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February 16, 2013
This is the twenty-sixth chapter of the series,.
One week later
Tahno and the others finally arrive home in Republic City after enjoying the last week in the North Pole. The ship finally reaches the dock as Meelo, carrying the others arrives as well. As everyone leaves the ship, Sakari is talking with Hasook. "I mean yeah, the military is a big part of your life but it doesn't have to be the only thing you do. Why not take some time off, see the world when it doesn't involve a mission."
"Maybe." he says looking around.
"Oh come on. I worry about you. You're like my second dad. You've watched over me since I was little and made me the bender I am today."
"Eh, I just contributed, you had the talents all along." he says patting her on the back. "Go ahead, be with your family."
Adi and some of the other crew members transfer the pirates to a waiting Republic navy vessel. As they watch, Taki, Hokori, and Tahno stand off in the distance, unloading their equipment as well as some souvenirs from the north. Nilak stands by the ship watching as Quan passes, his arm in a sling. The two stare each other down as Quan is loaded on the ship with the others. Nilak holds out his Blue Spirit mask and takes one last look before tossing it into the bay. He rejoins his father and friends to help with the remaining items. Sakari makes her way over to speak with her family as Hasook looks on.
"So you're headed back out again?" Tahno asks.
"Looks like it. Still more work to do now that this is all over. I had fun though dad." she says hugging him. She then looks over at her new sister. "It feels kind of weird, it's like having my mom for a sister. Can you still ground me?" she jokes causing Hokori to chuckle. "Take care."
"I'd be coming with you but apparently I've been honorably discharged." Nilak says as the others look over at him as he holds up a piece of paper. "Captain Adi says I have trouble taking orders and she thinks my skills would be better used elsewhere. I did get this cool medal though." he says smiling.
"Don't think you're gonna be laying around the house again. The minute we get settled in, you're going right back to work for your aunt." Tahno says to him.
"I guess I can try."
"I'm still gonna miss you guys though." the four share a group hug as Hasook walks over. "Ready to head out sir." she salutes.
"Actually that won't be necessary. Due to your recent traumatic event, I've decided it would be best for you to take an extended leave until such a time as we can determine you're fit for duty. Until then you are officially off duty." he says with a smile.
"Yes sir. Thank you sir." Sakari says as Hasook leaves the group. She rushes over to him and gives him a surprise hug from behind. "Thanks pops." she says quietly before running back to the others. "You guys ready to go?" she whistles as Naga runs over to her.
"Sure am, plus check out this cool thing grandpa Tonraq gave me." Nilak says as he pulls out a boomerang and throws it. As it flies off in the distance he hears a loud yell.
"Aw, my face!"
"Oops, sorry Dogu." the boomerang flies back around as he grabs it and puts it away. "I'd better get some more practice with this thing."
"Dogu, tell your old man I'd be interested in that job." he says to the earth-bender who is nursing his wound, Yi standing next to him. "Come on gang, let's go home." Tahno says as they head out.
Later that day Tahno and the others arrive on Air Temple Island to meet with Jinora and the others to celebrate. As they head up the walkway they meet up with Ming, Sasame and Dogu. The group hear a scream in the distance and instantly rush toward the noise. They rush into the dining hall to see Ikki and the kids jumping excitedly around Yi with Shaozu passed out on the floor as the families attention then turns to the new arrivals.
"She said something and he passed out." Ming states.
"Yeah, that sounds about right." Tahno says as they help their friend up and everyone sits down for dinner.
"So, Dogu tells me you want that instructor's position at the dojo."
"Yeah, think it's time for me to move on to greener pastures."
"Not to mention the advertisement opportunities. The man who trained an Avatar." Hokori says as Sasame explains the further benefits to him as well.
"We're having a charity tournament in a few weeks. Anyone can participate and I was thinking we could get the eight time champs in the show." she explains in a very sly fashion. "Just imagine the ticket sales when people hear the news."
"That'd be great. The old team back together again." Shaozu exclaims.
"That would be so great. We could all go together and the kids can see their dad in action. Do you think we could get box seats, right off the side of the arena, close to the action?" Ikki says excitedly as the kids cheer in excitement while Jinora and Yi palm there faces in embarrassment.
