Time to Connect Once More
The woman responsible for her father’s death. Not to mention all the other people killed, injured, or displaced from their homes in Republic City. All because controlling the entire Earth Kingdom wasn’t enough for her.
So much damage. So much death. All at her feet. And now some force had taken over the link Asami needed to help Korra, and it had redirected it, bringing Asami face-to-face with her. This was the person she was now supposed to ask for help, or else give up and waste the energy she’d spent on forming this link. That really wasn’t an option. Asami couldn’t risk that she might not have the energy to connect with someone else, or that she wouldn’t simply be brought back to Kuvira again.
As it always did in a crisis, Asami’s analytical mind took over. There had to be a reason she was connected to Kuvira now. What were the words she’d heard “Izin” say to her? She wouldn’t be able to win the coming battle in the state she was in. So she needed this somehow. But for what? Why did she need to face Kuvira? What was this supposed to gain her?
That was all assuming, of course, that this force actually wanted to help her, and this wasn’t a way to try to subvert her plans. If it was… then perhaps there wasn’t much Asami could do about it but try to make the most of it and enlist Kuvira’s help anyway. If it was trying to help her, then it hadn’t given her anything more to go on, so the only logical assumption was that it wanted her to do the obvious thing and ask for Kuvira’s help instead of Lin’s.
So her course of action was obvious, if not pleasant. Asami took a moment to try and relax and clear her mind. She needed to put her personal feelings aside right now, for the sake of Korra, and perhaps more, depending on what the Eternal had planned. She focused on the need for help, even if it was Kuvira she was asking it of, and she let her energy fill her chakras, asking them to do the speaking in her place.
“I’ll keep this simple,” spoke Asami’s light chakra. It was beginning to get a bit difficult to speak through it. She must have started to run low on energy; it was impossible to say how much longer she could keep doing this. “I need your help to save Korra.”
Kuvira’s expression didn’t show any change at these words, and it was a few torturous moments before she finally replied. “And just who are you?” she said at last.
“I’m Asami Sato,” spoke the light chakra. Of course, Kuvira wasn’t going to easily believe that as long as Asami was speaking with Izin’s voice. Asami pulled back, refocusing her enery toward her sound chakra. As she pulled it back, she could already sense how much it had weakened. She really was going to need to find a way to convince Kuvira in as few words as possible. But that wasn’t going to be easy.
“Do I sound like Asami now?” said Asami’s sound chakra as she filled it with energy, speaking with Asami’s own voice. It was even more of a strain energizing this chakra, probably due to the fact that it was still out of alignment.
“Yes,” Kuvira said. Her eyebrows narrowed, almost imperceptibly. “That doesn’t mean I’m convinced. Forgive me if I don’t consider it very likely that Asami Sato is contacting me now, speaking mostly with a male voice, and asking for my help to save the Avatar.”
Asami paused. She had to choose her words carefully. How could she get through to Kuvira? When it mattered, Korra had been able to get through by empathising with her, particularly with her need for stability and security. Was there something there that Asami could use? Maybe… Kuvira probably did have some respect for Korra. And Korra was probably Kuvira’s best bet at getting a sentence any more lenient than a lifetime in prison.
“I love you, Asami.”
Her father’s final words echoed in Asami’s mind. He’d spoken them just before Kuvira’s colossus had crushed him, as casually as if she were swatting a mosquito fly. Asami’s blood began to boil. Kuvira didn’t deserve to get off easy for what she’d done. She deserved to spend the rest of her days in prison. The world was better off without her.
So why wasn’t Asami’s anger abating? Kuvira was already in prison. There was nothing more Asami needed to do to get revenge on her. And yet, Asami still wanted to… what? What did she want to do? There was nothing more she wanted to happen to Kuvira. So what was she angry at?
Her father? No… she’d worked through her anger at him. Seeing how pathetic he’d looked in prison, and seeing that he had changed, Asami had gotten over what he’d done. She’d even gotten past the fact that he’d once tried to kill her. It was in the middle of battle, after all… just like when Kuvira had killed him. No, she wasn’t mad at him. Or at Kuvira.
