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Air. Water. Earth. Fire.
After a long, fulfilled and yet exhausting life, Avatar Korra passed, being succeeded by Sari of the Earth Kingdom, who died early and didn't play a role in history.
The current Avatar is Asura of the Fire Nation, who mastered the elements quickly.
Although she thought she would never play an important role in history, she was proven wrong when the black ships arrived. The first one came in peace, but all the following carried a deadly load: WAR.
A war even the Avatar and her allies can barely end, one that threatens to consume the worlds involved.
And the question everyone asks is: Will there still be a world, a mankind to save?
Previously in Avatar: The War of the Worlds
The Team travels to the Solar System, and, by accident, has to force its way through the loose blockade, before the Valkyrie almost gets shot down, but Mike manages to repair the damage done in time, so they can continue their journey to Europe.
A country called Czechia
The Valkyrie flew through the dark cloud, lightnings crackling through the clouds all around them. One could've easily mistaken the scenery for a flight through hyperspace, but it only was one through a thunderstorm over Central Europe. The small spacecraft had been pursued by three others before, but they all had turned around when they noticed where the Valkyrie was headed. They slowly descended now, and slowly, though only through heavy snowfall, the ground became visible. Beneath them was a minor town, its historical centre being surrounded by three big ponds and containing a castle, its houses arranged around a main square in the shape of a triangle. The houses seemed to be old, or so indicated their facade, and no one seemed to have the urge of going out into a winter thunderstorm, as all the streets were empty, as was the main square. The Valkyrie flew over the cobbled area without being noticed, and that gave the Team's members time to admire the fact that this was actually another planet than the one they had grown up on. The architecture seemed a bit odd to them, but this was a different culture also.
"That's the city of Telč, municipality of Telč, district of Jihlava, canton of Visočina, province of Moravia-Silesia, federal state of Czechia. Lads, I'm home... ", Mike explained as he landed the Valkyrie in a courtyard in the castle, which Asura met with a bitter remark. "If mum and dad could see this... "
Mike took all of his belongings, the rest of the Team imitating his gesture and walking into the back, to the ramp. As it opened, Malu cheerfully said, "Oh I can't wait to take my first steps on another planet!", but her overenthusiasm was crushed when they could hear a bolt-action rifle being reloaded. Up on what might have once been a parapet walk, an elder man stood, aiming a hunting rifle and wearing a suit with a red waistcoat visible beneath and his hair having assumed a dark grey colour from age - he was a butler.
"State name, rank and intention!", he cried out with a slight accent. Mike looked up and into the man's face, answering, "Michael Přemysl, Grand Admiral of Europe, coming home, how 'bout that, Johann?"
The butler lowered the rifle he had been aiming and answered his master, "Well, master Michael, it's- "
"Don't call me master... "
" -it's been far too long Mike, eh?"
"Indeed... Shall we go inside?"
"You haven't introduced the other five beside you... "
"Alright, Asura, Zolu, Malu, Luo and Kiruya, this is my butler, well more like an uncle to me, but anyway, Johann. Johann, these are my Avataran companions Asura, Zolu, Malu, Luo and Kiruya. Welcome to my home... I promise that, onwards, I will never ever put any of you in danger again.... Never ever again."
The Team went inside afterwards, settling themselves in. It was time to prepare for something big.
Mike laid under his beloved spaceship with a few tools and material ready to repair some damage done to it in their foolish actions the day before. It was their second day in Telč, and all of them had indeed settled themselves in the vast castle the small city offered. Mike hummed the melody of an old song as he could hear footsteps, approaching. When said person cleared their throat, Mike was drawn back into reality.
"We will, we will rock- Uh, yes?", he asked as he shoved himself out from beneath the spaceship, catching sight of a troubled Zolu immediately.
"So, uh, Mike, er, I wondered if you could help me in a certain way... ", Zolu stuttered, little clouds escaping his mouth as he spoke.
"Well... ", Mike cleaned his hands in nearby snow, "...in what way?"
