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Can We Hold Together?
Chapter information
Series

The Weatherbenders

Chapter

Twelve

Written by

PSUAvatar14

Editor(s)

TBD

Release date

3 January 2012

Chronology
Last chapter

A Dire Warning

Next chapter

Last Preparations

Can We Hold Together? is chapter twelve of The Weatherbenders.

Plot

Internal disputes occur within the Fire Nation Rebel Army, the Meteorologists, and Team Avatar as ingredients of the final showdown continue to enter the picture. Can they get past them all?

The Story

Fire Nation Capital, 8 September, 10:00

Fireballs continued to soar through the air as the battle continued into its second day. However, the Rebel Army, for as hard as they were fighting, were fighting a losing battle. After starting with a force of over five hundred men, they were down to a little under four hundred, and were not making any progress.

On board a ship where the three generals were waiting, they saw more and more men coming back wounded. Further, they saw that the active soldiers were being pushed further and further back. It was a time where hope was fading as Zorro's forces were clearly winning the day.

"I warned you this would happen," Bujing snapped at Tizou. "I told you, these men were neither experienced nor quantified enough to take down the Fire Nation Capital!"

"Well, it was either this or waste time capturing your towns," Tizou returned, growing angry with the elder general. "If we wasted our days doing that, Zorro would take over the world faster than you could say flaming fire flakes!"

"So he'll just do so anyway," Bujing replied. "Tizou, is it no wonder you were easily kicked out by Zorro? You have only been a general for a short time, and your inexperience has cost you dearly. You know nothing about basic war strategies!"

"Your word should really carry no weight," Tizou yelled. "You served under Azulon and Ozai, and followed their evil ways! You are darn lucky that Zuko didn't kick you out!"

"That's because Zuko knows experience was needed in that state of the world," the elder responded. "You should be lucky he picked a young man like yourself to be his leading adviser! You clearly have no competence whatsoever to be leading a cause like this!"

"Zuko recognized that out with the old was the way to go with his advisory board," the younger general shouted back. "Bujing, we don't need outdated strategies!"

Bujing just wanted to snap at that point. He was thirty-six years Tizou's elder, and could not believe he was being bossed around by such a man.

"All right, enough's enough!" Azai finally declared. "Maybe we should focus on fighting the new reign instead of fighting ourselves. After all, Zorro is the enemy here."

Tizou and Bujing realized, with Azai's words, that he was correct. The two generals backed away from one another. "Very well," Tizou said with a sigh, after some thought. "Perhaps we can retool our strategy. For now...we should cease this attack before we lose too many men. It looks like we're not winning today. Azai, let them know we are pulling back."

Moments later, Azai got the pullback order out to all the troops, and they evacuated back to the boats that had carried them there. Soon, they were all clear from the Fire Nation Capital with no further firing, a disappointing result for the hopeful rebels.

Below deck on the main boat, the three generals reconvened to try a new strategy.

"Attacking the Capital directly has failed," Azai noted. Tizou rolled his eyes as if to say 'thanks for stating the obvious'. "What shall be our next move?"

"My original proposal still stands," Bujing said. "One thing of Tizou's that I will say is accurate is that it could take some time. We would have to try and start this as soon as possible...likely tomorrow."

"There are risks in every strategy," Azai replied.

"Exactly," Tizou added. "However, I did see what the flaws in mine were. I guess, thinking about it...you were right, Bujing. The inexperience did wind up blowing up in our faces. For that, I apologize for snapping at you."

"It's all right," Bujing assured him. "We are all going through some tough times at the moment. I did serve under Azulon and Ozai...but to be honest, by the end of the War...I was tired. It was near a point where I was sick of it. I just wanted peace...win or lose. Of course, I would never say that to Ozai. Regardless, I apologize as well, Tizou."

"Apology accepted," Tizou nodded, and the two generals shook hands. "With that done, your strategy is not a bad one."

Bujing elected to explain it more, using a map of the Fire Nation as his tool. "We are not far from some small towns as it is right now. With a day of rest and recovery, we should be able to have a chance at capturing them. The small towns are thin on domestic forces. Should we get there and attack tomorrow, we could find ourselves with two towns under our control."

