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Author Topic: [TLOK] Book 5 : Humanity - Mixed- [PG-13] [Updated 9-5-15]  (Read 6705 times)
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #25 on: Jan 07, 2015 11:25 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

The large spirit boomed, seemingly only into Korra and Katara’s minds, “Remember what you said to me in the swamp after we restored the Great Banyan tree, Korra - Tonga is one situation where Aang and his reluctance to take away life will lead you astray. You are willing to turn sufficiently evil foes into ash, and relished the thought of the first to try and harvest the Great Banyan tree again being blown in the wind as dust. What difference does it make what element or technique you use to kill, Korra? Zaheer found a way to kill with air, and your little ammunition idea for Opal will no doubt be used for a similar purpose. I highly suggest you get over even your small squeamish tendencies, Avatar Korra - any conflict after the Spirit Civil War will be bloody, human on human combat. You can still take away life while valuing it. The truly evil inflict pain for their own pleasure. I will leave you with these thoughts, for now.” And with that, the spirit returned to Korra’s being.

Korra thought for a good while on what Raava had said, as well as what Aang had said about being true to herself, Katara giving her a light hug as she did so. Korra finally turned to Katara and said, “So, next full moon - bloodbending training? I don’t know where we could do it, though - you did campaign pretty hard to have it outlawed.” Katara thought for a second, asking Korra, “Your new house wouldn’t happen to have a basement, would it? If I am to show you any forms or if you want to try and bloodbend without using the Avatar State, we’ll also need a window of some sort - for moonlight to filter in.” Korra responded “No, but I could easily bend one in. We need flowing water, a functioning bathroom and electricity - I could use that as a cover and make a whole secret room underneath the house. I could even make a hidden inlet from the sea into the room. Asami could maintain a primed motorboat there in case we ever need to make a getaway.” Katara said, “Sounds like a good idea - technically, since you made the whole new island from magma, it’d be a secret volcano base.” Not sure entirely why she found this funny, Korra laughed along with Katara anyways.

Korra heard a loud coughing sound over her shoulder. She turned to face a relieved-looking Piandao, who said, “Don’t worry - I’m no eavesdropper. Listening in is not a gentlemanly thing to do. Anyways - I came to tell you that Bolin and Sokka finally stopped telling each other jokes, but Bolin wants you to be present for his training. He said he thought you could benefit from a blade yourself, though seeing as you are the Avatar and have do not have natural pure physical combat skill like Avatar Kyoshi did, I do not see what he could mean. Come.” Piandao bent over to help Katara and then Korra up, and escorted them towards Sokka and Bolin. Sokka produced a large, black sword with a flair, causing Katara to yell, “You FINALLY found your meteorite sword? Where was it?” Sokka gave his sister a slight frown, saying, “I never did find it while I was alive - I just wished for it back after I finished taunting Koh for the first time, and it appeared at my feet. Anyways - I believe, for some reason I can’t understand, Bolin wants to use a one-handed sword.” Sokka shrugged, saying, “I always thought two was better than one - but to each his own.” Bolin said, while trying to lavabend in a futile effort, “Gah! If only I could show you why - I want to use my other hand to bend with, but I can’t bend in the spirit world right now. Korra, why don’t you show Sokka that Ghazan shuriken form - you managed to trap Koh and Long Yumao in elemental prisons earlier.”

Vaguely remembering the spinning disk that the Red Lotus member Ghazan used in battle, Korra bent a chunk of earth from a nearby rock and replicated the feat handily. Sokka stared at it for a little while, finally saying, “You know what would be cool? A lavabending boomerang!” Katara laughed, saying, “Sokka, why would Korra or Bolin need a lavabending boomerang? They can just directly control the Ghazan shuriken with their bending, after all.” Sokka let out a whimper, saying, “Even after I’m dead, I wish I were a bender. Come on, enough with the bendy talk, Bolin, Korra and sis - let me train Bolin with a REAL weapon! Before we can begin, Bolin, you need to wish for your ideal weapon.” Bolin closed his eyes, and a rather nasty looking one handed jet black sword with strange thick brown lines in it appeared at his feet. Korra asked, “Bolin - what are those funny lines? They almost look like… rock.”

Clearly proud of whatever idea he had, Bolin said, “After seeing the Ghazan shuriken again, I wished for a blade that would let me use my rare talent - lavabending!” Bolin postured with bare arms near Sokka, who whacked him over the head with the flat of his sword. Bolin said, getting up off the ground, “Hey, that wasn’t fair! I thought you were going to teach me to fight like a gentleman!” Both Piandao and Sokka laughed deeply, Piandao saying over top of a rolling Sokka’s laughter, “There are no rules in war, trainee Bolin. You have to be creative and use every advantage you have - especially if you’re not a bender like Sokka or I were. Now, no more bragging about your lavabending, or training is put off until you can show nonbenders a little more respect. You’d do well to remember that the Avatar’s girlfriend is a nonbender.” Korra laughed, adding, “I’d hate to think of what Asami would do to you - probably lightly shock you with her glove. Or Opal, for that matter - she wasn’t always an airbender, remember.”

A clearly flustered Bolin changed the subject, saying, “So anyways, my wish was for a sword that played to one of my talents, and I got one. I think the basic idea is that I can use this like a regular sword, but also expand and heat the earth in the ‘funny lines’ into a lava cutting blade - though I will need some practice to master it, most likely.” Sokka said, “See, I told you! He needed a lavabending weapon - just not my favorite, the boomerang. Okay, Bolin - time for us to start training. I guess I won’t have to worry about you cheating and bending - good.” With that, Sokka flew at Bolin, whose first instinct was to assume and earthbending stance and try to throw Sokka off balance. When his movements provided no results, he just grabbed his smaller sword and met the edge of Sokka’s blade head-on, shattering his “lavasword” into two pieces.

Sokka laughed and said, “First, you try and earthbend instead of fighting with your sword, body and environment, and then that stupid block. What was that? Real combat isn’t like those insipid movers Varrick makes - it’s clear you’ve never seen a realistic parry.” Bolin picked up his shattered sword, sniffing slightly, saying, “Now what am I gonna do?” Piandao stepped over and grabbed the two fragments, saying, “In a real fight, you’d have just lost one very expensive and labor-intensive sword, and would have to fall back on bending. Sokka, stop making faces at him! Anyways, since we are in the Spirit World, I can just mend the sword, and back to business as usual. Now try again - try to use your environment.” Bolin exclaimed, “But if I could bend, I could just make my own!” A visibly angry Piandao slapped his own forehead, saying, “And I thought training Sokka was difficult. This is going to take a while - if you want to truly master the sword, you need an entirely different mindset. One that doesn’t use bending as a crutch. No offense, Lady Katara or Avatar Korra.”

As Katara let out a small sigh, Korra sat down and watched Bolin get beat mercilessly by Sokka many times. Bolin appeared to have trouble anticipating Sokka’s moves, and it didn’t help that Sokka apparently had the agility of a 15-year old boy and the strength of a 25-year old man. After Bolin collapsed to the ground in the wake of a particularly bad match, Korra yelled, “Bolin, when you’re outside - can you earthsense?” After a dejected Bolin shook his head, Piandao said, “That makes taking in your surroundings as important as it is for a nonbender, Bolin, and unless you work on learning earthsense outside, you’re going to continue getting beaten.” Hearing a large hissing sound followed by a loud monkey howl, Korra turned to see Koh and Long Yumao still fighting, and she took the opportunity to refresh their prisons, not wanting them to crash Bolin’s training. Sokka began training Bolin once again, after both took a short break to harass and mock the spirit prisoners.

Korra felt a small air movement beside her - almost as if someone had simply displaced it. Korra and Katara both turned to face a concerned Tenzin, who asked, “Is everything all right? I came to check - people are starting to get worried, with three motionless bodies just sitting on top of the marble.” Tenzin turned to look at Korra’s prisoners, laughing at a visibly intensified conflict between the two. Tenzin said, after a long sigh, “I can see you have imprisoned your main two concerns, Korra, but keep in mind that Long Yumao has followers - and they would not be happy to see the Spirit World used as a sparring ground.” Korra infobended an explanation for what they were doing, apparently accidentally including her future bloodbending training. Tenzin looked at his mother in shock, saying, “Wait. So after you pushed for its outlaw, you’re going to train the AVATAR to bloodbend? As your son, I’d never turn you or your trainee in, but remember - you hate it for good reason. And don’t use fluffy animals - just think how I’d have to explain to your grandchildren and daughter-in-law if Korra accidentally… made a bloodbending mistake in the Avatar State and splattered fluffy creature into the waters around Air Temple Island.” Katara, now visibly mad, asked Tenzin, “Okay, then - what do you suggest we use for bloodbending training? And just so you know, this training is non-optional. I don’t want Korra suffocated by some blood-iron bending madman.” Tenzin shrugged, saying, “If you want, I could help. It’d help to have a target that can fight back, or tell you to stop.” Katara let out a shriek, saying, “NO, I’m not going to let one of my three children be used as a practice target - even if you are Korra’s mentor!” Seeing that this conversation was going nowhere fast, Korra suggested, “Me and Katara could always practice on each other. Katara could drink a lot of water and let me try to move it around in her stomach to start with so I don’t hurt her.” Katara said, with only slight resignation, “That sounds okay to me - I did manage to break free from Hama’s grasp, after all, and unlike my body, my bending has aged well.” Satisfied that the conversation was done, Tenzin said, “Okay, let Bolin finish training with Sokka. Keep in mind, though - the time outside is starting to approach 12:00 PM, and your body may kick you out from hunger or thirst,” and vanished.

Not liking the idea of another lecture on proper body care from Raava, Korra tried to think of a way to save some time. Korra got an idea that seemed stupid at first, but seeing that the twin spirit prisons were starting to look like they needed refreshing yet again, decided to carry it out anyways. She figured that knowledge was knowledge, even if she had no clue how to handle a sword. Korra yelled out to a reclining Piandao and a brawling Sokka and Bolin, who had apparently forgot Bolin was there to learn swordfighting and not wrestling, “Hey, guys, come over here! We’re starting to run low on time, so we need to wrap this up - but I think I can still salvage the training session!” After a confused Sokka and curious Piandao joined Bolin in front of her, she explained her infobending to the uninitiated. Piandao agreed, but Sokka had some reservations, asking, “And you’re sure Raava is going to help you with this? Aang never did anything like that.” Korra felt a surge of energy, and noticed that Raava had joined them. The small spirit said, “Yes, I am, Sokka. Now put your palms on their foreheads, Korra - this is going to be a little tricky.”

Korra extended her palm to a calm Piandao’s forehead and Sokka’s sweaty temple. She felt a rush of information enter her about fighting techniques and combat forms she had never trained in as the Avatar, and couldn’t help but find them all very interesting. She moved her palms to a deeply-breathing Bolin’s forehead, who said after she and Raava removed their hands, “Wow, that wasn’t actually that bad this time. Although, it felt like for every three pieces of information you gave me, only two stuck - is it because I’m stupid or something?” Piandao laughed, saying, “No, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid - it just means you will have to complete your training with an actual physical sword. The last portion that escaped you was information from Sokka and I on how we bonded with our weapons and made them extensions of ourselves. If you want to truly master your ‘lavabending sword’, you will need a physical sparring partner.” Piandao turned to Korra, saying, “I noticed your interest in the subject material as you withdrew information, Korra. If my hunch is right, due to your interest, you probably retained the same information as Bolin did. You would make excellent sparring partners.”

With that, Piandao vanished, and Sokka gave his sister a big polarbear-dog hug, waving goodbye as he too dissipated. Making a final mocking face at Koh of her own, Korra withdrew from the Spirit World, taking Katara and Bolin with her. A now freeKoh hissed through a serpentine face, “Long Yumao, thisss isss sssimply embarrasssing. We mussst get better sssecurity essstablissshed.” Long Yumao’s hide flashed in anger, causing Koh to ask “Why ssso ssseriousss?” As Long Yumao started to curse, Koh’s face changed to that of a savage monkey and began laughing wildly.

Chapter 21: Design Time

Korra awoke to see Asami staring in front of her, with Zhu Li and Varrick at her side. Apparently, Tenzin had already told everyone what Bolin, Korra and Katara had been doing, as Asami asked Bolin, “So, how was the training with Sokka? Did you learn anything?” Bolin coughed nervously, saying, “Just a little bit - but we started to run low on time, so Korra and Raava did reverse infobending from Sokka and Piandao into me. I retained most of it, but I am going to need a physical blade if I want to get better at it. Experience counts for a lot, apparently, and swordfighting sounds more like a mix of the four elemental fighting styles.” Bolin pointed at Korra and said, “Speaking of four elements - apparently, Piandao thinks that Korra would make a good sparring partner. I’m not sure why, given she hasn’t ever shown any liking for weapons. Being that she can control all four elements and all.” Asami put her hand to her chin, asking Korra, “It sounds like there’s a lot more than what Tenzin or Bolin have told me going on here - care to give me an update?” Korra stood up and put her palm on Asami’s forehead, relishing the same wonderful feeling of no separation Korra had felt on Druk’s back. After Korra finished, Asami looked at Katara and then back at Korra, winking - so she had gotten the bit about bloodbending and the house modification after all.

Asami whipped out a piece of paper, furiously drawing two different schematics - one very simple jet black sword that she recognized from the Spirit World sparring and Bolin’s wish, along with a much more complicated strange form she did not recognize. Asami pointed to the smaller weapon, with Varrick and Zhu Li crowding in to see, saying, “This is the ‘lavabending sword’ for Bolin, using the exact same design that Korra showed to me just now from Bolin’s little sparring match.” Asami pointed to a side-view of the blade, tracing a finger to show a thick line above the cutting edge - what Korra could only assume was the earth. Asami confirmed Korra’s hunch, saying, “I made it so that the earth is better distributed through the blade - there is no longer any earth directly on the blade’s edge. It just sits slightly above the cutting edge instead, hopefully making the metal of the sword harder to break. I’ll also need to work out some way such that only Bolin can manipulate the earth or the steel of the weapon so someone doesn’t turn his own weapon against him.” Pausing for a moment, she said, “I think I may have an idea, but I’d require some more advanced electronics than we currently have - vacuum tubes aren’t going to cut it.” Asami flipped to the other bizarre blueprint, making some modifications and notes - one of which said “Avatar State compatibility.”

Korra realized that the intricate set of blades must be for her! She pointed to the “Avatar State compatible” text excitedly, saying, “How do you plan on making that work, Asami? I may have not considered using a weapon until just a short time ago, but that really intrigues me!” Asami sighed, saying, “That’s just an idea for now, until I can get access to better technology.” Asami’s eyes widened suddenly and she turned to Varrick and Zhu Li, saying, “Varrick - you’ve had experience weaponizing spirit energy, and Zhu Li - you stayed with Kuvira working on that spirit weapon for quite some time. Do you have any ideas on how to make this idea - bending through the blades and channeling the Avatar State and Raava’s energy at the same time - work?” Varrick paced back in forth, emitting a constant stream of “Hmmm”s, and Zhu Li mumbled in a low voice about what she remembered about her work under Kuvira. Katara told Asami, “While I may not know much about technology - my brother Sokka always was the inventor of the family - I know a considerable amount about chi lines. Based on your drawing, it appears these strange mixes between vambraces and weapons are meant to be worn about halfway up the forearm.” Katara pointed at Korra’s armpits and said, “Based on first-hand experience with airbender tattoos - which follow the body’s chi lines - I know that there is a major chi line in this area of Korra’s body. If memory serves me right, it may even directly connect to Korra’s heart - the place that Korra’s Avatar State energy and energy from Raava flow from. If you have any hope of directly connecting a weapon to the power of the Avatar State and your elemental mastery, that would be it.”

Asami said, grabbing Korra’s armpit, “If there were to be a link between Korra’s main upper chi line and the blades, it would have to be artificial. I just don’t know how to do it, and after Bataar Jr.’s earlier outburst, I doubt he will be of any help.” Finally stopping his pacing, Varrick yelled “I don’t know either - I never worked on the cannon, just on its powersource!” slapping himself in the face out of frustration. Zhu Li added, “Kuvira did trust me to work on and around the cannon, but from what I saw, that technology wouldn’t be appropriate. The cannon, despite its power, was very finicky, requiring delicate parts that could easily break - some of them quite large. I don’t think Korra would want a condenser ring inside her.” She sat down on the ground, slumping her shoulders forward as she said, “Looks like this special weapon for Korra might just be a pipe dream after all.”
« Last Edit: Jan 07, 2015 02:41 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

Additional datapoints acquired. Additional animated stories viewed. Directive: adjust opinion... adjusting...
First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #26 on: Jan 07, 2015 11:26 am »

(Continued due to character limit)
   
Korra slammed her fist against the ground in frustration - in the process sensing two familiar people walking towards the group. One said, “I overheard you guys talking about a special weapon for Korra, and I think I can help.” Korra turned to the woman who had just spoken, and saw something she didn’t expect - it was Kuvira! Mako was next to her, who said, “I tried to talk Bataar Jr. into coming over here, but he would have none of it. He thinks we’re all traitors for even believing the story about what Kuvira went through, much less those who believe her to be changed.” Mako added, patting Kuvira’s back, “After seeing Kuvira’s reactions today, I can safely say I believe everything.” Kuvira looked at Mako’s face, saying, “I didn’t come over here to hear you tell me the obvious - your earlier blush was rather telling.” As Kuvira sat down near Asami, Mako’s face flushed once again, Kuvira said, “Now let’s get to trying to make this crazy idea work.”

Kuvira pointed awkwardly at different parts of the diagram, talking in jargon that only Varrick and Zhu Li followed completely, with Asami apparently able to fill in the gaps. Bolin stood up to talk to his brother to the side about his experience in the Spirit World with Piandao and Sokka, while Katara answered periodic questions from Asami and Kuvira about chi lines and energy flow. It was only relatively late in the process that Kuvira began asking Korra questions directly. Kuvira asked her, “Korra - do you think that we’d need a new material to carry the Avatar State and Raava’s energy? The existing technology Bataar Jr. and myself developed was based around slightly dark Republic City vines, or neutral vines from the Swamp. I don’t know how compatible - if at all - Raava’s extremely pure energy would be with the circuits and wiring we used for the Colossus’ weapon.” Korra didn’t know the answer, so she projected Raava out near Asami, who was still studying the blueprints. Raava looked at the blueprints, frowned slightly, then pointed at Varrick, saying, “If Mr. Tuber-Vine is to be believed, you have already developed one technology using his flesh. He tells me of something about electrical current and color movers. Does this give you any ideas, Varrick?” Varrick thought for a short time and then yelled, “I’ve got it! I take a cutting from Mr. Tuber-Vine, who is obviously attuned to Raava, apply it in a thin film over top of some wire similar to what Kuvira used in the spirit weapon, and apply a large electric shock to both ends. If it works anything like the SpectroMover film, the spirity essence of Mr. Tuber-Vine should be infused into the wires, allowing Avatar State and Raava energy to flow through them!”

Asami, Zhu Li and Kuvira began clapping, with a pleased Raava telling Varrick, “Sounds like it should work. And don’t worry about cutting too much from Mr. Tuber-Vine. He has regenerative properties akin to the original Republic City spirit vines. Goodbye for now!” Raava vanished back into Korra’s chest, and Korra thought of a problem, saying, “How are we going to get the energy from my heart into these blades? And how will these blades interact with my bending? I’d prefer them to be almost like tuning forks, with each blade corresponding to different elements. If they work as planned, I might even be able to use them to make my regular bending more precise and powerful.” Korra thought she was finished, but then she looked at the blueprints, pointing at a vambrace and blade, saying, “That’s not going to work - it looks like the blade is permanently extended. I want to be able to switch between blades and pure bending - if I tried to move my hands upwards, the blades would block them.”

After some more discussion between Varrick, Zhu Li, Kuvira and Asami, who made the most contributions, Asami began erasing large parts of the blueprints. Korra pointed out flaws as Asami re-drew the vambraces, finally settling on a design. The finished blueprint looked radically different from any blade she had ever seen - it reminded Korra of a cross between the armblades she had seen Lin bend out on occasions and an Equalist glove wrapped over her middle arm. Katara pointed at the arm underneath the design and said, “You still haven’t connected it to Korra’s major chi line. Might I suggest a series of ‘spiritwires’ underneath the skin from under Korra’s arm that interact directly with her chi line that connect to a port at the rear of the vambrace?” Asami erased the base of the vambrace, drawing in a port and adding dashed lines coming from the port to represent the spiritwire.

Looking at the blueprints, Korra removed a rock from a nearby seawall and bent it into a three dimensional, life-sized representation of the design. Korra held it in mid-air, admiring its unique form. Twin longblades jutted slightly past the tips of Korra’s outstretched fingers from two protrusions striking out from the main vambrace. Korra knew the blades could be withdrawn into the main, larger body of the vambrace if she wanted to bend normally. Korra bent the contraption onto her arm and manipulated the twin blades out and in, wanting to make sure that the longblades stowed properly inside the cavities inside the vambrace. She noticed that the blades stowed well, both just barely not hitting her hand when she bent her hand as far back as it would naturally go. Feeling that the vambrace itself looked rather bland, Korra etched the four elemental symbols onto its center, noting happily that Asami drew them onto the blueprint shortly after. Remembering what she had said earlier about wanting to bend through the blades, she added etchings into them. Asami asked Korra, “What are those for?” and Korra replied, “Those are bits of spiritwire implanted directly into the blade to allow me to fully channel my bending or Raava’s energy into the blades. I drew inspiration from what Kuvira described on her prototype ‘kuviricon’ transistor chips. That should work, right Kuvira?” After managing to no longer stare at the mockup, Kuvira said, “Yes - I think that should work. This will take a while to construct.” Korra said, “That’s fine - I want two of them. Let me add one last touch, and I will be very happy with the design.” Korra etched the symbols for air and earth into the left blade-containing protrusion, and the symbols for water and fire onto the right blade-containing protrusion.

As soon as Asami added the spiritwire embeds to the blades and the four additional elemental symbols, Korra removed the three dimensional representation from her arm and placed it on the ground next to Asami, with “blades” retracted. Asami lifted the precious form off the ground, storing it in her backpack and saying, “Let’s store this in our house for now until I can begin work on it and my other two projects in earnest.” Asami turned to Varrick and said, “I will need to assistance of Varrick Industries to complete these projects - the airbender steel projectile magazine, Bolin’s lavabending sword, and most of all Korra’s armblades. All are equal priority.” Seeing Varrick rub his hands together, Asami said, “We’ll discuss payments or counter-favors later. I don’t feel like haggling in the middle of a party.” Varricked groaned loudly, saying, “But that’s the best time to make deals - if you get someone drunk enough, they’ll agree to anything! Say, want some sake, Asami?” Varrick held up a small metal container near Asami, who slapped him on the face lightly and said, “NO!” making Zhu Li laugh heartily.

Once she had stopped laughing, Zhu Li appeared deep in thought, finally asking Asami, “You talked about some airbending steel projectiles. How would that work, exactly? I don’t think an airbender aside from the Avatar could fling one with sufficient force to reliably kill someone. A blunt end would almost always produce a knockout, but against a stronger opponent like Jinshu Kuangmai, I don’t think that they would cut it.” Asami whipped out her notebook to where she had apparently written down Opal’s request, reading it multiple times. She then took out another sheet of paper, drawing two different pieces of metal separately, and making another drawing - apparently of them together. Asami erased a portion of the rear of the smaller, pointed metal piece, filling in a strange pocket with lots of dots. Now apparently finished, Asami pointed to the larger united projectile and said, “This is what the airbender propels at their target at high speed. Upon impact, a charge of some unknown explosive detonates, sending the pointed piece flying forward with great force. If this round - I’ll call it a ‘Satot’ round - hits even a metalbender as proficient as Kuvira or Jinshu Kuangmai in the head, they’re as good as dead. On the plus side, this would be a fairly painless and quick death - something that I imagine even an airbender who’s willing to use this ammunition would care about.” Asami moved her mouth into an uncomfortable pout, saying, “I just don’t know how to make the charge explode on contact in such a small projectile, or what the charge should be, for that matter.”

Zhu Li stood up suddenly, saying “Fireworks! That’s what we can use - firework powder! I’ll need to formulate a new, more powerful powder mix - firework powder isn’t going to cut it for raw power. This same powder should also work in making a contact detonator.  I’ll call it Lipowder - I want something big! I never did appreciate weight being in Zhu Lis, and power in Varricks.” Varrick laughed, saying, “You can name it P’lipowder as far as I am concerned - you’re going to be on your own, as I never was one for advanced chemistry.” Varrick continued, looking Zhu Li directly in her now glittering eyes, “All that naming was before I became a changed man - I never figured that Kuvira had that little voice in her head too.” Kuvira elbowed Varrick in the ribs playfully, saying, “I have a conscience too - I just never listened to it before. It’s not like you have a stellar track record yourself, Mr. Arsonist. Not to mention you worked on the spirit vines for a pretty long time before having any qualms.” Varrick shrugged, saying, “Hey - I did what I thought I had to do to get people involved in the Water Tribe Civil War, and my image of Unalaq as eeeeevil schemer proved to be very true. Plus, you did pay me pretty well to work on those vines, until that little incident at the back of the train. Then you just paid me mainly in threats.” Zhu Li, Kuvira and Varrick began laughing deeply, drawing the attention of Bolin and Mako. Bolin said, “Hey - at least she wasn’t going to send you to a ‘re-education’ camp! Which reminds me - what kind of ‘education’ did you give at those camps, anyways?”

Kuvira made a retching sound, clearly disgusted with her past actions, saying, “I took a page or two from old Dai Li techniques, attempting to brainwash uncooperative citizens of the ‘Earth Empire’, as well as forcibly training younger prisoners in fields I found useful - mainly, military related topics. A good number of my conscripts came from those camps. The only good thing to come out of those camps was intelligent peasant boys and girls alike being schooled in sciences both military and civilian. It wasn’t out of any concern for them as individuals - I knew that they would have a great sense of debt to me for letting them learn, whereas Earth Queen Hou-Ting would have never allowed such a thing. I wanted a new generation of scientists to continue the new ‘Earth Empire’ legacy of technological innovation. If anyone from those camps is still truly loyal to me, it would likely be those young boys and girls. Jinshu Kuangmai’s face wasn’t the one plastered all over the walls and associated with the chance to learn new things and advance themselves out of an outdated social hole. I just hope they can manage to make their way to Ba Sing Se.” Kuvira laughed weakly, saying, “When I first started that program, that was one of the few times since my rise to power I felt as if my conscience was even vaguely pleased. At the time, I didn’t really care - but I do now.” Korra yelped in surprise as Opal - who had apparently overheard the words “re-education camp” and bent her way over - said from behind Bolin, “I guess you were partially right, Bolin - people did learn some new ‘trade skills’ in those camps after all. Though I get the feeling they were mainly trained in military science, and not civilian.” Kuvira laughed, saying, “Yes, you are partially right - the smartest ones were pressured into the military sciences, or areas that had overlap between civilian and military, such as farming, clothing and equipment manufacturing, and chemistry. All three had dual uses, and knowing the importance of money in war, I even had some ‘students’ learning about business - I had always thought the Earth Kingdom was too reliant on agricultural wealth. Only Ba Sing Se had anything approaching the kind of merchant class that I admired in Republic City. It’s my hope that one day, the Earth Kingdom will have companies that rival Varrick Industries and Future Industries.”

Asami blushed slightly as Varrick said, “Hey - I don’t need any competition!” prompting Zhu Li to hit him over the head with yet another ledger, saying, “The more wealth there is in the world, the more people can afford our products. How’d you like to start producing more of those huge ships - like the Zhu Li - and sell them for outrageous prices to newly moneyed Earth Kingdom entrepreneurs?” Varrick yelled, “Zhu Li, Kuvira - you’re both geniuses!” as Asami added, “I could even start moving more of the higher-end Satomobiles. I get the feeling I won’t be doing much business aside from reconstruction in Republic City for a while.”

Finally getting used to constant interruptions, Korra didn’t react when Zuko appeared from behind Asami and said, “Speaking of reconstruction - world leaders aside from those directly involved in the events since Zhu Li’s and Varrick’s wedding have no idea what is going on. I believe it would be a good idea to update people on these recent events, especially the Spirit Civil War and the threat this Jinshu Kuangmai poses to restabilization of the Earth Kingdom. I know of a place from my youth that should be appropriate - I even own a property there, though I rarely visit. It reminds me too much of the madness of my father and sister.” Korra’s eyes glowed momentarily, hearing an excited projection of Aang ask, “Are the Ember Island Players still there? I loved the play!” Zuko laughed, saying, “I’m afraid there hasn’t been real talent behind their newer plays in years - they just show the play my mother loved, ‘Love Amongst the Dragons’, as well as ‘The Boy in the Iceberg’, over and over. Though I may add, after my father’s defeat, I ordered them to change the ending, and fix the original casting - no more male Toph or female Aang. I also told them to find a… more attractive actor for Katara’s role.” Aang was laughing wildly, and Katara was blushing slightly. She ran over to hug Zuko, unexpectedly giving a light peck on the cheek, making Aang laugh even harder and Zuko’s cheeks flush the same color as his fire. Before Aang’s laughter brought the whole party to their location, Korra yanked him back in, but not before he could say, “Just remember, Katara - you’re still mine, and I’m still yours!” only managing to get part of a giggle out before he returned to Korra’s heart.
Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #27 on: Jan 07, 2015 11:28 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Not quite getting everything that was going on, Varrick said, “Whatever all that was about. Don’t tell me Katara had a thing for both Aang and Zuko?” Before he could continue, Katara spun around, wearing the same expression Korra had seen when she was stringing Katara along the night after Korra’s failed vacation, and she said loudly, “I may have pushed for its outlaw, but if I could bloodbend during daylight, I’d half consider making you punch yourself in the face for that!” Zuko coughed loudly, saying, “Varrick, why don’t you contact President Raiko and the other representatives from the United Republic of Nations - Iroh II is the only one that comes to mind - over the radio, and see if you can get a chain of contact established with my daughter, Firelord Izumi, as well. Tell her that she needs to see what her inaction cost Republic City before any meeting at Ember Island - I want her in a more open mindset than she was before Kuvira attacked. Also, get in contact with ‘Prince’ Wu - if he’s not too busy singing, that is.” As Varrick and Zhu Li ran off to their huge boat to send out radio calls, Zuko continued, “I do not think that the Northern Water Tribe will be easy to reach with radio - the interference from magnetism and the Northern Spirit Portal is too great, and I am not sure if they have radios anyways. Korra will need to make a ‘personal’ remote appearance for that.” Zuko let out a slight sigh, adding, “Make sure to try and keep Aang from interrupting - I think he would find them… reminiscent of one of my former love interests.”

Katara started laughing again, though this time lightly, saying, “You’re right - Eska and Desna do remind me of Mai! So emotionless… Which reminds me - where is Mai?” Zuko, despite looking like he didn’t want to talk about this “Mai”, said, “I believe she is retired from any sort of official duty, now living along with Ty Lee on Ember Island. Don’t worry - their house is far from where we will be meeting.” Katara said, “Korra might want to meet with them anyways, after this conference - Ty Lee has knowledge that Korra will find… useful soon, and Mai may be able to teach Korra a bit more about physical combat. Come to think of it, Asami would probably be interested to talk to them both as well.” Seeing Asami’s quizzical look, Katara explained, “Ty Lee was the original chi blocker - she knew just where to hit a bender to disable their advantage, and was quite the acrobat, and your own fighting style reminds me slightly of hers - though with less electrogloves and more poking. Mai, on the other hand, specialized in throwing knives and other, smaller bladed weapons, as well as her natural agility.” As Katara explained Ty Lee’s knowledge of chi blocking, Korra realized what Katara wanted her to learn from Ty Lee, and a predatory grin appeared on Korra’s face. She had always hated the technique Amon used to block someone’s bending, and looked forward to learning where the key weak points were so that she could use regular strikes or bloodbending to block someone in a less traumatic way. Asami said, “After seeing what those Equalist chi blockers could do to a bender, I always wanted to learn how they did it. Though, I doubt Ty Lee will be in physical shape to demonstrate personally. Even though I don’t use blades myself, I could use Mai’s experience with agility and quick strikes. The current URN military mechs Future Industries provided are very ungainly, and even the suits used by Kuvira weren’t as agile as I would like them to be if I were to use one. Though I don’t know if Kuvira would be willing to share the designs.”

Kuvira gave Asami a withering look and grunted, saying, “Of course I’ll share! I just helped you design a weapon for the Avatar, unlike any the world has ever seen.” Satisfied that Asami wasn’t going to be inconsiderate again, she continued, “One thing I haven’t mentioned yet about Jinshu Kuangmai - he possesses a knack for innovation. I don’t know how many letters he sent me, suggesting tweaks to our equipment. Most of them were good, but not wanting to upset Bataar Jr. at the time, I did not implement them while giving Jinshu Kuangmai credit - I just brought up his ideas as some of my own. In addition to ideas that were actually my own, of course - most of Jinshu Kuangmai’s ideas were evolutions of current equipment, not the revolutions in equipment that Bataar Jr. and myself came up with. Whenever we could conquer a new area, Jinshu Kuangmai would scour it, looking for ideas to incorporate into his own.” Kuvira pointed at Asami and said, “This is why we both need to continue innovating in the arms and weaponry department, and make sure that at ALL COSTS Jinshu Kuangmai never manages to raid Varrick Industries or Future Industries for technology. You will probably want to start posting bender guards as well as conventional security around both your headquarters. However, if he decides to come himself without Korra around, his blood-iron bending ability would mean game over. In our conquest, I saw him raise entire gangs of bandits into the air, sometimes twirling them in a large wheel, laughing as he did so.”

Not wanting to hear any more of Jinshu Kuangmai’s sickening antics, Korra said, “While you two finish talking about technology, I’m going to contact Eska and Desna.” Korra sat down on the ground, legs crossed, focusing on the energy of her two cousins. Korra hoped that Aang wouldn’t interrupt.

Chapter 22: Bored Lies the Crowned Head

Eska was bored. She was always bored. Her brother always joined her in her, no - their shared  boredom. The only thing recently that was even remotely exciting was watching Kuvira crush that insufferable Prince Wu’s stupid medal, but that had been quite some time ago. Nothing ever happened in the Northern Water Tribe, and she wished she had been born during the 100 Year’s war, swapping places with Princess Yue. It didn’t help at all that Bolin, the one man who had shown any interest in her, was now far from her icy grasp.

Letting out a long, deep sigh, she told her brother, “Maybe we should start another Water Tribe Civil War - I’m just so, so bored. Tell me again, why didn’t we try to get to Republic City as fast as we could?” Desna sighed in masked irritation, saying, “I already told you a hundred times - until one of us finds a mate and produces an heir, I don’t feel like putting our lives at unnecessary risk. And from what I have heard filtering out from Republic City, the battle went fine without us.”

Eska slumped even further into her stupid throne, if that were even possible. Why couldn’t something interesting happen already? She mumbled out loud, “Probably doesn’t help matters I don’t find anything other than extremes interesting.”

Desna said, “What on earth is that? Sister, look - see that weird shimmer in front of this dull throne?” Eska looked up, seeing her cousin’s image in front of her. She said drolly, “Hello, Avatar and Cousin Korra - what do you want. Are you here to tell me about the battle I missed because my brother’s even more boring that ruling the Northern Water Tribe?” Eska could feel Desna giving her an icy glare as her cousin said, “I’m here to tell you about a lot more interesting events that have happened over the past two days. Maybe it will make you not quite so bored.” Eska stood up from her insipid seat, saying, “That will take some doing, Cousin. And who’s that bald kid beside you?”

The image of Korra turned to face what must have been the image of a 12-year old Airbending Master and said, “Oh, for crying out loud! Really, Aang, in the middle of diplomacy? Go on, get out of here!” As what must have been Avatar Aang’s image laughed deeply, another strange form joined her cousin’s side. Eska let out a low “Huh?” - she had never seen this small, white-haired girl before, yet she seemed strangely familiar. Of particular interest to Eska was an odd teapot around the girl’s neck. Korra turned to face this new figure, saying, “Oh, great - not you too, Raava! I thought you told me you couldn’t project this far away from my body.” The girl giggled, saying, “I’m always pushing the envelope, Korra. Now let me watch.” Avatar Aang’s image laughed, saying, “Zuko WAS right - you two remind me an awful lot of Mai!” Before she could ask who this “Mai” was, Korra snapped at Avatar Aang’s image, “That does it! Back in you go, Aang - you better not pull this stunt at the Ember Island conference, or I’ll be a laughing stock!”

Eska noted that the teapot around what must have been Raava’s neck was shaking violently, opening an odd, metallic-looking clasp. A bone-chillingly familiar voice said from the teapot, “It’s a shame what happened to your father, Eska and Desna. Applications for the position of Dark Avatar are open, you know - would you care to apply? I’m willing to overlook your little betrayal of me and your father.” Despite all her anger at the formerly great spirit and finding his new home humorous, Eska simply said, “No thank you. My brother and I find ruling the Northern Water Tribe boring enough as is, and I don’t think ruling the world would be any better. We will not be applying.” Apparently, Raava had been in shock at Vaatu’s appearance from the teapot, as only now did she yell, “Get back in there, you little piece of s-” as she cursed, shut the clasp and smacked the teapot’s side. Eska smiled, but only slightly. Raava looked at her expression with amazement, saying to Korra with a concerned look on her face, “You told me these two were your cousins. I didn’t know you had spirit cousins.” Her cousin laughed, saying, “Not all humans are emotional, you know.” Seemingly not buying it, Raava said, while pointing at Eska’s face and her brother’s, “I’m pretty sure I’m more human-y than either one of these two. But they make me curious.” Raava turned her mouth from Korra’s ear, saying, “Do you mind if I observe? I’ve never seen a human as cold as either one of you first-hand.”

Her brother let out and awkward laugh, as did Eska, her brother saying, “We don’t mind. Now, back to what you were saying, Korra - obviously, it has something to do with Avatar Aang’s image, and Raava’s unusual form.” Raava said, staring at Eska’s brother, “My laugh is more human-y than that. Are you sure Unalaq didn’t boink a spirit or two? He always did love spirits…” Seemingly frustrated that Desna’s cheeks did not flush, Raava said, “Fine - do your boring talky-talky. I don’t think you can infobend with a projection.” Korra groaned, apparently very distraught that she could not “infobend” Eska and Desna - whatever infobending was - and began explaining the events of the past two days. When her cousin got to the part where she described Katara’s discovery of Asami’s pregnancy, Eska asked, “Do you think you could abduct someone unrelated to either of us and help me get an heir? I don’t think my brother will do anything exciting with me until one of us has a stupid baby.” Eska rapped her fingers on a piece of ice near the throne. Raava and Korra both looked at each other with looks of disgust on their faces, saying “No, I will not help you in your quest for an heir! That’s just sick!” at the same time. Korra added, “Sorry, lady buddy - you’re going to have to woo someone the old fashioned way. I hear Mako is single.” Eska shook her head, saying, “While he is not as prone to hysterics as his brother, he is still too emotional for my tastes. Next suggestion.” Raava gave her a funny look and said, “Sounds to me like a rock would be too emotional for you. Maybe you just need to lighten up, and go see the world some - I used to be pretty serious, and look where I am now! More human-y than a human, apparently.” Eska shook her head side-to-side slightly as the small, white-haired girl asked Korra, “Are you sure your cousins aren’t half-spirit? Their faces move about as much as Koh’s does when he’s being serious.”

Finally tired of this meaningless banter, Desna said, “Cousin, we’d appreciate it if you continued in your story. We don’t have all day, you know. In fact, tell me about this ‘infobending’ - it sounds like a time-saver.” Korra sighed, saying, “I have done it within the Spirit World before, from two human spirits to myself to Bolin. And Raava managed to do her reading of Su and Lin as a projection - although she was much, much closer then. I guess I could try it like this, but I’d need to use the Avatar State to do it - if it’s even possible.” Korra explained this odd “infobending” to Eska and her brother, finishing, “Now let’s give it a shot - if this doesn’t work, I’ll just have to do it later. And by the way, the only reason I’ve told you so much detail so far is because I figure you’d find the personal details so boring you wouldn’t bother telling anyone else, and it appears I was right, given your… reaction to news of Asami’s pregnancy.” The image of Korra jumped in front of Eska and her brother, while Raava appeared behind their backs. Eska saw Korra’s eyes flash temporarily, but felt no information flow. Korra said, with an unsurprised tone, “See? I told you this wouldn’t work, Raava. I’ll just do it physically when they get to Ember Island.” Raava said to Korra angrily, “NO, I told YOU it wouldn’t work - I said it first in your head! Now just tell them what you came here to say already!”

