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|I am of the Water Tribe|
December 17, 2013
"What the heck did you guys do?" Sokka demanded, "Now the Fire Nation know exactly where we are!"
"We didn't mean to!" Hikoda tried to explain, "We were just in the Fire Navy vessel and we accidentally set off a flare-"
"I knew it!"
Sokka pointed a finger at Hikoda.
"I knew you couldn't be trusted! I knew you've been working for the enemy! Every time you wandered off you've been updating the Fire Nation on our day to day activities, haven't you? I bet you set off that flare just to let them know where we are!"
"No, it wasn't his fault!" Aang tried to tell Sokka, "It was my idea to go into the ship, I was the one who set off the flare-"
"Stay out of this, outsider!" Sokka told him. He turned his attention back to Hikoda.
"I've just about had it up to here with you! With you bringing total strangers to our camp, with you chatting up my sister, with your charred fish, with your, with your firebending! And I think it's finally time that you leave and never come back!"
The rest of the tribe were cheering Sokka over his decision.
"No, you can't!"
Aama now spoke up amongst the crowd, "Kanna, don't let the tribe do this! I'm sure it was a mistake, Hikoda would never-"
"Aama," Kanna told her calmly, "Your son knew that he was not supposed to enter that vessel. He must pay for the consequences of his actions."
"Yeah!" Someone shouted. Soon the entire tribe was shouting abuse at Hikoda.
"Yeah go away!"
"Go away firebender!"
"Go away firefreak!"
Aang looked at him. With every insult someone threw at him, the tighter he gripped his staff.
"We don't want you anymore!"
"No one wants you here!"
"You've brought this tribe nothing but trouble!"
"Go back to the Fire Nation!"
"Get out of here!"
"Go back to where you belong!"
"Get lost Fire Mon-"
Aang brought his staff down, sending heaps of snow at the Southern Water Tribe, covering them, silencing them.
"What is wrong with you people?" He demanded angrily of them, "This guy here is one of the nicest, kindest, most selfless people I've ever met! Me and Appa would still be in that iceberg if it wasn't for him! All his life, all he's ever done is try to get you to accept him, putting your needs before him, and you treat him like dirt! And why? Because he's a firebender? Because he looks Fire Nation? Because his dad was one of the Fire Nation soldiers who attacked you? He had nothing to do with the Fire Nation who attacked you, why can't any of you see that? That he's one of you, that he's always been one of you, and you all treat him like he's an outsider! I thought the Water Tribe were supposed to care for their family, not single the odd one out just because they're different! I've been all over the world, to different places and let me tell you something, this is the worst! You people are just – just - HORRIBLE!"
The tribe looked taken aback at how Aang had described them with that last word.
"It's okay, Aang."
Hikoda placed his hand on his shoulder.
"You don't need to defend me. I accept my punishment willingly."
He turned around to walk away, before turning back.
"But you know what? Maybe I'll join the Fire Navy? Maybe I'll come back here and rain fiery vengeance on the lot of you ungrateful lot? Except you, Mom."
And he turned away.
Aama had come to join him.
"If Hikoda is banished, then I'm banished too!"
"Aama," said Kanna, "you would choose him, over your family?"
"Hikoda IS my family, OUR family! Something that none of you have ever understood! And he's more family to you than the rest of you have been!"
Hikoda placed both of his hands on his mother's shoulders.
"You don't have to join me in exile as well."
"What are you talking about, of course I'm going with you!"
It looked like Hikoda was thinking about something.
"Okay then. I'll let you. If you can do one thing for me?"
"And what's that?"
"Look me in the eye, and tell me that you love me."
"-What kind of a request is that, of course I love you-"
"Then do it. Look me in the eye, without blinking, without turning, that you love me."
Aama looked down at her son. But she was unable to look directly into his eyes, those yellow eyes, the eyes of the enemy, of the man who had brought her so much pain.
"Yeah, that's what I thought."
And he turned away.
Aama's eyes were full of tears.
Because his head was turned away, no one could see Hikoda trying to fight back his own tears, apart from Aang.
"Come on, Hikoda," said Aang. "You can hitch a ride on Appa with me, we'll go wherever you want to go!"
He shot one last venomous look at the tribe. Katara was the one most pierced by it.
"Hurry up!" Sokka was telling the other boys, "The Fire Nation could be here at any second! Former company not included."
Irritated, Aang create a gust of air and sent it in Sokka's direction, causing him to yelp as he crashed in the snow.
Aang and Hikoda had traveled a bit of a distance away from the Southern Water Tribe on Appa. Aang was still angry. Never before in his life had he felt so much hatred towards people.
"Hikoda, I'm sorry that I got you banished," Aang apologized.
"It's okay Aang. To be honest, it was just the excuse I needed to get away from that wretched place."
"So are you really going to join the Fire Navy?"
"I don't know. I don't think so. I only really said that out of spite. How can I join the very people who have caused so much suffering in the world? Who have cause me such suffering-"
Hikoda stopped. He and Aang could both see something approaching in the direction of the Southern Water Tribe.
A Fire Nation vessel.
"We have to go back!" said Aang. "Hikoda, I know that what the Water Tribe did to you was wrong, but we can't-"
"I agree. They may be jerks, but they're still my family."
They tried to catch up.
"We'll never get there in time!"
Aang was looking at something.
"There might be a quicker way."
A couple of penguin-otters were in the area.
"Gran Gran," Katara asked her grandmother, "Was Aang right? Were we - are we - horrible?"
