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May 26, 2015
Alex learns more about his new abilities. Alex and Asami attend a Gala.
"You know, I could sitting at home right now, enjoying my freedom as a young adult freshly graduated from high school. But noooo, the nut job doctor just HAD to show off his new experiment," Alex muttered to himself as he ducked beneath another cobweb. In his right hand was a short metal pipe with a light bulb stuck in the end. The bulb was giving off a warm, yet faint yellow glow thanks to Alex sending an electric current through the pipe. He had scavenged both parts from the tunnel in an effort to create a makeshift torch so that he could navigate with light. But the bulb's age was a factor, and he didn't want to risk accidentally sending too much power through and causing it to break, or explode for that matter.
"Now here you are, trapped in some weird steampunk parallel world with lightning powers. Navigating an abandoned maintenance tunnel so that the police don't catch you smuggling, wait, what the hell am I carrying anyway?" he asked himself as he quickly came to a halt and pulled the small package out. With nimble fingers, he opened the package and found himself cradling a small glass vile filled with a clear liquid. The writing on the bottle was small and hard to read, but for once Alex was grateful that Asami had taken it upon herself to teach him how to read the Chinese lettering this world used.
"Shirshu Venom? The hell is a Shirshu? You know what, fuck it, I got better things to do than wonder why some Terra Triad asshole wants you so bad," Alex said before slipping the package back into his pocket. Holding his makeshift torch a little higher, the courier made his way forward again. He slipped out of the small maintenance tunnel he had been following and now found himself standing in a much larger tunnel.
Unlike the last tunnel, which had been a square shaped design, this tunnel was round and had a moist smell to it. The faint echo of water dripping could be heard in the distance as Alex's gaze settled on a pair of parallel iron rails in the middle of the tunnel.
"Abandoned subway tunnel. Now we're getting somewhere," he muttered to himself. Figuring that the tracks had to lead somewhere, Alex chose to turn right and follow the tunnel. Occasionally, a spider rat would scamper away into the darkness just beyond the range of his light. He resisted the urge to send a blast of electricity their way, knowing full well that he needed to save his energy to power the light bulb.
The more he walked, the more Alex thought about the current situation of his life. Kelly's disappearance had him growing more worried with each passing day. She was like the sister he had never had, and to go this long without knowing about her welfare was nerve racking. But, over the past three months, Alex found that his childhood friend wasn't the only young woman occupying his thoughts.
As many times as he had tried to push it away, he found that he simply couldn't get Asami out of his head. She had been a good friend to him when most people had not. She had taken him into her own home, offering him a place to stay when she didn't have to. And, she had kept his developing powers a secret when he had asked her to. Not many people he knew would do any of those things.
Of course, it didn't help that she was drop dead beautiful either. Sure, he had tried not to notice the way the sun shined off of her raven black hair, or the way her bright green eyes bored into him when he had done something stupid. He had most definitely tried not to notice the way her bathing suit clung to her when she had first showed him the mansion's pool, or any time since for that matter.
"Focus, Alex. Tunnel now, daydreaming later," he muttered, shaking his head in an effort to bring it back from the clouds. He still had a job to finish, and the last thing he needed was THOSE kinds of thoughts creeping into his head. Things were already awkward enough as it was.
The tracks came a sudden and abrupt end, bringing Alex out of his thoughts as he stopped to study the tunnel around him. From what he could gather, it appeared that construction of the tracks had ended much sooner than intended, probably from a lack of funds. The tunnel itself continued onward into darkness, leaving him to sigh in resignation before he continued onward.
As he continued to walk, Alex began to feel the strain of powering the light bulb for so long. He felt tired, drained, like all he wanted to do was lay down and take a long nap. The feeling only increased as he kept walking. His feet began to feel heavy, like his shoes were made of lead. He had felt these things beforehand when experimenting with his powers, but there had always been a source of electricity nearby for him to quickly rejuvenate.
Groaning, Alex stumbled as a sudden wave of dizziness washed over him. His hand flew out to catch himself on the wall, but he lost his grip on the makeshift torch. The sound of the glass bulb shattering on the concrete floor seemed to echo forever as the tunnel was plunged into pitch darkness. Keeping his hand to the wall, Alex began to inch his way forward.
"Okay God, if I make it out of this nightmare, I'll ask Asami out on a date. What's the worst that could happen? Aside from, you know, the potential of ruining our friendship and making things eternally awkward. Shut up, Alex, focus on getting out of here," he rambled to himself. As he felt along the tunnel wall, he began to notice that he could see something in the darkness.
It was a light, or rather several small lines of light, lacing through the darkness around him like a glowing spiderweb. The more he focused on the light, the more he realized what it was. It was things that were powered by electricity. He could see the power flowing all around him, even through the thick concrete and stone. As he focused harder, he realized he could see the outline of the buildings above him, watching as the electricity flowed into them to power anything electrical.
