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|More from QuietDove||Action/Adventure||PG||None||None|
|Plots and Secrets|
Book 1: The Journey
Atka had fallen into a familiar routine over the last month. Get up; go for a run, breakfast, training with Forr, dinner, train with Kann. The routine had delivered the required results; Atka's earthbending had improved beyond measure. Forr was as hard on him as ever though, although Atka had been careful to keep it from affecting him. Oska had started to leave him alone as his earthbending improved as well. It was fair to say that things were looking up for Atka.
"I'm going to get a bite to eat" said Kann, "You coming?"
Atka shook his head, "No, I'm going to bed" Atka yawned and stretched his arms. "See you later!"
Atka turned towards the dorms but stopped before he walked through the gate. He spotted Forr walking into the classroom with General Dane, they both looked rather suspicious. Atka sneaked over to the window and hid in one of the bushes underneath.
"Are you seriously going through with this Forr?" he heard Dane say.
"Yes, the time is right and everything is in exactly the right place" Forr said, a hint of triumph in his voice.
"What about the Queen?" Dane asked
"The Queen is little more than a puppet, we are fortunate that she cares even less for the outside world than her father did". Forr replied, "As I said, everything is as it should be, we just need the spark to light the tinder..."
Atka heard footsteps approaching the door, probably two people. Atka made sure he was completely hidden as they knocked on the door.
"The badgermole waits in silence" A quiet voice said, Atka didn't recognise this one
"For he knows he can catch his prey" The others replied, again, Atka didn't recognise them although one was male and the other female.
"Welcome brother and sister" someone said. The door was shut behind them.
"Commander Tyo" said Forr, "And Commissioner Kar Mei, I am honoured to be in the presence of the leader of the Dai Li"
"As am I" said Kar Mei, "You are a hero General Forr"
Forr laughed, "It's been a long time since someone called me that Miss Kar Mei"
Dane sounded annoyed, "Just get to the point Forr"
Forr cleared his throat, "Ahem yes. Phase two of our plan is ready to be deployed, which is why I called you two here".
"Are our targets still the same?" Tyo asked.
"Absolutely, you must be swift and decisive. There must be no mistakes!" Forr insisted.
"Soon we shall be ready to commence the greatest day in Earth Kingdom history!"
The others sounded their approval.
"Forr, if you don't mind me asking, what are we doing about the boy?" Dane asked.
Forr laughed, "Don't worry about him, he's staying here. He won't be leaving these barracks".
"And if he does?" asked Dane
"If he does then he becomes the ultimate priority, but he must have no suspicion of what is happening. The Avatar is our greatest danger". Forr said.
Then Kar Mei spoke, "I can spare some Dai Li to track him if he does leave"
"No, that would be too obvious. The troops in the barracks can handle it" Forr said. "But as I said, everything must appear normal. Nothing around here will change; we are still going to teach the Avatar earthbending. By the time he's mastered it our plan will have already been initiated".
"Excellent. I feel that it is time for us to depart, we have plenty of work to do" said Kar Mei, "Thank you for your hospitality General Forr, and General Dane"
The door opened and Kar Mei walked out, followed by Tyo. Soon after Forr, Dane and the third person followed. The third man was dressed in all black and covered in a large cloak.
Ensuring that the coast was clear Atka got up and rushed over to the dorm entrance. He walked up the stairs and knocked on Kann's door.
"Open up Kann!" Atka burst into the room to find Kann stood wearing trunks and brushing his teeth. "On second thoughts" Atka said backing out of the door, "Get dressed first".
A few seconds later Kann invited Atka back into his room, "What is it?" he asked.
"Its Forr, he's planning something, something really big..." Atka said quickly.
"Slow down there buddy, where's all this come from?"
Atka went over the conversation he'd overheard, he told Kann about the plan and the other people in the building with Forr.
"Okay so something's happening..." said Kann, "What do you think we should do?"
"Why are you asking me!" Atka said loudly.
"Well you are the Avatar! This is supposed to be your sort of thing!" Kann exasperated.
Atka shook his head, "We need to find out what they are planning, and after that we can decide what our next move is".
Kann nodded in agreement, "So should we check out Forr's office?"
"Seems like a good idea, but first, I want to know as much as possible about the people Forr was talking to" said Atka.