But she was still mad. So mad, she wanted to scream out in rage. She couldn’t, though. Through all of this, her voice still refused to return to her. Nothing had helped. Making her feelings clear to Korra should have done it, if anything. That was the biggest thing she’d been holding back, and which had started all of this off. But no, it hadn’t brought her voice back to her.
They kept picking up clues about it. Korra said it was Asami’s sound chakra. Varina said that it was out of alignment with the other chakras in her body. Fine. But that didn’t tell Asami what she could do about it. All she’d been able to do was to figure out how to do without it, and to communicate without words. Maybe she was just proving she didn’t need her voice. She could find other ways to connect with others when needed.
And right now, it was needed. She needed to connect with Kuvira. She needed… she needed to let out the anger she was feeling. The frustration. The grief. She’d been holding it back too long. Ever since the battle with Kuvira. She’d given Korra a shoulder of support when she’d exited the spirit portal, but Asami had held in the grief she was feeling. She’d kept it to herself, trying to be strong for others.
It was probably about time she let someone else be strong for her. She needed the help. When this was all over, she needed a shoulder to cry on. But until then, she needed Kuvira to provide the strength she needed to save Korra.
Asami tried to reach out to her light chakra, to get it to speak for her once more. She’d wasted too much time. She needed to say something, anything, to convince Kuvira. “I don’t know how to convince you,” it said. As it spoke, Asami could feel her energy fading with every word. “I just know I need your help to save Korra.”
Kuvira moved in closer as Asami spoke, turning her head to the side as if straining to hear. She remained silent for a few more moments, eventually saying, “I suppose it doesn’t matter who you are. Whether you are Asami Sato or not, it doesn’t make any difference.” Kuvira let out a slow sigh after this.
Asami was close. She could feel it. She just needed to push Kuvira the rest of the way. She just had to connect and figure out what was needed to convince her. Connect… that was it. Kuvira needed a connection. She needed a tether to the rest of humanity. She’d torn herself away from her adopted family and her lover, and then she’d lost the control she’d given up so much for.
Korra had been able to make a connection with Kuvira in the end, though. It was perhaps the only connection she had left. That was what would get Kuvira to help.
Asami focused her energy. Just a few more words. That was all she needed. She focused on her light chakra, viewing the path to it in her mind, and she pushed all the remaining energy she had toward it. Words began to form within it, and she was able to weakly get out, “Korra was there for you…”
Asami wanted to say more, but she was at her limit. Kuvira’s gaze softened just a bit, though. She’d heard it. Maybe it would be enough. Asami analyzed Kuvira’s expression closely, hoping she would relent.
It wasn’t to be. Kuvira shook her head. “It’s because of Korra that I’m here right now,” she said. There was a hint of uncertainty in her words though. Asami wanted to pounce on that uncertainty, pressing it, exposing the truth. She couldn’t though. Her mind had become a void, not a hint of her energy left. She could practically hear wind howling within the emptiness.
Wait. She could actually hear wind howling. She shouldn’t have been able to hear anything from her body right now. She certainly hadn’t before. So that must have been coming from within her own mind.
If Asami had been in contact with her body, she would have smiled right now. Of course: Varina’s gift to her. The power to realign her chakras. The power to restore her voice, once she’d figured out how to.
This had to be it: connection. That was she was missing. She’d cut herself off from others, even from Korra. She wasn’t going to make that mistake again. Her voice would help reform those connections, but it was just a tool. She had to be willing to use it, or even willing to find a way without it.
The howling of the wind picked up. Asami focused on it, guided it, and let it envelop her. An image of herself formed in her mind, with the sound chakra evident on its throat. Asami could see the wind swirling around it, slowly contracting. The image was embraced by the wind, and slowly pulled toward Asami. The chakra on its throat glowed, and for a brief moment, Asami made eye contact with the projection of herself.
And then finally, she was whole again.
The pain in Korra’s stomach was constant now. As bad as it was, its constancy actually made it easier for Korra to handle. She was able to get used to it, to accept it. There was nothing she could do right now to stop it, so fighting it wasn’t going to get her anywhere.
