Changing one little thing about the Korraverse: Unalaq and the visitors of the Northern Water Tribe never make it to the festival. Neither does Varrick.
Korra's eyes stared out of the tiny window in their cabin to the sea. She had been afraid at first after hearing of the missing ships that were attacked by strange creatures in the water. One had even attacked her uncle from the Northern Water Tribe's ship. When she returned to the Southern Water Tribe, Korra was surprised to find out that her uncle Unalaq and the many visitors from the north would have to stop short of arriving in time for the Glacier Spirits festival because of problems with their ship. Apparently whatever it was that was out at sea attacked the large vessel and Unalaq was able to quell its anger long enough for them to get away, but whatever damage had been done to the ship, or possibly the crew, had left it in need of maintenance and a break before it arrived at its destination in the south. Apparently many of the passengers wanted off and did not wish to return using the same route, many opting for traveling through the mainland as far as they could go and taking ferries or smaller vessels only when absolutely necessary.
The very thought of a tribe of waterbenders fearful of the sea made Korra cringe. It was definitely unsettling news.
Korra spent her time back home with family and friends as she relaxed from her airbending training. Little did she know that the reason why she enjoyed her stay in the Southern Water Tribe was because her father Tonraq and her mentor Tenzin did not have to vie for her attention against Unalaq. Instead, when they were ready to leave, Korra was relaxed and refreshed, and even a little less upset with Mako for not having all of the answers to her problems. She knew that she couldn't expect something like that from her boyfriend or she'd risk ruining their relationship. It wasn't right to expect that from anyone, nobody is perfect.
"We're almost there, aren't you excited?"
Korra looked up from her thoughts at the sound of her friend's voice and grinned. Asami was dressed in tight, tan leather pants with brown boots and a maroon-red aviation jacket with fur trim around the neck. She had deep, onyx hair and bright green eyes that shimmered in the dim light of the cabin. Her full lips were pulled tight into a knowing grin as she leaned against the frame of the open doorway into the cabin, looking in on the virgin explorer. Asami was a real looker, and Korra had once been a bit self-conscious about her own appearance around the pretty girl, but in time their friendship cleared away any doubts she might have once had about herself.
Especially considering that she was now seriously dating the boy that they had both had strong feelings for. Talk about a confidence booster.
"Definitely," she said holding that same grin for a moment longer. It faded as a questioning look appeared on her face, her head tilting just slightly, as she asked, "Say, Asami. Have you ever been to the new world?"
Asami nodded and said, "This is actually going to be my second trip, yeah… curious about what's on the other side?"
A smile returned full-force as she leaned up against the small window in their shared cabin. She nodded and said, "It's just so incredible that there was a whole other world and civilization right across the sea. And we never knew about it…" She sighed in wonder as she saw them passing the very last of the islands of 'Mizu no Kuni' (Land of Water). "It's impressive… I know I asked earlier, but I heard that you made it all of the way out here on your own from Mako. He said that he and Bolin helped you on your latest Biplane?" Korra turned her head to look at the girl inquisitively as the tone of her voice implied she wasn't all that certain about what she had heard.
Asami smiled and nodded, "Yeah. Bolin was helping me at first and later invited Mako over to help out too since he had said he was interested in learning how the biplanes worked."
Korra's brow rose in surprise, "And you're alright with that? I mean… isn't it a company secret or something?"
Asami shook her head, "I don't care if any of you guys know. I trust all of you. Besides, if Mako or Bolin decide they want to start making biplanes and they want to compete against me, well, good luck; if they try it they're gonna get crushed under my heel, so to speak."
Korra chuckled, "You mean they wouldn't even be competition?"
It was obvious that she was kidding, but Asami played along with a raised eyebrow and a light smirk on her lips, "Do I look worried?"
Shaking her head with a giggle, Korra smiled and looked back out the window. About an hour passed and the girls sat together, talking about Asami's first trip here. Apparently the sponsor that she had been looking for in the Southern Water Tribe decided to be a no-show, so Asami had to think of something else to try and get Future Industries back on the map. Flying non-stop to the new world just happened to be the very thing that would turn the company around. It was as brilliant as it was perilous.
