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Book 3: Dawn
Chapter 4: Arrival
Aang shook his head. "Argho...what have you done?"
"This could have disastrous effects in the future, Argho! You should've consulted with us first!" Korra cried.
"I had no time." Argho replied. "I needed to learn enough about Energybending to be able to adequately deal with the problem at hand. If the need arises for Wan Shi Tong's library again, we'll find a way to get what we need. Besides, without that spirit's help, I doubt I would've been able to get anything from the Spirit of Knowledge at all."
Aang frowned. "That's another problem. If he's involved, this is way out of even your league, my friend."
The current Avatar sighed. "I cannot know what is coming if you keep things from me. I have one condition when it comes to choosing allies: no secrets. I violated that with Moro Kenshi, and it nearly cost Shen his life." He narrowed his eyes. "I will fight to the end to keep balance, but I cannot do that if I do not know who it is I'm dealing with!"
"He didn't tell you?" Korra asked.
"No...he simply gave Wan Shi Tong the compromise, and when the owl accepted, he left in a flash of light."
"I'm not sure we should tell you if he did not."
Argho gritted his teeth. "I expected such a response from Aang, but where has your courage gone, Avatar Korra? If this spirit is an ally, then revealing his identity will only aid me. If he is an enemy, it will do the same."
Aang's eyes widened. "Argho!"
"No, Aang, he's right." She curled her fists into balls. "I've been sidestepping this guy, but Argho can't go into this war blind!"
"Fine...you're right. Tell him."
Korra nodded. "He is one of the oldest spirits in existence...not even Usha or Koh would know where he, or the others, came from."
Argho raised an eyebrow. "Others?"
"He is called the Shinigami, and he is one of four original members of a council of spirits that watch over the balance of everything. The others are the spirits of Light and Darkness, as well as the Spirit of Order."
The current Avatar frowned. "What about Chaos?"
Aang stepped forward. "I'm afraid that I'm responsible for his unavailability. Koh died by my hand many years ago."
"Koh was the Spirit of Chaos?! But I thought this council was—"
Korra laid and hand on Argho's shoulder. "Koh was not the first...another was...destroyed by the council for reasons unknown to us. Koh was chosen by the other four as the new Spirit of Chaos almost immediately after the original's destruction."
"Wait..." Argho ran his hand through his hair. "Doesn't that mean that there should've been a new Spirit of Chaos chosen by now?"
"I...I don't know what to say...thank you..." Moro pulled the fur hood over her head as her protector smiled.
"You are not alone. When you get to the Northern Fortress, you will find the help you seek."
The Waterbender nodded. "Yeah, thanks again...I'm not sure I would've been able to hide from my father without your help, Sora."
She kept smiling. "Finding some of your mother's relatives wasn't difficult, and Kenshin gave up the search a couple of years back." Sora frowned. "Be warned, though, the closer you get to Susanowo, the easier you will be to detect. Kenshin will resume his search. Moro? Moro, are you listening?"
"Moro, are you alright?" Ula was waving her hand in front of the Waterbender's face. "Your expression went...blank."
"Oh...sorry. I was just lost in thought." She sighed. "I was...thinking about...well...I abandoned my mom in her time of need."
Shen's mother furrowed her brow. "To escape your father."
"How'd you guess?" Moro asked bitterly. "He destroyed her, and he corrupted Kyrie. He and Susanowo tried to do the same to me!"
Ula smiled warmly. "Poor girl...you've been through a lot, haven't you?"
Moro's head shot up. "What?"
"You've been dragged through the mud, and here we are treating you with suspicion and baseless paranoia."
"It's not entirely baseless..." She narrowed her eyes and gazed at the floor. "I nearly killed Shen...I stabbed..." The girl nearly choked on the words that came next. "I stabbed him and left him for dead."
The Air Nation Councilwoman leaned forward. "And this changes what, exactly?"
The Waterbender clenched her fists. "Didn't you hear me?! I can't be trusted! I nearly killed my only friend because Susanowo got into my head! The worst part...he didn't...control me. Sure, he may have gotten me thinking, but I was the one who formed the icicle; I—!"
"Enough!" The woman stood. "If you believe so strongly that you can't be trusted, that my son does not understand, then why did you come?"
Her voice lowered near to a whisper. "You can't see past what you believe to be your failure, and you can't see that Shen is still your friend. Will you wallow in self-pity, or will you take a stand and do what you set out to do?"
Moro's red eyes were as wide as dinner plates. "This...this wasn't what I expected from you...I tried..."
"I do not know exactly what happened, but I trust Shen's judgment, Miss Kenshi. If he has forgiven you, who am I to hold a grudge? That being said, I will ask one thing of you."
