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|Searching for Instruction|
13 December 2011
Searching for Instruction is chapter seven of The Weatherbenders.
With the Fire Nation fallen, Team Avatar has to get on the move to find the Weatherbending master explained to them.
Fire Nation Capital
General Tizou ran across the snow-covered streets, lacking the sufficient clothing in the bitter cold weather. Nevertheless, he was on the move against three of the men he once considered to be his strongest allies. They shot fire blasts at him as he continued to run.
"Get over here," one of the men commanded. "By order of Fire Lord Zorro, you are under arrest!"
Tizou continued to run. He needed to find a place to hide to gather up some kind of resistance against the Meteorologist reign. He knew he could find those who were willing to fight. It was just a matter of where. Nevertheless, for now, he needed to keep his chance alive at the very least, as he couldn't do anything if he was behind bars. The general found an old, abandoned shop and broke into it, kicking the door open. He then hid in a storage area, out of breath. His chasers lost track of him after some time.
"Zorro will not be happy," one of the officers said to one of his comrades.
"How will we explain this?" The other officer replied, as they headed back towards the Royal Palace.
Southern Water Tribe
The last seventy-two hours could not have gone worse for Team Avatar. In that time, they were defeated by the Meteorologists, had one of their allies killed, and Zuko had been deposed as Fire Lord. However, they knew that giving up was not going to happen. Thus, they began to pack up their supplies to begin their trek to find the Weatherbending master they were told of. Aang knew it had to be soon; the spirits said he would arrive during a time of hardship.
"So, where are we going to?" Suki asked. "The Fire Nation is obviously not going to be a good place for us."
"Not unless we disguise ourselves again," Sokka replied, recalling the summer of Sozin's Comet.
"Wouldn't a disguise be counter-productive anyway to our finding of this guy?" Zuko wondered out loud, as he was being lifted up on to Appa.
"Yeah, so that's the problem," Aang said. "Either we stay here and look across the South Pole, or we head towards the Earth Kingdom."
"I vote for the Earth Kingdom," Toph replied, raising her hand. "At least I have some chance of seeing! It's bad enough my hands and feet are still wrapped in these bandages, I can't feel anything on this snowy ground! How do you people live here?"
"You get used to it after some time," Katara replied, "Though I guess because of your situation, it would be harder for you."
The team continued to pack up their stuff and load it on to the Avatar's bison. They first decided they would scan any habitable areas of the Southern Water Tribe, then move on to the Earth Kingdom. All they knew was that this man, whoever he may be, where ever he may be, was to be found somewhere, and they had to find him quick...or else.
The icy seas
His boat tore through some areas of ice as he made his way back towards the south, still a day away from the Southern Water Tribe. Reeaki was looking out in that direction, thinking that Team Avatar was still down there. He had received his warnings from the spirits, and was now on his way to teach them in the art of Weatherbending. He pondered how difficult it would be; he had only experience in the Firebending arts of the weather, and only picked up a limited amount of scrolls when he deserted the Meteorologists. He reminded himself that the spirits were nearby should he need the help, but still, teaching the team the other arts would not be easy, as he couldn't demonstrate the moves.
If the Meteorologists are to be taken down...I have to do what I can. Even if I can't do it all...I can and have to do something.
He saw his temperature reading drop to -9.4°C, another clear indication he was nearing the South Pole. Little did he know, however, that Team Avatar was back on the move again.
Southern Water Tribe
Traveling on Appa, the entire gang asked around the various villages, asking if they had seen a man who was able to manipulate the weather. They had very little, if any success. Most of the villagers said they didn't, some were confused and calling them plain silly, not believing in Weatherbending. One person actually yelled at them, saying "People tampering with the weather? They are tampering in spiritual matters, and you kids should not be doing so!"
With most of the remaining South Pole un-inhabitable, Team Avatar elected to stop searching there and move towards the Earth Kingdom. Before they left, however, they went to see Hakoda, at Katara and Sokka's request.
At the chief's headquarters, the entire team walked in, the brother and sister leading the way.
"Hello again everyone," Hakoda said. "What's going on?"
"Dad, we're going to be getting back on the move again. Aang, Katara, and Zuko need to find a Weatherbending master, and we have to find some way to stop the Meteorologists," Sokka explained.
"We're hoping it won't take too long," Katara added.
