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Author Topic: The Legend of Korra: Book 1.5: Reflections [Rated K]  (Read 14142 times)
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« on: Dec 01, 2012 01:28 pm »



Summary: Book 1.5: In the aftermath of the Equalist Revolution, Republic City is in a state of civil unrest. As the Triads, Equalists and the United Republic of Nations battle for control of the city, Korra must come to terms with the fact that, with the majority of her bending abilities gone, she can no longer be the world's Avatar.

Disclaimer: I do not own Legend of Korra. I only wish I did.

Feedback/Reviews?: Yes please!  Cheesy

Link to Fanfiction mirror: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8678702/1/The-Legend-of-Korra-Reflections
« Last Edit: Dec 27, 2012 01:47 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #1 on: Dec 01, 2012 01:29 pm »

Earth

Fire

Air

Water




Only the Avatar can master all four elements.

But when the connection is severed, can she still bring balance to the world?




反射

The Legend of Korra

Book 1.5: Reflections




Prologue

The newsreel: a recent invention, and one that many people were excited about. Only the richest of Republic City could afford to attend the theatre, where it was starting to be shown regularly. A true wonder of modern world, the newsreel was a source of news, current affairs and entertainment.

However, the current story being shown was not one to be made light of.

In the darkened theatre, a grainy picture of City Hall was being projected onto the screen. The damage from bombs which had been set off all over the city, in a systematic Equalist attack, had long since been repaired, although the structure still looked battle-worn.

A young and eager-looking woman stood in the foreground, obviously excited at the prospect of reporting on such a forefront issue.

"This is Maya Shintei, reporting from City Hall where, earlier today, the Provisional Government convened to discuss ongoing political and civil unrest throughout Republic City. Tensions are still high between benders and non-benders following the Equalist Revolution, when notorious terrorist leader Noatak, aka 'Amon', nearly succeeded in gaining total control of the city."

Panning shots showed angry protests and anti-bending rallies occurring all over the city, some even escalating into full-scale riots.

"Republic City police are working closely with the United Forces military to keep the streets under control. However, the triads have grown in their influence, ruling over the slums with an iron fist. A shortage of metalbending police officers, courtesy of the Equalists' 'de-bending' regime, has resulted in an all-out war being fought for control of the capital city."

The film switched to a grainy view of a tall and bald-headed man exiting the building, dressed in red and yellow airbender robes, and with a long, pointed beard and a light blue arrow tattooed over his head. He was immediately accosted on the front steps by a crowd of reporters and bulky flash-bulb cameras.

"Minister Tenzin! Has the Provisional Government reached a decision on what to do about the riots and anti-bender movements?"

"Excuse me, Minister! What is being done to root out remaining Equalist cells within the city?"

"Minister! What do you have to say about the resurgence in triad activity, due to the power vacuum left by the dissolution of the United Republic Council, and Amon's crippling of the police force?"

"Republic City is indeed experiencing a time of crisis."
The man in question spoke with a clear, commanding voice. "However, a strategy has been devised for dealing with both the Equalists and the triads. Collaboration between Police Chief Saikhan and General Iroh of the United Forces has been productive and efficient."

"Despite social upheaval, the Provisional Government states its commitment to maintaining control,"
Maya said solemnly, the view cutting back to her. "Although the Equalists lost many of their supporters, when their leader was revealed to be a waterbender, there is still a strong anti-bender sentiment within the community. However, former Councilman Oma, Earth Kingdom representative of the disbanded United Republic Council, has made a distinct effort to quell tensions."

The visual feed then changed to an elderly man – dressed in a traditional green, white and yellow-trimmed Earth Kingdom robe – presiding at a podium outside of City Hall.

"I, like many other benders, have experienced the terrifying feeling of having my bending abilities stripped from me, at the hands of Noatak. However, although my earthbending is gone, I feel anything but helpless, and my resolve is as strong as ever to preside over and uphold peace throughout the United Republic of Nations. As such, I am announcing my return to office, and my loyalty to the Provisional Government."

There was a rumble from the reporters gathered in front of him, which he silenced with a raised hand.

"I can understand the feelings of discontent among non-benders in our community. But let me make one thing clear: you are all still a part of this country. Whether you are a bender or not has no bearing on your place in society. Contrary to the lies spouted by the Equalists, there is no such thing as 'waterbenders', 'earthbenders', 'firebenders', 'airbenders' or 'non-benders'. We are all citizens of the United Republic of Nations. I serve as living testament to the fact that non-benders hold positions of power, and are not victims of oppression."

The newsreel cut back to Maya for the wrap-up.

"Times are uncertain, but the Provisional Government is adamant on keeping Republic City as a beacon of peace."

The implications of failure to do so – civil war throughout the country – was left unsaid.

"On a final note, Avatar Korra has been keeping out of the public eye, making no announcements or appearances in over a month. It has been speculated that she is no longer even in Republic City. She was last sighted at the Arena, when she blasted the Equalists' leader out of a high window, with what appeared to be airbending."

She paused for effect, allowing this statement to sink in.

"So where is the Avatar now?"



AUTHOR'S NOTES:

I'm obsessed with Legend of Korra. I watched the entirety of Book 1 in a single day, and was like, "Only 12 episodes? I want more!" I guess writing this story is just my way of getting a Korra fix until Book 2 comes out.

I normally never write AU – I like to stick to canon as much as possible. But I feel that there was a lot of wasted potential when Korra (SPOILERS) gets her bending abilities back at the end of Book 1. I would have loved to see how she would handle being an airbender, with all of her other powers stripped. Plus I find the Equalist storyline very engaging.

Reviews are greatly appreciated, so please take the time leave one and let me know what you think. This is my first foray into the Avatar universe. Hopefully I can do it justice.
« Last Edit: Dec 01, 2012 01:39 pm by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #2 on: Dec 01, 2012 01:46 pm »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 1: The Spiritual Connection




THREE WEEKS EARLIER…

The frigid winds of the South Pole blew over the White Lotus compound, where Korra, the current incarnation of the Avatar, had spent much of her childhood in training.

In a large wooden hut where Master Katara lived, a bedraggled group sat in the living room in tense anticipation. The airbending master Tenzin sat at the table as his three young children and wife Pema fussed over Rohan, his newborn son. Korra’s mother and father sat on a bench against the wall in silence, next to Lin Beifong, the former Chief of the Republic City police force. Bolin, Mako and Asami – Korra’s three closest friends in Republic City – were also waiting anxiously to hear how she was doing after her fateful struggle against Amon.

The sound of the wooden door to the bedroom sliding open drew everyone’s attention, and they all stood as Master Katara emerged. The look on her face crushed any hope they had left.

“I’ve tried everything in my power, but…” She paused sadly. “I cannot restore Korra’s bending.”

Tenzin looked away in defeat. How he felt for the poor girl – she had spent most of her life mastering the elements of water, earth and fire. Only to have her life’s purpose – her very identity as the Avatar – taken away.

“But you’re the best healer in the world,” Lin Beifong persisted. “You have to keep trying!”

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing more I can do,” Katara replied, gently but firmly. “Korra can still airbend, but her connection to the other elements has been severed.”

Everyone fell quiet in disbelief, but the silence was soon broken as the door to the bedroom opened and the young woman in question emerged, her piercing, icy-blue eyes looking hardened and devastated. Her tanned skin was flushed in several places, no doubt from where healing water had been fruitlessly applied. It was silent for a moment, until Tenzin spoke, his voice steady.

“It’s going to be alright, Korra.”

“No, it’s not,” she replied solemnly.

The normally-fiery girl made a beeline for the door, eyes glued to the floor, grabbing her deep blue, hip-length parka along the way. She did not know where she was going, but she needed to be alone right now. The sky above the South Pole was grey and abysmal as always, and she found it fitting, considering the state of her soul at that moment. She had made it halfway across the snow-covered yard to where Naga – her trusty animal guide – sat, before she heard Mako’s voice calling out to her from behind.

“Korra! Wait!”

The girl in question paused and waited for him to catch up. “Go away,” she snapped, without turning around.

“I will,” the young man replied softly. “But I just want you to know that I’m here for you.”

“No, I mean go away!” Korra repeated, finally turning to face him fully. “Back to Republic City. Get on with your life.”

“What are you talking about?” Mako exclaimed, his tone rising in surprise.

“I’m not the Avatar anymore,” she replied, the quaver in her voice gradually becoming more pronounced. “You don’t need to do me any favours.” She turned to continue on, but was stopped by her compatriot’s hand on her shoulder.

“I don’t care if you’re the Avatar or not. Listen… when you were abducted back in Republic City during the rebellion, I was losing my mind at the thought of never seeing you again.” He turned her around to face him. “I realised… I lov – “

“Just stop!” the Water Tribe girl practically shouted. “Please leave me alone!” She turned and ran to Naga, jumping into the harness on the large white polar-bear dog’s back in a single fluid motion.

“Korra!”

She ignored Mako’s panicked cry and rode off through the compound gates, out into the frozen Antarctic tundra.



The dismal grey clouds hung in the sky above a set of high ice cliffs by the sea, where Korra dismounted Naga. She wanted to see the ocean, the first element she had learned to bend – to try and feel a connection to it. Her fur-skinned boots crunched across the snow as she walked over to and stood at the edge of the cliff, gazing out across the dark sea.

What sort of Avatar was she? She could not even bend all four elements anymore. Everything she had worked for, ever since she was a little girl, was gone in the blink of an eye – destroyed by Noatak’s terrible bloodbending technique.

How could she serve as the world’s guardian now?

When her predecessor Aang froze himself in an iceberg, the world nearly burned in the Hundred Year War. Now, with her bending gone, Korra was condemning the world to live without its Avatar again. Who knew what could happen? What if the Equalist Revolution spread outward from Republic City?

She gazed over the edge of the cliff, seeing the glistening water lapping up against the icy shore, far below.

Maybe there’s still a way... The next Avatar in the cycle should still be able to bend… Right?

…How selfish… Even if I am not the Avatar anymore, I am still Korra. Bending is not my only purpose in life.


However, as soon as that thought crossed her mind, she recalled the countless hours of propaganda and borderline brainwashing that the Order of the White Lotus had subjected her to over the years. It was her destiny to master all four elements and bring balance to the world.

She felt her eyes begin to water, and a tear trailed down her cheek.

Being the Avatar is all I’ve ever known… Without the other elements, how can I be that person…?

Being able to bend the elements is not who the Avatar is. The Avatar is the spirit of the world, a cycle, and a force to uphold balance and harmony.


The tear running down the young woman’s cheek collected at the base of her chin and then dripped over the edge of the cliff, falling at least fifty metres straight down. The teardrop glistened in the dreary sunlight as it fell. Korra watched it, in honest reflection –

With hardened, yet shattered resolve, she looked away from the cliff-edge, squeezing her eyes shut as they flooded with tears that rolled down her cheeks. She clapped her hands to her face and dropped down to the snow.

Korra’s entire body shook as she hugged her knees to her chest, wracked with her sobs. She lost track of how long she sat there, but eventually heard the crunch of approaching footsteps in the snow. She lifted her head slightly to see the bright red and yellow robes of an airbender.

“Not now, Tenzin,” she said, wiping her downcast eyes. “I just want to be left alone.”

“But you called me here,” a very familiar voice said.

The girl’s head shot up in surprise, and she twisted her body around to see a tall monk standing there, with rugged features, a short beard, and a light blue arrow tattooed over his head. Her vision was still bleary from the tears in her eyes, and it took her a moment to comprehend that it really was him standing before her. The previous incarnation of the Avatar demigod. The previous incarnation of her.

“Aang!” she said, her face lighting up at the sight of him.

“You have finally connected with your spiritual self,” he said, smiling as rays of sunlight permeated through the clouds.

“How?” Korra asked as she stood and turned to face him.

“When we reach our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.”

Her eyes widened as a crowd of people materialised behind Aang’s spirit in a whisper of ghostly wind – all of her past lives as the Avatar. There were dozens upon dozens of them – all very different people, from the four different elemental factions of the world. An endless cycle of life, death, and reincarnation. The cycle of the Avatar.

As quickly as they had appeared, the past lives of the demigod vanished, leaving the current one and her immediate predecessor standing alone in the snow-covered landscape.

“But… I’m not worthy of being in your presence…” Korra said, her face downcast. “I’m not the Avatar anymore. I… I never was. At best, I was… a half-baked Avatar.” She grimaced, recalling former Republic Councilman Tarrlok’s snide remark to her.

“Life is a cycle,” Aang said, unperturbed by her self-deprecation. “Like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar must begin anew. You are the Avatar, Korra.”

“No! No I’m not!” she exclaimed, her voice rising. “I can’t even bend the other elements anymore! That… That technique Amon used to take away peoples’ bending, it was used on me! I can airbend now… but that’s it. I’ll never be able to channel the other elements again.”

Aang remained silent.

“Tell me how I’m supposed to be the Avatar if I can never master all four elements!” Korra shouted. “Tell me how I’m supposed to bring balance to the world if I can’t even bring balance to myself!”

She was just about brought to tears again, thinking about what a lousy Avatar she was. Republic City had been devastated in a series of terrorist attacks by the Equalists in their anti-bending revolution. Hundreds of benders had been stripped of their powers, just as she had.

“I can’t be the Avatar, because I can’t bring balance to the world anymore. I just can’t.” She wiped a stupid tear from her eye, but her vision was still swimming, which she found odd.

A flurry of wind swept across the landscape suddenly as snow began to fall around them. But what was strange was that the wind had no chill, and it made not a sound. What was even stranger was that the snowflakes were dazzlingly white – brighter than what could be considered normal. Korra looked around in wonder as they drifted down from the sky, glittering like falling stars.

Aang held out a hand, watching as several flakes drifted into his palm. “When the mind is enlightened, the connection to the spiritual world is what matters,” the monk spoke suddenly, his voice even. “When the spirit is free, the body matters not.”

“Huh?” the girl said in surprise.

“When the spirit is free, the limits of the body matter not,” he repeated. “The worlds are vast and infinite, and life is but the blink of an eye. All we can truly control… is whether we are good or evil.”

“What are you talking about?” she exclaimed, her voice echoing slightly.

“In the blink of an eye, you have missed seeing…”

The image of Aang began to waver as his voice echoed. The glittering orbs were falling harder, and the snow-covered ground almost seemed to be growing brighter and brighter, enveloping the world in a white sheet. Korra was dizzy as everything in her vision swirled together, and she felt an onset of panic.

What’s going on? These aren’t tears, and this isn’t snow. What’s happening to me?

The young woman felt her predecessor place a hand on her shoulder and the thumb of his other hand on her forehead. She closed her eyes and a strange sort of peace came over her. She did not see it, but Aang’s hands began to glow, followed by his eyes, his tattoos, and eventually his entire body.

Everything was soon lost in the endless white.



Korra opened her eyes to find herself lying in her bed, much to her surprise. What had happened? Had she not been speaking to…?

“Korra! I’m so happy to see you’re awake!”

She tilted her head toward the voice to see her mother sitting at the bedside, grasping her hand. “What… happened?” she asked, her voice slightly hoarse.

“You’ve been asleep for five days,” Senna said. “When you did not return to Katara’s hut, we went looking for you and found you up on the cliffs, meditating.” The woman paused, before continuing. “Your eyes… they were glowing.”

Korra was shocked. She had been unconscious for five days? She had achieved the Avatar State? But how? She was not sure if she could do it again…

Her mother offered a cup of water to her, but she waved it off, surprised to find that she was not thirsty at all. Or hungry, for that matter. How did that make sense, if she had been asleep for several days? What had happened? Had she been in the Spirit World?

Senna apparently shared the same surprise. “Tenzin and the others really wanted to be here when you woke up, but the freighter ship left a couple of days ago, and the next one does not return for over a month,” she continued cautiously. “They really had to get back to Republic City and start rebuilding their lives. But they asked me to send a messenger hawk as soon as you woke up. Besides, Tenzin said that if you had achieved the Avatar State, then you must have been on some spiritual journey, and it was best not to disturb you.”

“Spiritual journey?” Korra snorted. Fat lot of good that did.

Her mother smiled. “Glad to see you’re returning to normal. Let me go and get you some soup. You must be hungry.”

“Thanks Mum.”

“Being in bed for five days hasn’t done much for your personal hygiene, either,” Senna commented lightly, her nose crinkling slightly at the faint odour of sweat. “Maybe you should take a bath.”

“Okay, Mum,” she replied, smirking. “Bath-time. Avatar Priority Number One.”

The smile on her face, however, melted as soon as her mother left the room, leaving her alone to dwell on her thoughts.

She had been out for five days, but had managed to achieve the Avatar State – something she had never accomplished before. If only she could remember what had happened! All she could recall were fleeting glimpses of a red and yellow clad figure in the snow.

Despite the fact that the meditation had done nothing to help with the fact that Korra could no longer bend three out of the four elements, she still felt as though she had learned an important lesson from it.

If only she could remember…
« Last Edit: Jan 22, 2013 12:10 pm by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #3 on: Dec 01, 2012 01:56 pm »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 2: Training in Solitude




TWO WEEKS LATER…



Dear Korra,

I hope you are doing alright, and I really hope to hear back from you soon.

So, everything is going swell in Republic City, I guess. Sort of. Without their leaders, the Equalist Revolution was squashed like a lizard-bug under the foot of badgermole. Most of them have gone into hiding or left the group completely, which is great for us benders. The last thing we need is another civil war, right? Of course, there are still some extremist whack-jobs out there, but no one can be as bad as Amon.

Right?

Anyway, a Provisional Government has been set up to replace the Council, for the time being anyway. They are making an effort to keep things under control between benders and non-benders. It’s a bit of a mess, but things are much better than they were a few weeks ago.

I’m sure you’ve heard from him by now, but Tenzin and his family have gone back to live on Air Temple Island, although they had to get some earthbenders from the Order of the White Lotus to help with repairing the damage done during the Equalist raids. I offered to help out, but they said they have it under control.

The trial finished, and Hiroshi Sato has been sent to jail for allowing his company to provide the Equalists with kali-sticks, chi-blocker gloves and all that other electrified weapon stuff. Oh, and not to mention those big Mecha-Tanks. I just hope the police have managed to round all those things up – they were really scary. I mean, having a big bad robot trying to kill you with extendable claws and zapping cables is scary stuff! I still can’t sleep well!

Future Industries has been taken over by Asami, and she says she’s doing fine. I’m worried about her though, she seems really stressed out and can hardly meet up anymore. I’m sure running a big company would be pretty crazy, especially having to inherit it at short notice from a horrible father.

She hasn’t been to visit him in prison.

But she’s doing well. She asked me to include her best wishes in this letter.

Oh, and I almost forgot the best news: they’re nearly finished repairing the damage done to the Pro-Bending Arena!  It was a diplomatic move by the Provisional Government – supposed to rebuild bridges between benders and non-benders or something. But who cares! Mako and I have jobs again!

Speaking of Mako, he’s doing well at the power-plant. Our parents were really proud when he created lightning for the first time, and said that it would open up a lot of good job options for him. At least it’s good for earning cash. And Pabu is great too; I managed to teach him an awesome new trick – jumping through rings while they are on FIRE! Gives a whole new meaning to ‘fire ferret’, huh? It’s fun to do, although Mako gets grumpy whenever I ask him to lend me his firebending for the trick.

Anyway, this letter is getting really long so I’ll wrap it up here. Everyone misses you, and hopes to see you again soon. We’re all here for you if you ever need anything, and I’ll be sure to catch the next freighter down to the South Pole to visit. So expect to see my gorgeous face again in a couple of weeks! I can’t wait!

This is about the 3rd or 4th letter I’ve sent, right? Still haven’t gotten a response back from you. I understand – you’re busy with Avatar stuff. But it would be nice to hear how you’re doing.

Take care,

Bolin

(PS. Go the Fire Ferrets!)




Korra smiled as she finished reading. She glanced at the paper and pen sitting on her desk, wanting nothing more than to be able to pick it up and write back to her friend. But what could she tell him? That she had spent the last couple of weeks as a failure?

Her countless attempts to enter the Avatar State had failed.

All attempts to connect to the Spirit World, and her ‘spiritual self’, had failed.

And to add insult to injury, her airbending – her sole remaining connection to the elements – was weak and lacked substance. She could not hold up to the gale-like winds of the South Pole.

The young woman gazed mournfully at the pen, before sighing and leaving her bedroom.

It was nice to be living at home and seeing her parents more often, at least. She had flatly refused when the Order of the White Lotus requested that she come back to live at the compound. When they persisted, and sent the three elderly representatives to her house to escort her back, her father had taken up his hunting spear and ordered them to leave.

As such, the Order begrudgingly left well enough alone, although they encouraged her to visit the compound often for training.

