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Book One: Aang's Story
September 30, 2011
Challenges is the forth chapter in the fanon.
Aang and Katara get off the monorail and have an encounter with a large lizard, all after a difficult patch in their relationship. Meanwhile, Sokka and Wei Bei encounter a familiar enemy in the desert, and defeat them with the help of another friend.
What did I just do, and why did I do it? He loves you more than anything, and you love him, too. And despite how much he cares about you, you couldn't tell him you feel the same way, could you? He is my love, and I put our entire relationship in jeopardy just because Sokka went missing. Get him back.
Katara glanced across the way. Aang sat just in front of her, gazing out the window. Forcing a smile, he licked his lips and looked down upon two wild Platypus-Bears, nuzzling each other. Even the Platypus-Bears have found love. And yet here I am, waiting for a girl with whom I may never fall in love.
Aang turned his head to the right. Katara sat no more than five feet away from him, but she felt miles away from her inside. Will she ever come around?
"Aang, I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I've been thinking, and...I shouldn't have turned you down, just because things got complicated. Things have been complicated before, and..."
"And what? We were never together before."
"Well, yeah, but...I want us to be together."
Katara extended a hand to place on Aang's shoulder. The Airbender was shaking, nervous and hurt. But she knew he loved her. A gentle smile crossed Aang's face, the sun reflecting off his bright blue arrow. But Katara found herself lost in his eyes. Slowly, she leaned into Aang's thick lips, gently pressing against them. Except when she pressed, there were n lips to kiss.
"You do? Then why did you keep me in the dark for nine months, knowing full well that I was...in love with you? Why did you reject me countless times, and make me feel like an idiot? And why am I sitting here right now, and almost getting together with you because you are ready? And why is it that any time things get rough, this is going to happen? It happened at the cave. It happened at the invasion. It happened at that stupid play, which the more and more I think about it, is pretty spot-on with our relationship. And now it's happening again. Katara, I'm not gonna do this every time things get tough. And before we get together, I think you need to think about whether this is going to happen again, and whether our relationship is going to happen. Because if it's not, I don't want to keep falling into this trap, only to be hurt. Talk to me after you figure out what you want. Until then, I think it's better...that we just stay...friends," Aang decided, determination filling every muscle, every bone in in his body.
"But Aang, I..." she pleaded, her voice fading into the background. I never pictured Aang rejecting me. She thought, despair filling her eyes to the brim with tears.
"Katara, I really like you...no, I love you. But I'm getting tired of playing this game," he decided, his voice feel of hurt and regret, but power at the same time.
"Aang, you have to understand. Through everything I've been through in my life, with my mother and our whole...journey, when things get tough, my natural instinct is to defend myself and protect myself, so I don't get worried more, and so I can end my problems without distractions." Aang turned his head. "Please, don't do this. You love me. You almost killed an entire fleet of soldiers for me. You risked your life to Zuko for me. You want to be with me, right?" Aang remained silent for a little while. </p>
"You revived me, and yet we keep playing this game. Get your priorities straight, then we'll talk." He began, interrupted only by an unannounced kiss from Katara. Slowly, he sunk into it. What am I giving up? This beautiful face, that long, flowing, voluptuous hair, the warm, tender lips. Why am I giving this up? Reality struck a chord only seconds later, and Aang backed out of the kiss. "I'm sorry."
The train skidded to a halt just as Aang said I'm sorry, and the doors opened. Aang gestured to Katara. His hand said no more than "after you," but Katara was paying no mind to his hand. Lost in his eyes, she read him like a book. This is too hard. I can't believe I just did that. It needed to be done. His conflicting expression said, without words. Reluctantly, Katara exited the train, and Aang followed. "So, uh...where do we look for Sokka?"
Katara had forgotten one important detail about her relationship with Aang in that ugly spat. Sokka.
"Suki! Suki?!" Sokka glanced left, where a tall figure with auburn hair stood, sulking. "SUKI!" Sokka darted toward her, preparing his lips for a kiss like never before. Grabbing her shoulder, he found not Suki, but Wei Bei.
"You left me!" she screamed, wailing.
"Wei Bei, you don't under..." he began, interrupted by an unusual transformation. Suddenly, Wei Bei's face grew longer, her hair growing just a tad, her face being consumed by white paint, which morphed into red by the eyes.
