|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Drama||PG-PG13||Positive||N/A|
|Joining the Big Leagues|
About an hour had gone by ever since Team Avatar had returned from Ba Sing Se. Bo was in his house, listening to his radio as he often did. "What a game, folks! Once again the Red Dragons win with a deadly round two knockout!"
"Yes!" Bo cheered, happy that his favorite team won.
"And now before we head out, folks, I have an announcement to make. Mr. Butakha has announced that the signups for a special pro-bending tournament will commence today," said the commentator.
Curious, Bo increased the radio's volume.
"Teams will be allowed to compete in a small tournament taking place today for the chance to win 500,000 yuans and to meet their favorite pro-benders! Just sign up your teams outside the pro-bending arena!"
Without even bothering to shut off the radio, Bo leaped out of his seat and sprinted outside. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him to Rong's house. He went up to the house and knocked on the door rapidly until she opened it. "Guess what we're doing today?" he asked her.
Hesitant to ask, Rong replied. "What?"
"We're heading to the pro-bending tournament!" Bo stated.
"Oh, I don't know, Bo," Rong said. "I've never really had any interest in watching that."
"Oh, but we're not watching it," said Bo. "We're going to win it! There's a tournament today that's letting people pro-bend for a prize of 500,000 yuans and the chance to meet their favorite pro-bender!"
"500,000 yuans, eh?" Rong said.
"Yeah, and, let's be honest here, who has the guts or the power to take down two of the people who defeated the Zhimings?" Bo added.
"Well, I suppose it couldn't hurt," Rong agreed. "And we could use the money to help Toph rebuild the police headquarters!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up!" said Bo. "Uh, I was kind of thinking we could keep that for ourselves. There's this really cool bo staff I've had my eye on-"
"Oh, come on, Bo," said Rong. "You know Toph doesn't have much money to rebuild that station. This could be a really nice thing for her."
Bo stammered for several moments, trying to find a way to refute his friend, but he eventually drooped over, hanging his head and his arms, and muttered, "Fine."
"Great! So where are we going to find an earthbender?"
"Um, yeah, about that," Bo started. "You're probably not going to be real happy about this, but there's only one person who we can get to do this."
Realizing who Bo was talking about, Rong slowly inhaled, letting herself take the thought in, and then exhaled. "Okay, let's go get him," she said, uncomfortably.
Ling was sitting in his apartment, reading the latest issue of The Republic City Gazette. His eyes were narrowed as they read the words on the page. "This new device lets you contact other people from their homes by dialing a number and simply talking into the device," he read. "Yeah, right. What a load of crap," he muttered in disbelief. He then heard a knock at the door. "Who is it?" he inquired.
"It's Bo," a voice replied.
"Alright, come in," Ling said.
Bo opened the door and entered the room with Rong.
"What do you want?" Ling asked, coldly.
Bo moved over to his friend and put his arm around him. "Ling, my friend, I have a proposition for you." Ling glared at his friend, causing Bo to retract his arm. "Anyway, here's the thing. There's a pro-bending tournament today and we need three team members who can bend each element. Rong and I have already got water and fire covered, but we need an earthbender. That's where you come in."
"So you guys want me to be a part of your pro-bending team?" asked Ling.
"Look, I get that you probably don't want to do it, but here's why I think you should-"
Stunned, Rong asked Ling to repeat himself. "What?"
"I said I'm in."
"Oh, well, that was easy," Bo said, also stunned.
"How come you're being so cooperative?" Rong asked.
"What, so I have to have a reason to want to help out two of my oldest friends?" Ling asked.
Rong's eyes narrowed. She wasn't buying Ling's act. He had another motive for doing this and it likely involved her. "Alright, that's great." Ling walked out of the apartment with Rong and Bo following behind him. Making sure Ling couldn't hear, Rong whispered to Bo, "Are you buying the act?"
"Not at all," Bo replied.
Later at the arena, the team of three was in the signup line waiting for all of the other teams to register. It annoyed all three of them to have to wait in line this long. The three heroes fidgeted in their own ways as the line moved up. Ling slightly swayed back and forth, Bo whistled many different tunes, and Rong hummed whichever songs came to her head. The current one she was humming caught Ling's attention. "Hey, you're humming the Baihe Ballad," he said.
"Um, yeah, I know that," Rong replied.
"You don't even remember?" Ling said.
It took a few moments for Rong to know what Ling was talking about. "Oh! Yeah, that's the song you sang to me on our one year anniversary. How long had it been since we had moved to Republic City?"
"Five months," Ling said, quietly.
"Well, look at you two hitting it off!" Bo said.
