|More from Mageddon725||Action/Drama||PG-13||Positive||No update page|
|The White Lotus Gambit, Pt. 2|
Chapter 9: The White Lotus Gambit, Pt. 2
Hizumi bent backwards as a steady stream of orange fire sailed over her. When Shingen jumped up over his desk and launched a downward blast, she pressed her hands against the floor and pulled her body over into a backflip. Fire splashed against the ground, and she landed on the balls of her feet.
Shingen punched forward with his right hand, letting loose a barrage of fire that set the threshold of the door ablaze. As he pulled back with his left and charged another blast, Hizumi jumped past the threshold and twisted to her right. As she pressed her body against the wall, she felt the heat of an intense flame fly past her face. The fire blast filled the doorway, but she kicked up onto the wall and grabbed the upper part of the doorframe just as the blast dissipated, using it to swing in to the room again.
The Grand Lotus released her grip and launched herself at the councilman. Shingen's eyes widened, and he ducked to the side, allowing Hizumi to sail past and catch herself on the desk. Before he could turn to engage her again, she jumped from her perch and brought an axe-kick down on his head, a maneuver he barely managed to block with both forearms raised. To his surprise, she used her leg—which was caught between his arms—to pull her body closer and drive a knee strike into his nose.
Hizumi felt the cartilage crumple as she connected, and Shingen released her leg accordingly. As she landed, her muscles tensed in preparation, and she renewed her attack with a blinding lunge. Her first strike was a solid uppercut to his unprotected midsection, but he didn't lower his guard to accommodate as she struck for his jaw, instead nudging her right hand just behind his head and elbowing her in the face in the same motion.
She ignored the pain but allowed herself to fall backwards, landing as she'd been taught and minimizing damage. Hizumi felt the air leave her lungs, but she didn't try to breathe. Instead, she brought her right leg behind Shingen's knees and her left at his hips. With one swift motion, she brought him to ground with a scissor-kick.
As he pushed away and rolled to his feet, the councilman punched forward, sending a fiery attack toward Hizumi. In response, she was already trying to get up pulled something from her belt just as the fire reached her. In a flash, she whipped out a golden fan that absorbed the small attack before spinning to her feet.
Both combatants took time to catch their breath. The fight had only begun.
Yari grimaced as Izanagi stared at him; the spirit's grin was pissing him off. "I'm going to kill you," the swordsman said.
"You didn't even hit me last time."
"You ran like a coward," Yari replied.
Izanagi lunged forward and struck, but Yari was quick to block, using the flat of the blade to soften the blow. He grunted as he still slid backward; this spirit was fast and strong. The swordsman twisted onikira's hilt, allowing the spirit to stumble forward, carried on his own force. With a quick swipe, Yari intended to lop off Izanagi's head. However, the spirit lunged to the side as soon as his foot pressed against the ground. Instead of a head, all onikira took was a hand.
Izanagi glanced down at the stump where his left hand used to be. "You actually hit me."
"Yeah," Yari said, "guess I did."
The swordsman rushed forward again as his foe stared at the stump where his hand used to be, twisting onikira until it was straight up and down and sailing toward Izanagi's chest. Izanagi, for his part, whirled to his left and ended his spin with a wide kick that slapped against Yari's wrist. The bone snapped, and the blade skittered against the ground. Yari stumbled to his left and turned to better protect his injured arm as the spirit rushed forward. He desperately parried Izanagi's wild strikes with his good arm, but it wasn't to last.
Izanagi raised his leg, acting as if he was going to kick Yari in the face. Instead, he brought his foot down on the old man's knee. The solid pop was accompanied by a searing pain, and Yari staggered backward.
Black blood dripped from the stump where Izanagi's hand had been, and the spirit grinned. "Well, this has been fun. Are you ready for round two?"
"Bring it on," the swordsman replied as he shakily brought his good arm up to block, "bastard."
As Izanagi took a step forward, another voice cut through, "No, Spirit of Chaos, your fight isn't with him."
The spirit's eyes widened, and he turned to see a gray-armored man walking toward him with deliberate, paced steps.
"That voice...I haven't heard that voice in..."
"Ten thousand damned years, you traitor. I'm back, and I won't lose this time."
Izanagi's jaw dropped. "No...how can you be...how can you be here?! I thought—"
The armored man drew his jian sword. "You thought. You didn't know. Do you remember my name?"
"Good." Karuta twirled the blade quickly and lunged at his opponent. "I've been waiting for so long!"
Sukan glanced at Yoriko, who cowered before the...whatever it was, and steadied her weapon. "Not another step! Why did you kill the Councilwoman? Who are you?!"
