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Bitter Empire
Bitter Empire
Chapter information
Series

Better World

Chronicle

New Politics

Chapter

6

Written by

SuperFlash101

Editor(s)

The 888th Avatar

Release date

August 22, 2009

Chronology
Last chapter

Aftermath

Next chapter

Spare the Innocent

"Bitter Empire" is first chapter of the New Politics chronicle from the hit story, Avatar: Better World, and the sixth overall. The chapter surrounds the vicious murder of a Construction Committee crewman, Methius. Aang is forced to deal with the event through a political meeting, but he blames himself for the murder and is outraged that he let it happen.

"Bitter Empire" used several different literary references from different literature, such as poems and the Bible. Minor characters were introduced to employ the plots, which was a gradual thing SuperFlash wanted to use as he felt it would give a unique touch to the story. Zuko was given a larger role as he was generally more of a background character SuperFlash was unable to give a major part to originally, while Aang was meant to be less "angsty" and have more of his original personality.

Author's Note

Introducing the next chronicle, "New Politics!" You'll get the same action, the same spine-chilling dialogue, the same intense battles, etc., but with several new twists, new characters, new events, and an event that will leave you speechless! Well, two events that will leave you speechless. Okay, a lot of events will leave you speechless. :P This will give you a taste/preview of what's yet to come and stuff. Enjoy and review!!!!

Content

Full Moon Bay, Sunrise

A week had passed since the intense battle between Aang and Yino. The reconstruction committee had speedily reconstructed the Upper Ring to living conditions, though it still was in construction and those living in their respected apartments there still needed to travel to the far side of the ring in order to buy supplies.

Miles from the metropolitan city, a lone boat sailed across the smooth waters – its sailor was a man from the city, a member of the reconstruction committee, named Methuis. He had gone off in order to gather equipment and funds for his new business that he was setting up. He did not take a ferry like most individuals would. He wasn't sure why, but he felt like he needed to stand alone, like he felt in some way safer with sailing solo.

As the sun was finishing it's decent over the horizon, Methius settled in his seat at the hull of his small, wooden rowboat. He felt the heat cover his face – it was peaceful, and it relaxed him. But it began to grow hotter and hotter, and the heat grew intense. He finally looked up to see what was distressing it, and then he saw it; a large, intense fireball.

"Ah!!" He shouted, pushing himself to the edge of the right side of the boat. The other was crushed and burnt by the fireball, crumbling into the water. Methius turned his head, sweating and panicking, and saw a large Fire Nation vessel. Another fireball struck down at his mast and he was left on a small, broken corner of his boat. He shouted back to the ship,

"What are you doing! We're at peace! We are friends!! The war is over!!!" Right there, a small ballista spike was fired and it struck, like a lightning bolt, straight through Methius's torso. "AHHHH!!!!!!" Blood was hurled down the sides of his mouth and before he could think another second, he was dead.

Clamp, clamp, clamp, clunk, shunk

The noise echoed in the dead silence as a man walked down the metal ship, stopping and lowering down his arm, pulling out the ballista spike. He tossed it into the water; with his other arm, he shoved at the driftwood Methius was left on, sending it sailing down the bay once more. A trail of black, terrifying blood was left in his trail, as the Fire Nation man walked away.

The sun had risen.

Ba Sing Se, an hour later

Aang sad

Aang is upset that there's nothing more Sokka can tell him about the hallucinations.

With the upper ring in living conditions finally, Team Avatar returned to their newly refurnished apartment. Sokka's "meltdown" the week before was still unresolved, as Aang paced back and forth, wearing his partial robe, bearing the Air insignia, over imperial clothing, consisting mostly of the Fire Nation disguise he wore back during the war; he was soon going to be attending an official rally of the four nations, to discuss, as usual, politics. Aang was always stressed before one – after all, he was just a boy, a boy who had unfortunately seen his scarring share of events, but after all, he was the Avatar, and it was his duty – but at this point specifically in his life things were more stressful then ever: the assassination attempts, crises, and Sokka's cryptic messages. They were all beginning to build up.

