I don't own Avatar: The last airbender

Chapter 28

A figure wearing dark robes was walking in an unfamiliar land, and not a nice one at that. All around it were dark clouds that filled the sky with rad lightning.

The figure braved on against the storm, even when the ground shook and the wind threw rocks and trees at it.

The cloaked figure merely continues walking against the earthquakes and blasted to oblivion any tree or rock that came near it with a blast of purple fire that came from a dark colored and mean looking pitchfork.

After a while, the earthquakes stopped, and terrifying creatures took their place. Nearly formless abominations of varied shapes and sizes. There was no rhyme nor reason to be found within those things as they all jumped to assault the unknown figure.

Said figure didn't falter, however. The lone warrior shot the dark beings with the scepter, disintegrating them once the light beam touched. Any being suicidal enough to come close was quickly cut through by the deceptively sturdy pitchfork. Any magic that was thrown at the figure was repelled by the scepter as well, and hit another dark being.

After a while, there were no more attackers, and the figure stood against a big tree. One that had no leaves bit had something trapped inside it. The thing inside… it was insidious. It was ancient beyond belief and even with the barrier trapping it inside, one could feel the sheer malice that thing transmitted.

The lone figure, however, walked toward said thing. It did not stutter nor shake while it neared the source of this evil, it couldn't allow itself to show weakness. It stopped once it was a dozen feet away from the tree, getting the full attention of the vile thing inside.

"Greetings your excellency, the greatest of all spirits."

The figure finally spoke with a masculine voice.

"I have come to bargain, Lord Vaatu."


Zuko woke up with a sweat from the dream he just had, breathing heavily.

"Good morning, your highness."

"I had a strange dream… Sai, Do you know anything about it?"

"What dream?"

Zuko started explaining Sai about what he saw, the robed figure, the pitchfork, the spirits and he ended when he described the tree.

"The tree… it felt old, very old. It felt like it was there before 'There' was a thing… It's hard to explain."

"But the ting inside…"

Zuko shuddered.

"It radiated pure malice. Whatever that thing was, it was dangerous, in was evil, it was…"

"Vaatu."

"Yes! That's what the figure called it! how did you know?"

"I suppose it's time for a history lesson. Remember when I told you about Raava?"

"The avatar spirit, yes."

"Existence demands balance, every force will be met with a counter force of equal strength. That is what Raava and Vaatu are. They are opposites, unrelenting towards each other and will stop at nothing until the opposition is erased."

"Those two are considered the greatest of the local spirits, the firstborn beings in this cluster of dimensions. They are the true Yin and Yang, as opposed to La and Tui who later took that mental."

"But why then did I feel that way when I saw Vaatu? And why was it trapped inside of a tree?"

"Raava and Vaatu fight each other to the death every ten thousand years at the celestial convergence. When Raava wins, things stay as they are. But when Vaatu wins, the world and civilization resets to the beginning, erasing any and all of humanity with it. This fear that is imprinted in every soul is what caused your reaction."

"And someone is actually working with this thing?!"

Zuko couldn't comprehend it, how could someone betray all of existence by siding with Vaatu? Did they not know what they were dealing with?

"Ever since the last celestial convergence where Vaatu was imprisoned in the tree of time, which is the tree you saw, it became much easier to make deals with the spirit without being totally erased. The man you saw was in fact the first overlord. He made a bargain with Vaatu to counter Raava, Vaatu's mortal nemesis."

"What could he possibly achieve by that? Was he insane?"

"The border between madness and greatness is thin, your highness. And to answer your first question, I was one of the products of that deal."

"What?!"

"Yes, my core and part of my code are parts of the essence of Vaatu. Vaatu is the donor I mentioned before when I told you about the reason why spirits hate to be near the workshop. It thanks to his essence that I'm able to manipulate spiritual energy and allow my users to wield magic… after a few augmentations."

"So… you have two dads?"

"Vaatu doesn't have a gender, but yes."

"Agni, this is so weird…"

"In any case, I one part of my enhancements it to give you access to the memories of the overlords before you. Think of it as an equivalent to the avatar state where the person in question is given the knowledge of past lives, unfortunately yours is without the power boost."

"Your dream was most likely a byproduct of the memory transfer lines. There will probably be other dreams like that until the filter will be ready."

"Can't you do something about that? You're the one responsible after all."

"Afraid not, your highness. This is something you must suffer."

Zuko sighed as he suddenly heard a whine to his side, he looked and found Xing looking back.

"Oh, come here, you fur ball~"

Zuko petted the hellhound as he spoke.

"You were worried about me, didn't you? Good boy~ Don't worry, everything is fine. Want to play with the carapace?"

