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|Chapter IX: Retaking Gaipan|
walked through the forest, hoping to find her brother. She watched as a leaf fell to the forest floor. It's almost fall, she thought. She heard a twig snap in the distance. Fearful, she hid behind a tree. She saw a young man, only slightly older than she was, walking by. He had what appeared to be swords strapped to his forearms. But they were different from regular swords. They had tips at both ends, slightly beyond the elbow and hand, and the flat covered his forearms almost completely. Apparently he knew he was being watched, because he turned around to face her. "Hello," he called. Haruka was slightly surprised that he had not asked why she had been hiding behind the tree.
"Where you going?" the man asked.
"Ba Sing Se," Haruka responded.
"I'm going to the war front," the man responded.
", nice to meet you?"
"Haruka, I'm Haruka," she responded. "Why are you going?" Haruka asked.
"I feel like I owe the Earth Kingdom, so I'm going to fight in the war."
"Since you told me that, I'm going to have to place you in prison." The pair turned to face a man, in his thirties, facing them. With him were about a dozen other men, half of them armed, all wearing red uniforms with a Phoenix on the chest. The soldiers began to surround the two. Haruka took a fighting stance.
"You don't have to get involved, you know that," Hari said. Haruka kicked the ground, causing a large rock to come up. She then thrust her first into the rock, shooting it at a soldier.
"Too late for that," she said smiling.
"Attack." The troops began to attack them. Some of them shot fire blasts at the duo. Haruka manipulated the earth around herself to shield them from the flames. Suddenly, she heard a whizzing noise and groans. Still remaining on guard, Haruka lowered that wall to see what had happened. She saw the troops running away, some of them lying about unconscious. She also saw six people, three men and three women, standing near by.
"Woah, its the Earth Kingdom army," Hari said.walked up to the pair.
"What are you kids doing here?"
"Oh cut 'em some slack Saif, they're probably just out on a date." Hari looked at the man who had said that.
"For the record, I just met her one minute ago."
"Aknur, stow that kind of talk."
"Whatever you say Saif." The man with a sword turned to the pair, and spoke. "In case you haven't figured it out by now, my name is Saif. Those two are Aknur and. That woman over there is Toph, and those two with her are Ila and Kun. If you don't mind, could you please tell me why you are here." Hari and Haruka responded to the question as best they could.
"I'm going to fight in the war."
"I'm going to Ba Sing Se to find my brother, Wei."
"You know, we have a guy in out main group named Wei, he could be your brother," Toph called. The group heard an animal coming in the distance. They turned to see it was a man on an ostrich horse. The man rode up, and handed Toph a scroll.
"Toph, Saif, message for you two." The group gathered around Toph.
"What does it say?" Haruka asked.
"I don't know," Toph responded.
"Shes blind," Saif explained. Saif took the message, and read it out loud. "Saif and Toph, the Earth Kingdom has chosen to test out its first airship fleet on Gaipan. How and the King are well aware that the people in the city could be killed, so this messenger has been sent to give you some time to get the civilians out of the town." Saif rolled up the scroll. "I have a plan. Toph, you, Kun and Ila, Earthbend a tunnel from the valley to the town. Aknur, Pallav, the messenger, and I will create a distraction, bringing troops out of the town and allowing the civilians to escape."
"What about these two?" Toph asked, indicating Hari and Haruka.
"What about them, they stay out of the way," Saif responded.
"No, they should fight with us. This guy wants to, and this girl is a great Earthbender. I've seen- so to speak- what she can do."
"I'm in," Hari responded.
"No thank you," Haruka responded." I'll stay until I find my brother, but after that, I leave for home." Haruka began to walk away.
"We need you, you're a great Earthbender," Toph called after Haruka.
"So if you help, then there is a better chance this will go well, and that way there's a better chance no one gets hurt." Haruka stopped.
"Okay, I'm in," she responded.
"Does no one care about my command?" Saif asked.
"Yes," Toph responded. The group began to get ready to put the plan into action.
"When did you get so persuasive persuasive?" Saif asked Toph. Toph smiled and responded.
"Same time I didn't need to be giant rock persuasive."
Saif looked at the small town. He saw the troops coming out of it. He looked to his left and right. There was Hari and the messenger. He looked behind himself. There was Aknur and Pallav, hiding in the trees. Saif was ready for the battle.
Toph cleared the last of the rocks away, and allowed the light to enter she climbed out of the hole, followed by Ila, Kun and Haruka. the group instantly began to find the people of the town, and evacuate them from the town.
Saif swung his sword, carving a path through the infantry of the Phoenix Estates. In between his thrusts and strokes, he could see Aknur and Pallav shooting at various Firebenders as they advanced. He could also see Hari, fighting alongside the messenger, still using his mount to give him the upper hand. He continued to fight, until he noticed that the troops were starting to retreat. Did Toph get found out? he thought. He looked back into the town. No he realized. the troops had run so that they would not be killed by the cavalry of komodo rhinos that had just been sent out. "Hari, go, now, go," he yelled. Hari got onto the ostrich horse with the messenger, and they rode off. Saif knew the only way he would not get trampled by the cavalry was if he surrendered. And so he did.
"Hey you, stop. Hey," A soldier called after Toph.
"Hay is for ostrich horses, I'll feed you later," she taunted. She launched a pillar of earth that knocked the soldier over, and then dove into the hole, closing it up.
Toph came out of the hole, expecting to find Saif among the group of people gathered in the forest. When he didn't go over the results of the operation, she knew something was wrong. "Wheres Saif?" she asked. Hari stepped forward, and answered.
"Saif got taken captive." Toph was in a state of shock, which was broken shortly afterwards by the sound of airship engines.
"I'm going back for Saif," she said, and began recreating the hole into Gaipan.
"Toph, you'll be killed," Kun said.
"No I won't, Saif better love me for this."
"Love you for this?" Ila asked.
"Not in that way" Toph called, blushing, as she entered the hole.
Saif walked into the town in chains, jeered and spat upon by the troops. Saif looked at the ground, to avoid getting spit in his eye. He saw a rock move. A grin crept across his face. Saif ran for it and, as if on cue, a hole appeared in the road, and he leapt in it, right before it closed up.
"Thanks for saving me Toph," Saif said, as he and Toph walked through the crowd of civilians.
"Don't mention it. Just one thing, why did you surrender, and not go down fighting? I'd think you would."
"Oh, well, I, couldn't let you be in charge. Who would read messages?" Saif responded.
"Good Point," Toph said.
"Toph, Saif, How wants to see you to plan the attack on the Peir." The pair turned to see who had spoken, and saw it was Wei.
"I just want you to know, that I'm going to fight in that battle with you. I spoke with my sister, Haruka. If I'm in, shes in."
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