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|United Purgatory: One-Shot special|
Hovering in the bright blue sky, a young pilot continued to test out their recently made aircraft. Along their new airfield, Future Industries leader Asami Sato was happily watching her associate, Hotaru, gently setting the plane down to earth with little trouble. The progress was slow, but she was sure that this new design was ready to go. After landing, Hotaru got out of the aircraft as Asami walked over to him.
"Excellent job, Hotaru," Asami congratulated.
"Thanks. Looks like the aircrafts will be ready in no time at all," Hotaru replied, patting the aircraft next to him. Afterwards, Asami wrote down the success as they both went back to the workshop. While they were, Hotaru turned to Asami.
"Miss Sato? How do you think Korra and the others are doing? We haven't heard from them in two weeks," Hotaru pointed out.
"I know we haven't. I'm sure they're still trying to handle the United Movement. I'll call them later on today."
The United Movement had been going on for a little bit, on account of what had happened to Republic City. Just two weeks ago, the giant Voronon named Taar had turned the home of millions into a deserted wasteland of ruins. Since then, President Raiko had decided to evacuate as many as he could. That evacuation had turned into a full on relocation of hundreds of people (hundreds mind you, not millions) from the city itself to other areas of the United Republic and even some parts outside of the area. Of course, finding a home for hundreds of homeless people was no easy task, a movement that needed the Earth Kingdom's support the most. Asami was one of those that lost her home in the city but made due with another minor city, called Zenshu, south of Republic City, which included the new airfield. Not all of her friends went with her, but she hoped they found somewhere to live too.
Speaking of which, the toll of the city's destruction struck some harder than others. The one that got hit the hardest was Raiko himself, who had to move to the same city Asami was in. Republic City was a city he took responsibility for as President, but his presidential roll had been taken away from him as soon as the city was destroyed. However, he was still leading the United Movement and that work, so he still had similar authority. He was glad that many people were saved, but comparing a hundred to a million wasn't too much lives brought out. With that in mind, Raiko decided to make out a special call towards those who were willing to help out the most. However, that call was made three days prior, and Raiko was getting impatient with the meeting. While he sat there in his new office in worry, his wife, Buttercup Raiko, came in to see him with some tea to sooth his nerves.
"Hi, honey," Raiko replied, as Buttercup gave him a cup.
"Any word on the meeting yet?"
"No, not yet. I know they're busy with the movement, but they should be here by now: they're not that far away."
"Now, honey, it'll be fine," Buttercup assured him, giving him a kiss on the cheek. Raiko calmed down, but only a little bit. However, as if on cue, Buttercup looked out the window beside Raiko and saw some people outside, just getting out of a Satomobile. After that, she gave a smile and started going out of the room to the front door. After a few minutes of Raiko sitting and thinking, Buttercup came back with said company. Raiko sighed and got himself together before the company got in. Lucky for him, it was who he wanted: Avatar Korra. Behind her were her friends: Bolin, Mako, and her sister, Ziyou. However, Korra looked a bit sad upon coming in, along with some of her friends, too.
"Good you could make it, Avatar," Raiko said.
"Yeah, I guess," Korra sighed. Alongside her, her twin sister Ziyou, came forward.
"Uh hey, Raiko, you're not still mad about losing the city, are you?"
"Yes, I am," Korra and Ziyou cringed a little as Raiko continued, "but, that's not why I called you here. Not exactly, anyway." They calmed down a little bit as Raiko got up from his seat, though the reason why they were called at all was still up for debate. However, they pretty much knew it involved either the United Movement or the city itself.
"So what is the issue?" Korra asked.
"Listen. I'm sure you're aware of what happened to Republic City by now. I've called on a full evacuation beforehand, but many reports kept telling me that not everyone had gotten out when that monster showed up. We assumed that they didn't make it for the past week."
"And what does that have to do with us?" Ziyou asked.
"I've tried to send some soldiers back to the city for a while now, trying to get any out, but none of them came through. Those who did say they couldn't find anyone, but Republic City is a huge place. Not only that, I've gotten this," Raiko said. After that, he pulled something out from his pocket and showed it to the team. What they were shown was a letter, rolled up and everything. Mako got the letter, unrolled it, and looked it over.
Not much time left, please send help!
The message was short and a bit of chicken scratch in writing, as if someone was in a hurry to write it.
"This letter just got to me yesterday by carrier hawk. One of my men said the hawk flew out of the city the day before, which means that people are still in there. I need you, and whoever you can think of, to go in there and get them out," Raiko explained.
"Seems simple enough. Don't worry, Sir, we'll be back with them before you know it," Mako assured.
Raiko sat back down in his seat, relieved.
"That's what I want to hear. Head over to the northern outpost, I'll phone Varrick so he can set you up once you arrive. Good luck, Avatar," Raiko said. After all of that was decided, they all went on out, leaving Raiko to figure things out for himself. As the group was heading back out, Bolin saw Korra still in a bit of a slump. Since the event two weeks ago, Korra had been like that, and who could blame her? The beacon of the United Republic, and Korra's main home, was destroyed thanks to Taar. And with that, she couldn't do anything about it, having to watch her home get wrecked with her unable to do anything about it. Her, the Avatar, couldn't do anything to stop Taar ... Such a result was truly a dent in her pride, to say the least. After heading out the door, Bolin decided to talk.
"Hey, Korra, you okay?" Bolin asked. Korra just sat in the passenger's seat of the car as Mako began driving off with everyone else (he got his practice after a while). Bolin and Ziyou sat in the back as they went, Korra just looked at the passing scenery of Zenshu as they continued onward. Korra's slump was effecting everyone.
"Korra, look, you're not the only one who lost their home back in Republic City, you know," Mako reminded, as he continued driving.
"Don't remind me," Korra sighed.
"It's not your fault if that's what you're thinking," Ziyou said.
"Guys, seriously, I'm supposed to keep Republic City safe, and I let it turn out like this. So many people are homeless - WE are homeless! They all had to go away because of me," Korra sighed, looking down at her feet. Bolin and Ziyou glanced at each other before Ziyou got an idea.
"Okay then, sis, let's give you the three Qs and see if you really are to blame."
"Follow me on this: Question one, did you know Taar was coming to the city?"
"Were you aware of what it could do?"
"Technically no, but -"
"Did you plan on this?"
"Then there you go. You didn't plan for any of it, so it's impossible to be your fault. Besides, it's not like we did any better," Ziyou concluded. Korra thought for a bit on that; if she didn't plan for it, knew what Taar could do, or if Taar was going to show to begin with, then she couldn't be at fault for that. Still, even if Korra wasn't at fault, she still felt like she had been hit with the biggest failure due to her inability to defeat Taar. So many people, the Air family, her closest friends, the president too, all lost their home because she couldn't stop it after promising she would. Either way she looked at it, Korra had lost her home. The only bright side was that no one was hammering in the fact to begin with. So Korra didn't say anything as they continued driving through Zenshu.
After a bit of driving, they arrived at their guided destination. The northern outpost was about a mile away from Zenshu; a lone air hanger, with a lined wired fence around the perimeter. It wasn't the same workshop Asami had, so her awareness was out of the question. Upon driving up through the main gate, the group got out of the car and headed towards the hanger. Before going inside, someone else walked out to greet them. The man in question, Varrick, went over with a grin on his optimistic face. Behind him was his expecting wife, Zhu Li, walking out as well.
"HEY, how're my favorite Avatar and pals doin'?" Varrick said, giving a playful hair fluff to Ziyou.
"Pretty good so far. Did Raiko call you up about our little trip?" Ziyou asked.
"Indeed he did, and I got everything you kids need, right this way," Varrick said, bringing them into the hanger. The air hanger looked pretty typical for one; a bit open, though the one airplane wouldn't be enough to get everyone inside. For the moment though, no one considered it just yet. In fact, the first thing on Ziyou's mind, while the others went, was Zhu Li's overblown pregnant state!
"Man, Zhu Li, you must have some family waiting in there," Ziyou pointed out, pointing to her stomach. Zhu Li smiled.
"That's right: Twins actually," Zhu Li said. Ziyou looked at Zhu Li's belly again, figuring as much for how big she was to begin with!
"Twins, eh? First it's Korra and me, than Desna and Eska, and now you. Boy, we're getting plenty of sets here," Ziyou joked. Either way, before Ziyou could continue, Bolin turned back to her while Varrick was getting something out to show the group.
"Ziyou, come check this out," Bolin said, getting Ziyou to come over to them after Varrick got his piece of equipment out. It looked like some sort of odd mouth piece, close to that of a gas mask, but with two tubes attached to a small rounded cylinder. Of course, it didn't seem familiar to anyone there, being a brand new device to begin with.
"What's that?" Bolin asked, taking the piece and looking at it.
"That, my boy, is a personal breather. All you do is breath in this baby, and you'll be having all the air you need," Varrick explained, pointing out the mouth piece on the one end. Ziyou scratched her head upon the sight of it and the explanation.
"I don't think Republic City would be in water, Varrick," Ziyou chuckled.
"Course not, it's to not breathe in that darn mist! You really think something this dinky will keep you in the water?"
"Good point," Ziyou stated. Varrick then brought out a few more for everyone else among the group. However, as Ziyou, Mako, and Korra got theirs, they ended up with one more left over in Varrick's hand. Apparently, he expected one more person to be there, and that particular girl wasn't there to take her piece and get them going. Korra remembered right away who that was supposed to be for, but she wasn't sure if she should tell her to come or not. Still ...
"Hey, I think you made an extra there, buddy," Ziyou pointed out to Varrick.
"I made sure to include everyone, I don't - hold it. You're missing a gal in your group," Varrick said, after realizing the missing women.
"Asami? That's right, hold on, you got a phone, Varrick?" Ziyou asked. Varrick easily pointed out the phone, and Korra went over to call up Asami Sato. However, Korra didn't know exactly what Asami's new number was, but getting up the number quick, Korra waited for an answer from her. At first though, no one seemed to answer. By the time it did, Korra could hear some sort of wind blowing through the other end.
"Hello, Asami? ... Asami?"
Korra didn't hear anything on the end for a little bit more, but suddenly she ended up cut off. After a bit, Korra just hung up.
"How about I just go and tell her instead, huh?" Ziyou offered.
"Oh, sure." No sooner after she said that, Ziyou nodded and darted off as fast as she could.
Ziyou continued moving at her fast, 4-legged pace for quite a while, but for her, it wouldn't last for too long. As she kept up her run, she soon began to notice the workshop where Asami was supposed to be. As she hoped, she could see Asami just coming out, with Hotaru behind her, talking to each other. However, she also noticed two other people coming out, talking with her too. As Ziyou ran towards them, Asami and Hotaru both noticed her coming over.
"Hey! Asami, Hotaru, Kai, Jinora!" Ziyou called, starting to slow down a bit.
"Oh, hi, Ziyou," Asami said, as Ziyou stopped in front of them. Ziyou tried to chill for a bit before talking, yet, seeing Kai and Jinora together was interesting to see in Asami's workshop.
"Why are you two here?" Ziyou asked, looking to Jinora.
"Hey, Ziyou. We heard of Hotaru's new plane, and we wanted to see it for ourselves," Jinora explained.
"Okay then, but anyway, I came by to tell you we're going on a mission."
"What mission?" Hotaru asked.
"A mission to Republic City!" The news got everyone a bit surprised, considering Republic City's current state, and Ziyou continued, "Raiko wanted us to get some folks out. Not sure if there's still people in there, but that's just me. You in?"
"Of course," Asami said, still surprised over hearing that they were going back into Republic City after being in Taar's mist for two weeks full. Ziyou nodded after hearing that.
"Can we help, too?" Hotaru asked, referring to himself, Jinora, and Kai. Ziyou looked at them for a little bit.
"Oh, sure, you can help, probably for the best. Meet us at the city, okay?" Ziyou suggested. Kai and Jinora nodded and began to take flight towards the city's location. If anyone was still there, they had to help as soon as they could. After that, Asami and Hotaru got in the car, as Ziyou began going on ahead, guiding them back to the others.
