Chapter Five
Chapter information

Chain Lightning





Written by


Release date

May 28, 2016

Last chapter

Chapter Four

Next chapter

Chapter Six

A bar fight starts Alex down a new path. Tannan's powers continue to grow.


"Hit it again!" Alex wiped a bead of sweat from his brow before he threw his hand forward again. A bolt of lightning flew from his fingertips and struck a mannequin standing nearby. The bright blueish white light briefly lit the room up as his target toppled over. A short clap of thunder filled the air as he released his flow of electricity. The mannequin, made of cotton and brought in from Asami's dressing room, was smoldering.

"You're getting stronger. Before the fountain you had trouble keeping a light bulb lit, now you're setting my dressing room items on fire as easily as flicking your wrist," Asami said, tapping the mannequin with the toe of her shoe.

"Just when I think I'm starting to find my limits, it turns out I'm no where even close to finding them," Alex replied as he took a drink of water. There was frustration in his voice. He wanted to be normal, or at the very least have an understanding of what he was capable of. Not knowing what he could do, particularly with these abilities, was dangerous to say the least.

"You keep going at this rate you could get a job at the power plant," Asami said as she sat the still smoking mannequin upright again.

"If I keep going at this rate I'll be able to hit someone with enough electricity their grandchildren will spontaneously combust," he replied grimly as he flopped down in a chair. Asami gave him a worried look as she made her way over and sat next to him.

"I thought you'd like this, being able to do more than you could before.

"It's the not knowing that scares me, Asami. I could very easily kill someone on accident with this if I'm not careful." The heiress could easily see the stress on his face. Springing to her feet, she grabbed Alex by the hand and pulled him up as well.

"Come on, let's go get a drink."

"I thought we were getting a drink, not you a drink."

"Sometimes I need a pick me up."

The evening sun was sinking out over the sea, and the air had a crisp bite to it. Afternoon rush hour clogged Republic City's streets. Asami walked down the street, her left arm looped through Alex's while she held a steaming cup of tea in her right. Alex had his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets in an attempt to keep his fingers warm. It wasn't that he needed gloves to keep his hands warm, arcing electricity between his fingers easily did that. But he ran the risk of electrocuting Asami, so it was the pockets for his hands.

Almost a week had passed since Alex had been released from the hospital. Virtually all of his burns and bruises had healed. To top things off, he felt stronger and more powerful. He could power all kinds of electronics longer and with less effort. His control had also improved, meaning that the electricity only came to him when he willed it. There were still instances where there'd be a powerful, and painful static shock, but these instances had grown fewer and farther between.

Alex's healing and increase in power wasn't the only thing that had changed. Asami and him had been spending virtually all of their time together, so much so that even Hiroshi, who was virtually always at Future Industries had started to take notice.

"There's another one," Alex said, motioning toward a poster attached to a nearby wall. It was an Equalist propaganda poster, one depicting Amon holding his fist aloft as he called non benders to action.

"They've been popping up a lot more recently," Asami noted.

"I know, the whole underground is talking about them."

"What do you think of them?" she asked as they stopped by a street vendor. Alex handed the man a yuan and received a meat stick in return.

"A lot of what Amon says makes sense. Benders tend to get a better take than non benders in this city."

"I'm sensing a but in there somewhere." Alex cocked an eyebrow at her.

"Probably because there is," he said, "The Equalists remind me a lot of the communist groups they had years ago back home. They promised to make things better for everyone, while terrorizing the crap out of everybody in the process."

"So you don't trust them."

"Pretty much." The couple continued to walk past the poster, deciding to get on with their evening rather than fret about the Equalists. Asami took the lead now, pulling Alex off the street into a small hole-in-the-wall club.

Fast passed swing/jazz assaulted their ears as their eyes adjusted to the light in the room. A bar ran the length of the room on their right. Booths lined the wall to their left, and in the far left corner, spotlights on the ceiling illuminated the band and a singer. Several couples were on the dance floor, swinging along to the music.

"You know I don't dance," Alex said over the music. Asami merely gave him a smile.

