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|Boy in the Iceberg|
1-The Boy in the Iceberg
Sokka and Katara awaken a mysterious young airbending boy, Aang. After introducing him to the locals of their hometown, it's quite clear his intentions in life are to simply enjoy it to its' fullest. However, it becomes apparent he knows nothing about a war that has been continuing for one hundred years.
Additional notes Edit
Ah; the beginning. I must admit I am feeling apprehensive writing a story that most all already are well aware of. My biggest hope is that I am able to capture the events of the story and depict them in a way that is fresh and interesting. I have already added a few scenes that did not occur in the series to this chapter alone - it's just a taste of the writing to come.
And if you are wondering; yes, a large number of my chapters will contain a similar length to this chapter. With all the text out here; I'm not certain I am pleased with how it looks. It needs something to break the black and white of the text as the page scrolls down; perhaps a picture to the left, or right, after like a full page of nothing but text comes into view. The policy for a this is that I can upload three pictures for each fanon page...thanks The Bos for clearing that up for me! I still need comments as to whether or not to add these pictures though. I haven't had feedback regarding the layout yet - so I'm still thinking on it.
“It’s not getting away from me this time. Watch and learn Katara; this is how you catch a fish.” Her fifteen year old brother stated confidently as he leaned cautiously over the side of their canoe, poising a spear in his grip.
Sure, sure. Keep poking the water all day Sokka. Beneath the water, movement caught Katara’s eye. Leaning closer, she spotted a fish just over the side of the canoe. Why not? She carefully withdrew a single glove to better aid her waterbending attempt. She’d never caught anything by doing this before; but what did it hurt to try?
She drew a nervous breath, guiding her hand as she gently felt the push and pull of the water below. Much to her amazement a bubble of water floated into the air; with her fish inside of it! “Sokka, look!”
“Ssh, Katara. You’re gonna scare it away!” He whispered softly, clearly paying her no mind. “Mmm. I can already smell it cookin’.”
“But Sokka! I caught one!” She continued to bend the water bubble carefully. The fish inside made this much more difficult. The push and pull of the water felt a bit off, so she couldn’t keep the water steady in one place.
Just as it passed overhead of Sokka; he raised his spear to prepare for his fishing attempt. But as he did so he pierced the water Katara had been bending with the back of his spear. Splash! The icy water drenched Sokka, allowing the fish to bolt into the water below again. “Hey!” Katara gasped as she watched her catch disappear.
“Why is it..." Sokka turned as he set his spear down. "...that every time – you play with magic water, I get soaked!?” He finished turning back and glared at his sister.
Letting out a disgusted sigh at her incompetent brother, she began to explain once again what she had been doing. Honestly, will he never get it? “It’s not magic - it’s waterbending. And it’s –”
“Yeah-yeah! An ancient art, unique to our culture, blah-blah-blah!” He rambled as he waved his arms in dismissal. He strained a handful of water from his wolf tail hair style before chastising her further. “Look, I’m just saying if I had your powers, I’d keep my weirdness to myself.”
She crossed her arms and glared back in frustration during his rant. “You’re calling me weird?” She grinned humorously and stifled a laugh as she caught her brother admiring his strength in the water below. “I’m not the one who makes muscles at myself every time I see my reflection in the water.”
This, in turn, burst his bubble. He glanced back in aggravation before they both were jostled as their canoe rammed aside floating ice. What happened?! They had drifted into a rip current!
Ice surrounded them, bumping against the canoe and blocking their path. As Sokka struggled to guide the boat, Katara gripped her seat in the back of the canoe. After only a moment, dead ahead Katara sighted a large cluster of ice. “Watch out!” She shouted. “Go left, go left!” But as usual, he didn’t listen to her.
After the canoe wedged violently into the cluster of ice it shattered and threw them into the air. Katara shouted in surprise as she was flung out but thankfully slammed atop remnants of floating ice and she slid to a stop on her stomach.
Sliding to a stop at the ice's edge, she eyed the water in surprise. She could have just drowned! But they still might; how were they going to get home? “You call that left?” She retaliated sharply as she pulled away from the water; blaming Sokka for not listening to her yet again.
“You don’t like my steering. Well, maybe you should have–” He mocked her while providing exaggerated hand motions. “–Waterbended us out of the ice.”
Rising to her feet, she turned and glared at her stupid brother. “So it’s my fault?” She shot back without missing a beat.
