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|The Assault, Part 2: Enter Bai Lung|
Everyone gathered at City Hall looked up to the roof in fear. For the first time ever Bai Lung had appeared in Republic City. At the top of the steps, Aang, Qian, and Zhu were stunned. "Are you the leader of the Light Clan?" asked Aang.
"Yes I am," said Bai Lung. "And, judging by those markings you have, I assume you must be the Avatar."
"Yes," Aang replied. "Please don't hurt these people. We can talk this out. Whatever problems you have with all of us can be solved through diplomacy between our united republic and your nation."
"Diplomacy?" Bai Lung asked. "Diplomacy has never been the answer nor shall it ever be."
"But if we could just talk-" Aang started.
"It was diplomacy with your kind that destroyed us!" Bai Lung shouted.
"What?" Aang asked, insulted. "The Air Nomads have always been the most peaceful and diplomatic people in the world! If you couldn't reach an agreement then it was your nation's fault!"
"Not the Air Nomads, you ignorant swine," said Bai Lung. "When I said your kind I meant the Avatar."
"Again, I'm sorry, but I fail to see how anyone but you could have caused a conflict to happen when negotiating with this type of person," Aang said.
"Really?" asked Bai Lung. "Even when it was the very first Avatar who led the charge against us?"
"Jun?" asked Aang.
"My direct ancestor was a victim of that bloody monster's attacks against our nation! And what did the other nations do while we were attacked? They sat by and did nothing! We were left to fend for ourselves, we lost countless citizens, they never offered to help us rebuild and our ancestors have never let us forget it! The other nations were jealous of our power, but now I shall wreak havoc on your so-called United Republic of Nations with a power like no one in this world has seen for thousands of years!"
"So if you take the Avatar will you be satisfied?" asked Qian.
"No, I won't, you shrewd little politician," answered Bai Lung. "The prophecy must be fulfilled. Then, Bai Lung fired a massive blast of light into the crowd, burning a large group of people to death. Everyone else started running. Screams of horror were heard as people run and other people were trampled in the mass panic.
"Both of you get out of here!" said Aang to Qian and Zhu. The two of them got up and bolted out of there, but Bai Lung fired another bolt of light at them. Aang, however, raised an earth wall and protected them from it. As the two politicians made their escape, Aang was left to battle Bai Lung.
Meanwhile, in the crowd, the rest of Team Avatar was finding it difficult to fight against the fleeing citizens. "We have to get to Aang!" shouted Katara.
"How?" asked Sokka. "We'll probably get trampled before we can even see them again!"
"Alright, I'm going to improvise!" said Toph. She stomped a hole into the ground, went under, and sealed it shut.
Back at the top of City Hall, Aang had moved past negotiations. He leaped up, swung his staff, and released an airbending slice at Bai Lung. The latter thrust out his arms in front of him and formed a solid block of light, nullifying Aang's attack.
"How did you do that?" Aang asked, stunned.
"By hardening the light particles in the air, I can make light into solid matter," Bai Lung explained. Then he thrust his arm out to the side, created a solid light spear, and lunged at Aang. The Air Nomad defended himself with his staff and the two continued to swing their weapons at each other. Then, Aang attempted to blow Bai Lung off of the roof by breathing a large stream of air from his mouth, but the lightbender formed another light wall in front of him. This time, though, the wall was composed of many smaller blocks of light. Bai Lung shoved against the wall and all of the blocks went flying towards Aang. The Avatar was caught off guard and went spiraling off the roof. Before he splattered on the ground, he bent a small ice slide and slid down it to avoid being hurt. Once he'd landed, he looked up to the roof to see his enemy. "Now I shall gladly lay waste to your city," he said. He stepped off of the roof, but landed on something right in front of him: a solid light pathway.
Aang heard someone running up to him from behind and turned to see his friends approaching him. Katara looked up and saw Bai Lung above her. She took the water from her pouch as well as some water from the air and formed a water spout underneath her, projecting her up into the air. Once she reached Bai Lung, she hurled two razor-sharp water rings at him. The lightbender formed another light wall, but it was destroyed by the rings. Bai Lung growled and threw out his arm once again. Then, before Katara even knew what was happening, a block of light had hit her square in the face. The waterbender went down, but was caught by Aang. "His bending style is too unpredictable," she said.
