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Sunlight
Eavesdropping
Chapter information
Series

The Road that Never Ends

Book

1

Chapter

12

Written by

Krazykid51

Release date

January 8, 2012

Chronology
Last chapter

Nighttime Stay, Part 2

Next chapter

Unknown

Time and coordinates

Setting: Northwest Earth Kingdom; scattered forests and plains

Time: 8:00 PM

Plot

A little girl around Mako's age sat on the floor of a well-decorated home. Her mother stood next to her, wondering what she should say to break the awkward silence. The woman crouched down to be at eye level with her daughter.

"How are you liking the new house?" she asked with a timid smile.

The child wrapped her arms around her legs and buried her face in her knees. With a slightly muffled voice, she sighed, "Why did we have to move to the Earth Kingdom? There aren't any other Fire Nation kids here, and none of the Earthbender kids like me. Even if they do, their parents won't let me go near them!"

"Rana," her mother crooned, "you know your father is a major supervisor in the Colony Campaign. Those soldiers wouldn't have a clue what to do without him bossing them around!"

"And that's another thing," Rana said, suddenly on her feet and running toward a door. She pushed it open and scampered inside. Her mother stood back up with a perfect, almost royal posture, and strutted in the child's wake. Once they had both entered the room, the two of them took their seats at the dining table. "Why couldn't dad just keep his job back at home?"

"First of all," the mother said sternly, "this is your home. It will be until at least the end of the year. Second, your father has orders that he has to follow through on. He wouldn't be able to do that sitting at a desk in the Fire Nation."

Rana asked curiously, "What kind of orders are they, anyway?"

Rana's mother stiffened slightly. For just a moment, she bit her lower lip. "Mom? Are you okay?"

"I- I'm fine," she answered with a stutter, her face returning to normal. "The orders your father has been given are no concern of yours. At a time like this, Rana, we can't be thinking about ourselves. The foul world we live in is ignorant to the Fire Nation's immeasurable wisdom and knowledge. The other nations-"

"Why- Why don't the Earthbenders like us?" Rana interjected shyly.

Her mother cocked her head, brows furrowed. "Who said they didn't like us? Was it those Earthbender children?" The mother took Naomi's hands in her own. She began to frown. The woman's voice dropped to a whisper. "If you step outside, you'll see two bodyguards, one on each side of the door. If you take them to whoever was being mean to you, I promise, they'll be punished."

Rana's jaw dropped. "Um... The Earthbenders never said they didn't like us, mom." The girl looked her mother straight in the eye. "They didn't have to."

Rana felt her mother's grip tighten around her small fists. "I'm sorry, honey," she said comfortingly, "no one should have to know those kinds of things so young." Her mother's face grew serious. "Certain people, bad people, they don't see the wonders the Fire Nation could do for them. Right now, the other nations are being caught a little off guard by this colonization of the Earth Kingdom, which your father happens to be the leader of on the northwest coast. But that will come to pass! Soon they'll see the error of their ways, and when they do, we'll be waiting."

"Waiting for what, mom?"

An evil, psychotic grin broke out across the mother's face, and she didn't even try to hide it. "I'll just say this: The weak do not deserve a place in a world ruled by Fire Lord Sozin, or any other Fire Lord for that matter. Remember that in the coming months; if you don't, you may question the Fire Nation's judgment. And we can't have that at all."

Rana grew puzzled. She giggled and said, "Fire Lord Sozin doesn't rule the world. No one does."

Rana's mother smiled and whispered, "Not yet."

"That's enough disclosure of the Fire Nation's top-secret plans to your twelve-year-old daughter, wouldn't you say, Nokia?" Rana and her mother turned their heads to see a man dressed in full Fire Nation soldier attire, minus the helmet, which he held under his right arm.

"Uncle Jee!" Rana squealed, jumping off of her chair. Her uncle walked up to her and gave her a hug, which may've hurt considering how he was wearing all of that pointy armor.

"I'm sorry, Rana," he said sadly, "but I don't have much time today. Actually, I shouldn't even be here right now. Someone else was sent to do this, but I volunteered to take his place." Jee took a deep, uncomfortable breath. "Nokia, I'm afraid I have bad news. Could I talk to you in the living room for a minute?"

The mother stared blankly into nowhere, as though she knew something horrible was about to happen. Or maybe it already had? "Certainly," she answered, getting to her feet.

Jee walked back through the kitchen door. Nokia, her eyes suddenly full of sorrow, followed after him. Even with her pensive face, her posture remained unaffected by whatever was causing her grief. The door swung shut and all was silent.

Geez, Rana thought nervously, When did mom start going crazy? She's talking just like my teachers! The child started boredly pacing around and around the kitchen floor, over and over again.

The day was ending fast outside. The beautiful, brightly-colored sky quickly changed colors, from yellow, to orange, to a darkening red. You could have called that sky anything you wanted to: gorgeous, lovely, romantic. No matter what you believed it was, that blood red color was anything but pretty; truthfully, it was just plain creepy.