Kann scratched his chin, "Well I know that Commissioner Kar Mei is the leader of the Dai Li, that is the Ba Sing Se police force. She's a bit of an enigma, the whole Dai Li is! My guess is she's a very powerful earthbender. She's also likely to be the De Facto leader of the Earth Kingdom as the Dai Li seem to have a huge influence in the running of the country". "Usual bad guy stuff then..." said Atka "What about Commander Tyo?"
"He's a bit easier, he's the man behind all of the technologies in the Earth Kingdom army. He helped to perfect the tanks and also improved the airships that are now used in the army" replied Kann.
Atka was lost in thought, "You don't think they're planning an invasion of some sort do you?"
Kann looked serious, "Possibly, I don't see why else they would need a technology expert unless they were using an army. My guess is that the army would be quite large".
"The question is where they are going to attack..." Atka said
"There aren't any obvious targets, they have no reason the attack the Fire Nation and I think they would be beaten if they tried, and I doubt they would need that large of an invasion force to attack the Southern Water Tribe. The Northern Water Tribe haven't talked to anyone in years so I doubt they've provoked anyone..." said a puzzled Kann.
"What about Ba Sing Se? Maybe they're trying to overthrow the Earth Queen" suggested Atka.
But Kann disagreed, "As I said before, the Dai Li are in de facto control of the Earth Kingdom capital. They could overthrow the Earth Queen by themselves if they wanted to".
Atka sighed, "Well I'm out of ideas, lets go with the sneak into Forr's office idea. Meet in my room tomorrow morning, we have the day off so we've got plenty of time". Atka bid Kann goodnight at went into his own room.
Kann burst into Atka's room early in the morning, "Forr's gone! I saw him board the monorail. I think he's going into Gaoling".
Atka smiled, "Brilliant! How long do you think we have?"
Kann thought for a moment, "Well it takes about half an hour to get into Gaoling from here, so lets play it safe and say one hour"
"That's plenty of time, we just need to find a little bit of evidence" said Atka.
The two of them checked carefully around the dorm to make sure no one was around. When they were sure they made their way down towards the classroom and did a quick scout around and made sure it was empty.
"Okay lets check the door" said Kann, he attempted to open the door to Forr's office, it didn't budge. "Okay, locked" he declared. "Let me have a look" Atka said as he moved Kann out of the way
Atka drew a small amount of water from the air and froze it into the shape of a needle. He put the needle inside the lock and tried to pick it.
"I hope you know what you're doing..." said Kann nervously.
"Don't worry..." Atka said, "I'm almost there".
Then there was a clunk and Atka turned the handle, the door swung open into Forr's office.
Kann scanned the room, "Okay we need to look for anything that might give us clues to Forr's plan"
The two of them rummaged through the papers on the desk. Nothing. They turned to the sets of draws but again the search was fruitless.
"There has to be something," said Atka.
"What about this?" said Kann, he held a small chest in his hand.
Atka walked over to him, "Looks locked to me, let try and pick it" Atka did the same trick he did on the door and the chest clicked open. "Bingo!" Atka said enthusiastically.
Atka laid out the contents of the chest on the floor. There were a couple of scrolls and a medal.
Kann picked up the medal and read the inscription, "Awarded for Valour and Impeccable Service to The Earth Kingdom, General Forr"
Atka unfurled one of the scrolls, "I think it's a map of the Fire Nation Colonies". He handed the scroll to Kann.
"Yeah, its really well detailed as well". Kann studied the map closely, "What about the other one?"
Atka looked at the second scroll, "Its like a list"
"What does it say?" Kann asked.
Atka read out the list: "Council of Five nearly unanimous, target one located. Dai Li on side, Earth Queen under control. Target two located. Main forces at capital, ready for assault. Avatar under control." Atka read through it again, silently. "That's it..."
"Cryptic...I think its fair to say that Forr is planning something huge" said Kann. "But what?"
Atka and Kann sat in silence for a few minutes before Kann broke the silence, "It's the Colonies...they're going to attack the Colonies." Said Kann.
Atka looked at his friend, "How do you know?" he asked
Kann moved closer to Atka and presented the map to him, "This is a military map, you can see that Forr has marked out strategic locations" he pointed to the red dots. "These yellow dots, the ones with the arrows coming out of them, are probably Forr's forces and what their movements would be".
