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|Fate is Being Hit by a Bus Part 3|
I'm... The Avatar?
The three teenagers were unable to speak. All they could do was stare at the old man. Ishio was the Avatar? Then again, he hadn't said that it was Ishio... Frost and Liwei both knew that he couldn't possibly be talking to either of them. Ishio was the Avatar, and though they were dumbfounded, somehow they weren't that surprised. Something about him made them know that he was the Avatar...
"The... Avatar?" the first person to work up the ability to speak was the Avatar himself.
"Maybe we should head back to your current residence?" the old man suggested. Somehow, he knew where Ishio lived, and in a way the fact that the old man knew more about Ishio than Ishio did was creepy. Still, they had little option but to follow the old man and listen to his explanation.
"My first question is thus..." Liwei began to speak once they had arrived back at the warehouse. Odraz was mostly in the shadows, but he had decided to rest his head so close to the non-bender that it was violating his personal space. "Why the hell do I have to be here?"
"Why do you have to be here?" Frost quoted Liwei's words sarcastically. "I wasn't even with you guys in the police!"
Despite the fact that Ishio was probably the most saucy of the teenagers present, he couldn't bring himself to speak. Not two days ago, Ishio had been sitting in boredom in his second year class at Kyoshi High. Now he was battling scandalously dressed benders, gangsters, teaming up with an old man, and finding out that he was the Avatar. Talk about a turn of events. The old man saw Ishio's look of stunned bewilderment and decided to explain.
"When you were hit by a bus... You were distracted by Jo, weren't you?"
Ishio looked up and furrowed his brow. The old man decided to explain, "There was a spirit on the other side of the street. I happen to be good friends with him and know that his name was Jo. But you saw him, didn't you?"
"Of course I saw him, he was walking down the middle of the sidewalk. You'd have to be blind to not notice him." Ishio responding. If this was the old man's proof, then he had the wrong man.
Both Liwei and Frost looked at Ishio in alarm. "You saw a spirit?!" Frost clarified the fact in a startled tone.
"Most people can't see the spirits," the old man explained. "That's why they're so afraid of them. A threat that you can't even see." The old man approached Odraz and patted the badgermole's head lovingly. "It takes many, many years of adjusting your senses to be able to see spirits. Since the portals opened, I spent fifteen years training to get the ability. And it doesn't work for everyone who trains, either." He turned to look at Ishio. "But the Avatar can see the spirits without any sort of training. He was born able to see spirits. This is the best test we have for the Avatar now... I'm sorry that it isn't more reliable, but the Avatar is the bridge between the Spirit World and the Real World.... YOU are the bridge between the Spirit World and the Real World."
"I'm sorry sir, but you still haven't explained why me or the snitch are here." Frost interjected.
"LIWEI, my name is Liwei. I am not a snitch."
"You seem like one to me, considering the fact that you two cowards were spying on the pro-bending world."
The old man now turned to Liwei and Frost. "Your fates and the Avatar's fate were connected the moment you all stepped into the ring to face off against those thugs. Whatever happens from now on, you three are connected and—"
"I think I speak on behalf of all three of us when I say it's better if you just tell us there isn't really a reason, but we have to deal with it." Ishio spoke again, directing the attention back towards him. "If I'm the Avatar, and I already know Earthbending, that means I have to learn Firebending, Airbending, and Waterbending in that order, right?"
"Yes. It is your job to learn the four elements and master the Avatar State so you can close the portals to the spirit realm and create a world where benders are allowed to bend and live among everyone else."
Ishio nodded thoughtfully. Maybe being the Avatar wouldn't be such a bad thing: he would be able to bend, he would go on an adventure through the world, and he'd make it so that he would always be able to bend. Everything that he wanted, if not exactly in the way that he originally thought.
"I know someone you could learn from whom Firebending," Liwei offered.
"Look who's getting into this," Frost teased.
"If you already have a Firebending teacher in mind, I gave Odraz a saddle and loaded him up with some supplies for you three while Ishio was unconscious," the old man said cheerily, "and you can have him take you to wherever you need to go. You're the Avatar now, Ishio. You have the burden of the world on your shoulders," though he sounded as though he meant to continue, the old man stopped in mid-thought. Blood seeped through his suit and he fell to the ground.
Liwei was the first to react to the intruder. "Inspector Tang!' he called his former boss.
Tang held a gun in his shaking hands, pointed at the dying old man. "They're all dead because of you two... All of them. Because you two decided to sympathize with those monsters!"
"We didn't join them! They moved on their own." Liwei had drawn his own gun, and was pointing it at Tang.
"You expect me to believe that? You go radio silent and then we're attacked! It's a set up if I've ever seen one." Tang's hands were shaking, he had lost his earlier composure. His eyes were insane, a completely different man. "I'll kill you for what you did... Your two lives for all the people in Headquarters."
"I can't let you kill us, Tang."
"Then you'll have to kill me!"
A gunshot. Tang clutched his bleeding left shoulder. Liwei held his smoking gun in his hand, and stared down his boss. The distressed man screamed at Liwei, just a general scream. "The entire world will be after your heads!" he told them before swearing and spitting. Tang knew that Liwei wouldn't hesitate to fire another shot, and so he grit his teeth and ran away.
Before they could react to how sudden, random, and out of place the assault was, the three hurried over to see how the old man was doing. He was holding his side, blood flowing through his fingertips.
"I looked for you... For ten years..." he said, struggling to get the words out. "My daughter... A bender... Was taken... Please... Find her... Make a world... Where she can bend..."
"Hold on, old man!" Ishio tried to keep the man alive.
"I'm finished... But you... Are not... Leave... Republic City... Not.... Safe..." The old man stopped before completing his sentence, dead. But the message was loud and clear for the teenagers.
Republic City was the most dangerous place they could be. It was the center of the criminal bending world and the police world, both of whom wanted Ishio and company dead. They had all been forcefully dragged into this world, and they all knew that the others weren't particularly fond of the turn of events. Ishio was only a second year who wanted to be a bender. Frost was still in shock about her form of livelihood vanishing. And Liwei had just shot his boss. Even though they had safe lives before, they were outlaws now. Not wanted by any, save a few like the old man who wanted a world of peace. If nothing else, Ishio would strive to save the old man's daughter. So that he wouldn't have died in vain.
"Liwei," Ishio began, not turning away from the old man's body, "you said you knew someone who could teach me Firebending?"
Liwei blinked in shock, having forgotten that he said that himself. It took him a moment, but he nodded and said, "Yeah. The Corsair. He travels around the Fire Nation a lot, and so he'll be hard to find."
"If he's hard to find, how do you suggest we find him?" Frost inquired skeptically. Right now, she still didn't understand why she had to tag along.
"Follow the wanted posters." he replied in a matter-of-fact manner.
Ishio sighed at the explanation, but knew that the only reasonable thing for them to do was to track down this Corsair person and try to figure get him to teach Ishio how to Firebend. Odraz was already loaded with supplies: clothing for all three of them, sleeping bags, food, Ishio was baffled out how much the old man had planned in advance. And curious as to how the old man knew that there would be three of them and what their clothing sizes were.
Regardless of how or why, Ishio climbed onto Odraz and said to the others, "The sooner we leave, the sooner we save the world."
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