The young Avatar presently found her mother in the living room ‘cleaning up’, although the place was still an absolute tip.

“Korra? Where are you off to?”

“Just taking Naga out for a stroll.” Her eyebrows furrowed at seeing the state of the room. It had always been messy for as long as she could remember. “Do you need some… help… cleaning? To actually get this place… you know… clean?”

“Oh, no, it’s fine!” Senna said brightly. “I just have to sweep up a bit of dust, and some snow that blew in, and – “ She was interrupted by a loud CRASH, as a Water Tribe ornamental dish hanging on the wall fell from its loose hook. “…and sweep up that broken dish.”

Korra pursed her lips and smiled lightly as she grabbed her dark-blue parka from its hook on the wall. “Okay, well… good luck with that. I’ll be off then. I’ll see you and Dad later!”

As her daughter left the house, the smile on Senna’s face faded. She knew very well that the girl was not “taking Naga out for a stroll”.

She felt exhausted. For the past two weeks now, she had been watching Korra torture herself physically, spending hours out in the snow practising airbending, only to achieve mediocre results. If that was not enough, the young Avatar also tortured herself mentally, with every failed meditation, every failed attempt at spiritual growth, and every failed attempt to enter the Avatar State.

Worst of all was the look in Korra’s eyes every time she saw the stone piles throughout the village, the open flame of the cabin hearth, and the water of the Antarctic Ocean. Anything that reminded her of earth, fire or waterbending. She had lost a part of herself, and Senna knew that she was punishing herself for it.

It was exhausting.



 “Hey, Naga,” Korra called as the front door to her house closed behind her. “Ready to go for a ride, girl?”

The polar-bear dog waiting faithfully nearby bounded over eagerly. Her tail wagged fervently as her head was rubbed, and she licked her owner’s face affectionately.

“She’s a loyal one, isn’t she?” a familiar voice spoke up.

Korra turned to see an elderly lady, clad in a thick blue parka that went all the way down to her boots.

“Sifu Katara,” she said, bowing respectfully with a fist to open-palm. “What are you doing here?”

“Your mother and I made plans to have tea this afternoon. And how is your father?”

“Oh, he’s good. He’s out hunting right now.”

“That’s nice.” The waterbending master paused for a moment. “I also wanted ask how you are doing,” she finally said, brushing some snow off the sleeves of her parka.

“Um, yeah! Great!” the young woman said, a little too quickly. “Everything’s just… great.”

Katara smiled sadly. “You know, the White Lotus sentries mentioned seeing you out in the tundra for hours on end, practising airbending. And you’re going out to do it again right now, aren’t you? Do you really think that’s healthy?”

“Well, I have to be good for something, don’t I?” Korra said, her tone coming out sharper than she intended it to be. She turned and grabbed Naga’s saddle, which was leaning up against the wall of the house, and began to fasten it to the beast’s back.

“You must stop selling yourself short,” the older woman replied, rubbing her hands together as a breath of icy wind snaked through the air. “You and your friends prevented civil war throughout the United Republic of Nations.”

“But there are still lots of people out there who hate bending!” the girl exclaimed. “They were ready to commit borderline genocide to see it stamped out – that kind of resentment doesn’t just disappear overnight!” She sighed, somewhat regaining her composure. “How am I supposed to keep balance in the world when I can’t even save one city? Especially now that airbending is all I have.”

“Let me tell you something about Avatar Aang,” Katara said softly. “He was a great man, and accomplished many things in his life. But perhaps his greatest achievements have never been noted by history.”

Korra looked at her in surprise.

“Sure, ending the Hundred Year War is one of his best-known legacies,” the widow continued. “But before he could accomplish that, he had to embark on a journey across the world to master all four elements. And on that journey, Aang and his friends and I came across many Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom villages that were under the oppression of the Fire Nation. Despite the fact that he was on a sacred mission, and doing battle with the Fire Nation would cause unnecessary risk, do you know what he did?”

Her former pupil remained silent.

“Aang took it upon himself to save those villages,” Katara said, the love in her eyes becoming more and more pronounced as she reminisced. “And he did it without having mastered all four elements. In fact, during the first few months of our journey, as we travelled from the South all the way up to the North Pole, Aang only had airbending to call upon. And yet, in those months, he did more good for the world than anyone I know.”

Korra bit her lip and turned her head away. Despite her old mentor’s good intentions, hearing about the heroic exploits of her predecessor was only making her feel worse.

“You can airbend now,” Katara said gently. “You can still do so much good for the world, Korra. You are still the Avatar.”

Silence fell between the pair for a moment.

“I’m not the Avatar anymore,” the teenager finally said, climbing up onto Naga’s back. “I’m an airbender now.”



The dark profiles of mountains could be seen in one direction, and the fuzzy outline of the dark sea could be seen in the other, while an endless white plain stretched out between them, as far as the eye could see. It was in the middle of this plain that a lonely figure could be seen practising airbending forms.

“Come on!” Korra shouted into the howling wind. “Airbend properly!”

She twirled, her fur-skinned boots tracing circular tracks in the snow, before thrusting her hands out, creating a gust of air. However, the force of the Antarctic wind blowing against her was too strong, and the drifting snow continued to blow into her face. The girl let out a groan of frustration and sat down cross-legged on the ground. She had been out in the snow for over three hours, assaulted by the icy chill in the air, and her face was feeling numb.

“It’s alright, Naga,” she said reassuringly when the polar-bear dog, lying down in the snow nearby, whined questioningly.

The animal in question gazed at her for a moment, before sniffing the air and looking upward at the grey-blue sky. Korra followed her gaze, and her eyes widened in surprise when she saw the familiar shape of a sky bison flying in from the sea in the direction of the White Lotus compound.

Tenzin? What is he doing here? Korra asked herself, frowning.

A little while later, she was riding Naga through the compound gates to see her airbending master standing in front of Katara’s hut, conversing with his mother, and she felt a surge of happiness at seeing him again. She approached them cautiously, catching snippets of conversation.

“…Pema and Rohan are doing well,” Tenzin was saying. “He is surprisingly quiet for a newborn baby.”

“I’m so proud of you, my son,” Katara said, her eyes crinkling as she smiled warmly. The prospect of grandchildren never ceased to amaze her, and she swelled with pride.

“Hi Tenzin!” Korra chirped, waving as he turned. “We weren’t expecting you back so soon!”

“Hello, Korra,” the tall airbender replied. “It is good to see you again.”

“You too,” she replied, smiling as she rubbed her arms to try and restore some warmth to them. “How are Pema and the kids?”

“They are all well. Jinora, Ikki and Meelo have resumed their training, and are improving very quickly.”

It had been over three weeks since Korra had last seen the children of Tenzin and Pema, and the world’s latest hopes for reviving the devastated Air Nomads. She really missed them.

“On that subject, I received word from my mother that you have been training intensely in airbending,” Tenzin continued.

The young woman looked over at Katara, who nodded in approval. “Uh, yeah, I have,” she replied.

“And how is it coming along?”

She sighed irritably. “Not very well. I can’t do anything advanced – all I can do is blow gusts of wind, and they aren’t even that strong.”

“It’s still progress,” he said reassuringly. “And force is not what matters when it comes to airbending, rather than technique. As I have told you before, being the Avatar isn’t all about fighting.”

“But I’m not the Avatar.”

Katara raised a hand to her mouth at hearing those awful words again.

Her airbending teacher, on the other hand, looked thunderstruck. “What did you say?”

“I’m not the Avatar,” Korra repeated. “Not anymore. I’m an airbender now.”

There was a silence, through which only the whistle of the wind could be heard. The biting cold it carried seemed to seep into their clothes, and the grey sky almost seemed to be serving as a testament to the mood surrounding them.

“Korra,” Tenzin finally said, clearly going to great lengths to keep his voice calm. “Whatever you’re calling yourself these days – Avatar or airbender or a purple platypus bear – the fact of the matter is that you must continue your training. You have unlocked the secret of airbending – quite the accomplishment in itself, considering the polar opposites of its ideals and your rash and brazen nature – “

“Are we done with the sparkling words of encouragement yet?” Korra said sarcastically as she brushed some snow off her deep blue parka.

“I wasn’t finished yet,” the man trilled. “Although you’ve tapped into the ability, there is still much for you to learn. And I am going to teach you.”

“You’re going to resume training me in airbending?” she asked, surprised. “But aren’t you too busy in Republic City right now?”

“Things are indeed still… ‘out of whack’, as you would put it,” he replied, a light smile tracing across his features. “That is actually one of the reasons why we need you as soon as possible – to help keep balance.”

“He is right,” Katara interjected. “Republic City needs its Avatar once again.”

“Sifu Katara…” Korra started, only to be cut off by a wave of the elderly woman’s hand.

“I have already discussed the matter with your parents, and they agree it is for the best.”

“…What’s for the best?”

“You’re coming back to Republic City with me,” Tenzin said matter-of-factly. “Tonight.”
« Last Edit: Mar 05, 2013 10:07 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 02, 2012 02:37 am »

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Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 3: Return to Air Temple Island




The wind whistled through Korra’s dark-brown hair, her high-clipped ‘wolf-tail’ (or ponytail, as the latest fashion designers of the United Republic would call it), and two side-clipped pigtails swaying, the loose strands of her fringe blowing into her face. She cast an eye over at Tenzin, who sat at the helm of the large saddle holding the reins of Oogi, the flying bison upon which they sat.

The ocean sparkled far below in the rays of the early-afternoon sun. After a final dinner with Master Katara, the three senior White Lotus masters and her parents, Korra and Tenzin left the South Pole, and had spent the better part of two days flying north.

“Are we there yet?” she called in a bored voice, adjusting her high-collared light-blue vest.

Tenzin gritted his teeth. “For the hundredth time, no. Not yet.”

Korra sighed and lay down at the edge of the saddle, draping her arm over the side to stroke Oogi’s hide. The bison’s white fur felt coarse and thick through her fingers, and she pondered her return to Republic City. She knew it had been coming, of course. People expected her to be the Avatar for them, after all. But was she really ready for it?

“If you need something to do, you should try meditating,” her airbending master suggested over his shoulder. “It will help you spiritually, which is important for advancing to the next step in airbending.”

“Spiritual connection, got ya,” she replied nonchalantly. “Although if you remember, that’s what I did all day yesterday. I guess I’m still not good at the whole sitting around thing.”

It had been a frustrating experience for Korra the previous day as she meditated for hours on end in an effort to reconnect with her spiritual side. She tried focusing on the scenery she could see from Oogi’s saddle to help calm her mind – the fluffy white clouds in the distance, the glittering jewel of the ocean far below, the rocky hills and rugged terrain of the southern Earth Kingdom. Disappointment always flooded through her when nothing happened.

The afternoon sea-breeze drifted through the air, bringing the smell of salt with it. Aside from the whistling of the wind, there was a short silence as the Water Tribe girl rummaged through a canvas bag tied to the saddle and produced two apples. She crawled up to the front of the saddle to hand one over to Tenzin.

“There’s something I’ve wanted to talk to you about,” he said. There was an expectant silence, which he took as his cue to continue. “After my mother tried to heal you, and you wandered off…”

Korra pursed her lips, not wanting to remember the time when she had reached her lowest point. When she had reflected on her duty as the Avatar, and contemplated…

“When we found you, you were in the Avatar State,” Tenzin continued, oblivious to her warring thoughts. “Do you remember that?”

She sighed in frustration and fiddled with her three Water Tribe armbands absentmindedly. “No. Not really.”

“Have you tried to do it again?”

“Of course I have! I’ve tried everything! But nothing happens. Or if it does… I can’t remember anything.”

“From what my father told me, the first time entering the Avatar State is a time of great turmoil. After all, you are calling upon the strength and memories of all the previous Avatars – of all your past lives.”

“It just really sucks that I can’t remember it,” Korra said irritably. “But I… I feel as though I learned a really important lesson from it… I think.” Trying to remember what had been learned seemed to be just beyond her grasp – like trying to hold water in her hands, only to have it slip through her fingers.

 “It will come to you,” Tenzin offered. “Just give it time.”

“What you’re saying is… I need to be patient.” She sighed and sat in silence for a few moments, before looking forward again. “Are we there yet?”

He simply looked over his shoulder, an eyebrow raised.

“Right…” she smirked, reaching over to pet Oogi’s side again. “Patient.”



Several hours later, the western coast of United Republic’s northwest continent gradually came closer, basking in the orange glow of the late-afternoon sun. Soon thereafter, Tenzin’s sky bison began to cross into Yue Bay – the broad inlet of water, where Avatar Aang’s dream for the world’s centre of peace and balance had been settled along its shores.

Republic City.

The capital city of the United Republic of Nations, created from the Fire Nation colonies during the Harmony Restoration Movement, after the Hundred Year War. A large metropolis and modern urban centre, Republic City hosted significant high-rise development, suspension bridges and bustling citizens. The sprawling cityscape spread out as far as the eye could see, with the breathtaking local mountain range behind it. The grassy slopes of the mountains were capped in snow.

As Oogi crossed Yue Bay, Korra grinned in delight as she saw many familiar sights: the pagoda tower on Air Temple Island, the golden rising spires of the Pro-Bending Arena. Her smile faded, however, when she saw Aang Memorial Island, and the massive statue of the previous Avatar that stood watch over the bay.

Something else she immediately noticed were three battleships of the United Forces, docked at the shipping yard. It was a rude reminder of the fact that Republic City was still at war, despite the efforts of the Provisional Government to “carry on as normal”.

The sky bison made a beeline for Air Temple Island, flying over the various pagoda-style wooden structures, pavilions, gazebos and bamboo gardens. The massive, six-legged beast settled down in the courtyard in front of the women’s dormitory.

“I’m sure you remember where your old room is,” Tenzin said as he dismounted. He came over to help Korra with her bag but she waved him off. “Go in and get settled, and then come and join us for dinner.”

She nodded and slung her duffel bag over her shoulder as she made her way into the building. Shortly thereafter, she slid open a set of wooden screen doors down the hallway and smiled at the sight of her rustic bedroom again. She dumped her bag on the floor and lay down on the bed, folding her arms behind her head. However, her moment of peace was almost immediately interrupted when the screen door burst open.

“Korra! We heard you were back!”

“Yay! We really missed you!”

The smile on her face widened as she sat up and saw Tenzin’s two young daughters rushing across the room toward her. “Hi Jinora! Hi Ikki!” She gathered them both in a hug. “I really missed you girls too.”

“WeheardyouwerecomingbacktodayandIwassolookingforwardtoit,andwecanallplaytogetheragain,andhaveyouimprovedinyourairbending?
Youmust’vebeenreallypowerfultobeabletobeatthatbigmeanmaskedguy,whatwashisnameagain?And – “

“Ikki, slow down,” Korra laughed.

“She’s been extra hyper lately after she found out that you were coming back to live with us,” Jinora said. “I didn’t know it was even possible.”

Hey! Don’t talk about me as if I’m not here!” Ikki’s shrill voice cried. She shot an indignant pout at her older sister, before grinning widely at Korra. “Anyway, we came to get you for dinner, so let’s go go go! Eat eat eat!”

“Sounds good to me – I’m starving. Let’s go!”

With that, the two airbender girls led Korra across the island. Evening was falling over the city, basking in the darkening twilight. Across the darkened water of the bay, the bright yellow lights of the city glittered like a swarm of fireflies. The three girls made their way past trees and gardens, to the incessant buzz of Ikki’s chatter.

They soon came to a squat building which housed the dining hall, its interior decoration dominated by polished floorboards, wooden panels, and crimson wall banners. The group entered the family’s private dining room, where they were met by the sight of Tenzin and his head-shaven five-year old son, Meelo, preparing the sunken table for the family meal.

“Korra!” Meelo shouted, zipping across the room to hug her tightly.

At that moment, Tenzin’s wife; a slim, middle-aged woman with long brown hair done up in a bun; emerged from the kitchen, smiling widely. “Oh Korra, it’s so good to see you again.”

“It’s great to see you too, Pema,” she replied. “How’s Rohan?”

The woman gestured to a collapsible cot in the corner of the room, where the baby lay sleeping.

“Aw, he’s so cute,” the Water Tribe girl cooed. “Have you found out whether he can airbend yet?”

“No, not yet,” Tenzin replied, gesturing for her to sit down at the table. “But I have high hopes for him.”

“Speak for yourself,” Pema cut in, pouting slightly as she served up steamed rice and vegetables for everyone. “I’m telling you right now, four airbending kids are going to be more than we can handle!”



The family meal went late into the evening as they talked and joked and laughed. As the sky darkened, Korra found herself staring out the open window at the city across the bay, wondering how her friends were doing. She had not seen Mako, Bolin or Asami in several weeks, and really looked forward to catching up with them.

Soon, it was only her and Tenzin left in the hall as the others retired for the night.

“The Order of the White Lotus has sent word that the sentries will be arriving in a couple of days,” he said, pouring her a steaming cup of jasmine tea. “And your polar-bear dog will be with them.”

Korra nodded, her gaze once again drawn out the window, toward the bright lights across the water. “How are things over in the city?”

“As well as can be expected, considering we just came out of a full-scale revolution. But after what Noatak did, hundreds of people have lost their bending, and it’s turned their way of life completely upside down.”

 “What about the Equalists?” she asked carefully, taking a sip of the scalding liquid from her teacup.

“Although there is still a strong anti-bender movement within the city, the Equalists have been branded as terrorists,” Tenzin replied. “They have lost many of their supporters, and it’s only a matter of time before their movement fails completely.”

“There’s something you’re not telling me,” Korra said. It was a statement, not a question.

Her mentor looked at her for a moment, before rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “You are becoming more observant, and learning to take in more of the world around you. This is a good thing.” When the teenager just frowned at his non-answer, he sighed. “The Equalists aren’t the problem anymore. Although they have been all but defeated, their ideals still live on in the hearts of many. News of the revolution has reached Ba Sing Se. I received word from the Earth King that the Council of Five, his highest-ranking generals, recently had to put down an anti-bending rebellion there. It was minor, but people are still frightened.”

“What can we do?”

Tenzin sighed. “I don’t know. For now, all we can do is try to keep the peace, and my father’s legacy, alive.”



Later on that night, Korra lay in bed, listening to a jazzy tune on her radio as she contemplated resuming her training tomorrow – for real. She may not be the Avatar anymore, but she was still an airbender. With or without the other elements, she would still do everything she could to bring balance to the city.

Korra reached up to switch off the radio, but paused when she heard a hiss of static. It was almost as if the radio signal was being hijacked –

“My brothers and sisters,” a deep voice issued from the speaker, distorted and heavily-layered. “The corrupt regime of this country says that the Equalist movement has failed, and that benders have prevailed. But I speak tonight to tell you that they are wrong.”

The teenager’s eyes widened in fear.

“The Equalists are as strong as ever. Although our former leader Amon was nothing but a fraud, the ideals of the movement still ring true. Our revolution only proved how weak benders are against us. With unity and strength, we will prevail in this war to claim Republic City as our own. Do not give up hope – our time will come.”

The hissing static of the radio finally sputtered out.
« Last Edit: Dec 27, 2012 02:37 pm by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 02, 2012 02:45 am »

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Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 4: Epiphany




On Air Temple Island, there is a small plaza overlooking Yue Bay, where the towering tiers of Republic City can be seen across the azure water. Carved into the smooth stone is the symbol of Yin and Yang. Tui and La.

It was on this sunken dais that master and student faced each other.

“Are you ready?” Tenzin inquired.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Korra replied, her orange and yellow Air Acolyte robes rusting slightly in the early-morning breeze.

“Very well then. Show me what you have learned in the South Pole.”

Korra took a deep breath, and then thrust both palms forward, conjuring a powerful burst of air. Tenzin stood stock still, and then thrust his left palm forward in a matching gust that countered the sudden rush of wind, his red and yellow robes whipping wildly.

Korra used the opportunity to dash in for an attack, sending out bursts of air at her opponent as she ran. He countered them all with circular turns of his arm, but his pupil quickly closed the distance between them.

Tenzin blocked sharp thrusts thrown his way with fluid movements his arms, spinning to avoid a well-aimed roundhouse kick. However, he was taken by surprise when a blast of wind emanated from the teenage girl’s foot, throwing him backward through the air several feet. Before he could topple to the ground, however, he angled his hands down, palms spread wide to control the air currents below him and slow his descent.

“Very good,” the airbending master said, adjusting his robes.

Korra maintained her fighting-stance, ready to resume attacking at a moment’s notice.

“I am going to come at you now,” Tenzin announced. “Remember: spiral movements and evasion.”

