A small caravan of colonists, whose homes had been taken by the War, moved through a small wasteland. They had no military escort, no warriors, not even one Earthbender from their King to defend them. It was just, "we're taking your homes to fight the Fire Nation, get your stuff and get out."
In one storage wagon, carrying hay for the animals dragging the people and their belongings rested a young, pale, black haired woman. With her hands resting behind her head, eyes closed and legs resting on a crate in front of her, the young woman yawned loudly before waking up. The bumps in the road and soft chattering of people outside was more than enough to tell her that they still hadn't gotten to another settlement. She sighed, blowing the tips of her bangs up a bit.
"Time for me get off this joyride." The young woman opened her eyes, which were a faded jade green. The blind girl pressed her hand on the bottom of the wagon's cabin and slowly navigated herself towards the exit. Once she found it she jumped out of the wagon, planting her bare feet on the ground. The young woman stretched her arms high above her head, and balled up her toes against the dirt trail. "Ah, much better."
"Oh crap…" A man riding an Ostrich Horse approached the now nervous young woman.
"Where'd you come from?"
"Oh, I'm sorry sir. I didn't steal anything, promise. It's just…my home was destroyed by the Fire Nation and…well I've been wandering around ever since then." The man leaned forward, noticing the young woman's eyes.
"My goodness…you can't even see can you?" The young woman shook her head, moving her nonfunctional eyes to the ground in shame. "You can ride with us until we get to the next town. What's your name?"
"I'm Toph, and thank you for letting me ride along with you."
"It's no problem." The man jumped down from his Ostrich Horse, holding onto the reigns before he took the young girl's hand. Toph scowled a bit in annoyance. She always hated when people took her hand to help her without even asking.
"So…where are you guys headed," Toph asked curiously.
"The Earth Kingdom Capital, Ba Sing Se." Toph's hand immediately shot back, with the girl herself taking several steps back. The man turned around in bewilderment, looking at the blind girl in confusion. "What's wrong?"
"I can't go to Ba Sing Se, sorry, thanks for the offer though!" Toph turned around and started running away from the man and the caravan.
"Wait you—she's a draft dodger!"
'SHIT,' Toph mentally screamed to herself. She felt the heavy, approaching footsteps of more Ostrich Horses coming her way. "Stupid bounty, stupid, stupid, STUPID!" Toph suddenly came grinding to a halt, feeling even heavier footsteps coming up ahead of her. "Oh you're joking…" The pursuing colonists stopped in their tracks and turned around, screaming at the others to run.
"It's the Rough Rhinos!"
Toph sighed to herself and took a quick stance, one arm extended down while the other was bent up.
The Rough Rhinos continued forward, moving right past Toph. The blind girl stood firm for a moment until the dust around her settled. Toph let out a huge sigh of relief. Thankfully they were only interested in the supplies that those people had.
"Sorry everyone," Toph said as she started to walk away casually, "Survival and all that." After a few steps, Toph stopped in her tracks. She focused on the vibrations her feet were picking up, her eyes narrowing in skepticism. "It couldn't be…"
Columns of earth shot up, causing the Komodo Rhinos to break formation. One boy with black hair pulled back into a ponytail jumped forward, tackling one of the Rough Rhinos off of their mount and punching him in the face. The archer of the group fired an arrow in the young man's direction as he shot forward.
Toph continued to feel the noticeable vibrations in the ground, a look of confusion on her face. "An Earthbender out here? What're the odds?" Toph tilted her head to the side, taking herself into consideration, and then shrugged, "Stupid question."
The young man slammed his foot into the ground and shot his right arm upward, launching a disc of earth into one of the riders. He snapped his head to the side as the archer fired another bow at him. Slamming his other foot into the ground, he rose a wall of earth up which shielded himself from the flaming arrow. He spun around, screaming loudly as he slammed his palm into the wall, sending a chunk of rock towards the archer, which connected with the rider.
