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|Operation Phoenix, Pt. 2: The Revelation|
3: Turned Tides
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 end the worlds involved.
Now, more than ever, ending the war is urgent, for that for both sides it is either victory or death, for that this war could be the end of all of mankind.
Previously in Avatar: The War of the Worlds
Following the plan of Operation Phoenix, European troops land in Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C. to secure a bridgehead and capture the Führer, Johnston, whom the Team encounters in a bunker beneath the White House.
The Führer and the Fire Lord
"There you are, scum of mankind... " Mike's words echoed through the bunker.
"Could we skip that part where we insult each other, unworthy life, and get down to business?", the Führer spoke in a sarcastic, almost innocent tone, after hearing no opposition, he finished, "Thank you very much, I'll kill you last."
The Team's members looked at one another, and shrugged, uncertain of what to do, considering that the most powerful firebender stood with the Führer.
"What is this - er, business - you want to discuss?" Zolu couldn't hold it in anymore, his curiosity had won over his reason.
"That would be, and now pay attention, be that... you cannot defeat me. You can crush my armies, you can burn my cities, do anything to me, but you cannot defeat me.", were the Führer's confident words.
"Shall I tell them?", Olizon asked in his usual, serious tone, earning Johnston's agreement. "Well then, I believe you know that I am of the line of Azula and of Yakone's, as well? Let's just say that I was not alone when I scurried through the slums of the despicable moloch Republic City... I had a brother, eleven years older than me, who had earned Yakone's gift, the immense power of bloodbending, he could do it without the slightest motion. His name was - is, in fact - Tanook. One day, he vanished, that was on the twentieth of April. I searched for him, but in fact, he found me, after I had killed the last of the filthy line of Zuko's, when a ship descended from the skies, and a brownish uniformed version of my brother walked out... Alongside revolutionary blueprints designated for the military... "
As Olizon ceased, the Führer rose and smiled maniacally, stopping the Team in their tracks. Their body, or rather, their blood, worked against their will. The Führer stepped forward, and spoke, "My dear fools, his brother then killed a general, took his identity, and won a civil war, end of the story. And now, this man is speaking to you. And that's why you cannot defeat me!"
No one of them could move, except Kiruya, who stood there, completely unfazed by his power, "You're not the only one of Yakone's lineage here!"
"I think you might want to hear about the way I'm going to win the battle. Well, there is a total of one million special force soldiers along the northern East Coast, all gathered a little west from here. Alongside of course five million ordinary soldiers, but that's trivial to the greatest weapon available, fools... Ever heard about intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with thermonuclear warheads? About five hundred are sufficient to make half of Europe uninhabitable for centuries. You have lost, face it.", Tanook/Johnston announced as doors seemed to appear between the huge computers, opening and soldiers marching out. "And then there's this souvenir from Avatara... The Dai Li agents. Good luck, and that you won't have it.", with those words, the Führer closed, and turned his attention to killing them. He focused his bloodbending more, and even Kiruya was subdued to some degree. However, Mike found he could, in some strange way, move, even if only hardly. Kiruya tried to redirect the Führer's bloodbending, and weakened his grip on Mike for a second, enough for the Grand Admiral to draw his revolver and fire blindly at the throne. Only because of pure luck, the bullet hit the Führer in the hand and pierced it, which made him loosen the grip on all of them unintentionally. As the six turned around to retreat, they found themselves facing black-uniformed soldiers, their collar decorated with two silver-coloured S-runes, and a skull with crossed bones decorating their hats - the SS. Except for the dozen of Dai Li agents, the whole room was crowded with the SS-soldiers, each armed with a sub-machine gun. The six of them were petrified for a second, which Olizon used to shoot a lighting at Asura, who redirected it into the huge map table, yelling, "Run for it!"