Liking the sound of this, Eska asked a now angry Korra, “If my guess is right, you want me and my brother, rulers of the Northern Water Tribe, to come to Ember Island for some sort of world leaders meeting so we can have yet more babbling. I oh so look forward to talking with President Raiko.” Korra said, “Yes - although, there is one thing you should do immediately. Create a no-pass zone around the Northern Spirit Portal - I don’t want any innocents wandering too close and getting snatched by Long Yumao.” Remembering this “Long Yumao” as the spirit that had threatened to have Koh steal Asami’s face, Eska said, “Sure. Now I am bored of this conversation, so please allow me to be bored while creating this exclusion zone and bored while in transit to Ember Island. Good day, Avatar and Cousin Korra.” With that, the two forms vanished from in front of her and her brother.

Finally having a reason to leave the throne room, Eska tugged on her brother’s large, flowing coat, saying, “Come on - let’s make that exclusion zone and head to Ember Island. If we get there before everyone else, maybe we can catch ‘The Boy in the Iceberg’ - I never have seen a decent play.” Her brother said, “Sounds good - maybe you or I can find a mate there. Let’s go.”

Thinking on what Raava had said, Eska told her brother as they approached the Spirit Portal on a wave of ice, “When we’re making this barrier, let’s try and feel the ice as we bend it, and leave some warnings on its surface. Maybe we will actually have some ‘fun’.” With a weak smile, Desna nodded and said, “Sounds like a good idea. I do hate being bored.”

As they began to create a massive ice barrier around the foot of the portal and felt the flow of the water and ice as they did so, Eska - and apparently Desna, too, given his widening smile - felt small amounts of emotions that Eska didn’t know she had. Remembering a scene from her childhood in which her father, Unalaq, had scolded them for such behavior, she bent a small “snowball” and threw it at Desna in the face as he was on top of a wave of ice, messing up his concentration and causing him to go flying face-first into a snowbank. Eska let out a sound she had heard Raava make earlier that she remembered from her childhood “snowball” fight - a giggle. She could hear her brother laughing like a three-year old, suddenly stopping with an angry look on his face. He turned to face her, with some odd moisture at the corners of his eyes, “Now I remember another reason our father was an abominable man. One that we have both denied since our childhoods. Just like Hiroshi Sato did to his daughter, he forced us to repress feelings that he did not feel fit a ruler’s children to have - but he was worse! Hiroshi Sato just repressed Asami’s lesbian tendencies - OUR father repressed everything! Seeing a spirit mock me for not being human enough opened my mind and made me think things I was always taught to dismiss or keep bottled up inside. Seeing you throw that snowball at me just brought everything to a head.” He stood up, bending the water away from his eyes, saying, “Raava is right - we do need to go out and experience the world more. Let’s finish this - I want to see if a play can help us both heal from our evil father’s much older wounds.”

As her brother talked, Eska felt as though ice was melting - but not from bending. Running over and hugging him, she said, “To the future!” Both siblings finished the warnings signs and barriers, making sure to make up for the missed play of their youth along the way. After they finished, they took a waterbending craft and worked in unison, feeling the flow of the water around them, smiling more in increments, until Eska could feel her mouth holding the form of a genuine smile.

After about three hours - Eska did not feel tired at all, oddly enough - both arrived at Ember Island, having found it on a map Desna had brought. When she and her brother went to the building that housed the Ember Island Players after getting directions from some jumpy locals, they spotted what must have been one of the troupe’s managers. He stood straight up, saying, “Chief Eska and Chief Desna! We are honored to have you here - here, have some tickets, on the house!” Eska took the tickets as her brother said, “No, sir - we are honorable people. We have heard that you have not been able to get good writers lately, so take this.” Desna fished twenty-five thousand yuans out of his robes, and a shocked Eska found herself adding fifteen thousand yuans of her own. Neither of them had ever liked those awkward coins with holes other people in their tribe called “money”. The manager managed to stutter, “T-t-thank you! With this, we should be able to start creating a new play - we haven’t had anything new in over twenty years!” He put his hands to his chin, saying, “We’ll call it the Legend of Eska and Desna, in your honor! It will be about Harmonic Convergence, and your timely turn against your father!” Now it was Eska who held up a hand while fishing for more yuans, saying, “No - we’re no legends. At least not yet. Korra is the only legend I know of - and I get the feeling she’s going to become even more legendary shortly.” Noticing the show was about to start, Eska grunted, “It’s not like we have any use for all this money anyways - I never did understand why taxes were so high in our tribe,” holding out a huge fat stack of money to the manager. It was probably one hundred thousand yuans, give or take, and Eska handed it to a now blubbering manager. He was mumbling, “The Legend of Korra? No, no - that sound awkward. The Tale of Korra? That’s it!” as she took her brother’s hand and ran towards their seats, eager to begin watching the show - and melting their father’s ice.

The performers gave a very lively performance, which Eska enjoyed thoroughly, and given her brother’s laughter, he did as well. As she hugged him tightly after the depiction of Aang’s final merciful act, Zuko’s inspiring speech and the final kiss between Aang and Katara, she saw a fleeting vision of a thick, purple-imbued ice prison shattering, letting what must have been her three-year old self free. A familiar male voice howled in the distance, as though from inside an impenetrable fog.

Eska sighed deeply, and a voice she recognized from earlier said It appears that the Avatar’s past lives were not Unalaq’s only prisoners, nor the first. Now go, Eska - and learn to be human-y with your brother!
Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #28 on: Jan 07, 2015 11:31 am »

Chapter 23: The Grand Tour

Firelord Izumi had always been a reserved ruler, preferring isolation to large gatherings, and during her seven-year reign she made sure that the Fire Nation conducted itself accordingly. She had heard reports of the battle in Republic City and just told herself that the reports must be exaggerated. She had a hard time believing that the center of the city had been gutted by a huge blast to create a new Spirit Portal. The only thing that had happened recently that drew her concern - apparently the Fire Nation had not been needed at Republic City, with the Avatar neutralizing the threat, as it should be - was her father’s disappearance mid-day the day prior. The way he drove Druk onwards, it appeared that something urgent was going on.

She looked out over the capital city, noting with pleasure that the modernization of the Fire Nation was going full steam ahead. The only historical buildings that remained were government buildings inside the main volcano caldera and the actual Fire Nation palace, and even these buildings were being outfitted with electricity, no longer generated by dirty coal. Lightning generation was much cleaner. Everything else closely resembled Republic City. In a symbolic move, she had chosen to get rid of the large flame backdrop behind her throne, considering it to be a reminder of the dark days of the Fire Nation, instead replacing it with a map of the world that had all four elemental symbols in their appropriate corners. While her father, Zuko, liked the map, he disapproved of her decision to remove the flame base, citing “historical value” and “cultural heritage”.

Izumi snorted - what cultural heritage? That of conquest and war? In a similar vein, she had scrapped all the old war balloons as well as the outdated tanks for their metal, to be used in the construction of massive trade ships that would soon ply the waters between the Fire Nation, the Earth Kingdom, Republic City and the Water Tribes in civilized trade. This decision caused much controversy, but given the Fire Nation’s island locale, if she was going to have any military, it would be on the seas. If the Northern Water Tribe decided to ever become aggressive again as they had been against their brothers in the south, and eventually the whole world, her modernized fleet would make them pay. Catapults had long ago been replaced with firebending turrets, and elite squadrons of marines skilled in close combat and advanced firebending - including lightning generation - had been trained. She had designed a whole new class of ships herself after hearing her son’s account of the power of the Equalist bombers during the first fight for Republic City, four years ago - “aircraft barges”, based off of the huge merchant ship’s design. Her engineers were already working to make her vision a reality, though they always demanded more money - typical military, always wanting more.

As she thought of military matters, a strange thought occurred to Izumi that made her laugh - surely the Earth Kingdom would never mount those horrible spirit weapons Kuvira made for the Earth “Empire” on their ships or their own war balloons? Not completely discounting the notion, she made a note to offer Varrick a large sum to outfit some special ships with spirit weaponry if the need ever arose. Though, she remembered with a smile, he had refused President Raiko’s request for spirit weapons, and she doubted any spirit weapons remained, much less in the hands of Kuvira adherents. From what she had heard, the massive Colossus struck her as a one-time gambit.

She heard her telephone - a new addition - ring. She picked it up after two rings - she needed to appear to be busy - and answered, “Firelord Izumi speaking. How may I help you?” making sure to be polite.

One thing that she strongly agreed with her father and predecessor on was the need for humility. Zuko would tell her of his sister’s and father’s arrogance, and with how Zuko had raised Izumi, it always chilled her to the bone. She silently mused that their arrogance reminded her of President Raiko in ways.

The voice at the other end of the line said, “I have a message for you, Firelord Izumi. The Avatar, Korra, wishes you to come to Republic City for a tour before going to Ember Island for a conference of world leaders. She says she has things she wants to show you.” Entering a whisper, the caller said, “There are rumors that past Avatar lives have been spotted near her, and of a secret mission to the Swamp - including your father, Zuko. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?” So that’s what her father had been doing - helping restore the Avatar’s past lives, apparently. Good - now even less need for the Fire Nation’s intervention, with both Raava and Korra’s past lives to draw from. She told the caller as much, but he nervously said, “I don’t know about that - some of the troops we managed to get to Republic City in time said they saw the new Spirit Portal acting bizarrely the night after the main battle, and reported multiple instances of people going in and out - including the Avatar herself. Something’s going on in the Spirit World, and I don’t like the looks of it, so don’t be surprised if Avatar Korra asks for your assistance.” He paused, adding, “With all due respect, Firelord Izumi, if she asks your for assistance, you should provide it without any conditions. Plenty of people are still angry about your refusal to attack Kuvira, especially considering what she did to the city. The crater around the Spirit Portal is HUGE!” Suddenly remembering he was talking to his sovereign, he asked, “You’re not gonna demote me, are you?” Izumi laughed, saying, “Of course not! For one, I never got your name, and secondly, I’m not Firelord Ozai - I want people to tell me the truth.” The man said, “My name is Intelligence Officer Jeong-Jeong - my father named me after one of his heroes from the 100 Year’s War.” Izumi told Intelligence Officer Jeong-Jeong “Your father has fine taste - Jeong-Jeong was a member of the White Lotus during the war and defected from the insane Fire Nation military. Tell your superior he is to consider you for promotion as a reward for your service, and most importantly, honesty. Good day.” Izumi smiled as she heard some excited laughter from the other end, and hung up her receiver.

Izumi looked up and let out a startled shout - a blue image of Avatar Korra was floating in front of her! Remembering to be polite and that projection was an advanced airbending move, she told Avatar Korra’s image “My congratulations on mastering the fine art of projecting yourself, Avatar Korra. To what do I owe the honor?” Avatar Korra looked like she was going to laugh, but at the last minute she said, “Firelord Izumi, I just wanted to let you know that I am currently on my way towards the Fire Nation. I want you to get in your fastest boat and meet me half-way. Just look for the blue fire beacon.” Despite herself, Izumi’s mouth dropped open, and she said, “But… my father taught me that blue fire was the mark of Azula! How did you manage to produce it?” Avatar Korra said, maintaining her composure better than Izumi herself had, said, “You are partially right - blue fire is the mark of an extremely skilled firebender with intense drive and focus. Both Mako and I have managed to produce the flame. However, we used righteous anger to produce the flames instead of the cold hatred Azula must have used. Given what I have heard of Azula, every time she produced it she was probably thinking of being Firelord or hurting Zuko, while Mako and I instead thought of how we would feel if we lost a loved one. Mako thought of Bolin dying, and I…” The Avatar’s image clapped her hands over her mouth, blushing slightly.

Stifling back a laugh at Avatar Korra’s quip about Azula, Izumi asked, “You thought of what? If it’s personal, don’t worry about it - I’m not a gossip.” Korra’s image took a deep breath of relief and said, “Let’s just say it’s someone I’m in love with. And don’t ask me if it’s Mako, because it’s not. Now, back to the matter at hand - I’m getting pretty close to the point I had in mind, so you need to get moving.” The Avatar vanished, and Izumi’s eyes opened wide with a start - she did need to get moving! She burst out of her office - she never did like the official palace and its throne - past some confused bureaucrats. Apparently, one of them had ordered a palanquin, which she angrily refused, saying “No! How many times do I have to tell you - I don’t want to be carried around like some tyrant or spoiled brat! Now get out of my way, please, so I can get to my Satomobile!” After she finally got to her land transport, she snorted in disgust at its vanity and excess, sighing in resignation as she remembered the Firelord had to maintain appearances and couldn’t drive around in a beater. For once, she actually appreciated the high end model, enjoying the speed at which it was now bringing her to a private boat.

She had never been a talented firebender, but she thought of what she would feel if her father were killed or if Iroh II died early as she got the boat’s motor running, intending to see if this blue flame was easy to make. After carefully leaving the fortified harbor - she was no fool, and had left the fortifications of the city alone - Izumi pointed the boat towards the direction she thought Republic City lie in, and let the boat’s motor do the rest. She closed her eyes, envisioning the death of her only son and her father to one of Kuvira’s soldiers. She opened her eyes to the sky in rage and saw a flame shoot skyward, apparently from her mouth - but it was not blue. Pleased that she had managed a firebending form that even Zuko had not mastered, she turned her eyes to the endless sea. She noticed that her boat motor wasn’t moving her very fast, and wondered how Avatar Korra had managed to get so far so quickly. It’s not as if she could have been bending while conversing with Izumi via projection.

Spotting a bizarre form in the distance, Izumi whipped out a spyglass she had remembered to bring - and she was stunned. She saw a female figure at the head of a small boat, bending out massive jets of blue flame from her hands backwards, with seemingly glowing eyes. A male figure behind her, safely between the blue jets, was shooting a less refined but larger blue flame towards the back of the boat with both hands, providing more propulsion. Noticing the distance between what used to be a speck and her own boat was closing rapidly, Izumi put the spyglass down, realizing who the figures must be.

When Avatar Korra and Mako arrived at the side of her own boat, Avatar Korra’s eyes glowed momentarily and she let out a loud groan, saying, “I hope it’s Raava and not Aang! I already told him to not interrupt official business.” As Avatar Korra bent some of the metal of her own ship to lock it beside Izumi’s, Izumi noticed a strange, white-haired girl standing in front of her in her own boat. The girl waved, saying, “Hello, Firelord Izumi! I’m Raava, and this is my human-y form. I would have called it my avatar, but that title is already taken.” What Izumi assumed to be Raava’s strange “human-y” form grinned as Avatar Korra said, “Thank goodness that little rascal Aang didn’t hop out. He really is a 12-year old inside.” Izumi asked Avatar Korra, “So what is it you want to show me in Republic City, Avatar Korra?” Avatar Korra said, “You can stop calling me Avatar Korra - Korra will do.” Before she could continue, Raava blurted out, “Can we read Firelord Izumi? We’ve never read a world leader before!” Clearly not pleased at this request, Avatar Korra said, “I thought I told you, no bringing up anything but the physical state of Republic City! After Firelord Izumi’s reluctance to attack Kuvira, I’m not sure how much I want to share with her anyways. I’d prefer to keep things formal with her.”

While Izumi shared Avatar Korra’s sentiment on formality, she couldn’t help but be curious about this “reading” Raava had mentioned. She turned to face the spirit in her boat, asking, “What is this reading, and what does it do, Raava?” Avatar Korra groaned slightly, saying, “I was hoping you wouldn’t catch that. I guess we can give you a reading if you want - I do have to admit, I’m curious to see what a non-interventionist firebender ‘feels’ like. Avatar Roku was not pleased with your decision when I told him about it.” Izumi had mixed feelings - somehow, Avatar Korra had talked with Avatar Roku, but the same Avatar that warned Sozin to not be aggressive found fault with her own actions? Izumi said as much to Raava, who said, “You sound less like Zuko’s daughter and more like Tenzin’s eldest. You’re right, Korra - this will be an interesting read.” Avatar Korra laughed, saying, “Let’s get this over with.”

Avatar Korra climbed carefully into Izumi’s boat after freezing both together to provide stability and placed her palms on Izumi’s large forehead, making sure not to crush her glasses. As soon as Raava placed her hands on Izumi’s back, she felt an odd sensation - as though her soul was being weighed. While she felt no further odd sensations from Avatar Korra’s palms, she felt an odd flow between herself and Raava - almost like the spirit was stealing information! After both Avatar Korra and Raava removed their hands, Raava began laughing deeply, saying, “Once you hear more of what Korra has to say, I think you’re really going to regret scrapping those war balloons and tanks! I knew from Korra’s interaction with you that you’re a pacifist, but really?” Izumi’s cheeks reddened - so the little twerp had been stealing information! Remembering that Raava was an all-powerful spirit of light and order, she ignored it, instead asking, “How did you get that out of me, Raava? And what was that little energy exchange I felt? And what did your reading tell you?” An incensed Avatar Korra appeared to be trying to meditate, but to no avail, screaming, “I told you Raava, bad spirit! Now get back in here before you offend Firelord Izumi with your infobending antics!”

Izumi laughed, saying, “You are the most powerful spirit in the world right now, Raava - no hard feelings. Why don’t you tell me what your reading said, then explain this ‘infobending’ to me.” Raava said with a start, “Oh! I didn’t even do my normal ‘Read completed. Blablabla’, did I? Anyways - while I disagree with Firelord Izumi’s borderline airbender pacifism, especially given that Jinshu Kuangmai is running around who knows where, probably rallying troops to his side, she is still Zuko’s daughter and exhibits what I can best describe as a mix of Zuko and Uncle Iroh’s ideology. She won’t be blabbing any secrets to anyone, so you can come out of the closet, Korra - and given how Firelord Izumi is tugging both our hands, she wants you to help me infobend her.” Izumi stopped tugging on Avatar Korra and Raava’s hands, saying, “I never was one for the stuffiness of formal diplomacy, aside from acting with proper manners. Just hurry up and infobend me already!”

Avatar Korra had an oddly concerned look on her face, saying, “Keep in mind, Firelord Izumi, once we give you all this information, there’s no going back. There is some information, though, that I want you to see first hand before the conference tomorrow - the physical state of Republic City and the costs of inaction and passiveness. Are you sure?” Izumi nodded her head up and down vigorously, wanting to know the events of the past three days in more detail. After she told Avatar Korra “Make sure to include the battle for Republic City - I still haven’t heard in great detail what happened,” Avatar Korra meditated briefly, apparently drawing Raava back into her body, finally placing her hands against Izumi’s brow. At first, nothing happened other than Avatar Korra’s eyes glowing briefly. Avatar Korra looked over Izumi’s shoulders, angrily grunting, “I withdrew you for a reason, Raava - but whatever! Let’s just do this.”

Izumi’s mind was overwhelmed as the details of the past three days entered into her mind. She witnessed the destruction of the center portion of Republic City - apparently at Raava’s behest, given Avatar Korra’s angry grunt as the information was broadcast - and the entirety of the battle from Avatar Korra’s point of view. As Izumi saw Avatar Korra take Asami to the new Spirit Portal, at first she was confused, but subsequent events cleared that away quickly. So that’s who Korra was thinking of when she made her blue fire. The initial ordeal with Long Yumao filled her with anger and fear, and her emotions continued to swing almost untraceably as she witnessed the rest. Izumi was very happy to experience the Restoration, and she could feel her mouth open in shock at Avatar Wan and Avatar Garkan’s revelations. Once Avatar Korra got to her father’s confession about Azula, both Avatar Korra and Raava had to stop to let Izumi calm herself down from her hysteria. Izumi said, “While I think your relationship with Asami is beautiful, Korra, I could scarcely believe what my father was saying - Azula, hiding such a dark and dangerous secret for most of her youth! No wonder she was so twisted. I almost feel sorry for her now.”

Avatar Korra shocked Izumi by crying slightly and hugging Izumi, saying, “You’re right, Izumi - even Aang thought it was sad, and Azula technically killed him.” Avatar Korra sniffed, saying, “Let’s continue - there’s another villain who not only earned my sympathy, but came into the light much as your own father did. You should find this real interesting.” Avatar Korra and Raava resumed their positions, and at first, all Izumi saw was a censored blur after her father’s speech - apparently there was some secret to hide - and watched Avatar Korra’s interaction with Senna and Tonraq. As soon as Avatar Korra had to stop the talk with her parents, the point of view switched to a very different person’s - Kuvira! As Izumi watched Kuvira’s trials, she remembered the tales Zuko had told her about his own youth, and realized this was what Avatar Korra had said Izumi would find so interesting. Izumi felt a rush of happiness to see that horrible Kuvira doppler shattered, only to sink to the depths of despair when she witnessed Koh almost steal her face, and heard Long Yumao’s horrible designs. Aside from Bataar Jr.’s rejection of Kuvira, the rest was pure joy to watch. Given what she had heard of this odd new weapon for Avatar Korra and the tuber-vines, maybe she would get Varrick’s help with the battleships after all.
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Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #29 on: Jan 07, 2015 11:34 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Apparently, Avatar Korra and Raava had been able to read her thoughts during the process, as Raava said, removing her hands from Izumi’s back, “Those tuber-vines were intended for something exactly like that, Firelord Izumi. I hadn’t explained their purpose to anyone in detail yet, but I may as well now. I didn’t give just one gift to humanity, in the form of Asami’s pregnancy - I gave them two. The tuber-vines are inextricably linked with my own energy, and they have the ability to judge an individual’s worth, just as Korra and I did earlier. If they sense they are trying to be used as a source of energy or a technology like the spiritwires by an evil or unworthy person, they will shut down, incinerating the individual if the tuber-vine deems them evil enough. The Great Banyan tree will now incinerate anyone unworthy who tries to harvest it as well - I’m slightly disappointed no one has tried yet.” Izumi said, “That sounds great! I’ll contact Varrick, or I guess, Kuvira, as soon as I can with my battleship idea.”

Avatar Korra coughed slightly, saying, “The technology won’t come for free, you know - nobody but the United Republic army forces will receive anything without making some sort of concession, given that the URN is the nation equivalent of the Avatar - neutral in most disputes.” Avatar Korra added, giving a slightly angry Raava a stern glare, “Even if your tuber-vine failsafe works.” Izumi asked, slightly stunned, “What was your concession from the Fire Nation? I may as well get used to whatever condition you want.” Avatar Korra sighed, saying, “I had hoped to tell you during the conference, but you’re right - you will need to get used to this idea. To help stop Jinshu Kuangmai from re-forming the Earth Empire, in the process causing more spirits to join Long Yumao’s side in the Spirit Civil War and growing his already unacceptable strength, I need occupation troops from all four nations and elements to help mend what Kuvira wrought. Northern and Southern Water Tribe forces, along with any loyal Earth Kingdom troops and any airbenders the Air Nation can spare. A large chunk of this force would have to be made up of Fire Nation troops.”

Izumi’s mouth lay open in shock. So Avatar Korra wanted Izumi to send Fire Nation soldiers into what would likely be a bloody, protracted occupation that would claim the lives of many citizens of her isolationist nation? She was about to slap the Avatar across her face for this arrogant, extremely demanding request, but stopped, suddenly crying bitter tears. Izumi looked up at Avatar Korra and said, “I was about to slap you across the face for that request, but I stopped.” The nonchalant Avatar laughed, saying, “I figured you might have that kind of reaction - hence why I told you now, so you can think it over as we tour Republic City. I know Raava snuck in an image of the huge spirit blast - AGAINST MY WISHES, I might add, Raava - but I think seeing the city firsthand should help you realize some important truths. I’m not going to come out and say them right now, as I think if you come across them yourself, they will be more powerful.”

Izumi stood up, saying to Avatar Korra, “I think I know some of them already. I’ll just summarize: If this occupation fails, the Earth Empire regrows and Republic City falls, this time for good, it would not be long before Jinshu Kuangmai hunted you down with a very modern military force, likely using Varrick Industries and Future Industries technologies and whatever spirit vines he has stockpiled. He would imprison you, never to see the light of day again, or possibly kill you and raise the next Avatar as a weapon for his inevitable war against the rest of the world. Should every nation fall, the world would be plunged into darkness the likes of which haven’t been plotted since the days of Firelord Sozin, Firelord Azulon and Firelord Ozai. Spirit vines would be the Earth Empire’s Sozin’s Comet.” Izumi put her hands on her hips, satisfied with her answer.

Avatar Korra surprised her by sighing deeply, saying, “You are right - but also very, very wrong. The most likely outcome of the Fire Nation’s refusal is much quicker and infinitely worse. You have to remember, this occupation isn’t our only war - in fact, one is raging right now. The Spirit Civil War. You left that very important consideration out of your assessment. There are two doomsday scenarios. The first, which would result from the Fire Nation not helping keep Jinshu Kuangmai under check, is something we can control. Before Jinshu Kuangmai could lead his forces to take over either the Water Tribes or the Fire Nation, Long Yumao would have garnered enough support as a result of the imbalance caused by the Earth Empire conquering another nation to make even my own power and Raava’s irrelevant. Just as he said he wanted to do to humanity, a legion of Dark Spirits would help him usher in an age of darkness comparable to what would have happened if Vaatu had been victorious at Harmonic Convergence. This, oddly enough, is the brighter of the two scenarios - if we successfully heal the Earth Kingdom with your help and keep that very important item around Raava’s neck away from Long Yumao, his support would dwindle, and I could eventually hunt him down and kill him, just as Avatar Kuruk wanted to do to Koh the Face-Stealer.”

Izumi was terrified - this last part was somehow the better of two scenarios, and apparently hinged on a game of keep-away? Izumi said, “Avatar Korra, that thing around Raava’s neck. What is it?” The small teapot rumbled violently, knocking one of its strange clasps wide open. A terrifying voice said, “It is I, Vaatu - rightful Grand Dark Spirit! This is just temporary housing until I grow large enough to challenge Raava again, in, oh, ten thousand years.” Raava smacked the teapot, yelling, “I thought I told you to stay in there! If you come out one more time in the next 3 days, I’ll force you to watch Korra and Asami kiss!” The teapot howled “NO! I’ll be a good boy, I promise!” before the latch that had opened shut on its own. Izumi found herself laughing along with Raava and Avatar Korra, as well as Mako, who had finally come onto her boat. Mako pointed to the teapot around Raava’s neck, saying, “From what I remember from earlier today, it sounds like Long Yumao getting ahold of that thing would be very, very bad. Care to explain in more detail, Korra?”

Avatar Korra sighed, saying, “Yes - the most terrifying option. I call it ‘Sudden Death’. It all boils down to one simple fact. Even if we do everything perfectly and even get Jinshu Kuangmai to reconcile with his mother, if Long Yumao successfully challenges Vaatu for that weird ‘Grand Dark Spirit’ title, he will become unstoppable. With the ardent support of other spirits, he will be more than a match for Raava, I’m afraid. Long Yumao can become a greater threat at any time - he isn’t constrained by Harmonic Convergence like Vaatu is. All he needs is that little teapot, and humanity is toast.” Avatar Korra took a deep breath, clearly not wanting to deal with whatever reality she was about to tell Izumi. Avatar Korra continued, “This ‘Sudden Death’ option is why Raava and I, along with our close allies, will be working very hard to end the Spirit Civil War - before Long Yumao gets ahold of this simple little teapot.” The teapot began to rumble again, but it suddenly stopped, its occupant apparently remembering Raava’s earlier threat. Avatar Korra continued with a grimace, “That little teapot’s occupant is the reason why the combined conventional militaries of the four, no, five, nations will need to carry the bulk of the burden in the Earth Kingdom until Long Yumao is dealt with. Team Avatar and friends will be too busy fighting the Spirit Civil War to be of any real long-term use in the occupation effort.” Avatar Korra smiled slightly, adding, “Even when he’s tiny, Vaatu manages to be a menace.”

Raava and Avatar Korra began laughing very hard as Mako said, “I assume you will take this more seriously, Raava - the end of the world is nothing to laugh at. The only time any spirit or human aligned with Long Yumao could possibly take away the teapot containing Vaatu is when you’re in your little pet ‘human-y’ form.” Mako pointed at a furious Raava’s heaving chest, saying, “Perhaps you should just stuff Vaatu back into your heart, Raava? It’s where he’s been for the past ten thousand years, after all.” Mako met Raava’s increasingly angry glare with a calm demeanor, saying, “It’s true. And I’m not afraid to say it - I have experience with talking to power. I dated Korra a long time ago, after all.” Avatar Korra burst into laughter, saying, “You little liar - you were terrified of me! I still remember your little stunt, Mako. Your weak, almost fearful lie about our breakup after my memory was wiped. I may have been bi-curious at one point, but not anymore. That lie and Asami winning my heart is why I’m never touching men again.”

An embarrassed Mako said, “I think it’s about time Firelord Izumi saw Republic City. Come on, Korra - time to do the jets again.” With this, Raava apparently vanished back into Avatar Korra’s chest, as Avatar Korra’s eyes began to glow. Mako quipped, “That’s a much better place for that foolish spirit,” and much to Izumi’s surprise, Avatar Korra laughed - in her own voice! This wasn’t in line with what Izumi knew about the Avatar State. Avatar Korra asked joyfully, “When is someone going to figure out how to do this without bending? Woohoo!” Izumi noticed the other boat separate from her own instantly, with the stabilizing ice also gone. She watched as Avatar Korra turned the boat towards Republic City and said, “You might want to lie down in front of me, Firelord Izumi! I don’t want to roast you!” Izumi immediately hit the front deck, well aware of what Avatar Korra could do, and she heard a deafening roar of flames shortly after.

As they approached the city, Izumi could see the devastation that Kuvira had brought to it, even with her head barely peeking above the prow of her boat, her grey hair flapping wildly in the wind. Time slowed to a crawl as Avatar Korra and Mako took her on a tour of the city, Avatar Korra making sure to point out the damage caused by Kuvira’s Colossus before the spirit weapon exploded, and Mako making sure to point out all the places of his youth that had been destroyed.

Izumi walked over to what she assumed was a tuber-vine and picked it up, saying, “You’ve convinced me. Now, to just convince my people - that’s going to be hard. For seven years, I have preached the benefits of isolationism, and now I will be calling for war. This is going to be very difficult to pull off.”

Avatar Korra’s eyes briefly glowed, and Izumi recognized the figure in front of her - Avatar Roku! Avatar Roku said, his voice proud and strong, “I am glad you have come around, Firelord Izumi. After my thrashing of Firelord Sozin in the throne room well over 200 years ago, I never thought I would be helping lead the Fire Nation into a foreign war. When you address your people, Firelord Izumi, your father, Zuko, and your granduncle, Iroh, will be at your side, as will Avatar Korra and myself. I can only hope the quadruple celebrity appeal will help win the Fire Nation over. You have a unique opportunity, Firelord Izumi - you have the opportunity to help an entire nation heal. A nation that the Fire Nation hurt deeply during the 100 Year’s War, at that. You may want to ask your father for advice - my blood runs in his veins and yours, after all. Good luck.”

As Izumi gave a sigh of contentment and anticipation, the tuber-vine in her hand hummed “HMMMMM HMMMMM” while flashing a bright white.

End part 4
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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #30 on: Jan 11, 2015 10:55 pm »

Part 5: Conference and Conflict

Chapter 24: Idle Negotiations

As Korra had almost left Republic City and brought Firelord Izumi back towards the new addition to Air Temple Island, she noticed the sky was much darker than when Korra had left to go pick up the Firelord. Seeing Korra staring at the darker sky, Mako said, “It’s now 4:30 PM - but I don’t quite see how that would make the sky so dark. What’s going on, Korra?” An immediate idea occurred to her, and she didn’t like it one bit. Korra stopped, her heart racing, placing her hand against the intact pavement, scanning for any anomalous energy. She picked up one signature that made her heart sink and her gut churn - Long Yumao had finally managed to come back into the physical world! After giving only a short explanation to Mako and Firelord Izumi, she launched herself towards the Spirit Portal - apparently, Raava needed to refresh the block on the portal. When she landed, she crashed into a large, centipedal form, feeling some sort of sickening oil on her skin. Part of her wanted to scream, but she knew that would be a fatal move.

Bursting into the Avatar State, she kept a stony face as she bent two elemental prisons around Long Yumao and Koh. She maintained her expression, even as Koh began cursing at Long Yumao, saying, “Fool! I told you, if you want to get me any faces, we need to stay away from the Avatar and Republic City! Surely you haven’t forgotten that most of the city was evacuated.” Long Yumao hissed, “I don’t care if you want quantity of faces - I want some of this insufferable brat’s friends out of the picture! When this ‘Team Avatar’ is broken and their faces yours, then we can go hunting other, less powerful humans.” Koh let out a slithering sigh as he clacked his free legs together, saying, “Team Avatar is tight knit, and Korra is rarely away from the others for long. If I had known the Avatar was going to leave for a few hours, I would have pushed to leave earlier - I might have even been able to steal Asami’s face. Now we’re imprisoned! Korra is too perceptive, and your energy is far too obvious now.” Tiring of this banter, Korra remembered her request of Eska and Desna, saying, “I’m going to kick you two back into the Spirit World and refresh the lock on the portal.” She deliberately mumbled loudly, “It would be really bad if you two decided to go to the Northern Water Tribe.” Seeing Koh’s face change to that of a savage monkey, she could see her little ploy worked - they would be met with nothing but ice, soon to be augmented with Raava’s power. She tossed the two back into the portal, finally letting her stifled laughter out in torrents.

Her eyes still glowing, she refreshed the block on the Republic City Spirit Portal, figuring it would last two days or more. She felt a familiar surge of energy and her eyes dimmed. Raava, now standing in her field of view, said, “You may as well do to this portal and the Southern Spirit Portal what Eska and Desna did with the Northern Spirit Portal. I did not expect the seal to break so soon, but if you bend earthen barriers augmented with my energy and warning signs, there should be no further problems. Unless Long Yumao grows big enough to shatter earth or endless ice…” With that, Korra felt an energy surge, noticing her eyes glowing once more.

Korra bent large, thick walls around the Spirit Portal, making sure to cap the top physically. To her surprise, the beam continued through the rock unabated. Taking another deep breath, she bent up warning signs, using lavabending to carve characters into the rock. Korra created a door that led directly to the spirit portal, and began pumping her own energy and Raava’s into it - she didn’t want anyone but herself opening it. Taking a deep breath, she intensified the energy entering the door, spreading large, spidery white lines through the rock that pulsated steadily. Taking a deep breath, she opened the new door and closed it behind her, placing her hand directly inside the Spirit Portal beam, focusing on the Northern Spirit Portal.

Korra felt an odd rush, and she looked around, eyes still glowing - she had teleported to the Northern Spirit Portal somehow! Not wanting to take any time to ponder how she did it, she capped Eska and Desna’s icy handiwork, feeling it equal to her own in Republic City. Again, the beam passed through the ice, neither itself nor the ice breaking. Placing her hand on the ice wall, she smiled as she saw thick white lines spreading in the new Avatar-only door she was creating, her expression only broadening when she saw the lines jump and quickly spread all around her. Tiring slightly, she opened the new ice door with the Avatar State, stepped out, and closed it again, letting her eyes normalize after she did so.

Korra missed the cold, and took great pleasure in making an ice blanket and wrapping her body, savoring the chills it sent through her being. She heard a loud bump, followed by a smaller one and an eerie slipping sound and the clack of insect legs on ice. Making sure to move herself further away from the portal, Korra laughed as she heard what must have been Koh and Long Yumao cursing angrily, Koh saying, “That little twerp tricked us! I don’t like that - I want to be the one doing the tricking!” Long Yumao hissed angrily, saying, “These walls - they burn my skin! I’m done for today, Koh - your face-hunt will have to wait. I need to go warn the other Dark Spirits that follow me about this new little trick of the Avatar’s - I can’t afford any spirits being incinerated by this energy, or worse, turning!” Korra heard two odd whooshing sounds, assuming the spirits had left. Not wanting to be taken off guard, she placed her hands to the ice, searching - and found nothing.

After she had erected another barrier at the Southern Spirit Portal similar to the one in the north, she returned to the Republic City Spirit Portal, noticing that Jinora, Izumi, Asami, Mako and Tenzin were waiting for her next to Oogi. Jinora said, riding an air scooter to Korra, “I sensed an immense energy coming out of this Spirit Portal and projected myself to Mako, asking him what was going on. He told me that Long Yumao had come back into the physical world, and I alerted my father and Asami. We got here as fast as we could on Oogi, realizing we might have a fight on our hands about halfway here, but I can see you took care of that.” Jinora stared at Korra’s handiwork, running up to touch one of the thick white lines. “Wow - that’s Raava’s energy! But, not entirely…” Jinora studied the lines, suddenly noticing something Korra hadn’t - there were staring right at a large Earth symbol! Korra whipped up an air scooter of her own, riding around with Jinora, noticing the other three elemental symbols, in proper order, lining the sides. She placed her hand against the symbol for Water, and saw a familiar face momentarily - Avatar Kuruk’s! As she told everyone else what she had seen, she felt a familiar energy surge, her eyes glowing momentarily.

Raava, now standing in the middle of the group, said, “This is one of the reasons I had need for your past lives, Korra. Their energy adds to our own power in these barriers, and their humanity is the reason the lines burned Long Yumao’s skin and would incinerate any lesser Dark Spirit aligned with him that came into similar contact. He would have to grow substantially in power to break any of the barriers you made.” Seemingly anticipating Korra’s question before she could even ask, Raava finished, “Koh, as one of the world’s most ancient spirits, is not affected by the lines like Long Yumao is, but he does not possess the physical strength and size to break the barriers. Now, let’s go - I want some of that sake you yanked me away from earlier, Korra!” Before Raava could vanish, Asami tapped Raava’s shoulder. Though Korra was too far away to hear what Asami said with her ears, Korra’s bond with Raava let Korra hear Asami say, “Why don’t you just hold off on that, Raava - I have something special planned for Korra tonight, and you won’t want to be so drunk you miss it.” Korra felt goosebumps on her skin, as well as a wonderfully familiar feeling below her stomach - Asami had told Korra before she left that Asami was going on a “shopping” trip, and couldn’t wait to see what Asami’s plan was.

As everyone climbed on Oogi’s back - including Raava - Asami carefully took out a covered tray from Oogi’s saddle sack. Lifting the metal lid off, she revealed six large cold cups of tea and a big teapot. Korra noticed with hungry eyes that four raw portions of the last of the shark whale meat were also present, along with two portions of the vegetarian food that Jinora and Tenzin preferred. Asami pointed to the meat and tea, saying, “Someone who appeared at our party unexpectedly told me firebenders can heat tea with their bending. I won’t spoil the surprise - everyone else has managed to keep quiet so far. Why don’t you and Mako help us out, Korra?” Korra had to concentrate very hard to make sure she didn’t boil the tea away with her blue fire, and Mako’s first attempt at cooking the shark whale meat did cook the meat properly, but the surface was slightly blackened. Firelord Izumi reach out to take it from Mako, saying, “I always did like my meat seared. Thank you, Mako.”

Raava looked like she was going to laugh, but Firelord Izumi gave Raava a glare, saying, “I was telling the truth.” Asami gave Korra a cup that Bolin must have lavabended “Korra” onto, and ended up pouring about half of the tea into Korra’s large cup. As they all ate and drank, Korra felt her strength returning. Curious why Asami had given Korra that specific cup of tea, aside from the obvious, she told Korra, “I figured you’d be tired, so I put a much stronger tea into your cup. I got the blend from Zuko, who told me it was some of his Uncle’s blend.” Remembering how mad Zuko had been at the loss of even a mouthful of his Uncle’s blend the day before, Korra asked, “Isn’t that extremely rare?” Asami said, keeping a straight and even face, “You’ll see why when we get back to the party. I’m not spoiling the surprise now, not when we’re almost there.” Korra took a deep breath and let out a contented burp - she had just drank a lot of tea, and Asami had let Korra eat her shark whale meat portion. As everyone on Oogi’s back laughed, Korra noticed that they were about to land. Oogi’s landing was perfect - Korra was very glad that Opal and her clumsy beast, Juicy, hadn’t come to their rescue.

When Korra looked around for familiar figures, she was shocked - the handcuffs on Kuvira’s wrists had been replaced by looser shackles! Katara, Zuko, Lin and Su were animatedly talking with Kuvira, as well as an unseen figure, apparently in the middle. Intently curious to see what could have convinced Su and Lin to make this drastic change, Korra’s heart jumped when she saw the figure in the center. Korra turned around, grabbing a clearly pleased Asami by the hands, yelling, “Uncle Iroh! I can’t believe it - you’re here!” As some tears streamed down her face, Korra heard Uncle Iroh say warmly, “If it isn’t the two lovebirds! I was just talking with everyone else about Kuvira’s transformative experience in her visions and the Spirit World yesterday. It appears my dear nephew isn’t the only one to have had such a harrowing and rewarding ordeal.” Uncle Iroh patted Zuko on the back, saying, “Although my nephew never almost had his face stolen by Koh.” Both Zuko and Uncle Iroh began laughing, and Korra noticed with a smile that their laughter was very similar.

