A/N: OKAY! So I went a head and ran back through this story in an attempt to correct certain errors as well as splice chapters together so that it would read better; hopefully it worked.
Honestly there wasn't much I actually wanted to change as I went back through, because as I re-read my plan for the story came back to me and I found myself happy with the over all narrative.
I will say one thing though: I'm writing this story specifically because it's something that I want. Because while I LOVE the original Avatar, it bothered me that Katara was the love interest and that (yes I know it was a kid's show) it was a little TOO light-hearted for its own good when there were clear signs that it could have been SO MUCH MORE had it actually been an anime.
Anyway, I know the re-write was very minimal, but the Siege of the North Pole is now one whole chapter(like I promised lol) that also now has an ending!
Book 1 is officially finished! For those who've been with me from the beginning I apologize that it's taken so long but we've finally made it XD
For those new to Vengeance, I hope you all enjoy =)
Vengeance, thy name is Aang
Ch.1- The Last Airbender
"Bending; the ability to manipulate the forces of nature by synchronizing one's chi with a chosen element. However, an individual's chi may only harmonize with a single element. These elements are: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. The element a person can bend is dependent upon their ability to connect with that force; the element they understand.
A firebender connects with the raging heat of their element; the fury and power that fire represents. A waterbender, fire's natural opposite, connects with the calming steadiness of their element; the flexibility and grace water represents. An earthbender connects with the overbearing stubbornness of their element; the unflinching fortitude and strength of will that earth represents. And an airbender, earth's natural opposite, connects with the sensation of freedom that accompanies their element; the feeling of being unencumbered and without worry that air represents.
Each element is powerful in its own way, and have been used for centuries to aid mankind in building their world, but eventually there were some who forgot that it was the spirits and their chosen ones that gave the world bending. There were those who believed that they were the ultimate power, supreme over their own countrymen because of the element they wielded. It was because of this that the Four Great Nations were formed, and each bending element claimed a continent for their own.
But, with this division, came unity. The spirits of the world saw this gross miss-use of their gifts and made a move to correct the errors of mankind; they created the Avatar. A being who connected with not just one, but all of the elements and could bend them to their will. The Avatar was the beacon of hope that the world needed, the one who brought the world into a sense of peace through the knowledge given to them by the spirit world. The people of the world lived in a fragile harmony...and then the Avatar died.
News of their saviors death sent the people into a frenzy; each country blamed the other for the deed. None believed that a being so powerful could just die, so instead, whispers of assassination began to circulate. The spirits saw this and were ashamed; the people had not learned anything it seemed. And so they re-incarnated the Avatar, the super-powered being taking on a new form, but remaining the same. The people rejoiced, and the spirits knew that the Avatar would need to be recycled again once the current one died, each time as a member of one of the four continents; lest the world fall to chaos again.
And so it was for centuries; the Avatar was born, performed his duties around the world, and then when their time came they were re-incarnated. And the world went on in an calm state of peace...but then Fire Lord Sozin took the throne.
Sozin was a man that believed firebender's were the supreme race, and that all other forms of bending were second-rate. He believed that it was the Fire Nation's duty to unite the entire world under their banner and show the 'unrefined heathens' the light...by force if necessary. Unfortunately for Sozin, his friend Roku, who happened to be the current Avatar, did not agree with his ideals. This caused their friendship, which had stood for many years, to fall apart; Avatar Roku took it upon himself as the peace keeper of the world to stop Sozin.
But he failed.
In the end Roku was unable to strike down his oldest, and closest friend. Sozin did not share such compassion. The Fire Lord would later leave his former friend to die while his home was engulfed in a volcanic explosion. With Roku's death, Sozin knew that a new Avatar would be born and that the child would grow up and try to stop his plans. So, with the knowledge that the next Avatar would be an airbender, Sozin planned to invade the Air Temples with the help of a commit that would appear 12 years after the day Roku died.
With the aid of the commit, Sozin and his Fire Nation army laid siege to each of the air nomad's temples. The Fire Nation was ruthless in its assault, killing ever last airbender down to the women and children; not even baby's were safe from their wrath. Huge, black plumes of smoke lifted into the air as the temples were desecrated, the air filled with the stench of burning flesh and cries of the dying. Thousands of people died...but the Avatar was not among them.
Sozin had failed.
The Fire Lord spent the remainder of his life searching for the Avatar. An unshakable fear clung to the man during his final years, his fear that any day the Avatar could appear drove the aging man to push his plan forward at a drastic speed; he invaded the remaining continents. However, without the power of the commit, and the other kingdoms having knowledge of the attacks, Sozin's forces were held back. His dream of a world ruled by the Fire Nation would not come to pass during his life time, and he would fail in destroying the Avatar. And yet, even after Sozin's death, the Avatar never rose to defend the world from the Fire Nation.
