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February 21, 2014
Harmonic Divergence (One-shot)
Tears hit the ground as the cloth was pulled over his head. Ty Lee pulled her gray hair away from her wrinkled face as she cried. Sanaki wrapped her arms around her mother, sharing in her grief. Salty drops rolled down her face, as they wept together.
"He..." Ty Lee sniffed as she struggled to hold back the flood, even for a moment. "He was ready to go...but..."
"Mom..." San pulled her close.
"I know this, this sounds selfish...but we were supposed to go together..."
"If I know Dad...he'll wait for you to meet him," she replied before glancing toward the hallway. "I hate to leave you even for a second, but..." She paused to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "I have to call Kyani; he doesn't know."
Ty Lee nodded. "I know, Sweetie..."
As Sanaki turned to find the telephone, Ty Lee's lower lip began to quiver anew.
"Wait for me, Yun...please..."
The telephone shook in Kyani's hand as he stood inside the boat that was headed for the South. He gritted his teeth as San's voice came through quietly on the other end.
His eyes widened. "What? That's impossible! He wasn't—!"
Her voice shook as she spoke. "He...his condition finally got the best of him..."
"Spirits..." He ran his hands through his hair. "When did this happen?"
"Just a couple of minutes ago; Mom's a wreck. I'm...I'm not doing much better..."
Kyani stood and pressed his free hand against the wall. "I am so sorry; I should be there."
"Finish what you have to do; then...please...get here quickly."
He nodded, more to give action to his thoughts than anything. "I will, love. Be strong."
As she hung up, he let the phone drop and hang by its cord. Kyani turned and leaned his back against the wall. His shoulders began to heave as he sobbed.
"Why...why must another go?!" His lament was interrupted by a knock at the door.
"Master Kyani, we've arrived at the South." The voice paused. "It doesn't look good out there, sir."
The swordsman inhaled and pushed off of the wall, drying his tears as he moved toward the door.
Work comes first; then I can grieve.
The snow covered every inch of ground as Kyani stepped off of the boat, and the sounds of battle reached his ears at once. He sighed, and his breath left in a vapor. Tonraq's forces still fought, although last he heard, the Avatar had been captured, along with Tenzin.
He immediately noticed two soldiers running toward him; they did not look friendly.
"Stand down, citizen, and state your business here!"
Kyani glanced from one to the other. "Alright. I'm here to end this civil war."
The two Waterbenders looked at each other. "You...you're going to have to come—"
"Stand aside," the swordsman replied as he stared at the glowing pillar of light in the distance. "Today is not a day to test my patience."
One of the men brought water out of the skin at his side and held it toward Kyani. "You will come with us, or we will put you down."
In an almost inhuman flash, Kyani stepped in between the two of them. "Will you?"
Two simultaneous chops to either man's neck was enough to drop them to the snow. Kyani shook his head as he heard more footsteps rushing toward him.
"This will take longer than expected; I'm sorry, San..."
Sanaki embraced Fiora as she entered the Zhen family residence. The Fire Lady hugged her tightly as she cried.
"I am so sorry, Sanaki; I had no idea Yun was even ill."
"None of us did, except Mom. They both knew, I think, that his time had run out," San replied.
"Even still, you and your family have our deepest condolences. I'll see to it that the funeral arrangements are taken care of, courtesy of the Royal Family."
"We can't ask that of you," Ty Lee said as she walked into the main foyer, her voice still heavy with grief. "He wouldn't want it that way."
Fiora smiled sadly. "With all due respect, Yun Zhen was a member of the Fire Nation Royal Navy. He'll get a send-off worthy of that honor." She wrapped her arms around the older woman. "He was a good man, and we'll be there to honor his memory. You won't have to worry about anything; I promise."
The aged Kyoshi Warrior sighed. "I don't think I'll be able to convince you otherwise..."
The Fire Lady pursed her lips. "Please, allow us to do this much; Lu Ten and I are grateful to your husband for helping us with our parents. He gave us the courage to mend our relationship. Without him, we might have lived different lives."
Ty Lee nodded slowly. "Okay...I trust you, Fiora."
Unalaq sailed through the Spirit Portal as Korra's Airbending pushed him backward, and he soon came into contact with the cold, wet snow. He grunted as he rolled and bounced along the ground before sliding to a stop.
His breath left him in short gasps for a moment as he glanced toward the portal. He needed to get back before Korra defeated and imprisoned Vaatu. As he moved to reenter the portal, he felt a fist connect with his jaw, sending him spiraling into the snow.
