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#1
Dad

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Note:  the original OOC Thread can be found here.

 

Downtown, Republic City

3:15 p.m.

City Hall, 1st Floor

 

 

He shoved past security, stretching his metal arm as he pushed to the front doors of City Hall.  "Hey!  Watch it pal!" one of the guards barked, whipping a metal baton out in his right hand, threatening Udal.  He turned around slowly, facing the guard, and staring into his eyes.  "If those people out there get hurt, because you tried to stop me," Udal started, his voice dull, and rough.  "I'll come back and beat you into a coma."  With an almost blank expression on his face, Udal turned around and proceeded out of the front doors, a single Security Guard behind him.  "You ever step on City Hall again, I'll have you locked up!" the guard called after him.  

 

Udal waved a hand, dismissing the guard.  "I'll be back.  On Janook's orders," Udal said matter-of-factly.  The guard stood still, eyeing Udal as he walked away.  "On Janook's--wait.  Councilman Janook?  Oh!  Oh, you must be Mr. Cho!  Sorry about that!  We only just got wind of you!" he called back apologetically.  

 

"Yeah, yeah," Udal mumbled under his breath, waiting outside on the steps of City Hall just as his new best friends exited the building.  "Jeez.  What the hell am I working with here?" he asked aloud, examining the crew.  "A bunch of kids, a pet dragon, and some wonky gloves that are supposed to make you useful.  I'd be better off solo.  Though I guess Janook and Orthro wouldn't like that would they?" he said rhetorically.  "My name is Udal Cho.  I run Republic City's best autoshop, and unfortunately I'm a metal and Earth bender.  No I don't like it, yes I'm angry, and probably will be until I let out some stress on these Natty bastards.  No I'm not angry at you, I'm just old and grumpy.  And before you ask, yes the arm is real.  I control it by passively Metal Bending.  And no, it hasn't increased my E.D.  You can introduce yourselves if you want, but right now, your names don't matter to me," he finished.

 

Sighing, Udal turned his back to the others.  "Sorry to get right to the point, but there's some Natty's down the road near the old Spirit Vines causing problems.  If you want me to be bothered with you, I'd appreciate it if you keep up and keep your heads outta the clouds.  Bending's no joke, and if you screw around, I'll dump you back at Janook's doorstep."

 

With a stomp forwards, Udal began marching up the street.  "This'll be your first test, I suppose," he called back, not waiting for the others to follow him.  "I don't think there's too many of them, but I'll let you do the work.  See how you stand up to a couple of Natty punks."  Udal had already dealt with the Natural New Order once.  They had come to Cho's Autobody Works once before, questioning Udal as to whether he was a bender or not.

 

"And what if I am?" he questioned them back, aggressively.  He stepped forwards, just as the Nattys brandished their weapons.  Pipes, swords, bats, chains, and the like.  After taking their weapons from them and incapacitating the Nattys, he sent them packing, sticking a note to one of their chests, reading, "teach your men some discipline -- Cho".  

 

"Most of them are a bunch of no good clowns.  But funnily enough, I ran into one of them a few weeks ago.  And he was a bender.  Which I find interesting, considering they hate benders."

 

Interesting indeed.  Unconfirmed reports of benders among the N.N.O. had been spread around Republic City.  But outside of that, not a whisper of N.N.O. benders could be heard.  Perhaps a rumor?  Perhaps Udal was mistaken.  

 

"Doubt you'll see any of 'em here, but feel free to let loose.  Long as you don't do anything stupid and hurt the vines or the bystanders, you won't hear a peep outta me."

 

In the distance, nearest the now diverted train station and a large crater in the ground, a large growth of spirit vines could be seen spreading throughout the immediate city block.  Far and wide, they bloomed and children played unafraid among them.  But as Udal and company fast approached the vines, shouting could be heard.  An argument against what appeared to be a group of ten against a group of two, had begun to escalate as the two lone victims were being surrounded, and quickly.  "Come on," Udal said, suddenly sprinting forwards, as the Earth began to move beneath his feet.  Tearing up the concrete and shattering it, Udal rode a wave of Earth towards the ongoing scrap, just as the first punch was thrown, and one of the victims was knocked down.

 

Dividing the battle with a brisk movement of his left hand and bringing up two medium sized walls between the victims and the attackers, Udal shook his head.  "You guys again?" he asked, staring into a familiar N.N.O. face.

 

"Eek!  Cho!?" one of the goons asked, stepping backwards.  But he quickly righted himself and stepped up again.  "Well--well I brought friends this time!  You can't take us all!" he taunted.

 

Udal took the two victims on a rising torrent of Earth and smoothly circled away from the N.N.O., before gently placing them on the ground.  "I don't plan to," he called back to the N.N.O. thug.  "You can fight them," he said pointing to the new recruits.  "You two run along.  Scared to bend?"

 

One of the teens nodded, rubbing his blackened eye.  "E.D. man," he said softly.  

 

Udal nodded.  "I hear ya kid.  We're working on it.  Go home.  We'll take it from here."

 

The two teen boys scurried away, as the N.N.O. thugs approached Udal's new friends.  "Come on then Bender Trash!  Let's go!"


Drowning in your silence.

#2
Super Chaos Sonic

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What have I gotten myself into...?

 

That had been Shinya's main question ever since he had arrived in Republic City. He was originally there to find a way to stop the disease of Elemental Dystrophy as well as learn new martial arts styles, but the moment he got there, he had been wrangled in by a man known as Councilman Janook. Now he stood here with people he barely knew with a sort of glove that would allow him Bend.

 

Naturally, the Fire Nation boy was given a glove that would allow him to Firebend...buuuut... Barely any formal training with this thing. How do they expect us to Bend without giving us the proper formal training? Shinya sighed, exiting City Hall, only to see someone new before him and the others.

 

"Jeez. What the hell am I working with here? A bunch of kids, a pet dragon, and some wonky gloves that are supposed to make you useful. I'd be better off solo. Though I guess Janook and Orthro wouldn't like that would they?"

 

Shinya frowned slightly at this old man's reaction to the group and especially himself. But as much as Shinya wanted to retort on how this man acted, he decided against it. It was obvious by the look of him that he had experienced far more than those here. With age comes wisdom they say... he reminded himself, hearing the man speak once more.

 

"My name is Udal Cho. I run Republic City's best autoshop, and unfortunately I'm a metal and Earth bender. No I don't like it, yes I'm angry, and probably will be until I let out some stress on these Natty bastards. No I'm not angry at you, I'm just old and grumpy. And before you ask, yes the arm is real. I control it by passively Metal Bending. And no, it hasn't increased my E.D. You can introduce yourselves if you want, but right now, your names don't matter to me."

 

Udal Cho, a mechanic, and an Earthbender. And one who was having a Metalbended arm. Shinya was indeed impressed with this, but his impressed state had to wait as Udal began to walk onward, expecting the group to follow. The Earthbender went on with their current objective, if that's what you would call it: a bunch of Nattys (Naturals) causing trouble in the form of the N.N. Order. Shinya wasn't exactly sure what they did or what they wanted, but all he heard from Councilman Janook was that they were trying to invoke chaos...LOTS of it.

 

Still, the group was quiet after Udal spoke, so naturally...who better to break the ice...than someone from the Fire Nation?

 

Shinya cleared his throat some, finally making some noise. "Well, after hearing all that...I suppose introductions wouldn't be a bad thing." he started. "I'm Shinya of the Fire Nation. I come from the town of Shu Jing. Nice to meet all of you...though probably would be better under different circumstances."

 

After the ice was broken, he would enjoy the chatter of those in the group, if they so chose to speak. However...now at the correction location, Udal seemed to had led them into a huge fight...with ten guys. And unfortunately to his dismay, Udal chose NOT to fight...and have them fight.

 

No pressure...no pressure... Shinya said, exhaling slightly. He had seen people in Shu Jing Firebending all the time, all it was based off of was the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu style and it was one style he knew by heart. With the correct breathing, he was positive he could do it.

 

"Come on then Bender Trash! Let's go!"

 

Shinya didn't move, however, he planned to use scare tactics for this first time. He got into the correct stance of the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, calming his breathing before punching forward with his right hand towards the ground. However...instead of a few flames coming out, it ended up just being a pitiful spark. At this, the group of ten began to laugh.

 

"What was THAT?" one said, before breaking away from the group to move towards Shinya.

 

-BGM-

 

Again...no proper formal training... Shinya thought, before sighing, watching the one guy break away from the group. Guess I do this the only way I can...

 

The young Fire Nation boy's stance did not change, as he stood there, waiting...watching this man before him move. The man rushed towards him, throwing a right swing and then a left swing. Shinya could only block it at the moment, before jumping back.

 

Attacks headstrong. Not only that, but it seems like the most power he has in his attacks comes from the left side. Shinya analyzed as he exhaled deeply. Which means... He then rushed towards the man, who began to swing with his left arm. "Bingo..." Shinya moved towards his left when the man swung his left swing, quickly grabbing the man's left wrist.

 

"W-WHAT?!"

