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|Return of the Lost|
November 8, 2016
Previously on Fire of the Red Lotus
Zaheer and the other high members of the Red Lotus are successful at capturing the Avatar. They manage to take her from her house despite defense from Fire Lord Zuko, Chief Tonraq and Councilman Tenzin. P'Li confirms the identity of the girl, and Zaheer is elated at the completion of the first stage of their mission.
This is Chapter 2 of my third fanon, Fire of the Red Lotus. I hope you enjoy reading it.
I had a lot of fun writing this chapter, because I was thinking of all the ways it could go, but I settled on this one that gives you some information into the future but not a lot. Warning though, I suck at writing action scenes, and there are two of them in this chapter. If you can suffer through them, I'll see you on the other side.
Chapter 1: Return of the Lost
"There is no way that my children are going to be placed into the line of fire, Tarrlok! You keep your hands off of them, and keep them out of your twisted plans!"
The bellowing of Tenzin, the master airbender, was heard throughout City Hall. However, his anger was justified, as Councilman Tarrlok had just suggested creating a task force designed to looking for the Avatar - that included Tenzin's children, none of whom had reached their teenage years.
Granted, not a single expedition, journey nor adventure into the Southern Water Tribe granted any results, so it was within the councilman's leisure to grasp at straws. But Tenzin would not have those straws involve his children.
"Tenzin, you fail to see my point," Tarrlok said. "I merely suggested adding your children to the section of a task force that would be based in Republic City."
"And who is taking charge of this task force, Tarrlok?"
"Well, I can't think that anyone else should take on the burden -"
"Who would be there to stop you from using this task force to your own ventures? What would happen to my children?" thundered Tenzin. "I agree with making a task force to search for the Avatar, but there is no way I am letting my children join, even if this council votes for it!"
Tarrlok sighed. Tenzin was becoming slightly too melodramatic for his causes. "Noted. Now, shall we put it to a vote? The creation of a new task force, whose sole purpose is to search for the Avatar, under my control."
At once, everyone in the room raised their hand. Tenzin breathed heavily, his outburst costing him much in the way of health. He walked up to Tarrlok. "I apologize if I seemed angry, but, as you know, a father must protect his children. I will see you tomorrow."
Tarrlok chuckled. "Think nothing of it. I understand completely."
At home, Tenzin slumped onto the couch, completely exhausted from the day's work. Within minutes, Pema, Meelo, Jinora and Ikki had returned from their daily activities in the city and joined him in relaxing.
"How was work today, honey?"
Tenzin sighed. No matter how many times Pema would ask that question, the answer would remain the same. "It's been fine. Tarrlok was ... difficult, but there's been no change. How's the hospital? Any change in the victims?"
Pema shook her head slowly. "No. More benders have been losing their bending, their memory ... What type of person takes away bending? I can't imagine not being able to bend ..."
Tenzin immediately got up and developed his wife in a hug. "Hey, be quiet. You're not going to lose anything. We're going to protect you."
Pema began to cry in his arms, and Tenzin wondered, not for the first time nor the last, where in the world the Avatar was.
It took P'Li 2 hours to sufficiently conclude Karana's training. She slumped inside the cave and let out a long breath. "She's strong. You have done well with her."
Zaheer shifted in his corner of the cave. "I have learned from some of the greatest benders and weapons masters of the old age. I learned from the son of Councilman Sokka himself. And I have passed those gifts on to our young warrior."
"I know. She has been able to fight Ghazan, Ming-Hua and myself. Of course, we were not using our full strength, but she is still powerful."
Zaheer sighed, and replied, "Guru Laghima once said that only the student can defeat the master. I guess we shall see if it is my time to be defeated."
Zaheer stepped outside. Ghazan was nursing his right arm, a by product of the girl's spirited attacks with earthbending. And Ming-Hua had been so thoroughly defeated that she struggled to pull her phantom arms together, even while sitting in a puddle of water.
Ghazan looked up. "She's really good. You better watch yourself." Zaheer chuckled, and responded, "We'll see if she's good enough to be initiated. She's done it quicker than most, but she still needs to go up against a real master."
Ghazan nodded up ahead, and said sarcastically, "Go get 'em, tiger." He and Ming-Hua walked off into the cave.
The girl was meditating. Zaheer loved to see her meditate, as opposed to when she was a child and would scream death threats or attack Red Lotus members who tried to get her to meditate for a few minutes. Now, she was able to do it for hours on end, while still remaining aware of her surroundings.
Zaheer shifted slightly in his position to signal that he was ready for her final test. The girl, without making any motion to accept that she had heard it, rose from her position. Words were not necessary. She had been training in this manner for 14 years.
The girl sank into a low tiger pose, preparing for Zaheer's first strike. Zaheer did the same, but his pose was slightly different. For this battle, the girl was not allowed to bend, and Zaheer would restrict himself to only flesh wounds, no fatal shots.
