First Arc; Making Friends with a Legend
Who says merc life is easy?
My standard form of writing applies.
" " - Spoken
' ' - Thought(Usually in italics)
( ) - Commentary. The perspective of a lowly mercenary. Quite funny, if you've got a very dry, morbid sense of humor.(PS; Contains 80% Sarcasm, and 20% MSG)
My friends, I, too, am an Avatar fan. It was a show I spent much time watching whenever I spent time with my girlfriend and her little brother, so I have finally decided(Again my better judgement, and the advice of legal councel) to write a fic based in the Avatar(Last airbender, not the wierd-ass movie with the blue people) universe.
As with ALL of my works, this is rated M for insurance. Get used to it.
I DO NOT OWN ANYTHING COPYRIGHTED FROM HERE ONWARD. BEWARE!
#1 First one up. Let's knock some heads, people!
And so... There I was, combatting the most dangerous enemy I had ever faced. "So... We meet again." I stared him down, willing every ounce of anger within my very soul into my glare.
I prepared for combat-
"RED! Quit yer goldbrickin' an' git back ta work!"
"Ah, yes ma'am!"
And so, I began scrubbing again, hoping to rid the world of moldy, caked-on fish paste.
Ah, sorry. I guess that first bit had you going, eh? Well, too bad, mate. I am not facing a deadly adversary, though that might be preferred. For you see, I, am washing dishes. Oh, right. Sorry, you don't know who I am. My name is, Lee. But everyone calls me Red. Probably because I'm always wearing red. And my eyes; they're red, too.(Not from crying, damnit. The irises) But I prefer the phrase crimson. Fits better.
Anyway, I'm a mercenary; Professional soldier. Sellsword. Hireling. Soldier of fortune. Hitman. Muscle. Security. Bodyguard, what have you. Same shit, different name.
As I was saying, I am but a humble mercenary. Hm? You can't see through this thick cloak? Well I'm tall, obviously. Around 5'11. Strong, handsome, skilled, drop-dead sexy, and-
"RED! GET YOUR ASS BACK TO WORK!"
Aye yai yai! How does she always know? Old bat. Well, long story short, I'm a soldier without an army, fighting for the highest bidder. I used to be a solider in the Fire Nation Army, but...
Well. That's a tale for another time. All you need to know is that the sword on my back isn't for looks. It's a battle-forged tool of destruction. A five-foot monster that can cleave a dragon's head clean off in a single stroke.
Said so right in the description, heheh.
Sooo. Why am I, mercenary badass extraordinair, working as a humble busboy in some backwater restaurant? Well...
I can't work for the Fire Nation anymore, not after what happened. And I most certainly don't want to work for them anyway, with the way they're scorching everything they can get to. But I can't work probono, either. And the Earth Kingdom just won't pay for my work unless I join as a regular.
Which gets shit pay, and no benefits. No, thank you.
Water tribes are also a bust. No blood, no join. And since I'm not an eskimo, I'm boned. Don't even get me started on the Air Temples. There's nothing left of those poor bastards, hasn't been for a century. Can't even get to one of 'em unless you can fly.
That leaves rinkidink freelancer groups. Which get slaughtered by the thousands. Nuh-uh.
Y'see, I try for more high profile jobs. Ones that get mucho pesos, a lotta coin. Big bucks. But the local lords already have big-name buff bodyguards, so I'm left in the lurch, scrounging for food.
And I'm right here in this dung heap of a port village until I can figure out a new plan, or at least a new destination. Since this place has no bandit problems, I'm left working odd jobs for a group of pirates just to eat. Hell, the only thing remotely close to being a problem is the pirates themselves, but they've been wonderous people. They brought goods from other places, bartering all sorts of odds and ends.
Even a whistle for skybisen. Though it's not like it would do much good to anyone now. Huh. Now that I mention it, I thought I heard someone just say they'd purchased it. Strange, the worthless crap people will buy.
