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Warning! This page contains spoilers for Avatar: Better World.
July 16, 2009
"Aftermath" is the fifth chapter of the Featured Fanon-winning story Avatar: Better World. It was released on July 16, 2009, on Avatar Wiki. The chapter revolves around several different plots going on, each focusing on a different character's perspective after the Wind Killer assassination attempts.
The chapter was the first to be released from the series after a giant merge between the Avatar Fanon Wiki and the normal Avatar Wiki and was therefore the source of delay. It was meant to be different from the action of previous chapters with the inclusion of verbal tension in stead. The point in that was to calm the pace while still keeping the tension thick, as well as too explore different writing styles.
"Aftermath" was released on Avatar Wiki on July 16, 2009, and was overwhelmingly praised by reviewers. Several regard it as the best chapter and positively reviewed the tension, dialogue, and Sokka's hallucinations, which were considered the highlight of the chapter by the majority of reviews.
Author's Note Edit
Okay, here’s chapter 5. This is the end of the arc, so after this will be a different storyline. Also, this chapter is not violence-action oriented like usual, but more focused on word tension and dialogue action. So enjoy and review!
Ba Sing Se, Upper Ring, the next day…
Yino and Aang’s battle had clearly caused serious damage. The ring laid ravaged, tiles, stones, glass, and wood was practically engulfing it, nearly all houses missing a roof and walls. It was a mess, to say the least. The Ba Sing Se Reconstruction Committee immediately went on the scene, its skilled Earthbenders bending back the streets. Other members reconstructed the buildings by hand, rebuilding the foundation back.
Team Avatar and the rest of the citizens were relocated to the Middle Ring, where there were several spare buildings to be used for the next few days as the Committee speedily rebuilt the Upper Ring. In one of these huts, Aang, bandaged nearly head-to-toe, sat in the basement, flipping through scrolls that were littered all across the ground; he muttered to himself indecipherably.
Katara walked down the steps into the cluttered basement, littered with dozens of candles, empty water vases, and shelves, along with the dozens of scrolls Aang had his nose poked into. She looked at the back of Aang’s head, black fuzz littered on it with his unshaven hair, starting to grow back. She sighed and stepped down further, about to speak. Aang was quicker, however, and much more unsettling.
“You know, Katara, the Wind Killers were founded when Ozai was Prince. He made them himself. It’s right here in the mass murder reports in the Lower Ring. And Lee Koisho, my-my second assassin, I met him twice when we were in the Fire Nation. He imprisoned Sokka. Toph and I apparently scammed him…”
Katara didn’t like the tone of his voice as he continued, turning to her, grey bags under his eyes, showing under the bandages.
“And Yino…Yino was in a trench war the year your father left your tribe. His Fire Nation prison records, scribbled every year, show he was abused as a child, forced into the trench war, then enlisted in the military.” His tone became sharper as his teeth gritted and his forehead scrunched. “He always got out of prison. Wanna know why? Because Ozai favored him.”
Aang’s voice was louder and more ferocious as he stood up, thrashing the scrolls to the ground and shaking. “We know all of these things, Katara! Why didn’t we stop this sooner? Look out there!” His wrapped hand gestured out the window to the viewable construction in the Upper Ring. “We could’ve stopped that! I could’ve stopped that! All of this….this…” He picked up the scrolls and tore at them angrily. “AH! These stupid bits of information! Meaningless, right? We could’ve stopped this, Katara! We could’ve...” He dropped to his knees. “…we could’ve stopped this madness. We could’ve stopped it….we could’ve stopped it all…”
Katara walked over to Aang, wrapping her arms around him. He gritted his teeth, tears forming in his eyes. “We could’ve stopped it!” Aang exclaimed again and again. “I’m sorry, Katara…” His voice was soft now. “I failed. I’m so sorry.” Tears strove down his checks, Katara the same. Aang had finally broken down. After all of the struggles he had faced in a mere half of a month, he had finally broken down.
Sokka’s arm had been burned - bad. He sat on the flat seat laid out on the floor, his burned arm wrapped heavily in bandage, small cuts scattered on his face. He had a stubborn face on, as Toph sat across him in a wooden seat, staring at him with her blind eyes, a sarcastic look spread over her mouth. Sokka huffed.
“I wanna help,” Sokka said bitterly.