Zaheer struck first this time, initiating the battle with a low sweeping kick followed by a barrage of punches. The girl dodged well, rolling back on her hands and landing on her feet. Using her agile frame, she ducked all of the punches that Zaheer threw, and clocked him right in the jaw, jarring him.
Zaheer tipped his head, and began another series of attacks, that involved complicated leaps and jumps, to throw off the opponent. He would fake more times than the girl could keep track of, and always threw in a punch here and there, just to keep her on her toes. At the end of it, he was breathing heavily, but she was untouched.
Once Zaheer was tired enough, the girl went on an offensive of her own. Because of her smaller frame, she was able to bypass many of the defenses that Zaheer had, and with her hardened muscle, each blow that landed dealt a lot of pain. With one swift punch, she knocked Zaheer on his back, and stood over him, prepared for the final strike.
At the moment when the tension in the air was nearly material, she cracked a smile, and helped Zaheer up. Zaheer clapped her on the back. "Just so you know, I wasn't going at my full strength." He led her into the cave, and as Ghazan, saw the smile on Zaheer's face, he started clapping.
"Congratulations, little girl! I was the only one who thought you could make it. Speaking of which, Ming-Hua!" The call that came from Ming-Hua was tinged with annoyance. "What do you want?" "You owe me a hundred yuan," came the reply.
Zaheer faced the girl. "Congratulations are in order, young one. Today, you become the youngest and most proficient member of the Red Lotus. Your initiation is complete. As per Red Lotus rules, you have a choice of selecting your name. Your name will define your purpose, your personality and your character. Choose wisely, because it cannot be rescinded. What would you like it to be?"
For the first time since her initiation began, the girl spoke. "My name is Korra. Avatar Korra."
The two men at the door knocked eagerly on the hard wood until Tenzin opened the door. "May I help you?"
The taller one replied, "Maybe you can. You see, we heard about the task force designed to find the Avatar, and we would like to be a part of it. Are you accepting volunteers?"
Tenzin eyed the two boys. Judging from the smears on their clothing, as well as their stench, he assumed that they were homeless, living in the street. The taller one wore an aviator's jacket, with a red scarf around his shoulder. He held himself with authority, which, coming from a homeless person, was quite rare.
The other man looked a lot goofier. He had a jacket in the same style as the first man's, with a smile on his face. There was also a fire ferret sitting on his shoulder, for some particular reason. Tenzin sighed. "I guess we could take you boys in, since we don't exactly have people lining up to join. Why do you want to be a part of this, however?"
The taller one shrugged. "We want to do our city and the world a service. It's our duty as citizens." Tenzin raised a quizzical brow, which prompted the shorter one to slump his shoulders. "And we need the cash, bad. You know Hiroshi Sato, the billionaire who went out of business a couple of weeks ago?"
Tenzin nodded. The shorter continued, "Yeah, well Lovebird to my right was engaged to his daughter. Now that we're all living on the street, I guess its up to us to find a way to support ourselves while Sato looks for a job somewhere."
Tenzin relents, saying, "All right, you boys can join. Go inside. Councilman Tarrlok will be waiting to brief you and the other members of your team. Oh, and what are your names?"
The taller one was about to respond, until the shorter one cut him off. "I'm Bolin, and this is my older brother Mako. You know, the one engaged to Asami Sato." He ran off, barely stifling his laughter.
Mako rolled his eyes. Tenzin chuckled a bit to himself, and began to walk inside. Before he could walk completely inside, Mako grabbed his arm and looked him dead in the eyes. "If we don't get back, if we don't make it ... give our salaries to Hiroshi Sato." Tenzin nodded gravely, and led Mako inside.
They walked through the hallways until they reached an iron door. Tenzin rapped on the door in precise motions, and a guard came to the door. "Councilman Tenzin, welcome again." The door opened into a control room with the most modern tracking devices, transport vehicles and weapons.
Tenzin breathed out of his nose as Tarrlok approached him. "Welcome back Tenzin. I see you've found us two new recruits. May I borrow them to brief them?"
Tenzin jerked his head, a sign to Tarrlok that he should take Mako and Bolin. He led them away from the main control center into a secondary room, filled with soldiers in a straight line. Most of them held some sort of weapon, but many of them were benders, just as Mako and Bolin. There was an even spread of soldiers from each nation, as signified by the emblem stitched into their green outfits.
The captain interrupted his own briefing when he saw the Mako and Bolin led by Tarrlok. He let them get into line, before continuing. "As I was saying, we have very little information on the position of the Avatar, or the people that captured her. Thanks to Councilman Tenzin and the White Lotus, we have been able to determine that the party who captured the Avatar is called the Red Lotus."
