Welcoming Party
Chapter information

Shadows of Equality



Written by


Release date

April 19, 2014

Last chapter

Chapter 5: The Gathered

Next chapter

Chapter 7: Reunion

"Okay, we'll see you after the tournament's over alright." Adi puts her arm on Binh's shoulder as the three girls prepare to leave after the rather interesting meeting.

"You mean after you win," he jokes as she playfully punches him in the arm.

"Oh yeah. No way we've come this far to lose. The Wolfbats won't know what hit them. You guys ready?" Adi turns to see Umi checking out the badgermoles the crews use to move their supplies through the tunnel system. "Hey Umi, let's go!"

"Coming." She stops momentarily to turn back to the two men handling the large animals. "Seriously guys, that's super cool. We'll talk later." She walks over to her team captain as they spot Ula laughing as she converses with a man with long black hair.

Adi lets out a sharp whistle as the earthbender takes notice and says her goodbyes, the man giving her a wink as she leaves, causing her to blush. "Sorry, I guess Soza and I kind of lost track of time."

"Soza? Well he seems nice, huh?" Umi jokes around as Ula brushes it off.

"We were just talking about how massive this whole thing is going to be. And that Captain guy."

"Yeah, that's what you were talking about," the waterbender sarcastically comments as the others continue.

"Yeah well, that guy is definitely something. It'll be interesting to see what they have in store for all of us." The firebender looks around, noting the diverse individuals present: men and women, bender and non-bender, combatants and engineers. "Anyway, don't worry bud we'll be back before you know it." Binh pauses before responding, trying to form the words in his head. "You alright?"

"You didn't tell them about my parents," he whispers so as not to alert anyone else.

"Listen, we don't know the whole story. I don't want these guys to go in there and someone gets hurt or worse. For now we play it safe and hopefully it won't come to that. Now you take care and we'll see you when we have the championship."

After the three pro-benders depart Binh sees Kiri talking to an older man who are in the middle of a discussion as they come his way. "I just don't see why you couldn't be bothered to tell me when the meeting was. You know I need to know what's going on at all times if I'm going to do the job you hired me for."

"I'll write up a transcript of the events and get them to you as soon as possible," the older man says in a sort of dry sarcasm as he continues to walk.

"You're joking right? You do realize that I keep the records of every thing that goes on in this base? How can I do that when you bar me from key meetings?"

"Kiri listen. According to the schedule, which you made for me I might add, I have a plethora of tasks that need to be overseen. And so I'd appreciate it if you'd let me get to it and we'll discuss this when I get around to it." He stops, noticing the young firebender a few feet from him. "Who are you?"

Binh tenses for a second before Kiri intercedes. "This is one of our new recruits. I handpicked him personally for some important tasks here on the base. I hope that's alright sir. Oh sorry, this is Commander Firuz and he's in charge of our operations."

The commander extends his hand to the youth and the two shake. "Good to have on board son. I look forward to seeing what you can do. Now if you two will excuse me there are some very urgent matters that have been called to my attention. Kiri can show you around."

As Firuz leaves a slightly annoyed Kiri turns her attention to the firebender. "Alright, Binh is it? How about I give you a tour of our facilities."

"Uh, sure."

"Great, we've got a lot to see here so stay close. It's pretty easy to get lost." What follows is an hour and a half walk around the base as Kiri shows him almost every inch of the large station. She eventually leads Binh to a set of doors and goes in first as he follows. Inside he sees a rather large room with a mid-level ceiling, the far side of the room has several rows of practice dummies, each with a target on the head, chest and one on each arm. "And here we have our training room. You can test your skills against others for some friendly competition and keep track of your scores and training hours in the log over on the wall. It's never closed so if you ever have trouble sleeping or just want to kill some time, feel free to come down." A few moments after she finishes a loud blast followed by a thick cloud of black smoke engulfs the other end of the hall. The two rush down to see a trio of men in gray overalls emerge from the room where the explosion originated.

The first of the three stops and notices Kiri giving them a disapproving look. "Ma'am I can explain."

"Please do."

"We'll we were experimenting with a new type of fuel for our vehicles and well...trial and error, you know."

"By the spirits." Kiri puts her head down and begins massaging her brow. "And these charming fellows are Daisuke," she introduces the first, dark-skinned man with his hair in a topknot. "Daigo," the second, with a black afro and mustache. "And Danzo," the last with his oddly colored crimson hair in a bowl cut. "They're our resident mechanics, though the positions may become available in the very near future."

"I think we're doing a pretty good job." A second, smaller explosion occurs seconds after Daigo's statement sending everyone ducking for cover. The three look back as a team has already been sent in to put out the fires.

"Right. This is Binh, he's one of our new recruits."

