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Book One: Rebirth
This is the first chapter in the story.
It's not easy being the daughter of the United Republic President. Mina, a 19-year-old girl who is attached to her father's image, has always wanted something bigger than herself. She awakes on this brand new morning, ready for a new adventure which she is soon to find out will never happen.
The light of the morning shone its way to Mina's eyes. It illuminated her black hair, pale complexion, and small face. Her eyelids slowly opened to show the orange eyes beneath. Her eyes widened, and she quickly jumped up from her bed. The covers fell of onto the floor, and Mina stretched. She was ready for the coming day.
It wasn't easy living in the house of the United Republic President. Every day there were reporters or people catching Mina walk through the city. She just wished that, for once in her life, she could go about her business in peace. Today was that day. She was going to the Fire Nation on vacation with her family!
Mina grabbed her clothes from the dresser beside her and rushed to get changed. She rushed out her bedroom door, down the small hallway, and to the outside. As the large doors opened, she saw the morning light glimmering on the water of the bay. She ran outside, nearly knocking a servant over.
"Sorry!" she said as she passed by. She ran down the marble stairs, and onto the grass of the courtyard. She ran toward the gate. There, her father and mother were waiting by the car which had come to pick them up.
"Mina," her mother said as she came running up. She was obviously concerned. As Mina ran up to her, she grabbed her daughter's face in sympathy.
"What is it?" Mina asked. She pulled away from her mother's grasp and looked at her father. "What's wrong?"
Her father looked at the ground. He tried to avoid the point, but it had to come up sometime. He looked up at his daughter and said frankly, "We're not going to the Fire Nation."
"What?" Mina said, shocked. She had been waiting all year for this chance, and now it was gone. It had fallen from her grasp, just like a dove falling from a ledge. She stumbled back in disbelief.
"The protests there have taken a violent turn," he said. "People have started attacking police, they've started raiding the government buildings." He looked his daughter in the eye. "I'm sorry," he said. He took a step toward his daughter, but she just stepped backward.
A tear came falling from her eye. She turned and ran away. She ran toward the wall and used a burst of fire to fly above the wall. The guards beside the president and his wife started toward Mina's former position, but he rose a hand.
"No," he said. "Let her go."
Mina ran through the streets. She didn't see anything, because she had her eyes closed, trying to keep the tears in. Cars stopped in her tracks, people fell over when she passed by. Finally, she made it to the harbor.
Mina sat on the side of the wooden harbor. Her legs hung off the side. Her tears fell into the water of the bay below. She opened her eyes and saw her reflection in the water. As her tears fell in, it was distorted by the waves.
Mina heard footsteps behind her. She turned around to see a green robed boy, about her size and age, walking up to her. He had his long hair put up in a top-knot. He had wide, alert green eyes, and a very thin face.
"Mina?" he said as he walked up.
Mina waved him away. "Go away," she said. Her crying and sobbing had stopped, but now she just sat on the edge of the wood, watching her own reflection ride the waves.
The boy sat down beside Mina and hung his legs over the edge. His toes touched the water. He held his hands together on his lap. They sat there for a moment before Mina started telling him everything.
"I'm not going to the Fire Nation," she said. She threw her head up in frustration, and turned to her friend. He looked back. He had a sympathetic look for her, just like her father. But this boy meant more to her than her own father. She leaned onto his shoulder, and he stroked her hair. "Thanks, Jeeng," she said. He just kept stroking her hair.
The two sat on the harbor, looking out upon the water, talking about their imaginary trips to different lands. They both laughed, they both cried; they had a good time. However, without either of them realizing it, night had fallen. Both of their stomachs were eating themselves away, and Jeeng was the first to come up with the idea to get something to eat.
"I know this great place on 46th street," he said. He stood up and placed his hand out for Mina. She grabbed it, and they started off for the mysterious restaurant.
This mysterious restaurant Jeeng talked about wasn't that bad, Mina thought. It was a noodle shop owned by a man named Chobu. it was a regular hotspot for the poorer people of Republic City.
"Thanks for taking me here," Mina said. She wiped her mouth of the noodle juices with her paper napkin. As she looked back over at Jeeng, she noticed he had a full mouth of noodles, and was still piling them in. Mina laughed.
