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Chapter 4: Amid the Ruins

Victoria left the White Lotus compound disguised as one of them… still with that evil look in her eyes. She had told us everything, so I used this information to track her down. We were in an alleyway as I approached her.
“Victoria.” She turned, uninterested.
“Great, another dog.” I looked past that, approaching her. She casually tossed pieces of the uniform she stole into the garbage. I was surprised out how easily her easily it had hidden her curves.
“How did your mission to see Fox go?”
“It went fine, tell Silas he’ll show up, now do I really need you to babysit me on my missions, or”-
“No, something else.” Victoria raised an eyebrow, “Silas doesn’t want anyone to know, so he sent me. Your mission to shadow Fox is over, you’ve been assigned to assist me in tracking down two traitors and their friend.” She didn’t seem to care.
“I for one don’t care about Dragon’s policies on traitors.” She stepped past me, “tell him I respectfully declined”- I stepped forward.
“What if I tell you that these traitors are travelling with a Water Tribe boy that looks much like a certain ‘mutt’ who kicked your ass two months ago?” Victoria paused, irritated at the sudden challenge.
“Then I would be very curious… are you telling me this, or is it conjecture?”
“Saren Namakura, Lorik’s son and one of Silas’s targets… he’s working with Ghost and Crow. Even if you don’t think he’ll be much challenge, his companions will.” My words did little… I was saving the best for last.
“I like a good challenge and revenge, but… not enough oomph, if you know what I mean.”
“Alright… following them is a White Lotus agent, a waterbender you’ve met her before.” Victoria raised an eyebrow, “Know how much you hate Angel?” she nodded, “Well this is her baby sister… The half-blood we officially believed to be dead.” I was offering Victoria the chance to kill her rival’s sister. It dawned on me how messed up this was, but I needed her help. The one thing Victoria hated more than water tribe citizens, were halfblooded ones with firenation blood. She had always made it clear that she knew Tanya was a traitor before she became one.
My words on Kokoro Shiki swayed her.  “They’re heading to Ba Sing Se, intending to reach Republic City… Mission is to capture him and if need be, kill the traitors, they’ll be sitting ducks.” She nodded, “Do you want me to stop, or”-
“No… go on,” her horrible red eyes remained focused, “You’ve peaked my interest… Nikta.” I smiled.

KOKORO POV

I did not like the plains of the earth kingdom, I wasn’t exactly use to camping out… so following Connor’s group would be a challenge to my city-girl mindset. Watching them getting chased by armadillo wolves didn’t help either. I don’t know why, only that I was deathly afraid of dogs. I remained focused on the armadillo wolves as Connor and the others escaped, I scanned down, looking from a hill. I pressed my scarf close to my face, breathing slowly. The dogs eventually gave up, and the pack left.
I approached the river, Connor’s group had completely disappeared into the pathway. With my bending, I released a thin mist from my mouth, pulling upwards. Much like Naava’s bridge of stone in the river, I created a bridge of ice, which I was quick to cross, though carefully. With another flick of my hand, the ice melted back into liquid form, and I turned, freezing at the sudden sight of another armadillo wolf sitting back on his hind legs, eying me.
I was close to screaming, but I held it in, noticing how calm and gentle the dog was. He panted, excited, probably expecting me to feed him like Saren did. He remained focused on me, growing slightly more agitated… out of fear, my hand dug into my pocket, tossing a piece of seal jerky I had stuffed there. He caught it and I bolted, running right down the path, while the dog casually sat there. Mountains and trees appeared and vanished before me, all in a sudden swirl of change. I ran for less than two minutes when I found myself tripping… I groaned, irritated at myself, and my fear. When I heard something, footsteps.
“Are you okay?” I paused, turning to see someone, a girl standing there, looking my age, maybe a little younger. Her eyes were a vibrant gray color, skin wasn’t pale, but also wasn’t anywhere near my color… she was clearly earth kingdom. The first thing I actually noticed was her hat, looked something I’d associate with some sort of safari. She wore a short sleeved striped dress shirt, and beige khakis shorts, on top of two open toed sandals. The look was brought together with a thin black tie that was in no ways tight.  She looked absolutely adorable.
“I’m fine.” I replied, as she helped me up, the girl eyed my backpack.
“So you’re a traveler… that’s neat.” I turned more, “My dad and I do a lot of travelling.” I nodded, feeling almost drawn to keep talking to her despite my targets being up ahead. “So, what brings you to the Northern Air Temple?”
“Air temple?” I turned my gaze, eyes widening as I saw it… A looming mountain. It etched high above us, with a collection of vehicles and paths leading up it. It looked like an incredible challenge to get into the mountain, almost ridiculous.
“Or I guess… Air Temple Ruins would be the politically correct term.” I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was so massive, almost majestic. No wonder airbenders built their temple there. A variety of people and vehicles surrounded the mountain. There were even a couple airships, though they were on the ground, probably used only to travel to the mountain’s top.
“Who are all these people?”
“We’re the Earth Kingdom Excavation Group… EKEG for short.” I turned, noticing her smile.
“What do you do?”
“Anthropology, er… sort of.” I looked back to the temple, “Ever since the temple was destroyed, and the airbenders were too busy helping the earth kingdom, Master Tenzin wanted us to excavate and search for any loss air nomad relics.” I raised an eyebrow, “Eventually he wants to rebuild the temple, but that’ll take a long time. We only just started working on this a few years ago, after the Earth Empire’s collapse. Kuvira didn’t think air-nomad heritage mattered all too much in comparison to the state of the Earth Kingdom.”
“That sucks.”
“That’s what my dad would say.” She replied, I turned, “I’m Cheryl.” She offered her hand, I shook it.
“Taniki.” I lied. The teenager smiled with a whiff of innocence. “So you work here?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say work.” She shrugged, “I travel with my dad and help him out.” I nodded, while she crossed her arms. “So what brings a traveler like yourself here?”
“I’m just passing through?”
“With some friends?” she then asked, I raised an eyebrow. “Because I just saw a group of three coming through here… they didn’t notice me.” I crossed my arms, “Do you know them? They kinda look like you.”
“I’m alone.”
“That’s too bad… it’s never fun to travel alone.” I sighed,
“No, it sure isn’t.”

NAAVA POV

As tired as I was, I could walk. Connor and Saren followed me as we asked around, trying to figure out who’s in charge. We were in the main work area, a sort of outdoor cafeteria for these researcher/miner types. We had noticed many of these vehicles had been labeled with the initials: “E.K.E.G.”
“Um, hello sir? What’s Ekeg?” Connor asked.
“I don’t have time for this.” One muttered, walking away from us. Saren sighed.
“Not the friendliest people we’ve ever met.” I shrugged.
“Atleast we know they’re serious about their work,” Connor turned.
“But what kind of work?” We looked to the side, seeing a group of men walking past us, holding pick-axes and shovels… another group passed by us, covered and dirt and moving weird objects… like a sort of cylindrical blade device. “I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and assume research?” We turned again, overhearing a conversation. It was two guys sitting at a bench.
“Look pal, the pay sucks, but if you got a problem with it, talk to Adrian!”
“He’s not even in charge of that, he’s just the guy hired to lead it all… not like he’s gonna last long here anyways.”
“Adrian?” Saren muttered, he stepped towards the two guys on lunch break, he broke into the conversation. “Excuse me, who’s Adrian?” the guys didn’t pay any attention to Saren, not answering to anything polite. I decided to take a crack at it.
“HEY WORKER BEES!” I replied, butting into the conversation, they turned.
“Excuse me miss?” One asked, “Do you talk to your mother with such disrespect?” I cracked swiftly, punching the man in the mouth and grabbing his arm, pushing him to the table violently. People turned, alarmed.
“Spirits Naava!” Saren protested.
“Tell me who Adrian is and I might not break your arm for that comment!” the man shook.
“He’s the guy in charge of us, he-he”-
“Where can I find him?”
“In the green EKEG airship number 1, you can’t miss it!” I nodded, releasing my grip. The man fell forward, fearfully.
“Thanks. Now you kids better play nice now, or I might just come back.” To my amusement, the man whimpered, while Saren stared at me as if I was crazy.
“Well… it worked.” Connor replied, Saren looked away.
“I know, but… never mind.” He sighed, “What was that stuff they said about Adrian not being around anymore?”
“I dunno,” I replied, “Let’s just see him and talk about getting a ride, don’t want to stick around here any longer than I have to.” Connor glanced to me.
“You gonna try and break this Adrian guy’s arm too?” I rolled my eyes. We were quick to get away from the cafeteria, finding a small airship yard that contained three airships… two of them were owned EKEG and were green, but the third was gray with a different logo, with what looked like some sort of sea bird.
“Albatross Oil?” Saren asked, Connor turned.
“They’re an oil chain in the Firenation, they drill until the place is clean and leave… kind of a big deal.”
“Sounds like you know a lot about them.” I replied, Connor shrugged.
“For a mission I once had to pretend to be one of their workers… not the worse kind of employment.”
“Well it’s none of our business.” I replied, making my way towards the #1 airship. As we did so, Ivan was quick to return to me, landing on my shoulder. “Good boy.” I smiled, we walked past some researchers who left the airship, muttering among themselves.
“So,” Connor paused, “If we see this Adrian guy… who are we gonna convince him to help us?” Connor asked, I shrugged.
“We’ll wing it…” Saren smiled.
“I thought Ivan was the only one who could ‘wing it’?” It didn’t even look at the bartender as we approached the airship’s entrance. Ivan flew off of my shoulder, settling on a metal bar as we entered the airship, looking to see a man meticulously studying a table sized map of the Northern Air temple, trailing his finger around it. He was vastly middle aged man with no facial hair, hair was light brown. He wore a beige dress shirt over brown trousers. An un-kept tie led down from his shirt, telling us something. This was a man married to his work.
“Hello, what is it?” he asked, not even looking up to us, “The new recruits? I thought they just left, do you need something or”-
“Slow down.” I replied, “Are you Adrian?”
“Who’s asking? If it’s Albatross, then no… I’m a different Adrian Lyrun, the other one is in Airship #2.” He spoke decisively in a sort of trance.
“Well, we’re not Albatross.” Saren replied, the man didn’t respond. “We were wondering if we could get some assistance, we’re trying to reach Ba Sing Se and”- Adrian paid Saren little attention.
“Mumbling is bad for you, you know.” He ironically mumbled. Saren blushed.
“I wasn’t mumbling! You’re just not listening!” He complained, Adrian remained uninterested.
“And I’m far too busy to talk, so can you and your compatriots please”-
“Hey!” I then replied, hand falling down to his map, causing the man to pause. He looked up at me, and froze, the lamplight reflecting off his spectacles. He knew who I was… which was exactly what I was banking on.
“You’re Naava Chun…” I nodded, “You’ve… you’ve been Shiloh.”
“That too.”
“Shiloh?” Saren whispered,
“Long story.” Connor muttered.
“Er… what can I do for you?” he then asked, setting back.
“Me and my, er…” I eyed Saren for a moment, “Companions need some assistance. Could you give us a little of your time, and in return I can give you some of mine.”
“Of course.” He smiled, “It’s an honor to meet you, Princess.” I couldn’t help but smile a little.

KOKORO POV

I found myself sticking by Cheryl, she was showing me around the excavation site, telling me all about it, every little detail. I couldn’t bring myself to stop listening, so I paced beside her. The only thing I remained on the lookout for was Connor’s group.
“When they started here, Master Tenzin had lost all hope of any relics surviving the Red Lotus attack, but then they started finding the first artifacts and we’ve been getting more support.”
“It must be a lot of trouble with all the spirits and sky bison around.”
“Not at all, the spirits are helpful, and the sky bison mind their own business… I almost flew on one, then my dad stopped me.” She pouted a slightly on that mention. We found ourselves pausing, looking to see a group of men and women stepping out of one of the large airships, the gray one. They looked different from the researchers, for one they were all firenation. The leader of the group eyed Cheryl with irritated disdain. “What do you want? Zatko?”
“Just wondering when your father will finally man up and resume communication.” He stated, so effortlessly. He did seem somewhat threatening looking, but for some reason somewhat shaken. “We all want the same thing.”
“Pretty sure we don’t want to line your pockets, thank you very much.” The man groaned, eying me before walking away with irritated disdain. “Stupid Albatross, think you own the place…”
“What’s Albatross?”
“Some hotshot oil company.” She muttered, “When our process of finding more relics started winding down, they show up out of nowhere getting the okay from King Wu.”
“They got royal approval?”
“Master Tenzin promised he’d fight this, but he’s too busy with other matters to work on it. The airbenders we brought with us don’t think he’d make much of a difference either way. Because firebenders drilling on foreign soil is good for business and public appeal… doesn’t help with the oil crisis going on in the Firenation.”
“Oil crisis?”
“Long story.” She smirked, “But these jerks are broke, that’s why they’re still here… Tenzin sort of gave them his okay but they’re wrong!” Cheryl frowned, realizing how bad that made her sound. “And we’re holding them up…” I watched as one of the airships began to rise, it was the EKEG #1, Cheryl smiled. “Looks like my dad’s going back up.”

CONNOR POV

I was surprised how easily Naava made friends with this guy. The moment he knew who she was, she knew he’d help us… but currently he wanted to show us around.
Saren was plastered to the window, staring out as the airship took on altitude, Naava was still with Lyrun, chatting on the bridge. Other researchers were here, waiting to get onto the mountain excavation site. We could see the entire site, the people looked like ants. Ivan was currently outside the window, flying with us and the ship, kawhing downwards at it all.
“Woah…” Saren smiled, “Now that’s a view.” He turned, “You ever been on an air ship?” I paused.
“I never got to have a normal life.” a voice hissed in my head.
“Eh… once or twice.” I didn’t want to give much thought to that question. “So your first time then?”
“It’s awesome, look how fast it takes to get up here!” Saren replied, as we were nearing the tip of the mountain where the excavation was taking place. He glanced to me, with a smirk, “Know I had my doubts about going with you, but I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
“That’s the spirit.” I then stepped back, “I’m gonna see what Naava and Lyrun are talking about, you wanna come along?” Saren thought on that, before looking away.
“Nah, I’d rather stay here a while longer.” Clearly he felt awkward about what happened at the river, and then the cafeteria. Might need to be something I should talk to Naava about.
I left the room, walking onto the observation deck. There was a man standing at a wheel and several control mechanisms, the pilot. To his side were Lyrun and Naava, discussing.
“So you’re in charge of all of this?”
“More or less, we’ve been here for over a year and found countless artifacts Master Tenzin believed were lost in the Red Lotus attack.”
“I see, and so you were given this airship?” Of course she didn’t care about the research aspect of this place.
“Makes it easier to get onto the mountain. Before we had to use old revamped methods from the hundred year war to even try and scale it… still do.” I approached them, looking at the mountain and noticing several compact metal cars scaling the mountain like in tundra tanks from the war Lyrun mentioned. They were supported with chain links, it actually looked very effective if also arcane.
“Looks like a fun way to get up there.” I mention, Lyrun turned, smiling.
“It is the first few times, but it becomes tedious and disorienting. It’s because the mountain is such a safety hazard that we don’t get too many recruits. It’s why they sent me this ship three months ago.” He turned, “Future Industries, donated by Asami Sato herself, nicest ship I’ve ever seen land or sea, and Cheryl and I have been everywhere.” Naava raised an eyebrow.
“Is Cheryl your wife?”
“Daughter,” he turned away at that, as we began approaching a built on rock landing site on the mountain. It looked like a combination of metalbenders and earthbenders we needed to erect it to allow the airship to land here. Naava and I glanced to each other, with Naava turning.
“I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but this airship looks like it’s pretty fast and”- I found myself shaking as the ship landed, reaching its destination.
“And we’ve landed.” Lyrun replied with a smile, patting the pilot on the shoulder, “You two and your friend can follow me.” Naava groaned at the mention of Saren.
“He’s not my”- and the guy hurried off, “friend…” she replied as Saren eyed us from the doorway. He remained crossed with Naava with what must have been ten seconds when I stepped in with a fake smile.
“How about we go see what the nice Professor has to show us, eh?”

KOKORO POV

Cheryl was the most interesting person here. Apparently not only was she a vegetarian and a nonbender, but she was probably one of the most qualified people working here. Apparently ever since she was five years old her father had taken her to research sites all around the world, from firenation ruins to the arctic. The only place she hadn’t been was the spirit world, though that was more because the White Lotus didn’t want researchers going through there just yet.
Cheryl had done everything, helping her father track down a wolf man (turned out to be a huge insurance scheme), wind-surfed on elephant koi(apparently it washed up onto sea and Cheryl saved it, getting a free ride for a reward), and even gone three days surviving alone in a swamp(that was actually an accident). She reminded me a lot of my cousin Aimee. It dawned on me how alone she seemed, never spending much time around kids her own age. She was asking me all sorts of questions, about where I grew up and the sort.
“Is your favorite color blue?”
“Yes”-
“I knew it, so you’re a waterbender then? Which tribe, north or south? I’m guessing south so”-
“South.”
“Judging your face it looks a little curved like Firenation ladies, is one of your parents Firenation?”
“Mother.”
“Dad a cop?” I raised an eyebrow, eying her.
“How could you tell?”
“You just seem really polite and withdrawn… whenever I see daughters of cops they’re either crazy and don’t care, a little rebellious, or like you.”
“Thanks?” Cheryl smiled with a quick nod, “Well my dad was a cop, but he died.” I frowned.
“Natural causes or homicide?” I turned at that and she froze, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean…”
“It’s alright, you asked a question.” Cheryl scrunched her nose, frowning a little. “Homicide… it happened three years ago.”
“Did they catch who did it?” I heaved silently, thinking back on Abhik Nishi, when we finally caught him… I knew he was the man responsible for his death, and yet he said it wasn’t him. I didn’t believe him, and I refused to, it just brought me more closure to think that Abhik was lying.
“Yeah, they did.”
“Great…” she then sighed, eying me, “Um… my mom’s dead.” I turned curiously, “just figured I should tell you, seeing I made you talk about your dad.”
“You didn’t have too.”
“It’s okay,” Cheryl replied, “I didn’t even know her so no biggie.”  The nonbender looked away awkwardly, before glancing to the food court, “They make the best sweet rolls and I’ll get you one… stay put.” She replied, stepping away, I smiled… before turning and looking to a near alleyway between buildings. I needed to contact Javik.
I swiftly got there, looking back to make sure Cheryl stayed put, I took off my pack, opening it to find the large scale radio transceiver I was kept with me at all times(ever since becoming an agent). Kneeling down I got onto the private white lotus frequency Javik and I communicated on
“Turtle-Duck to Fox, Turtle-Duck to Fox.” I whispered.
“This is Fox,” Javik replied, oddly quick, “Go on Turtle-Duck.”
“I have followed the targets, we are currently at the EKEG Northern Air Temple excavation site, and they’re here in an attempt to get a ride to Ba Sing Se.”
“Do you know where they are?”
“Negative, but I’ll know soon enough. I… actually made a friend.” I could hear his breathing, as he didn’t seem fully interested in that last bit.
“Is this all?”
“Yes… is something wrong?”
“Nothing, just…” he sighed, “Try not to communicate with me for the next couple days, unless it’s an emergency.”
“Why?”
“Just… something’s come up, all I can say.”
“Okay… sir.” Javik sighed.
“Take care, Turtle-Duck.” The message ended and I sighed, irked somewhat by Javik’s response.  It was by then I turned, looking to see Cheryl standing there, holding two sweet rolls with her gray eyes wide an open.
“Hi… Cheryl.” I muttered, she blinked.
“You didn’t tell me you were some kind of secret agent!” I sighed, “That is what I heard right, or are you like those striker guys and”-
“Look, I”- before I could say anything, we heard something, chatter from deeper into the alleyway.
“What do you think Zatko wants to talk about?”
“I dunno, sounds big… told me to get everyone.” Cheryl and I went closer, watching as two Albatross guys were discussing their ‘orders’. “Remember, tonight at the airship.”
“Course… if it is what I think it is.” The guy smiled, “Maybe we’ll finally get a paycheck.” They approached us in the alleyway, we hurried out of it, lining by the walls as the guy casually walked away.

SAREN POV

Adrian was excited to show us the air temple ruins. We were on the mountain top, following the man into a sort of tunnel, Ivan was busy wandering the entire site, something Naava completely forgot about. Because of course she forgot about him, too busy trying to talk this guy into flying us to Ba Sing Se and getting rid of me.
“It looks like it must have taken some serious earthbending to get in here.”
“It did,” the nonbender sighed, “Heard lots of complaining from the guys we hired, but we made lots of progress.” Connor nodded.
“Must have been a lot of lava-rock.”
“It’s actually called obsidian, after the temple was destroyed by Ghazan, it cooled rapidly because of the climate.”
“Hard to believe people can actually bend lava.” I muttered, Naava turned.
“It’s not a common trait… they say one out of one hundred earthbenders can bend metal, with lava it’s like one out of one million”-
“So am I guessing you didn’t beat the odds?” I replied, Naava grimaced, looking away.
As special as she apparently was, she was no lava bender… she was not one out of a million.
“Actually when we were going to start work on this project, we had some assistance from a friend of the Avatar, showed us how to deal with obsidian… can be very fragile with the right kind of bending technique.” We stepped past an earthbender who rung his hand forward, a piece of obsidian broke apart, Naava grabbed the chunk, interested.
“You wouldn’t mind if I take this with me, right?”
“Of course not… we have more obsidian than we know what to do with.” He added, walking past a group of two earthbenders moving a thick obsidian sheet, groaning under the weight. “It’s essentially volcanic glass, very pretty though not much else… I’ve heard it makes the best arrowheads.” I noticed Naava casually playing with the obsidian, using her bending to break it apart and put it back together. Connor turned.
“How far down have you guys dug?”
“We believe we’re almost 90 percent through the temple and its various tunnels. Just recently we’ve managed to make a major breakthrough after months of no activity.” He continued leading us to a strange floor with major supports erected to protect the place from coming undone. We had reached a massive door which was closed, Adrian pushed it open, some sort of locking mechanism attached to it having been broken. We stepped in, finding an empty hall surrounded with statues… this place was the center of the entire ruin. They all were circular and covered the area.
“Woah...” Naava muttered, staring at it all, Connor nodded, while I was confused. “This room actually survived.”
“What is it?” Adrian smiled.
“This is the Air Temple’s Sanctuary, a place only to be entered by the Avatar and the council of elders back before the war… each of these statues is of a past avatar.” He explained, I looked to the front, seeing a statue of Avatar Aang standing there, he looked tall. Behind him was Roku, and then Kyoshi, Kuruk, and it continued down the line from there, stretching around the room and then upwards.
It was incredible.
“Yeah, there was one like this in Shiloh,” Naava replied, I turned, “I got a glimpse of it when I was fighting Ronin, didn’t think much on it.” Adrian smiled.
“Odd… during the Mirage incident there was a reporting that on the day of the Equinox, the Avatar incarnation statues glowed briefly… at the time we even felt the temple shake.” Naava shrugged.
“Must have been something Aimee did in the temple that caused it.” Adrian turned.
“Whatever you and your friends did in Shiloh caused some sort of spiritual reaction… I believe it must have been the re-awakening of the temple, perhaps it’s still active, despite being under all that sand.” He smiled, while I was confused. “Shiloh is as much an air temple as the one is, not too far-fetched to think… but I’m getting ahead of myself.” He turned. “This is the cornerstone of the air temple, and the fact that it survived is something that excites me… Cheryl hasn’t even seen this room yet.”
“I don’t get it,” Connor replied, we turned, “Wasn’t this sanctuary emptied out during the hundred year war by that mechanist guy and those refugees?”
“It was, but then after the war, the air acolytes set themselves to restoring these halls, finding the lost statues and creating new ones based on the ones within the Southern Temple… Tenzin will be so happy to know this room has survived.”
“So then, now that you’ve found this place,” Naava replied, “What’s next?”
“We’re preparing to transport these statues out of here, to Republic City where the Air Nation can care for them until reconstruction of the temple has finished.” The three of us turned so suddenly at that, surprised he would so clearly say-
Republic City.
“We’re actually trying to get to Republic City.” Naava explained, “By any chance… could you give us a lift?” Adrian turned at that, eying her. “That’s actually what we wanted to talk about and”-
“No.” he replied, stepping away without focusing on that, “It’ll take months to get all these statues out, unless you’re prepared to wait six months and maybe help out… I can’t really do much to help you.” Naava pouted, while Connor crossed his arms.
“Well… guess we’re still going to Ba Sing Se.”
“Yeah…” I muttered, frowning, “Guess we are.” I found myself walking away, no doubt irritated. Adrian noticed our pouty attitude, blinking.
“Was it something I said?”

KOKORO POV

Cheryl and I were quick to discuss what we heard over sweet rolls.
“You think this means they’re going to get violent, or”-
“I doubt that… they’re an oil company, not the Triple Threats.”
“I know, but it really sounds like they’re going to pull something, and it’s freaking me out.” I raised an eyebrow, “My dad has been really weird lately, I noticed him sending some airbenders to Republic City to see Tenzin, hasn’t said anything.”
“Must be really important.”
“And if Zatko is talking about ruining it, it’s swarming in my mind now.” She muttered, I smiled.
“Alright, then tonight let’s sneak in and listen to their super-secret meeting.” Cheryl turned.
“Really?”
“Yeah, I mean… what’s the point of having a spy for a friend if you don’t get to go out on stakeouts.”
“Thank you so much Taniki!” she smiled, “Oh should I say Turtle-Duck?” I groaned, returning to my sweet-role.

