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The Ba Sing Se Times, Issue 64: 30 May 2016

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50
From the Editor: Summer Hits Avatar Wiki

The BSST staff apologizes for our absence last month, but we're back and ready to present you more epic content! The editor will do her best not to be so fashionably late in the future...

For many of us, school has just concluded and we're being hit with a wave of heat. But for those of you not in the Southern Hemisphere, winter must be awesome, too, we know. If we look at the time of year based on the Avatar Calendar months, Sozin's comet is approaching! The activity on Avatar Wiki shall be empowered and flare like never before. Are you guys ready for this ultimate vacation? We want to see all your faces out here for the coming months. Come party with the crazy Avatar fandom community. Lurkers, this means you, too! Introduce yourselves, dance with someone, have a cookie! Don't be shy.

Happy Reading!

50
Avatar Face-Off: Amon vs. Zaheer
Duke of Skibbington
Welcome to a new issue of Avatar Face-Off. Today, we are doing an exciting battle, suggestede by Minnichi herself. Amon against Zaheer. The master bloodbender who could take away a person's bending before his demise and Zaheer, the first airbender to be able to fly since Guru Laghima. Both have managed to terrorise the Avatar and strech her to breaking point.

Our first contender is Amon. Being trained by his father, the criminal mastermind, Yakone, he became a talented bloodbender. He was a psychic bloodbender, being able to use his devastating ability without the need for any movement, or the presence of a full moon. From a young age, he showed himself capable of controlling an entire pack of wolves. As Amon, he was capable of resisting an effort by his bloodbending brother to restrain him. Amon was most known for his ability to use bloodbending to take away someone's bending for good.

Amon is also agile. He can evade many speedy attacks from Lightning Bolt Zolt and even the Avatar. However, this was not perfect as he was overcome and outmatched by Tenzin and Avatar Korra when they utilised airbending against him. Amon was also skilled at planning ambushes and hit-and-run attacks. Although he was greatly outnumbered, he waited for opportunities when his opponents were spread to thinly in which he could strike with overwhelming force.Next, we have Zaheer, the rogue airbender. Even when he was a non-bender, he was considered such a threat he was locked away in the highest security prison on the planet. After Harmonic Convergence, he gained a terrifying ability - airbending. He utilised an incredibly aggressive form of airbending based on landing the first strike and maneuvering while striking his helpless foe. He could ragdoll hapless White Lotus guards, suffocate the Earth Queen and even fly without a glider. He was also incredibly agile. This was augmented by his airbending which allowed him to perform great jumps and avoid almost every attack. In combat, he was only matched by the Avatar State and Tenzin, another airbender. Zaheer was a skilled leader and a master of using his environment to his advantage.

The fight would be decided by Zaheer's ability to resist bloodbending. The only people to be able to resist Zaheer's ability were Mako and Korra, awakened to her new-found spirituality. Could this indicate that spiritual airbenders could eventually resist bloodbending and tip the scales of the battle?

If this is the case, I am happy to give the victory to Zaheer. Otherwise, Amon's bloodbending would prove far too much for the rogue airbender.


Who do you think would win in a fight?
 
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32
 
2
 

The poll was created at 12:41 on May 28, 2016, and so far 66 people voted.
Disagree with the votes? Want to suggest the next battle? Comment to share your thoughts!
Avatar.jpg
Smoke and Shadow Part 3:
Summary and Review

Jweaks
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT ALL THREE PARTS OF "SMOKE AND SHADOW". I ADVISE YOU NOT TO READ THIS ARTICLE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE GRAPHIC NOVEL TRILOGY YET.

The latest graphic novel trilogy continuation of "Avatar: The Last Airbender", titled "Smoke and Shadow", ended on March 16, 2016. I was truly quite satisfied with the outcome of the story, which was written by the amazing Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko and illustrated by the talented Gurihiru duo.

In the first part, Zuko begins dealing with two major problems. The first is the appearance of the Kemurikage, spirit legends who are kidnapping children in the Fire Nation Capital City. The other is a group named the New Ozai Society, who attempted to dethrone and assassinate Zuko but failed. What Zuko doesn't realize until part three is that these two groups are far more connected than he thought.

In the part two, unrest and trouble brews in the Fire Nation Capital City as the Kemurikage continue to kidnap children. Meanwhile, Aang, Zuko, Mai, and Kei Lo (her new boyfriend) discover more about the Kemurikage's past. They discover that the people who have been kidnapping children in the Capital City are impersonators, a group of human girls led by none other than Azula!

