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Aboard the starship The Heart of Korra, Kiviuq finds himself as a member of the crew, quietly trying to make it earth without revealing his identity. But things become difficult when an ominous danger arrives from the depths of space.
"I can't be the Avatar! I'm not strong enough! What if I fail?" a young Kundun cried.
A monk placed his hand on the Avatar's shoulder. "If you believe that you will fail, you will. Believe in yourself."
"If I fail to keep the world balanced, I won't be able to live with myself!" Asuka said.
"Avatar Asuka, you must first find balance in yourself," a Fire Sage replied.
"I am not meant for this role. Why me?" Zan pleaded with Korra's spirit.
"You are not the first to say these things, and you will not be the last. But I will guide you," Korra consoled the young earthbender.
I woke up in a cold sweat. The imagery of the dreams seemed so real, as if they were memories. "Are you okay?" Poe whispered from his bunk.
"Yeah," I replied as I pushed my thin covers off my legs. "I'm going to take a walk."
"Alright, don't get into trouble," the boy replied before drifting off to sleep once again.
I put on my dull gray uniform and quietly swung open the thick metal door. The hallways outside of the room were brightly lit and my eyes had to adjust to the change. I made my way down the halls toward the passenger wing. As I passed Nuka's door, I stopped. It must be fate that she happened to be on this ship, I thought. The one ship I chose for my escape. If she notices me, I'm done for. I'll be ejected, or worse, sent back to Yue and forced to become the Avatar. These things weighed heavily on me. If these dreams continue, (as they had for nearly two nights) I will eject myself from this dreaded ship.
At the end of the passenger wing there was a secured metal door with a scanner. I waved the wristband given to me by captain Khan and was immediately allowed through the door. On the other side, the sounds that are usually low and ambient throughout the rest of the ship, suddenly became loud and noisy. The sounds of hissing pipes and humming engines. I don't know why I went back there, I guess I needed something to drown out the weight of my own thoughts. The engine wing, was the perfect place for that. There are two engine wings, the port and the bow. I was in the bow. It was farther away from most of the crew and therefore quieter, or so I thought. I heard a sudden sound like the clanking of metal. When I went to investigate I found a man hammering away at a pipe. "Hey there friend," he said when saw me. I immediately recognized his voice as the man that nearly shot me two days before.
"Having problems?" I asked, hoping he wouldn't recognize my voice.
The man sighed. "Yeah, the energy isn't flowing through these pipes as well as it should, I was just making sure they weren't clogged." He laughed. "I know it isn't the most scientific method, but I was just giving it a shot!"
"Don't they have guys for that?"
"I am the guy. Cheng, at your service. What's your name cabin boy?"
"Nice to meet you Koda." The man turned once again to his work. "I have a degree in directional energy sciences, I should know how to fix this, but I can't seem to figure it out. Some other energy source must be interfering with it."
"I'm a-" I began to say. I stopped once I realized a cabin boy would not be a directional energy major.
"What was that?" Cheng asked, looking up at me.
"Oh nothing. So you can't fix it?"
"Oh I can fix it! *COUGH, COUGH*"
"Are you okay?" I asked, getting on my knees next to the man.
"Yeah, yeah, just a little cold. You think they would have cured that by now." He laughed. "No, I can fix it. What I wouldn't give to have my metalbending right now, instead of using these stupid tools."
"You can't metalbend?"
"Not here, not this far out in space. We earthbenders acquire our power from terrestrial planets. Don't me ask me why, that's a question for bendologists. All I know, is I picked the wrong job." Cheng chuckled. "But all is good. *COUGH, HACK*" The man dropped his tools. "Maybe, I-I'm not so good. This cold is a full blown fever."
"Maybe you should go lie down."
"Yeah, I plan on it. Don't you worry about the pipes. We'll get to earth, just a little bit slower than normal."
"Will you be okay?" I asked as I helped Cheng up off the floor.
"Oh yeah. It's just a little fever from spending too much time in that moon city, I don't know how you people live there. Anyway, I'll log in sick back in my room." Cheng grabbed his tools and started to make his way toward the exit of the rear engine wing. "I'll see you around moon man."
