|More from PSUAvatar14||Adventure/Action||PG - 13 (Violence)||None yet|
|The Final Showdown, Part 1|
17 January 2012
This is part one of the final showdown in. It will continue into a part two, the fifteenth chapter.
The battles ofbegin, and Team Avatar is prepared. How many will fight? Who will gain the advantage on day one?
Like chapter five, this chapter has scenes of battle violence, including bloodshed and death. Therefore, this chapter is rated PG - 13. If you are uncomfortable reading these scenes, turn away now.
00:00, Earth Kingdom coast
Aang and Zuko stood before the submarine that would transport them to the Fire Nation. There also stood General Fong, some Waterbenders from the Northern Water Tribe who would power it, and an Earth Kingdom soldier who would be their pilot.
"Come aboard everyone," Fong instructed. The crew made their way to the submarine's deck and then descended below it. The first directions came to the pilot and the Waterbenders. Next came the directions for Aang and Zuko. The general first showed them a state room with two beds, a candle providing the light, and a small desk in the middle of the beds. "Here is where you two can rest for the night. However, you need to rise at dawn. You should be arriving at the Fire Nation right around local sunrise. Once you clear the Great Gates of Azulon, you can move above deck, then when you arrive at the Capital, the Rebel generals should be waiting. You can speak with them. You got that?"
Aang and Zuko each nodded, looking like they were each ready to fall asleep.
"Very well," Fong said. "I wish you two the best of luck. Zuko, I look forward to referring to you as 'Fire Lord Zuko' again."
"I won't let you down," Zuko declared.
"We promise," Aang added. "I let the world fall out of balance once...it won't happen again."
"Good night you two," Fong finished, and left the submarine.
Moments later, two Earthbenders cleared away the dock and allowed the submarine to begin its journey. They would stay above water until they were in Fire Nation territory due to the lack of oxygen.
Inside their stateroom, the Avatar and his close friend prepared for sleep. It was already after midnight, and they needed some time to be rested before the big day.
"Are you ready for this?" Aang asked.
"Never have been more ready," Zuko answered. "I made a promise...I'm not going to let it slip away because of a few jerks. Zorro won't last when we're all said and done."
"I won't lie...there's one thing that's bugging me," Aang said, looking up at the ceiling.
Zuko glanced over to Aang. "Let me guess...given your ways, you are worried about taking a life? After all, you used Energybending to beat my father instead of killing him."
"I hope it doesn't have to come to killing," the Avatar answered. "We can win without taking his life...right?"
"Didn't you say when you talked to past Avatars," the former Fire Lord began, "they said you would have to give up certain things to fulfill your duty as Avatar? Even the Air Nomad Avatar said that as well. Aang...if it comes to it, one of us, more likely both of us, will have to kill some of the opposition...and possibly Zorro himself."
Aang sighed. "It's still hard, Zuko...but...I guess."
"If you hold back your fullest potential," Zuko warned, "you can only wind up defeated. They've taken our peaceful times from us. They have threatened the entire world. They've threatened your home...I mean, the South Pole is under siege. You have to be ready to take these guys full-on, or the whole world loses."
Aang took another deep breath, and took a moment to think over things. He thought of all of Zuko's words, all that past Avatars had told him. If Avatar Yangchen had told me to sacrifice my spiritual needs...and she being an Air Nomad...then it has to mean something. I don't think I can just use Energybending again...it's too risky. I nearly got corrupted last time. Finally, the Avatar made a bold declaration to Zuko. "All right...if I have to...I will take lives."
Zuko nodded. "That's the best way to go. No hesitation here, Aang. The fate of the world depends on us. Now...get some rest. We each need it. Good night."
Aang used a light stream of air to blow out the candle. "Good night, Zuko."
Katara and Sokka rose from a short sleep and prepared to take off. Sokka had packed up his sword and boomerang, the latter of which had been his most valuable possession for several years. Katara prepared two full water skins in case she was to run out of bendable water during her fight.
The Water Tribe siblings made their way over to the flying bison, the moon still shining in the distance. "It should be about 4am now," Sokka said, looking at the timing device the Mechanist had made for him.
"Let's not waste any more time," Katara responded. "We have to get there by 8:00."
"We're ready when you two are," General Gala approached them and said. "When you guys take off, we take off. We might be an hour or two behind, but we'll keep up with you as much as possible."
"Try not to be much later than 9:00," Sokka replied. "We need you guys to join us as soon as you can."
Gala nodded. "Acknowledged. We'll see you down there." He then returned to his Earth Kingdom ship at the beach. A few additional ships were off to its right and left. Within a few minutes, they were cleared for departure and left the beach.
Katara and Sokka then hopped aboard Appa.
"We'll control Appa in two-hour shifts," Sokka suggested. "I'll do this one, and you can rest. Then, in two hours, I'll wake you up and you can fly us the rest of the way, while I rest."
"Good idea," Katara said with a nod. "We only slept for like three or four hours each. It will gives us more time to be ready." With that, Katara laid down on the bison's saddle, and Sokka took Appa's reins. With a yip yip, the bison took to the night sky.
"Kianna had better be ready," Katara declared. "I'm not going easy on her...if she thinks that, she's crazy. We have a life to avenge."
"Try not to let your anger affect your fighting," her brother advised her. "I understand you're hurt, but don't overexert yourself with anger. You'll burn out quicker and your attacks will be wild. Dad taught me that. Just rest, sis."
"I'll be ready," was all his sister said, and she closed her eyes to prepare for her rest.
Fire Nation, 07:00
They had made it. Aang and Zuko had made it back to the shores of the Fire Nation Capital for the first time since Zuko lost the throne by means of Tizou's surrender. Zuko was about to face his top adviser for the first time since he had lost control of the nation.
