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Book One: Water
May 11, 2012
~ Prologue ~
A Brief History of the World:
After Avatar Korra defeated Amon and the Equalists, peace was restored to Republic City. Benders not only lived together in harmony in Republic City, but Multi-benderism spread far and wide so that the borders of each nation did not exist anymore. Since the introduction of the Satomobile, technological advances had already been increasing exponentially. There was a time where the world was in great fortune, and it seemed the fortune would never end. In the centre of this wealth stood Republic City. Avatar Ji Bao the Earthbender succeeded Avatar Korra and faced small-scale conflicts amongst a world of affluence. Renamed 'Haven,' Republic City became a driving force behind the world's economic and political issues. However, amongst these times of riches, spread out in pockets across the globe, there were groups of people against the Avatar. Secret organisations, set on gaining power and a hand on the world's riches, had the objective of destroying the Avatar – the only obstacle to their aim. Avatar Ji Bao died peacefully at his home in Haven and Avatar Kaen the Firebender succeeded him. At this time, resources were on a slow decline, and the customs of old were disappearing from society. Manufactured drugs, civil unrest and the anti-Avatar organisation were some of many challenges that faced Kaen. However, Kaen was a bit weak when it came to politics, and found it difficult to resolve conflicts between great cities. He sought advice from officials, which ultimately lead to more unrest. Avatar Kaen was nearly assassinated during his visit to Ba Sing Se, and he was advised to punish the city as a whole. Disconnected from spirituality, the wealthy and peaceful world began to crumble. With the introduction of weapons of mass destruction, some of the great cities were reduced to wasteland and many weapon-testing sites have failed to sustain any life other than tribes of barbaric people that fight to gain territory. This barren area of rubble and fighting became known as simply 'The Wasteland', and it became clear that if the unrest that plagued the world continued, The Wasteland would grow in size. The Anti-Avatarists played off this unrest and planned to remove their obstacle; the Avatar. By killing the Avatar while in the Avatar State, the Avatar cycle would be broken forever and they could hatch their plan without any major obstacles. Avatar Kaen could see the growth of the anti-Avatar movement and, following many attempted assassinations gave his own life at age 50 to better the world, after decades of wrong decisions and ignorance. The cycle turned onto an Airbender named Lyn. For years she did not know she was the Avatar, but, as a teenager, an old friend and close confidant of Kaen eventually tracked her down and told her of her duties and the dangers she faced. It was well known that it was a dangerous position to be the Avatar. As The Wasteland spread and more tribes emerged in these areas, the crime rate rose and the world became more and more disconnected with spirituality, Haven was looking like the only fully prosperous and safe stronghold left – it lived up to its name. Avatar Lyn was not only a great actress but also a highly powerful bender and could, for the most part, defend herself from any danger posed by the Anti-Avatarists – or Clandestines as they called themselves. Despite no one knowing the origins and the identity of the Clandestines, they proved to be a highly funded and highly trained force, with members spread across many reaches of the globe. It was decided amongst Avatar Lyn and her close friends that the Avatar should always be ready to give their own life if matters got out of their own hands with the Clandestines. For the most part, she lived fairly safely inside Haven, but danger always reared its head in alleyways or out in the wasteland. And, one night, these dangers proved too much for her.
The Fan-Bearer Theatre production of Opera of the Sky had been performed to a complete success. Lyn, onstage with her fellow performers and manoeuvring ribbons and other set pieces with airbending, soaked up the standing ovation with pride and a sense of connection to her troupe – whom she had worked with for months on end, and whom she had become quite close to. She looked over at Ju-dee, whose plait was almost undone and whose hairline was laced with sweat (for Opera of the Sky involved a lot of acrobatics, and was therefore physically straining). Ju-dee looked back, her big lips peeling back to reveal a toothy grin, and their eyes met. Ju-dee was by far Lyn's favourite in the troupe; they had been friends for years and, with all that was going wrong with the world, they had been through some testing situations together. They gave each other a certain energy when near one another, much like a hot day invigorates a bee in summer. Lyn was in her twenties, and much preferred performing to the ordeals of being the Avatar. It gave her time to let loose, as opposed to the confining nature of being an official in a tense upper-class, and, for some reason she could only put to in fact being the Avatar, the old stories and ancient myths presented in theatre held to her a deep connection in the midst of her gut. Something about the sanctity and tradition presented in the plays resonated with a piece of her that seemed part of something bigger. So, much like Avatar Kaen, she left quite a lot of worldly duties to the government officials, for she did not know much about politics, and this ignorance added to her disinterest. Not that she wasn't willing to knuckle down when things got tough, she knew her duties as the Avatar, and recognised that this meant that she may have to give her own life one day. Why, at this very theatre she stored a jar of pills in her dressing room if the situation presented itself.
