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August 15, 2015
Footsteps echoed quietly against the stone walls, the walls of the same building where the final meeting was held two weeks ago. The hallway was dark and quiet, only two figures were walking trough it resolute to reach the hall first.
Chief Desna and his son were walking without words, the chief had a calm, unreadable expression on his face, while his son had a rather worried one. The chief was a tall and thin man, walking in his usual authoritatively manner, his hair that was once dark black, now streaked with grey here and there, falling on his back.
His son could be about seventeen, give or take a year, resembling to the chief very much in appearance, except for his eyes. Prince Turkko's eyes were turquoise, unlike his father's light blue ones. His eyes were the only thing left to him to remember his mother by.
Turkko ran his fingers trough his long black hair trying to calm himself down.
"Dad?" he whispered. The echoing of his voice seemed somehow inappropriate this early in the morning. The chief nodded to show that he's listening.
"Dad, I don't think that I can do this," Turkko muttered, and suddenly realized what he said and bit his lower lip.
The chief stopped walking to look into his son's eyes. "Why would you think something like that of yourself?" he asked quietly. Sounds really echoed inappropriately loud in this hallway.
"Because I'm...the only nonbender of the group and I...actually can't really fight. Really, I'm not really that good." His eyes were blue pools of mixed worry and panic.
The chief couldn't help but smile. Turkko loved it when he smiled, even though he smiled rarely, it just made it more special, like New Year. He focused himself on remembering the picture of his father smiling before he leaves, on the almost insensible dimples on his cheeks and tiny wrinkles around his eyes.
"Turkko." His father's words interrupted his thoughts. "I believe in you." Somehow, those four words took the burden of Turkko's back. Most of it. What if the benders of the group wouldn't accept him? Even though thirty years have passed since the Anti-bending revolution, social differences were still visible between the benders and the nonbenders, especially since The Takeover. Turkko was lucky enough to be born into a royal family, and the North Pole that wasn't completely affected as the republics.
"Wait," the chief continued. "I have something I want you to have." He pulled something out of his robes. "I should have given that to you long time ago," he said more for himself than to Turkko. He handed Turkko a small wrinkly piece of paper.
It was a photograph, at least twenty five years old, black and white, showing a young couple somewhere on the North Pole. Turkko recognized the younger version of his father. He was smiling on the photo, with that smile reserved for his son and for his wife only. Next to him was a young woman, if not beautiful than pretty, with long brown hair and turquoise eyes that were a copy of Turkko's.
Turkko was looking at the photograph like it was the most valuable thing on the world. "Mom."
The chief smiled at his son a bit awkwardly. "I thought that you should have it... since you never had a chance to properly meet your mother and it's all my fault."
Turkko shook his head and stored the photograph carefully into his pocket. "Why did she had to leave?"
The chief sighed. "I don't know."
They continued walking down the hall to reach the meeting hall. It was already half past five.
Fifteen minutes later, Master Jinora and her daughter opened the doors of the very same meeting hall Turkko arrived at with his father.
Kain didn't look anything alike her mother, Jinora's light skin in contrast with Kain's tanned, and her mother's straight dark hair compared to Kain's messy, shoulder-length hair bouncing behind her as she ran to catch up with her mother.
"Mother, are we late?" Kain whispered taking the seat next to her mother. Jinora shook her head and committed to the papers in front of her. Kain looked around. The room was dark, the windows being covered, and the only furniture in the room was the table they were sitting on and a small table holding a projector pointed to white wall.
The projection showed the logo of The Council for Security dancing lazily on the wall.
CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS. CfS.
The room was almost empty, the only people except for Kain and her mother being Desna and Turkko.
Kain closed that the boy sitting opposite to her with a worried expression on his face must be the other member of the team. That meant that they're going to spend next few months working and living together. Shewould love to introduce herself, but she didn't dare to break silence.
The mission itself was still mostly unknown to Kain and the other team members, whom she would love to meet (she was a person who always wanted to know everyone and have everything under control.), but they were told that the leaders of the project, who were, if Kain remembered correctly (and she usually did), chief Desna and president Tayen, would explain everything to them.
Including everything about The Takeover. she wanted to learn more about The Takeover for years, but every time she asked about that, they would tell her that it wasn't important for her to know all the details. Just accept that you're not a free person. The world in last twenty years, she realized, was unfair.
