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The premiere chapter of Book Three of
|His Dark Materials|
October 1st, 2011
Kumara rethinks her life after returning from New York.
Voices of Defeat
A calloused hand gently yet firmly shook her shoulder. No luck. Firmer this time, he quietly whispered her name, not wanting to frighten her out of her peaceful slumber.
The little girl rolled over. Her breathing hadn't changed.
"Kumara, my sweet, please wake up." the man insisted. The small girl groaned softly, still chained in the calming grasp of sleep.
"Come on sweet pea, I need you to wake up."
Kumara groaned louder this time and arose slowly. Her small fists rubbed her eyes, soon covered with eye boogers. Her eyes fully opened and gazed at the man. Her nostrils picked up a bitter smell and cringed.
"What's that smell daddy?" the little girl asked groggily.
"Don't worry about it. We need to go honey." Hubert whispered.
"I'll tell you later. Can you get your shoes on?" Hubert asked. Kumara nodded. Hubert smiled at the little girl, trying to hide the anxiety and sense of fear in his heart.
"I'm going to go get Kendrick and Mommy. I'll be right back, okay?"
Hubert left the room. As he walked through the hallway, his hands rose from his side and felt the rough brick that made up his home. Every notch, every scratch, every crack; he noticed it all as if he were in the home for the first time. Hubert's heart ached at the thought of leaving it all behind. At the end of the hallway he emerged at a door covered with a large "Stay Out!" sign.
Hubert opened the door and gazed at the ten-year-old boy. His legs stretched over the end of his childhood bed, an early sign of his all too soon journey into manhood. Hubert walked across the messy floor and grabbed his son's shoulder.
"Kendrick, wake up."
The young boy groaned loudly and turned over, facing his father.
"Dad, it's not time to get up yet." he complained, eyes still closed.
"Kendrick, we need to get up."
Kendrick noticed the scent that his sister had picked up.
"What's that smell, Dad?"
"It's nothing. Please Kendrick, get up. We need to go."
At this, Kendrick hurriedly sat up and stared at his father.
"I'll tell you later. Get some shoes on and meet me in the kitchen."
Kendrick nodded and slid out of bed, searching for his shoes. Hubert left the room and returned to Kumara.
"Ready?" Hubert asked, a tense smile etched sloppily on his face. Hubert was again grateful that his children still lived in innocence and could not read his worried expression.
"Yep!" she smiled, fully awake.
"Alright, come on!" he said with an excited tone, hoping she would buy it. She grabbed three of his fingers, all she could fit in her hand, and followed him to the kitchen. Already there stood a beautiful Indian woman with the look of blazing fire in her eyes.
"Where's Kendrick?" Bhati asked, worry creeping into her voice.
"Coming." he responded. Hubert looked at the clock on the stove. 5:39 a.m. The seconds seemed to pass by with the world dragging each and every one down, making it seem as if eternity were happening. Hubert's eyes continued to dart to the doorway, waiting for his son.
The clock switched to 5:40.
A thunderous boom swept through the house, the bricks, the very air around them and blasted their ears with the concussive blast. Kumara screamed and ran through the kitchen and to the front door.
"Kumara, come back!" Hubert and Bhati called. No response came from their little princess. Hubert swore and rushed to the front door.
"I'll get Kumara! Get Kendrick and get out!" he yelled and bolted through the door. The fire from the blast had caught at least 10 homes near the plant and filled the air with acrid smoke. The smell of gas still lingered in the air, giving Hubert a strong headache. The street was packed with screaming people, all running from the firestorm.
Hubert scanned the crowd. No sign of Kumara. He ran with the crowd, continually calling out "Kumara!" hoping for a response. He continued for three blocks, his heart and head aching as he inhaled breath after breath of the smoke and ash filled air. Tears began to pour down his face as he desperately pushed through the panicked mass of people.
"Kumara! Kumara, please, talk to me!"
Still no response came. He shoved his way through the crowd and stood on a nearby porch, chest heaving. He doubled over and vomited on the ground.
Hubert's head swung up instantly and searched for the voice. "Kumara!" he called out. He heard the sound of his daughter and spotted her, half a block behind him. Hubert and the crowd had passed right by her.