Pushing the pain to the back of her mind and peeling her eyes open, Korra peered at the spirit who shared this space with her. Master Sheng was perfectly immobile in his meditative pose. If he’d been human, she would have expected him to be a great earthbending master. He was immobile, but patient. There was just one thing Korra still didn’t know, though.
“Do you have something planned?” Korra said. “Or are hoping some good opportunity will come up?” Master Sheng was silent and motionless in response. For a moment, Korra wondered if he’d heard her. But then, of course he had, with his sort of powers. He was probably just choosing his words carefully.
“I had a plan,” Master Sheng eventually said. “I already acted upon it. Now I am waiting to see if it bears fruit. Aside from that, I am waiting for another opportunity to present itself. I have been unable to formulate another plan of action so far.”
“Heh, yeah, same,” Korra said. She let out a sigh and leaned back. The pain in her stomach decided to remind her of itself right now, but she promptly pushed it away again. All her attempts at meditation had gotten her nowhere. She wasn’t able to properly meditate while she was in this place, probably due to the nature of it. Her mind had been pushed into the realm of dreams from the spirit world already, so she wasn’t exactly sure where it might go if she did manage to meditate.
As Korra stared at the ceiling of the purple-colored tree hollow, flecks of brown slowly began to appear in it. Piece by piece, purple fell away, revealing the true color of the tree hollow. Korra quickly looked back down at Master Sheng, about to ask him if he saw that as well, but the pain in her stomach suddenly swelled up, past her ability to push it away.
Korra squeezed her eyes shut, trying to steady her breathing. She wasn’t going to succumb. Whatever was happening to her, she would bear it until she could find a way to fight back. She’d defeated Vaatu once before. Even if he were being reborn this minute, she would find a way to defeat him again. It wasn’t over yet.
“Listen,” came Asami Sato’s voice, as the light began to shift. At first, Kuvira thought it was turning red, but it actually turned out to be revealing an image of Asami, currently seated in a meditative pose. Her voice came through clearly now, saying, “Korra may well be the closest thing to a friend you have right now. She fought to defend Republic City, not because she wanted to put you behind bars. If your life were in danger now, she’d help save you without a second thought - she already did so, in fact. Are you willing to do the same for her?”
Kuvira stared at the image of Asami, breathing slowly and heavily right now. If any of her guards were listening in, they probably thought she was going mad from the isolation right now. Perhaps she was, though she didn’t consider it likely. She wasn’t going to let herself focus on that question, though. That was just a distraction provided by her own mind to give her something easier to think about.
She had to face Asami’s request. Asami was telling the truth right now. Korra had indeed risked her own life to save Kuvira. That meant that Korra was honorable, perhaps too much so for her own good. It didn’t mean that Kuvira was forced to go out of her way to save Korra in turn. She hadn’t asked to be saved. But the question wasn’t whether Kuvira was obligated. The question was whether she was willing.
Part of her wanted to say no. It wanted her to resent Korra for defeating her. But then another part of her remembered that that wasn’t at all what Korra had done when she’d lost in her first battle with Kuvira. She’d fought Kuvira again, but it wasn’t personal; she’d proven as much when she saved Kuvira’s life, risking her own in the process. Kuvira couldn’t say that many others would have done the same. Even her adoptive mother, Su Yin, might not have.
That was it then. Looking into the light, Kuvira spoke. “I don’t owe Korra anything,” she said. “But she deserves to be saved. If I’m the only one who can help her, then I’ll do so. What do you need me to do?”
There was a brief moment of silence, and then Asami spoke again. “Thank you. Step toward me, into the light. Then open up your mind and try to connect with me. I need to borrow your bending ability and skill to save Korra, so you’ll have to guide me on using it. I’ll explain what’s going on as soon as I have a chance.”
Kuvira slowly raised her eyebrow. An interesting request, but not one she had any reason to deny. There wasn’t a single spec of dust nor scrap of metal here for her to bend, after all. “Alright,” she said. She stepped forward, into the image of Asami, and she took a seat on the floor, mimicking Asami’s pose.
