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24 December 2010
Ruins is the forty eighth chapter of.
Team Avatar learns about plans to invade the North, while some in the Phoenix Warriors make plans.
A Southern Monster
Several soldiers sat around a camp fire. The breeze suddenly picked up, and the fire starts to fade. "Let me fix that," one says, inhaling and increasing the size of the fire. The soldiers continue their activities, with the breeze continuing. The city of Taku was in the northern end of the Earth Kingdom, and it was normally fairly chilly; this day seemed almost bitterly cold.
A loud quake is heard from south of the city, and several soldiers were sent to see what caused it; and only echoes of screams came back to the camp.
"How dare they! The Fire Nation wiped out Taku at the beginning of the war! Now the are using it as some kind of base!" Aang begins in rage. Appa had landed at the entrance of Taku, and Aang's frustrations vented.
"That's why we're here. We're going to get them out," Sokka says, both comfortingly and seriously.
"Aang, everything will be fine. We'll get them out, and then we'll find their leader and take him out," Katara says.
"I know it will. I won't let the world stay in chaos like this any longer," Aang starts, only to be cut off by Toph.
"Guys, we're about to be ambushed!" She raises an earth wall in front of Zuko, and it blocks a fire blast. She stomps the ground and raises her hand, and a pillar of earth erupts from behind the wall. A Firebender is launched over the wall and crashes onto the ground with a loud scream.
More Phoenix Warriors arrive as the other Firebender gets to his feet and begins attacking Zuko again, and Zuko begins blocking the fire blasts sent at him. Zuko retaliates with his own volley of blasts, and the other bender backs up. Aang turns from his opponent and raises a small earthen block behind Zuko's opponent, and Zuko's opponent falls to the ground.
Aang turns back to his opponent, and quickly ducks to avoid a fire blast aimed for his face. He sends an air ball into his opponent's chest, and sends him into one of the city walls. Aang stomps the ground, causing the wall to open up and allowing for the Firebender to be enveloped in the wall. Aang notes that he isn't resisting the restraint, and looks around.
Toph slides to her right as a fire ball blazes past her. She raises an earth column aimed at her opponent, who jumps quickly out of the way. Toph scoffs as she moves for her next attack, raising a column from beside him. He jumps forward, causing her to raise a large wall of earth in front of her. She feels him collide with the wall and lets out a small giggle. "Sounds like that hurt!" she taunts. Her opponent gets up on the other side of the wall with a scowl on his face. He hears something behind him, and turns around to find Toph on the other side of the wall. She sends an earth wave, which pins him to the wall, and his head droops.
Katara and Sokka were dueling a large swordsman. His large hooked sword kept the two siblings at a distance. Katara's water whips were brushed off as easily were Sokka's sword slashes.
"Why don't you two just give up, Water scum?" the warrior responds after blocking a slash from Sokka.
"Why don't you?" Katara asks in retaliation. She freezes her water into a ball and swings it at the Warrior, and the ice crashes into his side. He stumbles to the side, but brings his sword around his back and moves to slash it again. Both siblings leap back to avoid the attack. Sokka rolls and throws his boomerang towards the Warrior, but he effortlessly dodges before stabbing his sword towards Sokka. Sokka deflects the blade with his own, but still stumbles back. He brushed off Katara's water whips as easily as Sokka's slashes. Katara gets up and sends ice spikes towards him, but they are again brushed off.
"Reminds me a bit of Combustion Man," Sokka says to Katara who nods briefly in agreement. The swordsman raises his sword to strike at the two again, but stops and stumbles forward. The two siblings are shocked until the Warrior turns around and picks up Sokka's Boomerang. He turns around with a furious look on his face, drops the boomerang and lifts his sword behind his back and prepares to swing it. When he brings it forward, it is bent and disfigured, and he looks at it, surprised.