For 100 years the Avatar vanished, and during that time the water tribes of the North and South poles were beaten back. The South Pole lost all of it's benders in a last ditch attempt to repel the Fire Nation, while the North Pole walled themselves in and have remained cut-off from much of the outside world. The Earth Kingdom has remained, just like its element, steadfast and strong; managing to stave off the invading Fire Nation and allow its citizens to live in relative peace. But all who lived through these times, and those that came after, began to lose hope.
Where was the Avatar...where was the last airbender?"
Torrents of rain hammered down on Aang as he and Appa flew through a violent storm. The dark clouds around them flashed with every strike of lighting that bolted from their insides. Thunder clapped loudly in Aang's ears, threatening to puncture his eardrums, as razor-sharp winds sliced through the air.
Aang's hands were fisted tightly around Appa's reigns, the only thing keeping the young Avatar from being sent flying.
Avatar; Aang never felt anger towards anything like he felt towards that title. His title. The reason the monks were separating him from his mentor...his friend. He was still just a kid, how could they do that to him!? What if he didn't want to be the Avatar!?
So, instead of letting them ship him off, Aang left. Not even bothering to leave a note behind, knowing that there was nothing to say. Aang decided he'd go stay with Bumi, his best friend from the Earth Kingdom, at least for a little while. The young monk knew he wouldn't be able to stay in one spot for too long, lest the elders find him and force him to the Eastern Air Temple. Force him away from Gyatso.
All other thoughts were put on hold when Aang heard his sky bison groan in pain. It seems, in his absent state of mind, the young Avatar had misguided the large mammal and flew too close to a lightning strike.
Before Aang could think of what to do he noticed that his furry friend was losing altitude; Appa was just in too much pain to keep himself airborne. Aang attempted to use his own airbending to keep them afloat, but the winds around him were too vicious, they would not heed his commands...they were going to crash.
Aang managed to squint and look down at where they were going to land, but his gray eyes could make out nothing, and the next thing the young boy knew was a shockingly cold sensation that ripped through his body. It seemed to phase though his skin, and reach his very bones, where it proceeded to freeze over them and then shatter; breaking apart his entire body.
The young boy screamed.
"Aaah!" Aang hollered as he jolted awake. Taking in heavy breaths, the young monk immediately noticed how cold he felt...that's when he realized he wasn't wearing his shirt. Scratching his bald head Aang tried to remember how he'd gotten to...wherever he was.
"Hey, you're awake, that's great." a soft voice flowed into the tent. Aang turned his head, and when he saw the dark-skinned girl peering through the flap at him, the previous day came rushing back to him. After meeting Katara and her brother Aang had given them a lift home on Appa, however the large bison was too tired to fly, and their journey took them well into the night. Apparently Aang had fallen asleep, and someone carried him to bed.
"Sokka said he heard you scream, so I figured I'd come in and see you. Ya know, in case you forgot about yesterday." Katara continued, seemingly reading his mind.
Aang's mouth formed into an 'o' as he nodded in understanding. Then, when the tent fell silent again, the young monk decided it would be a good idea to put the rest of his clothes back on; he blushed a little at the realization that an older girl was seeing him shirtless.
Katara seemed not to have noticed his rosy cheeks, because as soon as his top was on she grabbed his arm and began to lead him outside. "C'mon, I wanna introduce you to everyone," she said with excitement.
As they exited the tent Aang noticed Sokka sitting right outside, sharpening what looked to be a boomerang. Then, after taking only a few steps, Katara came to a halt. Aang stopped as well and took in the group before him.
Most of them were women, ranging from small girls to older women, some being elderly. Sokka appeared to be the only able-bodied male, because the handful of other boys could only be about six or seven at best. This confused the airbender; where were all the men?
Once again Katara's voice brought Aang out of his thoughts, "Aang, I'd like to introduce you to the entire village. Entire village, this is Aang, he's an airbender."
The first thing the bald kid noticed was that every person was staring at him in either curiosity or disbelief. This confused him, "Um...why is everyone staring at me?"
"It's probably because nobody has seen an airbender in a hundred years; we thought they were extinct." came a voice to the side. Aang turned his eyes, and was greeted with the sight of a very old woman standing away from the pack. Her eyes were trained intently on the young Avatar.
'Extinct?' Aang thought to himself. He knew what the word meant, his teachers having given him a very advanced lesson plan due to his status as the Avatar, but why would people think the airbenders were all gone?
However, before he could voice his befuddlement Sokka came up beside him and snatched his staff out of Aang's hand. Flipping the wooden stick on both ends he asked, "What kind of weapon is this, there's no sharp tips to stab with, how can you fight with it?"
Aang just chuckled lightly, nobody really understood how the monks lived and it amused him when he met outsiders. Using his airbending the young monk pulled the staff back into his possession and replied, "It's not for stabbing, it's for airbending. Using the currents around me I can use it to fly."
To help demonstrate Aang fully extended what was now revealed to be a glider.
"That's funny," Sokka mumbled, "because last time I checked...Humans. Can't. Fly!"
Aang just put on a cocky smirk and replied, "Oh yeah? Well watch this."