When he was gone I bent down and felt the pipe with my hands. It was colder than it should have been. Cheng was right, there wasn't as much energy flowing. If Cheng is sick, I should let the captain know, I thought to myself. I left the engine wing and started through the passenger wing once again. I was almost through it before a familiar voice stopped me. "Um, Excuse me sir," came a girl's voice from behind. It was Nuka.
"Yes?" I said, without turning around.
"My door won't lock and I can't seem to figure out why, could you take a look at it please?"
I swallowed hard. "I-Uh-"
"Oh please sir," the girl pleaded.
"Yes, I'll take a look." I turned around but kept my head low and out of her direct line of sight. Thankfully for me, she had just come out of her room and her eyes hadn't fully adjusted. Once my back was turned to her and took a knee in front of her door and examined the lock. "What do you think is wrong with it? I asked in a slightly deeper voice.
"I think it might be electrical," she said.
I tried to focus on the door, but having my ex-girlfriend stand over me put me on edge. I couldn't think. What if she notices me? What if she tells someone? What will I do. These thoughts bombarded me as I tried to keep my cool.
"I'm sorry I had to bother," she told me as she glanced over my shoulder. "I'm a night cat-owl, I don't sleep very well."
"What do you do all night?" I asked, hoping to keep her mind on herself and not on me.
"I read, and write mostly. I'm a literature major. I was accepted for a study abroad program, that's why I am going to Ba Sing Se...I don't mean to bore you, tell me about yourself."
I choked. "What do you like to read?"
"Oh," she said. "I actually specialize in the works of Iroh. I'm hoping I'll get to see the Jasmine Dragon when I'm in Ba Sing Se. It's over four hundred years old."
"That's interesting." I said. "And what does Nuvuk think of you traveling alone?" There was a long pause. I said Nuvuk.
"How do you know my father's name?" The girl questioned. "He told me no one would know who I was. Do I know you?"
"No, no. I just recognized you. I used to go to high school with you," I said quickly.
"I don't remember you. What's your name?"
"Koda. My name is Koda."
"I don't remember a Koda."
"Of course, no one remembers me."
"Well that's okay, Koda. We've now officially met." I couldn't see her face, but I could tell she was smiling.
"I'm so sorry, miss. I can't seem to fix it. I'll have to get tech down here," I said, hoping to escape her.
"Oh, well that's fine." She reached for my hand to help me as I stood up. My skin tingled from her touch. She jerked her fingers away from my skin, as if she felt it too. I could sense she was smiling, but I kept my face turned away. "I hope I see more of you, Koda."
"Me too." I lied, sort of. She stepped into her room and closed the door behind her. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
I pushed through the exiting door of the passenger wing only to find myself immediately grabbed and slammed into the wall. "I overheard you two talking!" Ling snarled. "Listen green. I've had my eyes on that dame since she walked onto the ship, and I've got two days left to grab her attention. You know there is a rumor floating around that she is a general daughters. Now can you imagine what that could do for me? Huh!?"
"If you touch her-" I growled.
"What? You'll do what? Tell me green?" The boy mocked. "Nothing! That is what you'll do!" Ling motioned with his head to Chan. The firebender had been standing by his side the waiting for a command. "Do it." Ling said. The chubby boy nodded and pressed one hot finger against my stomach. It burnt through the fabric and made contact with my skin.
"Aghh!" I cried.
Ling smiled. "She's mine. And if you so much as look in her direction, I'll have Chan here give you a nasty tattoo, with my name on it. Get it, Moon Man?"
"Yeah," I groaned. The boy released his grip on me and I slid to the floor. When he turned around to Chan I jumped up. "Aghh!" I yelled as I swung my fist. *THWACK!* the youth went down with a smash. Chan lit fire bladed beneath his fists and silently threatened me.
Ling stood up and rubbed his jaw. "How dare you!!" He screamed angrily. He went to punch me, but stopped. "I've got a better idea." He smiled. He grabbed me by the arm and led me down the hallway, all the while Chan stood behind me, ready to act if I resisted. Ling led me up the compact stairs and onto the deck where black suited men and woman moved tirelessly.
