This is not yet finished, but I decided to just start posting it anyway and I'll get time to finish it later. I don't want my fanon to be inactivated and I want to show that I'm doing work, I suppose full complete installments are going to have to wait until I get it started up and enough feedback on the length, story, etc. This is the first "third" of this particular chapter

Chapter Summary

Summary text goes here.

Section 1: Once upon a time, on a boat out at sea...

A young man stood out on the deck. It was a chilly Morning, the sun blocked out by grey clouds circling up above in the sky. He drew his coat closer to his body, but the cold wind wrapped around him- stealing away his warmth at every chance it got. He was not concentrating on that though, his plain discomfort merely a byproduct of instinct- for his mind was off elsewhere, his body fueled not by the warmth outside but the warmth of happier times.

"Will you come back?"

"I don't.. know."

"Why don't you know?"

"'How can I."

They were both still and silent, holding each other's gaze in a way their hands never could. Her face was contorted, quivering in a torrent of mixed frustration and sorrow that she could not express without letting it all out... and though he tried to maintain an aura of calm, he knew she could see the tears forming in his own eyes.

Instinctively he stepped back, averting his gaze. As they stood apart, he thought she might break- and after a few seconds, he turned his head up. But when he did, he saw her face was no longer vulnerable or sad- but back to its familiar, beautiful scowl.

"You won't die," she said. "You won't, you'll come back and I'll be here."

"I can't make any promises," he said.

She slapped him, hard, her fingernails tearing throw his skin all the way- leaving a raw, burning scratch on his right cheek. "Don't you DARE say that to me!" she yelled at him. "You WILL come back!!".

"You don't know that" he continued; his tears gone, his face stern.

"I do," she said, grabbing him by the waist and shaking him. He sometimes forgot how strong she was, despite being a good half foot shorter than him. "And you'll remember," she said, drawing him close- "when you're away, you'll remember and you'll be good. You'll come back".

They were very close now. He could feel her breath and she his, their eyes still locked. "I'll try," he said.

"No," she said, her lips nearly touching his. "You will". She kissed him. A warmth passed over him that made the cold drizzle overhead melt away, as if it weren't there. He couldn't see the world around him, hear the sounds of the busy streets just beyond the garden bridge where they stood. Time and space were flattened, and it felt as if the world had been reduced to this one moment.

Pulling away, she looked up at him. They stared at each other for a moment, before embracing.

"MAJOR TAKATSU!" a familiar voice boomed, shattering his concentration. The momentary happiness that seemed to flood his body drained, the memory- so vivid only seconds ago, already fading like sand between his fingers. He wrenched his mind back to the present, looking back over his shoulder towards a pudgy, eldery man making his way towards him.

Section 2: Duty Calls

In spite of his rank and reputation, Major Takatsu Osori was only 26 years old. He had darkish skin, dark hair, dark eyes and a freckled but handsome face. He was very tall for an Umïese person, standing at about 6'2 (188 cm). Physically fit and visibly muscular, he was dressed in an impeccably clean prussian blue military tunic, complete with a navy kepi, black tie, white undershit, dark trousers and black combat boots.

"There you are!" shouted the pudgy old man, huffing as he strode towards him, "had to ask like 6 different people if they'd saw you". "SIR, KWUROIHA-MA'I!" Takatsu yelled, forcing himself to stand at attention. "At ease, Major" the Kwuroiha dismissed, "what are you doing out here?"

General Kwuroiha Ihao's exploits were legendary in the Imperial Military, though you wouldn't know it by looking at him. He was a short, squat, pudgy man, standing at least 6 inches under Takatsu. He had a gentle, clean shaven face and which seemed to have a smile etched into it regardless of mood. He was dressed in waist-high Prussian blue trousers, combat boots and a loose navy military jacket that did not give justice to his great belly.

"Sir, nothing, sir" Takatsu lied. "Come now, Takatsu" Kwuroiha said, wagging his finger "no man comes out to the railing just for nothing". Takatsu sighed. "You worried, Major?" Kwuroiha said, smiling "we're still at least 2 aspects from shore, best relax". With that, he gave Takatsu a great clap on the back- for his stature, Kwuoriha sure could hit hard. Tumbling forward a bit, Takatsu yelped "sir, yes, sir!"