A stunned Firelord Izumi finally moved from her place, running over to embrace her father and then Uncle Iroh. Tenzin said, clearly confused, “How are you hugging Uncle Iroh? He ran his hand through my legs the other day!” Uncle Iroh laughed, saying, “Any spirit can choose to let a physical body either interact with them directly or pass through their being. Just ask Bumi - apparently, his little spirit friend, Bumju, finally let Bumi put that sweater on his body.” Tenzin’s mouth dropped open at the same time as Korra’s did - Bumi was here? While Tenzin asked, “Where’s my sister, Kya?” Korra slammed her palm against the ground so violently it physically made a crack in the marble, scanning for Bumi and Kya. She noticed with a start that they were both talking animatedly with her parents, and ran over to the group. She hadn’t planned on this!

Before she could yell in alarm and panic, she felt her body freeze for a long time, as though some internal force had stopped her only a short distance from her target. She remembered how Raava had stopped Korra in her tracks the day before, but this felt different somehow. Her eyes glowed momentarily, and she saw what must have been the culprit in front of her - Aang! He had a sad look on his face, and he said, “I know you didn’t have the best of childhoods to instill trust in you, Korra - what with your predecessor being behind the White Lotus treating you like a prisoner, keeping you from your parents. I am not proud of what I did, leaving orders behind to protect you ‘at all costs’ - it is one of my few regrets in life. Even though I had a family with Katara, at some fundamental level, I just didn’t understand how families worked. Bumi and Kya can attest to that. I had been raised by monks, and I turned out fine, and I thought that the White Lotus would act in a similar manner.” Korra noticed her mother and father, Tenzin, Katara, Bumi and Kya all standing near her still frozen body - apparently, Aang had waited to come out until all six were near to start talking. This just made Korra even more furious, but she couldn’t break Aang’s grip.

Seemingly sensing that Korra was trying to break his hold on her, Aang said, “Can you please resist the urge to ‘read’ Bumi and Kya? As a symbolic first step, if nothing else…You need to start learning to trust people, Korra. You can’t just run around, using your odd new powers of reading and infobending all the time. Would you try and manually read your unborn daughter? Pry secrets from her mind that she’d rather not share with you? Would you risk losing the support of the United Republic of Nations by insisting on reading a likely uncooperative President Raiko?” Korra could feel her eyes - the only part of her body that wasn’t paralyzed - start to water profusely, even though all her throat and mouth could manage to do was continue breathing through her nose. Aang’s image began to cry, saying, “I will, for the rest of time, regret my orders to the White Lotus, Korra. But regrets won’t fix anything. Even though I’m a spirit now, I still get the odd guilty feeling about how I ran away from the Southern Air Temple over 170 years ago. I don’t have any solid advice on how to learn trust, Korra - it’s just something I learned as an Air Nomad. You just need to have faith in others. While trust did leave me vulnerable at times - I have the feeling without Katara and Sokka at my side and my trust in them, I would have been swindled or tricked into the Fire Nation’s grasp.” Aang blushed slightly, as though remembering some unsavory detail. “In fact, my blind trust in people led me to believe some merchant that I met in a town on the way to the North Pole was telling the truth about a nearby airbender, when in fact he was an agent of the Fire Nation. He told me about a possible airbender in the surrounding mountains. I snuck off in the middle of the night to go find this airbender, not even telling Katara or Sokka. I was desperate to reconnect with anyone from the Air Nomads.” As Katara suddenly remembered this incident, she said at the exact same time that Aang did, “It was a trap.” Aang continued, not even cheered by Katara’s voice, “Admiral Zhao was waiting for me, along with the merchant and some firebenders with a net. If those fools hadn’t used actual Air Nomad artifacts to lay the trap, or at least removed the more useful ones, they might have succeeded.”

Korra thought to herself, “This seems like even more reason to not trust people! Why did you tell me this, Aang?” Aang could apparently read Korra’s thoughts just as Raava did, as he said, “The reason I told you this is because if I had relied on Katara and Sokka, and told them what the merchant had said, they probably would have convinced me to not go. This little incident, upon reflection, is actually why you need to trust in people, and confide in them without fear of hurt. I had to learn the ropes myself, without any help from Raava’s reading ability. Even if an individual is trustworthy now, they may turn on you later.” Seeing the confusion in Korra’s eyes, Aang continued, “Varrick is a good example - you thought he was your friend, but he stabbed you in the back. A more recent, relevant example? Take Bataar Jr. At first, from what Raava has told me of the events since I was imprisoned that you did not see fit to tell me, he confided in you about the Colossus’ weakness after Kuvira tried to blow him up with that spirit weapon. Earlier today, he seemed to unhinge partially, considering anyone who believes Kuvira to be a changed woman a fool or a traitor.” Korra, not sure what this had to do with trust, listened as Aang continued, “If you had read him before his altercation with Kuvira, as soon as you got back from the swamp, you would have likely gotten a positive or neutral reading - enough to share your secrets with him, probably on the recommendation of Su, his mother. Would you share your secrets with him now, Korra?” Korra felt her mouth unfreeze, and she answered, “No! I don’t know what to think of him now, and apparently his own mother has reservations as well. Even if Kuvira is a changed woman, Bataar Jr. still has a lot of unresolved issues to work through.”

Korra felt her body released from its strange hold as Aang said, “And that is why you must build relationships and trust manually, and not use this new ‘morality meter’ that Raava provides as a crutch. Human bonds and love that are maintained and taken care of, I think you will find, have a strength that surpasses anything being the Avatar entails. The Avatar State, Raava, bending all four elements - all useless if you do not act like a normal human and form proper relationships.” Korra felt a surge of many conflicting emotions from deep inside her - not Raava, not Aang, no one else but her. A vision that was all her own danced in front of her eyes - all her relationships with people, all those she felt love for - friends and family and Asami alike. All the trust others put in her as Korra and not the Avatar, all the things she regretted doing or saying…

She saw Aang smiling broadly as everyone around her took turns embracing her. Aang said, “Now why don’t you use infobending for a less serious purpose, and let everyone around you feel those emotions you just felt. Just let information flow, as does water.” Aang paused momentarily, adding, “Though you should still keep one secret. Bye!” Korra let energy flow as Aang had said, and as she did so, she could hear Bumi and Kya alternatively laugh or weep - in Bumi’s case, sometimes curse - as she let the information flow unfiltered, only blotting out the identity of Jinshu Kuangmai. Apparently in her intense emotions she had accidentally broadcast the information in the Avatar State, as she heard people reacting to events she had experienced since leaving to pick up Firelord Izumi. Feeling the need to perform some damage control, she projected out Aang, saying, “I need to go talk to some people. Why don’t you talk with my parents, your wife and kids?” Tenzin said, “That sounds like a GREAT idea! Let me get my kids and Pema over here. Unless you need Jinora, that is, Korra.” Korra shook her head, saying, “I need to go discuss matters of war, so the only airbender I might need is Opal. See you soon.”
Logged

Additional datapoints acquired. Additional animated stories viewed. Directive: adjust opinion... adjusting...
First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #31 on: Jan 11, 2015 11:00 pm »

(Continued due to character limit)

Just as she suspected, the brain trust was arguing among themselves, along with Firelord Izumi. Varrick was trying to negotiate what must have been an extremely steep price for a private, no-conditions deal for spirit weaponry for the Fire Nation’s navy, given the expression on Izumi’s face. Zhu Li was trying to convince a slightly reluctant Asami to use the tuber-vines for civilian power generation, Asami citing the potential for sudden power stoppage if an evil or unworthy individual deliberately started messing with the plant to sabotage the city. Zhu Li must have made some accusation that Asami did not find funny at all, since she slapped Zhu Li across the face, saying, “NO, I’m not concerned that limitless power will crash the price of oil or the lost profit on Korra’s oil find!” Kuvira was standing in a corner, her arms crossed angrily.

Korra approached her first, asking, “You’re not arguing with anyone - what’s the matter?” In truth, Korra just wanted to avoid the other four at all costs - she didn’t want to see an angry Firelord Izumi master blue flame on Varrick. Kuvira said curtly, “I thought we were supposed to be banning spirit weapons, not embracing them. I was fine with your little armblades, but this is something else entirely. Asami was even suggesting mounting them on her hummingbird suits, or some weird new planes she designed.” Korra could see this was going to be difficult, but likely not involve any yelling. Korra explained to Kuvira again how the tuber-vines were supposed to work, and seeing that Kuvira was still reluctant, Korra resorted to projecting Raava out. The small form said, “Hey, watch it! We’ve never projected both a past life of the Avatar and myself this far apart from one another before. Though it seems to be fine.” Raava turned to Kuvira, unexpectedly taking on her true form, and the larger spirit boomed, “I know you have regrets over your abuse of spirit vines, but I just want to assure you, these tuber-vines will be used for a good cause. Given what I know of you-know-who’s stockpile of spirit vines, it will be very likely that the occupation forces will be up against spirit vine weaponry - even if he can’t harvest any more from the Swamp. I imagine he will find out what I did to the Great Banyan tree soon, and begin experiments to attempt to grow more spirit vines.” Kuvira sighed deeply, saying, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds. I guess the spirit is out of the bottle now: if we don’t use tuber-vine weaponry, Jinshu Kuangmai will have a much better chance of winning, and inadvertently plunging the world into darkness under Long Yumao.”

Apparently sated, Kuvira said, “You will have my support in developing this technology. However, I just thought of a little flaw in the tuber-vine technology.” Raava shrunk back to her “new normal” size and scratched her head, saying, “I don’t see what the flaw is.” Korra didn’t either, so Kuvira said, “You said that you attuned the tuber-vines to your energy, but from what I know of Harmonic Convergence, that’s not entirely true. I’m not used to thinking spiritually, so correct me if I am wrong. Say humanity relies heavily on tuber-vines for the next ten thousand years, and Harmonic Convergence rolls around. Suppose that Korra’s far-future successor drops the ball, letting Vaatu win.” Korra and Raava grimaced at this thought, and a “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” escaped a now open clasp on the strange teapot. Raava’s grimace vanished, replaced by a predatory grin. She stuck her hand into the top of the teapot and drew a tiny squirming Vaatu out, saying, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Korra, bring Asami over here - I have a little Dark Spirit to punish.” Korra shot Raava an angry glance, saying, “I don’t have time for that right now. I’m too busy listening to Kuvira’s supposed flaw in the tuber-vines. Plus, it looks like Asami’s too busy fighting with Zhu Li as is.” Raava gave an angry grunt, making to put Vaatu away, but Kuvira grabbed Raava’s hand, stopping her from putting away the black and red kite. “Actually, keep him out, Raava - he figures heavily into the flaw with the tuber vines.”

Both Raava and Korra looked at each other - she could feel Raava didn’t like where this was going. Kuvira said, “In ten thousand years, unless Long Yumao strips him of his ‘Grand Dark Spirit’ title, Vaatu will be much, much bigger. If Korra doesn’t entrap Vaatu in the Tree of Time - that’s its name, right? - and seal all the Spirit Portals, he will be able to challenge Raava during the next Harmonic Convergence. If he wins - ” Vaatu let out a louder, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” much to Korra and Raava’s chagrin. Raava gave Vaatu a nasty glare and Kuvira coughed, saying, “Anyways, as I was saying, should Raava lose, I imagine the tuber-vines will switch, turning evil.” Raava and Korra stared at Kuvira in shock. Korra only managed to say, “T-t-that sounds about right. Vaatu turned other spirits into Dark Spirits in Wan’s time.” Kuvira continued, “While those tuber-vines will work for now, humans will need to develop a similar power source eventually, not dependent on spiritual energy or judgment.”

Raava groaned, stuffing a clearly pleased Vaatu back into the pot, giggling like a naughty little boy who had gotten away with something. Raava threw her hands in the air, saying, “That was the whole point of the tuber-vines: nobody bad can use them!” Kuvira continued, “If Varrick, Zhu Li, Asami and myself can manage to come up with a new power source that’s strictly human, there’d be another plus. In the event that the Avatar and Raava lose, humans will have beam weapons capable of hurting Vaatu enough such that something like what Jinora did this time around can happen again.” Raava was no longer angry, and she said rather calmly, “A failsafe does sound rather nice. Why don’t you see if you can get the rest of the brain trust to stop fighting, Korra?” With that, Raava vanished back into Korra’s chest.

When she turned to look at Firelord Izumi, Varrick, Zhu Li, and Asami, Korra realized with a start that they were staring at Kuvira and herself. Apparently, they had begun listening and stopped fighting at some point. Firelord Izumi said, pointing at a large lump of rock she knew to be the remnants of the ore Korra had raised from beneath the sea, “Now that we’re done fighting, why don’t you and Kuvira bend some of that rock into a mockup of Asami’s new designs?” Glad to actually bend again, Korra used the Avatar State to tear off a medium-sized chunk of the rock, removing the metal from the ore and forming two large sheets of metal. Kuvira stared, saying, “Why didn’t I just help you recover from your poisoning instead of becoming dictator, Korra? Had I got my hands on that mercury that was still inside you after Zaheer poisoned you, we could have just toured the Earth Kingdom together, restoring order when Mother Suyin refused, Korra providing a… moderating influence.” Asami blushed in anger, saying, “Hey, Korra’s mine! Back off!” Kuvira suppressed a laugh, saying with a snort, “I may have been into a rather feminine man, Asami, but my metal doesn’t bend that way. Anyways, why don’t you take those aircraft designs out again?”

Korra heard a large gust of wind and a small, excited voice saying loudly, “Aircraft designs? Military?!? I want to help!” Meelo dropped down into the middle of the brain trust, followed by … Bumi? This latest arrival’s much larger size and less refined bending knocked everyone onto their backs, and Korra heard an excited trilling. Some part of her brain translated it as, “Bumi never makes good entrances!”

While Korra was glad to have two goofballs to lighten the mood, Firelord Izumi was clearly not amused. She said drolly, fixing her glasses, “I know you were a military man, Bumi, but what does Meelo have to offer exactly?” Meelo said loudly, pouting, “My Mom told me earlier today that my self-portrait seemed more appropriate for Firelord Ozai. He may have been evil, but at least he was a man of action, which is more than I can say for you, Miss Firelord Izumi!” Firelord Izumi took a deep breath, letting out a small flame of frustration and said, “Very well, Meelo - you can stay. Just try not to get in the way, please.”

Meelo proceeded to do exactly that, pointing at the two aircraft blueprints Asami had gotten out during the commotion, saying, “Wait - you’re still using two wings? Why? Lemurs don’t have two wings, and look at how well they fly!” Meelo’s lemur, Poki, poked his head out of Bumi’s shirt and began flying around his owner’s head. Firelord Izumi said, “Poki can airbend slightly, sweetie, and airplanes can’t. That’s why they need two wings - to generate more lift.” Meelo surprised the Firelord by saying, “I overheard my dad talking with Bumi about these tuber-vines, and if you used one of those inside the airplane, I bet you could make something like this!” Meelo grabbed a surprised Asami’s pencil, drawing a very detailed, realistic looking airplane in the corner of the blueprint.

It didn’t look like any plane Korra had seen - or apparently anyone else, given how the brain trust was staring at Meelo’s small doodle. Bumi said, “I know I talked about having only one wing, Meelo - but what’s that weird pair of tubes near the … extra horizontal and vertical wings at the back?” Asami handed Meelo a blueprint page of his own and smiled as Meelo drew his plan on the entire page. Apparently, Meelo was quite bored when not flying around or harassing his siblings, as he drew a large assortment of what looked to be weapons “lying” in front of the aircraft. The plane was rather ugly but sturdy looking, and Meelo put the name “The Flying Hogmonkey” at the top of the blueprint.

Pointing first to the two odd, seemingly hollow tubes with what Zhu Li said was a condenser ring in the front, Meelo said, “Dad was talking about how Korra used her blue fire to send a boat flying around on the water’s surface. Seeing the blasts that Kuvira’s weapon made up close made me think - what if you let out a steady pulse?” Kuvira asked Meelo, “How do you know what a condenser ring is, and why haven’t you ever shown anyone your ideas?”

Korra heard an exasperated sigh from behind her. Everyone - even Bumju and Poki - turned around to see who it was. Korra said to the new arrival, “Hi, Tenzin! You done talking with your dad yet?” Tenzin said, as he grabbed a squealing Meelo, “No, and apparently, Meelo will need to have a talk with Grandpa Aang of his own.” Tenzin reached out for the blueprint, saying “How many times have I told you, Meelo - no war drawings! They aren’t fitting for an air bender!” As soon as she heard the words “aren’t fitting for an airbender”, Korra stood erect, her eyes glowing. She forcefully grabbed Tenzin’s arm before he could crumple the blueprints.

She said to a terrified Tenzin in a multi-voice that was seemingly missing one voice, “Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang, who just finished lecturing ME on trust - what are you thinking? Your words ‘fitting for an airbender’ remind me an awful lot of what Hiroshi told his own daughter, Asami, when he tried to control her! Do you not trust Meelo to be himself?” Korra felt an energy surge next to her, and she turned her eyes with fading light to see Aang next to herself. Aang said, pointing at Meelo while looking at Tenzin, “Son - you just recently released your control over Jinora’s love choices. Given that the forces of good are soon going to be spread thin again soon, the five nations need any advantage they can get - even if they are weapons designed by a nine-year old airbender. I think it’s time to let your son be who he really is - more like Bumi, less like you.” Before Aang could continue, Asami said bitterly, “I never figured you, of all people, Tenzin, to be one to try and keep someone from being who they are.”

In a combination of shock and what seemed to be remorse, Tenzin said through tears of his own “Ever since Meelo was a young boy, he always loved to play soldier. At one time, I let him draw his war pictures, but as he got older, his drawings became darker. When I caught him searching for red pigment, I decided that enough was enough. I should have connected the grumpy look on his self-portrait with this.” Tenzin held his son in front of his face, saying, “Meelo, do you forgive me?” Meelo laughed, blowing the tears off his father’s face, saying, “I don’t know why Grandpa, Miss Asami, or Miss Korra were so upset, but I do know I want to draw some more! Yes, I forgive you. Now put me down before I sick Poki on you!” Meelo’s lemur chose to land on top on Tenzin’s head instead and purr contentedly instead, making Meelo groan slightly. A laughing Tenzin let his son back down, Meelo studying Korra and Asami’s faces with curiosity. Meelo said, “Before I continue explaining The Flying Hogmonkey, I want you to ‘infobend’ me, Miss Korra. I figure there’s a lot of things that no adult will tell me - even my sister Jinora seems to watch her words when she talks with me. I don’t like it.”

Before Korra could refuse, Meelo added, “Plus, if you want these designs to be effective, I have to know what we’re up against.” Korra sighed, remembering what Aang had told her about trust - and what she had just told Tenzin about trust - and gave the little boy his wish. Meelo looked at Asami and then Korra after, saying, “So that’s why you two were holding hands! Don’t worry, I won’t tell Ikki.” A mischievous grin crawled onto Meelo’s face, who continued, “I figure I can annoy her more if I tease her that she doesn’t know as much as I do anyways.” He broke into a grin that rivaled Aang’s, saying, “Thanks for all the information, Miss Korra. Miss Kuvira, will you help me tweak The Flying Hogmonkey?” Kuvira said, “Before we do that, Meelo, why don’t you finish explaining what everything on the blueprint means?” As Meelo’s eyes glittered, Tenzin let out a small sigh that earned him a dirty look from Aang’s image, and walked away. Seemingly pleased, Aang’s image moved back to where it had been before the little teleport.

Meelo said, first pointing to Zhu Li and then to the odd, large condenser ring, “Miss Zhu Li took me for a tour of Mister Varrick and her’s boat after she finished hitting Mister Varrick over the head. She showed me all sorts of things, and I recognized one from my exploration of the Colossus’ husk the day before. She told me it was a condenser ring, used to direct a flow of spirit energy.” Pointing to what was apparently a side-view of the aircraft, “My idea is that a low flow on spirit energy is released to the rear, providing thrust that can be increased or decreased. This plane is supposed to be hard to destroy and fly low, near the ground.” Seeing that even Kuvira was staring at him somewhat blankly, he drew in what must have been the pulse on all the depictions of what must have been the aircraft’s engines. Kuvira said, “It’s a very good idea, but getting fine enough control of the tuber-vine’s power to do that would be very difficult.” Meelo said, pointing at Korra, “That’s where Miss Korra comes in! She can channel Raava’s energy into a stationary engine, and everyone else can take readings.” Meelo pointed back at the aircraft, saying, “With what Miss Korra infobended to me, I can tell that the extra armor I added to The Flying Hogmonkey won’t be enough. It sounds like Jinshu Kuangmai has a lot of vines.” Meelo puzzled over the design until Asami got an idea, saying, “What if we put spiritwire on the surface and led the wires towards the tuber-vine? It might be able to absorb the energy of a spirit weapon.”

Meelo drew lines on The Flying Hogmonkey’s surface, resting a finger over the weapons in front of the plane, erasing and re-drawing some. Meelo pointed at what looked like an odd circular honeycomb and said, “This is a Lipowder firework launcher. I’ll name them Meesiles. They launch from the tubes like a firework and have a Lipowder warhead that explodes when it hits. The plane can also carry bombs like the Equalist aircraft did. But those aren’t The Flying Hogmonkey’s main weapons.” He pointed to two objects that vaguely resembled Kuvira’s spirit cannon underneath the aircraft’s wings, along with a strange form in the aircraft’s nose that just looked like six holes. Meelo said, “The spirit cannons underneath the wings are directly connected to the tuber-vine, so they can fire longer pulses faster than Kuvira’s weapon. The six little rings in the aircraft’s nose are a Lipowder weapon that I thought up, but will need some help to make a reality. All I could think of is the barrels rotate in a circle, firing relatively large projectiles rapidly from a magazine like the thing Asami is making Miss Opal.”

Bumi picked up Meelo and said, “My boy, you’re a genius!” Firelord Izumi said, “This project sounds like it will take a long time and a lot of resources, from multiple nations. Meelo, I want you to come to the Ember Island conference with us all tomorrow, and present your idea.” Firelord Izumi paused, saying, “You seemed to have another aircraft design in mind, given your glittering eyes. Something tells me it has to do with my aircraft barges. Care to elaborate for us?” Meelo snatched another blueprint from Asami, drawing another, slightly different looking plane, as well as an odd, long line on top of what Korra assumed to be an aircraft barge. Meelo looked at the aircraft barge, made a funny face, and asked Asami for another blueprint. Meelo drew his version of an aircraft barge, one that more closely resembled one of the URN Navy battleships that had proven oh so useful. Korra said so out loud, making Meelo laugh and say, “You might want to revamp those too - they didn’t do so well against Equalist airplanes or Kuvira’s Colossus.”
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Freedom153
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #32 on: Jan 11, 2015 11:04 pm »

(Continued due to character limit)

Short post - beginning of next post contains a warning on content, so I wanted people to see it properly

Showing uncharacteristic focus - Meelo must have been really excited to finally be drawing “war pictures” after all - Meelo pointed back at the new aircraft, saying, “This plane - The Ferocious Lemur - is intended to take on air targets mainly, with the ability to hit ground targets as well. It has can carry bombs just like The Flying Hogmonkey, and has a smaller repeating spirit cannon in its nose. That’s not what is special about this plane, though. This plane would be best piloted by a metalbender, due to its main armament, but as long as it gets close to its target, even a nonbender should be able to pilot it. No offense, Miss Asami, Miss Zhu Li and Mister Varrick.” Before any one of the three nonbenders could say, “None taken” Meelo pressed on, saying, “The reason a metalbender would be the best pilot would be this plane’s special air-to-air Meesiles. They shoot forward and are guided by a long wire that a metalbender could guide with their bending, or anyone else could guide with a special control schematic that I don’t know how it would work.” Varrick said, after letting out a “Hmmm” or two, “Meelo, I think I know a way to make those missiles work even better. I’d need an extremely small camera, some kind of strong light source, and ‘fins’ on the missile, though.” Varrick drew his idea to the side of Meelo’s special Meesile. When he had finished, Varrick pointed to what looked like an eye on the Meesile, saying, “There’s a camera in the nose that sees a point of light projected by the aircraft - or maybe a projection of Raava’s energy from the tuber-vine. That would work better - Korra could ‘paint’ a target for it. Anyways, the camera helps control the fins of the rocket, guiding it towards its target. While Meelo’s idea could be implemented almost immediately with metalbender pilots, mine would take more time than we have currently to perfect.” Varrick drew a war balloon that closely resembled those Kuvira had used, saying, “Plus, if our opponent is this slow hunk of junk, we could just shoot it down with a spirit cannon. Given that, I’d say The Flying Hogmonkey should be given priority - its spirit cannons and Varrick gun would make quick work of any war balloons we come across.”

Seemingly anticipating Meelo’s grumpy face, Varrick said, “I’ll be the one to try and get the six-barreled Varrick gun working. I already have experience with lots of fancy machines. Speaking of machines - why don’t you explain that weird line on the top of your aircraft barge, Meelo?” Meelo’s frown vanished as he pointed animatedly to what he called an aircraft barge, saying, “From what I could guess, it sounds like the Fire Nation has no way of reliably getting their biplanes off the aircraft barge. A barge also can’t hold very much. This aircraft carrier would have below-deck storage for more planes, ammunition, spare parts, and crew. This thing would be huge!” Meelo spread his hands as far apart as they could go, making everyone laugh. He continued, “For power, it would need more than just one tuber-vine, or a really big one. Why? The weird line on the top is like a catapult, but powered by… steam, I guess. It would launch the planes hooked into it on top of the deck at a high speed, generating lift. A cheaper option could be to have an airbender on board, helping generate lift, but we aren’t exactly common.” Meelo made a show of his “rare” talent as Varrick said, “I think I know a better way - electromagnets! After I saw the electromagnetic pulse take out everything but the Colossus, I wondered if I could use a big pulse of magnetic energy to propel a piece of metal. I think my test run earlier today on the back of the Zhu Li shot clear through the wall and sunk an already panicked fisherman’s boat - he kept babbling about some huge, random blue fire that almost torched him the day before when Zhu Li and I picked him up.” Korra laughed, realizing this fisherman must have been who she nearly hit while mastering her blue flame.

Meelo said, “Think you can draw a gun based on that?” Varrick began doodling on another piece of blueprint, saying, “Tada! The VarriMag. If you want a big projectile, I think you’d need a tuber-vine power source. The piece of metal I shot was about as big as my thumb, and took a lot of power to shoot.” Meelo shuffled through the growing pile of blueprints, clearly not finding what he wanted. Deciding to just describe his idea instead of taking Asami’s last piece of blueprint paper, he said, “I think the URN battleships are cool, but they need an update. Tuber-vine power source, spiritwire coating to absorb spirit weapons or energy, some large spirit weapons of their own, a mix between Lipowder and spirit weapon anti-aircraft guns, and a single VarriMag gun.” Korra said to a confused Kuvira, “You never know if Jinshu Kuangmai will come up with a way to stop spirit energy of his own. You did say he was always innovating.”

Kuvira said, “I suppose you’re right. One thing from all this, though - we only know of three tuber-vines in existence, and I doubt we’re going to find a whole field of them any time soon. Care to project Raava out here?” Korra did so, Raava saying, “I’m afraid there aren’t that many tuber-vines currently, and I can’t make any more until the Spirit Civil War is over. You’ll have to be very careful in your use of them - at the very least they have regenerative properties.” Raava vanished back into Korra’s chest, and Bumi finally spoke, saying, “I think it would be wisest to use the tuber-vines we do have for research and development of the two spirit energy driven aircraft and the VarriMag gun. The best weapon system to actually power with a tuber-vine is the battleships - two of them. I think the URN Navy has already salvaged parts of the ones Kuvira sunk, and we could always take a ship from the Fire Nation Navy and outfit it with Meelo’s suggestions.” Realizing something she should have done long ago, Korra said, “Let me see how many tuber-vines there are right now.” Ignoring the conversation that erupted around her, she was shocked by the answer she got from her reading - there were almost thirty! Most were inaccessible except by bending multiple elements at once, and she realized this was no accident.

Korra realized she was beginning to feel tired, and told everyone else, “I just found out there are a total of thirty tuber-vines - more than enough to actually produce limited numbers of aircraft and a single aircraft carrier. I will have to access most of them, however - it appears Raava placed them in spots that only multiple people working as a team or the Avatar can access.” Seeing that some people had a confused look on their faces, she said, “For instance, one is located inside a large cavern outside Republic City on an old wooden relic behind a raging waterfall. A waterbender wouldn’t be able to access the waterfall, and an earthbender wouldn’t be able to get past the waterfall or bend the tuber-vine out.” Feeling her stomach growl, Korra said, “I’m starving, and need a bite to eat and something to drink. Given the look on Asami’s face, she does as well. We’re all out of blueprint paper anyways - Asami used the last one to sketch out Meelo’s suggestions on the battleships. I think I’m done for today.”

After she and Asami had eaten some good food that Pema had brought for dinner, drank plenty of water, they both saw the various guests off “their” private island. Given the gleam in Asami’s eyes, Korra could tell they weren’t going to bed just yet. Remembering what Asami had whispered in Raava’s ear at the Republic City Spirit Portal crater and her “shopping trip”, Korra felt the same wonderful feeling below her stomach again. As she brushed against Asami’s body, Korra felt sparks course through her own.
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Freedom153
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #33 on: Jan 11, 2015 11:18 pm »

Author’s note: the following chapter contains the steamiest material in the whole Book as it stands.

Chapter 25: Housekeeping

Korra knew that Asami had been busy while she was away getting Firelord Izumi, but she could hardly believe the mountain of stuff outside their house! Seeing that Korra was speechless, Asami just started pointing items out, first pointing at a large green box on wheels with tall steel spires sticking out the top. Asami said, “That’s a modified generator and battery that Zhu Li ‘bribed’, shall we say, Varrick into parting with. Lin removed the gas tank and bent those steel electrical conductors on top. Since you can generate lightning, we don’t need gas, and may not even need to be hooked into the electrical grid with this contraption - apparently, the batteries are very powerful, able to store a charge large enough to run anything for roughly 36 hours. They are something Zhu Li had been tinkering with on and off - she always did love chemistry.”

Korra picked up one of many lightbulbs next to this generator, saying, “Yes - I overheard Zhu Li telling Varrick that his antics with Meelo were going to cost him tonight. I assume these lightbulbs and switches were also Zhu Li’s handiwork?” Asami sighed slightly, saying, “Yes - and speaking of Zhu Li, once we get this stuff inside, I have something I want to talk to you about.” Not quite sure what Asami was driving at, Korra pointed to a very large obnoxious purple mat beneath the stash of housewarming gifts, asking, “Is that just a rubber mat, or do you have a use for it in mind later?” Asami blushed wildly, saying, “That’s not for now! Here - look at this wonderful bed Pema got Bolin and Opal to help haul from Upper Air Temple Island. It’s brand new, never slept on, and is apparently a luxury model.” Asami laughed before continuing, “Pema told me she caught an Air Acolyte making an overly profitable business deal behind her and Tenzin’s backs a while ago, and they kicked him out of the Air Acolytes. They kept the ‘excessive’ bed he bought with a good portion of his profit, using it as a display to teach the other Air Acolytes a lesson.” Korra said, “That doesn’t seem very fair - he bought the bed, after all.” Asami shrugged, saying, “I said the same thing to Pema. She just shrugged and said ‘Tenzin’s orders. Plus, I agree with his decision - avarice should not be tolerated, much less in an Air Acolyte.’ You can’t look a gift ostrichhorse in the mouth, though. It even still has the cloth covering it had in the store.” Pointing to a lump of blankets, pillow covers and pillows at the foot of the luxury bed, Korra said, “I assume those were confiscated as well.” Asami let out a sigh, saying, “Yes - I don’t think those airbenders are quite as virtuous as they think they are. And Tenzin’s treatment of Meelo didn’t exactly help that impression.”

Korra laughed at Asami’s quip, then pointed at what appeared to be a motorboat, bobbing in the sea where water met house plateau. She asked Asami, “Is that another ‘gift’ from Varrick? I hope you didn’t tell anyone what it was for, if you asked for it.” Asami laughed, saying, “Of course I didn’t tell anyone about your idea for a secret basement and water inlet! I actually bought the boat from Varrick - I managed to get a good price, since Zhu Li was staring at him intently.” Asami walked over and picked up a rug, and as she held it aloft, Korra realized with a start that it was of Water Tribe make! Asami could see the happiness in Korra’s eyes, as she said, “I figured you might like this. I got two more as well - I bought them from some of the Water Tribe soldiers that came to help defend Republic City. Jinora helped me transport them on Oogi’s back. We had to make multiple trips - I got more than just rugs. For some of the largest items, we needed Opal and Juicy’s help. While I was in the camp, I also bought a tea set from the shop in Ba Sing Se that Uncle Iroh opened, making sure to give the seller a good price. He was from a company of Earth Kingdom loyalist soldiers who stood ready to fight Kuvira, and he told me of how his family was suffering under Kuvira, and he needed money more than the teapots.” Korra ran over to Asami, hugging her lightly, saying, “That was awfully sweet of you. I assume there are similar stories behind the furniture?”

Asami put her hand on top of a solid wood cabinet, saying, “Yes - I was surprised by how many officers in the camp were willing to trade family heirlooms to feed hungry mouths. They were basically refugees at heart, even if they wanted to fight - Kuvira displaced a lot of people. We’re going to have our work cut out for us in the Earth Kingdom, Korra - everything would be so much simpler if it weren’t for that stupid Spirit Civil War!” Asami stamped the ground with her heel in frustration, causing her chest to move up and down. Korra shook her head suddenly - she noticed she had been staring in rapt attention, waiting for Asami to stamp her heel again. Asami said, “The sooner we get all this stuff in, the sooner you can see more of that. It’s a good thing you made the front doors wide.” Not wanting any further delays, Korra began helping Asami move items into the house, grunting under some of their weights, especially the wooden furniture. She made sure to bend the walls carefully to let them move in the larger pieces. Why couldn’t she bend wood again? Toph had managed to bend steel, after all. Anything with iron or steel in it was very easy to move, at the very least.

Asami pointed to the two remaining items - the strange purple mat and the generator. Korra used her metalbending to move the generator away from the house, and she had seemingly read Asami’s mind, as the next thing out of her mouth was, “Why don’t you charge those batteries up? Your extremely sturdy house without windows is going to be very dark without lights.” Using the Avatar State to save energy and make the process faster, Korra sent a steady stream of lightning into the coils, stopping when she heard a loud shriek from the green metal box. Asami said, removing her hands for her ears, “It’s a good thing I got Varrick to install an alarm in that thing - had you kept going, the batteries would have exploded, and there’s some pretty nasty stuff in them from what Zhu Li told me.” After they both went inside, Korra inserted the legion of lightbulbs into their sockets with metalbending, then asked Asami for assistance with installing the light switches and controls. As she watched Asami fiddle with the copper in the walls, Asami said, “You might want to use some of that rubber mat to cover these wires - I don’t want to accidentally touch one and get electrocuted.”

Noticing that the purple rubber mat was still outside, Korra asked Asami, “Is this thing coming in too? It’s too large to fit in anywhere.” Asami said with a calm voice, as though she were restraining herself, “That, you need to slice up, use to cover the wires and then put on the floor in the main room. I have something else in mind for it later.” Puzzled what Asami wanted with such an obnoxious purple rubber mat besides wiring insulation, Korra ripped a chunk off the remaining ore. She formed a blade she used to tear into the mat, finding the shredding satisfying. She made to toss the metal aside, but Asami held up a hand, saying, “Now that I think about it, you’ll need that metal later as well.” Korra shrugged, turning the metal mass into a ball and using bending to place it into a large ceramic bowl. After Korra covered the metal wires using her firebending and metalbending with Asami’s directions, she noticed there was still a lot of rubber left. Purple rubber, metal - just what was Asami planning, making a rubber mannequin?

Feeling tired, Korra joined Asami at one of the large wooden tables she wished she could have woodbended. Asami got up and returned with the tea set she had bought and some tea packets, saying, “If you go outside and purify some seawater, we can have some tea and rice crackers. I figured you might be tired or hungry. Here - just bend that metal into a jug, get some water, and let me do the rest.” Korra barely managed to manipulate the metal and purify the water without yawning. Seeing that Korra was in no mood for any hard work, Asami walked Korra through the steps to make some purple rubber tongs. Korra had no idea why she needed to make tongs until Asami asked her to make a small blue flame to heat the tea with. Korra smiled weakly as she saw what Asami was doing - she held the teapot above the flame with the odd purple implement. Korra was half asleep when she heard a piercing whistle - apparently, the tea was done. Korra withdrew her hand and crossed her arms under a heavy head.

Asami woke her later, saying, “Here - heat this tea again, and eat some crackers. It should help you wake back up - you’ll need to be wide awake for what I have planned later.” Asami patted Korra on the back as she heated the tea, saying, “You’re probably going to need to bend us a stove, or let me install one - I like to cook, and we can’t rely on your bending for food or drink apparently. You were exhausted.” Korra’s eyes opened wide as a wonderful energy woke her back up - apparently brought back in anticipation of this mysterious plan Asami had. As Korra drank the tea, she noticed something odd - it tasted sweet! At first, she wanted to spit it out, but found she quite liked it. Korra said, “That tea - it’s sweet! Did you put some sugar in it? I’ve never heard of ‘sweet tea’ before.” Asami said, after taking a drink of her own ‘sweet tea’, said, “I got the idea from the man who sold me this tea set - apparently, it’s some new sensation in Ba Sing Se from Uncle Iroh’s tea shop. The Jasmine Dragon! That’s the shop’s name. It’s supposed to give you a lot of energy, and you’ll need plenty of that in a while.” Not entirely sure why, Korra felt sparks course through her body again - the suspense was starting to kill her! She almost asked Asami what this plan was, but then decided not to - the wonderful feeling below her stomach had returned, and she figured it might vanish if she knew Asami’s plan. And she did NOT want it to vanish.

Once Korra and Asami had consumed two pots of tea, at Asami’s insistence, Korra remembered a comment Asami said earlier about Zhu Li. Korra extended a hand to Asami’s arm, caressing its form before asking, “You said you wanted to talk about something involving Zhu Li earlier. Care to discuss it?” Asami let out a sigh, saying, “Yes - I slapped Zhu Li when she was insinuating that I was against using tuber-vines for civilian power because it would make the price of oil crash, ruining the profit potential of your oil find this morning.” Asami took a deep breath, continuing, “I even physically fought with her, driven by some strange rage. While I don’t mind a fight with bad guys, afterwards, I just felt sort of shaken up about it. No, guilty is the better word.” Korra could see that Asami was truly upset - she even pushed Korra’s hand away so she could put both her fine hands to her chin, moping.

Korra pried Asami’s morose pose apart, put her hand on Asami’s chin and said gently, “Asami, we’ve all been through a lot lately, nobody more than me and you. Within a three day time span, you saw your father killed and your home city devastated, dealt with deep emotional hurt and a serious threat against your own life from a powerful spirit, found out that you’re pregnant through extraordinary means, that said pregnancy was the igniting event for the Spirit Civil War, found out that Toph had an evil son who is now in charge of the remnants of the Earth Empire, and found out Long Yumao’s horrible plan and the possibility of the end of the world - ‘Sudden Death’. The fact that you didn’t just whip out your electroglove and use it on Zhu Li after that rude comment says a lot of things about you - all of them good.” Satisfied that she had comforted Asami well, as was Asami no longer on the verge of crying, Korra continued with a laugh, “Plus, as we spend more time together as lovers instead of friends, I think some of my attributes will wipe off on you, and vice versa. That’s what my parents told me a committed relationship is like when I was little.”

Asami gave a contented sigh, happy to let Korra’s hand just lie on her face. Korra noticed a sudden rush of energy enter her system, and given Asami’s widening eyes, she must have been experiencing the same thing. After a while, Asami said, “You’re right, Korra - but I’m still going to apologize to Zhu Li tomorrow. About what you said about ‘lovers’ - you should have felt the same energy rush that I just did. Let me draw you a picture of what I want you to make using the same technique you created those tongs with. Given your sheltered upbringing, I doubt you will know what the items are, but that will just add to the surprise. After I draw the schematics, I will have some preparations of my own to make.”

