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|Winds of Rebellion|
3-Winds of Rebellion
Winds of Rebellion is the third chapter of.
Sokka and Suki prepare to protect the village. Katara learns about General Shu, while Toph learns about the Dai Li's plot. Zuko finds out about the rebellion and Aang faces off against the spirits.
The village elder was speaking to Aang. "Gin will escort you into the woods."
"But he was attacked, it'll be dangerous for him."
"Don't worry about him, he knows these woods better than anyone. He is also a powerful Earthbender. He can hold his own in a fight."
"Okay. Well, we better get going."
Aang and Gin mounted Appa and flew into the air. They flew to the clearing in the woods that Gin had been attacked by the spirits. On the way, he talked to Gin about the spirits. "So you've been in these woods your whole life?"
"And you haven't seen them until a couple weeks ago?"
"Well, we've seen people, or at least shapes, in there for years, but we never had problems with them."
"How did they attack?"
"Well, first one of them leapt at me. But it wasn't normal. It was faster than I could follow. The only way I could block it was by instinct. I made a rock wall, but then it screamed and broke right through the wall. But it wasn't a normal scream. It wasn't high pitched or anything, just a short piercing scream. Then I fled. I ran as fast as I could, I even used Earthbending to run faster, but they kept up with me with no trouble."
"When they were chasing you, did they run, or did they fly?"
"They ran, but it was faster than any human could run, and sometimes they leapt through the air, sometimes covering about 50 feet of ground."
Sounds like they could Airbend, thought Aang, but this thought was driven out of his mind when Gin pointed out the clearing. After they had landed Aang jumped down, landing much lighter now that he was in something more like his old jumpsuit, and scanned the forest. There didn't seem to be any life anywhere. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the earth around him. He was able to see in all directions, but there was no movement. He concentrated harder to try and make out the shapes of the objects around him.
Then he realized that what at first he had thought were motionless bushes were actually people. Over a hundred of them. He opened his eyes as the first one leapt out of the woods towards him with a scream.
Sokka and Suki had woken up early to take a look around the village. It didn't have much in the way of defenses. In fact, it didn't have much in the way of anything. Other than a dozen or so houses, there was just a well, a water tower and a shop. After looking around, they talked to the village elder. "So how long have the bandits been around here?" asked Sokka.
"Well, they came about 6 months ago. They said they were Earth Kingdom soldiers. At first there were only 4 of them but their leader, an Earthbender who uses hammers to bend, Gow, started recruiting others. Now there are over 20 of them. They came 3 days ago, and they took many of our supplies, and they said they would be back by today for more. They used to steal from us, saying that they needed the food to protect us from the Fire Nation. The second the War was over, they started saying that they needed the food to help other villages rebuild. But we know that they just keep it for themselves. Even though they dress like soldiers, they're really cowards. It shouldn't be very hard for you get rid of them."
Just then a lookout on top of the water tower yelled "I can see them!"
The elder said, "Good luck!" as she hobbled her way over to the nearest house.
Sokka looked over at Suki and motioned for her to get on top of one of the houses. Suki nodded and ran across the street and quickly scaled one of the houses. When she was on top and out of sight, Sokka checked his sword and his boomerang, then tightened the straps on his armor. He then put on the helmet that once belonged to Ozai. Once he was ready, he walked into the middle of town and faced the dust cloud that obscured the approaching figures.
A messenger walked into the room where Zuko was lounging with Mai. "Fire Lord Zuko," he began, "this message just arrived."
Zuko read the message that the messenger handed to him as he laid back into the sofa. 'I looked into the general's and admiral's reports from the War as you requested. It seems that most of the highest officers should stand trial. This would open up opportunities for promotions for the lower ranking officers, gaining their loyalty. However, it seems that all of the officers you had me look into have disappeared. I went to Qin's house to investigate and he was gone as well, but I found a message on his desk from General Gangshou. He was the only high-ranking officer that served in the Earth Kingdom that wasn't going to stand trial. They are planning a rebellion.' At this, Zuko sat up straight on the sofa. 'It was dated several weeks ago. Their plan is to bring over troops from the Earth Kingdom and attack you at the capital. I would advise you to use caution when nearing the capital, I will send you a message if they attack. The Imperial Firebenders and the Domestic Forces remain loyal to you. I am assembling them, as well as the Order, to defend the capital, but I am also organizing them to scout out the enemy forces. Your Loyal Advisor, Jeong Jeong.'
