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|Ep.5: Swamp Whispers|
It had been a few days since Korra and the others had left. It had gone rather quiet for the Chief of Police, Lin. Lin Beifong had a bit on her plate that she still didn't have a clue on, in particular where to put Kuvira. Being a metalbender, Kuvira could easily just escape by herself. Despite Kuvira being oddly quiet, even out of her icy trap, she didn't bother to break any bars or anything of that nature. Still, Kuvira's sentence wasn't over, and just keeping her around the station wasn't the best idea.
At the moment, Lin Beifong was just sitting in her office, looking close to daydreaming; she was so bored, a finger tapping on the table top. Her mind was still wondering when one of her offices came in, catching Lin slightly by surprise.
"Chief, someone's here to see you."
"Who is it?"
"Actually, it's Suyin, President of Zaofu."
Lin got right off her seat after hearing that. Her sister? Soon after the officer said that, her sister came right on in to see her. The officer left, leaving Lin and her sister alone.
"Suyin! To be honest, I didn't expect you to show up," Lin started as Suyin walked in the room.
"I've heard about the incident of Kuvira's prison, I just had to come up," Suyin explained.
"Where's Kuvira? Did she escape?"
"No, she's with us down in the jail cell, but we can't keep her here."
"Any ideas on what to do?"
"Not yet. But so far -" Lin was stopped once the phone suddenly rang for her. After a bit, Lin picked it up. Not exactly the best time for a phone call, but Suyin didn't bother her too much about it.
"Hey, Chief! Everything going okay over there?"
"Oh, Korra. Yeah, it's fine over here. And you?"
"Going good, we finished fighting another Voronon just yesterday, and are heading West towards Ba Sing Se."
"I see. Well, watch yourself, kid, alright?" Lin hung up the phone, Suyin was a bit curious about the chat with Korra. Before Suyin could ask, Lin already had an answer for her.
"Korra and the others are off on another mission. Apparently these 'Voronon' are showing up around the Earth Kingdom, and the Avatar group has to stop them."
"Yeah, some sort of golems or something. Never mind that, let's focus on what to do with Kuvira. Any ideas, Suyin?"
At first, it was mainly silent, both sides trying to think of something to do. They both knew that Kuvira alone couldn't just stay at the police station, she needed to be held somewhere else, at least until they got a better prison made for Kuvira. However, Lin and Suyin didn't have too much of a clue... Then Suyin had an idea.
"Lin? Did you need somewhere to keep track of Kuvira?"
"That's the point."
"Good, why don't we let Mom watch her then? If anyone can keep Kuvira in check, it'll be her. We can keep her at the Foggy Swamp 'til the prison's remade."
The idea was a bit of a quick one, and one that Lin was surprised on. She was gonna say something, but after some thought, she realized that was actually a rather good idea, or a reasonable one at least. Their mother was a tough bender, strongest ever to be exact, so she could easily keep Kuvira from running off. Eventually, Lin nodded in agreement.
"Looks like I better get ready."
Lin began heading out the door, but Suyin stopped her for a second.
"I would like to come, too. It's been a while since I saw Mom."
"You know I'm not going there for a visit right? I'm dropping her off, and coming back."
"Lin, please? We both know Mom's been alone for a long time..."
Lin gave a rough sigh.
"Alright, fine. Just remember why we're even going there."
After that situation was established, the group got underway and ready. While Lin and Suyin were readying themselves, one of the officers went right to Kuvira, who just stayed quiet in her cell, thinking. Since her small excursion with both Shuvirra and Wan Shi Tong, Kuvira's mind was trapped in what to do or how to fully handle these so-called Voronon...
"Kuvira, time to go."
"Go? Go where?"
"You'll find out in a minute, now on your feet."
Kuvira did as instructed, and got back up to her feet. The officers ushered her out of the jail cell, and began bringing her along. As they were, though, Kuvira continued to think over those visions implanted in her brain once the statues had been activated. The many forms, shapes, beings and names were still embodied in her head, and she tried to make sense of it. Even if she was just being relocated, some time outside could help clear her mind and get some better answers than what the owl librarian had told her and Asami Sato.