He pushed himself up, only to see a cloaked man silhouetted against the light of the portal.
"Am I interrupting something, Chief Unalaq?"
The Waterbender stood slowly. "Out of my way! Destiny is not to be trifled with!"
He watched as two of the Avatar's friends exited the portal, likely to stop him from reentering.
The shadowed figure didn't turn around. "Go back and help Avatar Korra; I'll handle things on this end."
"Uh..." The Earthbending boy furrowed his brow. "Who are you, exactly?"
"I'm Tenzin's cousin," the man replied as he turned to look at them.
Kyani watched the two youths'—Mako and Bolin, if he remembered correctly—jaws drop. They nodded simultaneously and reentered the portal, at which point he turned his attention back to Unalaq.
"So," the Waterbender said as he got to his feet and brushed himself off, "You're Tenzin's cousin, are you? Going to pacify me to death? Or perhaps bumble your way to victory?"
The swordsman's eyes narrowed. "Have a care; I am not to be underestimated." He rested his hands on his still-sheathed shotos. "Stand down. There is nothing you can do to get past me."
Unalaq smirked. "I beg to differ."
He stepped forward and melted some of the snow in front of him to make water, which he then pulled up into a whip.
Kyani watched as his opponent spun and swung the water whip at his head, ducking around and lunging forward at the last moment. Unalaq's eyes widened, and he jumped backward to avoid Kyani's fists. As he did so, Unalaq released the water whip and dredged up snow that struck Kyani in the chest and knocked him to the ground.
"You can't even bend! What chance do you stand against me?"
The swordsman brushed off his tunic and unstrapped his cloak, allowing it to fall to the ground. With phenomenal speed, he rushed forward and gripped Unalaq's outstretched arm; as the Waterbender reflexively pulled back, he threw a quick punch at his ribs before letting go of his foe's hand and pushing him back with a powerful palm strike.
"I'm like no nonbender you'll ever meet," Kyani said. "Stop this idiotic scheme, or I will put you down. Trust me; this is not a day to make me angry."
Thus began a dance. Unalaq flipped and brought snow around to meet Kyani as he advanced, but the nonbender jumped over the attack and landed behind Unalaq. Before the Waterbender could turn around, Kyani planted an elbow in his left kidney, followed by a swift snap-kick to the side of his head.
The Chief of the Northern Water Tribe fell sideways into the snow, and his left ear rang from the force of the kick. He could feel blood trickle down his cheek.
"I'll say it once more: Stand down," Kyani said as he paced around Unalaq's fallen form.
"I...am every bit your better..." The Waterbender stood and shook his head to clear the fog. "You've no idea the powers I command!"
"What, you mean like 'commanding' Vaatu's spirit minions? Or perhaps you mean nearly destroying the soul of my little cousin?" When Unalaq's eyes widened, Kyani nodded. "Oh, yes. I heard about your attempt on Jinora's very spirit, and I will not allow another member of my family to be butchered by some low-life thug!" His hands gripped the hilts of both shotos.
The Waterbender gritted his teeth and brought up another water whip, wincing as a knot began to form in his bruised kidney. "Thug? You speak to a man who walks among the spirits!"
Kyani smirked. "You are a man who destroyed a forest for the spirits, and who has the audacity to claim that he is in tune with those same spirits. A man who would sacrifice any member of his family to attain—"
"Balance!" Unalaq cried. "I seek true balance, you useless idiot!"
Two more water whips came up from behind him and merged with the first. They began to twirl and formed a water drill. He launched it toward Kyani, who waited until it was a mere foot away to twist to the side and lunge forward; the distinctive sound of his shotos leaving their sheaths rang out. In an instant, he was at the Waterbender's throat; the drill had buried itself harmlessly in the ground behind him.
"You know not what Vaatu is," Kyani whispered. "I've studied the spirits for quite a few years; he is not balance, but chaos incarnate!"
"His chaos is balance, compared to the Avatar," Unalaq replied, swallowing shortly afterward while eyeing the blade at his throat. "The Avatar is an abomination that is against the very nature of balance."
"And what have you to back this assertion, Vaatu's word? Are you dense?" Kyani took a step backward. "Or are you just that power-hungry?"
The Northern Chief pulled snow up and froze it into an ice spike, rushing toward the swordsman. "I am better than any of you!"
Before he even thrust his arm forward to stab at the nonbender, Kyani struck him with the hilt of his blade. Unalaq collapsed into the snow once more as stars formed at the edges of his vision.
