionate. But everything outside of the bedroom was lacking and Korra was finding more and more tired of being in a romantic relationship and juggling that with her work. Simply put, thoughts of breaking up with Mako had already being in her mind for at least two months. After a particularly nasty spat she decided to break things off for good but he waited for her outside her apartment and conceded that he was idiot and apologized. They had dinner, saw show, returned to her place, had sex and the status quo remained. Now things were starting to get bad again, especially with the probending championship coming up, and Korra was reluctant to postpone the inevitable which she would certainly would by inviting him up.
She nodded at the passed out Bolin. “I think it would best to make sure he gets to bed.” Mako made it known by his facial expressions that he wasn’t too thrilled with that plan. “Goodnight Mako,” she said quickly but in a polite tone as she exited the cab. She hurried quickly to the door as she left her coat back in her workshop and the cold wind coming off the bay made it unbearable, especially in a sleeveless dress. She internally cursed Hiroshi for leaving her at the party and thought of the ways to get back at him for it. She quickly unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Her room was located on the fifth floor but she had to make a quick stop to room on the third.
“Hey Korra,” said Airi, the occupant of 303. Before she could say another word something small, fury and white tore through her apartment, maneuvered around her and threw itself into Korra’s waiting arms.
The dog barked and proceeded to lick her owner’s face.
“Yes I missed you,” laughed Korra. She looked up at Airi. “No problems I hope.”
Airi shook her head. “No she was good as usual. You trained her well. Only thing is she misses you during the day.”
Korra scratched behind Naga’s ears, which she loved. “I’ll take her work tomorrow. Give you a rest.”
Airi laughed. “Like I’m so busy.”
Korra grinned. “Well see here’s the opportunity for you to have a social life.”
“Yeah right. Goodnight Korra.”
“Goodnight Airi.” As the door closed Korra looked down at her companion who, for a long time, was Korra’s only friend in this city. Even while living in that tiny apartment during her university days she felt like an outsider to the family she was boarding with. “Alright girl. Time for bed.”
She couldn’t sleep. She sat on the edge of her bed, Naga snuggled against her side, staring out the window which overlooked Yue Bay. In the distance she saw a freighter headed out to sea to some foreign port. The small island upon which the statue of Avatar Aang sat gave off a dim greenish glow. His Water Tribe incarnation didn’t survive long. He died at only seven years old of illness. It was a pretty big blow to Water Tribe pride as this was the second Waterbender Avatar who didn’t live long.
Beyond the Avatar’s statue was Air Temple Island.
“You’re a very interesting person Korra.”
Korra huffed. “Yeah right. Like me and her would ever happen.” Korra’s feelings towards other women was only known to her parents after she confessed them to her mother one night in a panic. Her mother assured her that it was perfectly normal and there was nothing wrong with it. Still it made Korra feel lonely and a bit more of an outcast in addition to having no bending abilities. Nothing much came of it except some crushes here and there, all of them she was too afraid to approach. If she couldn’t approach the girl next to her in an advanced geometry class or the secretary to the assistant director at Future Industries, how in the world could she ever approach, let alone flirt with, the Avatar of all people.
“It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“If its’ not a problem I would love to visit your workship when I have a day off.”
“She was just being nice”, she thought glumly. “You think its possible,” she asked the slumbering Naga. Naga’s ears perked up briefly before settling down. She had heard Korra’s voice but it didn’t say any of the trigger words like ‘food’, ‘treat’ or ‘walk’ so she ignored it. “Maybe you can help me out. Brilliant engineer and her canine companion. Good image. What’s not to love?” Naga yawned and rolled onto her side. Korra rolled her eyes and patted Naga’s belly. “Alright. Go to sleep you lout.”
Eventually Korra settled on the bed. From far off she could hear one of the large ships sound its horn as it set off to sea. Maybe it was going to the South Pole. It had been so long since she had been home. There simply wasn’t any time to do so. She made a mental note to call her parents tomorrow during her break.
At this point she went to sleep as she remembered the early morning meeting she had tomorrow.
“I have to repay you for rescuing me back there.”
Korra groaned and pulled the sheets over her head.
Chapter 3: Intruders
Being back in Republic City has stirred up a lot of different emotions for Asami as well as some painful memories.
Sorry for the delay in getting this chapter out and apologies if this one is a little short. Thanks so much for the kudos and comments!
Across the bay on Air Temple Island Asami too was having difficulty sleeping. Now that she was alone in her room and the house was silent there was nothing now to distract from multitude of thoughts and emotions that had been plaguing her ever since she returned to the city.
The immediate one was Amon. She didn’t think much of Amon when she first heard of him. Just another rebellious individual who was trying to invoke change through shady means. But when she saw him at the Equalist meeting, saw him how he hid his face behind a mask, heard his voice which was cool and seductive, saw how he was able to take away someone’s bending ability and witnessed how the crowd reacted to it shook her to her core. This was not going to be an easy fight. This Equalist group was anything but small. They had a lot of supporters and their foot soldiers were well trained to take on any bender. They were able to take on both her and Mako that night.
Then there was the issue of what they were fighting for. She wasn’t exactly up to date on the political climate of the city but she could see some validation to the argument that non-benders did not much power compared to those who were benders. It didn’t help that a large portion of the city’s police department were metalbenders led by a chief who was a metalbender.
But the events that Asami witnessed only a few nights ago showed that this group was gearing up for a fight. They didn’t want to demand any laws or representation in the government, they wanted everyone to be equal by taking away bending altogether.
Asami sighed and flopped down on the bed. She thought about what her airbender predecessor Aang would’ve done. She tried her best not to read the opinion pieces in the newspapers but she couldn’t help it. She wanted to know what people’s opinion about her was. It wasn’t good. Comparisons to Avatar Aang were evitable. They certainly couldn’t compare her to Avatar Siku who barely knew of his own identity as the Avatar before succumbing to illness.
Asami remembered when she learned her unique abilities. Unfortunately this came with the destruction of Yasuko Sato’s garden. Not that she minded. Despite the mess Yasuko couldn’t wait for Hiroshi to get home that evening to show him.
Her parents contacted the White Lotus and it was agreed to start her training when she reached the age of fifteen, in the meantime keeping her identity as the Avatar a secret.
Asami’s hands clutched the bed sheets tighter. When thinking of her mother her thoughts always led to what happened two years later.
The night the intruders came.
She was eight when it happened. Her father had taken her to a science exhibition that was being held downtown. Her mother stayed at home as she had been suffering from a cold that week. During the course of the evening she had sent most of the staff home while a few remained to catch up on some work.
Asami and Hiroshi arrived home just after eleven. The whole way home Asami rambled on and on about the various inventions she had seen demonstrated. She in particular found a young inventor named Varrick quite interesting.
“Oh he’s interesting,” Hiroshi had said, “He’s quite the salesman. He could sell ice boxes in the Water Tribe.”
Their lively conversation continued as Hiroshi steered the Satomobile up the driveway, coming to a halt in front of the main entrance of the house. Once the two walked through the door and stepped into the foyer their conversation ceased and a feeling of unease settled over the both of them.
The house was dark with only a few small lamps illuminating the large interior of the entryway. It was quiet too. Asami was about to speak, perhaps continue their conversation but Hiroshi’s hand found her shoulder and he signaled her to remain quiet. She couldn’t remember how long they stood there. After a while she felt the whole was silly. It was going to be midnight soon and her mother was probably already asleep. She was going to raise this point but she heard her father’s breath catch.
Then it hit her. A strange smell assaulted her nostrils. She sniffed and was repulsed by it. It smelt…burnt. Her young mind searched for reasons for this. Did her mother try to cook something and burned it? If she did, why didn’t she let the staff do it for her?
“Come Asami,” Hiroshi took her hand and quickly ushered her into one of the side rooms.
Hiroshi shushed her as they entered his study. He let go of her hand and went over to his desk. He produced a key from his pocket and unlocked one of the desk drawers. Asami saw a lamp nearby and walked towards it to turn it on so he could see what he was doing.
“Don’t,” whispered Hiroshi.
Asami turned to him. “Daddy what’s going on?”
Hiroshi reached into the drawer and began fiddling with something. “Asami,” he said calmly, “I’m going to go upstairs and check on your mother. I’m sure its nothing but I want you to stay here.”
“Asami,” he said in an exasperated tone. Even in the dim light Asami could see her father was scared. “Please. No more questions now.” He turned his attention back to the desk drawer. Asami walked towards him to see what he was fiddling with and she came to a halt when she saw what it was. In one of his hands was a scabbard and in the other a long blade that he was removing from a large case that had been fitted into the bottom drawer of the desk.
With shaky hands he attached the blade to the scabbard and clicked it into place. He turned to his daughter and again took her hand. He guided to a nearby window, which he unlocked and opened.
“Listen to me Asami,” he said firmly, “If you hear anything or if I don’t come back into this room I want you to jump out this window and run.” She opened her mouth and Hiroshi grabbed her shoulders, moving his face closer to her. “You run. Understand? Don’t look back. You know these grounds like the back of your hand. Use that to your advantage.” Asami again tried to speak but Hiroshi gave her forehead a kiss. “No questions Asami. Just do as I ask.”
With that he stood and made his way quietly out of the room, the short sword clutched in his hands. From where she stood she could see him walk slowly across the foyer towards the stairs. He took each step one at a time. Soon he disappeared from view.
Asami held her breath as she waited with anticipation. She started counting in her head in order to measure how long he had been gone. After a short period of time she managed to calm herself down a little. Any moment her father would return along with her mother. Her father’s nerves got the better of him. Her mother would tell her that its time for bed and they would head upstairs to—
There was suddenly yelling coming from upstairs. It was her father. She couldn’t make out what he was saying but he was either screaming or yelling. This was followed by a loud crash. Asami froze where she was, her hands clutched tight in front of her, her heart beating faster and faster in her chest. Suddenly there was an orange glow emanating from upstairs and she felt heat on her face before there was loud boom that sounded like thunder. The house shook. Furniture toppled over and various items around the room were suddenly displaced. Outside in the foyer bits of ceiling came crashing down onto the floor.
There was more yelling now and Asami could tell that these voices were not her father or any of the staff. She could hear footsteps now. They were running and they weren’t coming from upstairs. Asami found herself backing towards the window. The footsteps were getting louder. Asami turned to the window. They were closing in now for their steps clattered on marble, which placed them in the foyer. Asami quickly hopped up onto the window ledge and jumped.
She fell about six feet onto a bush and with some effort she managed to pry herself loose. As soon as her feet touched the ground she was running. She headed directly for the garden and the only place where she felt she would be safe. There was a spot in the garden underneath an oak tree surrounded by tall hedges, accessible only by crawling under the hedge. Asami did not take in account that she only accessed this hiding spot during the day. But her instincts, somehow enhanced by the tremendous fear that had threatened to weak her resolve and make her crumble into a crying mess, guided her to the spot. She hit the dirt and scrambled underneath the hedge. As soon as she cleared the hedge she held her breath and halted any movement.
Nothing. Not even the usual nocturnal sounds of owls or insects.
The silence was unbearable and Asami fought every urge to venture from her secluded spot.
She didn’t know how long it had been when the silence was broken by the sound of multiple footsteps. They were getting closer and Asami clamped a hand over her mouth as they stopped on the other side of the hedge. There was a moment or two of silence before a voice spoke.
“She’s just behind this hedge. You two stay back. I’ll get her out,” the voice was female. When the voice spoke again it was louder, the tone gentle but firm. “Asami Sato? This is the Republic City Police Department. It’s alright now. You can come out.” Asami didn’t say anything. “Smart kid,” muttered the voice. “Ms. Sato please come out. We’ve got the perpetrators in custody and your father is receiving medical attention. He’s going to be alright.” Again Asami didn’t say anything or move. “Alright,” said the voice with a sigh, “I’m coming in. Just please don’t bend anything at me.”
Asami scrambled away as the small ditch under the hedge became deeper and a figure started crawling towards her. But she didn’t run or defend herself with bending for a part of her believed the voice. Her instinct was proven correct when the figure stood up and clicked on a flashlight. In the dim light Asami could make out the sleek black and gray armor the figure standing before her was wearing along with the gold badge that was attached to it.
The officer was a middle aged woman with short black hair that already had some grey creeping into it. Her facial features were piercing but they soften as soon as they made contact with the child.
Getting down on one knee the officer spoke again, “It’s alright Asami. Come on. Let’s get you out of here.”
“Where’s Daddy,” asked Asami, tears forming in her eyes.
“He’s alright,” said the officer, “He’s hurt but its nothing serious.”
Asami slowly got to her feet and started walking towards the officer whose hand was held out for her to take. “And what about Mommy?”
The officer hesitated before shaking her head. “I don’t know. I believe she was taken along with her father to the hospital. I’m going to take you there.”
At those words Asami gladly took the officer’s hand if it meant being reunited with her parents again.
Upon exiting the garden Asami could see the grounds were crawling with police officers. The once dark estate was now illuminated by car headlights and flashing colored lights. It was into one of these police vehicles that Asami was led.
She gently tugged at the officer’s hand. “What’s your name?”
The name struck a chord with Asami. “Beifong,” she said softly, “I know that name.”
Hiroshi Sato had survived his encounter with the intruders who had broken into the Sato Mansion. Yasuko Sato and the house staff who had remained with her that night weren’t so lucky. The story made headlines as both Hiroshi and Yasuko were public figures and the press and public couldn’t get enough of the couple and their daughter. Now they soaked up the senseless tragedy. It was through threats of legal action and a tense phone call that Hiroshi was able to deter a magazine from publishing crime scene photographs it had obtained, some of which included photos of Yusko and her staff’s bodies.
The official report from the police was that the perpetrators were never found although there were initial reports that some suspects were taken into custody. Although those reports were later dismissed by Chief Beifong, the press kept on the story but without any additional information the story, along with calls for justice, started to fade.
A year later the police department announced that those who were responsible for the break-in had been killed during a police raid of a Triad warehouse.
It wasn’t until she turned fifteen that Asami was announced as the next Avatar and started her training. Until that time her father forbid her revealing her bending abilities outside the house and even at home she was restricted to where and when she could practice her earthbending along with what she could do with waterbending. She didn’t protest her father’s demands. After everything they had been through she didn’t want to be the cause of any division between the two of them.
The night at the hospital where Hiroshi, still in his bed with bandages on his face and arms, told Asami about her mother’s death, the two made a promise with one another to stick together and be there for each other. When Asami left with the White Lotus to travel the world and master the elements, it was one of the most emotional days of her life as she said her goodbyes to her father. Hiroshi assured her that he would be fine, he had his company to keep occupied.
Asami had stood at the rear of the ship as it pulled out of the harbor and headed out to sea. She stayed there and watched as Republic City got smaller and smaller until it was a distant speck on the horizon.
Now more than five years she was back home and a terrible unease had settled in the moment she had arrived back. Despite assurances from Tenzin and others that they will handle Amon and the Equalists, she felt like her first test as the Avatar was fast approaching and she hadn’t even learned to enter the Avatar State let alone mastered air yet.
The thought of airbending prompted Asami to reach over to the nightstand and grab the clock to decipher what time it was. She let out a groan when she saw that it was almost three in the morning. She had a busy day tomorrow with practice with Mako and Bolin in the morning and meditation with Tenzin in the afternoon as well as another crack at the air gate which, despite a careful approach she managed to get knocked around and spat out on her first and subsequent tries. She was quickly discovering that airbending was more spiritual than technical as the other elements had been. True, airbending does have specific moves one can try and master but one needs to unlock something within themselves to even produce a puff of air. So far Asami hadn’t been able to achieve this and Tenzin wasn’t exactly helpful by being cryptic in his lectures.
“Ugh stop,” she groaned. All these thoughts were merely keeping her up. She forced herself to think of something else or nothing at all.
“My workshop is always opened to you.”
Asami felt her cheeks grow warm as her thoughts turned to Korra. The soft voice, the long brown hair, the bright blue eyes, soft brown skin—
“Stop,” groaned Asami. “This isn’t helping.” She sighed, moving her hands behind her and resting her head on top of them, staring up at the ceiling.
Korra was stirring up a lot of conflicting feelings within her. Firstly there was the obvious physical attraction to her. One that went back a year when she read an article in a copy of the Republic City Dispatch while having breakfast with her firebending instructor. The article was about the Sato racer (officially named the S1) winning the Great Trans Race held that year in Omashu. The photo that accompanied the article was of her father and Korra posing with the S1.
From her father’s letters he had mentioned this new engineer he had found working as an assistant in the Satomobile design team, promoted to a lead position and was coming up with some revolutionary designs. “While everyone is content with maintaining the status quo when it comes to design and engineering,” wrote her father, “she’s one of the few who’s constantly asking ‘What’s next?’”
Viewing the photograph was the first time she had laid eyes on the Water Tribe woman and tonight, despite her calm exterior, she was quite flustered meeting her in person. She also sensed the possibly Korra had similar feelings towards her.
“Oh come on,” she said to herself, “Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Besides she’s with Mako.”
She paused and thought back to the interactions between Korra and Mako at the gala. There was a sense of unease between the two of them, at least that’s what she thought. The fact that Mako didn’t even mention her the two weeks Asami had known him and Bolin, and Korra hadn’t been to any of the matches or practices during that time.
Until tonight Asami had had her eye on Mako. Despite his moody attitude she couldn’t deny there was a certain charm to him when he lightened up, as rare as that was. But that was before the revelation tonight. Now it seemed that possibly both of them might be available soon.
“Forget it Sato.”
Asami wrapped her blanket tight around herself and buried her face in the pillow.
“The chances of that are astronomical.”
It took a while before she finally fell asleep but not before picturing those sapphire eyes once again.
Chapter 4: Taking Up an Offer
In the present, Korra awakens in Zaofu and the events of the day come rushing back to her.
A year prior and following the gala, Asami visits Korra in her workshop and the two go to lunch to get to know one another.
Sorry for the lateness of this update but this one is a bit longer so I hopefully that makes up for it a bit.
Song referenced: "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" by The Ink Spots
Huge thanks to Willoghby (http://willoghby.tumblr.com/) for her wonderful artwork of Korra and her dream project: the Spitfire
Korra woke abruptly to complete darkness. After a second some of the disorientation wore off and Korra began to panic as she felt a weight on her chest. She sat up and whatever was pressing down on her disappeared. Before Korra could act any further she felt something cold and wet touch and lick her cheek.
“Naga,” she said with a sigh of relief. Her eyes adjusted enough to see the white outline of her canine companion. Naga continued to nuzzle and lick her face. It was times like these she was grateful for having the dog in her life. She sat up a bit and wrapped her arms around Naga, pulling her closer. Naga responded by resting her head on Korra’s chest.
Korra glanced around the room to make out her surroundings. She wasn’t the only occupant in the room. A few feet away from her was another bed and in it was her father still dressed in the clothes he wore to the battle hours earlier.
Zaofu. I’m in Zaofu.
A rush of unpleasant and unwelcomed memories flooded Korra’s mind and she tried her best to flush them out. After leaving the airship Tonraq had quickly guided Korra to one of the many guest rooms. After briefly greeting Naga who had come running as soon as she disembarked from the airship, she collapsed onto the bed and quickly fell asleep. She was not only tired but also hoping that day’s events were all some horrible nightmare.
Korra wanted to get up but the rest of her body wouldn’t respond. A part of her didn’t want to know how the Avatar was because she was afraid of the answer. Despite witnessing Suyin removing the metallic poison from Asami’s body, she knew her friend was in bad shape.
In the end her worn out body and the frightened voice in her head won as Korra remained in bed for the rest of the night. She pulled Naga closer to her and buried her face in the soft white fur. It didn’t take long for her to fall back asleep.
To those who know Korra it is well known that once she gets to work tinkering with something her attention is one hundred percent focused on the task at hand. The world could come to an end and she would be none the wiser.
Today she was ninety-five percent focused on her work with the new Satomobile engine, the other five percent was towards the radio playing a familiar tune that Korra often found herself singing along to.
“’I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to start a flame in your heart,” sang Korra as she leaned down into the deep pit of the new Satomobile engine she was working on. She wore a gray jumpsuit that had blotches of oil and grease on it and her hair was pulled back into a ponytail. “In my heart I have but one desire, and that one is you. No other will do. I’ve all lost all ambition for world acclaim, I just want to be the one you love. And with your admission that you feel the same, I’ll have the goal I’m dreaming of, Believe m—“
Korra ceased singing when she realized during the last couple lines that it had become a duet.
“Good afternoon Korra,” said a familiar voice that made Korra bolt upright. She was thankful that she had removed the car hood beforehand or else she’d be seeing stars right now. “Sorry I couldn’t resist. I like that song.”
Korra took a deep breath to calm herself before turning to face her boss’ daughter. “Good to know you have good taste in music.” Asami’s wardrobe today was different although Korra didn’t expect her to be wearing the same dress as the night before. Instead she wore a dark red tunic, burgundy colored pants and tall black boots.
“I hope I wasn’t disturbing you,” asked Asami nervously.
Korra waved a hand. “Nah you’re fine. Besides your family owns this company. So if you wanted to you could go around bothering everyone and no one would say anything.” Korra walked over to the workbench and picked up her coffee cup, looking disappointed upon discovering that the cup was empty.
Asami chuckled. “I would never do tha—Oh! Hello.” Korra turned her head to see Naga had gotten up from her bed that was in the corner of the room and had approached Asami, tail wagging.
“Naga, don’t be a snoop.”
“It’s fine,” said Asami as she leaned down, extended her hand for Naga to sniff. It wasn’t necessary as Naga generally liked everyone but Naga sniffed the offered hand anyway before giving it a lick and moving in closer. Asami responded by rubbing Naga’s neck. “Hello Naga. What a beautiful dog you are.” She looked up at Korra. “I’m guessing she?”
“You are correct,” said Korra with a grin.
“Oh what beautiful girl you are,” said Asami as she got down one knee so that she was eye level with Naga who responded by licking Asami’s face.
“Naga,” said Korra disapprovingly.
“No its fine,” laughed Asami, “Once you’ve gotten a lick from a sky bison, a dog’s lick is mild in comparison.” She stood up which upset Naga but she relaxed when Asami continued to pet her as she looked around Korra’s workshop, her eyes settling on the engine Korra had been working on. “So is this your latest project?” Asami looked from the car to Korra and saw the engineer wore a lopsided grin. That grin is going to be the death of me isn’t it?
“Yep,” said Korra beaming, “Orders from the top brass.”
Asami smirked knowing who ‘top brass’ was. “How long have you been working on it?”
“Oh since nine this morning.”
Asami raised an eyebrow. “All this since nine?”
Korra chuckled. “No, if I was I’d be looking quite dead now. Not to mention I’d probably have a lot more muscle on my arms than these puny things,” she said as she flexed an arm to show how thin it was. She put it down when she realized that she was still wearing her jumpsuit that wasn’t illustrating her point very well given the baggy sleeves. She awkwardly cleared her throat and walked towards the car. “The engine is from our 200 series. For this,” she said tapping the side of the car, “I need to design a whole engine for this one for this,” tapping the engine, “is too heavy. So before I begin to come up with designs for a new engine I wanted to see what I could use from the old one. So I had the guys from parts bring me a 200 engine and so here I am fiddling with it to see what I can modify. Once I get it down to a certain weight I can work with and the performance matches what is expected from this model then I can start on designing the new engine.” Korra looked over Asami and saw her smiling at her. She couldn’t resist looking at those emerald eyes of hers. Those are going to be the death of me. “Sorry if I rambled there.”
“Oh no you’re fine,” said Asami moving closer, “One of the reasons why I stopped by. I’ve been gone for so long that I need a lot of catching up on what’s in the works. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the 200 series?”
“200 series is the sports version of the Satomobile essentially. Your father keeps coming up with fancy names for them but we just refer to it as 200 based off the model number.”
“I see,” says Asami with a nod, “Is there an expected deadline for this model?”
“Sometime next year so I have plenty of time to get this sorted out,” as Korra said this she placed a hand on the engine so she could lean on it and by doing so she knocked a piece off and it fell down into the depths of the engine. Korra closed her eyes and took a deep breath. If she didn’t have company she’d be swearing up a storm as it would take an hour just to find where that piece had gone. She felt a hand touched her shoulder. She opened her eyes.
