A Leap of Faith
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The Divided Republic



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A Leap of Faith

-"You shouldn't be so aggressive, Sai. This is air, not fire." Jinora was calm, yet reprimanding.

"I know, I know. This just feels easier to me."

-"You shouldn't focus on what's easy, but what's right." She sighed. "You know what? We've been at this for a few weeks now, and I'm not getting through to you. You just go inside and drink a cup of tea, and when you get back, we'll go and practice gliding."

Sai quietly obeyed and went to the dining hall, where Sozu and Juji were already drinking a cup of tea.

"Got an extra in there?" He said, while he unceremoniously dumped himself next to Juji.

-"Sure we do." Sozu eyed Sai up while pouring him a cup. He looked tired. "Everything alright, kid?"

"No. I've been airbending for weeks now and I'm no closer to anything resembling real airbending then I was a few weeks ago. I'm just getting frustrated, that's all."

Juji took his hand, under the table to spare her brother the discomfort, and tried to comfort him. "You do realize that's the problem, don't you? Air is your natural opposite, so it only makes sense that it is the most difficult element for you to master."

"Yeah, Jinora said that already, but still. I keep on firebending, only with air. I just can't seem to let it go."

Sozu tried his sister's approach. "Sai, this isn't something you can force."

"You forced me into firebending properly with dueling, remember?"

He looked a little bit taken with Sai's dry remark, but collected himself again. "Yes, but fire and air are spiritual opposites. Aggression against peace, that sort of thing."

Sai ignored the comment half, and got up. "Well, time for me to fail at gliding. I swear, these wingsuits are made to make this as difficult as possible."

He walked off, fully ignoring the staring siblings. Back in the courtyard, Jinora had dug up some sort of staff. "What is that for?"

She smiled. "This is an old fashioned glider. Before we got wingsuits, the Air Nomads got around with these for hundreds of years." She unfolded the glider, revealing a large orange wing, and a smaller one at the end. "It's bigger than the wingsuit, so it should be easier to glide for you to glide with it."

Skeptically, he took the glider from her. She gave him some last instructions while he positioned himself on the edge of the cliff. "Just stay calm, and let the glider do the work for you."

"Yeah, thanks, that makes me feel so much better."

He jumped, and hung on to the glider for dear life. It caught him partly, and he tried to focus bending air under the wing, but couldn't shake the feeling that he was quickly losing altitude, a feeling that was confirmed moments later.

-"Hey Sai! Nice fan you got there." Yang was suddenly hanging in the air next to him, causing him to lose concentration, but before he could fall too far, she gave him a boost.

"Damn it Yang, you shouldn't startle me like that. I'm having enough trouble as we speak."

-"I know, you're losing height quite fast."

He looked back where he came from, and saw that he was indeed quite a bit lower than the ridge he started on. They made a wide turn, taking them back to the lower courtyard. The landing was a bit rough, but not his worst.

-"Anyway," Yang continued as if nothing happened, "what is this thing? I've never seen anything like it."

"It's a glider, from before airbenders had wingsuits. Jinora said that it should be easier to glide with because it's bigger, but nope, I'm simply failing at airbending."

-"Don't be so hard on yourself, you just need to give it some time."

"Yeah, I wish someone would say something a little more concrete than that."

He folded the glider, with effort, and walked with large paces. Yang soon caught up with him, and they made it back to the South Wall, where Jinora had also come down.

-"That went a lot better in my mind."

"I'm sure it..." Sai silenced himself when he heard something in the distance. "You hear that?"

Yang and Jinora fell quiet, when they heard the whirr of an engine in the distance. Sai ran to the edge of the terrace, and saw a squadron of airplanes approach from the south, followed by two large transport helicopters.

"The Dai Li. They know were here."

-"I'll get Sozu."

Yang ran off, but Sai stopped her. "Make sure you get as many airbenders down here as you can. Jinora and I will hold them off."

She nodded, and the airplanes had reached the temple. They circled around the mountain peak, holding a perfect distance. The helicopters made their approach to the far platform, but Sai had a different idea. He kicked up two rocks, and launched them simultaneously at the flying machines. One of them climbed up, the other veered left, and much closer to him. He took a deep breath, before shooting a stream of fire at it. The side door slid open, revealing Captain Lee standing in the opening.

He and three other earthbenders jumped out, and they smashed the ground upon landing.

"Lee, you don't have to do this! Get back in your helicopter and we won't report this to the United Republic!"

He just smiled. "You think your little treaty is going to stop us? You really don't know anything, do you, Avatar Sai?"

"Fuck you!" Sai had just about had it. He launched a fissure at Lee, who nimbly rolled out of its way. Jinora blasted two incoming rocks out of the way, before settling on dueling the other two earthbenders. Lee shot a rock at Sai, who broke it midair, before retaliating with a blazing arc. He and his lieutenant made a wall to cover behind, before the Captain broke it down into little bullets, shooting them at Sai. He made his own wall to cover behind, when Sozu jumped down from the balcony, shooting a fire blade at Lee, who could only roll out of the way. Yang came flying back in, having a number of airbenders in tow. Now outmatched, the Dai Li agents called in support from the helicopters. A lot more agents jumped down, and the battle seemed to even out. The Dai Li held off the airbenders with no real issue, while they were forced to put five agents to fend against Sai, Yang and Sozu.