Zuko's mind began to race. If they bring over troops from the Earth Kingdom, they might get in the 10's of thousands! Jeong Jeong said the Imperial Firebenders and the Domestic Forces remain loyal to me, but that is barely above 10,000 soldiers, most of whom haven't seen a day of combat! I could call on Aang and the Earth King, but they would take weeks to get here, that would be way to long. There must be someone that I can call on. But who?
Zuko's eyes went wide as he thought of the perfect people to help him. They can definitely help, but will they get my message in time? And if they did, would they respond, or could they even respond? I'll have to risk it. He wrote out a message and gave specific directions to the messenger on where to send it.
Toph had spent the last day wandering in the desert. It was getting a little easier to see, but not by much, unless she really concentrated. At noon she stopped and made a tent for herself by turning the sand around her into rock, but the scorching heat was too much to bear. As she sat in the shade she put her hands on the ground and concentrated. Soon she was able to make out the dunes around her. There were some little animals in burrows and a cactus or two, but there wasn't anything she could cook with, and she WASN'T about to eat the cactus and end up like Sokka did last time they were in the desert.
I miss Sokka. Maybe I shouldn't of left like I did, I didn't realize how lonely it would be out here, and it's not like I'll meet Iroh like I did last time I was on my own. As she thought about that she felt movement on the other side of the dune that was behind her. She crept closer until she could hear voices.
"I still don't think that this plan of Long Feng's will work. In case you haven't heard, the Avatar is in Ba Sing Se!"
"Shut up, you moron! Long Feng said that the Avatar was somewhere up north dealing with some spirit."
"But what if he makes it back to the city sooner than we plan? And what about Iroh? He's the most powerful Firebender on the planet! And he's living next door to the palace!"
"Long Feng knows what he's doing. You know, his last plan would have worked if we hadn't stabbed him in the back." As the man said this, Toph could feel the ground shake as she sensed several giant beetles land nearby.
"Ah, so you got our message, I see. What is your answer?"
"We will join Long Feng. I believe you could use our special resources, and we think that this will be a very... profitable venture."
Toph could feel the agents mount the beetles before they took off, but before they left, she could here one of them say "Take us to the Hami tribe." With that the beetles headed off into the desert.
The Dai Li! I can't believe this! By the sound of it, they want to kill the Earth King! I've gotta do something! I better follow them, but it's still hard to see. Maybe I'll get lucky and find some non-Hami tribe Sandbenders. With that, she headed deeper into the desert after the Dai Li.
Katara was sitting at a table with General Shu. She had spent the last few hours getting to know him and listened in fascinated silence as he told the story of his life.
He was 53, was married with 7 kids and had served in the army for the last 35 years of his life. He used to be the head of the Council of Five, but retired from active service during the Siege of Ba Sing Se. He was there when General Iroh had broken through the Great Outer Wall, and had even exchanged blows with the Firebender. During the retreat from the wall, Iroh had shot out a fireball that had crippled Shu's left leg. Because of this, he wore a fake leg from the knee down. After that Generals How and Sung had led the Earth Kingdom forces. For 3 days the fighting went on. On the fourth day, Shu had recovered enough to return to command his troops. With the help of the other generals, he led the counterattack that eventually drove out the invaders.
