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|Origins Part 2: The Orphaned Contract|
The Day After Gin's Death
Aang, Zuko, Katara, and Tengu searched through Gin's tent. Tengu convinced them that Gin was most likely the one who hired the Black Lotus Assassins. In order to prove it Tengu suggested that they try to find why he hired them. As they searched Katara found something wedged between two shelves full of maps.
"Found something." Katara called as she pulled out a small journal. The others gathered around her as she opened it.
January 14, 100 AG
After about six months of commanding the frontlines against the Earth Kingdom soldiers I've been given a three month leave of absence after being wounded by one of the damned earthbenders. The wound isn't even that bad, but the general insisted I go home. Mother will be ecstatic. My brother would probably laugh at me for going home with such a small injury.
January 20, 100 AG
I've just returned home. I was right about Mother; she was even more excited than I was when I heard that I was going to serve under the Great Iroh so many years ago. Father's not home. Probably still serving as the Fire Lord's advisor.
January 31, 100 AG
Just received a letter from dear older brother. Apparently he's been promoted to Commander. Commander Zhao has a nice ring to it. I'll have to congratulate him next time I see him. In addition he also said that he's begun hunting the Avatar. He's probably just lying about that part.
"Gin was Zhao's brother?" Aang asked scarcely believing it.
"Gin always was talking about finally outdoing his brother when I was serving in the Fire Nation military at Ba Sing Se." Tengu said recalling the long siege. He never told me his name though. The four continued reading.
February 4, 100 AG
Zhao sent us another letter today. Apparently he really is hunting the Avatar. He says that he almost had him at the temple of Avatar Roku, as well as almost capturing the banished Prince Zuko. Seems they both escaped, seems like dear older brother is slipping.
February 17, 100 AG
HE DID IT! The jackass managed to capture the Avatar. To hell with congratulating him next time I see him I'm throwing him a party. As if that wasn't enough he also gained a promotion to Admiral.
February 18, 100 AG
The Avatar escaped, some guy in a blue mask apparently broke him out.
February 25, 100 AG
Zhao sent us another letter. He says he's about to make history. He's going to finally wipe out those savages at the North Pole. It's about time those barbarians joined their southern brothers and sisters in oblivion. Apparently Father's going to be supervising the invasion along with my old general, Iroh. Zhao says he'll write once the Waterbenders are extinct like the Airbenders.
Both Katara and Aang were rather displeased by that last entry.
"Well at least we know how that plan turned out." Zuko said trying to lighten the mood.
March 1, 100 AG
Mother and I received a letter today. It wasn't from Zhao or Father. They're both dead. Zhao was killed in a duel by Zuko. Father was in one of the ships destroyed by the Avatar. Mother's not taking the news well, I'm not either.
After dinner, Aang, Zuko, Katara, and Tengu continued reading and the next few entries were just as unsettling as the last.
April 8, 100 AG
It's been awhile since I've written in this thing. Mother's taken ill. Most likely due to grief. I'm scheduled to leave for active duty again. Mother doesn't want me to go.
April 16, 100 AG
I've arrived at my new post at the Si Wong Desert, with a new rank in honor of my brother and father, I'm now a Captain. I've yet to be briefed about my next campaign.
April 20, 100 AG
Talk about déjà vu. I've just learned that my next campaign is going to be an assault on Ba Sing Se. It would be nothing short of a miracle if I managed to breach that great wall twice.
April 27, 100 AG
Surprise, surprise, the princess herself is going to accompany us on the assault. We're set to arrive at the main camp soon.
April 30, 100 AG
Arrived at the "main camp", if you can call it that. There are no tents, no weapons, and one siege engine. A gigantic machine, supposedly capable of drilling through the wall. I almost laughed hysterically once I was told the "plan". "Wait inside the drill until we are through." This won't be a siege, it will be a joke. We begin the assault in three days.
"Well he was right on that one." Tengu said, "It was a joke, compared to the siege Iroh led."
"It wasn't so funny to us." Katara said shooting Tengu a slightly annoyed look.
"That's because you weren't involved in the first one." Tengu countered.
"He's got you there Katara." Zuko said with a hint of a smile on his face.
May 3, 100 AG
The drill is approaching the wall. We should be through in the next half hour or so.