That brings us to the final installment, part three.

The graphic novel begins right where part two left off, with Azula battling Zuko and his friends. Azula has obviously trained and is now very strong again, so she gets away with Kiyi, her and Zuko's young half-sister. This scene was very dark (in more ways than one--it took place at night) and gives us an epic reintroduction to Azula.

We go to the palace, where Mai comforts Zuko with a long hug and kind words while Kei Lo watches in jealousy. (I really love how they've toyed with the idea of Mai and Zuko getting back together.) Zuko resolves to seal off the city and search the entire city's houses for Ukano (the leader of the New Ozai Society and Mai's dad) and his followers. Aang begs for a peaceful alternative, but Zuko orders Suki and Ty Lee to escort him out. This really took things to a new level for Zuko and added much tension.

Next, we see the secret hideout of the Kemurikage impersonators, where they are keeping the kidnapped children. We discover that Azula is indeed in alliance with Ukano. When Azula orders him to start a riot in the streets, he doubts her, not seeing how that would help get Ozai back on the throne. Azula tells him that Ozai was never part of the plan. This scene revealed quite a lot, and the way it ended left me incredibly intrigued.

Aang, Suki, and Ty Lee search Kiyi's room for evidence, but don't find anything. However, Ty Lee shows them something much more promising than any evidence: a secret tunnel that happens to start right where Azula disappeared with Kiyi. This was a big turning point and marked the beginning of the buildup to the final, climatic battle.

Then, we witness Zuko's soldiers, who are storming through the city, ruthlessly searching homes. This really shows how desperate Zuko has become and how far he is willing to go. Tension unfolds in the streets, and Ukano easily turns this anger into a riot. Kei Lo gets caught up in the chaos and gets arrested along with many others.

Next, we get to see Iroh, who is traveling to the Fire Nation. He talks about the return of National Tea Appreciation Day (a hilarious reference to "The Search"). It's always so great and relieving to see Iroh among the drama and chaos of the main storyline.

When Zuko's soldiers bring the prisoners to him, Mai pleads with him to release Kei Lo. When Zuko resists, him and Kei Lo get into a heated argument, which Mai breaks up, resulting in Zuko letting Kei Lo go. Kei Lo makes a boastful and quite rude remark to Zuko that he needs to accept that Mai's with him now. Then, Aang, Suki, and Ty Lee show up to show Zuko the secret tunnel they found. Zuko, Aang, Mai, and Kei Lo go to check it out. This really sets up the journey ahead.

Then, we go to Ukano, who is pleading with Azula to let the children go, for one of them is his son, Tom-Tom. (This marks the beginning of Ukano missing his son and realizing the wrongness of what he has done.) Azula refuses, telling him that doing so would risk exposing themselves.

In the room that the kidnapped children are being held, Kiyi is practicing a form that she saw Zuko doing in the courtyard. This is important, for it sets up something for later.

Aang, Zuko, Mai, and Kei Lo come to the end of tunnel, which is blocked by a large door. What's behind it is not at all what was expected--the royal family garden, called the Garden of Tranquil Souls. Suddenly, multiple Kemurikage impersonators appear all around them.
Click here to keep reading!
Next, we see Iroh walking through the halls of the palace, finding nobody except Ursa on the ground, mourning (Kiyi, her daughter, was taken by Azula).

Outside the room where the children are being held, Ukano is sobbing, admitting that he was wrong to do everything he did. Inside, Kiyi “figures something out” while doing her forms and firebends a wall through the door! Ukano begins to lead the children out of the hideout and accepts that he will have to pay for what he has done. I love this part of the story, where one of the antagonists realizes the wrongness of his actions.

In the graveyard, Aang, Zuko, Mai, and Kei Lo are epically battling against Azula and her girls. Azula reveals the origin of how she came up with the idea of pretending to be the Kemurikage, long ago when she was a little girl. The scene ends with Azula and Zuko shooting fire at each other, creating an epic fire explosion and illustrating an epic image with vibrant shades of red/orange/yellow (Zuko) and blue (Azula). Azula gets away with Zuko hot on her tail.

Meanwhile, Ukano reaches the exit with the children to find two Kemurikage impersonators there. I had to laugh at the funny way they did this.

We go back to Ursa and Iroh. Iroh gives Ursa a good old Iroh talk, which is exactly what she needs. He tells her that fear will always be with her, but she needs to learn to see the fear with unclouded eyes. This is a really great moral to relate to the overall story, and forces you to stop and think.