Next, one of the riders threw a stick of dynamite at the young Earthbender. The boy spun around, crouched down, and then sprung his whole body in an upward motion, standing with only one leg on the ground. A pillar of earth rocketed up from the ground, hitting the dynamite and launching it into the air where it exploded harmlessly. The boy spun around and slammed his fist into the ground with a furious cry. The ground below the Rough Rhino and his mount opened up into a pit, which the two fell into.
The last rider, a Firebender no less, launched a streak of fire at the young Earthbender. The boy quickly ducked and rolled behind one of the columns he raised up earlier while the leader of the Rough Rhinos continued pressing with the streak of fire. The boy stood up and used the earth to rocket himself into the air. He reached the top of the column he raised earlier and kicked it with both feet, breaking the top of it. The earth pillar slowly inched forward and fell, threatening to crush the Firebender. The man looked up and gasped, quickly pulling his mount to the side as the chunk of rock hit the ground.
The young Earthbender landed on the ground, squaring off against the Firebender. Before either could attack, a slab of rock came and sidelined the Firebender, knocking him off his horse. The unconscious man was pinned under the heavy earth. The young Earthbender slowly looked to the side, seeing a bored looking blind girl with her arm outstretched and her fist clenched.
"Um…thank you," the boy called out.
"Helpful tip?" Toph lifted her foot up and then slammed it into the ground. The young man looked to the side, seeing the demolition expert trying to climb out of the pit he made. Before he could pull himself out, a piece of earth shot out from the edge of the pit, slamming into his chest hard and throwing him back down to the bottom. "Holes in the ground don't do much except delay the bad guys."
"I know that, thanks," the young boy stated with a bit of an annoyed tone. "I was actually going to deal with him after I dealt with the more pressing opponent."
"More pressing? A guy throwing bombs at you isn't pressing at all?"
The young man crossed his arms, leaning back a bit as he narrowed his eyes, "Not as pressing as the guy shooting fire at me."
"Burns and being blown into tiny bits, hmm, I wonder which is worse?"
"You know your sarcasm really brings out the assery in your tone."
"How about a nice thank you for saving my life?"
"You didn't save anything! I took care of the Rough Rhinos while you ran away from a group of men who wanted to turn in a draft dodger and get some money." The boy paused and looked over to the pit he created. He pointed a finger at the hole in the ground and turned back to Toph, "And that guy didn't even have a bomb yet."
"Spirits, you whine a lot, you know that?"
The young man shook his head and laughed in disbelief, "You always so confrontational with people you just met? Or does being a smart-ass come naturally to you?"
"You'd be surprised," Toph replied with a dull tone in her voice. "By the way, while you were fighting, the convoy left."
The young man quickly snapped his head around, a look of dread on his face as the young woman's words were confirmed. He groaned and hung his head before turning back to his blind opponent, "Well great. There goes my ride."
"Where did you even come from anyway," Toph asked, putting her hands on her hips.
"I was a stowaway, same as you. I figured that if I fought off the bad guys then maybe they'd be a little grateful and give me some supplies."
"Yeah right, draft dodgers are hated about as much as the Fire Nation," Toph replied with a soft huff.
"I've long since come to realize," the boy stated. He sighed heavily before walking forward. Toph narrowed her eyes skeptically, tensing up a bit. "Well…care to stick together? I mean life is hard in the Earth Kingdom for draft dodgers like us."
"No thanks," Toph replied immediately. The blind girl shoved the young Earthbender out of the way and started walking away. The sound of a loud thud was heard, and before Toph could react, something caught her foot. The young woman cried out before she fell flat on her face in the dirt.
Toph slowly lifted her head up. She could feel her feel her fellow draft dodger's body shaking slightly as he tried to contain his laughter.
"You," the blind girl began slowly, her tone dripping with venom, "are DEAD!"