SAREN POV

I couldn’t help but be disappointed, finding myself sitting in an unearthed outer courtyard, it gave me a huge view of the surrounding area. It was circular, with a few levels rising in the ground, I noticed holes, likely meant for poles of some sort. There were still random pieces of obsidian and other igneous rock around us, surrounding patches of dirt with dead grass. There was a thin breeze going through, it was almost cold. I casually blew upwards, watching my a few hairs rise and fall with the sunset. I noticed Ivan was perched nearby, as if taking it in as well, I felt insecure, looking down to see almost a mile below us was solid ground. One wrong move and I could die.
I pulled out my dad’s letter again (it was easier to call it my dad’s letter since it was about him). He had always interested in airbenders, I never knew why… so this place reminded me of him.
“You’re not contemplating suicide, are you?” Naava’s voice asked from behind. I stuffed it back into my pocket. She stood there, wearing her short sleeved parka.
“Really?”
“Just needed to check.” She replied, arms crossing. “Con figured I should talk to you about something… not sure why.” I looked away, “If this is about that friend stuff or”-
“No, it’s not…” I sighed, “You’ve made yourself very clear on that.” She stepped closer, “I’m just a little disappointed Adrian isn’t helping us.” she nodded.
“It does kinda suck, but they want to do this the right way… with all kinds of security and that stuff.” I sighed.
“I’m starting to think you were right… that I was an idiot for wanting to go this way.”
“That makes the three of us.” she replied, “You’re an idiot for coming up with this plan, and I’m an idiot for coming along… and Connor’s an idiot for starting all of this.” She sighed, sitting down beside me, overlooking the excavation site. “Still though, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings about… what I said.”
“It’s fine, nothing to worry about.” I replied,
“It’s just I’m not too good at trusting people.” She replied, “I’m not sure if I can trust you quite yet.”
“Sounds like this is a recurring thing with you.” She ignored that. “Guess I’m just figuring a thank you would be nice, for saving you back there.”
“You did not save me.” She countered, “It was that armadillo wolf, not you.” I smirked.
“Really? I remember you leaning on me when we were crossing that bridge”-
“You remember wrong.”
“I must have a really bad memory, if that happened like three hours ago.” She rolled her eyes. “But then, maybe you kinda saved us for making that bridge.”
“You’re welcome.” I sighed. “Would have been more convenient if it was like an ice bridge or something.” She hinted, and I sighed. “What?”
“How many times do I have to say I’m not a waterbender anymore?”
“Well I don’t get it, didn’t Korra do her glowing eyes thing?”
“Yeah?”
“Then why doesn’t it work on you?”
“I dunno,” I replied, “I’ve tried bending countless times, hasn’t worked once… guess I’m just not a bender anymore.”
“Hell of a way to accept it.”
“I’ve been accepting it for five years.” She sighed at that, turning away and stepping back to the courtyard, pulling something from my back. My sword.
“Hey, what are you”-
“Get off the ledge, and over here.” She ordered, I sighed, “Now bartender.”
“My name’s Saren, you know!”
“Right now I’m pretty sure your name’s Quitter.” I got off the ledge, stepping back to her. Ivan took one look at the sword and flew away, probably not interested in the least of us making fools of ourselves. She held the sword with a confidence that bothered me a little. “It’s so good you brought up those armadillo wolves because when they were attacking, three times you almost took my head off with this thing.”
“Sorry.”
“I don’t accept apologies, I only accept improvement.” I raised an eyebrow, “I said I’d teach you how to fight with this, I don’t see a better place to start than here.” She metal-bent the blade, casually handing it to me. I caught it, quietly getting use to the blade’s weight.
“Here of all places?”
“Yes,” she pulled upwards towards the rock around us, pulling up a few stones and levitating them around her. She had an effortless charm to the way she earthbent, not thinking about it in the least. “I assume here you’ll think about where you’re standing as to not fall and plummet to your death.” I sighed. “Now when we start you won’t call me Naava, call me Sifu Chun.”
“Really?” She nodded,
“Yes, and along with it, you bow when I bow.” She nudged forward, bowing towards me, and eying me until I did the same. “Believe it or not, when it comes to combat I know what I’m talking about, student bartender.” I sighed, not even knowing how to argue with that.
At this rate I might as well just do as she says.
“Now get into your best stance, what do you assume sword-play is?” I obeyed, holding up the sword with my two hands, right over left. My legs shifted, bending slightly as I remained hunched awkwardly. “Hm… first off you need to stand up straight, no hunching.” I raised an eyebrow, “You seem to do that a lot… must be part of your sad-man-complex.” I tried to ignore that, leaning my spine back, straightening it, quickly rising two more inches taller than her. “Now adjust your stance, your legs need to be bent but not locked like they are, fix it.” I did as she requested, and she scowled, “No… they need to be shoulder length apart”- she bent downwards, and the ground under my feet rumbled, as my leg was quickly pushed three inches to the left.
“Don’t apply earthbending to me”-
“Don’t apply earthbending to me, Sifu Chun.”
“I’m not gonna say it.” She didn’t reply as she then looked to my arms.
“Your arms are locked too, not holding the sword correctly, lower your elbows and”- I did as she said and she grew even more agitated, like I was going out of my way to disobey… which I wasn’t. “No, you…” she grumbled, before stepping forward and grabbed my arms, bending them in certain positions to allow more movement to them. I noticed an irritated reddening to her cheeks, I could feel it as well. “There… that’s the stance.”
“Where’d you even learn this stuff?”
“My mentor taught me to fight with all sorts of weapons,” she explained, “We didn’t do much sword stuff but I did do a lot of knife-play.”
“Mentor?”
“Yeah, guy named Feron.” She replied so unnervingly, “Now… I want you to practice swinging, but maintain what I did with your arms… keep them together, not locked.” I did as she requested and she micromanaged each of my moves, dictating swift changes which I complied with. This lesson was set to revolve around sword swings, how I was to actually swing it, that’s where the obsidian came in. “Now I’m going to manipulate the obsidian the resemble arcs for you to slash, whenever I do, make the cut as seamlessly as possible.”
She went easy for the first one, having the rock layered on top of one another, I slashed down as she directed and the rock formation changed, turning into a flat arc. I swung from left to right, and she nodded, finally setting the rocks up diagonally, bottom left to top right. I started with bottom left, cutting up, but then she stopped me.
“Wrong.”
“What?”
“Never cut from bottom to top, it leaves you open because of the way you’re positioning your sword.” I frowned, “That’s a nice sword, and that’s also a good way of denting it.”
“Alright.” I did as she directed and she nodded.
“Good, you’re not as hopeless as I thought.”
“Thanks Naava”-
“Sifu Chun!”

CONNOR POV

I found myself edging on the entrance leading to the courtyard, smiling as I watched Saren and Naava bonding. I remembered one time Naava tried giving me pointers on how to bend… I thought she was full of crap and it turned out I was right. Thankfully she knew how to handle nonbending combat… I could tell by the way she interrogated that worker that she knew a lot more about this stuff than I did.
“You three look like a new group.” I turned, I turned, looking to Adrian standing there, observing.
“We are… they’re both old friends of mine.” He nodded, “We actually just started our journey.”
“Oh to be young and on a journey… nothing quite like it.” I turned, “Much different from dealing with Albatross and Zatko every day, clawing their way into my work.”
“You don’t seem to like those guys.”
“I don’t… they’re scavengers, I’d argue they were rats, but…” I smirked. “I sent members of the Airnation with messages and photographs of the statues, they’re taking them straight to Master Tenzin himself, with proof of the chamber’s existence, these firebenders will have no choice but to leave.”
“Sounds like a plan.” I replied, “Though I’ve heard about Albatross, that they weren’t doing too well… you sure it’s a good idea to just send them away.”
“If the firenation needs oil they can find it somewhere else.” He looked away, “I’ve had it with corporations trying to key in on my work… on our work.” He sighed, “I’m almost jealous of you and your group, Reina loved going to new places, having adventures.”
“Reina?”
“My daughter’s mother… I’m happy to say that streak has continued with Cheryl.”
“You’ve never said much about your wife.”
“Well, for one thing we never got married.” Adrian explained, “We never had time for that sort of thing. We did all sorts of things together, were together for twenty years when we decided to have Cheryl.”
“And what happened to her?”
“She died in childbirth…”
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright… I’ve had a long time to come to terms with it.” He replied, “In a sense, I have spent twenty years with two different women, and have come to love them both equally.” I smiled, “You’re a handsome fellow, I don’t assume you’re seeing anyone?”
“I had a girlfriend, didn’t exactly work out… I’m not focusing on anything like that.”
“And what about them?” Adrian asked, pointing to Naava as she trained Saren further. “Anyone special in their lives?”
“Don’t think so.” I turned more. “Guess it makes this all easier, nothing tying any of us down.”
“Really?” Adrian crossed his arms, “so no family?” I frowned, “Parents?”
“Not really…” he looked away. “Saren and I just came into Su Hiron, and then we were set”-
“Su Hiron?” Adrian turned, “The fishing village?” he seemed urgent.
“Yeah, we left like two days ago.”
“…Hm, well a lot has happened in the last two days.” I raised an eyebrow, confused. “Su Hiron was burned to the ground yesterday.”

THREE HOURS LATER
KOKORO POV

Saren, Naava, and Connor were staying over for the night, giving me time to entertain Cheryl’s ideas about espionage.
We had figured out an easy way to get into the airship, I used my waterbending to create ice rods sticking into the craft, about to climb when Cheryl simply took hold of a rung and swung upwards, effortlessly gliding through the air and catching another rung. I knew how to do parkour, but nowhere was I as good as she was. She offered her hand, pulling me up to another rung. We continued climbing until finally reaching the top of the airship, going through we discovered a hatch on top… standard make for all Cabbage Corp. vessels like this one was. Using my bending I managed to break the lock open, Cheryl jumped down while I went down the ladder, finding myself on top of a grate, looking down into what appeared to be the main room of the ship, where a lot of the Albatross workers were settled.
Zatko stood there, arms crossed as they looked to him.
“Do we not have permission to be here?” he then asked, everyone agreed, “and yet Adrian Lyrun and his cronies has been refusing to let us do our work, feeling it could be dangerous to his beloved temple…” the others cheered, “I for one, am sick of this anti-firebender paranoia this bull is pulling.”
“Bull?” Cheryl muttered, I sighed.
“It’s a derogatory term for earth kingdom citizen… like how water tribes are dogs and fire nations are rats.”
“But people like cows.”
“Shush”-
“And just this morning Adrian Lyrun has sent this!” he directed, showing what appeared to be pictures of something, “Relics found in his temple that are going to slow us down even further.” I could barely see the picture, it looked like a statue.
“What?” Cheryl asked, “Relics?” she turned, “He found the chamber?” she seemed disappointed, “Why didn’t he tell me?” Zatko continued.
“We couldn’t stop other letters being sent, but I refuse to let this stop us!” he explained, “Adrian is stubborn and refuses to let us work here, and he’s going to use these statues as an excuse to keep us away. We have tried to be reasonable for the past three months, but this has gone on long enough! Tonight we’re going into that chamber and trashing every one of them!”
“YEAH!” One man cheered, the others agreed.
“They’re crazy.” Cheryl muttered, I turned.
“They are kind of right.” She turned, “If your father is using this as an excuse to keep them away, even if they could still work here and help the crisis in the firenation, that’s not fair.” Cheryl frowned.
“We have to stop them, before they get into that chamber”-
“Cheryl”-
“I’m going to tell my father, he has to know.” I sighed, agreeing.
“Alright… I’ll get my friends to help.”
“Friends?”
“Er, yeah…” I sighed, “I’m kinda spying on those people you saw before me.” I frowned. As we made our way to the top of the airship, I froze, realizing something.
It was moving.
“Agh!” I fell back, hitting the grate, with Cheryl on the ladder, scowling.
“We’re taking off… we’re too late.”
“Really?” I asked, sighing, “And we have no way of telling anyone?” Cheryl didn’t seems so sure, she remained looking out, blinking.
“Wait… my dad’s ship isn’t here, I didn’t notice it.” I turned, “He’s on the mountain, he’s in the ruins!” I looked to her, “and I have no way of telling him.” I frowned, and then she remembered something, she eyed my backpack. “…hand that to me.” She replied, lowering down onto the grate and I sighed, handing the backpack to her. She opened it, pulling out my radio transceiver, studying it.
“Hm… this doesn’t have a set frequency, right?”
“Er… yeah?”
“Well, we set up COM equipment all around the site, including in tents on the mountain.”
“Do you know the frequency?” I asked, and Cheryl smiled.
“Yeah, I do.” She adjusted my transceiver, setting it to a set of numbers unknown to me, she breathed into it. “Papa Ape, this is Hog-Monkey, do you roger?”
“Papa Ape?” I asked, she smiled.
“It’s kind of our thing.” She looked back, calling for the same thing again, at least three separate times. On the fifth time, we got a response.
“Hog-Monkey, this is Red Baboon, I read you, what’s wrong?”
“Albatross is approaching the mountain, they’re going after the sanctuary… warn my father, Papa Ape.”
“Wait, what?”

NAAVA POV

For some reason Connor was off, I didn’t know why. I was quick to fall asleep in the beds Adrian offered on the mountain, usually they were intended for Obsidian benders who were working in shifts, but as Adrian wasn’t moving is airship for the night, we were happy to comply. Ivan was curled up on top of me while Saren and Connor were sharing a bunk bed. I missed sleeping in a bed, no matter how strangely it smelled. Out of nowhere a group of obsidian benders entered, waking us up and causing Ivan to become angry.
“There’s a situation, Lyrun’s called for you three.” We looked to each other unsure but accepted, I pulled on my shirt and got out of the bed, getting my boots on as my companions did the same. Ivan stuck to my shoulder as we exited, finding the Obsidian benders standing around Adrian, who seemed particularly disturbed.
He told us everything… pointing out towards the approaching airship, readying itself to land on the other strip adjacent to the one EKEG #1 sat on.
They were going after the statues.
“I know we all don’t know each other very well… and you’re a new group.” Adrian eyed Connor, “But I need all the help I can get… whether it’s sword, earth, or fire.” I nodded.
“You got it.”
The airship landed, with Albatross workers stepping outside, focused on us with their leader, a firebender named Zatko standing in the center. We approached the landing strip, eying them.
“He doesn’t look so tough.” Connor murmured. Saren rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, he’s making up for it in numbers.” We were clearly outnumbered, with the rest of Adrian’s people being all the way down the mountain… it didn’t help none of them looked like fighters. Adrian had sent a message to people in the camps to fight for the sanctuary, but because there wasn’t a third air strip, they were instead scaling the mountain. Zatko stared at Adrian.
“I’m going to ask you one last time to stand down and let us work, Lyrun!”
“Not a chance!” Adrian yelled, “This land belongs to the Air Nomads, it’s not yours to tear apart for money!” I turned, eying Saren and Connor.
“Wait, that’s what this is all about?”
“Tenzin approved of our drilling, this mountain will be just fine!”
“But for how long? The next hundred years, the next ten-hundred years? The Air Nomads never dared to mess with nature, and you have no right to do it either!” Zatko scowled,
“I’ve tried to be reasonable Adrian… but I’m at wits end with you.” His hand shot forward, a sudden arc of fire went out, Connor jumped in between, deflecting the shot and shooting more flames.
The battle was short and to the point as I pulled up cover for Saren to get behind while Connor, myself, and the obsidian benders tried fighting the off. It went nowhere very quickly as Zatko and his men pushed forward. Nonbenders with pick-axe weaponry hurried forward, attacking us. I pulled up more rock to block while Saren used the techniques I taught him only hours ago. He fought better, not by much though.
A pick-axe clang towards him, and he leaned back, before slashing in a horizontal arc, causing the miner to lose his weapon. It fell down, into the endless abyss bellow.
“Oh that’s a long drop…” I shot more rock at them, tripping them up before three firebenders focused on me, throwing me back with a sudden blast to my cover. I hit the ground and Saren approached me.
“I don’t need your help!” I replied, kicking down and pulling up more cover. I was about to lean upwards when Saren’s hand caught my shoulder, that burning sensation came back.
“Keep your head down, those guys are shooting to kill!” he frowned, “Will maybe not kill but…”
“Excuse me?” I asked,
“Er… Sifu Chun.” I smirked. Connor scowled.
“You guys can mess around later, I need help!” he then replied, shooting more stray shots towards the Albatross groups, falling back and getting help from Adrian who didn’t fight as much as he just stuck to cover. We managed to get more men as the vehicles finished scaling up the mountain, but it was no use as they swarmed us. We hurried into the ruins, well aware that we were not gonna win this fight, and yet Adrian refused to admit it.

KOKORO POV

We hid on the airship until the fighting started, leading us to swiftly making our way off of it, Cheryl angry that this was happening.
“Even then he refused to listen!” I scowled.
“Wait, you thought the Albatross guys were right?”
“Well… not entirely, but.” She frowned, “I didn’t want my dad to hear anything about what I thought.” I frowned, “We never fight, so… I didn’t want to start now.” I turned, grabbing a tossed away miner hat and shrouding my scarf around my head. Statues or no statues I couldn’t risk my cover.
“I can’t believe Tenzin actually said yes, and your dad’s still refusing, why? Why does he care so badly of what airbenders want?”
“Because my mom…” Cheryl looked away, I turned, “She was an air acolyte, always fought for what she thought was right.” I sighed, “My dad changed a lot for her, becoming a vegetarian, taking better care of himself, even starting to follow some airbender tenants. This is kind of about her, in a way…”
“Well…” I frowned, “Airbenders aren’t like that anymore, they’ve changed, like a lot of the world has, and I don’t think the airbenders would want to see these people desperate so much just to get some oil… especially if a lot of them have families who need money, and the thing keeping them from that is some land nobody’s using.” Cheryl sighed, looking away.
“You’re right.” We approached the ruins, unsure if we could even catch up with the fighting. “It’s only a matter of time before they reach the sanctuary… I know where it is, but…”
“You wouldn’t happen to know a shortcut, would you?” I asked, and Cheryl smiled.
“Funny that you ask, Taniki.” She began to lead me forward, into the ruins.
“Kokoro,” I replied, she turned, “Taniki’s just a fake name.”
“For your spy stuff I’m guessing.” I groaned.

CONNOR POV

The tunnels made it a little easier to handle these Albatross guys, but not by much, atleast it gave Naava and the obsidian benders more space to work with.
“I got it, they’re ‘Obsidi-Benders’.” Saren replied, watching as they pulled up more volcanic glass and threw it towards Zatko’s men. More pick-axe guys went right towards us, Saren avoided a swift puncture, and slashed into the miner’s protective gear, causing him to fall away as I formed more fire to throw back more and more of Zatko’s men. “I think it sounds kind of classy.” Saren smiled, I avoided another shot of fire, jumping away also from the obsidian being fired by Zatko’s couple earthbenders. More and more of the EKEG group were being defeated, falling down to the ground. Naava remained strong, throwing off more of Albatross’s legion, but it was no good.
“Fall back!” Adrian yelled once more. We obeyed, following and quickly went further into the tunnels, Obsidian benders blocking more of the attacks. We finally reached the sanctuary, Saren and I shut the doors behind us, with Naava pulling up more rock to block it.
“This isn’t gonna last long.” Naava replied, scowling, and eying Adrian, “You couldn’t just let them drill for oil, could you?”
“If you’re expecting some kind of apology, you’re not getting it.” He looked away and I sighed. “The contents of this room are priceless, worth much more than any crude substance found in the ground.”
“And yet these guys are willing to break every statue in this room if it means getting that ‘crude substance’.” Naava replied, Saren sighed.
“She’s right you know.” Adrian looked away, irritated.
“How did we even get swept up into this mess?” Naava asked, and I turned.
“Because you wanted an airship.”
“I know why, but… agh.” She grumbled. We then heard a massive bang into the doors, with Zatko’s voice at the end.
“Adrian, open up, it’s over!”
“I’ll never surrender to you, you RAT!” Adrian yelled back, and I frowned, “No offense.” He whispered.
“Whatever.”
“Then you leave me no choice… PUSH!” Naava attempted to hold back the doors but it was no use as a sudden blast of earth threw us all back, dust kicked up as the doors opened with Zatko standing there, angered. We and the obsidian benders got back up, along with Adrian staring at Zatko. “We could have shared this mountain, but your arrogance made it impossible.” I watched as Adrian got in front of the statue of Avatar Aang, not moving an inch.
Saren, Naava and I looked to each other, knowing this fight was lost… even if we kept fighting. Zatko glanced to us, realizing we weren’t going to fight, and he looked to Adrian, creating a ball of fire in his hands.
He was about to go for it, and destroy both Adrian and the first statue, when a voice yelled.
“BOTH OF YOU STOP!” we paused, confused. And then out of nowhere, a girl dressed much like Adrian popped out of nowhere, going passed the disgruntled miners, who were confused. She was pretty, and also young… I knew immediately who she was, while Saren and Naava had no clue.
“Cheryl?” Adrian asked, she looked to her father, frowning.
“Stop this now.”
“I can’t do that, I”-
“You have no right to do this dad… to let your pride take you so far that you risked the lives of all our friends and even people we just met.” She frowned, “Master Tenzin said Albatross could drill, they’ve proven it won’t hurt us in any way, so why can’t you just let them?” Zatko nodded.
“Listen to your daughter, Lyrun”-
“And you’re no better!” Cheryl turned, eying the firebender with a sharp tenacity, “Trying to intimidate us! I know you’re desperate but that doesn’t mean you put your own people at risk… that’s exactly what started the Hundred Year War, the audacity to take what isn’t yours to take without any compromise!” Zatko looked down, guilty as charged. She was on fire (figuratively). Cheryl approached her father, kneeling down.
“I know how important this is to you… but mom wouldn’t want any of this. And we have no right to force these people to leave when they have so much depending on it.” Adrian looked down, sighing for a moment.
“You’re right, Cheryl.” He stood up, stepping past us and approaching Zatko, all of his men having stood down. He offered his hand, sighing, “I’m willing to… resume negotiations if you are.” And Zatko smiled, alleviated.
“I’ve been waiting to hear that for three months.” He shook the man’s hand, smiling, the researchers and miners looked ecstatic, being brought together. Naava turned, confused.
“What the hell just happened, I thought we were all fighting five minutes ago.”
“That’s what I thought too…” Saren shrugged,
“Guess we thought wrong.” I added, Cheryl was quick to introduce herself to us, for some reason she seemed awkward, like the three of us were on her mind.
“I um… it’s nice to meet you.” She shook each of our hands, eying Naava, “Hi Princess.” Naava paused, “Thanks for helping my dad, however crazy he was…” I shrugged.
“At least it’s good to know he’s crazy about you.” Cheryl smiled. From the group of miners I noticed one who stuck out like a sore thumb, wearing gray clothing and a yellow miner hat. I was about to pay more attention when Adrian turned, approaching us. “I can’t believe you actually gave in.” Adrian smiled.
“I wouldn’t call that… giving in.” he joked, “but maybe we can come to a certain agreement about their drilling activities.” I nodded, Saren turned.
“We’re happy we could help.”
“Yes… now I need to talk about your payment for assisting me these past few hours.” We turned, “I can’t offer you a ride on our airships, but I can give you a ride through the mountains… give you less distance to Ba Sing Se…” Naava sighed in relief, while Saren turned.
“Really?”
“Yes… I’ve grown rather fond of you three, and the mountains can be very difficult.”
“Thank you so much.” I replied, Naava nodded.
“We appreciate it.”
“We’ll go in two days, give you time to recuperate and me to strike a deal.”

KOKORO POV

I couldn’t help but feel happy for the arrangement. Thankfully nobody died, and the miners were able to apologize to the researchers… including a certain father apologizing to his daughter.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the sanctuary Cheryl… I wanted to surprise you.”
“It’s okay… just thank you for listening.” She hugged him. Cheryl returned to me as her father was talking to my friends.
“He’s really excited, he’s even giving them a ride.” I frowned. “I’m pretty sure I could sneak off with a car and get you through the mountains too… might need to wait a while behind them so they don’t notice.”
“You don’t have to”-
“I want to, you’re my friend.” She smiled. “Besides, I want to get to know the real Kokoro since Taniki was a lie.” I smiled.
“Trust me, you’ve gotten to know Kokoro really well.”
Avatar Crossroads: Crucible Chapter 4
This is a Fanfiction I wrote for the OC's of :iconardnemla: and :iconquackylu: And myself.

This is honestly one of my favorite chapters to write, particularly because it honestly felt like something avatar esque, especially with the humor.

In this chapter we're introduced to Cheryl Lyrun, a main character of a future story (no she doesn't join them here). And she is legitimately fun to write for because of her personality... because she's a lot like Aimee, but has less of the baggage, she can be engaging, especially with her relationship to her father.

I also loved having the group navigate through their first real issue. It was interesting to have them ally with Adrian and his researchers, and helping despite having no clue what the conflict was actually about. It's somewhat fillery, but it helps establish new character relationships. This is also a Kokoro chapter in that she makes her first friend in the story.
The oil conflict I really liked because I got the chance to not be preachy and go "oh, drilling is bad" because I like to see both sides of the issue instead of the obnoxious liberal or ignorant conservative side (that's not to say they both have no merit).

We're also introduced to Nikta's relationship to Victoria, and I really liked seeing Victoria intrigued by the idea of killing Kokoro, because that's a lot of what she is, a hateful person who kills to alleviate her own insecurities and guilt.

We also have Saren beginning to learn from Naava, something I really enjoy because it allows more sides to their relationship... we'll see more of their relationship in the next chapter as they come into conflict with Connor.

Chapter 5 will be titled "The Great Hunt"

Chapter 3: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…

Chapter 5: COMING SOON
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Chapter 3: Cry Wolf

”Is it true that out that they can fly? That they have ships and”-
“Yes, I’ve actually been on one myself… it’s wonderful.”
“I hope I can do it someday”-
“You will son, I promise.”

He sat at the table within the White Lotus airship as it flew through the sky, an impressive display of technical prowess. The feeling of flight was uncomfortable and more or less… being here in general was hard to accept. A half empty glass of water sat towards him, vibrating every few seconds, whether it came from personnel on the ship, or turbulence. His long black hair remained in its knot, with a few frayed hairs. Javik would be lying if he said he slept like a happy child.
He fidgeted with one of the zippers on his coat. It was much like the coat he had worn as a member of the strikers, as a uniform, but changed in the slightest ways to accommodate his work for OWL. He wouldn’t be caught dead working as an agent in those robes, he could stand ceremonies, but not fighting. When he joined over five years ago, he discovered there were many that shared his thoughts on the subject of uniform. Despite her sociopathic tendencies, Maya Alrick had shown many ways for the White Lotus to modernize. Ventin Beck would incorporate at least some of his predecessor’s ideals (thankfully not the sociopathic ones).
The waterbender turned at another tremor, looking to see it was another passenger, a woman who was shorter than him, but was hundreds of times more important.
“I wondered when you’d leave your cabin.” The Avatar sat down across from him, looking fully rested.
“I take sleep when I can get it,” As he understood it, Avatar Korra had been rather busy, her time in Northern Water Tribe was actually supposed to be vacation. “How close are we?”
“We’ve crossed the border, just a matter of minutes.” He observed the woman, eying her short hair and water-tribe styled clothing, she wore what appeared to be a brown backing to her pants, held together by a belt. “Bai Zhu will be there to meet us.” The Avatar nodded at the explanation, scrunching her eyes,
“Well then, seems we have time to talk.” She expressed, sarcastically.  Javik peered away, uninterested, finding himself studying another zipper. “It’s strange,” Javik turned, “I’ve seen a lot of you in the past three months, but… I know so little about you.”
“I’d prefer to keep it that way.” This didn’t faze the avatar at all, she was used to this loner behavior… he reminded Korra of her cousins, only not as ‘playful’. “Nothing personal.”
“No I get it, you must have a lot on your mind… what with Raiko and the Strikers.”
“Exactly.” He resorted. She didn’t try to force anything out of him, she wasn’t here to do that. Korra was curious about one thing, however.
“I didn’t realize you knew Bai Zhu.”
“WE HAVE REACHED REPUBLIC CITY, PREPARING TO APPROACH COMPOUND!”
Javik stood up and the two made their way towards the bridge of the ship, to look out to Republic City.
“Never ceases to amaze me.” The Avatar smiled, while Javik was awestruck.
It was a sprawling metropolis, rivaling that of the Firenation’s capital, resting at the basin of two mountains facing the sea. The city he had recalled being in six years ago was covered with spirit vines, turned into one gigantic spirit wild, buildings overtaken by nature and spirits. At the center of the wild was a beam of yellow light, shooting upwards into oblivion… the spirit portal.
It seemed to be a spectrum of buildings nearest to the portal were in disrepair, while nearing to the edge of the land were edifices unaffected by the wilds, with people like ants moving through them. The City continued downtown, where the presence of spirit wilds was less noticed. Republic City was still the looming metropolis that his mother loved to tell him about.
To the edge of the city, nearing the actual mountains they were crossing, a massive movement to rebuild was in place… Raiko’s plan to expand Republic City was going perfectly. In the center of the new mass of buildings was an open compound… referred to as the headquarters the Order of the White Lotus’s Republic City chapter… newly opened after Kuvira’s defeat. It rivaled the size of Compound Zeta in the Northern Water Tribe.
Javik couldn’t help but be surprised by how much this city had changed since the Avatar took up residence there. Javik glanced to Korra, studying her jovial expression, it casually continued to ring in how powerful she must have been, and didn’t even realize.
The airship docked within the compound easily. The agent and his companion made their way off of it. People walked past them, stepping off and onto the ship, briefly obscuring a short old man facing the ramp. He wore the traditional uniform of the white lotus, but he looked at home in it. His hair was a grizzly gray color, meshing with his tanned skin, his eyes were a neurotic graying blue. He had a mole on the left side of his face, close to his nose… you couldn’t miss it.
“I knew you’d be late Agent Kato, didn’t realize it’d be this late.” Javik and Korra reached him, to which he noticed. “Though it must have been for good reason, convincing the Avatar to join you.”
“Hello Bai Zhu.” Korra muttered awkwardly towards this ‘old acquaintance’ “How are you?”
“Busy, but that is unavoidable as of late… which you are three hours late.” He replied, leading the two away from the airship. Bai Zhu seemed to walk quickly for a man as old as he was. “Luckily President Raiko had to cancel for today, so we rescheduled for the same time tomorrow. Thankfully he’s not as extreme as Chief Mother Malina, setting you back a month… all for nothing it seems.” Javik scowled.
“Beck tried to explain but she wouldn’t hear any of it.”
“Makes sense, I already said they wouldn’t listen because of their own misgivings about our organization as of late, but you wanted to try anyways.” Before Javik could rebuttal, Bai Zhu looked to Korra. “Agent Kato has a room to stay in, do I need to arrange a room for you, Avatar?”
“That won’t be necessary, I was planning to surprise Asami”-
“Very good.” Bai Zhu replied, uninterested. The old man paused as they reached the main office, inside was a man talking to Bai Zhu’s secretary. He was a bald middle aged man with a thin triangle like beard, garbed in a robe much like those associated with airbenders… blue arrow tattoos adorned his head, Javik was surprised to actually see him in person.
Master Tenzin, Raiko’s air nation adviser and the second most powerful airbender in the world… Korra’s mentor. Korra was also surprised to see him here, waiting for her.
“Tenzin?” The man turned away from the associate, with a smile.
“Bai Zhu called and I figured I could come pick you up.” He replied, approaching her with a hug, but she patted his arm and stepped away. Tenzin offered his hand to Javik, “You must be Agent Kato. I suppose I have you to thank for safeguarding Shiloh.” Javik shook the man’s hand, finding it calm and at peace… much removed from Bai Zhu who was ever neurotic. “Thank you for helping Aimee and her friend.”
“It’s no problem.” Korra looked back to Bai Zhu with a raised eyebrow.
“How come you didn’t tell me he was here?”
“Well, he isn’t entirely here just for you, Miss Avatar.” Tenzin turned.
“Bai Zhu requested I assist Agent Kato in discussing this matter with the President personally.” Korra lowered her bottom lip in a pout.
“I thought I was helping him…” Bai Zhu turned with a slim shrug.
“I suppose you just… how did you say it? ‘Gotta deal with it’.” The Avatar rolled her eyes at that recollection, while Javik was confused.
Was that some kind of inside joke?

