AN: Here we go again! For those who read my other stuff, don't worry I don't plan on making this a full series any time soon. Game and Bleach and Might and Magic are still the two stories that I'm concentrating on. I just had a conversation with a fan about this idea and it really got me going. What can I say? I'm a slave to my muse.
If you've looked at the Avatar the Last Airbender section of you have probably seen Gladiator. It is a god-tier fanfic. The writing is phenomenal on pretty much every level to the point that I dare say that it's professional. At the very minimum it's better than 99% of what's on this site and I love it to death. The length is understandably daunting and the author updates regularly which is insane, but that only makes it better for me.
I say all that because the setting of this story will be very similar to Gladiator's. I most likely won't have Sokka be a gladiator because then I would just be ripping off Gladiator and slapping a Gamer system on it and that's just lazy. It's going to be a post Fire Nation victory world where the main characters we know and love are adults. It's essentially dystopian, but not apocalyptic. Though I'm toying with the idea that… you know what I'll go for it and you guys can (hopefully) be surprised by it.
My biggest struggle, and I would love YOUR OPINIONS on this, is what Sokka will be getting as a Gamer. For any bender it's extremely obvious, moreso for Aang as the Avatar: Bending is an overarching tree, possibly with a proficiency level, that has a deep tree of bending related skills. Aang has multiple trees. Twist the skills a bit like allowing bloodbending to be something you can do all the time and so on and so forth. EASY.
A nonbender feels a bit harder. I might go a very traditional route: Sokka gets martial arts skills that are realistic and eventually intrude on the unrealistic until a special event opens a bending tree up to him. Maybe make it fire for the angst. Eww, hate that word. Let's go with tragic irony. I'm not 13, but I've also never used a "troubled hero" trope and wanna try. We'll see that's in the far off future of this fic that most likely won't be achieved for many years.
As far as date and time goes, I'm going to use the wiki logic of Before Air Nomad Genocide (BG) and After Air Nomad Genocide (AG). I like it a lot.
As such the current year is 105 AG. Sokka is 21.
Also, I never saw all of Korra. I saw the first season and that was it. I had stopped watching TV by then. Since I'm using the wiki to find out information there might be random stuff that was revealed in Korra that I never saw, or read since I only got my hands on one of the comics. For example, I just learned that the first Avatar was named Wan.
Anyway, this was way too long, on with the show!
Chapter 1: Endings and Beginnings
Sokka's bad day started with a party.
But what did a bad day mean in the face of a bad year? In the face of a life that would be horrible until the day he died? Nothing really, but this bad day was particularly bad.
Sokka woke up from his spot on the dirt floor in the slave hut as he had done every day for the last ten months. He then donned his sackcloth rags, the only stitch of clothing he had been given besides his loincloth, and proceeded to wake up the nine other slaves that he shared the hut with. This was a duty he held very near and dear to his heart because despite the fact that he had been the most recent… acquisition of the Earth Noble whose estate they now worked he was the second oldest one there. The oldest being an elderly man who could barely take care of himself, much less a group of young teens. The punishment for reporting to their taskmaster late was a severe whipping that left the punished unable to work for several days.
Once everyone was awake Sokka led the group out of the hut and through the woods toward their master's estate. There was a small gate in the rear wall of the estate that the slaves used to enter and where they faced their first trial of the day: Taskmaster De. De Huang used to be the Head Gardener of the Kong estate until the Fire Nation successfully subjugated the town five years ago. Feng Kong was noble smart enough, and greedy enough, to quickly bow his head and swear loyalty to the Fire Nation and Emperor Ozai. His loyalty and trading acumen allowed him to continue living as a comfortable noble despite the change in regime.
When Feng started buying slaves De had been worried that he was about to lose his job, instead he got a promotion. All he had to do was teach the male slaves how to properly garden, supervise them, and beat the shit out of them if they ever fucked up. De Huang had never considered himself a violent man, especially at the age of sixty, but the first time he punished a slave changed something in him. He felt such a primal rush that quickly became addicting. Now he would often nitpick on the tiniest things just to get a single lash with his whip onto a slave.