Pretty soon, Kuvira was brought outside, seeing Lin and Suyin waiting with an armored truck for escort. If facing Lin was bad enough, Kuvira didn't want to face her former boss again, and couldn't bare to look her in the face. Lin moved forward to her men, signaling them to stop. Kuvira slightly looked at Lin, the officer aligning Kuvira's head to look directly in her eyes.
"Listen here, we're relocating you for the time being. I don't want any sort of trouble from you; any attempt on leaving and you'll be beaten to within an inch of your life, is that clear?"
Kuvira simply nodded, as Lin signaled her men to load her up in the truck. It was a bit straightforward, if not cold, but Kuvira was a dictator under arrest so it wasn't too far off. After that was decided, Lin and Suyin got in the truck, and headed off to the Foggy Swamp.
The days ticked on. The swamp in question was currently under the weather (literally), as rain poured down through the swamp mangrove trees. The bugs buzzed around the interior of the swampy landscape. While there, an old, short lady laid on one of the thick tree vines, listening to the rain around her, eyes closed. This woman laying on the vine was none other than Toph Beifong, the current greatness of Earthbending. During her rest, her sensitive feet began to pick up something, a vibration if one would. After firmly placing both feet on the vine, a smirk appeared on Toph's face.
"Whelp, looks like a family reunion," Toph chuckled, as she got up and started walking off her vine.
Just on the edge of the swamp, Lin, Suyin and the captured Kuvira had just arrived after a few days' travel. Keeping a close eye on Kuvira, the two began heading into the swamp. They didn't venture for more than ten feet when suddenly, they were encountered by the woman in question - sooner than expected.
"Mother! Good to see you again."
"Yeah, yeah, I know you are, no need to blabber on about it. So looks like the mean metalbender's here, too?" Obviously, Toph referred to Kuvira, who didn't look to Toph even once.
"Right. You mind watching her for a while?" Suyin asked.
"Again? I've already tangoed with Avatar Twinkle Toes - twice - and you want me to deal with her?" Toph groaned.
"Only until a new prison cell's made. See, her -"
"Yeah, yeah, I know her cell was beaten to a pulp. So you'd rather dump her on me than deal with her yourself?"
As they talked, Kuvira took a glance within the mangrove that was Foggy Swamp, starting to sense something within it...
"It could be easier. The prison's being worked on as we speak, so you won't have to deal with her for too long," Suyin assured. Toph thought for a moment, but she too felt some sort of odd presence. Getting a surprised expression, she turned back into the swamp.
"Hey, we didn't travel for days just so you -"
"Would you shut it for a second?" Toph snapped. Suyin and Lin watched as Toph placed a hand to the ground, focusing deeply on the source of the disturbance. As they were, Kuvira began feeling more and more troubled, sensing it as much as Toph was. Then, while all were quiet, an eerie groan emitted from the mangrove... which made Kuvira bolt into the swamp.
"Get back here!" Lin yelled, running after her, Suyin following close behind. Toph chuckled.
"Haven't changed much at all."
In the swamp, Kuvira continued running far ahead from the others, whispers becoming more and more audible in her ears. Lin and Suyin, to their surprise, managed to lose her after a bit, so Kuvira was all by herself for the time being. Rushing like her life depended on it, Kuvira rushed through the muddy swamp with great speed. Soon, the whispers became easier to recognize.
The voice was deeply ghostly, but Kuvira could recognize the voices almost down to instinct. Soon, Kuvira looked to a clearing within the swamp after whacking some vines out of the way. Kuvira saw two figure, one male, one female. Kuvira's eyes started to water.
"Mom?... Dad?...Is that you?!"
The figures turned to her, innocent and loving parental smiles on them both. Happy as ever, Kuvira rushed forward, but she didn't see where she was running, and tumbled on exposed vines. As soon as she looked up...no one. The tears swiftly turned from happiness to misery, as she slammed her fist into the earth, as if blaming the ground for the confusion. Soon afterwards, Lin and Suyin caught up with her at last, finding her looking ready to cry in pain.
"Kuvira, what did I tell you?!" Lin demanded, immediately readying for an attack, but Suyin could see pain written on Kuvira's face, and went over to her.
"Leave me alone, don't look at me!" Kuvira whimpered out, trying - and failing - to hold back tears. Suyin, despite Kuvira's dictator status, tried her best to comfort her, although Kuvira whacked her hand away. Lin lowered her guard slightly, but didn't want to take any chances. What didn't help was that soon after, an odd noise suddenly rang out. Kuvira felt a pain within her head, but in her state, she didn't notice it at first...the water around them started to shiver, as whatever made the call ventured forward...Then it appeared.
