|More from Sep0815||Adventure||PG-13||None yet|
|The Race to Ba Sing Se|
Air. Water. Earth. Fire.
After a long, fulfilled and yet exhausting life, Avatar Korra passed, being succeeded by Sari of the Earth Kingdom, who died early and didn't play a role in history.
The current Avatar is Asura of the Fire Nation, who mastered the elements quickly.
Although she thought she would never play an important role in history, she was proven wrong when the black ships arrived. The first one came in peace, but all the following carried a deadly load: WAR.
A war even the Avatar and her allies can barely end, one that threatens to consume the worlds involved.
And the question everyone asks is: Will there still be a world, a mankind to save?
Previously in Avatar: The War of the Worlds
The War continues on all frontlines. In the Fire Nation, the Black Sun movement triggers an uprising which soon is subdued, in space, the Allies have a great advantage for the first time since the war had begun, while Ba Sing Se is about to be conquered from the inside by the Dai Li and from the outside by the League.
A splendid morning
It was an ordinary, quiet morning in wartime Ba Sing Se, the people opened up their shops, made their way to factories or collapsed buildings or whatever their profession required to be done, while the Dai Li hindered the city's inhabitants on opposing the organisation's rise to power, and the Fire Nation's army came closer to the metropolis every day. Altogether, a quiet and relatively peaceful morning, except of course the political murders the Dai Li committed. And then, there was a special house in the Upper Ring. There resided six guests, visitors from other parts of this world, or even the Galaxy, and the city's King's daughter. In a room of the house's second store, the group's one member who was not of this world, rose from his bed and laid his feet on the ground. Though shaking a little due to sleep-deprivation, he made his way to his everyday clothes - a two-hundred year-old uniform of a paratrooper. After he realised he had worn pyjamas before he had taken on the uniform, he took off the uniform again, followed by the pyjamas, before he clothed himself in underwear and then the uniform again. Following this, he ran his pale hand through his dark, messy hair before he laid his blue eyes upon his armament. As he stared at the two guns resting at a stool by his bed, he took in a lack of ammunition, but decided to do nothing about it yet, an rather follow the stairs down into the dining and living room to make himself breakfast. As he staggered down the wooden stairs, his companions could be heard laughing, talking and, to him much more important, eating. When he, drowsy as he was, arrived there, every one of them looked at him and let go of a laugh, until Asura, whose face bore a broad smile, asked him round, "C'mon, sit down and eat something!"
He seated himself to her right, took some kind of bread from the table's centre to his dish while unintentionally staring at Asura. She was a typical Fire Nation woman, with pitch black hair, amber eyes and pale skin, though Mike had seen barely anyone of comparable beauty. He shook his head and directed his attention back to the bread thing he had obtained, as he asked casually, "Why did you laugh at me anyway?"
It was Asura's brother, who sat across, who replied, "Well, it's just that you look... the same every morning. Messy hair, dark circles under the eyes, and every morning you can be heard cursing when you realise that you've taken on the uniform over your pyjamas... Any questions?"
Zolu, too, was, by the looks, a typical Fire Nation soldier, though he was missing the (stereo) typical sideburns many soldiers wore, instead of them he had a small moustache over his upper lip. The others at the table were Malu, who wore her auburn hair as she liked to wear it, and grey eyes filled with joy, then there was her far relative and close friend Kiruya, whose brown hair flowed down her neck and back in a loose braid, her lifelong tanned skin surrounding her - closed as she laughed - eyes of deep blue colour, and the last of theirs was Luo, as Zolu and Mike always in his uniform, his skin even paler than Asura's and Zolu's, or even Mike's, his emerald eyes seen in a rare mood of joy, and yet hiding something, and his short black hair composing a contrast to the skin. After he had joined the laughter and his gaze had wandered, examining each of his companions one more time, a question arose.
Just as he had finished his sentence, said person thrust the door open, sweating even through her Kyoshi Warrior uniform.
"It's a splendid morning, isn't it?" she asked, surprising every of the breakfasting group.
"Well, of course, I mean it hasn't rained in two weeks and-" Mike began, but was cut short by the exhausted Princess, who shoved him aside using her katana, and stated, "Unfortunately also for the Fire Nation."