What followed was a clear demonstration of an airbender's ability to fly using their glider. Aang showed off for the crowd below, who were in awe of seeing something they believed was impossible. He maneuvered himself into aerial spins and twists, nose-diving only to pull up at the last second, and a few other tricks. The little monk smiled wide at hearing the adoring audience down below, but with his eyes closed he didn't notice the large fortress made of snow until it was too late.
The next thing he knew, Aang had a mouthful of snow.
After pulling himself from Sokka's "watchtower", Aang went off on his own while Katara was pulled away by the old woman, her grandmother, to finish her chores.
While he walked through the snow-covered village Aang thought about all the things he'd heard since waking in Katara's arms. While it was true the air nomads didn't venture far from their temples, everyone knew they existed...or at least, Aang thought everyone knew. Then again, no airbender had ever visited either of the poles before, so maybe that's why these people thought they were extinct?
Then there was the thing that Sokka had accused him of the day before, about signaling the Fire Navy. What would be wrong with that? The Fire Nation was a great place, and the people were all so nice, especially his friend Kuzon. So what was the problem?
Suddenly the area around Aang was covered in darkness. The bald kid jolted from his thoughts and swiveled his head around to find the reason. What he found was a giant naval ship, broken down about fifty yards from where he stood. But not just any naval ship, no, this one bore the flag of the Fire Nation.
The vessel was huge, and made of metal. Aang noticed that the side had been punctured by sharp spears of ice, leaving gaping holes along the otherwise perfect body and insuring that the mobile weapon would never set sail again.
"This ship has been here since I was a little girl; it was one of the first to arrive during the beginning of the war. I'll never forget that day, the smoke stacks blocked out the sun, but thankfully there weren't but a handful. And since they were prototypes they weren't very well equipped, forcing the soldiers to come on land; where our waterbender's easily defeated them. We sent them running, but the commander of this ship wouldn't turn away, so our warriors were forced into a fight to the death; it was the first time I'd ever seen blood."
Aang's head turned slowly, and his gray eyes met those of Katara's grandmother. The old woman stood there, looking so small in her large parka, and her face showed the turmoil she'd lived through. Seeing the immense pain in the elderly woman's eyes Aang asked, "I don't understand...what war? Sokka said something about me being a spy for the Fire Navy, but that doesn't make sense, I have friends in the Fire Nation. T-They wouldn't do this."
Gran-Gran turned her eyes towards the broken down ship, then back to Aang. She seemed to study him, her gaze traveling up and down his small frame, taking in every detail. Finally, after she seemed to find what she was looking for, Gran-Gran asked, "Aang...how long were you in that iceberg?"
The young boy's face scrunched in thought, one eyebrow lifting while the other drew inward, "Um, I dunno, a couple of days I guess; maybe a week."
His answer was received with a tired sigh. Gran-Gran's body sagged with an emotion Aang couldn't place, and her eyes were shadowed with sadness and...was that regret? What would she feel that for?
"I was afraid of this. Aang, the reason you don't know about the war, or that the other airbender's are all gone, is because you were locked away in that iceberg for a hundred years. That was how long the war has been going on, and it started with the extermination of the airbender's."
Aang felt as his eyes seemed to try and pop out of his skull, they widened to such a degree. While his mouth dropped open he seemed to lose control of his legs, and soon his knees were sinking into the snow. The young monk's gray eyes fell from staring at the old woman, and instead gazed into the slush on the ground.
'I-It can't be...a hundred years? How could that be possible, it only feels like I've been out for a few days! But...why would she lie to me, she wouldn't have anything to gain by it, so that only leaves one possibility. She's telling the truth.'
"But why did the Fire Nation wanna kill off all the airbender's?" Even to his own ears Aang's voice seemed unrecognizable. It was broken, like fragile glass, and it even hurt to speak past the lump in his throat.
"Because they were looking for the Avatar," was Gran-Gran's response.
While Aang received a horrifying history lesson, another Fire Nation ship was currently docking just outside the village. This one was newer, polished, and significantly smaller. And yet it was no less terrifying to the people of the Southern water tribe.
With a haunting groan, the hull of the ship opened up and a walkway was extended down to the snow-covered ground. Then, the women and children watched with fear in their eyes as Fire Nation soldiers marched out and down the ramp two at a time. Only ten men came down, but in a group of civilians, ten might as well be an army of thousands.
However, it was the young man that followed alone that caused many of the women's hearts to skip a beat. They had all heard of Prince Zuko, son of Ozai, but none had ever laid eyes on the young warrior...and now they wished it had stayed that way.
Prince Zuko was every bit the part of the Fire Nation warrior. He was garbed in the standard military outfit; gray, hefty material that made up a long-sleeved shirt and baggy pants. And over-top of this was plates of black and red armor that covered the upper part of his chest and shoulders, and gauntlets for his forearms. On his feet he wore the soldier's boots. His head was covered by a helmet that had what resembled the spearhead of a trident; different from the helmets of the other men, distinguishing his rank.
However, this helmet did nothing to hide the ugly scar that marred his otherwise handsome face...or at least it would be, if it wasn't set in a terrifying scowl.
