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|More from ShadowEden96||Action/Adventure||Postive||None|
|Assault from the Shadows|
Book One: Air
ShadowEden96, Evatar114, Dragon of the West
July 28, 2010
A Surprising Defense
==The Lines Are Drawn ==
The Mechanist woke up to the sight of the dark plumes of smoke, and the din of a crashing metal sound. From his window his eyes nervously twitched from the different plumes of ash and smoke rising in the air from right beyond the mountain. The Mechanist knew this meant one thing: for good or worse, another army had come for the Northern Air Temple. With worry etched on his face, he snatched the conch shell from its pedestal on his desk and blew into it. A low, clear note echoed throughout the Temple and beyond.
Sleepy villagers walked from their rooms to the Temple ledge at the Mechanist's call, including the Avatar and his friends. Toph was especially annoyed, as she consistently complained "I was having the best dream ever! This BETTER be worth waking me up this early!" Only once they had all gathered, they noticed that two very important people were gone.
"Where's Jason?" Aang asked curiously, looking around, "Did he even wake up?"
"Has anyone seen Teo?" the Mechanist called at the same time. He and Aang looked at each other with dread.
"Do you think..?" Aang started.
"Teo was pretty nasty to him yesterday." The Mechanist replied sadly.
Suddenly, a yell startled both of them and Aang, the Mechanist, and the rest looked up with surprised eyes.
Teo was flying extremely fast on his winged wheelchair towards the temple, while Jason hanging behind it was yelling "Shadowbenders are here!"
They landed on the ledge in front of the crowd, panic clearly painted onto their faces.
"Teo?" the Mechanist asked.
"No...Time..." Teo panted.
"An army of Shadowbenders are coming for the Temple!" Jason said in a panic, "I've never seen so many!"
"How?" the Mechanist asked, "Last time we blocked the path to the Tem-"
A sudden explosion cut the Mechanist off. He and the crowd looked out over the ledge and the yawning cliffs and valleys of the mountain to the path beyond them. Debris and pieces of broken boulder had flung out in a wide spray, peppering the snow below with dark pebbles. Dark shapes started coming out of the newly created path, as well as foot soldiers following besides them.
"Get the gliders." The Mechanist said gravely, "We have another battle to fight."
Iroh sat on the throne, eyes closed, as his mind focused on his meditation. A creak of the great doors leading to the throne room informed him of company, and he opened one eye lazily. In front of him was the Admiral of the Zeppelin fleet, who was obviously panicked.
"What is the matter Admiral?" Iroh questioned him, his open eye inspecting the man's badges out of curiosity.
"At-tackers sir!" the Admiral stammered, "They leapt out the shadows and attacked us! It's like they can control the shadows themselves! We need your help to fight them off!"
Iroh got off of the throne, both eyes open and attentive...and a bit frightened. Zuko had warned him that while he was absent the Shadowbenders might attack. He was worried about how he would fight them. He did not know the ways of Shadowbending, so he did not know of its potential. What if they could turn men against their allies? What if they could tear a man in half with a single curl of their finger? Iroh wanted Zuko to be besides him, not only to protect Zuko, but vice versa as well. This time, Zuko was the master of the knowledge, and he the student.
"Lead on Admiral." Iroh said calmly. The man nodded quickly and ushered Iroh out of the room.
Soon, the pair was crossing through the hatch leading into the main aviary where the zeppelins were stored. In the silence, Iroh's thoughts were so distracting; he didn't notice the shadow gently creeping at the edges of the hatch. Suddenly, it shook with massive force, and the Admiral and Iroh were thrown back onto the floor. Bolts shattered, and the floor began to creak under their weight.
"The floor is going collapse!" the Admiral cried, grabbing for dear life at the metal mesh besides them. Iroh shook his head quickly from the initial shock, and quickly thought of a plan. Grabbing the Admiral by the back of the shirt, he threw him to the entrance way, where it was stable. The floor groaned in response, and a few pieces broke and fell into the white-hot lava below. More metal tiles fell, and Iroh ran to the stone entrance, the floor falling right behind him. He jumped just as the last tile dropped from under him, and the Admiral pulled him to his feet.