Aang, now left alone, defeats the last of the Kemurikage girls in the graveyard. He hears a cry for help behind the entrance door, so he opens it and finds Ukano and the children. However, the two Kemurikage girls are there too and prepare to attack.

Zuko chases Azula into a crypt, where they have a brief talk about how Azula has gotten better (her psychosis) until Azula attacks violently.

Aang battles the Kemurikage girls and is about to be defeated when Mai and Kei Lo show up and save him. Ukano is glad to see Mai and Tom-Tom united, which is a great ending to that storyline. Well, almost the ending.

Zuko and Azula have an epic final battle in the dark crypt. One of the illustrations shows yet another beautiful image of Zuko and Azula charging at each other, with a great balance of red or blue on either side. Azula reveals her true plan, which now isn’t to become Fire Lord. Her plan is to turn Zuko into a Fire Lord who is strong and rules with power and fear. She says how, in the last twenty-four hours, she has shown how ruthless Zuko can be. Zuko is puzzled by this and refuses to accept that she is indeed right.

Outside, Zuko and Kiyi unite once again.

Later, Mai and Tom-Tom give a saddening goodbye to Ukano as he is locked up and put in jail. Mai tells him that he was brave, and that is how she will choose to remember him. This was such an emotional end to this plotline.

Zuko has gathered everyone in the Fire Nation Capital in the Fire Nation Coronation Plaza, where he apologizes for the horrible events and chaos of the past few “traumatic” days. He resolves to be a better Fire Lord and treat his citizens better. Azula, in her Kemurikage costume, watches from afar along with two of her girls. They make their signature dramatic exit in smoke. This was an incredibly torturous and intriguing way to end the main plotline!

Later, Mai breaks up with Kei Lo outside of her house. I really did not see this one coming! I could definitely see why, though. This was such an emotional scene that was orchestrated perfectly.

The final scene of the entire trilogy was devastating and, somehow…perfect. It begins with Ursa outside of a prison cell with Iroh, who reminds her: “unclouded eyes”. Ursa enters and sees Ozai sitting there, who screams at her, acting as if he is still Fire Lord. He is clearly very mentally disoriented. Although Ursa is very afraid, she closes her eyes and, when she opens them again, tells Ozai that she finally sees him. She says that he is just a very small man who is trying with all of his might to be big. She says that his heart his too small to have room for anyone, including himself. She tells him goodbye and walks away while Ozai yells and orders her to come back and grovel before him. Ursa goes home and gets in bed with Noren (her husband) and Kiyi, who says “Mommy…you’re back.” She replies, “I’m back.” I’m pretty sure I cried when I read this scene…it’s just so emotional and…perfect.

As a whole, the final installment of this trilogy was absolutely amazing. The art was spectacular. The humor was at a perfect level. The script was beautifully written. Each one of the various themes in this story was fabulous. My favorite, though, is the pressure of being a leader getting to Zuko and forcing him to make some bad decisions as Fire Lord. If you were to ask me which of the four graphic novel trilogies is my favorite now, I would fairly easily narrow it down to “The Search” and “Smoke and Shadow”. I would compare these two for an extremely long time, but eventually conclude that The Search is ever so slightly better.

A satisfying conclusion to the epic trilogy, “Smoke and Shadow Part Three” is a beautiful work of art that will leave every "Avatar" fan emotionally crying—the good kind of crying.
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EDITOR
The Ba Sing Se Times
User of the Issue

Minnichi
Hello, community! This month we'll be debuting a new mainspace column: a User Award series for outstanding contributions to The Ba Sing Se Times! (Contributor = anyone responding to our desperate pleas for articles.)

For all you users who constantly wonder when/where/how/why our newsletter is going to publish, we can't stress enough that the BSST survives off of YOU, the ones writing and submitting articles! Who would want to read a newsletter that's exclusively staff-written?! The BSST is meant to represent you, the community, and the more of you we see in here, the better.

And so, the importance of article contributors cannot be understated. These users are the life and joy of reading our community newsletter, and the next time we seem to fall short of articles, know that it is your fault for not helping to write them - (ahem) Guilt-tripping aside, I proudly announce today:

☆═━┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈━═☆
The May 2016 User of the Issue:
☆═━┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈━═☆

This guy works diligently behind the scenes and, to be honest, is one of the driving forces that brought us back to life after our year/borderline two-year drought of no articles. He might have an unconventional approach to things, but he's in constant discussion with the editor - well, me - between BSST issues and always finding new ways to fill up our content. No matter how delayed we get, he's always there to make sure the lights don't go out. He's recruited a number of contributors to the BSST and also leads one of the most popular columns here, the Avatar Faceoff series.

