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Scorched forest overview
Natural Selection
Chapter information
Series

Avatar: Neo Revolution

Book

Book One: Water

Chapter

7

Written by

Jtwin1

Editor(s)

Perplexed Panda

Release date

October 8, 2013

Chronology
Last chapter

Chapter 6: Mother Nature

Next chapter

Chapter 8: The Weeds of Wealth

Previously

After the kids escaped the clutches of the Bloody Knuckles in Chan Dai, the gang's leader Alphonse lead the Clandestine general, Miss Zaida, on the chase for the Avatar.

After arriving in Maderia, Dover and Sedgley were trained in plantbending by the city's chief, Aran. However, when they experienced difficulties, he sent them into the forest to connect with nature.

~  Chapter Seven: Natural Selection  ~

~  Chapter Seven: Natural Selection  ~

The leaf of a plant unfurled as the early afternoon Sun beat down on it. It wasn't often the sapling was blessed with sunlight; the canopy blocked so much of the passing light with its thirsty leaves. Still, the few moments the little plant had with the Sun were glorious, like two lovers reuniting after years of painfully being apart.

Its veins swelled with nourishment and the organism pulsed with life, the green of its pigments shimmering behind its waxy surface.

"Be the leaf," Dover reminded himself, sitting firmly atop a large root and meditating.

It had been a week now, perhaps more, since they left Maderia to connect with Mother Nature in the heart of the forest. A full day's trek into the green abyss had led them to where they wanted to be; surrounded entirely by plants. Chief Aran had urged them to do this, in hope of them ever being able to plantbend.

For days the two had been observing, touching, moving, and living with plants of all forms; Sedgley even had the idea to lay still for a whole day and see what plants grew over them. However, when fire ants and other critters stumbled across them, they decided the plan had its flaws. They practiced all the exercises that Aran had taught them with excruciating focus – and at different points in time Dover and Sedgley both felt they were close to achieving something – yet they were never able to plantbend.

Sedgley burst loudly from some bushes, waking Dover from his trance. Dover looked up at him, determination written all over his grubby face, and got up.

Over the days they had noticed an increasing tension between them; an air of competition that thickened with each unsuccessful attempt to plantbend. As Dover meditated, Sedgley would think his friend was about to find a sudden surge of inspiration, and as Sedgley practiced his forms, Dover would fear he was on the verge of a breakthrough too. Whenever they did their exercises – or even brushed against a plant – they would try with all their might to thwart the other, and be the first to achieve plantbending.

"Can we not do this today?" Dover asked, picking up his pack and slinging it over a shoulder as Sedgley had done.

"Do what?" Sedgley asked defensively, looking over his shoulder to where he had come from.

"You know, all this competition stuff with plantbending. Can we just stop competing for one day?"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Sedgley said quickly, shushing Dover with his hand, "You've got to follow me. I think something terrible has happened."

He ran back through the bushes he came through, leading Dover towards Maderia. Sticks and leaves scratched their faces as they tore through the forest. The competition had been dropped as Dover wanted, but he sensed something dire was at stake as they clambered up a tree.

Forest

Something is wrong in Maderia.

Maderia was well protected from view most of the time; the sprawling canopy blocked everything from above, while no one would think to look above them to find the city. From up in this particular tree though, they could just see under the canopy of the Mother Tree and, although they couldn't distinguish between house and branch during the day, they would usually come here at night to see the city lights and remind themselves they weren't alone out in the woods. However right now all they could see was smoke.

A great, grey plume of smoke rose from where Maderia was, and coiled like a python suffocating its prey into the sky.

"You think it could be a bonfire?" Dover asked, eyes fixated on the ominous smoke cloud, "You know, like a festival or something?"

"That's what I thought," Sedgley replied gravely, "But something doesn't feel right. You've got to feel it too, Dover."

Sure enough Dover did sense that something was off. The trees swayed weirdly, their leaves up in arms like frantic victims, and the whole ground below them pulsated minutely, as if whispering a distress call from afar.

"I feel it too," Dover responded, looking over at his friend, "We need to go save Maderia."

~

~ Earlier that day ~

"You sunk my battleship," Erik muttered.

Anurna smiled. This was the sixth time this week they had played Battleship: the Royal Fire Nation Navy Edition, but it didn't really matter. She liked spending time with Erik, and she didn't really have anyone else to spend her time with – besides Miko – so his company was always a treat. She had succumbed to boredom a few days ago; accepted the fact that nothing interesting was going to happen until the boys returned, at least not in the shabby outskirts of the city where she was kept.

