Expecting a Miracle
Attention Star Flower, this is Shuttle 02. Grand Lotus is aboard.
Roger Shuttle 02, you are cleared for landing.
Flanked by mecha tanks, specially modified to fly in the vacuum of space, the white and grey spacecraft docked with the space station. From a center structure, divided into three sections, were six equally divided panels that served as the 'buds' of the flower, responsible for collecting solar energy, regulating the balance and gravity of the station, and if need be, deploying weapons.
The shuttle itself landed in a bay in the middle section of the station's 'stem'. From it emerged masked guards in black and grey uniforms, flanking a man in a blue and white military uniform, still wearing his cape and the symbol of Raava on it proudly.
"Welcome Grand Lotus Han."
"Where is the central station? I have an announcement to make."
"This way Grand Lotus."
The soldiers eventually led Han to a circular room full of terminals, people furiously working away on computers, monitoring every aspect of the station. On a raised platform in the center of the room was a leather chair, allowing the commander to view not only the entire room, but also the monitors that surrounded every wall. Smiling, he went to the chair, noticing the plethora of switches and buttons by it. Immediately, he pressed one.
"Attention all crew. You are the chosen few. My most loyal troops, those who believe even in the Realignment after Korra was defeated. The rank and file has abandoned us, but now we get to show them the error of their ways in the most humiliating way possible. The gentle palm of our initial plan was rejected by the world. So now we must prepare the iron fist. I have prepared this plan in the hopes it would not be necessary, but now, now we must act, and we must be decisive. The future of the world is at stake, as is your continued survival. That is all."
Satisfied with the speech he made to his crew, Han pressed a second button, looking out at the people by the monitor's.
"We have overridden all network television and radio feeds, Grand Lotus."
"Then let us begin."
The face of Han appeared everywhere, in the televisions in Convergent Square, the radios in cars, and in feeds everywhere from Capital City to the Water Tribes. People stopped what they were doing after noticing the mustachioed man in the military outfit, some recognizing him as Korra's chief advisor, others utterly confused as to what the man wanted.
Ladies and Gentlemen: My name is Han, Grand Lotus of White Lotus and the former chief advisor to the late Avatar Korra. You have all abandoned the Avatar after she had shown a path to everlasting peace. We had tried to use a gentle hand to end civil war, end strife, and unite all peoples. What did you do? You spat in my face, claimed you preferred the 'real Avatar', and now my fiancé Korra is dead. Now I must act to rectify this.
Aboard the Star Flower, a space station built by Avatar Korra, is a spirit vine cannon that can target any location in the entire world.
Most of my men have abandoned White Lotus, most of the nations believe me to be a fraud. This was for your own good! And if the nations will not be guided by my gentle palm, they will be guided by my iron fist! And to demonstrate what will happen to any nation that resists me, I will show my power against the constant scourge on this planet, the Air Nomads! Namely, Air Temple Island! The Air Nomads are scum and must be wiped from the face of the earth, so that all cultures and their progressions may thrive! With that thought in mind, the first target of my demonstration will be the center of this regressive culture, Air Temple Island in Republic City!
The camera feed for the video then cut to the outside of the station, someone clearly filming it for posterity. It showed the beam of purple light fire from the space station towards the planet. Those in Republic City didn't need to view the feed though, as they saw the bright purple light fall from the heavens, its power bombarding Air Temple Island.
I know what you're thinking. Why can't we just attack the bad man and his space station? First, I'm not the bad guy here. I'm trying to help the world, and you spat in my eye. Secondly, any attack on this space station would be a useless gesture. My cannon will swat any missile approaching this station like a mere insect. And if you did manage to hit it, the spirit vine reactor and cannon will fall from the sky, right on top of whatever nation fired the missile, the cannon firing all the while. The end result will be ground wiped as smooth as glass where this space station crashes, a testament to your failures. And likely millions if not billions dead, but really, that would be secondary.
My demands are simple and non-negotiable, but given how sudden it is, I will give you time to meet them. First, the complete surrender of all nations to White Lotus within 72 hours. Second, Avatar Tong is to surrender himself to me immediately, where he will be executed for what he did to my fiancé! And third, all members of the Air Nomads are to surrender themselves to me, so that I may wipe their scourge out from the planet.
You believed my cause lost. The truth is that you have merely forced me to be harsher to realize it.
