Korra cries
Eight Second Ride
Chapter information

The Gunfighter


Book 3: Doorways





Written by


Release date

November 16th, 2013

Last chapter

A Rider in Full Part 3

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The South

Korra and John's relationship deepens as the full power of matterbending is released upon the Gunslinger Loyalists.


"I know that overkill is underrated, but Jesus dude," John said as he looked over the scorched remnants of the room. Leon stood next to him with a small smirk. Opposite of them was a view of Republic City, beyond the skeletal remains of a wall. They were standing in the remains of the radio room on Air Temple Island, ready to try and start repairs.

"If we had gone the way I wanted to, there wouldn't be anything left to fix," Leon said.

"And topple the sanctuary of an almost dead culture? No thanks, I'll pass." Making a face, Leon crossed to one of the walls before he began to swing a sledge hammer, bringing down the charred remains of the wall. John rolled his eyes before he went to the opposite wall and began to swing as well. Behind them, Korra entered the room and was taken back by the sheer amount of destruction.

"What happened in here?"

"Ask Mr. Pyro over there," John grunted as he swung the hammer again, knocking down a small section of the wall. Leon didn't so much as grunt a response as he continued his work. With a sad smile, she crossed to John's side of the room, taking care to avoid the arc of his hammer.

"We're getting ready to leave for the south pole. Katara is our last hope for restoring my bending, are you coming with us?" she asked.

"Do you seriously need to ask?" The Firebender swung the hammer again. This time, however, a plank of wood fell out of the wall, sending a large leather bundle onto the floor. John paused and dropped his hammer. Even Leon stopped to look at the new object. Picking it up, he was surprised at how light it was given its size.

"We'd better take a look at this," he said, turning and heading for the door with Korra on his heels.

"And what about me? Am I suppose to renovate this whole room myself?" Leon called after them.

"We have an entire Engineer Croup. I want you to get on the battleship and head for Whale Tail Island," John said over his shoulder. With that, the pair disappeared out the door, leaving the Irish airbender mumbling curses to himself. Outside, Tenzin and his family sat waiting on Oogi. Asami, Mako, and Bolin stood off to the side, not wanting to get in the way. With the amount of people present, there was no way the sky bison could carry them all without crash landing in the sea. The trio didn't look very happy that they were about to be left behind.

"I'm giving you guys special permission to use the Isabella. It'll be heading south as well and we'll meet up at Whale Tail Island. Asami, look around the ship, get some new ideas," John said. Asami blinked in surprise, realizing that John was giving her a chance to study his world's technology.

"You sure?" she asked. He nodded with a small smile.

"Just be sure not to touch anything, Bolin," he replied, shooting a glance at the earthbender who held his hands up. With that, the pair boarded the sky bison and watched as Republic City began to shrink into the distance.

"Why are you sending everyone to Whale Tail Island?" Korra asked. She was sitting on the other side of the saddle and not in her usual spot by his side. This didn't escape John's notice as he began to undo the leather bundle from the wall. Deep down, he was very worried about her. Korra hadn't been herself since the end of the battle. Her mood was darker, and her usual fiery self seemed to be running out of fuel.

"All our reports state that's where The Grandmaster has made his base of operations. It's also probably where they made the crossing," he replied. As he spoke, the bundle came apart, revealing a smaller bundle as well as a leather bound book with a seal branded into the cover. John recognized it as his family's seal: a circle encompassing a crossed sword and scroll.

Seeing the symbol, he quickly began to undo the second bundle. What was revealed was something that had been lost for years. An object he had assumed been stolen when his father died. His sudden reaction didn't go unnoticed by Korra, who perked up slightly in order to see what it was. Sitting in his hand was a Colt Single Action Army revolver. Its metal was blued, and is dark oiled oak handle bore the same symbol as the book.

"What is it?" the Avatar asked, leaning forward with curiosity.

"My father's gun," he replied in a breathless whisper, barely loud enough for Korra to hear. Sitting the gun in his lap, he quickly opened the book and began to flip through the pages. Korra slid across the saddle and sat next to him, looking at the book as well.

"And my father's journal. A full account of his search for The Gates," he explained as he flipped past pages containing sketches of maps and landscapes, some of which she recognized and some not.

"Tenzin why are my father's things in your wall?!" John asked, sounding almost like a small child who had caught his parents putting presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. Tenzin's head spun around so fast, it was a miracle he didn't get some sort of whiplash.

"What?" he asked, confused. The firebender held up the book and the revolver, his look demanding an explanation. But Tenzin's look remained the same, confused and puzzled at the same time.

"I have no idea," he said, turning back to face forward again. John sighed as he lowered the objects to his lap again.

