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|Chapter 8 - Cry of the People|
Chapter 9 - Star of The Republic
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.
Late at night Grei paced back and forward down a hallway in their home. The door frames of the old suites were rusted, and the carpets bathed in mold and mildew after years of decay. It was late and he promised Baijin that he would make sure Anil got back safely. After a few minutes of pacing, Grei sat down on the floor next to the broken elevator.
"Where the hell is he?" Grei asked himself.
Without warning, a loud thud rang in his ears. Grei immediately stood up and ran up the staircase to the roof. When he got there, Anil had been standing on the roof practicing his airbending. His blasts of air managed to make too much noise for the rest of the group.
"Anil," Grei approached him. "When the hell did you get back?"
"Five minutes ago," Anil said then released and huge wind blast.
"So, where's the journal?" he asked.
"I left it with Tenzin's people," Anil stated.
"But that was *our* best lead," Grei sighed. "I guess I can go with plan B."
Anil walked over and fed Dako some treats. "Whoa, hold on." Anil waved his hands a bit and stepped backwards. "Since when did you care about this?"
"Since I got shot at my 'law enforcement' the other day," Grei glared at Anil for a moment then turned around and began walking down the fire escape stairs. "Come on let's go."
"Aren't you tired at all?" Anil asked.
"No." Grei walked down the stairs and mounted on Beast. Then he gestured for Anil to follow.
Late at night back on Air Temple Island, Meelo took the journal that Anil gave him and walked it up to Din's office. Din was a master decoder and was as well versed in old Air Nomad writing techniques as anyone. When Meelo walked into the office, he placed the journal on the desk.
"Here you go sir," Meelo said.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" Din said.
"It's a journal from the late Air Acolyte Yin," he announced.
Din looked over the journal and flipped through the pages. "This will take me a few hours. Make sure you notify the Avatar as soon as she arrives in Republic City."
"Don't worry, I will." Meelo nodded then ran out of the office.
Anil and Grei had been walking down the sidewalk in the old White Jay Borough, in the early hours of the morning. Grei had left beast behind and decided to go on foot. Anil however kept his glider close by. While strolling down the sidewalk, activity was on an all-time low. Businesses weren't operating, no cars were out, and all of the usual homeless beggars had given up and headed to Raikoville.
"I remember this part of town used to be where rich people shopped," Grei said. "My Dad's office used to be around here somewhere."
"I used to sell papers here," Anil said then processed what Grei had said. "What do you mean by 'Dad'?"
"It's a long story," Grei answered.
"We have plenty of time," Anil said.
"My family was rich and now we're not. What more do you want from me?" Grei abruptly said.
"Uhm... Nevermind that," Anil pouted then remained silent for a while.
The two had walked for blocks upon blocks. As the sun rose, there were a few more people out and about, but for the most part the streets were still empty. Where once proud bookstores and emporiums stood, now the buildings laid empty or overgrown with spiderflies, urban plants, and occasional Spirit World creatures. Other buildings were home to dirt poor citizen and the occasional apple peddler. After there long search, the Anil had succumbed to fatigue.
"Remind me why we're searching empty run down streets," Anil groaned.
"We're looking for Amon's thugs, remember?" Grei stated.
"Why aren't we in Raikoville?" Anil asked.
Before Grei could say anything, an thuggish man had krept up on the two and drew a short sword on the two. "Give me your money, kids!" The man shouted.
"What the ... are you serious right now?" Grei patronized the mugger.
"Well yeah I'm serious, I uh..." The man then dropped his sword and fell to the ground in tears. "I can't do this!"
Grei looked at the man and sighed. "Pathetic," Grei said then began to walk away. However Anil was not so indifferent.
"What's the matter, friend?" Anil asked.
"Please, you gotta help me! I lost my job five months ago, I have three children to feed, and the soup kitchens won't let me in since I had been involved with the Equalists in my youth." The man sobbed and looked Anil in the eyes sincerely.
Grei stopped walking away then abruptly stomped back towards the man. He then grabbed him by his collar and shoved the man up against the wall. "Equalists? Where are they?!"
"I don't know! I haven't worked with them since the original Amon's body washed up on the beach of Ember Island!!" The man begged for mercy.
"Stop this!" Anil shouted. Immediately he leaped to the side of Grei and blasted him with wind. Then Anil reached for the man and helped him stand up. "You do know something. If you tell me, then you may be able to save a lot of lives." Anil pulled out 30 yuans from his pocket and placed them in the man's hand.
"What the hell are you..." Grei shouted but was silenced by Anil.