"That's new," he said to himself in awe. Studying the lines, he realized that he wasn't far from an incomplete metro station, and a possible way out. Picking up the pace, he quickly hurried along the tunnel, keeping his hand on the wall as a reassurance. His new found ability to see electricity didn't help the fact that he was still blind within this tunnel. He could see the tunnel's outline, but any detail beyond that was non existent. Perhaps this is what metalbenders felt when they used seismic sense.
Entering the station, Alex quickly climbed onto the platform from the track bed. He half felt, half followed the lights as he made his way though the station to the boarded up entrance. Using what little strength he had left, he kicked his way through the boards and stumbled out into the open night air.
After taking a quick look around to confirm where he was, Alex began to walk. Despite being back on the surface and once again able to use his eyes, he could still see electricity flowing all around him. He could not only see the buildings, but the outlines of several rooms and appliances contained within each one. It was disorientating to say the least.
Spotting a junction box located in an alleyway nearby, Alex made his way over and yanked the metal door open. He looked the wires over, studying not only them but the power that flowed inside them.
"I'm so going to regret this," he said before he latched onto all of the wires with both hands. A shower of sparks flew from the box as Alex felt the power enter his body. He could only hang on for a moment before the power flowing into him proved to much, blasting him backward into the opposite wall of the alley.
Alex groaned and sat up. The smell of burnt clothing reached his nose, and he realized that he could see scorch marks on his sleeves. But, slowly, he watched his ability to see electricity fade. Perhaps it only emerged when he was really low on power, like his throat going dry when he was thirsty.
Standing up again, Alex brushed himself off and began to walk. There were no Police Airships in sight, and he wasn't far from his destination. It was time to make the drop, get paid, and get back to some place that he could safely rest.
"Ah, Master Chambers, welcome back. May I take your coat?" A servant said as he opened the door for Alex. After the day's events, he was beyond exhausted. Pulling his hoodie over his head, he draped the garment over the servant's extended arm before he continued through the mansion to the pool room.
With a groan, he flopped down on one of the lounge chairs and closed his eyes. The sound of water flowing from the lion turtle statue's mouth was something that he found calming. Perhaps if he laid here long enough, he could recover some from his very long day.
"Bad day?" came Asami's voice. Alex didn't bother to open his eyes.
"I just spent three hours picking my way through a series of abandoned maintenance and subway tunnels while constantly powering a light bulb," he replied. He could hear the sound of Asmai sitting on the other lounge chair.
"Spirits, you must be exhausted."
"I feel like I just got done running two marathons."
"Han did something stupid, and I wound up covering his ass. Like usual."
"He got arrested again, didn't he?" Alex opened his eyes and looked at Asami for the first time. Remembering the promise he had made in the tunnel, he almost wished he hadn't. The heiress was wearing a black one piece bathing suit, making his tongue feel dry and heavy in his mouth.
"Yeah," he managed to croak out.
"Another bar fight?"
"Not exactly, but he was resisting arrest again," he said, somehow managing to resume control of his vocal cords. Taking a breath, he decided to change the topic.
"Hey, Asami. I got a question for you."
"Sure, what's up?"
"Alex, my boy!" Both the courier and the heiress jumped at the sound of the new voice. Standing nearby was Hiroshi Sato, Asami's father.
"Hey, Mr. Sato, what can I do for you?" Alex asked.
"I told you, call me Hiroshi."
"Whatever you say, Mr. Sato." Hiroshi had agreed to take Alex in and give him a roof over his head, so Alex was bound and determined to show the inventor of the Satomobile the utmost respect. The business tycoon shook his head, but decided to let it slide with an amused smile in his eyes.
"There's a gala being held Saturday night to commemorate the sixty fifth anniversary of the founding of Republic City. Asami and I have been invited, and we have an invitation for a plus one," he said. Alex looked past Hiroshi to Asami.
"Gala is a fancy word for fancy party right?" he asked with an eyebrow cocked. She simply nodded, an amused smirk on her lips.
"I don't know, Mr. Sato, tuxedos and champagne glasses aren't really my thing."
"Oh, it's not so bad. The food is catered by some of the finest restaurants in the city. And besides, Asami could use an escort."
"Dad!" Asami exclaimed, her cheeks turning a shade of pink. Alex blinked in surprise and disbelief. Did Hiroshi just try to set him and Asami up on a date?
"You know I don't have anything nice enough for something like that," he said. It wasn't that he was nervous about the possibility of going on a form of a date with Asami, it was just that he wasn't comfortable with parties. Or large gatherings of wealthy people. Or people in general. Of course, having electrical abilities that may or may not be under his control didn't help matters either.
"You let me worry about that. So, will you join us?" Hiroshi asked. Alex glanced back and forth between the two.
"Alright, I'll go. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?" he asked. Hiroshi beamed, but Asami shot him a look of horror.
"Excellent! I'll get my personal tailor on the job at once!" the businessman said before leaving the room. Asami's look didn't fade.
"'What's the worst that could happen?' Are you trying to turn the universe against you? You know exactly what can happen."
"Are you sure you're not just worried about being set up on a date with me by your dad?" Alex asked.
"I'm worried about my best friend turning into a lightning rod in the middle of a room full of Republic City's elite," Asami replied. Alex sat up and gently placed his hands on her shoulders.
