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The City of Ba Sing Se, daytime. The streets of the city in every ring are full of people and talk. A train slips on the tracks from the outer walls, heading towards the Upper Ring. A certain middle carriage seems to be more lively than the others. In it, two people are sitting on a bench while another, Korra, paces in front of them.
"Why is this trip necessary at all? I thought there was no more monarchy!" Korra complained to her father and Fire Lord Zuko while pacing front of them.
"The Palace might not be home for another king, but we found it a very good and formal base for important meetings," Tonraq patiently tried to explain to his daughter.
Korra leaned against the window and looked out at the Middle Ring with distaste.
"Bah! If it was so formal, why in the world are we traveling by train? Can't we enter a bit more dramatically?"
"Ah, but it is simply a delightful trip down memory lane!" The Fire Lord explained, settling back on his bench and looking satisfied.
"Memory lane?" Questioned Korra.
"Ah, yes, I remember it. My uncle and I were disguised as Earth Kingdom refugees and we moved to the Lower Ring with the names Lee and Mushi," Zuko explained thoughtfully. "We then settled down in a tea shop, there I met a girl that-"
"Yes, yes, and at some point you got captured by your sister, then betrayed your uncle for her trust and helped almost kill the Avatar," Korra completed with a grunt. "Just hope Mai never met this girl."
"Oh, she met her, all right. It was rather... painful." The Fire Lord rubbed his forehead as if remembering an old mark there, and bit his lip.
"And that's why we came on the train?" Korra asked again, irritably.
"For once, I agree with Cousin Korra," said Desna from the nearby bench.
"It would have been highly appropriate if we were to enter on a flying carriage made of jet black spirit ice," Eska agreed.
Just by Korra, Wu coughed and straightened his bow tie.
"Well, if we're all giving our personal thoughts about the matter, I admit to the Avatar's idea," he said pointedly. "But, I'd think the most fitting way to ride to the palace would be on the back of a badgermole!"
At this, Tonraq and Zuko raised their eyebrows, but Korra just rolled her eyes, crossed her arms and turned to look out of the window.
"Yes, yes!" continued Wu, "It would turn around once and rub its nose and then dance a victory dance of my own composition!"
Wu started to dance in his place for a few moments, raising his hands and wiggling them in the air while closing his eyes.
"And then, they would do the penguin walk, like this." Wu waddled around with his two feet close together. "And then they would enter the gates with their front paws raised!" And Wu raised his hands in front of him like paws.
Tonraq and Zuko's eyebrows rose even higher.
"Of course," Wu pointed out and raised a finger, smiling widely, "this would all be done with top safety."
Wu blinked in his wide smile, and so did the other leaders. Suddenly, the train started to slow down and creak.
"We're here," said Korra.
"Ah, good," said Tonraq and hurried to stand and get to the open door of the carriage.
Korra turned and followed her father out, while Zuko and the chief twins waited another moment and then stood and did likewise. Only Wu remained on the carriage and straightened his bow tie again, staring at his reflection in the window.
"Hmm, yep. Looks okay," he remarked to his reflection.
"By Kyoshi," Zuko bellowed from the door. "Come already, Prince Wu!"
* * * * *
Screen title: Six months later
* * * * *
Republic City, the pro-bending stadium. The Fire Ferrets were in mid battle, up against the Ice Hailstones. Bolin earthbended an earth disk at the foe's earthbender. He tried to intercept, but failed and fell back in to the third ring, and the third line glowed red and beeped.
"Oooh! That's a nasty hit for the Ice Hailstones' earthbender K'Lai, and he falls straight in to the third ring!" cried the commentator from his booth.
"The Fire Ferrets may advance to the foe's first ring!" called the match judge.
Mako, Korra and Bolin advanced with a confident step, and prepared to attack. They then continued. The foe's waterbender tried to whip Mako and push him back a ring, but Korra clashed with it and pulled it away. From the force of the defense attack, the waterbender fell back, bumped in to K'Lai and pushed them both in to the water. Only the firebender remained, and he tried to defend himself from Bolin's earth disks.
"The Ice Hailstones are down to only their firebender!" shouted the commentator. "Will they surprisingly be able to overcome this match?"
Korra prepared to attack. "Don't think so, buddy!" she said.
Mako fired an attack at the foe, but he dodged it and almost fell over the side of the ring. Bolin then grabbed the chance and hit him with another earth disk. He fell back with a shout to the edge of the third ring. With another strike, Korra attempted to hit him with her water, but instead he jumped in to the water himself, with a fearful look on his face.
The judge raised a hand to show the end of the match. "The Fire Ferrets win the second semi-finals!" he called out.
The crowd roared as the third and fourth slots on the score board lit up with red Fire Ferret symbols.
"Wow! Unbelievable performance!" the commentator shouted repeatedly over the crowd.
"Y-y-yes!" cried Bolin excitedly. "We're on to the semi-finals! I can't wait to tell Opal!"
"That last bit was pretty funny," said Korra smugly.
"He jumped in there!" said Mako with joy.
