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Book 2: War
June 18th, 2013
Lin asks John for help. John speaks to the Refugees.
The mid morning air was crisp as the small group made their way to the square. It helped to keep John awake, as he had been awake for over twenty four hours. None of the Refugees were on the street, but noise reverberated off of the buildings around them, indicating that a large crowd was somewhere ahead of them.
"John Rider," came a voice from overhead and behind them. As they spun around, Lin Beifong landed in front of them. Behind her came a Guard, his hand holding his hat to his head as he came running.
"I'm sorry sir, I tried to stop her at the gate but she just went up and over me," he panted, sweat running down his face. John brushed past Mako and Asami, stepping out before the group.
"Join the others in the square, trooper," he replied. The Guard snapped a quick salute before he took off down the street in the direction they had originally been going. Turing his attention back to the chief of police, John waited until her cables had fully retreated into the housing on her back.
"What can I do for you Chief?" he asked.
"I want to talk to you, in private." Turning back to look at the others, John motioned for them to go on without him. When they were out of earshot, he turned back again.
"What is it Lin?"
"I'm not going to sugar coat it John, the police force needs help in providing security. Benders are being kidnapped from all over the city, and we don't have the numbers to counter it," Lin said.
"You want the Refugees to provide security and fill in the gaps for your men." It wasn't a question. Lin gave a short, simple nod as an answer. John sighed and covered his face with his hands, doing an oddly shaped stretch.
"You'll have your answer by noon," he finally answered, turning away and walking to the square.
People were jam paced into the small square, standing shoulder to shoulder and looking toward the center. The crowd parted like the red sea before him as he walked to the center, all eyes on him. When John reached the center and stood upon a simple wooden crate, he took a moment to study every face around him. In the front row stood all of his friends, both from his world and this one.
"I'm not going to pass off to any of you that I'm some general or great leader. As you can see, I'm just a teenager, an orphan like many of you. The only reason that I'm up here and not one of you is because I was born into the right family. I don't believe that I am the one who should be up here, haven't since the day Commander Leon informed me that I'm in command of all Gunslinger Forces in the Republic City area." He paused, gathering his thoughts before he continued.
"I called you all here this morning because of the roamers and questions that have been going around. Many of you have been asking why we are here. Why are we not back home finishing this war against The Grandmaster? Well I'm not going to feed you some story about "how we need to maintain peace wherever we are" or any crap like that. The simple fact is that the reason we are here is survival. All of you could have seen that unless something was done, we would have been destroyed."
He paused again, both for dramatic effect and to take a breather.
"If you came here because you wanted to support me for what The Grandmaster did, you better reeducate yourself or find a way home, because that is not why we are here. We're here because we support what my father supported: peace between Benders and Non Benders. Now obliviously some amongst us didn't share that view. What happened last night cannot happen again if we are to survive. We must stand together, and stand strong. Because the moment we start fighting amongst ourselves, our enemy, either is this world or the last, will destroy us.
"Now there is not a whole lot that we can do about the situation back home right now. But we can make a difference here. This morning, Chief Beifong approached me and asked in person if we could provide assistance to the Police Force. Now I intend to lend her a hand. But that is just me. Whether or not any of you throw in your lot is up to you. I'm not giving any order or telling anyone what to do about this. I'm asking, plain and simple. There will be no punishment to anyone who decides against helping, everyone who participates will be doing it of their own free will."
A silence fell over the square as John stopped speaking. It quickly became clear that he was asking if anyone wanted to help. Finally, Leon stepped forward.
"The Hellraiser Brigade support Colonel Rider's goals here in Republic City," he declared. Roland stepped forward as well, his face rap still hiding all but his eyes.
"As does the Engineer Corps." The redheaded young man that Korra recognized from the Refugees' first night in the city stepped out of the crowd.
"The Irish Platoon supports the good Colonel!" he declared, his Irish accent ringing out. Eve stepped up next to the others, her eyes looking up to her boyfriend.
"So does the medical division." John looked out over the crowd, turning on the spot so he could see everyone.
"Who else will join us?" he asked. A universal shout went up from the crowd, coupled with their fists being thrust into the air. The grin that showed on his face was wide as it sunk in that he had full support.
"There will be a sigh up sheet for various duties around the city in the communication post. Dismissed!" As the crowd began to dissipate, John leapt down from the crate and approached his friends.
"Not bad Colonel, not bad at all," said Roland. Now that he wasn't in front of everyone, his exhaustion was far more obvious. It showed in his face and his eyes, as well as his shoulders which were bent forward slightly.
"I hope so, cause there's a bottle of pain meds and a cot calling my name."
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