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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Drama||PG-13||Positive||N/A|
|The Assassin's Epilogue|
Feng was running as fast as he could, bolting through the mountainous landscape. It was a race against Bai Lung to get back to Republic City first and Suki did not intend to come in second.
"What if it's already gone by the time we get there?" asked Ling, voicing the concern everyone else had, but was too afraid to bring up. "It won't be," said Suki. "It can't be."
Finally, the city came into view. Half expecting to see a smoking crater in the midst of a collage of ruined buildings, each of the heroes breathed a sigh of relief as they witnessed Republic City looking just the way they left it.
"Thank the spirits it's still here," said Rong.
"It may not be for long if we don't get down there and do something," said Bo. "We have to evacuate the city."
"You're right," said Suki. "We'll tell the council to start an evacuation immediately." The Kyoshi Warrior whipped Feng's reigns once more and sped into the city.
The eel hound weaved his way through traffic, dodging carriages and pedestrians as he sped to Police Headquarters.
Finally, he made it there and each of the members of Team Avatar atop the eel hound's back were somewhat stunned to see Toph standing out front with two rows of metalbending police officers.
"You made it back," said Suki, pleased to see her friend alive.
"Yeah," said Toph. "And we've got a huge problem."
"We know," said Bo. "Bai Lung is coming."
"Not that," said Toph. "Something else is happening."
"What?" asked Ling, puzzled by the Police Chief's words.
"It's Hong Shu," said Toph. "He's about to enter his endgame."
Completely distracted from any other thought, Suki stepped down off of Feng and approached Toph, a deadly solemnness expressing itself through her expression. "How do you know this?"
"We picked up these two after me, Aang, and Zuko got back," Toph said.
The officers in the front row moved aside, allowing two of the officers in the back row to bring forth their captives.
Each of the members of Team Avatar present knew these captives all too well and Suki knew them best of all. "What are you two doing here?" she asked.
"Why do you ask questions you already know the answer to?" asked Ju.
"I thought you two were dead," Suki said.
"Aang managed to save us from the nightmare gas in time," said Raijin.
"Listen to me very closely," Suki said, the graveness in her voice even made Toph uneasy. "I am going to kill Hong Shu. You are going to stay out of my way or else I will fucking end you."
"You don't scare me, bitch," Ju retorted.
"That's your own fault," Suki replied, grabbing her by the throat and ripping her free of the officer's grip.
She shoved her opponent's head into the pavement, prompting Raijin to break free from his captor's grip and unsheathe his sword, holding it at her neck.
"You kill her, you die next," he warned.
Suki remained still, weighing her options. She didn't have much choice. She had to kill Hong Shu and being killed herself wasn't going to accomplish that. Had she released her grip a few moments sooner, Raijin would not have made the most generous offer he was about to make. "We can take you to our boss," he said. "She'll tell you everything you need to know. Just let her go."
Suki unclenched her fists from around Ju's throat, prompting her to take in a large gasp of air as she sat up. The first words she spoke upon getting her breath back were, "You didn't have to do that."
"Yes, I did," Raijin replied. "She was going to kill you."
"You don't actually believe you're coming with us, are you?" asked Ju.
"You better believe she is," Toph spoke up. "The only reason I didn't order my officers to take out your boy here is because I could tell he was panicked. If you two try anything else, you'll be down and out before you even know what's going on."
Ju glared intensely at the police chief, defeated. "Fine," she conceded. "Come with us, Suki."
"We're going with you," said Bo, stepping off of Feng.
"No," said Ju. "She's the only one that needs to come."
"Yeah, right," said Rong. "Like we'd let that happen."
"You have our word she won't be harmed," said Raijin.
Everyone looked to Toph, waiting for her decision. The ninja duo led their rival away following Toph's approving nod.
Ju and Raijin had lead Suki to a small, but modest home in the slums of the city. "This is where your boss is?" asked Suki, suspicious of her rivals' true motives.
"She isn't just our boss," said Ju. "She's our mother."
"Your mother?" Suki repeated.
"Yes," Raijin replied. "Ju is her biological daughter and I am her adopted son."
"Is this your home?" Suki inquired.
"No," said Ju. "We just came into the city yesterday after learning of Hong Shu's new plan."
"Alright, let's go," said Suki, stepping through the door.
Upon entering the home, she saw two women seated at a small, wooden table. One of them was a woman dressed in black in her mid-forties and the other was a blonde woman the same age dressed in green, traditional Earth Kingdom attire.
"Well, goodness!" said the blonde woman before she had even lifted her head to look at them. "What took you so long? We were starting to get worried you had-" she spied Suki and all of the life left her face. She acted as though she had seen a ghost. She slowly got up and approached the confused Kyoshi Warrior. She placed both of her hands on either of Suki's cheeks and a tear ran down her face. "It's you," she said. "Oh, my goodness, I can't believe how much you've grown." She suddenly embraced Suki in a hug, much to her dismay.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"My name is Ming," said the woman. "I'm your mother."
This revelation shocked every living soul in the room, other than the other woman seated at the table.
"My what?!" Suki asked, perplexed to the highest degree.
"Her what?!" Ju queried.