“Stick it,” Toph said back. “You’re injured. That burn’s nasty. I felt it, it’s disgusting. And stop fidgeting; I can feel it through this chair, which really means you need to stop.”
Sokka huffed again, his limp arm growing more and more numb. “Then at least let me get up. At least a game of ball.”
Toph grabbed a ball of linen from her robe pocket and tossed it towards is direction. “Enjoy.”
Sokka stuck his tongue out. He then sat quietly for a few moments, looking at the ground. “You know, when I-when I thought I was, well, dead, I-I swear I could, well, I could’ve sworn I saw…You know what, forget it. You’d think I’m crazy.”
“It’s too late for that,” Toph remarked. “Just spit it out.”
“Well, I could’ve sworn I saw…this, well, this blinding light. Kind of like, I don’t know, like it was screaming. Some kind of angel or something….but different, kind of like it was – it was crying. Crying out to me, too, like I needed to save it. But I couldn’t – I was in so much pain. Then it just was gone and my heart just, just stopped. Then it was beating so fast, I thought it was gonna burst, I thought it was being pumped by something other then myself. Like some – some kind of spirit had just dragged me out of death. Toph, I – I think I was saved by a spirit.”
Toph looked at him with an odd face, falling silent. She then broke it like glass. “You’re right – you are crazy. I’m sorry, Sokka, but I really doubt a spirit would care at all about one of us. They’re snobs – higher entities who think we’re bugs. You were just hallucinating.” She hopped off the wooden seat. “I’m gonna get some air. You’re near-death spiritual encounter theory’s blocked all the air from my feet.” She walked outside into the small grove behind the house.
Sokka looked unsettled. He looked down at the linen ball. “What are you looking at? Nyah.” He swatted it with his head.
Fire Nation High Security Prison, meanwhile, just outside the Fire Nation capital…
Zuko had arrived just an hour ago in the Fire Nation via a personal airship he himself entitled Ursa. He was infuriated. Hours earlier, he had checked in on Aang in Ba Sing Se only to find the scroll he was reading intensely was littered with the information of Ozai’s role in founding the Wind Killer assassins. He knew than that Ozai had hired the assassins, or at least hired their leader who choose the assassins, and knew that he had explaining to do. He stormed into the gate, his robes flying, buzzing by the guard and stomping into Ozai’s hall. “I know it was you, father! I know it was you who hired the Wind Killers.”
Ozai moved his head limply, his hair askew and ragged. “Why, it’s great to see you, too, Zuko.”
“Shut up,” Zuko remarked. “I know you formed the Wind Killers, and I know you were the man who hired those assassins. But my question to you is why?”
Ozai laughed condescendingly. “Sometimes I wonder if you truly are my son. Ha-ha.”
Zuko gritted his teeth and exclaimed, “Answer me!”
Ozai looked at him with a mutual expression. He picked himself up as he spoke aloud, “You’re a stubborn fool. Deluded too.” He walked to the bars to meet his son face to face. “You know why. I’m malicious; ‘Oh, daddy, you’re so mean.’ You’re pathetic! You know all the questions you ask are from your stubbornness to not accept your father’s an unnatural monster. You’re just like your mother.”
Zuko roared and grabbed his father by the hair. Sweat beat down his checks. He shook in rage.
“Ha-ha…” Ozai snickered. “Do it. Get it over with – kill me.”
Zuko looked at his eyes, feeling engrossed in a spiral of emotions and words. His father laughed more and more.
“Come on, Zuko, you know you can and you know you want to. You’re the ruler of an empire, now do your imperial duty and kill me! Kill me!!” Meanwhile, back in Ba Sing Se
Night fell on the city of Ba Sing Se. The committee continued to reconstruct the buildings, lanterns practically illuminating the sky above the Upper Ring.
“Hey, Malu, ya sure you haven’t had anything to drink today?!” bellowed Lee, an immature committee construction crewmen, from atop a construction later. Malu had just tripped over a small stack of wood.
“Ah, cram it, Lee,” Malu said back, picking himself back up. “It’s night, I just can’ see all dat well.”
“You kidding?” Lee said. “These lights are burning.”
“Gettin’ ol’, huh?”
“Ah, shut it.”
