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11 February 2012
End of the line, people!
Moving Forward is the epilogue of.
The story comes to an end as Zuko is re-coronated as Fire Lord, and Katara gets to see an old friend.
Fire Nation Capital, 18 September, 12:00
Once again, just like the exact ceremony almost two years to the date, the sun shined down on a beautiful day on the Fire Nation Capital. Representatives and symbols from the other nations joined Fire Nation citizens in the plaza as they prepared for Zuko to take the throne again in the aftermath of the Weatherbending conflict.
The Fire Nation Capital was still somewhat destroyed as a result of the battle. The northeastern corner of the city was totally closed off to all citizens due to severe damage attained during the battle. Other streets were closed for further clean-up. Affected persons had found other locations to quarter themselves during the clean-up operation. Estimates were one to two weeks for cleanup of the city because of some of the damage sustained.
Back at the Royal Plaza, everyone was gathered and exchanging idle conversation while waiting for the re-coronation ceremony. With moments, a gong was sounded by a Fire Sage to start the ceremony. Emerging to the view of the people were Avatar Aang, Zuko, and General Tizou. They all got rounds of applause from everyone in attendance, which included all the members of Team Avatar. Zuko was again decorated in his royal robes and armor, with Aang returning to the monk's look he had established after Sozin's Comet.
"Good afternoon." Tizou began. "On this eighteenth day of September, we mark the official end of the latest conflict that has nearly divided our world again. However, perseverance proved the key over the previous thirty days. Today, here, we stand. As you know, we have many people to thank. Attendees of this ceremony today include many of the men who formed the army which helped re-conquer the Fire Nation Capital! Please show your thanks for them, as they too helped significantly in driving Zorro's men out!"
The crowd applauded for the Fire Nation Rebel Army, which would from that day onward be merged back into the regular army.
After the applause died down, Tizou resumed his speech. "Of course, there are two others we can't thank enough, the two young men on this stage today who have helped save and lead the world. Ladies and gentlemen, Avatar Aang and Zuko!"
A thunderous applause erupted for the Avatar and the Fire Lord, and they each put their hands up to the crowd before them as they applauded their efforts. The two then each looked towards Katara and Mai, respectively, and each gave them loving smiles, which the two girls returned to their respective boyfriends.
"Now," Tizou started again after this applause ended. "For those of you familiar with the Fire Nation political system, you know that in the event of an overthrow, the leader of the overthrowing organization becomes the ruler. As a result, I became Fire Lord upon the surrender of Zorro's men. However, I also have the right to pass on that title. Myself, my fellow generals, and the Fire Sages unanimously agreed on the act to transfer the title. Henceforth, at this point, I will say no more to you. Fire Sages, please do the honor."
A Fire Sage holding the Fire Lord headpiece came up to just behind Zuko, while Zuko took a bow. "By formal decree of now exiting Fire Lord Tizou, I hereby pass the crown along to the designated successor! Once again...all hail Fire Lord Zuko!"
The headpiece was again placed on Zuko's head, and the Fire Lord stood up to another round of tremendous applause. He again stood as the leader of the Fire Nation, without question. He was given his second chance.
Zuko waited for the crowd to settle before speaking again. "Thank you, everyone. It is such an honor to once again speak as your leader. Over the past two years, we have worked hard to restore the world to its prewar state. Over the past 30 days, we suffered a large setback. However, as General Tizou said, we persevered. I can't thank any of the men who fought for the rebellion that ended Zorro's reign enough." During this sentence, he also looked towards his good friend, Aang. "We now need to re-focus and get the world back on track towards peace. I hope everyone can join us in reversing the affects the past month has brought on us. I am glad to see the work here is already paying off. However, it's not just here, all of the nations need to get back up on their feet, and as citizens not just of the Fire Nation, but the entire world, it's up to us to help! I look forward to working with all of you, and of course, the Avatar will be right along with us."
Aang nodded in agreement as Zuko finished up that part his speech.
"For today," Zuko resumed, "This is a day of celebration. War is once again over, and we can celebrate a newly-established peace! Let us enjoy today, and proceed to work towards a better tomorrow! I thank all of you."
The crowd erupted in one final round of applause for the Fire Lord's speech, proud to call him Fire Lord Zuko again.