"I know," said Aang. "Who knows what else he's capable of?"
"So, what, are we going to let him destroy the city?" asked Ling.
"No, there has to be a way to stop him," said Suki. "If only he would stop blocking all of our attacks we could-"
"Oooh! That's it! I've got it!" Sokka shouted.
"What? What is it?" asked Toph.
"All we have to do is block his chi!" Sokka said. "Suki, didn't Ty Lee ever teach you how to chi block?"
"Great, then here's the plan," said Sokka.
Bai Lung was still walking along his light path, blasting everything he saw and laughing maniacally. It was clear he was enjoying this too much. "Run, little insects! Run! I will find you! He blasted a building, causing several people to be crushed by rubble. "Now you shall all have a little taste of extinction!" Then he noticed something. Aang, Bo, and Ai had created their own waterspouts and landed right in front of him.
"Go on, try and beat us. I dare you," said Bo.
"With pleasure," said Bai Lung. He fired another light blast at his opponent, who dove over the side of the walkway to avoid the blast. "That was too easy," said Bai Lung.
"Bo!" yelled Ai. She lashed out with a wave, but Bai Lung leapt up and fired another light blast at her. The waterbender leapt out of the way and fell over the side as well.
It was just Aang and Bai Lung now. "Your friends are a clear example of why what I am doing is right," said Bai Lung, menacingly. "They are weak and pathetic! They try to pretend they are strong, but really they cannot help anyone, because their weakness cripples them. It's what's wrong with the Earth King, it is what's wrong with the Fire Lord, it is what's wrong with everyone in this world who does not live under the Light Clan emblem."
"Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but maybe you should try paying more attention rather than being theatrical," said Aang. Before Bai Lung could even ask what Aang meant, he felt several sharp jabs in his back. Stunned, the leader of the Light Clan fell down. However, with his concentration severed, the walkway disappeared. Everyone started freefalling, but Aang managed to catch everyone. Everybody stood up and looked down on the man. "Great chi blocking, Suki," said Sokka.
"Thanks," said Suki.
"And thank you for catching us," said Ai to Toph.
Bai Lung looked up. "You set me up!" he shouted.
"Yep," said Aang. "We weren't supposed to beat you. We were just supposed to buy Suki and Sokka enough time to chi block you without being noticed."
"You airbending swine!" Bai Lung swung his fist, but nothing happened. The lightbender growled in frustration. "You really blocked my chi?"
"Yep," said Suki.
"Okay, let's take him back to headquarters," said Toph.
At Police HQ, Bai Lung sat in a cell that was completely dark. There was no light anywhere inside and the glass on the windows was tinted from the inside. Just to be safe, Bai Lung's hands and feet were bound together. Team Avatar approached the cell and spoke to him from outside. "You did quite a bit of damage today," said Toph. "If it were up to me you wouldn't even have a trial. You'd get a one-way ticket to Koh's lair."
Bai Lung said nothing.
"If Qian thinks you're going to just sit in here after you killed all of those people, you're wrong," Toph added.
"Toph, don't get so hasty," said Aang. "I don't know if killing him is the answer."
"You can't be serious, Twinkle Toes!" said Toph. "You're going to let him get away with this?"
"Yeah, seriously, Aang, I know how you feel about this stuff, but there's no other solution this time," said Sokka.
"He has to be done away with, Aang," said Ling.
Aang looked over at his wife. "Katara, what do you think?" he asked.
Katara hesitated. "No, I don't think so," said Katara.
"Then what should we do?" asked Suki.
"I can take away his bending," said Aang.
"That's actually a pretty good idea," said Ai.
"Alright, you can go in there, but be careful," said Toph.
"We'll be right out here in case he gets out," said Bo.
Aang slowly approached the cell door and grabbed the handle. He started to turn it when a voice interrupted him. "Excuse me, chief," said an officer. "You're needed in another room."
"Officer Soon, I told you not to disturb us," said Toph.
"I'm sorry, but it's urgent," said Soon.
"What's wrong?" asked Aang.
"One of the lightbenders has gotten loose," said Soon.
"What?!" asked Toph.
"Where is he?" asked Katara. Suddenly, Soon fired a blast of light at Suki, but Ling, having been skeptical, jumped in front of her and raised an earth wall.
"Right in front of you," said Soon. The imposter bent the light around him, revealing his true form. He blasted through the glass of the cell, exposing Bai Lung to the light.
