One: The Queen of Repressed Emotions
On one hand, Korra was glad the boys, Naga, and Pabu were safe.
On the other hand, she was surrounded by Equalists and partially wished she hadn't sent her back-up away.
But all she had to do was distract the Equalists long enough for Mako and Bolin to get away. Easy enough.
She knocked the masked fighters down with a swift earthbending kick, and she earthbended again to propel herself over them. She ran, reminding herself over and over that she just needed to distract, not try to take these guys down herself. She screamed when she suddenly felt the electricity shooting through her. One of the fighters caught up with her and hit her with some kind of electric stick. She stumbled forward towards the street right as two masked Equalists on motorcycles rode around the corner in hopes of cutting her off, but a third person on a motorcycle appeared opposite of them.
The third person brought their bike to a stop and got off. From the sheaths on their back, they pulled out a pair of dao blades. Korra then remembered the Equalist chi blockers she was running from. She saw the person with the swords run towards the Equalists on the motorcycles. They jumped just as the motorcycles came closer, and when they came down, they used their swords to slash the tires. The Equalists went flying forward, and the person sheathed their swords, using their fists to knock out the two Equalists. The person ran to Korra, taking their swords out again. She could see they were wearing a mask, but it was too dark to see much else, especially since the person was wearing all black.
"Need some help?" So the stranger was a female.
Korra kept her eyes on the Equalists coming closer. "I guess you could say that. You any good with those swords?"
"I just took down two motorcycles, didn't I? Heads up!"
Korra saw something like a glowing disc flying towards her, but the masked woman moved with the speed and agility of an airbender and knocked the object away with her blades. As she fought and used her blades, Korra was suddenly reminded of Lord Zuko. When she was younger, he had attempted to teach her swordsmanship, but she had no interest. Still, she loved watching when he and Sokka would spar with their blades. The masked woman was tall and lean, and while she moved like an airbender, she fought like a firebender. Her sword fighting skills were much like Lord Zuko's but with a touch of waterbender fluidity. When she held her ground, she was solid like an earthbender.
Who the shit is this woman? Korra asked herself as she dodged a chi blocker's fists. She moves like various benders and swordfights with Lord Zuko's style? If she did get training in other bending arts, how and when did she learn airbending styles?
In a matter of minutes, Korra and the masked woman took down the Equalists. The woman sheathed her blades and grabbed Korra's arm, pulling her to the motorcycle. "More will be coming," she said. "Let's go."
Korra decided to chance it with this masked woman, and she hopped on the back of the bike. The woman took off. Korra held tight to the woman's black, hooded jacket, and she briefly turned her head to see if they were being followed.
"Two of them coming up behind us," she yelled over the wind.
"I know," the woman yelled back.
She pressed a button, smoke coming out the back of the motorcycle. Korra saw the two Equalists still pursuing them, so she attempted to earthbend the street to knock them down. Unfortunately, she wasn't used to riding on a motorcycle and nearly lost her balance when she let go of the woman.
"Hang on!" the woman yelled. "I'll take care of them!"
She began to slow down. "What are you doing?" Korra demanded. "They'll catch us for sure!"
"Just trust me!"
The two Equalists were on either side of them now, but the woman slammed on the brake, Korra holding her even tighter before she flew off. The woman pressed a button on her handlebar, and two black cables shot out. Korra watched as the cables flew threw the air and hit the Equalists, both glowing when they were electrocuted.
The woman rode past them as their motorcycles crashed, and Korra let out a sigh of relief. Her ears perked when she heard more engines, and four more Equalists rode out from an alley. Korra wanted to help, but even loosening her grip on the woman made her feel like she'd fall. Fortunately, the woman didn't need any help. Her motorcycle was enough to keep the Equalists back. Plus, this woman was obviously a better rider than the Equalists.
Korra held tight when she saw them turn down a narrow alley. Her jaw dropped when she saw them riding quite fast towards a wooden ramp. She shut her eyes and held even tighter, and she felt them go airborne. She also felt her stomach rise to her throat.
