|By Arthur Keane||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
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May 15, 2013
Qev took one shuddering breath, then another. The funeral had just ended and the crowds were finally dispersing.
Aunt Yun stood. "Do you want to drive home with me?" she asked softly.
Qev shook his head. The conflicting emotions punched each other out in his head, making him feel like he was splitting into two different people: The one who blamed himself and the one who blamed the criminal.
Aunt Yun bent down and kissed him on the forehead softly. "Be careful, then."
Qev waited until he heard the car pull away to let the first tear fall. His neck started to hurt, but he didn't do anything about it.
"Wink didn't kill your parents," came a rough voice from behind him.
Qev jumped and turned, immediately stepping into a defensive stance. How did he sneak up on me so fast? Qev asked himself. Although the man was stealthy, he was also huge. His shoulders were broad and his hands were almost as large as Qev's head.
"Then who did?"
"Probably one of the Grey Lady assassins."
Qev's eyes narrowed. "And how would you know better than the police?"
The man grinned under his short beard, throwing off the hood he was wearing to reveal a bald scalp.
"Because the police don't even know I exist. They're paid off by the Grey Lady triad."
Qev frowned. "Prove it."
TWO YEARS LATER
Qev's muscles burned from the lactic acid as he faced the next set of opponents.
"Come on," he complained, throwing one masked sparring partner over his shoulder into another. "At least make me fight someone who isn't new at this."
His teacher, Mio, laughed. "Maybe when your times on the obstacle courses get a little better."
"How does an obstacle course have anything to do with fighting?" Qev responded incredulously, before having to switch his focus back to the fight to dodge the bo staff that almost caught him in the shoulder.
Mio thought for a second, then shrugged. "You've mastered unarmed combat. This is more for their sake than anything."
Qev ducked under a sword and swept the assailant's legs out from under them. "That's great to know."
In the two years since Qev's loss of his parents, Mio had become as close to a father as anything he'd had--probably closer to Qev than his real father had been, though Qev would never admit it. Republic City had been shocked by Qev's disappearance, but Qev had seen no other choice once Mio had proved the Metalbending Police Force's duplicity.
The old Avatar had died less than a week or two after Qev's disappearance. Though they couldn't prove anything, Mio (or Sifu Mio, as Qev called him) suspected a plot. The new Avatar was a young girl from the Foggy Swamp Tribe. Mio's agents said that she was a decent bender already (she was only about Qev's age) but that the wool was pulled over her eyes so far that any attempt to speak truth to her would probably result in an investigation.
Mio pulled out a pair of nunchuks. "Here," he called as he tossed them to Qev. "Try these."
Qev caught them. "Sifu, you know I suck at these."
Mio grinned. "I know. Get better."
Qev took a deep breath and started practicing.
Avatar Kalii was sitting in a plush chair, admiring the softness.
An officer walked into her room. "Avatar, I think we have a lead on the Necros triad."
Kalii stood and tossed her hair. "Finally."
The officer frowned. "Do you want to assist the strike team, miss?"
Kalii laughed. "Just because I only have water and earth learned doesn't mean I'm a wimp. And I'm not a country bumpkin just because I'm from the Foggy Swamp Tribe."
The officer turned red. "I meant no offense."
Kalii stroked his cheek. "I know you didn't. Now, let's go find those smuggled weapons."
With that the fifteen-year-old strutted her way out, her thin hips snaking from side to side more than they would normally. The officer's back relaxed and he smiled, walking out slowly.
"Do you think she suspects?" asked "Brick" Mok, from his hiding place, the ornate mirror in the corner.
The officer's smile widened. "Not a thing, boss."
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