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February 12, 2011
Ty Lee is horrified to find that the elemental destruction of the planet is spreading throughout the Fire Nation. Meanwhile, in the Spirit World, Sokka pulls a courageous move to ensure his friends' survival...
Book 3 Chapter 8: Sokka's Gambit
Mai hastened down the road and ushered everyone still outside quickly into their homes. The Fire Lady gasped as a gale of terrible wind threatened to lift her off her feet, and she grabbed at the road as the wind caused her to skid backwards. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a shuriken, which she jabbed into the ground and then held onto with all her might until the wind died down.
"Great," she muttered. "The biggest action that the Fire Nation has seen in a year, and it's bad weather. This is pathetic." Staring up at the sky, her expression lightened and she added, "Where are you, Zuko?"
This wasn't the first time that Zuko had left unannounced in the past year, so Mai had initially thought nothing about it when she woke up to find Zuko gone. He would always lead missions to find his mother, which he would prefer to lead by himself.
But those trips usually only last a few days at the most, though, Mai had realized, and Zuko's been gone for over a week. She sighed.
A sudden screeching sound brought her back to reality. The sound rumbled down from the sky; it was everywhere and nowhere all at once. Mai covered her ears but the sound only grew louder, as if it were being issued from within her own head. All around her doors were flung open as citizens thrust themselves into the open road, all grasping at their ears and crying out in pain as the booming, high pitched wail continued.
Mai's gaze was drawn to the sky, upon which a series of jagged marks resembling cracks had formed. The noise grew to deafening proportions and then ceased in the exact moment that the sky burst into a thousand shattered pieces that rained down like glass upon them all. They all dove for cover from the falling pieces while the entire Palace City became enveloped in an uncanny red glow.
As Mai recovered, she turned to see the familiar face of an old friend.
"What are you doing here?" Mai asked, rubbing her ears and trying to get her hearing back.
"Oh, no," said Ty Lee regarding the sky with disdain. "It's spreading..."
Aang and Toph struggled to their feet as they shook the disorientation from their spinning heads. Katara immediately ran to Aang's aid as Suki ran to Toph's. Meanwhile, in front of them, Sokka and Zuko both took a step backward and assumed fighting stances. Sokka firmly gripped the hilt of his sword while Zuko brought his arms in close and then thrust them out to his sides, creating two identical daggers of pure flame extending out from his fists.
Azula simply sneered at them and raised her fists in a mock battle stance. She extended the index finger of her right hand, and Zuko was left with only half of a second to realize what was about to happen and prevent it.
"DUCK!" he screamed. He lunged. Sokka dropped to the ground and unsheathed his sword. Toph and Aang nodded a wordless approval to each other and in an instant Katara and Suki were onto the plan as well. Toph passed Aang the Spirit Amulet and he stowed it in his back pocket, while Katara and Toph placed themselves back-to-back in front of Aang, preparing for some intense bending. But then, what Sokka did next caused their whole plan to fall apart.
As Suki rushed to back up him, Sokka yelled, "No! Suki, go back!" He sprang to his feet and swung his sword upward at Azula, who easily sidestepped his attack and kicked him in the chest. He stumbled backwards and grasped at his ribs as he felt the wind leave his chest, but in another second he found the strength to look back up at her, vengeance burning in his eyes. He again raised his sword and rushed in for another swing.
"Sokka, what do you think you're doing?" Suki exclaimed. "You can't win this fight!"
"Just go!" he yelled back as he struggled to find his breath. "Get everyone out of here, now!"
"What are you thinking?" Zuko grunted as Azula jabbed him with a fistful of sharp rocks. In retaliation, Zuko spiraled toward Azula, spinning his fire daggers madly in her direction. She vaulted up the side of the cave and came down on her brother, the heel of her boot brought down firmly on his skull.
As Zuko crashed to the floor, Sokka's defenses became momentarily weakened. It was all that Azula would need.
She again extended her right index finger and brought it close to her center. She jabbed it in Sokka's face and his ensuing cry of pain was smothered in the inferno of azure colored flames that overwhelmed him.
"SOKKA! NO!" Katara shrieked. She began waving her arms frantically around, drawing water out of the surrounding air. With a scream of rage she brought down a deadly whip of water upon Azula's head, but the princess simply pushed it aside as if it were nothing.
Sokka slowly regained his footing, his head hunched forward and his shoulders slouched. He was crying. "Katara," he said weakly. "Go."
"You're insane!" she shouted as she gathered more water.
"I SAID GO!" He wheeled around and Suki squealed in pain when she saw his horrifyingly scarred face. "I don't have any bending. I'm expendable!"
"We're not leaving you, Sokka!" Suki sobbed.
"Yes, you are! Go!" He turned back to face Azula and tightened his fists. She smirked and gladly accepted his challenge, summoning more fire upon her fingertips.
Zuko ran between Katara and Suki and grasped each of them by the shoulders, dragging them along with him as he rushed to catch up with Aang and Toph who were already a ways ahead. No one knew what would happen to Sokka, but his sacrifice would not be in vain. They would find the three remaining Spirit Amulets and undo this mess. They all just hoped that they could do it before it was all too late...
"What do you think you're doing?" Azula sneered.
Sokka wiped the tears from his blackened, scarred face. "You're a monster," he said.
She glanced at him amusedly and replied, "And you're a fool."
Katara...Suki...everyone, Sokka thought, I'm so sorry.
He spotted a glint out of the corner of his eye and bent down to retrieve his sword. Then, with an air of finality, he raised his sword for what he knew could potentially be his final time, and he charged courageously into battle...
Since the last chapter was relatively short compared to the rest of Book 3's chapters, I'm uploading this one today too. Funny side note: my friend told me that I didn't have enough of Sokka in the story, so I added this part to the storyline. I'm interested to see her reaction when finishes this chapter. :P
And what are your reactions? Up next is another two-parter, which acts as a prelude to the 4-part finale. The end is in sight...
For the collective works of the author, go here.