Crash and Burn
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The Legend of Kyo



Written by

Katherine Rebekah



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Smoke Signal

Equalist airship being destroyed

Crash and Burn

With the airship on autopilot, Kogami and I were free to sit back and watch the clouds roll by though the enormous window. They were growing increasingly thick but not thick enough to require that we move above the cloud line.

For a few hours we talked about me. He asked me questions about my childhood, and I answered honestly. We talked about the little secluded farm in the Earth Kingdom where I lived for the first years of my life when dad was teaching me Earthbending and about how often I had been lonely as a child, and how often I had been frightened of the destiny thrust upon me. I also wanted to tell him that I was frightened now, but I couldn't do it. Something in me told me to show no weakness.

Kogami, it turned out, was a good listener, but that was about all he was doing, and I sensed a nervousness about him. I had a feeling that part of the reason he was listening to me so intently was to avoid talking about himself. I decided to test my theory.

"So, what about you?" I asked, "I know a little bit about almost everyone here except you. What's your story?" I knew we were both thinking about what he had said about Siren. But I didn't say it.

He leaned back in his swivel chair, looked out at the sky, and sighed, long and heavy.

"Well if you don't want to—"

"No, no. It's fine," he cut me off. "Better you hear it from me than find out some other way. At least this way you might hate me a little less."

"If I can like Asaka, then I highly doubt that I'll find a problem with you." I tried to sound lighthearted as I said it, and Kogami responded with a weak smile but still didn't meet me with his eyes.

"The thing you should know about me, Kyo, is that for a long time, I was the bad guy." He looked at me out of the corner of his eye. When I had no reaction, he continued. "You probably already know this, but Asami has a program. If you display advanced bending abilities as a young child, there are one of two options for you to choose from. Either be thrown in a camp, or fight for Asami. If you choose to fight, they promise you all kinds of things. When you retire, you'll get back your family, you'll live in a nice home, you'll have all the cash you could ask for, and on and on."

"And everything is a lie," I said it as a statement, not a question.

"Everything. But I bought into it. At age six, I was taken away from my family in the Northern Water Tribe and sent to a training compound there, but they would move us often, so that we didn't get too attached to a place. A few years later, I got placed with my team. It consisted of Siren and one other bloodbender. We were the best of our graduating class and tasked with the most brutal of the missions. By then, I was totally desensitized. I performed them all without a hint of remorse." He paused for a moment. Grimaced. Gulped. "And we were good. Very, very good. Then, one day, we were given a very high profile target, Kya."

"Don't tell me you—"

"Killed her? No." My heart rate slowed as I realized what a stupid thought that had been. He had obviously known her... and loved her. "But believe me when I tell you I gave it my best shot. Fortunately, Kya was a better bender than me. She bested me." He paused for a second, smiling. "Then she kidnapped me."

"Kidnapped you?"

"Yes, drugged me and kidnapped me, no less."

I cocked an eyebrow. "Sounds familiar."

He gave a chuckle, acknowledging my little joke. "It was possibly the best thing that had ever happened to me. She turned my life around. I lived with her for years, and she treated me like a son. Then, almost as soon as I left..." He grew silent, then finally shifted his gaze to me. "I know that it won't make you feel any better, but I do understand how it feels to lose a loved one. You're not alone in this."

I nodded. "It does make me feel better." For a second we shared a sad smile, then Kogami's eyes flitted nervously away.

He made a noise in the back of his throat. "So, I guess you must think I'm a monster now."

"Of course not. They brainwashed you. They made you do those things."

"I wish I could believe that."

"Well I believe it. And besides, June went through the same thing, and I don't think she's evil. It just makes me angry at Asami that she would use people like that."

"You don't understand. June was forced into everything she did. I did it willingly. I did it with pleasure."

"It's in your past, Kogami. You shouldn't beat yourself up over it. You're doing your best to make things right."

He nodded, still looking out the window. Before I could hesitate long enough to stop myself, I pulled him in a hug. It was like having my arms around a statue at first, but I just squeezed tighter. I felt him relax. His hands rested on my back, returning the gesture.

"Thank you."

I nodded, "Of course," then pulled away.

He smiled, a genuine smile, but it only lasted a second. His eyes flitted to the window, concern shadowing them.

"I need to get back to the pilot's seat. We're flying into a storm."