Toph lifted herself off of the ground, holding in her hands two large chunks of earth. She spun around, the tips of her toes connected to the ground, and shot both rocks at the young boy. The boy bent backwards, watching as the two chunks of earth passed by his face. He planted his hands on the ground and flipped back onto his feet, crouched to the ground. Toph's whole body moved in one fluid motion towards the ground. She screamed and punched the earth with all her might, creating a thunderous sound. The boy looked down and quickly crossed his arms over his chest as a solid pillar of earth came up and slammed into him. The impact sent the boy flying back and slammed into the ground hard.
"Ow," the young man groaned with a very weak wheeze.
"Toph one, Man-Boy zero." The boy lifted his head up, one eye closed as he strained himself in pain.
The young man sat up and growled angrily before his face was suddenly stricken with shock. "No…way. You…you're the Blind Bandit aren't you!" The blind Earthbender's shoulders slumped over as she groaned. "Oh don't act so surprised. You were famous in the underground Earthbending Tournaments as the Blind Bandit."
"Wait…" Toph raised her head, a look of genuine curiosity on her face, "You watched the Earthbending Tournaments in Gaoling?"
"I use to visit every year to watch the Earthbending Tournaments. I was there at Earth Rumble VI when you took down every contender single handedly." The boy groaned as he rose up to his feet and dusted himself off, "I'm surprised I didn't recognize you sooner."
"Well I've…changed my appearance since then." Toph blew up, causing her bangs to temporarily dance a little. She pointed her finger to them, "I didn't have these hanging in my face."
"And as the blind bandit you had a ponytail," the boy added. "Now it's just one large…bun like…thing."
Toph put a hand on her hip, leaned to one side and sighed. "Okay, fine. I guess you can tag along with me. But only because we're draft dodgers!"
"And it has nothing to do with me being a fan," the boy added smugly, "Right."
"No, I just need a punching bag, and you fit the role quite nicely."
"Yeah, yeah, you got lucky that time. We're keeping score from now on."
Toph threw her head back and laughed as she started walking alongside her new partner, "Gladly Man-Boy. I didn't know you were such a glutton for punishment!"
"I have a name you know."
"And you haven't told me it yet. So until then, you're Man-Boy."
"My name is Kegare." There was a pause as the two Earthbenders continued to walk through the wastelands.
"I prefer Man-Boy." Kegare groaned, slapping the palm of his hand to his forehead.
"This is gonna be a long trip if I've ever been on one…"
"Quit your bitching, you'll be fine Man-Boy."
"You make a habit of swearing a lot," Kegare questioned. Toph shrugged in response, keeping her eyes closed. The male Earthbender sighed and rolled his eyes, 'This is going to be an active trip…'
And here begins my first Avatar: the Last Airbender fic. Good night I'm giving myself too much on my 'to-do list.' I'm also kinda if-ish about this beginning. But, oh well, I've been wanting to post this story for awhile now lol.
To those of you who are confused so far about what's going on with the state of the world, and the progress of the War: don't worry, I'll explain it in later chapters. The whole plot progression actually being progressive and all that noise.
I was thinking about having chapter one be a long explanation about how the War started and all that, but then remembered the GIANT walls of text I had on the first chapter of Wrath of Fire (Naruto AU story). So instead, you'll learn about the AU goodness as the story goes. Gives it like a hint of mysterious doesn't it? I haven't done that (not have the storyline laid out in front of everyone that is) before, so FUN!
Basic summary: Toph centric AU story, a few OCs, (won't be beating you over the head with OCs out the wazoo, just enough to kind of balance out things), lots of familiar characters with new roles in the story, and a new storyline with lots of familiar stuff and junk. The Team will have mostly different members from Team Avatar, so that'll be fun hopefully. Beginning of the story may seem a bit rushed, but that's just to get things going. I still have room for one more potential member, which I'm currently pondering over how fun it'll be to have a specific canon character in the Team. I'm up for any suggestions the fans might have though, be it OC or canon characters.