"I'm coming, stay right there! I'll come and get you!" Hubert called. Kumara nodded and grabbed a support post of the house she was at. Hubert pushed his way back into the crowd and fought against the flow of people. He kept his eyes on Kumara, looking at nothing else as he struggled his way through to her.
Hubert was within five feet of Kumara. He reached out his hand to her, and the world seemed to stop for that moment, his eyes intent on the face of his little princess. And then it all seemed to come rushing back at once.
A colossal blast that dwarfed the first rang out through the air. A rush of air whooshed through the crowd, knocking everyone to the dirt. Hubert clapped his hands to his ears, screaming as the heat wave blasted through the crowd. Droplets of burning petroleum fell from the sky, lighting hair and skin and clothes on fire.
The crowd surged forwards, all trying to escape the rain of fire that had descended upon them. Hubert pushed back through the crowd as hard as he could, trying to reach Kumara, hiding inside a building from the fire.
"Kumara, stay there!" Hubert screamed. Kumara nodded violently, standing in the doorway of the building. Hubert tried in vain to beat the crowd but to no avail. A rogue person collided with him, knocking them both to the ground. As Hubert tried to stand, a foot kicked his head. He collapsed to the ground, buried by the crowd as his daughter watched on.
Ashes fluttered from the dark sky above, dusting the silent streets below in a cover of eerie, gray blanket. Inside the sullen ruins of a wooden building sat a little girl, no older than six years old. She sat on the porch of a building, sobbing at the top of her lungs. All around her, charred bodies lay on the road, trampled and broken. In the distance, fires of enormous proportions arced into the sky, throwing the surroundings into a deathly orange light.
A lone man approached from the site of the explosion. He was dressed in a simple green robe that reached down to his ankles. His long, brown hair was in an elaborate braid down his back. He seemed to be surveying the area, taking in every detail from the ruined homes to the charred corpses. The man stopped and looked at the girl. She was covered in ash and her clothes were torn and ruined. The man walked up to the girl and kneeled down.
"Are you okay?" he asked in a quiet voice that sent chills down the girl's spine.
The girl nodded.
"Do you know where my daddy is?" she asked in a voice clogged by a sore throat.
"I don't. Was he on the street?"
The girl nodded and began crying again. The man reached out and pulled the girl to his shoulder.
"There there, it's okay. I'm sure we'll find him. It's okay." The man reassured her.
The girl looked up at the man.
"Can you help me find him?" she whimpered.
"Of course I can. Come with me, I'm sure we'll find him if we work together."
The man took two of the girl's fingers in his hand. The girl looked back at the fires and the ruins of her home, feeling a little better as the man led her down the street.
Seeds of Discontent
A thunderclap tore her away from the nightmares of her past. Rain pounded on the roof relentlessly, making it as if the plane were flying through a sea of pebbles. Kumara slowly opened her eyes and gazed at her setting. Kumara lay stretched out across a couch at the back of the plane. Morgan and Adam sat in two seats, asleep. Vayu sat alone near the front, gazing out a window at the raging storm. The Leader stood in the cockpit, guiding the plane through the storm.
Kumara stood up and walked up to the cockpit. The Leader glanced at her for a moment, then returning his attention to his flying. A large lightning bolt flashed ahead of them, flooding the plane with a brilliant white light. A second later, the plane shook as the sky boomed with thunder.
"Is it her?" Kumara whispered.
Another lightning bolt flashed and the rain intensified.
"I think so." The Leader affirmed.
Suddenly in front of them, a helicopter emerged from a massive storm cloud. Its rotors were painted deep purple, while the body was navy blue. Inscribed on the side were three wavy lines, two purple and one blue, stacked on top of each other. The helicopter flew full speed towards them. With a burst of smoke, they fired a missile at them.
The Leader put the plane on autopilot and stood up abruptly. He trust his hand towards the missile and clenched his fist. The metal of the missile imploded and the missile burst in a cloud of flame. The plane flew through it and faced the retreating helicopter. The Leader punched a button on the mainframe, and a machine guns fired from the wings.
The bullets impacted with the helicopter. The rotors died and the helicopter plummeted downwards. The Leader and Kumara watched as it readied to hit the turbulent ocean below. Before it could, a wave of water seemed to reach out caught the helicopter. The water froze, keeping the copter in place. The Leader and Kumara searched the ocean below and spotted it.