The Ba Sing Se Times is rarely blessed with such consistent dedication from volunteering users like Duke. He was a clear winner, and I actually dare you to see if you could ever top his track record. With that said, the staff commences your jealousy and shamelessly waves this really pretty userbox in your face to remind you what you're missing out on:

This user was the Ba Sing Se Times User of the Issue in
Issue 64: 30 May 2016





Congratulations again to Duke of Skibbington for his wonderful work in our newsletter. Look to my left to check out his latest!

We'll be filling in the User of the Issue hall of fame as the issues continue to release, and we hope to see YOUR name glorified in the next publish.

NOTE: Winners of this BSST-exclusive feature are not revealed in the Announcement box at the top of the issue because the editor would rather make you feel the suspense as you scroll down to find out.
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Flight of the Bison
Bomochu
Those majestic white beasts, coated in shaggy fur analogous to pure fluffy clouds floating in the sky, their glorious tails flapping in the winds, waving their ‘’six’’ legs...

Wait. Six legs?!

Has anyone else ever wondered why the flying bison looks the way it does? Why on earth it has six legs? Or how something so big actually gets off the ground?

For me, I’ve always loved Appa, and the other flying bison introduced in the Legend of Korra. From occasionally kicking butt in a battle and saving the day, to simply being used as a means of transportation, these impressive beasts have always fascinated me throughout the series.

Now, their appearance could easily be explained by this, as is mentioned in the trivia section on the wikia page. But if such a creature did exist in our world, then how would its biology work? I can remember having a discussion on this with a couple of other users a while ago, and here are a couple ideas I’ve had about the flying bison’s physiology:

An Aquatic Mammal in the Air

One idea is that the flying bison moves through the air like an aquatic mammal would in the water. Evidence? Well, some of the earlier concept art depicted flying bison almost like a manatee, with a broader tail. Obviously, the horns and snout resemble a bison, and so this would make the flying bison an animal hybrid of a bison and some kind of aquatic mammal (personally I think their tails look more like a beavers than a manatee, but we’ll go with manatee). If we assume that the same processes of natural selection and speciation occur in the Avatar universe, then perhaps it could be reasoned that flying bison evolved from some ocean-dwelling mammal and evolved the ability to use airbending, maybe to fill a niche or escape predators (wouldn’t blame them with the current marine predators like the unagi or sea serpents! O__O).

However, there are a couple of things this theory doesn’t quite explain, most notably, the six legs. Manatees have two front flippers and their tail, while bison have two front legs and two hind legs, but neither of these animals have ‘’six’’ legs as the flying bison do. The second issue I find is that it cannot fully explain how a sky bison can fly. Yes, they use air currents to fly, but from what we’ve seen their tails do it seems more of a forceful airbending move, used in offense at times and to take off from the ground. But how could these same airbending movements keep the animals afloat in the sky? This is what leads me onto a second theory for how the flying bison can fly:

A Terrestrial... Insect in the Air?

Yes, you read it right. My own theory I think explains how the flying bison works is that it is in fact a three-way animal hybrid; a bison, manatee, and terrestrial insect. And it isn’t just a convenient way to explain the six legs thing, but it also makes sense of how the flying bison can use airbending to stay in the sky.

Insects have what are called ‘spiracles’ and ‘air sacs’ for breathing. Along their abdomen and thorax, small holes (spiracles) allow air to pass through to a series of cartilage tubes known as tracheoles to deliver oxygen to cells directly, instead of a ventilation system like the lungs we have. All insects have tracheoles and spiracles, but some larger ones also have air sacs to help ventilate air in and out via the spiracles. So what if flying bison also had these air sacs and spiracles? This would mean that along its abdomen a flying bison could use these air sacs and inflate them with air, or deflate, creating air currents which could keep them afloat, while the tail’s primary function is for take-off and perhaps picking up speed rather than keeping the animal in the air.

It also explains a number of other things. If you look closely, the underside of a flying bison’s body is actually segmented, which is much more of an arthropod or insect-like trait than a mammal, though I’m sure these segments are not made of chitin like an insect’s exoskeleton but of skin and flesh. And these air sacs could potentially be used as well for gas exchange; given the altitudes these guys fly at, where oxygen content in the air is low, it wouldn’t be surprising if flying bison did have a number of methods to take in oxygen.