MEANWHILE

“You know, when you said take the path through the mountains… I didn’t think it’d be so ‘not mountainy’.” Saren contemplated as the three walked down the path together. Naava rolled her eyes, annoyed by the former waterbender’s candor. Connor led ahead the two, eyes open as they treaded the path. They had only been travelling for what must have been a day, and he was already finding himself regretting it.
“What do you expect? The actual mountains don’t start until later, when we reach the Northern Air Temple.”
“And why exactly are we taking this northeastern path to go through the air temple when we could just walked the normal eastern path?” Connor looked back, Naava groaned.
“Because if we reach the temple, we might be able to hitch a ride and get to Ba Sing Se quicker.” Saren nodded to that.
“I for one like the idea of less walking.” He stated, studying a map they had purchased. It showed the entire earth kingdom, though he was more focused on the Northern area of it. “Hm, apparently because of the mountains, there’s not as many towns as there are in the south. Though there are a few communities up north.” He compared the map to looking left, seeing a few miles away was where the ocean started.
“How about any landmarks?” Connor asked, “See any of them?”
“Well actually,” Saren added, “it says there’s a river that we’ll cross before seeing the air temple, and”-
“Why are you even looking at that thing?” Naava asked, Saren glanced back, “We just need to keep going down the path, a map won’t really help here.”
“I know, but… I need something to do.” Naava looked away, Ivan was currently sleeping on her backpack, treating it as a sort of nest. It was the reason Connor was at the front of their ‘caravan,’ so that he wouldn’t have to deal with Ivan looking at him all the time.
The bird was very judgmental.
“Wouldn’t want to see you start pouring drinks again.” Saren dropped the map into his bag. “Connor mentioned you being a bartender.”
“Haha, were you just waiting all day to mention that?” Naava grinned.
“I might have, bartender”- Naava found herself stepping into Connor, waking up the bird on her backpack as he stood there, staring forward. “Why aren’t you moving?” Saren drew closer, and Connor pointed down the path, seeing an animal standing there on all fours, staring right at the group. “Is that a”-
“Armadillo wolf.” Connor replied, eyes tightening while Saren studied it. He looked like a dog with natural armored plating, he was gray, but with azure coloring (comparable to Saren’s eyes). He had seen pictures of the animal before, but never one up close. The armadillo wolf was bigger than dogs or even normal wolves, and it looked close to practically lashing forward.  “Nasty mutts, once saw one almost tear a guy’s leg off.” Naava blinked.
“I thought they were native mostly to Earth Kingdom forests.”
“Mostly, I suppose.” The bartender replied, causing Naava to grown. He was about to pull his sword from its scabbard, when Connor stopped him. “Maybe we can scare him off and”-
“No, if there’s one here, there’s bound to be more just waiting around the corner.”
“Yeah, they hunt in packs.” Naava added. The dog continued snarling towards them, stepping off the path, still focusing on them. “We just need to stand our ground and walk away.” She whispered. The wolf stepped further from the path, giving them space to continue walking forward. Ivan was the only one not frightened by the concept of this animal… then again he could fly. So as they nearly got away, Ivan let out a loud-
“KAWH!”
“Seriously?” Connor asked,
“ARF ARF!” The armadillo wolf barked towards Naava’s pet, about to edge forward when Saren shot in-between, arms raised, using his height to his advantage.
Despite his status as a nonbender, he looked like more of a threat to this dog than his companions (and the bird) did.
“Move you idiot, that thing will eat you!” Naava whispered hoarsely… Saren ignored her, eying the dog.
“Just move, give us some space.” He replied, Connor raised an eyebrow, “This guy looks different”-
“Saren, you’ve never even seen one in person, let alone”-
“Just trust me, okay!?” The brunette added, Connor sighed, before grabbing Naava’s hand and pulling back, Ivan screeched again, but Saren broke the distance once more, pausing the animal. “Um… he-hey buddy…. It’s okay, it’s all fine.” He replied, “Nobody’s here to”-
“ARF!” it screeched again, quickly forcing the two friends to doubt their companion… and Ivan just didn’t care. Connor was about to intervene with a fist full of flames when Saren caught him again. The dog seemed to become use to seeing the bartender, taking him for less of a threat. It’s then Saren heard something, a groaning. Connor turned, eying Naava.
“Really, you’re hungry after all you ate for breakfast?”
“That wasn’t me you jerk.” Saren turned from the bickering, eying the dog.
“So you’re hungry then.” He made the connection, from his pocket he pulled something, a small piece of meat, wrapped in opened plastic. The dog became extremely curious about this new arrival, just starting to smell it. He realized it was seal meat. “Y-you want some?” the dog blinked, before Saren removed the meat from the plastic, tossing the piece to the grass in front of him.
“ARF-ARF!”
“It’s for you!” Saren then added, and the dog looked down, almost drooling on the salted meat, with a sharp bite he began to eat, excited. Saren smiled as the dog turned his guard down. “Yeah… yeah you’re a good boy.”
“Kawh!” Ivan went again, jealous of the food being given away, while Connor and Naava remained fixated on their companion. The armadillo wolf was trusting of Saren, finishing up the piece and sitting down on his hind legs. He panted with a happy look that looked oddly dopey. Saren was just about to pet his new friend, when Connor grabbed his other arm, pulling him away.
“Connor!” Saren complained, while the dog seemed a little disappointed to see him go so soon.
“Sorry Saren, can’t risk you getting rid of more of our food.” Naava nodded.
“Yeah, maybe you can come back and let him eat you after I get you to Republic City.” Saren pouted, watching the dog remain sitting there, disappearing from sight.
That was the first friend he had made on this journey, and wouldn’t be the last.

MEANWHILE

Javik found his arms crossed, eying Bai Zhu as the Avatar left with her mentor… they had a quick discussion over Raiko, but that was it.
“He’s on our side, right?”
“Of course he is,” Bai Zhu replied, finding himself settling at his desk while Javik sat across from him. “Raiko will listen to reason, and that’s what Tenzin provides.” Javik raised an eyebrow, “You don’t believe he’s committed to the cause?”
“A few months ago, last time I saw you, you weren’t.”
“That’s because I believed with Abhik Nishi behind bars, the threat was finished, but now with this sudden resurgence, this Silas Akiko… you haven’t met him, have you?”
“Never got the chance, Abhik was very particular about who got to meet his benefactor. I may have been his friend, but…” Bai Zhu nodded with a sigh. “Something wrong?”
“I suppose I should be thanking you for putting your protégé into the Northern Water Tribe to reveal Maya’s doings… though now that’s all into the light, it has damaged our standing very much so.”
“I’m sure Shiki didn’t intend for that.”
“Oh I’m certain of that… it’d just be more convenient to have the world on our side right now.”
“I suppose the other Directors share your sentiment.”
“They do… Lord Zuko has never let public opinion get to him, but the others… including the Republic’s new Director Lao, feel they are being cornered by anti-lotus sentiment.”
“How have the other world leaders been reacting?”
“King Wu couldn’t care less… he’d rather focus on his dream of the Earth Kingdom becoming a democracy. Unless the Strikers are marching on his front door he won’t move a finger… though his advisor and Firelord Izumi are more sympathetic, but the firelord is still maintaining her stance on having no boots on foreign soil, much like Malina and her children… at least we have Tonraq’s support.”
“Good to have half of the Water Tribe on our side…”
“There’s actually been report in the South of a private research facility having been attacked by the strikers… hidden in the everstorm, around the time frame of the attack there had been sightings of a firebender who bent green fire.”
“What kind of research would bring Silas to the Southern Water Tribe?”
“I don’t know, but he wasn’t alone… we found these in the snow, lost.” Bai Zhu tossed a few photos forward, revealing what appeared to be kunai knives. “Clearly purchased in bulk from the firenation, all former identification has been wiped away, apart from this.” Bai Zhu pointed towards writing inscribed to the knives… “She-Wolf.” Javik scowled, “Clearly Victoria Nase has been busy, and may know a thing or two about this attack.”
“It’d fit her MO, she hates waterbenders, always has.” Javik turned, “So this attack was just discovered?”
“Yes, all identification of the base has vanished, burned away, all that’s left is an empty structure… no bodies… we dated the attack to have happened maybe one or two months ago.” Javik scowled, “Perhaps I shouldn’t have told you about this,” Javik turned, “You need to focus on our talk with Raiko.”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Something seems off about you,” Bai Zhu then replied, “You have something on your mind… speak.” Javik looked away.
“It’s just… even if we do get Raiko’s help, what then?” He leaned back, “Silas is probably counting on the white lotus to try and unite against him. The fact he doesn’t have a main base of operations makes him even more difficult to track, and all these attacks spread across the earth kingdom means he’s trying to be as unpredictable as possible…”
“We’ll stop him.” Bai Zhu replied, “I don’t doubt it… though you seem to”-
“Silas is a Conduit, a mortal link between the realm of man and spirit, he’s no doubt been preparing for years, while we’re waving around blindly… he’s not one to give up.”
“Yes, there may be a cost, but we’re not ones to give up.” Javik turned, breathing staggered.

”What have we done?” He asked, staring at the burning compound while their leader didn’t turn.
“We did what we had to do… so they can’t hurt anyone ever again.” Ronin uttered.
“We killed them all.” He continued.
“Do you miss living under their boots?” Ferris contributed.
“Of course he doesn’t, he was born into it”-
“Shut up Kaiju!”
“So… we’re really free, now?” The scarred one asked, face covered by a hood, the girl’s hand caught his shoulder.
“Yes Traven, we are.”
“But… at what cost?” Javik then asked, watching as the only home he had ever known turned to ash.


“Javik?” The old man asked, causing the waterbender to turn, “You faded out, for a moment.”
“My apologies sir…”
“I was asking if you were regretting leaving the strikers at this point.”
“No, I’m not.” Javik replied, “Your people have been good to me, and to my protégé.”
“You both have proven your worth in my eyes.” Bai Zhu stood up, “you can head over to your room, try and get some sleep… you’ll need it.” Javik nodded, about to step away, before noticing something else on Bai Zhu’s desk… files he had brought with him from the Southern Water Tribe.
“What are those?”
“Oh nothing really…” the old man shrugged, “I’ve been asked to start considering a candidate to take my place.” Javik turned, surprised, “I have spent a long time as the Southern Director… after this striker business is handled, I’m looking forward to a long retirement.” Javik eyed this oddly. At no point did Bai Zhu’s age ever be considered a factor.
“I wish you luck sir.”
“Not as much luck as I wish you.” Javik was about to walk away, when Bai Zhu stopped him, one last time. “Also, I don’t know how to mention it to you, but.” Javik turned, “I know what’s on your mind.”
“…”
“I wouldn’t tell you this if it weren’t necessary for your well-being, but Takeda was put in the prison they built here… Perhaps you should see him.” Javik found himself scowling at that.
The idea to go see Ronin in prison… the same prison Abhik Nishi was in (though nobody was allowed to see him).
“What, you think I’m going to crack?”
“Better me than you.” Bai Zhu replied, watching as Javik walked away.

FIVE HOURS LATER

The group was huddled around a fire Connor built, they had finished supper and Connor took the night watch.
“Okay admit it,” Saren eyed the earthbender. “Some part of you had to think me feeding that armadillo wolf was cool.”
“Sure some small part, and the other part was raving about how much of an idiot you were.” Naava replied, Saren rolled his eyes, looking back to the fire. The earthbender girl sat toward her backpack, petting the messenger hawk.
“Well I wouldn’t have had to do it if your bird didn’t get him mad.”
“Oh don’t worry, Ivan will be punished accordingly.” Connor sighed, sitting away from them.
“Yeah right… if by punishment you mean ‘feed him more,’ than yeah… total punishment.” Naava rolled her eyes.
“Aren’t you supposed to be keeping watch?” Connor looked back while Saren remained focused on the earthbender. It was interesting to watch how the fire flickered over her face, with miniscule shadows appearing over them and over their campsite. He noticed her candor with the bird.
“Is he just your baby or something?”
“Something like that… he’s important to me.” Saren sat back, as she scratched Ivan’s plume. “I don’t have him completely just as a pet… he’s my link home.”
“To the Shen Jing?” Saren recalled Naava mentioning her home.
“Yeah… the only way I can be in contact with my family and feel safe about it… plus my brother loves the bird.”
“Oh, so you have a brother.” Naava paused, realizing she just mentioned that to him.
“Yeah… I do, not much to say on that subject. What about you, bartender… any siblings?”
“I have a younger sister.”
“Oh, what’s her name?”
“What’s your brother’s name?” Naava rolled her eyes at that, “If that’s not too much to say on the subject?”
“His name’s Lune, he’s eleven… you?”
“Nadia… should be twenty.”
“So where does she live?”
“Um… well,” Saren scratched his neck, “I’m not quite sure.”
“Wow… so when Connor talked about you being alone for five years, he also included with family.” Saren frowned. “So is she a bartender too?”
“No,”
“Good guess.” Saren looked away from her, tiring from the talk. He glanced up, noticing the moon looming down over the nearby mountains… it felt calming to look at. He didn’t know why, but it lent a feeling of relief. She rambled on about age restrictions and Saren ignored her, which she turned at. “Hello? Something up?” He turned.
“Nothing… just, thinking.” The earthbender raised an eyebrow.
“What, is that just what solitary people do, sit around and look at the moon?”
“It’s what Ryuu did all the time.” Connor then muttered, “Another old striker friend of mine”-
“I know, I met him.” Naava groaned. She found herself standing up from the fire, stretching her right arm and then left.
“I was referring that to Saren,” Connor replied, the girl rolled her eyes.
“Whatever.” She turned, kneeling to her backpack and pulling out the sleeping bag. “I’m getting some sleep, you two weirdoes can sit around and look at the stars or whatever… come on Ivan.”
Saren watched her settle away, glancing back to Connor.
“She’s a little abrasive.”
“I know, she doesn’t know if she can trust you yet… takes a while but she can be really sweet.”
“How long did it take for her to be nice to you?”
“Zero days after joining the strikers.” Connor frowned, and Saren slowly realized what that meant. “After Eron…”
“Oh, I…”
“It’s okay.” Connor looked away, “At least it means she can be nice to people.” The two looked back to Naava, she was bundled inside the sleeping bag with Ivan settled on top of her. She appeared fast asleep, with the only change in clothing being her shirt put to the side… which was something she told the two on the first night to never mess with (she directed it entirely to Saren). They could see the back of her head, with messy tatters of black hair falling onto a rugged thin pillow.
She also snored, with the bird rising and lowering at every breath.
“Shouldn’t the fact that she allows me to sleep within the same vicinity of her means she trusts me at least a little?” Connor rolled his eyes, looking away.
“No, that’s what the bird is for… he sees everything.” At that, Connor tried to sound spooky, “Or me whenever I mess up.” As Saren turned back, he realized that Ivan wasn’t even focusing on himself, he was staring straight at Connor.
“That bird really hates you.”
“Yes, he does.” Connor replied, watching as Saren stood up, “You going to bed?”
“I think so… we should reach the air temple by tomorrow.”
“Sleep tight.” Connor looked away, “Something tells me that tomorrow’s gonna be a long day.”

MEANWHILE

He couldn’t take in what he had just witnessed… he couldn’t comprehend it, watching their handlers put down so many of the people he had grown up knowing. His mother hid him away, trying to help others who wanted no part in this.
And now after it was all over, and the guards were victorious, he searched franticly for her.
“Mom? Mom!?” The boy asked, diverting his eyes away from the people on the floor who didn’t wake up. As he continued pacing, he looked forward, seeing a girl with short platinum blond hair kneeling at one of the bodies, obscuring its face. “Naomi?” the girl turned back to him, a few thin scars covering her delicate face. She was two years younger than him, and had actually seen some of the outside world, she was close to his mother.
“Javik…” She muttered, gray eyes communicating everything. “I…” He looked past her, seeing the woman on the ground, on her arm was a brand just like the ones they had. The boy recognized this to be his mother, he edged past his friend, kneeling beside the woman, hand confusedly scraping her cheek. The woman was faint, barely heaving.
“Mon, say something, mom”- Her brown eyes blinked evenly.
“It’ll… get better... I promise” she whispered, falling to the side, as if the light had faded away. Naomi tried to grab for his shoulder, but he didn’t notice, feeling his face beginning to well up.
“Please don’t”-
“She’s gone.” The girl replied, “She saved me from-” the girl teared up solemnly, trying to hug the boy, “I’m so sorry… Javik I”-
“Mom!”


Kato woke from the nightmare, hands shaking and brow sacked with sweat. Sleep had never been easy for him, it was as if he watched the same moment every time he closed his eyes… or some variant of the place he had spent the first twenty-three years of his life. He couldn’t forget the look on Naomi’s face, how she tried to be strong for him.
He remained sitting up, hand gripping his forehead with a groan… thinking of what happened to her, how she died only less than a year ago… his mother’s sacrifice proved in vain. He found himself looking away, studying the moon as it gleamed out towards him… a slim crescent high in the sky.
He never liked the moon, despite the extra strength it gave his bending. He looked away, thinking on Bai Zhu, the only person beside Kokoro in the White Lotus who fully knew about the first three fourths of his life… about how he was a slave. The moment he told Bai Zhu roughly four years ago, a bond had formed between them.
It was because the old man was mortified, knowing a child would grow up the way Javik did.
”The past can’t hurt you anymore… you need to let it go.”
“I can’t.”
“You must… or it’ll destroy you. The same way it destroyed Ronin Takeda…”


SEVERAL HOURS LATER

The president was quick to shake his hand as he entered the new capital building. The old city hall had been overtaken even further by spirit vines, so a new one was erected… Raiko was happy to no longer have a tree in his office. Javik was surprised to see how well kept the President was, he wore a purple colored suit over a bright yellow dress shirt, with a pin on the hemmed edge of the suit. Pants were also purple, and oddly enough it meshed well with the man’s glasses, sitting on top a thick mustache.
“It’s good to finally meet you, Agent Kato.” Javik nodded,
“You too, sir.” Bai Zhu, Tenzin, and Korra sat in separate chairs, facing the president. “I apologize Director Lao couldn’t be in attendance.” She was actually busy in the Firenation, assisting Lord Zuko with a domestic matter.
“It’s no issue, Buttercup always wanted me to get out and meet new people.” Clearly a joke, Raiko likely had much on his mind, “Now… about these strikers?” Javik nodded.
“For the past five years the Striker movement has slowly risen all across the world, it was started by Abhik Nishi, now a prisoner at CetreMax.” Raiko nodded, “However, after Nishi’s imprisonment, the threat hasn’t quelled, and now they are being led by a man known as the Dragon, Silas Akiko.”
“Son of Arturo Akiko, the former firenation industrialist.” Tenzin added, “Silas has used his inheritance to create the Purist Strikers, a group dedicated to undoing Avatar Aang and Lord Zuko’s work over the past seventy years, and with Abhik out of the picture, he’s bringing a major focus to the Earth Kingdom and parts of the Republic.”
“I recall,” Raiko replied, “What are his intentions?” Korra looked away, arms crossed.
“He wants to change the world. Make it better.” The group turned, eying Korra curiously, “Just… that’s what I’m thinking, I mean.” Javik turned away.
“Akiko was partly responsible for Director Alrick’s downfall during the Winter incident, possibly doing it to damage organization. He and his group are responsible for the attacks in the Earth Kingdom and the few in the Republic.”
“That sounds about right.” Raiko replied, “Hard to imagine that a street gang would become such a problem.” Korra turned.
“Nishi and Akiko had been using the events in the past five years to raise unrest in the people”-
“I don’t understand, you’re the Avatar, can’t you just find Akiko and take him down?” Korra sat back.
“If only it was that easy, nobody knows where he is, he’s very good at keeping quiet.” Javik sat forward.
“What is it are you asking?”
“You are already having your troops dealing with protecting the border in the Republic… perhaps you can have them assist us with the western earth kingdom attacks and tracking down Akiko. We now the Republic has one of the greatest fleets in the world, and I’m sure General Iroh could help us greatly.” Raiko leaned back at that, studying Javik.
“I’d be inclined to agree with your proposal.” Javik was up, “but”-
The door leading into the office shot open, Lin Beifong stood there in her metalbender uniform, frantic. Two officers stood beside her. Javik had recalled passing by her, but suddenly he noticed a radio in her hand.
“Lin?” Tenzin turned, the cop heaved quietly.
“Mr. President, someone’s broadcasting to our radios, we can’t stop the message.” Korra stood up.
“What message?” Everyone became frantic, eying the metalbender. On officer approached Raiko’s side protectively. Lin turned the radio on, dropping it on the table. Javik sat forward at the sound of static… Raiko was alarmed.
”Can you hear me? I hope you can. This is a message to those in the world who stand against the Strikers and our dream for the future.” It was an older man’s voice, maybe Tenzin’s age. ”My name is Silas Akiko, you may know me as the Green Dragon.” Javik turned.
“Who’s getting this?”
“All of the radios in the Republic… as well as areas in the earth kingdom barring Ba Sing Se.” Lin scowled. “We had been tracking a striker frequency, it’s the same one but we can’t find the source.”
“I am the one who leads the Purist Strikers, and under my leadership, a new age is about to begin.” Javik heaved slowly, “An age of peace and unity… but in order for that to happen, sacrifices must be made.” Bai Zhu crossed his arms, ”Many of you oppose us, the Avatar, the White Lotus, and many of the traitors to our organization… but we do not wish to cause anyone harm, we simply wish to cull these traitors from the herd… as we work to improve our world.”
“Traitors?” Korra asked.
”And so, I now ask you, the people of the world… to bring out these renegades, these naysayers, these rogues, to return them to our organization. These traitors hide among you in plain sight, within every city, and every village these cowards hide and put you all at risk. It’s now I make my demand, If one Striker traitor from every village is returned, than that village and it’s people will survive. If however, the village refuses, and rebels against our ‘revolution’… than it will be wiped away from existence by fire.” Beifong didn’t buy it.
“He’s bluffing.” She knew she was wrong.
”If you do not believe me, than look at the remains of the village known as Su Hiron…” the tone in the man’s voice bothered everyone. ”In that village there was a former Striker known as Crow, because of her cowardice, the village has been purged.
“He’s insane… he can’t be”- Korra sputtered off, Raiko eyed Beifong.
“Our counterparts in Ba Sing Se told us they lost contact with that village, but they hadn’t confirmed it yet.”
”Su Hiron is the example to every traitor out there, realize that those people have lost everything because of you. And if you hand yourself in… lives will be sheltered from the storm. To the world powers out there, and you know who you are… if you dare to fight back, to challenge my legions… just know that my followers will not be careful about which homes they torch… all wood burns the same way.” Raiko looked away, disturbed. ”And I have one final message, to you, Avatar Korra: ‘It’s been too long, I hope you’ve been sleeping well’.”
The message ended, leaving everyone silent, staring at one another.
Javik couldn’t believe this.
“He’s a maniac with too much power.” Bai Zhu uttered, Raiko looked to Lin.
“Call Ba Sing Se, get me on the phone with King Wu, and confirm whether what they’ve said about Su Hiron is true.” Javik looked back to Raiko as Beifong hurried off… she wasn’t typically a intermediary, but the situation was unique.
“Sir, I’m sure he’s just trying to scare you… he must have known our meeting was rescheduled, knew we’d be meeting we,”-
“Agent Kato, as much as I’d wish to continue this discussion I’m afraid the situation has changed… and we need to evaluate it.” Raiko turned away. Bai Zhu looked to the world leader.
“You can’t just be swayed by a madman’s demands, that’s giving him power”- Raiko frowned as Tenzin eyed Korra.
“Korra, what did he mean at the end, how you’ve been sleeping?”
“I’m sure it’s nothing.” Korra lied, “Just trying to freak me out.” She looked back to Raiko, “But please don’t turn your back on the strikers, not like you did at Harmonic Convergence.” Raiko huffed, “Whatever Akiko threatened, he won’t stop there, and the United Republic needs to be in this fight now more than ever.”
“Regardless… until we figure this out, we can’t risk departing to foreign soil, not if his demands are true.”
“Does he really have the resources to burn down every village?” Tenzin asked, Javik nodded.
“He does, I know that for a fact.”
“Why?” Raiko replied, Javik frowned.
“Because I am one of the traitors he wants.”

SAREN POV

I found myself being shaken awake by Connor, a wave of confusion overtake me as I groaned.
“Sorry for sleeping in, I”-
“Not that!” he replied, and I looked outwards from our camp, noticing something… a group of animals circled around our camp, Naava was up, hands raised, maintaining an earthen barrier, keeping them out… but not for long. “We have company.”
I realized the group numbered maybe forty dogs… armadillo wolves.
“When did they show up?”
“Like ten minutes ago!” Naava replied, stamping down to shoot another back, “HEY!” she yelled. As I got up, Connor had been in the process of putting camp away, he had even taken care of some of my stuff before bothering to wake me up.
“ARF-ARF-ARF!” the Armadillo wolves screeched, intimidating us as Naava continually held them back, she looked close to running out of energy…
It didn’t help that Ivan (who was on his master’s shoulder) was currently screeching towards the wolves. I pulled my coat and shoes on, as while Naava turned.
“You just had to feed one of them, didn’t you?”
“This isn’t my fault!”
“Yeah right,” Naava replied, “When they got here they were sniffing around for seal jerky, Ivan actually caught them before I reacted.” I pouted, while Connor shook.
“We don’t have time for this,”
“Yeah, I know!” Naava sassed, bending urgently again and again. I picked up my backpack, looking to Connor.
“What are we gonna do?”
“The only thing we can do,” Naava replied, “Run.” I frowned.

MEANWHILE

Javik found himself walking out of the office, past Raiko’s security with Korra following him. Beifong had confirmed Su Hiron’s destruction. Bai Zhu was trying to urge Raiko to reconsider in their proposal, but Javik knew which way the wind was blowing.
Until the United Republic had a full grasp of the situation, they were not acting. And even if they knew, Javik didn’t believe Raiko would act.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He lied, while Korra crossed her arms.
“I guess it makes sense why you’re in charge of this… you know how they operate.” Javik looked away. “Have you heard from Kokoro, is she alright?”
“Yes, last time I checked she got out of Su Hiron fine… but this news about that village…” Korra sighed, nodding her head. “I didn’t think Silas would bring back purging. But still, thank you for your help.” An eyebrow raised. “It might not have panned out, but atleast it’s good to know Raiko is taking this seriously.”
“What will you and Bai Zhu do?”
“Since the White Lotus doesn’t respond to any government, no doubt we’ll try and assist these striker traitors.”
“So like Makoto?” Javik nodded, turning away, “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know… somewhere else.” He was about to walk off, when Korra said something.
“You know… Ronin told me about you,” Javik paused “When I visited him, months ago, he said you two had history. Didn’t go into details….”
“What are you saying?”
“You seem to have issues, maybe it’d help you if you faced them.” Javik frowned, “Just some advice, from one hero to another.” Javik left, thinking over what she said.
“I’m no hero, but… thanks.”
Maybe it was time that he went in to see him, to see Ronin.

CONNOR POV

As quickly as Saren was settled, I watched as Naava shook, and fell to the ground, exasperated from her bending. The Armadillo wolves got in, howling like mad. I shot three percussive blasts of fire towards the wild animals while Saren knelt down beside Naava.
“You okay, need someone to carry you?” he joked, offering his hand. Naava ignored him, standing up and bending more rock, firing it towards the wolves (who evaded). We began running with Naava in the front, Ivan flying above us, Saren with his sword in the middle, and myself in the back, throwing more fire towards the wolves… I kicked one away from Saren while he attempted to cut at another, blindly missing. I kicked the wolf away, throwing more fire towards its brethren.
We were frantic, making more distance between us and the armadillo wolves, who were already faster than us.
“How many are there?” Saren asked, Naava kept running.
“I’m not gonna risk turning to find out!” I already knew, having begun counting.
There were forty of them… all coming out of nowhere with more ahead of us. This was a trap, to catch breakfast. Naava well ahead of them, making swift kicks as she ran to create more pillars of rock around the path we ran down. Saren thankfully could keep up, though he was slowest of our group.
“So… this is my fault then?”
“Pretty much,” Naava replied, and Saren scowled,
“Fine, but… which of you has my jerky?”
“Now’s not the time for snacking, idiot!”
“Just trust me, okay!?” He asked, and Naava groaned, turning and handing another piece of plastic to him. From there, Saren swiftly tossed the plastic wrap away, which the armadillo wolves went right after, several of them turning away. Saren smiled while Naava sighed.
“Guess you’re not as stupid as I thought.”
“That might be the nicest thing you’ve said to me today”-
“Don’t push it.” Ivan continued to fly above us screeching… warning us whenever there was another group of dogs. As we continued running, Ivan screeched, another group of armadillo wolves came at us in the front. Naava dug her hands downwards, pulling up more rock and throwing it at them, which most jumped around. “These dogs are smart.”
“And VERY HUNRY!” I stressed. A wolf was about to reach Naava when Ivan swept towards it, beak picking at his head and forcing the dog to the ground.
“So what’s why we keep him around?” Saren replied, Naava groaned.
“Still doesn’t explain why we keep you around!”

