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|The Ending: Part 2|
After discovering his true identity as the Avatar, Kiviuq of the Lunar Water Tribe attempts to flee Yue aboard a spacecraft bound for earth. All the while his past lives are beckoning him to do the right thing.
The Ending: Part 2
I could stare at her until the end of time. A body of white against the unending blackness. Oh Yue, may you live forever. But you won't will you? You told me that war was coming. And I it will be my fault. My fault.
I sat on the 8th floor of an abandoned apartment building, just on the outskirts of the white city when I thought about these things. Outside of the broken window I could see the dome, and beyond it, the white ice flats of Yue. I sat on the floor with my arms wrapped tightly around my knees, and my face red from crying. My mind wandered once again to the Moon Spirit's words, "War is coming...You will start it." Every Time I reflected on that conversation I would be struck with pain, and by now, my chest was aching fiercely. I am the Avatar, or so Nuvuk told me. But the general would never lie, no, not about that. He must have been so disappointed to find out it was me, surely he assumed the Avatar would be an upstanding white, and not a vehement Red like me.
There must be a way to get out of this, I thought. A way to maybe transfer the Avatar-ness, I guess. It is no use, I am the man I hated so much, in fact, I might hate him worse. The spirits surely are cruel, to do this to me, what game are they playing? They must have finally lost it. I stood up and wiped my eyes. I was hungry, and thirsty. I had been living there for almost two days and so far no one had come looking. But eventually I knew they would, I would have to run, but I didn't want to. A life on the run isn't a life I wanted. I suddenly became panicked again after realizing what my future might hold. I had two options: Run and never live the life I wanted, or stay, become the Avatar and start a war that might potentially destroy the world. As I began to pace around the room I found an option three. A wire cord, used for a refurbishing project that never happened.
Finding a chair was hard, but after searching several rooms, I finally found one tall enough to suit my needs. It did not take me long to set it all up and after only a few minutes, I was ready to take my own life. My feet straddled the edge of the chair and even though I was only two feet off the floor, it seemed like a thousand. The wire was uncomfortable against the skin of my neck, but that was nothing compared to the overwhelming pain in my chest. Just before I kicked the chair, I realized I had written no note. It didn't matter though, They'll figure it out.
I closed my eyes and began to tip the chair with my toes, but I was cut short by a sudden light against my eyelids. "Don't do it, Kiviuq," came a voice in front of me.
I opened my eyes and saw the blue spirit of an airbender. "Kundun?" I whispered. He nodded. His head was bald and his face was clean shaven. He had a large scar that stretched from his lip to his ear, deforming the right side of his face. He had an expression of sadness, I could feel it in my own soul.
"Death is not the answer, young Avatar," he said calmly.
"Don't call me that!" I said harshly as I balanced uneasily on the chair.
"I only call you what you are, and you are the Avatar."
I began to cry. "Why? Why am I the Avatar? He stands for all that I hate, he is a devil in my eyes. Why did I have to become him?"
"When I was a young boy, I idolized the Avatar..." Kundun began "I would spend hours watching documentary films about the exploits of Avatar Asuka and read story books about Avatar Korra. I loved them, but I knew in my heart that I never wanted to become them. Their jobs meant sacrificing their lives and beliefs for the good of the world. I did not want that, and when the monks told me of my identity, I refused to submit to any training outside of airbending, I refused to realize who I was. Eventually, with the help of Korra, I accepted my identity and began training. But problems that could have been stopped if I had only started sooner, became worse and by the time I was fully trained, these problems were too much to handle. Out of haste, I created laws that ultimately caused only more strife and stained my legacy in the eyes of the world." Kundun paused for a moment and stared me in the eyes. "Please, don't make my mistakes, learn from your past."
"B-but..." I began. "Yue told me I would start a war. What if that war destroyed my home, the moon? It will be fault. The world doesn't want an Avatar anymore, they'll hate me!"
"The best things are always subject to hate, Kiviuq. The spirits have a way of speaking that may seem odd to us, perhaps Yue was not clear, however, I do not know the answer to your question, because you don't know the answer to your question. If Yue said war is coming, then war is coming. And that means the world will need its Avatar." Kundun disappeared and I was once again left alone.
