Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Korra, and make no profit from writing this.
Well, here it is. The last three chapters could be considered either setting the scene or build -up, and this is where the story really begins. Naruto finally wakes up! This is also the first extended action sequence I've ever written, so I'm not sure how well it turned out, but I hope you all enjoy it.
Chapter 3: Naruto's Awakening
The Air Temple burned tonight. The mission itself was relatively simple- sneak their way onto the island, infiltrate the Temple, kill everyone inside, and then burn the entire compound to rubble. Taro was especially looking forward to that third part; it had been far too long since he had been able to cut loose.
He understood the purpose of the mission, of course. They couldn't simply have all of their firebenders attack the Temple at once. No, their job was to use multiple different assault styles, to spread confusion amongst whoever it was that eventually investigated the attack, so that they would spend valuable time scrambling to learn who was responsible.
Lieutenant Taro, one of the strongest earthbenders alive, and the strongest earthbender in the Equalists, was a giant of a man, standing at well over six feet, and weighing in at close to two hundred pounds -all muscle, and coupled with his midnight black hair and earthbender green eyes, Taro was an incredibly intimidating man. And he was going to accomplish his mission with only seven other men.
While others would have brought at least twice as many as Taro was, these were some of the very best, and three benders and four Chi-blockers would be more than a match for the token White Lotus security force and one lone airbender, even if he was a master.
They had completed reconnaissance of the area last week, gathering Intel about the strength of any possible opposition that they would encounter, as well as the numbers that they could expect. If anything, the eight-man squad was overkill.
According to the latest reports, in addition to the master, there were three young airbenders at the Temple as well. They would be the second priority, and he had told his squad to capture them alive if possible, but if they died along with the others, well, that was just too damn bad.
In fact, perhaps they should target the children and the matriarch first- get the master angry, so he would come at them stupid, and then finish him. It was a strategy worth looking into, but only if circumstances and time allowed it.
They had already completed their first objective, covertly landing on the south side of the island in an Equalists ship designed for stealth, and were now observing the two White Lotus guards stationed at the front gate.
Taro gave the signal, and his forces began their infiltration.
Now, Taro gave a vicious smile. This was going to be fun.
Korra was worried. Really, it wasn't unexpected- the semi-final match would begin in a few moments, and most contestants experienced a few jitters before the game began. But this was something else; it was gnawing at her, a cold chill at the bottom of her stomach, and for some reason, she was starting to regret leaving the Temple.
Bolin and Mako had noticed, of course - how could they not? Korra had never been what one could call subtle, she almost always wore her emotions on her sleeve, and after having spent so much time around the two of them, there was no way they couldn't notice something was up.
In what was probably equal parts concern for his friend and worry about a teammate's performance, Mako had eventually asked her if something was wrong.
She had told them about the boy she had pulled out of the water, leaving out the part about her dream, and while Mako and Bolin were still clearly worried about her, Korra had assured them that it could wait until at least the end of the match.
But now, staring distantly into the cheering crowd in the stands as the announcer started the countdown, Korra still felt that something was very wrong.
Feeling like his head would split open, Naruto was starting to regret waking up.
What the hell was that?
Whatever it was that Raven had done, it had not been short and it had not been painless, but Naruto supposed that could be counted as a good thing; if he could still feel pain, then he was still alive.
"Ah, you're finally awake," came a woman's voice off to his side, tinged with warmth.
Finally opening his eyes, Naruto rose upright in the bed he was lying on and looked around to see a sparsely decorated room, before turning his attention to the woman who had spoken to him.
He saw a woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties, with short brown hair and warm amber-colored eyes. She was dressed rather oddly, even by his standards, wearing yellow robes beneath a red sash, what seemed to be some type of uniform.
The woman must have misinterpreted his confusion for fear or caution, because she smiled warmly at him before saying, "It's alright, you're safe. No one will hurt you here." And despite having no clue who this woman before him was, something in her voice made Naruto trust her.