"I know, I'll get us a seat, you get us some drinks." Alex returned the smile before he headed to the bar. All manner of people were around him. Students, Triad members, all of them looking for a good time.

"What can I get you?" the bartender asked. Alex looked over the various bottles that lined the shelves behind the man. Dragon's Bite, the drink he usually ordered, had too much of a burn for Asami's taste.

"I need something that me and my lady friend over there can enjoy," he said, motioning over his shoulder toward the booth where Asami waited. The bartender looked Asami over before he reached under the bar and grabbed a cobalt blue bottle and a pair of glasses.

"Turtle Dove's Kiss, specially imported from Ember Island." Alex reached into his wallet and scooped out all the yuans he had before laying the bills on bar. The bartender simply smiled as he took the cash and slid the bottle toward the courier. Alex rolled his eyes at the price before he grabbed the bottle and glasses and made his way toward Asami.

"I hope this stuff is good, considering how much it costs," he said as he slid into the booth next to her.

"You could have just gotten what you usually get and saved yourself some cash," Asami said.

"That stuff burns as bad as flaming paint thinner. Besides, I felt like treating you." The two of them smiled as Alex poured the drinks. They raised their glasses in a short toast before downing the clear liquid in a single go. It had a fruity taste to it, with a nice glowing warmth afterward.

"Not bad, I think I found my new favorite drink," Asami said.

"Only for your birthday and the holidays," Alex said, giving her a look. The heiress simply smiled in response. Across the room, Han walked up to the bar and began to order a drink. A drunk Triad member stumbled into the courier, who was already in a foul mood. He shoved the drunk back, and in an instant a fight broke out.

"Hey, a tussle," Alex said, perking up as he took notice of the scrap. Asami was well aware of her boyfriend's knack of getting involved in bar fights, or fights in general. More than once, she had applied a piece of cold meat to a black eye or swollen cheek when he had stumbled back into the mansion. That was the primary reasoning for the glare she sent his way now.

"Don't. Even. Think about it," she said.

"Relax, I'm not getting involved in a fight while I'm out on the town with you. Besides, I owe Han one anyway," he replied as they looked toward the fight. Two Triad members had grabbed Han by arms and restrained him while a third moved punch him repeatedly in the gut.

Han, despite already having a split lip and bloody nose, had no intention of ending the fight like this. He swung his legs upward and kicked the Triad member that was coming at him. The man, a firebender based on his clothing, stumbled backwards and fell, smashing through Alex and Asami's table. The couple watched as their bottle sailed into the air and shattered across the floor.

"So, about that whole not getting involved thing..."

"They wasted a full bottle of my drink...kick some ass, light bulb," Asami said with an evil smile. Alex kissed her on the cheek before he let out a battle cry and tacked the nearest Triad member.

"I've taken self-defense classes since I was a little girl, and never have I seen someone fight like that," Asami said as they stumbled out of the bar with her supporting Alex on her shoulder. The courier was supporting a few scratches on his cheeks, a fat upper lip, a split lower lip, and blood was flowing freely from his left nostril.

"My dad was in the Army Rangers, and insisted that I know how to defend myself," he replied.

"Well you sure did a number on those Triad members."

"Yeah, that's what's got me worried. We should get moving before more of their friends show up. None of the Triads take it very well if you beat up a few of their members," Alex said. As if on cue, the roar of a car engine filled the air. A red and gold Triple Threat Triad racer rounded the corner and came to a halt next to the couple.

"There's the little punk, get him!" shouted the driver as a group of four members climbed out of the car. Two of them grabbed Alex by the arms, while a third went to grab Asami. The heiress wasted no time, grabbing the Triad member's outstretched arm and twisting it so that she was behind him with his arm bent at an awkward angle. A sickening pop filled the air as she dislocated the man's shoulder and let him fall to the street wailing in pain.

"Your girl's got skill, Chambers, but that's not going to stop us from sending you to the hospital," the driver said, a firebender based on his clothing.

"She's not the only one," Alex said with a glare. Grabbing one of the Triad members, he gave the man a quick static shock. With his arm now free, he turned and drove a fist into the face of the remaining Triad, breaking the man's nose in the process. Turning back to the first man, Alex put him into a choke hold and held tight until he quit struggling.