The ten men formed up into two lines of five; creating an impromptu procession for their prince. Zuko stalked forward, his chest out and head high. His blazing, amber eyes peered down at the frightened water tribe members with a look of contempt and anger.
Among the older, more knowledgeable, members of the tribe a singular thought raced through their minds. What had they done to draw the wrath of the Fire Nation? They made sure to hand in their weekly tax in the form of barrels of clean water and packed fish on time, every time, so what could be the problem?
Zuko walked down the line of women and children, his eyes narrowing in suspicion, until finally he stopped. When he went to speak, the tribe members were greeted by a deep, strong voice. "Where are you hiding him?"
All eyes looked around in confusion. Hiding who? The only male left in the tribe was Sokka...but surely the prince couldn't mean him. But this made them all realize something; Sokka was missing!
A mound of snow by Zuko's feet erupted as Sokka jumped out; he was dressed in traditional tribal armor and his face was painted as if for war. In his hand was the boomerang he'd been sharpening earlier that morning. Sokka went to slash the prince, but the armored warrior had quick reflexes and managed to avoid the attack.
With the element of surprise gone Sokka attempted to use the fact that his opponent was off balance to his advantage, he went for a blunt-force attack to the stomach, but Zuko nimbly turned on his heel and twisted out of the way. Once he was facing Sokka's back, Zuko spartan-kicked the painted warrior and sent him sprawling into the snow.
Seeing that the other teen was down Zuko turned his attention back to the other villagers; only this time the anger in his eyes was like a raging inferno. Seeing one of the more elderly women, he reached out ad grabbed her, then he yelled, "I know you're hiding him, he'd be about this old and would have mastery over all four elements!"
With that said Zuko tossed the elderly woman to the ground in front of him, he watched as Katara stepped forward to help her to her feet. She looked up at him and asked, "What's the matter with you; she's an elder, have some respect. Besides, the only person who can even use all four elements is the Avatar, and he disappeared over a hundred years ago, what makes you think he'd be here?"
"I saw the beam of light from my ship, I know the Avatar has returned, and with the only place within a thousand miles being your village there's nowhere else he would be." Zuko snarled.
Katara stared into the eyes of the Fire Nation Prince, her own hardened in anger at the teenage royals mistreatment of an elder...until they widened a fraction in remembrance. Sokka said that there was a huge beam of light that preceded Aang's appearance, the kid was also the last airbender, and the only way to have been encased in the iceberg was through powerful water bending. Aang was the Avatar!
Unfortunately, Zuko noticed the realization flash across her face and knew that the girl had the answers he sought. However before he could make a move to grab her, he was forced to duck under a boomerang that he saw out of the corner of his eye. Looking over to where it came from, the young prince sneered at seeing Sokka back on his feet; this time with a spear in his other hand.
Sokka pointed the spear at his enemy and growled, "Stay away from my sister."
Zuko was about to reply, but then the boomerang came back around and struck him in the back of his head. The young warrior stumbled forward, dazed but otherwise unharmed, his helmet taking the blow. However, this gave his opponent an opening, and Sokka was more than happy to take it.
Sokka gave a loud war cry as he rushed forward with his spear, but he was forced to stop and jump back, because one of the soldiers from Zuko's procession had broke formation to defend his prince...Sokka watched as he was rewarded with a fire blast to the chest, effectively knocking him off his feet.
"Stay out of this, I don't need any help to defeat this backwater idiot!" Zuko raged before turning his attention back to Sokka, but now his scowl was replaced by a malicious smirk. "Now, where were we?"
As Sokka prepared to face off against the Prince of the Fire Nation, Aang was avoiding Gran-Gran's stare. He'd just learned that all of his people were, according to her, extinct; and all because the Fire Nation was looking for him.
"Do you know what happened to the Avatar Aang? It's said that he was an airbender at the time; perhaps you and he lived in the same temple?" Aang could tell from the tone of her voice that it wasn't really a question. Gran-Gran knew he was the Avatar, she just wanted him to admit it.
The young boy simply let his head drop, so that the elderly woman couldn't see the pain in his eyes as he mumbled, "I'm the Avatar; they were looking for me. They didn't find me because..."
"Because you got scared, and you ran away."
Aang's head snapped up, and his eyes were alight with alarm, but he never got to speak because Gran-Gran cut him off, "It's common knowledge that the Avatar isn't informed of their duties until their sixteenth year, and with you looking to be even younger than my grand-daughter, it's no surprise that you felt frightened. There's no shame in what you did Aang, you're only a kid."
While this partially made the young monk feel better, those feelings of relief were quickly squashed when he recalled the real reason he'd run away. Now he felt a lump in his throat, and a heavy presence in his chest. However, their discussion was cut short when a young girl came running towards them in a hurry.
"Gran-Gran...Aang...there's danger at the village!" she bellowed between deep breaths.
"What kind of danger Kimori?" Gran-Gran asked, her voice tinged with worry.
Kimori's reply was only two words, but they were words that shook all three to their core, "Fire Nation."
