Point of View
Green shirt, check.
Loose fitting pants, check.
Gauntlet with six pieces of metal on each arm for metal bending, check.
Comfortable running shoes, check.
Loose jacket with hood, check.
And one Air Temple staff with hidden glider, check.
Double-checking his equipment, Tong began moving around, testing his weapons, while outside, Rohan discussed the young man's recovery with his nurse Sung.
"How is he doing?"
"He seems to have recovered fully," the nurse replied. "A few days of carrot and stick treatment seemed to do the trick."
"Carrot and stick?"
"You let the patient relax as much as possible and tend to their wounds…but hit them with the stick if they get too touchy-feely."
"He wasn't that bad I hope."
"Him? No need for the stick. He's harmless when he's not trying to appear brooding. Fairly cute too." She knew he was leering when she came in a few times, but that wasn't stick worthy.
Nodding, Rohan entered the room where Tong had finished outfitting himself. The Grandmaster smiled.
"Good to see you on your feet. So, I presume you're heading to the Fire Nation?"
"Yeah. Apparently the name I found has a business in Capital City. Just in time for the Fall of the Phoenix festival. The parades, the fleet, all of it. He was in the book too, so my father knew him."
"Lovely timing. You'll bring me a souvenir, won't you?"
"I need a ride first," Tong replied. "I can take a jet to…"
"Jet?" Rohan questioned before raising his hand and shaking his head. "No, too suspicious. I know a herder who works in Capital City that houses some sky bison. You can take one of ours to him."
Tong sighed, but agreed. Comet Air, the airline that served the Fire Nation, was renowned for the luxury (and admitted cost) of its higher end seats. A sky bison…wasn't nearly as nice a ride as leather seats and complimentary drinks.
"Besides, think of the money you'll save."
Tong thought I didn't mind spending it, but he wasn't dumb enough to say it aloud.
Having recovered from her injuries, Korra found herself in the headquarters of Avatar Affairs in Republic City, looking over a slideshow presented by numerous men. In particular, the details were being explained by a darker skinned man with a thick beard, his features those of a Water Tribe member.
"That's the codename our intelligence has given him Honored Avatar. We believe him to be the last product of a cell from a Dr. Mao, an agent of Red Lotus."
"RED LOTUS?!" Korra shouted. "That's impossible! I defeated Red Lotus decades ago! I still remember what happened to its leader."
The Republic City Police Headquarters was hardly the place she envisioned meeting with everyone again. And yet in front of Korra stood Tenzin, Meelo, Ikki, Jinora, and Mako. Even little Rohan was here, although the fourteen year old was less "little spirit," and more "overeager teenager itching for a fight." While Tenzin chose to wear traditional Air Nomad robes, the rest of his family was wearing Air Nation wing suits while Mako was clad in the uniform of the Republic City police, the markings identifying him as a captain in the force. As much as she wanted to reminisce with everyone, the matter at hand took her full attention.
"Officer. Or is it Captain now?"
"It's Captain as of last week," Mako replied. "Hell of a way to start my tenure, that's for sure. You missed the party. Everyone came."
"I've been busy," Korra answered. "The only reason I'm here and not at some land dispute is because of how urgent everything is."
"So you can't stay?" Jinora asked. Before Korra could answer that, a rather loud, authoritarian voice interrupted.
"I hate to interrupt the reunion, but we have bigger issues right now."
"Chief Beifong," Korra answered politely. Lin was taken aback by her formality, but putting it aside, directed everyone to a mover screen and a film reel.
"You're all aware that three weeks ago, Red Lotus members sprang Zaheer from prison. Everyone nodded, Korra having remembered the incident from a briefing that had occurred before Chanming sent her off to mediate a Fire Nation request to build a Spirit Vine reactor, something that no nation was willing to allow. All the various missions and the like were starting to blend together, leaving Korra precious non-Avatar related time to do anything but sleep.
"Today, we received this."
