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|The Ride of the Valkyrie|
3: Turned Tides
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 end the worlds involved.
Now, more than ever, ending the war is urgent, for that for both sides it is either victory or death, for that this war could be the end of all of mankind.
Previously in Avatar: The War of the Worlds
Zolu, Malu, Luo and Kiruya steal a fighter-bomber of the Reich and intend to aid the newly-arrived European Space Fleet with it. Anna and Olaf prepare to engage the League's forces in battle, intending to strike the Germania first, but the Bismarck rushes in front of her sister ship to protect it.
Mike feels the consequences of his foolish decision of encountering Olizon and Johnston alone, as he, in the end, is too exhausted to even stand. But then, he finds enough strength to walk to the Valkyrie and to fly off to aid Asura.
Jan's invasion's advance almost stops, before a brief joint air and naval artillery strike make advancing into Washington D.C. possible. There, Jan notices the hoisting of the Nazi Victory Flag, which makes him decide to take it down to severe the enemy morale.
Asura, at last, encounters the dictatorial brothers, and almost dies in the process, before she herself almost puts an end to Johnston's life, but hesitates.
The Battle of Huston
"Dammit! What's taking this fucking weapon so long to charge?!"
The commander's shout sounded through the bridge, through whose windows he observed both, the ship and the battle on the outside. He got a short glance of the only ship - a fighter bomber - which encountered the mighty Bismarck.
"Not that it'd matter. Encountering such... futile resistance, it's only a matter of time until the Endsieg is ours!"
"Uh, Malu? What exactly are you doing?" Zolu's voice and face both were worried, as she piloted their captured spacecraft directly towards a column of enemy equivalents. The Air Nomad dismissed his question, and kept clinging the steering stick close to herself. On the stick's two handles' top, there were two buttons, which she decided to press, once she had taken aim on the enemy. A short fizzling, before two missiles shot towards the first enemy fighter, in complete silence. Upon contact, they detonated, the enemy fighter-bomber following immediately afterwards, before another enemy opened fire on them. Malu drove their own ship below, only to rotate, and follow the enemy fighter squadron. Having positioned herself directly behind them, she opened fire with the ship's four forty-millimetre autocannons, and struck the sternmost of them in the propulsion, which resulted in a bluish-white, quickly expanding fireball. Having no time to evade it, Malu flew right through it, and opened fire yet again, only that this time, she didn't strike the propulsion, this time, she struck the pilot. To avoid collision with the wreck, she quickly pulled her fighter upwards, just before turning it sideward, only to fire missiles on the last remaining enemy fighter-bomber, which then followed the previous examples, and exploded alike the missiles' warheads.
"Uh, Malu? What exactly WERE you doing?" asked Zolu again, this time amazed. The pilot just shrugged, and then narrowed her eyes at the sight of the ship they ought to sink.
"Now let's get down to business... ," she spoke before accelerating immensely. Around, shells from AA-gunnery exploded, and plasma beams shot at the League's forces, only to be answered with high-velocity armour-piercing projectiles. Yet, all was silent, or rather, all was silent until an AA-shell hit the fighter's left wing.
The Red October fired another broadside, with, once again, little effect. The Garibaldi, the Gustav Adolf, and the Napoleon did just as well, but for every ship they sunk, two other of the League's stepped in and continued the fight. The Nemesis was quite disabled at the moment, just as the Germania, both for almost the same reason.
"Can't this lousy Tesla Gun charge just a little faster?" Anna frowned as she observed the battle. Olaf, as most of the time, had a rather obvious answer, "Well, the reactor- "
Anna was as desperate just as she was impatient - she clung to the bridge's railing, and bit her lower lip, but she let go of the former and refrained from doing the latter when she got an idea. "Remember how Mike almost got himself killed?"
"Which time?" asked Olaf, surprised by the sudden change in mood and topic.
"Almost every time. He dove himself into battle with his... FIGHTER-BOMBER!"
"So?" Olaf either hadn't listened, or didn't believe in Anna's plan.
Anna shook her head in disappointment, and walked over to communications, where she ordered, "Attention all captains! Regardless of prior orders, release all fighter, bomber and fighter-bomber spacecraft for support immediately. Admiral Visconti over."
Then, squadron after squadron poured on the battlefield, and hurried towards the League's ships which were hurrying to aid the Germania, one by one being destroyed or severely damaged.
"See? That's what I meant!"
Malu's initial shock had long transformed into anger. She now was piloting her ship direclty at the Bismarck, constantly being fired at, but avoiding and evading most of the projectiles like only an airbender could.
"Where do you think the reactor is?" she turned to Zolu briefly, before focusing on the flight again.
"The what?" was the Captain's puzzled answer.
"The reactor. Somewhere, the ship has to get all the electricity from, and that's a reactor, which, if damaged sufficiently, blows up. So, where do you think it is?"
"Uh... " Zolu had indeed no idea. He shrugged, and would've questioned Malu's motives once again, but then Kiruya gave the answer. "Just above the hangar and below the bridge! Default in every human warship."
Malu smirked briefly, and then aimed at the hangar, which was wide open. Without considering the consequences, she pulled the triggers and pushed the buttons on the steering stick. A pair of missiles emerged, and hit the wall inside the hangar, which then was torn apart. Then, the shells began raining down on the hangar, and, joined by the missiles, worked their way through layers of steel and cables, until, after having fired ten of them, she was out of missiles. Then, after about half a minute of continuous fire, she was forced to realise that shells too were limited. Her anger turned into desperation, and she looked up, as if to await some kind of rescue, only noticing several other fighters drawing the AA-gunnery's fire, before looking forward again with a grim expression, seeing no other alternative than sacrificing herself, and thus, she accelerated. That was, when Luo launched his last-minute plan. He opened fire with his twin-barrelled 12.7 millimetre machine gun, aiming on the exact same spot Malu had before. When the fighter passed the hangar gates, the continuous fire had taken its toll on the fusion reactor beyond the wall. One single bullet was enough to make the frail balance inside the reactor topple, and in a split-second, the propulsion joined the reactor. The result was an extremely hot, bright and expanding fireball that tore the Bismarck apart. But for Malu, it was too late to get out of it. Instead, when she faced it, she accelerated even more than before. All were shielding their eyes from the light, as the temperature rose within the ship.
