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Chapter 14 - The EmpressEdit

Just Outside the Cave of WhispersEdit

Katrina took off at a run as Lefko and the mysterious person with him came in for a landing, leaving them in coughing in a huge cloud of dust whipped up in her wake. Aang lowered his cape, which he had raised to keep the dust out of his and Katara's faces, "So Grand Master Daimonas has returned? He must be here to see me." Sokka coughed out a little dust, "good thing there's actually something to see now. What happened to you down there?"

Aang grinned, "I got some good advice." He looked at his cape, "And a cool cape. Come on, let's go meet this Grand Master." He took off at a brisk walk. The others blinked and then the Churaians leapt to their feet, "Yes sir!" They leapt into formation around him, Tonis and Mundo out front and Chuckles falling in step behind him. Sokka and Katara swapped a stunned glance and then hurried to catch up.

Katara caught up and looped an arm through Aang's left arm, giving him a quick peck on the cheek before clinging to him with a smile while Sokka rolled his eyes from Aang's right. Aang looked at her, and she grinned, "Well now that you've learned some manners I don't mind." Aang raised an eyebrow and looked at the large scar on his forehead before looking back at her, "And what if I do?" She stopped him, turned his face to hers and gave him a deep kiss, "I'll persuade you otherwise."

Aang grinned smugly, "Well alright then. If you insist, you may endeavor to persuade me after we have greeted Grand Master Daimonas." She smiled cheerfully as they walked on. Sokka and Chuckles traded a glance, Chuckles' sympathetic and Sokka's exhausted.

A Few Moments LaterEdit

Aang stopped in his tracks as he beheld the two people standing in the circle of stunned and delighted Spirit Callers. Lefko Daimonas was immediately identifiable by the fact that he was hugging Katrina and Gelio. The other person however was the one that made Aang stop and stare, "Chara?"

The beautiful young woman turned to look at him and he saw that she had a crown of bone spikes and was dressed in the multicultural garb of an Empress. She smiled and made Aang's heart skip several beats as Aang realized when he saw her eyes that it couldn't possibly be Chara, "You must be Aang. I've heard so much about you." She tilted her head, "I am Empress Omen." She suddenly moved with the speed of a master Vampiri and was right in front of Aang and Katara, looking closely at Katara.

Katara found herself rooted to the spot by Omen's gaze, the crimson eyes seeming to burrow into her soul as Omen asked, "And who's this? A Vampiri, but nobody I've ever seen. You must be from the Southern City." Then she turned her gaze to Sokka and was suddenly behind him with a hand on his shoulder, "And this must be your..." She leaned closer to Sokka and sniffed his carotid artery, a fanged smile growing, "Brother. Cute." Sokka looked over his shoulder and she smiled sweetly, "Sorry handsome, I've already found an Emperor."

She suddenly appeared on Chuckles' shoulder, perched like a bird and surveying the brothers, "The Churaian Brothers. Marrow and Lefko have told me so much about you. I'm standing among legends." She suddenly appeared on the ground in front of Aang again, this time looking him in the eye, seeing if she could root him to the ground with the same ease she had Katara, "You certainly look like an Emperor, but are you? I don't think there've ever been two of us at the same time."

Aang raised an eyebrow, completely unaffected by her gaze, "I am Emperor Aang." His eyes suddenly glowed with spectral energy and spikes erupted down the length of his arms, radiating the light of the Death Touch. Omen smiled and placed a hand on his chest, hooking a finger into the collar of his shirt with a smile as she grew claws and bone spikes along her forearms and knuckles and her eyes began to glow with the light of the Death Touch, "And I am Empress Omen." She suddenly yanked him forward into a kiss.

Aang thought about resisting for all of an instant, then thought better of it as he realized she was an extremely good kisser. Everyone who could see the exchange stared slack-jawed as the two Imperials embraced. All except for Katara, who frowned irritably as she realized she had just been replaced.

A Few Hours Later, The Welcome FeastEdit

Omen leaned against Aang with his arm draped over her shoulder, a smug grin on her face. She smiled up at Aang and asked quietly, "Hey, what was that you called me earlier? When you first saw me. Sounded like carrot?" Aang winced slightly, "Chara. Before I disappeared, I was deeply enamored with a woman named Chara. She was the great-great-great-granddaughter of Empress Yang-Chen. You look just like them both." Omen hmm-ed, "Well, I guess that's a compliment. I hear Yang-Chen was quite the beauty."