Hence why Taskmaster De was a trial unto himself. Sokka found himself working the most out of any of the slaves in order to ensure that no one got whipped. Unfortunately perfection did not please Taskmaster De. Instead, without a legitimate reason to beat the slaves, a resentment would grow within De. He lusted for the opportunities to beat the slaves and, much like an addict, would become frustrated when he was unable to. One week De had gone three days without whipping anyone, such was the desperate work ethic of Sokka and the other slaves. On the fourth day, an exhausted slave cut too much off a tree branch and De fell upon him like a mad dog. The slave died from his injuries later that day. De was admonished, but only with a slap on the wrist, it was after all the weakest slave Feng had owned, and the slaves learned a valuable lesson. Thus, Sokka made sure that he was hit once a day in order to spare his fellow slaves.
De set Sokka and the other slaves to difficult manual labor that morning. Feng had recently gotten permission to to expand the grounds of his estate and the slaves were going to do the job of clearing out the land before the construction workers came. Two hours of backbreaking work later Sokka and the slaves were allowed to eat their morning gruel.
"Gather 'round pigs. Time to enjoy your slop." De simultaneously yelled and sneered.
It truly was slop. The meal was made from the leftovers from the main house as well as any rotten food from the pantry smashed into an unrecognizable mush and served in a bowl with a bit of rice. One look at the slaves told everyone that it was not healthy in the slightest. Sokka weighed the most at 100 pounds which was at odds with his six foot frame. This was a completely uncalculated risk on Feng's part.
Slaves are cheap, especially Earth Nation non-benders, so it was fine to starve them to ensure they never got the idea to revolt. All ten of them together would probably have trouble fighting De Huang who was both elderly and a weak earthbender.
Even after a year of experiencing it Sokka lamented this reality as he choked down his gruel. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed one of the female slaves sweeping a walkway. The female slaves had it comparatively worse and better than their male counterparts. They were fed a healthy amount of food and worked primarily as maids attending to the Kong family. The work was not physically laborious and they were rarely if ever beaten. The trade-off was that they were also live-in whores. Feng, two of his sons, and one of his daughters would regularly take the maids to bed to relieve stress. Sokka had no idea how they were treated, but sometimes he could hear screams all the way from the hut in the forest, so he assumed it was rarely a pleasant experience.
"Alright, you've had enough time. Turn in your bowls and get back to work!"
Lunch came with more gruel, but while they were eating everyone saw a giant plume of fire erupt in the distance.
De's lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "Hmm. Important news eh?"
More plumes of fire erupted in an odd pattern that Sokka could not identify.
"Oh! Alright pigs, there's a town meeting and everyone's going. Including you lot. Follow me."
Sokka almost said something out loud in surprise at the announcement. He had not been outside the estate since he had first been brought there! But no amount of excitement could ever make Sokka speak out of turn. He enjoyed living even if one could hardly call his current state of being "life."
Half an hour later Sokka and the rest of the male slaves trailed the Kong procession into the town square. Or rather, they filled up a street leading into the town square. The Beifong family and the Laoshu family had similar situations and the rest of the town's citizens and slaves filled the square itself or the final street that led into the square.
A few minutes later a man dressed up in ceremonial Fire Nation soldier's garb and the Fire Nation governor of Gaoling stepped onto a wooden stage. The soldier then opened an ornate golden scroll, opened it, and began reading.
"Hail Fire Nation citizens of Gaoling. Today is a glorious day of triumph. This morning, our great emperor received word that the Avatar had been slain. The Southern Raiders encountered an odd mass in the seas near what used to be the Southern Water Tribe. Upon raising the mass it was discovered to be an odd glacier and within it was a small boy and a sky bison."
A wave of gasps rolled through the crowd.
"Yes fair citizens! The glacier melted and the boy was confirmed to be the Avatar! Furthermore the boy attempted to defend himself and entered the Avatar State. Fortunately he was surrounded by some of our elites and slain moments into achieving that state. Rejoice citizens! The Avatar Cycle… HAS BEEN BROKEN! ALL HAIL EMPEROR OZAI! ALL HAIL EMPEROR OZAI!"
The speaker then gave the crowd a moment to settle. Many of the citizens, particularly the Fire Nation colonists, were rejoicing; others, particularly the slaves, were weeping. Once the crowd had calmed the speaker resumed.