Kogami made his way over to the seat, flipped off autopilot, and sent us into a steady, gradual accent. It was all going smoothly until the airship lurched forward, and I was sent tumbling out of my seat. I sat up, rubbing the place where my cheek had smacked the floor, and looked at Kogami who was leveling out the airship once more, still flying into thick clouds.

"What's going on?"

His body was suddenly rigid. "An Equalist airship was up there. It was still pretty far away, but they might have spotted us. You should go get the others. We need a plan."

But I didn't get the chance. In about two seconds, all three came stumbling in. I took a second, while they stood in dumb shock to examine June. She had finally changed from her Equalist uniform and was now in a gauzy blue dress that was bare on one shoulder. She was also shoeless and her bangs were braided into a crown, showing off her arrow. She looked beautiful, and I had no doubt that Asaka was behind it.

When their shock passed, Asaka, of course, spoke first.

"There had better be a pretty good explanation for what just happened."

Kogami nodded as she walked up to him. "There is. I spotted another Equalist airship above the cloud line. I can't be sure if they saw us—"

The ship burst through the clouds on our right.

"Okay." Asaka nudged Kogami out of the way and took the controls. "Looks like they've spotted us." She quickly steered away, rendering us invisible in the clouds once more.

"Plan, Asaka!" I shouted. "Plan!"

"Here is the plan," she started but then stopped herself and gave me a wicked smile. "Kyo, we're training you to be the Avatar. You come up with a plan."


"Just do it!" she yelled.

"Okay, okay." I took a deep breath. "Any ideas, people?"

"Well," Jin said. "You should know that I can oxygen bend, and June can project her spirit."

"Okay then." My brain was rapid firing and after only a few seconds of nervous silence, it came pouring out. "Here is the plan. We're going to try and lose them. June, I want you to use your spiritual projection to go see what is happening on the other airship. What's there? What kind of enemy are we facing? Can you do that without a quiet place to meditate?" She nodded enthusiastically. "Alright, then go by Asaka. She'll watch over you." I turned to the boys while June plopped down by Asaka. "You two are going to try and increase the cloud cover surrounding the ship but decrease the clouds in front of the airship so Asaka can fly easier. Do you think you can do that?" They gave one another a skeptical glance but then nodded.

"Alright then, get going." They ran off in the other direction to go out on the deck.

"Asaka," I walked up behind her, just as I saw June's spirit float out, "I'm going to try and see if I can sense where the ship is with my metalbending and tell you where to steer."

"I must admit," she said, "you impressed me. It's not what I would have done, but still, good plan."

I didn't respond, I was already concentrating on the ship, reaching out to try and sense the great hunk of metal hovering in the sky. I found it easily enough, it was hard to miss in the swirling air currents.

"It's to our right. Very close."

I felt the airship suddenly veer left, but that did nothing to shake them. We tried it a few more times with the same results.

"They're following us," I told Asaka. "I bet they have a metalbender or some other way to detect where we are."

Big fat rain drops began to plunk onto the windshield and lightning flashed across the sky, dangerously close to us.

"We need a new plan," Asaka said. "Improvise, Kyo. What do you do next?"

I pressed the intercom button on the dash board and hoped that Jin and Kogami could hear me above the suddenly poring rain outside. "Abort. I repeat, abort. Come inside, now."

It wasn't long before I heard that slam of the door and their footsteps down the hall. They burst into the room, a soggy mess.

"Has she come back yet?" Jin went straight to his sister, kneeling down beside her.

"Not yet." I turned to Kogami. "Were you being attacked out there?"

"No. Nothing."

"Something is up." I went to the window. "Why aren't they attacking?"

"Kyo." I looked down to find June awake, eyes wide with a fear that I had never seen from her. "They're going to blow us up. We should use the gliders. We need to get off."

"I don't think we should abandon ship using gliders in a storm like this," Asaka inserted herself.

"That's right," I said. "We'll all get separated, or worse. Plus I can't leave Oma on this ship to die."

I looked down at Jin who was sitting cross legged on the floor, intense concentration in his stormy gray eyes.

"I need you to think, June," he said. "What did you see?"

She exhaled. "It was a spirit canon. A new one."

"The ones you told me about?"

She nodded. It was the first time I saw actual panic on June's face. "It was 90% loaded." Her knuckles whitened as she clutched Jin's hand. "We have to go."