Aang chuckled lightly, "Oh, you are all three peas in a pod, and Chara was the most beautiful woman I've ever met, although I think you may have taken that title now." Katara hmph-ed from a few seats down and Omen smiled as she swallowed her food, "I'm guessing from the indignant snort a few seats down that I'm not the first girl you've said that to recently." Aang winced as he remembered Katara was there, "Ah yeah. Well, that was a day for putting my foot in my mouth." Omen smiled, "Is that when she gave you that scar?"

Aang looked at her and blinked, "Yeah, how'd you know?" Omen smiled up at him, "I'm a smart girl Aang. Get used to it." Aang blinked and then smiled smugly, gorgeous and smart. Then suddenly Omen's hand strayed to his thigh, "Oh by the way," Aang looked and she caught his gaze with that easy crimson stare, "Imperials have always had consorts, but I'll warn you now, I'm an Imperial too." She raised a hand to his jaw and smiled, "and I am equal parts possessive and vindictive."

She leaned up and kissed him, "No parties without inviting me, or I'll have some without inviting you." She smiled and leaned back against him, happily taking another bite of her food. Aang stared, uncertain of what she had just told him. Then Omen smiled, "She's cute. Maybe after we've had some alone time." Aang smiled broadly as she chuckled and Katara, who had very sharp hearing, nearly choked on her food and looked at them.

Omen smiled cheerfully and waved a little, earning a laugh from Aang and a stunned stare from Katara.

The Next EveningEdit

Aang hugged Omen, "Are you sure you want to do this?" She nodded and kissed him gently, "If we're to be equals, then I need to be able to do anything you can." Aang hugged her a little more tightly, mortified by her decision but resigned to the fact that he couldn't change her mind, "Please, be careful. The whispers are not always kind, people have been utterly destroyed in this cave."

Omen smiled and kissed him again, smiling confidently, "People can be broken by a lot of things. How many Imperials have died of anything other than old age?" "Thirty two," Aang replied bluntly. Omen blinked in surprise, "How many of unnatural causes?" "Twenty four." "And of things that could have been easily avoided?" "Nine." "Out of how many?" "One hundred and forty two, not counting us." Omen smiled reassuringly, "See? I'll be fine!"

Before Aang could protest further she gave him a quick kiss and stepped back, turning to face the Spirit Caller Council, "I am ready." Lefko, whose seniority had proven to supersede Psithyros', nodded, "Then we wish you luck Empress Omen. May you return safely from your ordeal." Omen nodded and entered the tunnel.

Half an Hour LaterEdit

A shriek emanated from the tunnel and then something exploded through the side of the mountain, roaring ferociously as Aang yelled, "OMEN!" and ran for the tunnel entrance as the others either scattered or leapt to engage the massive creature that had just emerged. Aang dodged between the falling rocks and shot down the tunnel as fast as his feet could carry him.

Meanwhile the others were busily engaging the huge creature as it slammed to the ground. It was so dark it was almost black and glowed with green light. It had several arms and an armored carapace that turned every spectral blade that was brought against it as the Spirit Callers opened fire. Dread-Eye whipped off his eye-patch and poured everything he had into the massive blast of energy that slammed into the creature.

The creature was knocked back into the mountainside, but then it began to push forward through the beam, which shattered and split off around it, the deadly purple rays splitting around it ensuring nobody was able to attack it and stall its progress. Then suddenly it was right on top of Dread-Eye. It reached out and placed a hand over his eye, causing the power of the eye to splash back onto him, burning him horribly in the seconds it took Chuckles to fire a volley of arrows into its skull and startle it.

It let go and Dread-Eye collapsed, the power of his eye fading as he lost consciousness, just in time for Chit-Sang and Mundo to leap forward and punch the monster with everything they had. It didn't budge even an inch backwards, instead their fists sank a little ways into it and stopped like it was made of sand. Chuckles launched a volley of arrows into a tight grouping in the center of its chest and they all buried themselves in the creature, which did make it flinch a little. Then Tonis leapt from behind and cleaved the huge creature in half from the top of its head to the center of its chest.

Everyone assembled began to applaud, certain the creature was dead as Chit-Sang, Mundo and Tonis stepped back and Chuckles lowered his bow. Then the creature's halves fused back into one, it pulled Tonis's axe from its stomach, shot the arrows back out at random angles with the force of cannon fire, decking Chuckles as his arrows slammed into his armor and badly wounding and killing many of the Spirit Callers who had no such armor. Then with lightning speed it punched Chit-Sang to the edge of the clearing before swinging a kick into Mundo that sent him to his knees and smacking Tonis away with his own axe and sending it flying after him, whirling like a disc of death.

Those watching scattered, certain that all left in the clearing were doomed.

Next Time: KohEdit