Chapter IV

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

It took the present Team Avatar nearly an hour before they got off the boat and onto the streets. The suspense and excitement proofed almost unbearable as the team couldn't get their minds off of what had happened the night before. As Asami drove the sato-mobile through the busy streets, they talked about how Korra's past-live had appeared in present time. A dozen ideas were put forth, each wilder than before. Bolin, with a grin, went so far as proposing that Aang had learned a form of bending that allowed him to go through time.

"He just never told anybody and kept it to himself," he said. The proposal was so ridiculous that the others howled with laughter.

"Nice try Bo," his brother assured him. "But I doubt that any Avatar could do that, no matter how powerful."

Then Asami suggested that the boy was not Korra's predecessor but was actually another Avatar. "It's only been said that only the Avatar could control the elements," she stated. "But whoever said that never mentioned that the Avatar couldn't have been more than one person. The kid, while he may look like Avatar Aang, couldn't possibly be Aang."

Korra thought about this for a moment before disagreeing with her. "If that were true, then why is he not from the water tribe," she countered. "I've read all about the Avatar cycle. If that kid is another Avatar he should be from the water tribe, but his skin color is different and he has the air tattoos of a master air bender."

Asami sighed and agreed that Korra was right, but was still confused. "If Aang really is alive," she said, "then why is he here? And how did he even get to our time?"

The group agreed that there didn't seem to be any conclusion as to why Aang just appeared in their time. It was a mystery but the teenagers felt that they could find the reason for it. A half-hour later the group came up to the building that the previous Avatar now resided. They walked up to the top of the building and entered the small room.

Aang was sitting upright on a small cot and was looking out the window when they entered. He welcomed his guests warmly and waited until they sat down to talk to them.

"I'm glad you guys are here. Things have just been too much for me and Momo ever since we got here." He gestured to the small animal as it flew down from the rafters. Momo continued to fly around the room for a few seconds before landing on a small table next to Aang.

"You seem to be taking this very calmly Mr. Avatar." Asami commented. "A lot of people wouldn't be so calm in your position."

"Well, to be fare, I'm not like most people." he countered. "I've been trapped in a block of ice for a hundred years, been chased by Fire Nation royalty almost from the moment I was unfrozen, and even had to help some wandering spirits find peace within themselves. At this point nothing surprises me anymore."

As the teenagers nodded their heads at the young Avatar they quickly turned their conversation towards how the young Avatar had appeared in their time. Aang stated that while his memories were starting to clear up, he still couldn't recall what had happened after Makapu Village.

"Can you tell us what you do remember, from the time you were in Makapu before you arrived to this time period?" Mako inquired.

Aang placed a hand on his head as he tried to concentrate on the subject in his mind. "I remember being in Makapu with my friends and we were celebrating the end of the war. I also remember dancing with Katara and watching Sokka trying to stuff his face full of meat—which caused Suki to scold at him for being rude." He smiled at the recollection. "Toph was standing on the sides, talking to a few earth bending teachers, Zuko was enjoying a small cup of tea with Mai and Uncle Iroh, and Tylee was doing a small tightrope act for the kids. Everything was peaceful and everyone was enjoying themselves."

"Is that all you remember?" Korra asked.

Aang shook his head. "No. There was something else. It was actually before the party even started, Zuko was a little disturbed and he was actually distracted by it so much."

"Distracted by what?"

Aang quickly explain Zuko's strange request from his father and what the deranged ex-Fire Lord had mentioned the night before the party. "I even remember Ozai's last words he told Zuko: 'And you know what the best part about it is? You won't know about it until it's too late!'" he concluded.

The group was shocked by the information. Trying to process all the information in her head, Korra asked her ancestor, "Why in the world was Ozai so interested in asking his son—who he hated with a vengeance—about a storm that his grandfather had witnessed over two hundred years ago?"

Aang stated that he didn't know the reason why the previous Fire Lord was interested in a storm his grandfather predicted. "However, I do know a little about a storm that happened a few years before I was frozen in ice. It could've been the one he was talking about." he said, "Actually it was more of a lightning storm than a rain storm, and people reported some strange things about it."

The teenagers looked at each other in astonishment. Had the strange storm a few nights ago had anything to do with this? Or was it merely a coincidence?

They asked Aang what he knew, the young Air Nomad began to relate his tale. "It was when I was seven-years-old that Monk Gyatso received an urgent letter from a friend in the Earth Kingdom. It said that his friend's mother was ill and needed some healing herbs from the surrounding cliffs of the Jong-Mu Temple. After Gyatso had gathered enough herbs, he quickly traveled to the Earth Kingdom and delivered the herbs in time."

"What happened then?" Bolin put in eagerly.

Aang moved uneasily in his cot. "Well, after spending a few days at his friend's place to make certain that the mother was alright, Monk Gyatso began his journey home. He told me that he had just started gliding over the ocean when a storm clouds suddenly appeared, but Gyatso wasn't concerned."

"Why wasn't he concerned?" Asami asked as she observed him.