People slowly started to arrive, the first being a black-haired woman who exchanged a nod with Jinora before taking seat next to chief Desna. The second one was a tall and extremely overweight man, the president of the Earth Republic. After them, president Tayen walked in, short, thin woman in thirties with messy mop of black hair and bright green eyes.
She was followed by the Metal Clan patriarch (Kain recognized him because of the Native robes of the metal clan) and his daughter, short, skinny black haired girl dressed in simple green clothes.
She sat next to Kain, slightly leaning back on the chair, and she saw her opportunity to introduce herself. She cleared her throat.
"Hey." The Earth Republic girl turned her head. "You must be the Air Nomads' representative."
"Yes," She replied in properly official voice. "My name is Kain. And you are?" she extended her hand.
The girl raised her eyebrow but shook her hand. "I'm Tan. Tan Beifong."
Kain had a feeling that she should say something else, but she couldn't think of anything. She checked her wristwatch. It was already six thirty.
"Mother, shouldn't the meeting have started already?" The airbender whispered. She noticed that Tan was nervously tapping the table, and the Water Tribe boy was talking to his father.
"We're waiting for the last representative. Varrick is of course late," the Metal Clan patriarch answered instead of Jinora. Kain shook hands with him half-heartedly. Panic started to take over. The mission haven't started, and someone is already ruining it with this act of irresponsibility. This mission was of greatest importance.
"Alright, is he coming?" President Feng said nervously.
"I don't know. He said that he was coming," the black haired woman said.
"Well somebody call him!" President Feng slammed the table with his hand.
"If Varrick doesn't show up we're starting without him!" Chief Desna said, walking over to the projector. The logo disappeared, and words appeared on the wall.
Project Anti-SI. Why, how and when.
The doors suddenly opened and two people ran in. First was a man whom Kain recognized as the owner of a long time ago successful company, that of course went down, and the second one was a boy looking very alike to him, he could be around nineteen, maybe twenty and he had brown curly hair and thin mustache. He was nervously pushing round glasses up his nose.
"Sorry I'm late! I was driving all the way from downtown! Sorry!" he apologized pushing his way to the empty seat, his father shaking hands with all people in the room.
President Tayen walked over to chief Desna.
"Without any further interruptions, we shall start our presentation," the chief started, all heads turning to the wall.
"As you probably know, today we are here to start The Council for Security secret mission Anti-SI. Many of you know exactly why, but for our representatives, I will explain it from the beginning. Project Anti-SI started two years ago, led by President Tayen and me. To explain the goals of the mission, I will have to go back in time, to 181 AG."
The projection changed, showing black letters 181 AG and few pictures below.
"In 181 AG, Avatar Korra," he said pointing to the last picture of Korra ever taken; she was smiling and waving at the photographers, "took off for the Earth Republic. We don't know exactly why, but her family said that she mentioned talking to Kuvira. Kuvira was at that time in the special prison in the Earth Republic. Nobody knows what happened to her. She was supposed to reach the Airport in the Republic just few hours later. The world thought that her airship crashed. Many rescue teams were sent, but no one ever found the airship. She was proclaimed to be dead next year. But let's focus on what happened seven years later. 189 AG."
The projection changed.
"In 189 AG Spirits Industries appeared on the world market. It started as a small company. It produced radios and other technology. Soon, they made their most famous invention."
The projection changed. It showed a gray rectangular object, occupying half of the room, small black screen on the side and four scientists around it.
"Computer. The machine that can run other machines. That launched Spirits industries into the world market. You can only imagine how much money they made. And this woman invented it."
He pointed to the picture of a woman taken from the behind. She was wearing a plain uniform and had shoulder-length, weird blue hair.
"She is known as The Spirit. No one knows how exactly she looks like. Some think that she invented he computer because she has the Spirits power. I say, rubbish. She is a brilliant scientist, and she is a human. Then, we reach known as The Takeover. After their invention, Spirits Industries started working on the other fields, medicine, transporting, anyway by 191 AG they were leading company in the United Republic and Earth Republic. In few months, the first big company, Varrick Industries went into bankruptcy."
The man sitting next to Jinora slapped his forehead and quietly wined.