But for now, in this moment, all she could care about was the applause and the cheering. It took her mind off the Clandestines – who had been increasing the frequency of their attempted assassinations; this year there had already been two, and it was only August. She could see the crowd standing on their feet. Grand gentlemen, glorious women and members of the elite stood, hands clapping, in wonder at the stunning performance of the all woman airbending troupe. Lyn could see tears forming in the more dramatic of women, and children's faces beaming as new dreams and aspirations for their futures formed in their minds. She thought she felt a tear streak down her white face make-up, everything was so refreshing. This is where she wanted to be, not at the top of a building deliberating the next peacekeeping mission. Here, onstage. At the back of the audience she could make out one man who was not applauding. He was dressed in a trench-cloak, she thought. Lyn could remember that a lot of the time Clandestines wore trench-cloaks, to hide their weapons, horrible machines that paralysed or made the victim fall unconscious, but she couldn't, and didn't much feel like, jumping to conclusions. He could be a man who just didn't enjoy the opera. But then, much to Lyn's horror – or perhaps disappointment – the man looked to his side and nodded. She followed the direction of his eye, which lead her to see another man walking down the aisle on the far side of the audience. She snapped her eyes to the other side, where another man was coming towards the stage. They were here again, coming to get her, to try one more time to kill her. Ju-dee noticed them too, having also become acquainted with the knowledge of the Clandestines' nature to wear trench-cloaks, and gave Lyn a look that only she could notice. Quickly yet inconspicuously, the two started to turn to leave when a shrill whirling noise pierced the air and the audience screamed in horror. The two women turned back to find the audience ducking, hands covering heads, as an Inducer disc headed towards the stage.
An Inducer was a weapon developed and used only by the Clandestines to induce the Avatar State. It was a portable firearm that shot a disc that, on contact with a body, would inject a cocktail of substances into the victim's bloodstream. These toxins would act upon the nervous system, mimicking immense cellular stress. As a defence mechanism to this stress the Avatar enters the Avatar State. In regular humans it causes severe pain and often death, as Lyn had once experienced with a close friend.
The troupe yelled in fright and managed to avoid the disc, which exploded against the back wall in a cloud of dust. Suddenly, the theatre, which was at one moment in complete euphoria, was now in a state of complete panic. Lyn and Ju-dee headed backstage towards the dressing rooms, while the rest of the troupe took refuge in the wings.
"Lyn...!" burst Ju-dee between pants.
She was slightly stockier than Lyn, and was following behind her. She knew of Lyn's duty as the Avatar, and she knew where Lyn kept her pills, but she couldn't ever bring herself to come to terms with it. Lyn had been her friend through thick and thin, and whenever Clandestines attacked, and there was a chance Lyn may have to kill herself, Ju-dee felt a gurgle in her gut and a dryness in her throat that made her deeply uneasy.
"I have to keep them on me, just in case. You know that, Dee." Lyn's voice was stern and loud, so it could be heard over the screams coming from the audience. Theatre practice had given her that benefit.
Ju-dee stopped. Her stomach had started to warn her of what was about to happen, and something about the way the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end told her it was not going to end well. Lyn, noticing no one else's footsteps behind her, turned to see a flushed-faced, forlorn-looking Ju-dee, her plain, round face staring back in sadness.
"Dee, it's going to be alright; we've handled them before.," reassured Lyn, walking towards the stocky actress.
"I know that," croaked Ju-dee, "But I feel like our luck's almost run out. It's only a matter of time before..." She couldn't continue. The end of that sentence frightened and troubled her too much to utter, she even had to avoid Lyn's eye, for fear it would be the last time she saw it.
"Look, Dee," started Lyn, beginning to sense the outcome too, "I don't know what else to do besides my duty. If I die while in the Avatar State then they win, then there's no hope." Ju-dee stirred on the spot. "I haven't been that conscientious about restoring the imbalances of the world, but if I can preserve the Avatar cycle then at least I can feel like I've done something right."
Lyn looked at the floor, the seriousness of the condition that not only she, but also the world was in hit her. Cruelty must, somehow, be replaced with compassion; greed with charity; imbalance with balance; evil with good. There were so many injustices that had befallen on the world since the times of great peace that humanity had almost lost its way. Lyn suddenly felt exhilarated, as if she had, all of a sudden, decided to finally strictly follow her duties as the Avatar, rather than spend her life on the stage. Ju-dee seemed to sense the sudden change of destiny too and began to stand up straight.