"Hey, I can see the shore! Wow…" her eyes shimmered in fascination as she saw more trees than she had ever seen in her entire life, "It's amazing… we were closer than I thought."
"Not like it was a short trip… we've been out at sea for the longest time… I wonder now, has it been a month already?" she asked rhetorically.
"No, not yet. Three weeks," Korra offered as she leaned tiredly on the wall beside her.
"That's still a long time…" Thinking about the new world reminded Asami about the journal that she had given her friend to study. "Have you practiced your Nihongo?"
Turning slowly, Korra cringed. "You actually wanted me to read that journal?"
Asami looked at her friend carefully before laughing out loud as she leaned against the doorframe, slowly making her way over to one of the long, stuffed leather seats in the cabin. She stared across the small room and continued laughing as Korra just blushed noticeably. "You know, you don't have to laugh so hard…"
Asami let out a sigh as the last of her laughs saw their way out past her pretty red lips. "Oh Korra. You dork, you know how difficult it's going to be communicating with these people if you don't understand at least a few basic phrases? Alright, I know. While the ship is docking we should practice a few of them. Are you ready?"
Korra glared with a pout on her face, "Ok. In my defense, I could barely understand that chicken-scratch you call writing… let's do it."
Asami's face turned red. "You really couldn't understand my writing?" She looked away for a minute and wondered if it was just the Avatar or if she really needed to work on that to make herself seem more professional. Maybe that was why she was having problems with her clientele lately?
Korra arched a brow and grinned, noticing the nauseous, worrisome look that appeared on her face. "Nah, I'm just messing with you," she laughed and shrugged, "I didn't even read it!"
Asami glared, "And somehow that makes it better?"
Korra laughed, nodding. The look on Asami's face let her know that she got her back for laughing at her earlier.
The two young women then bantered back and forth for another minute or so before they decided to go over some of the basic phrases that Korra would need to know in Nihongo, the name of the predominant language on the new continent. Eigo, their own language, was vastly different from Nihongo in not only writing but also speaking terms. The writing system was based off of entirely different characters; though, surprisingly enough, there seemed to be traces of Eigo and Nihongo in both the old and the new worlds.
An entire year has passed since Korra first reached the Avatar state.
After visiting the Southern Water Tribe six months later and returning soon after, everyone returned to their regular way of life. The 'New World', the world of the ninja, was discovered before the first month of that same year passed. Since then, due to the changes being made in Republic City little has been done in response to this astonishing news. A few explorers attempted to make their way across The Great Sea on their own budget, but of those only a paltry amount made it across. The rest were lost at sea. When retired general Bumi was finally asked if he would captain an expedition for 'expanding political and cultural relations' to the new world, he became the first to complete multiple successful voyages back and forth.
The first people to explore the new world were met with hospitality from the so called 'village hidden in the leaves'. They were invited to the strange place with massive walls that was built with an imposing mountain with the faces of the past leaders of the 'village' as if to say that, even in death, they would watch over them forever. As they entered they saw that there were five giant heads carved into the mountain and a sixth was in construction.
A small group of Air Acolytes flew alongside Asami during her trip eight months after the shinobi world was discovered. The Air Acolytes are the last official remnants of the Air Nomad culture aside from Tenzin's own family. They returned home to regale Tenzin, Korra and the rest of the acolytes who stayed home with stories of incredible feats of agility and power performed within and outside of the city walls. Prior to this they had reported Tenzin directly where they gave him more important information regarding the political and economic possibilities available to them in the new land.
She heard the story of each 'fire shadow' that led the great shinobi village, as well as the harrowing tale of the man who was responsible for destroying the moon.
"And a boy was born who was said to house the very epitome of malice, the 'Kyuubi no Yoko!' It was the nine tailed monster fox! They said that this monster was larger than the very mountain that Konoha was built under; he was so big that when he tore into the village, whole men could be seen stuck in between his massive fangs! He was a being of malice, of pure, spiteful energy; every evil and insidious emotion in the world swirled into a vortex which created this fantastic creature, and even so, he was only one of nine great creatures that were just as large, and some nearly as deadly.
