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|By The Bos||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from The Bos||Action||PG||Positive|
May 12, 2012
Collision Course is the ninth chapter of.
The Fugitives encounter numerous combined threats as they make their way away from the ship.
More than supplies
Tazo and Inata arrive at the ship's makeshift dock, over an hour after they had last seen the ship. As the duo approaches the ship they see a rope ladder lowered to the ground. "Convenient that we have a way up," Inata mumbles as hears the metal rungs clanking against the ship's hull.
"It's just like someone was here," Tazo lightly quips as he approaches the ship. He takes hold of the ladder and begins climbing, making it halfway to the deck before Inata began climbing as well. As Inata arrives on the deck, he sees Tazo staring at the opening to the ship's lower levels. "Keep on our guard," he says, turning his head to face Inata. "Something doesn't seem right."
"Stop being so cautious," Inata replies, brushing off his friend's concerns and walking through the door. Inata walks through the halls of the first level, Tazo following at a distance with his arms ready to strike imminent threats. "Really, let it go. No one is here," he says, turning around and lightly glaring at his partner.
"I don't know what could be here. There's no reason for me to stop. Besides, what if something is here and no one is prepared?" Tazo asks his companion.
"No one would be here. I've only been here for a few moments and I can tell that this level is used for barracks. The supplies, what we came for, would certainly be on a lower level. If anyone was on this ship, they'd be waiting down there. Just follow me and loosen up," Inata bluntly orders.
Tazo nods and drops his arms. "Fine. But if we get killed down there because you weren't cautious, then I'll hold you accountable for eternity. I hope you can enjoy the Spirit World with me constantly breathing down your neck," he snidely replies.
"It's not that much different from now," the stern Firebender responds. Shaking his head, Inata leads his friend down the final flight of stairs, stopping when they notice a light source.
"Someone is here..." Tazo whispers.
"Not necessarily," Inata replies. "All it means is that someone was here. Don't get your hopes up."
The group approaches the source of the light and Tazo takes a swift peak inside. "I don't see anyone in there."
"I told you," Inata says as he walks into the lit chamber.
"Someone get me up," a voice says out of nowhere. Startled, Inata whips his arm swiftly across his torso, creating an arc of fire that briefly brightens the room. "Don't step on me, I'm down here," the voice snaps. Tazo barges into the room and notices a man frozen to the floor near Inata's feet.
"There was someone!" the excited soldier says.
"Yes, I am here. Now get me up!" the man on the ground orders.
Tazo rushes over to help but Inata holds out his arm to stop him. "Hold on, who are you and why are you imprisoned on the ground?"
"Fine, if you won't help me without an explanation, I'll give you one. My name isand my crew noticed a Waterbender trying to cross the river. My jet ski escort was defeated and my ship went ashore to protect our main cargo, a former government official. The Waterbender and his friends came in and defeated my crew and surprised me. He left me frozen here. I would melt the ice myself but I can't seem to release the heat to do it. Now, are you going to help me or not?"
"It was them!" Tazo exclaims.
"It was who?" Ba angrily barks.
"It was a group of four soldiers we are trying to find," Inata explains as he kneels on the ground to begin helping the Captain to his feet. He places his hand on the ice and begins a cycle of inhaling and exhaling.
"That's not right. Only three were here. There was a Waterbender, an Earthbender and another who didn't perform any bending on the ship."
"Then I guess the other one remained outside," Inata dryly concludes. After a few moments of silence, Tazo began helping Inata. Seconds later, the pair succeeds in fully liberating the Captain from his icy prison.
The man curls up on the floor and begins rubbing his arms for warmth. "Thanks," he bitterly adds. The man generates a small flame between his hands and holds it close to his chest.
"Bu," Inata says, addressing the man on the floor. "If you want to get warm, perhaps you should go out into the sun instead of staying in this dank ship level."
"It's Ba, and I have a job I was supposed to do. I am to escort the former Councilman Ruon to a port to get him back to the Fire Nation. I can't just leave!" Ba snaps, indicating a dedication to his charge.
"You set off the flare, right?" Inata asks.
"Yes, I did," Ba replies. "He must remain safe. Why is the flare important?"