The only issue with them is that they get especially loud and rowdy at night when they get to drinking, but there's been no violence.
But, that's about it. Some friendly pirates, a local who won't shut up about his cabbages, and absolutely nothing else going on. Now you know what my life is like.
So much for being a badass.
Now switching to Red's(Lee's) Point of view
I glanced at my reflection in the water.
Red eyes, light skin, handsome features. Scar across the throat, the cheek, my right eye. Long, dark hair.
Hm. I'm so pretty, I could almost pass for a girl, if I weren't so damn badass looking, heheh. I look about 17 years old, (but I'm a helluva lot older than I look) I'm a mercenary, and there's a huuuge war going on. I should be happy. Ecstatic! I've got a means to make a great living, and yet I'm stuck here washing dishes. I sigh again, wondering when I'll be able to leave this dead-end hellhole...
Quite suddenly, I hear a commotion outside. Like, LOUD commotion. Hm?
I turn, stepping outside to see what's going on.
There stand three children,(Two teens, one kid) looking decisively frightened, standing off against the entire pirate crew. Huh. Wonder what those idiots've done gotten themselves into?
As I moved a bit closer, drying my hands as I went, something caught my eye. Two of those children were wearing Water Tribe clothes, and that kid, the youngest one... He had a blue arrow tattoo on his head. Strange. Those are-
Airbender tattoos! That means-
Ah... The Avatar. He survived? Wait, he's just a child! How can that be? It's been over a hundred years, that doesn't seem possible.
Before I could come to a decision on what to do, the three kids took off, running as far away from the pirates as they could. Hm. If he's the Avatar, and an Airbender, Then his spirit animal would be a skybison. That explains the whistle. And if they're running in that direction-
Then their bison is in the opposite direction. They wouldn't lead their pursuers straight to camp... Right?
"RED!" The Captain shouted, bringing me from my musings.
"Ah, yeah, boss?" He pays me for odd jobs every now and again, mostly when he needs something that only a 'Land-lubber' such as myself can help with, like modern land army strategy, or non-beach camp assaults. But now? He just calls me when he needs a dirty job done, or when he needs something done right the first time. I just work for the old hag for a slightly more steady source of income.
Shame the prick captain won't hire a 'land-lubber' onto his crew. Says it'd be bad luck. He's just being stingy, if you ask me.
"Get after those thieves!" I gave him a thumbs up, turned and dashed in the opposite direction the kids had ran. I already carried my belongings on me; if what I had in mind came to pass, then I wouldn't need to return.
Now, if I were on the run from the Fire Nation, where would I set up camp? Two of them were from the Wate Tribe, so someplace near water. Freshwater would be preferable for fishing and drinking.
I ran out of town and into the forest, following along the water's edge. Now, there has to be someplace within two miles where the water enters the sea.
Where, oh where.
It took eight minutes to find a smaller river, and I started following it upstream. Now it's merely a matter of time. Hm? I came to the rough, sheer face of a cliff, at least a good eighty feet up. Above my head, I could hear another, larger waterfall.
Lovely. up we go.
"Ngh. Angh. Agh, ah..." I laid hand on the top, and began pulling my heavy ass up. Eesh, I can barely afford to feed myself and I still haven't lost any weight.
Man, that is some fucked up shit.
I finally got high enough and swung a leg up, rolling myself up onto the top. Up ahead was a massive pool of water at the base of a waterfall. A small clearing nearby had three bedrolls on it, suggesting someone used this place for a campsite. However, the real giveaway was the gigantic, fuzzy monster lounging in the water. Huh. Wish I could say I haven't seen wierder shit in my time, but I have.
I slowly approached the beast, idly wondering if it had sharp teeth. I haven't heard much about them, except they can fly and are commonly associated with the Air Nomads, not to mention the past Avatars.
No more than twenty paces, and the monster flipped itself, roaring as it glared at me.