"Sheesh, always so formal!" Kwuroiha lamented, though his smile did not fade. "They told me you were a bit grim". "Did they" Takatsu said, his voice monotoned- he wished he could roll his eyes. "Mm, yes" Kwuroiha replied, looking pensive- "hmm, now that I think about it I think the dossier said, "not known to smile". Is this true, Major Takatsu, you don't smile?" "Not often sir, no" Takatsu replied, this time truthfully. "Why not Major" Kwuroiha asked. "Just.. don't see, if there's work to be done why smile?" Takatsu wasn't exactly sure how to describe it- he just wasn't the type to joke around.

"Not even for your country, you wouldn't smile?" Kwuroiha now looked serious. "Sir, what? No of course I wou-" "not even as we sail towards virgin lands, the hopes and dreams of our peoples riding on the backs of these ships!?" Kwuoriha began to lecture, Takatsu's eyes widening. "HOW DARE you insult our great nation, the trust and respect that it's put in you- the charges it's given to you, the very MISSION entrusted to you that YOU CAN'T EVEN BOTHER TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT?" Takatsu flew into attention, his salute rigid and his eyes skyward. "YOU WILL SMILE!" Kwuroiha barked, "you WILL because you FEEL LOVE for our country and that great flag!" he shouted, pointing at one flying in the wind- a yellow sun emblazoned over a deep blue background.

Feeling fear and annoyance at this sudden mood change, Takatsu faked a toothy smile. He didn't feel much love for this stupid mission, though he wasn't about to let Kwuroiha know that. "NOT GENUINE ENOUGH!" Kwuroiha yelled, "HAPPIER!" His smile now comically wide, Kwuroiha continued to yell "EYES OPEN MORE! WIDER!" The muscles were tense and began to hurt- it'd been awhile since he'd done this. But it all faded away with a derisive snort from Kwuroiha, who seemed to be unable to contain himself and broke into a fit of garbled laughter.

Not even noticing it, Takatsu fell out of attention and looked solemnly at the old man, holding his chest and heaving near the railing. He'd been duped. "Oh man" Kwuroiha choked, wiping his eyes "should've... seen your face Major. No sense of humor, indeed, you have me crying with it". "Glad I was able to boost morale" Takatsu said, every syllable stressed with suppressed rage and humiliation. "Aw, don't be a sore" Kwuroiha said, clapping him on the shoulder, "you've just been cooped up, we all have. Everyone's a bit too tense". "Hard to see how that is with your sense of humor, sir" Takatsu snapped. Kwuroiha looked surprised for a second, and then let out another bark of laughter.

"Too true!" Kwuroiha nodded, "nobody gets me, I am so ill understood. You know, when I retire, I plan on becoming a poet." "You write poetry?" Takatsu said, failing to hide the genuine curiosity in his voice. "I do" Kwuroiha laughed, "not very well, but I feel that is true of all poetry- so I will fit right in". Takatsu didn't smile, though he appreciated the attempt. Kwuroiha grinned, "I see only threats break you, Major."

"Is there something you needed, sir?" Takatsu asked, trying to move him more towards the point of finding him out here. He wished he could return to his thoughts- memories of happier times, where there were no boats or annoying Generals to disturb the little time he wasn't spending training, cleaning or studying. "Yes!" Kwuroiha said, holding his hand up to the sky "yes indeed, Major. I need your help". "With what?" Takatsu asked. "Well, uh, it's a bit complicated but, come with me" Kwuroiha implored, pointing towards the pilothouse. Takatsu could see a group of young sailors there with their shirts off, practicing waterbending.

"They don't need me, sir" Takatsu said, turning back towards the sea. "Uh" Kwuroiha grumbled, "no you see, like I said Major we're all a little tense..." "Sailors, General?" Kwuroiha continued, "they're all waterbenders, they know what they're doing". "Ah" Kwuroiha exclaimed, "but that's the thing. I overheard one of them claiming you were a phony and that you aren't fit for your rank."

Takatsu glared at the General, thinking of several responses... all of them rather nasty. He settled with a rather neutral one. "The men can think what they want" Takatsu said with every intent of appearing calm, "it's of no concern to me". "It is to me though Major" Kwuroiha said, bouncing on the balls of his feet, "we can't have crew spreading these sorts of rumors."

Takatsu looked out wistfully at the ocean beyond. He wondered which rumor it was. That he was overrated, and rode on the backs of the other six. That he was a coward for surviving. That his rank was only because of his family, not worth. That he was too young, too naïve or too risky.

"So punish him, sir" Takatsu monotoned, "I don't see why I am needed." Kwuroiha's smile widened and he seemed barely unable to contain his excitement. "You see, Major," he said wagging his finger, "you understand now. His punishment is dueling you."

Section 3: The Fight

More to come!

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