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Air Temple Island at Night
The whole day had passed without much happening, Naruto had tried to find Korra, but he couldn't find her anywhere. He asked everyone, but no one knew where she was. Swallowing his pride, Naruto approached the aged Airbender who just happened to be wandering around in the gardens of the temple where Naruto was currently in.
"Uncle," Naruto said once he was close enough.
Tenzin turned around and gave his nephew a neutral expression. "Naruto."
Naruto sighed. "Listen, I know we're still a little angry at each other for the argument we had in the morning, but I need you to tell me if you know where Korra is. I haven't seen her since the morning. I'm worried about her."
Realizing that Korra's mental welfare was very important and sensing his nephew's worry behind his words, Tenzin decided to put their differences aside for the time being and softened his expression. "I don't know where she is, but I know how she's feeling right now. After Chief Saikhan's announcement as the new Chief of Police, me and Korra had some words with Tarrlok. In the end, he says some very hurtful things to Korra and left her very doubtful about herself. I believe you should talk to her, Naruto."
The younger Airbender Master nodded his thanks and left the temple garden, searching for Korra. As he was doing this, he pondered about what Tenzin told him about Tarrlok and how he said hurtful things about Korra. Naruto knew Korra wasn't the type of person that would feel sorrowful just because someone said to her some mean words, so whatever it was that Tarrlok said to her, it must have been not just unkind but downright cruel. Naruto's blood started to boil at that thought. He could care less if Tarrlok was an important figure in the city; he would get payback one way or another. How? He had no idea, but where there's a will, there's a way.
After a while, Naruto was walking near one of the extremes of the island. Suddenly, he heard a little sound coming from the other side of the bushes. Normally, he would dismiss whatever that was and suppose it was an animal squeaking or something. But because he was alert, he was able to tell the difference. This was not an animal squeak.
It was a sob.
Fearing for the worst, Naruto quickly went through the bushes. When he got to the other side, he felt both glad and worried simultaneously.
He felt glad because he found Korra sitting near the end of the island.
He felt worried because she was crying.
"There you are. I've been looking everywhere for you." Naruto said as he approached his childhood friend. Korra looked at him and quickly wiped her tears with her hand so Naruto wouldn't see her crying. She didn't want to look fragile in front of her dear friend, for it was not her nature. But Naruto quickly grabbed her hand as he took a sit next to her. "Tenzin told me what happened earlier."
"He did?" Korra asked in a mix of shock and sadness.
Naruto nodded. "Yeah. Well, sort of, really. He told me that Tarrlok said something to you and that you were not feeling very well. You wanna talk about it?"
Korra stayed silent for a minute before muttering something too low for Naruto to hear.
"What was that?"
"I'm a failure."
The Airbender was stunned to hear such a statement. "What? What could possibly make you think that?"
Korra looked at her friend with a sad face as tears were coming out again from her blue eyes. "Isn't it obvious? I must be the first Avatar that can't airbend. All of this time, I have been training to get it right, but I'm just not able to." she said, lowering her head. "Who needs a useless Avatar anyways?"
"Korra, you are not useless. What did Tarrlok say to you that made you believe that nonsense?"
"He said I was a..."
"A what?" Naruto urged her to continue.
"... A half-baked Avatar because I can't airbend," she said as she started to cry once again.
Naruto instantly pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. Korra buried her head in Naruto's chest and let her tears stain his coat. She didn't notice it, but Naruto was slightly trembling out of rage. He was clenching his fists so hard that some of the wounds on his hands opened again, staining his bandages with blood a little. His first impulse was to grab Sozu and beat Tarrlok into a pulp, but sanity prevailed. Right now, Korra needed comfort and reassurance. He hated seeing her so sad and unsure of herself, and he was always determined to make her feel better.
The pair stayed in that position for some time. When Naruto felt Korra was somewhat better, he separated her head from his chest and looked at her now red and puffy eyes. It was at that moment that he decided to make her feel better, even if it meant having to lie a little. "Korra, do you remember that time you were angry at yourself because you couldn't get past the spinning gates?" he asked. Korra looked at him and nodded, not really sure where this conversation was going. "Do you remember how much time I said it took me to get the exercise done?"
The Avatar sniffled back some tears and did her best to calm herself. "You said three days, right?"
