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|The World Meeting, Pt. 2- Everything Burns|
Chapter 11: Everything Burns
Lu Ten stood on the balcony leading out of his room, shaking from a combination of terror and the cold night wind. The nightmare had returned again, and this time more vivid than ever.
He opened his palm, glancing down to look at the flame he had created, and he began to breathe rhythmically. As his concentration grew, so did his fire's intensity. He opened his eyes once more and allowed himself a small smile when he saw that it had turned a bright blue.
The Crown Prince closed his hand into a fist, extinguishing the flame that had been present. We spent all day today training for the match... or... the others did.
He turned to reenter his room. "I just hope the training paid off..."
Gareth opened his eyes and sat up in his bed. Today was the day. Things would be different no matter the outcome, whether they gained new allies or not remained to be seen. He looked at his wife's sleeping form and smiled. She was his motivation, his drive.
He would do anything for her. Anything.
"What time's the fight again?" Chikyuu asked as Tenzin and Sora practiced moving water back and forth.
"Later this afternoon." Tenzin replied with some strain. Can't lose concentration...
San looked up from her book. "Who are we facing today, anyway? I mean, we were told that they were the previous tournament's victors, but does anyone here actually know anything about them?"
Tenzin let his control over the air currents around the water drop. "That's just it; we don't know."
"I don't like not knowing things." Kyani folded his arms. "You guys should be careful; this team could cause trouble."
Chikyuu grinned. "If the guys we fought last time were the runners-up, this team should be a piece of cake!"
Tenzin nodded and pointed at the young Earthbender. "From the mouths of babes, er...pre-teens..."
"So you assume..." Kyani shook his head.
Gareth shook his head. "I expected better from you, Sun Loc."
"He snuck up behind me!" The Earthbender complained.
"As an Earthbender, you shouldn't have let that happen." The Firebender folded his hands. "At least the attack on Administrator Yung never occurred..."
"The attacks are becoming more frequent, more ferocious. Only the intervention of one of their younger members saved my life. Gareth, we need to deal with this, soon, or it'll be too late."
He nodded. "I know. I have been working on a few different plans of attack. Our efforts would be better off if we could get assistance from the Republic City Police Force, but the upcoming World Meeting has tied their hands."
Sun Loc exhaled. "Are we ready for the match tonight?"
Gareth smiled. "I believe we are. They are powerful, but we will secure victory."
Each member of the Warriors' Legacy felt exhilarated as they entered their section in the Pro Bending arena. It was their second match and already they were facing the one of the best teams in the United Republic.
Sora shot her twin a half smile. "Okay, I admit it. This is pretty awesome."
The Airbender grinned. "I knew you'd come around."
Xin Fu walked into their corner. "Are you all ready? If you are, the match will start."
"Are we allowed to know who we're fighting?" Tenzin asked as he readied the water skin at his side.
The announcer nodded. "Today, you're going up against the Brotherhood of Elements, last tournament's winners. They've decided to send Gareth, Sun Loc, and Doma to be their warriors."
Tenzin didn't know anything about the first two, but the name Doma sent off warning signals. "Thank you; we'll be ready in two minutes."
Xin Fu nodded before exiting.
Tenzin turned to Kyani. "The name Doma mean to you what it does to me?"
Kyani sat on a bench and rested his chin on folded hands. "Be careful, Tenzin."
Tenzin stared at Doma as Xin Fu went about his announcements, trying to figure out the connection. I haven't seen the other two before, so who are they? He allowed himself a small smile. At least I know I can beat this guy.
At the starting gong, Tenzin rushed forward, pulling a stream of water out of the skin with an air funnel and directing it to wrap around Doma's hands.
The Waterbender's eyes widened. "Wait! We need to speak with—oof!" His statement was cut short when Tenzin dashed toward him and delivered a powerful kick to his midsection.
As his opponent doubled over, Tenzin concentrated the air around his air funnel, making it colder. When it reached freezing temperature, an icicle now replaced the water whip. He held the icicle in front of Doma's face. "It seems I have the advantage."
His adversary rolled his eyes. "We both know you won't." He replied before reducing the icicle to water again.
Tenzin smiled. "You're right." Doma gurgled as he instituted a forward chop to his throat. "But I will do that."
Chikyuu twisted to the side as three rocks flew past her face. Sun Loc hadn't yet landed a hit, but neither had she. Her foot twisted outward, releasing a fissure that ran the length of the arena to her opponent, and as he sunk into the ground, the 11 year-old brought up a cylinder of earth and started launching thick disks at her foe.