With that said, he blasted gusts of air, to which the young woman conjured her own wind straight at them to lessen the impact, sending scattered leaves billowing into the sky. Despite this, her mentor’s form was very powerful, and she felt her boots slipping backward on the smooth stone. Her dark-brown hair and baggy garb billowed out behind her. Just as she managed to find her footing, her opponent was on her, letting fly with a series of jabs and punches at her midsection. She managed to block the first few blows.

“Focus, Korra! Change direction!” Tenzin called over his shoulder. “Do not meet resistance with force!”

She made an effort to spin and avoid his attacks, but instinct caused her to physically block his punches more often than not. She grunted as she ducked under a sweeping arc of air that Tenzin dissipated outward from his body, and countered with a powerful wind blast of her own that took him completely by surprise. He yelped as he flew through the air, landing on his back and sliding several feet.

“Woo-hoo!” Korra pumped her fists into the air in celebration, very much like she did back when she passed her firebending test. She was brought back to the present by Tenzin’s grumbling as he sat up. “Oh, sorry… Are you okay?” she asked, rushing over to help him up.

“Yes, I’m fine,” he said grumpily. Korra wanted to think that his disapproving tone was just because he was a bad loser. His next words blew this notion out the window. “You flagrantly ignored my teachings.”

“What do you mean?” she asked in surprise.

The tall man brushed his robes off indignantly. “I told you not to meet resistance with force! You may think that your little wind blast at the end there was powerful, but airbending manifests itself in technique, not stubbornness and brute force.”

“It was powerful enough to knock you off your feet,” she muttered under her breath.

Tenzin’s eyes narrowed. “Perhaps backtracking a bit would be for the best. I want you to run through the basic forms and stances for the rest of the morning.”

“But – “

“Do it!” he snapped, turning on his heel and marching off toward the temple.

The Water Tribe woman sighed irritably and hunkered down to go through the motions.



Later on that morning, Tenzin was suspiciously absent at breakfast. In the past, he would normally instruct Korra on forms and lessons before he left for work at City Hall. She left the dining hall and found him down at the island dock, preparing to embark on the ferry that would take him across Yue Bay.

“Tenzin, wait!”

He turned and scowled slightly. “I thought I told you to go through the basic forms again.”

“I did, and I plan to do it again. It’s just…” She paused for a moment, and then met his gaze. “I… I’m sorry about before. And I just want to say how much I appreciate you teaching me again,” she said genuinely. “I’ve trained for hours and hours down at the South Pole, but it wasn’t really working.”

Tenzin’s expression softened. “I should apologise too. I lost my patience with you again. There’s just something about you that’s so… so…”

“Annoying?” she offered.

“I was going to say stubborn,” he offered with a light smile, placing a hand on her shoulder. “But I can already see how much you have improved. I can tell you are going to be a great airbender.”

Korra returned his smile. “Thanks, Tenzin.”

He nodded and stepped onto the ferry, the wooden ship swaying slightly under his added weight. “You are to practice your forms until this afternoon. And then you can have the rest of the day off.”

She was surprised at that – her strict and uptight airbending teacher giving her time off?

“Use that time however you wish. Perhaps you might want to go and visit your friends in the city?” the monk continued shrewdly. “Don’t worry, what the White Lotus doesn’t know won’t hurt them.”

She grinned. “Thanks, Tenzin. You’re the best.”



The large central green dome of City Hall and its four ornate corner spires shone in the sunlight. A small contingent of police officers guarded the various entrances into the building – a supposed temporary measure while Republic City was in the midst of civil turmoil. The more disgruntled citizens did not fail to point out the ever-present battle cruisers of the United Forces docked in Yue Bay, or the fact that there were twice as many police airships in the sky as usual. Some were calling the so-called ‘emergency powers’ of the government nothing more than a blatant violation of civil rights.

Tension was heavy in the air of the conference chamber in City Hall, where the Provisional Government was in closed session. Aside from Tenzin, acting on behalf of the Air Nomads, and Oma, acting on behalf of the Earth Kingdom, no other members of the former United Republic Council were present. Tarrlock had disappeared along with Amon, and the Fire Nation and Southern Water Tribe representatives had taken indefinite leaves of absence, fearing for their safety.

The Fire Nation, Northern and Southern Water Tribes had not yet elected replacements. As such, the seats had been hastily filled with non-benders, elected from three key districts of the city, in an effort to appease citizens harbouring anti-bending sentiments. However, this action was often a point of strong criticism from others, who believed that there were better-qualified candidates who could do more for the city than “bow to the demands of a bunch of terrorists”.

“We can’t please everyone,” Oma had said, when Tenzin voiced the same concerns. “But for now, taking away legitimacy from the claims of the revolutionaries is what’s most important.”

Saikhan, the burly and balding Chief of Police, stood before the Provisional Government as he delivered his report. “The police have managed to retake several outer boroughs that remained under Equalist control. We successfully raided a number of chi-blocker training camps, hidden in cellars and basements, and seized electrified gloves and explosives.”

“This is good news,” Daio said, returning his copy of the written report to a pile of stacked papers on the table before him. He was a middle-aged man with long brown hair, done up in a single fat braid down his back.

“We also conducted a raid on the headquarters of the Red Monsoon triad last night, although the place had already been cleared out. They knew we were coming. We have intel that they have moved their headquarters to the Water Town slums, but nothing has been confirmed yet.”

“We simply must do something about those blasted triads. They’re taking advantage of the chaos in the city.”

“My officers are spread too thin,” Saikhan said, his voice echoing slightly throughout the vast room off its high vaulted ceiling, columns and void balconies. “If I may, I suggest that the Provisional Government reinstates Tarrlock’s curfew for all non-benders to be in their own homes by nightfall.”

The expressions of Daio and the other two non-bending ministers immediately darkened.

“That is an unacceptable course of action,” Tenzin said immediately.

“I fail to see why,” Saikhan replied. “The curfew was highly effective for quelling the Equalist insurgency. Putting it back into effect will greatly reduce their mobility, and allow the police to combat both them and the triads more effectively.”

“Have you forgotten about the riot which happened in the Dragon Flats borough? Had it not been for Avatar Korra’s intervention, hundreds of innocent bystanders, who had nothing at all to do with the Equalists, would have been arrested.”

“A regrettable incident, but one which was necessary for preventing the violence from escalating.”

Minister Oma spoke up. “Chief Saikhan, you were granted personal command of Tarrlock’s task-force to bring down the remaining Equalist cells throughout the city. Are you telling us that you have thus far been unsuccessful?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” the burly man shot back.

“Going by your logic, we should also impose curfews on benders to crack down on the bending triads,” Daio said darkly.

“That was actually my next point,” the Chief of Police replied as he drew another sheet of paper from his file. “This report details known areas of triad activity, and they are on the rise. My recommendation is for you to consider putting curfews into effect in these areas.”

“Chief Saikhan, let me make something perfectly clear,” Tenzin said, his voice even. “You turn this city into a private police state over my dead body.”



Later on that afternoon, Korra stepped onto the ferry at the docks of Air Temple Island, dressed in a tan trench-coat. Her easily-distinguishable hairstyle was hidden beneath a curled-brimmed hat with a leaf imprint on its front rim. It was, in fact, the same disguise she had worn when she and Mako had infiltrated that Equalist rally, all those months ago, to rescue Bolin after he had been kidnapped.

The same rally where she had first come face-to-face with Amon, and learned of his terrifying ability to take a person’s bending away – permanently.

Ever since that terrible technique had been used on her, she no longer saw herself as the Avatar. And the last thing she needed right now was for someone to recognise her, and expect her to perform the same miracles that the Order of the White Lotus had been expecting her entire life. She had to at least master airbending before she was ready to help anyone.

To this end, she was disguised, and pulled a dark red scarf she had borrowed from Jinora over her face.

As the ferry crossed the bay, Korra took in the white pinnacles of the city’s skyscrapers across the water. The golden profile of the Pro-Bending Arena, reflected in the water, caught her gaze, and she smiled as she remembered competing in her first pro-bending match. She would love to join the Fire Ferrets and play again, but could not see the league allowing an airbender to compete.

And that’s all I have now…

Oh, I have
got to stop throwing a pity party for myself! Airbending is a noble art, and I’m lucky to still have it.

But I could do so much more for the city if I had control of the other elements.

I can still do great things. Like Katara said, Aang could only airbend for a long time, and yet he saved so many people. Bending should not define who I am.

But all those years of training in the compound, all those years of being fed expectations and dreams of greatness by the Order of the White Lotus… I can’t help it…


Korra turned her head to gaze at Aang Memorial Island in silent reflection.

Forget the White Lotus. Forget expectations and destiny and all that other garbage. I’m going to do things my way, and if it means that I am the world’s first non-bending Avatar… then so be it.
« Last Edit: Jan 02, 2013 11:06 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 02, 2012 03:10 am »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 5: Return to Republic City




The ferry pulled up to the public docks, and Korra stepped into Republic City for the first time in nearly a month. She fished out a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket – one of Bolin’s first letters to her. He had gushed about the “amazingly fantastical” apartment that he and Mako had found in the Dragon Flats borough, and had even scribbled down the address for her.

She smirked, looking forward to seeing the surprised looks on their faces when she turned up on their doorstep. Although her excitement at seeing her friends again was somewhat soured by the guilt she felt at having not returned a single one of their letters. She would have to find some way to make it up to them.

The young woman made her way down several blocks toward a tram-stop, but was alarmed when she rounded a corner and saw a squad of metal-armoured police officers marching down the street. The front windows of several stores and parked Satomobiles were smashed, and broken bottles, planks of wood and other debris littered the road.

Perhaps what was most alarming was the character that could be seen on discarded banners, or spray-painted across the faces of many buildings.



‘Equal’, ‘level’, ‘peace’. It was the symbol of the Equalists.

“Hey, what happened here?” she asked a passing policeman.

“There was a riot,” he replied guardedly. “Equalist supporters gathered and marched toward City Hall. It got violent when they were stopped here by a police blockade.”

“Was anyone… killed?”

“No, but there were a lot of arrests.”

Korra sighed with relief.

“You’d best be moving along, young lady,” the officer said authoritatively. “This area is closed off until further notice.”

A ringing bell drew her attention to the waiting cable trolley that was just about to leave.

“Hey, wait up!” she called, waving the driver down frantically.

After forking over several yuans, she chuckled at the situation as she settled into a seat next to a window. Here she was, the Avatar, riding on a tram to the Dragon Flats borough. She supposed she could have waited for the White Lotus sentries to arrive, and then taken Naga. But riding a polar-bear dog through the streets of Republic City probably would have worked against her disguise.

After a while, the glamour of the city took a decisive downturn. The bright lights and vibrant atmosphere gave way for darkened streets, lit by dim streetlamps as time marched ever forward into the evening. The city took on a more dangerous feel at night.

“This is Canal Road, miss,” the driver called out, breaking Korra out of her reverie.

She thanked him and stepped off the tram and out into the Dragon Flats borough, flanked by a mixture of low-rise plain and pagoda-style apartment buildings. A small canal ran parallel to the road. Korra was startled by a loud wolf-whistle from a nearby corner, and looked over to see a man in a ratty waistcoat and blue tie eyeing her down appreciatively.

“Hey, honey. What are you doing walkin’ around a neighbourhood like this, all by yourself?”

“None of your business,” she shot back.

“Yeah? Well I’m about to make it my business.”

The man pushed away from the light-pole and made his way toward her with an arrogant swagger. Korra balled her fists by her side. The stranger stopped just short of her, looking her up and down.

“You got real pretty eyes,” he said. “You’ve gotta be from the Water Tribes. North or South?” He was unperturbed when he received no answer. “Don’t suppose you’re lookin’ for a job? Why don’t you come work for me? Bet you could fetch a pretty yuan.”

“I don’t think so, buster,” she replied, in a blatant glare. “You’d better back off, unless you want to go toe-to-toe with me.” Hopefully the guy could take a hint.

“Toots, I ain’t interested in fightin’ no girl. ‘Specially one as cute as you.” He took a deliberate step forward. “Now how ‘bout we discuss that business arrangement – “

Apparently not.

Whatever he was going to say next was cut off by his startled yelp as a powerful blast of wind blew him clear across the road, where he sailed into the canal with a mighty SPLASH. Korra lowered her palm and continued down the street.

Ugh… What a creep… Anyway… 23C Canal Road…

She entered the grimy apartment building, unable to stop herself from grimacing when she saw a large spider-rat scurrying behind the staircase.

Korra was able to appreciate that places like this had to exist, even before she left her ignorant little bubble in the South Pole. But before she came to Republic City, she had never expected the juxtaposition between classes to be so stark, so extreme. Needless to say, she had received quite the shock when she first met the vagabond, Gommu, in the park shortly after her arrival in the city.
It was an unfair world.

Granted, there were many stories of people who started with nothing, and yet made successes of themselves. But more often than not, those who started with less had fewer opportunities in life. People who grew up in the wrong district or country, and even people who were simply the victims of terrible circumstances – like Mako and Bolin.

The last time Korra was here, she had witnessed a non-bender protest against Tarrlock that quickly turned ugly. That was when she learned that many of the residents of this poor borough were in fact non-benders.

Some of the arguments the Equalists have really are legitimate concerns…

During much of the revolution, she had convinced herself that Noatak was nothing but an evil man – a tyrant and hypocrite, who only wished to wage war on benders. But the sheer size of the support that his movement had commanded – and still commanded – served to highlight the class division between those who could bend the elements, and those who could not.

The young woman shook these thoughts from her mind as she climbed the stairs and approached one of the dark wooden doors. She hesitated for a moment, and then raised her hand and rapped on the door. She waited in the dim hallway for a moment, before knocking again.

“I’m comin’, I’m a comin’!” a muffled voice drifted out from behind the door.

It opened to reveal a familiar figure – a stocky and well-built earthbender with thick eyebrows, wavy brown hair and a rounded button-nose. Korra broke into a wide grin at seeing her friend again.

“Hi, can I help yo… Korra?” His green eyes flashed with momentary confusion, before being replaced with shocked recognition. “Korra!” He spared a glance down at his immodest attire – a white vest and a pair of boxer-shorts. “Uh, Korra. Hey! Hi, Korra. Hi, Korra. Hi, Korra.” A beat of awkward silence passed. “You’re here. At my apartment. Just the two of us. Alone.”

He was cut off with an “OOF!” as she threw her arms around him in a strong hug.

“I’ve missed you, Bolin!”

The force at which she tackled him through the door just about sent him flying across the room – he had forgotten how strong she was. But he recovered and returned the hug with just as much gusto.

“Yeah, I’ve missed you too! It’s so good to see you again. When did you get back to the city?”

“Tonight,” she replied, smiling sheepishly.

“Well, come on in! We have some catching up to do!” he said, standing aside and gesturing her through. “I was just making dinner. You want some?”

“Yes, please! I’ve been airbending training all day, and I’m starving!”

With that, Korra entered the apartment and glanced around quickly, giving a once-over of the place. The floorboards, like the hallway, were scuffed and worn, and as far as furnishing went, there was not much to speak of – a worn orange sofa, a tiny coffee table, a nearly-empty bookcase and a couple of mattresses on the floor, tucked away in one corner.

Nothing seemed permanent. It was like they had not completely settled into their new home. With the way things were going in the city at the moment, she could not help but wonder if it was because the brothers did not want to.

While she was glancing around, Bolin discreetly stumbled across the room and pulled on a pair of dark-grey trousers. He grimaced at the sight of his clothes lying strewn all over the place, and kicked them into the corner, where they would hopefully be a little less conspicuous.

He looked over as Korra pulled off her trench-coat to drape it over the arm of the couch. It had been less than a month, but he had forgotten just how beautiful she was – her curvy figure, slightly tanned skin and brilliant turquoise eyes – typical of the people from the Southern Water Tribe.

He smiled when he saw she was wearing her regular high-collared light-blue vest, baggy dark-blue pants and fur pelt under the coat. When she pulled off her hat, she revealed her wavy brunette hair, done up in its usual style, with the high-clipped wolf-tail at the back and two pigtails at the side, held in place with three blue hair-tubes.

This was the Korra he knew, alright.

“Smells… interesting,” she said, breaking him out of his reverie. “What are you cooking?”

“Oh, just some noodles,” he replied, flipping over the stir-fry in the wok. “Mako taught me how to cook, and I’m putting it to practice.” He flashed her a wry smile over his shoulder. “Who would’ve thought I’d be cooking dinner for the Avatar? I’m bringing out the big guns for you, Korra.”

“I’m honoured,” she replied with a cheeky grin.

A little while later, he handed her a bowl of sloppy, greasy-looking noodles, with slightly-burnt bits of vegetables and meat.

“Sorry it’s nothing fancy,” he said apologetically. “If I’d known you were coming – “

“It looks great, Bolin,” she said, digging in with much gusto.

The two sat down on the single worn sofa and a companionable silence fell over the apartment as they slurped up their noodles with questionable table-manners.

“So how’ve you been?” Korra asked, scratching Pabu’s head as he poked his furry face out from behind the sofa. The little red fire ferret cooed in pleasure.

“Well, you know, keeping busy. Apartment-hunting for a while. Job-hunting now. Trying to avoid being kidnapped or blown up by Equalists.” Bolin twirled his chopsticks around a clump of noodles as he racked his brains for something cool and impressive to say. “Oh! I’m also looking to get the Fire Ferrets back together. You know that I’m the captain of the team now – Mako stepped down and I stepped up.” Bolin shot her a wide cheesy grin at this last statement, which she reciprocated, before her face fell.

“Sorry, Bolin, but I think you’ll have to be on the lookout for a new waterbender.”

“Oh, right! I’m sorry – no, no, I didn’t mean to get on your case or anything – you know, what, with you losing your bending and all, and being upset, and, uh – hey! Are those new hair-tubes you’re wearing – ?”

“Relax!” the Water Tribe girl laughed. “Don’t get your boxers in a twist. I’m fine. Really. I just needed some time figure out what I’m going to do with myself.”

“Oh, okay. Glad to hear it,” the stocky boy replied. “I was just worried, that’s all. We haven’t heard a peep from you in the past few weeks.”

She set down her bowl on the coffee-table and looked away out the darkening window as her face flushed red with embarrassment.

The silence was eventually broken by Bolin. “Korra, you never returned any of my letters. Why didn’t you write back?”

“I’m so sorry. I wanted to, I really did. But I guess I just felt… embarrassed.” Seeing her friend’s confused expression, she continued, “You, Mako and Asami have all gone off and done such cool and exciting things. I mean, come on! Asami’s the CEO of Future Industries. And you’re the captain of the Fire Ferrets now! While I… haven’t done much with my life in the last few weeks.”

“Korra, that’s crazy talk comin’ out of your mouth right now. You’re our friend, and we don’t care about all that other stuff. We just wanted to know that you were alright.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Ah, well, it won’t be a problem, since you’re here to stay now.” Bolin quirked a brow hopefully. “You are here to stay, right?”

“For the time being, while I continue to learn airbending,” Korra answered, a small smile appearing when she saw how her friend’s face lit up at the news. “It’ll be great to catch up with you guys again.” She looked around the apartment, empty aside from the two of them (and Pabu). “Speaking of which, where’s Mako? I thought that you two still lived together.”

“Yeah, we do. Mako’s out on a date with Asami tonight.”

“Oh!” She felt a strange pang in her chest. “A date! Well, that’s… nice.”

She had never said anything to anyone, but in those three days she spent hiding out with her friends underground during the revolution, her feelings toward the brooding firebender had resurfaced, and grown, even. She had been feeling so depressed and ashamed of her failure to stop Amon and his forces from gaining control of Republic City. However, Mako had always been there to talk to her, reassure her, and cheer her up.

After exposing Hiroshi Sato as an Equalist, Korra had put her feelings for Mako aside and told him to be there for Asami. And with everything going on, she hated the fact that her feelings for him appeared to be growing. A selfish part of her might have hoped that he and Asami would break up, but she pushed that feeling away.

After all, her two friends were happy, and that was what mattered, right?

At that moment, Korra and Bolin were startled by the sound of an explosion out in the street. They rushed to the window and looked out to see flashes and flares of fire.
« Last Edit: Jan 02, 2013 11:09 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #7 on: Dec 02, 2012 03:15 am »

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Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 6: A City In Crisis: Part I




Korra and Bolin rushed out of the apartment building to the sounds of shouting and blasts of fire, coming from around the corner.

“Bleeding hog-monkeys!” the earthbender exclaimed. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, but let’s find out!” Korra said, running toward the corner, her dark-red scarf flailing in the chilling breeze.

The two teenagers rounded the corner to see four metalbending police officers, engaged in a pitched battle in the middle of the road with at least six other benders. A loud whistling echoed throughout the darkened street as an officer shot out metal wrist-cables at two of the offenders, only for them to jump out of the way, immediately counterattacking with twin blasts of fire.

