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The final chapter of Book Two of
|Twin Towers, Part 3: The Burden of Atlas|
July 2, 2011
After the impact to the South Tower, the team prepares to confront the Elite. In the midst of their fight, an unexpected visitor arrives.
A thousand different things at once. The moment of impact. The explosion. The feeling of hundreds of people passing on. The disintegration of the plane as it collided through the building. The firestorm, trying with all its hellish might to push through Kumara's fire shield. Later she would come to describe it as chaos. Complete and utter chaos. In reality it was a split second, but to the Elite it was eternity.
When it was finally over, Kumara picked herself up from the rubble pile she had landed in. Her hands were still outstretched from holding the fire shield, weakly surrounding them. She stared in awe at ruins around her. Broken glass here. The remains of a plane seat there. And fire and rubble everywhere. Kumara looked around for the other members of the Elite, but found none.
A movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention. Behind a section of collapsed ceiling came a disheveled man in a suit. He was covered in dust and bleeding from a large cut on his forehead. He caught sight of Kumara and limped over to her.
"Are you alright?" the man asked in a loud voice.
Kumara only stood in silence, staring at the man.
"Ma'am, are you alright?" he tried again.
Kumara felt something trickling down her cheek. She raised her hand and touched it, revealing blood.
"Ma'am, you're bleeding. We need to get you out of here."
Kumara slowly extended her hand to the man. The man reached out to grab it. Kumara felt a draft pass her and stop at the man. The man stopped his hand in mid-air, instead reaching for his stomach. Kumara and the man looked down. Blood was pouring openly from a large laceration in his stomach. A second later a gust pushed the man through a window and into the open air.
Kumara stared in shock at the broken window where the man had fallen through. She heard footsteps come up behind her, along with a hand on her shoulder.
"Are you okay?" she heard Vayu's voice ask.
Kumara only nodded.
"Have you seen Morgan and Adam?"
Kumara barely shook her head. A sound came from the broken window. They turned their heads to it and found two men with large gliders coming inside. Vayu smiled wickedly at Kumara and launched an air swipe at the men.
"I'm not gonna lose you again Dad!"
"Sierra, I promise I'll be fine. But you're not coming with!"
"Why does Leah get to come!" Sierra complained.
Neil turned to Leah, standing near the base of the South Tower.
"She doesn't." Neil winked at Leah slyly. "She's going to take you back to the Marriott and wait for Don Ruben."
"But Dad..." Sierra tried.
"Sierra, no. Not this time. You already got away when you tagged along with Ruben. But not this time, Sierra. I'm not going to risk your safety."
Sierra looked close to tears. "But what about yours?"
Neil took Sierra in his arms for a short hug, then stood her up and grabbed her shoulders. "Sierra, I promise I'll come back. I just need you to wait here. Can you do that for me?"
Sierra sniffled and looked her dad in the eyes.
Neil patted Sierra on the back. "Good. Now go wait by the plaza, I need to talk to Leah for a moment and figure out how bad it is up there."
"Okay." Sierra walked away towards the ruined plaza. When she was out of earshot, Neil turned to Leah.
"Is your glider in your room?" he whispered.
"I shouldn't be letting you come either, but I might need your help. Can you sneak away?"
"Probably. Are you sure you don't want me to wait with Sierra?"
Neil sighed and looked up at the now two burning towers above them.
"It's your choice. Have you seen Keanu?"
"Not at all today."
"Alright. I'll go up and check the North Tower. If you want to come, I'll be on the 72nd floor in ten minutes."
Nearby, a young man appeared from the Tower, carrying a large glider with green wings.
"Jon." Neil acknowledged. "Are you okay?"
"Sir, two of the Elite are here."
"What?" Neil asked in shock.
"In the South Tower. We think they came in with the plane. When it crashed, a few minutes later they were there."
"Are you sure it's them?"
"We're sure. It's the woman and the old man."
Leah's face darkened with the images of Vayu and Kumara in her mind.
"What about the other three?" Leah asked Jon.
"We haven't seen them."
"Alright." Neil said quietly. "Is everyone out of the North Tower?"
"Not yet sir."
"Have you seen Keanu?"