"It's just... it's... because... my parents. I can't get over it, I- "
"Find someone to talk about it, someone who will listen and who can help you, that'd not be me... You'll find that particular someone... "
Zolu obviously wasn't sure, but Mike smiled reassuringly as he dried his hands on his trousers, and laid his hand on Zolu's shoulder, saying, "Go. You've got time till dinner. I believe that your 'someone' is amongst us... "
As Zolu walked away from the Grand Admiral, something urgent he had to tell Mike came to his mind. "Oh, and the reason I really came here... Asura hasn't eaten or drunk since we've left the Southern Water Tribe, and has locked herself up in her own room... Just for you to know. If you can do anything about it- "
"I'm on my way!", Mike shouted as he took off through the same heavy, wooden door Zolu had come out, and stormed off to Asura's room.
Zolu sat in the corridor, his head between his hands in desperation. Who in Koh's realm should I talk to?, he thought to himself. Who? As if to answer his question, a robed figure came from the right up the corridor, asking, "What's wrong?"
It was Malu. Zolu looked into her grey eyes which were filled with concern, and answered, his head hanging even lower than before, "Basically everything."
"No really, what is it?"
Zolu paused for a minute and sighed. "I can't get over it."
Malu seemed to understand what he meant, and suggested, "How about we talk about it?"
She gestured him to follow her into her room, and he followed. Seating himself on a chair across her bed, on which she sat herself, he began to protest. "No, wait, I don't think this is- "
"...a good idea? But it is."
Once again, Zolu sighed heavily and looked into Malu's kind eyes. He managed a smile before she began.
"So... What do you remember of your parents?"
Zolu looked into her eyes, still unsure what to do, and then started after she had laid a hand on his shoulder.
"There was this one time when we took a trip to the Capital. We went there by train. Dad had taken the week off - as a Commander! - to get us there. It was our first time there. We arrived in the Harbour City, and then made our way to the great Royal Plaza... I don't see how this helps in any way!"
Malu now was the disappointed one. Sighing, she spoke. "Listen, Zolu, if I was Kiruya, I would try to distract you from the problem at hand and then somehow eliminate it, but I'm not, and this is life. And life is unpleasant, as the loss of your parents shows all too well. Zolu, just try to collaborate."
A brief moment of utter silence followed before she spoke up again. "Just tell me how you felt. Let your grief out, let your anger out. Let. It. Out."
Zolu shook his head and stood up. "This won't do me any fuckin' good!" He drew his ancient sword and wanted to cut the heavy wooden door out of his way, but Malu blew him into the wall with an air swipe. He laid there, rubbing his head and glaring at the airbender. She wore a worried expression. "You piled everything up, deep inside you, like a river, and the dam could break anytime now. Zolu, let it out, but not like this! This way, you could harm anyone near you, no matter if friend or enemy, if loved one or foe. Please, for your own sake, let me help you!"
Zolu wanted to stand up and swing his blade after her, but then dropped on the floor again, and said, "Emptiness. Nothingness. And as if an arm or leg had been bunked. That's what I felt when it happened. Anger at Olizon, and this seemingly ever-lasting agony. And grief. They never would be there for me when I needed them. I know, I'm twenty-seven years old, I ought to be independent, but there's no one in life like parents. No one comparable. And with them gone, it felt as if my heart had frozen and shattered into a thousand pieces, and again and again... "
He had sat up by now and Malu went over to him and embraced him. A few tears rolled down his cheeks, and dripped on Malu's robes. She just pulled him tighter until he realised something. Your parents leave a gaping hole behind. It only can be filled in one way., he thought, I think I found that way...
A few minutes had passed before Malu released Zolu from her tight grip, and stood up. Zolu too rose, and blushed, unusual for a man of his age. "I've meant to tell you this long ago, before the War started, but then, things got in the way... ", he stuttered, "...and I would've almost forgotten. But now you reminded me of it, the time seems right that I finally say it. Malu, daughter of General Lobsang and Councilwoman Sakya, I lo... "
Although he didn't manage to say the last few words, there was no need to. Malu smiled, and walked back to him, and embraced him, and replied in similar words, but these were never to be heard as the two leaned in for a kiss.