"Shut up, Bo," Ling said, moving forward in line.
Without a clever comeback, Bo did as he was told and was quiet until they reached the front of the line. Once they finally made their way to the desk, Bo signed their names and who could bend what. "Alright, what is your team name?" asked the man behind the desk.
The three friends pondered for a moment, each of them thinking about what sounded like a good team name. "How about the Eel Hounds?" Rong suggested. "In honor of our buddy, Feng."
"No, the Ember Island team already has that name," said Bo.
"Oh! How about the Sky Bison?" said Rong. "I mean, how many other teams are going to pick that?"
"Well, we are a part of Team Avatar," said Bo. "I like it! What do you think, Ling?"
"It sounds fine," Ling agreed.
"Alright, we're the Sky Bison!" Bo declared.
The man behind the desk sighed, obviously not caring. "Alright then, Sky Bison. Go to your left and see if you qualify."
"Wait, what?" asked Bo.
"NEXT!" shouted the man.
The trio walked over to their left to see an area with three practice dummies. "Come on, I haven't got all day!" said the woman attending the practice area.
Bo and Rong rushed over to her while Ling took his time. Eventually they all reached her and she explained what they had to do. "You need to show me that you're not some second-rate benders and that you can knock down those practice dummies over there without breaking a sweat."
"Alright, no problem," Bo said confidently. He drew water from buckets that had been placed on the ground for the waterbenders and formed a water drill, striking the dummy through the center.
Next it was Ling's turn. He lifted two earth disks out of the ground and shot them at the dummy. The two disks curved, heading towards their target, and struck it in the center.
Finally, Rong threw her right fist forward and burned her practice dummy with a fire wave.
"Alright, you all pass. Go on in and get your uniforms," the woman said.
The three did so, running inside the arena. They climbed up several flights of stairs until they came to the locker rooms. "I guess this is where our uniforms are," said Bo.
"Alright, so does anyone know where to go before the match starts?" asked Rong.
"Yeah, there's this little area on the side of the platform that the players wait in," said Bo.
"Alright, I'll meet you guys there," said Rong. She went into the women's locker room while the two boys went inside the men's locker room and changed into their pro-bending gear.
"Alright, I'll see you outside, buddy," Bo said, leaving the locker room.
"See you," Ling replied, quietly. After he was finished dressing, Ling walked over to the sink to wash his hands. He rinsed them under the sink, but noticed there was no soap. He wondered if Rong was out of the women's locker room yet. He listened for the sound of a door closing. After a few moments he heard one and decided it was safe to go in. He exited the men's locker room and went into the other. He walked in and saw Rong standing there unclothed. She screamed when she saw him and both she and Ling turned away.
"What are you doing here?!" she angrily shouted.
"I thought I heard you leave!" Ling answered. "The men's locker room was out of soap!"
"Well, I'm not gone yet, so could you please get out?" Rong shouted.
"Well, it's not like I've never seen you like this before!" Ling said in defense.
Rong scoffed and quickly found a towel, covering herself with it. "Okay, you can look," she said. Ling turned back to face her. "You're lucky I'm the only one in here," said Rong.
"Sorry," Ling muttered. Neither of them spoke a word, allowing the room to fill with an awkward silence. "So, can I get some soap?" Ling asked.
"Yes, yes, just take it," said Rong.
Ling quickly went over to the sink and used the soap to wash his hands. "So, I'll just go then," said Ling. He made for the exit and went to join Bo.
Rong sighed and finished putting on her uniform.
The three teammates had all finally made it to the side area of the arena as the next ones to go on. The current match was nearly over and Bo couldn't help, but notice just how good the winning team was. One by one they knocked their opponents out of the ring and claimed victory. "The winners of this match are the Pygmy Pumas!" the announcer declared. The crowd cheered as the Pygmy Pumas were showing off.
"Wow, those guys are pretty good," said Bo.
"Whatever," said Ling, reading his pro-bending rules manual. "We'll knock 'em out."
"It looks like we're up," said Rong, putting on her helmet.
"Okay, let's do this!" Bo said, excitedly.
"Calm down, Bo," said Ling. The three of them were brought out on a moving platform as the announcer introduced them.
"Introducing the Sky Bison!" he said. The crowd cheered at the fresh team of benders as they walked into the ring. "And their opponents, the Canyon Crawlers!" The crowd cheered once more.
The referee approached the players from his platform and said, "Players, are you ready? Go!" He blew his whistle and the benders were off like that.
