They were all going to die.
Somehow, this brought comfort to Korra as she sat in her dark little corner, knees drawn up to her chest. She gave a quiet cough, spitting out some blood onto the dark stone beneath her feet. Amon had been particularly brutal during his last play session with her. With each breath, she felt her chest shifting and aching. Probably some crushed ribs. Maybe some punctured organs. She wasn't sure any more. Her body had become a mass of aches and pains since the day Amon had ambushed her and the others at the air bending temple. Her heart clenched painfully as she thought of that moment in time. The chaos. The screaming. Spirits, the screaming. She curled further into herself as she tried to rid herself of the memories. It was wishful thinking.
She slowly raised her head up as she heard her cell door opening. Squinting against the sudden light, she pushed her back further into the wall as one of those filthy equalist approached her. He was wearing one of those chi blocking gloves, one that Amon liked to use on her frequently. She had become convinced that the man not only wanted to rid people of their bending powers, but he wanted to rid the world of benders physically as well. His mission had become twisted and his actions more so. She had seen young children slaughtered before her very eyes.
He liked to make her watch.
Her body was numb as the equalist picked her up and pulled her along. In the beginning, she would have fought, tried to escape, to rescue those who were still alive. But now, she just tried to keep her head held up high. She had no energy to fight. No will to fight. After all this time (months, years, decades?) she had simply tired herself out. Amon had truly bested her. Had truly broken her.
The Great Avatar Korra was no more.
Her eyes shut against the bright light as they entered a larger room. There was a crowd gathered and her stomach churned at the whispers. She felt like an animal on display as the equalist walked her along the middle path, up towards where Amon was standing. Korra knew what was coming.
For the most part, Amon enjoyed doing the slaughtering by himself. He derived some sort of sick pleasure from it. But there were a select few incidences in which Amon let someone else do the killing.
She swallowed the bile in her throat as she opened her eyes. Her breath caught in her throat and she stopped as she looked at who was on the platform, kneeling at Amon's feet like some dirty slave.
Her voice was broken as she said his name. He looked up at her, his face shallow and covered in infected cuts. His head was shaved and she would have not recognized him had he not flashed his trade mark smirk and looked at her with those cool eyes. But they seemed faint, as if his spirit was barely tethered to his body.
Before she realized it, she had torn away from the equalist, not bothering to notice how easy it was. All she could think about was him, getting to him. She flew to his side and her arms wrapped around him in a loose hug (the chains connecting her wrists wouldn't let her get very far). He was so thin and frail and it made her choke on a sob.
"Hey Uh-vatar," he rasped.
"Tahno," She whispered, reaching up to stroke his cheek, not caring if she got his seeping blood on her fingers. "Oh Spirits, Tahno." She had thought he was dead. Like the others. "No, no, I can't do this." Tears were streaming down her face. He only gave another smirk and leaned over, kissing her tears away gently.
"Please Korra," he murmured in her ear. "I'm already gone. Give me peace."
"But then I'll be alone." She pleaded. Images flashed through her head. Mako. Bolin. Tenzin. Lin. Amon had made her take them all. He had relished in her weeping over their bodies. Of having to strike that final blow.
"You're never alone Korra." Tahno managed to find the strength to raise his hands and gently cup her face, thumbs wiping away her tears. "You always have us close to you, in your heart." She shut her eyes as she heard a dull thud beside her. They always gave her a chi blocking glove and a blade beside her. They wanted her to have a choice on how she could kill them. Slowly she opened her eyes and stared back at Tahno. "All right." She managed. "What do you want?" She asked softly, fingers trembling. She knew what he wanted. They had all wanted the blade. It was quick, easy, and painless.
"You decide. I know whatever you chose will be merciful." Korra nodded numbly at his words. She picked up the decorative blade, the weight familiar in her hands. "I always loved you Tahno." She confessed. They had hooked up all the time, when the lonliness had gotten too much for them. But they had never said anything about their feelings towards each other. It had been obvious they cared for each other, but never to the extent of love. She turned to face him. He was smiling at her.
A sad, pathetic smile that made her want to twist this knife into her own gut. "I always loved you too Korra. I'm sorry that I never told you sooner." She put a finger to his lips. "No. No regrets." She smirked back at him despite the tears still streaming down her face.
"No regrets." He took in a breath as she pressed the tip of the blade between his ribs. "I still believe in you Korra." He whispered, closing his eyes. And as she pushed the metal into his flesh, twisting it to get a killing blow, a look of peace settled onto his face. She had managed to relieve his pain and suffering at last.
As his body collapsed, she pulled the knife from him and draped herself on top of him, ignoring the blood gushing from the wound. She put her ear on his chest, as if listening for a breath or heartbeat. But there was only silence.
No. Wait. There wasn't.
There was the sound of her crying, of her screaming, echoing through the grand hall. It wasn't fair, that she could relieve their pain, but she couldn't relieve her own suffering. She looked up at Amon's masked face and she felt her anger mounting. All the anger and pain she had felt suddenly came rushing towards her.
"You bastard." She hissed before everything went black.
"Korra, it's getting late."
"I know Meelo. I'll be just a second longer."
Korra moved to kneel down at the tombstone, tracing over the characters that marked this as Tahno's final resting place. It had been ten years since his death, since all of their deaths, and it still hurt. Tahno's death had been enough to push her over the edge and unlock her Avatar state. Amon was no more. The equalists had been dismantled and scattered. Benders and non benders had come together to fight the cruelty of Amon and his followers. It had been bittersweet and sometimes overwhelming guilt would wrack her. But she had carried on, keeping the memories of her loved ones close.
She placed a single panda lily on his grave. Like she had for the rest of the graves. A couple of tear drops splattered onto the smooth stone that she had carved herself. Finally she was able to pull herself up and head back where Meelo and Ikki were standing. They were teenagers now but in body only. Both of them were wiser beyond their years and it hurt her that they were forced to grow up so fast. She hugged them tightly and they hugged her back.
"He's still with you, you know." Ikki whispered. She nodded. "I know." She licked her lips. "C'mon. Let's go inside before it starts snowing." She turned her head and paused for a moment. Perhaps it was a trick of her eyes, but she swore that she saw Tahno leaning against the gravemarker. He was smirking at her, giving her a two fingered salute. And she could see his mouth moving.
/"See you around, Uh-vatar."/
She gave a trembling smile. "See ya, pretty boy."