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January 24, 2013
This is the eighteenth chapter of the series,.
The next morning, Sakari and Nilak explain the situation to their father over the breakfast Taki has made as Hokori sits in the corner eating, her long hair reaching the floor. "Get her out of here." Tahno says patiently as he eats, not looking up.
"But dad, she's got nowhere else to go." his daughter says.
"She's a sand-bender, they go in the desert, it's not that hard to figure out."
"She doesn't even remember who her family is or what tribe they belong to. Plus she's the Avatar, it's our responsibility to help her."
"You think she's the Avatar, but I haven't seen her so much as bend a spoon."
"Hokori." Nilak calls to her. "Do that thing you do." the girl bends sand in her left hand, fire in her right hand, and air with her left foot.
"Fine." Tahno says with an annoyed look on his face. "But you take her to Air Temple Island, they can deal with her. And as for you, your welcome is officially worn out." he says to Taki who is cleaning the table.
"Come on pop, if it wasn't for her I would have never been able to..." he stops as he father looks at him. "I'm still in trouble for that aren't I?"
"Yes you are." he then turns his attention back to the woman. "He says your okay, that's debatable, but since I assume you've got no place to stay you can have the spare room provided you don't cause anymore trouble. But if you're gonna stay you're gonna work, got it?" she gives him a nod and a lite smile. "Great, you can start by feeding Gigi." he point over to the cat gator in the corner as it growls at her.
Later at the Sato mansion, Asami sits in the large library as she is interrupted by her butler. "Ma'am, a Mr. Nilak to see you." she gets up and walks down stairs where Nilak is waiting for her nervously with his father standing behind him.
"Oh Tahno, I didn't know you'd be here. How are you?"
"Oh I'll be better, especially after you explain this." he tosses the Blue Spirit mask down at her feet.
She leans over and picks it up. "Let's talk in my office." the three make there way upstairs as Tahno pushes his son forward. The trio walk into the office as Asami sits behind the desk and Nilak sits in one of the two chairs in front. Tahno on the other hand, chooses to stand behind his son. "Why don't the two of us talk? Nilak can wait in the library."
Nilak makes an effort to stand up, only for his father to force him back down. "He's comfortable here, aren't you boy?" Tahno says as several drops of sweat run down his son's face. "Now for my first question. What were you thinking?"
"Well, you should know Nilak came to me with the idea to become the Blue Spirit." as she says this, Tahno grips Nilak's shoulder causing him discomfort.
"And you encouraged him?"
"No, I was against the whole idea. But he made it clear that he wanted someway to uphold Korra's legacy. I trained him and gave him the equipment and resources he needed so he wouldn't go out there half-baked and get himself killed."
"Hey I did pretty good." he says as the two look at him. "I uh, ha ha, I think I'll go wait in the library, if that's cool with you?" he get's up nervously and dashes out of the room. As he runs he bumps into Shin.
"What's the rush kid?"
Nilak takes in a deep breadth. "I lied to my dad and told him I was doing charity work, but then he found out I was the Blue Spirit and now him and aunt Asami are talking and I am so toast."
Shin stands there for a second, half confused. "Well good luck with that." he says walking away casually. Nilak falls on his back and stares at the ceiling.
"And you didn't think I would want to know about all this?" Tahno says as he and Mrs. Sato continue their conversation.
"You know why I didn't tell you? Because I didn't want to put anymore pain in your life. You haven't been the same since Korra passed. Nilak told me about all the nights he had to come into the city and drag you home out of whatever hole you dug for yourself. I thought you didn't need anymore than what you were already dealing with."
"He never got the chance to know his mother, but he read about all the things she did for the city, about that night. He wanted to do something to honor her memory. He wanted to be the city's new Avatar. I tried to reason with him, get him to see there were other ways, but he was determined to do it his way, so like I said before I did all I could to prepare him."
"Well unfortunately for him, there's a new Avatar."
"That little stunt he pulled last night. He freed some captives, and lo and behold, one's the Avatar, a sand-bender girl."
"That's great news. Where is she now?"