The reel sprang to life as the group looked on at the screen. In front of it was Zaheer, older, but looking no less fearsome than the last time he and the Avatar fought.
"This message was broadcast all over Republic City radio, and the reel was given to us by someone we assume was a Red Lotus agent."
Citizens of Republic City and the United Republic as a whole. My name is Zaheer, and I am part of Red Lotus. 12 years ago, we gave the Earth Kingdom freedom from a tyrannical government in the hopes that people would rise up and do the same in the other nations. Instead, governments have tighter grips than ever. Clearly you have failed to heed our example.
"We can skip this," Lin remarked as she moved through the reels. "He just rambles for about 10 minutes about his vision for anarchy. To be blunt, it's BORING."
"He hasn't changed a bit in prison," Tenzin lamented.
"Here we go."
I therefore make one demand. That in the next 24 hours, the United Republic dissolves, its military, disarms, and that the government in Republic City follows suit. And to show you this demand is not empty, I present to you this.
The camera panned to a rather large device with an all too familiar center, exposed by a window. It was something Korra had hoped to never see again.
We are in possession of a spirit vine powered bomb, and there are enough vines here to level the entire city and its surrounding boroughs, gathered from the Spirit Portal park. You fools left the ingredients to a weapon of mass destruction within plain view of tourists. If our demands are not met, if anyone attempts to evacuate the city, or if someone attempts to take me with force, I will detonate the bomb without a second thought. My men are observing the bridges and tunnels leaving Republic City, so if you try to escape, you will doom every single one of your neighbors. You have been warned.
This probably explained why Tenzin was insistent on her arriving via sky bison, and why the matter was deemed urgent.
Lin was quick to fill in the remaining blanks. "We think he's hiding the device somewhere in the tunnels the Republic City subway project is part of. Avatar, both you and Tenzin have dealt with this madman in the past, which is why you've been bought in as consultants."
Korra shuddered, remembering her "dealings" with Zaheer. "Who else do we have?"
"No one outside of the police already in the city", Lin answered. "The UR can't send in troops without fear of Zaheer detonating the bomb. The good news is we have a pretty good general idea of where he's hiding, but, and I hate to say it, need you to go in given the gravity of the situation. None of my men outside of Captain Mako have seen spirit vine weapons up close. You have."
Korra had a litany of questions. How they were going to go in. What she was supposed to do with the bomb. How many Red Lotus spies were on the surface. However, Tenzin spoke aloud before she could say anything.
"I understand. I'll need five members of your force that can Earth bend. Korra and myself will go down to the tunnels where Zaheer is hiding. I know how we can deal with the device."
"I'm going too!" Rohan enthusiastically declared, but Tenzin shook his head towards the boy.
"No, you're staying put. I need you here to ensure that Red Lotus doesn't try to do anything on the surface."
"Hah," Meelo taunted. "Guess it's up to us adults to handle this."
"You're not going either Meelo," Tenzin rebuked. "In fact, none of you are. If too many of us go down there, Zaheer will know we're coming, and if he sets off that bomb before any of us reach it, no one in this city will survive the ensuing blast. In addition, we need to make sure we're not being followed."
"Up to you huh?" Rohan taunted. Meelo offered his brother a menacing glare, until Jinora pulled both apart by the ear.
"Sis! Come on!"
"Yeah, I wasn't gonna OW!"
"Are you sure about this?" Korra asked. Tenzin nodded.
"It may be the only way to ensure that the bomb doesn't damage anyone or anything. Hopefully it doesn't come to that."
"And if it does?" she asked, even as the pair along with the police officers descended further into the tunnel. The laid down tracks directed the group, even if trains wouldn't be using the tracks for several years.
"Then, even if you have been busy with your Avatar duties as of late, know that I still think of you as family."
"He's one chamber over," one of the officers began. "The vibrations note a chamber that to be frank, isn't supposed to be here." Tenzin nodded.
"Remember the plan. Stay out here. Korra and myself will sneak in."