"Because I know for a fact that we are not the only Fire Nation soldiers in the area. The soldiers who attacked your ship are the only reason we were so close."
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"It means that eventually, more soldiers will arrive here to take care of him. Besides, why do you have to remain here to defend him? He will be fine down here if you go up to warm up."
"Hmph," Ba grunts in response.
"You'll be better equipped to defend him after being in the sun. You'll warm up and will actually be able to fight someone off," Tazo says, successfully arguing Ba into agreement.
"Fine," Ba growls as he briskly walks past the two Firebenders.
"It's getting a little cold down here, I'm going up with him," Tazo says as he begins walking to the stairs.
"I'm going to stay down here and see what Ruon thinks," Inata says as he turns towards the Councilman's room.
"Don't do anything stupid," Tazo nonchalantly says as he walks up the stairs. After his friend leaves the hallway, Inata begins looking though the adjoining rooms. After several moments of searching, he sees a gleam in an opened crate. Inata opens the box and finds a short sword, longer than a dagger yet smaller than a proper combat sword. With a grin, he walks back towards the Councilman's room.
"So when are you going to have caught your breath?" Luo asks on a whim. The pair had been sedentary for what felt like an hour, much to Luo's growing impatience.
Cren stirs from his resting state, rolling from his side to his back. "I'll be ready soon. I'm an Earthbender, I'm not built for this kind of travel. If you asked me to walk across the Earth Kingdom, I could do it. It would take me a long time, but I could do it," he says angrily with his face towards the sky. "I'm not built for chasing runaways."
"If it's your job, then you'll need to adapt," Luo responds. "I don't like this either. I'd love to just wait this out and find them that way, but things never work out that way for me."
"Relax. We'll find them eventually. We're never going to find them if we spend our time running ourselves ragged in the search. When animals hunt, it's either a brutal upfront battle or an extended stalk. We screwed up the first opportunity and so we have to wait for them to come back into our sights."
"If the predator waits in one place as its prey runs off to escape, the hunter dies. I'm leaving in half an hour. If you still need to catch your breath, you'll need to catch up to me as well," Luo says, turning his head to face his partner. "It's your choice."
"Okay, fine. I'll be ready," Cren reluctantly says.
Luo turns his head away and grins slightly. "Of course you will." The soldier stands up from his earthen seat and stretches out his back. In an instant, as if noticing something profound, the Earthbender flexes his foot on the ground and widens his eyes. He gently slides his feet across the ground, confirming his suspicions. "I feel something."
"Are you sorry for being mean to me?" Cren jokingly says, sitting up and looking at Luo, who responds with a dark glare.
"I feel people walking towards here."
"What are you talking about? Have you gone crazy from exhaustion?" Cren asks, his face scrunched up in a perplexed manor.
"I have found out that I... that-" he says and, clearly pressed for time, decides to give up. "I'll explain later. Hide yourself!" he orders sternly yet quietly. Luo crouches down and raises an earth tent around Cren and another around himself. "And for now, we'll wait," he whispers to himself.
While wandering through the forest, Kuan lets out a sigh. "Why did you get those swords again Shenji? That annoying sound is going to drive me mad."
"I was almost entirely useless in the last battle. I need something that gives me more reach and the swords were there. The sound may be annoying but if it saves our lives at some point, doesn't it make more sense?"
"Yeah, but couldn't you have picked a quieter weapon?"
"I'll just magically learn Waterbending so I'll be quieter with my weapon transport," Shenji jabs back.
"It's probably good that he has the weapon, Kuan," Kuro adds.
Kuan sighs. "I know that it's good. Every step is another clink. His hammers were okay but these swords are going to split my head..." he says as he walks around a tree. "You could just find a way to keep them quieter."
"And how do you suppose I do that?" Shenji asks, leading Kuan on.
"Trust me, if I had an idea, I'd have done it already," Kuan replies quickly as he walks into the clearing up ahead. The three walk through the clearing for a few seconds before realizing that there are two smoothed, unnatural rocks at the far end of the field. "What are those?" Kuan asks, squinting in an attempt to see farther though remaining stationary.