"Hm, I'm in." Tahno says convinced.
"So cool, you'll love pro-bending. It's the coolest thing in the world." Sakari says excitedly to Hokori.
"Now hold on." Jinora interrupts. "Hokori still needs to finish her training before she does anything else."
"Aw come on Jinora, we just got back." Meelo says sighing.
"All the more reason for us to get back to work." she says as her niece, Naru looks up at her aunt, her eyes big and bright. "What?"
"Please auntie Jinora." she says softly, getting no response. "Please. Pleeeeeeeeease." she continues as her siblings join in, their aunt finally conceding.
"Fine, alright, she can go to the tournament! You're all driving me crazy!" she says, storming off.
"Like father, like daughter." Shaozu says casually as he digs into his meal, the others joining in shortly. "Kids, for making your aunt crazy you're all grounded." he says as they all moan. "After the tournament." he says as they all begin to laugh.
The next few weeks are hard training for Tahno and the old Wolf-bats as they push themselves to the limit to regain their former fighting prowess. After countless nights of hard work the night of the tournament comes and the team push easily through the preliminaries.
"This is awesome huh Hokori?" Nilak says sitting in the crowd among all the family and friends. Even Tahno's family and friends have come from the swamp to see him play in the tournament.
"Yeah, I've never seen so many people this excited about something." she says as one of the swampbenders shouts in her ear as he cheers. "Although I could do without the color commentators." she says as she cleans her ear.
"Hey they're family. And pops wants to move us down there eventually, so we better get used to them."
"Where do they live again."
"A swamp. You know marshes, bogs, catgators and such." he says as she frowns. "Yeah I never saw the appeal either." he looks over as he sees a rather muscular swampbender girl sitting next to him that wasn't there before. She smiles at him as he notes she is missing a tooth on her left side. She quickly grabs him by the collar, kisses him, and runs off. He almost falls over as he watches her leave, then turns back to Hokori. "Then again, there are some perks." he jumps up and chases after her.
Back in the changing room the victorious team enters. " Ohyeah, who still got it? We do!" Ming says triumphantly as they come in from their semi-final match.
"No doubt about that. These kids don't know what real pro-bending is." Tahno says confidently.
"Speak for yourselves. I'm getting too old for this." Shaozu says working his arm. "Whose our opponent in the finals anyway?"
"Would it matter? After what we've been through over the years, we can take any bender in this city." Tahno says. Sasame then walks into the room, rushing over to kiss Ming.
"Excellent match, the crowd is eating you up. Keep up the good work and we'll be racking it in in no time." Not long after the finals begin as the announcer introduces the teams.
"Introducing the Viperbats." he says introducing Tahno's team. The group had picked a different although similar name since their original was already taken. The three take the field and show off for the crowd. "And their opponents, the Tiger seals." the other team take the field with dark tinted visors. The team leader, a water-bender snaps her finger and the team earth-bender quickly bends three discs from the floor and shoots them forward. Not two seconds in the air the water-bender blasts all three to pieces with three quick water shots as the crowd roars in amazement.
"Hm, showoffs." Tahno scoffs as the two teams take positions. The match explodes from the start as Tahno singles out the teams fire-bender who weaves around his water attacks only to be backed against the ropes. She retaliates with fire blasts that beat back his water as she fights out of the corner. Meanwhile Shaozu and the earth-bender are locked similarly as his target brings up three discs and shoots them toward him. Shaozu shoots two out of the air as Ming comes in and deflects the third. He counters by shooting a disc at the enemy earth-bender only for the teams water-bender to come to his aid and hurls a powerful water blast that knocks Ming and Shaozu back to zone two. Tahno is left defending zone one and retaliates with a water shot that hits the earth-bender in the face, knocking him back to zone two. Shaozu provides cover fire for their team captain as Ming begins ricocheting discs of the ropes, making them more unpredictable as the Tiger Seals have to watch their sides and front at the same time. The tactic works as the fire-bender is eventually tripped up and Tahno knocks her back two zones with a powerful water ball. The round bell rings. "Round one goes to the Viperbats."