"Sokka, find me. I miss you!" she said, Wei Bei's voice changing into Suki's, slowly, the pitch climbing an octave.
"I miss you, too. I love you," he declared.
"I love you, too." Suddenly, Suki's face switched back to Wei Bei's. Sokka watched Wei Bei get shot by lightning, and melt into a puddle. And Sokka felt his head lift, and his eyes open. Sokka glanced to his left, gazing across the hot desert sand. There lay Wei Bei, jolts of electricity flowing through her body, and a shadowy figure standing on a distant sand dune.
Having walked through hours of security checks, Aang and Katara were finally cleared to leave the vast city. Never before exiting the city had he recalled the vastness of the desert which lay ahead. If only the ferry wasn't destroyed. Aang thought, despising the thought of walking through the narrow death trap known as the Serpent's Pass. "Hop on," he said to Katara, holding up a glider and speaking for the first time in hours. Katara grabbed the wooden contraption, and was lifted off the ground. Thank Spirits I have this. He continued in his own head.
Minutes went by. Aang gazed down at the gigantic pool of water beneath him, a large serpent swimming through, tormenting the waters. The huge Serpent looked like a tiny ant amid a vast sea of blue. Funny. He thought. But that thought quickly leapt out of his brain as he felt Katara's hand slipping off his.
"KATARA!" he screamed, as her hair loopies went fluttering through the skies, her body trailing them pulling them down to Earth.
"Aaaah! Aang, help me!" she yelped, her voice fading into the winds of the sky. Aang's glider took a steep dive. Only then had Aang realized how close Katara was to hitting the water. Forgetting his own safety, he closed his glider, and fired a large air slice at the humongous lizard, now seeming much bigger to him.
"Katara, bend the water up to catch you! It'll soften the blow!" he screamed, praying she heard him, as he still spiraled down into the brief strip of land. He Airbent himself right, watching Katara drop into a large tower of water. She heard me! Thank Spirits! He said, as if an alarm rang through his head. He then turned his focus to his own safety. Opening his glider, he yelped as he realized how close he was to falling into the water, falling to his death. He caught himself, his toes skimming the water. Slowly, his altitude grew, and he glanced to the place where Katara had splashed into the water. There she stood, propelling herself through the water, towards the narrow strip of land. She's alive! He noticed a painful expression on her face. She's hurt, but she's alive. Aang flew to help her. But he was paralyzed in shock when he saw the Serpent's neck make contact with Katara's body.
There she lay, flinching around on the sand, her body full of lightning. Wei Bei looked up at Sokka, her teeth clenched, nearly breaking under the pressure. Sokka's eyes widened, and screamed at the top of his lungs. "WEI BEI!" he shouted, his voice cracking. He ran to her, tears now filling his eyes. But he was stopped dead in his tracks, a river of blue descending into the sand in front of him. He glanced left. "Azula." The sinister laugh of her eroded brain sailed through the thick desert air like a Tiger Wolf's howl.
Azula was quick to unleash her wave of fire at Sokka. As he jumped left, his hair was singed by the blazing heat of Azula's blue flames. "Whoa!" he screamed, constantly on the run from Azula's blazing attacks. As he let out a scream, a wave of blue crashed into Sokka's face, knocking him off his feet. Sokka reached for his boomerang, but found nothing there. "Oh no." he wailed, as he was burnt once more, this time in his stomach. Hunched over on the ground in pain, he was rendered helpless. After finally finding the strength to roll over on his back, he found Azula, hovering over him, her fist closed, ready to attack. "What do you want?" he asked, fear filling his every bone.
"Where is the Avatar?" she asked, her voice wreaking of instability.
"Why do you care?"
"I'm going to kill him. And I have no interest in doing so to you," she declared, calming herself a little bit.
"Then let me up."
"Tell me where he is. NOW."
"No. You think I'd just give away my friend's location so you can hunt him down and kill him? 'Oh, he's over there! Take the next right! I hope it's bloody! I hope we can do this again!'"
