Chapter 4: Making A Getaway
If there were a single word to describe the collision course that the news press created upon their ingression into City Hall, most of the members would tell you it was calamitous. But Tenzin, who was boarded in the corner of his pedestal on all sides by cameras, protruding microphones, and sound amplifiers, believed that was an understatement.
"Damn! There are so many freakin' people!" Bolin cursed as he attempted to whoosh people away with his breath, but he didn't have the skills of airbending, not like Master Tenzin.
In that moment, Tenzin really wished the spirits could have imparted upon him the gift of being the Avatar so that his tattoos would glow and people would leave him and the Council alone. But today was an accursed day. The news of the extirpation of the village in the South Pole had finally breached Republic City's shores and thousands of people were exploding about it.
He had formed some appointee members in Korra's absence to make up for abyssal loss that was present. However, not even Bolin, Mako, and Asami were capable of filling in for the crucial Avatar duties that Korra still had to complete. Ever since her known branding as the Avatar, Korra had an innate accountability to uphold for the name of Republic City.
'That and her honor.' Tenzin banished the sour thought when he realized that she was carrying out her commissions of the nation. Of all four nations.
A Grand Lotus was also needed to take the floor to address all the numerous inquiries being shot in every single direction. He was directly descended from General Iroh himself and had to come out of hiding to battle the whirlwind of chaos with his Sentries attached like leeches.
"Attention! I need everyone's attention!" He declared it so loudly that the pitch on the microphone tinged the press's ears with an acerbic crack. "The current situation right now in the South Pole is unstable! Further inquiries regarding the investigation must be forwarded to Chief Bei Fong's post address. We will not be answering any more questions on this issue!"
"But what about the Avatar?!"
"She's a tyrant!"
"Abandoned us in our time of need!"
"Left us for a hundred years!"
Heat peaked at his cheeks. "THAT'S ENOUGH!!!" A ballistic Tenzin strode up to the scene and was fuming, smoke almost coming out of his ears. When the collective quiet of murmurings was at last hushed, Tenzin continued, "Avatar Korra is currently on leave from Republic City for the next few months! However, despite being halfway across the world" pausing midsentence to temper his anger "she still serves you as your peacekeeper. You are hereby required to owe your thanks to the Avatar, and any amount of contempt or insinuation of such behavior will be severely punished. This is the new law passed this morning by myself, the chairman of the United Republic Council."
Mako took the podium and seized the microphone from Tenzin, shuffling him to the side. "Look, I know
I know that we've had our differences. A one-hundred year struggle endured until the Fire Nation was defeated and balance restored by the last Avatar, and since then
" He paused, gripping tightly at his shirt collar when the beads of perspiration started trickling down his face. "
Since then, we've experienced an a-age
.of p-peace." He coughed away from the microphone. "Yes, Republic City almost fell the day the Anti-bending Revolution was at its strongest. Yes, many of you weren't sure of whether or not Korra could be- I-I mean Avatar Korra could be trusted.
"But none of you
none of you gave up. You didn't surrender to Amon. You didn't allow him to completely destroy you. Amon was exposed as a traitorous fraud. If it weren't for the Avatar, then
Bolin sided next to him, gripping his own microphone. "Then many of you would not have gotten your bending graciously returned to you."
Asami and Mako both cast a sideways glance in pure stupor. The Future Industries heir kindly bumped Mako off the podium. "The Avatar was successful in eliminating the head of the Equalist threat in Republic City. Do you all discount that great deed she performed for you guys?"
Silence was an everlasting sledgehammer on their heads. "Yet, the Equalist threat has expanded to the farthest reaches of the world and has so afflicted the South Pole that all of the villagers except for two benders perished in the onslaught," Tenzin countered as he boldly exclaimed his authority on the podium.
The Grand Lotus spoke with great remorse in his microphone. "The great waterbending Master Katara and
Tenzin looked to see who finished the sentence for him, and it was Mako, whose voice was so low that it started to crack with emotion. Tears immediately sprung to his eyes, and Tenzin asked to excuse himself. "I'll
return in a minute
" he barely choked out.