But this theory is not without its own flaws. Tracheal systems are made of cartilage, and are therefore rather heavy. That is why insects are so small compared to larger animals, and if flying bison did indeed use this system of air sacs and tracheoles then they would have to be made of a lighter material or the energy required to even move such a heavy body would be too great, let alone even fly. And more importantly than that... how in Koh’s name would such a creature even evolve?! I mean, at least with the first theory it could be put into an evolutionary context, but with an insect ancestor thrown into the mix the evolutionary history of flying bison becomes rather complicated. Hybridisation by reproduction is certainly out of the question! (Imagine an insect laying bison eggs, or a bison giving birth to live insect-sized baby bison... O__O). Mind you, in a world that includes cat-spiders, ostrich horses, and buzzard-wasps I’m not so sure if a bison/manatee/insect hybrid is totally out of the question.

So it seems even with our best efforts, these majestic flying beauties remain an anatomical anomaly. If you have any comments or your own theories about the flying bison then feel free to post them below! I am a biology major currently in my fourth year of study and I love talking about the science in the Avatar universe, so if there are any other topics you’d like me to talk about then also feel free to comment below (or better yet, write an article! I’m sure they’ll be looking for more ;P ). Bomochu the bombchu signing out!
White lotus tile icon
White lotus tile icon
FROM THE FANON PORTAL
50
EDITOR
Surefire Signs
of a Self-Insert

Minnichi
A lot of us roll our eyes when we come across one. "Self-inserts" in writing are exactly what it sounds like: when an author places him or herself into the story as an actual character. This has gotten an increasingly bad reputation in fanfiction, but what if it's not as easy to avoid as you think?

I believe that self-inserting is more complicated than it sounds. Creating something is an expression of yourself, in some shape or form. Which raises the question, where's the fine line between "expressing yourself in a creatively epic way" versus "Ew self-insert"? Both have "you" in it, right?

With this in mind, I don't think it's entirely the author's fault when a creation goes wrong because, well, they were in it. I believe that an author's relationship with an original character is much like parenthood. Parents created us, and it's very common for children to inherit similar traits and talents. Yet, the two sides are never same person. Similarly, original characters tend to adopt parts of their parent author. The challenge is figuring out at which point they're too much like you to be original. You're original; they're just a clone. I would say that one of the first signs you're headed in that direction is when an insult to your character feels like an insult to yourself. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly normal to feel a sting when people criticize something that came from you, that you put hard work and effort into making. However, a direct insult to you as a person tends to hit way harder. If you find yourself extra sensitive about your original character and personally feel hurt when someone doesn't like him or her, there could be a problem.

The huge sign of a true self-insert, however, is probably how painful it feels to place a flaw on your OC. It's not that fun to have to write down everything bad about yourself, and now the public gets to read all about it, too. On top of that, it just feels off to add flaws you don't even have. It's uncomfortable and makes you kind of sensitive when a reviewer or some other critic goes into detail about what how the character could be better, as if you're not good enough.

A notable sign to consider is also when you find yourself making the environment adapt to your character more than the other way around. It's a delicate balance in real life, since our environment shapes so much of who we are while at the same time, our ingrained interests and traits pretty much govern every choice we make. The universe of a story is bound to a character's personality, as much as our environment affects our own.Your story has a plan, certain events that have to happen believably, and the protagonist simply can't be you if you want them to follow that plan in a way that makes sense. It's a back and forth relationship of how the two elements, the character and their setting, will influence each other. Too much of one side sticks out immediately. So if you notice yourself having a certain inflexibility about tweaking your character, and especially if you always look for solutions that change the story instead of your character, ya might wanna think about it.

I'm not going to say that it's a guaranteed taboo to have a person who's 100% you in a story; who knows, maybe you're writing your honest reaction if you were in your character's shoes, and it so happens to be very interesting to read o_o But I do want to point out that this makes it tons more difficult to give your story a rich, well-rounded setup. You might not realize that maybe you're not being honest with yourself, that you're not actually presenting yourself as the realistic, unique person you are in the physical world. You'll be tempted to change your character into someone better than you, and then it spirals into someone much better than the rest of the world until they're no longer human. It's not a road I would recommend, and its bad track record should be a fair warning.

So, are you your "original" character? Are you one of those parents who try to impose their dreams and interests on their children without wondering if that's actually good for the kiddo? (Because that usually turns out so well...) Food for thought!