Sometime later, the group got themselves up and ready to go. Varrick helped them get ready to get moving by gathering up their equipment and some guide on where the best spot would be to go in. Since the city was covered in the fog, it was hard to tell how to go in and out the easiest way, without any trouble. An aerial route seemed good at first, but the group had declined that mostly because of the mist alone: try to remember which area you land in fog miles high. So, a ground route could help out the best in their case, though they kept the aerial idea for when they had to escort everyone out to be on the safe side of things. Since Bolin, Mako, and Asami grew up in the city, navigation within the area shouldn't be that much of an issue, though Varrick got them a map of the city, just to be sure. It felt a bit odd for them, going into Republic City with gear for a toxic wasteland, but they might as well be on the safe side, in case the mist did cause some sort of effect on any of them.
While they were getting things set up, Ziyou had managed to tell Asami about what they were up to, arriving back at the airfield with Asami and Hotaru driving over as well. By the time they did, the others were getting their stuff packed up and ready to go. No telling how long they would be there for, but for the time being it would have to do. Soon, the group saw Asami and Hotaru come over to them.
"Hey guys, got her," Ziyou said, heading over to the group.
"Asami, you made it," Mako said with a smile.
"Yep. Heard you all are going back to Republic City?"
"That's right. Raiko assigned us to get whoever's left out of the city to continue the movement. Pretty straightforward," Korra explained, finishing packing her supplies and putting them in the car. After explaining, Ziyou got in the car and already got her mask equipped. The sight of it made Asami and Hotaru a bit confused, not informed by Varrick about what it was just yet.
"What's that you're wearing, Ziyou?" Hotaru asked.
"This thing? Some gas mask Varrick made up, got some air-cleaning attachment or whatever. He made one more for you too, Asami," Ziyou said, holding out another one for her. Hotaru was a bit bummed out that there wasn't any extra mask for him, but he didn't try to show it to them. However, Bolin did catch it and walked over, a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, don't feel glum, Hotaru, you can help us out still."
"Sure, you can ..." Bolin tried to think a little bit on what Hotaru could do, but eventually got an idea. "You can be in charge of transport!"
"Transport? But you guys already got a ride," Hotaru pointed out, looking to the car.
"No, no, I mean transport for the other people. You're a fly boy, right? You can fly in with a carrier, get the people out, and drop them off outside of the city safely while we gather them up," Bolin said. Hotaru thought for a moment before nodding in agreement. It was a pretty smart idea for Hotaru being put charge of aerial transport for the mission. Course, they had to figure out destination at another given point.
"Okay, everyone all set?" Mako said after a bit. Everyone agreed and got into the car after that. Before they could go, Zhu Li stepped outside to see them, carrying something with her.
"Here you go: some portable radios to keep in touch," Zhu Li said. There was one for everyone in the car.
"Thanks, Zhu Li. Might wanna give one to Hotaru too," Asami suggested.
"How come? Is he going too?"
"No, I'm going to handle aerial transport: help getting the people out easier," Hotaru replied. Zhu Li nodded, understanding his role in the mission. With that, Asami took the driver's seat and started the car.
"Wish us luck," Korra said. With that, the group pulled out and started on their way, with Zhu Li and Hotaru waving goodbye. With everything checked in and good to go, the group was off on their way.
Next stop: Republic City.
Two hours of driving, from Zenshu to the city in question, was all it took for the team. The drive itself was a bit quiet, yet everyone was ready for it, regardless of the situation at hand. It was still hard to believe a place as large as Republic City would end up in the state it was, but the proof was plain as day. Eventually, they did manage to find it ... Boy, did they find it.
Around the next bend in the road, everyone in the car could see the huge city (or lack there of). It was almost like a giga bomb went off, and the smoke was still looming from the aftermath. In front of them, they could only see the huge, looming mist from the fight with the giant beast, Taar, as if Taar's ghost was haunting the area. Only view of the city from outside was the taller skyscrapers, and even they weren't very much of a sight as they would normally be. Upon the sight of the city's status, Korra could only turn away. She felt terrible seeing Republic City like this, in a state that matched that of the Fog of Lost Souls. However, Korra tried to not show it, keeping Ziyou's words in mind from earlier. Eventually, Mako stopped, looking up at the mist about a good forty yards ahead of them.
"Okay everyone, put on your masks," Mako informed. But before the others could, suddenly Bolin looked up and saw two figures flying through the sky. They quickly recognized them as Kai and Jinora, as the two landed near their car.
"There you guys are," Kai said upon landing.
"Why are you two here?" Bolin asked.
"What do you mean? We're here to help. Didn't Ziyou tell you?" Jinora asked. Korra, Mako, and Bolin turned to her, who just blushed a bit, realizing her mistake...
"Eh ... I may have forgotten to say something. Sorry," Ziyou said, slumped over in her seat.
"We'll talk later," Korra said. Then she turned to the two.
"Sorry, guys, but I dunno if you two can come with us. We're not sure what that mist can do, and we don't have enough breathers," Mako explained, showing them one of the personal breathers. While the two weren't sure what the breathers were exactly, the two tried to think of a way to help out.
"Okay then, how's this?" Kai then began to work out his airbending and soon had an air dome around his head. A rather different way of looking at it, but it was something that worked.
"Eh ... Well if you can keep it there, then I guess it works. Hop in," Korra concluded. Jinora did the same thing as they both got in the car. With that decided, with masks on, Mako began driving ahead, right through the mist...
At first, the area seemed completely empty of anything, aside of the buildings and occasional wrecked vehicles. The group continued on through the city for about an hour and saw the same result throughout the eastern area. The mist around the area gave the group not much visibility, only about ten feet around. Beyond that, it was faded out in the mist, to the point where they couldn't see anything. The destruction of Taar's rampage could be seen everywhere they drove, with wrecked debris scattered around the area. They didn't hear anything or anyone around the area, as if the city hadn't been inhabited in years. Bizarrely, the amount of spirit vines, trees, and basic spirit flora had dropped down since last time they'd been there. Since spirit flora could literally reattach and grow after seconds of being removed, the fact that the flora by that point had been depleted was troublesome. Their only guess was that the mist had something to do with it, better reason to keep on the masks (or air domes in Jinora and Kai's case). Korra actually had her eyes closed while they were going through the area; not wanting to think about where she was and what situation it was in...
"Man, can you guys see anything familiar?" Ziyou asked, looking around the place.
"Barely. Just keep an eye out for anyone in here," Mako replied, keeping his eyes on the road. The group continued through the city, car steadily going along as best they could. It was very quiet, only main sound was the tires going along the ground. While they continued, Jinora also started to look around, making sure the air dome didn't split up, but while she did, she began to sense something wasn't as it seemed to be. She began to feel a little bit uneasy ...
"... Guys? ..." Jinora said eventually, a little bit quieter than normal ...
Suddenly, before anyone could even remotely react, something fast rushed out as fast as it could right at them! It moved at high speed and quickly leaped up to Kai and Jinora! A screech emitted as it leaped, and it literally yanked Jinora out of the car and whacked Kai out of the car with its back foot during the jump. The attack was so fast, it was almost a blur. Just a huge figure of black taking Jinora out of the car and skidding across the pavement with her, jaws locked on her head! The knockback got them both to remove their air domes, exposed to the mist! The creature was tall, about as tall as they were, but with a reptile-like head, and dagger-like claws on the back feet, one of which was insanely huge.
"What the - Where did that come from?!" Ziyou gasped. Suddenly, another figure jumped out of the mist, landing on the hood of the car, and roared at them! Kai got up and blasted air at the thing attacking Jinora, enough to make it let go, and Jinora scrambled back into the car. The attacker on the hood climbed up of the front window and was about to bite Mako's head off when Korra sent it flying with another air blast, but that attacker landed on its feet. Jinora and Kai had enough time to get back in the car, and Mako floored it. Both monsters were left behind but quickly gave chase.
"Go, go, go!" Bolin said, freaked out. Mako was having trouble staying on whatever road they were, because of the amount of mist on the road, but the runners were starting to catch up to it, the pair of runners screeching and keeping pace. Mako tried to juke them and turn left down another road, but as they did, out of nowhere, another runner raced out of the mist, tackling the car from the right side. Asami was nearly killed on sight, close enough to see the runner's teeth, before Mako floored it again, causing the third runner to fall off after the car zoomed for another five yards. As it fell, its back claws dug into the back tire, making it pop! Mako started to go out of control, the runners slowing down a little bit as the car began to lose control. Mako was unable to keep the car from spinning out, and they ended up crashing into the wall of another building!
"God dangit!" Ziyou said under her breath soon after the crash. The front of the car broke the motor, as such, making it unable to start again, forcing the group to bolt out on foot. The three runners showed up again, one of them jumping on the Satomobile as all three snarled at them. One of them rushed for them, Mako in particular. Mako tried to blast fire at it, but the mist became a deadly disadvantage: the fire did not go as far as he wanted it to. The runner wasn't deterred and kept running, but Bolin whacked it away with a strong rock. Korra used her waterbending to whack all three away. The runners though didn't go very far and quickly came back after just a few seconds. Mako finally had enough and blasted lightning at all three. Only one of them got hit, the other two dodging it. However, the runner that got hit literally just shook off the normally fatal hit! ...
"Run!" Bolin said. The others started to run down the road, Bolin making a huge lava pit to split them from the runners, giving Team Avatar a head start. Team Avatar kept running as fast as they could. Soon, they began hearing the runners catching up to them, claws scraping on the ground and screeching from behind them! Desperate to get away from these things, the team managed to run into one of the buildings that hadn't crumbled down and quickly sealed the door with a chunk of earth just before the runners could get in. Everyone remained quiet as they looked through the nearby windows, trying to see if they were still outside of the building, trying to get in. Korra and the others had their backs to the wall, oddly at the window where the runner was looking through, as to not cast any shadows or be seen from within. Ziyou, Asami, and Kai, could hear the runner's breathing just a few inches above them, trying to keep as quiet as possible ... The runner moved its head in, the others able to see its yellow, glowing eyes ... Soon, after what felt like forever, the runner moved away from the window, and the group began to hear them start to move away. Only Ziyou had the guts to look outside to be sure ...
They were gone ...
Everyone relaxed immediately after realizing that, their hearts still pounding in their chests. Only some time in, and already monsters were out for their blood. At least they were safe for the moment. Only then did they realize that Kai and Jinora no longer had their domes on! ... but, nothing bad was happening. They knew some of the mist was in the room ...
"Wait a minute ... This mist isn't deadly," Kai realized after a bit. Curious, Bolin got his mask off to be sure and realized that nothing was wrong with the air. Sure, it was a bit damp, but that was about it.
"Yeah, the air's fine guys," Bolin concluded. Everyone else, realizing it, took off their masks and came to the same conclusion: the mist wasn't deadly in any way. Not acidic, not poisonous, not even uncomfortable to breathe in. Looked like the mist was the least of their problems after all.
"Well, that's one issue out of the way. What do we do now?" Ziyou asked.
"Let's rest a bit before we continue. We don't have a car, and we don't know if those ... things are still nearby," Korra concluded, glancing back outside into the mist-filled streets. Those runners were just one attack, who knew if they were still out there? By the end, they had to remain there for the time being, but they couldn't stay there forever; they had to find out if anyone else was in the city to save. If things like that were running around, then they had to find them and fast! But if they went now, how would they know where they were, if anyone? ... Suddenly, Asami got an idea.
"Jinora, you can use your spiritual projection right? See if you can find anyone else here," Asami insisted.
"Alright, I can try," Jinora said, crossing her legs and trying to relax a bit. Even with her injury from the runner, she could still calmly focus on her meditation, trying to ignore her pain a bit. Soon, Jinora began to fully concentrate, everyone else remaining quiet as Jinora finally got her spiritual projection working.
Jinora's spirit began to fly around the area as best she could, trying her best to find out any sort of human figures around the area. However, she couldn't find any sort of humans so far. In fact, she couldn't find very much of anything as she went through the city. Eventually, Jinora stopped for a moment in the air, looking around. The fog wasn't as thick where she was, but it didn't help too much in seeing anyone ...
Well, almost no one ...
Soon, she ended up back with the others, suddenly getting up in worry. Jinora immediately started to look around outside of the window.
"Jinora, what's wrong, those things aren't there anymore," Bolin said.
"That's not it, something huge is coming here, we gotta hide," Jinora said, freaked out. The news got the others on edge again, everyone trying to listen in on what she was talking about. Soon, they began to hear something coming to them. It started out small but grew more and more as Asami, Kai, Bolin, and Mako moved away from the window, while Korra, Ziyou, and Jinora hid under the window, hearing the footsteps ...
... Louder ...
... Louder ...
