Chapter 52 : The Southern Prison
"Who...who are you?" The man asked, unsure of his surroundings. Pain and agony wreathed through his body as he realized that he was blindfolded as well. His face, like the rest of him, was buried beneath a mountain of bandages.
"You were hurt in your last battle" The visitor said matter-of-factly. "We are transferring you to the interior for further treatment, but the engagement you took part in has piqued the interests of some higher ups. I'd like to know more myself."
"Sir?" The man asked, slightly confused, but assuming that the visiting figure was someone of importance.
"Let's start from the beginning." The figure said patiently, leaning in over the officer. "Tell me what you saw."
It was a full moon tonight, and the sergeant of the watch grumbled impatiently as he and his men made their rounds on the outer fort walls, hoping the time would pass faster during their shift. These nights were usually more trouble than they were worth and extra precautions were taken with the waterbending prisoners in the Prison. Just before dusk, they were all quarantined in solitary, their arms and legs chained to the walls so that they could not move for the rest of the night and make use of the moon's power. It was an uncomfortable experience, causing many to collapse in exhaustion the next day, but it was a necessary precaution against them. As much the firebending guards loved to lord over their helpless prisoners, none of them relished the prospect of facing a waterbender powered by the light of a full moon, and with the recent influx of new prisoners, the warden didn't want to tempt the chances of a rebellion, no matter how broken spirited the water benders were.
The rumors of the recent riot and revolt in one of the outer colonies made the precautions even more necessary, and many of the guards were more cautious around their stations than usual. Despite that, many believed that the waterbenders who may have broken free would not dare attack the prison while they had their families locked up, nor could they hope to take down the most powerfully constructed fortress in the land. Indeed,the image of a bunch of desperate water tribals howling uselessly at the gates would have brought a smile to any of the guardsman's faces, and that knowledge was what gave the Fire Nation soldiers of the out gate comfort while they surveyed the frozen tundra from the safety of their tower.
The sergeant of the watch shared that confidence in his watch, so much so that he did not notice as two of his soldiers overlooking the ramparts disappear wordlessly over the wall and onto the snow banks below. As he retreated to his quarters inside the tower, another one of his guards, a heavily armored pikeman turned to see a shadow scale over the wall where the two soldiers had previously been. As he lowered his pike and prepared to shout a warning, a tendril of water shot forward trapping his scream in a case of ice that wrapped around his mouth and face. The water whip then retracted back, wrapping itself around the legs of another guardsman, sweeping him off his feet and onto the stone floor, out cold.
"What's going on?" The sergeant turned and to his shock, instead of his squad of guards, he saw two young waterbenders dressed in the dark blue tunics of the Wolf Tail Warriors.
The sergeant's eyes darted quickly toward the alarm panel, which was just feet away from him. His instincts took hold and without a word, he sprinted for it, but before he even took his first step, he felt his arm seizing up uncontrollably as he reached out to push the button on the console. The soldier struggled and groaned, but he soon found himself falling to the floor like a huge weight had been dropped onto his body, his muscles and tendons constricting against his will.
"Don't even think about it." Noatak said in a low menacing voice, his body already in a bloodbending stance.
The man could only gurgle helplessly in response as he felt the fluids and bone crushing together inside his body, which caused even Tarrlok to flinch.
"Tarrlok, disable the alarms."
"Yes...brother." The younger waterbender said uneasily as he ran past the sprawling man to cut the power from the alarms on their section of the wall.
Tarrlok hated conflict. He never relished fighting the same way Noatak and Korra did sometimes, and the bloodbending seemed to bring out a different side to his brother, one that he almost didn't recognize. This was Noatak the Blood Wolf, the one who had fought against the entire prison all those months ago, and defeated the Avatar in single combat to save him.
It was truly terrifying how different he could be with the Full Moon.
"It's done." Tarrlok said as quickly he used his waterbending to freeze the alarm panel solid, flooding the console with water before solidifying it, bursting it apart with shards of ice.
