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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Drama||PG-PG13||Positive||N/A|
"Hold still," said the doctor.
Hold still? Holding still was not an option. It was impossible. He screamed in agony once more, the jolting shock of electricity coursing through his body with the stinging, venomous fury of a thousand spider wasp bites.
"Hold still," the doctor repeated in the same, monotonous voice.
Again the pain came rushing back into his body. He was begging for it to stop, thrashing around and bellowing out as it felt like his bones were about to disintegrate.
"Hold still, damn it!" said a different voice. This one was more authoritative and commanding.
He braced himself for even more pain and let out another cry of anguish as he felt it once more.
It was a cool, crisp night in Republic City. The moon had risen, casting an enormous glow over the metropolis that set the mood just right. "No way," said Bo as he and Ai walked down the street. "There's no way you've never been penguin sledding before."
"I really never have," said Ai.
"How is it possible that someone with Water Tribe blood has never been penguin sledding? It's like a rite of passage," Bo said.
"Because I never actually lived in the Water Tribe," said Ai. "I lived in Omashu my whole life before I moved to Ba Sing Se and met these guys."
"Well, one day, we are going to have to go down to the South Pole and do some penguin sledding," Bo said.
"Sounds fun," Ai replied. "I've always wanted to try it."
"I'm so glad we're a couple now," said Bo. "The timing is just right since now we don't have to worry about any lightbenders anymore."
"Yeah, it sure has," Ai said. "Minus the nightmares, of course."
The two were suddenly distracted from each other by a startling crash a short distance away. They whipped their heads to the right to see a man dressed in orange and yellow robes sprint into a store. They recognized the man immediately. "Aang?" asked Bo. "What's he doing here?"
"It looks like something bad is going down," said Ai. "He could probably use our help."
The two waterbenders ran into the shop to assist their friend. "Aang, what's wrong?" asked Bo.
The airbender slowly turned around to face his friends and, rather than speak to them, he shot a speeding blast of air directly at them, catching off guard and sending them flying out of the store.
The two waterbenders sat up and stared, completely puzzled by what was transpiring. Too startled to even attempt getting back on their feet, they watched as their friend blew the man behind the register into the wall behind him and take off with all of the money inside, sprinting past them as he left.
and Bo watched Aang fade away into the distance until, finally, Bo broke the silence. "Should we call Toph?"
Then the sound of metal whirring became audible to them as the cops arrived – six of them to be exact.
"What do you think happened here?" asked one of them.
Toph looked down on her friends, who were still in shock. "Why don't we ask them?" she suggested. "Guys, did you see who did this?"
"It was... Aang," Ai said in total disbelief.
Back on Air Temple Island, Katara was planted on the couch in the living room, her eyes darting back and forth as she read The Republic City Gazette. However, her mind was distracted from the day's current events and focused on the knock at her door. She lifted herself off of the couch and made her way to the door. She opened it to see Toph waiting on the other side. "Toph, what's wrong?"
"Where's Aang?" Toph inquired.
"He's in the bedroom. Why? What's this about?" Katara asked.
Toph pushed her way past her friend and made her way to the couple's bedroom, followed by Bo and Ai.
"What's this about?" asked Katara.
Toph ignored her friend once more, walking into the bedroom. Katara stood silently with Ai and Bo as she waited to be filled in on what was happening. "So, how did it go with you two?" she asked.
"Uh, well, we're a couple now," said Ai.
"Oh, my gosh, that's so great! Congratulations, you guys!" Katara said, hugging Ai. "Wow, I'm so happy for you."
"Thanks," said Bo.
"So, do you guys have any idea what this is about?" asked Katara.
"I'll tell you what it's about," said Toph, reemerging from the bedroom with Aang beside her. "Twinkle Toes has some explaining to do."
"I told you I don't know what you're talking about," Aang said, defensively.
"Then why don't you guys make it clear for everyone?" asked Toph, looking at Bo and Ai.
"We saw you rob that store, Aang," said Ai.
"What?" asked Aang. "I didn't rob a store! When did you see this happen?"
"Right before we came over here," said Bo.
"That's impossible," said Aang. "Katara and I just got back from dinner not too long ago."
"Toph, you're not actually accusing Aang of a crime, are you?" Katara questioned.
"All I know is that I have several eye witnesses, including these two, who say they saw a bald guy with orange robes and an arrow on his head rob a store using airbending," said Toph.
"But that's impossible!" said Aang. "I'm the only airbender in the entire world! Guys, did you see anyone airbending?"
"Not only that. We saw your face. You airbent right at us," said Ai.
"I swear I didn't do it!" Aang insisted.
