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Book 2: War
July 21st, 2013
In the aftermath of the attack, John and the Refugees declare war on the Equalists.
Screams filled the air as several bystanders ran for their lives from the Arena. Over the screams came the sharp cracks of gunfire. In all corners, Equalists and Refugees fought furiously. In some areas, the Refugees were firing their weapons at the Equalists. In others, they had resorted to bending at close range, and still in others the fighting had simply resorted to hand to hand.
In the center of the Arena, a large group of glass shards fell from the dome overhead. This was followed closely by two figures, flailing about as they fell. On the dome, Avatar Korra looked down upon the battle. She watched helplessly as her friend fell towards the water several feet below.
Then, after a sweat filled heartbeat, John reacted to the fall. He snapped his arms to his sides and his legs together and allowed a large sustained burst of fire to erupt from each limb. Rather than falling, the firebender was suddenly sailing through the air. He slammed into The Lieutenant, and together they smashed into the glass on the commentator's booth.
Glass and broadcast equipment flew everywhere as the two landed. John cried out and clutched his left arm in pain, taking his attention away from The Lieutenant for a moment. Seeing this, The Lieutenant reacted quickly by drawing his sticks and prepared to end the duel. But even though he was injured, John was by no means out of the fight.
With a yell, he kicked with his right foot repeatedly. The resulting blasts of fire blinded The Lieutenant, causing him to stumble backwards and fall out of the booth through the window, ending the duel.
Groaning, John slid himself up against the back wall of the booth and used his right hand to draw one of his pistols. Clenching his teeth, he laid his gun in his lap and began to feel along his left arm, ignoring the pain it caused him. To confirm his fears, he found that his arm was broken along with a bone in his hand and three of his fingers.
"Huh? What's going on?" asked the broadcaster, Shiro Shinobi. Shiro had been knocked out when the battle began, and was just starting to regain consciousness. John sat his pistol in his lap again before he pulled down the mask he had been wearing.
"Get on your radio, let everyone know what's happening here," he said. Shiro quickly picked up the microphone and placed it back on the desk, but hesitated before he began broadcasting again.
"What about those masked people?" John held up his gun.
"You let me worry about that," he replied. Bracing his back against the wall, he began to stand so that he could get a better view of what was going on. Below him, Leon was in a battle with three Equalists. With his airbending and Webley revolver, he was gaining the upper ground. Not far from Leon, Roland was in the middle of a sword fight with what appeared to be a high ranking Equalist. Even from here, John could make out the metalbending controlled collapsible sword that Roland himself had invented.
Looking back up toward the holes in the dome, he could see Lin and Korra swinging away. The airship had already departed, leaving the dome exposed to the night air. Directly below the gap, a smoking crater sat in the ring, obviously an attempt by the Equalists to put an end to Pro Bending. The battle was winding down as the Equalists were either retreating or had been wounded.
Turning away from the scene, John made his way out of the booth, leaning his right shoulder on the wall for support the whole time. The pain from his arm was starting to take its toll, wearing him down.
"John! Are you alright?" came Tenzin's worried call. The airbending master came at a steady jog up the stairs.
"Arm's busted," John muttered in reply as he fell back against the booth door and slid down to the floor. As the darkness of unconsciousness began to creep over him, he saw Korra and Leon running up behind Tenzin. Then, he blacked out.
"And so, I am calling for the immediate removal of Lin Beifong as Chief of Police. It has become clear that she does not have what it takes to combat the growing Equalist threat," Tarrlok said, clasping his hands behind his back as he made his speech. The Council had met in response to the attack the previous night. Just as Tenzin began to speak up in protest, the doors to the room flew open. Both John and Korra entered the room, intending to confront the Council directly.
"John, Korra, what are you doing here? This is a closed meeting," Tenzin said, turning his attention to the newcomers.
Shut up, Tenzin," John replied. His arm was cradled in a sling, and he wore a single gunbelt around his waist.
"And to what do we owe this pleasure Avatar and, I'm sorry who are you?" asked Tarrlok.
"I am Colonel John Rider, commander of the Refugees," came the reply.
"I must apologize Colonel, but I'm afraid Tenzin is right, this is a closed meeting."
"Shut up and listen you pompous bastard. I've got things that need to be said." Silence fell over the room as everyone waited for him to speak. John took a breath before he began.
"Last night, not only was your police force attacked, but so were my people. Amon shows no discrimination in what he does. I had hopped that the Refugees would be able to complete the rebuilding processes without becoming involved, but it has become clear to me that it's impossible. Not just guards were attacked last night, but innocent unarmed spectators as well. From this moment on, The Refugees are at war with the Equalists, we will provide assistance in any means needed to put an end to the Revolution."
"That's very noble of you Colonel. But you said yourself that you are not apart of this city, you are a band of refugees from I don't even know where, so thank you for your offer but I'm afraid," Tarrlok started.
"Our blood stains your train station, Councilmen! Men and women I have known my whole life are dead. Don't you dare start to say that we're not getting involved because we are. And if any of you try to take steeps to ensure that we don't, I won't hesitate to turn our power on the city. Now I am offering you an alliance, leverage to help you win. But we will gladly fight without you if necessary." Silence fell over the room as John's words began to sink in.
"All in favor of accepting the Colonel's proposal?" asked Tenzin, raising his hand. All other members of the Council raised their hands as well, with the exception of Tarrlok. John gave a short, simple nod of approval before he turned away, leaving Korra to stand with the Council as the meeting was finished.
Outside, she and Tenzin found John waiting on them. A Peterson tobacco pipe hung out of his mouth. Although he wasn't smoking, merely chewing on the end. Tenzin cocked his eyebrow at Korra questioningly, expecting her to know something about what he was doing.
"He tried everything to help him sleep last night, turns out that chewing on that pipe helps take his mind off of the pain," she said. Tarrlok approached from behind them, almost unnoticed.
"Well Colonel, I must say that was quite the speech you gave in there. Although I think the part about turning your forces against the city was a little exaggerated," he said. John didn't change his poster, or even glance at the Councilman.
"Try me," he grunted in response, pausing in the chewing on the pipe long enough to speak. Turning away from John, he focused on Korra.
"Well Avatar, I hope you will rejoin my task force now that the Pro-Bending distraction is out of the way," he said. Korra shook her head.
"Forget it, I'm not rejoining your little vanity project. You need me more than I need you, I'm the Avatar."
"Your not the Avatar, your just a half baked Avatar still struggling to learn the elements. How is your airbending block going by the way?" Korra looked down in humiliation, feeling guilty.
"I've noticed something about you Tarrlok. You've got a bad habit of underestimating those around you. Now I figure that if we threw you and Korra into a ring and let the two of you go all out, she'll reduce your sorry ass to ashes and let the wind blow them away," John said, standing to bring his full height against Tarrlok's.
"You've got a lot of brass, Colonel. Those are some big words coming from someone who managed to injure himself in the fight last night."
"Keep on it, Councilman, and the whole city will know that you got your ass kicked by a one armed man," John said, leaning in. After a full second of staring Tarrlok down, he returned the pipe to his mouth and began to leave. Korra turned and hurried after him, leaving the two Councilmen in stunned silence.
"Thanks for that," she said when she caught up to him.
"Just some things that needed to be said. And for the record, Korra, I do think you'll beat him in a fight. You're just that good."
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