Xing barked happily as Zuko pulled a piece of the armor of one of the frost centipedes and threw it to the other side of the room. The hellhound jumped on its toy and immediately started mauling it.

"So, what's our checklist for today?"

Zuko asked his inhuman companion.

"We should probably give the water tribe sibling a tour around the place and get to know each of them a little."

"This is going to get very confusing now that we have two pairs of siblings, isn't it?"

"Only as confusing as you make it. Another thing is to think about making more space. this old girl is getting crowded, especially now when we'll have all those new things."

"Yeah… you're right about that."

Zuko had to agree that free space was a luxury now. While most of the things stayed stored in the containers (that took almost all of the deck), many things that were taken by the crew as personal belongings were thrown away in their private quarters. Meaning, people had to be very careful not to step on something.

"Maybe we can buy a new ship, one that is bigger and faster?"

"A grand idea your highness, I wonder if Loban has the prototype ready. In any case, we should upgrade the ship if we want to explore the more unfriendly waters."

Zuko rose from his bad and dressed up, he than continued his morning routine which included meditation, warm-up and a theory with Sai. He went down to the canteen after he finished, Xing followed him like the loyal dog it is.

'Strange, I see neither of the water tribe siblings.'

"Did you tell them where they can eat? Or that they can leave their room at all?"

'Oh…'

"We should probably go and check on them."

'Yeah…'

Zuko turned tail and went up to the direction of the room that housed the water siblings. It had a painted blue frame, yes it wasn't very original, but it was effective and time was of the essence.

He knocked on the door three times.

"Hey, it's Zuko. Are you ready to go for breakfast?"

"A moment!"

He heard Katara yell.

There were some noises in the room and Zuko waited a few moments before the door swung open and revealed both Katara and Sokka. Both looked like they hadn't slept much and had bags under their eyes. Zuko could relate, it took him some time too to get used to sleeping on a ship.

"Come on, let's get something to eat."

Katara could say that she didn't sleep well, like at all. The emotional turmoil from leaving home, having her water bending discovered by the fire prince and now living under said prince, made it so.

Her brother was on the same boat as her, until at one point near the end of the night he succeeded in getting some sleep. Needless to say, his snoring didn't help at all.

Then, when she thought that she could finally get some sleep, Zuko just had to get them up once and for all.

"Hey, it's Zuko. Are you ready to go for breakfast?"

Of course that woke her brother up and since he was too busy trashing about and getting dressed, she had to answer him something.

"A moment!"

After they both got decently dressed, Katara opened the door and was greeted by the prince of the fire nation himself. Next to him was this strange black creature that was called Xing if Katara remembered correctly.

"Come on, let's get you something to eat."

Zuko said once the two of them were out of the room.

On their way they had to watch their steps from the random garbage, but they managed to get to the canteen in the end.

"Sorry again for the mess."

Zuko apologized.

"We had more success than anticipated."

He bent his head a little for some kind of sign of sincerity, but with that dark helmet on Katara was more creeped by it then anything. Seriously, did he ever take that thing off?

"No kidding."

Sokka said.

"So… what's on the menu?"

"Hm? Well, rice probably. As well as some beef and cabbages. Of course, we can't forget the lemon drops."

"What are lemons?"

Sokka asked, so ever eager about food.

"A sour fruit that is filled in vitamin C. Sailors can easily get Scurvy because of malnutrition, the lemon is one of the main foods that sailors eat to avoid it."

"Wait really? So that means I must eat a salad now?!"

Sokka asked in a whining tone.

"You could always fight Xing for its share, you know."

Said animal growled at her brother once it heard Zuko's proposal, clearly stating what it thought of this arrangement and what awaited her brother. It actually bit the bone thing in its mouth so hard that it broke to pieces.

"I'm good!"

Her brother (and quite frankly she as well) was spooked.

"Good, because we're here."

Zuko said as they entered the canteen. Immediately Katara could feel everybody's eyes on her, judging both her and Sokka. She accepted that, they were in the dragon's mouth so to speak, it was only natural. Luckily, whatever misgivings the men may had been silenced in their prince's presence.

Zuko led them to the cook and chose himself what to eat. It baffled Katara a little that Zuko didn't have his private dining room as a prince and instead ate with all the "peasants". Then again, nothing he did made since to her.

She didn't know what to take and decided just to take whatever Zuko was taking, if it was good enough for his princely standards, then it was surly good enough for her. From her sideview, she saw that Sokka had the same idea.

As they went through the tables she saw Jasmine waving her hand at them, or more likely at Zuko. Said prince went in that direction and the two of them had no choice but to follow him.

"Zuko! How was your sleep?"

Jasmine asked.

"Good enough I suppose, especially when we aren't surrounded from all sides by overgrown centipedes. The bed was certainly a bonus."