Asami took out a pencil and a sheet of paper, drawing two odd forms that Korra didn’t recognize. Korra said, with a frown, “Those look like they’re going to be a lot harder to make than tongs, and you’re right - I have not a clue what they are. I’ve never seen those odd bumps on any object, and it might take me a while to make them.” Asami laughed, giving Korra a sultry look, saying, “You’ll know what they are for shortly, beautiful. You need to make two of the smaller ones. Just try your best - the only hint I’ll give you is you better make sure they’re smooth aside from the bumps. Good luck!” As Asami left the room sloooowly, Korra noticed her pick up an indistinct bag, then unbutton her jacket, letting it fall to the ground outside their bedroom door. As a shirtless Asami shut the bedroom door, Korra’s eyes darted around the room looking for some metal and the shredded purple rubber mat, her beating heart and the now intensified feeling below her stomach driving her on.

Korra’s first attempt at making the smaller objects ended in disaster, with molten rubber escaping the form and dropping onto the marble floor below, her earlier success with the wires apparently not counting. Asami wasn’t there to offer suggestions, after all. Bending a piece of metal, Korra scooped the excess rubber off the tile before it had a chance to solidify. Trying a different approach, Korra made a one-piece form using metalbending, carefully melting the rubber that had not fallen on the floor into it. After the rubber had cooled, she bent the metal away from the purple object, seeing that she had made a perfect copy of the schematic. She easily formed the next identical object, plopping it next to its brother on the wooden table. When she tried to make the next new object, she had to restart three times until she figured out she would need to use firebending to fuse the two halves together. While this technique succeeded in making the two halves one, she noticed that the border between the two halves left something to be desired. Remembering her earlier success with a one-piece form, Korra grumbled as she made the metal bend to her very specific will. Finally satisfied with the form, she again melted rubber with firebending into the form. Still hearing Asami shuffling around in their bedroom, Korra made a second copy of the larger object.

Korra grabbed the four purple thingies and brought them with her to the bedroom door, rapping on the sheer marble surface with her free hand. Asami said, “Just a minute!” and a short time later, she said, “Come in - I’m ready!” Korra opened the door and stepped forward, initially confused - all she could see on the bed was a bottle of high-quality sake and the flames of some aromatic candles at various points in the room. Asami said, “Close your eyes and hold out those three… thingies, Korra. No peeking or using your earthsense!” Korra obeyed eagerly, and as she took a deep breath, the aroma of the candles hit her. Seemingly as soon as her brain processed the smell, she felt an uncontrollable desire to… grab Asami’s butt?


Asami tapped Korra on the shoulder, and after Korra went through with her impulse - noticing that she grabbed a fur coat, much to her disappointment - Asami said, “You can open your eyes now, and given that sudden grab, I take it the candles are having the desired effect. But we’re not going to go through with those desires just yet - first, we need to drink some sake.” As she opened her eyes, she saw Asami was wearing a heavy fur coat, and not much else - wide expanses of skin showed below Asami’s shapely hips. The coat didn’t even fully cover Asami’s underwear.

Not wanting to spoil Asami’s clearly intricate plans, Korra joined Asami on the bed. She removed her own shirt as well as her heavy pants, leaving only her bra, underwear and underpants on - she always dressed warmly, even when not at the South Pole. Asami poured them both a glass of the sake, asking Korra to use her waterbending to cool the alcohol in the bottle and glasses. After she finished, Korra took a drink of the alcohol, making sure not to take too much - she had never tasted it before. At first, she felt as though someone had poured scalding tea down her throat and she let out a cough, but she soon felt a warm sensation spread through her being. Loving the combination of this and the other ongoing sensations, she made to down the whole glass, but Asami stopped her, saying, “Whoa there, stunning - given that cough, this must be your first taste of alcohol. You’re likely feeling as big a buzz as you need, or want - I don’t want a drunken Avatar in my bed, and given what you showed me of Raava’s behavior at the Avatar Party, I don’t think you want that either.”

Part of Korra felt like drinking the whole bottle, just to see what being roaring drunk felt like - Raava seemed to be having a lot of fun at the party. Korra gave her glass to Asami, saying, “I’ll have to see what being drunk is like some other time - we’ve got that big meeting on Ember Island tomorrow as well, and if I were to act like Raava did there, that would be very bad.” Asami laughed lightly, saying, “I guess it really is your first taste of alcohol - if you get really drunk, you have something awful called a ‘hangover’ the next morning, not more being drunk. Believe me, they aren’t pretty - I used to raid my father’s liquor cabinet whenever I was feeling down about his iron grip over who I thought was sexy.” Although curious what this “liquor” was, Korra asked, “Surely you didn’t have me make those thingies for them to just sit there. What are they for?”

Asami replied with a quick smile, “Later.” Korra groaned, irritated with Asami’s noncommittal answer. Asami laughed, saying, “I need to drink my own drinks anyways - it might take me a bit of even this high grade sake to feel a buzz, given my youthful indiscretion.” Asami quickly drank her own drink, moving on to Korra’s almost full glass, finally stopping after a third glass. Korra said sappily, “I didn’t know you had that rough a childhood,” making Asami giggle and say, “Not really - this is only slightly above what a normal person would take to get a buzz.” Korra felt an extremely bizarre sensation, and something told her Asami was lying - and badly. Noticing that her hand had crept onto Asami’s outer thigh over time, she realized with a start what had happened - she had sensed a change in Asami’s heartbeat subconsciously! Remembering Toph and Tonga’s “talent”, she couldn’t help but wonder if she was really Toph’s fourth child.
« Last Edit: Jan 11, 2015 11:25 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #34 on: Jan 11, 2015 11:22 pm »

(Continued due to character limit)

Author’s note: the continuation of this chapter contains the steamy material. Additional advisory for start of next chapter.

No, silly - you’re just really talented. Remember, even that scumbag Aiwei could read people. Now quit thinking and start… groping!

Quite sure what word Raava had intended to put last, Korra took her command literally anyways, which apparently pleased Asami to no end. Asami moaned as Korra’s hands wandered of their own volition, “I see somebody must have told you about foreplay, at least.” While still feeling Asami’s wonderful body, Korra asked seriously, “What’s that? I just started ‘groping’, like Raava told me.” Asami snorted, “Wait, what? I never thought a spirit would be teaching the Avatar about sex!” Despite hearing the word “sex” making Korra even more tingly, she continued running her hands over Asami, who eventually held up a hand, saying, “Now it’s time for me to return the favor.”

Asami pushed Korra aside, pushing her against the soft bed. As soon as Asami began expertly tracing her hands over Korra’s exposed body, Asami laughed, saying, “I never thought those stupid ‘dating classes’ would be of any real use. Prepare to have your mind blown.” Asami deftly placed her hand on Korra’s ear, and began tracing some invisible pleasure line. When Asami began playing with Korra’s heaving chest, she felt her eyes glow strongly. Asami continued, saying, “Oh my - the Avatar State already! You’re just going to love the thingies.” Korra wasn’t quite sure what could be better than this, but a disturbing thought occurred to her - what if she inadvertently bended and hurt Asami?

Aang never did it, and neither will you. More feely, less thinky!

Asami actually managed to make Korra cry “Yes! Oh, more!” with just her hands and adrenaline pulsed through her body. After Asami finished and Korra resumed breathing normally, she asked, still winded, “So now can I see what the thingies are for?” Asami laughed, getting up off the bed, saying, “I won’t tell you - I’ll show you. Now get ready.” Asami threw off her coat with a dramatic flair, and Korra felt a rush of blood in her head. Before she could say anything, Asami told Korra, “These undergarments are special - they have metal in them. I inserted the strips myself, not wanting to make Lin, Su, Bolin or Kuvira uncomfortable. Good, good - I see you have removed those stupid pants and started on the other remaining pieces of cloth between you and me. Now, bend these off, and I’ll show you what the thingies are for - real good.” Korra’s hands moved of their own, and she simply stood still, admiring Asami’s raw beauty. Asami chuckled with flushed cheeks, saying, “I never figured you for a romantic, Korra - I thought you’d just fly at me.” Korra gave a surprised Asami a big hug, relishing the feel of her skin again Asami’s - especially her chest, but not for the most obvious, lewd reason. It was what lay beneath that Korra found so pleasurable. Her heart was beating rapidly, a wonderful feeling gripping it tight. She felt the same sensation of oneness she felt whenever infobending Asami, but with undercurrents of a strong love. Some tears escaped her eyes from the pure bliss.

Korra felt a light thwap across her back after a minute or two, though it was clearly not made by a hand. Asami said, “Wow - you really are a lover. Mako made a big mistake, I can tell you that much. This is by itself very nice, but I want to use these thingies - and once we start, so will you.”

Asami was right - Korra did love the thingies.

Korra couldn’t even count the number of times she flashed in and out of the Avatar State over the next hour and a half, the spiritual power seemingly giving her superhuman stamina. Korra felt a wonderful, constant mix of love, lust, sparks - the list seemed endless. The time of her life finally ended when an exhausted Asami said, “I can’t do any more - I need to talk to Katara about the Avatar State, your stamina is just… mind-boggling!” Asami tossed aside the thingie in her hand, collapsing onto the bed. Remembering the earlier embrace, Korra crawled in beside her, wrapping her body around Asami’s side. Smooth, soft skin… warmth… as one. As she drifted off to sleep, she saw Asami’s jade green eyes appear in the darkness that engulfed her like a warm, welcome mist.

Author’s note: minor steamy material warning.

Chapter 26: Ember Transit

Even with the conference slated to start at lunchtime the next day on Ember Island in Zuko’s old family home, Korra had not dreamed one bit about the big event. It was all Asami, all the time, and Korra felt betrayed when she was woken up. Mumbling something about Asami’s body and her dreams, she heard a familiar laugh that got her attention immediately. Asami, wearing her fur coat and nothing else, said from the foot of the bed, “I see you had pleasant dreams as well. But, to business. We both need to wash up - you can’t go to the conference like that, all sticky from our fun last night. Why don’t you add in that basement you said we need, and we can wash off using purified sea water.” Korra felt like just sweeping Asami off her feet and starting last night all over again, but she sighed, saying, “I guess we can always do something interesting later, after the conference. I’m not putting my clothes back on until I have to, though - I haven’t ran around free as the polar wind since I was a little girl.”

Asami laughed, saying, “Who said it had to be later, Korra? Once the water feature is done, we can … save some time by washing off together beside it.” Asami gave her another sultry look that made Korra’s head spin. Asami smiled, continuing, “Korra - now it’s my turn to stare. Why don’t you start doing some really exaggerated bending moves to make that hideout.” A large smile crept onto Korra’s face and she leapt off the bed, relishing the freedom of motion, among other things. Korra struck her foot hard against the floor, the force shaking her body. Apparently, this is just what Asami had in mind, as she said, “Yeah - more of that, definitely” as Korra entered the Avatar State and processed the information about the rock beneath the house. Deciding to use her feet to earthbend - both for practical purposes and to tickle Asami’s fancy - and her arms to alternatively lavabend and waterbend, Korra set about the sweaty work of creating a cavern below.

Wanting to make sure that the water entrance to the cavern was hidden, she put great care into making the cave entrance natural-looking. Before trying to create the underground sea inlet, she created a hidden door on the floor next to Asami, making her yelp in surprise. Korra formed earthen stairs beneath, stopping them near a large bubble in the volcanic rock she had detected with earthsense. Korra used this bubble as the base for a large room, only extending it when she had to. Thinking she was almost done, she created a large chasm near the “cave” entrance for sea water to rush into and an earthen dock at the point nearest the stairs. Before she could break the barrier between ocean and the inlet, she got an idea that she figured would please Asami to no end. Taking a deep breath, she used the power of the Avatar State and her upper body strength to instantly create a marble-lined pool close to the water’s edge, intending to fill it with purified sea water. She made another smaller pool of a similar make next to it - a “hot tub”. Remembering her longing for cold, she created another one next to it, intending to fill it with cold water and ice when she wanted a reminder of the frozen South. She didn’t figure Asami would care much for it, but Korra didn’t really see the appeal of a “hot tub” either.

Satisfied with her work, Korra exited the Avatar State - though not likely for long, she thought with a smile. Korra opened the door in the floor, saying, “Come on! Get some soap and a scrubber, lose the coat, and come see what I made!” Asami’s coat hit the floor with a satisfying thump, and she ran off to get what they would both need to get clean, Korra watching intently as she did so. When Asami was deep in thought, apparently trying to find the scrubber, Korra snuck over slowly and grabbed Asami’s butt. Asami let out a small whimper, saying, “Just give me a minute - I can’t think when you’re grabbing my rear!” Korra removed her hand, looking around the room, suddenly spotting the scrubber - apparently, all her bending had hidden it under a fallen tile. Korra said, “The scrubber’s over there under that tile, but don’t move - I think I have some repair work to do.” Using a lighter strike this time, Korra did not sense any major damage.

Grabbing Asami’s hand without explanation, Korra whisked her down the stairs to show Asami her handiwork. As they reached the last stair, Asami asked, “Where’s the water?” and Korra slapped herself on the face - she had forgotten to let the sea in! Korra used earthbending to destroy the gap of earth between sea and interior, barely having time to react to the torrent of water that entered. She slowed the tide with her waterbending, realizing she had to take the elements a lot more seriously when doing construction. Entering the Avatar State as a precaution, she purified large amounts of sea water at the same time making sure the sea wouldn’t rush in with such violence as it had before, placing a lot of normal temperature water into the largest pool and hot and cold water in their respective tubs.

Asami pointed at the hot tub, saying, “I don’t know what the ice in the other one is for, but is that what I think it is? That would be perfect to get clean together in! Although, the hot water would make cleaning a little too fast for my tastes…” Before Korra could point out that they did need to get clean quickly, Asami wrapped an arm around Korra’s back, lying her hand on Korra’s bare stomach.

As they cleansed themselves together, taking turns on one another to make sure they didn’t miss any spots, Korra yet again entered the Avatar State at random times, thoroughly enjoying this mutual bath. Korra said, her eyes glowing and her voice quivering, “We’ll have to do this every night! Ohhhh…” Asami laughed, saying, “I’m glad you like it so much. It’s why I got you up at 6:00 AM - I figured we might be down here for a while.” Korra sensed a small alarm going off upstairs through the tile, her earthsense apparently magnified by the Avatar State. Korra said, “I think we were both clean a good while ago - my mind seems to have been hijacked by my body. What was that alarm I just sensed upstairs?” Asami stopped rubbing her back, saying, “I’m glad you can earthsense - that was my watch! It must be 8:00 AM by now, between your creation of this beautiful place and our excessive hygiene.”

Using the Avatar State for an entirely new purpose - to regain control of her body from whatever had hijacked it - and bending the soap off both their bodies with large streams of fresh water, Korra said, “We better get going - you said when we were moving stuff that everyone was going to leave the new island at 8:00 AM on the Zhu Li, didn’t you? I believe Tenzin set the time.” A panicked look jumped onto Asami’s face, who said, “Quick, get some clothes on and project yourself to Tenzin, and tell him we’re going to be late!” Korra ran upstairs alongside Asami, having no time to look at her, and threw her clothes on, almost beginning to project herself before Asami said, “Wait, stop! You look like a mess - here, let me fix you up, then you can help me!” Korra stood still while an undressed Asami fussed with Korra’s outfit and hair before handing Korra a Water Tribe comb, saying, “Hold onto this until I get dressed - my outfit is a little bit more complicated than yours, so you may as well contact Tenzin now.” Korra said with a wide grin, “I don’t see what’s wrong with your current outfit, Asami - it fits you rather nicely.” Asami blushed, seeing fit to give Korra one last bare hug before running off.

Despite the difficulty, Korra managed to stop focusing on Asami’s energy - among other things Asami - and concentrate on Tenzin instead.

When she projected in front of Tenzin who was standing near Pema in a distant corner of the ship, he began laughing, saying, “Your expression… You honestly didn’t think I expected to leave with everyone at exactly 8:00 AM, did you? That was just a number to keep you from doing… whatever it is two women do for too long. I know what I did with Pema the first night in our own house.” Pema blushed slightly, saying, “He’s right - plus, with that blue flame jet technique, we should be able to get there on time anyways. Zhu Li and I already assured Varrick no harm would come to his boat, and Katara offered to sit at the prow to reduce water drag with her bending.” Tenzin said, as though he had been thinking while Pema talked, “I think Meelo, Jinora, Opal and I should be able to reduce air friction as well.” Korra said excitedly, “You’re bringing Meelo to a war conference? Thank you for listening to me yesterday!” Before Tenzin could respond, Pema said, “Yes, he is - through no small effort on my own part. Meelo didn’t act very grumpy at all in our home last night, so I convinced Tenzin to let him go.”

Satisfied that everything was in working order, Korra said, “Thank you both so much! See you soon!” and began to end the projection when she saw Pema and Tenzin wave. Given the way they looked at each other before doing so, Korra wouldn’t have been surprised if they had been kissing in the secluded spot before she contacted them. Evidently, she had said so out loud, as Pema’s face flushed again, saying, “Yes - now go!” As Korra vanished, she saw Pema slap Tenzin’s butt with a coy smile on her face and a gleam in her green eyes.

When Korra came to, she saw Asami standing in front of her body, who said, “Quick, comb my hair, and help me adjust my clothes! We’ve got to go - I don’t know what you were talking with Tenzin about for so long, it’s 8:15 AM!” Korra laughed and stood up, placing a palm on Asami’s forehead, going on to comb Asami’s beautiful dark hair as Asami stood in temporary shock at what Korra had just shared with her. Korra was just finishing Asami’s hair when she said, “Wow. It’s so nice to be accepted for who you are, Korra - I just hope President Raiko doesn’t have a fit at the conference. He never really struck me as overly tolerant - just enough to win elections, nothing more.” Korra shrugged, saying, “So what if he doesn’t like our relationship? Given that Republic City’s core was destroyed three - no, four - days ago means he’s not likely to try anything stupid. Plus, after that lecture from Aang on trust and President Raiko’s less infuriating antics lately, I’m ready to be open with him. He had a statue of me commissioned for the incinerated Avatar Korra Park, after all.” 

Asami sighed, still not fully satisfied, saying, “Come on, let’s go. I’ll radio Varrick quickly and ask him where the ship is, and then you can do something to get us there quickly. Maybe the flame jets?” Korra laughed as Asami ran off, saying, “No - I don’t want to roast you! Some airbending will have to do.” After Asami told Korra the ship was parked right near their house, Korra grabbed Asami and used a large gust of wind to land on the rear of the ship. After lightly striking the ship’s hull and sensing where Mako was, Korra made to run off to find him, but ran into a form that had seemingly teleported in front of her. Korra looked up, saying, “Watch where you’re going, you - ” before stopping in her tracks, seeing that it was Katara! Katara whispered, “I figured I’d find you here. Don’t forget - we need to meet Ty Lee if you want to learn to block someone’s bending without resorting to Amon’s method.” Returning to a normal voice, she finished “Plus, Asami will want to talk to them both - maybe you could even infobend some of their expertise to Asami and yourself, given the fact that neither one will be up to physically demonstrating. If they refuse, just offer to tell them about Azula - that should get their cooperation.” Katara walked towards the prow of the ship, whistling innocently in a way that made Aang laugh in Korra’s head.

While Korra would have loved to watch the other benders in action, given that she was the Avatar and the main source of propulsion on the ship, she couldn’t. Once Mako joined Korra at the rear of the ship and everyone else was ready, they began shooting massive jets of flame. Asami sat watching her in a chair with sunglasses on, periodically yelling “Stop! Mako, Korra, switch - food and water break!” While Korra drank some tea that Uncle Iroh had somehow made - she still didn’t get this whole “human spirit in physical world” thing - and ate some meat on a piece of ricecake, Mako took over temporarily until Korra felt stronger again. Before she could relieve him so he could eat, she felt a familiar surge of energy, and the little white rascal in front of her said, “As I become more human-y, strange things happen. Just go with it.” When Raava returned to her, Korra heard her intone You’re going to find more and more odd things happening - my front row seat last night and this morning just accelerated changes already happening. Korra laughed loudly, causing Mako to drop his jets and ask, “What’s wrong, Korra? What did Raava say?” Korra said, taking Mako’s hand and then “assisting” him off the platform, “It’s none of your business.” Despite her better judgment, Korra said, “You had your chance,” making Asami snort and spill some of her tea while laughing. Mako surprised Korra by saying, “I think I know what you’re talking about, and I’m fine with it. I’m sure I’ll find someone someday.”

Korra took up her position on the back of the boat and began letting loose torrents of Avatar State powered blue flames. She nearly lost control of the flames when she heard a woman say, “Maybe sooner rather than later - fire and steel mix well!” Asami burst out laughing and given the wet splash and sound of breaking china that followed, Mako must have thrown a teacup at this unseen person. Mako yelled back, “Whatever, Kuvira. I’m not attracted to you in the least, change or no change! Now go back to wherever you came from so I can eat!” Korra snorted loudly, this time losing the flame for good - the same truthsense she had with Asami last night told her Mako was lying! Thankfully, no one but her knew about this new truthseer ability and Asami just laughed it off, apparently remembering Mako and Kuvira’s blushing from the previous day. Just as she thought she could resume powering the Zhu Li, she spotted two figures coming up the ramp. When they both saw the shattered teacup and liquid around it, they both cried “I know you’re not supposed to cry over spilled tea, but… it’s just so sad!” in unison. Just adding to Korra’s confusion, the two figures - Zuko and Uncle Iroh - hugged each other while… crying?
« Last Edit: Jan 11, 2015 11:26 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #35 on: Jan 11, 2015 11:24 pm »

(Continued due to character limit)

Sick and tired of all this weird crap, Korra stormed over to the two and forcefully projected Raava out, saying, “I DEMAND a better explanation for these two being able to hug than ‘more and more odd things happening!’ I can’t do my job as Avatar properly when I have no clue as to what’s going on, and all this constant change is making me crazy! Spirits coming into the physical world, new airbenders - that I can handle! But Uncle Iroh being able to hug his nephew in the physical world flies in the face of everything I’ve ever learned, much less Iroh being able to cry!”

Given the look on Raava’s face - it closely resembled that of a really angry Katara - she was about to launch into a tirade, but before she could do so, a huffy Varrick bowled Zuko, Uncle Iroh and Raava over. His face was beet red, and he yelled, “I’m the owner of this vessel, and I order you all to shut your yaps! Do you want me to turn the actual engines on so you useless oafs can keep having your deep and meaningful interruptions, or would you mind actually doing your job and shoot fire off the back of the ship! I give you two one job, Mako and Korra, and we’ve been stationary for the last 5 minutes!” Raava got up and swelled to her normal size and boomed angrily at Varrick, “Oh, I’m sorry that the Avatar and the most powerful spirit in the world have a slight conflict over the very nature of the world and that she cannot power your boat properly! I’ll make a note that I need to start personally removing your calluses if you’re so important, Varrick.” Varrick’s face was now a beet purple and he ran off screaming, “Zhu Li! Zhu Li! Save me, Raava’s gone mental! AAAAAAH!”

Having apparently vented her anger, Raava returned to normal size, and said, “Iroh’s tears are not physical - they are just things you mortals see as a communication of his feelings.” Zuko said, “Look at my chest. See the wet? Does that look like fake tears to you?” A clearly nervous Raava said, “I’m sure those are your own tears, Zuko. It’s just not possible, and no big deal. Why don’t you demonstrate for us, Uncle Iroh?” Uncle Iroh gave Raava a skeptical look, then laughed, saying, “What are you, crazy? I can’t laugh on demand!” Zuko placed a hand on Uncle Iroh’s shoulder, saying, “I can think of one thing you don’t know that will make you cry. Korra and Mako, come over here - we’re going to need triple proof to convince Raava something is different.” Korra knew the one thing that could make Uncle Iroh cry as if tea had just been banned or it turned out the Fire Nation had won the 100 Year’s War after all. Zuko began telling Uncle Iroh about Azula’s tale of woe, and as soon as his uncle started crying profusely, Zuko placed one hand on Uncle Iroh’s back and one to the side. Zuko said, “Okay, now - Korra, Mako, place your hands under my Uncle’s teardrops and see if they interact with you.”

Uncle Iroh was too deep in his sorrow to mind, so Korra placed her hand underneath Uncle Iroh’s face, and to her shock, not only did a tear rest on her hand, it made her skin glow as if it were an Airbender Avatar’s tattoo! When Zuko did the same, Korra’s mouth fell open - the tear did the exact same thing! When Mako put his hand in the path of now subsiding tears, the tear interacted with his hand, but no glowing happened.

Raava was in complete, total shock, and she yelled, “Jinora! Tenzin! Come here - we have a problem!” Three figures came racing up the stairs - apparently, Opal had come along with them. Raava explained what had happened with Uncle Iroh’s tears, and given the look on Tenzin’s face, he was completely stumped. Mako, content his part in this was over, began propelling the Zhu Li again, and Korra could hear Varrick cheering at the head of the boat. As they moved, Raava finally managed to say, “This is… unprecedented. I’m not going to ask you to cut Uncle Iroh with a knife to see if he bleeds, but the tear’s behavior is something I have never seen in ten thousand years.” Zuko said, while hugging his sad uncle tightly, said, “The tears only produced glowing on my own hands and Korra’s. I expected something interesting to happen when the tear hit Korra’s hand, given she is the Avatar, but I have barely any idea why it would glow on my hand.” Raava said, “Barely any idea is better than no idea at all. Speak up.” Zuko replied, “My best guess is since I had an extremely close bond with Uncle Iroh during my lifetime, that is why my skin glowed as well. I’ve heard the word ‘humanity’ bandied around quite a lot lately.” Uncle Iroh removed his nephew’s grasp and said, “I was closer to Zuko than his own father. I do not think it is familial, however - if Azula were alive, my tears might burn her.” Uncle Iroh shook his head, saying, “No, no, I shouldn’t joke like that. It is not nice. Wait… there is someone else aboard who knew me well, but not as much as my nephew, obviously. Katara! Come here, we need your help!”

Katara came as fast as she could, and Korra overheard Varrick yell, “Dagnabbit! Not again! I just lost the airbenders. Get back here and make us go faster, Katara!” followed by a loud slap that must have been from Zhu Li, given how he screamed, “Go do your thing Katara, I don’t mind!”. After Raava explained what happened, seeing that Uncle Iroh was already sad, Katara did something Korra didn’t think would work - she picked up some of Uncle Iroh’s tears off the deck! When she placed a tear blob against her skin, it only glowed slightly. Zuko’s eyes opened, and he said, “I think this odd event has to do with that,” pointing to Raava’s human-y form. Raava said angrily, “Call me by name, at least! But what do you mean? Wait a minute…” Raava studied her small hands, felt her face, and played with her snow-white hair. “I think I get it now. With Korra and others as guides, I have become increasingly human, and any spirits aligned with me must be doing the same. I need to do an experiment. Get me Bumi and Bumju! On second thought, just Bumju - Bumi isn’t going to like this.”

Once Bumju had flown over, happily trilling, Raava’s face took on a darker due as she said, “My little quip about cutting Iroh earlier? I’m afraid that may be what we need to do here. Korra, I want you to talk to and re-assure Bumju, then use a piece of metal to make a small incision. I don’t think we’ll be able to get Bumju to cry - he’s too darn happy!” Korra felt a queasy feeling in her stomach as she bent a fork into a scalpel, holing it behind her back while she explained to Bumju what was going on in spirit-speak. Much to her surprise, he trilled loudly when she was done, which her brain translated as If Raava needs me, I am happy to help.

With her hesitation evaporated, she made a small cut on Bumju’s leg. At first, it didn’t bleed, but to her shock, after about 15 seconds, a single, small drop of red blood appeared. After Korra felt Raava return to her body, her eyes began glowing. Korra found that she could actually manipulate the blood! She bent it onto her arm and the drop produced a glow much larger in diameter than Uncle Iroh’s tear had, with Bumju’s status as first and only spirit convert apparently making him very close to Korra and Raava.

Before Korra could test Bumju’s blood on anyone else, Katara let out a delayed scream, saying, “Did you just BLOODBEND a spirit’s blood without any formal training in the Avatar State? What… How? Hama had to practice for years under a full moon, situation forced me to learn quickly, and the Yakone family had nasty talent on their side!” Katara shook her head violently, saying, “After we’re done with this issue, I want you to try and bloodbend someone.” After the shocked gasps around her, Korra figured the fireferret was out of the bag, and explained Katara’s offer - though not where they would have trained. Suddenly remembering she forgot to put in a moon roof in the basement, Korra realized she likely didn’t need it after all. Korra’s eyes glowed momentarily, and Raava’s form returned to the deck.

Tenzin said, “My offer still stands, Korra. But we have to figure out what in the blazes is going on here first. Anyone got an idea, past ‘Raava is more human-y’? That doesn’t seem sufficient to me, otherwise Uncle Iroh would have been crying at the party last night.”

A bizarre idea occurred to Korra, and apparently Raava read her mind, as she said, “Well, in case anyone hadn’t just inferred this already, last night Asami and Korra consummated their relationship, shall we say. If I am learning human-y things from Korra, perhaps this shared experience was enough to effect this change.” Uncle Iroh shook his head, saying, “Early, early this morning, at about 4:00 AM - I don’t need to sleep as a spirit - I dropped a teacup while trying to make some tea, and I picked up the pieces. One of them hit my finger in such a way that it should have made a cut in my skin if I were alive, but it didn’t. Korra, let me see that scalpel.” Uncle Iroh took the blade’s edge and ran it along the palm of his hand in a short line. He actually yelped in pain, saying, “What is this? I’m bleeding! I can understand Bumju, the first spirit to join Raava’s side in the Spirit Civil War - but me, a human spirit? I know I’m aligned with Raava, but…” Uncle Iroh’s eyes opened wide, and he said, “I felt a very odd pulse of energy earlier today - before getting on this boat. Something tells me Avatar Korra was too busy to notice it.”

Uncle Iroh turned to face the three present airbenders, asking, “Did any of you feel an odd pulse of energy?” Opal’s eyes widened so big they looked like a child’s finger would fit in the pupil, and she said, “The new Spirit Portal! It must have strengthened the link between the spirit and physical world, and given what’s happened, considerably. I got airbending a week or two after Harmonic Convergence. Jinora, did you notice any odd energy pulses between the end of Harmonic Convergence and the first new airbenders?” Shaking her head side to side, Jinora said, “I was still too drained after the fight to feel any energy, and my dad still had some emotional blocks at the time - our problems didn’t start with Kai.” Opal said, with a shocked look on her face, “So that means we have no idea what else this new Spirit Portal has in store. I can’t possibly see who would get bending - it’s not like Republic City is closely associated with airbenders. The colony upon which it was founded was a mix of earthbenders and firebenders, and there’s plenty of them around.”

Tenzin said, with a final air, “Well, looks like we have our answer - a combination of Raava becoming more human-y, and a pulse of the new Spirit Portal’s energy. I felt something this morning as well, but thought nothing of it.” Clearly not done, Raava held up a hand, and said, “It sounds like we need to make every effort to close this Spirit Civil War, and quickly. There’s no telling what the next, likely final pulse from the new Spirit Portal will do. I also have a confession to make - about my increasingly human-y nature.” Raava took a deep breath, saying, “So far, apart from small actions, nothing has moved in the Spirit Civil War. I have the belief that this is due in large part to my increasing humanity - it acts as a sort of neutralizer, possibly, against Long Yumao’s forces. So far, no minor Dark Spirits have managed to get out into the physical world - even before your new caps on the portals, Korra. Given the increasingly unpredictable nature of the physical and spirit worlds, I do not know if even those will stand the test of time. If the Republic City Spirit Portal does something unexpected, Dark Spirits could pour forth from it.” Raava turned to face Jinora, saying, “This is why your mission is of utmost importance, Jinora. If you can, you will want to bring Kai with you - the spirits aligned with Long Yumao hate human relationships, much less romantic ones, and even your young one with Kai may prove useful as an additional deterrent.”

Chapter 27: Trial by Fire

Jinora’s face blushed slightly, and she took a deep breath, apparently projecting herself somewhere, but given her smile, it must have been near. How near became apparent a moment later when a box on the starboard side burst open in a blast of air. A thick burlap bag in the center opened, revealing none other than Kai. Tenzin pointed at him, saying, “I know what Aang told you about trust, but I’m overriding my father. You need to read him!” At first Korra wanted to object, but Jinora shrugged and said, “I don’t see why not.” Kai blasted over, apparently having heard Tenzin, said, “Yeah - I’ve got nothing to hide, Tenzin.” Shockingly enough, Korra’s truthsense did not raise any red flags - but then again, she wasn’t too experienced with it, and Azula had managed to fool Toph.

Kai ran over to Raava, poking her small form, saying, “Who is this? Never seen her before.” Raava said as she slowly grew to a size larger than Korra, “Your girlfriend, Jinora, may have told you about me - I am Raava, one of the most powerful spirits in the universe, spirit of… well, I don’t know exactly what anymore, but rest assured I really like humanity.” Kai said, pointing back and forth between Jinora with a shocked expression on his face, “Wait… that’s who you saved during Harmonic Convergence? Jinora, sorry for all those times I yawned when you told me about her - she looks awesome!” Kai looked at Raava, asking her, “Just curious - are you good with killing people? Cause that’s been a conflict between me and Jinora before - her father yelled at me for trying to hurt some people hunting airbison.”

Raava shrunk back down to her smaller form, laughing, “Yes, I am definitely cool with killing people - why, I even rigged the regrown Great Banyan tree with a boobytrap that will incinerate anyone who tries to cut it!” Before Kai could ask anything else, Jinora said, “That, I’m more than okay with. My father, Korra and Opal have gotten me to see taking life in a different light since the last time I talked with you, Kai. Remembering how cute those baby airbison were, and what that awful man wanted to do with them, I might have just stolen his breath.” Opal grabbed Jinora’s shoulder and said, “High five!” Raava and Kai joined in the celebratory gesture. Tenzin just shrugged, saying, “My nine-year old son designing war machines and my daughter willing to kill to protect airbison - they aren’t much different than Sokka or Aang, I guess.”

Raava’s contact with Kai’s hand had apparently been all she needed for a read, as she said, “Read completed. While Kai’s past antics are despicable, it does appear as though he has changed enough to be trusted. His experience with Tenzin’s judgment has had the same effect on him as it did Jinora. I also liked his righteous fury at the airbison hunter - it reminded me of the fury Korra produced her first blue flames with. If Korra sees fit to share her deepest secrets with Kuvira, Kai is no problem.” Everyone began laughing loudly, with Kuvira’s yell of “I heard that!” barely audible. Kai ran over to Korra, saying, “What’s this about blue fire, and Kuvira? Did she pull a Zuko?” Zuko laughed, saying, “Her transformation was more dramatic and sudden than my own, but I don’t think the world will buy the ‘I-changed-so-let-me-free’ ploy.” A figure used bending to ride the Zhu Li’s rails like a railroad and land near the group, managing to stay balanced despite having shackles around her wrists.

Kuvira said, “While Korra infobends Kai, I have something to say about just that. I imagine that President Raiko will be very hard on me at the conference - not many people know I will be in attendance.” Korra heard the sounds of running footsteps, a voice she recognized as Lin saying, “Get back here - you’re not supposed to just run off without telling me or ‘Mother Suyin’ why!” While Su did have a frown on her face, it was much softer than the one she had worn while dragging Kuvira away from the Spirit Portal to a wooden cage what seemed like an eternity ago.

Seeing that Kai couldn’t wait any longer, Korra began pumping information into him, editing out the identity of Jinshu Kuangmai, along with the details of what happened between her and Asami last night and this morning. Kai, being perceptive, noticed the second censoring, saying, “Aw, come on - that was the best part, and you blacked out everything after you made those … thingies! I know their name, but I’m not gonna tell you until you show me the rest.” Kai crossed his arms, looking away, and Korra laughed, saying, “Uh-uh - you’re going to have to wait until you’re older to do anything like that, and you have to win Jinora’s hand first anyways!” Kai laughed, saying, “Asami got you in less than one night, but I think Jinora’s going to be much tougher.” Korra’s face flushed in anger, though not at Kai, saying, “Hey, it’s not Asami’s fault it was so quick - she couldn’t even make any real advances on me!” Feeling a familiar hand on her back, Asami’s beautiful voice said, “Relax, Korra - it’s not as if Kai hasn’t been without his own trials in love-related matters. Plus, he’s only … uh, I don’t know how old you are, Kai - but I do know you’re young enough that you aren’t supposed to know the thingies’ name.” Kai shrugged, saying, “Hey - I found a whole box of them once while stealing to live, label and all. You wouldn’t believe what people have in their houses!” Seeing that Tenzin was giving him a dirty look, Kai said, “I think I am 13, but given that I’m an orphan, I don’t know,” looking down at the ground with sunken eyes.

Kuvira, apparently having heard Kai say the words “I’m an orphan”, ran over and whisked him off the ground, saying, “I’m an orphan too! Mother Suyin adopted me when I was eight years old. I don’t know how much Korra showed you, but I have an even more mixed past than you do.” Kai struggled to escape Kuvira’s strong grip, saying, “Ouch, let me go!” Once Kuvira let him back down, Kai continued, “I don’t need Korra to show me a bunch of images and thoughts to know you have a mixed past, Kuvira. The best thing I can say about your campaign over the past three years is you didn’t try and weaponize airbenders.” Kai took a deep breath, as though he intended to continue, but stopped when he saw Kuvira looking at the deck in deep shame. Kai used the air to blow a big blast in Kuvira’s face, followed by, “Hey, cheer up, Kuvira - I saw what you went through three days ago. Korra made sure that part was especially detailed. It looks like Mother Suyin wants to speak with you.”

Su turned to Kai, a broad smile on her face, saying, “One orphan, two orphans - why not? Kai, you want a family?” Kai didn’t take Su seriously at first, prompting her to say, “You called me Mother Suyin, and that gave me an idea - why not give you what you really need? Zaofu, my home, is a beautiful city - though I fear Jinshu Kuangmai may make it his base of operations.” This terrifying possibility caused Su to withdraw her hand from Kai’s face. Opal let out a snort, saying, “If I were you, I’d stay away - the Beifongs have been a dysfunctional family since Toph’s time. Did Korra show you what happened to Bataar Jr.?”
« Last Edit: Jan 11, 2015 11:27 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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Freedom153
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #36 on: Jan 11, 2015 11:27 pm »

(Continued due to character limit)

Before Su could slap her biological daughter across the face, Kai said, “It sounds to me like Bataar Jr. has a lot more issues than he has sense. Correct me if I am wrong, Mother Suyin, but it sounds like he has deep-seated daddy issues from what Jinora has told me. He’s Jr., for crying out loud!” Su swooped him up in her arms again, ecstatic at his apparent acceptance of her offer. Tenzin said dryly, “You do remember he was a thief, right, Su? And he stole from his other rich, definitively ex adoptive parents?” Fishing out an attractive gemstone, Su said, “When we re-take Zaofu and I get my city running again, he can have all the gems and gold he likes!” Much to everyone’s shock, Kai pushed the gemstone away, saying, “From what Korra decided to show me, and especially what she didn’t show me, I’d rather have a different gem. Her name is Jinora.” A blushing Jinora tugged on Su’s robe, saying, “Put my boyfriend down - there’s something I want to do to him!” Jinora proceeded to kiss Kai deeply, making him fall over much as Bolin had the day before after his kiss with Opal.

Satisfied with how things had turned out, Korra asked, “What were you talking about when I was updating Kai?” Lin and Su said at the same time, “Kuvira’s punishment.” Lin continued, while Su picked up Kai, “We think that her expertise in weaponry, the Earth Kingdom and on her former forces is sorely needed, and any formal punishment should be put off. We did come up with an idea, however - my sister and I could take Kuvira on a tour of the Earth Kingdom. Community service and a direct showing of her effects on the kingdom, if you will.” Remembering what Su had said about Zaofu, Korra asked, “Would you consider making the tour of only the northern Earth Kingdom? I don’t want Jinshu Kuangmai to get his hands on Kuvira - he’d probably torture her using blood-iron bending without end.” Korra saw Su, Lin and Kuvira shudder violently, Kuvira saying, “Yeah - I had thought of that. Plus, if I stay in the northern Earth Kingdom, I would be much more available for technical consultation. If you need me, Tenzin, Jinora or Korra can contact me remotely. I imagine that I won’t be needed in that capacity until the various projects get started - and hopefully the Spirit Civil War will be over by then, or at the very least my supervised ‘community service’ and guided tour will be over.” Lin interjected, “When we were talking, you hated the idea of the guided tour, saying you’d already been through so much with your awful visions! Why the change of view?” Kuvira responded, pointing at a distant speck on the horizon to the prow of the ship, “I know individuals can be persuaded by Korra’s infobending, but the world? I now realize that’s something else entirely. Plus, there’s a special someone I want to find - the orphaned girl from my vision. I have hope that fate will cross our paths while I am on tour.”

