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When Yang came back around, dawn was just breaking. Juji was already awake, and was fighting her chains, and Yang was starting to feel them as well. There was an agonizing sting in her shoulders, probably from being hung up by them for so long.
Sozu was the last to wake up. At first he fought his chains, but realized it wasn't going to work like this.
Juji was in the middle, with Yang on her left and Sozu on her right. She saw her brother coming back around, and looked over to him. He gave her a look and a nod, suggesting he had a plan.
A quick look around gave Yang a good idea of the extent of the damage the had done last night. Their tent had been burned, that was a shame. The tree line was burned quite badly, and there were two wrecked cars in them. All of the Dai Li agents were gone, save for two, probably to keep an eye on them.
Juji turned to Yang, and whispered: "Get ready." She then shouted at the agents. "Hey you two!"
They slowly turned around, indicating they weren't too pleased. That thought was confirmed by the tone he struck. "What?"
She put on the cutest puppy-dog face she could muster up. "I just can't reach the ground and my arms are killing me. Could you lower me just a few inches?"
The agents turned around again, but Yang could make out shards of the conversation.
"She isn't a bender anyway."
"Boss would kill us."
One of them stood up, and walked over to them and Sozu took a deep breath. Just as the agent was moving Juji's hands, suddenly a burst of fire freed Sozu's hands, distracting the agent from what he was doing. Juji took full advantage of the situation, and smacked the guy on his head with the rocks still covering her hands, knocking him out cold. Sozu rolled forward, launching a single precision blast at Yang's hands, breaking her cuffs as well.
The other agent lunged after him, launching a rock his way, but Sozu deflected it. Yang blasted herself off, landing behind the agent. He turned around shocked, but it was too late: She blew him against the wall, and he joined his associate.
"Morons." Yang smiled at Juji's remark.
Sozu snapped them back to the situation at hand. "Everyone okay?"
The girls both nodded. "Good, then we need to figure out a plan rescue Sai. We don't know how long we have been out, but they came by car in this terrain, they can't have gotten too far."
Yang nodded again. "You're right. But there is still no way that we can catch up to them on foot, and Maya is still out of it."
The siblings looked over the bison, still fast asleep. "Gives us time to work out something of a plan. We need to tie these jokers up, make sure they can't get in our way." He went to the closest wreck, and found a length of rope inside. "Anyone know a few good knots?"
Yang smiled. "How hard can that be. Put them against each other, come on."
She was surprisingly skilled with the rope, tying them up against each other, giving them all the time on the world.
Juji had thought, and carefully spoke. "Alright, we are still in the United Republic, strictly spoken. They'll want to get back into the Earth Kingdom as fast as they can. They're already under pressure because they invaded Ember Island, they don't need another incident by getting it out there that they invaded the United Republic as well." She walked onto Maya's back, and grabbed a map. She pointed to where they roughly were, in the middle of the mountains. "We're in this area here. Means that the quickest way to the Earth Kingdom is east. When Maya wakes up, I say we fly in that direction, see what we can find. All in favor?"
Yang and Sozu shot each other a bewildered look and nodded. "Guess so." was her brothers response.
-"Alright, and what if we find them?"
"Knock 'em the fuck out. There's only one van load, and if we can free Sai, it'll be child's play taking them out."
Sozu objected. "But what if we can't free him so easily? Then it'll be very difficult, even with the element of surprise on our side and they'll have leverage over us."
"Alright, how's this: Juji pulls them over, distracting the driver, I knock him out, and Sozu, you get ready to pick off the stragglers."
Juji wasn't convinced. "There is a hole in that plan: they know what we look like. They'll get suspicious when they see these wingsuits."
"We cut your hair and put you change into you school uniform again, we took our clothes with us from Air Temple Island, remember? You put on your cutest face and puppy-dog eyes, and I'm pretty sure they'll stop for you."
Yang looked pretty pleased with her plan, and Juji looked over to Sozu, who slowly nodded, indicating he was with the airbender.
-"Okay, let's get dressed then."
Sai still wasn't pleased with the answers he was getting. "Alright, you know who I am, but how did you find me here, and on Ember Island?"
Captain Lee smiled. "A good magician never reveals his secrets, but let me assure you that I have ears everywhere. I was impressed with your escape from Ember Island, I'll give you that. Outrunning two helicopters, no small feat for four children."
"You'd be surprised at what we can do when you push us."
-"I was, but now we know that as well, and we came prepared. You smashed most of our equipment last night, and my men were forced to walk back."