"The world will be just fine without him." I kicked the chair and began to fall. Just before the cord jerked, My eyes glowed brightly blue and I extended my arms creating a sphere of spinning air around my body. I stood suspended above the ground. I moved my arms in an earthbending technique and the cord snapped. My eyes returned to normal and I fell to the ground with a thud. "AGHHH!" I screamed. "I CAN'T EVEN KILL MYSELF!!!"
I tried again and again. I found another chord, but Kundun stopped me. I jumped from the building, but Asuka slowed my fall. I tried to drown myself in a forgotten garden pool, but Korra saved me. "Stop this!" She yelled at me as I bent myself dry. I turned my back to her blue spirit. "I was the last Avatar and also the first all over again, that makes you the second Water Tribe Avatar, and the first one from Yue. You have a responsibility to your people, to your tribe!! What are you going to do!?"
I turned and slashed my arm through her spirit, causing her to dissipate and disappear. "Option two: run."
The Docks were completely still at night, only the earth people moved about working in and around their large ships. Every Water Tribe man and woman were asleep or at least, not working. I avoided any cameras that I could, hoping that Nuvuk wasn't looking for me and I made my way to the outfitting room: the place where anyone going to and fro from the outer docks to the inner docks must stop and change to the appropriate clothing. I pulled a device from my pocket and slipped it into the pocket of the space suit which after a few minutes of prepping, I eventually put on. I stepped into the airlock and after the first set of doors had shut and sealed, the outside set of doors opened. It was brighter outside, because there was no dome to shade the sun. I jumped and hopped across the metal surface with the help of a little energy bending, hoping to give the illusion that I was an earth man.
I approached a ship that had a tall staircase leading to the airlock doors, but just before I took my first step, a man in a suit similar to mine stopped me. Because of our shaded helmets, neither of our faces were visible. "Woah, stop buddy!" He said. "I can't let you on without ID."
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," I said as I pulled a device from my pocket. It was Lee's ID band.
The man took it and scanned it across his arm device. "Lee!" He exclaimed after the name and photo showed up on his screen. "Cashin' in on the Captain's offer, are ya?"
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"The captain, he said if your job doesn't work out here on this ice ball, you've always got a free ride back home."
"Oh yeah!" I exclaimed with false acknowledgment.
"Are you okay, Lee?" The man sounded concerned. "Your voice sounds a bit off."
"Oh. Uh, yeah. I'm sick. You know, this place is dang cold."
The man laughed. "You've got that right! I can't wait to get back to earth! Well, go on ahead, I'll see ya on board."
I started once again up the steps. "I'll seeya later, uh, uh-"
"Cheng," the man said with a hint of suspicion. "I'm Cheng, Lee."
"Oh yeah. I knew that of course, it's just this cold," I replied.
I was halfway up the steps when the man stopped me. "Hey Lee."
I turned. "Yeah?"
"Where are your weighters?" I looked down at my legs, the man was right, my suit had no weighters on it, and I had been walking up the stairs, unaffected by the gravity. "You've got no weighters on your suit, Lee. How are you walking like that," the man asked, his suspicion now at a height.
The man pulled a gun from his side. "Alright! hands up. I got a feeling you aren't who you say you are!"
"Whoah, man!" I cried, throwing my arms up. "It's me. Lee! Come on!"
"If you're Lee, then tell me what kind of job you came here for!"
"An engineering job," I replied. "Now, please, put the gun down."
"I'm not done yet," he said. "Move that rock!"
"What?" I asked.
"You heard me, Lee's an earthbender. Now move that rock, and I'll know you aren't lying!" He said, motioning with his head to a rock lying on the metal ground. I kept my eyes on the man, but got into the best earthbending stance I could think of. "Come on, move it!" He yelled. I stretched my hand out toward the rock. "I said move it!"
"Firmer!" Came Korra's voice from my head. I straightened my arms and legs and made my stance stronger.
"That's it!" The man cried. "You're a frau-" The rock levitated off the ground, and shot into the distance. He lowered his gun and stood in silence for a moment as if he was amazed that I had actually bent the rock. "I've got to hand it to you, Lee. You had me going there." The man laughed as if nothing had happened. "Go on inside and get some rest. I hope you feel better!"
"Will do!" I replied as I tried to speak behind the loads of sweat dripping from my forehead.
"Wait!" The man said again, just as I had started up the stairs. "How are you walking like that."
"Oh, I uh, picked up metalbending."
"You're not a metalbender, Lee."
"I picked it up yesterday."
