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|Chapter 4: The Blockade|
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 4: The Blockade
Two Weeks Ago...
The island was humid as the heat of summer stuck in the air. It was truly a miserable island, but it was on the edge of the Fire Nation and less than a day's ride to Republic City. Perfect for striking coastlands for the continent with both naval fleets and air forces.
The man looked intently as the Air Force was preparing to disembark. An officer came to the observations room. "Sir, the fleet is ready to set off in the hour."
"Good, we will fly north and split up from there. A small detachment shall head to the Western Air Temple; and remember, only for containment. By no means are we to attack. The majority of the fleet shall then head north-east of Republic City."
The men started filing into the airships as they sprang to life. "Soon we will have our in, and Republic City will be blind to our attack."
"Sir, are you sure that the Earth Kingdom will do what you think?"
"Prince The Snowbold is ambitious and will do what he can to expand his future kingdom. The true issue is what will Omashu do?"
"Commander, tell me. Who lives in Omashu? Someone very powerful."
The man nodded, "King Urri has political weight he lacked a decade before because the Avatar was found in his city where Ba Sing Se couldn't grab her. The city may feel more loyalty to Republic City, a trading partner they work with much more than their capital, Ba Sing Se."
"Prepare the Dragons, Commander Taron. The time has come."
"Yes, sir." The commander left, leaving the orchestrator alone.
"Yes, its time for the Black Dragon to do what we've waited two centuries for."
Tala watched as the city was hustling. People from the outlands were flooding into the safety of the city. Even two hundred years later, people held the memory of the War. Along with the people came all the forces of the region. Most of the soldiers had ties stronger to Omashu than Ba Sing Se. The military presence in the city had more than tripled.
Plus the gorge's military purpose had been expanded. It used to be a way to cut off infantry with a deep gorge that only bridges could cross. Now the steep walls of the gorge were being dug into and made shipyards for creation of new airships. This process had begun a decade ago, but war has made it more important. Hundreds of steelworkers and mechanics were either digging out, creating transportation to and from, or working on the airships. Only fifteen airships were in action with another three almost ready. King Urri had commissioned an additional thirty airships. But only ten of those would be ready anytime soon.
The biggest problem for Omashu if sieged was supplies. In the past, Omashu could easily hold enough supplies for the entire city for years. But the population of the city had more than tripled since the Hundred Year War. The reserves of the city, while considerable, could not feed them all forever.
King Urri was watching the scene too. But where Tala had worry about the disadvantages, Urri looked on in pride. "Omashu will be restored to its greater glory once again."
"At what cost? If we go to war with the Fire Nation, we can't win."
"You're stuck in the past. The Fire Nation has been de-fanged. Against the combined might of the United Forces, the Water Tribes and the White Lotus; the Fire Nation will have a hard time keeping any of its gains. And if Ba Sing Se joins the fight, it will be too much for one nation to handle."
"Yes, the Fire Nation was 'de-fanged' after the War, but that isn't the case anymore. This Black Dragon has ramped up the military and has won the people against Republic City. The Fire Nation has always been technologically advanced and has more resources than the United Forces right now."
"Perhaps, but I think the Firelord will have to rethink her strategy after trying to take Republic City."
Tala and the King were walking through the palace discussing logistics when Hava found them, "There has been news."
"That's not good."
"The Fire Nation has blockaded Republic City. The United Forces is boxed in just the same. The blockade started three days ago."
"Why didn't we hear anything before?"
"Communications blackout, the Fire Nation has begun sabotaging critical functions of the cities. We got these reports from those in the mountains outside of the City. If they surrounded the city, it will not be long before a response is made. That city lives on trade, if food stops coming in for three days, the people will starve."
Tala asked, "Then what are we going to do about it?"
"We can't do anything. Our forces might be significant, but they are not enough to break the blockade on land, and definitely not on sea. The Fire Navy rules the seas, no matter what the United Forces think."
Urri spoke, "I expect that Ba Sing Se has already moved the moment they lost contact with the city. They will be at the City in two to three days."
A large alarm could be heard from across the palace and the commotion of soldiers to station. Hava, Urri, and Tala went to the stable where the large roaring of a bison could be heard. They all ran for the Air Nomads' enclave.
What is to come
They found the entrance to the stables in shambles. The sky bison had fell into landing, Tala soon saw why. The bison's entire left side was covered in scars and burns, and so was his airbending rider. Both were in great pain as the healers attended to both.
The airbender saw Hava and began speaking. "Hava, they're moving! They're there!"
