Told you to run
Kai and Jenora sat repentantly looking up at the Queen of Omashu who looked down at the figures frowning.
"You know the last time an Air Bender was before the ruler of Omashu in hand cuffs, it was because he destroyed a cart of cabbages with a mail basket." She moved to her feet and slinked over to a table and picked up a large fragment of pottery. "It's good to see you've up graded your targets to fine china, but still keep old traditions alive." She dropped the fragment back on the table. "So what are two Air Benders doing in my city of sin?"
Tenzin was at his wits end when the guard escorted Jenora and Kai into his hotel room at 4 am. The guard shook his head letting the two air benders go. "According to the Queen these two belong to you."
Tenzin nodded. "Ah yes, yes they do."
"Well keep a better eye on them." The guard turned to leave then stopped. "Oh she also wanted me to tell you: Don't search for the departed in her city, you can't bring the dead back."
Tenzin frowned as the guard left. He glanced down to see two very tiered young adults and sighed. "Do I even want to know why you were arrested?"
The two shook their heads.
"I didn't think so. Now go get cleaned up and go to sleep. We have a lot to talk about tomorrow including how much trouble you two are in."
He watched the pair stagger into their respective rooms before he, relieved that they were alive, went to his own bed to get some much needed rest.
Iroh was still shaking his head when the phone rang. Answering it, he heard Queen Sozza's voice on the line.
-Hello? Lu Ten? Is that you?-
"Yes, my Queen." He bowed even though he was on the telephone and she couldn't possibly see the gesture.
-Lu Ten it's just me, no need for formality.-
"Ok, why are you calling?"
-To warn you that people are looking for you and Ming. –
"You're a little late they are already found us, but I'm grateful for the warning."
-Of course General, I take it you'll be leaving my city soon?-
"I don't know. Possibly, they're offering a chance to get our old lives back." Iroh didn't bother to ask how she knew; she had burned their clothes. She had known who they were the moment she had stepped into that cave all those years ago. He sighed. She didn't tell them she knew so they would trust her and believe that somehow she could give them a new life and for half a decade she had.-You should, not many in this city are given the chance to have their old lives back…and I don't think Omashu will stand free for very much longer anyway. It may be prudent to take the offer while you can. -
-The she demon is already within the city's wall. She will only take my rejection of her terms as a valid reason to lay siege to my city. She will see my city burn then let it be independent. -
"I'm sorry my Queen. Is there nothing you can do? What are the spirits telling you?"
-They tell me to save my people, General, I know you have been offered a second chance to have your life back but…I wish to ask for your aid, General Iroh. Your assistance and the avatar's help too. -
Iroh looked over at Sona playing with his father and thought of his friends and all the people he had met in the city. Yes, part of him was still bitter and didn't care if the world burned but the people he had met here? They also had been screwed over by the world too and yet in this city were the most hospitable warm people he had met. He was one of them now, an outsider welcomed into the fold where fellow outsiders became insiders. "I will help in anyway I can," He looked over at Korra. "and I'll ask Korra if she will also help."
-If she doesn't wish to help, I understand. Please meet me at the palace as soon as possible and bring with you those who tracked you down. I need to talk to some of them and organize our next moves. Thank you general, on behalf of my subjects, thank you.-
"I haven't done anything yet my queen."-Yes you did, you just don't know it yet.-
Iroh hung up the phone and looked at Korra who frowned. "What did the Queen have to say?"
"A lot, she asked for my help. She knows Omashu will fall and wants my help to save the people. I agreed to assist her." He looked at Korra. "She asked you for your help too, and she wants to meet with everyone as soon as we can."
Korra nodded and moved to go back to their room. "Well let's get dressed and if possible alert the rest of the group. We shouldn't waste any time, this city needs all the help in can get and time is not a commodity that we have in spades."
Tonraq stood up and looked at his daughter. "What happened to the woman last night who'd let the word burn? Who didn't want to be caged? One request from your Queen and suddenly you're a warrior again?"
Korra paused. "Omashu, is not the world father, it is the home of my daughter and people who I have grown to love. You guys came to take me back home because you wanted me to, Queen Sozza is asking for my help not because she wants it but because she needs it." Her eyes softened. "I owe my life and my daughter's life to her. Why would I turn my back on her when she calls out for help?"
Tenzin sighed as he walked through the castle doors and looked at Jenora and Kai who didn't look too happy to be back here.
"Didn't think you two would be back so soon? Did you?" The guard asked smiling.
Iroh lifted an eyebrow. "Back so soon? What did they do?"
"Arrested for property damage."
"Ah, mail slide?"
"Got it in one, friend." The guard directed them into the thrown room. "The Queen will see you now."
Sozza wore no crown, no jewels, just her usual black gown. She hadn't even bothered to style her now silver hair. She glanced up and smiled seeing the group file in. "I didn't think so many had come just to find two dead people." She sighed and sipped from the glass in her hand. "Such a gesture is…nice. No one ever came for me."
Iroh kneeled. "Queen Sozza.""Oh stand up Iroh, it doesn't do anyone any good for you to kneel." She stood up as Sona jumped from her mother's arms and hugged her. The Queen smiled looking down at the child. "Hello there little one, I see you still have that stuffed dragon I gave you."