"I saw him a few minutes ago. He was looking for you." Jon said, pointing at Leah.
"What floor did you last see him?" Neil asked.
"Around the 101st. He was going down."
"Thanks. I'll be up in a minute." Neil responded.
"But sir, what about the Elite?"
"Just try to keep them contained in the South Tower for now. "
"Yes sir." And with that, Jon leapt into the air and caught the wind in his glider. He soared up the face of the North Tower and into the plume of smoke. Neil looked at Leah with what could only be described as desperation.
"Leah, can you..."
"No need to ask Mr. Levin. I'll be there in fifteen minutes, okay?"
"I don't want to needlessly risk your life, but..."
"But it's the Elite." Leah finished.
Neil sighed. "Yes."
Beyond his wrinkled, outstretched hand a young man writhed in midair. Forward Vayu and the man went, progressing steadily to a broken window. The man, a large cut across his chest and neck, dripped blood as they went. When they reached the window, the man struggled harder, tears running down his grime covered, burnt face.
"Please..." the man begged.
Vayu smiled wider. "What? You want me to save you? You want to live?"
The man nodded feverishly.
"That's what I wanted too. I thought I was safe here. I thought I would live forever here. But that was taken away from me. And you know what your people did?"
"Please, I don't know what you're talking about!"
"NOTHING!" Vayu screamed. With a thrust of his hand, the man flew through the window screaming. Vayu stared out the window for a moment and turned around, coming to face with Kumara. Kumara stared with Vayu with an icy glare, her amber eyes burning through his eyes of faded blue.
"What?" Vayu asked.
"Morgan said only to go after the airbenders." Kumara said through gritted teeth.
"I'm just having a little fun. What's wrong with that?"
"Morgan's not here yet, is he? For all we know, he might not be coming at all."
As if on cue, the ceiling behind Kumara caved in. Through the hole came Adam and Morgan.
"Are you two alright?" Morgan asked, looking around the ruined floor.
"Fine." Vayu answered.
"Any resistance so far?" Adam asked.
"None." Vayu said, sparing a glance at Kumara that told her to keep quiet.
Leah and Sierra pushed through the revolving door and into the crowded lobby of the Marriott. Firefighters and a few stray hotel guests stood around the lobby, but none noticed the two young girls. Leah and Sierra wove their way through the people and to an elevator. Once it had come and they had arrived at their floor, Sierra stopped.
"You're going to leave me, aren't you?" Sierra asked quietly. Her voice was the only sound in the eerily quiet hallway.
"Why would you ask that?"
"I saw the look on my dad's face when the other person came and talked to you. Are you going to tell me what it was, or are you going to leave me with nothing?
Leah sighed, looking down at the floor.
"Two of the Elite showed up in the South Tower. We're going to regroup the airbenders and confront them."
The two girls stood in silence in the hallway. Neither of them spared a glance to the other.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Sierra said quietly.
"What?" asked a confused Leah.
"Go get your glider and just leave me already!" Sierra yelled.
Leah closed her eyes and tried to hug Sierra, but was pushed away.
"No, just go! Abandon me! Just like dad!"
"I thought he was for real this time. That he actually cared about me. But he's the same as he was before. Leaving his only daughter to risk his life protecting freaks!" Sierra ran to a wall and kicked it with all her might. An audible crack sounded from Sierra's foot. Sierra swore loudly and hopped around the hallway, clutching her broken toe.
Leah walked over to Sierra and grabbed her shoulder, making her sit down. Leah sat down beside her.
"Do you think I'm a freak?"
Sierra was silent.
"Or Ruben? Or Keanu, Hubert? Your dad? Your mom? Do you think they're freaks?"
Sierra glared at the floor. She shook her head so little that Leah barely noticed.
"Sierra, there are other people in those towers. Ruben is trying to save them. Your dad is trying to save them. He's not abandoning you. He made sure that I got you to safety before I could come and help fight the Elite. He does care about you Sierra. He just doesn't want to get hurt."
"But what if he doesn't come back?" Sierra whispered.
Leah sat in silence beside Sierra. Sierra looked at Leah expectantly for an answer.
"He'll be okay. I promise." Leah tried, having no other better answer in mind.
"Will you protect him?"
"Yes." Leah said without thinking.
Without warning Sierra leaned over and hugged Leah around her neck.
"Sierra?" Leah choked.
"Oh. Sorry." Sierra let go of Leah.
Leah helped Sierra stand up. Putting an arm around Sierra, Leah helped her hobble to the door of their room.
"Do you have a key?" Leah asked. "I lost mine when the plane hit."
Sierra searched her pockets. Nothing. "Nope." she responded. Leah leaned Sierra against a wall and placed her hand on the lock. With a few clicks, the door swung open. Leah walked over to Sierra and helped her onto a bed. Leah walked into the bathroom and returned with water floating over her hand. Sierra carefully took off her shoe and sock. Leah bent the water over Sierra's broken toe. The water glowed for a moment. When the process was over, Sierra looked at the toe with satisfaction.
"When'd you learn to do that?"
"Prison." Leah said distractedly, looking around the room. "Have you seen my glider?"
"Under your bed."
Leah leaned down and reached under her bed, returning with a long, thin bag.
"Are you going to be alright?" Leah asked, taking her glider out of the bag.
"Yeah. Just promise me you'll be."
"I will. Don't worry. We'll meet back at Don Ruben's shop when this is over. How's that toe? Can you get back to the lobby?" Leah said whilst walking over to the window.
"Yeah, I'll be fine."
Leah placed her palm on the window and shattered it, sending glass cascading to the sidewalk below. She stepped out of the window and onto the ledge. With a jump and a rush of air, the wings of her glider unfolded and she ascended into the sky.
Adam kicked down the door leading to the tourist sky deck. He walked up the stairs, Morgan following close behind. They emerged on the sky deck, obscured completely by smoke. Morgan walked over to the railing and looked down at the crowd of firefighters and observers below.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Morgan remarked.
"What?" Adam asked blankly.
"Just how much we've done in only an hour." Morgan sighed.
Morgan's attention was diverted to a glider with green wings ascending up the south face of the Tower, heading for the impact zone.
"Hey Adam, come look at this." Adam walked over to Morgan and peered over the railing at the glider.
"One of the colonists?" Adam asked.
"Should we go?"
"I'm sure Kumara and Vayu can handle one airbender. But we should go anyway to make sure."
Without a moment's hesitation, Morgan leaped off the side of the Tower, keeping close to the face. Twenty feet down, Morgan turned in midair and grabbed the face of the building. He slid down the building and stopped near the impact zone. A second later, Adam did the same, following after Morgan.
Morgan slid down another foot and dangled his feet in the hole. He rocked back and forth a few times, then jumped into the impact zone.
Ruben's breath came in short, painstaking bursts as his company climbed. 45, 46, 47. Floor after floor they climbed, passing what seemed like an infinite number of workers evacuating through the stairwell. The Ladder company reached the fiftieth floor, and their captain called for a breather. Ruben bowed his head, closing his eyes.
Hubert landed in an open set of elevator doors. He looked at a sign near the elevators. 92nd floor. The floor was an absolute bomb site. The ceiling had collapsed in several places, the electricity was out, papers and office supplies covered the floor. And the heat. Even for a native firebender, it was almost unbearable. Hubert wiped his brow and walked over to the window, noting the close proximity of the plume of smoke.
Looking out the window, he saw a disturbing sight. The other Tower. Draped in smoke and fire visible in several windows. Hubert gasped at the sight.
Lord in Heaven, what's going on? Hubert thought. Out of the corner of his eye, Hubert saw what looked like Leah's glider enter the impact zone of the other Tower. Without a moment's hesitation, he sent a compressed ball of fire at the window and shattered it. He leaped out and jet across to the other Tower, hiding within the smoke.
Keanu lifted his folded glider above his head and split a fire blast coming towards him. He retaliated with an air swipe that Kumara jumping over, flying towards Keanu on a jet of fire. Midair, she swung her hands in the air and generated sparks around them. She neared Keanu and swung at him. He ducked and bent an air blast at Kumara, sending her off balance. She spun through the air and crash landed through a sheetrock wall.
Nearby, Jon and Neil dueled Vayu. Blast after blast, blow after blow, but neither of the two young men could gain a vantage on the old master. The very currents generated from their fight were greater than any than had beset the Tower before. Vayu sent an air blade towards the two. Jon held out his glider to block it, but the blade went straight through it, sending fabric and splinters of wood everywhere.
Vayu quickly sent a compressed air ball at Jon's feet. Jon tripped on it and landed on his face. As he stood up, he had no time to retaliate at the air blade coming. Neil closed his eyes at the sound of Jon's head thudding and rolling away from the body. Vayu tripped Neil with a ball as well. As he sent another fatal blade, Neil inhaled and blew at Vayu's feet, knocking him down.
Neil stood up quickly and lifted his arms above him. As Vayu stood up, Neil brought his arms down, sending an air gust at Vayu and pinning him to the floor. Neil used one arm and performed a propeller motion, keeping Vayu down. Neil walked over slowly, using his free arm to prepare an air blade. He felt a surge of heat at his back and he ducked, the fire singing his long hair.
Neil looked back at Kumara, hands smoking from the attack. Keanu lay unconscious, smoke rising from his burnt hair. Vayu, free of Neil's current, stood up and prepared to fight. From the gaping hole where the plane had crashed came Morgan and Adam. They ran over to Neil and surrounded him. Neil looked around at his four opponents, sweat pouring down his forehead. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
Another fire blast came at Morgan and Adam. Neil, Vayu, and Kumara looked at the impact hole and, to their shock, saw a firebender. Neil recognized him as Hubert, the Marriott concierge. Neil nodded to Hubert, wordlessly thanking him. Hubert ran over to Neil and stood back to back with him, each of them facing two of the Elite.
Leah folded the wings of her glider and fell through the impact zone. She gasped at the lethal heat, ten times worse than Don Ruben's shop. After catching her breath, she looked around at the scene. Hubert and Neil stood back to back facing four of the Elite. Close to Vayu were heaps of dead airbenders, including a disembodied head belonging to Jon.
Vayu and Kumara noticed Leah, visible shock on their grimy faces. Leah quickly reached out her hand towards a pile of crushed sheetrock and sent it at Morgan and Adam's feet. They collapsed to the ground and Neil quickly pinned them with air pressure. Hubert turned to Vayu and Kumara and attacked with a fire whip. Vayu and Kumara retreated, Kumara retaliating with a whip of her own. Hubert's eyes widened with shock at his opponent.
Leah ran over to Neil and helped to keep Morgan and Adam down.
"Do we have anything to keep them contained?" Leah asked.
"Not anything they can't get out of." Neil grunted. Neil's eyes wavered to the shattered pieces of Jon's glider. "Go get the fabric from the glider."
"Adam could just break out of it." Leah pointed out.
"If that fabric can hold us hundreds of feet in the air, it can hold them for a few minutes. Now go!"
Leah ran over, trying to avoid stepping in the puddle of blood from Jon's neck, and grabbed several strips of fabric. She ran back to Neil.
"Can you flip them over?" Neil said.
Leah kneeled down and grabbed Adam's bulky arms. She pulled up and against Neil's gust, eventually succeeding in flipping him. She grabbed Adam's hands and pulled them behind his back. Leah tied a strip of fabric over Adam's wrists as tight as she could. She repeated it with Morgan, and Neil stopped the air pressure. Adam and Morgan strained with all their might, but the fabric seemed to hold.
Neil and Leah ran to Hubert, still engaged with his renegade daughter. Vayu moved out of the shadows and picked up a large piece of rubble in an air current. He spun in a circle and pitched it at them. Leah ran forward and punched it, crushing it into dust. Neil jumped with an air gust over Leah and slammed his foot on the floor, sending an air blast.
Vayu split it with a blade and sent three more in quick succession. Leah reached her hand towards a wall and pulled out a large piece of sheetrock, placing it in front of them. The blades pulverized the wall, dust impairing their view of Vayu. When it had cleared, Vayu was nowhere to be seen. Leah opened her mouth and asked, "Where is he?" but heard nothing.
Leah gasped, but also heard nothing. She screamed at Neil but he took no heed, seemingly trying his own broken voice as well. Leah walked over to Neil and tapped him on the shoulder, pointing to her ears. Suddenly an air blast impacted with their ankles, sending them both cascading to the ground. Vayu walked over to them. Using one arm, he pinned them to the ground with air pressure. The other arm outstretched towards Leah.
Leah began to choke. Her breath was being taken out of her. She struggled to breath, trying to clutch her throat but to no avail under the immense pressure. Leah began to dry vomit, retching and heaving as what felt like the life was sucked out of her. Leah struggled to lift her head and inhale, but couldn't. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Vayu begin to laugh, though she couldn't hear it.
Vayu's eyes widened and he ducked to the side. An air blade passed by him and missed by an inch, severing a foot of his snow white hair. Vayu turned around and faced his opponent. The pressure relieved, Neil and Leah stood up, taking in great gulps of smoke filled air. Leah lifted her head and saw Keanu fighting Vayu.
Keanu ran towards Vayu, the wind augmenting his speed. As he passed by him, Keanu punched Vayu's cheek. Vayu fell to the ground, at which Leah rushed over and buried his wrist and legs under rubble. Vayu tried to free himself, but to no avail. Leah, Neil, and Keanu looked over at Kumara. She was swinging her arms in a wide circle, great tendrils of lightning generating around her. Kumara looked out of the corner of her eye at Leah. She stopped her arms in midair and pointed at Leah. Hubert ran over and intercepted it with an outstretched arm.
Hubert fell to the ground and writhed in pain as the lightning passed through his heart. Neil and Keanu rushed to him but were stopped by a fire blast from Kumara. Leah stood there in shock, staring at Hubert's burnt body. Kumara walked over and stared down at Hubert. She extended her arm upwards, flames gathering around it.
"I never wanted any of this for you. I failed to keep you safe." Hubert whispered, hands clutching his heart.
Kumara stopped her arm, the flames dissipating. She said nothing, only staring at Hubert.
"When Leah told me you lived, I cried for joy and thanked God for his blessing. Even now, though you serve them, I'm still glad you're alive."
Kumara stared down at Hubert, confusion on her face.
"Who are you?" she whispered.
"Don't listen to him, Kumara! Kill him! Hurry!" Vayu screamed from where he was imprisoned.
"Kumara Sanchez, my sweet daughter. I never thought I would see you again."
Kumara's eyes widened in shock. Neil and Keanu gasped as well.
"No, that's not possible." Kumara stuttered.
"It is. Trust me."
A loud, piercing scream interrupted them, coming from behind Neil. Keanu stood behind him, arms outstretched as if to protect Neil. A long, twisted piece of metal jutted from Keanu's back, coming out the other side through his stomach. Keanu coughed, and a thin trickle of blood came up his throat and out of the corner of his mouth. He collapsed to the ground, unmoving. Everyone looked over to the impact zone, to the waiting form of the Leader.
Leah gasped when she saw him; the same man who had only an hour ago called and sentenced her to death. The Leader walked over slowly, taking in the scene before him. His eyes passed over the imprisoned Elite, stopping at Kumara leaning over Hubert. Neil ran to Leah and stood in front of her, arms outstretched to protect her.
"Come now Neil. Do you need to assume that I'm going to hurt her?" the Leader teased.
Neil gave no response, glaring at the Leader. The Leader turned to Kumara.
"And Kumara. Good work. I always thought you would last the longest out of the Elite. But what are you waiting for?"
Kumara's eyes flitted back and forth between the Leader and Hubert.
"What is it? Are you afraid of him?" The Leader said.
"No sir." Kumara quietly responded.
"Then kill him."
Kumara gave a pleading look, but to no avail.
"Kumara." Hubert whispered so only she could hear him. Kumara looked down at him.
"You are who you choose to be. Survive, my daughter. Live on to fight another day." Hubert whispered. Kumara nodded faintly. She raised her arm again, flames gathering around it. Hubert sat up quickly and launched a fire blast at the Leader. The Leader blocked it as Neil sent an air swipe and Kumara's arm descended towards her father.
The fire consumed Hubert, making him barely recognizable when the flames dissipated. Kumara gasped in shock, oblivious to the fight going on between the Leader and Neil. Neil pushed Leah out of the way.
"Go, get out of here!" Neil said, blocking a fire blast. Kumara stood near the body of her father, motionless. The Leader intensified his attacks, pushing Neil to the limit. Leah's eyes flicked between Neil's glider, Kumara, and the Leader.
"Don't worry about me! Just go!" Neil screamed, retreating into a corner.
Leah closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The next second she spun in a circle and sent an air wake at the Leader. The Leader relented his attack on Neil and blocked the wake, turning his attention to Leah. Leah lifted a pile of rubble and flung at the Leader, who vaporized it in a wall of fire. Neil launched a blade that the Leader could only partially block. A large cut appeared on the Leader's robe, blood seeping through.
"Kumara!" the Leader called to her. She stood still, looking at the Leader, but not moving.
"Kumara!" the Leader yelled, his eyes fierce. Kumara kept still. The Leader looked like he was going to explode with fury. Neil noticed the distraction and grabbed his and Keanu's glider. He tossed Keanu's to Leah and ran to the window, jumping through the hole and unfolding his wings. Leah followed, gaining the attention of the Leader.
The Leader walked to the edge of the hole and swung his arms in a circle. He put his fingers together and pointed at where Neil's glider was going. The lightning intercepted and blew apart Neil's glider. As Neil fell, the Leader sent an enormous fire blast beneath him. Neil passed through it and emerged a burned corpse, dead in the air.
Leah looked at Neil's body in shock as he continued to fall to the street. She closed her eyes, tears flooding them. A rush of energy surged through Leah, and she felt her eyes glow on the edges.
The Leader watched Neil's corpse fall with satisfaction, then turned to Leah. Instead of fleeing, she was flying full speed towards him. The Leader began to retreat, and ended up running full speed as Leah rushed in. Leah dropped in front of the Leader with an air bomb, sending him flying into a wall. Kumara shook out of her shock and gathered lightning around her hands.
The Leader picked himself up and attacked Leah with a fire whip. Leah took the whip in her hands and sent a burst of fire down it, burning the Leader's hands. The Leader screamed in pain and compressed a ball of fire in his hands. He launched it towards Leah. The ball stayed in midair and sparked for a moment, then exploding in a fiery shockwave.
Leah bent an air blast and sent the shockwave towards the Leader. The Leader bent a wall of sheetrock and blocked it. Leah heard footsteps behind her and grabbed Kumara's hands, still sparkling with lightning. Leah let go of one hand and blasted Kumara with air, sending her through a wall. She crumpled to the floor and did not get up.
The Leader stood up and attacked Leah with a disk of fire. Leah ran forward, boosted by her airbending, and caught the pinwheel in her hands. She slowly compressed her hands together, putting the pinwheel out. She moved her arms in an intricate circle and blasted the Leader, sending him near Jon's headless body in a heap.
Leah felt herself calm down and return to normal. Leah staggered, exhausted. She turned around to face the Leader, and gasped. She struggled to breathe, shock filling her. She looked down at her chest.
At three spears of blood embedded in her.
Leah looked up at the Leader, an orb of blood above one hand. Leah glanced over at where Jon's body was, but the puddle of blood was absent. The Leader used his other arm and pinned Leah to the ground with air pressure.
Leah looked up at the Leader, pinning Leah with one arm while he cut Morgan and Adam free with the blood. Morgan moved over to Vayu and freed him whilst Adam went to investigate Kumara. The Leader walked over to Leah and stared down at her pinned body.
"Well Leah? I thought you would have questions." he said in a calm voice.
The Leader relented the air pressure a bit and let Leah move her head so she could stare at him.
"Not...possible..." she strained to say, waves of pain from her chest making her gasp every word.
"I assure you, it is possible. Do you think Bracken was the only one to get that power? I'm a better Avatar then you ever were. Then you had any hope of becoming. Although I admit that you're the first I've had to use the other elements on, you were still no match. None of you were. I've outlived all of you."
A tear streamed down Leah's face as she felt consciousness slipping from her, dulling the pain.
"It's alright Leah. Soon you'll be with all the others. Hopefully your successor will be more of a challenge."
The Leader reached into his pocket and produced two plastic zip ties. Keeping Leah pinned he bound Leah's wrists and ankles, leaving no room for movement. He relented on the air pressure and buried her under a pile of rubble. Leah screamed as the rubble pushed the spears further into her body. The Leader left her head visible, watching the screaming with a small grin. The other members of the Elite gather around, staring down at Leah.
"Come now. We're done here." the Leader said blankly. He walked over with Morgan to the impact zone and created an air sphere around them. Morgan grabbed hold of the Leader's ankles and they flew out of the Tower. Vayu and Adam did the same, leaving Kumara in the Tower. Kumara stared at Leah's body. She glanced at the hole, but neither the Elite or the Leader were present.
Kumara kneeled down and placed a finger on the zip tie binding Leah's ankles. She quickly melted her way through it, doing the same for her wrists. Using a carefully aimed fire blast, Kumara incinerated the rubble covering Leah. Leah stirred and stared up at Kumara. Kumara felt a tear run down her cheek.
"I won't let them kill you."
Leah blinked slowly, acknowledging her mercy.
"But I can't save you." Kumara whispered. Without a further word, she walked to the hole and flew out on a jet of fire. Leah tried to stand, but to no avail. She felt her awareness slipping further this time, and became ever aware of the blood seeping out her chest and back. With a final breath, she collapsed to the floor.
Sierra walked out the revolving door of the Marriott and stared up at the burning Towers. She glanced at her watch. 9:58. And still no sign of Don Ruben. She sighed with worry and walked back to the skeleton crew of firefighters still present in the lobby. Suddenly, a thunderous rumbling sound began to flood the lobby.
A firefighter rushed through the doors.
"Everybody run! The building's coming down!"
Sierra stood in shock as everyone began to panic and scream. No more than two seconds later, the rumbling reached the ground, and a massive force launched Sierra halfway across the lobby. Soot and dust filled her mouth, and still the thundering exploded around her.
The Leader and Elite watched the building collapse from the roof of the North Tower, hiding themselves in the dust cloud that followed. As the dust and smoke settled, a molten ruin of steel and fire lay where the South Tower stood. Adam and Morgan stared down at the ruin, speechless. Vayu looked down upon it with a mix of regret and satisfaction. Kumara sat away from them all, near the staircase going into the building, head on her knees.
The Leader closed his eyes and breathed deeply. For the first time in almost a year, a peculiar sensation filled every fiber of his twisted being.
- As of this chapter, the series is halfway over.
- The title "the Burden of Atlas" refers to the Greek Legend of the Titan Atlas holding the weight of the sky on his shoulders. The author wanted to connect this with Leah's burden of being the Avatar and Kumara's guilt of her actions in the Elite.
- The Book 2 finale was always envisioned as the turning point of the series. As such, everything before the series was arranged to match with it.
- Kumara's last words to Leah were based on Batman's last words to Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins.
- The three chapters of the Book 2 finale are the only chapters to not have pictures attached.
- Dedicated to the memory of the 9/11 victims and survivors. We will always remember your sacrifice.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Fanon Award for Outstanding Writing in a Fanon Series
|Henhouse (2009) - - (2010) - (2011) - (2012) - (2013) - (2015)|
|Book One: Glass|
|The Message - Leah - The Glow - BDA - Gone - Uluru - Revealed - The Colonies - Brethren - The Survivors - Joel's Old Friend - Alice Springs - School - Sierra - Discovery - Bracken - Visiting the Past - Goodbyes - Escape Part 1: Shards of Glass - Escape Part 2: Confrontation|
|Book Two: Smoke|
|The Outside - Questions - Flight - The Rogues - Forewarned - Keith - The Exiles - Forfeit - Choice - Consequence - Legacy Part 1: Avatar Joel - Legacy Part 2: Avatar Aang - Open Arms - Father - Learning to Fly, Part 1: The Apprentice - Learning to Fly, Part 2: The Master - A Leap of Faith - Negotiations - Twin Towers, Part 1: Successor - Twin Towers, Part 2: The Black Plume of Smoke - Twin Towers, Part 3: The Burden of Atlas|
|Book Three: Storm|
|His Dark Materials - Wounds - Rest in Peace - Somewhere Only We Know - The Mistress - Smoke and Mirrors|