Chapter One: Christmas Eve
Alchemy is the science of understanding, deconstructing, and reconstructing matter. However, it is not an all-powerful art. It is impossible to create something out of nothing. If one wishes to obtain something, something of equal value must be given. This is the law of equivalent exchange; the basis of all alchemy. In accordance to this law, there is a taboo among alchemists. Human transmutation is strictly forbidden.
For what could equal the value of a human soul?
A tall bald man quickly read-through the report given to him in a brown folder, he quirked an eyebrow. "…the freezing alchemist, hmm, I haven't heard from him in a while," He muttered, lifting his hard-grey eyes up to meet his superior. "Wasn't he the one who left the task force? He went off the grid for a while, but I guess he's back,"
"Yes," A monotone, almost bored, voice said. "He has been giving us some trouble lately. Terrorizing the town by night and breaking into our headquarters. I don't know what he's looking for but I want him stopped, Tenzin."
The general nodded stiffly; watching his fuehrer lean back into his chair at his desk. "I'll be sure to have my best men on the case, as well as myself, fuehrer Sato,"
The fuehrer leaned his chin on his laced fingers, elbows resting on the mahogany table where papers were neatly folded at the corners. "Make sure you bring our bright, young, candidates with you,"
Tenzin's eyebrow twitched slightly, his fake friendly smile quickly twisting into a sneer; he bit his tongue. "…uhm, to be clear fuehrer Sato," He swallowed, hoping it not to be true. "We are talking about—"
"Yes," His superior finished his sentence, blissfully overlooking the bald man's discomfort. "I want you to let Fullmetal in on this case; I think she shows promise; don't you?"
The bald man huffed but kept his expression calm, he nodded stiffly. "…yes, of course, I'll tell her the good news," He shoved the brown folder into his large yellow trench coat, gave a quick salute, before he did a ninety degree turn and made his way for the door.
His medium sized hand barely grazed the knob before his superior spoke. "Tenzin,"
"…yes?" He cautiously glanced back to the menacing man who was now standing with his arms behind his back, a small amused grin on his face.
"Let me know how she does, alright?" The man asked softly.
Tenzin tried to find something in Hiroshi's brown eyes; something that might have been fighting to be freed. "…of course," The airbender said simply, not wanting to dwell on it, and left the office.
Tenzin closed the door softly behind him, letting out a soft sigh as he opened his eyes; a shallow hallway greeted him. One of his airbending teachers, who stopped by his temple weekly to train new students, was leaning on the wall. She was a skinny woman with short black hair, and light green eyes. She was wearing her normal, ketchup red, airbending uniform.
To his left and right, two familiar soldiers were standing guard outside of the fuehrer's door. They made no sign of moment until he took a few steps away from the door; they then moved closer to block it completely.
Tenzin's black combat boots squeaked against the blue tiles as he walked past the woman leaning against the wall. "Opal, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"I take it all is well," The skinny girl said softly, a hint of teasing in her tone of voice.
Tenzin groaned, stalking down the empty halls. "Not now," He rubbed his temples before a frown graced its way upon his face. "Wait, what are you doing here? I thought you were off to train some new students in Republic City with Korra,"
"Please, once Korra found out I was in Ba Sing Se, she demanded I only return with Asami or not at all," The short haired girl said with a chuckle. "Asami has been so busy with these cases, that she hasn't seen Korra, Bolin or Mako in person for a whole year. They write her letters and call her sometimes but it's not the same,"
Tenzin hummed. "Bolin works with Kuvira here, doesn't she at least run into him?"
"You and I both know that Asami is never in one place for long," Opal remarked with a smirk. "But she is going to relax for Christmas if it kills her. I promised Korra I would at least try,"
Tenzin pushed the elevator button, arms crossed as he stared straight ahead. "I'll make sure I speak with Asami once she gets back from this mission," He nodded to her. "You can wait outside for her,"
Opal smiled. "I have something that I have to take care of, but I'll be back in time to greet her,"
"You still didn't answer my question," Tenzin frowned. "What are you doing here? Not in Ba Sing Se, but at fuehrer Sato's military base; how'd they even let you in here?"
Opal shrugged her shoulders. "Let's just say that I'm looking into something that will shed light on things back home, and can also benefit Asami," She waved him off once the elevator arrived. "It's no big deal, I'm keeping out of trouble if that's what you're worried about. I just wanted to ask if you could withhold cases from Asami for a week; just so she can take a break with her friends,"
"…it has been a while since she went back to Republic," Tenzin sighed. "I'll do it, but make sure she's well rested and ready to come back. She can only be gone so long before the fuehrer notices,"
Opal nodded. "Of course," She smiles softly. "I'll have her back before you even notice."