"From now on and for all of eternity today shall be known as Breaking Day. A National holiday to be celebrated to honor the end of the Avatar Cycle. Thank you and eternal glory to the Fire Nation!"
"Eternal glory to the Fire Nation!" the crowd parroted.
Upon finishing his speech the soldier descended from the stage and left toward the Governor's Mansion.
The governor put up his hands to call for order and patiently waited for the crowd to settle down.
"Today is a day of great victory for the Fire Nation. Let us revel and make merry. I have brought many barrels of wine to be enjoyed by all!"
His sentence signalled ten carts pulled by pairs of ostrich horses to enter the square. These carts were, of course, laden with casks which had outward facing spouts so that anyone could take some at their leisure.
"Let the Breaking Day festival… Begin!"
Six hours later Sokka returned to the Kong estate. The "festival" had been agonizing for all of the slaves. They were kept away from the festivities by Kong's guardsmen and forced to stand and watch lest they get beaten by one of the guardsmen's spears. It was bad enough that people were celebrating the destruction of the last bit of hope that the slaves and many of the Earth nation citizens had held onto, but then people started bringing out food to share and it turned into a real party!
Feng had spent most of the time mingling with Lao Beifong and Wei Laoshu while the rest of their respective families got drunk off their asses. Even the famously reserved and blind Toph Beifong got involved and let out a few surprisingly crass remarks about the eldest Kong son and heir, Yan.
The entire time Sokka wished he could drown away his sorrows with alcohol. His one fairy tale hope had been mercilessly crushed at the feet of the Fire Nation, just like everything else he held dear.
As he lay on the dirt floor, stomach aching in a familiar pain from not getting fed dinner gruel, Sokka finally broke down and cried.
'This is it. They attacked my home, they took my sister, they killed half of my village, and they sold me into slavery. And now they've taken my hope.'
Sokka wallowed in an endless pain, ignorant of the fact that everyone around him was doing the same thing, thinking the same thoughts.
'Why go on? To die another day? How long can I continue to do this? How many years, months, weeks, or days until De's whip finally beats the life out of me? Or that gruel poisons me and I die?'
Sokka mirthlessly chuckled.
"We can't even run away." he complained out loud.
Which was true. Sokka had been told that a few years ago someone had attempted to run away. They had fled in the dead of night and had gotten a good ways away from the estate, but his constitution was far too weak. That morning it only took the guardsmen a few hours to find him while riding ostrich horseback. They killed him on site.
'I could kill myself.'
But even that would be difficult. He could die a slow painful death from eating dirt, otherwise he would have to kill himself with the blunt gardening tools they used to work. If he somehow failed De Huang would undoubtedly finish the job.
'Maybe… but…' Sokka looked over at the teens who had cried themselves to sleep. 'Who will protect them if I go? And what would my father say? Suicide is the coward's way out. Begone evil thoughts! I will fight until I die!'
Having reaffirmed his convictions Sokka fell into a deep slumber.
The next morning Sokka awoke to an odd ping sound.
You have slept on a dirt floor. 20% of your HP and STA have been recovered.
Due to the negative status effect [Deathly Malnourished] the normal Stamina regeneration of 1% per second has been reduced to 0.01% per second.
Sokka simply blinked in confusion at the odd collection of words on a writing tablet that floated in front of him. Individually the words made sense…
'But what the hell is a negative status effect?' he wondered.
Alas, slaves do not have time for such frivolities, there was work to be done. To Sokka's surprise the words disappeared when he shook his head in an effort to banish them and that was the last time he thought about them.
After lunch the slaves experienced a horrible shock. While they continued digging to create the new pond Old Man Chen suddenly let out a warcry.
"The Avatar is no more and never will be again! This life is for nought!"
He then proceeded to bash his skull in with his shovel until he died. A gruesome display that the slaves had never witnessed even during their harsh lives.
Even Taskmaster De was shocked for several moments until he decided to run into the house and explain the situation to Feng. The slaves simply stared at the body of Old Man Chen, several of them contemplating whether or not they should join him.
Eventually Feng came out and shook his head in disappointment at the sight.
"Damn that old bastard. Well, I was looking for an excuse to replace him anyway… You, tall one. Take this… thing and put it into the ground. As for the rest of you… enjoy this mercy from your master. Take the rest of the day to relax in your hut. You are all dismissed."
