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May 13, 2011
Retribution is the second chapter of the series.
Shenji and Kuro's unit attacks a Fire Nation camp, and their Captain takes the information contained within for a secret.
Shenji's unit fell into its formation soon after the Captain's speech. It would be a long march, and the group knew that nighttime was the best opportunity they had to damage the Firebenders. It was common knowledge that Firebenders were weaker under the moon, but their camp was still a distance away. The group would have to make good time to catch their foes at their weakest.
The soldiers trudged on, each semi-conscious while others were starting to fall asleep walking. Kuro was wide awake, using his alert demeanor to keep those around him from drifting back to sleep. He was waking up someone to his left and didn't see Shenji's head bobbing up and down. Ready! Aim! Fire! the voice in his head called. Shenji jerked awake, unsure as to what the dream was about.
"Winning the battle?" Kuro's voice called from beside him.knew Kuro's positive attitude wouldn't last long, so he decided to play along.
"If that was any indication of how this ambush is going to go, we've got it rough already."
"Then wake up, you'll need to be alert." Kuro had already reverted to his silent stoicism. The rest of the journey was made in silence, with Shenji managing to remain awake until they reached their destination. The scout at the head of the line returned, having located the campsite.
The Captain ordered a halt, and the soldiers quickly responded. "Men, this is what we're here for. Earthbenders, spread out and raise the protective wall! Warriors, gather within the perimeter! We attack on my signal!" The pair split up, preparing to meet each other on the battlefield, like they always managed to.
After waiting for a few moments, the Captain threw his arm forward, motioning for the start of the attack. The warriors sprinted off into battle, although the camp was mostly empty. The soldiers were mostly asleep, save the night guards. A guard was quickly impaled by a spearman, letting out a gruesome scream as the blade pierced him.
"Here they come," Shenji thinks to himself as the Firebender falls to the ground. The night guards were all defeated, but he knew that the cry for help had woken up the rest of the group. Soon enough, the soldiers left their tents, ready for battle. Shenji gripped his hammers tightly, moving closer to the first soldier he sees. The soldier jabs a spear at him, but Shenji moves to dodge. He kicks the spear from the soldier's hands, sending the weapon near the woods on the far side of camp. Shenji slams the hammer into his opponent's helmet, leaving a crack while making the soldier slump to the ground.
Turning back into the fray, Shenji sees the Captain battling both a Firebender and a warrior. The Captain ducks, sending the Firebender's blast into the soldier behind him. Now that he was down to one opponent, the Captain moves on to finish his final enemy. He smashes his fist into the ground, sending a pillar of earth into the Firebender's chest. The Firebender collapses to the ground, though he slowly stands up. He begins sending several small fire arcs at the Captain, forcing the officer to raise an earth wall for defense.
Before the Captain can retaliate, the Firebender is knocked off his feet by a boulder. Shenji looks past the enemy, managing to find a friend. Kuro gives Shenji a smirk before preparing the finishing blow. Kuro jumps into the air, crashing his feet into the ground with force of a meteorite. The ground begins cracking as a powerful fissure approaches the Firebender. The Captain leaps above the fissure, landing in its center with a look of tenacity. The fissure stops, and in its place erupts an earth pillar that strikes the soldier with blinding speed. By the time the Captain has put the column back into the ground, the soldier lays sprawled out on the ground, his armor caved in.
Shenji feels a warm burst from behind him, so he turns and ducks. Luckily, the blast he felt had simply went past his neck. He sees several Firebenders struggling against the soldier, so he rushes towards them, immersing himself in the thrill of battle.
His hammers like extensions of his arms, Shenji moves his arms with ferocious speed. The soldiers before him fell as his weapons connected with their armor. Seeing a Fire Nation soldier sneaking up on an already occupied Earthbender, Shenji takes action, throwing a hammer at the invader. The blunt weapon connected with the soldier's elbow, literally disarming him as he drops his sword. Shenji sprints to him, pushing him away while kneeling down to pick up his opponent's sword. The swordsman was unaware that is was his very weapon plunging into him, and he quietly falls to the ground.
The Earthbender he had just saved was finally brushed aside by his Firebender opponent, who decided to move on to Shenji. The bender sent a fire ball at the Earth Kingdom soldier, who rolled out of its path. Shenji picked up his spare hammer, moving out of the way of a second fire blast. While avoiding the attacks that threatened him, Shenji struggled find an opportunity for retaliation. After the volley of attacks finished, the Firebender hunched over slightly to catch his breath. Seizing the chance, Shenji threw his newly picked up hammer at the bender, who was too unfocused to dodge.
His faceplate caved in and the soldier stumbled back, clutching his face while trying to stabilize himself. As he moaned in pain, a boulder collided with his side, knocking him over and leaving him in worse shape than he was in before.approached, smirking at the defeated Firebender. "That's why you should have stayed in your own country," he says bitterly, motioning for Shenji to continue the battle elsewhere.
The two run off into the center of the main brawl. Had it not been for the different uniform colors, the pair wouldn't have been able to discern who to attack. Luckily, the Fire Nation's red stood out. Shenji looked around, trying to decide who to attack first. He feels a warm rush behind him, also hearing a sound like something was plunged into the ground. Turning around, he sees a raised square of earth, obstructing his view of what was behind him. "Watch it, Shenji," Kuro says, running towards the wall. He thrusts his hands into its center, breaking the slab out of the ground and hurling it towards the two Firebenders behind it.
