Icon: Part II
"That isn't possible!" Korra shouted at Rohan's conclusion. "It's ridiculous!"
"So it would seem," Rohan answered, his stern expression unchanged. "But the memories show two women with Korra's face killing the original. It would also explain why the police never found any evidence of an intruder when Asami was reported dead and you reported 'losing' your memories. As farfetched as it sounds, this is the only plausible explanation for what we just saw."
"That I'm a clone?!"
"And that these memories are from the original Korra, somewhere in the spirit world. Tell me, when did these memories appear to you?"
Korra kept silent for a good minute, looking on at the scene repeating in the images above her. Finally, she responded, but not to Rohan's question.
"These memories could have been faked. Doctored. They wouldn't make sense."
"Perhaps", Rohan answered, stroking his chin again, "perhaps not. But I do have an idea to test their validity."
"We were never close, Korra and I…"
"You mean, 'you and I'."
"Right," Rohan noted, nodding his head, "but we did share memories of the same events. How about we find a happier memory and see if it's as I remember it?"
Korra nodded her consent as the images changed. It was Air Temple Island, and a makeshift stage was set up by the garden with an Oceanside view behind said stage. On the stage, a man in robes presided over a man and a woman. The blue tattoos that covered his head and his arms clashed slightly with the beard on his face and the man's unkempt hair. Still, Rohan smiled at the sight.
"We are gathered here today, on these…s…se…sacred grounds," Bumi fumbled before offering an apology to the couple in front of him, a well built man in a brown suit and black tie standing in front of a dark skinned woman in the traditional yellow and orange formal robes of an Air Bender.
"Sorry, I can't exactly say I've done too many weddings before. Let me try it again."
The couple thankfully paid Bumi's fumbles no mind, beaming all the while.
"We are gathered here today on these sacred grounds to join Opal Bei Fong and Bolin in the sacred bond of matrimony. That's marriage for the rest of you. If anyone should think of a reason that these two should not be wed, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."
The images showed a very large group of people, seated in two sections. On one side, members of Opal's family sat with friends and the like, on the other, members of the Air Nation, friends of Bolin, his brother, and of course, Asami Sato, sitting next to Korra. Predictably, no one had any reason to not wed the pair, who quickly said, "I do", to the traditional questions of marriage when asked.
"Then by the power invested in me as a Master Air Bender and the legal recognition of the United Republic, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Clapping filled the air as Opal and Bolin kissed, the pair walking down the aisle. The popping of sound devices was heard and the group moved inside a temple hall for the reception. No one noticed Asami slightly recoiling at the sound of 'legal recognition of the United Republic," except Korra, who offered a hand to comfort her.
The reception itself was equally lavish, although to just about everyone that wasn't an Air Bender's annoyance, the buffet table was entirely vegetarian. Opal had apparently been quite insistent on it, reasoning that if they were doing an Air Bender wedding on Air Temple Island, then that meant honoring all the traditions of the Air Nomads, even the ones Bolin didn't agree with.
Korra, Asami, and Mako had also promised to take the newlywed Bolin to Won Fire Grill as soon as they were done so he could have a hamburger. A nice, juicy half-pound slab of meat, with all the toppings would more than make up for the rest of the day, and it would probably be the last time the trio saw Bolin before Opal and he went on their honeymoon to Su Oku for the next two weeks. Of course, the trio, while not nearly as eager for meat as Bolin was, would probably help themselves to a burger as well, which is why they agreed to take him in the first place.
The reception itself was lively and full of dancing and music. Tahno, who by this point had become a fairly popular musician, was conducting the band, his upbeat style of play echoing through the chamber halls. Rohan and Meelo were busy looking for sweets and trying to avoid being overly bored, Jinora and Kai shared some small talk with the newlyweds before going to hang out with their friends. And of course, Asami and Korra were the first ones on the dance floor, something that they made it a point to do at every gathering they were at.
The reception ran for several hours, until the guests were tired out. Korra and Asami quickly ushered Bolin away as promised once all the guests took their leave. The sole lament for Korra and Asami about the day was that it was the type of wedding that they would never have for themselves.
"Exactly as I remember it. No one is out of place. Even the hamburger story was true." Rohan appeared quite satisfied with what he had viewed, convinced that it supported his theory about the source of the memories and the origin of the woman in front of him. Korra however, had a different opinion.
