"Miss Sato? The Avatar's emissary has arrived."
"Send them up."
Asami leaned back in her expensive leather chair. She tried to keep her face impassive, tried not to grip the armrests of her chair too hard. It wasn't a good look for a businesswoman to look nervous and especially not for this kind of business.
Asami felt the need to get out of her chair and away from her desk and just look out the window for a moment to calm herself. She didn't because, well, it wouldn't work. Her office in the Future Industries HQ commanded a marvelous view of Republic City, which was why Asami never, ever looked out.
It was all her father's fault. Him and his Equalists. He'd honestly thought their advanced technology would give them a decisive edge against the Avatar and her army of fanatics. As though the Fire Nation's advanced technology had meant anything to the last Avatar. And as a result of the Equalist's hubris, parts of Republic City were still in ruins.
There was a knock at the door to Asami's office. Without bothering to wait for permission to enter, a woman strode. She was somewhat older than Asami, with a proud, military bearing, that were very much at odds with the plain black briefcase she carried. She had sharp features and even sharper eyebrows. Her hard eyes looked at Asami as though she was measuring her up and had already decided she didn't.
She was dressed in the blue uniform of the Avatar's Guard. Around her neck was the blue collar of the Avatar's Harem.
"Miss Sato," the woman greeted her with the bare minimum of politeness. "My name is Kuvira. I have been sent by my Mistress to judge your worthiness for Her harem."
"My worthiness?" said Asami. "I thought..."
"You thought my Mistress would accept anyone into Her harem?" said Kuvira. "You were mistaken. Past Avatars may have been so lacking in standards, but my Mistress is better than that."
Asami fell silent for a moment. This Kuvira was so... rigid. So proud. She was a slave of the Avatar, but she looked at her as though she was beneath her.
Kuvira... Kuvira... She'd heard that name before. Where had...?
Oh, yes. One of the Avatar's commanders during the recent... conflict. One of her most devoted, too, and the Avatar's forces were pretty devoted to begin with. Asami couldn't help but wonder what the Avatar had done to inspire such loyalty.
"Well, I'm sure Korra will find me worthy," Asami said.
Much to Asami's secret delight, Kuvira flinched visibly at the casual mention of the Avatar's name. Her hard expression seemed to ice over.
"We shall see," Kuvira said flatly. "A lot of people think first of the prestige of being one of the Avatar's slaves. They are wrong. There is only service. Service to someone greater than yourself. The Avatar's slaves are objects. Instruments to work the Avatar's will. Nothing more."
"Is that how you see yourself?" Asami asked quietly. "An object?"
"Yes," Kuvira said. "I was nothing. The Avatar took me and gave me a place at Her feet and a purpose in Her world. I exist only for Her."
Asami noticed the mad gleam in Kuvira's eyes. She really believed this. Every word of it. She'd wondered if, maybe, Kuvira was just being difficult to scare Asami off. A life in the Avatar's Harem wasn't for everyone, after all, and there were certain... romantics... who thought belonging to the Avatar was somehow glamorous. But no. Kuvira really was this much of a fanatic.
Asami got out of her chair and walked over to the windows. The remnants of Republic City stretched out before her. The abandoned buildings, the crumbling ruins, the torn-up streets. Oh, it was going to be rebuilt. Life went on, after all. The homes and the shops and the roads were going to come back. And Future Industries was poised to make a killing on it. Her father's company was going to rake in the profits rebuilding what it had destroyed. What made the whole thing worse, was that it was now her company.
"See this?" Asami said, taking in the devastation with a small wave of her hand.
Kuvira came to stand next to her. "The city?"
"The ruins," Asami said. "My father did that."
"Amon did that," said Kuvira. "The Avatar did that."
"With weapons my father made and supplied," said Asami. "Well, not to the Avatar, but you know what I mean. Because he believed in something so hard it twisted him up inside and destroyed everything."
"You do not bear your father's guilt," said Kuvira. Her voice was still hard, but just a hint of gentleness had crept in. Asami got the distinct impression the woman was trying to comfort her.
"This is not about guilt," said Asami.
"If you say so," said Kuvira. "In any event, if you become the Avatar's property, Future Industries will fall to Her as well. I assure you, my Mistress will use your company for the good of all. Including Republic City."
"I know," said Asami. "That's part of the reason I... well, you know."
"Of course, you could also just sign over Future Industries to the Avatar," said Kuvira. "It is not required for you to become a slave."
"No, that won't work," said Asami. "I have to be her slave."
Kuvira glanced at her. "Such conviction," she said. It was hard to tell if she was being sarcastic or sincere.
"You know, before you came here, I was really nervous about the whole thing," said Asami. "But the more you talk, the more certain I keep getting. I belong with the Avatar."
"There are other ways to serve the world," Kuvira said. "Many of which don't involve slavery. You could take up charity or join the police, for example."
"No," said Asami.
"Your family name is Sato?" said Kuvira.
"That's right," said Asami.
"You will lose it. You will be just Asami. A slave's loyalties cannot be divided. You will belong to the Avatar alone. All of your remaining family ties will be severed. Of course," Kuvira added wryly, "for some that's not so great a sacrifice."