"However, as far as power was concerned, this monster had enough to form tsunamis and topple mountains with merely the casual whisk of his tail! Somehow, the village leader, the 'Yondaime-sama', was able to seal the monster fox away. He sealed half of the fox's chi into himself, and the other half into his newborn son! How incredible, I thought when I heard that there was a young boy running around with powers that exceeded even Avatar Aang's!"
"Blasphemy!" called out a fellow air acolyte, crossing his arms and gawking at the man in disbelief. "That story is only legend passed down to them, it's nothing more than fairy tales!"
Another acolyte said, "Well, that does seem very farfetched," then he turned to Korra and smiled apologetically before he said, "and I do not mean to offend you Avatar Korra, but Avatar Aang was unimaginably powerful. The tales we've heard of him are not exaggerated like the stories of this… monster fox."
Korra rolled her eyes when he looked away. All stories were exaggerated to make them sound better. It was impossible to be anything but a tape recorder and not embellish just a little bit… at least, she knew she would if she were telling it.
"I didn't even finish the story!" called out the first acolyte, glaring down the rest as they grumbled amongst one another and Korra just shrugged it off and leaned back in her seat to continue listening. Tall tale or not, it was rather interesting.
"Ok, so… the boy, the one that the monster fox was sealed into, his name was Naruto Uzumaki! They said that he was away from the village at the time, but they told me about his last great battle that apparently saved the whole world! Not just the new world, but also our own! And we didn't even know that there was even a battle going on, just like they didn't know about the Avatar."
"They don't know about the Avatar?!" someone cried out in the crowd.
"Let me finish first!"
Korra's ears perked up and she moved closer to get a better seat. It was interesting to her to hear of someone who had not heard of the Avatar. Everyone seemed to know what that word meant to them and most of those even seemed to know that she was said avatar. "What was his name again?" she asked, raising her arm to get his attention.
The acolyte smiled and said, "Naruto Uzumaki."
"Naruto Uzumaki, huh?" Korra muttered to herself. After six days of travel, Korra found herself stepping through the front gates of Konohagakure, or, 'the village hidden in the leaves'.
It was gargantuan for a village. Why the hell did they call it a village anyways?
She stood like an ant under its massive walls and would otherwise have been shocked stupid at seeing young men and women her age and older leaping up from the ground onto the top of the walls and back down again, seemingly to relay information back and forth from the walls to some undisclosed location within the massive village.
The trek from the shores to the village was several days long by cart and carriage. Apparently Asami was told that she could not use the Satomobiles yet because there weren't any carved out roads big and sturdy enough for the large vehicles. She thought that was ludicrous and voiced her opinion, only to be shot down again when they told her that the loud noises of the Satomobile and all of the technology in it might spook their hosts a little, and they did not want to risk the good relations that they had with 'Konoha'.
She frowned, but agreed not to unload her vehicles until the current fire shadow could see one for herself. Asami was more pissed about that than anything, because why waste the time of having to explain what it was when she could easily have shown her? Her suspicions about the truth regarding the 'roads' being unfit for the Satomobile were proved correct. The ambassadors' assistant that told her that was full of crap and she knew it from the get-go. They weren't much more than dirt roads made for animal-drawn carriages, but they would do. Now whether or not the sight of a speedster class of satomobiles arriving at the front gates would cause any kind of international incident, Asami wasn't entirely sure she could throw out the possibility.
As enormous as the village was, it seemed very… dated, to say the least. Even Korra thought so, which was a surprise because she came from the southern water tribe which had nowhere near the technological prowess of Republic City.
The other reason why Asami was a little angry about not bringing her vehicles to show them off was because this wasn't the first time that she had visited Konohagakure. The first time, she made the trip on a biplane to prove the quality of her company's craftsmanship to potential buyers. She invited two daredevil journalists, one of her choosing and the other chosen by a panel of interested but shy buyers who were still a little wary of the company's old affiliation to the Equalist movement. Korra knew from her previous conversation with Asami that the Air Acolytes that had made the trip as well did so by using Sky Bison that flew alongside Asami and her group.