Ow, ears are ringing. "Whoa, whoa. Easy, mate. I mean you no harm."
It continued growling, slowly advancing on me. Not good. Now how to deal with large animals? Show no fear, but do not provoke them.
I stood my ground, hands kept in plain sight.
"Easy, fluffy... Your friends are in trouble. I'm just trying to help."
I don't know if the creature understood english, but it stopped, giving me a closer inspection before moving closer, and it started- Sniffing me?
Closely followed by licking me from toe-to-bandana. Yuck
"Eugh. Thanks. Needed a bath anyway," I grumbled, rubbing the beast's head. Great, now I'm covered in bison-drool.
Lovely way to start my day.
After a quick dip in the water, followed by my use of an ancient technique passed down for centuries on how to dry clothes instantly, I went over to the small campsite, rolling and lifting the bedrolls, tossing them up onto the herbivore's saddle.(Hey, interesting fact. It had large, wide, flat teeth; common trait of grass-eaters)
With deft precision, I hopped up onto said saddle, moving towards the end where its head was. "Alright, I don't suppose you would happen to be able to track the Avatar? 'Cuz as far as I know, they were in town and it'd be mighty nice if you could-"
Something rustled in the nearby bushes, catching my immediate attention. "Shit, search party's here already." I hopped down, drawing my blade, quickly scanning the area for some sort of cover. Fighting those pirates in the open is NOT an option at this point.
Before I could see anything useful, something started coming out of those bushes.
"...To look up to pirates, but those guys are just terrible." A young boy's voice remarked, just as a bald young boy wearing orange and yellow stepped out of the forest, a staff in his hand.
"I know, which is why I-" A decidedly feminine voice responded, before she was interrupted by a young but faintly masculine voice interrupted.
"Look out! One of those pirates!" Points for effort, but his voice cracked. Huh.
A young man with a dark tan and a ponytail stepped in front of a girl with similar skin tone, pulling a club from a sort of satchel in his back. The girl took a crude stance with one hand on a water skin, but the youngest one? He looked thoughtful.
"Easy, kid, stand down. I mean you no harm." Planting my sword in the ground, I splayed my hands in a non-threatening gesture.
"No way. You're wearing Fire Nation robes." Huh. He was definately Water Tribe, but not from the North. His clothing and weapon were different. Southern Water Tribe, perhaps? And he recognized that my robes are Fire Nation-made. He's smarter than he looks.(Though he looks pretty stupid, so that's not saying much)
"That they are, but I've no affiliation with the Fire Nation military, nor the Firelord."
"We can't trust him..." The girl commented, loosening the cork on that water skin. She must be a waterbender. Judging from her crude stance, she is self-taught.
"We can." For the second time, the youngest boy spoke, walking towards me.
"What?! How can we?! He's-"
Before the dork could get further he was interrupted by the young Airbender. "Appa trusted him. If he meant us harm, Appa would've attacked him and flown off by now. Look." He pointed towards the skybison's saddle. "He even placed our belongings on his saddle. If this man was a thief, he would've tried to make off with them, and if he were with the pirates or the Fire Nation, he would've attacked already."
I smiled, bringing my hands together as I bowed. "You show great wisdom, Avatar. It is an honor to meet you." As I straightened, I saw the boy returning my bow, as the other two looked surprised.
"How-?" The older boy started, blinking.
"He is an airbender, judging by those tattoos, and he is accompanied by a skybison, the spirit animal of the Airbenders. Neither of which has been seen in nearly a hundred years, since the beginning of the war. And since the current Avatar is an Airbender, it's a relatively easy deduction."
The Avatar grinned. "It seems I'm not the only one who shows great wisdom. I'm Aang, and these two are my friends. Katara," The girl nodded, now slightly more relaxed. "And Sokka, her brother." The boy, Sokka, adopted the expression of a platapus-bear sitting on a thistle. Huh.
