|More from MibuWolf||Action/Adventure/Drama||PG-13||Positive||Main Page|
|The Beauty, the Book, the Drunk, and the Badgermole Part 3|
The past mustn't bind the present
"Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom."
A sigh. "Yes, Pogonia?"
The young girl smiled from ear to ear at her mother's recognition. "Hi," she replied simply.
Her mother sighed again. She moved from one patient to the next and coated her hands in water. Gently, she pressed her hand against the injured man's wound. Working as an illegal nurse was deadly: spending all of her days surrounded by these wounded pro-benders in this underground world constantly hunted by the police. The man groaned and shifted as his burn slowly faded. "Sweetie, I'm very busy. Why don't you get some water and help me heal these men?"
One would think that she couldn't get any happier, but Pogonia's smile widened. "Okay!" she replied enthusiastically. With a bounce in her step, Pogonia picked up a pale of water and approached a man whose arms and legs were covered with slashes from a water whip. Just like her mother, she coated her hands in water and pressed them against the man's wounds. The cuts vanished as her hands moved—her bending was at a level even her mother hadn't achieved, and Pogonia was only nine.
Another man stumbled into their underground clinic, plopping himself in a chair and leaned back dazedly. He didn't speak to Pogonia or her mother, rather hiccupped and began scratching himself.
"Father, have you been out drinking again?" Pogonia's mother spoke without looking up from her work.
"So what if I have, Kori? You're *hic* not my mother. Heh... Not my mother. *hic* It's funny because you're my daughter." he laughed and leaned his head backwards to stare at the ceiling.
The wounds on the patient were gone. Kori stood and walked over to her father, placing his hand on his shoulder. "Father, you're getting old. You're almost seventy. You won't survive in the ring, or even outside the ring, if you keep getting drunk."
He laughed again. "I'm not drunk *hic*. I only had a couple of drinks." his words slurred together, until he stopped speaking for lack of words. His daughter sighed; knowing it wouldn't be of any use to continue arguing her case. Back in the Northern Water Tribe, they were known as the "Can't Hold Liquor Choshis" due to their horrendously low alcohol tolerance. And he knew this as well as she.
Only a few days later, Aoi Choshi would die.
Wind roared past Frost and Ai Shi's ears. The motorcycle sped along the past; an unwavering beast, tearing apart the road and kicking up dust cloud in the girls' wake. Frost's hands wrapped around the motorcycle hilt—tightly keeping her on the bike while also casually pressing against the controls—while Ai Shi clung to Frost for dear life.
"So who was this guy anyway?" Ai Shi hollered over the roar of the wind and the engine.
"I don't know!" Frost replied at an equal volume, "Kinda mysterious! Wore a hood and cloak, but I could still see his face! Looked to be in his late thirties or earlier forties ish—but had this wonderful beard!"
"You accepted directions and a motorcycle from a guy like that?"
"Yeah! He seemed pretty cool!"
"Seeming cool isn't justification..." Ai Shi's rant was cut off by the sound of a bullet whizzing past her ear, lodging itself in the road just to the right of the motorcycle. Frost swerved, but kept her eyes locked on the road ahead. But Ai Shi could turn her head to see the pursuer.
A sleek black car in hot pursuit. Leaning out of the passenger window was a familiar face. A face they had seen one too many times.
"Hello, ladies!" Donghai shouted from the car, his handgun steadily pointed at the motorcycle and his head poking out from the car.
Ai Shi clicked her tongue in frustration. If she could Firebend, she would ignite the car's gasoline and blow it up on the spot. Instead, she was stuck with no way to attack a person without being at point-blank range. But she wasn't the only person here. "Frost!" she directed her attention back to her companion. "Switch!"
"What?! Switch?!" she didn't have time to argue. The other swung herself low to the ground, barely holding onto the bike, giving Frost a moment to make room for Ai Shi to drive. Frost quickly stood up on the bike and moved back while bending her knees to keep the motorcycle from flipping over. Ai Shi swung herself up, taking Frost's position behind the handles.
Frost's hand grabbed Ai Shi's collar to steady herself. "There's no water!" Frost shouted in exasperation.
"Can't you bend the water from the air? You've done it before!"
The hand not holding onto Ai Shi extended, and Frost tried to focus her energy into creating those water crystals around her fingers. But her mind was still in a haze from the alcohol, and no crystals came. Another bullet blasted towards the bike; Ai Shi swerved the bike so that the bullet missed its target. Frost scrambled for her balance on the back of the bike, now grabbing Ai Shi's shoulder for a more steady hold.
"I... can't!" Frost cried.
"Grandpa went into the ring after drinking that much?" Pogonia cocked her head, posing this statement of disbelief to her mother.
"Yes," she replied hesitantly, as if afraid to tell her daughter this, "but he won. It wasn't because of the ring that your Grandfather died." Kori sighed. Her hands glowed as she pressed them against the wounds of another Pro-Bender.
"Wow... Grandpa's so cool." Pogonia sat on a cabinet of medicine. Her legs couldn't touch the ground, and so she let them sway beneath her. "But how did he die, mom?"
"He... Passed out, drunk, and drowned in his vomit." her mother replied bluntly, not hiding the truth even from her ten-year-old daughter.
A bullet clanged against the metal of the motorcycle. Frost staggered to regain her balance, about to fall from her precarious position. She held fast, and quickly steadied herself as Frost steadied the motorcycle. Once more, she extended her free hand and breathed deeply. Focus, she thought. Focus.