Aang turned to Sokka, "So, are you sure they didn't say anymore?" He was referring to the messages.

Sokka groaned and rolled his eyes, "Yes, for the hundredth time, that's all they said." Aang had been asking this for the entire week.

"Sigh It's useless," Aang plopped down on the floor exasperatingly.

"Ya know, Aang, I think you're thinking about this too deeply," Toph said, "if you ask me it's pretty self explanatory."

"That's the issue," he remarked back. "I mean, I really don't want to, but I think – I think those spirits are telling us the Fire N-"

Suddenly, Aang was broken off by a piercing scream, a shrill yell that echoed throughout the area. They raced out the door and followed the crowd of people to the edge of the city dividing line between the Middle and Upper Rings, where a shred of Full Moon Bay lay. A few of them pushed their way through the large crowd of people to see the horrific sight – a man, barely thirty years of age, washed up, bleeding from the diaphragm, eyes red and blood slipping down from his mouth. He was dead.

"What....what could have-" Aang started.

"METHIUS!!!" cried a woman's voice, who shoved her way through the crowd, auburn hair flowing behind her and her tan cloak flowing through the graceful wind. She dropped to her knees beside the man and hugged him tightly, tears dripping down her cheeks while the blood of her husband stained her clothes and hands. "METHIUS!" She cried harder, the impact of her bellows sending chills down the spines of the citizens encircling the corpse.

Lee, a construction committee crew member, stepped forward, clearly fighting back tears, speaking, "Who did this?" Everyone was silent. "WHO DID THIS!!" He exclaimed, tears starting to stream down the sides of his cheeks. "Who killed Methius.....who killed him....."

"I....I can't believe this...." Aang whispered, shaking his head. Beside him Katara clapped her hand over her mouth, tears lightly dripping down her cheeks. Toph stood bewildered – she felt nothing but the shaking of the crying citizens, but the smell of death practically overwhelmed her. Sokka looked puzzled, slightly awestruck and gasping for words. He shut his eyes and turned his head, angry that someone could do such a thing. The bellow of the man's wife, Vdova, echoed throughout the ring and shattered against everyone's skin. The shards would fall deep, into the darkness of their weeping souls, peering. Long they stood there, wondering, fearing. The silence was unbroken and the stillness gave no token.

Merely this and nothing more.

Ten minutes later

Aang watches the play

Aang angry at the political meeting.

Aang managed to pull himself from the gripping, slashing claws of the moment that outraged him so. He stormed down the walkway to the royal meeting room, his silk robes, placed over his smooth tunic with traditional neckpiece, flying viciously in the wind as he stormed through the beautiful gates that to Aang looked like the serpent saying you will not surely die. He stepped into the artistic masterpiece that was the room, layered with symbols from the four nations, and diplomats seated on tall podiums – Earth King Kuei rested at the front of the room, in the left was Fire Lord Zuko, to the right was Chief Hakoda, and Aang's rested at the bottom, a few feet from where he currently stood. Smaller podiums lie in between them, where soldiers and representatives from clans sat on.

"Avatar Aang," Kuei said, echoing through the silence of the room, "good to see you." Sokka walked in soon after, panting a bit, and stood beside Aang. "Hello, Sokka, please all, sit down."

Sokka and Aang sat down on their respectable podiums, Aang steaming, not looking anyone in the eye and looking down angrily and intently.

"I assume you all know what has just happened here," Kuei began, "a tragedy, an apparent murder-"

Aang snickered. Everyone turned their heads. Aang looked up, smiling sarcastically, "I would hardly call it apparent. The man's intestines were falling out of a spear-shaped hole in his torso. Now I'm no doctor," Aang's smile turned to fury and his voice was sharper, louder, more aggressive, "but that sounds like the murder!! No ifs about it! I'm not going to stand here when I nearly got killed five times in the past three weeks, seen my friends and loved ones sacrifice themselves for me, and seen the most...the most horrific death and tragedy since my people were murdered! Stop blabbing and get things done, what's the point of a democracy or monarchy when people can just DIE WHILE WE SIT HERE AND TALK 'TILL OUR LIPS CH-"

"AANG!!" shouted Zuko across the room. "Control yours-"

Aang ignored him, standing from his seat, "I just watched an innocent man's dead corpse fall apart while his wife clung herself to him! What do YOU KNOW about death and fear and anger, WHAT DO YOU KNOW about humanity-" He viciously walked out to the floor.

