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February 8, 2013
This is the twenty-first chapter of the series,.
At a small base inside the Fire Nation, Hasook waits in his office as Sakari walks in and salutes him. "You wanted to see me sir?"
"At ease. I don't know how to tell you this but last night someone kidnapped Avatar Hokori." this news alarms her as she tries to contemplate how this could have happened. "At about 21:00 hours last night Air Temple Island was attacked by an unknown group. The only information we have is that it was a mixed group of water and earth-benders. They escaped in a stolen airship and ditched it into the ocean several hours later. The police lost sight of them along the way. They were last seen heading north around the cape toward the Western Air Temples."
"I'll do everything in my power to bring her home sir." Sakari says with fiery determination.
"Good, I expected nothing less from you. The board has given me special permission to assemble a strike team to find them and rescue the Avatar, and I'd like you to be a part of it."
"Just understand that this is a delicate operation. The Republic City Council has done all they can to keep this quiet. No one outside of our little group needs to know she's been kidnapped. No one outside the strike team knows this, and you're not to tell anyone else, understood?"
"Alright then, let's suit up. We have an Avatar to find."
Back on Air Temple Island, the others are still recovering from the nights ordeal. While Yi and Taki aid the Air Acolytes and White Lotus members in fixing some of the damage, Tahno is in Jinora's office discussing the events. "So what are you going to do about this?" he asks.
"I can't really do much else at this point. I've already alerted the United Forces and they are dispatching strike teams over every possible area they could be. I'm sorry Tahno, but right now we just need to be patient and hope for the best."
"Somehow that just doesn't fill me with confidence. I can't just sit here and do nothing, I have to get out there." he says frustratingly.
"Tahno, you did all you could to..."
"I can't fail again!" he bursts out. "I can't." he almost bursts into tears at the thought of failing to protect another Avatar. "I'm sorry, I should go, get some rest. This has just been a lot to take in." he says excusing himself. He walks outside and heads over to visit his wounded friend, Shaozu, who is sitting in the infirmary with Ikki and their children around him. "How you hanging in there buddy?" he asks as the two lock hands.
"Not bad. The sucker got in a lucky shot. Five years ago I would have..."
"Still been down for the count." Tahno jokes as the two laugh.
"Hey honey, you mind if me and Tahno talk alone for a bit?" Shaozu asks as Ikki and the children leave the two friends. "So what have you got planned?"
"I'm that transparent huh?"
"Like a glass jellyfish. I know you're not going to take this lying down."
"You've got that right. I'm going after them as soon as possible. All I need is a good team. I'm headed to the city to pick up Mako. If he knew she was in trouble he wouldn't hesitate to help. Ming might be up for it too."
"Yeah if Sasame will let him off his leash long enough." Shaozu jokes. "As for me, I'd like to tag along as well but as you can see I'm in no condition. Take Yi with you. You couldn't stop her from going anyway. Am I right?" he says as she appears from behind a set of drapes, having eavesdropped on the conversation.
"So you in?" Tahno asks as she gives an excited nod.
"Hey Yi." Shaozu calls to her as she looks over to him. (Light them up for me.) he surprises her by signing. She smiles and bows before quickly running off to prepare herself.
"By the way what's with the third eye thing?" the water-bender asks, noticing the strange mark on Yi's head.
"We come from a long line of fire-benders. One in every generation since my grand-father has a very unique fire-bending skill. It'll come in handy. Now about you're transportation...."
After leaving the island, Tahno and the others ride in a Satomobile borrowed from Asami to pick up Ming. The others wait in the car while Tahno and Ming talk inside. "You sure you can't come with us?"
"Sorry, wish I could but I've got to meet some clients. The Mrs. would kill me if I mess this up. But best of luck to you all the same old friend." the two shake hands just as Dogu appears.
"Dad, I could take your place."
"You're kidding right? You think you're mother's going to let you leave town without you finishing your practice shift at the gym? You know how much of a stickler she is about keeping up with your responsibilities."