While talking amongst the crowd of citizens, soldiers and whatnot continued outside, Team Avatar met for one more time. They sat at a large table, once again with Zuko and Mai at the forefront. The rest sat in various locations, of course the couples sitting next to each other.
"I guess this is it," Aang said. "I guess we are heading our separate ways again, now that our mission's complete."
"Don't forget the unresolved matter," Zuko said. "Weatherbending. The spirits will have to remove the knowledge from the world."
"We shouldn't have to worry about that," the Avatar responded. "I think they will be able to remove the knowledge from everyone without having to tamper with anything. It might be a weird, overnight thing, but we should have the knowledge withdrawn from us at some point."
"As weird as they all were," Toph said, "I'm going to kind of miss all the oddball weather changes. They were...I don't know, interesting. You know, go from hot to cold in seconds..."
"Or from a sunny day to a blizzard," Sokka recalled one of the first events that sparked the latest run of events.
"We'll have to have a new round of meetings now," Zuko reminded Aang. "Slowly, peace is going to have to be re-established. It likely won't be as many as following the War, but they'll have to be had. I'll let you know when the first one is, Aang."
"I'll be there," Aang assured his good friend.
"So...this is it," Katara said slowly. "It's time for us all to move along...Aang, Sokka and I have to head back to the South Pole. Dad will want help getting this cleaned up and getting reconstruction started."
"That reminds me," the Fire Lord again spoke. "Katara, Sokka, pass the world along to your father that the Fire Nation pledges support for the next round of reconstruction. I told Tizou this earlier, and he agreed to allow support to the South Pole."
The Water Tribe siblings gave Zuko an appreciative smile. "Thank you," Sokka said. "We'll need all the help we can get."
"My parents are probably waiting for me," Toph added. "Also, it's time to get my academy going again. I think by now the students are sick of hearing 'The Boulder wants you to...'" She finished by deepening her voice and then laughing, the rest of the team joining in on the laugh.
"I still have to lead the Kyoshi Warriors, bad ankle regardless," Suki added, then placing her hand over Sokka's. "Don't forget to write me, love," she then finished a kiss on his cheek.
Sokka squeezed Suki's hand tighter. "Of course I won't forget," he replied with a re-assuring smile.
"These past thirty days have been pretty vital to all of us, I think," the Avatar started. "We of course have our old relationships still, but we have discovered some new friendships too, and just how close and united we all are. I'm not saying I'd prefer the conflict over peace, but I am sort of glad this did happen. Taking this new global journey has definitely brought us all closer together. I'm glad we had the chance."
The team nodded in agreement. They knew Aang was right, it was certainly a bonding experience for all parties.
"I'm going to miss you all," Katara added. "We'll have to come together again someday."
"Anytime," Mai said with a smile.
With that, all the group members rose and walked over to each other in a group. The seven young men and women present then united in a group hug before they would separate once again for whatever amount of time.
Their journey was over.
They could now enjoy peace.
Though they would be separate, their bonds would never break, not even with time.
Two weeks later, Kyoshi Island
After taking time to settle back in the Southern Water Tribe, Aang, Katara and Sokka got an invite from Suki to come to Kyoshi Island. Suki had been anxious to see Sokka again and had also made a promise to Katara she wanted to keep.
It was in the early autumn night that she finally awoke and decided to take the visit on her own.
Walking to see the fallen.
To finally say goodbye.
She held in her hand the same "T.L." wristband she had worn two weeks previous in the epic battle. Although it had been tattered somewhat, it remained in good shape. She also held the painting of her and Ty Lee hugging that she had pulled out during the journey during a night of remembrance. Attached to it was a small note with the simple words: "I love you, sis. --Katara"
After she left, it had turned out her steps had stirred a certain someone. He got out of bed and placed on some of his robing and looked to see that she was already distant. After some time looking around, he found a flower, then followed the same path her footprints had left in the ground.
Meanwhile, Katara arrived at the grave, proceeding to fall on her knees. There, she saw the words on Ty Lee's gravestone that, to her, couldn't have rang more true.
A brave warrior,
A great friend,
and a savior.
Born: 13 March, 86 AG,
"Sister...savior," Katara muttered to herself as tears dripped down her cheeks. She then placed the picture on the side of the gravestone, just before where the dirt was piled. Further, she placed the wristband on the right, and then began a speech to her.