The officer manipulated his armour to cover his face and hands immediately, forming an impermeable suit of metal around himself. However, one of the other attackers produced a pair of flasks from the inside of his white suit, out of which shot two water-whips, tripping the police officer before he could recover.

“We have to help them!” Korra cried, throwing her fist forward and knocking two of the offenders off their feet with a pulse of airbending.

Bolin followed up with an open-palmed thrust that sent a chunk of the road flying into the stomach of another attacker, winding him.

The waterbender turned toward them, his eyes narrowing. “You’re gonna regret gettin’ involved, chumps!”

As soon as he spoke, a wisp of water snaked around Korra’s ankle, throwing her into the wall of a nearby building.

“Hey!” Bolin cried angrily. He started forward, only to feel the ground beneath his feet erupt upward in the form of a short, angled column of earth, sending him flying backward. He gasped as he landed on the road, the wind knocked from him.

Korra recovered from the blow and instinctively ducked, avoiding a roundhouse kick from the white-suited individual. She punched him in the stomach, but then felt another tendril of water wrap around her chest. The teenager was hurled into a nearby dark alleyway, landing painfully on her side and sliding several feet.

She climbed to her feet, brushing herself off, to see two figures entering the alley and staring her down menacingly.

“Listen, little lady,” the one in the white suit said. “We don’t wanna hurt you or your fat friend, so why don’t you just turn around and walk away?”

Korra scoffed. “Earth and firebenders. And you two chuckleheads are waterbenders? The Triple Threat Triad, right?”

“So you’ve heard of us,” the man sneered. “Can’t say I’m surprised – our reputation precedes us quite well.”

“Any member of a triad is an enemy of mine.”

With that, she let loose with a combo into the air in front of her, producing gusts of wind that slammed the unsuspecting triad-member into the dirty wall of the alleyway. The second man fell into a waterbending stance, and unleashed a horizontal rain of ice-shards at her from a shallow puddle on the alley floor.

Korra instinctively focused her chi into disrupting the oncoming ice projectiles. However, she was rudely reminded of the fact that she was no longer a waterbender when the first volley slammed into her chest, knocking her backward off her feet. She quickly recovered and rolled to the side behind a dumpster against the wall, hearing continuous metallic WHUMPS as the container bin was assailed by ice missiles.



Bolin stood shakily to see a dark burly figure bearing down on him. The man in question raised his fists to the side, and then brought them together. Bolin ducked, hearing the crash of two head-sized chunks of masonry, ripped from the exterior walls of nearby buildings, collide over his head. He rolled clear of the debris and thrust his palm into ground, raising chunks of the road that sent the offending eathbender off-balance. He followed through with a volley of large rocks, aiming for the man’s torso and limbs.

KROOM!

A rumbling reverberated throughout the road as the triad earthbender raised a rock shield between himself and his opponent, the flying rocks impacting harmlessly against it. A dust cloud enveloped the air moments later when the earth wall broke apart in a volley of rock spikes, flying directly at Bolin. He gasped and raised his hands to conjure an earth barrier of his own, but it was too late –

Whistling echoed as a metal cord appeared from nowhere, wrapping around Bolin’s body. With a sharp tug, the policeman yanked him backward out of harm’s way.



Korra waited for the last ice-shard to shatter, before leaping out from behind her cover and unleashing a funnel of wind that slammed the waterbender hard into the alley wall. He slumped to the ground, unconscious.

Movement caught her eye, and she turned to see the first triad-member shape and launch a large ball of ice at her from his flask in less than a second. She was mildly impressed with this guy’s skill.

But I’m better, she smirked, throwing her left arm into the air in a vertical sweeping motion that wind-blasted the ice-ball straight upward.

The waterbender was ready for this, however, and immediately followed through with a water-whip when he thought the girl was off-guard.

He had thought wrong.

Korra dodged the lashing tendril of water with a butterfly-kick to the side and, as soon as she landed, shot out a gust of air straight forward – catching the still-airborne ball of ice as it fell. For its part, the ball rocketed through the air, courtesy of the boost from Korra’s wind blast, and slammed right into the face of the triad man. He cried out in pain before sinking to the ground.

The airbending girl retrieved her brimmed hat from the ground, and then put her hands on her hips as she surveyed the two unconscious men before her. “Bet you two never fought an airbender before, huh?”

She rushed out of the alleyway to see if Bolin was alright, but was caught by surprise by the familiar hiss of police wrist-whips. An instant later, metal cables wrapped around her wrists, tying her hands behind her back.

“Hey!” she shouted in shock, turning her head toward the man responsible. “What are you doing? I was helping you guys out!”

The police officer detached the cables from his wrist and finished securing Korra’s hands behind her back. “You got involved in gang violence. As far as we’re concerned, you and your friend are involved with the triads too, and you’re under arrest.”

“Are you kidding me?” she exclaimed as the man grabbed her by the crook of her arm and hustled her across the road, toward a pair of waiting police vans. “I don’t believe this – we were helping you!”

The officer sighed. “Look miss, I’m just doing my job. The triads are running riot, and the city is short on officers. How do we know that you and your friend aren’t from a rival gang?”

“Because…” Korra paused in deliberation, but then sighed and turned her head toward him. “Because I’m the Avatar.”

However, the metalbender just laughed. “If I had a yuan for every time someone tried to talk their way out of arrest with that story…”

The young woman blew out a breath in frustration, and then looked over at the nearest police van. “Bolin!” she cried. “They arrested you too?”

The young earthbender was sitting in the back of the automobile with four of the triad-members, all of them tied-up as well. “Yeah,” he grumbled, clearly annoyed. “This is what you get for being a good samaritan these days, huh?”

Before Korra got the chance to answer, she was pulled away and guided into the back of the second van, along with the other two men who had been attacking the police officers.

“You and your boyfriend are gonna wish you were never born,” one of them growled.

“Yeah, whatever,” she said, huffing in annoyance.



The Police Headquarters was one of the oldest and most intricate buildings in Republic City, its geometric shape typical of Earth Kingdom architecture. Bright and early the next day, in a classroom in the west wing, Lin Beinfong stood before a class of cadets, posture rigid, hands clasped behind her back.

She was dressed in a uniform like the kind worn by members of the anti-Equalist task-force: a dark-blue, grey and yellow-trimmed tunic and metal shoulder pads. It was humiliating, but after the loss of her bending, the standard police-issued black metal body-armour was impossible for her to put on or take off by herself.

At least this particular batch of cadets looked promising. There had been a handful of water and firebenders, but the majority of applicants were earthbenders, many of which had shown impressive talent during the initial induction exam. Naturally, the task of instructing the earthbenders had been assigned to her.

“Before we begin, let me make one thing clear,” she said, her voice loud and authoritative. “Metalbending is a rare skill – outside of this police force, there are very few people in the world that can do it.” She gestured out the window at the sprawling city landscape. “Bending requires discretion in an urban environment – tearing up the infrastructure of the city is not the modus operandi of the police force. As such, I must inform you now that, unless you show adept skill in controlling your bending, the majority of successful candidates will only be metalbenders.”

There was a murmur throughout the class at this.

“I am here to instruct you in the ways of utilising your bending in a controlled manner to minimise damage and casualties,” Lin continued. “Earthbenders, you will learn the art of detecting impurities in metal to bend it – “

“Excuse me, Ms Beifong?”

She looked over at the cadet in question who had spoken. “Yes? What is it?” she snapped, annoyed at the interruption.

“With all due respect, shouldn’t we be learning from an actual metalbender?”

Lin’s eyes narrowed.

“I mean, you used to be the Chief of Police and all,” the young man continued, oblivious to her anger. “But Amon took your bending away.”

“Let me tell you something, boy!” she snapped, startling him. “I was the Chief of Police for a reason – my metalbending was the best of my generation. It probably had something to do with the fact that my mother, Toph Beifong, was the creator of metalbending. Despite the fact that I can no longer bend, I am still knowledgeable in the aspects of earth and metalbending.”

The sceptical looks on the faces of some of the cadets immediately vanished.

“And let me tell you something else,” Lin continued, looking around the room. “Republic City is in a state of emergency. Noatak took away the bending of many people, including a large majority of the police force. As such, we are short on officers, and the triads are taking advantage of that fact. To respond to this threat, Chief Saikhan has personally requested my assistance in training a new squadron of police officers as quickly as possible.”

A stunned silence filled the room.

“So,” the former metalbender said, directing her steely gaze back on the unfortunately-naïve cadet who had spoken out of turn. “Do you think this qualifies me for teaching this course?”

“Y-Yes, ma’am,” he croaked out, clearly terrified.

“Good,” she replied, her tone brisk. “When classes conclude today, you’re going to give me fifty laps around the training grounds.”

At that moment, the door opened. “Ms Beifong,” the police officer in the doorway said, snapping a salute. “One of the suspects we apprehended and brought in last night has been asking to speak with you.”

“So?” she said, waving a hand dismissively.

“Well… she says that she’s the Avatar…”

“What?” Lin exclaimed, whirling to face him. “She’s back in Republic City? And she’s been arrested again?”



After dozing off uncomfortably in the chair for a few hours, Korra paced around the dim interrogation room for what felt like the fiftieth time. She had been locked inside it ever since her arrival at the Police Headquarters several hours ago, which she took as an indication as to how swamped the police were. She hoped Tenzin was not too worried.

Suddenly, the door opened, revealing a familiar figure.

“Ms Beifong!” she exclaimed happily.

“By Hei Bai’s hairbrush!” the middle-aged woman sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “What am I going to do with you, Korra?”

The girl in question looked put-out. “For the umpteenth time, I’ve been arrested on a false charge. I’m not – “

“Yes, yes, I know what happened,” Lin cut in.

She nodded at the police officer who entered the room with her. The man walked around behind Korra, and the girl finally felt the metal cables around her bound wrists loosen, before sliding off completely. She gingerly brought her numb hands back in front of her and tried to rub some feeling back into them.

“I appreciate you helping out those officers last night,” Lin said. “And I’m sorry about your arrest. But with the way things are going right now, we are struggling just to keep control of the streets. We have to operate on an ‘arrest first, ask questions later’ basis.”

“Ms Beifong, what’s going on?” Korra asked, as she followed her through the bustling hallways.

The former Chief of Police pursed her lips and quickened her pace. “The triads are pushing for control of the city. The Agni Kais in particular have gained a lot of territory. And they’re becoming emboldened. As you witnessed firsthand last night, it’s getting to the point where they no longer turn tail and run from the police anymore. They stand and fight. I’ve never seen anything like it. Without the proper backup, it’s becoming very dangerous for the police to even patrol the streets in boroughs held by the triads.”

“What about the United Forces? Can’t they do anything?”

“They have their hands full with the Equalists. Besides, there’s not much they can do about internal issues.”

“Wow, that’s… messed up,” Korra finally offered, sidestepping a pair of policeman who were hauling a handcuffed individual past them.

“Don’t worry yourself with it, kid. I’m sure you’ve got enough on your plate at the moment. Just let us handle it.”

She was silent for a moment, the oppressive din of the chaotic police station buzzing in her ears, before she remembered what else had happened the previous evening. “Thanks for bailing me out. My friend Bolin was also arrested on similar charges – could you please have him released too?”

“Already taken care of,” Lin answered, pushing open a heavy wooden door to reveal the bustling reception area of the Police Headquarters, where she finally stopped and turned to face the Water Tribe girl directly. “His brother was called and informed of the situation, and is on his way down the police station to pick him up.”

The mention of Mako gave Korra pause, thinking back on what Bolin had said last night –

“I have arranged for a car to have you taken to the docks,” the policewoman continued. “I have also notified Tenzin of what happened. He will be waiting there to take you back to Air Temple Island.”

“Thanks, Ms Beifong.”

“Don’t mention it, kid. It’s the least I can do. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a class to get back to.”

With that, Korra found herself left alone in the reception area, chaotic with police officers, anti-Equalist task-force members, and anxious-looking citizens. She began to make her way toward the exit, but paused when she noticed someone sitting on one of the waiting benches.

Not just anyone.

Mako.
« Last Edit: Jan 02, 2013 11:22 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #8 on: Dec 27, 2012 01:17 am »

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Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 7: A City in Crisis: Part II




Korra took pause at seeing the young man sitting on the bench, like a single point of focus among the chaos in the Police Headquarters. He was dressed in his usual grey waistcoat and boots, dark pants, and maroon scarf. The same scarf that had belonged to his late father.

“Mako?”

He looked up, the warm glow of the lamps on the ceiling and wrought-iron brackets at the front desk making his amber gaze appear golden. It seemed to take him several moments to recognise her. This fact did not escape her.

“Korra? Is that you?” His tone was filled with surprise as he stood up. “I didn’t know you were back in the city.”

“Yeah, well I only got back last night.”

A moment of awkward silence passed between them, made all the more obnoxious by the din of the bustling reception area around them as people hurried to and fro on police business.

Mako scratched the back of his neck nervously. “So… how’ve you been?”

“Oh, you know, just causing trouble like usual,” she offered lightly. “I’m sure you know Bolin and I got arrested last night.”

“I know that Bolin got arrested last night.” The firebender sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose irritably. “I should have known you had something to do with it.”

“Nice to see you too,” she muttered sarcastically.

It was then that Mako took note of what she was wearing. “I haven’t seen you in a trench-coat like that since back when we snuck into that Equalist rally ages ago,” he commented. “What’s with the disguise? If I didn’t know you any better, I’d think you were trying to stay under the radar.” The expression on his face was that of light conversation, but his tone implied something else.

Korra found herself unable to answer his question.

“I sent you letters,” he said after a prolonged silence. “You never replied.” His brows furrowed. “You never gave me a chance to say goodbye before you ran off either.”

“Mako…” She tried to find the words to tell him what was really troubling her. “Listen… When we were in the South Pole… I… I’m sorry I just ran off like that.” She shamefully recalled her outburst at him, when he had just been trying to help. “I was so frustrated and upset, and I took it out on you.”

The hardened and brusque expression that had been steadily manifesting itself on the young man’s face softened. He glanced away momentarily to gather his thoughts, before taking a deep breath. “Listen, about what I said in the South Pole – “

The Avatar had chosen that exact moment to speak. “How are things with Asami?”

They both paused, then, “What?”

“Uh, you go first,” Korra said, blushing slightly.

“No, you go,” Mako offered.

“…How are things with Asami? I heard you two are still dating.”

“Uh… yeah… Everything’s fine,” he lied. He glanced awkwardly toward the far side of the room, hoping that Bolin would emerge at that moment to steer them off this subject. No such luck.

“That’s good. I’m glad to hear it,” Korra said genuinely.

Mako frowned, finding it hard to hard to meet her gaze. Shamefully, he chose to look down at his murky reflection in the polished wooden floorboards instead. Despite his relationship problems with Asami at present, things were much more stable than they had been a few weeks ago. With some measure of control returned to the police and the United Forces, and without the immediate issues of Amon, the Equalists and Asami’s father, the city had managed to return to some semblance of normality.

And, Mako was ashamed to admit to himself, his relationship with the heiress had been in a much better condition without Korra around.
But now that the fiery Water Tribe girl was back in the city…

How can I be so selfish? Mako berated himself angrily. Korra is great… She’s amazing. But Asami has always been there for me. Especially in the past month… She just lost her father to prison as well… Korra said it herself – I have to be there for Asami.

It occurred to him that neither he nor the blue-eyed girl before him had spoken for the past few moments. It was clear there was more to be said, yet no words came. Just as the silence between them was becoming unbearable –

“Mako! Korra!”

The girl in question visibly breathed a sigh of relief and turned to see her earthbender friend rushing toward them from across the lobby, sidestepping a number of people. “Bolin! Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine!” he grinned. “Those Triple Threats can’t touch this!”

“Bolin, I told you to stay away from the triads!” Mako snapped, visibly angry. “You’ve seen what’s been happening in the city. We can’t afford to get mixed up in all of this again!”

“It was my fault,” Korra interjected reluctantly. “We came across some police officers being attacked, and I jumped in to help them.” She turned to Bolin and bowed her head apologetically. “I’m sorry I got you caught up in all of it.”

He opened his mouth to reply, but –

“So you should be,” his brother snapped, amber eyes flashing.

Yet another moment of silence descended upon the three teenagers, and Korra bitterly realised how far she and her friends had drifted apart. Only a few weeks ago, they had loyally followed her into battle against the Equalists. And now…

“I… I have to go,” she finally said. “Training… Airbending…” She gave Bolin a brief hug and turned to leave. “It was… nice to see you both again.”

“Yeah, you too!” the earthbender called after her, but it was too late – she had already left the building.

What a disastrous reunion…



As Korra rode in the back of the Satomobile that Lin Beifong had arranged for her, she gazed silently out the window. During the drive across the city, the scene that unfolded before her eyes on was not a peaceful one.

Evidence of revolt – destruction, vandalism, the aftermath of riots and looting – was everywhere. Banners hung from streetlamps and the faces of buildings, seemingly being put up faster than the police could take them down. Banners which bore the symbol of the Equalists, imprinted over a large red circle.

Korra’s frown deepened as she saw what this hideous revolution was doing to Republic City. The supposed centre of peace and balance in the world.

I am not afraid, she told herself. I have a duty to this city, to the world, to Aang.

After a short drive, she thanked the driver and climbed out of the Satomobile. She looked toward the bay and saw the bright orange sails of the ferry, tied up at the city docks. The young woman began to make her way toward it, but the sound of loud voices drew her attention. There was a protest underway across the road, where many people were chanting and holding up placards with angry messages.

BENDERS GET OUT OF TOWN!

WE REFUSE TO SUBMIT TO OPPRESSION

THE UNITED REPUBLIC – OF NON-BENDERS


Korra was appalled at the level of hatred being shown toward benders. The entire movement appeared to be driven by nothing more than a xenophobic fear of people like them, but not the same as them.

It raised her hackles, and she was seriously considering going over there and giving them a piece of her mind, when she heard Tenzin calling out to her. She made her way over and met him at the ferry.

“I heard what happened,” he said, disapproval in his tone. “While I am happy that you feel confident enough to apply airbending in combat, it was a very dangerous thing to do. You need to understand that you can no longer bend the other elements – you are a lot more vulnerable now.”

Korra said nothing, and his face softened. He imagined that, after spending the night in lockup, a lecture was the last thing she needed.

“Come on,” he said, turning to step onto the ferry’s wooden deck. “Let’s head back to the island. You can catch up on your sleep, and then resume your training in the afternoon.”

“What about you?” she asked in surprise. “Aren’t you needed over at City Hall?”

“I’ve taken the day off. I wanted to instruct you further. Also…” His tone softened as he took on a thoughtful expression. “I’ve been at work so much lately, and I’d like to spend some time with my family.”

Korra smiled at that, warmed by her teacher’s family values. They rode the ferry across Yue Bay mostly in silence. Tenzin looked back toward the stern of the boat, where his pupil was leaning on the railings, gazing across the water back toward Republic City. He was hit with a sense of déjà vu – they had both been in this exact same situation when Korra had first arrived in the city all those months ago. Right after she had been arrested for the first time as well, no less.

“Are you… doing alright?” he asked, making his way to stand beside her.

She looked back at him, surprised by the question. “Uh, yeah. I’m fine.” Seeing Tenzin’s solemn expression cracked her façade, and she relented. “…I just saw what you’ve had to deal with for the past month. This anti-bender movement, it just makes me so… angry.” Korra’s voice gradually rose as she vented, giving rise to how stressed and frustrated she was feeling. “I mean… what do they want us to do? We’re all the same people, whether we can channel the elements or not, but the Equalists want benders – and by extension, me – out of the country.” Her shoulders heaved as she sighed heavily, almost as if in defeat. “I’m just not sure if I can see a peaceful resolution to all this.”

Tenzin put a hand on her shoulder in an effort to reassure her. He gazed out across the bay as the sun sparkled off waves, patches of blue sky present among the pall of clouds. “Those people are not the Equalists, Korra. You can’t put them all in the same basket. They would never go to the same extremes.”

“Are you sure about that? How certain are you that this anti-bender movement won’t escalate?” She rubbed her arms as the wind snaked beneath her trench-coat, taking a moment to regain her composure. “I saw a lot of the city in the last couple of days, and things are a total mess. There was an Equalist riot, the triads are in open battle with the police, and there is violence everywhere.”

“One thing at a time,” he replied solemnly. “For now, things are under control.”

