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The ninth chapter of Book Two of
January 17, 2011
After the group arrives at the colony, Sierra tries to leave, convinced Leah doesn't need her anymore.
Two Months Later
Leah looked out the window at the endless forest flying below them. Hidden somewhere in the land full of lakes and trees lay the colony of Mesaba, hidden next to a lake of the same name. Sierra sat next to her on the small plane. Keith was behind them, and Jacque, Gabe, and Ryan were in front, giving directions to the pilot.
"Does the pilot know?" Sierra asked.
"About us? Yes. But he doesn't live here. And we don't have an airstrip." Keith replied.
"Then how are we landing?"
"We're not." Keith simply said.
"You're not afraid of heights are you?"
"Yes. We need to provide an excuse for the captain flying all the way out here."
"So he only works at Tower to fly colonists out here?"
"Yes, he also keeps watch for the BDA coming out here."
"What about the Elite? Why aren't they trying to shoot us down?"
"They didn't attack once during the time we were in Knoxville, so why now?"
Jacque walked back from the cockpit to the back of the plane, opening a compartment and tossing out parachutes and goggles.
"Get ready, Mesaba is five minutes away." Jacque urgently said, strapping one on himself.
"Are Gabe and Ryan coming?" Leah asked.
"No, they want to go back to Xylia and clean it up a bit, protect it from any prowling BDA agents."
Jacque opened the door to the outside and recoiled as air rushed in a roar. Leah, Sierra, and Keith strapped parachutes and goggles on. Jacque pointed out the window to a lake among thousands in the endless forest.
"See that?" he shouted above the wind.
"Yeah!" they all responded.
"That's Mesaba Lake! The big peninsula stretching in on the left is the colony! When I jump, you follow right after, okay?"
The group all nodded, a nervous look on all their faces. A split second later, Jacque jumped without hesitation, plunging for a few seconds, then deploying his parachute. The group followed straight afterwards, jumping out in succession and pulling their chutes. The plane rushed on ahead of them, turning north towards Canada.
Jacque turned to the left, diving in on the peninsula he pointed out. The group followed after, trying to keep on course. A few tense minutes later, Jacque landed, met by a group of colonists. Leah and the others landed a few more minutes later, met with the same enthusiasm. An older woman came up to them, wearing a long white robe to match her waist length hair.
"Welcome to Mesaba! I am Padma, keeper of the colony. You must be Avatar Leah, and her friend Sierra," she said warmly, shaking the two's hands.
"A pleasure to meet you." Leah said, trying to get her hand back.
"And you must be Keith?" she said, pointing her attention to Keith.
"My, you are a lucky one, aren't you? Lucky to have these two girls around, right?" she said with an overly large smile.
"I guess, ma'am," he said awkwardly.
"Well, let's get you settled in, shall we?" she said, gesturing to the colony.
The group looked around at the colony, and were amazed at the grandeur. Instead of earthen huts there were wooden buildings, complete with electricity and plumbing. All the buildings lay beneath trees to hide them from planes. At the edge of the peninsula, there was a pier and several small fishing boats. Leah and Sierra followed Padma to one cabin while Keith went with Jacque.
Two weeks later, night fell as the crickets sounded out over the colony of Mesaba. Snores and sniffles sounded out from the various cabins, and the fishing boats rocked silently on the lake. At Leah and Sierra's cabin, the sound of squeaking wood sounded out and pierced the silence. Moments later, the front door opened out into the outside.
Sierra walked out of the cabin and looked to her right and left, wary of any watching colonists. Confident that she was alone, she walked down the steps to the ground and began walking west, away from the lake. A small smile escaped her as she continued walking away from all the madness.
"What're you doing?" a male voice called out.
Sierra almost fell to the ground in shock at the sudden outburst. Picking herself up, she looked behind her, relieved to see only Keith.
"Oh, it's you. What're you doing up at this hour?"
"What're you doing?" he asked without hesitation.
"Nothing Keith, just go back to sleep."
"I don't know Keith, just go back to sleep."
"Then why are you leaving without her?"
"I just need to do this Keith; can you please just let me go?"
"Not without Leah."
"Why is it even your concern?" Sierra asked, her patience declining.
"Because you're her friend. Aren't you?"
"Of course I am."
"Then why are you leaving without her? Without even saying goodbye?"
"Because I need to Keith!"
"I've had enough, okay?"
Keith sat down on the steps of the cottage and beckoned Sierra over. Sierra walked over and sat next to him, trying not to stare at his healed, pink scar.
"Why have you had enough?" Keith asked sincerely.
"It's just been too much for me. I can't take it anymore."
"Attacks, threats, boredom, cruelty, war, you name it! In the past six months, I've learned about benders, been shot out of two planes, detained in the Rogues colony, heard someone be tortured and killed, and seen people incinerated into ash! I jumped out of a freaking plane today! What else do you need for reason?"
"Leah's your friend."
"Well she is, but.."
"But this is too much! I can't take it anymore! Why does she even need me?"
"What do you mean?"
"The four elements are all at her fingertips! She can make fire and take water out of thin air! She can take the water out of plants! She can freeze water and make earthquakes, swim through metal, mimic magnetism, and create tornadoes! What does she need me for?"
"Well, the weight of the world is on her shoulders, don't you think she'd need someone to help bear it?"