"Asami, I have enough control over it now that I don't discharge unless I want to. Everything will be fine," he said, his gray eyes looking deep into her green. Finally, she sighed and visibility relaxed.
"Okay, I trust you. But if something goes wrong, I'm blaming you."
Republic City Four Elements Hotel.
"How do people stand wearing this stuff all the time?" Alex asked as he tugged on his collar. He was clearly uncomfortable with the tux he was currently in.
"You've never been in a tuxedo before, have you?" Asami asked. The heiress was wearing a dark red evening dress and had her left arm hooked through the crook in Alex's right. They were in the Hotel's main foyer. Several people milled about around them. The wealthy and the famous rubbed shoulders with foreign diplomats and government officials.
"I wore one for my senior prom," he said. Asami blinked and shot him a look.
"Did you just remember something?" Alex frowned as he realized his slip up. He still maintained memory loss as his cover story, but he still didn't know how to tell Asami the truth. Who would believe him anyway? He was from a different world that didn't have bending as was years ahead in terms of technology. After three months of being here, even he was finding it hard to believe.
"Yeah, I think I did," he said, deciding to roll with it.
"That's great! Is there anything else?"
"I remember that I went with Kelly, but other than that everything's fuzzy," he said. Asami eyed him curiously.
"Are you sure that this Kelly girl wasn't your girlfriend?" she asked.
"Why Asami, do I detect I hint of jealousy?" This earned him a hard punch to the arm.
"Okay, point taken. No, she was my closest and oldest friend, but we were never involved romantically."
"It sounds like you two would have made a good couple."
"I always thought of Kelly as the sister I never had. Besides, I've got my eye on someone else."
"Who?" Alex's eyes flashed with amusement.
"Wouldn't you like to know."
"Is it June?" Now he could detect the jealousy in her voice.
"Why do you want to know so bad, Asami?"
"Because I've had my eye on someone too," she said, staring straight ahead as they walked into a large ballroom. Alex felt his mouth go dry. Was it possible that she liked him as more than a friend? Or, much more to his distaste, was it possible that Asami liked someone else and was using him as an example?
"Anyone I know?" he asked as they came to a halt next to a rather large fountain. Water cascaded down into a pool over the four elemental symbols. Large submerged lights shined out from the bottom of the pool, illuminating the rest of the pool in a golden shimmering light.
"I'll tell you, if you tell me," Asami replied. Any hint of joking was gone between them was gone now, leaving a feeling a tension in the air between the two.
"Hey there, little lady," came the drunken slur of a young pale man with purple hair. The way he walked, aside from the drunken stagger, made it clear that he thought very highly of himself. The smell of alcohol flooded their nostrils.
"Can I help you?" Asami asked, her face wrinkling in at the smell wafting off of him.
"Maybe you've heard of me. I'm Tahno, of the White Falls Wolfbats. Pro-Bending champions three years running," he replied.
"Okay, that neat, good to know," Alex said, placing himself between Tahno and Asami.
"Hey, hey, keep it relaxed man, I'm just trying to have a conversation with the dame is all."
"WE were already having a conversation."
"You were? Psh, a street rat like you wouldn't know the first thing to say to a gal like her."
"If you must know, this 'gal' that you're referring to is here on HIS arm, and we were having a conversation that you rudely interrupted," Asami said, intertwining her arm with his as if they were a couple. The drunken Pro-Bender looked back and forth between the two for a moment before he gave a shrug.
"Ah well, there's always next time. Catch you later, doll," he said as he walked away. But before he totally left, he gave a swift pat onto Asami's rear end. Faster than a bolt of lightning, two things happened. The Heiress' face turned a bright shade of crimson from rage, and Alex's fist connected with the spot between Tahno's eyes at full force.
Tahno sprawled out on the floor, and in an instant Alex had his tux jacket off and his sleeves pulled up, ready for a fight. The murmurings of conversation died down as all eyes turned toward the commotion.
"Alex, he's drunk, and you're causing a scene," Asami warned.
"That maybe true, but he's also a raging ass who insulted your honor," he replied as the waterbender began to get to his feet.
"Alright, if that's how you wanna play, let me show ya why the Wolfbats are the champs!" Tahno said before throwing up his arms. A tentacle of water shot out of the fountain, and before Alex could react, he was dragged into the fountain's pool.
Sparks and arcs of electricity instantly flew from the water, causing everyone to take several steps back. What sounded like corks being popped from champagne bottles was actually the sound of the underwater lights exploding. In the center of it all, Alex's body kicked and thrashed about like a fish out of water.
"ALEX!" Asami screamed, starting to rush forward. But a strong arm wrapped around her midsection and held her back.
"No kid, you'll get fried!" came a gruff female voice from behind her. Asami glanced back in her struggle to get free and realized she was being restrained by Lin Beifong herself. After a few moments, the light show finally died down, and Alex's body stopped thrashing about. He was floating face up in the fountain, and it was impossible to tell if he was alive or dead.
"Get an ambulance, now!"
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