"All of you sit down," Ming said. "We have a lot to discuss."
The three warriors did as instructed and sat down at the table.
"Mom, what are you talking about?" asked Ju. "I'm your only daughter."
"Yeah, and I knew my mother and father," said Suki. "Their names were Hana and Tenshi and they raised me on Kyoshi Island until they died at sea."
"Just listen for a minute, darlings," said Ming.
Everyone remained silent just as Ming requested, awaiting some kind of explanation.
"When I was eighteen years old, I enlisted in the Earth Kingdom Army," Ming began. "My assignment was to eliminate a Fire Nation General named Reiko, who was building a machine that would have won the Fire Nation the war. There were three men who accompanied me on this task. One of them was Hong Wu. We succeeded in our mission and discovered that Reiko believed in a prophecy that stated a mighty conqueror would rise up and eradicate anyone in his path, the prophecy that Bai Lung believes to be about him. During the mission, we met Hana and Tenshi and Hong Wu helped deliver their child. After we accomplished our mission, the two of us fell in love."
It was becoming increasingly difficult for everyone to accept this, but they kept listening as Ming kept painting her verbal picture.
"After that, we encountered a man whom we both desired to learn from," she continued. "The man known as Jun. He said he could teach us many great things and that he would make sure we stayed together forever. One day he gave us a task. He said we had to kill three people. The first was Hong Wu's own father. The second was a Fire Nation General named Mangkr. While completing the second task, we came across a woman named Mitsuki who sacrificed her life to save us. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't still be here. And, unbeknownst to us until we completed the first two tasks, the third task was to kill each other. Whoever was strong enough to kill the other person would be his one and only apprentice. Hong Wu pretended to murder me and I faked my own death. After that, we never saw each other again. We were engaged. I never even got the chance to tell him I was pregnant."
The tension in the room was as palpable as could be, but still, the three warriors listened.
"I gave birth to twins," Ming kept on. "But I could only take care of one of them. I was too weak and I had nowhere to go. I left one of them with Hana and Tenshi on Kyoshi Island and entrusted them with raising her. I named one of them Suki, in honor of the woman who saved my life and I named the other Song Wu in honor of her father."
"So... am I-?" Ju asked, trembling at the realization that her worst enemy's blood was coursing through her veins.
"Yes," Ming said. "Your birth name is Song Wu. I raised you as Ju, because I didn't want you to know who your father was. I told you that Hong Wu killed your father and siblings, but Hong Wu is your father and Suki is the only sibling you have."
"You mean I'm-" Suki started.
"You two are sisters and you are both my daughters. And I am so sorry for the horrible lives you've both lead to get to this moment." The woman was sobbing. The amount of grief she felt was indescribable. "I'm so sorry for all of this."
"And who are you?" whispered Suki, referring to the other woman seated at the table.
"My name is Mera," said the other woman. "I'm Hong Wu's twin sister. Ming found me when you were about eleven or twelve years old and I told her everything that had happened since she left Hong Wu. How he spent ten years trying to find her and how it was all he wanted." "She's our aunt," Ju said, restating what everyone already knew. She was now sobbing as well. "I just can't believe this."
Suki was feeling lightheaded. Gravity quickly became her enemy and she fell out of her chair onto the floor.
"Suki!" Ming cried out. "Suki, darling, please say something!"
Suki had lost the ability to speak in full sentences. Nothing could stop her from trembling as she lay curled up in a ball on the ground. The only words she could utter were, "All these years."
Raijin sat frozen as Ju wept madly and Suki remained shivering on the floor.
"All these years," Suki repeated, her voice a whisper. "He was my father."
"I deserve to rot for this," Ming said. "I know that. And I know you two have to deal with this in your own ways, but right now we need to rally together to stop Hong Wu once and for all."
"What do you mean, stop him?" Ju asked. "Are you going to kill him or reason with him?"
"Ten years ago I could have reasoned with him," said Ming. "But he has changed. His spirit has melded with Shuang's and he is now a more vicious beast than before. His sadism merged with Shuang's insanity have created a monster that can't be reasoned with. He must be killed so that his spirit can be set free."
"But won't he just take over someone else's body again?" asked Raijin.
"No," said Ming. "A spirit can only do that once. It is impossible for it to be done again."
"Ming, you have to at least try to reason with him," said Mera. "The old Hong Wu is still in there. He's still the same person he was before. He's just inside someone else's body now."
"I hope you are right, Mera," Ming said. "Because he is likely almost here by now and we have to act now if we are to stop him."
Suki slowly rose from the floor, clenching her fists and facing her newfound family. "This ends now. We stop him tonight."
It was night and the moon was broadcasting it's glimmering beams down onto Republic City.
Hong Shu rode into Republic City on his colossal machine like a General into battle. Except this wasn't going to be a battle. This was going to be an execution. Team Avatar, the police, the citizens, he didn't care who died. Anyone in his way would meet their end if they got in his way. He stood atop a tank half the size of a skyscraper along with Yakone, Lin Hui, and Qian, treading through the metropolis' waters.
Just as expected, he saw them just ahead. Toph had assembled the entire metalbending police force to combat his machine. Perfect. He had them right where he wanted them.