Venturing out from the undergrowth, towering over them like the trees around, a gigantic being walked forward. The creature resembled a tall horse, a mane of shining lime green flowing from its neck like a robe. Its tail was long, and ended in a hanging tuff of fur. Its eyes were a cyan blue, identifying it as a Voronon, but the eyes were much larger than the other Voronon any of them had seen, and aimed forward at them. Kuvira looked directly at the eyes of the surprisingly beautiful Voronon. Suyin and Lin were surprised upon seeing the creature just show up out of the blue, and were oddly surprised on what kind of beauty it had. While looking at it, Kuvira's head pounded, hearing the name in her head.
The Voronon looked them over, and began to gently nudge Kuvira up on her feet like a noble steed would, although it dwarfed Kuvira be meters of height. Kuvira stayed on her feet.
Whoii nodded, and started to usher the others along. Although Lin and Kuvira knew how dangerous a Voronon could be, they all decided to follow anyway.
The Voronon guided the three through the thicket of the swamp, through mud, water and dirt as it went. While they continued on, Lin kept her eye on Kuvira, thinking over a little bit about the last Voronon interaction. Through the last one she was involved with, Lin kept in mind that the Voronon never attempted to harm Kuvira. Reason why was currently unknown, but whatever Whoii was doing, it was going to end up protecting Kuvira at some point. For now, though, all Lin could do was follow Whoii through the swamp. Whoii kept a gentle demeanor for them all, a soft whinny escaping its mouth as it made its way through a clearing.
The clearing was actually Toph's current home, the entrance from the old tree still there in front of them. Whoii didn't stop until it was in the center of the clearing, bending down to have a better look at the three. Suyin stepped forward.
"What a beautiful creature..."
Lin and Kuvira kept their distance as Suyin walked over to Whoii, enthralled by the gentle creature. Suyin raised her hand, and started to reach to pet Whoii... Something that was going to be regretted. Just mere seconds after touching Whoii's snout, suddenly the mane became a gigantic, menacing thrill, and the mouth opened to show sharp fang-like rocks jutting from the upper roof of the mouth! Whoii's eyes turned orange in horrid anger, removing the beauty almost immediately.
Lin was the first to attack, bending the mud to blast at Whoii. However, the beast was not only dangerous, but armed! Rearing back, it opened its mouth to show charged energy, and blasted three pure energy orbs, exploding on impact with the ground. Lin and Suyin dodged, as the creature aimed at them. When the frontal feet landed, a tremor occurred, sending most of the fighters off balance. Kuvira could see them in danger, but before she could do anything, Whoii fired again. While two of the orbs landed at Lin, the last one launched off course, and struck Kuvira hard. The hit launched Kuvira ten feet into the water, landing into one of the tree trunks amongst the swamp. The hit was unintentional by the colossal beast, but it was enough to trigger more firepower from the Beifongs. Lin and Suyin tried their best, but any attack was shown ineffective against the Voronon, as Whoii started to charge up again. Before it finished, suddenly an array of fast-moving rock barbs struck its temple. Lin and Suyin looked in the direction the attack came from, and saw that Toph had caught up.
"Suyin, tend to the girl. Lin help me with this," Toph ordered. Suyin quickly rushed to Kuvira's aid, as Lin and Toph confronted Whoii. Hood raised, it quickly took to the fight. Lin kept her usual battling with mud blasts, but to little effect. Toph, however, tried to keep it still and non-attacking. From nearby, Suyin and Kuvira became observers to the battle. After some quick thinking, Toph bended the mud under one of Whoii's legs to suddenly cave in, making Whoii fall and collapse, its entire leg almost disappearing in the mud! The Voronon screeched and yelled as it tried getting back up. While Toph counted its destructive feet, she didn't count the projectiles in its mouth, as a sudden charge was shown, a single, much larger charge of fire than before. The blast was launched at only a few feet away, and Lin only narrowly dodged it as the explosion occurred... But Toph was not so lucky. The hit had, somehow, managed to hit Toph square in the chest, launching the greatest earthbender in history into her home, or much rather, her grave...