"And where is here?" His voice was slightly hoarse from disuse, and the woman gave him a small cup of water she had next to her to drink before she answered.
"You're at Air Temple Island."
Seeing his confusion, she elaborate, "In Republic City."
At Naruto's still blank expression, she tried again, with a bit of hesitation in her voice this time, "In the United Republic of Nations?"
At the answering silence, she asked, "A bit West of the Earth Kingdom, South of the North Pole?"
When Naruto still said nothing, she tried one more time, now clearly getting worried, "It used to be the... Fire Nation?"
Receiving no answer, the woman paused, now realizing that the situation had gotten even more complicated than she thought it was.
"Well, can you tell me where you remember being last?"
Naruto paused at this- he honestly didn't know, he hadn't had the time to learn that accursed valley's name. "I don't know. I never checked."
Sighing- things could never be simple, the woman decided to try one last question before completely giving up. "Where are you from, then?" If the boy gave an answer that was at least familiar, then she could work with that.
It appeared that she would have to start from scratch.
"Well, my name is Pema, can you tell me yours?"
"... Naruto," he replied, something telling him that it would not be a good idea to announce his surname just yet.
"Well, Naruto, when you were found, you had seemed to have fallen into the water, can you tell me anything about it?"
"The last thing I can remember is this bright light, and then someone carrying me to the shore."
At that, Pema nodded; if nothing else, his story matched up with what Korra and Tenzin had told her, so it seemed that the boy -Naruto- was in the same boat that she was.
"Well," Pema started, "My husband asked me to tell him when you were awake; he has some questions for you. While I'm gone, feel free to change if you feel up to it."
It was then that Naruto noticed that he was completely naked, except for his boxers, and that there was a set of clothes laid out on the bed beside him.
Flushing in embarrassment, Naruto could do little more than nod silently, and Pema stood up and headed for the door. Before she left, Pema turned to him with a smile, "Don't worry, I promise you you're safe here."
When Naruto nodded, she left him in silence, and he proceeded to change into the set of clothes that she had brought for him - sadly, no orange. He also noted that she had left most of his equipment along with the clothes.
He decided to go along with it for now. He still new absolutely nothing about where he was, and the only thing that he was certain of was that he was supposed to find this Avatar person and help prepare her for... something.
Now Naruto grimaced; he hated walking into anything blind -a lack of information got people killed, after all- and, judging from the lights of the city he could see past the room's window, the world/dimension/reality/whatever he was in was a bit more different than Raven had implied. Naruto was really starting to regret not holding out for more information.
Which brought another question to mind; how the hell could he understand that woman? Naruto knew that she was speaking a different language, yet he could understand her perfectly! He frantically wracked his mind for some kind of information that would help him understand this, and then it hit him-
"'...a culture and language that you would be completely unfamiliar with, but at the very least I can help you with that.'"
Oh, perfect, that searing pain in his head before that light had faded; the bastard must have put something in his head!
What else was floating around inside his mind? Although he didn't feel any huge, fundamental changes, Naruto did not like the idea of somebody messing with his head. It almost never worked out well.
Well, nothing could be done about it now, so he would just have to go with the flow for a bit.
Naruto had changed into the the casual-style grey shirt and dark blue pants and his equipment not a full minute before the building began to shake.
Taro growled as he blocked the fireblast with a rock shield before slamming it towards the White Lotus guard, who quickly dodged it.
They had managed to infiltrate the Temple and locate the airbender, but everything had fallen apart after that; they had come prepared to fight a few White Lotus security and the airbender, not the water tribe councilor and the Chief of Police as well!
What the hell were those two doing here?
The Beifong bitch being on the island could be explained by her past with the master- they were friends in childhood, and as far as he knew still were, though she almost never visited the island except for special occasions, or if she was invited by the Acolytes or the airbender. And she definitely hadn't been invited in the past month; they would have caught that.
But why in the Spirits name was Tarrlok at the Temple? The Equalists kept a close eye on the political climate of Republic City, taking note of the rivalries and how they could best be exploited to their advantage, and anyone who spent more than five minutes in a room with them knew that the Water Tribe and the Air councilmen despised each other.