NAAVA POV

We kept running for what must have been the longest time, I was slow enough so that Connor and the bartender could keep up, but fast enough that I could handle these armadillo wolves. Their plating made the attacks much more difficult to actually damage… especially with how ravage they were. Ivan screeched again, lowering to my shoulder while Connor shot three more blasts into the dogs. The weak ones fell, as more continued.
“How do we shake them!?” I demanded, Connor turned.
“The only thing they don’t like is water! It gets between their layers”
“And just brilliant our waterbender is a washout!”
“Awe come on!” Saren complained, another dog jumped to him, and he hit it with the sword’s blunt side, like a fly-swatter. He had no idea how to handle that thing, I was lucky he hadn’t cut my throat on accident. It was then Ivan shot off of my shoulder, flying forward. “Where’s he going!?”
“I don’t know!” We kept running, with myself glancing towards an armadillo wolf in the distance, it didn’t seem apart of this pack, at least not currently. “But we can’t run forever!”
“Is that some quip about standing our ground?” Connor asked, I smirked.
“I wish!” I was heaving, struggling to keep running, I had lost so much energy protecting our camp from these filthy scavengers. I saw something as we kept running, far in the distance. “A river!” I exclaimed, it looked somewhat deep but…
“Alright, water!” Connor replied, “Never thought I’d be so happy to see water again!” Saren glanced towards him, “No offense.” We kept running, with Connor running past me, I shot more rock towards the beasts, but they kept coming, ready to try and tear me apart.
I kept running, finally we made it to the water, which we noticed had a strong current to it.
“If we get in there, we’ll get washed away!” Connor yelled, and I turned.
“Hold them off for a moment.” Connor obeyed, getting back into combat mode while Saren eyed me.
“Sure you have the energy for it?”
“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.” I dug downwards, gripping the rock under the river, pulling upwards. With tight focus, a long bridge of rock rose, disrupting the river. “CROSS!” Connor did so, followed by Saren. I ran with them, looking back to the armadillo wolves, who all paused, unsure about crossing.
And then I tripped.
I was halfway across when I fell down, my legs felt as if they were on fire, giving out.
“Naava!” Saren replied, I scowled, trying to move but I couldn’t.  I looked back to the armadillo wolves, as they started to cross. The nonbender turned and reached me, trying to help me up when I scowled.
“I don’t need your help, I”-
“And that’s crap… come on.” I groaned, allowing him to help me up. I leaned on him as he helped me across the makeshift bridge.
The sun must have been really hot or something, I felt like my cheeks were burning.
It was all in vain when the dogs were about to reach us. Out of nowhere the dog I had seen working against the pack appeared, eying Saren before swiftly attacking the front dogs, pushing them into water and causing them to squeal unhappily.
“Thanks buddy…” Saren muttered, and I scowled.
“Just get me across.” Namakura obeyed, getting me to the other side, where Connor was busy throwing more fire towards the dogs. More were falling into water while the random one kept holding up the pack. He saw we got across, and started making his way through the bridge. The moment the random armadillo wolf got across, I stamped down and ended the connection, the river returned to normal with all the other dogs falling into the water, irritated. I knelt down, tired, while Connor blinked, eying the dog that got across… who was smiling towards Saren.
“Is that the same dog from yesterday?”
“Told you guys it was a good idea.” Saren smiled, I rolled my eyes… The bartender was quick to pet the dog, smiling. After roughly a minute the armadillo wolf turned and following the river, disappeared. “See you later!” Saren smiled, I sighed.
“Color me impressed…” I took a few minutes to catch my breath, when Connor observed the river.
“Wait, Saren… didn’t you say we’d cross a river?”
“Yeah?”
“That means…” I turned.
“The air temple.” Saren was about to offer to help me up again when I managed to stand. “I don’t need your help.” The bartender accepted, turning away. We returned to the path, making our way past the end of a mountain that was blocking was before us.
Our eyes widened at what we saw, at the base of the base mountain were trucks and other cars surrounding it. It was a large mountain in the range, covered on the top by strange rock, like the kind left over after a volcano explodes. It was like the pictures I had seen. It looked a lot like an excavation crew, surveying the remnants of the lost temple.
For some reason it reminded me of home.
“Woah…” Connor muttered, and I agreed.

MEANWHILE

Javik was surprised how easily they allowed him into Cetremax Prison, letting him in only with a name. It was ran by both the Republic City government and its White Lotus chapter. Kuvira and many of her generals became its first prisoners, but much had changed within the past five couple years. The prison was built after the end of the Earth Empire, intended to be used as a prison to hold the world’s most dangerous inmates. It was one the largest new structures built, massive in size, it held a rectangular open area meant for prisoners to get exercise. It was one of the most heavily guarded places on the planet. This place held several names that were very familiar Javik, like the equalist leader known as ‘the lieutenant,’ Shuji Sakamoto of the famous shipping company with equalist ties. There was also Sonya Kalros, the former heiress turned psychopathic natural bloodbender of the Northern Water Tribe, Abhik Nishi, the former leader of the Purist Strikers(who responded poorly to interrogation), and finally Ronin Takeda, the mastermind behind the Shen Jing Civil War, also known as the Mirage incident.
There were countless other prisoners, but those were the main ones Javik thought on.
As the guard led Javik through an elevator, he eyed another meant for prisoners, seeing a pale woman in an orange jumpsuit with short black hair eying him, before looking away with a snarl.
“Don’t mind her, she’s totally powerless behind this glass, lined with lead… and they chi-blocked her for good measure.” The man at the elevator said.
“I didn’t realize lead glass could stop bending.”
“Something they discovered after the war… lead can cut the links between the person and the element… unfortunately it’s still earth, so it can be bent.”
“Convenient.”
“Everything has its drawbacks…” The elevator stopped and Javik reached his floor. The guard was about to follow when Javik stopped him, vying for privacy. “Of course sir.” Javik stepped past him, walking forward and past some unsavory individuals in platinum cells. They had did not have glass windows, instead they had bars of platinum, weaved together to make the prisoner visible. This was the Earth kingdom/bender floor, maintaining control over the most structurally dangerous inmates.
He finally settled on the last cell, looking in it to find someone sitting there, a man four years younger than him… who Javik had known all his life.
He had short brown hair, looked almost gray, he seemed to go to great lengths of keeping it short, his eyes were a dangerous green color, and clothing was the same as the woman Javik passed, except this one’s sleeves were missing, torn off… revealing a tattoo over his left arm, it looked almost like a bracelet, but familiar. On the back of his neck was another tattoo, detailing a number, completely different from his other identification.
He was prisoner 572, according to a bar on the wall.
”Takeda, Ronin L. Age 27, Si Wong Desert.
The prisoner had an uninterested look, like he was bored out of his wits. He had suffered a broken arm, but it had finished healing. Platinum cuffs caught him, limiting his movement in the cell… if anyone had slipped him any rock, he had no hope of actually breaking out, unless it was a lot of rock. Finally the younger man turned, glancing to Javik, his eyes the same cold he had known since he was twelve years old.
”I’m Javik.” He replied, eying the new slave… the boy was eight years old, the same age Javik was when his mother died… consequently, this boy too lost his mother.
No, lost was too positive a word… Ronin was betrayed by his mother.
“S-she’s gonna come back for me…. She promised.” The child looked down, hands shaking, fidgeting… a fidgeting Javik was used to.
“I’m sure you’re right,” the older boy replied, “But until then… I think you should meet my friends.” His hand grasped the boy’s shoulder, and the earthbender boy gave in, allowing himself to be led by the older one.
“Ronin…”
“What?”
“My name…”
“Nice to meet you, Ronin.”


“I had a feeling you were alive.” The first thing Ronin uttered, looking at Javik. “Seven”-
“It’s Javik.” Ronin looked away. “I thought about seeing you, for the longest time.”
“Have you now? What could warrant a visit?”
“Curiosity… concern.”
“You never cared about me,” Ronin replied, looking away, “You were like my mother… only looking out for yourself”-
“You were my brother, Ronin… and even now that hasn’t changed.” Ronin didn’t dare look him in the eye. “I thought that maybe… seeing you like this, will help me accept what had happened.”
“You think seeing me in prison would help you accept that Naomi and others are dead because of you?” Javik looked away. “You’re just as foolish as the Chun girl, only she learned to move on.”
“Naomi’s death wasn’t my fault”-
“You organized it all, all to defy me… had your Wolf and Crow kill them while you just hid like a Fox.”
“They chose their destinies, it wasn’t mine to decide.”
“Sure, the same way your mother’s death wasn’t.”
“You didn’t even know her”-
“I don’t need to, to know that it haunts you every night… who did you dream about this time? Naomi, or her?”
“…”
“You bore me, Javik… thinking you’re so high, and above me.”
“Well I am the one who’s not behind bars.”
“From my perspective you are.” Ronin replied, Javik turned. “The walls are closing in, I heard the murmurings from a man named Nishi… he says if ‘Dragon’ has any intelligence, he’ll kill you.”
“I bet you feel so jealous, being stuck here while I die.”
“A little…” Ronin sighed. “But at least it means I’m not dead… you made sure that didn’t happen.” Javik turned, surprised. “It first started when Chun asked me how we didn’t die with Shiloh… and now seeing you here puts it all together.”

The city was crumbling, with sand streaming down and earthquakes shaking. Javik moved with a slim limp, walking towards one of the stone elevators. He was wearing the uniform of one of Ronin’s Outcast soldiers, the hood hid him well. He watched as a sudden light erupted between two individuals… two earthbenders, a man and a woman battling for the heart of this desert. The woman had won, but sacrificed herself to ensure her friends’ safety.
He had watched as the elevator went up, as Ronin screamed out, a strange apparition passing from his body, fusing with the bright contents of a broken stone.
The Mirage stones, born of Keshon Arteoh, one of light and the other of darkness, fusing together to create a spirit. The combination went upwards, supporting the elevators, and protecting the group as Shiloh fell apart.
Wincing in pain, Javik reached the two bodies facing the elevator, they only had maybe minutes until the entire cave went undone. And there Ronin laid, on the ground, across from him was the Chun Princess, Naava. They both were murmuring in their sleep
He found himself looking away, eying another elevator, primed to leave.
Kneeling down, he pulled the two beside him, laying them down into the elevator, starting it.
Chun wasn’t ready to die here… and he couldn’t bring himself to allow Takeda to die either. The elevator began to rise with the three in it, there were still a couple others making their way up.
He couldn’t allow Ryuu and friends to know he survived.
He used his waterbending to pull himself to one of the elevators, discovering passed out soldiers. He lowered onto their bodies, remaining quiet as the elevators reached the top, watching the city fall apart.
The Chuns found him and the other soldiers, and he escaped during the sentimental reunion between Naava and her younger brother.
Only one other person knew what was happening, and she was too overjoyed that Naava was alive to even notice.

“You saved us…” Ronin murmured, “Why?”
“Does it really matter?” Javik asked, and Ronin breathed silently.
“It matters to me… and it’ll matter to Chun.”
“Let’s just say I’ve grown somewhat attached to her. And with you… I figured you should pay for your crimes.” Javik turned away.
“So when will you pay?” he paused, “I may be a war criminal, but that doesn’t suddenly make you a good person either.” Javik heaved silently, eyes away. “That’s what I thought.” He walked away, knowing no way to respond.

Hours later he found himself in his assigned apartment, thinking.

Javik couldn’t help but reflect poorly on what Ronin had said to him, it irritated him, angered. Mostly because he knew he was right, that was the one thing Ronin did well, he read people perfectly. As he stepped through the compound, he discovered the bedroom he used… oddly enough, the door was unlocked.
He studied it confused, noticing slight cuts into the lock, like the kind left by a lock-pick. Javik entered, pausing as he saw someone standing in the room.
A woman with slim black hair, pale skin and red eyes. A three pronged tattoo rested over her chest, clearly designating who she was. She wore black pants with a red tank top covered by a black corset.
“Hello, mutt”- Javik shook, quickly pulling water from his satchel, the Striker flowed forward, edging into Javik and thrusting fingers at several of his pressure points.
The water splashed to the ground as did Javik, chi-blocked. Confusion overtook him, as he then noticed to his side was what appeared to be a stolen White Lotus uniform.
“I wanted to surprise you in that, but it was too baggy, too much of a hindrance so I took it off.” She explained, referring partly to how low cut her top was… she used sexuality as a weapon “I hope you can control your lust.” She tempted, Javik looked away.
“I’m guessing Silas sent you?”
“Good guess.” She replied, taking a few steps, “It was harder to track you now that the White Lotus knows our techniques… I actually had to sneak onto your ship, I had to contact my friends when I learned you weren’t having your meeting yesterday.” Javik heaved, irritated.
“So I was right… he was planning to send his message it during our meeting.”
“Well aren’t you bloody clever… bums me out I can’t kill you yet.” Javik scowled.
“Not something I’d expect from you, the most vicious agent the strikers have ever had, She-Wolf.”
“Cute, you remember me… sorry I’m not into dogs.” She explained, eying a knife in her hand, casually tapping it to Javik’s neck, it smelled of poison.
“Trying to scare me?”
“As if, you’re already scared, that’s why you’re here in the first place.” She looked away, “I’ve come with a message, Dragon thinks it’s been high time that you two meet.”
“What does he want with me?”
“I have no idea.” She remarked, hand casually playing with her silky black hair. “Between the two of us, you’re just as unknown as that mutt from two months ago… what was his name, Lou, Lory”- Javik recognized the name, knowing what she meant.
“Lorik.” Javik muttered, “Lorik Namakura… he was the one in the Everstorm?”
“Can’t talk about that hon, just know it’ll be the only way you can save that town.”
“What?” Javik turned. “What are you”-
“Come to Shaylim… tell nobody, if the white lotus gets a single lick of what I just said, the city burns.”
“How do I even know you’re telling the truth? It’s obviously a trap”-
“Sure… but you wouldn’t sacrifice countless lives to assume I’m lying, would you?” And like that, she turned away, pulling back on the uniform, “You have two weeks to show up… and if you don’t, Shaylim will be purged just like Su Hiron. Make sure to not cry wolf about it, Fox.” She shuffled out, leaving Javik alone with his thoughts. He slowly gained his movement back, using it to stand back up. He couldn’t bend, but he could contemplate what had just happened.
Silas’s interest in Saren Namakura suddenly made more sense… he captured his father. Was it possible Lorik was still alive?
Regardless, Javik had a problem.
If Silas wanted a fight… he’d bring it, though he’d need help.
A new friend of his came to mind.
Avatar Crossroads: Crucible Chapter 3
This is a Fanfiction I wrote for the OC's of :iconardnemla: and :iconquackylu: And myself.

This was a more difficult chapter to write as it required elaborating on Javik's backstory, re-introducing Korra characters, giving the group a chance to team-build, answerring lingering questions from Mirage, and also set up new characters and threats. At first I didn't like this chapter, but after editing it some more, I'm much happier with it. (originally Raiko would have heard the message an hour beforehand, but that would have been too forced as Javik should have also known).

I really liked elaborating on Javik's own backstory, learning about his time as a slave. I had completely forgot in Mirage that his mother had final words, so I made sure to include them. I also liked bringing back the Desert Hollows, for however brief it was. Javik had a lot to do in this chapter, so I was especially happy with him seeing Ronin and giving us answers to the circumstances of his survival. Basically a bunch of outcast soldiers rushed them and their friends to elevators to escape, and Javik made it to one of the elevators ahead of Naava and Ronin's who he had saved.

This chapter also introduces Bai Zhu to the story, who is the unnamed White Lotus leader from first episode of Legend of Korra He discovered Korra and I was always a little irritated that he never showed up again. I named him Bai Zhu, which means "White Master" but that is not meant to be a racial thing, it's just a reference to his role in the white lotus... and I felt the name fit. Anyways he's an important character in this story, especially in his relationship to both Javik and Korra.

We also see some development in the group's relationship, as they essentially go through a deadly trust building exercise. I always love their banter. Also I wanted it to be armadillo wolves in reference to the same creatures being in the first ATLA video game. The wolves are also a reference to the title of the chapter, Cry Wolf... as is Silas's threat to the nations, as it can be perceived as blustered rhetoric. The title is also a reference to Victoria's appearance, who is known as the She-Wolf.

This will be an important part as Javik will have his first run-in with Silas and bring a new player into the game.

The next chapter might be my personal favorite of what I've written as it introduces a new friend for Kokoro, and we learn about what's been going on at the site of the northern air temple in the years after Ghazan destroyed it. Saren and Naava will begin to develop their relationship. It is titled "Amid the Ruins".

Chapter 2: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…

Chapter 4: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…
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Chapter 2: The Hawk and the Crow

I was woozy, waking up in one of the cabins of the ferry. I sat up, realizing the cabin was empty. Saren must have woken up, I wiped my brow with a frown. I never liked travelling on boats, always made me queasy.
Making my way out of the cabin and past the other random travelers I made my way onto the ship’s deck. It relied on electronic rudders to move it forward, so it moved faster than a ship equipped with sails… lessened the time to get to Su Hiron to a twenty-hour journey. I noticed it was morning, with a soft fog covering the sea… we were nearing our destination.
I saw him standing at the railing on the front of the ship, looking as calm as ever. Saren continued to look out over the water, as if perplexed by the fog. As I drew closer I took in a few parts of his clothing, much different from my usual black and red. He wore blue jeans on top of winter climate boots, his shirt was a dark sort of gray with a yellow crescent moon emblemized over it. The winter coat he had worn was replaced with a thinner white coat with blue trimming along its bottom and cuffs.
Considering it was still cold out, it made him look a little awkward in this fog, but I realized it didn’t even phase him. His messy brown hair casually moved with the wind, but that wasn’t the only movement I’d quickly associate with Saren.  I reached the railing beside my friend, taking his same position, sensing a silent vibration within him.
“You seem uneasy.”
“Oh it’s just…” he murmured, “Been a long time since I’ve ever been anywhere besides the north.” I smiled.
“Yeah, kinda reminds me of that stuff you talked about, when we get our big break, we’d go up against lots of other teams from around the world.”
“Now you’re almost getting me nostalgic.” Saren smiled, “I can’t help but feel a little uneasy, but I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve felt anything”-
“Apart from cold that is.” He rolled his eyes, not responding. We continued staring into the fog, when Saren edged forward, seeing something, “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t you see it?” he asked, and I turned my gaze, looking out to see… lights, wooden docks approaching us. A small fishing village began to open up, forming through the fog. My eyes widened at the place, smiling.
I had spent over five months in the Northern Water tribe… a little change was overdue.
“So this is it, Su Hiron?” Saren asked, I let him draw his own conclusion. “The place where your friend is?”
“Yeah,”
“So, where is he?” Saren asked, “Does he have a name or something?”
“Oh don’t worry about that… you two have actually met before.” I replied, confusing him. I was about to turn and get grab my backpack in the cabin when Saren continued, “I take it he’s not one of them, because I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen them before”-
“What?” I turned, and then froze, seeing what appeared to be a group of people, standing at the docks, eying our ship especially. In the center of them was a woman, who was very familiar to me. “Nikta.”
“Nope, name doesn’t ring a bell.” I scowled. The strikers called in ahead of our arrival.

KOKORO POV

Getting onto this boat was a handful, especially getting around the ticket master who was hell bent on doing his job. I found myself sitting in one of the vacant cabins, looking out over the water. Because I had spent most of my time watching Connor and his friend, I didn’t get much sleep. I looked through the window, discovering we had reached our destination. I tugged on the hood I had been using to help hide myself from the targets, reaching the foggy outside. Saren and Connor both quickly stepped out of their cabins, making their way to the side of the ship facing away from the dock. After a swift pep-talk, they both jumped off the railing and into the cold water bellow, confusing me to no end.
“What the”- Looking to the other side I then saw a group of people… waiting at the dock, leading them was a woman with dark brown hair that fell into a thick ponytail. She was an archer, with a bow hanging from her back and a quiver filled with arrows. I recognized her easily from my time in the Northern Water Tribe.
She was Abhik Nishi’s former assistant, Nikta Collins… Hawk. The woman who I had met the day I joined the strikers, and a former friend of my mother. I looked back to where Connor and Saren started swimming, watching as they paddled their way to one of the wooden docks, eying Nikta and her entourage.
“Those idiots…” I eyed the other travelers, watching as they quietly made their way off of the boat without looking once to Nikta. I swiftly did the same, bypassing the ticket master who stood at the side of the exit with his arms crossed, eying us. I slipped to the side of a couple, evading his gaze and continuing to walk. When I reached the beginning of the harbor, I looked back to Saren and Connor, noticing them casually hiding and making their way up to the land. I smirked a little at seeing how uncomfortable Connor looked in all of this. Nikta was about to look their way when I turned with an awkward smile. “Hi.” I replied, “You lookin’ for someone?” I asked, trying my hardest not to sound like I did the times I met her before.
“Oh, yeah but…” she paused, eying me. “I’m a little busy and”-
“Oh I understand,” I replied, “It’s just been a while since I’ve seen any of my friends and you kinda remind me of one of them.” That reply immediately took Nikta’s attention away from the boys.
Guilt had that kind of effect.
“Oh it’s no trouble.” She smiled, “Do I know you?” I frowned.
“I wouldn’t think so, I’m just travelling and”-
“You just seem familiar.”
“I… I get that a lot.” I lied, watching from the corner of my eye as Saren and Connor escaped the dock, and the strikers for now. “Though I don’t think I’ve actually met you and”-
“It’s just that scarf you’re wearing.” Nikta replied, I froze, “I knew this woman who wore one like it, before passing it to her daughter, but”-
“Well I bought this,” I lied, “Sorry”-
“No its okay… the last thing I need is to see Tanya again.” She muttered, as if irritated… which also irritated me. It made me wonder if they had people trying to track down my mom, bring her to ‘justice’ like the guys who went after Javik.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I fumed quietly, “hope you two can patch it up.”
“Me too I guess.” I walked away, succeeding in my mission to distract her, but also annoyed.
At least this meant Nikta didn’t know me that well, despite the times I met her.
I quickened my pace, getting away from the docks, pausing as I entered the ‘town’ part of the town. People casually walked past me, disappearing from view, I sighed.
‘Where’s Connor and Saren? Did they just disappear on me?’ I easily realized this meant I would need to track them down again. I sighed, only knowing that Connor came here to get help from a mutual friend of ours… who I didn’t know how to find. I continued walking through the street, keeping my eyes open when I saw something perched on a window nearby.
A beautiful firenation messenger hawk, quietly pecking at his feathers… a bird I knew pretty well, remembering friends of mine communicating with another ‘friend’ of mine with a hawk just like that. I approached the window, noticing it was a tavern, and the bird was literally harping on the owner to feed him.
“Leave me alone!” the man yelled, “I’ve got nothing for you!” He tried swinging a broom at the bird, but the animal avoided effortlessly. The cook grew annoyed and returned to his post, while I approached the bird, unsure this was the right one. On his back he wore his usual messenger getup, but it looked different from the usual one (the firenation symbol), this one’s had a sort of green crescent moon for an emblem.
There was only way to know for sure.
“…Ivan?” I asked, and swiftly the bird nodded his head towards me, to which I smiled…