During the battle, a small number of Firebenders broke through the Earth Kingdom line and cut a swath through the defenders, until they nearly reached the tent where the generals were directing the battle. When they broke through, Shu and the other Earthbending generals were able to fend them off. As the Firebenders fought, Shu blocked a powerful fire blast from one of them with a rock wall, then shattered it and shot the tiny shards of rock at the Firebender, piercing his chest many times. One of the officers, a large Captain with hair so black, it appeared blue, ran up yelling "LU TEN! NOOOO!" It was then that Shu knew he had killed the son of the Dragon of the West. He immediately called a truce and allowed the enemy general to take his son's body. After the Fire Nation troops retreated from the wall, they stayed for 4 days for the customary burial period. After his son was cremated, Iroh had ordered his troops back to the Fire Nation camp on the other side of the bay, near the Serpent's Pass.
After they had finished talking, Katara became aware that Iroh was sitting not far from where they were drinking their tea. She quickly looked away when she realized that he had heard them talking about how his son had died. "It is alright Katara," the old man said as he walked over to sit next to them, "I knew how he had died. I also knew that Shu was the one who had killed him. But I don't feel any anger at him. He was most honorable, and allowed me to graciously accept defeat. Afterwards, I..." He stopped in mid sentence and closed his eyes.
"What?" asked Katara.
"That is a story for another day." he opened his eyes and jumped up exclaiming "Look at the time! It's almost time for the lunch crowd to arrive!" He hurried off towards the kitchens.
Shu watched him go saying, "He truly is an amazing man. I was sure that he would have wanted revenge on me. But I sought him out, to try and make amends. When I talked to him he said that all was forgiven, and told me why."
"What do you mean?"
"Ah, the inquisitiveness of youth," the General said as he smiled at Katara, "He will tell you when he wants you to know. Now let's get back to the task at hand."
"Okay," said the young Xaterbender as she took out the parchment and pen that they were writing out the guidelines for the police force on. Iroh was such a laid back man, but at the same time he was the most powerful bender, next to Aang, on the planet. His life was full of so many mysteries. She forced these thoughts out of her mind as she read aloud what they had gotten so far.
As the creatures leaped out at them, Gin and Aang simultaneously raised up a rock wall in-between them and the tree line. Some of the figures merely leapt over, while several others blew holes in the wall. Aang yelled "Gin! Stay with Appa!" as he ran forward. Gin stood next to the bison and started to hurl rocks at the attackers. Most were either dodged or destroyed, but they still distracted them, drawing several away from the young Avatar. Aang first tried talking to them, though he knew that it was a long shot. "I'm the Avatar! I can help you! What is it you want?"
"We want you dead!" said one as he leapt at Aang. Aang shot a boulder at the speaker, only to watch it explode as the spirit screamed. Aang knew that they were outnumbered, but he still thought that he could take them on without needing the power of the Avatar State. Even though it gave him an immense amount of power, he didn't want to have to rely on it for everything. As he started to attack in earnest, he noticed how familiar their movements were, almost as if...
This thought was driven from him as the largest, apparently their leader, screamed from inside the largest group. Aang brought up a stone shield, but it was shattered. So Earthbending isn't gonna work, so let's try Firebending! He released a torrent of flames at the leader, but it was suddenly put out. Aang tried again, this time at a group near to Gin, but the result was the same. He decided to try Airbending.
First he created a tornado around himself and then started to enlarge it, until it was about 50 feet in diameter. This made most of the ones attacking Aang stop for a moment. This pause let Aang check on Appa. His bison hadn't been hurt yet, and he had run several of his attackers down, sending more flying with an attack from his tail, but he didn't seem to be their target. Gin was hard pressed, fending off several all by himself. He had a gash on his leg from where a rock that he had thrown had somehow been deflected back at him. As Aang watched, he was knocked back against a tree from an invisible force. Aang sent a wave through the ground towards the group that was just about to finish Gin off, and knocked them into the air by a small, but powerful, earthquake.