The reporters bubbled with anticipation and started shouting. Mako shot a ferocious fireball in their direction, right in the center of the crowd where no one was standing. "I've about HAD it with you all! Show some respect! Chairman Tenzin has excused himself! I demand you all leave at once!"
The Sentries cast the medley of benders and nonbenders a supercilious glare and rustled the stage curtains closed. Korra was there leaning against the stone colonnade, allowing tears to flow freely down her face. She restrained her sobs until they were muffled hiccups. She turned around and bumped into Mako's chest. Unsure of what to do, Korra quickly tried to escape, but Mako immediately entrapped her there. Even after only being together for four months and three months spent apart, Mako still had the fiery grip of a firebender on his true love.
Mako finally inhaled, but the wind was nearly knocked out of him. "K-Korra!" He instinctively knew that after the tragedy in the South Pole, her fragile mind would be severely scorched with the horrific mental images for life. Tears glued her eyelashes together as they rolled down her cheeks. "Korra!"
He pulled away a little and gripped her by the shoulders, starting to shake her. "Korra, snap out of it!"
She issued a haughty glare but it was so drowned in her tears that Mako could see the visible attrition in her azure irises. Her eyes stung horribly and it looked like she had been crying nonstop since the incident. All that bending used to travel halfway across the world must have taken a disastrous toll on her body. Being the Avatar might have meant one could be blessed with unquenchable power and an indomitable will, but it also entailed a monumental responsibility to carry the burden of the whole world on one's shoulders.
Her walls were crumbling beneath the stronghold she built for herself, but just barely, Korra enabled them to stay intact. Grumpily she pushed Mako away, but without the real forceful dominance she was known for and stormed off the stage.
"Korra! Please wait!" Mako scuttled after her and caught her hand, encasing it in his sweaty palms. He spun her round and laid a hand on her cheek. "Please
I'm afraid of losing you
Please don't leave us. Please, Korra
don't leave me
She inclined her head as the befuddlement twisted her brow. But as soon as the realization dawned on her about who still needed to leave the treacherous South Pole, Korra rushed past him and jerked Mako off her. "I'm sorry," she croaked, stomping off and snapping the drapes away from her as she continued into the chamber of the City Hall. Thankfully, the incensed media press had gone home for the day, but when a menagerie of people stood before her with crossed arms in indignation, she nearly spiraled out of control.
"What more do you people want?!!!" She huffed at them and brazenly stormed through the blockade of figures, but halted when the White Lotus Sentries impeded her path. "Get out of my way!"
Tenzin laid a comforting hand on her shoulder, but she wrenched it off. "I need to go back to the South Pole." Her friends gathered around her and grabbed her arms. She wriggled in their grasp, trying to keep her walls alive. "Katara and Tahno are waiting for me!"
Launching an airwave from her palms, Korra separated herself and drove the Sentries into walls. "I'm going back now. And if you want your mother back, Tenzin, you won't refuse." She barreled down the hallway and retreated into the dusty athenaeum of the Hall. Her back was pressed hard against the steel wall, head tilted at a right angle. Her allies stampeded down the corridor and narrowly missed the library, much to Korra's relief. She deduced that while she was here, she might as well take advantage of the repertoire of books and annuals plentiful in the room.
But she glanced back and noticed that piles of shredded wood took up most of the capacity of the room. "What
" she muttered, looking over her shoulder for anybody who could catch her and returning her gaze back to the target of interest. She crawled over to the woodpile and seated herself. "I need to hurry. No telling when they'll be back."
Gasping sharply, Korra took a brief look around to see where the sound came from. "Who's there!"
But apparently it was in her head, so she snapped her attention back to the wood scrabble before her. Closing her eyes, Korra breathed deeply, trying to imagine herself merging with the essence of the earth. The sounds were coming back tenfold and she needed to hurry. Korra forced herself to concentrate on the grooves of her hands melding with the power of earth and beckoned forth a stone glove to encompass her entire right fist. Smirking inwardly, Korra repeated the process for her left hand and proceeded with delving into the woodwork that somehow seemed to be oddly placed in the middle of the room.