CONNOR POV

I found myself shaking quietly, irritated by the cold water I had just swum through to avoid Nikta. I was absolutely drenched, walking through the street while my friend took it nonchalantly.
“It was your idea.” Saren harped, “Don’t need to get all pouty”-
“Sh-shut up Saren,” I scowled, “Unless you want to tell me you’ve rediscovered how to waterbend, I don’t want to hear it.” My hand shook quietly, creating a small ball of fire, that flickered from my chattering movement. I finally managed to maintain the orb of flame in my hand when Saren shook his head wildly, shooting water away like a shaggy dog and putting out my fire.
“Oh… sorry.” I looked away with a frown. We were now walking through the town and had little no idea where to go.
“We need to get off the streets… if Nikta’s smart she’ll find our footprints and follow the wet trail we’re leaving.”
“So I assume she is smart then”-
“Yes, that’s what I’m assuming.” I replied, annoyed. Saren had slowly managed to perk up when this ‘journey’ started. I was happy for it, though irritated… it was like we were switching emotions at times. He carried his sword beside him, still having no idea how to hold it in public. He needed a scabbard, no getting around it. “We find my friend, and then we can figure out how to get to Republic City.”
“That’s saying if we find your friend at this rate.” I grumbled, looking away. I heard a groan, to which I turned, assuming it to be Saren, but he was silent after his retort. I then heard it again, but I realized that it was coming from me.
I needed to eat, and I had refused to pay for anything they sold on that boat.
As we kept walking we found ourselves approaching a sort of tavern, a random bird flew out of the back of it. I paid it little attention as I looked to the tavern itself, smelling food inside. Instead of actually saying something, I saw Saren gravitate towards it, probably hungry as I was but not wanting to voice it.
I didn’t want to spend money, but at this rate we weren’t going to find Crow on an empty stomach.
As we entered it looked like your regular seedy earth kingdom bar (that also sold food). We found a table and sat down, with a cook eying us and taking our order. Unfortunately the place didn’t have menus, it was all word of mouth so I had to think of the stuff I usually liked to eat (not a small feat). I put money down for myself and Saren and then we waited. I continued casually touching parts of my coat, releasing steam from it with my bending. I was slowly starting to warm up, and the fireplace was helping.
“So I heard you couldn’t go on your route to Angquin today.” A random man muttered, Saren and I looked towards a nearby table with what appeared to be two merchants.
“Yeah, these people set up some checkpoints, not lettin’ anyone through.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Dunno, something about catching a ‘mutt’ or sometin’.” Saren and I looked to each other, and so he turned, looking to them.
“How bad are these checkpoints?” he asked, the merchant turned.
“Oh, worse I ever saw, reminds me of the stuff the Empire pulled, they got everything, mech suits, benders…. I’d reckon it’s impossible to get through, they even got the underground tunnels closed off.”  I scowled, “you two travelin’?”
“Yeah, we’re trying to get to Republic City.” I added, the merchant shrugged.
“You have my condolences, but there’s no chance in hell you’ll get through those checkpoints.”
“There has to be another way to get there.” Saren asked, the merchant sighed.
“Well… one time the Earth Empire was trying to catch fugitives around the same route. My buddy got through but that was because he took the mountain route to the east.” I raised an eyebrow.
“He went to Ba Sing Se?”
“Yeah, and from there he took the train and got to Republic City. It’s an expensive plan, but I figure it’d work.” The man looked back to his friend and my gaze returned to Saren.
“Let’s hope your Crow friend has a better idea.” I nodded, sighing. I decided to look back to the merchant.
“Hey, um… could I ask you something?” the man turned, “Have you heard of a person called… ‘Crow’?” the man paused,
“We don’t talk about Crow.” Saren turned.
“Why not?”
“Crow’s just another rebel, leading Su Hiron’s local rebels against the strikers… making life harder for the ones of us who have to work for a living.”
“Oh… well I’m sure Crow doesn’t mean to put you guys in trouble.” I replied. The merchant sighed, “The strikers are bad news, after all.”
“Not so loud, they might have spies in here,” the man groaned, looking away, “To be honest some of us admire Crow and what she’s doing, but I couldn’t care less, and neither could my family… in fact some of us would rather collect that bounty on her head.”
“…” I sighed, while the only thing Saren had got from it was-
“Crow’s a girl?” From the corner of my eye I had noticed the cook re-approaching, setting down two plates on our table, Saren had a sort of fish-wrap(it had a face), while I had salmon-trout. I found myself disappointed that they gave me something with fish when I asked specifically for meat… but I figured complaining would get me nowhere.
“Yeah, an old friend.”
“Who is she, Angela?” Saren then asked, and I frowned. “Because I’ve met Angela”-
“No it’s not her, someone else… Angela’s still with the strikers, working in the firenation.”
“So no wonder you two broke up, long distance relationship”-
“It wasn’t like that,” I scowled, “It was kinda… one sided.” Saren raised an eyebrow, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Fair enough.” He turned, looking back to the merchant who was now paying more attention to us, “So where do you think we can find this ‘Miss Crow’?”
“You don’t, she finds you… I’ve never even seen her before.” The other guy turned.
“I’ve seen her, she has this scar or something…”
“I heard that’s makeup, to make her look tough.”
“Well she’s certainly got my attention if you know what I mean.” The man chuckled, his friend sighed.
“Gross…” right about now Saren and I ended our conversation, returning to our food, when Saren glanced up, sniffing for some odd reason.
“Something wrong?”
“Someone’s entering I think it’s her”-
“Crow?”
“No, Hawk.” As he said that I looked out, noticing in the window were a couple guys, looked like they were the ones we saw at the docks of Su Hiron. Swiftly I released my food and got under the table, as did Saren (stuffing the rest of the wrap into his mouth and shutting it). We were hidden under the table cloth, peering through it to see Nikta stepping into the bar. We froze as everyone turned, as if recognizing a striker.
I used to have that kind of effect on people.
“We’re searching for someone,” she directed, “They escaped the ferry from the Water Tribe and swam, we found wet footprints leading here!” she yelled, “Does anyone have any information on a firenation boy, and a taller water tribe one, soggy wet? Should have entered maybe ten minutes ago!”
“I might know something.” A random earth kingdom patron replied, Nikta turned, “Give me five minutes of your time and I might spill it”- right then I watched as Nikta grabbed a nearby bottle, bashing it across the side of the man’s face. He fell to the ground with a bruise and damaged pride.
“Anyone who insists on wasting my time will be held accountable for their actions.” She then added, more of her men appeared inside the tavern, “Now where are they?”
I watched as she studied all of the patrons, stepping by some who looked similar to Saren and me, but weren’t the ones. Saren casually gripped his sword, unsure what to do.
“Can you get us out of here?” he whispered? I frowned.
“Maybe… I have an idea.” On a nearby table I saw a full bottle of ale. I eyed Nikta, making sure she wasn’t eying us, and then I grabbed the bottle, discovering it thankfully still was corked.
“Connor now’s not the time for that”- I rolled my eyes.
This would be easier if you could waterbend but…” Saren eyed me confused, while I breathed, focusing my chi to start cooking the water in the bottle.
“One has short spiky black hair, the other brown, I knew they were here!” Nikta directed, I frowned. The bottle began to cook, creating the equivalent of a smoke-bomb. Saren was mildly entertained, watching as I did this.
“You’ve done this before right?”
“No… didn’t need to before.” I frowned, watching as small bits of steam escape the cork of the bottle… I bent the steam downwards with my other hand, and finally I knew it was time to open it. “When I throw this, we make a bolt for the exit.” Saren nodded, and I removed the end of the bottle, tossing it away onto the floor. Nikta turned swiftly, seeing the bottle and the table we were at. It was too late, as steam shot out from the bottle, covering the room in a fermented mist. Saren and I bolted out, running past strikers, though that didn’t stop Nikta.
When we made it onto the street, Nikta followed us, running after us as her companions were disoriented. The two of us were running through the streets of Su Hiron, Nikta pulled her bow out, swiftly firing arrows towards us, arrows which we barely evaded. I used my firebending to help block, while Saren lead us through the random people we passed.
“So, we’re being chased by an old friend?”
“Yeah… you could say that.”
“I haven’t met her, so I assume she isn’t Crow.”
“Oh haha”- We took a swift turn into the market place, where Nikta stopped firing arrows and we ran through more and more people.
“Sorry, sorry… didn’t mean this, sorry!” Saren uttered, while I kept trying to get ahead. Saren seemed slower, which I figured would happen, he seemed to have a slight limp, as if he preferred a different leg then before. I paid little attention to him as we kept running, taking another swift turn and finding a fence with an opened door in front of it. I swiftly closed the door behind us, and kept running. As I looked back, Nikta swiftly jumped to one of the alley’s walls, kicking off and jumping onto the other one, reaching the fence and summersaulting over it.
Saren’s eyes grew massive, eying her.
“How did she do that?”
“It’s kinda her thing, she makes up not having bending for being the most capable member of the strikers, barring a few others.” She fired more arrows and I shot more stray shots of fire towards her.
“Connor stop this now!” she ordered,
“Leave us alone!” I added, managing to strike a hit towards her, throwing her back. We found ourselves at a dead end- Nikta stood there behind us, eying us while Saren fearfully held out the sword. Hawk didn’t even look at him.
“Stand down, both of you.” She ordered, “None of this is needed.” I frowned.
“You’re right, so leave us alone!”
“I have orders to bring you both back with me to Shaylim.” She replied, “Don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be.” Saren continued to hold the sword out, jabbing forward, Nikta easily sidestepped the blade, grabbing Saren’s arm and twisting it behind his back.
“Agh!”
“Let him go!”
“Silas said he wanted him, told me not to hurt him, but I don’t think a broken arm will be that difficult to mend!” Saren shook, eying me, while I scowled.
“LET THEM GO!” A sudden voice yelled. We both turned, looking up to see a figure standing on the roof top in a brown cloak. She looked almost specter-like in the fog. I recognized her voice, as did Saren it seemed. Nikta remained resilient, staring up at the character. Swiftly the rogue stamped down, and jumped off of the building, landing between myself and Saren, punching her fist down.
The ground underneath Nikta shot upwards wildly, the renegade also at that moment grabbed for Saren’s hand, pulling him away from Nikta’s grip as the archer fell away. This figure was shorter than the both of us… and looked like a woman. She released her grip on Saren and ran out of the alleyway, after Nikta. Saren paused.
“Okay… she kinda seems familiar”-
“Yes, she’s Crow.” I replied, to which Saren nodded. We followed after her, seeing Nikta standing there with her bow, flustered.
“Crow… it’s been a while,” Nikta replied, eyes on us.
“Get out of here Hawk, you can’t take the two of us on!” Saren pouted.
“Really, you couldn’t say three of us?” My friend ignored him.
“No, not yet…” Nikta replied, aiming an arrow towards us, as if ready to strike… instead of attacking however, she aimed downwards, “I’ll be seeing real soon, Naava.” The arrow shot directly to the ground, smoke dispersed from it, covering the already foggy in more mist, allowing Nikta to escape. Saren immediately seemed confused about the sudden companion.
“Wait… Naava?” he eyed her, “The girl who recruited you?” He eyed me, “That Naava?” I looked to Crow, watching as she ignored him and looked to me, pulling down her hood. Her eyes were a bright green color, meshing well with her messy shoulder length raven black hair. A thin and fading scar sat across her right cheek, and a curious look overtook her in eying me.
“Hey Naava… it’s been a while.” I found myself smiling a little, having not seen her face in five years. She stepped forward, quietly hugging me. I patted her shoulders, to be honest I missed her.
“It’s been too long, Connor.” Saren eyed us, somewhat confused. These two had met the night of our probending game against the “Tiger-Squirrels” the day Naava had tried recruiting me into the strikers. Needless to say, they did not hit it off rather well. Saren remained focused on her.
“Wait, I don’t understand, she left the strikers?” Naava sighed, releasing me.
“I’ll get you two somewhere safe, and then we can talk.”

ONE HOUR LATER
SAREN POV

Naava was very abrupt about getting us away from prying eyes. She told me to shush every time I asked something, she seemed hell bent on ignoring me. We found ourselves crossing through the main square three times until she was certain Nikta wasn’t following us, and took us to what appeared to be some old abandoned church on the edge of town. Inside there were some loose boards that revealed a hidden ladder going down.
She led us to what I assumed was some sort of secret underground base for that ‘rebellion’ she was heading. She seemed to have a rather small group, looking to consist of ten people… half of which were traitors to the strikers.
“Chun’s actually the original traitor,” her second in command had mentioned as he gave me a tour, “She left before Nishi mandated the tattoo policy.” Wait, did that mean Connor had a striker tattoo?
Apparently she was also some kind of princess in a sandbender tribe east of the republic… though I didn’t ask much about that. I did remember seeing her face in the newspaper a while back.
She looked really pretty in it.
After the tour I found myself in the dining room at the door, waiting while Connor and his old friend caught up on old times. It felt odd to see her again after only meeting her once at that probending game. I felt like I was walking into what felt more like Connor’s world… where I was a complete stranger despite our history. Though Naava’s clear mistrust towards me was apparent, I wondered if she’d actually help us.
“Yeah Aimee sent me a letter mentioning how you left, what happened?”
“It’s a long story, all I know is I left and I’m not going back.” He muttered, enjoying the free food he was given.
“Atta boy.”  She smiled, “Had to happen at some point.” She added, I noticed her cloak was gone, replaced only with a green sleeveless top, brown trousers, boots, and armbands. It worked well with her messy black hair.
“This is a nice operation you’re running,” Connor added, Naava nodded, arms crossed.
“Yeah, I got here like four months ago, these guys had no idea what they were doing, completely hopeless. I help out a few times and they begged me to be in charge.”
“Wow, that’s a quick promotion… what do you call yourselves?”
“We’re the Su Hiron Striker Resistance Cell.”
“A cell?”
“Yeah, lots of us everywhere, we don’t know about the other groups in order to protect them.” As prideful as Naava was, she did seem pretty good at this, barking orders and having her underlings obey. It seemed the only thing that didn’t listen to her around here was her pet messenger hawk named Ivan. The bird seemed at times rebellious and lazy and he did not seem to like Connor much at all.
“Kawh!” the hawk boasted on his perch, apparently there was a large looking alcove here that he could use to leave, otherwise he just perched on Naava’s shoulder. I found myself eying him, with a smile.
“So then,” Connor turned, “How’d you know we were in trouble?”
“I hear about everything happening in town, especially the bit about Nikta looking for you two.”
“Well thanks,” Connor replied, “We needed it.”
“Yeah, that’s what I figured. So why are you two in the Earth Kingdom? I understand you got here from the North?”
“We did,” Connor replied, “I visited Saren at his apartment and then we got ambushed by the strikers, we’re both on the run now.”
“And with Hawk hunting you, no less.” I nodded, sitting down.
“Yeah, Connor said that you could help get us to Republic City”- Connor groaned at my sudden request while Naava’s head leaned towards the right, confused.
“What’s he talking about?” she asked, Connor sighed.
“When Saren and I got on the ferry, we decided we wanted to go to Republic City.” Naava turned,
“Of all the places, why there?” I frowned, wondering if Connor would just straight out say it was my idea (which it was) thankfully he refrained.
“It’s our home, we grew up there, figured we should return.”
“Well you picked a bad time,” Naava sighed, “Nobody can get to Republic City…” she referred to a nearby map, her hands traced from Su Hiron to a southeastern city bordering a massive body of water, “The closest way is to head south east to Angquin or west to Shaylim, and take a train to Republic City.” I knew where this was going, “But it’s impossible, the striker checkpoints are too strong, and they have too many spies… yesterday a lot of people that work with cells like ours disappeared.”
“So captured.” Connor sighed.
“It can’t be done, not unless you have an airship or are the avatar, which I know either of you aren’t.” I sighed, eying the map again and drawing closer,
“But this merchant guy we talked to,” I directed towards the East of Su Hiron, past a river and the Northern Air Temple, “He said there’s a route through the mountains, where you can get to Ba Sing Se?”
“Are you serious?” she eyed me like I was an idiot, “It’ll take weeks to get to Ba Sing Se on foot, maybe less if you catch a ride but even then there’s countless strikers in that city.”
“But it shouldn’t be as bad as Angquin or Shaylim, right?” I asked, irritating her.
“That’s beside the point, it’ll take too long and be too dangerous.”
“Sounds pretty good to me.” Connor then added, Naava turned. “I had a few missions in the north-eastern earth kingdom, there’s a lot less striker activity there, and it’ll be difficult for them to follow us.”
“You two are crazy…” she sighed, Connor turned.
“Be crazy with us, we’re gonna need an earthbender to get through the mountains”-
“No,” she replied simply, “I can’t afford to waste my time trekking through the Earth Kingdom, I have duties here… and no reason to help you two” Connor frowned, looking away, while I turned.
“The strikers aren’t just after Connor, they’re after me, and I have no idea why.” Naava curled her head to the side, “We’re the reason that these checkpoints have been set up”- She didn’t believe that.
“Connor can you vouch for this lunacy?” Connor sighed, turning to her.
“Actually… when we were getting attacked in the North, they said Saren wasn’t to be hurt, that they were ordered to by ‘dragon’.” Naava paused, eying Connor and myself with confusion. Color seemed to have drained from her cheeks.
“I take it it’s not the first time you’ve heard about him.” I stated, Naava nodded.
“I never met him, but he was Nishi’s benefactor. Never actually got a name,” Connor sighed, looking away, unsurely. “He’s the one in charge now, trying to hunt traitors like us down… brought back purging.” Connor turned, “So he wants you?” she asked me.
“It seems so.” I paused, “I don’t know how, but I’m sure if you help us we can figure out what his game is, the fact that Nikta’s after us should be enough for you.”
“…” she looked away, “The answer’s still no, I can’t afford to stop the progress I’ve made in Su Hiron”-
“Naava if we don’t figure this out, there might not be a Su Hiron”-
“I said no.” she turned. “And honestly, you two are putting us in danger,” I crossed my arms. “You can stay for the night, and I’ll show you around town, and get you started off, but after that I can’t afford to hold onto you.” I frowned, wanting to contest this, while Connor simply nodded, respectfully. “I’m sorry if you expected more.”
“It’s alright, Crow.” She nodded.

THE NEXT DAY
NIKTA POV

I was angry at myself for losing them, I thought it would have been so easy. I had my men continuing to search through town, to no avail. The townspeople seemed bitter about what I was doing, but I couldn’t care less. I came here with a job to do, and I was going to fulfill it.
Yesterday I had tried following Naava and her companions, but she seemed to specifically lead them around, and lose me. She was getting too good at this.
My men continued going from building to building, checking for any signs of them. We had also started putting down wanted posters for them. Finally a group of my men brought someone towards me, it looked like the cook in the tavern we were in.
“Yes?”
“This guy has something interesting to say.” The cook nodded.
“Every day this messenger bird barring this black on green moon insignia hassles me for food, yesterday the bird left before your men entered my tavern… this time a girl with a scarf gave him a note, telling him to ‘go back to Momma’ or somethin’.” I nodded, he clearly knew nothing about the insignia.
The Chun Tribe’s insignia. This meant “Naava Chun” was the bird’s owner.
“Do you know where this bird goes?”
“I’ve seen him usually fly away and hang around in the South Western side of town, his master spends a lot of time there… one time I think I saw her come out of the old abandoned church.”
“…” I nodded, looking away, “Thank you, you’ll be given the bounty if we find them” The man nodded, walking away I looked to my men. “There’s been a change of plans… we are catching these traitors today.”

NAAVA POV

Town looked lively today, with less strikers wandering around and looking for us. The only change I noticed were the addition of wanted posters (which I typically removed when nobody was looking). Su Hiron was well currently, though I couldn’t shake a nervous feeling with Connor and his friend beside me. They both were packed and ready to go, though the waterbender stuck out like a sore thumb with his sword out. Sure I stood out with a messenger hawk on my shoulder, but at least I was earth kingdom and belonged here.
For roughly two hours we had gone to some shops I knew to buy them equipment they’d need for their journey. Naturally it came out of my pocket, but I just wanted Connor to be safe. We had purchased camping equipment, metal rods for cooking over a fire, a week’s supply of food, a map and other supplies they’d need. We were actually getting pretty close to done.
“So I take it by now you know everything about this town.” Connor asked, I nodded.
“I know a bit,” I stepped past a couple, “It was founded over two-hundred years ago, around the time of Chin the Great’s conquest, it was used as a trading route with the Northern Water Tribe, this place used to be a lot more important.”
“What brought you here?” Connor’s friend asked, I turned.
“It was more random, striker patrols were chasing me and I came across the old church, from there I carved the tunnel out and stayed there with Ivan.” My bird cooed slightly at the sound of his name.
“Ivan… so that’s his name.” Connor replied, the bird dead-eyed him, for some reason not liking him at all. “Why’d you get him?”
“After what happened in the Shen Jing, I decided I needed a way to keep in contact with my friends and family.”
“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get a letter.” He shrugged, while his friend turned.
“If it makes you feel any better, Naava didn’t send me a letter either”- I turned.
“What’s your name again?” I asked, irritating him. We paused at a fountain in the center of town, looking to see more strikers snooping around… I leaned to the fountain, watching them walk away.
“Looks like Nikta hasn’t given up yet.” The friend muttered, to which I rolled my eyes.
“Observant as always.” He pouted, causing me to smirk. Something about that look on his face brought me joy. We found our way towards the store the strikers were looking through, a leather-working shop. I nodded to Connor, “You might need some pouches, I know this guy, he’ll give us a great deal.”
“Sounds great.” Saren replied as we entered the shop, I stopped him quickly.
“No, you need to stay out here.” The taller boy eyed me at that, confused.
“What, I don’t have enough striker cred to enter the store?”
“Don’t be an idiot,” I replied, “Someone needs to keep watch incase those guys come back… and I need someone to watch Ivan,” My bird casually flew onto Saren’s shoulder, surprising him, “Last time I brought him in he ruined a lot of stuff… owner started a whole ‘not pets’ policy afterwards.”
“But”-
“Saren, just as she says, she knows this place better.” Connor replied, disappointing his friend.
“Yeah, listen to Connor for once,” I gloated, “We’ll be sure to get you something to play with, maybe a toy sword, be easier learning to use one of those.” That irked him so much, causing him to remain glued to the outside of the store while Connor remained focused on me, annoyed. We entered the shop, finding a man standing behind a cash register, a variety of leather-made creations covered the room, from weaponry holsters to satchels, clothing and more. I liked this place, felt homey.
“Hey Vaan.” The man smiled from behind the register, calling me by the fake name I told everyone apart from my cell.
“Mosby, we’ll just be looking around.” He nodded, while Connor focused, articulating what was on his mind now that we were inside and far enough to avoid an earshot.
“Something tells me Saren is outside for more than just keeping a lookout.” I turned at that.
“Why are you travelling with him?”
“Because he’s my best friend and he needs me.”
“Does he? He seems to have been getting along fine with you for the past five years.” He scowled, “how do you even know you can trust him? I still can’t believe he just ‘wants to go to Republic City’.”
“I want to go to, I didn’t ask what his reason was, and I’d take him either way.” I turned,
“Would he do the same for you?” Connor frowned, “I know you’re attached to him, but… maybe you shouldn’t be.”
“What are you saying?”
“That instead of wasting your time on a quest to Republic City, you can stay here, and help me.” His eyes widened.
“You can’t be serious”-
“I am… I saw you fight, you’re still the toughest guy I know, and you could really be useful to us. You can use the skills you learned in the Strikers to fight back against them. Help us get rid of them.”
“You want me to turn my back on Saren, to help you go after gangsters?”
“To help me protect people.” Connor looked away.
“I can’t do that… I’m not ditching Saren”-
“Why, because he’s your best friend”- he caught me off.
“No, because I owe him.” I paused, Connor looked away, eying the leatherwork and grabbing a satchel. “I just showed up out of the blue at his apartment… that was two days ago, and now he’s stuck here with me and he can’t go home…” I turned at that. “I can’t abandon him, not after what I just pulled in the Water Tribe.”
“I didn’t realize”-
“That he hasn’t been through a lot too?” Connor then asked, irritated, “I know he was mean to you five years ago, but”-
“That has nothing to do with this!” I spoke back rather abruptly, maybe too quickly. “But… go on?”
“But no matter what I and you were going through, it hasn’t been easy for him, and worst he went through it all alone.”
“What did he go through?” I asked, Connor looked away.
“He still doesn’t have his bending back.” I turned, “I don’t know why, the Avatar did her thing but… nothing.”
“He’s not a waterbender anymore?”
“No… that’s why he went to the North Pole to begin with, to escape everything… until I came crashing back into his life.” I looked away, I couldn’t help but find myself frowning, imagining what it would have been like if I didn’t have my earthbending.
I just couldn’t.
“So yeah, I need to help him. I’m the only one who can.”
“…I’m sorry.” I replied, Connor looked away, “I’ll try to treat him like a person.”
“Thank you.” Connor replied, smiling a little. “Don’t you ever try to talk me out of abandoning my friends ever again, or it’s gonna be you I abandon… Crow.” He threatened almost jovially, and I nodded silently.
He was loyal, that was the trait I liked most about him.
“Are you two gonna buy anything?” Mosby asked. Connor seemed attached to the pouch and I nodded to him. I noticed something else, one of the weapon holsters, included a scabbard that was the exact size of Saren’s sword. I grabbed for it.
If Saren was leaving, I might as well leave him a peace offering.

SAREN POV

I heard the entire thing from outside of the store, to be honest I almost figured Connor was going to ditch me… though it did make me feel happy to know he wasn’t going anywhere. I felt a little guilty, knowing that I was keeping the knowledge of my dad’s death from him. But… I didn’t want to include him, it was too personal. I was still disappointed Naava was bent on not going with us… despite the rude comments I was kind of attached to her.
I also liked the bird, who thankfully wasn’t ruining my jacket.
“Kawh!”
“I know… just one of those days.” I found myself peering forward, looking to see someone standing there and staring at me. He was a striker, approaching me.  I pointed my sword forward, hands shaking.
“Relax, Mr. Namakura, I’m not here to pick a fight.” I paused, “This is between Hawk and Crow.” He then held something out, a piece of paper. “Deliver it to her, Hawk will be waiting.” I took the paper, eying it, and then the striker ran away.
It left me confused, eying the parchment, and as I read it, I froze. I swiftly turned, walking directly into the leather shop, finding Connor and Naava were paying upfront when they turned to me. The shopkeeper shook angrily.
“GET THAT BIRD OUT OF HERE!”
“KAWH!” Ivan retorted defiantly. Connor and Naava eyed me like I was crazy.
“Saren we were just about done, why”- I stepped past Connor, handing the paper to Naava. She took it, confused.
“This guy handed it to me, said to”-
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Naava replied, reading it, much like at the mention of ‘dragon,’ all color left her cheeks.
“What?” Connor then asked, Naava turned.
“This says surrender yourself to me at the church in one hour, or they die.” Connor’s eyes widened, “Nikta signed it.”

CONNOR POV

We had found ourselves hurrying out of the leather shop, taking what we bought and pacing down the street. There was no point in discussing this inside the shop… not to mention the shopkeeper was royally pissed about the bird (which still clung to Saren’s shoulder). Saren spoke first.
“Okay, why are we all being silent?” Naava blinked heavily, “Shouldn’t we be discussing or”-
“How did Nikta find us?” the first thing she asked, the bird looked away, uninterested. “We went out of our way to make sure nobody followed us, she couldn’t have”-
“How do we even know Nikta’s not bluffing?” I asked, “Could just be a trick”-
“Then why would she mention the church in her note?” Naava asked back, “She caught them, probably after we left, wanting to draw me out to her.”
“I didn’t realize she could be that devious.” I stated.
“She did worse things for Abhik.” Naava scowled, “And now she wants me to hand myself over, or else my crew dies…”
“We’re not going to hand you over, right?” Saren asked, “I’m sure we could find some way, or…”
“No… I know Nikta, she’s probably planning for you two to come along and help… it’s a trap to catch all three of us.”
“So what do we do?” I asked, Naava turned.
“You guys need to get out of here, go east, get away from this place, take Ivan and go.” She directed, the bird on Saren’s shoulder nodded his head awkwardly. “I’ll be fine, but”-
“Why does Nikta want you so badly?” Saren then asked, Naava turned.
“Because it could be considered that my departure started the dark age of the strikers,” Connor looked away. “She’d probably blame me for all that’s happened.”
“That’s crazy”-
“No… that’s pretty much how she sees it.” I muttered. Naava turned, “We’re not just gonna abandon you.”
“I can’t let you two getting caught be on my conscience.” She replied, turning away. “I’m sorry.” She stepped away, towards the direction of the church, I followed her, annoyed. My hand caught her shoulder, stopping her.
“You said I was the best fighter you knew, I can help and you know I can”-
“You just spent five minutes berating me on telling you to abandon Saren… if you really owe him, than you can’t afford losing him.” she looked away, “Goodbye Connor.” Quickly she stamped down, rock rose up as she skidded away, frantic and afraid… not a good combination.
“Naava!” I yelled out, but she was gone. I sighed, standing there alone when I saw Saren stepping behind me, having listened in.
“We’re not gonna do as she says, are we?”
“No, we’re not.” I replied.

NAAVA POV

I finally reached the church, expecting to find Nikta and her strikers outside, the courtyard was barren of life, plant and human alike.
Stepping inside the murky old church I saw someone sitting in one of the pews, looking up at the statue of a spirit, known as Chron, the spirit of time… she seemed deep in meditation. A quiver rested on her back, with arrows peeking out. I paced forward, she looked back to me. It was the same old Nikta I recognized, though she looked colder.
“I wondered if he’d find you, it’d be boring if you never showed up.”
“Where are they?” I asked, frowning,
“I was always a little interested in seeing what spirits other cultures prayed to.” She ignored, “In the South, we prayed to Tui, La, Sukh, and Kesh… ocean, moon, spirit and soul. Kind of boring, it’s a little more ironic that your people prayed to time, likely wanting a bountiful harvest.”
“Where are my friends?”
“It’s ironic because of how poor time has been to your people, the death of the earth queen, Kuvira’s reign, failure to take back the republic… and now it’s almost like pieces of twine are holding it together.” She stood up, “Much like your crew.” I scowled, “You were barely holding them together.”
“Where are they?”
“They’re fine, my men are looking after them down below us… prepared to kill them if something happens.” I scowled, “And I see you didn’t bring Ghost and his friend, too bad.” Nikta paced towards me.
“I’m here, so let them go.”
“I think not… I think those traitors ought to be taken to Shaylim to face punishment.” I scowled,
“So what then, gonna execute me in Shaylim then? Make me a martyr?” Nikta smirked,
“Now what was that spirit your sandbender-tribe prayed to? Kassin Etioh…”-
“Keshon Arteoh.” I replied, Nikta quietly nodded.
“And where is he now?” With a sudden slip of her wrist, the bow she was holding flexed and a sudden arrow shot forth, I kicked down, pulling up a tile from the ruined floor to quickly catch the arrow and bring it to the ground. “It’s good you’re fighting, Crow. It’d be boring if you didn’t.” I scowled.
“I aim to please, Hawk.”

SAREN POV

We reached the church, peering inside to see Naava fighting Nikta, I was impressed to watch as she evaded more of her arrows.
“I don’t get it, how does Nikta assume to be able to take on all three of us alone?” Connor shrugged.
“I don’t know… but we better get in there and”- I caught Connor’s shoulder.
“That’s not a good plan, Naava’s holding her off pretty well. We need to help her crew.” he nodded,
“But I don’t see any of Nikta’s men or hostages around here.” I turned.
“They must be in the base, underground.”
“Great…” Connor replied. “And if the only entrance is through there, and we’re not earthbenders, how are we gonna”- at random Ivan pushed off of my shoulder, flying away randomly. “What’s he doing?”
“Ivan?” I asked, watching as the bird flew down the hill, reaching what appeared to be a stream of water, he picked at it with sudden confusion. As Connor and I approached, saw a hole in the ground. Ivan vanished into the small hole. We realized it was his way into the base.
“Hell of a secret passage.” Connor muttered, “Though a little slim for my liking.” I gripped my sword, looking down. “Saren?”
“I have an idea.” I found myself crouching beside the hole, stabbing the sword down into it, using it as a makeshift shovel and opening it more thoroughly. “The opening is thin, but it looks more hollowed out deeper inside… it wouldn’t make sense if Ivan didn’t have any room to fly out of if it was all as thick as this hole.” Connor smiled, eying me.
“Saren, you genius.” I grinned. As I finished, Connor swiftly lowered into the hole, going down it while I followed. We slid down covered in dirt until we found ourselves inside the cave Naava created, Ivan was on his perch, comfortable. We heard chatter down the hallway, and slowly walked through, discovering in the dining room was all of Naava’s cell, tied up with roughly ten strikers standing around them, telling them to shut up… they looked especially bored.
“Great, how are we gonna help them?” Connor smiled, cracking his knuckles.
“Saren, leave that to me.”