"Slow down, who?"
"The Fire Nation has attacked the United Forces Airbases, all their long-range bombers are destroyed or pinned to the ground. I saw it for myself. Republic City's air defense won't stand a chance without the bombers."
"So the Fire Nation really means to attack? I had hoped they just meant to show force and make the city submit to food shortages. But destroying the bases is an act of war. But how did this happen to you"
The Air Nomad grabbed Hava, "They're coming here! They saw me and came after me, to keep me from coming back. Threw everything they could. Only the white blast of fire got me. They kept following me with more than just an intercepting party. At least seven ships. They will be here tomorrow."
"White fire?" Tala didn't like the sound of this.
"Yes, it was so hot I felt my skin boil. I felt Turu's pain as well." The nomad beckoned to the bison behind him.
Hava made the same connections as Tala and asked, "Did you see who fired this flame?"
"Not really, it was too far away, some man in black, but almost all of them had those colors."
"Rest and recover," Hava looked at the White Lotus healers, "Take care of both of them."
The three and Grand Lotus Kuel left to talk, "This isn't good. We have may very well have the Black Dragon coming for us."
Kuel and Urri at the same time asked, "Who is the Black Dragon?"
Hava explained what he knew and Tala's visions. "If the Black Dragon is truly attacking the airbases, he will take Republic City and then march on to meet Ba Sing Se before they can reach Republic City, in the meantime blockade will be made on us. So that we can't interfere with their war. The Black Dragon doesn't want to fight the Avatar clearly, or else he would have attacked while we were still in the city."
Kuel spoke, "If only seven ships are coming, we have twice that, we can easily break it and join the Earth Kingdom forces to retake Republic City."
Tala chimed in, "He said at least seven, and there are likely more on the way. Not to mention, the Fire Nation Airships are the best in the world, faster and stronger than any of ours. Its amazing that a bison was able to outdistance them. No, we are stuck here in a trap and they know it."
A Day Ago...
The airships split off as a contingent headed south. Commander Taron spoke, "Sir, are you sure we should send ships to Omashu? Our reports indicate they are digging in, not marching. They are little threat to us."
"For now. When word reaches them that we are invading, they will march to the defense of Republic City. Even if it would be a slaughter to stop them, we don't have time or resources to waste on that, not yet."
A message alarm beeped and Taron answered it, he listened then turned to his leader, "Sir, a sky bison has been spotted near the airbase. They'll have seen our attack."
That made the Black Dragon turn, "Fools, sending scouts out that far! No doubt to find out why there is a communication blackout with the city. Turn the ship on an intercept course, we can't let them return to Omashu, tell the contingent to try and intercept as well."
The next hour was pursuit as a sky bison was frantically dodging attacks from all directions. Nets, fire, cables were all being thrown at the Air Nomad. The Black Dragon went to the attack bay and joined his men in firing on the scout.
He had hoped to avoid this, he had no quarrel with the Air Nomads, and meant them no harm, but he could not allow anyone to know that the invasion of the city was already beginning.
He saw that while the nomad was a skillful rider, he had patterns, predictable patterns. Rishu began the curve in his arm and fired ten meters ahead of the bison. The flame hit dead on into the side of the bison and the rider. Screams and bellows of pain could be heard by all the ships. But the bison flew only faster as it burned, his rider using airbending to put out the burning flesh. The bison was flying too fast to hit accurately again. Lightning should have been used, a mistake on his part. The bison continued to outdistance the airships. He looked to Taron, "Tell the contingent to continue to its objective and try to stop that bison from getting away."
Taron inclined his head and departed for the radio.
Omashu and now the Avatar will soon learn that the war has begun, sooner than they had hoped. Now focus of the war will have to change. Years of planning could be ruined by a single scout and timing.
Hava was touring the shipyards in the gorge. The ships were impressive and large, but would be slow. Urri justified that they only needed to defend the city and not try and attack beyond it. Hava hoped he was right. The Fire Nation's 1st Invasion Fleet was fast and strong, and held the Storm Ship. With luck, Omashu would never have to see that fleet above its buildings.
Hava also saw the construction of other vehicles, namely the war planes. There was nowhere in Old Omashu or the Gorge with airstrips long enough to launch them, but an aviator had another idea. He suggested having a carrier airship, specifically fitted for holding war planes. They would hold them on the bottom and outside and carry to bays for landing them when out of fuel. It was agreed to be made and if successful, more carriers would be commissioned.