"Big deal!" Korra shouted. "It was a public event involving a famous actor getting married! There were bound to be paparazzi and other guests who could document it!"
"You have a point," Rohan answered as the images shifted around yet again. "Then let's go to one scene that I am sure they couldn't have known about."
Korra's expression looked cross. "What would that be?"
"Tell me," Rohan began, "what did you tell me after my father died?"
Korra looked on for a moment, and then answered, "We didn't speak."
Rather than answering, Rohan focused on the image. It was Korra holding the fist of a teenage Rohan, who looked like he was about to cry. Both Rohan and the Korra from the memory said the same thing.
"I can never repay what your father did. No one can."
The Korra next to Rohan dropped to her knees, a look of shock on her face. Rohan turned to her, his stern expression replaced by one of sorrow.
"I don't know how they did it," Rohan began. "But the facts are indisputable. You aren't the real Korra. You're some kind of clone or duplicate. These…memories are from the Spirit World because they came from the real Korra. When did they begin?"
Korra said nothing, but vanished, awakening in her physical body. Rohan did the same as she began walking out.
"Tell me! When did these memories begin?"
"I…I'm leaving," was all Korra could stammer out, before clutching her cap. However, Rohan called behind.
"Please, Korra! Let me help you! If you aren't the original, at least let us find out what you are together!"
His pleas fell on deaf ears as Korra boarded the ferry, which headed back towards Republic City. He sighed, but then realized there was only one way she could have gotten those memories.
A clone? That was ridiculous! Those things didn't exist outside of bad movers!
And yet, as Korra sat back in her apartment, the idea that she wasn't the real Korra gnawed at her. It was to be frank, a ridiculous notion. All her life, she was an impostor? It made no sense. There was no way to confirm it.
But then, where did the memories come from? There had to be a reason.
Her guards didn't realize she had slipped away. They had presumed that she was merely lying in bed recovering from her injuries. That didn't stop the calls to her cell phone however. There were twenty messages, all from her inner circle. Han in particular, was very adamant about showing her whatever war-ending weapon he had apparently been having designed for months.
She didn't answer. Korra instead looked out into Republic City, the night sky lit up by countless lights from buildings, vehicles and ads. She looked at the world she was supposed to reshape.
For the first time in decades, she felt doubt. The doubt continued even as she went to sleep.
Number 5 is ready.
Good. Begin the memory transfer sequence. Ensure the brain is working normally.
She awoke, unsure of where she was. Only that she was surrounded by glass and metal, almost as if she were in a tube. Why was she here? How did she get here? And was she wearing clothes? She couldn't exactly move her head. She tried to speak, but no sound came out, as if her body didn't know how to form the words.
Oh no, Number 5 woke up premature.
No big deal. Put in the gas and then start transfer.
Gas flooded the chamber that she was in, and soon everything went white.
Honored Avatar, you're awake!
Korra awoke in a bed, having no idea how she got there. She was wearing what appeared to be a hospital gown with a T-shirt and undergarments, looking to her right. A young man with black hair and no facial hair was looking on at her, bowing profusely. He wore the robes of a White Lotus acolyte, meaning that whatever he was here for, it was important.
"Forgive me for being here, but everyone was so worried about when you collapsed."
"Co-llapsed?" Korra asked, her confusion evident.
"Well, yes," the man began. "You collapsed in your apartment. The person you were with died."
Korra looked at the man for a brief moment before coming to a conclusion.
"I…don't remember any of that."
"Well, let me explain. It would do you some good to stretch, right?"
The man, despite his overly formal demeanor, seemed pleasant enough. Korra offered him a smile and stood up from her bed, but not before asking "Do you have anything for me to wear?"
"Of course I…uh…we do!"
She was unfamiliar with the compound, although according to the man, named Han, it was somewhere in the United Republic, but far away from Republic City proper. It was a very nice building though, an older wooden structure that surrounded a garden in the center of the property. Han stood with her the whole way, trying to smile, but fumbling through his words as if he were embarrassed.
"You lost your memory?"
"Yes," Korra responded. "I remember a lot but it feels like I remember events, names, and dates, not people. I don't even remember what that woman I were doing in the room together."