"My name is Lin Quei, I am the Spirit of Chaos, and I killed her because she got in my way," he replied. "As you are in my way now. Step aside; the Avatar is mine."
Sukan glanced down at the little girl clutching her leg, the little girl who was shivering in fear of the malevolence before them. Her own hands ceased their shaking; if nothing else, she would show the young Avatar what true strength was.
"You're not taking her. Period!"
As Lin Quei lunged forward, three bullets flew from the hot barrel of the gun and planted themselves solidly in Lin Quei's forehead. Yoriko screamed.
"We have to move!" Sukan gripped her hand and dragged her out of the room as the spirit staggered and tripped on the doorframe.
His blood coated the threshold and mingled with Sera's; Sukan's stomach did flips as their feet splashed through the pool left by the headless councilwoman. Had she known who he was? Did she just say something he took to be a threat?
She heard a squelching sound, followed by another scream from Yoriko. Then the pain came, a cold, burning pain in her shoulder. She looked at her left shoulder and noticed the tip of a sword sticking through it.
"I'm tired, Officer Sukan," Lin Quei said as he approached. "I've waited for this girl for six years, and now she is standing in front of me." He gripped the hilt of his sword and yanked it out of her shoulder, eliciting a scream from the young officer. "It's sad, really. You humans have ten to fifteen years where you are utterly useless, where you must be protected. How easy is it for us to take advantage of that weakness?"
A bright, blue light flashed, and Yoriko stepped between him and Sukan. Her eyes glowed, revealing the Avatar State in all its glory.
"You won't hurt anyone else!" Yoriko's voice was overlaid by a thousand others, but one stood out to Lin Quei.
"So, we finally meet, Avatar Argho?" the Spirit of Chaos said.
Another flash, and the former Earthbender materialized in Yoriko's place. "She's lost enough, don't you think?"
"No," he shook his head. "She does not know the meaning of loss; none of you humans do. However, I don't intend to take from her. I intend to give." Dark spikes grew on the fingers of his right hand as his left gripped the sword tighter. "She will become the first Avatar to be feared by both worlds; she will truly be a bridge."
Hizumi hit the desk and rolled over it, barely dodging another fire blast from Shingen. She pressed her back against the drawers on the right side and took a deep breath, her first since landing on her back half a minute before.
"Surrender, Hizumi; this can't go on."
She gritted her teeth, but a part of her noticed the screaming that came from outside. "I will not let you do this, dishonor Argho's memory!"
"What," he replied, "like fighting the police force?! I'm trying to do the right thing; I have no idea what you're doing."
The Grand Lotus leapt over the desk as he finished speaking and planted her left foot in his chest, driving the councilman against the wall. Before he could move further, she pressed the blade of her metal fan against his neck.
"Those...noises...aren't because of us. The reason we had the Avatar under guard was because she was in danger from a spirit; that spirit is probably here now. Probably trying to get to her." She continued to press until the fan drew blood. "Now, answer one of my questions: How did you do it? How did you alter Argho's will?"
"I...told you; I didn't," Shingen said. "...I would never do something like that."
"Stop lying!" she cried. "If you didn't, then who did?"
Shingen frowned and swallowed slowly. "I don't know. You seem convinced, and it's unlikely you would lie to me. But I don't know. Varro and I are the only ones who have had access to it, to my knowledge."
Hizumi stepped away from him and sheathed her fan. "Fine, let's say I believe you...why did Varro have it?"
"He brought it to me," he replied. "I asked him to go and get it before I made any plans to take the girl."
Before Hizumi could respond, an officer ran in, breathless, and began to speak, ignoring the patches of fire and destruction.
"Sir, we just lost ten men to several...things! They attacked us out of nowhere, and we were only rescued by two crazy men with swords and an Earthbender with an axe. They are currently in combat with one of the spirits; the others have disappeared!"
Shingen's eyes widened. "So...you were telling the truth, after all..."
The officer raised an eyebrow. "Sir?"
"Nothing," he replied and waved the man off. "Go gather the wounded and move them into the building if you can; I'll be out to see this in a moment. How are our rescuers faring?"
"Not good, sir...the older man is injured, and the other...is crazy."
Shingen glanced at Hizumi, who shrugged. "Alright. Thank you, now go and do as I asked." As the man left, he turned to Hizumi. "We should probably check on the young Avatar."
"We can, but I made sure that Sera would watch over her," she said. "That, and I'm sure you've sent your own—" Her eyes widened. "Wait, where is Varro?!"
"I don't kn—" The councilman sighed. "You can't be serious..."
"I am," she replied.
"We need to find out. If he is unaccounted for, that could mean..."
Hizumi moved toward the doorway. "We both know what it means. Let's go."
Lyre sprinted toward City Hall, and she could already hear the screams. She frowned; anyone unfortunate enough to get in Izanagi's way...she didn't envy them.
The Waterbender rounded the corner and noticed Uzzu's motorcycle. Her gaze moved from the vehicle to the stairs leading up to the building, where Uzzu and several officers limped away from the battle that took place at the base of the steps. When she finally glanced in that direction, she saw Jing slicing into Izanagi with his jian sword.
He moved with speed and precision, cutting into the cloaked spirit again and again, driving him away from City Hall. Izanagi backpedaled as the jian sword slipped through his body once more, and Jing spun toward his opponent, clocking him in the temple with the pommel of the weapon. When the spirit raised his right hand and gripped Jing's sword arm, he simply let the blade slip from his grasp and caught it with his other hand before lopping off Izanagi's good hand.
Lyre grinned; he was doing it.
"Time for you to finally pay your penance!" The voice was not Jing's, and Lyre's heart sank.
No... All of the speed and power in the world wouldn't matter if her friend was gone again.
"I've been paying for ten thousand years, Karuta!" Izanagi cried as he weaved around several sword strikes, missing the blade by a hair. New life seemed to come to the cloaked spirit, and Lyre knew something was wrong. "Now it's time I have my say!"
She watched Karuta...Jing...whoever it was drive the sword through Izanagi's neck and rip it out just as quickly when Izanagi stumbled. His foe went down on one knee, coughing and sputtering, and Karuta pushed him into the snow with a heavy forward kick.
"This time...I win," he said, and Izanagi grimaced.
"At what cost? Was it worth taking a human life?"
"You're one to talk," Karuta scoffed. "How many lives have you taken since you've been back?" With that, he drove the sword through his opponent's head. "Besides, we had an agreement."
Lyre took a step toward them. What did he mean, an agreement? "Jing...are you in there?"
The armored figure glanced at her before pulling off his mask. Jing's smile was enough to temporarily set Lyre's mind at ease.
"He isn't lying; we have a deal. I give him Izanagi; he gives me my life back."
He slipped the mask back on, and Karuta was in control once again. "Once this is done, he is free to be a scholar, as he planned. But not until I see Izanagi dragged bleeding before the council."
"I..." To everyone's surprise, the spirit stood, looked past the sword in his face at his rapidly regrown right hand, and pulled the sword from his own head. "I plan on seeing them myself, Karuta. Without you."
Before Karuta could react, Izanagi lunged forward and drove a heavy blow into his stomach. The armor plating buckled against the powerful strike, which was immediately followed by a snap-elbow that knocked the mask from Jing's face. His body hit the snow with a sickening thud, and Lyre, without thinking, pulled water from the snow and made a tentacle that snaked its way toward Izanagi. When it reached him, the water at the end froze, and the sharp, icy protrusion stabbed him in the chest.
Please...be alive, Jing. Nana will kill us both...
Argho's glowing eyes narrowed as the wind picked up around him. "I don't even want to consider what your plans are, you psychopath."
"You mean you haven't figured it out, yet?" Lin Quei asked. "I just told you what was going to happen."
The Spirit of Chaos leapt forward and plunged the dark spikes into Argho's midsection, and his resounding cackle sent chills down Sukan's spine.
"So begins a new age, Argho! And you can watch from your perch in the Spirit World, all of you! The hotheaded Water Tribe brat, the self-righteous Airbender, the Firebending coward! All of you can watch and realize that I—"
A crack resounded on the air, and Lin Quei staggered backward once again with another bullet hole in his forehead.
"Just shut up..." Sukan clenched her teeth and held the gun aloft as her left arm hung uselessly at her side.
Argho's eyes widened as his form began dissipating, revealing once again the little girl that he had, for a moment, taken the place of.
"What...what have you done?!" As his body faded away, the glow in Yoriko's eyes shifted from blue to orange.
Lin Quei righted himself as the bullet slipped out of his head and the wound closed up. When he noticed the change in Yoriko's eyes, he grinned.
"I have made the Avatar of Balance mine, an Avatar of Chaos!"
- Just so you know, I will be going into more detail with Jing and Karuta's working relationship.
- Poor Yoriko. She's just had the worst go of it.
- What, exactly, is Lin Quei trying to accomplish? Well, you'll have to wait to find out!
For the collective works of the author, go here.