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|Smells Like Teen Spirit|
September 25, 2010
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the first part in the five-part fanon mini-series The War, 15 AG, and how they all connect. In "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Xue runs away from his village and hitchhikes away with a bohemian woman named Kirai; Canren is informed that his role as tax collector for the Southwest Earth Kingdom region is being given to someone else; and Ni and Wu duel in the forest.. Five, created and written by , follows five individuals in the South Western Earth Kingdom during the early stages of
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" derives its name from the 1991 song "Smells Like Teen Spirit", being used in this case to refer to the rebellious teenager character of Xue, and—as one of many motifs of Five—the song's lyrics compose several pieces of dialogue throughout the chapter. Five acts as a pastiche, using traditional storytelling tropes, and is similar in concept to films such as Pulp Fiction and Magnolia. Other motifs include the number "five", upon which the title of the mini-series is derived from.
The chapter was released on Avatar Wiki on September 25, 2010, and can be reviewed on its wiki talk page, or comment area at the bottom of the page.
South Western Earth Kingdom
His name was Xue. He was a tall, seventeen-year-old teenage boy, who smelled of roasted leechy nuts. Xue lightly ran his fingers through his dark black hair with one hand, and with his other, he leaned on a tree that curved slightly to its right. He pulled his hand back from his raven locks and placed his fingers around the satchel to his bag, which contained little to nothing other five pairs of clothes and a picture of his father. Even through the way Xue leaned on the tree, the way he handled himself as he merely stood there, beside the dirt road, his filthy soles pressed against the patch of grass, he signaled his rebellious nature—as if he disproved, distrusted even the nature of leaning against a tree.
His name was Xue.
Xue waited there along the road, half-patiently, half-irritated at the lack of carts and other vehicles passing that road that day, thus denting his hitchhiking endeavors. He clicked his tongue as a light breeze brushed by his person. He heard a bumpy, uneven sound break through the irritating silence, and so he turned to look down the dirt road and spot its source. It appeared to be a very small cart, constructed of merely a thick plank for a seat propped on top of two large wheels that hooked on either side, and was being pulled by an old, irritated-looking ostrich horse. Seated on this homemade-looking was a woman—dirty brown hair, a respectable complexion, and worn, browned clothes.
The cart shakily pulled up to Xue, who stepped away from the tree and walked to the very edge of the grass, where the dirt road turned the tips of grass brown. It stopped, and the woman turned to Xue—her eyes; they were pitch green, like a raw emerald. The woman's face was dirty, but even that did not block from what Xue noticed was sheer beauty. Xue cleared his throat, and waved to the woman.
"Ya looking for a ride or something?" she asked.
Xue propped his foot on the wheel and hurled himself up onto the plank seat. He squirmed a bit, the rough, almost splintery texture of the seat making sitting uncomfortable. The woman lightly whipped the old ostrich horse, and the small, makeshift cart set off down the dirt road.
"So, you got a name, kid?" the woman asked Xue.
"I'm not a kid," Xue said, rolling his eyes. "I'm seventeen-years-old. I'm practically an adult."
"Seventeen—that still makes you a teenager, which is like a kid."
"It just makes me young. I'm not some stupid child—and compared to all the other teenagers in my village, I might as well be ancient. In fact, the same goes in comparison to the ridiculously inept actual adults there, too."
"Seems to be a lot of animosity jeered toward this village of yours."
"It's a village of ham-fisted asses. Everyone there always wondered why I hated it so much, why I opposed near everything they ever tried to teach me. I guess they just never looked in the mirror."
The woman shrugged, and the two ceased talking for a few moments.
"Xue. My name's Xue."
"Cute," the woman responded, lightly smirking.
Xue rolled his eyes. "Well, what about you? Do you have a name?"
"Kirai—I guess at least."
"You guess? What, it's your name, how can you not be positive about it?"
"Xue, I'm not exactly positive about most anything about myself."
Xue gave Kirai an inquisitive look.
Kirai began, "Few months back, I woke up in an alleyway in some deadbeat town, with absolutely no memory of anything about my life. Nothing. Not my name, not where I've been, or why I was lying in an alley with no memory of anything. Nobody else in the town knew why, either. One of them nicknamed me Kirai, and so I've been going by that."
"Was this cart there with you? Maybe you got in an accident in it, and that's why you lost your memory. It would also explain why this thing is such a piece of shi—"
"I'm quite aware that this vehicle sucks ass, but it was the only thing I was able to steal when I left that town without feeling guilty," Kirai said, strumming her thumbs against the rope strapped to the ostrich horse; the rough feel of the ropes proved delightful on her fingertips—it gave the sensation of scratching an itch that bothers you yet seems to never go away.