"What?" Jeeng said, muffled, through his mouthful of noodles. After he had slurped them up and swallowed them, he told her, "I'm going for a world record." After a short pause, they both laughed.
Mina looked at Jeeng as he ate. He seemed like a wildebeest. He was so rebellious, sort of like herself. She decided to do something she had never done before. "I'm going to the Fire Nation," she said. "By myself."
Jeeng looked up at her. He still had a full mouth. His eyes were wide with surprise. He swallowed his mouthful and said, "Your parents won't like that, will they?"
Mina waved the subject away from herself. "Who cares what they think," she said. She flipped her straight, long black hair, and looked back at Jeeng. He sat forward in his seat, his eyes wide, his mouth open. He had to hold himself up with his elbows on the table. "What?" Mina said.
Jeeng composed himself. "I never thought I'd hear you say that," he stated.
"So?" Mina plainly said. She looked down at the table and leaned forward in her seat. She looked back up at Jeeng and said, "How are your parents?" She tried to clarify herself. "I mean, how are they about you staying out after dark? Are they overbearing, or are they fun-loving?" She looked into Jeeng's eyes. "You've never really talk about them."
Jeeng wiped his mouth. He held the napkin up to his mouth for a while. He cleared his throat, looked back up at Mina, took a breath, and started, "I don't have any parents." He sat back and continued. "I was abandoned on the side of the street as a little kid," he said. "I was 10. I had already unlocked my earthbending." It finally clicked in his head. "I guess they never wanted a bender."
Mina looked at him with sympathy. "I'm sorry," she said. "I never knew. And this whole time I've been talking about how my parents are-"
Jeeng stopped her. "No, it's fine," he said. "I'm happy to listen. It kinda makes me part of your family." He looked down at the table. "The worst part is that I remember stuff about them, my parents," he said. "I remember whenever they found out I was an earthbender. My father wanted no part of it." He sighed and looked up at Mina. "Anyway, about this crazy scheme to go to the Fire Nation," he said.
Mina leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. "Don't try to change my mind," she said. She had obviously made up her mind.
Jeeng leaned forward and looked straight into her eyes. "I won't," he said. Mina looked surprised. Jeeng continued. "I know I can't convince you of anything. But I just want you to know it is very dangerous over there right now."
Mina shrugged. "So?" she said. "I never really got why they're protesting anyway. They used to be the biggest superpower in the world."
"And that's exactly why they're protesting," he said. "They want to be a superpower again. They want to secede from the Republic." Jeeng sat back and looked Mina in the eye. "I'm going with you," he said.
Mina sat up and looked at him. She shook her head. "No," he said. "This is my journey. I'm doing it alone."
Jeeng leaned forward again. "It's dangerous over there," he said. "I've made that point. I don't want anything happening to you." He leaned back and crossed his arms. "I'm going."
Mina shrugged. "Whatever," she said. "We leave at daybreak. Meet me down at the harbor. I'll get everything else."
Jeeng shrugged. "Fine," he said. "Meet you at daybreak."
Mina woke up just before sunrise the next morning. She really hadn't slept the whole night. She grabbed her bag full of clothes, and ran out the door. As she passed by her parents room, she tiptoed. She could see a light shining through a crack in the door. She peeped inside and saw her two parents sitting up in bed, talking.
"I don't know what to do," her father said. He stroked his greying goatee.
Meana stroked his back. "Don't be so hard on yourself, Iano," she said. Iano looked back at her. They both smiled. But soon, Iano's worry got the better of him.
"What if she tries to go there?" he said. "We can't let her go over there."
Meana looked him in the eye. "Our daughter is growing into a beautiful, smart, mature young lady," she said. "We have to let her go sometime."
Iano took his thick glasses off and rubbed his eyes. "But what if I don't want her to go right now?" he said. He looked over and saw his wife looking him in the eye.
"It's time to let her go," she said.