"You sure are one of a kind! Sorta a renegade, eh?" Zolu remarked at her actions, taking a short look at her, as she stared into the fireball, determined to get out.
"A renegade Air Nomad..." she mumbled, stating, "I think I'll name the ship Renegade... "
Kiruya then decided to, too, take a look at her long-time friend, and noticed something slowly running down the cockpit's glass cover, just before the newly named ship, the Renegade, left the fireball again. "Uh, Malu? What's that stuff flowing down the glass?"
"Oh, that? Just molten glass."
The others looked at Malu, Luo stating what all were thinking, "You sure are some kind of crazy... "
The Air Nomad had decided to ignore them, as before them now laid the Germania herself, the ship all of the Galaxy would come to fear - that, if Johnston's plan would work. The others too returned to their serious attitudes, just before they were radioed, "Lads, it's Admiral Anna Visconti speaking. Get the heck out of there. Immediately."
"Ma'am! The Tesla Gun is ready!" one of the officers yelled across the bridge.
"At last! Prepare to witness the first use of the greatest weapon of mass destruction mankind has ever seen - er, built itself - er... You know what I mean," Anna spoke a bit stuttering, "Dammit, fire the bloody thing!"
"As you command!" Olaf spoke seriously, and walked over to the section of officers being responsible for the weapon. "Initiate firing! Hurry!"
The Bismarck's destruction was a shock for sure, but what the dissipating fireball revealed would've made Supreme Commander Stuart despair. The Nemesis' nuclear missile hatchways opened, a sort of tesla coils emerging.
"Are the preparations finished?"
"Of course, sir!" was the officers' joint answer.
"Then what are you waiting for? FIRE!"
Anna clenched her fists while still holding onto the railing, and observing the Germania, just as the last preparations for firing the Anti-Matter Cannon were done there. She trembled heavily, which made her nervousness impossible to hide. Her glance wandered over the bridge, and stopped when she reached Olaf, eager to hear that the Tesla Gun was ready. Her body surely wasn't the only thing of hers that trembled heavily, which she noticed when she started to scream. "FIRE IT DAMMIT!"
She breathed heavily when she returned to watching the enemy's flagship, where the Reich's mightiest weapon revealed itself - the Anti-Matter Cannon was being uncovered.
"Alright... loading accomplished... aim... FIRE!" shouted Olaf, just before Anna noticed that from the Nemesis' bow's sides, too, structures had emerged, ones which looked just alike Tesla coils, two per side, and of whom the two sternmost emitted a lightning that quickly jumped over to the next, before the two bolts met in the bow itself. It took a split-second, but then, the massive bolt of electricity shot forth towards the Germania, just as said ship had launched the anti-matter. The artificial lightning struck the Anti-Matter Cannon itself, and overpowered its circuits, making fuses blow, and cables burned through. The anti-matter was released in the process, and annihilated the matter around, releasing an enormous amount of energy. In the blink of an eye, half of the Germania had turned into a massive explosion that slowly ate up more and more of the flagship, and also many nearby ships, before ceasing as the released energy wasn't sufficient for the ships' reactors to detonate.
The sirens howled. "This is impossible!" the commander cried through the noise that the detonation and the following panic had caused, "I should've known of such a project!"
Stuart hurried down the stairs, partly having to dive through the masses of people trying to get to the hangar bay. The lightning had just struck the bow, and now half of the ship was gone. The Supreme Commander decided to ride down on his subordinates' heads to reach his destination faster, and soon was the first to reach the hangar, where he hurried towards his personal shuttle, which he entered and immediately took off, piloting the spacecraft out of the mess of battle. Having fled the scene, he could take a good look on the greatest military defeat he had ever seen. The extremely bright fireball had consumed almost every ship of the North American Space Fleet, and the other two Fleets were now being hunt down by the - numerously inferior - European. He shook his head, and desperately slumped to the ground.
"Not that we ever had a serious chance..." he spoke as he took out his service pistol, a P08 Luger, and aimed it at his temples. He pulled the trigger. Click.
Nothing would stop the tank, AT-rocket launchers included - but apparently, a pile of rubble could. Jan fired the AA-machine gun at the enemy soldier for half a minute, while their tank was stuck in the rubble. The marshal took a look around afterwards, noticing several civilians trying to get out of their house, which seemed to collapse every second. "Lads, I'm going to help 'em, you find a way to get our tank out! Now!" he shouted down into the tank's belly, and climbed out, before jumping down from the massive vehicle. He checked his revolver and climbed through the rubble towards the house's door. The people behind were a family or two, desperate looks on their faces, and even more desperate when they realised the soldier at the door was European. The gunshot that then followed had another effect on them. Jan had destroyed the lock and then kicked the door open, ordering them, "Get out! Immediately!" waiting for them to come out before he returned to his tank, taking cover at any occasion, until he had reached the armoured vehicle, and climbed onto - and into - it. The civilians followed him a bit, searching a safe place in the raging battle that was fought all around, but stopped upon the sight of him hopping onto the tank. Following that, the dozen of them slowly crawled into a near crater, and hid between the pieces of debris. Jan failed to notice that, only seconds after that, a Wehrmacht soldier tossed a grenade into the crater, one whose splinters managed to accomplish what the collapsing house's roof couldn't. The soldier then took aim on Jan's beret which the marshal had laid directly beside the AA-machine gun. Before the enemy could fire, though, a machine gun did, and hit him multiple times in the stomach, the chest and in the head. Said weapon was mounted on a tank of the same kind as Jan's, which approached from behind. At the sound of the machine gun firing, Jan shot up from the turret and took a glanced over to the other tank, whose commander then opened the hatchway, and gestured for Jan's tank's crew to let them tow their tank out of there. After having chained the two vehicles together, both drove backwards, and, in the end, Jan's tank was pulled out of what turned out to be a rubble-covered stack of antitank obstacles. Before he could thank them for their help, Jan dismounted the AA-machine gun, and closed the hatchway, ordering, "Get me to that flag, no matter what way. What about through that building?"
