Chapter 5: Invasion
Chapter information

The Journey of Tala




Sand and Steel



Written by

The Snowbold



Release date

September 18, 2012

Last chapter

Chapter 4: The Blockade

Next chapter

Chapter 6: Holdouts

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 5: Invasion

Silence spread. The city was quiet with fear as the supposed army saving Omashu surrounded it and turned its weapons on the city. The troops of Ba Sing Se were numerous, perhaps outnumbering the men of the city by almost twice.

But the silence was spreading across the world. The blackouts were spreading across the world, but even then; word of the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation working together was reaching every corner.

How did it come to this? How could no one foresee that the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom would join an alliance? The Northern Fortress, formerly the Northern Air Temple, had likewise disobeyed the Earth King's order. They were sieged, as was the Western Air Temple, Republic City and the main headquarters of the United Forces. Also, the Water Tribes were blockaded at the seas.

So it has now become a world war between the largest powers and the most diverse. The Earth Kingdom, even with the losses of the United Republic, was the largest nation. The Fire Nation was third largest and nearly most advanced just behind Republic City. But both nations were much more military oriented than the cultural mixed dream of peace that was Republic City. This made them prepared for war.

But how did it benefit the two nations to work together. The strategic advantage such as those of numbers and technology was obvious, but politically? The Fire Nation's dispute is with the violation of their borders by Republic City were recent and at best temporary.

The Earth Kingdom's complaints, if any, are much older, going back to the Fire Nation Colonies. Due to the mix of culture in the colonies, giving them back to the Earth Kingdom was not as smooth as thought at the conclusion of the Hundred Year War. The mixed population may have lived in the Earth Kingdom, but they were loyal to the Fire Nation and prosperous.

The smart decision would have been to let the Fire Nation keep the oldest, like Yu Dao, while the newer and less loyal were returned to the Earth Kingdom. Instead, Firelord Zuko, Earth King Kuei, and Avatar Aang botched the entire issue and rather than compromise the right way, they created the United Republic of Nations. Carving at least a third of the Earth Kingdom's former size for a new nation.

Given the prosperity of Republic City, it would stand to reason that Earth King Iruei wanted to claim that prosperity as rightfully the Earth Kingdom's. But why ally with the Fire Nation? The Fire Nation must get something out of it, and what? If land, then what land? All the islands, the coast? The Fire Nation has dreamed of controlling the coast again to shore up their command of the seas. Or was it control of the skies, as they had briefly at the end of the War.

Hava found it hard to believe that anyone could manipulate both the Firelord and the Earth King into this, even this mysterious Black Dragon. Tala expressed that she believed he was Grand Marshal Rishu. While he fit the bill, Rishu seemed too ambitious and impatient. He rushed from one position of power to another. Regent of the Fire Nation to Grand Marshal of the Air Force, to Councillor of Republic City. Why would he manipulate others, when he took away his own power, with Republic City falling, his position on the Council was gone. Who could benefit from a change in the status quo?

Barren Paradise

The Southlands were a rough and barren place. To the untrained eye, there was nothing of value and nowhere to hide from the beating sun. But Prince Kuir knew better. Unlike his ancestors, he spent his entire life beyond the walls of Ba Sing Se. Iruei despised the weakness of the line of Earth Kings and sought to replace it with a line of great warriors who led from the front. This meant that Kuir spent more time in his life training than enjoying the luxury of the palace grounds.

When Iruei decided it was time for Kuir to truly learn strategy, he sent him to the Fire Nation to learn under Grand Marshal Rishu of the Air Force. At first Kuir was insulted. Rishu was two years his junior, what could he teach him? He then realized that while Rishu was Grand Marshal, he was first Regent of the Fire Nation and the true ruler. Rishu corrected many of the errors he had about the world, even what he should expect of his own people and the others.

Rishu's mentorship also humbled him. Kuir was a better earthbender than all those around him, and having never faced his father in battle, assumed he was the best bender in the world. But Rishu, known also as The Apex of Fire gave him another pause.

Rishu was a Prodigy of Prodigies. The most powerful firebender seen in ten generations, before the Hundred Year War. When Kuir first came to the Fire Nation, he assumed that he was dominant; until Rishu taught him a lesson, he still bore the scar on his back for insulting the man. It taught him not to underestimate anyone.