"Avatar Aang, remain civ-" started an Earth Kingdom diplomat, though Aang ignored him as well and continued,

"Or love! NOTHING! Politics or any ridiculous attempt at a civilized society will not bring back the dead! Or stop that poor widow from crying herself to sleep at night!!!"

"Aang!" Zuko and Sokka protested almost simultaneously, but Aang once again refused to yield.

"YOU CAN'T STOP THE WORLD FROM BEING SAVAGE BY CHIT-CHAT!!"

"Oh, contain yourself! We all know you couldn't care less about that man, you're just being selfish because you lost your people, stop acting like a child!" said an annoyed Fire Nation diplomats named Chen, putting his face to Aang. Aang snapped and punched the man in the face, shouting. Chen instinctively launched himself at Aang and the two struggled on the floor. Several representatives, including Sokka, ran to break it up. Zuko stepped in and pushed the man to ground, then sending Aang sliding on the ground a few feet to silence the fight and calm the air. Aang slid and rolled backward, landing on his back with his hair and cloak askew, panting and looking wide-eyed and aggressive. He picked himself up and brushed off his clothes, then storming out of the room, slamming the marvel doors.

The room fell silence and everyone returned quietly to their seats. Sokka and Zuko looked at one another, the latter commenting silently, "Go talk to him. Someone's got to talk some sense into his court." Sokka nodded and walked out.

Koi Meng Tavern, down the block

Aang silently walked into the tavern, angry, frustrated, and confused. Before he could practically think about his actions, he heard the slurred voice of a patron at the bar. "Avatar Aang. Man, you've graced is with your 'oly presence." He turned around drunkenly and did a fake bow, "I'm *hic* honored. So y-y-y-you saw that little incident this morning? That *hic* that dude who washed ashore all...dead and stuff? Methius. Methius was his name. He was-he was a committee member, but not *hic* like the screwball grunts in 'onstruction like me. No, he was...he was going places. He'd, uh....he'd probably be 'ere by now if he didn't *hic* excuse me, hadn't spent so much time saving 'y neck." Now nearly touching Aang's nose with his, he started getting more aggressive in his vernacular and his voice sparked. "You said we'd have peace. And prosperity. Methius was my best friend and now he's dead! Is this..." His voice shook. "Is this a better world to you!? Huh? J-J...J-Just look at me! I've been sober for years and now....YOU SAID THING 'OULD BE BETTE'! We're all back in the GUTTER!"

Lee began to fumble and fell partially, leaning on a table with his knees. The bartender, a roundish and gray-bearded man, ran over and draped Lee's arm over his shoulder. He rose to a normal stance remarking to Aang, "Everyone loved Methius. Now that he's dead that means everyone's going to be angry, upset, confused. It's not your fault, Avatar – you're no murderer." He then began to walk out the door with Lee, whispering to the drunken man, "Let's get you home."

Aang sighed, "I still failed."

Meanwhile, back in the meeting room

Fire Lord Zuko

"Salvation is far from the wicked."

"Now, Methius was a high member of the Ba Sing See Construction Committee," Kuei remarked, "for all we know, this could be a political statement, or even a sign of rebellion."

"We can't prove it's anything unless we know who did it," retorted a Water Tribe soldier. "Not to mention, Avatar Aang was right when he said we're not going to solve anything scratching our heads. We need evidence."

"But where would we search?" said Hakoda. "The man's stomach was torn apart. Cleary whoever's doing this isn't going to leave a fingerprint lying around."

