Summary: Episode 8 AU. After Amon and a handful of Equalists inadvertently witness Korra's kidnapping, Amon sees a golden opportunity to take down Korra and Tarrlok, two of the greatest threats to his movement, with one strike. Part one of two. Originally posted on my tumblr account.
Pairing: Korra x Tarrlok, of a sort, eventually.
Amon receives word of the mass roundup of innocent citizens less than half an hour after it happens. He summons his First Lieutenant and three dozen shock troops and begins work immediately. They have a massive prison break to coordinate and execute, after all. And, of equal importance…he had initially planned to deal with Councilman Tarrlok at the same time as the other council members, but the councilman's actions have been out of control over the past several days. He's not going to stand for another moment of Tarrlok blatantly trespassing on human rights and terrorizing the non-bending citizens of Republic City.
Perhaps it is for the best that they take action now, Amon muses, as he pulls on his dark traveling cloak. They will make an example of Councilman Tarrlok, and hopefully that inspires the rest of the police force and the city council to be more reasonable in the future.
He waits until past nine at night, when the streets of the city are empty and he can be sure that almost everybody at City Hall has returned to their homes - except Tarrlok, of course, who regularly stays until ten or later. He orders the Lieutenant to accompany him, as well as four others, for reinforcement. He sends the rest to the police station.
They approach City Hall from the back entrance, moving closer and closer, hidden by the trees. Underneath the mask, Amon frowns, an unusual tingle of foreboding running the length of his spine. He feels something in the air. It's charged, somehow, and it is heavy and oppressive all of a sudden, despite the brisk cold and the wind that whistles through the trees. Intuition motivates him to hold out a hand in a silent gesture, stopping dead, and his soldiers freeze as well.
That is when they hear it - the sudden, terrible rush of water, as powerful as a mighty waterfall…but no waterfall, of course. Beside him, his Lieutenant flinches almost imperceptibly, likely flashing back to the trauma of seeing his daughter nearly drowned by a waterbending member of the Triple Threat Triad when he couldn't come up with their protection money. Amon reaches a hand out and places it on the Lieutenant's trembling shoulder, the touch steady and comforting, although behind the mask, his narrowed eyes remain fixated on the distant specter of the councilman's window. How strange. He sees the ethereal glow of water, then agonizingly bright bursts of flame, hears the distant crunch of earth being torn from the ground…
And Amon puts two and two together. There are two shadows in the councilman's office, and only one person in Republic City can bend three elements. There is mild confusion as to why the allies have apparently turned against one another, but more importantly, he is trying to figure out how all of this figures into their plan, when there is such a loud crash from inside City Hall that they feel the earth beneath their feet shake.
"Amon, sir," one of the soldiers whispers, stepping closer. "What should we do?"
Amon's eyes narrow again as he regards the building. As frustrating as it is, he has no idea himself. "…We wait. Press back."
They retreat several feet, their black clothes enabling them to melt into the cover of darkness. Minute after agonizing minute passes by. Amon thinks he might hear a female scream, but he isn't sure whether it is just the howling of the wind. Then, finally-
The back door to City Hall flies open, and Amon's breath catches in his throat, despite himself. The beaten, disheveled Councilman Tarrlok staggers out, clutching what is unmistakably the unconscious, tightly bound body of the Avatar. He wrenches the back of the police vehicle open and throws her in, out of sight, and Amon can hear the muffled sounds of her yelling, her voice raw with rage and panic and fright. Tarrlok's reply is inaudible, but then he jumps back, slamming the doors just in time to narrowly avoid a plume of flame. Within a matter of instants, he's behind the wheel, the car containing the Avatar speeding away, and in moments, it has disappeared from sight.
Amon slowly turns to his lieutenant and his officers, almost unable to believe what he has just seen. All of their faces are covered as well, but their shock is evident in their body language.
"What just happened?" the youngest of his soldiers asks, her voice shaking with disbelief.
Amon tilts his head to the side slightly, the realization of what he must do now becoming clear to him. "Opportunity knocked," he says shortly. "Follow me."
