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Distortion is the fourth chapter of Book 2 of MightyBrit'sand the fourteenth chapter overall. It mostly explores Wuoyan's backstory and marks the return of Child of Destiny after a long hiatus.
As before, all flashbacks are written in italics.
The Imperial Right's medical ward
Hydros stirred on his bed. He opened his eyes and immediately panicked as he saw the metal ship around him and the Fire Nation markings that adorned the room. He jumped to his feet, but instantly fell over, clutching the bloody bandages that were wrapped around his stomach and side.
He looked around and saw other Water Tribe soldiers lying injured in several beds that surrounded him, then clambered back to his feet.
A woman walked into the makeshift hospital ward. She had long orange and blue robes that flowed around her like water in a river and dark skin that glinted in the torchlight. She immediately ran over and helped him to sit on the bed.
"You're Hydros, right?" she said in a soft, friendly voice. "I'm Katara; you're with the Southern Water Tribe. I've bandaged you up as best as I could. Do you remember what happened?"
"Why bandages? This is the Southern Water Tribe, are there no healers?" asked Hydros in a husky voice that sounded like one of his lungs had collapsed.
"You don't remember... Hydros, the moon spirit was killed. We've all lost our bending completely, even our ability to heal."
The wreck of his ship flashed before his eyes. He remembered the rock face speeding towards them, the splinters flying around them, his men falling into the water and impaled by speeding pieces of wood. He remembered his friend, Han Dre, plummeting into the ocean and that dark red stain that his head left on the black rock.
Hydros screwed up his eyes as the memories stirred in his mind. "I remember... How did I get rescued? Were there any other survivors? Where are we?"
"Slow down, Hydros. You punctured a lung, so take smaller breaths. A ship that was on its way back to the South Pole after they lost their bending rescued you. They scoured the area, but there was no sign of anyone else. I'm sorry."
Hydros buried his face in his hands.
"They brought you back to the South Pole, but we were attacked. We had no other choice than to flee. This is a commandeered skyship that my brother stole from the Fire Nation. Not an ideal headquarters, but it's safe for now."
Hydros was silent and stared longingly at a cup of water that sat on a small table next to his bed.
"Are you alright?" asked Katara as softly as she could.
"The water won't move," Hydros said. "I've been bending since I was three. It's all I've ever known. In one night, I lost everything I held dear... My bending... My best friend... Everything."
"It'll be alright, Hydros. I promise."
"How is it possibly alright? We've got no bending and we're being attacked by enemies that are way beyond what we can deal with! We've got no chance in hell!"
"Please calm down, Hydros. You might tear the stitches in your side."
Hydros lay back in his bed and tried to relax.
"There are a lot of plans going around. We're not as powerless as you think we are," Katara said, laying an affectionate hand on his shoulder. "I have to go and talk to my father, but please call if you need anything."
Hydros felt his eyes water and he turned away from Katara. "Okay. Thank you."
The Imperial Right's war room
"How's our patient?" asked Hakoda as he sat around the war table at the top of the skyship. Behind him, Suki turned the wheel to steer the massive skyship towards the North Pole.
Katara sat down next to her brother around the war table. "He's finally awake, but he's very distressed. I'm having Gran-Gran keep an eye on him; I'm worried he might go off the rails."
"We met Hydros a couple weeks ago. He'd gotten really close with the ambassador from the Fire Nation," added Sokka.
"Han Dre," confirmed Katara. "He died out there on that shipwreck."
"That's got to suck." Sokka bowed his head low.
Everyone was silent for a short while as everyone was unsure of what to say. Eventually, Katara broke the quiet. "Alright, Sokka. Explanation time. How on earth can one of your students waterbend?"
Hakoda shifted in his chair with interest. Sokka smiled. "Liang was born at the very instant that Zhao killed the original moon spirit. Small fragments of Tui's power survived and escaped into him. This makes him a damn good waterbender, despite the fact that he's from Ba Sing Se."
"But Yue's dead, Sokka. All waterbending is gone!"
"Yeah, not even Aang can do it anymore."
Katara's thoughts immediately strayed. "You've seen Aang? Is he alright? He's not hurt or anything?"
"He's fine, sis. He's with Zuko," Sokka comforted her before changing the subject back to Liang. "Waterbenders draw power from the moon, but Liang has a bit of the moon within him."
"So, he can draw the power he needs from himself," reasoned Hakoda.
"Exactly," said Sokka, leaning back in his chair. "He's one of the great assets we have against Zhao and while he's got the same instinctive talent that Aang did, he could still really use a teacher."
Katara nodded. "I can do that, but the patients in the ward take first priority."
"Then, teach him how to heal."
Katara nodded again and got out of her chair. She walked over, and then kissed her brother on the head. "Thank you for coming."
Sokka grabbed her hand and smiled at her. "Everything is going to be alright, Katara. I promise."