"Amen to that."

Mi-Dved said and raised his glass of water as Zuko finished speaking, something that was mimicked by the others on the table.

"I swear if I see another thing with more limbs then me it'll be too soon"

A random man from the table said and if a quarter of what she heard about their adventure to the south (well, souther) was true then she also would wholeheartedly agree.

"To never doing this again!"

Zuko proclaimed and raised his own glass of water as the others cheered with him.

After a few minutes of merciful silence Sokka finished his food, before anyone else, and just had to do something that will make an idiot out of himself.

"So… Jasmine. I couldn't help but notice that you're the only woman on board. So I was wondering something."

Jasmine hummed at Sokka's question.

"What exactly are you doing here?"

"I'm sorry?"

Jasmine raised an eyebrow and sokka, not noticing the hole he was digging for himself continuing speaking.

"I mean a woman's place isn't on a ship, she's the one who makes food, cleans and does all the other womanly tasks while the man works. And there is no way that you could take care of so many people-"

"What my stupid brother meant to say."

Katara interrupted him before the burning glares at her brother will evolve to literal burns.

"Is that it's unusual for a women to be a part of a ship's crew and we wondered what is your responsibility here."

"Oh, I assist the medic here. I also brew many of the potions and salve we have on the ship."

"So you're a healer?"

Katara asked curiously.

"In a way, yes. I will hardly call myself an expert though."

"Don't listen to her, she's a great healer and I will always trust her to patch me up."

Mi-Dved said, and the other men said their compliments as well. It was strange to see those monsters of the fire nation act so… human.

"Well, so will probably see each other from time to time."

No Sokka please don't start it now…

"You see, I'm actually the best warrior my village, probably even the entire south."

Katara heard someone at the table say "and the only" before many men snickered.

Unaware, or ignoring, anything that wasn't his target, Sokka continued to flirt with Jasmine and flex his muscles.

"Yep. I hardly get injured at a fight, but even I get a scratch from time to time. I'll be sure to come by and say hello."

Katara noticed the deathly quiet atmosphere around the table. She really began to worry when one of the men whispered "Kid got balls" and another shook his head and hands in a "no" feverishly. Please don't tell her that Sokka was hitting on Zuko's girlfriend, they both will be dead deal or not.

"Ahm… Sokka-"

"Not now sis. Anyway, how about you show me your place after the meal? I could use a full checkup."

Katara swore she could hear a fly with all the silence.

"Kid, you really shouldn't –"

One of the men at the table tried to warn her brother, to no avail.

"Am… there's really no need, I already did a checkup when you were unconscious."

Jasmine looked at Zuko for help.

"Really? So did you like checking me up? How was it?"

"Ahm…"

Thankfully Zuko came to the rescue.

"Well, if we finished eating than I think it's time to have a proper tour for you two."

"An excellent idea boss!"

Mi-Dved proclaimed with too much spirit as he put one hand on her brother's shoulder, which covered nearly the entire said shoulder.

"I will personally give our southern friend here a tour he will never forget. We'll have long time to talk about everything that has to do with my little sister."

Katara had a feeling that the hold in the end was way stronger than at the beginning.

"Your… little… sister…?"

Sokka said in a terrified voice. His skin color changed as well to a very pale shade, so pail he could masquerade as fire nation nobility. Honestly Katara couldn't blame him, she would probably wet herself as well. But then again it was Sokka's fault to begin with, if he just had his mouth shut then nothing would have happened.

"An excellent idea Mi-Dved, if the two of you are finished than you may as well start now."

Zuko said, most likely unwilling to stand between an almost seven feet tall mountain of a man that is pissed off like only a big brother could be, and his target.

"As you say, boss!"

Mi-Dved then casually warped his massive arm around her near catatonic brother's shoulders and easily got up, Sokka dangling in the air. He then continued walking as if he didn't carry a healthy weighted teen with one hand.

"I'm so sorry!"

Katara said once the two got out of sight.

"I swear, he's usually more well behaved."

Luckily Zuko wasn't as hotheaded as she thought.

"Ahm, let me guess, the two of you are the only teenagers in the hundred miles radius?"

"Well… yes…"

Katara could hear the muttering of the men.

"Explains a lot."

"Poor kid, now I actually feel sorry for him."

"Can't imagine myself in his shoes."

Katara once again apologized, this time to the other girl on the ship.

"Again I'm sorry about this, if there is anything I can do to make up for it-"

Jasmine waved her off.

"Don't worry, it's not the first time someone tried to flirt with me. For all of your brother's inexperience, I'll give it to him that he wasn't too forceful about it comparing to others."

"Although I would advise against doing that next to the big overprotective brother."