With the others safe for the moment, Aang turned back to the main group that was attacking him. As he watched, the tornado that he was sustaining started to dissipate as several of the creatures got close to it. So, Earthbending and Firebending don't work, and Airbending isn't much better, so let's try Waterbending. He could sense a river just on the other side of the clearing. He reached out with his chi towards the water, and created a wave that swept through the forest and into the clearing. Many of the creatures were swept away by the attack, but a good number of them merely leapt over it. Aang targeted them as they landed; making multiple water whips and wrapped them around each one. Most of them screamed, or otherwise struggled, but the water couldn't be separated from them. Even though he was able to capture a large number of them this way, many of the ones still in the air were able to avoid the whips. He couldn't keep all of them captured, and he wouldn't kill them, so he decided to do the only thing that he could think of: he flung them as hard as he could into the woods. Gin had been knocked unconscious by an attack, but Appa drove off the spirits before they could finish him.
Aang heard movement behind him and swung around to face the leader of the banshees. It had its hands several inches apart, with something revolving extremely fast in between them. He separated his hands, and several darts sped towards Aang. Before he could block them, a gust of wind blew them off course. The creature screamed at something that he was looking at over Aangs head, and turned and leapt into the trees along with the remaining spirits. Aang turned as Appa let out a loud grumble of excitement. The thing the creature had screamed at was a man flying on a Sky Bison, who had just landed in the clearing. "Hello, young Avatar," the man said as he dismounted. Aangs mouth hung open in surprise.
As Sokka watched the group get closer, he started to wish that the full Gaang was there standing next to him. I could really use some help right now. I wonder what Dad would say? As he thought this the group entered the village.
Their leader, Gow, approached Sokka on his ostrich horse. "Who are you, and where are the rest of the villagers?"
"I'm Sokka, friend of the Avatar, and I'm here on request of this village to get rid of you!"
"Get rid of us?! But you're just a kid, and besides, we're just helping rebuild, like the Earth King wants."
One of his lackeys yelled from behind him "Ya! So get out of our way, or we'll KILL ya!"
Sokka replied, "I personally know the Earth King, and he would never allow you to do this."
"So you think you can stop us, all by ya self?" asked Gow, "Then we'll just have to teach you a lesson!" He waved at some of his comrades, saying "Kill him!"
Five of them approached Sokka, but he was able to take out two of them with his boomerang. The other three were beaten by a few quick sword strike, sending them running.
"You cowards! I have to do EVERYTHING myself!" Gow dismounted his steed and walked towards Sokka, readying his hammers and yelling orders at the same time, "Find the villagers! Take their supplies! Make 'em pay for their stupidity!"
Sokka nodded, and Suki jumped down and attacked the men, knocking several to the ground, and started punching them, paralyzing them, one by one. Gow started hurling rocks at Sokka, but Sokka merely cut right through each one. Gow sent a fissure towards the young warrior, forcing him to roll out of the way. Gow followed this up with boulder after boulder, not stopping. Sokka was able to block or dodge them all, but his arms were starting to ache. Sokka rolled out of the way of a particularly big boulder, but wasn't able to see the smaller rocks right behind it that hit his head. He was flung back onto his chest.
Gow walked over and started gloating, "Foolish kid! There was no way you could beat me! The only swordsman ever to beat me turned out to be a Firebender!" Just then Sokka jumped up and cut through both of Gow's hammers, cleaving them just beneath the heads. As Gow stumbled back in shock, Sokka quickly sheathed his sword and grabbed the handles as they fell, using them to hit Gow in the face and stomach.
His foe stumbled towards his horse as Sokka yelled "I'm giving you this one chance! Leave now, and don't come back!" The bandits that could still stand grabbed their fallen comrades and fled out of the town. The village elder walked out and said
"Thank you so much for your help! Come, it's time for lunch!"
Sokka started following the elder as Suki jogged up and said, "Are you okay? That was a pretty nasty hit to your head."
"I'm fine, it actually didn't knock me out. Whoever made this helmet REALLY knew what he was doing!"
A single messenger hawk flew north from Zuko's airship. Zuko hoped that the hawk trainer knew what he was doing, all of Zuko's hope was going with the hawk as it flew off into the afternoon.
TO BE CONTINUED...
This chapter was named Winds of Rebellion both to signify that the main characters are learning about the different factions that are rebelling, as well as the link to Airbending that the Spirits have.
For the collective works of the author, go here.