The Balance of Power
The Statue of Liberty
Words could not describe the sights she had seen, the sights that this city had were extraordinary. They visited the Central Park Zoo, where she'd seen all sorts of exotic animals. Then, they visited the Empire State Building, a structure that dwarfed even the largest building in Republic City. But her adventures with Skaar and Lyra through the city did not end there.
She really enjoyed her visit American Museum of Natural History, where she closely inspected and investigated the various artifacts and treasures until a certain security guard warned her not to touch anything after she almost destroyed a priceless vase. When she went to Chinatown, she couldn't help but be reminded of her world, especially when they stopped for some noodles at a shop that reminded her of Narook's Seaweed Noodlery in Republic City. Thankfully, her sorrow did not last, most in due part to Skaar and Lyra who made sure to keep her spirits up.
After they departed Chinatown, the trio ventured to Madison Square Garden to watch a live wrestling event. It was then that a challenge was made by the Champion of the Women's Division, one that Korra eagerly accepted. She was initially mocked by the Woman's Champion, whom Korra proceeded to pummel and defeat within a matter of moments... without having to resort to using her bending. Triumphant, she proudly marched back to her seat in the front row to sit in-between Skaar and Lyra to enjoy the rest of the night's matches.
After leaving Madison Square Garden, the three teenagers visited the Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial, where Korra paid her respect to those who died in the tragedy caused by insane, horrible, religious zealots who killed for no other reason than to send a message and attempt to enforce their will upon others. She hated people like them, people who reminded her of Amon and Unalaq. In her mind, people like them were worse than any monster or beast that could ever be spawned.
Some of the Hulks may look imposing and monstrous, but they were far from being monsters. They were noble, heroic, powerful beings. Sure, some of them had bad tempers, but then again she could understand why. The world, and most people for that matter, only judged them by their appearance without actually getting to know them for who they truly are. Underneath all that rage and power, they were as human as anyone else. Lyra was a perfect example, especially now that she reverted to her human form before venturing out with Skaar and herself to explore the various places within the island of Manhattan.
Korra had seen and explored all of this extraordinary places in Manhattan. Now, she and her two comrades were visiting the Statue of Liberty site. Needless to say, all of this sight-seeing and exploring did leave her a bit fatigued. Finding a bench, Lyra and Korra rested as they ate their ice cream which was provided to them by a friendly vendor. Skaar, on the other hand, continued to devour his bucket of ice cream with a ravenous appetite that could rival the hungriest polar bear-dog as he remained seated on the soft grass less than thirty feet away from their location.
"So, what do you think of Manhattan now that you've explored it?", Lyra inquires, a genuine smile gracing her features.
"It's great. It's kinda like Republic City... only bigger.", Korra answers, shrugging her shoulders as she felt the gentle sea breeze wash over her.
"You miss your world, don't you?", Lyra asks, resting a tender hand on the girl's shoulder.
"Yeah, but mostly my friends and family. I wouldn't know what I would do if I didn't have Skaar, Rick, Jen and Betty. They really helped me get through this.", Korra confessed, leaning back against the bench.
"Don't worry. You'll see your friends and family soon. My father will make sure of it.", Lyra assured her, hoping that her optimism would uplift the female Avatar's spirit.
"Speaking of Dr. Banner, I noticed that you and your father don't seem to be very close.", Korra remarked, noticing that Lyra tensed a bit when she brought up the topic of her father.
"It's... complicated.", Lyra sighed, avoiding eye contact with Korra.
"It doesn't have to be. Mind telling me?", Korra replied casually.
"Do I have a choice?", Lyra questions.
"Not really. If you don't tell me, I can always call Jen. I know she'll tell me.", Korra responds evenly.
"Is that a threat?", Lyra chuckled, turning her gaze in order to meet the Avatar's own.
"Maybe. So, what's it gonna be?", Korra retorts with a sly smirk.
When she gazed at Korra, Lyra knew that there wasn't going to be any way of deterring the Avatar from getting the answers that she seeks. There was no use fighting it, no use trying to avoid the discussion. If Korra had to learn the truth, it would be best if it was from her. With a heavy sigh, Lyra began to explain to Korra the abbreviated story as to why she did not have a relationship with her father. It meant recalling the past, of memories she longed to forget.
"I'm not from this world, Korra. Where I came from, men and women fought for dominance. I was created to be the perfect weapon, a warrior of the highest order. And it was from the Hulk's blood, his DNA, that I was even born. He is my Father. But you must understand, from the world I came from, to have a father is a sin. If you were to have a father you were considered impure, imperfect... a freak.", Lyra began, glancing out of the corner of her eye to see that Korra was intently listening to her.