Twenty feet from the downed copter was an enormous cutter ship. Its sails were painted with purple and blue, almost as if they were fighting each other to be the dominant color.
"That can't really be her, can it?" Kumara wondered.
"She would be willing to come out this far to get at me." The Leader replied, seating himself back in the pilot's seat. Suddenly from the starboard edge of the ship, a blue blast of fire arced towards the plane. The Leader swerved sharply to avoid it. Adam and Morgan bolted awake and rushed to the cockpit, followed by Vayu. The Leader pushed the plane as fast as it would go. It sped forward through the clouds, shaking violently as it did so. A lightning bolt fired from the cutter ship and missed the plane by inches.
"Should we go after them?" Vayu suggested.
"No. We don't have the resources." the Leader reprimanded.
"I can't believe she's out of the colony. She never comes out." Adam said.
"That's because I never come out either." the Leader replied.
Another blue and purple helicopter zoomed into view and pelted the plane with machine guns. The Elite bolted to the floor as the cabin was hit. The Leader made the plane dive towards the ocean at a breakneck speed. The copter followed and continued firing.
"Adam, Kumara, take it out!" The Leader roared.
Adam ran towards the cabin, where a large bullet hole was present in the roof. He plunged his fingers into the hole and tore the metal apart, opening the cabin to the outside. Adam grabbed two magnets from a pocket in his robe and gave them to Kumara. She attached them to the soles of her shoes and lifted herself up through the hole. With the magnets, she stuck to the top of the plane as it flew.
The copter had reached their level, just feet above the ocean and began firing. The plane swerved upwards to avoid the bullets. Kumara launched a stream of fire as they ascended, leaving behind a trail of fire. As the copter swerved to avoid it, Kumara attacked with a bolt of lightning. She guided the lightning to where the copter would move to avoid the fire. The two collided and the copter exploded in an enormous fireball. The burning wreck plunged into the ocean, leaving nothing behind.
Kumara returned to the plane, and Adam sealed the holes left by the bullets. The Leader put the plane on autopilot again and put his arm around Kumara.
"Well done," he said, returning to the cockpit. Kumara nodded and returned to her bed, her skin crawling from the touch of the Leader. As she dove into the blessed oblivion of sleep, the feeling stayed, almost stinging with discontent.
The Leader grimaced and tore his eyes away from the writhing man below him. Through the open door rushed a seven year old Kumara, wearing an orange dress.
"What!" he roared, kicking the prisoner below him. Kumara's eyes darted to the man, and she frowned with confusion.
"What're you doing?"
"Nothing. Now what do you want?"
"I can do something! Wanna see?" she yelled, jumping up and down.
"Kumara, I really don't have the time for it right now," he said, turning his attention back to the prisoner.
"But Daddy..." she whined.
"Not right now." he repeated.
"Please, it's really cool!" she tried.
The Leader turned around and slapped Kumara as hard as he could. She yelped and fell to the ground, tears immediately flowing. The Leader turned back to the prisoner and prepared to kill him with a fire blast. Before he could, he felt a slight sting hit the back of his neck. He rubbed the back of his head, and screamed when he realized his hair was on fire.
He put the fire out immediately and turned to Kumara, standing there with a pudgy, smoking fist. She looked so determined and angry that it seemed almost comical. His mouth dropped slightly and he smiled wickedly.
"You're a firebender..." he whispered.
With a thud, the air was swept from her lungs, leaving her gasping for breath. Her chest and back ached from landing on the rough stone floor. Tears pooled in her eyes and overflowed down her cheeks to her matted, sweaty hair. She lay on the floor, her body shaking with piercing coughs. Over the sound of her pain, she heard soft footsteps coming towards her.
A pair of feet stopped near the top of her head. She looked up, tears still flowing, at the frustrated face of the Leader.
"Again." he whispered. Rage flickered on his features despite his calm tone.
"Please, I've already tried so many times," the ten-year-old girl whined, pain etched on her face.
"How else are you going to learn, Kumara? You have to be perfect."
"But I can't do it! Please, I've done everything else!" Kumara begged.