Sona nodded. "Yup! He's my favorite!"
Sozza beamed. "I'm glad to hear that." She kneeled down. "Hey do you want to go play with Azulon? I need to talk to your parents about boring grown up stuff."
Sona looked over at Korra. "Can I mommy?"
Korra nodded. "Go, have fun. Just don't set anything on Fire ok?"
Sona nodded. "Ok!"
Sozza stood up. "Azulon will be excited to see you again." She gestured for a place guard. "Please take this little princess to the nursery to play with my son and keep them both out of harm."
The guard nodded and offered his hand to Sona who took it. The room was silent until the two had left the room. Sozza looked over at the group as she walked around them, her movement placing herself between Korra and Iroh, and the rest of the group. Like a real dragon she was putting up an invisible barrier with a clear message. Korra and Iroh were not theirs anymore; they were hers. Whether that was a good or bad thing was unclear.
"So many familiar faces." She said, her voice almost playful. "All these years past and yet I bet I can recall many of your names, like it was yesterday." She tilted her head. "Lin, child whatever happened to your face? And Tenzin it's good to see that you finally earned your tattoos. Bumi…" She raised an eyebrow. "What in the name of Agni are you wearing? And Karrem, ah Karrem are you humbled yet? Have you finally learned how to fail?"
Karrem clenched his jaw. "It's been quite along time Sozza, I must say the years have only made you more like your mother."
Sozza laughed bitterly. "I'm nothing like her, I'm a good person trying to do what's right for my people, she was mad and cruel just like grandfathers. No I'm nothing like her or you. You sat by while your oldest sons raged a bloody war for a crown. If any one is like my mother it would be them."
Karrem crossed his arms. "That's a low blow Sozza even for you."
The Black Dragon stood erect and regal. "It would be if it wasn't true. So tell me how does my cousin fair? I haven't heard anything about her since she abdicated."
"She has locked herself away, finding only comfort in family. Lafey, after her capture, has not left her mother's side."
Sozza pouted. "That's a shame. I always thought she was stronger then that but I guess the loss of a child is that powerful." She looked genuinely sad. "I pity her, but there will be time for her after we deal with more pressing matters." She gestured to window over looking the city. "40,000 residents and who knows how many visitors, all who need to leave this place as soon as possible. It's a logistical nightmare." She turned to Iroh. "Which is why I asked for your help General. Of all the soldiers in these walls you are by far the one of highest rank and utmost skill. You know how to organize and move people as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Iroh nodded. "And that is why you asked for my help specifically?"
"Yes, I would have asked another if there was one more qualified but there is not. I need your skill and training and I need someone who won't take any shit even from me. I need General Irony just as much as I need General Iroh."
Iroh smirked nodded again. "I am at your disposal, my Queen."
Sozza bowed her head. "Thank you, General." She looked over at Korra. "Avatar Korra, I will admit my request for you is far more selfish."
Korra stepped forward. "What is it?"
"I want you to take Azulon as far away from this place as possible. Keep him safe, like you will no doubt do for your own daughter. I know that means separating you from your husband but I made my little prince a promise that he would safe from Kuvira. I will not have him see the inside of one of those horrible camps ever again. You can join us after they are safe."
Korra gave Sozza a kind smile. "Don't worry I'll make sure Asulon and Sona are far away and safe before returning." Korra looked at Tonraq. "Do you think mom will mind if I bring two children for her to watch over?"
Tonraq shook his head. "I think she will be over joyed at the prospect." He looked at Sozza. "I promise as Chief of the Southern Water Tribe your son will be protected."
Sozza bowed. "Thank you. I don't know how I can repay you in future."
"I'm just settling a debt I already owe you."
The Queen nodded. "I understand, now it's best if you two leave now the faster you get out of the city the safer you are."
In less then an hour, Korra, Tonraq, Sona, and Azulon where on a high-speed train to Republic City, Everyone else had elected to stay with Sozza at least until that night to plan out the next move and the evacuation. Inevitably the group that left republic city to bring back the lost avatar and prince returned empty handed with news for President Riko the fallowing day.
"She asks for sanctuary for her people Mr. President." Tenzin explained. "If the city is captured by Kuvira then almost all of them will be sent to camps a place some of them have escaped at least once before. Sir, those survivors would rather die then go back."
The President looked thoughtful for a moment. "Fine I will provide sanctuary for the people of Omashu and look past any prior offences they might have committed but make it clear to her that they are subject to our laws."
Tenzin nodded and handed the President a scroll of paper.
"And what is this?"
"A list of laws that must be suspended or abolished before she will bring her people to this city."
The president balked. "But these are all morality laws. It's pretty much saying everything's ok but incest and prostitution!"
"Queen Sozza will not take her people to a place where they will be jailed because of how they live their lives and who they choose to love."
Riko raised an eyebrow. "Do I even have to repeal the law about cross dressing?"
"Especially the law about cross dressing."
The man sighed. "Fine, but only because I don't want to be seen as a villain, I will temporarily suspend the laws until this conflict is over and these people can return to their home."
Tenzin nodded. "Thank you. You're making the right choice.""I hope so." He paused. "While you were in Omashu were you able to find them?"
Tenzin shook his head. "You can't bring back the dead, Mr. President."