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Book 2: War
July 17, 2013
The Pro-Bending Finals turn into an all out battle as Equalists attack the Arena.
John and Mako faced each other in a bending stance, each one waiting for the other to make a move. They both wore the padding used by the Pro-bending teams to train. Mako made the first move, using both of his fists to send two short blasts of fire. John countered, dodging the bolts and countering with a strike from both his fist and his foot. Mimicking John's moves, Mako dodged the attack and countered as well, swinging his fists in wide hooks. Dropping like he was doing a push up, John allowed Mako's attack to pass over head before he swung his foot around in a roundhouse kick. The resulting wave of fire knocked Mako off balance and sent him falling to the floor.
"Focus!" John snapped after resuming the bending stance, using his index and middle finger to point at his eyes. Mako grunted before kicked his feet out, using the momentum to land upright again. Now they began to circle each other, their eyes locked. Once again, Mako made the first move. He charged John, closing the distance so he had a better chance of landing a hit.
But John was ready for this. He easily dodged the other firebender's attacks, circling him at almost point blank range. Finally, Mako lunged his shoulder out, using his body weight to slam into John. Reversing the fall, John rolled over and off Mako's back, driving his elbow into his ribs as he went. Mako stumbled and clutched his side, having not expected the strike. John quickly used this to his advantage. He swung his foot high in the air and brought it down on Mako's back, ignoring the flames that shot out in all directions from the strike.
"Alright that's enough for now. No point in injuring you before the match tonight," John said as he stepped back. Mako grunted from the floor as he lay face down and waited for some of the pain to subside.
"The elbow jab was uncalled for," came a mutter as Mako began to push himself up from the floor. John stuck out his hand and helped Mako to his feet.
"Well from what you told me about these guys, they are very very good or they cheat. Either way, you need to be ready for anything tonight." At that moment, Korra entered the room and took notice of the two.
"Looks like someone took a beating," she said as she looked over the battered firebenders. Mako grunted.
"He insisted that I be ready for tonight. And apparently there is going to be fighting at point blank range so I now have a few bruises," he complained.
"Hey, even if you don't use the stuff I taught tonight, it will come in handy in the future," John countered. Both of them were preparing to unleash another argument, until Korra stepped in.
"You will be at the match tonight won't you?" she asked. John nodded and smiled.
"Not only me, but its looking like almost everyone from the borough who's not on duty will be too, the place is going to be packed with your guys' fans." Earlier that morning, Amon had stolen the airwaves yet again and threatened action if the Council didn't shut down the Finals. It was thanks to The Fire Ferrets, Lin, and John that the Area would be kept open. But the broadcast still had everyone on edge. Even now, he could see the worry in Korra's eyes.
"We'll have guards in both places you see and places you can't see," he said reassuringly, placing a hand on her shoulder. Korra nodded, a smile returning to her face. With an added tap for measure, John returned his attention to Mako.
"Alright, lets see what you remember," he said, grinning when the other firebender let out a groan.
The day passed fast, almost way too fast by anyone's standards. It was almost no time at all before the match was just minutes away. The Fire Ferrets stood in their locker room putting on their pads while John and Leon stood nearby, coordinating the security. Two armed Refugees were posted at each entrance to the Arena along with various members of the Hellraisers blending into the crowd.
When the time came for the Fire Ferrets to step onto the platform, Leon disappeared, leaving John to watch the match by himself. Tonight was it, the Pro-Bending Finals, the showdown between the Fire Ferrets and the White Falls Wolfbats.
From the opening attack, The Ferrets were put on edge, forced back by the fierce attack. But even from this distance, John could tell that something was right about the opposing team's bending. It took little effort to see that the Wolfbats were cheating and the Refs were paid off. Even though he wished he could intervene, John knew that he had to focus on the crowd and not some crooked Refs.
Despite the possible outcome from the beginning, the Fire Ferrets were successfully drawing out the match, giving themselves a fighting chance. John switched his attention between the match and the crowd, doing a sweep every five minutes.
His attention quickly focused on the match when he saw Bolin get knocked out of the ring, leaving Korra and Mako to fend for themselves. Their tactics changed drastically with that, both of them resorting to more quick footed action. He watched with pride as Mako and Korra acted like a well oiled machine, the two of them dancing and attacking with almost flawless effort. When an attack flew toward Mako, he reacted in the blink of an eye, turning and rolling over Korra's back in an exact copy of the move John had preformed earlier that day.