"The new 'Amon' isn't a water bender or even any kind of bender. He's not as charismatic or as good at rallying people. He also has an office ... that he *pays* for," the man explained.
"Do you know where it is?" Anil asked.
"No, but I do know that he isn't being very straightforward. As you know, most people don't know of his existence except for maybe the Avatar. He also isn't directly affiliated with the Equalist political party. He's not in charge of the movement, or even himself."
"What do you mean?" Anil asked.
"He has this dark spirit... I dunno ... I left only three months after he arrived." The man sweated heavily.
"Run along then," Anil said.
As soon as the man ran away, Grei stood up and punched Anil in the gut.
"I'm not sure what that was for, but I probably deserved it," Anil said.
"Good." Grei lifted Anil off of the ground. "There is an Equalist Party candidates speech today in Avatar Roku square. We should probably be there to get some info."
Two hours past sunrise, Baijin crawled out of bed and walked downstairs into the kitchen to make some breakfast. When he got there, he grabbed three eggs and cooked them on a wooden stove. Then he turned on an old radio and listened to the tunes. Out of his peripherals he spotted Grei's brothers and Li walk down the stairs.
"Good morning friends," Baijin smiled.
"Some one's in a good mood," Zed remarked. "Say, where is our brother?" Warsh nodded with Zed.
"I think he went with Anil to hunt Amon or something," Baijin stated while pouring unpasteurized milk into the eggs to add more sustenance.
Warsh and Zed grabbed a few cups of water and sat down at a kitchen table. Li however had just arrived into the room. After hearing Baijin, she finally spoke up.
"Are they okay?" Li asked.
"Grei's the most badass waterbender in the city, besides maybe the Avatar," Warsh said while pulling out a deck of cards.
"However, the windbag, he's screwed," Zed said while grabbing some cards from the deck.
"Gee that's really comforting," Li said while burying her head in her arms.
"Don't worry Li, we'll catch up with them. Anil's pet is an excellent tracker," Baijin assured.
Anil and Grei approached the square at about ten o'clock in the morning. By that time a huge crowd had gathered. Each of them where armed with picket signs and loud angry voices. In front of the crowd, a huge podium rested up against a building and had a stage with microphones attached.
"It would seem we are in the right place," Anil stated.
"Thanks captain obvious," Grei remarked.
Above the podium a huge sign had been strung across the podium. The sign read: "Victory of the proletariat and the non-bender". The sign also had the symbol of the Equalist party on either side of the motto.
"So where is this candidate guy?" Anil asked nonchalantly.
Just as Anil had asked the silly question, the crowd immediately hushed. All eyes directed their attention to the podium as a man walked up the stage. The man wore semi-formal attire and had glasses and a charismatic complexion.
"Salutations to my fellow Equalists!" he said and heard the roar of the crowd. His voice wasn't at all like Amon's. It was very loud, projecting, and charismatic. "In recent months, unemployment and poverty has exploded in the Republic. The current administration has often promised a return to stability, but then again, what can you expect from the greedy elite." The speech continued on to discuss Raiko's failure to respond to homelessness.
"That's not Amon. Why are we here?" Anil asked.
"You'd be surprised. If Amon is separate from the political party but still has immense support for it. So he or his minions just might be nearby," Grei explained.
"Smart thinking," Anil stated.
Meanwhile back at Air Temple Island, Meelo had been practicing to earn his master airbender status in the courtyard. He only needed to perfect a few of the high level Airbender moves. While doing this, he was soon approached by Acolyte Din. As soon as he saw him coming he stopped bending for a moment.
"Meelo, I've deciphered the journal like you asked," Din reported.
"And what does it say?" Meelo asked.
"You're not going to like this. Your father must be notified immediately." Din.
"Be notified about what?" the aging Tenzin however was nearby. He had overheard Meelo and Din and he decided to walk over and intervene.
"Master, Republic City is in grave danger," Din said.
"That's what all of the politicians and snake oil salesmen are saying," Tenzin stated. "Honestly, just because times are tough doesn't mean it's the end of the world."
"You don't understand sir. We need to alert the Avatar, and what remains of the White Lotus." Din began to hyperventilate.
"She's been missing for months," Meelo stated.
"What have you found?" Tenzin asked skeptically while staring at the book.
"It's bad sir!! Really Bad!!" Din calmed his voice. "Amon has returned..."
Tenzin gasped for a minute then evaluated the situation. "That's not possible, Noatak's autopsy report ..."
"I didn't say Noatak. I said Amon!" Din said. "And he has friends; political, financial, and even spiritual."
For the collective works of the author, go here.