Kumara sat up slowly, wincing from the waves of pain radiating from her back. She stared in front of her at a 50 foot wall of ice. Its surface was pockmarked by holes from which water flowed in trickles down the wall. The holes stopped approximately halfway up the wall. The Leader walked to a pot standing next to the wall and bent an orb of water. Using the orb, he filled in all of the holes and covered the wall, leaving it smooth as glass.
Kumara shakily walked up to the wall and stared up its surface. The flash frozen ice radiated cold that made her teeth chatter wildly. She flexed her hands into fists, feeling a slow, growing heat from her palms. She relaxed her hands, revealing claws of fire at the end of each of her fingers. They flicked weakly, the inch long flames sputtering with every pained breath Kumara took.
Kumara jumped as high as her childhood feet could launch her and clawed at the wall. Her daggers came in contact with the wall and melted through. The flames died, leaving Kumara dangling two feet above the ground by her fingertips. Her arms shook wildly with the effort of holding her up. Slowly, she took her right hand and reignited the fire, reaching up to make more holes.
She progressed slowly up the wall using the painstaking technique. Her bare feet clawed at the wall, numb from the cold. A few minutes later, she was about a quarter of the way up the wall. She reached up, wisps of flame on her fingertips. The Leader stood a few feet away from the base of the wall, looking up at her with a blank face. Kumara slowly reached up. The flames died and she pawed at the ice. She lost her grip and fell to the ground.
Kumara screamed out and curled in a ball, sobbing as her back throbbed. The Leader walked over to her and aimed a kick to her stomach. She yelped in pain and stared at the Leader, desperation in her eyes.
"You're not focusing!" he roared.
"I'm trying!" she cried.
"Vayu!" he commanded.
"No, please! I'll do better! I promise!" Kumara begged, tears pouring down her face. The Leader walked away while Vayu took his place. He raised a wrinkled hand and made a pinching motion. Kumara clutched at her throat and choked, gasping for air. The edge of Vayu's mouth twisted in a smile as the child below him writhed. Kumara tried vainly to breath. Darkness closed in around her as she felt the suffocation take over her. Sixteen years later, Kumara awoke in her bed with a scream.
Her footsteps echoed down the still hallway, defiantly betraying her presence in the place of her brethren. As she passed, a lone man sitting in an armchair noticed her shadow. He crossed to the edge of the cell and found her, gazing into the cell. She hadn't changed a bit since he had seen her all those years ago.
Her brown hair was flawless and hung down to her shoulders. Her skin betrayed her Indian and Mexican heritage; she was pale as paper in the darkness of the hallway. Her amber eyes still blazed with the fire of her ancestry, like her father's eyes had. By the time he had come to the wall separating them, she noticed him as well.
They gazed into each other's eyes. Years ago, they had been the best of friends as children. Inseparable, with a bond that would have stretched throughout both of their lives. But now...now they were different in ways that they could never be together again. Separated by a clear glass wall that defined them both; Peter as a prisoner, Kumara as an Elite.
She smiled faintly. He did as well. Peter frowned when he noticed her eyes were brimming with tears. She placed her hand on the glass as tears began flowing down her beautiful cheeks. More than anything he longed for her touch again. To have her know that everything would be alright with her in his arms. He longed for Leah to break him out as she had done for herself so long ago. In frustration, he placed his hand on the glass and began to cry as well.
As soon as she had closed her eyes to sleep, she knew what nightmare would come to haunt her next. With a flash of light, she stood in the training arena deep beneath the prison, surrounded by the full ranks of the Enforcers. They stood in a circle around her, she in the middle. Directly in front of her stood the Leader. Behind him stood Morgan, Jordan, Vayu, and Adam, all wearing the traditional black robe of the Elite. The Leader began to circle her.
"Kneel." he commanded. Kumara did as she was told and closed her eyes. This was the day that all her pains, all her sufferings would pay off.
"Kumara, you have been selected to be inducted as the next member of the Elite, the ruling authority of the Bending Defense Agency. They are the best, the most ruthless. They do not fail. With them, you will succeed or die. There will be no exceptions. No second chances. Failures in this war mean several steps backwards in our quest for supremacy. We cannot accept this. Do you understand the terms?"
"I do." she whispered.
"Raise your right hand." She did so.
"I, Kumara." he began.
"I, Kumara." she repeated.
