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Best Laid Plans is the sixth chapter of Book 2 of MightyBrit's fanon,, and the sixteenth chapter overall. It was originally called Desperate Measures, but the name was changed a couple of days before it was published to better reflect the content of the chapter.
|Best Laid Plans|
Avatar Zali, MightyBrit
Onboard Sokka's Skyship
The water wouldn't move.
Hydros had been staring at that water for nearly three days, but the water in the small glass by his bed would not even ripple at his thought. He closed his eyes and sighed, letting his head crash against the pillow. He waited for a couple minutes, relaxing and focusing on his Waterbending technique. In his mind's eye, he saw the water stream out of the glass and float in front of his face. He smiled broadly as it shifted from a sphere to a cube to a pyramid...
He snapped his eyes open quickly to catch a glimpse of the shifting water, but the glass of water lay perfectly still and motionless on the table by the side of his bed. "Move! Damn you, move!" screamed Hydros, lashing out with his fist. The glass shattered into a thousand pieces as his hand collided with it. Some shards sunk into his knuckles, the rest crashed to the floor along with the water inside, finally out of the glass.
The Back Room of the Jasmine Dragon
"Gah!" yelled Toph as she suddenly snapped back into consciousness. She sat bolt upright, sweat dripping down her face.
"Relax, my young friend," came Iroh's comforting voice. "You are fine."
"They drugged me! That archer cow drugged me!" Toph screamed.
"Yes, a quite powerful extract from a Shirshu's tongue," confirmed Iroh. "However, I know of an antidote. You will be fine."
"Is there anything that you don't everything about?"
Iroh thought about that for a second, then put his finger up and smiled in delight. "Ah! I know nothing of the ancient history of the Foggy Swamp Tribe."
Toph smiled weakly at the old man, who was still smiling broadly at his own ignorance. "Is the arrow still inside?"
"Yes, I was unable to reach the part that has broken off. Still, it is not in the way of anything important; best to let the wound heal around it."
"No," growled Toph. "She's not getting any victory at all in this." She pulled up her shirt to see the wound; it was grisly and black where the arrow had entered. She put her hand above the wound and slowly used her Metalbending to drag the arrowhead out of her. She grunted in pain, but within a few moments, the bloody tip of the arrow lay on the bed beside her. "Done. Now I can go."
"Toph," said Iroh sternly. "You have been shot and drugged within the last few hours. You still have an open wound."
"Then, burn it shut, Iroh."
"I told you, I cannot firebend, not anymore."
"Make an exception."
Iroh considered it for a moment, then heated up his fingers to a searing temperature with his bending. He gently touched her wound, cauterizing it shut with the burn it caused. "Please, Toph, you still need some rest. Give yourself time to heal."
"No time, old man," said Toph, grunting through the pain of the burn.
"They weren't after me, Iroh. They planned their aspect of the attack around me with the archers and the rooftops and my father, but they weren't after me. They were after Ursa."
"You mean, Mishi?"
"They're the same person, Iroh!"
"I have had the pleasure of knowing both Ursa and Mishi, but they are not the same person. Ursa was a desperate woman who lived her life in fear of one child and fearing for the other. She carried so much grief and pain and pent-up anger within her that it was a wonder she could stand it. Mishi, however, is an optimistic woman with the energy of a woman half her age; they could not be more different."
Toph thought about that for a second, sensing the wisdom in Iroh's words. She knew Iroh well now and while Sokka and Aang responded pretty well to her stubborn arguments, Iroh would not. She had to be logical, thoughtful and choose her words carefully. "It doesn't matter. Whoever she is now, Ursa is the one being targeted by these people and I made a promise to Zuko that no harm would come to her. She is no longer safe within the city. I have to take her somewhere else."
"I agree. Somehow, Azula has discov—"
"What? Azula's involved in all this? How? She's in prison!"
"Apparently not. She has followed Zhao's path and escaped through the Spirit World and back into ours."
"Great. Another freakin' body jumper. Just what we need."
"Where will you take her?"
"I don't know, but I think the safest place is with Sokka and Suki."
"I agree. Plus, they may have rejoined with Katara, who has the best chance of restoring Mishi's lost memories."
"Will her healing powers work on amnesia?"
"I don't know, but that does not matter as she can no longer use her abilities."
"Oh, yeah...Poor Katara...."
"Nevertheless, Katara is a natural at medicine and healing, even without Waterbending. She is the best hope we have."
"What about all that Mishi is a different person stuff?"