After ten minutes of waiting by the shore of the island, confident that there would be no more blasts from space, the surviving Air Nomads on the island, several hundred from a population of at least two thousand, went back to survey the damage. While Rohan's call to action saved many lives, and there were others who were out when the blast hit, still others were not so lucky. But what awaited the survivors couldn't be put into words.
Literally everything on the island was atomized into dust, only brown dirt and charred grass remaining. Trees, buildings, and anything else were all pounded into nothingness by the blasts from the spirit vine cannon.
When Rohan saw the destruction, he fell to his knees and wept.
"Dad! Meelo! Jinora! Ikki! I'm so sorry!" he bawled. "I'm so sorry! This was…this was…" Unable to finish the words, he instead wept at the sight. Shing, Amit, and Tashi all went up to the Grandmaster, even as he pointed to where some of the dust had settled.
"The Airbending gates stood here since Aang first founded the island. I still remember my first sessions on them. And over there was the garden that Jinora had put in with the statues of the other grandmasters. And there was the gazebo, the one Dad and Jinora taught me how to meditate on. Do you know how many students I taught there?"
The tears still flowing, Rohan repeated his assessment of what he found. "It's all gone. Everything my father ever built, everything my family left me, it's gone. It was all I had left of them, and it's all gone."
"Han," Tashi repeated, less a question and more a statement of facts. "He wants to kill us all."
"He hates Air Nomads," Shing added. "When we fought, he told me that he blamed Jinora for exiling him from the Air Nation. He wants to destroy the Air Nation as a culture, completely and utterly. And he won't stop till we're all dead."
Tong was quick to sneer at the explanation of Han's behavior.
"Worse than him have tried," Rohan replied, standing to his feet, and wiping the tears from his face. "They failed. So will he. His army has abandoned him."
"He's desperate," Leena concluded. "He's backed into a corner with a doomsday weapon and that's making his trigger finger very itchy."
The statement was accented by the sounds of buzzing helicopters, as the survivors all prepared for battle. But what approached wasn't an army.
"Are those…news copters?" Amit asked.
"Everyone and their mother saw that blast," Leena answered. "They're going to want answers."
Sure enough, helicopters from at least six different news stations landed on the island, crews of reporters and cameramen emerging. Looking on, they immediately zoomed in on their target.
"Avatar Tong! What do you say to the Grand Lotus' demand for your surrender?"
"Avatar Tong! Why have you waited until now to reveal yourself?"
"Avatar Tong! Why didn't you stop the spirit vine cannon?" Tong practically yelled at the last question.
"How the hell was I supposed to do that?!"
"You're the Avatar!" a man shouted. "You're supposed to fix things! How could you let this happen?"
The questions continued relentlessly, Tong utterly at a loss for words for how to handle them. Mercifully, before he could put his foot in his mouth, Rohan intervened.
"It's been a very busy week for the Avatar," Rohan explained, "and we have yet to fully assess the situation. We will make a statement tomorrow, I promise."
The reporters continued to pester Rohan with questions about what had happened and their reactions while Tong and the others looked on. He was unsure of what to say or to do.
"You know anywhere we can lay low?" he asked.
"Come on," Kushina answered. "You can stay at my dad's place for now."
It had only been a day since Tong had returned, and once again, panic and tension gripped Republic City, people unsure of what to do next, or if White Lotus' death ray would strike them where they stood. The people were looking for something to direct their anger and fear towards.
Unfortunately for Tong, he fit the bill perfectly, being utterly mobbed as he went to the address Kushina had given him, all because he had decided to get some drinks rather than raid her father's fridge. The black vest and hood he wore weren't nearly enough to throw off everyone he passed, as he was quickly flagged down.
"Hey! You're the Avatar! What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be stopping this?"
"I have to look over my options," Tong answered a group of hecklers, only for them to scoff at it. The lead heckler, a dark skinned Earth State woman, shook her head at this.
"Everyone saw you turn into a giant spirit to fight Korra's doomsday robot! You're telling me you can't shoot lightning into space and blow up the death ray?"
"It's more complicated than that," Tong protested, but the hecklers were having none of it. The questions became more provocative and ridiculous, the crowd clearly trying to goad the Avatar into either guaranteeing action against the threat of White Lotus or making an ass of himself. The questions only irritated him until he yelled, "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?!"
"TURN YOURSELF IN!" a man in the crowd shouted.
"Some Avatar, huh?" a second asked. "He'd rather save his own hide than save the people!"
"If we turn him in, White Lotus won't attack us!"
"Let's get him!"
