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|The Boy in the Iceberg|
December 13, 2013
Six years had passed since that terrible day, the day Katara's mother died. She and Sokka had returned from a fishing trip. When asked if they were able to catch anything, Sokka through down a single, small fish. The tribe looked disappointed.
"Well, at least you tried," Kanna told them.
"Well we would have gotten more," Said Sokka, "If Little Miss Waterbender here hadn't-"
"Don't blame me just because you're a terrible fisherman!"
A great load of fish was piled on top of Sokka's. Hikoda had returned from his own fishing trip.
"Well this should keep us going for at least a week," He announced cheerfully.
The tribe, however, showed no recognition for Hikoda's work, although they did take the fish without thanking him.
"Hey, uh, what happened to this fish?"
Sokka picked up one of them that looked slightly burnt.
"Did you firebend these fish?" He demanded to know.
"Well, most of them," Hikoda admitted, "It seemed the easiest way to catch fish."
Hikoda caught the eye of his mother, who was walking by, who then sadly looked away. Sokka grunted as he threw the fish to the ground.
"Do you think any of us want your firebended fish?" He demanded to know, picking another one up, "I mean look at them! Look at them, they're all –they're all cooked!"
He threw it at Hikoda.
"Sokka, it's fish. It's supposed to be cooked."
"Yeah well, this one is too well done for my liking!"
"Well fine, if you're going to make a fuss about it I'll have the burnt ones so that you can have the raw ones-"
"No wait! Since you like charred fish so much you can have ones that you didn't kill with magic fire."
And he walked away.
"Oh, and Sokka, I'd leave your sister alone if I was you."
"I don't need you protecting me, Hikoda!" Katara told him, "Leave my brother alone!"
"Why do I even bother?" He muttered to himself as he went into his tent. Katara went after him. He was busy sharpening the blade of his spear.
Hikoda stopped what he was doing, and looked at Katara hopefully.
"I think it's best that you give my brother a break."
Hikoda glared at her.
"It's not fair how you keep showing Sokka up in front of the rest of the tribe."
"In front of- I wasn't trying to show up anyone! I'm just helping to provide for my tribe, just like everyone else!"
"Well maybe you should provide for us in a less conspicuous way!"
And she stormed out of the tent.
The sharpening stone that Hikoda was using and the spear shook in his hands. He threw them down, and went after her.
"This isn't fair!" He shouted at her as he exited the tent. Katara looked at him.
"Excuse me?" She asked.
"I said it isn't fair! How you treat me! How everyone treats me! I help around the camp as much as anyone else, heck I help around even more while Sokka is off playing soldier!"
"Hey!" Sokka objected.
"I even offered to help you wash the clothes and I don't even get a 'thanks'!"
"What do you want, a medal?" Katara asked coldly.
"I want you to stop treating me as if I'm the enemy!"
Katara and Hikoda stared at each other.
"Hikoda, what do you want me to say?"
"What will it take for you to stop hating me?"
Katara advanced on him.
"You really want to know? You want to know what you can do for me? Bring my mother back from the dead!"
Hikoda frowned at her.
"Katara, I didn't kill your mother. I wasn't part of those raiders that killed your mother, I had nothing to do with what happened, so stop blaming me for your mom's death!"
"YOU HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT!" Katara screeched at him, waving her arms frantically, the surrounding ice cracking, "THEY WERE YOUR PEOPLE, WEREN'T THEY? YOU HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT!"
"MY PEOPLE ARE THE PEOPLE AROUND US, KATARA!" Hikoda shouted, "WHEN ARE YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE GOING TO GET THAT THROUGH YOUR HEADS?"
"Alright, that's enough!"
Sokka inserted himself between Katara and Hikoda.
"You, firebender, why don't you go off and do - whatever you firebenders do in the wilderness."
"Grrrr, forget it!"
Hikoda threw up his arms and walked away.
"I don't know why I bother helping any of you!"
And he stormed out of the camp.
"Huh. Trust a firebender to lose his cool," remarked Sokka, before noticing something, "HEY HEY HEY, WHAT DO YOU LOT THINK YOU'RE DOING? GET AWAY FROM THAT NOW!"
Hikoda punched out a fire ball at a nearby iceberg. He punched out another from his other hand at another iceberg. He punched out several. Sometimes, when it gets too much, he likes to drift out here, on his canoe, where he can take out his anger on the icebergs. It wasn't fair. None of it was. All his life, all he wanted was to be accepted, to be treated as part of the family. And why wasn't he? Because he was a firebender. Because his father was a marauding Fire Nation soldier, forget that his mother was Water Tribe and that he was born and raised in the Water Tribe! Sometimes he wished that he had got on that Fire Nation ship, be taken away from the harsh, icy world of the Southern Water Tribe, taken to somewhere warm, like his fire, somewhere where he would be accepted, where his pale skin, golden eyes and his ability to create fire would be praised, not feared and hated. He let out all of his pain in one roar, letting out a stream of fire, at the same time shooting fire from his fists. It was enough to cause the iceberg in front of him to explode. Hikoda noticed something glowing beneath the water, something that was rising very fast. He was knocked back into his canoe as the thing floated to the surface. Hikoda stared at it. It looked like some kind of spherical iceberg. He brought his canoe closer to get a better look. He saw to his surprise that inside was a frozen large beast and in front of it a boy with his knuckles together in a sitting position. The boy's eyes opened. Hikoda gasped as he fell back in his canoe. Standing up again, he saw that the boy's eyes were glowing.
He got no answer.
"Hey!" He banged on the ice, "Can you hear me?"