"What is your business on deck gray suit!?" A woman officer demanded.
"This cabin boy, who is under my command has been acting violently and resisting orders," the boy said. "I need to speak to Captain Khan immediately."
The woman examined Ling's bloody nose and bruised jaw and then eyed me. "Permission granted. See to it that the captain serves him a right punishment."
Ling dragged me into the center of the command deck where Peg-Leg Khan stood overseeing his crew. "Captain!" The boy shouted.
"What are you doing up here?" Khan questioned.
"This green is acting out against me and fraternizing with the females in the passenger wing. I tried to talk some sense into him, but he wouldn't listen, and he attacked me." Ling motioned to his face.
"What do you have to say for yourself, Koda!?" The captain demanded.
"None of that happened sir. I was with Cheng in the rear engine wing." I told him. Ling looked at me with surprise.
"He's lying sir."
"And what were your doing in the rear engine wing this late at night, cabin boy?" The jolly captain's voice wasn't jolly. He spoke with the authority of a leader.
"Cheng was telling me that the energy flow in the ship isn't at its normal height. He told me something must be interfering with it. I was going to help him search for the source, but he came down with moon fever and we had to abandon the project. I was on my way to tell you."
"But what held you up?" The captain asked seriously.
I looked to my feet. "A girl, in the passenger wing."
"This is serious news that should have reached my ears long ago. An energy disruption is not a light matter. You will spend a day in the brig, and maybe you will learn to do your duty before flirting with the passengers." The captain wheeled around yelled for a man who sat by an array of screens. "Increase the scan radius and set the scanners to search for spirit frequency only!"
"Aye-Aye!" The man shouted before quickly giving several commands to his computer. He projected the image of the scanners onto the large deck windows for the captain to see. There was nothing.
The captain sighed and turned to me. "This could have been a lot worse. Be thankful it wasn't. Ling, take him to the brig-"
"Sir!" the man at the scanners yelled. There was a sudden loud beeping and from the edge of the large screen a fuzzy purple glow began to emerge.
The captain clenched his fist. "Spirits."
"They're swarming sir. They'll be within range of out guns in ten minutes," the man shouted.
The captain cursed. "That's what has been disrupting our energy flow, with a swarm this size we might not have enough power to energize the hull. And my only directional energy engineer is sick!"
"Uh captain?" I said.
"What!?" The man yelled.
"I am a major in directional energy sciences. I believe I can fix the problem."
The captain's anger suddenly receded into hope. "Why in the world are you a cabin boy!" He exclaimed. "How long will it take you to get the energy flowing again?"
"I think I can do it in seven minutes."
"You've got five. The sooner you get that energy going, the sooner we can energize the hull, otherwise, they'll phase right through it and destroy us from the inside. Ling, go with Koda to the rear engine wing and do anything he tells you! Go!" Khan turned to his crew and began to shout commands. "Make sure our guns are ready! Contact the cargo wing and have them secure everything! I want people posted in the passenger wing immediately! Hop to it people!!!"
I grabbed Ling by the arm and dragged him down the stairs and toward the engine wing. I could hear him cursing but I ignored him. The PA system buzzed and the captain's voice came over. "This is your captain speaking. We have just received signals of a large spirit swarm heading toward our ship. The odds of it passing over are slim, they will most likely attack and therefore I am asking all passengers to remain in your room. Your doors will be automatically locked for your safety. And I ask that all of my crew do the jobs you were trained to do...The Heart of Korra has never lost a fight, she won't lose today."
When he was finished a loud buzzing alarm began to blare through the spacecraft. People in gray and black uniforms scrambled to their post. As we ran down the tight hallways we came across Po. "Po!" I shouted.
The earthboy pushed passed the throng of other gray suits to meet us. "Did you here?"
"Yes, yes I did. I am going to the engine wing, captain's orders. Nuka's door is broke, I need you to go make sure she is safe!" I urged him.
"You've got it Koda!" Po took off down the hallway ahead of us. I didn't see Po or Nuka when we passed through the passenger wing. I assumed Po did his job. On the other end, the three of us scrambled into the engine wing and went straight for the pipes.
"Ah," I exclaimed. "The spirits may be disrupting the flow but we can give it more juice.