Sokka took in a deep breath, but quickly regretted it when the icy air stung his windpipe and a sharp pain made itself known along the right side of his torso. It was more than likely he had some bruised ribs. Along with that, there was a bruise forming on the side of his face, and blood dripped from his nose. His muscles ached, not used to be used in an actual fight, and he could feel his legs shaking with exhaustion.
Looking across at his opponent, Sokka mentally cursed.
Where as Sokka was beaten and bruised, Zuko looked as if he hadn't even been in a fight. His armor was still clean, his helmet perfectly in place, and the teenage prince hadn't even broken a sweat. Instead, he wore a smug look and had his arms folded across his plated chest. His eyes danced with amusement. He hadn't even had to use his firebending.
'He's just toying with me.' Sokka thought to himself. 'Each of his moves has been precise and timed, flowing together perfectly, not a move out of place. I hadn't expected this; I thought they just used their bending to fight, I never imagined the Fire Nation would train in actual combat. If I don't find a way past his guard soon I'm not gonna last much longer.'
Knowing that this was his last chance, Sokka summoned the remainder of his energy, and set out to try and pull out a victory. Rushing forward with his spear and his boomerang the painted warrior held back his usual war cry; careful to conserve what little oxygen he had left. When he got within range, Sokka raised his spear as if to thrust it forward, but at the last second he drove it into the ground and used it to lift himself into the air. From there, he went in with a double-kick that hit home against Zuko's chest.
However, the chest-plate absorbed more of the blow than Sokka anticipated, and this allowed Zuko to be ready when the water tribe boy attempted to slice him up the middle with his boomerang. The scarred teen used one hand to take hold of the wrist that held the weapon, and used the second one to catch the left-hook that was thrown wildly at his face.
The smirk that had been on Zuko's face vanished, and was replaced by an annoyed scowl. "I'm done playing games." He seethed, before headbutting Sokka, and then kneeing him in the stomach.
Sokka fell to his knees at Zuko's feet, his hands moving towards his bloody face and aching stomach. The teen dry heaved a few times, and Zuko stepped back, which turned out to be a good idea when almost immediately after Sokka threw up.
"Sokka!" Katara could no longer stand by and watch, she rushed over, and attempted to aid her older brother in any way she could. Unfortunately she never made it, because Zuko stepped around the heaving water tribe youth and intercepted her.
Katara now knew just how much hotter a firebender's body was than hers, as the prince roughly took hold of her wrists with his hands. Her anger masking her fear, Katara looked up at her captor and yelled, "Let go of me, I have to help him! Who knows what kind of damage you did, you...you monster!"
"Had you just told me what I wanted to know then the fool wouldn't have gotten hurt, so if anyone is to blame, it's you. Now tell me where the Avatar is!" Zuko replied.
"I'm right here!" A boyish voice rang out.
Katara looked behind Zuko, and the young prince followed her lead, his amber eyes landing on...a child?
"Aang." Katara whispered. Zuko's memory burned the name, as well as the image, into place along side the title of 'Avatar'. He immediately let go of the female waterbender and turned to face the boy.
Aang pushed off the ground and leaped over so that he was standing about ten feet from the older male. The bald kid looked around, and took in the sights before him. Sokka had finished heaving, but he still knelt in the snow, a pool of vomit inches in front of him. Katara was fine, as she quickly made her way over to check on her brother now that she'd been released. But the villagers were what hit Aang the most.
The women and children were huddled together, some of the kids were even crying, and those that weren't looked to be on the verge of joining those that were. All of the women had fear in their eyes, each afraid of what the Fire Nation would do to them...all because Aang had been staying there.
With a determined look in his eye Aang turned from the villagers to his opponent and said, "If I go with you, will you leave this village in peace?"
Zuko had to suppress a look of shock. Did the Avatar really just offer to surrender himself? To save a bunch of women and children!?
'Although, he's just a kid, so he probably doesn't understand the gravity of his situation. Good, then I can use that to my advantage.' the scarred teen thought to himself. So, with his plan set, Zuko nodded in agreement to the monk's terms and motioned for his men to grab to Avatar.
As they made their way towards his ship Zuko heard the girl yell out to Aang. She begged the young boy not to hand himself over, but the Avatar just replied that 'it would be okay'. Right before the ramp closed and their eye contact cut off.
But Zuko didn't care, he was finally going home.
Katara watched as the ship that carried Aang, the Avatar, sailed further and further away. Until finally, it vanished beyond the horizon.
Once it was out of sight, the female waterbender turned on her heels and began rushing towards her family's tent. After pushing the flaps aside Katara dropped to the ground and began gathering up her water skins; while she'd be surrounded by water, Katara had no misguided beliefs that she could use her bending so effectively yet. However, she hoped that the little bit she did know would be enough.
She needed to save Aang if there was going to be any hope in defeating the Fire Nation.
The frantic girl got up, and as she exited the tent Katara bumped into someone; Sokka. Her older brother was using his spear as a crutch, and his free hand was holding his side, but his eyes were fierce.