Korra vehemently hoped he was right.
« Last Edit: Dec 29, 2012 11:46 pm by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #9 on: Dec 28, 2012 02:31 am »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 8: A Dance Among the Wind Gates




The Pro-Bending Arena was filled with screams and cries of fear as chi-blockers stood in the bleachers, holding the spectators hostage with gauntlets that glowed with a menacing blue light. Police officers lay unconscious at their feet. The masked and charismatic leader of the Equalists stood in the middle of the ring, basked in the golden light of the colossal lamp overhead at the apex of the glass dome, as he delivered an address he was certain all of Republic City would hear.

“My followers and I will not rest until the entire city achieves equality. And once that goal is achieved, we will equalise the rest of the world. The revolution… has begun!”

With a resounding crash of shattering glass overhead and the ear-rattling blast of an exploding bomb destroying the pro-bending ring, left behind by the revolutionaries, the Arena erupted into chaos.

“I’m going after Amon!” Korra cried, jumping into the water below the ring.

The cacophony of noise was muted as she twirled below the surface for several moments, channelling the swirl and energy of the water through her body.

Go.

She exploded from the surface in a spinning typhoon of water. People in the stands looked on in awe as she shot upward through the air in pursuit of Amon, riding atop a conjured waterspout. Despite the red and white pro-bending uniform she was wearing, this powerful display was inadvertently serving as a reminder to all that she was indeed the Avatar, the most powerful bender in the world.

With an impromptu boost from Lin Beifong’s metal cables, Korra found herself standing on one of the platforms hanging at the bottom of an Equalist getaway rope, her hair blowing in the evening wind. She glared up at Amon as he escaped into his airship and, with a cry of frustration, hurled a huge fireball at him.

Hearing familiar hisses and whistles, she looked down to see Lin emerge from the hole in the glass dome of the Arena in a graceful spin, her steel whips twirling around her as they retracted back to her wrist-cuffs. She immediately lashed out with her right-hand whip and ensnared a chi-blocker that was swinging down toward the Avatar on another rope. With a startled cry, the assailant was pulled down and slammed into the glass dome below.

The next thing Korra knew, two more rebels slid down the rope and knocked her off the platform. The young woman landed hard on the roof, a menacing and jagged crack appearing in the glass beneath her feet.

She and Lin found themselves side-by-side, engaged in a fight with Amon’s chi-blockers on the dome rooftop of the Arena, against the glittering backdrop of Republic City’s skyscrapers.

Korra and Amon’s Lieutenant exchanged blows, dodging and striking back at each other with blasts of fire and electrified batons. She side-stepped a spinning swing, followed through by an outstretched thrust of a kali-stick. The Avatar then used her opponent’s momentum against him, picking him up and slamming him down into the glass. In a surge of adrenaline and a powerful plume of flame, she sent him tumbling over the side of the dome.

However, her victory was short-lived. As soon as she landed from the jump, her eyes widened with fear at a loud cracking sound. The glass roof shattered beneath her feet, sending her plummeting back down toward the pro-bending ring, far below. If she hit the water from this height, the surface tension would mean little difference from hitting concrete.

Come on – ! Do something, she screamed at herself. Bend the water into a spout and soften the fall!

However, try as she might, Korra could not feel the ebb and flow of water through her body anymore. She began to panic.

What’s going on…?

As she plummeted downward, Amon’s scornful laughter echoed in her ears.

“What’s the matter, young Avatar? Can’t waterbend anymore? That’s not all… You can no longer bend earth or fire either…”

She screamed as her doom rose up to meet her.

“I told you I would destroy you. Finally… you are powerless.”



Korra awoke with a strangled scream, tangled in her bed-sheets. Sweat beaded down her face, and she took several deep gulps of air to try and slow her breathing. Feeling the soothingly familiar sensation of a scratchy tongue licking her hand, she wrapped her arms around the polar-bear dog’s head.

“It… It’s alright, Naga. Just a bad dream.”

Her furry best-friend whined comfortingly, and she found herself glad that the White Lotus sentries had arrived yesterday afternoon, not too long after she had returned from the Police Headquarters. As soon as they docked, Naga had practically exploded from the ship and pounced on her master with a happy bark.

Korra sat that way, resting her body on the beast’s large head for a while in an effort to stave off the chill in the air, before stealing a glance out the window. The sky was a creamy kind of pre-dawn colour. She sighed, figuring that she might as well get a head-start on the day’s airbending training.

However, as she made to get up, exhaustion hit her like one of those damned spinning panels in Tenzin’s air training. She sunk back to her pillow with a sigh, her eyelids drooping.

Or not…



After falling back to sleep for what only felt like five seconds, Korra was jolted awake by Ikki perched on her knees on the bed, yelling into her ear.

“COME ON! COME ON! WAKE UP SLEEPYHEAD! YOU’VE GOT A BIG DAY AHEAD OF YOU!”

She groaned as she cracked an eye open. “Ikki, what time is it?”

“Six o’clock! On the dot! Early morning training!” the hyperactive little girl exclaimed, clapping her hands together excitedly.

“The morning is evil,” the teenager whispered, rolling back over and pulling the pillow over her head.

“Come on, you have to get up! Pretty pretty please?” Ikki persisted shrilly. The bed creaked and groaned as she practically bounced up and down in excitement.

“Ugh, what’s so special about today?”

“Well…” She took on decisively coy tone. “If you do well in training today…”

Korra perked up, her interest piqued. “If I do well today, what?”

The young girl grinned widely at her. “Daddy says that if you do well and master the next airbending sets, Jinora and I get to teach you how to ride an air-scooter!” she gushed excitedly.

The Water Tribe girl’s blue eyes lit up. “Really? What are we waiting for? Let’s do this.”



Dreary white-grey clouds covered most of the sky, although patches of pale blue sky could still be seen from the deck of the ferry. The dark waves of Yue Bay lapped up against the wooden hull, causing a rhythmic rocking of the ship.

“Come on, Mako,” Bolin said, exasperation in his tone, as they sailed slowly past Aang Memorial Island. “At least try and act cheerful.”

“I am acting cheerful,” the brooding firebender snapped.

The long, red and furry fire ferret draped around his brother’s shoulders chattered shrilly.

“Uh-huh, sure you are.” Bolin sighed. “Look, bro. You’re stressed out. Asami’s stressed out. You’re stressing ME out. Heck, you’re even stressing Pabu out! But work’s over for the day. Leave your problems at the power-plant, and let’s have some fun tonight, alright?” He looked pointedly at his brother. “And don’t be so hard on Korra this time.”

Mako chose not to voice the fact the vast majority of his discomfort at that moment was stemming from the notion of spending the upcoming evening with his girlfriend and… Korra. Especially given what he had almost confessed to her in the South Pole. However…

“You hear me, bro?” Bolin’s voice cut into his thoughts.

“Yeah… I hear you.”

The sky was beginning to darken as evening fell over Republic City. Golden lights were starting to come on in the metropolis, reflected like a mirror image in the waters of Yue Bay. The two brothers spent the rest of the ferry journey in silence, soon arriving at the docks of Air Temple Island.

After learning where Korra was, from some Air Acolytes living on the island, they made their way up a flight of stone steps to a paved area, surrounded by a dense bamboo garden and lit up by a handful of pale lanterns. At the far end were three girls, as well as a set of ancient wooden wind gates. The brothers paused when they saw Jinora and Ikki draw their arms back, before unleashing twin torrents of air that set all of the wooden panels spinning rapidly.

“What are they doing?” Bolin asked.

“Airbending training,” Mako said, smiling slightly at the sense of déjà vu. He remembered seeing an identical scene unfold several months ago when he had first come to Air Temple Island, looking for his “little lovebird” brother.

Sure enough, the young men fell silent when they saw a flash of blue navigating the spinning panels with incredible grace. Wind echoed throughout the gates as Korra spun and twirled her way through them – eyes closed in concentration, one of her arms held straight and high above her head, the other low. The fur pelt around her waist billowed outward, almost like a skirt in the wind.

It was like watching a graceful dance. A dancer in Water Tribe garb, infused with the grace of an Air Nomad. A wise guru once said that the separation between nations, and the very elements themselves, was an illusion.

“Whoa…” Bolin breathed as she emerged on the far side of the spinning gates. She really is beautiful…

Mako frowned slightly “Come on, Bo. We need to tell her about our dinner plans now, so she has time to get ready.” He shrugged nonchalantly. “You know what girls are like.”

“Yeah! She’s going to be so excited!” his younger brother whooped. “Kooooraaa!” he called out, waving his arm and running over.

The girl looked over at them in surprise, while the two young airbenders started giggling and whispering to each other.

“Hey, it’s Maaaaako,” Ikki teased. “Does he still drive you ‘crazy’, Korra?”

The young woman in question whirled, a traitorous blush creeping across her cheeks. “Run along, girls!” she snapped, before blasting both of them clear over the bamboo garden with a powerful gust of wind. They giggled as they controlled the air currents below them, slowing their descent.

“Don’t forget about air-scooter lessons tomorrow!” Jinora called out as she floated down to the ground and ran off with her younger sister.

“Air-scooters?” Bolin said as he stopped in front of her. “Wow, you’re quickly becoming a master airbender, huh?”

“Just putting forms together and actually getting results. I’ve learned all sorts of neat stuff for airbending,” Korra replied, grinning at him. “Wanna see my marble trick? Well, it’s not really ‘mine’, it was Aang’s, but Meelo taught me – ”

“No thanks,” Mako said as he reached them. “We came here to tell you about dinner tonight.”

“Dinner?” she asked, frowning.

“Well… the other night didn’t exactly go according to plan… What, with us both nearly being flame-broiled, stabbed, crushed by rocks, and then arrested.” Bolin scratched the back of his neck sheepishly, before his tone abruptly brightened. “So I went ahead and told Asami that you’re back in the city, and she wants to meet up with us all for dinner tonight.”

“Oh,” the young Avatar replied, smiling. “That sounds really nice. Where are we going?”

“Asami made a reservation at Kuang’s Cuisine,” he said, barely able to contain his excitement. The pale lights of the lanterns glinted off his face, his expression like that of a child who had just been told he could have any toy in the store he wanted.

Oh Bolin... Korra smirked, in spite of herself. “You sound really… enthusiastic. Is this Kuang’s place any good?”

“Oh, it’s only the most exclusive restaurant in the entire city. You can’t even stand outside it without being properly dressed. Trust me, I’ve tried.”

“…Oh,” was all she could muster in way of a response.

In actual fact, there was a whirlwind of thoughts inside her head. She had never eaten at a restaurant so classy that it had its own dress-code. If she got dressed up, what if someone recognised her?

Although… it would be really nice to see Asami again, and have the group hanging out again like old times.

She opened her mouth to say all of these things, only to find herself summing it up in a single word.

Mako quirked an eyebrow. “‘Oh’?”

Korra’s face blushed slightly. “Um, I mean, I’m not sure I have any clothes fancy enough… Can’t we go somewhere more… low-key?”

And inconspicuous?

However, upon seeing Bolin’s crestfallen face, she relented. “Hey, I know! Let’s go to Kuang’s!”

“Asami insists on having a fancy dinner to welcome you back.” Mako noticed Korra’s uneasiness, and his tone softened. “Don’t worry. I was nervous the first time I went there, but it’s not all that bad.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about your fancy first date, she could not help but think sourly.

“Just wear your nicest dress, and the doorman will get you accessories and stuff,” Bolin interjected helpfully, as the fire ferret jumped off his shoulders to forage on the ground for food.

“Dresses? Accessories?” the young woman laughed. “Bolin, what were you doing when you were standing out the front of that restaurant?”

“Nothing suspicious,” he replied, choosing that moment to look away as Pabu and a native winged lemur began to chase each other in circles.

“Anyway, the booking is in two hours,” Mako said. “That’s enough time for you to get ready and get to the restaurant, right?”

Korra shot him a look. “More than enough, City Boy. You should know by now, I’m no prissy girl.”

He smirked. “Sure do. Just making sure nothing changed while you were down in the South Pole.”

When you didn’t so much as return a single letter, he reminded himself, his smile fading.

“Great!” Bolin exclaimed scooping up his pet fire ferret and turning to leave. “We’ll see you there at seven then.”
« Last Edit: Jan 10, 2013 07:47 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #10 on: Dec 28, 2012 02:32 am »

Chapter 8 - (con)



* * *

The monolithic structure of Future Industries’ primary factory stood like a silent guardian at the foot of the inland mountain range just beyond Republic City, its distinctive external smokestacks towering over the streets at each corner of the structure. The scale of cars driving past was like that of ants, the gargantuan building dominating the immediate area in the industrial district.

In the upper level of the factory, the atmosphere in the boardroom was thick and heavy with tension and unease – a common ambience throughout the company ever since Asami Sato’s impromptu takeover from her now-incarcerated father.

“This is a huge step forward in technology,” an agent insisted.

“I still believe people would have trouble accepting this form of travel,” another department head argued.

The agent looked toward the far side of the boardroom, where the wall was lined with glass windows, allowing one to look down into main factory floor. He could almost see it now: rows upon rows of biplanes, all with the Future Industries logo. “Air travel would be a far safer option than anything else available,” he persisted. “And think about the publicity – air travel! Something that was once only achievable by the Air Nomads. The reliability and functionality of these high-speed aircraft has already been proven – they decimated the United Forces’ naval fleet during the Equalist Revolution.”

“I’m not too sure how people would react to this – it almost seems like another nail in the coffin of the airbenders,” a balding company official interjected.

“Oh, please,” the advocator snorted derisively. “The Air Nomad culture is dead and buried.”

A young woman at the head of the table, with long dark hair, done up in a bun, stiffened visibly. “I would appreciate you holding your tongue, and showing Avatar Aang and Minister Tenzin’s family the respect they deserve,” she said sharply.

The man looked abashed. “My apologies, Ms Sato.”

Asami Sato had always held the utmost respect for Tenzin. When he allowed her to come and stay on Air Temple Island with Korra and her friends, after her father was exposed as an Equalist supporter during the revolution, her opinion of him had only improved over time.

However, she could not help but agree with the proposed motion of commercial air travel. Future Industries’ reputation had been severely damaged as a result its involvement with the Equalists. Sales of Satomobiles were at an all-time low, and she needed something to get them back on top.

“The Research and Development department has my approval,” Asami said. “See what can be done about constructing a commercial airplane.” She stacked her papers and stood, signalling the end of the meeting.

As the boardroom emptied, she took a moment to stand at the wall of windows and gaze down into the factory – her factory. Another migraine was forming, and she rubbed her temples and sighed. Maybe she was not cut out for this. It would make so much more sense for her to leave Future Industries in more capable hands. But she did not want to see some stranger running her father’s company – a father whom she still loved, despite everything he had done to her.

“I now see there is no chance to save you!”

“You really a horrible father.”


“Excuse me, Ms Sato?” her attendant called from the door. “There is someone here to see you.”

“Does he have an appointment?” she asked, turning.

Her breath caught in her throat, and she blinked in surprise. Standing with her attendant at the door was a handsome young man with styled black hair, wearing a red military uniform jacket and pressed white service pants.

“Ms Sato,” he greeted. “I am General Iroh of the United Forces.”

“I – I know who you are,” she replied quickly. “You’re in charge of the garrison in the city. We met in the shanty town during the revolution.”

“Yes, I remember you. I’m sorry I did not get a chance to formally introduce myself then. And I sincerely appreciate your help in disabling the Equalist airfield,” he replied genuinely.

Although the enemy biplanes had, for the moment, been grounded, the Equalist airfield on the far side of the mountains was still acting as a proverbial thorn in his side. Two United Forces airships he had dispatched to take the airfield had been shot down on approach, and fighting within the city was too heavy at the moment for him to organise any kind of ground assault, not to mention that the mountain-range would act as a natural barrier against such an attack.

However, it was only a matter of time before the Equalists repaired the runways and mobilised their airplanes again. If that happened, they could very well turn the tide in the battle for Republic City in their favour. Something had to be done, and soon.

The young general pushed these troubling thoughts from his mind as he turned his attention back to the heiress standing before him. Instead of the form-fitting black and red-trimmed racing outfit he had seen in her in last time, Asami Sato now wore a pressed business suit. With her hair done up in a bun, she looked like an almost entirely different person.

Be professional, he berated himself, and distracted himself by looking around the boardroom. “Your family has quite the operation here.”

“Thank you. It was my father’s dream – “ Asami’s words caught, and she cleared her throat awkwardly. “What can I do for you, General?”

“Please, call me Iroh,” he replied with a smile.

She found herself reciprocating. “What can I do for you, Iroh?”

“I have been instructed by my superiors to engage in negotiations with Future Industries, regarding the construction and development of Mecha-Tanks,” he replied, his tone all business. “The United Forces believes that bipedal mechs would provide invaluable siege support, as well as tactical advantages in the war against the Equalists.”

“I’m afraid I have nothing to do with making my father’s horrible war machines,” the young businesswoman replied briskly. “Besides, my company does not have the schematics for those – they were an Equalist weapon.”

“Yes, but Future Industries was a front for Hiroshi Sato’s involvement with the Equalists. Your father must have been keeping the design documents somewhere – if not here, then perhaps at your residence?”

Asami found her mood quickly souring by the topic of discussion. “I’m sorry, but I am not about to turn this company into an industrial military complex. I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave.”

She had been expecting the general to argue, but was surprised when he bowed his head respectfully.

“As you wish. Thank you for your time, ma’am.”

The heiress stared after him as he left, a frown marring her features.

“Is… everything alright, Ms Sato?” her aide asked carefully, reappearing in the doorway.

“…Yes, everything’s fine. If you’ll excuse me, I’m leaving for the day. I have a dinner reservation to get ready for.”
« Last Edit: Jan 09, 2013 11:23 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #11 on: Jan 01, 2013 11:10 am »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 9: Dinner and a Show




Night had fallen over Republic City, the light of the day fading away, but hardly the buzz of activity. The sounds of nightlife sprung into action as bars and lounges opened their doors, the heavy pulsations of jazz and swing, and the shouts and calls of party-goers spilling out into the streets.

A stranger to the city might not have known that there was a war going on. However, a more observant eye could spot arguments and confrontations occasionally cropping up between groups of benders and non-benders, erupting into street brawls more often than not.

Korra fidgeted nervously as the Satomobile trundled down the road. Bolin had graciously agreed to meet her at the city docks, where they hailed down a taxi. She wore a dark-blue, white-trimmed and high-collared dress, which parted at the bottom to a darker blue and white layer. A pair of ‘dressier’ thin grey boots she was wearing could be seen where the bottom white layer ended, halfway up her calves. The dress was sleeveless, showing off her tanned arms and the three Water Tribe armbands she always wore.

It was in fact the same outfit she had worn to Tarrlock’s sham of a party several months ago. Korra found herself feeling embarrassed by her miniscule wardrobe of fancy clothes, but she rarely had need of dresses throughout her childhood – whenever she was not training, she had been spending time with her family.

She let her hair down that evening to cascade over her shoulders, aside from the two pigtails which she kept in place, with the blue hair-tubes, to frame her face.

“You look really pretty tonight,” Bolin commented. “Not that you weren’t pretty already! I only meant that you look pretty… er. Prettier! Yeah, that’s it!”

“Are you sure?” she fretted. From the way her earthbender friend had been talking this place up (not to mention Tenzin’s family, when she had informed them that she was having dinner at Kuang’s Cuisine tonight), the teenage girl was almost certain she would be refused entry unless she was dressed in the royal robes of the Fire Lady.

“Of course I’m sure! You’re going to be turning heads tonight!”

A small smile crossed Korra’s lips. “Thanks, Bolin. You’re looking pretty snazzy yourself.”

The stocky teenager grinned as he adjusted the dark suit-jacket he was wearing over a green and gold-trimmed waistcoat and white shirt. “What can I say? I pulled all of the Fire Ferrets’ fan-girls for a reason. No one can resist… this.”

She chuckled slightly in response.

Kuang’s Cuisine soon came into view, standing tall and proud on a street corner, lit up like a Fire Lord’s coronation ceremony. It was a stylised four-storey restaurant, with secluded balconies, pagoda-style overhangs, and a stylish blend of yellow lights and red wood trimmings.

Korra pursed her lips. Why, oh why did Asami have to pick such a fancy place?

“You okay?” Bolin’s voice cut into her thoughts.

“Oh… Uh, yeah. Just… hungry,” she offered lamely.

Fortunately, he did not seem to pick up on the lie. “Oh, yeah! I’m starving. I’ve heard from Mako and Asami that they serve this fish that melts in your mouth and, oh – I can’t wait to try it!”

The Water Tribe girl nodded absently at his enthusiasm. They were soon entering the red-carpeted, brightly-lit foyer of the restaurant, where a dapper doorman was waiting.

“Ahhhh, welcome to Kuang’s Cuisine,” he greeted them, bowing ridiculously low.

