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|Eye of the Storm|
Chapter 2: Eye of the Storm
After a day on the airship, they finally arrived at Fong's fortress.
"Welcome, Avatar Aang, Earth King Kuei, and friends!" General Fong spread his hands wide. "I humbly lend you use of my fortress."
Kuei spoke. "General, you did receive my message?"
Fong nodded. "That I did, sire. I have sent some of my best men ahead to the Pohuai Stronghold."
The general glanced at Aang. "It appears I have much to answer for..."
Sokka nodded his assent. "Kinda."
Fong ignored him and addressed Aang. "I do apologize for that whole Avatar State business... it appears you have achieved mastery of it without such... harsh methods."
"What's done is done, General." Aang winced as his side continued to pain him. "What I need to know now is whether or not you are able to take the fight to Yuan Chong."
Fong grinned almost wickedly. "I am entirely prepared to handle everything that he can throw at me."
"I hope so, General."
Meanwhile, Zuko spoke with his servants. "The Order got the officers out using a captured Tank Train. They will take up their positions as per my orders; your job is to ensure that they Fire Nation is prepared to defend itself."
The men bowed, forming the Fire Nation salute. "As you wish, Fire Lord Zuko."
He turned to Li Teng. "You know your orders." The man nodded.
As they reentered the airship, Zuko turned to Mai. "I'm assuming that nothing I say will convince you to return to the Fire Nation for your own safety?"
Mai glanced at him from the corner of her eyes. "Um...no."
Zuko sighed. "Right..."
Long Feng limped into the throne room, what used to be his throne. Yuan Chong took one look at the former Supreme Bureaucratic Administrator and laughed. Both eyes were blackened, and his face was bruised considerably. "A mere child did this to you! Ha! How can you even show your face here?"
Long Feng glared at him through his one good eye. "Your understanding is... refreshing, but I might point out that you were nearly killed by a child, as well."
"Mine was the Avatar, and he was powerful! Yours..." He began to chuckle. "Yours was a mere boy who, by all counts, can hardly lift a rock!" The Dai Li head scowled. "That did not stop him from killing several of my agents, well trained Earthbenders!"
Yuan Chong stood. "Do not presume to lecture me! I have achieved the first portion of my victory; the Fire Nation is nearly within my grasp!"
Long Feng's eyes narrowed. "You underestimate their resourcefulness..."
Yun Zhen and Ty Lee met the others in the Recreation Yard. "It's going to be good to have a couple of days of downtime," he said.
"Yeah," Ty Lee replied with the first genuine smile Yun had seen since Lake Laogai. "It's going to be great to do nothing for a couple of days."
Toph could feel it her erratic heartbeat. She's still hiding how she really feels. But she did not press; the incident was probably traumatic enough.
"But remember, we have to be at Pohuai Stronghold when they come, so when we get word, we move." Sokka said.
Katara shrugged. "We've fought hard. Since we have to wait anyway..."
"Actually," Aang touched down with Momo on his shoulder. "Sokka and I need to meet with Zuko, Kuei, and Fong to finalize the plan."
Sokka sagged. "Why does everyone else get a vacation?"
Suki put a hand on his shoulder. "Well, you are the Idea Guy; you're an important part of this. It's your plan."
Sokka sighed as he and Aang walked toward the Meeting Room. "Why couldn't I be the Fun Guy or... or the Vacation Planning Guy?" Suki chuckled as he continued his lament.
Yun turned to the others. "So, what is there to do around here, anyway?"
Ri Wu stood at the top of a small mountain overlooking General Fong's Fortress. "Begin moving the Terra Tanks in. They can get over the wall faster than the rest of us, and they will open up a path."
The soldier saluted. "Yes, sir!"
Yuan Chong's right-hand man played with three small stones, rotating them above his hands. One down, one to go.
Katara surfed along the edge of the pool located in the Recreation Yard while Suki and Toph laid back to relax. Yun practiced his Earthbending exercises, and Ty Lee stretched into a backbend.
"Hey," Ty Lee looked out on the yard from an upside down view. "Where's Mai?"
Katara surfed to the edge and jumped out of the pool. "She decided that the pool wasn't her thing and went to her room."
Ty Lee shrugged as she moved into a handstand and flipped into the water. As she came up, a grin came to Yun's face. "Her loss," he said as cannonballed into the pool, splashing everyone.
Yun came up from the water. "Hey, Toph, why don't you jump in?"
The blind Earthbender raised an eyebrow. "Uh, no thank you; water's not exactly my element."
He grinned. "Literally."
Katara rolled her eyes. "You're getting as bad as Sokka..."
Their time of relaxation was interrupted by the fortress walls shaking.
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