"No child in Milago had a father. No one, except me. And even though he is my father only by name and genetics, it was enough of a sin to cause the rest of the sisterhood to torment me in every cruel way imaginable. I blamed my father for everything. It takes every ounce of sense and control not to hate him. I never wanted a father. Now or ever.", Lyra continued until she finished, her tone becoming somewhat bitter and resentful as she lowered her head while unconsciously clenching her hands into fists.
For what seemed like a long time there was silence. There was a reason for it. Korra had taken in everything that Lyra revealed to her, allowing herself to formulate a well thought out response. She really wanted to help Lyra, but not just for the She-Hulk's sake. She wanted to help Dr. Banner as well. It was the least she could do after everything he's done, including putting up with her attitude even as he worked day and night on the device that would allow her to return home.
"No offense, but this isn't the world you grew up on, Lyra. Besides, it wasn't Dr. Banner's fault at all for what happened to you. Listen, I think I can relate to you on some level. Trust me, I would sometimes get very angry with my dad. There was even a few times that I secretly wished that I didn't even know him.", Korra responds, her mind recalling when she herself wasn't speaking to her father when her uncle Unalaq manipulated her.
"But then I realized that it wasn't me that was saying that, that it wasn't how I really felt. It was my anger and frustration speaking for me. Once I calmed down and thought it all through, I realized the truth. My dad has always been there for me. He's always there to protect me, to comfort and understand me, to help me get through anything. He would do anything for me, because I knew that he cared about me.", Korra continued, turning her gaze in order to make eye contact with Lyra as she spoke.
"What's your point?", Lyra asked, wanting to get to the point of their discussion.
"My point is that you shouldn't take out your anger and frustrations on your father, especially since he's done absolutely nothing to you. He wasn't responsible for what happened to you, he didn't raise you on that world and force you to go through that kind of torment. I bet he didn't even know you existed. But I have a feeling that if he did, he would have done everything in his power to take you away from that life and raise your around people who would love and care for you.", Korra answered.
"What do you suggest I do?", Lyra questions.
"I suggest that you should give him a chance, Lyra. It's the least you can do for him. I mean, like it or not, he's the only real father that you're gonna have. And I'm willing to bet that he would appreciate you giving him this chance. After all, all parents care about their children. He probably cares more about you more than you know or even realize.", Korra responds, giving the best possible advice she can offer.
It was then Lyra took everything into consideration, everything that she and Korra discussed. And she came to this conclusion. She was right. She was right about everything. But could she give her father a chance, would she be able to reach out to him? All she knew is that she had to try, if not for herself or even for her father, at least for Korra.
"I... I'll consider it.", Lyra said in a low voice.
"That's what I was hoping you'd say.", Korra replied, smiling at the teenage She-Hulk.
"Thanks, Korra.", Lyra said with an honest smile of gratitude.
"Don't mention it. It's what I do.", Korra replied as her and Lyra stood to their feet.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Skaar rushes forward and grabs Korra by the arm before judo throwing her to the grass-covered earth. Lyra was just about to ask her half-brother what had gotten into him, but Korra soon beat her to the punch with her following exclamation. It was then that she knew that things were about to get very interesting.
"Hey! No fair! I wasn't ready!", Korra exclaimed, glaring at her attacker.
"Heh. That's the point. It's a surprise attack.", Skaar retorts with a sly, devious smirk.
"Oh, that's it! You're so dead, Skaar!", Korra proclaimed, getting up and leaping at Skaar, spearing him to the ground and resuming their competitive yet friendly struggle of dominance.
"Rough and tumble sparring? That's what you two consider to be fun?", Lyra laughed, shaking her head slightly in amusement as she watched Skaar and Korra wrestle with one another.
It was a fast and furious struggle, with neither Korra or Skaar gaining an edge. They would tackle each other, use submission holds, judo throws, and anything else at their disposal in order to gain an advantage. And while their rough and tumble sparring looked vicious and serious to an observer, in reality it was fun and amusing for the two headstrong teenagers.
"You better Hulk-Out, Skaar, 'cause that's the only way I see you winning.", Korra remarks, holding Skaar temporarily captive in a full nelson submission hold.
"Don't need to Hulk-Out. I'm already strong enough to beat you.", Skaar grunts out, flipping Korra over his head and onto the ground.
"Yeah, in your dreams maybe!", Korra scoffed, quickly rising to her feet and tackling Skaar to the grassy earth.