This is how I'm gonna die. I can see the headlines now: Dumbass Avatar Trusts Some Random Stranger Who Kills Them Both on a Motorcycle.
But Korra didn't die. When she felt them land, she opened her eyes to see them back on one of the main streets. They made it! They were in one piece! She heard more motorcycle engines, and she turned to see more Equalists riding towards them.
"Fucking shit! These assholes don't give up!" Korra said.
She swore the woman chuckled before she said, "Yeah, they're a tenacious bunch."
Korra tensed when she thought of something. "You're not one of them, are you?"
The woman laughed. "Do you have your bending?"
"Did I chi block you?"
"Did I just take out a bunch of these guys and about to take out more?"
She laughed again. "Question answered."
The Equalists behind them were coming closer, and instead of using any weapons on her bike, the woman used her expert riding skills. She made sharp turns, cutting it close with a few buildings. The Equalists couldn't keep up, and they crashed. Korra turned to see the smoke and fire from the crashed bikes. Honestly, she didn't feel too bad for the riders, just the people who owned the building they crashed into.
"I think we're clear," Korra said.
"Good. Anywhere you want me to drop you off at?"
"Can you drop me at the docks?"
As Korra's adrenaline wore down, the pain from the electrocution hit her. She shut her eyes in hopes of easing her throbbing headache, but the burning numbness going down her back was another distraction. She opened her eyes when the motorcycle came to a stop. Korra saw they were at the docks, Air Temple Island visible in the distance, and she got off the bike.
"Thanks," Korra said. She looked down and nervously rubbed the back of her neck. "I mean it. Those Equalists would've got the best of me if you didn't show up."
"Anytime," the woman said. "You should know that I saw your friends, fire ferret, and polar bear dog get away safely when I came to help you."
Korra felt her tension lesson, no longer worried if the boys, Naga, and Pabu got away safely. "Thanks."
The woman nodded. "You're welcome. Just know that I'll be around next time you need me."
Korra could see that the mask consisted of large goggles with opaque lenses connected to a black plastic shield over her nose, mouth, and chin. There were breathing holes, but the only exposed parts of the woman were her hands. She had long fingers and pale skin. Of course, most were pale compared to Korra's own brown skin, but this woman was even paler than most. She was wearing black armor over her black jacket. It looked plastic, but Korra was sure it was harder material. From the looks of it, the armor would make it hard for her to be chi blocked. Her pants were also black and form fitting, and her outfit was completed with a pair of black boots with gold-colored straps, the gold the only other color she wore. Something about this woman, especially the way she fought, brought the word "elegant" to mind. Elegant and tough.
"Who are you?" Korra asked.
Even though her mouth was blocked, Korra couldn't help but think the woman was smiling. "Just know that I'm a friend."
"Well, is there some way I can call on you or something?"
"Don't worry, Avatar Korra. I'll know when you'll need me next, and I'll be there to help."
With that, she started the engine, and Korra watched her ride off. It wouldn't be the last time she saw the masked woman, and a small part of her couldn't wait for the next time they crossed paths.
Korra couldn't sleep. Maybe it was because Naga was sleeping outside, thus the sound of her snores couldn't lull Korra to sleep. Perhaps it was the wind coming in the window. No. It was because her mind was racing as she thought about the Equalists she fought and that Amon guy. She sat up when she noticed a shadow passing by the door. Suddenly, an Equalist chi blocker broke through her window, followed by two more. Korra jumped off the bed, firebending at them. They dodged her attacks as she continued to kick and punch fire at them. Two were actively fighting her, distracting her so the third could chi block her on the back. The chi blocker kicked her to her knees as she yelped in pain, and she looked up to see Amon walking towards her.
Her heart raced as his hand began reaching out for her. "After I take your bending away, you will be nothing."