The young men quickly recognized the lead ship of the Rebel Army; it carried the old flag of the Fire Nation, while Zorro had adopted one similar to what Ozai used when he declared himself Phoenix King; a flag seen on the dragons that helped form the Great Gates of Azulon. They walked onto the ship undetected; the battle was not to start for a couple of hours yet, so supporters of Zorro were not present. All the meanwhile, the remaining rebels had to catch up.
A guard stood in front of the room where the three generals waited. As soon as he saw Aang and Zuko, he quickly fell to a bow. "Avatar Aang! Fire Lord Zuko! It is my pleasure to welcome you two aboard the Rebel Army head ship!"
"We have no time for pleasures," Zuko declared. "We need to see the generals."
The guard knocked at the door. Inside, General Azai heard the knock, and opened the door. He looked at the two young men and quickly turned to his allies. "Bujing, Tizou, it's Zuko and the Avatar!"
"Don't just stand there, let them in!" Bujing ordered. Tizou, meanwhile, felt shame come over him as Aang and Zuko walked in.
Wasting no time, the new arrivals sat down at the round table. Tizou got up and bowed to Zuko. "My liege...I am terribly sorry for surrendering the Fire Nation. It was the most shameful act of my life...I allowed Zorro to seize control. Please sir...forgive me."
"I won't lie that I was upset about losing control," Zuko said. "However, we need to work together now. I will forgive you."
"Thank you sir," Tizou said, and returned to his seat. "General Azai, give us the report."
"Today is the day we attack the Capital," Azai said. "Now, we have several towns under our control that have help us built up our forces. We feel as though we have enough at the moment to defeat Zorro's forces."
"We think it would be in everyone's best interest to hold the two of you back today," Bujing said. "If we have a rough day...we'll call on you."
Zuko was frustrated. "Why will you not allow me to fight for my own nation!?"
"Sir," Tizou said. "In all fairness, we should not risk you and the Avatar needlessly. You two are the most important fighters. If we lose you in this position, we will be crushed."
"Fine by me," Aang replied. "Zuko...they have a point. We can't go down so early."
"What we are planning," Azai said, "is to at least get towards the mountain that leads to the main part of the city. If we don't get there today, we will need the both of you tomorrow. We will fight all day today and at some point we will have to call a ceasefire due to nightfall. It's going to be a struggle."
Zuko sighed, but gave up. "Very well. We'll be ready."
"Our best hope is to draw Zorro and Ezan out," Tizou added. "We have to eliminate them to get the throne back to you, Zuko."
Zuko simply nodded, ready to take on the challenge when called on.
Aang was also ready to help his friend by any means needed.
08:00, Southern Water Tribe
Katara and Sokka closed in on the South Pole, just as the attack was set to start. However, other plans were about to make themselves known.
Another Fire Navy ship was sailing to the southwest, and on board were Kianna and Baktan. They caught the sight of Appa, and had a feeling trouble for their side was coming.
"It must be that brat at least," Kianna said. "Baktan...let's throw them off."
The two Waterbenders came together and prepared to make a storm. "I hope we can get the moisture up high enough! We're pretty low!" Baktan said.
"We'll get them," Kianna said.
The two then began bending the water out of the seas, into the air ahead of them, moistening it up greatly. Humidity levels began to spike in the atmosphere, and before they knew it, the snow was starting to fall, as it was cold enough to support it.
Up ahead, Katara and Sokka saw the visibility plummet as the snow fell. "This is not good," Katara yelled out. "Sokka! Wake up and take the reins!"
The warrior staggered up from his sleep to the see the snow falling. "Where did this come from?"
"It has to have been Weatherbending," the Waterbender answered. "Take the reins! I'm going to stop this storm."
The siblings switched places, and Katara went to work. She began drawing the moisture away, but being the only one there who could stop the storm, it was a slower process. Navigation got harder as they continued to fly through the heavy snow. However, Katara would not give in. As she worked, the snow got lighter and lighter, while the clouds continued to fade. In moments, the whole storm had been wiped out, ending the snow and revealing sunshine once more.
Kianna and Baktan, sailing behind them, were in disbelief. "They have done Weatherbending for maybe a couple of weeks and already she knows how to destroy a storm?" Kianna asked, angrily.
"We need to make another one," Baktan said.
"I don't think it's worth it now," Kianna replied. "If we did, we're so close to the Southern Tribe that it might wind up being counterproductive to the navy...and Zorro would have our heads if we blew this. We'll just have to fight it out...we'll get to the Avatar's friends in due time."
Katara and Sokka landed at the western edge of the village, following the path Sokka had set out at Fong's base. They wasted no time running in, looking for their father.
Chief Hakoda stood just outside his home, his weaponry prepared. He looked out towards the northern coast, at the Fire Navy ships, waiting for the strike at any second. Suddenly he heard familiar cries.
The chief turned to his children, who were running towards him, smiles on their faces. "Hi Katara...hi Sokka," he said, himself now smiling. He then gathered them into a hug. "It's great to see you two again."
"Like we said," Sokka began. "We weren't going to let you go this alone."
"The Fire Nation has tried to separate us too many times," Katara added. "Enough's enough."
The family broke out of the embrace, and Hakoda again grew a serious look. "We're in for a great fight, you two. I hope the Earth Kingdom reinforcements get here soon. All you two need to do is stay in the fight; we'll need it, especially for however long we're without reinforcements."
"How many Waterbenders are here?" Katara asked.
"We still have a decent amount," Hakoda answered. "The North actually sneaked in some reinforcements, some of them were Waterbenders. Also, Master Pakku has promised to help us. You won't be alone there, Katara."
"Dad, about the Earth Kingdom reinforcements," Sokka said. "They'll be with us shortly. The leader of their forces said he'd be here around 9:00."
"I don't know if Zorro's forces will wait until then," Hakoda looked worried. "Look, we need to get set to go into battle. You two each look ready, so let's get into position."
Some time later, the chief and his offspring joined the waiting warriors and Waterbenders who were set to defend the South Pole. It wasn't home to everyone there, but even those from the North Pole knew they needed to defend their sister tribe.
A fireball flew from a navy ship. However, Katara and the other Waterbenders acted fast, gathering up water from the nearby ocean. They captured the fireball and froze it, stopping its forward motion.
"Charge!" Admiral Xian yelled to his men on his ship. Seeing them move, the other ships emptied their forces.
The defenders charged at the Fire Nation attackers, and soon fire and water was flying everywhere, and soldiers were going through individual clashes.
The battle for the Southern Water Tribe was on.
Fire Nation, 09:00
The Rebel Army made their way to the Capital entrance, right at the shoreline. By this point, they were all set to go, and the domestic forces had not arrived.
There was no time to waste.
"Men!" Tizou yelled. "Attack the Capital!"
The Rebels charged up the Royal Plaza, as the domestic forces, led by General Fuang, started their counter-attack. "Man your positions!" He ordered to his soldiers. Some jumped into tanks, others went into the battlements, the remainder continued on foot to confront the Rebels one-on-one.
Within moments, the Royal Plaza looked like a reminder of the Day of Black Sun invasion. Fire was flying in all directions, with Rebels and domestic forces alike exchanging blows. Early on, the battlements were providing an advantage for the domestic forces, as they were able to catch the Rebel Army off guard.
"General, what should we do about the battlements?" A commander asked of Tizou. "Those are crushing us."
"The best route would be to shoot some forces up to the sides of the wall, and catch the soldiers off guard," Tizou answered. "Then, quickly disable them, using a sword to cut them, any means needed."
The commander nodded and swung his men up to the left side of the wall. He then instructed another commander to take his men to the right. Seeing these movements, the soldiers patrolling the battlements moved into a guarding position for attack.
On the left side, there were challenges. Some more experienced soldiers were patrolling over here. At the first battlement, three Rebels took on three domestic soldiers. The first domestic guard went down easily, but the second was a challenge. The Rebel fighting this soldier kicked a close-range blast of fire, but the soldier dodged it. He then threw a blast of fire which burned the Rebel's arm, exposing his skin, and forcing him to leave. His skin burned to blackness, and he would have to be returned for treatment. The battle was now two-on-two. However, the Rebels caught a lucky break when one of the soldiers stepped back to throw a blast of fire to the battlefield. The Rebel commander spotted this and captured him, chaining him to a wall. The other Rebel soldiers subdued the last domestic fighter, and the commander slashed the firing gun in half, disabling that battlement.
The next battlement on the left side went down with ease; those soldiers proving more inexperienced than the ones that were fought at the first battlement. The third on the left side, however, was where the Rebels met their match. Five domestic soldiers patrolled this battlement, and they all had several years of experience and were all also Firebenders, compared to some Rebels who were not. Three of the domestic soldiers whipped a large fireblast which burned several Rebels, actually killing two of them right on the spot. Others had their faces totally burned, blood dripping from them. No matter what they tried, the Rebels could not take this battlement. Thus, they were forced to pull back. A few remaining Rebels stood by at the other battlements to ensure Zorro's forces would not re-take them.
All the meanwhile, the Avatar and his close friend stood at the command post with the three generals. Zuko remained anxious to get out there and fight to re-control his nation, with Aang trying to keep him cool and collected. The generals saw that their army was struggling. Regardless, it was still early. They just needed to hold through the whole day and try to start pushing Zorro's men back.
Earth Kingdom, nearing 12:00
The forces of the Earth Kingdom stood west and east of General Fong's base, protecting the villages from the wrath of the Fire Nation. Already, these soldiers had once seen their nation fall. They were not going to have it happen again.
At General Fong's base, the last four members of Team Avatar stood with the general.
"Suki, Mai," Fong said. "I want you two to go to the mining village. I think they are fine on the amount of benders, but they could always use some additional weaponry power. Also, more of the fighting will be concentrated there. That village fell during the War. As you can disable bending with a few quick jabs, Suki, I think this will work out well for you. Mai, you also can wreak havoc with a simple move."
The girls nodded and quickly moved towards the mining village.
"Toph, Reeaki," Fong continued. "Senlin needs bending power. Thus, I want you two to join the fight there. You are each strong benders, with you being a master, Toph. I know you two will do well."
"Count on it," Toph declared, and those two took off for Senlin.
Moments after they left, Fong watched the sun reach a high point in the sky. "Midday," he muttered.
Right on cue, the Fire Nation Navy ships landed at the beaches of each side of his base, at the west and east. Earth Kingdom military was on each scene, ready to take them on and defend their homeland once more. The Earthbenders launched their shots at the Fire Nation soldiers disembarking, some hitting, some being blocked by whatever means. Within moments, the elements were flying all over the place, along with the altercations starting.
The battle for the Earth Kingdom was on.
Officially, the Tri-National Showdown was on.
Southern Water Tribe, 14:00
The Fire Nation was winning the day as the sun left its high point over the snow and ice covered battlefield that was the South Pole. With afternoon continuing, Xian's forces had pushed the warriors back to the second defense line. Three more of these "defense lines" and they would reach the Chief's palace. Capturing that would ensure the South Pole would fall to the Fire Nation.
After fighting heavily for the first few hours, Hakoda, Sokka and Katara pulled back to receive from healing. The Southern Chief was burned on his arm, while Sokka received a cut from a spear. Katara had two small burns on the side of her face.
A few soldiers' bodies for each side lay on the ground, including two Fire Nation soldiers shot full of iceberg spikes, their blood pooling to the sides of their bodies. A reinforcement soldier from the north had a dagger in his heart.
But there was hope. After looking rusty initially, the Earth Kingdom reinforcements had settled in and were solidly defending between the second and third defense lines. If they were to keep up at that pace, they could potentially have them back beyond the second defense line by sunset.
"You two are working really hard out there," Hakoda said to his children.
"Working hard is not good enough," Sokka replied as his arm was bandaged over the cut. "We need to win."
"He's right," Katara added. "We have to win, there is no other option. Otherwise, we'll be members of the Fire Nation."
"If you kids keep it up, we will drive the Fire Nation out," Hakoda assured them. "From what I have seen of the battlefield, it looks like our warriors are getting inspired by the work of the Earth Kingdom forces. General Gala certainly wasn't kidding when he said these were the best men from Ba Sing Se."
"We should get back to fighting soon," Katara said. "They need our help."
"Just let us finish up working on your burns here, Princess Katara," a nurse said. She gathered up a small blob of water and placed it over two of her fingers. She then rubbed the water-covered figures up and down the burns, and they faded away. It was if the Southern Princess was never harmed at all.
"Thanks," Katara smiled to the nurse. "But...I'm still uncomfortable with being called a Princess."
"Nonsense," the elder nurse replied. "You and Sokka are the Princess and Prince, respectively. Take the title!"
"All right," Sokka said, his look re-determined. "Back to work." With that, the family left the healing huts and made their way back to the battlefield.
Fire Nation, 15:30
Another fireball flew from a battlement and to the ground, blasting away a small group of rebels, some of them crashing into the wall and falling unconscious. Three battlements were still active, and they were proving to be the present struggle for the Rebel Army.
The three generals, along with Aang and Zuko, remained back at the lead ship. Zuko was starting to pace it, his desire to get in on the battle and re-control his nation starting to overwhelm him. The Rebel Army was struggling, and needed some sort of help.
Over the Royal Palace balcony, Zorro looked to see the battle taking place. He was quite satisfied with the current state of things. As of that point on that sunny afternoon, his army was keeping the rebels back, slowly sending their numbers lower. "They thought they could steal a few towns and that would mean they would take this place easily...those generals are dumber than I thought. Is it any wonder why I took control of this sorry nation so easily?"
Back at the ship, Azai had a state of fear on his face. He began to address Tizou. "Sir, shouldn't we pull back? This is not looking good."
"I refuse to flee again," Tizou said defiantly. "I mean, to try and come back a third time? This is our best chance, now. If we wait again, Zorro will have the whole world in his grasp. We stand and fight, end of discussion!"
"Then let me and Aang go in!" Zuko yelled.
"Sir, we don't need you or the Avatar yet," Tizou replied. "Once we get those battlements down, we can resume our march."
"Those battlements have been up for SIX HOURS!" The deposed Fire Lord yelled. "How much longer do you think it will take? You have tried with four brigades, and they have all failed!"
"Actually, I wouldn't be so quick to say that," Bujing said, looking to the battlements on the right side of the plaza. Suddenly, the two last active of them stopped firing.
What had happened was first a blunder by Zorro's army. A tank was trying to shoot at two rebels who were trying to take the battlement on their own, but the driver misfired and accidentally set fire to the battlement. It was now in flames, and the soldiers inside were likely burned. The smoke that was rising from it made Zorro, who was still watching, start to twitch.
A second battlement was taken by the rebels who survived that blow. They quickly ran over and captured the stunned domestic forces who watched the battlement burned. The weaponry was quickly disabled, leaving just one battlement, which was active on the plaza's left side, active.
Tizou wiped a couple of beads of sweat from his face. Although he was confident of a victory, the developments that were ongoing through the afternoon made him sweat. "Now that we're down to the last battlement, let's get some men up there to take it. Then we can deal with the other soldiers. This will again prevent us from risking Zuko and Aang."
"See that, Zuko?" Aang said. "You've got to leave some faith in the hands of these guys. We'll go in when we're ready."
Zuko sighed. He was happy to see the progress, but he still was anxious to jump into the battle. He looked back ahead to the battlefield, watching the rebels and Zorro forces continue to clash. He was wondering if not only would he get in, but if he would encounter the now-Fire Lord once more.
Earth Kingdom, 16:30
The fighting had been ongoing for four and a half hours, as the sun faded through the typical fair-weather day clouds. No one could claim a strong advantage either way; the militaries of each nation refusing to yield.
At Senlin Village, Toph and Reeaki's combined skills held off the charging military at the gates. It didn't hurt matters that they were joined by hundreds of the better Earthbenders the Earth Kingdom had to offer.
Three Fire Nation soldiers attempted to drive a tank through the Senlin wall, but Toph quickly bent up a slab of rock, slashing the wheels off. "That's what happens when you take on the best Earthbender in the world!"
The soldiers got up and tried to charge at the blind Earthbender, but she took the slab of rock she had just made, broke it into three pieces, and drove the soldiers back to the trees. She then pinned them in, quickly ending their pursuit.
At another location, Reeaki clashed against the Firebenders at the entrance to the village, where several Earthbenders supported him. He would combine his attacks with theirs, causing flaming rocks to set their tanks on fire. The military was stranded, running out of time. It seemed like this would be an easy victory for the Earth Kingdom.
"Retreat!" The Fire general yelled. He knew this was about over. Toph, Reeaki, and the Earth Kingdom military were proving too strong. The powerful benders were too much, and they did not have enough men.
"Don't ever come back, or we'll be waiting!" The Bei Fong daughter yelled to the retreating troops.
"Don't think we're done here, you little smart-mouthed girl!" The general shouted back. "Just because we don't take Senlin doesn't mean we are leaving this nation entirely!"
"Ooh, you got me shaking!" Toph replied with a smirk, her arms crossed.
With that, feeling anger, the general came back and charged at the Bei Fong offspring. However, she shot a pillar out of the ground, sending him flying. Where he landed was briefly unknown; the soldiers continued their retreat.
The village mayor came out to the Earth Kingdom military that still remained. "Thank you, all of you...especially you, Miss Bei Fong."
"Just a day's work," Toph replied.
An old man wearing green robing, carrying a cane and sporting a grey beard came out to them. "If the general's final words were true, you should be prepared to defend elsewhere."
"We'll be ready," Reeaki replied.
As the tanks retreated, a soldier who appeared to be second-in-command found the general. "Sir...what do we do now?"
The general was defeated, his breaths were short from the jab the rock gave him. "Go to that...forsaken Mining Village...and take it. Those troops...a-a-are already there. Go...leave me!"
The commander nodded, and set his general on the ground. The retreat continued. "Men...to the mining village!"
All the meanwhile, the general in charge of Earth Kingdom forces gathered up his men. "Prepare to defend the mining village."
"I hope Suki and Mai are holding their own," Reeaki said.
The Earth Kingdom was not so fortunate so far at the mining village. The Fire Nation broke through the Earth Kingdom defenders and rode right into the village. Already, a few buildings had been set ablaze. Now, the troops from Senlin would be on their way, which would make the village the centering point for the battle.
Down a street, Suki took on two Firebenders all her own. She was blocking multiple fire blasts with her fans, trying to find any way to move in for chi blocking. Somehow, she and Mai had wound up separated mid-battle.
"Stay still!" A soldier angrily yelled to the Kyoshi Warrior leader.
"I'm not giving up," Suki replied defiantly. "So go ahead, blast every ounce of fire you have at me for all I care!"
The Firebenders combined their attacks at the young girl, but she again stayed safe with use of her fans. Then, she saw an opening. Quickly, she charged at them, got past another blast, and began jabbing at a soldier. The first one went down within seconds as Suki hit all of his chi points, disabling his bending. The second one turned quickly, but he was greeted with a fan in the face from the Kyoshi Warrior. Out of balance, Suki jumped on and hit all his chi points, ending his fighting.
"That was for Ty Lee," Suki finished with. "That move...all hers."
On the other side of the village, Mai was faring poorly. She was burned on her right shoulder, some of clothing shredded to pieces with that burn. The shots she did get in with her weaponry were all offline, and she was barely ducking fire blasts. For the first time in her life, the noblewoman seemed scared. She was totally against the wall, not even trying to reach for the weaponry that had made her a person to be feared.
"Stand down, little girl," a Fire Nation soldier said, drawing a katana. "Otherwise, your life ends at our hands."
Mai didn't know what to do. She started to think at that moment, about things. However, quickly, she remembered her boyfriend in a distressed state over losing the Fire Nation, and how much she wanted to help him. She would not let things go wrong for him. With that done, she grabbed two sais and whipped them at the threatening soldier. The sais knocked the katana out of his hand. Mai quickly sprung into action and fired five darts: Three of which jammed into the soldier's skin, causing him to bleed from these new wounds in his midsection, right shoulder, and right side of his face. He ripped the darts out and tried to turn around to escape.
"Get back here!" Mai yelled, and she whipped a sai at him. The weapon slashed his back open, causing that to bleed rapidly. He fell to the ground from a komodo rhino, the blood pooling under his body and showing up on the ground. Suddenly, the soldiers were the ones being chased as Mai whipped a series of weapons at them from the set of darts under her sleeve. The darts hit the soldiers, knocking them of their rhinos, blood spilling from them. Within seconds, Mai had gone from fearful to again being the feared. Suddenly, a rock landed close to her. Three Earthbenders were glaring at her. "Get away, Fire Nation scum!"
"You idiots, I'm on your side!" Mai snapped back. "Don't you recognize me?"
The Earthbenders took a look at her and realized. "Oh my goodness, forgive us, Lady Mai! The girlfriend of Fire Lord Zuko...we apologize."
"Just get these guys out of here and we'll be level," Mai replied, and quickly ran back to the action. "Now where did Suki go?" She said to herself.
Meanwhile, near the village, two militaries were moving in. Along with the Earth Kingdom's were Toph and Reeaki. He and an Earth Kingdom general were riding on horses, with Toph in a tank train, at the front of a battalion. They would be the first to jump into the fight.
"It's not looking good," Reeaki stated. "Looks like some buildings are on fire."
"Then there's no time to waste," the Earth Kingdom general with them replied. "Let's set to disembark."
From another direction came the remnants of the Fire Nation military that had not been broken up in their loss at Senlin. They would need to take this village or the invasion would be a failure.
Everything to fight for.
Southern Water Tribe, 19:00
The sun was leaving the atmosphere over the South Pole. Two igloos were melting under the pressure of fire, as the Fire Nation military had proven strong. However, the tribal warriors and Earth Kingdom reinforcements proved to be a match. The struggle continued between the so-called second and third defense lines.
Katara saw a fallen warrior, and a Fire Nation soldier trying to finish him. Quickly, the Southern Princess shot a water whip out of her water skin, knocking the soldier to the ground. She then pinned the soldier down with ice, and ran over to the fallen warrior. She saw that he had been burned on the side of his neck. Without a thought, she went to work trying to heal him.
"Thank you, Princess," the warrior said with a thankful smile, as the soothing effect on the water on his burn settled in.
"You're welcome," Katara replied. "But you don't need to call me that."
The warrior got up after the burn faded. "You are quite the modest one, Princess." With that, he drew his sword and returned to the fight. Katara simply shrugged and then looked to see her brother struggling with three soldiers. Allies around Sokka had been stabbed with katanas. The young Waterbender froze a shot of fire intended for her brother, and then froze the soldiers' feet into the ground. With them paralyzed, Sokka ended them with several swipes of his sword, the soldiers slumping over with blood pouring from them. "Thanks for the save, sis."
"No problem bro," Katara replied. With that, the siblings moved along. "How's Dad doing?"
"Pretty good," Sokka said. "He just defeated a few soldiers a moment ago."
As Sokka finished that, a small group of Fire soldiers charged at the siblings. Quickly, they re-focused. Katara threw some of the soldiers back with a blast of water. Sokka knocked the others down with a toss of his boomerang. The children of the chief were fast and were proving quite dominant over the forces of Admiral Xian.
Seeing the battle going nowhere, Hiyoki sought out Chief Hakoda. He ran through many fire blasts and sword swipes, along with a few other weapons flying. He also ran through a bloody patch, where seven men from either side were piled with blood all over the field. Soon, he saw the chief. "Sir! We might want to declare cease fire soon. No one is gaining an advantage."
Hakoda fought off another Fire Nation soldier then turned to his adviser. "It is true...and it is nightfall. We have been fighting for just short of twelve hours now. If you can find the admiral in charge, you can request cease fire on my behalf."
Hiyoki nodded and took off through the battlefield, making his way through the various bending and weaponry attacks. Soon, he reached a Fire Navy ship which was larger than all the ships there. Two Fire Nation soldiers guarded its entrance. "Excuse me...I am a military adviser to the chief...I would like to speak with whoever is in charge...to request a cease fire."
The two soldiers looked at each other, then decided they would contact the admiral. "Go nowhere," one of the guards said. "We'll be right back."
Within a moment, Admiral Xian appeared before Hiyoki. "May I help you? I understand you are here on behalf of the Southern Tribal Chief."
"I think it time to discuss a ceasefire for today, Admiral," Hiyoki said. "Right now, each of our sides are getting tired, and there has been no progress either way since the afternoon."
Xian surveyed the battlefield, something he hadn't done in a while. Indeed, his soldiers had made no progress as of late, and they were tiring out. They had been at the battle since morning, with only so much further they could go. With progress halted, and the day fading to night, the admiral nodded. "Very well. A ceasefire from now until 8am tomorrow good for you?"
"That will work," Hiyoki replied.
Xian and Hiyoki then went out to the battlefield. "Gentlemen, stop your fighting! This is a ceasefire!" Xian yelled to his men.
"Drop all weapons!" Hiyoki directed his voice to the tribal fighters. "We have agreed to a ceasefire!"
The men on each side stopped their fighting. After eleven hours, it was time to call it a day. Xian's soldiers retreated back to the ships, with others staying behind at the areas that they captured in that first day of fighting.
Where the Water Tribes were still holding, some men simply dropped to the snowy ground in exhaustion. Others said goodbye to their allies and made their way towards home. Another group made their way towards the healing huts to receive treatment for injuries they had elected to fight through.
Katara and Sokka were standing close to one another, each taking some deep breaths.
"How you feeling?" Katara asked her brother.
"Like I have been trampled over by several walrus yaks," Sokka replied to his sister. "Yourself?"
"About the same, more or less," Katara replied. She felt some sting from embers that had come at her while dealing with the individual Fire Nation soldiers. "We have to be ready to do this tomorrow, though."
"I wonder if Kianna and Baktan will come after us," Sokka wondered. "I didn't see them anywhere today."
"I'm sure we'll see them," Katara said. "When we do...Kianna had better be ready. For now...let's go find Dad."
The siblings made their way across the battlefield. They looked to see some flames being extinguished by available Waterbenders in the area. Some soldiers on each side lay on the ground, dead. They had turned those areas of white into red.
It was merely the beginning.
Soon, Katara and Sokka found Hakoda talking with Hiyoki.
"Dad!" Katara yelled.
Hakoda turned to see his children coming towards him, though at a slower pace than that morning. "Katara...Sokka!"
They walked up to either side of their father, and Hakoda placed his arms around each of their backs.
"Hello, Sokka, Katara," Hiyoki said. "Great to see the two of you here. I didn't see much of you two today, but I can assume you each did a good job."
"I know they did," the chief stated confidently. "I saw peeks of them. Great job, you two."
"With that said," Hiyoki began. "The ceasefire runs until 8:00 tomorrow morning, Chief. At which point, we will need to have our men prepared for fighting once more. In addition, the individual members of the Meteorologists were spotted."
"Maybe we should try and go after them," Hakoda said.
"Believe me," Sokka stepped in. "They're going to wait for me and Katara. They want us. If they step in, we'll get them."
"Leave it to us," Katara added. "I've got unfinished business with Kianna."
"Chief...would you be sure of letting your two children take on the Meteorologists on their own?" Hiyoki asked. "If those two get through, who knows what they could be capable of."
"I have faith in them," Hakoda assured his adviser. "Don't worry about a thing."
Hiyoki simply nodded, knowing he should trust his chief first and foremost. Further, he was aware of the abilities of his offspring, especially those of his daughter. "I shall continue on with the reports then...the Fire Nation military broke through defense line two, but after that, the reinforcements from the Earth Kingdom helped to stop the advance. From that point onward, neither side budged. With the lack of progress, there came the ceasefire. We lost about 20% of our forces...the Fire Nation possibly 25%...but since they were in greater numbers it becomes basically negligible in terms of quantity. We have had some buildings burned, but our Waterbenders put the fires out. If you would like to come with me...we can discuss strategy for tomorrow. Katara, Sokka...as Hakoda's family, you are welcome to join us."
Sokka and Katara thought briefly about the offer, but Hakoda wanted to see them rest. "Guys...Pakku and Kanna have prepared a dinner for us. Sokka...I know you especially would love to join the discussion...but I think you two could use some of that food and rest. If you would like to later, when I get back, we can discuss tomorrow. Sound good?"
The children nodded. "We'll see you later Dad," Sokka said, and they made their way towards home.
Katara had a worried look as she walked with her brother. "I hope Aang's okay..."
Sokka placed an arm around his sister's shoulder. "Aang? You're worried about him? If he could defeat Ozai, he could defeat anyone."
"I know," Katara said. "It's just...I've already seen Aang die once...I've already lost a loved one to this conflict as well. We've seen so much happen...I'm just worried Aang might be the next to go. I love him so much...I don't know what I would do without him...I'm sorry if I sound like I'm repeating myself, Sokka, I just don't know."
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Sokka assured him. "Even if he struggles, he's got Zuko with him, and he's pretty good too. Let's take care of matters here, first. Then...we'll see everyone again." He grew thoughtful as his own love interest, Suki, entered his mind.
Katara smiled in Sokka's assuring words. "All right. It's true...we should win here first."
The two made their way back inside for their long-desired rest.
There would be no more fighting.
Fire Nation, 21:00
Darkness had descended on the Royal Plaza. For the twelfth hour, the fighting remained at the plaza. Like in the Southern Water Tribe, neither side was making progress. Each side had lost about one-third of their forces.
The one battlement that had been active as of that afternoon was still going, despite a number of Rebel Army attempts to capture it.
"Perhaps it is time for a cease fire," Azai suggested. "We are now into the night, and no one is going anywhere."
"It would be," Tizou remarked, "if we could find a general of the opposition! Ceasefires need to be mutually agreed upon you know. So, we have to get to a Zorro leader somehow."
At the Fire Nation Royal Palace, Fire Lord Zorro stood with General Fuang and Ezan. They too saw the lack of progress from each side, and figured that as night had fallen, time to gain any sort of edge was over. Lighting was poor down by the Royal Plaza, and only the occasional fire blasts were providing light.
"I think that's enough for today," Fuang stated. "Sir, we should call our forces back. The Rebels are still there, and I don't want to see our army take risks with the poor lighting. Let's call a ceasefire with the rebel generals. We have lost a few hundred forces today...the Rebels still seem to outnumber us. I'll send a messenger hawk down to them with a ceasefire agreement."
Zorro wanted the Rebels gone as soon as possible, but even the impatient Fire Lord had to realize when enough was enough. "Yes...it is late. Our men are tired...and I can't figure those Rebs will hang on either. I think a ceasefire through 7:00 tomorrow morning would be appropriate. Ezan?"
"Absolutely," Ezan replied with a nod. "Re-gather...and tomorrow, we purge from the Rebels from this city for good."
"Anything on that brat or the Avatar?" Zorro asked.
"We don't know if they are here...they didn't seem to be amongst the Rebel Army," Fuang stated. "If they were here...they would be easily recognized for sure...but no one reported back anything."
"If they come," Zorro said, "I want no hesitation. They are to make a move to end them on sight. If they even so much as hesitate for a split-second...take them off the battlefield. Those two need to be dealt with swiftly...they alone can turn the tide to those darn Rebels."
"Very well," Fuang stated. "I shall now write that message to the Rebel generals."
Moments later, a messenger hawk came from the Royal Palace to the lead Rebel ship. The bird perched itself upon the railing. Tizou took the message out of its cylindrical casing and read it.
This is General Fuang, head of the domestic forces you have fought against today. In the interests of the mutual health of our soldiers, and the time becoming less conductive to full combat, we request a ceasefire through 0700 tomorrow, 15 September. If you accept this offer, please give a yell to all our soldiers, and state that you have gotten this ceasefire message. If not, we shall continue through the night."
"What is it?" Zuko asked.
"A ceasefire request," Tizou answered, "from the general of Zorro's forces. It's until tomorrow morning, at 7:00."
"Sounds like a good idea," Aang said. "We don't want to see the soldiers exhaust all their energy...live to fight another day. That's what we need to do. Let's just relax and get back tomorrow."
Tizou nodded, and then went to the front of the ship. General Bujing wheeled out a gong, and with a mighty swing, sounded it. Quickly, all soldiers turned around to the Rebel ship.
"I have a ceasefire request from General Fuang!" Tizou began. "At this time, all soldiers on both my side and Zorro's side are to stop fighting, as I accept this offer of ceasefire! We shall resume at 0700 tomorrow!"
Slowly, the soldiers retreated to their starting positions. No significant gains had been made by either side on that first day, besides the Rebels taking most of the battlements.
"Zuko, Aang," Tizou began. "We told you two we would not have you go into the fight unless needed. Well...that time has come. We need a battle-changer, and you two would be the ones to provide it. Tomorrow, us three have also agreed to join in. It's time to drive Zorro out of here. We will need you two to lead the way."
Zuko smiled. He was finally going to get the chance he had been hoping for almost a month now. He bowed to the three generals. "You have our word. This is the end of Zorro's reign. We promise...at the end of the day tomorrow...he's gone."
Aang added a bow as well. "It is our duty...we do not fail at our duty. Getting Zorro out is part of retaining balance in this world...the Avatar's duty."
The three generals stood before the two young men. "We know you will have success," Bujing said. "You two have done it before. Good luck. We ask that you rise by 6:00 tomorrow so we can discuss the plan."
The two nodded, and with that, everyone separated. Aang and Zuko elected to return to the submarine, which had been docked within the Rebel ship to shield them from the sight of Zorro's forces. They made their way to the bedroom, each laying down on their own bed.
"This is it...tomorrow," Zuko said to Aang.
"Zuko...can you please promise me something?" Aang asked.
"Sure, buddy," Zuko replied.
"Once we get rid of Zorro and Ezan..." Aang began. "When we win...please, can we go right back to the Earth Kingdom? There's someone I want to see again...you should know who." The Avatar placed his hand over his heart.
"You know I'll be anxious to see someone as well," Zuko referenced his own sweetheart. "So...yes. We'll get out of here as soon as the situation is secure. Aang, I know you're worried...just remember to stay focused though. Put all those worries and outside thoughts aside."
"You won't have to worry about that," Aang assured him. "As a monk, clearing my mind is my specialty." He chuckled lightly, but quickly returned to a serious tone. "I'll be ready."
"As will I," the hopeful once-Fire Lord replied, falling into his bed and preparing for sleep. "You heard the generals...6am tomorrow. Get some rest. Uncle always told me that a man needs his rest. Good night, Aang."
"Night Zuko," the Avatar said. He used a light gust of wind to blow out the candle that illuminated their room. He closed his eyes, cleared his mind, and drifted off to sleep. He smiled, thinking about having Katara in his arms once again soon.
The two had their chances to relax.
They had their time away from fighting.
That time ended tomorrow.
The Avatar and the Fire Lord.
As destiny commanded.
To restore balance to the world.
Earth Kingdom, 22:00
It was just this afternoon that the mining village had been half the battlefield.
Now, it was all the battlefield.
Thousands of men from the two nations combined to fight for the village's fate, turning it into a living hell. Flames were everywhere, all the denizens staying in their homes, watching the fight go through the streets.
Down the way, Tyro had been appointed as the commander of the village, so to speak. All orders for the village forces were to go through him. His son, Haru, was within the battlefield, trying to turn away the soldiers. Tyro stayed back with an Earth Kingdom general to help oversee the order of things. However, he desired to enter the fight greatly, to support his son and his village.
The village seemed to be on the verge of falling. The additional Fire Nation military was providing a boost for the forces already there, despite the added Earth Kingdom military. Some of the Firebenders that had arrived were the best in the military, as Zorro had desired when making the plans for attack. They overwhelmed the Earthbenders, leaving some dead in the streets.
Team Avatar members that were present were lucky to be alive. Mai nearly had her face burned off when several soldiers swarmed her in the corner of a building. She was fortunate that Toph had showed up at that moment and used Earthbending to crush them. Toph also nearly had herself cut to bits when a Fire Nation soldier came in close range of her and had his sword pointed to her. At that point, her feet were being restrained, but she was able to pound the ground with her fist, and with one rock, got the soldiers off her. Reeaki was nearly burned alive when three soldiers cornered him in a shop, but, using some glass that was broken from the attacks, he threw it at the soldiers like a boomerang, wounding them all and giving him an escape route. Suki had been burned three times, once on her neck by a powerful Firebender. However, she managed to endure, and blocked the Firebender's chi to stay alive. That was the last bit of fighting she did for the day; she was removed from combat to get treated.
General Yung, who had been part of the Omashu Resistance during the War, knew there was a time when things needed to be stopped. The village was hopeless; the Fire military was proving overwhelming. Perhaps their dominance was over-exerted while at Senlin, and they had burned themselves out, while the Fire Nation was fresh. "Tyro...I hate to do this...but I'm afraid the time has come to surrender," he said to the old village leader.
"Surrender? Leave these people behind?" Tyro snapped. "Absolutely not!"
"I was taught a while ago, by the Avatar himself," Yung began, "that sometimes it is best to simply retreat and live to fight another day. Tomorrow is another day. We might lose here, but we still have the rest of the nation behind us. Tyro, with all due respect, if we keep up the fight here, we might have no fighters left! There are still reinforcements ready to protect Fong's base and help us if needed. Let's just wait another day."
Tyro sighed. He knew the Avatar's advice was some of the best out there, and he too could see this was becoming a losing fight. "If we surrender...will they accept a ceasefire?"
"They should," Yung said.
Within moments, the two found themselves surrounded by Fire Nation military. General Shang stepped in front of them, staring at the two Earth Kingdom leaders. "Surrender...and we shall cut our destruction at once."
Tyro bowed, his disappointment showing. "We surrender."
Toph, Reeaki, Suki and Mai watched the surrender from a safe distance, each of them left in shock. "I thought he was tougher than that...." Toph murmured. "He's giving up?"
"Sometimes you have to see just when your back is against the wall," Reeaki said quietly. "It's a shame...but it's not over yet."
With that, the Earth Kingdom forces left the village, with the Fire Nation military staying. They ripped down the Earth Kingdom flag and replaced it with the new Fire Nation flag that Zorro had commissioned.
Tyro and Yung made their way out with the Earth Kingdom military. Behind them were Haru and the other active members of Team Avatar. Haru was devastated. "Dad...how could you do this? Why did you give up?"
"Son..." Tyro began. "Part of being a good leader is knowing when it is time to retreat and save your energy and men. If we kept up...the village would have been destroyed, and we would see much more men gone. By giving up our village for now...we will be able to save the entire nation. Settle down for now, Haru."
Haru simply shook his head. He had never known his father to just give up in the years that had succeeded their escape from a Fire Nation prison rig. "I really hope you know what you're doing."
"We shall retreat to Fong's base for the night," Yung said. "I don't know how I will break the news to him...but, I shall do so. I made the call to surrender, I will take the fall, Tyro."
The first blow was delivered.
The first village fell.
Was it the beginning of a new era of dominance?
Or was it simply the first and last defeat for the Earth Kingdom?
When the sun rose...time would tell.
The day had ended across the nations. As it seemed, there were no clear winners, except for the Fire Nation winning the small mining village in the western part of the Earth Kingdom. Every soldier around the world was getting a well-deserved rest, preparing to defend their homes or seize the homes of others.
They each had a cause.
A vision for the world.
After tomorrow, only one side of each fight would have their visions become reality.
This chapter clocked in at 9,337 words, the longest chapter of TWB to date, and the author's longest writing as well.
I apologize if you didn't like this chapter, especially since Aang and Zuko saw no action. If you were disappointed, you'll love chapter 15...it will have a lot more action.
Aang's advice reaches far, doesn't it?
What happened as Katara and Sokka arrived to the South Pole won't be the last time you see Weatherbending in the battle.
There are less battlements in the FNC than earlier as I believe Zuko would have ordered some of them removed in the postbellum time before this conflict.
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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