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|Chapter 3: Impasse|
Sand and Steel
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 3: ImpasseEdit
The wind whipped through Tala’s hair as she stood on the lower balconies of an airship. Sister Lio commissioned the old ship for transport of goods for the Air Nomads, she was happy to lend it to Hava to transport the Avatar back to Omashu quickly.
Tala was looking at a picture of herself as a child with her parents on a locket she kept to herself. She was confused, and when she was confused, she thought about her family.
Tala recounted the time she spent in Republic City. Tala was certain that Rishu either was the Black Dragon or personally knew him. His own fiancee said the title out loud.
But what could Tala do with just suspicion, even Hava and Lio were skeptical. Tala wanted to know why and who Rishu was. She decided to research him. There was both a surprisingly large and small amount.
Rishu is the nephew of the former Firelord by his father; but his family history from his mother’s side was apparently non-existent. A prodigy, Rishu was raised in Capital City, and mastered fire-bending at ten. He left for the Sun Warriors to train further in a Family Rite of Passage, presumably his mother’s as his father didn’t do it. Rishu came back to Capital City five years later, a firebending master of unmatched power. Rishu set out to business in fashion of all things while also preparing for a career in military.
At age twenty, Rishu’s uncle, the Firelord died. Rishu’s cousin, Ma-Tin, was only sixteen and had nowhere near the experience to rule. She asked her cousin to help her and he did. Rishu became Regent of the Fire Nation. For the last eight years, he effectively ruled the Fire Nation while teaching Ma-Tin how to lead. In this time, he became the Grand Marshal of the Air Force in this time, further increasing his power. He commissioned the new Sky Dragons, the third and final Dragon Corp of the Fire Nation military.
At some point, there was a mass consent that Rishu should become Firelord, and rumor was that Ma-Tin welcomed it. Rishu rejected it two years ago and decreased his activity as Regent and stepped up his participation in the military.
Rishu was heavily invested in bringing firebenders back to the homeland. In a first strike to Republic City’s stability, over three-quarters of the worker from the lightning generation plant were picked up and recruited by Rishu. They came with great offers to take them and their families to Capital City, where lightning generation was honored and could make much more industrially or in the military.
Republic City retaliated with a salvo of trade tariffs that would cost too much. Both suffered from the tariffs, but the Fire Nation was angered when contracts were broken and violated by these new and inflammatory laws. The two powers have been stepping up on each other in a trade war with border disputes. To take it to the next level, the United Forces are now escorting trade ships with navy vessels.
The information showed Rishu’s past actions, but not his motive for it. Was he trained to be this way? Was it the ten years in Capital City or the five in the Sun Warrior civilization? Or is he simply following orders?
It was just too much with too little information and no evidence to prove his complicity.
The airship arrived later that afternoon to Omashu. A procession of guards led by King Urri came to meet them. “Thank goodness you got out, I thought that they had already moved in.”
Hava looked at Urri, “What are you talking about? We left this morning.”
“You didn’t hear? The Fire Nation is marshaling its forces for war. So is the United Forces. War is starting again.”
Tala was pacing in the throne room, “What do you mean its war? The Fire Nation wouldn’t just invade Republic City!”
“All their forces are being marshalled, except the Air Force, no one knows where they are.”
Hava spoke in, “Not surprising, Rishu commands them and is in Republic City, can’t quite give the commands needed for this situation, they’ll be the last to respond. The question is what is the United Forces doing?”
“What does it matter? The Fire Nation will slaughter the City and start a new war.”
“Yes and no. The Fire Nation has the largest military, true. But the United Forces are more advanced their long range bombers will be critical in attacking. The United Forces have a faster first-strike capability. If they act fast, they can stop the Fire Nation before they can invade.”
The telephone started up near the king. His servant answered it. “Your highness, the Earth King has sent a message through to all cities to expect on the cables.”
Hava and Tala joined Urri as he headed to the communication room. Indeed, a message from Ba Sing Se was coming through, a high priority message. “Well, what does it say?”
Urri continued reading, “Earth King Iruei is calling on all military forces to Ba Sing Se to report to war.” Urri read dumbfounded. “He expects me to lead all the forces from Omashu and the surrounding lands north to meet with the forces of Ba Sing Se.”
“So what are we going to do?”
“I will not run around at Iruei’s beck and call!”
“We need to discuss this with everyone.”
A meeting was called soon after. It included, Urri, Hava, the leaders of Clan Rohan and the leaders of the White Lotus, along with Avatar Tala. Kulek was able to attend since he wore tattoos of a master. It was a long debate, but they decided to not answer the summons. Hava disagreed with it, but would not challenge the decision.
Hava looked to Urri, “You realize that the Earth King can say you’re defying him. He may take action against you.”
“Bah! Omashu is a fortress; I’ll fear the enemy successfully invading when they are all Avatars!”
Cheering from the White Lotus and the generals of Omashu ringed through the war room. Omashu would defy the order of the Earth King and stay put and instead marshal their forces in the city. Tala was not sure what to make of it. By no means did she want to join Ba Sing Se and go to war, neither did she want to place the city and its people in danger.
The cheering was put to a close when a colonel ran in out of breath. “Your Highness, they are moving!”
“Everyone, the Earth Kingdom, the United Forces, the Fire Nation, and even the Water Tribes; they are moving on Republic City!”
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