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B2 Chapter Three: Maleficence
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The Earthbender Saga

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B2 Chapter Four: The Voice of Reason

Eight Days Ago

Battered and bruised, Po slowly swam back to consciousness. The first thing he was aware of was how his entire body ached. Something huge and heavy had plowed into him, and every gesture no matter how minute was a complaint. He sat up and realized that he was in the heart of an inferno and for a moment sheer panic gripped him like a living thing. He all but exploded to his feet, and in the next instant realized that he wasn't feeling any heat. The suit was doing it's job. He took a quick moment to get his bearings. Once he had assured himself that he was still mobile and not seriously injured, it occurred to him that his immediate danger wasn't the fire, but the structure of the building around him. Suit or not, he wouldn't survive of the walls and ceiling came down on top of him.

Instinctively lifting his arms in front of his face he charged forward into the flames and emerged out into the smoke strangled courtyard. Those few Unbelievers whom were still conscious saw him and began begging for help. Po ignored them. Even if he had wished to help them he couldn't, they were embedded in the ground. Tuning the Unbelievers out he looked down at the prone form of the old woman at his feet. For one long moment he contemplated lifting his foot and bringing it down, several times, on her skull. But she wasn't his target. More importantly, the air was swirling with the yells and calls of a large force moving up the hillside. Deciding that discretion was the better part of self-preservation Po spun on his heel and sprinted across the courtyard away from the advancing voices.

The Present

For the third time in ten minutes, Po adjusted his tie and straightened his lapels. He was beyond nervous. His huge frame would be trembling if he wasn't holding it so tightly in check. He surveyed himself in the full length mirror again and, over his shoulder, saw Chai watching him with mild disinterest.

"How do I look?" He asked her.

Chai regarded him with indifference. "Your appearance is the last thing you should be worried about."

He tightened his grimace and tried to distract himself by the view. He was standing in one of the uppermost offices of a high rise complex. Each of the walls has been replaced by clear glass, and everywhere one turned one was able to see Ba Sing Se spread out under the gaze.

Po started to speak again, but a sharp buzz in the air caused his throat to tighten. The pair were being informed that they were about to be visited, after a nearly hour long wait. Po stood and nervously adjusted his tie once more as Chai left the room.

Chai soon returned, opening both doors wide. She turned her profile to Po and bowed, speaking past the doors.

"Mr. Po, sir," she said. She then stepped aside. Po was astonished to see who then stepped into the room and he immediately bowed steeply from the waist--and stayed bowed.

Kachi Himaru was by all accounts the most powerful man in Ba Sing Se, if not the entire Earth Kingdom. His company, Himarutech, had started out twenty years ago providing televisions sets for the masses. Building on that fortune the company had expanded to include all manner of technology for home use, and after that had secured contracts to supply the military with arms and armaments for the Earth Kingdom. Only three years ago Himarutech had acquired defense contracts for the Fire Nation. The man himself, elegant and refined with a full head of silver hair and a bearing of perfect etiquette was a pillar of society, an embodiment of altruism whom had publicly ensured that he would provide only the best for humanity.

"Do you know who I am?" Himaru asked as he took a seat at the head of the table. Po, still bowing, stammered that he did.

"I regret that I must admit I am severely disappointed in your performance, Mr. Po. I provide you personnel, technology, and weapons to perform a small task and yet here you are with the task woefully incomplete. The men I sent with you, some of the finest in my employ, will soon be tried for murder. My suits and rifles are being investigated by the Dai Li. You have no idea how difficult it was to ensure that the government would not be able to trace anything back to my company and how much of my finances have been expunged in ensuring my operatives' silences. Please do them, and myself, a kindness and explain your failure."

"T-the Avatar," Po stammered, and Himaru swiftly cut him off.

"Is a fifteen year old girl who likely has not even had her first kiss yet," Himaru said, his voice still calm and silken. "When I selected you to lead my task force it was with the understand that you, one of the finest individuals operating in the criminal underworld, would not find such a task daunting. I rarely miscalculate, Mr. Po. But I fear that with you, I have done exactly that."

Po stammered again. "I don't know what to say, sir."

"I do," Himaru said. "You underestimated. Had you been diligent, as my assistant Miss Chai has been, you would have known that Nanaki Jintaro began earthbending at the age of three and had been recognized as a master at the age of seven. You further would have understood that the elderly lady whom took the Avatar under her wing is Jinora, the grand-daughter of Avatar Aang and the self same Jinora whom assisted Avatar Korra in defeating the Dark Avatar."

Po jolted visibly. All of this information was brand new to him.

"Further," Himaru's cobra voice went on, "you would know that the man with Jinora is the master earthbender Guo, the son of Bolin whom-I'm sure you learned in school if you paid attention-was also instrumental in assisting the Avatar in defeating the Dark Avatar. The mistake you made, Mr. Po, is one of simple and avoidable ignorance. I think we both now have an understanding that such ignorance will not be tolerated further."

"Y-yes sir," Po said.

Himaru smiled. Lacing his fingers together. "Good. And please do stand up straight. Your back must be straining by now. Lets put things into perspective. Beyond me you see our great city, the greatest city in the world. Ba Sing Se. What would you say is the greatest threat to our city, Mr. Po?"

Po straightened, and looked out over the city behind the older man. He had no idea what Himaru was talking about but made his best guess any way.

"The Avatar?"

Himaru smiled, but there was no humor in it. "The Avatar is merely a by-product. I speak of the spirits, Mr. Po. As human culture and society had advanced, the residents of the Spirit World become increasingly aggressive and venomous. This is because they understand the inherent superiority of humankind. We are a threat to the dominion they have long held over us. The more we continue to advance, the most aggressive they will become until at last war becomes inevitable. I would avoid this war, and this is why it behooves you to execute the Avatar."

Po was incredibly confused, and was ashamed of himself for it. "May I ask a question?"

"By all means."

Po frowned. "So..we have to kill the Avatar because if we don't she's going to lead a spirit army against us?"

Himaru stared at him for such a long time that Po began to fidget, and feel very stupid. Finally the old man smiled.

"I can see you are a simple man so I will explain it in simple terms. The Avatar must be eliminated because she alone has the potential to stand in my way when I destroy the Spirit World."

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