The Balance of Power
The Escort; Obtaining the Heart
Manhattan Isle, New York City
In a flash they arrived, thanks in due part to Dr. Banner's teleportation technology, and set foot on the tar-covered path. Overlooking the pond, Korra's eyes widened as she stared in awe at the towering skyscrapers not too far in the distance. She then began observing her surroundings, her sapphire-hued irises taking in everything before her. It was a beautiful summer day, the light of the sun warming the surroundings as a calming breeze gently passes.
Tourists were exploring the sights, taking pictures and doing other various activities. Families were having fun, settling down for picnics or partaking in joyful games. Some people were walking their pets, including a few large dogs that reminded Korra of her beloved Naga. Insects were humming in the trees, birds were chirping and flying through the air gracefully, and a few rogue squirrels proceeded to gather their nuts for the coming winter months.
It's so peaceful and tranquil. That is until Korra unleashed a loud 'whoo-hoo' that caught Dr. Banner and Skaar completely off-guard, not to mention having the effect of startling the surrounding people and causing them to glance in her direction. She was excited. Very excited, to be precise.
She had been wanting to explore this new world, especially after being cooped-up for way too long in that base that was, more or less, in a barren wasteland in the middle of nowhere. She turned back to Skaar and smiled, a smile that he returned. He liked to see her this way, happy and carefree, free of the turmoil and angst brought on by her being cast out from her world. Before he could react, she grabbed his arm and began pulling him along with her as they sprinted away.
"Come on, Skaar! Let's go!", Korra cheered, rushing off with her friend.
They didn't get too far. A firm hand belonging to a certain nuclear physicist stopped Korra and Skaar dead in their tracks as it came to rest on the female Avatar's left shoulder. She should of know that Dr. Banner, also known to her as Mr. Killjoy, wasn't going to allow her free reign to explore the city.
"Hold on a second there, Korra. You didn't honestly think I'd let you and Skaar wander around Manhattan without someone else keeping you under close observation, did you?", Dr. Banner said, a slight smirk appearing on his face.
"Pfft! Figured there would be a catch.", Korra grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest as she took on an annoyed expression.
"You don't know this world, let alone this city. And while I know you and Skaar are more than capable of taking care of yourselves, I'd prefer if our visit would remain secretive. The last thing I want is either of you two tearing up the city or slugging it out with its heroes.", Dr. Banner stated, making it quite clear to her as to why he did not want her running around the city unsupervised.
"Why not? I bet me and Skaar could take them!", Korra jests, draping her arm around her best friend's shoulders and giving him a playful squeeze.
"Heh.", Skaar chuckled, a devious smirk forming on his features.
"You won't have to. She should be here any minute.", Banner replied, looking down at his handheld device.
"Yeah, I'm not too keen on having a bodyguard, let alone a babysitter. What about you, Skaar?", Korra remarked before asking her comrade in arms.
"Not really. I fought monsters and barbarians alone on Sakaar since my birth. I can take care of myself.", Skaar answers in response to the Avatar's inquiry.
"See? We can handle this. Go see this Reed Richards or whatever his name is. We'll be fine on our own.", Korra said, trying her best to convince Skaar's father to let them go off by themselves... and failing miserably.
"You won't be on your own for long, because she'll be arriving in a few seconds.", Banner assured them, not even bothering to glance over his shoulder at Korra and Skaar.
"She? Who are you talking about?", Korra questions, arching an eyebrow as she placed her hands on her hips.
Something, or rather someone, smashed feet first into the earth less than a couple hundred yards away from where Skaar, Korra, and Dr. Banner stood. Once the dust had settled, they could make out of tall, feminine figure. It was then that Bruce Banner approached without any semblance of caution or fear, seemingly knowing that it was the person he'd been expecting. The person, whoever she was, advanced until she met Banner halfway. It was then that Korra could better make out the woman's unique, yet familiar appearance.
It was quite clear that, given her green skin and size, that she was definitely a She-Hulk. She was smaller than Jen or Betty, but she still possessed a very solid, lithe build akin to the other She-Hulks. Her attire, a one-piece suit made of unstable molecules that was not unlike those worn by the other She-Hulks and the superhero team known as the Fantastic Four, consisted mostly of crimson and golden hues. Her hair was of a natural crimson-red in color, its length exceeding down past her shoulders; her eyes were of a gentle emerald, reminding Korra of Asami Sato in some aspects.