"We will need to move fast," Azai replied. "I hope our men are up for it."

"They will be," Tizou said. "From what I have seen of them, they are all men who desire peace, and all who seem motivated and ready to go. Maybe we have a few who feel demoralized, but as long as we have that solid, fighting chance, they'll stick with us. We didn't do well today...but we have far from lost. Let us put Bujing's strategy into effect. We don't have much time before the Southern Water Tribe falls."

Fire Nation Royal Palace, 12:30

"By this time next week, the Southern Water Tribe will be under our control," General Fuang said around his advisers and Zorro. "In just a few short days, using our blockade as a launching point, we can begin our strike against the Earth Kingdom."

Zorro grinned as his dreams were growing closer to reality. "That silly rebellion never stood a chance. With that out of the way, we can take the next step towards world domination uninterrupted."

"Exactly," Fuang replied. "For now, we will keep our siege against the South Pole going until you say it is time to attack the Earth Kingdom."

"Make sure Admiral Xian continues to provide updates when he gets the chance," Zorro added. "We can't lose track of the situation. Is there anything on Team Avatar's whereabouts?"

"Nothing to report," General Shang answered. "Last we heard was they were in Ba Sing Se, but this was fourty-eight hours ago. We'll see how things go from here. For now, our current plans shall hold."

"Very well," Zorro said with a nod. "For now, you are all dismissed."

The generals took their leave, and Zorro attempted to relax on his throne. As soon as he tried to do so, however, Ezan entered the room.

"Zorro, Kianna and Baktan wish to speak to you," the Fire Lord's close friend informed him. "They don't appear to be in a good mood."

The Fire Lord sighed. "Bring them in."

The Water Tribe citizens walked into Zorro's throne room and approached up to just in front of the flames that Zorro was rising. Kianna clearly was frustrated and began to speak. "Zorro, we want to know why you have been shutting us out of planning recently. You do know we are just as much a part of this organization as yourself and Ezan, right?"

"Kianna," Zorro began. "These plans do not concern you."

"What do you mean?" Kianna snapped back. "We are all a part of these plans! We set out to conquer the world and rid it of the Avatar and his friends! You had better let myself and Baktan in on all of this. All four of us helped to end Zuko's reign, and you have taken most of the credit!"

"If I didn't know any better, with your personality," Baktan took over, "I would say you just wanted the world for yourself! Not with myself or Kianna, or even Ezan as a part! You expressed your desire to return it to what Ozai wanted. A world of fire!"

"That's ridiculous," Ezan remarked, defending his best friend. "We are all going to take over this world!"

"Then why are we not involved in recent planning?" Baktan asked. "Kianna and myself helped draft part of the global attack! You are not giving us a fair shot at all!"

Zorro sighed. "This is not going to be just my world. Trust me, each of you will have a role."

"You need to let us in on your plans," Kianna said. "Either that or Baktan and I are out of here."

"Very well," Zorro replied. "You may sit in on the next war meetings with full opinions. That said, let me tell you why I need you to stay on board with this plan."

"We're listening," Baktan said, his arms crossed.

Zorro started his explanation. "Without the two of you, the conquering of the Water Tribes and the entire will be incomplete. Members of Team Avatar, when the time comes, will take to that area. It is up to each of you to defeat them. There is no doubt that the Southern royalty will go there. You each defeat them, and the Southern Tribe is ours. You then help to round up Water Tribe military, proceed to the North, and our combined forces take that out as well. When all is said and done, the Water Tribes will be under our control. It is up to each of you to rule them. I declare a new alliance, and then all of these forces conquer the Earth Kingdom, and we will have the world in our grasp. Ezan will rule the Earth Kingdom, each of you will rule one of the Water Tribes, I will rule the Fire Nation. The entire world will fall under our power."

The Northern Tribe citizens nodded. "That makes sense then," Kianna said. "Very well. We will assist you as needed."

