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|Ep.5: Jang Hui|
The lone airship continued onward of its route for days on end, maybe even over a week of flight (it was hard to tell). How close they were was anyone's guess. The entire time, Desna and Eska's little invite kinda made situations a bit more odd, given their usual behavior and all. Not even Ziyou, who compared to the rest had some more time with them in the past, could really get used to Desna and Eska and their bored, emotionless expressions. This was something they needed to handle soon (at least Ziyou thought so, and most likely Ikki too)
As the ship continued, Mako, Korra, Asami and Naga found themselves in the main room alone. None of the others were present. If awkwardness didn't come from Desna and Eska, this did; Mako not saying a word as he laid on the couch, his hands behind his head in a relaxed posture. Asami and Korra next to each other on the couch next to Mako's. After what felt like forever, Asami Sato spoke up.
"So...how's the detective business, Mako? Hadn't heard much on that."
Mako turned to her.
"It's okay, these past eight months had gotten kinda slow," Mako answered.
"Well, is this trip helping you out with that?" Korra asked.
More silence, and embarrassment.
"Oh...I just thought you wanted some more action, didn't you?"
"Korra, you said that, not me."
"Oh yeah, right," Korra said, turning away. However, Mako just sighed.
"But yeah, this is something more than what I've been doing. Searching through profiles, out on patrols. It's nice to try a new routine."
"Is that all you do? Maybe you should try some other career," Korra suggested, but before Mako could protest, Asami already handled it.
"Korra, you know Mako works very hard on his job, and help those in need with his detective skills. You should know that as well as anyone, Korra," Asami said, firm yet gentle in her words to Korra. Mako expected a rough remark from her, but instead, Korra turned to face Asami.
"You're right, Asami," Korra stated, a smile on both of their faces at that point. Mako was starting to feel that "odd vibe" again soon as the two looked at each other. He could handle it for a good while, and most of the time, he'd leave it alone. But he had enough, and got to his feet, immediately giving a judging look.
"Okay, what's going on?" Mako asked, sounding tense. Both girls looked confused.
"What do you mean?"
"This - thing you two got going!" Mako snapped, kinda hard to say what this "thing" was.
"This thing! You two had been staying together a lot more lately, what's the deal?"
"What deal? We're friends, is that a problem?" Korra asked, insulted.
"No no - well maybe, It's just -"
"What problem do you have with our relationship? There's nothing wrong with two girls being friends!"
"I know, but it's just it feels odd to -"
"Excuse me?! You never had issue with this before," Asami snapped, stepping forward, as Mako stepped back on worry, hands up in front of him.
"I didn't think I had to say anything, okay?!"
"What?! How long then?!"
How long did he had this problem? Mako had to think quick about that one. He got it soon, and just in time, because Korra and Asami were both ticked off.
"Honestly, soon after the Harmonic Convergence. You know, after that speech?"
"You mean when I broke up with you," Korra corrected, still keeping an angered glare right at Mako.
"Well not right away, but -"
"I see. You just find it too uncomfortable for two of your former girlfriends to be together!" Korra accused, jumping to conclusions.
"What, that's ridiculous!"
"Then why do you have a problem with it?!"
Mako groaned in frustration.
"I don't know, I just do! It's hard to explain!"
"Then don't bother. Come on, Korra, we don't need this," Asami finished, both girls walking away in a huff, leaving Mako alone. Once again, Mako screwed up at his women talk...seemed he couldn't get a break with either girl when a personal problem came up...
In another part of the airship, Desna and Eska were in their room, playing a game of Pai Sho together. Words of conversation were very minimal, as each side moved each piece in deep concentration over the other. During the game, Eska spoke.
"Yes?" Desna asked, moving his Pai Sho tile to its next placement.
"Isn't it surprising to see Ziyou after these many years?" Eska asked, taking her turn, and moving her piece into position.