"Great," Tenzin walked inside the elevator and waved slightly. "Happy holidays, Opal."
"You too," Opal said with a grin, watching the metal doors shut slowly.
A piece of white chalk was tossed carelessly across the alley ground once the transmutation circle was complete, the culprit let out a sinister chuckle. "There, now I'm one step closer to finishing my plans…"
"You and I both know that can't happen," A low, husky, voice said from behind him; the older man turned around to see a tall, black-haired, woman looking down at him impassively. "I assume that you're the one who's been giving us trouble back at the base? My boss isn't too happy about it, making everyone work so close to the holidays; so, I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you with me," She took one step closer as she prepared to take him in.
The brown-haired man snickered, standing taller. "Please, a prissy brat like you? They must let anyone in the military now," He slapped his hands together, using the transmutation circle beneath him, and summoned sharp ice shards that were aiming right towards the tall woman.
"Prissy, why does everyone assume I'm prissy," She whispered to herself, and dodged the armature attacks with ease, before slapping her hands together as well. "Is this prissy enough?" Her black hair whipped around wildly as a bright spark of blue light flashed, causing the man to cover his eyes, as the woman sculpted a sharp silver blade attached to her left arm.
Brown eyes widened, he gaped. "Wh-what? No transmutation circle?" He gasped, taking a step forward; intrigued. "You must be the Fullmetal Alchemist I've heard about. The twenty-two-year-old prodigy who mastered alchemy, and enrolled in the military, within months,"
The woman simply rolled her shoulders, and got into a low fighting stance. "I don't want to talk about my private life with scum like you, so, let's get back to the fighting, yes?" She crouched down and gave a quick clap of her hands; immediately after, she placed her palms to the ground.
The criminal alchemist jumped back as another burst of blue sparks began surrounding him. The ground beneath him started shifting and transforming, it felt like an earthquake, as jagged pieces of rock began rising.
He watched with rapt attention as a concrete wall began to circle around him, trying to trap him.
"Ha, you'll have to do better than that sweetheart," He snickered, placing his hands on the transmutation circle to once again to summon a burst of freezing frost towards her "How's that?"
He watched eagerly as the handmade avalanche of sharp ice, and freezing frost, hurled towards the alchemist.
The confident smirk on his face was wiped clean when a large wall greeted him once the fog settled. "Wha—"
During the hazy mist, the black-haired woman had taken the time to conjure up a solid wall to protect herself from the blast. There were concaves formed in the concrete material where the ice had struck her fortress. The sharp shards had almost managed to pierce through her makeshift shield.
"That was too close," She swallowed, taking a step back from the blue shard that was inches away from touching her forehead. "I'm getting rusty, my wall should have been stronger than this," She glanced down at the blade on her arm and smirked, a special glint in her bright green eyes.
With another clap of her hands, she bent down to the ground and slammed her palms on the cobblestone road. The blue light it made was bright, but was dulled by the wall. Her eyebrows narrowed in concentration; lower lip stuck between her teeth.
"A wall? When did she have the time to—" He was too caught up in his thoughts to notice the thick cords of metal slithering from behind him.
It wasn't until the snake like ropes wrapped around his body, did the blue light brighten to its full potential. He quickly lost his balance and he fell on his back. A series of curses and groans left his mouth as he struggled to escape.
"Nice work, kid," A rough voice startled the tall woman; a lady, with greying hair, jumped down from the building above with stealth. "I see you've caught the freezing alchemist. Good thing too, we've been trying to get him for months. He was one of our most trusted guards but then he started drifting away from our cause and began forming his own ideas," The woman was dressed in an all metal suit and had a unique scar, resembling a scratch, on the lower part of her right cheek.
The green-eyed woman crossed her arms, frowning. "Were you ever going to help me out, Lin, or were you just going to watch?" It came out cold but there was a hint of teasing in her voice.
She's known Lin since her first day in the military.