And yet, there they were, standing back-to-back like warriors from ancient legend, Tarrlok lashing out a water-whip at a nearby Chi-blocker, while Tenzin dispelled an oncoming fire ball with an air-shield.
As much as it galled him to admit, this was far more than they could handle.
Stomping on the ground and summoning a large boulder, Taro sent it rushing towards the Lotus firebender, and the boulder smashed into his right arm, shattering it. Well, he had been aiming for the man's head, but it would do.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Taro sent a brief pulse of energy in the earth around him, confident that the remaining members of his squad could keep the enemy off of him for the few seconds required.
In those few seconds, he "saw" everything on the island; the trees, the buildings, the stables, but most importantly, the positions of everyone standing on the ground. Four stood out in particular; three small pulses, and one larger pulse a few yards away from them, the larger group surrounded by what Taro would guess was a small group of guards, each of them merging towards each other, when they would likely attempt to evacuate the island.
Snapping back, Taro could see the four Chi-blockers had been apprehended by Beifong, and his benders were being occupied by the remaining White Lotus, giving the Tarrlok and the airbender the chance to turn their attention towards him.
Well, time for plan B.
Smirking, Taro roared, slamming his fist into the ground and creating a massive shockwave that unbalanced everyone in the area, before creating a small earth wave and charging to the single large pulse he had felt earlier, in the back of his mind aware of the airbender giving chase.
In all the chaos, nobody noticed the one lone Lotus member heading towards the shore.
Korra was worried about something. Bolin knew it, Mako knew it, and even Asami had seemed concerned, despite having met Korra precisely once before.
Bolin had assumed that Korra was just anxious about the match, that she would be herself again after they had won (was there ever any doubt?), but instead, she seemed like she had gotten even worse.
"You won!" Asami exclaimed cheerfully, all but throwing herself into Mako.
"Told you we would," Mako replied with a rare smile.
At this point, Bolin couldn't hold his worries back anymore and asked, "Korra, what's wrong?"
"I don't know," she said. "I just have this really bad feeling."
"Like what?" Bolin pressed, but he was stopped by the arrival of a man wearing a blue robe with a stylized white pattern. "Korra!"
"What is it?"
Panting, the man paused a moment before he said, "The Temple's under attack!"
Korra's eyes widened in fear, and she looked like she was on the verge of panic.
"And you should probably stay away."
And now she looked like she was about to explode.
"What?" This was a mix of a question and a growl.
"Listen, Korra," he started, "I didn't get a chance to see who it was that was attacking us, but I'm willing to bet that they were after you. If that's true, the logical thing thing to do is keep you as far away from them as possible."
"If you honestly think that I'm going to just stay here while-" Korra started, before she was interrupted by the older man.
"I don't," he said bluntly. "But even if you did try to get there, all possible routes to Air Temple Island have been blocked off -from both sides- until the crisis is resolved. There is quite simply nothing we can do"
Now Korra's hands were shaking, clenching and unclenching in helpless frustration.
"Actually," interjected Asami, a mischievous look in her eyes that Bolin really didn't like, "I have an idea."
A few moments later, the Sato's private airship was en route to Air Temple Island.
From within his Air Wheel, Tenzin was worried.
The Equalists forces had them at a great disadvantage; despite being able to repel their initial attack, he, Lin, and Tarrlok were wearing down, caught by surprise and forced to give up a lot of ground, and it wouldn't take that much more effort to finish them, so why was this man, who Tenzin assumed was the Equalist leader, suddenly abandoning his position?
Whatever the reason was, Tenzin doubted that it was anything good.
And then, he realized the man's target, and cold fear gripped his heart.
At that moment, Naruto was cursing his rotten luck. Just when it seemed that he would be able to get some answers, somebody launched a full-scale assault on wherever he was.
A few years before he would have simply charged straight toward the sounds of the fighting, but the Akatsuki War had managed to knock that kind "strategy" out of him. He instead channeled chakra to the soles of his feet, using it to latch on to the roof of the building that he had just left, taking time to observe what was going on.
