Prologue 1 - The Search
She ran until her knees felt as though they may buckle. She ran until her lungs screamed for more air, begging her to stop or to slow down.
I’ve got to get to her...
Just moments ago, she’d seen her father sacrifice himself, killed right in front of her, swatted away by that bitch as though he were nothing. She cast the thought to the back of her mind… she didn’t have time to grieve, she had to get to Korra. She could be hurt. Worse, she could be… no. Asami wouldn’t humour that thought. Korra wouldn’t lose to the likes of Kuvira, and Asami couldn’t lose anyone else today… surely that would be too cruel a fate.
She ignored the tiredness in her limbs, and she ran. She ran past derelict buildings. She jumped over thick spirit vines that threatened to block her path. Almost there… almost... She hadn’t given any thought to how she’d help Korra once she got there. But she’d do anything within her power, and hopefully it would be enough.
A sudden bright light erupted right in front of her, momentarily stunning her. It almost froze in her tracks, or would have, had her instincts not kicked in and forced her to sprint down an alleyway for cover. It was a giant explosion of luminescent, purple spirit energy. Massive, deadly, and worse, it had come from the direction where that she knew Korra would be... from the direction she’d been running toward this whole time.
Asami felt her chest tighten, and for a moment she felt frozen in place, crouched to the ground, her eyes wide and her breaths ragged. No… she couldn’t just assume the worse. She had to know. She pushed herself to her feet, and ignored the aches in her over-tired legs as she pressed on, and ran toward the direction of the blast.
A crater loomed ahead, and right in its centre she saw a bright yellow sphere on a raised mound, with what looked to be a spiral of two chains sprouting vertically from within... is that a double helix? No, not quite… Asami’s scientific mind almost kicked in, but then she got to the edge of the top of the crater and the truth hit her, and it was so harsh a truth that it knocked the wind from her.
There’s nothing here.
The explosion had vaporised everything in its vicinity, organic or not, and left behind nothing except for a deep bowl filled with vines, mud and rock.
“No…” Asami choked on the word.
She fell to her knees, crushed by the revelation that Korra was no more. Her fingers splayed into the dirt in front of her, and she saw droplets of water patter down, her tears, turning dry dirt into tiny blobs of mud. And yet, somewhere within the toiling darkness in her mind, a small, persistent glimmer of hope buzzed around, like an annoying bug that one never quite managed to swat away. She heard Tenzin call out for Korra, and then she looked down and saw that everyone was looking for her. She wanted to shout out, ask them if they were insane, or even slap Tenzin for being so ridiculous, so fucking absurd. How would anyone survive this? Look at it!
She’d made her way to the bottom of the crater regardless, and found herself joining their futile hunt. She said nothing, and instead held her teeth tightly clenched, unable to trust that she could even form words with the turmoil inside threatening to rip her apart. She stumbled not once, but twice, her legs wobbling as if affected by her own uncertainty.
They searched, for what seemed like an eternity. Korra wasn’t in the wreckage of that damned metal giant. She wasn’t anywhere at the edge of the crater. Then again how could she be? There’d be no evidence of a corpse, we won’t even be able to bury her. Asami held her palms to her face at the last thought, willing herself to hold back the emotional breakdown threatening to come.
“Look! The spirits have returned!” she heard Tenzin exclaim.
She stood to her feet and wandered almost aimlessly toward him, momentarily distracted by the spectacle. It was a wonderful sight to behold, but she felt no joy at the sight of them. Instead, she felt an emptiness right in the middle of her chest, cold and stark. She wanted to scream, run, or pass out, or to simply stop existing, for everything to just stop. But then she felt something else… that insistent bug of hope she’d sensed earlier suddenly erupted like a firework at the back of her mind, and she instinctively twisted around to look back at the portal.
Korra stepped forth, holding up Kuvira. Any anger that Asami might feel for that woman was washed away by the overwhelming relief which flooded across her entire being. Korra looked bruised, and tired, but very much alive. She seemed to be looking for something, and then her soft, blue eyes found Asami’s, and she smiled.
It was all Asami could do to keep herself standing. She’s alive. She’s looking right at me, and she’s alive. Despite the horrors of the day, at this precise moment Asami found her chest brimming with nothing but delight, and tears of happiness formed at her eyes. She watched as Kuvira turned herself in, then rushed forward, unable to contain herself, and wrapped Korra in as fierce a hug as she could manage. She held her so tightly that she could feel her chest move in time with her breathing.
“Hey, ‘Sami,” Korra pulled back and grinned at her, and Asami begrudgingly let her go, fully aware that people were staring, or in Jinora’s and Milo’s case, looking at her as if they knew exactly what was going on.
She hadn’t confessed her feelings to Korra, or anyone, for that matter. But after today, she felt for sure that she would. Life’s too short.
They headed back to the air temple at Tenzin’s suggestion, and as they walked, she felt a small shudder of delight as Korra casually wrapped her arm around her waist. Asami sighed into her embrace and rested her head on her shoulder, shutting out the painful memories of the day, for now, and simply enjoying the warmth of her body as they travelled onward.