Every step sounded closer and closer, everyone ready for everything. They also heard the similar screeches of the runners, but they didn't sound like before. Ziyou glanced outside and saw the three again, running as fast as they could away from whatever was coming. A low moan, extremely ghostly, chilled their blood as it echoed in the empty streets...
Then came a muffled scream behind them. When Jinora turned to look, she saw that Asami, Bolin, Mako, and Kai were all gone! Shocked, Jinora was about to tell the other two, only to hear the same muffled screams before realizing they were gone too! Jinora tried to find some sort of clue to their whereabouts, but there was nothing left from any of them. Asami, Bolin, Mako, Kai, Korra, Ziyou, all gone. Jinora felt simply baffled how quickly they ended up gone, and the fact she could still hear the footsteps from outside didn't help either. Jinora didn't have time to comprehend what the heck just happened, leaving her all alone in the building. Luckily for her, she saw that the portable radio was still there on the ground—her only chance. With the footsteps getting closer, Jinora quickly grabbed the radio and tried to call in.
"Hello, come in, come in!" Jinora said urgently, trying to get a hold of the other end of it. The airbender couldn't seem to get through at first.
"Come in, do you repeat! Come in, please!" Jinora repeated.
"Hotaru in, what's wrong?"
"Thank Raava you got through. Look, we're having trouble. There's other dangers here besides the fog, we need help!" Jinora said. Before she could continue, suddenly something grabbed the back of her head, covering her mouth quickly, and pulling her away! The pull was enough to make her let go of the radio, it landing on the floor as Jinora suddenly disappeared ...
"Jinora? ... Jinora?! ..."
While just starting to come back around, Korra could feel herself being dragged along the ground. She wasn't sure what exactly happened, but, whatever got her had really took a toll on her. She couldn't moved, feeling far too weak at the moment. She also couldn't entirely feel very much as her bare skin scrapped the gravel under her, her body being dragged at a slow pace. While her legs, torso, and left arm were free, her right arm was presumably being held onto by something. The only thing that came around for the moment was her sight (even if a bit blurry), but she couldn't see anyone of her friends around her. How'd she got there, she had no clue. How she got knocked out, not much clue either. She tried to move her head to see what was dragging her, but, she couldn't move her head without it being yanked back by the dragging to begin with. Korra began to get some feeling back in her body, but, it wasn't enough to get herself free, and she knew that much. However, as movement returned, so did pain, as the feel of the rocky ground on her skin, and the sharp pain in her arm, started to come up on her. All Korra could do was grunt at the pain on her scratched limbs.
"W-Where am I? ... None of the others are here ..." Korra suddenly stopped on the ground, and fell on her back to see what was dragging her. At first, Korra was ready for an attack, but, looking up, she could see a very familiar face. She gave Korra a friendly lick on the face, grateful that she was alright.
"Na ... Naga ... How did you ..." Korra wondered, getting herself to sit up as Naga nuzzled her a little bit. The only explanation for Naga being there at all was that she must've followed them into the city when they left Zenshu. Korra hugged Naga's head, as Naga helped her up onto her back. Korra felt sore all over her body, and noticed that her arm had some deep cuts on it. Korra used her other hand to work out the mist into water, and started to heal her arm cuts, as Naga began to move off with her on her back.
"Thanks for coming for me, Naga," Korra said eventually, gently resting on Naga's back as the polar bear dog kept moving forward. There, Naga began bringing Korra to the only safety she knows...
Some ways away, another member of the group was already running about. One of them, Ziyou, was already running around the mist-infested city, trying to figure out where the heck she was, or where the others were. The little swipe-away from earlier had left her a bit disorientated, and the thick mist didn't help her figure out where she was either. All she could do was run around, and hope to have any luck. However, she didn't want to end up with those runners from earlier, or whatever that giant thing Jinora spoke of, Ziyou stuck to the rooftops of whatever building she could manage. Rushing around on her arms and legs, Ziyou tried her best to find some clue as to where she was. Eventually, she stopped upon one of the rooftops, trying to see where she was.
"Dang, can't see a thing. GUYS, WHERE ARE YOU?!" Ziyou yelled. However, her calls were left unanswered. Ziyou got up on her two feet, trying to look around some more, but, all she could see were distant buildings and thick mist all around.
"KORRA! MAKO! ANYONE!"
Still nothing. Ziyou groaned a bit before she started to go, but before she could, she suddenly heard something land on the roof behind her. She spun around fast, expecting to see one of the things going about, but, instead she saw some sort of human-like figure standing there. It was just deep enough in the mist so that it was hard to tell who it was, but, Ziyou calmed down after a bit.
"Oh, good, another person. *clears throat* hey there, don't be worried, we're here to help you out. Are there any others around here?"
The figure didn't respond to her, instead just standing there. The awkward silence didn't help Ziyou out too much.
"Uh ... Okay then, I guess not, ah hold tight, I'll just phone in and - wait ..." Only then did Ziyou realize she had no portable radio on her. So much for that.
"Oh great, hold on let's get you somewhere safer. It's not really the best place to be out here in the open."
Still no response. The silent treatment was annoying Ziyou a bit, as she began to walk over to it.
"Hey, buddy, I know things are a bit freaky, but seriously, would a little pep talk -" Before Ziyou finished, she finally saw who (or what) she was talking to. The human-sized figure barely looked like a human! The body was tan-skinned, the eyes were close to that of a beetle's eyes, and the body matched Ziyou in appearance (though the body looked like it was in some jumpsuit, A.K.A no gender parts). Ziyou just stood there at first.
"... And, I'll be on my way," Ziyou said, immediately bolting off on all fours as quickly as she could. The figure didn't move all too much, as Ziyou disappeared off the roof, as she jumped onto another roof on a nearby building. However, when she landed, Ziyou suddenly started to feel the roof begin to creek loudly under her. Suddenly, before she could continue, the weakened area collapsed under her, making her fall down into the building fast! She landed roughly on the top floor, shaking off her injury quickly before getting up to her feet. The room was empty, the furniture removed too. There wasn't as much mist within the room, so visibility wasn't as bad as outside. When Ziyou got up, she tried to regain her senses, and figure out where she ended up ... then it showed up again.
Ziyou panicked, trying to get into a battle stance in front of the figure, but, the figure suddenly got into the same stance ... and that's it. Ziyou stayed for a second, but, noticved that it just stayed in her stance, and that was all.
"Okay, what're you doing?" Ziyou asked, getting into her normal stance. However, the figure got in the exact same stance as she did. A regular copycat, apparently. Ziyou put that to the test for a bit, and stood as still as she could, moving her arm. The mimicker did the exact same thing. Ziyou then gave a kick, the mimicker copying the same move almost simultaneously.
"Okay, try this," Ziyou said. She then gave a flip in the air, and landed in a handstand. But when she looked, the mimicker ended up in the exact same position! Its body upside down, same handstand, as if competing with a mirror image! Ziyou was a bit surprised, and got back to her feet.
"... Weird ..."
With that remark, she turned, and bolted off. She didn't had time to deal with that thing: she needed to get her friends, family, and residents together to get out. It didn't help that the mimicker was following her in exact unison too. Great.
Off some ways away, Korra and Ziyou weren't the only ones that were going around. Over one of the alleyways within Republic City, near where the police station was as a matter of fact, Ziyou and the Mimicker bolted pass it along the rooftops. However, seconds later, the walls suddenly began to ripple a little bit. Soon, the walls turned to vines, and two figures fell from there onto the floor. The two were Mako and Bolin. The brothers got up right away, as the vines disappeared back in the wall. The brothers couldn't tell where they were at first, with all of the mist and the state of the city itself.
"Where are we?" Bolin said, staying by his older brother as they looked around. Mako and Bolin started moving outside, hearing something faint moving around. The two went on outside of the alleyway, out to the city streets. Still, it was a bit hard to figure out, so, Mako tried to ignite a flame in his hand. However, from the mist, it was harder to light up due to the moist air around them. Mako could only manage a small light within the palm of his hand.
"Much harder to tell, okay ... hold on ... I think we're near the police station," Mako concluded, trying to get his situation together. Bolin tried to look around too, but, couldn't tell too much.
"H-How can you tell?"
"Hm ... Yeah, I recognize this street, the Police Station's just down this way. We should see it," Mako concluded, starting to go ahead towards the station. Bolin followed close, as the two kept hearing distant, unrecognizable voices around them. The fact that they had nearly been eaten by runners, and were taken by vines didn't help their nerves either, as the supposed main building of the Police Headquarters began to show itself to them both. The entire headquarters lost its left side, its right side somehow still standing a bit. How exactly, is unclear, but, that didn't matter. On the bright side: some bearings were met, and they got some lay on the land now. As the two looked over the station, suddenly they began to hear something coming from within ...
... Crying ... An infant crying ...
How could that be? Was an infant really left behind?! Mako and Bolin couldn't just leave something like THAT alone, and did what any sane person would do: follow the sound. Further away, the baby cries stretched out quite far in the quiet area. Eventually, the running Ziyou barely picked up on the cries, the mimicker following her stopping as well. Ziyou couldn't believe her ears to the child cries within the mist. Whoever was crying needed help right away, as Ziyou started to move again towards the sound...
Meanwhile, Mako and Bolin both were already going on inside, past the main lobby, and what part of the building remained in tact. The interior was a bit stuffy, dusty, and overall just left to rot. Kind of rough to believe that just two weeks of absence would make it appear like it had been left for months. the sterile rooms going through, the crying of the child had ceased, but, the fact that there was a baby - a BABY - in a police station was a bit suspicious. Then again, from what they've got through so far, perhaps some people were there too. If that was the case, then, they've gotten lucky. Both brothers were on their guard, Mako more serious while Bolin was still nervous a bit. The crying rises up time to time, helping Mako and Bolin go on through the station. While they were going through, they were hearing something else apart from the occasional wail of the child. Down the halls, they could hear something move around fast on the floors, almost liken the runners had found them again! They didn't hear any screeches from the runners, but, it was best to not take any chances... Then they saw something move fast down the hall in front of them, almost like a blue of sorts, followed by another one behind. Suddenly, Mako and Bolin saw one of them come back, down on all fours while looking back at them. Immediately, Mako got out his flames, ready to attack, but before he could.
"HOLD, HOLD, HOLD, IT'S ME, ZIYOU!" Immediately, Mako stopped, as he and Bolin saw that it was Ziyou, ready for whatever attack would hit her ... well, all except for that mimicker, which hit into her by mistake, trying to mimic her movement. Ziyou stumbled a bit, but not damaged much. Bolin and Mako were ready to fight, but, the mimicker didn't do too much other than stand there. Eventually, the mimicker actually did something that wasn't being done, and ran off after hearing another baby cry through the air. When the mimicker went away - finally - Ziyou got up and turned to Mako and Bolin.
"Thank Raava I found you two, do you guys know where the others are?" Ziyou asked, grateful that there was someone familiar after being taken away from the group.
"No we don't. We just got here, trying to find -" Before Bolin could finish, suddenly the three heard the crying again, echoing through the hallways once more. Bolin took a second for the crying to die down. "That."
"You too? Well, what are we doing just standing here, come on!" Ziyou said, starting to go back down her hall again, with Mako and Bolin behind her. The crying continued through the darkened, stuffy hallways, the crying still evident. Ziyou mainly kept the lead, tracking the noise like she had a radar in her head. No matter how many halls she ended up going through, one cry was all it took for her to start running in the right direction again. Mako and Bolin had some trouble following her, since most of the running Ziyou did was done in her faster, four-legged style, but kept enough pace to figure out where she was going. With her twists and turns, eventually Ziyou finally slowed to a halt, almost skidding to a stop as Mako and Bolin caught up to her.
"Sshh, quiet," Ziyou said. Bolin, Mako, and Ziyou both kept quiet for about a minute, but didn't hear anything. It was as if whatever was making that noise disappeared for a bit ... After a long period of no noise, suddenly the crying came back again, getting Ziyou back into hyper drive. Mako and Bolin both tried to keep up with her again for a little bit more, until the three finally stopped by a metal door, the muffled cries heard from inside plain as day. After a little bit, Mako went to get the door, Ziyou and Bolin ready in case something jumped out of the room. While nothing did jump out, the room was fairly small, and in fact was a bathroom. A public bathroom, as of were, with a number of stalls, a full length mirror - cracked - on the wall above the elongated sink, stretching under it. At first, none of them could see anything that would make the crying wail, not a single person within the room anywhere ...
Then the crying returned ...
,.. And they saw it.