"What do you mean?"
"Leah is the Avatar. She is the only one on the planet who is the Avatar. There can only be one Avatar at a time, so she is the only one who will be able to do the Avatar's duty. No one is alive on Earth to help her figure it out or tell her what to do. Don't you think a person with that much responsibility needs a friend to help with the pain?"
"Sierra, she has nothing left. She was taken from her home, her mother's moved on without her. When she was taken, she lost all her friends, her family, everything she knew. You are the only thing left to her."
"Except for you."
"Me?" Keith snickered for a moment. "Why me? I'm just a kid she stumbled upon. I'm lucky to be alive because of her. The only reason she stayed with me was because of guilt and pity, not because she likes me."
"You don't know that."
"You keep telling yourself what you know, but what do you believe? What do you feel?"
"I know I should be leaving. This is too much."
"Then stop telling yourself what you know you should do. What you know is that you should leave because this is getting out of hand. However, tell what yourself what you feel. What do you feel you should do? What does your heart tell you?"
"My heart tells me to stay with her," Sierra sighed.
"Then that's what you should do."
"Then why does my mind tell me to go home?"
"Sierra, may I ask why you even came along in the first place?"
"She said she needed a friend, and that she would take me to my father."
"Your father? Why do you need Leah to take you to him, where is he?"
"He's in New York on business."
"Again, why do you need Leah to take you there?"
Sierra hesitated for a moment and said, "Because I'm afraid."
"Afraid? Afraid of what?"
"I don't know, I'm just afraid of seeing him."
"Because I'm afraid of what I'll do, what'll happen."
"Sierra, what makes you afraid of what'll happen?"
"He left me."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, when I was seven years old, he left me at our mansion in Alice Springs. He said he left on business and he would be back when he could, but he never came back. He never sent one letter, one phone call, one little check-up. I've been stuck there on my own, except for our butler, there ever since."
"And you're afraid of what reaction you'll have when you see him?"
"Yes. Will I be sad, angry, confused, grateful? I don't know what to do."
"But you still want to see him."
"Yes. I miss him so much. He's the only family left to me."
"Then why do you still want to leave."
"I don't know."
"C'mon, that's not it. There's something else."
"Keith, we left in January to go to New York."
"It's June. Leah has only learned one new technique, and we're no closer to New York. I feel like she's just wandering on this path and she has no idea where she's going."
"You feel like your journey is going nowhere?"
"Well, that may be so, but maybe it's meant to be."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if you had gone straight to New York, you never would've learned about the Mistress, you never would've stumbled on the Xylia attack, and I wouldn't be here now.
"Then don't you think that maybe you should just trust fate and see where it leads?"
"Then that's what you should do."
"You're pretty wise for a twelve year old, you know?"
"Oh. Thanks," he said, flattered intensely.
"Keith?" Sierra whispered.
"Why do you want me to stay with her?"
"Leah's just like me. Alone, and with nothing. When the Elite attacked, I lost everything. My parents, my friends. And this."
Keith reached into his pocket and retrieved a paper singed on the edges. He unfolded it and handed to Sierra. She read over it rapidly and small tears formed in her eyes.
"You wrote this?" she said, handing it back.
"I did," he replied, folding it carefully and putting it back in his pocket.
"Don't give me that, who is it?"
"Who was it," he corrected.
"Oh, I didn't realize...I'm sorry," she said.
"Sierra, don't worry about it. You need to stop being so sensitive. Her name was Kenzie. Kenzie Jones."
"And you wrote this for her?"
"Yeah, I was trying to tell her I liked her."
"It brought the message across, you did a good job of that,"
"Yeah, it's actually the only reason I wasn't killed with the others at Xylia."
"What do you mean?"
"I left the colony to go and work on this. I had made a secret tunnel through the mountain that led to the river, outside the boundaries of our town. I fell asleep by the river, and when I woke up, the wall of fog surrounded me. I rushed back to the city, and found it a tattered mess, and all the people I loved, gone. The sky's perfect blue was stained with plumes of smoke. The trees that once guarded us from watchful eyes were toxic stumps. The grass we played in was slaughtered and a sickly grey.
I walked around the ruined village, looking around for any sign of life. I refused to let myself shed a single tear until I knew it was true. I climbed to the top of the hill, a great fire was burning and sending this, this pillar of smoke into the sky. I knew by the time I reached the top that it was true. My home, my colony was destroyed by the BDA."
"What did you do when you found out?"
"What could I do? There was nothing left."
"Why weren't you sad about Kenzie, and all your friends?"
"I was at first, but I've had two months to think about it, and there's nothing left to mourn for. There's nothing left to do but move on."
"Keith?" Sierra asked.
"You still haven't told me why you wanted me to stay with Leah."
"Read the bottom paragraph of the poem," he said, tossing it back to Sierra. He waited for a moment while she read it then said, "I wrote that after I first saw her. Leah's an angel to me, and she is to you too. She's here to help all of us. But she can't do it alone."
- The author skipped over the two months in which Keith recuperates because he felt that it would slow down the chapter.
- The author also only skimmed over arriving at the colony because he wanted the chapter to focus on Sierra.
- Quote "You keep telling yourself what you know, but what do you believe? What do you feel?" is from the Christopher Nolan movie, Inception.
For the collective works of the author, go here.