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|Chapter 4: The journey begins|
Volume I: earth
20th July 2012
Chapter 4: The journey Begins
The sun had reached his highest point when Isamu and Emma arrived in Dong-Zun. The air was vibrating from the heat and the sun was burning into their necks. Isamu wiped the sweat of his forehead and turned to Emma. She was very quiet and didn't looked at him one time during the walk back: it was nothing like her. She loved Isamu and was always excited when they were together.
'Is there something wrong?' Isamu said, while putting his arm around her shoulder. 'No...' Emma still didn't looked at him. 'It's just... about what Hiroto said... Do you think there are more people with powers like you?'
'I don't know...' Isamu looked down the street, which was scorched because of the heat. 'It's like he said, it's a big world. Maybe there are earthbenders out there, or anybody with similar powers.'
'So... you're leaving Dong-Zun?'
Emma's face was gathering tears. 'What about me?'
Isamu looked surprised. 'How do you mean, what about you?'
'You are going to leave me here!' Emma looked like she could almost burst into tears. 'You said I was the only one you really cared about! And now you're just leaving?'
Isamu looked even more surprised. 'I didn't even considered that. I was actually hoping you would come along with me!'
Emma stopped sniveling. 'You.. you what?'
'I can't make this journey by myself, Emma.' Isamu stroke trough her hair. 'I promised I would protect you and I will not break that promise. Why did you think I would leave you here in the first place?'
'It's just...' Emma blushed. 'We're teenagers and the world is full of danger... Maybe you wanted to protect me. We might not come back alive.'
Isamu thought about her words. They might indeed not come back alive... and to travel the world was not an easy task...
'Emma, we can't leave right now...' He stopped and hold Emma back. 'We don't have any food or any form of transport. Maybe we need more time to prepare for this trip...'
'I already thought about that and I have the solution', Emma said. 'We're going to the headquarters of the Rebel Alliance. They will be glad to help.'
They headed into the small alleys of Dong-Zun: although the outside had broad streets who were heading out of the village, the heart of the town was an enormous maze of alleys and narrow streets. However, Isamu and Emma wandered these streets many times and had no trouble finding the way to the headquarters. After 15 minutes of walking and dashing, they arrived at a big silo at the end of a dark alley. Emma took a deep breath, and knocked three times on the iron door.
A muffled voice came from behind. 'How far does it take to achieve happiness?'
'It's a long walk to freedom.', Emma answered with a straight face.
'Indeed.' The muffled voice said, and the door opened. A man with a long face, massive muscles and long blonde hair, which was worn in a ponytail, was standing in the opening. 'Ah, it's you Emma. And.. well, long time no see, Isamu!'
'It's been a while, Takeshi.' Isamu smiled at the man.
Emma shook her head while looking at Takeshi's hair. 'Why do you keep that ponytail, Takeshi? It looks ridiculous. If only Rei and me were allowed to cut it short...'
'You keep your little hands of my ponytail!' Takeshi said. 'The Company could raid us any time and the little rebel is talking about haircuts...'
'Well, if you just-' Emma began, but Isamu interrupted her. 'We're actually here to see Siddhartha, Takeshi. Do you know where he is?'
'In his room, like always.'
'Thanks. We can find the way ourselves.' Isamu started dragging Emma by her arm into the main room of the silo. Emma glanced irritated at Takeshi, who was taunting her by playing with his ponytail. Emma returned the favor by putting out her tongue.
Siddhartha's office was above the main room of the silo, which could only be reached by a metal staircase. The steps of Isamu and Emma echoed through the hall, which attracted the attention of the rebels. They were even more surprised to see Isamu.
'Long time no see, youngster!'
Isamu waved to a couple of people, but he was delighted when he finally reached the top of the staircase. The door to Siddhartha's office was open, and they saw a small ray of light coming out of the door. Emma knocked on the door and they went inside.