They made the long journey by air thanks to the new extended fuel tank feature on her planes and the lighter weight of the frame that was developed by her and the handful of engineers that she had left after the whole Amon fiasco. This was a last-ditch effort to turn Future Industries around because she never did get that audience with the famous businessman Varrick from the Southern Water Tribe. Future was on its last legs and, as far as she was concerned, it was either do or die and she could not fail her mission to get her company out of its comatose state.
Republic City finally set up its first 'base of operations' in the form of a small colony on the shore of the land of fire, or 'Hi no Kuni'. When Asami first arrived, the scholars and ambassadors in the small colony were offering free trips to Konohagakure with even a free room in a hotel there. Asami took advantage of that and said goodbye to the news journalists that accompanied her and one of her best aviators on the double biplane trip across the great sea so that she could visit Konoha.
The success of the flight was no accident and definitely not sheer luck; Asami had been planning for the trip for six months, using information brought to them by the naval visitors to the new world that returned and reports written and shared through public forums (usually conferences and city events). She calculated exactly how much fuel she needed and had failsafe measures to ensure the safety of both new, lighter, biplanes. The most important was that they were escorted by one of the best in the nautical business: General Iroh of the United Forces. He had been waiting in the area near Mizu no Kuni and when he spotted their planes and the sky bison (plural) flying overhead, General Iroh followed them the rest of the way to their destination in the land of fire.
Asami giggled sheepishly as she remembered the strong demeanor of the general and that even stronger jawline of his. Korra looked at her friend with a raised eyebrow but shrugged as she stepped forward in line and showed her new intercontinental identification which was a picture of her stapled to information describing her, written out in both Nihongo and Eigo. It was a glorified passport with a Republic City seal on the front, a necessary evil to appease the local residents of the constantly on-edge inhabitants of Hi no Kuni and the rest of the countries around them that welcomed and sanctioned their status as visiting, non-hostile entities.
"Thank you," said a young man wearing standard issue shinobi wear: olive drab vest, a bandanna, both of which were optional, while he also wore a snug blue turtle neck with matching pants taped and the ankles with lighter blue sandals on his feet.
He smiled pleasantly at Korra and said, "Welcome to Konoha Village. We hope you enjoy!"
Blinking, Korra just smiled back and nodded slowly, saying thank you in Nihongo before taking a few more steps into the village.
When Asami pulled up next to her, Korra looked at the beautiful girl and said, "This… is incredible."
Her friend smirked and said, "You know, you say that a lot." Asami then looked up to see the faces of the Hokage of the past staring out past the horizon, as if they were focusing on an enemy out in the distance. That really was a beautiful idea. Like a metaphor to their ceaseless devotion to the well-being of the village and the morals and beliefs that it stood for. The ruby-lipped girl smirked and wrapped an arm around Korra's waist as she pointed up and said, "Maybe one day we'll get to meet one of these people. I hear that the fifth one is still alive and she's getting ready to pass down the responsibility to someone else. Apparently it's that Naruto Uzumaki that all of the interpreters are always talking about."
"I wonder if women are treated differently here in this world." Korra thought, speaking out loud though she didn't expect any kind of response from Asami on the subject. When she got it, however, she turned to look at her friend.
"I'm not real sure. I think they're a little more traditional… if you want to use that word… than they are back home. Maybe like the Earth Kingdom used to be back in Aang's time."
Korra nodded and said, "Well, are we ready for this?"
Asami smirked, "Hey, don't get all tense about it. These people have had time to adapt to our language and a lot of them speak Eigo already. I hear that all of the ninja are required to learn it to… well, keep an eye on us I guess." With the look Korra was giving her, Asami frowned and placed her hands on her hips. "Or eh… well, you know what I mean." Asami said eloquently*.
"Uh huh." Korra just muttered, turning back to look at the rest of the group. "Do we have to stay with them? I wasn't listening earlier, sorry."
Asami's smirk returned and she said, "No, Avatar Korra. Jeez, you know that your visit here is pretty damn important, don't you? You're here to explain the ways of the Avatar and Naruto Uzumaki is supposed to share something about being a shinobi to you. It's like a good faith gesture to them. I guess a little give and take?"
Korra nodded. "I remember that much. I'm supposed to explain to him the nature and history of the Avatar, as well as a few of the martial arts stances for each of the elements. He is supposed to show me the nature of chi, though I'm not sure what's so different about the way they use it."
Asami blanched at that statement. "Well… there aren't any benders here. All of the people here who have the ability to manipulate chi are able to cast these things called 'jutsu' where they are able to perform amazing feats of strength or even blow fire out of their mouth and shoot out huge gusts of wind."
Korra arched a brow as they kept walking. "Are we going straight to the hotel? And how is that different from bending the elements?"
Asami shrugged, "We can go now if you want. I don't really get it since I'm not a bender myself… you know? I just heard a lot of stuff and saw some crazy 'ninjutsu' training that some of the younger kids were going through on my last stay here. One kid made a copy of himself that was capable of following some kind of internal directions, but it seemed to be like an illusion, because when a knife passed through his chest it went right out the back and kept flying as if it had not hit anything. They called it 'bunshin'."
"Bunshin…" Korra remembered the story told to her by the acolytes upon their return from the new world. "As in kage bunshin?"
"Above all, his favorite power to use was that of the 'kage bunshin'. They say that any ninja worth his salt can produce something called a 'bunshin', which is basically a fake replica of himself that is there mostly as a distraction. 'Kage bunshin' is literally translated as 'shadow clone', and the clone that he was capable of making was one that had a real, physical body. In other words, there was no illusion! Using only chi, he could create a perfect replica of himself that could fight, eat and even sleep! I was shown the power by a man with silver hair who produced one for me and allowed me to strike it. The clone caught my punch all without looking up from this little orange book he was reading from, it was incredible! And even more incredible, was that this Naruto Uzumaki could supposedly summon more than a thousand clones of himself! Imagine what one could do with a thousand clones of oneself, let alone a single copy!"
Asami shook her head and said, "No, it was just called 'bunshin'. I heard about that though… Naruto Uzumaki is famous for using it in his battles during the last Great Shinobi War."
Korra nodded. "So I heard."
They eventually made their way to the hotel and Korra bid Asami goodnight before walking across the hall into her room. She used the key to unlock the door and threw her bag on the desk provided in the rather large room as she entered. She then walked over to the bed and sat down, kicking off her boots and removing the blue fixtures in her hair. She pulled out an envelope that was folded in her pocket and opened it up, reading the instructions that were given to her by Tenzin on how to properly speak to the Hokage and carry herself while in her presence.
"Korra," it began, "First off, I have to say that I am extremely proud of you and your accomplishments so far. You are a strong woman with a kind heart and a good moral compass. I am proud to have lived and worked with you, young Avatar, during your adolescence and I hope that you remember how important you are to me and everyone else back home. Pema and the kids say 'hi', by the way.
"Now, as for your responsibilities, I must warn you, though this should go without saying, that you are entering a very different and a very hostile environment here in Konoha. Yes, we have a negotiations treaty with them at the moment and they seem to be a very joyful and peace loving people, all things considered, but they are still, first and foremost, a warrior people. You must have learned by now what sort of powers that they are able to use. They utilize something called chakra, which you may have mistakenly heard of as what we know as 'chi' or 'ki'. The concepts for both are slightly different, but different enough to be worth paying close attention to. You may get to meet some very powerful people and I hope you brushed up on your Nihongo. It would appear to be very bad if you weren't at least able to say 'hello', so I wrote it out for you phonetically at the bottom of this letter.
"Most importantly, and I can't stress that enough, please be careful. You are powerful, Avatar Korra, but do not let your head swell with pride. Be humble, and be wary. And please come back safely."
Korra looked at the letter one last time and then saw where it was signed, "With love, Tenzin and Family."
She put the letter on the nightstand and decided it was as good a time as any to take a shower. She walked into the restroom and saw that there was a piece of paper sitting on the countertop of the sink inside. She picked it up and saw instructions in Nihongo, with really crappy Eigo translations written in small writing underneath them.
She looked up from the note, not sure what it said exactly and looked at the knob in the shower. Confused, it seemed to be nothing more than a pull out lever, and it didn't seem adjustable. She cringed when she felt the water and looked around confused, seeing a chain hanging in front of the shower attached to some kind of metal fixture on the ceiling. She pulled on it and it seemed to do something, but she didn't know what. She could hear the sounds in the pipes though, but the water was still cold even after ten minutes of letting it run.
Korra sighed removed her clothes anyways. She got into the shower, tired of waiting, and shivered under the cold water for a few seconds, scrubbing quickly, before she decided she was done and jumped right out. She glared back at the shower, shutting it off quickly so that she didn't have to jump back in under the cold water. Southern water tribe girl or not, she did not like cold showers. Even back home she had taken most of her baths in a tub with hot water that was heated in a large pot. They used buckets to pour the water on themselves or into the tub where they could bathe for a bit when they had the time for the luxury.
When Korra walked out of the bathroom, she shivered again when she noticed that the balcony door was open. Had she opened it? She wasn't sure. She frowned and walked over to close it, but noticed just before she did that there was a man standing on top of a water tower that was nearby. She looked over the edge, down at him and saw that he was staring up at the moonless sky and she frowned, looking up where she knew the moon would no longer be. Just the useless chunks of glitter that floated in the sky, leftover by the massive explosion that blew the moon up into many pieces that now were too large to push through the atmosphere and were instead caught in the gravitational pull of the planet as it spun.
That thought made her wonder how much this new world knew about space? It was apparently a new idea, but she remembered hearing about artifacts that supposedly once took humans up into space. It was pretty incredible, actually, to think that people would one day leave the planet in search of another adventure up in the stars.
She watched the man as he stared up at where the moon used to be as she pulled another towel and wrapped it around her head before making sure that her robe was tied securely at the waist.
She remembered what the acolytes had said about the incident with the moon.
"Alright, alright," said one of the men wearing the orange and red acolyte clothing as they continued to banter back and forth. "So what you're saying is that this 'genjutsu' stuff, whatever it is, was going to be reflected off of the moon and it was going to ensnare everyone on the planet in an illusion? This gets crazier and crazier the more you talk… are you sure you didn't eat something funny while visiting there and just imagined that you had heard all of that? Everyone knows you've been having problems with diarrhea lately. You must've caught a bug that's making you hallucinate or something!"
"That or he's been smoking new world grass! Ha ha!"
There was a collective laugh in the room, but the man telling the story didn't seem to be amused at their open dialogue.
Rolling his eyes, the man crossed his arms and said, "Listen here! Tenzin trusts my word and so should you! I heard what I heard and I saw what I saw. I didn't meet this Naruto Uzumaki, but let me tell you that people there were doing some incredible stuff that I have never seen a bender do before."
"Yeah, we heard about all of that already… so… how did he do it? How did he blow up the moon?"
Korra leaned forward in her seat a bit. Not that she was really that amazed by the story, but she figured she could use a good laugh. She had to admit that it was getting harder and harder to believe the acolyte the more he talked. But then again… everyone saw the moon explode that night.
"He used a special power that they called 'spiraling sphere', the Rasengan."
"Rasengan," Korra muttered to herself, trying to imagine whatever he meant by a spiraling sphere. She pictured a glass orb with a whirlpool of endless water caught in the middle. When he tried to describe it, she still wasn't too sure she understood what he was talking about, but she listened anyways.
"Supposedly he spat the Rasengan out of his mouth and shot it straight up at the moon. It fired off like a beam of light that hit it and caused a tiny crater on the surface. Everyone thought that they were finished, and that his gambit failed, but in the end, the moon exploded in the night sky and the spell of the dreaded 'Tsukuyomi' was thwarted for the time being."
Korra sighed and looked up. The stars were there, but in reality the remnants of the moon were even brighter than they were before when they formed a whole moon, marring the visibility of the stars beyond them.
She wondered if there wasn't another way? Who had ever heard of the moon not being in the sky? It seemed so… unnatural not to have a moon. Like it was meant to be up there.
Korra's eyes fell back down to the man who was on the water tower. She gawked nervously when she noticed that he was looking right at her with a bright grin on his face. He waved excitedly at her and she felt her bashfulness fade away as she put on her own grin and waved right back. He turned back around and looked up at the sky once more before disappearing right before her very eyes. She wondered about that man and his bright yellow hair as she lied down to sleep, exhausted from the long journey.