Hava saw enough of the gorge and left for the Palace. He had sent other scouts, in different directions. He knew the Fire Nation was only hours away from Omashu but want to know if any other forces were coming. Most of the scouts returned now with reports of no one coming. But one from the northeast had a different one.
"An army from the Earth Kingdom is marching its way here. A full column. They should be here by the end of the day."
"Did they have air support?"
"No but I saw anti-aircraft devices in there."
"Hm maybe between the two, the Fire Nation will be inclined to not attack us. Good work."
Hava went to the Throne Room to send the message out. Kuel was present but both Tala and King Urri were about the city and had to be summoned. Upon arrival, Hava informed them of the troops. King Urri and Kuel were pleased with the development. Kuel expressed his enthusiasm, "If the Earth Kingdom is sending reinforcements, then we can rest easy. The Fire Nation has not chance of holding a siege while an army is behind them."
"I agree, but even with reinforcements, it won't be easy to push out the Fire Nation if they attack. But hopefully a show of force will be enough."
Word soon spread of reinforcements which lightened the mood of the tense city, that changed quickly when the Fire Nation Airships arrived. Ten in all, the ships were of the latest design, while not the fastest in the fleet, they could withstand most attacks, bender or technology.
The airships circled the city, five ships clockwise and the other five counter-clockwise. The ships looked to be armed for strafing runs and bombing. Nothing else happened, if the Omashu Airships were launched, the Fire Nation would shoot them down and a battle would start with the Fire Nation bombing and the city firing back.
This lasted as the columns of the Earth Kingdom Army marched to Omashu. They could now be seen as the sun was setting. They bore banners of Ba Sing Se, meaning they are troops from the capital itself. An intimidating and large host for any land forces but less so for the air force the Fire Nation deployed, but they did have the anti-air emplacements reported.
The Earth Kingdom Army marched fearlessly. The city was cheering and welcoming the arrival. But Hava noticed something else. The Column split into three formations, each heading to different angle to the city. Each for a bridge of Old Omashu.
Hava knew it before the others and flew on his staff to Urri, "Close the city now!"
"What are you talking about? Our reinforcements have arrived."
"Open your eyes. How many reinforcements cover every exit of the city they're coming to save?"
Urri's eyes expanded with realization, he called to his officers, "Close the city."
The command rang through the city as civilians were confused and the soldiers close out the entire city from the arriving army. The Ba Sing Se army took it in stride. And surrounded the city.
The Earth Kingdom was sieging Omashu...
- The Black Dragon had to accelerate his plans when the scout from Omashu discovered his assault on the United Forces. The Black Dragon didn't intend to move against Omashu until much later.
- It was important that the reinforcements of the Earth Kingdom were from Ba Sing Se, where they would have loyalty to the king and not the cities beyond it; therefore able to siege their own people in war.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Storms of the Future Cycle
|The Journey of Tala|
|Book 1 - Sand and Steel|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 2 - Blood and Swamps|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 3 - Pyres and Storms|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Fates and Vows|
|- - - - - - Ilera - Solace Fade - Scions - Sovereign|
|The Rise of Lirin|
|- In the Morrow - The White Dragon - Faith in Blood - The Great Gates - Lord Avatar - A Red Sun - Faceless - Faction - Tempest - Rally of Crows - Rally of Eagles - Dragons and Serpents - Kings and Men - Storms of a Spirit - Princes - A Battered Land - Seas of Ichor - Arbiter - Return to a Grave - Declination - Disaffection - Epilogue|
|Myths of the Empire|
|Pacification - Assassins - Empire - Red Sun Under The Empire - White Snow - Heirs|
|The Reclamation of Arein|
|Book 1 - Chaos|
|Refugee - Rogue - Ghosts - Dark Roses - Doyen - Divulgence - The Plan - Abscond - Mists of Illusion - Madonna - Syndicate - Playing the Stakes - Purge - Brothers|
|Book 2 - War|
|Alliance - Temple - Tensions - The Fall - Hunters and Prey - Lussuria - Shades of Relevance - Broken Star - Defiler - Strikeforce - Secrets of the Lair - Eminence - Swarm - Wanderer|
|Dreams of Melasa|
|Book 1 - Servant|
| - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Book 2 - Shadow World|
|Faint but Clear - Ghost in the Steel - Kurotama - Loyalties - Servants of Shadow - Game of Fate - Shadows and Reflections - Tomb of Blood - Broken Blades - Hill of Shadow - Souls and Swords - Home|