NIKTA POV

I shot another arrow towards Crow as she evaded, pulling up more rock to protect her and throw towards me. She seemed to have gotten slower since the last time I saw her fight.
“I don’t get it!” she yelled, avoiding more arrows, “After everything that happened, after Abhik being put in prison, why are you still killing for him!?”
“I’m not killing for him.” I replied, “I’m killing for someone who’s worth it.” More arrows fired out, but she evaded, throwing tiles towards me in rapid succession, I avoided one and kicked off of another to jump behind cover. She pulled up more rock, tearing up the floor to try and pull me out of cover, a rock hit and I fell back, finding a piece of it hit my lip, I tasted blood.
“What happened to Kimi? Our friend? Is she standing behind this too?”
“No… and that’s for the best.” I snarled, shooting more arrows at her. I managed to cut through the tiles she used to block it, and hitting her wrist brace, tearing it and making a sharp cut. She winced in pain.
“You know you deserve this, for what you did”-
“For what…” she sighed, “Doing what you were too afraid to do?” I scowled heavily, firing more arrows towards her, which she evaded, jumping behind the pews… outmatched.

CONNOR POV

Time practically slowed down for me as I stepped into the room, Naava’s underlings eying me confused, while Saren kept to the door. I glanced towards the strikers, studying each of them, the way they moved, the elements they bent, whatever weapons they held. I couldn’t pull this stunt on Nikta because she wasn’t as mediocre as they were, but I definitely could on them.
I saw two firebenders, but one looked like he had recently fractured his wrist, the other was right hand dominant. Three earthbenders also stood there, one held a machete, another had a bandaged up arm. And the third had a slight limp on his right leg. There were two waterbenders, one who appeared to be drunk, and another who wore sunglasses, thinking it made him look cool. Finally there were three nonbenders, one who used knives, another with swords, and a third with a wooden pole.
I took in this information slowly, as they eyed me, confused.
“Isn’t that the”- I rushed forward, blasting two shots towards the earthbender with a limp, tripping him into his friends. While from the firebenders one created daggers of flames, and the other blasted a long range shot towards me. I deflected the blow, reaching the right hand dominant one and evading, and catching his left hand as it loomed past my brow, quickly throwing him right into the waterbenders. The long range firebender attempted to hit me again, but instead I ducked under the blow, punching my hand forward into his fractured wrist, causing the man to scream and fall to the ground.
The drunk waterbender fired icicles towards me, to which I jumped way, under the table, and immediately pushed upwards, the table shot up hit the waterbender with the sunglasses. From the corner of my eye I watched as Saren freed Naava’s people.
The man with the pole made a shot towards me, but I ducked under it, gripping a plate that was still in the air from the table and immediately blasting it into the man’s face, shattering the fine china Naava probably stole (just a guess). The earthbenders teamed up, both gripping the wall of the base, intending to bring it all crashing down. I kicked off of the table, crashing forward and thrusting my fist into the face of one earthbender, and then kicking down the other, catching his machete and throwing it right at the nonbender with knives (who was throwing them). I blasted a shot of fire towards the Earthbender’s bandaged arm, it caught on fire and I quickly crashed my foot across the sunglass wearing waterender’s face, shattering his specks. By now we had managed to free all of the prisoners, and they joined into the fight.  I smiled, before turning as the nonbender with swords slashed towards me, about to hit, when suddenly Saren’s sword appeared out of nowhere, blocking it and throwing the guy off balance. I regained my balance, etching forward and smacking the man right into the dirt wall.
“Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it…” Saren replied, excited that we were winning.

NAAVA POV

“Get out of cover Crow,” Nikta threatened, “you can’t hide forever.” She replied, firing another arrow, I froze as it crashed right through wood, splinting so close to my face. She was about to fire another one, and I grimaced, quickly pulling up more rock, and swiftly firing it towards her at a blind angle, it didn’t hit, and instead she got around the pew, arrow directly facing me. “Maybe if I shoot you in the leg, you won’t be able to run away again.” I swiftly pulled towards myself with a kick, suddenly the statue of Chron tumbled towards us, Nikta turned, surprised while I jumped out of the way, she meanwhile got blasted into the wall, bruised.
I heaved silently, eying her, having the upper hand.
“I’m not running away anymore.” I replied, looking down at her. “I did my fighting, I don’t owe you anything.” Nikta was irate, that I had won.
“Aren’t you gonna kill me?”
“No… of all thethings I wish upon you, death isn’t one of them.”
“Ronin’s right… you really are a fool.”
“Ronin?” From my confusion, a sudden pull from her quiver went right towards me, some arrow I wasn’t familiar with. It managed to hit me, and suddenly I felt like all my senses were on fire, as if lit by a sudden jolt of electricity. “AGH!” I screamed, hitting the ground, smoke rising. Nikta got up, smiling.
“It’s funny… I only brought one.” She smiled, “Because only Namakura was requested to be brought back alive, you and Ghost are completely expendable.”
“Namakura…” I muttered, she grinned, “Why does he want… him?”
“I don’t know to be honest… he said it’s personal.” Nikta aimed another arrow towards me, directly towards my face, “Exactly like this is... Crow.”
I huffed, closing my eyes… accepting what would come next.
But instead of that, something shot towards the arrow, making it freeze suddenly. Nikta turned, confused, as if she recognized someone.
“What are you”- and suddenly a tendril of ice caught her, throwing her away, towards the pews. She tried to get back up, but collapsed again, fully beaten. A wave of confusion took me, when I then saw her.
She was a girl, a few years younger than me, with a softest looking eyes I had ever seen, a blue scarf covered her neck, and I froze.
I hadn’t seen this girl in over six months.
“K-Kokoro?” she smiled, eying me.
“Hey there, Naava.” She replied, bending water towards me, “Need some help?”
I smiled a little.

FIVE MINUTES LATER
SAREN POV

We had managed to secure Naava’s friends, we all found ourselves climbing up the ladder, hoping beyond hope that Naava had won. The only one who wasn’t curious was Ivan, who continued to perch on my shoulder.
To our surprise, she was sitting there in one of the pews, among the new wreckage of the church.
“You’re okay!”
“And I thought I told you to leave.” Naava replied, not angry in the least, Ivan jumped off of my shoulder, perching back on Naava’s… happy that the crisis was over.
“Well… as loyal as I am to Saren, I guess I’m also loyal to you.” Naava smiled to Connor’s compliment. “Though we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without Saren.” I couldn’t help but smile, as did Naava. She looked thankful.
“Where’s Nikta?” I asked.
“She got away.” Naava replied, sighing, “When I had her beat, she bolted for it… I let her go.” She explained. For the next twenty minutes Connor and I stepped out of the church as Naava became re-acquainted with her cell. It seemed like she had a lot on her mind.
“So they’ll definitely have to move their base.” Connor began, “It’s not safe here.”
“I know, especially if some random kind finds that hole.” I nodded.
“So then, if she’s not coming with us, what do we do?”
“I dunno… I was serious when I said we needed an earthbender, I guess we’ll improvise somehow.” From the church, Naava stepped out of it, this time with a backpack much like ours. Ivan was settled on top of it. “You going on a trip or something?”
“I suppose,” Naava replied, “Been thinking about Republic City, heading on the eastern path.” We were speechless.
“I thought you said”-
“So did I… but, it seems to be the better choice.” She replied, “After fighting Nikta, it made me realize how much danger these guys are in if I’m still around. And the fact that she’s hunting them means one really must be important somehow.” I smiled a little, “I’ll get you there, you can count on me.” Connor smiled, shaking her hand wand welcoming her aboard, she looked to me. “Just make sure you can count on yourself.” I sighed.
“I thought Connor said you’d be nicer to me.” Connor smirked.
“So you were eavesdropping.” Naava nodded as well, she handed me something, a strange piece of leather.
“What’s that?”
“Something I bought, figuring to leave as a parting gift.” She explained, “It’s a scabbard, for you to use with that sword.” My eyes widened, “Maybe on the way I can actually teach you to use that thing.”
“Thank you.” I replied, grabbing the leatherwork and pausing as my hands touched hers. For the slightest moment a hint of a reddening took our cheeks as she looked away.
“Well come on, we better get out of here soon, more strikers are bound to show up.” I nodded, quietly putting my sword into the scabbard, finding it was a perfect fit. The three of us discovered a path and started east… our trio was complete, and as Su Hiron became a distant memory behind us, I smiled a little, looking to the world ahead.

TWO HOURS LATER

The man known as Silas remained in his quarters, studying the candle as it glimmered. It seemed to be all he could do, to remain calm and collected. He once had a very rash past, something he had grown out of… though that personality did sometimes seep to the surface. His focus remained glued to the candle, when a man came, holding a phone strapped to a radio.
“Sir, it’s for you… it’s Hawk.” Silas turned, studying them before taking the phone… hearing Nikta’s heavy breathing on the end. Her urgency worried him.
“Hawk, what’s wrong?”
“I failed, they escaped Su Hiron.”
“What?”
“I let my confidence get to me… it won’t happen again.”
“I’ll trust it won’t, has anything changed?”
“They’re heading to Ba Sing Se, all three of them.”
“Three?”
“Crow is among their number now,” Silas did not seem one bit irritated by this, he seemed curious actually.
“You’re telling me the Chun Princess is with them? I’ve heard she has quite the reputation… she may be a problem.”
“There’s a fourth, a girl who’s following them… Tanya’s other daughter, Kokoro… another traitor. She convinced Crow to come along.”
“Interesting… clearly Javik has sent her to safeguard them.”
“What do I do? I could follow after them and”-
“No, they’ll expect it. We can prepare for their arrival in Ba Sing Se… In two days I need you in to rendezvous with someone in Republic City… Victoria.”
“But”-
“Do not argue with me, she’ll be useful to you…”
“I’ll return as fast as I can.”
“Good… don’t be disappointed by today’s outcome.” She paused. “This was only the beginning.” He pledged, ending the call. He turned, eyes gazing towards the men with the radio.
“Sir?” Silas heaved, looking away.
“In four hours order the purging in Hawk’s last known coordinates… it’s time we set an example.”
“For Hawk or Su Hiron?” Silas receded back into the darkness.
“Both.”
Avatar Crossroads: Crucible Chapter 2
This is a Fanfiction I wrote for the OC's of :iconardnemla: and :iconquackylu: And myself.

And now the trio is together... I knew from the get go that Naava was an important part of this story, and that she needed to be re-introduced as quickly as possible, so it fit to have the second chapter focus on her feud with Nikta. For anyone who didn't read Mirage, Naava was one of the main characters who had acted as Ryuu's guide. Ultimately she saved her family from a warlord named Ronin. She is a princess of an earth kingdom state named the "Shen Jing" desert who are actually somewhat important to the earth kingdom's restoration.

Anyways this was a fun chapter to tell, partly because there were many perspectives and references to Winter, including the re-introduction of Ivan. Kokoro's perspective is rather interesting as it plays off as very "Behind the scenes" ish, originally she had another full conversation with Naava, but that was cut out for pacing and size, needless to say we'll hear that conversation in a flashback.

We also see the very beginnings of an integral relationship to this story, Saren's relationship to Naava. If you had seen any of Ardnemla's artwork of the two, you can tell that they're an important couple that I like to sometimes call "Progress 2.0". I think the way their relationship develops is interesting, especially with Connor's perspective thrown in the mix.

Chapter 3 is titled "Cry Wolf" and it focusses more on Javik's side of the story while also examining the trio's first 'obstacle' they'll face as a group.

Chapter 1: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…

Chapter 3: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…
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Chapter 1: Rogue Play

The night shift was the worst, it was the thing he hated most about his job. Working as a bartender wasn’t always the best occupation, but at least it paid enough. Saren filled another glass and handed it to a patron, who laid down three yuans.
“Thanks Namakura,”
“It’s my job.” He replied, taking the money. He was relatively tall, had messy light brown hair and bright steel-blue eyes. A slim black vest covered him, signifying his role in this place of business. “The Frozen Glass” was one of the older bars in the Northern Water Tribe… not something Saren was exactly proud of. Normally he’d work day shifts, but ever since the bar had nearly been destroyed by a crazy bloodbender and her cronies under his watch, he was downgraded to working between the hours of 12-6 a.m. And working nights meant one thing, he had to deal with the crazies that’d want a drink at 5 a.m.
A lot of crazies had started showing up in town in the past couple months after Maya Alrick’s fall from grace. Thankfully he had the radio to help keep his mind off of his job.
“It was such a beautiful wedding, it’s been so long since our city came together for something so nice.”
“Yeah, think it might help temporary councilman Manu Menika win his upcoming election?”
“It can’t hurt, Serena Hakkah’s name alone can garner in some votes… apparently she was actually Werrick’s protégé.”
“Hopefully it was only in title, last thing we need is another Werrick running around making trouble like Reiko and Sifo did.” He actually recognized the second name, the man was a brief patron three months ago… he didn’t seem as bad as the radio was painting him to be.
He missed the old radio voice, Viktor Khan, that guy was entertaining… and also very dead.
“I actually heard that Avatar Korra and the chiefs made an appearance at the ceremony, what do you think this means?”
“It sounds like the Northern Water Tribe is really ready to move forward.” Saren groaned… he had heard all this speculation before, people preparing for great change, and yet he felt nothing was really going to be different. “Now what do we know about this Ven Beck character, think he really can handle the Northern OWL branch?”
“I doubt it, he wasn’t around to raise his daughter, so he’s probably not going to stick around…”

EIGHT HOURS LATER
SAREN POV

”Don’t worry buddy, I’m sure this place’ll be great.”
“I’m not counting on it to be great.” I replied, wiping my brow on the ship. A boy with short but almost spiky hair stood beside me, he was roughly two years younger than me, and yet looked mature as hell. A patchy beard had started growing from my chin. “I’m just looking for a place to forget.” My friend nodded quietly. He had taken roughly a week or two off of work just to accompany me.
“I just don’t get it, you said you were in one of the lines, and the Avatar did her thing, and brought back your bending… and it doesn’t work?” The firebender asked, I shrugged.
“Guess not.”
“I actually asked Angie if she had any friends who this happened to and”-
“I’m guessing she doesn’t have friends?” I had met Angela only a few times, she was a loner like Connor… really pretty though. My friend silently agreed.
“I’ll tell her you didn’t say that.” I shrugged, looking out from the boat, seeing the expanse of the sea before us. I looked away, eying a couple from republic city on our voyage, I couldn’t help but feel irritated at the woman flaunting her waterbending. “Look, this’ll be temporary, right?” Connor asked, I turned, “Like… you’ll figure out how to get your bending back and”-
“I’m not sure this is how it works.”
“I know, but…” he looked away, disappointed. When he joined the strikers, I couldn’t help but be irritated, but I was respectful, his brother had just died and he thought he was doing the right thing… it didn’t help much for our probending team. “You’ll write to me, or call, right?” I sighed.
“Once I get settled in,” Connor smiled a little. He then leaned forward, eyes widening at the icebergs we were floating past, massive crystal like pieces in the water, reflecting in the sunlight.
“Wow, you don’t see that every day.”


I sat up as a ringing erupted from my doorbell, pulled straight away from my dream of five years ago. I wiped my brow confused, at first expecting some kind of intruder, but only recognizing it as my apartment’s doorbell. I heaved quietly, sitting up from my bed and studying my bedroom. Not much of it had changed in the past three years I lived here… still tidy but boring.
I hadn’t been interesting in a long time.
Pulling on a shirt and exiting my bedroom I entered the only other room in my apartment, my living room/kitchen. It looked meager as always, I approached the door leading out, opening it briefly and expecting someone there, nobody… it was an empty hallway, as usual. I heard a strange swooshing sound and looked down, an envelope fell from my door’s mail slit. I picked it up, the thin paper of the envelope felt foreign to me. I studied it for a moment, eying the front.
“To: Mr. Saren E. Namakura”
“Pretty sure I paid my power bill…” I murmured, I opened the envelope, expecting the usual list, instead it was a short hand-written letter with a seal over it, the seal of the Southern Water Tribe. As I began to read it, I found myself sitting down, confused.
”Dear Mr. Namakura:
This is Kevo Larr of the Southern Water Tribe Police Department. We would have rather you receive this message from an officer, but the police situation in the Northern Water Tribe has made it difficult. We are sad to say that your father, Dr. Lorik Namakura has passed away. The event is currently an ongoing investigation so I cannot share details. I can however confirm his passing, his file gave us little to go on, but it did list yourself and your sister Nadia Namakura as his and Nora Namakura’s next of kin. We are unable to reach your sister, however Lorik did leave items in Republic City that now legally belong to yourself and your sister as Lorik did not leave a will, simply come to your old home in Republic City in the United Republic to claim it. You have our condolences to the greatest degree.
With Respect,
Chief K. Larr, SWTPD.


My shaking was almost audible, I struggled to take this in. My father was dead? Since when? He didn’t have enemies, and this letter said he was murdered (I assumed, being an investigation)? Somehow I found it difficult to believe, or even to comprehend. I hadn’t seen the man in over five years, the only contact I had were letters and stipends… but I stopped getting letters after the civil war and only got money.
What was dad doing? Was Nadia with him? She was an adult now, but… they couldn’t find her?
’Then again, when did I ever care about her?’
I re-read the letter several times, trying to find some scrap of information I could have missed. I briefly wondered if it was a fake, it wasn’t like my father had enemies… it was genuine. I sat there for what must have felt like hours, not even noticing the light beginning to illuminate my apartment from its windows. Light bounced off from the sword centerpiece I had kept when I bought the place.
I barely realized someone was knocking on my door, I half expected it to be the mailman again, or maybe a coworker asking me to work the shift for them so they could get over a hangover. I remained silent, wondering if I had just imagined the knocking… and then it happened again, this time in a more hurried manner. I dropped the letter down onto my desk, standing up and approaching the door.
“I’m coming, I’m coming… sorry!” I apologized, reaching the door and opening it. To my surprise… it was neither of those options… standing there was a boy who was shorter than me by maybe five inches, younger than me. His eyes were a bright orange color, and hair was raven black and short… spiky. Skin was pale, firenation descent… he wore a gray striped winter coat over a dark red shirt with sleeveless gloves and dark red pants, a slim backpack hung from his back, and his mouth seemed to have a constant frown attached to it, no facial hair, made him look younger than he really was.
And I knew that, because I knew exactly who he was.
“Connor?” The frown turned into a slight smile, and I recognized a slight twinkle in his eye.
“It’s good to see you, Saren.” He replied, while I blinked, just surprised.
I hadn’t seen Connor Makoto in over five years.
“Er, come on in.” I then replied, stepping back. My old friend smiled, walking in, “You could have used the doorbell”-
“Oh I didn’t notice it.” He smiled.

MEANWHILE

“So this is your last day then?” Gallen Crest asked, breaking up the monotony of silence with Javik Kato, one of the members of the White Lotus’s southern branch that had been guiding the reconstruction of the branch within their sister tribe. Crest was a member of the country’s senate, typically referred to as the council of elders despite his youthful appearance.  
“Yes, Beck seems to be doing a commendable job righting Maya’s wrongs. I’m going to be needed somewhere else.” They were currently walking through a collection of blue scenery, the center of the entire city and tribe, the Chieftain’s Palace.
“To deal with this ‘dragon’ you’ve talked about.” Javik nodded, “I hope the chiefs will listen to you”-
“You don’t sound exactly sure.”
“Well… they are somewhat difficult, at times.”
“I recall, that Akira girl mentioned Desna wanted to feed you to a shark squid?” Crest sighed.
“Eska, actually.” Kato looked away, he enjoyed talking to Crest, he wasn’t as slimy as most politicians were. It was also odd considering Crest was a firebender on the council, a secret he went to great lengths to hide before Maya’s attempted takeover. The two approached a group of guards in front of the doorway leading into the inner-hallway of the palace.
Crest didn’t even need to say anything, as the guards opened the door and walked beside the men.
“So will this just be us and Beck talking to the two of them?”
“I’m afraid not, someone else has been er-involved.” Javik turned.
“No, you don’t mean”-
“I’m afraid so.” Javik scowled as the two finally approached the doors leading in. The guards turned, glancing to Crest. “How bad is it going?”
“I’m afraid I can’t comment sir.” The guard looked away, pulling open the door, leading Crest and Kato into the inner chamber, the throne room. The room itself was a brilliant combination of whites and blues, maintaining that crafted aesthetic, though still remaining new and modern. The least couldn’t be said of its occupants. A set of young twins sat in the far back, on two gleaming white thrones, wearing combinations of blue and purple clothing. They mirrored each other, nearly impossible to tell apart except from the mascara the female, Eska, wore. Both siblings seemed entirely uninterested in the concept being discussed, so much so that their own mother was arguing on their behalf.
A woman known as Malina, the Chief Mother, and last remaining remnant of Unaloq’s reign. She dressed much like her children did, though looking simpler. Her hair bore the same color, as Eska and Desna’s, though somewhat thinner. She was beautiful, and an air of elegance hit her in a way her children never discovered, yet at least.
“Chief Mother, if I could speak to your children alone”-
“They would give you the same answer, Director Beck.” She replied towards the man standing before them, he wore the same uniform as Javik, representing the Order of the White Lotus. “The firenation set a good precedent of keeping out of unnecessary wars, and the last thing our people need is to return to war after what your organization did” Javik couldn’t help but frown, eying the chief mother… a widow but in as much control as she was…
There was no wonder why the Northern Water Tribe had been so venomously against restoring the Northern OWL branch… Maya could be considered an old remnant of Unaloq’s reign. Ventin Beck was an older man, around Malina’s age, though the scar on his face made him look even older than he was.
As the two entered, Eska’s face lit up, glancing to Crest with a smirk, Desna followed.
“Councilman Crest, where were you at the party last night? We looked everywhere for you.” She replied in her casual monotone voice, Desna grinned.
“Yes, you were the main reason we even showed up.”
“My apologies, but my date and I couldn’t stay for the party.”
“Oh,” Eska pouted, “So to the cell for treason then?”
“Maybe another time”- Javik ignored them.
“I see you all have started without me.” He replied, stepping beside Beck.
“My apologies, Agent Kato.” Malina then replied, “But I am not hoping to waste my children’s time.” Javik frowned, “The answer, is no.”

MEANWHILE

Connor found himself sitting at the chair where Saren previously sat, as his old friend was currently going through his fridge.
“Anything I can get you?”
“No, I’m good.” Connor replied, studying the inside of the apartment. He was surprised by how lackluster it appeared, he had always remembered Saren to be rather vibrant… then again much had changed from how he remembered Saren. The only interesting part of the room was the strange broadsword that was hanging on a rack, it looked old but shiny, like Saren actually bothered to care for it. “Took me forever to find this place, had to ask for directions. All I had was an address”
“So then I take it Dai told you I was here?” Saren had recalled seeing Dai at ‘The Frozen Glass,’ when he had to smuggle him and his friends out from the White Lotus spearheaded by Sonya Kalros (not an event he’d like to repeat) … odd how that was three months ago.
“Yeah, I met with him and his friends at that wedding yesterday… “Told me to apologize for not visiting you.”
“It’s okay, I’m just glad to know he’s doing okay.” Saren smiled, kneeling down, “So are they still in town or”-
“No they left today, something going to the firenation.” Saren turned, “A friend of mine actually saw them off.” Saren nodded, Connor looked away, finding himself glancing to the desk in front of him, a piece of paper rested there, oddly. “Do you have any papaya juice?” Saren turned,
“You mean the stuff people use to nurse hangovers?” He noticed Connor examining his hand, a thin flame flicked in his palm. He found the bottle, handing it to Connor with a glass.
“Didn’t know you drank”-
“A lot of hobbies can develop in five years.” Connor ignored the glass, chugging the bottle in a blaze of speed. Saren sat towards him.
“So what are you doing in the Northern Water Tribe? Doing some work for the strikers?”
“Um… sure, yeah.” Connor looked away. He had joined the strikers five years ago, Saren had no clue what he had gone through. Connor murmured vaguely, “I was here for some-er… work things, ended up staying longer than I thought… I’m a little surprised you’re still here.” Saren raised an eyebrow, “Figured by now you’d be back in Republic City, off probending or something.” The older friend shrugged.
“I guess things just didn’t pan out that way.” Connor looked away. He eyed the piece of paper on the desk again, his hand nearly trailed to it when Saren grabbed it, stuffing it into his pocket. “It’s just my bill.” He lied. “Still, it’s been a while since I’ve heard from you,”-
“Yeah, sorry I haven’t sent any letters lately.” Connor frowned, “I’ve just been hung up.”
“It’s okay.” Saren replied, “Tell me what’s going on, how’s the girlfriend?”
“Oh um…” Connor paused, “That didn’t exactly work out, too well.” Saren eyed him, confused, “didn’t pan out, in the long run.”
“Really? You two seemed pretty in love.”
“Right,” Connor looked away, “It’s hard to explain, okay?” Saren nodded, Connor then looked away, awkwardly eying the letter on the desk. “Could you get me a glass of water?” he asked, Saren swiftly nodded, approaching the sink and then Connor stood up. “Why are you going to the faucet to get it, can’t you just…” Saren turned, looking back to Connor, frowning as his friend realized what was wrong.
He never got his bending back.
“Things just… didn’t pan out.”

MEANWHILE

Javik couldn’t believe it, the discussion was over before he could even start it.
“We will not be allocating any of our resources to helping your organization fight this striker menace, this is the earth kingdom’s problem.” Chief Mother Malina replied, her children both nodded as Javik frowned, crossing his arms.
“Chief Mother, we understand your reservations against our organization, but the southern branch needs assistance in this matter”-
“That’s what you get for becoming independent.” She added, “We’re too busy worrying about the strikers in our own nation, let alone yours and the earth kingdom… we’re too busy cleaning the mess your organization created for our country.” She specifically eyed Beck on that part. Gallen Crest turned.
“Isn’t the fact that we’ve seen this threat first hand mean we should try and help”-
“Councilman, you will speak if you are spoken to.” She then replied,
“Forgive me.” Crest didn’t have the best reputation after the ‘Winter’ incident. When the chiefs were off in the earth kingdom and the Senate was left to try and deal with the Strikers, they only made the situation worse… and all while under Crest’s watch.
“This is precisely why you need to help.” Javik then countered, the three royals turned, “You fear the strikers invading, taking over… but I have personal experience as one of them. The tactics they used back then were brutal and we infested the earth kingdom because nobody took notice to us. And now I’m no longer with them, warning you that if you do as you’ve done before, and do nothing… then they will get stronger, and take your tribe from you… and they will not show the restraint you all have shown to me.” He finished, eyes tightening on the mother’s azure orbs, “If we don’t stop them, nobody will.” Eska and Desna looked to each other, unsure, while the mother’s composure remained.
“You really fear them.” Javik nodded, “I understand your fear, because of their wish to likely hunt you down is stronger than ever.” He frowned, “You came here, hoping to leave with our assistance, but we must leave you empty-handed.” She turned away, “The answer is still no… perhaps you’ll have better luck with President Raiko.”
“…” Javik looked down, “Thank you, for at least entertaining our plea.” He replied respectfully, Ventin Beck turned.
“Chief Mother, please reconsid”-
“Director Beck,” she then replied, “Your daughter just got married, and is expecting a child. Perhaps instead of wasting your time arguing an impossible scenario, you should use that time to spend with your family.” Beck looked away, defeated.
“Of course, thank you.” Right as he uttered that, the three quietly made their way out of the chambers, about to exit when someone stood up, Chief Eska.
“Agent Kato.” She replied, Javik turned, “Though I have to side with my mother, there is someone you can talk to who’s in town.” Desna nodded.
“Our cousin the Avatar is available, no doubt she’ll listen.”
“Yes… her,” Malina replied, somewhat bitterly.
“Thank you.” Javik bowed, before turning and exiting.
This was not the response he wanted, not at all.