Asura trembled all the time. She was trying to meditate to get over her parents' death, and Mike's ceaseless knocking on the door did little to help her. "Open the door!", she could hear him scream, and she refused to do it, whether the business was. "Johann is gonna hate me for this... " It was a mere whisper, but then, a loud crack followed and the door was kicked open. Asura shot the intruder a murderous glare as he went to seat himself in front of her. "Listen, I know what you must be going through, just let me help you, please."
"You don't know anything.", she hissed, her voice rasping. Mike's expression was softened but serious, something rarely seen between the cold hearted face of a killer he wore in battle and the careless one on all other occasions. She could only wonder what that could mean.
"I know the pain you have to endure very well, Asura, I know what I'm talking about. I myself lost my parents when I was nine."
There was a pregnant moment of silence between the two, and Mike began retelling the story, reliving the night that had changed his life. Forever.
"Master Karel, I too believe that Michael has to go to bed earlier, but he insists on it. Oh, and Mistress Julia, you look gorgeous in your gala uniform!", the back then black haired butler of the Přemysl family commented on his employer's request.
"Well then, just see it through that he doesn't stay awake for too long afterwards, alright?", the suited man said. His dark brown hair was messy as always, and his chin freshly shaven - the typical appearance of the European War minister. His wife, the Marshal of Central Europe, smiled at Johann's compliment, adjusting a medal on the chest part of her olive uniform, her long raven hair falling there repeatedly. A young boy of the age of nine years stepped into the corridor they were preparing themselves in, only wearing his pyjamas.
"Mike, be sure to be in bed when we come back. Our meeting will take half of the night, so we'll know if you stayed up too long!", the boy's mother lovingly smiled as the father went through the documents in his suitcase. Noticing a few sheets of paper containing military intelligence missing, he looked around frantically, before Johann handed him said sheets, given to him from Mike. The boy smiled, and his father changed from a frown to a smile as well shortly thereafter. After all, he was just nine.
"So what will the meeting be about again?" Mike's eyes radiated with curiosity.
"That's nothing someone your age should be concerned about.", his father, Karel, answered, struggling to put on his shoes. "But then again, you already know about the Holocaust... It's something concerning President Johnston's rule in the USA."
Mike understood that any further explanation would destroy the meeting's secrecy, and so he kept quiet. His mother still was smiling as she considered taking her revolver, a Webley Mk. VI from the Second World War, but then decided against it. She laid the handgun back into a wall safe behind a painting of some medieval ruler. As both his parents were ready, they waved farewell as they walked out into the cold of winter. It was the first of December, and snow fell heavily. The next thing he could hear was his parents' car's engine roaring up as it sped through the wooden gate out onto the main square, headed for Europe's military headquarters, Prague.
The phone rang at half past twelve a.m., and with Mike already sleeping, Johann took it as his duty to pick it up.
"Hello, Přemysl Estate, Johann speaking."
"Oh, hey there Johann. Is Mike in bed?", Karel's voice could be heard.
"Of course he is!"
"Good. Then we'll be home in half an- "
The War minister never finished the sentence, as first an explosion followed by contact noise was transmitted. Johann's eyes widened at the sole thought, and soon enough, before he hung up again, an ambulance could be heard driving.
The married couple, both in some way military officers, drove over the highway south-east, to the small city they had chosen to live in. The fuel gauge's index was moving closer to the "empty" label, and so, the two decided to stop by the nearest petrol station.
"We stopped here before, it's just half an hour away from Telč.", Karel stated as they drove to the structure at a village's outskirts, before both got out and started refilling their car's tank.
I still don't quite believe that we've got the Parliament's approval for an invasion of the USA, I mean- ", Julia whispered to her husband, who had cut her off mid-sentence. "-they're a dictatorship. After a second mock-up election to get to rule for a third term and with the increased use of swastika flags all over the 'states, that's what we ought think. It's better that way."
