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|The World Meeting, Pt. 1- Realization|
Chapter 10: RealizationEdit
The newly christened Warriors’ Legacy decided to celebrate their first victory at a high-end restaurant called The Bath House, courtesy of Lu Ten and Fiora. Delicacies of all kinds flowed in and out of the kitchen as the voracious young adults cleared plate after plate.
“Hey, Lu Ten,” Sora inquired between bites, “Won’t your dad be angry about you guys spending this kind of money?”
I doubt he’d even notice. “Nah, he said as long as we didn’t go overboard, we’d be fine. Besides,” He glanced around at the victorious team, “I think this calls for celebration, don’t you?”
Tenzin raised his glass. “To our Pro Bending team, who pulled together an amazing victory, and to Kyani, without whom we might have been stuck with a horribly laughable name.”
The children began to chuckle, and Kyani raised an eyebrow. “Thanks Tenzin…”
Gareth folded his hands. “We know where they’re going to strike next?”
Sun Loc nodded. “Their scouts have been eying Administrator Yung’s travel route for weeks, and we believe they intend to strike just days from the World Meeting.”
“Why would they want to do that?”
“Simple Doma,” Gareth replied, “They want to try and scare both the Avatar and the Fire Lord away from the proceedings.” He smirked. “They’re in over their heads. We intercept their strike party before they reach Yung, but don’t underestimate their abilities.”
Doma nodded. “Who’ll lead?”
“I am.” Sun Loc leaned forward. “You and Gareth will evaluate our strategy for the next Pro Bending match, and I’ll deal with the Equalists.”
“If Kiryu Iran is there, don’t be a fool. Send someone to get me.”
“Oh my gosh, I can barely move…” Chikyuu complained.
Sora smiled. “Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten so much.”
“But it was so good!”
“It was.” Sanaki agreed before turning to Lu Ten and Fiora. “Thanks again, guys!”
The Crown Prince shrugged. “Not a problem.”
Tenzin stretched as he walked. “Does anyone know when our next match is?”
San looked back at him. “It’s in two days; we’re supposed to be fighting the last tournament’s champions.” She turned back to Lu Ten. “If you want, we can switch; I know how much this means to you.”
He smiled and shook his head, remembering her joyous expression after the victory. She loved it, and he wasn’t going to take that away from her. “No, you go ahead; I…I want you to enjoy yourself.”
She grinned, and his heartbeat increased. “Thanks! But you are going to take the match after this one.” It wasn’t a question.
As they reached the tower, Chikyuu paused. Someone was beyond the doorway. “Wait!” As they all stopped, she attempted to find out who it was. Whoever they were, she knew them, but her friends sudden anxiety and awareness clouded her vision.
Kyani whipped out a shoto faster than the young Earthbender thought possible, and Lu Ten reached out and pushed the door open.
A rough female voice met the stunned teenagers. “Put down that sword before you hurt yourself, Kyani. And Tenzin, I am not happy with you.”
Chikyuu’s eyes widened. “Mom?!”
“I can’t believe you let Fiora and Chikyuu go around unsupervised!” Toph paced the main hall. “I expected this sort of reckless behavior from Tenzin.”
“Hey!” His outburst was met by a pebble to the face. “Ow!”
“But not you, Sora; I expect better from you.”
Sora nodded. “Yes, Ma’am, someone should’ve been with them. I take full—.”
“Now wait a second!” Chikyuu stepped forward. “Fiora and I can take care of ourselves!”
Toph shot her daughter a half smile. “I know you are very skilled, Sweetie, but if it wasn’t for Longshot, Fiora could’ve been injured or worse.” She shook her head. “Those useless Lily Livers…I’ll have their heads for this. What else have I been training them for?”
“If it’s worth anything, I am sorry, Mrs. Bei Fong.” Tenzin hung his head. “If Kyani and I hadn’t—if I hadn’t been so preoccupied, this wouldn’t have happened.”
The veteran Earthbender smirked. “How’d that taste coming out of your mouth?”
