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Book 1: Ba Sing Se
June 17th, 2011
This chapter takes place in Ba Sing Se, about a month after Sozin's Comet. Ba Sing Se University classes are back in session now that the Fire Nation Occupation is over, and information about the war is starting to be released little by little to the world especially Ba Sing Se.
One of my character's names is Lian, yes I know that is a major character in the fanon Wanted, but I had come up with the name before I had started reading Wanted. I considered changing it, but I liked it too much, and multiple people can have the same name, so I'm keeping it.
I'll add more pictures later, haven't quite figured out how to source them correctly, so they just get deleted. Guess I haven't read up on all the policies yet. Well, I'll get to it soon, feel free to add one if you think it is appropriate, otherwise, just enjoy(hopefully).
Peace. The War is over. That's what they keep telling us. What war? They do their best to hide a supposed world war from us and now they tell us it's over. Everything is good and fine one day, and the next, the Fire Nation army invades the streets of our city and the Dai Li, supposed protectors of the city, were actually assisting their overtaking. Nobody had any idea what was going on. Then after a few months of occupation, Sozin's comet came. We all feared the worst, but were liberated by some group of old guys, each a master of their own art. One hundred years? This sure seems like a few months to me. Peace and kindness is going to be spread in the world now. People will be happy. But nothing has changed. Poverty and crime run rampant in the lower ring. And crime has only gotten worse since the Dai Li left. At least we're finally learning something new in history classes rather than the same old garbage that they keep feeding us about the different nations and how they have evolved over time. I've always been skeptical, but play it safe when it actually comes to discussing the topic. Until now of course. Now we get to learn about what actually has gone on these last 100 years, or at least what they want us to think. I still doubt we'll get the truth seeing as wars always seem to get convoluted in the history books. And they never even -
"Cheng! Pupil Cheng!!"
"UH," Cheng jolts awake from a massive daydream.
"I asked you a question," repeated Professor Xiang.
Please repeat it. Please repeat it. Please repeat it.
"What's your answer?" Professor Xiang.
"Err" Why couldn't he have just repeated the question? "I'm, sorry I don't think I heard you right, what did you ask?"
Xiang sighed heavily, "Not listening again aren't we, Cheng. Did you even read the texts I gave to you?"
"The Testaments of Fire Lord Sozin, yes I went through them, I found them lacking in descriptions of the actual battles he led, focusing too much on his personal life," Cheng lied making something up on the spot as usual. Only reading the first few pages of the first testament, he could only get a general idea of what might have occurred through the rest of them.
"You make a good point. The start of the war is what we want to focus on here."
YES, got away with another one, Cheng prided himself again. He had the uncanny ability to make up a good answer based on only a small amount of actual studying.
"But, we also want to learn about the history behind how it got started, why the Firelord wanted to do so, and his background," Xiang responded, not realizing it was all off the top of his head. "And what better way to learn about his background than from his own writings. As you should know, the Fire Nation was more advanced in a technological sense and thought this was what made a nation happy and successful. He wanted to spread their success and happiness to other nations. But the other nations were happy and successful in their own ways. They did not want to change. But Sozin still wanted to expand whether the others wanted his influence or not. Some may think that Sozin had good intentions, but invaded when denied due to his desire for power. Others think he planned to invade either way, always having foul intentions."
Xiang was a very insightful teacher always stating different sides to a story allowing for great discussion and sometimes argument to take place. He was definitely the easiest teacher for Cheng to talk to. And although Cheng daydreamed off in his class, it was nowhere near as much as he did in other classes. Teachers always made the difference for Cheng and for history class, it is always important for discussion to take place. Xiang could create a discussion environment so easily, not just with the questions he asked and points of view he expressed, but also with his kindhearted attitude toward class which made students feel more comfortable and open up more. He often just let his students run away with the discussion. Cheng usually did not make any attempt to be friendly with his teachers, but Xiang was the exception. Not only would Cheng talk to Xiang outside of class, but the two of them were actually able to be informal with each other, on a first name basis, but only when out of class. Cheng was not known for opening up to anyone, so in class, they stayed formal.
