|More from MibuWolf||Action/Adventure/Drama||TV-14||Positive|
|Misfortunes Carry Sorrow|
It will all end with a fateful showdown
Everything seemed to flash. The room spun as Haneul's weary eyes tried to focus. He was inside, that much he could tell. But other than that, everything was still blurred. A throbbing shot throughout his head, like a nail being driven into his skull. It seemed like someone was standing over where he lay. Haneul could not make out the figure, and thus could only assume that he was either in the clutches of the enemy, or in the care of a friend.
"Haneul!" The shrill shriek of joy confirmed that the latter was true. Kiri smiled in delight as his eyes focused on her face. After she spoke, his face contorted in pain, signifying that her shrill happiness was not helping his headache. She lowered her voice to continue with the same sort of glee, "I thought you were dead!"
Haneul rubbed his temple, managing to smile through his agony. "I was just tired... Passed out."
"You were coughing up blood. People don't cough blood when they faint. I thought you were going to die..." Kiri wrung her hands nervously, obviously still worried for him while also thrilled at the fact that he was still alive.
"Have you seen someone faint before?"
"Then that proves that," he replied with a confident nod and leaned back against the wall. "So what's the situation?"
Despite her irritation at Haneul for switching the subject, Kiri seemed to beam a bit when he asked. "It's great, Haneul! The whole camp is liberated! Most other camps haven't begun to rebel, but change is coming! Everything worked out, and it's all thanks to you spreading the word beforehand."
An arrogant grin flashed across Haneul's face. "Of course. I am the hero after all. So are we heading to liberate the rest of the camps?"
"You shouldn't go anywhere in your condition, Haneul." Kiri snapped immediately after Haneul spoke.
The Airbender rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't worry so much, Kiri."
Glass flew as the earth shook with a sudden explosion. Ishio, Liwei, and Miwa barely dodged the grenade launched by a Republic City police officer. They shielded themselves from the flying glass with their forearms, and ultimately the attack only injured and took out a few of the enemies. Alarms blared throughout the building and alerted anyone within of their presence. In one swift motion, Liwei drew his hand gun and fired off a bullet which lodged itself in the officer. He fell, and the three continued onward.
Being built for the sake of the portal, the building was a tall, multi-story skyscraper. With all the officers on the first level taken out, the three rushed towards the elevator. Ishio wildly clicked the elevator call button, but it blinked in defiance. "That explosion must have put the building on lockdown!" Liwei hollered over the roar of the alarm. As if on cue, the sprinkler system went off and the team was quickly soaked. "We have to take the stairs!"
Without argument, they made their way towards the staircase and began to ascend. But they were not without hindrance: at the same time, several Republic City officers were descending, trying to escape what they thought was an alarm saving them from a fire. In the narrow staircase, it was left to the quickest draw. Liwei managed to take out all those who stood in their way, and they continued. At least, they continued until they reached the next level. Another explosion rocked the building. The stairwell they were ascending within began to crumble, and Ishio quickly shifted into an Earthbending stance to redirect the pieces of building. He managed to block several pieces of concrete, until he lost his balance from the ground—soaked by the sprinkler system. Liwei grabbed his hand before he could stumble while Miwa had already opened the door to the level and was staggering inside.
"We meet at last, Liwei," this hollow voice met the team as the entered the room. Looking through the downpour of water, a figure stood at the opposite end of the room. His hands were in his pockets and he was looking at the ground, his wet hair obscuring his face. One step at a time—right foot, left foot, in perfect rhythm—he made his way towards the group. As he neared, they all recognized him despite his hidden face.
"Tang..." Miwa stammered out these words, speaking for the first time since they entered the building. Her expression held a slight glimmer of hope buried beneath years of built-up hatred.
The police detective did not so much as look at Miwa. But he did raise his head. His eyes were maddened—bloodshot—both from fatigue and insanity. Tang was pale before, but now his skin was a ghostly white. His previously thin physique seemed to have no body fat or muscle at all, shown in his bony hand clutching a police-issue handgun. All the while Tang's hair was plastered against his head from the water pouring down on him, dripping over his face and onto his clothes. "I will end you."
All three shifted into fighting stances, and Tang wrinkled his nose. "I have no interest in your friends, Liwei. I just want to feel your blood run down my hands, fighting one-on-one."
Liwei's teeth grinded against each other. "Miwa, you stay here. But Ishio, run for the top. It's only a few more floors. There's a staircase behind Tang. Go."
"Fine," Ishio smirked as he spoke, "just don't die, alright? A hero isn't worth much without his underlings." Before Liwei could retort, Ishio made a run for the staircase past Tang. The latter did not so much as twitch when the Avatar ran past.
Once Ishio was into the stairwell, Liwei spoke, "Tang, this can all end without any bloodshed."
"This could have never ended without bloodshed! You know that as well as I!" Tang raised his arm and fired several shots towards Liwei. The ex-prince quickly dodged and watched as Tang's arm flew backwards with the recoil. He was so weak and sickly that his arm could not even take the usual stress of firing a weapon. Though Liwei's own weapon was drawn and he had a clear shot, he did not yet fire upon the other.