 

Shinya swiftly used his momentum and spun into the man, before pulling his wrist and arm, causing the man to go airborne and land back first on the ground. "Favor the left swing...sort of obvious there." he flashed a small smirk, before watching another rushing towards him. Shinya sighed before backflipping out of the way, in the process, kicking the other man in the face and causing him to stumble back. "So, up to try again?" he asked, bringing up his one hand towards the two, motioning for them to 'bring it on'.



#3
Yui

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 "Jeez.  What the hell am I working with here? A bunch of kids, a pet dragon, and some wonky gloves that are supposed to make you useful. I'd be better off solo. Though I guess Janook and Orthro wouldn't like that would they?"
 
Anyu's problem wasn't that she was being lumped in as part of "a bunch of kids" really. It was that this man was right; this set-up was far from ideal. Why send a bunch of kids to find the cure for Elemental Dystrophy and deal with Nattys, when it would be more efficient to hire somebody more experienced?  It seemed there was still a lot Anyu had to learn about the world beyond her backwater origins.
 
"My name is Udal Cho. I run Republic City's best autoshop, and unfortunately I'm a metal and Earth bender. No I don't like it, yes I'm angry, and probably will be until I let out some stress on these Natty bastards. No I'm not angry at you, I'm just old and grumpy. And before you ask, yes the arm is real. I control it by passively Metal Bending. And no, it hasn't increased my E.D. You can introduce yourselves if you want, but right now, your names don't matter to me."
 
Earth bender? Interesting. Udal Cho was right about one thing though...well, one other thing. This wasn't the time for introductions and formalities. There was Nattys causing trouble nearby, and they had to be dealt with. However, another boy from the group spoke up.
 
"Well, after hearing all that...I suppose introductions wouldn't be a bad thing. I'm Shinya of the Fire Nation. I come from the town of Shu Jing. Nice to meet all of you...though probably would be better under different circumstances."
 
Fine. If introductions had to be made, so be it. Anyu opted to make her introduction a quick one. Business first, after all.
 
"Anyu. Nice to meet you and all that," she flatly introduced. Now then, the Nattys. These guys were trouble. They hated Benders and were aiming to cause them to go extinct. Genocide was really not okay, and if Anyu had anything to say about it, they wouldn't be able to pull it off. Of course, this was just a quick street fight. Still not something Anyu was skilled in, but she had the S.E.D. glove. It would give her the powers of an Earth bender, a powerful form of bending due to the abundance of earth. Of course, Anyu had no clue how bending worked at all. She knew that. She also knew that this glove wasn't soft, which made it useful.

 

Equipped with the S.E.D. glove, Anyu swing her right fist at the nearest Natty.


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#4
Eevee

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Yao had been excited on receiving his Single Element Discharge Glove, or SED Glove for short. With this in hand, well, on his hand, he could finally, finally achieve what his siblings had always done as easily as breathing. Firebend. Focused on the glove, he tuned out Councilman Janook. The old man was talking about combating Nattys. People who, just like him, held grudges against benders. Except I'm better than them, he smirked. I can do what they cannot. The jealousy that would burn them up inside if they knew that fellow "Naturals" could bend. They would probably learn of it sooner or later though, and he couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces.
 
The brunette man recovered from his dark thoughts when he heard the ringleader of the group, this "Udal Cho" speak up. "Don't say it. We don't talk about the Avatar.  Period," he stepped forward aggressively. "You recruited us for this.  We'll do this our own way.  The rest of you benders...keep looking for your ghost.  I'm gonna go find a solution."
 
Yao followed the man out the door without a backward glance at the councilman. Stepping outside, he bowed politely to the guard flapping his mouth, hiding the sneer of contempt that itched to form on his face when the man changed his tune at the drop of a name. When the new firebender and the rest exited the building, they came face to face with Udal. Yao inspected the man with more than a hint of curiosity. After all, if the councilman was to be believed, this man was the only true bender of the group. He paid special attention to that prosthetic arm. There's a story behind that, he thought.
 
"Jeez.  What the hell am I working with here? A bunch of kids, a pet dragon, and some wonky gloves that are supposed to make you useful.  I'd be better off solo." Yao flinched at that. He would not, would not, let anybody take his new glove from him. He would not go back to being mundane. "Though I guess Janook and Orthro wouldn't like that would they?" And he relaxed, easing his face into a carefree smile. Yes, as long as Janook and Orthro had their way, he wouldn't have to worry about that at all. "My name is Udal Cho.  I run Republic City's best autoshop, and unfortunately I'm a metal and Earth bender.  No I don't like it, yes I'm angry, and probably will be until I let out some stress on these Natty bastards.  No I'm not angry at you, I'm just old and grumpy.  And before you ask, yes the arm is real.  I control it by passively Metal Bending.  And no, it hasn't increased my E.D.  You can introduce yourselves if you want, but right now, your names don't matter to me."
 
Blunt. That was...well, something he was used to, to be honest. His whole family was aggressive and biting in their words, so this angry diatribe wasn't anything new for him. "I am Yao," he greeted, bowing once more as he was taught. Beside him, Mimi made a noise that sounded halfway between a chuff and a purr. A noise of happiness. She seemed especially fascinated with his fellow firebender, though she also seemed to take to the woman in the garb of the air nomads, going so far as to rub her nose against her. What is it with air nomads and animals? Yao wondered briefly.
 
"Sorry to get right to the point, but there's some Natty's down the road near the old Spirit Vines causing problems.  If you want me to be bothered with you, I'd appreciate it if you keep up and keep your heads outta the clouds.  Bending's no joke, and if you screw around, I'll dump you back at Janook's doorstep."
 
Well, that was just fine. He wanted to test out his new glove anyway, and this would be the perfect opportunity. On the way, Udal gave them some more information about who they'd be going up against, as well as informing them that they'd be on their own. Which, again, was just fine in Yao's book.
 
And then they reached the vines, where they saw a group of ten against a lone pair. How unfair, Yao thought critically. "I suppose we're here to even the odds then?" he asked. "That's still ten to five though. I guess the gloves balance it out.Except that this man, Shinya was it? Yes, that was his name. His attempt had achieved little more than a pitiful spark and a noise that sounded incredibly reminiscent of the release of gases from the posterior. In other words, a fart.
 
His own attempt wasn't much better. "It's good if you need to light a candle, I suppose," he grumbled. Well, this was just fantastic. He wasn't all that good at fighting, though he knew some firebending stances, but that was about it. Dodging a punch from one of the men, he aimed a sloppy kick that hit nothing but air. Cursing, he jumped back to avoid his leg from being grabbed, and thought for a second. All he really needed was to immobilize the man so he could light his clothes on fire. Sure, he might not be able to produce enough flame for combat, but he could surely use it to light a fire right?
 
And then Mimi tackled the man head on.

"Wha--Mimi?!" he gasped, before taking advantage of the distraction and plowing forward with a kick, this one hitting its mark. However, he realized his limited knowledge of martial arts would be more of a detriment than a boon here. Picking up a large slab of concrete, he tossed it side to side. "For your information, I'm not half-bad at aiming. And I've got a strong arm from fishing.And with that, he threw the chunk right at the fallen man, right at the head. "Good job Mimi," he patted her nose. "Now on to the next."


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#5
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Tae Jin slammed her hands down on the desk in front of her, her nostrils flaring to a dangerously large volume and her eyebrows twitching ever so slightly. The poor man in front of her had never seen an Air Acolyte, as her robes gave her away, act so brazenly before and as such was taken aback. He nervously glanced down at the clipboard in front of him, chewing on the pen in his hand as his eyes glanced at the list of names and back up at the dark haired woman. Somehow in the split-second that he had looked away her face had grown even more disagreeable, causing him to swallow back a lump of anxiety that was welling in his throat with an audible gulp.

 

"Ma'am, I am quite sorry but you- well your name isn't on the list to attend the meeting with Councilman Janook." The guard said for the third time, his voice catching slightly in his throat. 

 

"You're name isn't on the list." Tae Jin mocked the guard. "Yes, you've said that, but I've been telling you that i've already discussed the matter with the Councilman personally. I am going to that meeting." Her statement was so matter of fact that the guard almost agreed right there, but he quickly regained his senses and shook his head.

 

"If you aren't on the list, I am sorry, but I can't let you in." He seemed resolved to the fact, a little angered by Tae Jin's mocking, which even she had to admit may have gone over the top, but she was frustrated.

 

"He simply forgot to put my name down. I am supposed to be there." She declared, punctuating her final statement with a definitive poke to the guard's chest. It was at this point that he removed a steel baton from his waist, coming out from behind the desk.

 

"You can either leave the premises peacefully or I can escort you out, your cho-" He was interrupted by the soft ding of the City Hall's elevator. Councilman Janook emerged, his gaze falling upon Tae Jin and the guard. 

 

"That won't be necessary, she is with me." 

 

Tae Jin nearly stuck her tongue out at the guard, but settled with a smug smile, instead.

 

 

Tae Jin tried to think about what Master Rinzen, her favorite mentor of all the 5 Air Temples, would've thought of her morning outburst. It brought a smile to her face to think of the man's kind-hearted eyes and neatly trimmed beard that was just beginning to gray. He wasn't like the other monks she had met in her travels. He had understood her better than anyone she had ever met.

 

"Quite the noise you made, back there."

