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|Announcing a War|
October 9, 2009
Announcing a War is the ninth chapter of Avatar: Guardian.
Zuko is writing a letter that will be published throughout the Fire Nation. He is unsure about it, and asks for the team's advice. They wake up Sokka, and listen to Zuko's announcement. He drops a bomb on the group, so to speak, and it surprises the group. Sokka ends the tension by leaving to go get breakfast in the nearby town. They meet a troubled teenager who attacks Sokka briefly, and discover his village has been conquered.
As the sun rises, Zuko watches while writing a proclamation. He is stuck on the phrasing of a certain sentence. He decides that it's good enough the way it is, and writes what his first choice was. The rest of the team gets up slowly, and Zuko decides to run the announcement by them before sending it off for publication. "Hey, guys, I need you to hear something."
Toph bends the sides of her earth tent down and walks towards Zuko's voice. "Good, 'cause I couldn't see it anyway." Aang walks up behind Zuko and begins trying to take paper from him.
"Come on Zuko, let me read it!"
"No way, Aang; it's mine! Let me read it!"
Toph butts in "Let me read it!"
Katara, motherly as usual, calls them all babies and tells them to calm down, pointing out that Zuko was a hotheaded baby. Aang and Toph laugh, and wonder where Sokka is. The entire group goes to find him. They locate him near a small mountain, asleep with his sword drawn, slashing in the air. Katara condenses a small amount of water from the air and lets it fall onto his head. Shocked, Sokka leaps forward, sword ready to attack. Toph, reacting quickly, pulls up an earth wall directly in front of where he was heading. After hitting his head hard, he falls back onto his sleeping bag, sword in one hand, with the other hand clutching his forehead. "OW Toph! That was unnecessary!"
Aang pipes in "Actually, Zuko has something he needs to run by us, so we needed you up."
Toph inconsiderately adds, "So get up" while using Earthbending to launch him onto his feet. They all walk back to where Zuko was sitting, still looking over his important address to his nation.
"Alright, we're all here Zuko. You can start now."
"Thank you for your permission, Katara. And now on to the letter that will be announced in every town in the Fire Nation. 'A proclamation by Fire Lord Zuko. Citizens, there have been many rumors going around that there are rebels trying to damage the fragile peace in the world. I am sending this message to tell you that the rumors are true, but are not as severe as you might expect. I am asking you to report to the domestic police force any information about citizens wearing large amounts of black and gold. They have instructions on how to deal with them. I am working with the Avatar and am in the process of putting them down. As I end this message, I leave you with this: do not give into fear and never forget who you are.' So how was that? " As he puts the scroll away from his face, he sees Sokka laughing, Katara trying to stop him, Toph picking her toes, and Aang staring with big eyes. "You weren't even listening!"
Katara pushes Sokka away and looks towards Zuko "Yes we did listen."
Toph doesn't even look towards Zuko as she says "I always pick my toes at this time. Nothing personal, but I was listening. But I think you should hold back a little bit more information from the citizens. A bit too much information would be bad to put out there. Maybe there are more who are against the cause and just haven't found the right outlet. If you tell them that there is an organization that wants to take you down, they might join it."
"Why? I'm already holding back that I haven't completely disbanded the military. What else could I really hold back?"
Aang's big, watery eyes, dried up at this "Wait, you haven't disbanded the military? What is wrong with you?"
"My uncle said I used to never think things through. This time I did. I have kept a small number active under Jeong Jeong in case of an emergency like this."
Aang's fury was still not put down "Don't you realize it was the Fire Nation's military that started the war?"
"And that's where you're wrong Aang," Zuko started. "Sozin started the war, and he used the military to do it. I'm using it to help gain peace. Jeong Jeong has been training them in his own style of Firebending, so they couldn't hurt anyone with it."
For once, Sokka agrees with Zuko, "Zuko's right, Aang. Having a small army will help us be able to defeat the drones of the organization and let us focus on their leaders." Everyone turns to look at Sokka, confused at why he would say something that is so in line with Zuko's opinion. "What? I think that's a good idea. After the battles we've fought, I think it's a good idea that we don't have to focus on the little guys."
Toph agrees "Now it's Sokka who has a point. First time for everything, I suppose."
Aang finally sees what Zuko means "So, the army is just training to help us? That's a new one. Ever since I was released from the iceberg, they were trying to capture me. It may take a bit of getting used to."
Zuko tells Aang how he did the same thing. Toph remembers her burnt feet "You're telling me..." Her most likely sarcastic joke was interrupted by Sokka's stomach rumbling.
"Okay, I'm hungry. Let's go find some meat." Sokka quickly glances at Aang. "And some... non-meat."
The group heads down to the village, Aang in his Fire Nation disguise and a hat covering his arrow, and Zuko with a hood to cover his scar. Sokka is leading the way, looking for a meat shop with eyes wide. He finally found one up to his standards, and as he charged towards it, he was met with a fire blast from down the street. Sokka jumps back so the blast misses him and yells at the attacker, "What was that for?"
The attacker was just a normal citizen, confused. "You're one of those waterbenders who attacked my village! I'm not going to let you take this one either!" He fires another blast towards Sokka, which Zuko blocks.
"You've got it all wrong." Zuko tells the man. "What do you mean, waterbenders?" Zuko is obviously trying to play down the severity of the matter. Zuko and the rest of Team Avatar pull the man into an alley and try to find out what he knows.
"My name is Zhentu. I'm usually not that blunt and rash; my apologies. A week ago, waterbenders attacked our village and killed many of our Firebenders. I was able to escape, but I am only one of few who managed it. The village is due north east of here, but I fear that not that many are left. Those waterbenders were too strong for us. There was one who was just in a class of his own. He used water almost like it was fire. There was one instance where he froze a blast of water around a firebender's torso, then used it to go through him with spikes. I heard him calling orders to the rest of them; he told them to kill any Firebender, and anyone else who stood between them and those firebenders."
Zuko interrupted "Well, that's the Firefighters all right. Can you lead us to your town?"
"Yes I can. But will you allow me to assist in taking back my village? I want to make up for allowing my village to fall. I need redemption."
Zuko looked at Aang, who nodded, and allowed Zhentu to join.
Katara looks towards Sokka "Sorry, looks like the meat will have to wait."
They begin leaving the alley back towards Appa.
- This chapter introduced a new character
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