“I KNEW I should have left you home. Leave it to a girl, to screw things up.” He remained seated as he looked away from her, dropping his head idly down.
That was it! She had taken enough. “You are the most sexist! Immature! Nut-brained…” She grunted, not reaching the effect she was trying to. “I’m embarrassed to be related to you!”
Sokka seemed to pay her little mind, letting her have her fun ranting. But with the angry shouts and swings of her hands she unknowingly thrust water some feet back and into the air behind her. With one glimpse he spotted a large crack rip up the side of an iceberg behind Katara. He cringed at this, eying the ice behind her in sudden surprise.
“Ever since mom died, I’ve been doing all the work around camp while you’ve been off playing Soldier!”
“Uuh, Katara?” He interjected, trying to divert her attention for a moment from what she was doing.
This only infuriated Katara further. No! This time he’s hearing me out! She lavishly waved her finger in his face, leaning in and giving him the heaviest glare she could muster. “I even wash all the clothes! Have you ever smelled your dirty socks? Let me tell you: NOT PLEASANT!” She thrust her arms into the air behind her at this, allowing her anger to flow through her body.
“Katara, settle down!” Sokka cried as her last motion sent an even larger crack up the other side of the iceberg.
“NO! That’s it; I’m done helping you! From now on, you’re on your OWN!” She repeated her motion before, swinging her arms behind her. But this time the iceberg had endured enough of her torture. It cracked wide open down the center with a loud rip. Katara gasped at the sound and whipped around in time to see the iceberg plunge into the ocean. Its force thrust the slab of ice they were on yards away, knocking her and Sokka to their stomachs.
“Okay; you’ve gone from weird, to freakish, Katara.” He jeered as the water settled once again.
“You mean; I did that?” She questioned curiously. Did I really? How? She could barely bend water bubbles.
Then something began rising from the waters; was the iceberg about to pull them under? No, it glowed! There was an immense azure glowing iceberg rising from the waters! They both gasped and crawled away from the edge of the ice, jumping to their feet and gaping in confusion.Once it had settled just a few feet in front of them, Katara stepped forward, gazing at its beauty in curious wonder. That’s when she spotted a dark silhouette of a person trapped within the ice. Despite his dark figure, a brilliant light shone from his forehead and the backs of his hands in the shape of arrowheads. Eh? She raised one eyebrow, eying this in confusion. This isn’t real. Or at least, this was what she attempted to tell herself.
In the next moment, his eyes opened; two eyes of gleaming white light. With a sudden gasp she jerked back, raising a hand in surprise to her face. It was real alright. “He’s alive! We have to help!” She exclaimed, pulling her blue fur coats’ hood over her head as she jerked Sokka’s club from his back and bolted across remnants of ice, making her way to the iceberg.
“Katara, get back here! We don’t know what that thing is!” Sokka yelled as he ran after her. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! She ignored her brother entirely as she began to beat the ice. Thwack! Thwack! Crack. The ice split wide open. An enormous gust of wind thrust out and knocked a shout from Katara as she was hurled back into her brother’s arms; who in turn fell backwards to the ground on his backside.
The crack climbed the side of the sphere of ice before reaching the top and splitting it wide open. A blinding ray of light blasted straight up into the air; a column of pure white against the soft blue sky.
Katara sat by her brother, covering her mouth with both hands in mild terror as she stared up in confusion. The sky swirled with the beautiful, yet menacing, light. Together the two stood as the boy who had been in the iceberg climbed the ledge above them; lines on his arms, the tip of an arrow on his forehead and his eyes still aglow.
She leaned against her brother in fear, gripping at his blue fur coat. What’s he doing? She panicked, trusting her brother to protect her. “Stop!” Sokka took up the charge, ready to put his all in defending his sisters’ life. He raised the point of his spear in protest to the boy in threat.
But much to her surprise the glowing stopped entirely, even the wispy lights in the air. The boys’ eyes closed as he began to collapse over the side of the ledge he was on above them. He was going to get hurt from the fall! Katara gasped and leapt forward past her brother, catching the boy in her arms just in time as she knelt under his sudden weight, though not much.
As she cupped her hand behind his head, cradling him, Sokka began poking the side of his head with the blunt backside of his spear. She turned her head and gave her brother a ridiculous stare in reply. Really, oh mighty warrior? He didn’t take the hint and continued poking the boy. “Stop it!” She finally interjected, waving off his spear with a thrust up into his arms.