A window nearly the length and width of the wall itself displayed the "angelic" scene like a painting brought to life. Rana got right up to it and stared out as the sun slowly set.

A tall hill with a single tree stood in the distance, the last bit of daylight disappearing behind it.

Rana's mind drifted to other thoughts. The sun fell one inch. The girl's eyelids began to droop. Another inch. Rana sat down, her back lying against the window. Another inch. Another. A few seconds later, only the tip of the mass could be seen.

The dark red sky had shifted to a charcoal black, almost as if the shining stars had pushed the ugly colors right out of the sky. Finally, the sun had set. The moon was up. Rana had quietly nodded off, now lying curled up on the floor. Everything was peaceful.

Then came the devastating, high-pitched scream, a wail that could have driven anyone to tears. Rana awoke with a start, her heart pounding. A woman's voice, one Rana knew well, that was blithering nonsensical words made the child's stomach curl. The sound of sobbing and gasping and a person falling to the ground in agony could be heard from right through that kitchen door.

Rana tiptoed to the door, opened it slightly, and peeked inside.

Her mother was on the floor, clutching the carpet and screaming at nothing. Jee was next to her, patting her back. Naomi's eyes widened in fear, wondering what could have made her calm, collected mother fall into this state.

"Nokia," Jee whispered, trying to calm her down. "Do you want your daughter to see you like this? She's probably still in the other room! I don't care how much you're grieving on the inside, but if Rana saw you like this, I don't know what she'd do!"

Nokia looked up and attempted to keep herself from sobbing, but it was no use. She continued to cry, but at least now she didn't look like she had gone mental.

"What do you expect me to do?" asked Nokia sarcastically, rubbing her eyes and using all of her strength to sit upright. Jee put his arm around her shoulders. "My husband, your brother, just died, and you want me to be just like I usually am?"

Rana took in a large breath and held it. It was the only way she could keep herself from crying, from doing exactly what her mother was doing now.

"Oh wait," Nokia said bitterly, "even worse, he was killed! He was killed by some coward who couldn't even face him! What was it that you told me, hm? Please, explain to me how Kaize managed to die like that!" Rana couldn't hold it in any longer and wept.

"There's no reason for you to hear those kinds of details," Jee whispered, his impatience steadily rising.

"I'm his wife," Nokia responded, "or I was, I should say. I think I have a right to know."

Jee sighed and started, "Kaize was writing a letter to Fire Lord Sozin about how well the takeover is going. He had four bodyguards lined up outside of his tent. One way or another, they were all killed. The assassin disguised himself with a Fire Nation uniform, or that's the only reason we can see for why one of the soldier's was missing his armor. He probably waltzed right in and killed him on the spot. During the commotion, nearly all of the Earthbenders got away."

Nokia looked down and covered her face in her hands. "Tell me," she whispered mournfully, "how bad was it? In what way was he... how was he murdered?"

"You don't want to know that-"

"Either shut up or tell me how the hell he was killed!" Nokia bellowed, the sobs quickly returning. Rana brushed the tears out of her eyes and listened.

"He... he was stabbed in the chest by an unidentifiable weapon. There is a perfectly round hole that goes straight through his heart. The only thing we can guess is that one of the Earthbenders took a rock and shot it through him."

"That doesn't make any sense," Nokia growled. Rana was thinking the same thing her mother was. "How did it get through his armor?"

Jee responded despairingly, "When he was shot by, by whatever it was... he wasn't wearing his armor."

Nokia looked up at her stepbrother and whispered, "Say it again."

"I'm not going to-"

"Dammit, why the hell would he not wear his armor?!" Rana almost couldn't bear to listen anymore, but knew that if she didn't hear it now, she would never hear it at all. Her mother would surely tell her that he died peacefully in his sleep or something else that doesn't make any sense. Rana needed to hear the whole story.

"I have one thing to say to you," Jee whispered. "Your husband died doing what he was sent here to do. Don't you see? I loved him too! But I know that the Fire Lord's plans have to succeed, and sacrifices must be made for that to happen! Without those sacrifices, the Fire Lord's plan for world conquest won't ever become a reality! Kaize was able to play one of the most crucial roles in the Fire Lord's master plan, but taking over the northeast coast of the Earth Kingdom is just the beginning! You know what will happen in a few months!" Rana's ears perked up. For just a moment, she forgot about her father as she remembered what her mother had said about something happening a few months from now. She listened closely, removing the thought of her father's death from her mind.

Jee went on a rant about the Fire Nation's horrible, destructive plans. He spoke of many things: An invasion that cannot be stopped, a massacre that will never be foreseen, and the weak being destroyed by the strong.