"I don't know, but I think it's something from an Earthbender. Two rocks like that wouldn't just appear in the middle of a field," Shenji says, perplexed by the strange landscape.
"That's an earth tent," Kuro interjects. "Earthbenders are taught to make them as part of basic military training. Either these are soldiers or horribly lost campers."
"Well, we're safe either way. If they are soldiers, then we may be able to convince them to join us. If they're kids, we can have them go home," Shenji responds.
"I'm not so sure," Kuan notes. Crouching down, the Waterbender approaches the earthen structures to inspect them from a better position. After exchanging a swift glance, Shenji and Kuro follow at a distance. As Kuan reaches the farthest earth tent, a moving fissure erupts from the other. The attack quickly reaches Kuro and results in an earth column striking him in the chest. The Earthbender is thrust into the air and lands sprawled on the ground, uncertain as to the cause. Kuan draws his water and suspends it between his hands, preparing for an attack from any angle. The earth structure behind Kuan explodes in a cloud of dust. Luo steps out of the dust cloud and moves to attack Shenji. Kuan turns and wraps his water around Luo's waist, throwing him away from the Earth Kingdom soldiers. Kuro stands up and runs towards Luo.
Recovering from his fall, Luo raises a boulder and thrusts it towards Kuro. The renegade Earthbender continues running towards the rock, smashing it into pieces around him and running through the resulting dust. The other tent, which had been ignored by the Fugitives, crumbled as well, revealing Luo's partner. Cren engages Shenji, who instinctively draws his hammers. Cren launches a volley of small rocks at Shenji, making the soldier stumble backward while blocking the dangerous projectiles. Shenji rolls out of the way, charging towards Cren at a different angle. Quickly turning, Cren launches a large rock towards Shenji who spirals out of the way and continues approaching Cren. Shenji pulls his arm back, preparing a hammer strike that would render Cren incapacitated. The Earthbender anticipates the attack and raises an earth column that strikes Shenji's wrist, knocking the hammer away. Cren raises another, striking the soldier in his chest and knocking him to the ground.
Kuro raises an earth column from the side, catching Luo off guard and knocking him to the ground. As he moves to get up, Kuro runs to begin defending the incapacitated Shenji. As Cren approaches the soldier Kuro sends a large rock into his back, shattering on impact, covering the Earthbender in dust and knocking him to the ground. Cren rolls over and sends an earth spike at his new enemy, who dives to the side to avoid the danger. When he lands, Kuro is right above Shenji's remaining hammer. The Earthbender picks up the weapon and strikes the ground, raising several small columns that knock Cren back. After standing up, Shenji picks up his remaining hammer and draws a sword, smiling as he realizes the benefits of each weapon.
Luo raises an earth wall to block ice blades that approach him with great speed. After he feels the contact on his makeshift shield, the Earthbender sends half of his wall towards the Waterbender on the other side. Sliding to his right to see beyond the wall, Luo sees Kuan running closer, having already dodged the piece of the wall. Luo, reacting reflexively, raises a rock and sends it at Kuan, hoping to strike him down before he can attack. Kuan vaults into the air, flipping over and landing atop the small rock. His weight causes the rock to fall to the ground as he prepares an attack. Kuan compresses his water between his hands, sending a small yet dense pulse of water towards Luo at a close range, ensuring that his foe had no time to react. "What did I tell you the last time we met?" Kuan asks fiercely as Luo staggers to his feet.
Cren, having just raised an earth wall, diverts his focus from the battle. "When you met?" he angrily asks over his shoulder.
"When he helped free me from prison, we met," Kuan says as he streams a jet of water towards Luo.
"I am well aware," Luo bitterly mutters as he blocks the water. "I made my choices and I will stand by them," he says, looking to Cren. "Regardless of what happened or what will happen, we are here and I will capture them. I have my mission and I will complete it," he concludes.
A third ally
Ba stands on his ship's deck staring towards the sun. "The warmth strengthens me," he mutters.
"Yeah, you're a Firebender. It does tend to do that. In fact, heat tends to warm up people," Tazo jokingly replies.