MEANWHILE

Connor couldn’t believe this, it had been five years Saren still hadn’t gotten his waterbending back?
“You still haven’t gotten your bending back?” Connor asked, “Even after the Avatar did her thing and”-
“Maybe it just doesn’t work, or”-
“No it does, trust me.”
“Well it didn’t for me.” Saren replied, he flicked his wrist randomly, “No waterbending.” The firebender sat back. “Don’t be so disappointed, I’ve accepted it”-
“Accepted it? You grew up wanting to be a probender star, trained until your bones ache, lost your bending and you just ‘accept it’?”
“Can we stop talking about this?”
“What do the others think, Dai, Yuka, Pip”-
“Dai learned a while ago and he’s fine with it, and I haven’t spoken to Yuka and Pip in”-
“In five years, I know!” Connor replied, irritated, “What about your dad, or Nadi?” Saren looked away, frowning,
“The same.” Connor froze,
“You’re telling me, that you have been avoiding me and all of our friends, and the people who love you, for five years?” Saren looked back to him.
“You sound disappointed.”
“Well I can’t say I’m happy. What happened to the Saren I grew up with? The lively one who was fun to be around?”
“I wouldn’t know.” Saren replied, arms crossed, “I haven’t been that Saren for a long time.” He scoffed, “I guess that Saren grew up, or something.”
“I refuse to believe that.” He frowned. “My best friend is still in there, somewhere beyond all the depressed bartender stuff.” Saren was quick to grab for his shoes, pulling on his white and blue coat. “Where are you going?”
“I need to head out, get some groceries, I’ll be fast.” Connor blinked, “How about you hang here… give you some time to cool down.” The firebender looked down with a sigh.
“Alright, fine…” Connor looked away, watching as the older boy left the apartment, leaving him alone, once again. “Just like old times…”

??? POV

I found myself sticking to the rooftop, eying down at the apartment building Connor had entered. A feeling of anticipation came over me, noticing the guys who had entered the building and followed Connor.
Strikers, wanting to get even with him.
My hand was finicky, shaking on the rail I was leaned over, waiting to see if any fight had started. Using my waterbending, I could sense the bodies of water inside the apartment building, sort of sense the direction Connor went, but I wasn’t strong enough to tell.
It was then I saw something, a taller looking boy walking out of the apartment building with a slight huff, irritated by something. He looked familiar, like I had seen him before, but I couldn’t remember. It was then I noticed that the men that were standing around the building that had followed in after Connor, were now trailing this boy.
So then this was him, the friend Connor mentioned last night, this was Saren. I made sure I had water in my bending pouch, and then trailed him, I wouldn’t let him be hurt for Connor’s choices.

MEANWHILE

“I’m sorry I couldn’t manage to sell them on helping you, Javik.”
“Don’t blame yourself, I’m sure you did everything you could.” The waterbender replied, sitting back in the seat of the satomobile. Beck frowned, looking away. “The royals are scared, but… once they see that we’ve got these things handled, they’ll reconsider.”
“I’d rather they reconsider now.” Beck added. “Before you leave.” The waterbender looked away, his time in the city had come to its end. He could not remain any longer, as he was still needed. The vehicle was being driven by Beck, driving towards Compound Zeta, the new headquarters of the Northern White Lotus. It was a hidden complex, etched inside the retaining wall of the tribe. It was now more open, with more security added to it. It was much more accessible than Maya’s former base of operations, a decrepit castle known as Compound Omega, hidden within a storm to the northwest of the city. They had opted to abandon it, stripping its resources and destroying all remnants of Maya’s regime, Kato had overseen it personally.
An airship was stationed at Zeta, it would be used to bring Javik to Republic City, where he would attempt speaking to President Raiko about the Purist Striker movement. Something told him he’d have the same response.
“Me too,”
“Fat chance,” Crest then added, sitting behind the two. “Chief Mother Malina is not one to change her mind, same for her children.” Javik eyed him, creating a thin veil of guilt in the man’s eyes “I might be one of the elected officials, and in theory we could have the power to overturn them… but most of the council is siding with them.” Crest looked away, “Including Amber, and the Menika boy.”
“Is anyone on our side?”
“Daq Sollus is, he’s our new chairman, but… he’d rather wait and see.” Javik had only met Daq Sollus a few times, and something seemed peculiar about him. A sort of sadness belonged to the man, it honestly reminded him a lot of himself.
“So we’ll just have to wait.” Javik replied, eying out the window. “Seems to be the only thing we can do.” The others nodded silently, as Javk peered out of the car, noticing traffic seemed surprisingly quiet and nonexistent. The ghetto district always had a broken look to it, which would scare away many city-goers, but this was different.
Quiet moments like this, it brought back memories… the ones he regretted.

It was a memory of a man standing there, eying him confused as he entered the room, his eyes very familiar, a bright shade of blue, and dark mocha like skin.
‘What are you doing here?’

He turned away, lips creasing in a downward crescent. As Javik was about to point out his uneasy candor, he heard from there, a sort of… ringing, a humming in the deepest of tones. Javik had just noticed the sound, as did his companions, realizing what it was.
An engine.
A moaning began, and as suddenly as it did, he saw it. It was a sort of garbage truck, appearing inside a presumably empty alleyway. Its lights shot brightly, as it rammed forward. Beck tried to step on the gas, but it was too late. The vehicle slammed right into theirs, pushing them backwards as if gravity has evaporated for a split second, returning with a violent thud. The waterbender’s head etched right on the window to his left, cracking it and blurring his vision.
He heaved silently, noticing Crest’s irritation, as if something was broken, Javik could almost sense it. Beck seemed fine, attached to his seat as the three looked into the blinding lights of the truck, watching them flicker and turn off. A group of what must have been ten people, appeared out of nowhere, now surrounding the vehicle.
They were a rag-tag group, consisting of fire, water, and earthbenders, and a variety of nobenders with weaponry. They seemed to follow an earthbender man, who wore an eyepatch, he seemed familiar to the White Lotus Agent. It was then Javik noticed something that bound them all together.
Upon each of their bodies was a tattoo, of a three pronged circle, diving the three elements excluding air… they were members of the Purist Strikers. A look to Crest and Beck as they came to the same conclusion as Kato did.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Javik Kato,” the eyepatch man began, “You have betrayed the Purist Strikers, and it’s time that you face justice for your crimes against the organization.” Javik scowled, “Come out with your hands up, and your companions will be freed.” Javik turned to the other two, still in the car. The strikers were inches away from forcing them out… and killing him.
Javik groaned, feeling the pain on the left side of his cranium, an easy bruise was starting to form, but that wasn’t just it. He saw something… splintered glass, refracting and distorting the image of the approaching strikers. He looked to Beck, and the earthbender smiled a little, getting the same idea. Crest eyed them as if they were crazy, but accepted the plan nonetheless.

SAREN POV

I dropped a few yuans onto the counter (tip money), leaving without saying anything, only grabbing my bag and walking away. I had a sort of headache, irritated by Connor’s sudden arrival. It probably wasn’t a good idea to leave him alone in my apartment, but I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t just throw him out. As I exited the store, I paused, stepping by the alleyway. I laid the bag down and pulled the letter from my pocket, finding it crumbled. I looked back to it. I had wished that maybe I read wrong, but that wasn’t it at all.
-‘his file gave us little to go on, but it did list yourself and your sister Nadia Namakura as his and Nora Namakura’s last of kin.’
It stung, to be reminded of what happened to mom. Of that accident, when she died. Our family was finally starting to come back together, and then it all just unraveled. I didn’t think about that at the time, I never liked my father, mom cared for me while he cared for Nadia, his favorite, and she was always a better waterbender than I… was. And now suddenly I’m starting to feel guilty, about those times I pushed him away. How I didn’t go with him and Nadia to the South Pole, All those letters I never responded to, and so he’d just start sending only money, and now just nothing.
It began to dawn on me how much I regretted never even getting to say goodbye.
It was then I couldn’t help but be confused about Nadia… had she disappeared somewhere? I assumed she was with him, but if she wasn’t where, where was she?
‘I hate you.’ I frowned, thinking of the last thing she told me, turning away… why did I care what my sister was up to? She was always a jealous brat, never cared for me at all, while I should care about her?
‘Your sister needs you.’ Another voice muttered in my head, and I ignored it… leaning back on the brick wall. Frowning as I studied the letter still. It sounded like I needed to go to Republic City, get my inheritance and maybe figure out what happened, something I wasn’t sure I could do right now. I didn’t have the money, and with Connor showing up out of the blue it made me think he’d be around me for a while. I sighed to myself.
“This is all a huge mess…”
“It sure does,” I turned suddenly, seeing a girl standing there, smiling up to me. Her eyes were a bright azure color, and she seemed almost familiar.
I’ll just say right now she isn’t my sister… and she still nearly scared me half to death.
“I mean, this town is kinda a mess, I’ve grown a little attached, but…” I blinked, watching as she trailed off, taking in more of her features. Her hair was a dark chocolate brown, complementing her mocha colored skin, the softest twang stuck to her voice, telling me she was Southern Water Tribe. A blue scarf hang from her neck, oddly complementing the braid falling behind her head, a single thick braid of brown hair.
She was really cute, I’d admit, only a few years younger than me, maybe Connor’s age. I didn’t feel much of an attraction as much as I was confused. She had an innocent look to her, that I couldn’t tell whether she faked or not, but it caught me off guard.
“Well I’m sure you like it, you look like you’ve been here for a while but I er…” she paused, as if looking away, worried. From what I noticed, it was some guys wandering around.
“Right, well I should get”- her hand caught my shoulder, as she frowned.
“Maybe you should wait here a little bit, wouldn’t want you to get in those guys’ way.” She explained, incoherently. I blinked, while she smiled, leaning at the wall beside me, “They look kinda mean… I mean, I don’t judge people but”-
“Who are you?” I asked, and she shrugged,
“Oh I’m nobody I… I’m just a friend of a friend.” She replied, “And this friend of a friend, thinks you should, er… try to avoid people like that.”
“Why?”
“Oh, well…” she then paused, it was then I noticed her eying some of the guys who had walked by us, one was inside the grocery store, quickly picking up the cashier by the edges of his apron.
“A tall guy came here, looks water-tribe”-
“You’re gonna have to be… more specific”- I turned then, looking back to the girl,
“They’re looking for me?”
“Yeah, um… they got a little confused for some reason that has nothing to do with me, but…”
“But now they’re trying to find me…”
“Yeah… you should maybe go home, probably know this place better than I do, so… stick to the alleyways or whatever… stay safe.” I blinked, as she approached the edge of the alleyway, about to walk away from me, “It’s nice to finally meet you, Saren.”
“How do you know my”- she vanished, entering the storefront, from there I noticed more of the guys heading in, as if rearing for some sort of fight. I wanted to go after her, to make sure she was alright, but then her advice kicked in, and I realized these guys were following me.
It probably had something to do with Connor. I turned my gaze, and absorbing the realization that Connor so suddenly appeared.
What did Connor do?

MEANWHILE

The strikers drew closer to the vehicle, surprised by the odd lack of response. The earthbender who led them, known as Cor had a swift frown covering his face.
“They aren’t responding… maybe they’re knocked out?” a fearful waterbender asked, Cor blinked his only eye.
“No… Fox is craftier than that.” They drew closer, about to go in, when a surprised shift caught them off guard. Cor’s eye widened as glass broke apart from the vehicle, bending outwards through way of earthbending. He kicked down swiftly, pulling up cement from the ground to cover himself, as a few others members did the same, the ones who weren’t fast enough where barraged with pieces of glass, creating thick cuts and sudden trails of blood.
Out from the vehicle came the earthbender known as Ventin Beck, kicking down, and pulling up the car door, using it in conjunction to his metalbending to protect himself. He blocked a stray blast of fire, throwing the door outwards, hitting the firebender as he were targeting him with a Frisbee. Cor shot more rock forward, but out from the car door came Councilman Gallen Crest, who looked to have fractured his left arm, was bending fire from his right first and throwing more strikers off guard.
The fighting paused as Javik Kato then came up from the car, looking down at the strikers, pulling up nearby snow and blocking sudden shots of icicles, absorbing the water into the shield he fastened, throwing more icicles outwards towards the attackers, cutting through their defenses. Everyone paused as it appeared the three had won.
“Fox… it’s really you.” Cor replied. Javik stood his ground.
“Get out of here.”
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple!” Cor replied, kicking his foot down harshly, the ground shook and suddenly from Javik’s view, he saw something, more people approaching, strikers. They were like a wild swarm of people.
It looked like the size of a small army. Javik frowned, watching as more of them approached… he remained resilient.
“You’re outnumbered, I’ll give you one last chance to surrender. The dragon wants to see you.” Cor replied, “And who am I to deny him?”
“Dragon…” Beck muttered, “He doesn’t mean”-
“Of course he does.” Crest sighed, “If Abhik Nishi is in prison, there’s only one man who can be in charge and be able to order them so well.” Javik didn’t respond.
“Stand down now, and”-
“You’ll have to kill us.” Javik replied, brashly. The strikers paused, as did Beck and Crest, Cor nodded.
“…So be it”-
“Wait can we talk about this?” Crest was cut off as ground shook, and they saw someone, a figure in a blue winter coat, jumping downwards with a sudden glow.
The Avatar.
Her hand hit the ground as she landed, with a sudden flicker of her eyes, ground suddenly rose up in sequential order, like tiered stairs, rising and swiftly throwing the small army into disarray. Bodies tossed and falling around. Crest and Beck were caught off guard while Javik did not seem one bit surprised. Cor evaded the attack, but it was too late, they stood no chance. Korra turned.
“Leave now or face the consequences.” She ordered clearly and concisely, Cor looked down, before nodding.
“Fall back!” the strikers began to escape, intending instead to live and fight another day.
Whatever threat they posed, they were nothing in comparison to the avatar, not yet, anyways.
“Avatar Korra…” Beck muttered, eying the woman who had accidently scarred him, “What are you doing here?”
“Just trying to help.” She replied, “Director Beck,” she then added, awkwardly. Crest then grumbled, and fell back onto his ass, leaning at the car.
“So that’s why you didn’t stand down,” he replied, looking to Javik, “You figured the Avatar would bail us out.”
“I did.” Javik admitted, “I had a feeling you were in the neighborhood, and”-
“Don’t you ever do that again.” She replied, eyes on the waterbender.
“Excuse me?”
“Betting their lives on me to save you. It’s reckless.” Korra then replied, Beck and Crest frowned, looking away as Korra knelt down, looking at Crest’s hand. “It’s fractured, I’ll heal it”-
“You don’t have to- ahh…” Crest muttered, as a bright blue light formed over his wrist, Javik shook his head.
“I took a calculated risk, knowing that the only thing the strikers can’t stand against is you.” The Avatar was easily irritated by this, “I wasn’t betting anyone’s life.” Even though Javik was roughly ten years older than her, she had an air of superiority that only a fully realized Avatar could have.
“And yet you did… and if I had been a second slower, all three of you would have been gone.” Javik looked away, “I can accept you being reckless, but keep other people out of it, okay?”
“Or what, you’re gonna throw me into a prison like Kuvira?” Javik asked, and Korra stared up at him.
“What are you doing here?” Crest interrupted, Beck turned.
“She was at Manu and Serena’s reception last night. It’d make sense she’d still be here.” The councilman nodded quietly “but why in the Ghetto district?” Korra looked too him.
“I was visiting a friend.” She took a few steps, eying the totaled car. “So… what was with cyclops back there?” Javik sighed.
“His name’s Cor, he’s a striker.”
“Was he an agent like you?”
“No, he doesn’t even have a code-name. They were targeting us, targeting me”-
“For being a dirty little traitor.” Beck added, Javik nodded. More footsteps began to approach them, and Korra turned, watching as more Northern White Lotus members approached, quick to assist. “Good you got my signal.”
“Our apologies Director Beck.” One muttered, “We didn’t realize the Strikers maintained a presence in this district… are any of you harmed or”-
“Don’t worry, the Avatar bailed us out.” He replied, “No casualties.” Javik shrugged.
‘Apart from my pride’ he found himself thinking.
“Could have used you all a little sooner, they got away.”

CONNOR POV

The apartment was different to what I had recalled Saren moving into. It seemed cheaper, dirtier… but also cleaner in a sense that this place was better picked up than the average apartment in this building. As I walked through the apartment it dawned on me how bored Saren must have been, to resort to cleaning this place so well. I then paused, eying the sword on the mantle in his living room again, confused.
It was the only interesting thing he had around here, and I still hadn’t asked about it.
I had so much on my mind, that I felt like I needed to focus on these simple things to stay functional. The wedding last night wasn’t much help, considering it made me think about ‘her’ again.
I found myself studying his bedroom, finding it as clean as the rest of the apartment, but a little surprised. There was almost nothing in here except for a closet, a bed, and a countertop, with an alarm clock on top, and a thin drawer. Out of curiosity, I opened it, revealing what looked like a book. On the front it read: “Republic City”
I knew exactly what this was, one of the only things Saren took with him to the North Pole. It was the photo album that belonged to his mom, Nora. She liked taking pictures and putting them in this book. I opened it, first noticing the natural pictures of Saren’s parents before and after they got married, and had Saren. I skipped through some more pages, recalling Saren’s situation, how his parents were divorced around the time Nadia was born. They opted for joint custody, and oddly enough remained close, like a full family in everything but name. Nora got the house and Lorik would purchase an apartment to raise Nadia, but he spent enough time at the house that he practically lived there. I wondered if they still loved each other. I kept going through the album, before finding myself smiling, seeing Nadia sitting on her mom’s lap, she resembled Nora so much, same wavy red hair… funny how Saren looked just like his dad.
We met when we were kids, and were inseparable. I could remember the times I came over to play with Saren and his sister. We all grew up together, those were the days. I remembered the times where my brother would have to pick me up, irritating him to no end.
And now… everything’s just so complicated, seeing him like this bothered me so much.
I wanted to show this to him, see if it could try and bring the old Saren back, but I knew that wouldn’t work. I was about to continue going through the album before turning at the swift sound of the apartment’s front door’s knob twisting. I panicked, quickly dropping the book back into the drawer and slamming it shut. I stepped out of the bedroom and there was Saren, standing in front of me. He looked irritated, like something was on his mind.
“Hey pal… you finished cooling off?”
“Are you?” Saren asked, hand wiping his brow, I then turned.
“Where are the groceries you mentioned?”
“Oh I”- Saren looked back to his hand “I forgot them…” he muttered, “Forget about it.” I raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry about how I acted, just…”-
“I get it, it’s been a while, I got a little mad too, but it’s okay.” I replied, lying. We were just going to try and ignore the ‘fight’ we had, give ourselves more time to mull over. That was our typical thing.
I’m glad we at least still have that.
“So then,” Saren then added, “I met someone who seemed to know me,” I turned, “She claimed the strangest thing… that I was being followed.” I froze, thinking on that.
“Did you get her name or”-
“She didn’t give it, but she knew mine.”
“…” Saren turned, eying me directly.
“They looked like strikers, they’ve never followed me before, until you showed up today.” I fumed quietly, was he accusing me of leading them here?
In that case I was probably guilty.
“I didn’t notice them, I”-
“Why are they following you? I thought you were one of their best agents or something.”
“That’s the thing,” I frowned, “I was.”
“Connor…” Saren’s eyes raised, mortified from what he heard. Because he knew very well what happens to people who leave the strikers. Before he said anything, we heard a rough knocking on the door. Saren turned and we heard a voice.
“Open up!” It was urgent and angry. Saren was about to go to the door, when I stopped him.
“It’s them!” I whispered,
“That’s what I figured… I thought that girl handled them, but”-
“OPEN UP, or we’re tearing down!” Saren looked to me.
“Hide… I’ll try to figure out what’s going on.” I obeyed, lining up towards the wall of the door, as Saren opened the door. “Hello? You don’t look like police, or my landlord”-
“We’re looking for someone, boy with black hair, orange eyes, kind of a loner-“
“I wouldn’t know anyone like that.” Saren stalled, while I remained waiting there.
“Really… because just a few hours ago we saw you letting that boy into this apartment.” I breathed impatiently, while Saren frowned.
“You must be mistaken, or”- I lost my temper and jumped out from cover, looking to see a group of three striker members standing in front of the door. Quickly my fist slammed forward, a blast of fire etched into them, throwing them all back against the wall. “What the hell!?” Saren yelled as I locked the door and pushed his desk in front of it.
“You tried it your way, and it didn’t work!” I countered, “I doubt this’ll hold them, so we need to get out of here!” Saren raised an eyebrow.
“Who’s we? They’re after you”-
“Not anymore, they know your face, and that you’re my friend.” I replied, looking to him, “And I can’t leave you, knowing that they could catch you.” Saren scowled… taking it in. “We need to get out of here, together.”

SAREN POV

I couldn’t believe this, all of a sudden Connor was asking this of me?
He was asking me to leave?
“Why’d you even leave the strikers to begin with? You were with them for five years, what changed?” I asked, Connor frowned.
“It’s complicated, okay?” I looked away. I could hear the strikers slamming my door, splintering it. “Saren, I need you to trust me.” I studied him at that, his eyes. He didn’t come here to betray me, something told me he didn’t plan for any of this.
“What do I do?” Connor smiled.
“Is there a way out of here?”
“There’s a fire escape, I’ve never used it but”-
“Can’t say that anymore.” He nodded, “I’d say pack up, but I doubt you have much time.” I pouted a little, I was quick to grab a backpack I had lying around, rushing to pack a few changes of clothes and toiletries. I already had my wallet with me, and was dressed to start running. I had spent maybe fifty seconds packing when we were out of time. “Okay, you’re gonna need a weapon since you have bending, so…” he awkwardly muttered, eying something on my wall.
The sword.
“You can’t be serious”-
“Why do you even have that thing?”
“It came with the apartment. Some guy who owned this place ran a weapon shop, wanted to try and attract more customers”-
“So it’s real then?” I didn’t know whether this was his urgency, or his actual curiosity, something told me he had been wondering about the sword all day and was too polite to not ask about it. He picked it up off of the mantle, holding it awkwardly and swinging blindly. “This’ll work”- he handed it off to me, which I took with a grain of salt.
“I don’t know how to use this, I”-
“No better time to learn than the present.” Connor smiled, and I pouted, the door kept splintering, and suddenly one of their hands appeared through it, moving to unlock the door. Connor looked to me and I lead him to another door that led outside to a thin patio. I revealed the fire escape, it was a single ladder that led down to the patio below, and another from there, it went down into an alleyway. I held the broadsword in one hand while climbing down with the other.
As the strikers entered my apartment, a wave of confusion took over them.
“Where’d they go?”
“They’re hiding!”
“So then, where to?” I muttered, looking up to Connor above me. He sighed.
“Just follow me, I know where to go.” Somehow that didn’t instill confidence in me.
“Sure you won’t get lost this time?”
“Oh haha.”

ONE HOUR LATER

The four found themselves back at Compound Zeta, having successfully escaped the district. Korra had stuck with them until they could figure out a course of action. They were currently in the hanger bay area, where the airship was prepping to take Javik to Republic City.
“Maybe we could try talking to their majesties again?” Beck supposed, Korra shook her head.
“My Aunt won’t listen, Eska and Desna too… they aren’t interested in war.” Javik nodded.
“We can’t rely on them, they don’t trust our organization and I don’t blame them.”
“Yeah…” Korra then muttered, looking away. Maya had brainwashed her, forced her to fight to keep the city under her control. This proved just how crafty and dangerous the white lotus could be.
It was hard to imagine that it was all stopped by a pure hearted young girl who sacrificed everything to give them a second chance.
“When those guys attacked you,” Korra added, “Did they say anything?” Javik frowned,
“Just that they were under orders by the dragon.”
“So him.” she muttered, “Silas.”
“He’s in charge now, and it looks like I’m of interest to him.” Javik found himself turning, seeing a man approaching.
“Sir, the police have reported more striker activity.” Javik sighed, “Agent Shiki confirmed that one of the targets is former striker Connor Makoto.” Korra turned.
“Connor… that boy during Project Winter?” She had recalled seeing him at the wedding the day before.
“He was one of Silas’s students,” Javik added, “Anything else?”
“Apparently he was hiding with a companion named Saren Namakura.” Javik blinked, looking away. “We presume Connor is the target, and”-
“No he’s not.” Javik stated, wiping his brow. “Where are the two now?”
“We don’t know sir… Shiki is following but hasn’t reported.” Javik heaved silently, nodding.
“I had a feeling something like this would happen”-
“Like what?” Korra asked, Beck and Crest both nodded.
“That Silas had more planned than we thought.” He stepped away, “I need a vehicle,” a man swiftly hurried away.
“Where are you going?” Korra asked.
“I can’t risk contacting my agent on radio, they could be listening in,”
“I’m coming with you.” She stated, Javik frowned, “She’s a friend, after all.”

SAREN POV

Connor had led me to the docks of the tribe, a place I wasn’t fully familiar with, only being here once. I dragged the sword beside me, confused. The harbor was lively, brimming with people, boats prepared to stay and leave. Someone could get lost here.
“So what’s the plan?”
“Easy, we buy tickets and head to the Earth Kingdom… I don’t have enough for the Republic” Connor stated, “I have a friend in Su Hiron who can help us.”
“So we’re just leaving the tribe?”
“Only thing we can do, you don’t happen to have a girlfriend or friends you need to say goodbye to, right?”
“I wouldn’t happen to”-
“Convenient, come on.” Connor directed, he reached the ticket booth, swiftly requesting the tickets for the nearest trip. In his hands I noticed a large pouch of money, something told me he probably stole it. I found myself looking away, eying the boats in the harbor… taking it in.
I guess there’s no turning back now.
It was then as I eyed the boats, I noticed some unsavory characters… bigger guys, looked a lot like the ones who attacked us… one of them had an eyepatch.
The strikers new we were trying to leave.
“Uh Connor.” I muttered, he finished and got the tickets, turning and eying the harbor as I did.
“Hm… looks like Cor’s doing well.” I turned, “This might be a problem.”
“You think?” I whispered. I bell rang, and I looked to see it was one of the nearby boats preparing to go.
“The three o’clock ferry to Su Hiron will be going soon. All passengers come aboard!” Connor heaved silently, and looked to me.
“You ready to use that sword?”
“What?”
“Because it’s time to go!” From there he bolted straight out of cover, shooting a swift blast of fire towards the strikers who had been looking for us. I found myself following him awkwardly, no idea what we were doing. I attempted to get around the strikers on the harbor, but the man known as Cor pointed at me.
“There’s the target!” he didn’t even look at Connor.
“Shit.” Connor shot another stray bolt at them, while I got behind a crate, watching as sudden shots of cement blasted towards me. Connor followed up with more attacks giving me a chance to get out of cover. I ran heavily, pausing as one of the nonbenders closed in on me with a knife. I held up the sword weakly to block as Cor turned.
“You remember the Dragon’s orders, don’t hurt him!” He directed, while I took that chance to kick the guy away and hurry to the boat. The ticket taker was totally confused by the carnage, and the stray shots of elements going towards us. Connor was holding off the brim of the attack. I handed the man my ticket.
“One for Su Hiron.” I replied, the man frowned.
“We don’t allow weapons on the ship”-
“I don’t like it either!” and like that I ran onboard.
Connor followed after me, pushing the ticket onto the man as more of the strikers went after us. We managed to get onto the boat, standing together as the boat began to close up and start moving. The eyepatch man grew irritated, about to jump from there with his earthbending.
“Awe come on!” Before he could even make the jump, a sudden tendril of water shot outwards, gripping him by the side, and tossing him away into the crate I had hid beside. “What?” The strikers paused as that girl appeared again, the one with the brown hair and the scarf. She swiftly joined the fight and gave our ship cover to escape. They became smaller as a shocked look came to Connor’s eyes, as he eyed her.
“What’s Kokoro doing here?” I turned.
“That’s her name?” I asked, “That’s the girl who talked to me.” I explained, “I suppose she’s a friend.”
“You could say that.” She waved to us as the ferry kept moving. I saw her resume to fighting, it was so odd.
She fought exactly how a waterbender should, using the attacker’s strength against them.
She and the rest of the harbor vanished, leaving myself and Connor alone to our thoughts. He leaned down, as if worried.
“We should go back, we should”-
“She seemed just fine back there.” I replied, and Connor sighed. Clearly he was worried about the girl.
“For now… but she’s a run-away too… and if they catch her-”
“How many people are there that left the strikers?”
“Not enough…” Connor turned, “People like her and me, and we’re just rogues trying our hardest to keep away… to hide.
“…”
“The strikers did something that I couldn’t forgive, that’s why I left.” Connor frowned, remaining seated there. “Just… thanks for coming along, I needed to feel like I wasn’t alone.” I nodded.
It dawned on me… like how I pushed away my father, I pushed Connor away too.
So I suppose that needed to change.
“Well it’s not like I have anywhere else to be.” Connor smiled slightly, I turned, looking over the railing of the ship, watching the place I had called home for the past five years vanish from sight. “So where do we go after Su Hiron?”
“I don’t know… you have any ideas?” I huffed quietly, pulling Kevo Larr’s letter from my pocket again, eying the ink that read ‘republic city.’
“Republic City… that’s where I want to go.” Connor turned, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, at home.”
“You got it then… that’s where we’ll go.” he smiled. “Let’s go home.”