"Perhaps. I thought her betrayal would be evident for a much longer period of time," Desna replied, moving his tile. Eska moved one of her pieces before continuing.
"So did I, but her positive attitude seemed to blind her."
"That is purely debatable."
The two moved back and forth between turns, about 5 rounds, when the same girl in question, Ziyou, decided to come in to see them. She didn't look too happy.
"Hey guys. I need to talk to you," Ziyou said, trying to think over how to exactly put it as Desna and Eska looked at her.
"What is in your mind that needs to be discussed?" Eska asked. Ziyou groaned hearing that.
"That's just it, right there. You two are acting so...what's the word...?"
"Dull?" asked Desna.
"Boring?" Added Eska.
Ziyou just remained quiet, a mixed of shock and annoyance on her face.
"You two know the darn problem?"
"We're mainly called that."
"Well, I think it's best if we at least try to change some attitude, I know you two weren't always like this."
"That's a pointless task. Unalaq preferred us this way," Desna stated.
"It wouldn't matter to someone who's dead. Besides, if one person agrees, doesn't mean the rest of the world does... You know what? How about a play day together?"
"Excuse us?" Both twins asked, confused.
"Sure! We can have a fun day together! I can do your hair, even!"
"Ziyou, our hair is in peak condition," said an annoyed Eska. Seeing the opportunity to mess with them, suddenly caused herself to "sneeze" in their direction, making Desna and Eska's hair blow back and stay that way in an almost comedic manor. Ziyou smirked after that.
"Not anymore. (Turns to the hall) Hey, Ikki!"
Few seconds after her name was called, Ikki quickly rushed over.
"What is it?"
"Say Ikki, Desna and Eska have a bit of an issue with their hair. You wanna help me fix up their hair?" Ziyou asked. Ikki beamed at the idea, mouth in a huge smile and eyes sparkling.
Desna and Eska looked at each other worryingly. Even if they needed it, put at the hands of someone like Ikki could be a bit...risky, to say the least. They just hoped to land soon before Ikki could begin...
Time went on slowly as they continued going over the western sea for a good hour at the most. Through the trip, Mako still wasn't able to speak to Asami and Korra for the time being, which sucked for him. It remained like that, until they noticed a sight that sparked hope: land! Fire Nation! Good thing: any longer out at sea, and it wouldn't go too well for any of them. It didn't take very long before the airship was now flying over land instead of water, and soon, they all could see a new, densely populated town just ahead of them. The town ahead of them was known as Jang Hui, a fishing town that had been around since the Hundred Year War, and had since expanded and grown into a more thriving town. Not in the likes of Republic City, no, the buildings would be too heavy to stay above water. Instead, they stuck with large homes and shops, held up by concrete and iron rather than wood like it was during the war long ago. The townspeople were doing better as well, going about their days and working hours. However, exact landing for an airship was rather tricky, considering there wasn't too much area to even land for the Earth Kingdom airship as they hovered overhead. It did seem rather annoying to find a spot to handle the landing, but they did find a good spot eventually, at the edge of the town, by one of their many docks. No one was at the docks to greet them, which was odd to see. Normally, a place like this would be full of people at the docks, to handle fishing, but here, no one was there. Team Avatar walked on outside, except for Desna and Eska (who oddly weren't seen throughout the trip). Ziyou and Ikki took their time too, as the rest awaited for the others to join them.
"What's taking them?" Kai wondered, to no one in particular. It took a little bit, but eventually Ikki and Ziyou walked outside, both with a big smile on their faces. Desna and Eska walked out too...but their style of hair was a bit...odd. Thanks to Ziyou and Ikki's work, Desna hair now had an odd look to resemble a more boyish look: his hair up in a bun to the back so it didn't dangle. As for Eska, her hair was modeled to have more curls in it, kind of resembling Asami's, but more curly around the edge of it. The twins kind of felt a bit awkward about their new looks, but weren't letting it show in front of everyone. The group did looked confused with their new look.
