This is my 20th story so I decided to go all out! The season three finale comes out tomorrow So here is my contribution!
Established Korrasami! This is about Book 1 but set before Book 3
Disclaimer: All Rights reserved to the owners!
"Do we really have to do this?"
Bolin smacked both of his heavy hands down onto his brother's shoulders. Clamping onto him like a puppy wanting to go for a walk while simultaneously shaking him.
"OF COURSE WE DO! It's not everyday that the Ember Island Players decide to do a whole show based off us!"
Korra and Asami shook their heads fondly and laughed as Mako pried off his little brother's affection. Then resting a hand onto his head, the firebender tried to will the room to stop spinning.
"I can't believe you all want to see some low budget actors portray things we've already experienced first hand..."
The Avatar rolled her eyes and gently released her hold on her girlfriend's hand long enough to reach out and place it upon the dizzy boy's back comfortingly.
"Cheer up Mako I bet it's gonna be great!"
"Oh please you just wanna see it because Asami forced you to."
Narrowing her blue eyes, Korra removed her supporting hand and gritted her teeth. Neither denying or acknowledging the jab at her pride.
"Shut up, maybe I had a change of heart!"
"Or a threat from her to withhold sex..."
Brushing past the cackling brothers who both were making a loud 'whipping' sound behind her, Korra reached to once again intertwine her hand with Asami. Dragging her smirking and rather pleased looking girlfriend towards their shared booth.
"Just come on! Our seats are this way."
Following their friend's lead, the duo of four found themselves seated in the top box of the playhouse. Courtesy of Asami's generous offer to treat her best friends to the performance.
There was a perfect view, along with the cushioned seating and air conditioned atmosphere showed that they easily had the best seats of the house.
Korra sat in first, then Asami, then Bolin, finishing with Mako towards the box exit.
The Avatar allowed her gaze to focus on the stage down below with slight disdain.
She truthfully didn't want to be here at all really. But when Asami wanted something from her, it was actually quite a feat for the water tribe girl to be able to resist the Sato charm.
She usually failed.
Being pulled from her glaring by the heiress nestling into her neck, Korra willed herself not to smile.
"Babe we're just teasing you."
"I know...but I am not whipped!"
"Of course you aren't."
Lifting her face up so she could leave a light peck on the other's tan cheek, Asami smiled at the blush she could just see forming on her girlfriend's face. Even after over two years of dating she still had the capability of turning the Avatar into a melting pile of submission.
Korra was grateful for the suddenly dimming light, knowing that Asami was probably grinning at the flames igniting her cheeks.
A hush fell over the audience as the beginning chords of the play's intro music filtered into the large space. The blood red curtains pulled back to show what looked like a half ass attempt of recreating a traditional southern water tribe igloo. On the inside at least.
The only thing hinting that they were down south at all was the snowflakes painted onto the fake igloo windows.
Korra smacked a hand to her forehead. Already dreading the next few hours.
As the final beats of the orchestra faded, a large and muscular black man with a fake beard sticking from his scowling face came onto the stage. He had his arms crossed and literally looked purely hostile just from first glance.
Next out came a woman who was FAR too thin and pale to even come close to looking anything like the Avatar's mother. She was either terrified or freezing(possibly both) for the entire auditorium could see shivers rattling her tiny body. Maybe she was actually sick...
Both actors looked nothing like the girl's parents at all save for their somewhat on point hair styles.
"This is already so painful to watch..."
"Shhhhh! Look there are three hooded dudes coming out!"
Shaking her head at Bolin's enthusiasm, Korra returned her attention downwards.
The leader of the three hooded men moved forward onto the middle of the stage and began the show off with bellowing voice.
"You two! We have received word that you believe your daughter is, THE avatar?"
The pale woman stepped forward, clutching onto the prop broom she had in her hand so tightly that the entire audience could see her knuckles turn white.
"I-it's true! O-our daughter is t-the one you s-seek!"
"BUT HOW CAN IT BE! This is the Southern Water Tribe! We surely expected the new reincarnation of Aang to appear from the much more advanced, NORTH!"
Dramatically throwing his hands up towards the ceiling, the hooded man regained his composure and began to whisper to his colleagues.
"That is not even true! The South is just as caught up in world issues and technology as the Northern Water Tribe...guys?"
Blinking in shock, the Avatar found that her entire group of friends were already completely enwrapped in the horrid show.
Turning back to see what she missed, the tan girl's jaw dropped as she saw the man portraying her dad spit like some savage off stage and move to hold a fist up to the men.
"Ya'll callin me wife here a liar?!"
Spirits above you could break steel with how thick his accent was.
Before a brawl could break free, the mother actress moved into the burly man's way and placed a thin hand onto his bicep.
"C-calm yourself, m-my love! I-if they don't believe o-our words, perhaps they'll b-believe their eyes! K-korra!"
On cue, all five actors on stage moved away, as a dramatic drum roll and spot light directed itself onto the center of the set.
With a war chant, a chubby little boy with horribly fake pigtails bashed through the paper made wall in the middle of the stage.
Pudgy belly stretching far past his too tight fit bright blue tshirt and boxer shorts firmly in place, Korra's mouth hung slacked.
"I'm the Avatar! You gotta problem with it?"
Mako and Bolin fell out of their seats laughing their asses off.
Asami snorted rather ungracefully and used both of her hands to cover the bubbling laughter threatening to spill over. While the rest of the audience too cracked up at the sight, Korra's blood turned to fire.
"That's not even what I said! And why the hell is a little BOY playing me!"
Wiping away a tear from her eye, the heiress patted her girlfriend's head like a child.
"I don't know sweetie, but this is already hilarious."
Back on stage the 'child Avatar' began to throw around blue and red colored streamers while whoever was working over head threw down props of large fake rocks.
"SHE IS THE AVATAR! Look at how she bende three of the earth's elements! We must take her to a safe place far away from her only family at once!"
With that the three hooded men shoved down Korra's parents and ran off with the child.
Suddenly the lights faded down and a blackout allowed all of the participants to change the set as the audience clapped.
Everyone was already hooked! Except for Korra.
"I was NOT that big as a kid, and I certainly didn't 'HIYA CHAKA' when I bended!"
The three ignored her as the lights on stage reignited and a large training ground backdrop.
The three hooded figures from before were back, and with them was a VERY old looking woman with heavy makeup on and two twin hair loops.
She was supposedly Master Katara, Korra assumed.
