Fragile Tiny Shells
"So how prepared would you say your men are?" Korra asked walking through the dimly lit halls of the Northern Fort accompanied by a United Forces Captain. They had gotten Intel earlier that week that Kuvira's army was on the move and Korra had gone to visit the forward most fort to examine it's defenses, while the rest stayed behind to plan and deal with the city. After another round of disappointing talks what little hope they had of avoiding a battle lay in tatters like the last peace treaty.
"Well General Korra, I believe we are prepared enough to take on her ground forces but that cannon you mentioned worries me."
Korra nodded. "It worries me too."
From out side they could hear a crashing noise then the alarm rang out. Korra looked over at the captain. "Look's like Kuvira's not waiting around anymore."
The man nodded and saluted. "It was a honor serving with you General."
Korra saluted back. "And mine too, I'm sorry."
He put his arm down. "Aren't we all."
The earth suddenly lurched to one side and there was a bright light and a defining boom and then darkness, quite, unmoving, darkness.
Lady Stasia walked through the rubble of the demolished fort next to Kuvira while Bataar walked a little further back, the sun's first rays just peaking over the hills. She nudged one of the rocks with her foot.
"It was quite bold of you to launch an attack on one of the United Forces Forts against our agreement."
Kuvira stiffened. "They were stalling for time, I needed to show them that I was serious. Besides, I didn't attack the city just an outlying fort. Really was anything of value lost?"
Stasia nodded. "Possibly not." She paused looking at a pile of rubble. "Or possibly so. Could you be a dear and move that pile of debris? I believe there's some thing I want under it."
Kuvira nodded and bent the rocks away to revile a woman dressed in a black uniform. She was, bleeding her body mangled, but still breathing, her eyes focused on the two woman as she tiered to move but her broken body just wouldn't respond.
Stasia clicked her tongue as kneeled down next to the lone survivor. The Fire Queen brushed some of the hair out of woman's face. "Poor dear, it would have be better if you had died as quickly like the rest of the people here but as the avatar I guess you're a little harder to kill. It's a shame."
Kuvira looked over Stasia's shoulder. "Avatar? That's Avatar Korra? She's been alive for these five years?!"
Stasia didn't even acknowledge Kuvira and leaned closers looking into Korra's eyes. "Oh my, you are an old soul." She tilted her head. "Wait, I've seen you before in another life. It's been along time little princess, along time. How have you been? You know out side of the current situation?"
Korra managed to spit at her.
Stasia drew back. "Oh? That good huh? Well it's sad that this shell isn't going to last for longer then a few more minutes but" She pulled a diamond from her pocket, "I'm going to keep you. Think of this as making everything even."
With her nail she scratched a symbol on to Korra's cheek and pulled a ghostly vapor from the mark in to the stone, which glowed for a moment then turned blue. The avatar's eyes went hallow and she went completely limp. Stasia smiled and tapped on the stone.
"There! Safe and sound and not going to die on me any time soon and starting the cycle all over again. " She stood up admiring the gem. "Oh, wait there seems to be something else in there with you. Can't have that." With her hand she made a motion and pulled out a white spirit. Stasia frowned. "Oh it's you. Go away." She waved off the spirit in a dismissive manor.
Raava floated in the air. "Put me back! I must be connected to the avatar!"
Stasia looked down at Korra's body. "Well there's the avatar. Have fun."
"That's not what I mean you-"Stasia turned back to Raava. "Look, in many times and places you might be unbreakably linked but," She held up the stone, "this isn't one of them. Now go! Infect some other poor soul with your power and responsibility. There's got to be some earth bending child being conceived around here." She looked around. "Well not in the immediate vicinity but you know somewhere."
Raava flew right up into Stasia's face. "What do you plan to do with Korra!?"
Stasia pushed the spirit away. "That's for me to know and you to maybe find out but if it would make you feel better I won't abuse little Mi'tem here, she's far too old and valuable to do that to. Now fly off little kite. Be free like the hot air you're filled with." The white spirit floated away to the south.