"Look at Miwa, Tang! Remember how much you loved her! Benders are not evil!" Despite his best efforts to avoid doing so, these words caused Tang glanced over at Miwa before bringing his gaze back to Liwei.
"You're a coward! Even now you can't just face me like a man!" He fired off more shots towards Liwei, and with every movement his arm seemed as thought it would snap. "It's all your fault! My life is ruined because of you! Because of all you damned benders!"
Liwei dodged the bullets swiftly and found a soaking desk to duck behind. "Think about it, Tang! If I hadn't betrayed the police, you'd still be a puppet! Don't you see what's happening?!"
"Shut up!" Tang cried, wildly clicking his gun despite his lack of bullets. He produced more ammunition and fumbled to reload his weapon.
"Tang! Liwei's right." Miwa spoke now, her eyes swimming with emotion. "The world is corrupt, and you're almost out of it. You can come out of it."
"Bitch!" Tang spun around and spat in her face. "You... You... You have no right to come back here!" His gun was once more loaded, though now he was not sure who to point it at.
"I know why you're upset, Tang. And for that same reason, I was unable to forgive you for more than a decade." Despite the fact that he had a loaded weapon, Miwa began to approach him. Rather than attack her, Tang simply staggered backwards like he was trying to avoid her. Like he was trying to physically avoid the truth. "Betrayal. I betrayed you when I began to rebel against the law, when I continued to bend. And you betrayed me when you imprisoned me, as you would any other bender."
Now, Tang's face twitched in shock. But Miwa continued, "I didn't realize until Liwei came to me that bending in public was the biggest mistake I'd ever made. The law is so important to you, and I was too young and stupid to see that it would crush you." After she said, this, Liwei emerged from his hiding spot to face them both.
"You're... lying..." Tang sputtered in disbelief.
"And because of me, you get angry over any sort of betrayal. You're not angry at Liwei for betraying you—for betraying the law—you're still upset with me for betraying you all those years ago." Despite his insanity, tears began to fill Tang's eyes. A tear dripped down Miwa's face as well as she continued, "I don't care if you never forgive me, but stop this madness. It's almost over, Tang, and you can still save yourself."
Tang's shoulders relaxed, as if he was coming to accept their words. As if he knew that this was the only way, and that he had to trust what they were saying. Then, the door to the stairway which Ishio had exited through slammed open. "Liwei!" Junjie screamed from the doorway. All three looked at Liwei's brother in shock, and Tang immediately raised his weapon.
"You cowards! You lying bastards! You brought backup to take me out once you had weakened me!" He sputtered out these words and flexed his finger on the trigger. This time, the force was enough to knock the weakened Tang backwards.
The bullet shot forward. Everything seemed to happen so quickly. An instant later, Junjie was lying on the floor with Liwei sprawled out in front of him. Blood poured from Liwei's chest, from the bullet aimed at his brother which now lodged itself in his chest. "Dammit, Junjie..."
"Liwei! I... I followed you to apologize! I... I..." No words from the Fire Lord could compensate what his brother had just sacrifice to save him from his own stupidity.
After Liwei fell, Tang lifted himself and stormed forward with a vengeance. Miwa grabbed his arm before he could do any more damage. "It wasn't lies, Tang! Look at this boy! He doesn't know anything!" With Miwa's plea, Tang looked at Junjie and saw his expression of pure shock. Slowly, his shoulders rose and fell in sobs before he fell to his knees. Miwa knelt beside him, and they all watched the dying Liwei.
"After you escaped, I reasoned with the rebels... Bending's legal again, Liwei... Liwei, I'm so sorry..." Junjie tried to explain this to Liwei, but his tears and regret stopped him from saying anymore.
"Somehow, I knew I wasn't going to make it out of here..." Liwei sputtered between grit teeth. He reached to his wound, pressed his hand against it and pulled away to examine the blood. "Change is going to come... Just make sure... Ishio..." A grunt interrupted his train of thought, but he quickly continued, "closes the portal..."
"You can't die, Liwei... You need to be the Fire Lord..." Junjie spoke as if reasoning with him would save him.
"You'll make a fine Fire Lord, Junjie..." The dying prince smiled up at his brother. It was a pained smile, but still a smile Junjie had never seen on his brother before. A sincere smile. Liwei held out his bloodied hand, which Junjie grasped. "Bender or not." And with those final words, Liwei breathed his last breath.
Using the water from the sprinkler system, Ishio managed to use his recently acquired Waterbending to take out most of the officers. They were still trying to escape, and a focused water whip sent them falling to their death. It didn't take long for him to reach the top of the tower.
By the time he reached the roof, it was night. The cold night wind blew through his hair, and he carefully shielded himself from it while approaching the portal. It hummed with energy, breaking through the serene night silence.
Crack! The sound of a bullet piercing the air dominated any other sound. It tore through Ishio's chest; behind him, a young police officer with a shaky hand pointed a smoking gun at the Avatar.
For the collective works of the author, go here.