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|The Rays of the Sun|
It was a hot day in the Zaying Encampment. Very few people noticed as the Fire Nation troops burnt everything to the ground. In the midst of the chaos, men and women were being slaughtered. A Fire Nation soldier blasted a man with a fire stream, killing him on impact. His colleague formed a fire whip and took out several men and women at once. The Fire Nation had finally stormed their way into the last rebel encampment of the Xiji Province. Once the rebels where all dead here, Fire Lord Azulon would claim this province as his own. As more and more troops ransacked the village, the commanding officer of this raid, a man with a large, black beard covering most of his face shouted an order to his troops. "Kill all of the refugees! Make sure no one escapes! We have to make sure all of the rebels are wiped out!" This man's description of these people, rebels was only half accurate. These men and women were once rebels who fought against the Fire Nation troops who had stormed the Xiji Province, but they had recently been made refugees after having their main base destroyed and most of their supplies being wiped out.
Near the back of the encampment, a woman just 37-years-old looked her son in the eye. "Listen to me, Hong Wu, you have to run!" she shouted.
"But, mommy, I don't want to leave you!" the seven-year-old Hong Wu shouted.
"Please, Hong Wu! You must go, now!" the woman insisted.
"What about you?!" Hong Wu asked, tears forming in his eyes.
"Do not worry about me! I will not let them take you away, now go!"
Hong Wu hugged his mother tightly, and then ran out the back of the tent. Hong Wu sprinted as fast as he could. His goal was to escape into the woods and hopefully find somewhere he could find food. He ran as fast as he could, trying hard to ignore the deafening explosions around him. Somehow, he was miraculously able to escape into the woods without dying. The raid was still intense, though. Hong Wu could still hear the shouting and explosions. After several more seconds, Hong Wu fell to the ground. The young boy began sobbing uncontrollably. He sobbed and sobbed before letting out a scream that sounded more like a loud, screeching noise. "Why did they have to take her away?!" Hong Wu screamed. Suddenly, three beasts came bursting into the woods. Hong Wu sat up and saw that he was surrounded.
Three soldiers on ostrich horses looked down on the boy. "Well, well, what do we have here?" asked a woman with flowing, brown hair and an earth hammer by her side. "It looks like we have ourselves a crier."
Hong Wu looked up at the woman in fear. "D-don't hurt me! Please!" he begged.
Another one of the soldiers, a man with a beard covering the entire lower half of his face, started laughing heartily. "Oh, sure, we will just make an exception for you, you little scumbag!" he replied, sarcastically.
Hong Wu noticed that each person was dressed in clothes from all of the three remaining nations. "You two don't look like you are from the Fire Nation," said Hong Wu.
The man wearing Water Tribe attire, and sporting a rather long ponytail spoke this time. "That is, because we are defectors. The three of us are a special unit comprised of benders from each nation," he said. "I am Kulik," he said, introducing himself. "And this is Huma and Li Qing," he said, motioning to the Earth Kingdom woman and the Fire Nation man.
"Hey, Kulik, are we going to stand here and play the name game all day, or are we going to kill this little brat and move out with the others?!" asked Li Qing.
Huma leapt off of her ostrich horse and drew her earth hammer. "Here is your answer, Li Qing," she responded. Suddenly, another sound could be heard. About two dozen soldiers clad in Earth Kingdom armor burst into the woods. Kulik drew the water from his water skin and Li Qing covered his hands with fire. Huma, being taken by surprise was struck down with an earth column, killing her immediately. Kulik and Li Qing blasted their adversaries, but their lives were soon ended as well after their bodies were hurled back through the woods by two more earth columns.
The leader of the team of Earth Kingdom soldiers knelt down and looked at the petrified Hong Wu. "Look at him. He's scared to death," he said.
"We need to get him out of here," another said. "Thank the spirits the Earth King sent us in as reinforcements, or this guy would be toast." The soldier lifted Hong Wu up and carried back to his transport.
It was hot outside – so hot. A carriage was being pulled through the woods by an ostrich horse. Within it, there were four people. About ten miles away, there was a battle raging. Not just any battle, this was one of the most brutal in the history of the Hundred Year War: the Battle of Jeontu. The ostrich horse pulled the carriage along as it drew nearer to the battle. Inside the carriage, a woman faced three of her best recruits. "Alright, we are nearing the battle," she spoke. "It is my duty to warn you that this will be a severely dangerous mission. If any of you want to run home to your mommies, then go ahead and do it now." None of the three soldiers budged. "Very well, then. I will repeat your objective only once," she stated "You are to slip past enemy lines unnoticed and kill General Reiko."
