What We Leave Behind
Eh, well, this is my first time writing something in this genre. So I'm not confident in my ability to work this out; I'd really appreciate feedback. Anyways, enjoy!
Korra and her friends hiked along a long dirt trail which wound through valleys and mountains, each of stunning beauty, and accompanied by the numerous joyful spirits who were always eager to greet the young Avatar. She glanced up to take in the view of the new Spirit Portal about a couple hundred meters away; it had opened up in Republic City after a fateful battle with Kuvira's forces and her massive superlaser armed mech-suit.
It was a beautiful view, backlit by a yellow and purple colored sun and a bright green sky, though tinted through with soft shades of pink that added a sort of tenderness to the overall picture. There was a slight hint of fog to allow for streaks of sunlight to stream pass through puffy white and blue clouds. Despite the cheery view and the fun little vacation she had gone on with her friends, Korra's insides chilled slightly at the memories of the attack on Republic City; likely the only good thing to come out of the attack was the fact that casualties were a lot lower than it would've been; something like 469 people died when a tunnel they were fleeing in collapsed, out of the 6.4 million who lived in the city.
She turned to face the others, who were all taking in the view. Bolin had quite the grin on his face. He'd grown to like the Spirit World quite a lot. Mako and Asami both had expressions of contentment on their faces. Either they weren't having thoughts similar to the ones going through Korra's head, or they were really good at hiding it; Korra wasn't sure which one was closer to the truth.
"Well, we're here. Ready to head back?" Korra asked. Asami nodded.
"Definitely. I mean, I like the Spirit World," she added on, "But I'll be happy to be home again." Mako and Bolin nodded agreement.
"Alright, let's get going. Don't want Opal getting worried, do you?" she said. Bolin's cheeks reddened slightly at the mention of his girlfriend, and Mako snorted, then tried to cover it up with a fake coughing fit. Bolin gave him a long suffering look, one that was unusual for the normally exuberant person. Korra laughed and began walking again, the group following not far behind.
They neared the Spirit Portal, gazing at the wondrous display of colors and light. Korra was still impressed, if not awed, by the whole "Spirit Portal pizzazz".
"Ok, guys. We're almost home," she said. She walked in, followed not long after by Asami, Mako, and Bolin, waiting for the familiar dropping of her stomach and light-headedness to happen, signifying their return to their world.
Nothing happened. Korra looked around, confused at the lack of… well, anything occurring in the Portal. The others looked equally as confused. Bolin shuffled his feet.
"Uhh… Does it usually take this long? I don't remember it taking this long when we went in," he said. Korra shook her head.
"No, it doesn't. Something's off," she replied. Just as she said it, the entire world seemed to lurch ominously, throwing everyone off balance. Mako adjusted his footing, and regained his balance almost instantly; Bolin and Asami were somewhat less agile, but both managed to stay upright. The ground seemed to literally slip out from underneath Korra in random directions, and she fell to the ground with a solid thud, grunting as she landed flat on her back. The ground began shaking rather violently, large boulders beginning to crumble and fall from the nearby cliffs. Bolin, always on the ball in these circumstances, dodged the falling boulders with seemingly effortless ease.
"Why isn't this working?" Mako asked, as he threw himself out of the way of another falling rock. Korra hopped off to one side to try to avoid the rocks. One glanced off her shoulder, leaving a shallow and quite a long gash on her left arm. She grimaced at the pain as the blood began to seep out of the wound and down her arm. This was news to her; she had no idea that she could actually get physically cut and stuff like that in the spirit world, at least normally. Well, Korra thought, I guess this isn't normal.
Korra ducked and weaved, trying to avoid the now intense hail of stones and boulders falling down from above. Dodging yet another large rock, she looked up, then wished she hadn't, but, apparently, also that she had.
