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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"The Western Air Temple?" Takumi asked. "I'll be going there in a couple months. You see, when I turn twenty at the end of Autumn, my parents are going to buy me my own Sky Bison, and I'm going to fly to The Western Air Temple, so the nuns there can test me to see if I'm a master Airbender! Then I'll get the tattoos and everything.""|
|— From The Airbender|
|""We can't afford to wait." Shinji said, patting Shirou on the back. "The Bandits will kill us if we do. Takumi is going to be okay.""|
|— From The Airbender|
|""That's besides the point." Shinji leaned towards his friend. "We need to get out here, we need a life - I want a life! You're my ticket to protection." "|
|— From Frostbite|
|"The Polar Revolution knows all the deepest secrets about the Water Tribe. Especially about royalty." Asaki started pacing back and forth across the room. "I run a group unlike any other. All members are disciplined, stealthy, and can take a hit. We are rebels, fighting for freedom against the general rules of this nation, royalty, poverty, The Procession. We work hard to free our people, and never stop. Each and every one of us know that if they don't do what is told, I will break them. Don't underestimate a seventeen year old girl. I've been leading this rebellion since I was twelve, and could kill a full grown man back then, too. I won't let our reputation fall, and I've never had someone out of this group know of us. Shirou and Shinji, welcome to The Polar Revolution.""|
|— From The First Strike|
|The Polar Revolution|
October 5, 2011
This is Chapter 29 in The Avatar Rhythm Series.
The clanging of iron handcuffs danced through the shadows of a cold icy tunnel far beneath the streets of the Northern Water Tribe, echoing and chilly. Shirou and Shinji were in chains, being led through through the passageway by Asaki, going to the main base of The Polar Revolution, a high-risk band of rebels that the duo were being forced to join.
"So what are we going to do here?" Shirou asked. "Take down some policemen, steal some food, or-"
"You're a new recruit," Asaki said. "Maybe if you're here a couple more months you can start dreaming of doing more than guarding our prisons and washing our dishes." She laughed, watching the duo grimace.
"You're kidding, right?"
Asaki turned around, tugging on the chains around their wrists. "We'll let you on a couple missions, see what you're worth. Although we aren't going to let you out of our sight for a while, you two especially."
Shinji, who had been quiet for most of the walk, spoke up. "What do you mean by that?"
"Most people who join us want to. I made you become a part of this group, and I don't want you to get out and tell everyone about it. Anyway, the Water Tribe is looking pretty hard for you, and I'm sure we can get a nice ransom out of the deal."
Shirou looked at Asaki. "So we're just bribes for hire?"
The duo looked at each other.
"We're here," Asaki said, pointing to an iron door at the end of the icy hallway, a couple yards away. "Let me show you around."
Meanwhile, Hotaru and Ken were sitting in front of Water Chief Riku and two military officers in the Royal Palace, soaked and cold.
"I'm telling you, it was a mistake," the Avatar pleaded. "We were just in a lesson."
The Chief shook his head. "I'm not mad at you, I just want to know what happened. I want my son back."
Ken leaded forward, sending a bit of ice sliding down his back. "They were in the Royal Arena, coming for Hotaru, your son and this group, the, umm-"
"The Polar Revolution," Hotaru chimed in.
Riku sat down, and looked at the officers beside him. "Do you know of this group, by any chance?"
The man to his left shook his head. "Not very well, if I do at all. I'll check some files, if it you want."
"That would be good," Riku mumbled. "Thank you."
As the officer hurried out of the room, Hotaru looked at the Chief. "But what will happen to us? To me? I destroyed the lobby of the Royal Arena, allowed the Polar Revolution to escape, let Shirou leave, and I still can't get Waterbending."
"That's none of my worries, dear," Riku said. "We'll get to punishment later. Right now I'm focused on getting Shirou." He buried his head in his hands. "I just can't believe he's here, how could I think he was still in the Fire Nation? I always knew he was a rebellious kid, but I now I don't even-"
"Riku," Ken said. "We're going to find to him."
Shirou tied the final lace on his new dark blue uniform, covered in snowy stripes. "I look like loser, don't I?" he asked Shinji, who was also putting on a uniform.
