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|More from MightyBrit||Adventure||G (all ages)||Here|
Healed, But Broken is the seventh chapter of Book 2 of MightyBrit's fanon,, and the seventeenth chapter overall. It had many different names before it settled on Healed, But Broken, including The Supernova Effect and An Ally Falls.
|Healed, But Broken|
Avatar Zali, MightyBrit
Like Father, Like Son
The Spirit World
Zhao wandered through the dark, dying forest of the Spirit World. He had walked a good mile already and his brother's injured leg was beginning to pain him. He knew these forests well as he'd spent a decade wandering through it, searching for a way out of his otherworldly prison.
Now, of course, getting out wasn't the problem. He'd come back to the Spirit World, of his own accord this time, looking for what was stolen from him so very long ago. He knew exactly where the breach came out, in both worlds and it wasn't exactly difficult to sneak into the North Pole where every once-powerful member of society hid in their homes, out of fear of their own lack of power.
The forest began to become less dense, turning slowly into muddy flats with sparse foliage. Zhao was able to see the ocean crawl out from the dirty shores endlessly into the distance.
Close to the shore, in a batch of dead brown seaweed, a dark-skinned man slumped against one of the small trees that grew there. His long black mustache was damp with water, as was the black kimono he wore. He looked upward, weakly, and groaned as he saw a man he'd never seen before.
"Who are you?" he slurred, his voice sounded like a submerged yell.
"Hello La," said Zhao, still in his brother's body.
"How do you know me?"
"Look behind you. Figure it out."
La turned around. His head was impossibly heavy as he dragged it around on his shoulders. Behind him, the lifeless body of Zhao lay, each limb trapped in a heavy steel chain, covered in seaweed and barnacles. The chains spread out endlessly, all the way to the horizon in all four directions, with one chain plunging deep into the nearby ocean.
"Zhao," La groaned.
Zhao let a twisted smile escape his lips. "Unlock the chains."
"Never," said La defiantly, his mustache twitching. "When he helped you escape, I knew you'd be back for your body someday. No matter what form you took, you'd never be able to rid yourself of your pride. No other body would ever be good enough for you."
"You're right," snarled Zhao. "And that's why I'm taking it back. Unlock the chains."
"No," La repeated.
"You were the exact opposite to Tui. While he powered the waterbenders, the waterbenders powered you, didn't they?"
La scowled at him, a mix of anger and fear flooded his face.
Zhao walked closer to La, cracking his knuckles as he went. "So, I'm betting right now, with only one little waterbender in this pathetic little world, you can barely stand." He swung his fist with strength and ferocity and it connected so hard with La's face that the weakened fell to his side, unable to defend himself.
"You will unlock the chains," said Zhao, making no attempt to hide the anger and disdain in his tone.
"No," spat La as watery blood leaked from between his teeth.
Zhao stood over Lao with his fists clenched and his breathing deep. "YOU! WILL! UNLOCK! THE! CHAINS!" he screamed, exaggerating each word with another furious blow.
Zhao stood with bloody fists over the broken and bruised form of the once glorious ocean spirit. He grabbed La, pulled his close, feeling for the key that unlocked the heavy chains. The weakened spirit could do nothing to stop him as he found the key, carved of tiger-whale bone and hardened ice, dangling from a rope around his neck and ripped it from him.
"Thank you," quipped Zhao as he took the key and unlocked each of the chains that held his original body captive. He smiled broadly.
Zhao walked over to the ocean and looked at his own reflection. He saw his own brother's face stare back at him from the rippling water. "Goodbye brother," he snarled. "It's been fun." He watched as his brother mouthed the words that he spoke, and then draw a long dagger from his belt and sink it into his own abdomen.
Black smoke leaked out of Zhao's mouth, as well as his nose and his eye sockets. The corpse of Zhao's brother fell to the floor, splashing into the shallows of the dark ocean, leaving behind a dark figure seemingly made of shadows.
"No..." muttered La as he watched helplessly from the ground. The shadowy figure swept in and flowed into the still body, now free from the chains.
Zhao's eyes snapped open and he rose to his feet. He breathed deep, flexed his fingers and stroked his own face happily. He threw back his head and let out a long shout of victory: "I AM BACK!" Flames burst out of his hands in his elation of being back inside his own flesh.
The Great Walled City of Ba Sing Se
Appa touched down in the courtyard outside of the Jasmine Dragon. The houses were still damaged and the beautiful fountain lay in ruins. All around the courtyard small candles were lit in remembrance of the victims of the attack.
"What happened?" said Diyi aloud, viewing the destruction.