Su hugged both Kai and Kuvira tightly, saying, “I guess you really have changed, Kuvira - I never figured you to be a motherly figure.” Kuvira said, choking back tears, “I didn’t either, until I shattered that horrible metal vision. It’s also a symbolic act - healing a wound close to my heart that my own actions created. As a side effect, if the world sees me adopt someone whose orphanage I caused, it will likely mend wounds other than my own.” After shedding a few tears, Kuvira added, “Though I probably will need Korra’s help to convince her - I know that such wounds run very, very deep. My own loss was part of the reason I turned into a monster.”

Korra took a deep sigh, taking in the endless sea and thinking about what Kuvira said. Suddenly realizing what the now larger point in the distance was, Korra said, “I support this plan of technical consultation, the guided tour and community service. I imagine the tour will be harder on you than any physical punishment. Now, to get President Raiko and the other world leaders to agree - that speck in the distance is Ember Island.” Suddenly realizing that Mako had propelled the boat most of the way, Korra added, “Anywhere we go after we arrive at Ember Island, I’ll propel the boat, Mako - you need to get some rest. I have a feeling we will need to visit the Fire Nation’s capital sometime soon.” Korra let out a surprised yelp when Tenzin tapped her on the shoulder when she was finished, saying, “I was serious about that offer of my body as a training dummy. No, Mother - I can make my own decisions, so don’t even give me that look!” Katara stormed off with “that look” on her face towards the prow of the boat, grumbling as she went, people avoiding her and “that look”.

As everyone else returned to their previous positions, Asami said, “I have something I need to do myself. See you in a bit, Korra - I’m going to go talk to Zhu Li.” Remembering that the conference was slated to take place at noon, Korra asked, “What time is it? Do we have enough time to visit Mai and Ty Lee before the conference, or talk to Eska and Desna privately?” Asami poked her head back around the corner, yelling, “It’s 10:00 AM, so we should have more than enough time! Don’t hurt Tenzin!”

Tenzin just shrugged, saying, “I’ve been bloodbended before, by a much less friendly individual. Though, you will be using the Avatar State, so try to be careful. Here - why don’t we start with blood that’s not within the body?” Tenzin picked up the scalpel, had Korra sterilize it with purified sea water and flame, let it cool and cut a line on his other thumb, squeezing it to get blood out. Korra took a deep breath and entered the Avatar State, focusing on the large bead of blood on the deck. To her surprise, it was extremely easy to manipulate - Bumju’s single drop of blood had been harder to move. She almost thought she could bend it without the Avatar State, but didn’t want anyone asking even more questions than they would already.

Tenzin, having seen the ease with which she manipulated the blood, said, “Okay - let’s move on to something a bit more complicated. I’m going to open my mouth, and I want you to close it very carefully. I think Katara is right, Korra - controlled bloodbending could be a nonviolent form of waterbending, if developed highly enough.” Korra smacked herself on the forehead, realizing she must have let something slip. All these stupid secrets! Tenzin laughed, saying, “You didn’t slip up any, Korra - Katara talked to me about this last night. Now shut my jaw gently.”

When Korra turned her glowing eyes to Tenzin’s open jaw, she was surprised by how much blood she could feel flowing in the face. Pretending she was controlling a surge of seawater, she stopped its flow and moved the liquid upward as one “mass”, without trying to mimic the bloodbending forms she had heard about. When she finished, Tenzin coughed, saying, “That was very different from what I remember of Tarrlok’s technique - you stopped the flow of blood and moved it as one unit, gently. Let’s see how detailed you can make your movements, Korra - I want you to put me into a proper airbending stance, but this time, I will try and resist you. Are you ready for that?” Korra found her head shaking up and down, as if controlled by the Avatar State.

Before she started, Korra got an idea - use her earthsense along with bloodbending to make positioning easier. Eyes flaring, she struck the deck of the Zhu Li in a controlled manner, reading Tenzin’s form more accurately than sight could. She then performed movements she realized were very similar to those Amon used when he wasn’t using his psychic ability. Tenzin did resist, but given the lack of screaming or even any sound at all, Korra realized what she had done had the desired effect - no yanking of veins, only control of patches of blood. Letting go of the individual “cells” of blood inside Tenzin’s body, she said, “I think I found a way to not hurt people while still controlling their movements. I didn’t just yank on the blood -I manipulated different patches of it in unison to reach the desired effect. Did it feel different than Tarrlok’s? I noticed that even though you resisted, you did not make any sound.”

Tenzin said, with surprise in his voice, “Yes - that was exactly how it felt, as though my arms and legs were being moved around without strings.” Before Tenzin could continue, Korra spotted a large water-bound form approaching the Zhu Li, fast! Tenzin must have seen it too, as he said, “What in the… that’s the biggest shark whale I’ve ever seen! Quick, Korra - bloodbend it so it doesn’t ram the Zhu Li’s hull! I don’t care if it dies - pretend it’s Jinshu Kuangmai!”

Korra turned to face the threat fully, eyes flaring as she copied the form she had just used on Tenzin. She realized with a start that this shark-whale was almost as big as the Zhu Li, given the massive amount of blood in its body! At first, she tried to stop it, merely increasing the force she used in her movements and focusing solely on the shark whale. While the shark whale did let out a loud shriek as it thrashed its head above the water, finally stopped, Korra realized that with all her earlier exertions today, she would not be able to hold it long enough to let the Zhu Li escape.

Korra remembered the form of bloodbending that Katara had inadvertently came up with, and realizing it was her only option, she began to form ice crystals in the creature’s brain and massive heart. In a series of frenzied motions, she thrashed the ice crystals against the arterial walls of the brain and the inside of the heart wildly. After about 30 seconds, she saw a large cloud of blood in the water around the beast’s mouth and its razor-sharp teeth. She could hear cheers erupting from the front of the boat, and as they started to pass the beast’s corpse, the Zhu Li suddenly slowed.

Turning around as her eyes dimmed, Korra saw Mako was no longer shooting blue jets off the deck, instead pointing to the massive dead shark whale and saying, “It’d be a shame to let all that meat go to waste! I’m going to bring us closer, Korra - why don’t you find some metal object to bend into a big hook and cables. Perhaps if you tell everyone at the conference what you did, and offer the shark whale’s meat up for lunch, they will respect you and your wishes.” Korra said, “I’m not going to try and ‘gain respect’ through bloodbending - that would likely backfire. I do agree that leaving it here would be a waste of meat, however, and we could use it to feed everyone at the conference.” Mako coughed, saying, “I never told you to say you bloodbended it to death - just that you killed it.” Korra knew what he had actually said - an ambiguous “what you did” that was more fitting coming from President Raiko’s lips than Mako’s - but didn’t push the issue. Instead she ran to the prow of the boat, explaining to everyone what had happened, including her training with Tenzin and her new, less painful bloodbending form. Katara said, “I think you don’t need any training, Korra - you saved our lives with that feat. Now let’s go pick this thing up before another one smells the blood in the water and comes swimming at full speed.” Katara seemed to want to say something else, but she was interrupted when the Zhu Li bumped into the shark whale’s immense bulk.

As Korra, Su, Lin and Bolin created a massive hook to place in the shark whale’s maw, Kuvira used her more limited mobility to create a single, strong cable. Varrick ran around, yelling “My deck! What are you doing to my deck!” before Zhu Li grabbed him by the collar and said, “I’m sure the Avatar can find an undersea deposit of metal to repair the deck. Now quit running around like an idiot.” Not wanting the meat to spoil and needing an easier way to tug the massive body, Korra asked Katara with glowing eyes, “Will you help me encase it in ice? Kya can help too! If we do that, then the scent trail will be lost!” After positioning the beast at the back of the boat using what little blood it had left, Korra helped Katara and her daughter Kya encase it inside a massive iceberg, making sure not to freeze it too quickly.

Realizing that propelling the boat from the rear would turn their prize to ash, Korra asked Mako, “Can you stand on the side of the boat and shoot a flame at a 45-degree angle?” Mako shook his head, saying, “I need a rest - why don’t you and the airbenders propel the boat?” Korra, Tenzin, Kai, Bumi, Jinora and Opal did just that, with even Meelo “helping” - as a supervisor, of course.

Even after all this delay, they still managed to reach Ember Island at 10:45 AM, leaving plenty of time for preparations. Not being able to stand the nagging from Varrick any longer, Korra used the Avatar State to find and reclaim a chunk of ore from the ocean floor, noting that they were plentiful in the region. This metal would come in handy for the war effort. Korra told everyone about her find, Firelord Izumi saying, “Good - maybe I can have my merchant fleet and a good navy after all. Good work, Avatar Korra - you can help Asami map out their locations.” Before doing so, Korra took a tour of the boat, making sure everyone was doing something - they still had over an hour to the conference. Korra repaired Varrick’s deck carefully before her tour as Lin, Su and Bolin used the remainder of the ore to cut the shark whale into smaller chunks, Kuvira watching enviously as she restrained Naga with a strip of metal. Kya was helping with the ice around the creature, Bumi was playing with Meelo and Bumju on the roof, the other airbenders and Pema were taking a rest, Poki and Pabu asleep in Kai’s lap. Mako talked with Uncle Iroh, Zuko and Firelord Izumi about his Fire Nation heritage, Firelord Izumi staying silent. Her mother and father were talking with Katara about her bloodbending feats and what they meant for the legality of bloodbending in the future.
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Freedom153
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #37 on: Jan 15, 2015 10:53 am »

Chapter 28: Ember Island

Satisfied they wouldn’t be needed, Korra took Asami ashore on a piece of ice, and given the way Asami laughed happily, she had never been surfing before. Korra earthsensed the location of the ore deposits again, pointing to the location on Asami’s drawing for each deposit. She even sensed a deep, inaccessible vein of various precious metals in a long line far away from the island, including platinum, given how part of it was “black” to her earthsense. Asami said, as she drew the huge vein, “Wow - there must be all kinds of riches around these islands! It’s a good thing the Fire Nation didn’t find them during the 100 Year’s War, that’s for sure.” Korra pointed to the most valuable feature - the long, deep vein of precious minerals - and said, “I’d probably have to have a good rest before even attempting to tackle that monster - there’s no way anyone but a fully realized and rested Avatar with good mental and physical condition could get it out.”

 Korra paused, her eyes wandering to her arm and what she considered its weak physical condition. Korra said, slapping her “puny” arm, “Speaking of physical condition - I just had an idea. When we get home, I’ll create a private gym as an addition to our island.” Seeing the gleam in Asami’s eye, Korra added, “And I’ll even put locks on it, in case exercise gets either of us … interested in the other.” Now remembering the comment that Kai made earlier about the thingies, Korra asked, “And just what is the proper name for the thingies, anyways? I feel ignorant, a 13-year old knowing their name and not having known what foreplay was.” Asami laughed, sighing, “Korra, Korra, Korra… names don’t matter, and I don’t care if you didn’t know what foreplay was - just that you knew how to do it so well.”

Korra giggled, flattered that Asami saw her performance as more than adequate. She heard a rustling in some shrubs near a palm tree, and struck her foot to the ground to see who it was. The answer surprised her to no end. She struck the ground again, moving the earth beneath her two cousins, saying, “I know you’re there Eska and Desna, and if you’re going to ask about the heir help again, the answer is no!” Ignoring Asami’s confused “Huh? What heir help?” Korra walked over to her twin cousin’s location when they didn’t come out. When Korra saw them, she actually fainted from shock, unable to believe her eyes.

When Korra came to, a cheery Eska was staring in her face, saying, “Korra, why were you so surprised to see us? You just talked to us yesterday!” Korra stammered, “B-b-but… your hair! The black one-piece swimming suit! And your face - you actually have real makeup on and not those weird purple smears! And your brother… wearing a t-shirt and swimming shorts?” Eska said with a smile, “My brother and I decided we needed to change a lot of things. Now that I think about it, we have some information you might find useful, in some small way. Plus a lot more that will probably make you and Raava happy.” Asami said, pointing at Desna, who was sporting a bowl cut and wearing swimming shorts and a tacky shirt, “Uhhm… are you sure that these are your cousins? Where’s the boredom, the weird clothes, the almost identical appearances?” Desna burst into real, actual laughter, saying, “We finally broke free of our father’s emotional grasp, due in large part to your own childhood story of repression, Asami. Did Korra not tell you anything about our meeting?”

Wanting to defuse any questions Asami might have, Korra said, “Eska, I believe the last thing you said to me was ‘Now I am bored of this conversation, so please allow me to be bored while creating this exclusion zone and bored while in transit to Ember Island. Good day, Avatar and Cousin Korra.’ Hmm, never figured Raava could help me have such exact memory. Anyways - that doesn’t include anything about huge changes.” Desna joined his sister above Korra, yanking Korra up to a sitting position, saying, “You mentioned this ‘infobending’ - I believe it might be useful to quickly update you and your lover, Asami, on recent events in our lives.” Desna added, patting his sister on the back, “And don’t tell us anything with the infobending - we want you to react to what has happened to us first. I think Asami will find our story especially inspiring.”

Korra shook her head violently - neither of her cousins were making any sense, or even talking like they normally do! Korra took a deep breath, projecting Raava out, to see if she would be of any help. Rather than asking “Who are these people, and what did you do to the rulers of the Northern Water Tribe?” or “Why are you calling these beach bums Eska and Desna?” Raava’s eyes opened wide, and she began… crying?

For the first time in her life, Korra started to curse, but before she could ask her emphatic question, she noticed her jaw was frozen. As Raava extended a hand to both of her cousin’s foreheads, she felt her whole body freeze, apparently because she wanted to ask another strong question. Asami was immobilized, but not from Raava’s influence. When Raava took her hands away from Eska and Desna’s heads, she sniffed deeply and said, “I just read your cousins, and… Korra, I think your cousins are actually human-y now! I didn’t tell you, but I felt an interesting energy associated with Eska and Desna yesterday. It was actually an energy we had just dealt with - Unalaq’s.” Feeling herself more curious than anything, the vice grip Raava had over Korra’s body vanished, and Korra immediately began infobending the siblings - for their own information.

She was stunned, speechless. Korra ran over to Asami and shared the information with her, not even noticing the feeling of oneness, she was so shocked. Asami said the first word, choking back happy tears, saying, “Wow, really - my story was the inspiration for your revolution, Desna? I can hardly believe it! We really do need to share our story with the world, Korra - I never thought in ten thousand years that Eska or Desna would be dressed like, well, this, and actually be happy!” Korra finally managed to speak, saying, “Those ice prisons both your three-year old selves were in… they were thicker and more energetic than the ones Unalaq trapped the Avatar’s past lives in. Raava has been learning about the power of love and light in human form, but this? It’s just plain disturbing! I mean, I’m glad you broke through it, but… I guess this means that human emotional hurt and energy is more powerful than Raava or I thought.” Suddenly realizing that she had just talked only about what could be considered business, and not much about either cousin’s personal transformation, Korra added, “That gift to the Ember Island Players - that was amazing! I just hope The Tale of Korra is better than the original ‘Boy in the Iceberg’ from what Zuko told me about it - I don’t want them casting Bolin as a sassy girl or myself as a man like they did Toph.” Asami laughed along with Eska, Desna, and Raava, who said in a young boy’s voice, “I’m the Avatar, and you gotta deal with it!” Korra burst out laughing at the mental image of a four-year old male Korra bursting through a wall in front of the White Lotus, quipping, “The casting change would make my relationship with Asami less likely to cause an uproar.”

Eska and Desna were both staring at Korra in a more typical fashion, apparently very confused about her earlier reference to the ice prions, or why Korra’s relationship with Asami would cause an uproar. Eska said, grabbing Korra’s hand with a smile, “Yes - even I didn’t know what I was doing when I gave the manager one hundred thousand yuans. Something called ‘generosity’ took over, and like I told him, we don’t really need the money anyways.” Eska continued, with a more serious look, “I still don’t get what’s wrong with you and Asami being together. I think Uncle Iroh was wrong to advise caution. Maybe he’s just out of touch with how the world is now.” Pointing a finger at Korra with a stern face like Lin might have made, she said, “Enough chitchat - the suspense is killing me. Your turn to give us information now. And given the impact that your relationship with Asami has had on us both so far, don’t censor anything. We want the whole story.” Eska returned to a warm smile, more eager to see Asami and Korra’s story than anything to do with statecraft given the way her cousin’s heart was pounding. Korra could sense Desna’s heart beating in a similar fashion. As Raava placed her hands on Korra’s cousins again,  Korra felt some odd feeling, which reminded her of what she felt when around her mother and father, that drove her to place her hands on both her cousin’s foreheads, spilling everything but Jinshu Kuangmai’s identity. Korra noticed that neither one of them were cross-eyed or woozy, as she might have suspected they would be after so much detailed information.

The first thing Eska said was, “Oh man - I gotta find me a guy! The feelings you had, last night, with Asami… screw the heir, I just want to feel those!” No longer having a wild, desperate look in her eyes, Eska continued, “After that, I can safely say there is absolutely nothing wrong with your love for Asami. At the conference, you should probably - ” Desna interrupted, saying, “Yeah - certainly nothing wrong there. I also no longer care about getting an heir for purely political purposes - I anticipate being a father for its own sake, and not having a child just for a political pawn or ‘safety net’. I’m not going to repeat the sins my father.” Eska said, pushing her brother aside playfully, “Hey - you interrupted me! Speaking of Unalaq… that should be a saying all of its own. Anyways.” Eska pointed to her hair - which now resembled Opal’s, Korra realized with a start, “Obviously, given our childhood, or lack of one, we didn’t come up with this new look ourselves. We had to use flat irons and some weird chemicals to get my hair to look like this, provided by a cheerful old lady.” Eska giggled, saying, “That old woman who told me she was an acrobat helped us both have more ‘human-y’ appearances and outfits.” Eska’s eyes widened, losing her train of thought temporarily. Shaking her head, then grabbing her brother, she said into his face excitedly, “Wait a minute… I know who she and her glum friend are! They’re from ‘The Boy in the Iceberg’ - Ty Lee and Mai!” Desna snickered, saying, “Who I can only assume was Mai seemed slightly disappointed when I took to Ty Lee’s advice so enthusiastically and thoroughly. Mai said, ‘Just when I think I see a boy I would have liked in my youth, you have to go and ruin him, Ty Lee’ and flicked her daggers back and forth the rest of the time, occasionally muttering, ‘Stupid Zuko and his Fire Nation secrets’ or even just leaving the room entirely.”

Korra felt a surge of energy, and Aang’s image said excitedly in front of her face, “Wait - they’re alive, and here? Korra, you’ve got to take me to see them!” Desna asked Aang, pointing at a large building in the distance, “Wait - Avatar Aang. The guy who crashed our meeting yesterday temporarily. Would you say that the play we saw last night is accurate?” Korra groaned as Aang said, grinning broadly, “I don’t know, but there is one way to find out - we can watch it again!” Korra growled, “Sorry, Aang, but given you’re my past life and already know your own history, and I know yours, I’m not going to spend what time I have to go watch a play before the conference. Here - get back in here, and help me infobend the time between your iceberg jail breaking and you kissing Katara to Eska and Desna.” Oddly enough, this took almost no time whatsoever - apparently, the events of a past life were easier to transmit than those of the current. Eska said, “Yes, the play is pretty accurate now. Aang showed us the original ‘The Boy in the Iceberg’ as well, and I didn’t like the casting or ending at all. Especially the ending.”

Desna coughed, saying, “Anyways - you know us, and we know you better now, Korra. I think I better understand Raava’s little gift to you and Asami now - given your preferences in mates, I mean, partners, you could never actually have children. It was also a reward for all your hard work. Eska and myself are decidedly not gay, although other children thought we were, given my father’s ridiculous fashion sense. I mean, really - twins, one a boy, one a girl, and dressing them exactly the same? I guess he really was crazy, long before his evil plan with Vaatu.” Asami laughed, saying, “I always wondered what other kids thought of you two.” Her smile vanishing, Asami said, “What Korra showed me about your childhood, and how your father repressed your emotions… I thought my dad, Hiroshi, was bad. Unalaq was just plain evil.”

Eska, showing actual, real discomfort, changed the subject, saying, “So I guess the only world leaders who don’t know what is going on are Prince Wu and President Raiko.” Eska laughed, continuing “Oh, and Iroh II - but he’s fairly useless anyways. At least Prince Wu evacuated some refugees, and he can’t even bend! All Iroh II has managed to do lately is get his ships sunk. Twice. Maybe those two new battleships will help him stop failing so badly.” Her face turning serious again, Eska said, “Given your description of this ‘Sudden Death’ option, Korra, I think when my brother and I return to the Northern Water Tribe, we will beseech our ancestor turned spirit, Yue, for aid, just as Jinora suggested. We’ll also enact a control zone around the Spirit Oasis - Koh has been known to frequent its waters, as I am sure Avatar Kuruk is all too aware of.” Desna said, with a curiously neutral face, “Your new bloodbending form was very interesting - but I am very glad neither Yakone nor his sons thought of the trick you used on that shark whale. We’d probably be talking to a four-year old Earth Kingdom avatar right now if they had.”

Korra had been so focused on her cousin’s renewed love of life and their discussion that she was completely taken by surprise when a familiar voice said, “Who are these two, and why are you talking to them like they’re family? I didn’t know you had two more cousins, Korra.” Giving each other a mischievous look that made Raava laugh and snicker, Eska and Desna turned to face Katara with identical serious expressions, saying in a more familiar bored monotone, “Hello, Waterbender Master Katara. We are Chief Eska and Chief Desna, cousins of Avatar Korra and rulers of the Northern Water Tribe.” Eska pointed to her hair and one-piece swimsuit, and Desna pointed to his tacky shirt, saying in a more … normal? tone, “And we’re here to party!” An already shocked Katara hit the black volcanic sand, much as Korra had hit the black igneous rock currently under her feet earlier. Despite being mad that her cousins had made Katara faint, Korra laughed along with them, Asami and Raava. Apparently their mirth was so loud it woke Katara back up again, who said, “Wait - what? These two are Eska and Desna? What happened?!?” Realizing that they might take this the wrong way, Katara said, “I mean, whatever it was it must have been wonderful, but still - what in the name of Tui and La is up with you two?”

Korra said, “Come over here, and I’ll show you.” Katara said, “I’m a lot older than you are, so come to me, please - that fall made my back ache.” Thinking something was amiss, Korra tried a technique she had heard Toph used on Ember Island - sandbending. Finding the volcanic sand to be extremely malleable, Korra formed a platform of fused sand underneath Katara, being careful to not make the sand too hot with her lavabending. After Korra linked it to the rock she was standing on, Katara said, with a confused look, “I don’t see how making me a warm platform to stand on will help my back, but I guess I could just lie down. I can feel the heat through my boots, and it would do wonders to soothe my back pain.” Before Katara could lie down, Korra pointed at Katara’s feet, saying, “I don’t think that’s necessary - I can tell you’re lying now. I’m guessing you just want me away from Eska and Desna so you can ask me to infobend you something… personal.”

Katara’s face flushed in embarrassment and shock, saying, “Wait - so you can truthsense now? When did that happen, and why didn’t you tell anybody?” Now it was Korra’s turn to blush, as Asami said, “Wait a minute - when your hand was on my outer thigh last night, and I told you three glasses of high-quality sake was a normal amount to need to drink to get a buzz…” Asami paused, trying to remember specific information. “Given how you stopped moving your hand for almost half a minute, you must have somehow sensed I was lying. I can understand why you wouldn’t tell me about your sense until after we got on the boat, but you didn’t. Why?” Korra shrugged, face still flush, saying nervously, “I figured that with Raava’s reading ability that this earthsense was useless, until it told me that Kai wasn’t lying on the Zhu Li when he said he had nothing to hide.” Raava snorted, saying, “I can only read one or two people at once, but this truthsense will let you see if anyone around you is lying. This will be very useful at the conference - I only trust some of the people there as far as I could throw them.” Raava looked at the ground out of the corners of her eyes, suppressing a laugh, saying, “Well, obviously not in this human-y form - I wouldn’t trust anyone if I used its strength as a measuring stick.”

Glad to see an opening in the conversation, Korra laughed and said, “Before we go meet Ty Lee and Mai as we had planned, Katara - it appears that Eska and Desna have already met them - it seems like you have something you want me to show you. What is it?” Having apparently just thought of a rationalization for her request, Katara stuttered out, “I-I have some information for you as well, given your former interest in boys. Want to trade?” Before Asami or Korra could react with a unanimous “NO!” Eska said, “Korra already showed me and my brother what you’re looking for, Katara, but given some events you don’t know about, they were relevant. I fail to see anything beyond curiosity behind your request, but Korra and Asami are the ones to decide.” To Korra’s surprise, Asami said, “Eska’s right - you already have shown two people, and Katara did seem genuinely curious that first horrible night after the battle in Republic City. Katara also does have experiences of her own - with another Avatar, no less.” Asami chuckled slightly, finishing, “Just for the sake of seeing how you were able to go for an hour and a half last night, Korra, I am fine with an information swap.”

Raava looked a little too excited for Korra’s liking, so she forced the dirty minded spirit back into her chest, despite her protests. Once everyone had finished laughing, Korra said, “I’ll swap ‘information’ with you, Katara. Now just hold still.” Before Korra’s palm pressed against Katara’s forehead, Katara said, “Wait - stop. I want you to show me what happened to Eska and Desna first - I have the feeling it will be a lot more relevant to the conference than this other infobending. And don’t just lump it in with the other information, Korra - I’d like to talk to Eska and Desna afterwards.” Surprised by this change in request, Korra channeled Eska and Desna’s experience, as well as their conversation with herself and Asami, stopping at the point where Katara snuck up.
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Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #38 on: Jan 15, 2015 10:54 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Katara said, playing with a gray hair loopy, “I think I’m gonna need a while to wrap my head around that, Korra. I mean - an ice prison more powerful than the one that imprisoned Aang? All from Unalaq’s horrible parenting?” Katara shook her hide side to side violently, going “Blblbluhh” as she did so in obvious disgust and unease. Katara said, with a tear in each eye, “I need something uplifting after that. Why don’t we swap that other information now - Unalaq always did leave a bad taste in my mouth when I thought of him. I regret not getting involved in the Water Tribe Civil War now that I know what a horrible man your father was, Eska and Desna - even before he made his alliance with Vaatu.” Katara let out an angry humph, saying “What Bolin told me today, that Toph said a while back …she is wrong about ‘leave it to the kids’. I mean, just look at what the White Lotus did in Ba Sing Se 74 years ago! Bumi was 112, for crying out loud!” While Korra did find this interesting, she remembered she had some deadlines, so she told Katara, “Why don’t you calm down and just watch. I’ll take your information first.”

As Korra took in Katara’s experiences with Aang, she did feel aroused, but realized it wasn’t purely for the reason she thought. Apparently, Aang was specifically helping her with this bizarre transfer, and his excitement rubbed off on her. When she saw Aang’s tattoos glowing and his own stamina, she stopped the transfer temporarily, yelling, “Aang glowed too, and tired Katara out as well!” Once she heard a snicker from Katara and a relieved sigh from Asami, she finished taking in, and began giving out. Katara had a similar reaction to Korra, but when Korra finished, Katara was crying tears of happiness. Katara said, “Forget what Uncle Iroh, Avatar Wan and Avatar Garkan said about hiding - your love for Asami is no different than what I felt with Aang, feeling of oneness and all! They’ve been stuck in the spirit world for years. Garkan was right for his time but knows nothing of today’s world, Wan doesn’t exactly have a high opinion of humans, and Uncle Iroh likely remembers the deprivations of his own nation more than anything.” Katara took a deep breath, frowning as she said, “What Zuko said about Fire Nation schools… that’s just dumb. At least talk about homosexual relationships in biology class - even animals have them!” Seeing Korra’s confused look, Katara said, “Given your shared memory and link with Aang, do you remember the ‘enemy birds’ Sokka pointed out?” Korra’s head shook of its own, as Katara continued, “While touring the Fire Nation a bit with Aang after our kiss, we saw two female birds sitting in a nest together. When Aang asked Avatar Roku about it, Roku told Aang that the two were ‘another way for the wind to blow’. Aang understood it immediately, but given how confused I looked, he explained the Air Nomad’s decree to me.”

 Katara said, with a soft expression on your face, “I never thought it would actually be relevant, but his explanation was part of the reason I was so… inquisitive the first night.” Katara coughed lightly for emphasis, adding, “When I was experiencing the fun you and Asami had together, I found that my mind wasn’t focusing on the physical technicalities much. The same part of me that loved Aang so much was obsessed with the feeling of love you experienced for Asami. Given the lack of blushing on your face as I say this, I assume you had similar focus when experiencing my point of view with Aang.” Korra nodded her head, saying, “While it was interesting to feel physically what I might have with Mako, I didn’t focus on it too much either. Given that I was aroused, I do think I am slightly bisexual, but just in the opposite direction from where I was before. My experiences with Asami have associated her with wonderful things, never to be broken.”

As Asami stuffed her map into her pack and ran over to embrace both Korra and Katara, Desna said, “It sounds to me like nobody here wants to hide themselves any longer - me and my sister are out of our shells. Literally, given what Korra showed us about the Avatar prisons. Katara thinks Uncle Iroh, Avatar Wan and Avatar Garkan are wrong about hiding my cousin Korra’s relationship with Asami, and given how Asami is grabbing Korra’s butt so tightly, I think Asami agrees.” Korra listened intently - she couldn’t speak right now, not with Asami’s hand finally repaying Korra for all of her own butt grabs. Katara took the chance to step aside, letting Korra hug Asami more directly, the groping hand staying still now. Katara said, “I didn’t say that those three wise people had no point, just that I thought hiding their relationship was not a good idea.” Katara finished, with sadness in her voice, “It’s not like they can get married like Zhu Li and Varrick just did.” Korra felt tears coming to her eyes, and given Asami’s angry grunt, this fact stung her as well.

Surprising everyone but her brother, Eska said, “Wait - maybe, just as a test, after Korra tells President Raiko about the conversation Uncle Iroh had with you and Asami on yin and yang and Asami’s childhood repression, Tenzin could talk about the Air Nomad scroll. Katara can then tell the story about the ‘enemy birds’, then my brother and I will then suggest that President Raiko make gay marriage legal in Republic City. Korra, you and Asami will need to be silent for this part, however - it needs to seem like it is un-orchestrated and spontaneous.” Korra stopped hugging Asami and ran over to Eska, hugging her cousin while saying, “Eska - that’s ingenious! It’s not like we’ll have much to talk about at the conference, anyways, aside from detailed political and military matters. I’ll just be telling Prince Wu, Iroh II and President Raiko what has happened over the past three to four days, and even without infobending, that shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half, if other people help. Especially if I keep it to what is strictly relevant, though I imagine all three will want an immediate explanation for why Kuvira is going to be sitting next to Su.” Eska didn’t make to stop Korra from hugging her, even during her long speech, saying once Korra had finished, “I think Katara, Asami and you wanted to visit Ty Lee and Mai. My brother and I are going to the Ember Island Players theatre - I think the manager wanted something with us. Something about ‘consultation’ and ‘editing’ after the play last night. Don’t worry - I’m not going to say anything to do with the past month. I get the feeling that story is nowhere near complete.”

Korra waved her hand madly as Eska and Desna left, shouting “You should probably change your clothes before the conference - President Raiko won’t take you very seriously in swimwear!” As they entered deeper in the forest, Korra heard the last of their laughter fade. Actually feeling a strange tug inside before Raava apparently tried to apparate out, Korra flashed her eyes, keeping the spirit inside. Korra said, out loud, “No, you can’t be in the room with us with Ty Lee and Mai, Raava!” Katara laughed, saying, “We’d never get any information or help from Ty Lee with Raava’s human-y form in the room - she’d be too busy fawning over Raava! Mai just might run from the room screaming. If she can run, that is.” Katara let out a snicker.

Again, a rustling in the bushes. What was with this stupid island? Korra struck her foot against the ground, noticing two figures in hiding that reminded her of Katara somehow - old, but not down and out. She heard what sounded like an old human-y form Raava’s voice say, “Quick, dart her before she bloodbends us out!” Korra heard an odd “Ffft” from the bushes, and time slowed. Some instinct taking over, Korra used an airbending form to “be the leaf”, narrowly missing a dart. As she wrapped the two figures tightly in the volcanic soil that surrounded them, she realized where part of the instinct must have come from - Piandao and Sokka! Yanking the two forward inside their earth prisons, she recognized their faces, yet she didn’t. The glum looking one in black, who looked as good as Katara did for her old age, said gruffly, “See! I told you we shouldn’t have followed those two waterbenders here. Eska and Desna? The latter, I may add, you completely ruined.” Katara ran over to who Korra must have assumed was Ty Lee and said, “Well, I certainly didn’t expect you to be out of the house, or in such good shape! You actually look like you aged slightly better than I did. And I see you still love pink.”

Ty Lee chirped, with a surprisingly young voice, “It’s not just benders who can live a long time, you know! I exercise every day, and eat right. Tell me - did that cutie Sokka ever marry?” Katara said, coughing, “Yes, he did - to Suki. As you may have heard, he died quite some time ago, but his spirit lives on in the Spirit World.” Ty Lee said loudly, “Really? Can I see him?” Mai shook her head in disgust, her middling gray bangs swishing, saying, “We overheard a lot of your conversation, and it sounds like you need us. I assume you want Ty Lee to show chi blocking points to both Korra and Asami, though I’m not sure you want with me.” Korra explained her interaction with Piandao and Sokka to both Ty Lee and Mai, finishing, “And yes, you are right Mai. I do want Ty Lee to show me the chi blocking points she used on Team Avatar all those years ago, and I also want to infobend your own knowledge of physical combat into Asami. She’s a nonbender, just like you two are.”

While Ty Lee said “Sure! Just get me out of this earth prison first,” Mai did not look like she wanted to be “infobended”. Then again, Korra really couldn’t tell what her expression meant. Mai confirmed Korra’s suspicion by saying, “This infobending sounds weird, and I noticed that you didn’t give Piandao or Sokka anything in return. If you want my cooperation, you’ll have to give something. Now let me out of this stupid thing - there’s some bugs biting my arms.” Korra said, having discerned Mai’s intentions through truthsense, “Okay - but only on the condition that shirshu poison dart blowpipe stays with Asami until we’re done. By the way - was that a knock-out dose or just paralyzing?” Mai’s cheeks stayed the same as she said, “Ugh, fine. I just wanted a little payback for being in this stupid cone, but I guess you can’t ‘infobend’ while on the ground. You go first.” Korra laughed and said with a smile, “I do know you two can be infobended inside those cones - what would you like to know?”

Ty Lee had a sad look in her eyes, saying, “I don’t think I ever learned what happened to Azula after she ran off with Zuko to find their mother. Zuko’s mom came back, but apparently Azula just ran off into the woods.” Wanting to break the news delicately, Korra said, “I’m afraid she hasn’t been seen since, but there is something I think you would both like to know about her childhood. I’ll take information first, and then give you something not many people know about Azula. Then I will remove the prisons - I don’t think you’ll feel like trying to get even after you see what I know.” Mai said, “Fine - I’ll take it. Just get me out of this - there really are bugs in here!” Korra placed her palm against each of their foreheads, taking in information about where to block chi lines first - it was the simplest, just locations on the body. However, Korra found there was certain key parts to both chi blocking and Mai’s large variety of skills that, just as swordmastery had proven, could not be transferred. Asami and Korra would have to learn them physically as well. Keeping her promise, Korra began feeding information to them both about Azula’s now “extra complicated” youth.

As Korra stepped back, freeing the “prisoners”, she could see her guess was right - both Ty Lee and Mai had shocked expressions on their faces, Ty Lee looking sad and Mai slightly disgusted, though at what was anybody’s guess. By the time Korra had finished transferring their combined knowledge to Asami, both friends had shaken themselves out of their shock. Ty Lee was the first to speak, saying, “I know that Azula’s dad was mean, but I never thought he had a possible reason to kill her - I only thought that was for Zuko! I guess that explains why Azula was so crushed when we betrayed her - maybe she saw us as more than friends?” Mai shook her head, saying, “I never really cared to ask myself why she wanted two girls as her closest confidants and allies, but I guess I know the answer now. It was the closest she could come to an actual relationship - though, Azula being Azula, I’d pity the poor girl who was her girlfriend. Even before the age at which this… event happened, Zuko used to tell me there was something wrong with her.” Mai took a big sigh, continuing, “Azula’s pent-up desires certainly didn’t help anything, though. I never really understood why they taught us in Fire Nation schools that a relationship was between a man and a woman.” Mai smiled slightly, saying, “That was one of the few lies that I believed from my schooling - I just couldn’t fathom liking a girl, even at a young age.” As though remembering some long since passed transgression, Mai actually laughed, saying, “Azula’s desires might explain part of the reason why she tried to pry Zuko and I apart when we were young, or tease us. I still remember the incident with the pond inside the palace. The irony is, I ended up doing Azula’s job for her by leaving Zuko.”

Given the serious look on Mai’s face and the way that Ty Lee was tugging on her robe, Korra could tell both were done now, probably wanting to go talk by themselves about Azula’s time in the closet. Korra said, “It looks like you two are done. But before you go - would you mind physically showing me the points to strike to chi block, Ty Lee? I get the feeling that will be more useful than infobending.” Ty Lee walked over to Katara to demonstrate, who was clearly not fully on board with this plan - she had been chi blocked by Ty Lee before, after all. Ty Lee giggled, saying “Don’t worry, Katara - I’m not going to actually chi block you. Plus, remembering the way Sokka went limp from my pokes, I didn’t choose you because you were a bender anyways - I just figured Korra might be weirded out by me poking her girlfriend.”

Korra said, mouth agape, “Just how much of our conversation did you hear exactly? Be truthful.” Mai said, with a smile, “Let’s just say based on what we both heard, Ty Lee regrets never finding a man and I regret breaking up with Zuko. Now let’s get this over with - some of the bug bites are starting to swell.” Korra turned to the sea and purified some water, using it to soothe the angry welts. Remembering what Avatar State healing could do, her eyes flashed, making both Mai and Ty Lee flinch. Korra said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to see if I can get rid of the bites completely.” Since neither one had heard the Avatar speak in a non-multivoice before while in the Avatar State, they let out a yelp before Korra removed the welts entirely. After she explained the reason behind her voice being normal - Raava - Ty Lee said, “What’s this human-y form I heard about? Is it cute?” Feeling a familiar tug and seeing the way that Ty Lee’s eyes were glittering, Korra took a deep breath, making sure that Raava wouldn’t pop out and distract Ty Lee for the next half hour. Korra said, “Just a second, Ty Lee - I’ll let Raava out once you show the chi blocking points on Katara.”

Sighing with disappointment, Ty Lee pointed out the chi blocking points, with Katara saying, “A lot of those are the same as the points on those healing dolls, Korra - including the major one under the arm that we, uh… talked about the other day.” Smiling at Katara’s save - she didn’t trust Ty Lee or Mai completely either - Korra took another breath, letting a fuming Raava out. Raava crossed her arms, saying, “I really don’t like it when you force me back in, Korra!” afterwards sticking her tongue out at Korra. Ty Lee said, “Wait - I thought you were a spirit? Why are you so cute? All the drawings of you that came out after Harmonic Convergence were of this big white kite.” Raava changed forms, swelling to a size only slightly bigger than Korra, saying, “This look familiar?” Ty Lee shook her head up and down, flopping a long gray ponytail into Raava’s “face”. Raava shrunk back to normal size, saying, “Look - we even both have a ponytail! Though I have a lot more of them.” Raava turned to face Korra, who was dreading whatever question Raava had for her - probably something along the lines of “Can I learn more human-y things from these two?” When Raava said exactly that, she said, “No, we accomplished what we came here for. Now don’t you dare try and read these two - we’ve got a conference to make!”