"My name is Lee, though most everyone just calls me Red. Judging from your clothing, you two are from the Water Tribe. Southern, if I'm not mistaken. Miss Katara, are you by chance a Waterbender?" She looked surprised, but nodded. "I thought you were. You taught yourself, didn't you?"
Again her eyes widened, but she nodded. "Yes. I'm the last waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe. I had no one to teach me, so I taught myself."
I offered a kind smile. "Very impressive. Learning bending without a teacher is a great feat, indeed. I've encountered several Waterbenders from the Nothern Tribe in my travels; would you like to hear what I've seen?" She beamed, nodding excitedly.
"Very well. However, could we move to a more secure location, first? Whatever you three did has really pissed off the pirates' captain. Just what did you do, anyway?" Aang and Sokka both shrugged, whereas the girl took on a devilish grin.
And reached into one of her sleeves, pulling out a scroll. "Nothing much... Just relieved them of this." I blinked. Aha, so she nicked that old waterbending scroll. No wonder the skipper had steam coming out his ears.
I smirked at that thought. "Heh, well that explains a few things. We'd better get moving." Turning, I took no more then three steps before Sokka called after me.
"Wait. Not until you tell us why you're wearing those robes." Ah, that brat.
I looked back, quirking an eyebrow. "I used to be a soldier in the Fire Nation army, before a disagreement with my commanding officer lead to my immediate dismissal and execution. As you can see... They failed." Turning back, I hopped up onto Appa's back, climbing into the saddle and sheathing my sword.
The three of them shrugged, before joining me, as Aang called out, "Yip yip!"
And the skybison took off into the air.
Hm. For my first time flying, I'm just happy I'm not puking my guts up. Sitting here waiting for Aang to set us down at a less accessible location, Sokka pestered me with questions.
"Just what 'disagreement' did you have?"
"Hm? Oh. I refused to kill civillians, as I don't believe in a scortched-earth policy during war. I ordered my men to stand down and allowing those who were fleeing to escape, and cut down anyone under my command who looted, pillaged, or raped the citizens during our advance. I was just a young lieutenant at the time, and my general had been disgraced, before being replaced by some uppity punk who thought that if you weren't born in the Fire Nation, you didn't have any rights as a human being." I reached up, tapping the scar across my throat. "They attempted to behead me. Unfortunately for them, they failed. I escaped the Fire Nation some three years ago, and have been a wandering mercenary ever since."
Sokka tilted his head, looking more and more like a duck-billed ferret. "But why help us? If you're anywhere near the Avatar, you'll attract more attention to yourself and bring the Fire Nation's might down on your head. They're actively looking for us already."
I nodded, understanding his reasoning. "I've no love for the corrupt Firelord, nor his warmongering generals. The way I see things, the Avatar is the world's greatest chance of ending this war with minimal bloodshed. And I'll be damned if I'm going to send a child to fight an army if I don't have the balls to help him do it."
He blinked, still staring at me. More particularly, my scars. Although, the girl was also staring. "You said you encountered waterbenders... You mean you fought them as a soldier." Katara accused, her eyes narrowing into dangerous slits.
I shook my head. "No. I fought on the Earth Nation front under the Dragon of the West. I hadn't even met a Waterbender until I got tossed into the sea during a storm. It was a Waterbender who dredged my sorry ass outta the water. She mended my injuries, and we traveled together for a short while." I looked up, remembering that beauty's face. Ah... I still miss her.
"What happened?" The girl asked, looking more apprehensive than before.
"We ran into a Fire Nation ambush. We were both captured and detained at their camp, separately. By the time I escaped, they'd already had their way with her and burned every inch of her flesh. With her last breath, she begged me to end her life."
Both Water Tribe members looked appalled and tearful. "Why- Why would they do that?"
