|More from MibuWolf||Action/Adventure/Drama||PG||Positive|
|Battle Looms Over Their Heads Like a Guillotine|
This chapter is a mini-chapter, released alongside the previous chapter.
They know their adventure draws to a close...
"Come now! Your moves are getting sloppy!"
Water splashed to the ground as Ishio deflected Hiraoka's attack. He grit his teeth at his teacher's remark, and quickly pulled a stream of water from the ocean to return the assault. In mid-air, Hiraoka grabbed the whip of water, solidified it into ice, and shattered the ice. Crystals fell around where the two were fighting. They were sharp, and cut through Ishio's flesh as they fell like rain.
The two had been training for hours, yet Ishio still kept his breathing steady to control his movements. He extended his hand and the crystals melted into rain, which he formed into another concentrated stream of water to lash out at his opponent. Just as before, Hiraoka froze the attack, but this time launched the ice at Ishio as tiny bullets. One found its mark in Ishio's shoulder and the Avatar crumbled to his knees.
Crimson dripped onto the snow. "Trying the same unsuccessful move again will not make it successful," Hiraoka remarked.
"We've been training practically endlessly for a week now," Ishio complained through clenched teeth. "And it's hard to focus when he's just sitting there watching us!"
They both turned to look at Captain Hai lounging nearby, sipping an exotic alcoholic beverage. "I'm surprised this isn't frozen," the pirate remarked before realizing that the two had stopped training.
"Come to think of it, what are you doing here?" The tribal chief inquired.
"Well, since our ship is currently lodged in the middle of your tribe, we thought it polite to leave it there rather than remove it and leave a gaping hole."
Neither of them bought this excuse. "Seriously, why are you here?" Ishio pressed.
"Your friends back in the O.W.L. asked that we make sure you have transportation after your training is done."
"So that's it."
"And they wanted us to make sure your training didn't go into their plans."
"Plans?" Ishio and Hiraoka repeated in unison.
Hai shrugged. "All I know is that we're supposed to cart you to Republic City tomorrow for some kinda battle royale."
Hiraoka turned to Ishio, and in an instant it seemed as though they had both forgotten about the pirate captain's presence. "If it's tomorrow, then you have to be serious about your training today, Ishio. You can Waterbend, but that doesn't mean you're a master yet."
"Fine," Ishio agreed grudgingly, "come at me again."
Whispers spread throughout the camp like a virus. Rumors that the Airbender who had tried to escape was starting a rebellion. He had become a public figure: though the guards would not let him out of his small hut, the words of his two friends had convinced everyone that he was their only hope. The gasoline was being poured across the camp, and in a day a single spark would cause the entire area to burst into flames.
It was recreation time, which for the past few weeks had meant time for Kiri and Tuzo to spread word of Haneul's leadership. Today, Kiri sat away from the crowds. An expression of concern painted her face, which Tuzo noticed and approached. He sat next to her, and mimicked her position.
"What's on your mind?" he asked.
"Yesterday... When I went in to talk to Haneul. He started coughing up blood."
"I see." Tuzo sighed and watched the prisoners' excited chattering. Both of them watched in silence.
After a few moments, Kiri elaborated, "The face of the revolution is sick. And it's in twenty-four hours."
"I know that's not why you're concerned." The Firebender's gaze did not shift as he practically cut into the Waterbender's soul.
"What do you mean?"
"You're not worried about the rebellion, you're worried about him. It's not disgraceful to worry about a friend whom you just discovered is fatally ill." He looked up in the sky and laughed. "You're wondering why he never told you. And you're wondering if he'll survive, if you two will be able to meet after this is all over, and if he'll ever man up and say his feelings."
"What?" Kiri blinked in disbelief at his sudden break into psychiatrist mode.
Tuzo grinned at the other and continued, "I have a teenage daughter, you know."
Her face flushed and she quickly tried to change the subject, "And what about you? What do you think about all this?"
"Well, I think that Haneul's damn stubborn, and even if he's dying he'll make sure that he can see this mess through."
"And that's it?"
"Yep. After this all over, I just want to see my daughter again. Whether he survives or not, I won't be meeting him again."
"So you're not some sort of super righteous person then? You've been pulling off that act for ages."
"No man is," Tuzo replied as he stood. He brushed off the seat of his trousers and continued, "But if you have kids, you'll know what it's like to focus on your family more than humanity. Now come along. We have preparations to make for tomorrow."
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