"Okay, fine. Don't tell me. But can you help me with something?" Azula paused with a vicious smile on her face, while Sokka lay paralyzed with fear, his thoughts as still as his body. "I've been having trouble controlling the temperature of my fire lately. I've been wanting to make it hotter than ever, but I can't do it. I'd like to practice on the Avatar, but I have no problems practicing on you."
My life...is over. His head screamed, and he braced himself for what he was going to say next. He looked right. There lay Wei Bei, dying. She smiled at him, her sweet, sweet smile. Sokka prepared to reject Azula one last time, and turned his head toward her. But when he looked up, she was already falling to the ground, sand hitting her face. Sokka climbed to his arms, and looked behind him.
He flew for seconds, but those short seconds felt like years to him, as he watched a gigantic serpent throw Katara off her wave of water. What if she's not okay? His head pounded. What if I can't save her? But his face let on no more than his shear seriousness at the situation. As the sun beat down upon his head, he took a dive at the water, and he thrust his staff forward, hitting the gigantic lizard in its left eye. The lizard fell backward, and in unison, Aang penetrated the surface of the water. Where is she? He thought, his brain already losing oxygen, and fast. I have one chance to find her. I have to.
He lowered his head, and kicked his feet, propelling him down into the dark depths of the Serpent-infested sea. Above him, the green lizard skimmed his back, and jumped to the surface, lacking any amount of oxygen. As Aang's oxygen level depleted, his thoughts became more frantic. Where is she?! He screamed, opening his mouth for a moment, wanting to scream. In the brief moment, his mouth half-filled with water. The salty taste was unbearable. But he could not give up. He dove down farther, barely able to see anything. But in the faint light, he caught a glimpse of Katara's silky hair, her rebraided hair coming undone in the pressure of the salty water. He quickly swam downward, not sure if Katara was even still alive. But if there was a chance, he wouldn't give up. He couldn't.
But his determination could not save him from the lack of oxygen. Hundreds of feet beneath the surface, buried in an eternal sea of black, his lungs could no longer take it. In the pressure, he too, was unconscious beneath the deep sea of the serpent. Aang looked up, at what would be his final sight, to see the serpent. His last thought, I'm sorry, Katara.
Azula's regrown bangs blew in the warm desert breeze. Dusk was falling, and the sun sank beneath the tall dunes of the endless desert. In the dwindling daylight, Toph pumped her fists, shot her fingers into the air, and the sand beneath Azula's feet was pulling her underneath. Her blue rockets propelled her into the air, and Toph pushed pounds of sand in her launching point. But she was too late. The sand reached the spot, and Azula continued her jet propulsion. Azula collapsed the blaze onto the ground, and Toph created a sand shield. The sand held up somewhat, but Toph was knocked on her butt, nonetheless. Azula quickly fell to the ground, her maniacal laughter consuming her. Toph stood, and uprooted the sand around her. The sand to Sokka felt as if he was at the beach, the cool waves sucking the sand out with the tide. As the sun sank completely over the horizon, Azula was blinded in the darkness. Unsuspecting, she was struck by two waves of sand, and she was knocked on the ground. Toph's seismic sense saw everything, and quickly pulled a pile of sand over Azula. With the power of the sand, Azula was knocked out.
Aang's final breath drifted out of Aang's mouth like the sweet sound of a sparrowkeet's song. Smoothly. But Aang still refused to give up, even in his impending death. With that breath, is eyes filled with a white glow, and his spirits were lifted once more. Inside him, it was as if a million hearts were beating, a million beats per minute. His fury, his rage, his Avatar powers, all compounded into one force: the Avatar State.
Aang's fury reached out of his body, and he picked Katara up by her necklace. The water spiraled, beyond Aang's control, and he lifted himself out of the water. The young Airbender laid Katara on the tiny strip of land they knew as the Serpent's Pass. Not knowing if Katara was dead or alive, Aang turned his attention to the lizard: furious at the hideous monster, he sent a raging ball of inferno spiraling to the serpent. The dragon-shaped tyrant smashed his head against the hill of the pass, and like that, a portion of the pass crumbled. Fell into the sea. The tyrant, unconscious, would not be aware of his own death. As it sank into the water, Aang sent an Avatar-powered Air slice at the lizard, severing his head. As the lizard's neck split in two, Aang calmed himself out of the unwillingly-induced state. He turned his head, to find Katara, lying there on the rocky pass. "I'm glad she taught me this.
Aang pulled the water from her mouth, and Katara coughed. A smile stretched across Aang's goofy face, which now had a serious and emotional expression. He sobbed on her shoulder, and she spoke faintly. "Aang...you saved me, didn't you?"
"Never do that again! You nearly gave me a heart attack." He sobbed, crying tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of fear of what almost happened. Laughing at the same time, Katara embraced him. "Katara...I love you."
Katara remained silent, crying happily on Aang's rock solid shoulder. After finally calming herself, she spoke through her tears. "I love you, too."
Sokka managed to crawl onto his knees without too much pain. As he looked at the ground on his left, he found Wei Bei, crying in pain, dying. Toph looked down at her. "...Weir?...Is that you?" she asked, her voice full of dismay, intense curiosity. Toph leaned closer, and Wei Bei suddenly recognized her unmistakable face, her indisputable voice.
"Toph..." she said, her voice deteriorating. "I told you I'd see you again." She smiled.
"I never thought I'd see you again."
"Whoa! What is going on here?!" Sokka screamed.
"Sokka, Toph is my sister. I ran away six years ago, when I was nine. I left a note for Toph, and I told her we'd see each other again. I promised her. And it looks like I've kept that promise," she explained.
"Wha?!?!" Sokka was in shock. "So...you two are sisters, I'm dating Wei Bei, I'm close friends with Toph, and...everybody's okay with this?"
"Yeah," Wei Bei started.
"Pretty much," Toph added. "I used to kick her butt in Earthball, right Wei Bei?" Wei Bei never answered. Caught up in her reunion, she had forgotten her fragile and weak state. And with a smile on her face, Wei Bei's eyes shut, and her corpse lay in the sand dunes of the expansive Si Wong Desert, the new bitter coldness no longer affecting her.
"No..." Sokka said under his breath. Toph remained silent, except for a few whimpers. A tear fell from Toph's face onto Wei Bei's lifeless cheek. "Come here, Toph." Sokka demanded, softly. Toph threw her arms around Sokka, crying into his pecs. Sokka did the same, whimpering on Toph's puffy hair, held up by a single hairband. Sokka looked down upon Wei Bei's long body. "She was so tall," Sokka commented, ignoring the situation for a brief moment. Sokka and Toph looked at each other, and nodded. They needed to say nothing. I want her buried here. His eyes said. Me too. Hers replied.
Katara set her eyes forward, nowhere else. Despite the dynamics of what had just happened, she had one focus: find Sokka. I still love Aang, she told herself. But we have to find Sokka. The two, now walking, came across two figures in the distance, one leaning on the other, one short, one relatively tall. As they approached, Katara noted a top-knot on the tall figure's head, and a hairband on the short one. ...Sokka?!
"Sokka!" Aang's voice agreed with Katara's mind. Both of their legs carried them forward, running into the arms of one of the figures. Toph hugged Katara, while Aang did the same to Sokka, and they then traded. "Don't you EVER do that to us again!" Katara impaired.
"Okay, I won't. Hey, are you guys with Suki? I want to apologize to her." He demanded lightly.
"We haven't seen her since we left Ba Sing Se," Katara said. Aang nodded. All three turned their attention to Toph, whose mouth dropped in pity.
Beneath the cool desert sand, Azula finally awoke, crawling out of the sand which had buried her in the wind. She looked around the desert, but saw nothing but pitch-black. It all suddenly came back to her. I'll get them. She promised herself. And this time, the Avatar isn't alone. That devilish smile crept upon her face, and she began her evil laugh. Her unstable walk began, and the hunt for the Avatar had begun.
Trivia and Author's Notes
- This is the longest chapter so far
- This chapter goes against some of my original plans for the series, which have been scratched and reformed. One of these plans did, unfortunately, involve killing off Wei Bei (which will be explained later how all that ties in), which was very hard to do, as she was one of my favorite characters.
- This chapter may be the most dramatic in the entire first book (past, present, and future chapters).
- If you look closely at the photo of Azula, you can see some pixels that don't quite match the color of the rest of the photo. This is due to writing where those discolorations exist. A title was previously written there, for a fanon idea which was scrapped.
For the collective works of the author, go here.