A bright flash of red shocked the lighting before two men dressed in red suits came on stage and pretended to fall to their knees and lie across the ground. Seemingly defeated.
A no longer child version of the avatar ran on, and Korra's jaw fell once again as she took in a skimpily dressed girl wearing what looked a lot like some sick pervert's idea of a training outfit.
The real Avatar watched as her double twirled onto the stage with her hair pulled into two side hangers and a wolf tail. She may have had the hair and skin tone down, but similarities ended there.
"Wooohoo! Two for two! GOOOOO Bending!"
Korra positive that if Naga ever heard this high pitched girl speak she'd claw off her ears.
At least it was a girl and not another guy in drag. That would have driven her mad all night to see herself played by the opposite gender.
And she had to admit...they hired a really cute actress.
"This is totally awesome! I love firebending so much because it's hot! Just like me hehehe!"
Asami chuckled again, but her hilarity died when she noticed not only both the guys eyeing this cheerleader-y girl, but her OWN girlfriend as well.
Smacking the tan girl upside the head, the heiress frowned.
"Don't check yourself out!"
Sheepishly turning back to the play, the Avatar apologized quickly and tried to focus on anything but her 'portrayer's' assets.
The same hooded man from before stepped forward onto the stage and nodded his head.
"You passed your fire test, Korra well done!"
'Katara' suddenly shocked everyone and broke down into tears. Running across stage to hug the Korra girl while weeping as though she were about to die.
"Oh my Aang reincarnate! With 3 of the elements mastered you are giving me so much hope that I feel as though I might tearbend! WAHHHHHHHHH"
Fake 'Korra' patted her teacher's head fondly and cheered once again.
"You're so right! I'm totes gonna be the best Avatar ever!"
The audience rippled in laughter while up in their box, Mako and Bolin mockingly batted their eyelashes and reenacted the words 'so right' and 'totes' with frilly hand movements.
Korra threateningly glared at her two friends and smirked when they both stopped at once and went back to the play.
"Master Katara! Look! It's your son Tenzin and his family!"
The actress gasped dramatically along with 'Korra', as the hooded figures left the stage and an extremely tall man riding a people operated bison 'flew' on.
'Katara' and 'Korra' ran to his side at once, but the actor playing the airbending father made no move to react.
Simply hopping off of his bison and standing like a pole.
"Tenzin! My youngest son! Oh the tears of my happiness flow, I was so hopeful that you'd come visit!"
"Hello mother...wonderful to see you...again."
Now while most of the actors so far had been horrible, Korra mentally laughed at how stuck up and strict they were already making this Tenzin seem.
Fake Katara moved to throw her arms around her 'son', while three equally as unresponsive children dressed in orange robes, stepped out from behind the bison prop and stood like the father. Directly behind him in a perfect line. Unsmiling and unmoving.
It unsettled everyone slightly.
The group though followed then by a bored looking 'Pema' who came out and lazily checked her nails. Pregnant belly showing greatly.
"Oh spirits above! Could it be that you are pregnant again?! Another grandchild for me to hope for! My my my Pema how on earth will you manage so many rambunctious children!"
The three kids on stage blinked and moved to leave. Taking out tiny handheld gliders from their pockets and 'flying' off stage without a word. Or a smile.
'Katara' gasped and cried some more.
"There they go now! Look how they soar! Oh my Aang would be so proud of how much hope your family is bringing the world Tezin!"
"I know...dad would be...so happy...just...like I am..."
The Korra girl stepped forward finally and moved to redirect the sobbing elder out of the way so that she could speak to the lanky man wearing a too big tattooed bald cap.
"Hiya Tenzino babino! Is it time for me to learn my super important airbending stuff now?!"
"No...I have work...back home in Republic City...you should stay here..."
Gasping and putting a hand to her heart, the Korra actress fell to her knees and began to beg 'Tenzin' to take her too.
"No...it's dangerous...You'd die..."
He carelessly shoved her off of his legs and move to get back onto his bison prop.
"Farewell mom...love you...come kids...home awaits..."
Rushing into the fake Korra's side, the sobbing waterbending master pointed to her son's retreating form.
"KORRA YOUR DESTINY IS LEAVING! Quickly! You have to get to Republic City! WAHHHHHHH"
"Okie Dokie! Naga! Come here girl!"
A man wearing all black ran onto the stage and handed the fake Avatar a large stick with a stuffed dog's head attached to one side.
Putting a leg on either side of the pole, 'Korra' ripped off her red attire. Suddenly getting wolf whistles and cat calls as the audience took in the even flimsier blue crop top, tan fur lined flowing mini skirt, and knee high heeled boots.
"AW COME ON! There is no way I would be able to fight in that!"
Korra whined and tried to cover her face. Hiding the embarrassment she felt as her actress ran off stage chasing 'Tenzin'.
Another blackout signaled the end of yet another scene, and Asami comfortingly rubbed her girlfriend's shoulders.
"Don't worry babe, everyone knows you don't wear stuff like that."
"Not that it would be so bad if you did I mean."
The lights reignited onto the backdrop of a street way as 'Korra' hopped around on her Naga prop.
"Wow! That boat ride I snuck on suuurreee made me hungry! Hey look Naga, a group of kind nonbenders! I bet they know where I can get some food."
Galloping over as a group of people came on stage, the teens all noticed a thin man moving to stand on a large crate.
Readjusting his thick glasses before lifting up a large rolled up newspaper to project his nasal voice.
"Non benders of Republic City! It is no longer safe for us here! Amon our spirit guider can help us feel protected once again, but only of you join the equalist"
'Korra' looked towards the audience with a 'can you believe this' expression as the protester handed out flyers.
Remaining on her pole of Naga, the Avatar actress moved closer towards the crowd. Causing most of them to dramatically gasp while others fainted.
"LOOK AT THAT MONSTROUS DOG BEAST!"
"IT'S GOING TO EAT US ALL!"
"SAVE THE CHILDREN!"
"Nuh uh! Don't be scaredy catducks! My pal Naga here is as sweet as can be!"
The man who had been speaking before moved closer to 'Korra' and crossed his arms.
"A polar bear dog? Only a bender would be brave enough to have something like that!"
"You betcha I'm a bender! And the equalist sound like a bunch of jerks!"
The nasal man moved forward and dramatically shook his fist.
"Leave this meeting at once!"
"Okie dokie artichokie!"