Watching from the sidelines, Lyra couldn't help but be entertained by the playful conflict going on between her brother and the female Avatar. There was only one other female individual who sparred with Skaar in a similar manner, one who'd become close to him and often trained with him at the Avengers Academy. Just as Korra managed to pin Skaar to the ground, gripping his wrists within her hands as she straddled his waist, Lyra seen someone quickly approaching them. It didn't take Lyra long to discover the identity of this person, because it could only be her.
"Got ya!", Korra shouts, using her strength to try and keep her friend pinned beneath her.
"It's not over yet!", Skaar grunted, fighting as much as possible to overthrow and eliminate Korra's advantage in their rough and tumble session.
A savage, primal scream tears through the air. Before Korra can even fully avert her gaze in the direction that the sound came from, she's tackled off of Skaar and sent rolling across the landscape by a mysterious feminine figure. Rising and immediately getting into a fighting stance, Korra comes to look upon a young woman with long, dark, raven-black hair and jade irises. She was wearing a black tank top t-shirt and a matching pair of black jeans; Korra took notice that she was also wearing some kind of black collar necklace and black armbands.
"Laura?", Skaar said in a voice just higher than a whisper, surprise clearly evident in his voice.
"Leave him alone.", X-23 warns, narrowing her emerald irises at the elemental teenager.
"Who are you?", Korra asks, watching as a pair of metallic, claw-like blades unsheathed themselves from Laura's clenched fists.
"I'm guessing you're Laura.", Korra remarks, an awkward/nervous smile forming on her face.
"RAAAH!", Laura snarled, lunging forward to attack.
"Whoa! Why are you attacking me?!", Korra yells, barely dodging the adamantium claws of her feminine berserker.
"Because you attacked him... and I don't like your face.", Laura replied in a low, menacing voice.
"What? I didn't attack him!", Korra exclaims, standing her ground and awaiting for X-23 to make her move.
"I don't like liars, either.", Laura hissed, rushing forward at incredible speed.
Taking the defensive, Korra dodges and blocks Laura's strikes, making sure to avoid those deadly claws at all costs. She manages to grab Laura by the forearm, pulling her close to drive a powerful knee shot to X-23's abdomen before balling her right fist up and striking Laura in the face. The assault did manage to drive Laura a few feet away, but it would only be temporary. Wiping the blood away from her lip, Laura focused her intense gaze on Korra once again.
Laura wasn't going to allow this girl to get the best of her. She wouldn't give up, not until she ripped this woman to pieces. She tried to hurt Skaar, one of the few people in her life that meant anything to her, and she wasn't going to let that go unavenged. A single retractable adamantium claw unsheathed themselves from her boots, the sight causing Korra's arctic-blue eyes to widen in disbelief.
"You've got claws in your feet?! Seriously?!", Korra screamed, somersaulting away from an attack that could have quite possibly disemboweled her.
"Okay, you wanna fight? Let's fight!", Korra bellowed, having had enough of playing defense.
Using her earthbending, Korra uproots a dozen bowling ball-sized chunks of rock and launches them at X-23. The mutant clone of Wolverine destroys a few of the earth-based missiles with quick strikes of her adamantium blades, while using her agility and speed to maneuver around the chunks of earth. Switching tactics, Korra utilizes her firebending to assault Laura, her bursts of flame sending X-23 crashing backwards. The tables had turned, Laura on the defense and Korra on the offense.
Laura could feel her flesh burn and regenerate after withstanding every powerful burst of flame that Avatar Korra bombarded her. And with the pain she felt, her rage spiked to another level. Nearing berserker mode, X-23 rushes forward and attacks with renewed ferocity. Slicing through chunks of earth, withstanding bursts of fire, she gets in close and strikes. Her claws slash Korra's right cheek, spilling crimson liquid that proceeds to slowly stream down the female Avatar's face.
First blood. A small wound, but a very noticeable one. Pain, anger, outrage. This is what Korra felt at this particular moment when her flesh was torn and her blood was spilt. She had enough of this. She was going to take X-23 down... hard!
Eyes glowing brilliant white, Korra summons a cyclone with her airbending that lifts X-23 hundreds of feet into the air before extinguishing it. Laura falls to the earth below, the impact of her crash-landing leaving a small crater in its wake. But Korra's assault did not end there, for it had just begun. Lightning streamed from Korra's hands, striking Laura's body and sending her form tearing through the nearby surroundings even as the electromagnetic energy shocked her entire system relentlessly. Her snarls and cries of pain were drowned out by the bolts of lightning that surged forth to hit her again and again, burning her flesh and making her form spasm in intense pain.