The driver obeyed without question, and thus, the armoured unit of Jan's advanced through the houses, some of which had still been intact, towards the massive flag pole. The loud battle noises around them couldn't distract them, nor could reports of desperate officers trying to get reinforcements, nothing could make Jan nervous now. He was preparing to take down the victory flag and to hoist his own instead. The flag was in his backpack which he now took on, before searching for his revolver's ammunition, and his lighter. Adjusting his equipment for this last feat, he took a look out of the turret through its periscope, noticing that they were about to break through to the flag pole. The rattling signaled the last wall they had to breach to arrive there, only to encounter entrenched infantry. Without pondering about potential consequences, Jan opened the hatchway and put the machine gun up again, opening fire almost instantly. A handful of tanks alongside a few Infantry Fighting Vehicles stormed the positions around the symbol of the Nazi Endsieg. Jan's tank was, naturally, the first to reach it, and thus, the marshal climbed out of the turret, and leapt over to the massive metal structure that rose far into the sky. Grasping a steel beam's rim, he pulled himself up, and swung around to the other side, where a ladder was installed. Climbing it up, he realised how devastating the battle was, his view stretching further and further with every step he took. An explosion there, an enemy position being stormed here, and a house collapsing over there - Jan stopped at the horrifyingly beautiful sight that presented itself. A strong wind which shook the whole structure of the flag pole, however, snapped him back into reality. He took step after step, feeling more uncomfortable with every step he took. His acrophobia, his fear of heights, was something few people knew of. I shouldn't have made it my mission to do that. I should not have done that., was all he thought all the time, before deciding to take another step. And another. Slowly, but steadily, he climbed up the ladder, while the favour in the battle below slowly turned against the Europeans, as the Reich's reinforcements from surrounding areas slowly were arriving. I should've taken a radio with me, so I could inform them about the Reich's movements... , he thought to distract himself from his phobia, while motivating himself, ...just a few metres more... just a few metres more... Suddenly, the ladder he climbed ended, and he stepped out onto the unsecure platform, which was at the massive flag's base. As he had reached it, he stopped just to stare in awe, before, a bullet ricocheted on the metal just a few millimetres above his head. Being urged to look down, he spotted a single enemy sniper just at the flag pole's base. He decided to crouch on the metal platform, and took out his revolver, before another bullet struck him in his right shoulder. Urged to take his revolver, a Russian Nagant M-1895, in his left hand, he took aim, and, trembling heavily, pulled the trigger. The sniper dropped dead to his surprise, and thus, he decided to stand up again, and complete his mission. Taking a look to the west, he caught a glimpse of a mass of enemy soldiers moving in quickly, and so, he hurried. Taking out his lighter, he grasped it with his left hand, and then lit the massive flag. Upon contact with the flame, the fabric burned almost instantly, and soon, the whole victory flag was flying aflame. The cloth soon lost the connection with the steel rope that had held it up, and burned completely while falling. Jan took out his own victory flag, and single-handedly hoisted it. The blue twelve-star banner flew in the constantly increasing wind, and seemingly was all it took for the Reich's forces' morale to be crushed. The tide turned another time in the Second Battle for Washington, this time in the Allies' favour. The lion's den had fallen.
Asura would've never believed she'd think something alike what she did now, but she indeed regretted not ending Johnston's life. Her hesitation had allowed him to spin around and kick her into her jaw, which sent her flying back after he had thrust a stream of water at her. She had landed on her knees and, having no time to deflect it, was forced to duck beneath a lightning strike of Olizon's. Afterwards, she quickly got up, and stopped the Führer's next attack, which was a barrage of icicles, crushing each of the icy projectiles with her fist. A few blue fireballs came her way just a split-second afterwards, and she caught them all within one of her own, which she then shot at Johnston, who stopped it with a water shield, while Olizon was preparing a combustion attack. Asura reacted out of reflex, and blew a gust of air to stop it, but the resulting explosion thrust her at the partially collapsed wall, saving her from the following shreds of glass originating from the now destroyed cupola.
Breathing heavily, she took a look around, and noticed that she was standing on a pile of rubble, and that she only had one way of evading the brothers' attacks in time, to submerge in the rubble. The masses of icicles and the two lightning bolts approached her, but she bent the metal and rock aside, to escape them, before letting the rubble return to its previous state. However, the submerging hadn't saved her from attacks, rather had she trapped herself. The air, metal and rock around her heated up, and blue flames began to penetrate her fortress, some burning through her borrowed uniform, her robes and even the skin of hers. Her cries of pain were silenced by her surroundings, and she only saw one way out. Bending the rubble, rock and metal alike, she stood up, and began launching pieces of it towards them. Whether metal or rock, it hit the two unexpected. They were knocked down by her counter strike, but neither did it knock them out, nor did she notice it. Believing she had done her job, Asura let the rubble around her fall again, and immediately felt someone grasp control of her. The cold bloodbending grip of the Führer was unmistakable. The man smirked maniacally, while his brother stood ready to kill her should she escape Johnston's grip. Olizon circled her, and stopped when he had reached the edge of the destroyed cupola. It was then, when the bloodbender began his speech.
"Avatar, you are fool and have always been! You believed you could stop me, hinder me in my mission!" Olizon trembled a bit as his brother didn't mention him, the Fire Lord, but told himself to remain calm.