The real Korra banged her head down against the edge of the box wall that prevented people from falling over into the lower level.
Then again at this point the idea sounded tempting.
Luckily though, time seemed to fly by for a short while as pointless filler moments happened.
The Avatar actress met the homeless man of the park, fought off the triple threat tirade robbing a store, and finally ended up getting caught by the police force(who just threw around grey streamers).
Now being taken in for questioning, Korra became interested again. A little curious as to how they would play in Lin.
The scene had been made to show off an entirely greyed out backdrop, made to appear like an interrogation room. Only having a single table, fake Korra, and two chairs on set.
Within seconds a woman walked onto the stage.
Surprisingly this lady seemed to fit the profile for the police chief excellently. Same styled wig and uniform. Stiff posture with her hands clamped behind her back. Good build and age defining makeup.
The only thing off were the dramatically red painted on scars aligning the wrong side of her face.
"You are ruining my city!"
Nevermind she was perfect.
The real Korra leaned back in her seat and allowed silent laughter to fall from her lips.
At least they got something correct so far.
Back in the act, the STILL skimpily dressed Avatar listened as 'Lin' listed of all her offenses. Destruction of property, public disturbance, Vandalism, ect.
She also stated that the girl had a lot of nerve to dress so revealingly, to which the actress responded that she liked to tease.
The Avatar in the box thought she might throw up.
Eventually the scene was interrupted by another officer coming in and alerting 'Chief Beigfong' that 'Tenzin was here.
Gasping and jumping from her seat, the fake Korra smiled and pointed an excited finger at the chief.
"O.M.G! You are Toph's daughter! That means my past life and your mom were friends! Does this make us besties?!"
Pouting, the 'Avatar' snapped her fingers.
"Aw fooey! Oh well I still think we'll be great buddies some day! Put em there!"
Holding out her handcuffed hand in offer of a friendly shake, the Lin actress sighed and unlocked the teen's restraints.
"You're lucky Tenzin is here. Because I have a romantic past with him, I'll allow you to leave free of charge."
With that the actress walked out of the 'room'.
The second she was off stage, the fake airbending master came on.
"Yay! Tenzin I was looking for you! I need to learn from you and I ran away from home just so I could come live in Republic City!"
Not even putting up a fight, the actor shrugged his shoulders.
"...I guess I have no choice...but to invite you to stay...with my family...we start training tomorrow..."
The blakout fell ending the scene.
"I am seriously loving this!"
"Shut up Mako."
"What I'm just being-"
Korra's outburst caused Asami to frown and she placed a hand onto her girlfriend's shoulder.
"Take it easy hun, remember this is just for fun."
The Avatar sighed and rested her head onto the taller girl's shoulder.
"I know, but none of this is how anything happened! I had to BEG Tenzin to allow me to stay in the City, and I don't dress anything like that!"
"Well we know what the truth is, and thats all that matters okay? Just try to relax."
Back on stage, 'Korra' was now in a large orange baggy sort of mess that(thankfully, covered more than enough skin).
The teens guessed this was suppose to be a replica of her air temple outfit and sighed. As far as she was concerned nothing of any interest should be happening until the FireFerret fiasco.
And without surprise Korra found herself being correct yet again.
Watching in boredom for 20 minutes as her double failing to be the leaf, not being able to convice Tenzin on allowing her to explore the City, and get caught in the bending arena, Korra finally became interested again.
"Guys! This is it! This is my part!"
Giggling like mad, the earthbender pressed his entire upper body over the railing of the box and waited for his shinning moment.
Fumbling onto the stage like a newborn OstrichHorse, a very lanky looking boy dressed in a probending uniform came into the spot light.
Now it was Korra's turn to laugh.
"It's all right! The little lady here is with me."
The Avatar's laughter ended at the booming voice coming from the small kid. He sounded like a 30 year old body builder while looking like a 14 year old loser.
The real Bolin gave a happy fist pump at the plot twist and whispered 'yes!'.
Back in the play, the earthbending actor lied and managed to get the fake Korra out of trouble before introduced himself as the 'pro Bo', trying to act suave.
This caused some chuckles from the crowd below while the real gang up in the box rolled their eyes.
"So you wanna see how real bending is done cutie?"
"Oh My Spirits of course I do!"
A man in black ran out to throw down a bench. Supposedly switching the scene from gym-to warm up space.
Pointing off stage, 'Bolin' smirked.
"See there is the stage where the magic happens, and in here is where I usually let my special guest stay to watch the match. Do you maybe wanna-"
"Of course I do! I'll be your personal cheerleader!"
Real Korra retuned to banging her head down against the railing of her seat.
A booming echo sounded from off stage and soon an EXTREMELY spiky haired man walked out.
He too was wearing the uniform of a probender, but the gut hanging out midway through caused the entire audience to burst out into laughter.
"I LOOK NOTHING LIKE THAT!"
Mako was suddenly no longer amused and became pissed. As far as his friends were concerned, this had to be the best part of the entire show so far.
And it had barely been 30 minutes in yet.
"Bolin! How dare you ruin the sanctity of this sacred space! No fan girls allowed here!"
Stepping back like she had been personally victimized, the on stage Avatar began to dramatically sob. Causing the Bolin double to yell.
"Hey bro of mine that isn't cool to make a girl cry like that! You can clearly see how sensitive she is!"
"What do I care! Ever since we were kids and I raised you, I have had no sense of joy!"
"So true! I apologize brother."
The fake brothers nodded in agreement, before 'Mako' moved to go off stage.
'Bolin' sighed and patted the Korra girl on the back.
"He means well, but becase we are both former street orphans you will have to forgive him for being so morbid."
Immediately cheering up, 'Korra' smiled.
"No problem! I can totally forgive him because he is super cute! His possibly violent and aggressive personality traits are what girls like me find sexy!"
Now there were two angry looking teens on the upper level. Save for Asami and Bolin who looked like they were high on laughing gas.
"Spirits, I should be scared, but I can't wait to see who the hell is playing me in this."
Korra nodded out of her fury, and playfully shoved her girlfriend.
"Don't expect me to go easy on you. If they are anything like these guys on stage now, I'm not holding back on the mocking."
"I look forward to your cruelty. It's 'sexy'."
Meanwhile in the play, the two bending brothers came back onto the scene arguing about their teammate who almost cost them the match.
The earthbender immediately left the conversation though and ran to 'Korra's' side.