Jasmine added in the end.

"Will he be fine?"

Katara asked in concern.

"Don't worry, Mi-Dved is a big boy and can take care of himself."

Zuko said ever so helpfully.

"I meant my brother!"

"Oh don't worry. My brother may look like the stereotypical bandit thug but he's downright civil when needs to be. Besides a few scares your brother will be fine."

Jasmine assured her.

"Oh, thanks."

Katara let out a sigh of relief.

The table quickly changed conversation to many things Katara had no idea about. Not looking at a gifted ostrich horse in its beak, she used this opportunity to eat her meal in silence.

"You know, you should go with Jasmine as well."

Zuko said when they finished eating.

"It will be better if your guide will be a fellow woman, especially approximately your age. Besides, it will give Jasmine her much needed 'girl time'."

"It's a great idea!"

Jasmine proclaimed.

"We can later have you try all those spare clothes I have from Loban!"

"Ah…"

New clothes did sound nice to Katara, who basically had to reuse and repair her old pakra.

"Well, you two have fun. I'm going to see if Sokka is still in one piece."

Zuko said as he got up.

"Oh, and Katara?"

"Yes?"

"Come to my room when the sun sets and I'll do my part of the deal."

He said as he left the canteen.


Sokka had to admit that he may have gone overboard a little. He also may have wetted himself a little when Mi-Dved brought the two of them to an empty room. The larger man then unceremoniously dropped Sokka to the floor.

"Hey, l-listen-"

Mi-Dved interrupted him with a raised hand.

"I know that my sister has a talent for drowning attention, wither willingly or not, you don't need to explain yourself. But come on man, is it the best you can do?"

"Am… excuse me?"

Sokka was extremely confused.

"I mean seriously, was that the first time you talked to a girl that wasn't your sister? It hurts my pride as a man."

Sokka really didn't know what to feel about this. On one hand he had never felt so humiliated, on the other hand…

"So… You're not going to kill me?"

The bigger man actually laughed.

"Kill you? I'm barley even mad at you for flirting with my sister… if you can call that flirting. I'm more sad for you actually."

Sokka decided to ignore the last part.

"Really?! Don't get me wrong I love all of my organs where they are, but I would be extremely mad if someone flirted with Katara."

"Eh, you get used to it after a while, especially if those idiots give free stuff. Besides, as much as I hate it, Jasmine is a big girl and can make her own decision. Often better than myself but don't tell anyone I said that."

Sokka nodded his head slowly, not willing to anger the giant before him.

"I was more worried for you actually. I love my sister and all, but she can be a manipulative… let's just say that she likes to squeeze naïve boys like you for all of their worth."

"Oh…"

"Yeah, last guy who talked to her like that, and wasn't a son of an influential criminal… well, let's just say that she somehow lost her bracelet in a pack of ostrich horses at mating season and convinced said idiot to fetch it for her. He never bothered anyone ever again."

Sokka gulped.

"Jasmine is off limits, got it."

"Good, now with the unpleasantness out of the way we can begin your tour."

Mi-Dved rose and opened the door for the two of them. They continued walking across the ship as the earth bender told Sokka about the various rooms and functions of the ship.

"And this is the steam room, here are the engines that make the ship move. Don't go in there, besides the terrible heat you will lose a hand if you move in the wrong direction."

"Got it."

"And to- Oh, hey boss."

Sokka turned around to find none other than Zuko himself.

"Hello Mi-Dved, Sokka, you two still alive?"

"Yeah, no big deal boss. We talked our differences out and all."

The prince nodded at Mi-Dved's words.

"Good. Oh, and once you two finish bring Sokka to the deck. I need to evaluate his fighting capacities and see where to build up from."

"I'm sorry?"

Sokka was confused, Zuko however clarified things.

"You didn't think you would do nothing at all did you? The two of you may be here because of the deal I made with your sister, but that doesn't mean you will be bumming around. You are a part of the crew now and that means that you will have rights and duties as well. See you at the deck."

Zuko that left the two teens alone.


As Sokka continued his tour with Mi-Dved, so did Katara with Jasmine. Unlike the boys, however, their tour started with a much more positive atmosphere.

"So… How is it like here on the ship?"

Katara asked.

"Well, it can get sometimes lonely with being the only girl on the ship, but other than that? Much better than to sleep on the streets."

"And they are treating you well?"

Katara asked, hoping to get some dirt on Zuko and the fire nation.

"Yes actually, besides the random comment of getting out of the way, there is nothing to complain about. At the start there was a bit of mistrust between us because my brother and I were strangers and not fire nation, but as time went on we grew closer. Mi-Dved is actually a star in the card games here."

"Really?"