"Good." Noatak then relaxed the grip on his fist to mercifully release the guard from his bloodbending and into blessed unconsciousness. All around the wall, the White Lotus waterbenders had also began infiltrating the other guard towers, stealthily taking out the Warden's guards and disabling their alarm systems in turn just as Noatak and Tarrlok had just done.
It was a plan that Zuko and Tonraq had worked out between them, with their intimate knowledge of the prison fortress and its defenses. Although Noatak didn't have too much trouble breaking into the prison by himself all those months back, he appreciated that it was more difficult with such a large group of people, especially if their goal was to liberate the entire camp.
He could only pray that nothing would go wrong.
"Come on Tarrlok, let's move on to the gatehouse."
Korra hated waiting. She wasn't sure whether it was because she was uneasy about having other people risk their lives for her, or if it was because waiting meant relying on the vast quantities of patience that the spirits had neglected to gift her with. Piandao and Zuko had explained the plan thoroughly as they had made their way to the main compound. The White Lotus troops who could waterbend (along with Noatak and Tarrlok) were to sneak up to the watch towers and walls, disabling the outer defenses and opening the gates for the rest of the White Lotus. From there, they would infiltrate and assault the heavily defended inner compound, freeing the prisoners and toppling the Warden once and for all..
Still, as much as she hated waiting, Korra had to admit that without waterbending or firebending, she was pretty disadvantaged in taking the stealth approach. Sure, her earth and metal bending could go a long way inside the steel compound, but she doubted she could do it all quietly.
Initially, she was anxious as Noatak and Tarrlok started climbing up the steel walls using nothing but their waterbending, enveloping their arms in ice and using it as climbing hooks to move along the wall to the gatehouse, but her fears were put to rest quickly as she watched the brothers quickly take out the guard tower, and she cringed at seeing Noatak use his bloodbending on that soldier.
Although she was glad that they were on her side now, seeing someone else subjected to it sent chills down her spine (having been the unfortunate victim of blood bending twice already) . If she ever learned how to waterbend properly, she would make a note to never even try bloodbending.
It didn't take long before the lights in the gatehouse went off as well, signalling their success. If everything went according to plan, the gates would be the next to open.
"That's the signal." Zuko nodded as several more search lights and alarm lights on the outer towers flickered out one by one. Behind him, were several squads of White Lotus guards, readying themselves for the coming assault.
"Finally..." Korra uttered to herself.
"I thought the warden would have had more of his troops here." Tonraq remarked, taking his place at the head of the newly-liberated Water Tribe warriors that were at the mining site with him.
Piandao chuckled softly at the remark, his breath misting in the night air. "It helps when you've supervised the base defenses for a few years. Plus, thanks to rumors of your uprising our agents have been spreading, the Warden had decided to send out his troops to the rest of the encampments to watch the other prisoners. What we'll meet here will be a fraction of his total force." Piandao said confidently.
"You guys really have thought everything through..." Korra remarked, somewhat impressed. A part of her still felt uneasy though, from her limited experience in the field, everything seemed to be going a little bit too smoothly.
Piandao smiled serenely at that statement. "There's one more card up our sleeve, but that can wait until we reach the inner fort."
As if on cue, the great gears that worked the main gates leading into the steel compound slowly came to life, opening up the way to the outer courtyard of the massive prison fort, as well as revealing a very familiar pair of Waterbenders standing inside the walls.
"The way's clear." Noatak gave Korra and Zuko a quick nod, his arms encased in tendrils of water. While behind him, several unconscious Fire Nation Guards were pinned against the wall by blocks of ice. Tarrlok himself was guarding over them, making sure that they were truly disabled and unable to warn the other guards.
"Good work." Zuko remarked, unsheathing his dual daos. The rest of the group, a mixture of White Lotus soldiers and newly-liberated Water Tribe Prisoners followed anxiously. This was the most delicate part of the plan. If they were discovered now, the Fire Nation guards would have them all penned between the outer and inner walls, turning the narrow corridor into a virtual shooting gallery.
Gripping the hilt of her Fire Nation jian tightly, Korra couldn't help but feel a little nauseous at the situation. She had dreamed all her life of freeing the camp and her family, but to actually go through with it, to face the Warden at last, almost made her sick to the stomach. They only had one shot at this, and failure was not an option. What if they failed?