Ling picked up an earth disk and hurled it at the Canyon Crawlers' firebender. The firebender lashed back with a quick fire slash which Ling avoided by ducking. Meanwhile, Bo was occupied with the Canyon Crawlers' waterbender. The two were firing blasts of water left and right, attempting to hit each other. Bo managed to nail the other waterbender in the head with a quick water stream, knocking him backwards into zone two. Rong was taking a thrashing from the Canyon Crawlers' earthbender. She was practically on top of her with earth disks hitting her from all sides it felt like. She managed to knock her back into zone two as well.
Ling hurled an earth disk at the earthbender and sent her flying into zone two with her waterbending teammate. Then Ling and Bo sent each of their respective elements into the team's firebender, sending him into zone two as well.
From the radio booth, Pinglu Shinobi was narrating the events as they unfolded. "The Sky Bison get the green light to advance into Canyon Crawler territory. I don't know who these three are, but they've obviously seen their fair share of action before. They're fighting together like nothing this commentator has ever seen! Egad! The Canyon Crawlers have been knocked back into zone three! It's only a matter of time now before the Sky Bison knock them out unless they can hold on for twenty more seconds for the round to be over."
Ling and Rong targeted the fire and earthbenders on the other team and bent their respective elements at them, sending them out of the ring and into the water below. With ten seconds left on the clock, Bo was duking it out with the waterbender. The Canyon Crawler knocked Bo backwards, sending him into zone two. With five second left on the clock, Rong shot two rapid fireballs at the waterbender, sending him over the edge and into the drink.
"What a knockout, folks! The Sky Bison win, knocking the last of the Canyon Crawlers into the water just as the first round ended!" Pinglu announced.
Rong and Bo cheered and embraced each other in a quick hug. "Yes, we did it!" They both cheered. They turned to Ling, but the earthbender clearly did not want a hug so the two of them left him alone. "See, wasn't that fun, guys? The three of us together again back in action?"
"Yeah, if only Suki was here," said Rong. "Then we'd have the whole gang."
"Come on, Ling," Bo said, elbowing Ling playfully. "You know it was fun."
Ling looked over at his teammates and sighed. "Yeah, I guess it was kind of fun... in a nostalgic sort of way."
"Hey, we'll take what we can get," Rong said. She and Bo chuckled while Ling walked to the platform. The other two followed him over shortly after. The platform took them back over to the side area where each of them sat down. "So how far along is the tournament?" asked Rong.
"I've been keeping track," said Bo. "Twelve teams came in and six have been eliminated. That means there are six teams left including us."
"So I guess we'll have to wait a while for our next match," said Rong.
"Yeah, and none of us are supposed to be in here while it's not our match," said Bo.
"So where do we go?" asked Rong.
"Wherever we want, I assume," Ling said.
"Well, what is there to do around here?" asked Rong.
"I guess we won't know until we look," said Bo.
"Alright, let's go," said Rong.
The three companions exited the room as the next team was entering. Bo recognized them from earlier. "Hey, you guys are the Pygmy Pumas," he said. "That was a great match earlier. You guys were awesome!"
"Yeah, we were," said the leader. Judging by the color on his helmet, Bo guessed he was an earthbender. "You better hope you guys don't run into us later, because we're not holding back against any team we face."
As he walked away, Ling grabbed the man's hand. "I'm not sure I like the tone you're taking with my friend," he said.
"Oh, yeah, what are you going to do about it, emo boy?" the man asked.
"Well, for starters, I'll rip your head off, you pompous douchebag," Ling threatened.
"Ling, leave him alone," said Rong. "He's not worth it."
Ling complied. He and the others made for the exit. But before Rong left, she turned back to face the Pygmy Puma leader. "And you listen to me. Ling and I may not be on great terms, but he is still a better earthbender than you will ever be. Enjoy your match." She left the room, walking past Bo and Ling who heard everything. They caught up with her and walked along with her.
"Um, thanks," Ling said, softly.
"No problem," said Rong, quickly.
The three companions were on their way to compete in their next match. Whoever won this match would move on to the final match so each of the Sky Bison knew that they could not lose this. They entered the side area and moved over to the platform. The platform carried them over and the announcer introduced them again. "Introducing the Sky Bison!" he said. The crowd cheered louder this time as there were actually some fans now who had taken a liking to the team. "And their opponents!" said the announcer. "The Elephant Koi!"
The bell rang and Bo was having no problem taking down the earthbender. Rong and Ling were working on the fire and waterbenders. They pushed the Elephant Koi all the way back into zone two, advancing into their territory. In the next several moments, they had managed to push them all the way back into zone three. The Elephant Koi were amazed at how well the Sky Bison were defeating them. The firebender lashed out at Rong, but she dodged the blast and sent her over the edge. Ling and Bo did the same with the others shortly after.