The officers all nodded as Korra and Tenzin went into the tunnel. Once inside, they saw a very familiar face floating above the spirit vine bomb from the mover, flanked by several guards.
"So the Avatar sees fit to pay me a visit, presumably when she isn't helping some corporation stomp over someone's rights. As does my old Air Bending teacher. "
Korra winced, remembering what Zaheer had done to her, but stayed firm. She wouldn't be intimidated, even as the four guards advanced on her.
"I warned you not to come. Then again, how could I offer a threat so grand and not expect the governments of the world to send their greatest champion to stop me?"
Korra stood firm even as he growled menacingly. "I'm not afraid of you Zaheer. Your poison is gone." Even as Korra reassured herself aloud, Tenzin came to a realization.
"You set this trap for Korra!"
"I did expect the government to send its enforcer, but it doesn't matter. Not even the Avatar will survive a blast of this magnitude, and the spirit energy will annihilate both Raava and Vaatu. We will finally have balance, and in ten thousand years, have developed a way to annihilate them again, and ensure that nothing disrupts that balance. He nodded towards one of the henchmen by the device.
"Arm the bomb."
One of the men began to flip a set of switches on the device as Korra ran to deal with him. Zaheer swooped in from above in an attempt to intercept him, but was caught by a gust from Tenzin, followed by him leaping into the air, attempting to crack the Red Lotus leader with his staff. Unfortunately, without gravity to deal with, Zaheer moved out of the way fairly easily, floating near the roof of the cavern.
"You're getting old Tenzin. This is a fitting place for your burial."
Korra meanwhile, was able to knock down the man arming the device with a powerful kick, before sending him directly into the wall with an air current. The three other guards attacked, sending pillars of Earth at her as she knocked them aside with blasts of flame assisted by a gust of wind. Even as she did so, the sound of crackling energy became audible.
"It's been armed!" Zaheer taunted. "This is your end Avatar! Not just you, but the entire Avatar cycle ends today!"
Korra and Tenzin regrouped even as they stared at the bomb. Tenzin's words were simple and direct.
"We need to execute the plan. Go!" She didn't hesitate, going through the tunnel the pair had created, sealing it off behind you.
"The Avatar is a coward!" Zaheer taunted, even as he swooped in to attack Tenzin. "But she can't escape this weapon!"
Tenzin smiled. "Yes she can."
Outside of the sealed cavern, Korra shouted one thing to the officers.
"I feel the air bubble!"
"Start pushing it down!"
All of the Earth benders and Korra collectively pushed the earth surrounding the air bubble Tenzin created further into the earth. Zaheer would have no idea what was happening until it was too late.
"It's feels like a mile down. Is that deep enough?"
"Keep going! We have to completely stifle that bomb!"
Inside the bubble however, Zaheer was not blind to what was happening.
"What is she doing?" Tenzin smiled.
"Sending both you and this damned weapon where it will never harm another soul! And I'm staying to ensure that she can!"
"You can't do this!" Zaheer shouted, absolutely livid even as he attacked Tenzin, now focused on keeping the air bubble in the chamber intact. "You're a member of the Air Nation! You're not allowed to kill!"
"I'm not killing anyone," Tenzin replied, even as he reeled from Zaheer's air assisted punch. "I'm saving millions.
"You fool! You would die to continue the Avatar cycle!?" Tenzin nodded.
"The world needs an Avatar. It will get along just fine without two old men like us."
"Stop this instant!" Zaheer looked to his men to push the bubble covered earth back towards the surface, only to see all three had been laid out rather decisively. Tenzin, still focusing on the air bubble, smiled.
"You can leave if you want to." Zaheer pondered those words, only to see the light that was the bomb emerge from its casing. His opponent smiled, lowering his hands and letting the dirt cave in on the bomb, the Red Lotus leader, and himself.
Goodbye everyone. We'll meet again someday. Pema, look after the children for me.
"It was before my time Honored Avatar," the man began. "Although I imagine the children couldn't have taken it well."