"Asami, you and I both know you can handle anything by yourself, I doubt this situation was any different," Lin walked over to their prisoner. "I was calling for back up while you were fighting, so they should be here any minute to take him in,"
He snarled, glaring up at the women who captured him. "How can you two work for Hiroshi Sato without knowing what his true intentions are? Don't you even care that he's—"
"Save it," Asami nearly snarled, as Lin tightened the metal wires around the criminal. "I could care less about what Hiroshi is doing; it doesn't concern me. My job is to take orders and try to get out in time for personal affairs," Lin watched the younger woman glare down at her left hand angrily.
The freezing alchemist huffed. "…classic dog of the military; following orders blindly and ignorantly,"
"That's enough," Lin snapped back, her need to protect her comrade running high. "Save it for interrogation,"
When the metal ties were strained so tight his upper body began turning purple, the prisoner remained mute.
Asami was glad.
"Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to assist us in capturing this masked menace, Miss Fullmetal," The police officer thanked her, repeatedly shaking Lin's hand as the other officials escorted the criminal into the vehicle. "We've heard so much about you! Not a lot of people know your face, because you travel to so many places to help so many people, but we've heard all of the stories!"
Lin snatched her hand away from the young cadet's grasp; she glanced to the left where Asami was fixing the damage she had made to the alley with her alchemy. "I appreciate the gratitude, but I'm not the one you should be thanking,"
Before Lin could correct herself, Asami emerged from the ally with a heavy sigh. "Well, everything is cleaned up here," She dusted her hands off, quickly snapping on white gloves, before walking in the opposite direction of the officials; she shoved her hands into her red coat pocket. "I'll see you later, Lin, I'm going back to the base to speak with Tenzin," She said over her shoulder.
Lin shook her head, a small grin on her face; this girl was always on the move. "Will I see you back in Republic City any time soon?"
"We'll see," Asami said, no promise in her response, and gave a simple wave of her right hand. "Merry Christmas, Lin,"
The officer waited until Asami was safely in the car before she turned back to the young cadet. "I'll ride back with you, to ensure that this guy stays locked up for good," She nodded her head at the man who was still tied up in the back seat of the black car.
"Yes ma'am," He opened the door for her. "Anything for the fullmetal,"
Lin rolled her eyes, glaring at the younger man. "For the last time. I. Am not. The Fullmetal alchemist,"
"So," His face turned pink as he pointed a sagging finger to where the green-eyed woman once was. "Th-that woman was the—"
Lin nodded. "In the flesh. Now pick up your jaw and let's get this done, I'd like to be back in the city before Christmas. And yes," Lin grinned playfully.
"She has a girlfriend,"
"Come on Korra," A green-eyed teen begged, a pout fresh on his lips as he tried to drag the muscular girl away from the door. "Mako and I want to check out this new restaurant! You know how busy we've been lately. With Mako getting into this police work and me working with Kuvira's task force." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "We might not have the chance to hang out as a group again,"
Korra narrowed her blue eyes in anger, but the sadness could be seen on her face; she bit her lower lip. "…I just—she should be here, and I don't feel right hanging out without her."
Mako stepped in and closed the door to the mechanics operating room, and crossed his arms. "Asami is busy with—"
"I know!" Korra snapped, throwing her arms in the air dramatically, causing the green-eyed boy to let go of her arm and flinch. "She's super busy being a dog of the military…but it's Christmas Eve, they could have at least given her this day off." Her anger resided and the sorrow returned. "I miss her so much. I feel like I haven't seen her in years."
The younger boy hummed. "It's only been eleven months actually—"
"Bo, you're not helping," Mako snarled before placing a comforting hand on his ex-girlfriend's shoulder. "We miss her too Korra, but Asami knew what she was signing up for."
Korra shook her head. "She was only fourteen! We should have stopped her,"
Bolin scratched the back of his neck. "You know how proud Asami is, she hates to admit it, but, she's so stubborn. Even if we wanted to go with her, she wouldn't have let us because she thinks she has to do this on her own."
Korra cast her frown to him, eyes set ablaze. "But she shouldn't have to! We should be helping her—"
"And we will," Mako smiled weakly at the shorter girl, eyebrows narrowed. "But we can't help anyone who doesn't want our help."
The avatar crossed her arms over her water tribe garments, she scoffed. "So, what? We just leave her alone?"
"Yes," Bolin smiled. "We leave her alone until she realizes that she needs us, and when she does we'll be waiting with open arms." He placed an arm around the short haired girl, shaking her playfully. "Now! Let us ride in Mako's fancy new police car, use his sirens to beat traffic, and get a nice fancy table by flashing his badge!"
Mako frowned, following close behind them. "What, no!"
