Chapter information

Shadows of Equality



Written by


Release date

May 16, 2014

Last chapter

Chapter 6: Welcoming Party

Next chapter

Chapter 8: The Return Trip

Soza sits patiently in the six man room he shares with Husam, Hasook, Seok, and two others. He sits alone on one of the lower bunks with his head down. After a few seconds he looks across the room to see a woman sitting on the bunk across from him. He takes note of her, her long, raven hair covering most of her face. "Hey." Despite his acknowledgment of her, she continues to stare at him, her amber eyes seemingly glowing in the dimly lit room. "We've been doing this dance for what, almost ten years now? And every time you just sit there and look at me. Really this is not the best time, so why don't you just say something." the woman simply sits, unmoved from her original position. Losing his normal cool and patience, Soza breaks down and shouts. "What do you want? Just say something please! Who are you? What do you want from me?"

"Buddy, hey wake up." Soza opens his eyes, finding himself lying in his bunk, having been awoken by two of his other roommates, Kozun and Akuze. "You must have had some kind of nightmare. We got our first assignment and they want everyone I the main hall." Soza sits up finally hearing the alert emanating throughout the halls, before joining the two on their way down.

"Alright ladies and gentlemen. This is the real deal. We've received information that the Equalists are focusing on removing the remainder of the Triads and are planning to raid an Agni Kai base tonight." Firuz stands in the center of the room as the crowd gathers in front of he and Saburo. "Now our mission is to intercept them, rescue as many Agni Kai we can."

The earthbender steps back as Saburo takes center stage, allowing him to explain the plan. "We'll be breaking up into three groups to complete this objective. When I call your name, step forward."

The large group stands patiently waiting, anxiously or nervously depending on who, as the names whittle down. Hasook and Soza stand at the rear of the crowd, the latter's hands physically shaking. His friend notices this and quietly comments. "Hey man. You okay?" He places a reassuring hand on his friends shoulder. "Hey, if we're lucky, we might not be called for this assignment anyway."

"Seok." The earthbender steps forward, leaving his new acquaintance Binh standing off to the side as the names continue. "Hasook, Soza, Retso."

Soza looks up with a half smile. "I guess we're not that lucky." As the names finish, everyone heads up to the requisition area to receive their gear for the mission. Soza heads off on his own seating himself on the floor of a side hall where very few people come through, still shaking.

"Something else is wrong isn't it?" Hasook surprises him as he stands opposite his friend.

"I'm fine. I just need a minute." Soza takes a moment to collect himself, taking in a deep breath before the shaking stops. Hasook checks him again as the firebender raises his hands slightly. "I'm good."

"I know this isn't easy but don't worry."

"Thanks. I got it under control now. Thanks again Sook." Soza smiles, addressing his friend by his nickname. "You know there aren't many people I share stuff with. As a matter of fact you're one of only four people living that know all that. I don't think I ever thanked you for keeping it all to yourself."

"Don't sweat it. Now let's get moving okay. Don't wanna get left behind now." The two join Seok as well as about two dozen other members as they suit up in the task force uniform which consists of a pair of navy blue trousers, a four button tan tunic with darker brown shoulder guards, a pair of brown leather gloves with metal guards from the wrist to just below the elbow. The head wear consists of a tan bandana along with a mask that covers the lower part of the face from the nose down. In addition, each member receives a short scarf around their neck to denote their place on the team: blue for waterbenders, red for firebenders, green for earthbenders, light gray for nonbender combatants, and yellow for the engineering crew.

"Okay people lets go!" Firuz shouts, clapping his hands to get the groups attention as they load into the back of three trucks. As everyone piles in he approaches Kiri. "I assume everything is up and ready?"

Before answering, she gives a quick look at the trio of Daigo, Daisuke and Danzo who, to her embarrassment are on the other side of the room fighting over another minuscule reason. "Yeah sure, everything is all set sir. Good hunting out there."

"We shouldn't be long. And thanks." he joins the others and the vehicles depart through the entrance via earthbending. As soon as they are out of sight Kiri turns her attention back to the three imbeciles. "Never recommend family." she marches over and proceeds to angrily chew them out.

On board one of the trucks the men nervously await their arrival as they attempt to focus on the upcoming task. In stark contrast to everyone else, the two bodyguards, Jiro and Tafari, don't seem panicked in the slightest. And while Tafari is calm and collected, gently cradling his sword in his arms, Jiro is his usual excited self. The others can't help but give them a peculiar glance now and again as the small caravan moves through the night to its destination.