The crowd was riled by the argument of the one heckler, the group advancing on Tong. He instinctively dropped into a defensive stance, which only encouraged the hecklers.
"See? He's a coward! I say we take him!"
The crowd of at least forty began to move in to restrain Tong when the sudden sound of police sirens interrupted them. Using the distraction to his advantage, Tong fled into the crowd, keeping the hood over his head tight as he went to the address Kushina had given him. The doorman, initially suspicious, let him pass when he verified with the occupant that he was invited, and not just a bum off the street. Once finally there, he sat on the couch, utterly exhausted. The occupant's look was not a welcoming one.
"Avatar Tong refuses to give self up. Avatar Tong a coward. It's all over people's personal sites."
"This isn't a job for me!" Tong shouted even as he opened up a bottle of the lemon shandy in the bag. "This is for the military!"
"Um, in case you haven't realized it yet," Kushina protested, "this is exactly your job! People are terrified! And they're looking to the Avatar, the one that Han just demanded to surrender, to fix things!"
"I can't just punch Han from here!" Tong answered. "What am I supposed to do?"
"WE," Kushina began, putting extra focus on the word 'we', "need to come up with a plan. He's cornered, he's desperate, but he has a very big gun. Besides, I know how that thing works."
"I was doing zero-G tests for Megaroad when they were testing mecha tanks for space combat, but no one told us that this was what they were going to be guarding."
"We need to go into outer space," Tong reasoned. "But no one's going to listen to me!" This last statement caused Kushina to nearly hit her head on the table in front of the couch.
"YOU'RE THE AVATAR!" Kushina yelled. "I get this is new to you, but you are LITERALLY the most influential person on the entire planet right now! And I hate to say it, but a lot of countries kind of owe us, BIG for saving them. The Fire Nation, the Water Tribes, the Earth Republic AND the Earth Kingdom both expressed their gratitude to you…"
"KUSHINA! I'M HOME!"
Tong looked on at the door when it opened, revealing an older looking man, his facial hair styled into a goatee, with a stocky, short frame that seemed to radiate power. Looking on at his guest, he stared down Tong like a lion observing its prey. After a minute of silence, he finally spoke.
"You look bigger on TV. Bluer too."
"Hi," was Tong's response. "It's…complicated."
"Is that why you're in my home?"
"I was invited. By your daughter Mr. Chun."
Tae Chun just scoffed at the notion, his eyes not leaving their observation of Tong for a moment. "She said you were her boyfriend. Is that true?"
After another awkward moment of silence, Tong answered, "Yes."
"Then why shouldn't I rip your head off right now?"
"DAD!" Kushina yelled, only for Mr. Chun to raise his hand as if to say "Calm down."
"There's plenty of people that want to do that outside," Tong replied. "Do you really think turning me over to the Grand Lotus is going to do anything but convince him that he can get what he wants by pointing his death ray at people?"
Tae Chun smiled at that, reaching into Tong's bag for one of the bottles. "Then you're not a coward." Grabbing a bottle opener, he removed the cap and sat on the couch next to the young man, having a sip of the ale. "So then, what are you going to do?"
"I need to get up there," Tong answered. "I need to get up to Han's space station and disable that death ray. But that would require a spaceship, and I don't have one."
Kushina was quick to agree, although unlike Tong and Mr. Chun, elected to stick with a cup of tea as she sat down on the couch. "We would need to have the world's nations send ships into space in a coordinated effort, including some dummy launches to keep them from being swatted out of the sky. Once there, we would have to have a party board Han's space station and disable the cannon internally. Finally, we would need to bring Han in so he can face justice."
"So you know what you have to do," Mr. Chun reasoned, pausing to sip from the bottle, "then what's stopping you?"
"Why should people listen to me?" Tong asked again, only for both Kushina and her father to yell at him in unison.
"BECAUSE YOU'RE THE AVATAR IDIOT!"
"So what do I do?" Tong asked. "Just call the Firelord and have see if we can put together a joint conference? I don't see that ending well."
Mr. Chun shook his head at this statement. "And here I thought you had the guts. You're not even going to try? The alternative is to wait for someone else to do it."
Tong looked out the window, putting the bottle down on the table. He saw people nervous, people looking up towards the sky in terror of what might come down, and people doing their best to get on with their lives. It made his apprehensiveness disappear rather quickly.
"Kushina, we need to head for the President's building."
"I'll get Dad's car ready."