"I'm glad you could see it this way," Zorro added with a nod. "Now then, we have a lunch coming for us soon."

The Meteorologists got over their internal issues, and were back allied to take over the world.

All it was a matter of when the next phase would go on.

Then a matter of if they could do it.

Central Earth Kingdom, 15:00

Katara was trying her hardest to do the moisture manipulation move, but for some reason, it was not working today.

"Come on Katara," Reeaki said. "Just 5%!" His humidity sensor picked up a reading of 53%.

Once again, the young Waterbender performed the same moves she had been taught during the training session over a week ago. She then tried to release the moisture out of her and into the air.

Reeaki saw his moisture sensor remain at 53%, then looked up and shook his head. Katara simply sighed.

Aang walked over to his girlfriend and tried to comfort her. "Are you okay, Katara? You don't seem like yourself."

Katara shrugged Aang off. "I'm fine, Aang."

"Katara, this is the fifth time you tried the move, and with no results," Reeaki reminded her. "You need peace of mind when doing these moves, and so far you hav--"

"I said I'm FINE!" Katara snapped back, and then left the training. The Avatar and world crossover looked at her with worry. Aang then glared at Reeaki.

"I was just saying she seemed to feel off," Reeaki addressed the Avatar. "Right now, it would be in our best interests to let her blow off whatever steam has pent up in her."

"I guess you're right," Aang calmed down from the glaring look. "She hasn't been the same, really, since Ty Lee died. She keeps telling me she's getting over it, but I don't think she ever did."

"What we should do is turn Ty Lee's death into a motivator," Reeaki thought out loud.

"Believe me, she won't have any trouble doing that," Aang responded.

"Not just for her, but for all of us. I'll be back before dinner," the Weatherbending instructor turned and returned to Appa to pick up some supplies he had brought over. The young Avatar pondered briefly what Reeaki was up to but just shrugged it off and returned to camp.

At the camp, Katara seemed to sit on her own. She was at quite possibly her worst feeling since the immediate aftermath of Ty Lee. The young woman looked down at the ground, her hands on her cheeks, elbows on her legs, and the occasional tear dropping down her face. Why can't I be strong for her? Katara thought to herself. I can't keep staying like this...yet I am stuck with it.

Sokka came over to his sister in an attempt to cheer her up. "You want to talk about it?"

"Not really," Katara responded to her brother. "It's nothing much."

"Are you sure?" Sokka asked her. "Right now, you're reminding me of the way you acted right after our battle with the Meteorologists, and that's not good, sis. Come on...talk to me, or at least Aang." He put an arm around her back, placing his hand on her shoulder.

Katara removed his arm from that position. "I don't need to talk, Sokka." She then got up and retreated to her tent. "I'll be back in an hour to start gathering up stuff for dinner," she told him as she disappeared.

As Aang returned to camp, Sokka looked at him with worry. "Aang, do you know what's wrong with my sister?"

"I wish I did," the Avatar responded with a sad sigh. "She didn't do well in her Weatherbending training, and she's seemed to have that look to her all day...that look of mental pain."

The Southern Prince simply shook his head and sighed as well. "It's really hard to see her like this."

"I know," Aang said. "I know."

17:30

Just before the dinner, Reeaki had Aang and Zuko do another round of training after Katara struggled. The two were successful, and they felt more than ready for their battle with the Meteorologists. Later, with the reality of a three-nation showdown setting in, plans of a division of the team were put into play. They would be discussed following the dinner. For now, it was time for them to enjoy their third meal of the day.

As was standard, Katara helped to prepare the meal. However, as the rest of team dug in, the Southern Princess did not eat much at all.

"Katara?" Sokka asked her with concern. "You've barely touched anything."

"It's nothing, Sokka," she replied to her brother, a light mist coating her eyes. Mai rolled hers, but to no one's notice. Aang put his dish down and walked over to his girlfriend. "Katara...if there's something wrong, you can tell us," he said as he put an arm around her back and picked up her head with his hand.

She finally cleared up her reservations and talked. "I...I wish Ty Lee was here. I still miss her...this is the most important fight of our lives since the War."

