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~~Airspace over the Fire Nation~~
"And remember the time, we made those exploding vanilla cakes? Monk Shuzi was so startled from the blast, that he couldn't sleep for three days," said Aang laughing.
"Yeah, but how was I suppose to know that he would eat the cake. We made them for Mai and Jatzu, for pranking us two weeks earlier," said Hokai, defending himself and Aang.
"So, pranks, explosive cakes and meditating all day long. That must have been one sweet life you two lived," said Sokka, jealous that he couldn't do such things when he was young. "When Katara and I were young we were always training how to fight and to defend ourselves. Our life was great and all, we rode penguin, polar dogs and giant snow owls, but we lived in fear almost all of our lives. We were always scared that the Fire Nation would come and wipe us all out of existence..." said Sokka dampening the mood on Appa... "But otherwise it was fun being small... All those fish prune soups, eel fried chips...mhhhhhh, they were so good!" said Sokka to lighten the mood and to make himself more hungry. "Hey, do we have anymore of those dried eel sticks Katara?" asked the starved Sokka.
"You just ate a few minutes ago. Didn't you have enough?" said Katara, angrily.
"Oh Katara, you know that... I never have enough to eat," said Sokka
~~Fire Nation Royal Palace~~
As the siblings argued about Sokka's eating habits Appa landed in front of the Royal Palace, members of the Imperial Guard greeted them with all respects and escorted them to Fire Lord Zuko's personal garden at the other side of the Fire Nation Royal palace. When Hokai stopped and wanted to smell the flowers, which he hadn't done for a while, considering that he was trapped in ice for a hundred years the guards quickly grabbed him and escorted him to the rest of the Gaang.
"Why are you being so rough, we are suppose to be allies," said Katara angrily.
"I apologize for the rough treatment of my soldiers," said Fire Lord Zuko. "But you must understand. The whole city is on the verge of anarchy. People are worried that civil war is upon us. And I'm afraid that they are correct. I have summoned my uncle, General Iroh to come here he should be here in a few days... And who are you? I don't believe, that I had the pleasure of meeting you," said Zuko to Hokai.
"Well, this is the attacker. But don't worry. He is my friend and didn't meant any harm," said Aang, trying to defend Hokai.
"Even if he didn't meant any harm seven ships of the domestic fleet were destroyed, and who knows how many sailors were killed," said Zuko in an angry tone.
"Actually none. I knew crews were on and off of their ships. So I only fired on the ships that were empty. No sailors got killed," said Hokai, defending his actions.
"Well what about the SUPPLIES AND SHIPS! The domestic fleet is weakened and couldn't withstand an attack at this moment!" said Zuko, still angry at Hokai.
"Look Zuko, I understand in what dilemma you're in. But listen! Having Hokai with us is way better that the ships. He is our secret weapon, the one that they are not going to expect," said Sokka, understanding the dilemma and knowing what is best.
"Then tell me, what can he DO!" said Zuko even more angry.
"He is a powerful Airbender. Admiral Shinzou won't see him coming," said Sokka.
"Fine, I trust your military instincts Sokka. I won't arrest him. Now, lets go to my garden where I have my maps and reports," said Zuko.
"A GARDEN?! Isn't a war room better for discussing war operations?" said Sokka.
"Mai ordered me to go into the garden. And I found out that in love a man usually has to do what a woman says. It's the easiest way to get out of a fight," said Zuko, a little embarrassed, that Mai is giving him, the FIRE LORD orders."
~~Fire Lord Zuko's personal garden~~
"Well, it's nice... a little girly, but nice," said Sokka, eager to see and hear Zuko's comment and facial expression.
"Mai made it for me. She actually likes gardening. Who knew?" Said Zuko, sarcastically.
"Let's see those maps that you've been talking about" Said Katara, eager to get away from this awkward conversation.
"As you can see, almost all of the Fire Nation colonies are now under the control of the Red Revolt movement. Only Hon-Shui-He and the neighbouring city of Was-Na-Si are still under Fire Nation control," said Zuko
"How could the former Fire Nation colonies have been run over so easily. There were many divisions stationed in the colonies. Are all of the on the side of the Red Revolt movement?" asked Hokai.
"Mostly... after the declaration of the end of the Hundred Year war my first order was to all of the soldiers in the colonies. They should immediately withdraw from the colonies and head back to the Fire Nation. But many divisions hesitated. They didn't know how will they all get back at the same time. So I let them organise themselves into groups, when will they embark back to the Fire Nation. At the beginning everything worked as it should. The 41st,24th 39th and 29th divisions got back in about three days. Then everything stopped. The other divisions chose to stay in the colonies and are now under the influence of Admiral Shizou. In fact almost the entire Fire Nation Navy chose to serve under Shizou. All ships that were still loyal to the Fire Nation are now included in the Domestic Fleet," said Zuko.