"Well then," she said bravely, "what do you want me to do?"
"Go find the other girls. Make sure they get of here safely. You too. Once you're out, stay out, and go home. Don't try and fight them. They'll come after me."
Lyn stared at her friend's face. She wished all her other friends were also here with her to say goodbye, but there was only Ju-dee. Lyn's thoughts flashed to Tyson – her brother – and Haru – her friend since birth, but the dumpy, round-faced woman not only sufficed but also seemed to her more than she could handle. Saying goodbye to Ju-dee, her faithful and resilient companion, was beyond comforting yet beyond sorrowful. Ju-dee looked up at Lyn, sniffed, and nodded hurriedly, before setting off to fulfil her task. She would not fail, despite the dry throat, the gurgling gut and the wary hairs on her neck.
Ju-dee snuck through a costume room and was gone. Now Lyn was alone. She had said goodbye to the only and last person she would see before death and now had to fight to die. However, she did not feel alone. In fact, she felt connected to the whole word. To the spiritual stories she loved to perform, and to the Avatars, past and present. She could already feel her Avatar Spirit searching out for a new Avatar, and she would protect this spirit, determine its safety, by killing herself.
Suddenly, a group of Clandestines appeared from around the corner wielding Inducers and began firing. Lyn, with her sudden drive for justice and exhilarating sense of duty, pushed her hands out in front of her and blew the inducer discs away with a magnificent gust of wind. She ran to the dressing room; shut the doors, and, using earthbending, created a wall of dense rock between the door and the room. She thought that might prove to deter them slightly but, as she headed towards the bathroom, another group of Clandestines burst through the windows on ropes. Being made almost entirely of sand, she was able to earthbend the shattered glass back towards and right through the torsos of the intruders, and ran to the bathroom, creating yet another barricade of earth. She got to the cabinet and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked ready for action. Lyn had always been an excellent fighter and even surprised herself at her own courage sometimes, but this time she sensed something different in her elegant, refined face. She could see, underneath her white face paint and bold eye-makeup, the courage of a woman – no! – of the spirit of the Avatar, crash like a storm behind her eyes. She opened the cabinet, and slipped a small jar into a pocket on the inside of her costume – a green, silk kimono, easy to dance in and, hence, easy to fight in. She inhaled, looked at herself once more in the mirror for reassurance of her destiny, and then, with a quick, forceful thrust of her arm, pushed a square piece of rock out of the wall. It crumbled into smaller pieces and fell down to the ground a few stories below. Lyn could see many Clandestines about, not laying a finger on the civilians scurrying from the theatre, but waiting for her. She heard Ju-dee shout orders somewhere, but couldn't pinpoint where she was. With a spin and flourish of her arms, Lyn bent the air around her so that it would carry her into the sky (she felt airbenders had it pretty good, seeing as they could, in theory, levitate anything, as long as they just bent the air surrounding the object).
There were benders among the Clandestines. Airbenders and firebenders – who shot flames from their knuckles or feet to propel themselves into the air – trailed Lyn into the sky.
There were about eight in pursuit of her, most armed with Inducers. Lyn was quite a good flyer and, when inducer discs were shot at her, she was able to turn around and destroy them with a ball of fire. This battle continued for about ten minutes when Lyn noticed a blimp heading towards her. She knew the end would be soon, but wouldn't give up without a fight. She swallowed a pill – there was only one in the jar – and flew up to the clouds. Using waterbending, she pulled the water out of the clouds, enveloped one of her enemies in it, froze the water, and hurled it at the blimp, which proceeded to bellow black smoke from a fiery hole in its side. Firing bursts of orange flames and gusts of wind, Lyn kept on avoiding the Inducer discs at all costs.
She could feel the effects of the pill begin to play on her body; her stomach started aching and her throat began to swell inside her neck. Within seconds she could feel a thickness in her blood travel up her spine and into her brain, her vision went blurry and Avatar Lyn died, mid-air. Plummeting to the ground from the clouds, Avatar Lyn, the Airbender had succeeded her aim. The Clandestines did not break the Avatar cycle, and the world that was once manifested in her living self, would soon be conceived in an unborn waterbender.
The body of the late Avatar, a young woman, in her late twenties, fell through the air, the silk kimono flailing, her hair suspended above her. Ju-dee gasped, struck with pain as she heard the Avatar's body hit the ground.
But, in this day and age, for every one dead, two are born...
- Word count = 2,873
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