"You're going after Aang right?"
Katara's eyes narrowed, "Of course I am, he's the Avatar, we need him. I know you don't believe in a lot of the 'magic mumbo jumbo' but you do understand war Sokka; and at this stage in the game, Aang's the only weapon the world's got left. So either get on board, or get out of my way."
Then Sokka did something Katara hadn't expected. He smiled. It was small because he was still in pain, but it was full of pride. The wounded warrior then replied, "That's good, because I don't think I could take them all in my condition."
"Take on all of who in your condition Sokka?"
Brother and sister turned their heads and were greeted with the sight of their grandmother walking up to them, Kimori by her side.
Katara was quick to speak up, "Gran-Gran I'm sorry but I can't just sit here while the Fire Nation makes of with Aang; he's-"
"He's the Avatar, yes I know. And I also know that you two found him for a reason. That boy is the world's best hope for defeating the Fire Lord, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I made you both stay." Gran-Gran replied.
Katara and Sokka each gave their grandmother grateful looks before they both gave her a hug. The elderly woman then sent Kimori inside the tent and fetch a large traveling pack that she'd made after meeting Aang, and bring it outside.
Gran-Gran laughed a little at her grand-children's confused faces, "I had Kimori help me pack this after you introduced me to Aang. After learning he was an airbender I knew right away that he was the Avatar, and I also knew that you two would be going with him on his journey; Katara to learn waterbending, and Sokka to protect your little sister."
After another round of hugs and goodbye's the two young water tribe siblings began their trek towards the docks, where the canoes sat waiting. However, as they reached them, a loud groan echoed to the right of them. It was Appa.
Brother and Sister looked at each other. While Katara broke out into an excited grin, Sokka groaned in discomfort.
While Katara and Sokka were gearing up for a rescue mission, their target was hold up in a small room alone, with only his thoughts to keep him company.
Zuko had taken his staff from him, saying something about how it would make a 'nice gift for his father'. But at the moment Aang wasn't worried about that. No, the young airbender's thoughts were focused on a different matter entirely; the possibility that he was the last of his kind.
If that were true then what happened to the Air Temples? Did they all get destroyed, or had they withstood the Fire Nation's supposed assault and been eroded by time? And what of the monks; had they truly let themselves be defeated, had Gyatso really fallen? So many questions that Aang had no answers to.
It gnawed away at him, like the ropes binding his wrists. Aang began to fidget, thumping his foot against the cold, metal floor in unrest. He needed to know. And he wasn't going to find out just sitting around here.
With his mind made up Aang stood up from his spot on the bed and took a deep breath. Then, once he'd focused his mind on the task-at-hand, the young monk hopped into the air and kicked towards the door with both feet. A pressurized blast of air shot forth and collided with his cell door; taring it off the hinges like paper from a notebook.
Aang was on the ground for less than a second before his guards realized what had happened. Both men peered inside, ready to subdue their prisoner, but were quickly taken down by another bast of air. This one coming from the airbender's mouth. Once the two Fire Nation soldier's had been dealt with Aang stepped out of his cell, cut his ropes using the sharp edges on a guards helmet, and began to traverse the large naval ship for his staff.
He checked numerous rooms, at one point coming upon the elderly man that had greeted Zuko aboard the ship, but he was sleeping so Aang left him alone. Finally, the bald youth happened upon an open door, and out of the corner of his eye he saw his staff.
'The door's open, which means Zuko must have just left and could be back any minute, I better hurry.' the boy thought as he rushed in to grab his glider. However, the minute he had it in his hands, the door slammed shut behind him. Aang swiftly turned around, staff in a defensive position, and locked eyes with Zuko.
"It seems I underestimated you; you're clearly more skilled than I gave you credit for." Zuko proclaimed. "However, don't think that means I'll let you get away." With that the young prince thrust his fist forward, a small blast of fire shot from his extended limb and hurtled towards Aang.
The young Avatar nimbly dodged the heated attack, and then leaped over the second one that followed. Then, while still in the air, Aang demonstrated his mastery over his element by twisting his hands to create a ball...which he then threw at Zuko. Although the prince managed to avoid it, he realized too late that that had been the younger boy's plan; once he'd dodged it, the attack torn down the door, leaving Aang an escape route.
Aang created another ball of air, only this time, he jumped on top of it and used the sphere as a mode of transportation. The bald monk made a speedy exit from Zuko's chambers and was soon making his way through the halls, his mind set on escaping. After a few moments the air scooter dissipated and Aang was left running along the ground, however this didn't slow him down, instead he again used his airbending; this time to increase his speed.
He sped through the many corridors of Zuko's ship until he finally came to the helm. There he noticed a window, and seeing that it was open, Aang made a b-line towards freedom.
Soldiers made an attempt to stop him, but Aang was far to quick for them, and in no time at all he managed to make it to the window that overlooked the deck. He threw his glider out before following it, but as Aang gripped the handles for his staff he heard a yell from behind him. Zuko had caught up.