"So pretty great show huh? Enjoy watching these guns in action? POW POW POW!"
Putting her hands on her hips, the fake Avatar nodded and smiled.
"You betcha I sure did! Especially you Mr. Dark and Mysterious, that awesome thingy you did with the flip was too hot to handle!"
"HOW DARE YOU STILL BE IN MY SANCTUM!"
Brushing off the shout, fake Korra waved her hand lazily.
"Okay Mr. Grumpy, Never mind! But hey Bo the Pro-"
Laughter from the audience again. Did they seriously find the joke THAT funny?!
"You think you could show me some earth pro fighting stuff? It looks super duper fun!"
The fake Bolin pretended to consider the offer.
"Well I don't know, I mean you are dressed as a waterbender and I'm all about the rocks and soil."
"Oh that's okay cause I'm not just a waterbender! I'm also a fire and earth and almost airbender!"
Both brothers gasped dramatically as they fell onto their knees. Bowing before the winking girl like she was a goddess.
"YOU ARE NOW MORE LIKABLE FOR YOU WORLD RENOWN STAUTUS!"
'Mako' jumped to his feet and kissed the hand of the giggling ditz.
As the scene ended.
Two sets of red hand marks scarred each of the upper occupants foreheads, save for Asami and Bolin who had taken to just trying their best not allow the tears of mirth cloud their vision.
The lights relit to the same arena scene, only instead of groveling at the Avatar's feet, the brothers were sitting on the bench looking like sad puppies.
'Korra' came bouncing onto the set.
"Hey guys! I haven't seen you in days! Tenzin is super mad at me for doing so badly in airbending today and I had to sneak out because of all my high security guards blocking every entrance of the island. But besides my stuff how ya doing?"
"Not so good Ms. Avatar! Me and Mako can't win the money we need from this match because our waterbending guy quit."
The firebending actor stood while dramatically holding his hand up towards the sky.
"He has disgraced us all and we shall never keep our home now!"
"Well what if I do it?"
The fake Mako chuckled and crossed his arms.
"Korra please! You have no actual training, you barely understand the professional rules, you have never had to fight in this style, and you know none of our rehearsed routines!"
"But I'm the only other choice you have."
"Very true...okay! Put on that man's uniform and join us in bringing fame to the FireFerret's name!"
Real Mako covered his face with his hands.
"I don't talk like that..."
"I don't know, I think they have you pegged pretty well."
"Shut up Bolin!"
The earthbender shrugged his shoulders and patted his brother in a failing to be comforting manner.
"Lighten up, you and Korra take this stuff too personally!"
"You're only saying that because you actually LIKE your actor! Mine is making me out to be some sadistic jerk who only cares about winning matches and hates fun!"
No one in the box said a word. Not. A. Single. Word.
"...I hate you guys sometimes. I'm going to get some fire flakes."
Korra whispered out hastily at firebender's retreating form.
"BRING ME BACK SOME FIRE GUMMIES PLEASE!"
By the time Mako had returned with the food, yet another scene had ended and the blackout had fallen.
"What'd I miss?"
Reaching around to hand the gummies off to Korra, Mako listened patiently as Bolin counted off of his hand.
"Well so far, Tenzin allowed Korra to probend, we met Tarrlok who is being portrayed by a dreads wearing hippie guy who sounds high, I asked Korra out on a date where we met Tahno who by the way is actually being played by the real Tahno! Crazy right?"
"Not really I mean when we offered to have his bending restored he said he didn't want it because of 'new life goals'. He probably was talking about acting."
Nodding in agreement, Bolin turned to see the actual Avatar trying to feed her girlfriend a gummy platypusbear.
They were too cute sometimes.
The lights came back on with a flourish, as busy street sounds began to flood through the auditorium.
A smugged up and beat looking 'Mako' tiredly walked across the stage.
"DAMN YOU CURSABLE JOB! It sure is hard supporting me and my brother. Who knew bending lightning for 12 straight hours could leave a man so tired!"
Korra leaned over whispering to her friends.
"Is it just me or do they keep putting in long winded and unnecessary information?"
Asami swatted her girlfriend lightly.
"Shhh I think this might be where I come in!"
The fake Mako quickened his pace and spun on a heel to run to the other end of the stage.
"Oh no! The trolly! If I miss that no one will be home in time to feed my helpless little bro!"
"I am NOT helpless!"
"I thought you didn't like this?"
"That was before my character actually got depth..."
'Mako' was just about to reach the left side of the set when suddenly another actor ran onto the stage covered with a cardboard cut out of a scooter and collided with him.
Having fallen onto his back pitifully, the girl in the scooter prop moved to exit her vehicle.
"Oh spirits! I didn't see you!"
"How dare you run into me and cripple my manliness in such a way! I have half a mind to fire swirl you into the next world!"
The girl playing Asami moved to help the firebender up, completely ignoring his outrage.
"You don't look too beat up. If anything I think my scooter took in most of the hit!"
Besides her pale skin and extremely curly hair(like annie level crazy), she didn't seem TOO bad. She was around the right hight and had a slim enough figure to compliment the real heiress.
Besides the mane surrounding her head, the only thing that seemed to stand out was how much fur and animal skins the girl was wearing.
The giant white boa around her neck would blind the real Asami if she was ever fighting or driving, but she supposed this was how they were showing she was wealthy? Maybe.
It didn't bother her in the slightest, but she still eyed her double carefully.
"I don't like this...nothing is immediately wrong yet."
Korra snickered along with Bolin, while Mako continued to mumble about how 'that isn't even what happened'.
"Babe I'm loving the new hairstyle!"
"Can you sing the sun will come out tomorrow for me?"
"...at least I'm not a cheer-crazed fan girl."
That immediately shut the Avatar up, but her smile remained. She could feel herself preparing to enact revenge on her girlfriend for mocking her earlier.
For now though she'd wait.
The actors on stage continued to brush themselves off, but what struck the actual group as odd was how there was basically no chemistry going on. It was so unlike the actual first time the duo met.
But then again everything in this shit show seemed to be off.
"I accept your apology for running into me with your highly expensive scooter, but I am still troubled. My pride has had serious damage done to it."
"Again I am so sorry for knocking into you, Mako."
Gasping the male actor got into a fighting stance.
"HOW do you know my name! Are you a spy!"
'Asami' smiled and reached into a very expensive looking purse to pull out a card.
"I am no spy, but I recognize you from probending matches! You're really quite talented. So please allow me to give you this card for a free meal at any Republic City restaurant of your choosing."