The four benders utilised all their bending power, massive streams and walls of fire clearing the way alongside waves of concrete and metalbent doors, icicles and air swipes holding the soldiers back, while an electrified glove took out a few SS-soldiers, as well as a sword accompanying it. The weapon covering their back was a hopelessly obsolete rifle, whose fire stopped after ten shots, before an equally obsolete revolver took its place. As the Team exited through one of the doors that lined the walls, the angered Führer shouted, "What are you waiting for? After them!", adding after healing himself with his own blood, "Kill those fools!"
Mike closed the door after him and blocked it with a pipe that laid around, but found it was for naught as two Dai Li agents emerged from the earth and shot their gloves at them, but said weapons came to a halt at the hands of Asura and Luo, before Mike dove forward and shot one of the two with his rifle, and the second with his revolver. Just as he had finished this, two members of the Royal Procession broke through the door, and unleashed a volley of fireballs at the Team, which Malu managed to blast off with a swing of her staff. Before Mike reloaded, he threw a hand grenade there and shouted, "Run!", doing so immediately. Kiruya quickly froze the enemy soldiers' feet to the ground and then protected herself from the shrapnels with a wall of water, before she followed the others. The six of them ran as fast as their feet could carry them, but a unit of four SS-soldiers aiming their sub-machine guns at them, but Luo dealt with them quickly, with a swipe of his hand, with which he simultaneously thrust up four earth pillars from beneath the soldiers, crashing them into the ceiling. After that, the way made a sharp turn to the right, leading upwards as well. After a run of a minute, a part of the ceiling came crushing down, three Dai Li agents with it. Zolu was close enough to one to electrify him, and then rushed to a second, whom he cut into the legs. The agent released a cry of pain, but stayed focused and tried to crush Zolu's skull with a rock glove, but his action was stopped by a bullet through his heart which Mike had accidentally shot while struggling to hit the third agent, who Asura managed to hit in the face with a fireball. The six then hurried onwards, to whatever laid at the tunnel's end. When they had reached another turn in direction, a volley of bullets welcomed them. Luo and Asura pulled up an earth wall just in time, but it was too weak to hold against the continuous fire of ten coil sub-machine guns. After barely twenty seconds, the wall crumbled to dust just as the SS-soldiers on its other side reloaded. Luo let the walls and ceiling crush down on them, but six soldiers dove away from the danger, and opened fire again, blindly this time as Luo's attack had risen much dust. Enabling his seismic sense, he encased the enemies' feet before knocking them out, as Malu cleared their vision with a simple swipe of her staff. Soon enough, he noticed they were being followed, by a dozen of SS and Royal Procession soldiers. As soon as the Team turned around to face them, two Dai Li agents crushed out of the walls, and stood there in an ordinary earthbending stance, alike the dozen of other soldiers when they came to a halt. Mike, tired of relatively intense fighting, decided to throw two grenades at once, in the enemy's midst, before he turned around and fired a round on an agent, who dove out of the way, and was immediately impaled by one of Kiruya's icicles, while his comrade, busy with Luo, got beheaded by Zolu's ancient blade. Just after their way was cleared, the six of them ran as if all of hell was chasing them, and burst through a door, directly into the place through which they had entered the bunker complex. The Oval Office.
Air Marshal Miller had joined his colleague, Admiral O'Brien in the Operation Control Centre on Bermuda, and both overlooked a map of the East Coast. The Air Force and the Navy both had to do little ever since Operation Wallenstein was initiated, and thus, the two were enjoying their respective drinks, which were a glass of Whisky and one of Vodka. The two were in a lively conversation, recalling memories, laughter following almost every complete sentence.
"...remember that one time when Mike thought he could outmatch you? In drinking? And then he talked about... ", the Air Marshal poured himself another drink, took a sip and then continued, "...something like conquering Earth with tortoises... Wait, what the heck?"
He stopped as the digital map before them started showing unexpected action. Admiral O'Brien was a little confused, and answered, "Well, he was... ", and finished as she realised what her colleague had meant, "...drunk?"
