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|An Ancient Enemy|
Air. Water. Earth. Fire.
After a long, fulfilled and yet exhausting life, Avatar Korra passed, being succeeded by Sari of the Earth Kingdom, who died early and didn't play a role in history.
The current Avatar is Asura of the Fire Nation, who mastered the elements quickly.
Although she thought she would never play an important role in history, she was proven wrong when the black ships arrived. The first one came in peace, but all the following carried a deadly load: WAR.
A war even the Avatar and her allies can barely end, one that threatens to consume the worlds involved.
And the question everyone asks is: Will there still be a world, a mankind to save?
Previously in Avatar: The War of the Worlds
The Team arrives in Ba Sing Se, meets Princess Shen-Lin and, later, her father Earth King Ruyi, at whose behalf they investigate the Dai Li.
In the Library
Rock gloves rained at the two soldiers and sore through books and scrolls that had survived centuries, destroying every single one. The book the two had found last still was intact, and the two were well armed but hopelessly outnumbered.
"So how do you plan to defeat the Dai Li, oh great master of military plans?", Zolu, whom Mike had borrowed his revolver, shouted sarcastically. Mike's answer were three well aimed shots that struck down three Dai Li agents, who, much to the former's dismay, didn't seem to be affected by the bullets at all.
"Nope. Not a slightest idea.", the Grand Admiral shouted back to the swordsman ducking again at the base of the bookshelf. As he reloaded the rifle he had owned for nearly a decade, he noticed the Dai Li agents at the ceiling who sped to cut off the two officers' only route of escape. The two came under heavy bombardment from both sides, only barely avoiding the rock gloves and the boulders that came soaring their way.
"Come on lads, your target practice should really be better!", Rong's voice could be heard through the noise of the battle. Mike and Zolu stared at each other and cursed, before the former shouted, "Hey, you know, could I have my Webley again? I think this will be more the 'melee' type of combat... "
Zolu glanced around and saw they were being surrounded by the Dai Li agents, in their peaceful patrolling stance, but he threw the handgun nonetheless. Halfway between the two of them, it was caught in a rock glove and directed to the rock glove's launcher. But the hand which had thrown the rock glove was shot through by one Mike, who caught the falling revolver in the same second, while Zolu jerked up and unsheathed his sword in the process. The two of them now stood back-to-back in the greatest library in the entire Earth Kingdom, surrounded by two dozens of Dai Li agents led by the Earth Kingdom's Crown Prince.
"Game. Over.", the latter's voice sounded from above, before he let go of the ceiling and intending to land between the two soldiers, but Zolu's blade was faster and cut deep into the Crown Prince's foot, whose owner winced in pain as he landed. Throwing a smoke grenade to the ground, Mike increased the Dai Li agents' confusion as the two of them sped out, urged to get to their temporary home in the Upper Ring.
Shen-Lin was waiting in the car she had "borrowed" a few days before. No one else was sitting in there with her, or at least not yet, as Zolu and Mike came hurrying out of the building she was waiting in front of, which was a library. Mike seated himself beside her and attached the bayonet to his rifle while Zolu cried out, "Get us - in Koh's realm - out of here!"