Later that day
The chamber with the war table had emptied. Katara was off teaching Liang the basics of healing with waterbending and both Sokka and Hakoda were off figuring out where to put all the boat's new residents and how to feed them all. Suki was left alone, keeping her eye on the horizon as she steadily shifted the wheel to keep them on course.
The door swung open and Wuoyan stormed in. "Both of them! Both of my bloody knives! I can't believe I lost them both!"
Suki smiled at his anger. "We're on a Fire Nation warship, Wu. They'll be plenty of knives for you to borrow."
Wuoyan slumped down on a chair, putting both his feet up on the table. "What is it with ya people? Stop callin' me bloody Wu!"
Wuoyan sighed aloud. "Dammit. I'm sorry for yellin'. I'm just... just... Dammit! I hate that shark-faced git!"
Suki smiled again, but then became serious. "You know him, don't you? From before all of this?"
Wuoyan looked up at nothing in particular. "Yeah. I do."
"Is he your father?"
"What?!" shouted a shocked Wuoyan. "No! Hell, no!"
"Sorry, I saw the way you were looking at Sokka and Hakoda earlier. Thought it might have been envy."
Wuoyan looked at her with more than a little frustration. "You an' the kid both see too much."
"You should meet Toph, she's even worse. So, are you going to tell me the story?"
"No point hidin' it anymore, I guess. But, don' go tellin' ev'ryone. 'Specially not the kid."
"I won't tell a soul."
"Alrigh' then. But, please, don' go thinkin' any less of me when I'm done..."
14 years ago; deep in the heart of the Fire Nation
The man held the baby high in his arms as his wife lit about a dozen or so candles around the darkened room with blacked out windows. The flames flickered gently and the little specks of fire shifted and leant towards the baby boy.'The baby's mother fell to her knees and wept. Her husband's face shifted into sadness and he clutched his son tightly to his chest.
"Our son is a firebender," said the woman. "What are we going to do?"
Her husband didn't have an answer. He just rubbed his eyes.
"Yano! Answer me! You know what they do with firebending children! They'll take him away from us! They'll stick in one of those accursed camps and raise him to be a mindless soldier fighting for Ozai's ridiculous regime!"
"Quiet, Ami," Yano hushed his wife. "We may not agree with this war, but we have neighbors that do. We don't want to be turned in."
Ami stopped talking and began to weep again.
"We'll hide him... No, not him; just his firebending. We'll tell everyone he can't bend. We'll just have to be careful."
"He's a child, Yano. We can't expect him to hide his powers."
"We won't teach him how to bend and make sure he never does it by accident. It will be okay, Ami. We can do this. For our son."
"Until when, Yano? He'll have to keep his bending a secret for his entire life!"
"No, just until this blasted war ends."
"It will never end, Yano... We'll be in this war forever."
Yano went and embraced his wife, their infant son clutched between them. "The Avatar will return soon, my love, and then we will free of all this..."
10 years ago
"We'll have to be extra careful this week, Ami," said Yano, looking stern as his wife played with their four year old son.
"Shaoshang's back visiting his parents across the street. His father told me he's been rapidly rising through the ranks. He's just been given command of his own airship."
"He used to be such a nice boy," Ami pondered aloud.
"Daddy! Daddy! Look what I can do!" yelped the excited infant as he made a small burst of flame spit out of his fingertip.
"No, Wu!" screamed his mother as his father ran to the windows and closed all of the curtains. "We've talked about this, Wu! You must never, ever do that! Never!"
"Lay off the boy, Ami."
"No, Yano! He's going to get caught and shipped off to some godforsaken camp where they breed nothing but murderers!" Little Wuoyan was on the verge of tears.
"Ami... Relax. The Avatar has returned! Rumor has it he's hiding in the Fire Nation as we speak! This war is almost over and then you, my boy, will be able to bend to your heart's content."
"You just said we needed to be careful!" shrieked Ami.
"I know, and we need to be. But, don't be so hard on the boy. It won't be long until we're all free of this war," said Yano, as he peeked out the curtains across the street. Shaoshang stood there, resplendent in his military uniform. Yano just caught sight of normal shaped, but blackened teeth in his mouth as he smiled at his parents.
The young officer glanced over his shoulder and Yano quickly closed the curtains.
Later that week
The carefree four-year-old played gleefully in the back yard, dancing and bouncing about like he had no cares in the world. The smiles of joy on his face were unmistakable. From inside the house, his father smiled widely at his son's happiness.
Ami was looking out the other window towards the front street, where Shaoshang was meeting with various neighbors. "When is that Shaoshang boy going back? He's been here far too long... I think he's getting suspicious."
Yano chuckled at his wife's insecurity and went to hug her tightly. "Relax, Ami. He'll be gone soon."