"Not bad for a non-bender, eh? Come on, hot shot, give me your all!" Alex said as he turned back to the driver.

"You must be drunk off your ass if you think a non-bender can handle this. But who am I to question what you want in life," the driver replied. He gave his arms a wide arc before thrusting his hand forward with his index and middle finger extended. A bolt of lightning covered the distance between the two in an instant, launching Alex backward into the wall behind him.

The driver smiled sinisterly as he turned his attention from the downed courier to Asami. He held up his hands and allowed flames to dance across his fingers. No amount of self-defense training would be able to protect the heiress from his assault, and both of them knew it. Asami took a half step backwards and got into a fighting stance. She wasn't going down in without a fight.

To the driver's surprise, and Asami's delight, Alex pushed himself back to his feet. His shirt was smoldering where the lightning had stuck him. But they both watched as the cuts and bruises on his face healed before their eyes. Alex glanced down at his hands. His knuckles, which had been scrapped up and bloodied from the fight inside the bar, were healing as well.

"My turn," he said before throwing his hand outward. Instantly his own arc of electricity sprang forward. Unlike the firebender's lightning bolt, which had been a single concentrated arc, Alex's bolt was several arcs clumped close together. They all struck the driver in the chest, sending him flying backwards over the hood of the car and into the street.

Walking forward, Alex knelt and checked to see if the driver was still alive. To his relief, he found the man singed and unconscious, but alive nonetheless. Asami appeared at his side, looking over the fallen Triad member as well.

"Well, you didn't kill him, but he won't have any body hair for a while," she said. Alex stood and looked over the aftermath of the fight. This wasn't the first time someone had actively tried to hurt him, but it was the first time someone had hunted him down for that purpose. The fact that they had intended to hurt Asami as well only added fuel to the fire that was growing in his belly.

"They came after you, for something I did," he said, his voice barely above a whisper.

"I can handle myself, Alex, I'm not afraid." He looked down at his hand and watched the electricity dance through his fingers.

"You're right. You shouldn't be afraid. And maybe it's time I wasn't afraid either. Maybe it's time I did something other than just sit around zap light bulbs," he said before he looked her in the eye, "Maybe it's time I teach the Triads something about fear."

Dragon Flats Borough.

"You should know that there is nothing personal about this. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, I'm sorry," Tannan said before he released his hold on the police officer. The metalbender didn't make a noise, but simply collapsed to the ground with a clang. Taking a breath, the scientist threw his arms forward. Instantly the metalbender's armor peeled itself off of its former owner's body and wrapped itself around him.

"Hm, metalbending. This should come in handy," he said before he plucked the helmet from the man's body and slid it on. Walking out of the alley, Tannan stopped briefly to check his reflection in the glass of a storefront window. He looked every bit the part of a metalbending officer. Giving himself a small grin, he continued on as if nothing had happened.

His plan was a simple one. Infiltrate the Police Department and use their records to locate either Alex or Kelly. That, and he wanted revenge on the police for their involvement in his incarceration at the mental ward. He had discovered that the more people he drained, the stronger he got. If he got even a few members of the metalbending police force, he would become more powerful than Toph Beifong herself. And why should he stop at metal and earthbending? The police were fighting the Triads, which gave him targets that were water and firebenders. If his plan worked, he could become more powerful than this Avatar person he had heard so much about.

Tannan continued to smile to himself as he walked. This had started as a scientific endeavor, a means of discovering what a human could accomplish with his hands and his mind. But it had become so much more. This was about evolution. This was about becoming so powerful, he could rival a god. He had always been laughed at, or mocked, or just disregarded in general. Now was his chance to change all of that.

The pinnacle of it all was Alex. He had seen the newspaper story covering the teen's seemingly miraculous survival after being electrocuted. But Tannan knew enough to read between the lines. If he had developed abilities after the accident, then young Chambers must have as well. He didn't know about young Kelly, but Alex he knew for sure was in the city.

And if he could gain this kind of power by draining a bender, what could he gain by draining one like him?

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