A/N: I wrote out most of this already because I have this fear that I won't finish and leave all you wonderful readers hanging. Which would be awful. But then I thought, wouldn't I be more motivated if I had people reviewing and such? Maybe they'd help me flesh out my ideas for the end, too. So here it is. If you like it please please PLEASE review.
A/N 2: In this world all the characters are aged up a few years. Katara is also not a waterbending master- yet- because she never left the South Pole to learn with Aang. She still has the warrior's spirit though!
Katara had never expected to see the fall of black snow again.
How could she? The South Pole was decimated, the men gone, and the Fire Nation believed her deceased mother to have been the last waterbender. There was no reason for the iron hulls to smash through the edge of her glacier, or for the bows to detach with their metallic hiss and crush through the snowy walls of her home. No reason at all.
And yet she watched in horror as her dear brother, the only older male left in the village, charged forward against the ceaseless tide of armored soldiers. He hadn't received proper training, so most of his blows failed to connect and the firestorm he was faced with easily pushed him back. "Sokka, there's too many of them!" Katara cried, but he continued to stubbornly swing his spear anyway.
"I have to protect the village!" Sokka yelled back over his shoulder. His moment of shifted focus was all it took for a soldier to sweep his feet and knock him unconscious.
"Sokka!" Katara screamed, rushing forward. Simultaneously a boot stomped down on her brother's head, and a different large hand grabbed her wrist.
"That your boyfriend, girly?" sneered a voice beneath a white mask. Katara struggled wildly, flailing and scratching to get free. But her nails only connected with armor plating, making a painful screeching noise as they raked down.
"Let us go!" she demanded, fiercely knocking her arm against the man's chest. A hollow clang sounded, and white pain reverberated up her arm. Katara bit her lip, hot tears welling up in her eyes.
"Yes, do let her go," another voice sounded. The man gave Katara one last shake and then pushed her roughly away. She stumbled, clutching at her bruised wrist. "That's no way to treat our honored hostess, hmm?"
Katara looked up to meet the man's cold gaze. He was tall and bulky, with enormous sideburns protruding from his unmasked face. Somehow, she didn't think he was giving her a respite.
He stalked up to her, his powerful form towering menacingly above her. "I'm going to ask you this once, peasant girl. Where is the Avatar?" he demanded. Katara squinted up at him, uncomprehending.
"The what?" she asked incredulously. Surely he hadn't invaded her village for something so ridiculous. Nobody had seen the Avatar, or his cyclic embodiment the Airbenders, for over a hundred years. Not that he didn't still exist out there somewhere. But certainly the Water Tribe wouldn't be hiding him.
"You heard me, girl," he sneered. He gestured to the man standing on Sokka's head. The man nodded, then stepped back into a bending stance, aiming his fists pointedly in Sokka's direction.
"Wait!" Katara cried desperately. The sideburned man cocked his head expectantly. "I don't know where the Avatar is!" Her interrogator's face hardened. He didn't speak, only shot a pointed gaze to the soldier standing over Sokka. A flame burst around the man's fist, which he inched closer and closer to her brother's face. "Please, stop! We don't know anything!" Flames were licking impossibly close to Sokka's cheek. "Please!" she begged. "Please!" she screamed.
After a few beats, the first man flicked his wrist with a sigh. The flame near Sokka's face extinguished, and Katara felt her knees give out with relief. The snow crunched beneath her as she folded down in a slow collapse.
"I suppose this is another bust, eh, Admiral Zhao?" asked on of the soldiers.
The first man, who she supposed was Admiral Zhao, dropped his head in his hand. The other hand released a roaring fireball in the soldier's direction, which he fumbled to dodge. "Shut up, Lee!" the Admiral grunted through gritted teeth. He pulled his head up to scan around. Something was different in his gaze now, as if his purpose had shifted. Seeing nothing but primitive tents and barren tundra, his eyes dropped back down to Katara.
"Peasant, do you have any-" he started, but stopped. A smiled crept over his face, cold eyes running slowly down her body. Katara yelped to see his expression, and dropped back on her butt, covering her chest with her arms. Zhao was having none of it. He yanked her to her feet roughly, and ripped the fabric of her coat in half.
Katara shivered to have her skin exposed to the freezing Arctic air, but more than that she shivered to be exposed to the awful, calculating eyes running over her breast bindings.
"It's hard to tell under all those bulky furs, but you do have a figure on you, don't you, little peasant girl?" Zhao laughed coldly. Katara wrenched her arms this way and that, but Zhao's grip was iron. Desperately she brought his fingers to her teeth, gnawing ungracefully. Zhao yanked his hand, and her arms, away and above her head.
"A fighter too! The Fire Lord will love that," Zhao commented smugly. He tugged her close, his breath nauseatingly hot against her ear. "He likes to break his girls in."
Katara's eyes widened and she yanked herself away with all her strength. Zhao laughed again, releasing her arms so that she lost her balance and tumbled back into the snow. "Someone get her chained up. We're going home," he ordered. Before she knew it shackles had clicked around her wrists, and she was tossed over an armored shoulder. She writhed and screamed, but the villagers could only watch helplessly. Just as the bow of the ship started to rise she saw Sokka's eyes blink open. The look of failure and sorrow that flashed across his face as their gazes met shattered her heart into a million pieces. Then, the metal steadily ascended to block her view and finally eclipsed her in total darkness.