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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action||PG13||Good||N/A|
|Initiating the Mission|
The three comrades stood facing the shrubbery, prepared for anything. Hong Wu had drawn one of his knives, while Ming had taken her Earthbending attack stance. Hoku was armed with a sword, which he pointed at the shrubbery. "Show yourself!" Hong Wu shouted.
Slowly, a man moved out from behind the bushes and stood facing the three allies. "Don't hurt me," he said. "I am a friend." Hong Wu remembered the code Taisa had told him to ask. "What is the name of the animal who watches the king?" he asked. The man hesitated before answering.
Hoku thrust his sword forward, bringing it right below the man's jaw. "Answer us!" he ordered.
The man gulped before answering. "B-Bosco," he replied. Hoku brought his sword away from the man's face and Hong Wu and Ming relaxed. "My name is Konghe," he said. "I was told to rendezvous here with you guys." Konghe extended his hand towards Hong Wu, intending to have him shake it.
"Are the Terra Team soldiers with you?" Hong Wu asked, ignoring the man's friendly gesture.
"Uh, yeah, they are just a few miles away – waiting for us," Konghe replied, a bit offended by Hong Wu's abrupt rudeness.
"Let's get moving," Hong Wu ordered.
The three soldiers complied and followed him. "Who put him in charge?" Hoku whispered to Ming.
After a few more hours, the four comrades decided to stop. "Alright, let's set up camp for the night," said Hoku. "We can finish our trek through the woods tomorrow, and then begin our ambush at dawn." At this point, everyone began to unpack. Everyone began setting up their tents, but no one made a fire, for they were certain that would give away their position.
In a matter of about thirty minutes, most of the soldiers had fallen asleep, but one still lay awake, thinking about the aftermath of what happened on that hot day eleven years ago. Thirty long minutes passed by, and Hong Wu was still lying awake under the stars. He couldn't sleep; he had an awful feeling in his gut that would not allow it. It was as if his body literally would not allow him to sleep for a few hours. His thoughts were interrupted by someone crawling over to his tent. Hong Wu was suddenly alert. He jerked upwards, only to find Ming on her hands and knees right outside her tent. Hong Wu lay back down with a sigh. "What are you doing here?"
"I still want an answer," Ming replied. "What made you want to become an assassin?"
"You should not have snuck up on me like that," Hong Wu replied, ignoring Ming's question.
"Quit stalling," Ming ordered. "I want answers, now."
Hong Wu sat up and looked at his teammate. "So, this rose has thorns, eh?" he asked. "You have barely spoken two words since we have known each other."
"Yeah, well, I may not talk very much, but that does not mean that I'm not aggressive," said Ming. "Now, are you going to answer my question or not?"
Hong Wu paused for a moment before answering. "I was a refugee of a group of Earth Kingdom colonials who were well-known rebels back in their day," Hong Wu started.
"So, you were born in the Earth Kingdom, but you also have Fire Nation ancestry?" Ming asked.
"Yes. My father – I never even knew him."
"Did he die in the war?"
"Who knows? It could have been that, or maybe he just got tired of us."
Ming instantly started to feel sympathy for her ally. "Tell me about it," she said.
Hong Wu was reluctant at first, but he decided to get it off of his chest. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "After the Fire Nation killed my mother in a raid, I was confronted by a group consisting of people from all of the three remaining nations. They almost killed me, but then I was rescued."
The little, seven-year-old Hong Wu could hardly even hear. He was too traumatized by the events that had just transpired. He was being rushed to a medical tent by the soldiers who had saved him. He could just barely make out the words one of the soldiers spoke. "Don't worry; you are going to be okay." He knew this was not true. He had just lost his last remaining relative: his mother. Hong Wu was placed on a bed inside the tent. The little boy lay still as several figures loomed over him and he lost consciousness.
Several hours later, and everything was flickering. Hong Wu's eyes flickered until they finally opened. He sat up and screamed, frantically searching around the room. "Calm down, sweetie," said one of the nurses. "It is all over. The Fire Nation soldiers have been driven out of the area for now."
"I want to leave," said Hong Wu.
"No, honey, you should stay here and rest," said the nurse.
"I'm fine!" Hong Wu shouted. "Let me leave!" Hong Wu jumped down from his bed and ran outside.
The nurse tried to run after him, but Hong Wu had already left the tent before she could catch him. She was about to call for assistance, when she heard a voice from the entrance of the tent. "Don't bother," spoke a man with a black beard and wearing Earth Kingdom battle armor. "I'll go get him." And with that, the man left the tent and pursued Hong Wu.
