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The gang's little effect on Omashu had driven off the strong Fire Nation governor and his men from the Earth Kingdom city. Team Avatar wanted to help in the recovery (mostly Aang), but they insisted that they could recover, Aang having a mission to do already. Aang understood this a bit more from Makapu and they went on their way. Eventually though, they did find another resting spot for them to get their bearings.
"It sure was nice for all the supplies they've given," Sokka said, while distributing the different supplies given to them. They were mostly traveling necessities: food, accessories given by the city folk, and so on.
"It's makes sense. After all, we did help them get back Omashu," Katara said.
"I know but it wasn't too much. If anything, it's Ty Lee to thank. After all, she did help with the pentapii." Ty Lee blushed and smiled.
"Well, it was you who came up with the plan in the first place. I shouldn't get all the credit," Ty Lee said, a bit bashful. But it was nice for her to get the credit. Then the subject of Aurora came up.
"So, have you guys met that doggy before? It sounded like it knew you already," Ty Lee asked, not having met Aurora before.
"Well, only once, back at the South Pole. It showed up during our time there. I guess it knew Aang before Aang met us," Katara explained as she gave a berry to Momo. This intrigued Ty Lee more, while Aang was having some bread.
"That's awesome! When did you meet Aurora, Aang?" Ty Lee asked, very interested.
"Actually, I'm not sure. The first time was after I met Sokka and Katara at the South Pole, but it seemed to know me already..." While they were talking, Momo tried to eat his berry. However, it was still in its shell, thus Momo tried to crack it open. As he hit the nut on the ground, it seemed to shake the area around him, scaring him! Curious, he dropped the berry gently on the ground, getting the same result and Momo flew over to Appa's back.
"I dunno. It sounded like it came from over there," Katara pointed out, starting to go over.
"Aren't we supposed to stay away from loud noises?!" Sokka asked, but it wasn't long before the rest followed. Eventually they found the source of the noise. The group suddenly found themselves in a battlefield! Just out of sight, they saw a battle between a group of firebenders and one earthbender. Obviously an uneven match, but the battle was intense regardless. By the extent of the injuries on both sides, this one was rather violent. Some got very close to the team, so it was a bit risky just watching it at all. Ty Lee was seeing this, eying the earthbender mostly though. During the fight though, suddenly the earthbender fell off his feet, getting tangled in a thrown bola.
"There. You're coming with me," the Fire Nation soldier said.
"You scum. You won't get away with this," the earthbender growled.
"Who's gonna save you?" he asked. Ty Lee suddenly felt a strong urge in her. Either from dumb luck or justice, she suddenly bolted over, exposing herself!
"Ty Lee, wait!" Aang quietly yelled, but it didn't stop her as she gave the firebender a powerful kick in the temple! The earthbender watched in shock as Ty Lee got to work. The other soldiers tried to get her, but Ty Lee weaved through the crowd, giving each a hard jab on their shoulders. Ty Lee got back to the earthbender, but a sneaky soldier got her with the same bola weapon, getting her entangled.
"What were you thinking?" the earthbender asked.
"I wanted to help you," Ty Lee sighed. The firebender stomped on her head, good and hard.
"What is the meaning of this?! Got some allies here, rock boy?"
"I don't even know her."
"Well. Regardless of the issue, she's coming back (glances to see the eyes of Team Avatar) but one extra measure." The firebender tried to use his firebending...only to find he can't! He tried again and again, but it didn't work. He looked to Ty Lee with a ticked off look and using the club in hand, he smashed it on her skull, immediately knocking her out...
Far off, still near to Omashu, the Fire Nation there was still going through. Among them, Mai was simply bored out of her mind. It was bad enough being shown up by some spirit hound, but it was worse because of the fact she had to sleep on the grass instead of on the bed like she should be.
"This. Sucks," Mai groaned, trying to get comfortable. Not much luck though. As she was though, she was starting to feel like something was coming their way. Her emotionless nature though didn't get her to react much...until a group of soldiers got into range. This group, to most of the group's surprise, happened to belong to Zuko! He had been going north for a while now since Vulkan told him where Aang was going and now he had to pass through the Omashu turf to do so. The leader, the once proud governor of Omashu, was the first to greet him.
"Fire Prince Zuko! Such a pleasure to meet you," the governor said.
"Likewise. You must be the general. General Hooro?"
"Yes, that's right. What brings you here?" Hooro asked.
"We'll discuss privately. May I?"
"Oh yes, come in, Prince." Hooro guided Zuko to the main hut as Mai flat out ignored the whole thing. She didn't care much for royalty, even if it was the son of Ozai. Though as time went on, she grew slightly curious as to what Zuko even wanted. After all, Zuko had stayed long enough anyway. So without further thought, she got up and was going to go eavesdrop when Zuko and Hooro walked out.
"Attention, Omashu guards. We are given a new role for our leader. And as such, we are going after the Avatar alongside Fire Prince Zuko," Hooro announced. Mai was intrigued, but wasn't convinced much by the governor's choice.
