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|The Needs of the Many|
Book 3: Dawn
Chapter 6: The Needs of the Many
"Fire Lady Saitei has thrown her support behind Argho, seeing as he helped the Royal Family. Not to mention that he's the Avatar." The statement was met with murmuring from the leaders of the four nations.
"So, is the Fire Lady going to simply ignore his atrocities in the North, Ambassador Chan?" Susanowo asked.
A man in robes of varying hues of green gave his reply. "You presume too much, Susanowo; we do not know what the Avatar has to say on the matter. To be frank, I'm not even sure you should be at these proceedings."
"I'm of a mind with Earth King Qiang," a man in a crisp, dark blue tunic leaned forward, supported by his folded hands. "You are not Chief Anorak."
Susanowo frowned. "And Ambassador Chan is not the Fire Lady, Chief Hodak; I am Anorak's proxy since, as I am sure you are all aware, he passed away a year ago."
"Yes, but I was elected personally by Lady Saitei." Chan replied. "What assurance can you offer us that Anorak named you as such?"
The Earth King cleared his throat. "Furthermore, you are a businessman, not a ruler. What vested interest could NowoCorp have in the politics of the Northern Water Tribe?"
"Well, to answer both of your objections, Anorak had no time to name a proxy, but it was agreed by the other elders that I was best suited for the temporary position. I may be a businessman, but the Water Tribes...I know much about their inner workings because of my involvement with them."
Hodak sighed. "I doubt very much that you know anything of the Southern Water Tribe. You can weigh in for now, but when we call on Argho, I would ask that you dismiss yourself from the proceedings. We have heard your grievances, and now we need to hear his side."
Susanowo bowed his head. "As you wish."
Argho narrowed his eyes as he, Kuan Ti, Rioku, and Zhan stood in a circle. "Explain yourself, Rioku. What mistakes are you referring to?"
"You are incredibly powerful, my friend." The Earthbender replied. "And you've fought to keep balance your entire life. However, in your rush to fight those who would destroy that balance, you've forgotten what effects your power has on others."
Kuan Ti's inclined his head. "Collateral damage..."
The Avatar raised an eyebrow. "What about it? I avoided such things in my battles with Susanowo and Otokami."
"That is why you fail to see your mistakes, Argho." Rioku frowned. "Even though Susanowo needed to be stopped, could you not have done it without sacrificing the lives of the civilians and crew on his airship?" The Avatar opened his mouth to speak, but the one-eyed Earthbender held up a hand. "I was not there, so I cannot judge whether or not you made the right decision. But this occurrence is merely a small part of the problem; it shows that, for all of your power, you tend to lose focus when it comes to the people around you."
Silence held sway between the four of them for a moment before Argho spoke, his brow wrinkled.
"Why have you chosen to bring this to my attention now?" His voice was low, almost a whisper. "What could have possibly been so important that you didn't tell me sooner?"
Rioku exhaled. "So...you do know..."
"I never meant for that to be the case, but...I can find no flaw in your assessment." He grimaced. "As the Avatar, I have a duty to both the balance of the world and the people in it. It seems that the people have indeed taken a back seat to the balance, when in reality they should have been equal."
Zhan stood and left the room quickly, causing Kuan Ti to raise an eyebrow, while Rioku put a hand on Argho's shoulder.
"So, my friend, what are you going to do about it?"
Shen breathed in the fresh air of Republic City as he and Moro walked along. After such a long period of uncertainty, they were finally at peace, for the moment. A large building loomed at the end of the street, and its size piqued their curiosity.
Moro smiled. "So...should we go back to talk to Argho, or see what's inside first?"
The Airbender shrugged. "It's up to you; I'm in no rush to receive a lecture from the Avatar."
"Didn't he encourage you to accept me into the group in the first place?"
He nodded. "And I'm sure if he didn't think my life was at stake, he'd do so again. But you and I will just have to convince him."
"Yeah...that's going to be fun." The Waterbender pursed her lips. "I do have one question, though."
"What is it?"
She pulled several strands of black hair away from her forehead. "When I talked to your mom, I told her...well...everything. I thought she would hate me, but..."
He smiled. "She took it in stride."
"Yeah, she did."
"My mom's the kind of person who wants to know who someone is, not who they were. I guess it's an Air Nomad thing."
Moro chuckled. "In any case, I'm glad that she heard me out."
Both of them felt more at ease with each other than they ever had before, and before they knew it, the large building was just in front of them.
Moro raised an eyebrow. "The Museum of Republic City's History? Interesting."
Shen shrugged. "I'm intrigued."
Just as they were about to enter the museum, the windows began to shake, and a low hum filled the air. The two friends glanced at one another.
"Uh...does that sound familiar?" Moro asked.
The young man frowned. "Yeah, it's an airship." He stared up at the sky, and a massive airship did indeed rest over the port while bearing the symbol of the Air Nation.
He grimaced. "Petrine and Otokami are here, Moro; our lives just got more complicated."
Kuan Ti watched as the airship floated over the city. It was quickly surrounded by the several of the police airships, though it managed to dwarf each of them.
"Hm...I hope you know what you're doing, Shen." He turned his gaze back down the street. Now...where did Zhan run off to?
"Excuse me, sir?" A young woman with piercing blue eyes and dark hair smiled at him. "Are you looking for a man in a cloak like yours? He went down to the museum; I wouldn't forget a cloak like that!"