Then her attention returned to the boy, turning to let him rest on the slope of ice. She had never seen anyone like him before. He was dressed in yellow with an orange-red over-shirt. The tattoos for his arrow were no longer glowing but were a solid blue that wrapped along his head and down his back.
She heard him groan; he was waking! She stayed close, looking into his gray eyes as they slowly opened. She heard the boy draw a quick gasp, staring up into her blue eyes in return. “I need to ask you something.” He weakly stated.
“What?” She curiously replied.
“Please, come closer…” His voice remained weak, begging her to do as he asked.
“What is it?” She kindly asked as she drew closer. He had to have something highly important he wanted to ask.
“Will you go penguin sledding with me?!” He suddenly shot out without any sign of weakness.
“Uh, sure? I-I guess.” Is he serious? She wondered; everything seemed so strange.
A small whir of wind shot by as the boy leapt from his back and onto his feet as if he didn’t feel any weakness at all. He glanced side to side, rubbing the side of his bald head as Sokka shouted in surprise and lowered his spear in protest at his sudden leap. “What’s going on here?” He questioned, not sure where he was.
How did he... Katara rose but said nothing, listening to the exchange between her brother and the boy. “You tell us! How’d you get in the ice!?” Sokka pointed up past the boy’s head. “And why aren’t you frozen?” He returned his hand to his spear and poked it into the boy’s side.
“I’m not sure.” Without even a glance the boy idly swatted Sokka’s spear away. A heavy groan filled the air and the boy gasped in surprise at the sound. Bolting back, he clambered up the side of the ice and out of sight.
Katara lifted a brow as she glanced back to her brother. “Stay back sis, let me handle this.” He exclaimed as he began to walk around the ice bubble to find an opening.
As she and Sokka approached a cut-out in the ice, they heard the boy heavily strain himself. Once they rounded the side; they spotted the boy hefting the lip of a large furry beast. Katara’s eyes bugged out as her mouth hung wide; staring in awe at an enormous furry white creature she’d never seen before. It even had a tan arrow similar to the boy’s blue tattoos on its head that stretched along its back.
Suddenly it awoke and a giant tongue larger than the boy rolled out and lifted him into the air. This seemed to make his day as he began laughing. “Hahaha you’re okay!” He turned as he fell back to the ice, hugging its big black nose.
“What is that thing?” Her brother questioned as they approached. However, they kept a safe distance regardless.
“This is Appa, my flying bison!” The strange boy replied.
“Right, and this is Katara; my flying sister.” Sokka jeered back.
Really, brother? She turned and gave him a sidelong glance.
The beast seemed to have trouble breathing for a moment, lifting its nose up into the air. Then a sudden sneeze launched a wad of green snot into the air that coated Sokka entirely. Katara grinned. Looks good on you. She taunted to herself as her brother began to freak out and drop to the ground, rubbing his head into the ice furiously.
“Don’t worry, it’ll wash out.” The boy replied carelessly to his reaction.
“Blegh!” Sokka jerked a wad of sticky snot from his face that stretched out, refusing to let go. Katara’s eyes rose in disgusted surprise, cupping her hand over her mouth as her stomach turned a knot.
“So, do you guys live around here?” The boy questioned.
“Don’t answer that! Did you see that crazy bolt of light? He was probably trying to signal the fire navy.” Sokka swiftly shot back, raising his spear to the boys’ face as he stood up.
Katara had heard enough; she paced around her brother and swatted him back a step to keep the spear out of the boys’ face. “Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s a spy for the fire navy. You can tell by that evil look in his eye.” She played off. Though the young boy seemed to take this as a game, giving the craziest grin she’d ever seen in her life. He was sweet, she could tell that. She lifted a hand to point toward her brother. “The paranoid one is Sokka; you never told us your name.”
“I’m Aa..a..aahh…” Uh-oh, his turn to sneeze. She eyed him curiously, wondering what he would do. Before she knew it a heavy blast of air knocked her hood back off her head as the boy launched into the air. She raised her arms in reaction to the sudden surprise, but lowered them as he fell back and slid down the side of the ice to where he had last stood.
“I’m Aang!” He stated readily with a quick rub of his nose.
“You just sneezed, and flew ten feet into the air!” Sokka pointed up in wonder.
