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|Lightning War, Part I|
Book One: Deceit
Writer Who Still Has to Make an Account
June 18, 2010
A ship in the middle of the sea
"I didn't do anything."
"Yes you did!"
"No, I didn't."
Kya giggled, running her fingers through her windblown hair as she leaned up against the railing. A wave splashed across the side of the boat, spraying tiny droplets onto her suntanned cheeks. Beside her, her brother Gyatso tapped his fingers lightly across the rail, an absent-minded smile playing on his lips as he watched Liv and Rohan's exchange.
"They're never gonna stop, are they?" he asked casually.
"Nope," Kya replied. "I think we're pretty much stuck with this for the rest of the trip."
Kya nodded, turning her blue gaze toward the rolling waves. Watching Liv and Rohan nearly kill each other over a bowl of strawberries had been highly enjoyable, but it was not enough to distract her from her misgivings about the night before. Katara had seemed certain that the airbender she had encountered in her dream was Aang. But how could that be possible when she had never met him? It made no sense, and yet Katara was so sure...
"WHAT THE HELL!? LET GO OF ME, BOOKWORM!"
Kya turned just in time to see Rohan haul Liv up into his arms and toss her over the side of the boat. Liv shrieked as she plummeted down toward the restless waters. Rohan smirked victoriously, crossing his muscular arms over his chest.
And then Liv's arm shot out and grabbed his ankle.
Stunned, Kya watched as Rohan was dragged slowly over the edge, struggling the entire time to find something to hold onto. Beside her, Gyatso burst out in laughter until his face turned red and tears formed in the corners of his blue eyes. Rohan shot him a death glare before he disappeared amongst the waves.
"Oops," Kya giggled. "Well... I guess we have to pull them out, hm?"
"Hey," Gyatso replied, "you're the waterbender. Have fun!"
Rolling her eyes, Kya walked over to where Liv and Rohan had vanished. Beneath the surface, she could just barely make out two murky shapes. They still seemed to be tearing at each other...
Highly amused, Kya raised one hand casually into the air.
Immediately, a huge wave splashed across the deck. Liv and Rohan landed heavily beside her, still engaged in their struggle. Amber eyes filled with fury, Liv clawed at Rohan's handsome face as though in an attempt to gouge his eyes out.
"Kya!" she complained. "Why'd you have to intervene!? He was gonna run out of air if I kept him down there for a few more minutes!"
"But so would you –"
"That's irrelevant!" Liv snapped in a tone that suggested the matter was closed.
"Hey," Rohan began.
"And you," Liv went on venomously, whirling around to glare at Rohan. "You need to keep your stupid goat-gorilla hands to yourself! Gosh, you people are so annoying!"
"Liv," Rohan pressed.
"I mean, seriously! What do I have to do to make you all buzz off and leave me alone!? Why can't you just mind your own business!?"
"Liv," Rohan repeated calmly.
Liv finally ceased in her rant, breathing heavily as she stared him down. His expression utterly neutral, Rohan reached out toward her.
In his hands was the bowl of strawberries that had started the entire thing.
"Aw!" Kya squealed. "So cute! Now, Liv, give Rohan a big hug for saving your fruit."
Liv glared at Rohan for a moment longer before snatching the bowl from his hands and storming away. Rohan merely shrugged his shoulders and strolled off in the other direction.
"HEY, EVERYONE! LAND!"
"Oh, good lord," Rohan groaned, resting his face in his palms.
Sokka had come tearing down the stairs from the upper balcony, his expression excited and childlike at the prospect of reaching their destination. He immediately veered over to Rohan, patting his son heartily on the back. Rohan's face flushed deep scarlet.
"Hey, son!" Sokka said cheerfully. "Ready to kick some serious butt out there!?"
"Yeah, Dad," Rohan muttered. "Sure thing."
"That's my boy!" Sokka gushed. "Gotta go tell your mom!"
"Dad..." Rohan complained as Sokka darted off.
"Rohan, you're so lucky!" Kya sighed dreamily. "You have the coolest dad on the face of the earth. I wish I got to hang out with my dad like you get to with Sokka."
"Seriously, man," Gyatso agreed. "Sokka's awesome!"
"Believe me, you guys have no idea what you're talking about," Rohan replied.
"Hey, guys. Get ready, we're landing soon."
Kya turned around to see Zuko standing in the place that Sokka had appeared from just moments before. He looked winded, Kya thought. He had probably had to defend himself from Sokka on the way.
"'Kay, Zuko!" Kya greeted him cheerfully. "Want some strawberries?"
"No thanks, I'm good," Zuko said, turning around to leave. "Make sure you're ready by the time we get there."
"You got it, Z-man!" Gyatso called. "We're there for ya!"
Zuko stopped briefly, his shoulders stiffening in response to the disgusting nickname, and then continued on his way at a much faster pace.
Gyatso watched him go before nodding his head coolly.
"We got this, girl," he told Kya. "Let's do this thing! YEAH-YA!"
Kya smiled in response to Gyatso's best imitation of a man's voice. Well, it was nice of him to try, anyway.
A dimly lit room...
"Um...sir? They're almost here. We can see them from up in the watch house."
"Well, what do you want us to do?"
"You know the plan?"
"Yes, of course, but..."
"Then do your job. I don't want a single one of them left."
"Sir, if I may... They're Team Avatar. Can we really take them out?"
"Knowing the Fire Lord, he won't have brought many reinforcements. He'll want to handle this by himself, prove to his nation that he's capable of keeping control. Besides, as you said, it's Team Avatar. They may have gotten lucky with the Comet, but what are they without Avatar Aang? Just a few benders thrown together from random areas of the world. You shouldn't have much difficulty."