"Promise to uphold the standards and guidelines of the Bending Defense Agency. To accomplish every goal we set, no matter the cost. I will promise to forgo my morals and beliefs to succeed in the Agency's endeavors. I will promise to follow every order without question or hesitation, and to put my whole self in everything I do."
Kumara repeated the promise.
"Stand." he commanded. Kumara did as she was told. "Morgan," the Leader instructed. Morgan disappeared into the crowd and emerged with a frightened young man dressed in the robes of the Enforcers. Morgan shoved the man so that he fell before Kumara.
"Kill him." the Leader instructed, watching Kumara.
Kumara stared into the eyes of the man. He was a new inductee in the Enforcers, fresh from a raid on the outskirts of New York. Kumara waved her hands in an intricate circle. Lightning followed and swirled around her hand. It crackled with energy and lit the arena with flashes of black and white. In one swift one, Kumara lunged forward and dug her hand into the man's heart.
The man screamed savagely and convulsed on the ground where he knelt. Kumara dug in deeper, feeling the man's flesh dig into her fingernails. She watched him as blood vessels popped and blood flowed from his mouth. He gave one final shake and died. Kumara released him and he collapsed to the floor. She gazed at her bloody fingernails, unsure of what to feel.
"Congratulations Kumara." the Leader whispered. "You are an Elite."
Kumara bolted awake in a cold sweat, panting heavily. She rushed out of bed and ran to the bathroom. She grabbed the edges of the elaborate sink, staring into the mirror. The tracks of tears left behind from her visit to Peter were still present, outlined against her pale skin. She took a soft rag and wiped them off. Remembering her dream, she drowned her hands in soap and scrubbed vigorously. She felt several of her perfect fingernails break as she scrubbed, and eventually took them all off by biting them.
Kumara gazed at the stubby remains of her fingers. Some of them were bleeding profusely from the force of her frantic cleaning. She put this aside and walked back into her room. She suddenly felt completely exhausted, and the second she hit the bed she was asleep.
In a flash, she was back at Xylia. She watched from her eyes, but it did not feel like she had any control. She looked down and watched her palm thrust forward, bathing an attacking colonist in a wave of flame. In a charred heap, he collapsed to the ground as another took his place. Kumara spun in a circle and kicked, burning the attacker in the chest and knocking him backwards.
Kumara watched, horrified, as she slowly fought and killed every waterbender that came to oppose her. When few were left, she swung her hands outwards and made a fire whip. She ran through the colony lashing back and forth, catching the trees and ankle length grass on fire. Kumara retreated to the base of the hill and watched as the colony destroyed itself.
From the midst of the inferno came a colonist. He ran towards her with fire crawling up his back and consuming his neck and head. Kumara ran forward and grabbed the man by the chest. With an exhalation of her breath, fire swept out from her hand and drenched the man in flames. After a few seconds of the burning, she let him go and watched as he writhed on the ground as an unrecognizable wreck of ash and burns.
With a touch to her cheeks, she felt the tears that had begun falling to the burnt ground. Kumara scowled and screamed at the heavens, feeling the heat intensify as the full fury of her heart influenced the fire. The hill exploded in a massive combination of heat and flame, instantly incinerating anything that was left. The trees turned to sodden piles of toxic mush and the remaining colonists were swept away into ash.
The fire died away after a few seconds, leaving nothing but a hill of ash and ruin where the proud colony once stood. The air was silent except for the crackling of the weak fires still left. Kumara sat down and wiped the tears off her face, staring at the sullen ruin she had caused. She stood up and out of the corner of her eye, spotted a boy, no older than 12, walking around the base of the hill.
The scene changed to her standing over him as he cradled his burns. She raised her hand and vented all of her anger and guilt into this one blow. She watched as her hand thrust towards him and the fire danced across his face and neck. He screamed in agony as the fire died, and she turned around to face Leah. As she sent the signal for the Elite to come, the scene changed again.
She stood over the shaking body of her long lost father, staring at the Leader as he gave the command to kill him. Kumara hesitated, eyes flashing between her father and the Leader. Her father stirred beneath her, his face torn with pain and affection as he gazed at his daughter.
"You are who you choose to be. Survive, my daughter. Live on to fight another day." he whispered. Kumara nodded, trying to hold back the tears for fear that the Leader would see it as weakness and kill her father himself. She raised her hand and flames gathered around it. Her father sat up and attacked the Leader as she attacked her father. She watched, hopeless as the flames killed her father.