They walked off the main stage towards the changing rooms, with the crowd roaring and shouting. A small creature leaped towards them and climbed up to Bolin's shoulder.
"Pabu!" said Bolin, snuggling with his pet fire ferret.
Another person stood there by the lockers.
"Asami!" Mako said, surprised to see his old friend standing there. "I- it's so good to see you!"
"Good to see you too, Mako," she replied. She ran up to him and hugged him lightly, then kissed Bolin on the cheek. She then met Korra's eyes.
"Korra!" she cried, and the two hugged each other tightly.
"I missed you so much!" Asami said once they separated.
"It feels like our trip was a million years ago," Korra said.
"That's why I found an interesting place for us to sit together." Asami pointed.
"What do you mean by 'interesting place'?" Mako asked.
* * * * *
"So this is what you meant by 'interesting place'?" Bolin demanded.
Asami had led them to a bar in the western part of the city. It was big and crowded, and it had a tiny battle arena in the middle. They were standing at the door, and a couple of confused faces turned to them.
"Thought you three would like an interesting place to have our reunion," Asami said.
"So... what is this place anyways?" asked Korra. She looked around for a place to sit and spotted a table for four right by the small battle ring. "Over there." She pointed at the seat and the four settled down on the four black wooden chairs around it.
"Thought I'd try something exotic with you guys. The free entertainment is... interesting," Asami told them.
"Sure is... Exotic." Bolin pointed, looking around suspiciously.
A waiter walked over to their table. She wore a short black skirt, black leggings and an olive green shirt. She had black armbands around her wrists and a black band around her head. The only sign of her being a waitress was the pen an notepad in her hands.
"Are you ordering anything?" she asked casually, leaning over the side of the side of the "arena" and holding up her pen.
"Drinks," said Asami at once.
"What for you?" she asked Mako.
She nodded her head at Asami without looking up.
"Uhh... do you have lychee juice?" Bolin asked.
"Yes," she said shortly. She looked up.
"Wait a second," she said. "You're... the Avatar! Oh my God!"
"Yeah, that's me," Korra said awkwardly.
"Oh, God!" she said excitedly. "So- so awesome to meet you!"
"You can have anything free!" she said enthusiastically. "W-what d'ya want? Anything!" She held the pen and pad in her hands at the ready.
"J-just water, thanks," Korra said. She was quite surprised to see the reaction of this waitress.
The waitress wrote it down quickly. "So... Kalenutsko, tea... Lychee juice... and water."
"Right, then!" she said. "I'll go get you them. Call me whenever!"
The waitress skipped over to the counter and disappeared behind it.
"R-right," Bolin replied.
"She was... enthusiastic," Mako said, raising a brow.
A couple of people who had turned to stare had then turned back to their own business, all but one group of people standing and sitting around a table a short distance away from Korra and the others. One of the people from that group, a boy wearing black with two swords strapped to his back around the age of young adulthood, walked closer to them and stopped a few feet away, looking closely at Korra. She realized his emerald green eyes.
"Korra," Korra said plainly. Mako, Bolin and Asami stared at her.
"You're the Avatar?" He asked.
"I am," Korra replied. He frowned. She did the same. Something seemed familiar about him, and she had a strange feeling that he was thinking the same.
"Hey, you!" someone called from somewhere far away, waking them both from a strange trance. "I see you've mastered the Dual Dao swords!"
The boy turned. A man in his forties was looking straight at him, as though he was passing him a silent challenge. He too had crossed swords strapped to his back, and he unsheathed them both, holding them up in front of him. The boy nodded.
The man walked towards an opening in the fighting platform, and gestured with his head for the boy to follow. Once they stood a few meters away from each other on the platform, the boy quickly unsheathed his twin swords with an agile move and, for a moment, they flashed dangerously in the dim light. He held them by his sides.
"My name's Sanso, master of the Dual Dao swords! I believe in victory," he said, and spiraled his left sword, "the way victory believes in me."
"I am Kiay, and I accepted your challenge for a reason," the boy said, and then changed his tone in to a low murmur. "I am so not going to make this easy for you."
The moment he said that, something flashed in Korra's memory. She saw a scene in which the same boy stood by another man, smiling and having a friendly chat. A young woman in dark clothes came over to them and Korra identified her as another of the people from the group in the corner of the bar. The other man she saw seemed familiar too, but Korra could not remember from where. The woman offered the man and Kiay of the vision something in her hand, but before Korra could identify it, her mind jumped back to the present.
Swords clashed. Kiay and Sanso were holding each sword against the other's. Kiay let go and swerved to the side, causing Sanso to tumble forward. He easily got up, but Kiay was ready and struck him, his right sword forced against the foe's and the left raised behind him, held tight in his hand. But instead of watching the intense fight on the raised platform, Korra saw a different scene. A man and a young boy were dueling with Dual Dao swords. All Korra could see of them was their constantly moving shadows. A door opened nearby and Korra saw the same familiar man from before, but he was looking worried. He ran towards the two fighting figures and drew a wall of earth out between them. The younger of the duelers attempted to climb over and shouted, but the man lit his hand with fire and shook his head firmly. At that moment, Korra's heart skipped a beat as she remembered who the familiar man was. It was Avatar Roku.
