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May 4, 2014
By dawn, everything had been loaded back onto the boats. As soon as Devion had returned from the meeting, he had gone straight to bed without saying a word to Waipae, Nani, or Kayun. Still angry at Captain Uso's lies, he decided he wasn't ready to talk. But he promised himself he'd tell them once they got back on the boat.
"We're leaving in ten minutes," Chief Moi proclaimed to the men. He stepped down from the rock he was standing on and proceeded to load the last of the supplies onto the boat.
Devion looked around at his friends and they strode up to their boat, heading back to the hidden area between a few stacks of boxes that they sat by the previous day. Throwing his bag down, Devion sat against a box and stretched out his legs as his friends settled beside him.
Nani sat in a cross-legged position against one of the boxes opposite Devion. "You looked pretty upset last night," she said, looking at him. "What happened at the meeting?"
"Just tell us the whole story," Kayun put in as he lay down on the wooden deck. "I want to know what it was like."
"Yeah, Kialuk isn't a good storyteller," joked Waipae, elbowing his friend lightly.
Devion sighed and scratched his head. "Well, it started off with us meeting the Fire Nation men on the beach," he began slowly. "Their captain's name was Uso. He reminds me of a viper fish. Tall, thin, pointy chin, straight hair and an aura of cruelty.
"When Chief Moi asked him what he wanted, he danced around it for a bit before telling us that the Fire Nation wants one of our islands. He basically said that if we don't give one to them, they would attack us."
Nani's mouth dropped open, Waipae's eyes widened in disbelief, and Kayun sat up, looking at Devion with a raised eyebrow.
"It's hard to belief, I know," Devion told them. "But anyway, when Chief Moi told him no, that's when Uso said they would attack us. So Chief Moi had to ask for time to think, and that's why we're heading back. He has a week to talk with everyone."
"Why were you so upset?" asked Nani.
"Because when Uso said they were here for peaceful reasons, Chief Moi questioned him about the stranger and the boat the Fire Nation destroyed. Uso lied and made up a story about how they accidentally hit the boat and went on to apologize and offer help when the crew attacked the Fire Nation. I told him he was lying, and he knew that I knew the truth," concluded Devion, anger leaking into him as he stared at the swirls in the wood plank deck.
Nani sat with a thoughtful look on her face. "You know, I'm surprised he didn't say anything about that Avatar," she said. "It's not like we know who the Avatar is, but if there is one in the Island Tribe, he or she would pose a huge threat against them."
"I highly doubt the Avatar is in the Island Tribe," muttered Kialuk, staring at his lap. "The Avatar probably hasn't even been discovered yet." He licked his lips and blinked a few times.
Kayun shrugged. "What if the Avatar has been discovered, but he's just staying hidden while starting to train? Like a secret weapon, or something." Giving a disinterested shrug, Kialuk shifted in his seat and poked the ground with his finger.
"Or she," put in Nani, crossing her arms. "The Avatar can be a girl. But still, you're right. It's been seventeen years since the last Avatar..."
For a moment, there was silence, and then Waipae looked up. "What if the Fire Nation wants the island to search for the Avatar," he suggested. "So if they do find the Avatar, they can eliminate him and—"
"Or her," Nani interrupted, rolling her eyes.
"Or her," continued Waipae, giving Nani an annoyed look. "If they find the Avatar, they can eliminate him. Or her," he added, throwing another glance at Nani, "and then attack us and take the whole island."
"He said nothing about the Avatar," mumbled Devion with a slightly irritated tone. His comment ended the discussion and he turned his gaze, staring out across the open sea as they sailed away from Palua.
The citizens had gathered on the beach as soon as they saw the boats on the horizon. Nearly all of them were standing in a clumped group on the white sand, quietly speculating with their neighbors about what happened.
The five ships sailed into the harbor and, by the order of Chief Moi, they left everything on the boats as they filed onto the piers. Moving quickly for a large group, they surged through the town and spilled out onto the beach, cramping it even more. Chief Moi climbed up onto the rocks on one side of the beach and everyone turned their attention towards him.
"We are back from our journey to Palua," he began slowly and clearly. "Some of my men and I met with the Fire Nation's captain, Uso. He told us the Fire Nation wants something from us." He paused for a moment, intentionally letting his words sink in.
"Uso demanded for us to give the Fire Nation one of our islands."
Cries of protest erupted among the citizens. They shot their fists into the air and shook their heads, staring up at the chief with disbelief and indignation clear on their faces.
"They can't do that!" one woman near the front cried.
"That's outrageous!" screamed a man, shaking his fist in rage.
"We can't let them have our land!" a third person yelled, hopping up an down.