Feng turned around and left, leaving the group even more shocked than before. It took Taskmaster De's boom yell to get them moving.
"You heard him pigs! Get rid of that body and enjoy the rest of the day off. And don't even think that something like this will happen again."
Burying Old Man Chen was an excruciating process for Sokka. Chen had done a good job braining himself which left a mess on the floor with gray matter scattered all over the place. He had to simply till it into the soil in order to get rid of it. Sokka buried Chen a few meters away from the hut and even placed Chen's shovel to act as a headstone. His final act was to gather the rest of the slaves and give chen a small prayer for departure.
Back in the slave hut silence reigned. They were so used to not being allowed to talk in front of De and Feng, which was most of the day, every day, for the last year or more, that they would rarely talk when they were alone. Not that any words were needed everyone was thinking the same thing.
Chen was right.
With the Avatar slain in the Avatar State there will never be another Avatar. There was no great "Chosen One" to bring balance to the world. They were all doomed to die as slaves. Perhaps they were better off ending it now.
Sokka thoughts on the other hand had wandered back to the odd words he had seen when he had awoken. And then as if summoned by those very thoughts the words reappeared.
You have slept on a dirt floor. 20% of your HP and STA have been recovered.
Due to the negative status effect [Deathly Malnourished] the normal Stamina regeneration of 1% per second has been reduced to 0.1% per second.
He spent several minutes trying to figure out what it all meant, until he gave up with one last idea. He tried to press it.
Sokka had to suppress a yell of surprise because when he tried to touch the words he felt something. They were there!
'This is real…'
Knowing that he could touch… whatever it really is, Sokka decided to press the first thing that confused him. HP. Upon making contact with the letters a new set of text appeared this time on a seperate tablet.
HP is short for Health Points.
Health Points are numbers that represent your ability to take damage. If your HP hits zero you are dead. You can essentially thinking of them as your life.
'Seriously? What's going on? How would I even see those numbers?'
Once again prompted by his thoughts even more words on tablets appeared.
Booting Heads-Up Display…
Then those words went away and suddenly Sokka could see things in the edge of his vision. No matter where he looked they would stay in his periphery. They moved with him.
Even more words appeared, this time several of them pointing at each thing that had appeared in his vision.
(Pointing to the top left)
This red bar is you HP Bar. It is a visual representation of your HP. Keep a good eye on it, you wouldn't want to die now would ya?
(Just below HP)
This green bar is your STA bar. A visual representation of your STA. Keep a good eye on it, you wouldn't want to attack and then not be able to and die now would ya?
(Pointing to the bottom left)
These empty boxes are your equipment. The left box is for your left hand and the right is for your right hand! They're empty right now telling you that only weapons are your fists.
'Huh, that's very helpful. But what's STA?' Sokka thought as he pressed the letters.
STA is short for Stamina.
Stamina is your stamina. It's how much stuff you can do at any moment. Normally it refills quite quickly, but not now. But you're already used to it, you've always had a stamina bar, you just couldn't see it.
'Okay. But why is all of this happening?'
At that thought all of the tablets disappeared and a huge one took their place.
Quest: You're just a baby. You can barely put on your shoes! It's time to learn the ropes so that one day you can be a true badass.
Objective: Read the Tutorial manual.
Reward: Another Quest
Onec Sokka had finished reading the quest information a book landed on his lap. "Err… okay?"
As absurd as the situation was, Sokka truly had nothing better to do, so he read. The book went over what am RPG was and how it now applied to his life as well as how to navigate his UI… and what a UI was. Once he had finished reading the book a new screen appeared.
Here is your stat screen
Title: Kong Slave
Race: Human (Nonbender)
HP: (300/300) = 30/30
STA: (30/30) = 3/3
Vit: (30*0.1) = 3
End: (30*0.1) = 3
Str: (30*0.1) = 3
Dex: (30*0.1) = 3
Luck: (5-10) = -5
Charm: (5-100) = -95
Sokka sputtered in indignity. 'What the hell happened to my stats?'
You are so horribly malnourished that at any point you might keel over and die. You are quite literally skin and bones, sticks and stones could kill you.
