By Crazynerd Part of the The Life and Times of a Wanderer continuity.
Si Wong Desert

The Si Wong Desert

The Desert Death March was a Fire Nation military strategy led by Lieutenant Zhao in the early autumn of 92 AG, and takes place in the fanon The Life and Times of a Wanderer. After capturing the farming town of Titian in the Hai Di mountains, the former leader of the platoon, Captain Teng, was severely injured. His second-in-command, Zhao, was then given full command of the men and the prisoners. The plan was to bring the captured civilians south, away from Ba Sing Se, to the Fire Nation-controlled harbor at Cape Mao Yao. Lieutenant Gushiken, a practical soldier and third-in-command, advised that the safest route would be along Chameleon Bay despite Earth Kingdom river patrols. Confident that he could cut the time it would take to arrive at the harbor in half, Zhao ignored Gushiken and ordered the platoon to set their course through the Si Wong Desert. With compasses and plenty of water barrels, the Lieutenant believed that they would go into the Si Wong with a group of captives and come out with a group of hardened workers, albeit smaller due to the obvious deaths he knew would occur. Gushiken objected, but succumbed to the plan.

Each prisoner was given water before the march began, and the Rough Rhinos joined the march at a rendezvous point. About three days in, the soldier's compasses began displaying contradicting measurements. Using the sun as a rough estimate, they shakily continued south. Meanwhile, prisoners often collapsed due to dehydration, starvation, and exhaustion, and were burned when the soldiers in the back passed over them, as per orders. The water supply was surprisingly low about two weeks into the desert, and Lieutenant Gushiken advised that the march head east to avoid the men's dehydration. Zhao politely refused.

On the morning of the eighteenth day, the platoon encountered a strange tower sticking out of a dune. Intrigued, Zhao ordered the group to rest while he planned to enter the building. Taking Gushiken, five soldiers, and a small prisoner boy named Deshi as insurance, the Lieutenant used ropes to climb up the side and into Wan Shi Tong's Library . Inside, the Knowledge Spirit questioned Zhao's intentions, but was played by a carefully-thought cover story. For over four hours while the rest of the platoon toiled in the desert sun, Zhao researched countless scrolls, ordered his men to destroy the Fire Nation section, and managed to escape from the library before Wan Shi Tong fully confronted them, leaving the prisoner boy inside. When the Knowledge Spirit understood the boy's story, he helped Deshi leave through the tower window.

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