"Uh...nice hair," Opal said, trying to be supportive, but Desna and Eska ignored her, knowing what she was really thinking of their dumb look.
"When did you decide on a hair change?" Kai asked.
"Ask them," Eska said, pointing her thumb to Ziyou and Ikki. All Ziyou said was "Just a quick change."
"Okay then...come on, let's look around," Mako said, as the rest began to head off into town. However, Desna and Eska were stopped by Ziyou and Ikki rather quickly.
"Hold on you two. We're still working on positive attitude today," Ziyou reminded.
"So, how about a big smile? Like this," Ikki said. She gave her example of a smile, beaming at them both. Desna and Eska glanced at each other and tried to mimic her...but their "smile" was more just them gritting their teeth...
"This'll be harder than I thought," sighed Ziyou.
A bit ahead, Korra began to look around at the town from her perspective. However, the town seemed to be fine, no one in too much panic or worry at the moment. In fact, it seemed the town had no issue what so ever. Korra started walking over along the docks, the water crystal clear off the deck. While doing so, suddenly she saw something. Just off the dockside appeared to be some sort of odd flower, looking fairly big. It looked like a sort of water lily in appearance, but was bigger than a normal lily should be.
"What's that?" Korra wondered. Sure, it looked like a flower, but something about it seemed off. Asami, Bolin and Opal walked over to see it as well, just as confused over all. Asami leaned in, knocking a small pebble off the dock into the water, hitting one of the pedals. Suddenly, the flower quickly shot underwater, and the head of some odd creature poked out. The head looked like that of a fish, with 2 weird-looking antenna things curving around the front, a proboscis in front. Almost immediately after seeing the head, some black substance was suddenly shot out at them. The rest got out of the way, but Asami wasn't so lucky. The black stuff covered her torso, and a small bit was shot inside Asami's mouth, which in panic, she swallowed. The thing that shot the ink at her jumped up, and U-turned back underwater. Of course Asami wasn't too happy about being covered in ink, or whatever the stuff was.
"Asami, you alright?" Korra asked, as Asami got back up, looking down at the odd ink.
"Yeah, but I think I need to wash this off," Asami groaned. Korra tried to bend the ink off her, but the Ink remained put where it hit her, no matter what Korra did. Desna and Eska tried too, with no luck. As they were...
"Oh great, another one?"
The group all turned and saw a man standing by the edge of the dock. He looked like a typical Fire Nation fisherman, his grey hair held up by a headband. His orange eyes looked right to Asami, with arms crossed.
"What do you mean, another one?" Ziyou asked.
"Oy, since those flower squid ended up here, so many fisherman end up getting hit by them, and didn't end so well."
"What?! What happened to them?" Ikki asked. The fisherman just groaned.
"Oh, plenty of things. Skin turns red and puffy, some even got blinded for a good while after that. Might I suggest taking her somewhere comfy before that ink kicks in. Trust me, it'll help you," he warned. After hearing all of that, they worried about Asami, Asami worried the most over what was going happen to her.
Bolin tapped the man on his shoulder.
"This doesn't end in a 'save-her-or-die' thing, right?"
"What? Oh, no, it won't kill her, you'll just wish you were dead for a good while, say, 5 days tops," he said. While it was good she wouldn't die, it didn't help all that much. Asami didn't know what to expect, but sometime after that, the ink on her body suddenly seeped through her cloths! Asami suddenly bent over, gripping her stomach as she groaned in pain. Korra held her up as the pain made Asami feel ill, as she was being escorted inside the airship.
"Looks like someone isn't coming out anytime soon. I'll stay with her for the time being, the rest of you try to get some supplies, okay?" Korra advised, walking in with the sickly girl. The rest looked on in worry for Asami, as Kai turned to the man.
"Didn't you say this happened before?"
"More than I'd like. Come on, I can help you out, I'll explain on the way," the fisherman said, a hand signaling the others to follow. Most did so, but Kai and Opal turned back to the airship for a second.