These people were using the elements in a way that he had never imagined. While the shinobi of almost every Country had some type of unique fighting style, incorporating at least one element into their jutsu's that no other villages could, including Kekkei Genkai, none of them had anything close to the level of control that the people before him did.
He also found it curious that while he could see Earth, Fire, and Water techniques being used, there were no Wind abilites. Perhaps there weren't as many Wind users here?
Sensing a huge burst of power, Naruto turned to see an absolutely massive man appear to ride on a wave of earth, another man dressed in orange and yellow chasing after him in what looked to be a wheel made out of pure air.
While he was impressed, Naruto knew he had to stay focused; what was going on?
Naruto was interrupted from his thoughts when he saw the earth-rider's target: the woman he had seen when he had first woken up.
Now, Naruto paused; he didn't have the slightest clue as to who any of these people were, so he wasn't truly involved in this yet, and he had a feeling that if he did choose one side over the other, there would be no turning back.
But still, these people apparently took him in after they had found him, made sure he would be alright when they were under no obligation to do so. Naruto was indebted to them, and if they were under attack, then, whoever it was, it was time for Naruto Uzumaki to do what he did best.
Tenzin could only watch in horror as the Equalist earthbender, having easily dispensed of the White Lotus guards, charged straight towards Pema, raising a massive blade that Tenzin blankly recognized as a Miao Dao.
In the split seconds that it took for the earthbender to close the distance, Tenzin's thoughts were not only of his wife, but also of his children and his mother.
Katara had been forced to watch as a firebender ruthlessly cut down her mother right in front of her. She had grown up despising the firebenders, until she had been forced to work alongside Prince Zuko so that Aang could learn how to firebend. While Katara had eventually been able to put her hatred behind her, she was still haunted by what she had nearly become, what she had almost allowed herself to do.
Would that now be the fate of his children? To wonder the world in a angry haze, until they were standing at the very edge of the abyss?
Would he be able to do nothing, and only watch from the background as his children corrupted themselves?
All of this passed through his mind in am matter of seconds, before Tenzin was jolted to attention when he heard a voice call "Earth Pillar Jutsu!"
Now, Tenzin watched in awe as, only a few feet away from Pema, the earth wave that the Equalist had been riding on suddenly became a massive pillar, forcing the earthbender to abandon it and roll on the ground, righting himself to face the new threat.
Taro took a bracing stance after jumping off his earth wave, taking a moment to examine the newcomer who had challenged him. He was not expecting to see a teenage boy staring down at him.
Blond hair, blue eyes, and odd looking whisker-like marks on each of his cheeks, even Taro could tell that there was something odd about the boy, but at the moment, but Taro was more focused on that infuriating look on the blonde's face.
The kid was staring Taro down with a look of pure, absolute confidence, as if the winner of this fight had been determined the moment it began.
Taro had had people give him a similar look before, but most of them were now either dead or hopelessly maimed.
So, the little earthbending punk thought that just because he had gotten lucky once, he could fight in the big leagues? Well, Taro would just have to teach him otherwise.
"Gale Blast Jutsu!"
Taro barely had enough time for his mind to register the shock before his entire body was pummeled by a barrage of wind.
Naruto smirked at the shocked look on his opponent's face.
It appeared that he was right, and people who could use air techniques were rare here.
Taking a brief moment to observe the others around him, Naruto raised an eyebrow at their reactions.
While the woman, Pema, had taken the short reprieve while the huge man was distracted, and had started to make a run for it, now, after he had used the Gale Blast, she appeared to be frozen in shock, her eyes wide and her mouth dropping open slightly.
The air user had stopped as well, staring at Naruto with a similar look on his face, though tinged with a mix of relief and acceptance.
The most telling, though, were the group of six people that had just arrived, three adults who Naruto would guess were guarding three small children, the oldest of which couldn't have been more than ten years old. While the three guards were observing with looks of curiosity and caution, the children had frozen in shock, all three of their jaws hanging so low that Naruto could swear they reached the ground.