Xiang had now gotten the class into and in depth discussion on whether Fire Lord Sozin had any good intentions before he started the war. Cheng only semi-focused on what was being discussed while wishing he could be doing something more exciting. Going to school and being a common city boy was quite the boring life, and now hearing of these crazy adventures that some teenage kids went on to "save the world" and end the war got Cheng's mind racing about adventures he could have.
"Okay students, class is dismissed for today," Xiang said, releasing the students. As usual, he had gone over the allotted time for his class, everyone being consumed by the intense discussion going on. "Don't forget to read The Final Testament of Fire Lord Sozin for the next class!" Xiang tried to get out before all the students rushed their way out of the room. Only some heard the reminder, but most students always remembered the assignment anyway always wanting to have the best input for the next discussion. Cheng had no interest though, not really caring much about menial arguments about information that he had suspected was often falsified or altered to try to hide the truth from the common people.
Cheng followed out of the room into the main courtyard looking for his friends from other classes so they could go to dinner together. Ba Sing Se University had a large campus in the middle ring. There were many large classrooms designed for lectures with many students and other buildings with many smaller rooms intended for extended learning with group discussions. Buildings were scattered all over the campus usually sectioned by subjects, but all led into the main courtyard where students could meet up and often study together.
As usual he was the last one of his friends out into the courtyard, due to the lengthy class. They always liked to play games, making him search for where they might be today. He stayed within the mass of students strategically hiding himself behind larger people while he tried to spot his friends. Shin-Ji always the easiest to spot being the tallest, hair having a reddish brown color as compared to the common black hair of most people. Unfortunately they were sitting today as Cheng noticed them all in chairs in front of the administration building talking amongst themselves.
Now how to sneak up on them, Cheng thought to himself, always making it a challenge to outsmart their new positions each day. Cheng swiftly moved between the people crowding the courtyard to position himself past their line of vision. The only easy point of access without being seen is to come from around the side of the building. They were positioned in the chairs nearest the right end of the building all facing out towards the history building that Cheng had just left from. He ran to the side of the building and with his back against the wall side stepped his way towards the corner of the building. Keeping his breathing as quiet as possible he stepped around the corner putting his hands on the back of Shin-Ji's chair.
"So where we eating today!" Cheng said loudly enough to startle the group. Minh jumped out of her chair nearly screaming. Zhong simply turned in surprise. Shin-Ji though jumped and turned as fast as he could to punch Cheng in the chest. Expecting it though, Cheng blocked the strike and said, "Haha, I Gotcha," in response.
"To The Monk's Pub, you jerk," Minh said responding to the question. Minh was a shorter girl, dark brown almost black hair, and a pretty good personality. Everyone got up to head to Monk's, and she immediately grabbed for Shin-Ji's hand. The two had been dating for a few months now and seemed to be a pretty good couple together.
"Well if you didn't always play tricks on me and move around, I wouldn't have to play tricks on you and surprise you. It's your own fault really," Cheng retorted.
Minh simply ignored him and moved on to a conversation with Shin-Ji.
"I knew you were gonna do that," Zhong said to Cheng.
"Of course you did, I do that all the time."
"And you're terrible at it."
"Hey, I've got like a fifty percent success rate when I try; it's just sometimes I'm not feeling up to it."
"Fifty," Zhong said accusingly, "more like twenty. You never scare me. I always know where you're coming from."
"Oh you know I get you all the time."
"Whatever you need to believe," Zhong said to try to show that he wouldn't back down. Zhong is definitely Cheng's best friend because they're both relatively quiet unless talking to good friends. They don't need to talk to each other and could still easily communicate and know exactly what the other is thinking.
"Oh by the way Cheng, we're meeting Cai and one of her friends there," Minh announced to me.
Cai, great, Cheng thought reluctantly, the one girl that I just can't deal with easily. Thought we finally had a meal without her, and then you just pop her back in. And she's bringing a friend, wonderful...
Cai is known for flirting with every guy that isn't a complete jerk, but has no intentions at all. She has long jet black hair, a very nice figure, and a friendly personality when she's not flirting. She won't go after guys that are taken though, so she does have a little moral fiber.
