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|B2 Chapter Six: The Fists of The Avatar|
Nanaki and Yuhzu were just cleaning up the dinner plates when Akytreu and Yi sauntered in, hand in hand. Akytreu looked quite smug.
"How was your day?" Yuhzu asked, her right eyebrow going up when she saw the body language of the two.
"We got attacked by some Unbelievers," Yi said. She looked at Akytreu and giggled.
Nanaki almost dropped the dinner plates. "What? Are you guys okay?"
Akytreu grinned. "We had some help."
He and Yi stepped aside from the door frame, allowing first Kah-Pa and Tu'uri to enter, and then Guo.
"Hey," Yuhzu said, smirking and folding her arms. "Look who's here."
Nanaki was overjoyed to see them. She hugged Kah-Pa and Tu'uri tightly, then moved to hug Guo but seemed to think better of it. She bowed instead. Guo put on a smirk eerily similar to Yuhzu's and picked the Avatar up off of the floor completely, and hugged her tightly. Nanaki grinned and returned the hug.
"I'm so relieved you're all okay," Nanaki said after Guo set her back on her feet. Though her relief and pleasure was genuine and heartfelt, she wasn't looking at the adults as she spoke. She was looking past them, hopefully.
Guo and Kah-Pa exchanged an amused glance, and stepped aside. Tu'uri hugged Yuhzu and began speaking to her in soft tones.
Quietly, without pomp, Jinora came into the room. She bowed slightly and smiled.
"Hello Nanaki," she said. "I can't tell you how happy I am to see you."
Nanaki stared at the old woman for a moment, her lower lip trembling. Then, like a toddler that has finally been reunited with her mother after a day of separation, Nanaki burst into tears and went to Jinora with her arms open. Jinora caught her in a close hug, smiling and rubbing Nanaki's back as the Avatar sobbed.
Two hours later the adults, Akytreu, and Yi had finished a much needed dinner whilst the kids regaled them again, and this time with Nanaki's input, of everything they had gone through since their escape from Air Temple Island. The adults, in turn, explained how they had been rescued by the Republic City law enforcement and taken to hospital. Once checked out they had began their search for the children. Nanaki became very sober and thoughtful when she was told by Jinora how fretful her father had been and how eager to see her back home safely he had been.
The five had decided on the way to the temple not to tell Nanaki about the Fire Sage treachery, partly because they sim0ple didn't know who the traitor was but mostly because they didn't want to frighten the timid Avatar. They decided to stay on in the temple for a while, to give the Avatar time to train and so that they could quietly ferret out the traitor or traitors.
Yuhzu slung her purse over her shoulder and looked at her wrist watch.
"My cab'll be here soon," she said. "It's been great seeing everyone."
"You're leaving?" Nanaki squeaked.
Yuhzu nodded. "Yep. I have a club to run. I can't spend all my time hanging out with the Avatar, as awesome as that is."
Nanaki was on the verge of tears again. "But..." She couldn't formulate the rest of her thoughts. Yuhzu smiled and tucked the Avatar lightly on the chin.
"There's nothing more I can teach you, babe. Like I said, I'm not a master. But you've got the firebending basics down. The rest is up to you, now."
Nanaki, tears sliding down her cheeks, hugged the woman and kissed her cheek. "Thanks for everything you did."
The parting was a sad one, with everyone taking turns hugging Yuhzu. Before the woman could slip away, Jinora took her aside.
"Thank you, very much, for looking after the children, Yuhzu."
Yuhzu smiled. "Hey. It's family, right? When family needs you, you step up. I'm sorry I'm not able to stay longer. It'd be great spending some time with you, Aunt J."
Jinora hugged her, which was returned.
"I only wish your mother would take a lesson from you," Jinora said.
"Yuhzu shrugged. "You never know, maybe she might. Sometimes it takes a huge shake-up like this in the family to mend a rift. We'll see."
The entire crowd, Fire Sages included, escorted Yuhzu to the door of the temple. More hugs and kisses were exchanged, with promises to visit elicited from both sides. Then Yuhzu got into the cab, and was gone.
Nanaki, holding Jinora's hand, smiled as she watched the cab drive away.
"There goes my second hero," she said, and Jinora smiled.
For a man so large and so used to inspiring fear in others, Po was afraid. He didn't like it. Though there was a certain amount of pride in being declared Himaru's number three man and the compensation package was better than he could have ever imagined, living under a constant umbrella of intimidation made Po unhappy. Especially in situations such as the one he was in currently, enjoying breakfast in the office of the great man, with Chai sitting across from him.
So far, Himaru hadn't touched the light breakfast set in front of him. He was watching the television built into the wall intently, taking in every detail of the news story of the Avatar's presence in Crescent City and how two of her associates had been attacked by the Unbelievers.
"So the Avatar is hiding in the Fire Nation," Himaru said, musing. "This gives us an unprecedented opportunity."
