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Earth, Fire, Air, Water.
Only the Avatar can master all four elements. Unfortunately, the Avatar is never around enough and the world needs her. There is a depression ravaging civilization, leaving thousands to go hungry and go mad. The Avatar is too busy resolving international disputes and spirit conflicts to help the common man. In times like these, real heroes will rise from the ordinary folk and try to restore peace and prosperity to the world.
High up in the Attic of the old hotel, Anil slept in a hammock swinging from side to side. He began to dream. He remembered the days when he was just a boy in the town of Johtan on Whale Tail Island. Anil had three brothers, one sister, and he was the youngest. His father and brothers worked the trade of fishermen since their town lay near the coast. He dreamt that he still lived on Whale Tail Island but was interrupted when a loud radio boomed in the room.
"Wakey Wakey! Eggs and Bakey!!" Baijin walked and turned on the radio. "Come on man it's time get up. We've got things to do."
Anil fell out of the hammock then stood up. "What things?"
"You know..." Baijin paused "Like ... Eating breakfast and training airbending."
"Meelo's not here right now," Anil told Baijin.
"Well you could find a job again," Baijin suggested.
Anil sighed and started to put on his clothes. "Yeah, like we'll have any of those again," he said while removing his undergarments and hopping behind the shower curtain.
"How optimistic," Baijin remarked sarcastically.
"I don't know if you've noticed or not, but there aren't any jobs. The entire planet is in a depression. There's never enough cash, food, or any other basic necessity. The only jobs in existence are farming," Anil said before activating his shower.
"What's wrong with farming?" Li walked into the room and asked.
Anil peeped out of the curtain and explained to the two. "First of all, I'm an Air Nomad. Nomads don't farm. Garden maybe, but no farming. Second of all, land is expensive! A plot of land in former Air Nomad territory costs 70 Yuans per acre, near Republic City is 160, Earth Kingdom is between two and three hundred, and Fire Nation land is the most fertile so ... yeah," Anil ranted. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need some privacy."
The other two sighed and walked out of the room to let Anil get washed up. The two walked downstairs and met with Grei Naite and his brothers who sat around the tables eating breakfast. Warsh and Zed were arm wrestling while Dako kept stealing their food. For breakfast was the typical eggs and rooster bacon.
"Good morning lovebirds," Warsh joked and brought a few laughs to the room.
"That's not funny," Li scowled.
"You're not funny," Warsh remarked.
The rest of the room chuckled whilst Li grabbed some breakfast chow. Dako crawled over to Grei and handed him some newspaper. Dako and Beast played together and left Grei in peace. Grei thumbed through the newspaper and read over the headlines. The news was the same as usual; unemployment is up, stocks are down, food riots in Ba Sing Se, migration out of the cities, and some silly news about the moving picture stars. However Grei came across an interesting head line.
"Hey everyone, check this out," he stated while reading.
"What is it?" Baijin asked. "Let me guess, Pro-Bending news. We would make the most awesome team."
"No! Pro-bending costs money, and that's something we don't have," Grei said. "Actually, I think I found some work options. Since no one here wants to work on refurbishing Avatar Aang's Statue, the Republic City Police Department is offering bounties on certain escapee convicts in the Republic.
"Wouldn't you be on that list?" Baijin asked.
"Yes, that's why we need someone with a relatively clean criminal record. How does your record look, Li?" Grei said.
"I'd rather not talk about it," she said.
"Okay then." Grei sighed, "I guess the airbender will do."
"Will do what?" Anil walked into the room fully dressed and ready to fly. Dako flew over and perched on Anil's shoulder. "Are we going somewhere? I could use a taste of the outside world. Two weeks perched on a roof practicing airbending."
"Can you hold your ground in a fight?" Grei asked Anil. "And I'm not talking about that typical hit and run crap that you windbags do."
"I'm at least twice the airbender as a I was two weeks ago." Anil commented. "I can clearly overcome any opponent you throw at me."
"How about some convicted felons?" Grei asked.
"What's the bounty?" Anil smiled.
Grei, Anil, and Li stood on the roof waiting to leave for the target. Baijin and the other Naite brothers stayed home. Anil had his glider and his pet at his side while Grei lifted up the target's wanted poster.
"The man's name is Yin. He's a former Air Acolyte and he's broken out of several penitentiaries and is charged with the murder of at least nineteen people. All of them were of Fire Nation descent," Grei explained.
"What an asshole," Anil stated while Li gasped.
"Let's move then," Grei commanded then whistled for beast. "Hop on, Li."
Li shrugged and hopped on the back of beast behind Grei. Anil drew his glider then leaped off of the roof and flew into the air. "Coming ladies?" He remarked.
Grei sighed. "Oh shut up." Beast leaped down the stairs and dashed down the alley towards the sidewalk. "Can you keep up?" Grei asked.
"Why not?" Anil swooped down and flew over Grei and Beast.
At about forty five minutes later, Anil, Grei, and Li had arrived at an old abandoned workshop on the edge of town. Anil landed with dako on his shoulder next to where Grei had parked his pet.