Tenzin grimaced. “Like Stewed Sea Prunes…”
Her smirk turned into a full-on grin. “In that case, I accept your apology.” She turned to Sora. “That reminds me, I have something urgent to discuss with you, Tenzin, and Kyani. We can talk about it—.”
“Mommy!” Chikyuu jumped up and down. “Didja hear? We won our first Pro Bending match!”
Toph exhaled. “What else have you gotten my daughter into?”
The Airbender simply shrugged and offered an awkward grin.
The blind Earthbender turned back to Chikyuu. “How was the fight?”
“I fought one of yours! Y’know, from your days as the Blind Bandit!”
Toph chuckled. “Which one? They’d all be pretty old by now, and I hope you didn’t cause them to break something.”
“It was the Boulder! He was fun!”
Toph couldn’t help it; she laughed so hard that tears poured from her eyes. “The Boulder?! That showboating wimp? Oh, Sweetie, I would’ve loved to have seen that!”
“Well, since you’re in town, you can come see our…well, not really see…er…” Chikyuu scratched her head, and that only prolonged Toph’s laughter.
“Maybe I will.”
Tenzin, Kyani, and Sora arrived at the fairly new Police Station, a massive, gleaming building that was home to a growing force of protectors. Dusk was upon them, so they knew they’d have to be quick.
As they entered, Toph, who had been conversing with several officers, motioned them over. “I need you to tell me what you know about a group that calls themselves the Equalists. We will have many high profile dignitaries in Republic City for the World Meeting, and our force has been tasked with ensuring that things go smoothly. No loose ends.” She narrowed her eyes. “And don’t even consider lying to me.”
Tenzin’s heart sunk; this would not be an easy conversation. “In our dealings with them, Kyani’s and mine, they just seemed like a group dedicated to non-bender equality.”
Kyani rolled his eyes. “Their weapons and fighting style definitely fit the definition of ‘peaceful’.”
“What happened exactly?” She looked to Sora.
The Waterbender shrugged. “I don’t know hardly anything about this; I wasn’t there.”
“They seemed slightly leaning toward the militant side.” Tenzin replied. “What is going on?”
Toph sighed. “It doesn’t concern you.”
Tenzin folded his arms. Maybe if I throw them a bone… “Kyani and I could point you to their hideout.”
The Blind Bandit raised an eyebrow. “You mean the warehouse? Sorry, we already have eyes on that one. Not that we could act anyway, seeing as we can’t prove anything.”
“Tell us, then!” Tenzin cried. “We can help!”
She shook her head. “You’re just kids, and no way am I gonna be the one to tell Katara that I got her children into police business.”
“It was the muggers…” Sora said quietly.
Toph sighed. “Yes, we believe so, in addition to other attacks on benders.”
Tenzin and Kyani glanced at each other. “What?” They asked in unison.
“We believe that the Equalists hired the muggers to get rid of two high profile benders and make it look unfortunate but not malicious. They knew who Fiora and Chikyuu were.”
Kyani leaned against the wall. “But you have no proof.”
“No. I know I couldn’t stop you for long, but please do me a favor and stay out of this. I don’t need to worry about you guys, too.”
As dusk turned to darkness, Tenzin sat out on one of the benches by the fountain. He waited. Sure enough, five minutes later a cloaked figure approached, but it wasn’t her.
The figure gave a slight bow. “Please accept our apologies; she was sent on a last minute assignment. I was instructed to meet you instead.”
He raised an eyebrow. “What kind of assignment?”
The man shook his head. “Once again, I apologize; I cannot divulge that information. If you wish to see her, you may come to the fountain any time after tonight.”
Tenzin nodded. “Fine.”
Tenzin turned as the Equalist moved back toward the shadows. As soon as the man reached the alleyway, however, the young Airbender whirled and gave chase silently, cushioning his footfalls with little pockets of air. He smiled; his father’s Airbending lessons had made him a master at a relatively young age.
He had once overheard his father talking to Teo at the Northern Air Temple.
“I’m telling you, Teo, Tenzin’s a child prodigy! The only reason I mastered it any faster is because of my status as the Avatar.”
Teo chuckled. “Is that so?”