"Quite down, quite down," expressed Chief Moi, breathing deeply. "I have to think about the whole tribe with this, because we are threatened with attack if we don't hand over the island."
"But Chief Moi, you surely wouldn't hand over an island for nothing?"
Everyone fell silent at the unfamiliar voice and turned their heads as a man hobbled down onto the beach. Devion's eyes flashed with surprise. It was the stranger from the other night, dressed in bandages and limping down the road to the beach, the pain visible with every step he took.
"Who's that?" someone in the back of the crowd questioned.
The stranger turned towards the epicenter of the sound and bowed slightly. "I am Kanakae of Kohana," he introduced. "I was the man who washed up on the shore two nights ago and was saved by two of your own."
Mutters and murmurs spread through the crowd, but nobody said anything else. Kanakae turned back towards Chief Moi and took a few steps forward.
"The-they offered us seven of their warships," stammered Chief Moi, shocked to see Kanakae appear out of the blue. "But we are the Island Tribe, and we will not use such atrocities."
Taking a few more steps forward, Kanakae shook his head. "What we don't want is for one of our islands to be handed over to the Fire Nation. Chief, you've never been to the Fire Nation, have you? It's a land of smog and smoke, fire and ashes. If you hand over an island, soon enough it will be stripped of everything and they'll move on to the next island, and the next, until we have no choice but to act, or to surrender."
Flustered, Chief Moi frowned. "Kanakae," he said, "I respect your opinion, but if we don't give over an island, they will attack us."
"Chief Moi!" cried Kanakae, desperation palpable in his ragged voice. "We are the Water Tribe, the masters of water, quenchers of fire. We are strong." His ragged voice suddenly grew stronger and he continued, pressing his right fist against his heart. "Although we don't live in the Northern or Southern Water Tribes, we have their blood pushing through our veins. We have the blood, the character, of our great nation. We are strong.
"During the Hundred Year War, the Water Tribe stayed alive and fought through. For a century, we protected ourselves from the Fire Nation's burning grasp. When Admiral Zhao and his massive fleet besieged the North Pole and killed Tui, we pushed through and emerged victorious. When the Avatar called for the Southern Tribe to help him in battle against the Fire Nation, we answered his call and helped bring down their corrupt leader. We, the Water Tribe, have defeated the Fire Nation twice! And we will not sink to their threats, because we are the Water Tribe, and we will fight back!"
Kanakae through his fist into the air and the gathered crowd of Kiolu citizens erupted into cheers and applause. Chills tingled down Devion's spine and a smile touched his lips. Patriotic and moving, the speech would surely sway even Chief Moi's opinion, and it was brave for Kanakae to have said it. The stranger stood there, his chest heaving and his eyes burning with a brave ferocity as he stared towards Chief Moi.
Chief Moi sighed loudly and scratched his head. "I have to make a decision that keeps my people safe." Kanakae opened his mouth, ready to talk more, but Chief Moi raised his hand. "But, you raise a good point, Kanakae. I shall sit on these thoughts for a few days before discussing it with the other mayors and leaders of the tribe."
Kanakae nodded and Chief Moi leaped down from the rocks he was standing on. He walked up the beach and disappeared into Kiolu.
Slowly, the crowd on the beach began to disperse as people headed home. Devion wandered over towards the path and told his friends to go on ahead as he waited patiently for his mother.
Laona caught eyes with Devion and rushed over to him, embracing her son tightly. "I was worried about you," she said.
"Mom," muttered Devion, pulling away from her hug. "I was gone for a day."
Laona nodded. "I know, but after what happened to your father...."
"I'll be safe, Mom," he told her kindly. "And nothing you can say will stop me from going back when Chief Moi decides what to do." As his mother opened her mouth to talk, Devion stared her in the eyes and continued. "If we are going to fight, then I will fight with them. It's only right that I defend my nation."
Sighing nervously, Laona nodded. "I'll never forgive you if you don't come home," she whispered, half-joking, half-serious.
"I'll be dead. You won't have to forgive me." Devion chuckled. His mom blinked, her eyes watering. After a short moment, the mother and son turned and started to walk back to town. Laona placed an arm around her sons waist and he patted her back lightly, smiling down at his mom.
"Do you think Chief Moi will hand over an island to the Fire Nation?" asked Laona after a minute of silence.
Devion shrugged. "I hope not," he said. "Because that would just be a longer, more-drawn out defeat for us. I think our best chance is to fight back." "But the Fire Nation is just so strong," replied Laona. "There have powerful vehicles and a huge army. Meanwhile, we have a fleet of wooden ships and a few thousand warriors."
