The future smelled like burning metal. The air, which was a horrid, sick-looking off-yellow, was thick with smog, and my first few breaths were labored as I struggled to get used to the new environment.
Although the buildings were mostly who I remembered it, everything was considerably more…dismal. Maybe my outlook had just changed?
I looked at the sizable heap of scraps and shook my head. No, not even my pessimism could be responsible for this; the time man was right — times had changed. That, of course, made me all the more worried for my sister. Things had been bad enough even without the yellow sky.
“I’m worried about Nora,” I said to Raf. “This place is different; it’s gloomier, now. Plumbob, Kylo has had years to warp this world; it looks like he’s made his mark.”
Raf kicked a pipe, half-rotting with rust, out of the way and placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. “If she’s anything like you, she’s fine, Korra. Your whole family is strong.”
My family — that gave me an idea. I remembered running into my long-removed descendants the last time I’d been here; maybe they knew where Nora was or, at the very least, maybe they could tell us what had happened to change things here so drastically.
“Come on,” I said, pulling Raf close. “I have an idea.”
the (new) windsor residence
The girl who answered the door looked exactly how I remembered her; even though our coloring was different, she had my nose and Nora’s mouth. What was her name?
The girl eyed me warily, and I remembered — right, I’d verbally attacked her and yanked Nora away in a classic Korra maneuver.
“Um, hi again,” I tried, going for a friendly smile. The girl backed away, and I quickly scowled, which, infuriatingly enough, made my descendant appear a bit less wary. “Remember me? It’s Korra Wi-“
“I know who you are,” she hissed. She looked at Raf, saying, “Who’s he?”
“A friend. We’re looking for Nora. Have you seen her?”
She flinched and, looking up and down the deserted street, pulled me into the house.
“Where have you been?” she asked. Sweat dripped down her temples, and Raf and I exchanged looks. She was my descendant, yes, but I wasn’t sure if I trusted her; I didn’t even know her name, for Plumbob’s sake.
“In my own time,” I said impatiently. “What happened here? Why is the sky yellow? Where is my sister?”
“I can’t help you,” she said, her voice a bit too loud.
“Are you serious?” I couldn’t believe it — what a waste of time.
I turned to Raf, saying, “Let’s get out of here.”
Before I could leave, though, the girl pulled me into a sweaty, awkward hug. I stiffened, protesting the gesture, and froze when I felt her press a slip of paper into my palm. “Ridiculous,” I said aloud, meeting her eyes.
Her eyes were wide, but in them I saw a thread of determination. “Goodbye,” she said.
When the door closed and we’d gone a safe distance away, I looked at the slip of paper.
Go to Stella’s boutique for a change of clothes and to find N. Avoid all robots.
Plumbob, I hated robots. Every time I saw one, I flinched; I remembered my ordeal with robots all too well, and I had no desire to go anywhere near one. Raf and I found the boutique with minimal difficulty and began perusing its contents, careful to avoid eye contact.
We drew some stares with our clothes, which were decades out of fashion, and I hurriedly moved to one of the clothing displays.
As I pressed the buttons to complete my order, I had the oddest sense of deja vu. It felt like just yesterday that I was admonishing Nora for touching anything. She was close; I could feel it.
I billed the dress to my descendant’s address — I’d pay her back later — and went to help Raf with his change.
As I moved, however, I noticed more and more robots grouping in our section of the shop. Although they stopped a few feet away, their blank, unblinking stares unsettled me. We needed to leave this shop.
I had no desire to get into a fight; any conflict would surely draw Kylo’s attention.
“On it,” Raf said. He turned just in time to see a robot holding a camera to its face.
Uh oh — that wasn’t good. Any photo of us was sure to bring bad news.
“Raf, let’s just leave,” I urged, but Raf had already approached the robot. He hadn’t been here the last time and he didn’t know how strong they were.
I hurried towards them, but Raf had already
The robot’s arm glowed white as it transformed into an odd, drill-shaped object. Then, without waiting for Raf to react, it slammed its arm into his chest.
“Oh,” Raf said, and someone — me? — screamed —
— and then he was falling, his wand clattering to the ground and his eyes rolling back.
I roared with rage and, drawing my own wand, sent a paralyzing curse —
or, at least, tried to, for nothing happened.
Nothing. I had nothing. I stared at my wand, which was about as useful as a stick of wood, and resisted the urge to cry. What was wrong with me? I couldn’t feel it — the connection to my magic.
What was going on?
A week of your power, the ghost had said. Seven days — 168 hours –without my magic.
Plumbob, this really was the most inconvenient timing possible. I slumped over my friend’s fallen form, blinking back tears. I had no skill with fighting without magic, and I could hear the robots as they approached us rapidly. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. As I prepared to stand, however, I saw a flash of pink as two figures came bursting into the room.
One of the two — a tall, red-haired man who looked vaguely familiar — kicked down the robot that had hurt Raf. He dodged its counter blows and, to my surprise, focused his efforts not on the head but on a small, purple propeller on its back. He kicked at it, severing it from the main body, and the robot crumpled to the ground in a rapidly spreading puddle of oil.
But it wasn’t the man who captured my attention — it was the pink-haired girl – no, woman – who came flying after him.
I could barely believe my eyes as my baby sister, her pink hair tied back and her eyes fringed in a yellow war-paint, neatly took down the remaining two robots. She moved with deadly efficiency, and I couldn’t help but feel a thread of sadness that my happy-go-lucky sister had needed to become a soldier.
For that was what these two were — soldiers.
When they’d finished, they looked at me, faces still set in stone, and the man said, “I’ll carry your friend. More robots are coming — we need to go.”
When I looked only at my sister, my face streaming with tears, the man raised his voice, “Now.”
Right. This was not the time for a teary breakdown. I stood, still staring at my sister, and followed them numbly as they ran from the boutique.