"And you're sure you haven't been possessed by any kind of crazy darkbending lady again?" Toph queried.
"I'm definitely sure," Aang replied.
Toph paused before speaking again. "Alright, so if you didn't do it, then who did? It's like you said, there's only one airbender in the world and that's you. Who else would be able to make it look like they were airbending?"
"I don't know," said Aang, a gravelly urgency now filling his voice. "But we need to find out now."
Just then another knock was heard at the door. Katara made her way over and opened the door, revealing a man in a trench coat standing on the other side. "Is Avatar Aang in there with you?" he asked.
"Yes," said Katara. "Who are you?"
"My name is Detective Pong," said the man. "I have a warrant for the arrest of Avatar Aang."
Walking through the great halls of City Hall was Qian. He couldn't help but let the corners of his mouth spread into a smile as he had just heard the news of Aang's arrest. He had been waiting for this day for so many years and it had finally arrived. The Avatar was in prison with criminal charges brought against him. He felt more and more ecstatic by the second and he made no attempt to hide how he felt. He made his way into his office and closed the door. "Job well done, my friend," he said to the man standing across the room. "Very well done indeed, Huong."
"Thank you, sir," said the man known as Huong. "To take down the Avatar is the ultimate privilege."
"Yes, indeed," said Qian. "And you have nearly done it. The Avatar has been arrested again. I just need you to do one last thing." "What is it that you require, sir?" asked Huong, maintaining his low, monotonous tone.
"I need you to murder a civilian," said Qian. "Once you've done this, everyone will think Aang is a murderer and this time his friends won't be able to save him from facing justice."
"As you wish," said Huong.
At that moment, Zhu entered the room and saw the two men standing there. He couldn't help, but crack a smile. "Wow, you were right sir," he chuckled. "He looks exactly like the Avatar. How did you do it?"
"With the best plastic surgeons money can buy," said Qian. "Not to mention my electric personality."
It took a minute for Zhu to comprehend what Qian was implying. Then it dawned on him. "You mean you used the machine on him?"
"The slippery bastard screamed so loud," Qian laughed. "He wouldn't hold still."
"How did you get him to fake airbend?" asked Zhu.
"Sorry, Zhu, but that's my little secret."
"Well, sir, I just came to tell you that, um, well, I don't know how to tell you this, but Avatar Aang has been released from prison."
Qian's demeanor instantly shifted. His teeth clenched, his eyebrows pointed downward, and his eyes lit up brightly with an intense fury that frightened Zhu. "What do you mean he's been released?!" Qian snarled.
"Chief Beifong had him released just minutes ago," Zhu elaborated.
Qian turned back to Huong and motioned towards the door. "Get out there right now! Do what I've told you to do and make sure there are witnesses around!"
"Yes, sir," said Huong. He hurriedly moved out the door and disappeared.
"Leave me, Zhu," said Qian.
Zhu did as he was told and left.
Qian paced around the room, waiting for something to happen. He continued pacing, his patience wearing thinner and thinner. "I don't know if you can hear me, but you had best show your face, do you hear me?!" he demanded.
A bright, blue flash filled up the room for an instant, causing Qian to shield his eyes. He opened them once more to see his spirit partner stand before his eyes. "You dare address Kela the Screamer that way?" she asked. "You are either very brave or very stupid, mortal."
"I don't have time to get into anything with you," Qian said. "This plan had better not fall apart."
"If this plan falls apart, it will be your fault," said Kela. "I provided your lab rat with the powers of airbending. You have simply failed to get him to kill the Avatar."
"How did you do that?" asked Qian.
"In the era before the Avatar, energybending was common knowledge. Only the most ancient of spirits can still bend people's energy."
"And you can do this whenever you please?" asked Qian.
"Of course I can. Just recently, I gave a person the power to spray fear gas at his enemies. Then after his attempt to use it failed, I revoked the power."
"You never said any of this when we made this deal."
"I did not feel it was important. And don't worry. You won't have to concern yourself with details anymore. I am ending our partnership."
"Fair enough," said Qian. "I've got everything I want. What are you going to do if Huong fails?"
"Then I will take matters into my own hands," Kela replied. In another brief, blue flash, she was gone, leaving Qian alone in his office.
"If Huong fails, this is the last time I work with spirits," Qian muttered to himself.
Meanwhile, several members of Team Avatar were all gathered in Yangchen Park, making their way through the fine, green grass. The night has passed and it was a new day.
"I can't believe they tried to lock you up like that," said Yukio. "How outrageous!"
"Mayor Qian will do anything to put me away," said Aang. "It's kind of starting to get annoying."
"It's kind of starting to become a real problem," said Katara. "Doesn't it worry you just a little bit how determined he is to take you down?"