Mai rolled her eyes again and finally had enough. "You've got to be kidding me...quit being a crybaby," she said.

Katara's look of sadness quickly turned to one of anger as she looked towards the Fire Nation girl. "Excuse me?" She snapped with a poisonous look.

Mai looked straight at the Waterbender. "Your constant crying has gotten old. Sure, she was your friend, but get over it. I'm sick of you being so mopey, Katara! Why don't you stay out of this mission if all you do is cry?"

Katara got up from Aang's grasp, and walked across the way to a now-standing Mai, who was prepared. The Water Tribe girl got close to her face and said, "Well, excuse me, Miss I Never Show Emotion! Sorry we can't live in your life where everything is like 'whatever'! Ty Lee was like a sister to me, and it still hurts that she is gone! What would you be like if you lost someone who was like family? You don't care about anything, Mai!" She placed a finger on her shoulder. "So, yeah, I'm not going to be like you! Ty Lee once told me that she said your aura was dingy, pasty, and gray...well, she was right! I'm sorry for caring that I lost my best friend!" As she finished, she got closer to Mai's face.

Mai's look grew even angrier, and she proceeded to shove Katara to the ground. "Do NOT touch me and do NOT get in my face."

Aang stormed across the group, as everyone else's look grew shocked. Sokka, on the other hand, also got angry and stood next to Aang.

The Avatar looked Mai straight in the eye. "Hands...off...my...girlfriend." Sokka followed up with "No one shoves my sister and gets away with it!"

Zuko got up next to Mai and drew a fist. "Back off of MY girlfriend!"

Katara stood back up and shoved Mai. "How dare you! What is your problem, Mai?"

Zuko's anger grew and he tried to charge at Katara, which in turn drew Aang's ire. Aang hit Zuko with an Airbending blast, while Sokka grabbed the ex-Fire Lord.

Mai charged back at Katara and gave her another shove to the ground. The two girls were then entangled in a fight.

Sokka and Aang were entangled with Zuko; the ex-Fire Lord nearly punching Sokka in the eye. Aang used another air blast which knocked Zuko over, and then the Firebender shot a stream of fire which Aang dodged. The three then resumed a pushing and shoving match. Suki was trying to break them up with no success.

Katara shoved Mai into Reeaki, knocking those two to the ground. Mai quickly got back up and they resumed their fight, entangled, each trying to get whatever blow they could at one another.

With the situation out of hand, Reeaki had enough.

"Enough!" He yelled out, but to no success. Toph then moved next to him. "Let me show you how to break up a fight, Earthbending style."

The blind Earthbender stomped the ground, creating an earthquake that rumbled under them all.

The fighters were knocked off their feet and fell to the ground below them. Afterwards, they looked at Toph and Reeaki.

"You're all acting like a bunch of five-year olds!" Toph yelled out.

Reeaki then stepped up to speak.

"Toph is right. This is ridiculous! Last I checked we are supposed to be fighting the METEOROLOGISTS! Not ourselves! Don't any of you understand? This is what they would want! To have us divided, to have us waste our energy on something like this! This is a little pathetic, don't you think? We need to stand TOGETHER! That is all that's been preached since you first came together; and it is all I have heard since I arrived! Why change that now? We are nearing an important showdown, and we can't be doing this! Butts will be kicked...and we will be doing the kicking, but not to each other! Only to THEM! THEY have threatened the peace, and now it is up to US to stop them! And I mean US! Not one person...US. We can't go on with tension. As one of my favorite historical figures in my world said: 'A house divided against itself can not stand'. Right now, we are a house divided. That needs to change...or everyone loses."

The team stopped for a second to gather Reeaki's words, some walking around, others shaking their heads. After some time, the silence was finally broken.

"He's right," Sokka said. "This whole fight was stupid."

Zuko nodded in agreement. "Yeah...I'm sorry guys, I just wanted to stick up for Mai. I guess I went too far..."

"Me too, for Katara," Aang said. "Really sorry, Zuko. I just love her so much...when I saw you trying to attack her...yeah."