Seeing as Shin-Ji is dating Minh, that just leaves Cheng and Zhong, and Zhong is always more jokingly mean to Cai, so she will head straight for Cheng. I'm bad enough at talking to her as it is, now she has to bring a friend too. Her friends are always attractive, therefore impossible to talk to for me. And I have to deal with her too.
The group walked to a row of shops, signs for each hanging out into the walkway overhead, the rightmost sign reading The Monk's Pub. As they approached, Cheng could see Cai sitting on a bench waiting patiently for them to show up. Sitting at her side was, of course, an attractive girl. She had long black hair and a great smile as she listened to whatever Cai was talking about.
As they got close, Cai got up and ushered her friend over to the group. "Everyone this is Lian, Lian this is Zhong, Cheng, Shin-Ji, and Minh." Cai pointed each person out from left to right, and Lian gave a courteous smile as she was introduced to each person.
The group walked in and had to move a few tables to fit six people. They were always moving tables and chairs to fit more people when they went places, always having many people. When choosing seats, Cai immediately rushed to sit next to Cheng, to no surprise. Lian sat on the other side of Cai.
Great, she's sitting next to me, never saw that coming, Cheng thought to himself sarcastically.
Cheng spent much of the dinner talking to Zhong who was opposite him, occasionally having to fight off a "flirt attack" from Cai. Her "attacks" often consisted of her hanging onto Cheng's arm, as if for dear life, saying things that only made Cheng even more nervous around her. But she was much less flirty than usual. It was unusual, but she really dialed back the "flirtiness" for the day. The one thing Cheng noticed is that she typically brought other flirty friends, sometimes worse than she was, but Lian was very modest. She was somewhat quiet, partly because she only knew Cai beforehand, but she also seemed to be more generally relaxed which contrasted to Cai's personality. At each "flirt attack" Zhong would give Cheng that look that meant something like "Go for it, she clearly wants you," but in a sarcastic manner than made Cheng kick Zhong under the table each time. And if Cheng ever complained of it, Zhong would just lecture about how he needs to be meaner about it instead of just kind of playing along. Be a jerk and she'll learn to ignore you. But Cheng didn't like to be a jerk. He never wanted to make any enemies, especially with attractive girls.
The group spent extra time at their table as usual, simply to avoid going home for the night. But the night must end at some point after receiving too many dirty looks from waiters for staying for so long. Once they got outside, realizing it was already dark out, Cai jumped to Cheng, "Walk us home Cheng. It's dark and we don't want to be out alone in the dark."
"Alright, I'll walk with ya," Cheng reluctantly accepted. Yeah now she clings back to me like crazy again. "Where do you live Lian?" Oh that's just awkward to say straight out. "Err, uh so I know where to walk you to."
"Oh don't worry, I'm staying with Cai for the night," she said kindheartedly.
Cai instantly attached herself to Cheng's arm. As they began to walk, Lian decided to strike a conversation, "So Cheng, what are you studying?"
A shot of nervousness ran through Cheng's body. "Uhh, well, it's only my first year, so I'm just a general education student, but I'm considering something along the lines of geography or history."
"Oh well if you're into history, you should take a class by Professor Xiang. I've heard he'd great."
"Yeah, I'm already in one of his classes, he is a pretty good teacher." Somehow she made it a lot easier for Cheng to talk to her. His nervousness made it impossible to look at her, but something about her voice and the way she talked made it really easy to talk. He was still extremely nervous though, always afraid to say the wrong thing. "What do you study?" Cheng tried to turn the conversation around onto her so he wouldn't have to say as much.
"Architecture. I've always liked building things. Ancient architecture has always been the most interesting to me."
The trio turned to the left around the corner of a few apartments. A man stepped out in front of them wielding a knife about 6 inches in length. "Gimme your money and no one will get hurt."
Robber, Just my luck, Cheng thought.