Kumara sat up and held back a scream as the image of her father, dead at her hands flashed again and again in her mind. She brought her knees up to her chest and hugged herself, tears flowing in streams as the guilt filled her heart. When she had calmed down enough to move, she stood up and thought of who she could see to lighten the burden on her soul. Only one person came to mind.
Kumara put on a simple red robe she had received when she turned 20 and left her room. The hallway was completely silent and pitch black. Kumara took a left turn and knocked on Jordan's door. A second later it dawned on her that he hadn't returned from New Orleans yet. Tenderly, she tried the door and found it unlocked. She opened it slightly and slipped inside the room.
Each of the Elite had rooms that matched their element. As Kumara's was a dark red, Jordan's was ocean blue. The room was pitch black and silent. Kumara conjured a small flame in her arms that cast shadows across the room. She walked across the room to the bed and sat down, sighing as she did so. A small, crackling sound issued from beneath the blanket.
Kumara stood up and lifted the blanket back, revealing a crumpled letter. It had her name on it in hurried handwriting. Kumara picked up the letter and tore it open.
By now, I am assuming that you have returned from the successful attack on the World Trade Center, and have come to me for advice. I'm sorry that I could not be there to help you, but I'm hoping I'll be able to in the future. By now, I have been absent on the supposed recon mission to the Rogues for three weeks. I can tell you now that this mission is a cover to hide my true intentions.
As evidenced by our argument on the night before the attacks, we are all growing discontent with the growing cruelty of the Leader. Cracks began to form that night in the hotel, and I began to hope that this would be the beginning of a new start for us. I thought maybe that we would be able to convince the Leader that his ideals were false, and that we could finally end this selfish conflict. I realize now that this is not to be.
Morgan may have promised you that he will confront the Leader about our worries, our conflicts. I can assure you now that this will never happen. Morgan has lied to us from the beginning about his hopes of confronting the Leader. He and the Leader have been intertwined in this from the beginning, and neither have any chance of budging from their current goals. Recognizing this, I have decided to take this into my own hands.
I have abandoned the Bending Defense Agency. The second I set foot in New Orleans, I led my legion to assume that I have been captured by the Mistress. They search for me now on order from the Leader, though I doubt that he has informed any of you about my disappearance. Because of your active role in our debate that night, I implore for you to join me.
I trust that after returning from the attacks, you have mixed feelings about the atrocities that were committed there, along with as a whole during your career in the BDA. I inferred that you would come to my room, hoping for something, and would be the first and only one to find this letter. I trust that you share my intentions.
If you wish to join me, meet me in New Orleans in the French Quarter on October 1st, at 11:00 p.m. In my chest at the foot of the bed, you will find a ceremonial dao sword taken from the ruins of the Nanking colony. Bring the sword, along with this letter, to prove that you wish to abandon the BDA. If you meet without them, I will have to assume that you have been sent to capture me, and will have to take drastic measures to maintain my freedom.
Be careful Kumara. If anyone notices you leaving, you will have a difficult time escaping the prison. Be wary of Vayu, he notices everything. He will be your biggest problem, unless the Leader gets involved as well. If he does, your only chance is to run. Be careful, and I hope to see you on the 1st.
Kumara dropped the letter and watched silently as it drifted to the floor. A mix of emotions overwhelmed Kumara. Fear? Possibility? Overwhelming apprehension? What was it? There was nothing to stop her from leaving...except...what? What was keeping her tied here, to the place she had been enslaved since that fateful night in San Juan?
"Stay here." Kumara instructed Peter as she headed into her room. Peter nodded and stood outside near the door. Kumara grabbed the sword off her bed and the duffle bag she had packed. She walked to the threshold of her room. She gazed back at the room, taking in every detail as if it were the first time she had set foot in the room. Without a second glance, she put up her hood and left the room.
Kumara closed the door gently. She and Peter set off down the hall, heading for the elevator when the sound of a door opening pierced the air. Kumara's eyes widened and she motioned for Peter to hide. Peter ran around the corner and out of view as a door behind Kumara opened. Kumara turned around and faced Vayu.
"May I inquire why you are up at this ghastly hour?" he questioned.