Oh well, she thought.

Erik was starting to visit her more often, he too was running out of new things to do, and it was beginning to feel like she had formed somewhat of a normal life again. Anurna wondered what her father would think if she settled down in Maderia with a boy not too unlike Erik. He probably wouldn't be too happy, for more reasons than one. And what would her mother think? Hell, Anurna had no idea...

"Hey!" Erik shouted, waving his hand in front of her face, Miko chattering as well to wake her up, "Did I get you?"

"What?" she was too lost in her thoughts.

"G-17. Did I get anything?"

"Um... No. Miss."

"Just my luck..." Erik mumbled under his breath before straightening his back, "Hey, you know what? There's a festival on tonight, Yuka told me. A great big bonfire to celebrate the Mother Tree's wisdom. I don't know what it's all about really, but do you want to come?"

"I thought firebenders weren't allowed into the city," Anurna crossed her arms, still ticked off by that rule.

"True, they aren't," Erik's eyes glistened with the next sentence, "But what if we sneaked you in? They're lighting a giant fire anyway, what's one firebender going to do?"

"I like your attitude!" Anurna remarked, scratching Miko behind the ear as a plan was formulated between them.

The little squirrel-glider purred in contentment with the tickle, his minute ears relaxed with doziness. Then, in response to some distant noise, they pricked up. He bared his teeth and growled into the distance.

"What is it buddy?" Anurna asked, noticing the animal's frustration and looking in the same direction.

Suddenly a line of smoke tore past them. The projectiles they bore hit the walls and beams of various buildings and exploded in an eruption of debris and soot.

"What the!" Erik yelled as he ducked for cover.

Coming towards them, he could hear marching footsteps, traipsing across the forest floor, crushing the seedlings below them. More missiles were shot from the unseen depths of the forest, up and into the city. The canisters blew thick smoke into the air, blocking their vision.

"Stay close, Erik," Anurna growled, something like worry in her voice, "Things are about to get ugly."

She shot a spinning kick of flames into the tree line but the attack was easily blocked, and the fire was disintegrated like measly dust.

"Fire!" a man's voice commanded.

From behind them Yuka and his men had come to the aid of the city. They all had lunged one leg out in front of themselves and discharged acorns like they were bullets with an outburst of their fists. Screams of pain were heard from below, as the attackers were hit with the nuts.

"Did you do this, firebender? Are they here because of you?" Yuka snarled, his face contorted in hatred.

"Get off your high horse, buddy," she responded, dodging another metal projectile before firing another plume of heat and lighting the trees on fire, "I didn't do anything! But I might have an idea who these people are."

"The Bloody Knuckles?" Erik looked up at her, his beady eyes quivering behind his spectacles.

"I think so."

A plantbender was shot down by a chunk of earth, the wind knocked out of him in a gruff yelp.

"Whatever! I didn't ask for your life story. Just help us out, will you?"

Extinguishing fire

The city is under attack.

Yuka ran over to his injured ally and helped him up before raising a wall of wood from the platform's floor to protect them from a barrage of gunfire.

"Erik, go find the chief. Warn him." Anurna commanded, eyes open wide and scanning the area below for the enemies.

"But –"

"– Go! Take Miko and hurry!"

The frightened creature landed on his shoulder, puffing. He had been flying around the treetops. Searching. He couldn't grasp why, but he knew that the pesky bat he had run in with before was somehow behind this crisis. Nevertheless, Anurna had called his name so he had to give up looking.

Erik touched Miko's little foot and ran off. Sprinting through the city streets, past worried mothers and frightened children, he looked down, focused on his feet and urged them to not stop. He could see through the cracks in the corrugated iron that more enemies were below Maderia, approaching the Mother Tree. He had to hurry.

He arrived at the tree raft. It was still hooked up with vines but there was no one about to plantbend him across. He walked into the middle of it, looking around hastily for some sort of solution. The gap wasn't that far, he noticed.

Erik pulled out his gun and aimed at the vines behind him, hoping that when he would shoot them the raft would swing towards the other side. He perfected his aim, but did not shoot. Could not shoot.

He was stuck again. His finger tapped at the trigger. He knew he had to do this.

"Come on...!" he said through gritted teeth.

Miko, catching on, flew up to vines and started gnawing. Erik's arms flopped to his side in disappointment. He was a failure. How could he ever better himself if every time he tried to use the gun he could only think of his mother? The answer was simple; he couldn't.