Aang shrugged. “I only wish I had his raw strength. When he achieves mastery of an Airbending technique during training, I notice that he is far stronger than I was.”
The crippled Air Nomad raised an eyebrow. “He’s stronger than you?”
Aang smiled. “He will be. Only the memory of Gyatso’s sheer power will rival him one day.”
Teo laughed. “Man, that must feel weird. Hey, what do you call that: living with an inflated sense of pride and a deflated ego at the same time?”
Aang grinned. “Parenthood.”
That praise had stuck with him, and it drove him to seek new heights, new limits to his power.
Tenzin inhaled, taking in the cool night air as he essentially glided across the rooftops of the shorter buildings. What he saw next, though, sent a jolt of pity through him. The Equalists had surrounded a group of benders, and they had the advantage of numbers.
He grimaced. There’s Solf. Koruhagi’s signature knives were still sheathed, but the benders looked exhausted. As Solf spoke, Tenzin made an air funnel to better be able to hear the noise.
“You have for too long taken because you feel you have the power! But now the power is ours to do with as we please.” An evil smile appeared on his lips. “We should set an example.” He whipped out a shikkar. “Starting with you…”
He pulled up one of the men by his collar. “What’s your name?”
“Sun Loc.” The man’s eyes held a defiant stare.
“And what are you, Sun Loc?”
“And it is that crime you are being punished for, Earthbender! That, in addition to the notion that you could stop us by hindering our attacks this one time!”
Sun Loc sneered. “It would’ve been a real fight if you’d stop using your men as human shields and attacking an opponent from behind!” The Earthbender spit in Solf Koruhagi’s face, resulting in a strike across his jaw.
“You dare?!” The shikkar was pressed against his throat. “I shall teach you what it means to quarrel with the Equalists!”
Tenzin moved to strike the knife out of his hand, but his efforts were stopped by a familiar voice. “Wait!”
Solf sighed. “What is it, now, Kitsune?”
A masked figure stepped out of the crowd. “We don’t have to operate this way. If we prey on their fear, it’ll work just as well in our favor.”
He rolled his eyes. “This is an adequate way to spread fear! Your constant talk of mercy is beginning to annoy me, and besides, you haven’t even—!”
“We don’t operate this way!” The figure insisted.
Koruhagi snorted. “Fine, mercy it is.” He motioned her forward. “Kitsune…if you please.”
Tenzin turned away and attempted to calm his rapidly beating heart with some meditative exercises, and each attempt failed. He was in two parts relieved and horrified. His relief stemmed from the fact that the one Solf had called ‘Kitsune’ was Pema and that she wasn’t like Koruhagi. His horror was caused by the realization of just how far the Equalists were willing to go.
“Your Pro Bending match is in two days, and the World Meeting begins in three.” Toph sat down with the group. “That means I won’t be able to attend.” She tousled her daughter’s hair when she began to pout. “I’m sorry, Chikyuu, but I have to coordinate plans with the Police Department. Maybe next time.”
Chikyuu looked away. “I guess so…”
The Tower’s main doors opened, and Tenzin walked in, visibly pale and obviously distracted.
Sora put her hands on her hips. “Where’ve you been? You left over an hour ago!”
“I was out exploring the city. You’re not my babysitter.” His short reply caught her off guard.
“What happened? Are you—?”
“I’m fine. Nothing happened.” As he entered his quarters, Sora looked to Kyani for an explanation, but he simply shrugged.
When he closed the door, Tenzin exhaled and banged his fist against the wall. What am I gonna do? I like this girl, but she could just as soon kill me if she found out—no, she won’t kill. I’m sure she won’t.
“Knock, knock.” Kyani leaned against the doorframe. “You okay?”
“No.” He admitted. “No I’m not.”
“Want to talk about it?”
Tenzin sighed. “I think we might be getting in over our heads with the Equalists.”
The Airbender just shook his head, so Kyani didn’t press.
Kyani laid a hand on his shoulder. “You know I’m here if you need me.”
Tenzin nodded, a bit of life returning to him. “I think I have a plan.”
Kyani slapped his own forehead. “Great…"
- This begins the end of Book 1.
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