"How funny," Ba lightly replies. After deeply inhaling, the officer breaths a small amount of fire, his eye lighting up in satisfaction. "I'll be ready to protect Ruon soon."
"I don't know how much protection he needs," Tazo notes. "The people who came through didn't even have any business with him."
Before Ba responds, the door from the lower levels of the ship opens up. Inata walks onto the deck, projecting a silent demeanor instead of his usual bothered aura. Tazo notices and prepares a joke about his stoic condition, but halts when he sees the object in his partner's hand. Inata's hand is covered in partially dried blood, holding a dagger that was dripping the same blood. "What is that?" Tazo blurts out.
Tossing the dagger onto the ship's deck, Inata shakes his head. "Apparently those soldiers had some business downstairs." Ba remains speechless, his eyes fixated upon the bloody instrument of death. "The victim was stabbed in the heart," Inata reports. "He didn't have a chance."
Ba collapses onto his knees. "How could I have failed on my mission?" he asks in shock. His face contorts into a dark scowl and he begins expressing his anger. "How could this have happened? They said that they weren't going to harm him!"
"He was clearly dead when I found him," Inata replies. "The scene is brutal; blood everywhere. They did a messy job, but he is no more."
"I will not be made a fool of," Ba announces, angrily rising from his crouched position. "Where will they be?" the infuriated Captain asks between deep breaths.
"They went that way," Tazo replies, pointing upstream towards the woods.
"I will kill them for this affront." Still seething with anger, Ba turns and begins descending the rope ladder on the side of the ship. Inata follows and nods for Tazo to do the same. When the two soldiers reach the bottom, Ba has already entered the forest, walking at a brisk pace in order to find his enemies.
Inata motions for Tazo to go no further when they reach the bottom. He kneels down and washes the blood from his hand in the river, sighing as he wipes the stain from his skin. "What was down there?" Tazo asks.
"The invaders killed a soldier in their attack. I went around to each one and checked. One had a crack in his armor where something fractured the metal plating. Some of his armor pierced his lung, apparently, since he wasn't breathing. I tried rousing him, but it didn't work. Since he was already dead, I stabbed his chest. That's where the blood and dagger came from," he replies with a smile.
"Ruon isn't dead?" Tazo whispers in shock.
"No, he isn't. He's going to be safe. Other saw the flare and will arrive soon to secure him. But now we have a new weapon. At the very least he will distract one of the soldiers so we can have a clear shot at the other two."
"You're going to use him?" Tazo asks.
"He clearly is of no use here. Now let's go before we lose him," Inata replies while accelerating. Tazo soon follows, getting back within the angry Captain's earshot.
Luo steps out from behind his wall and sends an earth spike towards Kuan. The Waterbender slides back and pulls the water in front of the rock, breaking off the sharp tip of the attack. Kuan then jumps into the air, pressing his foot on the now flattened point of the rock and pushing off, vaulting backwards and landing safely on the ground, crouched down and supported by one arm. Quickly rising to his feet, Kuan pulls water from behind Luo, jetting the Earthbender into his own earth wall. As Kuan watches from afar, Luo slumps to the ground.
Shenji charges at Cren, who remained stationary while seething with anger. His first strike is a sword slash followed by a swing of his hammer, but Cren dodges each strike. He raises a short earth block in between him and the hammer, blocking Shenji's attack and halting his offensive. As Shenji recoils from the shock, Cren raises a column under the soldier's feet, flipping him into the air and back onto the ground. Kuro softens the ground and moves to attack his opposing Earthbender. Cren launches several rocks towards Kuro, who blocks them all while moving in towards his foe. After sending a final projectile, Cren leans down and lifts a large rock from directly in front of him into the air. Bringing his arms back, a smirk crosses Cren's face. He forces the rock forward at an upward angle, intent on striking Kuro's face. Seeing the attack coming, Kuro bends his rear knee and thrusts his other, ducking and creating a diagonal column of earth that moves towards Cren. The column connects, toppling Cren to the ground.
Shenji gets to his feet, jostled from his fall, and picks up his sword and hammer. "Nice one Kuro," he says when he sees Cren on the ground. Kuan walks over, looking at Cren's body.
"Are we ready to go?" the Waterbender asks sarcastically.
