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Book 1: Escape
July 11, 2012
With no place left to hide, John Rider is forced to flee to the World of the Avatar
Somewhere in Nepal.
The towering snowcapped Himalayan Mountains rose all around the small shack. A light snowfall drifted down as a man approached the hut with an armful of wood. The fur coat and hood covered most of his features as he entered the shack and placed the wood on the dying fire. With a quick thrust of his fist, a bolt of fire shot into the fireplace and sent sparks up the chimney. Lowering his hood and taking off his gloves, he breathed into his cupped hands, allowing fire to shoot out between his fingers and dissipate.
The Firebender was young, only seventeen or eighteen years of age judging by his facial features. But his eyes were stone, and his body had several scars on it, both obvious signs of a hard past. Picking up a bowl of now frozen soup, he exhaled slowly and closed his eyes. The ice quickly melted and soon the soup had steam rolling off of it. Sitting down and glancing to the table, his eye caught the sight of two pictures. One depicted his father: Lee, and his mother, Isabella.
Lee had been the leader of this world's version of the Order of the White Lotus, The Gunslingers, and with his hard work and training he had brought the Order back from the edge of extinction. Isabella on the other hand was this world's Avatar. Her actions, intertwined with Lee's, had managed to put the world on a path to recovery after a long and devastating war.
The other picture depicted him and Lee while he had earned his guns. He could still feel his mother's hand on his shoulder as he father presented him with the twin firearms. Those were good times then. He remembered sitting in his living room while his father recounted the tale of how he had journeyed to another world. A world filled with strange creatures, a world filled mystery and ancient energy, and more importantly, a world where benders were free to use their gift in everyday life.
He had believed these tales to something his father created to keep him entertained, like a bedtime story. Until he went on a trip with Lee to this other world. There he encountered all of his father's old friends, seen an example of the strange wildlife, and used his Firebending freely for the first time. This was in the innocent time before he had earned his guns. But the trip's end came all too soon, and he was forced to return to this world.
His father had promised him another trip to that fantastic world, but life has a way of ending plans really fast. Isabella fell sick and died in childbirth, leaving him motherless and without a sibling. Two years later, his father set out to fulfill his duty and locate the next Avatar, but he was ambushed and cut down along a small road in Italy. And if things didn't seem bad enough, the new leader of the Gunslingers soon branded him a traitor.
The Order didn't except traitors, whether guilty of the charge or not. That was why he was here now, hiding from one world's deadliest organizations. They would find him soon; he had no doubt of that. It all just depended on how long it took for them to get there. With a sigh, he dipped the spoon into the bowl again and slowly swallowed the soup, savoring its warming taste.
The door suddenly burst open and a cloud of snowflakes rolled in, accompanied by quickness of seven heavily armed men in white camouflage. He didn't jump, or so much as panic. He simply lowered the bowl and let out a loud belch before he acknowledged the men's existence.
"Hello boys," he said simply, looking from one to the other. He couldn't see their eyes, as tinted goggles covered them.
"John Rider?" asked one of men. John rolled his eyes.
"Christ Leon, save me the theatrics. We both know what's going to happen next," he said. The man who had spoken stepped forward, lowered his mask, and raised his goggles.
"I know, but it would nice to avoid violence for once," said Leon. John rolled his eyes again.
"I'm not an Airbender, Leon. I don't try to avoid violence." Leon sighed and turned away.
"If you can make it out of here alive, we'll talk," he said over his shoulder before he walked outside. The remaining six raised their assault rifles and took aim.
"All right boys, lets play," said John before he sprang out of his chair. Automatic gunfire tore up the wall behind him as he dove to the side, meeting nothing but air. Then his guns appeared in his hands, both of them blazed repeatedly, cutting down one after the other. In less than thirty seconds, all six of the attackers lay dead on the floor.
Thumbing both Colt 1911s, he allowed the clips to fall to the floor before he reloaded the guns and holstered them in the cross draw shoulder holsters under his arms. With a sigh, he picked up the two pictures and placed them in his pack before he walked out the door.
"I thought so," said Leon as he flicked a lit cigarette away into the light snowfall.
"So what do you want to talk about?" asked John. Leon sighed, expelling a mixture of smoke and steam from his nostrils.
"I've always been on yours and your father's side, you know that," he said.
"But you're not above the Grandmaster's command," John finished for him. Leon lifted a finger, a motion for him to finish.
"Yes, I am not above the Grandmaster's command. But that doesn't mean I have to obey his orders to the fullest extent," he said. John cocked his eyebrow.
"What are you talking about?" Leon sighed and looked up into the clouds.
"There's no place on this Earth that's safe for you anymore, John. If I found you here then the Grandmaster can find you anywhere. So my suggestion is not being on this Earth anymore," he said as he held up a circular device. Three metal arms sprang out on the sides.
"Where did you get this?" breathed John in shock, not quite believing his eyes.
"You think your father was alone that day in Italy? He gave it to me and told me to pass it on to you before he passed," said Leon as he handed the device to John, who took it with a since of reverence.
"I've arranged for a drone to do a flyby. Any remaining evidence that says your still alive will be gone in about five minutes," Leon added.
"How long am I going to have to be gone? John asked. Leon shrugged slightly.
"I don't know. At least until this guy is gone and sleeping happily with the worms."
"Do me a favor and make sure that I don't stay gone until I'm old and decrepit." Leon rolled his eyes and stuck out his hand. John sighed and shook Leon's hand.
"You're a good friend to me Leon," he said.
"Take care of yourself John," came the reply. John took a few steps back and activated the device. With a flash of green light and a puff of snow, John vanished into thin air. With a sigh, Leon lit another cigarette as he watched the shack splinter into a million pieces and the unmanned drone vanish into the clouds.
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