|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Romance||PG||Positive||None|
|The Si Guan Lian|
The remaining three members of Team Suki had just returned to Kao's Meat House, where Yanshu had disappeared without a trace. "Don't worry, Ling, Kang Dae can't have gotten far," Suki assured her friend. Ling said nothing as he climbed onto Feng. Suki took this opportunity to comfort her friend. "Look, it's not your fault. Kang Dae ambushed you."
"Look, I appreciate that you are trying to cheer me up, but I don't need your sympathy. Let's just focus on finding Rong," said Ling; coldness in his voice.
Suki nodded and climbed onto Feng herself. As soon as everyone was on, Suki whipped Feng's reins and the trio was off.
Suki and her friends had been riding for several hours and now found themselves in a random forest in the north-western region of the Earth Kingdom. Ling let out a heavy sigh as a result of their failure to find Rong. Suki looked at the sun and noticed it was about to set. "We should stop to make camp here," she suggested. "We can begin searching again in the morning."
"Good idea," Bo agreed.
Suddenly, Suki heard a twig snap behind one of the trees. "Everybody move!" she shouted. About two dozen earthbenders, clad in black, emerged from behind the trees.
Team Suki was about to take them on when they heard a voice call out from above. "I'll not let you villainous scum hurt these innocent kids!" Team Suki, as well as the Zhiming soldiers, looked above to see a rather plump man with a large, brown beard leap down from the trees. The man was followed by three others. One was a woman with glasses and short blonde hair, wielding a bow. Another was a man with black, wavy hair and was carrying a dagger. The last person was a woman with long, jet black hair and a green kimono. "Take them out!" the plump man yelled. In a split second, his extended his arms and sent two soldiers into the air with an earth pillar. The woman with the blonde hair fired arrows at four of the soldiers, which proved to be ineffective.
"You think those can hurt us?" one of them asked.
"No, but they do seem to distract you pretty well," she replied. Before any of the soldiers could react, they had all been struck from behind by the black-haired woman's earth projectiles.
Meanwhile, the black-haired man was stabbing his way through the remaining soldiers. "It looks like I've still got it!" he exclaimed. "I've already taken down more of these guys than all three of you combined!" The man was met with a rock slide striking him at the end of this sentence. As one of the Zhiming soldiers was about to finish him, he sank into the ground. "Nice going, hot shot," the black-haired woman remarked, dripping with sarcasm. Another soldier came up behind Ren and prepared to strike, but was whipped across the face by Feng's tail. "Looks like you missed one," the black-haired man slyly remarked.
The bearded man took out the last of the soldiers by raising several earth pillars out of the ground and sliding them towards the soldier. "That will show those Zhimings. Are you children alright?" asked the man with the beard.
"Yeah, we're fine," Suki replied.
"We could have taken out all of those guys by ourselves," Bo remarked.
"Who are you guys, anyway?" Ling questioned.
"I am Gahno, the leader of this little group." Gahno motioned to the woman with the jet black hair. "That is Ren. She is serious and stealthy. That over there is Kuong, the hot shot," Gahno said, pointing to the black-haired man. "And that is Otaka, the brainy one," Gahno said, referring to the blonde-haired woman. "And we are the Si Guan Lian," he concluded.
"We used to be the Wu Guan Lian until Omar left," Ren added.
"Wait, you mean the Omar with the darker skin tone and the big, black beard?" Suki asked.
"You know him?" questioned Otaka.
"Well, I knew him. He's dead now."
Three of the four comrades looked saddened by this news; all except Ren, who showed no emotion at all.
"How did the Zhimings know we would be here?" Ling inquired, quickly changing the subject.
"It's possible they were just patrolling these woods and recognized who we were," Suki suggested.
"Indeed. Those Zhiming scum have been patrolling these woods for a while now," said Gahno.
"Well, there may be more of them, so I think we need to leave," said Suki.
"What's the rush, honey?" Kuong inquired.
"We're looking for our friend. She was captured by the Zhimings," Suki responded.
"Well, why didn't you say so? We've got Shirshus back at camp!" Otaka said.
"Are we really going to help these kids?" Ren questioned.
"And why wouldn't we?" Otaka asked.
"Because we have more important things to do," Ren replied, sternly.
"Oh, come on, Ren! What could be the harm of helping these kids out?" asked Gahno. "Besides, they may lead us straight to the Zhimings' headquarters."
"Fine, whatever," Ren responded.
Tai Kun stood in a room with almost no light, gazing upon a map of the Earth Kingdom which was entirely covered in green, with the exception of Ba Sing Se. Yes, I am so close to reaching my goal of conquering the Earth Kingdom. He thought. The western and north-western regions have fallen to me. So far, I have not been able to conquer the southern region, due to those annoying children, nor have I managed to conquer most of the central region. However, they will all fall sooner or later, and once Kang Dae returns with that firebending child, I will lure the Kyoshi Warrior and her friends into my trap. Tai Kun formed his right hand into a fist. And then the prophecy will be fulfilled.
