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Sand and Steel
Sept. 20, 2012
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 6: HoldoutsEdit
War had broken out in full. Omashu was not only sieged but bombarded by airships. Republic City has been invaded. The Northern Fortress was under attack, the Water Tribes are blockaded and the Western Air Temple is surrounded. Communications between those against the Fire Nation-Earth Kingdom Alliance have been blacked out. The world was at war again.
The man zipped up his uniform and placed on his helmet. He sprinted to his station as his gun-mate joined him. There were only a handful of them from each ship, but with how quick they would strike, there would be no time to respond.
His partner looked at him, “Relax, Buster. I’ll burn down anything that’s a problem.”
“And if it gets behind us?”
“Then that’s your problem.” He laughed as the commander confirmed their targets again and sent them off.
“Sir? Where will we land? Its a bit hard to land on these.” He motioned to the airship they were on.
“You’re landing at Fort Iroh Airfield.”
“That place was burned to the ground.”
“Follow orders, lieutenant. Go.”
He continued on to his duty and jumped aboard the war plane. He got in the rear seat, the pilot’s seat while his gun-mate sat in the front. He was slightly elevated from him so was able to see over him. He looked over the side and saw the open sky below.
He started his engines as his partner prepared the quick-release. The Engine finally rolled and roared to life, his gun-mate hit the release and the plane nose-dived for a moment until the engine finally took control.
Like the other five planes from the airship, they banked left as the city lay below them. The headset built into his helmet relayed the radio commands. “Outer side, sector Tiger”
He dove for his target, the gorge was wide and deep. Despite its great with for an essential moat, it was still narrow for war planes. Any mistake here was fatal. He made a hard turn left and followed the curve of the mountain. He could feel the vibrations as the engine followed his will. His gun-mate leaned forward now and breathed, drew his hand back, and thrust forward. A large condensed flame burst forward. Because of the speed of the plane, they had passed before the blast hit its target, but he heard the explosion as a fuel tank ignited.
He flipped a switch to his left, opening his bomb bay. He pulled a lever, releasing one of his armament. A rocket propelled its way to an opening in the gorge, where at least one enemy war plane was housed. Flames and smoke were now all that came out of the work bay.
The planes were incredibly successful, taking out their targets until Buster had only one bomb left for an airship. Despite their success, a few warplanes from the defenders now came to respond.
“Spark, we got bogies incoming!” His gun-mate got ready as opponents came to challenge them. Spark set a circular motion in his arms, separating the energy around him. The clash created a bolt of power in front of the plane so powerful it nearly stopped the engine in its tracks. The bolt splayed into several forks, engulfing and shearing the incoming planes.
Falling debris was all that was left, and some pilots in parachutes, the smart ones anyway. Fireblasts were returned, no doubt from the White Lotus, but they lacked the longevity to last. They died out too soon and were hollow flames. A squadron from another ship dove on them.
“Buster, the ship, we need to hit it now!”
The target was now on the other side of the gorge. Incomplete, surveillance said that while it was a big and slow airship, that they had never seen a design like this before. Orders were to destroy it before it became a problem.
Buster banked around as close to the wall of the gorge as he could. He then saw it for himself, the ship was as large as any he’d seen and had four large ‘boxes’ built into the sides.
He loosed the last bomb and made a sharp turn. The curve gave the bomb the ability turn into the bottom ‘box’. The explosion was muffled but present, though it seemed this ‘box’ was empty or hollow.
“Last bomb!” Spark confirmed. The plane rose up along with the rest of the squadron. One was missing. Spark walloped as they left the city behind and made for Fort Iroh.
Buster comm’ed command, “All targets hit, weapons depleted, heading to LZ.”
“Affirmative, squadron Fang, weapons depleted and heading to LZ.”
The ship cut through the water like it was butter, letting nothing slow its pace. An airship neared as the ship neared the docks. A cable descended with a foot disc on it. Two men were on the foot disc and another cable followed soon after. The four landed on deck as the doors to below opened. The four bowed low in respect and salute.
She left the underways and came upon deck with five Imperial Firebenders at each side. “Rise, Grand Marshal.”
He sat up, “Welcome to Republic City, Firelord Ma-Tin.”
Tala ran to General Suun, her Earthbending master. He was running the same direction as Tala. “What got hit?”
“The Gorge, most of our fighters are gone, they bombed the bays, and they hit the Re-fielder.”
The Re-fielder was a unique creation from the engineers of Omashu. The city has nowhere to conventionally land their planes. So they decided to build a bigger airship with bays for landing planes where they can refuel and re-arm. The ship was the only of its kind and would give Omashu an edge in resupplying warplanes; and now it had been hit.
Suun ran to the engineer, he was covered in soot. Suun inquired, “How bad is the damage?”