He turns around, and sees a small, blind girl holding a metal ball. The ball melts around her hand and then punches him in the center of his chest. While her fist moves, she stomps the ground, raising a large earth wave that knocked the Warrior through
the air. Katara and Sokka looked behind them to see the warrior sprawled on the ground ten feet behind them.
"I've got to hand it to you, Toph. That was good," Sokka says while he admires her metal glove.
"Pretty handy, isn't it?" she says in joking retaliation.
Zuko and Aang walk over and look around. "Wow. They're all unconscious..." Zuko mutters.
"Well, we can't get any information out of them now," Katara adds.
"There had to be more. Let's go into the city," Sokka suggests.
The group nods in agreement, and heads into the ruins. The old stone statues litter the city, and the team notes a field that looks recently burnt. "The Phoenix Warriors were definitely here," Zuko bitterly notes, "Let's keep going."
The team continues through the ruins of a former city. The team hears a camp fire crackling in the distance, so they move closer to investigate. "There are only a few left," Sokka whispers to the rest of the group.
"Keep at least one conscious. I've got something to find out..." Zuko says in an authoritative tone. The group nods in agreement.
"Okay, Toph and Aang: you're going to raise an earth wall around them, so they won't be able to get away-"
"Isn't that what we tried back in that village?" Toph asks.
"Yes, but this time it will work!" Sokka retorts. "Anyway, Zuko, you and Aang will go in first, then the rest of us. We'll get them."
"Uhh, Sokka?" Toph asks.
"What Toph? I'm in the middle of planning!"
"That was unexpected. We don't need the plan... GO!" Sokka orders, drawing both his sword and boomerang. He jumps over his hiding place and throw his boomerang at the nearest soldier, who collapses soon after.
Aang and Zuko jump out as well, with Zuko shooting a large fire blast at the center of the group. The blast scatters the soldiers, making them more susceptible to attack by Team Avatar. Toph emerges from the ground and knocks the group even further apart, dividing the soldier's groups.
Katara and Sokka run towards a group of stunned soldiers. Katara bends the water from her pouch into a whip and grabs a Warrior's arm. She swipes her arm to the side, sending the Warrior crashing into another.
Sokka ducks under a fire blast before swiping his sword at the warrior. The warrior sent another blast as he side stepped, causing Sokka to roll backwards. He reaches onto his back, draws his boomerang, and throws it towards the Warrior's head. The Warrior dodges and begins a barrage of fire blasts. Sokka ducks and manages to avoid all of them, but he is driven farther from the warrior. The warrior sends two fire blasts, aimed for each side of Sokka. Sokka manages to stop in time for both blasts to avoid him, but the fire around him makes fleeing impossible.
"No where to run now," the Warrior says, grinning darkly. A light glistens in the sky behind his head, with the Warrior collapsing to the ground little more than seconds later. Sokka picks up his boomerang and decides to move on.
Toph's soldiers were no match. She had fought Firebenders before, and they didn't seem to be too different. She pulled a rock about the size of her head out of the ground and thrust it towards the nearest Phoenix Warrior. He fell to the ground with a grunt, and slowly got up. Toph raised an earth column to divert the attack of the Warrior approaching her from behind, who slumps quietly to the ground. She returns her attention to the Warrior in front of her, who is back in his stance. She raises a rock behind him and brings it towards herself, striking the Warrior in the center of his back. The warrior doesn't move, and Toph decides to move on.
Aang is dueling against two Warriors, both who send new barrages of fire towards him. Aand deflects them and retaliates with two separate gusts of wind. One soldier is thrust into a wall and passes out, but the other slides back and launches a fire blast towards Aang.
Zuko ducks under a fire blast sent by his opponent, clearly the leader of the group. "Who are you?" Zuko asks as he disperses a fire blast.
"I'm. I'm the leader here, and I think you're leading our nation into ruins," Zuko's opponent replies, charging and launching another fire blast. Zuko deflects and disperses the blast, retaliating with one of his own. The two circle each other and trade volleys of flame for a solid minute before Zuko sees Aang dueling another soldier.