“Uh, thanks,” Korra uttered. How does this guy not have back problems?

“You are Ms Sato’s guests for the evening, correct?”

“That’s right!” Bolin said eagerly.

“Very good, sir,” the doorman replied brusquely, gesturing toward the staircase. “This way, please.”

With that, the mismatched trio climbed the ornate staircase, the polished dark wooden banisters reflecting the lights from the ceiling.

“Hey, can I ask you something?” Korra said suddenly.

Their guide immediately stopped and whirled, nearly causing her to crash into him. “You may ask me anything you wish. I am at your service, madam.”

“Okay, so… is this dress… okay?” She noticed Bolin shooting her a look out of the corner of her eye and shrugged apologetically.

The doorman’s long and twirled moustache quivered as he smiled slightly. “I assure you, madam, that had your attire not been deemed appropriate, I would have informed you immediately upon your arrival. As it is, your dress meets the standards kept at this establishment.” He turned to continue up the stairs, only to stop and turn again (once again nearly causing Korra to bowl him over). “Your chaperone, on the other hand…” He spoke in a hushed tone, so that only she could hear him. “Please advise him discreetly that if he is to wear that suit here again, it must be accompanied with a bowtie or something similar.”

“Uh… sure,” she replied after a beat.

“I would have remedied the situation myself upon his arrival but, alas, it appears that suits of only half a dress-standard are all the fashion these days,” the man said haughtily. “I’m afraid all of our accessories have already been loaned out for the evening.” Without another word, he turned and continued on his way.

“You’re in trou-ble,” Korra said in a sing-song voice, in answer to the questioning look that Bolin gave her.

In sharp contrast to bright lights of the foyer, the restaurant itself was softly-lit, much of the light swallowed by the deep red carpeted floor and the heavy drapes hanging between the booths that lined the walls. The mood-darkened room was filled with white-clothed tables, half of which sat empty. Kuang’s Cuisine certainly seemed popular, but the empty tables kept it from being crowded. The Avatar had a feeling that was intentional.

She found her eyes drawn to a pair of men on a raised dais on the far wall, each of them dressed in a long grey overcoat, a bowler hat and dark glasses. They stood behind a large and ornate guqin, their fingers moving in rapid succession as they plucked and strummed the strings of the instrument. The music swelled and fell, in a series of chords and plucked notes, in a beautiful melody.

“Ahhhhhhh, I see you are interested in our musicians for the evening,” the doorman said pleasantly. “They are the Harpist Brothers from the northern province of the Earth Kingdom. The piece they are playing right now is ‘Midnight Assassin’, which will be followed by ‘Blade of the Gu Qin’.”

“Korra! Bolin!” a very familiar and very welcome voice called over the cultured din of voices and music.

The Future Industries heiress was standing at a booth tucked away in the corner, dressed in a dazzling dark-red dress. Her flowing black hair fell gracefully over her shoulders, accentuated with a lotus hairclip.

Her boyfriend was dressed just as immaculately as Bolin, except that his suit was offset by the maroon scarf tied around his neck.

“Asami! It’s so good to see you!” Korra exclaimed, enveloping her in a bone-crushing hug. She nodded at Mako. “And you don’t look too bad yourself, City Slicker.”

Asami laughed as they seated themselves and the waiter poured out four cups of tea for them. “It’s been too long, Korra! How’ve you been? What have you been up to?”

The girl in question inwardly grimaced, imagining telling the entire table of her fruitless attempts to reconnect with her past lives, and vain efforts to recover her lost bending. Or the disappointed looks of the senior White Lotus masters every time she had failed to bend water, earth and fire. Or how she pictured Aang turning in his grave at the prospect of his legacy being handed down to her.

On the surface, she smiled. “Oh, you know. Avatar stuff. What about you? How have you been?”

Asami inwardly grimaced, thinking about the nights she had spent locked in her bedroom in a house that no longer felt like home, crying about her father who had tried to murder her. Or the struggling Satomobile empire she was now in charge of, and in no way felt ready for. Or her fledgling relationship with Mako, festooned with problems that magically seemed to disappear when Korra was not around – a fact that did not escape her.

On the surface, she smiled. “I’m fine. Everything’s great.”



The cultured din of the restaurant drifted in the air, intermingled with the music of the guqin, softly filling all corners of the room. Waiters flitted back and forth between tables, refilling cups, serving food and fading away into the darkened atmosphere of the restaurant.

The table before the four teenagers was soon laden with plates of food, ranging from fluffy white rice, to large, airy dumplings, to steamer baskets filled with dim sum of various colours.

Bolin prodded at a plate laden with a large steaming red fish. “Hey, what’s this dish again?”

“Fire Fish,” the waiter answered.

He eagerly took a huge forkful, only to spit it back out moments later, rubbing his tongue. “Oh, Spirits, that’s hot! Hot, hot, hot!” Asami could have sworn she saw steam coming out of his ears.

“Fire Fish,” Mako deadpanned in a sarcastic monotone. “Hot. What do you know?”

“So I hear that Tenzin is training you in airbending again,” the heiress said to Korra, plucking a piece of soya sauce-soaked bok choy with her chopsticks from a long plate in the middle of table.

“Yeah, and his whole family is getting in on it as well,” she replied, a playful glint in her eye. “Meelo taught me the ‘all-important’ marble trick the other day, while Jinora and Ikki are going to teach me how to ride an air-scooter tomorrow.”

“That’s great!” Asami exclaimed. “Maybe – once you’ve mastered it – you and I can actually race each other on the track.”

“A race-car versus an air-scooter? My money’s on the car.” Bolin shrugged apologetically. “No offence, Korra.”

“None taken,” she replied.

“And speaking of which, the Republic City Circuit will be starting up soon. We should totally go and catch a few races!” Seeing her puzzled expression, he elaborated, “It’s a racing tournament – one of the biggest in the world. People come from all over to compete.”

“I suppose you knuckle-heads need something to do in between pro-bending seasons,” she joked.

“Have you picked out a company team for the Circuit yet, Asami?” Bolin asked, turning to face her.

“Well… no,” the young woman answered, her shoulders slumping. “After finding out about my dad’s involvement with the Equalists, our regular racing team quit, and they want nothing more to do with Future Industries.”

“You never told me that,” Mako piped up, concern in his voice.

“Why don’t you race, Asami?” Bolin suggested, taking a sip of tea. “You’re one of the craziest drivers I’ve ever seen.”

“Company heads aren’t allowed to compete for their racing teams,” she replied, frustration in her tone.

 “If you need someone to fill in until you find a more permanent team, I’m a pretty decent driver if I say so myself,” Mako offered.

“You can drive?” Korra asked in surprise. “How? Weren’t you and Bolin homeless? When did you get to drive a Satomobile?”

He frowned sheepishly, but his brother answered for him.

Boy, can Mako drive!” the earthbender teenager whistled. “And not just Satomobiles, but motorbikes too! When we used to do odd jobs here and there, we sometimes had to make some collections around the city.”

“…Money collections?” Korra might have still been a little green, but she knew enough to recognise when someone was up to something illegal. She looked at the firebender in question. “This was when you used to work for the Triple Threat Triad, wasn’t it? I thought you just ‘ran numbers’ for them?”

“That’s none of your business,” he said bluntly.

“Mako!” Asami snapped.

There was an awkward silence, before Bolin laughed nervously. “Sooooo, what do you say Korra? It’ll be fun!”

“That day we spent at the Future Industries test-driving track was pretty cool… Sure. It’ll be fun to spend time with you and Asami again.” The blue-eyed girl made a point of leaving Mako’s name out, slightly irritated at his outburst.

“Are you sure you’ll have time for that?” the young man in question said, sarcasm lingering on his tone. “Seeing how you were too busy in the South Pole to return a single letter.”

“I said I was sorry for that!” she shot back, slamming her chopsticks down on the table. “What do you want me to say?”

“Nothing. It just would have been nice to hear a peep from you in the past month, that’s all.”

“I know! But I was dealing with a lot of stuff, okay? Losing my bending, the Order of the White Lotus, connecting with Aang’s spirit – there was a lot going on! Not everything is about you.” Korra wanted to punch something. And right now, Mako’s face was looking pretty good.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he demanded.

Bolin and Asami observed the tense exchange nervously, while a number of people on nearby tables stole glances in their direction.

“You know what I mean. You always seem to think everything is about you,” Korra said sharply. “That time Bolin and I went out on the town – “ She shot the earthbender in question an apologetic look at this, “– you assumed I was just using him to make you jealous. And when the police were investigating Future Industries for Equalist ties, you accused me of letting jealousy over your relationship interfere with my duties. You even threatened to end our friendship over it!”

The angry look in Mako’s amber eyes faltered momentarily as guilt flashed through them.

But the Avatar was not done yet. Not by a long shot. “I mean, with everything going on at the time, you thought I was going through all that because I was jealous? And you had the audacity to give me an ultimatum? How dare you!”

Her voice rose in pitch when she said ‘an ultimatum’, as if it were an insult (which it really was). Several of the restaurant’s patrons were looking over at the commotion, but at that moment, she lacked the capacity to care. All of her pent-up frustrations at the jerk sitting across the table from her came spilling out, and she was not sure if she could stop herself anymore.

Mako's eyes hardened, and he had to resist the urge to shoot a fireball at the infuriating Avatar. “How dare you accuse me of being a bad friend! If you remember, we stopped Amon together.” He looked away and sighed. “And everything’s not always about you, Korra.”

“Look, guys – “ Bolin began.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she snapped.

Mako normally would have taken a moment to choose his next words carefully, or risk offending the Avatar in some way, but he had a very strong feeling that, in the heated moment, she honestly did not care. “While you’ve been hiding out in the South Pole, the rest of us have had a total mess of a city to come to. The revolution, uprisings, riots, the full works.”

“But you’re not the one who everyone is expecting to fix everything! I am!” she exclaimed as she stood. “You’re just a self-absorbed jerkbender!”

A hush fell over the table, and it was then that the group realised that the restaurant had fallen mostly silent – even the guqin musicians.

Korra hung her head. “I’m so sorry, Asami,” she said quietly. “I… I have to go.” With that, she swept her dress behind her and hurried for the exit.

“Nice one, bro,” Bolin said accusingly, before getting up to follow her.

Mako sighed, turning to Asami. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“You two obviously have some unresolved issues,” she said softly.

“Look, Asami, it’s not like that, alright?” he insisted, perhaps a little too forcefully.

“I believe you,” she replied, although the tone in her voice implied the opposite entirely.



“Hey, Korra! Wait up!”

The teenage girl in question turned to see Bolin rushing down the red-carpeted steps to join her in the entry hall.

“Are you okay?” he asked when he caught up.

Korra took a deep breath, trying to find herself – that fiery, feisty, tough-as-nails girl. “Yeah, I’m fine! You weren’t kidding about the food here, it’s really good! Sorry I have to leave before dessert, but I’ve got to be up early for training tomorrow.” She looked away and let out a casual laugh. “You know, an Avatar’s gotta do what an Avatar’s gotta do.”

“Korra. Talk to me.”

Bolin’s solemn tone cracked some of the Water Tribe girl’s bravado. She dropped her pasted-on smile and sighed, looking back at her friend. “It’s a good thing I’m still not in touch with my spiritual side, or I probably would have gone into the Avatar State tonight,” she stated. “Several times.”

“I’m… really sorry about Mako,” the earthbender said sheepishly. “Let me take you home.”

“No, it’s okay. I kind of want to be alone right now.”

“At least let me walk you to your polar-bear dog.”

“We took a taxi here, remember? Don’t worry, Bolin. I’ll be fine. I’ll see you later.” She hugged him briefly, before hurriedly leaving the restaurant, stubbornly holding back her tears.



AUTHOR’S NOTES:

Five points to anyone who can spot the Kung Fu Hustle reference in this chapter.

The reason I thought Mako would volunteer for the racing team is because he is obviously a good driver. Anyone who has seen the Book 2 animatics will know that he can handle himself on a motorcycle.

As always, reviews are appreciated.
« Last Edit: Jan 10, 2013 09:39 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Flipdark95
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« Reply #12 on: Jan 01, 2013 07:18 pm »

I really, really, really am loving how this is turning out!

Keep up the good work man, I'll drop a couple of reviews on FF.net!
« Last Edit: Jan 01, 2013 11:12 pm by Flipdark95 » Logged

Dare to be Badass.

Changing Elements
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Sonosublime
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« Reply #13 on: Jan 31, 2013 10:20 am »

Quote
I really, really, really am loving how this is turning out!

Keep up the good work man, I'll drop a couple of reviews on FF.net!

Many thanks!



反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 10: The Calm Before the Storm




Unlike previous days, the sky was clear and there were very few clouds in the skies over Republic City. The sun, rising over the mountains in the east, cast the ocean in a rich, deep blue tone. Seagulls squawked as they dove into the chilling waves in a bid to catch breakfast while, on the island of the Air Acolytes, sky bisons rumbled sleepily in their caves, and scores of winged lemurs chattered noisily in the trees in an early-morning chorus.

The cool and crisp air was appreciated by the orange-robed Acolytes as they performed their early duties around the island or sat in meditation, listening to the lapping of ocean waves against the rocks and watching hermit crabs scuttle along the shore. In the courtyard before the women’s dormitory, Tenzin’s young daughters stood with Korra, where they had been whisking up air-scooters for the past hour.

“Remember, first you have to form a ball, and then you have to get on real quick!” Ikki said excitedly.

She swung her arms in front of her, creating a sphere of swirling, cyclonic air. She whooped and hollered as she jumped on top of it, zipping all about the courtyard. Her childish laughter echoed across the island as she whisked straight up the side of the building.

“Race you to the air temple tower! Last one there is a rotten ostrich-horse egg!” she called over her shoulder as she disappeared across the dark-blue and gold-trimmed pagoda roof.

“Show-off,” Korra muttered.

“Remember that you have to balance on it like it’s a top,” Jinora added oh-so-helpfully.

“I know,” she said, gritting her teeth.

For the umpteenth time that morning, she conjured up an air-scooter, her hair billowing in the wind that radiated out from the extremely-localised cyclone. However, as soon as the teenager tried to mount it, she lost control of the air flow throughout the ball. This was immediately followed by her flying backward through the air, before colliding painfully with the pavement and sliding several feet.

“What is wrong with me?” she groaned in frustration, sitting up to examine the scrapes across her arms. If she was still a waterbender, she would have been able to heal them. Oh well. They’re only minor, and anyway, no pain no gain…

“Are you okay?” came Jinora’s concerned voice, as the young airbender sat down cross-legged on the pavement next to her.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied, holding both of her tanned arms out in front of her in a stretch. “Just some scratches. Nothing major.” She looked away at the creamy early-morning sky and sighed irritably.

“Korra, is there something wrong?” the orange-robed girl asked kindly. “Airbending is the most spiritual of the elements, and my father says that difficulty with it often stems from a personal or spiritual crisis.”

The young woman in question was always finding herself surprised by Jinora’s maturity and insight into any given situation. She was going to be a wonderful example to the next generation of Air Acolytes someday.

The seventeen year-old reeled her mind back to the present and put on a smile she hoped was convincing enough. “It’s nothing really.”

Jinora just adopted a frown, similar to one that her father often wore whenever he instructed the stubborn young Avatar.

Korra rolled her eyes in response and brushed her twin pigtails out of her face. “I’m just having a disagreement with one of my…” She paused for a moment, finally settling on what she hoped was still an appropriate noun, after what had happened at the restaurant last night. “…friends. That’s all.”

“Is it Mako you’re fighting with?” her young friend asked.

“We’re not fighting. We’re just having a difference of opinion.”

“Which is?”

“It’s his opinion that I need to be less self-absorbed, and it’s my opinion that he’s a jerk.” Seeing her companion’s expression at her lame explanation, Korra rolled her eyes again. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately. “It seems like all he ever does since I got back is criticise me for one thing after another – picking a fight with the triads, not writing back to him over the past few weeks – which I feel really bad about and already apologised for, but that’s still not enough for him. Ugh!”

“It just sounds like he’s worried about you,” Jinora offered.

“I know, and it’s really touching that he’s concerned and all, but he has a funny way of showing it. He thinks that, just because he’s a close friend, and because I’ve lost most of my bending, and because I still like him, and because the Equalists are still active, I’m going to sidle up to him and do whatever he tells me. Well guess what, buster, no one tells me what to do!”

Korra sighed in satisfaction, feeling better after getting all of that off her chest. She had been feeling like an overstuffed turkey-duck all morning, when it turned out that all she needed was someone to vent to. However, she then noticed the sly smile Jinora was giving her.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked, wariness creeping into her tone.

“You said that you still like him.”

“What? No I didn’t!”

“You still like Mako,” the little girl giggled. “I guess he does still drive you crazy, huh?”

Korra was mentally firebending herself to death, her eyes wide and a traitorous blush spreading across her face. Oh, Spirits, had she really just said that she still liked him?

She gritted her teeth and found herself wishing that she still had her earthbending, so she could catapult Jinora across the island and into the bay – although Tenzin and Pema would probably not appreciate that. Their oldest daughter may be all sweet and innocent on one façade, but she had another side entirely. The little imp was pushy, nosy and, at that moment, almost as infuriating as Mako.

“You know what? I really have to go use the bathroom.” The Avatar stood up and ran off toward the pagoda tower, where Ikki was no doubt still waiting.

Jinora watched her go, a mischievous smile on her face.



The morning sun was beating down over the tower at the summit of the hill, where Korra arrived to find Meelo and Ikki huddled around a stack of marbles on the pavement outside.

“There you are! Finally! You lost the race, you ostrich-horse egg!” Ikki said smugly.

“Yeah, yeah, you win,” the teenager replied, folding her arms and leaning against one of the pillars below the eaves, putting on a pout for show. “What are you two doing?”

“We’re playing marbles!” Meelo said excitedly. “Want to join us?”

“Uh, thanks, but I think I’ll just watch.”

The head-shaven young boy proceeded to levitate and spin the marble in a tight, blurred halo above his palm, before blowing on it and causing it to shoot it at the pile with impressive speed.

“…An extension of the marble trick, huh?” Korra commented, her eyebrows quirked.

The two children continued, but turned to look when she knelt down beside them.

“Oh, are you going to play with us now, Korra?” Ikki asked.

“First, I want to try something,” she replied, picking up one of the marbles from the cluster.

Thinking back to what Meelo taught her a couple of days ago, she focused on controlling the airflow above her palm until the marble was levitating and spinning, and then focused her chi on an arrow-straight path ahead. The marble responded, shooting out from her hand with great speed and striking a boulder on the far side of the courtyard. There was a resounding CRACK, and debris flew as the marble embedded itself into the rock.

“Wow!” Meelo exclaimed.

“That was amazing, Korra!” Ikki cried, clapping her hands together excitedly. “Do it again! Do it again!”

“Sure,” she replied, plucking a handful of marbles from the pile. Moments later, a blurred volley flew across the courtyard. While several flew into the adjacent bamboo garden, most of the marbles struck the boulder, cracking its face further.

“That’s so cool!” the little boy cried. “I wanna try!”

“No, Meelo.” Everyone looked to see Tenzin approaching from the pathway, a newspaper folded under one arm.

“Aww, why not?” both of his kids chorused in unison.

“Run along, children. I need to speak with Korra for a minute.”

They groaned in frustration but obeyed, bending up a pair of air-scooters and whisking themselves away, leaving their father alone with the teenage girl outside the temple.

“Is everything alright?” she asked. “Sorry about the boulder,” she added as an afterthought.

“That’s an interesting technique,” Tenzin remarked after a moment, sparing a glance toward the cracked boulder in question on the far side of the courtyard. “I’m glad to see you exercise creativity in your bending. But a move like that could seriously injure someone.”

“Are you kidding me?” she could not help but say. “Firebending creates fire.”

“The way of the Air Nomads was peaceful. You need to understand and embrace that, in order to better yourself in airbending. To understand the way of the Air Nomads is to understand airbending itself.”

Korra raised her eyebrows, but ultimately decided that it was too beautiful a day to get into another argument with her teacher. “Okay, how about using corks instead?” she compromised. “They’re a lot softer.”

“You – “ Tenzin exhaled in frustration, as he often found himself doing when trying to instruct the stubborn teenager. “You know what I meant!” After a moment, he remembered the newspaper he had tucked under his arm, and why he had come to find her in the first place. “I think you should see this.”

He held up the third page and Korra’s eyes widened in surprise.

AVATAR SIGHTED IN REPUBLIC CITY?

“What?” she exclaimed, snatching the newspaper out of his hands.

