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|Meeting the Avatar|
Book 1: Escape
Having freshly arrived in a familiar world, John begins to search for old friends, and discovers just how much the World has changed.
Korra faced the three trainers, confidence and the urge to prove that she was ready for the next element surged through her. With quick ease and a grin on her face, she bested the trainers, even causing one to land on roof where her masters watched.
"She's strong," stated her waterbending teacher, Katara.
"But she lacks restraint," said the White Lotus commander standing next to her. Korra stuck her arms into the air; this combined with a joyful cheer showed that she thought she had mastered the element. After some convincing, she managed to convince the others of this as well.
"Tenzin should be here in a few days, I would advise that you prepare yourself for the task of Airbending," said the commander. But the young Avatar was already walking away, no longer listening and celebrating her achievement. She walked down into a small stable and found Naga, her polar bear dog.
"I'm ready to start Airbending girl! Master Tenzin should be here in a few days!" she cried gleefully, nuzzling the large bear/dog cross. Picking up a saddle, she placed it on the dog's broad shoulders and mounted up before riding for the compound gates.
"Just taking Naga out for a stroll," she called up at a White Lotus sentry. Even though the Guard's face showed no emotion, Korra still rolled her eyes.
"Don't worry, we're not going far," she said. Although the Guard simply turned away, the gates still opened. Encouraging with her voice and a flick in the reigns, Naga and Korra quickly passed the Southern Water Tribe village and out onto the glaciers and snowcapped cliffs overlooking the sea, a usual spot for her to go. With her chin resting on her wrists, the young Avatar looked out over the sea, in the direction of the unseen lands beyond.
A low voice suddenly appeared on the wind. Sitting up, Korra looked out over the white and gray landscape. There, just beyond her standard distance from the compound, was a figure that was walking in the direction of the village. For a minute or two, the young Avatar stared. Newcomers only approached the village from the sea, never over the icecaps. Turning Naga, she hurried over to the newcomer. Even at a distance, she could tell that this person wasn't from the Water Tribe, as the figure's coat was brown and not the standard blue.
"What are you doing out here?" she asked as Naga came to a halt. The figure stopped and lowered its hood. He was handsome, with black hair, brown eyes, and a tanned face. To top that, he didn't look much older than Korra herself, and he didn't appear to be armed.
"I'm looking for an old friend of mine in the village," he said, looking up at her.
"May I ask who?" she asked, cocking an eyebrow. He shrugged slightly.
"A woman by the name of Katara," he said. Korra leaned forward slightly, resting her weight on her forearms just on the edge of the saddle.
"How do you know Master Katara?" she asked. At first, the newcomer didn't seem to react to her question as he pulled off a glove and allowed Naga to sniff it.
"I met her a while back, during my last visit here," he said, watching carefully as the polar bear dog began to lick his hand.
"How long ago was that? I don't ever remember seeing you at the compound," said Korra. He looked up at her, curiosity in his eyes.
"A long time ago, because I sure don't remember a compound of any sort," he said as he lowered his hand and slid the glove back on. Korra cocked her eyebrow in confusion.
"How is that possible? The compound has been there for at least twelve years, and you can't be much older than seventeen so I should remember you," she said. He lowered his eye line slightly.
"It's complicated," he said. Korra sighed before she sat up straight.
"Hop on, I'll take you too her," she said. The newcomer nodded his head in thanks before he climbed into the saddle behind her. Turning Naga, they began to race back in the direction of the compound and the village.
"So you got a name?" asked Korra, sitting slightly hunched over as she held onto the reigns.
"John. You?" he asked.
"Korra." Naga began to slow before entering the compound's gate at a walk. Katara stood on a platform above them, watching with a slight interest.
"I found this guy outside the village. He says he knows you," called Korra as she began to dismount. John swung his leg over the polar bear dog's back before sliding off her back with ease and placing his packback over his shoulder.
"I see, and does this newcomer have a name?" asked Katara. John placed his palm on the crest of his brow, blocking out the sun in his eyes.
"Names are an illusion and so is death, I believe you told me something like that in a story once," he said. The elderly woman's eyes went wide before she waterbended a chunk of ice under John's feet, forcing him into the air and onto the platform next to her.
"Oh John, its good to see you," she said, embracing him in a hug.
"You as well ma'm," he said, returning the hug. Korra walked up the stairs behind the two of them, watching with a curiosity.
"You've grown so much!" she praised him as she stepped back to look him over. John nodded slightly, accepting the compliment with a mixture of unease and happiness.
"How's your father?" Katara asked, a smile shining in her eyes. But that quickly faded when she saw his face sink.
"He's passed." Katara placed her hand on his shoulder in a reassuring manner.
"Oh John, I'm so sorry to hear that," she said. John nodded before he sighed and looked around the compound.
"Where's Aang?" he asked. Katara sighed before she looked out at the compound's wall.
"I'm afraid that he's passed on like your father." John placed his hand on her shoulder, mimicking her action.
"How long ago?"
"Seventeen years ago, that's why this compound was built, in order to train the next Avatar," she said. John looked around the compound for someone fitting the appropriate age. Finally, his eyes settled on Korra.
"You?" he asked, finding no one else.
"The one and only," she said. John lifted his hand to the center of his chest and formed his hand like he was ready to grab his gun with his thumb and index finger straight, while the middle, ring, and pinky were all curved. With a slight bow of the head, he spoke a short phrase in Latin.
"What was that all about?" asked Korra, looking past John to Katara. The old woman's smile returned to her face.
"It is the proper greeting of a Gunslinger, Korra, he's showing you respect," she said. Korra returned her gaze to John and gave an awkward bow in return. Suddenly, her eyes went wide with recognition.
"Gunslinger? You mean like in those stories you told during training?" she asked. Katara nodded simply, still smiling brightly. Turning slightly, Katara faced John.
"I'll get you a room set up. How long do you plan on staying?" she asked. John shrugged slightly before rubbing his hands together.
"I'm not sure exactly, but it'll be a while before I can go back," he said.
"Never mind that, you stay as long as you need too," said Katara before she turned and walked away. Now standing by themselves, both John and Korra felt the awkwardness between then. John shuffled back and forth on his feet, reacting to the cold and the silence.
"No offense, but I didn't think that you guys existed," said Korra, breaking the silence.
"None taken, there was a time where I didn't believe that your whole world existed," came the reply. Korra studied his face in great detail for the first time. The first thing she noticed was that his eyes darted back and forth around the compound slightly, like he was expecting one of the sentries to suddenly turn and attack him. To her, he looked like a hunted animal. In the west, the sun was sinking beyond the horizon and night was setting in.
"Supper time," came the call across the compound. John followed Korra silently as they made their way to the dining hall. Inside the building, both the young Avatar and the young Gunslinger welcomed the warmth that rushed to meet them. Following Korra's example, John took off his coat and hung it next to the door. Korra watched with an interest, studying his slightly bulky arms that slid out of the tan T-shirt. The next thing that caught her eye was the twin handles of his guns, sticking out of the holsters under his armpits.
"John, it's a requirement that weapons are not worn while eating," said Katara as she sat to eat. John sighed slightly, not really willing to be parted with his guns before he drew both guns and sat them on top of his pack. Walking over, he sat next to Katara with Korra sitting across the table from them. In relative silence, they began to eat. But the hunted animal never left John's eyes, even as he ate.
Katara could help but feel sorry for him, as she knew the feeling all to well.
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