"Oh! You are so full of surprises, Lee! I'll see you on board."
I hope I don't see you one board!, I thought to myself. I stepped inside the airlock and waited for the outer doors to shut, then I turned and stepped through the inner doors and into the outfitting room of the ship. I tried to undress as fast as I could, but unfortunately an older earthman came through the inner airlock doors just as I was removing my helmet. From his voice I could tell he wasn't the same man as before.
"You must be one of the new cabin boys!" He bellowed loudly. "It's always nice to see youngsters taking an interest in space travel, most people just find it boring these days. Name's peg-leg Khan," the man said with a bow. Peg-leg Khan was a large chubby man with a great big beard, much like the ocean sailors of old.
"I'm Koda," I replied, choosing a Water Tribe name. "Why do they call you peg-leg Khan?"
The big man pulled his leg out of his spacesuit and revealed a metal spring-supported peg-leg. "Got this baby years ago after losing my real leg to a spirit during an attack on this very ship!" He told me. (It was not uncommon for spirits to attack traveling spacecraft, but rarely did they ever breach a hull.)
"You know they have prosthetics nowadays," I said, still staring at his metal leg. It was amazing how such a slender thing could support such a large man.
"Yeah, I know that. But this honey's got more character than them fancy prosetiks," Khan replied. "Anyway, all bus boys need to have an ID card."
My skin went cold. I couldn't use Lee's again. "I uh, lost it," I said unconvincingly.
"Oh well that's no problem! Most first timers lose their ID bands. As long as you don't get in trouble, you won't really need it. In fact, when I first started out as a cabin boy, I lost my ID card."
"Oh really?" I said.
Khan laughed. "Nahh! I was a stowaway! I didn't have one!" Khan looked at me. "You aren't a stowaway, are ya?" There was a long pause. I swallowed hard and hoped he wouldn't see the cold sweat forming on my brow. "Hahaha," he bellowed. He slapped me on the back so hard it took every inch of my willpower not to scream. "I'm just Jokin! You moon men are too well behaved to stowaway! Don't worry kid, peg-leg Khan will look out for ya!"
I tried to chuckle and thank him, but I was too busy recovering from the suspense and the pain of his "reassuring" slap. "Thanks," I finally choked out. "Can you show me where the cabin boys stay?" I asked, hoping that maybe I won't have to hide in the cargo bay as was my original intentions.
"We put them in the cargo bay!" The big man said. My hopes were drowned. "I'm just kidding! I'll show the way!" Khan laughed. The halls that peg-leg Khan led me down were small and compact, and were not unlike a sea sailing battleship. The cabin boys didn't sleep in the barracks with the seasoned men nor did they stay in the passenger wing of the craft, instead Khan led me into a medium-sized room made solely for the housing of Cabin boys. "Here you go," he said as he swung open the thick metal door. "Your new home."
"Thanks, Khan," I said as I stepped inside.
"The other boys will show you your things, I've got duties to attend to." And with that, the jolly old man went whistling down the slender hallways.
There were three other boys in the room, all distinguishable by their facial characteristics. There was Po, a slender Earth Kingdom boy with brown hair cut short, military style. Then there was Chan and Ling. Chan was short, fat and non-threatening, but Ling was a tall black haired youth with dangerous eyes. All the boys were about my age or older with Po being the youngest. "Hey new guy," Ling said as he hopped off his bunk. He reached under an empty bed and pulled out a neatly folded gray uniform which he threw at me. *THUD* I caught it with groan. "Here's how we do things here..." He began. "You listen to me, and do what I say, and everything will be alright." He came so close to my face that our noses almost touched. "You got it?" He asked firmly.
I clenched my fist. I wanted to beat him so hard. If only he knew who he was talking to, I said to myself. For a moment I felt a pinch of self-betrayal at that thought. "Got it," I said with a smile.
"Good. Now put these on. On this ship, we're nationless." I did as he said and changed out of my blue and black lunar colors and into the drab gray uniform. "Great, now you'll be working with Po over in the passenger wing." Ling looked over at Chan, "Leave the big boy work to Chan and I."
I wanted to hit him so hard. "Whatever you say" I said nicely.
"Are you being funny!?" Ling demanded, as he pushed farther into my personal space.
"No, sir. No I'm not."
"Good. Po, take the green and show him where he'll be working."