A young woman matching Avatar Korra’s description was seen last night at Kuang’s Cuisine restaurant. Witnesses say that she dined with the ‘Fabulous Bending Brothers’ of the Fire Ferrets, runners-up in the Pro-Bending Championship Tournament, along with their sponsor, Asami Sato of Future Industries. Things got out of hand when a heated argument flared up between her and the former team captain, Mako, after which she promptly left the scene.

Is this young woman really the Avatar? If so, is she back in the city to stay? And why has she not yet made a public announcement of her return?

And what of this argument between the Avatar-lookalike and the former Fire Ferret captain? There are indications that there is more than a purely professional relationship between them…


“I hate the press,” the Water Tribe woman groaned, not bothering to read the rest of the article. Seeing her mentor’s expression, she sighed. “I’m really sorry, Tenzin. I didn’t mean for things to get so out-of-hand.”

She could not believe this! She knew this would happen if she went out to that stupid restaurant, but she went anyway! And now the press was spreading rumours about her and Mako… Was it not common knowledge that he was already in a relationship with Asami?

What would the heiress think of all this? What would Mako think?

“Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Tenzin said delicately. He was aware that broaching the following subject might set the volatile young Avatar off, but it had to be asked. “Are you planning on making your presence in Republic City publically known?”

Korra was surprised. She had been expecting an earful from her master for causing a public scene. Not this. “I’m… not sure if I’m ready yet,” she said, trepidation in her tone. “Everyone is expecting the Avatar to come and solve all their problems, but I… I can’t right now. All I can give them is a half-baked Avatar who can only airbend.” The scrapes across her arms from the morning’s failed air-scooter sessions were still throbbing. “And not very well, at that.”

“Korra, this self-deprecation is not good for your spirituality,” her teacher said, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “And you have already come so far in airbending. In fact, I think that, with a bit more practice, you could be ready to learn some of the more advanced sets.”

She scoffed. “But I can’t even make an air-scooter yet.”

“I did say after a bit more practice.”

Korra smiled. “Okay, Tenzin.”

He reciprocated, remembering how he had been accosted by Ikki the other day, his youngest daughter practically begging him to allow her to teach Korra the air-scooter. The very same technique that Aang himself had invented to earn his master airbender tattoos. It would have warmed his father’s heart to see his granddaughters teaching his own technique to the next incarnation in the Avatar cycle.

Life truly was a beautiful thing.

He hesitated for a moment, tucking the newspaper back under his arm, before bringing up the next topic which was troubling him. “Do you want to talk about what happened with Mako?”

Korra’s smile immediately faded, and she suddenly found watching a pair of winged lemurs, foraging for food on the ground nearby, much more appealing. “No… thanks. I’d really rather not talk about it. Ever.”

“Very well, but I’m always here if you want to talk.” He fell into a contemplative silence for a moment, before speaking up again. “There’s something else I wanted to talk to you about. I will be delivering an address to the anti-bending movement later on today. I think you should be there too.”

The Water Tribe girl was about to about to voice her uncertainty, but then recalled what she had seen in the past two days. She was living in a city in strife, and it was her responsibility to help resolve these problems.

“Yeah. You’re right. I should be there,” she said, sounding a lot braver than she felt.
« Last Edit: Feb 12, 2013 09:58 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
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« Reply #14 on: Jan 31, 2013 10:22 am »

Chapter 10 - (con)



* * *

The late-morning sun shone through the windows, the beams of light showing flickering white specks of dust drifting in the air in the barebones apartment of the ‘Fabulous Bending Brothers’. The Dragon Flats borough was never a particularly lively place, but the sun shining through the clouds somehow cast the streets outside the apartment complex in a cheerful light.

However, one of the residents was in a foul mood despite the weather, and it only worsened the longer he read a particular newspaper article. “I hate the press,” he finally muttered, scowling as he threw the paper down on the coffee-table.

“Let me see that, Mako,” his younger brother said, snatching the newspaper away before the firebender could torch it. “‘Avatar sighted in Republic City’? Oh, man…”

As Bolin continued to read the article, Mako settled back into the worn orange couch, propped his feet up on the coffee-table and sighed. It was a nice change of pace to see nothing in the paper about escalating violence and rioting throughout the city (how much worse could it get, really?), but this sensationalist article was hardly an improvement.

What would Korra think of all this? What would Asami think?

Their relationship had been on rocky ground for several weeks now, but he really wanted to make things work. After everything she had sacrificed, even her relationship with her father, to protect him and his little brother, he at least owed her that.

“This newspaper article goes on and on about the ‘former Fire Ferret captain’, but makes no mention of the new captain,” Bolin whined. “What am I, chopped liver?”

Mako did bother to answer, but his mind was a whirlwind of thoughts around that stupid article. Korra had been trying to keep a low profile – that much was clear – but it seemed that the people of Republic City wanted their Avatar back, whether she ready for it or not.

The brooding firebender always felt guilty about leaving her behind in the South Pole when she had entered the Avatar State, but secretly, he had also been scared. He was the one who found her, high up on those icy cliffs overlooking the Antarctic ocean…

And what he had seen… scared him.

For as long as Mako had been friends with her, he had known that Korra was the Avatar. However, he often found it hard to believe that the cocky, self-assured and socially-awkward teenager could really be a goddess of sorts.

But that… that thing – with the glowing eyes… Was it really her?

Mako could scarcely believe it, but he was frightened by her, and what he had seen…

His train of thought was interrupted by the annoyingly high-pitched buzzing of a mosquito-fly near his head. He lit a flame in the palm of his hand, incinerating the pesky insect.

“Whoa!” Bolin exclaimed next to him. “A little warning next time, please? You nearly burned my eyebrows off!”

“Sorry,” the young man muttered in response, sauntering over to the kitchenette and grabbing a leftover lotus seed bau from the icebox.

As he heated the fluffy bun up with his firebending, he mentally prepared himself for another day-long gruelling shift at the power-plant ahead of him. Aside from the occasional date with Asami, work seemed to be the only thing in his life nowadays. With the pro-bending season over for the year, he was finding it difficult to keep up with the rent. The damned icebox alone was costing them twenty yuans every time they had to call the maintenance waterbender, who lived in the apartment complex, to come and refreeze the water in it. He needed to find a new way to make money.

“See, now was that so hard?” Bolin’s voice cut into his thoughts. “Saying that you’re sorry?”

His frown deepened. “What are you talking about?”

The earthbender set the newspaper carefully down and stared back at him expectantly. “Are you trying to drive a wedge between yourself and Korra or something? Because it seems like all you’ve done ever since she got back is chew her out for one thing or another.”

“That’s none of your business, Bo,” he shot back.

The stocky boy stood, his green eyes flashing angrily. “It is my business, because she’s our friend, and I don’t like the way you’re treating her!”

His pet fire ferret screeched in surprise at the outburst and scurried away into the corner of the room. A short silence fell over the apartment as the two brothers stared each other down, amber eyes blazing into green ones. But something made Mako back down, and he finally shifted his gaze away, sighing.

“You’re right… I’ve just been so stressed at work lately and – “

“Don’t tell me this. Tell Korra,” his younger brother interrupted. “You need to go talk to her, bro. You really upset her. Keep things going the way they are and she won’t even see you as a friend anymore.”



Later on that day, the afternoon sun shone over Air Temple Island, prompting the native bisons to retire to their caves to escape the sparkling glare of the ocean. Tenzin’s mount, however, waited faithfully outside the temple, ready to fly across Yue Bay. Korra climbed onto Oogi’s back to join Tenzin, disguised in her hat, scarf and trench-coat. Beneath the coat, two small pouches hung from her fur pelt – one filled with corks and the other with marbles.

Just in case, she told herself.

Fifty minutes later, she was on the front steps of City Hall, standing discreetly next to a group of police officers. Chief Saikhan had been made aware of the fact that she was back in the city, courtesy of Beifong, although he was not too happy about it. The paved and grassed plaza before the building was packed with protestors, some of them waving placards, and all of them crying out for equality.

Tenzin stood next to the podium, while the non-bender minister Daio spoke into the microphone, with the composed stature of someone who believed he was the best thing to happen to the United Republic since the Harmony Restoration Movement.

“You can rest assured of the fact that we are aware of the injustices that exist throughout our society,” he said, his clear voice ringing across the plaza. “The Provisional Government is working to address these issues now, and I will personally see to it that this city – and the entire country – sees reform. All we ask of you is patience.”

“Equality now! Equality now!” some of the mass were yelling.

“How long do you expect us to wait?” another shouted.

Korra looked out over the crowd in sorrow, feeling torn between the two sides of the battle. Benders and non-benders alike, they were all her people. Was she caught on the wrong side in this conflict, acting as an oppressor? After all, equality for everyone would bring balance. But Republic City was Avatar Aang’s vision for peace and balance in the world. Was it not her responsibility to help the Provisional Government maintain order?

Her train of thought was cast aside when, at that moment, she saw a terrifyingly-familiar sight – several members of the crowd pulled up black hoods and face-masks with crimson dots in the centre.

There are Equalists in the crowd, she realised in horror. “Look out!” she screamed, running forward.

At that moment, a bomb hidden just outside the main entrance to City Hall exploded.
« Last Edit: Jan 31, 2013 10:41 am by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #15 on: Feb 12, 2013 09:54 am »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 11: The Avatar Returns: Part I




Light. Noise. Smoke.

Those were the three main things that took the forefront of everyone’s mind as a bomb exploded outside City Hall, just below the front steps.

Screams. Searing heat.

A rumbling seemed to reverberate throughout the very earth as one of the pillars on the main steps crumbled, causing the roof above the entrance to teeter precariously –

“Look out!” one of the police officers shouted, taking up a squat earthbending stance.

KROOM!

A jutting finger of rock shot up out of the ground below the smoke, acting as a makeshift pillar to hold up the structure.

Korra lifted her head from where she had been thrown face-first to the ground by the force of the blast. Her lower legs were covered in rubble, but luckily not buried. She experimented with movement in her limbs, relieved to discover that she was not injured. Sparing a glance around, she saw that Tenzin and a few others had suffered minor injuries, but were otherwise okay. The ones closest to where the bomb exploded had been police officers and, fortunately, they had metalbent their armour to shield themselves from flying debris.

“Are you okay, miss?” a voice asked above her.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she cried, climbing to her feet. “Go help the others!”

The policeman nodded and ran off. Korra took a moment to survey the scene unfolding before City Hall. The crowd was in chaos. Most of the Equalists were wearing black hoods and face-masks. Others, however, were not, making it that much harder to distinguish friend from foe. Electricity sparked in the air as they engaged the police force, shocking them unconscious through their armour with electrified gauntlets.

Much of the panicked crowd was fleeing across the plaza toward the side streets. However, they screamed in terror and turned back when two more bombs exploded, one after another, in separate streets – these ones hidden inside Satomobiles parked by the side of the roads.

They’re driving the crowd back toward City Hall, Korra realised. They’re keeping people from leaving.

“Avatar Korra!” a gruff voice shouted. She looked over to see Chief Saikhan urgently beckoning her over to where him, Tenzin and Daio were taking shelter by the shattered entrance to City Hall.

“The Equalists have planted bombs in the side streets,” she said breathlessly when she ran over.

“We figured as much,” he replied. “Sorry, Avatar, but I must ask you to compromise your disguise. My officers are occupied dealing with the rebels disguised in the crowd. This place is a battlefield, and I need you to keep the south street clear and escort the civilians out.”

“What about you?” she addressed Tenzin. “Can you escape through City Hall?”

“This entrance has been blocked by rubble, and it’s too unstable to clear it with earthbending,” the monk replied, brushing soot from his face.

“Don’t worry about them,” Saikhan said. “They’re stuck here for now, but I’ll personally protect them. Now get moving!”

Korra nodded, darting away down the steps and across the paved area, toward the main street on the south end of the public square.  Chaos was all around her as she ran. She took pause when she noticed a pair of Equalists shock two police officers into submission, and then draw knives from their belts.

So much for peace, she thought in disgust.

She channelled her chi and blew both attackers away with a cyclonic gust of wind. Sensing danger behind her, she turned to see three more hooded people charging for her.

“Is… Is that the Avatar?” one of them asked nervously as the girl before them cast aside her trench-coat, revealing blue Water Tribe clothing underneath.

“Yeah, it has to be her,” one of his compatriots answered, charging his glove as they ran.

“What’s she doing here? And how in the name of Koh’s hat organiser can she still airbend?”

“Forget about it! Let’s just get her!”

Korra threw aside her hat and trench-coat and turned to face the three assailants. Her left hand shot down to one of the pouches hanging from her fur pelt. She raised her palm and focused her chi. A moment later, three corks shot out from her hand, striking the attackers in the head. They cried out and tumbled to the ground, unconscious.



“I think we can all agree that our Equalist friends pulled this little stunt to get to you two,” Saikhan grunted at Tenzin and Daio, both of whom nodded wordlessly.

“Over there!” the non-bending minister shouted hoarsely, pointing to two hooded individuals racing up the steps toward them.

The Chief of Police wasted no time, his call to action marked by the hiss of metal cords snaking through the air. The pair of Equalists shouted in panic as they were ensnared, bashed together and then thrown aside in a single fluid movement. A funnel of wind blew past him, as Tenzin sent a third chi-blocker flying clear across the garden and into a cluster of hedges.

“A-Above you!” came Daio’s panicked voice.

Saikhan whirled to see another attacker perched on the windowsill directly above them. He promptly lashed out with one of his wrist-whips and unceremoniously dragged the man down to ground level. He ripped the hood off the rebel’s head and slammed him up against the outer stone wall of City Hall, one hand around his neck.

“Why are you keeping the crowd from leaving?” he growled, his face contorted in anger.

The man stared back defiantly, remaining silent. The police chief promptly raised a fist and punched him out.



Screams and cries of panic rent the air as people raced to and fro, desperately trying to get clear of the fighting. Korra was panting from exhaustion by the time she reached the street at the southern side, her foray across the plaza constantly hampered by Equalists and panicked civilians.

“Everyone, this way!” she shouted. She waved her arms and airbent a flurry of fallen leaves into the sky in an effort to get peoples’ attention. Recognition appeared on many faces.

“Is that the Avatar?”

“What’s she doing here?”

“Come on, everyone! This way!” Korra repeated loudly. “Come through this street!”

However, as soon as the crowd began their exodus from the area under her guidance, Equalist supporters descended upon them. The Water Tribe girl slammed a pair of attackers into the side of a building with a pulse of airbending. She ducked under a kick from another rebel, who had snuck up on her, before delivering a punch that could well have broken his nose.

The hiss of metal cords marked the entrance of more police officers, as they descended into the street from the rooftops above. They took up strategic positions on corners and in alleyways to help the Avatar protect the fleeing public.

“Korra!” a voice called out. She turned to see a familiar, and very welcome, figure running toward her, decked out in task-force protective armour, and armed with a chi-blocker glove. Three police officers were accompanying her.

“Beifong!” she cried happily.

“Have you seen any more suspicious activity in this street?” Lin asked, no time to be wasted on pleasantries.

“Uh, no, not yet.”

“Stay on your guard. The Equalists might try to set off more bombs here.” The middle-aged woman signalled for her three cohorts to continue on ahead toward City Hall.

Her prediction proved correct. Fortunately, the contingent of police officers spotted, and managed to stop, a handful of rebels who tried to detonate more bombs hidden in stores along the street. The paper screens of several front windows were peppered with holes and tears as metal cables shot through them.

For her part, Lin Beifong moved like a hurricane and struck like a force of nature. She paced forward through the street, her face stony and grim, shocking straggling Equalists unconscious with her electrified glove. It was almost as if she had never lost her earthbending, so effective was her fighting style. She bobbed and weaved, ducked blows, and left not a single capacitated opponent in her wake.

“Beifong, look out!”

A gust of air swept past her face, mussing her bobbed dark hair, and she looked to see a chi-blocker soaring through the air and crashing into the side of an abandoned Satomobile in the middle of the road. She shot a smile at Korra, her palm still open from the pulse of airbending.

“Nice timing, kid.”

As it turned out, the remaining Equalists had been subdued by the police. The civilians were evacuated from the area, and ambulances began to arrive to cart the wounded to hospital. For their part, fifteen captured chi-blockers, a mixture of men and women, waited in the plaza to be transported to the Police Headquarters, de-hooded and with their hands bound behind their backs with steel wire.

As Lin and Korra were passing by them to return to City Hall, one of them, a young woman with brown hair done up in a long braid, turned and spat bitterly at their feet. She could not have been much older than Korra. It occurred to her that she had never been to visit any imprisoned Equalists, or even tried to talk to them. Was this part of the reason why they regarded her with such anger?

“Please listen to me,” she started, causing everyone in the immediate area – police officers and Equalists alike – to look at her in surprise. “All of this fighting has thrown the city out of balance. But if we work together, I know we can have peace again.”

“Balance?” the offending chi-blocker scoffed, her eyes blazing with hostility. “Your idea of ‘balance’ is having the bending elite lord their powers over the rest of us.”

“Yeah!” a black-haired man next to her shouted, straining against his bonds. “The revolution began because we wanted change, and it won’t stop until our voices are heard!”

“But your voices have been heard!” Korra cried over the growing sounds of discontent among the revolutionaries. “Before the revolution… I was not listening hard enough.” Humility crept into her tone. “I was not doing a very good job of serving as your Avatar, and for that, I am sorry.”

Although most of the chi-blockers continued to shout obnoxiously, several of them quietened, surprise evident on their faces.

“I promise you that I’ll do everything I can to end this conflict,” Korra continued, looking pointedly at everyone present. “I know we can all get Republic City back on the right path, and begin a new era of peace.”

All she got in response were jeers and scowls from the more vocal Equalists, while others looked down at their feet, refusing to meet her gaze. Seeing many of the police officers giving a similar reaction caused disappointment to flare up inside her.

It was then that she noticed Tenzin standing at the smouldering front steps of City Hall, beckoning her over.

“I don’t know why you’re bothering,” Lin said briskly as they walked over to join him. “These people have convinced themselves that the government is evil, and they’ll stop at nothing until there is chaos in the very streets.” She did not bother to vocally announce how naïve the young Avatar was being. Hopefully her tone would make that clear enough. She had been dealing with the riots, public threats and the climate of fear being bred from the terrorist faction for the past few weeks, which was only getting worse since Amon’s downfall. It was all but total war in the streets.

“I still think there is a chance for peace between benders and non-benders,” the girl said stubbornly.

“Hmph. I hope you’re right.” The Beifong heiress turned back toward the crowd as police vans began to arrive on the scene. “I have to oversee their transportation to HQ. I’m sure I’ll see you again.” A light smile of approval appeared on her face. “You did good out there today.”

“Thanks, Ms Beifong. I’ll see you around.” She started to leave, but, as an afterthought, turned back. “Make sure the Equalists are treated well.”

Several of the bound chi-blockers exchanged glances with each other when they heard this.

“The Avatar is right,” Tenzin’s voice rang out as he came to stand beside her. “These people are entitled to due process under the law.”

“Oh, we’ll treat them right,” one of the police officers snorted as he opened the rear doors of one of the police vans. “We’ll treat them better than the Equalists ever treated any benders that they took prisoner.”

“Hypocrisy at its finest,” the nearest chi-blocker snarled as two officers grabbed his arms and hustled him toward the van. “Your corrupt Council was detaining innocent people indefinitely, and you call us tyrants?”

Arguments broke out, but Tenzin grabbed Korra’s shoulder and guided her away before she could get involved. “I must admit… I’m rather surprised by what you just said.”

“Why?” she asked, stopping to face him.

He smiled warmly at her. “Don’t take what I said the wrong way. Fighting was never my father’s strong suit, and he would have been proud to see you making such an effort to understand his philosophy. Avatar Aang tried to avoid violence wherever possible, and helped people in different ways.”

Korra gazed around the plaza. Smoke billowed in the air – yet another scene of violence in a war-torn city. The man was right – if she wanted to stop the fighting, she needed to solve the issue with words rather than more violence.

She took a deep breath. “Tenzin, please organise a press conference for tomorrow morning.”

He looked at her in surprise. “For what, exactly?”

“…I’m going to give the people their hope for balance back,” she finally said, after a measured silence. “I’m going to reveal myself, and officially announce my return to Republic City.”
Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #16 on: Mar 05, 2013 09:57 am »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 12: The Avatar Returns: Part II




Winter was approaching its end in the United Republic of Nations. However, in contrast to the sunny weather of the previous day, the pale morning sky was pockmarked with grey and white clouds. The small amount of winter snow which had fallen had long been reduced to a grimy slush beneath the repetitions of shoes and Satomobile tyres.

Despite the decisive chill in the air, a large crowd was gathered before City Hall, chattering excitedly. They had all heard the rumours that the Avatar had returned, and was about to give a press conference in the next few minutes.