"Sakari's taking her to see Jinora. They're trying to keep it quiet, so don't go spreading this around." the two sit for another hour or so as they discuss old times; adventures the team went on, the tournaments, as well as happenings in the city. Nilak sits nervously in the library as the two walk in. "Congratulations, I'm not going to kill you."
"We talked it over and came to an agreement. But we think it best that the Blue Spirit disappear." Asami says.
"Thank you, thank you." Nilak says hugging the two. "So I guess we should head over to Air Temple Island?" as he walks passed them Tahno grabs him by the back of his shirt.
"Not so fast, we didn't say you weren't in trouble." Tahno says casually as Nilak bears a worried smile.
On Air Temple Island Sakari introduces the new Avatar to Jinora and the others. "So that's her?" Jinora asks as she watches Hokori, who is amazed at the air-bender children soaring through the air on their gliders.
"Yeah, she doesn't seem to know a lot about what makes her special. I thought you might be able to help her. She can already bend fire, earth, and air. Well two and a half, she can really only sand-bend. Solid rocks kind of difficult for her."
"And water?" Shaozu asks.
"Well, she is from the Si Wong Desert. I take it water is a foreign concept to them. I'll have to do some research to determine the best way to train her. There is so little information on the sand-benders, I wouldn't know where to start. The only book I have is on grandpa Aang's encounter with one particular group, and that's not much to go on. Has she told you anything that might help?"
"Not much, she had to be around six or seven when she was taken captive so she doesn't remember much before that. Apparently all the children that were taken were conditioned not to bend."
"They were punished anytime they used their bending to the point where they forced the notion of even trying out of their minds." Sakari explains to them.
"Man, and I thought Amon was terrible. That's just messed up." Shaozu says shaking his head.
"So she's the new Korra? Wow she looks way different than I thought she would." Ikki says, popping up behind the fire-bender who panics.
"Oh, how many times have I told you not to do that?"
Shaozu stops and tallies it up in his head. "Yeah that's about right. So how are you gonna handle this Jinora?"
"Well she should start her training, but I don't think it would be wise to rush into it."
"Why not have Yi train her in fire-bending?" Sakari suggests.
" Yi isn't exactly a master yet, but they do seem to have a good report and it probably wouldn't be the best idea to startle her with anymore unfamiliar faces. Alright then, I'll be teaching her air-bending. But we'll still need to find a water-bending master and an earth-bending teacher."
"I know just the people for the job." as Sakari says this a messenger hawk flies down and lands on a post nearby. Shaozu takes the note off the bird's ankle and looks at the name on the tassel tied around it. "It's for you." he hands it to the water-bender, who opens it and begins reading. "Oh man, it's an urgent message from Captain Hasook. He says there's an emergency and needs me back at HQ immediately."
"Ah, and we were just starting to have fun." Nilak says as he, his father, and Asami join the group.
"Hey guys." Mrs. Sato greets everyone, before walking over to Hokori. "You must be Hokori, my names Asami Sato. Nice to meet you. How are you doing?" she says extending her hand to the girl who responds the same. "Thank you. I don't understand much about the Avatar, but everyone has been very kind to me."
"Well we'll do everything to make you as comfortable as possible." as the two converse, Tahno, Nilak, and Sakari walk off to talk in private.
"So you're headed back out?" Tahno asks.
"Looks that way. I still have some stuff I'd like to check off my list, but I'll just have to save those for next leave." she says jokingly before she hugs her brother and father. "I'm gonna miss you guys."
"Well not as much as you might think. He'll be joining you soon." Tahno says gesturing to Nilak.
"What?" his son says confused.
"Your aunt and I talked and decided if you want to help solve problems so badly you should do it officially. So we made some calls and got you signed up for the United Republic Forces."
"You what!?" he yells as he starts crying. "I'll have to wear a uniform, I'll have to cancel all my dates. Oh no, I'll have to do actual work!"
"Oh stop crying you big baby." his sister says rolling her eyes.
"I don't even like boats!" he says running off. "My social life is dead!"
"He'll get over it. In the meantime, aunt Jinora says she's going to start Hokori's training soon. She's teaching her air-bending, Yi is teaching her Fire-bending, and she still needs a proper earth-bending teacher."
"I think you forgot one."
"Well, I was kind of hoping you could teach her."
"I don't know about that."