"Mom doesn't even have to know. Just tell her I went. She never even stops by. There's no way she'll ever figure it out."
"Unless she hears your entire plan from the top of the stairs." Sasame says as she descends the stairs.
"I'll leave you three alone to talk." Tahno excuses himself, exiting the building.
"Uh mom, I can explain." he says as she walks over to him, staring him down.
"Don't forget to pack some extra food for the trip. And dress warm in case it gets cold." she says softly, surprising both her husband and son as she kisses him on the forehead. Dogu rushes to grab his things and, after retrieving everything, says his goodbyes before heading out.
"See, now why can't you show your softer side more often?" Ming says smiling at her.
"Because I still need to remind you two who runs things around here." she says, playfully poking her husband in the chest. She then leans in and kisses him.
"Tonight's not..." Ming says as she interrupts him, putting her finger over his lips.
"Oh shut up and take me." she says as the two embrace and begin kissing before falling on the floor.
Unknown to them, Dogu opens the door. "Hey you guys I forgot to grab my...." he is horrified by the sight and runs back outside, closing the door behind him. The two never even notice he was there. He jumps back into the car with a terrified expression on his face. "I don't need it, I don't need it. Just drive!" he shouts as the car speeds off.
Near the lower edge of the Western Air Temple Island chain, a trio of ships carrying Hokori and the large crew of her captors sail northward. The situation has calmed down a bit as she and her alleged brother, Sakyu walk the deck. "I don't understand brother. Why did you go through all of this just to get to me?"
"We sand-benders have a very...poor relationship with the rest of the world. Many see only the stereotypes of us as bandits ready to steal and scrounge through the scraps of others."
"I know what you mean." she says, remembering the hurtful words of the fire-bender in the city. As the two walk across the deck of the small iron ship, Hokori spots Yoroi wrestling with one of the guards over a bag of supplies. She whistles and the armadillo-wolf instantly stops and runs over to her, licking her face. "I missed you two boy." she then turns her attention back to Sakyu. "Brother, how did I get so far from home?"
Sakyu stops for a moment before answering. "Our grandfather had a reputation as the founder of our tribe in the closing days of the hundred years war. He drew many outcasts from other tribes and formed them into one of the five prominent clans in the Si Wong Desert. After his passing our father was made chieftain of our tribe. You were an unexpected second child, born when I was twelve. One night when you were three we were traveling through the desert. We decided to camp out one night, and as the fire was dying down you lit it with a fireball. Needless to say, we were very surprised to find out you were the Avatar."
"Dad had always planned to end the constant fighting of the different tribes and bring about peace. He saw you as a way for the tribes to unite and end the constant war for resources."
"Our uncle had other plans. He was always jealous that our grand-father chose our father over him. So he devised a plan to gain control. He murdered dad in his sleep than took you."
"He planned to take you and start a new tribe elsewhere. With the Avatar on his side he could consolidate power to rule over every tribe in the desert. We pursued him to the edge of the desert and captured him, but by the time we reached him you were already gone. We searched for weeks but we never found any trace of you. We returned home after. With you gone any chance we had of bringing about peace disappeared. But it seems now we have another chance. Will you help to make our father's dream a reality?"
"I've been wondering from the start what I was meant to do as the Avatar. Maybe this is what I am for. But what happened to our uncle?"
"Oh he's on board the ship. I wanted him to be here to see his plan fail." as he says this about fifteen water-benders, wearing all black emerge from around the ship using seaweed as cover as they quickly attempt to neutralize the crew. "Crew to the defense!" Sakyu shouts as the crew move to repel the borders. A flurry of water and earth fly through the air as Hokori attempts to join the fight. She is held back by her brother who guides her to a cabin with two sand-bender guards. Two of the invading water-benders rush forward, freezing several of the crew members in ice. Sakyu launches a sand blast from one of the barrels on the deck that knocks one of them away as they charge toward him. The second leaps over his head using a water whip to knock the two guards away from Hokori.