Bang! Another bullet tore through the back tire of the bike, sending it spinning out of control. Both girls screamed, but were able to regain themselves quickly. "Jump!" Ai Shi instructed. They leapt from the out-of-control bike onto the road. Using their shoulder to steady themselves, they rolled so as not to injure themselves before standing up. The motorcycle collapsed in the middle of the road while the pursuing car pulled up in front of them and stopped. Three more cars followed, cornering the girls.
The passenger door of the first car swung open, and Donghai stepped out followed by a few other thugs from each car. His right hand held a handgun, which he carefully reloaded. That smug smile was still plastered across his face as he spoke, "End of the line, girls. Looks like it's time for the climax." He snapped, and one of the other gangsters produced two body bags.
Frost grimaced. "Getting cocky now, aren't you? Those bags are empty."
"Not for long." Donghai and the other gangsters all raised their guns, steadying them on the girls. Carefully, their fingers steadied on the trigger and flexed...
An earthquake rumbled throughout the ground, sending great spikes of earth through the cars. Each car impaled and any occupants killed, this attack was enough to divert the gangsters' attention.
"Odraz!" Frost and Ai Shi called in exuberance. The badgermole shifted its feet once more, ready to attack again if necessary. Now the enemies raised their weapons towards Odraz, ready to blast the beast and continue their execution.
"Not so fast!" Suddenly, ice appeared on Frost's fingertips. Condensed from the air. Like she had so many times before, Frost swung her arm and each ice projectile launched itself towards the enemies. Too surprised to move, many projectiles hit their targets. Five enemies fell to the ground.
"Frost! You did it!" Ai Shi called to the other. Without turning away from the enemies, Frost simply gave Ai Shi a thumbs-up. Frost knew that her grandfather had been able to condense water from the air when his mind was far more clouded than hers. She just needed to focus.
A laugh broke through the girls' celebration. Donghai smiled to himself before looking back up towards the girls. "There's still more of us left, and if you think that some half-assed ice and a badgermole will stop us, then you have a lot to learn, ladies."
"How 'bout if you add an old man and a bounty hunter?" they all turned to look at the source of another voice. A dust cloud masked the man, and so the fighting froze until the figures broke through the dirt. As if the action heroes of a movie, a cloaked man and August stood side by side. The cloaked man had no visible weapons, but August stood with his guns drawn, ready to fight.
"Tch. August." Donghai muttered the name of the ex-bounty hunter. "This isn't worth dying for. Men! We're retreating." The other gangsters nodded, and they all began to vanish into the distance.
Ai Shi turned to the cloaked man, "You're letting them go?"
"They're retreating," the cloaked man said coolly, "it's not worth killing a withdrawing enemy."
"Wait," Frost furrowed her brow, examining the cloaked man, "you're the one who gave us the motorcycle!"
"Yep." he replied
"Who are you?" Ai Shi interjected.
Two hands poked out from beneath his cloak. Blue arrows were visible on each as he carefully grabbed his hood and pulled it off of his face. Bald, with a similar blue arrow. The Air Nomad now scratched his dark beard and smiled. "Name's Meelo!"
"You're an Air Nomad!" Ai Shi cried.
"Yep. Been following you two and that Prince since you got separated from the Avatar and my son. Wanted to make sure you didn't get into too much trouble."
"Whitey's you're son?" the Waterbender inquired, already using her nickname for the mysterious Airbender Ishio ran off with.
"Wait, you..." Ai Shi interrupted Frost and Meelo's conversation to turn to August. "We would have been fine on our own. This doesn't count for breaking the two days."
The bounty hunter shrugged. "It's already been two days. Meelo wanted to step in sooner, but luckily we ran into each other just after the challenge, and I could convince him to wait 48 hours."
"Now then," Meelo began, once again directing the attention towards himself, "I must address an important matter. You're meeting back with the Avatar and hopefully the Prince in about a month and a half, and now that you've found your badgermole, you need to find some way to occupy yourselves." he folded his arms thoughtfully before continuing, "I recommend you two head into Republic City. Of Team Avatar, you two are the least renowned, and it shouldn't be hard to blend. Scout it out a bit, because in the future it will do you good to know the area."
Then, the Air Nomad turned to August. "August. You and I need to talk..."
"August. You aren't a bender, but I've watched you grow up in this temple." Meelo placed his hand on a teenage August's shoulder. "Your parents left you here because they trusted the Nomads more than anyone else in the world. With your attitude, the others have been reluctant to keep you. It was only at my urging that you stayed."
The teenager rolled his eyes, and so Meelo continued with a sigh, "My wife is pregnant. I know my child will be an Airbender, and I must raise him in the city... Since I am leaving, you must undoubtedly leave as well."
"Why should I care?" August retorted, wrinkling his nose at the sudden lecture.
Meelo stepped back, his eyes full of sadness. "I want you... To make good choices."
After the girls and the badgermole left, August turned to Meelo. "What is it?"
"You've always been," Meelo began slowly, "a hopeless drunk."
"I quit drinking." August replied bluntly.
"That's not what I mean... You weapons, your attitude, they are all... Hopeless."
- Whitey... Shirou-chan... Hitsugaya...
- Hello, laaaaadies.
For the collective works of the author, go here.