Her nervousness was not lost on Tonraq.
"You'll do fine Korra. Just stay close to me." Tonraq said reassuringly, brandishing a water tribe club that he had taken from the campsite, "We'll save your mother together."
"Thanks Dad." Korra replied with a smile, and even Naga joined in, giving Korra a reassuring lick on her cheek before taking a place beside her. Zuko, led the charge, while Noatak and Tarrlok followed, both arms covered in water. Their boots crunching on the soft snow as they burst into the courtyard, intent on saving their families and comrades and ending the warden's reign once and for all.
It was difficult to watch one's allies being bested so...easily. Even if they were sloppy.
Although the South Pole wasn't known for the quality of their soldiers, the Warden and his guards at least had maintained their reputation as the most secure compound outside of the boiling rock; which was what made the White Lotus' infiltration all the more impressive; At least, that was what they identified themselves as from the ones she had interrogated.
The revelation disturbed Asami greatly, if these White Lotus agents were able to somehow sneak agents past the Sentinels, then where else would they be? How deep did this conspiracy go?
That was a question however, for another day, and most likely for Azula's Dai Li Sentinels, who specialized in rooting out internal dissidents and traitors. From what she knew so far, the Warden was busy in his office, interrogating a prisoner, completely ignorant to the events unfolding outside. So it would be up to her Sentinels now to pick up the slack.
Most of the outer towers and guards had already fallen without a sound or hint of detection, and most of the alarms had already been disabled. At this rate, the intruders would catch the bulk of the Warden's troops unawares.
But not if she could help it.
The squad she had was sent ahead by Zhenjin and they moved with precision and speed in the dark, split into four groups of two. Their black and crimson armor melded almost seamlessly into the night. So much so that the squad of White Lotus agents assigned to take out the final Watch Tower didn't see them advance on them soon after taking out the Fire Nation guards.
They were dealt with murderously fast. The first White Lotus guard felt a quick flash of pain through his throat as a Sentinel slammed her fist sharply into his adam's apple, conjuring up a quick fire dagger that pierced through his neck and cauterizing his windpipe shut. The man barely had time to move his hands up to vainly try and reopen his airway before the second guard was hit with three knives buried in the back of his head.
The final guard noticed the attack too late, and as he conjured up water from the surrounding ice and falling snow to form a water whip, a gloved hand grabbed the whip in mid air, shocking the water and wrapping the bender in blue swathes of electricity that paralyzed the man on the spot. The last thing he saw was a sliver of a black blade that came swinging down...
The three White Lotus guards stood still for a second, almost staring at each other in disbelief, before simultaneously crumpling down onto the ground in a mangled heap.
"Well done." Asami said approvingly to her squad mates as she sheathed the black blade. "Spread out, I want the rest of this compound secured."
The other sentinels nodded wordlessly, splitting up into their groups and vanishing into the night.
Asami gave a satisfied smile, then pressed the button on the alarm console.
It only took a second for the entire prison compound to come to life.
Sirens blared, alarm lights flashed, and the searchlights of the inner wall towers lit up the courtyard, revealing the group of intruders within the walls. It didn't take long before the Warden's officers began shouting for reinforcements, and already, platoons of crimson armored soldier, armed with swords and spears, were making their way down the walls to subdue them.
"Well, so much for the element of surprise." Tarrlok shouted above the wailing of the alarms, taking the moment to melt the snow at his feet and turn them into water whips that enveloped his arms. Noatak did the same as well.
They would need all the water they could get if they even had a hope of fighting their way out of this.
"One of the groups must have been discovered." Piandao frowned, pointing out the obvious and scanning the walls for any sign of the enemy whilst unsheathing his jian to prepare for the oncoming waves of Fire Nation soldiers.
Zuko too, wondered who had set off the alarm, but that point was moot had barely set foot inside the compound and already the plan was the first casualty, but that didn't mean the opportunity was gone.
Wasting no time, Zuko turned to rest of the group.