“There was another reason why I stopped by,” said Asami, “I wanted to ask if you wanted to go to lunch.” She looked at the engine. “I think you could use it right about now.”
“Oh,” said Korra surprised, “Uhh yes. That would be nice. So we’ll just pop down to the canteen?”
“I had someplace else in mind. If you don’t mind of course. I don’t want to interrupt your work.”
Korra looked at the engine. “Yeah I could use a break. Let me just clean up and we’ll go.” She walked over to her workbench removed her gloves and undid her ponytail, letting down her hair. “Will this place allow Naga?” She turned back to Asami to see her staring at her.
“Hmm,” asked Asami, who was mentally kicking herself for starring.
“If you don’t mind I’d like Naga to come along with us.”
“Oh. Yeah this place has tables outside so I think they’d be fine with her.”
Korra unzipped her jumpsuit. “Great. Just give me a few minutes and we’ll go.” Korra tossed her gloves onto her workbench and disappeared into an adjacent room.
While she waited Asami walked around the workshop examining various machine parts that littered the floor and various tables. But what really drew her eye were the designs that were tacked onto the bulletin board over the workbench. She saw detailed and intricate designs for Satomobiles, airships and airplanes, some were rough sketches while some looked like advertisements.
“Anything catch your eye?”
Asami jumped a little and saw Korra emerge from the other room, scrubbing her face with a towel. She was dressed very formally in black pants, a light blue dress shirt and a dark blue vest.
“Were you dressed like that underneath that jumpsuit,” asked Asami.
“Yeah I had meeting this morning. Soon as I got in here it was straight to work. I’m usually more casual when I work. But investors pop around all the time and Mr. Sato wants everyone looking their best and brightest.” She looked up at the board. “So what do you think?”
“I think they’re quite fantastic,” said Asami, her eyes turning back to the various drawings. “You certainly have an artistic eye. You could work in promotions if you wanted to.” Asami nodded to a particular drawing that showed a Future Industries airship flying over Republic City at sunset.
“Benefits of taking art classes in college.” Korra leaned forward and tapped a drawing of an airplane. “This one here is my favorite. I hope it’ll be my next project.”
The plane was quite different from the ones Future Industries was building at the moment. For one it wasn’t a biplane, it had an enclosed cockpit and its designs was much more sleek.
“I call it the Spitfire,” said Korra with a grin.
“I think its great,” said Asami, “I would definitely love to see it fly. Why the name Spitfire though?”
“Well its something I’ve been labeled around here and at home so why not embrace it?” Korra says while showing off that grin again that Asami was pretty sure she was falling in love with.
“So, are you a pilot yourself? You seem to know how to handle machines just as well as you do designing as evidence by your win at the auto race in Omashu.”
Korra chuckled. “Oh well that’s very kind of you to say. I’m actually taking lessons right now with one of the test pilots, Naoki. So far I know how to take off but not to land.”
“That’s kind of an important step.” The two women shared a laugh over that and some of the nervousness felt by both diminished a bit. “So my father is really pushing forward with this plane division?”
“Oh he is. Of course he had to do quite a bit of persuading to get people to sign up to be test pilots. He managed to pull some men from his airship crews with the promise of a higher salary. Anyway, hopefully when I’m done with this,” said Korra gesturing towards the work-in-progress Satomobile, “I’ll be able to transfer over to aviation.”
“Well,” said Asami leaning up against the workbench, “I can always persuade my father to transfer you.”
Korra looked at her surprised before bowing her head. “Oh that’s very nice of you Ms. Sat—Asami. But being the Avatar you really shouldn’t worry about a mere humble engineer.”
“Oh,” said Asami softly with a big smirk on her face, “Are you so humble?”
Korra looked up with a cocky grin. “Very much so. I so rarely polish all the awards I’ve won.”
“I bet they’re even sitting in an old shoe box,” said Asami although she didn’t know how she managed to keep with the playful banter since the combination of Korra’s blue eyes and lopsided grin were destroying her. “But seriously,” she said standing up straight, “it really wouldn’t be a problem. Besides at least I’d being doing something useful around here.”
“Oh come now,” said Korra walking over to the adjacent wall to retrieve a dog leash from a hook. Naga immediately went over to her, tail wagging. “We know more about this creep Amon thanks to you and Mako.”
“Our esteemed chief of police doesn’t—“
“Oh forget her,” said Korra attaching the lease to Naga’s collar, “The Avatar is tasked with bringing balance to the world. You can’t let one chief of police prevent you from doing your job. You’re going to have to deal world leaders. She’s small fry in comparison.”
“She’s quite intimidating though.”
Korra grinned. “You should see my Dad when I brought home my first boyfriend.”
Hiang’s noodle shop was located only a few blocks from Future Industries Tower. The lunch crowd had already come and gone so Korra and Asami were only one of a handful customers sitting outside in the shade of the building’s awning. Naga lay on her side asleep, a bowl of water only a few feet away from her.
Things seemed to alternate between calm and awkward as the two struggled to come up with topics of conversation to keep the conversation going. It was easier when the food arrived as they took the time to eat but also it opened a new topic of conversation. Asami talked about all the interesting foods she tasted in her travels while Korra noted that almost all of them could be found in Republic City.
Both women tried their hardest not to stare at one another too long and would pull their gaze away to look at a passing streetcar and glance up at the sky as if something interesting was going on up there.
During the course of their meal Korra had found something else besides the Avatar’s emerald eyes and flowing hair, which was tied up in a ponytail today, to focus on and that was her muscles that were clearly outlined even under her tunic and arm wraps. Korra noted her own slim arms and was beginning to regret she didn’t hit the gym as often as she promised herself.
Asami was still entranced by Korra’s eyes even in the dim light. She also noticed the little mannerisms Korra would do such as tuck a stand of hair behind her eye, which actually made Asami bite her lip (she was quick to recover by popping a dumpling into her mouth), or fiddling with a bracelet that had a little charm on it that had the Water Tribe symbol carved on it.
“You know I think we have a mutual friend,” said Korra swallowing her noodles.
Asami sat up in her chair. “Yes! She was my first instructor. Well actually my second since technically my first was my Earthbending instructor. But Katara was the first one who taught me after I left home. I’m thankful for it now as I don’t think I could have handled my firebending teacher at that time. It was my first time away from home and from Dad. Katara really make me comfortable and was really one of the few members of the White Lotus who actually treated me like a human being. Everyone else only saw me as the Avatar and the only positive interaction I had with them was when I was doing something right.”
“What about Councilman Tenzin,” said Korra pouring tea into her cup.
Asami sighed and leaned on the table. “He’s coming around. When he’s teaching me I’m the Avatar and when we’re just talking about something unrelated, which is rare, I feel he’s actually addressing me…if that makes any sense.”
“Makes perfect sense.” Korra stirred her tea and lifted it to take a sip.
“So are you a waterbender?”
Korra froze for a second before taking a sip and placing her cup on the table. “No,” she said softly, “I wanted to be though. The day Katara told me straight that any bending ability I had would’ve resonated by then. I was eight or nine at the time.”
The mood became a little somber and Asami was now regretting that question. “That must’ve been tough.” Smooth Sato. Real smooth.
Korra nodded. “It was for a while. I still had my parents’ love, which is always important. There were plenty of others who were nonbenders that had managed to get on just fine. But…I felt like I was destined for more. I didn’t want to spend my life pulling fishnets out of the sea or crafting tables or whatever. I wanted more than that. Being a waterbender would’ve opened up so many more opportunities. At the very least I could’ve been a healer and helped people.” Korra’s fingers were slowly rotating the teacup around in its saucer. “Anyway, it wasn’t the life that I was destined for.”
Asami leaned forward in her chair. “Korra I’m sorry for bringing this—“
Korra held up her hand and shook her head. “No, no its fine. I’ve made peace with it a while ago. I was lost for a while but then I discovered I had this…knack for building things. My Mom got my involved in a craft shop. At first I was opposed to it. In fact I would just sit in the corner fuming. The woman who ran the workshop was incredibly patient and didn’t push me or anything. She said that if I wanted to participate or not was my choice. First day I did absolutely nothing. Just sat there until my Mom picked me up.”
“Quite committed weren’t you?”
“Damn right,” said Korra with a grin. “I was even more furious when my Mom said I would go back the next day.”
“I don’t want to go back,” whined Korra as she sat at the kitchen table, barely eating her dinner.
“Sweetie, you didn’t even give it a chance,” said Senna gently, “How can you know you don’t like it if you don’t give it a try?”
“Because I’ll fail at it that’s why,” yelled Korra who trying to hold back the tears that were starting to form in her eyes.
“You don’t know that for certain sweetheart,” said Tonraq, also gentle but a bit firmer in his tone.
“Oh yes I do,” said Korra stabbing at her vegetables and shoving them into her mouth, “What am I supposed to learn? How to make little trinkets for tourists to buy? Oh yeah. How’s that suppose to look?” She pointed her fork at her father. “Tribal leader.” She turned it towards her mother. “Healer.” Towards herself. “Seller of worthless junk.”
“Korra,” said Senna, “You shouldn’t have to hold yourself to your father or I. We just want you to do something that makes you happy.”
Korra slammed her fork onto the table. “There’s only one thing that would make me happy and I can’t do it!” No matter how hard she tried to hold back her tears they were soon welling up in her eyes and spilling over onto her cheek and tunic. “Do you know how hard it is? Watching you two work with water. Hearing Katara’s stories. Then when it’s my turn, nope! Sorry! You don’t get bending abilities by little Nastiq across the way whose constantly getting his tongue stuck to something gets it!”
Korra crossed her arms and put on her infamous pout. She did this to insure she didn’t fling her plate across the room. Tonraq and Senna exchanged worried glances. Many nights they had stayed up and talked about Korra. After her visit with Katara, Korra would often cry herself to sleep with her parents at her bedside. Sometimes they would wake at the sound of their daughter’s quiet sobbing. Nowadays Korra kept to herself, rarely engaging with any of her friends or anyone else.
Even Katara couldn’t get through to her. She stopped by a few weeks after that visit with an offer to spend an afternoon with her and Korra turned her down, retreating to her room to sulk.
“I hate this,” said Korra closing her eyes, “I hate being worthless.”
This got her parents out of their chairs and to her side.
“You’re not worthless sweetie,” said Senna kissing her daughter’s cheek and wiping her tears away.
“You need to give it some time Korra,” said Tonraq, “You will find something that will grab your interest and become your passion.”
“I’m not going to find it making stupid chairs or foot stools,” said Korra with a sniff.
“Building a chair is just the first step,” said Senna softly. “You might build bigger things one day.”
“Yeah,” sniffed Korra, running her arm under to nose to wipe it, “a dresser.” Tonraq couldn’t help but chuckle despite the glare from his wife. “You might as well just put me on a block of ice and send me out to sea.”
“Korra we’ve never done that,” said Tonraq chuckling, “That’s just a myth. Besides why would we? We’d be wasting good food.” Tonraq laughed harder as he got a chuckle out of Korra and earned a slap on the arm from Senna.
As the laughter died down so did Korra’s tears. “I don’t want to be like this. I just want to be good at something.”
The tight embrace from both her parents did settle her but the question remained unanswered and Korra dreaded the day when she’d received it.
“So you went back,” asked Asami.
Korra nodded. “I did. I went in with a better attitude. Still didn’t think it would lead anywhere. But it got me out of the house and doing something. Anyway to make a long story short I got better and better at it. When it came to electronics I didn’t understand a thing so I set myself to learning about it. I found myself in need as there weren’t any electrical repairmen in the Southern Water Tribe and I was the only one who had the knowledge to fiddle around with wires and not electrocute myself. Then came vehicles, namely snowplows. Not to mention I built gadgets of my own. Nothing ground breaking but it was something. Enough for my parents to decide to get me into a technical university here.”
“Was it difficult making the move?”
“Very. I stayed with ‘friends’ of my father’s. A couple. They owned this apartment uptown along with their two sons and the wife’s mother. Things were okay at first but as I progressed through college living with them began to become a pain. They’d never save any of their food for me as I arrived home late from classes and I’d get the stink eye for taking just a piece of bread from their pantry. I was ‘stealing food from the young children’s mouths’,” said Korra with a roll of her eyes.
“They actually said that?”
“Not an exact quote but something along those lines. Two times I was threatened with being kicked out but a phone conversation with my Dad prevented that from happening. I don’t know exactly what was said but I would not have liked being on the receiving end of that conversation. But we did eventually part ways thanks to the Noggs here,” she said leaning down to rub Naga’s side. “A friend and classmate of mine convinced me that having a pet would improve my life. I disagreed saying that it would only cause more stress but she keep listing all the emotional benefits of having a pet so I gave up and went to a local animal shelter with her. I was thinking about getting a cat or rabbit, something that could manage being on its own while I was at class but then as I walking down this corridor with cages on either side of me I spotted this small ball of white fluff lying on the floor. I bent down for a closer look and it moved and then I see three black dots: two eyes and a nose.” Korra smiled and looked down at her canine companion. “It was over after that. No matter what she was leaving with me. I found out while filling out the paperwork that it was her last day to be adopted so there was no way I was leaving her there.”
“I can’t imagine that went over with the family you were boarding with.”
Korra shook her head. “Nope. They weren’t having her in the house so I left.”
Asami raised her eyebrows. “You left?” Korra nodded. “So where did you go?”
“I stayed with my friend. Crashed on her couch. I didn’t have much at the time so making the move was easy. Once I got the job at Future Industries I was able to afford a small apartment for a short while. Then your father gave me a shot at being on his Satomobile design team and well here I am.”
“Where are you living now? Same place?”
“No, once I got a salary raise after some of my designs were accepted, I got a new place.” Korra finished off the rest of her tea. “But we’ve gotten off track. Katara.”
“Oh right,” said Asami with a sheepish smile, “Sorry about that.”
“No you wanted to know more about me and I provided a cliff notes version of it. Anyway, I remained very good friends with Katara. I helped out her often with things around her healing hut or pestered her to tell me stories of her adventures with Aang and Team Avatar. Until one day,” said Korra sitting back in her chair, “I approached the healing hut and a White Lotus soldier told me to buzz off.” Asami looked confused. “Also Katara was making a lot of trips up to the White Lotus compound, the reason she couldn’t tell me.”
“Ah,” said Asami as she got what Korra was referring to.
“Yep. We almost met. But your bodyguards shooed me away.”
Asami smiled as raised her teacup. “But you have to admit some of them were kinda cute.”
Korra laughed. “I didn’t know you went for the balding gray haired ones.”
Asami frowned. She placed her teacup back on the table and threw her napkin at her. “You know the ones I meant!”
Korra leaned her elbows on the table and continued laughing. “Pema better watch out. She’s got competition.”
“Stop,” said Asami, who herself was laughing too but it was more that she found the sight of Korra laughing endearing. “Besides Tenzin doesn’t have gray hair.”
“Oh well,” said Korra as she tossed the napkin Asami had thrown at her onto the table, “I guess Pema doesn’t have anything to worry about.”
The two continued laughing. Naga whined and tried to bury her head between her paws in an effort to drown out the noise. Her attention was suddenly attracted to something small and familiar that was quickly approaching the table.
Korra and Asami were caught off guard when something small and orange leapt onto the table, knocking over teacups and rattling silverware.
“Pabu,” said Korra with a shake of her head, leaning forward to pick up the troublesome creature before it made for their food.
“Hi Bolin,” said Asami, turning in her seat towards the young earthbender who had just exited the shop holding a large brown paper bag in his hands and was staring at the two women with wide eyes.
“…H-H-Hi uhh…Asami…Korra,” stuttered Bolin, “Ah! Korra. I see you managed to snag a hold of Pabu.” Bolin held the bag under one arm and extended the other out towards the troublesome ferret. “Come on Pabu. Let’s leave Asami and Korra alone.” Pabu leapt from Korra’s hands onto Bolin’s arm, scurrying upwards to its favorite spot, perched on Bolin’s shoulder.
“Do you want to join us,” asked Asami.
“Oh no I got to get back,” Bolin said, lifting the bag, “Mako’s waiting for me and you know how he is…So…See you later!” With that Bolin turned and walked away, his pace quickening as he made his way down the block.
“Well,” said Korra fixing the things on the table that Pabu had knocked over, “got my awkward Bolin moment of the day out of the way.”
Asami turned to her. “What was up with him?”
Korra let out a snort. “If I had a yuan every time someone asked that in regards to Bolin…or Mako for that matter.”
The airfield owned and operated by Future Industries sat atop a mountain range a couple miles north of the city. There were five buildings on property that included a control tower, two very large hangars for airships and two smaller hangars for planes with additional hangars being planned. The transition from Satomobiles to aircraft had been a swift one as Future Industries had been given the contract to update the Republic City Police Department’s fleet of airships, beating out their competitors namely Cabbage Corp. The move to airplanes was largely seen as a no-brainer given Future Industries’ reputation for branching into other areas beyond cars and home appliances.
After her lunch with Asami, Korra had briefly returned to the workshop but had been so distracted by various thoughts, all related to the Avatar, that she decided to give the engine a test forgetting about the small part that broken off and fallen into the innards of the machine. The stutter of the engine and a loud clanking sound reminded her of that and she quickly shut the engine off.
She decided that she’d deal with it another time and decided to take Naga for a ride.
Being in a high position had its perks. One of them was having the choice of any vehicle to take out for a bit given it be returned in pristine order. She took one of the motorcycles with a sidecar, strapped Naga into the passenger seat and decided a nice drive out of the city would be good.
Arriving at the airfield she sought out the company’s best pilot Naoki who was fiddling about with the engine of his plane.
“How’s the skies Naoki?”
The pilot turned to see Korra followed by Naga approach him. “I’ve had about enough of it these days.”
“Then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong business,” said Korra with a smirk.
“Maybe I am. I’m not getting any younger spending all my time up here on this mountain teaching some kids with one foot in their graves on how to fly aircraft worth millions. I could be down there in the city, enjoying the nightlife, finding companionship.”
“You won’t find companionship with that mustache,” said Korra walking past him to inspect his plane.
Naoki leaned down to pet Naga. “Oh come on Korra. Don’t you think I look like a famous mover star?”
“Yeah, the one who ties the woman to the railroad tracks.”
“You’re hilarious Korra,” deadpanned Naoki. “But I’m serious. Just when I’m getting the guys settled in and not crashing their planes, I have this whole new group come in recently.”
Korra turned to face him. “New pilots?”
“Yeah, in the last month or so. That’s why I’m so busy nowadays.”
“Well, can’t complain about being short staffed,” said Korra who turned back to the plane, standing on her toes to get a look into the cockpit.
“Yeah well I had enough to deal with the original group. Besides these new guys…I don’t know. They feel off to me.”
“Off how,” asked Korra, “By the way, did you get the pedals fixed?”
“Yeah last week.” Naoki sat down on a nearby crate, Naga following him so he could continue petting her. “Their attitude. I mean right off the bat they want to know the general basics of the controls. I told them that comes later, first they need to kow the internal workings of the plane. One guy actually snapped at me! He told that was the mechanics job not his.”
“So what did you say?”
Naoki grinned. “Well I told him that a good pilot knows when his plane is working or not by feel and sound. If one has a problem up in the air they have to make a guess on what it could be and know how to counteract the problem. I told him I’m not running a flight school here. We’re here to test new types of aircraft and that in itself is a dangerous job. He continued to express his displeasure with the way I run things so I kicked him out.”
“Good for you.”
“Yeah. For a while. Then the boss calls me.”
Korra raised an eyebrow. “Hiroshi?” Naoki nodded. “And?”
“He asked me why I fired one of the new pilots, citing the lack of applicants for the job and our current small crew. ‘We need all the pilots we can get,’ he says. So I told that I run things my way in order to ensure the safety of my pilots and the ground crew. He understood and he actually came out to talk to the new guys and explained to them how things run out here.” Naoki shook his head. “Still, strange lot they are. Especially that guy I fired. If you want to make a crack at someone’s mustache, he had the most bizarre one of all.”
“Well, he’s not here anymore so I guess I’ll settle for you,” said Korra climbing into the co-pilot seat, “Okay Naoki. Enough chit-chat. Let’s go.”
“You serious? I got all this other stuff to do.”
“So do I,” said Korra fastening her helmet, “but its nice to get away from earthly matters for a bit.”
Naoki sighed and stood up. “Alright.” He gave Naga a pat on the head. “We’ll right back girl.”
Naga made herself comfortable on the grass as Naoki prepped the plane and minutes later was taxiing down the runway.
“Have a good day?”
Asami jumped and nearly stumbled on the steps outside the pro-bending arena. She turned to the source of the voice and saw a familiar face standing under the gazebo.
“Mako,” growled Asami, “Are you trying to give me a heart attack? What are you doing creeping in the dark?”
“I wasn’t creeping,” he said walking towards her, “I was in plain sight and you didn’t notice me. So how was your day?”
Asami frowned at him. “Well clearly I did something to annoy you by your tone of voice.”
Mako narrowed his eyes. “I don’t have a tone!”
“Oh right. That’s how you always sound.” Asami turned away and headed up the steps.
“So Bolin told me you and Korra have been hanging out lately.”
Bolin. I should’ve known. Asami reached the top step and turned once again to face firebender. “I guess. I visited her at her workshop today. You know the one in the building that my family owns?”
Mako rolled his eyes. “Yes I know.”
“I was visiting Dad and I figured I’d stop by and see what projects she was working on.” This was only partially true. She did run into her father when visiting Future Industries Tower but it was Korra she had specifically had gone there to see. “I was going to lunch afterwards after a busy morning so I asked her to tag along. Satisfied?”
“Why are you so interested in Korra all of the sudden?”
“Ah you see,” said Asami, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “this maybe difficult for someone as anti-social as you but there’s something called a ‘friend’ and in order to obtain a ‘friend’ you have to spe—“
“I get it Asami,” said Mako who was getting more annoyed by the second.
“So get to your point counselor.”
Mako raised a finger. “I…” He closed his mouth and his eyes looked around, any place but her, mentally trying to piece together whatever argument he was going to make. “Look,” he said with a frustrated sigh, lowering his hand, “we have a big competition coming up and we should really be focusing on—“
“Excuse me,” said Asami, now quite pissed at her team mate’s behavior, “I’ve showed up at every practice, bright and early, ready to go for the past couple weeks. What I do outside the arena is frankly none of your business.” She decided then that she had enough for one night and turned away from the arena doors and starting back towards the city.
“Oh so because you’re walking away, the argument is over with?”
“It wasn’t an argument to begin with you idiot,” spat Asami, “Be honest with me, why are you so bugged about me spending time with Korra and getting to know her? How come you didn’t mention her before?”
Mako crossed his arms. “Like you said, how I spend my life outside the arena is none of your business.”
Asami gave him a glare. “Night Mako.”
Even though Asami could easily bend her back to Air Temple Island, she decided to walk to the closest ferry terminal. She needed the time to be alone as well as to calm down.
She was unaware that in the darkness of a nearby alleyway two sets of eyes were watching her.
“We could take her now. There’s no one around.”
“No. She is not to harmed. That was the deal.”
“She’s already exposed us. She blabbed to the cops about the rally.”
“And look at what good it has done. The city is trembling with fear and Councilman Tarrlok is getting ready to lead a crusade against us. She merely expedited the evitable.”
“But she can cause big problems down the way.”
“We wait for now. In due time she’ll know the truth and perhaps she can be persuaded to join us.”
“And if not?”
“Then she’ll be dealt with.”
Chapter 5: The Show Must Go On
With the Pro-Bending Tournament is fast approaching, Asami uses the brief reprieve to discuss love and politics with an old friend.
Been a while hasn't it? :)
Special thanks to Willoghby (https://willoghby.tumblr.com/) for the artwork!