"Exactly," called Zuko. "Anything we try could lead to a full scale war. Words can turn to blood quite easily in these fresh times. Salvation is far from the wicked."

"Nonetheless, the death of this man is now officially a matter for the government," Kuei sighed. "Whoever did this likely is trying to start something with the other nations."

"Or whatever did this," hissed Chen, rubbing his bloody nose. "For all we know, this could be an entire army, or underground government. "

"Sigh That is what I fear," said Kuei.

"It's quite clear we have no idea who we're dealing with," Zuko remarked. "We'll have to be cautious. The best thing we can do for now is...pray for this man's family."

"Yes," Kuei said. "Meeting adjourned."

In front of the tavern....

Aang sat with his head in his palms, on a wooden bench that lie beside the entrance. Sokka sat beside him, slouching and looking out to the horizon. The sun was setting. He spoke.

"Doesn't the day just, like, fly by?"

"Sokka, I don't wanna-"

"I mean, it feels like just two minutes ago I woke up. Life is weird like that. I mean, things just change, like the seasons, or old men's thinning hair; Suki's out on that Kyoshi training mission, the city's still being reconstructed....and that man just was killed."

Aang picked his head up and looked at Sokka warily.

"Ya know it's not your fault Aang. You didn't even know him."

"Yeah, but I'm the Avatar. I'm supposed to help people, how could...how could I allow this to happen under our noses."

"You're not perfect, Aang. In fact, you got a lot of flaws. That whole vegetarian thing is what gets me – I mean, how can you not eat meat?!"

"You're not helping, Sokka."

"What I'm trying to say here is that it's not your fault. Yeah, sure, you're the Avatar, but you're also human. There's a lot of...there's a lot of bad things out in this world Aang." He started rubbing his bandaged arm. "People get hurt. Or killed. Or worse. Things just happen. Sometimes you can't stop it. You stopped the Fire Lord from burning down the entire Earth Kingdom. He would have killed millions of innocent lives. You've saved the world twice, Aang, and we're all grateful for that, more than you can imagine." He put his hand on his shoulder. "You can't save everyone, though. Methius died and it's sad, but don't even think about blaming yourself. You're not a murderer."

Aang looked up and smiled a bit. "I just feel like I could have helped. Like somehow this is something to do with me."

"That's crazy talk. If anything it's about me and my psychopathic hallucinations."

They both laughed and got up, walking back to the ring. The funeral would commence soon.

Funeral grounds, the Middle Ring...

Everyone stood and dressed in black. A group of men carried the casket where Methius's body lies. A drape was placed over his torso to hide the wound, where the blood had been cleaned off. He now wore silk clothing. Around him, practically everyone from the middle ring had attended, along with Team Avatar and all the democrats. Vdova, the man's wife, cried heavily while her brother placed his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. Soft music played, and rain started to drizzle lightly. The casket was placed down into the grave sight and his picture was placed on the tree beside it, candles lit and lilies placed around it. Methius was buried as the music played.

Beside Vdova, Dào wèi, her son, looked up to his much taller mother. "Why are they burying him, Mommy?"

"Well, dear, Daddy...Daddy's not going to be around anymore..." Her eyes began to be filled with tears.

"But why?"

"Dào wèi, it's....it's complicated...." Her eyes watered forward and she refused to look at him in eye.

A man handed Dào wèi a clothe full of the Earth from the gravesite, pulling back tears himself.

"I miss him, Mommy. Can he ever come back? Mommy?"

"...."

"Mommy?"

After the funeral

Night fell. Malu walked down the empty street into an alleyway, sad, dressed in traditional black and white clothing. Methius was his longtime friend...it would take a while for him to even begin to get over this. He never knew his family, so the Committee was the only one he had. Though he'd never admit it....