Zuko quickly jumped off Appa and ran into the teashop, calling for his uncle in panic. Inside though, Iroh was humbly serving tea to one of his customers wearing a large smile on his face as he did so. Zuko let out a long breath of relief.
Outside, Diyi and Aang dismounted Appa. The massive sky bison roared at them as they headed inside.
"Don't worry, buddy, I'll bring you some food out," Appa said to him.
"So, this is where Zuko's uncle lives?" asked Diyi.
"That's right. He owns and operates this teashop."
"Why? Can't Zuko, like, set him up in a palace or something?"
"Zuko's offered more than once, but Iroh likes to be away from the reminders of his past."
"Why? Enma told me he helped end Ozai's War."
"True, but to do that he had to fight. Something that he hates."
Diyi looked at Aang, annoyed. "Are all of your friends pacifists?"
Aang smiled. "Many of them. Though you haven't met Toph yet."
The two airbenders walked into the shop and found Zuko tightly embracing his uncle. Iroh smiled at Aang, then came over and bowed low to him in respect. Aang returned the gesture.
"Iroh, this is Diyi," Aang said, introducing his new ward.
"A pleasure, my dear," responded Iroh, bowing low to her.
Diyi was confused; she wasn't used to the formalities of the real world and preferred the feral wilds of the Spirit World. She looked at Aang in a slight panic. He mouthed 'bow!' to her and she bowed as Aang had done.
"Uncle, what happened? The courtyard..."
"I'm afraid we have a lot to discuss, nephew. Will you come to the back room with me?"
Zuko nodded in response, and all four of them headed to the back room, leaving the rest of the shop to their tea.
"What happened, uncle?" Zuko repeated as soon as the door was closed.
"What?" said Zuko, his eyes wide. "That's not possible."
"She has escaped through the Spirit World, like Zhao did before her."
"That can't be right, uncle. I've got the House of Fengkuang guarded twenty-four seven with strict orders to instruct me if Azula takes even a step out of her cell."
"Your guards couldn't have anticipated the fact that she escaped through another breach in the skin of the world. Besides, her physical body is still trapped within her prison, it is her spirit that attacked us."
"Azula's a planner," said Aang. "What was she after? Why did she attack?"
Iroh looked worriedly at Zuko. "She was after your mother."
Zuko's eyes went wide and he quickly turned to leave.
"It's too late, Zuko. She left with Toph this morning."
"She was no longer safe here. Toph resigned from her position as guard to the Earth King, then took your mother on a journey to keep her safe."
Zuko sat down and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Everything's falling apart; I came here to destroy the Cult of Sozin, but I've done absolutely nothing. I led them to my mother, now Azula's loose and going after her.... This is all my fault."
"Nothing about this is your fault, Zuko," Aang comforted him. "This is Zhao's doing, all of it."
"No," added Diyi. "Zhao's a patsy."
All three of the older men in the room looked at her curiously. Diyi continued.
"I knew La, back when I was in the Spirit World. He told me what happened. Zhao didn't escape on his own; he was freed by something way more powerful."
Aang looked at her. "Something's... someone's behind all this?"
"Yeah. I've never seen him. I don't even know much about him. I got the feeling Enma knew more than he was letting on, but he got scared and clammed up if the subject ever came up."
"What was it called?" asked Zuko.
"It's got lots of names," she answered. "He Who Consumes...The Devouring Dark...The Great Maw...."
"I've heard that name before. Koh mentioned him. He was terrified."
"Okay. It's big and it's bad, so why did it need to free Zhao?" asked Zuko.
"To cause unbalance in the world," said Iroh.
"He's killed Yue, practically destroyed the Water Tribes, and placed the entire world on the brink of war..." listed Aang, bowing his head in sadness.
"He's done more than that, I'm afraid," said Iroh, turning around and stroking the head of his little red bird that sat calmly on the bed behind him. "We can no longer firebend, my friends."
"Sure we can," said Zuko, snapping his fingers. His fingers ignited smoothly, burning without harming him.
"No!" cried Iroh, walking over to his nephew and slapping his hand, putting out the flames. "I did not say we could not, just that we cannot!"
"I don't understand, uncle."
"Perhaps a demonstration," Iroh said, he walked to a small cupboard and pulled out a scale, placing a rock on both ends, so that it balanced smoothly. He held out his hand letting the little red bird jump onto it, up his arm, then onto his shoulder.
"This is the world as it should be. Fire and water in perfect balance with each other, but Zhao has killed Yue and destroy waterbending entirely." Iroh removed the stone from one side, causing the scale to tip drastically in the other direction.