"You could've never possibly stopped me from ending your pathetic homeworld's existence!" the Führer, Lloyd Frederick Johnston/Tanook, shouted, still grinning maliciously, not considering the consequences. Olizon, however, snapped at the words. His eyes widened, and his jaw dropped in shock. Then, he closed his mouth again and narrowed his eyes. "Brother! YOU TRAITOR! YOU PROMISED ME THE PLANET! YOU- "
"Shut up." All it took was a - bloodbending - swipe of his hand, that was enough to send Olizon falling off the yacht, to temporarily disable his bending, to sentence him to death. Asura was shocked by both, the Führer's plan and his way of dealing with his brother. She began sweating and trembling heavily in nervousness, seeing no way out but one - she had to follow Mike's instructions. You must abandon all means of morals, she heard him in her memories. The evil is invincible., she remembered, before proceeding to the most difficult part. All you love is gone. She trembled more, but then she started to follow those orders she'd heard the day before. As if I hadn't already abandoned morals by now., she thought bitterly, And to me, the Evil indeed is quite invincible as of now... All that was left for her to accept was the fact that her loved ones were gone. Then, she remembered flying over the Space Port, and spotting a blood-soaked body lying amongst others, in a greenish uniform. Mike, she thought, before it came to her mind that the Team's mission too was suicide. That was realisation was enough for her to be brought into the state of her greatest power and her greatest weakness at once. She reopened the eyes she'd closed while remembering the lesson, only that now, they glowed a bright bluish white. She started to ascend into the air in a sphere of air, gathering rocks from the rubble to form a belt of them around the sphere, before doing the same with air and fire. The Führer was astonished to see the Avatar's peak of power, and noticed that he no longer had control over her. Then, she launched an attack of all the elements. Earth bullets, icicles, fireballs and air swipes were thrust at the man, but he tried the impossible. He bloodbent the Avatar in the Avatar State. While he was thrown back by the continuous attacks, he pressed himself hard to bloodbend her, sweating heavily as he extended his arms as if to grasp the Avatar's body directly. Much to both combatants' surprise, it worked. The glow faded away, and the sphere of air dissipated and the three belts of water, earth and fire followed the call of gravity, while she fell from her position onto the stairs, before Johnston bloodbent her again. He moved her into a specific position on her knees, the facing looking upwards - something, someone deep inside her remembered the process. Realisation struck Asura. I'm going to have my bending removed... , she thought defeated, before plotting a plan, But not if I can prevent that!
"You seem to have realised that the technique I will use on you was invented by my far relative, Amon/Noatak... I will dispose of you just like of my brother! And to make sure of that you'll get reincarnated, I will remove your bending!" Johnston explained, bleeding from several wounds, as he walked towards the defeated Avatar. She began to panic when he extended his thumb and spoke, "Prepare to meet your destiny!"
This was it. This was her last chance, with or without bending. Her last chance to strike him, to kill the - already weakened - Führer. She extended her middle and index fingers of her right hand, and began a semi-circular movement, before she shot the result at her enemy. The lightning bolt only missed Johnston/Tanook by millimetres. In the split-second she started to despair as the thumb was laid at the centre of her forehead, the lightning struck something. Of course, the Natural Gas pipe!, she thought as behind Johnston, a massive fireball formed and quickly expanded. The explosion thrust Asura backwards, through a hole her previous rampage had created, and she could only watch as the flames consumed Johnston's body. The explosion wasn't the last. Soon, another followed, and another, before the last one blew up the entire Aria. The noise of the detonation was all she could hear, and the resulting fireball all she could see, before everything went black and silent.
The Ride of the Valkyrie
The Valkyrie sore through the thin air over Huston, directly towards the armed and armoured yacht Aria, which ascended upwards, nearing the League's forces. The pilot, Grand Admiral Michael Přemysl, was panting heavily as he attempted to hold his course. He had prepared for, and had been expecting heavy fire from the yacht, but as he was only half a kilometre away, he realised they were ignoring him. He approached her from below, and couldn't have the slightest clue on what was going on at the highest deck. He decided to glide the outer hull of the ship upwards, and once he had passed the ship, he looked down to see why no one bothered him flying closely to the yacht. Asura battled Johnston, and only a second later, when Mike decided to turn around for this exact reason, he faced a massive fireball and remnants of the massive ship being sent flying through the air by the immense force that pressed outwards. He instantly was shocked, but not as much as he was after he noticed a smoking body falling. Asura, was all he thought as he dove the Valkyrie downwards. It accelerated with ease, but one thing bugged Mike. And how exactly do I expect to save her?
The fighter-bomber landed in the Nemesis' hangar, and almost instantly, the ramp in its back opened and Malu sped out. She hurried the stairs upwards to the bridge at a speed only an airbender could achieve.
"What do they mean, Mike was dead?" Anna asked Kiruya through the radio. Before the Water Tribal on the connection's other end could answer, the Air Nomad behind them did. "It means that Mike died, and Kiruya resurrected him with some sort of... healing. Y'know, a bending skill."
Anna and Olaf, who had been facing the radio unit, turned around surprised and almost simultaneously asked, "Just how did you get up here?"
"I followed the signs. Now, would you mind helping us out down in Huston? We want to help Mike save Asura, who basically is the impersonation of hope on Avatara, and well..." Malu spoke, just before a communications officer yelled at Anna, "Ma'am! The South American and the African Space Fleets' Grand Admirals just surrendered! Wha- "
"Yeah, yeah, that's nice, send some Marines to take prisoners and shut up now," Anna responded casually, continuing serious, "So, you're saying Mike is... like, near death again and still risking his life? That's SO typical of him."