"We have the Northern and Southern Tribes, too," Devion told her. "They'll always help us."
"You've heard about what the Fire Nation has done, though. They burn and consume. Forests, towns, flocks fall before their fire. That's all they do."
"You know what water does, Mom?" muttered Devion as they stepped into the plaza. "It puts fire out. We have that advantage over them."
"I guess so," Laona said quietly, skepticism still in her voice. "Anyway, I'm going to go take Molaka out for a ride with Kialuk," Devion mentioned. "I haven't ridden him in a few days."
Laona nodded and turned to head back to their house, waving goodbye to Devion.
Devion trekked through the town and out into the jungle. He walked for a few minutes until he found a winding stream and began to stride beside the broad creek. Sunlight filtered through the broad leaves and birds and bugs hummed in the air above him.
After ten minutes of walking up the stream, Devion pushed open a wooden gate and stepped onto the shores of a large pond several hundred feet across. Dozens of dolphogators basked and swam around in the warm water. Many more stood on the small islands or the shore, eating raw meat out of wooden troughs.
"Molaka!" called Devion, searching the water for his dolphogator.
There was a splash in the center of the lagoon and a large dolphogator with a blue-greenish hue to his skin rose up from the surface and swam over to the shore. He crawled out of the water and Devion smiled as he looked at the familiar body of his companion.
Molaka's body was flat and long, with four legs, two near the front and two at the back. One long tail that fanned out at the end like a whale's tail hung from behind Molaka's legs. A large dorsal fin protruded from his dark blue-green skin.
The dolphogator's face much resembled that of a catgator, although his head was much more rounded. His snout was long, flat, and wide, filled with small, razor sharp teeth. Thick black whispers extended from the side of his head, just in front of Molaka's beady black eyes.
Overall, Molaka was about nine or ten feet long from snout to tail, a little bigger than the average dolphogator. When he fully stood up on his legs, his back was about a foot and a half of the ground, but most of the time he slithered around with his stomach a few inches from the dirt.
Devion affectionately patted Molaka on the head and the dolphogator made a purring noise. "Come on, boy," said Devion. "You ready to go swimming?" Molaka shook his head happily and banged his heavy tail on the damp ground a few times. Devion stood and started walking towards the fence of the dolphogator pen when it opened and Kialuk walked in.
"Hey, Devion," he said. "I'll go get Hoa and then we'll be off."
Fifteen minutes later, Devion and Kialuk had both placed the light saddles on their dolphogators. The saddles were simple leather that strapped around the animal's chest. They had a small seat and two handles for the rider to grasp on.
Molaka splashed into the water and Devion waded out with his pet before sliding on once they were deep enough. "Go, Molaka!" urged Devion, patting him on the side.
Growling happily, Molaka beat his tail against the water and shot forward, skimming through the water with ease. Spray flew up from the blue waves and showered around Devion as he laughed joyfully. Riding Molaka was an exciting experience, just as thrilling as using an ice board. But there was something better about riding on a dolphogator than a board. Maybe it was the bond between Molaka and Devion, or maybe it was because he was amazed at the power of the dolphogator.
"Race you to the harbor!" cried Kialuk, shooting up past Devion.
Devion laughed and Molaka changed directions with a pat on the neck. He beat his legs and tail, flying through the water. They swerved around people ice surfing and darted around children playing with canoes out on the ocean.
As they approached Kialuk and Hoa, Devion shot his arms out to the right, towards the beach, and a surge of water blasted him and Molaka out of the water and into the air. Devion gripped onto the saddle tightly as the dolphogator flipped in mid-air and then came down with a splash on the other side of Kialuk. Waves rippled out in all directions, large enough that it took Kialuk by surprise and knocked him out of the saddle.
Devion cheered loudly as he and Molaka swam into the harbor. He spun around in his seat and laughed as he saw Kialuk clambering back onto Hoa a few hundred feet away. They swam towards Kialuk and slowed down beside him.
"Nice trick," laughed Kialuk, grinning as he shook the water out of his hair. "And it looks like you won."
For the rest of the remaining day, Devion, Kialuk, and their two loyal mounts sped through the water in the bay. When the sun started to set, they rode their dolphogators back to the shore and walked them up the stream and back into the pen.
Devion walked back through the town alone since Kialuk decided he was going to wash Hoa. He opened up the door to his home, muttered a quiet good night to his mother, and then crashed into his bed, exhausted after the last two days of little sleep.
There are 2,825 words in Kanakae.
|Flames on the Horizon Chapters|
|Book 1 - Embers|
|~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~|
|Book 2 - Flames|
|Book 3 - Inferno|
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