"Well, that explains why my firebending has been more powerful lately," added Zuko. "But, why can't we use that? It could be helpful."
Iroh held up a finger, then began to explain again. He picked up a handful of marbles from a jar on a desk, putting them one at a time on the heavy end of the scale. "Every time one of us firebends, even you, Avatar, we further the unbalance in the world. We grow stronger every time, but eventually..." Iroh broke off, but his point was made when the scale snapped, the heavy end breaking the string, falling to the floor, the rock and marbles clattering around.
"We will destroy ourselves," finished Zuko, darkness in his voice.
"The Spirit of the Sun is getting stronger every day, every time we bend, but it's only a matter of time until his own strength destroys him and when that happens..."
"No more firebending ever," said Diyi. "Like a star going supernova."
"How do we stop it?" said Aang.
"We restore balance," said Iroh. "Starting with Azula."
"What about Zhao?" asked Diyi. "Tiankong, the Sky Spirit, she said I had to find and destroy Zhao."
"Don't worry about Zhao," said Aang. "Sokka's got him."
Zuko stood up, clenching his fist. "Then, we get Azula. Where do we start?"
"The House of Fengkuang," said Aang. "Looks like the Air Temple will have to wait a little bit longer."
Diyi smiled. "Crazy people. Cool."
Onboard Sokka's Skyship
There were three knocks at Liang's door, which echoed around the small metal room. He'd been bunking with Wuoyan, so the top bunk of the bed was impossibly messy, while his own bottom bunk was completely surrounded by various books that Sokka had given him, all about the history of the Water Tribes, waterbending techniques and the Spirit World. The rest of the room was mostly bare, save for some large chests full of their stuff, a weapon rack for Wuoyan and a small sink in the corner.
Liang got up from his bed, his head still stinging slightly from his sudden headache. He opened the door, finding Hydros on the other side. His hair was ragged, his eyes determined.
"Hydros," said Liang quietly. "I just need a quick rest. I'll be back to heal the rest of the patients in a bit."
Hydros raised his hand to his ear, scratching his one of his sideburns. "Not actually what I came for," he said, quickly swinging his fist, before Liang could react.
Liang was knocked across the room, his nose bleeding. "What are you doing? Are you crazy?" he screamed.
Hydros walked into the room, slamming the door behind him. He extended his hand, the walls shook and pipes creaked. But, within moments, the pipes broke open and a long stream of water burst forth, swirling through the air and spiraling around Hydros's body.
Liang's head exploded with pain. He clutched his head and screamed. "Please...stop!"
"I am sorry, Liang. I don't want to hurt you, but it's the only way," said Hydros. "Zhao has to pay for what's he done to me and you're my only weapon against him."
"I'm not a weapon. I'm your friend. Please..." begged Liang.
The door clattered open. Wuoyan entered with a big smile on his face. "Hey kid, ya wanna go and grab somethin' to eat?" he said joyfully, before he saw the scene inside the room. There was a moment of silence as everything sank in.
Quick as a flash, Wuoyan drew the two new knives that were sheathed across his back and spun them in a wide arc toward Hydros's neck. Hydros flicked his wrists upward and the swirling stream of water threw itself into a torrent that crashed into Wuoyan's chest.
Wuoyan was thrown into the opposite wall of the corridor. The torrent of water instantly froze, trapping him. Wuoyan yelled out a curse word as Hydros' bending sent another wave of agony through Liang's skull. The young boy cried aloud again as Hydros grabbed him gruffly and tossed him over his shoulder. He ran from the room, heading outwards towards the main deck, the remaining water streaming behind him as he went. Liang screamed for Wuoyan's help, but the pain in his head made his words mostly incomprehensible.
Wuoyan closed his eyes tightly, willing the heat to come. Hot steam rose from the ice and filled the corridor as the heat from Wuoyan's body melted the ice that trapped him. Moments later, he was free and pursuing Hydros with his knives drawn and a trail of distorted heat behind him.
He ran to the main deck, but Hydros was out of sight. Unsure of what direction he went, Wuoyan cursed aloud once more, then ran towards the war room. Still leaving a long blur of distortion behind him, he ran as fast as he could, spinning his head around to check for any signs of Hydros.
He burst into the war room; Sokka and Suki snapped their heads up quickly from the long pages of documents and maps that covered the war table. "'E took Liang! That 'Ydros bugger took Liang!" Wuoyan screamed at them.
