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The Return Trip
Chapter information

Shadows of Equality



Written by


Release date

June 20, 2014

Last chapter

Chapter 7: Reunion

Next chapter

Chapter 9: Born Bad

"Looks like I win again," Danzo says with a smirk on his face easily proving himself the superior card player among the group as the trio of engineers as well as Kiri, Binh, and the doctor, Yu all await the return of the away team from their first assignment. The victorious redhead moves in to collect his winnings before Daigo stops him.

"What are you trying to pull? What's up your sleeves?"

"Nothing, see." He sticks his arms up as his sleeves fall down a bit. Kiri responds by walking over to him and hitting his elbows from the underside, which causes a flurry of cards to shoot out over the floor. "Cousin Kiri?"

"Nothing eh? Come here you." Daigo grabs him, stands him up, and pops him in the stomach.

"Hey lay off him." Daisuke attempts to intervene in the scuffle only to get his puffy hair grabbed by Daigo, who pushes him to the side.

"Don't defend him. He cheated," Kiri says casually. Her cousin gets in her face after recovering from the earlier blow.

"Why I oughta!"

"You oughta what, exactly?" She glares at him with her emerald eyes, not even giving an inch of ground.

He quickly backs down from the woman's intense stare. "I oughta be getting back to work. Right guys?" the other two stop their wrestling match, freezing in fear from Kiri as the trio nervously take their leave.

"Binh my young friend, never hire family. They're nothing but trouble. They and their bum friends!" Her shout falls short as the trio have already passed out of sight.

The comment causes a bit of pain with Binh as he continues to dwell on his own family and if they were involved in what went on tonight or maybe in the future. He was still a bit conflicted in what he wanted to do. While they may have joined the bending haters, they were still his parents. He didn't want them hurt or worse, but he did hope that maybe they would see the error in all this and soon everything would be alright.

Kiri takes note of his deep thought and places a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay? Look, it's going to be alright. They'll be back any minute, trust me. They've probably got those Equalists on the run as we speak."

Just as the three remaining are about to break into a game of cards themselves, the door to the surface opens as the returning team make their way in. They exit the vehicles with joyous cheers and shouts as they are greeted by the base team. Kiri immediately approaches Firuz as he exits the truck and notices the two new additions. "Uh, who are they?"

"Don't worry about it I'll explain later. For now I just need you to check in the wounded with the doctor. I have a matter that needs my immediate attention so if you'll excuse me for now. Miss, if you and your friend here would follow us." Firuz leads Azla and Shoren along with Soza and Hasook to his office as Kiri and Yu check on the wounded.

Yu takes a step forward as if he already knows what has happened. "Well let's see what damage Jiro has done to himself this time." He watches as Jiro and Tafari emerge from the back, battered and bruised, carrying Seok on a makeshift stretcher. "Yeah that's about what I was expecting."

"What the flameo happened to you?" Kiri asks as Seok sits up.

The driver of their transport gets out and addresses her. "Well there's a funny story for you."

Following the failed attack on the Agni Kai, a small group of four Equalists make a mad dash the dimly lit streets in one of their trucks as a small group of their attackers continue to pursue them in another truck. Among the remaining Equalists is Haga, who continually looks out the passenger side rear view mirror to see if they are still being followed. "We need to go faster!"

"I got her wide open as it is. Besides I already radioed ahead. Back-ups on it's way right now. We just need to keep this guys busy until then." The driver uses every trick he can think of to get their mysterious opponents off of their tail. He pitches the truck hard to the right in a wide turn only for them to follow the move almost exactly.

"Come on man, faster!" Just as he screams out the pursuing vehicle pulls alongside of them, repeatedly bumping them, attempting to force them off the road. After several failed tries the truck distances itself from Haga's group momentarily. "Well that wasn't so bad." The relief is short lived as the vehicle pulls alongside once more and the group hear a thud on the roof of the truck. "What was that?" Suddenly a small blast is heard that breaks the rear doors open as one of the strange attackers swings in. The two members in the back rush the man, the three engaging in a tense hand-to-hand fight. They quickly come to find that the man is well adept in close combat, dodging and countering their blows with a series of swift jabs. One of them positions himself behind the attacker, not realizing that he has left himself open as this gives the passenger in the pursuit truck a clear shot, unleashing a blast of fire that strikes the Equalist, causing him to fall back and out of the vehicle, left out in the street as the chase continues.

"Hari!" The second sees as his friends body tumbles into the night. This distraction gives an opening which the attacker readily takes, flipping the man over his shoulder and out of the truck as well. The tumbling Equalist barely avoids being run over by the second passing truck as it blazes by, inches from his head.

Haga looks back through the grate to find that both of his compatriots are gone. The driver takes a quick glance, noticing the man waving at them. "You're going to have to deal with these clowns."

"Uh, right. I'll take care of it." The reluctant man carefully opens the window and chucks a smoke grenade behind them. The canister releases it's contents, however it simply bounces down and under the passing vehicle.

"No moron, use that." The driver chastises Haga then points at a small panel of switches under the dashboard. He complies flipping a switch that releases a smokescreen behind them. The thick cloud obscures the vision of the second driver as he bobs and weaves through the streets, almost crashing into the front of a store. A fire blast from the passenger manages to strike the back driver's side tire.