"I understand," Zuko said to Aang. "Anyone would defend the people they love. But us, as friends...fighting over it is pretty stupid. Especially, like Reeaki said, when we're closing in on a battle with the world's fate on the line."

"Exactly," Aang said, and him and Sokka each shook hands with Zuko to signal that all was forgiven.

Later, Zuko offered his apologies to Katara, and Aang and Sokka to Mai. Those apologies were accepted, however, it came down to two more.

Reeaki smiled at the apologies. He then turned to the Water Tribe and Fire Nation young women. "Mai? Katara? Would you like to say something to each other?"

Katara and Mai looked away from each other, each not knowing what to say. They rubbed the backs of their necks, looking for the words.

Finally, Mai broke the silence. She looked straight ahead at Katara. "Katara...I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head. "I just...I'm not an emotional type of person, as you can tell, I suppose."

Katara looked at Mai, straight ahead as well. "I am aware, Mai," she spoke. "For me...I miss Ty Lee...I loved her like a sister. She was my closest friend. When you called me what you did...that was really hurtful. That's why I went off. But I shouldn't have had. Reeaki is right...we shouldn't be fighting ourselves. But I let my emotions get the best of me."

Mai sat down, a movement Katara followed. "I never really was one to express myself," Mai said. "With my family, all I had to do was behave under my father's rules, and I got what I wanted. Plus, I was always under the spotlight so to speak...since my Dad was a politican. I could never be me. That's probably why I'm just not the emotional type, Katara. I guess it doesn't warrant what I said though."

Katara felt some guilt of her own. "Wow...I can't believe that, Mai. I guess it all does make sense...you had to close yourself off so you didn't embarass your family. That must really be hard. I'm sorry for how I acted towards you."

Mai nodded. "I see...and I am sorry for everything you have ever lost. I guess I should be thankful I have a family...seeing I'm sitting in front of someone who lost their mother and a girl they considered their sister. Though, Katara...I did cry a little when Ty Lee died. I'm not totally devoid of emotion you know."

Katara felt guilty once more. "I'm sorry...I didn't see that," she explained.

Mai was more understanding at this point. "You were hugging Suki and Aang...so, you did miss that. I'm sorry if I was hurtful, though."

Katara smiled and placed a hand on Mai's shoulder. "It's okay...it's over, Mai. As I said, I'm sorry for what I said, too. Those were some harsh words that we exchanged. I don't want that."

Mai nodded once more. "That's okay, Katara...I deserved it. You don't have to be sorry."

The young Waterbender shook her head. "No...you really didn't. I was just out of control, emotionally." Katara gazed over Mai's look. "I can tell there is something bothering you. Come on...talk to us. You don't have to worry about that political stuff right now...it's just you and us."

The Fire Nation young noblewoman shed a tear, her emotions becoming released. "All right, you want the truth? I feel like I have mostly gotten over Ty Lee's death, but some nights, I do find myself crying! She saved my life a while ago, and I owed her too! I may not have been as close to her as you were, but I still miss her! I am trying to be tough, and that was why I said what I did to you! But...even I feel it."

Katara gave in and hugged Mai, not sure how she would react. Nevertheless, she said, "That's normal...it's okay to feel loss. It makes us who we are, Mai. Don't be afraid..we're all here for you...we're your friends. And Zuko loves you more than anything."

In something rarely seen, Mai hugged Katara back. "I understand...thank you. Once again, I'm so sorry..."

Katara gave her a re-assuring smile. "It's okay...it's over. We're in this together, with everyone else. Apology accepted."

The girls separated from their hug, and gave each other a smile. Their fractured relationship was now repaired, and they felt like they could now consider each other a friend.

This was followed with them turning back to the rest of the group. Katara and Mai then hugged their respective love interests, who were each proud of them.

Reeaki, too, was proud. The girls cleared up their reservations, and now all could settle into normalcy...before the showdown. After all this was settled, Sokka reverted to back to one of his usual ways. "All right, it's still dinner time! Let's eat!"