KOKORO POV

I had taken care of most of Cor’s henchmen, but Cor himself had escaped. Out of surprise, I saw someone approaching, a man and a woman roughly my age.
“Javik?” I turned, my mentor smiled, while Korra held her arms crossed, eying the downed strikers.
“You did all this?” she asked, casually impressed. I looked to Javik.
“Connor and Saren got away on the ship, they’re heading to Su Hiron.”
“The fishing village where that friend of yours is…” Javik muttered, I nodded.
“I don’t think Connor’s the main target, I think they wanted Saren, but I don’t know why.”
“Well, Silas Akiko was friends with his father, there’s definitely a connection there.” I nodded, Korra turned.
“Maybe these thugs can tell us more.” As I noticed, more white lotus agents and police officers approached, quickly apprehending the guys I took out. I looked to Javik.
“I want to go after them.” Javik turned, “You told me my mission was to safeguard Connor and make sure he got out of here in one piece. But he’s still not safe, neither of them are.” I responded, Javik eyed me quietly. “I know you promised my mom that after this mission I’d see her in He Shui. But I can’t go back knowing Connor’s in trouble.”
“…” Javik turned, looking away, eying the water, and the boat that my friend had left on. “Kokoro Shiki, your mission has changed.” I smiled, “You’re to go after them, safeguard them from the strikers.” Korra turned.
“Are you sure? I could go after them, I”-
“No… it needs to be someone Connor trusts. Besides, I needed to ask for your assistance in talking to Raiko”-
“You got it.” Korra replied, no questions asked.
“You’re just saying yes?” I asked curiously. Korra turned.
“I know what Silas and his strikers are capable of, if I can assist than I will…” Javik nodded, “Besides, I’ve been meaning to go back to Republic City for a while now, my er… girlfriend is probably worried about me.” I turned away, as Javik’s hand grasped my shoulder.
“Be careful… and don’t reveal yourself to them, we might need them to cooperate with us at some point.”
“Don’t worry… I won’t let you down.” I replied, before turning and hugging my mentor for a brief moment. For some reason he seemed odd at the sudden embrace, as if something was on his mind.
“Just… don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” I nodded. I turned, swiftly approaching the water and pressing my hand forward, freezing a piece of it, which I jumped on. I waved to Javik and the Avatar as I rowed my hands forward, following the boat.
I wasn’t going to let anyone down.

THREE HOURS LATER
??? POV

His study was dark, almost gloomy. I heaved silently, pacing forward and approaching from behind, watching as the man in black meditated, a single candle sat before him, the flame’s color was green.
“Dragon,” I muttered, recalling how Silas would rather not be referred to by his name. It was something Abhik did back when he was in charge… better to be looked up on as a legend instead of reality.
“Hawk… what is it?”
“I got a call from Cor, they couldn’t apprehend Namakura and Ghost.”
“…Hm, somehow I figured that’d happen.”
“He said they’re heading to Su Hiron…”
“They’ll want to reach Republic City.”
“We’re creating a western border as we speak, from Shaylim all the way to Angquin… we’ll close in on them and”-
“Something tells me it won’t be that easy.” He replied, “I want you to personally go after them.”
“Me? But you need me here”-
“What I need, is for Namakura to be acquired.” Silas stood up, facing me. The candle barely lit his face, darkening much of it, only his eyes appeared. “Can I trust you to do this for me, Nikta?” He asked, hands grasping my shoulders, gaining my full attention.
“Of course… but why me?”
“Because in Su Hiron, they’ll likely seek assistance from an old friend of yours.” I scowled.
“You mean Crow.” I had heard she was in Su Hiron, and we had tried hunting her down, to little success.
“This may be the game changing piece you’ll need to catch that traitor.” He turned away. “Keep me posted on all their movements… and do not harm Namakura.”
“Yes sir.” I saluted, as he returned to his meditation. I left the room, leaving him alone to his thoughts. “As you wish…”
Avatar Crossroads: Crucible Chapter 1
This is a Fanfiction I wrote for the OC's of :iconardnemla: and :iconquackylu: And myself.

Well, this is the first actual chapter of the story. this was an interesting one because I had to juggle multiple perspectives while also trying to begin Saren's character arc. As you can see it starts a little before Winter's ending and continues right from the point it ended in the epilogue. I really wanted to have that to connect the stories since essentially it's supposed to jump start a whole new trilogy based on characters only glimpsed in the Arrow Trilogy.

I'm really excited for Saren's development just because he's a character I've been figuring how to put into crossroads for a long time, and now he's one of the new protagonists. I have a lot planned for him, and I think it'll be especially interesting to see his relationships with others, and his family.

We start a lot of stuff with this, and I'm not entirely happy with how Saren and Connor's side of the story turned out (originally would have more, but I cut it out so I wouldn't make this a two-parter because there's just not enough content for a two parter.

As mentioned Javik returns as one of the main characters, he has his own plotline that's very independent of Saren and Connor, though connected. The idea is that he is the character who interacts with Avatar characters while the trio has their misadventures. I really like his meeting with "Chief-Mother" Malina, who I imagine to be almost akin to Cersei Lannister, except not as blood thirsty. Mainly I just liked writing dialogue for the twins, having them tease Crest. They'll show up again in the story, though not in the first half.

Though Korra will be interesting to see, as she'll become a sort of partner for Javik.

We're also re-introduced to Nikta who serves as an interesting viewpoint character for the bad guys, Silas's perspective will be in third person instead of first person as it was in Winter.

Anyways, Chapter 2 will be titled "The Hawk and the Crow" and it will feature the return of an old favorite of mine.

Prologue: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…

Chapter 2: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…
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Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

Our world has changed greatly in the past hundred years. I was a little girl when the Hundred-Year War was brought to its end by Avatar Aang. With his and Firelord Zuko’s leadership, the earth kingdom colonies became the United Republic of Nations. I grew up in the new world our Avatar had helped to forge. And as I grew, my family grew with me, living through the changes within the past seventy five years… I had lived to see the rise of another Avatar, Avatar Korra of the Southern Water Tribe, who valiantly guided our world through turmoil at every end.
Much had transpired since the awakening of the spirit portals, and the fall of Kuvira… I know this because of how personally connected to me it was… how it had little to do with the Avatar. My grand-daughter, an airbender named Aimee and her friends uncovered and defeated an Equalist conspiracy in the Earth Kingdom city of Shaylim. They freed a desert of its own inner turmoil and allowed a lost outcast to realize her destiny and save her people from the clutches a mad warlord. Within that desert a lost and forgotten hollow air nomad city that was safeguarded by Avatar Aang was rediscovered, but discarded once again to history. And in the Northern Water Tribe, they brought peace to my son in law’s family, and brought a shadowy organization into the light… reuniting a mother with her child for however briefly it was.
These stories, as tall and wild as they sounded weren’t without sacrifice. At every end Aimee and her friends suffered, and struggled. But in the end, as unknown as their actions were, I truly believe they had helped to change the world much like the Avatar has.
But now a dark figure from my past has risen, assuming control of the group that had been responsible for so much of my granddaughter’s suffering. A group known as the Purist Strikers, a wicked organization once dedicated to the separation of cultures, and the destruction of the air nomads. Now their goals aren’t so simple, and I am saddened to say their goals might bring the end to the world Avatar Aang created. Aimee is not their target this time, but another person dear to me is… a boy haunted by the Equalist Revolution.
This is the story of how this boy, his friends, family, and the Avatar saved the world from my mistake.

The Firenation harbor held a whiff of foreboding to us as our ship pulled back into it, having left the same space nearly two months ago, nothing had changed in the slightest. My hands hung to the railing of the space, fingers fidgeting as I saw someone who stood there, among the crowd of workers. Her eyes were a bright amber color, complementing her deep red robes, and porcelain skin tone, much different from my darker tones. She was older than me, blonde hair draped down her neck, looking to begin to change color to white.
I had expected her to have more of a smile, but instead… all I saw was confusion, studying me and the man to my side. No doubt she was curious about two more of our companions who she could not see among us. The old man’s green eyes gave me a sympathetic look as our ship docked.
“Kid… if you don’t want to face her”-
“No, I have to.” I replied, “I owe her that much.” The old man nodded, sighing.
“Too bad that rich-kid isn’t here,” Chief (what we called him) sighed, “She’s his master, right?”I looked away,
“I’m gonna talk to her, try to explain what happened, you stay in the ship with… with”-
“Got it,” the man replied, “I’ll get the case ready to move, don’t worry.” I nodded to my companion, approaching the plank leading down to the harbor, I stepped down there, standing on solid land for the first time in three days. The old woman’s eyes remained on me as I stepped closer to her, features became more noticeable, like the patterns of her robe and the wrinkling in her skin.
She looked so much like my friend.
I realized I didn’t have it in me to face her, not like this… not while the pain was this intense.
“Lorik…” She muttered, orange eyes on me. “I’m glad to see you’re alright.”
“Hello Sifu,” I uttered, scratching my neck. The woman wasn’t my teacher, but I looked up to her as one. “It’s been a while, almost a month”- I hadn’t tracked the days, I simply assumed that was how long it had been.
“When I received your hawk, I was almost surprised, didn’t expect you all to come back so soon.”
That’s the word that killed me… All, as in all of us, when in reality it was only half of us.
“Why didn’t I see my student on the ship, why isn’t he down here with us”-
“Silas is fine… I’m fine” I lied, holding no clue to where our lost friend could be. He was on our ship one moment, but the next, he was gone… and for good reason. The woman nodded, as if I alleviated some sort of symptom.
“That’s good to hear, I had a strange feeling a couple days ago, but… it’s good to hear that was just a feeling,” I turned more, “I’m sure Alana took good care of you three then”- A chill went down my spine at the mention of that name.
“Sifu, I”-
“Where is she?” I paused, “I didn’t see her on the boat, and all I saw were you and Mr. Chun.” I frowned, unable to say anything. For the longest time I was silent, leaving the woman confused even more than she was at the beginning of our conversation. I couldn’t articulate the words in any way to explain what had happened. “Is something wrong? You seem different.” I wouldn’t dare look her in the eyes.
“…” I tried to focus on something else, wishing for the moment to simply disappear, but I knew it wouldn’t. The fidgeting came back, and I couldn’t control it.
“Lorik, talk to me… where is she?” The woman asked, and I scowled, “Where’s Alana?” It was then I turned, looking back to the boat, Chun stood there, having picked something up, a bundle, covered in bandages, tightened all around it. He seemed to have figured I was taking too long. A confused look came upon the woman’s face, eying the bundle, I couldn’t hold it back anymore… seeing a look of terror come upon her.
“I’m so sorry, Mizuki.”


I shook away from the day-dream… one of the many moments that had been ingrained into my subconscious. It was as if I was reliving the same moment again and again. But that was fine, that was my cross to bear, no one else’s. I wiped sweat from my brow, as if it wipe away remnants of the distant memory. It helped to look away at something, something that would ease the pain. In this case, a photograph resting on top of the desk I was at, beside it were some maps I was looking through that were important to my work. I was the leader of a very secretive research group. we were stationed in the Southern Water Tribe, hidden within the Everstorm, which had oddly become more active ever since the creation of the third spirit portal.
Much had happened since the day I walked away from Mizuki, nearly twenty-eight years had passed.
I remained focused on the picture, on it was the four of us, me, Nora and our kids. Despite the termination of our marriage years before, Nora wanted the picture to be taken. As a statement of our dedication to our family, despite our own ruptured bond. I was thankful to have it now, to pretend it was the truth, that we were always happy before the accident.
To my side of the picture, a young darker skinned boy who looked much like me stood there with his mother’s hand over his shoulder. His sister had the same complexion but wild orange hair flickering like down her neck like a fire, maintaining the same color as her mother’s but not the order Nora’s hair had. He was ten, she was six… we had a couple more pictures like this from later periods, but I liked this one the most.
My hand grasped at the glass frame, feeling the pain slip away, when I then heard something, swift rumblings. It was the feeling of a tremor, as if the compound was shaking from the outside. I stood up, bracing myself on the desk, a man hurried in through the door, looking to me, frantically.
“Dr. Namakura!” he fearfully begun, “I”-
“I know, they found us.” I replied, arms crossed, “Had to happen at some point.”
The day when ‘he’ and his Strikers would find me.
“What do we do?” I eyed him, “I just looked outside, their numbers are massive, and they took out our outer guards.” I scowled.
We had intended to consider moving our operation a week ago, it was a reason why we were beginning to downsize on guard placements… to draw less attention. But now we were compromised.
I approached the microphone attached to a nearby wall, hastily beginning, “Members of the facility, do not panic, we are being invaded by the Strikers… all bending personal are to retaliate, and all nonbending need to destroy our research, we cannot risk losing it to them.” As I finished the sentence, I felt the compound shaking again, throwing me into the wall why the main hit the ground. The frame nearly fell from the desk, until I caught it. “We all knew this day we coming… so fight, and evacuate… you all remember the plan in case of invasion.” I finished, dropping the microphone. The man on the ground had a slightly goofy smile, looking up to me.
“Nice speech sir.” I nodded, before referring him to the maps at my side, “Hm?”
“Burn them, Setchim.” I replied, the man frowned.
“But what of the plan? And the colony?”
“Don’t worry, we sent copies to the others, if all goes well… this’ll only set us back a couple months.” The man nodded, while I eyed the picture frame in my hands, “I have all I need” assistant obeyed, hands pushing forward, bright orange flames ebbed from his palms, the maps charred and turned to ash, as did the wooden desk. I referred him to the book case and he obeyed, it all vanished as I approached the door leading out of the room and into a white and blue hallway, walls were made of ice while the flooring was tiling.
Setchim followed me, eyes widening as we saw striker forces battling against more of our security. It was like a scene in those new war movers. The strikers still looked rag-tag, though with a strange sort of uniformity akin to the Earth Empire era. They used different elements, fighting my guards and research crew. I swiftly got behind cover, Setchim did the same, edging up from cover to expel a flame towards one of the attackers, throwing them off base, surprised.
My crew looked thankful as I eyed the invaders, ducking out of cover to grip a chunk of ice from the wall, firing it towards another striker. Another eyed me, surprised.
“That’s the target!” Setchim shot more flames to him, throwing him to the ground as one of our earthbenders pulled up tiling to trip the invaders. One fell, while I pulled more ice from the walls, a chunk formed as my hands circled together. I shot my foot down, pulling my hands apart, and like it, the chunk threw apart, pieces shot forth in all directions, taking out the last of our enemies for now. They fell to the ground, knocked out or dead… I didn’t care which.
The researchers were thankful, while I scowled, noticing two of them were on the ground, dead. And a few more were wounded, limping and leaning on the walls.
They weren’t kidding around here.
“Thank you Doctor!”- I crossed my arms, eying them,
“Any word on how the other areas of the base are?”
“A lot of us got out even before your message started.” The self-proclaimed leader of the group replied, I smiled a little. We were very prepared for this, sadly not in the way I wanted. “Don’t worry, we’ve taken care of most of the research, the Strikers will have a hard time replicating what we did here.”
“They won’t be interested in that at all,” I then replied, causing a slight glimmer of a frown, “But others will.” The building shook more, and we turned, looking to the sound of footsteps. More of ‘his’ troops were invading.
I dug forward, looking to see as striker fighters were going towards us. My hands clenched, and I pulled, gripping the walls of the hallway and pulling them together. Sure it wasn’t marketed to be a good idea, but I was livid over losing more of my staff. It shook together like an avalanche, covering the strikers in collapsed snow, throwing much of it into the air. I heaved silently before looking to the others.
“The ones who survived will break through,”
“Then what do we do?”  A man asked, Setchim turned.
“We can take ‘em, let them come”-
“No,” I ordered, “All of you are to evacuate, I can’t have your deaths hang on my conscience.” They stared at me, wide eyed in their white lab coats. “It sounds like most of research had been handled, so I need you to take the underground passage and get out of here while you still can.” One eyed me as we heard swift shifting through the snowy debris.
“Aren’t you coming with us, Doctor?”
“I’m afraid not… You heard what they said, they’re here for me.” Confusion swept them, as I turned, “What are you waiting for? Leave!” they obeyed, moving while Setchim remained glued to my side. “Go”-
“No sir, I’m not afraid of a fight.” I turned.
“It’s not your destiny for you to be taken by my enemies.” I replied, hand on his shoulder, “If you want to help me… then get our people out of here.”
“…” Setchim looked away, scowling at the order. “Very well… give them hell, Lorik.” I agreed, and watched as he led them out.
If I was captured, Setchim would continue the operation. I had half the mind to send him to find my son, knowing he may become a target, but I reasoned our adversaries weren’t interested in him.
Much like… how I was never interested in him.
The firebender and the others hurried away as I looked back to the frozen rubble, sensing that they were almost through.
The moment I sensed he was gone, I squatted lightly, scooping my hands forwards and pulling away. Finally I pushed forward, and like a pressurized machine, the rubble heaved forward, blasting through the attackers. Two waterbenders evaded, one created sharp twin icicle blades from his wrists while another was preparing to use more long distance methods.
I feinted to the left, drawing the close combat enthusiast to the side, while I swiftly bent water to my right hand and pushed on the man’s back. Water shot into him, throwing him into the wall, which I swiftly gripped, combining with pieces of ice to throw towards the other waterbender.
She jumped out of the way, pulling ice from the walls to attempt to trip me up, but I predicted that, gripping the broken pieces of ice that came from the icicle blade and shot it forward, managing a hit and throwing the woman down. The waterbender I threw was back up, raging towards me, but I bent more water to my wrist as he jumped to me. A thin icicle formed upon my knuckle as I evaded his attack, jabbing into his neck, the man paused at the sudden bolt of pain. I swiftly gripped more ice from the wall, creating a sort of club, slamming it effortlessly through the man’s head, hitting and causing the attacker to pass out, I noticed drops of blood coming from his neck.
Against my better judgement I bent down, pulling water to the space and healing it. As I finished, I heard something a sort of laughter. I turned away, seeing someone, a woman who was roughly my son’s age… that was the only thing they had in common.
“Wow, I knew dogs were loyal, but… honorable?” I studied her, she had smooth almost shiny black hair that could lead down to her waist, pulled together in a pony-tail. Her skin reminded me of Mizuki’s, white as porcelain… but it wasn’t pure, it looked ghastly, as if turned whiter by ill temperament. Her clothes was clearly suited for the Southern Tribe’s climate, a form-fitting red coat covered her, and hands wore sleeveless gloves. The coat was adorned with weapons… kunai knives, shuriken and other such kit looking a lot like the kind used in ancient fire nation folk-lore. Not Kemurikage, but something else.
She almost looked feral, like a wild animal… unpredictable and untamed.
I didn’t say anything, as she stepped forward arrogantly, for some reason something smelled off putting about her.
“Who are you?” I asked, no doubt she was a striker, I could tell from the black three pronged circle tattoo over her exposed skin leading to her neck.
“Does it matter? All you need to know is I’m here for you, old man… and all the people who just died, were because of you.”
“I’ll give you one warning, girl, leave now… and I won’t have to kill you.” Her grin heightened.
“As if, I am not in the mood to disappoint the new boss.” She simply replied, “Besides… I know you’re bluffing… dog.” My eyes remained locked on her as I couldn’t help but smile slightly.
“Well… you have me there.” The nonbender’s finger itched the shuriken in her hand as she spiked it forward, I pulled towards myself, blocking with ice and then swiftly fragmenting the piece and firing icicles into the animal. She seemed to predict that, rolling out of the way of my icicles and throwing more shurikens. I deflected two of them as she kicked off the wall, drawing closer and cutting forward with her kunai. I barely evaded the swipe, recognizing the smell… it was laced with black pythonaconda venom… a dangerous poison that I knew not to mess with. I bent more water to my hand, creating a blade to block the dagger, she growled, looking at me, irises blood red… a look of unjustifiable hate covered her.
“You’re not gonna make this easy, are you?” I broke the lock, jumping back and firing stray shots of ice towards her. She evaded, as I attempted to keep my distance, creating a thin wall of ice to throw at her, but instead she simply flipped over it, perfect precision with her hands. As she landed I shot more ice towards her, one finally managed to hit and threw her back.
I then saw more of her troops approaching from behind both her and myself, ready to attack… as much as I could try and handle her, I wasn’t a one man army… I looked back, briefly… wondering if Setchim and the others had fully escaped. I was out-numbered by them all.
… And so I decided to do something stupid.
I stepped down harshly, pulling towards myself, the nonbender eyed me, confused when from my grip the hallway shook one final time. I pulled swiftly, and with haste the walls fell apart, coming down on us all in a sudden avalanche of ice.  I blanked out that moment, unable to comprehend what had just happened, what I had just done… tearing apart the only home I had known in the past three years.
Everything went silent in the blast, I couldn’t comprehend my surroundings… everything was dark and cold. The quiet remained for the longest time… I had no idea if I would die or not, though I knew anything would be preferable to being captured. I had a pocket of air, allowing me to breath for what felt like an hour, when I leaned upwards, coming to from my hour long coma. I dug myself out using my bending, discovering how dark everything had gotten. Firebenders were everywhere, holding orange flames gleaming in their hands… they were going through the destruction I had wrought… rescuing their own people and no doubt looking for me.
The nonbender animal was among them, standing beside a man in black… the darkness made him harder to notice… he gave off an eerie feeling, one of de ja vu.
He was a firebender, and he too created a torch of flames, but instead of orange, they were a wicked shade of green.
“I thought you said you could take him”-
“This is not my fault, I can’t help that he’s suicidal”-
“I needed him alive,”-
“I know that, don’t lecture me!” she barked, like a child that did not get her way. I eyed them, weakly… the cold had gotten to me, I could feel my joints going numb, my own motor functions growing dull. The moon stared down at us, almost hidden by the everstorm.
“How many of his people do you reckon got away?”
“Not too many, we had some people follow them in the tunnel, but they were stopped.”
“…” The man was much older than her, twice her age, but few years older than me as well. His voice was as arrogant as I remembered it to be…
“Why’s he important anyways? He’s just a stupid dog like the rest of them”- I could see a few water tribe members eying the woman’s statement, but didn’t dare to challenge her.
“I’d be careful with that tongue Victoria, you wouldn’t want it to be cut away.” She scowled,
“But you could have taken him yourself… if this is personal then”-
“It’s something that goes well beyond personal.”
As I softly stood there, I then watched as the man turned, looking to me. I tried to do something, to attack in some way, but instead… I grew too weak, and I fell to the ground, passing out from the cold.
“He’s alive,” this Victoria murmured, “How convenient.” The man didn’t respond, he stepped towards me, with a few other strikers approaching.
“Good news, we found what we’re looking for.” The man turned, “get the vehicles ready to go when the rescue is finished.”
“…” I tried to talk, but I couldn’t say anything, as my eyes remained open and the man stood over me, hand holding his flames. It held a sinister quality to it, illuminating his face. I studied him, looking to see amber eyes look much of the firenation… “Si…” I muttered weakly, he smiled while more of his men approached me.
“Lorik, it’s been a long time…” He muttered almost sinisterly. “How’s the wife and kids?” I scowled, “Sorry, sore subject?”
“Silas…” And he smiled, eyes gleaming with amber.
“Good, you remember me… that’s excellent because we have much to talk about, old friend.”
And everything faded to darkness.

AVATAR CROSSROADS: CRUCIBLE
Avatar Crossroads: Crucible Prologue
This is a Fanfiction I wrote for the OC's of :iconardnemla: and :iconquackylu: And myself.

This Prologue (and therefor the story it's attached to) contains spoilers for Crossroads Spirit, Mirage, and Winter.

Well, here it is, the prologue to Crucible. To be honest this chapter took a while to figure out because it required that I had figured out much of the story at this point. To keep things short and sweet it focusses on Saren's father Lorik, and our re-introduction to an old foe from Winter.

There's also hinting towards an event that transpired thirty years before the story begins.

Not much to really say, the next chapter will pick up right where Winter left off. I've already have many of the next chapters written.

Winter Epilogue: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…

Chapter 1: agentqv.deviantart.com/art/Ava…
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Happy New Year, my break is going well, I go back to school on the eleventh so I'm working on Crucible more. It's going well and I'm excited for the current chapter (where Mac is reintroduced) but I realized that I forgot where his striker tattoo was(a recurring issue with Connor and Kokoro) so I decided to write this entry as a future reference for where my characters (that are strikers/former strikers) has their tattoos.

Tattoo locations:
Naava: Left organization before policy began. In Mirage the claim is that her scar is ‘her identification’
Javik: Never received tattoo because of his work in the Shen Jing.
Angela: Right upper arm.
Connor: Backside of left hand, wears glove over it.
Mac: Left bicep, typically covered by gray armband.
Kokoro: Outer wrist on right arm covered by sleeve.
Tanya: Middle of upper back.

deviantID

AgentQV
Quentin
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Midwest
Personal Quote: "I'm Batman!"

My name's Quentin, and I'm a college sophomore. I am an avid fan of the avatar series(the cartoon) as well as Star Wars and other series. I am very much into video games, though my favorites usually tend to be JRPGs(Japanese Role Playing Games), because I really love stories, and I love telling them, that's why I've been dedicating my time to writing fanfiction. For the most part, my writing has been dedicated to the original characters by ardnemla.deviantart.com/
Though I'm slowly branching out to include my own characters.
This is about to culminate in a fanfiction I've begun writing named "Avatar Crossroads: Crucible." There will be more on that bellow.

Synopsis of my works,

Spirit: Set in an alternate timeline after Chapter 6 of the Comic, the group finds themselves in the Earth Kingdom City of Shaylim. Here they attend the annual festival of spirit, a celebration of the human spirit. They quickly develop a friendship with the suave and wealthy Hideki Sakamato, but not everything is as it seems, as they find themselves at the center of a conflict between benders and nonbenders...

Nothing is as they thought it was.

Features the entire cast from Avatar Crossroads, Shiro Yamazaki, Aimee Akira, Mika Akira, Josa Matsui, Aria Kuroda, Minami Kuroda, Tooru Morita, Dai Kimura, and Ryuu Yamazaki.

Mirage: Four Months after the crisis in Shaylim, the group finds their way to the Shen Jing desert, a desert that is currently at war with itself, between the Chun tribe, and the Outcast gang led by Ronin a merciless Warlord with a jaded past. Perplexed by the unusual visions that plague her dreams, Aimee will learn that the desert holds a deep dark secret... a mistake Avatar Aang made fifty-six years ago. The group will face their breaking point, wondering who their enemy is, Ronin? Or eachother...
In Pursuit of the group, Ryuu will forge an unusual alliance with a girl who lies at the heart of the conflict...

History will be Made.
Friendships will be Tested.
Everything will Change.
Beyond the Mirage lies Truth

Features the Introduction of Naava Chun, Javik Kato, and Kokoro Shiki.

NOTE: Heavy aspect of this story ignores canon from Korra season 3 as it was written before season 3, though it's set five years after season 1... it was actually written before during and after korra season 2, so naturally it has problems with that. Unfortunately a heavy part of the story requires that canon from season 3 is ignored, any errors will be explained inside the sequel, winter.

Winter: Forty-Seven years after Yakone, five years after Amon, Seven Months after Hideki and Three Months after Ronin, the group finds their way to the Northern Water Tribe. There, they will find themselves embroiled in a Conspiracy that has defined the world for decades that will threaten to change everything they(and the world) thought they knew about the Order of the White Lotus.
They will make new friends, and new enemies, including Abhik Nishi, Sonya Kalros, the White Lotus, and the Infamous Winter Phantom...

Bonds will be forged, Allegiances will be broken, Enemies will unite, and their greatest battle will begin.

Power changes everything.

Features the Introduction of Sonya Kalros, Connor Makoto, Silas Akiko and Kara. Also features returning characters.

Crucible: Set directly after Winter's conclusion, Crucible is the step towards a new direction of the Crossroads universe. Bringing together several of the characters from the past stories of Spirit, Mirage, and Winter. Follow Saren, a boy cursed by the Equalist Revolution and his friends Connor, Naava, Kokoro and several other new friends and allies as they try to end the Striker threat and their vicious new leader before it is too late.

The Storm Has Begun.

(Features the reintroduction of Saren Namakura, Naava Chun, Javik Kato, and several other crossroad and avatar characters alike from Korra book 1-4, Crossroads Spirit, Mirage, and Winter. Introduces Victoria Nase, Aiden Lavarr, and Lyra.
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SoulLostAtSea Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for the favourite! :) Thanks for super believing in Tad Cooper!
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Karlingvarsson Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2015
Thanks for the fav!
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ardnemla Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday!!!! I hope you had an excellent day!! I was waiting for the time zone change so I hope it is not that late.

I wish you the best!! I don't say this very often but thanks a lot for your friendship!!

I send you a big virtual hug and I hope all your birthday wishes come true!!
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Brittjuhh Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014
I just wanted to wish the most wonderful 365 new days. ^^)
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AgentQV Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Happy New Year to you too, Britt. :)
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Brittjuhh Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2015
Thank you! ^^)
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armageddonwc Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for adding Equality. Balance. Freedom. Unity. on your fav!
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AgentQV Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for making it! It's a really cool poster.
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armageddonwc Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for appreciating my work :) I hope I can make more soon :p
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FudgeNugget Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for the fave! Theres plenty more adoptables and such in my gallery ^^
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