Arzowa walked into the tent in the centre of General Muto's camp, where said officer, a slightly corpulent man in his fifties, bearing classical Fire Nation sideburns and a traditional topknot, which formed a contrast to his relatively modern uniform. They walked up to a map table where a map of Ba Sing Se was laid out, other Generals bordering the table as the two joined them. As soon as every of the Generals had noticed the Crown Princess' presence, aircraft engines roared up all around them and bomber after bomber took off. Shortly thereafter, Muto rose to speak, "Gentlemen, as you all know, the Fourth Reich's Expeditionary Force under Marshal George Jackson, coming from the south, and our troops moving in from the west, are preparing a race to Ba Sing Se, and I do not want to see the nation who was the first to conquer said city to be second in that race! Therefore, I ordered to start the bombings again today with our dive and high-speed bombers, today, on this splendid morning... "
Everyone in the tent began to murmur and soon, it drowned out even the engines' noise, until Muto chimed in again, "So my plan is the following: while our Dai Li allies inside the walls take it down from the inside, we bomb the city and break the Outer Wall at several points at once, as our elite paratrooper division, the 101st, drops in and our bombers still lay waste to the major junctions in the city. And as always, the plan is highly modifiable to guarantee success. Questions?"
As none arose, he ordered all of the Generals' camps to mobilise and advance, to penetrate the impenetrable a second time.
Dogfights over Ba Sing Se
Shen-Lin flew her fighter a second time that morning, this time with two experienced pilots at her tail, Mike and Malu. The three aircraft accelerated over the Lower Ring, until squadron after squadron of bombers, mostly twin-engined, came into sight. Soon, the three aeroplanes were surrounded by Fire Nation ones, which were fired at from all sides but behind. The AA-batteries fired nonstop at the masses of light bombers, and the Earth Kingdom Air Force did their best to fend them off, coming from above, below, right and left, but they underestimated the agility of the bombers. And in the centre of all this were three fighters, piloted by the Princess of the Earth Kingdom, the Grand Admiral of Europe and the daughter of the Air Nomad's councilwoman in the United Republic Council. Every of the three went their own ways - Shen-Lin flew her fighter up above the squadron they were encountering, while Mike dove below them, and Malu flew zigzag through the space between the bombers. What none had anticipated was that the bombers they engaged in combat in fact were dive bombers, and, to escape the three, nosedived down to a small ammunitions factory. The first to follow was Malu, who hit one of the plane's engine, and caused it to descend uncontrolled, during which it crashed into another plane of the same unit, which followed a split second after the first. Just after the two aircraft had crashed into a nearby alley, an AA-gun opened fire on the eighteen remaining aeroplanes, hitting three, of which one was hit fatally. This was when Mike appeared before the enemy unit, and opened fire while Shen-Lin came up from below, urging the bombers after shooting down another two of theirs to retreat. As they were about to fly off to aid in the few other sectors, where the defence against the bombers wasn't going so well, a dozen of enemy fighter aircraft surprised them and hit one of Mike's engines. Using his remaining one to get back to the aerodrome they had started at, he escaped the turmoil of battle. In the meantime, Malu and Shen-Lin were flying breakneck manoeuvres, only metres above the ground and then up above the clouds to continue the battle there. With proceeding length of the dogfight, the enemy squadron diminished in number, until only three were left, who followed the two female pilots closely as said pilots flew up the wall of the Middle Ring just after flying through streets with only one metre between the aeroplane and the ground. As the two changed their direction, and furthermore, parted their ways, one of the three, confused as he was, followed up the wall closely. Then, an earth slab raced down the wall from its parapet walk, and damaged the propeller heavily. Still, the pilot could steer his aeroplane up above the battlements, when a second earth slab, directed by a metal-clad police captain, hit the aircraft's engine and caused it to catch fire. Meanwhile, the two pilots had encountered another problem: enemy reinforcements. Three other fighters had come to aid the two left ones and truly exhausted the two. As if to taunt them, a sixth arrived and opened fire, literally. With - apparently blue - fireballs shot for them, and five enemy fighters pursuing them as well it looked very bad for them.
It was all but quiet in the camp as fighters took off to aid the bombers.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Arzowa rose an eyebrow as she asked the High General, leaning against the fighter she was about to steer.
"Of course! This is the ultimate test for reaction time and such, and, besides, this aeroplane has been designed to be used exclusively by benders... So why not?"
