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October 28, 2016
One week has passed since first night session with . In the late afternoon, Singi is practicing her waterbending along the bay as Gekkō, , and watch. Meanwhile, yards away from the Avatar and her allies, a large wooden ship carrying six men docks along the shoreline, out of sight from the group.'s
"See? I told you there'd be a settlement somewhere along this bay!" One man snickers enthusiastically.
"Yeah, yeah... let's just hope they have enough quality goods for us to take," another remarks.
Paying minor attention to the group yards away along the bay, they focus their attention upon Kunatuk with luscious need and anticipation.
"We'll strike overnight," the second man declares.
Later that night, the intruders gather within Kunatuk.
"Now remember, find and grab any food or quality stuff as quietly as possible. The better the steal, the smaller the risk that we get killed by the warlords back at home," the ringleader murmurs.
With that, the men scatter amongst the settlement, searching for any valuable items and food. At the same time, Jiefeng stirs from inside the tent and makes her way outside, glancing around and listening to the gentle waves lap along the shoreline. As she takes in her surroundings, a figure slowly begins to creep towards the tent. He stops in his tracks upon seeing Lychee sleeping behind the tent, and gazes at the air bison in impressed wonder before letting out a roused whistle.
"Wow... if only we had enough man-power to take this beast back to the warlords. Our entire village would probably be protected by the warlords, instead of used."
Focusing his attention back to the tent, his eyes shift upon detecting the faint movement of a small animal a couple of meters away from the entrance to the tent. Slowly, he creeps behind the creature, making sure he takes quiet steps so as not to be detected by his target or the people sleeping not far behind him. Suddenly, he grabs the cranefish chick and seals her bill shut between two fingers.
"Gotcha!" He whispers in triumph and rushes his way over to the ringleader, the chick writhing within his hands.
"Haja! I got something!"
"Shhh!!! Keep it down, Koji! Do you want every settler here to wake up and drive us out without our loot?"
He looks, unimpressed at the animal in Koji's hands.
"What the heck is that thing?"
"I dunno, but hey, it's food."
"That thing is only a morsel."
"So? The warlords will fatten it up like a pig chicken and let it grow until it's good enough to eat."
"Ugh... fine," Haja relents, rolling his eyes in annoyed defeat before returning his focus to a barrel situated within a decent-sized open tent. A pitched canopy stands just above the opening, and a stone platform separates him from his target. Effortlessly, he jumps over the platform and opens the lid of the barrel, revealing it nearly filled to the brim with fish.
"Hmm... not bad." He smirks before glancing over at Koji. "Hey, Koji. Mind giving me a hand?"
Glancing down at the cranefish chick, then back to his leader, he nods before responding.
"Yeah, sure. Anything in that tent that can restrain this bird?"
Glancing around, Haja finds a sack, unties the rope closing it up, and peers inside to identify its contents—rice, filling half of the sack. Haja mulls over the situation for a few seconds before presenting the sack to Koji, who places Jiefeng inside, making sure that the chick's beak is bound upon retying the rope. With the sack secure, Haja places it atop the barrel of fish as the duo lift the barrel and carry it back to the ship. Not long after they've set the barrel in storage below deck, the remaining four pirates return with a menagerie of items, ranging from various fishes, jewelry, some spears, and a range of pottery in numerous shades of blue and gray.
"Not bad," Haja remarks, "let's find someplace else to dock and we'll set back to the Islands later the next day."
With that, the band of six cast off and move south, eventually coming across a large island and docking on the south side of the piece of land before turning in for the remainder of the night.
The next morning, Singi wearily opens her eyes, taking a moment to adjust to the copious amount of light shining through her and Jamyang's dark orange and process yellow tent.
"Morning, Jiefeng." Singi yawns, before turning over to face her animal companion "Time for another day of wat—" She stops mid-sentence upon noticing her friend not nestled in her usual spot between her and Jamyang's sides of the tent. Blinking a few times in confusion, she steps outside and immediately looks down at the portion of the shoreline a couple of meters away from the tent. Nothing. Not even tracks. Turning back, she heads towards the center of the settlement towards a large blue tent, a man in his 40s rummaging through various items scattered along the floor.
"Koda, you haven't seen Jiefeng at all, have you?"
"I'm afraid not, Avatar," Koda responds, before turning to face the teenager. "It appears as if my little shop and trading post has been ransacked last night. I'm missing an entire barrel of fish, and half a sack of rice."
Soon after, a woman approaches the duo, distraught.