The mountain next to the Portal shook violently as large cracks rippled through the mountainside. With a huge crackling noise, a massive portion of the mountain crumbled and began sliding down, picking up smaller rocks and the like to form what can only be described as a huge landslide, on a scale of which Korra had never seen before. She looked around, trying to decide whether it would be best to run or stay in hopes of the Portal opening up, when she suddenly felt lightheaded, her stomach seemed to drop right out of her stomach, and, surprisingly, began floating. She realized that the portal was finally working again, and that they would be flashing out of the Spirit World, and back into their own, familiar world. With a sudden flash, Korra and the others disappeared through the Portal.
Falling through what appeared to be the world's longest slide while being thrown about like a kid's toy doll was most definitely not a pleasant sensation.
Korra felt more and more disoriented as she tumbled and bumped her way through what she could only describe as a slide lined with the world's brightest colored strobe lights, one that wound back and forth arbitrarily, causing her to be randomly be thrown against the slide's walls without warning. Korra thought she heard a shout or something, far behind her. She tried shouting back, but her shout was cut off when she hit yet again the side during another one of the tunnel's changes in direction.
After a particularly hard directional change, in which Korra hit the side of the slide with enough force to crack a rib, the ride seemed to smoothen out, and the lights began to dim. She waited for the tunnel to finally end, to finally transport her and her friends back to their world.
She waited. And waited. And waited. For what seemed like hours, she coasted down the gentle slope of the tunnel, shifting in position only when the tunnel shifted in direction, or when she felt the need to do so. Strangely enough for her, she didn't feel any friction burn that would very likely result from sliding down something like this at this speed for this amount of time. Weird, she thought.
After what seemed to be an eternity, she saw a glimpse of light at what looked to be the end of the tunnel. Korra felt an urge to laugh, or whoop with joy, or something along those lines. But she was so out of it that all she managed to do was smile wanly as the light grew brighter and brighter as she drew closer and closer.
The light became blinding, and Korra flinched, shielding her eyes as the light became all-consuming and she reached the end of the tunnel and began to fall.
The four of them burst out of the Portal about three meters off the ground. Bolin yelped as he fell, quickly summoning a crude earthen ramp, on which he rolled down, grunting while doing so. Korra managed to hastily conjure up a draft of air, cushioning her and Asami as they hit the ground on their feet with a jolt, while Mako almost effortlessly coasted down on a plume of fire. Bolin groaned and sat up. He turned to look at Korra.
"I hope that wasn't the new normal in the Spirit World," Bolin said. "Because that was not fun."
Korra sighed, then winced as the movement agitated her very likely broken ribs. "No, that was definitely not normal," she said. "I don't even know why that happened. It's never happened before." Her face turned introspective in nature. "I wonder…"
Korra turned around and gingerly began walking to the Portal. Bolin's expression was one of confusion.
"Uh, would that work?" Bolin asked, pointing to the now differently colored Spirit Portal. Korra shrugged.
"Only one way to find out," she said, as she strode to the boundary and crossed it, waiting for the familiar feeling of her stomach dropping and her head lightening, or even the feeling of levitation, which had never happened until recently.
Korra frowned, then waited another five seconds. Then another 10. And yet another 20. Then kept waiting.
After 5 minutes of sitting, standing, wincing when she moved too much and her ribs flared up in pain, and general waiting, and sighing with both frustration and a sense of helplessness, she walked out of the Portal. Her friends didn't say anything.
"We're stuck here," Korra said. "We can't go back. We'll have to figure out what to do in the meantime."
Mako, always prepared and planning ahead, was already looking around, taking in the view. After several seconds of observing, his expression began to sink slowly into confusion with some concern mixed in. "Uhh, guys?" he said, pointing towards Republic City. The others turned to look at whatever Mako was pointing at. Their eyes went wide.
"Holy Mother of Raava," Bolin said quietly, earning an intrigued look from Korra, whose attention quickly switched back to Republic City. Well, it's different, Korra remarked. Really different.