"Wait, MY car?" Mr. Chun asked.
"Well, yeah, it's in the parking garage. And I just got back to Republic City, remember?"
Mr. Chun nodded, but not before looking at Tong deeply. "You made a good first move, getting me a drink. But I'm not done with you yet. Once you're done saving the world, we're going to have a very long talk about my daughter."
"Sure," Tong answered. Kushina meanwhile, was just annoyed at her father's posturing.
"Dad? I'm right here. And I'm not 12."
"I need to see President Kyodai."
"What?! Why the hell should I let someone off the street see the President? He's in conference! It's very important!"
"Because I'm the Avatar, and I know what he's talking about in there concerns me directly."
The broad shouldered guard looked on at the visitor before shaking his head. "I have orders not to let anyone in, Avatar or no. You'll have to wait here till…"
"It's OK. He's with me."
Turning around, Tong and Kushina saw Rohan, wearing a clean pair of robes, walking inside the building as the guard hastily offered a salute. Smiling, they followed the Grandmaster towards the conference room.
"I do act as the representation of the Air Nation," Rohan explained. "So they'll have to let you in as my guest."
"I appreciate it," Tong answered. Rohan however, merely smiled and shook his head.
"It's time to show the world what you can do. I'm just leaving the door open."
With that said, the group soon found themselves in a massive conference room, the table in the center emblazoned with the symbol of the United Republic while on monitors, the leaders of both the Northern and Southern Water Tribles, the Earth Kingdom and Earth Republic, and the Firelord all stood looking at the clean shaven suit clad man at the head. His receding hairline and spectacles didn't detract from the air of authority that he gave off, even as he looked on at his new guests.
"Ah, Grandmaster Rohan. Please come in. I see you bought…a guest."
"Hello Mr. President," Tong began, bowing formally to both President Kyodai and the images on the monitors. Firelord Kaede was quick to respond.
"Funny. The last time we met, you didn't mention you were the Avatar."
"Honored Firelord, it was a matter of secrecy. The people who kept up the façade about Korra were hunting me, and I didn't want to blow my cover or endanger your nation any more than it had been in the Capital City attack."
"Understandable," Kaede answered. "Please sit, but don't expect to rest on your past laurels with me. If you can't help us, then leave."
"We have what Han wants!" the man from the Earth Kingdom began, his head covered by a small hat that was worn by his predecessor. "We should surrender him and then use the time to plan a counterattack!"
"You're just as cowardly as Xing, Emperor Hiresh!"
"I am not advocating surrender! Just that we use the Avatar to buy us some time!"
"After what the Avatar did against the fake Korra? Out of the question!"
"What other options do we have?"
"Excuse me!" Rohan shouted, "but Han's demand includes the total genocide of my people! And I will be damned if I let any of you placate that madman!"
"Rohan, be reasonable!"
"With all due respect Firelord," Rohan began, "you of all people should know about the horrors inflicted on the Air Nomads! Or do they not teach that in Fire Nation schools?!"
"HOW DARE YOU!"
Kushina, remembering her plan from earlier, immediately spoke, hoping to diffuse a volatile situation. "Can't we get someone up there?"
Everyone, including President Kyodai looked at each other nervously for a moment. Kushina and Tong looked on at the group both worried that the nations didn't have a way to get up to space. Finally a woman wearing the clothes of the Southern Water Tribe looked on at the others.
"Who told you about our space warfare program?"
"Who told you about ours, Chief Tikanni?"
"The same that told you about ours I presume, Preisdent Bahl. Ours and the Firelord's."
"Did you really think you could hide something like that from me?"
"Wait," Tong interrupted. "So you all have programs designed to engage in space warfare?"
The previously silent President Kyodai answered, "We didn't plan on telling anyone."
"How can we trust any of you then?" Emperor Hiresh protested.
"So then," Tong concluded, ignoring the Emperor's complaints, "you have the tools to get an assault force into space."
"Yes we do," Kyodai answered.
"Then I want to lead it."
"You've been the Avatar for three days!" a man in Water Tribe clothing answered. "Why should we trust you?"
"And why should we even go ahead with such a plan?" Emperor Hiresh asked. "You're literally asking for the entire world to coordinate its plans in one counter-attack when we know Han can swat anything we send at him like a fly!"
"Not if you plan it out precisely," Kushina answered.
"Who is this? Some intern that got lost on the way in?"
Kushina was set to protest when a voice emerged from the Firelord's monitor.