"I bet it was one of those assailants!" the Admiral yelled in anger, though he could not hide his fear. Iroh shook in fear as well. These Shadowbenders were definitely capable of killing. He motioned for the Admiral to watch his back, and together they entered the aviary.
The place was eerily quiet, though far away they could hear fighting. Iroh took a step and bumped his foot against something. Looking down, Iroh leapt back in disgust. The carcass of the dead guard had been there for a while, and bugs crawled along his face with frenzy. Scaring away the bugs, he picked up the man and closed the man's eyes. He put him in one of the zeppelin catches, where he knew the guard would not be bothered. He turned around to speak to the Admiral, but when he looked, the man was gone. Maybe he left to fight? Iroh shook his head sadly. More like the Shadowbenders had claimed him.
Speaking of Shadowbenders, oddly one was approaching him. He could tell, because his clothes were different than any he had ever seen and the man had a smug look all across his face.
"So you are the great Dragon of the West." The man said with a hint of awe, "Never knew he'd be a wrinkly old man."
Iroh half-smiled at the man's insult "Looks can be deceiving. Don't play a fool when you don't have to be."
The Shadowbender laughed, "So you do have some wit old man! Maybe you won't be such a boring opponent after all."
"I aim to please." Iroh replied, and quickly shot a powerful focused blast at the man's face. He leapt aside and blasted at Iroh in return. Iroh quickly threw up fire to his side as a shield and shoved it in the same direction. The shadowbender sneered as the wall of fire grazed his side, and shot a giant bolt of shadow at Iroh's direction as Iroh shot lightning at the Shadowbender. The two bolts collided with the power of a supernova.
Chief Hakoda looked out over the ice-wall surrounding the Southern Water Tribe. The waterbenders behind him were anxious. Never had they seen a ship wave such a strange flag. At first they had thought it was another Fire Nation ship full with supplies, but once the rocks went firing, they knew it was an attack. The strangest part was that the projectiles were burning with a dark energy, something none of them could figure out. But they had no time to ponder, the ships were already landing, and the hulls were opening as clams would. Like a flood, troops charged out of the ships.
"For the Southern Water Tribe!" Hakoda cried, with the cheers behind him, he grabbed his spear set in the snow and charged at the invaders.
In the Northern Water Tribe, Chief Arnook looked out at the frigid waters of the North Pole, at the strange fleet heading for the gates. His advisor, sent from the Fire Nation to help rebuilding, watched in awe.
"How did they slip past the towers?" he asked.
"I don't know." Arnook replied, "The guards said they appeared right out of the shadows behind the towers, like they had been there for weeks."
He shook his head "I don't understand."
The advisor motioned for his firebenders to get into place. Arnook did the same for his warriors. The ships had landed, and the groans of the metal echoed throughout the city as the ships opened ugly metal maws, and hordes of troops came pouring out. The Water Tribe forces poured out as well in response, and black and blue and red clashed in a jumble of colors.
It would be a long battle.
The great General How looked at the great piece of machinery coming closer and closer to the wall of Ba Sing Se with worry. The thing had great arms, like a trebuchet, but also a drill head. It was a strange contraption indeed, and dangerous. It had not only killed, but mulched all the soldiers already flooding towards it. How couldn't remember the last time soldiers had been killed so quickly. Even more worryingly, the last scout's message, his last words actually, kept echoing within his skull:
"They aren't like us General. They bend the shadows around us like we would sand! They bend the evil of their hearts..."
How shuddered at the thought, but looking out, he knew the dying scout had been right.
"One way to finish this then." How muttered, and with a massive leap bounded down the wall and towards the machine.
Teo and the rest of the villagers on their gliders flew fiercely at the invaders, flanking them on the narrow cliffs they marched on. The shadowbender's retaliation was brutal, blasting them off their gliders and into the cold mountainside under them. Leading the shadowbenders was a sadist man of deathly glee, a ninja who pleasured in the pain of others caused by the two scythes he swung around.
