“No one is quite sure what these statues mean or who they’re of.” The tour guide explained as they entered the crumbling temple.
“Is it safe to be in here?” a worried student asked, looking at the old walls and scaffolding holding up the roof.
“Yes, yes. I assure you it’s perfectly safe.” the guide said with a wave of her hand “Alright, well, go ahead and explore, we go back down the mountain in an hour.” she said, still smiling.
As the class split off a brunet with a bob soon dragged her friend off to see follow the path of the statues. The raven text with a pixie cut let out a soft groan, “Why can’t we just wait outside Lilly?” she asked, the statues were making her uncomfortable, like they where watching her.
“Come on Jade, this place is fascinating. It’s like in the stories we read about the benders.” Lilly said in excitement.
Jade sighed “Yeah, cause people hundreds of years ago made a shrine to a bunch of fictional characters.” she muttered, glancing back at the statues.
“They may have been real, remember last wee-” Lilly started, getting cut off by Jade.
“Sh! It was just a fluke, there was no actual way that you bended. Plus if you did you would have been taken away by now.” Jade said, adding slight humor towards the end of the comet.
Lilly rolled her eyes “Jaade, come on. That was definitely bending. But why are you so worried if it isn’t real?” she asked, a slight tone of playfulness in her voice.
Jade let out a huff “Because if it is there's about a nittany percent chance we will be taken away for questioning and probably testing.” she muttered.
Lilly paused “What’s this talk of ‘we’? I was the one who-- Jade, what are you talk- what happened?” she asked, stopping their walk and grabbing Jade by the wrist.
Jade tensed as she felt Lilly grab her. Lilly was her best friend, could she really trust her? Lilly was able to bend too, maybe. But Jade remembered how several months ago the Dai Li had taken a neighbor for questioning and how he hadn't been seen since. They didn't explain why, but Jade knew, she had seen him controlling fire with his hands, seeming to make it himself. Jade felt her heartbeat faster, the statues seeming to lean closer to her. Lilly’s grip seemed to tighten. Jade had to get out, her inner instincts had kicked in, she felt herself kick Lilly away from her. Several moments passed before Jade snapped back to reality. Looking down she saw Lilly on the ground, using her arms to hold up the upper half of her body. Lily looked to be in awe.
“Whoa, Jade th-that was. Wow, I didn’t know you could do that!” she explained, pushing herself back up.
“I- what? What happened? Are you okay? What did I do? Did I hurt you?” Jade asked, she always put on a tough facade, but seeing her only friend down like that worried her.
Lilly blinked, watching the concern grow on Jade’s face. “Whoa, hey calm down,” she gently put her hand on Jade’s shoulder, “It’s okay, I’m okay. I’ll explain as we walk alright?” Lilly explained.
Jade nodded “Alright,” she let out a sigh “Let’s go.” she nodded, taking Lilly’s hand as the began to walk again.
After a few moments of silence, Lilly began to explain. “So, here’s what happened, when I started to ask you about the bending thing, you froze. After I grabbed your wrist your eyes began to glow and so did all the statues eyes. It- It was really cool.” she chuckled a bit, “Just like the legend of the Avat-” she began, getting cut off again.
“Don’t mention it. I-if anyone finds out, we could get into a lot of trouble.” she started, looking over at Lilly, noticing her concern. “Okay, I owe an explanation now. Last month my neighbor got taken away by the Dai Li.” she said.
Lily shot a confused glance “Since when do you care about your neighbors? Are you feeling alright?” she asked.
Jade sighed again for what must’ve been the tenth time that day. “He was bending...fire. J-just producing it from his hands a-and controlling it.” she explained, “A-and I found out that I can bend the rocks…” she muttered.
Lily nodded, hiding the fear in her voice and face for her friend, moving her arm to go around Jade’s shoulder “It’s gonna be okay. I promise you and I will figure it out.” she said, giving her friend a gentle squeeze. Jade gave a quite nod and moved her arm to go around Lilli’s shoulder. The full walk around of the statues took around twenty minutes. The went up and back down the spiraling steps soon rejoining the class.
The tour guide glanced at the two girls, giving them a tight smile. “Alright, class you can go wait outside. Uh, you two stay behind” she said, looking at Lily and Jade their teacher looked at her.
“Is there a problem?” he asked, glaring at the guide, stepping next to the girls.
The guide looked over at him “Yes, these two have caused quite the disruption, I’ll need them to step aside and explain what happened.” she said.
The teacher glared once again, he hadn’t noticed any disruption minus the glowing eyes… unless that was what the guide was referring to. “Alright class,” he said with a sigh “Let's step out while we wait for Joo-Dee and the girls to finish.” he said.
The students seemed to want protest, but stayed silent. As the students filed out the a girl caught Jade’s eye. Her hair was tied into a neat bun and she seemed to be dressed for a business meeting, freckles standing out against her face. The girl passed the a worried but knowing glance before getting shoved out by the other students. Jade blinked and shook her head, gearing up at the tour guide.
“Why are you keeping us here? What did we do that caused a disruption?” Lily asked, the fierce protection clear in her voice.
“Come with me.” the guide said stiffly, seeming to smirk “If you don’t corporate we have ways.” she warned. Beginning to walk down the hall as she smirked.
“How?” Jade asked, folding her arms over her chest “We’re not going with you until you explain what's going on-” she was cut off by a hand muffling her voice, an arm wrapping around her. Lilly let out a muffled scream.
“Do you really want to disobey now?” the tour guide asked as the two Dai Li agents began to drag the girls off with her.
Jade and Lily knew better than to struggle against the Dai Li. They were taken down a long dark hall through the temple. Neither could see until the tour guide took out a flashlight and walked them down. As the walked she pulled out a phone, only dialing one number before holding it to her ear. H ow is she getting service?” Jade wondered, soon pushing the thought out of her mind and listening.