Olaf surprisingly left the bridge, while Malu spoke, "And... what about Huston? We need help down there, and, well... "
"Yeah, I got that. We'll send some units of the Foreign Legion and... Screw it, I'll go myself. And Olaf..." Anna decided, just as said man entered the bridge again, holding a Thompson Model 1928 sub-machine gun and a Winchester Model 1897 shotgun, carrying ammunition as well. As he handed the sub-machine gun over to his temporary superior, he spoke, "I'll come too. So, where's your ship?"
Mike opened the ramp mid-flight, and looked out of the cockpit. There, just beside his ship, Asura fell, and he knew how to save her. He slowly accelerated to be just a bit faster than the falling Avatar, and made a slight swing to the left, to have Asura above him. He looked over his shoulder to make sure he had succeeded, and now he had to hold this course, and to decelerate as slowly as possible. The first few seconds, nothing happened, except that Mike had realised that Asura was a little much farther away than he had thought at first. Then, a falling piece of debris hit her, and shortly later, also the cockpit. Mike then pulled the Valkyrie slightly to the left again, before he noticed that he was accelerating again, and therefore he throttled the velocity of his spacecraft. What happened then was as unexpected as it can get - Asura was already entering through the open ramp, and then a strong gust of wind struck her and knocked her against the ramp, before she fell a few metres just beside Mike's craft, so that she was just next to the cockpit. Mike then accelerated again, and piloted the ship directly beneath her again, beginning anew. Then, he found it was time to pull her in. He throttled it again, and once she was at one level with the ramp, he started to close it, and decelerated further. Once it was closed he glanced over his shoulder to make sure of himself that he had caught her mid-air. He looked at her briefly before returning his attention to flying. He inhaled deeply repeatedly, trying to somehow balance his low blood pressure out, and decided to land at the Space Port since he didn't need to fly much further to get there. He took one last look at Asura before heading off to the massive structure, smiling.
"So, who taught you flying anyway?" Olaf asked Malu as he took notice of the skill she piloted the Renegade with.
"My mother- Oh, you mean piloting? Well, guess who! Mike of course, idiot! Who else could have?!" was the annoyed Air Nomad's answer as she caught a glimpse of Mike's Valkyrie changing her course.
"He's heading to the Space Port, we should probably land there too," Zolu informed the pilot.
"No wonder, I mean, after all, the manoeuvre they destroyed the Bismarck with had written Mike all over it..." Anna whispered to Olaf, who only agreed with her. "Wait a second, didn't we destroy the Bismarck? Hm, they must've built another one... "
Kiruya had decided to examine the interior of the ship, but they stopped once Kiruya had found a Gatling-style multi-barrelled machine gun in the seats. "Hey Luo! Look what I found! Nice, eh?"
Luo, who manned the AA-machine gun again, looked down, speaking, "Nice? EPIC! Now where's the ammunition for that... thing?"
Kiryua didn't answer, as the Renegade had touched ground. Malu and Zolu stood up from their seats, and Luo climbed down from his, while the two Admirals loaded their respective guns, and followed them outside, and thus, Kiruya followed their example. They had landed in a circular landing space intended for use by minor spacecraft, with six corridors leading elsewhere, one to another landing space of the same kind. It took a few seconds, but then, from all of the six corridors Wehrmacht soldiers were advancing towards them, firing their assault rifles. The first one to answer them was Olaf, who fired his shotgun, and struck one of them down, before another fell under Zolu's blade. The next few ones were slain by the Tommy Gun of Admiral Visconti, before icicles impaled another handful. Malu's air swipe made some topple, before Luo made the corridor collapse, locking it off. The two proceeded the same way three more times, before through the last two, massive numbers of enemy soldiers attacked. They had to keep one corridor open, to reach Mike's landing zone in time, but the other was quickly blocked. Then, the six of them all took cover in the corridor, only managing to hinder anyone from trespassing, but not clearing out the landing zone. After about half a minute, there was constant enemy fire at the corridor, and Kiruya decided to take matters into her own hands. She was the last, the nearest to the Renegade, to whom she hurried now, only to take the machine gun she had found, and took something she presumed to be ammunition with her. She soon noticed that weapon was a heavy one, and had no idea of its massive recoil. To cover her movement, she drew water from the air, and evaporated it again, before it condensed and formed fog. She dragged the weapon all the way until to the other side of the corridor, where she started the gun and opened fire. Kiruya had far underestimated the recoil a hundred rounds per second create. She only fired the gun to clear out the landing area for about ten seconds, but that was enough for her to have a rib broken, and to have inched back about a metre. After having finished it, she simply dropped the gun and watched as the Valkyrie landed just afterwards.
His heavy breaths were no more the only ones in the ship. He took a short glance over his shoulder, and noticed Asura trying to get up, but failing. Mike then took his Lee-Enfield rifle, and stood up from the pilot's seat. He himself had difficulties, and so he grasped some pipe at the wall. Slowly, centimetre by centimetre, he got closer to the struggling Avatar. She looked up at the Grand Admiral and managed a smile, before she tried to get up again, and slipped, once again, only to be in the same position as before. Then, Mike offered her his hand. She got hold of it, and together, they managed to pull her up. However, she too was quite severely injured, and could barely stand, so Mike handed her his rifle and rushed to himself support her, while she too supported him. Together, they walked the one or two metres to the ramp, before Mike opened it, and the two stepped out. The Team was gathered there, and Olaf and Anna as well, soldiers wearing white caps guarding the area. Mike stepped forth a bit more that Asura did, and extended his left hands' index and middle fingers, them forming a "V". Then, he stretched his arm, and cried out, "VICTORY IS OURS!"
Then, his vision slowly faded, before he could feel himself fall, and then, all became black.
"Someone get a medic! Kiruya! Can you fix 'em up?" Malu asked as she held the unconscious body of her former pupil and long-time friend, Asura, and tried to carry Mike's as well. Kiruya rushed to her help, just as Zolu, Olaf, Luo and Anna.
