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|The Razor's Edge|
Chapter 5: The Razor's Edge
Teela flew over the city, directionless, as Tenzin lay flat in the saddle, staring at the sky. The Sky Bison roared with pleasure, mimicking the wind's own roar as it folded around them.
"It seems we both needed to get out, eh, girl?"
His friend roared once again, and Tenzin laughed. "I agree; it's been a long time coming!"
He opened a compartment and produced his glider. "I think it's time for a race." He stood and opened the glider. I missed this!
"First one to the Central Hall and back to the tower wins!" The Airbender cried as he jumped out of the saddle.
Teela rumbled with delight as both sped toward their destination.
The Crown Prince sat on the bench by the fountain, depression seeping through now that the initial triumph was over. He couldn't even be bothered to show up...
"Hey, Lu Ten! What are you doing out here by yourself?" Sanaki, Yun Zhen, and Ty Lee walked up behind him.
"Just taking some time for myself. I needed a breather."
Yun Zhen glanced up at the Royal Tower for a second before bringing is gaze back down to Lu Ten. "Crown Prince, may I speak with you for a moment?"
The young Firebender nodded, and the two of them moved away from Ty Lee and San.
"What is it you wanted to speak with me about, Captain?"
"Your father asked me to inform you of his regrettable absence at your match."
The Crown Prince exhaled. "Is that what you called me over here to say? I expected it to be something out of the ordinary."
"I get the feeling that you and father have not been close as of late, and I wanted to ensure that you were...coping."
Lu Ten snorted. "That seems to be all I can do...cope..." He shook his head. "Y'know, he's been so busy lately that I haven't had ten minutes with him. Not ten minutes!"
Yun nodded. "His job is difficult, and it is even more difficult to raise a family in such an environment."
"I'm sick and tired of people helping my father justify his behavior!" Blue flame whirled around his clenched fists. "Why can't I just have ten minutes with my dad? Why is that so difficult?!"
Yun Zhen looked on the boy with compassion. He had expected a similar reaction when they saw him sitting on the bench, and now, maybe, he could offer some advice.
"I am not justifying his actions, Lu Ten, but I am looking at this from his point of view, at least for the moment. All I can say is this, if you expect your father to understand what's going on without telling him, you will be consistently disappointed. You have to be the one to bring it to his attention, both you and Fiora."
Lu Ten nodded. "Maybe..."
Yun smiled. "Just think about it while you go grab your sister. My family and I want to take you both out to lunch."
"I think I can do that." Lu Ten began to walk back toward the tower before turning back around. "And, Captain...thanks."
Aang's heart skipped a beat. "What do you mean? How can he attach his soul to a technique?"
The protector shook his head. "If we knew, we would've already undone it. As it is now, the technique was supposed to be extinct. If it weren't for Hama's discovery, it would be. And Susanowo would be utterly powerless."
Aang shrugged. "I don't see what the problem is. Hama is gone, and Susanowo seems weak and ineffectual as it is."
"I wish that were so, Avatar, but Hama was not the technique's only practitioner. Susanowo may be harmless when there are no Bloodbenders, but I have discovered the existence of at least two in your world."
Aang's eyes widened. "My wife Katara used it once, but she left it behind! Who is the other?!"
The protector's eyes narrowed. "I have reason to believe she taught it to your daughter, and I believe Sora's been using it."
Sickness edged its way into his stomach. "T-that's impossible! Katara would've told me..."
"Regardless of what you think, Avatar, your daughter used Bloodbending, recently. And Susanowo is already seeing increases in strength."
Aang's heart pounded in his chest. "What does that mean, then? Will Sora be okay?"
The protector shook his head. "A side effect of Susanowo's meddling is this: if someone continues to use Bloodbending, they will eventually either succumb to Susanowo's influence or go insane. If she does not stop, she'll not only strengthen him, but he will undoubtedly use her against you."
Tenzin laughed as he and Teela sped toward the Central Hall. The young Airbender found himself hard pressed to match pace with the Bison, forced to use all his power to keep up. By the time they hit the midway point, Tenzin could barely breathe, a combination of fatigue and going so fast. He signaled for Teela to slow down and landed back in the saddle.
"Huh...huh...heh...I give up...you win..." he said between breaths.
The Sky Bison growled victoriously as the sun began to set behind them.
"Yeah, yeah...I know you were going easy..."
Boom! The loud explosion rocked the plaza below, and smoke billowed in the distance.
Tenzin grimaced. "The warehouse..." He scratched behind Teela's ear. "C'mon girl, take me toward the smoke."
The Equalist fell forward, head lolling at an odd angle, when Shira snapped her foot into his neck with a round kick. Another explosion tore through the warehouse, and more Equalists fell.
Toph strode forward, simply submerging any opponent that got too close. "Alright, let's wrap this up! Where's Koruhagi?!"
Gareth smirked as he entered the hole he had just created. "Give me a moment, Chief Bei Fong." He stepped carefully, all the while aware that he was in hostile territory. Where are you, Solf? "Come out, coward!"
The subtle whistle of a blade was not lost on the Firebender, and he ducked just as a shikkar passed over his head. Moving quickly, he responded with a backwards elbow to his opponent's face, spinning around afterward to catch Solf Koruhagi by the hair. The Equalist thrust his other blade forward, cutting into Gareth's side as the other man pulled his face down into his knee.
The silver-haired man staggered backward before landing on his back. He barely managed to prop himself up with his elbows before Gareth was on him again.
"I'm going to end this before anyone else gets hurt!"
As he moved his fingers together, a flash of white and blue stepped between them. "No!"