It was a smaller walkway between small apartment buildings. There was low lighting and no one else around. Cai cowered in fear behind Cheng, hoping he would deal with it. Lian on the other hand took a step back, put her back against the wall and kept her eye out for any backup the robber might have.
Cheng took notice of Lian's actions. Wow, she actually knows what to do here. Maybe she won't just give in to the robber's demands like most people. This is my chance for some excitement in life.
"Come on! You're money NOW! Don't make me hurt the girl."
"Alright just relax, nobody wants to get hurt." Cheng slowly moved closer to the robber inch my inch. In his history class he had learned how when defending against a more deadly force, you need to get as close to them as you can without drawing their attention. If the deadly force wants something in particular, they will focus more on that. Keep their attention drawn to something else while you get closer to them, you can strike before they realize that you are right on top of them. Cheng figured this would work in a smaller sense just the same.
Taking another small step forward, Cheng said, "We don't want to cause any problems. These are nice girls." He turned to point at the girls. He gave Lian a head nod and a look that meant something like "Get her out of here. I'll take care of this." She nodded her head slightly in Cai's direction, letting him know she knew what to do.
"Just give me your money, I'm not messing around!" The robber's focus now more concentrated on the girls as Cheng had pointed them out. Cheng took another step forward while the robbers focus was on the girls. The robber took slightly longer focusing on them noticing their attractiveness. Cheng saw his focus on the girls and used it as the perfect opportunity. He lunged forward, using both of his hands to control the robber's right hand where he wielded the knife. Pinching the wrist as hard as possible he weakened the robber's grip just enough to strike the hand so that the knife would fall out. Lian grabbed Cai who was still standing motionless behind Cheng. The two ran the other direction as fast as possible Lian making sure Cai was in front of her as she did not want to leave her behind.
The robber immediately fired back, taking a swing for Cheng's face. Cheng had expected this, but was not quick enough to get out of the way. Struck across the bottom of the chin, Cheng fell to the ground fast. "Should have just given me your money you fool. Now you're gonna pay." The robber moved towards Cheng's body on the ground, slowly though, which gave Cheng the easy opportunity to roll further away from the robber. Knowing exactly where the knife had fallen, Cheng slid on the ground towards the weapon so he could defend himself. The robber noticed his attempt to go for the weapon and made a lunge at it himself. Knowing the robber would likely go for the weapon instead of attacking Cheng himself, he kicked the weapon farther away with his right leg, having gotten to is slightly before the robber could reach it. The robber grabbed his foot instead and struck with his fist at Cheng's thigh in anger. Cheng shouted in pain. Using his other foot, he kicked at the robber, but missed him, the robber being just out of range. The robber jumped up to his feet, kicking at Cheng's chest, but Cheng had rolled again when the robber got off his leg. Cheng took another move towards the knife, the robber doing the same after missing his attempted kick. Cheng managed to get his hand on the knife this time, but the robber took a full out kick at his hand, seemingly breaking Cheng's right hand, and sending the knife flying to the wall a few feet away. Cheng screamed as his hand was struck. Knowing this was a lost battle, the robber easily overpowering Cheng, he got up as fast as possible and ran, slightly limping off his hurting thigh, grimacing in agonizing pain from the hand injury. Cheng was nearly at the corner ready to turn and run for Cai's house when a sharp pain shot through his lower right calf. The robber had managed to get to his knife and by tossed it as hard as he could at Cheng, running away. By sheer luck, he managed to throw the knife right to Cheng's calf, just skimming his calf, but still managing to slice a few millimeters into the lower calf. It hit the outside of the calf and clanged with the ground as it continued flying. With so much adrenaline flowing through his body, Cheng could still sprint at a high speed around the corner and to the next well lit walkway. Once around the next corner, the pain really hit him. He looked down to see blood running out of his right leg at an alarming rate. He slowed down and started to limp, but still kept a good pace.
Once Lian reached the safety of Cai's house, she made sure Cai's parents watched over her and immediately headed back out to look for Cheng. She took the same route back to the crime scene, as it was the best lit way. About half way back down a long street, she noticed someone limping in the distance. As she got closer she realized it was Cheng, who appeared to be in intense pain.