Korra could hear her heart pounding in her ears, but suddenly, Amon let out a scream as two dao blades stabbed through his chest from his back. Korra used that opportunity to take down the chi blockers as best she could. She managed to knock them out just as she saw Amon's body slide off the masked woman's swords.
"I told you I'd know when you'd need me next," the woman said, "and that I'd be there to help."
She sheathed her swords and just as she moved to take off her mask, Korra's eyes shot open. She gasped as she sat up, startling Naga from her sleep. Korra shook her head at her. "It's okay, girl. I was just dreaming."
Korra swung her legs around so she was sitting on the edge of the bed. She leaned forward, arms on her thighs, and she tried getting her heart rate to slow as she took deep, calming breaths. The dream started replaying in her mind.
It could have been a nightmare. Amon would have taken my bending if not for her. Who is she? Why is she helping me?
Korra got up and stood at the window so the night air could cool her down. She could see the dazzling skyline in the distance, a sight she had come to love. Somewhere in the city, just across the bay, was her masked savior. A week ago, Korra would have hated the thought of someone else coming to her rescue like that, but she had to admit that because of the fear Amon struck in her and the power of the chi blockers, she was happy she had a savior, someone watching out for her and helping her in a fight. The dream would have rattled her more if the masked woman hadn't taken out Amon.
She laughed to herself. Saving me, even in my dreams. Well, lady, if it means I keep my bending, then please keep saving me.
Korra didn't mind dressing up. In fact, she loved her blue Water Tribe dress. She even loved having Pema brush her hair and make it presentable for a gala. It was the gala she hated. She hated that it was in her "honor" even more. To make things all the more irritating, Mako and Bolin were there with some other girl. The girl-- Asami-- was pleasant enough, but Korra still couldn't bring herself to open up to this girl. Yet, there was something familiar about her.
After speaking to the press (and announcing she'd join Tarrlok's stupid task force), Korra found the nearest door that went out to a balcony. The night air was cool and refreshing, and she looked down at the street where Satomobiles zipped around each other and the occasional motorcycle went by. It made her think of the masked woman. Who was she? How did she learn airbender moves and Lord Zuko's sword fighting style? Why was she helping? How did she know Korra needed help? A part of her almost wanted to walk out and find danger just so she'd meet this masked woman again. Yeah, that would be stupid, but she was sure that together they could beat whoever attacked them.
Korra heard the click of heels on the stone tile behind her, followed by, "Is it all right if I joined you?"
Korra's chest tightened. She was here! Or the voice sounded like the masked woman's, anyway. It was a little higher than hers, but the voice sounded enough like her. Korra smiled and turned, expecting to see the masked woman standing there, but instead she saw Miss Priss Elegance Sato. She didn't hide her disappointment before she turned away.
"What? Yeah. Sure."
She could smell the makeup and perfume before Asami joined her at the balustrade. As much as she wanted to hate it, she didn't. "You were brave standing up to those reporters," Asami said. "I couldn't have done that."
"Hm," Korra grunted in response.
She hoped Asami would take the hint that she didn't want her there, but clearly she didn't. "I'm really excited about sponsoring your team. The Fire Ferrets have been my favorite team since they started. You're an excellent addition."
Korra kept her eyes on the street below as she grunted another response.
"Hasook was good, but he couldn't make the water dance like you can. You're amazing out there and a thrill to watch."
"Hm." Please just leave. You're trying way too hard, and you're really irritating me.
She could hear Asami's bracelets clink together as she reached up to move her hair behind her ear. "I'll be putting together some ideas for new uniform designs. I'd absolutely love your input, if there's anything you do or don't want."
Korra kept her eyes down as she shrugged. "Whatever. Just no lace."
She was startled a bit when Asami laughed. "I'll keep that in mind." She paused for a moment before she said, "Hey, I was wondering if you'd--"
"Asami," Korra cut her off, "do you think that maybe you could shut up for even a moment?"