The real heiress narrowed her eyes and looked across her seat to see Mako had a similar expression on his face.
"What so the date never happened?"
"I guess not. They are making us seem so antisocial together."
The Sato girl shrugged her shoulders and noticed that 'Asami' was speaking of her father.
"Yes I am quite serious! Any restaurant even the most expensive one in the city! I am daughter of the man who owns Future Industries! This is the least I can do for someone of such different status."
Fake Mako nodded and happily snatched the card, before bowing.
"I do so hate to bother such a wealthy woman, but I must beg of you Ms. Sato! My brother and I desperately need someone to fund our team! I can assure you with the honor of my future wife we can win and repay you!"
The firebender in the box seat accidentally charred his arm rest. Clenching his teeth painfully with how badly his actor double was making him want to punch a wall.
To the audience he really did look like an ass now.
Fake Asami sighed, before folding her arms across her chest.
"Why must everyone ask of me for favor?! Oh well I am well off enough money wise, mine as well share it...but if I may so ask, what is the name of your possible wife?"
"Avatar Korra of course!"
EVERYONE in the upper enclosed seating choked. Some on food others just on air, but all four did in fact have their hearts stop.
Mako was the first to recover.
"WHAT THE HELL! Now I look like a jerk and a psychotic possessive stalker! They made me treat her like shit in the probending arena and now suddenly she's my fiancé?! Wait-we weren't even dating yet!"
"Uh bro I think if anyone is gonna win the crazy possesive thing it's Asami..."
Looking over at his friends, Mako gulped at the glare the Sato girl was giving him. Along with the petrified look on Korra's face, and the tight frown marring both of their features he could feel his anger turn to ice cold fear.
"That isn't-I never said- I!"
"B-babe you know that isn't what happened!"
"I swear he NEVER called me his future wife! And for the week we were dating nothing about marriage even came up! For spirits sake he dated you for two months more!"
The real Asami did actually remember that.
She recalled how hard it had been on her to see her ex boyfriend date the girl she had been crushing on ever since their break up.
She also knew that she was getting angry over nothing.
"You're right...you're right I'm okay."
Pecking her girlfriend on the lips, the heiress smiled at the warmth in her heart.
Relaxing as he noticed the hate leave Asami's eyes, Mako suggested that they all try to continue to watch the show. Less there be anymore drama.
Luckily they all had only just missed the part of Hiroshi Sato agreeing to sponsor the FireFerrets. Before the scene could black out though, a happy 'Mako' shook the hand of the obese grey haired man with a crooked mustache glued on his face.
And when they say obese they mean it. This man made the out of shape firebender actor look thin.
The next phase of the play showed a bored looking airbending family receive word of the gala being held in 'Korra's' honor. There was a short overly detailed explanation of who Tarrlok was again and how he had been trying to get the Avatar to join his task force. Blah blah blah.
Just like in real life though, stage Korra was also reluctant to join.
The boring scene of the explanations finally lead up to the night of the Gala, and the actress Avatar looked excited as hell. Bouncing around the stage in her too tight blue dress an stripper heels.
"Have fun Tenzarino! I'm gonna go find some super cute guys!"
Immediately as she spoke, the family of 5 left off one side of the stage as fake Mako, Bolin, Asami, and Hiroshi came on.
"Oh my goodie goodness! Mako you stud did you sneak in here? You know I gotta thing for bad boys."
Flirting with a playful wink, the real Korra tried not to wince at the strength her girlfriend used to clamp onto her hand.
"AH! Korra it is so good to see you! This is Asami and Hiroshi Sato. They have agreed to honor all of our prides by sponsoring us for the championship! WE SHALL REIGN VICTORIOUS AND I SHALL WIN YOUR HEART!"
Coughing slightly, the fake firebender brought down his voice and heaved slightly, his portly belly causing him to become winded.
But after only a second of dramatic air intake, he casually looked at his nails like the little outburst hadn't happened at all.
"I mean...what's up?"
Bolin nudged his brother from across his seat.
"So are you like Bipolar here or..."
"I don't know any more..."
Fake Asami smiled and moved to shake Korra's hand. Claiming that they would be the best of friends.
The real couple up in the box had to laugh at the irony of the situation. Vividly remembering their first meeting being no where nearly as smooth as that.
Suddenly a big group entered onto the opposite side of the stage and the stoner like Tarrlok came on again.
"There she is mon! That be the Avatar who be refusing to help me bring down Amon! He a bad man, so Korra why you ain't helping a brother out?"
The accent was as thick as the man who had portrayed Korra's father, but instead of country, it was almost purely Jamacian.
'Korra' crossed her arms and cocked out one hip towards the dread headed man.
"Now look here Mister! I am the Avatar and I need to practice on my airbending and probending! So I can't join your task force thingy!"
"If ya don't mon then da city will be falling into chaos!"
"Oh well I can't have that! Okie dokie I guess Im your newest deputy!"
The scene ended with the fake Avatar giving the crowd a thumbs up.
The rest of the events that unfolded were mostly touch and go. There was Amon (played by a tall man in a phantom of the opera mask) stealing Lightning Bolt Zolt's bending, there was Tahno being stripped of his bending, there was Amon meeting Korra on Avatar island and almost taking her bending, Lin sacrificing herself to lose her bending...
Basically just a lot of unneeded repetition.
The only other exciting thing that had transpired over the hour was Hiroshi being convicted as an aid to the Equalist movement and 'Asami' choosing team Avatar over her own dad.
Which had just been an overly dramatized version of the actual event with Mr. Sato yelling 'BETRAYAL' and running off stage.
Asami allowed a yawn to escape her lips as she leaned over to whisper in Korra's ear.
"Is it just me or does this whole thing just keep showing the same thing over and over again? I think I've lost count over people have reenacted being equalized..."
"I agree. They are also making a lot of mistakes. They didn't show the WolfBats cheating during the tournament. Or the scene where me and you went driving and then started dating! I mean really why are they pushing so hard for you and Bolin to be together?"
Shrugging, the heiress had to agree that it was odd how much Bolin and the Asami actress seemed to like each other.
But then again she shouldn't even pretend to be surprised about anything here anymore. The script writers had probably just mistaken the two's friendly nature.
On set Avatar Korra was talking to a group of nonbenders. Once again dressed in her stupidly revealing clothing.
"Save us! We are people too!"