When snow came unexpectedly to Republic City there came with it a certain feeling in the air. After weeks of growing fear and tension over the Equalists it now seemed liked that was a reprieve. Ever since Asami and Mako infiltrated one of their meetings and the events of that night made headlines, there hadn’t been a peep from Amon or the Equalists since. Lin Beifong didn’t like it and neither did Asami. The only person who was making headway was Tarrlok and that was because instead of waiting, he was actively searching them out. Every other week there’d be a front-page story about him and his taskforce taking down Equalist hideouts, which were usually small backrooms of various businesses where pamphlets were printed up.
Snow had a calming effect on the city population. Looking at the city from Air Temple Island Asami took a moment to marvel how the bright metropolis looked with its multitude of lights reflecting off the bay that was partly frozen. It was a slightly eerie sight but strangely calming as well.
Asami didn’t feel very calm these days. In addition to Amon there was still the matter of the pro-bending tournament coming up soon, spending time with her father who would often get Asami off training with Tenzin, much to her mentor’s frustration, and trying to master airbending. She had definitely shown signs of improvement from being able to successful navigate through the wind gates and had been able to produce small gusts of wind. But she was still not ready for the more advanced forms yet and she didn’t feel comfortable taking a spin on glider.
Then there was the issue of the beautiful, intelligent, blue-eyed Water Tribe girl that was driving her nuts. Romance wasn’t her strongest field despite the confident front she put on. This was probably evidenced further by the fact she had gone to Jinora and Ikki for advice.
“I think you should just tell her how you feel,” said Ikki, assisting her older sister in hanging decorations on a nearby tree. The Winter Solstice holiday had come and gone months ago but Tenzin and Pema didn’t object to the kids, mainly Ikki and Jinora, from putting up decorations to celebrate the change in weather. Asami suspected the couple was thankful that such a task gave the siblings something to do. Although they still had Meelo to deal with. “It’s like ripping off a bandage. Just get it over with.”
“And what if she said no,” asks Jinora, clearly not pleased by her sister’s dating philosophy, “Asami would probably get so embarrassed that she’d probably toss herself into a volcano.”
Ikki scowled and crossed her eyes. “There aren’t any volcanoes around here Jinora,” she huffed.
The older airbender rolled her eyes and turned to the Avatar, “You have to have more tact. Approach it slowly. Secret admirer letters, serenading outside her window wearing a disguise, build up a little mystery and then when the time is right she reveal yourself as the dazzling, beautiful, mysterious woman who has plagued her dreams for weeks.”
As she spoke Jinora closed her eyes and waved her hands about in a theatrical fashion. An annoyed scowl remained on Ikki’s face. Asami had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as Ikki silently mimicked her sister’s speech in overly exaggerated fashion, eyes wide and tongue hanging out of her mouth.
“You need a nickname too,” says Jinora excitedly as her eyes flew open, still unaware of her sister’s behavior.
“I do,” says Asami with a small chuckle, “I’m the Avatar.”
Jinora shook her head and waved her hand dismissively. “Nah that’s no good. It’s not exactly mysterious now is it?”
“Point,” said Asami.
“How about,” said Jinora in deep though.
“The Crimson Lady,” said Ikki, loud and excited.
With a groan Jinora turned to Ikki. “That’s stupid Ikki, not to mention I’m pretty sure Korra could figure who the Crimson Lady is.”
“Well your whole idea is stupid,” spat Ikki.
“Then why did you chip in?”
“I was just trying to add some style to your stupid plan,” said Ikki haughtily.
Before the situation between the two siblings could escalate, as it often did, Asami decided to step in and end it diplomatic. “Girls, I appreciate your help. Jinora your plan was interesting and Ikki that was a really cool persona.” The sisters didn’t seem to be completely pacified but Asami’s words did keep them from engaging in a screaming match. “This situation with Korra I think I’m just going to have to wait it out.”
“You could just dunk this guy Mako into the bay,” says Ikki.
Asami laughed. “I’ve thought about that. I’ll keep that option in mind.”
“Well at least he’s not a metalbender.” Asami and the sisters turned to see Pema coming down the path towards them. “They’re a lot harder to deal with. Believe me.”
“You know if Tenzin knew you were outside he’d throw a fit,” said Asami.
“Oh I’m quite used to Tenzin and his moments,” hummed Pema.
“So were you the one who gave Beifong her scars,” asked Asami. She had recently found about Tenzin and Lin’s relationship beyond that of being part of the Team Avatar family and that when that relationship came crashing down, Pema was there to help Tenzin during a dark period of his life.
Pema laughed. “No I wasn’t. When I met her she already had them. I may have resisted arrest when she tried to take me in for standing up to her. And may have hurled a few insults at her.”
“Oooh,” said Ikki, “Sticking it to the man Mom.”
Jinora was equally surprised and pleased. “What a rebel.”
“Oh thanks,” said Pema bashfully. Her expression quickly turned to a stern one as she pointed a finger at both girls. “But you two better not do the same.”
“But Asami got arrested,” protested Ikki.
“Thank you Ikki for bringing that up,” said Asami, shaking her head as she put one of the last decorations on the tree.
“Come on girls,” said Pema, “There’s hot chocolate waiting for you. Come get it before Meelo drinks it all.”
The sisters looked at each other before sprinting up the path, jumping into the air so they could propel themselves to the top of the path.
“If Meelo has drunken it all I’m sending him to the North Pole in a box,” said Jinora before the two disappeared from sight.
“I’m guessing getting arrested wouldn’t be your dating advice,” says Asami, turning her gaze to Pema, “Because I’ve already gone through that. Its not pleasant.”
“Oh no no,” says Pema chuckling. She carefully walked over to the Avatar, hand resting on her large bump. “I’ve found that the best way to approach someone you really like is to make sure you’re best friends first. That’s how it was with Tenzin and I. He was my sifu first when I arrived here. Gradually over time I become more than his student. I really believe that I was his only friend. Well, at the time. He speaks very highly of his cousins, Sokka and Suki’s children, and of course the Fire Nation royal family. But they’re scattered about the world and only occasionally do they drop by Republic City. “ Pema frowned. “Aang was the glue that really held together this little family that had formed decades ago. After he passed away I think everyone was lost. Fire Lady Mai passed away five years after that. Then Sokka. Everyone dealt with their grief in their own way. Sadly it seems that being on their own seemed to be way of cooping rather than sticking together. Kya and Katara moved to the Southern Water Tribe and Bumi went back to work with the United Forces. I have no idea where Toph is nowadays. Suki is still training the Kyoshi Warriors.”
“Did you know Aang well,” asked Asami.
Pema smiled. “Very well. I didn’t come from a particularly good family. A lot of problems, which was mainly due to addictions to certain substances. Got out of there as soon as I turned 17. Even when I arrived here I was kind of an outsider. Then one day I was in the garden and Aang walked up and struck up a conversation with me. You could imagine what shock it was to go from being invisible to others to suddenly talking to the Avatar about gardening. Overtime Aang and Katara became the parents I wish I had.” Pema frowned and let out a deep sigh. “Then one day Aang came to talk to me. Something wasn’t right. I asked him if he was feeling okay. He brushed it off with his always-present humor. But he asked something of me that really…disturbed me.”
“What was it,” prompted Asami.
After a pause Pema spoke. “Look after Tenzin for me,” she said in a soft voice. “A week later he fell ill. Two days after that he was passed away. A while after that it was only Tenzin in charge of the island. He buried himself in work and meditation but I could see that grief and loneliness was tearing him apart.” Pema looked up at Asami with a smile. “I kept my promise. I didn’t know it would lead me here. But I couldn’t stand to see my friend in pain.” Pema wrapped her arms around her. “Well, I think I’ve been out long enough. I better head back before Tenzin sends out a search party.”
Asami laughed. “I’ll be up in a second.”
With a smile Pema turned and started up the pathway. Asami turned her gaze to the city across the bay. Her thoughts turned to Korra. “Guess I’m going to have to take this slow," she said to herself. She then thought about the way Korra looked at her sometimes. “Unless of course Korra makes the first move.” She immediately dismissed the thought. “Stop getting your hopes up Sato.”
“Oh you never know. Being the Avatar doesn’t hurt your chances with the ladies.”
Asami smiled at the sound of a familiar voice. A voice that over the years would often comfort her when she was at her lowest point, when she was struggling with her training and when she was missing her father. “And what wise advice do you have for me old wise sensei,” she asked as she turned around.
“Well,” said Avatar Aang, “Suggesting activities always help. I’d personally recommend penguin sledding but good luck getting the city zoo to lend you some penguins. Believe me I tried.”
“What else would you suggest,” asked Asami with a chuckle.
“Well taking down a power hungry dictator and their army makes for a good bonding experience.”
Asami sighed. “How about some creepy cult leader?”
The previous Avatar tilted his head in thought. “Not bad.” He looked up at the tree and the variety of bright, colorful decorations that hung from the branches.
Asami had to remind herself that the man who stood before her was not in fact really there but was more of an astral projection. But the spiritual connection was so strong that Aang appeared to be physically there, even the bright orange decorations cast light and shadows across the features of his face.
The connection between Asami and her past lives was made when she was 13. She immediately got into meditation as a way of escape. Escape from the grief of losing her mother, the loneliness of not having any friends or family with her, and to escape the knowledge of her true nature, that she was the incarnation of a legendary being, that her whole life had already been decided and her everyday activities were now being dictated by her bending masters and members of the White Lotus.
Aang first appeared in dreams and then over time started appearing to her in a physical form. She remembered her 17th birthday. She was in the midst of her firebending training at the time. She sat on her bed in her small room with a small fruit pie that her predecessor had taught her to make. Aang sat across her on the bed.
“Happy Birthday Asami.”
Asami remembered tearing up at that. It had been two years that someone had wished her a happy birthday.
The other Avatars were presence in her life as well. She was able to go back a few generations and speak with Avatars long past and hear their stories and wisdom. Avatar Kyoshi was one of her favorites and she usually set aside a day just to hear her stories. The White Lotus thought she was receiving wisdom from her previous incarnation when in fact Asami used the day to relax and listen to the feats of her predecessors.
“I’m probably going to take it slow with Korra,” said Asami, her boot shoveling a chunk of snow back and forth, “Even if she’s not….well you know, then at the very least I’ll have a friend. It’d be nice to have a girl friend.”
Aang smirked. “I’m so glad to see you’re completely focused on the Equalist problem and your training.”
Asami crossed her arms. “You’re the last person that should be telling me this.” She grinned. “After all you were always focused on your Avatar duties and not your waterbending instructor.”
Aang smiled. They were both unaware of it but they had matching grins. “You got me there,” he said with a shrug.
Asami frowned suddenly. “I’m sorry Aang.” He looked at her questioningly. “That you’re not here for all this. The kids.”
“Well I am here.”
“Actually here,” said Asami with a roll of her eyes.
“Oh you mean alive?”
“I didn’t want to say it but yeah.”
“It’s alright,” said Aang, tucking his hands into his robe. “Don’t be upset. I’m personally thrilled. I’m so glad that Tenzin has found happiness with Pema. I’m glad all my kids are doing well. As a parent you worry about them. In my case, even in the after life.”
“Were you rooting for Tenzin to hook up with Pema,” asked Asami with a smile.
“Well, after your son breaks up with his girlfriend, whom I loved very much and who I helped raise when she was really young, for the unteempth time the writing is on the wall. I can’t deny that there was a connection between Tenzin and Lin but clearly they came to an impasse and they couldn’t come to a compromise in order to get around it.”
“Was that how you and Katara were?”
“There were definitely bumps in the road,” said Aang softly, “Being married to the Avatar isn’t easy but Katara is magnificent at working around a problem and coming up with solutions.” He lowered his head a bit. “Do I have regrets? Yes. Could have I done certain things better? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade the time I had with Katara, Bumi, Kya, Tenzin, my family and friends for anything in the world. Not even if I could go back in time to when I was living in the air temple with Monk Gyatso and the other airbenders.”
Asami stared at him for a moment before walking towards him. “You deserve a hug for that.” Aang smiled and allowed Asami to wrap her arms around him. He pulled her into the hug and rested her hands on her back. She still couldn’t wrap her mind around the fact that she was able to actually touch him.
“You know I thought with this new cycle of friends you wouldn’t need to hug yourself anymore.”
Asami shook her head. “And here I was thinking that your jokes would actually improve.”
Aang laughed. “What can I say Asami. This old polar bear dog can’t learn anymore new tricks.”
Asami rested her forehead on his shoulder. Her mood suddenly changed as her thoughts returned to what had been plaguing her lately. “I’m not ready for this Aang.”
“Yes you are,” he said softly.
“But I haven’t learned all the elements yet. I don’t even know how to enter the Avatar State.”
Aang grinned. “Welcome to the club.” He was pleased that elicited a chuckle out of Asami.
“I’m scared Aang,” she said a few moments later.
“I know all about that. Fear has it advantages. It keeps you alert, sharp, where you need to be. You’ve already taken the first step in acknowledging it. Take it from me, running away from it doesn’t work.”
Asami’s lips curved into a tiny smile. “I’m guessing focusing half my time on pro-bending isn’t the best method for focusing on the issues at hand.”
“There’s nothing wrong with extracurricular activities.”
There were many advantages to having a sky bison as a companion. One of which is that one can land them on building rooftops thus avoiding traffic or, in Tenzin’s case, the mob of reporters positioned outside the entrances of City Hall. It didn’t take long to find out what the reason for an intern came running up to him as soon as he climbed off of Oogi. Amon had broadcasted another message over the radio. This time he threatened an attack on the Pro-bending Tournament, which was three nights away, if the game proceeds.
Tenzin rubbed his temples.
“The council is waiting sir.”
Asami did not have a sky bison as a companion in addition to never have been instructed on how to properly fly one. So she had to enter City Hall from the ground level. She, Mako and Bolin had to get creative in order to get past the press and thanks to Korra and a Future Industries work truck they were able to get into the building’s underground parking garage without anyone catching on.
She felt bad for actively trying to avoid the press but lately their presence had been a nuisance to Asami, her father and friends. It didn’t help that Tarrlok was actively about Asami declining his offer to join his task force. This coupled with frequent stories about the Fire Ferretts and Asami spending evenings at restaurants and plays with her father created a public image as the Avatar being lazy and not overly concerned about Amon and the Equalist. One newspaper even ran a poll on who has been the worst Avatar so far, with the last six (including Asami) being the options. Asami was surprised she didn’t receive the number one spot given the growing hostility towards by the press and a percentage of the public. That honor went to Avatar Kuruk with Asami coming in second place. Asami theorized that the Sato name is what kept her from first place. Her father was garnering better press these days.
“You know when you guys asked me if I was available, this wasn’t what I had in mind,” said Korra as she parked the truck.
“Sorry Kor,” said Mako. After a pause he said: “It was Asami’s idea.” He let out a grunt when Asami elbowed him in the ribs.
“It was better than Bolin’s plan,” said Asami.
“I thought my plan was foolproof,” huffed Bolin.
“Where would we get a grappling hook or a zip line for that matter,” asked Mako.
“Korra could make us one,” Bolin turned excitedly to Korra, “Right Kor? You can make us one!”
“Yeah Bo, let me add that to the long list of things I need to work on and I’ll get right on that,” said Korra, voice dripping with sarcasm.
Korra sighed. “Alright. Let’s get going.”
“You stay here and watch over the truck,” said Mako, opening the back doors of the truck and climbing out.
“From who,” asked Korra, annoyed.
“I don’t know, just guard it.”
With Mako’s back turned to her Korra gave him a one-finger salute. “Love you Mako,” she said dryly.
“Uh-huh,” he said, eyes scanning the garage. “Alright. Let’s go.”
Bolin followed Mako. Asami turned to Korra. As hard as she tried not to, she gave Korra a quick look over. She was dressed in a light grey Future Industries jumpsuit and her hair was tied up in a bun. There were dark lines under her eyes and it appeared that she hadn’t been getting a lot of sleep lately.
And yet still she was beautiful.
“I can bring you back something. They have a little coffee shop inside.”
Korra smiled. “I’d appreciate a good cup of tea.”
“Got it,” Asami turned to follow the two boys, who were already halfway across the garage. She turned back to Korra. “Why don’t you just dump him?”
Korra at first looked surprised then a sly smile formed on her lips. “Why? Fancy caressing those eyebrows of his?”
“What,” exclaimed Asami, her voice cracking, wanting to sound serious but she couldn’t keep her laughter contained. “No! It was a big step for him to greet me in the mornings when we train.”
“He’s quite fond of you,” said Korra.
Asami raised an eyebrow. “He does?” Korra nodded. “Well he has an odd way of expressing it.”
Korra nodded. “Such is the way of the Mako.”
Asami couldn’t help but let out another chuckle. “Believe me Korra. I’m not interested in Mako.” She paused for a moment. “Well, to be honest at first I thought he was quite…you know.” Korra nodded. “But then—“
“He opened his mouth.”
Asami nodded. “Yeah. Anyway, that wasn’t the reason I asked. It’s just that….” Tread carefully Sato. “You deserve better.” Korra’s eyes widen a bit and again there was that warm smile of hers. She really has no idea the power she wields does she?
“Well I appreciate that,” said Korra, “Truth be told, me and him aren’t going to be together for very much longer.”
Outwardly Asami nodded. Inwardly: ca-ching!
“But,” continued Korra, “I wanted to wait until after the championship. Play things off as fine for now, support him, you guys win, Mako and Bolin collect the prize money and hopefully can afford to live someplace decent and then I can break things off.” She sighed and leaned her elbow on the steering wheel. “I’d like to remain friends with Mako and Bolin though. They really don’t have much and they’re very short on friends. Before me the only person they’d considered friends were usually criminals.”
Asami nodded. “I heard.” Asami gave Korra a reassuring smile. “I’m sure things will work out.”
Before Korra could respond there was a loud metallic bang. The two women jumped and looked for the source of the noise. It was Mako standing at the back of the van. “Asami you coming along? We still got practice later today.”
“I’m coming,” grumbled Asami, “I’ll catch up.” Mako rolled his eyes and walked back to Bolin was. Asami looked back to Korra with a smile. “Love is patient, love is kind.”
Korra blew a raspberry and reached over to pick up a newspaper from the passenger seat.
“Asami, you just can’t barge in here,” said Tenzin sternly as Asami, Mako and Bolin approached the council table.
“If Avatars were hindered by protocol and appointments they’d never get anything done.” Tenzin’s scowl deepened but Asami remained strong. Tenzin eventually sighed in irritation. For a man who often taught patience, he had very little for everyone else. Asami turned her attention to the council as a whole. “I think cancelling the Pro-bending Tournament is a mistake.”
“What a surprise,” said a member of the council, an elderly lady dressed in Fire Nation robes.
“This is not about pro-bending,” said Asami, “Its about fear. For the past month Amon and the Equalist have been driving the city crazy and most of that isn’t through Equalist action. Its mostly through rumors.”
“And from your own observations and testimony Avatar.”
“That is true,” conceded Asami, “and what Mako, Bolin and myself saw that night was true. There was a big crowd. They’re well organized. But we don’t know if they’re strong enough to conduct a major attack.” Asami turned her gaze to Tarrlok. “All Tarrlok and his task force have managed snag so far are printers, sympathizes and a couple of chi blockers.”
“Our task force has been doing good work,” said Tarrlok rising from his chair and leveling his own gaze at Asami. “You would know that if you had decided to take up my offer.”
Asami crossed her arms. “Please tell us what leads you and your task force have made in this case?”
Tarrlok paused for a moment. “Not much. But with your help—“
“I’m not joining your task force,” said Asami, her voice rising, “and I’d appreciate if you leave me out of your little rants to the press.”
“Asami,” began Tenzin but a quick look from Asami told him to hold off.
She turned back to the council in general. “We can’t let our fear of Amon rule our lives.” That’s rich coming from you. “This week it’s the Pro-bending Tournament. What’s it going to be next week?”
Asami turned her head and was surprised to see Chief Beifong off to the side. She was even more surprised at her words. “Really?”
Beifong didn’t look at her as she walked forward. “My police force will provide security for the event. Our metal armor will make it impossible for any chi blockers to subdue us. The Avatar is right. We can’t bow down to this threat. Besides the city could use a boost in morale.” The Chief of Police turned to Tarrlok. “Your little tabloid headlines may make yourself feel better and it gives the press something to write about but it isn’t doing much good beyond that.”
When Beifong finished speaking there was silence in the room. Asami noted the looks between Tarrlok and Beifong. While Beifong was wearing her usual scowl, Tarrlok still wore his usual smirk. Asami thought to herself that this probably wasn’t the first time these two have traded words with each other and she couldn’t imagine what was lurking behind Tarrlok’s mask.
Thankfully Tenzin broke the tense, awkward silence that fallen on the room with a loud clearing of his throat. “Thank you Asami. Chief Beifong. We’ll take your proposal into consideration.”
“What just happened,” asked Mako as the group plus Beifong exited the council room into the main hall.
“Politics kid,” said Beifong.
“So did we win or not,” asked Bolin.
The Chief of Police shrugged. “Who knows? Whether this game happens or not I’m not least bit concerned. I just hate bowing down to this Amon character. I’ve frankly had enough of him and his group. This city has a ton of problems that need to be addressed but we’re too busy chasing phantoms.”
“And yet I was criticized for wanting to get involved,” said Asami pointedly.
“You shouldn’t be,” huffed Lin, “Just concentrate on your little game and leave the police work to the proper authorities.” With that Beifong turned and headed down the hallway. Asami shot her a glare and decided there and then that she had enough of the Chief’s attitude.
“Wait here,” she said to Mako and Bolin and walked briskly after Lin to catch up with her. She stuffed her hands into her coat pockets and walked alongside her. “Look,” she said, a little too loudly, “Can we cut the tough cop routine now? I’m here and I’m not going away. I have a job to do and all this will go a lot smoother if we weren’t going after each other’s throats.”
Lin didn’t look at her. Instead she walked faster. “I already told you kid it isn’t your place.”
“Then what is my place,” said Asami, whose diplomatic tone quickly went away and they back again where they had started before. “Please do tell me. It’s not like people haven’t been doing that my whole life.”
Lin didn’t say anything for a couple of seconds. “Look,” she stopped walking and turned to face Asami, “The Avatar is not this fearsome crusader anymore. Times have changed from Aang’s time. You’re merely a figurehead. You meet with leaders, you discuss, you try to avoid causing a war and that’s it. The rest, specifically the safety and protection of this city, is my job and the jobs of countless officials, appointed and elected. Those are your bounds. Don’t over step them.” Lin stepped closer so that there was a three-inch gap between her and Asami. “You understand me?”
Asami didn’t falter in her stare for a second. At that moment a flood of words swam through her mind as well as possible actions, all of which would lead to her immediate arrest. “Yes,” she said, turning away from the Chief and heading back towards Mako and Bolin, “You better get going Chief, there’s some school kids outside who need help crossing the street.” She didn’t look back. She knew what she’d see if she did.
“Well that went rather well.”
“Could’ve been worse,” said Asami quietly. Talking with Aang in public was difficult. The last thing she needed was to have people think she was having a conversation with herself or worse no one. “You believe that shit?”
“Language,” said Aang, walking alongside her.
“Would you have put up with that?”
“Nope,” he said, “And that’s why Toph regarded me as a huge pain in the ass.”
Asami chuckled. “Isn’t that the job of the Avatar? Being a pain in the ass?”
Aang smiled. “Well I would’ve put it more eloquently than that but basically yes.”
Chapter 6: Love, Sports and Anarchy
Kept you waiting huh?
I'm sincere apologies for taking so long to update. But I have about four chapters finished to make up for long gap between updates.
Artwork by Willoghby (https://willoghby.tumblr.com/)
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.
Chapter 7: 27B/6
Korra begins her investigation of the origins of the Equalist glove and is worried about where her investigation will lead.
When she awoke the following morning Asami was at first confused by her surroundings until she remembered that following the attack on the arena she came home with her father rather then return to Air Temple.
When her brain registered that it was morning Asami wanted to remain buried and isolated in her bed sheets. After the last night’s events she couldn't imagine what the headlines were or what was being said on the radio. No doubt both were flooded with eyewitness accounts of the events or editorials about how this generation's brave Avatar let herself be distracted by a silly game instead of the threat of a terrorist and his followers hell bent on reshaping their world as they see fit.