Korra instantly regretted snapping at her when she heard Asami let out a small sigh. "Oh-- oh, yeah, sure. I'll-- I'll just-- I'll go back inside."
She heard Asami's heels on the stone tile, and she felt the guilt bubbling. Yeah, the girl was irritating, but she was just being nice. "Wait." Korra turned to see Asami looking back at her. "Don't leave. I'm-- I'm being an ass. I'm sorry. I-- I guess I'm kind of used to the quiet and having my way."
Her stomach fluttered when Asami smiled. As much as she didn't want to, Korra couldn't help but notice the way the moonlight hit her pale skin as she walked back to the balustrade. Ugh, nice and beautiful. Can this girl get any more irritating and annoying?
"Oh, a spoiled only child who lived in isolation, I take it?" Before Korra could snap at her, she said, "I can relate. I grew up as a spoiled only child who lived in isolation."
Korra was surprised by that. "What? Really?"
Asami nodded. "But I didn't have a polar bear dog to keep me company. I only had toy building sets and old engines."
"Huh." Korra shrugged, not feeling too bad for her, considering where she was now. "But you have friends and all that now. You probably go to parties like this all the time."
Asami shook her head. "No, not really. I've never really had any actual 'friends,' aside from the occasional date, and I'm not a fan of large gatherings, especially galas like this where the person being honored clearly doesn't want to be there either."
Korra felt her face warm. "Am I that obvious?"
Asami grinned. "Just as obvious as your jealousy when you saw Mako and me walk up to you."
Korra looked at her with wide eyes. "What? No! No, it's-- I'm not--"
"It's okay, Korra. I like him, but if there's something going on between you two, I'll back off."
Korra shook her head. "There's-- there's nothing between us. Just teammates. He's all yours."
Asami's grin widened. "Really? I'm fairly good at reading people, and you're really bad at lying."
Korra couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm am. I really am. Must be an Avatar thing. We're too good to be good at lying."
Asami winked at her. "I'm pretty good at it. I've sat in on my dad's business meetings from time to time since I was a kid, so I know a thing or two about bullshitting someone."
Korra cocked an eyebrow. "Are you bullshitting me right now?"
Korra nodded. "Okay. I want to see just how good you are. Give me two truths and a lie."
Asami tapped her finger to her chin as she thought for a moment. "Okay. One: I'm right-handed. Two: I've never been to the Northern Water Tribe. Three: I've had sex with another woman."
Korra was taken aback with that last one. She had to take a moment to gather her thoughts and not be affected by that last thing Asami said. Then again, it was such a private thing to admit. "Three. That's the lie."
Asami grinned and shook her head. She leaned close and whispered in Korra's ear, "It was one. I'm ambidextrous."
With that, Asami walked back inside, leaving a shocked Avatar. Korra scratched her head and thought out loud, "Was she flirting with me?"
Needless to say, the night did not go where she had expected. She hadn't planned on joining Tarrlok's task force, nor did she expect to meet some prissy, beautiful, elegant, rich girl that Mako would be escorting who Korra now had conflicted feelings about.
A strange couple of days indeed.
Korra would only admit it to herself, but challenging Amon was a mistake. She had been sitting under Aang's statue for hours now, and he never showed up. She decided to give up. She stood up and headed back to her boat, but she was suddenly yanked by the ankle inside the building under the statue.
No, no, no! Shit! Shit!
She found herself suddenly surrounded by Equalists, and she didn't hesitate to firebend at them. Unfortunately, they must have expected that because her hands were suddenly bound to her sides, and she felt the impact on her back as she was chi blocked. She was ready to pass out as two Equalists forced her up to sit on her knees.
"I received your invitation, young Avatar."