"She is an engineer we hired. Quite intelligent as well."
"Kushina!" Dariou announced, smiling from his monitor. "I'm glad to see you're well. And as for you, Emperor, yes, this woman is quite intelligent in her understanding of aerospace engineering. Don't dismiss her outright just yet."
"If one of my advisors vouches for her," Kaede added, "then I will listen to what she has to say."
"Fine! Alright woman, what is your plan?"
"We would need to coordinate our launches," Kushina explained, "interrupting them with dummy launches that don't have payloads, but are being fired to draw off the Spirit Vine cannon. If we do it correctly, the actual forces can head into space while Han is busy shooting the dummies. Once in space, our forces need to engage theirs while a strike team boards the Star Flower and disables the Spirit Vine cannon. With that out of the way, Han will have no choice but to surrender."
"I will lend as many of my Air Nomads as possible," Rohan added. "If Han wants to declare war on the Air Nation, then we'll bring the fight right to his doorstep!"
The group remained silent, looking on at Kushina. Finally, Firelord Kaede spoke.
"It's the best chance we have of stopping this madman before he starts targeting cities and more civilians. Considering all the other alternatives involve our forces being shot down or catastrophic civilian casualties when that space station hurdlers towards the planet, then this is our best chance."
"You have my support as well," President Kyodai added.
"Han has already attacked the Water Tribes," Chief Tikanni noted. "We will support you in any way we can to stop that madman." Her northern counterpart nodded in agreement.
The only one who didn't speak was Emperor Hiresh, who looked on at the group incredulously.
"Are you all insane? Working with all of you in such a limited timeframe? If we're off by one second…"
"I've heard enough," Tong interrupted.
"Watch your mouth boy! You may be the Avatar, but as far as I'm concerned, you're just another brat who wants to use that title to throw their weight around!"
"Yes, like the fake Korra," Tong reasoned. "The one your predecessor all but handed the keys to the kingdom over to. The one I stopped and SAVED YOUR COUNTRY."
"I'm not asking all of you to be friends," Tong continued. "You've all got a lot of disagreements and a lot of little issues, and that's fine. But at least you get to make those choices. If Han had his way, you would all be answering to a fake Avatar right now, one that took a good woman's name and dragged it through the mud to get what she wanted! And I get the title of 'Avatar' probably isn't that popular right now, but I plan to fix that. And that starts with going up there and stopping Han!"
"Why should you lead the mission then?" Hiresh asked. "You hid for decades!"
"Because as the Avatar, and I can't believe I'm saying that, I stand for more than what any nation wants. Once this is done, you don't have to hold hands or pretend to be best friends, but now, you need to do what's right for your people."
"Alright for a first speech," Rohan quipped. "You weren't mumbling." Tong smiled, looking at Hiresh, waiting for a response.
Control, this is Capital City. All launch points are coordinated.
Tong breathed heavily, doing his best to relax inside the cumbersome suit that he and the other soldiers on board had been given. His shuttle, launching from the United Republic, would soon join hopefully seven others, where they would travel to space for the final battle. The crash course in dealing with special travel likely was only going to scratch the surface of what he had to deal with out there, but he was prepared. He wouldn't panic.
"Kushina?" he went, looking at a radio next to his chair. "They gave you a mecha tank?"
"Top of the line!" she boasted, the mecha tank in question resting in a specific compartment inside the massive craft. "I'll try not to have too much fun out there!
"Hey, leave some for us!"
Looking to his right, Tong saw Shing, Amit, and Tashi, along with at least a dozen United Republic soldiers, all strapped in and ready to go. True to his word, Rohan had rallied the Air Nomads to battle to save their people. Tong insisted that his friends travel with him, despite Emperor Hiresh's protests about the pacifism of the Air Nomads. Rohan reasoned that his men didn't have to kill to incapacitate their opponents, which meant they were even more effective than the average soldiers of the Earth Kingdom and the Earth Republic, a statement that both President Bahl and Emperor Hiresh vehemently disagreed with. Leena, meanwhile, had been recalled to the Fire Nation, where she would be taking off in one of their vessels, leading a Fire Nation commando unit onto the Star Flower.
Second decoy has been deployed! UR ship Blue Sky, prepare for launch!
"This is it!" Tong shouted. "Everyone hold on!"
"We're with you Avatar!" a UR soldier shouted, to which his compatriots nodded in agreement.
Launch window reached! 3, 2, 1…
"Then let's go save the world!"