"Oh yeah, that'll teach those punks." Ming says cheering.
"I don't know. There's something familiar about those guys." Shaozu states.
"Whoever they are they're no slouches in the ring. We better bring out our "A" game. We're not dealing with some amateurs." Tahno says as the second round begins.
"Round two!" the announcer says as the second round commences. The water-bender goes straight for Ming as Tahno comes to his defense. The two water-benders go toe-to-toe as they hurl shot after shot at one another. Shaozu is targeted by the team's earth-bender. He rushes back and leaps off the side post, launching three fire balls at the earth-bender and fire-bender with three quick kicks. The fire-bender evades all three shots with nimble grace rather than parry or jump to the side as the earth-bender is knocked back to zone two. As the water duel continues, Tahno is finally overwhelmed by his opponent as the water-bender unleashes a flurry of shots before hitting him with a solid shot to the gut that knocks him into zone two. Ming swiftly joins him as the Tiger Seals triple team him. The earth-bender launches four discs in rapid succession Tahno jumps off the side ropes to avoid, launching a water whip that knocks the team fire-bender back.
"Yeah, go dad!" Hokori shouts as Nilak returns with a towel, wiping his face. She looks over at him with annoyance.
"What? I was just getting in touch with my ancestral roots."
"You'd better make sure that's the only thing you're getting in touch with." she says as they turn their attention back to the match.
"Round two goes to the Tiger Seals!" the announcer shouts out.
"Okay, so they're tougher than we thought." Tahno says as the team regain their composure. "We've still got one more round."
"I say we go for a knock out. Let's target that water-bender. She's the most dangerous one out there." Ming says.
"Why do they remind me of someone?" Shaozu continues to ponder.
"Come on Shaozu get your head in the game, we need to clench this." Ming reminds him.
"Round three!" the final round is furious back and forth as the two highly skilled teams launch attack after attack, blow after blow, counter after counter. Ming evades the water-bender as the Viper-bats stick with the plan, targeting her as they push her to zone two. They then team on the earth-bender pushing him to join her. Her fire-bending teammate comes to their aid, launching three fire balls at the Viper-bats. Tahno and his team launch a barrage of attacks at the fire-bender. The target begins to move in spirals around zone one as the attacks pass around, missing their mark. As they begin to tire, Shaozu finally puts two and two together. The fire-bender finally retaliates launching a barrage of fire blasts as the other two attack as well, knocking both Ming and Shaozu into zone two as Tahno hurls a water shot at the fire-bender that collides with her fire ball, creating a cloud of smoke. The bell suddenly rings as the cloud clears, revealing Tahno's water covered fist inches from the fire-bender's face. "Round three is a tie. We go to a tie breaker round to decide the match."
"Well let's finish this." Tahno says.
"Not bad Yi." Shaozu says as the Tiger Seal fire-bender removes her helmet, revealing his daughter as the other two do the same, Dogu and Sakari looking over at there respective parents.
"Wow, now this is what I call entertainment." Hokori says as Nilak's jaw almost falls to the floor.
"Hey pop." Dogu says.
"Well I'll be." Ming says smiling as Tahno looks over at his daughter in surprise.
"You've still got the moves old man." Sakari says impressed by her father's performance as the referee walks between the two teams and flips the coin.
"The Tiger Seals win the coin toss. Which element do you choose?" the ref asks.
"Ready to go old man?" Sakari asks as he nods. "We choose water." she says as the two enter the center stage and it elevates. The two begin to circle one another as she smiles. "This must bring back some old memories huh?"
"Yeah, good ones." he says smiling as they continue to move around each other.
"Fifty Yuan says it happens again." Shaozu says standing on the side.
"You're on." Ming replies.
"Now come on little girl, give me your best shot." he almost laughs at himself as she launches a shot straight at his head as he moves to the right and prepares to strike, only to get hit in the chin by another shot from below that knocks off his helmet and knocks him out of the ring. "Ah, all the familiar places." he says to himself as he falls to the ground, grateful for the life he has had and for what still lies ahead.
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