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|Fate is Being Hit by a Bus Part 2|
Are you really sending me into the ring?!
"My lung is punctured." Ishio had met up with the undercover agent who would be leading him to the ring. The agent had introduced himself as Liwei ("But here, my name is 'Han'" he had added), and unlike the rest he really wasn't all the intimidating. A young man, in his late teens probably, black hair, and probably the same height and weight as Ishio. Still, the manner with which he held himself was dignified and proud.
"Man up." he responded, searching for the ally they were to duck into.
"I don't think you understand that I could die from this wound, and Tang expects me to not only bend, but to win." Though Liwei's pace was sporadic, stopping every now and again to look around and then speeding up again to make up for lost time, Ishio was able to keep up and complain about his wounds. He wanted to be a pro-bender, that was why he had come to Republic City, but he didn't like the idea of bending for the people he was trying to spite.
Liwei rolled his eyes, "Cry me a river."
"I'll be coughing up a river... Of blood." Ishio retorted, before adding, "that sounded stupid. Let me rethink how to phrase my complaint and I'll get back to you."
"We're here," his companion stated.
"Wait, I almost have it."
"We're here," Liwei repeated robotically.
They had been wandering through tunnels for a while, and every now and then Liwei would ask Ishio to bend some rocks out of the way and move them back as they continued. It was extremely hidden, and designed in a manner that only non-benders who had befriended benders would be able to get through. Quite convenient, unless you realized that an Earthbender working for the police would have an easy time waltzing into the arena and bringing his friends along.
Being a spy for the people who strove to imprison benders made Ishio, as a bender, a bit uneasy. He hadn't exactly been given an option, of course. If he decided not to help them, he would be sent to who-knows-where and wouldn't be able to bend there. And if he decided not to help them, he had already slipped up and told them where he lived. Surely his friends and family would be punished as well. "No" just wasn't an answer available.
"Since I'm not a combatant, I can't go any further with you," Liwei stated. "But I'll be watching from the audience. You're on your own in the ring." He blinked, and paused as though he was going to wish Ishio luck. Instead, after an awkward pause, he simply turned and left.
Before coming, Ishio had thought to change his clothes. He wore traditional Earthbending robes: his great-great-great-great-grandfather's, in fact. The deep green and brown of the Earth Kingdom, and the regality of robes even though they were not especially expensive. They were extremely old, and his parents had been preserving them since he was a kid... His stealing of the robes probably didn't make them any happier about his sudden disappearance. Ishio also would have done his hair in a topknot had he not cut it before coming to Republic City. Despite the lack of a better hair style, Ishio looked like he had come from the world one hundred years ago. Which was his goal in being a pro-bender: to preserve his own idea of what bending should be—as it once was. Different than his slutty opponent. Liwei had left, and with a final deep breath, Ishio stepped out into the ring...
"Gooood evening, pro-bending fans! Tonight we have something special in store for you!" The loudspeaker crackled with age and misuse, yet still it rang out over the entire arena. Hearing it against his eardrums made a grin pass across Ishio's face as he waited to enter. All his dreams of this moment were coming back to him. Those dreams of glory, hearing the loudspeaker crackle, his ring-name announced, stepping out into the blinding lights and finally becoming a man, finally becoming the bender he always wanted to be.
"And the challenger: a man new to the bending scene, Golem!" 'Go out when you here them announce Golem'. Simple enough instructions, but Ishio was so lost in his fantasy that he almost forgot, and stepped out into the ring with less confidence and stride than he had hoped. The ring that faced him served to take away the rest of the confidence within him.
Blood. Ishio had never seen so much blood in his life before. The floor of the ring was stained with the blood of countless other benders who had lost their life here before. Their blood wasn't the only thing left behind... In addition to the other gore around the ring, the smell of death was thick. Under normal circumstances, Ishio would have vomited. But he saw his opponent, he saw the young woman facing him, and he knew that he would have to be as resilient to the gore as she was.
"How will the Golem fare against our very own Queen of Frost? Will her stunningly good looks and ice water in her veins freeze the Earthbender in his tracks, or will Miss Frost find her frost shattered by an earthquake? We will have to see how our newest member to the fighting scene will fare!" With those final words, the gong was rang and the match began.
Before Ishio had a chance to move, he felt pain shoot through his left shoulder. "Urrk," he grunted and looked at his shoulder. There didn't appear to be any projectile in it, but there was a wound about the size of a bullet hole that made it apparent that something had hit him. Teeth clenched, he looked up to see that his opponent had already moved. At the beginning of the match, she must have condensed the water in the air into ice projectiles that covered each of her ten fingers. Her right hand was extended and the ice on her index finger was only just reforming.