"It's a knockout, folks!" Pinglu announced from the radio booth. "The Sky Bison easily defeat the Elephant Koi in a deadly round one knockout! But can they face the Pygmy Pumas?"
The three teammates looked to see the Pygmy Pumas approaching.
"Introducing the Pygmy Pumas!" said the announcer. The crowd roared in excitement. Obviously these guys had given them quite a show. "And their opponents, the Sky Bison!"
With the ding of the bell, the two teams were bending like crazy. Rong easily knocked the firebender back into zone two with just several fire blasts. However, the earthbender was not going down so easily. Ling hurled an earth disk at him, but the earthbender sent one at his opponent, knocking him down with an unexpected amount of force. During all of this, Bo was working on the waterbender. He barely dodged an water stream and thrust his arm forward, knocking the waterbender back into zone two. The timer buzzed and the referee walked into the ring and flipped a coin, deciding who would win the coin toss for the tiebreaker. It landed on the red side. "The Pygmy Pumas win the coin toss!" the ref announced. "Which element do you choose?"
"Fire," said the firebender on the team. "I want to let that prissy, little girl know I don't take too kindly to getting knocked down like that." Rong smirked at the woman and the two stepped up onto the platform. The bell rang and Rong ducked to avoid the woman's fire blast. She got back up and fired three fire blasts at her opponent, sending her over the edge of the platform.
"Round one goes to the Sky Bison!" said the announcer. "Round two!"
The teams, back in their positions, resumed bending at each other. The two firebenders were going at it, each of them dodging the other's attacks. Rong fired another blast and the woman, sending her into zone two. The water and earthbenders quickly followed. The Sky Bison advanced into Pygmy Puma's territory and continued bending. Ling whizzed a disk at the waterbender, knocking him all the way into the water. "How do you like that, pal?" Ling said. The three-on-two quickly turned into a three-on-one as the firebender was blown into the drink next. The Pygmy Puma earthbender was struggling to stay on the platform until the round was over. He eyed Rong and bent a disk at her, aiming to dislocate her shoulder. Without enough time to react, Ling jumped in front of her and was blown back along with his teammate into zone two. Bo attempted to finish his opponent off, but the earthbender was dodging all of his attacks.
"Come on, emo man!" said the earthbender. "Why don't you cut my head off?"
Ling got back up and sent two earth disks at his enemy, knocking him straight into the pool.
"The Pygmy Pumas' victory over the Komodo Rhinos earlier doesn't seem like much now, folks!" Pinglu announced from the radio booth. "The Sky Bison win with a walloping round two knockout and win the tournament!"
The three companions cheered and the crowd did along with them. "Alright! Who's the baddest unofficial pro-bending team ever? We are, that's who!" Bo declared. The three exited on the platform and saw a man with expensive looking clothes on.
"Congratulations, Sky Bison! You guys win the loot!" he said.
Bo grabbed the sack of cash from the man. "Yes!"
"Now which pro-bending team would you like to meet?" asked the man.
"I'll tell you on the way," said Bo. He and the well-dressed man walked over to the exit door and Bo looked back at his friends. "Are you guys coming?"
"No thanks, Bo," said Rong. "It was really fun, though!"
"Yeah, it was, wasn't it? Well, I'll see you guys back at my house so we can celebrate!" He and the other man then left the room.
Rong looked at Ling who wasn't even facing her. "Look, I wanted to thank you for jumping in front of me," she said.
"No problem," he said.
A moment of silence passed. Rong now felt guilty for suspecting that Ling had only agreed to do this to see her get hurt. That obviously wasn't the case. She asked a question she knew she might regret asking. "Why did you do it?"
Ling turned to face her. "What?"
"Why did you jump in front of me?"
"Call it a generous gesture."
"Towards me of all people?" Rong questioned.
"Look, just drop it."
Rong nodded. "Okay. So are you coming over to Bo's house?"
"I really don't think-"
"Oh, come on, Ling!" Rong said. "You have to join the team." She walked in front of him and smiled at her former love.
Ling inhaled sharply and then exhaled. "Fine," he complied. "But I'm not doing this for you."
"I'm not asking you too," said Rong.
The two companions left the room and set off for Bo's house without another word.
- Each of the animals the pro-bending teams are named after (excluding the Sky Bison) are tributes to five of Agent Slash's favorite Avatar episodes.
- Baihe, as in the Baihe Ballad that Rong was humming, means 'lily' in Chinese.
- The man mentioned named Butakha is Butakha, Sr., the father of Butakha from The Legend of Korra.
For the collective works of the author, go here.