"You're fast, Unalaq; I'll grant you that. Unfortunately, you might've even stood a chance against my father...maybe. At any rate, I've watched good men and women come and go, and I will likely see many more do the same." Kyani stood over him. "As you nurture that concussion, think on this: I have lost my father, my mother, Toph Bei Fong, Avatar Aang, and now my father-in-law has past. All of them are worth more than you will ever be. Each and every one of them was and is better than you."
As Unalaq struggled to stand, Kyani gripped his tunic and lifted him into the air with one hand, while his unused shoto lay in the snow.
"Understand this; I will only give you one more chance to surrender. If you refuse, I will kill you."
Kyani heard two sets of footsteps hit the snow behind him. He dropped Unalaq and rolled as two water whips hit where he'd just stood.
Unalaq frowned and got to his feet. "Keep him busy!"
The swordsman glanced at his attackers and shook his head. "Your own flesh and blood...spirits, you really are that heartless." He stared at Desna and Eska as they readied themselves. "He's left you to die in his place. Some father you have; I've known men who would die for their children."
The twins lunged at him, but Kyani vaulted over them and quickly threw one of his shotos at Unalaq, who was almost to the portal. The blade sunk into his right thigh, and the Waterbender cried out and fell, feet from the portal.
"Father!" Desna and Eska cried out simultaneously as Kyani walked slowly toward him and kicked his remaining shoto out of the snow.
"You disappoint me, you coward," he said as Unalaq tried to pull himself to the portal. Kyani heard the twins run toward him again, and he raised his blade in their direction. "Do not interfere. I will not take the lives of children, but I will put you out of commission if you insist on attacking me."
Unalaq grunted as he pulled at the blade in his leg. "Don't listen! Fight him; I must get to Vaatu!"
"I would give my life for my children, Unalaq, as any good father is willing to do. You would sacrifice them on the altar of convenience; you are only concerned with a power you don't understand."
Kyani gripped the hood of Unalaq's robe and lifted him up, and as the Waterbender cried out from the pain, he stabbed the other shoto through his chest.
Desna and Eska ran toward their father as Kyani dropped him to the snow and retrieved his swords. As Unalaq coughed and sputtered, he shook head and flung the blood from his blades onto the snow.
"You were a prodigy, and you wasted it."
"I...was...to be...the new...Avata..."
Kyani didn't stay to hear what he was going to say; he just entered the Spirit Portal.
Tenzin, Zheng, and Jinora watched from a distance as Korra corralled Vaatu. What happened next came as a surprise. They saw Vaatu's form begin to glow before exploding in a violent light.
Tenzin's eyes widened. "Korra...she destroyed Vaatu. Why?"
The Mad Genius shrugged. "Eh...she probably thought it was a good idea. He was creepy; I'm good with it."
"That's the thing, Uncle Zheng," Jinora replied, "It might not be."
The older of the two Airbenders sighed. "I guess we'll find out."
"That pessimism doesn't suit you, Tenzin," Kyani said with a sad smile as he walked through the portal. "Pity."
Zheng grinned. "Heeey! Look who it is! I haven't seen you in, what, a couple of years?"
"Is that a statement or a question, General?" Kyani asked. "Months, actually, to answer either way."
Tenzin wrapped his arms around his cousin. "It's been a long time, Kyani." He let go before furrowing his brow. "Not to sound rude, but what are you doing here?"
The swordsman frowned. "Let's get to the Avatar first. I'd rather get a full picture of things before I tell you how and why I'm here."
Jinora walked up to Kyani, keenly examining the shotos at his side. She gripped one of the hilts and pulled the blade up so she could get a look at the metal, causing Kyani to raise an eyebrow. "These seem to be made out of...wait...what in the world are they made from?"
"Well, little cousin, your uncle made those for me on my twenty-first birthday out of an old meteorite on the island of Shu Jing."
She nodded. "I've read about that."
He chuckled as she dropped the blade back into the sheath. "To Korra, then?"
"Why did you destroy Vaatu?" Tenzin asked as they approached Korra. "You should've imprisoned him again; you have no idea what—!"
"I did what I thought was right, Tenzin," Korra replied as she glanced at each of them. "Vaatu will come back weaker next time."
Kyani scratched his head. "Can you be sure of that? What if he comes back at a time when the Avatar isn't ready? You took a risk, Avatar Korra."
Korra placed her hands on her hips. "I'm sorry...who are you?"