"Master," Shuang said, entering the room. "Hong Wu and Shun have returned from Omashu."
"Send them in," Tai Kun ordered.
"As you wish, my lord," Shuang replied before leaving the room. Just a few moments later, Shun and Hong Wu walked into the room.
"I am very disappointed with your failure. Especially you, Shun. You have allowed yourself to be beaten twice by these mere children," Tai Kun said in a grave tone.
"If I remember correctly, Hong Wu here has been beaten by them many more times than that in the past," Shun said, defending herself. She received a dirty look from the knife-thrower upon saying this.
"If it is any consolation, I wanted to storm the palace and take King Bumi hostage, but she thought it was a 'bad idea'." Hong Wu retaliated.
"Enough! I do not have any interest in your excuses!" Tai Kun shouted.
"My apologies, my lord," said Shun.
"And mine as well, my lord," said Hong Wu.
"Now, both of you get out of my sight." At these words, the two Zhiming Superiors exited the room, leaving Tai Kun alone in the darkness.
"So, you guys are basically like a small group of Freedom Fighters?" Suki asked.
"Yes, but we aren't anything like those Freedom Fighters who used to flood towns. We actually do good for people by fighting off any evil scum who want to come around here and mess with innocent people," Kuong answered.
"So, how far away is camp?" asked Bo. "I don't know if my legs can take any more. Why didn't we just ride on Feng?"
"Because, then the Zhimings might notice us if we were racing through here on a giant eel hound," Suki replied.
"Good point," said Bo.
"Well, here we are. The official headquarters of the Si Guan Lian," Gahno announced. The group had entered a large clearing with nothing but a tent in the center.
"You mean this little tent?" asked Ling.
"It may not look like much, but if the Zhimings haven't found it yet, then you have to admit it's not too shabby," said Otaka.
"Let's just get on with this, already," Ling said, hurt in his voice.
"Can you excuse us for a second?" Suki requested. She walked over to Ling and put her hand on his shoulder. "Ling, we need to talk."
"What good would that do?" Ling replied after turning around to face his friend. "Talking won't help us find Rong, and it won't help us beat the Zhimings. What everyone needs to do is stop giving me their pity and focus on finding Rong as fast as possible."
"Ling, you have to let others help you. You can't just shut everyone out while you are in pain! Instead of keeping your feelings bottled up inside, let them out and let us help you through the pain."
Ling said nothing for several moments, and then he finally broke the silence. "Come on, let's find the Shirshus," he said with no emotion in his voice.
Suki said nothing as she signaled for everyone else to join them. "So, how did it go?" Bo asked.
"Not so well," Suki answered.
"Don't worry. I'm sure he will come around," Bo assured his friend.
"So, where are the Shirshus?" Suki inquired.
"They are right back there, behind those trees," said Ren. The group left the clearing and found one of the Shirshus. "Alright, who has a smell sample?" Ren asked.
"I have one," Ling answered. He held out Rong's bow in front of the Shirshu's nose. The beast started growling and twitching. "Alright, kids, we will ride Wen, and you get on your eel hound, but don't make him go too fast," Gahno instructed. Suki, Bo, and Ling all mounted Feng, while the Si Guan Lian members all boarded the Shirshu named Wen. With a crack of the whip, and a whip of the reins, Feng and Wen were off.
After several hours of riding, the group of heroes came to an area that was near a lake, when, suddenly, Wen started twitching. "It looks like we're getting close," Ren announced. "Really close."
"Hey, Suki, I want to apologize," Ling said. "I was being stupid and keeping my feelings from you guys, but I promise never to do it again. Besides, we're a family now, and we can't afford to be keeping things from each other."
"I'm happy to see you're back to your old self, Ling," Suki said.
"Yeah, I second that," Bo added.
Suddenly, Suki noticed something in the distance. "Look over there!" Suki said, pointing to a large stronghold on the edge of the lake. "That must be where they are holding Rong."
"Then that is our next stop," said Ling.
Rong was led into a room by two Zhiming troops. The soldiers threw her into a chair and restrained her. "You Zhiming scum might as well let me go. You will never get me to talk," Rong said.
"And who said we wanted you to talk?" asked the taunting voice of Kang Dae. The evil Firebender entered the room and locked eyes with Rong. "You are nothing more than bait bring used to lure your friends into a trap."
Rong's eyes widened. "If you hurt Ling or any of them I'll-"
"Sit by and watch as Suki is killed slowly and painfully by Hong Wu, and as the other two are slaughtered before your very eyes," Kang Dae said, finishing Rong's sentence.
Rong was fighting back the thoughts of what these people would do to her friends. "You're a monster," she said, quietly.
"Aw, now is that any way to talk to your big brother?"
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