Their embrace was interrupted by a large whooshing sound and Wuoyan's scream. Yano and Ami ran to their garden.
Wuoyan was on his back, having tripped over himself as he played. Around him, the grass crackled as it burned and fires spread from around the young boy. Dark smoke rose from the fiery foliage.
"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to! I tripped and it just came out! I'm sorry, Dad!"
"Hush, Wuoyan. It's fine. Don't say a word."
"But, Dad, I didn't mean to!"
"I know, son. Please, not a word."
"Yano... The smoke...!" whispered Ami. She was so scared that her entire body shook and no tears came from her eyes.
"Ami. Don't speak. I'll fix this. I love you."
The front door of their house blew open as flames broke it down. Shaoshang rushed into the room, his ruby armor sparkling in the afternoon sun. Thin wisps of smoke twisted out from between his teeth like snakes rising out of a basket.
"Who was it?!" he screamed as anger flashed throughout his eyes. "I saw it! Who can firebend?!"
In the street outside, curious neighbors gathered. Shaoshang's parents shook in fear in their doorway, scared of their own son. How were they to know of his anger? They simply gave birth to him, he was raised in one of the military camps, far away from their influence.
Shaoshang pointed his finger at Wuoyan, who clutched his mother tightly as tears streamed down his face.
"Your child is a firebender, Yano! All firebending children must be reported to the proper authorities! This is treachery!"
Wuoyan opened his mouth to speak, but his mother hushed him.
"He must be taken to the camps! He can still be trained!"
"No," said Yano, in a cold, authoritative voice that made even Shaoshang stop in his tracks for a moment. "You will not be taking my son."
"Treachery!" spat Shaoshang. "All firebenders must enter the army!"
"Indeed. But, my son is not the firebender," said Yano. "I am."
The whole neighborhood gasped. Ami let out a long, sorrowful wail.
"What?! You?!" screamed Shaoshang. "Why haven't you enlisted?"
"Because this war is wrong and Ozai is a monster."
Tendrils of flame leaked out of Shaoshang's mouth as he shouted in rage. He slammed his fist as hard as he could into Yano's face, then threw him to the cold, concrete street outside.
Yano clambered to his feet, blood streaming from his broken nose. He looked back into the house and saw his wife and son, their faces wet with tears. "I love you, Wu!" he managed to shout at them, before Shaoshang's boot collided with his face.
The young Fire Nation captain leant down, grabbing Yano by the topknot in his hair. "You have no honor, coward!" he screamed, letting a burst of flame escape from his lips, burning the hair on Yano's head.
With the exhausted Yano lying beaten, broken and burnt in front of him, Shaoshang stood up. He towered over his victim and spoke to him in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear. "You will show respect to your nation and to your Fire Lord! From this point forward, you work for me. I hope you like the heat of an airship engine bay, Yano. You will be working, sleeping and eating in one until the day comes when Ozai rules all of this world."
Shaoshang turned to Ami, pointing at her with a threatening finger. "Sleep easy, Ami. If your husband truly is a firebender, he will emerge from this war as a proud warrior of the Fire Nation. If he's lying though, he will not emerge from this war at all."
Shaoshang grabbed Yano by the collar of his shirt and dragged him down the street, leaving a horrified neighborhood behind him. He turned around one last time, again speaking to Ami. "Keep little Wu safe. I'll be watching him very carefully."
"Oh, no..." whispered Suki to herself. "Your father wasn't on an airship when...?"
Wuoyan buried his face in his hands, trying not to let Suki see the tears in his eyes. "Yeah... Yeah, 'e was."
10 years ago; aboard Shaoshang's airship
Yano shoveled coal into the engine bay, thoroughly exhausted from the work. Sweat dripped down every inch of his body in the swelteringly hot compartment that he hadn't been allowed to leave in days.
In the bolted metal door, a tiny hatch existed for guards to shove food into. It was Yano's only connection to the outside world. But now, screams and shouts of panic came through it.
Yano pushed his eyes to the door. He saw one of the other airships in the fleet had drastically changed course, heading straight for them at blinding speed. "What's going on? What's happening?" he yelled through to the guard.
The guard turned around and looked at him.
"Answer me! Why is that ship heading straight for us?!"
"There was chaos in the fleet; Water Tribe rebels or something. We didn't think it was anything to worry about... But, then the rudder of that airship, the entire things just bent! It just warped and changed and forced the ship off-course!"
"That doesn't make any sense! Metalbending is impossible!"
The guard turned around again, panic in his voice. "Oh, hell... It's going to hit us! We're all going to – "
The guard was suddenly cut off and Yano heard massive explosions and creaking metal all across the ship. He turned to the engine, but the metal walls of his cell were creaking inwards, bashing the engine out of place, spilling hot coals and fire all over the floor and walls.
"I love you, Wu," he whispered to himself, just as his small dark cell was completely engulfed by the bright light of the exploding engine.