In Team Avatar’s house down in the Middle Ring, things were much quieter. Sokka sat in the same spot, his mind racing. The idea of an actual spirit saving him was…well, almost unbelievable. He tried to get off the subject, taking a bite of an apple in a bowl beside him, but as he munched, the sound echoing in the empty room, he kept thinking about it. Then suddenly, a loud hissing noise stung in his ear. It grew louder and louder, like a shriek, then it turned to a bellow. Sokka clutched his head with his spare hand, groaning with agony. The bellowing grew louder and started to form words that hissed over the screams and shrieks:
“The war is coming!” It echoed again and again, Sokka gripping his head harder. More words began to pile up above it, “The Empire will fall,” and they roared against each other inside his head. He began to scream and fell on his back. “The monarch will die!” the third bellow shrieked, all the words engrossing over one another and exploding in screams that felt like they were burning Sokka’s head to ashes. He bellowed out himself, though he could not stop the screaming. He couldn’t silence the voices. His nose was bleeding.
As the screaming overwhelmed him, he desperately slammed his fist into a low vase, shattering it into his hand. It bled deeply and he crawled on the ground until he reached the wall. Hastily, as the screams exclaimed louder the words more intense than ever, he wrote on the wall with his own blood: “THE WAR IS COMING.” Screaming, he began to write the other phrases. Images began flashing around him, burning fire, skeletons, sieges, and blood.
Katara ran into the room from the stares, carrying a bowl which she dropped, seeing the sight. “Sokka!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing?!” She ran up to him and grabbed his bloody hand from the wall, though he struggled. Finally, he stopped and fell on his back, screaming and wriggling. Toph heard the screaming vividly and stormed into the house. Katara asked Sokka, “What’s wrong?!”
“Gah!!!! Make the screaming stop! Make the screaming stop!!!!!” He yelled, the pain becoming intense.
Katara bended water around her hands and put them around his ears. The images flashed once more, the screaming immense still. Then they slowed, faded, and the noises died down. Finally, Sokka stopped screaming and groaning, his body relaxed, and panted violently. Katara bended back the water and panted herself – that took a huge amount of strength, but she didn’t know why, and she felt weaker.
Toph spoke, “What just happened?”
Sokka answered through pants of breath, “The screaming…it wouldn’t stop. It kept telling me…it kept telling me of a war….and it kept showing me these images…”
Aang walked up the steps with haste and entered the room. He stomped to Sokka’s side, “Are you okay?”
Sokka gulped and responded, “Yeah, I-I think I am.” He wiped the blood from his nose and picked himself up.
Aang looked at the Chinese writing on the wall and chills went down his spine from the words. Sokka turned to him and asked, “What-what does this mean?”
Aang was silent, looking at the wall, his eyes shining slightly. He then turned away and looked at Sokka. “I…I don’t know.”
Back in the Fire Nation prison cells
“Kill me…” Ozai repeated, looking at his son with angry eyes but a thin, neutral face. Zuko was shaking with anger. “I…I….” “Zuko, I tried to kill your friend, I burnt your face, I tortured innocent lives. You’ve said it yourself, I’m a monster,” Ozai said. “Now, give into your emotions, give into your hate and anger, give into your heart’s desire and burn me right here.”
Zuko panted, the hall fell silent, but the tension was immense and the hot summer air was cold as ice. “…Gah!” He shouted, whipping a small lash of fire and slamming it into the wall, leaving a singe burn. “No! My whole life you’ve deceived me. You let me live my life thinking I only had hate and fear and anger and your blood to give myself honor. I spent three years following those teachings, three years I wasted! If I was another man, if I was still listening to your teachings, you’d be dead, burning on the ground and not rotting in a cell! But that’s not who I am; I’m not you. I am Fire Lord Zuko, ruler of the Fire Nation. I’ll never use hate and fear to rule the country, I’ll never give into my emotions…. and I’ll never listen to you, not if my life depended on it. You tried to kill Aang and I want answers. But if you’re not going to give them to me, Father, than I’m going now. Enjoy rotting…” He turned to walk away.
“You Zuko, you really are a stubborn child,” Ozai called out as Zuko walked down the hall.
“Oh, and by the way, I didn’t hire those assassins.” Zuko stopped at this. “I hired the pathetic wimp who hired those assassins. Worst mistake ever. I swear, you can never get good help these days.”
“How’d you do it?” Zuko asked.
“Do what exactly?”
“Set this up at all.”