Aang explained that the Air Nomad temples were built in the most difficult, hard-to-reach places on the planet. In his case, the Southern Air Temple was built up in the mountains close to the ocean, so the Nomads had experience with storms close to their home and knew how to fly through them with little difficulty. "However, Gyatso told me that this storm wasn't like most storms we've had. He stated that, as he tried to push himself further to make it home before the storm hit, lightning started to scatter all over the place. He tried to maneuver himself out of the way of the lightning's path when suddenly a stray bolt hit him!"

"Was he hurt?" Korra asked.

Aang shook his head. "No. He was unconscious, but fine otherwise. But that wasn't the weird thing."

"What do you mean?"

"When that bolt of lightning hit him, Gyatso was at least halfway across the ocean. But when he woke up, Gyatso was lying on the cot in his bed chambers and his staff was leaning against the wall!"

Mako gave a whistle. "So Gyatso somehow managed to get home when he was unconscious?!"

"That's what he claims, but most of the other monks just laughed at him and thought he was up to his usual tricks again. He didn't even had a scar on him to prove that he was struck by lightning." Aang then lifted his head a little and he had a firm look in his eyes. "But I believed him. I couldn't stop asking him questions about what had happened to him for nearly two days." Aang suddenly chuckled. "Nearly drove him insane with all the questions!"

The group of teenagers talked to the young Air Nomad a bit more, before deciding that it was time to leave.

As they started to head out, Aang asked where they were going. "We've got to head down to see if Ms. Ping can give us any more information about the thief who stole her jewels." Korra stated.

Aang suddenly bolt up from his seated position. "Say, would it be okay if I can go with you guys?" he asked. Momo seemed perked up at the thought of leaving the room and flew towards his master, landing on his shoulder. The small animal then bobbed his head up and down as if agreeing with him.

This caused the group to pause and look at the young time-traveler. They knew that if word got out that Avatar Aang is indeed alive, then it would mean an outrage from the public and would try to get answers that even they don't know. Not to mention when the media gets wind of it...

However, Korra knew that Aang wasn't one to give up without a struggle. He was her past life after all. The teenagers gathered around for a whisper conference, while Aang stood there, his eyes focused on the whole thing while absentmindedly scratching Momo's large ears.

After a few moments of silence, the new Team Avatar dispersed. Korra looked at her former life and said, "We've decided that you can come along with us, but only if you wear a disguise. If people found out about you being here, it could mean a lot of trouble. Not to mention, we don't want Amon to catch wind of you."

Aang sighed and nodded his head. "Fair enough. But I don't even have a hat, let alone a disguise to wear. Where am I going to get a disguise?"

At this, Asami walked up and smiled. "Don't worry. I'll take care of that!" she said with a small gleam in her eyes.

This caused Aang to recoil in sudden fear at the thought of what this girl had in mind. "Why do I get the feeling this is going to get complicated?" he said to himself.

Back on Air Temple Island, Pema walked through the hallway with a tray of snacks and a cup of steaming tea. After the children discovered the girl unconscious on the beach, Pema had her moved to one of the spare guest bedrooms in their home. Now, after making certain the she was comfortable, Pema wanted to be there when the girl woke-up.

She quietly opened the door to find the pre-teen was still resting on the soft bed. Pema sat the tray on the small nightstand, before massaging the young girl's wrists to help the blood circulate in her body. As she was doing this, she couldn't help but wonder who the mystery girl was and why she looked somewhat familiar?

At last the girl started to stir. Her eyelids fluttered. Her lips moved but no words came. Then her eyes opened and she stared at Pema, as though in a daze.

"Where am I?" she muttered faintly.

"Don't worry," Pema assured her. "You're with friends."

"What happened?"

"I had hoped you could answer that. My children found you on the beach as they were playing and they quickly came to me for help. I had some of my friends help you into my house and lay you down into one of our spare guest rooms." Pema said.

The young girl blinked for a moment before giving her host a small smile. "Thank you," she said before realizing how scratchy her voice was. "Can I have something to drink?"

Pema nodded and handed the cup of hot tea to the girl. The girl gently held the cup to her lips and slowly drank the hot beverage until it was all gone. After passing the cup back to Pema the girl got a chance to look out the window for the first time. And what she saw made her gasp.

Across the large body of water, along the shoreline, was a city like none she had seen before. Tall metal structures dominated most of the area, as dirigibles of all shapes, colors, and sizes ruled the air above it. Large passenger ships and freighters were stationed at the docks at the shore line, and a large, iron suspension bridge acted as a gateway to the large cove.

It was sight that seemed so unbelievable to the girl. As Pema was putting the cup back on the tray, she noticed that the girl's face changed from one of helplessness to one of awe as she stared at the great scene. She smiled at the teen's look.

"It is pretty impressive," Pema stated. "Hard to believe that a few decades ago, this area once belonged to the Fire Nation colonies during the War."

At this notion, the young girl quickly turned to face her host in astonishment. "Excuse me, but did you just say 'decades'?!" she asked clearly not believing what she had heard.

Pema looked at the girl, curious as to what she meant by that statement. "Why, yes. To be precise, official construction of Republic City started about sixty-eight years ago, after Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko met in negotiations with the Earth King."