She was known to many as Lyra Banner, the Savage She-Hulk, the daughter of Thundra and the Hulk. Since arriving to this world, she has fought to protect this world alongside her fellow heroes, including the other Hulks. She was trained, and often partnered, with Jen and Betty before she was enrolled into the Avengers Academy. It was there that she made friends with teenage heroes close to her own age, including Laura Kinney, the female clone of the mutant Wolverine who went by the codename of X-23.
"Sorry I was late. Laura was a bit ticked off and needed someone to talk to. She wasn't too thrilled to hear that my little brother was hanging out with another girl.", Lyra spoke in a nonchalant tone of voice.
"It's good to see you again, Lyra.", Dr. Banner replied with an honest smile.
"Father.", Lyra said in a low voice.
"Who is she?", Korra questions, leaning in close to speak with Skaar, her voice just short of a whisper.
"She's my sister.", Skaar answers casually.
"Whoa! Hold on a second! You have a sister... and you never told me?", Korra exclaimed, her outburst not going unnoticed by either Banner or Lyra.
"Well, she's actually my half-sister. Same father, different mothers. And I didn't tell you because you never asked.", Skaar clarified calmly.
"Oh, I see how it is.", Korra said, pretending to be offended.
"What?", Skaar asks, arching an eyebrow as he stared at his friend.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just wondering what other secrets you're keeping from me.", Korra answers, immediately getting a verbal reply from the teenage Oldstrong.
"And I guess you don't have any secrets?", Skaar retorts.
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't. That's for me to know, and you to find out.", Korra responded almost teasingly, giving Skaar a rough, friendly push.
"Is that a challenge?", Skaar inquired with a dangerous smirk.
"Maybe.", Korra answered with a playful smirk of her own.
"Ahem! Korra, I would like to introduce you to my daughter: Lyra.", Dr. Banner said, introducing the red-haired heroine to the multiple-element manipulating teenager.
"Hi. It's an honor meeting you.", Korra greets with a wave.
"Likewise, Korra. I heard a lot about you from Jen, Betty, and Marlo. I told a few of my friends about you, and they wouldn't mind meeting you. Oh, and just so you know, you might want to be on the outlook for a girl named Laura Kinney. She's about 5'6", has long dark hair, green eyes, and she kinda has a dark & brooding personality.", Lyra greeted in return while informing the female Avatar of a certain mutant individual who was most likely going to hunt her down and confront her directly at some point or another.
"Okay... why?", Korra asks, appearing a bit hesitant and confused.
"She's very fond of my brother, and a bit overprotective of him. When I told her about you... well, let's just say she wasn't too excited about it.", Lyra answers.
That was a major understatement. If she was really honest, Laura was raging enough to make even the Hulk proud. It all started when Skaar began visiting and staying at the Avengers Academy. He would spend days, even a few weeks there with Lyra and her friends/classmates, as if he were on some kind of vacation when he wasn't at Gamma World or out exploring the planet with their father. During that time, he formed a very close bond with Laura Kinney.
Surprisingly enough, the son of Hulk and the biological daughter of Wolverine had a lot in common. They both have fathers with anger issues, their early lives were very tragic and horrific, they were seen only as monsters to most of the world, and they both went through plenty of obstacles and trials in order to find themselves and decide their own destiny. It was only a matter of time before Skaar and Laura became close friends, though Lyra could sense that there was something more, that there was a spark between them.
However, when questioned, neither Skaar nor Laura admitted anything to Lyra, but then again... their reactions more than answered her inquiries. They cared about one another greatly, that much she was certain of. This was only further proven to Lyra when she mentioned Korra to her fellow classmates, including a very enraged Laura who marched off to brood alone. She could only begin to imagine what would happen once Laura and Korra met face-to-face. It most likely wouldn't be pretty, she was sure of that fact.
"Do you know who your sister is talking about, 'cause I'm not sure I do.", Korra said, looking to her friend for a further explanation.
"Laura is one of our friends. She and I are... kindred spirits. We've experienced similar pasts.", Skaar stated after releasing a light sigh.
"You mean she was born on a fiery, monster-filled planet?", Korra asks, arching a disbelieving/challenging eyebrow.
"No, but she was created to be a weapon, trained to be a killer, and considered a monster by most of the puny humans. But she isn't. She's just different.", Skaar informed, trying to make Korra understand as best as he could.
"So... she's kind of like you. That doesn't sound so bad.", Korra said with a light chuckle.
"He failed to mention that she's got a wicked temper, and that she has a pair of retractable metal claws in each of her arms.", Lyra chuckled, looking on as Korra turned to glare at the Savage She-Hulk's half-brother.
"Really, Skaar? You couldn't tell me that?", Korra deadpanned.
"You didn't ask.", Skaar responds in his usual monotone voice.