"I hope this effect isn't too dangerous," Opal said in worry, just thinking on how big of an effect it could have on her, even if half of what the man said was true. The two glanced at each other before heading off with the rest.
As the group continued on their way, excluding Korra and Asami from the picture, they continued seeing the same apparent "flower squid" in the water, some swimming, some disguising as flowers. There wasn't much question as to why the incidents keep happening: flower squid practically flood the canals that go through the city of Jang Hui. Not too many to the point of covering the entire surface, but still a good amount, about 30 from where they were.
"This city isn't so enthusiastic on animal extermination, are you?" Eska commented, looking down at the river.
"These things had just arrived a few days ago, give us a break," the fisherman explained.
"Really? You sound like you always knew them," Mako said.
"No, no. That's the odd thing; these things didn't show up until after this odd kid left. He looked like a Water Tribe kid, but something 'bout him was just off."
"Off how? Like 'acting tourist' off, or 'completely weird' off?" Bolin asked.
"More just weird. He calls himself "El Niño" or something like that, and he kept asking me these weird questions: how warm is the water? What current flows through the city? How much pollution effected the river in the past years?" The man explained, counting out the questions on his fingers as he did so.
"That is peculiar behavior," Desna said after he was done.
"Well, not much different from you," he chuckled. The twins didn't say anything, as Ziyou nudged them.
"Shouldn't you tell him about your status?" Ziyou asked.
"We'll see how it plays out," they both said, walking ahead of her. Ziyou let them do so, but reminded them of the smile...which again, the two tried mimicking, only to have it not working. Geesh.
The rest of the group continued off down the road, the entire time, the flower squid and a few other odd creatures in the waters next to them. While the flower squid were evident there, other creatures included an odd, 3-legged bug with a large "bubble" on its back, and a rounded proboscis like that of a hose, which skidded on the water like a skier on ice. One of these odd creatures, which the fisherman called a 'bubbleskimmer', followed the group of humans on their walk, not leaving the water. Ikki was the only one that noticed it, but since it didn't bother them, she didn't really say anything. Instead, she listened to what the fisherman had to say.
"Can you tell us more about this El Niño guy?" Ziyou asked at one point. The fisherman thought for a moment.
"Let's see...it was a slow day in my market, not many customers that day.
--(Few days ago)--
The shop he owned was in moderate condition: various assortment of fish for sale, along with fishing equipment to the walls aside of him. He just sat by the counter, a bit bored considering not many people were in that day, if anyone. As he sat there, his finger tapping the counter top, suddenly he heard his door open. He looked up from his counter to see a teenaged boy standing there, outfit purely belonging to a Water Tribe man. His hair was let down, a "crescent" to the front, and his eyes pure blue.
"Hello, how can I help you?"
The boy didn't reply at first, looking around at all the dead fish being displayed. Then he looked back at him.
"You spend a lot of time on the water, yes?"
"Indeed I do."
"Good. What temperature is the water regularly around here?"
That was an odd question to hear, as the worker raised an eyebrow.
"Um...warm? Most of the year it stays warm," he said, slightly confused. The boy nodded, and continued to browse the fish stock around him.
Again, an odd question to ask.
"Well, maybe a bit," he said, his index finger and thumb close together for emphases. The boy nodded and continued to look around.
"What direction does the current usually go?"
"Um...the way it always does?"
The boy was a bit perplexed by the last answer.
It'll work out. Some flower squid will be coming soon. Goodbye."
So, without further question, he nodded and walked out...
"And then these things showed up," he explained, a hand towards the odd creatures. The team just stared down the animals, as the bubbleskimmer stared right at them, and the flower squid retreating.
"So this kid told you about these things before they showed up?" Ikki recapped.
"Aye, that's correct. Now, you said you need supplies, right?"
"That would be great."