There wasn't much he could do, he thought to himself.

"Need a rope?" a raspy voice called.

He turned around and there was Livia standing before him, her hand on her hip as usual.

"Please," he replied, out of breath for some reason.

"Going to the chief too, huh? Come on, let's go."

She made cyclical motions with her arms, pulling them down, twisting them, and the tree raft tore through the canopy like a rocket. It bumped dangerously against other branches before derailing off its course and sliding across the roof of a house. She tried to lift the thing up with more vines but her skinny arms wouldn't let her; she was already doing a good job of pulling them along, which usually took three or four plantbenders. They slid across the tops of more buildings, Erik's knees bent trying not to fall off. Suddenly they ran into a gutter and were flung over the edge of the city.

The raft was ripped to shreds and they fell through the air. Erik could see the ground below him coming closer and closer, and screamed with fear, for there was nothing else he could do. Livia, on the other hand, cheered in delight.

"Yeah!" she laughed, fist-pumping the air before swallowing them up in a tangle of vines from above and pulling them to safety, "That was rad!"

As they were towed into the Mother Tree's canopy, they could see the full extent of the enemy's power, and the excitement of the berserk tree raft ride was replaced with dread. The enemies had surrounded the city, the outskirts were smouldering like the corners of a sheet of paper lit on fire.

"Oh no..." Erik muttered, his thoughts flashing to Anurna, and even Yuka, and then to Dover and Sedgley. Where were they?

"Who could this be?" Livia asked herself.

Maderia was a stronghold. No group of Wasteland barbarians could do such damage, and they had no other real threats.

"I don't know," Erik whispered again, knowing too well that the Bloody Knuckles could never, in a million years, fund this attack.

He had an idea of who else it might be, but that thought was deeply disturbing. It was far too early in their journey for them to be here already. Livia had finally finished pulling them up to the treetops, and he could dwell on it no further. He had to find the chief. The vines fell limp and spat them outside of Aran's quarters, Livia rubbing her arms from the strenuous bending as they entered through the archway.

"Dover? Sedgley?" Aran called as he turned from the window, his face grim.

"Nup," Livia wiped her nose, "Just Livia and the scrawny one... Erik."

Aran nodded to them.

"We take it you've seen the damage, sir," Livia addressed him militarily, "We came to tell you ourselves but it seems that won't be necessary."

He nodded again.

The fact he didn't say anything was unsettling. He always had something to say; some prophetic words of wisdom to dispatch on his subjects. But right now he had nothing.

He looked up at them, "Yuka's protecting the West, Ishio and Hun are on the East, Nate has the North and Mina is at the South. Our talented generals are withholding all entrances. I have faith in our Mother, and the power she puts into all of us."

He sighed, returning to the window with his face furrowed in thought.

"It didn't look too good out at the West, sir," Livia said, unsure if she had taken the right step.

"I believe it should be enough to hold them off," he grumbled, like the creak of an ancient tree trunk.

"Hold them off until what?" Erik asked.

"Until the Avatar returns," Aran looked at them worriedly. He had never faced anything like this before. He had no idea how to fight back, except to trust the great Mother.

Erik just stared at him.

Were they really to wait until Dover and Sedgley returned? They might not even know Maderia was under attack.

"We can't wait for them," Erik responded strongly, "The attackers are making their way under the city. I think they're headed for the Mother T–"

Instantly, the floor underneath them collapsed. They were sent flying in a hurricane of wood and metal. Aran, pencil-rolling in mid air, wrapped himself in some vines, extending some in all directions like a spider web, and stabilized himself. He stretched some vines, grabbed Erik and Livia and placed them gently on a sturdy surface – planks of wood jutting out from the Mother Tree. The rest of Maderia's castle was shattered, and fell in tatters to the forest floor like the leaves of autumn. Only the unrelenting winter was in store for the great city.

"Look, down there!" Erik pointed.

People had started climbing up the trunk of the central tree, stabbing hooks into her side and letting the amber blood ooze out. Ash flowed through the air like demonic butterflies and great rumbles of violent earthbending filled their ears.

"This ain't good, sir..." Livia muttered.

"Fight back!" the Maderian chief bellowed, his chest heaving in rage, fuelled by the destruction of his beloved city, "Citizens of Maderia, I call on you; defend the Mother Tree!"