"This is not fair! We deserve to have heat and lighting!"
"Please Ms. Avatar! You must help us!"
"Of course I will! Me and my team have this whole thing under control-"
'Tarrlok' ran onto the scene and sprayed blue silly string everywhere while 'police force' men came on and threw around styrofoam rocks.
"Hey! You can't just water and earthbend these innocent people! They can't defend themselves!"
"I am a councilman mon! My rights be havin no restraint! I am da law and I got da freedom to do whatever I want! In fact your very wealthy friend over dere, if I be recalling right her father is a member of the Equalist! She be evil too!"
Dropping his can off stage, the actor turned on his heel and moved to throw blue streamers at 'Asami'.
"Hey let me go this is silk!"
"You can't waterbend my bestie for life! Let her go!"
It was the heiress's upstairs turn to pound her head down against the box railing.
"Ay mon, she and your friends be breaking da laws! Imma take dem into prison too, you send a real adult to come get dem tomorrow!
Walking off stage with the other actors, 'Korra' took on a dramatic stance with her fist held high.
"I will avenge them I swear it! I can totally just go talk to Tarrlok in his office back in the city! Dontcha worry Mako, Asami, and Bo nothing can go wrong!"
Rushing off stage the scene blacked out and the audience cheered.
Now the backdrop was the grey wall again, like it had been from the interrogation room.
Tarrlok was sitting at the same table from before, only this time with a bunch of papers scattered everywhere. Trying to show that the room was now his workspace.
This truly was a low budget production.
Suddenly storming onto the stage, the actress Korra held her hands on her hips.
"Tarrlok let my friends go!"
"What is dis? I told ya just to get them released tomorrow by a real adult!"
"Well I am impulsive and hardheaded so I demand that you release them now!"
Asami, Mako, and Bolin cracked up for the first time since the beginning of the play.
Korra glared daggers at the stage below and imagined how she was going to knock some sense into the director of this travesty.
Meanwhile on set, 'Tarrlok' was right in the middle of throwing his chair back and starting an engaging streamer fight off with the Avatar actress.
"I have had just about enough of ya ruining me plans! Get out of me office before I waterbend ya to hell!"
After about ten seconds of useless fighting, fake rocks began to hail from the upper ceiling, and onto the councilman.
"Give it up Tarrlok! I clearly have the capability of defeating you with these three awesome bending moves-ohhh woahhhh but wait!"
Suddenly holding his hands up without any form of 'bending' the male actor moved towards the fake Avatar.
Groaning, the teen actress clutched onto her head and began spasming on the ground.
"My blood! OW! My blood I can't control my body! You're hurting me owwwwie!"
"Yes mon, you have gone an foiled my secret. I be a bloodbender and now I gotta take you hostage..."
Pretending to control the girl like a puppet, 'Korra' was lead off stage.
The crowd was whispering excitedly to one another, but Mako was curious.
"Is that actually what happened that night?"
"Pretty much, I didn't yell 'my blood my blood!' and have a seizure on the ground."
Satisfied with the answer, the group returned to the show.
The scene was back to the blank room, and the doubles of Tarrlok and Tenzin were on stage.
The councilman was clutching onto his arm as though he were in pain.
The airbending actor was as pole straight as ever, and observing the 'wreckage' (the two chairs from before were turned on their side) carefully.
"My spirits...what happened...here?"
"Ay I done been attacked last night! Lin still wasn't feeling good after havin her bending taken so I decided to call upon you mon to investigate."
"This is terrible...where...is Korra?"
Feigning to become overcome by emotion, 'Tarrlok' fell to his knees and wept.
"I tried to stop dem but da equalist just came outta no where! Dey gone ahead and kidnapped the Avatar!"
Blinking once, the airbending double turned to walk off stage.
"I must go...find her friends...they can help me...find her..."
Once the orange and yellow robe wearing man was gone, the bloodbender began to laugh like a sociopath.
"MY PLAN BE TURNING OUT PERFECTLY! Dey will never know it be me who is holding da Avatar captive in my winter lodge North of da city! MWAHAHAHAHA!"
The scene fell into darkness as the audience booed. For once Korra found herself agreeing with the people below her.
"Boooooo! You suck Tarrlok!"
The heiress didn't have the heart to remind her that this actor wasn't real. Considering she had experienced a similar outburst earlier during her 'father's' betrayal.
The lights reignited and the following scenes once again showed off nothing too significant.
The Krew headed off to infiltrate the Equalist headquarters only to not find the Avatar.
Korra connected to her past and saw Yakon have his bloodbending taken away.
And finally another climaxing moment arrived as Tarrlok was confronted.
The group of Tenzin, Lin, Asami, Mako, and Bolin were all gathered in the grey office office.
Speaking all at once over how to deal with the traitorous councilman.
"I say we torture him!"
"Lin we can't...perhaps connecting him with...his more spiritual self...will-"
"HE STOLE MY PRIDE AND JOY! HE HAS NO HOPE OF SPIRITUAL CONNECTION! He shall know the pain of redemption when my fire fist meets his face!"
"Bro, calm down! I say we just confront him."
"I agree with Bolin! He's always right and NO ONE that dreamy could ever be wrong!"
Everyone onstage stared intently at the actress, and everyone in the box stared oddly at the real Asami.
"...I don't...I don't even wanna know..."
The pale girl patted her girlfriend on the shoulder and watched as 'Tarrlok' entered the scene.
Rushing over to pull the councilman into an aggressive hold, fake Mako began to shake the Jamaican man like a rag doll.
"What do ya think you be doing?! This is me best suit!"
"It's over you! We know you lied about the whereabouts of my future wife! RELEASE HER OR I WILL-...AHK?! M-my blood!"
Suddenly falling backwards, 'Mako' along with everyone else on stage fell onto their sides and began to spasm before going still. A gasp rang throughout the audience until the actor unnecessarily shouted about how he hadn't wanted to knock them out, but they forced him.
The scene fell to black.
Again the grey backdrop remained, but this time there was a caged 'Korra' dead center. Who immediately stood and shouted at 'Tarrlok' as he came on.
"Hey you big jerk! It's been a whole day now! I connected with my past buddies and they showed me that you are Yakon's son! So the secret is totally out!"
The man moved back as though struck and sighed.
"It be true...I was the former criminal's son, but unlike me dumb father, I had worked me tail off tryin to rule da city as a councilman! But you gone and ruined everything. So now...now I will be keeping ya as me prisoner!"