Mina knew that it was time for her to go. Lightly stepping on the hard wood floors, she rushed out. She slipped out a side door, and as she turned around, met a guard. He was wearing a metalbending police uniform. He looked down at Mina and narrowed his eyes.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
Mina closed the door behind her and looked the man in the eye. "Don't tell anyone," she said. She walked around the guard. Just before she descended the stairs, she turned around and told the guard, "If anyone asks, tell them the truth." After a moment, she told the guard the truth. "I'm going to the Fire Nation."
Without another word, Mina rushed off. She used a crack in the huge wall surrounding the mansion to get out undetected. Stepping out onto the grass outside the mansion, she ran down toward town. The President's Mansion sat on a hill above the city. A single, heavily guarded road led to the compound, but that wasn't where Mina was going.
Mina took a trail through the woods to the side of the mansion. She skirted between trees, underneath branches, and avoided predators. Finally, she made it to the city. She stepped onto the road, and almost immediately, a car came running toward her. She ran to the sidewalk on the other side of the road.
Mina skirted the edge of the buildings. Whenever a policeman walked by, she disappeared into an available alleyway beside her. She quickly made her way down to the harbor. There, Jeeng was waiting at the same place they sat at yesterday. When Mina arrived, he threw his arms up in excitement.
"Finally!" he exclaimed. "I've been waiting for you."
"Yeah," Mina said, straightening her hair. She rubbed her arm as she explained, "I kinda got held up." She looked down at the old, rotting wood planks and thought of what she heard earlier.
The sound of a foghorn snapped Mina out of her trance. A large, metal boat came up and stopped at the spot beside them. Mina stepped onto the harbor and met the man who stepped off the boat. He was a grey-haired, heavy man.
"Well hello there, girl," he said. He had a wooden toothpick in his mouth. He grabbed it and put it in his pocket. "What can I do for you?" he asked.
"We need transport," she said. She tried to be as vague as she could without giving her real intentions.
"To where?" the man asked, narrowing his eyes. He leaned his head forward and looked at Mina suspiciously.
"To the Fire Nation," she said, with authority.
The man snapped back in his previous position. He grabbed his toothpick out of his pocket and began chewing on it. "Can't," he said.
"Why not?" Jeeng said, calmly. He knew Mina was getting fired up, so he took the conversation into his hands.
"It's too dangerous over there," he said. "Plus, you might be protesters." He looked at them closer. "Nope, can't take that chance," he said. "I've got business to be doing, and I can't have it halted by you two."
Mina grabbed the man's dirty white shirt. She held her palm up in the other hand and a fire ignited. She held it to the man's face. "I've got to get to the Fire Nation, and I won't let you stand in my way," she said, with attitude.
Jeeng stepped up and grabbed Mina's arm. Her fire was extinguished. She turned around and looked at her friend in astonishment. She still held the man up with the other hand. "Let's take this easy," Jeeng said. "Provoking him will only make the situation worse."
"Yeah, listen to your friend," the man said, hastily. "Take it easy!"
With a puff, Mina dropped the man, still holding her gaze at Jeeng. "Fine," she said. She looked in her pocket and pulled out a few pieces of money. She turned to the man and held it out to him. "This is all I've got," she said. "Take it. At least take us to the Northern Water Tribe. We can find some kind of transport from there."
The man had a stroke of sympathy. "You've got passion, girl," he said. He grabbed the money, counted it, and waved toward his boat. "I'll take ya to the Fire Nation," he said. He grabbed Mina as she passed by and said to her, "It's the least I could do."
A smile came on Mina's face. "Thanks," she said. She caught up to Jeeng, who had stopped at the ramp up to the boat. She looked at him, and they both laughed. "I guess diplomacy is the best policy," she said to him.
Jeeng held his head up high in victory, and Mina punched him lightly on the shoulder. He looked at her while rubbing his shoulder. They both laughed. Jeeng walked up the ramp, and waved toward his companion. Mina jogged up to him, and they both disappeared into the boat.
Mina sat at the front of the large ship. She leaned on the dark, cold metal railing on the front of the boat. She looked out upon the blue oceans that were ahead of them. Her eyes peered out throughout the unknown, hoping she would see land soon.
Jeeng walked up beside her. He leaned on the railing too, and watched the waters too. He looked over at Mina, who didn't budge an inch. "Anxious?" he asked.
