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The Straw Hat
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Avatar: New Universe





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The Stampede

As things were being decided, Aang and Starfire finally managed to find a good place for their boat to stop. They had been sailing for a full 24 hours, as sandfish swam and breached the sand every once and awhile, but not bugging them though which was good. The heat was no longer as troublesome as it was while they were flying. Not only because of the healing water, but also they could save their energy if something bad were to happen.

The place they stopped at seemed out of place in a desert; it looked like a fishing town honestly. But it beat more traveling and they needed to stop so they decided to anchor here. The town they stopped at looked quite friendly enough. But still Aang and Starfire kept on their toes around here. This was only temporary and they would just get what they needed - in this case some food and a map.

"Okay Starfire. Just relax, let me handle things here, 'kay?" Aang suggested.

"Sure Aang," Starfire replied. They both walked around, hoping they would look normal. However everyone looked WAY different compared to them. The town looked a bit odd too, basically a canyon with slots for floors and homes with the large roof as huge sheets for shade at the top. Oh well. At least the people looked the humans anyway. They all wore desert nomad cloths, making Aang and Starfire stand out like a sore thumb... at least that would've been the case if they didn't have any desert nomad cloths on their boat.

Aang gave some tips for Starfire on disguises, since he had plenty more experience with hiding out than she did. But most of the advice Starfire, inside, didn't want to do. She had to though, since Aang insisted they not draw attention towards themselves.

Starfire was getting a little nervous. Usually she could fly above the crowds easily, but walking through was getting rough for her. Luckily there was a lot of room since the thing called 'cars' hadn't been invented yet.

"Aang? Are you fully right on what your doing?" Starfire shyly asked.

"Don't worry, I've done this many times. Just relax, and let me handle the talking. All you have to do is calm down and follow," Aang assured her. Starfire felt better after that and didn't bug Aang much. But as they were walking through, Starfire glanced over on the ground and saw something that piqued her interest. Aang was talking to a merchant about a map, so Starfire walked over to what she saw. It was a straw hat, like one a farmer would wear. It was made out of golden stems of straw and had a red band around the base of the hat.

Lovely hat, she thought. She picked it up on a whim and replaced her desert hat with the straw hat. It felt quite comfy on her head as she smiled. It was now that Aang had bought the map and noticed the straw hat.

"Where did you get that?" Aang asked, pointing to her hat.

"This? I found it just now. Does it look good?" she asked.

"Well it's nice. But are you sure it didn't belong to anyone? It would be stealing if it does," Starfire got a bit worried. Suddenly she wasn't so happy about finding the hat anymore.

"Don't worry. We'll look around and maybe we'll find whoever owns this," Starfire happily agreed and they started looking.

For most of the day, they spent it on looking to see if someone owned the hat in the town. Most of the people they asked said no, but one man gave them a lead, saying he saw a young teenager come into town with that hat. But that was it.

It was around late afternoon, and still no luck.

"Friend Aang? Are you sure someone even is locating their straw headgear?" Starfire asked.

"Relax Starfire. Well find out who owns this soon enough. Maybe in here," Aang said. They both were standing in front of another area of the town. It looked like somewhere to eat at but before they got in, suddenly someone was thrown outside, missing Aang and Starfire by inches as he landed off a foot or two away.

"Oh my! You alright?!" Starfire gasped. The kid got up from the dirt. He appeared to be wearing a unique outfit of red short sleeve, blue shorts and sandals. He got very ticked, rolled up his sleeve and ran back inside...he suddenly turned around after realizing Starfire had the straw hat.

"Give me that!" He snapped, grabbing the hat from her.

"Your hat, sir?" Starfire asked as he adjusted his hat right.

"Yep! Name's Luffy. Where'chu find it?" the kid asked. Before Starfire or Aang can answer, Luffy was reminded of the tussle inside when a chair was thrown outside.

"Excuse me," Luffy said, cracking his knuckles as he ran back inside. Aang and Starfire were about to run in but suddenly a group of men - bandits by the looks of it - ran out and away from the two. Aang and Starfire nearly was knocked onto the ground as Luffy walked out with a victory smile on his face.

"Whoa...that's impressive," Aang said. Luffy laughed in his prime as he helped them up. After that, Aang looked down at his feet and saw a piece of paper with an add on it...for the Starlight Fighting Championship.

"What's this?" Aang asked.

"I dunno. Looks cool though," Luffy said. It said for the fighting championship of a week long battle royal, different groups of different fighters from around the world. As the verity goes, it's full of it...but the award was quite a shock... five apprentices/slaves that the winner can do whatever they want with. Aang wasn't sure who it is but Aang wasn't one to see this happen.

He quickly looked over the new map and got an idea on where it is. It was just another, yet longer travel through the great desert. With his boat it might take a good two days at least if things go well. He would normally fly but both he and Starfire figured it's too dangerous as they nearly became food for the sandfish.

"Man, I hope things work ou,." Aang thought aloud as he looked the map over. Starfire then got an idea.

"Excuse me? Friend Luffy? Are you heading for this event?" Starfire asked. Luffy turned around, hands behind his head nonchalantly.

"What event?"

"This one. This 'Starlight Fighting Championship'," Starfire then handed him the poster. Luffy looked it over with the paper in one hand. He had only heard of this and never really been to one himself. But judging by where it was, it was on his way.

"Pretty much, why?"

Before Aang can say anything, Starfire popped the question...she wanted Luffy's help in traveling through the desert!

"Excuse me? Didn't you come in with your own ship?" Luffy asked bluntly.

"Well...yea...but, uh.." Aang quieted down as he asked Star, "Starfire, why did you ask?!"f

"I thought it would help us out!" Star replied quietly. Luffy just sighed.

"Eh. Whatever, you can come but doesn't mean the crew will treat ya all friendly like, get it?" Luffy said. Starfire was very happy but Aang wasn't exactly sure about this. What other choice was there, honestly? They didn't plan on keeping their boat anyway.

Unaware to them, a set of eyes were watching them from afar. He gave a confident grin and slithered back out of sight.

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