A man in black ran to move the little prison cell off stage as the actor who remained pretended to walk in place. Simulating moving as the 'Avatar's' cries faded away.
But suddenly the lights overhead flickered and almost magically, the Amon character appeared on set.
His tall stature gave him a good deal of height over the rest of the cast, but Korra couldn't help the shiver that ran down her spine over how eerily the man spoke and appeared.
Everything about him just reminded her of the real Amon, but the voice and visible skin showing past his phantom mask told her it was not the same guy.
"Representative of the North, I am here to equalize you."
"YOU FOOL! I am a bloodbender I can easily-AKK!"
The actor slid across the stage as quick as lightning, and with a flash he had the other actor on his back.
Ignoring the cry of agony that passed the councilman's lips as his bending was taken.
"I am no monster Tarrlok...I am the solution."
The blackout fell.
"...that was...oddly accurate compared to what happened."
The rest of the group looked at Korra as she continued to stare blankly down at the stage. As though she were reliving the horrors of that night.
"It says here in the playbill that the director of the show had interviewed former Equalist members in jail. Huh weird how they can get this information right but nothing else."
Everyone nodded in agreement to Bolin before directing their attention back to the stage.
The city street's came back into view as the Krew seemed to wander about in hopes of spotting 'Korra'.
Well the Mako actor was looking. Asami and the earthbender were practically Eye-Humping each other and continued to bump noses and blow kisses.
Before anyone could say something though, the fake Avatar came rushing onto the scene on top of her Naga prop.
"MY LOVE YOU ARE HERE!"
The fake Mako ran to hug the other girl.
"You betcha hot buns I am! It was like super crazy, Amon came and took out Tarrlok! And then I managed to escape and at the very bottom of the mountain Naga here found me!"
"Oh thank goodness you are safe my dear! Thank the spirits above!"
A sudden blackout ended the scene as the entire auditorium began to awkwardly clap. Not sure of how to react.
"That was kinda...short?"
Asami noticed that her friends took note of the pointless moment, but no one wanted to comment.
Back on stage, the group of four was back on Air Temple Island. They had been discussing something about a battle plan until an EXTREMELY attractive young man came on.
"Hello there, my name is General Iroh. I received word that the Avatar was in need of help from the United Forces?"
This gentleman had black slicked hair and a tan skin that complimented him greatly. Along with his hight and tone of voice, he made the pipsqueak Bolin and pudgy Mako actors look pathetic.
Jumping like a school girl, 'Korra' ran up excitedly.
"Eeekkkk! It's so good to see you Iroh! You got so handsome since the last time we talked in the South Pole!"
"It is good to see you too my old friend! Say Korra could you explain to me- GREAT AANG IN HEAVEN!"
Rushing around the actress and pushing aside the fake bending brothers, 'Iroh' fell to one knee and grabbed the surprised looking curly haired woman's hand.
"From the spirits above how could my military trained eyes not see such a beauty as great as you? What is your name goddess of leather jackets?"
"Oh hi! I'm Asami Sato!"
"Asami...if it is the last thing I shall do, I will make you mine!"
Marching over to yank up the taller man, 'Bolin' threateningly put a finger up to the General's chest.
"Hey dude that is my girl!"
"You are mistaken. While you're muscles are impressive in size, Ms. Sato is mine!"
The two actors began to bicker while the real Asami found herself giggling at how the men had to pretend that the scrawny earthbender on stage actually stood a chance against the other man. One punch and that kid was down for the count.
However her expression became creased in worry when she saw that Korra looked upset beside her.
Standing as the next part of the story came into play, the actual Avatar moved to exit the box.
Of course the heiress was quick to follow.
"Hey? Hey! Korra! Hun, slow down what's wrong?"
The water tribe girl turned to her girlfriend with barely controlled anger igniting inside her cerulean eyes.
"I can't take this! I can't! They are making Mako look like my fricken white knight out there and your girl is suddenly getting caught up in some love triangle?! How is any of this fair to our relationship?! It was YOU that ran to help me after I escaped Tarrlok, it was YOU that held me when I almost had my bending taken, it is YOU! You're my girlfriend!"
Understanding flooded into the pale girl's head as she gently pried away Korra's crossed arms. Kissing the small girl's forehead and bringing her into a hug.
"Listen to me okay? How long ago did we fight Amon?"
"About two years ago but-"
"And how long have we been dating?"
"Two years I know that-"
Shaking her head the pale girl silenced her girlfriend.
"No you are missing my point. We both knew dating each other wouldn't be easy. We knew there were going to be complications. No matter how much time passes, not everyone is going to always be okay with us! Much less have an entire show about two gay girl."
"No buts! This isn't something a lot of people are going to always support. Especially when it's based off of an older version of Avatar Aang's adventures. Do you know how badly people who witnessed the original screening of this production would freak out over lesbians? Especially narrow minded parents of young children?"
Frowning slightly, Korra nizzeled her head into the crook of the heiress's neck.
"There is nothing wrong with us..."
"Of course there isn't. I know that. You know that. And so do lots of other people. We have tons of support in the world Korra, but just not enough to get the directors and old fashioned fans onboard. Take a deep breathe and relax okay? I love you and that's all that matters."
Finally allowing her tears to fall, the Avatar hugged Asami tightly, recuperating the comforting gesture. While trying to force the emotions that had gotten into her head to calm themseles.
"Now come on. We've been out here too long."
"Oh gee you're right Ms. Sato! However will we know how the show ends?!"
Slapping Korra lightly upside the head, the two rejoined their hands an went back into their box seating.
The second the two sat again, Bolin moved over to whisper over the noise on stage.
"Great you guys are here! Okay so Iroh and me agreed not to fight over Asami and she ran away screaming that it was too hard to pick one man. And oh! The Equalist invaded Air Temple Island and Lin had to help Pema have her baby while the kids fought off the intruders, they didn't even smile once creepy right? Okay and we were underground with the hobo guy from the park and planned our attack. And right now Korra and Mako just found Tarrlok locked up and discovered he and Amon are brothers."
"...what the hell?! We were only gone for like 15 minutes!"
"Crazy right? It's like they are trying to fit in so much drama in such little time."
The two girls sighed and directed their attention back to the stage.
Where the now bendingless councilman was giving a flashback type of overhead. Narrating from the side shadows as child actors and a large man moved through the words spoken.