While the cavalry is on its way, the Agni Kai struggle against the Equalist force that has hemmed them in. Two triad members flee the masked attackers as two of the Equalists throw bolas that trip them up. One of the two is immediately yanked away by a line connected to the ensnaring tools. As the second is almost dragged away, Shoren leaps down from above, shooting a flame that burns through the rope, landing down on a set of crates. He proceeds to grab him by the shoulder and pulls him to his feet. "Come on boy. We're not done yet." They join the remaining half dozen defenders, including the young leader Azla.

"What kind of firebenders does this city produce? These men are a disgrace." The girl derides the survivors as she unleashes a torrent of white flames that engulf several of the attackers.

"Not to be insubordinate or anything but insults may not be the best way to rally anyone." Shoren unleashes another burst of flames as he converses with his new boss.

"Silence! I am in control here. You'll do as I say." The girl finds her words greatly contradict what is going on around them as the Equalists swiftly close in. The small group prepare to make their final stand as more masked figures enter in through the windows and doors of the building. The Agni Kai are surprised as these newcomers, adorned in different clothing than the first, attack with the elements. This catches the Equalists completely off guard as they begin to scatter, attempting to fight two enemies at the same time.

Firuz leads the attack, hurling chunks of earth as he directs his comrades to aid any captured firebenders. Shoren leaves his men to find out who exactly these newcomers are. He dodges a set of bolas meant for him, taking cover behind a crate as Firuz makes his way over to him. "No worries, we're on your side."

"Not that I don't appreciate it but I'm going to need a bit more info before I can believe that."

"Right sorry, name's Firuz. We're here to take down Equalists. Heard they might be targeting some of you Triads so we decided we'd bust them wide open. I've got my men ready to help your people out. Who's in charge here?"

"That would be Azla." Shoren gestures over to a young girl who is dodging every attack that comes her way, easily dispatching four Equalists with a series of close range fireblasts. "Yeah, so you might want to wait until she's calmed down before you talk to her."

Meanwhile, Tafari rushes forward, engaging a lone enemy. The chi-blocker attempts several quick strikes which Tafari evades, then counters with a blinding strike from his sword, ending the short confrontation. Across the room Hasook and Soza are back-to-back, preventing any unwanted sneak attacks as Hasook utilizes two water sacks he has strapped to himself and Soza lobs a series of fireballs. Despite their best efforts however, an Equalist launches an attack from the rafters. "Heads up." The two are stunned as the woman leaps down, separating them. Despite his best efforts, the waterbender is swiftly chi blocked, falling to the ground as Soza jumps back to give himself some room. Before he can react to the attacker Jiro leaps in between them. "It's cool. I got this."

"You sure?" The firebender gives him an odd look as Jiro recklessly charges his opponent knocking her off of the crates they are perched on. Soza doesn't give it a second thought before mixing himself back into the chaos. He looks across the room and sees one of the Agni Kai members, a young girl, evading every attack from a trio of the anti-benders. He rushes to her aid, launching a blast that knocks one of them off of their feet as the remaining two fall back. Landing next to her he checks to see if she is okay. "Kid are you alright?" He kneels down to her level, placing a reassuring arm on her shoulder. "It's okay, I got you."

She pushes him away and lashes out in an arrogant tone. "Don't patronize me you dolt. You have no idea who you are talking to." As she finishes she notices one of the Equalists attempt a sneak attack on him and unleashes her white fire from her hand, whizzing over Soza's shoulder and knocking the attacker out one of the already broken windows.

The man can't help but stare at the youngster as the remaining task force members and Agni Kai finish off or route the last of the Equalists. "Azla?" Soza removes his mask and head covering. "Little Azla. I never thought I'd see you with my own eyes."

"How do you know me? Do I know you?" She steps back looking at the gruff older man in slight confusion. She begins to look deeper and harder at him before realizing who this strange, emotional man is. "Cousin Suchart." Her harsh demeanor quickly changes to tears as the two embrace, the others looking on, not sure of what to make of it.

"You've gotten so big."

"And you've gotten so...hairy." Azla jokes as Firuz and Shoren approach.

"What are you doing here?"

"I've come to bring you back to the palace."

"Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. Palace?" Firuz is surprised as Seok rushes in.

"Hey boss, radio dispatch says the cops are on their way we better hurry." Seok reports as everyone gathers.

"Alright, you boys head to Post 6. Boss Azla and I are going with them. We'll report back to the council when we can." Shoren gives the order as everyone quickly goes their separate ways.

On board the trucks, Soza and Azla sit next to each other aboard the truck as Hasook, sitting across from them, gives a smile, still massaging his left arm to end the numbness of his still chi-blocked limb. Firuz sits alongside the waterbender, his arms crossed. "Alright, I think you better explain exactly what's going on. And lets start from the beginning, shall we."

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