"Every Prison has a central control room that unlocks all the cells," Zuko explained, "We just need to reach it and lift the lockdown on the Waterbenders. After that, we'll have numbers on our side. They should be able to turn the tables in this fight."
Tonraq nodded in agreement. "That's true, but now that they know we're here, the Warden will most likely lock down every door and passageway in the prison block. It'll be tough to get through that."
"We can help." Noatak added, volunteering himself and his brother for the task, to which Tarrlok nodded somewhat anxiously. "We can use our waterbending to break down the locks."
Tarrlok nodded in agreement. "We've done it before!"
"That works boys, but it takes too much time." Tonraq remarked plainly, "By the time you get to the control room, the guards will have overwhelmed us here." Even though it had been years since he held a battlefield command, Tonraq was familiar enough about the grim calculation of troop numbers to realize that their efforts at putting up resistance was on borrowed time at best, unless they got help very soon.
"I can do it."
All four of them turned to Korra, who stepped forward to volunteer.
"I can still earthbend and metalbend." She explained. "It'll be a lot quicker if I come with you guys, I can bust down all the warden's defenses, and I know my way through the base."
Tonraq and Noatak were both uneasy about the suggestion at first. Although Korra was more than able in a fight, she still hadn't fully recovered from her wounds against Rho. The risk was great, and as much as they didn't want to admit it, they knew that she was right. A metal bender would be too great of an asset to ignore inside a steel prison.
It was Zuko ultimately, who made the call.
"Alright." The former Prince conceded. "But stick close to us. You're in no condition to fight solo after that last battle."
Korra found herself frowning at that remark. Sure she was a little banged up and still lacking two of her elements, but that didn't make her useless!
"We'll keep an eye on her." Noatak added helpfully, and even Tarrlok gave a determined nod to that.
Another awkward moment of silence descended upon the group, as if Zuko was gauging the chances of their success.
Finally, he relented. "Fine, we'll proceed this way. Piandao will hold the courtyard as long as he can," Zuko gestured towards the brawl that was taking place around them. "Let's aim for the entrance."
"May the spirits watch over you." Piandao gave a perfunctory bow, wishing them all good luck.
By this point, the first of the prison guards had already emerged in the courtyard, and they charged right into the group of White Lotus, who responded in kind with water whips and flame blasts. It didn't take long before the entire courtyard descended into an all out brawl. Piandao, sword in hand, gave Zuko a firm nod before throwing himself into the nearest mass of fighting men, slashing swiftly and expertly with this sword, and clearing the path for the Avatar and her group.
Their plan set, the group quickly left the melee behind, and ran for the gate into the inner compound.
The Warden was beyond furious, clenching his teeth and fist as he digested the news and events.
One minute ago, he had been questioning his 'guest', and the next it seemed as though all hell had broken loose in his perfectly ordered world. First, it was the messenger, running into his office wide eyed and scared, reporting a surprise attack by an unknown enemy. Then came the explosions. The first blasts hit the prison, sending light tremors throughout the complex as fighting broke out along the outer walls and the courtyards. His men were scrambling to meet the attackers, who also seemed to have several firebenders among them, turncoat guards and traitors.
That last thought struck him hard, and he was reminded again of Korra and her betrayal. The fact that more of his men were seemingly plants and spies with the enemy infuriated him further. For years he had worked hard to build the perfect society in the colonies, and to that end, he took in applicants from all over the Fire Nation, refugees, criminals, and even colonials who wanted a fresh start. Under his benevolent and guiding hand, it was supposed to be the model of a perfect colony.
And the ungrateful colonials still took advantage of his leniency.
But never again.
After tonight, he would question each and every single one of the traitors and rebels who would be unlucky enough to be captured by his men. He'd find the source of the rebellion, whatever their organization was, and raze it to the ground. Then he would exterminate each and every last one of them along with their families, and with his own hands if need be.
With that thought, he turned to Senna.
The woman sat still in her chair, her wrists shackled onto the armrests while her body slumped forward. bruises and red smears lined her face, evidence of the brutal 'questioning' that the warden had put her through, and the only sign that she was still alive were the shallow and quick movements of her chest.