Suddenly, he heard rustling around him and moved his head around. He kept walking. He heard it again, "Hello? Anyone there?" Silence. He kept on walking, his mind racing a bit. Suddenly, a small flaming arrow shot into his shoulder. "OW!" He exclaimed and pulled it out. He examined it. "What the-?" Chains whipped out at him and he tried to run off, but they grabbed him by the ankles and pulled him into the shadows. "AHH!!!!" He shouted, and his bloody arm fell out of the shadowy corner.

Malu was dead.

The next day

"AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" exclaimed Lee, clenching the dead body of Malu. "....Who did this!? Who's doing this to us?!?!"

Zuko and Aang stood there, watching as soldiers tried to pull Lee away from Malu's dead body. "What is happening," Aang remarked, shaking his head.

"Vengeance, maybe," Zuko said coldly. "Plain violence. Anger, perhaps? But, hey, maybe they were just bored..." Zuko walked away, angry.

Aang looked at Lee being dragged away, shouting, "LET ME GO! 'ET ME GO! HE'S MY FRIEND!!!" blood stains all over his shirt. He turned his head, disappointed that he let this happened again.

He walked over to Malu's dead body. A sword had been jabbed into his stomach, similar to Methius. He turned his head and closed his eyes. "This is the last straw. I'm going to find out who's doing this. No one's going to kill innocents....not while I'm breathing." He walked away, as the sun rose over the horizon.

A few minutes later, behind the tavern....

Slythrin

Slyrthin walks away behind the tavern.

Lee sat down on the stone ground with a bottle of rum, taking a large sip of it. A pale faced, white haired, thin man walked in front of him. His name was Slythrin, a Committee crewman as well.

"Slythrin?" Lee remarked, slurring his words. "*hic* Wh...what are you doing h-AH!!"

Slythrin grabbed Lee by his collar, causing him to drop his rum, shattering once it reached the ground. "What are you doing, Lee?!" hissed Slythrin. "Methius and Malu were just murdered! Your own brothers, killed! Don't just sit here in the gutters and try to wash away your troubles like some animal! You know what you have to do..."

"But...but how?"

"Just do what I say..." He let Lee drop. Water splashed as he landed in a puddle. Slythrin walked away, the air silent, crisp.

The hideous murders had occurred. Ba Sing Se was silent, tears filling the ground with the rain. The sun shone through the dark times. The future could be blissful after all. Only time could tell where events would turn.

Production

Development

Western Air Temple

The Western Air Temple was the original setting of the chapter.

"Bitter Empire" was the first chapter written for the "New Politics" Chronicle. From the beginning, SuperFlash101 wanted to incorporate a political theme into one of the Chronicles. Originally, the setting would have been at the Western Air Temple, where Aang and undecided members of Team Avatar, would attend a political meeting. Each chapter at the time would have the word "Ground" in the title (i.e., "Proving Ground" and "Bloody Ground") The entire idea was scraped after vandals began creating spam pages for the linked and uncreated titles. Flash then decided to redesign the idea entirely.[1]

The official idea for the episode came while SuperFlash was reading articles on Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki. He was looking at the article on the character Nomi Sunrider when he discovered an image of her holding the bleeding body of the character Ulic Qel-Droma in the comic book Tales of the Jedi: Redemption 5: Master. SuperFlash was then inspired to write a chapter where a wife held her dead husband in her arms after he was murdered.[1]

Writing

Aang in Avatar Better World

Concept art of Aang in "Bitter Empire" by Flash. His new outfit was designed to be more politically shaped and focus on the Air Nomadic culture.

SuperFlash had issues trying to figure out a title for the chapter and went through five or six different ones before coming up with the title "Bitter Empire."[1] Since he began writing the chapter, Flash knew that it would be carry a very sad and depressing theme and attempted to make each scene emotional and powerful for the readers.[2]

Several literary analogies were put throughout the story, including those from poems and the Bible.[3] When the citizens are standing shocked at Vdova gripping Methius in her arms uses alterations of a section of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, which is Flash's favorite poem. Zuko says "Salvation is far from the wicked" while in the meeting room, which is a verse from Psalms 119, the longest verse in the New Testament of the Bible. The "hideous murders" description in the ending is an alteration of The Black Cat, short story written by Poe as well.[1]

