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After splitting apart from the traveling nomads, Team Avatar continued up the mountainside, guided by Sokka's map. Appa was still tired from flying so they had to hike up the side. Ty Lee, happy and giddy as ever, was in the lead trying to get to the top. Momo was happily enjoying the ride, as the group accepted their new pet quickly, thanks to Aang and Ty Lee.
"Come on, slowpokers!" Ty Lee called.
"I see someone's enjoying herself (looks at the map) Omashu should be just up ahead." Sokka announced. This made Ty Lee even more excited, rushing up to the top at a quick pace...but then she stopped and stared, kind of surprising everyone. Ty Lee's mood quickly changed to despair as the others caught up with her...now they could see just what she found.
"Oh no." Aang sighed. They looked out on the city of Omashu. The city stood slanted and coned on top of one of the mountains. But this city wasn't looking friendly. They found a city fully encased in metal, smoke stacks coming out as if it was on a volcano and the all too familiar Fire Nation banner showing the ruling under Ozai. Sokka looked over his map again to make sure it was the same place...indeed it was.
"Looks like were not the first to visit," Katara sighed.
"Yeah. We can't go in. Come on, maybe there's somewhere else we can stop," Sokka suggested. He, Katara, and Ty Lee began to go, but Aang still stared off at Omashu.
"You coming, Aang?" Katara asked. Aang didn't reply at first, feeling sad for this Earth Kingdom city being invaded. Aang did eventually walked back, but instead of going on Appa's saddle, he went up and grabbed something before heading off. His air staff. He had this for a long time since his frozen imprison and didn't think on using it...until now.
"Aang? What are you doing? Don't get any ideas," Sokka said.
"Sokka. I know what your gonna say but it's not gonna happen."
"Aang, let's go. The city's taken over, what can we do?" Aang looked to Sokka with a disappointed and determined look.
"I'm the Avatar. I'm not going to stand by and watch the Fire Nation take over. This town needs to be saved," Aang explained. Normally Sokka would retaliate but the look on Aang's face told him that he was not going to change his mind at all no matter what he said. Aang could tell that Sokka didn't want to go in as well. Momo, though, flew over to him, a bit eager himself.
"You guys do what you want. I'm saving Omashu." Before anyone could stop him, Aang opened his glider and took off, leaving the others behind.
Aang did slightly manage to get himself inside, but was hardly able to venture out. As Aang was looking around the city, trying to remain hidden, he could easily see the overall effect of the Fire Nation here. The city looked more like a prison than anything, Earth Kingdom inhabitants slaved by Fire Nation soldiers. Indeed, Aang was both shocked and disgusted with the Fire Nation's behavior after 100 years. Aang kept down low, doing pretty well at not getting caught by any suspicious soldiers. He was doing very good at the evading part, but he didn't know how to help the others out. After all, it was one kid again an entire colony and he hardly knew waterbending, so what was an Avatar to do? He suddenly stopped completely once some of the guards began to stop and focus on one person. Aang saw a middle-aged man walk out, supposedly the governor of the area. Also there was a teenaged girl that got out as well, blank faced and bored as she walked by the governor's side.
"Any trouble so far, general?" the governor asked.
"No, sir. No reports today."
"Good. I have a report to make out to the guards. Rumor's going around that the Avatar is still alive after the 100 years of absence (shows the general Aang's wanted poster). Resources tell us that he's heading north and will have to pass through here to do so. So keep a sharp eye out, understand?"
"Yes, sir." The general went back to his post as the governor and the teenager walked by. Aang couldn't believe it; this rumor of his existence was spreading like wildfire all over the place. And so soon after Zuko found him too.
"It's so boring here. Do I have to stay?" the teenager asked.
"Mai, don't begin complaining again. You should be proud to take over Omashu. Now come on." The governor sighed. Aang especially got scared when the teenager glanced his way. Luckily she didn't see him. He remained out of sight until the coast was clear and continued off.
"Oh Raava. This news is spreading fast. I have to stay on my toes here," Aang thought. He kept on trying to remain hidden for a while longer. Then he found a way to navigate. A sewer pipe.
"Not the cleanest. But the best," Aang thought out loud as he quickly got in before he was seen...at least he thought so. Aang traveled through the sewer until he was deeper into the city. Aang assumed he was safe so he poked his head out to make sure...only to find the guards spotting him.
