Mountain region
Loyalty is Difficult to Find in a World of Betrayal
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Emblem of the Outlaw


Three: Water



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Enemies by Blood

Loyalty is hard to come by

"Since it seems I'm the newbie, who is this tool?" Kiri questioned with a quick glance towards the others. Frost's face contorted into a restrained chortle.

"Donghai? Don't worry, he doesn't count." Ai Shi responded with a smile.

"Oi. I'm right here. I heard that." His voice was somehow not raspy from his continuous inhalation of smoke, rather clear and irritated. Another explosion broke through their conversation as the gasoline continued to burn.

"I know. That's why I said it."

This witty response brought a sarcastic laugh. "Well then. It doesn't really matter what you think, does it?"

Silence fell over the four combatants. Suddenly, in the midst of their conversation. As if the muses granted an epiphany to each person at the same time. They could feel a sudden chill in the air, running down their spines. Something important was happening, at that very moment. But whatever it was, they knew that their priority ought to be the opponent standing in front of them. Donghai's fingers twitched. A gesture usually unnoticed.

Everything after that happened in a flash. Donghai quickly drew his gun and fired three shots, one aimed at each of the girls. As soon as his hand moved, Frost solidified the air into her signature ice crystals and shot several at the bullets. The other two did not have enough time to react, all they could do was watch in shock and hope, for those brief seconds before they would know their fate, that Frost's attack would prevail and they would escape this exchange unscathed.

"Donghai! You useless imbecile!" In an ill-lit room, a man in a suit sat smoking and chewing out his subordinate. Despite his current position, Donghai stood tall and held his head high. He knew that in this world, if he let an inch of humility show it would be the death of him.

His superior swore loudly, and through an empty whiskey bottle at Donghai's head. The latter simply leaned to the side and the bottle crashed into the wall in an explosion of glass. "Can you not do anything right?! I assign you to a team, and you get them all killed!"

"So my surviving of the assault against the Republic City spies makes me a traitor?" Donghai closed his eyes as he posed this inquiry calmly. Though his voice made the question sound sincere, his superior could sense the undertone of sarcasm.

"You bastard... Coming back alone doesn't make you a hero! It makes you a coward!" He threw another bottle at the underling's head, who once again dodged it easily. "And a useless one at that! It would have been better for all of us if you had died and a better man had returned!"

"I'm afraid I'll have to argue with you there, my dear fellow." They both turned to see Moshui enter the room. Donghai's superior stood quickly in surprise, sweat rolling off of his face.

"I... He... Moshui..." The pathetic gangster stammered.

Their boss walked forward a couple steps and stood beside Donghai, symbolic of the position he was taking in the argument. "I am well aware of the situation. I much feel that this is more of a reflection on your failures than his." With this sentence, two burly guards stood on either side of Donghai's superior, and perspiration continued to roll down his face. "In fact, I much think that this boy's actions reflect a sort of cleverness. The cleverness of a leader." He now turned to Donghai and continued, "How would you like this fool's position?"

"It's only fitting," Donghai replied with an arrogant smirk.

"I like your attitude." Moshui made a hasty gesture, and the two body-guards easily lifted the sweaty man out of his chair and carried him off. "Since it seems this man's disgusting perspiration has ruined this chair, I'll get you a new one, boy." As he began to leave, he patted Donghai on the shoulder and imparted one final statement, "Remember that survivors win. But also remember that those who fail me die."

Ice shattered against bullets. It wasn't enough to stop the course of the projectiles, but Frost's attack did help to redirect the bullets' course and give the girls enough time to dodge. Donghai clicked his tongue and held his gun up as he quickly reoriented his aim to fire again. But he was too slow. Using their combined Waterbending abilities, Frost and Kiri were both able to draw water out of the living grass and use it to freeze Donghai's feet onto the ground. He struggled for a moment before realizing that his arms were still free. Quickly, he aimed his gun and flexed his index finger on the trigger, preparing to fire...

Before a hand clasped around his wrist and pulled his arm backwards. The bullet shot into the sky, and he quickly turned to see his captor. Tuzo held the gangsters hand, not to keep the girls from getting shot at, but to keep Donghai from meeting an untimely death over this pointless battle.

"Dad?!" Ai Shi raced forward towards her father, but he did not move or respond.

"Moshui is dead." Tuzo said simply.

Donghai gasped in surprise. "How...?"

"A friend of mine and I defeated him. There's no reason for you to fight any more." Within his grasp, Tuzo could feel Donghai's muscles loosen and he released him.

"That's funny." Donghai chuckled as he returned his firearm to its holster.

"What?" Frost asked in surprise, furrowing her brow.

"Nothing really. Can I go now?" As Frost and Kiri released him from the ice, the entire fight in the area came to a stop. Apparently, all the other gangsters held the same sort of feelings towards their deceased leader as Donghai.

Now that he had released Donghai, Ai Shi rushed forward and embraced her father. "Dad! It's been so long!"

It took a moment for Tuzo to fully register the reunion, but once he did he smiled softly. "My little Shi Shi. I'm so glad you're safe."

Despite her best attempts to keep her bookish poker face, tears filled Ai Shi's eyes. "So much has happened since you left..."

"I know, I know."

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but where is that friend you rushed off to meet?" Kiri interjected quickly so as not to completely kill the moment. "Is he... You know..."

"Meelo is alive," Tuzo confirmed, "right now, he's... seeing an old student."

Face down in the dirt, falling like a true warrior in battle. Meelo approached August's corpse slowly and knelt next to him. Gently he turned to body over to look at all of the burn wounds. "You fought valiantly, August." He looked over at the dragon corpse nearby. Regret filled his chest, for all the things he never did for August. For all the things he never did for him. Despite having a child he mentored like a son and a true son, he was never really a father to either of them.

Meelo bent forward and gently closed August's eyes. "You were never really hopeless, August."

"Urk!" Haneul grunted as he immediately froze in place. His creepy opponent's hand stretched out, curling his fingers into motions that restricted Haneul's every movement. The Airbender knew that he shouldn't have rushed into a battle with a Bloodbender so hastily. A plan was needed to defeat this opponent, and now he found himself in a pinch.

"Time to die, Airbender."

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