She nearly leapt out of her fur coat when she realized what it was. "This was the table
the table that Tarrlok used to sit at and read articles
Her eyes remained pinned to the collapsed table as she pondered painfully what the former chairman's animus was upon venturing into this secret atheneum. Suddenly, the sounds returned full force, and she darted behind the cover of the fallen woodwork to conceal herself.
"Korra couldn't have gone that way, Bolin!" That was Mako's voice, and he sounded infuriated. She clutched at a slab of wood and turned it over in her hand. Muffling a gasp was difficult when she read the inscription on the other side.
"The inferno is the true gateway to the netherworld."
"Avatar Korra, turn around." She flinched, startled at the sound of the voice that seemed to be coming from
the wood slab? No, wait, that couldn't-
"Where are you?! Show yourself!" Korra was becoming impetuous at the intruder that dared disturb her privacy. "I don't have all day! Come out and show yourself!"
An opalescent hand settled on her shoulder as she spun around, shielding her face in a bender's stance. "Calm down, Korra. You know well of who I am."
Lowering her hand, Korra parted her fingers, and her eyes basked in the eerie light emanating from the most astounding of figures. The traditional crimson garments of Fire Nation culture and the peak of his head crowned by a firelord headpiece in his up-do. "A-Avatar Roku
The fire aristocrat nodded at her acquiescence. His aura was illumined by the strange light characteristic of the spirit world. The edge of his lips curved slightly. "I see you are in terrible strife, young Avatar. The consequences of the Revolution have taken their toll, I can see."
Her spine straightened as she brushed off the splinters of wood on her pants. "Of all people, why are you contacting me? I thought Aang was the one who speaks to me."
He shook his head and hovered over the woodwork. "I see you have the spirit and tenacity of Kyoshi dwelling inside you." Neutrally, Roku continued, "Nevertheless, I came here not to quarrel with you, Korra. There is grave news I have."
Korra blinked and adjusted her eyes, noticing she started levitating too. "Hey! What gives?!"
"It is time to take a journey into the Spirit World, my child."
The wisp of his hairdo had been pancaked to his face, and his clothes were completely drenched from the blizzard outside the dilapidated igloo. Glacial blues peered out at the cataclysmic snowstorm that ravaged the village and was beginning to cause gigantic seismic cracks in the ice. The gales had not stopped for quite some time and were growing larger.
Katara solemnly wished inwardly that Aang were here to dispel the storm with his airbending, but no such luck. Even Tenzin would suffice in a situation like this, as long as they made it out alive.
"Master." Her eyes slanted upward when she noticed Tahno was speculating something. "If we stand any chance of getting out of this snowstorm, we need to cross that fissure and make it to the other side." He cast a fleeting look behind him as he grinded himself more into the wall. "You're the only bender right now I've got, so you have to bend a bubble around us to protect us from the winds."
Katara regarded the nasty crack that formed in the ice some time ago with suspicion. It would be a parlous endeavor, but if they had any shot at surviving, they would need to take the plunge. She nodded in reluctance. "I just wish Korra would get back soon."
Tahno shot a look at her and nodded. "You ready?"
She nodded and immediately they spurred into action. Katara knew she was getting too old for adventures, but their survival was contingent on her bending themselves out of there. Plus, she was in her element, too, so she had a bit of a slide. With the flex of her wrists, Katara swirled a pool of inner chi energy into the tips of her fingers and created a sphere of water around her and the exbender. Keeping one wrist tensed, she used the other to form an ice bridge across the rift. Snapping her hand back into formation, Katara traipsed through the snow with relative ease, Tahno trailing her in tow.
"We need to get down to the bottom of this hillside or we'll never get out of this storm!"