"Thanks, Kuro." Shenji only wore his light armor, as Kuro was always there to deflect the attacks approaching him. Even when Kuro wasn't there, he never seemed to face anyone skilled enough to hit him. Shenji approaches a Fire Nation spear soldier, striking his back with the hammer and knocking him out. Dropping his hammers, he picks up the spear, using its blunt end to deflect a soldier's sword before stabbing the blade into his shoulder. When he kneels down to pick up his hammers, a fire blast almost grazes his back. The blast wasn't aimed at him, but rather it was an attack meant for Kuro.
Kuro raised a small earth column, moving the Firebender's arm out of its expected path and sending the fire into the sky. As he ducks to avoid the third blast, Kuro grabs hold of the raised earth, ripping it out of the ground and using it as a blunt weapon to strike the Firebender. Seeing that the battle was going nowhere, Shenji decides to tip the balance in Kuro's favor. "Think fast!" the warrior calls. Kuro blocks a blow from the Firebender and turns around, seeing his friend lob his hammer into the air. Catching the blunt weapon, Kuro turns and smashes it into the ground, lifting the Firebender off the ground and knocking him into a nearby tree. Having defeated their last foe in the region, the duo move towards the center of the camp, where a group of Earth Kingdom soldiers had surrounded the last conscious Fire Nation soldiers.
"What do we do now?" one soldier asks.
One soldier moves a little forward, speaking just loud enough so that the whole camp could hear. "A prisoner of War is someone who tries to kill you, fails, then asks you to spare them in return. It's a 'Wasteland' mission for a reason."
The soldier,, was a growing leader. His words were of great influence to his comrades, and he turns his back on the circle, moving out to assist in the searching of the campsite.
The pair turn and leave the group, deciding to help look for anything of use. Entering into one of the only sturdy structures in the camp, Kuro returns carrying a barrel of blasting jelly. "We're in luck! There's some meat in there!"
Ignoring Kuro's excessive optimism, Shenji moves to the second structure. He noticed that the door was locked with a rather rusty chain. "Something has to be in there..." he thinks, picking up a hammer from his side. He quickly shatters the lock, opening the door to see a room with a desk littered with papers. "Captain, I think I found something!" Shenji calls over his shoulder, causing the mighty Earthbender to make his way towards the hut.
"What is it?"
"I don't know. It looks like it's an officer's study. If there's information we're after, it's probably here."
"Great find," the Captain says, patting Shenji on the back while walking into the study. The soldiers begin to crowd around the door as the Captain starts rummaging through the papers, intent on finding a specific piece of information.
After several moments of searching, the Captain's face lights up, clearly having made a discovery. "That's it!" The officer's face finally cracks a smile, picking up a scroll and holding it up, words facing him. After he finishes reading, he rolls the scroll up, putting it under his armor.
"What's in there, Captain?" Kuro asks, voicing the opinion of the entire group.
"Sorry, I'm not at liberty to disclose that information; orders from above." The Captain lets out a small sigh before moving towards the group. "What are you waiting for? Move out! Back to camp!" The soldiers salute their leader, turning and beginning the march back to their base.
The march back to camp was silent. The tired soldiers were in no mood to make conversation, and their usually talkative Captain had been ordered into silence. By the time they got back to camp, they were both solemn and wide awake. Sitting around their fire pit, the soldiers remained silent, until one left a dangling question. "How 'bout that battle?" A grin emerged on all the soldier's faces, and their spirit had been restored.
"Those Firebenders never stood a chance!" Kuro exclaims. "We'll have this war wrapped up in no time."
"I beat a guy up with his own spear!" a soldier from the far side of the pit says, causing a small amount of laughter and pleasure.
"I beat a guy up with his shield!" the one next to him says. "It wasn't defending him very well!"
The group continued their celebration until Kuro had an unexpected flashback to earlier in the day. Changing the conversation's direction, he catches the entire grouping off guard. "Does anyone have any idea why the Captain didn't tell us what was on that scroll?"
"Come on, Kuro," a voice from behind the Earthbender calls. "He already told us that he had orders to keep quiet, and I respect him for keeping to them." The group turns to see Luo standing above them, staring at Kuro. "I suggest that we all keep to our orders and help bring this war to a close." Before anyone in the circle can reply, the soldier briskly turns and walks away.
"Well then," Kuro says, rotating back towards the center of the circle with a confused expression. "It was just a question," he mutters in Luo's direction, despite the fact that the soldier can't hear him.
"Don't worry about Luo," a soldier from across the pit says. "He means well."
"You don't have to tell me twice," Kuro replies. "By the way, Shenji. I think I left something on the path back. Come help me find it." It was the General's policy to have paired expeditions, giving the two a better chance of survival if they happen to encounter Fire Nation soldiers. Most of the soldiers disliked the policy, but since it was the rule, it was obeyed. Shenji reluctantly rose and followed his friend, heading in the direction opposite that of Luo and back towards the Fire Nation camp.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
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