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Book 3: Dawn
Chapter 12: The End, Pt. 3
Kenshin cocked his head as his daughter brandished two ice hammers. "What about your mother?"
Her turquoise eyes narrowed. "Did. You. Love. Her?"
The Spirit of Ice frowned. "I fail to see how that has anything to do with—"
"Answer me!" She cried.
He took a step forward, drawing more moisture from the air to form a massive blade. "I will not. You've no right to ask that of me."
Moro's scream caused Kenshin to shrink away as she charged at him; she rushed forward in a blind rage. As he brought his blade up to block her attack, she hammered repeatedly against the construct. To interrupt her attack, the spirit spun and caught a stream of water from the fountain, catching Moro in her chest and slamming her against the wall.
Just as she struck the side of the building, he froze the water in order to trap her. As she panted, he dissolved his blade and turned away.
"I suppose we're done here; go home, Moro."
Shen felt the wind whip by as he sailed toward Petrine's airship; he could already see it. His heart sank when he thought of what was to come.
Please, Petrine...don't do anything stupid.
Without warning, a pocket of air struck him and sent him into the wall of one of the skyscrapers. As he slid to the small edge that jutted out, he saw Petrine standing across the way on another building. She brandished her own staff.
"Hello, Shen," she said.
The young man got to his feet and made an air funnel to magnify his voice. "Petrine, I will give you one chance. Stop this violence, this death. Save our people!"
She shook her head. "I am only getting us what we rightly deserve; we will rise to be greater than those who thought they could destroy us."
"No...you've made the Air Nomads into something twisted, dark. They are no different now than Sozin was. I am begging you...end this!"
Her eyes widened. "How dare you compare me to Sozin? That monster and I have nothing in common!"
Shen leaned on his staff as it pressed against the stone beneath him. "You've sacrificed hundreds of our people to satisfy a vendetta that you persuaded them to help you carry out! Their blood is on your hands, Petrine," he frowned as he spoke, "But you can end it! You have the power to make things right and begin to atone. Turn yourself in and let Argho deal with Otokami!"
"Their deaths..." Petrine gritted her teeth. "They were the Fire Nation's fault! Not mine! Not mine!"
Shen sighed. "Please...don't make it come to this..."
She slammed her staff into the ground. "They gave their lives to end the Fire Nation's tyranny! They can't die in vain!"
A tear rolled down Shen's cheek as he replied, "Their deaths were already in vain; the Fire Nation already paid their toll. They did that a long time ago."
Petrine cried out and whipped her staff furiously at Shen, and a whirling vortex of air barreled toward him.
He spun his staff around his body, diffusing the attack as it reached him. "Damn it, Petrine," he whispered. "This is on your head, now."
Shen jumped from his perch and opened his glider, catching the wind and pulling up to meet her. His feet pressed against the building and began to propel him as he closed his glider and whipped it toward her. The air from his attack slammed the stone wall directly beneath her, which buckled and shattered under the force of his strike, and Petrine was forced to jump and use her own glider to fly over to where Shen had been. He kicked off of the wall and spun his staff around like a propeller, pushing himself back toward the skyscraper.
Shen landed on the perch, and they were now standing directly in front of one another. He pointed his staff at her.
"One. Last. Chance."
Petrine scowled before renewing her attack once more.
Lu Ten stared in the direction of the bay, toward Aang's statue and the abandoned convention hall as the dry, cold wind bit at his back. Usha stood at his side, though her own gaze was focused elsewhere.
"Lu Ten...do you feel—?"
The Protector shook his head. "Don't do it, Spirit of Dawn...you don't want to watch him die."
She whipped her head around. "Koh...is alive? Why?! Why was this kept from me?"
He sighed. "Did you really think they would let centuries pass without a balance to Order? They would've chosen a new Spirit of Chaos a long time ago had he actually died."
Usha's eyes widened. "I have to go; I must see him!"
As she turned to walk away, Lu Ten turned a placed a hand on her shoulder. "I know it is hard, Spirit of Dawn, but you know we cannot allow our human emotions to overcome our better judgment. Koh's time is either at an end, or he will destroy Argho. Either way, this fight is beyond us."
Usha frowned. "Why must I watch all of my sons fall this day? Tell me that, Lu Ten."
