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Arc One: Autumn
April 16, 2013
This is the sixth chapter in the Fanon
The last day we were in the city was hectic; we planned our next moved, we introduced ourselves, we packed up, and now we were ready to go. All six of us stood at the front desk. I thanked the man there for the room, handed him the needed Yuans, and we exited.
Brady stepped in front of us, and said, "I will have to leave you. I am going to stay in my hometown. It was good to meet you, and I hope that your cause will grow."
I gave a nod of thanks. I also nodded for Brady to talk to me in private. We stepped to the side, and I said, "I want you to do something for me here." He looked at me with a straight expression. "I want you to always remember us. We'll need your help one day."
He nodded sympathetically, and said, "I'll always remember you." I looked at him, and nodded him a sympathetic nod.
I turned to the others, and we all nodded to James. "Where first?" I asked.
"Well," he started, "I need to finish my training. And since I know Earth and Fire, I need to learn Air."
"So where do we go?" I asked again. "Air Temple Island is overrun with Dominators." I remembered earlier today, we got a newspaper and it had that same headline on it.
We set off for a mountain located in the southern part of the Earth Kingdom. But before we could get there, we had to pass back through Republic City. We knew what to expect, since we knew that it had been overrun by the Dominators.
But we had no idea how bad it was until we reached there. The Dominators had taken complete control. Their banners hung on every building, the police were being held in the prison, and the benders were being executed one by one. James and I both looked at it with awe and depression.
"We have to do something," James said. We walked down a back alley, to the same shop where Neville, Tal, El, and I met. I opened the door, not expecting what to be there.
Yet it was the same as the last time I had come; the shop, which looked smaller than the outside. I smirked, and walked over to the counter, where the old man looked up at me with wide eyes.
He gulped, and I knew something suspicious was going on. He said, "We're closed, come back later." But then I showed him my necklace, and he gave a sigh of relief. He gestured for us to follow him. He took a brick out of the back wall, and it shifted around.
We all came in to see if not ten or twenty boys and girls in there, not much older than I was. My mind scrambled to process all this. But finally, I gave a sigh of relief and gestured to talk with the man privately. He guided me to a corner, where no one could hear us.
"Thanks," I said, "For letting us come." He gave me a nod, and I continued, "What happened to the city?"
"The Dominators came and," he paused for a minute, "Took it with force."
My heart sank, thinking of what they did back in Ba Sing Se. But then I wondered about the Earth King who had just left before the bombing. My eyes widened in thought, and the man gave me a questioning look. "It's... It couldn't be... No..." I couldn't get it out; my mind couldn't comprehend it.
"What? It couldn't be what?" I heard James walk up beside me.
"The Earth King," I replied. I looked at him and continued, "Remember, the Earth King left just before the bombing of the Palace. Almost if..."
"...He knew," James finished. He gave me an approving nod, almost like he knew my own thoughts. Then he turned to the man, gesturing to all the boys, and plainly stated, "Explain."
The man looked up at him and said, "They came here because they had nowhere else." He glanced at me. "Like you, I presume. The Dominators have taken over all of Republic City, and now these kids have nowhere else to go. The only setback is I don't have any more room with you guys here."
I nodded to the man, and then turned to James, and he nodded back at me. "We'll get them off your hands," James said. The man gave a gracious nod, and went back into his bread shop.
I turned to James, and said, "How are we going to take care of these kids?"
He looked into my eyes, and said plain as day, "That's your problem." He turned around and went to talk to some of the other boys. James put me in a very hard place. I put my head up, and leaned against the wall.
After standing there for a minute, I heard Nina come up. I turned my head to see her just as she said, "Don't you think James is a little suspicious?"
"Well hello to you too," I said sarcastically.
She looked at me with half mean, half smiling eyes. "Be serious," she said. "Don't you?"
"Kind of," I replied. "He is very suspicious. Don't know much about him, that's it."
The next day we planned to set off, but that was easier said than done. We were all ready, and the man was about to turn the wall open when a kid from the crowd said he had to go to the bathroom. I heard a simultaneous groan.