Katara shook her head and laughed. "Sokka, you never change, brother." For the first time in a while, however, the young Waterbender felt good about herself. She had released some of her pain, even if it wasn't in the best way, she got herself a new friend when all was said and done.

Now, they could rest and continue their meal.

However, a matter was still unsettled.

19:00

The team settled in the center of the campsite after taking some time for dinner to set in. The sun had gone out from beyond the mountains, and daylight was fading.

A map of the world that Sokka carried was placed in the center of the group. A checkmark was placed over their current location, an "X" was where there initial settlement was, and an asterisk was placed over General Fong's base, which was where they would be headed within the next forty-eight hours.

"So, here's what we know," Aang began the meeting. "We have the Fire Nation Navy still around the South Pole. There may be some form of a rebellion ongoing in the Fire Nation, and, according to General How, there could be an incoming attack against the Earth Kingdom."

"Of course, we also have the individual Meteorologists out there," Zuko reminded them. "Aang, you said about breaking us up to the individual nations to draw them out."

"That's what they did," the Avatar remarked. "They had to have; all the weather changes that went against us all involved different moves. Kianna and Baktan crafted the blizzard at the South Pole, and Zorro and Ezan split themselves up between the Fire Nation and Ba Sing Se. So, we turn their strategy against them."

"It's an interesting strategy, Aang," Sokka remarked. "However, will they fall it?"

"They all won't stay in the Fire Nation," Aang responded. "Think, the Meteorologists want the whole world. Eventually, Kianna and Baktan will be Water Tribe-bound. I don't know about Ezan, but of course they will send forces to the Earth Kingdom."

"That leaves the big question," Suki stated. "Where will we go?"

"Well, for some of us, it would be obvious," Aang answered. For him, however, it wouldn't be.

"I would go to the Fire Nation," Zuko said. "There is nothing more I would enjoy then putting Zorro in his place.

"Sokka and myself will take to the Southern Water Tribe," Katara declared. "There is nothing more I would enjoy than another crack at Kianna."

"Dad and the rest of the tribe would be counting on us as well," Sokka added. "As the royalty, it would be our best path to head to the South Pole. Katara, you can count me in. We'll defend our home."

"Then I guess the rest of us would stay in the Earth Kingdom?" Suki asked, to which Toph responded with a nod. "Hey, I've helped to take down an entire attack before," she referenced taking out the airships at Wulong Forest. "I'll be glad to do it again."

"What about you, Aang?" Sokka asked.

The Avatar didn't speak. He wanted to go to the Southern Water Tribe more than anything. However, pressure came on him quickly.

"Aang, how about you come with me to the Fire Nation?" Zuko asked. "With you being the Avatar, and myself the returning Fire Lord, it would be most important that we helped to take down the central figure of the Meteorologists, and the current Fire Lord. They'll need us the most, we'll be possibly the two most important people in the world when this is all done."

Aang did not provide a response. An internal conflict fell upon him. Zuko was right; they would be needed the most in the Fire Nation to support the rebellion against Zorro. However, he considered the Southern Water Tribe his new home as of late, and he wanted to be alongside his sweetheart to defend that home.

"Aang?" Katara asked, seeing his internal conflict. "Could I talk to you?"

"Sure," Aang replied. The couple walked away from the team and out of their audibility.

"Now it's my turn to ask," Katara gave him a playful poke. "What's bothering you?"

"I don't know what to do, Katara," Aang replied. "I just...I want to go to the Southern Water Tribe and join you against the Meteorologists there. But...I mean...Zuko has a point. Zorro is the key enemy; the throne needs to be taken from him and Ezan. It would make sense that I was there to help him. I don't want to be apart from you, though, Katara."

The Southern Princess took her sweetheart's hand. "I understand, Aang. I know you love me, and of course I love you too. I would be thrilled if you came with me and Sokka to the South Pole. But...you need to know where you're needed the most. For this fight, I think that's with Zuko."

"I consider the Southern Water Tribe like home now," Aang said. "I guess...you're right though. I don't want to leave you alone...and make you fight Kianna on your own."