"That's what we do. They're probably on their way here, and you wouldn't stand a chance, given what we did to you last night. Best earthbenders in the world? You guys have good sources, I'll give you that, but you wouldn't be able to jack shit in a fair fight."
-"Maybe, but between the two of us, I'm not the one in handcuffs."
"We'll see about that." Sai leaned back, and closed his eyes.
-"You're going to enjoy this, aren't you?"
"Of course I am, don't you know me at all?"
Yang was holding Juji's hair in a bundle behind her head. With the lack of a proper knife, Yang resorted to an air slice to cut the Serizawa's hair. It came to rest above her shoulders.
"That ought to do it. What do you think?" She turned Juji to the mirror of one of the smashed vans.
-"Well, at least it's even. Could be worse, I guess."
"It'll grow on you, no pun intended."
Sozu brought the lightened mood down a little. "Okay ladies, this was all the easy part. The hard part will be finding them. If we're lucky, they aren't out of the mountains yet."
Right on cue, Maya was coming back around with a loud groan.
"Finally! Alright, load everything up, we're leaving."
They did just that, loaded everything they had salvaged onto the bison, and took off. Sozu had taken the reins this time, as Yang would carry Juji down if they spotted the van.
They flew east for about an hour, when they spotted a dust cloud on the ground. It was moving slow, about the speed a not very fast car would.
"Keep Maya up here for a while. I'm gonna take a closer look, and I'll come back for Juji if it's them." Yang hooked up the wings of her wingsuit and prepared to jump off the flying beast.
Sozu objected. "Yang, no. You just said you have no clue how to fly with those."
"Good a time as any to learn, wouldn't you say? Maya is too big, she'll be spotted as soon as we get close. I can get close enough to them without being seen. Trust me. This is what I'm good at." She gave them a wink, and let herself fall backwards, her arms tight alongside her chest. When she got lower, she unfolded the wings, and her momentum shifted forward. She was still quite a lot higher than the van they were following, but she did get a good look at it. Unmistakably a van just like the two they wrecked back at the camp, it had to be the one that got away.
Airbending in the suit, with the wings carrying her weight, was awkward at first, but Yang quickly got the hang of it, and moved back up to the bison, a few hundred feet behind and above her. When she landed, the siblings stared at her with eager eyes.
"It's them alright. Sozu, get us ahead of them. We'll need a bit of a lead, if we want to set up a good ambush."
-"You got it."
Maya pulled forward, and the few clouds provided them with some cover. When Yang decided they were ahead of the van far enough, she pulled Juji on her feet.
"You ready for this?"
"Just hold on tight, princess." Juji nearly crushed Yang's ribcage, and they jumped off. If it hadn't been for the roar of the air rushing by, the airbender surely would have become deaf from Juji's screams. Nearly on the ground, Yang covered Juji's mouth with her free hand, and used her other hand and her feet to create a spout, allowing her to lower them gently onto the ground.
-"Are we on... the ground?"
"Yes we are, princess, you can let go."
Juji let Yang go, and opened her eyes again. "That was the most unpleasant thing I have ever done in my life. Don't you ever make me do anything like that again."
"I won't promise anything, but right now, we need to focus on the job at hand. Come on, the road is on the other side of that hill."
They scaled the hill, and saw the dirt road below them. On the other side was a steep ridge, the perfect place for an ambush.
"Alright, you wait at the bottom for Sai, I'll wait on that ridge and take them out when you distract them. Got it?"
Juji gingerly walked down, and Yang blasted her way up the ridge. They were right on time: not two minutes later, the van approached. She walked in its direction, frantically waving her arms. The driver stopped, and rolled down his window.
Juji put on her saddest and cutest face, just like Yang said. "Sir, could you please help me? I've lost my parents and I don't know where I can go."
He looked a little suspicious, but before he could say anything, Yang swooped in, grabbed the top edge of the van, and blasted both men in the front seats right through the passenger door. She pulled the keys from the ignition, which had two others hanging on it. One was undoubtedly for handcuffs, the other she had no idea, until the girls walked around the back of the vehicle.
There was a big padlock, holding the doors shut tight. Clever. Even an all-powerful Avatar would have trouble breaking through this.
"Juji, get the lock off, and open the door on my mark. Three, two one, now!"
Sai felt the van come to a halt. Seemed to be very fast, he couldn't see anything but mountains when they landed. "Must be some underground bunker." he thought.