"Come on dad, you're a top notch water-bender. That's why you and uncle Shaozu and Ming won four tournaments in a row. And you taught me most of what I know."
"Yeah well, wait, we won eight championships."
"Don't sell yourself too much pop. Mom told me about the time she played your team."
"Oh yeah, that." he says nervously, pulling at his collar. She gives him large puppy eyes that finally force him to concede. "Fine I'll sleep on it, but no promises alright."
"Thank you daddy." she says hugging him just as Hokori and Yi walk over. "Good news, my dad says he'll teach you how to water-bend. Isn't that great?" Hokori just looks up at the man who is clearly no more pleased with the decision than she is.
"I said I'd sleep on it. Besides, she's got a long way to go before she's ready for anything other than watering the plants."
"I am strong, and if I am this Avatar I have the power to stop those that hurt me, to punish them."
"Slow down, that's not exactly how this works." Sakari attempts to explain.
"Why, what they did was wrong. They don't deserve any less. If I am the Avatar why can't I do what I want?" Hokori says angrily.
"Calm down kid. You're not gonna be a half decent Avatar until you stop acting like a whiny brat." Tahno says. The comment enrages Hokori, who unleashes a blast of fire at him. He dodges to the left, then uses the water in his satchel to shoot out a whip that knocks her off her feet. The others rush over to the commotion. Tahno pulls the water back into his bag and turns to Sakari. "You want me to teach that? I had an easier time potty training Nilak." he turns to walk away as the sand-bender jumps up and throws a flurry of sand bullets at him. He reacts by using the water in the pond to his side, sweeping it across to block the projectiles.
"That's enough!" Jinora shouts getting between the two. The girl ignores the warning and unleashes a whirlwind that engulfs her. The others run for cover as the winds pick up. Tahno on the other hand uses the water to form a barrier around him, protecting him from the winds. Jinora and Ikki bend the air around them as the younger performs a powerful blast that knocks the girl from the center of the cyclone. The water-bender lowers his shield as Sakari rushes over to him.
"Dad are you okay?"
"My joints are a little stiff but I'll live." as she helps him, Hokori is surrounded by Shaozu and several other White Lotus Sentries.
"Hokori, I need you to calm down alright?" Jinora says. The girl hears none of it, only focused on the water-bender who mocked her. She unleashes a wave of air around her that knocks the sentries away and charges toward her target, with a large fireball in her right hand. "Look out!" Sakari shouts as she pushes her father away, preparing to take on the girl. Before the attack can connect however, Yi jumps in, nullifying the flame, then pushes Hokori away, knocking her on her back. She jumps on top of her and pins her arms down as the girl struggles to get up. She then grabs the sand-benders arms and crosses them over Hokori's chest. This simple action causes the girl to come out of her rage and calms her. Yi then lifts off her and steps back.
Hokori stands up as the sentries move in slowly. She raises her hands in submission and allows them to escort her away as Jinora guides them. Shaozu walks over and places his arm around his eldest daughter's shoulder. "That was incredible. How'd you do that?" he asks as she signs to him. He is however very confused as he is unable to comprehend the meaning. As she sees the futility of trying to explain she gives a sigh of frustration than leaves, leaving her father dumbfounded as Ikki stands next to him with the other children.
That night Tahno and Nilak see Sakari off as she boards the vessel bound for the United Forces HQ, Naga by her side. "Take care dad." she says as she hugs them. "And I'll see you soon bro." she says to Nilak who sighs. "Yeah, yeah, I'll see you sis. And thank you so much for giving dad this marvelous idea." Nilak says sarcastically.
"See you honey." Tahno says happily. "Take care out there, sweety."
Sakari walks over to her dad and gives him a final hug. "I know things didn't go exactly as planned but I hope you'll still try what we talked about." she says before rushing off on the boat with Naga. The two watch as the ship slowly disappears over the horizon. The two then head for home.
That night on Air Temple Island Hokori walks the grounds of the island the sentries silently watching her every move as she hears a pleasant sound in the distance. She follows it to the source, Shaozu in his civilian clothes sitting on a rock overlooking the bay as he plays the tsungi horn. "Hello." she says softly as she walks over to him.