The young girl's mind was racing as she processed this information. She couldn't believe what she was hearing right now! "But that's impossible!" she said. "The Earth King just started talking to Zuko about their plans on what to do about the Fire Nation colonies after nearly averting another war. There's no way the Earth King could've settled with negotiations and start construction of this place."

Now Pema was really curious. Not only was this girl strange, but she spoke as if she knew her late father-in-law and his friends personally. Not only that, but she also seemed somewhat familiar to her.

"Where exactly have you been hiding?" she asked the young girl, half-jokingly and half-serious. "All of that stuff happened in the past, yet you make it sound as though you were there when everything happened."

The young girl looked at her host for a second before a thought crossed her mind that made her tremble. "Hold on. Before anything else, can you tell me what year it is." she asked, scared at what the answer might be.

Pema looked at the girl for a moment, as if weighing her options carefully. Finally, after looking at her young guest, she answered. "It's 170 ASC," she stated. "But why is that so important?"

Pema's question went unanswered, as the young girl tried hide the look of shock on her face by lowering her head till her chin touched her chest. She couldn't believe what she'd just heard, but there it is right in front of her.

As she was contemplating what has happened, Pema was even more confused as she looked at the young girl. "What's the matter?"

The young girl's head shot up and looked at her host for a moment, fear still etched on her face. "I'm not supposed to be here." she stated.

"What do you mean?" Pema asked.

"You wouldn't understand,"

"Try me,"

The girl looked at Pema, tears threatening to burst from her eyes as she looked at her host for what seemed like forever. After everything that she had been through, she'd thought nothing could surprise her. But now she was in a situation that was not under her control, and she would need help.

Gathering her courage, she looked the woman directly in the eye, before speaking:

"My name is Katara, and I'm from the year 102 ASC."

"Are you sure you can't stay with us Chief?"

Lin Beifong looked at her Saikhan, as he looked at her in bewilderment. After narrowly escaping from the Equalist factory under the Sato mansion, Lin announced that she would quit the police force and work "outside the law" in order to find the officers she was forced to abandon. It caused a large shock to everyone, especially those in the police station, as she was probably the best Chief the department has ever had since her mother.

"I'm quite sure, Saikhan," Lin said. "It was my fault that my men were captured and I attend to bring them back before their bending gets taken away."

Saikhan sighed in defeat. "Well, if you're sure that this is going to be the only way to find them, then by all means go. But remember, if you ever want to come back..." he said, letting the offer stay in the air.

"Thanks, but I've made my choice, Saikhan." Lin stated, and with that she strolled out the front door of the Police Station. As she was walking down the steps Lin looked up towards the statue of her mother. It stood proud and tall.

Lin sighed. She had hoped to make her mother proud by living up to her legacy and being the chief of police. But now her men are gone, probably being sent to Amon so he could take their bending away.

"I'm sorry Mother." Lin said. "I know that things have been tough, especially with you no longer with us. I had hoped to help Republic City in it's time of need, and I failed not only the city but my men. I know that it'll be a lot harder for me to do this on my own, but I have to do it in order to find everyone and free them." With that, Lin turned her head away from the statue and looked at the city. Her eyes were starting to get a little moist from thinking about all the times her mother was playing with her when she was a child.

"I just wish you were here with me. Maybe even help me..." Lin couldn't finish her sentence, as she tried to pull herself together.

Suddenly, she heard a loud noise coming from behind her. She quickly turned around and prepare herself in case it was an Equalist, only to gasp in shock.

Laying on top of the pedestal, right between the statues feet, was a twelve-year-old girl. She wore a green short-skirted sailor fuku with the collar popped and green bloomers underneath. Brown boots with the soles removed underneath were on her feet, a green top under her uniform, and a green bola tie. As Lin watched the young girl carefully, she'd noticed that the girl's hair was tied back in curled pigtails.

Lin watched the young girl, making certain that it wasn't a trick. As she stepped closer, the young girl moaned suddenly and started to wake up from her slumber. As she started to get up, the young girl started to rub her eye lids, as if trying to get them open faster.

Lin looked at the girl, still unsure about what was going on, when the young girl spoke. "Man, when those earth bending jerks said they could take me on, I didn't think they'd try to get me all at once." she said, before taking her hand off her eyelids and opened her eyes. Lin gasped, when she saw that the girl's eyes held a hasty grayish-white tone.

The girl suddenly looked up at Lin and said, "Well, what are you starring at lady!"

Lin couldn't believe her own eyes. It was like something in a dream, but it wasn't. "Mother...?!" she croaked, feeling the tears she was trying to hold back, starting to flow down her cheeks.

Hey everybody, I'M BACK! Okay, so first off, let me tell everyone that I'm sorry for the very, very, VERY, long delay, but I had school work and stuff. But not anymore! IT'S SUMMER EVERYBODY!

Now for those who still read my stories and stuff, thank you for sending in your votes on who should reappear next in the story. The winner was Toph by a landslide of nearly one-third of the voters.

Now I need your help on something. Now that I have a good idea on who to bring back in what sequence, I'm also going to bring back a series of other characters from the original Team Avatar's time, as well as a few suprizes of my own! So sit back, relax and please vote on what characters I should bring back in my new poll!