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December 5, 2016
After an attack from Ba Sing Se on Yunait, Sao revealed his earthbending to his mother and aunt. As he battled, Kioku, Keya, and Zhane joined him. When Sao was taken out, and they were moments from death, Kioku went into the Avatar State, signalling to the world the Avatar was back. But Kioku hasn't woken up since...
Chapter Three: Avatar Sankasuru
"Kioku, Kioku, Wake up!" a male voice urged. Kioku's eyes shot open, and was face to face with a wild looking man. The man had unruly red hair that stuck all over the place. His eyes were bronze and determined. He wore robes that were made of blue and red cloth.
"Sankasuru," Kioku said, not sure how he knew the man's name. "You're the Avatar."
"Was," Sankasuru said. "I was the Avatar. Now you are."
"Where am I?" Kioku asked, looking around. He seemed to be in some sort of forest, with soft yellow light streaming down from above.
"Your deepest Avatar memories," Sankasuru said. "But now it is time to look at your own memories. Come with me."
Sankasuru helped Kioku up, and brought him to a thicket of bamboo. Sankasuru brushed it aside, and stepped in. Kioku followed him, and slipped between the bamboo rods. He looked around, and was on the side of a cliff, far away from any sort of forest. He looked up, and saw a huge temple with spires and towers, balanced on a thin mountain.
"The Northern Air Temple," Kioku said. Sankasuru nodded. "I've always wanted to go there."
"You have," Sankasuru said. He turned to Kioku, and whispered. "You were born there."
"Is he dead?" Sao asked, poking Kioku's limp body. It was still dark, and it had been about an hour since Kioku had gone into the Avatar State. They had brought him to a stream, where Keya was healing him. She made the water glow, passing it over his body repeatedly. She had already healed Sao's head. Zhane's fire lit up their camp area.
"Once he wakes up, if he wakes up, what do we do?" Sao asked. He was answered with silence.
"Thanks for you input," Sao commented.
"I was born here? I thought I was an orphan," Kioku said in disbelief.
"You were born to two airbenders, your father from the Southern Air Temple and your mother from the Eastern Air Temple," Sankasuru told Kioku. "When you were a baby, you were brought to the Northern Air Temple to live with the monks. When you were three, they gave you thousands of toys to choose from, and you chose-"
"The Avatar relics," Kioku completed. "That's how they knew I was the Avatar."
"Yes, but it wasn't long before..."
"Before you were taken."
"My head still hurts. Keya, can you hurry up with the Avatar and heal me?" Sao complained, holding his head. Keya rolled her eyes.
"Sao, you're fine."
"Apparently he's not fine either," Soa mumbling, gesturing to Kioku.
Sankasuru pointed down the cliff, to where a small child was being pulled along by a greasy man. The child was crying, but the man didn't seem to hear.
"Chu," Kioku said, his voice cracking. "He took me from my home... but I thought I always lived with him."
"That's the thing. Chu was a merchant who got wind that you were the Avatar. So, one night he came and... they never saw you go," Sankasuru said. "Chu was never a bender, but he had other abilities. Brainwashing."
Kioku's face turned white. His eyes began to wet, and he stepped backwards. "No.... no....."
"Kioku, wait, don't-"
"No.... NOOOOO!!!" Kioku screamed, his eyes glowing. His hands lashed out, sending slices of wind scattering the clouds below. The Air Temple and Sankasuru melted away, and all the remains of his visions turned to Chu.
Suddenly, the water Kioku was in surged up, scaring Keya. She jumped back, as Kioku bent the water in all directions, followed by a huge gust of air that sent the three benders tumbling. Sao threw up an earth barrier for them to hide behind. Kioku cried out, in a terrible furious scream that sounded like a thousand different voices crying out at once.
Sao risked a glance around to Kioku and saw him rise up on a pillar of air, his eyes ablaze with white light. Kioku face was contorted into a raging roar. The Avatar blasted away, off to seek vengeance.
"Well, that's just great. We find the Avatar and he explodes," Sao said. Keya glared at Sao.
"We found him, so he's our responsibility," Keya argued. She began to run off along the path of destruction Kioku had left. Sao got up after her and grabbed her arm.
"Wait, since when has he been our responsibility?" Sao argued, pointing off in the distance at Kioku's path. "We only met him a few hours ago."
"He saved our lives, we owe him," Keya urged, shrugging off Sao's hand. Sao thrust his arms up, and a wall of earth blocked Keya's path.
"Stop. Keya, there's nothing we can do," Sao said. Keya looked back a Sao, defiant. She opened her waterskin, and whipped her hands. In a moment, Sao's feet were frozen to the ground and Keya was gone.
Kioku blasted in on Chu's camp. Everyone, his old friends shrieked in fear. The only family he had ever known. Until now.
He'd had a family. He'd lived in an Air Temple with airbenders. They were going to make him the Avatar. They were going to protect him.
Chu had ruined all of that. Now, Chu would pay.
"Sao! Hurry up," Zhane complained. Sao was lagging behind as the raced off after Keya. It had taken a while to get Sao's feet unfrozen, and by they time they were free Keya had reached the river. Once she reached the river, there would be no stopping her.
"Slow down. You're going to ruin my plan," Sao argued. Zhane slowed down, confused.
"How does slowing down help us?" Zhane demanded.
"The river goes out for a while, and then sharply bends back in, then back out off the plateau. We can intercept Keya where it bends in. If we get there to early, she'll see us and figure out how to get around us. If we're too late..."
Kioku ignored the thousands of voices telling him not to do it. "Violence isn't the path of the Avatar!" or "You must show mercy!" they cried. On the other hand, a thousand other voices screamed "Kill him!" "Righting wrongs is the duty of the Avatar!"
Kioku decided to right the wrong. His pillar of air blew away the camp, except for one man. Kioku's palms reached out, and water from a nearby stream flowed up to meet them. They froze into two deadly daggers on contact. Chu looked at Kioku for the very last time.
Sao and Zhane reached the edge of the river, on the outskirts of the town. Sao began to do bending poses that Zhane wasn't sure were doing anything.
"Are you doing something?" Zhane asked. "It doesn't look like it."
"I'm loosening the rocks on the riverbed. I'm going to bend up a wall to stop her," Sao said. Zhane looked off in the direction of the river Keya would be zipping down any minute. Zhane had known Keya for a long time, and probably knew her better than her twin brother even did. All those training sessions Sao had never been to, Zhane had learned all about Keya's character. And this was way out of character for her.
Finally, he saw Keya and a mane of water propelling her down the river. Sao waited, and waited. Zhane grew impatient. Keya was about to pass them in a second.
"Sao! Stop waiting! Do something!" Zhane urged. Sao chuckled.
"I'm earthbending. Not firebending. In earthbending you wait..." Sao said, just as Keya began to come near them. He thrust his arms upward, and a wall of earth came up out of the river. Keya reacted quickly, and launched herself over the wall and continued down the river.
"Uh... and strike I guess," Sao said, defeated. "I guess we just go to plan B. Find Keya when she finds the Avatar."
When Keya did find the Avatar, the camp was gone. All the tents had been torn up and blown away. The fire pit was now a black smudge. And a large, dead form lay under a tarp.
Keya found him at the edge of the plateau, crying. "Kioku."
Kioku didn't answer. Keya didn't need one. She could see the body.
"KEYA!" Sao yelled when he found her. Of all the reckless and stupid things she had done... which weren't very many... this one had to be the worst. He had a whole speech he was about to give to her, but then he saw Kioku. He looked awkwardly at the limp form of Chu under the tarp, then Keya.
Sao didn't need an answer. After a while Kioku stood up. He turned to face Keya, and hugged her.
"I'm so sorry. I can't believe what came over me... I-"
"It's okay," she said, even though she hardly believed what she was saying. Kioku then turned to Sao and Zhane.
"Sao, I'm sorry for how we met, but I hope there's no hard feelings," Kioku said. Sao fumed.
"Oh, you hope there's no hard feelings? No hard-"
Zhane stopped him. Sao composed himself. "I'll work on forgiving you."
"I know I'm the Avatar now, and I think I know what that means I have to do. I've mastered air and water, but I need a master to teach me earth," Kioku said, pointing to Sao.
"Wait. wait wait wait wait," Sao said. "I'm not teaching you earth. I may be a master, but I can't teach someone like you."
"No. My answer is no," Sao said coldly. "C'mon, Keya, Zhane, let's go."
Zhane turned to leave with Sao, but Keya didn't move. She stood her ground with her arms crossed. She didn't follow Sao.
"Keya! Why are you waiting?" Sao called. Keya turned to him. Twin sister faced twin brother.
"Sao, I know I've tried to hide your bending your whole life, thinking it would be the best for you. Mostly for Mom. I admit maybe it wasn't the best idea. I thought that if you never told them you'd never learn earthbending. But you did and you somehow became a master of your element before I did in mine," Keya said. "Kioku has done some horrible things. But he still is the Avatar. The world needs him. He needs you."
Sao looked at Kioku, then back at Keya. She whispered to him.
"You can chuck rocks at him."
Sao laughed, thinking of how fun it would be to throw rocks around at Kioku. "Alright. I'll do it."
Kioku smiled and bowed to Sao. "Thank you, Master."
Sao grinned. "I could get used to you calling me Master. And throwing rocks at you."
"Uh, guys, I hate to break this up, but I see the Yunait police coming towards this area. They're not gonna like this," Zhane warned. The group scrambled away, and Sao got them down the edge of the plateau. Sao, Zhane and Keya looked back at their home.
"Goodbye, Yunait. We'll be back," Sao said, then turned to leave. The sun rose, on the first day since the Avatar had returned.
"Arank, there are reports the Avatar has been identified," a guard said, informing his cloaked master. The master turned to him, a large medallion catching the rising rays of light.
"Well... we should get started," the master said, grinning.
For the collective works of the author, go here.