Hakoda nodded, though a bit disappointed that he was again going to be separated from his children. Nevertheless, he walked up in front of them, and kneeled down, placing each of his hands on one of their shoulders. "I understand. This is going to be a tough fight...as long as you kids are okay, take all the time you need. You know...you have each made me one of the proudest fathers in the world. All I ask is that you stay safe...and good luck." He then looked straight at his son. "Sokka...there is a reason I asked you to succeed me. I know you will pull through." He then turned towards his daughter. "Katara...I always knew you were going to be a special child. I was right. Do our tribe well."
After this, the siblings nodded, and engaged in a group hug with their father. When this ended, Hakoda stood up and looked at the entire group. "To everyone...the Southern Water Tribe offers their support. You have all worked to save us before. I know you can all do it again. The Meteorologists are tough, but you're all the strongest fighters in the world." He looked at the young Avatar. "Aang...continue to take good care of my daughter."
The Avatar nodded. "You can count on me, Chief Hakoda."
"Zuko," the chief then addressed the now-deposed Fire Lord. "Good luck in getting your country back. I know you can do it."
The eighteen-year-old also nodded, and engaged Hakoda in a Water Tribe handshake. "I will, and I promise to ensure our relations with the Southern Water Tribe are un-harmed."
After these good wishes were completed, the team left Hakoda's headquarters, ready for whatever faced them, knowing they had a solid base of support.
Over the sea
The group was now in the air, flying over the icy seas, that, still unknown to them, their Weatherbending master was now going across. They saw the boat traveling south, but had no clue that it was their guy. Regardless, they moved north towards the Earth Kingdom. Their first stop would be the southern fringes, any place where someone might be hiding out. Aang was atop Appa's head, Katara next to him and resting her head on his shoulder. On the saddle, Mai and Zuko were snuggling, Suki was rubbing Sokka's arm, and Toph was looking straight head.
"You think this guy is some secret?" Toph asked. "Why would he be?"
"Well, Jeong Jeong was quite a secret," Aang noted. "We found him in some random area, hiding out."
"I just hope that means he won't say something about weather being just destruction and then he refuses to teach us," Sokka noted, recalling Jeong Jeong's initial declining of Aang early in their journey.
They continued to fly north towards the Earth Kingdom, wondering whatever would be in their way.
Back on board the Fire Nation boat, Reeaki was closing in on the villages of the Southern Water Tribe. However, he gasped when he saw the sky bison flying well over his head. Quickly, Reeaki realized that the team was on the move from the South Pole. He turned, and tried to keep up with their path. He could only hope, as Appa was outspeeding his little boat. Nevertheless, as long as he had them in eyeshot, he could keep up.
Zorro sat on his throne, studying his next moves. The new Fire Lord knew he needed time to get his men into shape before they could strike. He did not know where Team Avatar or Reeaki were at that time. All he needed for now was to round up members of Zuko's staff to cut off any revolts. That was when the two officers who were chasing Tizou returned empty-handed. Zorro looked up with a look of disgust and yelled out, "Are you two kidding me? Where is the general I demanded?"
The officer on the left, Zein Shui, looked to his operative on the right, Seizai, as if to gesture for him to explain. Seizai did the same.
"I demand an answer, NOW!" Zorro yelled.
Zein Shui finally decided to take the fall. "We were chasing him, and well, he got somewhere and escaped from our grasp. We don't know where he is at the moment," the officer explained, looking nervous.
Zorro shot a fire whip, the two officers moving so as to make it split the gap. "Unbelievable! I ask you two to do one simple task, and you botch it. Tizou should not have broken free! Now -- leave at once and FIND HIM!" The Fire Lord's tone was one of great anger.
Tizou was keeping himself within the storage room, when he found another person in there with him. "General Azai," he said, recognizing the man as soon as possible.
"You escaped Zorro's cronies as well?" Azai asked him.
"That's right," Tizou nodded. "I was wandering near my home, and two officers came up to me and said they needed to see me. I knew that they were clearly not to be trusted. Thus, I went on the run and found this abandoned shop. I did not expect anyone else to be here, however."
Azai nodded. "I understand. I am hoping to set this up as a meeting place. It is not much, but it will keep us away from Zorro's cronies for the time being. I too was nearly caught, but I just dodged them and got in here before they even saw me. He has them everywhere."
Tizou was puzzled. "What do you mean, a meeting spot?"
Azai too was confused. "General Tizou, do you really think the entire military and capital will conform to Fire Lord Zorro? Zuko has been quite popular, especially in the last year. We will be able to get enough support for a rebellion against this wretched cause."
Tizou saw what Azai was getting at, but there were pressing matters. "This shop is small, and we would eventually need a better hiding place. Zorro would be watching us like a hawk. Also, how are we going to track down possible rebels?"