Po immediately had questions. He glanced at Chai for direction on what to do. The beautiful woman shook her head almost imperceptibly, so Po stayed quiet and filled his mouth with soft-boiled chickenlamb egg instead.
Himaru continued speaking, his eyes staying on the television screen.
"The miscalculation I made was having the Avatar openly attacked. With both the assaults of Ba Sing Se and the Air Temple Island, public opinion has swayed in favor of the Avatar. What do you suppose would happen if public opinion turned against her?"
Po opened his mouth to answer. Chai gave him a swift, dangerous glance. Only then did Po understand that Himaru was speaking metaphorically; thinking out loud.
Himaru stood and walked across the room to the windows. He stood with his hands behind his back, gazing out at the magnificent splendor of Ba Sing Se.
"Miss Chai," he said.
Chai wiped her lips and scooted backwards from the table. She moved to Himaru's desk and picked up a notepad and a pen, then stood poised to write. As the older gentleman began to speak, she began to write.
"Ensure that the media is made well aware that the Avatar used bloodbending to down her foes in Crescent City. It's very important they understand that. Further, send a message through Mr. Po to those associates in Crescent City. Ensure that when they are asked about the incident whether by the media or by police interrogators they make it absolute clear that the person whom defeated them with bloodbending was the Avatar."
"But it wasn't," Po said abruptly. "My boys said it was some Water Tribe woman."
He regretted the words immediately, doubly so when Chai threw him a startled, wide-eyed glance. Himaru was silent for a moment, then turned around.
"Mister...Po," he said.
Po stood from the table and bowed.
"I'm very sorry, sir. It was rude of me to interrupt you and break your train of thought."
Himaru studied him for a moment, then bade him sit with a wave of his hand. Po sat.
"It's very rare, Mr. Po, that one of my employees has the nerve to speak out of turn." Himaru watched as Po bowed his head. "I find it refreshing."
It was difficult to say whom, between Po and Chai, was more surprised by this statement.
Himaru almost smiled. "I am well aware of whom exactly used such a vile means of bending to defeat our associates in Crescent City. However, the media there is not. If we wish to turn popular opinion against the Avatar it would behoove us to begin by accusing her of using an illegal and reviled method of bending, would it not?"
Po, recognizing the cue, admitted that why yes, it would be. Himaru regarded the big man with faintly concealed disdain from under his heavy eyelids. He turned back again to resume gazing out the window as Chai picked up the phone and began making phone calls in a feather soft voice.
"It's no longer necessary, Mr. Po, to execute the Avatar. We can keep her hidden and on the run, finding only enemies everywhere she seeks succor. She will be far to occupied to pose any sort of threat when we detonate the devices."
Po looked puzzled. He took advantage of the break in Hirmaru's speech. "My I ask a question?"
"By all means," Himaru said.
"What devices are we detonating?"
"An excellent question," Himaru said, the sneer in his voice beyond mistake. "I currently have some of my most brilliant employees engaged in making ten nuclear devices. While the Avatar is busy fleeing for her life, we will enter the Spirit World. We will place these devices in ten strategic locations. Once they are placed, they will be detonated with the result being that the Spirit World and its residents will no longer pose any manner of threat to human existence."
Po was silent, trying to soak this all in.
"Are there any further questions, Mr. Po?" Himaru said.
"Just one, sir. How do we start?"
Himaru's plan was simple, but in its simplicity lay the stroke of the man's genius. Po moved through the criminal underworld, recruiting men and women with reputations for violence and thuggery by promises of easy work at high pay. Once he had the required number, Po outfitted them in fine suits and dresses in Earth Kingdom colors, all of them identical. He then supplied them with small martial hammers, all of them likewise identical, to be used or merely displayed if the weapon's new owner didn't know how to use it. Once the new army was assembled Himaru, with Po as his intermediary, gave it a name: The Fists of the Avatar.
The second part of the plan required Po to instruct the Unbelievers where to protest. Once his unknowing Unbelievers were in place, Po then sent the Fists in. Violently. Everywhere Unbelievers appeared, the Fists of the Avatar appeared soon after and attacked. Massive fights erupted all over Ba Sing Se as Unbelievers and Fists, the latter shouting the glories of Nanaki Jintaro, waded in with fists, hammers, guns, and bending arts. Within two days, news outlets were spewing out stories about the Avatar's army at an alarming rate. By the end of the week, the Earth King officially declared the Avatar to be a threat to the safety of Ba Sing Se.
It was to the promise of a bright and sunny morning that self-same end of the week Nanaki awoke to. She felt safe, secure, and unbelievably happy. She slipped out from bed and without bothering to change out of the simple tee shirt she was wearing walked out onto the balcony to do some stretching exercises before going to the roof to train.
She happened to look down, and went cold inside. She stared in horror for a moment, then turned and ran into the temple shrieking Jinora's name.
The entire temple was surrounded by Fire Nation tanks.
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