Naruto nodded. "I lied to you that time. It didn't take me three days... It took me a little longer than three months."
A pair of blue eyes widened in shock, and just before Korra could say anything, Naruto spoke up. "When I started to learn airbending, I was a complete joke. It didn't matter how much I trained; I simply couldn't improve. As much as I wanted to deny it, I felt like maybe I should just quit airbending forever and go back to my home. There were times when I could hear some of the Air Acolytes whispering about the new kid that came to live on the island and how much of a failure he was. On more than one occasion, I would quit the airbending lessons with Tenzin, hide in the forest and cry out of frustration. I thought I was useless, a complete waste of time for my uncle." he said. Taking a deep breath, Naruto continued. "However, I refused to give up. I realized that my desire to make my mom proud of me was bigger than my irritation, so I began working harder than ever. It was difficult and extremely challenging for me, but in the end, I overcame my shortcomings as an Airbender and proved wrong all those who doubted me."
Korra was in awe. She simply couldn't believe her ears. To her, Naruto was the kind of guy that never doubted himself, the epitome of confidence. She also knew Naruto was prideful to a degree when it came to his airbending, so for him to open himself up like that and admit he was a failure at first must have been really difficult.
"What I'm trying to say to you, Korra is that I know how frustrating airbending can be, but you shouldn't doubt yourself because I know you can pull it off. If you ask me, the Avatar is not the person who's able to bend all four elements but the one trusted by the Spirits to maintain the balance in the world. I think the Spirits trusted in you because they knew you would be strong enough to bring peace with our without airbending."
"How do you know that I'm strong?" Korra asked, looking for some wisdom.
"How do I know? Because I've seen what you have to deal with. I see a girl not even past her twenties who has to face the Triads and the Equalists. A girl that had to spend most of her life away from her family and society so that she could protect the world better. A girl that had to sacrifice many things so others could sleep better at night. But most important of all, I see a girl that not only acknowledges her deepest fears but is also willing to face them. That's why I know you're strong. That's why I know you can and will learn airbending if you give it your all." Naruto said. Next thing, he placed his right hand on Korra's left cheek, leaned closer, and gave her a warm smile. "And that's why I'll always be there for you when you need me. We have been friends since the beginning."
Korra said nothing at first. Instead, she made a small but genuine smile and wrapped her arms around Naruto's neck. Naruto was caught by surprise but quickly returned the embrace. He felt glad that he was able to lighten her up in her time of uncertainty.
As for Korra, she was still crying. But those tears were no longer sadness or self-pity; they were tears of happiness. Knowing that Naruto was always going to be there for her and that he had 100% trust in her was a feeling she couldn't get enough of. Naruto always knew what to say to make her feel better, to make her believe in herself when she couldn't. He was one of the first persons to see her as Korra, not just the Avatar. He took the time to listen to and understand her like nobody else had done before. Sometimes, she wondered what she had done to deserve such a good f-friend. "Thank you, Naruto. I really mean it," she said as she proceeded to express her gratitude the best way she could right now, getting closer to him and kissing his cheek.
"There you guys are! We've been looking everywhere for you two!" Bolin said, coming out of the bushes with Pabu in his hands, followed by Asami and Mako.
"What are you doing here?" Mako asked the couple. "It's getting late, and Tenzin was getting worried."
Naruto grinned. "It's ok; we were just talking about life and stuff. Sorry for the trouble."
Asami analyzed Korra thoroughly. By the look of her eyes, she looked like she must have been crying. But there was also that slight blush on her face and a smile that expressed undeniable joy. If she had to guess, Korra must have been sad over something, and Naruto came to her rescue with words of comfort. 'And maybe they shared something more than just words.' Asami thought deviously. "Well, all that matters is that we found you."
"Yeah. Hey guys, I just wanted to thank you for being here." Korra said. "It's really nice to have you guys around."
Bolin, Asami, and Mako looked shocked. "Are you kidding me?" Mako asked. "We should be the ones thanking you. After all, what happened between us. You guys still came to our help."
"That's right. You two are absolutely wonderful!" Bolin exclaimed while pointing at Korra and Naruto.
"If it weren't for you, I would still be living in ignorance, thinking that my father is a wonderful and peaceful man. I owe you for helping me to open my eyes." Asami declared.
