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|A Bittersweet Reunion|
Nothing comes slightly
"Ishio... Calm down, dude." Riding on a flying bison, the two teenagers departed for Republic City. The beast had conveniently appeared during their training, and now would take them to their destination. Though the bison would not be staying for much else in the journey, it made sense for Ishio to be jittery; an Earthbender this disconnected from the earth has a right to be uneasy. But something told Haneul that Ishio's nerves were deeper than flying.
"I am calm, you moron." Ishio replied bitterly, though his trembling hands betrayed his words.
"You know Airbending now. You just have to learn Waterbending, and then you can fix this mess." Haneul attempted to comfort the Avatar, but no avail. Ishio remained silent.
Down below, Republic City slowly became visible. Larger and larger it grew until the two were so close they could drop down and land without breaking any bones. The bison swooped down low to the street and allowed for Ishio and Haneul to jump off. Then, it flew off into the distance, leaving the two to fend for themselves once more. Their chests rose and fell heavily, both at least slightly nervous about seeing the rest of Team Avatar again.
They approached the warehouse—the designated location for this reunion—and paused. Voices could be heard on the other side of the door. Ishio pressed his body against the door, heaving it open with his entire body weight. Seated in the dim light, Frost and Ai Shi had a map spread out between them which they were in the midst of viciously marking with pen. Behind them, Odraz lay lethargically. All three looked up as Ishio and Haneul entered the warehouse.
"You're late." Frost said with a slight smile.
"At least we actually accomplished something in these two months." Ishio retorted. He paused for a moment, noticing something off. "Where's Liwei?"
Their silence was not comforting. Frost and Ai Shi looked between each other, and finally Ai Shi managed a few words, "I... We... Liwei probably... won't be coming."
"Don't speak too soon." Everyone in the warehouse turned towards the door to see the next speaker. Dressed in torn rags, dirt and grime covering his face, their handsome prince was hardly recognizable. He ran a hand through his tangled hair and a smile passed his lips.
"Liwei! How did you...?"
"We're in a tumultuous time... And I think the Fire Nation may end up stirring a rebellion." He replied enigmatically. "But that's beside the point, for now at least." Before continuing, Liwei directed his gaze towards Ishio. "Did you learn Airbending?"
"Yeah... I learned Airbending. But the Nomads were attacked by United Republic. They're all dead or captured." Ishio reported. At his words, a grim expression fell over Haneul, who remained silent.
"It seems that this internal war truly is changing," Liwei rubbed his jaw as he spoke.
"Why are you so talkative and cryptic all of a sudden?" Ishio inquired, his tone extremely sarcastic.
"I haven't changed at all."
"Yes he has," Frost interrupted. "He's the crown prince of the Fire Nation and never told us! The past two months he's spent locked up by his crazy twin brother who took the throne and is against the benders."
"Oho. Looks like the mystery of Liwei is finally unraveled. Any other scandals I should know about?"
Frost and Ishio laughed while Liwei rolled his eyes. "I hate to interrupt, but Ishio needs to learn Waterbending next. Time spent here is wasted time. Ishio said that one of you is a Waterbender and can teach him." Haneul spoke through their catching-up, bringing the others' attention back to the matter of saving the world.
"I'm a Waterbender," Frost replied hesitantly, "but I don't know about teaching Ishio. I was never even really taught Waterbending. It just comes naturally. I can't teach natural talent."
"White hair is right, though. We need to find Ishio a Waterbending teacher." Now Ai Shi spoke up, adjusting her glasses as her gaze wandered across the people in the room.
"My name is Haneul." The Airbender narrowed his eyes, seeming a bit irritated by the fact that he was the only person who did not get a say in what they would be called.
His interjection was ignored. "Where should we start looking for a Waterbending teacher?" Liwei mused.
"The Southern Water Tribe doesn't have a big restriction on their benders. Maybe we could start there?" Frost suggested.
"Sounds good to me," Ishio shrugged in casual agreement as he spoke. "But Odraz can't swim. How will we get there?"
"Whitey," Frost turned to the Airbender once more.
"My name is Haneul..."
"Didn't you take Ishio to the Northern Air Temple via plane? Maybe you could fly us to the Southern Water Tribe."
"Only problem is, I don't really have a plane anymore. And I couldn't really fly that one in the first place."
"That is a problem..." They all sighed and rubbed their chins thoughtfully.
"Maybe we should just leave it to chance," Ai Shi began. "There are plenty of benders in hiding around Republic City and other Nations. There must be some Waterbender who is willing to teach the Avatar."
"That's right!" Haneul interrupted in hastened excitement. "My father was really in the loop with some closet-benders. He probably knows a Waterbender. And surely, given my father's connections, the person will be willing to teach Ishio!"
"And we ran into your dad, Whitey," Frost continued their chain of epiphanies, gesturing quickly to Ai Shi as she said 'we.'
"My father is out of custody?!"
"Yeah! He's with August right now—"
"August Bounty-Hunter-August?" Ishio interrupted in disbelief.
"It's a long story," Frost said frankly, "but yes. Anyways, what that means is that they shouldn't be too hard to find."
"And we can ask about finding a Waterbender!"
Suddenly, the entire warehouse began to rumble. All of the members of Team Avatar quickly shifted their attention, bracing themselves for whatever might come next.
"Earthquake?" Frost spoke questioningly.
Ishio's brows furrowed ominously. "That wasn't an earthquake."
Another tremor shook the ground, and once more they braced themselves. This time, the doors to the warehouse flew off their hinges. The teenagers ducked, avoiding the doors as they flew in. And following not far behind were Republic City police officers, mixed with United Republic military. Most importantly, United Republic military tanks.
A voice spoke out of one of the tanks. "The Avatar and his cohorts are under arrest for crimes of murder, treason, theft, arson, and bending. Keep your hands where we can see them." With little other choice, the teenagers all raised their hands above their heads defenselessly while police officers poured from the vehicles and bound their hands.
Ropes bound Odraz before the badgermole could even flinch. Despite rough tossing around, he stayed bound just as the rest of the members of Team Avatar. The police officers pressed hard against the teenagers' backs, forcing them to move quickly to their demise. A grimace passed their faces. Their thoughts all become the same: how had they been found, and what would happen next? Hands against the back of their heads prevented them from looking about the others, but they could figure that none had betrayed their location. Which meant that someone slipped up and didn't realize they were being tailed... If they were tailed. At this point, Republic City always acted so swiftly for their arrest—and always after Ishio had learned an element—that it seemed almost as if everything was planned... As if...
But there was not time for any of them to think too far in depth. Yet, within the pits of their stomachs, they all had the same sickening feeling. The sickening feeling that comes from someone who knows they are just a pawn, yet has no idea who the real player is. Each loaded onto a separate tank, the teens of Team Avatar were shipped out of the warehouse and off to an unknown location. Only one thought remained...
- I was too lazy to edit this for typos... And I'm trying to finish Book Two before the new year. One chapter to go!
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