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June 7, 2015
Iesen tightened her coat closer to herself, shivering.
Cold wind was blowing through the crowded streets of Republic City. Iesen tried to hold back her tears. This was certainly not what she had expected when she came to the Republic. She expected to find a better life here, but no one would hire a fourteen-year-old Water Tribe refugee. The town was full of those like her. She was a short and skinny girl with raven black hair and black eyes. Nothing special. Just one in the crowd. Right now, she struggled with a rough life on the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world. Wonderful.
The girl pressed her back against the wall, trying to find shelter from the wind. She sighed heavily and rubbed her hands together for warmth. A small, warm tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered how full of hope she was when she first got here.
Iesen quietly left her aunt's house. It was finally happening, she was running away. She couldn't cope with the Southern Water Tribe anymore. It was too small, suffocating her, bringing back the worst memories. But now, she was going live in Republic City, and everything was going to be different. The train stopped in the small town on the southern coast of Earth Kingdom
She woke from her reverie, stood up, and tried to find shelter somewhere by the warehouse walls. That was pretty much what she did every day. A day job for a few yuans, and then sleeping on the streets. People looked at her like she was trash. But she didn't need anyone's pity. She was strong, and she would cope with this situation. She would find a better place. She was here for almost a year. For a year she lived on the streets, in her old black coat and her aunt's leather boots that she quietly took from the closet the night she ran away. It started raining. Great.
She leaned against one dry warehouse wall, by the pile of garbage, and sighed, wiping the leftover tears off her face and trying to get comfortable.
Iesen was lying in an empty train compartment, leaning her head on her bag. She suddenly heard someone opening the door. Her eyes widened, and she swiftly hid behind some boxes. A man with a flashlight entered the compartment and glanced around, but luckily, he wasn't doing his job too well because he didn't see Iesen. She was breathing swiftly in terror. If they found her, they were going to return her home. Or worse, they could just leave her there, in the middle of nowhere. The man left, and she calmed herself. Hopefully, everything was going to be alright.
A flash in her face woke her up. A man pointed a flashlight to her face. For one horrible second, she thought that she was still on the train to Republic City, but she wasn't. She was lying by the warehouse wall. The man was wearing green goggles and a brown suit. He was still pointing a flashlight in her face.
"You girl, what are you doing here? Spying, are you?"
A truck passed by, lighting up the man's face for a second. Iesen felt like everything around her froze in that moment. It was an Equalist. Oh, she heard everything about Equalists. Meeting them in the streets was one of the only things she was scared of in the streets of Republic City.
She forced herself to stay collected. All she had to do was explain to him that she wasn't spying, and she would be fine.
"N-no, sir." Her voice cracked. "I wasn't spying, I was just looking for shelter."
"Tell that to someone else. I'm taking you to Amon. He'll know what to do with you."
Now Iesen was terrified. Amon. The leader. The fear in the shadows. The face behind the mask. She was walking to her death.
The man grabbed her roughly by her shoulders and pushed her to the door. Massive iron gates opened, and he pushed her in. Inside, there was a wooden table, as long as the room was, and about forty man were sitting around it. About forty of the highest-ranked Equalists, men and women, all staring at Iesen. She felt a rush of adrenaline taking over her actions.
"Amon, I found this girl sneaking around, so I thought you'd question her. She claims that she was just accidentally walking around," said the man who brought her in.
Amon was in the shadows, his white mask seemed to glow in the dark. Light in the dark. In fear, her worst memory came to her.
As a ten-year-old girl, she walked into her house. The second she walked in, she knew that something was wrong. The paintings were knocked off the walls, floor was covered in broken glass, and worst of all, a faint sound of crying was heard from the living room.
Amon stared at her silently.
"So?" he spoke "Were you spying?" His voice was calm and deep, and somehow comforting.
"No." She tried to sound as calm as he could.
"She's not lying," he said quietly and returned to his spot. "Are you a bender..."
"Iesen. And no, I'm not a bender." Iesen's words were almost a whisper. She didn't want to find out how Amon knew she wasn't lying. All she wanted, was to get out of that room.
Iesen entered her parents' room, the source of crying. Her eyes immediately landed on the two dead bodies on the floor. Aunt Lorena, who was sitting curled up on the floor whispered, "I'm sorry" with a cracked voice. Iesen fell down to the floor, calling her parents to wake up, but their empty, cold eyes were staring into the stars they could no longer see.
"Well, Iesen," Amon spoke, still talking in his calm, low tone. "Where do you stand on revolution?"
"Revolution?" she repeated. Cold sweat was starting to form on her forehead. "Why?"
"You said the word 'bender' with rage. You are furious, Iesen. What have benders done to you?" His eyes flashed behind his mask at the word 'bender'. Was it possible that he shared her hatred for benders, was it possible that he lost his loved ones too?
"They killed my parents," she said quickly and flatly. She's always tried to block her emotions while speaking. If people couldn't read her emotions, she was less vulnerable.
Amon leaned his masked face to his hand and heaved a sigh.
"Ah, benders. They just carry war and murders wherever they go. Don't you wonder why I wear this mask? Benders scarred me. As long as there are men stronger than others, there will be war. You would make an excellent Equalist, Iesen."
Her eyes widened with shock. There were rumors on the streets that the Equalists accepted everyone, but...
"Me? You want me to join the revolution?" She was satisfied with the hint of sarcasm in her voice. It made her sound stronger than she actually was.
"Yes. The Equalists offer you to join us. Every nonbender is welcome here. Every fighter. Every person to whom the benders have done wrong."
Iesen felt like her feet were glued to the ground. She couldn't be an Equalist, could she? Equalists were feared, they were feared even among the triads. She couldn't stand to be feared, could she?
"So, Iesen, will you accept our offer and stand by your brothers and sisters?"
Now that she heard those words, she felt that Amon was right. She found someone who would understand her. All these people felt what she felt. Now, she had a chance to avenge her parents. Iesen belonged with the Equalists. This was her calling. She would do something good, help him rid the benders of their bending, and they would finally all be equal. It was time for benders to fear her.
"I will." The tips of her lips rose into a small smile. She found her place, and her destiny. This was where she belonged.
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