"And that is?"
"Do not confront Susanowo; seeing that it is such a stumbling block for you, I would advise against it. Leave this battle for the Avatar. If you truly care for my son in any way, at least consider this."
Kuan Ti narrowed his eyes as the steamship docked with their particularly conspicuous logo emblazoned on the side. Argho still had not returned to the physical plane, and the Equalist's only solace was that he would return eventually.
"Better sooner than later, Argho..."
Zhan placed a hand on his shoulder. "We have company waiting for us. They spotted our mark before we could even get close, and take a guess as to who is waiting for us."
"Metalbenders." He sighed. "Let's get this over with, then."
The two Equalists opened the hatch to the upper deck and exited the underbelly of the ship. Flashes met their eyes as several cameras began to go off, and they soon found a dozen gun barrels pointed in their direction.
"Well, this is in direct violation we gave you and yours after the whole Amon incident." A dark-haired man in ornate armor calmly made his way to meet them. His armor bore the symbol of the United Republic of Nations. "I can't say I'm going to cry many tears over your arrest."
As the full brunt of the police force moved toward Kuan Ti and Zhan, they raised their hands in the air. "We're traveling with the Avatar; he can vouch for us."
The man raised an eyebrow. "The Avatar? Well, that changes absolutely nothing...yet. Take them to processing and booking. I'll handle their interview personally."
"Wait, doesn't the Avatar's word mean anything to you?!" Zhan cried.
"It does, but he has not revealed himself as of yet. So, your desperate claims—"
"He's on a Spirit World journey; his physical body is currently locked in his quarters on the ship. Go and see for yourselves." Kuan Ti said.
One of the gun-toting nonbenders turned to the armored man. "Should we check it out, Chief Kinzoku?"
The Chief nodded. "But be careful; make sure to arrest any other Equalists aboard. The rest of you can escort these two to the holding cells."
Zhan's eyes widened. "We told you what you where Argho was! Why are we—?!"
Kinzoku reached his hand down, pulling a thin strip of metal off of his belt and sending it forward to wrap around the Equalist's mouth. "Quiet. Even if the Avatar is aboard, I will not simply release you, not until I've heard his story." He motioned forward with his head. "Take them away."
Zhan struggled to cry out, but it was no use. As his muffled voice tried desperately to break through, likely with some choice words for the Chief, Kuan Ti silenced him with a glare.
"Argho will sort this out, my friend. Be patient."
Aang smacked himself in the forehead. "A new Spirit of Chaos...I hadn't thought about it."
"Argho's right...why haven't they made a decision yet?" Korra asked.
The current Avatar stroked his beard. "From what I have heard, Koh was a master at sewing dissent and disorder. Perhaps they haven't been able to find a spirit who can match him in that regard."
"I don't see why they'd want one..." The Airbending Avatar sighed. "If Koh was the second, I can't even imagine what the first was like..."
"We should get it, Aang." Korra replied. "It's always balance..."
"Aang, Korra, we have to focus. I have a way to at least fight Otokami on even terms, and I'll show you both once I've gotten somewhere less...problematic."
Korra nodded. "You can feel them, can't you?"
Argho opened his eyes, finding himself back in his cabin on the ship just as an armored man was reaching to grab him.
While his eyes still glowed, the Avatar reached up and gripped the man's forearm. As he struggled, Argho simply spun his other wrist to create a slight air flow and thrust it into the man's midsection.
As he stood, another armored attacker rushed forward to intercept him. When a small cable shot out from his wrist, the Earthbender began to understand.
"I think there's been a misunderstanding." He ducked around the cable and planted his foot into the man's midsection, sending him into the hallway with a fire-enhanced kick and following quickly after.
"Avatar Argho, I presume."
The voice caused Argho to glance down the hall, where an ornately armored man walked to meet him.
"I am Chief Kinzoku of the Republic City Police Department, and we have much to discuss."
"Indeed...I have one question, however. Where are my allies?"
The Chief's eyes narrowed. "That is what we must discuss; you will come with me." He flicked his arm out, launching two thick, metal cables that wrapped around the Avatar's right arm. "Without incident."
Argho let loose a chuckle. "You know...had you simply asked...this whole business could've been exactly that: without incident. However..."
The Avatar pulled harshly, nearly lifting Kinzoku off of his feet. Being the Earthbender he was, the Chief's stance was strong, and he held his ground. In response, Argho flipped his right foot over the cables and stomped down, sending the Metalbender to his knees. To escape the metal bonds, the large man snapped his fingers, bringing a small—but intense—flame to his index finger, which he used to instantly cut through the wires.
Kinzoku grimaced. "So...you truly are powerful. Damn...I was hoping this would be easy."