 

She could hear his voice in her head.

 

"Just make sure whatever you do is worth it. If it isn't worth it, you have wasted everyone's time."

 

Hardly having to reflect on her actions, Tae Jin knew her efforts weren't in vain. Anything to be a part of this expedition was worth it, she thought as she clenched and unclenched her fist, getting familiar with Single Element Discharge Glove that she was wearing. Already she felt a connection with the element that hadn't been there before, although she had to admit that it did feel artificial. Of course, it felt that way because it was, however, she wouldn't complain.

 

 

 

"You can fight them," Tae Jin cocked her head slightly at the notion of conflict with the Nattys. Resolving things as peacefully as possibly was one virtue that her and her people always shared. However, this Udal didn't seem to have any qualms with trading blows, whether it be completely necessary or not. Of course, the Air Nation's history with violence in the past had been a bit muddled over time. During the age of the last Avatar there was a time that the Air Nation served as a nomadic, non-aggressionary military force. Still, the Air Nation had always stood for pea-

 

Tae Jin's thoughts were suddenly interrupted with an abrupt blow to her cheek. It was a very severe attack, fortunately, and having had a numerous fists flung her direction in response to heated protests Tae Jin knew to roll with punch, turning in a clockwise motion. The second swing from the thug hit air as Tae Jin ducked under his hook, spinning counterclockwise to his advance. Popping up on the man's left, Tae Jin rubbed her jaw, her eyebrows tightly knitted in anger.

 

"You wanna just settle this to a battle of ideals?" She asked, the end of her sentence turning into a squeal as the thug rounded on her trying to trap her into some sort of double-fisted bear-hug-hold. Fortunately it was at that moment that a gust of air emanated from her person, catching the charging man firmly in his gut before planting him firmly on the ground.

 

As he quickly stumbled around to recover his feet, Tae Jin moved to cover the ground between them, muttering an apology beneath her breath and slamming both hands on top of his head. And following up with a kick to his jaw for good measure. She hoped that the spirits would forgive her. 


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#6
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Observing carefully, Udal sat on the sidelines as the Natty's began to go down.  Five down, five remaining.  Picking up their fallen comrades, the Natty's limped to their feet before backing away, with their numbers being reduced quite easily.  Udal sighed, as the valiant effort of Shinya, Anyu, Tae Jin, and Yao was being wasted on a couple of no good thugs who's entire representation was based on some rather questionable slogans by a spoiled rich kid.  Having perched himself on a rock, Udal realized how quickly he had become uncomfortable, standing to his feet and dusting his bottom off.  "Well.  That was pointless," he said stepping forwards.

 

Immediately holding up a hand and halting the rest of the attack from the half-benders behind him, Udal addressed the N.N.O. thug who recognized him from before, and apparently was leading his own band of misfits in Republic City.  "C'mere," he said ushering the N.N.O. man forwards.

 

"Eh!?  Wha-what!?  What do you want Cho!? You and your bending freaks here--!"

 

"They're not benders, you idiot!" Cho said stomping his foot and raising himself up in one swift motion, onto a large slab of earth.  "Now c'mere," he said, once again gesturing for the thug to move forwards.

 

Wanting to be brave for his men, the N.N.O. man obliged.  Folding his arms and putting on a false sense of bravado, he met with Udal, who was now about a foot higher than he was.

 

"What's your name, kid?" Udal demanded.

 

"My. . . my name?" the thug quivered.

 

"Your name!  What is it!?" Udal barked.

 

"Yes!  Right!  My name!  My-my-my name is Jaye!  Proud Natural New Order Division 80 Vice!" he said throwing up a balled fist.  Jaye's men rallied behind him--albeit half-heartedly due to their injuries--cheering him on and celebrating in the name of N.N.O.  But with a simple raise of his hand and a nod of his head, Udal silenced the thugs.  "D-d-don't be afraid men!  We are proud to lead a revolution against bender--!"

 

"Alright, alright, jeeze.  Shut up, will ya Jaye?" Udal said taking a knee.  "Now, listen up, and I'll save you some time and a beating."  Udal leaned in, causing Jaye to lean forwards as if he were about to be whispered to.  "DON'T EVER LET ME CATCH YOU IN REPUBLIC CITY AGAIN!  HEAR ME!?" Udal screamed, causing Jaye to stumble backwards and be caught by one of his men.  "Eightieth division Vice.  I hope your boss isn't as much of a coward as you are.  How many divisions are there anyway?" he joked, standing up straight.

 

As Jaye struggled to his feet, he attempted to retort.  "I will not relay that inf--"

 

"That was rhetorical, you brain dead clown!" Udal snapped, crushing the earth beneath his feet.  "Now you listen to me, and you listen good," Udal said, stomping forwards.  "I don't care how many divisions you have.  I don't care who your boss is.  I don't care who you report to.  But you better relay a message to someone.  Because Republic City belongs to the people.  Bender or not, they are our people.  And no matter how many goons, no matter how many sacrificial lambs, no matter how many bullies you send, we will always prevail.  Because you can't bully Republic City.  Not my city.  So tell your boss, and all your Natural New Order pals, that this is not a threat.  It's a promise," Udal said turning around to face those who had joined him.  "I will find the N.N.O. in whatever dark allies they hide.  I will break down their establishment.  I will destroy their system.  And I will not allow them to use Elemental Dystrophy as a tool to attack innocents.  And if that means I have to go through all of you one by one," Udal said looking back to Jaye.  "Then I'll start at the bottom, and I'll beat every member of your shady organization into submission.  Understand?" he finished.

 

Jaye turned his head slightly, looking over his shoulder at his morally distraught men, and turned around to face Udal.  "You're gonna regret this old man," he said standing up straight.  "I'm gonna pass the word on just like you want.  And I'm gonna use your name.  And you're gonna regret the day you messed with Natural Order!  I promise you!" Jaye said, shoving the the goons behind him to march them in the opposite direction.  And as the remaining Natty's began to disperse into the allies behind the ruins of the now labeled "Spirit Vine District", Udal turned back to the "naturals" behind him, shaking his head.

 

"Man it feels good to get some stress of my chest," he said as he scratched an itchy patch of hair on his chest.  "That was a waste of time.  I'm not gonna get any use out of you lot just because you beat up a few nobodies.  Plus, the N.N.O. can wait.  We need to find where E.D. started and do some research.  So let's go," Udal said approaching the Spirit Vines.  "We're gonna pay Orthro a visit.  Though I'm not exactly pleased about traveling through the vines to get to him," Udal grumbled.  "And for what it's worth ladies, you can throw some nice punches.  Simple, effective.  All without the flash.  Unlike mister Trained Assassin over here," he said, singling Shinya out.

 

 

Pathing into the depths of the Spirit Vine District, Orhtro led the Half-Benders through a maze of powerful spiritually enchanted vines, cautioning them with every step.  Old, dilapidated buildings became home to unseen dangers and traps.  And each time a brush rustled, hairs stood on edge, wondering if they would be ambushed.  And while many stayed away from the Spirit Vines for fear of their unknown strength, their power to overwhelm and subdue, and generally not knowing if they were even safe to be around, there was the occasional explorer.  Venturing into the Spirit Vines for a closer look at what could very well be a root back to the Spirit World.  Scientists had come from every nation in order to study the vines, hoping to find a way to use their existence as a means of telling the Overworld how to restore spiritual balance.  And though their efforts were made in great stride, many of those studying the vines often went missing, never to be seen or heard from again.  Rumor has it that those who go too deeply into the Spirit Vines are pulled unwillingly into the Spirit World, to be devoured by unknown creatures from the other side.

 

"Hang on a sec," Udal said, holding up a hand.  "I remember these traps like the back of my. . . mechanical hand," he said as the group stopped just short of what appeared to be a downed spirit vine.  Carefully, Udal slid the vine forwards, a subtle click coming from beneath it.

 

"Pressure plate.  You step over the vine and step onto it without leaving weight, and you'll fall down the pit beneath us," Udal said, gently tapping his foot on the noticeably hollow ground, just past the vine.  "The old man's paranoid.  But sleeping around these vines would do that to you.  So be careful.  Quite a few tricks around here," Udal said, stepping forwards.

 

But there is one man who is said to have not only explored the Spirit World and returned, but to have boldly constructed a powerful laboratory at the very heart of the vines, studying them up close and even growing food and finding water.  That man is Doctor Erik James Orthro.  But he prefers to just go by Orthro.  Having brought his Single Elemental Discharge gloves to Councilman Janook's office, those wearing them had not seen his laboratory before.  But upon reaching a heavy brush, clouded by rubble and Spirit Vines, Udal lifted one of the vines, and uncovered a large double hatched door that led down a flight of stairs.

 

Inside, dim orange light glowed from the center of a large, concrete room.  Manually constructed torches dug deeply into the walls were lit all around the area, burning warmly, sometimes fluttering as a cool breeze flowed in from above.  Tables, Bunsen burners, beakers, charts, graphs, and a large double wide broom on the other side of the room indicated that this was Dr. Orthro's work space.  But he was no where to be seen.  Instead, walking past the concrete room and further into the facility, a soft, whistling snoring could be heard coming from further in.  Dr. Orthro's lips sounded as if they were sputtering, like an old car muffler.  And there, in the one bedroom in the underground laboratory, a spiky, gray haired old man slumbered in the middle of the day, covered by a thick, brown wool blanket.