"How?" Chan asked, it was the first time I had heard him speak.
"We need defense, not speed. If we can siphon some of the power running to the engines into these pipes, we can give the ship enough power to energize the hull."
"Can't they do that from the deck?" Chan asked.
"Yes, and they already have, but it isn't enough. We need more, which means we're going to have to do it manually. Each pipe has extra connectors, and we are bound to have extra pipes lying around. If we can run a pipe from that connecter in the engine pipe..." I said pointing to one of the many metal pipes running to the main engine room. "To this pipe's connecter." I said pointing back to one of the pipes running into the wall. "We can give the ship just enough juice."
"What do you want me to do?" Chan asked.
"Go to storage and look for any extra pipes long enough to connect between these two. While you are doing that, Ling and I will work on redirecting the energy from these pipes into other ones so that we can get these connectors opened. Go!" Chan ran to do as I said and find a pipe. "Ling, find a wrench while I tell the computer to redirect seal off these certain pipes.
Ling stood there with his arms folded. "I'm not doing anything you say."
"If you don't we will all die!"
The boy slammed his foot on the metal floor. "You come on to this ship, a green with no experience or seniority. You get in the way of my girl, you steal the loyalty of the people under my command and you become the captain's favorite! I would rather die than give in and listen to the likes of you." Ling swung at me with his fist before I could react, knocking me to the floor. *CLING* My head hit a metal pipe. The boy jumped on top of me and grabbed me by the collar. "And if we do survive the swarm. I'll tell them a spirit killed you!" He pulled me up by the collar and slammed me once again into the metal. I could feel blood running warmly down my neck. The black haired youth snarled and pulled me up once more. *THWACK* Ling fell unconscious.
"You okay?" Chan asked as he helped me up. "I brought you a pipe. Are you well enough to put it on?"
I ran my hand across the back of my head, when I pulled it back into view it was covered in blood. I was lightheaded. "Yeah, I-I'll b-be fine. Let's g-get those pipes redirected. Take off the connectors. We've got less than three minutes!" I ran to the computer and gave it commands to shut off the two pipes we needed. Then I turned around and hurried to help Chan remove the connectors. The longer our work seemed to take, the louder the alarm seemed to blare. "Tell the computer to turn the pipes back on!" I told Chan as I retightened the last bolt. The boy stood up and ran to the computer. "Aghh!" I grunted as I put all my weight into the bolt. "There! Got it. Turn'em on!" There was no answer. I wheeled around to find Chan unconscious on the floor.
"It's just me and you again, Moon Man," Ling growled menacingly. He held Chan's wrench in his hands.
A voice came over the PA. "Why isn't my hull energized, Koda! It's ready when you are. You have thirty seconds!"
"Thirty seconds." Ling laughed. "I can take care of you in thirty seconds. I stared at the crazy youth. His eyes weren't normal, he had lost it. We stared at each other, in anticipation for I don't know how long. Too long.
I bolted for the computer, pushing Ling aside as I went. I reached for the command button but he tripped me. I fell to the floor. We grappled for dominance as the seconds wasted. He swung his wrench, *CLUNK* it hit the floor, inches from my face. I scrambled for the computer, all the while counting the time in my head. 10...
Ling grabbed my shirt collar and yanked me back.
I hit the boy on the chin, but it didn't face him.
I made a final break for the button... But Ling caught me by my white hair.
There was sudden violent crash, as if a hundred giant rocks had crashed into the side of the ship. The floors shook. The pipes shook. My bones shook. I could hear the spirits screeching as they gnawed and clawed and the hull of the ship. I had done it. I had done it with a second to spare. Ling lay asleep in his own blood next to Chan.
"I heard the captain's voice come over the PA. Please remain calm. We'll be shutting off all the lights to funnel the little but of power we have to continue energizing the hull." I could hear the relief in Khan's voice.
The lights shut down and I was left in the dark. I rested by aching back against the energy pipes and breathed a sigh of relief.
*SCREECHHH!!!!* My relief was cut short. There was spirit on the ship, lurking in the darkness.
I could hear Korra's voice creeping up from my soul... "Face it."
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