"I am Diyu!" he cried, as his scythes cut and bit into the flying villagers around him, "And your pain shall be because of me! Feel the pain, feel it!"
Meanwhile, the gang was fighting at full force. Aang was flying around causing massive snow drifts that defeated platoons of shadowbenders and tanks, Katara right behind him on Appa. Jason and the Mechanist were on the ledge of the temple, Jason blasting shadowbenders with darkness and the Mechanist chucking peanut sauce bombs at the tanks. The rest of the gang flew with the villagers and helped their assault on the enemy's lines.
The shadowbenders fought back with incredible force. The tanks proved to be more than simple protective transports. When Shadowbending was forced through the crystals floating around the tanks, the blast became an immense inferno of darkness. Thus, the tanks became the focus of the attacks.
Aang himself flew at them bravely, making more than a few of the obsidian behemoths fall to pieces far below the cliffs they had travelled upon. But only luck had spared Aang from being stricken so far, and now luck had just turned away from Aang.
As Aang was attacking another tank, three positioned themselves behind him. Diyu grinned and called to the Avatar:
"They will call me the one who was finally able to slay you!"
And the tanks fired at Aang, the shadows in the inferno engulfing Aang.
At the Burning Bandits' base, there was also another attack heading its way. The shadowbenders had considered the Bandits an enemy considering they still wanted the Fire Nation to be the way it was. But they would never get there.
Leonard looked below at the strike force. It was suitable for their current task, but for him? Leonard snorted with laughter. They had as much chance as if they were fighting an earthquake, or a hurricane. With a laugh, Leonard leaped down in front of the group, a hundred men to be exact.
"Who are you?" The leader of the band of soldiers asked.
Leonard grinned, and unsheathed his sword. "I am your worst nightmare."
One or two of the other soldiers took a step back in fear, but the leader just laughed.
"It is a hundred against one. Do you really expect-"
The man eyes widened in horror as Leonard seared his throat as he charged, though it was not like it would matter, as in the next second the leader's head was sliced cleanly off his shoulders as Leonard combated the other soldiers. Leonard's blade became a destructive blur, slicing and dicing through many soldiers. Leonard's other hand became the sun, its fiery touch incinerating anyone in its way. Soon, the only ones left were the two soldiers that had the common sense to hide. Leonard nodded his head.
"I spared you two because you were smart not to oppose me. Now, flee back to your master and tell him about this. Tell him this is the fate of those who displease my master..."
Leonard couldn't help but laugh as the two scrambled away.
Pain and Hope
Aang screamed in pain as the blasts blanketed him in the searing pain. He seemed frozen in the air for just a second as the pain flared throughout his body, like swords stabbing him in every part of his skin.
And then he fell.
But Aang did not fall to his death. As he soared down unconscious, Appa and Katara swooped under him and caught him.
Diyu screamed in frustration and anger as Aang was caught in mid-air, and sent his scythes whistling through the air. If the fall wouldn't kill the Avatar, he would.
Katara screamed as the scythes streaked at them. Suddenly, she and Aang were thrown back in the saddle as Appa flipped onto his side and flew away. Appa roared in pain as he flew away.
"Appa!" Katara cried, and looked over at Appa's stomach. Ugly red gashes riddled Appa's fur, and Appa was breathing painfully. Katara let a tear fall, but regained her composure. She was not going to let Appa or Aang die.
Katara steered Appa towards the temple, but Appa's strength was fading. He was flying so low they would crash into the temple at the height they were flying.
"C'mon Appa, we got to make it!" Katara cried loudly, "Fly for Aang!"
Appa grunted softly. Suddenly, Katara was thrust face-first into the saddle as Appa used the last of his strength to shoot himself upwards using his airbending. Landing heavily on the temple ledge, Appa slid into the wall, and passed out in exhaustion and from his injuries.
Jason, on the ledge helping defend the temple, dodged and strifed the incoming shadow blasts from the tanks, blasting shadowbenders off the cliffs wherever he could. Also, when the injured flew down to heal, he would help them flee into the safety of the temple. A woman wearily landed unsteadily near Jason, her legs and torso splotched with red and grey spots from blood and dust. Jason helped her as she stumbled off her glider.