"IT HITS! Barely into the match and her main attack hits!" The announcer was energetic, yearning for the bloodshed of the match. As he announced, a roar came over the crowd. They were all expecting a slaughter now, and for them a slaughter was often more interesting than an actual fight.
From the stands, Liwei was streaming the match live for Inspector Tang to watch from the comfort of their headquarters. He couldn't talk for fear of messing up the recording, and so he steadily held his cell phone in his hand and watched. He'll have to do better than that if he wants to survive... Frost is just playing with him right now. Liwei thought, nervous about how Ishio would do in the ring. Though he was convincing himself that he was nervous their hopes of infiltrating the system would be dashed by Ishio's failure, he couldn't say that he wasn't worried about the Earthbender.
Ishio gingerly touched the wound with his index and middle finger. It was bleeding, but not too much. The ice projectile had melted on contact, which was both a good thing and a bad thing... But he wasn't given time to think about his options. Five more projectiles came whizzing towards him. Hardly thinking, Ishio's instincts took over and he stomped the ground with his right foot and a rock wall shot from the ground. He couldn't see the attack, but he heard each projectile hit, crack, and melt against the wall.
"Oh! It looks like our Golem isn't incapable of defending himself!" Some boos came with this announcement.
The rock wall still stood in front of him, and Ishio smashed his shoulder into it. As he did so, the rock melded into his body shape. He continued to move forward, and the stone formed into a rock armor completely covering his body. His eyes, mouth, and nose were exposed so that he could see and breathe, and he took a fighting stance once the rock wall had completely formed into his armor.
A smirk crossed Frost's face. "This isn't the first time I've faced an Earthbender using rock armor," she said confidently. But her opponent was unmoved, and he simply stood his ground like a stone statue. Her right foot shifted backwards ever so slightly, and she pushed off of the ground, rushing towards Ishio. Only a few feet away from him, Frost swung her left arm and shot the other five projectiles at his face, aiming towards his exposed eyes.
Stone covered his eyes in time for the ice to be deflected. Right as the attack hit, Ishio countered and threw his right arm forward. The stone glove covering his arm shot off, and latched onto Frost's exposed left wrist. She screamed, and was pulled to the ground. Ishio's glove stuck itself to the floor, successfully immobilizing Frost by her wrist.
"Ah! Our Frost Queen is in a pinch! Is this a reversal of fortune? Or will the tides turn yet again?" The crowd had begun to roar for Ishio to destroy Frost at this point, showing that their alliance was easily shifted to whomever had the highest chance of giving the match as much gore as possible.
His left arm was still covered in stone, and Ishio leapt into the air. His fist brought down on where Frost was stuck, but there was enough mobility for Frost to flip herself backwards and narrowly avoid the attack, though her wrist was still bound. When Ishio made contact with the ground, his rock armor dissolved back into the surrounding area. Something in this exchange of attacks was extremely surprising, and a wave of startled puzzlement went over Ishio. Not because he missed, but because of what he smelled. Roses? Frost was still bent backwards, and once Ishio made contact with the ground she flipped herself forward again and landed a downward kick on Ishio's head. Her heel made solid contact with his skull and caused his face to smash into the ground.
While Ishio was unable to move, Frost summoned water from the surrounding source. She turned the water into an extremely highly pressurized water whip that cut through the stone like butter. At the same time, Ishio came to and stood, wiping the blood off of his mouth. The two made their distance and paced for a while, waiting for an opportunity.
"Why the hell are you wearing perfume?" Ishio asked, being blunt in taking advantage of this break in the fighting.
"What?" It was obvious that she was surprised that he was talking at all in the middle of the fight.
"Rose perfume. I asked you why the hell you're wearing perfume while fighting."
"Well..." Frost put her hand on her hip and furrowed her brow as she thought of her logic. "The smell of sweat is unattractive."
"You have got to be kidding me."
"What?" This time, it was apparent that she couldn't exactly here him from across the ring.
"I said YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! YOU'RE WEARING GODDAMN PERFUME IN THE RING." He spoke loudly and slowly so she could here.
"You're wearing a hundred year-old bending uniform. That's no more ridiculous."
Ishio hesitated before responding.
In the stands, Liwei watched the display with a mix of irritation and curiosity. Mostly irritation. Only moments ago, Ishio had been fighting for his life, and had been going back and forth from about to win to about to lose. Now, he and Frost were arguing like an old couple. Even though the fighting seemed to have halted, Liwei knew he had to continue streaming it back for Tang... A pressure came down on Liwei's shoulder; he felt the barrel of a gun press against his back as well. He wasn't given a choice but to follow the figures which had apprehended him.