"Oh hey, I didn't wake you up did I?" he says as he stops playing turning his attention to her.
"N-no. Actually it's very relaxing." she says as she sits down next to him. "I'm sorry for what happened. I just get so angry when I think of what they did. And now I found out that I'm this Avatar and have so much power. I just want to use it to hurt them like they hurt all of us. But they say I need to wait, to train to do all of these things that don't make sense to me."
"You know I never liked playing this tsungi horn. My parents always pushed me to practice and play it all the time, I hated it, always doing something that to me seem useless. But then one day my wife and I were trying our hardest to get Nima, our youngest to sleep the night we got her home. But nothing we did worked. Finally I sat down and started playing this while I thought of something. Then, to everyone on the islands surprise and joy she falls asleep. So in the end all the practice and lessons paid off. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that even if something seems annoying or pointless it may very well come in handy one day."
"You are very wise."
"It comes with living on an island of monks." the two sit in silence for a moment before Shaozu decides to ask the question he's been dreading. "If you don't mind my asking, how did you and Yi meet?"
"We were both taken captive and put in the same group. I had been there for years, she was new. We were all taught one simple thing: never bend. But she wouldn't be broken. She encouraged all of us to do the same, to practice in secret until we could get out. But one day while we were being put in our cells I saw a guard beating one of the other children, and I threw a fire ball at him. He was turned so he didn't see me but he still parried it. Yi convinced the guard it was her and attacked him. They subdued her and...and sliced her throat. One of the girls used some water to heal her, but not having much experience in healing, we could only do so much. One day we had our chance to escape, but something went wrong. When we knew their was no chance to succeed I gave her an escape route. She was hesitant but I convinced her we'd be fine, and she promised to get us out one day. She kept her word."
"That's why she joined the Triad."
"She is a true friend. Your fortunate to have such a kind daughter."
"Thank you." he says bowing politely.
"Shaozu." Ikki calls.
"Well that's my cue. Meditate on what I said."
As he leaves Hokori sits on the ground, folding her legs as she begins to meditate. She closes her eyes, hearing the sound of the tsungi horn in the background. After a few moments the music stops as all the sounds around her are suddenly deafened. She opens her eyes and looks around, seeing no one, not even the sentries who once guarded her. She gets up and walks around the island, peering inside of areas where she was sure she saw others not long ago. "Hey there." she hears a voice from behind her. She turns to see a dark skinned woman wearing blue Water Tribe clothing with brown hair. Hokori gets down in her battle stance prepared to launch fire at her.
"Who are you? What did you do with everyone?"
"Wow, fiery personality, I like that." the woman says to her.
"Last chance. Who are you?"
"So you're my replacement huh?"
This statement alarms Hokori as she now knows the identity of the woman and falls to her knees, bowing low, putting her head to the ground. "Avatar Korra, please forgive me for my outburst. Don't take my bending away, I beg you."
Korra looks down at her slightly amused and confused. "What are you talking about?"
"Nilak told me if you did not approve of me being the new Avatar you would strip me of my bending and choose another."
"Oh right, Nilak. You know I always thought he'd grow out of the whole prank thing. But what are you going to do? Come on, I'm just here to talk." she says helping the girl up. "So what's your name?"
"Well Hokori, congratulations, you're the new Avatar. I came here to help guide you. To aid you with all the trials you might face. I know you want to go out and help bring balance to the world. It's what the Avatar does. But you need to take it slow. When I was protecting the city I had a problem with patience myself, and it got me in a lot of trouble. If you want to be the best Avatar possible, you have to be prepared to work hard to perfect not just the physical side but the spiritual side as well."
"Thanks for the advice. What can you tell me about this Tahno?"
"Outside of him being my husband and Sakari and Nilak's dad, quite a few things."
"He didn't seem all to happy with being my teacher."
"Well his life hasn't been all too easy. He used to be a very skilled water-bender, won a lot of tournaments. Then one day some mad man took it from him. He was in a low place back then. Fortunately for him and a lot of others I had the ability to restore bending. After that we married a few years later and had our kids."
"Then what happened?"