“Really? It felt higher than that.” Aang nonchalantly replied, turning to gaze up as if he could gauge where he had just flown to.
Katara gasped. “You’re an airbender!”
“Sure am!” Aang gladly responded, returning his attention to Katara.
“Giant light beams, flying bison, airbenders… I think I got midnight sun madness. I’m going home to where stuff makes sense.” Sokka turned and walked off; before stopping in his tracks at the side of the ice, gazing over the waters in defeat.
“Well, if you guys are stuck; Appa and I can give you a lift!” With a show of his airbending, he leapt into the air and settled on the top of Appa’s giant head.
“We’d love a ride, thanks!” Katara graciously accepted as she ran to Appa’s side.
“Oh no, I am NOT getting on that fluffy snot monster.” Sokka protested.
Aang held his hand out and took Katara’s, helping her climb onto Appa’s back into a large saddle. “Are you hoping some other kind of monster will come along, and give you a ride home? You know, before you freeze to death?” Katara shot back at him.
Sokka thrust his finger up and pointed in protest, attempting to come up with a convincing reason not to, but sighed in defeat as he dropped his hand back to his side.
“Okay! First time fliers, hold tight! Appa; Yip-Yip!” He snapped the reigns lightly. Katara held her hands together and anxiously awaited flying! This is so exciting!
The beast groaned as it lifted its enormous tail into the air behind it. With a leap and backslap of his tail, he leapt into the air. But in a moment, its ascent became descent, and it belly flopped into the water below where he began to float like a giant canoe.
Katara began to crawl to the front of the saddle towards Aang. “Wow. That was truly amazing.” Sokka ridiculed. Katara turned to glare at her brother. Really, did he always have to be so pessimistic?
“Appa’s just tired. A little rest; and he’ll be soaring through the sky. You’ll see!” Aang mentioned with an upward wave of his hand. He dropped his hand back and kept his head turned back to stare to the saddle, giving Katara an enormous grin.
She grinned and turned to head back to Sokka, before glancing back and noticing Aang’s attention solely directed at her. She remained still a moment, staring back at Aang curiously. He continued to give her the same large smile; his attention seemed a bit much. “Why are you smiling at me like that?”
“O-oh, I was smiling?” Aang answered in surprise, though he sounded a bit nervous.
Katara grinned, he seemed so cute. “Ugh!” Sokka groaned at this nonsense, lolling his tongue out as he dropped his head back. Katara frowned and gazed back towards her usual pessimistic brother, though he paid her no mind, entertaining an unending disheartened frown.
Their trip back was pressing on slowly; Appa wasn’t exactly the fastest boat. Sokka had stretched out on his side at the back of the saddle, resting. Katara found the long silence a little unsettling, as she sat in the center of the saddle leaning towards her side with her legs out. This silence gave her plenty of time to think; her mind wandered back to Gran Gran; the stories she used to tell, and the one hundred year war. Weren’t Airbenders extinct? She mused, recalling that the Avatar was supposed to be an Airbender. Aang is an airbender! Maybe he knows who the Avatar is!
She shifted forward and crawled to the front of the saddle, leaning overtop its front to gaze down at Aang. The bald yellow-clothed boy looked quite relaxed. His arms were crossed behind his head, with his staff resting sideways just under his shoulders. His legs were kicked back, crossed up along Appa’s neck. He smiled pleasantly up to Katara as she appeared.
“Hey.” She posed.
“Hey, what’cha thinkin’ about?” He nonchalantly replied.
“I guess I was wondering; you’re being an airbender and all, if you had any idea what happened to the Avatar?”
“Uh, no.” He leaned forward, sitting up as a look of concern overcame him. “I didn’t know him. I mean, I knew people that knew him. But I didn’t, sorry.”
“Okay, just curious. Goodnight!” She turned and pulled away, back to the center of Appa’s saddle.
“Sleep tight.” She heard Aang call as she left.
They finally arrived at the edge of the village; where an anxious Gran Gran paced back and forth. “Finally! That’s the last time I ride on a fluffy snot-monster.” Sokka gladly called as he leapt out of the saddle and onto the snow below.
“Oh come off it, Sokka. It was more comfortable than riding your busted up canoe.” Katara retaliated, before turning and crawling to the front of the saddle. “Aang, let’s go. I’d like you to meet my Gran Gran. Aang?” She stared over the saddle, he was absolutely sound asleep, even to the point of a soft snore.