Despite Katara's age, her prowess and intonation were riveting, and she could carry herself rather well. All those traits aside, Katara and Tahno darted down the hill and scurried cross the solid ice bridge she created. The blizzard kept pelting their faces, but they did not give up the battle. Korra would be back soon and they would need to relay their message for aid across the world. But the southern tundra was a dreadful place, marked by the amaranthine snow flatlands, lack of resources, and deadly winds. It would be a miracle, at this rate, if they managed to even reach the nearest village by nightfall.
Tahno felt the inner conflict of his chi knocking around in his veins. Though the connection to the water element had been severed long ago, on occasion, the exbender would feel the sensation of the push and pull of blood in his system and ice would crescent on his fingertips, but as soon as he became aware of it, it would vanish in a trace. Somehow, though, when that connection was made, his stomach would start chill to a lower temperature and heart begin to race. Maybe he was bending without the acknowledgment that he could still do it?
He knew, however, that not even now, surrounded by the mainspring of his element, he couldn't produce even a measly stream of water. Katara was already so advanced in her veteran years that she was able to create water without the need to be immersed completely in the element. Before, Tahno required the constancy of water to be in close proximity in order to bend some amount of water useable for combat mode.
"It's not about fighting, Tahno, but about turning your opponent's energy against them." While he had been lost in his thoughts, the pair had already achieved some great distance from the settlement by reaching the base of the hill and scurrying across the endless plain. Katara perpetuated the bubble around them and dug her nails into Tahno's wrist. Her grip was ferocious, but they were almost through the brunt of the storm. Only a few more miles and-
A sky bison bellowed from above, searing the clouds apart with wind spells. "Oogi!" Katara exclaimed happily and was immediately thankful to the animal. The saddle was empty as the creature landed, but she urged Tahno to hop on, and behind the reigns, she yelled, "Yip yip!"
Now I'm on the back of a monster and about to vomit out my chest." Tahno arced over the saddle and wretched repulsively.
Katara twisted the snowflakes around her and sheltered them once again from the tempest. Oogi soared higher and higher into the air. "This is going to be a rough ride! Hang on!" Oogi gyrated and nearly threw Tahno off the saddle as he clung to the edge for dear life. "Come on
..we're almost there
She grunted and propelled Oogi consistently forward, urging him to accelerate. "Come on, Oogi, we gotta make it out of this storm!" The elements were striving hard against them, but because of the history she had with the animal's relative, Katara knew they would prevail and survive. The airborne bison curved in and out of the raging air currents, struggling to maintain his elevation. Katara knew they needed to zoom above the clouds if they wanted to be above the squalls.
Tahno played with his frilly hair, which was still upright in spite of the hectic climate. "Look, I want to go home. I don't care about any of this
She narrowed her eyes, but did not peek back at him. She was entirely focused on the conjuration of the element, not bantering with the exbender. But she couldn't be entirely silent.
"Korra and I are the only waterbenders left."
He leaned over and tried to get a look at her face. Silent tears streamed down her pale cheeks as the snow collect at her crinkled eyelashes. "Be thankful Amon didn't take away your bending." He squirmed as he rolled back into a sitting position, cradling his legs. "You're legendary. A living relic. If your bending was lost
Her head shot to the side. "This isn't about the bending, son! This is about my daughter, Kya!"
Tahno perspired and shrunk back, folding his arms. "Uhh, right." He shrugged loosely. "I, uh, got that." He soullessly stared off into space, pinching himself every time he glanced at the waterbending master. She was ancient, yes, but also still had the temper of a surly fourteen-year old. Nonetheless, they were headed back to Republic City, and the blizzard was slowly growing more miniscule as they rose to a higher altitude. His brain started reeling, but this time Tahno almost wanted to prove that he was going to be stalwart and not throw up. He was a man! Of course he could handle a little loftiness!
'No use talking to this crazy woman.'
Tahno sighed. Yep, they had a looooooonnnggg way to go, all right.
Here's Chapter 4 of The Revenant. I hope you guys are following along with this story. If you want to see more updates, look on ff.net, otherwise, I'll post them here but more slowly. Thanks!