"It still can be; call off your attack and release my friends."
"I cannot. They are Equalists, and as such, they are not allowed to set foot in the United Republic. Ever!"
The Chief whipped his left arm across his body, ripping a section of the metal wall away sending toward Argho. The Avatar manifested a small ball of air in his hand that stopped the attack, and the metal began to mold around the swiftly moving ball. Sweat began to pour from Kinzoku's forehead as he attempted to push the metal surface toward his foe regardless.
Argho flipped and sent a spinning fire wave from his feet, all the while keeping his hand in place to block the metal wall section. It soon proved unnecessary when Kinzoku abandoned that attack to dodge the fire wave. When he landed back on his feet, he felt the metal buck beneath him and glanced up at the Avatar. Argho was stomping steadily toward him, a determined glare fixed on his face.
"This ends now, Chief Kinzoku; my apologies."
The Metalbender raised an eyebrow just before comprehension struck. He felt the metal rip from the wall to his right, but it moved far too fast for him to stop it. The strip of metal slammed against his side and propelled him into the opposite wall.
Kinzoku slumped to the floor, unconscious, and Argho hoisted the body over his shoulder.
"Republic City has gotten a lot more interesting since the last time..."
Shen paced back and forth outside his mother's apartment while Rioku looked on. The two women had been talking for fifteen minutes, and the Airbender was beginning to get nervous.
"What, do you think they're going to fight or something?" Rioku asked.
"No," Shen shook his head. "But my mom is...forceful...at times. I'm not sure how she'll react if Moro tells her everything."
The door creaked open behind him, and Ula's voice met his ears. "Have a little faith, son. I'm not prone to rash action."
The young man whirled around, seeing, to his surprise, Moro smiling. The expression caused heat to rise to his cheeks. "R-right. So...what's next?"
The Councilwoman folded her arms. "I got a call from the port authority; an Equalist ship has docked. I'm assuming they're with you."
Rioku frowned. "They are. Is something wrong?"
She nodded. "Chief Kinzoku arrested them immediately, and they say that the Avatar is with them. We're needed down on the docks; perhaps we can sort this mess out."
"Have they been imprisoned yet?" Shen asked. "Where is Argho?"
Rioku scowled. "That's what we need to find out."
Shen, Rioku, and Moro followed Ula to the port where the Equalists had docked. The ship was surrounded by a platoon of Republic City police officers, Metalbender and nonbender alike, and they all stared at the vessel.
"Will someone tell me what's going on here?!" The Councilwoman cried. "Where is the Avatar?"
One of the officers walked over to them and bowed to the woman. "Councilor Ula...Chief Kinzoku went down into the ship to free the Avatar from the Equalists' trap."
Rioku let out a full belly laugh. "Are you serious?! Those Equalists are on our side!"
"Excuse me?" The officer raised an eyebrow. "Who are you?"
"The name's Rioku; I'm Argho's friend."
"And former apprentice." Moro added.
The Earthbender grimaced. "Yeah...we don't talk about that."
The Metalbender winced and glanced at Ula. "Ma'am?"
She nodded. "It is the truth. How long as the chief been down there?"
"About five minutes."
All heads turned to face the boat as a gust of wind shot the hatch covering straight into the air. Avatar Argho hovered out of the underbelly of the ship on a whirling tornado, Kinzoku's unconscious body hoisted over his shoulder.
His eyes glowed as his voice boomed across the port. "We have much to discuss, gentlemen. But first, I want my friends released."
As he landed on the ground, his eyes regained their brown color, and several rifles swung in his direction.
"That...was not intelligent." Argho frowned. "I suggest you put them down."
The Metalbender who had addressed Ula stepped toward the Avatar. "Don't listen, men! Take the Avatar into custody!"
He cracked his knuckles. "Weapons down, boys, or I will not be responsible for what comes next."
The Air Nation Councilor moved into the middle of the force without so much as a sound, light as the air itself. "Gentlemen, Avatar Argho is not the enemy; this has been a grievous misunderstanding."
Moro leaned toward Shen as rifles were lowered and tempers assuaged, if for the moment. "Is she always that commanding?"
The young man nodded, a reserved smile adorning his features. "Yes...and I can say that I actually missed seeing her like this."
- Yes, my faithful readers, everything is coming to a head. It seems Republic City just can't catch a break.
- The Shinigami was, at the time of my initial planning, the only spirit that had a lot of power, but as the story went on, about midway through Book 1, I had the idea of a council. After quite a bit of plot-altering and other such changes, the Spirit Council, as well as Koh's former involvement, was born.
- I don't know about you, but I like Chief Kinzoku already. :)
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