Atka looked impressed, "You're a genius! How do you know all of this?"
Kann grinned smugly, "Genius eh? Ha Ha!" he spent a moment feeling proud for himself, "How do I know this? I've spent an ungodly amount of time in Forr's military tactics classes, that's how." Kann went back to studying the map.
Atka's face was serious again, "Is there anything else, a date or something?"
Kann shook his head, "All we have here is the rough plan, its not a detailed enough to be the full thing".
"But it's enough to prove that this is a real threat?" Atka asked.
"I'd say so," replied Kann, "I think we should take these and get out of here"
Kann and Atka pocketed the scrolls and left the classroom, luckily the training grounds were still deserted. They entered Atka's room.
Atka slumped down onto his bed, "So now what?" he said
Kann sighed, "I suppose we should tell someone about this, you're the Avatar this is the sort of thing you should be stopping."
Atka rolled over, "I know but I'm not even sure who I can trust. It sounds like most of the Earth Kingdom leaders are in on this plan".
Kann sat down at the end of the bed, "Most of them, the scroll said that there are two targets. I bet they're high ranking officers in the Earth Kingdom".
"So?" said Atka
"So, they're probably people who wouldn't agree to Forr's idea. I bet they would help you" replied Kann.
Atka sat up, "But we have no idea who they are..."
Kann groaned, "I get the feeling we're out of our depth here. We should go somewhere we know we have allies, what about the Southern Water Tribe?"
Atka thought for a moment, "No, I don't want to bring them into any conflicts"
"Fair enough" said Kann.
"Is there anywhere in the Earth Kingdom that isn't influenced by Ba Sing Se?" Atka asked.
"I guess Omashu would be your best bet" said Kann, "Its effectively a city state and they make most of their own decisions. Plus the Dai Li are banned from entering!"
Atka's face lit up "Sounds perfect!"
Kann however frowned, "One problem though Omashu is quite a closed community, its very hierarchical. We'd struggle to talk to anyone of any importance"
"Its probably safe though, we only need to find one person who can help us" Atka said.
Kann stood up, "In that case we should leave as soon as possible"
Atka nodded, "Lets go this evening, everyone should be in the mess hall so it'll be quiet".
Kann walked out of the room, "I'm going to pack some stuff, if we are leaving then there's no way I'm wearing this uniform!"
Atka and Kann waited until the dorms were empty before they left their rooms. Atka had changed out of the green uniform and was wearing his Water Tribe clothes; he had also discarded the Earth Kingdom hair band and was instead wearing his old one. Kann was waiting for him in the hall; he was wearing a sleeveless yellow shirt with brown shorts.
"You ready?" Kann asked
"Ready as I'll ever be" Atka replied
They both walked out the dorm and went into the central area of the barracks. It was very quiet; barely anyone was walking around, however the main gate was still guarded.
"Any ideas for getting around them?" Atka asked.
Kann shook his head, "Not really" Atka looked around for an idea but Kann tapped him on the shoulder.
"Over here" he said, Kann pulled Atka over to a well that was situated between two buildings.
"What is it Kann?" said Atka.
"I want you to bend the water out of here and turn it into mist, you reckon you can do that?" Kann answered.
Atka stepped back from the well slightly, "Sure"
Taking several deep breaths, Atka moved his arms up and down. Soon the water came rushing out of the well and Atka adjusted his movements to control it into one ball. Atka exhaled and as he did the water dissipated and turned into a thick mist that he moved around the immediate area.
"Stay close to me" Atka told Kann
The two of them made there way to the gates and heard the confusion in the voices of the guards.
"Where did this come from?" One of them said.
Without stopping Atka and Kann ran out of the gate and into the surrounding forest. They ran down into the riverbed that the two had been training in for the last month.
"I can't believe we got away with that!" Kann declared
Atka caught his breath, "We're free. Now it's just the long road to Omashu!"
Kann and Atka checked their large bags and made their way north towards the river crossing where they would camp for the night.
The tall-cropped haired boy made sure he was well hidden behind the tree as he observed the two runaways. A mischievous smile came across his face as he watched them leave the riverbed.
He spoke, "You're not getting away from me..."
For the collective works of the author, go here.