Well, apparently air users were even more uncommon than he had thought. He couldn't depend on them for much help though; these people didn't know him, and if those guards were any good at all at their jobs, they would be staying far away from the fight.
Naruto was broken out of his brief thoughts as his opponent got back to his feet, glaring daggers at him, before growling out, "What the hell was that?"
Naruto only smirked again, before replying, "Maybe if you beat me, I'll tell you," taking great joy watching as the giant's face turned red with anger. Naruto did so love being annoying.
Now, the man seemed to decide to forgo using his element, dropping his sword and charging Naruto head on at a speed faster than a person of his size had any right to reach.
Naruto prepared himself as well, channeling chakra throughout his body, feeling his muscles tighten, his senses increase, his very bones hardening. With one last smirk, Naruto charged, and the two fighters collided together.
After a furious exchange of blows, Naruto became more cautious; whoever this man was, he felt like his body was made out of solid steel. Every time Naruto blocked one of his punches, his whole body trembled, shaking under the sheer, absolute power of his opponent. And then, a few moments into the fight, the man broke through Naruto's guard, landing a punch squarely in his gut.
The blow was incredibly strong. Strong enough that Naruto could actually feel some of his ribs begin to crack. If he hadn't gained so much experience from Pein, Madara and the rest of the Akatsuki, that single punch might have creamed him right there. However, becusue he had experience, he could bear it.
He was still sent flying off the ground, though.
Naruto felt the wind get knocked out of him, before he was rocketed into the trunk of a nearby tree, almost smashing all the way through it before his momentum was slowed down and he dropped to the ground.
Panting, Naruto pushed himself to his knees, looking up to see the man smirking down at him. "You never stood a chance, boy." He sneered.
Growling, Naruto forced himself to stand fully again, before bringing his fingers into the familiar cross-shaped hand seal and shouting, "Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
In puffs of smoke, three solid copies of himself popped into existence, before charging their absolutely stunned opponent.
Taro recovered quickly, though, lashing out with a punch at one of the clones, which burst into smoke at the contact. He was briefly stunned again, but quickly went to work on the other two clones.
However, this distraction was all the time that Naruto needed. He didn't have quite enough chakra to form a Rasengan yet, but he still had one or two techniques that could buy him time until he did.
Whipping out a kunai, Naruto muttered, "Vacuum Blade," lacing it with a small coat of wind, before readying himself for another round. His chakra capacity was beginning to restore itself, so he would have to draw the fight out until he had enough.
Taro roared and charged again, actually bowling through the last Shadow Clone on his way to his target. Naruto channeled a small drop of chakra to his legs and burst forward as well, this time bringing up his wind-enhanced kunai to meet Taro's fist rather than dodge or block them.
Sparks flew when fist and kunai met, Taro's skin so hard that it seemed to simply brush off the blade, and the two engaged each other again and again, dodging and evading, attacking and defending, both men trying to find some break in the others defense.
Finally, Naruto felt his chakra reach a high enough level, and decided that it was time to finish this. Jumping back, Naruto created eight more Shadow Clones, which then charged towards Taro. Seeing this, Taro growled, "Oh, not this time, brat!" Before slamming his foot on the ground, causing the earth around him to erupt into lines of columns before they propelled forward, demolishing the Clones.
But it was already too late.
While Taro was busy with his Shadow Clones, Naruto held his hand out, closed his eyes, and began channeling his chakra. First, he gathered his chakra and made a spinning ball of energy. Then, he began molding its shape, compressing the energy until it was about the size and shape of a bowling ball. Finally, he opened his eyes to see Taro rushing at him again.
This time, Naruto did not meet the charge. Instead, he stood his ground, rearing back the arm that held the swirling energy, and then thrusting it forward to meet Taro's oncoming fist.
Korra was a wreck. They were almost in sight of Air Temple Island now, but still she was panicking.
She never should have left.