Agent Minn out~
50
Avatar Fanon Trends
AvatarAang7
Over the past few months, there seem to have been three major trends on fanon, specifically, in the Korrasami fandom: Equalist!Asami, Athlete!Korra, and Red!Lotus Korra. Now all of these have trends have produced good stories, some of which I want to discuss right here.

In the first category, there have been stories like We Are Not Who We Seem, Blueprints, and Unstable Equilibrium, which is probably the most notable and the best known in this category. Why is it the most notable? Mostly because it actually moved beyond the set-up. I do think think this is an interesting idea, as it was originally something the creators have played with in Book 1, but ultimately decided to discard. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking that either both Asami and Hiroshi, or just Hiroshi would turn out to be working with the Equalists, and lo be it so. Funny thing is, because of this early ambiguity, this storyline isn't a stretch, and it fits surprisingly well into the established story. The problem that every story I've encountered so far runs into is that Asami is hiding her true intentions, which, and let's face it here, are always deceptive. All of these stories start out with Asami wanting to get close to the Avatar for strategical purposes, and end up with them falling in love, which is exactly why I think they quickly fell out of fashion. With the rise of Unstable Equilibrium, the only story I found to make it beyond the first ten chapters, the others fell into disgrace and subsequently were discontinued. On the one hand, this makes sense, since they were a touch samey at times, but they could also offer up interesting new perspectives on the same subject matter. Unstable Equilibrium was discontinued in the wake of the Bataclan terrorist attacks, which makes sense for those who have read the story. Asami is a terrorist, plain and simple, and I did find that sympathizing with her side of the cause became increasingly hard over the course of the story, which, I'd imagine, is the whole point of writing an Equalist!Asami story. After all, one of the things I like most about the Legend of Korra is that the villains are very sympathetic, they have righteous causes that you can definitely identify with up to a certain point (I even agreed with Kuvira until episode ten of Book 4), they just overshot their ideals. It's a real shame the author didn't explore this aspect a little more, because I think this could have elevated the story from 'good' to 'genuinely great'.

Next, there's the Athlete!Korra prompt, which lends itself to a a little more diversity, which is a marvelous thing. After all, variety is the spice of life. These have come around with virtually all sports, including American football, ice hockey, soccer, snowboarding, surfing, and probably more that I haven't read. Now the origin of these stories is simple: Korra's very atypical design. Unlike every animated female character ever, Korra is relatively short, with short legs, muscular, fairly square in build, and with proportionally small eyes. All of this points to a more realistic portrayal of a human being, and therefore, the assumption that she is very athletic by nature, which she is. This paves the way for alternate universe fanon writers, who use this athletic build as a basis for her career. A few of the more interesting stories are Blue, which arguably starts out as a simple smutfic but quickly develops into a more elaborate piece, having a stronger focus on Korra's athletic side. In this story, she's a professional soccer player, having just won the world cup (the US women's team did actually win the world cup, in case you're wondering) who has a one-night-stand with Asami. Then there is probably the best and most popular Korrasami story at the moment of writing: A Long Time Ago We Used To Be Friends. This story, while leaning mostly on the upbringing of Korra and Asami from pretty much pre-pubescence to adulthood, has a strong focus on Korra's athletic career later on. Probably the most focused one is Forbidden Love, a studentXteacher story, with Asami taking the place of the teacher and Korra the place of the star ice hockey player. What I want to illustrate here is the very diverse nature of these stories, and just how far a good writer can take this premise, and a recurring one is that Korra falls into disability. Obviously, this is in the wake of the Book 3 Finale, with her ending up in a wheelchair. This is something that does happen in real life: if someone makes their living with his or her body, how do they handle not being able to do that anymore? All in all, I'm a huge fan of this premise, mostly because it offers up such a wide array of directions the story can take, while remaining within the realm of reason for what the characters would do.