Finally, we were off, and we were getting good ground. We set off for the southern tip of the Earth Kingdom. We weren't stealthy; we split up in groups, and we would meet at various points. Nina, Tal, El, and I were one group. I could see Tal looking over his shoulder every few minutes, and when I looked into his eyes, I could see a hint of anxiousness.
We stopped at a café that sat just beside the first rendezvous point. We sat down at two separate tables. Nina and I talked while Tal and El sat at the table beside us, El talking Tal's ear off, while Tal just sat and watched the rendezvous point.
"He's just worrying about Neville," I heard Nina say. I turned to her. "He's concerned about his brother."
"Yeah," I said, turning my head to the rendezvous point. James and his group were supposed to appear first. James would stand there, and then I would join him, then Neville, and finally the leader of the final group. Those would be our positions, as leaders of tiny battalions.
"Hello?" Nina asked, snapping me out of my trance.
"What?" I said, turning to her.
"Are you there?" she asked sarcastically.
"Yeah," I said. "I'm just thinking..." My voice trailed off as I was pulled back into thought again.
"About James?" Nina asked.
"Yes," I said plainly. "He seems..."
"...Different," she finished. "I know." She turned to where James had finally appeared. He was standing on a brick-laid path, just outside a huge auditorium. He looked around with big, unblinking, straight eyes. I glared at him for a moment before getting up to join him.
Neville walked up just as I reached James, and the final leader – Janelle was her name – walked up just as Neville reached the two of us. "Alright," I said. "Let's meet up..."
James cut me off before I could continue, saying, "How about mid-town park? Nobody would suspect us there. Plenty of people come there in big groups."
I nodded to James, who didn't nod back, but just looked straight at me. Janelle looked at me, and I glanced back at her. She spoke up, in a nasally way – since she was deaf. "You're right, James," she said. She could read lips, so she could understand him very well.
Neville spoke up, "But if we're travelling south, we should meet down there. The Mid-Town Park is to the west."
"You've got a good point," I said. "I know somewhere close to the edge of town. It's a tiny square, my friends and I use to meet up there sometimes." James, Neville, and Janelle all nodded to me in approval, and I gave them the exact location.
Nina waited at our table until I was done, and when I came back, she greeted me with bright eyes and a large smile. I replied to her with the same, and sat down beside her.
"So?" Nina said.
"We're meeting at Runover Square," I said. She knew where it was, since that is where we saw the last of Republic City together before she fled.
Nina glared at me with huge, wondering eyes. "Why there?" she asked. "That's a perfect place for..." Her eyes widened even farther, and she gasped as she continued, "...an ambush." She looked into my eyes, prying the thoughts out of my own brain. "Why?"
As we strolled past a newspaper stand, Tal picked up a paper, flung a Yuan to the man who was running the cart, and he and El sat down on a bench together. As he read the newspaper, I read the headline on the other side: "Dominators now take control of Earth Kingdom".
Nina, who was standing beside me, gasped. I said to Tal, "It's started." He lowered the newspaper, and glared at me.
"What's started?" he asked. I flipped the paper over and his eyes widened. El looked at the paper too, and gasped when she saw the headline.
"The group of terrorists named the Dominators," Tal read aloud, "Have taken full control of Ba Sing Se, taken the Earth King captive, and made their headquarters..." He paused for a moment before continuing, "...Republic City." Nina gasped again. I turned to her, and put her head on my shoulder.
We were sitting at a picnic table now, and Nina and I faced Tal and El. Tal continued reading, "It's been reported that their main goal is to kill all benders and even track the Avatar down to kill him. The Dominators started as a group of non-benders, located in an Airship thousands of feet above ground. They expanded to have submarines in the water, and closed in on Republic City as their first target. They captured the city, imprisoning the politicians and policemen.
"The Earth King is being held in the captured city of Ba Sing Se, a prisoner to the unknown leader of this splinter group. Our only hope is the Avatar. Oh, where are you Avatar?" Tal finished and laid the paper on the table.
Tal looked at us with an expression of awe, the first time I'd seen anything but straightness on his face. "We have to go," he said. "We have to get ambushed. We have to find information on them."
"But we'll get killed," El said. "They won't go down without a fight. You should know that."