"Hey...Ty Lee...it's me, Katara. I just wanted you let you know that we won. We avenged you...saved the world...your memory is still with us. It's been a long, hard past month since you died...I still find it hard to not think about you. All the memories...laughs...tears...it seemed like we were inseparable...friends for life. Even though you are gone...I know you're still with me. I saw you during my final fight. Your memory never fades. I hope you know that you'll always be with all of us. Oh...if only I could have said goodbye...well, here it is, sis. Thank you..." the tears came faster now. "Thank you...for saving me...you proved quite courageous, like I knew you were...I...just...thank you. Now...as much as it hurts...here I go. Goodbye...Ty Lee...even though you're gone...you're still always like my sister...and I love you."
As she continued to cry, she noticed a flower fall on to the pile of dirt that topped off her grave, and then felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see the young man whose head was decorated with a mere arrow, the grey eyes wearing a look of sadness, and the young man decorated in yellow monk's robing and an Airbender pendant. "Hey..." she whispered.
"Hey," Aang replied. "I should have known you'd be here..."
"You know me too well," Katara responded, forcing a smile in her sadness. "Oh...I just...I couldn't wait. I had to sneak out now..."
"I understand," the Avatar responded, wiping some tears from her cheeks with his thumb. "It's hard...she was your best friend..but, just remember that her sacrifice wasn't in vain. If she doesn't do that..you don't get that second chance at Kianna...who knows? The Fire Nation may have captured the South Pole, and Zorro would still have a chance at taking the world. What she did was not just for you, but for everyone. Of course, it's easy to see it as for you...but in all reality, she also helped save the whole world. I'll always remember her for that."
"I guess she did," the young Waterbender replied. "I still miss her...Aang...can you make a promise? I want to see Ty Lee once a year...at this same spot. The nineteenth day of August...please. I would like that."
"Of course we can," Aang said with a smile. "Why not? It would be great to honor her memory every year. She deserves it."
"Thank you," Katara replied, before looking back to the flower Aang had placed. It was grey with eight petals around it. "What is that flower, Aang? I've never seen it before."
"This is what the Air Nomads called a goodwill flower," Aang explained. "If someone passed away, and they gave their life to help others, this flower would be planted next to their graves. I didn't know if they existed outside our Air temples, but it looks like they did. Ty Lee has definitely earned this flower. I'll plant it now." With that, he dug some dirt out next to the gravestone and placed the flower in the small hole, then closed it up to lock the flower in place.
"That was very thoughtful of you, Aang," Katara replied with a smile.
"She deserves it for sure," the Avatar added. "While she did help to save the world...I also have to thank her for keeping this special someone with me..." With that, he leaned in and gave his girlfriend a light kiss.
Katara accepted the kiss happily, knowing that even though her best friend was gone, she still had her love with her.
"Come on, it's late," Aang said. "We should get some rest."
"Yeah," Katara replied. She then turned back to the grave one more time. "Goodbye, Ty Lee...I'll see you next year."
Thus, the couple returned home under the serene sky, the moon shining brightly and the stars visible.
They knew there was peace.
They knew she would never be forgotten.
But they knew she saved not just one life but countless others.
Her memory lived forever.
Thirty years later
The world had gone through a series of events after the Weatherbending conflict came to an end. First and foremost, the remaining members of the Meteorologists were executed in 103 AG. Ezan was executed after being convicted of high treason against the Fire Nation in April of that year. In July, Kianna was executed by the Water Tribes for treasonous actions, and also the attempted murder of the Southern Prince and Princess. Thus, the Meteorologists were now out of existence.
Weatherbending was removed from the world over the month of October, 102 AG. That same month, Fire Lord Zuko ordered a raid on the old Meteorologist headquarters, where they seized the Weatherbending scrolls. The ones Reeaki possessed were given to Hashidi for return when the former left the Avatar's world. As a result, the three guardians of the art re-possessed all the knowledge, and buried it deeply down in Wan Shi Tong's Library. The spot where the library once stood is now guarded by former knowledge seekers.
In the Southern Water Tribe, a series of changes had occurred. The tribe had re-constructed to beyond its former glory of before the Southern Raiders. It was looking more like its sister tribe in many respects.