In his rage, he was almost tempted to finish the job, but decided against it, he had a defense to organize, and there would be time for more questioning after.
"We'll finish this later my dear." the Warden said grimly, not even bothering to wait and acknowledge a response before storming out of the room with his guards and slamming the iron door behind him.
Alone in the room, Senna could only whimper softly under her restraints, oblivious to the raging battle outside.
They had only managed to reach within fifty feet of the gate before meeting any serious resistance.
Two squads of Fire Nation troops formed up in a neat line guarding the main entrance into the inner compound, intent on stopping any of the intruders from breaking through. They were heavy regulars, outfitted in the skull mask and armor, representing the body of professional troops at the South Pole. They were veterans, fully confident at pushing back whatever was thrown their way.
What they didn't count on, however, was a twelve hundred pound rampaging pissed off Polar Bear Dog barreling straight at them at full speed.
The Fire Nation soldiers screamed in panic as Naga slammed into their formation, throwing a half dozen men into the air with as little effort as a child throwing a set of dolls.
Korra and Zuko didn't let the assembled soldiers recover. As they turned to put down Naga, the rest of the group was already upon them. Two soldiers went down wordlessly as Zuko flashed through them with his dual daos, taking them through the soft breaks in their armor along the arms and throat. Korra herself, dodged a fireblast with a sidestep, closing the distance to grab the soldier's metal gauntlet, pinning his arm to his helmet with her metal bending before sending the man down with a sweeping kick.
Tonraq and the two brothers finished the rest, blasting the remaining guards out of the way with a huge scythe of water, slamming them against the compound walls before freezing them on it with their bending.
"Keep moving!" Tonraq shouted as he led the charge. "We're almost-"
He got two more steps out before he suddenly felt his body jerking back, almost as if he were being pushed by an invisible force.
The answer came soon enough as two figures in jet black armor appeared beside Tonraq, their forms landing gracefully in the snow, almost like an acrobat. Tonraq spun around to water bend, but to his surprise, he couldn't even conjure up a drop of water to bend. That discovery was also mixed in with the blood that was gushing out from his sides.
Without another word, the great Chieftain fell onto the snow, clutching his wounds in pain.
Korra paused at the scene, at first it seemed surreal, everything happening too fast, the enemy moving in front of them like a graceful blur, but the sight of her father and his strong, massive frame collapsing onto the snow was enough to snap her out of her daydream.
Her eyes widened in horror, and she instinctively gunned it towards her Father's side, sword drawn, but Zuko grabbed her by the shoulders before she had a chance to advance any further, despite her thrashing protests.
It only took a moment to see why, and Korra's eyes settled uneasily at the sight in front of them.
Two black armored figures stood in their way, wordlessly wiping the blood off their swords, which smoked from the firebending that was channeled through them.
Like cold wraiths of war, they walked slowly and deliberately towards them in the snow, like hunters approaching their prey. They were the most deadly and feared force in the entire Phoenix Empire, Azula's personal guard, the Sentinels. The sight of these familiar figures was enough to prompt a spark of recognition in Korra, and of her friend Asami. She didn't see her in the compound, but the prospect of facing other warrior like her sent shivers down her spine.
But that was not Korra's immediate concern.
"Dad!" Korra shouted again, praying for some sign of life or response. She didn't care whether the entire Fire Nation army stood in her way, the only thing that concerned her in her mind was Tonraq's limp form in the snow.
Her father didn't budge from his spot even as he cried out to her.
"Let me go!" She eyed Zuko fiercely, but the Firebender kept his ironclad grip on her shoulder.
"Don't Korra." Zuko hissed under his breath, knowing the young Avatar's tendency to charge head on into whatever lay in her path. "Believe me, I want to help your father, but those are Sentinels. It won't do anyone any good if you're lying on the ground next to him."
At that point, Korra wish, now more than ever, that she at least had her Firebending, if even to buy the others some time to get her father out of that dangerous position between the two enemies.
"I can't just stand here and do nothing." Korra said in frustration.
"I know." Zuko said calmly, "I'm thinking..."