"It's simpler than you think," Azai said. "But we will need to do some work ourselves."
Over the skies
Sokka looked over Appa's saddle and saw the small boat following their path. "Hey," he spoke up. "Does anyone else notice that that little boat has been our trail all day? It's pretty distant, but just saying."
Aang was confused. "I don't notice any boat," he turned to Sokka and said.
"That's because you're looking forward," Sokka replied. "Look up here and see."
Aang nodded slightly. "Okay. Katara, take control of Appa for a second."
Katara took the reigns from her boyfriend as he approached the top of the saddle. When there, Sokka gave the young Avatar a telescope. "See for yourself," the Southern Prince said.
Aang looked through the telescope and saw the small boat. "Well, looks like you are right, Sokka," he nodded and said. "There is a boat out there."
The rest of the team followed up and looked back. After Aang took a look, Katara got to the top of the saddle after handing the reigns back to Aang. She too, saw the boat. "Sokka, do you know what nation it is?" She asked her brother.
"I can't tell," he replied. "But, after what happened, I'm not sure I like the idea of a boat stalking us. We should pick up some speed.
Aang quickly whipped Appa's reins and the sky bison responded with an increase in speed.
Reeaki looked up at the bison, which was now starting to escape from his sight. "Oh, no!" He set up his boat to increase speed as far as he could, now starting to get desperate. "If only there was a way I could talk to them..."
"Faster!" Sokka yelled, the boat still in sight. Appa was near his fastest speed, and soon, Reeaki's boat was totally out of view. "All right, we're clear," Sokka added.
"Thanks, buddy," Aang said to his animal companion as he instructed him to slow down. Appa gave a growl of approval.
"That was a close call," Suki said. "Now, how far are we from the Earth Kingdom? It's almost sunset..."
"Shouldn't be too much longer," Katara answered.
Aboard his deck, Reeaki totally lost sight of Appa, continuing his northward journey, but now slowing down himself. "This is not good..." he said to himself. He looked at the Fire Nation flag that topped his boat with great sadness. "The Fire Nation fell...and there's almost nothing that can be done."
He kept sailing north, hoping for anything.
Southern Earth Kingdom
Appa landed on the ground. The team was in another quiet area, away from any villages. They decided it would to be for the best, with the night now settling in. They all worked to unload their mode of transportation and set up camp for the night. Before calling it a night, however, they first decided to have dinner. It was a cooking that everyone contributed to: Zuko and Sokka gathered up firewood, Aang and Toph acquired various ingredients for a soup, Mai had brought dishes straight from the Royal Palace before they had left, and Suki and Katara helped to cook the meal. Katara bent some of the soup out of the boiling cauldron, and shot it into Appa's opened mouth. After this, the rest of the team dug in.
"So, what's the plan for tomorrow?" Suki asked.
"We just have to keep doing what we're doing," Aang said. "We'll go into a nearby village and ask anyone who has heard of Weatherbending, and maybe anyone who does have the ability."
"The problem is," Katara pointed out, "Only one person out there knows it...and this is a large kingdom. There's no guarantee, either, that this guy is even in the Earth Kingdom."
"We didn't find him in the Fire Nation," Toph said, after taking another sip of her soup. "So, that narrows it down to this place and the Northern Water Tribe. Though, you are right about one thing, Katara. It could take weeks to scour this whole place. It's hard enough we have all these little villages, what about the big cities, like Omashu and Ba Sing Se?"
"Well, at the same time, we can't sit around and wait for this guy to come to us, either," Aang also made note of. "What are the odds that he'll find us?"
"And if we don't find him?" Zuko said. "Do we go back to the Fire Nation? We should at least help to support any revolt. You know not everyone will just conform to Zorro."
"Then how do we beat them without Weatherbending? They'll just unleash some freak temperature change or blizzard on us!" Sokka yelled out. "It's bad enough that one guy with the sword was able to use it as an ice whip!"
Zuko sighed. "I guess...it is true that as of right now we have no way to counter what they can do."
"It would basically be the exact same of what happened last week," Aang said. "We could probably keep them at bay for a while, then they would just make us lose with, like what Sokka said, some Weatherbending move."
"Well, we should set some amount of time to change our plans if we don't find this guy, regardless," Zuko again spoke. "Zorro won't waste time...he already will have aspects of a fully-trained military at his disposal. If he teaches them Weatherbending, it could get ugly."
"I think a month is a good amount of time," Suki said.
"If I have an understanding of Zorro," Sokka then spoke, "I would think he wouldn't wait long. Zuko, you recall that he said he liked the days of your father. He wants the world, and he wants it now."
