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|Rumors of Wars|
Book 3: Dawn
Chapter 5: Rumors of Wars
Kinzoku opened his eyes quickly, realizing what had occurred. The Avatar had beaten him without breaking a sweat. He glanced around the room, which he immediately recognized as one of the interview rooms in the police department.
The door to the room opened, and the Air Nation Councilor walked in, along with the Avatar, and sat down across from him. "It's good to see that you're awake, Chief Kinzoku."
He groaned as he tried to sit up in his chair, only to find that some residual pain remained. "What...what in the world happened to me? You..." His gaze fell on Argho's face. "You defeated me without even trying..."
"I am not a young girl in an unfamiliar city, Chief." Argho smirked. "You're dealing with a fully-realized Avatar."
"I can see that...even still, you have to answer for a good many things. Not the least of which is the fact that you are traveling with Equalists."
Ula folded her hands in front of her. "They are the Avatar's allies; his word is enough for the City Council to allow them in our city, despite the law."
Kinzoku shook his head. "I refuse. They can rot in jail for all I care; the Equalists attempted to eradicate bending. I cannot allow them to run free in my city."
"Forgive me, Chief," Argho stood. "But if you were under the impression that I was asking you to release them, you are crying in the rain. I'm going to have them released. Kuan Ti and his men are trying to atone for the mistakes of Amon, and they are trying to foster true equality."
As the Avatar turned his back to the officer and began to leave, Kinzoku narrowed his eyes. "Avatar or not...you will not usurp my authority. Face me like a man, Argho!"
Argho didn't even turn around. "To what end? Talk to the City Council if you have a problem. Or better yet, discuss it with any one of the rulers of the four nations if you want someone to cry to. Your prejudice is no better than Amon's was, Chief; you just haven't gone to his lengths yet. Keep that in mind."
The wind howled, and the sound was still present even through the metal walls. Zhan paced from one end of their cell to the other.
"How quick were they to arrest us, Kuan Ti, despite our protests?!"
The Equalist leader shrugged. "To be fair, we were breaking the law, regardless of our motives."
Zhan raised an eyebrow. "Why are you so calm?"
"Because I know we've made the right choice. Even if it takes decades, I intend to fully regain the trust of the people of Republic City, and with Argho's help, it just might be possible in my lifetime."
"I wish I had your confidence. If you want my opinion, benders have only gotten worse in their treatment of us."
Kuan Ti scowled. "Where is this coming from, Zhan?"
He sighed. "Our master was killed by an Airbender, and this Metalbender seeks to drive us away, even though we are trying to help. You might think that two incidents are not enough, but I disagree. Our master's death should've proven my point well enough!"
"What would you have us do? Become like Amon? Try to forcibly remove bending from the equation?"
"There has to be a way for us to show that we'll not be pushed around anymore; I intend to find it."
The Equalist leader narrowed his eyes. "Zhan...my friend...we will show them by being different from our past. That is the only way."
Footsteps echoed down the hall, and Argho's bold voice reverberated throughout the cell block. "Kuan Ti, is that you?"
He grinned. "Yeah, Argho, it's us. And, don't worry, we're fine."
The Avatar walked in front of their cell, along with Rioku. "I didn't worry; now, let's get you two out of here."
Kuan Ti raised an eyebrow. "Where's Shen...where's Moro?"
"They decided to explore the city." Argho gripped the metal door and pulled it off of the hinges without effort.
"What, no key?" Zhan asked.
Rioku chuckled. "The chief decided not to give us one; not that it mattered."
Argho stepped through the sea of Republic City police officers, having passed Kinzoku's unconscious body off to one of his men. Upon seeing Shen and Rioku, his grin widened, but Moro Kenshi's presence quickly killed his good mood.
"Avatar Argho, it is an honor to meet you." A woman, that he had failed to notice stepped forward and bowed. "My name is Ula, and I am the Air Nation Councilor here in Republic City."
The Avatar reciprocated her bow. "You must be Shen's mother. He told me that she was on the council, and it seems you fit that description. It is truly an honor to meet you; you should be proud of your son."
She smiled. "I most certainly am, but he has told me some disturbing things about the situation at hand. I assume once you've gotten your friends released, we can all discuss what is coming?"