The setting sun drowned everything and everyone into a reddish light, and provided enough light to see the streets clearing. She turned on the headlights and drove the car off to the Upper Ring slowly, where they would sum up the results of their first day of gathering information about the Dai Li in their common temporary home, but soon she had to accelerate as her brother's henchmen showed up behind. The agents sided on their rock shoes with little to no effort as fast or even faster than the car and tried to stop it with earth columns, but being designed even to resist a weak mine's detonation, the car was only barely affected by the earthbending. More and more agents sped up to catch up with the car, and shot their rock gloves through the windows to immobilise Shen-Lin. She managed to duck in time, but the Dai Li were prepared for it and so, a second one caught her in the neck and thrust her head against the steering wheel, as, somewhere in the Lower Ring, a siren sounded to warn the lower class citizens there about the oncoming bombing raid. Mike wanted to help her, but was confronted with a problem of his own, a Dai Li agent by his window who tried to suffocate the Grand Admiral by using his rock glove, while Zolu steered the vehicle from the rear, trying to shake the agents off. In the distance, the first bombs detonated as Mike succeeded in kicking the Dai Li agent between his legs, which resulted in immense pain for the agent and caused him to fall off the wall and continue rolling, wincing in pain. However, there still was their unconscious driver and another dozen of agents who pursued them. Mike took control of the car while Zolu tried something very risky: he took the Space Sword and struck against the - by this time three - rock gloves, breaking them into rubble and thus freeing the Earth Kingdom Princess from her bonds. Zolu climbed over the seat Shen-Lin had been sitting and shoved her to the right to get access to the driver's seat, from where he could see the little distance between them and the immense wall they were approaching. Just in time, a small gate opened by earthbending and let them, but also the Dai Li agents, pass and enter the Upper Ring. There, the agents were much more successful and cut their way off by erecting a massive wall themselves, through which the car broke, causing it severe damage. The car had broke axles, the roof had been ripped off and a leak in the petrol tank were just the major damage the vehicle had suffered, and it continued moving without its wheels, which had taken off on their own, and when it came to a still stand, the two conscious passengers found themselves surrounded by a dozen of Dai Li agents, who prepared to fire their rock gloves. Mike told Zolu to cover his ears and eyes before he threw a stun grenade to immobilise them for a few seconds, as he mirrored Zolu's action. It showed itself effective and gave the two a chance to recover Shen-Lin and get her away from the car. When they had walked ten metres, Zolu caught sight of the small pool of petrol beneath the car, stole one of Mike's grenade and threw it there, which ignited the petrol's gases and resulted in a surprisingly big explosion.
"Could you help me with her once you've reduced the entire planet to rubble?", Mike joked a few seconds after the detonation.
"Course I can!", Zolu replied, grabbing Shen-Lin's feet to ease carrying her, asking curiously, "Back then, when we first met Earth King Ruyi, you mentioned a weapon 'our planet doesn't know yet'... What does it look like and what kind of weapon is it, this... Nuclear bomb?"
The Grand Admiral evaded the question and instead urged him to hurry, answering he would do it at home. Unbeknownst to them, a Dai Li agent watched them closely from a close roof.
Big Brother is watching you
Mike watched Kiruya as she searched the unconscious Shen-Lin for injuries, and as she hadn't found any in an hour of search, she stated, "She completely fine, she just needs to recover from the rock glove hits. Oh, and, by the way, how are your bullet wounds?"
"Kiruya! You're not my- I mean, you're- Ugh, nevermind, they're healing fine! They're four months old!"
"Not my problem then... ", the waterbender replied, drying her hands and going out of the room, leaning in while ordering, "Oh, and someone should watch out for Dai Li agents this night! Considering how bad you've beaten 'em up, they'd want revenge."
Following her order, Mike grabbed the two of his guns, his binoculars and a torch light, heading for the house's front door, when Malu interrupted him while stuffing her mouth with a fruit pie, "You should go out a rather unconventional way... The entire house's being watched, oh, and you should always have a patrol partner... "
Mike closed the front door he already had opened, sat across her at table, trying to choose between various dishes of the Four Nations, asking casually, "And who would that be?"
Malu tried only to choose vegetarian dishes, took a kind of doughnut, bit into it and grimaced at the taste of fish stuffing, muttering something like, "Spirits! Damn the Water Tribe.", and decided to eat it up, before she asked him in reply, "Who would like to patrol with?"
Mike, in this case a polar opposite to Malu, tried only to choose meat and side dishes, answering, as she before, in a question, "I don't know. Where's everyone anyway?"
The Air Nomad, being full, stumbled to her room's door, and answered yawning, "Doing the same as do now. Trying to get some rest."
Mike decided to get out through a roof-light, after which he climbed to the rooftop and reloaded both his guns. Hours passed, clouds covered the skies and bomb raids on the Lower Ring darkened the Grand Admiral's mood, who watched the big garden in their backyard and the surrounding roofs anxiously for a few hours, until he finally fell asleep with his rifle in aiming position, his left hand holding an ammunition clip, with the bullets' points digging into his flesh. The risen sun and Zolu poking him with his sword's sheath awoke him, which made him realise he had slid almost the entire roof down during sleep, and that it was almost noon.