"Uh oh." Aang quickly got back in, but suddenly he felt a small cut graze his head just before he went out of sight. He felt his head, finding the cut bleeding, but he hardly had time to check that as the guards were after him! As he cut a corner though, suddenly a hand grabbed him and pulled him back. Aang panicked, but calmed down slightly as the guards ran past. Aang was let go by who had him.
"Ssshhh...I'm a friend." Aang took a minute to adjust his eyes and saw his savior...Aurora!
"Aurora?...but how did you get here?"
"I've been following you Aang. Ever since you've been released."
"I'm trying to protect you. A close friend of mine had given me the responsibility...and I'm still keeping it." Aang was rather speechless upon the news. Aurora was sent to protect him...but who would give it that order?...
"Aurora...I-" before this could continue, those same soldiers had suddenly found them both! Aurora and Aang froze as they aimed their spears at them. Aang was surprised that they didn't seem to notice Aurora, only aiming at him. The Air Nomad didn't know what to do...but something else was starting to happen.
As Aang felt like running, a strange, pain-filled moaning, began to fill the sewer pipe. Aang turned back, the sound coming from behind him! The other guards were feeling rather nervous as the moaning became more and more audible. Figures suddenly appeared from the darkened tunnel, moaning in grave illness. The guards took off as soon as the vision was shown: three people covered in red dots. Aang remained still as they walked into light, the moaning oddly stopped as the soldiers left. Aang immediately recognized these figures. It was his gang! Katara, Sokka and Ty Lee!
"Guys! You came."
"There's no way were gonna let you do this alone," Katara said.
"But...what happened to you guys? You looks like a nest of scorpion bees got you." Aang pointed out, looking mainly at the spots all over their faces, arms and legs. Ty Lee then held a bucket over to Aang, which was filled with little pentapi in it.
"Pentapus?" Aang wondered, holding one of the little guys in his hand.
"Right. These little guys can really help us out."
"Well, while you were running around Omashu, Ty Lee, Katara and I managed to get the word out to the other slaves here without the guards knowing and they're all in. All we need are some pentapi, some good acting, and we can drive out the Fire Nation from here," Sokka explained. Aang was indeed confused, but when he turned back to Aurora, Aurora already vanished! So much for a spirit guide.
"How can pentapi save Omashu?"
It took a bit of maneuvering, but they got a good amount involved. While the Fire Nation Soldiers were busy, Ty Lee managed to get almost all the prisoners and slaves with pentapi spots on them. Aang was going through it too with Katara, just removing the last one off his face.
"What did you call this again? Pentapox?"
"Right. All we have to do is go out, act like were gravely sick and the Fire Nation will have to leave. No matter what nation you're from, no one wants to get sick. Now I'll be right back, I need to check the others." Katara left as Aang just rubbed the spots on his face left by the little creatures. No sooner after Katara left, someone else came back to see him. The spirit, Aurora, had found him again.
"Aurora. What happened back there?"
"I disappeared. I guess from the stressful situation I'm sure, but-...what happened to you?" Aurora glanced to the pentapi in the bucket and Aang covered in the suction cup spots. Before Aurora could ask, Aang already started to explain "The gang had an idea earlier to save Omashu."
"They said something about 'Pentapox' and will use that to scare the others away."
"Pentapox? Never heard of it."
"Me neither, but it seems the only way to drive the others out. I guess some sort of outbreak or plague."
"Hm...a bit vague and mediocre. But it sounds rather interesting. But you are aware of the risks right?" It was Aang's turn to be confused.
"What do you mean?"
"The Fire Nation. They saw you here, they're not gonna run off so easily knowing you're still around. Besides, how will they know if this 'Pentapox' is even deadly?"
"It seems the others already got the plan rolling. Whatever it is...Aurora? Mind if I ask you something?"
"Okay. Now you've been told to protect me right? If something goes wrong and this doesn't work, please make sure everyone gets out safely...okay?"
"...So you want me as a bodyguard for the others now?...Simple enough. Though I'm pretty intrigued as to this plan of theirs."
"But again. The Fire Nation is pretty stubborn." Aang took some thought on that. Any nation that could make it here, judging by the rest of the terrain and the amount of earthbenders, it is pretty stubborn to keep going with it.
