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“Contrary to historical texts, non-benders were born into the Air Nation.”

 

Asami looks up from her blueprints at Pema. The older woman is nursing Rohan and staring out across the ocean. The radio croons from the corner, Love Amongst the Dragons is being broadcast live from the Grand Theatre. Asami was invited, she's declined. Too many well-to-do young men trying to attach her to their arm for status. She's tired of it. Pema now has her full attention.

 

“Once they were old enough to fend for themselves they were politely asked to leave their temple of origin. That or dedicate their lives to serving the monks and nuns. Cooking, cleaning, tending to the crops, all the labour that was beneath the more spiritual benders. It was a life of sworn celibacy. The first Air Acolytes.”

 

Asami feels bile rise in her throat. She puts a hand over her mouth.

 

“My great-grandmother was born in The Western Air Temple. She left when she was sixteen. Married well enough. It wasn't uncommon for her to run into fellow Air Nation defectors. She married a man from the Fire Nation. They were lucky during the eradication that her status was never questioned.”

 

The baby gurgles. He's had his fill of milk. Pema stands and adjusts her robe. Rohan rests his cheek against her collarbone.

 

“They would rather lie to the world for centuries, than admit we existed. Don’t forget that, Asami.”

 

Pema hands Asami a red and white pamphlet. Her heart sinks and her eyes widen. She feels fear and revulsion. The colours are reversed by the symbol is the same. Red paper with a white circle, black text. 

 

“They may love us, and they may be sympathetic, but they will never understand what it’s like.”

 

Blue electricity. Sharp metal piercing the hull of her mech, tearing it apart like paper. Asami wets her too-dry lips.

 

“My father tried to kill me for loving benders.”

 

“That’s not the Equalist Movement I follow. Those monsters tried to mutilate my children. This is just a political party. An Equal Rights movement. Not everyone is the same, but we should be treated that way.”

 

Asami lets out a shaky breath and runs a hand over her face. Pema presses a kiss to the side of her head. She walks out onto the porch. She's contrasted, a dark figure against the setting sun. Black text against a white circle, the sky bleeding around it.

The pamphlet shakes in her hands.