Getting no response, Hikoda decided to free the boy in the iceberg by shooting fire at the ice encasing him. Finally, he thought, he can put his guilty pleasure to use. In a way that doesn't get derided by his peers. He was knocked away by a gush of wind from the iceberg. A great beam of light shot out of the iceberg. Looking up, he saw the boy with glowing tattoos and eyes climbing out of the iceberg.
"Um," Said Hikoda, unsure as to what to say, "I come in peace?"
The boy groaned as he stopped glowing, falling over and sliding down the ice. Hikoda managed to grab him before he sled completely down.
"Hey, you alright?"
The boy was unconscious.
"Can you hear me?"
The boy groaned as he started to awaken. He opened his eyes, and looked up at Hikoda.
"Er, I think so."
The boy instantly got up. Hikoda swore it looked like that he used the air itself to get him upright.
"How did you get in that iceberg?"
"I'm-not sure," The boy answered, then remembering something and scrambled back into the broken iceberg. Hikoda walk around to see him wake up the large, six legged beast.
"Just what is that?" Hikoda asked, perplexed.
"This is Appa," The boy replied, "My flying bison."
Flying bison? Hikoda wasn't entirely sure if the boy was being serious.
"It doesn't look like it has the aerodynamic shape for flight. Or wings."
"Well no, but Appa uses airbending in order to get airborne."
Hikoda had never known animals to be capable of bending as well as humans, especially a form of bending that's been extinct for a hundred years. Again, he wasn't entirely sure if the boy was being serious.
"So, do you live around here?" the boy asked.
"Er, yeah. Just down the ocean and turn right at the next glacier. You can't miss it. So what about you? Where are you from?"
"Oh, the Southern Air Temple."
Okay, this was getting ridiculous. As if the idea of an airbending, flying bison wasn't enough to swallow, but this boy claiming to be an Air Nomad?
"What's your name, kid?" He asked.
The boy shot up in the air, before falling back to earth without hurting himself.
Hikoda gaped at the boy.
"You - you just shot up fifteen feet in the air!"
"Really? Felt higher than that."
"You're an airbender!"
"I'm sorry, but, I thought airbenders were extinct."
"Exctinct?" The boy named Aang seemed surprised at this news, "What do you mean?"
"Well, er, it's just that no one's seen an Air Nomad in a hundred years, so - anyway, my name's Hikoda, I'm of the Southern Water Tribe."
"Nice to meet you, Hikoda of the Southern Water Tribe. Well, I've gotta be off. See ya!"
He got on top of Appa.
"Where will you be going?" Hikoda asked.
"I'm not sure. Maybe I'll go back home, they're probably worried about me. Appa, yip yip!"
Wait, should he really be letting this boy go like this? He was pretty sure that meeting an Air Nomad wasn't exactly a regular occurrence. As the sky bison leapt into the air, Hikoda wondered if he really will fly. If people – can -
Appa fell into the water.
Wow, thought Hikoda. Epic fail.
"Come on, Appa! Yip yip!"
The bison, however, remained in the water. Aang looked over at Hikoda.
"Appa's just tired."
"Well, if he can't fly anywhere yet, why don't I take you to my tribe? I'm sure they'll be happy to give you some tent room while your flying bison gets back on his feet! Or in the air in this case!"
"Yeah, that'll be great!"
"Great!" Hikoda got back into his canoe, "Just follow me and we'll be in the Southern Water Tribe by tomorrow!"
As Aang followed him, Hikoda studied Aang carefully, wondering how he got into that iceberg in the first place. It wasn't like it was looked like a natural iceberg. More like it was man made. But there was no way this kid could have made it himself unless he was-
Hikoda wracked his brains. From what he could remember, the last Avatar died twelve years before the war, and the Air Nomads were apparently slaughtered a hundred years ago, and this kid was in that iceberg for who knows how long-
"Why are you staring at me like that?"
Hikoda's was brought out of deep in thought by Aang, who looked at him curiously.
"Oh? I was staring? Sorry."
Hikoda looked back at the what was ahead.
"I was just wondering, how old are you kid?"
Twelve. The exact age that the next Avatar would have been a hundred years ago. Could this possibly be-?
"If you're an Air Nomad," Hikoda looked back, "then you must have known the avatar, right?"
Aang seemed alarmed at this question.
"Er, yeah, I did," he replied, "I mean I knew people who knew him."
"Do you have any idea what happened to him?"
"Um, no, sorry."
Hmm, the obvious hesitation. Correcting himself. Could this boy possibly be-
"Hey look out!"
Hikoda looked at the front, and realized he should have been keeping his eyes on the ocean as he was about to hit an iceberg. Hikoda shot out a fireball so that he was able to pass by without hitting anything.
"There. Problem solved," He said.
He looked back at Aang, who looked amazed.
"Wow," he said, "You're a firebender!"
Wait, wow? He had never gotten a 'wow' before!
"You haven't got a problem with that?" He asked.
Aang was clearly puzzled at the question.
"No, why should I?" He asked.
Hikoda looked back towards the ocean.
"It's been a long time since someone's been impressed with my firebending."
They had been travelling for some time along the ocean.
"So how come a firebender's all this way from the Fire Nation?" Aang asked.
"Well, my dad was Fire Nation, but my mother's Water Tribe. I've lived there all my life."
"So, does your dad live at the South Pole?"
"No, he doesn't."
"I don't want to talk about my father."
"Okay, just asking."
"Get some rest," Hikoda told him, "We'll be at the camp sometime early tomorrow morning."
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