"Party pooper," Bolin groaned, opening the door for Korra. "Have some fun for once,"
The soon to be detective huffed at his younger brother. "I have fun…"
Korra walked over to the car and took a seat in the back. She tuned out as the brothers continued to bicker and argue good naturedly. Her blue eyes remained glued to the window throughout the entire ride.
Piercing green eyes, and hair as black as the night consumed her thoughts for the remainder of the evening.
"Did you take care of the freezing alchemist for me?" Tenzin asked without looking from the paper work on his desk; he knew she had, but asking follow up questions was just protocol.
The woman in her early twenties, plopped down into the comfortable white couch in front of Tenzin's desk. "Yes. It's taken care of. Lin was somehow in town so she escorted him back to the prison," She said as she crossed her legs and rested her chin on her right fist. "…is there anything else that needs to be done?" She asked hopefully.
The older man shook his head and finally looked up, grey eyes boor into green. "Asami, it's Christmas Eve and you're still here." He got right to the point.
She arched a perfectly sculpted brow. "I don't know what you expect me to do Tenzin. I had a job to do and—"
"And you completed the mission like always," He frowned, expression soft. "You should be going home to see your friends, not busying yourself with work to run from whatever is chasing you." His eyes lit up, and he smiled softly. "I know Republic City holds terrible memories from your parents but what about those three who came to visit you last year, hm?" He played dumb, pretending not to know their names.
Even though he'd only met the trio once, they had surely left an impression. Trouble always seemed to arrive whenever those four got together.
But Asami smiled more when they were around; so, Tenzin supposed they were always welcome.
Asami starred at the ground beneath her at the mention of her childhood friends. "They're still in the city," She summed up weakly, not even completely sure of their locations.
Goodness, she was the worst friend ever.
Tenzin grinned. "The holidays are a great time to catch up. What were their names, again? Mako, Bolin and the one girl who my children love? What's her name again," He scratched his chin in fake concentration.
"…K-Korra, sir," Asami said with some trepidation.
The name itself was enough to bring butterflies to her stomach.
Tenzin nodded with a snap of his fingers. "Ah, yes. You two are dating, right?" He failed to notice the bright blush on the woman's face. "There is still one more train leaving for Republic City tonight and you might just be able to make it to the city around ten if you leave now. Go, you're done for the week," He stood up and pulled her off the couch, dragging her out of the room.
Asami stuttered at the suddenness of it all. "B-but—"
"No buts. You are to do nothing but relax this whole week, and that's an order!" Tenzin shoved her out of the door. "If you don't go to the city then you should at least stop by for dinner at my house, the kids have been asking about you and Pema doesn't mind the extra mouth to feed."
The green-eyed girl looked away. "Are you sure there isn't a case I could look into for you? A lot of crazy things happen around here this time of year."
"Asami, go home to your friends and get some rest. Whatever you're searching for can be found next week when you return, I can promise you that it isn't going anywhere." Tenzin softened his eyes, looking past the makeup to see how tired the woman was. "Go and see that girlfriend of yours," He winked.
Asami gaped as the door was shut in her face, she huffed; resisting the urge to stump her foot like a child. "She's not my girlfriend," She argued weakly.
"She totally is," Opal said teasingly from where she was leaning against the wall, arms crossed. "You could barely pull away from her hug the last time she left. But I have to give it to you, you guys make long distance seem easy."
The alchemist snarled, turned on her heels and headed towards the elevator. "What are you doing here, Opal? I thought you'd already be in Republic by now to see Bo,"
Opal and Bolin had been dating for about a year and a half now. They weren't always in the same place; with Bolin working with Kuvira and Opal helping with the airbenders with Tenzin. They didn't see each other daily but somehow, they made their relationship work.
"I had some work to finish," Opal said, walking beside the woman, and pressing the down button once they reached the metal door. "I actually found something that might interest you and your, search."
Green eyes flashed curiously, she glanced over at her comrade. "What did you find?"
"Oh no," Opal latched onto the older woman's right arm and dragged her inside the open elevator. "Tenzin specifically said that you are ordered to relax for the whole week! So, you aren't getting any information from me until you get home, see your friends, make-out with your girlfriend,"
Asami frowned. "She's not—"
"…eat food, open presents and kick your feet up to relax. Until you do that, then I won't be giving you anything," Opal grinned.
The long-black-haired woman huffed. "I'd rather spend my time trying to find a way to undo my mistakes."