"I honestly do not know. But to this day, that entire stretch of land is nothing but charcoal." With bitter resentment in my heart, I didn't notice my slight slip of the tongue. That memory hurts so much inside, as if my heart is being crushed within my chest. Not a single one of those motherfuckers lived to see dawn, not one.
"...It was burned to ashes?"
Hm? "Yes, nothing was left." What was he- Oh. Ohhh, shit. I just had to go and open my big damn mouth.
"How did you do that?" His face was scrunched up with suspicion. Damn, the older boy is quick on the uptake.
Quick, think of something! "Blasting jelly. There was a depot of the stuff, and no one noticed when I mixed it into the food. One spark, such as when someone heated up his own meal with firebending, and Boom. Even with an entire company of soldiers, there wasn't enough left of them to fill a bucket."
Sokka shivered at the ice in my voice, just as Aang called back to us, "Hey! I've found a place where we can practice!"
Sweet, interogation's over.
We set down at a spot much further up the river, climbing down and setting up a small camp along the riverside. I removed my pack, dropping it and my baldric near where the others did.
Kinda felt naked without it, but it was overtop of my robes, and it was mighty warm out, regardless.
"Could you help us figure this out, Red? And Sokka, would you mind fetching some firewood?" Katara asked, dropping her bedroll and opening that scroll of hers, strolling towards the river.
Sokka started grumbling, heading in the direction of the nearest trees. I shrugged, moving over to the pair of benders.
"Is there anything you'd like to know?" I'm trying to be polite, at the very least.
"Yeah, do you recognize any of these forms?" She held up the scroll, turning it so I could read what was on it.
Hm. Water whip, octopus, ice shield, and wave riding. "Some of them, though I've more experience with the healing arts of waterbending than the martial aspect. Before you learn new techniques, I would advise you to perfect your current form, first."
She frowned, tilting her head. "What do you mean?"
"Your stance is weak, showing your lack of discipline, and your form is crude, which tells me you had no formal teacher. Show me your stance, and we'll go from there." She blinked, but switched into her combat stance.
Man, she really is just a backwater eskimo. Ah, well. Guess we'll start from scratch. "Hmm. Aang, do you see what I see?" The young Avatar blinked, tilting his head as he looked over Katara's body.
I swear I saw her shiver, but she said nothing. "Um... No? What do you see?"
"Weakness, anxiety, and tenacity. That last one is good, but the other two need to go. Katara, remain still." I moved behind her, gripping her shoulders. "Lean further forward, towards your opponent. You mustn't lean away from them, lest you telegraph fear." I stuck my foot between hers, kicking them apart. "Widen your stance, and bend your knees. This will give you a more stable platform, and make it more difficult for your enemy to knock you down. Turn your body just slightly, to present your opponent with a smaller target. Now, the principle of waterbending is fluidity; flow with each and every attack, and remain open-minded to everything going on around you. Waterbending is the most versatile of the four elements, allowing for many different uses. So long as you yet breathe, you'll always have access to water."
I moved back around her, taking another look at her form. Much better now, but far from perfect. Now all that remained was for her to accumulate experience to figure the rest out on her own.
"Is there anything you can tell me about the other elements?"
I turned, facing the young boy who asked me that question. He couldn't be a day over thirteen. The Avatar, and he wants my help on bending? Geeze. I guess he hadn't had the time to master the elements, somehow. It's been what, a hundred years? Eesh, can't wait to hear that excuse.
"You've mastered airbending, I hope. I've no information on them. You heard my take on waterbending already. Earthbending revolves around stalwart resolve, to be as unbending and unforgiving as the stone you move. Pure pigheadedness and strength of will. Firebending... Is based on emotion, and self-control. One must be able to keep their temper in check, otherwise you're liable to accidentally burn yourself or others. When firebending, anger should be a catalyst, but never your drive." That about sums it up. Condensed, of course.
Aang, frowned, tilting his head. "Huh."
"Now I have a question for you, Aang. Why is the Avatar asking a non-bender for bending advice?"
