Hours later, the prison was silent. Curiosity filled her and the former uniter of the Earth Empire stood to peek out the opened cell door. There was no sign of the prison guards or her fellow prisoners. Her brow lowered as confusion settled in. Surely they were not still fighting in the prison yard? Kuvira turned to grab the only thing she owned. It was a sketch book that the Avatar had given her along with some wax pens.
Kuvira stood silently as the judge returned to his seat. Her wrists and ankles were bound and her head hung low in shame as the man started to speak. A comforting hand was placed on her shoulder as a quick reminder to hold her head up. The former dictator gave the Avatar a quick smile before facing the man.
"Kuvira of Zaofu," the balding man started, "You are hereby found for the following accusations: guilty of starting conflict with the United Republic; guilty of a hundred and thirty-six accounts of murders of United Republic citizens, soldiers and sailors; guilty of mass destruction of Republic City and guilty of attempting to wrongly kidnap citizens of Republic City. You are sentenced to be punished with death by hanging."
Her shoulders dropped immediately as the words echoed in her ears. She could see Suyin from the corners of her eyes, grinning like a proud fool.
"You can always appeal." She heard the Avatar speak from behind her, "They have to give you that right."
"I said that I would accept any punishment that was chosen," she let out a deep sigh, "It would only be right."
"Death doesn't give you the chance to prove that you can be better than your mistakes."
Kuvira's face hardened as the guards grabbed her arms, "They were not mistakes, though. They were hard decisions that I made and they backfired."
Korra gave her a defeated look as the former dictator used the Avatar's own words against her.
She continued down to the hall searching for a sign of someone. The silence was beginning to irk her and she quickly gathered some of the metal bars in case someone wanted to take advantage of the situation. When she quickly rounded a corner, she ran into some familiar faces. They had almost attacked each other until she lowered her guard.
"What is going on?" she asked some of her followers that were arrested prior to the Earth Empire attack on Republic City. Kuvira was told that they had tried to kidnap the foolish Prince Wu and a few other things that kept them in jail for eleven years.
The three men and a woman shrugged. One of them spoke up.
"Someone planned a prison riot. It seems like it succeeded. We haven't seen anyone else since we decided to find you."
Another spoke up, "What should we do, Great Uniter? We are free to escape."
Kuvira sighed as she set the iron bar on the floor, "We're doing nothing. Someone from Republic City will be coming and we are bound to honor our punishments. You all have at least another year left on your sentences, right? Don't ruin that now. You all have families to return to and a nation to help move forward."
"What about you?"
"If I left, I would be hunted down," She spoke with a familiar confidence, "This is my home now."
She was pushed forward by one of her escorts. Before her were the gallows and the executioner. The man was already adjusting the noose, readying it for her. She saw that there was quite a gathering of curious onlookers and some that wanted the personal joy of seeing her fall to her death.
She knew in the back of her mind that the Avatar had fought and argued with President Raiko about pardoning her. The Water Tribe woman was not far off from the stage and looked disappointed that her pleading did not work.
Her eyes caught the gaze of the Avatar's. Kuvira tried to give her a reassuring smile. She had already accepted her fate after two years of waiting in a prison since the sentence was given.
They finally reached the point on the stage where the executioner would place the rope around her neck. Naturally, the man was not going to let her leave this life without a few comments of his own. His prison guard friends certainly harassed her.
"How does it feel, Great Uniter, to know that death is close?"
Kuvira did not respond. It would not do her any good to anger the man. Instead, she looked up at the blue sky. It was cloudless and the heat of the sun warmed her heart a bit.
A black hood was placed on her head. She soon felt the heavy rope hang around her neck before she was guided forward. It was tightened just enough for her to finally feel nervous. Questions ran through her head. How much pain would come from this?
It bothered her that she could not see the Avatar's reaction. Out of everyone in the world, she and sometimes even her rich girlfriend had been the only one to visit her and not gloat. They even shared times of drinking tea and games that the guards would allow. Korra was the only one that she would be able to consider a friend. The woman had forgiven her for their unfair fight at Zaofu and the unnecessary attack with a brick in Republic City.
The crowd stood silently. A man was speaking about her crimes, quickly reminding her why she was here in the first place. Then would be the silence between the man's finished speech and the dreaded drop. She felt the air in the hood become suffocating.
Her heart seemed to skip a beat.
"Stop! Don't drop her!"
She could hear the rushing footsteps of a runner and the unfurling of paper. Her green eyes searched for any sign of what was going on but the damned hood blocked out all light.
"President Raiko has pardoned her and reduced her punishment to life in prison."
She was brought back from the hatch and had the hood and rope taken from around her head. Kuvira dropped to her knees with a grateful smile on her face. She met the Avatar's gaze and thanked her for her efforts. When Korra's embrace came, she welcomed it this time. Kuvira made sure to tell the Avatar, again, just how thankful she was. She was indebted to her.
"No," Kuvira started speaking again, "We worked too hard to fix the Earth Kingdom or Earth Nations. I suppose they are called that now. All of you deserve to prosper and live where we poured our blood and sweat into. We will stay and wait until the United Republic gets their orders straight."
They waited for a long week before they spoke of what they were going to do again. There was still no sign of anyone with authority over the prison and even Kuvira's patience was waning. So they searched the prison for any cloth that they could use to make clothes from. Spare gray trousers and boots from the prison guards' lockers were taken. White bed sheets were taken from the guards' beds, washed and made into tunics in an attempt to make themselves look like they were from the desert. Iron bars from the prison were torn apart and formed into metal they could carry with them. After stuffing a few bags with what food they could take, the five of them were ready to leave.
Kuvira then took a step outside the walls of the prison. It was the first time she had been outside of the prison walls in eleven years and the smell of the mountain air was refreshing. Before them was a small valley but beyond that valley was the Earth Nations. They each took their own way home. For the Great Uniter, it was anywhere someone would take her.