"She is, Toph. But, I am confident that restoring Ursa's memories will not change the person she has become without them."
Toph stood up, clutching her side in pain. "I hope you're right. I like her," Toph said, before leaving the room.
Iroh smiled gently as he began to clean up the mess made by Toph's presence. But he was quickly interrupted as Toph re-entered the room and pulled the man into a rather tight, gruff hug. She pulled away just as gruffly.
"Thanks," she said rather quickly before leaving the room completely.
On the Outskirts of Ba Sing Se
It had taken Xiani nearly four hours to get out of Ba Sing Se. Normally, it would have been so simple—she'd just target the loneliest looking guard and after some light flirting, a few bats of her long lashes and flicks of her auburn hair and she could have him betraying the whole Earth Kingdom at her suggestion.
But, not now.... Not after what that old man had done. Large white blisters were beginning to form in a curved line that mirrored her bowstring as she drew it back past her ear, and those blisters were surrounded by red sores and blackened, burned skin. She was hideous! A monster! Why would a man want to even look at her now, yet alone give her something for the pleasure?
She had used a black cloak to hide her face and finally managed to sneak under a cart of supplies as it left the city. Iroh would pay for what he'd done for her, for ruining her beautiful face. Him, his nephew, his Earthbender friend; they'd all pay for what they'd done to her perfect, beautiful face.
Somewhere Between the North Pole and Ba Sing Se
Aang nearly vomited, but managed to swallow it down. "Must you bring that stuff back into camp? Can't you just leave it out there?"
"What good would it do me out there?" said Diyi, trekking in from the forest, carrying a fresh kill over her shoulder. She dumped it down near the campfire they had set up. Aang nearly vomited again, but Zuko ignored it and calmly drank his tea as he sat staring into the fire.
"Man, I don't know what it is, but ever since I came through that breach into this world, I've just been starving." Diyi drew one of her sharpened metal rings and began slicing cuts of meat to eat. Aang turned away.
"Oh, you're worse than Sokka," he complained.
"Jeesh, for the greatest bender in the world, your stomach sucks," mocked Diyi. "He always like this?"
"Yup," answered Zuko, not really looking up. He thought he saw Mai's face looking back at him from the dancing flames.
"Want some?" she offered.
Zuko shook his thoughts back into reality. "Sure. Shall I cook it?"
"You can do that?"
"Firebending isn't just blasting fireballs out of your hands, you know," Zuko added. "Cooking steaks is a breeze. How do you want it?"
Diyi looked over and made eye contact with Aang. "Rare," she smiled at him, even though she was talking to Zuko.
Aang nearly threw up again. "I have to go get some air," he said, before jumping up into the treetops, out of sight.
"We're outside!" yelled Diyi after him with laughter. "And you're an Airbender!" She smiled at Zuko, expecting him to laugh along with her, but the Fire Lord sat tersely.
"You need to give him a break," he said very seriously, cutting Diyi's laughter short.
"What? Why? He's a—"
"He's a good person who's been shoved into a situation that he couldn't possibly anticipate. Remember, from his point of view, you were an infant about a month ago."
Diyi rubbed her eyes in frustration. "Yeah, I keep forgetting that."
"I know he's putting a lot of pressure on you right now, but he's doing it because he cares – about you, about the New Nomads, about everyone."
"Well, he is the Avatar."
"It's nothing to do with the fact that he's the Avatar or even that he's an Air Nomad, it's just because he's Aang. He makes the world a better place, just by being in it and by doing what he chooses to do. It won't be long until you realize that being under his wing is the best place you could possibly be."
"What are you? His fan club?"
Zuko smiled at her. "I used to be his enemy; now I'm his best friend. Or at least, he's mine. I'd wager he has more friends than I do. Now, do you want this steak or not?"
"Yeah. Hook me up," Diyi said, realizing that the conversation had ended.
Zuko took one of the slabs of meat from Diyi and held it flat on the palm of his hand. He reached effortlessly for the part of himself that allowed him to Firebend, so that he could heat up his skin to searing temperatures and cook the meat.
Suddenly, flames leapt from Zuko's hands, creating a pillar of fire a few feet high, bathing their small campsite in an orange glow. Zuko yelled briefly in shock, but Diyi put out her hand, creating a vacuum around the flames with her bending. They flickered out and died within moments.
"What was that?" cried Diyi, snatching back the steak from Zuko, which was now burnt and crumbling. "I thought you were supposed to be good at this Firebending stuff!"
Zuko stared in confusion at his own hands. "I don't understand. It was just simple heat; there shouldn't have been flames. I've done this a thousand times!"