"Nice to meet you," Daisuke shakes his hand.

"Likewise," Daigo follows in the introductions.

"What they said," Danzo finishes, noticing the odd look the young man is giving him. "Oh the hair? Yeah, some new kind of dye. Thought it would attract the ladies but..."

"When he catches their eye it's for a completely different reason." Daigo jabs him in the shoulder.

"Worst fifty yuans I ever spent. And the stuff won't come out. Anyway, nice to meet you. Maybe we'll be working together soon." Another loud bang rings from the room, throwing two of the fire control crew out. "That is, once we get this under control. Bye." The trio dash back inside, shutting the door behind them.

"Shall we proceed?" Kiri leads Binh down the halls to finish their tour. "And there you have it. Every nook and cranny of the entire complex and last but not least the barracks where you'll be staying for now."

"Thanks for the tour ma'am."

"Please, call me Kiri. And you're welcome. I'll let you get accommodated. I know this and everyone here may take some getting used to but I can tell you'll fit right in." Binh takes the time to look around the room seeing everyone's bunks; their possessions tucked either under the beds or resting atop them, then looks down at his empty one. He wonders to himself what to do next, not really feeling tired despite all the exciting things going on. He takes a walk outside for another stroll about the compound until he finally reaches a walkway that bridges the gap between the two sections of the base with the small stream running underneath.

Binh notices the plants growing on the banks of the water and hops over the railing, sitting down by the water. He plucks a blade of grass and puts it between his fingers. "Hey." A voice from above calls casually as a green clothed figure hops down and seats himself down next to Binh. "My names Seok."

"Binh." The two shake hands.

"You one of the new recruits?"

"Something like that. So, what do you think of this place?"

"Pretty interesting to say the least. Me and my buddies got called up so it's not all bad. At least I have somebody here I know. How about you?"

"I've got some friends but they won't be back for a while though."

"Oh yeah? That's cool. By the way what are you doing down here?"

Binh holds the blade of grass in his hand, straightening it between his fingers. "Ah, it's just something I used to do as a kid. My friends and me would take one of these, make a wish on it and set it down in the stream by my house and if it made it all the way down the channel you get your wish. I guess I'm still kind of a kid." He looks at the grass feeling a bit embarrassed for having admitted it.

Seok just seats back and laughs a bit. "Yeah, but that's not always a bad thing." He pulls a blade out for himself. "So how does this work?"

Binh gives a bright smile. "You just take it in your hands, close your eyes, make a wish, and drop in in the water." He follows the process as the two watch their respective leaf hit the water. Seok's gets snagged on a plant as it makes it's way and Binh's ends up resting on top of a rock.

"Ha, maybe next time. So what did you wish for?" Before he can answer red lights flash throughout the base followed by a booming alarm. Seok stands up as his friends Husam and Hasook rush across the bridge. "Come on, we got to go."

"Well, time to do what we got paid for. Come on!" Seok helps the boy up as the two rush off toward the main hall.

Meanwhile, at one the Agni Kai's bases, Azla is getting used to her new leadership role while her new subordinates are still getting used to taking orders from a twelve year old girl. She sits at the desk, a little short for her as her new second in command, Shoren, steps into the room with a stack of papers in his hand. "Is that all of them?"

"Yes ma'am. Every arrival and departure in the time frame you requested. I just..." Shoren stops himself as Azla takes notice.

"You have a problem?" She gives him a slightly raised eyebrow.

"Not that I'm questioning you. I suffered under that idiot Zhong for years, so I appreciate you removing him, but what you're asking is like finding a needle in a hay stake. Even if the person you're looking for stayed in Republic City for this long, we get new arrivals every other day. I just don't think your first act as new leader should be to expend resources looking for someone who may or may not still be in the city at all."

Azla sits back in the large chair, glaring at the older man. "What aren't you telling me Shoren?"

"Nothing." She notices a small bit of sweat on his face as well as his nervous movements.

"Your body betrays your words lieutenant. I believe that you know more about this situation than you'd like me to know. If you don't wish to end up like your former boss, I suggest you spill whatever it is you are attempting to hide." The two exchange a long steady stare. Despite his years of experience and training, Shoren finds he is no match for this child. Not even in his mind can he find the words to describe the pressure she seems to exert on him, the calm in both her words and actions. Finally he is forced to concede.

"Alright." he looks down dejectedly. "The truth is..." Just then the office door swings open, one of the other triad members rushing in.

"Ma'am, Equalists are in the building. They're all over the place." The young man points outward as the two dash out of the room to see the Agni Kai battling it out with the anti-benders as they storm through the windows of the facility.

"We will finish this discussion," Azla says staring intently at the enemy all around them.

"Fair enough."

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