"I just needed some fresh air." Kumara lied. Vayu walked closer, eyes taking in the straps of the sword and duffel bag.
"You're lying." he whispered.
Kumara gulped quietly, staring Vayu down. "And what if I am?" she whispered with ice in her voice.
Vayu said nothing for a moment, then smiled and began to laugh. "Just messing with you Ku. No need to be angry about it, do we?" he chuckled. Kumara eased herself and laughed as well.
"I suppose not." she reasoned.
"Well," Vayu yawned. "I should be getting back to bed. Goodnight." he turned and began walking to his room.
"Goodnight." Kumara replied, turning as well. She took three steps down the hall as she felt the air begin to change. In a flash, she turned around and sent a fireball, just in time to intercept an air blade from Vayu. The two began to fight, air and fire flashing as the two dueled. Two more doors opened, and Morgan and Adam came into the hallway.
"What's going on!" Morgan yelled.
"She's a traitor!" Vayu yelled whilst attacking with an air blast.
Kumara swung her arms in a circle and sent a blast of lighting at the ceiling. The hallway shook and rumbled, and a second later the ceiling caved in, cutting Kumara and Peter off from the rest of the Elite. A shrill alarm began to sound.
"We need to get out of here!" Kumara yelled. Peter nodded and the two ran to the elevator. A tense minute later they arrived in the garage. They ran towards the nearest jeep as Enforcers began to pour into the garage. Peter moved to confront them as Kumara ran to the jeep. She jumped into the jeep and quickly hotwired it.
"Peter, come on!" Kumara ordered, beginning to drive off towards the exit tunnel. Peter ran and vaulted into the jeep, standing in the bed as Enforcers began to chase them. Kumara sped towards the tunnel as two Enforcers stood near the exit. They extended their arms towards the ceiling and then downwards. The ceiling rumbled and the tunnel sealed itself closed.
"Take the wheel!" Kumara ordered. Peter moved from the bed and switched with Kumara.
"The tunnel?" Peter asked. Kumara nodded and stood in the bed, facing the closed off tunnel. She swung her arms in large circles as tendrils of sparks followed. She stopped near her chest and pointed to the tunnel. A bolt of lightning extended from her fingers and blasted the tunnel open. The jeep sped forward and through the tunnel.
At a breakneck speed the jeep rushed forward to the outside. Kumara generated lightning again and blasted the ceiling of the tunnel. Deep cracks appeared and the tunnel began to shake.
"Faster Peter!" she yelled. The jeep burst forward as the tunnel began to collapse. The earth of the tunnel fell to the earth as the jeep emerged on the outside. Kumara and Peter sighed, relieved. Kumara looked behind her at the collapsed tunnel, at hopefully the last time she would ever have to see the accursed rock again. Just as she turned to face Peter, she noticed the tunnel as it burst open in a cloud of dust and rock. After the dust cloud settled, a solitary figure emerged from the wreckage. The Leader.
Kumara peered at the Leader as he swung his arms in a wide circle. Tendrils of lightning, large and erratic, swirled around him. The Leader pointed towards the retreating jeep. The lightning left his fingers and chased after them.
"Peter, get out!" Kumara yelled. Peter opened the door of the jeep and dove out, tumbling onto the desert floor. Kumara jumped out on a jet of fire as the lightning impacted the jeep. The vehicle exploded in a burst of fiery machinery. As she fell, Kumara swung her arms as well and fired lightning at the Leader. The Leader retaliated with his own bolt and fired. The two collided in mid air and exploded in a wave of energy.
Kumara landed next to an unconscious Peter. Other than cuts and bruises from the landing, he seemed to be okay. Suddenly, a line of earth came through the cloud of smoke left from the explosion. Peter and Kumara dove out of the way and each struck with a whip of fire. The Leader parted the smoke and grabbed both their whips, dissipating them instantly.
The Leader swung his arms towards Uluru. Large chunks of the rock face cracked from the surface and levitated towards him. He clenched his fists in the air and the rocks exploded into thousands of pieces. He thrust his arms forward towards Peter and Kumara. Kumara stared at the rock bullets coming towards her and took a step back. She brought her fists close to her chest and breathed deeply. In a rush she jumped forward and slammed her fists forward.