In the back of the van, Korra sobs. She hates herself for it, for being so pathetic and weak again - the last thing she needs is for him to hear it in the front and know that he's won - but the rage and frustration and sorrow is all-consuming and she can't hold it back. Hot tears course down her face, burning the cuts on her cheekbone, and she can't even lift her mercilessly bound hands to wipe her nose and eyes and cheeks. The restraints are metal wire; the knots are tied with the complexity and strength expected from somebody from the Water Tribe. Out of nowhere, Korra remembers her dad teaching her how to tie these knots, long ago, and she crumples into herself, the pain driving the breath from her body. She can't die or rot away in some prison without ever seeing her mom and dad again, she can't.
For the tenth time, Korra tries to kick, channeling flame to her foot, but it bounces off the iron uselessly and ricochets around the enclosed space, making her flinch back from the searing heat. The place where she is trapped is windowless and she has no way to judge the passage of time, but they are traveling fast - leaving Republic City and Tenzin and his family and her friends behind - and it feels like she has been in here for at least half an hour.
Naga's still waiting for me in front of City Hall, Korra thinks weakly, resting her aching face against the cold metal. Her heart twists, and she can't think of her best friend anymore, she just can't, because it hurts too much. She closes her eyes for a few seconds and tries to meditate, her breath coming fast, escaping from her in ragged gasps. How can I get myself out of this situation? How can I defeat Tarrlok the next time he tries to use bloodbending on me?
The second the thought crosses her mind, the police car swerves sharply. Korra shrieks, caught by surprise and unable to balance herself, as the movement sends her flying from one side of the van to another. She lands on her face, the cuts aggravated by the rough floor, and can't hold back a soft moan of pain. She struggles upright, glaring venomously at the solid metal barrier that separates her from Tarrlok. If that was some kind of deliberate attempt to shake her concentration-
Then the car swerves again, even worse than before, and takes a few wild turns. It feels like they've gone off-road - the smooth ride has been replaced by rocky (painful) bumps every few feet. She's tossed around like a stupid sack of potatoes, helpless, but for a few moments her face is pressed against one of the walls, and as much as the metal muffles any sound from escaping the van (and vice versa), Korra can swear she hears the sound of another Satomobile.
Wild hope leaps up in her chest - maybe something happened and Mako, Asami, and Bolin were able to get out of prison, or Tenzin noticed she was gone. "Yes," she whispers, longing for this situation to be over; for a friendly face to cut her free of her bonds so she can give Tarrlok what he deserves. "Please."
The police car comes to an abrupt stop, and Korra is thrown back with a yelp, her already bruised and aching body colliding roughly with the barrier. She squints with concentration, a frown furrowing her brow. She can make out the faintest of voices, but she can't tell if any of them are familiar, except Tarrlok's. She shuts her eyes tight, praying with every fiber of her being. Please don't be able to bloodbend behind the wheel of a satomobile, please don't be able to bloodbend behind the wheel of a satomobile-
But then she hears something that has become all too familiar since her arrival in Republic City, and her eyes snap open in astonishment. It's the distinct sound of a horribly powerful current of electricity, the kind that can only come from one of those Equalist gloves…
Tarrlok screams, and it sounds like the howl of a dying arctic wolf.
The sense of triumph that courses through her is unbelievable. Asami, she thinks to herself. Thank you.
She presses her ear still closer to the barrier, but she can only catch brief snatches of words. "Planning to take…Avatar…where?"
It's definitely an unfamiliar male voice. Not Mako, Bolin, or Tenzin. Had Asami caught a ride with one of the metalbending cops? It seemed unlikely. And why hasn't anybody come around to check the back yet? Korra throws herself against the wall again, trying to signal her presence to them, but there is still no response.
Things are starting to not make sense, and she returns to her spot by the barrier. There's a cut on her scalp that's trickling blood into her ear. It doesn't seem like Tarrlok's answering their questions, and he gets shocked again, but this time, her satisfaction at his pain is mingled with confusion at his - their - predicament.
Korra decides to take a chance. "Hey!" she yells, at the top of her lungs. "Can anyone hear me?"
A few minutes pass with no response. She kicks the side of the van, snarling in frustration. The hair on the back of her neck stands on end. Something isn't right here, and she can't do anything about it.
