This is an entry for Minnichi's writing competition. The firebender in this case is Aika, a character from my fanon, Aika: Illuminated. The title was a last-minute flop. If there are any errors, please point them out. Hope you guys like it!
Sora always was somebody who made promises she never meant to keep.
Keeping that in mind, Aika promised to slap Death when they met. On second thought, not a good idea.
Rain washed down her umbrella, dripping down on the already watered streets of Republic City. Aika was supposed to be here with her mom. She was supposed to be walking with her mom. “Oh, well,” Her father, King Longwei, would’ve said. Smiling, she thought to herself, He actually did say that.
“Darn benders … no respect … Amon’s right …”
Guard up? Check. Aika masked a groan with a thinly gloved hand. The other dropped the umbrella. She’d heard about the Anti-bending Revolution – one of the main reasons she waited three days before agreeing to take Wen here. Well, maybe the deep-fried chicken dumplings helped make her decision. If she had to fight, she thought, running a hand through her flattening wet curls, rain wouldn’t exactly be her first choice for an “interesting quirk”.
“A bender entering Republic City during the Anti-bending Revolution,” she marveled. “I am so stupid.”
She knew that she was caught before the rough-voiced man turned the corner into her path. He was fairly tall, with a dark uniform and strange green-toned goggles pulled up on the crown of his scalp. The lenses in them reminded Aika of the stained glass in her great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s shrine: the one she and her siblings called Baba Lunic (kids-speak for Grandpa Lunatic). The man’s dropping mustache dripped as his cold blue eyes focused on her.
“Hi.” Aika managed, praying that the fact that flickers of nervous light danced around her feet didn’t suggest her identity as a bender.
The man glanced down at the structure of wire and fabric upside-down in a muddy puddle. “Is that your umbrella?”
“You dropped it.” He said shortly, continuing his walk. Aika recalled last night’s paper. She’d seen the famous mustache before – a photo in the news. It – he – was standing behind some masked madman. He was called Amon’s lieutenant.
Her legs refused to move as his footsteps walked further away. Though rain draped around her like a wet, cold sheet, she desperately wanted to hop into bed, and the back of her head screamed “Run!”, she smirked.
Such a perfect opportunity. Such a perfect, gorgeous opportunity. A berry-topped cake sitting right on a plate in front of her (maybe with the chance of being electrocuted) and she would skip it?
Aika’s smirk grew. Unacceptable. Completely unacceptable.
Whipping around, she shouted at the distant figure, hands cupping her mouth. “Hey, Sparky!”
Lieutenant immediately turned around, bringing out those lightning sticks as if to prove the nickname true. Aika tore off her gloves, jerking her right hand in the direction of a barrel. A weak blast of fire cut through the wood, exploding the container in a cloud of grayish-purple haze. Smoke bombs? She sniffed and gagged. Boiled fish, maybe? The firebender let the questions slide and realized she was doubled over. Immediately she straightened her back and stepped a few feet backwards, tempting the goggles to flash under a streetlight.
“You know, I think I just did a little bending right there,” she taunted, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “Why’re you just standing there with those sticks like an old, useless rock? I thought Amon only picked the best.” Aika wiped a raindrop off her cheek. “Apparently, I was wrong.”
She could see the glint in his eye change, a strip of charged lightning run through the kali stick. As he advanced, swift as a water snake through his stream, she remembered that benders who were captured had their bending somehow “restricted” by that crazy mask dude.
Her stomach felt acrobatic, and she almost dodged right into the Baton of Mortal Terror. It jabbed at her again in her leg, and Aika aimed a kick at his wrist. However, this – what, seventy-year-old? – lieutenant was just about as nimble as she. He swung at her, pushing her out of the street light.
“Whoa, whoa, hold up.” She held up her hands, and for some reason, the attacker stopped. Idiot. “Could I, maybe, get back in the light? Just a – hey!” Lieutenant poked at stomach, and a static-like taste filled er mouth. “Ack.” Aika regurgitated (luckily) air, rather than supper’s fried meatballs. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed an ebony curl sparking and fizzing in electric glory. Squealing and patting down her hair, Aika turned to the lieutenant. He was crouched in a pygmy puma’s prowling position, and she knew he wouldn’t hesitate to fry off the rest of her soaked locks.