"When Varrick industries went down, we were worried. Some time after that, Future Industries went into bankruptcy. That was it. We founded the Council and started working on how to bring the Spirits Industries down. But they were completely dominating the world market. The weapons, clothes, food, medicines. Everything. In 198 AG, Tayen and I started preparing the project Anti-SI. The goal is to find the Avatar who will unite the nations against the Spirits Industries. But there's a catch. We don't know if Avatar Korra is still alive. If she is, you're looking for her. If she isn't, you are looking for a person between zero and thirty living anywhere in the world of Earth Republic origin. As it seems now, we don't stand a chance. But we can try."
He returned to the table.
"But do we need the Avatar to bring down the Spirits industries? No, we do not. The world doesn't need the Avatar. The world just needs to believe that Avatar can come to help and solve all its problems. You know what these people need? Hope. The world has came to the terms with the fact that someone controls everything. But they want to believe that Avatar can defeat the Spirits Industries, and the Avatar will be the person we will all stand behind, and we will be victorious."
Mild applause spread trough the hall as the chief finished his speech.
Kain raised her hand.
"Yes?" the chief looked at her.
"You are talking like the Avatar has no real power, but the Avatar is the keeper of peace in the world. The Avatar is here to communicate with the spirits and the symbol of the cooperation of the humans and spirits," Kain said, looking at the chief, her brown eyes meeting his blue ones.
"The Avatar is the master of all four elements, but we are the ones who fight. Avatar Korra and Avatar Aang wouldn't do anything without people, people who helped them, fought for them and died for them. And for the spirits, how can you call it cooperation? They let this happen. But they had no power to stop this. They are not almighty," the chief stated coldly, though with a hint of something strange in his voice, regret?
"But spirits did many great things for us. The moon spirit helped us in the Great War," Kain said. She was raised to believe in the spirits by her mother, and she would not let anyone deny their help in the human wars.
"How can you prey to someone that couldn't stop this? The spirits only care about themselves," the chief insisted, his voice still calm.
"It's called faith," Kain said. Her mother touched her hand and gave her an angry look.
"Anyway, let's return to the mission. You will take off this morning in exactly eight. That means we have fifteen more minutes. You will travel in an new airship, given to us by president Tayen. We will now go trough your schedule." The chief pointed to the presentation now showing a schedule.
"Let's start with premise that Avatar Korra is alive. Your task is to find all people who could have known anything about her last years known, track her down, talk to Kuvira, try to get something out of her," chief said, pointing to the first part of the projection.
"But hasn't anyone done that already? When she disappeared?" Darin said.
"Of course. We searched everything. But you can't look for the Avatar if you didn't check everything, talk to people, you can never rely on the fact that someone tried before. The second part is looking for the Avatar. That will depend on what you find out. People, places and things we already know will be given to you. You are the hope of the world."
The chief returned to his seat.
"The Spirits Industries doesn't know anything about the mission. But they will find out. You can be sure in that."
Kain felt like she was going to be sick.
Half an hour later, Kain was standing on the parking behind the building. A grey, blurry, cemented back yard with an airship parked on it. The rain was falling slowly creating grey puddles.
Kain was trying to calm herself down, but after the speech all her confidence disappeared. She felt like she was sweating, even though it was cold, and wave of panic overflowed her as she fought the urge to throw up. The mission seemed pointless. Two minutes, two minutes to hug her mother before she takes off with three other equally panicked people and none of them knows what they're doing.
Tan Beifong was standing next to her with her father, none of them speaking.
The Water Tribe boy, his name was as said Turkko, walked over to them and smiled. Kain thought how inappropriate smile was at this moment. He extended his hand and introduced, Kain shaking his hand, but their thoughts were somewhere else, on the dangerous mission they are about to go on.
The fourth team member, Darin was standing few meters away typing something into the calculator, his father talking to him, or maybe to himself. The boy didn't introduce himself of talk to them.
The council members were preparing for the takeoff, talking to each others, but panic hung heavy in the air. President Tayen was standing on the side with chief Desna.
"Are you sure that it's completely safe?" she said, looking at him with green eyes filled with worry.