An uncomfortable silence filled the cabin, interrupted only by the storm that was growing increasingly thick. We began to rock like a boat.

"Hurry!" June's volume pierced my skull. "They're going to blow us up!"

"Shhh, June, it's okay. I have a plan." Jin put a comforting arm around her, then he looked up at me. "But you're not going to like it."

He was right. I didn't like it one bit, but time was running out and who knew when they would blow us to bits. I had heard about Asami's spirit canons, even seen them in action a few times, and I knew the danger was very real.

Asaka flipped the airship to autopilot, and it began to shake violently, threatening to fall from the sky. The power went out and emergency lights flashed above us. We stumbled through the halls, following Jin. I stopped by the room that Oma was in and let her out. She nudged her head against me, trying to hide it in my arm. I grabbed her by the antler and pulled her along.

Jin led us into a small, padded room that hardly held us and slammed the door behind us. It wasn't hard to see that this was no regular room. It was an escape hatch. The downside to it was that it was not controllable. Our only hope of surviving this was a hunk of metal with a parachute.

We all slid into the seats, strapping ourselves down, but there was one seat short. Jin insisted that he stand.

"Everyone ready?" Jin had to yell above the sirens and thunder. We nodded. He pulled the release switch. We dropped.

My stomach jumped into my throat. Jin and Oma were launched into the air by the force of the drop, and both were slammed against the wall. Jin fell limp to the floor. I tried to scream, but no air would escape me.

There was a violent jerk of the parachute catching.

We began to float gently. Asaka attempted to unbuckle her belt to go to Jin, but Kogami put a hand in front of her.

"It's not over."

"J-Jin?" I looked over at June. Tears were beginning to build in her eyes. Then the parachute caught again.

The wind wiped us every which way, snapping us around. The worst part was seeing Jin's body roll across the floor, Oma trying to steady herself, and June beginning to sob and scream amid the chaos.

After one final bone-rattling jolt we stopped.

"Is it over?" Asaka asked. Her voice was steady but only in a futile attempt to conceal her panic.

"It's over," Kogami said.

We dangled. Our side of the pod had been flipped so that we were on the ceiling, looking down at Oma and Jin. My cat deer rubbed him with her nose. He didn't move. "Nobody unbuckle yet," I said. "I'm going to flip this right side up."

I did my best to metalbend in that awkward position, and we fell backwards, the pod landing right side up.

Asaka and June were out of their seats immediately. Kogami and I were not far behind.

Asaka pulled her glove off with her teeth and held two fingers to Jin's neck. She released a sigh of relief.

"His pulse is strong. Would you check for internal bleeding, Kogami?"

He nodded, got onto is knees, and stretched out his hands. "Nothing beyond severe bruising." His hands moved to hover over Jin's head. "Possibly a concussion." Kogami drew water from the skins at his hips and placed glowing hands to Jin's head. "He'll be very sore, but we'll all probably begin to feel the effects of whiplash soon."

Oma nudged my elbow. Assured that Jin was going to be okay, I turned my attention to her, wrapping my arms around her head so she could nuzzle her face into me. She was quivering.

"I'm sorry, girl." I stroked her fur. "It's going to be okay." That seemed to calm her a little.

I decided that I should check to see if I could open the hatch. Oma followed me over to it. I put a hand to the metal, and it was cool to the touch. I could hear the howl of a blizzard outside.

My chest tightened as I realized that we were stuck in the middle of a frozen wasteland during a blizzard, that I had no control over the frozen element, and that I had no idea how we would make it out of this one.

"It looks like we'll be staying the night here, guys," I said it without looking back. No one responded.

I turned around to see the three of them still hovered around Jin. I slumped to the floor with my back to the door, Oma sitting down next to me. I rested my head on her fur.

The sight of them gathered around Jin was all too familiar. I closed my eyes and exhaled, trying to cast out the painful memory of dad in that comatose state and reminded myself that this time no one would die. Still, it made me wonder if this was what life would be for me, for all of us, from now on. Constant danger. Constant defeat. Constant grief.

A sickening feeling washed over me. I bit my bottom lip, holding back a sob. My mind raced through all my fears and failures.

But I held the sob in, forced my breathing to slow, willed the moisture to stay in my eye. I wouldn't cry. I wouldn't let them know how weak I was. How misplaced their faith in me was. I was their Avatar. Their savior.

I wondered how long I would let them believe that lie.

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