Stasia turned away and looked at Kuvira who was backing away.
"W-what are you?" Kuvira asked panic filling her eyes.
Stasia smiled and tucked the gem in her pocket. "I am what I am, now" she looked up at the giant mech and the army around it "with this army why would you need a navy?" She pouted and tilted her head. "I mean your only goal is the earth nation right?" Stasia's dark eyes glittered. "Or is it? You went against our deal about attacking Republic City. How can I trust you to keep any other deal?"
Kuvira backed away further. "Oh you can trust me. All I want to do is make the Earth Nation whole and strong again!"
Stasia frowned. "That's what a man called Adolf said about his country and look what happened. Oh, sorry wrong universe, never mind. The point is I can't trust you anymore." She pulled out two gems, and for a moment her eyes glowed black. The too stones turned two different colors and Kuvira and Bataar colasped. "Well now you can't do any harm in there." She looked at the gem that turned a darker green. "And I will enjoy wearing your soul at parties it's not all that useful in any other aspect. Aw, I'll make sure you're always right next to your fiancé too, hope you like each other because in this case death is not where you two part."
She looked over her aid. "Kill some of the shoulder and let the rest leave and go home but leave these two bodies. I want those in Republic City to know exactly what they're dealing with." She started to walk away. "And make sure that cannon is on a ship to the fire nation can't have something like that just lying about."
"Would you wipe that goofy grin off your face, Bolin?" Mako asked shivering in the cold as the Air bison flew to the northern fort.
Mako wrapped his coat closer around his body. "Korra should have checked in by now, some thing's not right." He looked over at Iroh who was wrapped up in his own thoughts. "Don't you agree General?"
Iroh looked up. "Yes, yes there's definitely something…wrong" His face paled seeing the rising smoke. "Take this thing down! We're here!"
Opal urged her bison down through the clouds and gasped seeing the scene on the ground. Bodies scattered on the ground and a colossal mech suit lying abandoned with part of one arm missing and a pile of rubble where a fort once proudly stood. When they landed Iroh jumped down and headed to what was left of the fort. Mako went with him while the other's looked at the Earth Empire soldiers. Tenzin checked one of the men's pulses.
"He's alive but I don't know how long he'll last." The air bender stood up. "Let me see if I can radio back for them to send a medical train to help the survivors, what few are left."
Mako shivered seeing the remains of one united forces soldier. "Ever seen anything like this?"
Iroh looked around. "Yes, let's keep moving Korra's got to be around here somewhere unless she was captured."Mako nodded. "Any idea why they'd leave their dead behind?"Iroh shook his head. "No."
Mako spotted Kuvira first and ran over to her. He looked over at Iroh. "She's still breathing think she'll tell us what happened? Iroh?" He looked over at the man who stood frozen in his tracks.
Iroh didn't say anything, he didn't even hear what Mako has said, his focus squarely on what was in front of him. He bent down and pulled Korra's limp body to him. She was cold and missing and arm and a leg. Gently he closed her eyes. Iroh shook unable to vocalize his pain he brushed her hair out of her face and stopped seeing the mark on her cheek. A mark he remembered from life times ago. Suddenly his pain turned to anger.
"You couldn't let her rest in peace could you, you witch?" He whispered under his breath, standing up still holding Korra close. "You couldn't let her rest."
Mako's eyes widened. "Is that? Is that Korra?"
Iroh nodded, as the tears started to run down his cheeks. "Yes, it is."
They found a place to bury her under a cherry tree that was in full bloom. It would stay unmarked like so many other avatar graves. While everyone tended to other things they left Iroh to be alone. Unable to retain what composure he had left Iroh feel to his knees. There was so much he wanted to say to her, so much but he didn't know how to. He thought of the song his father had sung to him wile he slept under that tree in Ba Sing Sa. He gulped and very quietly sang it to her.
"Leaves from the Vine,
Falling so slow,
Like fragile tiny shells drifting in the foam
Little soldier girl, come marching home
Brave soldier girl comes marching home"