They walked out of a hallway into a larger room, where Asaki greeted them. "Now there's only one more thing," she said, handing them a pair of necklaces. They were made of a thick black weave, with a blue amulet hanging from the center. Carved into the stone was the insignia of The Polar Revolution, a Water Tribe symbol with a curved knife instead of a moon. Shirou and Shinji tied them around their necks, and finally felt like part of a team.
Asaki awkwardly stared at them for a moment. "Shirou," she said. "I think I should give this back to you. I guess." She took the crystal bottle with the Venomsprout in it out of her pocket, and handed it to them. Shinji quickly took and stuffed it in his backpack, relieved.
"So what do we do now?" asked a confused Shirou. "When do missions start?"
"Right now just get something to eat," Asaki said, gesturing to a nearby door marked Kitchen. "You'll be living here for a while."
Shirou and Shinji walked past her, and opened the door, gasping at what laid front of them.
Hundreds of members of The Polar Revolution in identical uniforms, men and woman alike, were crowding every corner and block of ice in a giant cave around them, munching on various meats and breads. Some looked up at them, raising their eyebrows, others just glanced over for a second and went back to their food. It was chaotic.
"Where should we sit?" Shinji asked, walking wherever he wouldn't stomp an someone's chest or arm.
Shirou looked around, and saw a boy around their age sitting on a rock a couple feet away, and seemed to recognize him. He had short blond hair and had a paler face than most of the others around him. "Hey Shinji, see the kid over at there, is that-"
The boy looked up, and smiled. It was the Airbender who saved their lives several times when they first encountered the Quadrination Bandits, a friend who they thought they'd never see again. "Hey!" he shouted, waving his hand towards them. "Is that really you?"
The duo walked over, and shook Takumi's hand, greeting each other for the first time in months. "How on Earth did you end up in a band of Water Tribe rebels?"
He sat down. "That's a long story." he threw two chunks of arctic hen meat over at them. "Eat something."
Shirou sank his teeth into the first real meat he had eaten since living at the Fire Nation. "I can't believe you're here."
Takumi nodded his head. "It's weird, isn't it? I thought after I fought off those benders in my village you would be dead."
"I thought you were going to become an Airbending master," Shinji said. "Not a rebel."
"I was going to be," he replied. "But when I got to the Western Air Temple it was half-destroyed, laden with corpses and rubble."
"Are the nuns okay?" asked Shirou. "Is Sora okay?"
"Who, the Mother Superior? Yeah, she's okay. Alive at least. Apparently the bandits who attacked the place left pretty quickly after they did so much damage."
Shinji frowned. "I had escaped, and they no longer had a reason to be there."
Takumi looked at his two friends, still amazed they had found each other. "I had a feeling you played a part of that. Anyway, they tested me at the temple, and gave me the cool tattoos." He pointed at the blue arrow beneath his thin hair. "See? Afterwards they told me to go, they said that there was work to be done, but gave me a sky bison named Artos and let me have a glider. I left to find some hope, and decided on the Water Tribe. But when I came here I had no money, and barely evaded being punished by The Procession. I realized that they had too much control over the nation, and wanted to rebel against them. And I found the perfect group to do so. The Polar Revolution."
"Wow," Shirou mumbled. "So what have you been doing for this group?"
Before Takumi could answer, a loud voice boomed throughout the cave. "Attention Polar Revolution!" Everyone looked over at Asaki, standing upon a table at the far end of the room. "Attention! Tonight we will be executing our first major attack of the winter. Our target, The Procession. As you know, their Northern Headquarters lies in the wall of Tundra Canyon, designed to be impenetrable. But due to the recent flood there is water flowing through the canyons, giving direct access to a perfect strike. Our mission is to find their status reports in their base. I'm letting our newest two recruits go on this mission, but will bring some more experienced rebels too. There's no time to waste. Lets start packing."
Back at the Royal Palace, Chief Riku watched his head military officer come into his room. There was no one else there, and he needed to plot something out.
"We've found a file on The Polar Revolution sir," he said. "A very small one."
The officer cleared his throat. "Apparently they stole ten soldiers as hostages during the Siege of Coastal Front, and there is an indirect mention of there appearance in an old file of a bank robbing. None are definite."