The Fire Nation Prince had leaped from the helm and was making a desperate attempt to tackle his young adversary. Fortunately, he managed to jump just in time, because while not being able to tackle, Zuko did manage to get a hold of Aang's foot. This caused the glider to become unbalanced and the two benders went tumbling to the ground.
Thankfully, Aang cushioned the blow with his airbending.
Aang managed to stumble onto his feet, grabbing his staff as he rose, but was forced to dodge an arc of fire that came at him from a recovered Zuko. Rolling to a stop Aang whipped his staff around and sent his own elemental blast forth, his was also avoided, but it gave the young monk more than enough time to reaffirm his footing.
Good thing too, because while in the air Zuko performed a spin-kick that shot another wave of fire towards the young Avatar. Aang ducked this one, the heat trailing over his bald head, and thrust his empty hand forward. A blast of air raced forward and this time struck home; the attack being too fast to dodge. Zuko was knocked off his feet.
By this time many of the soldiers on board were making their way onto the deck of the ship, the sheer number quickly surrounding the young airbender. Aang's gray eyes swiveled left and right, taking stock of his predicament...until he heard a voice shout from the sky.
The Avatar's head jerked up and around, trying to find the source, and quickly noticed his flying bison soaring through the air carrying Katara and her brother. They'd managed to find him!
Appa landed along the deck of the ship with a 'thud'; the metal frame not used to such weight. Katara and Sokka quickly dismounted the furry airbender and came to Aang's side. The female waterbender uncorked the skins at her sides while Sokka brandished his boomerang, the war paint cleaned from his face.
"So, I grant you mercy and this is how you repay me?" Zuko asked as he got to his feet, his amber eyes trained on the two water tribe members.
"We won't let you hurt Aang!" Katara replied in anger.
Zuko simply smirked and said, "Very well then...die!" With that he ordered his men to attack, while he himself waited for an opening.
Sokka, instead of waiting for the enemy to reach him, pushed forward to intercept them half-way. Even with his wounded side, the water tribe warrior was still capable of handling the non-benders in Zuko's army. Their training was nothing compared to that of their prince's.
As one soldier made an attempt to decapitate him Sokka threw up his boomerang to block it, he followed this up by burying his fist into the soldier's unarmored stomach, and then pushing him aside so as to be ready for the next attack.
It came in the form of another Fire Nation auxiliary unit making a mad slash for his stomach. Sokka hopped back, careful not to put too much pressure on his injured side, and then twisted to avoid being run through by the same man's second strike. From here the dark-skinned teen rammed his elbow into his enemy's face. This caused the guy to drop his sword in pain and drop to his knees.
Sokka next opponent came at him, sword raised and battle cry on his lips, but the younger warrior just narrowed his eyes and readied himself...and then he heard his sister yell.
Katara, not being a traditional warrior and having little skill with waterbending, fared significantly less well against the soldiers that came at her. Her dodges were jerky and done more out of reflex than practiced muscle memory, and she only threw punches when she was sure they had a chance of hitting; unfortunately she usually took damage herself getting so close.
Her parka had rips and tears in it from the slashes she'd barely avoided, and she now sported her own bruise across her right cheek from one of her close encounters with a soldier. However this didn't mean she hadn't managed to fell some opponents of her own.
Two men had their hands frozen together in a block of ice, taking them out of the fight, while another soldier nursed a concussion. She'd managed to snare his ankle with her water and bring him down hard on the cold, metal deck of the ship. All together Katara considered herself in good shape, but she wasn't too eager to try and keep it up. She chanced a look over towards Aang to see how he was faring...and when she saw him tumble off the boat she screamed.
Out of the three of them Aang was faring the best, even though all of his opponents were firebender's. The young monk ducked and weaved around each arc and blast that was sent his way.
Two benders in particular tried a combo attack; one aimed high, the other low. Aang saw it coming and jumped into the air. He threw his legs out in a mid-air split while folding his upper-body inwards to avoid the higher attack. Once he landed, the master airbender pulled his hands back, and then slammed them together in a thundering clap that sent a shock-wave forth to bulldoze over the firebender's in front of him.
With a large number of the main unit taken out the remainder chose to proceed with caution; this boy was far more dangerous than they anticipated.
Aang eyed the group of firebender's warily, making sure he was ready for any sudden movements so that he had time to react. He saw one soldier come forward and send a barrage of fire punches his way. The bald monk spun his staff, creating a shield of air in front of him, when the heated blasts made contact they were dispersed by the rapid movement of the wind.
However, Aang was so focused on defending against the soldier's attacks that he didn't notice Zuko out of the corner of his eye until it was too late. The prince swiped his arms through the air and two arcs of fire rushed forward. Aang barely managed to leap into the air in time, the soldier having stopped so his superior could claim victory, but the young boy felt the back of his shirt catch fire.
As he landed on the ground Aang was given no sense of reprieve, Zuko's attacks just kept coming. During one of his evasions Aang finally managed to remove his top; though he felt minor burns along his hands from making contact with the flames.