A colossal fire whip exploded from her hands and lashed forward. Kumara put her hands together and swung the whip back and forth, incinerating the bullets. As soon as they were all destroyed, she pulled in the whip and condensed the fire near her heart. Kumara took a deep breath and extended her arms to her sides. The fire blasted in a massive shockwave towards the Leader.
The Leader kicked the ground and a wall of earth rose up to shield him. The shockwave collided with the wall and shattered it in a cloud of dust. Out of the cloud came Kumara, flying on a jet of fire. She flew forward and kicked the Leader in the chest with firebending. The Leader blasted backwards and impacted into the rock wall of Uluru.
The Leader fell to the ground as Kumara ran up and pinned him to the ground. She leaned over the Leader and punched him as hard as she could. As her attacks intensified, firebending began to mix with her punches. The Leader's face began to burn and blister. Kumara continued to attack with one hand while with the other she gathered lightning.
With lighting swirling around her hand, she dug into his face. The Leader screamed brutally and exhaled fire. Kumara swept it away and got off of the Leader. As the Leader moaned pitifully on the ground, Kumara swung her arms again for one final lightning bolt. She brought her hands in close to her attack and set her eyes on the Leader's heart. As she began to thrust her hand forward, she caught a glimpse of her fingers, covered in blood from digging into the Leader's face. The memory of the dream flashed in her mind as the Leader's words seemed to speak out into real life.
Congratulations, Kumara. You are an Elite.
Kumara swerved and directed the lightning into the cliff face. The Leader looked up at her, shocked.
"I am not an Elite. I am who I choose to be." she spat. Kumara turned and walked away from the Leader. The Leader panted and breathed deeply. Slowly, silently he stood and ran towards Kumara, generating lightning as he ran. Just before he could fire at her at point blank range, Kumara spun and took the sword off her back. She swung and cut off the Leader's index and middle finger.
The Leader roared in pain. Kumara spun again and directed a fire blast down the length of the sword. The fire sped off the blade and blasted the Leader back to the rock face. Kumara took a deep breath and directed her energy to her right arm. She thrust her arm forward, and a thin stream of condensed energy shot out. As it collided with the rock face above the Leader, it combusted and exploded. The rock face cracked and shook. Large chunks of the cliff fell to the earth around the Leader, burying him.
Kumara spat on the ground and turned to Peter. Still unconscious, she picked him up in her arms. Kumara turned back and faced Uluru.
"You've lost." she whispered.
As the swarms of Enforcers and the rest of the Elite flooded out of the tunnel, Kumara turned her back on the BDA and flew north on a jet of fire.
- Kumara was always intended to desert the BDA because of what would happen at the World Trade Center.
- The decision to include Peter as a long lost love was only included as a split second addition when the chapter was being written.
- The author originally slated for Vayu to be killed during this chapter. However, he wanted to expand his role during the rest of the story and thus he spared him.
- The attack by the Mistress as the Elite and Leader return home was also a last minute addition.
- As Kumara was leaving the prison, the author originally intended for the Leader to ask her why she was leaving. However, this was changed when the author decided that the Leader wouldn't give Kumara a second chance if she deserted.
- Originally, the Leader announced that Jordan had gone missing in New Orleans. The author changed this to represent that the Leader only cared in his own endeavors, and not in the safety of the Elite.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Book One: Glass|
|The Message - Leah - The Glow - BDA - Gone - Uluru - Revealed - The Colonies - Brethren - The Survivors - Joel's Old Friend - Alice Springs - School - Sierra - Discovery - Bracken - Visiting the Past - Goodbyes - Escape Part 1: Shards of Glass - Escape Part 2: Confrontation|
|Book Two: Smoke|
|The Outside - Questions - Flight - The Rogues - Forewarned - Keith - The Exiles - Forfeit - Choice - Consequence - Legacy Part 1: Avatar Joel - Legacy Part 2: Avatar Aang - Open Arms - Father - Learning to Fly, Part 1: The Apprentice - Learning to Fly, Part 2: The Master - A Leap of Faith - Negotiations - Twin Towers, Part 1: Successor - Twin Towers, Part 2: The Black Plume of Smoke - Twin Towers, Part 3: The Burden of Atlas|
|Book Three: Storm|
|His Dark Materials - Wounds - Rest in Peace - Somewhere Only We Know - The Mistress - Smoke and Mirrors|