He bowed slightly. "My name is Kyani; I am Tenzin's stick-in-the-mud cousin."
"Stick–in-the-mud? Have you been around Tenzin lately?" Zheng asked. "He's practically got you beat, Kyani!"
"Why are you here?" Korra's eyes narrowed as she stared at Kyani.
The question was a pointed one, and it made Tenzin wince. "Now, Korra, he—"
"I couldn't even trust my family, Tenzin! My dad kept things from me, and Unalaq used me. So you can get over my asking questions."
"Well said," Kyani replied. "Would it help you to know that Unalaq is dead?"
The Avatar's eyes widened. "What?!"
"You heard me, Avatar," he said.
Korra frowned. "You didn't have to kill him; I could've handled it."
"I am inclined to agree with Korra, Kyani; she is—"
"—not the reason I came. The Order asked me to look into what was going on here, and when I discovered Unalaq's plan, I made a decision to stop him myself."
Tenzin sighed. "But to kill him...?"
Kyani smiled sadly. "I know better than to accuse you of having a weak stomach; I know what your beliefs mean to you. That's why I exist, to do what others can't. That said, I didn't come here with the intention to kill him. I merely wanted to apprehend him."
Korra's eyes narrowed. "And he didn't take that well."
The swordsman shook his head.
"Wait...couldn't you have disabled him?" Zheng asked.
When he said nothing, Tenzin exhaled. "I see...did this have anything to do with Jinora?"
"Me?" The young girl glanced back and forth. "What about me?"
Kyani nodded slowly. "I'll admit, I likely won't lose much sleep over this, Tenzin. I will not lose another family member to some power-hungry fool."
Bolin's eye twitched. "Did...uh...did we miss something?"
Zheng grew serious, a rarity for him. "No, just revisiting the past..."
Korra's frown deepened. "So, did we win, or are you guys going to keep getting on my case?"
Kyani raised an eyebrow. "Well, Tenzin, she's a lot more like you than you're probably willing to admit."
The Airbender sighed as four young heads turned his way. "Thank you, cousin."
The Avatar sighed. "Look, I've had a rough couple of weeks, but I'm sorry for snapping at you. If Tenzin trusts you, I should too."
"No," Kyani shook his head. "Discover trust for yourself. Tenzin is a good judge of character, but even he can be wrong now and again, as can anyone."
Zheng's grin returned, and he put his arms around Tenzin and Kyani's shoulders. "Enough of the heavy stuff! Let's get back to the real world and celebrate!"
The swordsman frowned. "I...should probably go first. There's a body and possibly some distraught relatives..."
"Desna and Eska," Korra said. "I'll come with you; I can handle it."
"So can I," Mako added.
"Eska's out there!?" Bolin cried.
"Jinora, you're staying—"
She shook her head immediately. "I...I can handle it, Dad."
Kyani sighed. "Onward then?"
Sanaki smiled as she watched her husband disembark the airship, and he returned the expression with a hint of sadness.
As he approached, she cringed upon hearing the first words out of his mouth. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she replied as they held each other close. "There was nothing you could do, nothing anyone could do. It was just Dad's time..."
"No, I meant about not being there. I just—"
San put a finger to his lips, and tears began to form in her eyes. She was surprised; she'd assumed she had none left. "I know what the stakes were, Kyani. Tenzin already called. He, Zheng, and Katara will be at the funeral."
Kyani gritted his teeth and gripped her shoulders, pressing his forehead against hers. "Spirits, San...when will it end? I don't want to see anyone else die!"
She shook her head. "I don't know, but we can't...can't get caught up in this. Shinji and Lian are expecting soon. Life may take loved ones away for the moment, but we have to focus on the positive or we'll go insane."
He stared into her golden eyes. "We're going to be grandparents?"
Sanaki nodded. "We are."
"Life gives and takes away..." Kyani sighed and wiped away his tears. "It's time to let the next generation take over, I guess."
"They'll do fine," San said with a smile as she also wiped the tears from her eyes. "I mean, look at us. We had so many expectations to meet, and we did fine. Now, let's go see Mom; she needs us."
The swordsman nodded. "Lead the way."
- The reason for the title is that this represents the major point where my fanon universe broke from LoK canon (obviously The Promise and The Search were broken by AaBE). Unalaq's death meant that Korra's decision ultimately changed, thus why there are no random spirits roaming around during IAE.
- I had this almost completed last week, but it would've been a bit depressing to release on Valentine's Day.
For the collective works of the author, go here.