Mentally Asami vowed never to play a probending match ever again. The simple fact that a game official could turn a blind eye to cheating if the price was right already soured Asami on the sport.
A loud buzzing sound made her jump and for a split second she associated it with the electrically-charged weapons that the Equalist had been carrying. But it was only the door buzzer.
"Breakfast is served Ms. Sato," said her butler via the intercom, a new addition to the room since she had left.
"Be down in a moment," she called out. She pushed the covers off her. There was no point in moping in bed all day and she was rather hungry.
As she got dressed she glanced around her room. All the signs of a preteen girl remained as the room had been maintained since her departure many years prior. Little bottles of perfume on the vanity, no doubt some were her mother's. She had no clear memory of ever wearing it in public or at school. She kept the bottles around to remind her of her mother.
On the wall above the vanity was a poster of the futuristic swashbuckler Captain Harrlock. Sadly she has not yet come across a dashing adventurer as she had long ago hoped and Mako was no way in the same league.
She frowned when her thoughts naturally turned to the brothers. They had lost the tournament and thus the prize money and no doubt the arena has become a crime scene at this point, which would make living there difficult.
She threw on her robe and headed downstairs. She had an idea but needed her father's approval first.
It was mid afternoon when Korra arrived at Future Industries. One of the benefits of being her own boss with only having to answer to Hiroshi is that she ran on her own schedule in terms of what time she came in and what time she left as long as the work got done. Today her mind was anything but work. Luckily the car was finished with minor tweaks needed. Instead there was something else to focus on and the more she thought about it, the more it made her feel nauseous. The fact alone that she had what was technically evidence hidden away in her apartment made her stomach knot.
She ducked into her workshop when she could privately collect herself. "You can do this," she said quietly. She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled a small clear bag. Inside was the small electrical circuit that made the device which took down an entire police force the other night, function.
The only identification on the circuit was some small print that read: 27B/6. No other information was present.
As Korra headed down towards what employees dubbed The Tool Shed, a large warehouse space where everything from nuts and bolts to electrical wiring and spark plugs was kept, she pondered whether or not what she was doing was completely stupid. She could wait a couple weeks to a month and then start making inquiries, instead of literally hours after a massive terrorist attack, to avoid raising any suspicion. But she knew she couldn't wait that long. Not with that Equalist glove hidden in the ceiling above her closet.
She had to know.
But what then? Her headache got worse as contemplated the different scenarios if her company was or was not involved in the design and/or manufacturing of the Equalist's' tech. If so: who was involved? Was it a small group? One person? Everyone?
If Future Industries had connection what would she do about their glove? Her initial response was to dump it in the river. She could send it anonymous to the police. Or she could dismantle it piece by piece and dump all over the city.
The Tool Shed was corded off by a large metallic wall, which only those with the proper clearance, as well as a key, could enter. Cut into the wall was a counter where parts could be ordered. Korra approached the window and hit a button mounted on the desk that sounded a loud buzzer. A minute later the man in charge of the Tool Shed, nicknamed the Keeper of the Tools, Yutaka Ito approached the counter. Ito was in his 50s, slick backed gray haired, always carrying a large amount of writing utensils usually stuffed in his pockets or behind his ears.
"Korra," he said approaching the counter, "What'll it be? Hopefully that new engine didn't explode on you."
Korra rolled her eyes. "No. It didn't. Matter of fact it's done well in tests we've done so far." A year ago Korra had an engine fall apart on her during testing. The engine was a bit more powerful than Korra had thought. So much it shook off its casing and spewed parts all over the workshop.
Future Industries wasn't immune to workplace gossip and the best kind of gossip were failures rather than successes.
"Okay, okay," said Ito holding up his hands, chuckling. "What can I help you with?"
Korra pulled out a folded list with various items, including the circuit 27B/6, were jotted down. Some of the items were ones Korra actually needed. "My shopping list," she said it to Ito.
Ito took the paper and scanned its contents. Korra noted a certain look on his face when his eyes were about half way down the page. It appeared to Korra as a look of worry.
Ito looked up at her and smiled. "Be back in a few."
He disappeared off amongst the rows and rows of towering shelves. Korra sat down on a nearby couch and started scrolling through a magazine, not really invested with what was written on the pages. She was now analyzing the look on Ito's face leading to an internal debate with herself questioning if there was a look even to begin with or simply a manifestation due to her own paranoia brought on by a combination of work related stress.
Before she could fully consider whether a trip to the company shrink would do any good, which no doubt would've led to the thought that maybe he's in on this conspiracy as well, Ito returned with a cart full of boxes.
"There you go. All the things to make your little cart go vroom vroom or whatever it is you're working go vroom. Perhaps a personal device," he said with a grin.
Korra smacked his arm. "Dirty old man. You're too old to know about stuff like that."
"I may be up in years but trust me I have some knowledge in that particular area."
"Maybe I should give up on the whole Satomobile engineering gig and focus on electronic feminine products," said Korra sorting through the boxes on the counter, "I'd make enough money to retire."
"Yeah well don't forget about me when you're sitting on a few million yuans."
"Ah-huh. Yeah. Sure," said Korra in a monotone voice, "Ito I'm missing my circuit."
"Oh? Which one?"
"There's a simple explanation for that: don't have it."
"Out of stock?"
"No I mean it doesn't exist. Either you read something wrong or someone is pulling your chain."
Play it off. Korra huffed. "You're kidding me. Are you sure?"
"I know my circuits Kor and we don't have it."
"And no one else has it?"
Ito pulled a giant book the size of the Republic City phone book. This was for ordering parts outside the company's stock. "You can look for yourself. I can tell you that I've never heard of a circuit 26--"
Korra flipped through the book angrily. "For some certain morons upstairs' sake it better be in here. I'm in no mood for this."
"Who was it," asked Ito, "I can have a little chat with them."
Korra hesitated. She covered it by huffing and shaking her head. "Don't worry Ito. I'll take care of it."
Sure enough there was no listing for circuit 27B/6. She checked once again before closing the book.
"Well then, they have provoked the polar bear dog. Now they must pay."
"Want me to help," asked Ito.
"Best stay out of this Ito," said Korra gathering up the boxes into her arms, "This could get messy."
Korra didn't know how to feel when she returned to her workshop. She decided to take her mind off and decided to work on the car for a couple hours instead. It worked. She hadn't noticed time passing until Hiroshi walked into the workshop around three.
"Beautiful," he said looking over the car, "Absolutely beautiful. Outstanding job as ever."
"Needs more tweaks," she said washing her face.
"Well naturally," he said gliding his hand along the side of the car, "How soon can we have it on the track?"
"I can test it tomorrow," she said."
"I'll have it loaded up and sent to the track. Asami is spending the week at the house. Would be great to give her demonstration of what we've been doing with the Satomobile division."
Korra was glad her back was towards her boss. "How is she?"
"Surprisingly good. Given what happened last night. Being in her home I think helps. She called me about an hour ago asking if her teammates can stay over until they find a new place."
"What did you say?"
"Well naturally it was hard saying no to her. It's a universal thing between fathers and daughters. They know how to tug at the heartstrings. I'm sure your father would understood."
Korra smiled. "Oh he does."
"Tell me something Korra. You know those boys. How good are they around expensive things, notably antiques?"
"You don't have to worry about Mako. Bolin on the other hand--"
"I'd better make a call then. You'll be happy to know I've given your friend Mako a position here."
Korra paused. She hadn't thought about Mako at all that day. She was hoping for a nice clean break but now with him working in the same building. "Yay," she said in a monotone.
"Trouble in paradise?"
"More like I have discovered that paradise is only seasonal." She turned off the faucet and wiped at her face.
"Do you want me to say that we have no job positions at this time."
Korra shook her head. "Oh no. Please give him the job. He'll probably make better money working here then when he was probending."
Hiroshi scoffed. "No doubt. Bunch of con artists and thieves in that sport. I'm just as rattled as you are about last night but I am thankful that Asami won't be taking part in that silly sport anymore and she's home again."
"You know she'll have to go back to training with Master Tenzin."
"Yeah I know," said Hiroshi running his hand along the steering wheel. "Sorry. Didn't mean to get all Mopey Dad on you."
"It's fine," she said brewing some tea.
"So now that you and Mako are on the outs as it were, you think him and Asami--"
"No chance," said Korra firmly, "I mean I wouldn't be surprised if he asked her out but I don't see her going out with him. She once told me I was too good for him."
"I'm becoming more reluctant to let him stay in my house," said Hiroshi in a low voice.
"He's not bad sir. He's just a little...not fully matured yet. He's very protective of Bolin and has worked hard to ensure the two of them get by. Relationships on the other hand not his strong suit."
"Well if you could get it across to him I won't have my daughter be his second shot at romance."
"I'll do my best sir."
"Right. Well I'll leave it to you. Having lunch with Varrick in half an hour."
"Varrick? About what?"
"Spirits know. Not looking forward to having him talk my ear off."
"His assistant is pretty cute though," said Korra with a grin.
"Don't get any ideas," said Hiroshi pointing his finger at her, "Less connections between me and Varrick the better. Besides I'm pretty sure that those two... You think they're--"
"Fucking? Yes. Yes I do," said Korra with a straight face before breaking out in a grin.
Hiroshi tried to keep his composure. "Well I wouldn't have used those exact words but--"
"In the sack? Bumping privates? Babybending? Parking the pink Satomobile--"
"Yes Korra," said Hiroshi exasperated, "Wait. 'Parking the pink Satomobile'? My car is now a euphemism for sex?"
"Yep," said Korra brightly. Hiroshi shook his head and started polishing his glasses. "Take that as a compliment. Your car is so well known its part of modern slang."
"Thank you Korra I feel so much better," said Hiroshi sarcastically.
"I actually feel better than this morning." Korra meant it. She had forgotten about the anxiety and dread she had been feeling since she smuggled the Equalist device home and her investigation of the company that employed her. She felt guilty for assuming that Future Industries had a hand in Amon and the Equalist.
"Well I'm glad about that. Everyone has been so edge lately. Not that I blame them. I understand that someone thought it would be funny if sent you on a little goose chase this morning."
All those good feelings immediately disappeared as Korra felt her stomach sink. "How did you know about that?"
"I stopped by Ito just a while ago."
"Ito is over aggregating," says Korra, fiddling with some parts on her workbench, "It's no big deal."
"Well I think it's pretty rude considering what you witnessed last night," said Hitoshi taking off his glasses to polish them. Korra noted this was the second time in the last few minutes in which he had polished them. "Anyway I'll let you get back to it. Why don't you stop by the house this weekend? Take a break from work. Bring the roadster along. I'm anxious to see it tear up the asphalt."
Korra gave him a smile. "I'll see. Give my best to Varrick."
After Hiroshi left Korra continued working. When five o'clock rolled around she washed up and headed home. She didn't even bother with the stashed glove. Instead she took Naga to the park and tried her best to put the whole thing out of her mind, which was hard to do since every newsstand in the city had headlines about the previous night's events.
The city streets were quieter than usual apart from large quantity of police vehicles patrolling the streets as well airships hovering above.
She passed city hall and saw a large gatherings of press. She couldn't see who was speaking but she when was in range to hear what the voice was saying she could immediately tell who it was.
She backtracked with Naga to find another route to the park. Whatever he was saying Korra didn't want to hear any of it.
Chapter 8: Revelations
Asami invites Korra over to Sato Estate; the police start their investigation of Future Industries
I don't know why it took so, so long to write and edit this chapter but I do apologize for long gaps in-between updates. I feel bad neglecting this story and I hope to have the Book 1 storyline wrapped up soon as I'm kinda tired of writing about Equalists and want to move onto the more exciting bits in the future Books.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy
Artwork by Lesly-Oh (http://lesly-oh.tumblr.com/)
Korra took Hiroshi up on his offer and that Saturday drove to the Sato estate along with Naga who sat in the passenger seat, content with the wind blowing through her fur. The Equalist Glove, which remained stashed in her closet, was still very much on her mind but she tried her best not to let it consume her thoughts.
That was until she heard on the radio that the police, acting on an anonymous tip, had raided the Cabbage Corps storage warehouses that morning and had ound Equalist equipment and printed material within the the building.
Korra had switched off the radio just as the owner of Cabbage Corps was lamenting his arrest and loss of his company.
"Not my Cabbage Cor--"
Part of Korra was relieved that she could stop being so paranoid about her colleagues being in league with the Equalists.
But on the other hand: Cabbage Corps?
She thoroughly examined the electric glove and she could not fathom Cabbage Corps constructing such a device without shorting out or blowing the operator's hand off.
Korra switched on the radio and turned it to an all music station. She had a plan that would settle the matter once and for all. But it would have to wait until later.
"Korra," said Hiroshi said cheerfully as the butler showed Korra into the study, "Glad you could make it. Hello Naga," he said rubbing the canine's head.
"You're chipper today," observed Korra, "Anything to do with our competition's apparent demise?"
Hiroshi adjusted his glasses. "Although I hate to see all those workers lose their jobs and the old man sent to jail, you have to admit it's an advantage for us." Korra gave him a sour look. "That's business Korra," he said with a shrug.
"I just can't believe it. Cabbage Corps?"
"I'm just as shocked as you are."
"But why," asked Korra.
"I suppose we'll find out once the investigation starts.” Hiroshi returned his attention to the papers on his desk, clearly no longer interested in the subject.
Korra ran a hand through her hair. Like her boss she too wanted to discuss other matters. "I guess. So how's Asami doing?"
"Fine. That is as far as I can tell. You know how it is. Kids tell their parents that they're fine when they're really not."
Korra nodded. "I have plenty of experience with that. That is basically my whole adolescence."
"But I think being home and us spending some time together has been good for her." The cheerful expression on his face soured. "Of course now we have new house guests."
"Have they broken anything yet," asked Korra. While glad that Mako and Bolin had found a new place to live following the attack on the arena and its classification as a crime scene she was also concern given the amount of expensive and priceless items in the Sato household. Priceless, fragile items and Bolin had a knack for being overly curious and clumsy: a dangerous combination.
"Thankfully no but there have been some close calls." Hiroshi's eyes narrowed at Korra, which made her feel very uneasy. He had never given her that look before. "You didn't tell me they had a ferret."
Korra smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of her neck. "Whoops. Uhh I better go join them,” she said backing slowly towards the door.
"Pool room," Hiroshi said with a resigned sigh, "Something tells me the staff will want a pay increase."
"KORRA," three voices chorused as she entered the indoor pool room.
"Woof," barked Naga wagging her tail.
"Hey," said Korra taking a seat in one of the deck chairs.
"This is the best," yelled Bolin, "we have own our rooms, delicious food, and I don't have to hear Mako snore."
"You're the one who snores Bolin. I will find a way to document it," said Mako.
Asami swam over to the pool's edge. Korra's heart raced as she did. She couldn't make out Asami's form underneath the water but her imagination ran while with what kind of swimsuit she was wearing. She knew it was strapless for one thing, which observing Asami from the shoulders up gave the appearance that she wasn't anything at al--
"So how are you Korra," asked Asami.
"I think how you're doing is more important," said Korra shifting a bit in the chair.
"Oh I'm fine," she said although she wasn't really. She knew this little resting period was going to end soon and she would be back to annoying Chief Beifong about stopping Equalists, who surprisingly had been quiet since the attack at the arena. "I hear you're going to test out the new roadster today." Korra smiled and nodded. "Why don't you relax a for bit and join us?"
Korra's temperature rose another degree. "Oh. Uhh. Would love to but I didn't bring a swimsuit."
"Underwear then," shouted Bolin before being splashed by Mako.
"I think we have some spare ones in the changing room closet," said Asami, who was on a mission to see some skin from Korra. She has already seen her biceps the night they met at the gala. "We have them for when Dad is entertaining guests and potential business partners."
This Korra knew as Hiroshi often had parties at his estate for both partners and employees. Sometimes she would make an appearance, particularly after she won the Great Trans Race. She usually didn’t say anything at these events, just smiled for the investors and it was Hiroshi who rattled off the technical specs of whatever car he was showing off. It did annoy her that she was being presented merely as a driver but Hiroshi to his credit did apologize and to make up for allowed her to talk about future projects in detail during press conferences.
"Oh. Well. I'll go uhh see what I can find," said Korra getting up and walking towards the changing room, not knowing Asami's eyes were following her the entire time. That is until something big and white obscured her view. Naga panted and wagged her tail.
"Hello cutie," said Asami reaching upwards to pet her, "Aww you look so beautiful today." Naga lied down by the edge of the pool so Asami could pet her.
Aside from some birds Asami really didn't have any pets growing up although there had been discussions. The birds were a peace offering from her father when a request for a dog or cat was rejected. It didn't really work as Hiroshi was more invested in the birds than Asami was. Eventually the birdcage was moved to another room. This was during the period after her mother's death and the two of them were trying to come to grips with her absence.
Naga soaked up the attention, her tail whacking against the tiled floor.
On the opposite side of the pool Pabu looked in jealously but decided to focus on the bowl of grapes he was currently lying in.
In the changing room Korra picked out the most modest swimsuit she could find: a navy blue one-piece suit. "It'll do," she said to herself. She walked into the nearest changing room and removed her jacket.
"So are you excited to be working next to your girlfriend," teased Bolin.
Mako shrugged, "I guess."
Asami turned to Mako, still rubbing the spot behind Naga's ear. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. We probably won't be seeing much of each other since she's engineering and I'm assembly. Besides I think we should be helping Asami out with Amon."
"Come again," asked Asami.
"Oh yeah," cheered Bolin, "Team Avatar Mark II!"
Asami did not know quite how to feel about this. She felt guilty that not long after she had met the pair they had been dragged into this business with the Eqaulists. "You guys don't need to that. I’ve gotten you two in enough trouble. Isn't it enough that Bolin was kidnapped and you two lost your residence?"
"I'm over it," said Bolin leaning out of the pool to grab some grapes from the bowl Pabu was lounging in and popping them into his mouth, "besides we live here."
"Temporarily," she said firmly, "And you can thank me for that. Dad holds important functions here. Imagine if a business dinner was disrupted by Pabu scurrying across the table."
"We'll move out as soon as some money come our way," assured Mako.
"I happily would've set you two up in an apartment."
"It's fine," said Mako before turning away.
Asami was still quite confused how Mako and Bolin went from orphans to homeless. Why weren't they placed in a new home or orphange? She remembered the city orphanages as one of the places her Mother had worked to raise money for. When she asked Mako a couple weeks ago about Bolin and him being in foster care he simply replied, "For a little while."
Something caught Bolin's eye and he responded by letting a loud wolf whistle.
"Shut it Bo!" Korra had been trying to discreetly retake her seat in the lounge chair.
Asami turned to see Korra standing over her. The suit was very form fitting and Asami could see just how fit Korra was. The only other time she was able to tell that when she was wearing that sleeveless dress at the gala. Every other time she had that damn Future Industries jacket on. Then of course there was her chest, which had Asami had already noted before. She wishes more than anything that everyone else was gone and Korra was lying back in one of the lounge chairs with her on top—
Spirits help me.
After twenty minutes of fooling around in the pool, during which Korra and Asami successfully managed to get Naga onto a floating lounge chair, Korra offered an invitation to the test track. Naga opted to lounge by the pool.
Asami, Mako and Bolin headed for the track while Korra split from the group, telling them she would meet them there. Already on the track was a driver and Future Industries' racer from two years ago. The same model that Korra had used to win The Great Trans Race.
The trio sat in the stands as they waited. A servant came by with drinks. Down the track came the roar of an engine and within seconds a sleek new roadster came driving up with Korra behind the wheel.
Bolin whistled. "Nice wheels Korra."
"Now to put it to the test,"said Korra putting on her driving goggles.
"Do you have an extra helmet," asked Asami stepping forward.
Korra looked confused. "Uhh I don't have one on me but I'm sure I can," she paused as Asami climbed into the backseat, "ask for one."
"Haru could get me a helmet and pair of goggles?" The servant who had been serving the group lemonade nodded and walked briskly away to fetch the requested items.
Korra turned to face Asami. "Asami you know this is an untested vehicle."
"I know," she said fastening her seat belt, "I've been in cars since I was toddler and Dad started driving around the track with me when I was five. Mom wasn't pleased with that."
"Well now your father isn't going to be pleased with me."
"Really? Because he doesn't appear to be," Asami said with a nod.
Korra turned and saw Hiroshi in the stands with Bolin and Mako holding a pair of binoculars. He gave the two women a smile and wave.
Asami waved back. Haru quickly re-appeared with a helmet and goggles. "Thank you Haru." Haru bowed and exited the track. "Well Ms. Korra of the Southern Water Tribe," she said as she fastened her helmet, "I hear you're a pretty good driver."
Korra gave her smile and nodded. "Pretty good."
"Prove it," said Asami with a grin.
Korra nodded and quickly turned around, hoping to hide her blushing face. She reached into her jacket and pulled out her driving gloves. She turned to the driver of the other racer Kondo, who was a seven years older than her and had been testing Satomobiles for quite a number of years, well before Korra joined the company. During that time he had been in a number of scraps although nothing too serious. Despite that Kondo was always willing to roll a vehicle if needed.
"Don't go easy on me."
Kondo gave her a smirk. "Since when have I ever gone easy on you? Just don’t try and roll this one.”
“What did you say,” asked a slightly alarmed Asami.
“What,” shouted Korra as she revved the engine. She secured a stopwatch next to her speedometer. She looked over to the light signal, waiting for it to go green.
The second the signal flashed green she put her foot down on the pedal. After a loud squealing of the tires on the asphalt, which sent the smell of burning tires into the air as well into the nostrils of the drivers plus Asami, the two racers lurched forward and then they were off.
Korra heard an gasp from the backseat. She grinned and quickly shifted the car into the next gear. Once the car reached 70 miles per hour the stopwatch on her dashboard would stop, recording the time it would take the vehicle to reach that speed. Korra put all of this out of her mind as they came to first turn.
While Korra's racer easily outperformed the older model on the straightaway, turns proved to be difficult. There was a moment of panic when she thought the racer might actually roll so she downshifted into second, watching the older model whip past her. She made a mental note to take into account weight distribution when she got to the workshop.
For now she had a race to win.
She managed to gain some ground as they past the halfway point. The last turn leading into the final stretch wasn't as severe as the previous ones so Korra didn't lose any speed.
After making the turn both vehicles were now neck and neck as they neared the finish line. Kondo gained some distance ahead of them and started to play with them by blocking their path. Korra rolled her eyes and attempted to navigate around. With the finishing line within a hundred yards she managed to pull around Kondo and put her foot down onto pedal pushing the racer to its top speed of 105 miles per hour.
As they crossed the finish line Asami let out a big ‘Yahoo!’ as Korra slowed the vehicle down and pulled into the service pit. She put it in park and checked her stopwatch. It had stopped at 8.2 seconds. Korra smiled and tap her hand on the steering wheel. "Not bad."
"That was amazing," said Asami as she climbed out of her seat. "Spirits I thought my stomach was going to shift into another plane of existence when we took off."
Korra smiled and unfastened her helmet. "Hope you didn't have lunch earlier."
"Luckily I did-" Asami paused to watch Korra take off her helmet and let her long brown hair fall down around her shoulders. "-n't."
Korra brushed aside some strands of hair from her eyes. "Probably wouldn't want to now."
Asami cleared her throat, hoping that Korra hadn’t noticed her staring. It was quickly becoming a habit. "For a second I thought your colleague was going to win."
"What can I say," asked Korra with a big adorable grin, "sometimes I surprise myself."
"You have to take me another test sometime because that was frankly amazing."
Korra bowed. "It would be my pleasure Ms. Sato."
Their moment was interrupted by the arrival of Hiroshi, Mako and Bolin.
"Well," asked Hiroshi.
Korra turned and twirled the stopwatch around her finger. "70 in 8.2 seconds."
Hiroshi beamed. "I think I can see a new trophy in our display case."
Korra ran a hand through her hair. "I don't know. She needs a lot of work. She doesn't do corners well and seeing as the roads around Omashu is nothing but winding roads I think we would be trailing--"
Hiroshi clapped a hand on her shoulder. "Korra. Don't ruin the moment. Of course it'll need some tweaks here and there. Besides the competition is far off. You have plenty of time to work out the kinks."