She could feel something tug on her mind. It felt like part of her was being lifted up and out of her body. After a moment of defensiveness, Kuvira forced herself to drop her guard. This was what was needed.
The world around her began to rapidly shift. Kuvira tried to track it for a moment, but she was soon forced to shut her eyes to avoid becoming disoriented. Closing her eyes didn’t get rid of all of the disorienting visions, but it did get rid of the sight of Kuvira’s prison cell, simplifying matters at least somewhat. The swirl of visions eventually resolved itself into darkness - the insides of her eyelids. Her eyes opened, though Kuvira wasn’t entirely sure that she’d commanded them to do so.
Earth. Kuvira could feel it before her mind was able to fully resolve the vision in front of her. She was back on land now, sitting down in the middle of a path at the base of a hill. It would have been all too easy to take a moment to simply allow herself to enjoy the feeling of being back with her element right now, but there was work that needed to be done.
Kuvira tried to push herself to her feet, but her body didn’t immediately respond. After a moment though, she did rise, though it certainly wasn’t Kuvira commanding her body. You’re sharing my mind now, spoke Asami’s voice within Kuvira’s mind, along with Tenzin and Katara. I’ll let you guide my motions when I need your bending ability. I’ll try to explain all that’s going on while we move. You can practice guiding my motions now if you wish, though we don’t have much time.
It was probably for the best. Kuvira didn’t want to risk fumbling in combat because she was operating in an unfamiliar manner. She tried once more to move her body, raising her right now. This time, it did indeed respond. She shifted her legs, firming her stance and pressing her heels down into the ground. As soon as she did so, a pillar of earth shot up from the ground, hovering just below her outstretched hand.
“Easy enough,” Kuvira said, though it was Asami’s voice that came out of her lips as she spoke. “Very well. Let’s go.”
“Asami!” came a high-pitched voice from off to her side. “Your voice is back!” it said excitedly.
Asami’s head turned to the right, on Asami’s command this time. She seemed to be able to effortlessly regain control of her body, shifting Kuvira into the metaphorical backseat of her mind. “It is,” Asami said, a smile crossing her lips. “I think I finally figured out what I needed. Alright, Light, come here. Let’s get going.”
Kuvira caught sight of a spirit flying into Asami’s arms. As Asami held it, Tenzin’s presence seemed to move out in front of Kuvira. There was a slight air of suspicion in it, as if wondering why Kuvira was here, but no words were spoken.
As Asami used Tenzin’s airbending to generate an orb of wind beneath her, the spirit spoke again. “Asami, I saw some dark clouds, filled with spirit lights, moving toward the Tree of Eternity. I don’t know what it means, but we might be running out of time.”
“I hope not,” Asami said. She took a seat on the ball of air, which immediately propelled her forward, up the path into the cliffs. “But I fear you might be right.”
Asami breathed slowly as she looked up at the Tree of Eternity, following Light’s path up into the air with her gaze. He’d agreed to go scout out if he could see anything in the tree hollow while Asami sought out help from a firebender.
Asami could sense that her own energy reserves had only been replenished slightly since she’d contacted Kuvira, unfortunately. She probably had just enough to make contact with someone. At least she didn’t need to use up energy by having her chakras speak for her anymore, but she probably wasn’t going to be able to maintain the connection for long.
Thankfully, it wasn’t hard at all to think of a firebender she could easily convince to help. All she had to say was “Korra’s in trouble,” and she could get Mako’s help without question, or almost certainly Iroh or Zuko’s help. Getting help wasn’t the issue. The issue was deciding who to ask. Zuko seemed like the obvious choice. He was the most experienced, certainly, but unlike Iroh and Mako, he’d lacked familiarity with Korra’s combat style.
Mako, on the other hand, didn’t have nearly as much experience, but he was a strong natural firebender - perhaps even more so than Zuko, if the stories were true that the former Fire Lord had had to work to overcome his natural limitations. And Mako was intimately familiar with Korra’s combat style.
Finally, Iroh struck a middle ground between the two. More experienced than Mako, but much less familiar with Korra’s combat style. Probably not worth the trade-off there. He didn’t have that much more experience with Korra to make him worth asking instead of Zuko.