"Cheng!" she shouted to him as they approached each other.
"Lian! So happy to see you."
"What happened to you? Your leg is heavily bleeding." She grabbed him over his shoulder as assisted his walking.
"I think my hand is broken, and he cut my leg."
"We'll get you to Cai's and fix you up."
Cheng didn't feel nearly as nervous as before when talking to Lain, focusing on the pain instead.
"Thanks for coming back."
They walked in silence all the way back to Cai's house.
Upon arrival, everyone was waiting just inside the door for them to return home. Once Cai's parents saw the blood, her mother ran into the next room to fetch some water for the wound. Her father grabbed some rags and bandages. They cleaned up the wound and wrapped it up, wrapping the hand as well to immobilize it. After adrenaline had stopped coursing through his body, the pain increased from leg and hand wound. He sat down in their common room with Lian and put his leg up on a table to reduce swelling. Cai still seemed a little bit in shock not really saying anything.
"I don't think you should be walking with your leg like this," Cai's father told to Cheng. "We'll take you to a doctor tomorrow. For now, I'll go tell your parents why you're not home for the night."
"Thanks, and could I maybe get some tea?" Cheng asked.
"Of course, I'll have Cai make some for you. And thank you. Thank you for watching over Cai and Lian," her father added.
After receiving some tea, Cheng went over the details of what had happened. Cai no longer held really close to Cheng, possibly being just because her mother was there.
Cheng could finally focus on Lian now that his wounds had been treated. The fact that she knew what to do when Cheng had signaled her only made her more attractive to Cheng. And she's not super flirty. After she had returned for him, he didn't even have trouble speaking to her. It couldn't have been more perfect for him. But being comfortable around her, that's a different story.
The doctor's visit was short and quick. Cheng simply had his leg wound cleaned and rebandaged. He was given a crutch to reduce pressure on the leg when walking. His hand was not broken, but was instructed to keep it wrapped in bandages to reduce mobility for at least two weeks to allow the heavy bruising to heal.
Great, my writing hand. At least I won't have to write any assignments while I have this on. I guess it does have some advantages. And I did finally have some excitement. If only I didn't get hurt in the process.
"What happened to you," Zhong exclaimed upon seeing Cheng's crutch and wounds.
"I got ambushed by Fire Nation soldiers, what do you think happened?" Cheng retorted sarcastically, "I got in a fight."
"Yeah right, you probably fell down some stairs or something."
"Whatever you want to believe." Cheng didn't really want to publicize it, thinking that would just cheapen it.
"I'm going to believe whatever makes you look the worst until I'm proven otherwise."
"If it pleases you..." Cheng knew he'd find out when Cai or Lian told everyone anyway.
"Come on, you always play along and argue when I do this. What's wrong with you?"
Cheng's mind was still focused on the events of the previous night, and more importantly on Lian.
"I'm just not feeling great alright," Cheng lied. "Well at least it looks like this will get me out of some assignments and maybe a little sympathy from teachers."
"Yeah. You always get lucky with this kind of stuff."
"You just need to fall down some stairs more often, right? I'll push ya if you want."
"No thanks, I'm off to class, I'll see you later. Don't get in anymore imaginary fights while I'm gone." Zhong always had to have something smart to say.
Cheng didn't have his geography class for another hour, but went to the University so he could talk to Professor Xiang. After the previous night, his mind was racing with thoughts on his desire for adventure and excitement in life, and on Lian and his newfound crush on her. He needed someone to talk to about this, and he knew his friends could never really be objective when it came to matters like this.
Xiang was sitting at his desk, presumably grading assignments, when Cheng stumbled into the room. He was still having trouble going through doors with his crutch.
"Cheng, you're hurt," Xiang noticed as he loudly clanged through the door.
"No Xiang, I just wear this cause the girls like it."
"You're sense of sarcasm never gets old."
"What fun would I have if it did? Hey, you think we could talk about something personal?"
"Of course, not like you would ever come for schoolwork help or anything."
"Your sarcasm doesn't get old either Xiang."
Xiang chuckled a little, "What's on your mind Cheng?"