Curling his hands outwards, the sap spilling from the trunk below enveloped the attackers and hardened quickly, immobilising them. Wooden branches jutted from the sides of the tree as Livia punched out her fists, knocking some more intruders to the forest floor.

"Erik," Aran growled direly, "find the boys. Get them and leave."

"But what about the cit–"

"– Now!" he interrupted, shielding himself from gunfire with a sheet of bark, "We'll be fine. It's the Avatar these people are after. Find the boys and leave. It's what's best, for the world." He added.

Erik gulped. He had never done so much running in one day in his life. Miko perched anxiously on his shoulder, awaiting the next move. Erik pondered what would his mother want him to do before nodding briskly, grabbing a vine, wrapping it around his waist, and abseiling down the side of the great trunk.

As he crept down the tree, being careful to not go too fast and fall off, the harsh, gravelly sound of a microphone being adjusted caught his attention. A speaker turned on next to him, and more all across the city.

"Good afternoon, people of Maderia," a female voice spoke with something of callousness behind her voice, "You're probably wondering who I am, who we are. Well, that isn't of importance. What is, though, is the whereabouts of the Avatar."

Erik had stopped in his tracks. For the first time ever he was hearing the voice of a Clandestine. Of his complete and utter enemy. It was hard to imagine that this voice wanted his best friends dead, and probably him too. But, sure enough, it did. He didn't want her dead. And perhaps she felt the same. Maybe she was just doing her job, following orders. But he had orders to follow to; to protect the Avatar, be it Dover or Sedgley, and he had to hurry.

Speeding down the side of the tree, Erik continued to listen to the woman.

"You will hand over the Avatar, or he will surrender himself," the Clandestine continued, "or we will burn your Mother alive. You have an hour. Choose wisely."

The speaker cut out. Erik's heart sunk. He hated the thought of the Mother Tree being burnt to the ground, but Aran had given him orders.

"Hey!" a man's voice yelled.

A gun went off. The bullet pierced Erik's arm, just grazing the skin but still feeling like it was on fire. Miko screeched, ready for war, and flew into the man's face, biting and scratching at his features. The man lost hold of his footing, fell backwards and smacked into the tree trunk. Dangling upside down from a rope and clutching his bleeding face, he shot blindly at Erik. A bullet tore through the vine and Erik was falling.

He couldn't scream. His lungs were filled with rushing air. Miko was diving down. He grabbed Erik's collar and tried to pull him back up but it was no use. Miko was too dainty and Erik had gained momentum. He shut his eyes, hoping a plantbender would somehow see and ensnare him in a tangle of vines.

For a short while, all he could hear was the sound of the wind rushing past him, but then suddenly he could hear nothing.

~

Water spouted from a tree branch and then froze into a step. Dover jumped onto the frozen platform he had created and then clambered over the small wooden fence into Maderia. He glanced down at Sedgley who was just making his way up Dover's inventive staircase.

Sedgley was trying to burst water from the plants as well but was having trouble mimicking Dover's technique.

"Come on, Sedgley, hurry up!" Dover called down, "We've only got an hour."

Sedgley looked up and nimbly jumped from step to step before landing next to Dover. They had heard the woman's threat from outside Maderia and both agreed to hand themselves over. They couldn't bear the thought of running away and letting Aran and the rest of the city suffer.

Scanning the area, they assumed their enemies would soon spot them and apprehend them. Smoke and debris hung from the chief's quarters above them and they silently agreed that was where they should go first.

Sedgley's pupils dilated in shock. Knocking over some barrels, stepping out and spinning, then thrusting both arms together above him he extended a large arm of water into the sky. Erik was caught by the water and safely released onto the floor in a puddle, spluttering noisily but glad to the spirits and back that he had survived.

"Shit, Erik! What the hell is happening?" Dover stammered, raising an elbow for a puffed Miko to land on.

Erik pulled the two into a hug, and then quickly released, adjusting his glasses awkwardly, "Um... Clandestines. They're everywhere. Aran said we have to leave now."

"What? No! We can't leave them behind!" Sedgley protested, "You heard her, right? They're going to burn the whole place down if we don't turn ourselves in."

"We have to stay, Erik!" Dover continued, "We can't r–"

"– Think for second, will you!" Erik yelled angrily, "Think about what your next actions will mean!"

His fists were clenched. His fringe hung over his head, hiding his misty eyes, but they could see a fat tear streak through the grime across his face. For the first time ever, Dover and Sedgley didn't see Erik as that goofy kid with the big ears and the bowl-haircut, but as a man.