Not that he would get a chance to.
She took cautious steps back, the man trailing her suspiciously. Her hands were still up, and as soon as she was under a street light, they dropped fiercely and the street went dark.
It wasn’t “darkbending” or anything. Aika knew there was a whole scientific explanation, but she preferred to shorten it to: if you use lightbending to create a lack of light, there’s, of course, no light; technically darkness.
It didn’t matter now. The electricity appeared white in the dark: sporadic appearances of sparks. Enough light strayed to create quick, fleeting shadows. As if it were a sixth sense, the location of the light was highlighted, and she felt as if it were pressing on her skin, clawing to be let in. The further away, the lighter and fuzzier the sense. Aika zoned in, the lieutenant’s eyes frantically searching, kali stick experimentally swiping and beating air. With a swift swirl of her left arm, the available luminescence from the electricity gathered around her wrist, appearing to spin, falter, brighten, dance, and so on.
“Alive,” the lieutenant whispered wistfully and fearfully. “The light … it’s moving. It’s alive.”
“Yup,” Aika mumbled under her breath, “He’s a crackpot.”
“What are you?” He hissed.
Aika stood casually for a moment, considering that. “Uh, genius kick-butt princess acrobat artist who, surprisingly, is also the world’s only “Bender of Light”. Wanna argue with that?”
Apparently, he did, as the lifeless baton slammed into the back of her right knee.
Aika made a noise like an impaled animal. Taking the fact that lots of nerves, as well as a now out-of-socket kneecap, were located in that area, that hurt. A lot. Lieutenant rose the stick again, ready to strike, but a sudden encasing of his shoulder froze him. Curiously, he looked into the band of solidified light, bright as she sun. He cried out and stumbled back as it evaporated, clutching and wiping his goggles. Immediately, Aika rushed forward, bringing her left knee into his stomach and crushing his jaw under her fist.
The lieutenant stumbled backwards, rubbing his jaw, gut, and goggles nearly all at once. He moaned, faltering on his feet.
She let out a breath the firebender didn’t know she’d been holding. “Are we done here?” she asked, hand set on her hip. It wasn’t a threat, but more of a complaint, as if she couldn’t believe she’d wasted time on this wimp.
“Mmm.” The lieutenant shook his head, attempting to stand up straight. Aika rolled her eyes and kicked him into a barrel. Sure enough, the wood broke and hopefully dead boiled fish tumbled out. One flapped his tail. He groaned again, pulling up his goggles. “We’re done. I think … am I blind?”
“It’s temporary. Put some egg yolk on your eyelids and an hour in you’ll be fine.”
"Thank you,” That coming from a guy who she had just beaten up was kind of weird.
“And you won’t try and track me down?” Aika interrogated, holding him up by his shirt cuff.
“I’ll make it simple,” he wheezed, “What’s your address?”
She punched Sparky’s temple, and he was out.
Casually, Aika brushed her sleeves off and picked up her umbrella. Chin up, chest out, she briskly strode away. “Oh, oh, knee, knee …” Behind her, a lady screamed, the lieutenant stumbled, the fish vendor cried out (“My fish! Oh, woe, woe is me …”), and an angry grandmother, who’d been splashed with boiled fish oil, began beating on Sparky with her trusty umbrella. Aika suppressed a smile and added a hop to her one-footed step. “All in a day’s work for Genius Kick-Butt Princess Acrobat Artist Aika Saidao.”
The vendor helped to keep Lieutenant steady. “Are you okay, sir? I saw that freckled girl give you quite the whollop.”
Lieutenant scowled. “Yes, I suppose she did.” He admitted.
The vendor let go of his shoulders as did a happy bounce of his own feet. “Well, at least it’s all done with, right?”
“Oh, no …”
“Oh, n- excuse me, sir?”
The lieutenant scowled, long mustache dripping rainwater onto his chin. “She’ll be back tomorrow.”