Zuko or Mako then. Though now that she thought about it, Asami had gone through a calculation like this in choosing an earthbender to ask for help, only to have some force take the choice away from her, choosing Kuvira instead. For all she knew, the same thing would happen again. Though that might even be for the best. Whatever it was, that force’s interference had led to Asami regaining her voice. Perhaps that was even what it had intended.
Maybe it could help again then, with this decision, if it was indeed on her side. It was worth a try. Failing that, Asami’s gut was telling her to go with Mako. He’d be a bit easier to convince to help after all, as he knew Asami much better than Zuko did.
Nodding to herself, Asami took a seat. Steadying her breathing, she began to reach out with her mind. This time, though, she let her mind speak out. Alright. I know you’re there, even if I don’t know who or what you are, she voiced within her mind. But I think you want to help me. If that’s true, then guide me again, to the firebender I most need the help of.
Once more, Asami heard Izin’s voice within her mind. Of course, Asami, it said. I can help, if you will say that you can help as well once you’ve connected.
Asami wasn’t sure what to make of those words, but she nodded slowly. She reached out with her mind, letting her consciousness drift into the necklace she wore. It took almost all of her energy, but she was able to open a connection to the physical world. As soon as it was formed, she could feel it moving. The tunnel reached out, twisting through the physical world.
When Asami could first make out where she was, she seemed to be in a city of some sort. She didn’t recognize the architecture from first-hand experience, though she was pretty sure she was in the Fire Nation. Was she being brought to Zuko, then? No... it didn’t seem so. Her view was brought down to the street, where there seemed to be some sort of commotion. A woman, about Asami’s age, was running, though whether she was running toward or away from something, Asami couldn’t say.
She stopped though, when Asami found herself positioned right in front of her. “What the…?” the woman said. “Okay, this can’t be a coincidence…”
Asami tried to look around, wondering if she might have missed someone she recognized among the crowd, by chance. She couldn’t move her view, though; it remained fixed on this woman.
“Alright,” Asami said. She’d asked the force in her mind for help, and it had brought her here. Even if she decided not to trust it after all, she didn’t have the energy to open up a connection one more time. If this woman were even a half-decent firebender, she’d have to do. “My name is Asami Sato,” she said. The woman’s eyes widened momentarily. She’d probably heard of Asami before; that wouldn’t be too strange. “This is going to sound strange, but I need your help.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed. “You need my help? Sorry, but you really have bad timing. Unless you can help me find my brother, this is one strange thing I’m going to have to pass up on.”
Help. She needed help too. “I… might be able to help you,” Asami said, recalling the words she’d heard from the force within her mind when it had agreed to guide her. “What happened to him?”
The woman raised an eyebrow. She looked off to the side for a moment, then let out a sigh and slumped her shoulders. “Ugh, I guess I might as well. Chasing clouds isn’t doing any good. So fine, Izin and I were having coffee together, and… well, I think these weird clouds broke into the coffee shop to kidnap him. Or something controlling the clouds did. ...Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but you’re not exactly in a place to complain about that right now, so don’t start.”
“...Izin?” Asami said. She focused on the woman’s face. Her brother, she’d said. It was possible it was someone else with the same name, but there was certainly some family resemblance in her features. And with the strange events she’d just described… “Okay, I don’t know what’s going on,” Asami said. “But you were right before. This can’t be a coincidence.”
“Yeah,” the woman said. “Does that mean you can help then? Any leads on where he might be?”
Asami was about to say no, but she held her tongue. Something was bugging her from the back of her mind. Clouds. Light had mentioned strange clouds approaching the Tree of Eternity earlier. There was too much going on for this to be a coincidence. “Maybe. I think I might know where he is. If you help me, we might be able to find your brother as well. I can’t make any promises, though.”After a moment, the woman let out a sigh. “Alright. I guess I don’t have any better ideas. But there better be a damn good explanation for this.” She cracked a half-grin. For a brief moment, Asami felt like she could see Korra’s grin on this woman’s face. “Anyway, my name’s Ty Zen. What do you need me to do, Asami?”