"Yet another mystery," he muttered. From then on, the flight to the South Pole was relatively uneventful. Jinora jumped overboard at one point in order to test out her new glider. Pema held the baby the whole way while Ikki and Meelo played. Korra didn't leave John's side again, but she still felt distant. John decided to read from the journal rather than bother her, she would come around when she was ready and he was content with that.

By the time the Southern Water Tribe came into view, Korra had dozed off into a small nap. John's eyes hadn't left the book, although they did glance at the sleeping form next to him from time to time. In the center of the White Lotus Compound, Katara stood waiting along with Tonraq and Senna, Korra's parents.

John had briefly met them before he and Korra had departed for Republic City. Part of him wondered how they would react when they learned of his relationship with their daughter. It didn't take long for Katara to begin to work on Korra in an effort to bring back the elements other than air. John remained in the room outside along with the others and a nervous looking White Lotus Guard. He briefly explained what had happened in the city to Korra's parents before he began clean his father's revolver.

To his surprise, the weapon still functioned perfectly like it had been cleaned just an hour before. No doubt the weapon had sat, hidden for possibly decades, yet it operated like a well oiled dream. Firing it, however, was out of the question. The large revolver wouldn't take the same rounds as his pistol even though they were the same caliber.

John was pulled out of his thoughts by the sound of a door opening. Katara appeared out of the room and turned to close the door behind her, cutting off the firebender's glimpse of Korra's back inside the room. The elderly woman's face showed a hint of sadness.

"I've tried everything in my power to restore Korra's bending. She can still airbend, access to the other elements has been severed," she said, delivering the news.

"No! You can't give up yet, you're the best healer in the world!" cried the White Lotus guard, earning an annoyed glare from everyone. John's eyebrows met in thought. Perhaps he could use his device and lead Korra into the Spirit World to find one of her past lives. Preferably Aang, as he was the only one that he knew used energybending. It was either that or find the lion turtle, and something told him that the Spirit World route would be faster.

His thoughts were interrupted by the door opening again. Korra didn't seem to register anyone as she walked past, put on her coat, and stepped out into the cold. The time for waiting was over. Korra would need him now more than ever. Sliding on his own coat, he stepped out into the cold after her. Snow crunched beneath his boots as he approached Korra, but she didn't seem to recognize that he was there.

"You okay?" he asked. Korra's head was hung, looking at her feet. But her response was almost as cold as the snow.

"Go away."

"Not until I know that you're all right." Now Korra looked up at him, a flare of anger rose in her eyes. He knew that she wasn't really mad at him, but that didn't matter right now.

"No, I mean go away, back to Ireland or whatever you call it. Go home. There's nothing holding you here now!" she snapped. A pang of hurt fluttered in John's heart, but he ignored it.

"I don't see it that way," he replied, determined to be stubborn on this.

"Just, just leave me alone." With that, she turned and ran out of the compound. John watched her go, patiently waiting and doing up another button on his coat before he started after her. His coat tails whipped around in the wind as he followed Korra's foot prints. They were relatively easy to follow, but he quickened the pace so he wouldn't loose them to the wind blown snow.

It didn't take much for him to recognize the area where she had gone. It was the place where they had met what seemed like a thousand years ago. Sure enough, he could see her standing on the cliff overlooking the sea. From this distance, it looked like she was about to jump. Korra didn't seem like the kind of person who would consider suicide, but he wasn't about to take any chances.

As he approached, Korra suddenly lifted up on a funnel of air and bent all four elements in a series of waves: Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. He had no idea how she had done it, but she had her bending back, along with unlocking the Avatar State. Korra slowly lowered herself back to the ground before he turned and noticed John watching. Her face instantly brightened and she ran towards him.

He opened his arms to hug her, but got the full force of a running tackle. They spun on the spot in an effort to keep from falling.

"I'm sorry about what I said," she said, burying her face into his chest. John smiled as he lifted her chin so she was looking him in the eyes. Her cheeks were still puffy from her crying, but none of that mattered to him.

"There is still something that keeps me here: You. I don't care if you're the Avatar or just some humble Water Tribe girl, you're still the young woman I love, and I would rather spend the rest of my life with you than have all the wealth in existence," he said. Korra smiled.

"I love you too," she said, sealing her words with a long passionate kiss. Arm in arm, the couple began to make their way back to the compound. The others had gathered in the courtyard by the time they walked back through the gates, no doubt getting ready to organize a search party. Korra's parents were the first ones to take notice of them. The looks on their faces were unreadable, but there was a glimmer of some sort of emotion.

"Korra!" The shout caused the pair to split apart and look behind them for the source of the voice. John barely had time to react as a blast of fire raced past his face, warming his nose. He instinctively began to dodge and weave, avoiding the attacker's blasts before he finally brought down his heel on the young man's face.

The White Lotus Guard that had been in the room was bloodied with his broken nose cocked at a weird angle. John wasted no time, leaping on top of him and pressing his pistol's muzzle in between the young man's eyes.