In 124 AG, Chief Hakoda sadly passed away at the age of 71, due to a heart attack. By the request he made postwar, Sokka became the chief of the Southern Water Tribe. Chief Sokka's reign was eight years old, and he was working his hardest to balance the duties of chief, husband, and father. He had married Suki in 104 AG, with the latter leaving the Kyoshi Warriors to move south with her husband. The couple had four children: The eldest was one of their sons, Hedoya, was 19 years old and was now the Prince of the Southern Water Tribe. Next was Kysana, a 15-year old daughter. Despite the fact that neither of her parents were benders, she was a Waterbender. Their third child was their second daughter, Milena, age 12. She was not a bender, but was perfecting her fighting skills under her mother. The youngest was the couple's second son, Baloka. He was just nine, but was proving to be quite the smart young man.
A short distance from Chief Sokka's palace lived another married couple. Avatar Aang and Katara married in 105 AG, and the marriage had produced three kids of their own. The eldest was a female Waterbender, Kya II, age 17. Waterbending didn't come easy to the young woman, but she had been picking it up greatly over the past three years. Their second was also a daughter and Waterbender, Kintia. She was 13, and unlike her sister, Waterbending came easier to her. The third child was their only son and only Airbender, Tenzin. He was 11, and just like his father, he was a young Airbending prodigy.
In the living room, Kya placed her parka on and prepared for the trip to come. Just like her mother, she too was close friends with a Kyoshi Warrior, and was anxious to see her again.
"Kintia! Tenzin! Hurry, Uncle Sokka and Aunt Suki are expecting us!" Aang yelled upstairs to his youngest children. Soon, Kintia came, but as Tenzin was on his way down, the Avatar stopped him. "Wait, Tenzin, show your siblings and mother what you have been learning."
Katara, Kya, and Kintia came to the base of the stairs.
"Dad, I don't know...what if I fall?" Tenzin asked nervously.
"Son," Aang began. "If you want to be a bender, you have to let go of fear. Don't worry...I know you can do this."
With that, Tenzin took a deep breath and jumped up. He then created a ball of air and got himself on it quickly. The young Airbender came down over the stairs on the air scooter, holding his control over it quite well, finally landing smoothly on the floor, still standing.
"See that?" Aang said as he grew a grin on his face, and then placed his hands on his son's shoulders. "I knew you could do it...you're just like me when I was younger. A young Airbending star...keep this up, and you will be a master within two years. Now come on, get your coat. We must be going."
"Thanks Dad," Tenzin replied, and dashed off to get his jacket.
"He is just like you, huh?" Katara said to her husband, placing her arms around the front of his body and kissing him on his cheek. "You've taught him well, hun."
"You have also taught Kya and Kintia quite well," Aang replied. "I knew you would make a great instructor."
"I was nervous about it at first," the Avatar's wife said, "but, you always had faith in me. Now, everyone says I'm world-renowned. I think that's too far..."
"Nonsense," Aang replied with a poke to her cheek. "Come on, don't sell yourself short."
With that, the couple's children came together, showing they were ready to head off. "I can't believe it's already been 30 years since that day..." Katara murmured.
"30 years, yes..." Aang replied. "That was one of the saddest days I can recall. However, like I have said before...if it wasn't for her...we wouldn't have this beautiful family."
Sometime later, the couple made their way to Appa. Although he was not quite the fast bison he was three decades earlier, he was still agile in his old age. Sokka, Suki, and their children were waiting. After hellos and other forms of greetings were exchanged, the group boarded Appa.
"I can't wait to see home again," Suki remarked. "Another year passed..."
"It's been great watching the island grow into what it is now," Sokka added. "Used to be just some small villages, now they've managed a city...Oyaji did well in his leadership. Also, the Kyoshi Warriors have developed amazingly, now being hired as a guarding force even in other parts of the world. You definitely left them a lot to work with, and they made the most of it."
"Hey Kya," Kysana said. "I challenge you to a Waterbending duel when we get there!"
"Oh, it is so on," Kya replied. "Ready to lose four times in a row?"
"Oh, didn't your mother tell you how far I have developed? You're going to eat those words!" Kysana fired back.
"She's right, Kya," Katara noted. "Kysana has become a very good fighter. She has won several consecutive training spars."