"Kuan's right. We need to leave as soon as possible," Kuro decides. "Thanks for the hammer, by the way," Kuro jokingly says, thanking Shenji for dropping it.
"It's good you picked it up. For getting to use it, you can carry it for a while," Shenji jokes.
As group begins leaving, Cren quietly rises to his feet. He sees the group walking away from him, their backs facing him. He raises a rock from the ground and brings it several feet in the air. He silently strikes the rock, sending it speeding towards Kuro's back. Before the blast connects, a fire blast, coming from behind Cren, strikes the projectile at an angle, shattering the rock in a cloud of dust. The Fugitives turn around quickly and see Cren standing in shock about the destroyed attack. The group's focus shifts to their another side of the field, seeing a Fire Nation soldier charging into the fray, followed by two more a distance back. The Fire Nation soldier launches a blast towards the Fugitives with a deep yell. Kuro reacts quickly, blocking the blast with a thick earth wall before the attack hits its target.
Luo gets up from his earlier battle, shocked by the new scene. "What is happening?" he yells when he sees the fire blasts strike the rock.
"Why don't you tell me?" Cren yells, deciding to attack the Firebender as well. He punches the ground, sending a column of earth moving towards the first Firebender.
He swiftly dodges, turning his face to reveal his eye patch. "I saw that coming," he cruelly replies. By this point, his companions arrive behind him.
"What are you doing here?" Luo asks, walking towards the new group.
"I am here for revenge," Ba snaps, jerking his head towards the Earthbender.
"Yeah, I'll agree with that," Tazo says, walking to the forefront.
From the back, Inata scoffs at the group. "I'm just here doing my job."
The groups become tense; no one wishes to make the first move. Shenji begins scanning over the enemies he knows will attack him soon. In his peripheral vision, he sees Kuro and Kuan doing the same. Shenji's head begins moving in the other direction, stopping at Cren's face. Cren stares at the new people with fury, angry at more than just the Firebenders. The Earth Kingdom soldiers were not the only warriors making battle plans. Ba looks around at his foes and immediately makes a realization: A non-bender would be most likely to use a stabbing weapon. A burning fury develops within Ba, heating the air around him. Tazo and Inata, who were standing nearby, recognize that Ba is preparing an attack and spring forward in an attack themselves. Looking to each other quickly, they both decide on a single target. They both launch fire blasts towards Kuro, who is looking away at the time. Luo notices the blasts and smashes his foot into the ground, raising a thick wall to block the fire attacks and save Kuro. The attacked Earthbender, now alerted to his danger, begins launching rocks at the two Firebenders. Ba moves on his gut feeling, sprinting towards Shenji while launching a volley of fire at the non-bender. Shenji rolls to his side, getting back up and slashing his sword at the Firebender. Ba leans back, losing his balance and falling to the ground. Shenji moves to stab his foe, but hesitates as he brings the blade back. Ba uses the opportunity to work his way back to his feet, creating a ring of fire around him as he rises. Shenji stumbles back, unable to block the fire approaching him. As the ring gets larger, the flames dissipate, eventually fading into the air and revealing Ba standing behind inhaling deeply.
"You dare kill a defenseless official?" Ba screams, channeling his anger into a fire ball he creates between his hands.
"I haven't killed anyone!" Shenji responds. Ba's face tenses up, his expression indicating further provocation. He raises the fire ball in the palm of his hand and thrusts his arm forward, sending a massive blast of fire at Shenji's torso. Shenji rolls out of the way, turning his head to watch the blast move further across the field.
Luo and Kuro are locked in battle against Tazo and Inata, with fire blasts and boulders moving between the two pairs. Luo ducks under a fire blast and raises a rock the size of his foe's head. He launches the stone towards Inata, who sends a fire blast at the attack. The stone is deflected, moving closer to Kuro. Rooting himself into the ground, Kuro pushes the rock towards Tazo, who was preparing to attack Luo. Tazo doesn't see the attack coming in time and is struck in the right side of his torso. The fire around him fades, giving Luo and Cren time to focus attacks on Inata. Each Earthbender shoots several volleys of rocks towards Inata, who stumbles backwards while deflecting the rocks with fire. After deflecting a particularly forceful rock, Inata flips backwards and forms a powerful fire wall in front of him, vaporizing the small stones that are assaulting him. Inata pushes the flames forward, halting the Earthbenders' advance. Inata moves forward, dividing the fire wall and sending it as separate blasts towards the two Earthbenders.