Erik continued, choking on his own passionate words, "What good are you dead? Think! Think about what we need to accomplish. Think about what mum asked of you. If you stay, you die. If you leave, we might be able to do something."

He breathed in, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes with his sleeve, and looked up at them intensely, "We've only seen so much of the world, and it already hasn't been kind to us. We need to think about our goals, and do everything we can to achieve them. If you want to turn your back on all we've worked for, stay here and get killed, then that's your choice but I want to make a difference in this world. So, I don't know what you're doing, but I'm leaving. It's your move now."

His eyes flicked back and forth between theirs, awaiting their answer. Dover's lips cracked open, but he couldn't make a sound. His eyes started to water ever so slightly and he felt the worst he ever had, more so than in Chan Dai. He didn't want to leave these people behind...

"You're right, Erik," Sedgley nodded, looking up from the floor, "We leave Maderia. Now."

Erik swallowed and relaxed his eyebrows. They turned to dash away but were blown back by an explosion.

Dover fell to the floor but before he landed, pulled some water from wood and pushed himself back up with the torrent, then fired a barrage of icicles into the smoke.

"Watch it!"

A streak of fire curled out of the smoke, revealing Anurna who was in hand-to-hand combat with another firebender. She pushed his arms outwards, blocking his attack and kicked him over the edge of the platform.

"Anurna, we're leaving."

"Fine by me, that Miss Zaida bitch just won't stop with the troops."

"What are you talking about?" Erik asked, looking over his shoulder as they ran west, "What happened out there?" To him, the first attack felt like eons ago.

"Let's just say I had a run in with their boss and it wasn't pretty," she replied grimly, her features softening as Miko came to say hello, thankful his master was still alive.

They turned the corner but stopped, went back and hid with their backs to the wall. Clandestines. Everywhere.

"Shit..." Sedgley muttered, "Let's try this way."

They ran down an alleyway. The shadows of flames danced on the walls of silent houses. Mothers hid with their children in the back of the buildings. It was eerie seeing not a soul as they ran down the empty street, hearing the screams of brave warriors not too far away.

"Get down from there!" Erik yelled at a group of kids they passed who were throwing rocks down into the fight, and had to duck as a wave of flames careened over their young heads.

They kept running. All they had to do was follow the afternoon sun, heading west and stained brown behind the smoke.

A young man stumbled onto the road, shakily wielding an Inducer. As they approached, he raised it at them, sweaty beads of terror running down his temples.

The kids picked up their gait, and Sedgley quickly froze him whole in a plume of water that he had burst from the floor. The corner of his mouth flicked up with an inkling of pride as they sped past him.

They were almost there, but, no matter where they ran, the sounds of strife were never too far away.

Suddenly Erik was bowled over. A horrible wailing sound filled the air.

"Please! Please don't go! We need you!" a sobbing woman begged Erik, clawing at his clothes.

Livia was on her knees, bloody snot dripping from her nose, her hair messier than usual. She had a large, flappy gash on her left arm that she clutched tight with her right one if she wasn't using it to beg at their feet.

"Dover, Sedgley," she shuffled over to them, wiping her hair out of her face but smearing blood everywhere, "The Avatar. Please. Aran's dead. They killed him. They killed him, guys. Those bastards killed him...!" She spiralled into disarray, her teeth bared in anguish.

Livia, who was always so bright and perky and brave, had been decimated by the Clandestines. Absolutely crushed like a delicate flower.

The boys didn't know how to react, or they couldn't react. How could they console someone who had lost an inconceivable amount? They could only stare, mouths ajar, as the poor woman sobbed at their feet.

Anurna gulped, procured a small flame in her palm, stepped forward and suggested with a wavering breath, "Should... Should I put her out of her misery?"

"You will do no such thing!" a voice boomed as an acorn knocked Anurna's hand out of position.

Yuka looked behind him, then left and right before scurrying up to Livia. He crouched down beside her, cradled her head in his big hands and looked her in the eyes.

"Please make them stay," she begged quietly, "Please make them stay, Yuka."

"They have to go Livia," he said softly, kissing her on the forehead, his eyes looking sidewards at them, "You know this."

Funny wasn't it how war and devastation could completely change someone? Livia from the rambunctious prankster to the sobbing mess; Yuka from the mean-spirited grump to the gentle hero. The kids all wondered if they had changed, or what they would change into. They felt like any moment now they would crumble and join Livia on the floor.