Suddenly, the bolts of lightning ceased. Everything was silent. Forcing herself up to her feet, Laura soon discovered why the assault had seemingly ended. A massive, circular slab of solid earth loomed above her head, while several feet away Avatar Korra stood glaring at her with those eerie glowing eyes. With a simple gesture of her hands, Korra brought the circular slab of stone down upon X-23's form, smashing her down the ground with tremendous force. Again and again Korra repeated this violent punishment until the very slab shattered into several sections of earth.
Laura's form lay still, seemingly unconscious after such a brutal assault, her chest rising and falling slightly as she breathed. Convinced that the conflict was over, Korra's eyes returned to their normal shade of arctic-blue as she powered down. She turned and began walking away, but then her seismic sense picked up something moving from the sight where Laura's body resided. When Korra turned around, she was quite shocked to find X-23 standing tall, her jade irises focused solely on the female Avatar.
Her adamantium claws remained sheathed, hidden beneath her flesh. There was a reason for why Laura kept them sheathed beneath her flesh. She wanted to fight Korra with nothing more than her fists, to pummel Korra to a bloody pulp with her bare hands. Then, whenever she got done busting the elemental girl's body up with her fists, she'd resume to eviscerate and dismember Korra bit by bit with her claws.
"Okay, bitch, let's try this again. GRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!", Laura snarled, rushing in to fight Korra head-on, who immediately responded to the challenge.
The two women collide, they impact taking them to the earth. Rolling along the ground, Korra and Laura viciously punched, kicked, and pull at one another's hair. Even as they got to their feet they fought, delivering powerful blows to their faces and bodies. It got really intense when X-23 delivered a skull-busting head-butt to Korra, who responded in kind with a violent head-butt of her own, the impact of their head-banging resounding throughout the vicinity.
This was it. No elemental bending, no adamantium claws. Just two strong, aggressive, determined, angry young women duking it out. Their bodies, mostly their fists and feet, becoming their main weapons in this conflict. And in the end, only one of them would walk away. Or at least that's what both Laura and Korra believed.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Skaar and Lyra looked on, seemingly frozen in place as Laura and Korra resumed pummeling one another. If this conflict wasn't resolved, and soon, someone would be killed. And in her mind, Lyra believed if anyone could defuse this situation, it would be Skaar. After all, he was close to both Laura and Korra, so it was only logical that he'd be able to convince them to stop trying to murder one another.
"Shouldn't you do something?", Lyra said, crossing her arms and staring into the eyes of her half-brother.
"Like what?", Skaar asked, seemingly indifferent to the whole situation.
"How about stopping them before they kill each other?", Lyra suggested, taking on an irritated tone.
"We could always let them fight it out.", Skaar remarked coldly.
"You're not serious, are you?", Lyra questioned, glaring at the teenage Oldstrong.
"No, but it's still a good idea.", Skaar answered with a wry smirk.
"I can't believe we're related.", Lyra groaned, reaching up to massage the bridge of her nose.
"The feeling is mutual.", Skaar said in his usual monotone voice.
"Just so you know, if either of them gets seriously hurt or killed, it's on your head.", Lyra stated quite bluntly.
"What do you mean?", Skaar inquires, glancing at his sibling from out of the corner of his left eye.
"God, you can be so freaking dense and oblivious at times. Laura thought you were in danger, so she attacked Korra in order to protect you. Korra is fighting Laura purely out of self-defense, and also to protect you. Is any of this making sense to you?", Lyra explained.
"Yeah, I know. I just wanted to choke you with your own chain.", Skaar chuckled in amusement, much to the chagrin of his sibling.
"Uh, the phrase is "pull your chain", Skaar.", Lyra pointed out.
"Whatever.", Skaar muttered, not caring in the very least.
"Are you gonna do something or not?!", Lyra exclaimed, her patience reaching its end.
Skaar did not reply, at least not with words. The transformation was immediate, instantly changing him from a teenage Human/Shadow hybrid into a massive, towering, green-skinned, Hulked-out titan. Marching towards Laura and Korra, who were seemingly unaware of his presence or were too intent on mauling each other to care, Skaar leans down and grabs both of them within the grasp of his gigantic hands. Literally pulling them apart, Skaar lifts them off the ground, separating them within arm's length while keeping Korra and Laura firmly within his grasp.
"This ends now!", Skaar growls between clenched teeth, glaring at Korra and then at Laura as he held them in the air.
"She started it!", Korra shouts, kicking her feet and swinging her fists in a futile attempt to strike her opponent.
"Don't care.", Skaar deadpanned.
"Let go of me, Skaar!", Laura hissed, trying her best to free herself from his vice-like grip.
"Not until you both calm down.", Skaar responds, keeping the two women separated.
