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|Aang and Shuo|
Avatar: The World's Fate
"What... what do you mean?" Aang inquired, his heart pounding. What could Roku mean? All the Airbenders he knew were kind, good-hearted and caring. Was there an Air Nomad that had actually made him sad?
"Think, Aang. He was one of the boys you used to play with, and he used to make you very sad. Actually, his behavior was one of the reasons that made you leave..." Aang tried to think, closing his eyes to concentrate. Who could that boy be? He had left because he was the Avatar, and nobody could make him feel worse about it at the time. But... But wait! He found it! That... that silly boy who used to boss him around! Yes, of course, it all started to come back to him now!
Two years before becoming an Airbending Master, Aang had seen Shuo and some friends of his playing a new game in a courtyard of the Southern Air Temple. Aang had approached the older students to see what they were doing. When he was standing by them, he watched their moves carefully. They were moving their hands circularly quickly while standing at one foot and created an air circle, which they threw into a big round rock and tried to move the stone for the longest distance they could. Shuo saw Aang standing there and turned towards him.
"Hey! What are you staring at?" he asked Aang.
"I just wanted to see that new game."
"Well, it is too difficult for you to play. Now, go away, little one."
"I bet I can do it better than you can!" Aang declared before he could stop himself.
"Oh really? You think you are so clever? Go on, then. Show us," Shuo barked, and his friends turned to watch Aang.
"Well, you haven't even shown me the moves! How do you think I'll do it if I don't know how?"
"You don't need us to, Sifu Aang," one of Shuo's friends remarked with an ironic smile. Aang felt his anger rising and, determined to show them how much better he was, tried to remember Shuo's moves. It seemed pretty easy. He balanced on his right foot, bent forward, and started moving his palms circularly. Okay. Everything is good for now. The circle's ready and now I... throw it to that rock over there? Or to this one? Spirits, I should have thought of this before. Okay, I'll go with the grey one. Aang threw the air circle and hit the grey rock, which flew ten feet up in the sky and landed with a loud SPLASH! in a nearby fountain. Clearly proud of himself, Aang turned to Shuo, his rock had moved a lot.
Puffing out his chest, he crowed triumphantly, "See? I can easily play that game."
"No you can't," Shuo answered sharply. "This is not right. You should do it the other way. And you hit the wrong rock."
"No I didn't," Aang insisted.
"Yes you did," Shuo said. "He did, didn't he, guys?" His friends nodded.
"Totally," they reiterated mechanically.
"Whatever." Aang shrugged and walked away. Shuo is just bugging me, Aang thought. I must not lose my confidence because of him. But I did it better than him! Why won't he admit it?
He was playing airball with his friends, and he was on Shuo's team. The score was 9-9, and the ball was approaching him. It was his turn to make a move. If he scored, they won the game.
"Come on Aang! Score! Give it your best shot!" Shuo yelled. Now all the members of his team were shouting at him. I can do it, Aang thought. Though he was generally considered the team's star in airball, but the pressure everyone was putting on him was too much even for him. He didn't want to hear the offending comments of his team if he missed that goal. There was a boy in his team called Annuah, and when someone tried to blame him for their loss he would defend himself so furiously that even Shuo would leave him alone. Aang always wished he could be like Annuah too.
The ball was heading towards him, and he took a big breath. He raised his hands and balanced on his left foot, throwing his head backwards; Just as the ball was about to make contact, Aang threw his body forward, and a powerful air blast slammed into the ball, but instead of sending it to the other side of the field and into the other team's goalpost, the ball flew out of the field and away to the Dormitory. Aang couldn't believe it: He had never sent the ball out of the field. Eever. The game ended with the whistle, and Shuo came running towards him, yelling.