Time was running short thought as the Sentinels closed the distance between them, and Zuko momentarily contemplated letting Korra have her way and join her in a frontal charge on their assailants. If they were quick, and with proper support from the Water Tribe brothers, they could distract them long enough to save her father.
Before he could say anything, Zuko's train of thought was suddenly interrupted as the pair of Sentinels suddenly dropped to their knees, their whole bodies shuddering and convulsing under their black armor. And for once, even the vaunted Sentinels let out a sharp grunt of pain as they were being pinned down by some invisible force, their arms flailing slightly as they tried to reach for more weapons from their armor.
"You're not going anywhere." Zuko turned to his side, and to his surprise, he saw Noatak, his gaze focused and intense.
Noatak didn't say a word as he stepped forward, both arms outstretched to bloodbend and hold the Sentinels in place. Despite the power of the full moon though, Noatak was surprised to find that it was taking all of his mental concentration to just to hold down the two of them in place. Even with all the intense and throbbing pain that came with being bloodbent, the Sentinels were still struggling to reach for their weapons.
That kind of fierce determination and willpower to fight on surprised Noatak, were these two even human?
He didn't have time to find out. At that moment, the first Sentinel revealed what she had been reaching for in her armor pouch all along, a pair of spherical objects that resembled ball bearings that the armored figure let roll off her palms and to the ground.
Noatak barely had time to react before the flash bomb detonated, blinding the entire field in a brilliant flash of light and sound.
When the dust cleared, the Sentinels were gone, having made their escape. To Noatak's annoyance.
Korra however, was more concerned about her father, and she sprinted past Noatak with barely a word to check up on her father. Zuko followed suit, while Noatak instructed his younger brother to keep on the lookout for any further enemies. They may have driven the Sentinels off, but there was no telling when they would be back, or how many would be coming.
"Dad!" Korra knelt beside her father in the snow, shaking his shoulders in hopes of getting a reaction.
To her relief, her father returned her gaze with a pained smile. "Remind me to never take the lead again."
Rather than even giving a witty or sarcastic comeback, Korra hugged him even tighter, relief flowing through her.
Zuko meanwhile, was examining Tonraq's wounds with a professional air around him, having been the victim of a lot of wounds during his time in the field, he was the closest thing to an expert in the group.
"They chi-blocked him." Zuko said tersely as he examined the light bruises all over tonraq's arms and torso; he was all too familiar with this handiwork. "He won't be able to bend for a while."
"Can you heal him?" Korra asked, noticing all the cuts over her dad's arms with concern.
"I can't, but I can stop the bleeding," Zuko said in a low voice, his intent clear as he produced a small, intense flame at the tip of his finger. "He's not going to like it."
"I've had worse." Tonraq put on a brave front and trying to stand up, gritting his teeth as though he were willing his body to move through the pain, but to no avail, he fell back helplessly on the snow. His strength still drained by the chi blocking.
"You need to rest for a few minutes while the chi block wears off." Zuko said, much to Tonraq's exasperation. The Waterbender then flinched in pain as Zuko began his work, sealing off the most egregious wounds with some well applied firebending, which almost caused Tonraq to faint on the spot.
His work done, Zuko turned to Korra and the two brothers.
"I'll take care of your father Korra, go on ahead, we'll catch up." Zuko promised, while gesturing at the opened gates for the trio. "We'll deal with any reinforcements that come our way, and provide the main distraction for you. Get to the control room and lift the lockdown! It's our only hope of ending this."
"Don't worry about me Korra." Tonraq said reassuringly. "I'm in good hands." The old chieftain gestured towards Zuko, who returned a determined nod to the Avatar.
"On my honor. I'll protect him with my life." The prince said seriously.
"Naga will also help!" Tarrlok offered, and the Polar Bear Dog, sensing Tonraq's importance to Korra, took a protective stance around the fallen chieftain.
Despite the touching sentiment, Korra still seemed hesitant to leave her father's side, but Noatak yanked on her shoulder, knowing they didn't have much time.
"We don't have much time Avatar Korra," Noatak used the title on purpose, hoping to remind her that she had greater responsibilities at this moment than simply guarding her father. "A whole prison is waiting on you, along with your mother."