"They chose their paths, and they can either live or die by them. As for me," he began making his way toward the convention hall, "I have another bit of unpleasantness to attend to."
"Wait," she called out as he walked, "Will he be there to watch my son fight?"
"They all will, Spirit of Dawn; this is a potentially momentous day."
Kuan Ti looked straight at Lin Quei as he stood from his makeshift throne. "Zhan is preparing to lead the Equalists, and all nonbenders, into a glorious new age. You are still welcome to join us, Kuan Ti."
"No," the Equalist replied as he glanced around at ten of his former comrades.
"That's it? 'No.' That's all you have to say?"
"Violence against them will only make them hate us more; I tried to tell Zhan that." He removed his cloak and the guns from his belt. All ten of the men in the semicircle stood and assumed the traditional fighting stance taught to them by their master. They each put their right foot forward while getting a low stance, followed by holding their right hand forward and their left back toward their faces.
Kuan Ti inhaled and stepped into the semicircle. "So...you all believe that this spirit can lead you to paradise?" His hard gaze met each of theirs; they fidgeted as they stared at him. "No. It will bring you to ruin; it already has."
Two of them rushed him, coming at him from either side with a flurry of punches. He used only one hand for each of their two, blocking and redirecting each strike with ease before maneuvering them both in front of him. When they stood side by side, he lunged out with two swift strikes that crossed his own body, and both men went down clutching at their crushed windpipes.
When they saw their comrades go down, the sight inspired the other eight Equalists to action. They all charged simultaneously, quickly surrounding their former friend. As Kuan Ti fended off multiple blows from the front, he kicked back with his left leg as another man tried to attack from behind. The Equalist warrior clutched at his midsection and fell to his knees, only to catch a foot to the chin as Kuan Ti kicked up. The attacker fell after his neck snapped from the force of the deceptively powerful kick.
With seven of his former allies still out for his blood, Kuan Ti stopped attempting to redirect their blows and instead ducked around one of their punches and grabbed the woman's arm, pulling her directly in front of him. As she took the unintended wrath of her fellow warriors, Kuan Ti twisted completely, extending his leg in a spin-kick that connected with the jaw of yet another man. A wet pop accompanied the strike as the man's jaw dislocated; he fell to the floor, unconscious.
Before the two foes behind him could adjust their attacks to avoid hitting the comrade he'd put between them, he grabbed one of each of their flailing arms and pulled them forward. As they cried out due to the sudden forward motion, he brought both of his fists up to their noses. The sickening crunches and the free flow of blood stopped one of his forward attackers in his tracks. As the three Equalists behind him collapsed in a heap, he faced the last of his challengers: two women and a man.
They breathed heavily for a moment before noticing that their former leader seemed unfazed. Kuan Ti took the fight to them, though, tired of wasting time. As one tried to kick out to slow him, he grabbed her leg and twirled under to grip the other before flipping her into the air. As he turned toward the last two, her body hit the floor with a heavy thud. She didn't get up.
The second woman attempted to chi-block him, but her forms were well-known to him. He deflected her quick strikes, clapping her right ear when he found an opening and following up with a palm strike to her jaw.
The last man attacked as his comrade fell, and Kuan Ti simply pushed his blows aside. They came quickly, but they were predictable. He eventually intermixed his own blows, striking at open pressure points after he would push each attempted punch aside. One by one, the man's limbs fell useless, and he dropped to his knees.
Kuan Ti stared at him, taking in his expression of horror with a mixture of sorrow and disappointment.
The Equalist leader launched his knee into the man's chin, causing his head to snap backward. As the body fell, he turned back to Lin Quei.
"Now, I'll ask one more time: Where is Zhan?"
The spirit motioned toward the shadows, and a lightly armored, hooded figure stepped into view. Kuan Ti's eyes widened as he noticed something.
Zhan was wearing Amon's mask.
No further words were exchanged between the spirits engaged in battle; limbo shook with the force of their attacks.
Argho kicked up a chunk of earth twice his size and whipped it toward Koh's head as the Spirit of Chaos was focused on Kuruk. When the rock connected, Kuruk intercepted the spirit with a powerful air blast as he reeled from Argho's attack.