He looked somewhat sheepish, but responded honestly. "For the last hundred years, I've been encased in an iceberg. When I woke up, I found out that the Fire Nation has been waging war on the world, and that I have to master all four elements by the end of summer."
I blinked owlishly. Eh? "Summer's end? Why such a tight time limit?" Summer? Why then?
"That's when Sozin's comet returns." Sozin's-
"...You know it, then."
Damn, kid's perceptive. "Aye, the excuse Ozai's grandfather used to start the war. As far as I've heard, it magnifies the power of every Firebender tenfold. Something like that would mean the complete destruction of both the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribe. Most troubling."
Agh. What to do, what to do, damnit. "I don't know anything more of it, I'm sorry to say. It just means we'll have to train hard and plan thoroughly." For now, nothing.
"Hey," Sokka. He's finally back with firewood, I suppose. I turned to face him. "Why do you still wear those robes if you're no longer with the Fire Nation?"
Hm? "They're made from the fur of the fire rat, and are nearly impervious to flames. It's stronger than most conventional armor, as well. I saw no reason to discard a valuable piece of equipment that saved my ass countless times out of sheer pride and arrogance. If your enemy gives you an advantage, you take it and make it your own." A wise piece of advice, whether they realised it or not.
"Fire rat? Never heard of it." All three of them shrugged, looking baffled.
"They were prevelant a few centuries past, and were hunted to extinction along with the dragons. This robe once belonged to a noble, whose home I, ah, took a shortcut through during my escape. I happened along these by accident when I hid in his wife's closet."
There was a strange silence for a few moments.
"...In her closet?"
I blinked. "Yes. I owed her a favor or two, and she sent the soldiers to search elsewhere, saying that a criminal wouldn't dare to desecrate her personal belongings. Heh, not that that stopped me from desecrating the personal parts of her person, when she called in that favor. Heheheh." I smirked fondly at that memory, idly wondering how she and her husband are getting along now. She's probably still dissatisfied, yearning for a young lover who will hold and cherish her. Hm. I wonder how her daughter is doing. What was her name? Mei, Mel, Mai... Something with an M. Gloomy little brat.
Sokka's jaw dropped. "You WHAT?!"
"Thank you, I was only partially deaf before, but now it's completely gone. Thanks for that. Ahem. She helped me on a few previous occasions, and was a good friend. I spent some time as her personal guard, and we grew, ah, close. When she heard about my execution and escape, she left her window open that night, giving me the opportunity to slip in and hide from my pursuers. Then she called in the favor I owed her, and threw me down upon her bed. I'm certain you can figure out what happened from there, but I can give a rather detailed recollection, if you'd prefer." My snarky sense of humor and deadpan delivery probably astounded the young man, judging by the perverted gleam in his eyes.
"Yes, please!" Both he and- And the Avatar announced, much to the girl's chagrin.
"NO! We're fine without a play-by-play, thank you!" I chuckled at her indignant blush, oddly reminded of Nao's first reaction when I complimented her form in the bath. Heheheh, but she recovered quickly, daring me to join her. I don't think she expected me to actually follow through on that order, however.
The surprised look on her beautiful, blushing face was just priceless.
"Very well. Another time, perhaps, eh guys?" Cue two preverted grins, and one very annoyed, blushing eskimo girl.
Heheh, this might turn out to be fun after all.
If you can find the Inuyasha refrence in this chapter, kudos to you.
There is also a stealth Mass Effect shout-out in here, too, for my die-hard ME fans, particularly those who have read my ME fic.
Now, I am currently SWAMPED by other things, and I only posted this because I had three chapters already done, so I'm posting this just to see if y'all would like it. Don't expect it to get updated very often, I'm sorry. My Mass Effect fic has top priority, closely followed by my Resident Evil REwrite and Naruto fics.
I hereby apologize in advance for the slowness of updates for this story.