"Yakon me father had a lot of surgery done and moved to the North. There he had met me mother and had two kids, my older brother Noahtok who is really Amon."
The two kids ran around the stage, laughing and shoving each other good naturally.
"But da time came where it be discovered that me and me brother were waterbenders. When Me dad found out he took us away on hunting trips where he begun to teach us da art of blood bending."
A man in black came out with a PolarbearCow suit on, and began to spasm on the floor when 'Noahtok' moved to control him.
"Me brother was a natural but my father thought I was weak. After years of training and advancing, he forced us to bloodbend each other."
The two kids ran off stage, as two teens wearing similar clothing ran on to reenact the older brother forcing Tarrlok to his knees without so much as a glance.
"I refused to bloodbend me brother, but before Yakon could hurt me for disobeying, Noahtok stood up to him. Knocking da crazy man out long enough to flee away into da winter air. Eventually me father passed away leaving me an me mother to live alone."
The two teens followed each word of the narration perfectly until the end, where the full stage lights relit and the fake Tarrlok man was once again shown in his cell. Explaining his life story to 'Mako' and 'Korra'.
"I grew up to become da councilman of the North, thinking I'd never see me brother again. But the night I done lost me bending I felt the same pain I had experienced so many years ago. I just knew dat Amon was Noahtok!"
Sobbing like a child, the Korra actress hugged the fire bending boy next to her and wailed much like the Katara double had earlier.
"That is totally the saddest story ever! We will tots avenge you now Tarrlok and forgive you for all the pain and suffering you caused! Noah-whats his face is going down!"
The lights blacked out as the now emotional applause of the entire auditorium(Bolin included) weeped for the tale of sorrow.
Korra mumble that she actually hadn't forgiven the councilman but had in deed pitied him.
The next few minutes contained Asami fighting off her father, and rushing into Bolin's arms after saving her from almost being crushed. Then Iroh fought off a group of Equalist planes which was really just men in black running across the stage with toys as the actor gave a narration over head.
Finally the scene of the airbenders being freed from Amon(who proved to the world that his face had in fact been burned by a bender thus leading to his quest for world peace) lead up to the last ten minutes of the show.
Korra had her bending taken away and Mako electrocuting the Masked Man within seconds. Suddenly the entire Krew found themselves excited.
Knowing that the ending to come was actually worth enjoying.
The actor Mako lifted up the skimpily dressed Avatar, before rushing in place to show the crowd that he is suppose to be running away.
"MY LOVE HE HAS STOLEN YOUR BENDING! But no matter my pride tells me that I love you just as much as I would-AHK! My blood!"
Falling to his knees, and allowing 'Korra' to roll a few feet away, Amon walked slowly back onto the stage and pretended to force the firebender to submit in a twisted position.
"You may have fooled me once, but not even someone as clever as you deserves to remain a bender."
Right as the Noahtok's hand was about to strip the chubby boy of his bending, 'Korra' suddenly stood up while a man in black came up behind her holding an industrial fan.
'Amon' fell backwards and began to falter as the fake Avatar continued to assault him with white streamers and visible air from the prop man.
"This is impossible! How can you still bend! I took your gift away!"
"I don't know! Technically I shouldn't be able to control any element, but I'm totally not gonna question this awesome stroke of luck!"
With a final push the male actor moved completely off stage with a shout. As groups of chorus members came on. Pointing and describing what the audience couldn't see.
"Look our leader has fallen into the water!"
"No wait a large water twister has resurfaced him!"
"His scar is falling off?! He was never hurt it was simply red makeup!"
"The Avatar was right! He is a bloodbending psycho!"
The scene ended with a cheer as 'Korra' fell into 'Mako's' arms. Whispering dramatically that the nightmare was over.
Some folks on the bottom level began to stand to applaud the ending of the show, but the group up stairs knew there was more to be seen.
Instead of the entire group being shown down in the South Pole though, everyone was stunned to see 'Amon' walking towards the Tarrlok double's cell.
"I don't remember any of this happening?"
"This must be from the interviews the director took with the Equalist?"
"But, Bo how could they have known any of this happen-"
Sheepishly apologizing to the suddenly attentive Avatar, the rest of the group watched on in curiosity as the two blood bending brothers agreed to escape together. Ending up on a boat with a completely blue and white wave background behind them.
"Look Tarrlok! We are finally free at last! How I have missed you brother!"
"Ay I done missed you as well Noahtok..."
Unknown to 'Amon' who was steering their ship, the former councilman had decided to poor the gasoline of the engine everywhere and grabbed an Equalist electro glove out of seemingly no where.
"Don't you be worrying about our future brother...it will be just like da good ole days..."
The lights blacked out and a large explosion sound effect sounded.
Bolin, Korra, and Asami's jaws were to the floor.
"Did they both just...die?"
Mako tapped his chin.
"You know it was really unclear."
Suddenly in the South Pole, 'Korra' was alone sitting dead center of the stage with her knees pulled up to her chest.
"Master Katara couldn't save my bending...what hope is there for the world with an Avatar who can only bend one element? This is totally the worst day ever..."
'Mako' suddenly rushed across the stage, and moved to pull the fake Avatar into a crushing hug.
"My dear I have solved the problems of restoring what you have lost!"
Pulling the actress down into a searing kiss, the lights began to dim as sudden glowing blue paint ignited the backdrop and 'Korra's' eyes.
"AVATAR STATE YIP YIP!"
Throwing around multi colored streamers, a man in black ran onto the set to attach a wire onto the double's back. Allowing the girl to be spun and lifted into the air as though she were floating with her bending.
As the chords of the finale began to start up, the fake Korra returned to the floor and gave the pudgy boy a kiss.
"Now I can restore everyone's bending and save the world again! Thanks to True Love!"
The trumpets sounded an the curtains closed.
Everyone in the bottom level began to cheer and go crazy screaming things like Makorra and Bosami.
One gentleman even going as far as to foam at the mouth and pass out.
Up in the box though, no one spoke. Simply staring wide eyed down at the stage before them.
Trying and failing to erase the past three hours from their heads.
"Well that was-"
"Bolin don't even..."
Korra stood with a sigh and mumbled incoherently about talking to the director.
Before any of them could completely leave their section however, Asami's pale face suddenly turned ghostly white. Freezing on the very back page of the playbill in her hand.
"Guys? Why does this say Book 1 of 3..."
My god I hope you all liked this hot mess an be sure to leave a review!