Instead of the ever-present short stone buildings, often no more than ten stories tall and never taller than 35 meters, there were stunning and sleek metal and glass and polished stone buildings, way more elegant than the strictly utilitarian look of many buildings in Republic City, reaching up to the sky, several dozen stories and occasionally over 250 meters tall; lower to the ground were numerous large paved roads, on which hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles drove, going to wherever their destination was. A loud roar overhead drew their attention. Korra managed to get a glimpse of what appeared to be aircraft as they shot past, leaving light trails of what appeared to be steam. Asami's eyes went wide. She pointed up.
"Are those…" she asked. Korra nodded dumbly.
"Yep. They are," she replied. Mako looked around with interest.
"Where are we?" he asked. Bolin looked at him with something approaching mild astonishment.
"Dude, this is Republic City!" Bolin replied. "I mean, it's way different now, and everything looks different, and feels different, and sounds different, but that's not the point! It's still the same city."
Mako sighed and slumped his shoulders. "Maybe a better question would be, 'when are we?'" he said. Everyone shuffled their feet for a moment before Asami spoke up.
"Certainly not where - or when," Asami hastily corrected, " we're supposed to be. We were supposed to be in the Spirit World for only a few days, right?" she asked, looking at Korra.
"Yeah," Korra said, confirming Asami's statement. "It was supposed to be a short little camping trip. But, well…" Korra said, raising her hands in an expansive gesture. "Something went wrong along the way."
"Uh, Korra?" Mako ventured, pointing at her arm. "Your arm's…"
Korra looked down at her arm with a flash of memory. In the shenanigans involving the portal and coming out of it into a Republic City completely different from the one they lived in, she and her friends had basically either not noticed or, in Korra's case, forgotten about her cut. She quickly bended some water out of a water skin she always carried, and just as quickly healed the wound, leaving only a light mark. She bended some water around her ribs, too, for good measure; she remembered that it wouldn't do too much to bruising, but she could try. Bolin looked around some more.
"You know, why don't we look around a little?" he suggested. "At least to figure out what to do while we're stuck here. I personally really want to take a good look at this Republic City. I wonder what kind of pro-bending circuit they have here." The others nodded. Bolin turned to look at Korra, as if waiting confirmation. Korra nodded agreement.
"Well, it looks like we might have to be here for a while," Korra said. "Why not?"
The four of them planned extensively. They planned for extended time apart from each other in the event of them being split, everyone getting several days worth of food and money, along with some of the toiletries that Asami had brought a couple days ago, and some of the camping gear Mako and Bolin had packed for the trip. Then came the issue of grouping. No one seemed to agree on whether they should go as an entire group (Korra's idea), each going their separate way (Bolin's idea), or splitting into two groups of two (Mako's idea). The group, save Asami, debated for a little bit on which was the best option.
"Going as a group is safer than otherwise," Korra said. "It'd be less likely for any one of us to get lost."
"But going on our own lets us see more of the city," Bolin countered. "That's why we're doing this in the first place; to see things in this future Republic City." Mako shook his head.
"We can do both," he said. "Splitting into small groups lets us see more things than a group, and we still stay safer than individuals," Mako said. Korra frowned, then turned to Asami.
"What do you think, Asami?" Korra asked.
Asami didn't answer right away. Korra was starting to wonder if she'd zoned out, until she abruptly spoke up.
"I think groups of two is best," she said. "We'd be able to see more than as one group, and I think we're good enough that any two of us'll be pretty safe." The group mulled it over. Mako merely nodded once. Korra thought it over, weighing the mixed proposal Mako proposed that Asami seconded against her own idea of a large group, then mimicked Mako's nod of agreement. Bolin really thought it over, eyes dashing back and forth as he evaluated his idea against Asami's idea. After several seconds of intense mental debate, he sagged slightly, then said,
"Alright. I still think my idea works better, though." Asami clapped her hands together.
"So is it settled?" she asked. The others nodded confirmation. "Alright, then. How about you two," Asami said, pointing at Mako and Bolin, "and Korra and me?"
"Sounds good," Korra said. Mako and Bolin seconded her opinion. They split into the agreed upon groups and a regrouping time within five hours, said their "farewells", then set off into the unknown.