|More from Graywand2||Action/Adventure/Military/Drama||PG-13||None|
It was the chill of the early morning as Ty Lee walked out onto the deck of the ship. She leaned out and breathed deeply of the salt smell of the sea before her eyes were drawn to the huge ugly rips of scars in the hull, the impressions even visible in the dim light of the early morning. The pirate raid had been a case of mistaken identity: at least on the surface. Fire Nation combat transports were modified freighters, and as soon as they encountered marines and Kyoshi Warriors the pirates had withdrawn, the enemy ship hitting the horizon at flank speed.
Still part of her didn't believe it: an attack less than twenty-four hours after the attempt on her life had failed. It took half that time for a messenger hawk to reach the area where the attack had happened. If they scrambled a ship to intercept they could've reached the area in time.
Wherever the Kempei are involved, she thought, the old adage returning to her mind. Paranoia and fear are soon to follow. The old adage applied even more after conversion from "defenders of the empire" to crime syndicate. She banished the errant thoughts and turned her attention to the rugged mountain shore of the Earth Kingdom looming in the distance. Nestled in those hills, she knew was Tezhue colony. It had been twelve days since the attack. Her and her small group, Michiko and Mai included, were still asleep below decks. In a few hours, when the sun peeked over the hills in front of her, they would make landfall, and their mission would begin. She sighed. If there had ever been a time when she could've turned back, it had long since passed.
Now, the only way out was forward, to whatever end awaited them. The fate of the people she loved and hated was riding on it.
She heard footsteps behind her and she turned to view Michiko walking towards her on the deck. The sixteen-year-old had a haunted look in her eyes as she walked over to the prow.
"Something wrong?" Ty Lee asked.
Michiko shook her head. "No. It's just, I've been thinking, about my husband. He died on a cool morning very much like this."
"You want to talk about it?"
"Not really, no," Michiko responded, before she started to stare at the rugged Earth Kingdom coast. "Major Nadzia didn't' seem to like the fact that Suki was saddling her with the command for another month."
"Nadzia seemed a bit prickly to me," Ty Lee remarked.
"Well, she always was a little overly officious, even last year before attacks by pirates reduced us to a couple companies, themselves scattered throughout the island. Right around the time Aang first showed up on our shores. It was part of the reason we were so hostile to him when we showed up. We had lost most of our strength, the last thing we needed was any...Fire Nation entanglements."
"Always be courteous from a position of strength, is that it?"
Michiko smiled. "Always. Then of course, we realized he was the Avatar and that was it."
Ty Lee nodded, then looked out over the water, watching as the coastline grew ever closer.
"What do you know about Tezhue?" Michiko asked a second later.
"Well," Ty Lee began. "It's one of our oldest colonies, founded about ten years before the war even started. The capital at Lakat is considered the jewel of the Colonies, and it's where our search will begin."
"Did your friend Zuko ever stop to consider the sheer size of the Earth Kingdom?" Michiko pointed out. "We could be wandering around the backcountry for years."
"I don't think we'll be out here for years," Ty Lee responded as she stared out at the coming shore.
"What makes you say that?"
"If the attempt of my life meant anything, it meant the Kempeitai is trying to stop us from finding Ursa," Ty Lee pointed out, "which means they probably have a better idea of where she is.
"So if we are forced into a conflict with the Kempeitai," Michiko said.
"They'll lead us straight to her."
Ty Lee stood on the sandy rocky shore and watched as the Victory's Crucible slowly sailed away over the horizon. She turned to view her compatriots behind her. Michiko and Mai stood behind her. Mai's face looked grim as she considered what they were doing, so much was riding on the success of the mission.
She looked down the coast to the east. Off around the curve were the docks, which they'd \avoided so as to avoid having the ship, and her passengers, entered into the records. Crucible was no doubt heading to the port for repairs.
Also down that way, was the road to Tezhue's capital of Lakat.
"Time to go, men," Ty Lee said. "The sooner we get going, the sooner we can all go home."
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