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The seventh chapter of Book Two of
December 23, 2010
Survivors from the ravaged colony mistake Leah and Sierra for the attack and shoot down their plane.
The Ruins of Xylia
Three men, two in their twenties and one in their fifties rushed forwards on jets of water, swaths of quickly dying grass left in their frenzied wake. They hurried on faster on the forest floor, pushing their arms back in cycles to keep the motion going. The three men swerved and ducked through the trees, one blasting right through one with specks of water raining down from its withered ruin.
The three men were dressed in well-woven leaf kilts, pauldrons, and conical hats. Their wrists and forearms were covered in leather arm guards that went up to the elbow, along with leg guards from the soles of their feet to just below their knees. They each carried a crude spear with a curved point, using them as makeshift oars to push them along.
They finally emerged at the edge of the forest, arriving in a large valley dominated by a small hill. They panted heavily, plopping to the ground as their waves of water fell apart with a splash. The youngest of the group doubled over in pain, coughing heavily but refusing help from the other two men. When they finally caught their breath, they each looked up, in shock.
The once beautiful forested hill was now a grey mess of ashes and smoke. The grass, once ankle deep and the purest green, was now grey, withered dust. The trees that once covered the hill and hid the colony of Xylia from the public now were doubled over, a gross black mush from which poured acrid smoke. Small lumps of grey, sand like substances littered the burnt hillside, numbering in the dozens.
The men gazed in shock and pure unbelief at the devastation that used to be their home, all they knew, the humble waterbending colony of Xylia. They walked slowly up the hill, wincing slightly from the heat radiating from the dead grass. They took care not to step on the lumps, recognizing them immediately and struggling to keep their stomach down from the sick image.
They made it to the top of the hill, a medium-sized fire still burning and splurging out smoke into the otherwise pale blue sky. The youngest one started to walk in silence down the hill, signaling the other two to follow him. The older two men followed the youngest, walking down to the bottom of the hill. In one fluid motion, they swirled their arms elegantly through the air. In response, water began to rush out of six trees on the edge of the forest, the victims dying away quickly.
They walked carefully up the hill with their arms raised straight up, an orb of water the size of a car hovering above them. When they made it to the top, they stood before the fire, lowering the orb to smother the fire, wisps of steam hissing out from the extinguished flame. They stood in anguished silence there, heads down, eyes closed, refusing to let one tear be shed.
The middle-aged one lifted his head up slightly, ears tuned to a small sound. A small speck was slowly rising up at a small angle above the surrounding forest. The other two men raised their heads as well, looking towards the speck. The speck was well above the forest now and started to curve gently towards them, the sound growing steadily louder, now recognizable as a plane engine.
The three men trotted back down to the base of the hill and took water from three trees, one for each man. They carried their respective orbs of water up the hill and smothered the spears, completely covering them in water. They arched back, the points of the spears in the air and the men in a position similar to throwing a javelin.
They waited silently, the plane coming steadily closer, the roar of the engines started to block out all other noise. As the plane started to arc over the men, they froze and launched their water spears in one fluid motion.
"One minute please, and I'll explain."
Leah's words were stopped by a shrill piercing sound coming from both wings, accompanied by a large spear covered in ice puncturing through the floor in the cockpit. The water Leah had been using to heal Keith splashed down and soaked him, sending him coughing and screaming from his pain. The engines sputtered and exploded, pieces of ice and metal splattering against the windows of the plane.
Leah bent the water off Keith and the floor, freezing it into a block and pushing it to one side. Sierra began to panic as the plane rapidly lost altitude. Leah walked to the cockpit and kicked the spear down through hole in the floor, making the spear fly to the forest floor. She looked through the hole and saw the ground rapidly coming up to meet them.
Leah dove through the hole, expanding the metal and sending her bomb diving to the ground. She landed on a cushion of air and caught the plane with a wall of compressed air. The plane moved through the wall like jello and dropped to the ground on the other side. Leah stopped it with another cushion of air and opened the door, revealing a very shocked Sierra and a half-conscious Keith.
A tree crashed nearby and three men in leaf attire came through on jets of water. They took their jets and froze it into several miniature ice spears. Leah brought up an earth wall, shattered them, and brought it back down. The oldest man took the shattered bits, swirled and melted them around him, and sent it as a water jet to Leah.
Leah sunk her feet into the ground and pushed through the jet, water splashing everywhere around her. She sent a small fire jet at them as they took water from the air and sent more spears at her. The fire went through the spears and continued on as they jumped out of the way. The jet hit nearby trees and started to blaze violently. One of the men put it out with a jet of water while the other two ran into the trees.
The third man ran after them and Leah stood there, staring after them in confusion. She stepped out of the ground and motioned Sierra over, who had been standing at the door of the plane, hiding.
"Are they gone?" Sierra asked timidly.
"I'm not sure, but I don't think this is over just yet," Leah said, eyes peering into the forest.
"Then why'd they leave?"
"I don't know."
A wave of withering trees started in their line of view and expanded in a circle in both directions. The trees died instantly and exploded into dust around them in a large circle, water from the ruins going deeper into the forest all around them.
"Sierra, get back into the plane." Leah said urgently.
"What's going on?"
"I don't know, but I'm not liking it. Just please get back into the plane."
"Now please," Leah reprimanded, urgency growing in her voice.
Sierra rushed into the plane with a mixed look of hurt and worry and looked back at Leah before closing the door. Leah looked around at the circle of dead trees, waiting for the smallest sound to alert her to the men. A small orb of water rushed from the east and rose above Leah, doing nothing but floating there. She looked up at the orb, confused, as a large wave erupted in a surrounding circle around them.
The wave grew and started to move forward in a raging charge. As Leah began to rise an earthen wall, the orb froze into a flurry of spikes and rained down on them. Leah put down the wall, and sent an air current at the spikes, sending them raining down in random directions. The wave continued surging forward and soon encompassed them, creating a snow globe like surrounding.
Leah looked up at the water, shadows and light from the sun shimmering on the ground all around them. Leah began to walk towards the plane as the entire "snow globe" of water froze into hundreds of ice spikes and rushed at them from all directions. Leah booked it towards the plane and dove through the metal, closing it back up in a hurry. Spikes punched off of the plane, soon piercing through just inches in the metal.
As the spike rain stopped, Leah opened the now full of holes door, she looked out. Pieces of ice covered the grass, but no one else was around. Leah stepped out of the plane and was tackled to the ground by the oldest man. None of her bending powers could beat brute strength as the oldest man held her arms to the ground, another coming to hold her legs.
Leah struggled helplessly against the men as the last one came up to her. The man was obviously the youngest of the three, in his twenties with a scruffy beard and dark eyes. The man took the water out of the grass and formed a medium-sized ice spear, taking care to sharpen the point of it. The man raised his arm and the spear, preparing to finish.
A small jet of water lashed out and struck the spear from the man's hand, visible shock on his face.
The two men looked up and Leah stopped struggling to look at the door of the plane. Keith stood there, leaning against the threshold, the new scar on his face an angry red. The grass near the door was the now familiar dead grey.
"You're alive?" the youngest asked, unbelieving.
"Yes. Please let her go, she's the reason I'm here," Keith said weakly.
"Who is she?"
"I don't know, just please let her go. She's not the reason for all this."
And with that statement, he collapsed back into the plane out of exhaustion. The two men holding Leah down let her go, rushing over to the plane to check on him. The oldest man came over to Leah.
"Sorry for the misunderstanding. We just saw your plane right after we arrived at Xylia, and we assumed it was your fault. I hope you can forgive us. My name is Jacque. The man on the left is Gabe, and the youngest is Ryan."
"Hello Jacque. Don't worry about it, I would've done the same thing. I'm Leah, and the girl in the plane is Sierra."
"You are the Avatar I assume, am I correct?"
"Why are you here? I heard that the BDA got to you."
"Well, they did, but I decided I'd had enough of them and escaped."
"You escaped from Uluru?" he said with a mixture of unbelief and pride.
"Yes, I bended the sand in the glass and used it against them."
"I can't say I'm not impressed, I never would've thought of that. You are already pretty powerful. But again, why are you here?"
"After I got away from Uluru, I went first to Alice Springs to get Sierra, then we went to New Orleans to find the colony there."
"You went to the Rogues?"
"Yes, Bronson sent us away."
"He's still there?"
"Yes, he sent us away the night the Mistress returned."
"Huh, can't blame him, trying to get you away from that devil of a woman."
Ryan walked out of the plane carrying Keith, Sierra and Gabe following close behind.
"How is he?" Jacque asked.
"He's stable, but the burns on his hands, knees, and face took a lot out of him. I think we could try to fix the hands and knees, but I think the face burn will turn out to be permanent."
"Are you sure there's nothing we can do?"
"No, the burn's too deep." Ryan responded.
Jacque looked down for a moment, sadness crossing his face.
"Besides the burns, how is he?"
"It's just exhaustion and shock as of now. He'll need time to heal before we can move."
"Move where?" Leah asked.
"To another colony."
"There's another waterbender colony in Superior National Forest in Minnesota."
"There're other colonies? I thought the only two left were New Orleans and New York."
"Those are the only two that are major threats to the BDA. I'm sure you've figured out why The Rogues are infamous to the BDA, and New York is the largest colony out there, with around a thousand living there."
"Why so many?"
"The BDA only has about four hundred enforcers to guard the entire world. New York is a big city, almost 18 million live there. It's a nice big place to hide a thousand people with only four hundred to search through it."
"But I thought all the colonies had to be secluded like this one and the Rogues." Sierra asked.
"Again, New York is a big city, plenty of space to hide."
"How long will it take for Keith to heal?" Leah asked.
"We need adequate time for the burns to heal, a would say at least a month, maybe two."
"A month?!" Leah asked.
"Why is it a bother to you? You are free to leave whenever you please." Ryan suspiciously.
"He saved my life. I can't just leave him."
"We'll look after him. After all, he is one of us." Jacque stated.
"I just can't. It doesn't feel right for me to abandon him."
"Fair enough. We'll walk through the forest to Knoxville and charter a plane to take us to the colony. Get your things from the plane and put them and Keith on an earth platform. We'll move on jets of water, follow close behind, the BDA will surely be close behind."
"Then let's go."
- As of this chapter, the series is a third of the way over.
For the collective works of the author, go here.