Opal's expression softened, she squeezed her friends arm firmly. "You won't be able to do that if you don't take a break every now and then. And if you keep ignoring your friends, when you get your arm back, you won't have any friends to return to." She nudged her playfully. "Or a girlfriend whose been patiently waiting for you since you left for the military."
"That long?" Asami couldn't help but gasp. "B-but she was like eleven and I was fourteen!" She frowned. "And didn't she and Mako have a thing before?" She wasn't jealous, just curious.
And a little jealous.
"That lasted what, a week? They couldn't stop arguing, at least that's what Bo told me. And they got together a little while after you left; she was vulnerable," Opal stuck her tongue out. "You've been too wrapped up in your fancy sparkling alchemy and working in your garage to notice anything. But listen to me," Her eyes narrowed. "You may be like a best-friend to me, but Korra's like a sister I always wanted. Stop hurting her, she's only trying to help. We all are."
Asami sulked, biting her lower lip anxiously. "I didn't mean to hurt her,"
"Then prove it," Opal said, as if it were that easy. "She's still your best-friend. Just talk to her like you normally would," She shrugged, pulling her friend out of the elevator.
Asami used her left arm to close her red coat as a heavy winter breeze swept past them as they stepped outside. "That's easier said than done," She whispered under her breath, stepping into the cab Opal must have called for them. "How are they? Mako and Bolin, I haven't seen then since they came to visit me last year."
Opal closed the door and told the driver to head for the train station; she leaned back in her seat. "Mako is on his way to becoming a detective, right now he's sort of doing desk work under Lin. But he has his own police car, so, it's a start."
Asami nodded, a small smile on her face. "That's amazing, I know how long he's wanted to do that," She raised an eyebrow. "What about Bo?"
"He's still helping people down at Kuvira's taskforce," Opal said with a grin. "I can't wait to catch up with him. I've been busy with training the new airbenders, and now I'm doing some detective work like you." She flushed, shaking her head. "Well, it isn't as intense as the cool things you do; beating up bad guys, jailing major criminals and traveling the world while you do so."
Her eyes brightened. "Asami, you even have time to make sure your company is doing well,"
"Well it's not like I own it," Asami crossed her arms angrily. "I haven't seen that damn bastard since I was ten; and I work for him! He didn't even come to my mother's funeral," She glared out the dark window.
Opal's eyes softened, she wanted to kick herself for bringing it up. "…he put half of the company in your name, and made sure you had somewhere to live when she left; he does care,"
Asami sighed and mumbled. "If he cared then he would have been there for me," She turned her green gaze to the airbender, a weak smile was on her face. "But I was lucky enough to have good friends help me through it."
Opal laughed, glad the awkwardness was gone. "Please, Korra's parents basically adopted you. They dragged you to the South to live with them until…" She snapped her mouth shut. "…sorry, I keep bringing it up."
"It's okay Opal, my past is what made me who I am. Even if I'm not completely proud of what I've become," Asami glared at her left robotic arm that was hidden underneath a thick red coat and white gloves; she clenched her gloved hand into a fist. "When Tenzin came to offer me a chance to work under Furrier Sato, he thought it would be nice for me to be near family. But Hiroshi disowned himself from my family when he left me and my mother." She declared.
Opal frowned. "Then why did you work for the military when you knew he oversaw it?"
"…I think part of me wanted to see him for closure," Asami said with a rough laugh. "It's funny though, I still never got it and, it seems like I'm only adding more pain every day. But aside from him, you know the real reason I'm here,"
The airbender nodded. "The philosopher stone," Opal shook her head, she slapped her friend on the shoulder with a glare. "Hey! You're not supposed to be thinking about work, stop tricking me!"
Asami didn't flinch, just raised an amused brow; she had missed Opal. "You're the one who keeps opening old wounds," She said with a laugh.
"You're insufferable," Opal didn't hesitate to plop her head onto the older woman's shoulder. "Wake me when we get to the station," It wasn't a question, and it surely came out as a demand.
Asami patted her friend on the head. "Okay,"
The remainder of the ride was filled with the sound of Opal's light snoring and the passing of other cars. Asami felt drained, tired, but she couldn't sleep.
Too many thoughts were running through her head.
Don't be too harsh on me for getting stuff wrong or having characters not acting like themselves, I've never wrote a story for The Legend of Korra before, so, this is my first. I plan to update a Christmas chapter next and then after that it might go a little deeper, depending on how well you guys enjoy this.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed.