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|One Life's Ending Brings Another's Beginning|
Book One Finale:
Happy Halloween, Avatar wiki! After a successful Halloween with my lovely Korra costume, I figured that I should post Book Two of EotO! My dad was too embarrassed to take a picture of me in my Korra costume at the DMV, but it did happen (unfortunately, it was the pre-test to getting my license, so I don't get to be in my Korra costume for my license photo =[). Anyways, in Book Two I'm going to be exploring my edgy side as a writer. Most of the chapters will be TV-14 versus the milder chapters before. But it's going to be even better than Book One.
As one life comes to a close, another is just beginning
"Today's my birthday, mom."
A boy lay in bed, staring up at his mother with a slight smile. Skin, pale as the moon, hair even whiter, with haunting red eyes. He looked like a corpse, with a pained expression trying to ease his mother's nerves. A woman—his mother—walked towards his bed with a warm wash cloth. She wore long sleeves, gloves, an apron, and bangs which covered her forehead. Gingerly, she lay the cloth on his forehead and smiled at her son. "I know, sweetie."
His tired eyes looked out the window at the bustling city. Cars honked, people hurried around, it seemed as though the city never stopped to rest. "It's been sixteen years."
The mother's gentle hand reached down and smoothed his hair back lovingly. She could find no words of solace: for sixteen years he had been bedridden. Every now and again he would try to get up, try to live a normal life, only to find himself back in bed at most an hour later. It was not a healthy life for a teenager, but it was the only way she knew to keep him alive. His father helped raise him for more than a decade; wise, with a good sense of humor, and admired by all, his father could keep his son inside and somehow make life enjoyable. No one questioned his father, and several people were willing to aid in the care of their sickly son. The police took him away five years ago, and since then she was alone in the care of her son.
Droning of an airplane broke through the city bustle. The noise caught the boy's attention, and he looked out at the plane, soaring across the sky. Though he said nothing, and had never said anything, what happened while this 'invalid' alone was far from sitting in bed and dreaming about being a pilot. He smiled up at his mother, and she smiled back at him before leaving to the kitchen. Once she was out of the room, he sighed: his sigh was not sickly, nor did it sound very healthy.
A whim. Purely a whim. He shifted himself from his bed so that his legs hung over the side. Robes, like a sickly person would wear one hundred years ago, had garbed him for so many years. With the sudden movement, an animal crawled over the boy in excitement. A small white rodent, which brought a smile to the invalid's face. This mouselemur had been his only comrade in these years of illness. Against the bed, his arms flexed to bring himself to stand.
Not a moment later, the room began to spin. Face-first, he toppled to the ground with a dull thud. His mother raced in at the noise, and upon seeing her son collapsed she shouted in alarm, "Haneul!"
"Idiot! Like a hospital can do anything!" Ishio spoke harshly towards his friend, head violently pivoting before racing across the street. Not far behind were his travelling companions, Frost and Liwei, carrying his unconscious Firebending teacher, Ai Shi. Somehow, the government obtained the technology to remove a person's bending—and Ai Shi had been their first test subject. As the Avatar, who knows what could happen if Ishio were to lose his bending, and a major priority was to avoid being caught again. With the police not far behind, this seemed an impossible task. Liwei, worried for his childhood friend, suggested they find assistance at the hospital. A futile idea, but one made by a man desperate to help his friend.
Cars honked at the three teens: they paid little attention to their surroundings and darted past lanes of traffic. A taxi honked loudly, but made no effort to stop. Ishio's eyes went from the cab to the police in pursuit and slammed his foot in the ground. Concrete cracked with his bending, redirecting the cab towards the police. They leapt onto the sidewalk as the taxi slammed into a pole. The front of the taxi was crushed and the force of the impact caused it to launch backwards. Another car rammed into the side of the taxi, followed by more as a several car pileup was created. But the accident created enough of a distraction for the three to escape, and they paid little mind to the destruction caused.
Everything happened in a flash. Half-conscious of the drive to the hospital. The next minute, Haneul felt the taxi ricochet off path. A collision. He ought to be dead. He would be dead. If his mother hadn't reacted. Somehow, her instincts kicked in and she kicked the door open. Air whirled around him, and he knew that she was using her Airbending one final time, to save his life. Now, alone on the pavement. Surrounded by the disembodied parts of all the other people involved in the crash. All the other victims.
His mother was gone. Beyond the flames, three figures raced down the street. He knew they caused the crash, they were to blame. Legs shaking, Haneul stood. The world spun, but he made himself continue to stand. Right foot stepped forward, then left. Staggering steps, but steps nonetheless. It became impossible to make out the exact shapes of the figures running in the distance, but he wanted to catch them.
"Wait..." he called weakly. Building up momentum, Haneul could put on foot in front of the other. Adrenaline seemed to kick in, and his speed rose considerably. Maybe he was just stiff from laying in bed, or maybe he was just really pissed at these three for killing his mother. Regardless the reason, Haneul had brought himself into a sprint down the street, and found himself gaining on the three.
A brown-haired man ran at the back of the group, and Haneul's all-out sprint enabled him to gain on them quickly. His right foot kicked the ground, and a gust of air shot him forward. Arms wrapped around the culprit's stomach and knocked him to the ground. The others stopped and looked back in alarm.
Not far after the area where Team Avatar had lost the police, Ishio heard someone in pursuit. From bending the road, Ishio was at the back of the group: Frost in front and Liwei just behind. He tried to pick up speed, but suddenly the person was upon them. Arms wrapped around his stomach and knocked him to the ground. Liwei and Frost stopped to see who had caught them, only to be surprised by the sight of a boy wearing what looked like pajamas.
"Who the hell do you think you are?!" The boy held a firm grip of Ishio's collar and shook him back and forth.