Kuro rolls out of the way just in time, feeling the heat near his face as he looks towards Inata. Luo is not quite as quick; knowing that he won't be able to avoid the attack he stomps the ground, raising a thick wall of rock a foot taller than he is. He ducks down, feeling the heat moving around the sides of the barrier. When the blast faded, Luo moves from behind the structure and sends a boulder towards Inata. As the rock approaches, a fire blast from the side deflects the stone. Tazo moves to attack Luo after the Earthbender's attack was no longer a threat to Inata, sending a fire stream towards his enemy. Luo raises an earth wall, blocking the attack, and kicks into the ground, sending a fissure under the flames towards the Firebender. Tazo loses his balance and stops the blast, stumbling back while bracing himself. Kuro, despite being occupied by battling Inata, raises an earth column that strikes Tazo from the side, knocking him into a tree.
Inata takes advantage of Kuro's distraction, creating small fire balls in his hands and drawing them to the sides of his hips. After a momentary charge Inata launches the fire forward as a condensed attack. Kuro raises an earth wall to block, but the attack proved too powerful to stop from a close distance. The resulting contact creates a large cloud of dust, obscuring the view of the Earthbender and his defense. When the air clears, Kuro is lying on the ground covered in small fragments of the rock wall he raised moments before. Before Inata can finish Kuro, Luo engages the Firebender.
When Inata and Tazo began fighting, Kuan and Cren had remained stunned, standing idly by and watching as fire and stone flew through the air. After a few moments, Cren looks to his left and sees Kuan staring in another direction. Cren thrusts his hand into the ground, sending a rock column towards Kuan. The Waterbender hears the attack coming and brings his arms up in defense. The rock strikes his arms, knocking him to the ground. Kuan rolls over, landing on his hands and knees, preparing for a retaliation strike. He lifts his hands and quickly brings them to his right, pulling water out of the plants and knocking Cren off his feet. As he hits the ground, Cren channels the force into the ground, raising a platform under Kuan. Kuan is knocked off his knees and onto his back, leaving both benders in the same position. The two rise up to their feet quickly, glaring at each other before preparing another strike.
Kuan runs forward, leaping into the air while drawing water from the ground. While he rises in the air, Cren sends a volley of small stones at the Waterbender, hoping to send him crashing to his doom. Kuan uses the water in a swift slash, splitting all rocks approaching him while providing the assassin with more momentum for his strike. Kuan redirects the water around his body and forces it towards Cren as a pressurized jet. Cren raises an earth wall, but is too slow to have raised the slab before the water passes by. Cren is knocked to the ground, landing on his back before flipping to his chest. Kuan runs around the earth wall, drawing water from his pouch and widening it as he approaches Cren, intending to freeze him to the ground. Cren looks, sees his foe approaching, and makes a quick decision. Cren rises to his knees and thrusts his hands into the ground. Kuan slows his running to gauge his needed response. Cren pulls his arms back quickly, breaking off the earth that he raised moments earlier and accelerating it towards Kuan's back. In the meantime, the Earthbender rises to his feet, kicks up several small stones and launches them quickly towards Kuan. The Waterbender easily deflects the diversion rocks but sees the shadows shifting behind him. Turning around quickly, he sees the massive stone column approaching him. Kuan freezes what water he had into an ice block in front of him, thick enough to be able to take a hit but covering as much area as possible. Kuan braces himself as the stone collides with the rock, dislodging his feet and hurling him into the air. The Waterbender is knocked past Cren, landing on his back and sliding in the dirt. Cren turns and prepares another strike, lifting a stone from the ground on his left. Kuan raises his arm quickly, lifting the shattered ice from the ground behind Cren and pelting the back of his head. Cren stumbles forward and drops his stone before falling to his knees. Kuan rises to his feet, holding his back and regaining his balance. Cren shortly follows, squinting and rubbing the back of his head.