First, electrical signals were shown concentrated at a few points all throughout eastern North America, before, all of sudden, from the settlements to Washington's north, south and west, movement was shown, depicted a ten army groups. The Air Marshal went out of the control room, and returned with an ancient map a few minutes later. The map was in Russian, and depicted the USA, the missile launch sites in it to be exact, from the Cold War era. He quickly compared the locations marked on the old map with those on the one before him, and came to a conclusion, "That idiot is activating his ICBM's", which was met with only a single word of Admiral O'Brien's, "Fuck."
The sun hung deep in the sky, which was slightly coloured in red shades. The few clouds in said colour almost made Marshal Jan Svoboda forget he was lying on his tank's turret, in the middle of a vastly destroyed city, until Admiral O'Brien's voice sounded from his walkie-talkie on his belt's right. "Jan, Jan? Dammit, stupid, JAN!"
He sat himself upright and took the portable radio unit, and after acknowledging his presence, the Admiral's high-pitched voice was all he could hear, "Jan! Your troops are surrounded by a total of five million enemy soldiers, and that idiotic dick-tator of Johnston prepares to lay waste to Central Europe with a nuclear strike, and yeah, that's pretty much it. So, retreat it is, I guess. Sally over and out."
Jan considered what he'd heard before noticing fighting noises, coming closer slowly, and then positioned himself after the tank's AA-machine gun, when he decided, "I've got to warn Mike!", taking out his walkie-talkie again, and choosing Mike's channel.
The Team and their company battled the soldiers emerging from hidden doors all over the massive residence of Johnston's. Mike was slowly running out of ammunition, and currently was hiding behind a flipped-over table in an office room of the White House alongside Asura, and was reloading his rifle when Jan's voice sounded from his walkie-talkie. "Mike! There's something important I need to- "
Jan never finished his sentence as Mike had interrupted him already with the words, "What. Is. It?"
"Oh, well, let's just say Sally just told me that five million enemy soldiers are closing in on Washington, and Johnston is preparing a nuclear strike against Central Europe. Thought you should know.", Jan's voice was strangely calm, followed by an explosion and gunfire.
"So Johnston didn't tell us bullshit... What uniforms do they wear?", Mike whispered into the portable radio unit, and took out his revolver to shoot an unsuspecting enemy soldier walking down the corridor beyond the room's door. After this, Jan answered, slightly stressed and reloading his machine gun at the same time, "Black. With silver insignia. SS, am I right?"
Mike was shocked of these news. Johnston truly hadn't bluffed, and thus he advised his friend, "Dude, just run. Just fucking run and don't stop. We can't win this battle anymore."
Jan ended the transmission, and Mike stood up, cautiously walking to the doorway, leaning out and then signalling Asura to follow, which she commented, "This bloody Johnston or Tanook or whatever really told the truth?"
"It seems so.", answered Mike emotionlessly, before picking up speed and almost crashing into Zolu, who lead the rest of the Team out of the White House, ordering them to follow him. They met up with their company of airborne soldiers before the entrance, and then began marching eastwards, hoping for someone to pick them up.
Jan had ordered a full retreat before the enemy forces had reached all of them, in fact what his unit had faced was solely the vanguard, thus most of their forces were still intact. Their great Operation Phoenix had failed, in almost all concerns, and now had to evacuate their troops. They had no time for a second Dunkirk, nor did they have the numbers required for such an operation, the troops needed to leave the way they had come. Except for the airborne ones, which included the Operation's initiator, Mike, whom he noticed joining his convoy, alongside his whole company. Jan decided to make him an offer, "Hey, Mike! How long have you been walking there? Why don't you climb up on my tank?"
Mike was obviously startled by the sudden appearance of the familiar voice, and then answered the question, "I only just joined this convoy. I mean, by tank it'll be faster than on foot."