The idea was still absurd to her. She was somehow fine with the man of the greenhouse after they were revealed to be working with the fire nation because they were from the earth kingdom and had little other choice, therefor they were inherently good.

The prince and the soldiers under him though were fire nation through and through, they were supposed to be monsters like no others. And yet, the girl in front of her lived among them for weeks and actually had positive views about them. Katara also couldn't detect any lies from her.

"It's good to hear. You said that you are working as a medic, right? How do you treat injuries here then?"

Katara said as she tried to change the subject. It seems to be working because Jasmine was eager to talk about it.

"Oh I use some of the things I learned at Amora. You can say many things about the people there, but they know their way with drugs. I had to experiment sometimes and Mi-Dved had been in a lot of fights, so I have experience."

"Really? And what herbs do you use?"

Katara helped Gran-Gran with medicine as well, so it was interesting to now other ways of healing. Besides, it was good to know that the two of them had something to talk about. What continued was a conversation about various different recipes for salves and debates about the right approach to take care of different injuries. It came to the point where Katara actually was a little disappointed that their tour was over.

"Hey, my shift is about to begin, want to join?"

Jasmine asked.

"Sure!"

And so, the two walked to the infantry and reached there after a few minutes.

"Ah, Jasmine, here for your shift?"

A middle-aged man greeted the them as they entered. He was of medium height and had the traditional beard some of the fire nation men had.

"And who is your friend?"

"Hey Pho, ready as always. This is Katara, the new member of our crew. Prince Zuko personally picked her, and she showed some knowledge about medicine. Do you mind if she joins us?"

"Well, if you vouch for her then I see no reason to not let her help, at least in the more manual parts. We could always use a helping hand."

The medic introduced her to the office and told her to put some glass bottles in order. On the way he answered a few of her questions about said bottles.

"The idea itself is actually very simple."

Pho explained.

"You see, the body does produce a countering agent to the venom. Unfortunately, in most cases the process itself is just too slow and by the time that there are enough agents to counter the specific venom the person in question is already dead.

"So what we do is injecting a drop of the poison we want to cure into a big animal like a komodo rhino and do this for a week or two. The animal does not even feel the poison and her body is creating an antidote. At the end we draw the antidote from its blood."

"But wouldn't it kill the animal?"

Katara asked.

"Oh no, a komodo rhino can spill ten liters of blood before it even feels anything and we use needles to make sure the process is as smooth as possible."

"What's a needle?"

Katara asked the medic, she had never heard of something like that from her grandmother.

The medic drew something from a shelf, uncapped it and showed it to her. It had a strange shape, a sharp (sharper then anything she had seen before) end on one side and a flat end on the other.

It also has a cylindrical body with a liquid inside.

"This is a needle. It can easily and more or less painlessly enter the body and either drew or inject something when you pull or push the handle on the other side."

The medic showed said handle.

"This one is filled with a dose of a calming drug known as 'milk of the Poppy', it calms the patient before a surgery. This thing is dangerous if you overdose so we use it only when necessary and only from needles that have a specific volume."

He continued to show her a rad line with a number on it before capping the pointy end and putting it back to the drawer.

Katara could clearly see the use of such things.

"You will get to know them very well in the next week anyway."

The medic said.

"Hm? Why?"

"Well, you do need to be vaccinated. You most likely didn't have any of the common sicknesses because of your isolation in the pole, therefore you are vulnerable to diseases. We can't have you die under the prince's watch because of a common cold, can we?"

Suddenly Katara became less thrilled about the needles, and much much more scared. She started to run to the door but was suddenly knocked down to the floor when it opened, and she crashed into something that felt like a cliff.

"Ouch…"

She said as she rubbed her head in pain.

"Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there."

None other than Mi-Dved said it as he loomed over her with a hand to help her up. To add insult to injury, he didn't wear any armor, so the painful feeling was from running into his rock-hard body. A very fitting irony for an earth bender.

"Let me guess, vaccination?"

Mi-Dved asked knowingly and received a nod in confirmation from the other two.

"Yeah, had the same response."

"Oh I remember well. We had to have ten men to hold you down enough for me to do my thing."

Pho remembered as the big earth bender blushed and rubbed his head. Katara expected Jasmine to at least chuckle a little, but the girl stayed quiet. most likely she had a similar reaction like her brother and Katara.

"Right… Anyway, prince Zuko is now evaluating the fresh meat so you probably should come to patch the new guy up."

Mi-Dved said.

"Of course, they're on the bridge I assume?"

"Yep."

"Wait, Sokka is going to fight Zuko?!"

Katara suddenly yelled.

"He's going to kill him!"

"Neh, Zuko will be fine. He's tougher than he looks."

It seems that boys of all civilizations were created to make her life more difficult.