Now the third one, I will admit, I haven't read a lot of those, but that doesn't mean I haven't noticed the trend. The basis is very simple: what if the Red Lotus had succeeded in kidnapping Korra when she was four? This is also a very interesting premise, and definitely one that has a lot of possibilities to work it out. How would Korra react to being raised in such a harsh environment? Would there still be a hint of Raava's inherent goodness? Would the Red Lotus still go through with its plan of murdering her in the Avatar State, or would they use her now that they have the opportunity to mold her to their own image? All of these questions (and therefore storytelling options) can easily make for very appealing fanon, and some of them even are. Stories like Red (it's not related to Blue, don't worry) go even further, combining it with the Equalist!Asami prompt, making the stakes even higher for both of them. There are even stories that deviate even further from this set-up, ranging from Doctor-Patient Confidentiality being one of the darkest stories I have read in The Legend of Korra fandom, to Hellfire, a Hunchback at Notre Dame-esque story in which Korra is merged with Vaatu too, turning her into a psychopath without mercy, and lastly to one of my personal favorites, Rogue Avatar. In it, Korra escapes from the White-Lotus compound, sick of the bonds laid upon her. Instead, she goes completely care-free, becoming muscle-for-hire to bring her own version of balance to the world. The writer's sense of humor paired with Korra's naturally sarcastic personality make for one of the most entertaining stories in the fandom, and I think it's a shame he never got around to posting it here on the Wiki.

Now of course, these aren't the only stories within these trends, nor are these the only good stories out there. These are just a few I wanted to draw some attention to, mostly because I think they really deserve it. There are undoubtedly a lot more, and I want to read as many of them as I can.
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50
Fanon Fact Finders Interview:
Team Player, by AvatarAang7

Tono555

Sokka as therapist This blog is an official interview of the Fanon Fact Finders. We hope you enjoy it!

Hello there! It's Tono555 here, and today It is an absolute honor to present you the interview for an amazing fanon: Team Player, written by AvatarAang7! Now, if you know me, you also have to know that I can't get enough of this fanon. I think it's safe to say it's my favorite fanon; I really enjoyed it when it was still in progress and I beta-read many, many chapters. Now let's begin!