Being fed up with arguing with Muto, Arzowa climbed into the cockpit and looked at the instruments and controls, nodding. "I think I even know how to fly this thing... and how to shoot fireballs, too. Well then, farewell! Till I've got to refuel!"
Muto saluted and went off to his commanding tank to coordinate the movements while Arzowa's fighter took off. It looked almost like an ordinary single-engined fighter, only that the guns in fact shot fireballs, if she bended into special openings below her feet. She decided to follow the nearest unit, which was one of three fighters headed to the Lower Ring to aid three other ones, which were in difficulties, due to two experienced pilots using jet fighters. After a few minutes, they were engaging the two strangely-looking fighters in combat. She concentrated to bend with her feet without moving them, and two fireballs of blue colour emerged the two narrow pipes mounted at both wings, aimed at the nearer of the two enemy aircraft. Said aircraft shot near her faster than even her bending, and she caught a glance of the pilot. It was a female Air Nomad with auburn hair, whom she had seen photos of - as the commander of the Four Nations' Legion's Air Force. She wasted little time to thoughts and fired a volley at the second fighter, whose pilot tried to shake Arzowa off. Fireball after fireball missed its target, and the others concentrated at the Air Nomad, so she had to succeed, or she thought so until two other jet airplanes shot down three of her unit, both piloted by Fire Nation citizens, of whom one was Avatar Asura. In utter disbelief, she didn't notice the one before her turning around. Then, the world around the two seemed to freeze. She recognised the pilot's face too well, ...it's Shen!, she thought as the two fighters flew directly at each other. The girl I've grown up with... here in Ba Sing Se. The first twelve years of my life... But too late did she notice the other three firing at her. Cutting off the short moment of recognition, she nosedived her fighter and freed herself of the seatbelts with bending, before she opened the cockpit the same way and propelled herself through the air by bending. Her aeroplane exploded when Shen-Lin fired a few rounds at it, and sent some after Arzowa herself. Fearing her childhood friend's reaction at recognising her, she sped up and flew back to the camp, just to hide in some forest nearby, so that nobody would see her sobbing. Sobbing about how much she had become like her famous ancestress Azula.
The four aircraft landed at the aerodrome in the Upper Ring, being awaited by a group of three, of whom one, a Grand Admiral, was eating an ice-cream. However, the pilots' mood was exactly the opposite of the Grand Admiral's.
"Why didn't you shoot her down?" Asura asked harshly, looking at Shen-Lin with narrowed eyes.
"I'm sorry, but you don't know what she's like! I mean, of course, she is the Fire Nation Princess, but I've known her since childhood and..." Shen-Lin replied sorrowful.
"Oh, of course, so you were friends with a homocidical monster? You disgrace-" Zolu shouted, until Shen-Lin proved that she could shout louder.
"SHE IS NOT A MONSTER!"
Everyone fell silent, until Mike decided to chime in, "Well, I've never met her, but what if she's both?"
Asura, Zolu and Shen-Lin looked baffled, mouths wide open, until Malu explained from behind, "One of these two... personalities is her true one, the other is acted... The question is: which is which?"
On their way to their temporary home, nobody dared to speak a word. Not a single word could be heard, almost total silence dominated. This was until the sirens rung up another time, and bombers could be seen approaching one more time.
The Downfall begins
"Buffalo one present!"
"Buffalo two here!"
"Buffalo three ready!"
"Buffalo four awaiting further orders!"
"Buffalo five ready to go!"
"Buffalo six... presence confirmed!"
"Buffalo seven definitely not missing!"