Of course the Equalists would attack the Air Temple at some point. Amon himself had basically told her that she was enemy number 1 to them.
Now, they could see the Temple, and Korra felt her heart clench; it was on fire. The fire wasn't anything large, or massive enough to engulf the island, and could probably be easily repaired later, but it was still a clear sign that there was indeed an attack taking place.
Korra felt a stab of cold guilt in her heart. She should have been there!
If the Equalists were after her, nowhere was completely safe, because according to Tarrlok, they had sympathizers everywhere in Republic City. Korra didn't want to believe it, but this attack likely meant that someone in the city had informed the Equalists where she was staying.
This was all her fault, she should have seen something like this coming, and because she didn't, Tenzin and his family were going to pay the price.
But before Korra could continue he self-destructive train of thought, she was interrupted by a sudden, blinding light that was coming from the courtyard.
Almost as quickly as it appeared, it was gone again, and Korra could only blink a few times before finally coming back to herself again.
"What was that?" Bolin asked, his voice slightly higher than usual.
"I don't know, but we're gonna find out," Korra replied.
Whatever that attack was, he had never seen or felt anything like it in his life. He had always been the strongest, the toughest, but that one attack had just broken through all of his defenses like they weren't even there!
He had always hated backing out, but at this point, there was no way that he could still win. Not with the airship coming in to.
The boy was now lying unconscious on the ground, apparently exhausted from whatever that attack was, and had no way of fighting back now.
However, before he could get any closer to him, a massive, honest-to-Spirits Polar-Bear dog had barreled into the way, letting out a vicious growl, as if it was just daring him to try his luck.
Taro was honestly tempted to test his chances, before he saw the airbender approaching out of the corner of his eye, and he knew that he had lost.
With one last hateful glare at the brat, dearly wishing that he had enough time to grind the bones in the boy's body to dust, Taro snarled, "This is not over," before heading back to the ship to report to headquarters.
There were very few times in his life that Tenzin could honestly say that he was speechless, but this was one of them.
What on Earth was this boy? Had he actually used an airbending technique?
If he had, what did that mean? Was that the reason the Outsider sent the boy here? To help Korra unlock her airbending abilities? Or was it for some other reason altogether?
Even if he was sent here for his odd airbending abilities -because the last time he had checked, air didn't cut- how was she supposed to learn from him? Because Tenzin didn't have the slightest clue how the boy was able to do it.
And that wasn't even starting on that bright...thing that the boy used to finish the fight.
"Tenzin!" He turned, and saw Korra running up to him along with her friends, still in their pro-bending gear. Good, she hadn't been involved in this. Still, he'd best make sure.
"Where you hurt, Korra?" Almost as soon as the question was out of his mouth, he knew that there was no point in asking.
"I'm fine," Korra said, a tad gruffly.
"We're fine, too," said one of the boys, although he didn't really seem that irritated.
"Tenzin, what happened?" Korra exclaimed, looking for all the world as if she would burst if she didn't get some kind of answer soon.
"Perhaps we should tend to our guest first," Tenzin replied, glancing over to the boy, still being guarded almost protectively by Naga.
Seeing the boy for the first time, Korra's eye widened, before silently nodding, apparently realizing that the best thing they could do now was wait for the boy to wake up.
Turning to see his wife and children approaching them, the children still looking slightly shell-shocked, Tenzin realized that he owed the boy a lot more than his life.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it. As I said, this has been the first extended action sequence of any kind I've ever written, so I'm not sure if it turned out as well as it could have. Also, sorry if the Naruto/Pema interaction felt a bit rushed, but I didn't want it to drag on for too long. Finally, yes, Taro is an OC, and he (and one more) is going to have a major role in the story, but I have taken great care in trying to avoid all the traps you typically get with OC's, and had nothing but the story in mind when I came up with them.
Unfortunately, at this point the updates are probably going to slow down a little, because in the chapters after this, Naruto will be interacting with the Korra characters directly, and I want to be sure I've got their characters down right before posting anything more.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and thank you for your time!