Sokka was up in a second, drawing his long black blade and knocking the chair he was sitting over. Suki was even faster and was halfway to the door before Wuoyan could even react to her. The three of them bolted down the corridors, Suki leading the way, but they soon came to a fork in the corridors and
"Where was he going, Wuoyan?" she yelled back to him urgently.
"I dunno," answered Wuoyan, annoyed with himself. "I lost 'im."
"What did he want?" asked Suki.
Wuoyan shook his head, his features still distorted from the heat, but it gradually began to fade away as he concentrated on other things. "I dunno. 'E just attacked me..."
Sokka thought hard. "He wants revenge. On the person who took everything from him..."
"Zhao," said Suki aloud.
"Boss," said Wuoyan in all seriousness. "'E can bend."
Sokka's eyes narrowed. "That's impossible."
"But 'e did and the kid was screaming when 'e did it, like it was 'urting 'im somehow." Sokka shared a meaningful look with Suki. Wuoyan didn't miss it. "What? What ain't ya tellin' me?"
"It was a theory that we had," answered Suki sincerely. "Liang can waterbend because he draws the power from the moon fragments within himself. We thought that maybe other people could draw from that power too."
"But, while Liang has a part of a spirit, he isn't one," Sokka finished. "He hasn't got nearly enough power to sustain someone waterbending from him. He can barely sustain himself—remember when he passed out after making the wave at the South Pole?"
"So bending 'urts the kid?" Wuoyan asked.
"Not when he does it himself, that just makes him tired," answered Suki. "But when someone else does it, they are literally stealing part of Liang's soul. Of course it hurts him. It might even kill him."
"'Ow do we find 'im?"
"He needs to get off this ship. He'll be heading to the war balloon bay," said Sokka, turning to his wife. "There are at least four or five functioning Fire Nations balloons in there."
"He can't power those things, can he? They need fire."
"No, they need hot air, and he can make that by turning water into steam."
"Then, what are we standin' around for? Let's go!" Wuoyan yelled, rays of heat rose from his skin again as he began to run down the hallway toward the balloon bay. Suki and Sokka were hot on his heels.
The trio arrived at the balloon bay, but the heavy metal door was locked and barred from the inside. Sokka slid his sword in the crack of the door and swung down hard, slashing through the locks and the heavy bar that held the door shut.
The door swung open when Sokka kicked it as hard as he could, clanging against the metal wall. The balloon bay was long and thin with five balloons overlooking a long empty gap in the side of the ship's hull, the endless sky stretched out beyond that.
In the center balloon, Liang sat against the engine. His eyes were bloodshot, his face haggard with tears. He turned to see the source of the noises, but turning his head was like rotating a planet on its axis.
Sokka pointed his sword threateningly. "Stand down, soldier."
"Not this time, old friend," said Hydros, willing the water to strike.
Sokka charged, swinging his blade in a wide arc. Torrents of water swirled around the room, crashing into Sokka from both sides. The water pushed Sokka upwards, then double backed pushing Sokka right over the edge of the skyship.
Sokka grabbed for the edge, clinging on to the cold metal with his fingertips as he dangled out of the ship, thousands of feet over the ocean. With half a second, Suki had her war fans drawn and dropped into a combat stance.
Hydros was ready though. He waved his hand, the water splashed down to the floor all around Sokka and began to slowly freeze, letting tendrils of ice crawl through the floor. "Your husband can't keep his grip on ice, Suki," he said calmly.
Suki scowled back at him and contemplated her actions for a second. She didn't see any other option though and dropped her fans, running to Sokka's aid.
Wuoyan screamed, leaping through the air, slashing madly with his knives. "LET 'IM GO!" he yelled, his movements a blur as the air distorted around him. Two icicles shot up from the ground, swinging around the air, acting like floating long swords that kept Wuoyan at bay.
"You should be helping me!" yelled Hydros aloud to all of them. "I'm going to end all of this! I'm going to get a squad of true warriors from the North Pole; with Liang behind us, we can stop the Cult by force. We can kill Zhao once and for all!"
Sokka struggled back into the room as Suki pulled him up. "This isn't the way, Hydros," Suki told him. "Please! You're killing him! He's only a boy!"
Hydros looked around. Liang was obviously in agony, but he wasn't screaming; he was in too much pain to scream. He began to slip in and out of consciousness, unable to move or speak.
Genuine concern appeared on Hydros's face for a moment, but he soon steeled himself. "Then his sacrifice will not be in vain."
Wuoyan gave a yell of determination, shattering the ice swords he was fighting to tiny crystals. "Go ahead then, 'Ydros. Run," he snarled. "Just know I will never stop 'untin' you. Not until I get my best friend back."