Korra paused for moment, collecting her thoughts and when she spoke it was in a clam even voice. "Mr. Sato you know I've been wanting to move to airplanes. This was suppose to be my last project for the Satomobile division."
"And you will. Once this all finished," he tap the hood of the racer, "I approve your transfer."
Korra eyes narrowed. "I built a new engine and modified the car body," she said firmly, "And here it is. It works. It's fast. There are plenty of other people who can fine tune it."
Hiroshi recognized she was getting upset so he attempted to use charm. "You are correct in that there are those who can continue your fine work. But no one has the gifts you have. I need that magic of yours to ensure we leave everyone in the dust."
Korra was quiet for a long time, turning back to the racer and running her hand along the hood. Finally she turned to the mechanic Chiba. "Hey Chib."
"Yeah," he said stepping out of the small garage, whipping his hands with a rag.
"Have this delivered back to my workshop." She dumped her helmet onto the driver's seat and walked away without a word. She heard Hiroshi, Bolin and then Asami call after her but she kept on walking.
The drive back to the city was a quiet one. Naga slept in the back seat. Korra regretted how she left but soon something else was occupying her thoughts. Something that she had managed to put out of mind for the past two hours but had reared up and now Korra felt that lurch in her stomach.
When she reached the city she made the decision to deviate from the route that would take her home.
She needed to know for sure and had an idea of where she might find the answer.
Around eight o’clock the following evening Lin Beifong was about half way finished with her report on the raid at Cabbage Corps' facilities and when her phone rang.
There was a long silence before a soft hesitant voice answered. "I have some information regarding the Equalist."
Lin put down her pen and leaned forward onto her desk. "May I ask who's calling?"
There was a pause.
"Rather not say at the moment. We've met before…briefly." The person on the other end, whom Lin determined as a woman attempting to deepen her voice but not really succeeding at it, paused for a few moments before speaking again. "Cabbage Corp wasn't involved in supplying then Equalists with their tech. Well," the caller dropped the put-on voice, "they could have but they'd mostly hurt themselves than others. Anyway I have proof of who's responsible. Interested?"
"Genji's on Cherry Hill. One hour." The voice paused again. "Bring Councilman Tenzin with you."
Lin's eyebrows narrowed. "Tenzin? Why?"
"Because he needs to hear this as well."
Lin sighed as she dropped the receiver onto its cradle. Her fingers massaged her temples. She really didn't need this.
She picked up the receiver and started dialing.
"Sorry again about all of this," said Lin as her and Tenzin and climbed off Oogi.
"It's no problem. Besides you know much I love meeting informants late at night," quipped Tenzin, which earned him a raised eyebrow from Lin.
"You using sarcasm? That's rare."
Tenzin shrugged. "I guess a little of Uncle Sokka rubbed off on me." He looked ahead at the small restaurant ahead of them. "Well its better than the usual dark alley."
Immediately upon entering Genji's the two were assaulted by the smell of hookah smoke combined with various smells coming from the kitchen. The open room had a thick layer of haze. Patrons huddled around small tables, illuminated by small lamps. They were approached by the host: a tall, stick-like man with a gaunt face whom may have been an insect in a previous life.
"Your party is waiting for you," said the man, pointing towards a small room off to the side.
"How did you--", Lin began to ask.
"The young lady's description of her two party members was quite descriptive.”
Tenzin and Lin exchanged glances before walking to the door and sliding it open. Seated before them downing a shot of sake was Future Industries star engineer.
You," said Tenzin and Lin in astonishment.
Korra put up her hands up and waved them. "Surprise!" Her excited expression immediately dropped and now she look depressed or drunk, possibly a combination of the two. "Close the door have a seat," she said downing another shot.
"You said you had something some information," asked Lin as Tenzin sat on the floor. Lin remained standing, arms crossed until Tenzin waved for her to have a seat. She rolled her eyes and sat. The door opened and a waitress came in and set some cups of tea on the table. When the waitress left Korra reached under the table and produced a shoebox. She placed it on the table and opened it.
Inside was the Equalist Glove.
"Where did you get that," asked Lin in a low voice clearly not pleased that Korra had the device to begin with, her eyes moving from the device on the table upwards to Korra.
Such a look would’ve naturally intimidated Korra but the alcohol in her system combined with the looming sense of dread had dulled whatever part of her which would have wilted under such an intense gaze. "Got it off an Equalist at the tournament," she quickly held up her hand, "Please spare me your citations. I know I could get in serious trouble for having this. But there is a reason why I called you here rather than chucking this thing into the bay." She downed another shot. "I know who made it."
Lin and Tenzin stared at her, awaiting the answer.
Korra rolled her eyes. "Spirits do I need to spell it out?” She watched as the expressions on the two changed as the realization hit them.
“You’re kidding,” said Lin, sitting up, her tough demeanor gone replaced with genuine shock.
“Future Industries,” asked Tenzin, eyes wide with disbelief.
"Correct. There's no way Cabbage Corps built this," said Korra, "I took this home because I wanted to see how it worked. Natural curiosity and well you know what they say about too much curiosity and it's affect on cats." Glancing down at the table she pushed forward a small saucer of brown liquid. “By the way either one of you want to try this szechuan sauce? It’s really good.”
"What evidence do you have Future Industries was responsible for making this," asked Lin.
Korra took the glove out of the box and proceeded to disassemble it. After a few minutes she held a small circuit in the palm of her hand. "This is the key component. Without it the device doesn't work." She handed it to Lin. "It's also the only piece which has any kind of identification mark on it."
Lin took the circuit and put on a pair of readings glasses. "27B/6.”
"The next day I asked about it, the circuit that is, and I'm told it doesn't exist and someone is pulling my leg. So last night I snuck into our parts warehouse and lo-and-behold its on the inventory list." Korra placed a folder on the table and opened it. Inside were a series of black and white photographs. She handed them to Lin. "Went to the section where they’re supposed to be stored and they weren’t there. I did some more digging around yesterday afternoon to the patent office and went through their records. Sure enough I found some of kind of record of the circuit. Patent filed by Omar Tezuka who I tracked down. Teaches engineering at Kobe City University in the Fire Nation. He developed the circuit while working as a consultant at Future Industries five years ago."
"Which means--", said Tenzin, anxiously stroking his beard.
Korra finished his thought. "The circuit was built internally. Nor is it generally available unless specifically ordered. Tezuka created the first two working versions of it. He left after that. Last he heard of it was that they were going to do some more modifications on it." She pulled out a file. "It's all here." She slid the file across the table and began reassembling the Equalist glove.
Lin looked at Tenzin. "I'll go see a judge tomorrow and get a warrant."
"I don't know what I’m going to tell Asami," said Tenzin rubbing his temple.
"Don't tell her anything,” said Lin firmly.
"I don't think Asami could handle what happened with Cabbage Corps. Imagine Asami watching her father being hauled off while the press watch.”
"At this point we don’t know if the Hiroshi is even involved. We're just conducting a search. No one is going to be arrested. At least not yet." Lin turned to Korra. "What do you think? Think Sato is involved or just some of his employees."
Korra gently fiddled with an empty shot glass. "I don't know. I hope it's neither but if I had to guess it would be the latter. Asami is his daughter. This Amon clearly wants her out of the way. Hiroshi would never allow anyone to hurt her."
Lin stood up. "Well I certainly appreciate your help Kor--"
Lin reached for the box with the glove inside. Korra pulled it away from her and looked her right in the eye. "I didn't give you this," she said firmly, "Understand?"
Lin looked at her and gave her a nod. "Understood."
Korra handed her the box and took another shot. Her consumption of alcohol throughout the evening was now starting to catch up with her.
"Do you have a ride home," asked Lin as Tenzin got off the floor.
"I'll get a cab."
Korra didn't recall anything either of them said after that. Sometime after they left she got up, paid the bill and stepped into the chilly night. As she waited for a cab she cast suspicious looks at the dark buildings around her. She wondered if Lin or Tenzin had been followed. What if Lin's phone had been bugged? What if someone at Future Industries has someone tailing her?
Nonsense. This was all delusional nonsense.
Still she didn't feel safe until she was back in her apartment twenty minutes later.
Naga sensed something was wrong and snuggled up against her in bed. Korra gently stroked her canine companion's head all the while thinking of what was to come next. One thing she was sure of was that Asami must never find out it was her who dug all of this information up and tipped off the authorities.
She drifted off to sleep thinking of ways to genuinely act shocked when the police showed up tomorrow at work.
"Can you believe this," asked one of Korra's co-workers the following day when, as expected, the police came to search Future Industries' facilities which included Future Industries Tower (where Korra worked), their manufacturing plant, their warehouses by the docks, and the airfield up in the mountains.
"No I don't," answered Korra, "and it's pissing me off. I have work to do and there's four cops poking around my workshop."
Naturally the press caught wind of what was going on and was waiting outside when Hiroshi pulled up in front of the building. Hiroshi was calm and collected as he swarmed by reporters.
After a barrage of questions yelled at him Hiroshi just smiled. "Is there something I can help you all with?" That earned a chuckle from the press. "Ladies and gentlemen I know of the police department's search of my company's facilities. Naturally one of my employees informed me of the search half an hour ago. Myself and my staff are cooperating with the police as we have nothing to hide." Lin Beifong was standing a yard away talking with some of her officers. "I feel our esteemed chief of police believes she can accomplish a repeat performance of her raid on Cabbage Corps and to make up for her department's complete failure at providing security during the Probending Tournament." Lin turned towards him and gave him a look that had been long practiced and refined. Alas it had no effect on the industrialist who simply smiled and bowed his head. "But I'll permit the police to conduct their search."
Korra had watched the scene earlier from above via the windows of the canteen. Hiroshi received a smattering of applause from the employees who gathered to watch their boss' arrival.
By two o’clock the police had finished searching Korra's workshop and she promptly kicked them out. As always she dove right into her work deciding to do some tuning to the racer.
"Well," she asked Hiroshi when he stopped by around four.
"Well what," asked Hiroshi confused.
"The police. Did they find anything?"
"Oh that. Nope. Nothing," said Hiroshi as he sat behind the wheel of the racer.
"Thank spirits," she said taking a sip of cold coffee. "I'm sorry but I'm going to start developing ulcers soon."
"Wait till you have kids Korra," he ran his hand along the dashboard, "you wouldn't happen to know why the police came by do you?"
Keep. Calm. Korra shrugged. "No. You know me I keep to myself in here. Only time I hear about is going on is in the canteen."
"And you haven't heard anything?"
She shook her head. "No. Should I have?"
Hiroshi sighed. "I don't know. I had a feeling that after the Cabbage Corps raid they'd come for me."
Korra leaned on the side of the car, her voice a whisper. "You don't think...you know, someone here is in league with—”
"Korra I honestly don't know what to think," he sighed and become to polish his glasses, something he did when he was in deep thought or nervous.
Korra rubbed her face and sighed. "Bet Asami didn't take the news that the police were here well."
"I sent her off to go train with Councilman Tenzin. Believe me she wanted to be here but I knew better especially with the press here." He tapped the steering wheel. "But let's not dwell on such things. Tell me about your progress."
It was around eight that night that Asami got a call from her father asking to come home and that had sent a car to pick her up at the ferry terminal. After hanging up the phone Asami thanked Pema for the meal and bid goodnight to her, Tenzin and the kids and rushed down to the docks to catch the ferry.
Korra was awakened by her phone. She had fallen asleep at her desk. She groaned and rubbed a hand through her hair before grappling for the phone.
"Alright, alright," she growled as she pushed aside some papers and retrieved the phone. "Yeah?”
"Mr. Sato," she looked at the clock, "Bit late isn't it? Unless you're calling to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep...which I didn't."
"I need you to stop by the house before you head home tonight," he said.
Alarm bells sounded in her head. "Oh. Sure. Something up?"
"I've been thinking about the future of the company and I wanted to run a few things by you."
Korra had that familiar sinking feeling in her gut. Even if Hiroshi has come up with a better excuse for her to come to the Sato estate, the ominous tone of his voice would've still tipped her off. "I'll be right over,” she said calmly. There was no response from the other end before the call ended.
She threw on her coat and exited the building as fast as she could. Once outside she found the closest working phone booth and called Lin. She told her she believed she was walking into a trap. Lin said she would have her force on stand by. Next she called the Sato estate to try and get in touch with Bolin and Mako. After a few moments a voice answered on the other end.
Korra, familiar with the staff, didn't recognize the voice.
"May I speak with Mako please?"
"He's not in. May I take a message," the voice said in a gruff tone. Clearly not one of the house staff.
"No thanks. I'll call back tomorrow. Thank you."
She hung up the phone and dialed for the operator.
"Air Temple Island please."
An air acolyte picked up the phone. After a short wait, which seemed agonizingly slow to Korra, Tenzin got on the line.
"It’s Korra. Is Asami there?"
"She just headed home."
Korra cursed, told Tenzin to call Lin and tore out of the phone booth. She jumped into her car and gunned the engine.
"Hello," asked Asami entering the main hall. She didn't see any of their servants. "Must've given them the night off." There was a note on a table in the middle of the foyer.
'Come to my study - Dad'
Asami proceeded up the stairs. This was unusual. Normally he would meet her at the door. She feared that he had bad news for her. But she couldn't think of what it could be. Maybe it had something to do with the police search this morning.
Korra pulled her car off to the side of the road just outside the main gate. Climbing on top of the hood she jumped and climbed over the wall. Landing on the other side she looked around. Everything appeared to be normal. There was however a large glow in the woods off to the side of the mansion.
Are the test track lights on?
She debated with herself whether to go to the house but she decided to investigate the source of the lights.
Asami knocked on the door to her father's study.
Asami opened the door. Her father was sitting at his desk. "Hey Dad where is--"
She paused. Her father wasn't the only one in the room. Flanking him on each side were tall figures dressed in red and black jumpsuits. The one on the right she recognized mainly due to his mustache. He was the Equalist member she fought on the arena roof. The other figure was one that had haunted her dreams.
It was Amon.
"I'm sorry Asami," said Hiroshi Sato before Asami felt a sharp pain in the back of her neck and then felt her body went numb. She blacked out before she hit the floor.
"Oh spirits." Korra watched from the tree line as a section of the ground open up in front of her. From within inside a mechanical lift ascended with six mechs. They were very similar to the Future Industries power loaders except these ones were armed. Each came to life and rolled off the lift before the lift descended again.
They must be clearing out.
She looked up and saw an airship approaching. She was willingly to bet it wasn't the police.
I need to call Beifong.
She looked back to the house and then suddenly an idea struck her. She looked back at the descending lift. She glanced around and walked out from her cover.
This is stupid. This is stupid. This stupid.
The covering was starting to close. Korra ran as fast as she could, rolled to the ground and fell through just before the doors closed. She landed hard on her side. It took effort not to let out a scream. She got to her feet. Her sides throbbed with pain. It didn't feel like anything was broken. She looked around for cover to which there was none. Yep this was definitely stupid. The elevator slowed down as it reached the bottom and Korra expected to come face to face with an army of goons. Luckily no one was waiting for the elevator. A large metallic door opened and she let an audible gasp. The cavernous room she found herself in was filled with mechs, each one with the Equalist symbol enshrined on it.
There was no doubt now about Hiroshi's involvement now. It was her worst fears fully realized. But she couldn't dwell on that now. She had to send in the cavalry and find Asami.
She quickly ducked behind some crates, fear and adrenaline aiding in getting her aching body to move. They were Equalists here and there, some in uniform and some in white jumpsuits. Korra moved quietly though thankfully none of the men were close to her and were busy packing crates. This gave her an idea. She grabbed a crate and after some effort as well as pain from the side of her body that she fell on she managed to pry open the top. She winced when the top made an audible CRACK! when it came off. The room was already full of various noises so thankfully the crate opening didn't draw any suspicion.
Korra threw aside the packing material and found underneath stacks of electric gloves. She put one on and switched it on. The lights on the panel lit up and felt the hum of the battery. She felt better now that she was armed.
After a few minutes of sneaking around she found a door to an office. She opened it and found inside an Equalist but more importantly a phone. She closed the door behind her and approached the Equalist sitting at the desk. She clapped a hand on his back.
"Hi there! Mind if I use the phone?"
Korra gave him a good shock. He fell forward, his head hitting the desk with a thud.
"Thank you. So very kind." She grabbed the phone and dialed. The dispatch at police headquarters quickly connected to the chief’s office.
"Chief, Korra. I'm at the Sato estate. The place is crawling with Equalists. Hiroshi has an underground warehouse and its full of weapons and mechs. I think they're pulling out tonight. Send in everything you got."
"We're on our way."
"Any sign of Asami,” acquired another voice on the other end. It was Tenzin.
"She's probably at the house. I'll go get her and Mako and Bolin if they're there."
Asami could hear her father's voice. It sounded far away but it gradually got closer and clearer.
"We had an agreement! My daughter was not to be harmed in any way!"
"I'm aware of our agreement," said someone in a deep voice.
"But she is a threat to our plans if you don't make her understand."
"Then give me a chance," hissed Hiroshi. Asami opened her eyes a little. At first all she saw was red. She was lying on the floor staring at the red carpet rug in the center of her father's study. She looked up and saw her father approached the two men: Amon and what appeared to be one of his top men. Amon's companion stepped in front of Hiroshi, blocking him. Hiroshi in a surprise display of strength shoved him aside. He pointed a finger angrily up at Amon who was at two feet taller than the elder Sato. "Don't you forget if it wasn't for me you'd be still standing on your little box in the park. If it wasn't for my inventions you'd be rotting in Beifong's cells. We made this arrangement based on ideals but also on an agreement. No harm comes to my daughter. Don't break it!"
There was a long silence in the room apart from the ticking of the grandfather clock.
"I have honored our arrangement as best as I could and I appreciate the tremendous service you have done for our cause," said Amon, "But we are the crossroad now. You knew this was coming." Hiroshi lowered his head. "Make her understand. You know what we have to do if she doesn't join us." Hiroshi nodded. He took off his glasses and wiped them.
"I think she's coming around," said Amon's aide.
Hiroshi turned and gently kneeled down on the ground and lowered his head so he was eye level with her. She closed eyes in response, her head still throbbing from the blow. "Asami," he asked gently. Her eyes opened and met his gaze.
"Dad," she said softly, "what have you done?"
Hiroshi sighed. "I'm sorry Asami. I know this difficult to understand--"
"You been supplying these thugs," asked Asami, her voice rising. "Why? Did they threaten you?"
"As difficult as this might be to believe but I'm helping Amon because I agree with him." His expression turned serious. "I am an Equalist."
Asami stared at him for a long time. She closed her eyes. She hoped that this was a nightmare. That she would wake up in her room and everything would be fine. The mere sight of her father standing next to Amon was reason enough to believe that it was all a product of her mind. She shook away these thoughts and concentrated, trying to block everything else out.
Aang. Aang I need you.
"Asami, listen to me," said Hiroshi, "You know just as well as I do that nonbenders are treated like dirt. We raise a hand to protect ourselves and we're locked away while Triads are allowed to freely roam the streets to rob and terrorize. You've seen what this city is like! Think of your mother!" This got Asami's attention. "It was benders who took away your mother." He scoffed. "They didn't get justice. Just locked away."
"B-But I thought they died," she asked, horrified to know that her mother's killers were still alive somewhere.
"That's what everyone was told. This is what I'm saying. There is no justice anymore. Unless you're a bender."
"And you think taking away people's bending is justice?”
"I expected as much from you having spent years being brainwashed by the White Lotus." He shook his head. "We should've never told anyone you were the Avatar. It has brought nothing but pain and grief to our family."
She looked at him with glare. "Mom believed in the Avatar. Remember how happy she was when she found out what I could do? If Mom were here she'd be sicken to hear the things you're spouting and the friends you've made."
"Don't you dare talk to me about my wife," roared Hiroshi, his expression one of pure rage, a side of him Asami had never seen of him even during the dark period following her mother's death. The mere volume of his voice and expression on his face was just as powerful as the physical blow that had knocked her out. "What do you know? You only knew her for a short period, I knew her for thirteen years! Don't you dare lecture me about my wife! If you wasn't for you and your Avatar powers she'd still be alive."
She stared at him in pure shock and she felt like she was about to breakdown in tears. But something prevented from doing so. A voice in her mind that prevented her emotions from taking over, the part of her that still recognized the dangerous situation she was in. The voice told her that this wasn't her father anymore. This wasn't her home anymore. Inside her mind all those precious memories of her childhood and of her parents burned away. The image she that still held in her mind was of her mother. Sitting on her bed letting her brush her hair. She held onto that image tightly. She prayed for the Avatar State so she could send everything else around her to oblivion. But her body was still paralyzed as well restrained.
There was nothing she could do.
So this is how I meet my end. Quite a short tenure.
"Asami?" It was her father. She looked up at him. His expression was now back to gentle, almost pleading. "Will you join me? Together we can bring justice back to the world. Make it great again equal." He leaned down and gently stroked Asami's hair. "Think about your mother. What they did to her."
Asami gave her father the heaviest glare she could muster and in a low voice she gave her reply: "Don't ever mention Mom to me again you piece of shit." She turned to Amon. "Go ahead and kill me. I'd rather die."
"I'm afraid that's not going to happen," said Amon stepping forward, "But I will purge of your bending. That was the deal I made with your father and I'm honorable man. I shall respect his wishes."
Asami closed her eyes. "It would seem the father I knew died a long time ago."
"I told you that wine tasted funny," said Bolin.
"Oh give it a rest," said Mako.
"Will the both of you give it a rest. Giving me a headache," said the Equalist guarding them.
The brothers had been drugged during dinner and now sat tied up on the floor in the billiards room.
The door opened and another Equalist entered.
"Where's the Avatar," asked the Equalist, clearly a woman by her voice.
"In the study. Why," asked the guard.
There was a bright flash and a crackle. The guard crumbled to the floor. The Equalist removed her mask.
"Man these guys are dumb," said Korra.
"Korra," exclaimed Mako and Bolin.
"Hush! You want to put the whole place on alert?" She began untying them.
"You're an Equalist," asked Bolin. Korra stared at him blankly and then gave him a small slap on the cheek. "Ow!"
"How did you--", Mako started to ask.
"No time." She pulled the ropes away. She thrust a pair of keys into Mako's hand. "My car is parked just outside the main gate. Drive it up to the front door. I'll meet you there."
"Ooh can I drive," asked Bolin.
"No." Korra stood, pulled on her mask and was out the door without another word.
Bolin turned to Mako. "Can I please drive?"
As Korra was bounding up the stairs and ran towards the study and barged in. What she saw stopped her dead in her tracks. Two Equalists had a firm grip on Asami while Amon was leaning down towards her, her fingers inches from her forehead. Korra could feel her body freeze as could guess what was about to happen based on what Asami and the others had told her of the night they saved Bolin from a similar fate.
She snapped to attention. "Sir! Our operation has been compromised!" She hoped Hiroshi, whom she loathed so much in that moment for just standing by as her daughter was held down and about to have something personal to her taken away, didn't recognize her voice.
"What? How,” exclaimed Hiroshi. Korra breathed a sigh of relief.
Before Korra could come up with an excuse a loud voice came from behind her which made her jump. "Sir!" It was another Equalist soldier. "Police sirens in the distance."
"Everyone pull out. Take the Avatar to the airship," said Amon. "Mr. Sato I suggest you come with us." Hiroshi nodded.
Asami was pulled to her feet and dragged out of the room. Korra followed them, waiting for the perfect moment to snatch her away.
"Where are you going?"
She looked behind her. It was a tall, thin Equalist.
"What does it look like," she said looking ahead. They were coming to a stairwell. "Taking the Avatar to the airship."
"Stand at attention when I'm speaking to him," barked the man following after her.
"Why I should I? I don't take orders from men," she growled, doing her best impression of a friend she knew at college.
A hand grabbed her shoulder. "Who are you?"
Korra grabbed him, heaved him over her shoulder and flipped him down the stairs.