"You're not going to ask about my leg and hand?"
"I figured you would talk about it yourself."
"Well I was walking Cai and her friend Lian, who I had only just met, back home, when a robber confronted us. And you know how I always want some action in my life."
"So you fought back? That is a foolish way to find some excitement. He could have killed you. And look what happened. How about what could have happened to the girls?"
"Lian knew what she was doing. She took off with Cai right away. And it may not have been the smartest thing, but I was exhilarated the whole time."
"Exhilarated or not, Cheng, it was not a safe move. Things like that are just too dangerous."
"Yeah I know that but I finally found something that makes me happy, this is the kind of excitement I have been looking for."
"So you're just going to go looking for fights?"
"No, that's why I'm here. I don't really know what to do."
"You're too smart to be a fighter, Cheng, even though you often try to hide it. You need to find something more constructive to use your talents on."
"Yeah, but nothing like that is exciting. I'm so often bored, I don't want to be bored like that. I want exciting, action, adventure. You always teach us about all of these people that went on amazing adventures around the world. I want some sort of amazing adventure."
"Well I can't tell you what to do, but I will say that you should do what best utilizes your talents and skills, if you do something, make sure you come at it in the smartest way you can."
"I'm not surprised that I get a non-definitive answer from you, always gotta make me do all the thinking."
"That's my job." Cheng still looked a bit uneasy. "Can't help but thinking you have something else you want to talk about."
"Well," Cheng searched for the best choice of words, "Remember that girl Lian I spoke about. Well, I kind of like her. The way she knew how to handle herself when the fight started. And how she came back to get me once she got Cai to safety. And she's attractive as it is."
"What's stopping you?" Xiang asked.
"Well, I don't really know if she's into me. And I always get nervous with these kinds of things."
"You probably just need to spend some more time with her. If she's into you, she'll let you know, and you're smart enough to figure it out, right."
"You're probably right. I always get worried over nothing."
"Thanks Xiang, it's always good to have a chat with you."
"I'll see you in class tomorrow."
"Yeah, maybe I'll pay attention this time." Cheng headed through the door, clanging his way through, still having issues.
Well that went faster than I expected, Cheng thought. Now what do I do. Cheng would typically go on a walk around the middle ring to burn time when he had nothing better to do. He liked to get some knowledge of the areas streets and walkways. But he decided to just take a seat as the leg would make it much more difficult. So he sat down on a nearby bench and pulled out The Final Testament of Fire Lord Sozin to read while he waited. He really had absolutely no intention to actually read it though. Cheng enjoyed people watching on his downtime as well, and just used the book to make it less obvious. Listening in on people's conversations, only hearing a small bit as they walked by, and making up a funny story in his head, noticing the kid with glasses trip and almost fall into a wooden post, overhearing full out fights between couples, people watching was always fun.Then Cheng noticed over to his right was a bulletin board filled with advertisements and wanted posters. He slid over to the other side of the bench to get a better look at them. They were old Fire Nation wanted posters that had never gotten taken down since their occupation had ended. He had never noticed them there before, but simply wrote it off as a lack of attention to them. One read "Jeong Jeong, was a Fire Nation Admiral" He stopped reading there. Boring he thought to himself. The next, "Chey, was a captain in the Fire Nation army" Again boring. Finally he read the one on the bottom. It had the picture of an Earth Kingdom theater mask on it and read, "Wanted, by order of the Fire Lord: The so-called Blue Spirit. He is a thief, guilty of stealing the Avatar from the Fire Nation. He wears a traditional Earth Kingdom opera mask. His true identity is unknown, but disregard the rumors that he is a ghost. If you locate the Blue Spirit and attempt to apprehend him, you are advised to enlist as many forces as you can gather for the task." Stealing the Avatar from the Fire Nation? Underneath, something extra was scribbled down that read, "Skilled with broadswords, expert at stealth and infiltration." Fighting the crimes of the Fire Nation. It's somewhat inspiring. -- I know what I want to do. He ripped the poster off the wall, and headed off to his first class of the day.
Next chapter: Quick Thinking
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