Suki had tears in his eyes now. "It was us; Sokka, Toph and me. We destroyed that fleet. We're responsible for the death of your father."
Wuoyan nodded, making no attempt to hide his wet eyes anymore. "After my father was taken, my mother became an empty thing, that just looked like my mum. Ev'ry time she called me Wu... my father's last word... she'd break down. She 'ated me for what 'appened and I ... I hated ev'ryone. Shaoshang. Ozai. You."
"And you gave up firebending completely because of what happened."
"That's the great thing abou' heat. Ya can't see it."
"I'm sorry, Wuoyan."
"No. Ah'm sorry. 'Cause that ain't the whole story. I was bitter. I wanted revenge. So, I cooked up a plan, where I learnt all I could from the people who killed my dad before takin' it."
Suki stayed silent, letting Wuoyan continue.
"But, ah can't hate you! Yer good people, who saved the whole world once already an' are still tryin' to do it again! I mean, my father, he 'ated the war and he 'ated Ozai and you guys stopped 'im! He 'ave liked you. Hell, 'e would 'ave loved ya! ... like I do..."
The silence lingered for a long time and the only sounds were from Wuoyan's tears hitting the cold, metal floor and echoing around the large room.
"What happened to your mother?"
"She's gone too. She's just couldn't do it anymore, I guess. That's when I left home, started makin' my way 'ere."
"You have a home here with us, Wuoyan. For as long as you want one."
"Thank ya," said Wuoyan, standing up, drying his eyes and composing himself. "Please don' tell anyone. 'Specially not..."
"Liang. I know, Wuoyan. I won't say a word."
Wuoyan smiled weakly and left the room, closing the door behind him with a clang.
The Jasmine Dragon, Ba Sing Se
"Miss Bei Fong," said the messenger, interrupting her conversation with Iroh.
"Jeesh, can't you see I'm busy?" said Toph, putting down her tea.
"It is okay, my young friend," reassured Iroh. "Your business is often very important."
"I know, but I hate it when they interrupt my tea!"
Iroh smiled and laid an affectionate hand on her shoulder. "Then I am afraid I am rubbing off on you."
Toph smiled at him before turning her attention to the messenger. "All right, fine. What is it, messenger boy?"
"Uh..." stuttered the messenger, taken offguard. "There is someone here to see you."
"Well, that's good, 'cause the other way round never works. Where are they?"
"I'm right here, Toph," came the familiar voice. It was calm, almost soothing, but the tone shook the normally fearless Toph to the very core. "Hello again. It's been a long time. How are you?"
"I'm well," said Toph, her regular steely sarcasm replaced with apprehension. "How are you, father?"
The whole of Child of Destiny went on hiatus between December 2010 and March 2011 due to MightyBrit moving to a new city, attending university, getting a new job and moving in with his girlfriend. Distortion marks a return to the story on MightyBrit's part, who is determined to try and get out the rest of Book 2 on a biweekly schedule.
This chapter reveals Wuoyan's backstory, something that has been planned from the very beginning of Wuoyan's creation. Numerous hints have been laid throughout the story showing a past connection between Wuoyan and Shaoshang; many of them deliberately making it appear as if Shaoshang were Wuoyan's father. A few users even guessed that Shaoshang and Wuoyan were father and son, just as MightyBrit had intended. This was, of course, a double bluff and Shaoshang is, in fact, the man responsible for his father's death.
Wuoyan's reluctance to firebend is revealed to be leftover guilt from indirectly causing the death of his father and the grief of his mother. It also reveals that Wuoyan's father was a casualty of the final battle of the war, as shown in the TV series finale, Sozin's Comet: Part 4, and that Sokka and Suki are also somewhat responsible for the death of Wuoyan's dad. Wuoyan's hidden motivations are revealed and his character is shown to have grown and developed... He is able to forgive Sokka and Suki for their part, realizing that they did what they had to.
MightyBrit also felt it was important to show that some ordinary citizens stood up against Ozai and the war, despite all of the propaganda. He also wanted to show Shaoshang's blind devotions to Ozai and his ideals and used Yano to contradict and mirror Shaoshang's character. Most of the flashbacks take place in this chapter take place during Book 3 of the TV series, as Yano mentions the Avatar is hiding in the Fire Nation as shown in the first half of Book 3.
Lao's return was done to continue the theme of fathers, as well as set up the next chapter, which entirely focuses around Toph.
I have absolutely no idea just yet. Why don't you let me know with some wonderful comments?
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Child of Destiny Chapters|
Book 1: Fear
The First Airbender - Stolen - Sharks and Sea Serpents - Asylum Seeker - The Swordmaster of Kyoshi Island - Cold Snap - Due North - Better to Have Loved and Lost - Wrath of the Blackened Blade - Water's Fall
Book 2: Anger