 

"Old man!" Udal said loudly," causing Orthro to sputter awake, bolting up right and muttering incoherently.  He was seemingly bamboozled at the sight of others in his laboratory, accidentally kicking over the single night stand beside him as he jumped out of his bed.  Holding out a hand, Orthro was prepared to attack, until Udal approached.  "Whoa Orthro, whoa!  It's okay!  It's okay!  It's me!  It's Udie.  It's okay.  I brought some friends," Udal said, trying to calm Orthro down.  Orthro lowered his hand, speaking softly.  "U. . . Udie?  Udie is that you?  Ya know I'm blind, kiddo.  Where're my specs?" he asked, backing up and bumping into a corner as his spiky hair brushed dust off of the wall.

 

Udal looked carefully around on the poorly lit ground, feeling around the floor for Orthro's glasses.  "Here we go," he said, picking up a pair of thin, black glasses with wide rounded lenses.  "Let me help you with that," Udal said, sliding the glasses onto Orthro's face.  In his pale white night gown and soft night cap with a white puffy ball on the end, Orthro shuffled his feet a bit, trying to get a better sense of his bearings.  

 

Orthro blinked a few times, before settling on a smile.  "Well, lookie here!" Orthro said, spreading his arms wide.  "Bring it in kid!  Bring it in!" Orthro said happily, greeting Udal with a hug.  Udal happily returned Orthro's hug, as the two were oddly chummy with each other.

 

"I brought your lab rats.  They might have a few questions, but first, we need to talk.  I need to know more about what you have so far regarding E.D.," Udal said.

 

"Now hang on Udie, hang on a sec," Orthro said, sliding past Udal and walking up to the Half-Benders.  "These are the volunteers, eh?" he said, starting by shaking Shinya's hand.  "Look at your bright, young faces," Orthro exclaimed, patting Shinya on the back while observing the others.  "And to volunteer for such a dangerous mission, you all must be brave," Orthro emphasized.  "But I imagine you must have a number of questions.  Let's step into my lab and we'll talk, hmm?" Orthro said leading the Half-Benders into his lab.

 

"I got some questions of my own, damn it," Udal said, following the others.  

 

Excitedly, Orthro, led the Half-Benders into his lab, quickly pulling out the mess of tables and charts that he had, and rubbing his hands together in glee.  "Okay boys and girls!" he said happily.  "Here's your chance to ask me anything.  As the leading scientist on Elemental Dystrophy, it's origin, and the first to slow it, I can help you.  Not to mention any other little tid bits you may need me to help you with.  So ask away."

 

Udal held out a hand, interrupting Orthro.  "First thing's first, Orthro.  I need to know how often the Natty's are showing up," Udal said, stepping forwards.  "I know you've caught a few of them.  You get any information out of 'em?" Udal asked as politely as he could.

 

Orthro shook his head.  "Not in front of the kids, Udie.  We'll talk in private.  There's a lot to that, and I don't think it'd be appropriate for their ears," Orthro said, turning back to the Half-Benders.  "Now then, what can I do for you?" he asked, giving the Half-Benders their time to speak.


Drowning in your silence.

#7
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One by one (almost anyway) the Nattys went down, by the combined efforts of Shinya, Anyu, Tae Jin, and Yao. However, before Shinya decided to prepare to defend another strike, Udal stepped in and gave the group a bit of schooling...in the form of some pretty harsh yelling. Then again, he had obviously been through hell so it was justified.

 

"Man it feels good to get some stress of my chest. That was a waste of time. I'm not gonna get any use out of you lot just because you beat up a few nobodies. Plus, the N.N.O. can wait. We need to find where E.D. started and do some research. So let's go. We're gonna pay Orthro a visit. Though I'm not exactly pleased about traveling through the vines to get to him. And for what it's worth ladies, you can throw some nice punches. Simple, effective. All without the flash. Unlike mister Trained Assassin over here."

 

Shinya saw Udal glancing hard at him, dragging out the last sentence out to show that out of the group...he was singled out. Tch...my form was simple and effective. The 'flash' would've actually been if I was bending WHILE performing my attacks. he thought, keeping silent as he began to move along side the rest of the group into the Spirit Vine District. Besides...three out of us were actually fighting...the fourth literally was using a pet to attack as well as throwing slabs at them.

 

The young man could've vented all day long, but he found it better to inhale and exhale slowly, letting go of this obvious aggression. Right now it wasn't the time to nit-pick at the group he was in...even if the supposed 'leader' was nit-picking at his 'flashy' style.

 

Regardless, Shinya was in awe at the way things looked in the Spirit Vine District. Such a majestic display of power that came from the Spirit World. In all his life, Shinya hadn't seen much of this in Shu Jing, so this was more of a shock of such massive amounts of strong vegetation than anything to him. Nevertheless, it wasn't long until Udal led the group to Dr. Ortho...who...

 

"These are the volunteers, eh? Look at your bright, young faces. And to volunteer for such a dangerous mission, you all must be brave. But I imagine you must have a number of questions. Let's step into my lab and we'll talk, hmm?"

 

"Uhhh..." Shinya simply mustered out, as Ortho took his hand and began to shake it, even patting his back whilst inspecting the others. It was the first time he was meeting Ortho, but still...he was actually expecting a scientist that didn't seem...as strange as Ortho. And that was putting it lightly.

 

"Okay boys and girls! Here's your chance to ask me anything. As the leading scientist on Elemental Dystrophy, it's origin, and the first to slow it, I can help you. Not to mention any other little tid bits you may need me to help you with. So ask away."

 

Well...a Q&A session...that was always good.

 

Shinya held up his hand for a moment. "Yes...I have a few things to address." he said, before looking at the others. "Firstly, regarding Sifu Cho, anyone else think I was 'flashy'? Because I can assure you, that was not my intention. My form was very much simple and effective, all I did was await for the enemy to strike first to get a feel for their style and counter." he said, before turning towards Ortho once more. "Secondly, Dr. Ortho, when exactly did the Elemental Dystrophy take hold of the first Bender? And...when did the previous Fire Lord find out about the condition?"

 

That second question was indeed a sore subject for the Fire Nation men that were in the group at the moment. It was difficult to hear that their Fire Lord was taken by this strange disease. Shinya wanted to know some answers...and that was the main question on his heart.

 

"Thirdly..." Shinya sighed with a pause, holding up his arm to show the glove he wore. "Is there any possible way we can get formal training with these?"



#8
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Shinya asked the first question, obviously a little unsettled by the unorthodox Orthro.  

 

"Yes...I have a few things to address."

 

The others watched and waited for Shinya's 'address'.

 

"Firstly, regarding Sifu Cho, anyone else think I was 'flashy'? Because I can assure you, that was not my intention. My form was very much simple and effective, all I did was await for the enemy to strike first to get a feel for their style and counter."

 

Udal raised an eyebrow, folding his arms.  

 

"Secondly, Dr. Ortho, when exactly did the Elemental Dystrophy take hold of the first Bender? And...when did the previous Fire Lord find out about the condition?"

 

Dr. Orthro cleared his throat, as he thought about Shinya's inquiry.  "Well young man, E.D. first appeared about two years ago.   It was first sighted among a group of school children at Republic City First.  In an attempt to break up a school fight, a teacher by the name of Momoa meant to Earth Bend in order to separate the students.  But she found her technique unable to maintain structure.  Her arms became numb, and lost coloration.  This was the first we had seen of it.  And that's when I was called out of my little hobbit hole to come and help.  But because this was our first encounter with E.D., of course, we failed.  Momoa died nearly three months later.  The disease spread to her brain and eroded it from the inside.  There was nothing we could do," Dr. Orthro said with a sigh.

 

Taking off his night cap, he sat it on one of the nearby tables and revealed the remainder of his mess of hair.  "But regarding the Fire Lord.  Hmm, now that's an interesting question you have.  You must be from the Fire Nation, judging by your style of dress, your brash nature, and your rather particular inquiry," Orthro said with a grin.  "I've always been fascinated by my own people.  We're quite the complex persons, aren't we?" Orthro said nodding his head.  "But, ah, yes!  The Fire Lord.  Despite the many rumors, Lord Baa-fun had known about contracting the disease for some time.  But of course, Lord Baa-fun was among the most peaceful of leaders we'd had in a long line of Fire Lords.  Wanting to maintain that peace, he kept his sickness hidden from us for nearly five months.  He'd known since mid year of last year.  By the winter months, he had little more than a breath in his lungs.  When I found out, I was devastated.  Mostly because I knew that Baa-fun knew I would've given him everything I had to help him.

 

But I suppose he had his reasons.  Even so, the nation is still hurting.  But I can only hope the values instilled in his son are as great as he was," Orthro said, a tear escaping him.  

 

Seemingly satisfied with Orthro's answer, Shinya proposed a third question.

 

"Thirdly..." Shinya sighed with a pause, holding up his arm to show the glove he wore. "Is there any possible way we can get formal training with these?"