"You just threw the Lieutenant down the stairs," said one of the Equalists carrying Asami.
"Was that who it was? Huh. Well what do you know." She shocked both guards and grabbed Asami before she hit the floor. Asami struggled to break free. "Sami relax its me."
"Yes. Long story. Let's get the hell out of here." They managed to descend the stairs. "How are you feeling?"
In front of them the Lieutenant was starting to get to his feet. Asami kicked him in the face knocking him out.
They dashed for the front door, Korra helping Asami as she limped along, the work of the chi blockers wearing off. They threw open the front door and saw at the bottom of the stairs Mako and Bolin pull up.
"THE AVATAR IS GETTING AWAY," screamed a voice from within the house.
"Shit," cursed Korra. They ran down the stairs towards their only chance at freedom. The police sirens were closer now. Korra wanted to be far away when the fighting started. "Bolin grab Asami! Mako move over!"
Bolin hauled Asami into the back seat while Korra jumped into the driver's seat. She floored it, tires squealing. She sped down the long drive way. Ahead of them was one of the main gates but it was closed and it was risky turn back and go for the other one. It also would've put them into the path of any Eqaulist members not to mention the oncoming police force.
"Mako! Clear a path!"
Mako stood up in the passenger seat and launched a powerful ball of flame towards the iron gate, blasting it open. Korra pulled the handbrake and did a tight turn onto the road. As she sped down the road the police were just arriving at the estate. A police cruiser broke off from the main group and gave chase.
"Korra pull over," yelled Mako.
"Not until we're clear!"
She continued to lead the cruisers for half a mile before pulling off to the side. Korra put the car in park and tore off her mask.
"Spirits that was intense," she said trying to catch her breath, her adrenaline slowly receding. She could hear a cop speak into his radio.
"We have them Chief."
Korra turned to her friends. "Everyone alright?"
Mako and Bolin nodded, shaken but unhurt. Asami sat in the backseat, hugging herself, her head lowered and tears flowing down her cheeks.
Chapter 9: Out of the Past
Team Avatar is reformed but their first outing as a group doesn't go as planned. Avatar Aang takes his successor on a trip to the past to warn her of events to come.
Sokka and Suki's children created by Kyoshi Girl (https://www.fanfiction.net/u/6123467/buttsandguts)
Artwork by Lesly-Oh (http://lesly-oh.tumblr.com/)
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.”
Chapter 10: Separation and Chaos
The Equalists make their move on the city and Team Avatar are forced to go into hiding.
I was hoping again to have this update out much, much sooner but various life factors caused this delay. That and I wanted to make a long chapter to make up for the wait. Hopefully it won't take me as long for the next chapter, which will finally wrap up the Book 1 story line.
Thank you again for your patience, kudos and of course comments which I love to read.
Asami was relieved when the questioning finally ceased and she no longer had to tell the same story for a third time. But she understood that it was a lot to take in. She was also relieved that she was back with her friends and that she had managed to avoid yet another Eqaulist trap. The question that remained was what Tarrlok’s connection to Amon was. The two scenarios that Asami, Tenzin and Lin had collectively come up was that either Tarrlok was in league with Amon, his Equalist task force hitting low level targets and giving off the false impression that the Eqaulist problem was being effectively dealt with. The second was that the two were not in league with another and that Amon somehow managed to track Tarrlok to his remote cabin in an attempt to kidnap Asami.
After a long discussion Tenzin and Lin excused themselves and let Asami get some sleep. Mako offered to stay behind. This took Asami by surprise but she didn’t object.
As Tenzin and Lin left she swore she could hear Korra’s voice outside.
Korra had managed to grab Tenzin and Lin’s attention and alerted them to the fact Air Temple Island wasn’t exactly safe and was concerned in regards to not only to Asami’s safety but the safety of Pema and the children.
“I appreciate your concern Korra,” said Tenzin. Korra noted a look on his face that seemed to tell her that he too had the same fears. “But we had adequate protection here.”
Korra raised a brow. “You mean the White Lotus guys? Please. No offense Chief but the Eqaulists took on pretty much half your police force during the Probending tournament. I think this matter is a bit too much for city cops to handle.”
“She’s right,” Lin said bluntly, much to the surprise of Tenzin and Korra. “We need to get the military involved in this.”
Tenzin let out a sigh. “I guess I’m going to have to make a call. I won’t like it.”
Lin bumped Tenzin’s arm with her elbow. “One madman to take down another. Seems only logical. You make the call and then you need to leave here.”
Lin put her hands on her hips. “You heard me. You, Pema and the kids need to leave. Go to one of the Air Temples. Go visit your Mom. I’m pretty sure Izumi will have some rooms for you at the Royal Palace. I think Amon is about to make a move and I don’t want you here when he does.”
Tenzin stroked his beard. “I’ll have to discuss this Pema.”
“Don’t discuss, do it,” said Lin, clearly annoyed now with Tenzin’s indecisiveness, “In fact by late afternoon I want you and your family to be well on your way.”
Tenzin mulled the idea around. “Well…”
Lin let out an exasperated sigh. “Look I’ll your water your damn plants while you’re gone. That enough?”
“Okay, okay,” he said holding up his hands. “Let me talk with Pema and see if she’s well enough to travel.”
“I’ll be at headquarters. Let me know when you reach the military and if they’re able to assist.”
“The council is going to fire me for this,” lamented Tenzin.
“Well let’s just hope there will be a council to go back to,” said Lin as she left.
Korra managed to get some rest due to Tenzin’s insistence and awoke about three hours later. Activity around the house had quieted down compared to the morning. Bolin was asleep, the kids were packing supplies and putting them on Oogi’s saddle while Pema and Rohan got some rest. Tenzin managed to get in contact with his brother in the United Forces and a fleet was inbound to Republic City. Tenzin had not heard a word from Lin.
Korra went into the kitchen and made herself a much-needed cup of coffee. She could hear Jinora, Ikki and Meelo talking in the courtyard just outside the kitchen. Despite an intake of caffeine Korra felt herself just starting to drift back to sleep when the door to the kitchen suddenly opened.
“Can I get some hot water? Asami needs more tea.”
Korra lifted her head. Mako stood in the doorway holding a kettle in his hand. The words said to her were so sudden and fast her brain hadn’t fully comprehended what had been said. “What?”
Mako rolled his eyes. “Oh never mind!” He went over to the sink and began to refill the kettle. “So I’m guessing we’re going to have to talk about last night.”
“Oh that,” said Korra with a yawn, stretching her arms above her head.
“Now I know that times have been rather stressful—“
“I meant it,” said Korra bluntly. Mako turned off the water and turned to face her, an expression of hurt on his face. Korra inwardly grimaced. She remembered what she had told Asami weeks prior in that she had wanted to avoid any drama and wanted a clean break. Clearly they were well past that point. “Sorry but it’s true.”
“Ah.” He left the kettle in the sink and leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms, looking like a disappointed father rather then a dumped boyfriend. “How long have you felt this way?”
“A while. A month. Maybe two.”
“Well why didn’t you tell me sooner,” he asked although not in a wanting to understand manner but more demandingly.
“Well, obviously I knew you wouldn’t handle it well.”
“Oh really,” asked Mako, now fully annoyed.
Korra was not in a mood for this. “Yeah really,” she retorted. “And you’re perfectly illustrating why I felt like things needed to end. You’re in this perpetual state of being moody, demanding and judgmental and then act all charming in order to win back favors, namely a ticket to my bed. Then after you get your jollies you go right back to being the edgy loner who thinks he’s cool.” Korra took her coffee cup in her hand. “But honestly you’re just kind of a dick.” She took a sip of her drink. “So yeah its over and done. Not looking for an argument and not willing to consider a second chance,” she said, adding, “It’s done.”
She watched Mako take this all in, staring down at his feet.
“Wow. Okay.” He lifted his head and looked at her, clearly hurt but also angry. “Well let me state my opinion on the matter.”
Korra shook her head. “I really don’t care.”
“Well I don’t care if you don’t care! Since you’re were so willingly to give an assessment on my character, I have a few words about you,” he said walking over to her.
“That I’m a motor head and I spend too much time working. Yeah I’ve heard it before. So sorry that I couldn’t devote myself full time to being your cheerleader on the side lines,” she said, voice dripping with sarcasm.
Mako paused in his verbal argument as Korra hadn’t pretty much taken away his only ammunition.
As Korra waited for him to recollect his thoughts she heard Naga barking from down the hall. A walk with Naga was good way to exit this situation she really didn’t want to be in.
“Well I think,” stuttered Mako before he was silenced Korra suddenly grabbed his arm and squeezed tight, a finger tightly against her lips, a look of alert on her face. “What is it?”
“Listen,” she whispered.
He did. All he can hear was Naga barking down the hall. “Naga probably needs a walk.”
“Not that,” said Korra, getting slowly to her feet, “I can’t hear the kids outside.”
Mako listened again and found that she was right. He could hear them being their usual rowdy selves from Asami’s room. He was planning on going outside to tell them to lower their voices.
Korra walked towards the door that led out to the courtyard. “Jinora,” she called loudly. There was no answer. Naga’s barks were getting louder and now more aggressive. She raised her right hand only to remember she had left her glove in her bedroom.
The door in front of them suddenly crashed open and an Equalist soldier stood there, kali stick in hand. A fire blast from Mako send him flying but another quickly took his place. Behind them another door was kicked in and Korra turned to see another soldier rush in behind them. She grabbed for her coffee cup and threw it in the Eqaulist’s face. He screamed and stumbled backward giving Korra the opportunity to punch him, knocking him out. She armed herself with his kali sticks.
Mako was managed to keep the intruders from entering the house while also trying not to set fire to it. More Eqaulists began to rush the kitchen via multiple entry points now. Korra grabbed Mako and they ran for the corridor.
“Tenzin! Asami,” yelled Korra.
Up ahead Bolin emerged from his room, rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on,” he said with a yawn.
“Big trouble,” said Mako.
“Huh?” Bolin looked over Mako’s shoulder to see a group of Eqaulists charging down the hall. “Oh.”
Korra, Mako and Bolin got ready to fight when suddenly the shoji doors blasted outward, slamming into the Eqaulists and knocking them over.
Asami emerged from her room, in her pajamas, hair a mess, an enraged look on her face. Naga appeared at her side. “Where are the kids?”
“They were out in the court yard,” said Korra.
Behind there was a crash as the door to Tenzin’s room shattered and Equalist was blow down the hallway.
“Get out of my house,” roared Tenzin as he emerged from his room. He turned toward the group. “The kids?”
“Stay with Pema, we’ll get them,” said Asami as she took off the hall, Korra and the others following after her.
Racing into the courtyard Asami saw Oogi lying on his head, unconscious. Standing in the middle of the courtyard were a handful of Eqaulist, roughly seven or eight packed close together wielding gloves, kali sticks and bolas rope. At their feet were Jinora, Ikki and Meelo bound with rope and gagged.
“Come quietly with us Avatar,” said the Eqaulist in the center. Asami recognized him by his mustache. “We don’t want to hurt these children.” To prove his point he activated his kali stick and ignited a small spark.
“You again,” growled Asami. “Should’ve known you’d stoop so low to attacking children.”
“You and your kind brought this upon yourselves,” said the Lieutenant. “Now again come quietly or el—“
Asami stomped her foot on the ground and the stone blocks underneath the Eqaulist jolted upward and sent them up into the air. A roundhouse kick produced a wave of fire, which sent them flying. With the intruders out of the way Asami, Korra and Mako sent about untying the children.
“Kids!” Tenzin emerged from what was left of the kitchen with Pema and Rohan.
“Mom! Dad,” chorused the children as they were freed from the ropes and rushed to the safety of their parents.
The happy reunion was cut short by the sound of far off explosions. Asami and the others rushed to the other side of the house and saw plumes of smoke rise from downtown. Overhead a police airship moved in to survey the area but suddenly it exploded into a ball of fire, the burning wreckage falling from the sky and crashing into the streets below.
Horrified Asami looked up and saw an entire fleet of airships bearing the Eqaulist logo move in over the city. She immediately headed back to the courtyard.
“You need to leave. Now,” she said to Tenzin and Pema.
Tenzin looked past Asami and watched as smoke rose from the city. He couldn’t help but glance over at the statue of Aang in the distance. Pema reached over and grabbed his hand. He looked at her. Asami watched as the two had conversation without actually speaking. They had been married long enough that everything that needed to be said was expressed by an expression.
“The United Forces are on their way,” said Tenzin, “What will you do?”
Asami gave him smile. “Why do you think? A lot of fighting and property damage.”
Tenzin returned her smile. “That is the Team Avatar way.”
Much to everyone’s relief Oogi managed to regain consciousness and the air family climbed into his saddle. Korra approached the group carrying Naga.
“If you guys don’t mind, if you could take Naga with—“
Naga sensed was going on and quickly leapt out of Korra’s arms and sat down, looking up at her.
“Naga you have to go. It’s not safe here.” Naga didn’t budge. Korra shook her head. “You’re so stubborn.” She got down on her knees and cupped her Naga’s head. “Guess that’s why we’re a perfect match.”
Asami saw an airship break off from the main group and start heading in their direction.
“Tenzin you need to leave now.”
“I know.” He leaned down and offered his hand. Asami took it. “Good luck Asami.”
“You too.” Asami released her grip and stepped back as Tenzin took the reigns and guided Oogi into the air. Asami watched worriedly as the bison ascended for it was clear that Oogi was still not up to full speed. The bison turned and headed south towards the ocean.
“That airship’s getting close,” said Bolin, “I suggest we gather up whatever we need and get out of here.”
Asami watched the departing family a second longer before rushing into the house to get dressed.
“I see the Avatar bested you…again,” said Amon as he stood over his Lieutenant. The Lieutenant got to his feet, saying nothing as he had no excuse. “Search the islands before you head back to the city. We’ll have Councilman Tenzin and his family shortly.” With that Amon turned and walked away. He grabbed onto a line and was pulled up into one of the hovering airships above.
The Lieutenant turned his men who were staggering to their feet. “You heard him! Find them!”
The group emerged across the bay at one of the dry docks having made their unnoticed escape via an air bubble created by Asami and walking across the floor of the bay. Letting the bubble drop the group made their way towards the street.
“That was fun,” said Korra, “Let’s never do that again.”
“Yue Bay is a scary place,” agreed Bolin, “I mean who would dump a perfectly good Satomobile in the river?”
“There’s probably a body in the trunk,” said Mako.
“Well that’s imagery I didn’t need.”
Ahead of them Asami had suddenly stopped.
“Asami,” asked Korra.
“Look,” said Asami.
They did and saw a towering building above them engulfed in flames.
It was police headquarters.
Making their way through back alleys the group surveyed the downtown square and saw a mass of mech tanks gathered, overseeing a vast amount of people being led into Eqaulist trucks, many of whom were police officers.
“I don’t see Beifong anywhere,” said Mako.
“Hey its Chief Beifong we’re talking about,” said Bolin, “She never let them take her alive….oh wait.”
Asami growled and starting to walk forward, leaving the cover of the alley.
“Wait,” hissed Mako, him and Korra grabbing onto Asami’s jacket.
“Let me go,” demanded Asami.
“Asami there’s too many of them,” reasoned Korra.
“We can take them,” said Asami.
“We can and we will,” said Mako, “When the United Forces arrive.”
“I agree,” said Bolin.
Asami looked to Korra.
“As much as I’d like to bust some heads we’d be minced meat the second we stepped out there.”
Asami looked back and saw countless police officers and civilians being led prisoner into the trucks. “No. I can’t. I’m the Avatar. I’m supposed to be their protector.” She turned to the rest of the group. “I’m tired of running away.”
The others exchange worried glances but before Korra spoke up: “Alright,” she said with a shrug. “How do we want to do this?”
Asami gave her a small smile and look back towards the square. The Equalists were almost finished corralling the police officers into the trucks. “Whatever we do we have to do it fast or else those officers will be taken away.”
“We could follow after them and rescue them when they stop,” offered Bolin.
“I can’t believe we’re actually considering—“, began Mako but Asami cut him off.
“That’s a good idea Bolin but we might actually face greater opposition.”
“If I were to take out one of those mechs,” said Korra, “would you be able to handle the rest?”
Asami perked a brow. “I think so. But how are going to—“
Korra was already walking away, surveying the cars parked on the street. “Nope, nope, nope,” she said as she passed a number of large vehicles. “Aha!” She found an older model of the Satomobile roadster. “Someone get me a long cloth or something like it.” She tried to open the driver’s side door. It was locked.
“Hopefully you know a way to get into these Satomobiles without a key,” asked Asami.
“If I had some tools and time yes, but I’ll have to go with the quicker option.” She walked over to the sidewalk, picked a nearby trashcan and hurled at the side window, smashing it. She tossed the garbage can aside. “There we are.” She unlocked the door and slid in. Naga attempted to follow her. “No girl. This is a car ride you don’t want to come along on.”
“How’s this,” asked Bolin holding a torn piece of an awning.
“What do you want me to do with it?”
Korra nodded her head to the rear of the car. “Stuff it into the gas tank.” Bolin gave her a confused look but did as requested. Korra focused on prying a section of paneling off the steering column and began to hotwire the ignition. After a couple tries the car sprung to life. “Okay here is my crazy plan. I’m going to floor this sucker at one of those tanks. I need a firebender in the backseat. When I give the go ahead you’re going to lit the newspapers that Bolin is stuffing into the gas tank. We bail out and the car will go up.”
“Well you were correct in that it’s crazy,” said Mako.
Asami jumped into the backseat. “How do you know the tank won’t immediately explode once I light the paper?”
“Asami please,” said Korra with smug confidence, “I’ve been on satomobiles for like four years now. I think I know how these machines work.”
Asami leaned forward. “You don’t really know do you?”
The smug smile dropped immediately. “No not really. But give me credit I’m thinking this up as go along.” She shifted the car into first gear. “Ready Bo?”
“Ready!” The wad of newspapers had been stuffed into the fuel tank.
Korra revved the engine. “You and Mako be ready to back us up.”
“We’ll be there,” assured Mako.
“I’m going to regret this aren’t I,” she said gripping the seat.
“That’s the spirit!” Korra gunned the engine, weaving sharply out of the parking spot.
Asami let out a yelp as she was thrown back against the back seat. At the intersection Korra swerved the car to the right and then to the left, mounting the curb. They were now driving across the plaza and so far they hadn’t been noticed. Korra put her foot down and shifted into second gear.
“Asami get ready!”
Asami heaved herself to the side of the car and placed her hand over the fuel tank.
The distance between them and the mech was rapidly diminishing. Korra realized that she should’ve grabbed something to hold down the accelerator once they bailed out. She had to hope that momentum would keep the car going towards its target.
“NOW,” screamed Korra as she brought her feet up onto the seat. Asami sparked a fireball in her hand and ignited the newspapers. Korra made one last course correction before placing a foot onto the door. “BAIL OUT!”
The two hauled themselves over the side and hit the ground as the car sped away. Asami used the little airbending she knew to cushion her landing while Korra landed hard on her side. “Sorry.”
The two looked up in time to see the driverless car close in on the mech tank. At the last second did it notice the oncoming threat and start to turn but it was too late. The car smashed into the tank’s side and erupt in a giant explosion seconds later. The impact of the explosion was enough to cripple the tank’s tracks and knock it backwards. After some hasty maneuvers to get itself upright the tank could not escape gravity and it tipped backwards and smashed onto the ground.
“Shit that actually worked,” said Korra.
The Eqaulists were stunned too but that didn’t last long as Mako and Bolin quickly arrived on the scene and began they’re attack. Asami sprang to her feet and went to aid them. Korra wobbly got onto her feet.
“Right. Not the right time to thank for my brilliant, crazy plan.”
The other mech tank moved in to the repel the attack but quick thinking on Bolin’s part by bending a rock slab under one of it’s tracks easily knocked the tank onto its side, lying beside its fallen comrade. After that it wasn’t difficult to dispatch the rest of the Equalists who were not only caught off guard but also not as confident in fighting without the protection of the tanks.
“Well that went better then I expected,” panted Bolin as leaned against the side of one the trucks. Korra and Mako were making fast work of untying the officers inside.
One of them was Captain Saikhan.
“What is going on,” he asked, rubbing his wrists after being freed. “It’s like the whole city just fell apart in an instant.”
“That’s exactly what happened,” said Asami, “With Dad’s technology it was a lot easier to stage a coup.”
Saikhan grunted. “If the council hadn’t dragged their feet this could’ve been avoided.”
“They’re on their way. Right you and your men need to get away from downtown to one of the outer precincts. Hold up there and wait for the cavalry.”
Saikhan looked around. “Where’s the Chief?”
“She said she’d be here,” said Korra.
“The last I heard she was on Temple Island,” Saikhan.
Asami had a difficult time processing the thought the Equalists taking down Lin Beifong. Then again she knew how powerful Amon was. “You need to leave before back-up shows up.”
Saikhan nodded and he got into the back of one of the trucks while one of his officers took the wheel. “What about you? You can come with us.”
“Go on without us. We’ll hunker down until the United Forces show up.”
“Well good luck Avatar,” he said with a firm nod and with that the trucks sped off.
Asami turned to her friends. “Come on. We need to get out of sight.”
“I guess crashing at my place is out of question,” asked Korra. Up ahead she saw Bolin and Mako prying open a manhole cover. “Oh. Of course. Instead of the thousands of buildings in this city with adequate shelter, let’s go down into the sewer.” She watched as one by one they descended down the ladder. Korra crossed her arms. “You know what, I’m not going.” She waited for the others to realize their mistake in choosing a hiding place and come back up.
“Come on Korra!”
Naga came running up to Korra after hanging back during the fight. Korra sighed. “Come on Naga.” She picked the canine and awkwardly slid herself into the manhole.
To the group’s relief the manhole led to the city’s drainage system although there was still an odor in the air. After wandering around for hours they finally spotted daylight at the end of one of the tunnels. Reaching it they found it led into the bay and they now had a view of the city. Clouds of smoke hung in the air as Equalist soldiers did battle with the Republic City Police Department at the precincts in the outer boroughs.
Again there was that drive in Asami that compelled her to act but she knew had to be patient and wait for the United Forces to arrive. After the chaotic day they all had yesterday and the fight this morning, the group was in no shape so the decision was made to hold up in the pipe.
The next morning Asami was awakened by Bolin who excitedly told her that ships were entering the bay. Upon arriving at the end of the pipe there was a fleet of United Forces battle ships pulling inn the harbor. It was such an unusual sight to behold but Asami felt relief that finally this nightmare could end.
The group could spot landing craft being prepared on the side of the nearest ship.
“We should go and meet them so we can update them on the—“ Asami’s words were cut by a loud blaring horn coming from one of the ships and pretty soon all the ships started sounding alarm bells. They could see men scrambling on the deck.
“General Quarters! General Quarters!”, a voice blared on an intercom.
There was a roar as the main battery of the ship turned and started firing into the sky, at what they couldn’t see.
“Equalist Airships,” asked Bolin.
“That would be suicide,” said Korra, “Those canons would take them out in one shot.”
“Come on.” Mako led the group out of the pipe and onto the shoreline. Above them on the sea wall were a group of civilians, the first they had seen in hours, gathered to watch.
They all ducked as there was a clatter of machine gun fire coming from the nearest ship. The other ships were firing as well but in the opposite direction. The canons boomed like thunder and the group felt the ground shake.
“What the hell are they shooting at,” exclaimed Mako.
“Maybe it’s those things,” said Bolin pointing behind them. The group turned in time to see a biplane dive toward them. They threw themselves onto the ground as the plane screeched overhead. The plane was aiming for the nearest ship, its wheels barely 20 feet off the ground. It was carrying something on its undercarriage. Seconds later a long silver object dropped into the water.
Korra watched in horror as the torpedo disappeared into the water. “It’s—“ She stopped herself as she watched the plane bank upwards into the sky. She recognized the plane model. Those were Future Industries planes now with an Equalist paint job.
A geyser of water shot up into the air around the ship followed by a loud explosion. The group could see the shockwave fan out from the impact site over the waves. When it hit the shoreline they were knocked to their feet.
