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Book 2: War
June 17th, 2013
John and his friends suffer with the consequences the morning after the Confrontation.
John stumbled out of the Infirmary and into the cold, dark, predawn morning. His uniform was soaked in blood after spending several hours of helping the healers and surgeons with the wounded from the battle. He was weary, and almost sick to his stomach from the sight of so much blood. Like a zombie, he made his way through the borough to the nearest gate. There had been roamers in the Infirmary, questions about his leadership, questions about why the Refugees had been brought to Republic City. These were weighing on his mind, along with the events of the night.
"Not bad for your first time in command," came a voice from a nearby ally. John's head snapped up, and his hand flew to his gun. Slowly, a man faded out of the shadows of the ally. From what he could see, the man was unarmed.
"I got my men killed, that's not exactly what I would call good," he replied.
"You did everything you could, and you care about your men. Those are the good qualities of a good leader," the man said. John slowly moved his hand away from his gun, but he remained on guard.
"Did you come here just to comment on my leadership skills mister?" he asked.
"My name is Dante. The reason I'm here is to give you a warning." John's hand slowly crept back toward his gun.
"Dante?" he asked. The man showed a small grin.
"My name is often associated with Hell. I am not your damnation, John Rider, but neither am I your salvation," he said. John's eyes narrowed slightly, but his hand didn't move away from the gun.
"Who are you? With the things you know its not possible for you to be from this world. And you're not a Refugee either." Dante didn't answer right away, but rather he held up his hand. Faint glowing blue wisps formed around his flesh, casting a strange eerie light on his face.
"This is what your foes have uncovered. With it, they will purge bending from this world and they will be unstoppable. Unless you can stop them." John studied the strange phenomenon that was occurring around the newcomer's hand.
"And just how do I do that?" he asked. Dante smiled.
"That, is for you to figure out." With that, he lowered his hand and faded back into the shadows, vanishing from sight. For a few more minutes, he stared at the shadows, but then he gave up and continued along his original course to the nearest gate. As he approached, he could here a young woman shouting at the guards. It wasn't until he was thirty feet away did he realize that it was Korra. She wore the dark blue jacket she'd used at the South Pole.
"I'm telling you, you have to let us in, our friends are in there!" she shouted at the guard. He couldn't help but smile at the reaction that the poor guard must be having.
"Miss I'm sorry, but I am under strict orders not to allow anyone to enter," the guard replied, his voice containing a hint of a quiver as a reaction from Korra's shouting. The Avatar was preparing to unleash another shouting bombardment, but stopped when she noticed John approach behind the guard.
"It's okay, let them pass," he said when the guard turned to face him. The Guard saluted by crossing his arm over his abdomen and shouldered rifle before he stepped to the side. John silently studied each face of his friends. Korra was in the lead, followed closely by Bolin, and then Mako and a brown headed young woman he didn't recognize.
"Your hurt." Korra's worried voice snapped him out of his thoughts. She was studying him, trying to determine how much of the blood on his uniform was his and how much wasn't.
"Relax, none of it is mine," he assured her in a tired voice. A pang of guilt filled him, as he knew that much of the dried blood had belonged to people he knew. Turning his thoughts away from that, he focused on the brown haired girl that was on Mako's arm.
"You must be Asami, I've heard much about you," he said, shooting a glance at Korra. It was thanks to her complaining that he was up to date on her. Asami showed a smile.
"And Mako has told me much of you. From what I hear, the Fire Ferrets owe you much for keeping them in the running for the tournament," she replied. To John, that match seemed like it had happened a thousand years ago.
"I apologize for my grisly appearance. I haven't had time to bathe since this whole thing started," he said. The worry never left Korra's eyes as she looked at him.
"The radio has been covering what's happened since last night. From what we could make out, it didn't sound good," Mako explained. John let out a tired sigh as he heard that.
"Let's go to my place and get out of the street," he said. The sky in the mountains to the east were starting to glow red when they arrived at John's small living quarters. Without so much as a grunt, John immediately walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind him so he could change. Korra took off her coat and turned on a small radio that sat in the corner with out so much as a thought, a habit she had developed from several hours of visiting John.
The usual morning news broadcast was starting when the leader of the Refugees emerged from the bathroom again. Outside, the sky was painted red as the sun was beginning to peak over the horizon. Bolin had fallen asleep in the corner next to the door. Mako sat on the cot, leaning his back against the wall, Asami had dozed off, resting her head on Mako's shoulder. In the corner opposite of Bolin, Korra sat with her arms crossed and her feet propped up on the small table.
Both Korra and Mako's faces perked up slightly when they saw John. But exhaustion was evident in both of their faces. For the first time since the South Pole, the Avatar saw him without his guns anywhere near him. He had changed back into his usual clothing, but lacked the jacket. Taking a seat on a stool on the other side of the table from Korra, John leaned his back against the closed window and groaned.
"Good Morning Republic City, this is your morning news. The feeling of terror that is the result of last night's intense battle at Central City Station has lessened. However a large number of citizens are outraged, and many are calling for the complete removal of the Refugees from the city. Neither the City Council, nor the Refugees themselves have released a statement on the events of last night."
The radio was somewhat dull, and those in the room who were still awake were close to falling asleep. Then the usual broadcast crackled, and went out all together. With the sudden change, John, Korra, and Mako all sat up in surprise. Mako's movement woke Asami, who rubbed her eyes and sat up as well.
"Hello Republic City. This, is Amon. I'm sure by now you have heard about the incident that occurred at the Central City Station. But none of you know the real story. The Bender controlled news in this city has deliberately forgotten the fact that the group the attacked the station took non benders hostage. But I was surprised when the people who took back the station were determined to free those people. And so, I feel that I must extend my thanks to John Rider, Leader of the Refugees. His actions and the actions of others in the night were most astounding. Sadly though, they are still benders, and therefore the source of the problem within this fine city, and this world."
John stood, yanked the radio from its perch, and threw it out the window. The muttering of curses and other profane language that accompanied this was enough to show that he was more than angry.
"Fifty Eight dead, and thanks to that smug bastard no one but us will know their sacrifice," he said, making a wide gesture to the window while he spoke. Korra stood and placed both of her hands on his shoulders, using her strength to hold him in place.
"It's not over John, its no where even close to being over," she said, looking deep into his eyes. With a sigh, John's shoulders sank slightly. Then he reached his arms up, and pulled Korra into a hug.
"Thanks Korra." Breaking off the hug, he turned and called for a sentry. Immediately the door flew open, crushing Bolin behind it, who let out a cry. The Sentry stood at attention as he waited for orders just inside of the room.
"I want a meeting called in the center square, all are required to attend, no exceptions."
"Yes sir," the sentry said, snapping a quick salute before leaving the room. As the door closed, Bolin and the chair he was sitting on fell from the corner.
"You okay bro?" asked Mako. Everyone grinned as Bolin let out a whimper.
"Well I've got a meeting to attend. You all are welcome to attend if you wish," John said. Korra placed her hand on his bicep in a reassuring manner.
"Of course we will."
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