Argho nodded. "Indeed, but first..." He glanced at the two teenagers. "I must speak with Shen and Moro, privately. After that," his gaze set on Rioku, "...you and I are going to have a conversation you will not enjoy."
The one-eyed Earthbender smirked. "Looking forward to it."
Argho rolled his eyes and began to walk away, motioning for Shen and Moro to follow. When they reached a safe distance, away from prying ears, he faced them.
"I do not know why you made the choices you did...both of you. Shen, I think that—"
"Can I say something first?" Shen interrupted. "Moro had nothing to do with my running off."
Argho rubbed his temple. "Yes, she did, but not in a direct sort of way. She was the catalyst for what I believe was a rash decision."
The Airbender exhaled. "I believe it was the right one, rash or not."
Moro furrowed her brow. "I'm inclined to agree with Argho; I don't think that you thought it through."
"What makes you think that?" Shen asked.
"Because, as much as she is trying to atone, we cannot trust Moro around Susanowo, or where her brother is concerned." The Avatar folded his arms.
The young man glanced at the Waterbender, and she returned his gaze. "Does that mean that you think it isn't the right decision?"
Moro nodded. "Yes, it does. I...as much as I wish I could disagree, I nearly killed you. I tried to tell you before, but..."
Shen cocked his head. "I'm really stubborn, or so I've heard..." He sighed. "Argho...I think Moro and I need time to talk. Go get Kuan Ti and Zhan; we'll meet you at the police department."
The awkward silence as Shen and Moro walked down the street was crushing; neither was willing to take much more. The Waterbender broke the silence first.
"Why are you so interested in helping me? We both know that it's a bad idea; besides, I need to go after Kyrie alone...I'm the only one who can save him."
"That may be, but I'm still going to help however I can. I reserved trust in the very beginning—"
She frowned. "You should've stayed that way..."
"Moro...you aren't letting me finish. I reserved trust because I was afraid...afraid I would...come to rely on you, and I didn't want to when...when I knew what Susanowo would do. The moment that you defied him, I celebrated with you, because I knew that it wouldn't plague you anymore."
The Waterbender winced. "I wish that was the case."
Shen groaned. "This is...you're not listening."
"Because you're not thinking, Shen! If it wasn't for Argho, you'd be dead, and it would be my fault!"
"I don't care, Moro! I don't care because I know why!"
She furrowed her brow. "What?"
The Airbender gripped her shoulders, causing her to try and pull back reflexively. "Susanowo used Kyrie against you, on top of everything else that you've had to deal with. He used all of it to confuse you, to make you believe that this was the only way that you could save your brother! How can I put all of the blame on you for that?" His eyes watered as he struggled to regain composure. "The truth is...I was...scared...and guilty. I ran it through in my head I don't know how many times...and I always wondered if there wasn't something that could be done."
Moro stared at him for a moment before it became a glare. "Are you insane? Why would you do that? It was my fault, my mistake! That's...that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"
"I thought you were lost, Moro...I thought he had you..." Shen released her from his grip. "And I'm just glad you're safe."
She eyed him carefully. "So...you came because you felt guilty?" A sigh escaped her lips. "Shen, I am so sorry for what I did, but I need to deal with Kyrie. He needs my help. I can't...I have to confront Susanowo again, and I have to do it alone."
"Why alone?" He asked.
"Because...I don't want to hurt anyone else, least of all you."
For the second time in weeks, he flashed a genuine smile. "I'm not going to let you face Susanowo alone, Moro Kenshi. You need help, whether you'll admit it or not."
"But I...what if I let him get inside my head again?"
Shen's heart skipped a beat; the reality of his decision was now in full focus. He narrowed his eyes. "You've resisted his control before; you can do it again."
"You have more faith than I do, but, seeing as you're incredibly stubborn, I guess I don't have much of a choice..." A small smile graced her pale features. "Fine. But if we do this together, I want to make sure we get rid of Susanowo's leverage. We have to get Kyrie first."
The Airbender nodded. "Good idea...but how exactly do we do that?"
She shrugged. "I don't know yet. We'll wait and see where they are and what Susanowo's plans are for Republic City." Her red eyes stared into his. "And Shen...thanks."
He grinned. "Thank me after we've told Argho the plan; he might decide to just disown us."
"So...do you want me to do something about Moro Kenshi?" The Northern Water Tribe Councilman fidgeted as the Spirit of Tempests stood before him, staring out of his apartment window.