"Now that you're all acquainted, I'll be on my way. Make sure you keep them out of trouble, Lyra.", Dr. Banner said, getting ready to use his Banner-tech device to teleport himself to his intended destination.
"I'll try my best, but I'm not making any promises.", Lyra replied.
"Fair enough.", Dr. Banner said with a smirk.
"Oh, and Korra...", Dr. Banner spoke, waiting for a verbal response from the female Avatar.
"Yeah?", Korra responded.
"Don't cause any trouble. You know how I get when I'm... perturbed.", Dr. Banner stated in a stern tone of voice, not that it had much effect on Korra.
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever.", Korra grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
Then, with a touch of a button and in a flash of light, Dr. Bruce Banner disappears from the area, teleporting to the Baxter Building where he was scheduled to meet Dr. Reed Richards. Now that her biological father was gone, Lyra turned her attention back to her half-brother and his new feminine, multi-elemental friend. And she knew just what they all needed!
"Okay, guys! Now that I'm in charge, it's time for a little sight-seeing and fun! Who's with me?!", Lyra shouts out in cheering declaration.
"Count me in!", Korra exclaimed in full agreement.
"Let's bathe the city in blood.", Skaar added, his somewhat sinister remark causing both Korra and Lyra to stare at him.
"Uh... nice one?", Korra manages to speak, an awkward smile gracing her features.
"I think you meant 'let's go paint the town red', little brother.", Lyra stated with an amused chuckle.
"Whatever.", Skaar scoffed, shrugging his shoulders.
And with that, the three young adults set out on their adventure through the city of Manhattan. Unknown to them, they were all currently under the surveillance of several beings. One was a representative of an entire meta-human race; another is a member of a secret organization that protects the world from the dangers that would threaten the planet; and then there was the heroes who sought to protect the city. They were aware of their presence, and they'd continue to monitor their activities until it was time to take action into their own hands.
On Another World, Within Another Universe
The Nexus of the Spiritual and Physical World
A powerful burst of Old Power energy slams into the last Elemental Guardian, ripping through the earth, water, fire, air, and energies that made up its form. It collapsed to the temple floors, motionless and devoid of life much like its fellow Guardians. But Hiro-Kala knew better, he understood that it would only be a matter of time before the Elemental Guardians reformed to challenge him again. He had to act swiftly if he was to retrieve the Heart.
Marching towards the stone column where the Heart resided, Hiro-Kala let a sinister, triumphant smile form on his face. However, just as he came to a stop at the stone column, a mystical force-field manifests and encircles the Heart. It was a last line of defense, the only thing protecting the Heart from Hiro-Kala and keeping it out of his grasp.
Unleashing a primal scream, Hiro-Kala summons the Old Power to his fingers, the energies creating ten, talon-like claws. Lunging forward, the Old Power energy talons pierce through the mystical force-field, and with a mighty heave, Hiro-Kala rips it asunder with a ferocity that mirrored that of his father's own. For a few seconds, he merely stares at the radiant, glowing oval-shaped object that rested atop the stone column. Reaching forward, he grasped the Heart of this world within his hands and lifted it from its resting place atop the stone column.
Bringing the mystical/spiritual artifact closer to his heart, Hiro-Kala absorbs the radiant object into his very being, creating a blinding burst of powerful energies that merged with his Old Power. Water, Earth, Fire, Air, and Energy converged around Hiro-Kala, lashing out at the surroundings with the might of the most powerful of hurricanes and tornadoes this world has ever seen. Now he not only possessed the Old Power, but the raw elemental powers of the Avatar and the immense mystical/spiritual power of the World-Heart. He was now one of the most powerful beings to have ever walk this world.
"The Heart is mine.", Hiro-Kala proclaims in a whisper.
Despite that he succeeded in obtaining new-found power to heighten his already immense might, he knew that there were still other tasks that needed completion. A dark, endless army had to be awakened, to be wielded like a sword to slaughter the people of this world. The Celestial Darkness, Aku-Tonrar, must be freed of its imprisonment and unleashed upon all that stood against him. Only then would he be able to triumph over his enemies, only then would he take this world and create a new Sakaar. And once that was done, his reign of power over this universe would begin.
Utilizing his incredible mastery of mind and body, Hiro-Kala summons a portal from the very spiritual/mystical energies of the planet, an ability derived from the World-Heart that he had consumed and merged within himself. Stepping forward, Hiro-Kala walks through the portal, disappearing from sight. And just as suddenly as he disappeared, so did the portal blink out of existence. Conquest was at hand. Nothing would stand in his way.
Hear my cry.
My eyes are burning.
My heart is ice.
My night is full of death.