“Yes. I believe we have the one we were looking for.” the guide explained, “We have a friend of hers too.” there was a brief silence “The class group? Oh they’ll be taken care of. That boy’s sister was there though, we’ll send an agent after her too.” the woman explained, another bit of silence washed over them, “I understand completely.” she said before hanging up. Soon she turned around to the agents.
“You know the drill.” she simply stated. The two agents nodding, letting the girls go for a brief moment, soon hitting both in a series of pressure points, making them completely immobile. Jade and Lily were soon thrown into a cell deep into the mountain, getting cuffed and chained to the metal wall. Jade was furious, opening her mouth to speak out she was quickly gagged.
“I wouldn’t try that if I were you. But don’t worry, I know what you’re going to ask, they all ask the same question. You’ll find out soon.” the woman said, smirking.
“You two watch them, I need to take care of the girl. Their ride will be here soon.” she instructed. Both the men gave a silent nod as she turned to leave.
Lily watched them, pure hate in her eyes, and she didn’t hate many people. She soon shifted her gaze to look at her friend, wishing there was a way they could communicate.
Lilly noticed Jade twitch, “You ok?” she mouthed, Jade gave a nod. Both began to slowly regain the feeling in their bodies. Soon they began to quietly shift, both in a sitting position against the wall. What could they do?
They sat in silence, Lilly got and idea. She began to suck in a deep breath. Jade shot her a questioning look and watched. After Lilly sucked in her breath she let out a powerful gust of wind, pushing the two agents forward. The two stumbled, they both let out noises of surprise. Jade shot LIly another glance, as if to ask her what that was supposed to do. Lily shrugged, fear sinking into her face. The two agents began to climb back up to here feet.
“How much longer do we have to babysit?” the bearded one asked, glaring at the girls. The one with light stubble shrugged “Hopefully another fifteen minutes.” he grumbled. The first let out an annoyed snort.
Lily sunk back to lean against the wall. What now? She looked over at Jade again, her brows were furrowed and nostrils flared. Lily knew the look well, frustrated and thinking. Something snapped in Lily’s mind. “Can you please take the gag off my friend? She’s having a hard time breathing.” she explained, hoping Jade would play along.
The bearded one turned and glared at her “Can she breathe through her nose?” he asked skeptically, crouching down to their level, noticing that Jade was breathing shallowly, he raised an eyebrow and looked at Lily.
“Well she has a cold, so her nose is a bit stuffed. As well as terrible allergies. It’s so dusty down here it must be bothering her.” Lily lied, glancing at Jade noticing how she had changed her breathing.
The bearded one nodded and sighed “Tarrier, call Joo-Dee and tell her what we’re doing.” he said to the one with the stubble. “Yes sir.” he gave a nod and left the hall.
As the other agent left he began to unlock the barred cell door and step inside “If you two try anything we will have to chi block you again” he wanted. Kneeling to take the gag off Jade. After he did she sucked in a large breath of air, to add to the effect the coughed a bit as well.
“Thank you sir.” she fake rassped as he left. Soon sticking her tounge out at him when his back was turned. Lily smiled a bit at her friends childish jester, only imagining what she would do if Jade had her hands free. Well, now they could both speak, but how could they make a plan.
Before either could talk, the other agent returned along with another woman who resemble their tour guide. “Ah, you got here quickly Joo-Dee.” the bearded one answered. Both Jade and Lily shot one another a look, their “tour guide” had introduced herself as that too.
“Uh, excuse me. Wasn't that other lady Joo-Dee?” Jade asked, sitting up straight to glare at them. The woman looked taken a back, while the agents kept their faces stone cold.
“Why, don’t be so silly. I am Joo-Dee. Please relax.” she said, her voice was oddly soothing. “Gentlemen, please prepare our guests to depart. We have a long trip ahead of us.” she continued with a large smile plastered on her face.
The agents gave a nod, Terrier unlocking the door as the other entered the cell, both girls curled away from him. He soon knelt down and gave the same soft repeated jabs they had endured earlier, leaving them imobile. Afterwards he unlocked the shackles, catching them as the flopped forward. “Sho, grab one of ‘em for me would ya?” he asked.
The bearded one (Sho) sighed and nodded, stepping into the cell he picked up Lily as Terrier got Jade. The agents held Jade and Lily over their shoulders and stepped out of the cell. Joo-Dee gave a nod, smile still plastered on and began to walk away. The walked deeper into the tunnel, seeming to go down the mountain. It was a long, dark walk. The trek was agonizingly silent. After what seemed like hours but was probably only several minutes they got to the end of the tunnel, bits of light filtering through the cracks in the stone. Joo-Dee split off to pull a levar, as she did the mountain rumbled. Making Lily worry that it would crumble down on them. Instead to large slabs of stone parted, exposing them to blinding light and the faint sound of an engine. As their eye’s adjusted it was clear to them that a plane was waiting.
“Take them to the plane. Make sure they’re comfortable. We have a long flight ahead of us.” Joo-Dee instructed. Jade and Lily felt themselves moving forward as their eyes adjusted to the light, the sound of the engine getting closer.
“Where are you taking us?” Jade asked, the anger hiding the fear in her voice. She wasn’t expecting an answer, but when she got it she was shocked.
“You have been invited to go to Lake Laogai.” Joo-Dee explained.
Jade dad heard the name, when she was little her parents would scare her by saying that’s where she’d go if she missbehaved. As she got older rumors that enemies of the state where taken there. It couldn’t be real could it? And why take them all the way back to Ba Sing Se? Before she could ask any further questions she felt herself get blindfolded and dropped onto a hard metal surface, getting cuffed again. Jade was able to hear the same happening to Lily. Before she knew it, they had taken off.