Everyone gathered up as Naruto started talking. "You see, Korra? You've changed people's lives for the better. And we can change so many more as the new Team Avatar."
Mako nodded. "We got your back, Korra. Together, we can save this city."
"Team Avatar, huh?" Bolin asked, placing his fingers on his chin. "I like it! I'm in!"
Now it was Asami's turn. "I'm gonna do everything I can to atone for my father's wrongs. You can count me in as well."
Naruto walked up to Asami, grabbing her hand, much to her delight, before turning to look at Korra. "What do you say, Korra? You up for the challenge?"
Korra smiled before nodding with a determined face. "I'm up. Let's do this!"
Air Temple Entrance
"Get ready, Republic City. You're about to be patrolled by Team Avatar." Bolin said as the rest of the new Team Avatar regrouped outside. Naruto was now wearing his usual clothes, the only difference being that his bandages covered his hands as well as his forearms.
Naruto stepped in and looked at his girlfriend. "Asami, you always know how to accessorize your outfits," Naruto commented with a smirk while placing his hands on his hips. Asami was wearing her usual jacket and pants, but now she incorporated the Equalist glove on her right hand that Hiroshi gave her.
"I figured one way to fight Equalists is using Equalist weapons," Asami responded before activating the glove.
"Alright, let's ride," Korra said. However, when the five of them attempted to ride Naga at the same time, the Polar Bear Dog threw them out of her back due to being overweight; how Korra didn't expect that she had on idea whatsoever. "Alright, scratch that. Any other ideas?" Korra asked the group.
"We could try to ride Sozu, but he can only bring two of us. Also, I'm the only one besides Asami and Korra he allows to have on his back, and the plan is that we stick together. And if that wasn't enough, he's feeling really grumpy today, so I suggest we don't bother him." Naruto said.
"Mmmmhhh, I think I have an idea," Asami said with a smile.
Future Industries Test Track
The Team Avatar went to the Sato Estate, much to their perplexity (except for Asami and Naruto). When they got there, Asami told the rest that she remembered a new toy that could prove to be useful. Even though nobody understood what she was talking about, they still followed the Sato girl. The place she was talking about was the test track they visited a couple of days ago. Once they arrived, Asami entered a small garage, and a minute later, she appeared outside driving a shiny new black/white/red Satomobile sports car.
"You think this will do?" Asami asked with a smirk.
Bolin, Korra, Mako, and Naruto smiled and went inside the car. Asami was driving; Naruto was the co-pilot, Bolin was sitting behind Asami, and Mako was sitting next to Bolin.
"Wait a minute, where do I sit?" Korra asked.
Only then did they realize that the Satomobile only had four seats available. Most sports cars had only two, but this one was supposed to be part of a new line of design Hiroshi Sato planned to introduce to the market next year. With this in mind, Naruto tried to solve the problem at hand. Asami was a good driver, and the only one with a driving license for that matter, so changing seats with her was out of the question. Changing seats with either Bolin or Mako was pointless because the problem would still remain. So, there was only one choice left.
"I guess we don't have much choice, Korra," Naruto said, smiling.
Korra was sitting in Naruto's place while the latter was flying with Sozu just a few meters above them. Bolin envies the blonde, thinking flying around was a much better option.
Just then, a voice coming out of the radio announced that the situation they were dealing with was a false alarm and that all units must return to the station. Everyone wondered what it was about until Asami explained. "My dad always installed scanners all over his cars. I guess now I know why," she said, disappointed.
That was when another message was displayed from the same police radio frequency. "Calling all units. The situation at sector 45 area 8. Officers down. Chi-blockers in sight, armed and dangerous. Last seen in Mayor Street. Repeat all units to Mayor Street."
Without waiting for the team's approval, Asami quickly turned right on the street and hit the gas pedal, ignoring the complaints of the other drivers near her. It didn't take them long to spot a big truck with four motorcycles on its sides.
"Let's get 'em'!"
Asami hit the gas pedal and started to chase the Equalists on the road. In the middle of the persecution, a large truck appeared and blocked their way. Korra quickly had an idea. "Bolin, give me a ramp!" she said as she stood up, and earth bent a ramp on the street with Bolin just before the two vehicles crashed into one another. The idea worked, and the car went right over the truck, landing on the other side of the street.