  • Hey there, AA7! How are you doing?
Very well, thank you.
  • Okay, I really, really like how you made Korra. She is very hot-headed and exactly as I would imagine her if she were from our world. How do you feel about how her attitude problems progress during the story? Do you feel her becoming a more mature person?
In a word? Yes, her main arc results in her being more mature, but that's not the full idea. What is slightly more important is that Korra ultimately learns to love herself. When the story opens, she really just thinks of herself as a loser, and that everything that ever goes right for her is sheer unadulterated luck. What it's about is that she comes to realize that she can make it happen, and doesn't have to rely on chance, but also that she isn't a total loser, and that she is indeed very capable when she puts her mind to something.
  • Did you have at first the idea that Korra would end up with Asami or were you always leaning toward someone else? I am asking this because Korra is obviously head over heels for her and you make it very clear that Asami is fit, athletic, and absolutely stunning.
At first, I had the idea in my head to make her end up with Asami, you know, it being canon and all, but then I actually started writing it. Many chapters were written out of order, and one of the first chapters I wrote was Korra and Opal's first date. Like said in the final author's notes, my original plan was to break up Korra and Opal at some point, and instead have Korra hook up with Asami, but the more of the story I wrote, the less I liked that idea, so I binned it and instead kept Korra and Opal together.
  • When Asami was drunk, why did you make her kiss Korra? Were you looking to change the plot completely or were you just hoping to scare the crap out of us? :p
Well, it was partly to give you a nice little jolt, but it was really to both solidify the relationship between Korra and Opal and to make Mako seem like more of a bastard. Also, what I wanted to do is to show that Korra's feelings for Asami were merely dormant, and not completely shut down. Life isn't black and white, and I wanted to demonstrate that with this development. On top of everything else, it seemed like a good way to add some drama. (Which worked, chapter 25 is the most reviewed chapter on FFN.)
  • Why did you decide to break Asami and Mako up?
I've never made a secret of my opinion on him, and making him cheat on Asami (which he does twice in the show, and never really gets chewed out for, amazingly enough) seemed like a good way to do that. I figured he should get what he deserves, not to mention that I wanted a good reason for Korra to sucker punch his lights out.
  • When you were first writing the story, did you always plan on making it as NSFW as it is?
Pretty much. My main inspiration was making this a Legend of Korra version of Elsa is Suffering, which never moves beyond first base, though it's just as liberal with the course language as Team Player is. A large part of the reason can probably be retraced to origin, most fanon stories originate in the US, which is much more liberal towards violence than sex, whereas I hail from Europe, where the opposite is true. I think that sex is a large part of someone's development, and for someone like Korra, who was never very comfortable with her own body, this is a big step. Sex and sexuality are taboo subjects to talk about in many cultures, especially in the US, and if this gets people to discuss it more openly, then it's mission accomplished for me.
  • Now, you've told me over time about references you make to different things. Could you maybe tell us where you get them from?
Mostly from memory. I've wasted a lot of hours playing Call of Duty 4 (Korra's main killer of free time, no pun intended) and watching Top Gear, and those two cover most of the references. There is also House of Cards, Need for Speed Most Wanted, GTA IV, Lord of Rings, and many others, but basically all of these refer to shows, movies, or games that I simply like a lot and was familiar enough with to reference them from memory.
  • I think Rude Awakening was my favorite chapter of them all. Did you have fun writing that one? Which chapter was your toughest?
Yes, that one was the most fun to write by far. I'm still embarrassingly proud of my What's eating you-joke, and the lemon juice comes from another joke. Neatly brings me to the toughest one, which was Well and Truly. It was the most difficult one to write, so whenever I got stuck, or when an embarrassing joke popped into my mind, I simply wrote that. So yeah, 23 (Rude Awakening) was done long before 22 (Well and Truly), and probably had the most revisions as well. I had only written one smut scene prior, and actually did that just to practise it for the main story. I asked people for feedback, and a user on FFN, Marianamqb, gave me an extremely elaborate and very useful review, for which I remain very grateful. It took me quite a while to write, so when I was stuck on writing that, I tried writing in a few more jokes for the next one. Honorable mention for most fun goes to chapter 16, having Korra talk things over with her mother was very satisfying as well.
  • Has Team Player inspired you to write other stories we may know from the Fanon Portal?
Difficult to say, really. Yes, I have learned a lot from it. For instance, in the initial string of releases on FFN, I wrote chapter 10 through 13 in four days, and looking back, I think the quality of those chapters is notably lower than when I took my time, like I did with later chapters. As to creative inspiration, it sort of made me want to write All Are Equal, because in this one, no one has to worry about money, and I was wondering what would happen if I would create a world where the opposite was true.
  • Why did you choose to make Mako and Bolin such minor characters in your story; especially the latter? Did you feel they just weren't needed in it?
This wasn't really a conscious choice, I think. What doesn't help is that I'm not the biggest supporters of either one in the show, and it just felt more natural to focus on the characters where the problems would come from, mostly Asami, Opal, and Korra's parents. Mako and Bolin are pretty cool with everything, so there's no real drama to be had there.
  • Did you ever expect Team Player to get the success it did?
No, definitely not. More than a year after finishing it, and it's still the story with the most followers I have on FFN, and also has the most views by a country mile. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. Also, and this is slightly embarrassing, I'm still a little proud that this is the only major KorraxOpal story I know of that is actually finished.
  • Do you ever feel that you could have elaborated more on a chapter?
Ah, the old 'could have been'-trap. I try not to dwell on this too much, because in the words of Bryan Konietzko, I don't want to end up George Lucassing the story. But, if I had to pick my least favorite chapters, I'd have to say Confession, Skeletons in the Closet, and Up, Up, and Away. Looking back, there are entire sections that I just think didn't turn out as well as they could have. (Mostly the conversation with Pema, Tarrlok's press conference, and Korra telling Senna about her meeting, respectively.).
  • Any advice you could give people who want to write? How can they find out which writing method suits them best?
Trial and error, mostly. I've tried a few styles before I started Team Player, but, and I just keep coming back to it, when I read Elsa is Suffering, just felt really drawn to the style of being able to constantly reveal the main character's snarky, self-depricating thoughts. The rest sort of followed, because I thought 'what if Korra was as cynical as that version of Elsa?' and basically went from there. It was at a point where Korrasami becoming real was hanging in the air (or rather, in the closet), but wasn't out yet, so making Korra have a rough time coming to grips with her sexuality wasn't a big leap. Overall though, I find it best to cling to the old Dutch saying of 'better stolen well than thought up poorly', so my best advice would be to just read a lot of stories, and see which style suits you best. One thing that Minnichi neatly mentioned in her BSST article, but I think is worth repeating, is the frequency trap. It's a quality over quantity issue, and I rarely come across writers who can pull off both, so I am often more drawn to quality. I'd recommend reading her article of the fanon myths, because that covers it much more elaborately than I can here
  • Thank you for your patience and letting me do this interview. Anything else you would like to add?
No, I think that pretty much covered it all. Thank you for doing the interview, because as it says in the blurb of the FFF, it's always fun to talk about your own work, especially with someone I know likes the story.

...

Well, that's pretty much it! I would like to thank AA7 for his patience; I took much longer than I had planned with this interview. Last of all, if you haven't read this story yet, please do so. I promise you won't regret it! That's it folks; until the next one.




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