The sight of it was enough to leave them completely speechless. Ziyou, Bolin, and even Mako were left in an internally freaked out stare, looking down at what was within the moist sink. Within it was the source of the crying child wails. Within the long sink, just laying in there, was ... well ... something. Something that caught everyone off guard. It looked small, about the size of a baby, but, it had no skin, no eyes, no ears, and no nose. Its arms and legs were just small stubs, wiggling around. It almost looked like either some featherless chicken with a deformed head, or an unborn human child. The cries it made resembled that of a child perfectly. The three just stared at the crying thing in the sink, though were unsure what to do. Sure, it's creepy as heck, but it just looked so ... helpless. And in a place like this, being helpless meant a straight up death sentence. After getting his senses together, Mako got himself back together, and started to walk out, trying to ignore the childlike screams.
"Mako what're you doing?"
"Come on, let's go," Mako simply said, starting to walk again. Ziyou joined him soon enough, before she got sick of just looking at it, but Bolin didn't go at first. Again, it looked alien, but, it looked simply helpless. The little thing wriggled its arms towards Bolin, as if trying to reach him, as it cried a little bit more. It didn't take rocket science to know what the small child was trying to do.
"Guys, wait, we can't leave it here!" Bolin suddenly said, looking to Ziyou and Mako.
"You kidding me? That thing's gross!"
"Guys, it won't last very long out here, he needs someone to help!"
"Bro, first of all, that's an it, not a him. Secondly, it's not a baby, it's a ... A ... well, I don't know what it is. And third, if we do bring it along, it's going to cause more trouble for us."
"Mako, I can't believe you! If that really was a baby in there, will you two leave it alone?"
"Course not, but, it's not a baby. Now come on, let's go before anymore monsters investigate," Ziyou concluded. Mako followed her, but Bolin stood there for a bit, hearing the crying back in the restroom again. It tried to wiggle, and move a little bit, but only enough to move it by an inch, and that alone was just it sliding around on the sink. It continued to cry a bit more, as Bolin just watched it try to move ...
"It won't last alone ..."
Meanwhile, Korra was also having her own problems. No one had exactly found her yet, nor did she knew where the others ended up. It still was an enigma on how Naga had found her in the first place, but, Korra didn't want to put that into too much question. After all; she had someone familiar with her, and someone to help protect her in Republic City. Even if that was the case, Korra still had a job to do.
Even if she was no longer being dragged, and no longer having her body all limp, she still rode Naga around, looking for any sign of more people, her friends, and her sister. Despite that, she still had some rough injuries, so, the sudden wake up didn't come without some sort of injury on her. She didn't had the portable radio with her, so, calling them was a bit out of the question, to say the least. Naga kept going about as well, though making sure that there was nothing to harm herself, or Korra while going about the place. While the mist was thick, it didn't stop the scents left by whatever was around, something Naga could catch with just a small sniff of her nose. However, Naga was pretty much on her own trail, still trying to reach that safe area.
Eventually (as in after an hour since finding her), Naga finally reached an area where Korra could be safe for the moment. The area was one of the older buildings within town. In fact, it was actually Narook's Seaweed Noodlery (or at least, once was before Taar showed up). While Naga rested outside, Korra was just inside the door, using some of the water to heal her wounds on her legs, and chest. It was a painful go-through, as it turned out, but, Korra didn't care for how much it hurt her, but rather how quickly she could heal herself.
While she was healing herself, and feeling the pain that came with it, Korra felt like she had disserved this small part of pain to the turmoil Republic City had caused. Sure, Ziyou had proved that it wasn't her fault directly, but, she had a responsibility for the city. This city was her home for the longest time, where her past life had made harmony among all nations, where she had helped make history ... And now, that same place became home to monsters beyond her knowledge, and covered in mist and broken buildings. How could she let this happen to the city her past life cared for so deeply? ...
"Aang ... If you can hear me ... I'm so sorry this happened ..."
Naga could hear Korra talking to, seemingly, herself, as the Avatar just sat there in sadness. Korra had her back to the wall, and staring off into the noodlery, which looked abandoned for a long time, with parts of dust, and broken bits of the wall and ceiling scattered around the place.
"I didn't mean to let this happen ... But, Taar was just too strong ... I'm so sorry, Aang ..." Korra began to hunch over, her knees meeting her forehead, as she started to sulk some more. No tears came to her eyes, but, the feeling of dread was still there in her. For an Avatar that same the same city from three different threats within a few years, this one was a deep gash in that kind of record. If anything, it shattered it completely. Many of the other villains she faced that wanted to deal with the city were pretty close, she'd admit, but, none of them were so quickly successful as Taar did. The damage Taar did within minute would take Kuvira, Vaatu, or Amon at least days to accomplish ... As she just sat there, Naga suddenly felt something within the room with her, but rather than an aggressive growl, Naga gave a happy bark towards the area in front of her. Korra didn't pay it much mind at first, but eventually, something did end up in front of her. Manifesting in front of her, the figure looked like an Air Nomad of sorts, same original Air Nomad clothing on him, with the signature arrow mark edged on his bald forehead. However, he looked rather young, younger than Korra for that matter. Korra looked up to see the blue, spirit figure, but couldn't believe it at first ...
It was the previous Avatar: Avatar Aang. the younger Aang from the end of the Hundred Year War, to be exact. Korra didn't expect, after everything, that he will show up to her. The Avatar simply sat there, looking up at her past life, whom settled down next to her.
"I'm so sorry Aang ..." Korra repeated, unsure of what else to really say. Aang didn't say much at first, but didn't show any disproval, or even any sort of anger towards her.
"Don't be sorry, Korra. You're not the one to blame," Aang said, resting a hand on her shoulder. However, Korra moved Aang's hand away with a swat from her own.
"How can you say that? Aang, look around you! Taar destroyed Republic City in just hours, and I couldn't save it! I couldn't do anything, any now the entire city's turned into some devil's paradise because of me. Sure, I didn't plan it, but, I'm still responsible for the well-being of this place, and now look what happened to it," Korra retorted. Aang's expression didn't change too much, thoughy Korra had a number of points to it. As the Avatar, she was supposed to handle the problems of the world, and this problem she couldn't fix. Aang sighed, and turned away.
"Korra, not every Avatar can be perfect, we both know that. Besides, I know exactly how it feels to go through such a loss. How do you think I'd felt when I found out all of my people were killed? I felt completely terrible. It didn't help that me being gone caused the 100 year war either ..." That's when Korra turned to face him. Sure, she knew that Aang was the last of the airbenders for a while, but, she didn't know of him being absent in any of it.
"Right. I've been gone for 100 years of that war. I could've ended it before it started, but instead I hid away ... By the time I came back, it was too late to save my people ..."
Aang then turned to her.
"But, I never gave up on what I was supposed to do. I corrected everything, ended the war, and still strive to bring balance to the world. Korra, even if a disaster like this happens, it shouldn't blind you to your goal. And the goal now, is to find the others that are here, and help them escape."
Korra remained quiet, taking Aang's thoughts into perspective. Aang must've gone through a lot when he found out about it ...
"... I promise I'll try, Aang ..." Korra concluded. Aang nodded, and soon disappeared, as Naga then came in after watching the whole thing. The polar bear dog nudged the Avatar a bit, as Korra happily rubbed Naga's head. Korra got up after a bit. This Avatar may have made a mistake, but, she wasn't gonna mess up that time.
Meanwhile, back at the hanger, the activity by Hotaru was a bit, more or less, worrisome. It had been well over hours since he last tried to call Jinora in, but, in the end, he knew deep down that thyey were in trouble if none of them called in. Hotaru wasn't sure what to do, but, in the end decided to go in there himself, and try to find them. While he was busy getting his stuff together, Varrick ended up coming in, and caught him getting supplies together inside another small plane outside.
"What're you doing with that United Flier?" Varrick asked.
"I'm going back into Republic city."
"What?! Why're you rushing back in there for?"
"It's the others, I haven't heard a word out of them in hours, and Jinora's call was cut off. Something horrible must've happened, I can't just stand here," Hotaru explained. Hotaru got everything all set, and got into the plane, getting his helmet and goggles on. The plane he got into was still in prototype, but, Hotaru didn't care much for that kind of detail for the moment.
"Hold it you! ... You're not going in there without this," Varrick said, throwing up another portable radio, and a gas mask for him. While Hotaru put on his breather, Zhu Li came out as well, seeing Hotaru get ready.
"Hotaru? What's going on?"
"I'm heading into Republic City, something's wrong with Korra and her friends there," Hotaru explained, starting up the plane.
"Really?! What's wrong?"
"I'm not sure, but whatever it is, it cut off communication with them, so I have to go in there. I won't be long," Hotaru said. Varrick and Zhu Li watched, as Hotaru began to work the United Flier, the propellers starting to work, and soon Hotaru was flying up in the air. The couple then saw Hotaru give one more solute before he began to fly away from the air hanger. After seeing Hotaru go, Zhu Li turned to Varrick.
"Honey? Shouldn't we do something?" Zhu Li asked. Varrick then turned to his wife.
"I'll join the little rascal later, but, you wait at home, k honey?" Varrick said. Before Zhu Li could say anything, Varrick walked away to get himself set. However, Zhu Li felt a bit left out on this one. Sure, she was pregnant, but, did that mean she couldn't help?
Back within the city limits, the group was still out in numbers. Ziyou, and Mako were still going about their own way through the city, rather blindly to be honest. However, Bolin was a bit lagging behind them, yet they didn't notice until later on, after running off from the police headquarters. It was harder to tell from the mist around them, but, they knew Bolin had lagged behind quite a bit.
"Bolin, come on!" Mako yelled. Soon, Bolin caught up to them, a bit tired but fine. However, he had a noticeable bulge in the middle of his chest ...
"K, I'm here, no need to panic."
"... What's with your shirt?" Ziyou asked, looking intently at the chest bulge. Bolin got a bit worried, and tried to play it off.
"What bulge, I don't have -" Before Bolin could finish, Ziyou opened up his collar, looking down in his chest. Low and behold, the same baby thing they found back at the police headquarters poked its head out, freaking Ziyou out a ton by just looking at it. Mako and Ziyou looked to the baby thing, as Bolin had a look on his face that said he had been caught.
"Bolin, we told you to leave that behind," Mako reminded firmly, the thing not moving very much from Bolin's arms.
"Come on guys, it was so helpless, what else was I supposed to do? Look at him," Bolin said, holding the little guy up for both of them to see. the baby wriggled its little arms and legs towards them, but, Ziyou and Mako weren't too convinced. Ziyou flat out just turned away from it.
"Bolin, stop it, that's not a human child!"
"Okay, so it doesn't look normal, it's still has nobody around to help it. Besides, look at it. Isn't it just a little bit adorable?" Bolin said, snuggling it. The baby cuddled against Bolin's head too, the thing chuckling cutely. Mako and Ziyou were concern on a number of levels.
"Bolin, that thing looks like a overcooked bean," Ziyou commented.
"Hey, it has feelings too, you know!"
"Bolin! Again, that's not human. Even if it is a infant, had you even considered if this thing has any parents when you took it?"
...... Bolin looked freaked out.
"Oh man, I-I didn't think about that."
"Okay then. Now, turn around, and put that back where it came from," Mako instructed. Bolin looked to the baby in his hands. He still was very unsure if he should put it back in that sink or not. It just looked so helpless back there, and the thing simply looked so adorable ... in a weird way. Soon, Mako took the child from Bolin, and began walking away with the child in his arms.
"Mako, wait! Think about it, if he doesn't have parents, he won't last long," Bolin pointed out. Mako looked down to the bean-looking thing in his arms, as it started to snuggle up against his chest. While looking, he began to think a little bit differently on the thing. Sure, it was a bit weird looking, but, it still looked very helpless ... Eventually, Mako groaned, and gave the child back to Bolin.
"Here, take it," Mako flatly stated. Bolin took the young child back, but Ziyou wasn't at all convinced.
"The heck, Mako?! K, fine, I'll do it," Ziyou said, taking the child herself. Unlike Mako, Ziyou got a bit farther before she began to think over about the little thing. While she was holding the little guy, the baby cuddled up against her chest again. Ziyou looked down at the thing, feeling very conflicted. In the end, all she did was give the child back to Bolin. Bolin had a point, the thing was simply vulnerable, and they couldn't just ditch it back at the sink after all. Bolin was glad that Ziyou wasn't going to move the child back, and let the little guy cuddle up against his chest again. Mako and Ziyou were still a bit 50/50 with this idea, but, in the end they're going to still go with it anyhow. Besides, the possibility of it not having parents, or it even BEING human was still an option out there (even if a bit vague on the latter). So, with all that said and done, the three began going off once more into the mist, with the little baby resting its head all the while ...