"So, where do you live now?"
"Oh. So, you're, like, a bum?"
"I prefer nomad, but I hear that's distasteful since the Air Nomads died out—I think the term is, 'Too Soon'—so 'bohemian' will suffice."
"Insistent terminology, huh?"
"You're one to talk, Mr. 'Practically Adult'."
Xue rolled his eyes.
"So, Xue, how about you? What're you doing out on your own?"
"Remember a bit ago when I was bitching about my village?"
"They were draining my life away. It was as if their stupidity was rubbing off on me—all of them, stupid and contagious. I-I don't even get how they called it living. It's the same thing every day, and none of them even try to make a stand against the Fire Nation. Did you know, when this war started ten-or-so years ago, not a single man from my village had the balls to sign up? And through some crap loophole, we avoided the draft last month. That's just how cowardly they are! How obsessed they are with keeping everything the same forever. I couldn't take it."
Xue stopped and slapped his shoulder twice.
Kirai, without looking at Xue, propped up her eyebrows curiously. "Nervous tick?"
Xue shook his head. "A mosquito."
"Anyways...Ya know, it's even more than the village's fault. It's...When I was five, and the Fire Nation started colonizing, my father—Fuchou—made a deal with a Fire Nation man; he was some kind of businessman, involved in the financial aspects of those first attacks or something. He promised that our village would be spared if my dad teamed up with him for some business venture—my father, he was a financial genius; I suppose I get my sense from him—but then...then that bastard turned on him. He killed my father one night in their office, and our village was robbed. Not that that mattered—all that mattered was that he took my father from me. My whole life all that's ever driven me is getting out of that damn village, finding that bastard Fire Nation man, and ripping out his heart."
Xue rolled his eyes.
"So," Kirai said, "that's what you're planning on doing? Finding this man and killing him?"
Xue nodded, and like always, when Xue nodded, he nodded with purpose.
"No offense, but you don't seem all that strong—are you at least an Earthbender?"
"Yes, and I'm the best in my village, too. None of them have the wit or passion to actually put any effort into learning it, so it wasn't exactly hard to obtain that title."
"You plan on taking a boat or something to the Fire Nation?"
"I don't need to—the man lives here in the Earth Kingdom, in some private estate he set up a bit outside colonized village called Hai; he acts as one of the Fire Nation's tax collectors now."
"Alright. Well what's this guy's name?"
Xue's light green eyes seemed to darken as he said his name—"Canren."
Canren's estate, outside Hai
Canren was sat down at his table in his office, across from Long—a Fire Nation official Canren had met once or twice before, who had long, black hair that went passed his neck, and a pointed noise. Canren, a slightly broad man with handsome, silk light-black hair, tied in a round ponytail via a golden headpiece, was as always drabbed in the finest clothing: a silk, light red vest placed over a crimson robe and tied by a silk, red band. In the midst of their conversation, Canren—behaviorally—grew impatient, and cut to the chase.
"Now, Long, not I don't just adore small-talk, but I think we'll both be better for it if you just, well, cut to why you're here today."
Long slightly straightened up in his chair, and folded his hands onto the table. "Well, Canren, simply put—the government has decided to replace you as tax collector of the region."
Canren's eyes widened, as he scrunched up his forehead, grit his teeth, and clenched his fist, all in shaking frustration. "...What?"
"Yes, it appears they've decided it would be best to just replace you with a Fire Nation official, namely myself; I'll actually be beginning my rounds after this meeting of our's, in Fen. They've assured me it's nothing personal, just a precaution to cut down costs in time for Sozin's search for the Avatar in the Water Tribe..."
"You have to be kidding me!" Canren threw himself from the chair and onto his feet; his seat was knocked back onto the floor a good two or three feet. "Why in the Lord's name would they even try replacing me for some-some Goddamn suit like your pathetic ass!!"
"Canren! Maintain a level of professionalism, please—"
"Screw your professionalism!" Canren exclaimed, launching his fist onto the table forcefully, causing the table to shake violently. "I'm being thrown out of the job?! No, no, I will not stand for this!!"
"Well, I'm sorry, Canren, but it's out of my hands."
"Your hands? Your hands?!" Canren clutched Long's hands. Long gasped, and Canren gripped them tight—suddenly Long felt his hands burn, and he cringed and hollered in agony.