Out of nowhere, the planes suddenly changed tactics. Sai saw one of them making a violent turn the other way, making another approach to the temple. It dropped a bomb towards the battlefield, and the Dai Li agents all made a wall to cover behind. Sai knew he had only one shot at stopping it. With outstanding accuracy, he kicked up a pebble, and shot it at the incoming bomb. He quickly turned around to cover himself and Yang, who standing right beside him. The explosion of the bomb was unmistakable, really.

Sai used his time in cover. "Yang, we've got to keep those planes busy. We'll fly out into the mountains, they're after me. This way, they'll leave the temple alone."

-"But Sai, you suck at flying!"

"Could you fucking not?!" He ripped lifted the wall out of the ground, and kicked in the direction of their attackers. "Come get it, you bastards!" He and Yang ran towards the edge of the courtyard and jumped off. They opened their wings, and using all his airbending power, Sai managed to stay aloft without crashing into the lowest courtyard. a quick look over his shoulder confirmed his suspicions: the four airplanes came after them.

They dove down to the narrower canyons, hoping they would have the advantage in there. They did.

Yang was the better airbender and took the lead. She sought out a particular narrow opening, Sai following close behind her. He straightened himself, turned around, and slammed his arms together, causing the opening to close behind him. Three planes made it over, but one couldn't avoid the newly created wall anymore. The pilots used their ejection seats to launch themselves over the wall, their plane blowing behind them. Sai turned around again, continuing his run from the airplanes.

The navigator of the first plane behind them stood up, breaking apart his rock gloves to shoot them at the bending duo. Yang let herself drop onto the ground, pulling the air from under the wings of the plane, causing it to suddenly lose altitude. Unable to lift itself over a low rock, the pilots ejected as well, leaving their plane to crash and burn.

"Awesome job! Two down, two to go!" Sai was not really covering his excitement about beating back the planes like this.

-"Just keep focused on the job at hand! Celebrate later!" Yang rolled over her own axis, kicking an air slice in the direction of plane above her, but it didn't have enough oomph to do more than blow it up a few feet.

Much to the bending duo's worry, they had reached an opening in the mountains. There was another narrow canyon up ahead, but they had to cross the opening for that. The other plane was closing in below them, and fast. Before the navigator could get a good shot at them, Sai let himself drop down onto the wing of the plane, a shot a massive fire blast at the engine, disabling the mechanics. He blasted himself off the wing again, reaching the same height again. Yang was now behind him, circling around a solitary peak once while he busied himself with the third plane. They were closing in on the narrow canyon fast, but a that moment, the last navigator managed to land a hit on Yang's suit, tearing a massive hole in it, causing her to lose altitude, and fast.

"Sai! It's now or never!" She yelled after him, and he knew he had to act fast. He threw himself vertical, using the wings as an air brake. A powerful fire blade sliced the wing off, causing the plane to spiral out of control. Sai landed on the wing that was still attached, using it to push himself off, catching up with Yang, who he grabbed in mid-air. Holding on to her tight, they were headed at a column at tremendous speed. With his last ultimate effort, he blew a hole straight through, and Yang caught them before they crashed into the actual ground.

Now safely on the ground, Sai slowly let the airbender go, both of them panting from exhaustion and pure adrenaline. "You alright?"

Yang nodded. "Yeah... I think so." She let out a couple of more breaths. "You know Sai, that was amazing. You were flying like a true master."

He smiled. "I guess that whole "the right incentive"-thing really works for everything."

-"I guess it does." Yang looked up, back in the direction of the temple. "We should get back up there. Do you think they might have beaten the Dai Li?"

"No idea. But there is only one way to find out." Sai took Yang by the arm of her torn wing, and together they flew back up to the temple.

When they got back to the lower courtyard, they found it silent, much to their worry. The helicopters of the Dai Li were gone, but there was no sign of the airbenders, the Acolytes, or Sozu and Juji. Sai and Yang gave each other a worried look, and they sprinted towards the temple, past the signs of a fierce battle. They found the airbenders pinned to the wall, unable to free themselves, with their faces covered. It took Sai little effort to break their earth shackles, and they soon sought out Jinora. There was still no sign of the siblings.

"Jinora! Where are Sozu and Juji?!"

She looked up with tears in her eyes. "Sai... I'm so sorry..."

His eyes grew large. "What..?"

-"The Dai Li took them..."

The Divided Republic
The City of DreamsFire Lord IrohAnd the Sky Ran RedFire and BloodEpilogue
Book 1: Fire
The Boy from the StreetThe Second Avatar of the New AgeThe Journey of a Thousand MilesA Single StepThe DealThe Thief, the Nobleman and the AvatarThe Golden CageThe Ambush
Book 2: Air
Air Temple IslandThe Xianjing MountainsThe RescueSanctuaryThe Master's WayA Leap of FaithRage and Pain
Book 3: Water
The United Fleet

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