"Well, alright, sir. We'll do our best."
The docks at dusk
Almost immediately after the boat docked, Zuko led the way into the city. He looked around briefly, his golden eyes flashing warily, and inhaled sharply. Then, he moved aside to let the others off.
Liv raised her eyebrows and shook her head amusedly, following her father. Kya walked beside her, chattering about nothing in particular. She was excited about what they were about to find – and nervous. In truth, she had been expecting the riot to be more...well...riotous. She had imagined utter chaos and destruction in the city.
What she encountered was quite different. The entire place was completely silent. Not a person was to be found in the streets. Not a single shop was open. Everything was just...quiet.
'Weird,' she thought. Where is everyone?
"Hey, Zuko!" Cyrene called. "You sure this is the right place?"
Zuko turned around, his gaze sweeping over his group. His face was calm, but his jaw was set firmly. Clearly, this was not what he had been expecting either.
"Yeah," he said. "This is the place."
"It's awfully quiet," Gyatso noted. "Not exactly the picture of disaster."
They stood there for a long moment, taking in the scene before them. The only movement came from the Fire Fountain in the middle of the city, which stood in a tall spiral that spouted fire and oil. Kya remembered being told that the fountain had once stood in the form of Fire Lord Ozai, Zuko's father. She had never heard anything more ridiculous in her life. What kind of guy needed to have a fountain shaped like him to feel good about himself?
Talk about self-esteem issues... she thought sarcastically.
"Hey, guys, I feel something," Toph piped up suddenly. "There's a lot of movement coming this way!"
"Movement like people or movement like a herd of gemsbok-bulls?" Sokka asked.
No one bothered to answer.
"They're really close!" Toph warned. "They're going to attack!"
As soon as the words left her mouth, they were surrounded. People were charging at them from the alleyways, armed with swords and spears and any other sharp items they had acquired throughout the organization of their revolt. Most of the unarmed ones looked like they could be skilled firebenders; others appeared to be ordinary people – artisans or farmers... Kya had thought that the members of a riot would look more like soldiers, but these people just looked like...people.
Immediately, Kya fell into a defensive position, readying herself for a counterattack. She was instantly grateful for her quick reflexes, because a split-second after she readied herself, one of the rioters launched himself at her. He was holding a long spear, and his eyes blazed with determination. Holding her arms gracefully in front of her, Kya sent forth a stream of water that knocked the weapon from his hands and sent him flying backward. All around her, she could hear the sounds of her companions fighting back against their attackers, being careful to simply disarm the opponents. None of them wanted a bloodbath here, but Kya could not help but think as she turned to block another attack that this had the potential to get a bit violent...
A blast of fire to her left caught her attention. Kya pushed her adversary away and turned to see a huge firebender standing beside her, preparing to attack again. Quickly, she lashed her water out in the form of a whip, breaking his stance and sending his next attack off in another direction. Without giving him a chance to prepare for another offensive, Kya used her water whip to knock him off of his feet and onto the ground. Then, she raised one hand, preparing to deliver a final strike to keep him down.
Her concentration was broken by the sound of a shrill whistle in the distance. Confused, Kya twisted her neck in the direction of the noise.
At once, the rebels began to fall back into the dark alleys. In fact, their retreat happened so quickly that Kya scarcely noticed it before they had all gone. The firebender with whom she had been fighting leaped to his feet and followed his companions into the dimly lit streets. Within seconds, every one of them had disappeared.
Kya stopped. Her blue gaze flitted over each of her friends, taking in their reactions. Sokka was frozen in some kind of ridiculous pose, his sword raised above his head as if to strike the ground. The rest had relaxed from their battle positions, each bearing the same confused look that she knew she herself wore. Only Rohan appeared completely unfazed, sheathing his sword calmly and crossing his arms over his chest.
"Well, um..." Zuko began, glancing around anxiously. "I...um... I suppose we should –"
"They're splitting up," Toph warned him, "into three groups. Each is headed in a different direction."
"Why don't we do the same?" Katara suggested. "We'll be able to defeat them more efficiently than if we go after one group at a time."
"Uh... Yeah! Yeah, that's what we'll do," Zuko agreed. "Okay, how about... Sokka and Kya, you can come with me. Katara, you can lead a group with...Gyatso, Cyrene, and Rohan. Toph, you take Liv and Suki. Can you feel what direction they're headed in?"
"They kept it simple," Toph replied. "One group went to the right, one to the left, and the other toward the Fire Fountain."
"Alright, my group will go to the Fire Fountain. Katara, you go left and, Toph, you go right. Everyone okay with that?"
"YEAH!" Sokka roared. "Let's show these rebels what happens when they mess with Team Avatar!"
"And... the rest of us!" Gyatso finished lamely. "Team Avatar and Friends!"
In a general hush, the others began to take their places in their assigned groups. As she walked beside Zuko and Sokka, Kya glanced over her shoulder at the other two teams. She had a bad feeling about splitting up... She could only hope that she was wrong.
- We watched an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos as inspiration. At least, that was the excuse we came up with.
- The scene where Rohan and Liv are fighting over strawberries was actually written while Stormfire and the co-writer fought over a real bowl of strawberries.
- Gyatso's character was inspired by all the lovably dense guys we've ever met.
- The chapter is titled "Lightning War" not because any lightning is actually involved. The chapter was named that because the quick "hit and run" strategy of the rioters was inspired by a real battle strategy called Blitzkrieg, or lightning war, which was extensively employed during World War 2.
For the collective works of the author, go here.