"Well, according to all public records, you were living together. You two were close friends, and at one point…lovers."
"That sounds silly," Korra responded, only to see Han's face nervously looking towards her.
"You're being serious."
"Yes I am Honored Avatar," Han answered. "But it was announced…you broke off the relationship years ago."
"So why did I live with her? And why can't I remember her?"
"I don't know," Han answered defensively. "But I do know that we need to get you back up to speed. A lot is happening, and the world needs an Avatar."
"Then I need to get to work," Korra declared confidently.
Korra awoke again, thinking of the dream that she just viewed. The memories lost to her never returned, and as time passed, she was told increasingly that they were less important. What she didn't understand were the images of her in a tube. Could Rohan's ludicrous theory have been correct?
Looking at her hand, she tried to air bend again. Nothing. Then she tried to fire bend. Again, nothing. She shuddered. It would make perfect sense for someone who wasn't the Avatar to only be able to bend one element after all. Which would mean…no, that wasn't possible. None of this was possible.
Her cell phone rang again, and she picked it up. It was Han, of course.
Korra, I've been calling you all day. What happened?
"I've been recovering," Korra answered. "What is it?"
The item I wanted to show you is ready. Please come down to the Avatar Affairs building immediately.
Korra didn't answer at first, but after a few cries of "Hello?" responded that she would be there as soon as possible. Nevertheless, she got changed and after informing her bodyguards of where she needed to head, was driven over.
The trip in the back of the sport utility vehicle that was used as her personal transport in Republic City was annoying but bearable. Korra was once again in her little shell, in what was an incredible luxurious vehicle. But the leather seats and television in the backseat didn't distract her from the memories that troubled her so. She couldn't even pay attention to the broadcast, too lost in her own thoughts. But as she saw the people down the street, she realized why everything had bothered her so.
The Realignment was to bring the world together with force. Korra would never want that. She had no desire to rule the world.
"Han, I trust what you have to show me is important."
"Of course it is, Korra." Moving to the front of the conference room, Han stood by a large monitor designed for teleconferencing or for agents to report in from the field. She could only wonder what he had planned.
"Korra," Han began, "the Avatar Army is ready to march against the Earth Republic and any other army that would oppose the Realignment. But to do this, we need the Avatar herself to lead that army into battle. Hence, I present to you your personal battle mecha, the Icon."
The monitor activated and revealed a purple mecha, absolutely monstrous in comparison to the two Skull Knights at its feet. Its face was that of a demon mask, a plain white except for two wide eyes. She gasped at the sight.
"It's the size of the Colossus!" Korra screamed, stunned. Her memories may have been fractured, but she remembered Kuvira's super weapon clear as day. How could anyone forget that monstrosity?
"Exactly!" Han beamed. "This weapon will allow you to lead an army into battle and command firepower above that of any standard mecha tank! This is far more than a mere gun platform the way the Colossus was!"
"How so?" Korra asked. "The Colossus seems extremely out of date in an age of missiles and advanced mecha tanks." Han laughed at the question.
"The original Colossus was little more than a symbol of terror. In actuality, it was expensive to make, only had one weapon, and was a logistical nightmare to operate. The Icon is designed to project the Avatar's power into battle, enhanced a thousand fold! Observe!"
The screen began switching to various demonstrations of the machine as Han narrated. "First off, its joints are controlled via advanced computer guidance systems while its outer armor is protected by anti-metal bending chemicals, preventing metal benders from sabotaging it. Secondly, it has weapons systems designed to be extension of bending abilities, enhanced a thousand fold. Turbine engines to produce air currents that can blow away any tank, reservoirs of water that can be released via powerful hoses and then manipulated, a sonic weapon that will crack the earth and let your Earth bending move city blocks at a time. And two flamethrowers that will let you incinerate any foe that steps before you! Any one who gets up close will need to deal with anti-personnel repeater cannons attached to the head, a distinct weakness of the Colossus. But should all those fail, and this is my favorite, the chest opens to reveal two Smasher Cannons capable of annihilating any army in front of you!"
Korra stared intently, before asking, "Why purple?"