"And he looks very tough…"

Katara decided to ignore her fellow woman's muttering.

"In all seriousness now."

Mi-Dved calmed her down as he raised his hand in a stop signal.

"Prince Zuko will do nothing to harm your brother, maybe a blue mark here and there but nothing beyond. He just needs to know the limits of your brother to know how to train him."

"Sokka will be dead tired though, and probably will fill his muscles burn for the next few days."

Mi-Dved then added in a thoughtful tone.

"Oh, I remember the feeling well enough."

Pho the medic added his own thoughts.

"My muscles hurt for a week after the prince started his training regime. On the bright side, I lost all my fat and actually have a six pack now."

Katara looked at the man again and noticed after a closer examination that he did have a body that is more fitted to a warrior then a person who works with medicine. She had to wonder what kind of brutal training did they receive to change them so much.

A new weird and disgusting part of her wondered if all the other men on the ship have such physics and how many packs does Zuko has as the one who invented this training…

She shook the thoughts out of her head and tried to hide her blush. Luckily the medic was too busy preparing his bag to notice her and Mi-Dved was mercifully too clueless in the art of understanding women.

A glance at her side revealed that her fellow female wasn't fooled. Jasmine gave her a knowing look combined with a smirk and a wink.

Truly Jasmine is a dangerous, dangerous woman.

"Let's just go…"

Katara said as she put her head in her hands to avoid further humiliation.

To her fortune, the medic finally finished his presentation and they left to the deck. She could only hope that her brother wasn't in too much trouble.


Sokka was in trouble.

He knew it the moment he stepped out to the deck.

He was greeted with a crowd of people, at least as much as it was possible with the huge crates on the deck. No doubt they all were eager to see their prince brutalize the water tribe barbarian.

The prince was standing there as well, and with a strange attire. His helmet was on as always, but he lacked the armor he usually wore. Instead, he had a loose short sleeved tonic and shorts. It showed off his arms and legs and Sokka immediately knew that he wasn't the stronger teen.

Zuko also had a wooden sword in his hand and strange metal constructors on each limb, arms and legs. What for Sokka had no idea, they weren't as good of a shield as his gauntlets and seemed to weight far more.

"Good, you're here."

Zuko said evenly.

"And you brought your chosen weapon with you."

The prince pointed at his boomerang and whale bone club.

"Am… Yes, is it ok?"

Sokka asked unsurely.

"Yes, yes, it's good."

Zuko calmed him down and continued his explanation.

"This is what we're going to do, the two of us will spar in a mock battle. This way I will be able to gauge your skills. For the sake of fairness, I won't be wearing my armor and be as vulnerable to attacks as you. I will also wear those cuffs."

Zuko showed him said cuffs on his hand.

"The weight of the cuffs will pressure me and will make sure that we have as equal straight as possible. I will also be forbidden to use my fire bending."

As far as Sokka was concerned, those chances were as good as he can get. The man inside of him was nursing a huge blow to his ego, true, but his survival instincts pushed that thought aside for now. He knew that he needed any chance he can get.

"My uncle will start the counting."

Sokka nodded, a determined look filled his face as the old man started to count down.

"Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Begin!"

Sokka immediately threw his boomerang at the prince, only for Zuko to move his head right to evade it.

"It could have been faster."

Zuko commented with his arms crossed.

"Oh, it's as fast as it needs to be. You should never underestimate the water tribe."

Sokka said with a smirk as he waited for his trusty boomerang to come back and hit Zuko in the head. And it did, only to Sokka's surprise and growing horror Zuko merely moved his head left and once again evaded the blow completely.

Sokka almost didn't catch his boomerang from the surprise.

"H-how?"

"You do understand that a boomerang is known mainly for his ability to return, right? Besides, I could hear the airflow as it spun back. You will need more practice with that."

Sokka shook off his stupor and rushed the fire prince with his mace as he yelled like a warrior. No one, and he means no one, makes fun of his ability with his trusty boomerang.

He thought that he had the upper hand since Zuko didn't move an inch, most likely being scared by his battle cry. He was proven dead wrong, however, when Zuko easy parried his mace and gave him a strong punch to the stomach.

Sokka immediately fell and clutched his belly in pain.

"You're telegraphing, now get up and try again."

Sokka took a moment to gather himself before getting up and attacking Zuko again. Only to be brought back down in the same manner as before.

"You leave your left side open. Gurd it and try again."

Katara watched helplessly as her brother was brought down again and again. She looked to her sides to see if she could find some help, maybe the prince's uncle?

She decided it was worth a try.

"Sir, please, can you stop it? My brother is dying there!"

The old man looked as her with understanding.