Farther in, the city itself didn't appear very much better. The effects of Taar's destruction and the mist was evident practically everywhere anyone would look. By the docks, the effect of the area was deeply shown all over. Along the water's edge, other mysterious creatures aligned the shores of the once busy coastline. The creatures looked like some sort of amphibian, or scale-less crocodile. However, the tail was too short, and their mouths were very big, almost ridiculously so. There were about ten of them along the shore, resting in the moist air, one of them moving around within the group. While it was, it noticed something nearby, just laying by one of the abandoned buildings. It looked rather small, as the large amphibian walked over to it, curious. The object was a boy, just laying there on the ground in plain sight ...
The boy was Kai ...
The large beast lumbered around him for a bit, sniffing him. After a bit, it went as far as to open it gaping jaws, and try to gobble Kai up! However, one bite of him was enough to make it change its mind, as it spat him out in a huff. The catch-and-release it did was enough to wake Kai up (though a bit startled none-the-less), as the thing walked away. Kai got a good look around, but, wasn't sure where he had ended up. He was smart enough to go away from the pod of amphibians though, as he quickly bolted off away from them. Some wake-up call that was. However, the spur of energy got the rest of the pod's attention, some starting to walk over. It was not a good time for some creature to go over to him.
"Stay back!" Kai ordered, readying some airbending in case they got too close. However, the amphibians weren't deterred, as they started to walk off to him, soon feet away. A few of the larger ones got a bit too close, and Kai jumped upwards with a good airbending jump, right onto the roof. He had no time to deal with these things: he had to figure out where he was.
"Okay okay, let's see ..." Kai tried to find the portable radio, but, it wasn't on him! It must've been left behind where he last was taken away.
"HEY! ANYONE?!" Kai suddenly called, hoping for a response from one of his friends in the mist. At first, nothing seemed to come around ... Kai tried to go around some more, jumping around on the rooftops for a bit until he tried again.
"JINORA! BOLIN! MAKO! KORRA!"
Still nothing. However, his calls had not gone unanswered, as he began hearing something moving around nearby ... And moving fast! Kai couldn't tell what it was at first, but as it closed in, he began to ready himself to either fight or flight, as it grew in size. Soon, Kai was about to strike, but it moved far too quickly to get a good picture on what it was, as it blew Kai off his feet. Kai landed just fine, but the thing quickly looped around, and tried to knock him out. Kai began to jump up, and try to fly off, but, the giant thing caught up to him fast, as Kai began to rush away on the roofs. The thick mist didn't help in his struggle, as his pursuer continued after him. Kai tried to shoot out some airbending back at whatever was chasing it, but, it was of no luck, as the thing wasn't even effected by the attacks! When it tried to grab him again, Kai could only jump aside, as the beast missed him by inches. However, when he jumped aside, his leap made him jump off the roof! Kai quickly got himself to land safely, but he didn't loose the thing. Kai quickly turned, and tried shooting again, but it managed to grab him by his shoulders. Upon such, the thing quickly flew back up in the sky, Kai along for the ride. No matter how much he struggled, Kai couldn't get this winged demon to let go! While it flew, the winged demon kept going past many of the buildings, some of them nearly hitting Kai as it went, Kai unable to get himself free from the grasp. The giant beast continued flying around for what seemed like hours, but, as it went, some things on the ground saw Kai being taken away. One of those things Kai actually HOPED to had seen him fully, as he flew past...
"Is that Kai?!"
"Kai, we're coming, buddy!"
Thank Raava, they did see him: down on the ground, trying to find their own way, Ziyou, Mako, and Bolin had saw him go by, and quickly began to give chase to catch him. Ziyou caught up the best; her 4-legged style mixed with her airbending keeping great pace with whatever got a hold of Kai. Despite how fast and maneuverable they were, the thing flying seemed even faster than they were, and more maneuverable through the mist-filled city.
"Get back here!" Ziyou yelled, making one more giant leap at Kai. In desperation, though, Ziyou went higher, and bit into the beast's leg good and hard! The beast made a shriek, but, it wasn't what any of them expected. It wasn't a roar, but more of a scream, and one that was extremely recognizable. It came as such a shock, Ziyou loosened her grip just enough for the beast to whack her off, sending her hurdling off back onto the ground. Mako and Bolin caught up as best as they could, Bolin trying to be careful, but Kai was soon being taken away out of sight. Ziyou tried to catch up, but soon, found that the flying beast was soon out of sight, yet saw it just enough to see it go pass the docks, and over the water ... By that point, it was far gone as Mako and Bolin caught up with her. They had just seen the creature disappear in the mist by the time they did get Ziyou up on her feet.
"Oh crud," Ziyou groaned, trying to go off after it. But one quick look, and they quickly found those strange amphibians lining the shore, blocking their way. One of them turned, opened its gaping jaws, and nearly bit Ziyou in half before the girl fully stopped. The amphibians were completely blocking the path, and they're not going to move anytime soon ...
"Come on, we got to find some way across the bay."
Back with Kai, the poor kid couldn't see anything above, nor below them, as the bird continued to fly ahead, seemingly knowing where it was going. Kai just couldn't understand where he was going, nor with the horrifying familiar scream that it made. Honestly, he couldn't tell anything from his huge flight over the Yue bay, only seeing a little bit of the water. Not that he was extremely high up, but, the mist made it hard to see clearly, especially when flying at such a speed. Soon, Kai began to notice something form up just ahead of them both. It was hard to tell at first, but eventually, the form soon came into light: Aang's memorial! The statue still stood tall before what seemed like endless mist towards the barren sea, as it has been for nearly 75 years. The giant bird flew around it for a bit, as if letting Kai get the whole detail in, before landing nearby the main entrance to the memorial's museum (which was literally the base under the monument. Speaking of which, as Kai was being flown around, the statue seemed rather out-dated, and ill-kept. Perhaps two weeks of absence would do that. Kai was set down by the door into the museum, as Kai was moved on inside.
Amongst many of the areas in Republic City thus far, the museum was the least effected apart of the absence: most of the relics of past Avatars were still in place as they always been (though as bit dirty, but good either way). Heck, even the clock was still ticking away from outside, as if it wasn't touched at all by Taar. Considering how huge Taar was, and the damage it did, that's shocking to see. While Kai went in, the large bird soon went in as well, just small enough to go in, but, still rather big.
"This place has barely been touched, but ... why did it bring me here?" Kai thought. He didn't notice any nest, so, being fed to the bird's hungry chicks was out of the question completely. Also, the fact that the bird didn't entirely harm him other than grabbing him was also something to note ...
Then Kai saw its face for the first time in his flight.
"... Jinora ..."
Kai remained completely frozen in place: Right in front of his face was the near exact copy of Jinora's head attached to the bird-like body! The only main difference between the real Jinora and the bird was that the hair where Jinora's signature bonbon would be had grown into a ponytail, but, that was about it. The resemblance was uncanny, and looking at the feet, Kai also noticed there were human toes in between the huge talons! Before Kai could process this any further, the giant bird turned back outside, and took to the skies again, going out of sight very quickly. Kai simply looked around the museum for a bit, the entire museum quiet as ever. Kai was still trying to comprehend the face the mimicking aviary bird had of Jinora when he started to hear something moving around from within the museum. Kai wasn't sure what it was at first, and readied himself for any sort of intruder. However, before any attack was shot out, suddenly he saw what had shown up. She saw Kai from the darkness, and moved out to greet him, Kai recognizing her right away.
"Kai, you're safe!"
"Asami! It's you," Kai realized, as Asami went over to him, happy as ever.
"How did you get here?" Kai asked after Asami went over. The raven-haired girl thought for a second or so before answering the Air Nomad.
"I'm not sure. I just woke up, and here I was. How did you get here?" Asami asked.
"Well, I was more brought here, actually. Are any of the others with you?"
"No, I'm not. I assume you're alone too?"
"Well, I did see Ziyou, Bolin and Mako, but they couldn't save me in time. They're still stuck back at the docks last time I saw them," Kai explained, looking back towards the entrance to outside. He couldn't really see too much of the outside beyond a couple of yard from the door, but, that was about it. Asami sighed sadly, as she too looked out onto the landscape ahead of her. Although they were on an island, she knew right out that the city towards the shore looked devastated because of what Taar had done. However, since seeing those visions (and nearly getting killed from the fall), Asami had been ailing over what Taar was really there to do. Was it really there just to destroy the city, or, to tell her about her past? If it's the latter, then it wasn't too high of blame for the destruction and state of the city. If it's the former, then it did one heck of a good job! Course, be it the former or the latter, both goals were achieved one way or the other.
"I hope they find us soon ..."
Meanwhile, towards the beginning of the city's vast mist, a lone aircraft began to fly dangerously close to the misty front. The young pilot driving the thing kept a firm grip on the controls, as he began to fly off into the mist, showing no signs of slowing down. The pilot; Hotaru as it turned out, continued to fly towards the mist until he eventually got through, and began flying off into the mist-filled sky. Since the mist was dense, it was hard to exactly see where he was actually going, though the risk of hitting any buildings from his altitude were very low.
"Aargh, can't see," Hotaru said to himself, his voice muffled by the breather, quickly turning on a special attachment: lights. At least that helps him out with some sight, as he continued to fly around, looking for some sign of the others. It was hard to see the bottom part of the city, but the few times he did, he could see the devastation left behind. The saddened pilot continued to fly around, looking for any one of the team around the area. However, he kept seeing something else moving around on the ground, though they moved a bit too fast to exactly get a full on view. Eventually, Hotaru got the aircraft into hover mode, and tried to find some more clues to the whereabouts of the others. As he slowly descended, he wasn't having very much luck in regards to finding anyone, or anything for that matter.
"Not here," Hotaru said, looking around. He couldn't see the ground very much as the aircraft hovered in place. The only thing he was seeing though were some fast-moving figures under him. The propulsions from his plane moved away some of the mist under him, revealing a number of the same runners that attacked the team upon arriving! The runners all looked up to him, one trying to catch him, but Hotaru was too high up in the air for the runners to catch him. Hotaru started to fly upward a bit more, surprised to see such odd things running around the place. While he was flying upward, suddenly something else shown up in his eyes. It wasn't as visible, but, it shined far more than everything else in the area: a single large, yellow light from further away. It looked like a light someone would give off from some spotlight, something Hotaru was hoping for. Hotaru began to position the propellers to move forward towards the light given off by the unknown figure. The runners followed for a while more as the aircraft kept going ahead towards the light beaming up at the plane. Hotaru tried to keep steady with his flying, trying not to go too fast, but also trying to find out the landing spot. Hotaru looked down towards the light, noticing that it was indeed on a wrecked building. Hotaru didn't had any sort of microphone to the breather, so he had to go in to find out who was there. As he moved in to see, the figure began to show the full figure ...
It wasn't any of his friends: taller than a normal person, draped in red and white cloth covering the entire body, having slender female legs, high heels on her feet, and a huge light covering her entire forehead. The light suddenly turned red upon Hotaru getting close enough to see the figure, and suddenly she quickly started to move forward towards the plane! Hotaru had enough sense to move out of her reach, the figure stopping on the edge of the building. Hotaru couldn't believe what he was seeing, but, he needed to find the others and make sure they're alright. As he flew off again, the flashlight lady watched him go away, and began to move off on her own way again...
Meanwhile, back on the wrecked shores, Bolin, Ziyou and Mako were still trying to figure out how to get across the shore safely. For the time being, the very idea of getting across Yue Bay to wherever Kai was taken seemed pretty hard in and of itself: Not many boats were found docked, and the few that were there weren't working, simply wrecked all together, or couldn't go out due to the amphibians. The trio weren't doing so well apart of the search, and the crying child with Bolin didn't help their situation either.
"Bolin, can't you quiet that thing down for just a minute?" Ziyou asked, getting annoyed. Bolin took sometime to catch up, looking a bit tired out.
"Hold on *pant* I'll be with you *pant* in a minute," Bolin said, trying to catch his breath. Mako went over to him, noticing his tired state.
"You okay, bro?" Mako asked, the baby thing cuddling up towards Bolin again.