"Hikoda knew the consequences of what would happened if he entered that ship," Kanna told her.
"I know. It's just that I think that if it was any one of us, we wouldn't have been as harsh."
Before Kanna could answer, a Fire Navy vessel landed on the shore. Sokka attempted to fight back, but he was no match for the trained prince Zuko. As hard as he fought, he ended up on his rear, with an enraged Zuko advancing towards him with fire daggers.
"Um, Hikoda!" Sokka cried instinctively, "Now would be a good time to help-"
Oh that's right, he remembered, I had him banished. Um, help!
Help came in the form of Aang riding on a penguin, knocking Zuko off his feet. During the battle, he revealed himself to be the Avatar, the one that Zuko had been looking for. As they fought, Aang realized that their battle threatened everyone else, and offered to go with him willingly. Zuko grabbed his arm.
"Don't you dare touch him!"
Hikoda had appeared on the scene, knocking Zuko off his feet on his own penguin otter. The young fire prince was enraged.
"You'll regret that, peasant!"
"Aang, get out of here!" Hikoda told him, "I'll hold him off!"
"Hikoda, what are you doing?"
Aama has appeared amongst the crowd, sounding terrified. Hikoda looked back at his mother, smiling as he tapped his forehead.
"Mark of Sheer, Absolute Stupidity, remember Mom?"
He shot a ball of fire at the Fire Prince. He just knocked it away.
"A firebender? What's a firebender doing in the Southern Water Tribe?"
"I may have been sired by a firebender, but I am of the Water Tribe!"
Hikoda shot a couple more balls at Zuko, who knocked them away effortless. Hikoda also tried shooting a couple from his feet, only to be knocked on his back.
"It is clear that you never had a master," Zuko told him, "but you have potential. Come with us."
He offered him his hand.
"You don't belong here, with these Water Tribe peasants. You belong with us, with fellow firebenders."
Hikoda managed to get up.
"I'll never join you!" He spat.
He shot out another fireball.
"I'll never join such a ruthless race like you!"
With every point he made, he punched out another fireball.
"You destroyed our city, you hurt my mom, you took our waterbenders, you killed my best friend's mom, you're the reason why she hates me, you're the reason why my mom can't look at me, you're the reason why everyone treats me like I'm the enemy, YOU'RE THE REASON WHY MY LIFE SUCKS!"
He roared out fire at Zuko. Zuko shot out his own fire. The impact sent Hikoda flying in the snow.
"Hikoda!" shouted Aang, kneeling down to help his friend. On all fours, Hikoda breathed harshly as he looked up, turning around to see Aang.
"Aang, what are you still doing here?" Hikoda demanded angrily, "You need to get away from here as far as you can!"
Aang was uncertain.
"But," He stammered, "But I can't just leave you!"
"You're the Avatar, Aang. You're the last hope this world has! So please. Get out of here! Learn the four elements, defeat the Fire Lord, end the war! My life is worthless compared to yours! Besides," he placed his knee forward as he pushed himself up, "you're the only person who's never been cruel to me."
"If belonging is what you want," Zuko said, "then join us! You will be accepted by the Fire Nation, I promise you that."
Hikoda struggled to get up, struggling to breathe. His clothes bore burnt marks.
"Are you deaf?" He asked, "I said I'LL NEVER JOIN YOU!"
He shot out fire from both his hands and mouth at Zuko, engulfing him in flames. The entire tribe cheered. However the cheers instantly died when the flames dissipated. Zuko remained standing, not even charred. The other firebenders now circled around Hikoda.
"I don't want to harm you," Zuko told him, "but strike again and my men will not hold back!"
Aama tried to reach him, but she was held back by the other tribespeople.
"Stop it, Hikoda! No! They'll kill you!"
"So be it. Maybe then my sucky life will finally end."
"Hikoda, don't do this!"
It was now Katara who spoke. Hikoda looked back at her. He smiled.
"It's alright, Katara. It's not like I had much going, anyway."
Tears formed in Katara's eyes.
"This is my last warning," Zuko told him. "Stand aside, and let us capture the Avatar!"
Hikoda struggled to stand upright.
"I will not let you touch my tribe. I WILL NOT LET YOU HARM MY FAMILY!"
And he continued to shoot fire at the other firebenders, even though they outnumbered him and were more experienced. Sokka and the rest of the tribe were staring at him as if they were only looking at him for the first time. For Katara, all that misplaced anger she had, all the hatred she had for the Fire Nation soldier who killed her mother she directed at Hikoda, was melting away, allowing her to see her friend for the first time in six years, her best friend, her bending friend, the only other person in her tribe who was a bender, who she had played with, made snowmen with, who guessed with what laid beyond the sea, what the Avatar was like, the boy she had one day hoped to marry. She thought of the ice sculpture they had started on the day her mother died, the one they had never finished. And now she saw her friend about to be struck down by fire, the same way her mother was.
"Fire!" Shouted Zuko.
Hikoda turned to look at Katara. Their eyes met as he was engulfed in flame. Katara stared in horror at the inferno.
"HIKODA!" she screamed, running towards him, her hand outstretched, tears flying past her, feeling the same pain she did when her mother died. "HIKODA!"
She ran towards a giant, floating, glowing jellyfish-like thing with a large eye in the centre of its body, surrounded by white space.
"That will do, I think."
The jellyfish raised one of its tentacles, and placed it on Katara's forehead.
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