Now he was in a wasteland chasing a pack of warriors. Not just any warriors, but the Southern Water Tribe; both Wolf-Warriors and waterbenders. Almost a hundred if the intelligence was correct. Grand Marshal Alov's naval forces had been tracking them but lost them in the Southlands. Had the Dust Dragons been here, they would already be dead or captured. So Kuir was sent in to find and capture them.

It was vital that he prevent their knowledge from reaching any of the sites of resistance, or the war could turn around from the events of one day. It was time to hunt.

Desires of a Master

Kulek looked at the shambled entrance to the stables. Both the nomad and the bison that caused this were still on the threshold over a week later. They were severely burned all across their left sides. It was ingenious action that saved them. When they caught on fire, the nomad used a gust of wind to kill the flame. He then used his airbending to further reduce the air's resistance for the bison's flight. Combined with the adrenaline of the animal to escape pain, they were able to outfly powerful ships, an amazing feat.

But they escaped at a terrible and possibly fatal price. The skin had literally melted off and was replaced with a hard coal-like surface. If they survived, they would never be the same again. That the Fire Nation would go to such lengths was itself shocking.

After the Hundred Year War, relations between the Fire Nation and the Air Nomads became better, mainly because it was only Avatar Aang, but in time the Clans were friendly and free to explore the Fire Nation as they pleased. There was even an invitation for an Air Temple to be built in the Whispering Canyon for any Clan who wanted to live there.

To break this policy and try to kill an airbender for any reason must have been a severe one. Obviously, the Fire Nation didn't want Omashu to know that Republic City was going to be attacked in full.

Kulek didn't care to think about these things. As the 'wild child' of Clan Rohan; he was easy-going and happy to enjoy life and its experiences. He had a great relationship with Avatar Tala, who lacked his vigor for things beyond duty. He was a master Airbender, how could he complain. But his clan wanted him to be serious and proper. Rohan was the smallest Clan and under a hundred members in all; Jinorra, the oldest, was nearly five hundred. They could scarcely have the wanderers like Ikki and Meelo and still remain a community.

The life he wished of was interrupted from a massive shaking in the ground and the sounds of explosions. He rushed to the large villa, the essential viewing point of the Palace over a large portion of the city. Other commanders and nobles had also come to watch in horror as the city was rocked by explosions.

King Urri watched in anger as the Fire Nation Airships bombarded the outer city of New Omashu. Worse, the ships of Omashu went to strike back. Fourteen airships against the ten elite warships of the Fire Nation, an absolute slaughter and a trap to snare the city. And worse, it was working.

The Fire Nation Airships split up into pairs to cover each other but separate the city defenses. The defenders attacked as fast as they could with whatever projectile weapons they had. The damage was menial at best. But the counterstrike was much worse. Sparks and a change in the sky shrouded each ship as a bolt of lightning emerged and fired at its target dead on.

The lightning did more than conduct electricity onto the target, it sheared through the metal and sparked explosively. The sickening crunch of metal could be heard all the way from the Palace.

Police airship shot down

Rain of steel.

The ships that were hit fluttered but persisted, the damage was severe but not immediate. The next wave of lightning strikes were a different story. The hulls of five ships shattered and burst open, two of them burst to flames. The ships lost their elevation as the two on fire crashed while the others were able to control their inevitable descent.

That left nine defending ships spread out against ten attackers. The nine were now in retreat, fleeing the assault they had foolishly tried to respond to. If they may have made it back to the safety of Old Omashu, they would have been fine, but the ships were now being pelted by Anti-air emplacements from the sieging Earth Kingdom army. Another two ships were damaged severely forcing them to descend into New Omashu, and another was destroyed as several bolts of lightning tore the hull apart and vaporized the engines in the back.

Fourteen ships left and now six were returning, ready to fight once repaired. Five were severely damaged and would need to be recovered before repairs were done; and three were completely lost. A simple ruse cut down any air superiority Omashu thought it had.

Tala arrived last, where she was, Kulek had no idea but didn't have the time to ask. Soon, all the leaders were present to watch as the war for Omashu began.

King Urri finally spoke, "If they want war, then they'll get war..."

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