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|Whispers in the Night|
September 24, 2015
The woman in black was walking trough a long, poorly lit hallway, long, black hair casting a shadow on her face, making it impossible to discern any facial features. Only her eyes glimmered in the dark, small, black and cold, and bloodthirsty.
When she reached the room with better lighting, she was revealed to be joined by another woman - dressed in a beige-colored jumpsuit with long, wavy dark brown hair and softer facial structure than her companion. She would almost be pretty, if her brown eyes weren't completely delusional, one of them staring intensely at the secretary seated at the desk and the other one staring equally intensely into her nose.
The secretary gave a second look at the women, flinching backwards in his chair as he did so. The black haired woman had her face painted white and adorned with a variety of piercings around her eyes, and the brown haired woman had four words tattooed on her cheeks, right under her eyes. The secretary narrowed his eyes to read them- Per Aspem ad Astra.
He signaled them to enter the door right from him, and the black haired woman nodded and knocked on the oak door with whitened knuckles.
"Come in," a cold voice spoke from inside the room. The women entered and took a step back immediately after - the room was completely dark but looked like an ordinary office, a closet, a desk and a black armchair back facing them. The voice seemed to come from the person sitting on it, though they couldn't see their face.
The black-haired woman spoke quietly. "You've contacted us-"
"Shut up, Katherina. I'll speak," the brunette with frightening tattoos cut her off.
"I know who you are," the voice from behind the armchair spoke again. It was female and unusually calm and deep.
"Then you know that we're good at what we do." The brown-haired woman smirked.
"So I've heard. But I'm not in need of a murder." The hidden person stopped. "Currently."
"Then what did you call us for?" the woman snapped, unconsciously gripping the automatic gun fastened on her back.
"I need information, Tarrlok Sakira," the voice answered calmly. "And I'm assured that you can bring them."
It was already high noon, the faint autumn sunlight shining upon the airship gliding trough the sky above the outskirts of Republic City, slowly, almost lazily.
Inside the airship, four people were sitting around the small round table, the tall boy who was laid back in his chair, resting his head on his hands, the sleeping black-haired girl, and the boy in a blue shirt who seemed utterly nervous, gripping the armrests of his chair, and finally a brunette who was tapping the table with her fingertips rather irritated.
"And?" the brunette said and finally stopped tapping.
"And what now, Kain?" the black-haired girl opened her eyes, shifting in her chair.
"When are we going to start thinking about our next move?" Kain replied, slamming a large, brown envelope on the table.
"Ooh, what's that?" The boy in the blue shirt seemed to break out of his worried state for a second, a curious smile appearing on his lips.
"Turkko, haven't you been listening to one word the Chief and Pesident Tayen said? This is confidential information about our mission, aka the directions for us to read," she raised an eyebrow.
"Alright. Let's see it." The tall boy with glasses took the envelope from the table and opened it using a pencil, taking a thick stack of papers out of it. "Per Iovem, who's going to read all this? There are forty pages here for sure."
"We are going to read it. Spirits, why did you apply for this if you have no patience even to read the directions, Darin?" Tan, the second voice of reason added.
"I didn't apply. They begged me to come," Darin corrected her, pushing the round glasses up his nose.
"Excuse me? The directions," Kain silenced the argument and cleared her throat.
Turkko inhaled and exhaled sharply.
"What in the Spirit World is wrong now?" The airbender turned her head to the boy, her messy brown locks whipping trough the air as she did so.
"Nothing. Just a turbulence," the Water Tribe boy muttered, gripping the handles harder.
"Boy, you're going to live on an airship for a few months, are you going to flinch with every turbulence?" Darin gave him an irritated look.
"Well they scare me," Turkko defended himself, running his fingers trough his long, black hair.
"Can I please read this?" The look on Kain's face seemed as if she was going to choke the next person who spoke out using airbending, so the other three gave in. "Thank you."
She cleared her throat again. "Anti Spirits Industries, The Council for Security secret mission that will from now on be referred to as 'Anti-SI secret mission' was-"
"Can you please skip to the part we haven't heard two hours ago?" Darin muttered, closing his eyes again.
Kain couldn't hold her temper anymore. "Fine, if you're going to be so lazy that you won't even listen to what others have to say, what are you doing here? There are people counting on us, and you want to- chill out or -whatever you're doing. Let's hear your genius plan."
Darin stroked his chin. "Find the Avatar, and um...bring them back?"
Turkko narrowed his eyebrows seriously. "That was actually my plan too until you said it. Now it sounds dumb."
"Find the Avatar and bring them back?" Tan joined in to the conversation after minutes of listening. "And they begged you to come along?"