"Jump!" Their unwelcome guest looks back as his comrades urge him to get out, the thick haze obscuring most of his vision.

"Well it looks like I've overstayed my welcome. Happy landings gentlemen." He cheerfully leaps out of careening vehicle, skillfully rolling onto the hard pavement as the Equalists flip onto their side a short distance away skidding across the ground before finally coming to a stop.

The two Equalists look around, both fortunate to have been strapped into their seats when the vehicle flipped. "You okay?" the driver looks over at the shaking passenger.

"Despite the fact that we barely survived the crash and are probably going to be killed in a few minutes I'm fine." Haga lets out a bit of humor before the two unfastened themselves, kicking out the front window to make a quick exit. They stumble out only to find themselves surrounded by three of the mystery men as the last, the one who jumped from the truck, joins them.

"Nowhere to go. Surrender," the group's leader says as another draws his sword.

Haga and the other man throw their hands up, looking at each other briefly. "What do you wanna do Chu?" He notices the man working his right sleeve slightly.

"Well let's say I have a trick or two up here," Chu says hastily as he hurls another smoke grenade at the group. The swordsman quickly parries the device, knocking it away as he moves in with blinding speed, cutting Chu down.

Now the lone survivor of the group, Haga panics as one of the men, an earthbender, attempts to knock him out with a piece of pavement to the head. He jumps back as the firebender launches several more attacks, causing him to fall on his back before turning and running full tilt in the opposite direction. The four give chase as he utilizes his training to deal with the threat, finding it hard to recall what he had learned at the proper time. He spots an open construction site and heads in, jumping up to the second level of the unfinished structure. The first attempts to follow by propelling himself with firebending only for Haga to hurl an electrified bola at him, giving him one less threat to worry about. The man watches as the earthbender launches himself along with the two seeming non-benders who hitch a ride up.

The three continue the chase as the Equalist makes some distance between them. He stops abruptly, catching the lone bender by surprise as he ducks around him and delivers a series of blows to the backs of his legs, taking him out of the fight as totters to the wooden floor. Haga quickly uses two beams to springboard himself to the next level, the two remaining attackers following close behind. The unarmed pursuer catches up to him first, the two engaging in an intense duel. The Equalist knows he cannot keep the fight going too long, otherwise he risks getting cornered. As he attempts to break away the sword wielder jumps between the two as he makes several swings at Haga, who narrowly dodges the swipes, the final cutting open his tunic before he is forced back to the edge of the level. The man takes one final swing, grazing Haga's arm. This is enough to cause him to tumble over the side and crash onto a large pile of wooden planks. He rolls of onto the soft dirt as he attempts to limp away only for the two to cut him off.

"End of the line scum. Alright Tafari, let's take him down." The second man says as he cracks his knuckles. His compatriot simply rubs his head in frustration.

"We are not supposed to use our names. Doesn't matter though. We have our orders. May you find peace." He raises his blade to deliver the finishing blow as Haga closes his eyes, awaiting the end. Suddenly he hears a pulsing sound, opening his eye to see the sword wielder shaking violently an electrified bola has wrapped around his wrist. Seemingly from nowhere over a dozen Equalists storm the area.

Haga scurries away from his attackers as he looks up to see someone standing over him, Amon's right-hand man, the one known simply as the Lieutenant. "We got your team's emergency call. You alright son?" the tendril mustached man asks as he helps his ally to his feet.

"Yes sir."

"Where's the rest of your team?"

"Dead sir. They got them all."

"Wait here. We'll finish this." The Lieutenant leaps forward and targets the still recovering swordsman. His path is blocked as an earth wall emerges between them. The now partially recovered earthbender begins hurling projectiles at the new arrivals, taking down several. This display doesn't seem to affect the Lieutenant in the slightest as he easily makes his way to the bender. The earthbender panics, throwing rock after rock to halt his progress to little effect. He bends the ground ahead of him, forming a field of jagged rocks to stifle his targets advance. He is both shocked and slightly amazed as the Lieutenant skillfully darts across the tops of the rocks, leaping down and jabbing him in the stomach with his kail sticks, which deliver a high voltage shock. Unable to react in these close quarters, the Lieutenant makes quick work of the man with his weapons.

Across the field the final two members are hemmed in by the Equalist force, making their final stand. The anti-benders close in as the two prepare for whatever comes next. The Lieutenant rejoins them, taking the lead as he twirls his signature weapons. He begins to speak, only for his words to be muted out by the roar of an engine as the bright headlights of a truck make their way across the field. The vehicle's driver breaks slamming into the mustached man, which sends him flying across the field. "Get in!" the driver, the team's firebender, shouts as he drives between them and the Equalists. The two quickly comply, jumping into the back, battered and bruised, but otherwise alright. The driver guns it back across the field, picking up the unconscious earthbender.

As they race away from the scene Tafari stares at his friend who has removed his mask and smiles in his excitement. "Well all-in-all I'd say things went pretty well don't you think?"

"Jiro, you are either one of the bravest or craziest men I have ever met." The two begin laughing as the truck makes it's way back to headquarters.

"Come on we've got to go after them!" one of the Equalists shouts as several others make a failed effort to keep up with the escaping vehicle.

"No, we're heading back." The Lieutenant regains his footing as two of the others help him up. "We'll see what Amon makes of all this."

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