Mina turned to him. She shrugged. "I don't know," she said. "I guess I just don't know what to expect." She turned her gaze back upon the unknown waiting for them ahead.
Jeeng looked down at the metal floor of the boat. "What if it's not what you expected?" he said.
Mina looked down. She had never thought of it that way. This poked at her mind. She stood up and walked back toward the center of the boat. "I don't know," she said. She rubbed her arms with her hands. She sat down at about the center of the deck, just in front of a ramp leading to the decks below.
Jeeng came and sat down beside her. She looked over at him, then looked down at the floor. She stretched out her legs and laid her hands on the floor beside her. She thought of arriving at the Fire Nation. She imagined it being just like Republic City, large and glorious. Then she thought of the worst-case scenario, fires burning at the harbor, people rioting against the Republic. She didn't know if she could take that risk.
Jeeng could tell Mina was distressed. He laid his hand next to hers, and slowly inched it toward her hand. After a moment, without either of them realizing, they were holding each other's hand. Mina looked up and looked into Jeeng's eyes. He had always been there for her. A weak, easy smile grew on his face, and it was mirrored on Mina's. She laid her head on Jeeng's shoulder, and they sat there, together.
Mina obviously wasn't looking, because without her knowing, they had already docked at the harbor. She opened her eyes and saw grass stretching along the side of the coast. No other boats were in the harbor; they were the only ones there. Mina stood up, and noticed a city in the distance. It didn't seem unruly. In fact, it seemed peaceful, exactly like Republic City.
Jeeng stood up and stretched. He looked over at Mina, and they both walked down into the interior of the boat. They walked to where the ramp was slowly descending to the harbor side. The light slowly reached around the sides of the door, and into the boat. It shone onto Mina's glistening face. Mina's eyes were locked on the center of the doorway.
As soon as the ramp hit the harbor, Mina ran out. She hesitated at the side of the ramp. She put one foot on the harbor, and realized it was safe. In a fury of excitement, she jumped onto the wooden pier and started dancing around. Jeeng walked off the ship and leaned on a post on the end of the wooden platform. He crossed his arms and watched as Mina made a fool of herself.
Mina stopped and noticed Jeeng watching her. She laughed, and Jeeng laughed too. Jeeng walked toward the land, and Mina followed. As they inched closer to the border, Mina's excitement grew. Finally, they stepped onto the soft ground. Mina was elated. She grabbed Jeeng's hand and ran toward the city in the distance. Jeeng wasn't expecting this, and was nearly swept off his feet.
The city looked almost exactly like Republic City. The grass and dirt of the countryside slowly turned into roads, and buildings started to sprout up. As they neared the center of the city, Mina heard something. They rounded a corner, and that's when it hit her.
Fires roared around the plaza. Metalbending police held metal shields in front of them as they sent pieces of earth into the crowd that had gathered in the plaza. In the center of the area, on a wooden platform, being shielded by the crowd, was a thin, tall man. He wore a long red overcoat, and held a megaphone in one hand.
"Keep fighting, children!" he said. "This is what our great leader tells you!" The man turned, and Mina got a glimpse of his face. One half of his face was scarred. It looked like a firebending scar. The other half was tight, but thin. He obviously had bright red eyes. They shone in the glimmering sunlight. His mouth was wide, but was mostly hidden by a large, dark beard.
Jeeng grabbed Mina's shirt. Mina snapped out of her trance and realized she was about to enter the flames surrounding the plaza. People were around her, bystanders mixed in with police. Mina turned around and only saw Jeeng's arm. It yanked on her shirt, and she was pulled out of the crowd. Jeeng pulled Mina behind a building. People passed back and forth, entering and leaving the crowd. None of them noticed the outsider couple standing beside the building.
Jeeng looked Mina in the eye. "This," he said, turning her to see the plaza, "is why I wanted to come with you."
Mina stood in shock. She grabbed Jeeng's arms and looked in his eyes. Jeeng looked at her back. He grabbed her and hugged her tight. As she was held in his embrace, Mina watched, through the crowd, the fires blaze. She could feel the heat coming toward her. It seemed to burn her eyes, and tears started falling.
I should have never come, she thought.
For the collective works of the author, go here.