Suddenly, as Jason was helping the woman, a small child ran out from the temple, yelling "Mommy" at the top of his lungs. Jason tried to silence the boy and shoo him inside, but he wouldn't budge. "Look, you have to go now! Or else the bad guys will..." Jason started to say, but then an explosion blasted all three into the walls of the temple.
The world spun around in a dizzying dance as Jason got up slowly. Holding his head untill the spinning stopped, he looked around for the mother and the child, and twisted his head left, and then right, and then his heart froze and a lump of emotions choked his throat as he spotted the two cadavers of them. The little boy had been beheaded by the force of the blast, and the mother's body looked mangled and broken, like a broken doll thrown carelessly into the dirt.
Jason choked on words and tears as his eyes saw the images of the dead boy and mother, but not quite able to believe those images. Wordlessly, he began stumbling back, away from the death, the shame, the fear. Another blast found its mark, and Jason was only just able to scuttle away from the resulting blast. But Jason miss-judged how fast he was going, and to his shock his arms slipped off the edge and he started to fall off the ledge.
Jason felt a rush, like when a person has too much sugar, and all the emotions he felt rushed to his head. His heart ached, his head steamed, and he felt his emotions boil over and his vision turn dark red.
And let go.
Jason blasted shadow behind him, landing on the temple ledge. He looked out to the massive battle, his black eyes glinting as shadows and snow clashed together in the battle. Slowly, he made his way to the center of the ledge, shadow gathering in his palms. Streams of it flowed from the Temple, the crags, even the attacks of the shadow-benders were being drawn into Jason's hands.
At the center of the ledge, Jason gathered all the shadow into a large bulge, and with a yell expanded the shadow into a massive shimmering dark wall, making it larger and larger, untill it completely blocked the Temple from sight. With a grunt, Jason blasted even more shadow, and slowly the wall of darkness made its way through, pushing anything that stood against eventually over the side of the mountain. Shadowbenders scrambled to destroy or halt the wall, but it proved to be stronger than they, and soon they're screams could be heard as they fell off the cliffs and steppes of the mountain. Meanwhile, the villagers were flying as fast as they could upwards, avoiding the wall completely. Teo flew down for one more strike on a shadowbender, but inadvertently slapped Diyu with a gust of air. The wall of shadow almost on them, Teo streaked upwards to avoid it. Diyu glared at him with deadly red eyes.
"If I cannot have the Avatar's life, than this one's must do!" Diyu said, and thrust his scythes forward at Teo. He tried to dodge, but with the wall of shadow and the mountains limiting his maneuvering room, he wasn't able to get away in time. With a bone-chilling shatter, Teo's wheelchair was destroyed, and Teo screamed and plummeted down with the rest of the shadowbenders as the last of them were pushed off by the wall, which dissipated as Jason finally passed out from the strenuous attack.
The mountain was eerily silent after that, like it was in mourning. Most of the villagers were in mourning as well. Many people had died in the gallant defense of the Temple, and the foremost among them the Mechanist sobbed, his face red and tears streaming down his face like rivers. Only the strange sound of a gust of wind that shouldn't be there pulled the population's focus from the dead. The gust came from where the wall of darkness had disappeared, slowly getting louder and louder. Soon, a figure rose from the ground into the sky, supported only by the wind. The Mechanist and the rest of them looked at the figure amazed.
"It can't be....it must be a apparition, an illusion..." The Mechanist managed to choke out through his tears.
But it was not. Teo flew at the Temple with amazing grace and speed, as if he had invisible wings. He soared and twisted through the air, even though he was heavily cut and bruised. Only when he got close did the Mechanist see that his son was barely conscious. As he got closer to the Temple, Teo breathed a sigh of relief, and heavily landed on the ledge.
The Mechanist ran over to his son's side, holding him so tight not a thing in the world could separate them. Teo was only able to mutter a few words to his dad before passing out.
"Dad.....I....I can soar....like I always dreamed of....."
|Book One: Air|
|Visions - - - - - - - - - - - -|
For the collective works of the author, go here.