"Something's wrong with Firebending," came Aang's voice as he leapt back down to join them. "I've noticed it too. It's...easier."
"Uncle will know."
"Good thing we're heading to Ba Sing Se then."
"Wait, we're going to Ba Sing Se?" said Diyi, instantly full of excitement. "I thought we were heading to your Air Temple."
"Ba Sing Se is only a small diversion and it'll be good for you to be exposed to all of our world's cultures before I take you back home," said Aang.
"No complaints from me," said Diyi. "I have a feeling that as soon as I get to your Temple, I'll never be able to leave again."
Aang walked and placed a hand on Diyi's shoulder. "I'm hoping that once you get there, you won't want to."
Diyi looked up at him and his considerate smile. She bowed her head down low. "I'm sorry. Guess I've been a little cranky since I had to leave...I mean, I know I never belonged there, but I grew up there and...and I miss it. Fish out of water syndrome, I guess."
"I grew up over a hundred years ago, Diyi. I get it, better than anyone else around here anyway."
The young airbending girl smiled to herself. Zuko was right, she thought.
"How did you put out the flames?" asked Zuko, interested.
"It's a trick Tiankong taught me. Sucks the air out of an area, kills fires, makes animals and people fall unconscious as well," Diyi answered.
"I've never seen you do that," Zuko said to Aang.
"It's not something I've ever even thought of. I doubt any of the monks would have actually," said Aang. "It's a little too aggressive for the Air Nomads."
"What?" complained Diyi, pulling away from Aang's hand. "You ashamed of me again?"
Aang smiled understandingly. "Impressed, actually." His smile grew, turning into excitement. "Hey, if you teach me that, I'll teach you my air scooter trick." A quick burst of air came from underneath him and Aang was floating on a swirling sphere of air.
Suddenly, Diyi looked excited too.
Mishi's Bakery in Ba Sing Se
Tears fell freely from Mishi's eyes, dripping into the dough she was kneading with her hands. Behind her, Toph entered the bakery without knocking, but Mishi didn't turn around.
"You're taking me away, aren't you?" Mishi said, still crying.
"I don't have a choice, Mishi. I made a promise to keep you safe."
"This is all because of who I really am, isn't it? Because of who I used to be?"
"Yeah," said Toph bowing her head low. "I'm really sorry."
"You know who I am, don't you?"
"Are you going to tell me?"
"Only if you want me to."
Mishi dried her eyes with her sleeve. She turned around to face Toph, a determined look in her wet eyes.
"When do we leave?"
"As soon as you say good-bye to your husband."
The Cult's Hidden Base
Zhao stared into the mirror and saw his brother's face stare back at him. "So, you let a completely powerless group of Water Tribe ingrates escape your grasp?"
"I do apologize, sir," said Shaoshang, stepping into the reflection, so Zhao could see him. Zhao didn't react or turn around. "At the climax of the battle, someone was able to summon a wave of water that made us unable to pursue the escaping skyship."
"Impossible. There are no more waterbenders."
"I'm sorry, sir, but there's at least one."
Zhao rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Sokka?"
"I didn't see him, though I engaged his student. I'm sure he was there, and I'm sure whoever this last waterbender is, he is with Sokka."
Zhao was silent; he was feeling his face and watching his brother perform the same actions in the mirror in front of him. "If there is one last waterbender out there, he must be found and killed."
Shaoshang smiled, showing off his pointed teeth. "I'll leave immediately."
"No, you won't," Zhao snarled at him, finally turning around to face him. "This is a job for a true firebender, not a failure like you."
"But, sir..." complained Shaoshang with a look of pure displeasure on his face.
"You are to wait here for Azula and her squad. When she returns in her new body, she will need your assistance. I will go after this new waterbender myself."
"How will you possibly find them?"
"I won't. I'll let them come to me."
"I've spent enough time parading around in my crippled brother's body. It's time to get a new one."
"Sir, it's only a bad leg, you can survive it. Besides, you have no more brothers. No more direct family whose forms you can use!"
"Actually, there is one, but that is of little consequence since I'm not going after him. I'm going after my body."
"You heard me Shaoshang. I'm going back through the breach and taking back what was stolen from me. I'm getting my body back," Zhao said, a twisted smile crossed his face as he clenched both his fists in anger.
The Skyship's Medical Ward
"I thought all healing was off. No waterbenders, no healers, right?" said Hydros, a little shocked.
"Yes," said Katara. "That's true, but Liang here is a special case."