The doors to the back of the van are suddenly wrenched open, and Korra barely has time to register the fact - feel the rush of cold air on her face, catch a glimpse of the night sky and breathe in the fresh air - before the split second of gratitude gives way to utter confusion. What-
In the next instant, three masked, dark-clad figures block her line of sight, and throw Tarrlok roughly into the back with her. He's restrained with metal wire just like she is, the ties in his hair ripped away and his cold blue eyes alight with fury. "How dare you?" he yells at them, his shoulders rising and falling erratically, and if he hadn't been a waterbender, he would have been breathing fire. "You can't do this!"
It's only then that Korra notices the green goggles resting around their necks, and the twin lightning rods held by the man in the middle. The realization knocks the breath from her body and sends her heart sinking somewhere to the region of her stomach. No.
She hadn't thought it was possible, but her night has just become a whole lot worse.
The four Equalists step aside, and like a dark wraith, Amon appears in front of them. She hasn't seen him in person since the night of their confrontation on the island - only every night in her nightmares, and her reaction now is so immediate and gut-wrenchingly visceral that Korra fears she's going to be sick. It's all she can do to hold on to her composure, grit her teeth to keep any telltale whimpers from escaping, and try to stop herself from trembling. She isn't even comforted a little by the fact that beside her, Tarrlok is as pale as a ghost and not doing a very good job of hiding his own fear, either.
"I'll warn you now, Avatar Korra," Amon says, his voice low and silky. "I see that your hands and arms are restrained, but if you even try to breathe or kick fire at my comrades and I, you will regret it."
It isn't an empty threat, and she knows it. Korra swallows over her dry throat, trying her best to silence the little voice in her head that's panicking over the possibility of losing her bending here and now. "What do you want with us?" she demands, pleased by the fact that she manages to sound a hell of a lot braver than she feels.
Amon sighs quietly, his arms folded behind his back, his posture relaxed. "You know the answer to that, Avatar. Imagine what a surprise it was for me to inadvertently happen upon the two greatest threats to my cause in one place. I am sure you've heard the old proverb regarding killing two birds with one stone."
Tarrlok bares his teeth in another wolf-like gesture, his muscles flexing futilely against the restraints. "You'll never take our bending away, you monster," he spits, his voice distorted with hatred.
The eerie mask tilts to the side ever so slightly. "I never said anything about removing your bending. Not yet, at least. All in due course. I meant what I said about saving you for last, Avatar Korra, and immediately before you will be the councilmembers….including this piece of filth. But I can get to that point sooner with both of you out of my way." He pauses, and Korra can tell that behind the mask, his lips are twisted in a smirk. "Let's see how you like being imprisoned, Councilman Tarrlok. Block their chi. Now."
The Equalists respond to the swift command in a blink of an eye, and there are fingers jabbing into Korra's spine and her sides. Beside her, Tarrlok puts up a fight and receives another high-voltage shock, and even though that should be a warning, there is no room for rationality in the fury and desperation coursing through her. The second the hand comes close to her neck, Korra lunges forward and sinks her teeth into it as hard as she can, refusing to let go, despite the sickening taste of blood on her lips and teeth.
The Equalist shrieks, and one of her comrades comes to her aid and yanks on Korra's hair brutally, forcing her to release the hold. The Equalist she had bitten blocks her last chi point with more force than necessary and then slaps her across the face, sending her reeling. She collapses against Tarrlok's prone form, getting a faceful of his hair, and by the time they manage to disentangle themselves from each other and struggle upright, the vehicle is already speeding down the road. And they are powerless to stop it.
Tarrlok shakes his head, dazed, trying to recover from the three electrocutions in quick succession. His mind races frantically, but he finds himself unable to comprehend how, in the span of less than an hour, the state of events can have degenerated so badly. First Avatar Korra proved herself to be beyond all reason, leading to the fight in City Hall that had forced him to resort to desperate measures - and then, at least, he had regained control of the situation and put her in her place, but now…
The Equalists had come out of nowhere, and evading them had proved impossible. Now everything is spiraling out of control and for once in his life, he has no idea how to manipulate the situation to his advantage.