"Alright. If you're so smart, then tell us your plan. Oh, right, you don't have one," Darin said sarcastically, meeting her green eyes that sparkled with anger.
"If you must know, I do." Tan took the directions into her hands and flipped them until she found what she was looking for and pointed to a picture of a young black-haired woman with dark circles under her bright green eyes.
"Asami Sato," she proclaimed, earning a quite impressed look from Kain.
Turkko sat up in his bed, observing the neon glowing numbers on his digital wristwatch.
The beds on the airship were just too hard, he thought, but yet Darin and Tan were fast asleep, and he could hear Kain's faint snoring from above.
He wasn't sure if all bunk beds were this uncomfortable, because he never slept in one before, but this one certainly was.
He closed his eyes once again, trying to lull himself to sleep listening to the sounds of the forest outside.
Some rustling sounds. Probably an animal.
Some scratching sounds. Probably a bird.
But then, he heard something that didn't belong into the forest at all. Some faint murmur, more similar to a human voice speaking faster and quieter than a sound of nature
He tip-toed to the window, but nothing was out there to be seen, but then he heard it again. This time, he was completely sure that it wasn't an animal. He froze as he caught two words.
Turkko felt panic overflowing him. Someone was out there, and they knew that the group was sent by the Council, and they were out to get them. They were probably plotting their murder right now. And after they got rid of them, they were probably just going to tell his daddy that he was smashed by a pine tree, and that they were fine and no one ever found out the truth. He already wanted to alert everyone, but then he stopped himself in the middle of the room.
They wouldn't believe him. He was standing barefooted in his pajamas convincing them that there were people outside who wanted to murder them. He could already hear Kain, "You were dreaming, Turkko. Don't make up nonsense, Turkko."
He forced himself to go back to bed, but a small thought creeped up to him before he closed his eyes.
What were the odds that someone accidentally mentioned a secret council in front of their airship?
Turkko was taught to always, (almost) always, trust the odds.
Kain came out of the sleeping quarters at 10:00 AM, finding the three other group members already awake and seated around the table. She didn't miss that they all looked like they'd slept well except for Turkko, who had dark bags under his eyes and seemed even more alerted than he usually did, but still he was telling some obviously funny story to Darin and Tan.
"And then daddy said..." he laughed here. "...Turkko, don't ever sew your gloves to your coat again, son..." he laughed again."...it makes no sense."
Though the story made no sense, at least to Kain, Turkko's high-pitched laugh was enough to make her crack a smile, but she immediately covered it with a serious expression. "Good morning."
"Wow, Kain, I haven't expected you to be such a snooze. We've been awake for like two hours," Tan mocked, handing the airbender a cup of instant coffee which she accepted thankfully.
"I didn't sleep half of the night, if you must know. I was reading this." She waved the directions they got from the Council in her hand and covered a yawn.
"You actually read all of this?" Darin seemed quite impressed. "Did you find something useful?"
"Actually, I did," she replied, trying to find a page she was looking for. "Listen to this."
The three leaned forward to get a better look of the paper.
Kain read it out loud. "After Future Industries closed in 189 AG, CEO Asami Sato, if we are to believe the testimonies from her friends, developed a severe depression. Her close personal friend admits that she spent a year in therapy before selling all of her possessions aside for a country house in the western periphery of the United Republic to which she retreated a month later. She refused to contribute to the mission or to give any unknown information. Her current location is unknown, though it's speculated that she still resides there."
"Oh my, I didn't know that Sato went mad. I mean, everyone knows that she disappeared, but..." Tan noted.
"My auntie said that she showed signs of insanity even when she was young," Turkko followed up.
"Are you even listening to the words that are coming out of your mouth?" Kain shot an irritated gaze at them. "The woman has been trough a lot. I'd like to see how you would turn out after that."
"So, how exactly is this useful to us?" Darin asked, pushing the glasses up his nose.
"Don't you get it? She never gave any statement on the Avatar's disappearance. If we can get something out of her, it could be something important," Kain added in a more excited tone.
"Alright! How are we going to find Sato?" Tan asked, pouring another cup of coffee for herself.
"It says here that she most probably still resides in her old country house. We just have to find out where that is," Kain closed.
"When we're at finding out, when are we going to have a meet-up party?" Turkko asked, sharply refusing the caffeinated beverage.
"A meet-up what?" Tan narrowed her eyes at the Water Tribe prince.
"A meet-up party, meet-up session, meet-up, call it however you want. My uncle says that it's important for healthy cooperation. Everyone has to say four sentences about themselves so we could get to know each other," he explained.
"That sounds like something four year olds would do," Darin commented, raising a brow.