"Don't you worry," Katara replied. "I will be fine. I've got some unfinished business with her...she was the one who struck Ty Lee down. I'll be able to take her. Besides, I'm not alone either...like I said, I'll have Sokka with me. You just focus on doing what you need to do, and that's getting Zuko back to the throne."

Aang sighed, but knew he could put trust in his girlfriend. "All right. I know you can do it. Save your home...avenge the fallen."

"I will," Katara replied, then dropped her voice to a whisper. "Just remember...when all is said and done...come home. You know home will be waiting." She smiled and placed her hands on his cheeks.

"Physically, home is the South Pole...but they say home is where the heart is," the young Avatar whispered and smiled at her. "I know where my heart is...where I left my love."

Katara gave her boyfriend a light kiss. "My home...is right here."

"So is mine," Aang said after absorbing the kiss. With bright smiles, the two got up and returned to the meeting.

"Have you decided?" Reeaki asked directly to Aang.

"Yes," Aang answered before turning his attention to his close friend. "Zuko, I will join you in the Fire Nation. We will bring Zorro and Ezan down, and restore you to the throne."

Zuko smiled, and the two young men locked hands in a high-five. "I know you'll do well," the hopeful Firebender said. "Together, we'll restore the Fire Nation, like our destiny has commanded."

The two broke their high-five and sat down. "I knew, some day, we would officially team up in fight," Aang added to Zuko. "Looks like this is the day."

"So," Reeaki summed up things. "Zuko and Aang will go to the Fire Nation, Katara and Sokka will go to the Southern Water Tribe, and the rest of us will remain here in the Earth Kingdom. Is that a plan?"

Mai seemed worried. "Zuko...please be okay," she simply told her boyfriend.

"I promise you, Mai," Zuko responded, "I'll make it back. You just focus on helping everyone here."

Mai simply nodded and let things be.

"All together, we have fought for a long time," Aang spoke. "We split during Sozin's Comet, but we still saved the world together. This is like that all over again. We'll all do what we need to do, and we'll all reunite. We've been through the hardest of times these past couple of weeks, and yet here we still are. We survived even an internal conflict. If we can make it through that, the loss of a friend as well, we can make it through anything!"

"Aang's right," Sokka replied. "We're going to do this...for the world!"

The entire team followed in support, clearly addressing their readiness to fight.

Team Avatar was about to divide.

But they would still be together.

Fire Nation, 10 September, 06:00

The Fire Nation Rebel Army did not waste any time getting back up on their feet after their large defeat at the Fire Nation Capital. Using Bujing's plan, they captured three towns on the ninth, and suddenly had increased their fighting force by 250 men. The so-called "town hopping" was about to enter its second day, and soon, they would have enough force to come towards the Fire Nation Capital.

All the meanwhile, at every stop, one soldier would be chosen to lead the captured town, and a handful more would oversee that any guardsmen of the town would serve the rebel cause. As Bujing predicted, the presence of an opposition force helped raise the morale of capable men, and they joined up with the rebellion. They continued to watch their numbers grow.

"That gives us a total force of 661," Tizou said at an early-morning meeting.

"Reaching one thousand would be suitable for us to re-attack the Capital," Bujing added. "We are now most assuredly on the way to the victorious path."

"Your strategy has paid off," Tizou addressed Bujing. "I had my worries, but it's so far, so good. We should have a good chance at taking down the Capital before Zorro can get to the rest of the world."

"We can't relax the current clip," Azai said. "The Southern Water Tribe grows more and more strained by the hour. We have to make sure we defeat Zorro as fast as possible and then get those forces out of there."

"Indeed," the eldest general replied. "Let us move to the next towns today."

The Rebellion was moving fast.

Time, however, waits for no man.

Author's Notes

No organization is perfectly level, even Team Avatar. It's been a stressful time; someone was bound to break.

The dispute that sparked between Katara and Mai is based off views I carry -- I think they would have issues getting along due to their totally opposite personalities, at least in the early going.

The new Rebel strategy, "town hopping", is based off the "island hopping" strategy executed by the United States in World War II's Pacific Theatre.

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