"One day I had to make a decision, to sacrifice myself to save thousands of others. He was there when it happened and feels responsible. He knows there was nothing he can do but it didn't get rid of the pain. He sent our kids away so they wouldn't have to see how messed up he was and, well he's never really been the same. So if he comes off as cold, uncaring, or unfeeling, it's just because life hasn't really given him a reason to feel otherwise."
"Thank you Korra."
"You're very welcome. If you ever need me or any Avatar, we'll be here to help." the two bow to each as Hokori comes out of her trance and heads back to her room, with her guards watching from the distance.
At the same time across town Tahno and Nilak enter the house and say their good nights to each other. Tahno heads up the stairs and stops half-way to look at the living room, taking note of how clean Taki has made it as well as the rest of the house. He opens the door to his room to find the woman strewn across the bed. She looks exhausted as her mouth is wide open, snoring. He attempts to wake her only for the woman to roll over and wrap herself in the blankets. "Well I guess you can sleep there tonight." he says as he grabs a blanket and lies down on the couch next to the bed. He closes his eyes and quickly falls asleep.
"Hey pretty boy." he opens his eyes to find himself lying next to Korra on a blanket at the beach. He almost jumps up seeing her next to him. "So, how've you been."
"Well I've had better days."
"So I've noticed." she sits up and looks at him. "So, how are the kids? It looks like Nilaks trying to follow in a certain someone's footsteps."
"He wants to be just like you."
"Who can blame him, I was pretty amazing."
"You still are." the two kiss.
"You know, Sakari is really big on you training the new Avatar and I would be too."
"It wouldn't be a good match."
"Maybe it would be if you gave it a chance. I know your afraid Tahno, you don't want to fail again. But don't be, nothing that night was your fault, it was my call and I made it. Be strong. You didn't give up when you lost your bending, and you certainly didn't give up on trying to ask me out, so there's no way your giving up now." He hesitates to answer, looking away from his former wife. "Alright, if that's the way you want it." she uses her earth-bending to raise the ground around them forming a circular ring that matches the tie-breaker ring. "Beat me and you can do whatever, but I win and you go ahead and train her, deal?"
Tahno stands up as the two begin to circle each other. Tahno opens by launching two water shots at her. She maneuvers around them launching one aimed at his chin. He jumps back and kicks a whip of water across. She jumps over and hurls a sphere of water at his head. He braces for the shot and counters, throwing a whip into the air, unbalancing her, causing the former Avatar to spin through the air and tumble out of the ring. "Looks like I win Uh-vatar." he says smugly.
Korra gets up and dusts herself off. "Yeah, but your still going to train her."
"Come on Tahno. I'm not real, I'm simply a part of your subconscious. You've already made up your mind about training her. You just had to win in your head because, lets face it, you've never won an argument against me and you've certainly never won in a tie-breaker. I just voice what you've already decided in your head." she slowly begins to disappear. "Take care of yourself pretty boy. And be nice to Taki, she really is trying. Also get a shave, you look like an untrimmed poodle-monkey."
Tahno slowly wakes up as the light from the window hits his eyes. "Oh man, I hate it when she knows I'm right." he says as he sits up. He notices that Taki is gone and the bed is finely made. She opens the door slowly with a tray of food. "Good morning." she says with a smile as she lays the tray on the night stand. "I thought you might be hungry."
He looks over at her and gives a light smile. "Thanks."
"Thank you for letting me stay here."
"No problem. Listen I think I owe you an apology for what I said."
"Hey, you had good reason to be hostile after what I did to you."
"Eh it's water under the bridge. Hey I've got to head over to Air Temple Island for a bit. I've got a list of things we need for the house if you don't mind grabbing them."
"No problem, Nilak and I can get them for you."
Later that morning, Tahno walks down the pathway with Jinora as the two converse. "I really think it would be good for the both of us." he finishes as they approach the meditation area where Hokori sits with Yi and the other air-benders. She jumps up immediately upon seeing Tahno and rushes over to him.
"I'd like you to train me." "I think I should train you." they say almost in unison.
"You first." Hokori says chuckling.
"I know we've got some things to work out on both ends, but it would be my great pleasure to train you young Avatar." he says, bowing.
"And I would be honored to have you as my instructor, Sifu Tahno." she bows likewise.
"Let's get to work then."
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