His eyes opened without warning, and yet they refused to work. He closed an reopened them, before he could survey the room. First of all did he recognise his bed, though he had barely slept in it, before he let his gaze wander across the room. It was built from metal plates, and included a table he had spent much time with. It was his very own room on the HMS Nemesis, or Queen of the Galaxy, as some called her. A small smile formed on his face, before he realised that he must have been unconscious. The only question was for how long. He closed his eyes again, and could feel the vibrations the reactor and the propulsion produced, before he removed the blanket over him sit upright. So, he sat there, overlooking the little room, smiling. He looked at himself, and noticed, though he could have earlier, that he only was wearing pants. His uniform was laying on the table's chair, just out of reach. He stood up, and immediately sat down again, grimacing in pain. His right leg still hadn't healed. Then, he tried to crawl to his uniform, but surrendered to the pain halfway there. The clothing being in range, he grasped it, and slowly, careful not to possibly scratch any healed or cicatrised wound open. After a procedure of two minutes, he laid on the ground, wearing his uniform, including the beret. Getting hold of the table's edge, he pulled himself up, only to take his rifle, once again to serve him as a crutch. Then, he limped to the metal door, and opened it, to climb the short set of stairs to the bridge. When he had reached it, he could hardly believe his eyes. Through the windows, he saw a sight he knew all too well, Avatara. It was the same angle, and almost the same time of the day as it was when he discovered it. His previous smile returned, and just then he took notice of the number of people also being on the bridge. There were Olaf and Anna, of course, then there was the Team, all gathered in the centre except for Asura, who was standing by the windows, looking out. Then, a familiar voice called out, "Hey, Mike! Awoken, at last! Glad to see ya 'round!"
Mike glanced over his shoulder, only to see the Marshal of Central Europe, Jan Svoboda, approaching, being followed by a small group of people. Two of them were doubtlessly women, who wore elaborate robes of monarchs, the Fire Lord and the Earth Kin- Queen, being followed by someone Mike would've never expected.
"You're a Dai Li!" Mike shouted, and aimed his revolver at the agent. However, the Earth Queen sprang between them, addressing Mike, "Whoa, Mike, calm down, that's just Agent Anjong, leader of the Dai Li, since he convinced his organisation to... dispose of his predecessor. We're all on one side here."
As the monarch spoke, realisation struck Mike. "You're Shen-Lin! Congrats! Wait, dispose of his predecessor? You mean he killed- "
"As a matter of fact, he did, and in this way, saved the two of us," the other monarch spoke. Mike didn't recognise her, and noticing this, she added, "I'm Arzowa by the way. Niece to Olizon, born and raised in Ba Sing Se, friend to Shen-Lin and Seon- er, Agent Anjong here. Any questions?"
The Grand Admiral failed to completely comprehend in his current state, and just nodded, letting his friend, Jan, guide the three through the ship further. He then limped to the Team, whom Anna and Olaf had joined, and greeted him as well, "Heyo, Mike! Still alive, eh?"
Mike nodded smiling, only confirming the obvious, and walked past them, before stopping in his tracks and turning around. "Uh, can you, like, tell me how long I've been unconscious?"
"For about... let me think... What date do we have?" Olaf started, Anna answering, "The eight of October, exactly two years since the War started, so for about... "
"I think three weeks, quite exactly even, yeah," Malu finished, before Mike thanked for the information and continued his slow walk towards Asura. She seemed a bit lost in her own thoughts, until the Grand Admiral spoke up, though quite quiet. "Hey there... "
Asura turned to him and acknowledged his greeting with a simple nod, before resuming staring at the planet below. Mike joined her, and after some time, she spoke. "Thanks."
Mike responded equally short. "Anytime."
The Avatar then decided to start some kind of conversation. "You know, when we first met, on Aang Memorial Island, I would've never expected things to turn out like they did. Then, I was some goofy, young and inexperienced woman who didn't really take her duties seriously, and now, well... Things have changed... "
"No one would've possibly expected things to turn out the way they did. I was a seasoned military leader, and yet quite goofy as well, and... Oh, one thing is for sure: in the end, all turned out well," Mike concluded smiling, before Asura and he leaned in for a hug. Just after breaking the embrace, Asura stated, moderately amused, "Y'know, you gotta hold a speech in an hour."
Mike's eyes widened in shock. "Fuck. Bloody hell. Dammit. And... why, if I may ask?"
The Team's laughter was loud, before Anna decided to answer his question. "Just an hour ago, the League's leaders signed their instrument of surrender. It's up to you to hold the speech now the war is, at last, over. You can do this kind of shit."
Mike sighed, and started his descent to the hangar, yelling, "I've got enough time to prepare it while I go down anyway," causing another gust of laughter from the Team, only to add whispering, "I sure hope they don't punish me for copying Churchill... "
Republic City - once again
Mike looked around in the provisorily rebuilt City Hall of the immense metropolis of Republic City. Before him laid the gates leading outside, and podium prepared for him - and two others - to speak. He felt a feeling he hadn't felt in a long time, nervousness. His friends, who were gathered around him, gave him reassuring looks, and thus, he - hesitantly - decided to walk outside. The crowd on the massive square before him cheered as the Grand Admiral walked up to the podium, where he then gestured to calm the crowd. His speech had come.
"Comrades! Brothers! Sisters!"