The Ba Sing Se Construction Committee were further explored in the chapter, playing a crucial role and will continue it for the rest of the story. SuperFlash describes them as "basically the new Dai Li - they take care of economical and cultural exchanging for the city."[4] The characters were introduced in the previous chapter, "Aftermath," but were thinly used.[5]

Flash wanted to make Aang less "angsty" but keep him tense; he wanted to have him be mature but keep more of his personality as he felt he changed it to much previously. His outfit was redesigned from previous versions to be "a sort of old-western-meet-ancient-Chinese" blend that he came up with from one of several composite sketches he did for the chapter.[4] Writing for the scene where he angrily began to yell at the Earth King during the meeting was difficult for Flash as he fell into a writer's blocked; someone he knew suggested to him that he would ignore the pleads Zuko and others were yelling at him and just continue to walk up towards Kuei.[1] Flash wanted him to have a "tussle" since he conceived the chapter. The name of the man he fought, Chen, was based on the character Chen from Kyoshi Revolts.[2]

Zuko was made to have a larger role as Flash felt he only "[stood] in the background bleeding/[telling] Katara how to fix Aang's wound" previously in the story. He wanted to have him make "hardcore remarks" and break up the fight between Chen and Aang.[4] The scene where he did break up the fight was difficult for Flash to write and to him still is not descriptive enough, mainly because it is "one of those visual things you'd really just have to see to understand, something that would truly be best put in fanart."[1]

Flash had Malu dying in mind since beginning to write the chapter and used it so Lee could begin a continuous side story after being told that he needed to do "what [he] knew he needed to do."[1] Slythrin was named after the Slytherin House in the novel series Harry Potter. His personality and appearance was based on them as well - "Silver-like hair, pale face, hissing attitude, but more of the cold-voiced, silent guys who is pretty much in the shadows for most of the chapter until the end."[4] Methius was named after Promethius, who in Greek mythology was a Titan who stole fire from the Gods and gave it to humanity, being forced to have his liver eaten everyday for all eternity in punishment. His wife, Vdova, is derived from the Slovene word for "widow." Her son, Dào wèi, is from the Chinese characters for "arrive" and "son" (到 子). [1]

Flash researched traditional Chinese funerals for Methius's funeral scene. Several different things already worked and he kept them in, but added Dào wèi being given a clump of Earth from the gravesite;[1] this is a traditional event in a Chinese funeral, given to the deceased parent's eldest son.[6] The dialogue spoken between Dào wèi and Vdova in the scene was inspired by Fullmetal Alchemist, a Japanese manga and anime and a favorite of Flash, and carried a very similar scene in one of its episodes and chapters. Flash considers it to be one of the saddest things in the entire show and wanted to use as it helped give emotional charge to the chapter.[7]

Flash took a short stint from writing after a while and did not pick up for a few weeks. On August 22, 2009, during an IRC discussion with fellow Avatar Wiki users Vaznock and The avatar, Flash decided to finish the chapter that day and worked on it for two hours. When he finished, he published it on the Avatar Wiki.[1]

Reception

Avatar Wiki user Vaznock said that the chapter was "Depressing, very depressing, but amazing." He continued to say, "The whole thing was simply fantastic. The scene between between the mother and her son really depressed me, but I'm sure that's what you intended. In short, it was very powerful. Fantastic job." The Avatar remarked similarly, "Wow, amazing! Just amazing job." Twilitlink said the chapter was "great" while Waterkai wrote it was "intense."[2]

References


See more

For the collective works of the author, go here.

Better World chapters
The New World Chronicles
Bad Start - Hunted - Settling Scores - Eruption - Aftermath

The New Politics Chronicles


Bitter Empire - Spare the Innocent - Be Thou a Cain - The Will of All Mankind - Forgive Me, Lord... - ...For I Have Sinned - Bathe With the Dogs - Into Here I Am - John the Revelator - Brothers in Arms
v - e - d

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