At this point, Ishio and Frost had begun to argue about basic fashion taste. Ishio defended his style, saying that it wasn't one hundred years outdated, it was vintage while Frost told him that he had the fashion taste of a corpse and the arguing skills of one, too.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your discussion, but I'm afraid this match is going to have to come to a close." A man came from the entrance of the ring. Garbed in a pinstripe suit, he looked like some sort of mafioso gangster. His skin was tanned, and his body fit and thin. He was smiling slightly, but in the way a person smiles when they're rebuking a child. Behind him were two similarly dressed men. And between them was a bloodied and beaten Liwei. The leader held an open cell phone in his hand, and put it on speaker phone so that the entire arena could hear the other end. "Liwei! Report! What's the status of the mission?!" The voice on the other end was obviously Tang, and the man smiled at the desperate Inspector's voice.
He dropped the phone on the floor and smashed it with his foot before turning to Ishio and Frost. "You and your friend here won't be reporting back to your boss in the police force... Considering the invasion we're launching in a few hours on the headquarters, I'd say that makes you two look like traitors." A group of men came out from the same entrance with heavy firearms pointed at Ishio. The leader turned on a microphone on his uniform and said to the entire audience. "I could kill you both here, but that's no fun. Watching you being hunted by both the police and the criminal world would be much more entertaining." he now addressed the entire audience. "Wouldn't you all agree?" The audience howled with joy.
Ishio grit his teeth, knowing that he shouldn't let himself go down this easily. He took a deep breath and shifted his stance. His right foot slid in front of his left, and he clenched both his fists and shot them forward. Several small protrusions of earth were created which slammed into some of the armed men and sent them flying into the water.
"You punk..." One of them shouted as he raised his gun to fire. The attack attempt was stopped in mid-movement. There was a small hole in his head and a look of surprise on his face as his corpse fell to the floor of the arena. Frost's arm was outstretched, and her right index finger was missing its ice projectile. They were still greatly outnumbered, but now Ishio had someone to help him while Liwei was unavailable. The two sides were at an impasse. Those who raised their guns would be attacked with Frost's projectiles. If Ishio or Frost attacked, Liwei would be attacked, as he was their hostage...
Water lapped up from the source at the side of the arena while neither side moved. At first, it wasn't noticeable as it inched towards the leader's foot. It made its way up his leg, freezing over--which would render him immobile. None had moved, and so both the gangsters as well as Ishio and Frost watched what was happening. Only the leader of the gangsters moved, to shake the ice off and try to move away from the edge of the arena.
A figure burst from the water around the arena. Water swirled about his legs in a pillar that propelled him onto the arena. He landed on the ground and spun the spire of liquid into a massive water whip that slammed into the gangsters still pointing weapons at Ishio and Frost, throwing them into the water below. The Waterbender was an older man, middle aged probably, wearing a normal business suit; overall just an average man capable of that extreme amount of power.
All that was left were the two gangsters holding Liwei and their leader. One of the people holding Liwei found himself with a hole in his head during the old man's attack, as Frost had used the opportunity to catch him off guard. The other one decided that he would rather not die and fled. An injured Liwei staggered over to where the others had fought off the gangsters and stood beside them.
"Liwei, are you well enough to fight?" Ishio asked the spy.
"Bastard; you're one to talk considering how much you were complaining about your old wounds earlier," he responded. Ishio couldn't help but chuckle—he felt absolutely no pain in his chest despite how big of a deal he had made it out as.
The sole opponent remaining laughed. "You bring in an old man, and you think you can defeat us? You think destroying this pro-bending world will destroy the entire world of illegal bending?!" His laugh turned maniacal. "We are but a limb of the greater being."
"If you cut off a monster's leg," the old man said, stepping forward, "he will have a lot harder time walking." He pulled a gun from his holster and pointed it at the man's head. A shot, and the gangster's body fell into the water below.
Those four remained in the arena, and the audience watched in shock, only to fade over the course of a couple of minutes; they would never come back, and time would cause this arena to be erased completely. The unlikely team sat down on the battle torn arena, exasperated and thankful for the opportunity to catch their breath. Except for the mysterious Waterbender, who smiled at Ishio. "The Avatar... I wish I had gotten to you before those bloody police to avoid this whole mess." His smile turned into a stupid grin, and it was obvious that he was really excited to finally be face to face and able to talk to Ishio.
- Frost's character was originally designed as a tribute of sorts to the character "Blue Rose" from the anime "Tiger & Bunny". However, once I started writing with her I decided that I wanted to make her more original, and so I tweaked her character a lot. She's more bad ass now and she does bending other than just ice bending, as I originally intended.
- Ishio's ring name was "The Mysterious Stranger" before I went through and edited it, haha.
For the collective works of the author, go here.