"Well, if we figure in the training, a month sounds about right," Zuko said.
"He could go fast. Ozai didn't wait...first opportunity he got it, he wanted to burn down the Earth Kingdom," Aang pointed out. "Could be as little as two weeks."
"Another good point," Toph said. "This guy is some freak of nature, he sent his people out on all three nations to mess with our weather!"
"The sooner, the better," Zuko nodded and said. "All I know is I want to get control of the Fire Nation back, and do what I promised to do."
"Then two weeks it is," Aang said. "If we don't find him within the next two weeks, we'll have to go to the Fire Nation and prepare to start or support a revolt."
Little did they know that not even two days would pass.
Tears in the night
As the entire team called it a night and all went to sleep, only one remained stirring.
He heard her at some distance away, crying softly, still wanting her back. He awoke and went over to her tent. There, she saw her, face buried in her hands, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Katara?" His voice whispered, and she turned around to see him, worry lighting up his face. However, she said nothing.
He moved next to her and gathered her into his arms, brushing her hair, wiping the tears that strayed from her crystal blue eyes.
"Aang...I miss her...despite what you and Suki said...I can't get over her death," she whispered into his ear, her words choked by her cries.
"Shhh..." he whispered, and kissed her on her forehead, softly yet warmly.
She found comfort in his affection, feeling just how much he loved her. She then tucked her head under his. "I will be as strong as I can...for her...but I still miss her so much...she was my best friend."
"Katara...I'm going to tell you something Pathik told me at the Eastern Air Temple," he said. "Sometimes, we have a love for someone, so strong, that we have a hard time getting over it when it's gone...like what I had for my people. But...that love is replaced by a new love.."
She closed her eyes...saw her mom, and then Ty Lee...but they each faded away. Her next sight, however...was him. It was her new love...all her love and affection reborn within him.
"The fourth chakra, it's called, it deals with love and is blocked by grief," he whispered. "Love unblocks it."
"Aang," she started. "I think I know what unblocks my fourth chakra." Her frown changed to a smile, and tears streamed down her face, now those of happiness. "I love you..."
"I love you too," he returned her words. "And I always will."
The two kissed, and although it was not long, it was deep and affectionate. He then embraced her, to make sure she was okay.
Moments passed with the two holding one another closely, and then slowly, the sadness began to fade from her, taking comfort within his arms.
After a few minutes, she separated. "I'll be all right, Aang...thank you so much. I don't know what I would do without you."
"I am glad to hear that," he said. "I know you are a strong girl...you've made it through so much...you'll get through this. But, should you feel sadness again...don't hesitate to find me. I'll always be here."
With a bright smile, she kissed him again, and followed this with a bid of goodnight.
He walked back to his tent, feeling assured, but also glad that she would be okay, and happy that he could be there for her at her time of need.
The smooth seas
Reeaki was on board his humble vessel, refusing to give up his northward journey. It was late, and he was tired. Nevertheless, he pushed onward, knowing potentially that the world's fate was at stake.
He figured by now that the Meteorologists had gotten to the Fire Nation Capital, but was yet to know as to whether or not it had fallen. Nevertheless, the young man of another world would continue his trek to teach Team Avatar Weatherbending. He had all of his needed technology and scrolls ready, it was just a matter of finding them, and for that matter, explaining his odd status.
However, it was now or never. It didn't feel good that Team Avatar fled when they sighted his boat. But, he had to all he could. The spirits said he had to teach them, and teach he would. Then, they would fight.
With the hours getting late, and Reeaki keeping his path consistent, he decided to sleep, hoping that the next day would bring what he was hoping for.
The team rose and ate a fulfilling breakfast, Katara in better spirits after the comforting actions of Aang. They were ready to move to the first of what they believed would be many villages along the way to find their Weatherbending master.
Near the coastline where Team Avatar was situated, Reeaki was approaching, his boat coming back into their view. Sokka, while loading his stuff on to Appa, turned to notice the rapidly approaching boat.
"Guys, pick it up a little! That boat is back!" The Southern Prince yelled.
Some members followed Sokka's urgent cry, but others didn't. "What are the rest of you waiting for? Come on!"
Aang and Katara were looking at the boat, noticing its lack of personnel, size, or weaponry. "Sokka," Aang began. "I don't see the big issue here. That little boat looks harmless."
"Aang," Sokka said. "It has a Fire Nation flag on it! Need I remind you Zorro and his freaks just captured the Fire Nation? He's probably sending the military after us!"