"Hm...what if they think I've died from this pentapox plague? You think they'd run off then?"
"That's rather naive, Aang. You're the Avatar, remember? And if I don't know about this disease, who's to say anyone else does?...But then again. There's no reason to stay if the Avatar isn't around anymore..."
"So it's settled then. You can stay on the sidelines as this goes on while we go to plan. Today is the first day of the Pentapox plague." After that said, Aang went off on his way. Aurora smiled, seeing his determination on this...this plan should be good.
Just off outside, the Fire Nation soldiers already gave a report on the sudden lack of workers here. The governor went on out and saw the large lack.
"Those slackers. Go find them!" the governor ordered. The other soldiers moved out while he and Mai stayed to examine a little bit. Mai was still bored of Omashu, despite this holdback. There weren't much clues as to where they went so they both headed to the city's main ground, close to the main gate, to see if anyone was there. Mai, though, then heard something and let the governor go ahead as she went to investigate. Mai followed the morning noise until she found someone in an alleyway, limping over weakly to her sight. The person was actually Aang, acting out the illness as if it were real.
"Help," Aang moaned weakly and raspy.
"What are you doing?" Mai asked, still in a bored voice.
"The plague...save yourself..." Aang gave out a weak cough just before falling to her feet. Mai looked at him as if he was nuts and Aang remained on the ground. Aang wait for a reaction, but Mai didn't bother much. Mai sighed, bored, and walked away. But as Aang was slightly getting up, he suddenly found a blade right through his collar, pinning him to the ground!
"Wait here." Mai said, before running off. Now things were getting bad. He could only hope that the plague worked.
In the main area of the city, the soldiers were still looking around for the others. One of them though suddenly saw them...all together at one end of the courtyard. The governor saw them all as soon as he were told. Aurora did find another spot above the gate to watch without being spotted himself, just in case something went wrong.
"There you are! Get back to work!" The governor ordered...nothing. Suddenly he realized something was deeply wrong with them, as the ill moaning, deeply-sick expressions, and weak movement made it obvious something was wrong with them. Sokka, Katara, and Ty Lee took the lead as they all went at them like zombies. The guards tried holding their ground, but were honestly rather afraid. Whatever disease this did, they didn't want to catch it! After some thought, the soldiers actually started to go back. This was surprisingly easy.
"Those people are all ill. Come on, let's go." The governor told the guards and they began to go. It only took a few minutes before they left...except for Mai, who arrived soon after.
"Mai, let's go!" the governor called. Mai, though, didn't bother, in fact she walked right up to them. The group of "zombies" still kept up their act, although they were beginning to worry. Mai looked at them quizzically.
"What's the point of this little play?" Mai asked, unamused. Sokka was right in front of her right now and Mai could see the worry in his eyes.
"Let's see if you're the real deal," Mai said, pulling out some of her ninja blades aiming it at him. Before anyone could react, Sokka suddenly found himself thrown onto the ground...being stripped of his cloths. Sokka, still acting out, laid on the ground in his underwear, but the sight of what Mai saw startled her. It turned out Sokka had the spots all over his body; his torso, legs, and arms were completely covered. This was indeed different and a shock. Sokka, keeping up the act, got up in a zombie-like fashion and started for her.
"All right. I'll please you," Mai sighed and turned and joined the other Fire Nation soldiers in the retreat. Aurora, though, saw her true motives and suddenly jumped in her way! Mai hardly had time to stop when Aurora bit her in the throat!
"Don't you dare try anything. Understand?" Aurora ordered, biting down harder. The sudden shock of the situation made whatever plan in Mai's mind disappear and she finally took off, running. The Fire Nation now had left the city, all with the illusion that there was a disease spreading. Aurora waited and watched as they ran off before it turned to the rest of the city, all rather surprised to see him.
"Yes. Shocking, I know...Aang had given me the order to help out. Now before you ask, Aang isn't around here. I'll go get him."
"But why did you attack her? She was running off-"
"To tell the others the truth. If she would've done that, you all would've been killed," Aurora explained.
"I guess it doesn't matter. The Fire Nation's gone, that's all that counts."
"Yeah. I'll go get Aang. In the meantime...how about cover up?" Aurora then went off, leaving an extremely embarrassed, half-naked Sokka standing in the crowd. What an embarrassment just so a plan could fall through.
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