“Oh, it was easy. You really need to make this prison more inaccessible. He could’ve broken me out in an instant and I’d have this country in my hands again with that army.” He laughed rudely and abruptly.
Zuko grunted and slammed the door, leaving the hallway.
“You always did never finish things, Zuko! Hahahaha!!”
Zuko walked down the prison entrance, his mind ablaze with anger and questions. Ozai was right - he never could finish anything.
Wiki merge and delay Edit
"Avatar Fanon has joined Avatar Wiki as of 27 June to start as a merged wiki."
SuperFlash101 had come up with the ideas for the chapter briefly after finishing Chapter four, Eruption. Flash set up the article for it on Avatar Fanon Wiki and used an image of Fire Lord Zuko confronting Ozai in prison in the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender for it's profile. Soon after he began writing it, however, a discussion began on Avatar Wiki about merging Avatar Fanon with the canon wiki.
Due to this discussion, writing for both "Aftermath" and most stories on the Fanon Wiki began to be delayed. As the discussion continued, Flash began to less and less update the chapter, until he stopped. When the merge seemed to have been decided on not doing so, the delay began to stop and the writing picked up briefly. However, the discussion continued and the merge was eventually finalized - the two wikis became one. With the merge done, Flash began to write the chapter further.
Before actually writing the chapter, Flash had in mind to make it include no action at all. Instead, it would, as he described, be "jam packed with tension and riveting dialogue." The idea for such a story had come from his editor, The 888th Avatar, in an IRC discussion on what to do in the future with the story. The 888th Avatar had told him it would best to "give the reader a breather," which he attempted to use in the third chapter, "Settling Scores," with the Sokka and Toph storyline. Still, however, he wanted further slow pace in the story so decided to use the final chapter of the chronicle to do so.
Aang's part in the chapter, going vigorously through scrolls and explaining the assassins to Katara, was added in order to give background to characters as he had left several of them unexplained in previous chapters. In fact, each was supposed to be explained in their specific introductory chapters, but Flash had removed them from writing due to finishing them in haste; for example, Yino was supposed to have his back story explained in chapter four, "Eruption," while Lee was supposed to be explained in chapter two, "Hunted", but both were never worked in. Lee's story is planned to be explained in a manga adaption, however.
The idea for Sokka's storyline was a quick and random thought that occurred while writing Sokka and Toph's humorous conversation. Flash wanted to incorporate an ongoing storyline with Sokka as well as give readers a cliffhanger on the meaning of the messages. Cliffhangers and other surprises were meant to build tension in the story. The intense bellowing and shrieking Sokka heard was based on the season four opening episode of the series Supernatural, in which one of the protagonists has a similar experience throughout the episode, as well as the idea of being resurrected from the dead by a spirit; one of the descriptions of the bellowing was as well referent to a famous quote in The Silence of the Lambs. Having Sokka write on the wall in his own blood was inspired by horror films and the 2009 disaster film Knowing.
The brief scene in which the Committee construction crew members have a short conversation was meant to add humor into the somewhat depressing and intense chapter. They were originally supposed to be used in the introduction of the chapter, as well as several other characters, in order to show how much damage was caused and the amount of work needed to reconstruct it. The characters are planning on appearing further in the story, however how much they will be explored is undecided by the author.
"Well, everyone, I have great news - chapter five is done!"
Flash finished the chapter on July 16, 2009, and released it immediately afterward on the Avatar Wiki. The chapter is the longest ever written in the series, at five pages on a word document and over three thousand words. It as well is the first chapter of the series to be released on the Wiki before being posted on FanFiction.net.
Avatar Wiki user Vaznock praised the chapter, calling it "intense." Vaznock went on to say that the scene in which Sokka writes in blood gave him chills, as well as compared the wait for the chapter with one for the actual Avatar series. Another, Waterkai, was given chills as well, and recognized the reference to Knowing in the Sokka scene. Waterkai as well called the chapter "great[...]". Zukofan123 further stated the enjoyment of Sokka's hallucinations.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Better World chapters|
| The New World Chronicles
|Bad Start - Hunted - Settling Scores - Eruption - Aftermath|
The New Politics Chronicles
|Bitter Empire - Spare the Innocent - Be Thou a Cain - The Will of All Mankind - Forgive Me, Lord... - ...For I Have Sinned - Bathe With the Dogs - Into Here I Am - John the Revelator - Brothers in Arms|