Meanwhile, Hong Wu had run to the banks of a river and was down on his knees crying. As he wept, he was interrupted by the sound of a voice. "Why are you crying, son?" asked the man dressed in armor. Hong Wu was startled by the man. He had seemed to have come out of nowhere.
"I lost my mom and my home and, and--" Hong Wu was no longer able to continue speaking. He continued to weep. "I hate all of the nations! They all took away my mom!"
"Listen, son, crying won't do anything," said the man. "You have to let your grief out, but you cannot let it overwhelm you."
Hong Wu looked up at the man, wide-eyed. "I don't understand," he said.
"I know your mother died, and I know that must be extremely difficult, especially for a Xiji refugee like you, but you can't keep focusing on that all of the time. You need to grieve and then move on. If you let this incident overwhelm you, you will lose sight of everything. You can't hold all of the nations responsible for the actions of a group of refugees. The hatred will eat away at you rapidly. Always keep your mother in your heart and make sure you fight against those who took her away."
Hong Wu was silent before speaking again. "What is your name?" he asked.
"Xiang," he responded. The soldier dropped a bright, metal object in front of Hong Wu as walking away. "Come on," he called out. "Let's get you back to the tent."
Hong Wu looked at the object Xiang had dropped. It was a knife, and a fine one at that. He grabbed the handle, pulled it out of the ground, and examined it. Hong Wu was fascinated with the weapon. He just stared at it for another minute. Suddenly, he ran after Xiang with the knife in his hand. "Hey, wait up!" he called out.
Xiang turned around and looked down at the boy. "What? Do you want something?" he questioned.
"I want you to train me."
"Train you? Train you in what?"
"How to use one of these," Hong Wu said, pulling out the knife.
Xiang smiled at the boy. "I'd be happy to train you."
"He taught me everything I know about knife-fighting," said Hong Wu, now eighteen years old. "He was my mentor and inspiration."
"Wow, that is the saddest story I have ever heard," said Ming. "It's good that you had a teacher to look out for you."
"Yes, it really was," said Hong Wu. "Well, we should probably get to bed. We need all of the sleep we can get for tomorrow."
"Yeah, I guess so." Ming got up and proceeded back to her tent. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," said Hong Wu. He rolled over and went back to sleep.
It was morning. Hong Wu felt himself being jabbed by someone else. He opened his eyes and saw Hoku jabbing his side. "Come on, wake up," he ordered. "We need to start moving."
Hong Wu sat up and saw Ming and Konghe already awake. "Alright, fine. Let's go." The four of them started walking towards the rendezvous point, ready for a fight. They all mentally prepared themselves for what they would soon endure, as the battles of the conflict in Jeontu were spoken of in stories around soldiers' campfires, always being one of the scariest told. As the group trekked through the woods, they heard a rustling in the bushes. At first, Hong Wu dismissed it as merely a meadow vole running around, but then he heard it again. "Guys, did you hear that?" He asked.
"Yeah," said Ming. "I heard it." The four of them stood absolutely still for several moments, until they heard the stomping of feet. "Move!" ordered Ming. But it was too late. The group of four was surrounded by six komodo rhinos, each with a Fire Nation soldier on top.
The leader of the group was a man with a thin mustache and a small beard. He had black hair and a menacing smile. "Well, well, look what we have here," he spoke. "It looks like we've found ourselves a group of spider rats crawling around, trying to take out our leader."
"As if this pathetic group of weaklings could ever defeat General Reiko without their backup," said another, a man with a black beard and mustache. He also had several feathers on his head and a nose ring.
Hoku was noticeably upset. "What have you done with those Terra Team soldiers?!" he demanded.
"They are no more," said the leader. "And now you will be taken care of as well."
"Who are you guys?" asked Hong Wu.
"We are the Rough Rhinos," said the leader. "Allow me to introduce Yeh-Lu, Vachir, Ogodei, Kahchi, Mongke, and myself, Banhen."
"Listen, Banhen, unless you want me to come up there and stab you in the eye, I suggest you stand down," said Hong Wu.
"Oh, he is a feisty one," said the man with the nose ring, known as Mongke.
"Indeed he is," said Banhen. "He won't be so feisty, though, once he is dead." Hong Wu leapt up at Banhen, attempting to stab him in the eye, but he suddenly felt something wrapping around him. He looked over at the one called Ogodei and realized that he was being wrapped up in his bogo chains. Ming and Konghe took their Earthbending stances, while Hoku had his sword drawn. All of a sudden, they were surrounded by smoke. The one known as Yeh-Lu had blinded them with one of his smoke bombs. As the team tried to see through the smoke, they were all shot with Vachir's arrows and were neutralized. Hong Wu struggled until he too was hit by an arrow and everything went black.
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