"Don't make light of what happened with my family," Asami said.
"Was that what I was doing?" said Kuvira.
"Well, what else could you have meant?" said Asami.
"What else indeed," Kuvira scoffed. "But, to continue. You seem reasonably fit already, but the Avatar will see you get fitter still. You will fight for Her on whatever battlefield She chooses."
"That doesn't worry me," said Asami.
"And She will use your body to satisfy Herself," Kuvira said.
Asami swallowed hard and felt a tingle start between her legs. She'd known about that part, of course. Everybody did. She'd fantasized about it as well. Frequently. But to hear it said so plainly was... well, it had an impact.
"I will serve," she said.
"Of course, with your skills it's most likely the Avatar will have you keeping the books," Kuvira said. "It's not unlikely that you'll keep running Future Industries the way you do now. Except that all your profits will go into the Avatar's coffers and you won't see a single cent."
"That's fine with me," said Asami. "Any more questions?"
Kuvira put her briefcase on Asami's desk and snapped open the clasps. She took out a single sheet of paper a handed it to Asami.
"Sign," she said.
Asami turned the sheet over. There was nothing on the back. She was used to corporate contracts full of legal terms covering every single little eventuality. This was just one line and an empty place for the signature.
I hereby offer myself wholly to the Avatar, to serve Them in whatever way They see fit, until the day of my death.
Asami put her pen to the paper, and hesitated. She looked up at Kuvira's blank expression.
"Do I sign 'Asami Sato' or just 'Asami'?" she asked.
"At the moment, you are still Asami Sato," Kuvira replied.
Asami signed and breathed out. Done. She belonged to the Avatar. Her body, her life, everything she was and ever might be, was Korra's.
It should have been a momentous occasion, but she felt... light. As if she'd struggled out of darkness and into the place she was supposed to.
Asami looked up at Kuvira. "What?"
"You are the Avatar's possession," said Kuvira. "You own nothing. That includes those clothes. Take them off."
"You're going to take me to the Avatar's Palace, right?" said Asami.
"Of course," said Kuvira. "You must be presented to our Mistress and properly integrated into Her harem."
"So you want me to walk out this building and then travel all the way to the Avatar's Palace stark naked?"
"What I want doesn't matter," said Kuvira. "What matters is that you are not allowed to wear anything not given to you by the Avatar."
"Do you have any idea how many people are in this building?" said Asami. "Do you really want them all to get a good, long look at me before the Avatar does?"
Kuvira closed her eyes and smiled. "I see. I understand. Well, not to worry. There's only the two of us here. I'll just tear up the contract and no-one'll be the wiser. And you will get to keep your clothes on."
"Don't you dare touch that paper," Asami snapped.
Asami glared at Kuvira. It would've been better if Kuvira was smirking or had a mocking look in her eyes or anything. Instead, she just stood there, waiting. Watching what she would do. This was still a test. And she might still fail.
Staring Kuvira defiantly in the eyes, Asami started undressing. She didn't look down at her own clothes even once as she stripped naked. It was a bit tricky, finding all the buttons, but she was determined not to break eye contact. She'd signed the paper. She was Avatar Korra's slave. And she wasn't about to let Kuvira think for one single second that she hadn't meant it.
Unfortunately, her shoes were a problem. They weren't the kind she could just kick off. She must've looked a fool, lifting one leg and fiddling awkwardly with one hand, swaying back and forth as she fought for balance and eye contact. To Kuvira's credit, she didn't smile once at what must have been an absurd display.
Eventually, the shoes came off. As did everything else. Asami stood up straight. A naked body that was completely in Avatar Korra's possession.
Kuvira nodded and reached into her briefcase.
"You can wear this."
Kuvira's hand came out holding a simple strip of blue leather. The collar of the Avatar's Harem. Asami reached for it without thinking. Her signature on the paper? Well, that was just a legal technicality. Her nakedness? Well, maybe she was just feeling naughty. But that blue collar? That was real. That made her truly the Avatar's in the eyes of everyone. Including her own.
Asami's grasping fingers came to a stop just above Kuvira's offering hand. She looked up at the woman with a question in her eyes.
"Take it," Kuvira said kindly. "Unless you want me to put it on."
Asami grabbed the collar and put around her neck. It was just a strip of leather that happened to be blue, and yet... feeling it around her neck. It was perfect. It was divine.
She was the Avatar's.
Asami felt Kuvira lift her chin. Then, with a gentleness Asami would not have guessed possible in a woman like her, Kuvira kissed her. A brief, light little touch of the lips. A second or two, no more. And yet, in that moment, Asami knew that as the Avatar's possessions they now shared a bond. A new and unfamiliar bond, one she didn't know what to make of yet. But a bond, all the same.
"Welcome," Kuvira whispered.
Asami nodded. She didn't really have any words right now. None that could express her feelings.
"Come," Kuvira said, her voice becoming hard again.
Kuvira turned and marched out. Without looking back even once, Asami followed her out of Miss Sato's office and into her new life.