"I'm the Avatar, dumb ass!" he said between shakes from the boy. At this, the boy's fist collided with Ishio's noise, making a satisfying crack. Over the boy's hands, Ishio clenched his nose in pain and shot the boy a glance full of enmity.
With the unexpected stop, the police had begun to close in on the group once more. Liwei sighed, and shifted Ai Shi so that his hand rested on his holstered gun. "I apologize, but we can't afford to get caught by the police." In an instant, Liwei pulled out his gun and shot a single bullet at the boy, just to wing him so that he could not follow. A flick of the wrist, bringing a small gust of wind which redirected the bullet.
The shock of this boy's Airbending did not have time to be absorbed; in the delay, the police completely surrounded the five teenagers. Guns drawn, over a dozen police officers surrounded them, each with a perfect shot. They froze, like someone had taken a picture of the scene.
"Oi..." the Airbender spoke slowly, carefully, "I'm not with these guys."
"We're not stupid," an officer spoke, "we saw you Airbending."
To apprehend all benders. Haneul felt like an idiot; he had not remembered that bending was forbidden. Illegal. With his mother's death, his anger overcame his common sense. To apprehend her killer, he had used his bending in public. He had shown the entire world that he was an Airbender. Just like his father: bending was so natural that having to consciously think about not bending seemed impossible. And it had gotten Haneul's father thrown in prison. Meeting the same fate would be a disgrace.
Yet, the only person who stood a chance of getting out of this situation was the Avatar. The only person would could help Haneul to fulfill his dream, to make his parents proud, to fill his father's shoes was his mother's killer.
Facing off against the officers seemed so natural to the others here. They all backed against each other so that they faced outwards. Haneul hesitated for a moment. The choice of helping his mother's killers or his father's captors. Slowly, his feet backed him against the other benders. He held his right hand upwards with his left hand beneath his elbow. Without turning around, he said quietly to the Avatar, "Bastard, you killed my mother."
His elbow lodged in the Avatar's side, causing the Avatar to crumble down in pain. Swiftly, his feet moved in a circle and a ball of air appeared in his hand. The other two seemed to see what he was doing, and they ducked as well. Pivoting his upper body just slightly, he turned 360 degrees and let out a great wave of air. It slammed into their chests, sending them flying in all directions and giving the teens a chance to escape. Without thinking too hard about the situation, Haneul followed the three as they fled.
Their path led them to an abandoned warehouse. The black haired guy carrying the girl said that the warehouse would be safe; the only person in the police who knew of its whereabouts was dead. This man sat on a crate, laying his friend down carefully on the ground. The Avatar and the brown-haired girl sat as well, but Haneul continued to stand around awkwardly.
"Was your mother in the accident?" the black haired guy spoke, looking Haneul directly in the eyes.
"Yes," he responded flatly.
"Everyone is someone's parent, or someone's child," Liwei spoke cryptically, his gaze now directed at his unconscious friend. "If you want to avenge your mother, go ahead and kill Ishio. But there will be so many others who will lose their parents to the police if he doesn't fix things."
"So many others," Haneul repeated the other's words while his gaze wandered towards the other two. Someone's son, and someone's daughter. His eyes closed and he sighed. "Every person who is missing a child or a parent wants revenge on the person responsible."
"But some understand that vengeance does not satisfy that hunger."
"Vengeance does not satisfy any hunger."
This man's words gave Haneul a shock. He recalled the words of his father, all those years ago. All those years ago... Haneul never hungered to avenge his father, because his father had always told him this wisdom. Maybe because he knew that he would be captured by the police. Or maybe because he knew his son would find himself in this situation.
No response came. Ishio stood and approached Haneul; Liwei opened his mouth in protest but could not get a word in. Standing at the same height, Ishio's burning green eyes could tear through steel. Equally, Haneul's red eyes met and held Ishio's gaze. The Avatar's hands reached up and grabbed Haneul's robe, pulling him in closer. He whispered something in Haneul's ear, and pulled his face aways a little bit.
In the next instant, the two's foreheads collided. They staggered backwards, and came in once more, right arm pulled back for a punch. Both fists collided with the others' face. Once more they pulled back, and once more they brought their fists forward and collided. Frost and Liwei watched in alarm at the display: both felt a need to step in. Haneul was obviously sickly, and it would be unwise to injure him too badly. At the same time, Haneul really wanted to kill Ishio, and he might just do that.
A couple of punches later, the two pulled back. Haneul wiped some blood off his mouth, and narrowed his eyes at Ishio. Both were breathing heavily, but Haneul took a bit longer to recover than Ishio. Finally, he stood up straight and looked Ishio in the eye once more. "Fine. I will take you to the Northern Air Temple to learn Airbending."
"What?" Liwei and Frost spoke this single word in unison, then looked at each other. Neither had 'missed something', rather these two knuckle heads had just beat the crap out of each other and now one was teaching the other Airbending.
"I'm Haneul, by the way," he introduced himself for the first time while cracking his jaw from all of Ishio's hits.
"So are we going to the Northern Air Temple now?" Frost asked in startled puzzlement.
"Not 'we', Ishio and I. Only practitioners of Airbending are allowed. As the Avatar, he is one such practitioner."
"Frost," Ishio began, standing beside Haneul now, "you, Liwei, and Ai Shi should go find Odraz. And rally more towards our cause. I'm sure there are people out there who dislike the world, but need a flag to stand under." After finishing this, Ishio added, "No matter what, in two months time we'll all meet back here, and I'll learn Waterbending."
Without another word, the two left. They still had no idea what had happened in those couple of minutes, but now they were alone.
"Look here, I need an Airbending teacher. If you want to kill me, fight me like a man. But if you can't kill me, teach me Airbending."
- Haneul means "heaven, sky" in Korean
For the collective works of the author, go here.