Zuko sprints at Zao, deflecting fire from all sides and passes him. Aang catches a glimpse of Zuko coming towards him. "Trade?"
Aang asks while raising an earth wall to block a fire blast.
"Yeah, go get him!" Zuko replies while jumping over the earth wall and into the path of a fire blast. Zuko launches an arc of fire from in the air and it blocks all attacks while he falls to the ground. He lands and fires another large blast at his new opponent, knocking him off balance. Zuko's face flashes a small grin before he resumes his attack.
Aang ducks under a fire blast sent by Zao and swipes his staff towards the ground. A wave of earth erupts towards Zao, though he manages to dodge by stumbling back. He get up and charges Aang, deciding to try Zuko's tactic. It is unsuccessful, as Aang flips over him as he charges. Aang raises earth as he jumps, encasing Zao in a stone shell while landing behind him. Aang turns and sees everyone aside from Zuko done with their groups. Zuko sends a jet of fire at his opponent, and dislodges him. Zuko then advances slowly, deflecting fire blasts while giving his opponent a deep stare. Eventually, Zuko simply kicks his opponent in the chest, knocking him into a statue and unconscious at the same time. "I didn't mean for that to happen..." Zuko mutters to himself. He looks around and sees the rest of the group staring at him. "Sorry guys. I've got to work on that. Now we'll have to wait until one of them wakes up."
"Actually Zuko, Aang got one," Sokka points out. Zuko looks at Zao, and approaches the encased soldier.
"What are you doing here?"
"We're here to bring the rule of the Phoenix King to the world. You're just delaying the inevitable!" the Warrior barks back.
"You're traitorous scum! You've betrayed your nation and your family!"
"I know who I am... And I will never forget. What sort of demented trash are you?" Zuko bitterly retorts.
"I'm one of many faithful soldiers who will give their lives for the betterment of the world by Phoenix King Ozai."
"How could he benefit the world? What else could he do aside from bringing more chaos and suffering?" Zuko snarls back. The camp fire, a large distance away blazes brighter, and it's intensity seemed to match that of the Fire Lord's stare.
"He is sharing the glory of fire with the rest of the world. What you all fail to see is that fire is consuming by nature. It's part of nature's balance that we consume the other elements. By resisting, you are fighting against fate!"
"I've fought my entire life, what's a few more weeks going to hurt?"
The Warrior stares back blankly, with a smug look on his face. "You may have a few weeks, but time is not a luxury given to all." His glance turns to Toph, then moves towards Sokka, Katara, and Aang. "Time is a blessing and a curse."
"Where did the rest of you go?" Sokka asks, lifting his black sword to the warrior's neck.
"We began moving north." He turns from Sokka to Aang and Katara. "You fought so hard to secure that stronghold, pity it shall not remain."
"Where are you going?" Katara says, advancing closer and pulling water from her pouch. The water forms into claws around her fingers, and her stare shot daggers itself.
"Katara, look out!" Aang shouts, swiftly blowing her out of the way with a strong yet gentle current of air. He deflects a fire blast headed for the area and the rest of the team jumps into action. Zuko sends a jet of fire at the lone soldier who had woken up, forcing him to dive out of the way.
Toph sends a column of earth up at the Warrior, with him again managing to dodge. Zuko begins charging a fire blast, and Katara uses water whips to finally grab a hold of him. Zuko releases the arc, and the Warrior manages to free himself from the water.
The timing was lethal for the Warrior, as he turned directly into the arc as it approached him. His scorched body fell to the ground.
The team turns back to the captured Warrior, and finds his face red with the ground around him ablaze. "There goes our shot at information," Sokka solemnly notes.
"Aang, what are we going to do now?" Katara asks.
"I don't know. We'll go north."
- Merry Christmas everyone!
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