And now Rana knew. She knew something that no one but the Fire Nation military knew. She knew more than Yin, she knew more than Mako, and she knew more even than Lee. Sure, Lee knew when it would happen, but not where or to whom. Naomi, however, knew it all. And the worst thing about it is that the one person who found it all out was from the Fire Nation.

Either way, her mother's conversation with her uncle told her something that Lee had discovered long ago: The Fire Nation was out of control. The Fire Nation was evil. The Fire Nation was crazy. Corrupt, destructive, too powerful for its own good. The Fire Nation was doing everything but spreading its "wisdom and knowledge"; in fact, it was doing quite the opposite.

Rana backed away from the door. It would seem that Jee's speech had cheered up the grieving widow. The woman was walking toward the kitchen door, ready to tell her daughter how her father had died with honor and dignity. But Rana would not hear it. She ran in a daze through the back door, not knowing why she was doing it. She could not explain why she was suddenly afraid of her own mother. She could not explain why she was bursting with joy at her father's death! But she knew one thing, and one thing only: She had to leave. Now.


Two people were chasing Rana, sprinting around tree after tree. The sky was still dark, the stars still shone, and the moon loomed in isolation above. Rana realized who she was trying to get away from, but her feelings about her mother had not changed. She now felt the same way about her uncle, too. She was in trouble now, though; there was no way she would be able to get away! She was too young, too small, and could easily be outrun.

Rana was not being careful enough. She tripped on a tree branch and fell to the ground, seemingly defeated. When her pursuers had almost caught up with her, a shadowed figure jumped out from behind a tree and tackled them both.

Rana sat up, paralyzed with fear. She could not move. All she could do now was watch the fight unfold.

The shadowed figure grabbed a spear that seemed to have been lying on the ground next to him. He got to his feet with the same speed as his opponents. One of them came at him first, blasting fire at him in quick, successive bursts. The figure simply weaved around them, soon getting within close enough range of his foe to strike. The figure went in for the kill, thrusting the spear in the direction of his neck. Before it made contact, the other person kicked the weapon out of the figure's hand and punched him in the gut.

After getting back to his feet, the figure bent some water from an unseen source and turned it into multiple shards of ice. Before the second opponent had a chance to attack, he swung his arm in her direction; the icicles flew into her flesh like broken pieces of glass. As the light of the moon reflected on the woman's now sparkling skin, every icicle could be clearly seen protruding from her body: Many pieces were scattered across her stomach, chest, and face. She began to cough and fell to her knees, blood spewing from her mouth.

"That's my... mother..." Teardrops flowed down the conflicted child's face as she fainted in total exhaustion.


When Rana woke up the next morning, the sun was already high in the sky. She heard a fire crackling near her. The noise of a stream in the distance soothed her jitters. She sat up and looked to her left. A man sat there, healing some burn marks on his hands, arms, and legs with his Waterbending. With his other hand, he poked the fire to make it grow larger. The remains of unrecognizable items burned inside of it.

"You were being chased last night," the man said, bending some water out of the sack around his waist. He transferred the liquid into a canteen and handed the canteen to Rana. "They were chasing you, so I tried to defeat them without killing them. It didn't work out that way."

Rana sipped the water and asked, "Were there two people, one man and one woman, who were able to Firebend?"

"Yeah," the man answered. "Why do you ask? You were being chased by them, shouldn't you have already known who they were?"

"I don't remember much from last night," Rana responded. "But I was able to guess it was them." It was quiet for a minute. "My name's Rana. What's yours?"

"I'm Kato," the man answered warmly. "I'm from the Southern Water Tribe. Right now, I'm searching for some people from the Fire Nation." Kato held up Lee and Mako's wanted poster, which was by now very crumpled up. "I doubt it, but have you ever seen these guys?"

"No," Rana said after looking at the poster for just a second. "I never met them personally. My parents are-" The girl stopped herself. "Were friends with their parents, though. I saw paintings of them when I visited their house once."

The things that were burning inside of the fire had finally disintegrated. "So," Kato began, "I suppose you're from the Fire Nation, too."

Rana was quiet for a moment. "Yes, I am. I can understand why you'd want to kill me. After what I heard last night, I can't help but think the Fire Nation people should be killed, not the-"

"I know about the Earth Kingdom," the man said, staring bleakly into the fire. "I know that they're doing more than colonization on the eastern coast. That's what you were going to say, right? That the Fire Nation plans on killing the Earth Kingdom people?"

Rana looked away. She despairingly whispered, "Sure. That's what I meant."

Trivia

  • No, Kaize was not shot by a gun.
  • This chapter had almost no ties to the main characters of the story, instead written to introduce a new supporting character and to make her team up with another, already introduced recurring character.
  • This is the first chapter of TRTNE posted on the Avatar Wiki in over a month.
  • Kato's personality in this chapter differs greatly than his most recent appearance in The Night that Finally Ended, which is likely because he only acts the way he did then when he is alone.

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