Sun Loc spun himself out of the hole in time to catch a disk to the back of the knee. A solid pop accompanied a pained grunt as Chikyuu's opponent fell to his uninjured knee. A second disk whirled around and flipped lengthwise, striking him in the shoulder. Another pop, it was dislocated.
Chikyuu winced. "Sorry!"
San stepped forward as soon as the gong rang, but her opponent looked disinterested.
"The fact that you will lose this match is a foregone conclusion. However, I do have a matter that deserves your attention."
She raised an eyebrow. What is he talking about?
Gareth took a step forward. "Stay out of our way. Interfere in our affairs again and I shall have to take action."
Sanaki shook her head. "I don't know what you're talking about." She thrust two fingers forward, allowing a ring of fire to wrap around them, all the while glancing around to see, to her excitement, her teammates succeeding. "But I'm ending this regardless."
The resulting blast had charge behind it, but Gareth simply ducked around it. "If you insist on making this difficult, I can play that game, as well."
He snapped his fingers, and a spark jumped from the friction and flew toward San. Two audible pops were heard, and her eyes widened. As the spark exploded, she put up a fire shield at the last moment, but I wasn't quite enough. The young Firebender slid back a couple of feet and shakily stood once more.
Lu Ten gripped the bench until his knuckles turned white. This wasn't supposed to happen. He recognized the form, and it was going to get bad, very bad.
Kyani laid a steadying hand on the Crown Prince's shoulder. "Calm down; don't do anything rash."
"I can't just—!"
"It was one move. If you interfere, we'll lose the match."
Lu Ten released his grip on the bench. "Fine. For now."
San shook her head to clear her senses. Whatever that attack was, it had rattled her, but it wouldn't happen again. She heard Xin Fu in the background.
"People of Republic City, you have just had the pleasure of witnessing Gareth's combustion attack! Can the Warriors' Legacy recover from this?"
Sanaki grimaced; this was nothing. She rushed toward Gareth again, launching several fireballs consecutively to keep him off balance, but he simply snapped his fingers again.
The resulting blast absorbed all of her attacks and struck her with unrelenting force. As she flew backward, fear began to wedge its way into her mind, and when she hit the ground once more, things were compounded as she felt all of the air leave her lungs. As San attempted to recover, she turned to see Tenzin staring at her in horror. As he did so, he failed to notice Doma stand up and manifest a water whip. The tendril wrapped around Tenzin's neck and flung him out of the arena.
No, no, no! I have to get up! She got to her knees and saw that her opponent was walking towards her. Chikyuu slid her foot out, sending rock chunks at the Firebender, but he simply snapped his fingers. The blast incinerated the rock chunks and broke through Chikyuu's swiftly constructed earth wall, and the knockback sent her into the water around the arena.
San stood and made a desperate lunge at Gareth, dragging waves of fire behind her. She brought her hands around and clapped, causing the fire to form into a massive wave that barreled toward her foe. For his part, Gareth simply thrust both of his hands into the blast as it connected, dispersing it to either side. When that fire subsided, two more sparks flew from the smoke, and San barely made a fire shield in time.
As it was, the power of both explosions caused her fire shield to break under the strain and implode. Smoke billowed from her clothes as she lifted her head, and blood trickled from her nose. Gareth stood over top of her, his fingers pressed together and pointed at her face.
"I will say this only once more. Stay out of our way."
San winced as he moved his fingers closer, but a flash of red and blue appeared in front of her. "You will not touch her." Lu Ten wore an expression of pure rage, and blue fire raged in his hands.
"I have one request."
"Yeah, and you've stated it. This match is over."
Gareth glanced around. Chikyuu was using an earth slab to pull herself out, and Tenzin had scaled the wall. "So it is." He lowered his hand. "Keep my request in mind." As soon as he exited the arena, Xin Fu entered.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you've just seen the Brotherhood of Elements win yet another match!" As the crowd roared, the Warriors' Legacy felt the full brunt of what had happened. They had lost.
The roar of the crowd meant nothing to Lu Ten; he whirled to face San. "Are you alright?!"
She just shook her head as tears streamed down her face.
"Ah, San, it's all my fault..." He knelt down beside her and gingerly wrapped his arms around her, careful to avoid the minor burns. "All my fault...I'm so sorry..."
They both knelt in the middle of the arena as the others gathered around them.
Gareth smirked. That was too easy. "At least they put up more of a challenge than that other team we faced."
"Speak for yourself." Sun Loc grunted as he popped his shoulder back into place and continued to limp along. "I'm going to be out for a while."
Doma turned to the Firebender. "What happens now?"
Gareth grew serious. "Now we strike at the Equalists until they fall."
- The way Gareth performs combustion is similar to Roy Mustang's Flame alchemy technique in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
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