All physical stats are reduced by 90%
Charisma is reduced by 100 points
Receive double damage from all sources
Stamina regeneration is reduced to 0.1%
You're a slave.
Luck reduced by 10 points
Sokka had no words. The game was basically telling him that he had no hope of every doing anything ever. He would probably have trouble killing a god damned fly!
It was at that point that the game interjected once again.
You've completed the Quest: [Tutorial Time!]
New Quest is [Dungeon Time!]
Quest: It's time to enter the dungeon baby! Slay monsters! Get sweet rewards!
Objective: Beat the Floor 1 Boss.
'Dungeons? But how will I find a dungeon?' Sokka wondered.
Suddenly, the world turned a weird off purple color and his eight fellow slaves disappeared!
Welcome to the Dungeon!
This one is helpfully called: [The Beginner's Dungeon]
Set forth to adventure!
Sokka was quite worried about the entire thing, but what else was he going to do? Sit around until a monster found him and killed him.
'If I'm not going to kill myself just to take care of those kids, then I'm not going to sit around and die in here either. The only problem is that I don't have a weapon…'
Sokka thought, hoping against hope that once again the Game would provide an answer to his problems. Unfortunately, a convenient text box did not appear this time.
'Oh well, at least I tried.'
With nothing left to do Sokka exited the hut, only to find himself in a dirt tunnel.
'I thought… what? Then what was with the purple? Whatever.'
Sokka started walking. Less than a minute later he encountered his first enemy: An oversized rat. Nothing about the rat was outstanding besides the fact that it was the size of an Otter Penguin.
'Ugh… nasty. Now what was that skill the game said I had? Oh right! Observe.'
"...Oh… I was hoping the Game would go easy on me… but this just feels mean. Fodder? Really?"
Either way Sokka was not going to complain too much, with his debuff he was only barely stronger than the little guy.
The rat, which had so far been aimlessly waddling around, finally caught sight of Sokka and immediately went on the offensive.
"Woah!" Sokka could not help but yell as he narrowly avoided the rat's leaping attack. "For such a weak guy you sure are mean you know that?" Unfortunately that dodge took an entire point of stamina. "Fuck, one out of three… and the Game said that a punch cost a point too! This is just mean."
Luckily the rat had only a single point of stamina.
"I've got to try and kill it now!"
Sokka made a hammer fist and swung at the rat's head.
ROUS Lvl. 1
'6 damage? Just my punches put together? And that cost me my last two points of stamina? This is some bullshit!'
This was a severe loss for Sokka. His reduced Stamina regeneration made his bar literally crawl towards getting a point. On top of that, having zero stamina was horrible. Sokka felt like he needed a nap! Fortunately the ROUS still needed a full 100 seconds to get its single point of stamina back. So Sokka… walked away.
"Game, how long until I get a point back?"
About five minutes
"I would have to avoid… four of the rat's attacks in that time? This is stupid." So Sokka kept walking.
After walking for only a minute Sokka saw another ROUS in the distance and turned around. It was pathetic, but he knew there was no way he could deal with more than one ROUS at a time.
'Game plan: dodge the ROUS' attacks without spending a stamina point.' He said to himself once he ran into the first ROUS.
Luckily that was not a difficult task. The ROUS' attack range seemed to be about three feet at most thanks to a lunging bite. The tunnel the dungeon was made up of was about six feet wide and ten feet tall which was more than enough room.
Sokka spent four agonizingly boring minutes baiting out the ROUS attacks. It was a simple strategy of: wait a minute for the ROUS' single point of stamina to regenerate, wave an arm inside of its attack range, and then take a single, leisurely step back when it actually attacked. Then he would repeat that again.
The entire affair seemed rather ridiculous to Sokka.
'Does it really need to wait all that time to attack me? It still has huge teeth and probably a strong jaw. Couldn't it just bite me?' he wondered.
After the third dodged attack Sokka decided to get close to the ROUS to see what it would do. Surprise, surprise the overgrown rat immediately clamped its jaws onto Sokka's leg.
"But I took no damage?" he couldn't help but ask aloud.
Then the game provided an answer.
Damage dealt while stamina is at zero is reduced by ninety percent. In the case of the ROUS who has strength and dexterity stats of one, the damage it would deal is so low that it has been rounded to zero.