Inata stumbles backwards after reestablishing his stability. Luo jumps into the air and thrusts his feet into the ground while spreading his arms, quickly bringing them back towards his chest. Earth ridges begin converging towards Inata, who has no method to stop the attacks. As the attacks close in on the Firebender, he decides on a bold strategy. Jumping over the incoming ridges, Inata passes the incoming attacks and sends a wide fire blast towards Luo. The Earthbender, not having enough time to dodge such an encompassing attack, crouches onto the ground while sinking his hands into the earth. Rocks from the surrounding ground cling to his body, covering any area that was in danger of being scorched. When the fire fades, Luo rises from the ground, covered from head to toe in stone scales.
Inata takes a step back, uncertain as to what course of action to take. Luo quickly assumes a stance and throws a few punches into the air, sending the stones that were covering his hands towards Inata as high-velocity projectiles. Inata manages to shoot several rocks out of his way, but is unable to stop them all. The rocks that do connect lack the momentum to cause serious damage, but each connection further distracts Inata from stopping the oncoming blasts. As Luo uses more stones, the rocks around the rest of his body shift towards his arms, unmasking his face and migrating from his legs. Eventually, Inata realizes that there are too many attacks for him to focus on at a time and raises his hands to cover his face, hoping to endure the attacks until a better opportunity arises.
Meanwhile, Kuan freezes water into ice, sending the rigid fluid towards his enemy. Cren retaliates with a rock of the same size, stopping the ice in midair. As the solid blocks hit the ground, Kuan melts the ice, forming it into spikes and resolidifying it. Cren takes a few steps back and raises a defensive wall. Kuan allows a few ice spikes to contact the wall, fooling Cren into thinking the attack was blocked. Kuan sweeps his leg up and quickly back down, sending the final spike over the wall. The ice melts as it passes over the wall, molding itself around Cren's left arm. The force of the attack pulls the Earthbender back, freezing and binding his arm to a tree. Kuan runs around the rock shield, finding his opponent's arm immobile but the rest of him ready to fight. Cren uses his arm and legs to send several earth columns towards Kuan, who seamlessly dodges the crude attacks. Raising water out of the grass in before him, Kuan slices through the rising earth in front of him, stopping the attack before it makes contact. The water continues on, trapping Cren's right wrist and freezing it to the tree directly below his left. Kuan stops his attacks momentarily, briefly taking in the sight of Cren futilely struggling against his bindings.
"Let me go!" Cren yells, trying to jerk his head free.
"That ice will keep you there for a long time. You seem like you could use a few moments for reflection," Kuan says while glaring towards his defeated foe. "Use them wisely." After completing his battle, Kuan turns and sees Luo in battle against Inata. Hoping to ensure victory against the Fire Nation, Kuan begins condensing water from the surrounding area. He continues moving around the battlefield, moving behind Inata in hopes of securing an ambush strike.
After a lengthy period of attacking his enemy, Luo begins running low on accessible stones. The Earthbender makes the attacks more sporadic but increases their power, hoping to defeat Inata while he is on the defensive. As Luo sends a stone towards Inata, the Firebender swats the attack down and sends a blast at Luo's torso. The Earthbender dodges by sliding to the side and begins his retaliation. Luo raises a rock from the ground and hovers it in front of his body. Inata sees the attack coming and launches a powerful fire blast at the levitating stone, knocking the Earthbender's attack into him. Luo is knocked to the ground, sprawling him onto his back with Inata approaching quickly. Luo looks up and sees Inata charging a fire blast in his hand while walking closer to him, but sees a moving figure behind him. Luo slowly relaxes his body and shuts his eyes, feigning unconsciousness and hoping that Inata will not get the chance to strike him.
When Inata sees his opponent pass out he slows his pace. Inata condenses his flames into one hand, preparing for an execution. Without realizing his danger Inata's head is suddenly encased in ice. The flames in his palm vanish in his shock; when he turns to see what happened, Kuan bends the ice around his head and slams Inata into the ground, head first. The ice around his head shatters, but the Firebender lays sprawled on the ground, defeated. After he ensures that Inata is no longer a threat, Kuan moves and brushes the rocks off Kuro's body. As he crouches down he looks over and sees another battle going on, but realizes Kuro's health is more urgent.