"I believe that, without question, all here have heard of the recent unconditional surrender of League's forces. It is without contention that all of us have contributed to the outcome of this War of the Worlds, be it a General who lead divisions into battle or a simple labourer producing shells in factory. It does not matter, we all have contributed to this war, we all have been comrades on different fronts, brothers - and sisters - in arms! This war has, other than the League's falsely guided leadership has believed, united us, and not divided. It is without question also, that we all have lost someone close to it, be it a husband or a wife, a sister or a brother, an uncle or an aunt, a son or a daughter, or at least have suffered ourselves. This war lasted exactly two years, and cost the lives of approximately two hundred million people. TWO HUNDRED MILLION who will never ever return to their families, TWO HUNDRED MILLION who cannot help their relatives to survive in the ruins, TWO HUNDRED MILLION! But, those two hundred million were civilians and soldiers alike, who died on both sides. While it is true, that the League's forces are responsible for many of those deaths, by systematic extermination of peoples they viewed as inferior, the Allies too are not automatically saints simply because they - we - won the war. While it is true, that the League's members, especially the former Fourth Reich, deserve punishment for their crimes, we shall not take revenge in the same way they took the lives of millions, for it would make us no better than them. They deserve punishment, but not like this. History has shown us that those nations who committed genocide and other forms of mass murder, were forgiven after some time, and later became some of the first to prevent such crimes, be it the Fire Nation or Germany. We must learn to forgive, but never forget."
Mike paused to catch his breath - he had shouted loudly, despite knowing the microphone and the speakers would carry his voice across the square.
"All the Nations that participated now lie in ruins, the population widely traumatised and the economy being leveled like many homes were in the war zones. Whether you believe it or not, we can only rebuild if all of mankind sticks together, and helps each other up! Nay, we will not rebuild, for if we stick together, we will rise like Phoenix from its ashes! Mankind will stand tall and proud in the coming period of rebuilding! But, we must be careful. If we punish the offenders too harshly, they will strike again, as history has shown - only together can we accomplish something, and together, we can accomplish ANYTHING! But if we let an Iron Curtain descend between our numerous nations, we cripple ourselves, and mankind will see an age of war and cold. Thus, people, HUMANS! I call to you, do not let us divide ourselves because of the mistakes and crimes of a few! We must stand tall and united against whether challenge the future brings upon us, for united we stand, but divided we fall!"
The crowd cheered once again, as Mike had reached his improvised and repetitive speech's end, and only spoke, "Now, I must give the floor to our fellow monarchs, Fire Lord Arzowa and Earth Queen Shen-Lin!"
Shen-Lin, accompanied by Seon, was the first to speak.
"People of Republic City, people of the Earth Kingdom, people!"
"The past months, those of warfare, have shown us what it means to truly fight for freedom, as a nation, as a people! The most powerful oppressors were proven powerless against the united forces of all our Four Nations, and every last tyrant was overthrown - one could indeed speak of a victory of freedom! However, once installed, the instruments of oppression are impossible to destroy - like the feared and hated Dai Li's history confirms. Such instruments can be reactivated without much effort, if someone truly desires it, as the Coup of the False Earth King Rong showed us all. But will we let our newly earned freedom be taken away? NO! But how could we possibly guard it?"
Seon took a step forward, and the people below gasped in fear at the sight of the agent.
"Simply by transforming instruments of oppression - into guardians of freedom. No longer will the Dai Li be the secret police under the command of whoever wants to achieve it, no more! They will guard the people of the Earth Kingdom, and their freedom, and safety, be it from outside or from interior threats. People of the Earth Kingdom, people of the Four Nations! That is my programme, to guarantee you to lead you to the greatest freedom possible, for I have seen what oppression can lead to."
Once again, the crowd deemed the speech worthy, and cheered.
"Now, I give you... FIRE LORD ARZOWA!"
As the sovereign reached the podium, the crowd's cheers erupted into something unlike anything before. Arzowa gestured briefly, signalling them to be quiet, and in a split second, the whole square was silent.
"People of the Fire Nation, people of the Four Nations!"
"We all have seen the destruction and pain the War has caused, we all have caused and taken suffering - we all have lived the War."
She paused briefly, only to then shout louder than even Mike had done at Brandenburg Gate. "NO MORE!"
"Too long have my people fought and subdued the other Nations, too often has the Fire Lord lead us and the world into war, too often has my Nation brought death, pain and destruction - NO MORE! No longer shall the Fire Nation attack other Nations! No longer shall the Fire Lord lead it as an Autocrat, as a sovereign! No longer shall our Nation be known for genocide and mass murder. It will not be easy to accomplish this, that is for sure, but indeed we have made a first step - the liberation of the United Republic and the Earth Kingdom from occupation and tyranny. But that, of course, doesn't make the Air Nomad Genocide unhappen, or the Hundred Year War's crimes as a whole, not to talk about the most recent crimes."
The crowd grew a little uneasy as she paused again, but she continued after only a few seconds.
"You may ask, what is the purpose of all this? Well, most of the time in history, wars were waged between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom, fewer between other combinations of enemies, and most of the time, the Fire Nation was the offender, the one that started the war. No. More. That's all I have to say. NO MORE!"
A third time, the crowd found the speech worthy their attention, and cheered wildly, while all around the square flags were hoisted. The flags of all participants of the War of the Worlds, of every state of the colonies, of every Nation of both Earths, Sol and Avatara. Dozens of flags hoisted up, only to be flown at half-mast anyway to commemorate the War's losses. Slowly, the crowd dissipated, and silence settled for the first time in ages in Republic City.
An amicable Aftermath
All Ba Sing Se was silent that evening, all that was except the little teashop in its Upper Ring.
"It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go..." the - almost ancient - song sounded from it. The three who sang it took another sip of whether brewage they were given, be it beer, mead, wine or tea, little did it matter to them. The three were Jan Svoboda, Marshal of Central Europe, Anna Visconti, Admiral of the Southern Division of the European Space Fleet, and Olaf Janssen, Admiral of the Northern Division. They were playing a drinking game, which consisted of singing the World War One-era song It's a long Way to Tipperary, and to take a sip of any brewage handed whenever someone made a mistake. Their babbling continued, until their host seated herself across them. Arzowa, newly crowned Fire Lord and master of brewing tea, narrowed her eyes, making the three cease their slightly tipsy singing, and spoke, "You should rather drink tea, instead of those disgusting brewages. You don't know how hard it is to brew such excellent tea!"