While Korra had found it hilarious when Zhu Li “abused” Varrick with the ledgers, she did not find it funny when it was her turn - Asami lightly whapped Korra over the head with the map she had made earlier. Korra turned around, and saw Asami wearing an expression that closely resembled “that look” Katara made at times. Given Katara’s laughter, she knew what Asami was going to say. Asami pointed to her watch, saying, “Come on, Korra - be reasonable! We’ve got a while. 10 minutes before lunch starts - all this only took slightly over 30 minutes after all, even though it may have felt like forever at points.” Korra didn’t want to upset Asami, so she told Raava, “You can read Ty Lee and Mai without me yanking you back in. I’m interested to see what you have to say about Mai anyways - you never did get to read Eska or Desna before the change.” As Raava moved to both their backs, Ty Lee giggled in anticipation, Mai flicking out a blade and saying “Whatever. Do your fortune-telling.” Raava stopped after this remark, saying, “This isn’t fortune telling - I’ll be looking at who you are and, to put a bad spin on it, judging you.” Mai said, “It’s not as if Zuko hasn’t done plenty of that over my decision to leave him, even if we remained on relatively good terms after for a breakup. Go right ahead,” flicking her blade again.

Puzzled at Mai’s attitude, Raava said, “Come over here, Korra - Mai acts like no one I have ever seen before. If you don’t mind, Mai, I want to see more of your life than just your physical skills Korra infobended earlier.” Mai laughed slightly as Korra walked over, saying, “Based on what I heard earlier, and our own talk with Eska and Desna, I can see why you’re curious, wanting to learn about humanity and all. I don’t feel much, so I don’t quite know what you’re going to get from me.” Mai put her blade away, and said, “Feel free to start now, Korra.” Korra and Raava first performed the reading on Ty Lee, and the results were not very surprising, as Raava said, “Read completed. Fun-loving all these years later, Ty Lee had some serious identity issues in her youth, leaving her vulnerable to Azula’s manipulation. I was impressed with your ‘betrayal’ of Azula - you have a strong friendship with Mai.” Ty Lee gave Mai a big hug, who surprisingly didn’t struggle or complain.
Logged

Additional datapoints acquired. Additional animated stories viewed. Directive: adjust opinion... adjusting...
First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #39 on: Jan 15, 2015 10:57 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Raava walked behind Mai’s back, saying, “And now, for the main event. I always wanted to say that. Korra, let’s see what Mai can teach me.” Before infobending her, the Avatar and her power source read Mai, Raava saying, “Read completed. Quite honestly, I didn’t expect much, but right away, I could see you have a lot in common with Eska and Desna, except you’ve hidden your pain for decades, given your constant attitude. Until I infobend you, I’m not going to say any more, and when I do, you probably won’t like it.” Mai’s face became distorted with anger, growling, “Oh, great, it’s the beach all over again! I remember that night by the campfire. It was one of the last times I felt close to Zuko before he ran off to run his nation and hide secrets, leaving me in the dust.” Asami surprised everyone by saying, “Hey, Mai - I had my eyes on Korra since the day I met her, but I couldn’t do anything about it until very recently. I was apart from her a lot, given her duties as the Avatar.” Connecting some unseen dots, Asami added, “You didn’t happen to have a controlling father too, did you?” A single tear escaped one of Mai’s almond-shaped eyes and she said through clenched teeth, “Just infobend me already - I don’t want to talk right now!” It seemed managing to not cry was taking every bit of strength Mai had. Korra noticed that Raava was walking towards her “host”, vanishing slowly back inside Korra’s body.

It looks like you might need to show Mai some of your own experiences as we go, Korra - I didn’t think humans were supposed to be like her or your cousins, and it appears I was right. Given how she reacted to Asami’s comment, something tells me you actually have something in common with Mai - a controlled youth, courtesy of her parents and your predecessor along with the White Lotus.

Korra put her palm to a nervous Mai’s forehead, but she somehow knew Mai was not fearful - just hurt. As events of her own childhood flowed into Mai’s head and Korra witnessed Mai’s prim and proper upbringing, Korra fully understood what Raava had meant. Korra and Mai had not been allowed normal childhoods, Korra because of Aang’s last order and Mai as the oldest child of an influential politician. At some point, one of them started hugging the other, and Korra couldn’t tell who had initiated the gesture. Korra realized that as the Avatar, she had been able to channel her rage and resentment into three, then four different elements, but Mai? She had no sink, no release for her anger at how she was raised. Korra felt Mai nodding, as though she had just “heard” what Korra thought. Mai’s father being the leader of this “New Ozai” movement shocked her, and given how Mai was slightly weeping as though through clenched teeth, Mai shared Korra’s shock all these years later. As they finished, Korra still didn’t understand why Mai had left Zuko.

Mai’s voice, crackly from emotion and age, said, “I don’t either! You’re right, Korra - you had all four elements to bend and use as outlets, and as the Avatar, you could ignore more people. Me?” Mai blew her nose on her dark sleeve, continuing, “I was a bird in a gilded cage - my father’s political position meant everyone in our family had to be perfect. I think I might even know why I resented my little brother, Tom Tom, at times.” Mai looked ashamed, avoid Korra’s glare - she had seen what Mai did, or rather, didn’t do, with Tom Tom. Seeing her look, Mai admitted, “Well, more than at times... I’m not proud of my decision to not trade him for King Bumi in Omashu. The reason I resented him and treated him so callously? I think it’s because he wasn’t the oldest child, and during some of the hardest years of my life, I got to watch him be innocent and carefree, while I had to toe the family and national line.” Mai took a deep sigh, regaining most of her normal composure, continuing, “I thought things would change when my boyfriend became Firelord, but they didn’t. He was inaccessible and didn’t tell me what was going on, and I broke up with him over his stupid precious secrets. Then, finding Tom Tom in that awful place, being ‘cared’ for and indoctrinated by my father…” Korra could see the rising anger in Mai’s eyes, and Asami said, “That’s it - feel the pain. Don’t try and drown it with alcohol like I did.” Given Mai’s look of confusion, Korra saw the need for another, very carefully edited bit of infobending.

Mai laughed when Korra finished, saying, “I’m not sure why you censored so much - we did hear a lot of your conversation, after all.” Seeing that this was not the reaction Asami had expected, Mai said quickly, “Though your story is no laughing matter, Asami. I knew your father just as an industrialist, then as an Equalist from the news, Asami - I didn’t know about his control of you in your youth, or his sacrifice four days ago. I’m sorry for your loss.” Asami hugged Mai lightly, not entirely sure how hard was too hard, prompting Mai to say, “My bones aren’t going to break - I’ve followed Ty Lee’s regimen over the years as well.” Mai added with an awkward laugh, “Though I’m not going to be capturing the Avatar anytime soon, even if Korra couldn’t metalbend, bloodbend or dodge darts like that.” An angry beeping went off, causing Asami to say, “Uhoh - it’s almost lunchtime. We’ve got three minutes! I must have missed the five-minute alarm.”

Remembering their unnecessary haste this morning, Korra said, “Before we start running around like madmen, let me ask Tenzin if everyone else is ready for lunch. As far as I am concerned, Ty Lee and Mai can come to the conference if they want - Firelord Izumi, Iroh II, Zuko and Uncle Iroh are going to be pretty lonely at the Fire Nation part of the table.” As Korra heard Ty Lee and Mai yell, “Wait, what? ‘Uncle’ Iroh?!?” she figured she’d let Katara explain, and focused on Tenzin’s energy after a deep breath.

Now it was Korra’s turn to burst into a sneak-attack of laughter - given the way Tenzin was cursing under his breath with a radio in his hand, someone important was going to be late. Tenzin yelled into the receiver, oblivious to Korra’s laughing presence, “’Prince’ Wu, I don’t care how many pretty firebending girls love your singing on this island, you need to come to lunch!” The receiver made a slight noise, prompting Tenzin to slam it on the table, then he yelled into it once again, “No, we didn’t bring any badgermoles, Wu!” “Prince” Wu must have been pretty upset, as Korra could actually hear a tinny voice say, “If you could bring the shark whale that Korra killed with bloodbending, you could have at least tried! I mean, I’m no bender, you know - I needed them for security!” Feeling an expression forming on her face that Korra knew was “that look”, and quite enjoying it, Korra screamed, “You told Prince Wu WHAT, Tenzin? Ugh, of all the… I can’t believe it!” Tenzin let out a yelp, turning around and saying in a panic, “Wu wouldn’t stop singing to me until I explained what Meelo told him! My son, Bumi and Kai have been touring the island nonstop since you left, talking with strangers left and right.” Korra was still not pleased, but found Wu’s little “technique” hilarious saying, “Tell Wu I said hi, and to get his butt to lunch! How big of a delay are we looking at, Tenzin?” Tenzin sighed, saying, “At least 15 to 30 minutes - contacting everyone is going to be a pain, even with projection!” The last word giving Korra an idea, she said, “Bye, and try not to tell President Raiko how I killed the shark whale!”

She ended the projection, noticing that Ty Le and Mai were still present. Korra said, “I see you decided to attend. Maybe you can talk with Zuko after, Mai - even though he married another woman, talking with you about, well, everything might make him feel better.” Ty Lee said, “Let’s go - I want to see ‘Uncle’ Iroh! What Katara told us about the spirits just now was scary, but amazing!” Mai said with a frown, “Given her description of this ‘Long Yumao the Opportunist’, I’d really like to land a blade in between his eyes.” Korra laughed, saying, “No offense, but if I need to avoid direct combat with him and just imprison him every time he crosses my path, I don’t think you’d fare very well.” Mai apparently taking the jab in stride, Korra continued, “Now, for the most interesting part of the conference.”

Korra took a deep breath, temporarily entered the Avatar State, then let her eyes dim and projected Raava at full size into the sea, the great spirit’s massive form floating above the water. Raava must have “heard” Korra’s idea earlier, as she boomed - hopefully so that only those who needed to hear could - “Attention, all conference attendees! You are to stop what you are doing, and go to Zuko’s father’s home! And no excessive singing, Wu! That is all!” As Korra felt Raava return to her body, she began laughing hysterically - apparently, spirits appreciated obnoxious singing as much as Tenzin did.

Raava’s appearance was quite effective, as within ten minutes, Korra was seated next to Asami and her parents at a massive table, awaiting the first course. Aside from the formality of the affair - Eska and Desna were in their usual clothing - Korra was starving, and eagerly looked forward to eating the shark whale she had killed ealier. Given the nervous glances she was getting from Iroh II, President Raiko and his wife Buttercup, she bitterly realized word must have spread about her feat. Her frown turned into a small smile, slowly - maybe Mako was right after all.

The food was slow in coming, so Korra found time to change into the more formal dress she had worn for Zhu Li and Varrick’s wedding as others idly talked, figuring the threat of Avatar State bloodbending was rather off-putting. She needed a softer appearance to help offset the “advantage”. On the way back to her seat, she noticed that Eska and Desna were talking to Tenzin, and Korra smiled slightly - that plan should go through. As she sat back down, Asami looked at her with eyes of desire, and Korra saw another “benefit” to her change in clothes.

Chapter 29:  The Ember Island Conference

After what seemed like an eternity, a cook with a fancy hat came out to the table and said, “We are having some difficulty with the shark whale meat - it will be a little while. The individual killed must have been very large, as some of the meat you provided burst into flames from its fat content. The meat wasn’t sliced properly, as we discovered some blubber content, which is not useable. Its heart was also… quite unusable.” Korra heard everyone but Tenzin, Pema and his kids groan loudly, Mako saying, holding a blue flame in his hands, “If I can sear it on my first try, I see no reason you can’t! I’m starving!” The cook replied, “My apologies, Mako - we were informed that you propelled the Zhu Li almost the entire way. I would not recommend eating seared shark whale meat, however - at least not from an individual this size. It must have been old. Old enough that it likely had parasites in its flesh.” Seeing that Mako was no longer frowning, the cook continued, “However, if Avatar Korra and yourself wish to help, the blue flame would be most welcome in the kitchen. I will direct its use, as I am the head cook, Zhao.” Jumping up shortly before Mako did, Korra said, “Sure - anything to get the food moving faster. Come on, Mako, let’s go!”

Given the surprised shouts from the staff, Iroh II, “Prince” Wu, President Raiko and Buttercup, Uncle Iroh had come into the room from his hiding place. He ran after Mako and Korra, saying, “Wait - I’ll help with the tea!” Korra collided with a stunned head cook Zhao, Mako adding to the impromptu pile on the floor as the head cook yelled, “Wait, WHAT? That’s Zuko’s uncle, the original Iroh! I thought he was dead! What’s going on here, Avatar Korra?” Zhao whispered in her ear, “Don’t tell me you can raise the dead as well as bloodbend in broad daylight now!” Seeing Korra’s shocked expression, he said quietly, “We saw what the inside of the beast’s heart looked like - we were hoping to use the massive organ in a stew, but it’s just useless mush now.”

Seeing that multiple people had come from the kitchen to stare, Korra got up, and as she helped Mako and head cook Zhao off the floor, she said, “You will find answers to Uncle Iroh’s presence in a press release, sometime tomorrow. It is one of the matters we will be discussing at this conference. When you are around Uncle Iroh, treat him as though he is physical.” Korra heard a waiter say meekly, holding up a teacup, “We already figured that out - he started making tea while you three were on the floor, even gritting his teeth in pain when he apparently got his finger too hot.” Another cook added, “That better be a good press conference, Avatar - we had heard about the new Spirit Portal, but this is just plain weird.” As she and Mako accompanied a shaky head cook Zhao into the kitchen, Korra said, “If it’s any consolation, Raava was just as puzzled as you all are by Uncle Iroh’s… interaction with the physical world.” Korra didn’t want to tell them that Uncle Iroh could bleed - she’d likely have a mass panic on her hands, including those world leaders not in the know.

Satisfied with her answer - for now - a more normal air returned to the kitchen, though the staff did steer clear of Uncle Iroh, much to his annoyance, but he said nothing, apparently not wanting to upset the staff any further. Just as Korra was about to begin following Zhao’s directions to cook a large piece of shark whale properly, she felt a familiar tug on her mind, and had to take a deep breath and tell Zhao, “Excuse me for a moment - I need to wash my hands again. I accidentally wiped them on my dress.” Zhao said, “I’m a firebender too, and I know that’s a load of hippo cow crap,” so Korra whispered in his ear, “Let’s say it’s an Avatar problem. It will only take a moment.” Ignoring the head cook’s confused grunt, Korra stepped aside and took another, deep breath with her eyes closed - she didn’t want anyone to see her eyes glowing. Before returning to help, Korra thought to herself, “Not now, Raava - at the very least, wait until I have explained more recent events to President Raiko and his wife, Wu, and Iroh II. Given the panic Uncle Iroh caused, I do NOT want to see what your human-y form would elicit from those not in the know.”

Fine - I guess I need to start respecting your wishes more, Korra. I’m just excited to learn firsthand instead of through the filter that is your own eyes.

Satisfied that Raava wasn’t going to crash the kitchen or dining table without her approval, Korra returned to the kitchen, eyes now normal. Mako gave her a wink as she walked in - he must have known what was going on. With Korra’s help, they finished cooking rapidly, and once she thought the staff was more comfortable, she used the Avatar State and some knives to rapidly chop the shark whale into suitable portions. As her eyes faded, she heard clapping, head cook Zhao saying, “I guess we need to hire some metalbenders - that was amazing! We could charge people to watch us cook using bending moves for show.” Glad she hadn’t freaked anyone out, Korra said, bowing slightly, “Thank you, Head Cook Zhao. One of my past lives finds your name very funny - you wouldn’t happen to be related to Admiral Zhao, would you?” Head Cook Zhao groaned as Uncle Iroh laughed hysterically, Zhao saying, “No, I get that a lot. I don’t know why my mother chose that stupid, stupid name. Regardless, all we need to do now is prepare the greens. I have the feeling you will be very useful in that, Avatar Korra.” Head Cook Zhao bowed, returning Korra’s proper use of his title.

Korra had to watch Head Cook Zhao a couple of times before she felt comfortable with using the Avatar State to chop vegetables and lettuce. Taking a deep breath as the second round of applause faded, Korra heard Head Cook Zhao say, “Good, good - I think we are ready to serve our labors. Say, Avatar Korra - I have an idea. Why don’t you use your bending and the Avatar State to serve everyone? The plates and tea sets are all made of china or metal, there are no wooden chopsticks, and the sake glasses are high quality volcanic glass.” Before Korra could ask any questions, Head Cook Zhao whipped out a seating chart, with annotations for who wanted what. As Korra memorized the chart, Head Cook Zhao said to an unseen figure, “Hey - you aren’t supposed to be back here! Wait… you’re not by any chance Varrick, are you?”

Korra turned away from the chart to see Varrick reaching into his vest as he said, “I heard your little business idea, and liked it a lot. Don’t ask how - I just have a natural talent when it comes to money.” Varrick removed a large stack of yuans from his vest, saying as he flipped the bills, “Speaking of which - how would you like your own restaurant in Republic City, once things settle down? It would be a profit split, of course - 80/20, the larger chunk going to you once I get my initial investment back.” Seeing Head Cook Zhao’s face and knowing he had Zhao hooked, Varrick continued, “We’ve never had a very high end dining establishment aside from Kwong’s Cuisine, which is now rubble, and I will make sure you have good equipment and skilled metalbenders.” Head Cook Zhao said happily, “Of course! This island doesn’t receive the visitors it used to, and I’d love to get out of the Fire Nation. I’m just plain sick of people asking me if I am related to Admiral Zhao, and then either saying ‘Thank goodness!’ or ‘Ah, well. He gets a bad rap.’” Head Cook Zhao sighed deeply, saying, “I must admit, the latter group does grate me a lot more - still hard to believe there are die-hards 74 years later. Most of them are pretty old, at least.” Seeing his employee’s nervousness, Head Cook Zhao finished, “Of course, all my employees will be coming with me. I’ve worked with some of them for 20 years. And don’t worry about hiring firebenders - over half my staff can bend, though some will need practice.”

Varrick put the money back into his vest, extending the other hand and asking, “We have a deal?” Varrick jumped slightly in shock when all the staff said in unison, “Yes!” As Varrick left after having shaken an enthusiastic Head Cook Zhao’s hand, he walked away without an apparent swagger for a change. Korra said, glad the distraction was done, “Okay, I think I know where to bend everything. You’ll need to go and warn people what to expect, and not be putting their hands or arms on the table. Not that most of them would, anyways - although I can imagine Kai or Meelo might.” As Mako and Uncle Iroh laughed, Korra struck her foot against the floor to sense her surroundings. She made a show of walking elegantly into view of everyone in the dining hall in her formal dress, saying “Food’s ready!” with her final step. Eyes now glowing, she carefully bent out the tea sets, sake bottles and sake glasses first, along with what Head Cook Zhao had called “appetizers.” Taking a minute or two to rest as she listened contentedly to random applause and compliments, she ate some food herself and breathed deeply. She sent out the plates with the main course next - vegetables with a sake sauce and a side of lettuce and beans for Tenzin and his family, and shark whale meat over top of soy-sauce soaked fried rice and a side of seared vegetables for the rest.
Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #40 on: Jan 15, 2015 10:58 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

All this work had made Korra even hungrier, and she made to dig in, but stopped, remembering where she was. She tried eating as she usually saw Asami eat, as opposed to her sloppy manners on her “date” with Bolin four years ago, and found she actually enjoyed the food more, making sure to compliment Head Cook Zhao and his staff as Asami would. Looking around the table, Korra laughed, saying, “I’ve learned some manners over the past four years, so you can stop staring at me now. Plus, I’m enjoying the food more this way.” Glad to see that Iroh II, President Raiko and Buttercup were no longer looking at her like she was Amon, Korra began to turn to Asami beside her. Before she could pick up her sake glass to make a toast to world peace with Asami, President Raiko surprised her by saying, “I know you don’t see me as much more than a politician and ally, Avatar Korra, but I’d like you to explain just how Uncle Iroh is here, much less how he’s drinking tea next to Zuko. Official start of the conference or not, I’d like to know just what in the blazes is going on. There’s been all sort of funny, weird business over the past four days - aside from Kuvira’s attack.” Briefly looking at Kuvira, who was seated next to Su, Prince Wu, Lin, Kai, Opal, who had Bolin and Mako at her own side, then back at Korra with a sterner expression, President Raiko continued, “Especially after Kuvira’s attack - I saw that glowing earthen shield around the Republic City Spirit Portal, and I don’t think it’s for decoration, especially given it has the four elemental symbols on it.”

Korra was shocked, and had to try very hard to hide it - this wasn’t very like President Raiko at all, and given Firelord Izumi’s surprised small gasp, she was shocked as well. Korra was going to start talking, but she noticed something odd out of the corner of her eye. One of the waiters had shown an excited expression far beyond any his co-workers had shown, then quickly jerked, as though he had betrayed something. Looking at his face, Korra didn’t recognize him from the kitchen - at all. Korra said, “Just a moment - I need to fix my shoe,” making to bend over and adjust her shoe, striking the ground lightly with her hand instead and keeping it there. That “waiter’s” heart was beating awfully fast. As though he could sense her action, he said immediately after her hand had struck the floor, “Oh gosh, I have to use the bathroom - I’ve been holding it until I needed to take plates back to the kitchen. Be right back.”

Once he had left in a controlled run, Lin said, pointing at Korra, “I felt you earthsensing that waiter, Korra, and given the way he ran off after you struck the floor, he has something to hide. Given your broadening smile, you must have been able to sense it before he even left.” Korra said, smiling as she shut the door through which the “waiter” had left and locking it for good measure with her bending, “I believe we might have a spy on our hands. I haven’t told anyone aside from Desna, Eska, Mai, Ty Lee, Asami and Katara, but I can do the same thing Toph can now, and his heart was beating like he was torn between terror and joy.” Before anyone could interrupt, Korra continued, “Given the fact that he said he needed to use the bathroom at the exact same time my earthsense reached him, I’m pretty sure who he is a spy for - Jinshu Kuangmai. I’m not going to apprehend him just yet - we’re going to play a little game with him. When he’s in the room, we will not talk about anything too secret.” Seeing President Raiko’s grumpy expression, Korra said, “Don’t worry - I’ve got a little trick of my own. With Raava’s help, I can read people now, as well as give and receive information without speaking. I call it ‘infobending’, and will use it to update people after we’ve had our ‘fun’ with this spy, in case there are any other, more competent ones present, or a listening wire.” Noting with displeasure that President Raiko still looked annoyed, Korra added, “We have plenty to talk about that isn’t highly sensitive anyways - the fate of the Earth Kingdom, a bit about recent events in the Spirit World, Kuvira’s sentencing, though parts of that will not be discussed and only infobended, as well as a little something else I came up with to yank Jinshu Kuangmai around.” Korra felt her father tap her on her shoulder, Tonraq saying, “I don’t know where all this came from - when you were growing up and during your first years as active Avatar, you were never one for subtleties.” Korra laughed, saying, “The past four years has taught me a lot, and I infobended more than just physical combat knowledge from Mai - her experiences with ‘cloak and dagger’ during Aang’s time were very useful.”


Breathing a sigh of relief as President Raiko’s expression softened, apparently finding her exchange with her father humorous, everyone present pretended to not notice how the “waiter” opened the door by himself. Still clueless, he said, “Okay, I’m good now. It doesn’t look like the Avatar is done eating, so I will wait here to personally take her plates back to the kitchen.” Man, this guy is bad - really bad. I’m pretty sure I’d make a better spy than him. Suppressing the snort caused by Raava’ internal comment, Korra said, “Given the fact that almost everyone but myself is done eating, we may as well start the conference. First item of business : the fate of the Earth Kingdom. Prince Wu, why don’t you tell everyone what you told me and Mako at the Zhurrick wedding? I don’t think many people know your exact plan. You have been… singing a lot over the past four days, as you said while we were waiting on the food before Head Cook Zhao came out.” Before Prince Wu could speak, Zuko, Mai, Ty Lee, Tenzin, Pema, Kya, Bumi, Katara, Jinora, Asami, Zhu Li, Varrick, Su, Firelord Izumi and Iroh II all laughed loudly, Zuko quipping “Good - it sounds like Admiral Zhao finally got demoted.” Uncle Iroh barely stifled a chuckle of his own, failing to contain it after Zuko’s witticism. Apparently Head Cook Zhao had heard, as he popped his head out into view, saying blankly, “It’s a pity I can’t get that blasted name changed. And before you ask, I am not related to Admiral Zhao, and I despise him. I have heard rumors he’s trapped in some awful spirit prison, as he deserves richly. That is all.” His neutral tone and the way his head vanished instantly just made everyone start laughing, people joining in who had no idea who Admiral Zhao was. Forgetting herself, Korra said, “I’ll have Aang help infobend who this Admiral Zhao is to those who don’t know later.” Her mouth curled slightly in a small frown when she saw the spy’s eyes glisten - she would have to be really careful with her words, as would everyone else. Given the stare Lin was giving Korra, she had noticed the unnamed spy’s expression as well.

Given Prince Wu’s unusually controlled expression, he must have seen Lin’s stare as well - he was seated in between Su and Lin, after all. Given how he was rubbing his arm, Lin must have given him a slightly more obvious reminder as well. Prince Wu took a deep breath, saying, “While I do enjoy a good laugh - you simply must show me who this Admiral Zhao is later, Korra - I think it is time for business. The sooner this is done, the sooner I can siiiing!” Prince Wu gulped, apparently put off by Tenzin’s glare, ignoring a laughing Pema next to him. Prince Wu continued after smiling at Pema, having apparently noticed her after all, “Only a few people in this room know what my plan for the Earth Kingdom is. After seeing so much of Republic City lately and seeing the flaws in both monarchy and dictatorship, I believe the people of the Earth Kingdom should rule themselves.” Prince Wu stopped for a moment, letting the applause die down, Korra noticing the spy clapping half-heartedly. If this was the best Jinshu Kuangmai could offer, once Long Yumao was dead, Toph’s estranged son would offer no challenge. Prince Wu said, pointing at President Raiko, “Specifically, a republic, but with more freedom for the individual states. I figure after the thousands of years of oppressive monarchy and Kuvira, the people have had enough. My dream is for every state to be like Zaofu.”

Su stood up, pointing to Kuvira, and keeping an even voice, she said, “Prince Wu, I know you’re light-hearted and a little out of touch, but I never figured you for a complete fool. The Earth Kingdom has never been a very cohesive whole - just look at what happened after Earth Queen Hou-Ting’s death. Do you honestly think Kuvira’s armies are going to just vanish and give up without a fight? Especially considering what everyone else knows about Ji - Ow, Lin, stop that!” Su made to give her sister a light slap, but instead her eyes widened, realizing why Lin had used metalbending to slightly contract her sister’s headband. The spy was frowning slightly. Su continued, with a more controlled demeanor, “I can’t think of a system of government from my learning that would be appropriate for the Earth Kingdom, but I do know it needs to be strong, yet representative.” Asami coughed loudly, saying, “I assume you have heard of a board of trustees, Su - it’s a group of individuals who help restrain the boss of the company and make sure he doesn’t run it into the ground.” Asami sighed bitterly, continuing, “I guess my father’s board must have been Equalists as well, given their reaction to his actions. I didn’t replace them until Korra’s absence, as I had no time to form a new board and didn’t feel like I needed one until I began working on Republic City’s roads.” Seeing Lin and Su’s quizzical looks, Asami continued, “I see no reason that a whole nation couldn’t be run on a similar system. Each state would have a certain number of representatives, based on both population and economic contributions, to ensure fairness. Zaofu would have as many representatives as any of the largest states, given its wealth and economic influence.” Now it was Prince Wu’s turn to interrupt, saying, “That sounds like a really good idea, Asami, but there’s one problem - what about the dirt-poor states with low population? To make sure smaller states are on board with this plan, there should be a second house, with more power than the larger one, made up of, say, 92 representatives, if I remember the number of states correctly.” Noticing an odd energy course through her and her eyes glow, Korra said in an all too familiar voice that was not her own, “You forgot Kyoshi Island, Prince Wu - don’t forget about my homeland.” As what must have been Kyoshi faded, Korra wanted to hit something, but she heard a serious female voice in her head say, “I liked what you did to that shark whale - maybe you aren’t so soft after all. Now go, and help heal my homeland, and I might not hate you quite as much.”

Everyone who didn’t know about the return of the Avatar’s past lives yelped in surprise, Korra noticing with frustration that the spy was among them. Buttercup said, much to her husband’s irritation, “Oh wow - was that Avatar Kyoshi’s voice?” Before she could continue, President Raiko coughed into her ear, “Waiter!” and Buttercup’s eyes widened. Wanting to make up for her slip, she said, “Waiter, me and my husband want some more tea. Can someone get some more? I feel a little airheaded.” Buttercup gave Korra a wink, with her last comment apparently a subtle apology. Korra asked Prince Wu, “Okay - why 94 representatives? Aren’t there only 47 or so states in the Earth Kingdom?” Prince Wu held up a finger, saying, “I’m glad you asked, Korra. I figured that since there are almost always two sides to any issue, we should have two representatives per state.” President Raiko let out an “Ahem” then continuing, “The people of Republic City have experience with elections, even before the massive change four years ago that let nonbenders have a voice. I am afraid I cannot say the same for the Earth Kingdom, however, and given the rumors I have heard about activity in the south, I don’t think the Earth Kingdom will be holding nationwide elections any time soon.” Taking a breath and then pointing at Su, he said, “This is why I believe that interim leaders should be appointed until a time when the Earth Kingdom stabilizes, and no representatives or elections just yet.”

Prince Wu took a big sigh, saying angrily, “No - I want at least some input from the people right away, or this whole Earth Kingdom to United Earth Republic will mean nothing! I know of one individual who would be worthy of appointment, whose only loyalty is to the state - Minister Wong. He served under Earth Queen Hou-Ting and Kuvira alike, but from what I hear, his involvement with either one’s unsavory activities was practically nothing.” Prince Wu took a deep breath, his face no longer flushed in anger. Asami said, “You could have three ‘rulers’, elected separately from the representatives. It would be easier to get people to vote for two individuals as a taste of a representative government. Whoever gets the most votes wins and wields the most power, but not enough to override the other two on important matters.” Lin’s face brightened slightly and she said, “You mean like the Triple Threat Triads? My, uh, experience with the criminal world let me see how that gang worked, and apparently, very rarely, on really important matters, Lightning Bolt Zolt could be overridden for the good of the gang. The waterbender they call Viper was his second in command.” Lin crossed her arms, saying “Though I never did manage to find out who the third leader was - probably some earthbender we could never get our hands on.” Reaching over Prince Wu’s small body, she elbowed her sister, saying, “I think I might have just found her.” Su’s face flushed in annoyance and Kuvira began laughing hysterically.

President Raiko said, “On another note, I am utterly baffled by why a war criminal was invited here to a conference of world leaders. Let’s finalize our plan for the Earth Kingdom so we can move on to Kuvira’s sentencing.” Over the next 15 minutes, their discussion finalized the plan: the Earth Kingdom would have two different representative houses, to be filled at a later date. Any major court disputes would be referred to the three “Principal Representatives”, one of which would be Minister Wong as Second Principal Representative, the other two elected soon in areas that could… handle elections. When people thought the structure was completed, Asami said gently, “I think we may have missed something. Given how Tarrlok was an elected official but still acted like a dictator when he could, and the history of abuse of power in the Earth Kingdom, perhaps there should be some sort of rulebook for the government. It would help protect ordinary citizen’s rights - given they pay taxes and some will serve in the military, they’re a lot like investors, and investors have rights.” President Raiko said, “That’s a really good idea, Asami - I might just implement it in Republic City myself. But who will write the rulebook? The government itself, the people at this conference, or the people of the Earth Kingdom?” Asami shrugged, and a familiar figure near Zuko’s side stood up and said, “Why not all three? The unanimous decisions of the three Principal Representatives could be used as legally binding law, only being able to be overturned by themselves or the smaller house in conjunction with two of the Principal Representatives. I am sure that we can come up with some basic rights right now, and the people can add more later - though any new rules should be passed with a large percentage of the vote.”

Everyone began clapping at Uncle Iroh’s suggestion, and they came up with some basic rights - freedom of the press, no unwarranted searches of private property aside from using earthsense, the right to a fair trial, and everyone over the age of 16 being able to vote, to name a few. The actual list was much longer and included various rules on how the government could operate itself. Asami finished writing the “United Earth Republic Charter” on the top of a piece of blueprint, and Prince Wu signed the line at the bottom of the last page, officially abdicating his power. Now formerly Prince Wu stretched his arms into the air, yelling, “Time to siiiing!” A blast of air from the Tenzin family’s side of the table knocked him onto the ground, and he stood back up, saying, “Wu not down! I guess no singing, then.”

As Mako laughed hysterically, Kuvira said, “I believe we can now move on to my sentencing. Part of this will need to be infobended.” President Raiko shook his head, saying, “Given that we just took advice from an apparently partially physical human spirit to create a new form of government, I want to know just what is going on that would make Korra see the need to shut off that Spirit Portal. I mean, the walls look like they were made to contain Vaatu himself - surely, there’s no spirit running around that’s a major threat, right? Not three years after Harmonic Convergence?” Seeing how uneasy everyone was around him, with the exception of his wife, Iroh II and Wu, President Raiko said, “Why don’t you start with when you left the party with Asami, Korra - I heard reports that an airbison moving rapidly was seen leaving the crater the night after the battle in my city.”

Seeing that this was her opportunity, Korra began explaining the events of the night after the battle, pausing to let Asami tell her own story. Korra was staring at a clearly pleased but slightly nervous Uncle Iroh when Asami “accidentally” burst into hysterics after telling her childhood woes - though her sadness seemed very real and still raw. Before Tenzin could begin his part of Korra’s plan, President Raiko threw him off guard, saying, “I had heard rumors about your father forcing you to attend that ‘dating school’, Asami, and I could never figure out why someone as beautiful as yourself would need help dating. I guess we know the answer now - Hiroshi Sato always did strike me as slightly off.” President Raiko said with a sour face, “And to be quite honest, this disturbs me only slightly less than his Equalist sympathies and helping Amon.” Asami burst into real tears, taking some deep breaths before saying, “Thank you, President Raiko. I never figured you for the sentimental type.” A single tear escaped one of President Raiko’s eyes, and he said, “As someone who wanted children of his own but never had any, it makes me sad to think that you two will share a similar fate. Wait… what’s that look on your face, Asami? What…”
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Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #41 on: Jan 15, 2015 11:01 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Sensing now would be a bad time to talk about his Air Nomad scroll and its decree, Tenzin sat back down, as Korra began spilling everything up to the time she fell asleep in the artifact house. President Raiko looked happy but shocked, as did his wife, Wu was down this time, and Iroh II just kept pointing back and forth between Asami and Korra with a confused look on his face. Firelord Izumi told her son, “Iroh, it isn’t nice to point and stare! Now, please, put your hand down.” Uncle Iroh chuckled, saying, “I’m not doing anything!” Iroh II burst into laughter, which helped break the tension in the air. Wu stood up and wobbled slightly, asking, “What did I miss?” President Raiko beat Korra to the punch, saying, “Nothing. It sounds like this Long Yumao the Opportunist is the reason you made that ‘capstone’ around the Spirit Portal. I fail to see why a medium-sized spirit would need what appears to be Avatar energy to contain him, given how the pulsing lines are white.” Seeing that President Raiko was beginning to take a big breath, apparently asking more questions, Korra said, “I’m afraid further details of this ‘Spirit Civil War’ that Uncle Iroh warned us about will need to be infobended.” With a satisfied look on his face, President Raiko said to an ill-at-ease Tenzin, “It looks like you have something you want to say - now spit it out! I may be patient, but it looks like you can’t keep yourself silent much longer.”

Tenzin told everyone about how he found Korra and Asami together the next morning, followed by the scroll and its contents. While Katara talked about the ‘enemy birds’, Korra thought “Now that wasn’t in the plan.” I believe one of our past lives read a book of quotes, and one of them said, “No plan survives contact with the enemy”. If you can handle a spy, I think you can handle a little deviation in this plan of yours. In the time it took Raava to “say” her piece, Eska and Desna must have started their bit. Korra looked up in time to see a surprised President Raiko open his mouth, but something unexpected happened. Everyone at the Fire Nation end of the table let out a surprised yelp, except for one. When Korra turned to see who it was, she felt tears welling up in her. Firelord Izumi said, standing tall, “I’ll do it. I’ll change the laws of the Fire Nation. From what Avatar Korra showed me on that boat, especially about my father’s sister, Azula, I want the suffering to stop, and government recognition of homosexual relationships would go a long way.” Turning to face Katara, she continued, “One of the first things my father did when he finally got a chance to rest and make changes in the Fire Nation was overhaul our abysmal schools and their lies, and I have continued his legacy. I will make sure to include your story about the ‘enemy birds’, Katara - including your brother’s hilarious antics.” Firelord Izumi let out a loud “Ooof!” as Zuko and Uncle Iroh hugged her tightly, finally managing to say, “Thank you. I love you, dad,” with some tears of her own.

Korra felt a strong hand on her shoulder, and she turned to look through happy tears to see her father say, “I never really thought of that. I bet Korra will make you a beautiful betrothal necklace, Asami. I’m in as well - it’s the least I could do for my daughter, the Avatar, and given how she helped the Southern Water Tribe three years ago while others watched - no hard feelings, President Raiko and Katara - I do not think many people will find fault with my decision.” Now it was Korra’s turn to stand up and hug her father deeply, saying, “Thank you so much. I certainly never expected this.”

When she heard a now standing Eska and Desna sighing enviously, jealous of Korra’s good relationship with her family, Korra turned to look at her cousins as her mother joined the hug. Eska and Desna said in unison, pointing to their hair, “Asami, we owe you a great debt.” Desna continued, as Eska hugged her brother lightly, “It was your story of childhood repression that inspired us to finally break free of Unalaq’s emotional prison.” Asami took a deep breath, recollecting herself, and said, “So I assume you are going to follow in Firelord Izumi and Tonraq’s footsteps then? That’s wonderful!” As they answered “Of course!” in unison, Asami made to walk around the massive table to hug them, but was stopped suddenly. Breaking her own hug, Korra laughed when she saw who it was - Wu! Apparently, Asami was not pleased, saying, “What are you doing, Wu? And why are you grabbing at my pack - there’s nothing but the… United Earth Republic… Charter… in there,” finishing by hugging Wu when she had figured out what Wu wanted. Wu said, shaking his ridiculous hair slightly, “I have a change to suggest in that document, a new right specifically, and I think you know what it is, given how you’re crying again.” Wu stopped for a moment, continuing, “You know, crying a lot isn’t good for your skin - I think it makes you break out if you leave the tears. Something about salt clogging the pores.” Asami laughed deeply, saying, “I’ll keep that in mind next time I have sad tears - these are happy ones, and I like them.”

Turning to see what the remaining world leader had to say, Korra noticed with an intense fury that the spy was yawning, looking at the clock on the wall. Korra had half a mind to do to him what she did to the shark whale, but stopped herself - she couldn’t let people’s hate or indifference get to her. President Raiko finally managed to say, “I’ll also legalize gay marriage, especially seeing as every other leader here has decided to do so. I think what Uncle Iroh said to you in the Spirit World was wrong, Korra - the world is a changed place, mostly thanks to you. Consider this a gift for all your help over the years, and a much more permanent one than your incinerated statue in Avatar Korra Park.” Uncle Iroh said loudly, “I never thought I would see this day, Korra. You still will need to win hearts and minds, however - just because something is legal doesn’t mean people will like it. I look forward to the press conference tomorrow, to see how the world reacts.”

As everyone settled down again, Kuvira said, “That was certainly unexpected. I cannot imagine that a certain individual in the Earth Kingdom will be along with this change, however - he never struck me as the loving type.” Given Kuvira’s wink to Korra and an exasperated Lin, she had made this last comment out loud on purpose, probably to rankle Jinshu Kuangmai. After returning the wink with a smile of her own Korra said, “And now, to the sentencing of Kuvira the Great Flipflopper.” As Korra listened to the laughter around her, she though inwardly, “This could be fun.” Given how Raava was giggling in her head, she thought so as well. Before Korra could begin speaking, President Raiko said, “In the interest of saving time, why don’t you just infobend the reason why Kuvira is here and Bataar Jr. is not. You may as well throw in what you have in mind for Kuvira.” Shocked at his request, Korra began with Wu, who said as she walked towards Iroh II, “Why didn’t you just turn good in the first place, Kuvira?” Kuvira gave him an angry glare, but before she could say anything, Zuko interjected, “Sometime we have to be brought to our lowest point to make the greatest change. I’d say that horrible vision that Kuvira saw was pretty low. I thought the two dragons in my fever dream were creepy - that metallo-Kuvira gave me chills!” Korra turned slightly to look at Zuko, seeing him giving her a knowing look. After the delay, she transferred Kuvira’s struggle and other events into Iroh II, who said, “Man, my life has been pretty easy - I’m lucky I had such a great mom.” Firelord Izumi gave him a big hug as Korra walked to President Raiko and Buttercup, who both looked thoroughly confused. Before Korra placed her hands on their foreheads, she said, “You’ll know in just a minute.” As Korra infobended, she realized with a start that it was much easier and faster than it used to be, so she stopped momentarily. Seeing President Raiko looking at her, she asked, “Do you want everything? Prince Wu already knows a bit more than you do thanks to Meelo, and given your expression, you don’t seem to mind.” President Raiko said, “Yes. Buttercup may as well know too - I don’t feel like keeping secrets from my wife.” Seeing Buttercup nod in agreement, he continued, “I noticed I could also feel your thoughts - specifically, how this is ‘much easier and faster than it used to be’. Put your hand back - I want to try something.” Korra began transferring information once more, with the usual censorings and starting with the beginning, she heard President Raiko’s “voice” say, “The sooner we get this over with, the less chance someone will slip up in front of that spy. Why don’t you go do what you’re doing now to Wu and Iroh II so you can play your little game with him and ‘Jinshu Kuangmai’.”