Back on the airship, the lack of activity from the rest left the interior completely quiet. Only ones in there were Korra, Asami, and Naga. Inside, Naga was lazily sleeping in the main room, as Korra came in with some leftover bread, all they got for the moment. Asami laid on the couch, on her back, looking asleep, and covered up with a blanket. Korra had been keeping an eye on her throughout the day, and so far, Asami was mainly in pain. Not in death pain, but more in agony, and Korra was getting worried...at least by that point, the others returned, supplies in hand.
"We're back!" Ziyou shouted, as the rest walked in. Almost immediately, Kai, Bolin, Ikki and Ziyou went right to Asami, who awoke when disturbed by Ziyou's little shout.
"How are you feeling, Asami?" Ikki asked. Asami just looked down at herself, covered in sheets.
"Just sore...a lot," Asami said.
"You getting hot, Asami? Maybe you should take the covers off for -"
Bolin was cut off once he removed the covers off of her. Not exactly the covers, but what they concealed: Asami's stomach was red, puffy, and looked like she was in her 7 month of pregnancy. The sight made Bolin jump back (much to Asami's annoyance). The others didn't expect this sort of reaction either. Desna and Eska simply looked with a confused expression, as Ziyou took a closer look.
"What in the world? What happened here, did you go on a binge or something?" Ziyou asked, her tactlessness showing a bit. Asami would snap back, but lucky Korra was there to set her head straight...though a slap to her temple was a bit unneeded.
"Sis, this is from that flower squid ink, remember?" Korra reminded.
"Yeah, I know, but you have to admit, this is a bit much, isn't it?" Ziyou countered. Yeah, she wasn't helping, but she had a point. Asami groaned, half due to pain, half due to tactlessness on Ziyou's part.
"Guys, please, I'll be fine. Let's just -"
Suddenly, Asami felt a sharp pain shoot through her, her hands gripping her enlarged stomach as she gritted her teeth. The others (excluding Desna and Eska) got worried.
"Asami!" Mako gasped.
"Okay, breathe, breathe," Ikki insisted. Asami tried to control her breathing, difficult with the pain she had to endure, and it was just day one! Who was to say how much worse it could get as time went on. Desna and Eska were even more confused with the group reaction.
"They're aware it's not a real pregnancy, right?" Eska asked.
"Perhaps caring for each other can blind one to obvious facts. Come on, we still didn't finish our Pai Sho," Desna insisted. Eska nodded in agreement, and the 2 walked away as the others tended to Asami, who was starting to calm down a bit.
Pretty soon, Desna and Eska were back in their room again, their Pai Sho table still there with all the pieces in place. So they continued on with their game for a while, about as into it as before. But their game alone didn't go too far, mainly for when suddenly Asami was brought in by Korra and Opal.
"What are you doing?" Desna asked.
"Asami needs a better place to rest. You don't mind if she rests here, do you?" Opal asked. The twins looked at her quizzically.
"Why?" They both asked, as Asami was placed on their bed.
"Well, you two do have one of the better beds. Can't you two try to handle it until she recovers?" Korra asked.
The twins didn't reply.
"Or would you rather just go back home to your boring lives as chiefs?"
The twins changed their minds. Sure, it was a slight bother with Asami on the bed, but they didn't want to go back just yet. So they allowed Asami to stay, assuring with a nod.
"Thanks, guys. Now Asami, you just lay here and relax," Opal assured. Asami was pretty much asleep soon after she was placed on the bed, so a response wasn't evident. With that, Korra and Opal left, leaving Desna and Eska with Asami...they went back to their game, without another word.
Time kind of slowed down for a good while. As the group was getting ready to go, Ziyou decided to go out for a while more before they go. Her excuse: walking Naga (a weak excuse, but an excuse nonetheless). For some extra measure, Korra decided to come along herself. The time they went was about five to six, so activity was a bit more abundant, people starting to head home after work, and kids going about Jang Hui. Korra walked alongside Naga as Ziyou was laying on Naga's back, staring up to the sky, with her hands behind her head. So much for her walking.