"SPIRITS! YOU IDIOT! YOU SILLY LAZY WORM! HOW COULD YOU BE SO USELESS? I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVE YOU IN MY TEAM! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, AANG! IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU ARE WORSE THAN ANY AIRBENDER THAT'S EVER BEEN! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF! YOU HAVE DISHONORED EVERYONE ON YOUR TEAM! NOW GO AWAY!" Shuo shrieked, and, his cheeks burning, Aang fled the field in embarrassment, pretending to ignore the heads turning as he passed the fields to get to the changing rooms, promising to himself that he would never, ever play airball again.
It was a day after learning he was the Avatar, and the only thing he wished for was that things would go back to normal. He went to the sunny main courtyard to play with his friends, wishing they didn't know who he was.
"Hey guys! What are you playing?"
"We invented a game with the air Scooters!" his friend Anil announced proudly.
"Great!" Aang said and quickly created an air scooter, but the others jumped off theirs at once. "Guys, what's wrong?" he asked. Shuo came forward to explain. "Well, now that you're the Avatar, it would not be fair for any team to have you with them." Aang found that ridiculous. Though Shuo's usual condescending tone wasn't present, as he likely feared the mighty Avatar, it was clear he still didn't like Aang nor tried to hide it.
He must have talked the others into not letting me play, Aang realized with a start. "Okay. It doesn't matter," he mumbled, trying not to let the others realize he was about to cry. He left the courtyard with heavy steps and stumbled back to his room, his limbs leaden, his head reeling. Why? He was already miserable enough. Ever since he had been told the truth, he had harbored the tiny hope inside him that he would be able to go back to his old life. But no. Not anymore. Flinging himself onto his simple bed, he buried his face in his soft pillow, the hot tears forming a circular pool of grief. He was trapped in a lonely life he hadn't chosen. Why? He didn't mind the pain. He didn't mind the sadness. He didn't mind the depression. He didn't mind the fact he was tired. All he wanted to know was why. Why was he the Avatar? Why him and not someone else? Why did he have to learn it so soon? He had to leave. Away from everything that had to do with his life as an Air Nomad. And it was Shuo who gave the final blow.
"You mean Shuo?" Aang inquired quizzically, amazing. "How could that be? There is no way he survived the genocide! Even if he did, he would be dead by now. And where would he even learn Willbending?"
Roku inclined his head. "My theory is, Aang, that he survived the genocide."
"What do you mean?" Aang asked, blinking.
Avatar Roku inhaled. "Well, listen, and we will see if you agree. When the Fire Nation came to destroy the Temple, Shuo left quickly, probably with his glider. The next few months he lived in various places: Caves, trees, near rivers, and so on. At some point he met Skalan, a spirit friendly with Zuphokkang, who at that point was looking for a partner to help him gain more power. Skalan talked to the greater spirit about Shuo and how arrogant he was, but Zuphokkang saw strength and power in the boy and accepted him as his student. Shuo excelled at Willbending and Energybending, but he never told Zuphokkang about his nationality or Airbended in front of him. You see, Aang, he had a plan.
"He pretended to be Zuphokkang's right hand man, but in reality he was waiting for the right moment to make his move and create Airbenders. About a year ago, Zuphokkang and Shuo began to cooperate with the Dai Li, and started the plan to aid the anti-benders. For example, some of the more rebellious and determined Earthbenders were not brainwashed but Willbended.
"However, Zuphokkang had other plans. He pretended to be unaware of Shuo's scheme, because he knew that some benders would be eliminated. The anti-benders would take care of the untaught Airbenders, as well as the others. Zuphokkang planned to recruit Azula, and eliminating the Dai Li would be child's play for them; afterwards, he would have to take her and Shuo out, but he wasn't worrying about that at the point. Now that the Dai Li was getting ready for the release, Shuo found it was the perfect moment to get his plan to work."
Aang blinked. "Everything sounds logical, but there is one thing I can't understand... How did Shuo live for so long? I mean, I was frozen... What about him?" he asked skeptically.