Mako then aimed at the chi-blocker motorcyclist in front of him and shot a lightning bolt. The attack caught the Equalist off guard and made him jump out of his motorcycle. Not wanting to be outclassed by his brother, Bolin bent a stream of rocks and threw them at another chi-blocker. One of the rocks went inside the vehicle's gas tube, producing a malfunction in the motorcycle. The Equalist couldn't react in time and was sent flying out of his seat.
The last two motorcyclists turned on a switch placed on the throttle of their vehicles, and a large cloud of smoke started to spread toward Team Avatar. Naruto reacted by landing with Sozu and sending a powerful wave of air, dissipating the smoke and making the chi-blockers lose control, which ended up in both of them rolling on the ground. Seizing the opportunity, Asami pressed the gas pedal and placed herself right next to the truck. Mako then shot a lightning bolt at the driver, who screamed in pain before crashing into a light pole and a brick wall, thus ending the persecution.
The sound of cameras taking pictures could be heard in the entire street, and the reporters were already thinking of the new headline for tomorrow's newspaper. 'Team Avatar stops Equalist assault.' could be one of them. Team Avatar was standing beside a group of tied-up chi-blockers on their knees, allowing themselves to be photographed. Naruto didn't think that bringing too much attention to themselves was a brilliant idea. Still, it sent two important messages to Republic City: That the Avatar was present and that she did not have any need for Tarrlok's task force to do her job.
'I just can't wait to see Tarrlok's face when he sees this.' was Naruto and Korra's thought.
Soon enough, Tarrlok and his task force came to the scene, and the council member did not look amused. Naruto smirked and turned to face Korra. "Ready for a little payback?" he whispered.
"You bet," Korra responded with a smirk of her own.
"Avatar Korra, what do you think you're doing here?" Tarrlok asked with a frown once he reached the couple.
"Oh hey, Tarrlok. Nice of you to show up, finally. Here, we caught the ex-convicts for you." Korra said, pointing at the prisoners.
Tarrlok glared at her. "What you did was to tear up the streets and prevent the city's law enforcers from doing the job they are rightfully tasked with."
Korra placed her fingers on her chin, making a thoughtful expression. "That's funny; I didn't see your little task force or the cops the whole time. If it weren't for Team Avatar, they would've gotten away."
"Not bad for a... What was it? Oh yeah, a half-baked Avatar. Wouldn't you agree, Tarrlok?" Naruto asked, amused. Watching the cunning and confident council member lose his patience was certainly delightful for the Airbender, especially when he was part of the reason for his anger.
"This is your last warning: Stay out of my way." Tarrlok adverted, his eyes briefly glancing at Naruto before walking away with his task force and the reporters, who already had as many pictures as they wanted.
Bolin, Mako, Asami, and Korra were currently waiting inside the 'Avatarmobil,' as Bolin liked to call it, waiting for any criminal movement to be advised by the radio. As they were making small talk with one another, the police scanner was activated.
"All available units. Please respond to the situation in development at sector 3 area 11, Crimson Dragon Avenue. Equalists have taken over the streets and considered them armed and dangerous. Proceed with caution."
"Looks like we have another Equalist rally to interrupt," Korra said, smiling in anticipation. Last night, she showed Tarrlok that she didn't need him or his task force to get the job done. Team Avatar was more than capable enough to handle anything they might encounter.
Mako smirked. "You can say that again," he said before turning on the radiophone and talking. "Hurricane, this is Thunder. Do you copy?"
"Loud and clear, over," Naruto said as he flew with Sozu.
The radiophone was a new invention. Hiroshi Sato had been working for the Equalists. It was an electronic device that worked like a radio and a telephone, enabling the users to communicate with one another over low to medium distances. Asami found the prototypes inside the sports car and tried them with Naruto while the Airbender was riding Sozu. The little experiment was a success, and now they had a member of Team Avatar watching their backs from the skies in case things got messy.
Of course, Naruto insisted on using nicknames. He argued that it wasn't safe to use their actual names because there was a chance that their conversations might be recorded in an Equalist base, but truthfully he just liked the nickname Hurricane. It suited him due to his airbending nature. Korra was Tsunami, Bolin was Earthquake, Mako was Thunder, and Asami was Speed Queen.
"There's a thing going on in Crimson Dragon Avenue. Looks like an Equalist rally or something. We're heading there, over."
"Copy that. Hurricane is on his way, over."