"Yeah, I'm fine, really," Bolin said. Mako and Ziyou continued on for a little bit, until Ziyou looked on ahead. Upon doing so, they notice yet another boat docked upon the shore. This boat looked like some pontoon boat, though looking out of shape, seemed pretty good to go. Ziyou rushed over, and quickly jumped in the boat. Mako and Bolin went over to the boat as Ziyou tried to find some sort of ignition for the boat. Mako and Bolin kept an eye out as Ziyou kept looking for some sort of key or something to get the boat to start. While they were busy, Mako turned to inland, and suddenly began hearing some sort of stride coming towards them! Mako tried to get some warning out, but suddenly a huge creature rushed into view, skidding to a stop in front of Mako ... And licked him in the face.
"Guys, I found you!"
"Korra? Sis!" Ziyou said from the boat, jumping out, and tackling her with a hug in just one jump. Korra fell back off of Naga upon getting the hit, but was glad to see her friends okay. After Ziyou got off of her, Korra straightened up, and soon heard the same cries the child was making. At first, Korra felt surprised, but she looked a bit less surprised and more spooked when she saw what Bolin was holding.
"Bolin? What is that?" Korra asked, getting off of Naga, and looking directly at the infant.
"He's just a child that needs our protection," Bolin stated, cuddling against it again. It didn't help the situation from how weird it looked to Korra, and even Naga didn't want to look at it. Mako went back to the pontoon boat as Ziyou got up, and got Korra's attention again.
"ANYWAY, sister, had you found anyone else that isn't gonna kill, and or eat us?"
"No I didn't. I did find Naga, though, but that was about it," Korra said, Naga giving her another lick.
"Dangit. Well, good news is we found Kai, but bad news is he's taken off shore, over there somewhere," Ziyou said, pointing off shore to where she last saw Kai. Then her attention turned to the boat.
"Anything on the boat, Mako?"
"No, there's no key anywhere. Or even an engine for that matter," Mako said, showing the motor with no engine inside. Ziyou was even more upset, and Bolin looked a bit worried. He still considered Kai as a younger brother, and he'd hate for him to be stuck out there all alone. Then Bolin got an idea.
"Korra, you're waterbending, can't you just bend the boat through the water?" Bolin asked. A technique mostly done by those in the foggy swamp, but, something that Korra was willing to do. However, then Naga came to mind: exactly how was Naga suppose to come along? She was nearly as big as the pontoon boat, and fitting her on might make the boat itself sink enough as it is. Bolin and Ziyou got back on the boat. Korra was ready to go, but as she got the pontoon boat off shore, she suddenly made an ice patch behind them, large enough for Naga to jump on. Naga quickly caught onto the idea, and jumped on. A bit wobbly at first, but, the ice proved sturdy enough to hold Naga's weight.
"We're bringing Naga along?" Ziyou asked.
"Of course we are, I'm not leaving Naga alone in this place," Korra replied. Soon, she got out a friendly water leash, and got it connected to the boat from the back, and onto Naga's iceberg.
"There we go. Everyone ready?"
"As we'll ever be. Straight off uh ... That way," Ziyou replied, pointing towards the direction. Korra began to work the water around the boat and iceberg, beginning to get some momentum with Korra's movements. Soon, the boat began to move forward as if the engine had turned on manually. Naga kept her claws dug into the ice as they began moving so she wouldn't be separated. The amphibians on shore watched as the boat left shore, though didn't really do anything, as the personal vessel moved slowly out of sight ...
Meanwhile, Hotaru still moving around the area in the aircraft, at that point hovering over the abandoned police station. He still didn't exactly find anything or anyone around the place really. If he'd been there an hour earlier or something, he'd find Ziyou, Bolin, and Mako, but alas he was slow on arrival. While looking around, he saw the devastation of the building within it, and what was missing of it. It broke his heart to see such a place completely decimated ... While he was just looking around the horrid looking mess, suddenly he began to get a call in on his portable radio.
"Come in, Hotaru, come in."
"Hotaru here," Hotaru answered.
"Oh good, this is Varrick, where are you?"
"I'm above what I think is the police headquarters, but, it looks simply awful now. I'm heading towards the docks," Hotatru explained.
"Hold on ,wait for me will ya? I'm flying into the city right now, I'll catch up to you there."
After that was done, Hotaru began flying off again towards the docks, as he said. His gut told him that he was heading the right way. As the plane continued to fly for another good twenty minutes towards the shoreline as well, beginning to notice the signature area that was the docks after the short straight flight. Hotaru tried to look around for a bit, trying to see some sort of clue where Varrick was for the flight around. After a bit of circling, he began to see a set of lights in the air as well, not his own, and high enough to not be any trick lights. Soon, he got out his communicator again, upon seeing the lights.
"Come in, Varrick."
"Varrick here. Can you see me?"
"Affirmative, do you see me too?"
"Correct, kid," Varrick replied. Soon, Hotaru found himself flying next to another biplane: a average biplane, with Varrick waving towards him. Hotaru waved back as well.
"Good. Now, let's find the others."
The group upon the boat continued off on their way through the silent waters of Yue bay. The waters alone were very calming and quaint, which was odd considering they were in the ocean. Mako, Bolin, Korra, Ziyou and Naga just went slowly through the mist-filled waters. There was no noise, not very much wind either. The only main sound was the boat moving forward, with some assistance from Korra herself, the gentle stroke of her bending moving everyone forward. It was very quiet out on the water, the waves barely effecting their movement as they went along. They had to go slow, unsure of where they were going, nor where they were currently going.
"You sure this is the right way?" Korra asked.
"I don't know, that thing flew off too quick, don't know if it flew left, right, or whatever," Ziyou replied. She was getting far too bored with the slow ride, as nothing seemed to be happening to them during the trip. The baby Bolin had was sleeping, so, it was FAR too quiet for Ziyou to get used to. The silence was simply awful to her, and didn't have a clue how much longer she would be stuck in this sort of empty ocean.
"Ziyou, we need to figure out some sort of clue to where he was taken to."
"I know, I know, but this mist is thick as ever, we're lucky we are moving straight," Ziyou replied. As they argued a bit, Naga turned back, taking note that she can't see the shoreline behind them ... But, that wasn't what got her attention first...
"You two calm down? It has to be this way," Mako retorted, trying to keep an eye out. Naga kept looking around a bit more, sensing that something wasn't right. As she looked around, something finally caught her eyes ... Something huge was moving in the water under them. Naga wasn't in any mood to find out what it was, so she quickly gave a loud bark to the others.
"What's wrong, Naga?" Korra asked. Naga looked back in the water, noticing the large shadow underneath moving slowly under them all. Soon, just off to the right side of the boat, something breached the water. It appeared like a blob of white flesh, with two black doll-like eyes looking back at them. It descended back into the abyss again, but as it did, its tail suddenly breached the surface, shaking violently, almost hitting the boat! They all tried to stay afloat, Naga having the most trouble. The rocking of the iceberg eventually made Naga nearly fall off, her head and front legs in the water. The rocking also severed Naga's iceberg from the other boat, separating her from the others! Naga looked under the water, and saw the thing again, only a lot bigger, with a gaping mouth large enough to swallow her whole! Naga quickly reacted, and did the only thing she could do: abandon iceberg. Naga could barely make a jump, but it was just enough to avoid getting swallowed whole, as the giant gulper breached the surface! Everyone saw the giant creature breach the surface! Luckily for Naga, it only swallowed a chuck of ice, as it landed back into the water. Naga immediately tried to swim towards the boat, the gang watching everything from the pontoon boat themselves.
"Naga!" Korra gasped. The Avatar quickly made another iceberg by the boat, and jumped on it to reach her friend. Naga kept paddling, but, they all knew that the gulper wasn't going to give up so easily in that regard, so, they better act fast. Naga kept swimming, and soon got onto the iceberg again, with Korra's help, but the gulper's eyes breached the surface again, watching them once more. As it quickly dove down, its tail missed Naga, but whacked Korra hard off the boat!
"Korra!" Ziyou gasped. She quickly dove in after her sister, as Korra got to the surface again, gasping for air. The gulper dove down deep, shocking everyone that it got so quiet so quickly. As the commotion was going on, the child awoke again, and began to cry once more, much to the danger. Ziyou and Korra continued going to the pontoon boat, Korra using her waterbending as some extra boost. The gulper breached the water again, the mouth opened wide that time, ready to gulp them down on sight, when Mako began to act, and quickly zapped the gulper behind them. The giant thing groaned a bit, before it dove back down again. Korra and Ziyou got back onto the boat, as the gulper disappeared from sight. Korra herself didn't waste anytime, and got the pontoon boat moving again, as the gulper poked its eyes above the surface once more. However, it didn't immediately attack them, instead just following them slowly.
Back at the memorial, Kai and Asami both still were unsure on where to go. They would try to get off the island, but, without knowing where the main land is from the island, it was too dangerous to just go off. Both of them just sat alone in the main lobby of the museum, unsure of what else to do. Asami sulked a bit more in her spot, as Kai stood by the entrance.
"Man, I hope the others are okay ... Hey, Asami, you holdin up?"
Asami didn't reply, feeling terrible as she just sat there. She didn't know what to think, as Kai just sat down next to her. Asami could only sit there in worry, as Kai sat down next to her.
"... Me? Yeah, I'm fine I guess ..."
Asami wasn't: For the time she was stuck on the memorial island, she had been thinking over bit my bit on the circumstances. In particular, Taar, and its involvement with the city's demise. She knew of the Voronon, she knew she was of Shadow Nation descendent (of the royal family, no less), and she knew Taar was a Voronon too (maybe). In the end, she was having trouble on who to blame for the whole thing. Sure, Taar wrecked the city, but, they were mainly animals following their reason to being created. It was like blaming a Moose Lion for attacking someone just because it was protecting its cub. It was more of an instinct than a personal choice, and the Voronon's choice were instinctive instead of personalized choices ... Then again, Taar did show the raven-haired women that she was apart of the descendants and what the Shadow Nation was like, if only a little bit. They both just sat there, waiting a bit more for someone to help them.
Then they heard something.
'Thump' 'Thump' 'Thump' 'Thump'
"What's that?" Asami wondered.
... They barely had time to react, before it launched out of the shadows ...
Back outside, the team had just arrived on the island by pure chance. The island was a good spot, and possibly only spot, to where Kai was at when he was taken away by the bird. As they docked on shore, everyone got off the pontoon boat, and Naga quickly hoped off his iceberg, and went away from the water as best she could. The group looked around at the aging memorial, which was a bit of a relic to begin with, even before Taar showed up. The idea that Kai was here may be farfetched, but, it was the only island that was on the straight direction sail trip.
"Well, here we are, but where's that bird?" Mako wondered.
"Who cares where the bird went, this'll be a synch, come on," Ziyou said, starting off ahead towards the memorial, with the others following behind, keeping an eye out just in case. The museum was pretty simple to look around, and the whole group went over to the museum. Upon looking in, they didn't seem to see Asami, or Kai anywhere. Naga stayed outside, to keep watch just in case something did come around from the mist-filled skies.
"Kai, you in here?!" Bolin called tiredly, the child in his arms sleeping again. So far, his voice came through on death ears. Soon, the group spread out through the museum, around different areas of the rounded out museum. So far, though, Kai wasn't found inside the place. Eventually, Korra ended up alone in her search, and found one of the back room doors. She wasn't sure if Kai was in there, but, she went on and looked in to be sure. The room was darkened compared to the other rooms, as Korra wasn't sure what was in there. However, looking to the back of the room, she did see someone standing there ... Or something. It was standing at the end of the hallway, back turned to Korra, though the darkness made it unsure if it was indeed Kai or not. Considering where they were, she got out a fireball in her hand to see better in the room.
"Kai, is that you?" Korra asked. However, the light revealed that the figure standing there wasn't Kai at all! The door suddenly slammed behind her, unnaturally fast, and locking up as Korra turned back. As for the figure, it just turned out to be some sort of doll of sorts, placed there most likely as bait for her to get. Course, the others noticed, but since none of them were metalbenders (which the door was made of as it turned out), they couldn't do anything... Then, that same doll came alive! With a few cracking muscles, the doll suddenly stood up, and turned to her. The body wasn't even clothed, or even complicated, no visible organs other than legs, arms, chest and stomach. As for the head, the head altered a bit from what she had seen. The head had black hair, and looked like a girl's head ... however, upon closer look, the eyes were completely missing! Skin covered where the eyes should be, as if eyes were never there to begin with. Korra backed away, as the figure got up fully, and was soon facing her.