The Team's members' voices sounded as their fighters took off, all seven at once, to hunt down the Fire Nation bombers. The fighters rose up, high in the skies above, directed towards the Agrarian Zone, where the Fire Nation Air Force was bombing the military camps and sprinkling the fields with defoliants of all kinds. The fast aircraft soon had surpassed the Inner Wall near the Four Nations' Legion's encampment, which was being heavily bombed. Many fighters of all Nations were trying to succeed against the enemy Air Force, but the Fire Nation themselves had taken fighters to protect their bombers, and of these, one special squadron was very successful and conspicuous. Fireballs caught the Legion's aircraft mid-air and left them burning, while the squadron's leader shot blue fireballs which let the aircrafts' fuel explode. The Buffalo Squadron immediately recognised this kind of fire they had seen only hours before, and decided to accelerate to break through the bombers directly to this squadron, which seemed to be, according to characters at their aircrafts' bodies, called The Dragons. The Buffalos and The Dragons soon were aimed at each other, and engaged in combat. The Dragons made the first strike, firing all they had got at the jet fighters. The latter, making use of their speed, evaded these strikes with ease, and themselves fired a few rounds before splitting to avoid crashing into The Dragons. Each three of them flew beneath and above, while Shen-Lin only slightly turned her plane to avoid crashing into Arzowa's. However, The Dragons were not easy to be defeated, and let themselves, except Arzowa, fall back, and were gaining on The Buffalos from behind. Arzowa and Shen-Lin were beginning a duel in the air, which Shen-Lin started surprisingly with rotating her aeroplane to gain momentum and ejected a small bomb when she had built up enough of it. The bomb was catapulted through the air and aiming for Arzowa, but could Arzowa evade it and it exploded upon contact with one of The Dragons. At the sight of her former friend starting the duel, Arzowa shot a stream of blue fire at her coming from the right, but it merely heated up the cockpit as she made use of her speed. Arzowa intended to attack another time, but then a few bombers she ought to protect began to trail plumes of black smoke and to sink, slowly at first, but noticeably accelerating. Shen-Lin caught her off-guard with a volley of her cannonry, and hit the empennage enough to make it difficult to steer. Arzowa rocketed upwards and then turned around to catch Shen-Lin by surprise and heavily damaged a wing. But then, an already smoking fighter of The Buffalos shot from the left and rendered the empennage completely useless, urging Arzowa to retreat, alongside her unit which had battled The Buffalos well. Unable to fly their respective aircraft much longer, the Team landed them at the Legion's improvised airfield, and then made their way home by car. As they had arrived before their house, Mike remarked, "Did you hear this? Total silence... Almost."
Crown Prince Rong had gathered all his supporters around him, around a map table in the Laogai Bunker. He looked at the map of Ba Sing Se before him, and, after all had fallen silent, spoke, "Comrades, soon enough will Ba Sing Se be cleansed of its greatest weakling, the Earth King! And our mighty ally will help us in doing so. Again, the impenetrable city will fall, and in the same way as two centuries before! And I promise you, none of the filthy little Avatar and her allies cannot hinder us in any way!"
A massive applause was the audience's answer, and he figuratively crushed the figure on the map table which symbolised the Earth King. Soon enough, he would kill his father and follow him on the throne.
Muto observed the map table before him closely and cautiously, as if it was a game of Pai Sho, moved a figure symbolising the 101st inside the walls and went through everything in his plan. From the south, three Shock Armies were incoming with impressive speed, but he would win the Race to Ba Sing Se. Arzowa, who stood to his left, moved several figures to the wall and let the small plastic figure break it. The plan couldn't fail, the Earth Kingdom had too little forces left to effectively resist the Fire Nation, the Dai Li and the Fourth Reich, and sooner or later, they would fall for good. The plan was simple and brilliant, and still risky. Because of one factor, which, or to be correct, who was, even in modern times, still a threat: the Avatar.
Ruyi had called a war meeting with all major commanders of the Armed Forces in Ba Sing Se, including the Team. The map table only showed the obvious, that they were hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed. Against their badly-equipped Army and the Legion stood a Fire Nation army group and three shock armies of the Reich, not to talk about the Dai Li undermining them. Little time was what they had left, and even less resources. But even then, few truly considered to surrender. They would stay and fight to their last breath, until their bodies would've been pierced by dozens of bullets, but till then they had to wait. By then, it was all quiet on the western Front, where the Fire Nation was, all quiet in the south, where the Reich advanced northwards, and all quiet in the north and the east, where barely any armed forces moved, in the case there were such. But it all only was the calm before the storm, before the fire would consume the last bit of untouched wood.
Notes and Trivia
- No, Arzowa is NOT schizophrenic!
- The last sentence is almost poetic. Almost.
- By then, it was all quiet on the western front... is a reference to the book and film All Quiet on the Western Front (or Im Westen nichts neues, as the German original is entitled)
For the collective works of the author, go here.