“Maybe he’s hibernating.” Sokka grinned at his own wit.
“Sokka!” She harshly replied. “He’s just tired from being in the ice. We’ll get Gran Gran to help.” She gently scaled Appa’s fur to the ground, before joining her brother as they headed for their village.
“My gracious, where have you two been? I’ve been worried sick!” Gran Gran called as the two approached the tall walls of ice surrounding their village. “Have you any idea what time it is children?”
“Sorry Gran Gran, we kind of had a little accident and lost our canoe.” Sokka reached back and scratched the back of his head.
“…and made a friend along the way. He helped us get home.” Katara dipped her chin to her chest, lifting her eyes apologetically to Kanna, her Grandmother.
“A friend? He did? Out here in the South Pole?” Kanna questioned in surprise. “Who is it?”
“A really messed up kid.” Sokka shot back with a wave of his hand. “I mean it, he seems really demented. He thinks his giant bison can fly.”
“Fly?” Kanna asked, unsure what more to say.
“His name is Aang.” Katara scowled and elbowed her brother before turning back to her Gran Gran and softening her expression. “Yes, he’s an airbender! He was trapped in ice until we freed him. But now he’s sound asleep, so I thought I’d ask if you could help us get him back and find someplace warm to sleep.”
Kanna gazed at her grandkids in shock. “An airbender? This I have to see.”
“Great. Let’s just give the weird kid a place to stay and goof around; great idea. I have important lessons to teach to the young warriors tomorrow; he’d better not get in the way.” Sokka leaned forward and sighed.
“Is there ever a time that you aren’t a jerk?” Katara frowned, glaring at her brother scornfully.
“There are occasions.” He smiled as he stuck his index finger into the air.
“Ugh!” You are so full of yourself! She swung her hands violently behind her again, apparently having not learned her lesson from their last iceberg incident. Turning away, she hastily paced off behind Kanna as they made their way to Appa to carry Aang back.
As evening approached on the following day, Sokka approached Kanna and Katara in their hut. “Look, I have to start my lesson in half an hour. If Aang sleeps any later we’ll have to put off show-and-tell to tonight.”
“You mean you can’t let those kids free for one minute, to let Aang sleep in a little longer?” Katara protested, leaning a broom she had been using against a counter.
Kanna laid a hand on Katara’s shoulder to calm her down. “Let’s just see if Aang can be woke up now. Sokka, gather the children. I’ll gather the adults. If Aang can’t be woke you can just teach your children a half hour earlier than usual.”
“Thanks Gran Gran.” Sokka grinned mightily, topping off his feeling by sticking his tongue out to his sister.
“Katara you go see if Aang is still sleeping.” Kanna patted her shoulder before making her way out of the tent.
Katara stepped past Sokka, giving him a wide berth as she glared the whole while. Without a word, she smacked the flap of their hut with the back of her hand as hard as she could; making her way into the cold of the outdoors.
“Aang, Aang wake up!” He leapt up in surprise, with some sweat on his forehead as if he had a nightmare. “It’s okay; we’re in the village now. Come on get ready, everyone’s waiting to meet you!” He climbed out from beneath the covers Kanna had laid him in. Katara quietly drew a surprised breath as she eyed his body; arrow markings did not simply cover his head – they wrapped around his entire body! She snatched his hand as he finished putting his hood on, and dragged a screaming Aang out into the open in front of everyone.
“Aang, this is the entire village.” She gleefully addressed her family, waving her hand towards the crowd before them. Nineteen people stood in a half-circle, gazing at Aang, not counting Sokka who was sitting by the tent Aang had just left, sharpening his boomerang. All the older people were women, but there were a handful of little boys all younger than Aang present as well. “Entire village; Aang.”
Aang held his staff before him, and graciously bowed his head in greeting. Everyone still remained staring at him in wonder, not saying a word. Rather, some back stepped as they stared. Aang frowned and leaned sideways towards Katara. “Uh, why are they all looking at me like that? Did Appa sneeze on me?” He asked as he examined his clothing.
Kanna made her way forward and gave answer for Aang’s curiosity. “Well no one has seen an airbender in a hundred years; we thought they were extinct. Until my granddaughter and grandson found you.”
“Extinct…?” Aang eyed in wonder, what an odd thing to say!
“Aang, this is my grandmother.” She sweetly addressed Aang.