"Okay, so most of the Army and Navy except for the domestic forces are under Admiral Shizuo's control. What about the Air Force? Didn't you have the biggest airforce in world history what about that? We can still dominate the skies!" Said Sokka, thrilled, that he has found a solution to the problem.
"We can dominate nothing with War Balloons!" Said an evermore depressed Zuko.
"What do you mean with War Balloons..I'm talking about the Rigid Air Ships.The Fire Nation has dozens," said Sokka, still confident in himself.
"You mean the Air Ships you rammed."Said Zuko."All of the Ships were destroyed by you Sokka!"
"Oh..if would be better if I'd stop talking?" asked the embarrassed Sokka.
"Well, what can we do then. We are outnumbered in all ways," said Aang.
"Maybe not in all ways. We can't let them break our spirits," said a voice from the shadows. It was Iroh. He just came to the Palace to lead the Fire Nation soldiers in the civil war.
"Uncle, you finally came," said Zuko, relieved, that a helping hand has come. "Yes, and I am frightened. This war will be very different from the Hundred year war. This will be a war between brother and brother, father and son, uncle and nephew... This might just be the greatest crisis out nation has ever been in. Even greater than the Hundred year war. The war before was a war for land and for glory. This war is about survival of the Fire Nation," said a visibly worried Iroh as he saw the battle plans and maps."You know, what we need?"
"What, what do we need uncle?" Asked Zuko.
" A strong, good batch of my finest tea. It will calm our nerves. Trust me, you will feel better," said Iroh.
"Uncle, do you really think, that this is the right time to think about tea?" said Zuko, not knowing what to thing about his uncle's advice.
"There is always time for tea. Remember that!" Said Iroh.
"You know, some tea does sound quite nice right now," said Hokai.
Just as they were talking and discussing what to do next, a messenger came into the room with a startling message. "My Lord!" The messenger said. "The Red Revolt troops are attacking Was-Na-Si. We don't know how longer can we hold on!"
"That's our cue, come on guys lets go," said Aang as he started to run towards Appa.
"Wait you will need some help. You can't defeat all of the soldiers alone.Mayor! How many divisions are participating in the attack," said Zuko.
"The offensive force consists of the 45th, 11th, 33rd, 24th and 9th division, about 20,000 men," said the Mayor.
"Twenty thousand! We will never be able to defeat the entire force. It's impossible!" Said Aang.
"Don't worry. You won't be alone. I'll support you with the 29th and 41st divisions. We will land here, South-East of Was-Na-Si harbour. But you four need to be able to make a beachhead, so we could land unopposed," said the now out of retirement General Iroh.
"Zuko...how many War Balloons do we have?"
"Ten," said Fire Lord Zuko.
"Well then. One of you four has to lead the War Balloons here (he points on the map). This is Quin-Wun Harbour. It is located one kilometre from the landing site. The balloons will be filled up with smoke bombs and flown by the Elite Fire Battalion.We will outflank them," said General Iroh. "Well, which one of you is going to do it. I would, but I'm leading the 41st and 29th division and I need a cleared beachhead."
"I'll do it," said Sokka.
"You don't have to do this," said Hokai.
"I'm the only one who hasn't got any bending skills. I'm more of a use this way," said Sokka.
"Zuko, I know, that you want to fight, but your place is here in the Palace. If you go, riots might happen and the war will be lost," said General Iroh. "I hope that you understand the importance of the situation."
"Yes Uncle, I do," said Zuko.
"Can we go now?" said Aang, anxiously waiting to go. "We will take you to the fleet. The army barracks are right beside the Navy base."
"Just wait a minute," says Iroh. He walks upstairs and disappears.
The Gaang wait impatiently on the old but powerful general. They wait about ten minutes and then they finally see him. He is carrying strange cups.
"What's in those cups?" Sokka asks. "Medicine for the wounded?"
"No...much more important," said Iroh. "A pound of black tea leaves."
"There isn't time for tea," said Aang angrily.
"Young Avatar. Remember these wise words: There is always time for tea!!" said Iroh.
As that was said, the Gaang split up. Sokka want to the Air Force barracks and readied the War Balloons, Zuko stayed in the Palace, Katara, Iroh, Hokai and Aang went to Appa and went to the Navy base, where Iroh went to command his fleet. The rest of the Gaang started to move out, to the unknown.
END OF CHAPTER FOUR
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