"I don't recall speaking with them, to be honest," Korra answered. "I do remember that we were able to capture the remaining Red Louts members fairly easily once they realized their leader and weapon of mass destruction were buried miles under the city. And I remember the paperwork," she added.
"Still, that's in the past now."
"I understand completely Rofu. But the demise of an organization doesn't get much more absolute than blowing their leader to the spirit world with a weapon of mass destruction."
"Men die, Honored Avatar," Rofu continued, "but ideals live on. In the good doctor's case, he was creating super soldiers. Men that could wield all four elements through artificial modification of their DNA. His plan was to build an army that could bring about anarchy in the world. Particularly, Specialists could infiltrate large crowds, raise havoc, and cause mass panic."
"One survived your raid."
"We believe it may be Dr. Mao's own son, which shows you how little he cared for his children."
"So what should I do?"
"We can handle this Honored Avatar. Our agents are pursuing the man. Last I checked, we have much bigger plans to prepare for, ones a lone Red Lotus terrorist cannot interfere in. He won't get near you again, I promise you that."
"I see she's been bought up to speed Commander Rofu?"
"Yes, but you know that's not the only reason I'm here Han."
Han grimaced. "What's the other reason?"
"The Black Petals want to see you. You are to head to Shura immediately. Don't keep them waiting."
Han nodded. "I'll arrange for the flight, but I can't see it being too big a deal."
"Korra was hospitalized fighting a man who can bend four elements. This is A VERY BIG DEAL! The Avatar Army without the Avatar is a mere rebel army that the nations of the world will crush. Until all the pieces are in place, we can't move. And if we lose the Avatar, we lose our legitimacy to the world, ensuring that the Realignment will fail. The Realignment cannot fail. You above all should know this."
"I'll smooth it over."
"See that you do. We're almost ready, and no one's incompetence can halt the coming storm."
"It's all ready to go," Shing began as he looked on at Nasha, a particularly hardy sky bison who he had loaded with a suitcase full of clothes and some supplies. "Tong knows I'm coming, right?"
"He knows," Rohan answered. "So, you spoke with the fake Korra?"
"You seem pretty sure she's a fake, but yeah. She was very polite."
"And formal I bet. Cold, stern, all business."
"Y…how did you know?"
Rohan sighed. "Because the real Korra was never able to be formal with the Air Nation while she was alive. I still remember what happened when dad…well, Master Tenzin gave his life to save the city. She emerged from the tunnel, her head down. The others bowed their heads, but I….lashed out."
"You attacked the Avatar?"
"I put everything I had into a punch, which she caught effortlessly. I still remember; it was at that point I saw her face in the night sky, sobbing, even as she held my fist, declaring 'I can never repay with your father did. No one can.' It was at that point I realized why the rest of my family cared for her so. She was practically their sister."
"And after she was replaced, she didn't act the same."
"Nowhere near the same, although I will admit it's not like we saw her, since she was constantly being worked to the bone." Rohan confirmed. "But I had to keep my mouth quiet for years to avoid ending up like everyone else, or to avoid anything happening to Tong."
"He's not exactly keen on being the Avatar."
"I sense it's a combination of things, but you will guide him. Tong will realize his destiny, but he may need to be pushed towards it. It's part of why I'm sending you. Guide him. Help him. Don't let his rage consume him."
"You guys mention me?"
Both turned around to see Tong, with a suitcase he was all too happy to throw on Nasha's back. Despite the gravity of the situation, he did his best to act jovial.
"Let's go, we've got a festival to attend, don't we?"
"And some answers to find," Rohan added. Tong offered a smile.
"Take care old man!"
"You will bring me some fire flakes back, won't you?" Shing nodded at Rohan's question.
"Sure thing Grandpa!"
"It's Grandmaster to you as long as you're on this island!" He groaned as Nasha flew off into the sky, heading back towards the academy. It was almost time for lunch, and then some afternoon classes. Maybe putting some students through the paces would take his mind off the conspiracy surrounding the fake Korra.