"Friend of yours?" he asked, looking up at Korra. The look on her face was general annoyance with a hint of amusement.

"Zhang, I've told you a thousand times there is nothing between us."

"Yes there is! We shared that moment a year ago just after you finished earthbending," Zhang said, looking up at her despite the barrel blocking most of his view.

"That 'moment' you're referring to was me knocking out three of your teeth because you wouldn't leave me alone."

"You see! Why ruin what we have by going with this guy?" Zhang asked, flicking his eyes back toward John. John's eyes glazed over in boredom as he looked back up at Korra.

"I'm gonna kill him," he said with an average tone, thumbing the hammer for extra effect.

"No, everyone's watching," Korra said. John looked over his shoulder, realizing that they had been making a scene the entire time. Turning back, he swung the pistol like a club, connecting it with Zhang's face. His nose was now bent in the opposite direction and blood began to leak from his lips.

"You bother her again, I'll put a slug in your knee cap," John said before standing and letting Zhang go. The blinded guard got up and stumbled out of the compound, trying to put some distance between himself and more pain. Easing the hammer forward, he returned the gun to its holster before he hung his arm around Korra again.

Turning, they resumed the course they had before. As they got closer, John could see a look in the eyes of Korra's parents. What it was exactly, he could put a finger on it.

"Mom, Dad. You remember John, my um, my boyfriend?" The nervousness radiated off of Korra. He couldn't blame her, as he felt the same way. Tonraq stepped forward and sized John up. He was a big man, even by John's standards. The broad shoulders and muscled completion told him that the man had once been or currently was a warrior.

"I remember him. You know, when I told you to look after my daughter I didn't mean to start dating her," he said, looking John square in the eye. A normal teenager would have faltered under his look, but John held his ground and kept his wits.

"It happens I guess," he replied. Tonraq continued his look for a bit more, before he broke into a broad smile.

"I like you, John. Just don't break her heart." Rather than answer, John gave a short quick military salute. Turning his attention back to Korra, John's smile faded slightly.

"Come on Korra, we've got a war to end."

Dark storm clouds had gathered in the sky and lightning flashed through them. Drops of rain fell upon both the island and the deck of the Isabella, which set a few miles off shore. Korra, Mako, Bolin, and Leon stood on the deck of the ship, looking toward the island. A thousand feet overhead, a single biplane flew toward the island. Asami sat behind the controls while John and Dante held on the rigging of the wings. The three of them all wore a type of goggles to protect their eyes.

"You are aware that no one has willingly attempted this right?" Dante shouted over the wind.

"We don't have much choice in the matter. We get in, set off the blast, and ride the shock wave out to sea. Asami, as soon as we're clear of the plane you turn and gun it as fast as you can outa here!" John shouted back. Asami nodded in response and returned to flying. Below, a large encampment appeared out of the clouds.

Lightning flashed again, illuminating everything. John took deep breaths and prepared himself for what he was about to do. If his math was correct, they had only eight seconds before they hit the ground. Eight seconds. The same length of time for bull riders in a rodeo back home. Holding up his right hand, he extended three fingers, then two, then one, counting down. As he lowered his last finger, both he and Dante let go and fell backwards from the wing.

Snapping their hands and legs to their sides, the two plummeted toward the island head first. Like a professional sky divers, they moved like one person. John began to build up an attack with his matterbending. Between his cupped hands, he could feel the atoms begin to divide and the power began to build to the point where he could barely contain it.

At the same time, the pair unleashed their attacks toward the center of the camp. The two electric filled balls shot toward their targets while John folded himself into a ball and closed his eyes. A bright light, and a blast of heat enclosed around his form. Then the shock wave hit, sending him turning and tumbling in a manor that not even test pilots could stand.

As quick as it had begun, John slammed into the water. Bubbles and darkness raced past his goggles, but the force of the impact forced them back into his eyes, temporary blinding him like someone had pulled on them and let go. Kicking his feet, he fought for the surface despite the fact that his clothing weighed him down.

Noise returned as he broke the surface, tearing off the goggles and breathing deep. Overhead, the storm clouds had started to part around the black mushroom cloud that was rising up from the island. John watched as black particles began to fall from the underside of the cloud, this was the fallout that was starting to return to ground.

"Well, it's no Trinity Site, but an atomic blast is an atomic blast," he sputtered to himself, turning and looking for the battleship. To his surprise, and relief, he hadn't landed very far from it. The ship was steaming its way toward him. John waited until he was close enough before he launched himself into the air with his firebending and landed on the deck. He stumbled as he landed, but was caught by Korra before he could land on his face.

"Now that, is how you end a war," she said as she looked up at the mushroom cloud. John ignored her comment and fought off a shiver.

"Let's get Dante and go home, there's still a lot of things that need to be dealt with."

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