"No, if she comes to try and claim her brother, I will deal with her. As it is, I have neither the time nor the energy to hunt her down. My own brother will be coming, courtesy of your council and the rulers of the Four Nations. I must prepare for our inevitable confrontation."
Kulok bowed low. "I am sorry that I was unable to prevent the City Council from allowing Argho and his team to set up shop; I am aware they gave you some trouble."
"Some trouble? That is...putting it mildly. They've killed or converted my Chosen, minus Kyrie Kenshi, and the Avatar singlehandedly killed almost one hundred of your kinsmen, my people, when he brought down my airship."
"So...what do you want me to do?"
The spirit scowled. "Gather any Waterbenders loyal to you and send them to Kenshin; he can train them to take the place of those we lost in the North, at least in some capacity. I still intend to go to the Southern Tribe and bring them under a unified banner; it will be best for the Water Tribe as a whole."
"Yes, Lord Susanowo."
His red eyes narrowed. "I will ensure our prosperity, and no spirit will stand in my way for long."
Argho sat outside of the police department with Kuan Ti, Rioku, and Zhan. Ula had returned to her apartment, and Kinzoku still seethed inside the building.
"He'll get over it. I wouldn't worry too much." Rioku said.
"I would worry about our impending conversation, my friend. We still need to discuss your decision."
The Earthbender grinned. "You keep saying that like it's a threat, but I've always relished our little talks, Argho. If you want, I can give you a very compelling reason right now as to why I didn't stop them."
"Oh, this should be good." Kuan Ti replied.
The Avatar smirked and shook his head. "I should've expected this. Go on; dazzle me."
"Very well. I aided them in their journey because they needed to come to an understanding. I saw a desire to change in both of them, and, had they simply parted ways, nothing beneficial would've occurred. When I noticed that Shen was leaving, I decided to accompany them, in part to make sure that they didn't do anything rash, but...I also did so to show support for their decision."
Argho stroked his beard. "I see. You did make a good point, but I am still incredibly wary of Moro Kenshi's allegiance."
Kuan Ti nodded his assent. "I'm of a mind with Argho on that one; she is all over the place."
Rioku sighed. "I would've agreed with you, perhaps, a week or two ago, but I've seen the way they've interacted with one another. She has done nothing but try to atone, and the fact that she's tried to steer Shen's trust away only makes me respect her. She understands her limitations and faults, and she is trying to change."
"Even still—" The Avatar began.
"Since I am no longer your apprentice, Argho, I feel like I can say this without overstepping my bounds." The one-eyed Earthbender interrupted. "Moro has learned from her mistakes. Have you?"
Her white hair floated behind her as the wind blew past the bench she sat on. Republic City was relatively quiet as the afternoon had worn on, but that would change soon enough.
"It scares you." Lu Ten materialized on the bench next to her, an act that would've startled anyone else. "The idea that your sons are about to commit grievous errors in judgment that will cost lives. He will have no choice but to involve himself if they continue."
The Spirit of Dawn exhaled. "I have strayed from my duties, Lu Ten...and I am feeling weary. I am wondering if it would not be best to just wash my hands of the matter and allow the Shinigami to exact the Council's justice."
"You defended Koh, despite what you knew to be true about him. Why change now? Are not Susanowo and Otokami your sons also?"
"I defended Koh because...when he died...I felt like my only chance to repair my family was to bring them together over his destruction."
Lu Ten shook his head. "Koh manipulated your family for millennia, you and Susanowo both. If I remember correctly, Otokami was the only one that he didn't try to use in his games."
"Otokami was far better than either Susanowo or myself...or so I thought. Now it seems even he's committed great sins..."
"You cannot blame yourself for the deterioration of your family. Koh is a manipulator; it's what he does."
Usha glanced at the Protector. "What are you talking about?"
"I'll see you soon, Spirit of Dawn." He stood and put his hands in his pockets. "Count on it."
- So, it's not quite halfway through Book 3 yet, but it's getting there. Unfortunately, that means that this fanon project is nearing its end. *Sniff*
- Koh has caused nothing but trouble in my fanons, hasn't he?
- What does Rioku mean? How will Argho respond? Tune in
next week whenever I finish the next chapter to find out!
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