"That's far enough, Hong Shu!" Toph shouted.
As Hong Shu got closer, he saw all of Team Avatar had gathered as well, with the exception of Ai and Yukio. There was also a man with wily hair dressed in Earth Kingdom attire and a man with a scar who looked identical to Aang as well as the two ninjas he had so often crossed paths with.
"Come any closer and we'll rip that thing apart!" Toph threatened.
Hong Shu opened the hatch on top of the tank and signaled for the driver to stop. The hulking piece of metal came to a stop and Hong Shu threw up his arms. "Do your worst!" he shouted.
"On my mark!" said Toph, instructing her metalbenders to ready themselves.
Standing on the side on a walkway alongside to the waterway, Suki watched along with her newfound family. "We have to do something," she said.
"We're fine," said Raijin. "They're going to rip that thing apart."
"Ready!" said Toph.
Every metalbender present took their stances.
Upon hearing the command, the entire metalbending police force extended their arms. To everyone's shock and horror, the tank remained completely intact.
"Try it again!" Toph ordered.
The metalbenders exerted a collective grunt and outstretched their arms once more, but the result was the same.
Meanwhile, Hong Shu cackled madly atop the tank, throwing his arms up into the air once more. "It's platinum, you fools!" he announced. "Your metalbending is useless against it!"
Baffled and without any kind of backup plan, all anyone in the harbor could do was watch as Hong Shu aimed the cannon at the bridge on which the metalbenders along with Team Avatar were standing.
"Hong Wu, don't!" Ming cried.
Deaf to her pleas, Hong Shu raised his fist and hollered, "Fire!"
Everyone scattered as the cannon fired, destroying the bridge and everyone else still on it. At least eighty metalbenders were killed instantaneously while many more were thrown to the ground.
All of the members of Team Avatar managed to avoid the blow, but it meant close to nothing since they couldn't figure out a way to stop the tank.
All Suki could do was watch from the walkway as her friends were put in mortal danger.
"Hong Wu, please!" Ming pleaded.
Hong Shu turned his head to the side and saw the woman he hadn't caught even a glimpse of in nineteen years. "You," he said.
"Hong Wu, please stop this! You have the power to end this now! We can be together again!" Ming said.
The knife struck Ming in the chest before anyone had time to react. Hong Shu hadn't even wasted a second hurling it at her. "Rot in the Spirit World, you old whore!" he spat. "Fire the cannon again!"
The operator inside did just as instructed and fired once more, killing another huge conglomerate of metalbenders.
"Don't stop firing until I say so!" Hong Shu decried.
The blasts of cannon fire erupted into a symphony of chaos as people and buildings were blown to ashes left and right.
At this point, the heroes realized their efforts were futile and began retreating.
Amused by this, Hong Shu cackled wildly. "Look at you! Running away like elephant mice!"
It was inhuman how much pleasure he was getting from this. He wasn't holding anything back. This was his time to shine and he was going to let his sadism show itself fully. As more and more was destroyed by his machine, he leaned back and looked up at the sky, still cackling like mad. His cohorts were surprised he hadn't passed out yet.
"Jun, Tai Kun, see me now!" he howled. "I am nobody's underling! I am nobody's henchman anymore! I am the most powerful man in the world!"
"This isn't what I signed on for," Qian said quietly. "This is not what you promised me."
"Then you can go with them!" Hong Shu screamed. He shoved the former Mayor over the side of the machine, plunging him to his death.
On the walkway, Ming lay dying in Ju's arms. "I thought I could reach him," she whispered. "I thought I could make him see."
Ju dropped her lifeless body to the ground and pulled out a shuriken. "That bastard is going to die!" she yelled.
Having heard the threat, Hong Shu turned to look at her and her companions.
"Hong Wu, stop!" Mera cried. "You don't have to do this!"
"Aim the cannon at them!" Hong Shu demanded.
The cannon promptly pointed itself in their direction.
"We have to move!" said Raijin.
"Farewell, sweethearts!" Hong Shu said. "You've had this coming for a long time!"
"No," Suki whispered.
The cannon fired and struck just a few feet in front of where they were standing, sending the whole lot of them flying through the air. The last thing Suki saw were the deceased bodies of her now dead family before her eyes closed as well.
"Let's get a move on!" Hong Shu said.
Following his order, the tank began rolling forward again.
In a brief flash of light, however, the machine disappeared. Hong Shu spotted Yukio and Ai standing just a few yards away and realized that the lightbender had made the tank one with the light.
He plunged into the water below and would have met his end if Yakone and Lin Hui hadn't used waterbending to cushion their blow. The three of them sped away, out of sight of the defeated heroes, leaving the city in ruins.
"We can follow them!" said Ai.
"I think we have much bigger problems to worry about right now," said Yukio, pointing to the armada of oncoming lightbenders with Bai Lung at the head.
The city was in a state of mass mayhem. A sizeable portion of the city had been leveled, the metalbending police force had been eradicated, and Team Avatar was scattered.
One thing was for sure: Bai Lung couldn't have picked a worse moment to begin his attack. The sun was just starting to rise.
For the collective works of the author, go here.