"Fairly well slept, haven't you?", Zolu asked him, not stopping poking him.
The Grand Admiral grunted, walked to the roof's edge and swung himself in through the window beneath it, right into his messy room. There, he let go of all his heavier equipment including his rifle, and opened the door to the corridor, where Zolu already had waited to poke him again, but this time, Mike was faster and drew his handgun, which he aimed at Zolu's head, saying, "I dare you! If you do it once again before I had breakfast, I'll kill you!"
Zolu stopped fooling around and let him pass, shouting after him, "This way of warfare takes the style out of it!"
An hour later, five of them were roaming the Upper and Middle Ring of Ba Sing Se, with Kiruya left with Mike's armament to guard Shen-Lin. Zolu was behaving somewhat hyperactive and remarkably stupid that day, Mike still was tired and yawning all the time, Luo couldn't get his eyes off roofs that surrounded them, while Malu was peering around every corner for something interesting, and Asura just enjoyed the fact the sun was shining, seemingly ignoring everything else. And then there was Mike, walking in the back, not having had breakfast yet and complaining about everything that came to his mind. They were at a marketplace near the Lower Ring when sirens sounded, for the first time all over the city. Over the deafening noise the sirens and the people fleeing inside created, the engines of hundreds of aircraft could be heard, the Earth Kingdom Air Force attempting to keep them from reaching their targets, while the reason Luo had been watching the roofs all the time showed itself: ten Dai Li agents surrounded them, every present person in a fighting stance. The agents prepared to strike when four were hit in the back, each two by different kind of weaponry, two by ice spears and the other two by shuriken throwing stars, the launchers of both appearing in two side streets across each other. The six left agents now were outnumbered and sped off beneath the enormous wall, as a white gas crept over the ground, emerging from the detonated bombs. As a certain scent of garlic was noticeable, Mike cried out alarmed, "Mustard gas! We've got to go, fast!"
The poison gas crept over the grounds of the entire Impenetrable City and poisoned everything and everyone small enough to breathe it in. The seven of theirs ran as fast and long as their legs let them, which was halfway between the marketplace and their temporary home, where they encountered a small taxi.
"So we can't be certain of the Dai Li's connection to the Fire Nation?", Malu speculated at the Team's dinner table.
"Shush! My big brother is always watching, listening or both, so keep it quiet!", Shen-Lin interjected, cutting through a small bugging device she had pulled out from beneath the table with her katana.
"However, what concerns me more is the fact we've observed two different Dai Li leaders at the same time. I encountered that General Gao guy, and Shen-Lin, Mike and Zolu fought Rong.", Luo stated whispering.
"If a General is a part of this, it stretches further than we'd ever thought. Then a new conspiracy in Ba Sing Se's taking place and my last Air Nomad incarnation fought them for nothing.", Asura assumed.
"Whatever it is, we must hinder them. They already control the city and possibly want to control the whole Earth Kingdom and- wait, did you say 'Big Brother is watching us'?", Mike spoke, getting lost in his own thoughts, to which Shen-Lin showed him, besides the non-functional bugging device a - as well non-functional - surprisingly small observation camera, answering, "Pretty much yes, why?"
"Now this reminds me of this book I've read... I don't remember its title though, it was something like a year... However, I think we must eliminate their headquarters... but we can't do that alone..."
Another ancient enemy
A new day, new challenges, the former metalbending police officer thought as he awoke after a night of discussing. He had heard two of their group of seven leaving when the sun was yet to rise, and now he stumbled around in their living/dining room, trying to make himself a breakfast, as the four others who still were present did the same, but with a much higher speed and more experience. After half an hour of searching ingredients, he began to make himself a bowl of jook, which took him another hour due to his sleep-deprivation, he sat down to the table took his spoon and - the was a knock on the door. Grunting, he rose and walked wavering to the door to open it. There, a tall, dark haired woman dressed in a light-coloured robe stood, grinning widely - but the worst of it was: it was Shen-Lin. He shivered, having read about such servants of the Dai Li.