Ba steps forward and launches a jet of fire from his palm. Shenji ducks and stabs his blade towards Ba's body. Ba rotates to dodge and creates a flame between his hands, preventing Shenji from mounting another direct offensive. The soldier steps back to avoid the fire. While moving backwards, he stumbles and falls onto his back, leaving him defenseless. Ba condenses his flames into his hand and moves to strike Shenji. While on the ground, Shenji throws his hammer through the fire, giving him a chance to strike. The hammer picked up heat while passing through the fire, singeing and cracking Ba's armor The strike has the additional effect of disrupting Ba's flame and knocking him off balance. Shenji gets up and picks up his hammer, swinging his sword to push Ba back further. When Ba stabilizes himself, he angrily charges a blast while glaring at Shenji. When he thrusts his arm forward, the fire follows swiftly towards the nimble soldier.
Shenji ducks under a fire blast and takes a few steps closer to Ba. He sidesteps another fire blast and strikes Ba's side with his hammer. After a loud crack Ba stumbles back, clutching his side and glaring at Shenji. The Captain begins launching fire towards Shenji at a close range, forcing Shenji on the defensive once more. Shenji consistently dodges Ba's strikes despite the close range, moving in a circle and staying as close as possible to the crack in Ba's armor.
Shenji develops a plan of attack, utilizing both his sword and his hammer. The soldier plans to distract Ba with his sword and knock him out with his hammer. When Ba lifts his leg and creates a vertical arc of fire, Shenji sees his chance. The soldier steps back and spins while readying his sword for its strike. Shenji swipes the blade fiercely and raises his hammer in preparation for the final blow. When he completes his swipe, however, he is shocked to see the result of his attack. Blood is dripping out of Ba's neck from a deep slash, his eye wide with pain. He attempts to retaliate with a fire blast, but only a small spark flashes in his hand. As he struggles to breath he stumbles closer to Shenji, who remains mortified by his unintentional action. Ba falls onto Shenji, still intending to kill his enemy, but begins falling into unconsciousness.
After determining that Kuro was safe, Kuan turns to see Shenji in a state of shock. The dying Ba lay against Shenji, who collapses to his knees under the sudden weight increase. Kuro stirs slightly, letting Kuan know he is okay. The Waterbender runs over towards his ally, using water to knock the barely breathing Ba to the ground. Shenji remains on his knees, his clothes bloodstained. "Let's go, Shenji," Kuan calmly orders. Still mortified, Shenji remains in place. "Move," Kuan reiterates, grabbing Shenji's shoulder and pulling the soldier to his feet. Shenji seems to snap out of the fit and nods in agreement. He slowly puts away his weapons and consents to leaving.
The two solemnly walk towards Kuro, who was sitting up, stretching and acclimating himself to consciousness again. When he sees Kuan and Shenji walking towards him, he staggers to his feet and the three leave the battlefield together in silence.
After an extended period, Luo rises from his false defeat. From a distance, he hears a loud voice. "Now that you're awake, come free me!" Cren orders from his frozen prison.
Luo walks towards Cren, who glares at the free Earthbender. Using stone, Luo shatters the melting ice. As Cren brushes the remaining ice off his body, Luo begins searching for clarity. "Which way did they go?" Luo asks. When Cren was free of ice, he takes off running, ignoring Luo. Luo sighs and takes off behind Cren, leaving the Firebenders behind.
The chapter was the culmination of the final setup events required of the series. Collision Course was originally intended to be the seventh chapter of Mysteries of My Past, encapsulating the events of the chapters "," " ," and "Collision Course" along with further follow up scenes. The Bos eventually decided to "The Yu River" from "Crossroads" before the chapter got out of hand, but the chapter continued growing. For believability, The Bos needed to ensure that certain events occurred at the same time and in precise succession, resulting in the extended plotline.
- Kuan freezing water around Inata's head and knocking him out was
obviouslyinspired by the battle against the Triple Threat Triad in The Legend of Korra.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
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