As the Face Stealer slid along the ground, he attempted to fend off Yangchen and Roku with the legs near the rear of his long body. The sharp, chitinous appendages moved as if controlled by a mind of their own, stabbing at the Avatars with murderous intent. The Airbender dipped and weaved around the erratic attacks with ease, while the Firebender kept several of the legs away by thrusting fire at them repeatedly.
A rumbling sounded along the odd world as Kyoshi raised herself up on an earthen pillar and brought up two large stones with her. When she was far above her fellow Avatars, she brought the two rocks together as one and increased the density by pushing her palms together. When it was thick enough, she violently opened both of her palms, splitting the dense construct into miniature stone bullets. Said projectiles ripped into Koh's armor, some slipping into the cracks.
Black blood spewed from his injuries, and it poured profusely from his face after taking Argho and Kuruk's abuse.
"Well...played, but even if I lose today, you cannot kill me!"
A popping sound, accompanied by a symphony of pain, caused the spirit to scream, and he turned his body to find one of his legs lying on the ground in a pool of blood. Yangchen stood next to the appendage, twirling an air ball in her hand.
"I imagine that hurt; you can end this by surrendering."
Koh chuckled. "I would never stoop so low, especially—"
Fire erupted along his left flank, incinerating three more legs. Korra smirked as the Face Stealer cried out once more.
"You're outnumbered and hilariously outgunned here," she said. "I'd do what Yangchen suggested."
Koh's laugh was deep, and it only grew louder. "This is but a minor setback. I will triumph one way or another."
He lunged at Argho, intent on breaking the connection with limbo, but pillars of earth shot out and pushed into his side all along his massive body. As he slowed, the earth itself seemed to rise up to meet and wrap around him.
The current Avatar frowned as Koh stretched, attempting to break from his earthen prison. The glow in his eyes intensified, and white fire wrapped around his hands.
"I'm done listening to your prattle, spirit." Argho clenched his fists, causing fire to fly from them with explosive force. "Immortal or otherwise, come back from this!"
Flames flew from his feet, propelling him toward the Spirit of Chaos, and his fist was coated in a bright fire. As he reached Koh, the spirit broke free and attempted to intercept him. Argho's strike buried itself into Koh's face with explosive force, and flames spewed in every direction as the spirit screamed.
When the smoke cleared, all seven Avatars stood in a semicircle around Koh's body. The spirit sputtered and attempted to push himself up on his remaining legs. His attempts failed.
He had a smile on his face regardless. "How many times do I have to tell you, Avatar? You cannot destroy me!"
Argho scowled. "I am more than willing to try."
"You will not have to, Argho; that is our prerogative," a deep voice said.
All seven Avatars turned to see four incredible figures standing in their midst. Roku, Aang, and Yangchen bowed low, while Korra, Kuruk, Kyoshi, and Argho remained standing.
Argho addressed the glowing figure that stood out in front of them, "So, you're the Shinigami, then."
The glowing spirit nodded. "You finally know my name; though I am surprised you discovered this fact from someone other than Raava."
Argho allowed the glow to fade from his eyes. "Raava has never seen fit to address me. I suppose she feels that the instruction from my recent past is enough." He glanced at the other three spirits.
Ah, yes. These," he gestured to the other three spirits, "Are my fellow councilmembers." The Shinigami gestured to the first, a tree-like spirit with multiple faces. "This is the Spirit of Order, Koh's opposite. She is known as the Mother of Faces. This," he motioned to a dark circular mass with tentacles spiraling along its edge and a single green eye in the middle, "is the current Spirit of Darkness. Vaatu's ways, much like those of the second Spirit of Chaos, required that he be replaced. Finally, seeing as Raava now resides in you as a representative of balance, a new spirit of light was created from her essence."
A light, distinctly female voice met Argho's ears. It belonged to a stark white quadrupedal spirit. "I am Hikara; I spawned from what remained of Raava's light when Vaatu—"
"Enough, Hikara," the Spirit of Darkness admonished.
Argho glanced at the Shinigami, but the glowing figure simply turned his gaze on Koh's pitiful state.
"You're forgetting someone," Koh said, a frown forming on his face.
The Spirit of Order spoke instead, "We'll get to that. Your judgment will come soon enough. I have been waiting for this day, Face Stealer, the day when you would overstep your bounds."
The Shinigami took a step forward, and the strange plants grew and withered as before. "We are here for one purpose: to pass judgment."
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