"Hello, Luo, I am Joo Dee and must infor-"
"Oh spirits, Shen-Lin! What the heck did they do to you?!", he interrupted her, which was met by an outburst of laughter coming from the outside and "Joo Dee" herself, which left Luo puzzled and angry.
"See? I told you he'd buy it.", the Princess told someone to her right.
"Uh, yeah, well... The thing is... I don't have fifty silver pieces... ", a voice sounded there, one that belonged to Mike.
"Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! We're in the middle of a war and- you play pranks on me when I haven't even eaten breakfast! I mean, seriously?", Luo shouted at them, waving his hands just before them and his face becoming red like a tomato.
"Yeah. You've got a problem with that?", Shen-Lin replied casually, cleaning first her hands and then her nails with one of her shuriken. Luo looked like he was about to destroy the entire impenetrable city at once, and walked to the table to finally eat the jook he had made himself. Laughter could now be heard from above, as the rest had observed the entire scene from there, and now was coming down.
"However, back to serious issues... The two of us had an audience with Ruyi early this morning in secret and he told us to put our investigations on ice, oh, and to focus on the task at hand - the aerial defence of Ba Sing Se. Therefore, Shen-Lin will introduce all of us to a new kind of fighter - the first ones in the entire Earth Kingdom - the jet fighter. It's, well, faster than any fight before. Well, on this planet.", Mike spoke, calming from his laughter.
As arranged, the Team and Shen-Lin gathered at an airfield in the Upper Ring, where seven aeroplanes were standing, ready to be flown into battle, faster than any enemy one.
"From today onwards, we, the Allies' air forces, are finally ahead of our ancient, more than two hundred year-old enemy, the Fire Nation Air Force! I present you the first jet fighter type in existence, from now onwards, air supremacy is ours!", an engineer spoke, welcoming the seven future pilots, leading them to the first one in the formation, "May I explain how to fly it?"
"No thanks, I believe we can figure it out on our own... ", Mike shoved him aside, climbing into the cockpit, where he caught a glance of all the instruments inside, of all features, and thought aloud, "That's like the Valkyrie! Just like an athmospherical, obsolete version of it! That's brilliant!"
Mike quickly explained the basics to Malu and Shen-Lin, but both seemed to know how exactly it was done, so he walked off to explain it to the other four, to whom he found the former two explaining. After an hour of getting ready for it, the little squadron of theirs was ready, and after a little quarrel for the leader position, in which Shen-Lin was, their aircraft's engines roared up.
"This is the first test flight of this type of aircraft and also the first use of our aviation intercom system. Good luck.", an engineer shouted over the engines, followed by the take-off of the seven aircraft in formation.
"Well, how 'bout a squadron name?", Zolu asked via intercom.
"Hm... Let me think... the Avatar's fist?", replied Mike as they accelerated and flew over the first wall of four.
"No, it sounds too threatening... Also, it should be code name... Like 'buffalo'... ", Asura thought aloud, and her thoughts were met with general accept.
"Well then, Buffalo One, Shen-Lin, responding."
"Buffalo Two, Malu, here, over."
"Buffalo Three, Mike, present."
"Buffalo Four, Zolu, ready and waiting."
"Buffalo Five, Kiruya, physical presence confirmed."
"Buffalo Six, Luo, awaiting further orders."
"Buffalo Seven, Asura, not really what I call missing... "
The small squadron then passed over the third wall, having left the urban part of the enormous Impenetrable City. This was, however, when they engaged what has taken the airships' of once place: one of the huge bomber wings, ready to sack the Lower Ring with poison gas.
Notes and Trivia
- For now, things with the Dai Li are cooling down, while the Fire Nation's coming closer, but BSS still is more or less safe. For now.
- The jet aircraft can be imagined to look pretty much like the Messerschmitt Me 262
- An ancient enemy. And a 200-year-old air force. Because... you know.
For the collective works of the author, go here.