“Call me Gran Gran.” Kanna replied singly.
“What is this, a weapon?” Sokka asked as he stepped beside Aang and snatched his staff from his hands. “You can’t stab anything with this.”
“It’s not for stabbing!” Aang laughed at Sokka’s idiocy. With a powerful suction of wind, he jerked the staff out of Sokka’s hands and back into his own. “It’s for airbending!” At this, he gripped his staff and displayed just what he meant, causing it to thrust its winged sides open like a kite. He was a bit close, and just missed thwacking Sokka’s head with its wing. Sokka grimaced and jerked back a step, raising his arms in surprise.
“Magic trick, do it again!” A little girl called out as the kids got a rise out of his staff.
“Not magic, airbending!” He swirled his staff-kite slowly around his body in show. “It lets me control the air currents around my glider and fly!”
“Y’know, last time I checked, humans – can’t – fly!” Sokka mocked.
“Check again!” Aang confidently shouted before leaping headlong into the sky and soaring with ease above the crowd. Dipping and rising, twisting and turning, he showed off happily to his spectators. Katara caught his eye; she was absolutely aglow at watching him soar. He grinned and dipped to a sideways display, not paying attention to where he was – right, he slammed into a large snowy tower.
Katara covered her mouth and gave Aang a wide-eyed stare; was he ok? He popped his head out of the snowy wall and fell to the ground in a tuft of snow. She wasted no time running over to Aang. Sokka gasped and gaped in astonishment. “My watchtower..!” He muttered lightly in horror at the damage.
Katara offered Aang her hand to help him up. “That was amazing!” He happily accepted her hand and rose to his feet, before spinning his staff and closing the kite.
“Great. You’re an airbender, Katara’s a waterbender, together you can just waste time all day long.”
“You’re a waterbender!” Aang exclaimed to Katara.
“Well, sort of. Not yet.”
“Alright, no more playing. Come on Katara, you have chores.” Kanna called out, taking Katara’s hand as they turned and headed away from Aang.
“I told you he’s the real thing, Gran Gran. I finally found a bender to teach me!” Katara ecstatically answered, only Kanna to hear her. She denied that he wasn’t a waterbender; after all she hadn’t seen any benders forever. Perhaps she could learn something by speaking with another bender.
“Katara, try not to put all your hopes in this boy.”
“But he’s special, I can tell!” She smiled warmly as she held her hands up before her. “I sense he’s filled with much wisdom!”
“Shee, now my tongue is shtuck to my shtaff.” Aang muttered foolishly to a much enthralled child audience.
Katara dropped her hands slightly, raising a brow, hoping her Gran Gran did not see that. “I’m sure.” Kanna responded in jest, which brought Katara to a solid frown as she sighed and went to their tent to return to her chores.
Katara scowled, eyeing a basket of clothes that spilled into the floor. With a stern frown, she turned aside. No, I’m going to keep my word and make him take care of himself. The dirty socks that may as well have been putting off green steam reminded her all too much of her last argument with Sokka. Still, she felt a heavy guilt on her chest she couldn’t shake, even with her arms crossed tightly. Letting out a soft sigh, an old memory returned to her that broke her hard expression. Mom wouldn’t want me to act like this. She turned, staring at the basket dryly, before succumbing to her responsibility once again.
After slightly more than an hour had passed, Kanna entered their home with a soft ripple of the tents’ front door. “Katara? Is Aang with you?” She called out as Katara popped into view from around the corner.
“No; I’ve been cleaning up after my disgusting brother for an hour.”
“Well, yes it has been an hour since we left Aang. I have not seen him anywhere; I’ll finish up around here, you go see if you can find out what happened to Aang.”
“What? Okay, I’ll find him.” She stepped out and pondered, where would Aang have gone? Sokka was likely finishing up his lecture about now, unless he had chosen to ramble on aimlessly as he normally had. She grinned, that was probably the case. She’d start there.
“Have you seen Aang?” She asked Sokka as she saw the children all walking away from him; he must have just finished. “Gran Gran said he disappeared over an hour ago!”
A familiar voice echoed as the children walked off. “Wow, everything freezes in there!”
“Ugh! Katara, get him out of here!” With a stern pointing of his finger towards Aang, he made his point. “This lesson is for warriors only!”