The office was a chaos of paper, and the only light came from a small light bulb which was hanging at the ceiling. In the middle of the office, there was a large office desk, where a middle-aged, tanned man with a scar on his nose was working on a report. He looked up when he saw Isamu and Emma coming in. Just like the others, he was surprised to see Isamu.
'Isamu! My child, what are you doing here? It's been too long.'
'True that, commander.'
'Oh please, I'm not your commander anymore since you've left.', Siddhartha said.
'I'm glad to see you here alive. What can I do for you?'
Isamu and Emma started telling him the story: about the attack of Ryuusaki and his gang, the raid of the factory and the promise of Hiroto. Siddhartha didn't interrupt them, but you could see he wasn't happy about what just happened: when they were finished, his face didn't showed any expression.
'So you're telling me' he started when they finished talking. 'That you've tried to raid a factory and were almost killed by the workers, but fended them off with earthbending?'
Isamu bowed his head. 'Are you angry?'
'I can't deny that it was a foolish action, that could have killed you both and that you almost killed one of my soldiers.', Siddhartha said. 'However, I shall not punish you, since I'm not in charge of you anymore.' He turned around and looked at the wall behind him, which was covered with a large map of Bablon. 'I'm also interested in what Hiroto said to you. He is absolutely right: Bablon is huge and there is a possibility that there are people out there who have the power to manipulate the elements.'
Emma noticed that he was using a plural. 'Elements, sir?'
'You thought that earth was the only element in the world?' Siddhartha chuckled. 'You two have much to learn. You see, in ancient times, people claimed that the world we now live in was based on four elements.' He took a small scrap of his desk and started writing.
'Water...' he wrote the word in the left upper corner.
'Earth...' the word was written in the upper right.
'Fire...' He wrote the word at the bottom of the page, in the left corner.
'And air.' The word was written on the right bottom of the paper.
Then, he started drawing lines to the middle. 'These elements are the basics for the world we are part of.'
Isamu looked at the paper. 'So, what you are saying is that there are also people who can manipulate water, fire and air at their will?'
Siddhartha nodded. 'It's highly possible.'
'But... how do you know all of this? I never heard anything about ancient civilizations who are able to bend the elements.'
'I never told anyone this...' Siddhartha leaned back into his chair. 'But before I joined the rebels, I was a scholar at the university of Ba Sing Se, specialized in history. I've read a lot about ancient civilizations and their opinions about the world. That's where I got the idea that the world must consist of four elements. However...' he paused and looked at Isamu. 'I never read anything that people living in those times were able to manipulate the elements at their will. You are the first person I know who has such powers. But, if my theory is correct...' he paused again. 'And the ancient civilizations were able to bend the elements, you must be a descendant of them. If those powers are hereditary, there are possibly more earthbenders in Bablon, and maybe even water, fire- and airbenders.'
Isamu looked at him, amazed. 'That is one amazing theory...'
Siddhartha nodded and stood up. 'What I suggest, is that you travel to Ba Sing Se, and try to unravel more of the origin of your powers, just like Hiroto said. But what I really want to know is...' He bent over to Isamu, gazing him into his eyes. 'What are you going to do with such powers?'
Isamu looked back, determined. 'Maybe I can find a way to end all the misery in the world. Too many people are living in poverty and despair. People are dying every day because the Company don't want to admit their world has failed... If we can defeat the company, we can start again, and create a better world for everyone.'
Siddhartha smiled. 'Although you may have left the Rebel Alliance, you still have their spirit inside of you. You couldn't have made me a prouder commander.' He turned around and prepared to open the door. 'A man who is trying to tear down the company is a friend of the alliance, and we are ought to help him. I shall give you the flying lemur, a hovercar which will help you reach Ba Sing Se faster, and some supplies for the trip. I will send a message downstairs to prepare the Lemur. You may want to rest in one of the beds.'
Isamu nodded and immediately felt how tired he was. 'That would be fine, Siddhartha. But is the Lemur big enough for two? I actually wanted to take Emma with me on the trip.'