"Huh? Weird. Guess that's why it feels like a tickle…"
Eventually Sokka regained enough stamina so that his punches actually dealt damage and he slew the ROUS! The creature slumped down onto the ground and began to dissolve in a shower of sparkles leaving behind a small, broken sword.
"Ooh! My first piece of loot!"
Sokka grabbed the sword by its rusty hilt, held it at eye-level, and used Observe.
Rusty Broken Sword Lvl. 1
An old and rusty sword whose blade has broken.
Damage: 2 + ½*Str + ½*Dex
Cost: 1 Sta per swing
Effect: 1% chance to inflict Tetanus
"Crap, does that mean that it'll cost me one stamina even if I'm not attacking?" Sokka asked aloud, hoping for an answer.
"Shit. At least it does more damage than one of my punches for the same price… which means that I can kill a ROUS and dodge an attack without having to stop the fight. Awesome."
Armed, Sokka set out and slew the next nine ROUS' he encountered without a problem. It might have been several years since he has led his village in a guerilla war against the invading firebenders, but Sokka's battle experience allowed him to easily read the ROUS' obvious attacks.
Of the ten total ROUS he had killed only five of them dropped anything. Sokka now had three more broken, rusty swords, which was great because his first one was about to break, a bandana that gave him a single, useless, point of endurance, and a weak health potion.
Weak Health Potion
A terribly weak restorative drought that would most likely garner a failing grade is presented for a grade in a class.
Restores 5 HP
"It's definitely not useless but it's not that great either… whatever, it's better than nothing."
Just as Sokka finished talking he heard a far off rumbling that sounded like stone grinding against stone.
Floors will often have conditions that the player will have to fulfill in order to access the boss room. The most common types of conditions are:
Floor Clearing- in which a player must clear the entire floor of enemies
Switch Discovery- the player must find a switch of some type (obvious)
Guardian- the player must slay a specific monster on the floor
Puzzle- the boss door will have a puzzle the player will need to solve
These are the more common and basic types of requirements. Some labyrinths and floors will be very complicated and might contain more than one condition. For example, some switches and guardians will be hidden and some puzzles will require knowledge the player currently does not have. There will be a plethora of labyrinths and the answer will be close.
"Ah… will I be told?"
Yes, the conditions will always be presented to the player upon entering a floor.
"Good, good. Guess I'll go find the door."
Unsurprisingly the straight dirt tunnel stayed straight all the way to the boss door.
"A stone door at the end of a dirt tunnel… weird."
Sokka noticed an intricate pattern carved along the stone frame and ran his fingers along it. The stone was a very rough texture and upon closer look the pattern was… disturbing.
'It's like… rats are being strangled to death by the vines… what the hell?'
Near the ground the pattern was relatively benign, the vines seemed to caress the rat, but at the top of the frame the rat had been popped by the squeezing vines, his body a mess of viscera.
'What is this?' Sokka wondered.
The game did not answer Sokka and without an answer he decided to enter the boss room. Upon passing the threshold the stone door slammed shut behind him and torches lit up along the walls of the circular room. He could see very easily.
...And now Sokka understood the carving.
AN: This ended up going longer than I expected and I have come to prefer slightly shorter first chapters to help ease people in IDK. Maybe it's pointless. Where I was in the story had me writing a lot more so I didn't want to reach the other extreme of a 10,000 word first chapter.
Uh… that beginning AN is real long, sorry for that, i hope people don't look at it and immediately turn away.
On the more serious topics of my AN though I would love opinions and ideas. I've got something working in my head, but nothing feels very concrete. The stamina bar is something I really like, but I would love to hear alternative opinions on it.
Also, sorry for taking so long to make this chapter. I started this document and wrote all of the author's note and beginning half of the story on August 30/31. So yeah, sorry. I guess I just got bored with fanfiction and I had already been getting back into manga and it was a fresh of breath air to read something that was not fanfiction. I really only ever read on this site for a couple of years straight.
Like I always say none of my stories are ever abandoned, I'll get around to writing something for them I promise… it just might take a while.
Last thing I promise, no one in my life cares about this stuff, fanfiction and writing fanfiction that is, so I don't have anyone to workshop ideas with so I really appreciate reviews, ideas, criticisms, etc. To be honest I'm not a big fan of the title…