Pema grabbed Solf, and both of them began to run. However, her efforts did nothing to stop the Firebender from launching another spark at them. The spark combusted, and the following blast knocked them both off their feet.
Solf and Pema both scrambled to get up off of the ground. "Scatter!" The knife wielder yelled.
Koruhagi went left, while Pema went right. Gareth's eyes narrowed as he casually shot a spark in Kitsune's direction. Solf Koruhagi is my target, not a child.
The spark popped as it made its way toward Pema, and it wasn't going to miss, if not for one thing. As the tiny bomb came merely inches away, Pema was suddenly lifted off of her feet and away from the explosion, though not its effects. All she saw was a flash of light, and then, darkness.
Teela flew just over the warehouse, low enough for Tenzin to drop to the ground. He noticed the large, smoking hole in the adjacent building and heard her voice.
He lunged through the opening, smoke obscuring his vision. I can fix that... Tenzin thought before pushing his hands outward and dispelling the smog. From there, he watched in horror as Pema and Solf were knocked to the ground, just behind a stack of boxes.
He had to move fast, so the young Airbender began to funnel the air behind him as he ran around the other side of the boxes. He rounded them just as Pema and Koruhagi split, and even he noticed the tiny spark trailing the girl.
No! Tenzin put all of his power behind him and flew toward her, pulling her out of the spark's path. Unfortunately, the explosion was massive, and it knocked both of them into the wall. Tenzin struggled to stay conscious; it was fortunate that Gareth viewed Solf as the bigger threat. He left them alone.
The Airbender glanced at her unconscious form as he stood. "I have to get us outta here..."
To that end, he gingerly picked her up off the ground and made his way to the hole in the wall. He smiled when he heard the roar overhead. Their ride was here.
Pema groaned and opened her eyes. Upon seeing Tenzin, she began to squirm. "W-what are you...doing here? Let-let me go..." Her eyes fluttered as she sunk back into the blackout.
The protector cast a sympathetic glance at Aang. "I am truly sorry that you have to deal with all of this. I wish the Judge and his council could see what was coming, but, unfortunately, they refuse to see the truth or listen to me."
The Avatar, who had just seconds ago buried his head in his hands, lifted it back up, a determined expression filled with indignation and purpose.
"As informative as this little outing has been, I need to get back to my children. They need me."
Lu Ten nodded. "I agree. Come; I will take you back to your body."
The journey progressed almost instantly, and the protector shot Aang a half smile. "I am not bound by certain laws of the Spirit World. It comes in handy."
"Where was this teleporting power earlier?"
Lu Ten chuckled as he turned away. "If I had used it, we would not have had our conversation. Goodbye, Avatar, and good luck."
Aang turned away and closed his eyes. I have to hurry. He felt next the wind on his face and the grass of the Spirit Oasis under his feet. He reopened his eyes and stood. Now was no time for delay.
"Avatar Aang," Chief Hahn ran up to him. "Thank goodness you're back!"
"Not now, Hahn." The Air Nomad didn't bother to hide the disdain in his voice. "Fetch me Appa's saddle; I need to leave immediately!"
The Water Tribe Chieftain shook his head. "I'm afraid that's not possible, Avatar."
Aang's eyes glowed bright white. "YOU DARE IMPEDE ME!!"
"N-n-no...I swear..." Hahn cowered before the might of the Avatar. "I only meant that your bison seems to be ill...please, don't..."
Aang's expression settled, moving from rage to concern. "What do you mean?! Where is he?"
"I-I can take you to him. Maybe you can fix it..."
Tenzin gently landed on a cushion of air, still holding Pema, after he jumped out of the saddle and onto the balcony of his room. She hadn't been necessarily happy to see him, but that didn't change what Tenzin did. Nor would it have.
"Go on up to the dragon's quarters, girl. I'll make sure she's okay." He whispered. The resulting grunt told Tenzin all he needed to know.
As he entered his room, his mind began reeling with questions. But they would have to wait. When he reached his bed, he glanced at Pema before setting her down gently, pulling the covers over her still unconscious form. Confident that she would be comfortable, the Airbender walked over to the wall and leaned against it, his own fatigue finally catching up to him. As sleep began to overtake him, one question stuck out above all the others. Why were the police working with Gareth?
Pema's eyes opened to reveal surroundings as yet unfamiliar to her. She bolted upright, only to notice Tenzin sleeping in the corner, snoring on occasion.
Did he...save me? Why? Why would—wait, where am I? She slid out of the bed and walked out onto the balcony, and what she saw took her breath away.
"The Royal Tower..." She looked down at the lit city stretching before her, the dark of night overhead. "It's...so pretty." She spun around, reentering the room. "Why did you bring me here?"
Tenzin's only response was a contented exhalation, and Pema sighed. I guess I'm gonna have to wait 'til morning to get answers, huh?
The wind blew through the opening and caused her to shiver. "What is going on?" She wondered aloud. Fear gripped her. How would things be now? It seemed as if benders had once again taken away everything from her. But at the same time...
He saved me. He...he risked his life for me.
Kitsune bit her lip as she continued to stare at his sleeping form. I'm gonna regret this later; aren't I? She pulled the blanket off of the bed and sat down next to him, pulling the sheet over both of them. She laid her head on his shoulder, allowing his rhythmic breathing to lull her to sleep.
- Aang's journey to the Spirit World prompted me to examine my past fanon work, and I realized something. Sons and Daughters will not be able to answer all the questions it and AaBE have posed, and it will not be able to accommodate another storyline, one that I realized I'd inadvertently set up in both my fanons. So, I have been working on another fanon project that will begin after S&D is over and The Legend of Korra has begun. It All Ends will bring the overarching story together, so be on the lookout for that.
For the collective works of the author, go here.