The Equalist bowed. "Thank you, Miss. I wasn't looking forward to searching all over the city for him."
"Don't mention it!" As the Equalist ran down the street, she narrowed her eyes. "It's beginning."
He followed her direction, eventually arriving at the museum. It was a massive building with banners hanging down beside the massive windows. "Why would he come here?" He noticed a large sign that had Amon's visage plastered on it. What is going on?
As soon as he entered the building, he was approached by an attendant, whose dark brown hair was combed over perfectly. "Excuse me, sir, but I'd like to inform you that admission is free this week."
Kuan Ti raised an eyebrow. "Really..."
"Yes, sir, in honor of the reopening of one of our most popular exhibits, The Rise and Fall of the Equalists."
Wonderful...that explains the banners. "Why was it closed?"
The attendant cocked his head. "Well, sir, a while back, our most popular feature of this attraction was...um...stolen."
"What was this 'feature'?" Kuan Ti asked.
"Why, it was Amon's mask, sir."
"So, you directed him where he needed to be?" The wind blew around the two figures as they stood on a balcony overlooking the city square.
"Yes, Lu Ten." The woman's blue eyes revealed the smile that wasn't present on her face. "He's exactly where he needs to be."
"Good." The protector's shoulders sagged. "I'm beginning to hate all this secrecy, Sora."
She inclined her head. "And you don't think I just want to rest? But we have to do our part to end this before it starts. Although, I kinda wish I had your job. You got to go toe to toe with Susanowo."
Lu Ten laughed loudly. "Yeah, that was pretty fun!" He wiped a tear from his eye. "Well...once we're done with this stuff, we'll be able to finally relax."
"That'll be the day..." She smiled.
Shen and Moro watched as the airship was directed to special landing pad. As it landed, several dozen police officers, benders and nonbenders alike, surrounded it. The ramp separated from the rest of the structure, and one by one, members of the old Council of Elders filed out.
Shen furrowed his brow. "Why did she bring them...it makes no sense."
"What do you mean?" Moro asked.
"Petrine apparently brought the Council of Elders with her, or at least the men and women who used to be on it. But why?"
Argho's voice interrupted the two of them. "Perhaps she anticipates being unable to lead the Air Nation. It is impossible to say for certain until we see how she responds to the other nations' questions."
The Airbender smiled without turning around, knowing that Rioku would be behind him as well. "Hello, Argho. Am I still in trouble?"
"We'll all talk later, and I will hear you out. For now, let's just ensure that an incident does not occur."
Rioku placed his hand on Shen's shoulder. "Now it's up to the leaders of the other nations to figure out how to handle her."
"No." The young man's reaction caused all three heads to turn towards him. "I needed them to get her here, but I will deal with it. None of them are equipped to handle Otokami."
"And you are?" Moro frowned. "He nearly killed Argho!"
"He did, but he won't kill me. At least, I hope not."
The one-eyed Earthbender sighed. "With a spirit that powerful, you can't go on nothing but 'hope'."
Shen's gray eyes scanned the growing crowd and clearly saw Otokami's massive, armored form. He assumed that the Grand Elder was beside him, but he couldn't see her.
"You are right, Argho; we need to discuss our options. We need to talk."
Kuan Ti found Zhan staring at a replica of Amon's mask sitting in a glass case. As he made his way over to his friend, a man in a dark purple cloak bumped past him, offering little more than a grunt of acknowledgement. The Equalist only raised an eyebrow in response. As he walked toward Zhan, he found himself admitting, begrudgingly, that the exhibit was well put together.
Hearing his friend's footsteps, Zhan spoke while staring at the mask. "You can tell it's fake; it's obvious."
"And? The original was apparently stolen."
"Don't you get it, Kuan Ti?" He placed his hand against the glass. "We've become little more than a history lesson, a cautionary tale to warn people away from taking on the bending establishment!"
"No, Zhan." He replied. "We are a force for true change. Amon was a cautionary tale against bigotry and the lure of power."
His friend scowled. "Our goals have become as fake as this replica; we can't enact any sort of change while hiding behind Avatar Argho's bending abilities."
"Where is this—?"
"Coming from? Our master brought it on us when he pulled us away from our original purpose." Zhan sighed. "I can't do this anymore. Neither can the others; we're done with this."
Kuan Ti's eyes widened. "You're not serious?! You...you're giving up?"
"Of course not. We're just going to do things the right way, but..." Zhan sighed. "I can't lead them like you can. Can we count on you to stand with us?"
"What are you talking about? I will not dishonor our master, and I hope you aren't proposing what I think!"
"We will have a powerful ally, Kuan Ti; he will help us get what we deserve."
"Just who is this ally?!"
Zhan turned away. "I'll take that as a 'no', then. Goodbye, for now, my friend."
- And the plot thickens! Seriously, I never imagined the story would take so many turns when I started plotting it out. A special thanks to everyone who's stuck with me during the Spirit War Trilogy, you guys are awesome! :)
- While writing for the multi-author fanon project,, I realized that I missed the protagonist that started it all. Yun Zhen is still my favorite OC, and I thought about adding some one-shots to each of my fanons in order to tell some extra stories rolling around in my head. They'll come after I've finished with IAE.
For the collective works of the author, go here.