Back in the ring in the bar, Kiay knocked one of Sanso's swords out of his hand, and it skittered away and off the platform.
"I can still fight with one sword," he said through gritted teeth. He struck Kiay, holding his only sword with two hands.
Kiay parried him with crossed swords, and with the left one, he forced Sanso's single sword back. Sanso attempted to hold it off, but the strength of the attack bended Sanso's hand back and Sanso yelled with pain. He dropped his sword and fell to his knees. Kiay crossed his swords over Sanso's neck and raised it with a slightly smug look on his face.
"That's what you get for challenging the greatest swords master!" someone called from near the stands by the bar.
Murmurs of agreement passed through the bar. Kiay uncrossed his swords and placed them back in the cases on his back and walked back off the platform. Sanso remained on his knees in the center. Just then, the waitress arrived with a tray of drinks. As she placed the first drink in front of Korra, the four of them turned back to their table, looking slightly stunned.
"Don't worry," she said, smacking a cup of lychee juice in front of Bolin. "We get this a lot. Kiay's been here for a long time, and he's won every challenge."
"Impressive," Mako remarked. "He beat that guy in no time."
"He's really..." Bolin started, but did not complete his sentence.
"Old," Korra said quietly.
"What?" Asami and Mako said together, surprised.
Korra sipped her water from her glass, got up slowly and walked towards the group of people, where Kiay stood at that moment. He turned and looked back at her.
"I know you," Korra said, her voice sounding far away.
"We've never met," Kiay said firmly.
"Come on, Kiay," a young woman standing just by them spoke to him with a silvery voice. "She's the Avatar. Seriously. You guys used to be best mates."
Korra's eyes widened when she realized the speaker looked exactly like the young woman in her vision. Kiay gave her an angry look.
"Quiet, Midori!" he hissed. "Are you going to give away all our secrets?"
"Midori," Korra repeated the name. The name had a familiar ring to it.
"Heya, girl," said another person standing not far from them. Korra noticed he was drunk and looked about her age. He threw a knife at a target at the wall with a wave, and it landed spot in the middle.
Kiay looked furious. "Zeake!" He scolded the other boy by saying his name.
"Oh, lay it down, Kiay," another woman said. She looked older than the others and had a deeper voice. "Prince bad-eggs always wanted me to rush after that airbender that I'm actually glad I get to see him again without making him run away."
At this, Korra saw another scene. The same woman was riding on the back of a strange mole-like animal.
"Where's your shirshu?" Korra asked without knowing what she meant, but as she said the words, she knew it made sense.
"I don't know," the woman replied, sounding slightly worried.
Kiay was fuming. "I'm sorry, Avatar Korra, but we can't enjoy your company any more!" he told Korra, looking angrily at his friends.
Korra understood. She walked away to her own friends and sat down.
"Let's go," she said.
"Why?" Mako asked. "Korra, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she lied. "I'm a bit surprised, that's all. Let's go," she repeated and stood, finishing the last drops of water in her cup.
* * * * *
Korra was sitting by the small dock on Air Temple Island, deep in thoughts. Asami walked over to her.
"Korra," she said, putting a hand on her friend's shoulder. "You should get inside. It's cold out here."
"I'm sorry for being unclear before, Asami," Korra said in response.
"What are you talking about?" Asami asked, sitting next to Korra.
"Beforehand. I was having these strange visions. It really lists myself for a bit."
"You're the Avatar, Korra! Haven't you had these strange visions before?"
"Yeah, but it's more than that," she said seriously. "I've been disconnected from my past lives for over three years already. Why am I suddenly getting visions?"
"Maybe that means you're regaining your connection with your past lives!" said Asami brightly.
"I don't think so," said Korra, sounding slightly miserable. "It was as if the people there raised those visions in my mind."
"But," Asami said, troubled, "if they knew Roku, how can they still be alive today?"
"It's all really weird for me. I ..." Korra faltered. "Asami, I think I need some time to think this over."
Asami nodded. She stood again and walked back to the temple. Korra waited a short while in silence.
"Aang," she said in a small voice. "I wish you were here to help me."
Korra put her hand over her chest, and the spirit of Raava glowed through her.
"Do not fear, Korra," Raava told her. "I believe that soon we will find a solution."
"I hope so," Korra whispered.
She raised her eyes to the spirit portal longingly.
* * * * *
A girl walked down a dark corridor with paced steps. She did not hesitate and stop out of fear of the dark, and had lit an orange flame in her hand. She reached a door, and attempted to open it by its handle, but it was locked. She forced her weight against it, but the door wouldn't budge. The flame in her hand grew larger, and she then slashed it at the door, which burned away quickly. The girl smiled contently. She pushed her way through the flaming wooden remains of the door.
To be continued, soon...
- This is the first time since Book One: Air that all three of the original Fire Ferrets players play together.
- Four different Avatars are mentioned in this chapter.
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