The three of them feeled offended at the statement, Anna shouting, "YOU DARE TO CALL ITALIAN WINE DISGUSTING?!" while Olaf's reaction was similar, only concerning Swedish mead. Jan faced it calmly, and urged the other two to sit again, while he himself took something which leaned on the nearby wall, a bottle of his Czech beer, which he poured down, and then got into fighting stance, revealing to have taken a hockey racket. "Say that again, your majesty, I DARE YOU!"
Arzowa too rose from her seat, and inched into a fighting stance, smirking, "Bring it on."
All visitors, basically just the Team and Seon, as well as the only waitress, who appeared to be the Earth Queen turned their attention to the two, who seemed to lash at each other at any moment. Then, after a minute of trying to stare each other down, a laugh escaped Jan as he lightly punched Arzowa in the upper arm, laughing, "No, but honestly, you should try some Czech beer."
The Fire Lord stood there, dumfounded, before she too decided to ease herself, stating, "Only if you try my tea."
Jan handed her a bottle of beer, saying, "Deal," and himself got handed a cup of tea. "Cheers!"
While Jan poured the tea down, Arzowa approached the beer hesitantly but eventually took a sip, both finishing at once and stating in unison, "Actually, that tastes great!"
A gust of laughter escaped most of the people present, and they all resumed whatever they were doing prior the interruption. Mike had drunk just a single bottle of beer (although he was capable of drinking far more) and now found it about time to get some fresh air. Walking outside, he noticed the sun setting, and thus decided to lean on the stone railing before the shop's entrance, one that faced the West. A low-pitched humming slowly approached from behind, and revealed itself to be the HMS Nemesis, as it slowly made its way westwards. He watched the ship, and just as she was about to cover the sun, an all-too familiar voice spoke, "Beautiful, isn't it?"
Startled, Mike turned to his left, and faced Asura who too leaned to the railing, and quickly added, "The sunset, I mean."
Mike managed a slight smile, and nodded, "Yeah... "
"Thinking about something?" Asura asked innocently.
Mike continued staring at the slowly searing ship, "What about you?"
"I still am amazed. Just two years ago, I didn't even think that there's much beyond this world, and now... I've been to another planet, and... "
"Me too, me too... Two years ago, deep down, on the inside, I was a traumatised war veteran, whether you believe it or not... And then, I found this world, met you and the Team and all ya fellas, and... "
Mike paused as the Nemesis blocked out the sun from their view, as did Asura, both to think what to say next.
"I've done things I'm not proud of. I've seen and experienced much of which I wish I hadn't. But then, when in my darkest hours, when I was on the ground, you helped me up. I must truly thank you for that. Much has happened in the meantime, but I think, deep down, we still know what we mean to each other."
The Avatar's words made Mike realise just how similar their stories were, and so, he also stated it. "You have no idea how true this is for me... "
Asura looked Mike in the eyes, but then she tensed, and narrowed her eyes. "But still, you owe me an answer."
Mike knew exactly what she meant. He remembered that night, just before the day he died, and was resurrected, and was deeply ashamed of his actions that day. He tried to evade a direct answer. "Don't my actions speak for myself?"
"I WANT A SIMPLE 'YES' OR 'NO'! IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?!" Asura shouted at him, which made him retreat a bit, before he spoke again.
"I dove myself into battle for you repeatedly, I helped you out of your misery when your parents died, I myself LITERALLY died for you, and then, after being resurrected, even too weak to walk properly, I got myself into grave danger to save your life!" Mike too shouted, though not as aggressively as Asura had. "Is it too much to ask for to recognise that?"
Asura now felt horrible, but she persisted. "Yes. Or. No?!"
Mike moved back to his previous place, and resumed staring into nothingness. "I hope you don't take my answer that night as my final one... I didn't really mean it.. I mean, yes, back then, I did, but it's not true anymore... "
Asura had to admit that he was excellent at being evasive, but that brought them nowhere. She joined him again, and too let her gaze wander across the Impenetrable City. Minutes passed, until the Nemesis let the sun shine at them again. The two both turned to face each other again at once, and both started simultaneously. "Asura, I-" "Mike, I- " the two spoke in unison.
"C'mon, ladies first," Mike insisted.
"Listen Mike, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have yelled at you. I should've given you time to consider, and not just demanded an answer immediately," Asura spoke in an apologetic tone.
"Well, Asura, I'm the one who should be sorry. I should have answered your simple question straight on, and not postponed my true answer by evading." Mike too sought forgiveness, just as well as it was hearable in his voice's tone.
"And? Do you now know your answer?" Asura asked sheepishly.
"Well, my actions will speak for myself." Mike grinned broadly at the words.
"Oh Mike..." Asura chuckled, raising her right hand to fondle Mike's cheek, but he rose his own right hand to catch Asura's and hinder it from touching him. Dumbfounded by his own reaction, Mike let go of the Avatar's arm, and only stated, "Well, I certainly am no master when it comes to human interaction... "
Asura smiled broadly after having chuckled at the reaction, only thinking, Only one way to find out his answer now.
Asura leaned in and pressed her lips upon Mike's, who at first attempted to retreat from her, astonished, but then found out it was his trial. He decided to embrace Asura tightly and answered her initial kiss with a long, passionate of his own. His mind failed to cope with his decision, and stopped working for the moment, as a feeling of utter and genuine happiness and satisfaction flooded it.
They broke from each other after two minutes, when Mike felt the need to clarify his answer. "Well... I guess... My answer would've rhymed with 'guess'... "
... or is it?
Notes and Trivia
- This chapter is named after Richard Wagner's Ritt der Walküre (Ride of the Valkyrie in English), which could be called theme of this chapter.
- By Foreign Legion, I, as the author, meant the Légion étrangère, which in this fanon continues to exist as a part of the European Armed Forces.
- Now, at the de jure end of the story, I realise I should've done a word count.
- Speaking of word count, this is approximately the longest chapter of the overall story.
For the collective works of the author, go here.