Chapter 30: The Ember Spy

As Korra stepped back, she nodded slightly once she caught President Raiko’s eye. Making sure to first remind Iroh II and Wu to not react to the information too strongly, Korra gave them a fuller - but not complete - account. When she removed her hand from Wu’s large forehead, as he was last, he said, “Awww, what rotten luck. I finally get the chance to sing as a career, and now the world might end! This sucks.” As he crossed his arms, the Beifong family - including Kuvira - erupted into laughter, Opal saying, “While I have confidence in Korra, I don’t like the ‘Sudden Death’ option either. It’s no fair - Korra and Asami have been together four days and Asami’s already pregnant, and I haven’t even groped Bolin yet!” Korra and Mako laughed as his brother fell to the floor yet again. Korra asked everyone else to put their feet on the floor, except Bolin, who was already down, flashed her eyes, then used the Avatar State to make sure everyone knew the punishment plan for Kuvira, making very sure to not “hit” the spy. Then, Korra asked loudly, “Are we all in agreement on Kuvira’s sentencing?” Seeing everyone bob their heads in agreement, even Meelo joining in and Bolin letting out a weak “Uhuh”, Korra said, “Now, to another important item of business.”

Now, it was time to enact her little plan. Before she could even speak, she could feel Raava was very excited, and Korra thought this little trick might win Avatar Kyoshi over. Korra said, after Bolin was seated again, “As you all know, Kuvira used vines from the Great Banyan tree to power her weapons once her access to Republic City vines was cut off. I have sensed somehow that the damage done to the tree has been reversed, but this is not all a good thing. If any of Kuvira’s stragglers get their hands on spirit vines again, we could be in big trouble. To my knowledge, there aren’t any stockpiles of spirit vines left.” Seeing she had the spy’s full attention, she told a decidedly white colored lie, adding, “From what I could sense of the Great Banyan tree, it had a great amount of energy infused into it. If anyone tries to cut it, it will likely fight back more strongly now, but I fear it could still be overpowered by a large group of elite metalbenders. If they manage to cut the more powerful vines… they might just be able to make a bomb powerful enough to wipe cities off the map. Think center of Republic City, but going for miles instead.”

She was barely able to resist giving an evil laugh, seeing the spy’s reaction. She even heard a little tinny voice coming from his ear - so Jinshu Kuangmai had managed to get his hands on some fairly good equipment then. Remembering what Toph had said about her son, Korra realized with a start that there was a reason this spy was so bad - he was disposable! Putting this together with the tinny voice, Korra’s eyes widened - there was probably a listening wire in the room!

Apparently, the spy had seen her eyes, as his own widened and he used earthbending and metalbending to smash through the wall behind him. As Korra’s eyes began to glow and she stepped back to avoid upending the table, Zuko said, “Oh, rats! I finally finish renovating this house and expanding it, and the spy goes through the wall!” She could hear Katara yell once she was outside, “Use your bloodbending, Korra - it’s the only way!” Korra had to run a distance away from the house before using her flame jets to avoid burning Zuko’s retreat. She carefully took off her formal dress to reveal her normal clothes beneath as she did so, making sure to toss it far from her current position - she’d need to be able to move well to catch the spy, and didn’t want to burn the dress Asami loved so much. Her initial delay and change of clothes let the spy escape a fair distance using a move Bolin had told her about - “earthwalking”. Already glowing eyes flashing, she struck her foot against the ground, trying to see where the spy was fleeing. She noticed he was slower than Bolin, but was making a beeline for the other end of the island. Using her firebending to propel herself rapidly, she caught up quickly, suprising him by saying “Game’s up!” as he earthwalked, sending him tumbling.

He recovered quickly and whipped out what looked like a medicine pill, saying, “I may not have gotten much, but you won’t ‘infobend’ me! I’ll be too DEAD! Glory to Jinshu Kuangmai!” Time slowed as he began to put his hand closer and closer to his mouth, but Korra just smirked and began to halt his movements with Avatar State bloodbending, making him flick the capsule away. Seeing the panicked look of his face, Korra said, “I’m afraid you won’t be taking your medicine today, spy. I’m going to bring you back to Zuko’s house now - someone there can help me pry your little secrets. And don’t even bother trying to send reinforcements, Jinshu Kuangmai - I know about the little earpiece and the listening wire.” Relaxing her grip on his head, his features started moving again. Given the expression on the spy’s face, he must have just gotten an earful from his boss, as he looked slightly distraught, saying, “He told me I’m disposable and dead to him anyways for my failure. But I don’t care - he’s right! The Earth Empire must prevail!” After he spat in Korra’s face, she vaguely considered following through with her impulse from earlier, but decided not to.

Once she had bloodbent him back to the house, she noticed plenty of people were staring at her in disbelief. Korra yelled out, “Mai, I need your help! Give this rat a paralyzing dose - I need him conscious!” The spy screamed, “Wait, NO! No no no!” Not wanting to hear whatever drivel he had to say, Korra clamped his mouth shut, Tenzin saying, “I guess that part of the training did come in handy after all.” As she told everyone about the spy’s words, Mai said, “Want me to give him something to permanently knock him out after? It sounds like he’s quite the zealot, and given his bending abilities, it doesn’t sound like he’d be an easy prisoner.”

Korra sighed, still focusing on maintaining her hold, “I’m sure I will figure something out. Just go ahead and paralyze him so I can get started.” One “Ffft” later, and the spy’s body was so rigid Korra was afraid she’d kill him if she continued bloodbending, so she laid him on the ground gently. She had no smile on her face as his eyes looked at her in terror while Korra placed her hand on his forehead.

After finsing out where the spy’s microphone was located and crushing it, the first major thing she found out when she resumed infobending was the location of the listening wire. The spy had hidden it on a potted plant’s strong stem out of sight and out of detection by earthsense. Figuring Kuvira would enjoy destroying it, Korra again stopped temporarily and told her the location of the listening wire. Kuvira came back out, holding the medium-sized microphone and large battery in her hands, saying to the microphone, “I guess you figured we were going to be talking a long time, didn’t you, Jinshu Kuangmai? You should just give up, and stop fighting your conscience, if you have one. I did, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I feel so much lighter - Mother Suyin considers me her daughter now.” After a little bit, Korra heard loud tinny cursing from the spy’s right ear, and everyone began laughing, making the curses even worse. Meelo said, no longer sitting on Bumi’s shoulders, “See, mom? THOSE are the words I want to learn!” Remembering what he had been told about Jinshu Kuangmai, Meelo said as he returned to Bumi’s shoulders, “I may be a nine year old airbender who designs weapons, but your blood-iron bending is just sick!” A short time later, more cursing, though Korra managed to hear the low words, “What weapons, TELL ME! Do your job, you fool! I don’t care if you’re paralyzed.” Korra laughed, saying, “I think Meelo has something else to say to you,” and after she told Meelo what she overheard, he puffed out his chest, saying, “I’m not gonna tell you, Jinshu Kuangmai! And I’m not gonna call you Mister either - only good people get that honor!” Zuko snickered after the word “honor”, and as Korra turned to look at him, she noticed Uncle Iroh was crying.

Uncle Iroh yelled, pointing at Korra, “Can’t you just end this already? It’s not nice to toy with people, even if they are your enemies. And I don’t think you should kill this spy, either - we can always make him a wooden prison like Kuvira and Bataar Jr. were in.” Thinking for a moment, Uncle Iroh continued, “Though, I don’t see why Bataar Jr. needed a wooden cage - he’s no bender.” When Uncle Iroh finished, Korra removed the earpiece from the spy’s ear so everyone could hear. A voice that sent chills down her spine said clearly, “Whoever you are, I need none of your sympathy or pathetic mercy. That spy is a failure, and deserves death, as he knows.” As Uncle Iroh’s face filled with sadness, Jinshu Kuangmai continued, “You should have heard about my special talent, and if we ever meet, I’ll be sure to choke you real nice and slow - I love making weaklings suffer. Ah, the fear in their eyes…” Uncle Iroh let out a loud, sad grunt, saying, “Whoever you are, you must have a lot of hurt inside you. My other nephew, Princess Azula, was like that. She never trusted anyone, and eventually, she went insane.” The earpiece howled in a sound more bone-chilling than Vaatu’s voice, “You know NOTHING about true power, old man! Azula was a genius! When I choke the life from Avatar Korra, bloodbending or not, then we’ll see who’s crazy! NNNNGUUYYYAAAHH!” With that final grunt, a static sound came from the earpiece - apparently, Jinshu Kuangmai didn’t want to talk anymore.
Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #42 on: Jan 15, 2015 11:03 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

As Uncle Iroh just shook his head sadly and Kuvira crushed the listening wire, making sure to not spill the battery’s juice on anyone, Korra distracted herself by infobending the spy again. The next thing she found out required immediate attention - there was a relay boat nearby, and she could somehow sense she knew one of its passengers! After a short explanation, she ran to an outcrop of rock and used flame jets to soar into the sky, and she spotted the large boat immediately. It was disguised to look like a fishing boat, but it had a fairly large radio tower on its deck, and she assumed it must have been metalbent together on the deck. Apparently, it had defenders, as she had to dodge incoming metal projectiles and what she could have sworn was a small blast of energy that brought back bad memories. Not wanting to hurt or drown anyone, she used her bloodbending to black out the hostile soldiers, remembering what Kuvira had done to the guard outside her cell with the necklace. She then encased each their bodies in a ring of ice so if they woke up they wouldn’t be able to bend metal. She had sensed one figure cowering by the radio tower who she felt no need to bloodbend - she recognized him quickly. Or rather, his trembling voice - his appearance took longer to register. He was a wreck.

The figure ran over, apparently very glad someone had come to his rescue. Korra said, “It’s okay, Shiro Shinobi - all those soldiers will be out for quite a while, and they won’t break out of that ice easy. Why are you here?” Shiro Shinobi began sobbing even harder, saying, “My family and I were kidnapped a day after the battle in Republic City from our tents, and we were taken to Zaofu by rail, where this horrible man said he’d choke my family to death if I didn’t help him with his radios. He wasn’t right, Korra - I have read of Azula, and he reminded me of her a lot.” Taking a deep breath, Shiro Shinobi continued, “There’s a lot I need to tell you - some of the people who were handling us were careless, and we saw things we shouldn’t have.” The same voice she had heard earlier that chilled her to the bone boomed from a loudspeaker on the deck, saying, “I know I said I’d kill your family if you failed, Shiro Shinobi, but now we have a new ‘deal’! Take the pill I gave you, or your family dies!”

Shiro Shinobi looked like he seriously considered it for a minute, panicking Korra back into the Avatar State - she wanted to be able to stop him if need be. Shiro Shinobi instead took out a receiver from his tattered trademark vest, slamming it onto the deck and then spitting next to it. Before Jinshu Kuangmai could react, he yelled, “I talked about this with my wife, if either one of us should be threatened with death. She said not to do anything like your order! I don’t know who you are, but you certainly don’t understand love! I’m not helping you and your horrible plans anymore!” Jinshu Kuangmai said, with anticipation in his voice, “Very well - I see you have made your decision. I look forward to their looks of terror and their final gasps.” Before smashing the receiver, Shiro Shinobi said, “My wife will still try and spit in your face, even with that horrible talent of yours! Scumbag!” The crunch satisfied Korra deeply - she was pretty sure she was going to kill Jinshu Kuangmai when she got the chance.

Shiro Shinobi collapsed to the deck, weeping profusely. Korra said, “I will leave this ship alone after we take a little look around. I’ll bend a warning into the metal deck.” Korra pointed at what appeared to be a solitary “small” spirit cannon on the prow of the boat, saying, “I get the feeling that’s what shot at me on the way in. Is that one of the things you saw? In… wait. Zaofu?!?” Shiro Shinobi looked up, with steely eyes, saying, “Yes. Apparently, Kuvira had developed smaller spirit weapons but did not feel comfortable using them in the battle four days ago. I read the text on one inside Zaofu and it said, ‘WARNING: Prototype. Not for battle use.’ Shiro Shinobi shook his head, continuing, “Speaking of Zaofu - the soldiers following Jinshu Kuangmai were making preparations for some massive earthbending project, given the lines they were creating around the former domes of Zaofu. They even diverted the rivers, to some unseen location, apparently in the mountains. There were at least a thousand soldiers there in elite metalbending armor. But, the thing is - there were no building materials. As I left on the train again, I noticed that central Zaofu looked… lower somehow, as well as the other five lotuses. Well, they aren’t lotuses any more… It was like they were gradually sinking Su’s city into the earth, to make the central lotus and its five sisters into an underground stronghold.” Suddenly remembering another detail, Shiro Shinobi added, “That might explain the massive thin sheets of shiny metal lying around. If they somehow were able to surround the sunken portions of the city with platinum, not even the best earthbender could detect them.”

Realizing that what Shiro Shinobi had to say was very important, Korra bent her warning to Jinshu Kuangmai onto the deck - basically, that he was as good as dead if she got her hands on him - and then formed an iceboard like she had earlier with Asami. Both were silent as they returned to Zuko’s property.

After everyone was seated at the table again and the spy gagged and bound to a wooden chair out of earshot, the silence that Shiro Shinobi’s downcast presence caused finally proved to be too much for President Raiko. He asked, “Why does Shiro Shinobi look so crushed, and why is he here, Korra? He looks like someone just killed his family or something! Are you all right?” Shiro Shinobi wailed, “You’re right, President Raiko - that evil scumbag Jinshu Kuangmai did just kill my family!” As everyone stared and some wept, Shiro Shinobi explained what had happened to him over the past days, finishing with Korra’s warning to Jinshu Kuangmai on the boat’s deck. When he finished, Su was weeping bitterly, saying, “My city… that’s just awful! Did you manage to see if the civilians were safe, away from Zaofu? That man is a monster… your whole family, asphyxiated!” Shiro Shinobi took a deep breath, saying, “I believe that all nonbender civilians had been taken somewhere else, benders forced to help. I did see a suspicious looking ‘crack’ in a nearby mountain’s foot - maybe that’s where they are. Now that I think about it, that’s where the water was diverted to as well - that horrible man must have made a secondary hideout, deep inside the mountains.” Having heard the story a second time, Korra said sadly, “It sounds like whatever Jinshu Kuangmai has planned for Zaofu, it’s pretty serious. If what Shiro Shinobi said about the number of elite metalbenders is true, once we win against Jinshu Kuangmai, it will take me a long time to get Zaofu back above the surface, even with help.” Kuvira finally managed to wipe the glare off her face, saying, “It’s a good thing I never promoted Jinshu Kuangmai past third in command - given his behavior, it probably wouldn’t have been long before I had a mysterious death. And what he’s done to Shiro Shinobi’s family, and my adoptive home… it just sickens me.”

Meelo said loudly, jumping up onto the table and somehow managing to not break any dishes, “I know one thing we can do to stop Jinshu Kuangmai - kill him! And yesterday, I helped Asami, Kuvira, Zhu Li and Varrick come up with some good ways to do so!” Asami took this as her cue to move aside the plates in front of her, but before she could whisk out the blueprints, Head Cook Zhao said loudly, “Staff, please clear the table - it looks like. Wait. What are you doing, Avatar Korra?” Korra had entered the Avatar State and was using it to clear the table, saying, “Helping out!” Knowing full well that for the next part of the meeting she wouldn’t be of much help, Korra slowly walked to a corner of the room, and fell asleep curled up from cumulative exhaustion.

When she woke back up, she saw Asami’s face in front of her, Korra’s fancy dress in hand. She made to grab for Asami and kiss her love on the lips, but Asami said, “Not right now. We aren’t done just yet. As we talked, we realized that a lot of what we need depends on you, Korra - you have to retrieve most of the tuber-vines, you’re the one who needs to bend up the ore from around Ember Island, and I’d like it if you would provide design input as well.” Still sleepy, Korra groaned as Asami picked her upper body off the floor, saying, “Without your input, we never would have been able to get the armblade design finalized yesterday. Come on - I’ll get you some leftovers. There was plenty of meat.”

Once Korra had eaten and drank plenty of tea, she actually felt like a human again and not some wispy, sleepy spirit. The large table now clear, Meelo was sitting in the middle with a long stick, pointing to all the blueprints that Korra recognized from yesterday, as well as some new ones. Given how Meelo avoided these, they must have been someone else’s idea and he was just the artist. Pointing at the one nearest to her that was new, Korra asked, “What’s this thing? It looks like a tank, but not any that I’ve ever seen. Where are the firing ports for the benders?”

Bumi grinned broadly at the same time that Asami said, “Bumi and I created that. You might recognize the lines from yesterday as spiritwire, but given how your finger is lingering over the scales, you don’t know what those are.” Bumi said, pointing to the overall shape of the tank, “I was the one who came up with this shape, using inspiration from different bending arts. The overall form is much sleeker than old tanks, increasing speed. Drag will be a consideration, if we use tuber-vines to power it.” Before Korra could object, Bumi continued, “I know you said there were only 30 tuber-vines in existence, but this is just an idea at the moment. I don’t think we’re going to be using the land vehicles against Long Yumao, and we’ll be busy constructing the aircraft carrier, the Flying Hogmonkeys, the Ferocious Lemurs and retrofitting the battleships as is.” Korra said, pointing to the scales again, “So this tank is designed with fighting Jinshu Kuangmai in mind. What are these scales made out of?”

Asami looked down to the table sheepishly, as though that had been her main contribution to the idea. Asami said, looking up now with a frown, “Originally, they were just iron, and the hull beneath was coated in platinum. I don’t think there’s enough platinum in that mineral vein to coat all the tanks and scales with it.” Given that Firelord Izumi did not interrupt, she must have already been told of the massive vein’s existence. Korra said gently, “I still think the scales are a good idea, but not against a bunch of mad, zealous metalbenders. Maybe we’ll find another use for them.” Korra pointed to the tank’s main gun, saying, “I assume this weapon here is similar to the spirit cannons underneath the Flying Hogmonkey’s wings?” Meelo shook his head enthusiastically, and Korra asked, “Then what’s this thing on top of the tank’s turret? Which, I may add, looks very odd - more like a really angular box than anything.” Bumi pointed to the odd form, saying, “That’s where the airbending inspiration, as well as waterbending, comes in. Any physical attack made against it should bounce or ping off due to the angles, doing no damage.” Zhu Li said, “The gun on top is something Varrick came up with. It shoots a smaller projectile than the Varrick gun on the Flying Hogmonkey and uses a spring mechanism to self-reload and eject something he called a ‘shell’.” Zhu Li laughed, saying, “Varrick always has had such an imaginative mind - I haven’t even gotten a chance to make the first batch of Lipowder, much less test it, and he’s already thinking of ways to use it.” Varrick said, pointing to an odd large ‘shell’ below the tank, saying, “Spirit energy isn’t the only thing this tank can shoot. That shell contains a large amount of the same compound I used to attack Asami’s shipments, back before my change of heart.” Asami stuck her tongue out at Varrick slightly, making him laugh. Varrick finished, saying, “It explodes on contact, much like the Meesiles. I figure this thing needs a secondary weapon in case Jinshu Kuangmai comes up with a spirit weapon deterrent of his own. I figure I might be able to make a solid version of the shell as well, for armor piercing.”

Before Varrick could finish picking up another schematic - apparently he wasn’t done talking, as usual - Korra asked, “How are we going to produce the aircraft and aircraft carrier fast enough for them to make a difference? Republic City was gutted pretty badly by the blast, and as such I don’t think the URN is going to be doing much manufacturing soon.” To Korra’s surprise, Bolin raised his hand, putting it back down again when he saw Korra looking, and said, “Firelord Izumi suggested that she could help manufacture the planes, so I added that metalbenders could help. Avatar State metalbending could be a huge timesaver on the aircraft carrier. Also, there’s no platinum in the planes, and if we can get even a small number of metalbenders loyal to Kuvira and not Jinshu Kuangmai to join us, they should be good help.” Kuvira said after coughing, pointing to herself, “There were plenty of naïve idealists in the army, just wanting to help their country like Bolin did. Once they see that Jinshu Kuangmai is in charge, they will likely leave.” Seeing more than just a few people were giving her odd looks, Kuvira finished, “I may not have been the nicest person myself until recently, but Jinshu Kuangmai makes no effort to hide his malice. I just hope he doesn’t catch any running off - death by choking is no fun. I’ve seen his little trick in full action before.”

Glad to see an opening in the conversation again, Varrick pulled two blueprints closer to Korra. One had a body and turret that resembled the unnamed tank, except the weapons were pointing upwards, and the other had the same body as the tank but a very different weapon and no turret. Pointing to the first, Varrick said, “This vehicle is more specialized than the tank - its role is anti-aircraft duties. Given that we have no idea what Jinshu Kua - ugh, I’m sick of saying that horrible name, especially given it means ‘Metal Veins’! I’m just going to call his army the Metal Vein Army.” Before he could continue, multiple people nodded their heads in agreement, Kuvira adding emphatically, “Sounds like a good idea to me. Every time you say his name, I see his face… Those cold, dead eyes…” She shuddered slightly as Varrick continued, “Given we have no idea what the Metal Vein Army is going to look like tomorrow, especially with what Shiro Shinobi told us about smaller spirit weapons, we need to be prepared. Anything we’ve designed so far could take down the slow moving war balloons, but this anti-aircraft vehicle is designed for faster targets.” Varrick pointed at a long, four-rod arrangement in the lower center of the skyward facing turret, saying, “This is a VarriMag gun. I want these to be able to hit both air and land targets. The four smaller guns above it are scaled down versions of the tank’s main gun. They can be fired in a pattern, continuously, or in bursts. This vehicle is also driven by tuber-vine energy, and is a concept only.” Seeing Korra point at the six holes she recognized as a Varrick gun, Varrick finished, “And my namesake gun is on the side, using an ammunition belt to feed it.”

Mako leaned over, pointing at all these different guns, saying, “What’s to prevent someone from bending these into scrap? You could coat the outside of the guns with platinum, but that would be expensive.” Asami let out a small “Hmm”, and as Korra turned to face her, she saw Asami was getting out her electroglove. Mako said at the same time Asami did, “Electricity!” Mako said as Asami admired the glove idly, “It might not help against really good metalbenders, but you could put an electrical current over the hull and turret to discourage physical contact. You could probably even do it through the spiritwires.” Korra had an interesting thought, and finally let Raava out, careful to put her in a seat and not on top of the blueprints. Korra asked a pleasantly surprised Raava, “Do you think that the spiritwires could be configured so that they could discern friend or foe, and help serve as close in, uh, protection? Like the Great Banyan tree’s new ability.” Raava shook her head, just making those who had not seen her new form before stare deeper, saying, “I’m afraid not. That relied heavily on the energy of the tree itself, so it wouldn’t work with just a tuber-vine.”

Seeing the odd looks, Raava got out of her seat and grew to twice Korra’s size, accidentally knocking a potted plant over in the process. Not missing a beat, she said, “I am Raava. The little girl you just saw was my new ‘human-y’ form. I know you were all informed of my changing nature, but,” she continued, now in her smaller form, “I can see you were surprised by this. I do not wish to interrupt, so I am going back into Korra now.” Korra’s mouth was wide open when she felt Raava return, and she said, “Looks like she’s actually learning some manners! Maybe I won’t make such a horrible mother after all.” Korra could hear Raava laughing in her head along with everyone else and herself.

Varrick said, pointing to the other vehicle with what Korra knew must have been a sizeable VarriMag gun in place of a turret, “This vehicle is kinetic only, no spirit weaponry. It is intended for direct fire support - the gun packs a nasty wallop! Its main weapon, obviously, is a VarriMag gun, and it needs tuber-vine power to shoot the metal projectile with sufficient force. Even if the Metal Vein Army has platinum-coated vehicles with some sort of protection against spirit energy, the kinetic force alone should destroy or punch a hole in all but the toughest targets.”
Logged

Additional datapoints acquired. Additional animated stories viewed. Directive: adjust opinion... adjusting...
First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #43 on: Jan 15, 2015 11:06 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Meelo picked up and displayed his schematic of the battleship excitedly, saying “Iroh II helped me with the design a bit - he has firsthand experience with aircraft and ships,” prompting a laugh from all four Fire Nation family members present as well as President Raiko. It looked much as Korra had imagined it would - Meelo was a master artist. As Meelo trotted out his aircraft designs once more, satisfied everyone liked the battleship, Shiro Shinobi interrupted when Meelo was showing the Ferocious Lemur. He looked slightly confused, saying, “This plane looks a lot different than what you called a Flying Hogmonkey. Where did you get its shape? I swear I’ve seen something like it before, but I’m not exactly sure what.” Meelo looked like he was going to yell at Shiro Shinobi at first, but he shut his slightly open mouth, took a deep breath, and said, “Its shape was inspired by the new airbender suits. It was Bumi’s idea, but I added the two vertical ‘tail fins’ and moved the two engines to the back in between the tail fins.” Meelo, now smiling, finished, “Given where you’re pointing, Mister Shiro Shinobi, you noticed the condenser ring at the end of the engines. It’s there for finer thrust and direction control - it can move, sending the spirit energy pulse up or down.” Shiro Shinobi looked slightly embarrassed, apparently remembering the airbending suits. Pointing his finger at a Meesile, “Wait. On the guidance of these weapons. Have you considered using radio control? An airbender could accompany the plane and use their arms to control the bomb or missile somehow, like a remote control toy.” Tenzin said dryly, “While that would be a good idea if there were lots of airbenders, there currently are not that many. Many of us may be more willing to go to war, given the price for failure if we don’t, but we’re still too few.” Shiro Shinobi scratched his head, saying, “Wait - what? I know your son is designing weapons, but I am not sure I understand what is going on. Airbenders other than Zaheer willing to kill? Price if you don’t go to war? I’ve been cooped up by that psycho for the past few days. Is there something big I’m going to need to announce? I don’t like the looks I’m getting right now.”

Taking a big sigh, Korra said, “Well, you already know about Jinshu Kuangmai obviously, so I suppose letting you in won’t hurt. Plus, you will have something big to announce tomorrow. Given you just lost your family, I’m not going to insult you by reading you. Just stay still.” Korra could see, then feel Shiro Shinobi’s confusion, and once she was done, he said, “I thought things couldn’t get much worse than Vaatu and Harmonic Convergence. I guess I was wrong. Say, Korra - you saved my life.  As a repayment, as small as it is, I am willing to throw my support behind your relationship with Asami and the decision on marriage by the world leaders.” Varrick walked over, seemingly having gotten an idea from what Shiro Shinobi had said, saying, “I’ve had an idea for a while - Avatar interviews! With the new SpectroMover camera, if you project out and talk to your past lives, Korra, they should show up on film.” Korra asked hesitantly, “What does this have to do with what Shiro Shinobi said, again?” Varrick said, with a gleam in his eye, “I remember your talk with Avatar Wan and Avatar Garkan from the ‘party’, and I think we could exchange favors. You interview the last five Avatars and give me rights to the films, and I’ll let you use my camera to interview Avatar Garkan, as well as the sob stories you haven’t heard yet. Their stories would be useful in winning over people, as Uncle Iroh suggested.” Zhu Li got up and said, “Varrick, that doesn’t sound like a very fair deal - We’d make a lot of money off the last five Avatar’s interviews, and Korra would get not a single yuan. Plus, I don’t think Avatar Kyoshi would be on board with this, given her… relationship with Korra.”

Varrick pointed in the direction of the kitchen, saying, “If I go through with my deal with Admi - I mean, Head Cook Zhao, I’m going to need money! Quite a bit of it.” Zhu Li said in an angrier voice, “Oh, so it’s okay to exploit Korra and Asami, but not some guy you just met today? Screw the money, we have rules! Such as ‘Don’t exploit people like Varrick did Bolin.’” Asami, Korra and Bolin began laughing wildly as Varrick’s face turned beet purple just like it had earlier on the boat. Bolin added, “You may have gotten a lot of the profits off Nuktuk, but at least I got to hang out with Ginger!” Bolin was knocked back into a wall by a blast of air, Opal saying with a false voice, “What was that, Bolin? Something about getting to hang out with herbs?” Bolin stood up and shook his head violently up and down, saying, “Yes ma’am. I loved hanging out with the ginger spice on the set. It tasted great in my food. Mmm-mmm good.” Varrick burst into laughter, pointing at himself and then Bolin, then at Zhu Li and Opal, finally saying, “I guess you and I have something BIG in common!” This remark earned them both light slaps, Opal adding, “At least Bolin knows it,” Zhu Li snickering lightly.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Korra asked Varrick, “How about we split the money inversely - you get 60% from the five Avatar interviews, and Asami and I get 60% from the other ones, which will include biographies - maybe more than one - about my own life and Asami’s, what they cover depending on when they are made. For the last two series, you will provide good, accurate actors, at no cost to us.” Given Varrick’s expression, Korra must have made a good deal, given how he was standing idle, saying, “Dang Zhu Li.” After mumbling, “Aang, Roku and Kyoshi will sell like hotcakes,” Varrick extended a hand and said, “You’ve got a deal. Now let’s finish this conference.”

As Korra shook his hand, she could tell his heart was not racing as it might have been had his reaction just been a show to get her agreement. Korra let out a sigh, saying, “And now, back to the business of war. Every world leader here has been shown what will happen if they don’t do their part to ensure Jinshu Kuangmai doesn’t take over the northern Earth Kingd - I mean, United Earth Republic.” Shaking her head slightly and taking a deep breath, Korra said, “Team Avatar is going to be spread thin, and I’m not really quite sure what the first moves in the Spirit Civil War should be, but I have already asked Eska and Desna to ask Yue for help. If any of you know friendly or neutral spirits who might have sympathy for humanity, especially powerful ones, please ask them for help. Do so cautiously, however - there is no telling who Long Yumao has converted and who he has not. I can see your look Katara, but no - don’t plead for the help of spirits who are tied to a place like the Painted Lady, or even Hei-Bai, unless they want to help.” Seeing Firelord Izumi’s look, Korra added, “We can go to the Fire Nation for the special address tomorrow. Shiro Shinobi, see if you can contact the world press with Varrick and Zhu Li’s help - I am going to need to give a press conference before the speech at the Fire Nation’s capital. Tell them to come to Ember Island.”

Remembering she was on a tropical island, Korra said, “I didn’t come all the way out here to just talk, and have no fun - we’re on Ember Island! Unless anyone has an objection with what I just said, I’m going to go surfing with Asami.”

No one had any objections. Korra grabbed Asami, knowing full well that tomorrow would likely be very stressful, especially the press conference. She would need to relish this time, and when she told Asami as much, Asami replied, “Like you don’t relish every moment with me anyways. Now let’s find some skimpy swimsuits and go surfing.” As they changed, Korra admired Asami’s pale, beautiful body, prompting Asami to say, “I remember that bubble you made under the sea with Katara - maybe you could make an ice bubble like Aang made.” Asami fished in her belongings, pulling out a familiar form that made Korra very excited. “We can have some fun - I know you love the cold and the thingies.”

Once Korra tired of surfing with Asami, she chose an isolated, shallow spot near the shore. Korra made the ice ball’s wall thick enough so she couldn’t see out or, importantly, hear anything. With a giggle, she bent the characters for “Keep Out” onto its visible surface and proceeded to have fun in the “sun”.

Chapter 31: Hardened Steel

Jinshu Kuangmai did not smile often, but as he saw the labors of his soldiers and the “volunteers” from Zaofu who were benders in the morning light, he could not help it. Zaofu had been gutted of all civilian comforts, replaced with different things in the various sections. Kuvira had already started some of the work, making sure to leave room for the residents who chose to stay, for some emotional reason. He had just kicked them out, having his soldiers create living quarters for them inside a nearby mountain, except for the bender “volunteers” now helping him in his own undertaking.

Suppressing a snicker - he had always found emotional attachments baffling and slightly funny, even Kuvira’s weak ones - he returned to his thoughts. Turning away from the actual more than slightly sunken city and the tamed river, he looked at the blueprints he drafted the night of Kuvira’s betrayal of the Earth Empire. He had made sure to make a show of them to his troops, to much applause.

I regret showing them so soon. I should have just choked the idealists when I had the chance.

Shaking his head violently, preferring to not think anything and only admire his work. One former dome was now a basic science lab, another, a manufacturing facility for minor but necessary equipment such as uniforms and boots. Two of the remaining former domes were devoted to a combination of training and breaking of “recruits”, as well as training of loyal soldiers, making sure to mix the two. A lot of his most ardent supporters did his work of instilling fear for him, relishing the chance to yield power themselves. The thought of soldiers and power gave him a fierce scowl, dragging back what he had brushed aside just a minute ago - a whole company’s worth, maybe more, of metalbenders had managed to escape while he was admiring his completed plans for Zaofu on the train, having torn a hole in the back of the train carrying himself and those who were loyal towards their new stronghold.

The nerve of some people.

The sneer vanished when he remembered who they were - idealists, fools, like that naïve Bolin yuckity-yuck who betrayed Kuvira a good time ago.

What a gullible idiot.

As far as he was concerned, Kuvira or the remnants of the Earth Kingdom were welcome to them, and none of them had paid his blueprint much attention anyways.

This last thought brought to mind something that made him so mad he wanted to use his special skill on someone, and not to choke them - something far nastier. The fact that most of the northern Earth Empire had declared itself independent through actions in Ba Sing Se had infuriated him. Before he even had a chance to contact Kuvira’s troops in the city, a bedraggled lot of loyalists had appeared on the tracks while he was in transit to Zaofu. They told him of how Kuvira’s conscripts and citizens of the city had destroyed all military-grade radio equipment in concert and then attacked, taking those relative few elite soldiers stationed in Ba Sing Se by surprise. His mood only darkened further when he remembered how the soldiers told him some random peasant girl had given a “stirring” speech, causing everyone but the soldiers who had come to him to defect!

For being so weak, certain emotions sure manage to make a lot of trouble, love being one in particular.

If he were a powerful spirit, he’d destroy every emotion except for one - fear. Taking his anger out on an annoyingly cute creature that had landed on his blueprints of the new Zaofu, he felt better as he watched the life leave its eyes, tossing its slightly bloody corpse away, again using his special talent to do so.

As he looked up, he saw a shimmer in front of him - that of a three-year old boy crying. Dismissing it as a trick of the light and ignoring a small voice in his head he had thought he killed long ago through his actions, he returned to his study of the blueprints.

Some little nagging goody two-shoes isn’t going to break me. Not after this long.

As he looked at the blueprints, he thought of one upside of the destruction of the military-grade radio equipment in Ba Sing Se - they would not be able to contact the outside world. Given how he had not heard of the Avatar visiting the area, he knew his assumption was right. Shaking his head to regain focus and swat away the annoying gnat of a voice in his head, he looked at the blueprints once again. The final smaller “dome” was to be used to store supplies, especially food - the stockpile Kuvira had left behind would only last so long, and he would need to “acquire” food from the surrounding lands soon. As he closed his eyes in anticipation of the peasant’s fear, he saw a glimmering medal - in the shape of his accursed mother’s family crest, a flying boar.

He imagined crushing it with his metal bending, and to his surprise, the vision crumpled, letting a single drop of blood fall and making sad, almost human groan as it did so. Laughing to see his mother’s symbol crushed, he opened his eyes again, loving what he saw in front of him. The central portion of the city, which he had personally gutted himself the first day in Zaofu along with some of his most enthusiastic soldiers, was to be a manufacturing facility for much larger pieces of equipment. Only things like tanks, mechasuits, basic spirit weapons and parts to war balloons were to be manufactured there. Turning his gaze to the portion of the blueprint in which he was standing now, after restless nights of work from himself and the soldiers he felt feared or respected him the most, a tear came to his eye in admiration. In the base of the largest mountain near Zaofu, he had constructed a large, sprawling secret complex using a combination of bending, spirit weapon blasts and explosives. It was intended as his command center, reservoir of water, vault for spirit vines, research facility for the next generation of Earth Empire weaponry, as well as a place to manufacture said equipment in secret. He had even sensed deposits of various metals during construction, removing them and setting the precious resource aside for later. Thinking of metal, he smiled as he remembered that platinum had been found near the civilian’s quarters. Flipping to a relevant blueprint, he looked, erasing and re-drawing portions of what was on the page, smiling at its slightly different form.

This is far superior to Kuvira’s version. I always hated those stupid, long feminine legs - weak physically and emotionally! Just like her, in the end.

When the next model of the Colossus was complete, he would have to assemble it outside, of course, but he feared no mortal - not even the Avatar. His only “fear” was that his underlings would not perform, or worse, soften or defect.

Remembering that the work outside was not done and that he had a conference to spy on later in the day, he went outside to alternatively “inspire” the “volunteers” and actually help in the sinking of Zaofu, though not out of any sympathy. As he closed his eyes and struck the earth to better sense where the next crack should be created to insert explosives, he saw the same three-year old boy from earlier again. This time, the boy spoke, asking, “Why?” He barely suppressed raucous laughter - he recognized the voice as his own! What did his conscience hope to achieve exactly - all it was doing was providing him entertainment!

You’ve lost. Go bother someone else.

Later, as he savored the scent of fear in the camp, he once again closed his eyes, blocking out distracting visual stimulus. When he did, the same young self appeared, but it felt as though his own older physical body was locked in place. When he tried to move, he saw a metallic hand move as though it were his own against the blackness. Liking what he saw, he said, “All right - I always wanted to live up to my name! To what do I owe the honor, you little pest?”

A white-haired girl appeared beside his younger self, who had an odd teapot around her neck. Feeling repulsed by the energy of this being but attracted to that inside the teapot, he said, “I don’t want to talk to either of you - you both look like you just want to yammer at me endlessly about how horrible I am. I’d rather talk to whoever is in that thing around your pencil-thin neck, girl.” The girl’s eyes opened wide in shock, and she began to cry at the same time his younger self did. As the comfortable presence within the teapot let out a deep laugh, he saw an orb he hadn’t noticed before flash, with a thin red line appearing that eventually formed the shape of yin and yang, except there was no white present. The little girl said, “I think he’s hopeless. I haven’t seen a human attracted to that scumbag’s energy since Unalaq. You’re on your own, I’m afraid, Tonga Beifong.” Before he could yell “Don’t call me that, you little insolent whelp!” both the girl and his younger self vanished, and so did the vision.

I hate unnecessary delays. What is up with this crap today?

The time in between this half tantalizing, half annoying vision and the start of the conference went by in a blur of hard work, intimidation, and solid progress on the other, physical efforts. As long as they could work without anyone knowing, he would have his perfect base.

Of course it’s perfect. It’s built out of that traitor Kuvira’s home! They won’t even be able to earthsense it once we’re done with that platinum coating. Shiro Shinobi better not spill his guts. Maybe it was a stupid decision, but I didn’t know anyone else competent enough with radio who was expendable to run the relay boat.

Anticipation running high, he joined Chief Intelligence Officer Jang in the radio room, with no one else present. Knowing his deliberate assignment of an incompetent to the physical spying job, he oversaw the direction of the operative and his radio feed, while Chief Intelligence Officer Jang used his skills to monitor the listening wire the spy had placed on a plant in advance of the conference. Over the past days, he had noticed Chief Intelligence Officer Jang no longer trembled in his boots, but respected him instead, detecting no signs of lies or fear when Chief Intelligence Officer Jang spoke to him.

