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Chapter 14: The Journey
The Kyoshi Warriors and Yun Zhen loaded the ship that would take them to Whale Tail Island. From there they would take an Airship to Capitol Island. Yun was not looking forward to the three day journey to the former Southern Raider base; he did not like the fact that it would take three whole days by boat.
"Relax." Suki said. "It'll go by fast enough."
Yun looked out on the ocean. "I guess I'm just nervous about returning to the Fire Nation."
Ty Lee, who was carrying a box of provisions, stopped. "Returning?"
His heart skipped a beat. "I... uh... meant going to. I'm just a little tired; that's all."
"Oh." Ty Lee didn't press the issue.
Yun offered his hand. "Here, let me take those; I can't sit here on my butt all day." He grabbed the box and brought it on the ship, glad for the respite. He heard footsteps behind him belonging to two of the other Kyoshi Warriors, Jin and Sho.
"I heard that there have been strikes by the Earth Kingdom against the Fire Nation Colonies." Sho said as she set her gear by her bunk.
"Where'd you hear that?" Jin asked.
"One of the soldiers that came to recruit us recently told me during one of his little speeches."
Yun turned toward them. "An Earth Kingdom soldier came to recruit the Kyoshi Warriors recently?"
Sho and Jin nodded. "Yeah, they came about a two weeks after Fire Lord Zuko's coronation, right after we'd gotten back." Jin said.
"And they wanted us to come help them with their cause." Sho continued.
Yun scowled. "You mean rebuilding, right?"
"No, they wanted us to come help them destroy the Fire Nation Colonies, but Suki turned them away."
That's weird. Yun thought.
Aang, Sokka, and Katara flew toward Gaoling on Appa. Because of the issue of travel time, even with Appa, they had to have a head start in order to make it at the same time as the others.
"Hey, Sokka," Aang began, "What happened to your space sword?"
Sokka gave a huge grin and pulled out a pack. "See for yourself." He unraveled it to reveal the sword that he had made out of meteorite.Aang scratched his head. "But how did you—?"
"Toph and Suki helped me look for it once the Airship wreckages were cleared. Toph's senses were able to pick it up relatively easy once all the other metal was gone."
Aang smiled. "That's great!"
Katara, who had chosen to fly Appa for the last leg of the trip, looked at them. "We're near Gaoling. It'll be great to see how Toph has gotten along."
"Yeah! Maybe she's still fighting in Earth Rumble VI!" Sokka nearly drooled at the prospect of watching some Earthbenders chuck rocks at each other.
Katara shook her head. "Somehow, I doubt it."
Yun looked out at the vast ocean; the moon shone on it as they sailed for Whale Tail Island. He heard someone approach.
"Hey." Ty Lee said softly.
Yun allowed himself a small smile. "We have to come up with a better way to begin conversations."
Ty Lee giggled but quickly grew serious. "Why do you always shut down when I try to talk to you?"
"Shut down? I—"
"You say that you don't hate me anymore, but you don't like me. I can tell."
Yun sighed. "I am sorry. It's not you; I just... I have a lot of stuff to deal with. It's not easy when the Fire Nation took my parents from me."
Ty Lee wrapped her arms tightly around herself. "Let me help you."
"It's nothing you can help me with. Go to sleep; don't concern yourself with my problems."
Ty Lee turned to go back to her bunk, but stopped. "Suki, Jin, Sho, and the others accept me. Why can't you?"
"Why do you care so much?" He asked. "Why can't you just leave me alone?"
She blinked several times in quick succession before even attempting to answer. "Well...because I can read your aura. When we were at the beach, you were at ease. Your aura was like a sunset; it was orange and...nice. But when we talk, it turns intense, like a flame." The Kyoshi Warrior hugged herself tighter as the night air flowed around them.
The Earthbender's eyes widened. She's been reading me, and I didn't even realize it!
"I...I don't like feeling like people hate me, Yun. And I know you're trying not to, but I just want to understand--"
Yun whirled, eyes blazing. "Because you're Fire Nation! Because the Fire Nation killed my parents, good, loyal Fire Nation citizens!"
That surprised Ty Lee, who took a step backward. "What?"
Yun began to calm down. "My father was a commander in the navy. One day, they took Earth Kingdom prisoners; one of them was my mother. My father f—fell in love... and... married her. He never told anyone outside of some of the crewmates who happened to be paying attention; he swore them to secrecy."
"Oh, Yun..." She approached him slowly.
"It all went pretty well until I was born. I inherited my mother's Earthbending instead of my father's Firebending. My parents knew they couldn't hide it for long, and they were right. Eventually, the officials found out. My parents sent me away on a ship bound for the colonies with two notes. One was for anyone I came across; the other was for the King of Omashu. My mother was born in Omashu and knew Bumi personally. The second note was to ask him to train me."
Yun turned. "That is why I hate the Fire Nation. I don't expect you to share my sentiments, and I certainly can't expect you to under—!" He was stopped midsentence when Ty Lee wrapped her arms around him. "—stand?"
"I may not understand, Yun, but I do care. I care about you. Please, I want...to help you. I wish I could do something to make you realize that I'm not a bad person, that I'm not..."
"You're not," he replied softly. "I know that, but...it's hard. I'm sorry; the last thing I want to do is push you away." He wrapped his arms around her. "Truth be told, it's nice to get all of that off of my chest."
They held each other under the moonlight, and Yun wondered what to do.
Gaoling had not changed, and the War had not touched it. Aang and his friends landed in front of the massive Bei Fong estate. "I hope this goes well..." Aang said."I'm sure Toph's parents will understand." Katara replied, but even she did not seem sure.
As it turned out, they had little to fear. The Bei Fongs were ecstatic to hear about the War's end from Toph, and they welcomed the Avatar and his friends into their house once more.
"I'm afraid we're not here to exchange pleasantries, Mr. and Mrs. Bei Fong." Katara began. "We need Toph."
Lao Bei Fong's smile vanished. "You wish to take her away again." It was not a question.
Aang stepped forward. "I'm sorry, sir, but this is important."
Lao sighed. "I know, and I will not stop you. Not that I could; Toph would simply knock the guards unconscious. My only issue is this," he indicated himself and his wife, "We are afraid that we may never see Toph again."
Sokka stepped forward, a determined look on his face. "Sir, we can personally assure you that that will not happen."
"I know. You will find her at the arena."
Team Avatar turned to leave. "And, young man." Aang turned. "Be careful."
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