"Unfortunately, despite all of our research, itis impossible to find out how he did it. He would have to be a spirit to achieve that," Roku explained, shaking his head, "but he has in a human body living in our world and bis ending perfectly..." They both stayed silent for several minutes. At length, the previous Avatar spoke: "I think that you should share these things with your friends."
"Yes, I'll do that..." Aang said shakily, his mind reeling from everyone he had been told, and he stood up, closed his eyes, concentrated, and opened them to find himself sitting cross-legged in the back of the cave.
He rose to his feet and walked slowly back to his friends, who were discussing the possibility of making fiftymore C-Feelers.
"Aang!" Katara called loudly, turning around, "it's been almost two hours! Where have you been?!"
"Uh-oh" Sokka murmured "I smell new problems..."
Aang sighed. "Roku explained why all these benders have been dying," he started, telling them about the conversation. "And now the Dai Li is ready to release the anti-benders, and we have to stop a surviving Airbender who is trying to regenerate my people." Aang couldn't hold back a smile with the words "a surviving Airbender". He was happy he wasn't the last one anymore,; though he had hoped this day would come, whenever he had imagined himself finding an Airbender from his past alive, he had never thought it could be Shuo of all people.
And now Aang would have to fight that Airbender.
Strangely, he realized he was afraid. When he had been trying to stop the Fire Nation, Aang always had known he had an ability none else possessed; now, knowing that Airbending would be used against him, he found himself to be quivering with fear. As well...there was something terrifying and wrong about the last two Airbenders in the world fighting each other to blood, but Aang knew that he was the only one able to stop the madness without taking Shuo's life. Unfortunately, the fact their relationship hadn't been the friendliest in the past wasn't going to help him save the world without losing his life during the process...
"I think we need a plan," Sokka suggested, and a wave of nods swept the room. "Now, my idea is: Pathik, Iroh, Hama and all the C-Feelers will go to Ba Sing Se and try to stop the anti-benders. Remember, the more agents we kill, the better. Getting rid of the Dai Li is more than I can hope for at the moment, but let's try to weaken them, okay?"
The Avatar shook his head. "Sokka, no one deserves to have his or her life taken." Sokka rolled his eyes. "That's one of the reasons why you aren't going to Ba Sing Se. You, Katara, and I will go after Shuo with Appa."
"Hey! What about me?" Toph interrupted.
"Toph, as an Earthbender," he mediated, "it'd be better if you went to Ba Sing Se with the others."
She crossed her arms and snorted. "I'm not stepping into Ba Sing Se if I'm not allowed to burn it down!"
"Okay, calm down; you can come with us, but there's a lot of flying ahead, so be prepared!" Sokka told her. "Now, finding Shuo will be very hard, so, any help we can use?" He now turned to Pathik and Hama. The guru sighed.
"I think you should take a C-Feeler with you," he said finally. "He would be able to spot the Willbending."
Katara tilted her head in thought. "We would need someone very powerful..."
"We would need Suki," her brother announced determinedly.
"Sokka, I don't know if-" Aang started, but Hama interrupted.
"Suki is ready," the Waterbender affirmed, smiling. "She is the best C-Feeler we have created. Take her, and good luck."
Sokka clapped his hands. "Okay, great. Now, we have to learn how much time you have till the anti-bender release."
"We will take care of that. We are leaving right away, without the C-Feelers, and we will come back for them when we are ready for the attack," Hama said.
"Better hurry up and leave now. It is a long, long way to Ba Sing Se!" Katara said.
Hama laughed. "No, we will be there in about two minutes if we start right now."
"But... how?" the girl asked.
"It is an Energybending move," the Bloodbender expounded. "You travel from the one place to another quickly just with the power of positive energy. It is quite hard though: You must visualize your destination in your head and you will go there. So, we are leaving." On that note, she stood up and motioned to her fellow Energybenders. She, Pathik, and Iroh united their palms and disappeared in a rain of purple sparkles.
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