"Simple," Han replied. "It is a color that is not associated with any of the nations, neither green nor red nor white nor blue. It is unique to us, unique to the Avatar Army and soon, the Avatar Nation, the one nation that will rule this world, its strong hand permanently keeping the world in balance. And once you have led our armies to victory, you shall rule the world as the Avatar, keeper of the balance. And with your permission," Han continued, shutting off the monitor, "I would like to rule by your side."
"What are you saying?" Korra asked, standing up as Han kneeled before her, smiling.
"Korra, Honored Avatar, I have been by your side for the past twenty years, ever since my days as a mere acolyte within White Lotus. I…I have fallen in love with you ever since that time, and I would like to give you the happiness you deserve as the guiding light of the world. I want to give you the family you never had, the one Asami Sato could never give you. And I would like nothing more than to be by your side always, until our final days."
Asami Sato, was all Korra could think in her mind as Han reached into his uniform and produced a box. Inside of the box was a ring with an absolutely massive diamond adorning it.
"Korra, will you marry me?"
Han was by her side for so long, Korra reasoned, surely he would understand what she was about to say.
"Han," she began, "I cannot lead an army to war. I want to see the world united, but what you suggest would make me a tyrant. And I can't do that. And as for your other proposal…"
She closed the box, and sighed heavily, looking on at the dejected Han, who rose to his feet, adjusting his cape.
"Before I lost my memories, I was living with Asami Sato. We could never be married because of the backlash against same sex marriages. But we were always together. And my heart will always belong to her. So no Han, I will not marry you. What I will do is take a few weeks vacation, and hopefully we will figure out how to unite the world without leading an army to war. I hope you can understand. You are a great friend, but I don't love you. I can't love you."
These were the thoughts of the real Korra. Any doubt that she wasn't Korra was erased as she looked on at Han. She offered him a smile and an outstretched hand, waiting for a response.
"Can we still be friends?"
A sharp pain went across her throat, soon followed by it becoming incredibly difficult to breathe. Korra fell to the ground, covering her neck as the blood drained from her body. She looked up at Han, trying to raise her arm up to the man. His face was furious.
"AFTER EVERYTHING I SACRIFICED FOR YOU, YOU REJECT ME FOR SOME PHANTOM MEMORY OF A…A LESBIAN?!" Han's face with contorted with fury and sadness, looking on at Korra even as she lay dying. "Well, here's something to take with you to your grave. You're not the real Korra. You're a clone. That's right, a copy of the original Korra, who we had killed! But I did love you. And you broke my heart. I won't let the next clone do that to me. Trust me, I'm going to make sure that the next clone doesn't even remember Asami Sato's name!"
Her hand fell to the ground as the last of her strength left her body. But she did so with a slight smile. Even if just for two days, she was the real Korra.
The real Korra would have died for her beliefs rather than living a lie.
Hon…Korra, are you awake?
Korra woke up from her bed, the sheets covering her body to the head as she looked to her right. Her faithful friend, the Inquisitor stood by her side, smiling at her.
"You're awake! Thank goodness. I was worried the damage to you was more severe than I thought. But it seems to have had quite the interesting effect."
"Effect?" Korra asked, only for Han to produce a mirror. Korra gasped when she looked at it.
She looked younger. Younger than she had in decades. In fact, she didn't look at a day over 25 despite being chronologically over a hundred years old.
"Han, w…what happened?" Korra asked. "The last thing I remember was you showing me the Icon…and you..."
Han smiled, getting on his knees in front of the bed as Korra stood up from it, the nightgown she wore covering her body from head to toe. He produced a box, and inside of it was a ring with an absolutely massive diamond.
"Your work has kept you from ever raising a family, but now, as the guiding light of the world, you deserve to be happy. And I would like to share that happiness with you. Korra, will you marry me?"
She looked down at the proposing Inquisitor, her hand in front of her mouth in sheer surprise. That surprised however, turned to a smile as she looked on at the ring.
"Han, of course I will! I…I love you! I've always loved you! I was just waiting for you to actually ask!"
Han smiled, slipping the ring on Korra's finger and standing up, his expression practically beaming with joy. "I love you too Korra. And together, we will make the world a better place, starting with annihilating the Earth Republic military."
"Yes," Korra answered, just before wrapping her arms around Han and kissing the mustachioed Inquisitor. "Yes we will. We will bring balance to the world. Permanent balance."