"That's actually not a bad idea." Kain stroked her chin. "Studies show that people who are friends work better as a team."
"Great! You start, would you?" Turkko pointed to Kain, and she cleared her throat. "Remember, four sentences."
"Alright. I'm the only child of Master Jinora and the third great-grandchild of Avatar Aang. I was born and raised on the Air Temple Island. I got my airbending tattoos at age thirteen, and I, um, enjoy astronomy and cat-deers," she recited.
"One more sentence, Kain." Turkko encouraged her.
"I like, er, strawberries?" Kain muttered, and Turkko had a very pleased expression on his face.
"Now you, Tan," Kain nudged the black-haired girl.
"I'm Tan Beifong. I come from Zaofu. I've been a power disc champion for three years in a row. ("Ooh, you're a metalbender!" Turkko cut in.) And, umm, my middle name is Flora." Tan earned a quiet laugh from Darin.
"That's an awesome name," Turkko defended her. "Darin?"
The tall boy shrugged. "Iknik Jr. Darin Moon Blackstone Varrick. ("And you mocked Flora," Tan snorted.) I graduated at the Sato University. I like computers, but I've never had one."
"One more sentence, you can do it, Iknik!" Turkko cheered.
"And never call me Iknik, Iknik is my grandpa. Varrick is my dad. I'm Darin," he added.
"That's five sentences, Darin." Turkko's comment was completely ignored.
"My turn!" Turkko clapped. "I'm Turkko, I come from the Northern Water Tribe's capital, and I am proud to call myself its future chief. ("Poor Tribe," Darin whispered sympathetically.) My daddy is chief, and my auntie is also a chief, and I have three awesomest cousins whose names are Orah, N.J., and Kathrin, and a second cousin whose name is Kimmi. I'm eighteen and four months, and I have a husky puppy named Snowball. And, oh, I've just cut my hair last week."
"Why would you tell us that?" Tan narrowed her eyebrows.
"Because it's an important part of my personality," the boy replied a bit offended.
"Anyway, can we get back to how are we going to find miss Sato?" Kain brought up the subject others tried to duck out of for the last half hour.
"Sorry, Kay, I'd need a strong computer to find some more info, and we don't have such a thing here," Darin raised his arms defensively.
"We have to find computer access to find her? That's going to be hard. I only know a few places in the Republic that have it, and I doubt we could walk in just like that." Kain knitted her eyebrows.
"Maybe we could break in," Tan said with a bit more enthusiasm than before.
"That's not going to be easy. If they catch us, it will ruin the mission." Darin cupped his face.
"Why don't we just try simple elimination?" Turkko suggested.
"Not now, Turkko, we're thinking. It's no time for your funny words," Darin cut him off.
"Wait, Darin, no, that's actually very smart. Turkko, can you explain it to them?" Tan tapped the boy's shoulder.
"Um, the file said western periphery right? If she suffered from depression I guess she wanted to retreat somewhere where there're not many people. However, she has to live somewhere near the town to get food and other stuff, so we can count out all the wasteland grounds. That leaves six settlements, Liáng, Oblák, Western Huangdì, Eastern Huangdì, Xiao Xi, and Livada, right? Well, the first three are just on the outskirts of big cities, so I'd count them out. That leaves three to search," he blinked as if that was obvious.
"Wow. That's actually pretty smart," Kain took a piece of paper. "What did you say they're called?"
"Good one, buddy. And all this time I thought you were a complete idiot." Darin patted Turkko's shoulder.
"How did you conclude all that so fast?" Kain gave Turkko a quite impressed look.
"You know those magazines with all kinds of riddles and mazes and those stuff?" Turkko smiled. "I solved a lot of those when I was a kid."
"I believe we're heading for Livada?" Darin made his way to the pilot's cabin.
"Affirmative. And let's hope it's not in vain." Kain clenched her fists.
Turkko was having trouble sleeping again.
It was only his second night on the airship, and he was horrified by the thought that he was going to spend months here.
He missed his bed back at home and not to mention his family. At least he knew that Kimmi came to keep his father company.
Turkko's bed was right under the window, and he couldn't shake off the feeling of being watched.
He looked up, but all he saw was a night sky sprinkled with a thousand stars.
Turkko forced himself to calm down. There was no way that if, only if, someone was following them before, they could still be on their heels.
For the first time since the mission started, he actually felt sleepiness overflow him, but just to be sure everything was alright. He froze.
Behind the round glass of the window, there was a face staring at him. A woman's face, precisely, white, and with a long tangle of black hair, and its every centimeter was covered in piercings.
The woman's face disappeared, and Turkko screamed from the top of his lungs.
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