Siddhartha's face turned blank. 'I can't let you do that, Isamu.'
Emma started to protest. 'What, why?! You let Isamu go without any warning and you don't want to let me go? I'm only two years younger! He can't make this trip alone! He-'
Siddhartha made a hand gesture to calm down Emma. 'Emma, when your parents perished during that raid, they insisted that I would take care of you until you became an adult. Since you are fifteen and too young, I can't let you go on this trip. It would be irresponsible.' Siddhartha's face became stern. 'I can't tell Isamu what to do, since he is not under my command anymore. However, I still can give you orders and this is an order. Say Isamu goodbye here: you are not allowed to be there when he takes off. Takeshi will help him.'
Emma tried to protest again, but she couldn't say anything. She turned to Isamu, trying to say him goodbye, but her face was gathering tears again. Without saying a word, she ran off.
Siddhartha sighted and looked at Emma's gesture. 'One day she will understand.' He turned to Isamu. 'And now, go to sleep. You will depart at midnight at the top of the silo.'
After a delicious dinner and a couple of hours of sleep, Isamu went on his way to the top of the silo. It was 10 minutes before midnight: he tiptoed past the sleeping gestures of the other rebels. When he was in the hallway, Takeshi was already waiting for him.
'Let's go. Everything is ready', Takeshi whispered. Without making any noise, they made their way to the top of the silo. When they arrived, Takeshi looked over his shoulder, as if he wanted to make sure they were not being followed.
Isamu wondered. 'What are you-?'
Takeshi made a hand gesture to keep him quiet. When he was sure they were not followed, he whispered into the dark: 'okay, you can come out.'
Isamu peered into the dark. 'What can come-'
His questions was immediately answered. From behind a big stack of boxes, Emma appeared, all set up for the trip: she was wearing a jacket and a big scarf was wrapped around her neck.
'Emma!' Isamu almost yelled, but just in time he realized that everybody was sleeping. 'What are you doing here?', he whispered.
'Preparing to leave with you, of course!', Emma whispered back. 'You didn't think I would let you go alone? I told Takeshi about it and he was willing to help me: he hid me here and I waited until midnight.'
'You can't go with me! Siddhartha gave you orders!'
'Yeah, but what if...' she smiled naughty. 'If I don't belong the Rebel Alliance anymore? Then Siddhartha has no choice to let me go!'
'But he promised to your parents to look after you.'
'You also promised that: it doesn't really matter who will look after me.', Emma shrugged her shoulders, and she started to look disappointed. 'I thought you wanted me to go with you?'
'I want, but...'
'You can't forbid her to stay here, Isamu', Takeshi added. 'You promised her that she could go with you and you are not in charge of her. It only makes sense to take her with you.'
Isamu hesitated. He didn't want to disobey Siddhartha, but he made a promise to Emma that she could go with him. Plus, he couldn't make this journey by himself: if he could choose someone to join him, it would be Emma.
Isamu sighted. 'Okay, hop in.'
Emma clapped and hugged Isamu. 'I knew it! Thank you! And thank you too, Takeshi.'
'No problem, lil' one.', Takeshi chuckled. 'But don't forget the promise you made!'
'I won't!' Emma jumped into the Flying Lemur. 'Come on Isamu, let's go!'
Isamu followed her and stepped in to the hovercar. It was a magnificent machine: this was not his first time into a hovercar, but it was definitely the most advanced he had ever seen. He grabbed the steering wheel. 'Okay Takeshi, open the roof!'
Takeshi lifted his thumb and pulled a lever. With a loud rumbling, the roof started to move open. When the rumbling stopped, thousands of stars where smiling down on to them. It would not be difficult to fly through this bright night.
Isamu started the engine. 'Okay, off we go!'
And with the soft humming of the hovercar in their ears, the left.
For the collective works of the author, go here.