 

Orthro wiped the tear from his face, smiling again.  "Formal training?  Son, getting these gloves to even produce elements was possibly the second most challenging accomplishment I've ever managed in my lifetime.  I don't even know how to use them.  I can still just barely bend on my own.  But Udie here, or Shifu, as you've called him.  He's a very disciplined bender.  Maybe you can ask him for some assistance or training.  I'm sure he'd be happy to--"

 

"Hang on Orthro," Udal said speaking up.  "Don't go volunteering me for tasks I haven't considered yet.  That's how I ended up in this mess."

 

Orthro laughed, dismissing Udal's remark.  He leaned into Shinya, whispering.  "Don't mind him.  He's just shy.  Ask for help, and there's a good chance he'll school you," Dr. Orthro whispered.

 

"Now then, is there anyone else I can assist, before I give you the er--ehem--pertinent information?"


Drowning in your silence.

#9
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Soon after finishing off his opponent, the fight ended, and Udal started talking to one of the thugs, the one who had recognized him from before. Here, Yao learned a bit more information about the Natural New Order, or the N.N.O. What a pretentious name, he scoffed.
 
"Man it feels good to get some stress of my chest," Udal said while scratching his chest. "That was a waste of time.  I'm not gonna get any use out of you lot just because you beat up a few nobodies.  Plus, the N.N.O. can wait.  We need to find where E.D. started and do some research.  So let's go," he approached the Spirit Vines.  "We're gonna pay Orthro a visit.  Though I'm not exactly pleased about traveling through the vines to get to him," he grumbled.  "And for what it's worth ladies, you can throw some nice punches.  Simple, effective.  All without the flash.  Unlike mister Trained Assassin over here."
 
What about me? Yao wanted to ask, but decided against it. Perhaps it was for the best that he wasn't mentioned, or it might have been something along the lines of what the other Fire Nation boy got.
 
--
 
Eventually, they entered some sort of laboratory in the heart of the vines, where an old man lay sleeping. It turned out he was Dr. Orthro, and he seemed friendly enough, if a bit eccentric. He also offered to answer any questions they might have, and Shinya seemed to jumped at that chance.
 
"Yes...I have a few things to address. Firstly, regarding Sifu Cho, anyone else think I was 'flashy'? Because I can assure you, that was not my intention. My form was very much simple and effective, all I did was await for the enemy to strike first to get a feel for their style and counter." he said, before turning towards Ortho once more. "Secondly, Dr. Ortho, when exactly did the Elemental Dystrophy take hold of the first Bender? And...when did the previous Fire Lord find out about the condition?"
 
Yao stiffened at the question. The Fire Lord... Indeed, while he didn't care much for benders, he had nothing against the Fire Lord. He had been just as devastated as the rest to hear of his death.
 
"Thirdly..." Shinya sighed with a pause, holding up his arm to show the glove he wore. "Is there any possible way we can get formal training with these?"
 
Dr. Orthro proceeded to answer each and every question, and Yao twitched and stilled as he talked. However, the answer he really wanted to know, was to the last question. Unfortunately, it seemed there would be no way of getting training beyond recruiting Udal, and the man seemed highly reluctant, despite the good doctor's reassurances.
 
"Now then, is there anyone else I can assist, before I give you the er--ehem--pertinent information?"
 
The brunette thought about it. Was there anything he needed to ask? No, not really. The main question he had got answered, However... He glanced at Mimi. "Do you know if there's a chance that Elemental Dystrophy could affect more living beings than just human beings?"


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#10
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Dr. Orhtro turned his attention to another sightly young man, who he did not know was named Yao.  His question--whether surprising and unexpected--proved to surprise the good doctor.

 

"Do you know if there's a chance that ElementalDystrophy could affect more living beings than just human beings?"

 

 Pausing, Orthro turned to Yao, noticing the rather curious lion-dragon pet nipping at his feet.  Dr. Orthro smiled at the youngling and her owner, but his smile quickly faded as he lay eyes on Yao again.  "Unfortunately, yes.  While rare, there have been some cases of Elemental Dystrophy being spotted in other species.  What strikes me as odd, however," Dr. Orthro said quickly glancing at the young lion-dragon.  "Is that the E.D. in other creatures is only seen when they are young.  We've never seen E.D. in adults of Flying Bison, Badger Moles, or even Lion-dragons.  But in younglings, we've seen a handful of cases show up," Dr. Orthro said, trying not to sadden himself or Yao.

 

"We believe that this may be because the babes of these species are not disciplined.  They are not as spiritually connected as their elders.  And when they bend, they suffer the same fate as benders," Dr. Orthro finished.  "But, perhaps if you manage to teach your friend a thing or two, her body won't stress or suffer from E.D.  And I think she'll be fine."

 

With a clap of his hands, Dr. Orthro managed to make the flames of the torches around the room brighten and spark, as he looked over to Udal.  "Now then, children," he said shuffling his feet over to Udal.  "What I'm about to tell you is very important.  How you utilize this information and how it influences your journey is up to you.  However, it is important that you do not forget how many lives are at stake," Orthro continued.  "And it has a lot to do with N.N.O."

 

Dr. Orthro pulled down a chart on the large concrete wall behind Udal, the only blank wall in the laboratory.  Picking up what appeared to be an old broken ruler, the Doctor moved forwards to emphasize his points.  The chart was a map, with a detailed breakdown of each major and minor kingdom, and the ratio of their E.D. outbreaks.  Little purple specks represented the outbreaks, most of them covering the Earth and Fire nations by about sixty percent.  On the otherside, smaller outbreaks of only about twenty percent in the Water Tribe, and an even smaller break out of about thirteen percent among the Air Nation indicated fewer discoveries of E.D. in those areas.  Republic City had seen a thirty-five percent outbreak of E.D., but even still, the numbers were frightening.  

 

"These markers indicate which areas have been affected by E.D., and how badly.  With less reports of E.D. coming in from the Water and Air nations, we believe there be one of two things happening.  The first is this: that the water and air nations are so disciplined and well studied in bending and the spiritual arts, that their outbreaks are far and few in between," Orthro said happily.  "This could mean that the brand of teaching by these nations may be one of many ways to slow E.D.  But the fact that these nations do still suffer from the disease suggests it is not a guaranteed cure.  So we still have work to do.  However," Orthro continued, his smile turning into a sort of annoyed expression.

 

"We believe this may also prove that the center of N.N.O. is coming from one of these two nations," he said sternly.  "There are a number of theories for this, but this is my own," Orthro said, turning to the chart.  "The Air and Water nations are among the most solidified nations.  They are the most disciplined.  But above all, they are the most isolated.  What better a place to hide than to be among the most quiet, most loved of nations?"

 

Udal furrowed his brow, slightly annoyed at this prospect.  "Look old man.  If you're askin' me to travel, it's not gonna happen.  I'm not gonna just leave Republic City.  There's too much at stake here.  The other nations can fend for--"

 

"But they can't Udie.  The other nations are busy trying not to completely succumb to Elemental Dystrophy," Orthro said sternly.  "And meanwhile, with no way to defend themselves, benders are being killed in the streets by crude weapons, forced to retreat and hide, or kill themselves to save themselves.  There's no winning right now, Udie."  Orthro pointed to the chart, before circling Republic City with his broken pointer.  "You know what we don't see in Republic City, the Water Nation, or the Air Nation?" Orthro said, circling the other two as well.  Udal went to give a quick answer, but was forced to bite his tongue as Orthro slapped him on the wrist with the broken ruler.

 

Lifting the chart, Orthro revealed a second page to the chart, this time the purple blips turning into red ones, and being seemingly absent from the Water Nation and Air Nations, as well as Republic City.  "An outbreak of violent crime against benders.  Specifically, that which is committed by N.N.O. members or sympathizers."  Orthro sat his broken ruler on the lab table, folding his arms and puffing out his chest as he proved Udal wrong.  Udal met Orthro's expression with a frown, and Orthro could not keep up with him.  Letting out a big sigh, Orthro, pat Udal on the back, before forcing him to look at the chart.

 

"The information doesn't lie, Udie.  And while there are minimal N.N.O. attacks here in Republic City, it's already been searched and cleaned out.  There's nothing more for you to do here," Orthro finished.  "You need to find out what's going on in the Water Tribe, and visit as many Air Temples as necessary.  You have to know for sure, Udie.  Because somehow, E.D. and the N.N.O. are connected.  We just don't know how yet."

 

Udal sighed, scratching his head.  He looked anxiously over to the Half-Benders, thinking about how they had no idea how to use the gloves, and the key word to bending was "discipline".  What the hell did that even mean?  When Udal studied, he disciplined himself.  He practiced for hours on end, bending and trying different techniques.  But it took him years to become the bender that he is now.  There was no way they had that kind of time.  "For Pete's sake," he said throwing his hands up.  "What am I supposed to do Orthro!?  I've got a bunch of kids here with no experience and no way to protect themselves!  I can't go around carrying this lot on my back!  And there's no way I can teach them all--!"

 

"Yes you can, Udie!" Orthro said smashing his hands together as if he were clapping.  Slowly spreading his palms, Orthro revealed a small blue flame.  "You're concerned that they won't be useful to you because they aren't benders.  But because of what these gloves do to them--er, for them,  they can be as strong as you as are.  But you can't expect them to grow over night.  You have to nurture their flames, and allow them to breathe.  Don't smother them, Udie.  Let them blossom.  Let them burn.  And teach them." The small blue flame began to grow, shaping itself into a beautiful rose made of fire, before Dr. Orthro snuffed it out with the palm of his hand.

 

Udal groaned, putting his face into his hands as he tried to tolerate Dr. Orthro's words.  "Well.  In that case, I'm not gonna be responsible for them," Udal said immediately.

 

Dr. Orthro raised an eyebrow at Udal.  "What do you mean?" he asked carefully.

 

Udal looked over to the Half-Benders, his eyes darting back and forth.  "Combat isn't the only thing I'm worried about.  These kids don't know each other.  They're not cohesive and they won't stick together.  So they're gonna make group decisions from now on.  And we aren't moving a muscle until majority rules."

 

Dr. Orthro chuckled, shaking his head.  "Well, I suppose that's one way to help them grow.  At least as people.  So kids, what will you do?"


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#11
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As Tae Jin watched the N.N.O thugs limp off, their tails between their legs at the hands of Udal's verbal berating, she couldn't help but think that it all seemed somewhat anti-climatic. There had been no explosions. Hardly any bending. No death defying stunts. Just a square punch here and a kick there. Being a hero was much different than she thought it would be. Of course, she wasn't a part of this movement to be a hero, she reminded herself. She was there to save her people. Plain and simple. Still, it was hard not to get caught up in the heroics of it all.

 

Especially as Udal led the group into the Spirit Wilds. Tae Jin looked upon the man with a bit of awe. Despite his obvious anti-social tendencies, Tae Jin couldn't help but be impressed with him. Picking her way carefully through the vines that grew through the heart of the city, a place she was very familiar with as she had led a number of protests to protect their natural growth over the years, she tried to work up the nerve to talk to him but couldn't manage it.

 

Before long, the group found themselves in an odd location. It seemed almost out of place for the Spirit Wilds and yet seemingly characteristic for their overly alien landscape. Orthro was just a tad bit eccentric, Tae Jin felt, but no more than any of monks that she had studied with over the years and it definitely fit the vibe of his laboratory. He quickly began to rattle information in response to questions that others asked.

 

Several times Tae Jin opened her mouth to ask a question or make a comment but before she could speak the conversation had evolved past that particular topic, causing her to abruptly shut her mouth in disappointment. Getting slightly frustrated she blew a strand of hair out of her face that had fallen. She was careful to pay attention to the conversation this time, not wanting to lose track like she had in the meeting with Councilman Janook. 

 

Suddenly, Udal addressed the group as a whole: "These kids don't know each other.  They're not cohesive and they won't stick together.  So they're gonna make group decisions from now on.  And we aren't moving a muscle until majority rules. "

 

 "Well, I suppose that's one way to help them grow.  At least as people.  So kids, what will you do?" Orthro added in.

 

Sensing her chance to finally add in to the conversation, Tae Jin piped up. "If we are going to help these people we need to actually see what's going on!!" Realizing how overly-enthusiastic her outburst sounded, she took a deep breath and further expanded on her statement, this time more calmly. "What I mean is, it seems like you have a lot of data and statistics, but what if the answer is found in the individual? We need to start meeting with the people afflicted with E.D., travel to the different nations and actually see how the disease is dispersed. And if you think N.N.O and E.D are connected well then I think it's about time that we stop waiting for them to bring the fight to us and figure the connection out for ourself." Feeling slightly embarrassed, Tae Jin cast her eyes downward after speaking. 


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Stress. Stress was felt in such an abundance, Karina had wondered if she would actually pop a blood vessel. From her voyage, to her seeing others in her group, to getting new tech, to fighting, everything was happening so fast for her. She wasn't a fighter, and first thing she did upon getting here was being told to fight. She thought this was a quest for a cure, and things seemed to be shaping up quite differently. Instead of fighting, she stood back, away from the group, and watched the others. Unfortunately, this behavior just brought disdain from Udal. If he had been mad at the ones fighting, she feared for how he would react when he saw her one on one. Still, she followed the group, barely making her presence known. 

 

Soon enough, the group started throwing out their own theories on ED. However, the doctor provided a new and astounding theory, one she had not been able to test due to the nature of water bending. While most other nations had an animal to teach them the bending, the original water bender was the moon. Somethign seemed to click. This was a new and fascinating theory, and made more sense than her own. Of course, the solution seemed so obvious when the doctor mentioned it. Maybe she would have come to a similar conclusion had she been given the time and resources to study it.

 

"Of course! A solid theory if I have ever heard one." She piped up, being sure to attract a glance or two now that she had finally spoken.

 

Quickly, the conversation continued. It was then that they were told to make a group decision, and they hardly knew each other The air nomad woman brought up visiting the air nomads. 

 

"Mam, that is a great idea. This way, we can factor in all the variables and slowly solve the puzzle. Excuse me for asking, but I didn't seem to catch your name. I am Karina of the Northern Water tribe, who might you be?" She said to Tae Jin, introducing herself and flattering the embarrassed looking woman.


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So according to the answers Dr. Orthro was giving to the questions presented to him. E.D. and the N.N.O. were possibly connected in some way, something about the Fire Lord having come down with the stuff himself - that was probably a huge fist in the gut for the Fire Nation's morale - before dying, and that the Water Nation and Air Nation weren't experiencing E.D. as often as the Fire and Earth Nations. If only, Anyu mentally responded to the bit about the Water Nation in particular. Orthro also theorized that the N.N.O. was holed up in one of the former two nations. Anyu's guess was on the Water Nation.

 

"Well, I suppose that's one way to help them grow. At least as people. So kids, what will you do?"

 

"We should look at the Air Temples," Anyu answered. "Like the other girls said, we can learn more by going there and getting answers for ourselves instead of watching from Republic City. It would also give us time to figure out how to use the S.E.D. gloves while we're traveling." The Water Tribes...Anyu wasn't overly eager to pay them a visit.


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#14
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Shinya crossed his arms slightly, hearing about what Ortho spoke...detailing the first event of the Elemental Dystrophy and even Fire Lord Baa-fun. His hand clenched his arm, before he closed his eyes slightly. It was too much for him to even think or imagine how things must've been for the late Fire Lord...he had an entire nation of people to look over and yet he did what he could to govern them.

 

He kept fighting until the bitter end... he thought, before sighing slightly.

 

"Formal training? Son, getting these gloves to even produce elements was possibly the second most challenging accomplishment I've ever managed in my lifetime. I don't even know how to use them. I can still just barely bend on my own. But Udie here, or Shifu, as you've called him. He's a very disciplined bender. Maybe you can ask him for some assistance or training."

 

Now this was a thought he didn't exactly think of. Udal was a natural Bender and not someone who was just given an item to allow for bending. However, Shinya was really hesitant to even do that. Udal was an Earthbender and his glove had fire. Now grant it, Shinya could learn more about the Hung Ga Kung Fu style that Earthbenders used from him...but in the realm of bending...he might be more akin to finding a Firebender.

 

Shinya broke from his deep thoughts, long enough to see Ortho bending a small blue flame and forming it into a rose. Needless to say, the Fire Nation boy was impressed. He's a Firebender! he thought. Maybe I could learn from him!

 

"Well, I suppose that's one way to help them grow. At least as people. So kids, what will you do?"

 

Or maybe not... Shinya had forgotten that they were being directed towards either a Air Temple or a Water Tribe. He looked over at a young girl, Anyu, who suggested an Air Temple. Hmm...if I recall my studies correctly, Waterbenders of the Water Tribe deal in Tai Chi, whilst the Air Nomads study Baguazhang... he thought, rubbing his chin. Both styles of martial arts he didn't know much about or have any skills in...however...

 

"I'll just make myself heard." Shinya spoke after the others. "I am fine with either location as a start. I do however, only ask that during all this, that I find time to learn the martial arts styles of that culture."



#15
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"Unfortunately, yes.  While rare, there have been some cases of Elemental Dystrophy being spotted in other species."
 
Oh... That wasn't...what Yao wanted to hear. What he really wanted to hear was, "Oh no you don't have to worry a thing about it young man. Nonhumans are immune since they're awesome so...yeah. End of story."
 
"What strikes me as odd, however, is that the E.D. in other creatures is only seen when they are young.  We've never seen E.D. in adults of Flying Bison, Badger Moles, or even Lion-dragons.  But in younglings, we've seen a handful of cases show up."
 
Yao winced. Mimi...was young. Young and childish. The only upside was that she rarely bended, mainly because of this one incident when he was younger, when he had sulked for days after discovering that even his new friend could firebend. She had sensed that that had upset him, and connected the dots, but...that also meant that she lacked experience, which could be just as dangerous if not more so.
 
"We believe that this may be because the babes of these species are not disciplined.  They are not as spiritually connected as their elders.  And when they bend, they suffer the same fate as benders. But, perhaps if you manage to teach your friend a thing or two, her body won't stress or suffer from E.D.  And I think she'll be fine."
 
The brunette gave no reply to that. Him, a role model? True, he was the oldest in his family, but his younger siblings had never looked up to him. He had never had the opportunity to act the true elder brother. It had been more like...he was separate. An only child, connected to the family by a mere thread. Because of that, he had grown up willful and wild. Free-spirited. And now, this man was telling him to teach someone? To take on a mantle of responsibility? He had thought he'd be overjoyed to finally be given the responsibility and recognition he so craved, but right now all he could think of was Mimi, becoming just like the Fire Lord, and it felt like there was a stone in his stomach.
 
The man only half-listened to the rest of the conversation, too enmeshed in his thoughts, but when Dr. Orthro created a rose out of fire, the light caught his eyes, and he blinked. What had they been talking about? Uhhh...something to do with finding the N.N.O.'s headquarters. Either Water or Air...right?
 
"Well.  In that case, I'm not gonna be responsible for them," Udal said.
 
"What do you mean?
 
"Combat isn't the only thing I'm worried about.  These kids don't know each other.  They're not cohesive and they won't stick together.  So they're gonna make group decisions from now on.  And we aren't moving a muscle until majority rules."
 
So. Forcing them to think for themselves, huh? Well. He couldn't say that wasn't reasonable.
 
Dr. Orthro chuckled, shaking his head.  "Well, I suppose that's one way to help them grow.  At least as people.  So kids, what will you do?"
 
Interestingly enough, the first person to speak up wasn't his fellow firebender, but the air nomad. Which was surprising, since he had pegged her as the quiet sort. "If we are going to help these people we need to actually see what's going on!!" She took a deep breath. "What I mean is, it seems like you have a lot of data and statistics, but what if the answer is found in the individual? We need to start meeting with the people afflicted with E.D., travel to the different nations and actually see how the disease is dispersed. And if you think N.N.O and E.D are connected well then I think it's about time that we stop waiting for them to bring the fight to us and figure the connection out for ourself."
 
"Mam, that is a great idea. This way, we can factor in all the variables and slowly solve the puzzle." The blonde chimed in, and proceeded to introduce herself.
 
"We should look at the Air Temples. Like the other girls said, we can learn more by going there and getting answers for ourselves instead of watching from Republic City. It would also give us time to figure out how to use the S.E.D. gloves while we're traveling." The plain, quiet girl who had packed quite a punch earlier gave her piece.
 
"I'll just make myself heard." Shinya spoke after the others. "I am fine with either location as a start. I do however, only ask that during all this, that I find time to learn the martial arts styles of that culture."
 
The others half-turned toward him, and Yao smiled sheepishly. Ahh, caught daydreaming. "Eh-heh. Umm, I am fine with whatever we decide. air or water. Though I suppose if I had to choose...I am curious about the water tribe.Mainly their predispositions toward healing professions. They might have made some headway in finding out about the causes of Elemental Dystrophy, and the ways to combat it.


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#16
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With a smile on his face, Orthro listened closely to the expressions of the young ones before him.  Their personalities, their desires, their reasons for being here at this point in time--while different--were possibly the defining moment of youth.  And secretly he hoped they would get to live out that youth.

 

"What I mean is, it seems like you have a lot of data and statistics, but what if the answer is found in the individual? We need to start meeting with the people afflicted with E.D., travel to the different nations and actually see how the disease is dispersed. And if you think N.N.O and E.D are connected well then I think it's about time that we stop waiting for them to bring the fight to us and figure the connection out for ourself."

 

"Of course! A solid theory if I have ever heard one."

 

"We should look at the Air Temples, we can learn more by going there and getting answers for ourselves instead of watching from Republic City. It would also give us time to figure out how to use the S.E.D. gloves while we're traveling."

 

"I'll just make myself heard.  I am fine with either location as a start. I do however, only ask that during all this, that I find time to learn the martial arts styles of that culture."

 

"Eh-heh. Umm, I am fine with whatever we decide. air or water. Though I suppose if I had to choose...I am curiousabout the water tribe."

 

Udal sighed, as it seemed they still had not come to a consensus.  "Damn it all," he said scratching his chest again.  "At least you lot finally spoke.  But you're killin' me with the 'either is fine' stuff.  Since you can't agree, I'll help you get one more vote," Udal said, turning to the Doctor.  "Orthro.  Air Temples or Water Tribe?"

 

Orthro folded his arms, smiling as Udal addressed him.  "Udie, honestly, you'll face trials no matter which path you take.  But because this issue is very time sensitive, I suggest heading to the Water Tribe first," he said, already convinced of his own answer.  "The fact of the matter is, getting to the Water Tribe is harder than reaching the Air Temples.  While the temples are perilously high in the many mountain sides, it would take far less time to reach them.  And you'll have to commission a boat and a captain to get to the Water Tribe.  But you have to decide whether to go North or South.  Both major populations are--"

 

"Located at the polls.  Yeah I know," Udal interrupted.  "A captain is no problem.  Getting a boat however, is another story entirely.  And we'll need to be prepared for possible storms.  There's so much to do," Udal said, as his voice began to trail into a whisper.  "And I'll need a navigator.  Someone who knows those. . . waters. . . " Udal said, slowly raising his head, and his eyes landing on Anyu.  "You.  Girl.  I don't know your name.  We never did get proper introductions did we?" Udal asked as he quickly thought about what happened over the course of two hours since they had met.

 

"Never mind that now.  You can tell me your life story once we're on board a boat.  But you.  You're gonna be my navigator," Udal decided.  Without waiting for Anyu to decide if she would accept his offer, Udal marched over to Anyu and patted her on the shoulder.  "Of the few things I know about you kids, I know you're from the Water Tribe.  Which means you know the waters.  So, we're gonna pick out a ship, you and me.  And then, whaddaya say?" Udal asked with a rather disturbing grin.  "You ready to go home, kid?"

 

A long and drawn out, "Uhhhhhh", indicated that Anyu wasn't prepared to accept such a responsibility.  But Udal was relentless.

 

"That's the spirit!" he said slapping her on the back and nearly causing her to topple over.  "Doc.  We'll be outta your hair.  You mind disabling your traps, or you are you going to make us take the long way out?" Udal asked, looking up to Orthro.

 

"Oh, heaven's no!  I can't turn off my traps!  Speaking of which, Udie.  I still need to address one or two things with you privately.  Kids!  Why don't you all find the corridor just next to my room.  There's a little switch beneath the bedside lamp that will open it.  We'll be with you shortly," Orthro said, pulling Udal aside as the others searched for Dr. Orthro's emergency exit.  

 

 

Tae Jin was the first to flip the switch beneath Dr. Orthro's lamp, a loud click occurring as she released the switch.  A following thud, and the screeching of stone and steel caused the Half-benders to turn around, and see a large stone slab sliding out of place from what was once the eastern wall of Dr. Orthro's bedroom.  On metal tracks, it slid backwards and into perfectly shaped grooves fitting the wall and hiding the slab inside of it.  "What's a cooked up old scientist need with an escape tunnel in the middle of the Spirit Vines?" Yao asked, to no one in particular.

 

"It's one of those 'just in case' scenarios," Dr. Orthro said, emerging from the 'lab' with a smile on his face.  "Udie designed it for me, since I hadn't the Earth Bending skills myself to move it all."

 

Udal nodded, brushing past Dr. Orthro and ducking down into the lengthy, two mile long, unlit tunnel that was ahead of them.  "He hasn't had to use it yet.  But we're gonna make use of this to avoid the old man's death traps.  Let's go," he said ushering the Half-benders forwards.  One by one, they filed into the tunnel, Udal the last of them, watching the Half-benders nonchalantly enter the tunnel.  

 

"Safe trip now kids!  Don't make too much trouble for Udie!" Dr. Orthro joked.

 

Udal shook his head, as the Half-benders were just out of earshot.  "How long had you known?" Udal said softly, just barely above whispering.

 

Dr. Orthro shook his head, sighing.  "I only found out recently.  I was doing some trial runs and it just sort of bothered me that this was all. . . .working.  And then--"

 

"Yeah.  Yeah, I get it," Udal said sighing.  "I'll figure it out.  Thanks old man," he said turning to enter the tunnel.  But Udal stopped, turning back to Orthro, poking his head back out of the tunnel.

 

"Something wrong?" Dr. Orthro asked.

 

But Udal shook his head.  "No, I was just wondering. . . did you ever get rid of the puzzle for the door?"

 

Dr. Orthro scratched his chin.  "You mean the exit do--oh.  Oh, right.  Nope!  It's still there!" he said with a grin.

 

"I hope these kids are smart then," Udal said, waving a hand to Dr. Orthro.  "Lock it up old man.  If I need you, I'll knock it down."

 

Dr. Orthro laughed, dismissing Udal.  "Good luck!  And try not to buy just any old ship!"

 

With the entrance sealing behind them, and the only light being Udal holding up a torch he snatched just before entering the tunnel, he passed it forwards to Anyu, who was his newly chosen guide.  "Let's go Tiny Girl.  Lead on," he said with a rather heavy handed, encouraging pat to her shoulder. 


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#17
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From the sound of things, it sounded as though the group would be checking in with the Water Tribe first. Were Anyu to speak, the sarcasm and false joy would be overflowing, but she instead opted to keep her mouth shut and think about that for a bit. Returning to the Water Tribe was the exact opposite of what she was up for at this time. After all, she'd come all this way from the middle of nowhere from the Water Tribe's territory, and now was being told to just turn around if she wanted her quest for the cure to continue. It also meant she'd be seeing a lot of the same sights she'd already seen, which defeated the secondary purpose of this mission; seeing and experiencing whatever else was out in the world. However, Udal seemed very set in his ways. She wouldn't be able to convince him to look at the Air Temples instead; no way.

 

"And I'll need a navigator. Someone who knows those. . . waters. . . "

 

Don't you dare.

 

"You. Girl."

 

Crap.

 

"I don't know your name. We never did get proper introductions did we? Never mind that now. You can tell me your life story once we're on board a boat. But you. You're gonna be my navigator. Of the few things I know about you kids, I know you're from the Water Tribe. Which means you know the waters. So, we're gonna pick out a ship, you and me. And then, whaddaya say? You ready to go home, kid?"

 

"Uhhhhh..." Well, apparently he knew where Anyu had come from. That was going to make convincing him even harder than it already would have been. Not only that, but she wasn't ready to have the lives of this many strangers on her shoulders; she'd come here to stop people from dying, and the possibility that she could botch up the navigation and cause even more to die instead, along with herself...

 

"That's the spirit! Doc. We'll be outta your hair. You mind disabling your traps, or you are you going to make us take the long way out?"

 

Not much of a listener, are you? Backing out wouldn't do her any good at this point, either. Whether she wanted to or not, she'd be navigating a ship back to her homeland. Doctor Orthro apparently wasn't willing to disable the traps, but it seemed there was another way out. An escape tunnel of some sort. That would be where the group would exit from, after Udal and Orthro finished talking about...whatever it was they had to discuss. Anyu still wasn't totally on-board with this whole navigator thing.

"What's a cooked up old scientist need with an escape tunnel in the middle of the Spirit Vines?"

 

"It's one of those 'just in case' scenarios. Udie designed it for me, since I hadn't the Earth Bending skills myself to move it all."

 

Just in case, huh? Paranoid old man, aren't you? One by one, ending with Udal, the group entered the tunnel before them; an exit to avoid Orthro's traps without forcing him to disable them, apparently. Behind them, the exit began sealing back up, and when all was sealed and shut, the only light in the tunnel was a torch held in Udal's hand. A torch he then brought to Anyu.

 

"Let's go Tiny Girl. Lead on."

 

"My name is Anyu," Anyu corrected, taking the torch into her own hand. "Not Tiny Girl." And so, onward she did lead. Torch in hand, Anyu took step by step in the tunnel that led out of the Spirit Vines, listening to the footsteps beneath and behind her. Not like there was too much else to focus on. She'd expected a long, uneventful walk in a dark tunnel, and for the most part, she was right. That was, however, until she came across something engraved upon the exit. Some kind of cheesy riddle.

 

I never hunger, but well fed, I shall grow. I am dry, and I thirst, yet never should I drink. What am I?

 

"Even when there aren't death traps, we get puzzles," Anyu lowly muttered, looking over the riddle a few times. These weren't her strong suit. Riddles simply weren't something she grew up with. She could tell anyone in this group all about agriculture or cooking, but riddles? Nope. The best she could fathom was a vague guess for the vague riddle. "I'm no riddle expert," Anyu started. "But the answer might be war? Bloodshed isn't exactly a good thing, and war makes for hostility, which makes for more war. Just a guess."


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#18
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The door clicked, shaking and grumbling as it slowly began to grind upwards.  

 

"Huh.  Good guess Anyu," Udal said with a cheeky grin.  "That wasn't so--" but Udal's voice was cut off by a giant slam, and dust crumbling from the ceiling as the door closed shut against the ground again.  Udal folded his arms, staring at the door angrily as if it had just insulted him.  "Y'know, I could try bending it outta the way," he said stretching his fingers.  "But risking E.D. over a puzzle is stupid," Udal noted, running his hands over the etched puzzle in the large stone door.  

 

"Well," he began, before turning back to the other Half-Benders.  "It isn't war.  Who else wants to give it a go?" he asked to none of them in particular.


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#19
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So it seemed that the group would be going to the Water Tribe. Of course, whether they decided to go to the North or the South might decide on their experience as a whole, Tae Jin knew from her own travels how different the two tribes were. Albeit their differences had faded slightly over the years, especially with the opening of the Spirit Portals, but it was still two very distinct cultures. As Udal began talking about a need for a navigator, Tae Jin thought about offering up the information that she was familiar with the area. Both North and South poles. She wasn't exactly confident she could navigate per se, as it had been several years since she had last visited, but it was better than nothing.

 

However, before she could, Udal singled another girl out of their group. Anyu. She was not just from water tribe descent but hailed from the poles as well. Udal had quickly appointed her as navigator, much to her own frustration it seemed. As the group began to walk out of Orthro's lab, Tae Jin taking the lead, she turned to the boy that had asked her name. "I'm Tae Jin, by the way. It's nice to meet you." In the whirlwind of events it was becoming quickly apparent that none of them had really taken the time to truly introduce themselves and even those that had were still complete strangers. 

 

Before long they had come to the end of the corridor, blocked by the puzzle door inscribed with the words: 

 

I never hunger, but well fed, I grow. I am dry, and I thirst, but never should I drink. What am I?

 

Their resident navigator was the first to answer, but Tae Jin instinctively shook her head. She wasn't trying to be rude, of course, although if anyone saw her they no doubt would think she was coming off as arrogant. Truth of the matter was, many of the monks at the temple loved their riddles and while Tae Jin had never been particularly good at listening to them, she had recently watched a mover in the city with a suspiciously similar riddle in it. Absentmindedly, she gnawed on her bottom lip, trying to remember the answer, before finally blurting out:

 

"Fire!" Realizing that she had again shouted, she cleared her throat and continued, this time now more abashed. "Sorry, uh, the answer, I think is fire. Fire can't actually be hungry, but if you feed it, it will grow. And of course, metaphorically fire could thirst but water puts it out." 


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"Udie, honestly, you'll face trials no matter which path you take.  But because this issue is very time sensitive, I suggest heading to the Water Tribe first."

 

Water Tribe? This would mean Shinya would be adding Tai-chi to his arsenal. Awesome...

 

"First time in a Water Tribe...this should be fun." Shinya spoke, crossing his arms with a small smile. He and the group prepared to leave, but was stopped only to hear Ortho WOULDN'T be turning off the traps. Oh brilliant...so this means we'll be navigating through that stuff and it's traps AGAIN. he thought, sighing slightly.

 

"Kids! Why don't you all find the corridor just next to my room. There's a little switch beneath the bedside lamp that will open it. We'll be with you shortly."

 

A secret corridor in the doctor's room? Quite frankly, that idea never exactly came to Shinya's mind at first. Nevertheless, if it meant they didn't have to trudge through the vines and the doctor's traps, he didn't complain.

 

Xvignette_zps578dff7a.png

 

"What's a cooked up old scientist need with an escape tunnel in the middle of the Spirit Vines?"

"It's one of those 'just in case' scenarios. Udie designed it for me, since I hadn't the Earth Bending skills myself to move it all."

 

Shinya shook his head at hearing Ortho's answer to Yao. "Acting a little paranoid there, doc." he simply said, entering through the corridor with the group. "Still, no death traps here so I suppose things could be a lot worse." Being optimistic about the current path they had to walk, Shinya could only keep up with the group after Udal finally joined them from his conversation with Ortho.

 

New plan...if we return to Republic City...I have to talk to Dr. Ortho...if only to ask him to teach me about Firebending... Shinya thought, sighing slightly. He couldn't get over the image of Ortho bending a blue flammed flower before them. It was a beautiful flame that his eyes saw...unlike the ones he saw back home on Shu Jing. Something about the blue flame that was shown made him feel...calm.

 

However, Shinya's thoughts were halted by the sight of a huge wall with a riddle engraved into it.

 

I never hunger, but well fed, I shall grow. I am dry, and I thirst, yet never should I drink. What am I?

 

To Shinya, riddles weren't the BEST thing he was good at, but some he could do. Hmm...that sounds like it would be wa-

 

"But the answer might be war?"

 

The sounds of the door shutting again after grinding upwards was heard in response. Well, Shinya's original answer was now thrown out of the window.

 

Well if it isn't war...hmmm... he thought for a moment, before sighing. The only other thing he came up seemed like something so simple and stupid at the same time. But right now, it wouldn't hurt to try. "Alright...just throwing an idea out there." Shinya cleared his throat, finally speaking up. "Could the answer be a f-?"

 

"Fire! Sorry, uh, the answer, I think is fire. Fire can't actually be hungry, but if you feed it, it will grow. And of course, metaphorically fire could thirst but water puts it out."

 

Shinya wanted to face palm at this point. That was another answer that someone else had thought of alongside him. He held his tongue hearing Tae Jin speak, only sighing and crossing his arms. Well damn...guess I better think of a different answer just in case... he thought.


Edited by Chaos Sonic, 03 August 2016 - 07:48 PM.





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