I sighed, and spoke up, saying, "The only thing to do now is go." I saw nods of agreement, and we set off.
We walked in silence, not even Nina speaking up. Our hearts were full of grief, and we were all lost in thought. We passed stands with newspapers, food, everything. But we just ignored them, and continued our trudge to doom.
Finally we got there, and when we turned the corner to the square, we saw James and Neville already there, fighting off Dominators. Janelle was hiding behind a wall, watching on. She sent out blasts of Fire every now and again, but she was too scared to fight.
We came out into the fray in a fury of Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. James was knocked on the ground, and he glanced at me with large, helpless eyes. He quickly got back up and continued fighting. We rushed in, El taking on protecting the bystanders and the other groups from the attack, Tal fighting alongside his brother, Nina rushing over to help Janelle, and James and I right in the middle, fighting off the main forces.
But suddenly the attack stopped. I heard a voice, but I couldn't understand what it was saying. Suddenly, the Dominator soldiers parted into two lines, at attention, and a large Fire Nation man walked up. He had short-cut black hair and large red eyes; he was tall, strong built, with broad shoulders, and was very lean. He wore Fire Sage armor, without the helmet and gloves.
The man walked up to me and James with his hands behind his back and a tranquil look on his face. And then I recognized him as the Fire Lord of the Fire Nation. James got out of his ready pose and straightened up.
"Excuse this attack," the Fire Lord said, speaking in a low, powerful voice. "This was completely uncalled for." He turned to a soldier that looked different from the others – probably a commander – and said, "Why was this attack started?"
The commander looked the Fire Lord straight in the eyes, and said, "These are benders sir, our mission was to eliminate them."
A large frown formed on the Fire Lord's face, and he scolded, "Don't you know this is the Avatar?"
"Yes sir, but..."
"No buts," the Fire Lord said, cutting the Commander off. "There was no need for this attack. Now leave me at once." The commander nodded, and he turned away, the soldiers following him.
My mind was rattled at this point, trying to comprehend all this information. But at least we had some more information. The Fire Lord turned to James and me. He nodded, and we nodded back. He turned to leave, and after he passed the corner, I turned to check on everyone. They were all in shock, like I was.
Then a scream came from Janelle, and I rushed over. I ran behind the wall that she and Nina were crouching behind. My heart dropped into my stomach, and I nearly turned to tears. An arrow had been shot into Nina's chest, directly at her heart. I looked up, to see if I could find the person who shot it, but it was a lost hope.
I turned to Nina, and she slowly turned her head to me. I ripped the arrow out of her chest. Her face turned pale, and I picked her up. I put her head next to my chest, next to my heart. She smiled, and whispered, "It's alright. I'll see you again." And then she took her last breath.
I leaned in and kissed the top of her head, murmuring, "Thank you." A single tear dripped down my face, and it dropped onto the top of her lifeless head. I heard thunder rolling overhead, and the rain starting pouring, washing my tears down onto the ground.
Tal and El watched on in horror, Neville had come and knelt beside me, and Janelle was kneeling beside Nina's body. It turned out they had become very good friends.
Then Janelle started crying, and saying, "It's all my fault. I could have stopped it."
I lifted my head, wiped my tears away, and lifted Janelle head so she could read my lips. I said, "It wasn't your fault. It could have happened to any of us." I bent my head and kissed Nina's head for the final time, and lifted her lifeless body up.
Tal walked over to me, with still a straight expression on his face. But yet he picked Nina's body from my arms, and when I looked into his eyes, I saw sorrow, more sorrow than he can bear.
I stared at him with grateful eyes, and turned away to talk to Janelle. I walked over to where she was still kneeling, and I gave her a hand, which she looked up and saw, and accepted. I hugged her when she first got up, then I looked her in the face and said, "It wasn't your fault. It was an accident. For all we know, it could have been her destiny. Okay?"
She nodded, wiping the tears from her eye, and I hugged her again. I walked with her, my arm around her shoulder, embracing her, until we reached James. Janelle let go of me and rushed to hug James. James and Janelle hugged for what seemed like forever.
"Why wasn't it me?" Janelle said.
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