She idly listened, Sokka will be Sokka. She wasn’t about to go tell Aang to leave. “Whee!” The children shouted as she looked back to see them sliding down Appa’s tail, landing in a snow pile just past Sokka’s spear which was being used as a bar to sail over. Laughter filled the air; a sound that Katara didn’t hear a whole lot of from their village. She couldn’t help but join in the laughter, covering her mouth and laughing into her gloves joyously.
Her brother had other plans. “Stop! Stop it right now!” He bolted towards them and snatched his spear from the stands behind Appa. “What’s wrong with you? We don’t have time for fun and games with a war going on!”
Aang slipped from Appa’s back, landing on his feet. “What war? What are you talking about?”
“You’re kidding, right?” Sokka questioned half-heartedly. Aang’s mind went a complete other direction as he spotted something.
“Penguin!” He shouted at the top of his lungs, before using airbending to bolt past Katara and Sokka at super-speeds.
Sokka raised an eyebrow to Katara in disbelief. “He’s kidding, right?”
Is he? She shrugged to her brother as her eyes settled. She didn’t know the answer, but decided to follow after Aang. He was much more pleasant to be around than Sokka. But first, she had to get something to lure the penguins closer for Aang.
As she crossed the snowy hill and made her way down to the icy waters below, there was a herd of otter-penguins all around. There were so many, she couldn’t spot Aang at first. Where was he? “Aang?”
His laughter gave him away. She glanced to her left and saw him waddling after a group of penguins that kept just out of his reach. “Hey, come on little guy! Wanna go sledding?”
Katara approached Aang, stopping just beside him as he leapt after one and fell in the snow on his stomach, just missing it. With a soft laugh, he performed a half flip from his back up onto his feet beside Katara. “I have a way with animals.” Then he proceeded to walk away with his arms out, waddling behind one that fled from him as he made a horrible attempt to sound like an otter-penguin.
She laughed heartily once again; his pleasure was overwhelming. “Aang, I’ll help you catch a penguin, if you teach me waterbending.”
He leapt after a penguin and gripped its otter-tail, before it slipped out of his grip leaving him lying on his stomach in the snow. “You got a deal! Just one little problem; I’m an airbender, not a waterbender.” He airbended himself off of his knees, into the air, and onto his feet. “Isn’t there someone in your tribe who can teach you?”
“No.” She turned away from him, sadly lowering her voice and shutting her eyes. “You’re looking at the only waterbender in the whole South Pole.” She crossed her arms and held them close to her body.
“This isn’t right. A waterbender needs to master water.” He pondered, before gaining a bit of hope in his eyes. She loosened her grip a little as she returned to stare at Aang. “What about the North Pole? There’s another tribe up there, right? Maybe they have waterbenders who could teach you.”
“Maybe. But we haven’t had contact with our sister tribe in a long time.” Uncrossing her arms, she rose her hand up to make a statement. “It’s not exactly turn right at the second glacier. It’s on the other side of the world!” She dropped her arms low; it just wasn’t going to happen.
“But you forget! I have a flying bison. Appa and I can personally fly you to the North Pole! Katara, we’re going to find you a master!”
“That’s… I mean, I don’t know.” She cupped her hands forward, touching fingertips as she grew nervous at his suggestion. “I’ve never left home before.”
“Well, you think about it. But in the meantime, can you teach me to catch one of these penguins?!”
“Okay, listen closely my young pupil.” She feigned heightened intelligence, placing her palms together and bowing slightly. “Catching penguins is an ancient; and sacred art. Observe.” She withdrew a fish she had been hiding, before tossing it into Aang’s hands.
He instantly became surrounded, and his laughing drowned out by the chatter of otter-penguins as they pulled him to the ground to grab the fish.
“Whoo!” Katara shouted as they shot over the edge of a steep cliff, each on an otter-penguin which fell to slide carelessly on its soft belly. The sudden jolt knocked a slight scream out of Katara, but it faded to instant laughter at the rush of the wind invigorating her.
“Yeaaah!” Aang bellowed as his penguin landed beside Katara’s, joining in the laughter.
They took turns shouting as they caught air on jumps, switching up who was in the lead as they unknowingly raced to the bottom. “I haven’t done this since I was a kid!” Katara shouted merrily. At this she remembered what it had been like back before her mother died. Back then she had felt free to be a child, free to have all the fun she wanted, but since her death she’d lost those moments. The wind in her face, the memory slipped away just as fast as it came; Aang had relit happiness in her that she had long forgotten.