"All of you get ready. Soon we will begin to head out north," Zuko said afterwards. Now Mai just needed answers.
"What's going on?" Mai asked, a bit confused on this subject, but didn't show it.
"Mai, we're joining alliance with Fire Prince Zuko. He knows where the Avatar is heading and he needs our assistance in his capture," Hooro explained.
"You expect it to be so easy? You're rushing into the Northern Water Tribe, you know," Mai pointed out, not impressed at all.
"Don't worry about them. There's a legend that is placed at the Northern Water Tribe. If it's real, then we have nothing to worry about. Now get ready, we leave at once," Zuko explained, walking past the girl.
"And if this little plan to get the Avatar fails?"
"...then we wipe out the Water Tribe..."
Meanwhile, back with Ty Lee, her world right now was completely quiet and black as she was still passed out from her earlier fight. Eventually though, her mind was starting to come to as she began hearing a similar voice trying to wake her up.
Ty Lee groggily woke up, the side of her head still sore from the whack she took. It didn't swell, in fact it felt kinda bruised, but that was about it. She looked around to see she wasn't with her friends. She wasn't even on land for that matter! Turned out, she was stuck on a large prison rig somehow! How she ended up here, she had no idea. One thing was for sure, she was here and she was stuck. Her hands were in 8-pt acupuncture cuffs, so trying to chi-block out was out of the question. The earthbender placed a soothing hand on her bruised head.
"How are you feeling?" he asked. Ty Lee blushed and turned away.
"I'm alright I guess. A bit sore maybe," she admitted. She tried to get the cuffs off her, but it just hurt the more she struggled. The earthbender stopped her.
"Don't do that. It'll only make them grip tighter."
"Oh...who are you?"
"I'm Haru. What about you?"
"Ty Lee...soo. Where am I exactly?"
"You're pretty much in prison, Ty Lee, on a Fire Nation rig. I'm surprised though, why did you have to come out and fight?" Haru asked. Ty Lee could tell there was a slight bit of anger in his voice, as if he didn't want that.
"I'm sorry...I just wanted to help..."
"That's much appreciated, but I didn't want anyone else to get thrown in here with me."
"Why were you fighting there? What happened?" Haru just turned away and sighed sadly. Ty Lee slightly felt regretful to even ask after that. It was strange really, she usually had such a happy attitude, but now she seemed switched around. Haru just got up.
"Just be careful next time...if there is one." Haru sighed, and he walked away from her.
For the time that followed, Ty Lee kept an eye on Haru. She didn't know much on it, but she thought that maybe she caught something. An old fashioned "love-at-first-sight" effect had her, but she didn't get too distracted as she tried to get the cuffs off her. Despite what Haru said, she was determined to get her hands free. But it ended up tightened to the point when it started cutting off circulation, so she had to stop. She didn't know how to loosen it so she was stuck with cold, lifeless hands.
Later on that night, Ty Lee was simply saddened, knowing that she simply couldn't do anything. She couldn't remember what happened to her friends and she was stuck on some prison rig going who knows where? Perhaps back to the Fire Nation, no doubt. She just laid there for a while, since she couldn't really do anything else right now. She remained like that until...
Ty Lee looked over and, to her ultimate shock, found Katara! Since it was nighttime, she thought she was dreaming, but no, she indeed was there.
"Katara! What are you doing here?" Ty Lee asked quietly yet excitedly.
"We're here to get you out. We managed to trail the ship after your capture," Katara explained and Ty Lee saw Appa nearby with Sokka and Aang. Ty Lee walked over as Katara got back on.
"Come on, Ty Lee, let's get going." Ty Lee was going to go, but she wasn't the only one up that night. Someone else noticed her before she could go on.
"Ty Lee? What's going on?" Ty Lee turned around and saw Haru again, who looked on in confusion.
"Oh, Haru. Good thing you're up, ready to go?"
"Go? Go where?"
"Outta here, come on."
"Ty Lee, let's go," Sokka said, getting more and more impatient.
"Hold on, can we bring him?"
"What? Why?" Ty Lee didn't realize the why part. She only met him this morning, yet she didn't have an answer. Haru though placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry about me. You just leave while you can. I'll be fine," Haru said.
"It's not the nicest place here. Are you sure?"
"I'll be okay. You got a chance here. I don't." Now the group felt ashamed, he did have a chance, but he was not taking it.
"But you do have a chance. Right now. You can get outta here!"
"What's the point? I have nowhere to go to. All of my closest friends are in here anyway. And even if I do want to go, I don't have a home to go to..." Ty Lee was now starting to understand a bit.
"Well...can you guys at least get me outta these?" Ty Lee asked, showing them the cuffs on her. They all didn't answer at first, still thinking on what Haru had said. Before Aang or Sokka could talk though, Katara got off Appa and simply said, "no."
"What? I can't fight with these on!" Ty Lee snapped, a little louder than intended to be. Luckily, no guard heard them so they were fine.
"Not that. We'll get you out of those, Ty Lee, but I'm not leaving. (turns to Haru) You. Haru is it? We're going to get you out of here."
