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In The Dark There Is Light

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Korra waited impatiently at the guard station. She had never been a very patient person, even after mastering the art of meditation.Though, to be fair her meditation instructor could be quick to a short fuse as well. Tenzin liked to claim he was in balance, but Korra knew just how far to push for the Airbending Master to snap. Oftentimes with the most humorous show of display. Korra knew she could have the same short fuse, and she had wondered on more than one occasion if this was a trait Aang had passed down not only to the Avatar, but to his children as well.

Today was not one of those days when Korra pondered what traits might have been passed down. She had put this day off for a very long time. In her defense, the Avatar responsibilities towards healing the void between the human and spirit worlds had become increasingly difficult. This was just another excuse. A year ago, she had promised to help reform Kuvira. Actually, it was contingent upon her possible release that she work with the Avatar to achieve balance again. The former dictator would never be completely free, but a parolled life was better than being locked away in a wooden cage for the rest of her life.

Six months ago, Korra had sent word to Republic City that she was ready to begin counseling their most high profiled prisoner. She knew Kuvira was allowed visitors and correspondence, though limited, but Korra never heard from the woman herself. A week after her first message, she was sent word from the Warden that Kuvira was refusing visitors at the moment. The Avatar shrugged it off, hoping the decision was due on the part of self-reflection and acceptance. A few weeks later, when she requested again to see the prisoner and told the same, she was not so convinced. When the Chief of Police, Lin Beifong finally told her personally that Kuvira had refused any visitors since the day after her sentencing, Korra decided it was time to personally drop in.

Her presence was not warmly received. It seemed as though nearly every single prison guard had been personally affected by Kuvira’s actions as the Great Uniter. If not personally, than a family member or close friend, and every single one looked as though they held a grudge. Just the mere mention of Kuvira by name raised tension levels astronomically. Had she not been so worried, Korra would have commented on it. Instead, she stood with her arms crossed in uncomfortable silence while she waited impatiently for the guard to return.

Behind her, someone cleared their throat. Korra glanced over her shoulder, not really giving her full attention to the newcomer. The Warden was standing there, flanked by two of his officers. The Warden stood resolute, but his officers betrayed themselves as they moved from foot to foot just ever so slightly. Apparently, metal bending was a requirement for working this unit. Nerves of steel were not.

“I’m grateful for the backup and all, but I’m just here to talk to Kuvira. I don’t plan on fighting anybody.” Korra told them as she turned to face the group.

“I’m afraid you are wasting your time, Avatar Korra. Prisoner 2889 refuses all visitors. I thought you would have come to this conclusion when your other requests were rejected.” The Warden was a short, stocky man with dark hair and grey eyes. Korra didn’t know if he was a Bender or just employed them, but his maintenance of the prison facility had always been top notch. In fact, Chief Beifong had been known to give the man what would, for her anyways, pass as a compliment.

“Yeah, well it’s not a request this time. I’m seeing Kuvira whether she likes it or not.” Korra found her tone already on the offensive. Not that she was actually annoyed by the Warden or his officers. The root of her annoyance was Kuvira herself, but unfortunately the woman in question was not present. These poor fools would be the beneficiaries of her poor composure.

“Avatar Korra, as much as I find prisoner rights and their advocates annoying, Prisoner 2889 does have the right to refuse visitors. We cannot compel a visit.” The Warden responded evenly. Korra was more certain than ever he was not a fan of Kuvira’s.

She took a step closer, perhaps more menacingly than she meant when the officers shifted as if ready for a strike. “Look here, Warden. I was given permission to work with Kuvira while she is being held prisoner.”

The Warden stood his ground, “Perhaps you should re-examine what the term prisoner means, Avatar Korra. Prisoner 2889 would not be in our most secure maximum facility had her atrocities not been severe. If she does not wish to have visitors, who am I to encourage her any privileges?”

Korra felt her fists ball. All at once she could feel the elements surrounding her. The air they were breathing, the earth below her feet, the heat of the room, and the water flowing in and out of the pipes in the building. Her heightened sense only signified she was angry, and the Avatar State usually followed her anger.

“Perhaps I should remind you that every prisoner has the capacity for reformation, Warden.” Korra was gritting her teeth now.

“And you should remember the barbarism Prisoner 2889 inflicted on the Earth Kingdom, and even yourself, Avatar Korra.” The corners of his mouth twitched upwards as if he were going to smile, but then remained stoic. Those words were all it took for Korra to lose what was left of her composure.

“Maybe I should remind you what it is the Avatar is capable of you jack--”

Another throat clearing interrupted what was certain to be a stunning back and forth of elementary name calling. Both Korra and the Warden turned to see Chief Lin Beifong standing in the hallway in full uniform, her arms crossed over her chest and one eyebrow raised questioningly at the pair.

“Are you two about done?” She barked at them, narrowing her eyes as if daring them to respond with something other than the word ‘Yes’.

“Chief, what can I do for you?” The Warden turned his attention fully to Chief Beifong while his officers still eyed Korra nervously.

“I’m here to speak with Kuvira.” Lin glanced to Korra before looking back to the Warden.

The man cleared his throat again, but this time much gentler and with a smile, “I do apologize, Chief, but as I was just explaining to Avatar Korra, Prisoner 2889 is refusing visitors at this point in time.”

He was about to go on, but Lin held up a hand to silence him. She took a few steps forward, closing the gap between herself and the others occupying the hallway.

“Which is her personal right. However, my visit is for police business, and as we both know a prisoner cannot refuse a request for questioning.” She didn’t break eye contact with the Warden, staring him down in the intimidating fashion that was definitely a Beifong inheritance. When the Warden opened his mouth for a rebuttal, Lin leaned ever so slightly forward and the Warden instantly turned, barking orders to his officers. When the hallway was clear, Lin leaned towards Korra, “Of course, prisoners also have the right to remain silent, so there is a very good chance she won’t speak.”

Korra looked puzzled, “Then why on earth are you going to question her?”

“I’m not.” Lin turned and began walking towards the interrogation room. Korra stood for a moment, trying to piece together the information just handed to her. When it finally clicked in her brain, she jogged after the police Chief.

After what seemed like hours, the metal wall of the interrogation room slid open. Five guards stood around a figure shackled to a platinum rod resting on her shoulders. Her arms were spread to either end of the rod. Her wrists were shackled tightly to each end in order to negate proper bending technique. The sound of platinum chains against the stone floor could be heard with each shuffling step Kuvira took.

When the two guards in the very front stepped to either side, Korra gasped. The sight was awful. She wasn’t quite sure what she was expecting, but it certainly was not the broken shell of a human being barely standing before her.

“Prisoner 2889, sit!” One of the guards ordered, pulling the chair out a respectable distance. Kuvira shuffled forward and sat down rather stiffly. Korra and Lin watched as one guard unlocked her wrists, one by one, and transferred them into the platinum cuffs on the table. The others stood at the ready to intervene should the former Great Uniter try anything funny. Kuvira didn’t though. Her arms hung limply as each one was moved. Once the new cuffs were in place with her hands securely tied to the platinum table, and the guards had filed out of the room, the young woman leaned back in the chair. A small wheezing escaped her lips that did not go unnoticed. Neither did the multiple bruises in a variation of colors and swelling.

“So,” Kuvira rasped, her head hanging low as she stared at her feet, “You found a loophole for visitors.”