"Katara, he's just a politician," said Aang. "He can't actually do anything to hurt me. Of all the enemies I have, he's the least of my worries."
As if out of nowhere, a gust of wind blew through the park, causing the grass and the leaves on the trees to ripple in the breeze. The gaang looked up to see a bald man wearing Air Nomad clothes flying on a glider overhead. He landed in front of a group of people and looked directly at his targets, not noticing Team Avatar standing about twenty yards away. Each of them noticed his resemblance to Aang was frighteningly uncanny.
One of the people the doppelganger was facing was obviously confused and asked him a question. "Avatar Aang, what are you doing? What is the problem?"
Without speaking, the airbender sent a spiraling funnel of air in the direction of the group, knocking them backwards and blowing them to the ground. He moved over to the helpless innocents and raised his arm to bend once again.
"Avatar Aang, what are you doing?!" asked one of them.
Before anyone could say anything, another gust of wind blew the doppelganger off his feet and sent him crashing face first into the ground.
"Saving you from this imposter," said Aang.
The doppelganger got back on his feet and glared at Aang, his glider in hand.
"Tell me who you are and why you're doing this," said Aang.
There was a pause. The civilians took this time to get back up and run away.
The pause was interrupted by the voice of the doppelganger. "My name is Huong. My mission is to kill you, Avatar Aang. I shall not rest until I complete my mission." He swiped at the Avatar and his two friends with is glider, swinging the staff as if it were some kind of mallet. What ensued was a huge gale of wind that blew all three of the heroes backwards.
Yukio projected a beam of light in Huong's direction, but the imposter dodged the attack and airbent once more at his opponents, putting a miniature tornado in their path.
As the tornado spiraled towards them, Aang raised an earth wall in the way of it, nullifying it with ease. He then raised a boulder out of the ground and chucked it at his counterpart, but Huong once again avoided being hit.
Katara stepped in front of Aang and bent a wave at Huong, nailing him in the stomach and sending him crashing to the ground. He attempted to reach for his glider, but Yukio shot a bolt of light near his hand, causing him to hesitate.
"Are you going to give up so we can talk this out?" asked Aang. "I don't know what your motivation is, but you don't have to fight us."
"Yes, I do. It's my mission. It's my purpose. I must defeat you," Huong replied. He grabbed his glider and rolled out of the way of another one of Yukio's attacks. "Defeating you is the only reason I live, the only reason I breathe."
"Why do you feel that way?" asked Aang.
Unable to grasp the meaning of Aang's question, Huong replied. "Because it is my mission."
"But why is it your mission?" asked Katara.
Again confused by the meaning of their inquiries, Huong began to grow frustrated. "Because it is my mission!"
"You don't even have a reason, do you?" asked Aang.
Utterly confused, Huong leaped at his counterpart. "I don't need a reason!"
Once more, Yukio fired on him, shooting him in the right cheek. Huong cried out in pain and dropped to the ground, clutching his face.
"Yukio, what did you do that for?" Aang queried.
"I am sorry. I thought it was necessary."
The three of them stared down on the now shivering Huong. None of them said a word as they looked on him.
"The pain. The jolting pain," he muttered. "It feels so familiar. Why?"
In the blink of an eye, a brief image filled his mind. Then another and another. They each took place in a lab. Some of the images were starting to come back to him now. "W-what did they do to me? What did they do?"
"What is he talking about?" asked Katara.
"I have no idea," said Aang.
Confused beyond all reason, Huong stood up and shouted. "What has happened to me?! Who am I?! What have they done to me?!" He twirled his glider and flew away, leaving the Avatar behind.
Qian sat in his office, awaiting Huong's return. He felt the intensity of the wind pick up as Huong glided into his office. He landed and twirled his glider shut. "What did you do to me?!"
"Whatever are you talking about?" Qian asked.
"You... you did something to me! What did you do?!"
"I made you into what you are," Qian replied. "You miserable, little thing."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Huong. "Tell me!"
"I'm afraid I don't have the time," Qian said, deviously. "He's in here! I've found the man who's been impersonating the Avatar!" he called out.
Realizing he had been betrayed, Huong opened his glider and flew out the window. He soared over the Republic City skyline, wondering where the Avatar was at this moment. He descended slightly by grasping the scar left on his face by Yukio. He knew now that he would have to leave the city. He was a wanted man now and he wouldn't be safe. Besides, he had some things to figure out.
Meanwhile, Kela gazed down upon her other two companions in the Spirit World, having just told them what to do. "Alright now, boys, you know what you must do. Avatar Aang must die. See that it happens."
For the collective works of the author, go here.