"Well we're here. Where is the psychopath?" Anil asked.
"He'll be here," Grei said.
"Right, so it's your underworld inside knowledge," Li said.
"Sure, why not?" Grei said. He paced back and forward for a minute then stated. "No one will be here until closer to noontime."
"So do we wait then?" Anil asked.
"Yes." Grei said when he looked down on his watch. "Keep a low profile, will you?"
Anil nodded and the three sat down on the curb. Anil sat next to Li while Grei leaned up against his 'beast' pet. Li had put on more urban attire. She had a small old beret and wore her hair down. She had on a long coat and other old clothes to keep here warm.
"So Li," Anil faced towards her. "Tell me why you were so quick to take me up on staying at the place."
"I um... Well..." Li stuttered. "Anything is preferable to Raikoville."
"I guess that's fair enough. But still we had only just met..." Anil said.
"I don't want to talk about it," Li interrupted.
After a few minutes of silence and occasional non-backstory small talk, Grei noticed something. Two men wearing long trenchcoats and the typical shady fedoras and sun glasses walked through an alley behind them and into the abandoned workshop. Grei noticed then alerted the other two.
"Time to go," Grei told Anil and Li. He then fastened his three bending pouches and led his two companions into the workshop.
"Umm, Grei?" Anil asked.
"Shut up," Grei whispered as they crouched behind the wall.
The Two Shady men walked inside the building. While observing, Grei silently whistled for his pet artic wolf. From the outside they could hear loud crashing noises. Then suddenly a loud BANG noise rang in there ears.
"EeeeK!" Anil's pet Dako shouted.
"Shut up," Anil silenced his pet.
Grei was disgruntled by the sound and he opened his water pouches and bent some water around him. "Let's go losers," Grei commanded and led them to the build.
Anil drew his staff in a fighting stance and charged behind Grei. Li pulled out flames around her using her halfway proficient firebending. Grei took point and burst through the doorway with a water blast. Anil and Li leaped right in next to Grei. However what they found was not a fight.
"Holy crap?!" Anil remarked.
The place was filled with gore. Instead of finding a gang working for a disgruntled scholarly Acolyte, they found the charred and blasted remains of their bounty. The man's arm was burnt to a crisp while a chunk of led was lodged in the fore head.
"What could have done this?" Li asked. "That man wasn't killed by firebenders. I should know."
"It wasn't benders of any kind," Grei stated. "His arm looks like they were shoved in power socket or something. And this wound in the head. It's one of those weird devices I can't..."
"He was shot with a firearm," Anil explained. The other two looked at him with confusion.
"What on earth is a firearm?" Grei asked.
"It's a device that shoots projectiles at high speeds to kill or maim the target," Anil stated.
"How come I've never heard of such a thing then?" Grei asked.
"It's because there aren't very many of them in Republic City. They were invented by a skilled craftsman in Yu Dao over a hundred years ago. The man offered to sell his invention to both the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation sides of the war, but there was no dice with either side. It just about levels the playing field for benders and non-benders," Anil explained. "They are only sold in certain areas, particularly Whale Tail Island. There aren't many who know how to make them so that means that the weapons are expensive in most places. My father actually owned one back home."
"So are you saying these guys are from Whale Tail Island or something?" Grei asked.
"No, but whoever murdered this man was very well connected and has a lot of resources," Anil said.
"That means..." Li retorted.
"That means it's time to leave." Grei whistled for Beast to come and he mounted on the creature. "Let's move." He told Li.
Li jumped onto the creature and held on tight as they took off. Anil readied his glider and began to take flight. But before he left, he saw a small notebook laying on the floor. He decided then to pick it up and put it in his pockets. Then Anil took off and followed the rest.
Hours later and on the opposite side of Republic City, Amon stood on the top floor of a rundown office building. His office was dimly lit and contained very little furniture other than a chair, a desk, and an old Equalist poster. While thinking to himself he heard a knock on the door.
"Come in," he said.
The two shady hitmen from early walked through the door carrying briefcases and hand guns. They laid the cases on Amon's large desk and opened them.
"We've taken down the man you wanted gone," one of the hitmen said.
"I didn't say anything about killing him," Amon growled.
"Don't worry, we got his information," the other one said.
"Were there any witnesses?" Amon sighed.
"Erm..." The two were slow to respond.
"I expect a written report on any plausible witnesses or else there will not be a paycheck in your future," Amon commanded. He heard a buzzer then pressed a button on his desk and spoke into a microphone. "Please tell him that I will be ready in a minute. I have to deal with some failures first."
After the hitmen gave Amon there reports, Amon opened up a kennel that sat under his desk.
"Wait, We didn't mean too... Don't hurt us sir!!" The two men babbled and pleaded.
"I've had enough failure for one day." Amon smiled from under his mask. He enjoyed hearing the men scream from agonizing pain caused by being devoured by a dark spirit.
For the collective works of the author, go here.