Captain Lee didn't seem too pleased with this, and he scolded at his subordinate. "Lieutenant, was there anything planned along the way?"
"No sir, not that I know..."
But he was interrupted when they heard a muffled girls' voice. A brief silence ensued, followed by a couple of dull thuds, the unmistakable sounds of fighting.
Captain Lee stood up, and his lieutenant did the same. They stood in front of Sai, to make sure he had no chance of escape.
Someone was fiddling with the lock on the outside of the van, and suddenly, the doors swung open.
It took Yang a millisecond to see the two agents inside, and she quickly shot a punch his way, knocking him in the back corner. She wanted to launch another attack, but took a hit to the chest instead.
Sai saw it all happening. He was momentarily blinded by the sudden light, but regained his vision properly when he saw how the lieutenant was blasted into the corner beside him. He heard Yang swear, and before Lee could get another shot off, Sai quickly took a deep breath, and shot a stream of fire from his feet, blasting Captain Lee out of the van. Juji quickly jumped into the back of the van, and undid his cuffs.
"Thank you." he quickly panted, as he jumped outside. He smashed the ground, sending a fissure in Lee's direction, who rolled out of the way.
Yang had also recovered, and launched a few more air punches his way. One of them hit the agent, and knocked him down. Sai quickly put him in an earth prison, and walked up to the captain, while keeping the tension on it.
"I warned you Captain. I told you they were coming, but you underestimated us and paid the price. Think on that while you figure a way out of here."
With one quick motion, he catapulted the Captain Lee back into the van, and locked the doors again, with the padlock.
Sai turned to the girls with a big smile on his face. "You did it! I knew you wouldn't leave me! Come here you!" He pulled them both in for a tight hug.
-"Of course we came back. That's why I went with you in the first place. I told you you wouldn't make it a week without me." Yang couldn't help the smug self-satisfaction.
His face turned a little worried. "Where's Sozu?"
Juji was quick to calm him down. "Don't worry, he's still on Maya. We need to find a way to flag him down, and get going again."
"What did you do with your hair?"
-"That was her idea. She said it absolutely had to be done in order to fool them."
Yang protested. "Hey, it worked, didn't it? Anyway, I'll fly up and see if I can find Sozu, don't go too far." She took a quick run up, and took off with her wingsuit.
Sai and Juji stared after her.
The Avatar was surprised. "I didn't even know she could do that."
-"Neither did we. But then again, she is a quick learner."
"That she is." He smiled. "By the way, I think the new haircut looks great."
-"Ugh, don't remind me. It'll take me a year to get it back to a good length."
"I don't think you quite get it: it looks sexy like you wouldn't believe."
Her face went cherry red. "R-Really?"
Sai got a sly smile on his face. "Really. Come here you." He pulled her in close again, and gave her a good kiss. At first she was surprised, but after the shock wore off, she gave into him fully. They held each other like that for a good while, enjoying the moment and each other, when they slowly separated. "I've been wanting to do that for a while now." Sai said, smile returning on his face.
Juji kept her eyes shut and her mouth open, letting it all sink in. Then, a massive grin appeared. "You too, huh?"
"Come on, we've got something to check." Sai walked over to the van, and checked the glove box. "Aha! I knew it!" as he triumphantly pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a box of matches. Before he could light one, Juji pointed to the two agents Yang blasted out of the van.
"Do you think we should tie them up? I still have these." as she held up the handcuffs the Dai Li used to restrain Sai.
"Alright, put 'em next to the front wheel." They dragged them there, and cuffed their hands around the shock absorber, to make sure they couldn't go anywhere.
"Now let's light one up. It's been ages."
Juji nodded, and they sat down by the side of the road, enjoying the nicotine racing through her, while letting her head rest on Sai's shoulder again. It just couldn't get any better than this.
Sai lost track of how long they were sitting there, but he was pulled back into reality when he heard Maya approach. Sozu put her down next to the van, and jumped off. "Sai! Juji! Are you two alright?"
"We're fine, Sozu, thanks. Quick, help me total this van, then we can be on our way again."
-"What about the guys tied to it?"
"Fuck 'em. They tried to kidnap me, they can wait for someone to rescue them."
Sozu agreed, somewhat reluctantly, and Sai and he shot a small but hot stream of fire at the engine block, melting it shut in various places. That thing wouldn't be going anywhere.
They all climbed onto Maya again, and took off with one mighty swing of her tail, traveling into the Earth Kingdom.
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