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|Chapter Six (The Gift)|
June 28, 2014
For the next few day, I really got to know a lot of the crew members. Aukaneck's three best friends, whose names I'm still trying to remember, had joined. They kind of accepted me into the group since I had told off the chief and practiced waterbending illegally. I guess they thought I was some sort of a rebel. Our group had also gotten to know some to know a set of brothers: Krenertok and his little brother Kesuk. Krenertok was lively and outgoing but Kesuk was very shy and introverted. Krenertok was about eighteen and Kesuk was sixteen, barely passing the age requirement.
Kapik had also enlisted. If Malina knew I'm sure she would have something to say about that. Thinking of Malina makes me wonder what has happened to her. I hope she and Arnaka are alright.
The other three crew members were very snobby. I never really liked to talk to them. Especially one soldier of the ship, Tikaani.
He is the captain of our vessel. Normally, they are the ones in charge and make all of the commands. But since the Lieutenant is on our ship, he makes all of the commands. Tikaani's father is a very high up officer in the military. As for his son's experience, I'm not quite sure. I don't even know if he has ever even served in the military.
Right now we are all on the deck practicing our waterbending. Aukaneck's friend Pikatti was teaching me a horizontal pinwheel. Tikaani and his gang are scolding us for teaching and practicing illegal waterbending. Kesuk is watching to make sure Lieutenant Kaskae does not see us.
I balance a snake of water in my hands.
"The basic way of doing this," Pikatti explains, "is to move the water swiftly around your body."
I do exactly that, moving the water in in a clockwise motion around me. Aukaneck creates a dummy of ice on the deck.
"Now fire the pinwheel at the dummy without ever moving the shape, still making it a pinwheel," he instructs. "If you feel like the back of it is about to hit your body, move the water around in two separate parts, diverging when it is about to hit you body and converging when it is no longer about to hit your body."
I begin bending the pinwheel towards the dummy. I feel the back of the pinwheel about to hit my back, so I diverge the water at the right of my hip and converge it at the left my hip. As soon as I no longer need to diverge and converge the water, the pinwheel hits the dummy, sending the ice into a thousand pieces. The group applauds me. I bow in gratitude.
"He's coming!" Kesuk warns us. I send the water back into the ocean. Lieutenant Kaskae walks out of the hallway and onto the deck. We align into a single file line side by side. I am on the far left. Tikaani is on the far right. The rest are in the center. The uniforms they wear are the same--a light blue kimono with a white trim on the inside, cut off on the sleeves and at the knees. It is tied with a dark blue belt with two water satchels hanging down from it. They all wear a traditional Water Tribe wolf tail. On their feet are brown leather boots that almost come up to their knees.
My uniform is different. I wear a long, dark blue kimono with a dark blue belt tied around the waist. My hair is tied up as I usually have it. I wear a pair of leather sandals on my feet.
"List up men!" he yells. "Today, we shall be returning back to the base. Tunerk has not been here so I trust that one of you will be gracious enough to show her around." He pauses for a moment. "That is all." We dismiss from our formation. For a couple minutes, we stand on the deck talking to each other.
"Look! We're almost there!" someone yells. In the distance, I can see what appears to be a ton of boats docked beside each other. As we get closer to what I realize is a sandy shore, I see a number of tents off the coast. There also appears to be a wide, stone pedestal about two stories high with stone stairs snaking up from the bottom to the top of it on each side. The front of it faces the tents. A large amount of open space is in front of it. This place must be used for gatherings.
Eventually, the boat hits the shore. Everyone jumps off the boat and into the water. I do the same. They all run out of the water and onto the shore. They waterbend the water out of their clothes. Those who are faster are running towards the tents. I am slower because of my large and thick kimono. By the time I am on the shore, almost everyone has left me. Aukaneck and Kesuk are waiting for me on shore.
"Kesuk, why don't you show Tunerk around for me?" Aukaneck suggests. Kesuk nods in agreement. Aukaneck runs off towards the tents.
"Follow me," Kesuk says. He leads me towards the tents. I begin to wonder what is so important about these tents.
They are around ten of them arranged into a circle with ground in the middle of it. The doors open into the middle. They're all a khaki brown color, pitched up with basic wooden poles. One of the tents has a metal circle hanging down from the top. A blue pair of hands forming a crescent is printed on it.
When I get to them, I notice that everyone is gathered around in large groups socializing. Everyone must have wanted to see the friends they have made while here. Kesuk stops at the tent with the insignia.
"This is the primary nursing tent. Most of these tents are nursing tents but this one is where the leaders work. You should go in to see what specific job you'll have."
I open the tent flaps and walk into a group of women healing an injured man. Their uniforms are the same as mine except everything in it is light blue. They wear badges on the right side of their cloaks which have the same insignia as the one above the tent. A wide dark blue ribbon connects the badge to a pin that attaches to their kimono. One woman's ribbon is light blue. I assume she is the leader.
"You must be the new nurse," she says. "My name is Tikivik. Come with me an I'll show you the nurse's boat." She leads me outside the tent. Kesuk has already left. I walk past the tents to the farthest boat left on the shore.
The ship looks exactly like all the others except smaller. A hand with the Water Tribe insignia in a palm is painted onto the sail. A woman tosses a rope ladder off the side of the ship. We wade into the water and climb up it.
"I trust that you will show Tunerk how to perform her duties," Tikivik says to the woman. She jumps off the boat and heads back to the tents.
"Come with me," the woman says. We walk into the door positioned underneath the top deck. The boat looks the same as ours, except that the inside rooms appear to be slightly bigger. The interior is one gigantic room filled with tables meant for healing injured soldiers. On the walls are shelves lined with water bottles and healing remedies.
"For now, your job is to be a runner, meaning that you run into battle collecting the injured soldiers and bringing them back here to be healed. Be careful though. We're the only nation with the ability to heal with our bending, which gives us a strong advantage over the other nations. Because of this, the enemy soldiers have been attacking the nurses." That must have been how Arnaka got injured. It almost scares me. Almost.
"Am I allowed to defend myself?" I ask.
"I don't see how you would since woman aren't allowed to know combat waterbending."
Even though I am grateful to be a part of this war, it still wasn't what I'd asked for. Did he make me a nurse because I'd had nursing training? Maybe. But I have other suspicions. The chief made me a nurse not because I'd had nursing training or because Malina had begged him to. He did it because he wanted me dead. And wanted no part in it.
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