One of the recruits, an eighteen-year-old boy with a black ponytail decided to speak. "Who is that?" he asked.
The other two recruits looked at the boy like he was crazy. "Are you kidding me?" asked one of them, a man with blonde, shaggy hair. "How could you be a soldier and not know who General Reiko is?!"
"Hey, look, pal, I'm not a soldier, I am an assassin," the man with the ponytail answered.
The blonde-haired man looked up at his commander with annoyance written all over his face. "Commander Taisa, how could you hire an assassin?! They are nothing but greedy scum who are only interested in money!"
The man with the ponytail gave his comrade an angry glare. "And I suppose I should judge you based on the fact that you are a soldier?" he asked. "Soldiers are often stereotyped as being nothing but emotionless killing machines who will jump at the chance to murder someone."
The blonde-haired man raised his fist and held it over his head. "I would shut my mouth if I were you," he warned. "Being a soldier is one of the most honorable things a person can do!"
"That's enough – both of you!" Taisa raised her voice. "General Reiko is one of Fire Lord Azulon's top Generals," she explained. "Rumor has it that he is planning something big – an attack on our nation's capital."
"What exactly?" asked the third recruit. She was a blonde woman wearing a green kimono.
"We are not sure," Taisa responded. "Earth King Kuei believes this is the best strategy." What Taisa was unaware of, however, was that Kuei was not even aware that a war existed at the moment and that the Council of Five had made the decision themselves.
"So, we are going through all of this just, because of a rumor?" asked the man with the ponytail.
"Reiko is Azulon's most ruthless general," said Taisa. "If he is planning something big, we absolutely cannot afford to let him go through with it."
All three recruits nodded, letting their commander know that they understood.
"Alright, this is where you three get out," Taisa informed them. "Once you get into the woods, find the soldier who is supposed to rendezvous with you."
"And who is that?" asked the woman.
"His name is Konghe. When you find him, ask him this question: 'What is the name of the animal who watches the king'." Taisa explained. "If he gives you the answer, 'Bosco', then he is who he says he is." Taisa then opened the carriage door. "Once you meet up in the woods, camp there for the night and then sneak through the enemy lines in the morning. Once you have slipped through, you must fight your way to Reiko's encampment. You will have a handful of Terra Team soldiers to help you with this. Once you do this, you need to find Reiko and take him out by any means necessary. Understood?"
"Yes ma'am!" All three recruits said in unison. The three then jumped out of the carriage and watched as it was pulled away. The blonde-haired man looked over at the ponytailed man. "By the way, you never told us your name," he said.
The ponytailed man grinned and waited before speaking. "It's Hong Wu," he stated.
"Nice to meet you, Hong Wu," said the blonde-haired woman. "I am Ming and this is Hoku," she said, introducing her and her friend.
"Nice to meet you," Hong Wu said, obviously not caring about his teammate's names were.
Four hours of trekking. This is what Hong Wu and his comrades experienced as they walked through these woods. It had been so hot all day. The rays of the sun were beating down on him and his teammates mercilessly. Hong Wu did not like it when it got too hot. It reminded him of that day eleven years ago when his life had changed forever.
Hong Wu's thoughts were interrupted by the voice of one of his teammates. "So, what made you want to become an assassin?" asked Ming.
Hong Wu looked over to see her smiling at him. "Why do you want to know so badly?" he asked.
"I was just curious," Ming stated.
"Well, you aren't going to find out," Hong Wu responded.
"And why not?" Ming inquired.
"Because it is none of your business!" Hong Wu shot back.
"Okay, sheesh. I am sorry for asking you a question," Ming replied.
"Are you two finished?" asked Hoku. His two allies looked at him without anything to say for themselves. "There could be enemy troops in these woods, which means we need to keep quiet!" Hoku lectured.
Hong Wu and Ming were silent for several moments until Hong Wu broke the silence. "She started it," he said, childishly. Suddenly, the three comrades heard movement from behind a shrubbery. All three of them turned around like lightning and took their attack stances. "Show yourself!" Hong Wu shouted.
"See? What did I tell you?!" Hoku said through clenched teeth.
None of the three comrades knew who was behind that shrubbery, were ready and willing to put up one hell of a fight if necessary. Especially Hong Wu.
- This chapter is released in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Slash Trilogy.
- The character, Li Qing is the grandson of Admiral Ji Qing from .
- In case any Slash Trilogy fans have forgotten, Konghe was a member of the Council of Five that was seen in the chapter, and was killed in
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