|By Omashu Rocks||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Omashu Rocks||G-PG13||positive|
|Same Walls, Different Secrets|
"I think we made it made it far enough," stated Kaeta. "We can probably rest here."
"Wait!" shouted Berani. "I just realized we left without Bo!"
"That's fine. Pumi can carry us by himself," with that response, Pumi lifted his head and made a confused noise.
"But I made friends with Bo," she insisted.
"How can you befriend an ostrich horse?"
Brek wasn't paying attention to their frivolous argument. He was examining nearby tracks. "Hey guys, I think these are train tracks. There might be a station nearby! Guys? Guys!"
They stopped arguing and gave him some attention.
"So what?" asked Kaeta.
"So we might be able to get to Ba Sing Se faster, that's what."
Kaeta simply shrugged and the three of them agreed to trudge up beside the track to find a station. After a short saunter, they found one. They spoke to some rude people inside and learned that a train would be coming by soon on its way north. The group was relieved. They bought tickets and, when the train came, struggled to put Pumi in a cage in the animal car. Finally, they boarded. Unfortunately, in order to get to the capital, the trip contained a transfer, followed by another, and another, and another, and one more.
Naturally, they were sick of trains when they had to board the monorail from the outer wall into the city, but they entrained that one as well. This time, the train didn't have a car for animals, so Brek made a deal with the zookeeper of the Ba Sing Se zoo near the outer wall. The zookeeper would pay Brek one copper piece for every hour Pumi stayed at the zoo.
"How'd you convince the zookeeper to agree to that?" asked Berani.
"Eh, I might have told him that we'd be leaving later tonight." The others laughed.
"Speaking of night," started Brek with a yawn, "it's almost dinner time. Let's find a restaurant when we get off the train. Then we can look for a place to stay."
The team got off of the monorail at a beautiful station in the city's middle ring. They strolled around past a few houses, a pond, a fountain with candle-lit lights, and some tea shop called the Jasmine Dragon.
As they walked down a less busy street, Kaeta whispered into Brek's ear, "Who do you think they are?" Brek turned his head and saw a man and a woman dressed in uniforms that consisted of black tops with a gold outline, black pants, black boots, and metal handcuffs attached to long, rolled up chains on their waists that had been painted gold. Below the left shoulder was the Earth Kingdom symbol in white lines with black background.
"I don't know," he replied suspiciously. "Let's turn down here."
They began to make a left turn into a narrow alley when the woman spotted them.
"Hey! You there! Stop!" She forced her palms forward, and the handcuffs sped from her waist toward Brek. He quickly formed a rock gauntlet around his arm and punched the chains out of his way. Then he punched in her direction, launching the gauntlet at her. The friends ran away through the alley.
The woman kicked the gauntlet to smash it, while the man flung himself into the air via earth column. He landed on a rooftop and shot two metal fists at Berani, who ducked just in time. Kaeta used water from a puddle to trip the man with a water whip. He fell off the roof and met the blade of Berani's katana. Brek noticed the woman sharply turning the corner into the alley and attacking with two metal fists of her own. He protected his friends using an earth wall. The woman launched herself at the wall, clung to it, and sped up the side. She leaped over and landed on an ice spike.
Without stopping to catch their breath, the team sprinted across the alley until they were too tired to run.
While passing a small building, they could hear some whispering. When they looked to see what it was, the whispering stopped. Each of them had the feeling that they were being watched, and then they heard louder noises.
"Open the door," said one man.
"Are you crazy? Hush up." whispered a woman.
"They're kids. Do you really think they're Bao Hu Zhe Agents?" The man opened the door to the small building and looked at the children.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded.
Brek was flustered when he tried to explain. "We're just visiting and we walked by and, uh we-"
"Come inside." They obeyed without hesitation and entered a small room full of people in rugged clothing. And elderly woman offered them some bread.
"Hi," greeted Berani. She received no response, just stares.
"What are you meeting for?" asked Brek.
"We're plotting. If the important figures in our nation won't agree to democracy then we'll take out the King ourselves. He abuses his power and we're sick of the monarchy!"
"But why is this meeting so secret?" questioned Berani.
The man stared at the group as if judging. He wasn't the most pleasant man to be around. "The King is very cautious about dealing with these talks of democracy. If you talk about it publicly, you'll be arrested and killed the same day. He uses the Bao Hu Zhe to command complete control of us citizens. It's oppressive."
A very plump woman cut in. "The Bao Hu Zhe are supposed to be the guards. The King says that they're on the side of the people and that they protect us from threats like the Isha, but he really used them to silence anyone to talks about democracy."
"These agents, are they the ones in the black uniforms?" Brek asked.
"The very ones," answered the man. He paused. "Did you see them on your way here?"
Brek didn't want to answer.
"Get out!" he ordered in hushed tone. "Get out now!"
The three friends were ushered out of the room, and the door was locked behind them. They were terrified as they made their way down the rest of the alley. They had almost made it back into a busy part of town when Berani was yanked backwards out of her friends' view. They whipped their heads around to see an agent grabbing her and covering her mouth. Before Brek or Kaeta could react, they too were pulled by chains. Brek felt his mouth being covered by a metal hand as his wrists were bound by metal handcuffs. In matter of seconds, they were thrown into the back of a truck.
The Ba Sing Se agents, The Bao Hu Zhe, are named after the Chinese word for "protectors". They are NOT the Dai Li.
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