Smoke billowed from the ship’s stern section. With its engine room hit and now flooding the mighty ship was dead in the water. It only took less then a minute for the first wave of planes to hit their targets. Plums of smoke and fireballs filled the skies as one by one the fleet was decimated.
Now a second wave was lining up in the skies above like vultures circling around a wounded animal.
The ship nearest to them lurched to the side as alarms went off. The guns had stopped firing and now the sailors were helping each other into the life rafts.
“Here they come again,” said Mako as a new group of planes were beginning their attack run.
“Mako! Bolin! Knock them out of the sky,” yelled Asami, lighting a fire in her hand.
Korra looked at her Equalist glove. Being a short-range weapon it was useless. She spotted a small dock down the shore with boats tied up. “I’ll grab a boat to pick up any survivors.”
“Right. Be careful,” said Asami.
Korra turned towards the tunnel where Naga was cowering. “Naga! Stay!” Naga didn’t need the command as the dog, who was used to lounging around and going to the park, was not handling the chaos going around her very well. Korra took off for the dock.
“First one coming in,” said Mako as a plane seemed to be heading for them.
“Bo! Take it out!”
Bolin bent up a large boulder and when the plane was within range he launched it upwards. The rock caught the plane’s left wing, snapping it off and sending the plane into a tailspin and careening into the water where it was smashed to pieces upon impact.
Another plane quickly followed it. Asami and Mako hit it with a fire blast and the plane met a similar fate although it combusted before it hit the water.
After they were able to take down another plane and badly damaged another the rest of the planes abandoned their attack. But the damage was already done. The fleet was crippled and stranded in the middle of the harbor. While most of the landing crafts were intact without the support of armored tanks and vehicles, which were stored in the cargo hold of the now sinking battleships, there wasn’t much the infantry could do.
Korra worked fast to get as many survivors into the fishing boat she commandeered. One of them was a tall middle age man with jet-black hair and gold eyes.
“Thanks for your help,” he said to Korra after making sure everyone was onboard. “General Iroh. Commander of the Northern Fleet.” He looked over the burning wreckage. “What’s left of it.”
“What now sir,” asked one of the sailors.
“First we get ashore and out of sight. Bunker down until reinforcements arrive.”
Korra turned the ship back to the dock. “Reinforcements?”
“I sent out the CQD. It will take Commander Bumi about two days to get here. Knowing him he’ll probably make it in one. He loves a good fight.”
“But what the others,” asked one of the soldiers.
Iroh looked back. A lot of the lifeboats were headed towards downtown or one of the Burroughs on the opposite side of the bay. “They know what to do. They’ve trained for situations like this but without any kind of armored support there isn’t much we can do.” He looked at Korra. “You wouldn’t happen to know where the Avatar is would you?”
As the sun set later that evening thick smoke and a stench of burning fuel and metal hung in the air as what remained of General Iroh’s fleet burned and slowly sank into the bay. Standing in the drainage pipe, Asami, Mako and Bolin silently surveyed the carnage until the sun had completely set. When night fell the city remained dark, the only source of light was the fires on the bay as oil had starting leaking from the submerged wrecks. The usual sounds of a bustling metropolis were absent, replaced by loud explosions and the metallic cries as steel buckled and twisted.
The scene reminded Asami of something out of a fantastical tale or ancient myths that describe an underworld where evil lurks and damned souls languished for eternity.
Asami turned and found Korra had joined them in the tunnel, seated with her back against the wall, Naga by her side. Naga, sensing the drama in the air, sat beside her owner and tried to comfort her by nuzzling her hand. Korra strokes the canine’s head, looking away from her friends.
“Wait for military back-up,” said Mako. “Not much else we can do.”
Korra, Bolin and Mako jumped a little at the outburst and watched as Asami turned toward them, a look of determination on her face, her figure illuminated by the glow of the fires.
“I’m done being this passive Avatar,” she said, her voice softer now but firm. “All my life I’ve been hidden away, told to be patient and to let others act for me. Well it’s now time for me to step up.” She closed her eyes, letting out a sigh. “I could’ve stopped this.” Before anyone could argue this idea she spoke again. “But I’m going to end this.”
Korra stood up. “What’s the plan?”
“Wait hold up,” said Mako, “I think we should wait for more United Forces troops to arrive.”
“Yeah because the first batch worked out so well,” said Korra. She turned to General Iroh. “No offense.”
“I’m all up for taking on Amon,” said Bolin, “Anything to get out of this sewer.”
Mako sighed as he was essentially outvoted. “Well might as well go down swinging.”
Bolin put his arm around his brother’s shoulder. “That’s the spirit!”
“Alright,” said Asami, getting everyone’s attention, “Mako and I will do so reconnaissance work and try to get our hands on some Equalists gear. Bolin and Korra will try and get some idea of where the Amon keeps his mech tanks and planes. If we don’t knock those out, General Bumi’s fleet won’t have a chance when they get here.”
“I’ll go with them,” said Iroh, noting how Asami eyes his injured arm. “It’s better then sitting around here. I might be able to round up some of men who managed to avoid capture.”
“Sounds like plan,” said Mako, “Alright. We’ll meet back here in three hours. Try not to get captured or killed.”
“Inspiring words there captain,” Bolin said sarcastically.
Korra and Naga were the only living beings on the streets, as the city seemed to be deserted. Looking at the surrounding buildings she saw shops locked up tight, curtains drawn over windows and a store shutter with words: ‘Looters will be killed on sight.’ Korra had no intention of trying to break in anywhere but her stomach grumbled at the sight of the closed groceries, coffee shops and automats.
Korra reached into her pocket and broke a dog treat in half.
“Here you go girl.” Naga happily scoffed down the biscuit. Korra rubbed her faithful companion’s ear. “No sense in the both of us starving.”
Turning the corner Korra looked down one of the main avenues of the city and the sight of it being devoid of any people or vehicles and lit only by the flickering streetlights sent a chill down her spine.
“Like a ghost town huh,” she asked Naga, for no particular reason other than the silence was starting to get to her.
It was ten blocks to the Future Industries building and it was there that Korra saw the first signs of Equalists. They patrolled the streets in armored vehicles similar to police vans. The lack of light worked in Korra’s favor as she was able to duck into dark alleys to avoid detection despite the goggles that the Equalists wore worked as a night vision device.
After timing the vans patterns and how long it took them to circle the block, Korra and Naga waited before dashing across the street. Once on the other side Korra began to frantically search for a door to which one of her keys worked on. They found one and were able to duck inside before they were spotted.
A simple pen light was all Korra had to navigate the dark halls. The building had been shut down and cordoned off by the police ever since the night at the mansion. To Korra’s dismay the elevators were out of service so her only option to reach her workshop was taking the stairs.
“We can never get a break, huh Naga?”
Reaching the sixth floor Korra unlocked her workshop and turned on the lights. She gave a brief glance to the nearly complete roadster before heading to her workbench, pulling off her glove and hooking it up to a car battery. Despite being an ingenious bit of engineering the device still needed to charge.
Opening one of the drawers Korra pulled out a bag of dog food and a bowl, which she kept for days she brought Naga to work.
“Here you go girl.”
Naga wagged her tail excitedly as her owner placed the bowl on the floor.
“I’ll get you some water.”
She grabbed a crowbar off the workbench along with a bag from one of the cabinets. Heading to the break room down the hall she filled a bowl with water for Naga and then got to work on the snack machine. Prying it open with the crowbar she began to stuff snacks and soft drinks into the bag.
“Theft is against company policy Korra.”
Korra froze. She recognized the voice but the tone associated seemed alien to her. She slowly turned around and saw Ito standing in the doorway.
The kindly parts manager was unrecognizable with the cold glare in his eyes, slightly disheveled appearance and sharp tone of his voice.
“Mr. Sato thought you might come back here. I’m glad you showed. I was getting quite bored.”
Korra saw that he had an object in his hand that was reflecting off the overhead lights. It was a pistol. The crowbar was on the table and her glove was down the hall.
Korra gritted her teeth. “I suppose you’re part of this revolution.”
“Truthfully I couldn’t give a shit,” he said, “But what I am is loyal to Mr. Sato. He gave me a job here long before you were born and I owe it to him.”
“Twenty-five years of breaking your back working in a warehouse,” said Korra, her mind racing to see how she would get out of this, “Seems like upward mobility to me.”
“I was content,” Ito snarled, raising the gun up. “I’m not a schemer like you whose always looking for a way to the top and will lie, cheat and betray to do it.”
Korra’s blood boiled. “You think I talked to the police about Sato in order to rise up in the company? Please! I did it because what he’s doing is illegal!”
“How,” asked Ito, “Future Industries has military contracts. How is that any different from our dealings with Amon?”
Korra snorted. “That’s such bullshit reasoning I’m not even going to dignify it with a response.”
“Well I figured you wouldn’t understand. You’re just a naive child.”
“And you’re a blind old fool,” spat Korra. Ito raises his gun fully and took aim. “Do me a favor Ito.” She gritted her teeth. “Don’t. Miss.”
There was a loud growl and something suddenly launched itself onto Ito. It was Naga. The canine sunk its teeth into Ito’s arm. He screamed and fell backwards, firing the gun into the ceiling.
Korra grabbed the crowbar off the table and as Ito started to lift himself off the floor to attack Naga, Korra swung the crowbar at his face, his head snapping back. The gun flew from his hand and clattered to the floor. She snatched it up and stood up.
“Naga! Release!” Naga complied but still barred its teeth at Ito.
Ito lifted his head, bruises already starting to form on his face. His cold expression now turned to fear as Naga growled at him and Korra stuck a gun in his face.
“Get out of here,” she snarled, grabbing his collar, “And tell Sato I’m coming for him!”
Korra released him and the frightened old man scrambled to his feet and took off running. She didn’t relax until she heard the door to the stairwell shut. She turned to Naga, rubbing her head and giving her a kiss.
Naga wagged her tail.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here. I’m sure he’s going to the alert the Eqaulists outside.” Korra gathered up the bag full of food and headed back to the workshop, Naga following behind her.
She hit the call button for the freight elevator located at the far side of the workshop. She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the motor inside the shaft start up. Turning towards her workbench she grabbed the glove and a set of keys for the roadster, the same one she had spent months working on.
“Might as well,” she said to herself. “Hop in Naga.”
Naga hopped into the passenger seat while Korra placed the bag of goods onto the floor in front of Naga. The freight elevator arrived. She the started the car up and checked the fuel gauge. Just above half a tank. It would be enough.
Once the car was parked inside the elevator Korra had to get out in order to hit the button for the garage level. As the elevator descended she began to mentally go over the events of the last couple hours.
The planes that had attacked the fleet had to have come from the Future Industries airfield. At the moment that was only lead. Where Amon was located was anyone’s guess. Korra considered going to the airfield and taking down Sato himself but immediately decided it against it. She had been lucky so far and she needed luck on her side now if she was going to get out of building.
When the elevator arrived at the garage level she turned off the headlights and slowly drive out of the lift. Once clear she put the car in park and hopped out quickly to close the elevator door. She jumped back in and headed for the exit.
Immediately she ran into the problem of the car being quite loud. After all, this particular model was designed for track work. The future models that would be released for public purchase would have detuned engines as not to be a public nuisance. She kept it under ten miles per hour but couldn’t help wince at the sound the engine loudly idling.
When she came to the garage exit she turned the car off and waited. She heard the sound of trucks approaching, more then the patrol vans. She quickly started the car up and backed into a parking spot. She killed the engine and ducked down in her seat. Sure enough four large trucks pulled into the garage ahead of her. “Naga, down.” Naga obeyed, ducking down in her seat as much as possible while Korra did the same. She breathed a sigh of relief that none of the trucks were blocking the exit, now she had to hope that the roadster would blend in with the other vehicles. She held her breath as the trucks approached, her fingers on the ignition key and foot on the clutch.
She counted the trucks as they passed. One. Two. Three. Four.
She softly let out her breath as the trucks rounded the corner and went up to the next level, heading towards the freight elevator. She peaked her head up and saw no one around.
She fired up the engine, not waiting for another wave of trucks to arrive and possibly block her escape. “Hang on Naga.”
She gunned the engine and sped for the exit. She gritted her teeth anticipating the worst when she got outside. Clearing the entrance she didn’t bother to look around, maneuvering to the right and taking the first corner, not caring when she was going as long as she put distance between her and the building. She didn’t look in the mirror to see if there were any pursuers. Her eyes were locked forward as the car flew down the streets with speeds up to eighty at point.
To ensure that no pursuers could follow her, she used every opportunity to turn down side streets, alleys and parking lots to throw them off. It took her ten minutes to reach a part of the city that was close to where the others were hiding. She found a parking lot and parked the car, hoping again it didn’t stick out too much.
She hopped out and grabbed the bag of supplies. Naga was all too happy to jump out of the car. “Not much of a joyride huh?”
Keeping to the alleys as much as possible she and Naga made their way back to the underground hideout. Along the way she spotted an Eqaulist airship hovering over the Future Industries tower. Evidently her presence caused a stir, even more reason for her and Naga to get out of sight as quickly as possible. If caught they were the only leads to Asami’s whereabouts.
When they reached the street above where Asami and the othes were, Korra didn’t bother trying to get the manhole open. Opting instead to climb down the seawall and climb in through the drainpipe.
“So how did it go,” asked Mako.
Korra dumped the bag on the floor and collapsed onto the ground. “Swimmingly,” she said, letting out a long breath. A smile formed on her lips as Naga curled up beside her. She held Naga close and rubbed her ears. “A girl’s best friend.”
Chapter 11: Hidden Truths
As Korra, Bolin and General Iroh go after Hiroshi Sato, Asami and Mako team up to take down Amon.
Been a while hasn't it?
I am very sorry that it has taken more than a year to update this story. A combination of being bogged down in work and good ole procrastination has delayed this update. But it's here now and with these new chapters the story of Book 1 comes to an end and finally I can tackle Book 2. I hope this can make up for the delay.
After Asami and Mako returned from their reconnaissance mission the group gathered around along with General Iroh and his troops. The two primary targets was the arena, where a large gathering was taking place to hear Amon’s speech. The second was the airfield where the Equalist planes were waiting for next wave of United Forces to arrive.
“I’ll lead the team at the airfield,” Korra said quickly. She hesitantly looked at Asami and two shared a silent understanding. What Korra really meant was that she would take down Hiroshi. Korra didn’t want Asami to have to face him again. She didn’t want her to go after Amon either but there was no way she was to going to dissuade her on that one.
“Good,” said Asami firmly, “You take Bolin and Iroh’s men while Mako and I will go to the arena.”
“Just the two of you,” asked Iroh.
“Security will be tight. It’ll be easier for two of us to get in opposed to a task force,” reasoned Asami.
Iroh nodded in agreement. “We’ll capture the airfield and get assistance to you as fast as we can.” He looked at his men. “Any questions? Good. Let’s hustle people.”
As the soldiers got ready, Team Avatar exchanged well wishes. Naga circled around them, tailing wagging.
“Watch yourself Bo,” said Mako giving Bolin a hug.
“You too. By the end of today I want to be having a meal with you guys and we’ll be laughing about all this.”
Mako laughed. Though it got on his nerves sometimes he did admire Bolin keeping an optimistic attitude in the face of a challenge, even when that challenge was something a little more complicated then a lost match or lack of money for rent or food. “I hope so.”
Korra looked at her glove. Reading the battery gauge there wasn’t much of a charge left so she would have to use it sparingly. “Good luck Asami. Please be caref-,” she started to look up when she was surprised when Asami pulled her into a hug. “-ful.”
“You too,” said Asami. She pulled back and two stared at each other. There were many things they wanted to say to each other but there was hesitation and a little bit of fear.
Korra was the first to break the moment of awkward silence. “See you on the flip side Sami.” She gave one of her lopsided smiles.
Asami wanted to wrap her arms around her again but she knew she had to get going. “Good luck Korra.”
With that the group parted ways. Mako and Asami walked towards the drainpipe. Asami let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding in andwiped away tears before donning her mask.
“You ready,” asked Mako.
Asami took one final glance back, watching Korra bend down to pet Naga. “Let’s finish this.”
Up on the street Korra and Bolin searched for a vehicle to transport the squad to the airfield.
“Will this work,” asked Bolin pointed to a delivery truck parked in an alley.
“Yep.” Korra made her way to the driver side.
“We should probably leave a note or something.”
Korra tried the door. It was locked. She took her elbow and smashed the window. “You have a kind heart Bo but we need to focus on the task at hand.”
Bolin was a little shocked at Korra’s method of unlocking the truck. “Right.” He hopped into the passenger seat. “What is the plan?”
Korra worked on hot-wiring the ignition. “Storm the airfield and stop those planes from taking off.”
“And what about Mr. Sato?”
The engine started. “I’ll handle him.” Korra shifted the truck into gear and pulled out of the alley, stopping a few yards down by a manhole. The cover popped open and Iroh stuck his head out. He hopped out and helped his men out. “Okay. Load up.”
Getting out of the city was surprisingly easy but Korra didn’t take any chances, sticking to back roads and avoiding any major highways or expressways.
“Parked us a mile away and we’ll go there on foot,” said Iroh from the back.
“How do you plan to get in,” asked Korra. “The fence is barbed wired and electrified.”
There was a pause as Iroh talked with his men. “Power source?”
“On airfield grounds.”
“Well we don’t have the equipment so we’ll have to use the element of surprise.”
“I was thinking the same thing.” Korra gunned the engine. There was a clamor in the back as the soldiers tried to stay on their feet.
“Korra,” asked Iroh
“Just hang on. We’ll be there in one minute.” There was a dog bark from the back. “Wait. Is Naga back there?”
“Well we couldn’t just leave her in the sewer,” said Bolin. “Besides she’s good for morale.”
Korra shook her head and sighed. She really didn’t want to put Naga in any more danger then she had for the past couple of days. “Hold on Naga!”
They rounded the bend and there was the airfield. With a sharp turn on the wheel the truck turned into the entrance and was headed for the chain link gate. There was a guardhouse and as soon as the truck came into view two Equalists sprang from it in a feeble attempt to halt the truck. They immediately dove out of the way.
“DOWN!,” yelled Korra as she and Bolin ducked as the truck smashed through the fence. They broke through but the truck struggled to keep speed and came to a lurching halt. The remains of the fence and the barbed wire tangled itself around the truck’s undercarriage.
The truck had barely come to a halt when Iroh barked an order from the back. “Everybody out!”
Korra and Bolin jumped out as did the soldiers in the back. Naga came running around the side. “Stay close to me girl.” She quickly glanced around and for a moment all was quiet apart from the wheezing of the truck’s engine.
It didn’t take long for the airfield’s general alarm to start blaring. One of the large hangar doors a couple yards away opened and two planes rolled out of it and taxied towards the runway. A group of Equalists ran to the runway to several parked planes while another group moved to intercept the intruders.
“Take em out! Don’t let them take off,” General Iroh ordered.
The battle began with two sides exchanging fire. Korra and Naga broke off from the group and headed for the hangars. The soldiers managed to destroy two planes before they could be occupied but two planes were already in the air. They made quick work of the suppressing group and redirected their attention to keeping the other planes grounded.
Korra and Naga approached the first hangar, creeping along the wall, the Eqaulists too busy being pinned by the United Forces to notice them. Korra peaked inside to see stacks upon stacks of large crates. In the center was a large table and standing behind it was Hiroshi flanked by two Equalists guards.
Korra turned to Naga. “Stay.”
“You better go out there and help them,” ordered Hiroshi. The two soldiers nodded and ran out of the hangar to join the fight. When they were gone Hiroshi began to quickly gather various papers and other items on the table and stuff them into a suitcase.
“Going somewhere boss?” He looked up to see Korra approaching. “Your little revolution is not working out so you’re calling it quits?”
Hiroshi adjusted his glasses. “Nonsense. My planes did fine work against the United Forces’ best fleet. Amon’s new world order is secured.”
“You’re so delusion,” said Korra shaking her head, “No matter what, the United Forces will not let you or Amon hold Republic City.”
“We’re liberating it—“
“Oh cut the bullshit,” snapped Korra, “I’m tired of hearing that crap. I thought you were smarter than this. You become so blinded by grief and rage you’ve turned your back on Asami, the only family you have left.”
“Shut your mouth,” seethed Hiroshi, his spectacles slipping down his nose, “you don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“I’m not going to be the one rotting in a prison cell for the rest of my life.” Korra marched towards him. “Now are you going to come quietly or—-“
Hiroshi kicked over the table and ran deeper into the warehouse, disappearing amongst the stacks of crates.
Korra let a scoff. “Oh. Gee. A flipped table what should I ever do?” She angrily kicked aside the table and it’s contents, chasing after her former employer.
The battle outside was winding down. The United Forces managed to pin down the remaining Equalists giving them time to secure the remaining planes.
“What about the planse that got away,” Bolin asked to Iroh.
“Well we’re going to have to go after them.” Iroh gave orders to one of his officers before running towards one of the unoccupied planes. He jumped in and started the engine. He was surprised when Bolin jumped in the back seat. “What are you doing?”
“I want to help. Besides I’ve never been in a plane before.”
Iroh shrugged. “Alright.” He pushed the throttle forward and the plane started down the runway.
“I didn’t know you were pilot too General. You and Korra should get together and talk about—“
“I’m not a pilot.”
Bolin’s eyes went wide. “Excuse me General but did you say—“ His words were drowned out as Iroh pushed down on the throttle and the plane sped down the runway before pulling up into a steep takeoff.
Korra cursed to herself as she rounded a corner to find another dead end and no Hiroshi. She figured he must’ve sneaked out a side door and was probably making his escape. She turned back to the main hangar door before she heard an engine roar to life. At first she thought maybe it was another plane but that was quickly disproving as she heard it approach fast and all of the sudden the large stack of crates came crashing down upon her. A quick dash and roll saved her from getting buried.
Korra tried to regain her footing but tripped in the process. She looked up to see a mecha tank crushing the pile of boxes and baring down on her. Springing to her feet she took off and immediately found herself in another dead end with crates stocked high around her. After a brief hesitation and realization that turning back would mean death Korra ran forward and threw herself against the wall of crates and began to scramble upwards. She nearly reached the top when she heard a loud mechanical whirring and a rush of air before she found herself flying through the air as the arm of the mecha tank came crashing down.
The crate Korra had been holding onto suddenly disappeared as it turned in chunks of wood and the contents inside scattered.
Working on pure adrenaline Korra scrambled up the wall of crates and was nearly at the top when there was a loud whirring sound behind her and a rush of air. The mechanical arm of the Mecha came down on the stack of crates next to her, missing her by mere feet. The crates were smashed to piece along with their contents and the impact sent the rest of the wall crashing to the floor.
Korra hit the ground hard and rolled just in time to avoid a crate flattening her. The mecha rank shifted gears and started forward. Korra looked up to see it’s metal tracks bearing down on her. She got to her feet and ran out of the way, dashing underneath the tank.
By the time the tank turned around Korra was nowhere in sight.
Korra scrambles up a wall of crates so she was level with a maintenance box on the back of the tank, which was convenient for doing repairs on a commercial power loader but not a military vehicle. Gripping the crowbar in her hand she managed to get a short running start and managed to catch onto a large cable leading out of the box.
Korra used her other hand to swing the crowbar up and onto the top of the latch. She let out a grunt as she pulled hard before finally the lid was pulled open. She wasted no time and began to rip apart the tank electrical innards with the crowbar.
Hiroshi must’ve sensed something was wrong or rather the instrument displays inside the tank were going haywire. The tank began to swerve around in an attempt to knock Korra off. The crowbar flew from her hand and she used both hands to hold on. The tank suddenly stopped and turning and began to back up, fast. Korra looked behind her and saw the hangar wall quickly approaching with her about to be smashed into it.
Korra rammed her hand with the glove on it into the hole and frantically began pulling wires, wincing as sparks flew out. She was running out of time.
She switched on the glove and managed to turn it up to the highest setting. Electricity shot out of the glove and immediately fried the wires while bolts of electricity ran rampant in the mechanical belly of the machine, overloading circuits and sparking fires.
