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September 7th, 2012
Suki squatted by the campfire, slowly cooking the meat for the night's meal. Nearby, Sokka and Zuko practiced their swordsmanship by moving though the various forms that each one's style practiced. Aang ate a small collection of fruits and berries while Toph lay inside her stone tent; Katara sat nearby, reading one of her waterbending scrolls. They were only a day from the coast, and being out of occupied territory.
The walls of Toph's tent suddenly retracted into the ground.
"Someone's coming," she said, facing in the direction of where the newcomer was approaching. Suki grabbed her fans, Zuko and Sokka readied their swords, and Katara and Aang took their bending stances. Slowly, a single rider on an ostrich horse melted out of the shadows on the edge of the campfire's light. His face was hidden by the shadows created by the Earth Kingdom soldier's helmet on his head. The duster like coat stretched down from his shoulders and covered a portion of his saddlebags.
"That's far enough, what do you want?" asked Zuko. The rider brought his mount to a halt and looked over the campsite.
"I want to speak with the Avatar," he said in a quite voice.
"Oh great, another bounty hunter," muttered Katara. The rider shifted slightly in his saddle.
"I said I want to speak with him, I didn't say that I wanted to take him," he replied.
A pause filled the air as both sides entered a standoff.
"All right, but leave your weapons with your ride," Aang finally said. The rider dismounted and unbuckled his sword. Walking forward slowly, the rider allowed the helmet to slide back and rest on his shoulder blades. He was surprisingly young, only a year or so older than Zuko.
"All your weapons," said Toph. The rider paused and undid his belt. He rapped it around a single leather chunk that held a metal and wood object before setting it on the ground. Walking forward, the rider sat on a stump near the fire. Aang sat across from him while Zuko and Sokka stood on either side of him, ready to act if he made a move.
"Okay, so what is your name?" asked Aang. The rider sighed and ran his fingers through his dark brown hair.
"Lee," he answered.
"And what is it that you want Lee?" asked Katara. Lee rung his hands slightly, obviously nervous.
"I need your help," he said, leaning forward.
"Doesn't everyone," muttered Zuko, Lee shot him a glance but quickly returned his gaze to Aang.
"Please, you must listen and believe me. There are things I've seen, things I've done that none of you could possibly understand, but I will try to explain anyway," said Lee, but he paused for a moment.
"So what's stopping you?" asked Toph. Lee took a breath and rung his hands again.
"Can someone please get me the saddlebag on the left side of my mount?" he asked. Suki moved away from the group and retrieved the bag as asked. Under close watch, Lee opened the bag and pulled two large scrolls from it. Unrolling both of them, it was revealed that they were two different maps.
"This is your world as it should look with the four respected nations," said Lee as he tapped the map on the left.
"And this is mine," he finished, tapping the one on the right. The map on the right contained two major landmasses, a large island, and two major ice caps at both the top and the bottom of the map.
"Are you trying to say that you're not from this world?" asked Sokka. Toph crossed her arms.
"He's not lying," she said bluntly. Sokka cocked his eyebrow at her.
"And how would you know...oh yeah, sorry," he said. Lee sighed before he continued.
"My world is a parallel version of yours, meaning that there is an Avatar in my world as well as yours," he said. Aang leaned forward, curious now.
"So why is it that you need my help? Why not ask your version of the Avatar?" he asked. Lee sighed, as he leaned back.
"She was killed," he said after a moment of silence. Everyone except for Toph blinked in surprise.
"How?" Katara asked after another silent moment. Lee sighed again, sorrow evident in his eyes.
"There was a war that had consumed the globe. She was in the Avatar State, trying to protect a small village from a massive army, and she was overrun. I saw her destroy half of the world's largest army, and then she was knocked out of the sky like a ragdoll," he said, tears in his eyes.
"Did you love her?" asked Aang. Lee didn't answer, but rather he wiped his eyes slightly.
"I was a member of the Gunslingers, an order that sought knowledge and wisdom, while at the same time worked to find and protect each Avatar," he said simply.
"Like the Order of the White Lotus," said Zuko to no one in particular. Lee nodded in agreement. But Sokka cocked his eyebrow and knelt in front of Lee.
"I'm sorry, the what slingers?" he asked. Lee rolled his eyes slightly.
"Gunslingers," he said. Sokka traced his chin with the tips of his fingers.
"I see, and what is a gun exactly?" he asked. Lee glared at him with impatience.
"A device that I am not going to show and or demonstrate to any of you due to do the possible consciences," he said.
"What sort of consciences?" asked Suki, speaking up for the first time. Lee returned his focus to Aang.
"Technology wise, your world is far behind mine. Your most powerful nation only recently archived the airship, but if I introduce a piece of military technology to one side of your war, the balance would drastically tip in that sides favor, and the loss of life would increase," he said. Aang nodded in agreement.
"So then what is it exactly that you want Aang to help you with?" asked Katara.
"I need his help in bringing my world's Avatar back to life," replied Lee.
"Can't you guys live without an Avatar?" asked Toph.
"Don't you think we haven't tried that? Everything fell out of balance after she died. The sun use to rise in the east and set in the west, now it rises in the south and sets in the east, tides drown whole cities, and earthquakes ravage the continents on a daily basis," snapped Lee. He focused on Aang.
"I need to bring her back, before the whole planet falls apart."
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