"Oh, oh, oh, can I do it now?" Bolin asked excitedly.
Mako shook his head. "Sorry, Bo, this is not a toy," he said, making the earthbender pout.
Crimson Dragon Avenue
Naruto landed in a secluded street just before entering Crimson Dragon Avenue. As he jumped out of Sozu, he examined what in the Spirits World was going on. Mako said something about an Equalist rally, but all he saw was a crowd shouting at police officers, none of them making a single hostile attempt toward the metalbenders. He also noticed that the power was out, for there was no light in the streets except the ones coming out from the vehicles of Tarrlok's task force.
'So Tarrlok got here first. He better have a good reason for this.' Naruto thought. "Alright, Sozu, stick around and call me if you see anything suspicious. Don't do anything that might attract attention unless you absolutely have to. I'll blow a whistle if I need your help."
The almighty bird squealed in understanding before parting away.
Now that Sozu was gone, Naruto approached Korra, who was speaking to Tarrlok in a tent. "You have no right to treat these people like criminals!" Naruto heard her say.
"Korra, what's going on here? Why are these people being harassed?" Naruto asked.
"Tarrlok is trying to imprison them because they are non-benders! He thinks they are Equalists!" Korra responded.
The Airbender glared at the council member. "I thought your job was protecting the citizens, not threatening them. Have you lost your mind?"
Tarrlok returned the hateful glare. "My job is to protect the citizens from the Equalists. This is an Equalist rally!"
"They are not Equalists; they are just normal people who want their rights back," Asami argued.
"They are the enemy!" Tarrlok said, pointing at the crowd behind them before facing the metalbenders. "Round up all of these Equalists!"
Following their leader's command, the metalbenders stood in line and used the barriers holding the crowd to separate them into groups and trap them, while others made platforms out of the earth beneath their feet to hold the groups in the air.
The crowd cried when they noticed Naruto and the Avatar standing there.
"Destroy Tarrlok; allow me to give you the power you need," A sinister voice spoke in Naruto's mind.
His eyes narrowed furiously at the man, all this suffering; his nails started growing longer as the power started flowing freely through his body.
The rest of the crowd panicked and left the scene in terror. Korra decided to put an end to this nonsense, and earth bent the platforms back to the ground. Tarrlok growled, and his gaze was now directed to Asami.
Before anyone could react, Tarrlok sent a water whip to the Sato girl and immobilized her. "Hey, let me go!"
"You are under arrest!"
Naruto growled in anger. "What? You can't do that!"
Tarrlok smirked at the Airbender. "Actually, I can. She's a non-bender out past curfew, and her father is a known Equalist conspirator," he explained.
"Being a non-bender is not a crime! And just because Hiroshi is an Equalist doesn't mean she is as well!" Naruto said, furious. His voice caused the walls of the nearby buildings to shake. He really couldn't believe this guy. The council member was now a madman with power, and in his book, few things were more dangerous than that.
"Let her go, now," Naruto warned, his eyes red like blood.
Asami's eyes widened, knowing where this all could lead; she recognized this feeling, the same feeling she had that night when Naruto lost control and seven years ago when he had lost control again. A flash of a different Naruto passed through her eyes, a furious Naruto standing on all fours with three red tails behind his back. A power that couldn't be challenged even by the Avatar; she knew if Naruto lost control, he would do things he would regret for the rest of his life.
Knowing she needed to act fast. "Naruto, Please Stop," she shouted at the top of her lungs, breaking Naruto of his angry thoughts.
His red eyes looked at her green ones that he loved. Her eyes were pleading at him, with unshed tears. "Please, for the love you have for me. Please, don't do anything," she begged, knowing this could end up with the same Naruto as seven years ago.
Naruto looked at her, confused and hurt, he wanted to help her, but her words made him stop. "Why?" He asked with a broken tone.
"This is nothing for me. Just let's fix this without more bloodshed," she pleaded; Naruto frowned, glaring at Tarrlok, he wanted nothing more than to tear him apart, from limb to limb, but he remembered her plead, his eyes slowly going back to normal blue.
Looking down, he reluctantly nodded his head. Asami smiled in relief, and the blonde simply closed his fist so hard that blood was dripping from his palms.
He stood powerless as his friends and the woman he loved were taken away. I will Destroy him...