"MOM!" Lin and Suyin, seeing their mother blasted across the way, rushed right to Toph's landing area, as Whoii struggled to get to its feet. Kuvira got back up and raced over too, though Whoii was holding her back, as if asking for her help with its own problem. All Kuvira did was get out of the bind, and rushed to the entrance to Toph's home.
Inside, Lin and Suyin found Toph laying against the back wall, bloody and deeply wounded. She didn't appear to be moving, but her breathing showed she was still alive. Kuvira stayed aside, as Lin and Suyin went to their mother's aid.
"Mother! Mother, are you okay?! Say something!" Suyin yelled. Toph opened her eyes, staring off into space.
"Some hit...that's a first, eh?"
"Mother, please, are you hurt?"
"I think we both know...what the answer is."
Toph coughed a bit, not even bothering to get up from where she landed. Next, Lin went over.
"Mother, don't joke around, you'll be fine!"
"Kid, please... We both know I don't have that much time left anyway. Least I can say I've gone out with a bang." Toph chuckled weakly, though Lin was even more agitated.
"Mother, stop that! You will be fine, just hold -" Toph quieted Lin with a surprisingly firm slap to the face, as if making her come to senses. Toph knew she would go soon, so this wasn't too big of a deal anyway...
"Lin. Suyin. You two have carried on my legacy more than I could ask for... thank you both... It's your time now..."
With those final words, Toph finally closed her eyes, and breathed her last breath... thanks to Whoii, Toph had lived her final moments on earth...
At first, it was deeply silent, Lin and Suyin looking on in mourning. However, their time of sadness was short-lived, as just outside, Whoii had finally pulled itself free, and made a loud roar, reminding those inside who was responsible. It even had the nerve to look inside from the entrance, as if nothing bad had happened! Lin got up, and turned around towards the beast, the look of a killer in her eyes.
"You... YOU! AAAHHH!"
Lin, driven by rage, slammed Whoii back with a rock wall, launching Whoii back a bit as Lin rocketed out, bombarding Whoii with numerous sharp rocks like giant arrows. Whoii was soon covered from head to back with the arrows, black blood spilling all over the place. Suyin and Kuvira went out as Lin rained heck down upon Whoii. Even if none of them hit the mark, damage was visible on the creature. In her anger, Lin even had the nerve to tear off Whoii's frill with her Earthbending, causing black blood to gush and spew out from its head. The sheer anger on Lin's face surprisingly kept Suyin and Kuvira back as Lin kept at it. Lin Beifong finally managed to knock Whoii off its feet, slamming hard in the ground. The tremor, and landing, made one of the trees start to creek, and fall over. Lin landed nearby Suyin and Kuvira as Whoii began to get back up slowly, but the tree pinned it down, and slammed into the watery mud. At first, the three saw no movement on Whoii's part.
"...Is it over?..." Suyin wondered. Then the move that shocked everyone; Whoii, ever so slowly, got to its feet again...reared back...and swung the tree clear off of it. Whoii looked back at all of them, eyes still orange in color, but flickering like a dim, dying light bulb. But before it could attack again, Kuvira got in the way between them both...
"Whoii, you've done enough! I may not know what you Voronon are made to do, but if part of that is to kill innocent lives, then I refuse to stand by and allow you to do this! Through my experience, you Voronon try to protect me, so that means you care and listen to me. So, listen when I say you must surrender! And if you don't, I'll kill you myself!"
Lin, Suyin and Whoii just stared at her with such surprise... However, Whoii gave a low moan, the lights turning from orange back to cyan blue. Whoii started to lay down, and laid down, the lights finally stopping their glow. After everything was done, the drizzling of rain had ceased, and the sun went through to the very site of defeat. Kuvira turned back towards the Beifongs, who stayed quiet for a bit at first. After a while, they all looked at Toph's home. They all knew that the hole would be Toph's resting place. So, without a word, Lin used her Earthbending to seal the hole shut, burying Toph's body within...
"Rest in peace..."
Lin turned back to Kuvira, still a bit hurt from what had happened. Part of her blamed Kuvira for the Voronon protection it, but half of her said that wasn't the case. Meanwhile, Kuvira had her back turned away, looking to where they came in. She was a bit hurt too, seeing a life pass away in front of her, but her mind was more focused on the Voronon, and trying to figure out what to do. Suyin went back to Lin, a hand on her shoulder.