More power can do that to people. Just look at how happy the elite metalbenders are with their “recruits”. I still have to be sparing with any level of trust or power sharing, though - those idealists taught me a painful lesson, as did those elephant rats in Ba Sing Se.
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Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #44 on: Jan 15, 2015 11:09 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

While the original plan had been to monitor the conference itself, Chief Intelligence Officer Jang had suggested that the lunch be monitored as well. Apparently, there was some sort of issue in the kitchen, and after the Avatar left, there was idle chatter in the room. Muting the feed to the spy, he listened as Chief Intelligence Officer Jang said, “Some of the chatter is mildly interesting, though most is idle conversation. I hear a young male voice intermittently, talking about some drawings he made of a ‘Ferocious Lemur’ and ‘Flying Hogmonkey’, but a stern adult female shushes him before he can continue. No great loss - it’s not as if a boy could design weapons.” Chief Intelligence Officer Jang scoffed a short time later, saying, “Sir, it appears that the Avatar and her boyfriend can now make blue flame, according to someone who just spoke. The trademark of your favorite firebender, I might add.” Jinshu Kuangmai scoffed, “I’d have to see it myself to believe it - both are far too weak willed and soft to yield Azula’s fire.” Chief Intelligence Officer Jang shook his head in agreement.

Some time passed before Chief Intelligence Officer Jang heard some sort of commotion from the kitchen, saying with a confused look, “I heard something indistinct about Zuko’s uncle after an old man offered to help with tea, though I don’t understand his relevance.” Jinshu Kuangmai said with a laugh, “Just some irrelevant, long dead, weak-minded fool who stood in the way of Azula.” Glad to see Jang smile at mention of his favorite firebender, they both waited a bit longer. Jang snickered after a while, saying, “It sounds like the Avatar is… cooking? Maybe she really can make blue flame. There was a round of applause from the kitchen for the Avatar after she gave some sort of show, given how a cook said ‘I guess we need to hire some metalbenders’ loudly after. Whatever, cooking is woman’s work, and I wish she’d stay in the kitchen instead of bothering the Earth Empire.”

Jinshu Kuangmai burst out laughing, saying, “I wish she’d come close enough for me to splatter her blood across our current holdings. I have to say, Jang, I never thought you’d rise to fill your station so well.” Seeing Jang smile, he could tell this had the intended effect - he could feel Jang’s heart beating fast in excitement through the metal chairs they were both sitting in front of the massive radio controls .

Given my own feelings for women - especially my accursed mother - that wasn’t just a test. I meant that gesture.

As he placed a hand on Jang’s shoulder, he thought to himself, Jang is no longer the fearful and loyal young man he was when I promoted him - just loyal now. He’s even begun to admonish “volunteers” properly - though there are none of their ilk anywhere near us. We’re in my secret lair, after all.

Jang continued after the strong hand left his shoulder, saying, “Apparently, I was right - I heard the Avatar say ‘Food’s ready!’ followed by a bunch of plates hitting the table in a remarkably controlled manner.” Listening for another minute, he finished, “Not that you or I care, but I heard people complimenting her cooking and use of the Avatar State to serve sake, tea and appetizers. Such a blatant waste of power - it disgusts me.” Jinshu Kuangmai nodded his head in agreement, saying, “It’s a pity she wasn’t killed by Amon and a proper Earth Avatar born into what was once the Earth Kingdom. But then, if she had died, we wouldn’t be sitting here today - that foul Queen would still rule the Earth Kingdom, the events that put our formerly great leader Kuvira into power never occurring.” Jang nodding in agreement of his own, he returned to listening, yawning in boredom. “The chatter is insipid now - just pleasantries and the sound of people eating. I don’t particularly care about whatever moronic plan Eska and Desna talked about before the Avatar left to perform her proper role in the kitchen. The twin Water Tribe barbarian chiefs talked with Tenzin before the Avatar brought lunch out.” Laughing hysterically, Jang continued, “It’s apparent that somehow, homosexual marriage is important to the Avatar. Whatever the blazes that could mean.” Snickering, he added, “Surely, she isn’t even weaker than we thought? A lesbian Avatar who uses her endless power to serve food - what a joke.”

Jinshu Kuangmai made to start laughing hysterically, but Jang held up a steady hand, saying, “Wait. President Raiko is speaking, and it sounds important.” Surprised he didn’t immediately blood-iron bend Jang, switching on the spy’s feed again instead, his subordinate gave the console in front of him a confused look. “Sir, if what President Raiko just said is true, it appears that somehow, Uncle Iroh is attending the conference. Even more puzzling, the Avatar has created a glowing shield around the Republic City Spirit Portal - as though to keep something in.” Shaking his head with a smile, Jinshu Kuangmai said, “Maybe the Avatar thought it looked pretty. I just heard the last part - she put the four elemental symbols on it for decoration, I guess.” Jang used his metalbending to switch on recording of his own feed and Jinshu Kuangmai’s - he had no time for anger at the slight by his underling.

He didn’t like the long pause, much less the Avatar’s tone as he heard her say “Just a moment - I need to fix my shoe.” He had to work very hard to suppress an angry scream as he heard the operative say a very short time later, “Oh gosh, I have to use the bathroom - I’ve been holding it until I needed to take plates back to the kitchen. Be right back.” Given how Jang slapped his forehead, he shared his own frustration. As they both listened, Jinshu Kuangmai made no move to let his operative know he had been compromised - he was a skilled bender, but a very disposable spy. Jinshu Kuangmai thought to himself, Especially after that horrible performance. Given Jang’s intense face, he must have anticipating some good information, and after getting the order, he flipped a switch to make the sound from the wire audible to both himself and Jinshu Kuangmai.

He had given the order just in time, given what he heard said next. Jinshu Kuangmai felt like reaching through the radio and choking the Avatar, old fashioned style - apparently, she knew of the spy. This late bloomer could earthsense and truthsense now, like his accursed mother and himself! He heard a door close in a controlled manner, along with the noises of metal being bended. Remembering what Jang had said earlier about the Avatar and her boyfriend’s blue flames, he barely avoided smashing the console. He wouldn’t put it past her to use Azula’s blue flame, even though she was unworthy of doing so. His rage only intensified when the Avatar said, “Given the fact that he said he needed to use the bathroom at the exact same time my earthsense reached him, I’m pretty sure who he is a spy for - Jinshu Kuangmai.”

How does she know my name, much less who I am? His eyes opened wide in anger, saying, “Kuvira must have ratted me out!” Jang shook his head, saying, “You better listen to this - apparently, the Avatar had another dirty trick now too.” Jinshu Kuangmai listened to the Avatar’s description of “infobending” and saw fit to take a quick break, telling his operative quietly, “You are to not allow the Avatar to make physical contact with you. She has some weird new technique she calls ‘infobending’, and it sounds like she could use it to rip the secrets from your skull. You got that?” The operative gulped so loudly it was audible through his vest, saying, “Yes, Glorious Leader,” knowing full well what his new order meant. When Jinshu Kuangmai was done, he noticed that Jang had used metalbending to write “Korra suspects listening wire” on a stray piece of paper with a metal pen.

Silencing his link with the spy, Jinshu Kuangmai yelled, “This conference just keeps getting worse and worse! Damn it! Curse her stupid infobending - I wish I could choke her over the radio! GAAAH!” Jang actually gave him an angry look, saying, “With all due respect, sir, we need to be quiet - your yelling meant I could barely hear, and only managed to barely hear the Avatar say something about something meant to ‘yank you around.’ I couldn’t hear what they planned to talk about before that. We’ll have to listen to the recording later.” As Jinshu Kuangmai listened to the audio feed, he was too stunned to slap Jang for his insolence. Apparently, one of Azula’s traitorous friends, Mai, was still alive, at the conference, and even worse - the Avatar’s comment confirmed his worst fear that she could now take information from people with ‘infobending’. She could even take experience and skill, making them partially her own, given how she had laughed when she said, “I infobended more than just physical combat knowledge from Mai - her experiences with ‘cloak and dagger’ during Aang’s time were very useful.”

Shortly after, he heard the sound of creaking metal from the spy’s feed, and began cursing loudly - the fool had opened a door that slammed shut earlier using metalbending. He had half a mind to yell into the spy’s earpiece, “Even if you succeed, you’re going to a ‘re-education’ camp - you obviously need to work on your spying skills, or else!” but stopped at the last moment, remembering he needed to be kept in the dark as much as possible. He could chastise him later. Though, given the lame excuse the spy gave for his absence and why he needed to stay, Jinshu Kuangmai was half tempted to just choke him slowly as he forced him to listen to his own ineptitude.

His ears perked up when he heard the Avatar say, “We may as well start the conference.” Although it interested him to know what his enemies were up to, he groaned loudly as he heard the first topic of discussion - what they planned to do to the northern half of the Earth Empire, as well as any other traitorous lands. Jinshu Kuangmai didn’t know whether to smile or frown when he heard the name Zhao - he was another firebender after his own heart, but he was nowhere near Azula, making his association with the 100 Year’s War sour him in the end. As he listened to the Avatar and her foolish friends laugh like children, he recognized another name - Aang. He began to say something, but stopped short in confusion. Jang said with perplexion, “Sir, it appears that somehow, the Avatar can contact Avatar Aang - as I am sure you heard, given your look, she plans to use his help to tell people who Admiral Zhao is later. Such a childish waste of power.”

They both listened half-heartedly to the foolish plan Wu had in mind, laughing hysterically when he got to the part about Zaofu. That plan would never work, and Jang said, “They have no idea of the depth of the irony. Zaofu is ours now.” Jang resumed laughing, saying, “That’s Su’s voice, I believe - I heard her voice plenty when the Earth Empire did not yet rule Zaofu.” He stopped laughing quickly as Su talked about Kuvira’s armies, and Jinshu Kuangmai felt his own expression sour. Before he could finish thinking, I really need to not underestimate these adversaries. Together, they are str - his eyes widened as he heard Su say, “Especially considering what everyone else knows about Ji - Ow, Lin, stop that!” followed by a light slap from what must have been Toph’s other accursed daughter. Feeling an odd tug, he dismissed what was probably his younger self, wanting to lecture him on family. The little insufferable pest. He realized with relief that it was Jang, saying, “I think the game’s up, in many ways. We’re going to need to make sure we’re ready for an attack, although as long as Shiro Shinobi doesn’t spill his guts, they won’t know where we are.”

Although he had serious doubts about the secrecy of their location, given those idealist’s defection, Jinshu Kuangmai wasn’t about to admit it to Jang - Jang instead of Chief Intelligence Officer or not. They both returned to listening to the deliberations in half boredom, half disgust at what those fools had in plan for the Earth Empire. Both himself and Jang jumped slightly when they heard a female voice that was completely unfamiliar yet intimidating say, “You forgot Kyoshi Island, Prince Wu - don’t forget about my homeland.” Before either could puzzle through who this was, some foolish woman said, “Oh wow - was that Avatar Kyoshi’s voice?” Jinshu Kuangmai let out a sigh, saying, “So I guess it’s confirmed then - the Avatar’s past lives are back. Our spies had reported some odd happenings in the Swamp, and that the Great Banyan tree had regrown. One even told me he could see whitespots and lines on the tree’s trunk, seemingly glowing.”

Nothing interesting was said for a while - just more blabbering - but after Wu said the name “Minister Wong”, Jang’s face took on an evil grin that would have been at home on his own face. Jang said, anticipation in his voice, “From what I have heard of this ‘Minister Wong’, his only allegiance is to power, although he is unfortunately rather squeamish. I wouldn’t be surprised if he contacted us at some point - those Republicans may have the Avatar on their side, but we’ve got iron will, manpower and spirit weapons. The choice should be obvious.” Laughing, Jinshu Kuangmai said, “Yes - all the other nation’s militaries are pathetic compared to even our reduced strength. I heard the soldier’s descriptions of their version of mechasuits - those things are practically relics. They rely far too much on benders - if it weren’t for Varrick Industries and Future Industries assistance in the form of those hummingbird suits, I’d be sitting with Kuvira in Republic City right now, planning our campaign of scorched earth against the Fire Nation.” A particularly pleasing image came to mind, and he continued, saying, “The Avatar would be dead, having had some unfortunate trouble breathing, and you would be searching for the next proper Earth Avatar. Or should I say, Earth Empire Avatar.”

After some soft-voiced old man had given what those fools thought to be a good suggestion, a while later, both Jinshu Kuangmai and Jang put their hands to their ears, not wanting to listen to Wu, lest he begin actually singing. Both laughed as they heard a blast of air, followed by a whump - at least some of those idiots shared his distaste for singing. After who Jang said was the Avatar’s boyfriend, Mako, laughed like his idiotic brother might have, Jinshu Kuangmai started laughing himself when he heard Kuvira say, “I believe we can now move on to my sentencing.” After a “Shhh!” from Jang - Jinshu Kuangmai wasn’t used to this, and vaguely wondered if that insufferable three-year old self was winning somehow, Jang pulled on his hair in frustration. Jang said quickly, in a low voice, “President Raiko said something very puzzling. I’m not sure what to make of it, but apparently there is a human spirit at the conference with a partially physical form.” Jinshu Kuangmai heard out of his other ear that the earthen barrier was made strong enough “to contain Vaatu himself.” From what Kuvira had told him of world events that happened while he was locked up by his “parents”, this did not sound good.


He saw a brief flash of a pitch-black sphere with red lines on it and felt the comfortable energy from the teapot around the girl’s neck around his heart. What he could have sworn were red characters that said “Not powerful enough. No Dark Avatar. Maybe in ten thousand years, Jinshu Kuangmai - I did love your energy from earlier today, and how you made Raava cry,” flashed above the now-visible orb again for quite some time, then everything was normal. Remembering what Kuvira had said about the Dark Avatar and Unalaq, he felt honored - the little pencil-necked girl must have been Raava, and the teapot’s occupant Vaatu.

Apparently, this had taken real time, as when he came to, Jang was laughing hysterically. Seeing that his superior was “awake” again, he said, “Oh man, whatever that was, hopefully it was awesome, because you just missed something hilarious. Remember my quip about the Avatar being a lesbian?” Jinshu Kuangmai chuckled, saying, “Yes, it was very awesome. Now tell me more.” Jang could barely control himself as he said, “It appears that the Avatar is a lesbian! Apparently, after Zhu Li and Varrick’s wedding, Avatar Korra and Asami ran off into the spirit world together on a ‘vacation’. They met Uncle Iroh, who prattled on and on about love and yin and yang, then Asami started telling some sob story about her childhood, which she is finishing now. We should take these tapes and distribute an edited version to our forces - it’d do wonders for morale, and would make the elites and officers howl hysterically. It might even inspire the conscripts and volunteers, and not in the ‘usual’ way.” Though he did not usually care for laughter, he said through stifled laughter, “Sounds like a good idea - we’ll have to edit and splice the tapes ourselves for maximum effect.”

After some sappy exchange between Asami and President Raiko, even Jang had difficulty following the next bit. All Jinshu Kuangmai got out of it that Raava had given her little pet a gift in the form of an unnatural child and that this made a lot of other spirits very angry, including a “Long Yumao the Opportunist.” Jang said, “Wait… one of Uncle Iroh’s prophecies. It talked about what was essentially a Spirit Civil War, and it sounds like Long Yumao the Opportunist is the likely leader, given Korra’s description of his eyes. The yellow is associated with Dark Spirit’s eyes.” Putting this together with the earthen barrier, Jinshu Kuangmai said, “I think we know the reason for that barrier. Given how strong it sounds, Long Yumao must have gotten more powerful - powerful enough to cause concern for the Avatar.” Rapping his strong fingers together, he said, “This will provide the perfect distraction for our own forces to consolidate, perhaps even expand to the point that we rule the southern portion of the continental mass outright.”

President Raiko and the Avatar confirmed his suspicions, given that she did not want to discuss anything about Long Yumao, but rather, only infobend about the issue. As he thought Damn that stupid ability of hers, he listened to what must have been Tenzin blather about some Air Nomad Decree, causing him to laugh out loud and say, “Typical Air Nomad weaklings. Maybe once we eradicate the Fire Nation, we’ll finish what Sozin failed to do - and given how few they are now, it should be quite easy.”
« Last Edit: Jan 15, 2015 11:22 am by Freedom153 » Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #45 on: Jan 15, 2015 11:11 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

Both he and Jang howled when the Firelord started her piece, but something she said made him stop cold. In a voice of disbelief, he asked Jang, “Did the Firelord just say what I think she did? Somehow, Azula is connected to her decision to approve of these unnatural relationships? Surely, Azula wasn’t…” Seeing the confusion in his eyes, Jang said, “I wouldn’t worry about it - remember how the Avatar said she wanted to yank you around? I’m guessing this is one of her ploys. Perhaps she ‘infobended’ the plan to the Firelord.” Something told Jinshu Kuangmai this wasn’t right - there had been genuine surpised reactions to the Firelord’s new decree. After he told Jang as much, he said, “I noticed too - I just didn’t want you angry enough to take it out on the nearest person, which would be me.” Jinshu Kuangmai sighed deeply, needing a short time to recollect himself.

Given both he and Jang missed the other leaders following in Firelord Izumi’s footsteps, Uncle Iroh’s voice and advice, Jinshu Kuangmai had taken a lot longer to recover than he thought he would.

Jinshu Kuangmai heard a familiar voice, and given how Jang turned to the controls up from the floor, he recognized it as well. The “Great Uniter” said, “That was certainly unexpected. I cannot imagine that a certain individual in the Earth Kingdom will be along with this change, however - he never struck me as the loving type.” Jinshu Kuangmai cursed loudly, saying, “I guess you were right, Jang - they are toying with us! Gah! But we can’t just quit listening either…” Taking a deep sigh, he returned to the conversation on Ember Island, and for once found himself agreeing with the Avatar as she called Kuvira “the Great Flipflopper,” though he found it not the least bit funny.

He certainly was not smiling after President’s infobending request. That cursed ability the Avatar had was making this spying mission a huge failure, and he couldn’t even threaten someone back into line to fix it. He found Zuko’s comment about a metallic Kuvira inspirational, however - he remembered his earlier vision and his own metallic hand.


Looks like I am winning the internal war after all.

Nothing of note happened for a while, except President Raiko apparently being able to feel the Avatar’s thoughts while she infobended him. Kuvira’s laughter at that pathetic fool Wu filled him with disgust, which turned to confusion when a young woman talked about a ‘Sudden Death’ option. Confusion gave way to frustration as the Avatar apparently used her infobending to communicate Kuvira’s sentence, with some part of it she did not see fit to say in front of his spy.

When the Avatar said, “Now, to another important item of business,” he could feel his heart start to beat faster in anticipation. Jang said cautiously, “Sir, this could be a trick, but we’ll have to see. Let’s just listen.” Given Jang’s expression as he listened to what the Avatar had to say about the Great Banyan tree, he had abandoned all sense of caution. Those fools thought that all stockpiles of spirit vines were gone, and not only that, the Avatar had confirmed his spy’s report on the Swamp. Apparently, whatever energy had re-grown the tree had infused it with great power - enough to wipe the Fire Nation off the map if used properly, much less Republic City. He ordered Jang to call for five war balloons and 100 elite metalbenders once they were finished to begin harvesting the Great Banyan tree’s much more powerful vines. Jinshu Kuangmai said to the spy carefully, “If you can get out alive, you might have just earned yourself a promotion! Be careful.”

About five seconds passed before a massive crashing sound came through both the listening wire and the spy’s feed, and the conference went from horrible with a ray of light to abysmal. The operative had seen some reason to flee, and an older woman yelling, “Use your bloodbending, Korra - it’s the only way!” sent Jinshu Kuangmai into a small panic. He said through gritted teeth, “If she can somehow bloodbend in broad daylight, my one advantage over her is practically worthless!” Jang said, in a defeated tone, “It’s not like we could make special armor to counter bloodbending either - I doubt even platinum could block Avatar State bloodbending, if my hunch is right.” Jinshu Kuangmai suddenly had a horrible image of a glowing Avatar Korra’s eyes thinning to slits as she yelled, “This will teach you to call me ‘unnatural’! Now DIE!” and moved her hands in sickening movements, unlike any form he had ever seen.

As he faded to black in the vision, he was greeted with a familiar, pesky visage and red-lined orb. Pointing out a massive metallic hand at his younger self in anger, annoyance and hatred, he said, “I don’t have time for this! Now be gone!”

Apparently, he must have made some physical noise, as he heard Jang say, “Sir - are you all right?” Jinshu Kuangmai just let out a growl, saying, “After this, I have something else I need to kill - aside from Shiro Shinobi’s family, should he fail.” Turning his link to the spy back on, he asked the fleeing operative, “Can you see the Avatar, and if so, is she using blue flames?” The nameless spy responded in a panic, “No, I cannot, though I did see Mako making one before lunch, shortly before he and the Avatar went to cook.” Suddenly realizing the spy had gotten a chance to tell him this information, he screamed, “You stupid fool! You should have told me that while you were ‘going to the bathroom’! Now try to escape, and if you can’t, take the pill I gave you!”

Before the “spy” could answer anything but a stunned “What the… jets of blue fire?”, he heard a strong female voice say about 10 seconds later, “Game’s up!” followed by an alarming tumbling sound. Apparently, the Avatar was using blue flame propulsion, and quite skillfully - even that bumbling oaf of a “spy” should have gotten far away from the conference by now. Jinshu Kuangmai was pleased to hear his spy remain loyal to what he thought was the end, but he knew it was not to be - the Avatar had stopped him from taking the pill. Jang’s conjecture had been right after all, and the Avatar confirmed that their listening wire had been discovered, though the fact that they heard the older woman talk about bloodbending through it meant they still did not know its location. Not entirely sure what the Avatar had to help her infobend the spy or why she thought he’d send reinforcements to a doomed mission, Jinshu Kuangmai cursed into the spy’s earpiece loudly, saying, “Why didn’t you take the pill as soon as you saw the flame jets, you stupid fool! No matter - you were disposable, you’re dead to me anyways, and I hope she freezes your blood solid!” While the spy was still a miserable failure, at least he knew so, given what would probably be his last words.

After about five minutes, he heard the Avatar say, “Mai, I need your help! Give this rat a paralyzing dose - I need him conscious!” Jang took a gasp, saying, “Shirshu poison!” as the spy screamed “Wait, NO! No no no!” pathetically. The spy’s feed let out a faint “Ffft” after the Avatar had talked of what he had said, then talked of finding a way to spare his life - she really was soft. After a light thump, he heard static from the spy’s feed - apparently, the Avatar had taken that information first and crushed the receiver. Shutting it off himself so the static would not distract Jang, given his subordinate’s reaction to an odd loud noise from the listening wire and sounds of chatter, the listening wire had been the next to be found.

Kuvira’s voice rang clearly through the last remaining source of sound, the traitor saying, “I guess you figured we were going to be talking a long time, didn’t you, Jinshu Kuangmai? You should just give up, and stop fighting your conscience, if you have one. I did, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I feel so much lighter - Mother Suyin considers me her daughter now.” He let out a string of curses, not appreciating the reminder of his annoying brat three-year old self. His curses only grew worse as he heard loud, raucous laughter. Who Jang said he recognized as the nine-year old boy and his “Flying Hogmonkeys” and “Ferocious Lemurs” said, “See, mom? THOSE are the words I want to learn!” After a slight pause, the gratingly adorable voice came back, saying, “I may be a nine year old airbender who designs weapons, but your blood-iron bending is just sick!”

The only thing Jinshu Kuangmai could manage to do is curse even louder - the nerve of that little boy! Suddenly connecting “Flying Hogmonkeys” and “Ferocious Lemurs” and forgetting that the spy’s feed had been crushed, he screamed to the spy, “What weapons, TELL ME! Do your job, you fool! I don’t care if you’re paralyzed.” He heard the Avatar laughing as she said, “I think Meelo has something else to say to you,” and then the little brat’s voice returned, saying tauntingly, “I’m not gonna tell you, Jinshu Kuangmai! And I’m not gonna call you Mister either - only good people get that honor!” After an adult snickered, a voice Jang recognized from earlier as the man who wanted to help make tea said, “Can’t you just end this already? It’s not nice to toy with people, even if they are your enemies. And I don’t think you should kill this spy, either - we can always make him a wooden prison like Kuvira and Bataar Jr. were in.” Before Jinshu Kuangmai could laugh at the image of that nonbending wimp in a wooden cage, the voice continued, “Though, I don’t see why Bataar Jr. needed a wooden cage - he’s no bender.”

After a pause in the exchange, Jinshu Kuangmai said in his best intimidating, condescending voice, “Whoever you are, I need none of your sympathy or pathetic mercy. That spy is a failure, and deserves death, as he knows.” Taking a breath, he finished, “You should have heard about my special talent, and if we ever meet, I’ll be sure to choke you real nice and slow - I love making weaklings suffer. Ah, the fear in their eyes…” A sad voice sad slowly, “Whoever you are, you must have a lot of hurt inside you. My other nephew, Princess Azula, was like that. She never trusted anyone, and eventually, she went insane.” What this old man had said enraged Jinshu Kuangmai and made Jang yelp, “The human spirit at the conference - it must be Uncle Iroh!” Not wanting to betray that he knew his Royal Kookiness’ identity, Jinshu Kuangmai howled in pure fury, “You know NOTHING about true power, old man! Azula was a genius! When I choke the life from Avatar Korra, bloodbending or not, then we’ll see who’s crazy!” He stood up straight and screamed in anger while using his metalbending to crush the feed to the spy’s earpiece, finishing by crushing the feed from the listening wire once it produced nothing but static.

Knowing what would likely come next as the Avatar pried the secrets from that spy’s feeble mind, he radioed for Shiro Shinobi’s family to be brought out in shackles into a nearby room. He could see Jang looking at the partially ruined console in anguish, so Jinshu Kuangmai said, “It was outdated anyways, and we can tear out the crushed pieces. Better some metal than one of my only competent underlings - that was some good work, identifying that old man as Uncle Iroh.” Jang, curiously not nervous, made a deep bow in front of his own, much larger body, saying, “Thank you, Supreme Resistance Commander Jinshu Kuangmai. It is my honor and pleasure to serve - and that’s not just a pleasantry. I hated how Suyin Beifong just stood by while the Earth kingdom burned, but I did not get a chance to leave Zaofu in time to join Kuvira.” Jang sighed, saying, “Those three years were some of the longest in my life - Suyin knew of my desire to leave and my talent with intelligence, so she assigned me to guard duty instead, apparently telling the other guards to keep an eye on me.”

Before he could tell Jang what he thought of the whole Beifong family, a panicked call came through the more sophisticated piece of equipment Shiro Shinobi had set up before leaving in a different location. The elite metalbender was yelling, “Sir, we’ve got incoming, and it appears it’s the Avatar! We managed to get one spirit cannon shot off, but she’s dodged everything we’ve thrown her way so far with her blue flame jets! Wait - what’s this? My men are grabbing their necks, and my throat is killing me!” The apparent officer let out a yelp, saying, “She must be bloodbending us! Can’t - see - vision - fading - gaack!” The radio still on, Jinshu Kuangmai heard the sounds of ice forming close by. Jinshu Kuangmai cursed loudly as he listened to the Avatar speak - she had found Shiro Shinobi!

As soon as he said, “There’s a lot I need to tell you - some of the people who were handling us were careless, and we saw things we shouldn’t have,” Jinshu Kuangmai bent the microphone for the ship’s loudspeaker to his mouth. He said, trying to instill as much fear as possible, “I know I said I’d kill your family if you failed, Shiro Shinobi, but now we have a new ‘deal’! Take the pill I gave you, or your family dies!” Given the silence that followed, Shiro Shinobi appeared to be taking his new deal seriously, but much to his displeasure, another speaker that he knew was linked to Shiro Shinobi’s personal transmitter let out a loud clunk. After a wet splat, it continued, “I talked about this with my wife, if either one of us should be threatened with death. She said not to do anything like your order! I don’t know who you are, but you certainly don’t understand love! I’m not helping you and your horrible plans anymore!”

Cracking his knuckles in anticipation, Jinshu Kuangmai said, “Very well - I see you have made your decision. I look forward to their looks of terror and their final gasps.” His mood was slightly ruined by failing to get the last word, with Shiro Shinobi making one final jab before crushing the microphone, given the static that followed. Jinshu Kuangmai said, “We’re done here - I have an execution to carry out.” He strode quickly out of the room towards where the Shinobi family should be by now; he wanted to take out his frustrations on human targets instead of that insipid critter he killed this morning.

When all three members of the Shinobi family were lined up in front of him, Shiro’s wife did indeed spit at him, saying, “Your mother must be ashamed of you - at least Kuvira had a national crisis on her hands! You - you ARE the crisis!” Jinshu Kuangmai let out a deep laugh, saying as he pointed at the two children in front of him menacingly, “Yes - I am the crisis, and I will soon be the ruler of the new Earth Empire!” intending to scare the two brats at her side. To his surprise, the little boy said, “My father told me he loves us, so you can’t scare me! You’re weak - you have no chance of beating the Avatar!” Disappointed to see his sister sticking her tongue out at himself, Jinshu Kuangmai said, “Enough! It’s time for you weaklings to join that furry critter I killed this morning! Now, stand witness to my true power!” Much to his chagrin, the little girl managed to get out most of a yawn before all their bodies stiffened and they began to float in mid-air, gasping for breath.

Just as he was beginning to enjoy himself, his eyes shut and he was engulfed in pitch black darkness. He saw a three-year old self on the other side of a familiar orb that was pulsating with energy, the red lines that formed the shape of yin and yang on its blackened surface throbbing beautifully. He saw his fleshy doppler crying bitterly, saying, “The only reason Toph abandoned ‘us’ is because ‘we’ became unstoppable. She loves ‘us’, Tonga - I don’t understand why you find Vaatu’s energy so appealing.” Jinshu Kuangmai screamed, “DON’T CALL ME THAT NAME! I AM JINSHU KUANGMAI!” His three year old self looked down at the “floor” sadly, saying, “I guess you really are ‘Metal Veins’ now. Just look at your awful body, shimmering. I guess that means I am Tonga Beifong then, and it’s time I used my mother’s trademark on you.”

Tonga moved with surprising speed, making to strike his foot into his own metallic appendage. As he dodged Tonga’s strike and the little boy landed on the floor, he noticed something odd - he had a heartbeat. Moving his hands, he said, “That was pathetic. Now I’ll show you my specialty - and no one else’s.” As he made the motions to begin blood-iron bending Tonga, he noticed that his smaller self was susceptible to his technique, but not completely. Frowning as he realized he couldn’t just choke Tonga, he came up with a different plan.

Holding Tonga as still as he could - which was not very - he formed a large blade with his left arm, using his right to maintain his hold. When he got close enough to slice the brat’s head off, he cursed as the blade deformed when it got close to Tonga, apparently able to metalbend even while in a partial hold. He asked Tonga, as he approached the orb extremely slowly, hopefully such that Tonga would not notice, “How did you do that, you little scumbag! I put a lot of energy into that!” Tonga broke his hold enough to stick out his tongue and say, “Love is more powerful than hate, you know. Kuvira’s metal form didn’t put up this much of a fight, if what Raava told me is correct.” Himself laughing at the mention of the little girl, Tonga continued, “Humans have a dual nature - yin and yang, dark and light, Vaatu and Raava. Since the current Tonga Beifong is so dark, I am going to fight to the death. If I win, you go insane, just like your horrible idol Azula did, and if I lose, then I hope that Avatar Korra dispatches you mercifully. I know that would make you the angriest - a quick death.”

Jinshu Kuangmai laughed, saying, “Well, if a quick death would make me angry, I don’t know why you are holding back so much.” Distorting his left arm into a long, needle point that was almost invisible to the naked eye, he made to touch the orb. Something told him it was the key to victory. A black mass hit the point, partially shattering his left arm, forcing him to drop his hold on Tonga and re-form his now slightly smaller left arm. His eyes widened as he saw what Tonga was trying to do - touch the orb.
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« Reply #46 on: Jan 15, 2015 11:13 am »

(Continued due to character limit)

The small child’s hand of flesh and his own massive hand of metal hit the orb at the same time. Even though he was significantly bigger than Tonga, the little brat was somehow not losing what little ground he had against his much bigger foe. Jinshu Kuangmai could feel a small sliver of light inside the sphere, and to his horror, it was growing. A sudden flash appeared above the orb, a familiar metal medallion left in its place - a very darkened flying boar. Jinshu Kuangmai could feel all sort of vile emotions - love, happiness, everything weak - leaving Tonga’s being, growing the size of the sliver of light inside the sphere and lightening the metal medallion.

Knowing what he must do, Jinshu Kuangmai let loose a torrent of proper emotions into the sphere - hatred, violent intentions, love of power and control, spite, malice, everything strong and destructive. Opening one metal eye, he began laughing as the Beifong family crest began to shift shape into a more pleasing form, his laughter accelerating the process. Where there had once been a flying boar, there was now an insignia of the Earth Empire - with a single drop of blood in the center. He began laughing hysterically, relishing the look of absolute horror on Tonga’s face. He could feel Tonga’s weak heart pounding wildly, and the shard of light inside the orb begin to rapidly shrink. He could feel his form hardening, as though being tempered in a furnace of hatred.

Feeling power coursing through him and seeing the pitch black orb’s lines glowing a bright red, he said, “Look at the medal in front of you, Tonga. Look at my body, and the tempering of hatred’s effect upon my metal flesh.” As there was a pathetic hissing sound from the orb as the last of the light inside it faded, Tonga tried to bend his arm away, but cried when he couldn’t. “You must have felt the light die inside the orb, Tonga.” Laughing maniacally, he finished as he removed his own hands from the orb, “There is no Tonga Beifong now, aside from your own, soon to be destroyed, pathetic little form.” Picking up his three-year old self, he yelled, “Now, there is only JINSHU KUANGMAI!” Something happened that he’d never seen before, not even when he took out his frustrations on the smallest creature. His younger self turned into a beautiful, fine red mist, quickly dissipating before he could relish it.

A large, dark, undulating form appeared behind a now violently pulsating orb, which was itself slowly moving towards his heart and shrinking. A serpentine voice said, “I’ve not seen evil win very often - usually, the weakling goes insane, or the good side wins. A pity you’re so attached to the idea of ruling yourself, and not serving a mightier individual.” While this individual’s energy strongly reminded him of Vaatu’s, something was amiss - no chaos, replaced by a desire to rule with an iron fist. Trying his luck, he said, “I can sense you are much like Vaatu, but want to rule with an iron fist instead of allowing chaos to reign. I have an army of loyal soldiers, and I can sense you might just have an army as well. I hate the Avatar and all her friends, especially my mother’s relations. Want to help me take over and rule the world?”

He jumped back when a massive beak pierced the darkness, followed by long, oddly colored feathers, and then the strong yellow eyes that opened beneath them, surrounded by a pulsating black and purple hide that had small “eyes” of a familiar red inside the constantly moving patches. As the spirit opened his beak to speak, a mane on his back pulsed between the yellow of his eyes and the familiar red. The spirit closed his beak, somehow sensing that Jinshu Kuangmai recognized him as the spirit the Avatar was trying to keep out of the physical world - Long Yumao the Opportunist. Jinshu Kuangmai said, “You’re Long Yumao the Opportunist, aren’t you? The spirit that weak excuse for an Avatar wants to keep locked in the Spirit World with that barrier?”

The spirit said, in a dry voice, “Let’s be clear on the answer in which I am answering your questions. The second set first - yes, I am Long Yumao the Opportunist, though hopefully it will be Grand Dark Spirit Long Yumao after I strip that fool you seem to like so much, Vaatu, of his title.” The spirit showed his long, massive body as he said, “Which brings me to your first question. No. Hah! I have my own designs on absolute power! No Earth or Metal Vein Empire for you, ‘Jinshu Kuangmai’.” With that, the spirit whipped his powerful tail, sending him flying back to the physical world, cursing.

When he came back, he was surprised to see Jang standing with a bloodied blade extended from his arm, who saluted him and said, “Sir! I noticed you were in some kind of trance, and given the noises you were making, it was not a whitewash victory for you, but you killed whoever ‘Tonga Beifong’ is - or was, given your smile.” Jinshu Kuangmai was glad he hadn’t betrayed his ancestry, but noted the Shinobi family was absent, and when he asked Jang about it, he said, “Given what we learned at the conference, especially that Shiro Shinobi has given our position away, I ordered the airships and elite metalbenders halted, and re-directed them to finishing the submersion of Zaofu, along with all available explosives and spirit weapons.” Jinshu Kuangmai, feeling charitable after his victory, said only with mild annoyance, “Given the blood on your armblade, you disposed of the Shinobi family for me. Good, I guess. I would have liked to do that myself, but got to kill something far more annoying instead.” Jang shook his head in confirmation.

Jinshu Kuangmai did not rest, nor did his soldiers, “volunteers” or even civilians, until all of Zaofu was sunken into the earth. The combination of bending, spirit weapon beams and explosives let them cut into the earth deep enough to finally allow them to lower each former dome down below the landscape using bending. It greatly helped speed the effort along that his forces did not need to coat the sections in platinum - if the enemy already knew of their new use for Zaofu, the precious metal could be used for more important projects, such as the new Colossus model. After he ordered the spirit weapons re-loaded and hidden along with a stockpile in the surrounding mountains, he did something very atypical - he threw a massive feast, for civilians and soldiers alike. Maybe, just maybe, through fear and some positive reinforcement, he could get more people to serve him willingly and zealously, as his elites and officers did. As he walked around, eating plenty of food himself, he smiled slightly. At first, he told himself it was because he liked seeing the soldiers happy, but it dawned on him he was glad to see the civilians happy as well.

Surely, that little brat didn’t win after all? No, no - the civilians earned their share. Tonga Beifong is dead.

As he drifted off to sleep at some ungodly hour in the morning, his forces having finally covered the tops of the former domes - no, bases - with metal sheets and earth, he saw a very dark, small feminine figure in the darkness that was enveloping him. A strange though occurred to him: Light cannot be extinguished, nor can dark. One can subsume the other, but never truly destroy the other - it is the way of the world, yin and yang, as my mother tried to teach me. The figure looked happy somehow, but that changed when he continued to think: That means I need to be on my guard against softening at all times.

The last thoughts that went through his brain were not his own, but that of the figure: “And even still, a sliver of light remained.”

End Part 5

To re-iterate: not updated text wise here. Updated on FF.net - edits and revisions, as well as long chapters are a huge pain here with 20k character limit. The first few chapters in particular have been improved greatly. New chapter posted notification here. See below.
« Last Edit: Jun 07, 2015 11:34 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #47 on: Jun 07, 2015 11:15 pm »

Wait a minute... I'm a moron. Saw someone else posting FF.net updates to their thread without the text of the chapter in the actual post...

Ala http://forums.avatarspirit.net/index.php?topic=22566.0 !

I'm not posting a thing for each chapter between last post and now. It'd be too spammy - especially considering I'd be linking to the same page over and over. Between time of last posted chapter and latest FF.net update, I've added 21 more chapters, a prologue I've already mentioned here as the first part of Chapter 1, and gone over and re-hauled the first 31 chapters. Chapter 2's one of the big ones - the initial chapters were a bit... awkward at times, and I've fixed most of that.

I'm still not formatting anything for this forum or posting text. If you want to read from the beginning: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10944213/1/Book-5-Humanity

The next chapter after this one above is chapter 32 (Korra POV after conference).

The latest chapter (chapter 53) deals with something that wasn't mentioned in the first 31 at all - first major conflict, though fighting heavy chapters aren't written yet.

Whenever I post a new chapter on FF.net, I'll say something here, and give a link. No messing around with 20,000 character limit.
« Last Edit: Jun 07, 2015 11:27 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #48 on: Jun 16, 2015 05:19 pm »

Chapter 54 finished, edited and posted.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10944213/54/Book-5-Humanity

Chapter 54: Melting Tundra: Initially thinking he would be simply preparing to go to Republic City just in case his cousin's barriers around the Spirit Portals fail, Desna, along with his sister Eska, encounter more than they had bargained for. For better, and worse.
« Last Edit: Aug 10, 2015 12:21 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
Freedom153
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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Posts: 549


That Could Have Been Executed Better


« Reply #49 on: Jul 12, 2015 10:09 pm »

Chapter 55 finished, edited and posted.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10944213/55/Book-5-Humanity

Chapter 55: Leaves in the Wind: Despondent over having missed her big chance to "do something that matters", not sure how someone "normal" in a world with powerful politicians and the Avatar matters - having been mysteriously asleep and unwakeable while the reinforcements headed away from Republic City to help evacuate Omashu and the prison camp were gathering - a random Republic City citizen deals with some of her personal woes and perceived inadequacies... as well as ones she does not at first realize affect more people than just someone "insignificant" like her.
« Last Edit: Aug 10, 2015 12:21 pm by Freedom153 » Logged

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First eyes, a treasure. New eyes, end with a pretentious blink, own vision eclipses.
Book 5:Humanity, aka: Freedom's First Writ
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