"So, Korra, how's dad?" Ziyou asked at one point.
"Tonraq? Yeah, he's doing just fine, last time I checked. Haven't heard of him in a while though," Korra admitted. Last she heard of him was during the Kuvira incident, and that alone wasn't too much interaction.
"Oh. Guy's busy, huh?"
"Yeah, he is the Southern Water Tribe Chief after all."
"True...soooo...you got some good friends."
"Yeah, there pretty great to be around. Mako, Bolin, Asami, those guys are the best friends ever."
"I can see that. Speaking of Asami, what is it with you two, anyway?"
Korra stopped. Now Ziyou's questioning her relationship with Asami? She was hoping that no one else would bother her about it, she dealt with Mako about that already before they arrived.
"Why are you asking, Ziyou?" Korra asked, firmly.
"Just curious as all. You two seem a bit tight, really."
"We're just friends," Korra said bluntly, and rather quickly.
"Then what's with that little lovey-dovey moment few nights back? I may not had been round people for a while, but that's a bit forward to me."
Before their conversation could continue, suddenly Naga started to growl for some reason. Why, the 2 weren't sure about, but Naga was in high alert, eyes fixated in front of her. The sisters followed Naga's eyes ahead, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. There was one kid though, sitting right by the edge of the brick walk, to the river below, rubbing gently at a bubbleskimmer's back. He looked rather wet in his long hair, and appeared Water Tribe origin. Korra found it odd since they're in the Fire Nation, but Ziyou found it surprising, the appearance matching the description the fisherman said earlier. The boy got up, and looked back at them, Naga behaving more aggressively.
"Naga, down. (Turns to him) Sorry about that, she can be protective at times," Korra said. But the boy didn't respond at first, just giving them both a rather blank expression. His eyes moved around to Naga, then Ziyou, and then Korra. When he saw Korra though, he gave Korra an expression mixing confusion with surprise.
"You seem...peculiar," he said, taking a few steps forward.
"Well, I am the Avatar," Korra said, hand to heart. But that just gave the boy even more confusion, oddly enough.
"Uh yeah, Avatar, master of all 4 elements, bringing balance to the world."
"...I don't understand...what is this Avatar?"
Korra didn't expect that kind of response. As far as she knew, everyone in the whole world had heard of the Avatar at least once in their lives, and the legends that came with it. But this kid seemed to not know anything about the Avatar. Ziyou sat up from Naga's back, and turned to him.
"You mean you never heard of the Avatar, EVER?"
"No. Is it a new race? New species, maybe?" He asked, same quizzical expression, like that of a curious toddler.
"Uh...not at all. It's a person who can bend all 4 elements."
"...Is that it? What's so special about them then?"
"They have the 'Avatar State' to start," Ziyou interrupted. The boy scratched his wet, smooth hair in confusion.
"The...Avatar? State?... When did the Avatar first appear?"
Korra and Ziyou glanced at each other, completely confused. First he didn't know anything about the Avatar, now he wants to know their origin. Curious kid, he was. Sighing, Korra complied.
"If you need to know, the Avatar began thousands of years ago, when Avatar Wan fused with Raava to -"
The name Raava made the boy step back, gasping in odd worry. What'd Korra say to scare him?
"R-Raava? F-fused with a mortal creature?"
"Well yeah, and I'm the newest Avatar, Raava's newest connection."
"...Does that mean...She's here? With you?" The boy asked in a frightened tone. All Korra did was nod...and the boy took off, running down the walkway, and cutting a corner. Korra and Ziyou rushed down to catch him, but soon as they cut the corner, he disappeared, gone, no sign of him anywhere...
"...That was really weird..."
"Yeah. Come on, let's continue to the Capitol. We may have some answers there," Korra advised. After that, Korra, Ziyou and Naga started back, Naga still edgy after the boy had left... The boy peered from the water surface in the river further down, his hair fusing with the water...
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