Questions were abound. Did she really defeat Amon? Where had she been all this time? What was she going to do about the Equalist and triad uprisings? Reporters and journalists readied their pens, notepads and flash-bulb cameras in eager anticipation.

The main entrance to City Hall was still heavily damaged from the Equalist attack the previous day, but its doors had finally been cleared of the rubble. The young Avatar stood inside the foyer, fretting on the top landing of a large and ornate staircase which led to the upper levels of the building. It was the same staircase where Tarrlok had thrown her to the wolves at the gala he was holding “in her honour”, and had the press bully her into joining his task-force against the Equalists.

Only this time, she was ready for what was waiting for her at the bottom of those steps.

She made no attempt to hide her identity with a trench-coat and hat, and was instead dressed in her regular Water Tribe clothes. Her hair was done up in its usual style with the wolf-tail and twin pigtails. No more disguises.

No more hiding.

“Five minutes until the press conference, Avatar Korra,” came the nasally voice of the primly-dressed council page, his short and whiting hair hidden beneath a tall hat.

She nodded in thanks, and the wiry public servant brought his palms together in a servile gesture, spectacles sliding down his nose, before moving off. Nobody knew how he had managed to retain the title of ‘Council Page’, given that the United Republic Council had been dissolved, but everyone figured that they had more important matters to worry about right now.

“Is everything alright, Korra?”

The seventeen year-old turned to see Tenzin climbing the stairs to join her on the landing. She flashed him the most confident smile she could muster, given that her stomach was twisted up like a knot, and she was practically bouncing on the balls of her feet in anxiety.

She was going to make her first public statement since the revolution. And not as an airbender, but as the Avatar.

“I’m fine,” she tried to assure him.

“Are you nervous?”

She took a breath to try and calm her racing nerves. “A bit, I guess.”

“Don’t be,” Tenzin said warmly. “I’ll be here to support you every step of the way.”

Korra appreciated her teacher’s gesture. Despite how unprepared she felt about what was to come, she knew there was no other alternative. She was the Avatar. She never stopped being the Avatar, even after Amon had taken her bending away. Korra knew her duties to the world, and correcting the imbalance in Republic City was one of them. This city, and all of its problems, was her responsibility.

“One minute until the press conference, Avatar Korra.”

She took a deep breath and made her way down the stairs to where the council page was waiting for them. The doors were opened out onto the front steps of City Hall, the din of the crowd gathered in the plaza outside drifting through them.

Tenzin offered her an encouraging smile, although he was wary of what she was getting herself into. The Equalists were out for blood, and doing this would only make Korra a target again. She was about to re-enter a political whirlpool of cunning, conniving and scheming, and would have to contend with the separate agendas of the Provisional Government and its ministers, and the war that threatened to tear Republic City apart.

He remembered the idealistic and naïve young woman who had turned up on his doorstep from the Southern Water Tribe several months ago, only to see her manipulated and attacked by Tarrlock, Amon, the Equalists and the very people she had sworn to protect. He knew she was wiser now, but there was still so much innocence about her, and he was worried that she would lose herself.

Tenzin swore to himself that he would be by her side through all of this. He would protect her.



Beams of light streamed through the windows into the brothers’ apartment as the sun peaked out from behind the pall of clouds that hung in the sky. A chorus of trumpets and clarinets blared out from the speaker of the radio sitting on the coffee-table, while Bolin clattered about in the cramped kitchenette.

“Come on, Mako!” he called. “Breakfast is ready!”

“In a minute!” his brother’s voice called from behind the bathroom door.

The stocky earthbender shrugged, picked up his plate and made his way over to the sofa. As he bit into a pumpkin bau, savouring the sweet taste of its orange filling, he pondered what he could do for the day.

The Pro-Bending Arena was still closed for repairs, and job hunting was as abysmal as it had been in the past few weeks. With all the chaos within the city, it was no wonder the job market was slow, and shop owners reluctant to hire new staff. Mako assured him that it was fine – that he was pulling enough shifts at the power-plant to cover the rent – but that did nothing to lessen Bolin’s guilt. He wanted to pull his weight.

“What do you say, Pabu?” he said, feeding bits of bau to the red striped ferret. “You reckon if we pull off some fancier street tricks, we could make some more money?”

The furry animal chirped in response, before curling up in the boy’s lap and falling asleep.

“Okay, you get your beauty rest, and then it’s practise time. No excuses.”

It was not just the money problem which had him worried. In the past two weeks, the Dragon Flats borough had become the site of the latest turf war between the Agni Kai and Triple Threat triads. Despite a heavier police presence on the streets, scuffles and skirmishes often broke out between triad benders in the back alleys and grimy corners of the neighbourhood as the firebending triad pushed to oust the other gang.

Violence and territorial wars were cropping up all over the city between the Triple Threats and the other two major crime syndicates, only adding to the chaos as the police and the United Forces battled the Equalists.

The worst attack he had witnessed was only in the previous week, when he had been walking home to see a group of men in the street outside an apartment complex. All of them had been dressed in identical black clothes, face-masks, hoods and straw conical hats. All were lined up in front of the building, spaced evenly apart. When they settled into firebending stances, Bolin’s eyes widened when he realised what was happening. But before he could do anything, the entire building erupted into flames, and the Agni Kai firebenders vanished into the twilight like wraiths. Fortunately for the residents, the apartment building was right next to the canal, and the waterbenders of the Fire Department had responded quickly.

The green-eyed teen sighed and settled back into the couch, feeling the rough fabric through his dirty white vest. Of all the work he and his brother had done for the triads in the past, they had never gotten involved in turf wars. He felt shame when he remembered being desperate enough to follow Shady Shin back to the Triple Threat headquarters all those months ago for a job. Perhaps getting kidnapped by the Equalists had been a blessing in disguise – he certainly had no further thoughts of going back to the triads after that night.

The bathroom door finally opened, and Mako nodded at him as he came out. Things had been slightly awkward between the two brothers ever since the incident with Korra and Asami at the restaurant. But a hot breakfast was at stake, so Bolin swallowed his pride and held up the cold turkey-duck skewer left on his plate with a pleading look. His older brother smirked as he took it, holding it over a flame he nursed in his palm.

“There you go,” he said, handing it back.

“Thanks,” Bolin said eagerly, biting into the meat and getting up to put his plate in the sink. “You got work today?”

“In the afternoon.”

“Oh, that’s good. You have time, then.” Seeing his brother’s questioning look, the earthbender teen continued, “I was thinking of going to see Korra at the island today. It’d be a perfect time for you to come and apologise.”

“Bolin…” Mako frowned, pinching his nose irritably. “I’ll go see her. Just… stop pestering me, alright?”

The younger man opened his mouth to reply, but paused when he noticed what was being said on the radio.

“…is here to deliver her first public address since Amon’s downfall,” a man’s voice was saying. “Please welcome the Avatar.”

Speak of the devil…

The sound of roaring cheers could be heard through the speaker, before someone spoke over the cacophony of noise.

“Hello, Republic City,” came the nervous flutters of a very familiar voice over the radio, her tone clear but unsure. “I am… Avatar Korra.”
Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
Sonosublime
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #17 on: Jun 15, 2013 10:14 pm »

反射

Book 1.5: Reflections

Chapter 13: The Avatar Returns: Part III




In the early morning, the bare apartment in the Dragon Flats borough was enveloped in silence, aside from a familiar voice that issued from the radio, her tone wavering with uncertainty.

"Hello, Republic City. I am… Avatar Korra."

There was a clatter as Bolin dropped something in the kitchenette. Mako's eyes widened and he lunged for the volume dial, turning the radio all the way up.

"I know a lot of people have been wondering where I am. All I can say is that I have had some personal issues to deal with. But I look forward to serving as your Avatar once again."

He gazed out the window, across low-rise buildings in the general direction of the city centre. No doubt there was a huge crowd gathered there. No wonder Korra sounded so unsure of herself. But her voice grew steadier as she went on.

"Republic City has fallen out of balance, with a war that threatens to leave this city – and possibly the entire country – scarred and divided. Many of you believe it's because we can't coexist with our neighbours anymore."

Mako listened intently and nodded in agreement. It was common knowledge that, in the aftermath of the Equalist Revolution, benders and non-benders throughout the city were uncomfortable living next to each other. Clear divisions were making themselves known, with some neighbourhoods almost entirely populated with one or the other. The Dragon Flats borough was one of these districts, with a vast majority of its population being non-benders. Mako and his brother often received dirty looks in the streets, as though people thought they were just as bad as the bending triads fighting in the streets.

"I am sorry for not being here for you when you needed me most," Korra continued the press conference, sounding humbled and apologetic. "But this city is my responsibility, and I will not rest until we enter a new era of peace and prosperity."

"This girl is crazy," the firebender muttered.

He had seen firsthand what the Equalists were capable of in the past few weeks. Their attack on City Hall the previous day was hardly their boldest move, and despite what the police were saying, everyone knew the rebels still held a vast portion of the network of tunnels beneath the city.

Korra was only making herself a target again, and he was worried.



Beneath a grey and blue sky, the young Avatar stood behind the podium as she looked out across the crowd in the plaza before City Hall. The people had, for the most part, been silent as she spoke, although she was still being blinded by the intermittent flashes of cameras. Korra glanced sideways at Tenzin, standing off to the side, who gave her a nod and reassured her to continue.

"In a world of hate and violence, we cannot grow," she said, her microphone-amplified voice ringing across the public square. "Standing united is the only future to success – a success I want this city to be a part of."

"The Avatar is back!" a man near the front steps suddenly shouted, glee in his voice. "She will help us rid the city of the Equalists!"

A chorus of cheers rose up at his words.

Korra was shocked, and looked at the man who had spoken. "Please, don't say things like that. I'm not here to 'get rid' of anyone – "

"Amon took my bending away!" he interrupted. "But I don't need it to pay the Equalists back for what they did to us!"

"Yeah!" another cried. "Those terrorist scumbags will wish they'd never been born!"

"No! Please, listen to me – "

However, Korra's voice was drowned out by the shouts of the crowd. She was shocked by what had been said. She knew that people had been looking to her as a beacon of hope, particularly those who had lost their bending to Amon. But now she was expected to threaten violence to anyone who associated themselves with the Equalists?

It was a police state waiting to happen.

Even Tenzin looked stunned.

"Look," she said after a moment, causing the stir in the crowd to quieten down. "Avatar Aang had a dream to found a city that was peaceful and prosperous – one to which the other nations could look for an example. Fighting in the streets is not the answer to our problems. We are all one people, and I know we can work together to restore our city to its former glory." The growing sounds of discontent throughout the crowd unnerved her, but she steeled her resolve. "Please help me, but not with more violence. Thank you."

Her departure from the podium was immediately met with a renewed and dazzling array of flashes from cameras and cacophony of noise, amidst a bombardment of questions hurled by reporters.

"Avatar Korra! What personal issues were you referring to? Will they affect your ability to perform your duty to this city?"

"Excuse me, Avatar! Will you be fighting increasing crime rates and the triad uprising?"

"Avatar! What do you have to say about the rumours that you yourself have had your bending taken away by Amon?"

However, she was quickly guided away into City Hall by a group of police officers. As she crossed the entry foyer with Tenzin toward the ornate staircase, their footsteps echoing across the cavernous room, a voice rang out from the entrance.

"Tenzin. A word, if I may."

The Avatar and her airbender teacher turned to see an elderly and balding man with a short white beard standing there, his large figure shrouded in a regal green, white and yellow tunic.

"Korra, I'd like you to meet Minister Oma," the monk introduced as they crossed the hall to him.

"It is an honour to welcome you back to Republic City," the old man said, he and the teenager bowing respectfully to each other. "I, and the rest of the Provisional Government, offer our heartfelt thanks to you for your help against the Equalists yesterday."

"Oh! Um, thanks…"

"It's my pleasure, and I look forward to working with you," Oma said pleasantly, before his tone abruptly changed. "So, I have sources that say you lost your bending to Amon. Is this true?"

Korra was taken aback by the blunt question. "Well, uh…"

"Where did you hear this from?" Tenzin cut in, his hushed voice echoing across the room. He stole a glance toward a contingent of police officers walking past them, but none of the metalbenders gave any indication to have heard anything.

The Earth Kingdom diplomat laughed good-naturedly. "Why, Tenzin, you should know by now that nothing happens in this city without my knowing about it." He adjusted his monocle as he returned his piercing gaze back to the young Avatar before him. "So it's true then? You've lost your bending?"

"No, she hasn't," the monk cut in firmly. "She can still airbend."

"Hm," his colleague mused, scratching his short white beard thoughtfully. "Well, it's good to hear that our Avatar isn't completely handicapped, then."

Korra winced at his callous words.

"Although I wonder how this… development will affect her ability to perform her duties for the city."

"Being the Avatar is about more than bending all the elements," Tenzin said sharply. "She is the reincarnation of the Avatar spirit, the great bridge between the natural and spirit worlds, and the keeper of balance." He found his mood quickly souring the longer this conversation went on. How dare this man accuse Korra of being anything less, after everything she had done for the city?

Oma waved a hand dismissively. "All very good points, Tenzin, and I agree with you fully." His tone grew grave. "But with what has happened, all we have here now is an airbender with a fancy title. I doubt she will have much of an influence on events here, beyond being a figurehead now."

Korra, who had, up until that point, remained quiet, quickly found her anger boiling over. She already had a volatile temper as it was, and hearing this guy talk about her dismissively, like she was not even there, was wreaking havoc on her self-control.

"Just because I can only airbend does not mean that I am no longer the Avatar!" she snapped, startling the two men. "No matter how many elements I can bend – whether I'm a non-bending Avatar or not – I'm going to do what I can for this city!"

Oma raised his hands in a placating manner, taking a step backward in lieu of being directly in the way of her wrath. "Now, now, Avatar Korra, I meant no offence. But the fact that you can no longer bend all the elements could have consequences for your credibility in civil matters. What you are suggesting is essentially redefining what your title stands for."

He said these words in an effort to make the wild and volatile teenager see reason, but a spark appeared in her turquoise eyes.

"And isn't it time for my title to be redefined?" she asked quietly, her voice low and determined. "The world has changed. The Avatar should change with it."

With that, she turned on her heel and marched away up the stairs. Tenzin gave him an awkward nod before following her, leaving the elderly man alone in the foyer, aside from the occasional police officer, public servants and general passersby.

"A non-bending Avatar…" he mused thoughtfully. "How interesting…"



The next few days were a whirlwind of activity for the young Avatar. Meetings with officials, press conferences, public addresses over the radio. All of this on top of airbending training, early in the morning and late in the evening.

On the third day since the incident outside City Hall, she managed to convince Tenzin to allow her to make peacekeeping visits to a number of districts of the city that were still under Equalist control. Their bases were hidden underground, but the revolutionaries were out there, most likely watching her from darkened windows with binoculars. It was in these boroughs that Korra reached out to the Equalists (deliberately provoking them, some would say), her microphone-amplified voice calling for hostilities throughout the city to cease, and for benders and non-benders to come together.

However, no Equalists ever approached the temporary podiums to accept her offers of peace. In fact, one of her visits brought her to an outer borough of the city – a grim industrial sector, where the highest concentration of known Equalist supporters lived amidst smoggy factories. There, the only responses the Avatar received were jeers from the crowd that had gathered before the podium. A few men and women – turning out to be Equalists dressed in plain clothes – had thrown electrified bolas in her direction, and her escort of metalbending police officers had been forced to act, making several arrests.

Disappointment flared up inside her. Benders wanted her to violently quell all opposition, while the Equalists were rejecting her appeals for peace.

Aang, I need your wisdom…

It was later on that evening, sitting at the edge of a cliff on Air Temple Island where she often came to think, that she found herself calling out to him. The lonely place gave her a beautiful view of Aang Memorial Island, standing watch over the bay. The golden lights of the city glowed in the distance, and the darkened indigo sky was streaked with crimson and pink clouds.

Of course, Aang remained silent.

Trails of tears ran from her eyes as she gazed out across the dark water at the statue. Despite everything she was doing, she was not bringing balance to the city – things were getting worse. Maybe Oma was right. Maybe she had lost all credibility as the Avatar.

Later on, before collapsing onto her bed in sheer exhaustion, Korra vaguely remembered Ikki mentioning that Bolin and Mako had both come by the island (independently of each other) looking for her, but she had missed both of them. However, she fell asleep too quickly to dwell much on it.



The following day, the young Avatar was addressing yet another crowd before City Hall, its main entrance still held up by the makeshift pillar of earthbending. Korra had heard that the police officer responsible had received a medal of bravery for his actions, but that was neither here nor there.

"I know that we can bring this battle for Republic City to a peaceful resolution," she was saying. "We are all one people, and it's time we started acting like it."

"What a load of garbage!" a protester suddenly shouted. "If you're back, then it only means you're here to impose your ideals over non-benders again!"

A considerable size of protestors around him began to scream out abuse. Benders in turn hurled insults back, and it seemed as though another riot was at hand. Police officers converged on the instigator –

"Wait!"

Everyone froze, and turned to look at the podium.

"Don't arrest him," Korra said firmly. "He is entitled to the freedom of speech, as it was stated by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko, during the Harmony Restoration Movement."

The police relented, looking uneasy, while the protestor eyed her with suspicion.

"I'm not here to impose my ideals on anyone," she said, addressing him directly. "I'm your Avatar, too. The Equalists drone on and on, that doesn't make equality! Equality is not making everyone the same. It's accepting everyone who's different. They're asking for people to leave behind their heritage and their ancestors, to make them forget where they came from and why they're here."

There was a murmur throughout the crowd, as people harbouring anti-bending sentiments appeared to be considering her words. Korra was just glad to have removed the fire and oil from a volatile situation.

"Look," she continued, hoping to appeal to everyone present. "Benders and non-benders have coexisted for thousands of years. Allowing this war to escalate could lead to a conflict worse than the Hundred Year War. No one will be safe."

Silence reigned throughout the plaza as everyone – benders and non-benders alike – took in her words with bated breath. Perhaps the anti-bending movement could be appealed to. She sure hoped the Equalists were listening too.

"This is the United Republic of Nations, a place where everyone from all over the world – no matter who you are or where you come from – can live and thrive together, in peace and harmony. We have the power to make this dream a reality, but only together."

Korra stepped down from the podium, signalling the end of press-conference. As the reporters bombarded her with questions, she spared a glance at Tenzin to see him smile encouragingly at her, and nod in approval.



Later on that evening, Korra was practising her airbending forms in the darkened courtyard outside the White Lotus quarters on Air Temple Island, a warm yellow glow emanating from the windows. A radio-set sat on the banister of the front balcony, blaring out the 'Music Hour', when the volume was suddenly muted. The young woman turned in surprise to see her mentor standing behind her.

"Tenzin! Uh, hey. What's up?"

"I just wanted to let you know how well you've handled your responsibilities in the past few days," he said, his eyes shining with pride. "You have matured spiritually and mentally. The way you handled that protestor today only proved how much you've grown. I am so proud of you… Avatar Korra."

Hearing him address her by her full title, for the first time ever, sounded strange, to say the least. But her spirit rose with the words spoken. "Thanks, Tenzin. I couldn't have done it without you."

He smiled warmly at her and switched the radio back on before turning to leave. However, hissing static, as the radio signal was hijacked, drew their attention. After a moment, the noise cleared and gave way to a heavily layered and distorted voice.

"Good evening, Republic City. Tonight, I would like to exchange words with the Avatar, who has so graciously announced her return to our fair city, to uphold peace and balance." Despite the layered and almost-robotic voice, the sarcasm in the speaker's tone was more than obvious.

Korra scowled, while Tenzin looked worried, drawing his red and yellow cloak around himself as a chilling breeze snaked through the air.

"You say that the Equalists create fear and intimidate the public," the voice on the radio continued smoothly. "Can the same not be said for benders? The same people who run the triads, extorting and terrorising the boroughs. The same people who hold positions of power to oppress the lower classes of society. You cannot deny the class division that exists between those who can bend the elements, and those who cannot. The Equalists simply wish to create a city where a person has the same opportunities as everyone else."

A dramatised pause occurred, the spokesperson allowing his words to sink in.

"Prepare yourself, Avatar," he said firmly. "The battle for the hearts and minds of Republic City has only just begun."



AUTHOR'S NOTES:

Thank you if you've read this far. Any comments or criticism you could provide would be extremely helpful for improving my writing. Thanks!
« Last Edit: Jun 15, 2013 10:26 pm by Sonosublime » Logged

Book 1.5: Reflections
In the aftermath of the Revolution, Republic City is in turmoil. As the Triads, Equalists and the URN battle for control of the city, Korra must accept that she can no longer be the world's Avatar.
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