"That's it?" Riku wanted more.
"From what I can tell they are a group of rebels, fighting against our authority."
"Tell me about them."
"I don't know anything else, Chief," he said. "They're too stealthy." He paused. "And there's another thing."
Riku looked up quizzically.
"The Procession wants your son, too."
That night, Shirou and Shinji stood in the front of a large Water Tribe boat filled with members of The Polar Revolution, steering their way through a narrow canyon filled with the smallest amount of water possible. This was more of a mission for them. It was a test. Asaki stood ten feet behind them, ordering directions, barking rules.
"The front entrance to the base isn't very far away," she said. pointing forward. "See that window?"
Shirou squinted, and saw a small dark spot in the icy canyon wall. "So there's a base inside here?"
"The Procession's Northern Headquarters."
Asaki looked up, and gazed around. "We can't get in by the front entrance, so that window is our best bet."
"What will we do once we get inside?" asked Shinji.
"You're going to be watching the boats, actually. This is an important mission, and I don't want you two ruining it. We need to obtain The Procession's monthly status report, a file that holds all the info on their recent business offers, new recruits, and incomes. It's the key to planning any real strike against them." Asaki paused, and looked around the canyon. "Stop the boats."
Shirou slammed on a wooden lever jutting out of the floor, and the boat he was steering slowly came to a halt. They could clearly see the neat line of windows in the ice now. It was time.
Asaki climbed up onto the sail of the ship, and cleared her throat. "Polar Revolution!" she called. "All assigned members should follow me into this base. I'll give more directions once we get inside!"
Ten men dressed in their uniforms jumped onto the great wall of ice next to them, and started climbing, following Asaki. And in less than a minute, they were gone through the window, leaving Shirou and Shinji alone to watch the boats. They stared at each other for a moment, awkwardly.
"Weird we found Takumi out here, huh?" Shinji mumbled.
Shinji looked down. "Shirou, I think we need to talk."
"I don't think we should be doing this. I don't think we should be a part of these rebels. I really wanted a life and now were criminals, because of me. I just don't get it. I don't think it's fair. And I know you think this is cool and all, I think it is too, but we really aren't fit for this."
Shirou looked up.
"I'm afraid of what The Polar Revolution is going to do to us. Soon, we're not even going to be ourselves. I'm sorry I got you into this mess."
"It's not that bad," Shirou said, hoping that what his friend said wasn't true, knowing it was. "I promise that I won't get into this too much."
They looked at each other for a second. Words weren't necessary. It was if they communicated with each other without speaking, telling each other the truth. They knew how guilty they were.
"Okay." Shinji said. He smiled, and even if it was forced, he meant it. Looking down into the cold icy water, he saw schools of arctic elephant koi dashing through the river. It was peaceful. Right now, between Shirou's decisions, The Polar Revolution, and finding Takumi, he was just really confused. And watching the water trickle below him kind of made it better. It focused his mind. He clearly saw the world for the first time. For so long Shinji was tormented by The Quadrination Bandits, he used to be corrupted. But now that he was finally at peace, the world seemed to be betraying him. Again.
Suddenly, an echoey rumble filled the canyon they were in, breaking his thoughts. "What's that?"
The duo huddled next to each other, backing away from the wall of The Procession's base, which seemed to be shaking all together.
"Is that, you know, natural?"
Suddenly, an explosion burst out of one of the windows in the wall, and out of the smoke ran Asaki, holding a clip of parchment, running from a Procession member. Looking back, she realized that she wouldn't be able to defeat the man one handed, and jumped out of the fifth story window confidently. Before she was going to crash into the water below, a brick of ice jutted out of the wall, bent by another Polar Revolution man, shooting her back into the air. Asaki kicked the wall as she flew upwards, sending her towards the boats, and she gracefully landed on the tip of the mast of their ship, untouched.
"That is one girl," Shirou muttered.
Shinji gave him a smug look.
Before he could respond, Asaki was already barking orders. "Mission accomplished," she said. "You better start the ship up."
As the other men quickly boarded the boat, Shinji pulled the anchors from the icy riverbed, riding away as a criminal. He was a part of The Polar Revolution. And there was nothing that could be done about it.
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