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|Demons Amongst Us|
Book 1: Escape
May 23, 2013
John's leadership is questioned by some of the Refugees. Korra experiences turmoil in her feelings over Mako. The Equalists locate something beneath the city.
John yawned slightly as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He walked into the bathroom and filled the sink with water. Cupping his hand, he used water to wash the grime from his face. Looking up into the mirror, John paused as he closely studied the scar that laced the middle of his forehead.
It had been three days since the pro bending match. Since then, Mako had quickly recovered from his injury and would be able to play in the next match. The whole of the Fire Ferrets felt indebted to him for the role he played. But John had declined any of their attempts to repay him out, feeling that he had done what any good friend would have done.
Pulling on a white undershirt, John left the bathroom and sat on the edge of his cot. Lacing up his boots, he stood again and approached the window. A light snow had fallen during the night, showing that winter was approaching by blanketing the city in a pearly white.
Turning away from the window, John set to pulling on the button up shirt that he usually wore beneath his jacket. A sharp rapping came from the door as he finished with the buttons.
"Avatar Korra to see you sir," said the sentry on the other side of the wooden door, his voice muffled. Turning back to his bed, John set to strapping a gun belt around his waist.
"Let her in," he replied. Instantly, the door flew open and Korra stomped into the room. The sentry raced to close the door, but John ignored this, focusing his attention on the Avatar.
"I'm a your complaint hotline now?" he asked, sensing that Korra was upset. She leaned against the window and looked down into the street.
"Mako's got that flashy new rich girl," she muttered. John paused as he began to choose how to proceed. He knew that Korra held feelings for the other firebender.
"You know that this kind of stuff isn't really my strong suit," he said. Korra nodded at this.
"I know. I just want someone to talk to is all, I mean all Jinora and Iiki do is bauble about Mako's looks, Pema gave some advice that was helpful but I don't think I'm ready for that," she said. John grinned slightly at the mention of Tenzin's daughters. Jinora still questioned him about his father from time to time.
"This kind of stuff is a pain," he agreed. A silence fell between them, both having retreated into their own thoughts.
"How did you get Eve?" Korra asked suddenly, turning and fully facing him. John blinked in surprise. He was taken aback by the suddenness of her question.
"I don't think that kind of information will help you get the right guy," he replied.
"Oh come on, you two look so good together. What's the secret huh?" she pressed. Taking a seat on the cot, John sighed, knowing that he wasn't getting out of this.
"Believe it or not, Eve and me didn't get along very well when we first met," he said. Korra grinned at this.
"What? Did she turn down your first offer?" she asked. John smiled slightly at the memory.
"More like she shot up the pub I was in," he replied. Now it was Korra's turn to blink in surprise.
"She did what?"
"I was at a pub in Belfast. At the time, Ireland was a hotbed for conflict, hell it still is a hotbed. Eve, her brother, and a few others shot the place up because the owner was against benders," he explained. John looked down as he spoke, remembering the events of that day.
"You shot back didn't you?" Korra asked. John shrugged a little bit.
"Eh, a little. My point is that sometimes the best relationships get their starts when they really shouldn't, I suggest waiting until this thing with Amon and the Equalists is over," he said. Korra sighed as she stared down into the street below.
"That's helpful," she muttered. John ginned as he slid on his jacket and placed his hand on the Avatar's shoulder.
"Come on, lets get your mind off this subject," he said. Korra reluctantly turned away from the window and walked with John out of the room. The small apartment complex that John had decided to live in after moving from Air Temple Island sat near the center of the borough. Various patrols numbering between four and six passed by, each of them wearing some assortment of uniform. Unlike the uniforms of the United Forces, the uniforms that the Refugees wore didn't disclose the elements of the benders nor did it give any distinction between benders and non benders.
As they stepped out of the narrow street and into a square, the sound of undecipherable shouting reached their ears. A small crowd clustered around a young man, whom Korra recognized as Kyle. Collins stood upon a box that had him lifted above the crowd, shouting and waving his arms about in a wild manner.
"What's going on here Commander?" John asked as he approached, the crowd parting before him. Kyle focused on the young firebender with a sly grin, looking down upon him from his perch.
"These rabble that call themselves Equalists would have war against us, John Rider, sir," he replied. Korra could sense that the sir part was sarcasm, and that the waterbender was up to something.
"Radio broadcasts, nothing more then propaganda meant to scare people," John replied, keeping his cool. The tension in the air was so thick that it could almost be cut with a knife.
"I don't approve of your leadership. But I really must thank you for providing us with the opportunity of a lifetime," said Kyle. Korra took notice of a revolver that hung from Collins' belt. With this, she began drawing up a battle plan in her head should things go south.
"Opportunity?" John questioned, his eyes narrowing. Kyle's grin widened at this.
"The ability to create a world without non benders! All the seeds are here, we just need the bending population to rally behind us," he replied. The air around John's body heated up with the firebender's temper, causing The Avatar to take a half step away from him.
"It's like you didn't listen to a single lesson our Order or The Great War taught you. Collins the balance between benders and non benders must be kept if peace is to be achieved," he said, his teeth gritted with anger.
"The Great War proved that non benders will always be jealous of our abilities. Join us, John, and we shall create a world free of the hunting of benders," Kyle said, attempting to persuade John to join his cause. But Korra could tell that this attempt had only angered him further.
"So you would plunge this world and ours into war? And for what? The murder of innocents and good people. No, Commander, end this nonsense and go back to your quarters," he said. In the blink of an eye, both of the Gunslingers had drawn their firearms and were aiming them at each other. Korra was stunned at the speed of the two, having only seen any sort of gun fighting situation when they rescued Bolin.
"I'd think twice about what you do next, brother," came a voice from the crowd. Eve emerged from the wall of people and stood gazing at her brother and boyfriend. Kyle looked back and forth between his sister and John.
"You would stand with him against your own blood? Think of the shame you bring upon your parents," said Kyle.
"Oh I haven't shamed them as much as you have. You murder innocents in their memory, Kyle. You will always be my brother no matter what you do, but don't think I'll hesitate to let you bleed out if you fight him," Eve replied. The standoff continued for a few more sweat filled moments before Kyle finally lowered his weapon. John, in turn, lowered his own pistol and returned it to its place on his hip.
The crowd dispersed as Kyle stormed away in anger. All three of them breathed a sigh of relief that the situation had ended without bloodshed.
"You did good," John said to both of the young woman. Eve stepped forward and threw her arms around John, pulling him down into a hug.
"You weren't so bad yourself," she replied. John let a small smile show, but he knew that the situation with Kyle was far from over. As he looked at Korra, he caught a glimpse of an emotion he couldn't quite make out in the Avatar's eyes as she stood awkwardly nearby. It appeared to be sadness, or jealousy maybe? He didn't rightly know, and made a mental note to ask her about it later.
"Right, Korra and I are headed into the city. Wanna tag along?" he asked. Eve shook her head at this.
"No, I go on duty at the Infirmary in a half hour," she replied. They parted ways, with Eve planting a kiss on John's cheek before she left. Again, he noticed the look in Korra's eyes, and again he ignored it.
"So, I've got something that will lighten your mood," he said after they had left the gates of the borough.
"What?" Korra asked half heartedly. John grinned slightly as he spoke.
"The Metalbenders in the borough have been working on something for a while now, it's almost finished and will be ready to spring into action in a few weeks," he said.
"Something we can use to fight Amon?" she asked.
"Something that will send the Equalists running while pissing their pants," he confirmed with his grin growing wider.
"Well, What is it?"
"It's a copy of a warship, what we call a destroyer back home," he said. Korra's face sank a bit at that.
"A warship that's going to scare off Amon?" she asked.
"A warship that can destroy anything within ten miles of the coast," he replied. That part impressed the Avatar a bit. She knew that this "destroyer" as he called it would be able to hit anything within Republic City.
Somewhere Beneath Republic City
The faint glow from the oil laps barely lit the dank room. The grunt of men lifting heavy objects filled the air, coupled with the sound of digging. After several minutes of digging, one of the men's shovel hit a metallic object. All of the workers instantly stopped working and looked at there the object had been struck. A man wearing an Equalist uniform stepped forward and brushed away the dirt from the object before looking over it, taking great care not to touch it.
"Send word to Amon. Tell him we've found what he's looking for," he said.
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