Korra pulled her hand out and ducked down just as a ball of flame erupted and smoke sprewed out. The tank’s roared died a moaning, creaking death and its tracks came to an abrupt stop. Korra looked behind her and saw the hangar about ten feet away.
Korra looked at her glove and saw that it was out of juice, some of its gauges had melted. She heard the cockpit door open. She climbed down and saw Hiroshi doing the same. He turned, spotted her, raised a pistol and fired off a quick series of shots, all missing. Hiroshi immediately turned and tried to make a run for it but Korra was faster.
Hiroshi heard footsteps closing in behind him. He whirled around, pistol at the ready but his hand was swiftly grabbed and Hiroshi was face to face with a pair of angry blue eyes. Korra reeled her hand back and punched him full in the face. As he fell backward Korra wretched the gun out of his hand.
Hiroshi hit the ground, blood trickling out of his nose and mouth. Outside on the airfield the Equalists had given up and surrendered to the United Forces. He turned his head and saw Korra pointing his pistol at him. She flicked it up, silently ordering him to his feet.
Hiroshi got to his feet. Naga approached. Once happy to see him, the canine now growled.
Hiroshi took off his spectacles. One lens was cracked. “This means nothing. Amon’s revolution will live on.”
“Yeah but without your toys it might be difficult. Besides Asami is going after him now.” Korra flicked the pistol ordering him to move.
Hiroshi grunted as he started to walk towards the airfield. “Don’t mention that name to me.” He felt a hard push on the back.
“You truly are a piece of shit, boss.” She pushes him towards the awaiting group of soldiers. This probably was going to be the last time her former employer was going to enjoy fresh air as he would probably spend the rest of his life in a cell. Money and influence wouldn’t get him out of this one. “One day you realize how much you screwed up and I doubt Asami would be willing to forgive.”
Korra looked towards the city and hoped that Asami and Mako were alright.
Meanwhile just outside the city a farmer was surprised to see a plane crashed into his barn with its two pilots looking a bit haggard.
“Mind if we use your phone,” asked the taller man dressed in a military uniform.
The other, younger man surveyed the damaged barn. “This isn’t too bad. A couple of boards and some fresh paint and she’ll be good as new.”
Asami sat in silence and digested what has just been told by Tarrlok whom she and Mako discovered imprisoned in a small cell in a storage room in the upper floors of the arena. The link between Tarrlok and Amon, revealed to be his estranged brother Noatak, was a surprising one to say the least. The memories that Aang showed her of Yakone and his victims now were more relevant now. Yakone’s sons were competing for control of Republic City with Tarrlok unaware that the villain that he used to gain more and more power was actually his brother and that he had fallen neatly into his trap.
Asami knew now Amon’s real identity and it could destroy him, if people were willing to listen to her. Mako was looking at her from across the room while Tarrlok just stared at the floor of his cell.
Asami got to her feet. “Let’s go.”
“What about him,” asked Mako.
Asami regarded the former councilman briefly. “He’s not going anywhere,” she said as she turned away.
As they got to the door Tarrlok spoke. “Good luck.”
Asami briefly paused and then continued on without looking back.
“Guess those loudmouths in the park were more persuasive then we thought,” Mako observed as he and Asami surveyed the arena from the broadcast booth.
The main floor of the arena had been rolled out, covering the pool below, to accompany a massive crowd of Equalist supporters. This was more than what the pair had seen when they infiltrated a meeting a few weeks back.
A stage was set up at one end of the arena. A giant flag was used as a backdrop. Soldiers were positioned on stage, weapons at the ready in cause of any trouble.
It didn’t take long for the main event to start. The crowd erupted in cheers as Amon, flanked by two soldiers, rose from under the stage on a lift accompanied by smoke and lights.
“Quite the showman,” muttered Mako.
The flag was raised and there tied to three pedestals with rope and gags over their mouths were Tenzin, Ikki, Meelo and Jinora.
“No,” Asami said, horrified and furious as she watched the children glance wildly around in fear, trying in vain to break free of their restraints. Tenzin was looking worse for wear and seemed to be barely conscious. “Mako—“
“I know. But we need to be cautious.” He glanced over at the radio equipment. “I’ve got an idea.”
“A new era of equality and justice has begun and it is thanks to you. Today you will bear witness to the end of airbending forever, the first giant step towards a greater future.”
No one noticed two Equalist soldiers slip into the crowd and split up.
“You will have to get through me Amon,” said a new voice over the PA system with a hiss of feedback. The arena went dead quiet. “I will give it to you that you know how to put on a presentation. Smoke was a little too much. But the crowd seemed to enjoy it. I’m quite disappointed that the people gathered here would be sadistic enough to watch as you put your dirty mitts on kidnapped children.”
A hushed silence fell over the arena, followed by mumblings from the crowd quickly followed by loud protests. Amon didn’t even flinch while his soldiers looked around wildly, trying to pinpoint the Avatar’s location. He knew this fight was going to happen.
“It appears Avatar Sato has joined us. And to think I held off destroying you because your father naively thought he could some talk some sense into you.” He turned towards Tenzin and his children. “As for the Airbenders, well I must admit I don’t take any pleasure in using my powers against children but they won’t be harmed. Their loss of bending will be the consequence of their father’s lack of action.” He stared at Tenzin. “For all the talk about the Air Nomads respect for life, he sat for years on the council and never once did anything about the injustice inflicted upon us by benders. I will do to him what I did to the rest of the council, to the fascist police chief and Councilman Tarrlok, who revealed his true colors.”
“Yes he did,” said Asami, her voice echoing through the arena. “And he revealed a little bit more. He has quite the back-story. But you should know that...Noatak.” The rumblings of the crowd ceased. Asami had gotten their attention. “That is your real name. Noatak. Brother of Tarrlok and son of former mob boss and fugitive Yakone, who fled Republic City years ago to the Northern Water Tribe. His bending had been taken away by Avatar Aang but he saw potential in his two Waterbender sons. He taught them the forbidden bending, which he used to murder multiple people: bloodbending. He would use his sons to enact his revenge. But because of his cruelty his sons turned against him. One of them fled. The other stayed and years later wormed his way into Republic City politics while his lost brother choose a different path. That of a fake revolutionary.”
There was another pause as the crowd was starting to get worked up again. Some were calling for the Avatar’s head for spreading lies while others were confused and not sure what to believe.
“You’ve done pretty well. You’ve managed to recruit your own militarized cult and used my father’s grief to get him to supply you with weapons.” Emotion was creeping into Asami’s voice. “And just for that, for taking away the only family I have left, I will expose you for the fucking fraud you are!”
The crowd was really divided now. Some of the more fanatic members trying to rally everyone together, with very vocal member crying, “Don’t believe the Avatar’s lies!”
Amon turned to his Lieutenant. “The broadcast booth.” Amon noted that there appeared to be some hesitation from his right-hand man before the latter relayed the order. Amon turned to face the crowd. “Such a tale Avatar. Such imagination. Too bad there’s one thing that disproves your accusations.”
Amon reached behind him and untied the mask. The crowd collectively gasped as he lowered his mask revealing a burn scar running across his face. His pale blue eyes scanned the crowd.
“Look and see the pain that benders inflict upon us! This was the result of a run-in with firebender.” He turned his gaze to the rafters above the arena. “And you should know the pain a firebender can inflict Avatar. While you hid yourself away, your father saw the results firsthand. I believe Yasuko Sato was buried without a public viewing as there wasn’t much left. Hiroshi tried to reason with you Asami and you turned your back on him just as did to the all nonbenders not only in this city but across the world. Where was the Avatar to correct the injustices that we suffered?”
The crowd was whipped up into frenzy by this point. A group of Equalists had reached the broadcast booth and found no one inside but saw evidence that the equipment had been tampered with.
Amon looked around the arena, focused on the empty stands. “Avatar? Are you there?”
“Your father failed.” The crowd quieted down at the sound of Asami’s voice, which was cold and harsh. “Your bother failed. This is where it ends for you.”
Amon was so focus on the rafters above that he didn’t see two Equalist soldiers make their way through the crowd and arrive at the front of the stage. One of them had their hands raised to the sides. There was loud whoosh sound as the water from the pool below shot into the air on either side of the platform. The wall of water arched into the air and joined together, hung there for a second before it came crashing down on the ranks of soldiers that separated the crowd from the stage. As Amon watched his men get knocked to their feet he noticed two soldiers who remained standing. One of them pulled off their mask.
For a fleeting moment Amon stared into the furious emerald eyes of Avatar Sato before a blast of water hit him square in the face, knocking him back.
“What do you think? Fair shot,” Asami asked the soldier standing next to her while unhooking a device from her belt. They had managed to find a portable microphone in the broadcast booth. Mako remembered Shiro Shinobi, the game commentator, would sometimes come to the locker room for a pre-game interview and would stick the device in Bolin and his faces.
Mako pulled off his mask. “A bit rough but I’ll allow it.”
Amon wiped at his face and with gritted teeth he began to raise his hands when heard the crowd erupt. He stared dumbfounded at the crowd who in turn stared back at him, equally confused. Gradually the voices turned from confusion to anger as the realization dawned that they all had been duped.
With Amon distracted, Mako dropped into a stance and fired off a bolt of lightning towards the stage. The bolt hit Amon and sent him flying. With the aid of firebending Asami and Mako quickly dispatched two more soldiers who didn’t put up much of a fight. Amon dashed off the stage, giving a quick order to his lieutenant as he did.
“Untie them,” Asami said to Mako before she turned to the Lieutenant. “You really want to go another round?”
The Lieutenant didn’t move, his expression unreadable behind the mask and goggles. After a moment he turned and walked away, heading off in the direction that Amon fled to.
“Okay then,” Asami said to herself. As Mako untied Meelo and Ikki, Asami focused on freeing Jinora and Tenzin. By his haggard appearance and bruises on his face Asami could tell her teacher had taken a beating trying to defend his family. “Where’s Pema and the baby?”
Tenzin shook his head. “I don’t know. When we got here they separated us.”
“They must around here somewhere,” Mako said, freeing Ikki who stuck close to Jinora as did Meelo.
“Mako look after them. I’m going after Amon.”
“No time!” The Equalist soldiers had regained their footing and were about to assault the stage. With a flick of her wrist Asami set the front of the stage on fire. “Get them out!” She was off in running while Mako used her distraction and got Tenzin and his family out of the arena.
Amon dashed down the hallway trying desperately to find an exit. In his panicked state he didn’t notice the clearly marked signs. Internally he was going over and over again how in the manner of seconds his whole revolution had been undone. He couldn’t lie his way out after making such a grand display in front of the crowd. His only hope was his followers that were spread throughout the city and therefore didn’t witness the Avatar completely destroying his alter ego.
Amon turned around to see a figure stalking towards him. It was his lieutenant.
“If that really is your name.”
“Of course it is my brother. Are you going to believe the Avatar’s lies,” Amon said in his usual deep voice, keeping emotion out of his tone. “I admit the firebender story was made up but I needed to convince people to join our cause. We need their sympathy as well as their trust.”
The Lieutenant didn’t flinch or speak. Slowly he reached up and pulled off his mask. He had short black hair and light blue eyes that regarded Amon with unwavering suspicion.
“If that’s the case, why are you running away?” The Lieutenant’s eyes narrowed as a look of panic formed on Amon’s face, the latter forgetting the fact that he didn’t have his mask on. “I trusted you! I…We did things that—“ He grit his teeth in anger and sparked his electric baton. “After all that, you’re just another bender taking advantage of us!”
The Lieutenant took a step forward but that was as far as he got.
Amon raised his hand and the Lieutenant felt every muscle in his body lock up. “Pathetic,” spat Amon, raising his other hand. “You would have never have stood up for yourselves if it wasn’t my leadership. Take away my guidance and Hiroshi’s toys and you’re nothing.”
The Lieutenant gasped for breath as he felt tightness in his chest. “Wha—.”
“Too bad things couldn’t have worked out better. You were one of my best men. If I had ruled this city, you would have been my right hand man.” Amon cut off the blood supply to the Lieutenant’s heart. “Thank you for your service.”
After a frantic search Mako was able to locate Pema and Rohan, who had been locked inside a supply closet. Smoke was starting to fill the halls of the arena after Asami set the stage on fire.
“Mako we’ll be fine. Go help Asami,” Tenzin urged.
Mako hesitated for a moment before dashing in the direction Amon and Asami went.
As the Lieutenant’s body crumpled to the floor Amon took a moment to reflect over what could have been. Having his most loyal soldier turn on him made him realize that this dream was dead and it was time to disappear.
Amon was suddenly blasted by a fireball that knocked him against the wall. Before he could get to his feet the floor beneath him heaved upward, shooting him into the ceiling and then a gust of wind blew him down the corridor. As soon as he hit the floor he raised his hands blindly and the attacks ceased. He pulled his assailant closer.
Emerging from the smoke was Asami, levitating off the ground and her face filled with pain. Amon smirked and with a flick of his hand he slammed her into the wall and then the opposite. Asami tried desperately to break free but to no avail. She was slammed down hard on the marble floor. She felt her nose dislocate.
“Rest easy Avatar. I’m not going to kill you. I’m only going to take what you hold dear. The only thing you have left.” As Amon spoke those words he pulled Asami to her feet and bent her body backwards, almost to the breaking point.
Asami opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out as Amon stood over her. His face was silhouetted by the sunlight coming in through the window behind him. He pressed his thumb against her forehead.
Asami let out a strangled scream as she felt every vein, muscle and nerve flare up and then suddenly it was over. She collapsed onto the floor. Her vision was hazy and her limbs felt sluggish. With some effort she held her hand up and tried to produce a flame. She felt her body grow cold as her efforts produced nothing.
A sinister chuckle filled her ears before a black boot stomped down on her hand. Asami screamed in pain and a hand roughly grabbed her chin. She was now face-to-face with not Amon as that persona died the moment the mask came off and his disguise washed away. Instead she stared into the vengeful eyes of Noatak.
“You may have won but one day I will be some where in the world and I will overhear a story being told in some dive bar. The legend of Asami Sato: the Avatar who lost everything. Her mother, her father, and her bending. What good is an Avatar without their bending?” He leaned closer. “You may have fucked up my scheme but at the very least I took you down. You will spend the rest of your days being mocked for the failure that you are!”
Asami could taste blood in her mouth. “Your…eyes. I’ve seen them before. You truly are your father’s son.”
Noatak’s expression change from smug to what seemed like horror or offense at the implications of her words. Asami didn’t care to find out as she head butted him. His head snapped back and that moment was all she needed. She launched off her feet and wrapped her hands around his throat. He raised his hands to stop her but it was too late.
Asami screamed in fury as they crashed through the window. There was a voice behind her shouting something but she couldn’t hear it. Her sight was blinded by the glare of sunlight. When her vision adjusted she saw Noatak looking at her as they plummeted. The look on his face was one of fear. A smile tugged at the corners of Asami’s mouth a second before they hit the water.
Chapter 12: A Brief Respite
In the aftermath of the Equalist Revolution's collapse, Team Avatar regroups on Air Temple Island and Asami contemplates her future.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
As the sun began to set, bringing an end to a long, dramatic day, most of the occupants on Air Temple Island had gone to sleep. By four o’clock the group had reassembled at the house, each with a story to tell.
General Iroh and Bolin managed to get a lift back to city from the farmer whose barn they had crashed into. The farmer agreed after Iroh gave his assurance that the United Forces would cover the damages.
Korra and Naga hitched a ride back to the city with a group of soldiers. She left Hiroshi at the airfield, under guard along with a small group of captured Equalists.
Despite the first wave of United Forces ships being met with heavy resistance leading to the destruction of the fleet, the second wave, led by Commander Bumi, was met with no attacks. Word quickly spread about Amon’s defeat as well as his deceit. With the end of the Equalists’ very short reign over Republic City, the streets were littered with Equalist equipment and mechs which the military and police were quick to secure.
After briefly losing conscious, Asami quickly surfaced and was unable to locate Amon/Noatak. Tarrlok too had disappeared with the police theorizing he had slipped away in the chaos. An All-Points Bulletin had been put out for both Tarrlok and Noatak but there were serious doubts the pair would ever be apprehended.
It was on the boat ride to Air Temple Island that she told Tenzin about what Amon had done to her. Her airbending master stroked his beard as he tried to conjure up a piece of wisdom from memory. Asami put him at ease and told him it had been a long day. They’d deal with it tomorrow.
After everyone reunited on the island, Korra and Pema whipped up a quick meal. While Bolin launched into a reenactment of his harrowing flying adventure with General Iroh, the rest of the group was too tired to tell their battle stories. Asami politely chalked it up to Bolin’s story outdoing everyone else’s.
After dinner everyone went to bed. Asami however decided to take a walk around the island to clear her head. With a moment to herself she was able to confirm that her bending was truly gone. After all she had been through to get to the point of where she could call herself a full-fledged Avatar and within seconds it was all gone. In the end, Amon got what he wanted.
While trying to comprehend what her future would hold as an Avatar who couldn’t bend, her nostrils were assaulted with the smell of cigar smoke. Two uniform clad figures stood in the meditation pavilion. One of them was General Iroh, now sporting proper medical dressings for the wounds he received the other day. The other man was tall, had pale blue eyes, wild long hair and a beard, which contrasted with Iroh’s clean and proper look.
“Avatar Sato,” Iroh greeted, cigar in hand, “I don’t know if you two have met. This Commander Bumi of the Second Fleet.”
The elder commander lit his cigar and grinned at Asami. “Nice to see you again kid. We met a number of years back. Back when you were still getting your butt flung around the training course.”
Asami crossed her arms looking unimpressed. “Tenzin won’t be happy to know you’re smoking in the meditation pavilion.”
Iroh looked embarrassed and was about to extinguish his cigar when Bumi let out a laugh. “Is that what he’s calling it? Back when we were kids it was simply known as a gazebo.” He leaned back on the railing and took a drag of his cigar. “I heard what happened kid. Let me share some wisdom with ya. After a day of battle, it’s best to leave reflection for tomorrow. Nothing can be gained by such a fruitless exercise.” He turned and looked out over the bay. “Despite what they tell you kid, power and perfection doesn’t define you. It didn’t for Dad. I once asked why he bothered with diplomacy when he could use his Avatar powers. He told me that sometimes using force creates bigger problems but at the same time so does failing to act at the appropriate time. It’s all about balance. Or something like that. I took his advice though. I’ve managed to get out of dangerous situations but using my wit and charm rather than my fists.”
“Or his five million yuan battleship,” interjected Iroh.
Asami rubbed the back of her neck. “I understand what you’re saying Commander but—“
“Call me Bumi.”
“Oh. Right. I understand what you’re saying but what’s the point of diplomacy when you don’t have the power of the four elements to back me up? Because eventually the world will now what Amon did to me.”
Bumi took another drag of his cigar and considered this. “Hmm,” he hummed, stroking his beard, “well…how’s your right hook?” Asami sighed and Bumi chuckled. “Sorry kid, I usually come up short on the motivational speech. Thankfully in the military I just have to bark an order and the job gets done. Tenzin might be the better one to talk to. Just remember that I’m still the funnier one.”
This comment made Asami laugh which lifted her spirits slightly. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
She bid two good night. As she walked away she could overhear Bumi offering his flask to Iroh and being rejected. She followed the pathway to the stairs and began to climb it, deciding that it was time to turn in.
Reaching the top of the stairs Asami found Korra sitting by herself, looking equally haggard. Next to her Naga lay curled up, sleeping peacefully. The Water Tribe woman hadn’t noticed her yet as she stared at her feet.
“Hey,” Asami said, her voice cracking from exhaustion.
Korra’s eyes met hers. “Hey Asami.” The other woman stared into those dark blue eyes and her stare wandered to her tan skin and her long dark brown hair, which even messy was still quite—Asami realized with horror she had been staring too long.
Asami cleared her throat. “Mind if I join you?”
Korra nodded. “Please.” She moved over which wasn’t necessary given how wide the stairs were.
They sat together in silence as the sun descended over the horizon. As darkness fell signs of life returned to Republic City. Together they had brought the city back from the brink but ending Amon’s revolution came with a price.
Korra studied Asami’s face as the latter watched the city begin to light up. Given all that had happened, she wondered if and how her friend would recover from this.
“What now,” Korra asked softly. Not that she really wanted to know. Merely she felt like she needed to say something to break the silence.
Surprisingly Asami let out a small chuckle. “I was kind of hoping you would know. You’ve gotten me out of a few jams.”
Korra smiled. “This is true. But it’s been quite a long day and I think I’m fresh out of ideas.”
“It has been quite a day,” agreed Asami. She let out a tired sigh as she leaned back on her elbows. “How about we just sit here for a while? Until one of us comes up with a brilliant plan.”
Korra flopped backwards onto the ground. Lying next to her was the Equalist glove. The same one she had found during the attack on the arena and the same one that helped her expose Hiroshi’s involvement with Amon.
She grabbed it and tossed it away into the bushes. “Sounds good,” she said as she closed her eyes.
Asami awoke to the sound of rolling waves. With a groan she slowly sat up and saw that it was daylight. “What?” Now fully awake she noticed her surroundings had changed. She was sitting on a beach, it seemed to be early in the morning. Republic City was off in the distance, partially obscured by the morning fog. Korra was gone but someone else was sitting next to her.
Avatar Aang stared off into the horizon.
It doesn’t seem real, does it?
Although Asami heard Aang’s voice, the Avatar’s lips hadn’t moved.
Another voice came, this time female. A familiar voice.
All those years of fighting, arguing, diplomacy, more fighting, endless red tape, it finally exists.
You know with this means I will no longer be an Air Nomad.
Yep. My traveling days are over. I’ve finally found a place to call home…with you.
The voices faded away. Echoes of a distant memory.
Aang turned to face Asami, giving her a small, sympathetic smile. “Every one of our incarnations has always had ‘One of those Days.’ This has been one of them.”
“Seems like I’ve had nothing but ‘those days’ since I got here,” Asami retorted. Her predecessor nodded as he couldn’t argue with that. She watched as the soles of her boot dug into the sand. “I guess this is where it ends for me, huh? What use is an Avatar who can’t bend?”
“Your bending isn’t gone.”
Asami’s head snapped upwards as she turned towards Aang. “Pardon?”
“It isn’t gone,” Aang said calmly, “Only the Avatar has that power, what you saw was Amon, or rather Noatak, using bloodbending to block your chakras. Essentially what you and the others have experienced is a prolonged version of chi blocking.”
Asami took a moment to process this information. “Is it permanent?”
“I wouldn’t think so. After all it’s not like your bending is gone forever, merely it’s locked away and you have to work to unlock it. Same goes for the others who fell victim to Amon. It’ll take a little time though.” Aang gets to his feet. “Sorry I can’t be precise with this information. After our encounter with Hama, Katara and I rarely discussed the inner workings of—“ Aang was cut off by Asami wrapping her arms in a hug.
“I hope you’re right,” she said softly, barely audible over the crashing of the waves.
Aang gently hugged her back. “I’m proud of you Avatar Asami.”
Asami smiled to herself and opened her eyes. “So now—“ It was nighttime again and she was staring up at the stars. She lurched upwards and peered around to get her bearings. She was back to where she was before. Aang was gone. Korra was hunched over fast asleep. “Korra!”
Korra’s eyes flew open and she jumped to her feet, stumbling a bit on the steps as she did so. “What? Where?”
“My bending isn’t gone,” Asami said excitedly, also getting to her feet. Korra looked at her confused. “Aang told me! My bending isn’t gone! Just…locked away?”
Korra looked at her friend with a perked brow. “Locked away?”
“It’s complicated,” Asami waved her hands dismissively, “The important thing is that I can get my bending back.” She turned and descended the staircase. She heard Korra call after her, “Wait! Where are you off to?”
“I’ve got a lot of work to do!”
“Right,” Korra said brushing herself off, “I’ll be right…there.” Korra collapsed back onto the ground, exhausted. She yawned as her body lost its fight with the laws of gravity. “Right behind you.” She fell backwards onto the ground with huff.
A few feet away Naga lifted her head, yawned and went back to sleep.
Artwork by Willoghby / Pichikui: