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Tala-Title10
Chapter 10: History Repeats
Chapter information
Series

The Journey of Tala

Book

1

Chronicle

Sand and Steel

Chapter

10

Written by

Kuir

Editor(s)

Decca03

Release date

October 20, 2012

Chronology
Last chapter

Chapter 9: Myths and Omens

Next chapter

Chapter 11: The Order and the Coast

Centuries ago, the world changed with the Hundred Year War. The Air Nomads were wiped out, leaving only the Avatar, Aang. The Fire Nation brought war for a hundred years until Aang defeated the Fire Lord. He and the new Fire Lord helped create a new nation centered around Republic City, a metropolis of both technology and culture.

Aang and his successor, Korra kept balance in the world while also aiding the new Republic City. Peace has come to the world again. But peace is an illusion the new Avatar cannot afford. With Korra's inevitable passing, the new Avatar has cycled into the Earth Kingdom born into a girl named Tala.

Chapter 10: History Repeats

It was a clear day. The sun shined bright and the air was bitter cold to flesh. The day of Black Sun had come again.

Tala looked out from the airship onto the city she had lived in for over a decade. From here, her view of the siege was different. It was larger and more imposing, encompassing not only the city but the mountains. She looked to her Master, Hava who also watched the battle lines.

Hava was powerful, cautious, calm, and brave. But Tala never knew him to be aggressive or to have ever taken a life. Given the necessity to break the siege, they had to attack, opposite what the Nomad philosophy was. Hava answered this question that it was for survival and left it at that, but she wondered nonetheless.

Tala looked out to the other airships. Half of them were rushed to combat status to help the battle here, including the bombed air carrier. The air defense now doubled from its initial size when the blockade first began. But the enemy did not let that stop them. At least five more airships arrived for this battle, easily giving the Fire Nation a two-one advantage in air power. The only grace for Omashu was the air carrier. Their fighters and bombers would have the ability to land, refuel and re-arm quickly without leaving the battlefield. Depleted fighters from the Fire Nation would have to go to an airfield to refuel and re-arm, miles away. Soon, Omashu would have a consistent fighter and bomber superiority.

Arkoda and Kuel planned for the other variable; the airships themselves. These massive powers and symbols of the Fire Nation's might were usually crewed by all firebenders. Their defenders were definitely firebenders, and Omashu intended to take advantage of that. When the eclipse hit, the defending airships would breach the lines and go side to side with the enemy. This would normally be a suicidal event against firebenders, but in the eclipse there was no harm. They would then attack the ships and commandeer them. Those they couldn't take would be destroyed, and the Fire Nation would suffer a blow against their esteemed air force.

Tala hoped it went half as well as planned but worried more for the ground forces. The army invading was mostly from Ba Sing Se and so earthbenders, unaffected by the eclipse. The idea is that without air support to rein in the defenders, the Ba Sing Se Regulars could be pushed back. Suun would lead this assault and Kuir would no doubt try to blunt it.


The Black Dragon looked over the battlefield. Omashu's air force had since doubled. His bombers' raids had become less efficient after the first month of strikes. That could have been dealt with. He knew that the defenders would rush the lines and try to take as many ships as they could when the eclipse began.

It was a sound strategy, but he had several tricks up his sleeve to buy time. He looked over his shoulder, "You ready?"

The two nodded, "Yes, sir. They'll be in for a surprise."

"Good, we'll need to play an evasive game here. And there is no room for error in the skies." He looked to one of his two soldiers particularly, "This will be especially dangerous, without bending, we'll be vulnerable and your training will amount to little for the upcoming situation."

The lieutenant nodded, "I'll be ready, sir."

"Good." He turned his attention to the captain of the ship, "Take the ship up high, we'll need to split up."

"Yes, sir."

He looked out and saw the moon rising closer to the sun.



The battle soon opened to a level it hadn't during the whole siege. Both armies deployed to take or retake New Omashu. They marched forward and mostly had yet to cross each other yet.

The skies were not so friendly. Knowing that their firebenders would soon be powerless, the fighters and bombers of the Fire Nation deployed early and aggressively. Omashu responded with its own. At least twenty fighters from the Air carrier alone dropped to meet the invaders head-on.

The clash of fire and metal so high up was both marveling and sickening. Pilots may have survived the destruction of their plane only to have their parachute torn and plummet to the ground. Tala couldn't watch it.

The airships edged closer as their escort of fighters harried each other. Omashu was going to edge closer and closer until the time was right. Too soon, and the firebenders would wreak havoc on them.

That strategy died quickly. Tala saw in the distance a glow of white and blue for a breath. It disappeared and was replaced by a strike of lightning. The white bolt hit an air ship in the command deck and set it aflame. Tala couldn't hear the screams through the glass but knew that it was horrid. But it was worse, the strike persisted another moment, ripping the hull of the ship asunder. It quickly fell as it couldn't stay up after it was compromised by the strike.

Tala had never seen such a powerful strike before. This 'white' bolt hit straight and true and was beyond lethal.

Tala had no time to contemplate it when another bolt stroked at the defenders. This strike was not as deadly to its target but it still forced it to flee. Another strike came moments later and the airships started evasive maneuvers to avoid the strikes. Another came as quickly as the next. How could they fire blast so powerful, so quickly? Was there more than one who had that kind of power?

Hava hit the comm, "Captains, we need to engage those ships now!"

A captain of another ship responded, "Are you nuts!? We won't last in strafe runs against them!"

A second captain agreed with Hava, "If we stay here, we won't have the numbers to make the eclipse matter."

Another voice that sounded like Chief Arkoda consented, "We'll just have to improvise and start attacking now. Move forward and keep going. Elevate the ships and drop the saboteurs on top of the enemy ships."

The ships followed orders and moved forward, ahead of schedule. The strikes continued though less accurate as their targets were now dodging. They continued in a set of two. Either one was making two quick bolts or two making one each. Either way they were powerful.

She looked at Hava, "We need to stop that lightning or we'll be torn apart." Hava nodded his agreement, "Captain, trace the lightning and head for it, we need to stop that firebender now before we're too close to dodge."

The airships pressed forwards and soon started their volleys of attacks, from firebender cannons, to artillery, to bombs as the distance closed.


Invasion Tyro

Troops fighting in New Omashu as Solar Eclipse arrives.

New Omashu was covered in rubble below while pristine above. Suun looked above seeing the airships close on each other. Too soon. The airships were engaging the attackers and there was still significant time between now and the eclipse. Suun looked above seeing the airships close on each other. Too soon. The airships were engaging the attackers and there was still significant time between now and the eclipse.

"Sir?" A colonel inquired, "Are we to engage the enemy now?"

Suun looked down the street where the enemy was marching to him. "No choice now."

He gave the signal and the troops resumed marching forward. While the majority of his men were marching from Old Omashu, about a third were already entrenched and ready to hit Kuir's army when it came in range. A couple moments later proved that as explosions and the cries of war broke throughout the city.

His men were nervous but brave, pressing on. They continued forward to what would cost too much.


The Empyrean

The capital ship moved forward as the fire deck loosed their power on the incoming airships. Lightning Strikes and fire blasts blazing forward. At the helm a shrouded figure in black firing white lightning from their fingertips. The defenders were weaving from the Empyrean, but one ship drove from nowhere to them. It was above them until bombers forced them away. They expected the upstart to level with the Capital ship for a strafe run; but in a brilliant stroke, taking them by surprise, it dove below the Empyrean.

Most of the crew on the fire deck were too shocked by the move to take advantage of the fact the hull was exposed. Before they could, cables wrapped around several and drug them to the roof of them enemy ship below.

The captain of the Empyrean looked to his horizon. The moon was now covering the sun. Soon it would be time.


The Resister
The Resister dove hard and leveled below the enemy ship, forcing enemy bombers to abandon their runs against them. Tala, Hava, and a crew of cablers waited on the roof till the time was right. As planned, the crew was too shocked to open fire and gave up their advantage. The cablers fired.

The men held crossbow-like rifles with a long cable that could be retracted through a powerful motor. It also could conduct an electrical charge giving them a shocking surprise. Those either not shocked or strong enough to hold hit the roof hard. A few got up as White Lotus sentries charged forward to them.

They got up quickly for some, not fast enough for others. Two remained and held off the sentries when support from above hit. A figure in black stood at the point of the fire deck. Their cloak encompassed them entirely, not even boots showed. Gold lining traced the outline of the cloak.

Tala and Hava narrowed their eyes. The Black Dragon.

The Black Dragon did not stay still for long. A form was assumed that gave away the dragon's attack. White lightning burst forth. Tala and Hava rolled different ways as the blast hit, shearing the hull. Sparks spread out, Tala and Hava both levitated. The others on top did not and were shocked till they dropped.

The current cut through like butter. And then a change, the charge lightened, it did not splay as far or cut as deep. Soon it receded, and curved as if the wind blew it away. Further and further it weakened until it left even the fingers it originated from.


Eclipse

The eclipse nullifying the power of firebenders.

The airship shot up above till the deck was over the enemy hull by six feet. The moon fully encompassed the sun; the Eclipse had begun. Chief Arkoda and his men dropped down. His men were to take three airships. He saw that his men had already secured the hulls of the other two, he needed to fasten the pace.

He spun around to see that they weren't alone on the hull. Two men waited for them. One wore a light outfit, that of a swordsman, proven by the Jian in sheath. The other was a more intimidating figure. He was taller than most men, and the black plated armor made him look broader than he was. Arkoda had seen this armor before: layered piece over piece to ensure protection and movement. His left hand rested on two sheathed katanas.

Arkoda's men drew their own katanas while he drew his black Jian. An old heirloom recovered many years after its forging. He pointed the blade to the armored man in front, "Drop your weapons, you're outnumbered."

"And you're outmatched, little wolf." came the response of the armored warrior. He drew out one katana, "That eclipse isn't forever, its best you give up while ahead, Chief Arkoda."

His men charged forward. The swordsman unsheathed his sword by catapulting the sheath from the blade. It hit one of the men face first. The armored waited till two men came at him. He slid away from one strike and before the other could respond he was cut through by a swift and smooth swing.

Arkoda signaled half of the men to go around and take the ship while the other half deal with these interlopers. The two rooted themselves in stances for combat. Uluk, Arkoda's right-hand man moved first. He thrust his wolf-headed spear, a guan-dao at the armored man. He swung his katana down deflecting the blade down. He back hit with a closed fist, hitting Uluk square in the side of the head. Uluk responded with a swing of the back end of the staff into his opponent's ribs.


Tala saw as the spark of power within all firebenders, including herself, receded. Above her the Black Dragon's attack died out as the Solar Eclipse begun. Tala and Hava knelt charging as much air as they could beneath them and launching up. The Black Dragon ran and climbed up a ladder.

Tala and Hava landed on the fire deck sending kicks of wind at any who were still there. The trail of the Dragon was on a ladder. A ladder in front had descending troops. Tala rushed forward and grabbed the ladder. She strained and pulled back, sweating from the exertion. The metal answered and followed her. She pulled up, covering the drop-hole with the ladder, making it a grate.

Hava was already ascending the other ladder as Tala followed. She leapt up, and sprinted forward. The Black Dragon was fast, but not nearly enough to get away from an Airbender, especially Hava.

Hava hand reached out so to pull on the collar of the orchestrator. His hand receded in pain as the crack of a whip could be heard down the hall. Hava rolled away from the source where a second strike came. A water whip sprung forward. Tala sent a buffer of air that deflected the strike.

The Black Dragon kept running as another target presented themselves. She wore blue armor with a black and white helm in the shape of a wolf. In fact, it was almost the same as a Southern Wolf Warrior barring customization. The warrior grinned as she sent a spray of ice daggers toward the Avatar.


The thrust of a red blade forced Uluk to pull back. Uluk thought that having a spear against a Jian would mean he had range over the swordsman. That seemed to be false. Now he had the trouble of keeping the smaller man back. The younger warrior, at best in his twenties, constantly pushed forward, striking fast. Even with two warriors on his side, the swordsman continued mercilessly, and nothing seemed to hit him.

Uluk saw that the fight against the black-armored warrior was no better. He dodged few of the attacks but rather blocked in curt but skillful angles with his katana. He pushed the two attackers back. Arkoda leapt over the strike, sending his pommel into the face of the fierce helm.

The warrior took it in stride, spinning and thrust the katana behind him with the strength of both his arms. Both leapt away. This armored warrior was a cunning fighter, and worse, he wasn't overconfident. He was not taking outlandish moves but was letting them do all the work.

Arkoda heard a scream and saw one of his men fall and another grab their arm as the swordsman sent a flurry of strikes against Uluk. These two men were much more powerful than they let on when the fight started. Arkoda didn't have time to see how Uluk was holding up as a flash of red came his way.

He blocked the downward strike with his meteorite sword. This enemy's katana had to be of the finest making. It held up to repeated strikes against his Jian, a special meteorite sword made by Sokka in the Hundred Year War. It could cut through a foot of solid steel. To withstand that, it had to be superbly made by the finest weapons-makers alive.

The warrior swung in, Arkoda ducked under the strike elbowing the back of his enemy. He grunted and swung out, Arkoda barely backed out of the way as the tip was scraping his wolf-helm.

The Wolf-warrior beside him jumped up, using his weight to augment his strike. The warrior caught his wrists and rolled the man over his shoulders, sending the wolf-warrior tumbling down the side of the zeppelin. The young man was smart enough to use his katana to pierce the hull and slow his descent until it stopped.

Arkoda now had to stand against this warrior alone.


Hava pressed on relentlessly. The waterbender was dangerous but she was obviously just buying time. She usually retreated after pinning down her pursuers and then followed the Black Dragon. They must have chased their prey across half the ship, but were no closer to catching the Orchestrator of this war. Hava sent a blast of wind forward but both the Dragon and the waterbender flipped away from the strike and continued on running.

Tala followed closely behind him, "We'll never pin him down while she's covering him! She's wasting our time!"

He agreed, "Go!"

Tala went left down a hallway as Hava continued the pursuit ahead. The Black Dragon turned right and the waterbender spun around to fight. She drew in water from the area. There was more water available than there should have been, a prepared location.

She formed a half-sphere and sent whips lashing out at him. Hava buffed the flurry of slashes with a single blast of wind. He sent a slice at the sphere that was shield her. However, it froze into ice and only a cut cracked.

The woman persisted in keeping Hava back but was surprised by an attack from her side. A brick-sized piece of metal hit her square in the chest, forcing her into the turn of the hallway that the Black Dragon fled down. Tala and Hava both approached to see the dangerous fighter was out from a lucky hit.

They both ran on before the warrior could wake up. They soon heard the steps of their prey ringing above them. They found a narrow shaft that led up a good distance and used it.

They reached a grated walkway. At the end was a ladder their target was climbing. Tala sped forward and charged up the ladder. Upon reaching the top, the wind hit her hair and she knew they were on top of the airship. The Black Dragon stood ten feet ahead. She smiled at the cloaked figure, "Nowhere to run now and no one to stop us."

She and Hava circled their prey. She moved first to grapple their target, the Dragon spun, Tala missed and dove at empty air. Hava sent a blast of air at the elusive target who leapt over it.

It seemed that actually grabbing the Black Dragon was as tough as chasing. Tala finally got in close only for the target to counter her with their arms. She saw the forms and backed up a little, she recognized chi blocking when she saw it.

Chi blocking was an incredibly dangerous martial art that relied on evasion and critical strike of pressure points. It was incredibly resourceful and did not require bending to use masterfully. The Black Dragon was prepared for the eclipse, even mastering an art that could cripple a bender.

Hava sent merciless strikes of wind at the enemy. While the Black Dragon was able to avoid, dodge, and evade most of them; they couldn't do it all and finally got hit with the last two. One knocking them off balance and the other sent them falling back.

Tala leapt forward, jumping on top of the fallen opponent. She placed her knees on their forearms, preventing any chi blocking. Her hand grabbed the metal beneath the hands of the Dragon and bent it over, making handcuffs on the floor.

Finally, they had captured the Black Dragon. Immobilized, Tala reached for the hood of her enemy, "Time to see who you are."

Singing Steel

The clash of metal was all that existed on top of the airship as Chief Arkoda and his Lieutenant Uluk fought two master swordsman. Half their men were capturing the ship while the other half lay either dead or wounded on the airship's hull.

Arkoda wished a couple of his waterbenders had been in his raiding party at this moment, because these men had slaughtered his warriors till only the two best stood against them.

Uluk soon came to a draw with the swordsman, trading strike with strike and parry with parry. Arkoda didn't have the same confidence with his opponent. His was well armored and calculating. He knew that to win, he needed to be more aggressive, as he would be outplayed soon. He rushed forward, taking the strike with a parry and running his shoulder into the chest of the opponent.

He could feel the breath knocked out of the armored menace. He struck mercilessly, the warrior blocked the strike but the weight of the blade crashing down still came and cut into his plating.

Arkoda continued to press forward in a wild style of aggression, or as his family taught, the Wolf Style. Relentless and aggressive, this style gave no time for counters by the enemy and that was clear. The composed warrior was now angry. Even behind a mask, Arkoda could tell that he was not pleased with the new tempo of the fight.

The warrior sent a heavy, fast and lethal down strike at Arkoda. He barely sidestepped the strike, spun and returned with an elbow to the facemask of the opponent. His enemy reeled back from the hit as a crack in his helm appeared.

Soon, good tidings came when four Wolf-warriors emerged from the airship and nodded. The ship was theirs, and now only these two remained to oppose them. Two warriors joined each Uluk and Arkoda to tame the two master swordsmen. The young man Uluk was facing held his own with composure but the armored warrior was tiring and becoming aggressive. He knocked out one of the warriors with a pommel strike but was still being outmatched by Arkoda.

The warrior looked to the eclipse, still holding and fighting on. Arkoda saw the signs of a beaten warrior and continued in a flurry of strikes, which the warrior barely stopped. Just as he was about to deal the final blow and avenge his fallen men, the warrior rolled back from the attack.

He sheather his blade, curled his arms and spun. When he stopped he extended his left arm at Arkoda. Arkoda flew backwards as raw energy collided with his body. His dimmed vision saw that the energy hit its own maker too, sending him back as far and wrapping him in electricity.

He had generated lightning, and the eclipse was still there. But light showed, blindingly. The eclipse ended. The warrior stood up, reinvigorated and fired again, without the backlash. The beam power headed straight for him. He was still crippled from the first strike, powerless to save himself when a shove hit him.

The lightning collided and hit the aft of the ship. Controls of the steering of the ship were dead.

He rolled until something stopped him, it was Uluk. He could move again and saw that his men attacked the armored warrior, now to no avail. He blocked all their attacks, from swords, to darts, to boomerangs. None could pierce his shield of white flames.

He muttered in weakness, "No, it can't be. Tala went after him."

His men were blasted back by a wave of flame. The warrior was fierce and proud again, "You win this round, Wolf, but I won this battle."

He and the swordsmen leapt off the airship. The young man pulled a parachute out and glided to a nearby Fire Nation Ship still in their command. The black armored warrior did not. Instead, he pressed his arms close to his side and bent massive flames from his fists. He sped across the skies as white flames pressed him forward. He landed on the same ship as his lieutenant, only on the fire deck, where an officer greeted him, "Sir, welcome aboard."

He removed his helm, his black eyes surveying the battlefield about him. "What are your orders, Grand Marshal?"

"Order the fleet back in formation. It is time to teach this city what it means to cross the Black Dragon."


Revelation

The hood came off but only shock followed, "Lira?"

"Surprise, Avatar Tala."

Hava commented, "Who is this?"

"It's Rishu's fiance, a Sky Dragon, not a Black Dragon."

"Are you sure? Our uniforms are black too." She smiled deviously.

"Cut the garbage! I know it's not you! You mentioned him like you got his approval. Where is he?"

"You'll see what my husband is capable of soon enough."

Before Tala could respond with her own smart comment, she felt the change in energy again; the change that firebenders could sense, the change that preceded lighting. The eclipse had ended. She looked out across. A mile away was an airship with a man in black. He was curling in, energy surrounding him. She looked to where he was also looking, an Omashu Airship. "No."

Nothing could be done as a massive beam of white light struck and cleaved the airship in two with the force of a great axe. The ship fell from the sky a wreck of metal and flames. A tear fell down Tala's cheek at her failure.

"The Black Dragon knew about your obsession over his identity all along. After all, he planted it there." Lira's voice came as Tala's eyes still watched in horror as firebenders across the sky counterattacked. She returned her attention to her captive, "Why is he doing this? What motive is there to take and sack Republic City and lands all across the Earth Kingdom while being allied to it."

"Order and balance."

Hava retorted, "He's created disorder, and ruined the balance of this world!"

"From your point of view perhaps. But my love has greater plans, ones that even an Avatar can only grasp at." Tala went rolling forward as Lira kicked up, she rolled up as well. Tala looked down and saw that she had melted down her cuffs to release herself.

Lira fired two bolt of flame and like her husband's they were white, though smaller. Tala stared at her, "Did you think he would send me as bait without the skills to escape?"

Hava kicked a wave of wind at the woman, hitting her spot on in the back. He didn't get the chance to follow-up when a hose of water hit him. Hava rolled gracefully with the attack to see the waterbender was back in the game.

A duel ensued as Lira forced the Avatar away from Hava and the waterbender did the same. The fight was even, Hava could not break the waterbender, nor could she get a bead on him. And Lira could not hit the Avatar, who had not time to counter against the barrage of flames.

Soon six soldiers emerged, changing the fight. Tala and Hava were now surrounded. Tala looked to her master, he nodded. Both sent low-spinning kicks opposite each other, sending everyone ten feet back. Both leapt up and used airbending to propel away from the airship that would have meant their capture. Soon the two lost elevation and dove for the city far below.

Hava used airbending to control his descent, and Tala followed his example. They were high enough that they could glide to Old Omashu itself.


The Battle ended soon after the eclipse ended as the forces of Omashu fled with what they won or lost. The war council convened with reports of what came of the battle. The battle on land stayed much the same but with more bloodshed. The sky had gone to the defenders but at a high cost. Of the twenty airships Omashu had, fifteen returned along with a captured six. The Fire Nation lost an additional four to the six captured ones. In all the Fire Nation had lost ten ships to destruction or capture, while Omashu lost five.

It was a victory for the air campaign, but not enough to turn around the siege. If anything the morale of the invaders was high. If a solar eclipse couldn't break their siege, nothing Omashu had could turn the battle around.

Tala slammed her fists in frustrations. "And who was that waterbender!?"

Arkoda started probing, "What did she look like?"

Hava described the wild-haired woman. Uluk sat back, Tala inquired, "You guys know her?"

Arkoda responded, "It's his niece."

"What?"

"Uluk's father was Chief before me. His daughter ran off with a Fire Navy Admiral."

"They didn't run off, he took her." Uluk interjected.

Arkoda continued, "Chief Suruk had," he paused, "a tense relationship with his daughter and her husband. He eased up when she returned with two children. The oldest was a young girl named Ralyn."

"Why was she working with them?"

"She's Fire Nation to the bone. And a mercenary to boot."

"Hiring mercenaries?" Suun scoffed, "This just gets better, now they'll augment their troops."

It seems like this great counterattack was only a small victory.

Notes

  • The name 'History Repeats' is a play off the same phrase as well the fact that the good guys tried to use a Solar Eclipse before, only for the enemy to know beforehand.
  • The result of the Eclipse across the continent will be seen in the next chapter, "The Order and the Coast."
  • Lira was engaged to Rishu when Tala visited Republic City. They have since married during the war.
  • Ralyn is first introduced to the saga but will have a very important role to play as the story progresses.
  • Rishu's lieutenant, while unnamed, is a descendant of Piandao. He will feature more often in Book 3.
  • In the scene where Arkoda is hit with lightning, the eclipse was still active. Showing the power of Rishu that he was able to generate lightning during an eclipse, however it backfired as well shocking both the generator and the target.
  • Lira is indeed capable of producing white flames though they are noticeably smaller and weaker than her husband's. Which raises the question if this ability can be taught?
  • Chapters 10-14 all take place in the same month.

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