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|Escape From Gaoling|
Avatar Day of the Dead
Escape From Gaoling is the second chapter of Book One- The Dawn of the Dead in theseries.
The undead have escaped from the apartment building and Aang and Zuko have become separated from Toph and Sokka. Aang defies an order from Zuko to "do the right thing" while Sokka and Toph lead a group of survivors to safety. Aang and Zuko meet Zainan and Xiang, and escape with them in a hot air balloon.
Aang and Zuko were fighting their way through the hordes of undead that were flooding out of the basement, having broken through Aang's rock door. Zuko was torching the monsters without hesitation, but Aang was merely trying to knock them down without being harmed.
"Dammit, they're eating people and you're showing them mercy?" Zuko said. Outnumbered, they fled the building. Aang Earthbent another barrier into the doorway and Zuko set the building on fire.
"Zuko, what's wrong with you! You'll kill them all!"
"That's kind of the idea. If you don't like it, you should have become a nurse instead of a soldier. We have to keep this plague from spreading. Go back to the assault vehicle and send a messenger hawk to General Fong, tell him we need to quarantine the town immediately."
"What about the wounded?" Aang asked.
"We have to keep them here," Zuko said bluntly. "If there's any contamination in them, they have to be kept within the area. This disease can not spread any further than it already has."
"What, we're just gonna leave them here with those things?"
"I thought I told you to send a message to General Fong." Zuko's voice was calm, but Aang could sense his patience was worn thin and did as he was told. Zuko looked around, trying to find Toph and Sokka, but they were nowhere to be found. He cursed him under his breath and just barely turned in time to stop one of the undead from biting him. With one hand around the dead man's throat, he managed to pull out a dagger and stab it in the temple.
Meanwhile, Aang hastily wrote a note to General Fong. But he still couldn't bear to leave the wounded in Gaoling while the dead where running amok. General Fong,
Requesting mass evacuation of wounded from Gaoling immediately. Disease is contained and no quarantine is necessary.
"Sorry Zuko," Aang said to himself, as the messenger hawk took off, "but you gave me no choice." Aang went out and found Zuko standing over a fresh corpse with a bloody dagger in his hand.
"Where the hell are your friends?"
Toph and Sokka had rounded up a few of their fellow National Guards and were now leading a group of survivors away from Gaoling. The undead were fortunately too slow to keep up with the fleeing civilians.
"Toph, where are we going?" Sokka asked.
"There's a river about a mile east of here," Toph asked. "We can regroup there. I'll take a couple of the other Earthbenders back to get the assault vehicle and look for Aang and Zuko."
"What about those dead guys?"
"I can sense them before they get close, so we should have no trouble getting there."
"And what about us?"
"I'll Earthbend a wall around you until we get back," Toph said. "With any luck, they won't get close enough for the wall to be necessary."
"I hope Aang's okay. I can't believe we left him there alone."
"He's with Zuko," Toph pointed out.
"I'd feel more comfortable if he was by himself."
Escape the Zombies
Aang couldn't find any trace of Sokka and Toph in the village. Plenty of living dead but not a single member of the team besides himself and Zuko.
"Aang," Zuko said. "We need to get out of here before the quarantine is in effect, or we'll be stuck here." Aang almost smiled to himself.
"What about Sokka and Toph?"
"We searched the entire village, they're not here."
"What if they're, you know-"
"Dead?" Zuko finished for him. "Then we probably would have found their bodies. Or what was left of them."
"Thanks Zuko," Aang said sarcastically. "But how are we going to get out of here?" The assault vehicle needs two Earthbenders to make it move. Unless you can Earthbend too, we're not going anywhere."
"Well, right now, that's the least of our worries." Aang turned around to see at least two dozen undead heading towards them.
"This way," someone called from down the alley. Aang and Zuko followed the stranger as he lead them across the neighborhood to a hot air balloon. Another younger man was already in the balloon, muttering to himself.
"Who are you?" Aang asked the man who brought them to the balloon.
"My name is Zainan, and this is my brother Xiang. We're trying to escape the zombies before they spread."
"Escape the what?" Aang asked.
"Zombies," Xiang answered. "The dead who come back to life to feed on the flesh of the innocent. Our grandfather used to talk about them before they locked him up in the asylum."
"It's funny, that he'd be right all along," Zainan said. "Or it would be if it wasn't such a disaster."
"You know I can't let you leave," Zuko said.
"Zuko," Aang said, "this is the only chance we have to get out of here. They look perfectly healthy to me."
"Are you a doctor?"
"Well then excuse me if I don't trust your diagnosis."
"Look," Zainan interrupted. "You can come or you can stay, we're leaving regardless. So what's it going to be. Certain death and dismemberment or safe passage out of this place?" Twenty minutes later, the four of them were floating away from Gaoling. Zuko, though determined to keep the entire populace contained, decided that it was best to get out of there before the quarantine was in place.
Toph and the two Earthbending soldiers she'd brought reached the assault vehicle, running into only two lone zombies on the way. She'd figured that if Aang and Zuko were still alive, they'd stay near there.
"Aang? Zuko?" she called anxiously. There was someone lying near the back of the vehicle, but from what she could tell, they were too big to be Aang and too scrawny to be Zuko. Where are they, she thought. She couldn't sense their footsteps anywhere.
"We should go," one of the others said. Toph nodded. If Aang and Zuko weren't in the town, they'd either escaped or been killed. No, Toph thought, they had to have escaped. They boarded the assault vehicle and started heading back towards Sokka and the refugees.
- This is one of the only chapters in which a character says "zombie" out loud, mostly because in zombie movies, the word "zombie" is seldom used.
- Sokka's comment about how he would be more comfortable if Aang was by himself than with Zuko is a nod to Sokka's distrust of Zuko in The Western Air Temple.
For the collective works of the author, go here.