"Tayen, for fifteen years now, my work is my life. And my son. And if there's something that includes both, if I wasn't completely sure that it's safe I wouldn't go with it," he said, but there was fear in his voice.
President nodded, returning to monitoring the preparations of the airship.
Kain stepped first on the boarding bridge, feeling like she was walking on the plank, with nothing but the cold, black sea below her, filled with sharks and salty smell of death. She closed her eyes and stepped forward, but instead of falling into the cold water, she felt the steady floor of the airship and forced herself in, taking one last look at her mother and her city.
The three others walked in after her, standing side by side looking at the faces on the yard, all the council members giving final goodbye to the team.
"Good luck. You are the hope of your people!" Chief Desna shouted to outvote the sound of airship. The doors were slowly closing, Kain was fighting the urge to run out before they close, but she didn't. The doors closed, and Kain felt like she was closed into a trap. She felt like a bird thrown into a cage covered with a cloth, eager to see the sunlight and spread its wings and fly.
The airship took off the ground. Kain fastened her seatbelt and closed her eyes.
Master Jinora waved her hand, even though her daughter couldn't see it.
"Spirits, let them be fine," Chief Desna muttered a quiet prayer. If spirits could keep his son alive, then he would pray. A picture of the Air Nomad girl with angered expression on her face appeared in his mind. I lost my faith long ago.
"We took off successfully. Goodbye," Darin shouted trough the window. Apparently, he knew how to operate all kinds of machines, including airships.
Kain forced herself to open her eyes, the airship was cold and small, but on the second look not a bad place to live. Tan Beifong sitting next to her also opened her eyes and looked around, Turkko still keeping his eyes shut holding his hands over them.
She forced herself to calm down. The sooner someone takes control and starts planning how to find the Avatar, the sooner they'll come back home.
Darin switched to the autopilot and returned to the living room. The four just sat there in silence.
"So, we just started a war," Turkko finally said, his voice quiet and scared.
Kain nodded. Tan and Darin too.
The world just needs to believe that Avatar can come and solve all its problems.
Few minutes later, the members of the Council were sitting again at the meeting hall. The success of the mission was shadowed by fear of the new war on the horizon. What if they sent four people into death? The Spirits industries will find out.
Chief Desna tried to stick to the usual paperwork. President Tayen tried to look calm, but she wasn't reading the paper in front of her, but checking the watch every few seconds.
"They should have reached New Republic City by now, right?" she whispered to chief next to her.
"It depends. Tayen, calm down, they just took off. I'm sure that they're fine." The chief's sentence suddenly seemed ridiculous to him, it was his child out there and he was comforting Tayen. He suddenly felt empty, like before he had his family, back in those sad days. Something woke him from his reverie.
"Tayen, do you smell something?" he turned to the president. She shook her head.
"I smell it too." Feng said. "It's like...like..."
"It's like gas," Chief Taruq said. President Tayen's eyes widened.
"Evacuate the building! Now!" President rose from her seat. Before she could reach the door, a sound of explosion came from the hallway.
"They started a fire! It's just going to spread! It's spreading because of the gas!" she shouted.
Master Jinora created an air shield to protect the air around them from spreading gas and smoke, and seven people made their way to the doors. Chief Taruq pushed the doors open.
The air was on fire.
The smoke covered the hallway, the spreading fire destroying everything on its way. Master Jinora kept the air around them clean, but the fire was spreading too quick.
Master Jinora did her best to keep the fire away, but they moved slowly, and the smoke spread quickly, making it hard to see.
After few horrible minutes, they reached the main doors, which president Feng destroyed with one strong earthbending kick. But something troubled them, it was too easy to get away.
And they were standing out on the rain, shaken, but alive.
The chief looked at the building, completely burned, few papers now and then and few pieces of furniture that wasn't ruined.
The rain washed away what was leftover from the fire. The council members were together on the yard, rain washing them too, looking at what left of the most important thing they ever did.
"They knew," the chief said, defeat in his voice.
Sorry it took me a while to finish this chapter, but I had to rewrite it a couple of times until it was finally ready!
So, one question is, why did the Spirits Industries burn down the worthless old building if not to assassinate the Council?
Simply to show that they knew about the mission all along and to show that they were watching. They were always watching.
And why didn't they stop the mission if they knew about it?
Because they want the Avatar too.