"Much of my jewelry is missing as well."
Another man appears.
"So are my hunting spears!"
A teenage girl also walks into the scene.
"Some of my pottery has vanished as well! I really worked hard on those..." She sulks, lowering her head in distress.
As more residents step forward to report missing belongings, the commotion causes Gekkō to step out of his residence and make his way to the gathering.
"Master Gekkō," Singi interjects with concern. "A lot of people are reporting various items stolen. Jiefeng's missing as well!"
At this, Gekkō's eyes widen slightly.
"But she usually never leaves you or Jamyang's side, especially given how young she is."
"I know. I feel as if she may have been stolen along with all of the other items reported lost."
Singi closes her eyes and takes a steady breath through her nostrils. After exhaling, she waits a few seconds to open her eyes, a determined look on her face.
"I'm going to search for her, and everything else that was stolen overnight."
"But how?" Gekkō asks. "Whoever they were could be miles away from here by now."
"I have to try," Singi responds bluntly, turning away and starting to make her way to the shoreline.
"Wait!" Gekkō calls.
At this, Singi stops and turns her head back to her instructor.
"Be careful, and if you find anything, let Jamyang and I know."
"I will," Singi responds, before rushing off towards the bay.
Once there, Singi continues walking westward down the shoreline, looking carefully for footprints, discarded items, anything that can give her a clue as to her animal companion's whereabouts.
"Come on, it's low tide... there should hopefully be at least something to give me a hint."
After over twenty minutes of futile searching, Singi finally comes upon a large indentation in the sand.
"It looks like... a large boat..." Singi marvels, as she circles around the indentation. She turns her head southeast, then east back towards Kunatuq. With a determined look on her face, she bends a cloud and flies off above the sea. Eventually, she comes upon a fairly small island. It merely consists of fairly small beach, which gives way to sheer cliffs roughly 12 feet high, tapering off to reveal a flat expanse of grass and gravel, before revealing a couple of sandstone hills on the southern side of the island. Singi lands on the island, walking around the edge until she reaches the southern side and peers down the cliffs, finding a fairly large wooden ship tucked up the shoreline. At this, Singi's eyes widen slightly in surprise before changing her expression to one of anger. However, she recalls Gekkō's instructions, and makes her way back to Kunatuk.
"Jamyang! Gekkō! I've found something!"
With that, Gekkō bends a wave to ride on while Singi bends and mounts a cloud. Jamyang mounts Lychee, and the group head south.
Down in the ship's sleeping quarters, Koji's thunderous snoring irks the disheveled and tired Haja in the bunk below him. After a few futile kicks, punches, and pushes to Koji's back, Haja begrudgingly gives up and heads to the storage room. Noticing the sack twitching around slightly, he rolls his eyes and unfastens the rope. As soon as the sack is loosened, Jiefeng bursts out of her confines and calls loudly, running as fast as she can out the doorway and towards the beam of sunlight pouring from the stairway just a couple of meters away. Before she can even hop up to the first step, Haja manages to grab her, while Jiefeng still calls, struggling to break free of his grasp.
"Oh, no you don't! Y'know... I can't wait to hand you off to those warlords. The sooner we get back home, the sooner I'll be rid of you..." At this, Haja seals Jiefeng's beak shut with free hand, "you noisy little appetizer."
Suddenly, the ship rocks back-and-forth violently, causing Haja to lose his balance and fall over, dropping Jiefeng in the process. Seizing her opportunity, Jiefeng hops up one step after another, while the leader of the pirate band carefully stands back up. At the same time, the other five men burst out of their sleeping quarters and convene with him.
"What was that!?" Koji utters.
"I don't know, but I have a pretty good idea," Haja responds, and they make their way above deck. Once in broad daylight, they find Jiefeng hastily running towards the stern of the ship.
"Don't let it get away!" Haja shouts, as three of the men rush after the cranefish chick, while another heads towards the ship's wheel, and Koji works to hoist the flag up the mast and adjust the sail accordingly. As Haja assesses the situation, a figure rockets into the air before whacking the three men pursuing Jiefeng aside with dual water whips, nearly pushing them overboard. Landing on the boat, Singi kneels down with outstretched arms, smiling as Jiefeng excitedly rushes towards her, and she embraces the cranefish chick gently, standing up and nuzzling her friend against her left cheek.