Yuka stood up and addressed them all, "The Mother Tree will burn no matter what happens; Avatar or no Avatar. The best thing for all of us is that he leaves safely." He crouched down by Livia again, "We're Maderians. We were founded by adversity, and flourished on adaptability. You'll be fine. We all will." He turned his neck to them, "You four, follow this road and–"

Before he could finish his last sentence, he shuddered and coughed up blood, before falling to the floor. Pebbles had riddled his body, one right at the base of his neck.

Livia whimpered, almost coughed, before slowly getting up, turning her back to them and running away into an unseen alleyway.

The pebbles in Yuka's lifeless body slowly slithered back to the feet of a woman. A woman whose skin was as dark as the smoke that filled the canopy.

Zaida earthbending

Miss Zaida reveals herself to be behind the attack.

"It's her," Anurna muttered.

"We meet again, girl," Miss Zaida exclaimed with a raised eyebrow, flicking the blood off her pebbles.

For a while they stood there in silence, Miss Zaida's body silhouetted by the raging fire behind her. Sedgley stared at her angrily, his teeth clenched in pure disgust at her and everything she was. She was a physical embodiment of all of their concerns, their worries about their enemies. She was who kept them awake at night, tossing and turning in their beds. But, of course, she knew that.

Miko tapped Anurna on the neck. Her eyes darted to her sides. Surely Miss Zaida had called for enforcements and, as she had predicated, more Clandestines silently crept into the surrounding alleyways.

Thank you, Miko, she thought.

One leg behind her, one arm in front, leaning forward, she shot a great stream of fire into the alleyways. Miss Zaida whipped pebbles at Erik. He ducked and pulled the staff from his back. Using water from his pouch, Sedgley swallowed the pebbles up in a fluid movement and flung them away. Miss Zaida easily brought them back and tripped him over with them. Troops poured from the sidelines.

"I want the waterbenders alive, remember!" she ordered, jumping over a sheet of ice and, moving fluidly, whipped Anurna with her rocks, "How does that feel?"

Anurna jumped at the woman, ducking a roundhouse kick, thrusting a blazing palm forward, that being hit away, blocking a dark-skinned hand from the side and weaving around to Miss Zaida's side.

Erik had helped Sedgley up, before knocking two men together with his staff. Dover froze them in the spot again with water pulled from the tree branches below. After dodging an earthen projectile, Sedgley did the same and he and Dover were beginning to freeze everyone on the spot with their nifty technique.

"Guys, we need to leave!" Erik called, knocking a Clandestine unconscious.

"Right," Dover said to himself, "Anurna c–"

"–Guys!"

Miss Zaida had pinned the girl down with her leg and raised some pebbles in the air, coming down to strike. The boys had milliseconds to act. Without thinking, Dover squatted and pulled his fists through the air. Wood peeled up from the floor, enveloping Miss Zaida and restrained her to the floor.

He had just managed to plantbend!

But there was no time to celebrate. The Clandestines who were not frozen on the spot were starting to recover. They had to move fast.

Erik helped Anurna up, "Ready to go?"

"We both know I was ready days ago."

"Get me out of here!" Miss Zaida roared, struggling underneath the bark as the kids tore off westward, "Burn it down! Burn the whole thing to ground! When I'm through there won't be a single scrap of wood left!"

Kaitoonfire

Dover and his friends escape as Maderia burns to the ground.

The kids ran away, keeping in mind Yuka's words that the hardy Maderians would be okay. Reaching the outermost fence, Dover pulled up a tree branch. They grabbed hold of it, held on tight as the plantbender brought it to the floor and hopped off. They paused for a second, if even that, to remember their fallen friends, and those who they didn't know. Without them, the brave men and women and Maderia, they wouldn't be where they were now.

Erik stepped forward first, and the others thoughtlessly followed. Their eyes ahead and their feet somehow managing not to trip up, they continued running; the heat of the burning city and the sounds of conflict fading behind them as they knew the battle waged on still.

As they eventually made it deeper into the forest, far away enough to have no reminder of the atrocities behind them, they, despite never being able to forget what happened at the green city, were determined more than ever to make it to Haven and right all the wrongs they had witnessed.

Just as the Avatar would.

~

Trivia

  • With the word count at 5,215, this is the shortest chapter to date.
  • Anurna and Erik play Battleship: The Fire Nation Royal Navy Edition, which is based on the real-world game, Battleship.
  • Play this music (from LoK) while you read the action scenes. I wrote them while writing this and it really heightens the experience.

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