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Book 1: Blood
Chapter 5: First Contact
"She not only escaped..." The Ice Man gripped the desk in Susanowo's office. "She also knocked two of the strongest Bloodbenders we have unconscious and dropped them at our, I mean your, doorstep!"
Susanowo smirked as ice began to form on the desk. "Calm yourself, Kenshin; we just need to up our game. I will send two of the others and...rectify your mistake."
"But...I thought that—!"
The Spirit of Tempests held up his hand. "I have trained them myself. They were given the Blood Seal at birth, as I required, and they are ready."
Kenshin, the Ice Man, raised an eyebrow. "So...we send two of them? Why not all?"
"Because I don't like putting all of my Pai Sho tiles out for all to see."
"You just let him go!?" Shen moved in front of the Avatar as they entered their hotel room. "You could've killed him! Here and now. You could've ended this chapter of our little journey and been done with it!"
Argho grimaced. "No, I couldn't. The time wasn't right."
"What do you mean?! He was—!"
"I don't make a habit of arguing with my past lives, Shen. Aang told me just as I struck that I could not do battle with Susanowo in that moment without consequences."
The Airbender's rage began to subside, but he still had many questions. "Okay...assuming that Aang was right—"
The Avatar smirked. "He usually is."
"Where do we go from here?"
"Shen, I know that you're anxious...afraid, but I promise, we will come full circle. Could you go down the hall and grab Kuan Ti; I want you both here for this."
The gaze of the young man darkened once more. "That's another thing...why are they here? They could ruin everything!"
"But they won't. I could feel it; Kuan Ti was sincere when he told me why he was here."
"And why is that?" Shen snorted.
"Ask him yourself." A smile escaped the Earthbender.
"Sure, Argho..." Shen turned to leave. "I hope that we can get this business with Susanowo over with quickly."
Moro grinned as the guards continued to buzz around the plaza, searching in vain for her. I hope Susanowo likes the present I left him.
"...I heard the Avatar actually entered the NowoCorp Tower and attacked Susanowo!"
She normally didn't pay attention to the guards' idle chatter, but something was different. "The Avatar..."
The Waterbender glanced around from her perch on the fire escape and noticed two black-clad Waterbending masters scouring along with the guards. She also noticed their features.
Bloodbenders...but something's different. Her fingers brushed her hair out of her eyes. Something's familiar...but wrong.
She had made her decision. If the Avatar was here, she would find him. As she landed feet first in the snow, her thoughts went back to her mission.
It's better than the alternative...
"So what are we doing with the Avatar?" Zhan looked to his friend. "Why are the Equalists...why are we here, Kuan Ti?"
"We're here because he would do the same. We need to bring some semblance of legitimacy back to our movement."
The other man shook his head. "Our master is dead...as much as he might want this; maybe the universe is putting us on a different path."
"You know what he went through, what we still go through. I think it's our job to make right what happened so many decades ago."
Zhan smiled. "You and he both...I'm of the mind that we try something new. But, hey, you're his successor."
"Kuan Ti," Shen leaned against the doorpost. "Argho wants to see us."
Both Equalists raised their eyebrows. "How did you—?"
The Airbender grinned. "I can be very stealthy. You should post more attentive guards. Now, like I said...the Avatar wants to see us."
Hama's Point proved to be an inviting bastion for Moro, seeing as the guards had been avoiding it all day. She knew why; no one in their right mind would want to challenge the Avatar.
Except Susanowo...apparently. What is he?
She had an answer, but it wasn't something she wanted to consider. Not yet.
Her fingers brushed against her forehead again. If I'm with the Avatar...it'll make my mission all that much easier.
The male and female Waterbenders in master robes still meandered about the plaza, but she had managed to slip past them. Now for the difficult part: finding the Avatar without drawing too much attention to herself.
She glanced at the front desk. The registry... Even across the room, what would come next was easy. Moro reached out her hand just enough and took control of the receptionist's body, silencing her before she could cry out. That's it...just take it and leave it on the front desk, and walk away.
As soon as the woman did what Moro required, she "ushered" her into the back room and gave a tiny twist of her finger, allowing her to slump to the floor, unconscious.
"What is it you want, Avatar?" Kuan Ti closed the door as he and Shen entered Argho's room. "What was that about?"
Argho sighed. "That seems to be all you and Shen have on your minds, my 'failure' to defeat Susanowo."
"It is a legitimate concern! You had—!"
"Allow me to interrupt you for a moment to ask you a question." The Earthbender wrapped his hands behind his back. "Why have you come to me? And leave nothing out; Shen needs to hear this, too."
The Equalist's jaw dropped for but a moment before he pulled himself together. "This isn't about me, this is—!"
"Tell him what you told me; then I will reciprocate. No secrets."
Kuan Ti gritted his teeth. "Susanowo caused everything to go wrong for us. He...he used Amon...Noatak...like he uses every other Bloodbender. He used him to make people fear us. My master, and those before him wanted to right that wrong and bring true equality, but that hurdle still stands in our way." His gaze bored into Shen. "Do you understand now, Airbender? Do you trust me now?"
The young man's response was terse. "Maybe."
Argho grinned and clapped his hands together. "Excellent! Now, I suppose it's my turn."
"Great, my question first; I deserve that much." Kuan Ti began pacing. "Why did you stop your attack?"
"Avatar Aang alerted me to the collateral damage that would occur if I did battle in that moment. We need to plan our attack more carefully."
The non-bender nodded. "And he told you this...when?"
"After I had delivered my blow."
Argho smiled. "My training was not...conventional. Both Aang and Korra recognized that, and Korra informed the Order of the White Lotus, before her death, that the next Avatar would be given an in-depth education in regards to the Avatar State. Once that was completed, I was trained by my past lives directly, thus my spiritual connection to them is stronger than any Avatar past. I am able to communicate with them whenever and wherever I need to."
Kuan Ti stroked the stubble on his chin, and Shen sat down. "Wait...Argho...time for my question. Just how strong is Susanowo?"
The Earthbender's countenance grew dark. "Stronger than you can possibly imagine...and the more Bloodbenders there are..."
"...the more powerful he gets. But...how did you...take his punch? If he's so strong, how did you just shrug it off?"
"Shen...you of all people, an Air Nomad, should know about the spiritual connections that a person has with their element."
The Airbender gripped the hilt of his sword. "You know that's off-limits, Argho..."
"Indeed, but you do know it, nonetheless."
Kuan Ti raised his hands. "Wait! What are you talking about? You said no secrets! I don't know anything about him!"
"But I trust him with my life. Is that good enough? I had you tell him your story so that he could trust you, and you know he needed to hear it. His is none of our concern. Not yet."
"Fine." He folded his arms. "But I don't expect to be kept in the dark forever."
"You won't be."
Argho felt it. Footsteps approaching the door, and they were footsteps that he didn't recognize.
"Look alive, gentlemen. We have company."
Two knocks sounded, and all three were ready for anything, or so they thought. Argho was the only one who knew that there wouldn't be a fight, and he opened the door.
"Avatar Argho?" The Bloodbender stood before them plain as day, her almost glowing red eyes peered into the room.
"And you are?"
"My name is Moro...and I need your help."
"She went inside the hotel, Lord Kenshin." The female Bloodbender stood alongside her male counterpart. "Should we pursue? The Avatar—"
"...is none of your concern. Find her and bring her in."
Both youths bowed. "Yes, sir."
The Ice Man's eyes narrowed. "Susanowo wants every piece in its proper place, and I intend to aid him in getting there."
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