"W-what are you?" Korra asked, shocked and a bit worried. The doll's head suddenly clicked, as the neck detached from the head. Every twitch made Korra cringe a bit, as the head suddenly turned a full 360 degrees. Upon turning around, Korra was confronted by the head of an Air Nomad, one that Korra recognized right away ...
"Have you forgotten so easily?" The doll suddenly said, the voice matching Aang's exactly except more ghostly. "We are you." The head spun the other way, again 360 degrees, altering into another head of a brown brunette, hair looping around the ears, and a look of pure Water Tribe evident in the face. Again, voice matching the person perfectly.
"We are what you confined in your subconscious, begging to be freed at any given moment."
The head spun around to another, similar Water Tribe, but that of a young boy, with a signature wolf's tail in the back of his head. The voice unmistakable for whomever heard it.
"We are what you all fear of at night, the ones that lurk away in the dark corners of your deepest feral mind."
It soon cracked, and turned again, but this time the head it chose made Korra's heart race in fear (if none of the other heads did that already). The head of people she actually knew in her life came next - in this case, of a white skinned male, his hair dark, and a pointed tuff of hair on his chin. Korra knew him well, being the first Avatar in history ...
"We are what you sedate into paralysis every night, going into the dark haven, where of which we cannot trend."
The head cracked, and spun one final time, the doll standing inches away from Korra by that point. Korra didn't know what to think, her heart pounding, and cold sweat down her face, as her eyes remained glued on it ... The head turned to that of a long-haired girl. hair raven black. Face unmistakable for Korra.
"We are you. All of you. The real you."
Everyone in the museum bolted back as the metal door was ripped off its hinges, and flew off to the other side of the museum, as Korra rushed out in a panic, as the doll walked out, the head switching to another head, this time to an animal they knew, an eyeless Polar Bear Dog. It gave a perfect polar bear dog roar, startling everyone around it.
"C-crud, what is that thing?!" Ziyou gasped. The head spun again, altering and changing into a perfect match to Ziyou (without eyes).
"We are you, naturally," it said, the voice matching Ziyou's own, though a bit ghostly. Ziyou got even more spooked that it got her voice, and head appearance exactly, even down to the cut on her cheek. As it began to walk over to her. Mako launched a fireball at it, the doll dodging it in a sort of weird fall to the right. It rolled, and got up again almost perfectly, the head altering during the fall to resemble Mako's own head. The doll ran unrealistically at Mako, arms flailing, and it screeching in the ghostly voice much like Mako's own voice. Ziyou rushed at it, and tackled it to the ground. After she did, the doll landed on its stomach, but the head spun a 180 to look at her, the head altering into another animal head, that time of an eyeless version of a giant sandshark, quickly roaring at Ziyou. It even got the unhinged side jaws, which spread out upon the screeching, making Ziyou bolt back in horror. Bolin, Mako, Ziyou, and Korra stayed back. It turned to Bolin, who was looking oddly exhausted, as the child slightly woke up to see the doll, crying again. The sound of the crying attracted the doll towards it, the head spinning around multiple times until it changed into that of a firebender, scarred on the left side of the face, and short black hair. The eyeless doll, as much as Bolin tried not to let it, yanked the child out of Bolin's hands, rather violently. Bolin immediately tried to get the child back, but the child stopped crying once the doll placed its hand above the child's deformed head, silencing it almost seconds afterwards.
"Give him back!" Bolin pleaded, trying to reach the child. Everytime though, the doll dodged Bolin's attempts, and eventually set the child down, and lunged at Bolin, the head altering to match the child's head after one spin. Mako quickly launched a lightning bolt at the doll, that time hitting it. However, the doll didn't get effected in the slightest by the lightning bolt. In fact, it moved even faster due to the surge of energy, and tumbled quickly into Mako slamming him into the ground. As Mako tried to deal with the doll, Ziyou turned to her twin, who was still in a panicked state.
"Korra, aren't you gonna do something?!"
Korra didn't reply at first, eyes fixated at the doll, as it suddenly got its head to look at Korra, its neck clicking as it did so. The look itself didn't change until it got upright, the head spinning again into that of one of Korra's enemies - the first enemy she faced that had on that accursed mask of the equality leader. As if the thing wasn't scary enough, it took on a face that nearly ended her bending forever. The doll began moving over to her, the Avatar trying to keep as much distance between them as she could.
"S-STAY BACK!" Korra demanded, the doll not listening to her as a hand extended in her direction. Ziyou went on the offensive, and charged at it, but the doll's hand bolted in front of her, and gripped her skull before throwing her aside. Korra wanted to help, but she couldn't think straight due to the fear that exploded inside of her, the doll rushing at her, and both hands gripping her shoulders. The head spun around again, into Asami's appearance once again. It wasn't helping Korra's panicking state, as the doll's head leaned in closer to her. Korra tried her firebending on its stomach, the only attack she could do in her state, but it didn't work on the doll, despite burn marks evident on it. Then the doll made a move Korra never expected ...
It kissed her. Still in the Asami head, the lips made contact with Korra's head, on the top of her neck, just under her chin. Afterwards, the doll moved back, and the head spun around, and altered into another animal-like head, that time of the sea serpent from the Serpent's pass. Korra finally got herself loose, and launched the doll back as far as she could, it slamming into the wall. However, the doll remained upright, the head spinning and altering into another shape of a serpent, instead that of from Kyoshi Island rather than the one of Serpent's Pass. Another roar emitted from its mouth before moving forward again. Bolin took action, and got up an earth wall in between them and the doll, giving them some time to figure out what to do. Their only exit was blocked by the doll in question, so they couldn't stay there forever. At first, they just heard the screams from the other side of the wall, but eventually, the sounds ceased. The group waited a bit for something to happen, but, nothing seemed to occur afterwards. They all weren't sure if the doll was either making a bluff, or actually gone. To be sure, Korra quietly made a smaller opening in the wall, just big enough to see on the otherside. From what she saw, she couldn't see any trace of the doll ... At least, not at first. After a little bit, something did begin to show up in her sight - one figure dragging out two other figures behind it. Soon, the light revealed who the two were in front of the doll... Asami, and Kai!
The wall was moved down, and they saw the two on the ground, apparently knocked out by the doll in question. The doll's focus was directly on the two, as if ready to fight them once more. The team was ready to go forward, but the doll's head changed and spun around once before looking at them. This head was of the newest airbending master, Jinora, as it faced them. Korra was still scared, but swallowed her fear to face the doll. Quickly, Ziyou did the first attack, and launched the doll outside with an airbended kick.
"I'll deal with that thing, you take care of these two," Ziyou quickly said, before running back outside to face the doll. Korra stayed behind, while Mako rushed out with Ziyou to protect them. Upon launching it outside, only then did Naga finally realize something was wrong, not able to hear the ruckus inside until now. The doll landed on its feet, skidding to a stop near the pontoon boat docked. Naga charged towards the doll, with Mako and Ziyou running close behind, as the Polar Bear Dog pinned the doll down. The head managed to spin, and the alteration turned into another animal - a polar leopard, as it roared loudly in Naga's face. Naga wasn't as startled as the others were, but it was just enough to stall Naga for a few seconds before it whacked her in the eye, good and hard. Naga moved back a bit from the harsh hit, as Mako and Ziyou caught up, both ready to attack at any given point. The doll's head changed one last time, its head changing into that belonging to the head of a particular, armless waterbender, of the Red Lotus. It just stood there for a bit, the voice of Ming-Hua echoing around them as the three readied up for whatever the doll had before them. It was at that point when the others got outside, with Asami and Kai being carried, as Bolin got his child back, watching the spectacle unfold. Everyone held their breath, waiting for the doll to do something. As they were, those awaiting by the museum began to catch a glimpse of something moving around in the sky above them, the mist blocking off most of the view. The figure in the sky began to move down fast, as the doll started to run at them, screeching all out. Before anyone could attack again, the same flier quickly landed harshly on the doll, talons digging into its back. The screams admitted by the doll were spine-chilling to say the least, but with one motion, the screams suddenly stopped. Just stopped, just like that. No groans of pain, no sudden sounds, just like stopping a recordings mid sentence...
What they saw was the doll on the ground, head missing under the talons of the sudden attack. There wasn't any blood, guts, or anything like that: just a disembodied head laying nearby the body of the doll. As for who saved them, what stood on top of it was the same bird that took Kai to the island in the first place. They all simply stared at the bird, unsure of how to react ... Especially when they saw Jinora's head on it.
"... J-Jinora? ... Is that you?" Mako breathed out, as the bird turned to face him. Unlike everything else in this city, it didn't show any aggression, nor did it look anything but threatening. In fact, the look of calm demeanor helped the others calm down too. The bird took the body and head, and threw it into the water. While it wasn't noticed by everyone, only Naga caught the sight of the gulper, quickly sucking down the body from the surface before submerging again. Seemed it got a meal after all. The bird gently moved over to them, her wings out spread, as they gently rubbed Naga's head. The thing that made this different was Naga's reaction. Upon the touch, Naga shown affection towards the her, rather than aggression as she'd done towards the other things lurking around the area...
This really WAS Jinora ...
"What happened to you?" Korra said after a bit. Jinora turned to them all, and straightened her back, and folded her wings back to the sides of her body like a bird would. Jinora didn't utter a word to them, noticing kai knocked out. Jinora moved over to him, as Kai slowly started to come to, seeing Jinora in his face.
The bird gently placed her lips against his, her lips feeling oddly warm and caring to the touch. Kai didn't react too much, still trying to get himself fully conscious again, as Jinora gently rested her feathered wing onto Kai. With some effort, Jinora got Kai off of Bolin's back, and held Kai in her wing, letting him wake up a bit more.
"Jinora? Is there anywhere where we can be safe?" Ziyou asked, hoping for a better answer. Eventually, after Kai became fully awake, feeling Jinora's feathers rub against his back and sides. The feathers felt nice as well, though mostly because he knew it wasn't gonna try and kill him like everything else. Jinora smiled, and nodded, before pointing a wing in one direction of the bay, off the island. However, the mist made it hard to see what Jinora was pointing to.
"Uh...Where's there?" Ziyou asked, looking with an embarrassed smile. Jinora let go of Kai, him conscious enough to stand by himself, and moved over to Ziyou, pointing her wing in the exact direction again. It still wasn't helping Ziyou out much, but the others tried to think it over on where Jinora would be pointing to. Korra wasn't taking the patience thing very well, having an unconscious Asami on her back. Soon, Jinora looked back to the others, Ziyou still a bit clueless, but after focusing hard in that direction, something came into light. To help her make sure, Jinora started to fly a bit, and used her wings to clear some mist so the view was easier. Upon removal of some mist for that moment, Ziyou could make out a pillar of light, though looking small from where they were. The sight of it, and the obvious answer no less, slammed into the airbender twin like a speeding car, hand-to-forehead obvious.
"Oh DUH, the portal!"
"Man, we're stupid, why didn't we think of this earlier? We just rush over to the spirit portal, and hang in the spirit world! Of course!" Ziyou concluded. Jinora nodded, looking down to them all. Suddenly, many of them did feel a bit stupid for not thinking of that ordeal at the start ... Of course, there was another issue that came to mind: the gulper swimming off shore. They try to go now, and that thing will eat them whole! As if reading their mind, Jinora flew over to the pontoon boat in question, settling in there, as if waiting for the others to go in.
"Jinora, we can't use that," Bolin pointed out.
Jinora flew out again, over the area where a large shadow lay underneath the surface. As expected, the gulper's eyes looked above the water to see the large harpy above it. So, diving down, it soon breached after a minute, mouth wide open. However, Jinora flew just out of range, the huge beast landing back in the water! The idea came around quickly, but Kai didn't like it one bit. While the gulper was distracted by a potential meal, the team quickly got onto the pontoon boat, Naga getting an iceberg quickly before they casted off. However, Kai didn't get on right away.
"Kai, come on!" Mako yelled.