"D-Dyaaaaaaaaaaah!" Long slipped out of his chair, dropping to his knees in pain.
"I don't give a damn about your hands, Long, or what they clammily obtain! You've sauntered into my home to tell me that I'm being cut out?!"
"Th-the government will still give you ten percent, j-just for acting as a financial supporter in name only. That's quite cush—"
"TEN PERCENT?!" Canren slammed his hands onto the table, which shook once more. "Ten Goddamn percent?!! No! No-no-NO!!"
"What?! It's just half less than you got before—"
"No, you imbecile, it's not! I've been receiving forty percent, forty freaking percent of the taxation profit!" Long gasped briefly. "No...No, that would mean you've been—"
"Been cheating out on the government! Exactly!! Briiiiiliantly deduction, Mr. Long!" Canren shouted, his arms extended far out from his sides. "For the last five years I've been acting as the tax collector for the southwest, I've been collecting forty percent of the profit—not too much, not too little. Just enough to sneak passed the government. And I will not let all of that fall down the drain so they can cut down prices for that senile ass's fruitless quest to find some extinct messiah! It's been fifteen years, it's about time he's accepted that the Avatar is not alive! Long, I will not allow this to happen!"
"Canren, you...you bastard," Long said, getting up on his feet, his legs still slightly shivering. "You couldn't have just accepted the government's simple offer—now I'm not leaving this place until I-I arrest you for stealing from the government!!"
"Stealing from th—" Canren stopped himself from continuing, and he threw himself over the table to launch at Long, who quickly jumped back in an attempt to defend himself. Long hastily threw together an assault, a small Fire Whip that failed to graze Canren; the frustrated businessman dodged the attack, and bended fire around his hand and wrist in a scooping fashion, before chopping down on the small of Long's back. Long, gently spitting up some blood, began collapsing on to the floor, but Canren caught him by his shirt and grabbed his arm, spinning it around, snapping it. Long screamed in pain once more.
Canren dragged Long over and onto the table, slamming the right side of his face hard onto the tabletop. Canren ducked to relay Long some parting words directly into his ear.
"I will not allow my profit to decrease because of you and our ham-fisted government..."
After this, still ducked down to meet Long's ear, Canren gripped his hand tightly around Long's neck, and pressed down against it as hard as he could. Needless to say, after but a few moments—Long groaning breathlessly the whole time—a crack omitted from his neck, and Long's dead body lumped down on the table with Canren stepping away and standing upright.
"So, yes, Mr. Long, I'm afraid you'll have to tell the Fire Nation I've thought about their offer and unfortunately must respond to it with a denial." Canren cracked his neck briefly. "Lee! Prepare the carriage! I'm heading to Fen by morning!"
Forest area, near Hai
As the sunset began nearing its cinematic conclusion, the forest seemed to vibrate in the stillness of the whole area. At a sloping hill shadowed by several large, thick trees whose leaves and branches appeared to be gleaming and glistening orange and yellow in the passion of the falling sun, light slapping against the dirt floor could be heard as the hard feet of the individual known as Ni pressed down onto it as he sauntered through the forest. With nighttime approaching, the peach-colored, scruffy haired Fire Nation man planned to trekked down to Hai by nightfall, and take up rest in a bar or something in the colony where he would undoubtedly be accepted, being an official imperial citizen.
Ni always preferred to get to locations quicker than he desired—a sort of tick, an instinctive way of him merely, and involuntarily, causing minor complications against his schedule—so his strides were executed in pairs. His trick knee would make a light cracking noise after every ten-or-so strides, but the jolting feeling he was sent when this occurred was rather comforting, as if a way to keep himself awake and aware. A status that helped him as he found himself dodging from a large consumption of fire that was rocketing directly at the small of his back that very moment; he bent his knees, flattened his back like a surfboard, and then cocked his leg back and upward to bend the blast over his head, all in a fluid motion.
Ni crouched down a few inches more, sweeping himself around to face the direction of the blast. He slowly unwounded, standing up to his competent height of six feet, seven inches, and looked around to surprisingly find nobody anywhere.
Wu, Ni thought. After five years he still thinks he can surprise me.
Ni was jerkily spun around by a tight grip on his shoulder, and top of his shoulder-blade, as well, and while still in the midst of being hurled into the direction he was quite forcefully punched square his face, sending him a few feet into the air and several feet backwards up the sloped hill. The left side of his body was smushed sideways against the forest floor, his hooded, pale red clothing being stained with dirt and grass, and he lightly spit some blood that was pouring out from his bent tooth, which was driving into his gums—a result from the seriously impressive punch—while lightly sputtering. As he picked himself up, stumbling a bit on the rough, sliding surface, he remarked, still sputtering a bit, "Well, I will admit that...that seriously surprised me..."
Wu stood across from him, ready to attack him once more; as always, he was clad in a sleeveless, black shirt lined with red, his very thin, but marble-like black hair flattened back even further down his pale head.
Ni zipped down the slope, and as he neared Wu, he slowly slipped and slid sideways in time to still grab onto Wu's right shin, pulling him backwards and down onto the ground with him. Wu immediately curled sideways, whipping a dagger from his pants and, holding it tightly, attempted to strike it right into Ni, who rolled away just in time, making the dagger do nothing more but stab the dirt floor. Ni launched himself back up and onto his feet, and fanned a gush of fire to slice down on Wu, but Wu parted it away with his fingertips, in the same motion as he threw himself up from the ground and at Ni, tossing him down to the ground. Wu punched Ni in his face two times before Ni caught the fist and quickly burned his knuckles, allowing him to hold onto Wu's arm and throw his attacker to the ground on the right side of him.
Wu suddenly let his body limp and he began rolling down the hillside. Ni scrambled to get onto his feet, darting after Wu's tumbling self, blasting rushed blasts of fire at his attacker with no damage—the darkness of night had hit the forest with a bang, sending nearly the entire area into complete blackness, and Ni could barely see where he was firing. As he reached the flat part of the land, where the forest began to merge with the city limits, Wu's eyes had adjusted, and he took clearer shots at Ni, who—now on his feet—needed to block them manually.
Wu cracked his left wrist as he readied himself to sprint over to Ni, as their battle neared the occupied city itself.
Outside Fen, night
It was quite late into the night as the small, laughable cart clattered down the dirt road far enough to allow Xue and Kirai to see the edge of the town of Fen.
"Well, this took a monotonously long time," Xue said, rolling his eyes. "It's pitch black outside—in fact, since it's midnight, it's technically just a few hours 'till tomorrow; that's a pretty damn long time to get to some town for resting."
"It's for the best," Kirai said, shrugging. "This is where I prefer to crash. As for the late hour, with the lights out, it's less dangerous."
"Danger? What danger?"
"Xue, trust me—when you're a bohemian, everything is dangerous."
"Well, I'm not a bohemian, Kirai."
Xue scratched his shoulder blade, and the two stayed silent as they sailed closer to the entrance of the town.
Writing and motifs
Five was a concept The War.came up with to stretch his writing prowess and set up a story that was very unlike that of his main project, . He wanted to do something that structurally was different from anything he had done before; as a final result, the fanon became a mini-series which chronicles the lives of five individuals in the Southwest Earth Kingdom in 15 AG, fifteen years into
The story is a pastiche, embracing traditional storytelling elements and tropes that in recent years have gone to become known as either cliches or classic ideas. This is prevalent throughout "Smells Like Teen Spirit": Xue notes that he desires to seek revenge on his father's murderer, a classic literary technique that has been used countless times before, Kirai has lost her memory and wonders about her lost past, Canren is a money hungry "executive" type person in the vein of characters such as Mr. Pots in the film It's a Wonderful Life, and Wu is a wordless man of mystery, with his and Ni's five-year-long battle acting as an homage to Western films. The story itself, following five individuals in one area and how their lives relate and intertwine, is similar to films such as Pulp Fiction and Magnolia.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" derives its name from the 1991 song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, being used in this case to refer to the rebellious teenager character of Xue, and—as one of many motifs of Five—the song's lyrics compose several pieces of dialogue throughout the chapter:
- Xue: "It was as if their stupidity was rubbing off on me—all of them, stupid and contagious."
- Xue: "A mosquito."
- Canren: "[...]and unfortunately must respond to it with a denial."
- Kirai: "As for the late hour, with the lights out, it's less dangerous."
The number five plays an important role in Five, obviously, and in the chapter, it is displayed numerous times. Xue was five-years-old when his father was murdered; Xue's bag contains five articles of clothing; Canren has been tax collector for the southwest for five years; Wu and Ni have been battling for five years. The story will also contain five chapters, take place over five days, and feature five main characters
Though Five is not officially connected with Better World, it could easily fit in with its continuity past, and The Lord—the main spirit in Better World 's mythology—is mentioned in "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
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