“You still are a kid!” Aang pointed out, just before they slid into a narrow tunnel that wrapped down the hillside. They rotated left and right on its smooth surface, small beams of sunlight streaming into the tunnel from holes in its side that they dodged. As they neared the bottom; Aang used airbending to shoot past Katara’s otter-penguin, circling along the ceiling of the tunnel.
They slid to a stop just outside; and climbed off of the penguins, which took their leave of the situation and began climbing back to the group they left behind. Katara followed as Aang walked towards a large metal ship, stopping just outside of its overcast shadow. “Wooah, what is that?”
“A Fire Navy ship; and a very bad memory for my people.” She stared in awe, before noticing that Aang began walking towards the ship. She raised a hand in protest. “Aang, stop! We’re not allowed to go near it; the ship could be booby-trapped!”
He halted and turned his head back to her. “If you want to be a bender, you have to let go of fear.”
Uneasily, she approached to stand by Aang’s side as they silently made their way into the broken hull of the ship. It smelled musty, and she could swear she heard scuttling just out of sight. The corridors were horribly creepy; so many knobs and chains and hooks; she was hardly used to any of this.
Aang turned and entered a room, eyeing various weapons lying idly along the walls of a cubicle room. “This ship has haunted my tribe since Gran Gran was a little girl; it was part of the Fire Nations’ first attacks.”
The weapons and her words appeared to unease him, as he approached and gripped a large spear leaning on the back wall. “Okay, back up. I have friends all over the world; even in the Fire Nation. I’ve never seen any war.”
Katara stood shocked; he really didn’t know. “Aang, how long were you in that iceberg?”
“I don’t know; a few days maybe?” He unsurely replied.
“I think it was more like a hundred years…” She posed, gazing at him in surprise.
“What?” He made in jest, putting back the spear as he turned to face her. “That’s impossible. Do I look like a hundred twelve year old man to you?”
“Think about it; the war is a century old.” She spread her hands down and away from her body. “You don’t know about it because; somehow, you were in there that whole time. It’s the only explanation.”
This was too much for him. His hand rose to press against his head as his face knotted up in realization. For the first time, he looked absolutely broken-hearted. He stumbled away from her and fell back, landing on his rear. He gazed downward, dropping his hands to the floor between his legs. “A hundred years… I can’t believe it…”
She felt for him; his sadness seemed so out of character. She stepped closer and knelt beside him, resting her right hand on his back. “I’m sorry Aang. Maybe somehow there’s a bright side to all this.” She attempted to offer some semblance of hope for him.
“I did get to meet you.” He quickly responded with just as large a grin as when she had questioned for him staring at her before. He sure did perk up fast. She grinned cheerfully at him, touched at his words.
“Come on, let’s get out of here.” She took his hand and they stood, heading out into the corridor.
A moment later, Aang was still exploring. They turned into an engine room, as Katara felt increasingly unsure of their surroundings, actually feeling lost in the ship’s dark corridors. “Aang, let’s head back. This place is creepy.”
Just then, his foot snagged a tripwire buried in snow thanks to a hole in the roof. “Huh?” A barred door slammed shut behind them, blocking their exit from the room. Katara gasped and leapt back, grabbing the barred door helplessly. “What’s that you said about booby traps…” Aang responded.
Katara gasped again as knobs turned and twisted under immense pressure; letting off steam and shaking madly. “Uh oh.” Aang idly stated; as both held their hands pressed to a window, watching an enormous fire navy signal flare rise high into the air.
Aang stepped behind Katara, gazing up the single hole in the ships’ ceiling. “Hold on tight!” He shouted. Before giving warning, he lurched forward and snapped Katara up into his arms. She shouted in surprise as he airbended them straight up through the hole. As they descended lengthy falls; Katara yelled in fright, throwing her arms around Aang and holding as tightly as she could.
Once finally on ground again, she let out a sigh of relief and stood upright as he let her down. “Warn me you’re going to do that next time!” She shouted in protest, panting from the fear of falling so far that she had just experienced.
Aang laughed nervously for a moment. “Sorry about that.”
“We’d better get back; I think we’re going to be in big trouble for this…” She frowned as they began running back to her village side by side.
Props to Ianbernard for helping make this wonderful chapter template with images! (he created the images)
The Boy in the Iceberg
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