For what seemed like hours, the two young women remained silent, neither seemingly willing to set aside their anger and dislike of one another. They were both so stubborn, yet so very similar in other ways. Releasing a heavy sigh, Korra was the first to speak, though it was quite apparent from her tone that she was very reluctant in the matter.
"Okay, I'm calm. I'm not gonna fight any more... even if I really, really want to. I promise.", Korra said, looking away as she kept her arms across her chest.
Korra was immediately set down on the ground, leaving Skaar still holding Laura suspended off the ground, her tank top t-shirt held within the grasp of his massive hand. She would be even more reluctant than Korra, that much Skaar was certain of. She wasn't one to stop fighting once she begun, let alone surrender. Still, he was going to give her a chance to settle this dispute peacefully.
"Laura?", Skaar utters, awaiting to hear confirmation from her, confirmation that she doesn't intend to kill Korra as soon as he releases her.
"Yes.", Laura finally responds with a slight nod, her voice barely louder than a whisper.
There would be no time for further discussion, for no sooner had Skaar released his grip on Laura did the cloud-filled sky above darken, the streaks of lightning and the sound of thunder soon following. Skaar, Korra, Laura and Lyra immediately became tense, each getting into a fighting stance. This was no sudden freak storm. No, this was a sign. A battle was about to be waged, a conflict with Earth's mightiest heroes.
The first of five heroic figures appear, one of them smashing down to the earth several hundred feet away. It was a gigantic black and gold hued robot, a Hulkbuster suit of armor loaded with powerful weapons and designed by none other than the man within its confines: Anthony "Tony" Stark. Genius, Playboy, Businessman, and a major Jerk.
Just as a bolt of lightning tore across the heavens, another being landed near the massive robot. It was a large man wielding what appeared to be a hammer, an enchanted weapon made from uru. His attire was composed of mostly chainmail armor and dark clothing with matching dark boots, a metal helmet resided atop his blond hair-covered head, and a long red cape draped his shoulders and passed down the length of his spine until it reached the lower calves of his legs. He is the son of Odin, the Prince of Asgard, the God of Thunder... The Mighty Thor!
Seconds later, another large man, equally as imposing as Thor, lands on the ground and stands by his fellow heroes. He wore a long golden cape, his attire a matching gold & charcoal gray. He supported what appeared to be a massive belt golden buckle around his mid-section with a black radioactive symbol adorning its center. His hair was a short reddish-brown in color, and his eyes glowed like the fires of the sun. He is the last living Eternal of a destroyed universe, a man who lost two worlds that he called home in his life. On the Earth that he once knew he was given the name Marcus, then he became the hero known as Hyperion.
Another individual lands beside the heroes, this was a female dressed in a black and white suit with a red, almost "Y"-like symbol adorning her chest/abdomen. Her face was covered by the suit's mask, her eyes hidden by a pair of red goggles. She was once just an ordinary human being until she found a piece of Shi'ar technology that changed her life forever. She became a member of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard and the Avengers, aiding them in dealing with the threats that threatened Earth and the galaxy. Her name is Isabel Dare, but to most of her comrades she is known simply as Smasher.
She was soon joined by another female heroine, one dressed in blue and red attire with a large golden star etched across the suit's chest. She was a very attractive woman, with lovely golden-blonde hair and dazzling cerulean-blue eyes. Despite this, she was an extremely formidable heroine who was more than capable with hanging with the strongest and toughest beings of Earth. Her name is Carol Danvers, but once she acquired her powers from a Kree warrior of the name Mar-vell, she had taken the name Captain Marvel to honor him.
Lastly, a flying machine appeared, hovering in the sky above. It was one of the Avengers' Quinjets, one that was currently occupied and piloted by the infamous spy/assassin known as Black Widow and notorious archer who went by the codename Hawkeye. From the speakers of the Quinjet, the voice of Tony Stark blasted forth with a message directed at Skaar, Laura, Korra and Lyra.
"ATTENTION! WE ARE THE AVENGERS! AND WE ORDER ALL OF YOU TO STAND DOWN! NOW!"
"Just for the record, she started this.", Korra remarked, gesturing towards and receiving a glare from Laura.
So much for keeping a low profile and not fighting against the Avengers. Then again, Skaar was more than ready for a fight. In fact, he was quite looking forward to busting some skulls, even if they were those of the Avengers. He was a barbarian warrior, born in fire and raised by monsters. He was the Killer of Killers, thus he lived for the thrill of battle and relished in the conflict. After all, he's a Hulk, and if there's one thing Hulks are good at... it's SMASHING!