"Then instead of running," Zuko approached and said, "let's take them on. We're all masters of our elements. We can take them."
Sokka reluctantly nodded. "All right. Everyone, get over here. Let's take Zorro's cronies down!"
The benders assumed their various stances. Sokka drew his sword, Suki moved into a chi-blocking stance, and Mai drew her sais.
The boat docked at the shore. The next thing they knew, a young man stepped off the boat. He was about six feet tall and wore common Fire Nation clothing. He approached Team Avatar slowly. "At last...I have found you," the young man said. "Please...do not attack me," he took notice of their fighting stances. "I am an ally."
Sokka kept his sword out. "Yeah, sure," he said to him. "You're from the Fire Nation! You've been sent to kill us."
The arrival shook his head. "No, I haven't," he said nervously. He then bowed before them, getting on his knees. "I am here to help...I promise."
"I have never seen you in the Fire Nation," Zuko turned to him.
"Most likely not," he then said. "My name is Reeaki...I have only been in this world for a year."
Aang broke out his fighting stance. "Wait a minute...did you say this world?"
Reeaki nodded. "That's correct. I'm not from your world. I don't even know how I got here...it's all a mystery."
"What we can tell you is that he is in your world under mysterious circumstances..." Pokai's words came back to Aang, Katara and Zuko. "Oh...my gosh," Katara said. "Guys, don't attack him!"
Every member then dropped their individual fighting stances.
"Tell us then," Zuko began. "Have you ever heard of an art called Weatherbending?"
"Yes," Reeaki said, now getting up off the ground. "I practice the art within Firebending."
"Firebender?" Aang asked him, before more of Pokai's words came back to him. "He is a Firebender who broke free from the Meteorologists."
"One more thing," Katara asked, recalling the same statement. "Have you ever heard of a group called 'The Meteorologists'?"
"Indeed," Reeaki responded, nodding. "In fact, I used to be one of their members..."
Aang, Katara and Zuko looked at each other, then looked back at him. "We know what you're supposed to be, Aang said, and the three bowed before Reeaki.
TO BE CONTINUED...
"What do you mean, you lost track of that traitor?!" Zorro yelled at another one of his generals.
"We tracked him from the Fire Nation to around the Southern Water Tribe," the general explained. "After that, he seemed to get away from us. He must have traveled east, towards the Earth Kingdom."
Zorro pounded the desk with his fist. "Get back on Reeaki's trail and capture him before he gets to Team Avatar! Right now, that no-good brat is the last thing that stands between us and world domination!"
The general nodded and left to prepare further strategy. Zorro then turned to see another general approaching. "You had better have good news," he demanded.
"I do, Fire Lord," the general said, bowing before Zorro. "The military is in top Firebending shape, and is ready to begin their Weatherbending training tomorrow."
Zorro grinned for the first time that day. "Very well. That process should take some time. As long as that traitor doesn't get to Team Avatar, our plans will be in place. As long as you don't mess this up," he turned back to the general, "We shall be able to control the Water Tribes in just two short months, if my estimates are correct. Now, move along."
The general bowed again and left. Meanwhile, Ezan came up and placed a hand on Zorro's shoulder. The Fire Lord, grinning largely, turned to his close friend. "Ezan...we are well on our way to making the word ours."
Ezan nodded. "Indeed we are," he said. "Finally, we shall complete what Sozin set out to do a hundred years ago. Zorro, however, you did not answer I question I asked you the other day...what do we do about Kianna and Baktan?"
Zorro rubbed his hands. "They'll have their role. Once we capture the Water Tribes, they'll do our bidding there."
Ezan again nodded. "I see. So...shall we plot out strategy?"
"Yes," Zorro said. "Gather up the Waterbenders and all the top generals."
As Ezan left, Zorro made his way upstairs and stood out over the balcony of the Royal Palace, looking out over the Fire Nation seas. "Today...the Fire Nation. Soon...the world," he said as he raised his arms out. "What started out as a humble group of four will soon see every nation cower before us. This world is ours...and Sozin's goal will finally be fulfilled."
The wait for Reeaki is over!
Of course, as you would expect, the roots for rebellion are being planted. Not everyone indeed went along with Zorro.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Changing Weather - Not Your Typical Days - Regathering the Team - Into the Fire Nation - The Masters of Weather - The Meteorologists Attack - Recovery and Disasters - Searching for Instruction - Reeaki's Arrival - Training - Reverberations - A Dire Warning - Can We Hold Together? - Last Preparations - The Final Showdown, Part 1 - The Final Showdown, Part 2 - Survivors of the Conflict - Moving Forward
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