"He's what? Twelve? How come masters like you, Pakku and me lose our bending and this child gets to keep his?"
"It's complicated, Hydros, but it's not important."
"Yes, it is important! How come he can bend and I can't?" Hydros screamed, sitting up in his bed. He cried out and clutched his side in pain as he rose from the bed, his broken ribs hurting him.
Katara ran up to him and helped him to slowly lie back down. "We'll talk about this later. Right now, Liang is going to heal you."
Liang stepped up to the side of Hydros's bed. "Are you sure about this, Katara? I've been able to do small cuts and bruises, not anything this big."
"Trust me, Liang," Katara said in a smooth, reassuring voice. "You're a natural; I haven't met a faster learner since Aang. You are more than able to do this."
Liang nodded timidly. "I'll need some water."
"There should be some right here," Katara said, looking to the table next to the hospital bed, before noticing the smashed glass and spilled water over the floor. "Oh."
"It fell," defended Hydros.
"It's fine. I can get it from the floor," Liang said, sweeping his hand and making the water flow upwards into a small sphere.
Katara noticed Hydros's envious scowl, but ignored it. "All right, Liang, wrap it around your hands like before."
Liang nodded and did as he was instructed. He gently laid his hands on Hydros's stomach, making the older man flinch at the chill of the cold water. Liang closed his eyes and concentrated, feeling the water flow around the wounds on Hydros's chest, then commanding it to push the snapped bones back into place.
Hydros grunted, but within moments, his ribs were fixed, as was his lung. Even the scrapes on his knuckles from the shattered glass faded from his skin. He sat up in his bed and, for the first time in a long time, he didn't ache all over. He looked up at his healer. "Thank you," he grunted.
Liang looked exhausted. "Anytime." The water around his hands fell to the floor with a splash.
"Great job, Liang," said Katara proudly, checking Hydros over, just in case. "There's absolutely nothing wrong. You're fully healed, Hydros." She pulled up a chair. "Sit down, Liang. I'm going to go check on the other patients."
Katara smiled at Liang one last time before walking away, letting her long, orange and blue dress trail behind her. Liang slumped down in the chair, closing his eyes in exhaustion.
Hydros stood up and flexed his muscles, smiling broadly. He felt alive for the first times in weeks. He could finally be useful here, and finally take his revenge on Zhao and the rest of the Cult for killing Yue and taking away his ship, his best friend and his powers.
Just as he thought of his powers, there was the sound of a drip, ever so slight, but Hydros heard it and looked for the source. He looked down and saw the puddle of water that Liang had dropped. There was a single ripple of water drifting its way through the puddle.
Hydros dared to hope and reached out his hand. The puddle shook, its surface rippling violently, before a slow, deliberate stream of water stretched out of the puddle. His eyes widened in shock and joy.
Suddenly, Liang grunted loudly, gripping his head in pain. Hydros let the water fall back to the floor.
"You okay?" asked Hydros gruffly.
"Yeah. Got a headache all of a sudden," said Liang, getting up. "I'm going to go back to my room. I'm glad you're better, Hydros." He left the room, still clutching his hurting head.
Hydros returned to the puddle, trying to make it move again. But, the water had gone back to being stubbornly motionless at his thoughts.
"Where's Liang?" asked Katara as she came back into the room.
"I made the water move, Katara! I bent the water!"
"Look, I know what you're going through, Hydros. I miss my powers too, but they're gone. None of us can waterbend anymore."
"But I did! I just can't anymore... I could only do it when Liang was here..." Hydros's voice got quieter as the realization dawned on him.
"I think maybe you should get back into bed. Get some rest. Where did you say Liang went?"
"He wasn't feeling well. He went back to his room," said Hydros, lost in own thoughts. "Where is that, by the way?"
"Right down the hall on the left," Katara said quickly. "I better go check on him."
"I think you should just let him rest, Katara. He did something pretty impressive today."
"Maybe you're right," Katara agreed as she left the room. "I'll see you later, Hydros."
"Yeah. See you later," he said quietly. His fist was clenched, his knuckles turning white.
None, as of yet. Please let me know what you think! The next chapter, Healed, But Broken, will be released sometime within the next two weeks. I hope you enjoyed it!
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Child of Destiny Chapters|
Book 1: Fear
The First Airbender - Stolen - Sharks and Sea Serpents - Asylum Seeker - The Swordmaster of Kyoshi Island - Cold Snap - Due North - Better to Have Loved and Lost - Wrath of the Blackened Blade - Water's Fall
Book 2: Anger