Julia decided to watch it while refilling while her husband walked off to call Johann. This was when she, seemingly the only one to notice it, could hear a crackling noise, as of fire. Out of the dark cold, a blue fireball shot and hit one of the fuel dispensers, setting it aflame before it exploded, the other three ones following quickly thereafter. Fire engulfed her as she tried to get out of it, and scorched, even burnt her. But of much greater effect was the missing oxygen. She passed out, early enough to still get burned severely, but still too late for the arriving ambulance and firefighters not to notice.
Johann had awoken him at six o'clock and had, without breakfast, driven him to the hospital. He entered the room he had been assigned to. Inside, two severely burnt persons laid, their belongings laying beside their respective beds. An olive uniform bearing a certain medal, the Victoria Cross, made it clear to him who the two were. He walked in, a surgeon standing between the two beds, writing something down. At the sound of footsteps, he turned around only to see a shocked, sleepy boy.
"Ah, you must be our little Přemysl then... I'm really sorry for you, we did everything we could, but it only worsened their situation... I'll leave you alone, if that's alright."
Mike nodded and took a step forward so he could clench his parents' hands. The two were scarred far more than any other before, their skin only a mere crust of black and red material. He looked up, into their eyes. Both smiled reassuringly, as far as that was possible, as if to say, "It's going to be alright."
But as soon as they had finished that, neither he nor the instruments could pick up any pulse. He dropped their hands and he himself dropped on the floor, weeping.
Mike had finished the story as far as he knew it, a single tear running down his right cheek. He rose his hand, but it wasn't the one that dried it. He looked at Asura, her face sad, feeling pity for him.
"I too holed myself up in my room for days afterwards, and a friend of mine helped me. His name was Jan, I think, Jan Svoboda. His older sister then took care of me like a mother. She vanished at my sixteenth birthday. But what counts is that this experience had driven me into the military. It was obvious that Johnston had sent someone to assassinate them, and I wanted revenge. It showed me how life is - since then, I have this cold-hearted side... It shaped me, and I know how to help other people in such a situation. It worked with me, and it worked with Anna as well... "
The room fell silent before Mike decided to talk again. "Your parents' death leaves a huge gaping hole behind, one that can only be filled in a very certain way... But we try to fill it with grief and anger, but we never can get enough of them. The key to getting over it is to accept it. You seem to have done this already. The key to it is to get over it and to let your feelings out. Don't hold them back - it's like a volcano otherwise, dormant for a long time, but when it erupts... Don't hold your emotions, or an eruption could result in the destruction of whole cities - I mean, you're the Avatar. So just let it all out."
Asura began to sob and embraced Mike to sob into his shoulder, muttering unintelligible things. She pressed harder to be closer to him and more tears rolled down her cheeks before it slowly ceased. The tears became lesser and lesser until it broke out again. Embracing him even closer, he remembered her of her father, but she quickly put these thoughts aside. He was more than that. I think I found my compensation for the hole...
"I'll never let anything harm you, not ever. I promise.", he whispered, only comforting her more. As the two broke the embrace, the two locked their eyes and Asura leaned in to kiss him. He did nothing against that, and pulled her even closer in the process. After the two had released each other from their embraces, Asura whispered a relatively silent "Thank you", before continuing aloud, "I think dinner's ready."
Mike shook his head as she rushed through the house, only following her.
The Team sat gathered around the dining table in their second month in Telč as Mike stood up and all attention was directed to him. "Lads, when we arrived here, I promised to never ever put any of you in danger again. I must say today, that I am going to break this promise. Tomorrow, we will travel to Berlin, the capital of Germany, where the Nazis became an international power, centuries ago. And we will liberate it, and following this, all of Europe."
Notes and Trivia
- Telč is a real city in southern Moravia, where my maternal grandparents are from.
- The chapter's title is based on the German title of the The Southern Raiders episode, which, in German, is named Schatten der Vergangenheit (Shadows of the Past)
- The mysterious blue fireball's origin will be explained in a planned sequel to A:TWotW.
For the collective works of the author, go here.