"No!" Toph shouted.
The lightbender trapped the gaang in a light orb and allowed his colleagues to enter the room and free Bai Lung. "Now then, let's take our leave, shall we, gentlemen?"
Desperate to escape, Aang tried as hard as he could to lightbend. He tried and tried, but to no avail. He couldn't do it. "Now let's blow this place to smithereens," said Bai Lung. He started lightbending all around him, creating a massive surge of light to form. "Lower the orb," he commanded. "And put one around us."
The lightbender dissolved the orb surrounding Team Avatar and put one around him and his colleagues. In a matter of moments, Bai Lung released a massive light surge, destroying the police station. Those who noticed the surge in time managed to get out, but everyone else was obliterated. There was nothing but rubble where the Metalbender Police Headquarters had just stood. Bai Lung let out a thunderous laugh. "That will show you! The Light Clan is the strongest of all!" he shouted. "Not even the Avatar could stop me! Now he is gone as is your chief of police!"
At that moment, two holes opened in the ground and spit out all of the members of Team Avatar. Stunned, Bai Lung did not know what to say. Aang's eyes and tattoos glowed briefly, signaling the activation of the Avatar State. He blew the other lightbenders out of sight and then looked down on Bai Lung. In the voices of all of the previous Avatars he spoke. "Leave this city and never return." Enraged, Bai Lung charged at Aang. "I will not back down!" he shouted. Aang bent the ground beneath him and shot Bai Lung into the sky with an earth pillar.
Aang lowered himself back down to the ground and his eyes flashed again. "It's over," he said.
"You really think so?" asked Ai.
"If he ever decides to come back, we'll be ready for him," said Aang.
"Well, it looks like you've got some rebuilding to do," said Sokka.
"Yeah, we'll give the place a whole new look," said Toph.
"Hey, Aang," said Katara. "Qian can say whatever he wants, but you saved this city today. That's all that matters."
"I know," said Aang. "Thanks, Katara."
Meanwhile, in the Fire Nation, Zuko and Rong were taking a walk down the halls of the palace. "Well, I guess this is my last day here before I have to go back," said Rong.
"It's been nice having you here," said Zuko.
"So, are you still upset about-"
"About Mai?" Zuko finished.
"Actually, I've made my peace with it," said Zuko.
"Really?" asked Rong.
"I've thought about it and that night on Ember Island really let me let it all out. And after the way I treated you I realized that I was hurting my friends because of this. I do miss Mai, but I think it's time to... move on. I can't stay hung up on this forever. Besides, I'm the Fire Lord. I have other thinks to focus on."
Rong smiled. "That's so big of you, Zuko," she said. "I'm proud of you for overcoming this."
"Yeah, and besides, the next person for me could be right around the corner." The two of them turned the corner and saw Jin running towards them.
"Fire Lord Zuko!" she shouted.
"What is it, Jin?" asked Zuko.
"There's been an attack in Republic City. The leader of the Light Clan showed up."
"How many were hurt?" asked Rong.
"We don't have an exact death toll yet."
"Were any of our friends hurt?" asked Zuko.
"No, they all survived and drove him out of the city."
"Well thank the spirits he's gone now," said Zuko.
"We have to do something," said Rong.
"I agree," said Zuko. "Schedule a meeting for tomorrow."
"Yes, sir," said Jin. She walked away to carry out the orders.
"Well, I guess we should be getting to bed," said Zuko.
"I agree," said Rong.
"They drove you out?" asked Chong.
"It is only a minor setback, my dear Chong," said Bai Lung. "We will return and they will all die. Now let us discuss the subject of you letting Hong Shu and his associates getting away with half of their prize."
Chong responded with a nervous gulp.
Zuko and Rong had walked back to their rooms. The reached Rong's room first. "Goodnight," said Zuko.
"Goodnight," said Rong. She entered her room and closed her door.
Zuko walked down to his room, thinking about his new found freedom. No longer was he bound by the shackles of the past. He had moved on and was able to focus on other things and other people. He entered his room and was horrified to see what was before him. In dark, red letters there was writing on the wall. 'You will die, my dear Fire Lord' was what the message said. Zuko slowly approached the wall to see something lodged at the end of the sentence. Something that made his heart sank: a red tinted knife that he recognized all too well.
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