"Alright," the laid back youth said he hopped off his bed. "Come on," he said as he led me out of the room and finally away from Ling. "Don't worry about Ling," Po said. "He's just a coward with a big mouth."
"Why don't you stand up to him?" I asked.
"He's in charge of us, if I did that, I'd get in trouble. Plus, Chan is his firebender, and Chan is no coward."
"No kidding. I didn't get that vibe from Chan," I replied.
"Haha, just do your part, Green and you won't have to worry about either of them."
"My name's Koda."
Po stopped and bowed. "Nice to meet you Koda, I'm Po. Come on, I'll show you the passenger wing." Po led me down more hallways and I noticed they started to widen. "They're a little bit bigger to accommodate the paying travelers," he told me. There was a relatively large central room where tables and couches were provided for passengers, kind of like a sitting room. "Most of the passengers are lunar businessmen on their way to earth, but there is one student heading to Ba Sing Se, she's a babe." Just as we were walking up one of the halls, a white haired girl came around the Corner. "Here she is now." Po smiled. "Isn't she beautiful?" When I saw her, my stomach jumped into my throat. It was Nuka. "Hey!" Po said as she came closer. I turned away and pretended to cough.
"Hey," the girl replied. *COUGH, HACK* "Is he okay?" She asked, motioning to me.
Po turned to me. "You okay man?"
"No, I might be a little sick," I said with a cough as I tried to conceal my voice.
"You should get him to the medical wing," Nuka told Po.
"Yeah, I should," Po said as he took my arm. "I'll see you later...Nuka."
She smiled. "Bye."
"I think I'm in love," Po said as he led me down the halls once again. "By the way, what happened back there? You didn't even get to see her face?"
Good thing too, I said to myself. What will I do now that Nuka's here, why is she here? "I'll be fine, I'm not really sick, just a little flare up," I said.
"Well if you insist," the earth boy said.
"Do most of the passengers stay up till midnight?" I asked, thinking about another dreaded encounter with Nuka.
"Nah, she's probably just up to watch the ship leave. It's quite a sight. In fact, you wanna see it?"
"Yeah," I replied, hoping he would take me somewhere far away from Nuka. Much to my dread we turned around and he led me back the way we came. As we passed the big room once again, I caught a glimpse of Nuka staring out one of the tiny windows. Thankfully Po took me out of the passenger wing and back through the halls I had originally come through with Khan. The farther we went the more and more gray uniformed people we passed. Po led me up a tight flight of stairs and onto another level of the ship where most everyone was wearing black uniforms. After a few more turns we entered a large octagonal room with several large pains of thick space grade glass staring out at the blackness beyond.
"Koda!" Came a familiar voice. I felt a slam of sudden pain as Khan slapped my shoulder. "Good to see you here Kid. It's bad luck to miss a takeoff on your first day!"
"Wouldn't miss it for Yue," I said.
"Good, now obey your captain and hold on to something."
"Captain?" I said as Po pulled me over to the railing.
"Yeah, you didn't know that?"
Khan picked up a small device and held it to his mouth. "This is your captain speaking. We'll be taking off in a few moments so make sure you are either strapped into bed or hanging on to something." Khan flipped a button on the device to change channels "Yue? The Heart Of Korra requesting permission to undock."
A male Water Tribe voice came over all the speakers in the room. "Permission granted, Heart Of Korra. You are clear for undocking."
"Much thanks," Khan said into the speaker before setting it down and shouting orders to his crew. There was a sudden rumble like an explosion and then the entire craft shook. The loud mechanical sound of the docks releasing their hold on the ship echoed throughout the walls. For a few moments the Heart Of Korra shook and rumbled until all of the sudden it stopped, and we were floating freely above Yue. The ambient hum of the thrusters filled the ship as they propelled the giant craft into the black depths and toward the orb of green and blue that sat suspended in space no more than five days away. I released my hold on the railing and walked over to the ship's front windows. I could see us gliding thousands of feet above Yue and gliding farther every moment. I could feel my body's energy receding as her power became more and more distant, until I felt as if a piece of me had gone, and after that, I could only assume that is what every person on earth feels like.
- The title is called "The Ending" because it is the ending of Kiviuq's old life.
- Whenever you have any kind of "ship" in a story, you need at least one stereotypical pirate/sailor character...enter Peg-leg Khan.
- Ling was the name of the stuffed panda I had when I was child, and might possibly still have today.
For the collective works of the author, go here.