"And why don't you come up?", Jan repeated, and soon the whole Team except Mike was sitting on the tank. Mike looked at them, and then jumped up to join them as well, and then realised that the battle sounds' origins were closer again, and therefore decided to call for a little help using his portable radio unit. "Air Marshal Paul Miller! Grand Admiral Přemysl speaking, we could use some air support to cover out retreat, I repeat, I request air support to cover our retreat, Mike over and out." Mike's voice was hollow, and somewhat sounded broken now as well. Only minutes later, aeroplanes shot through the air and the bombs' fireballs followed them wherever they flew. Operation Phoenix had indeed failed.
"What are you doing?", was the simple answer of Paul's, as he noticed Sally arriving with Mike's Valkyrie.
"Getting Mike and Jan and the Team outta there. Got a problem with that?", she answered plainly, taking off with the spacecraft. The night flight with the outdated spaceship was short and relatively calm, and she soon had found Jan's immense convoy having arrived at the landing grounds at the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, and also had soon found the Team and Jan standing on a tank, waving for her to land there. She, however, only descended to a height everyone could get in, opened the ramp and ordered, "Everyone, get in, come on!"
Her commanding tone was enough to make them join her in the spacecraft, which she flew off to an aircraft carrier that she had chosen as her flagship. As she landed on the ship's deck, she opened the ramp and Mike stormed off immediately after the spacecraft had touched ground, soon followed by Asura and Jan. Mike's plan had failed. Mike had failed.
Mike was standing in the corridor, facing the wall, speaking to himself in desperate voice, and hitting the metal wall with his fist repeatedly. "No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! I lost... My plan didn't work... NO!", he cried loudly, angry at himself. Asura approached him, a worried look on her face, and laid a hand on his shoulder, intending to pull him close, but not succeeding as he pushed himself away from her, which made her wonder, "What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? Well, perhaps, my plan failed, I failed, I promised to never make a step backwards, but now I did, I failed, dammit! I- I- I lost my honour!", he rose his voice as he kept talking, ending up shouting loud enough for the whole ship to hear him. Asura could only wonder about him, but somewhat also was angry with him.
"You think this is about your fucking honour?" Well, it isn't-", she said sharply, as another person approached from behind. Mike was enraged by that, he lost all sense of control. His hand grasped his bayonet's hilt, but before he could unsheathe it, a revolver's muzzle was held against his back.
"If I was you, I wouldn't do that.", spoke the person, revealing himself as Jan. Mike looked at him, still in rage and lunged at his friend, wielding his bayonet, but then a burning sensation stopped him. Asura had slapped him and firebent to increase the effect. As Jan took the bayonet out of Mike's hand, Asura hit him against the metal wall, and slapped him again. This time, it was her who lost the temper, "You think it's about your honour? You think I'm that stupid that I wouldn't know what an anti-matter cannon is? You think you can win any battle? Well, I've got news for you, NO!"
Mike looked her in the eyes, and rage made space for guilt. When she let go of his shoulders, he let his head hang and spoke, in an apologetic way, "I'm sorry, I kinda lost my temper... Sorry."
He walked out to the Valkyrie, and straightened his back, and announced, "I lost my honour, but I will get it back."
He walked up into the spacecraft, and seated himself in the pilot's seat, Asura following him, choosing the place to his right, the co-pilot's seat. The Team's rest soon noticed that, and joined him, and soon enough, the Valkyrie ascended into the night's pitch black sky, flying off to an undetermined position. Kiruya, who'd chosen to operate the on-board computer again, stated, "Lads, I've got a message of Johnston's to prepare everything in... Huston, Texas. Sounds like a place to go to me."
"Huston it is!", Mike spoke as he corrected the course, and Kiruya added, "Oh, and those nukes were all shot down by missiles and satellites, according to these readings, just felt like you should know."
Mike faced Asura, again wearing a regretful face, and made her an offer. "I really regret what I did before, I hope I can repay you in any way."
Asura looked at him, and smiled, "You could try to teach me how to control the Avatar State!"
"Yeah, sure... ", Mike replied sarcastically, followed by chuckle. Not all was lost, not yet.
Notes and Trivia
- This is the last chapter following the Team before the finale. Well, except that one...
For the collective works of the author, go here.