This is the first time I've had to write twice in one day. The drill penetrated the wall, but the Avatar and his friends managed to stop it. Those kids seem to be the bane of my existence.
May 7, 100 AG
I was separated from the rest of my unit after an ambush from some girls in makeup on our way back to camp. Zhao's probably laughing at me from the Spirit World for being beaten by a bunch of teenage girls.
May 17, 100 AG
I managed to regroup with my unit. Apparently they found a body horribly mutilated and assumed it was me. They sent the news to my mother. Hopefully my next letter reaches her first.
The next entry was stained with tears.
May 21, 100 AG
I've received a letter today. It wasn't from mother. The news of my apparent death reached her first. In grief she took her own life. The Fire Lord sends his condolences and has promoted me to Lieutenant-Colonel. He can take both and shove them up a dragon's ass.
The four skipped ahead a couple entries.
July 20, 103 AG
The War's been over a few years. My brother's killer is now the Fire Lord and I'm supposed to serve him. Yeah right, I'll serve him only as long as I have to, which hopefully won't be too long. In addition my Father's killer is being hailed a great hero. Only natural I suppose, him being the Avatar, the embodiment of all things "good and pure". This will be my last entry in this journal, I'm meeting with the former Fire Lord Ozai later today. He says he can hook me up with some people who could take out everyone I hate in this world.
The group put Gin's journal down and looked at each other in silence.
"So that's why he hired the Black Lotus." Zuko said, breaking the silence.
"We essentially caused each member of his family's death." Aang said feeling somewhat sympathetic towards Gin.
"Like you said to me all those years ago Aang." Katara muttered, "It's easy to do nothing, but it's hard to forgive."
"For Gin, it was impossible." Tengu said.
Lu Ming sat alone in his office after hearing of Gin's death. His mind flashed back to the day he'd accepted the general's contract.
Gin walked into Lu Ming's office drawing the incredibly old man's attention from a scroll he was reading.
"General Gin?" Lu Ming asked putting the scroll away. "I understand you have need of our services."
"Yeah a mutual acquaintance said you handle high level assassinations." Gin said confidently taking a seat.
"Who might this acquaintance be?" Lu Ming asked slightly curious.
"Ozai." Gin answered.
Lu Ming nodded simply before asking, "Who do you need killed?" Gin told Lu Ming who he wanted dead. "Might I inquire as to why you wished them dead?"
"Why does that matter?" Gin asked defensively.
"We generally like to know why we send people to a premature doom." Lu Ming commented, "Don't worry, no reason is too petty for us."
Gin smiled, "They caused the death of my entire family. Iroh lead my father and brother to their doom at the North Pole where the Avatar and Fire Lord killed both. The Avatar's wife Katara and her brother Sokka were heavily involved in that battle and probably contributed to their deaths. The earthbender Toph helped stop the invasion of Ba Sing Se which led to my ambush by the Kyoshi Warrior Suki. Both of these led to my mother taking her own life because she thought I was killed in battle. As for Ozai and Azula, well Ozai made me promise I would send you after everyone involved with his defeat, I took that as including them."
"Hmm." Lu Ming whispered before nodding, "That's a lot better than most reason's we're hired. We accept. I'll send one of my best men after them."
"By any chance, would his name be Tengu?" Gin asked causing Lu Ming's eyes to widen with surprise.
"How did you know that name?" Lu Ming muttered darkly.
"Ozai recommended him, at first I thought I heard the name wrong, because I served with a man named Tengu many years ago at Ba Sing Se." Gin explained, pleased that he managed to get a reaction from Lu Ming.
"The man you refer to was indeed an assassin from our order. However he is no longer one of us." Lu Ming said trying to keep his temper under control, "The man I'm sending is... standing right behind you." Gin spun around in his seat and found himself looking at a young man, hardly older than the Fire Lord himself. Despite his youth the young man emitted an air similar to what Tengu emitted when they'd first met, the air of a killer. "Meet one of the greatest assassins the Black Lotus has to offer, Nero."
- I decided to expirement with this chapter and put most of it in the form of a diary or journal.
- My thanks to Dragon of The West for helping me expand the idea for the reason's Gin hated Team Avatar.
For the collective works of the author, go here.