"Give it up Avatar!" Zuko mocked as he sent out a fire kick, "I can tell you haven't mastered the elements yet, or else you would have used them by now, you can't hope to beat me with just airbending."
But Aang just ignored him, knowing that losing focus while he was off-balance was a bad idea. Unfortunately, the Avatar noticed that he'd made it to the edge of the ship, and this did distract him for a moment.
Zuko noticed, and was quick to take advantage.
The next thing Aang knew was searing pain, followed by somebody shouting his name..and then darkness.
Aang found himself floating in a void of darkness. Everywhere he looked all he saw was an endless sea of black, there seemed to be no life anywhere except for him.
The young boy couldn't quiet remember how he'd gotten here. The last thing he remembered was a severe burning sensation, followed by a frigid coldness then nothing; he just woke up here.
'But where is here?' the arrow-headed Avatar wondered. And then he felt a warmth at his back.
Aang turned his body around...and came face to face with a giant version of himself. The 'other' Aang was seated in the lotus position, his fists together, and his eyes looked to be closed. There seemed to be some sort of glow radiating from the large body; an almost other-worldly purple.
The light was warm, and it made Aang feel at peace. So much so that the smaller Avatar felt himself being drawn towards the larger version of himself. Then, when he was within touching distance, the beings eyes snapped open.
With the opening of his eyes, the 'other' Aang's tattoos began to glow, and new ones seemed to form over different parts of his body; both his hands, the spot over his heart, and finally his head. But they all were dark. Except one. The smaller Aang noticed that one of the tattoos on the hands was glowing a bright blue.
Then, in a brilliant display, Aang's vision was filled with nothing but white light.
What seemed like forever to Aang was really only seconds in the real world. One minute he was plummeting towards the water, the next he was rising up in a raging spout of the life-giving fluid.
All on board the Fire Navy ship looked on in either fear, awe, or a combination of the two as the Avatar rose up and towered over them. Each person took notice of how the boy's eyes and arrows glowed brightly with a white light.
Zuko came to his senses first, and turning to his men shouted, "Don't just stand there, shoot him down!"
This seemed to knock them from their stupor, as they all gave salutes, and then sent forth a barrage of firebending. Orange flames sailed through the air like comets; their target being the young tattooed boy.
However, the bald kid seemed to know he was in danger, because the offending attacks didn't even make it half-way before they were washed out by a rising wall of water. But that wasn't the end of it. Avatar Aang then proceeded to take control of the wave, split it in half into the shape of two dragons, and then snake them across the deck of the ship.
Soldiers screamed as they were forced off the metal transport and into the ocean, Zuko himself tried to fight the raging water serpent, but failed miserably and joined his men in the icy sea below. Once the ship seemed to be cleared of danger, the spout that carried Aang brought him down and released him.
As his feet touched the ground the glow that was emitting from the young airbender faded, and Aang dropped down unconscious.
"Aang, are you alright?" Katara voiced as she ran to him. But the boy couldn't hear her, he was out cold.
"Katara c'mon, grab him and let's go, we can't afford to wait for him to wake up." Sokka advised from his place beside Appa. Katara looked over at her brother, and then heard footsteps coming from the stairwell to her right. Knowing her brother was right, the female waterbender hoisted her bald friend into her arms and ran over towards the flying bison.
Once they were situated Sokka gave the command, and with a 'yip-yip' the trio was soon ascending into the air, leaving the Fire Nation behind for now.
Zuko pulled himself back onto the deck of his ship. He was soaking wet, he was cold, and he was angry. How could he let the Avatar escape!?
The prince's amber eyes stared after the fading mass in the sky that was the airbender's bison. Nostrils flaring, Zuko turned to the men that had also made it back on board and yelled, "Hurry up and get the ship in gear; we can't let them escape again!"
"Prince Zuko I don't think that is such a good idea." a voice called to Zuko's right.
The scarred teen looked over and was greeted with the sight of his uncle, Iroh, coming out of the main area of the ship. The old man was short, with a deceptively stout appearance. His aged, gray hair mostly held up by a top-knot while some still fanned out at the base of the neck. Iroh's face was framed by thick sideburns, and his chin sported a small, pointed beard.
"And why not?" Zuko seethed. He cared for his uncle, but more often than not the old man was never on the same page as the prince.
Iroh stepped closer and replied, "We do not have the previsions for an extended chase, if we attempt to follow them now our food and water will run out by the end of the week, and then we will be in serious trouble."
He hated to admit it, but Zuko knew that his uncle had a point. They'd dropped below the safety level for their previsions a few days ago, and had been about to head for the port when the Avatar re-awakened. If he made an attempt to follow him now, and they sailed too far out, some of the men may starve.
So, heading the words of his elder, Zuko turned to his helmsman and ordered, "Change of plans; we're heading into port. Get the ship moving as soon as all the men are back on board." With his command given, Zuko made for his quarters, having no intention of being bothered until absolutely necessary.
'I will capture the Avatar, and nothing's going to stand in my way.'