“Not too bad, bay 3 was destroyed by a bomb but otherwise the damage is superficial.”
“How many men did we lose?”
“The pilots got hit the hardest, only a few support were lost.”
“So, we’ll still be on schedule?”
“Maybe, we’ll be behind by a week at least.”
“Lets get the men we’ve lost and repair.”
The engineer nodded and went back to his work. Suun and Tala saw Hava guiding Urri on a bison. Tala couldn’t help but compare the brothers. Urri was older than Suun by almost ten years, no doubt to inheriting the throne, should he prove himself. Urri was raised to be as Bumi called it, “a mad genius”; while Suun was raised to be a warrior.
Tala hasn’t seen Urri earthbend in a long time, but had no doubt of his skills. Suun taught her everything he knew, but even he admitted she should learn more in Ba Sing Se. Urri refused this. Suun was calculating where Urri was quick to act.
Tala thought that Suun would have made a better leader than Urri any day. But he would never take the seat from his brother. He was a soldier, he followed.
Kuel was already waiting for everyone when Tala arrived. “Well, if they are going to hit the Gorge, we’re gonna need some new defenses.”
The two great leaders in the Fire Nation sat down drinking tea watching as the Royal Cruiser made for the dock. “Tell me, Rishu, what is the situation with the Air Nomads?”
“We haven’t touched the island, and so far as I know, none have been harmed. The island is their haven.”
“He has arrived by way of Taku. He will be here tonight. We shall have a proper war council then.”
“And the Avatar?”
“In Omashu, which has rebelled and defied the orders of the Earth King. The Ba Sing Se Regulars have been sent to retake it, while a cadre of our airships hold the skies. The Avatar won’t abandon the city to invasion.”
“Any other resistance?”
“The Northern Water Tribe and the Northern Fortress have been blocked off any way south but they are still a front of their own. The Foggy Swamp is being taken care of by the Sea-Wolf. The Southern Water Tribe and the Order of the White Lotus have marshaled. Most are still stuck in the South Pole, but a good number made it through and are likely on their way to Omashu. They indicated they have important intelligence to give them a counterstrike. I fear that I know what it is already.”
Ma-Tin drank more tea, “If we are to win this war, then you must complete your mission. I know that no one else in the world could do it, but it is still incredibly risky. You must make an opening that she will never suspect or turn away from.”
“I believe I already have an opening. Its just a matter of timing.”
“Hmmm. Just be careful, cousin. As Firelord, I have learned that nothing is as it seems.”
“If I recall, I taught you that lesson.”
Ma-Tin giggled as if a little girl, “Yes you did. You know, I never understood why you refused. The entire nation, including me supported it. But you didn’t take what was in reach, why?”
Rishu looked down at his tea, “Nothing is as it seems, little ‘Tin. My goals are less and more than our nation. And while I could be the Firelord, I need to follow, not to lead.”
“Follow who? Its not me. Oh, come on. You’re like my brother, surely you can tell me.”
“All will come to light.”
Suun looked up into the night sky. It was clear, but summer was ending sooner than usual, a long winter was coming to those who understood. Suun had spent some hours looking for Tala in the palace to no avail. He gave up while in the solar. He didn’t know where she was, she just disappeared. But he shouldn’t be surprised, she did this, even while learning earthbending from him. No one knew where she went at odd hours of the day or night, but she returned, happier.
Suun would look for her later, he decided that he needed to speak to Hava about the next turn of battles. Hava was in his office reading. “Suun, come in. What can I do for you?”
“I need to speak with you about what is likely future battles.”
“Ah.” He stood up, “And what do you have in mind?”
“I need the airbenders to fight, especially in the sky to make up for our lack of airpower.”
“You know that we are not a fighting people.”
“If I wait for you to defend yourselves, the city will be overrun, and you will be doomed. Frankly, I don’t trust the decision-making of Air Nomads when it comes to combat; after all, your people were wiped out before.”
“Point taken,” Suun referred to the Air Nomad Genocide. The monks waited in their temples as Sozin came and used the comet to wipe out the Air Nomads. The pacifistic nature of the nomads led directly to their downfall. “But we still believe in non-violence when possible.”
“How many will die while you take the moral high ground and decide to be non-violent against an army of violent men.”
Hava thought on this, “What do you have in mind?”
“Fighting on the airships, but I also am thinking about sabotage and foraging.”
“We’re surrounded. The only way we’ll keep up the food supplies is by scavenging beyond our walls.”
“How do you plan on that? Walking out the main gate? We’re blockaded.”
“Omashu has ways in and out of the city.”
“So instead of a bloody siege, you want to fight a guerrilla war.”
“Sometimes, successful resistance comes in other forms.”
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