Meanwhile, the Avatar glares at him, pure loathing written all over her face. She looks even more enraged now than she had in the instants before she was preparing to burn his face even worse than Fire Lord Zuko's. "I can't believe you!" she seethes, struggling futilely against her bindings. "Not only did you kidnap me, but you got us captured by Equalists too! You idiot!"
"I didn't do this on purpose!" Tarrlok snaps, uncaring of how immature it makes him sound. The repeated Equalist attacks from those vile, unnatural weapons have made him weak; made his head swim.
"I don't care! Do you have any idea what this means for Republic City?"
He laughs incredulously. "Do I? I'm the one who's always been thinking of the well-being of the city, while you've been off playing your childish games and making absolutely no progress in your Avatar training. You have your own incompetence to blame for everything that has happened to-"
The rest of his words and the angry exclamation halfway out of her lips are cut off by a sharp turn down a rocky road that throws both of them off balance. Tarrlok lands somewhere in the vicinity of Korra's feet, and he realizes the danger of this situation a moment too late. The Avatar's eyes flash dangerously, and her boot makes contact with the side of his head with crushing force, and then everything goes black.
Tarrlok can't say how long it takes for him to regain consciousness. His eyes snap open after receiving a sharp slap to the face, and a second later, the Equalist scum drags him forward by the hair and ties a blindfold over his eyes. From the steady stream of snarls and curses to his left, he can guess that Avatar Korra has received the same treatment.
They're both pulled out of the police van (the air around them sizzles with electricity, a warning for them not to try and make a blind run for it) and shoved into a building - the temperature drops several degrees from even the chilly air outside. The door clangs shut behind them, and instinct tells him that it's made out of solid platinum.
"It's safe," a flat, bored voice says, and the blindfold is unceremoniously yanked from around his eyes. It takes a few seconds for them to adjust to the gloom. Beside him, Korra appears equally disoriented.
They're surrounded by a silent circle of Equalists, all masked and dressed in black, and utterly undistinguishable from one another. The one directly ahead of them stands in front of a small, narrow cell - again, made of solid platinum. Tarrlok sees Korra's eyes darting around rapidly, assessing their surroundings, and his chest tightens, as he comes to the same conclusion. There's platinum all around them, which even the likes of Lin Beifong can't bend. It's resistant to even the hottest flames, and of course their captors will know better than to give them even a drop of water. In any case, he has a feeling that the two of them are going to have their chi blocked every twelve hours for the duration of their captivity.
The cell door slides open, and they're both thrown into the claustrophobically small, dark space. Tarrlok's fingers flex uselessly, and the urge to bloodbend - to crush internal organs and snap spines and hear his enemies futilely beg and scream for mercy - has never been this strong. Four Equalists advance into the cell with them, followed by the one who had given the orders earlier.
"Cut them free," he decrees, this time. "The last thing we need is for them to develop complications from lack of blood circulation and have that interfere with Amon's plans."
Korra takes a break from her obvious silent contemplation of how to defeat all odds by murdering five armed opponents to turn her gaze on him. The look is so full of dark promise that Tarrlok can't help but take half a step back, belatedly realizing that they really plan to keep both of them in this cell - and now, he doesn't have the advantage of bloodbending to gain the upper hand over her. The Equalist slicing the wires free of his upper body scoffs, the sound harsh and mocking. "Don't tell me the great Councilman Tarrlok is afraid of a little girl. You're surely not that pathetic without your bending, are you? It doesn't bode well for your future."
The second the last wire falls free, Tarrlok punches the man in the face, ignoring the crippling pins and needles sensation that spreads from the tips of his fingers to the top of his shoulders. As if emboldened by the act of defiance, Korra kicks her Equalist out of the cell, sending him flying back several feet. The man in command steps back, out of range, and perversely enough, he doesn't seem upset at all - he just gives a small, dark laugh. "Very nice. But let's see how spirited you are at the end, when Amon sends for you."
He presses a button, and the door slams shut with a pneumatic hiss - the sound of harsh finality - sealing them in.
Trapping them. Together.
to be continued
Thank you for reading, and any and all feedback would be very much appreciated. :)