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Book 1, Escape
July 12, 2012
With the arrival of Tenzin's family, John realizes that he cannot stay at the South Pole forever, and plans an escape to Republic City with Korra.
"Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" came the exited questions of a young girl as the large flying bison passed over the compound walls.
"Yes Ikki, as I've been saying for the past fifteen minutes we are, finally, here," said Tenzin as the bison touched down, ignoring his son gnawing on his head. John stood next to Katara as they waited for the family to dismount. Korra stood a little ways behind them, nervous about meeting the only Airbending master in the world again.
"Hello mother," said Tenzin, being serious in his greeting and ignoring his daughters riding air scooters down the tail of the bison. Katara reached up and plucked her grandson from Tenzin's head.
"Unhand me strange woman!" the boy shouted, squirming around in his grandmother's hands.
"That's your Grandmother, Meelo," said Tenzin before he turned his attention to John.
"I have not seen your face in many years," he said. John crossed his arms as he looked on at Tenzin.
"You've gotten taller," he said. The two stared each other down for a moment before John bowed his head slightly, and after another moment Tenzin returned the bow.
"Gran Gran, I've been reading about all of your old adventures. And I've been dying to ask you, what happened to Zuko's mom?" asked Jinora.
"Well Jinora it's an incredible tale-" Katara started but was interrupted as Ikki started chattering and jumping up and down in place. While Tenzin went to help his pregnant wife off of the bison, Jinora studied John slightly.
"I think I've seen you somewhere before," she said. John shot her a glance while he sized up Tenzin.
"I doubt that," he replied. The young girl remained quite, but still studied him. A blast of air rushed past as Meelo airbended a snowman, showing his mother that he was a "snowbender". John rolled his eyes slightly, but was amused by the behavior of the Airbending children. According to his father, who was an Airbender himself, they were the only ones left in this world. But time had obviously passed a lot in this world, as the last time he had seen the Airbending master he had been his age.
"Korra?" Tenzin asked, taking notice of the teenager. Korra, eyes wide and bright, ran forward to great him. Silently excusing himself, John took a few steps back before he turned and walked into the mess hall. He removed his coat before he walked over and sprawled out on a bench. In less than a minute, he was out like a light.
When he awoke again, he felt a tugging coming from one of his shoulder holsters.
"I can't get it out," said one of the girls.
"Try pulling on that flap," said the other. Then the gun they were tugging on slid out of the holster. John's eyes snapped open and he found himself staring down the barrel of one of his guns. The middle child, Ikki, was struggling to keep the weapon aloft with its weight. John suddenly scurried back, knocking the child to the floor as he sat up.
"Ikki!" snapped her father as he took notice of what was going on. The two girls left the gun lying on the floor while they almost seemed to snap to attention. John stood while Tenzin walked over and picked up the firearm, holding the barrel in his hand.
"What did I tell both of you about playing with John while he slept?" Tenzin asked.
"Not to," both children murmured, looking at their shoes. Tenzin knelt in front of the children and held the gun up.
"This is not a toy, in fact it is one of the deadliest weapons that has ever been introduced to this world," he said before he handed the weapon, handle first, to John. Jinora looked up at her father.
"But according to Gran Gran's old adventures the only weapon that fits that description is a gun, and the only one who can make it deadly is a Gunslinger," she said. Tenzin sighed as he looked at his oldest child.
"That is a gun, Jinora. And John is a Gunslinger." The young girl's eyes went wide with fascination, but John wasn't happy in the least.
"It doesn't take someone like me to make a gun deadly. It only takes a fool to point it in the right direction and pull the trigger. If she had gotten it off safety and the gun went off, well there'd be one less Gunslinger in the world," he said. Jinora glared at her younger sister.
The table was being set for the evening meal. Everyone quickly took a place around the table, with John and Korra sitting next to each other.
"John, what did I say about weapons at the table?" asked Katara.
"With the children around, I think its best that I wear my guns while we eat," he said. As if to prove his point, Meelo went zooming behind him while riding an air scooter. After a moment, the elderly woman nodded in agreement.
"I've read about Gran Gran's old adventures, they mention a Gunslinger by the name of Lee toward the end of the Hundred Year War. Did you ever meet him?" Jinora asked. John nodded slightly as he dipped a roll in his soup.
"Yea, I knew him," he said.
"How? Did he present you with your guns? Did you know him well?" John sighed as he let the roll sink slightly into the seaming liquid.
"Yes, and yes," he answered, slightly irritated by the questioning.
"Was he your mentor? What was he like?" John shot a look across to the table to Katara, trying to show that he wasn't comfortable. But she just motioned for him to answer.
"He was, well, he was a lot like Tenzin, rather calm and serious. But he was always quiet. There would be times where he would just sit and look at Mom, like he was afraid of loosing her," he said. Jinora shot a glance at her father and mother, putting two and two together.
"He was your father," said Korra, putting a voice to the silent conclusion. John simply nodded as he picked his roll out of his soup and began to eat again.
"So is there any bending where you come from? What's your element?" Ikki began to question. John literally dropped his roll and slapped his face with the palm of his hand.
"Yes Ikki, there is bending where he comes from. As for his element, I do not know, as he has never really showed it off," said Katara. John stuck up his left hand and snapped his fingers. A single flame, like that of a match or a lighter, sprang up. The children stared in awe before he lowered his hand and allowed the flame to dissipate.
A few hours after supper, Korra sat in her room angrily, staring out the window. The White Lotus guards were stationed outside of her door, but not in the room with her. She had received the news that Tenzin would not be staying, and would be unable to teach her Airbending.
"So, are you going to Republic City?" came a voice out of the shadows, causing Korra to jump. She watched as John melted out of the shadows.
"How did you get in here?" she asked. He simply shrugged.
"I have my ways, now tell me, are you going to Republic City?" he asked. Korra turned and looked out of the window again.
"I have to find my own path as the Avatar, I need that training," she said. John walked forward and placed his hand on her shoulder.
"I don't doubt that, which is why I'm going with you," he said. Korra looked at him, slightly confused.
"I left my world a hunted man, I might as well go to the big city with the most powerful bender on the planet," he said. Korra blushed slightly at the compliment and returned to looking out window.
"How to we get out of the compound?" she asked.
"You're a Waterbender and Earthbender on a continent made out of both. Wait until tomorrow night after Tenzin leaves, and then we'll tunnel our way out of the compound," he replied. Korra grinned slightly and clapped him on the shoulder.
"Think you can keep up tough guy?" John grinned.
"I'm a Gunslinger and the son of an Avatar, I think I can keep up pretty well."
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