"Wait, I have an idea!" Kai replied, flying off until he was along the shore, seeing the gulper in front of it, with Jinora high in the sky. Kai knew this wouldn't last forever, so looking on the ground, he got his own plan going. Getting a large rock from the shore, the size of a basketball, and used his airbending to launch it at the gulper's head! It managed to hit the thing right on the top of the head, enough to get the animal's attention from the shore, as it changed targets quickly. Jinora saw Kai a little bit after the gulper began to swim towards the island, Kai standing there watching the beast. Jinora tried to fly to him as fast as she could, but the gulper was just close enough to Kai, beginning to open its mouth good and wide. Soon as it got to shore, Kai quickly made the only move he could, and jumped up as high as he could. His leap was just barely enough to miss the gulper's mouth, and the giant ended up beaching itself on the island! Kai was caught by Jinora, and the two quickly flew over to the pontoon boat as the gulper tried to get itself off land, and back into the water. At first, it was fruitless, but then it began to use its frontal fins to push itself backwards into the water as best it could. By the time it got back sea bound, the group was already far from sight. That didn't mean it didn't knew where they went, as it submerged again, and swam off ...
As the group continued to go, soon they all finally reached back to the shore as best as they could. They weren't sure how close the gulper was behind them, but the last thing they needed was to have that thing on their tail. By the time they got there, Asami had come to, but she still was a bit hazy over what happened. Upon reaching the shoreline, they all saw the grand tall area that was the spirit portal, still standing as if the mist wasn't around at all. Nothing else seemed to be around either. After a bit, everyone began getting off the pontoon boat.
"Great, we're here," Ziyou said, as the others got off. Last one, Naga, was a bit rough to get off the iceberg, and back onto dry land. As Naga kept struggling, the gulper poked its head out of the water, good ways away, before it began to move in. Naga tried to get up, but it was more difficult than it looked. The gulper began to swim towards the shore, Naga getting herself up on land. Naga looked back, and saw the thing moving in, and quickly getting the others moving inland. After they did, the gulper rushed over, and sank its jaws into the pontoon boat, shattering it to pieces! Thank Raava they made it in time, as the gulper swallowed the boat before it moved back into deeper waters. After calming down from that attack, the group looked to the portal in front of them. Upon reaching the portal, Bolin's child, still cradled in his hands, began to try to reach for the portal. It wasn't crying, but looked happy to see the portal in front of it. Jinora walked over, looking down at Kai, and gently extended a wing to him so he could hold onto her. Before they could go in though, they began hearing something else higher in the air. After looking up to the sky, they all began to see someone starting to fly around. Upon a closer look, two planes hovered overhead, lighten up and everything. Apparently one of them saw them, the plane starting to come down towards them slowly and steadily until it touched ground. They immediately recognized the pilot, as he jumped out of the biplane.
"Guys! Where's your masks?!" Hotaru replied, freaked out. They didn't have anymore gas masks for the others, so seeing everyone without a gas mask was a complete freak out!
"Hotaru, the air isn't deadly, you should be fine," Korra explained, as another biplane landed nearby, Varrick coming out of the plane, with his own gas mask on as well. His reaction, although a little over the top, was similar to Hotaru's reaction for seeing everyone without a mask, but the fact that Jinora had turned into some sort of mutated giant turkey got his attention first. Jinora paid him no mind, as she turned to the portal herself.
"But what happened to Jinora?!" Hotaru asked.
"We don't know," Asami replied, Jinora trying to get their attention again.
"Well, I came soon after I got the call. I'm glad you all are okay, but, we need to get you out," Hotaru concluded.
"Call, what call? None of us got the chance to call you," Ziyou blurted out. That information got Varrick and Hotaru a bit worried - didn't they get the call from them?! However, Jinora groaned slightly, beginning to walk to the portal herself, Kai following behind. The others started to follow a bit, Asami turning to Varrick and Hotaru. She was gonna say that they couldn't leave yet, since they didn't find any people, but, from what dangers they had gone through, she wasn't so sure.
"Look, we need some rest, we're all not in good shape, we'll join you in a minute," Asami concluded. Even if they did go, they wouldn't be in the best of shape. If they were leaving, at least they should heal where it was safe for the moment. The group continued walking into the portal, despite Hotaru and Varrick's words. Jinora extended a wing, and signaled Varrick and Hotaru to follow them. The two didn't go in at first, staying by the planes, as the others followed them in. As Kai and Jinora went in, Kai began to feel something different with the part he was gently holding onto. While he moved on, the feather he held began to feel more solid, smooth, and much more like an actual hand. As the group got into the portal, the land began to change and soon, they were right into the true Spirit World. The Spirit World didn't even look close to resembling what was outside, the mist not effecting the area in the slightest. In fact, the mist seeping in disintegrated almost seconds after going in, making it impossible to effect the Spirit World from the portal. In fact, it look a slightly bit more beautiful than they remembered last time visiting the Spirit World. After going in, Naga finally had time to ease herself, and laid down on the soft grass, keeping away from the portal, as everyone else looked around.
"Wow, the mist's got nothing on this place," Ziyou said.
"Yeah. I feel so much better now that we're here," Bolin said. Upon looking at him though, Mako quickly noticed that the child in his arms ... Well, it wasn't there. After some slight shining, the baby cradled had turned into a spirit! The little spirit looked much cuter than before, looking like a pudgy marshmallow with two leaves for ears, and a cute eyes and small smile on it. Bolin was shocked, as the spirit fluttered in the air by the leaf ears., great to be home. Next surprise came from Kai, who was watching the little guy flying around in the air above them.
"That child was a spirit?" Kai wondered. When he looked back to his hand, he realized the wings were gone! Suddenly he found himself holding a gentle hand, belonging to Jinora herself. Jinora was back to normal, fully human! Only main difference was that she was fully blue, in her spiritual projection by the looks of it.
"Jinora!" Kai gasped, more happy than most. Everyone else turned back and saw Jinora's spirit, as she too began to hover in the air. Suddenly, she flew quickly off ahead, in front of everyone else, and soon landed about ten feet away, getting into a lotus position before landing calmly on the ground ... Back into her body.
"Jinora!" Kai said, running over as fast as she could, and hugging his girlfriend tightly. He felt so relieved to find his girlfriend alive and well, but this raised some more questions. Back in the city, they found a deformed child, and Jinora as a mutated bird. But, in the Spirit World, they had a cute spirit, and Jinora's spiritual projection. So, what did that mean about everything else they found in there? The runners, the mimicker, the gulper, that human-sized doll, those amphibians. Are they all spirits or not? As they went further in, other smaller spirits came out to greet them.
"Oh, Jinora, I'm so glad you're alright. Where were you?" Kai asked.
"I woke up near the Spirit Portal the whole time. While I was here, I tried to get you guys, but, it didn't turned out the best," Jinora admitted. It didn't matter to Kai all too much, so long as Jinora was alright. Then, the spirits began to speak to the others.
"Raava! It SOO great to see you," one of the spirits said.
"Great to see you too," Korra replied.
"Did you make it out okay?" Another asked.
"We made it out, a bit rough, but we managed to. What about you?" Bolin asked.
"We got out soon as Taar showed up. Sad to see the spirit forests gone, though," the light spirit replied, a bit bummed out on the fact.
"Is that why all the trees were gone? We went all over where we could, and didn't see any spirit vine anywhere," Ziyou pointed out.
"Of course that's why, soon as Taar showed up, we high-tailed it outta there!" another flying spirit said.
"We couldn't do anything about it: Taar's beyond any control. It's a shock it gave up at all," another spirit added.
"Taar gave up? You sure we're talking about the same thing?" Ziyou asked. As she remembered, Taar didn't even care who fought it. A chameleon spirit climbed up Ziyou's shoulder before answering her.
"Is the Taar your talking about cover the entire middle coast of Yue Bay just be standing there?" She asked. Ziyou didn't need to reply to that one - it was the same Taar. Jinora and Kai walked back over, as some of the spirits went by them.
"But do you know what happened? Jinora looked like a bird while we were in there," Kai asked. None of the little spirits answered, but instead a large, serpent-bird spirit flew overhead, and soon came down to their level. Only Korra really recognized this spirit, which was the same one that spoke to her while she was trying to get help while Kuvira was around as the dictator.
"The mist emitted by Taar after his passing has horrifying effects on spirits who breath it," it explained, as it flew slowly around everyone else. While it didn't have wings, it didn't really need them. "You all saw some of the effects, I assume, while you were going through?"
"Well, I guess so. Were ALL of those things spirits?" Asami asked.
"Most of them, yes. Sadly, they couldn't return to the Spirit World in time, and became unable to return on their own after their alteration."
"Most of them, are you sure?" Ziyou asked, scratching her head in confusion. Before it answered, it looked to the portal. While it barely can see through it, it sensed that something was on the other side. Rather than fully explaining, instead it did probably the easiest, and best proof of it: moving close to the ground, one of its feather-like barbs took a small rock off the earth, and threw it outside. At first, nothing seemed to happen. But after a bit, the similar sounds of the runners began to be heard from the other side, as three of them suddenly rushed through! While the group was ready to fight, the three runners stopped, and looked around ... Soon, their bodies started to alter, and the darkened formed began to change, and chip away, as it disappeared on hitting the ground. After just seconds, the three runners had returned to their normal state. Instead of black raptor-like animals with yellow eyes, the forms in front of them looked much less intimidating; simpler raptor shape, no claws, hands or toes, or razor teeth, and their head looking like a simple mask, the eyes drawn in colored hues. They each were different colors, one green, one red, and one blue.
"I believe that answers the question," stated the serpent-bird, as one of the spirits moved over to Korra, but rather than attack her, it gently rubbed against her chest in affection than aggression. The other two looked slightly saddened, remembering what happened at the beginning, when they attacked their car. They spoke, instead of screeches, in calming whistles and chirps, echoing a little bit. Korra smiled, and gently patted the spirit's head. Korra knew what they were apologizing for (in their own way).
"It's okay, we forgive you. At least your better now," Korra concluded. Afterwards a happy chirp, the three then began running into the Spirit World, disappearing after a minute.
"So, Avatar. There is one question: what brought you back?" The leaf spirit asked.
"Every other human left the city weeks ago. Why did you return even after they left?"
"We were told to come back by the president - he thought there was more people in here," Ziyou answered. A bit straight up, but, it was the truth. The spirits looked to one another before the serpent-bird spirit spoke up.
"I can answer that. After Taar's destruction, the humans were getting attack by the monsters among the area. I'm afraid there is no one left ..."
"That can't be right! Aang spoke to me, he said to find -"
"You're friends. He didn't refer to anyone left behind," The serpent-bird spirit interrupted. Everyone remained quiet for a bit, the thoughts sinking in. So, that letter, this whole mission, all of that ... Was pointless?! The news got some mixed feelings, depending on who: some of the group were ticked off for nearly getting killed over nothing, while others were saddened to know that no one had made it for whomever had stuck around. In the end, what could they do?...
"So ... That's it, huh? ... Well then, there's no other option now," Bolin said.
"Right. Varrick, Hotaru, can you take us home in your planes?"
"We can, but, not all at once. It might take at least a few hours to get everyone," Hotaru explained. That, and the fact that they had a polar bear dog with them didn't help either. While they thought it over, the light spirit whispered something to the serpent-bird spirit, to which he nodded his bird-like head.
"I think there's a better solution for you," The serpent-bird began, getting their attention back. "The spirit world is deeply linked, and most of you know where the other Spirit Portals lead to. We highly doubt you want to risk going back out there again, so, by all means -"
"Let's go to the other portal!" The light spirit finished, saving them from a long monologue from the serpent-bird. The idea was actually a pretty good one: none of them want to continue this adventure in such a dangerous place, especially with so much psychological trickery within. In the end, they agreed.
"Alright then, we can do that. Probably much better than what we've gone through already," Kai concluded.
"Very good. The other spirits will help you on your way, and show you where to go. This world's map isn't as accurate as your own."
"Thank you very much," Jinora said, bowing a bit as a sign of respect. The serpent-bird spirit nodded, and began to fly forward into the Spirit World. As they began though, Varrick didn't follow them.
"Aren't you coming?" Mako asked.
"Eh, don't you worry about me. I'll just fly home - got here easy before, won't be hard now. Plus, someone's gotta bring back a pilot's special plane," Varrick said, winking to Hotaru.
"You'll do that? But, what about your own plane?"
"It's average, I'll just get another one. You all just enjoy your trip, I'll tell president Raiko what you crazy kids are up to. See ya," With a solute, Varrick went back out of the Spirit World. Everything set up, all good to go, the spirits began to go off ahead, with Team Avatar following behind. Their mission, and lives, in Republic City are over. What lies ahead, remained to be said, but one thing was for sure ...
Their new lives had begun.
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