"I know that it may seem harsh to you, but I agree with the idea of my nephew. I assure you that if your brother was in any real danger, I would have stopped that training immediately."

"You call this training?!"

Katara said appalled.

"He's beating my brother black and blue!"

"His approach is a bit harsher then I would have liked, true, but look at your brother closely. Do you see how he is improving? Each try is better than the last, your brother is learning from his experience."

Katara looked closely and saw that her brother actually managed to trade a few blows before going down now. Oh, he still was grossly outmatched, and she doubted he will land a blow, but it was a far cry from his first… attempt.

"But he's clearly outmatched."

Katara said, only for another voice to cut in.

"Not really."

Mi-Dved said.

"See those cuffs? I can tell you from experience that they aren't light. If I had to guess, then the combined weight Zuko feels right now is that of a feel grown man. I can assure you that Zuko is under much more strain than your brother right now."

"And he also aims for parts that wouldn't leave any lasting damage, any strike is precisely to avoid maiming."

"He certainly doesn't look strained."

Katara commented.

"He certainly doesn't~"

Jasmine said next to her in a dreamy tone.

The two continued their spar for another hour. Sokka was deadbeat on the floor, breathing heavily. Zuko was on his feet and even he showed signs of tiredness.

He had a layer of sweat that was shown under the rays of the sun and glued his tonic to his well-defined muscles. It also enabled her notice how his chest slowly rose up and down while his hands were flexing from holding the cuffs for so long…

Katara once again shook her head and erased those strange thoughts. This time it seems that Jasmine was too busy enjoying the show, so Katara didn't get caught this time.

Sokka rose up once again, barley standing on his feet, as Zuko held his hand to hold him.

"This is enough, I have a basic understanding where you stand. Take the rest of the day off and come back here tomorrow at the same time. Good work."

Sokka fell to his knees as the adrenaline rush faded and was quickly surrounded by herself, Jasmine and Pho.

"He's good, just tired!"

Pho declared as he gave her brother water.

After two minutes Sokka could again walk by himself and was accompanied by Pho and herself to their room. From behind, she could here Zuko address the rest of the man.

"And where do you think you're going? Our training is just starting!"

Zuko was truly a monster, going from one grueling training to another. Then again, what could she expect from the fire prince?

After a little walk, Pho gently put Sokka to bed.

"Argh… I think that I'm going to die…"

"You did good kid."

Pho assured him.

"In fact, I wasn't much better in my first time as well, and I was part of a group."

The medic left some meat, fruits and water. He addressed her before leaving.

"Make sure he drinks a lot and eats. Give him a pause of five minutes between food and water and make sure that he doesn't eat everything at once."

At her nod the man left.

When she was sure that they were alone she turned back to her brother.

"Sokka, how are you feeling?"

"Everything hurts… even places I didn't know I have…"

Katara was really concerned now.

"Forgot my water bending, we are running away tonight. Do you think you will be well enough by then? We'll figure something out once we're away."

She didn't care to lose her bending if it meant to spare her brother from all of that. To her shock Sokka moved his head from side to side in denial.

"No… bad idea. They will catch us way before we'll make it to deck… Besides, you need someone to teach you water bending. This isn't so bad."

It seems that her brother finally lost his mind.

"No bad? You're all black and blue! You can't seriously think that you will survive like this! Did Zuko hit you too many times in the head? No, obviously he did!"

"Ow ow please… head hurts…"

"Sorry…"

"Now please listen to me."

Sokka said.

"This was torture, yes, but it was something I had to go through. No, listen up."

He stopped her before she could say anything.

"This hour… I made there more progress then in ten years. Zuko showed me how far I still have to go before I can call myself a warrior. I need this. Like you need a water bending master, I need someone to teach me how to fight. And hey, it's only fare that I will share your suffering if you have to call Zuko 'master'."

"It's stupid."

"Not more than your idea."

She hated it when Sokka made sense, it was so unlike him.

"Just don't kill yourself over it, okay?"

"Yes mom."

Katara snorted in response.


Satoru watched as his uncle's men prepared the stuff for his experiment.

"I'm sorry again if I cause too much trouble."

His uncle, Loban, was a busy man, especially now with all the growth he was making.

"Oh, feel nothing about it, nephew."

His uncle waved his concern off.

"I always have a spot for my family. Besides, with all of your recent ideas it is I who should be grateful."

Uncle of course was talking about the stuff he made like the Lightray that shows a direct line of light for far distance and is now equipped in many places, especially on strongholds and the newly created airships.

He also designed a machine that drills fast into the soil, something his uncle was extremely thrilled about for the lack of earth benders.

"And don't worry about the cost, a few ten thousand coins is of little consequences now."