"That's nice and all but I just-"
"Not just you...all of you."
The next day, as the sun shone up on the boat, the guards were off on their patrol of the area. However, Team Avatar was also sneaking around the ship. Their plan was underway right now, they couldn't get caught. Since Ty Lee was already a prisoner here, she was more free (so she wasn't sneaking around on the ship like the others). She and Haru waited in the prisoners' quarters as Aang and Sokka were sneaking about.
"I still can't believe we're doing this," Sokka griped.
"Come on, Sokka, you heard your sister. If this works, we'll get new allies on our side against the Fire Nation," Aang said, bolting out of sight with Sokka as a guard walked by.
"I know we get new allies, but what happened to just getting Ty Lee out? We were lucky not to get caught at all before we got here."
"I know, I know, let's just find that -" Before Aang could continue, it turned out luck was on their side as Aang quickly found their main target. The duo managed to find the ship's furnace! Just what they needed. No one was in at that point, so it was their perfect chance. There was a ton of coal, perfect for the mission.
"Whoa. Talk about luck. Come on, help me with the collecting," Aang said, bolting down to get the coal together and ready.
"Okay, fine, just hurry up before someone finds us. (thinks to himself) Oh Katara, why did you have to drag me in this?"
As Sokka and Aang were collecting, Katara was also going around the inside of the ship, trying to find where some of the vents were. During her walk, she managed to seal off 5 of the main vents by freezing them, except for the one leading to the prison quarter...The plan was becoming clear. After finishing her part, she somehow managed to find Aang and Sokka, avoiding sight of course.
"Okay, guys. All set," Katara signaled. Upon hearing, Aang got some good airbending ready while Sokka used his club to bang on the side of the furnace funnel. Since the other vents were cut off, the sound went right to the prisoners quarters, where it was heard by Ty Lee and Haru.
"Here it comes, Haru. You ready?" Ty Lee asked. Haru didn't answer at first, just sighing.
"I'm ready for this. The Fire Nation will regret this," Haru said, deep determination in his voice. Seconds after they stepped back, the plan took off, as the coal from the furnace spewed out! It didn't take long for not just the other prisoners, but the guards too, to notice. As it came out, so did the trio, ready to fight.
"It's the Avatar! Get him!" A guard shouted and the firebenders started off towards them. It didn't take very long before a full out brawl had started, each person trying to fight them off. The battle was complete with the team and the guards, as the other prisoners stood aside in awe. While Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Haru were doing pretty good, Ty Lee was having some trouble due to her cuffs. The fight was strenuous on her hands, the struggle to just fight causing the grip to become excruciating and it showed.
"Ty Lee, head's up!" Haru called. Ty Lee saw him knock a rock towards her. Ty Lee immediately got on to the idea and aimed the cuffs at it and, as thought, the cuffs snapped off!
"Thanks, Haru!" Ty Lee said, immediately beginning her chi blocking on the guards around her. From there, it didn't take long before she was back to back with Aang, both aiming at the guards.
"How you holdin' up?"
"Pretty good, you?"
"Just fine. Ready to finish this off?"
"Totally." No sooner after Aang agreed, Ty Lee quickly got in a handstand as Aang jumped up onto her feet. Everyone except for the guards got out of the way as Aang suddenly began spinning, adding both water and airbending to knock the guards off their own ship! It only took a few seconds before only a few were left on the ship. They of course surrendered before this could continue. Aang turned to the remaining guards, at which point there were only four left.
"Please don't hurt us!" one begged.
"We'll do anything, just spare us!" another added. Aang knew exactly what to do from here...
After all was said and done, they ended up back on the docks of the Earth Kingdom. Aang's idea was mainly to let the prisoners go, who were innocent to say the least. The Fire Nation guards eagerly agreed, despite going against their nation. Eventually only Haru was left on the docks, thanking Team Avatar for their efforts.
"Looks like that's everyone. You sure you can handle it?" Aang asked.
"I'm sure. Thank you for your help, Avatar," Haru said, bowing in his presence. Normally Aang wouldn't ask for this, but he let Haru do that. After all, he did help in a full prison rig break out and that was worth something. Katara and Sokka both got onto Appa, who was waiting alongside.
"So is it much longer to get to the North Pole?" Katara asked.
"Not at all! In fact we can make it in just one day. Ready to go Aang?...Aang?" Sokka then noticed Aang was talking to Ty Lee for a bit. Ty Lee and Aang eventually hugged and he went back to the others.
"What was that about?"
"Okay, guys, here's the deal. I'm sure after our visit with Master Arnook we would need an earthbending teacher, right?"
"So Ty Lee agreed to stay here in the Earth Kingdom to help look for one. This way, when we're done at the North Pole, we already have a plan once we find Ty Lee again." Sokka and Katara looked at each other, but could understand what was going on. Smart idea.
"Good luck, Ty Lee," Aang said as he got onto Appa.
"Good luck!" She replied. With a wave good bye, Appa flew off. Next stop: The North Pole.
For the collective works of the author, go here.