Korra clenched her fists, almost cursing fate for putting her in a situation like this. But she quickly realized that if this plan was going to go anywhere, she had to start trusting her friends as much as they trusted her.
"Alright." She said fiercely, standing back up on her feet and nodding at Noatak.
"Uh guys..." Tarrlok shouted a warning, pointing towards the outer gates, where more Firebending troops were emerging, along with another pair of black armored Sentinels. "There's more coming!"
"Let's go!" Noatak ordered, taking the lead as Korra and Tarrlok followed behind.
"Don't die on me." Korra shouted fiercely at Tonraq as she started running off with Noatak and Tarrlok. "You hear me!"
"Good luck!" Tonraq shouted after his daughter, fierce pride flowing through him as she watched her enter the complex, leaving him alone in the courtyard with Zuko.
"I'm sorry I can't be of use right now..." Tonraq grunted apologetically to Zuko. He was still weakened from his wounds, and he hated himself for the fact that he had been surprised so easily by the enemy.
"No need." Zuko said stoically. "Just sit back and watch."
Zuko then gave Naga an uneasy look. He was never good with Animals.
"And you...uh...stay girl?"
To his surprise, Naga gave an obedient bark and a lick to his scarred face, then she planted herself right between Tonraq and the oncoming guards.
That gave Zuko some measure of comfort. If all else failed, Naga would be the last line of defense while Tonraq healed his wounds, and from how easily he saw the creature take apart a firebending platoon. She was more than enough protection.
With those details taken care of, Zuko actually flashed a smile as he brandished his dual daos, rushing head long into the Elite of Azula's bodyguards.
By this point the walls of the inner fortress were in chaos. The peacefulness of the night sky was broken by the clanging of steel mixed in with the blasts of fire and the screams of men. A small group of intruders had breached the prison, and already the warden assumed his spot at the top of his central tower, directing squads and reinforcements to the areas that needed them the most. His outer towers had fallen, and if he wanted any hope of restoring order, he would need to retake them.
While the fight was raging on, the warden also recognized the need for reinforcements. Outside of the prison, he had spread the bulk of his troop strength to the outer forts and compounds, thinking that they would be attacked first rather than his main fortress. The priority now, was to recall them all back.
That task, fell ultimately on the final Fire Nation General.
"Sir." One of the prison guards was running up, wide eyed and anxious at the sudden attack. "The Warden has orders, you are to send word to our outposts and recall our men back. With luck, we can assemble all our strength by morning."
The old general, a well built man with a thick beard and goatee, nodded in acknowledgment. "That will allow the Warden to crush the rebellion easily then."
"Yes." The soldier nodded. "Only if we move now."
"I'm afraid that won't be necessary sergeant." The old General said calmly.
The Fire Nation soldier raised his eyebrow at that statement. "Wait,what-"
He didn't say anything more as the General swept him to the side with a powerful firebending kick, knocking the surprised trooper out cold. The rest of the surprised guards barely had time to react as they were taken down around them by more of the General's men, these ones wearing the dark blue and white tunic of the White Lotus.
The old man smiled slyly, lifting the hood of his uniform to take in the fresh night air, almost in serene contemplation.
The world had truly changed.
For the first time in the history of their order, they had come out of hiding. But if the new Avatar was to even have a hope succeeding, they would have to play their part, now more than ever.
By the time his men had finished dispatching the guards, new footsteps echoed in the steel hallway before them. Three Water Tribe youths entered the iron halls, and even from far away, he saw that it was the Avatar and her new wards, right on schedule.
With that, Jeong Jeong gave a simple smile and moved forward to meet them.
The White Lotus always had an extra ace up their sleeve.
Asami frowned as she watched the battle unfold beneath her. Although her Sentinels were doing a good job containing the intruders, she was irritated by the fact that two of them were appearing before her, empty handed.
"We had some trouble at the gate." The Sentinel reported hesitantly. Although Azula's guards usually showed no emotion, they feared reporting failure more than any enemy they had faced. Asami too, wondered what was it that caused two of Azula's elite guards to back away with their tails between their legs.