"I'm so glad I found you!" She says in relief, but their moment is interrupted when all six men begin to approach the two, Haja carrying a Jian sword, while Koji and the others either ball their fists or generate a ball of fire within their hands. Singi simply smirks at the incoming threat and bends a narrow blade of air, cutting the mast horizontally and sending the upper portion down to the deck like a felled tree. Haja, who was standing in the middle, manages to dodge the object in the nick of time, jumping out of the way so that the mast can land on the deck.
"That girl bent water and air. Could she be...?"
Before Haja can finish his sentence, Gekkō arrives, using ice hooks to scale the ship, and Jamyang, riding Lychee descends into the scene. Singi passes Jiefeng to her instructor, who then quickly but gently waterbends the chick to the monk on a cushion of water. With Jiefeng safe, Lychee ascends away from the confrontation and Singi orders.
"Gekkō, go below deck and retrieve everything! I'll take care of these crooks."
Gekkō complies, and once he's down below, Singi begins dodging the pirates' attacks using her enhanced agility, and returns their attacks with multiple air punches and kicks. Eventually, Gekkō has collected all of the stolen items and Jamyang once again directs Lychee to descend. He airbends all of the items onto Lychee's saddle and once again, the two move away from the scene as Gekkō swiftly traps five of the pirates in a water ball, allowing their heads to surface from the liquid mass. With that, Singi uses waterbending to grab onto Haja, pulling him close so that the two are face-to-face with one another, Singi glaring at the captain while Haja expresses a look of slight fear. In her anger, Singi's hair and robes flutter around her.
"Why did you steal my friend!?" Singi questions angrily.
"I—I didn't know that the animal belonged to the Avatar! My men and I are just trying to live by providing for the warlords back at our home in the Fire Islands. If we don't give them anything, they'll kill us!"
"That doesn't mean you can just steal from innocent people!" Singi responds, her robes and hair flowing a bit more violently than earlier.
"We were desperate! The warlords give us nothing else in return but the prospect of keeping us alive another day, only for us to have to provide for them almost every day."
"Well then, either you need to find another way of providing for these warlords, or you need to collectively stand up against them."
At this, Singi releases Haja, while Gekkō does the same with the remaining pirates. The breeze around Singi fades, and she and Gekkō abandon the ship.
"You don't understand... these warlords are more malicious than you think," Haja mutters to himself, directing it to Singi.
Suddenly, the sound of the waves begins to grow louder. From the shore of the island, Gekkō and Singi draw the waves back-and-forth with increasing intensity until the ship is carried out. After pushing the ship a few yards away from the island, the two circle their arms above their heads, soon generating a massive whirlpool that spins the pirate ship like a top, the yells of fear from the men calling out. Eventually, the repetitive motion becomes too much, and the ship breaks down, sending the men down with it. The two waterbenders lower their hands, stopping the whirlpool, and soon, various items of cargo and driftwood begin to float to the surface as the pirates, treading water, grasp onto whatever they can support themselves on. Lychee lands on the island, and the two make their way aboard.
"And I don't ever want to hear of you stealing again!" Singi calls, before the group fly off, leaving the pirates adrift in the sea.
Once back in Kunatuk, the civilians cheer for the group, happy to see them safe, and their items intact. Upon Singi passing the sack of rice back to Koda, his expression changes to one of confusion.
"Wait a moment, it feels much lighter than before."
Reaching a hand in, he picks up a plump Jiefeng from inside the sack and stares at the cranefish chick, perplexed. Singi gasps slightly and takes Jiefeng into her arms.
"That cranefish of yours ate about half of what was left of my rice!" Koda shouts, bewildered.
Singi pouts her lips and lowers her head in guilt.
"I'm sorry, Koda."
"Sorry? Aw, you don't need to feel sorry!"
At this, Singi lifts her head and raises an eyebrow in confusion.
"I needed to grow more in the rice fields, anyway. Besides, I'm just impressed!"
He flashes a toothy grin before finishing up, "Though I still think you should really keep her on a diet of fish from now on."
At this, Koda laughs, which soon become infectious, causing everyone at the scene to burst out in exuberant laughter. During the joyous occasion, Jiefeng manages to wriggle out of Singi's hands and lands on the ground in a heap. Slowly, she staggers up before taking a few steps, only to fall over once again, the weight of her most recent meal too much for her to manage walking on her own. While everyone's continues laughing, Singi gently picks up Jiefeng and nuzzles her again, overjoyed to have her back as safe and awkward as ever.
- The island the pirates seek refuge on is the one will be known as Air Temple Island millennia later.
- An initial idea that was eventually scrapped was that the pirates were serving for either or —the two primary antagonists of the trilogy.
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