"Hokori, are you alright?" the masked figure asks only to be swatted away by the girls older brother. The crews on the other two ships attempt to come to there aid only to find their rudders clogged with seaweed. Hasook and his team push the line as they get closer to the goal. As they get close to the defending Sakyu however, they are surprised by about four times their number ambush them from the sides. They are lead by a figure cloaked in a black robe, his face concealed by a hood.
"Back to back!" Hasook shouts as the team is quickly surrounded. They battle on bravely but find it increasingly hard to defend without cover as the crews from the other two ships begin to make their way over with small rafts. Hasook takes a direct hit from an ice shard that lodges into his side, though he quickly manages to dissolve it.
"Give me some room." Sakari shouts as the team gives her enough room to make it over to the edge of the ship. "I'll give them a test of Foggy Swamp style." she says as she pulls the seaweed from the water, encasing herself in the large mass, creating what looks like a large plant creature. "Thanks uncle Tao." She uses this new technique to carve a path for her team to beat a hasty retreat.
"Go, go!" the team leader orders as Sakari keeps the attackers at bay, knocking many of them into the water or across the deck. The water-bender commandos leap over the edge, jetting away over the water. Hasook turns back to Sakari as she sticks her face trough the plant armor. "Come on!"
"I'll hold them off. You get back and come up with a new plan."
"Let's go! That's an order soldier!" he shouts to her.
"All due respect sir, shove off." she uses her plant arms to grab him. She then slips a wrapped scroll tied with her mother's necklace and places it in his hand. "I'll be alright. Make sure my dad gets this." she says gently before tossing him away. She then turns her attention back to the enemies surrounding her, grabbing any that attempt to pursue her team. Sakyu moves in with three others to stop her only for the woman to knock them away. She motions to smash him only for Hokori to rush out at the last moment, knocking her out of the armor with a powerful air blast that knocks her across the deck, causing her mask to fall off.
"Sakari?" the Avatar says in stunned surprise.
Before Sakari can respond, a familiar face walks over and leans down. "Chow?" she says as she sees the former Triple Threat member in front of her, smiling with the huge gap in his mouth where his teeth were.
"It ain't Fire Lord Ozai." he says as he forms an ice fist around his left hand and punches her in the face, knocking her unconscious.
"She's a friend." Hokori says to her brother as two of the men drag the water-bender away.
"Of course she is." Sakyu says under his breath. "See to it that our guest is 'taken care of' won't you?" he says to the man in black as the two others follow him with the girl. He then turns his attention back to his sister. "Don't worry, when she comes to we will explain everything to her. I'm sure she'll see things from our point of view. Quan can be very persuasive. Now about our uncle."
In the lower deck the three take Sakari to an isolated, circular room with a single chair in the center and a round track with a lantern around it as well. They place her in the chair and strap her arms and legs down just as she regains consciousness. "This won't hold me for long!" she says straining to break free.
"Funny, your mother, Korra said something very similar the last time we met." the man in black says.
"How do you know who I am? Who are you?" she demands to know.
"Someone whose been around the most important days of your life. The day you were born I lost my face, the day your dear mother died I lost my arm." he removes the cloak revealing he only possesses his right arm. "But the day your father dies, I gain something. I gain the satisfaction of knowing he perished by my hands through you."
"In your dreams." she says, spitting in his face.
"Oh, I assure you in time you'll see things my way." he says as he lights the lantern and hits a switch as it rotates around the track, slowly, mesmerizing in the dim light of the room.
Sakari finds it hard not to focus on the object. She begins to fight attempting to move her head, only for one of the two guards standing behind her to hold her head in place, forcing her eyes open. "No!" she shouts as she slowly succumbs to the conditioning.
"Now repeat after me..." Quan says as the woman quickly losses touch with her surroundings.
On the other end of the ship, Hokori along with two guards makes her way to a locked door. In her hand is a knife given to her by her brother. The two men slowly open the door as all three step inside. As they hit the light switch in the room she is greeted by an elderly, severely thin man with long gray hair, who weakly looks up at her. "Hokori." he acknowledges.
"Uncle." she responds with hate in her voice.
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