Hydros stared right back at him, but remained totally silent. Everyone in the room did, but it was broken by another grunt of pain from Liang. The shattered ice crystals changed into a small flood of water. The water flowed deliberately and pushed the water balloon over the edge of the room, making it plunge down through the sky. The fabric rippled before rapidly inflating and carrying the war balloon on the air towards the North Pole.
Wuoyan cursed again. "'Ow do we stop him?"
Sokka looked at Suki, then back at Wuoyan. "The North Pole is half a day away by balloon. This skyship is slower; we'll never catch him up in this. Plus, we'll never be able to sneak up on this. You and I will take one of the other war balloons and follow him." He turned to his wife, tenderly clutching her hand. "Will you be okay on your own?"
"I just saved YOUR life, remember?" said Suki. "Go, I'll be fine. We'll meet you back on Kyoshi."
"Right. Let's go! Now!" yelled Wuoyan urgently.
"Patience, Wuoyan. We have to wait a little, if he sees us following him, he could strike out against us from afar."
"We donave time, boss!" screamed Wuoyan. "Ya saw Liang; that git's gonna kill 'im!"
"Hydros is going through a psychotic break," explained Sokka. "He lost everything he ever held dear and he blames Zhao for it. He's got nothing but hate left in him now, but he isn't evil and he knows he still needs Liang. Until it comes between his life and Zhao's death, Liang is safe."
Wuoyan remained stubbornly silent.
"We will get him back, Wuoyan. As much as I want to kill Zhao, I'm not prepared to lose Liang in the process. We will get him back."
The Northern Water Tribe
Half a day later, in the deep of the night, Hydros touched down in the courtyard of the Northern Water Tribe. He exited his balloon, pushing the weakened Liang out in front of him. Hydros had bound the boy's hands with heavy rope to make sure he didn't try to escape.
Four guards came running towards him, ready to defend their home. They brandished long spears. A quick flick of Hydros's wrist and the water from the rivers that flowed through the North Pole jumped up and disarmed them.
Liang groaned again, his knees buckling from the pain as the guards muttered in disbelief at a waterbender being back in their midst.
"My name is Hydros; this is my home. Go and fetch Chief Arnook. I have brought the Northern Water Tribe our salvation and our chance for revenge!" said Hydros, in a loud and dramatic voice. "Go! Tell him!"
The guards ran off back to the palace, leaving Hydros alone with Liang. "Are you all right?" asked Hydros.
Speaking was difficult. Liang's words came out stuttered and broken. "Please...Let me go..."
"I can't do that, Liang. This is the only way I can stop Zhao. You want that, don't you? You want Zhao to pay for what he's done to our people?"
Liang stared at him in pity and in anger. "I'm from the Earth Kingdom."
Suddenly, clapping broke the silence between them. The loud claps echoed throughout the plaza in which they stood. Out of the shadows, near the water, something shimmered and distorted like the world itself was broken there, and through the otherworldly shimmer stepped Zhao, still clapping his hands in mock applause.
"Look at this," he said, his tone mocking. "The person I came to kill brought to me by the person I decided not to look for. What a remarkable coincidence."
Hydros was instantly angry. "What are you doing here? This is my home! You can't be here!"
"Oh, don't get all defensive," Zhao replied. "The security around isn't that tight since...Well, since I killed your little spirit-princess."
Hydros sent a blast of water from the stream at Zhao, but Zhao countered it with a blaze of flames from his hands. Steam filled the plaza as fire collided with water.
Zhao laughed aloud. "You're stealing energy from a weakened boy, while I am drawing power from a spirit whose power is increasing every second. This will not be a contest."
Hydros snarled at him.
"But, there doesn't have to be," said Zhao, placing his hands behind back and beginning to pace. "You are ruthless and, more importantly, you are strong. There's a place for you by my side."
"Working for your Cult? Never!"
"The Cult is a smokescreen. I serve a higher power, far more powerful than any nation or any human being, even the Fire Lord, even the Avatar. You and me, we could work together to further his cause."
"And what cause is that?"
"Same as yours," Zhao smiled. "Revenge."
"Against you?" Hydros quipped.
"Then, it's not going to happen. Because all I want, more than anything else in this world, is your blood on my hands."
Zhao smiled widely. "That is such a shame." He stopped pacing, glancing down at the exhausted, pained boy on the floor, then to the man he faced. Long black hair, black sideburns that reached down his face to a strong chin and broad neck that was covered by the fur collar on his Water Tribe garb. "I might have actually enjoyed working with my son."
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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