"No matter," Kya declared. "I'm still going to kick your butt, Kysana!"
The parents laughed as their children trash-talked at one another. "I guess all will be settled once we arrive," Sokka said.
"Appa, yip yip!" Aang commanded, and the sky bison took the air, headed for the island once more.
In the Fire Nation, things had also changed largely. The first thing to note was that the nation now had its first Fire Lady since Ilah, as Fire Lord Zuko and Mai were married in 104 AG. The couple, like Katara and Aang, had three children. The firstborn was a son, Zinko. He was 21 and was the Crown Prince, and was also a Firebending master. Their secondborn, a 16-year old daughter named Azalea, was the Crown Princess. She was also a bender, but had struggles gaining a mastery of the art. However, Zuko had given her plenty of encouragement, as he too had struggled during his early life with bending. She was getting better every day. The third child was a son, however, he was a non-bender. His name was Buzai, age 12. He, however, is taking from his mother and learning weaponry, making him just as much a threat as any bender.
"Okay Buzin," Fire Lady Mai said to her son. "Show your Dad just how good you have become."
A target was placed on a pillar of the throne room. Zuko lowered his flames to watch his son go to work. Buzai held three darts under his robing, and prepared to fire. When he did, the darts hit in the bullseye. Buzai was happy to see all his training had paid off.
"Right on the money," Zuko remarked. "Well done, Buzai."
"When I first learned I wasn't a bender," Buzai remarked, "I was so upset....but, you guys really helped me get past it and make the most of what I had. Thanks, Mom and Dad."
"Just because you can't bend doesn't mean you can't be special," Zuko replied. "Ask your mother about that," he looked towards his wife and smiled.
Mai smiled sheepishly and even blushed a little.
"I remember when I used to tease you for not being a Firebender," Zinto said to his little brother. "I guess I should take that back before I get darts in my stomach," he added with a laugh. "Nice job, little bro." He held his hand out for a high five.
Buzai returned the high five. "Thanks, Zinto. Yeah, you'd better run!" He also laughed.
Azalea watched the performance and shoved Zinto playfully. "I always believed in you, Buzai!"
"No you didn't, Azalea," Zinto replied. "Come on, you used to join me in teasing him!"
"Who will you believe?" Azalea asked her little brother. "Him...or your sweet, loving big sister?"
Zuko and Mai shared a laugh as their children continued their teasing. "All right kids," Zuko said. "We can have this discussion later. It's almost dinner time, come on."
In the Earth Kingdom, there were many changes. Aang and Zuko helped set up a new land called "United Republic", its capital Republic City, in previously uninhabited areas of the western part of the Kingdom. This was a land where displaced colonists and citizens of other nations could live together in harmony.
Toph was now the premier Earthbending teacher. She had also married and had a daughter of her own, Wei Bei Fong. Wei was a master, just like her mother. All the meanwhile, Toph was teaching Metalbending to her students, sending some of them to the new Republic City to help form a new police force. Toph's parents were still alive, helping to care for Wei while Toph was teaching Earthbending all through the country.
Weatherbending was not spoken of after the conflict, no one dared try to bring it back. The Fire Nation still had not reached the average temperatures it had prior to 102 AG, still about 2.6°C below that point. Ba Sing Se was still about 1.2°C above their normal that was in effect before the conflict. Its dangers were known enough amongst the mortals.
There were the occasional disruptions in the world, including a crime rate that had ticked up in Republic City over the last five years, crimes being caused by non-benders. Regardless, the world was at a steady pace of peace. It was perfect for Avatar Aang, he had finally been able to relax with his wife, Katara, and also help be a father to his offspring.
Finally, his work was done.
He could live out his life as close as he could to a true Air Nomad.
Would the next Avatar be able to claim that?
The idea to skip ahead to thirty years later comes from the epilogue of, which also had a large time skip.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Changing Weather - Not Your Typical Days - Regathering the Team - Into the Fire Nation - The Masters of Weather - The Meteorologists Attack - Recovery and Disasters - Searching for Instruction - Reeaki's Arrival - Training - Reverberations - A Dire Warning - Can We Hold Together? - Last Preparations - The Final Showdown, Part 1 - The Final Showdown, Part 2 - Survivors of the Conflict - Moving Forward
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