"It was a bloodbender." The other Sentinel reported gruffly, still sluggish from the encounter at the inner gate.
That was a concern. Asami thought.
"Are you sure?" She demanded.
"Yes Mistress." The Sentinel bowed her head even lower, not even daring to see whether Asami would take that as a valid excuse or not.
Asami herself, was troubled by this revelation. Bloodbending was supposed to be an urban myth, something cooked up by desperate Water Tribals as a miracle weapon to win the war, but never something she saw in practice personally. She couldn't help but remember back to that conversation she had with Korra, who was describing one such opponent when they first met.
That seemed so long ago now...she sighed.
If it was a bloodbender they were facing, she would have to find some way to block their chi. To get in close before they could unleash their deadly power.
The other Sentinel lifted her head up, as though she weren't finished.
"There's something else Mistress." The warrior said. "We saw her with the Bloodbender, along with Prince Zuko..."
"Who?" Asami asked, her interest piqued. Prince Zuko! One of the most wanted figures in the Empire, conspiring with this so called White Lotus organization? That would interest Azula all right...
However, it was the next name that hit Asami hard.
"Your friend. Private Korra."
Asami almost reeled back at that revelation, as if she had be struck by a visceral blow. No, it can't be.
Her mind went back to the aftermath of the battle at Yu Dao, how they had both fought against the Earth Kingdom General, and destroyed his airship. It was a great triumph, one where she hoped Korra would be recognized for her efforts at last by the Phoenix Lord and her generals. But by the time she woke up from the healing tents, Korra was gone. Deserting the army without so much as a word for her.
Then it occured to her: if Korra was here, then where in spirits name was Mako and his raiders? Weren't they supposed to be tracking her down?
Asami sighed. Regardless, this was an opportunity. Was the enemy blackmailing her somehow? Planting in her some false hope that freeing her parents would solve everything? Prince Zhenjin could have arranged something just as easily had she asked! No...there must be something else to this. Asami thought. There has to be...
"Take care of Zuko." Asami said coldly. "I'll head to the inner compound myself."
"As you command. Mistress." The two sentinels bowed low, then vanished just as quickly over the side of the walls.
With that settled, Asami unsheathed her patented black blade sword, and stared intensely at the main prison compound.
Korra, I hope you're okay. But if you are in there. I'm coming for you...
She gripped the handle of her sword tight.
Whether you're with us, or are against us.
A/N: R.I.P Robin Williams :(. Other than that, not much to say on this chapter. I originally meant to make the chapter longer, but it would be probably end up being 14k words long, so I've decided to split this chapter into two updates. Meaning hopefully the next update can come a little bit quicker!
Also, just saw the new Korra ep fr last week. WOW book three is aiming to be the best in the series i think, almost tying with book 3 of the original IMO. finale this Friday. Can't wait!
Thanks all for the reads and reviews :) they really keep me going! The next arc is one i'm dying to write, so two more chapters to wrap up the prison...and then we'll move onto there!
To those i can't PM
tinttloo: Thanks! Naruto is looking to finish up soon, can't wait to see how it goes!
Rashest: Thanks! Hopefully i can meet the expectations next chapters! As for Mako's mom, this story was made after book 1, so yeah, I will leave that to your imagination. His mom will have little to no part to play in the story, and I've assigned another character to be his dad. Sorry for the confusion on New Ozai, in this AU, since Omashu was retaken by bumi and became the Southern Earth Kingdom. New Ozai is the story's equivalent of Republic city, tried to draw that parallel.
Bolin will appear in the story, and i plan on making him very different from tarrlok :)
Uzu chan : Glad you are liking it all haha. the prison goes for two more chapters, in a sense, this chapter was a set up for the confrontation. But hope you enjoy the ride!
Guest: I suck at shipping, so most likely no, but if it happens organically within the story...maybe i'll include something!
Guest 444: She lost her firebending similar to zuko, having changed sides and losing her initial drive to Firebend (which was becoming a kickass soldier of the FN) and her imbalance. Probably no love interests...unless it helps the story!