A light blue flash appeared in the crowd on the far side of the Arena, drawing John's attention away from the winding down match. He studied the mass group of people as best as he could, attempting to locate any sign of the light he had seen. As he glanced back, he had noticed that the last of the Ferrets had finally fallen to the unchecked attacks and been knocked out of the ring.
Suddenly, more flashes appeared in the crowd, this time coming from all sides. He quickly pressed his back against the wall, out of sight from the Arena. John knew without a doubt that they were under attack by the Equalists. Although the lack of gunshots from the guards concerned him, making him worry about the guards.
The door to the locker room suddenly flew open, revealing a man and a woman with hoods over their heads, bandannas over their noses and mouths, and a strange looking glove on their extended hands. John realized that these gloves must have been what was causing the flashes. Judging by what he had seen, he figured that they acted something like a taser from back home.
"Don't. Please, I surrender!" he said, bringing his hands up to be even with his shoulders. But the Equalists advanced, keeping their arms extended. John grinned at this. His plan didn't hinge on their reaction, so long as there was one.
Leaping forward, John shot his arms outwards. Multiple arks of lightning flew from the middle and index fingers on both of his hands. The Equalists screamed as the electricity surged through their bodies before they finally fell to the ground. Hurrying over, John checked their vitals, confirming that his attack hadn't killed them, only knocked them out.
"John, the Equalists are attacking from all sides, our guards have been disabled. What are your orders?" came Leon's voice from a small homemade walkie talkie that sat on a nearby bench. John paid it no mind as he raced to take the gloves from the pair as well as the mask from the man.
"As soon as you get a signal, you light 'em up," he replied before he threw the radio against a wall. Pulling the bandana up over his nose, John took off at a run and bounded off of the railing. Using his right hand, he gripped a wire that ran between the Arena wall and the ring, using it to slide his way toward the action.
Amon and a small group of Equalists were standing in the center of the ring while Amon gave a speech. But John ignored him as he slid toward the ring's underbelly. Letting go of the wire, John flew through the air and landed on the deck, not far from where The Lieutenant was tying up Korra, Mako, and Bolin.
"You go sir, I can finish here," he said, using the mask to his advantage.
"Handle these three with caution, especially the Avatar," The Lieutenant replied before he turned away and began to make his way back up to Amon. John waited until he was gone before he set to undoing the bonds on the team. Korra groaned as she began to wake up.
"I'm going up with him Korra, I expect you to be there when I make my move," he said. Korra blinked in confusion.
"John?" With a wink, he turned away and hurried up stairs to where the Equalists were loading onto platforms that had been lowered through the glass dome overhead. Along with The Lieutenant and another Equalist, John stepped onto a platform and held on as they began to be lifted through the dome. He kept his eye on the arena below them, watching as Korra began to bend water around her in order to follow.
"Don't worry, my brother, not even the Avatar can bend something this high," The Lieutenant said. John watched as she began to fall back toward the water, as if confirming his words. But at the last possible second, Lin's cables appeared and helped propel Korra toward them.
"I wouldn't count her out just yet," he said before using both gloves to grip The Lieutenant and the other Equalist's throat. Neither one of them had time to speak before the shock passed through their bodies. Throwing the gloves to the side, John brought out his pistol and fired three shots at airship above.
As he dropped away from the platform and landed on the edge of the hole, Korra shot out and landed next to him.
"You take him, I got this guy," he said, motioning between Amon and The Lieutenant before holstering his pistol. Korra gave a quick nod before she shot bolts of fire into the open bay of the airship. Nearby, The Lieutenant was recovering from the attack, drawing his electrified sticks. John charged him, dodging the swing from the sticks and striking with his fist at his exposed ribs.
The Lieutenant leapt back before trying again, flanking John. But John was ready for this, kicking away one of the sticks before gripping the hand containing the remaining one.
"How dare you act like this, you traitor!" The Lieutenant shouted, the strain of the struggle evident in his voice.
"I was never on your side," John replied before he drove his heel into The Lieutenant's foot. Crying out, The Lieutenant separated from John, the two of them going a short distance apart.
"You little brat, there will be no mercy for you after this!" came the shout as The Lieutenant recovered his other stick. With another twirl, he charged John. This time, however, he drew his pistol again.
"Geronimo, you bastard!" he shouted before firing his pistol into the glass below their feet. In the blink of an eye, the glass shattered and sent both of them falling into the Arena.
"John NO!" came Korra's shout from overhead.
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