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Chapter One: The Uprising
It was a nice, sunny day in Ba Sing Se. The Jasmine Dragon was as busy as usual. Uncle Iroh was preparing teas left and right. He decided to take a quick break, panting heavily. All this tea making was tiring him out. "Hishei!" Iroh called out.
"Yes, Mr. Iroh?" asked Hishei. Hishei was Iroh's assistant, who has been working him for a couple years now, and is Iroh's most dedicated employee.
"I need you to take over for me," Iroh explained, "I'm taking my lunch break."
"Right away, Mr. Iroh!" Hishei rushed back into the kitchen. Iroh grabbed a plate with four cups of tea and walked into the back of the Jasmine Dragon, where Aang, Katara, and Zuko sat. Iroh gently set the plate on the table, then took a seat. "It is nice to see you again," Iroh said excitedly.
"Good to see you too, Uncle," replied Zuko.
"Yeah," Aang added, "It's always good to see you Iroh. You make the best tea."
"Thank you," Iroh said gratefully, "How are things going?"
Aang and Katara told Iroh and Zuko about their day, which was the same as usual. Iroh informed them that business in the Jasmine Dragon is fantastic: maybe a little too fantastic. They shared a few stories and a couple laughs after that. However, Katara soon noticed that Zuko was...unengaged, like he was in his own little world. He was thinking. Katara quickly asked how he was doing. Drifting back into reality, Zuko quickly responded. "Nothing!" They all looked at him suspiciously.
"Nothing," he repeated, nonchalantly, "Just the same as usual."
"You're not a very good liar," Katara giggled. "But still, what's up?"
Knowing he couldn't hide the secret, he sighed. "There have been a series of...uprisings occurring in the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom," Zuko began, "It has caused a lot of trouble in the rebuilding. I was trying to keep it quiet so I wouldn't have to bother you about it, Aang. I thought I could fix things myself, but I was wrong."
"What part of 'This is my thing' don't you get?" asked Aang.
"I know, I made a mistake," continued Zuko, "But it may not be too late to fix it."
Aang nodded. They said their goodbyes to Iroh and Katara, flying on Appa to the city of Ying Ki, the first settlement to rebel. As Zuko and Aang walked through the streets, the citizens gave them dirty looks. Zuko didn't seem to notice, but it was bothering Aang. He was supposed to be the Avatar, the protector of the world. It just made him feel like he wasn't being the Avatar he was supposed to be. As they walked through the city, they noticed the Earth Kingdom banners and emblems were replaced by black and grey ones with a strange emblem. It seemed like they were no longer an Earth Kingdom city. When they finally reached the mayor's office, he didn't seem happy to see Aang or Zuko. Nonetheless, he ordered his guards to leave and offered Aang and Zuko a seat.
"It's good to see you Mayor Gashi," Zuko said politely.
"Likewise," replied Gashi. Aang decided to stay quiet until Zuko needed to him to speak up. While he was the Avatar, he still wasn't too savvy with politics.
"I'd like to talk to you about the uprise," explained Zuko.
Gashi glared at Zuko. "What's there to talk about?!"
"Well, you see, we'd like to know why you and your people are upset, so we can sort things out."
"You want to know? Fine! Your people have caused devastation to the world during your war. It has caused many of us to become homeless. We have lost the ones we love. And if I remember correctly, a couple of years ago, you came here, demanding the location of the Avatar. When I didn't give you information on something impossible to give, you murdered innocent people!"
Zuko sighed. "Yes, I did horrible things, but-"
"Darn right you did! And it doesn't stop there! As the war progressed, the Earth Kingdom stopped protecting us during the war. This left my people exposed to Fire Nation colonization. All you folk did was bully and murder my people. When the Earth Kingdom finally showed up, our problems only increased. It turns out those folk weren't in the military. They were just thugs. When they came, they demanded we hand over our money, food, and crops. If we didn't get what they wanted, they started destroying things, killing people. The Fire Nation didn't do anything to stop it. And those thugs weren't even protecting us! They just took the stuff, and when they ran out, they came back for more."
Aang couldn't sit by anymore. "Enough!" Aang yelled, "I know that terrible things have happened to you in the past. But you can't hide in the past anymore. You have to look toward the future. Can't you see that Fire Lord Zuko is only thinking about the world's best interests? He's trying to change it for the better."
"You're in no place to argue, Avatar," argued Gashi, "You left the world to fend for itself for a hundred years. I don't care if you came back. The time you've been hiding in that iceberg, the world has been suffering. Your game of hide and seek scarred the world. If you were here sooner, you could've ended this war and saved it from the suffering."
Aang sighed, with sadness, looking away from Gashi and Zuko. "I think it would be best if you left," Gashi added.
"Very well," Zuko said, nodding. "Come on, Aang."
Later that evening, Zuko, Aang, and Katara had dinner with Iroh at his apartment in Ba Sing Se.
Katara noticed Aang seemed down. He hadn't even touched his soup. When Aang walked out on the balcony, Katara followed.
"What's wrong?" asked Katara.
"It's nothing," Aang replied.
"Come on, Aang," said Katara, "I know that sad look. Now tell me."
"Okay, it's just...in Ying Ki, when we were in the mayor's office, the mayor said somethings. Stuff about how his city and other cities have been suffering because of the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. It made me feel like I wasn't being a good Avatar."
"Oh Aang, he doesn't know what he's talking about. You're a great Avatar! He's just being stubborn."
"No, he's right."
"Aang..." Katara sighed. "I've watched you grow for a long time now. You're not that goofy kid that you were when I found you in that iceberg. You're a fully realized Avatar now. You saved the world from Fire Lord Ozai. You've helped Zuko rebuild. If that guy in his fancy office can't see that you and Zuko are trying to help, then it's his problems. I know that you and Zuko will find a way."
Aang smiled. "I guess you're right."
"You should get some sleep," Katara noted, "It's been a long day."
"Okay. Good night, Katara." Katara kissed Aang on the cheek and went back inside. Aang followed her. He sat down and finished his pea soup, then went to the guest room. He got into bed, but didn't go to sleep immediately. He sat in thought, before falling into slumber.
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