The two watched as the men around them finished preparing the experiment. It looked like a crystal ball, not unlike the ones you see with fortune tellers. If one looked closely, they could see metal wires inside the ball. As well as wires that were going to a generator.

The idea of the experiment was simple enough, they will use the generator to cause heat to the thin metal thread inside the ball of glass. The ball itself was a vacuum, or at least it didn't have any flammable gases. By his expectations, the thread should make a light but not burn, there giving a constant light supply until the generator stops working.

It was a fascinating concept really, this electricity. Ever since he overheard his uncle talk about it with the stuff, the inventor in him grew ever more curious. He began searching on his own and even was able to beg his uncle for a look at the literature the prince brought with him on the theme.

Anyway, they watched as the experiment was commencing for the one hundred and eighty sixths time. The generator gave power as a man was spinning the wheel there and the ball of glass was illuminating. After a minute of waiting the ball seemed to stay lit.

The light itself was deem compared to a torch, but it was constant and steady. He was disappointed a little but a look at his uncle told a different story.

"Marvelous, simply marvelous!"

His uncle called.

"It seems like we found the right combination at last! Now I want ten different devices like this prepared for tomorrow, each will have a thinner light thread then the last."

His uncle turned to him now.

"This is great news nephew. After some tinkering, we should be able to make a light source entirely separated from fire. With this we should be able to bring light even to the small villages and make fortune in the progress!"

His uncle put a hand on his shoulder.

"And it's all thanks to you, well done nephew."

"Thanks."

"And it should be ready just in time for the prince's arrival."

"I'm sorry, what?!"

His uncle chuckled as his expression.

"Oh right, I didn't mentioned it. Prince Zuko is due to return here from the south pole in a few days, a day or two after the Beifong delegation actually."

He heard about it, lord Beifong and his uncle were discussing terms for future cooperation. As part of it, Beifong would have met his uncle face to face. Unfortunately, with the need to keep Gaoling stable, Lord Beifong had to stay in his land.

Because of that a delegation containing his wife and daughter was coming here to see the factories. Personally, he thought that politics were involved, but staff like that didn't interest him.

"Now with this out of the way we should prepare for the Beifongs. I want you to leave a good first impression on both of them."

"Uncle!..."

His uncle made it known that he hoped to secure for him a match with the future lady Beifong. No matter how many times he talks with his uncle, the men didn't relent.

At first his uncle thought of maybe having something with the crown princess, but after his trip to the capital he dropped that idea. He claimed that he would never allow his nephew to be tied for such a creature.

A part of him shuddered of imagining just what princess Azula did to cause such a reaction from a pragmatic man like his uncle.

From there, and after discovering that the Beifongs had a daughter, it seemed to have changed sights. A few lettered conversations with prince Zuko only enforced his opinion.

Satoru was very happy that his uncle took such interest in his life, really, but could he please not act as a matchmaker? He was more interested in machines then in girls.

With little option, he followed his uncle.


Zuko and his crew left the south pole with lots of spoils of many kinds, unaware of the changes they caused, nor the chaos they unleashed. Spirits are slow to act, understandable considering their age, but when they do, they do it with force.

The wave of energy that was released from the reboot of the Overlord's Workshop was felt across the world by all who had a deep connection to the word itself.

To the west, two spirits met and hushed concerns about the return of their hunter. One a healer of painted face and one a trader of faces.

To the east, an old guru who waited patiently for the avatar to come to him was deeply disturbed in his meditation, having sensed something he had never seen before.

In the north, two fish encircled each other faster then before and prepared to the inevitable conflict with their foe.

And in the south… the energy wave caused a certain spirit to start awakening from the comma it was forced to enter. It was slow, but in a sun's turn from now the spirit will achieve enough awareness to awake its host, and break from its icy prison.

But the effects weren't felt only in the mortal realm, the spirit world was in disorder as well. Many spirits, well effected by the continues conflict of their mortal counterparts, answered the call of violence that was silenced for over three thousand years.

In the swampy plane, a face stealing centipede was having a mixed reaction of fear and rage. It remembered well the wounds the abomination and its puppets inflicted upon it.

And in the exact middle of the spirit world, in a storm of chaos inside of a tree, the spirit of darkness once again shifted its gaze towards the material plane. A single word uttered from its nonexistent mouth which was heard by all spirits.

"Son…"

AN

Hey, I'm noy dead!

Thank you all for your warm words.

anyway, I had planned to add a segment of Katara's training to mirror Sokka's but decided to cut the chapter here. we'll see that in the next chapter though, as well as the meeting with all the none avatar characters from the original four Gaang.

thinks things of stabilized here, but I will still be very busy in the next few months. I still can't tell when will be my next update.

anyway, please tell me what you think about the chapter, as well as what you think will happen next.