Sweat rolled down her forehead as she looked up at Amon. Don't show your fear. Holy shit, do not show your fear. It was difficult not to show she was scared shitless, especially when Amon reached out. However, his hand never reached her forehead. Korra heard a body drop and the sounds of a struggle, and Amon frantically looked around to see who was assaulting his people. Korra could see her outline, and she knew who it was right away. She watched the masked woman fight through each Equalist, each one unsuccessful in trying to chi block her.
Amon looked around frantically when more bodies dropped. "What--"
He stopped when he was kicked in the chest. He was kicked again, this time in the throat, which sent him down to the ground. Two Equalists who were left standing didn't hesitate to grab him and help him escape from their attacker. Korra felt the masked woman untie her before lifting her up bridal style.
"Are you okay?" the masked woman asked.
Korra looked up to see her masked heroine as she carried her back outside. "Good."
She tried hard not to tremble, but she couldn't help it. She also didn't want to sob, but she did. "Would he have taken my bending?"
"Not this time, no. You would be made a martyr if he had. The Equalists can't have that."
Tears rolled down Korra's cheeks. "Shit. I probably look so damn weak."
"Don't say that." Her tone was firm and somehow comforting. "You're the strongest person anyone could ever know. We all get scared, and it's perfectly fine to cry. Let out those emotions. Bottling it all in can only do more harm than good."
Korra couldn't help but grin. "Speaking from experience?"
"Yes." The masked woman's tone was serious, but then it turned jovial. "I'm the queen of repressed emotions."
They came to where Korra's boat was docked, and the masked woman set her down. Korra didn't hesitate to pull her in a tight hug. "Thank you. Thank you so fucking much."
The masked woman returned the hold, and they held one another for a moment before the woman held Korra out at arm's length. "I told you I'd be there to help when you need me, and I mean it. I will always be there to help you."
Korra looked hard at the mask. "Who are you?"
"Like I said, a friend." She squeezed Korra's arms before letting go. "You should go back to Air Temple Island now. Tenzin's waiting for you."
Korra nodded and backed away towards the boat. "Right. Yeah. Again, thank you."
The woman nodded and watched as Korra waterbended the boat back to Air Temple Island.
Naga watched as Korra paced around her room. "I just can't figure out who she is," Korra said. "Maybe-- maybe you could figure it out for me?" Naga cocked her head. "No, that'd be weird, wouldn't it?" Korra groaned and threw her arms up. "I just want to know who she is, y'know?"
Korra sighed and went to the open window. Republic City was shining bright against the night sky. As she stared across the bay, thoughts of the masked woman ran through her mind. She sounded young, so she couldn't be much older than Korra, if she was at all. She was also quite tall and strong. Maybe not quite as strong as Korra, but she had no problem carrying her or fighting off multiple Equalists. She was also a non-bender. While it was difficult to tell for sure because of the armor, Korra was sure the woman wasn't as muscular as she herself was.
Telling by her hands, she was also most definitely not Water Tribe. So that ruled out anyone in the city who was Water Tribe. Her fighting style was hard to pinpoint. From what Korra could see, she fought like a firebender but made hard hits like an earthbender, and her feet moved like an airbender's while her body was fluid like a waterbender's. Whoever this woman was, she clearly had studied the fighting styles of all four elements, and she must have learned how to fight with a sword from Lord Zuko or someone he had taught. But how did she study airbending, though? Maybe she'd ask Tenzin if he had trained any non-benders recently.
Korra moved away from the window and got ready for bed. Once her pajamas were on and teeth were brushed, she turned off her lamp and got in bed. So many thoughts raced through her mind as she drifted off before she started dreaming. Amon came at her again, ready to place his thumb on her forehead, but he was easily beaten down by the masked woman. She was saving Korra in her dreams again. Korra didn't mind that. But then the mask faded from the woman's face, and Korra saw a pair of green eyes. Suddenly, she was in the Pro-bending Arena, facing another team with Mako and Bolin, both teams in nothing but swimwear. Korra's eyes opened, and she sat up.
She shook her head and rubbed her temples. "I really need to stop eating multiple fruit pies before bed."