"I can't believe it."
"I'm sorry, Lin. This is all my fault, I shouldn't have suggested to come here."
"It's not your fault, Suyin." Lin and Suyin looked to Kuvira as she continued. "It's nobody's fault. It would've happened no matter what we've done. Right now, they need to be stopped before they harm anyone else."
Lin, still angry, turned to face Kuvira. Even if a part of her said no, her blame was still on her.
"Quiet, you! How are we to know you're not bringing these monsters back?!"
"You're blaming me? What did I do? I didn't plan this!"
"Don't give me that. These killers haven't even bothered with you, as you said, they wanted to protect you, and one broke you out of jail. Clearly you had something to do with it!"
"I had nothing to do with this, and you know it! I never planned on breaking out of prison, nor take anyone's lives! I'm sorry for what happened to your mom, and it must be hard to take, but -"
"How would you know? You never had parents to begin with!!"
Kuvira was silent, a fact she would rather forget, and that line was brutally crossed. It was harsh enough she had to see that illusion of her parents, and here Lin was pointing out that same fact to her. There was complete silence for a full minute, before Kuvira turned and ran away, silently crying.
"Don't turn your back on me!"
Before Lin could go after her, Suyin suddenly held her back. Lin was going to say something, but Suyin had a look of anger and disapproval on her face.
"That was completely uncalled for, Lin! I understand that you're upset, but putting the blame on her isn't going to solve anything."
"You're picking her side?"
"At this point, yes. Kuvira had a rough life, you and I both know that, but -"
"But what?! Suyin, this is Kuvira, the dictator who captured Zaofu, who captured our family, who nearly captured all the Earth Kingdom!"
"Even so, she's still human, a human with feelings. And what you did was unacceptable. If you don't want to talk, fine, but I'm going after her," Suyin said, going after her...
Some time after running off, Kuvira found a spot to relax and clear her mind. Soon, Suyin Beifong found Kuvira on her own. The girl was squatting down on one of the large vines in a clearing leading out of the swamp, face pressed against her knees as her arms covered her head. At first, Suyin was rather quiet, but eventually she started to walk over. Kuvira knew she was coming, but didn't say anything...
"Kuvira...there there, Kuvira, It's alright..."
Kuvira only barely looked up to her, tears lining her face.
"D-don't, just don't. You're not my mother, and you know it."
"You're right, I'm not. But that doesn't mean I don't care about you, Kuvira. You're my daughter, even if we're not blood-related."
Kuvira looked at Suyin's caring eyes. For a long time, Kuvira had actually forgotten the care Suyin had on her face towards her, even if she wasn't among her family. The metalbender wiped away some tears, and looked on ahead to outside the swamp.
"...Even after everything?...When I left you?..."
"Yes. I know I didn't show it while you were leading the Earth Empire. But deep down...I was worried about you. The last thing I wanted was for any of my children to be heading down a dark path...That includes you, Kuvira. You are a great girl, a loyal fighter and leader."
"But that doesn't cover the fact that I'm an orphan. An orphan just left behind by her own parents who didn't love her...I know I've never shown it, but ever since you told me that I'm not your daughter...I wondered who my real parents were...and why they left me behind..." Kuvira trailed off in her own mind as more tears formed on her face. Suyin gently wiped the tears off her face before she continued.
"Kuvira, there's no need to worry. I'm sure that whatever reason your parents had, it wasn't because they didn't love you. I love you, sweetheart. And I hate to see you in pain..."
Kuvira just turned away, thinking over what Suyin had told her. Eventually, however, Suyin spoke up again after a few minutes of silence.
"Let's start heading back."
Kuvira got back up to her feet, back turned to Suyin.
"I'm not going back. I don't care how dangerous this is, but I'm gonna go and figure everything out. I'm first going to stop the Voronon. After that, I'm looking for answers. Don't try to stop me." Kuvira began walking away from Suyin for a second or so...
Kuvira stopped and turned back to her.
"You've stayed with us for long enough. If this means that much to you, I won't stop you."
Kuvira took the moment to hug her adopted mother, and soon began running out of the swamp. Suyin knew she would have some explaining to do to Lin Beifong, but she knew it was the right thing to do...
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