"The Red Lotus is a global organization. They have spies all over the world, infiltrating organizations to further the Red Lotus' goals. The Red Lotus aims to spread discord and chaos throughout the world with the destruction of world leaders. Anarchy would soon follow. As the Red Lotus have branded themselves: 'The natural order is disorder'."
The captain sighs. "14 years ago, they captured the Avatar, fighting off over 50 White Lotus soldiers, Councilman Tenzin, Fire Lord Zuko and Water Chief Tonraq. We have not found a new Avatar yet, so we can only assume that she is alive and training with them."
Bolin meekly raised his hand, the first motion he made since the beginning of the monologue. "Uh sir, you said the goal of the Red Lotus was to create chaos, right? So why would they keep the Avatar around? Why wouldn't they just kill her?"
The captain turns to him, and says, "That's a great question, son. The reason that we think they haven't done so is because they need a strong figurehead to lead their operations. An Avatar, controlled by the Red Lotus, would be immeasurably powerful. With a person like that leading their charge, they would be impossible to stop. We do think that they will follow up on their goals, however. We suspect that once they have removed all world leaders from power, they would kill the Avatar in her Avatar State. With the Avatar out of the way forever, they are free to let the world descend into madness. That's why we need to capture her."
Mako punches his palm. "Then why are we standing around? You have information; give it to us. We can storm a fortress with the number of people we have here. Let's take them out!"
The captain walked over to Mako, and stared him down. "You need a lesson from your brother in staying calm, and asking questions." He straightened. "Nevertheless, we don't have any leads on that front. All we need is some information as to where she is, where she's going, or where she came from. That's all we need."
Zaheer directed Korra towards the little village. Even from out at sea, Korra could hear screaming, fire blazing and see smoke trailing up from houses.
Korra turned to Zaheer. "What do you want me to do? Seems like our men are already hard at work."
Zaheer kept his gaze focused on the burning village. "Those aren't our men. They don't work with us. I want you to take them out." He finally looked Korra in the eyes. "Remember what I told you, about our aims? This is your chance to prove your worth. Make us believe that you want to be a part of our new social order. And I promise you, we will reward you handsomely."
Korra nodded. "I got it," she said. "Take out those guys, save the village. It's my chance to show you how much you've meant to me. I won't let you down, Zaheer."
With a strong leap, Korra jumped off of the small, two sail boat she was on and into the water. Surging off the surface a second after she entered the murky depths, she began to speed towards shore, making a beeline for the village. Behind her, Zaheer almost wiped a tear from his cheek.
Korra reached shore in quick time, aided by her bending the water behind her to create two torrential vortices. Once she reached land, she surveyed the situation in an instant.
The village was made in neat rows and columns of buildings, with a large building at the west side, to Korra's right, serving as the communal hall for important activities. The attackers came from this end, hoping to sever the head of the serpent and let it die. They weren't counting on armed resistance from the Earth Kingdom village. Regardless, the attackers were skilled enough to defend their position, and were slowly able to move throughout the village and destroy more buildings.
All this Korra took in. Without a moment's hesitation, she charged the closest attacker. "Get out of here!" she grunted, as she fired a series of rocks at him. Caught off guard, the attacker dropped like a brick in the center of the village. All of the attackers disposed of their opponents and ran towards Korra, some throwing their respective element and others attacking her with weapons.
Korra smirked. In one move, she erected an earth wall that blocked the majority of the attacks directed towards her. Fire, water, earth and metal weapons alike tried to break down the wall, and failed. To deal with the attacks that flew in over the top of the wall or were from different directions, Korra encased herself in a ball of fire so hot that the water steamed when it hit the surface, the rocks melted into mud and the weapons burst into flames.
A woman, severely beaten, looked up at Korra in awe. "You - you saved us," she breathed. "Thank you." Korra flashed her a quick smile, and jumped into the water, speeding away from the village in the same way she had come.
Just as the captain finished speaking, an associate barged into the room with some paper in her hand. "This just came in on one of our radios."
The captain took one quick look at the file and called everyone to the front of the room. "All right everyone, this is our chance. We just got some information as to where the Avatar is. Seems like she just saved a village here - " he pointed to a red dot near Full Moon Bay " - from some invaders. That's where we'll be looking for the Avatar."
The captain turned around to face the soldiers. "The Red Lotus is arguably the most powerful terrorist organization in the world. You all are taking a huge risk upon yourselves, but I trust that you will perform to the best of your abilities. This is not just about yourselves, or even about Republic City. This is about the world, and what would happen to it if the Red Lotus gained control. That's why we're doing this."
Now that you've read my atrocious action sequences, I would like to thank everyone who helped me get to 300 views on all my stories this month so far, and getting almost 150 on The Desire for Honor. I appreciate your continued support.
Remember, there's a chapter for Kun: The New Avatar coming out this Saturday, so don't miss it. I'll see you in the next chapter.
For the collective works of the author, go here.