Southern Air Temple courtyard
Thinking Like an Airbender
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Avatar Brek

Written by

Omashu Rocks

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Out of Control

"No. Try it again."

Brek must have heard those words a thousand times since he started his Airbending training almost a week before. He grew sick of Ayala's monotonous voice instructing him to attempt the same impossible movements again and again from dusk until dawn.

"Why is Airbending impossible?" moaned Brek, oblivious to the fact that he was surrounded by a green mist.

"It's not impossible, Avatar. Just try it again. Try it again. Try it again. Try it again." Ayala's head began to spin around as the smile on her face became increasingly malicious. Out of fear, Brek looked in the other direction. There, before him, was a sky bison standing on its hind legs and wearing a bib.

"My name is Pingo. I am the bison that eats bad Airbenders."

Brek flinched and noticed a funny creature on the ground with a long tail and enormous ears open its mouth to speak.

"I'm a lemur. You got that? Bada-boom bada-bing."

The Avatar scratched his head in confusion but was interrupted when an old Air Nomad monk began floating around his body and poking him with a cane, repeating the same, nonsensical line, "Neh Squidward. Neh Squard. Neh Squidward."

"What is going on!" demanded Brek. Suddenly, his eyes burst open, and he saw the plain, boring ceiling of his bedroom in the Southern Air Temple.

"This place is really getting to me," he mumbled. Groaning, he rolled over in his bed to check is candle clock. 8 o'candle. Training time. Brek threw on a shirt, slipped on a pair of uncomfortable Airbending shoes, and ambled down a hallway towards the temple courtyard. When he arrived at the garden where he usually practices, all he found was a small note atop a stone bench.

Today's training will be a bit different, Avatar. After reading this, Brek muttered to himself angrily. To receive your instructions. You'll have to find me. He burned the note in his hand and sighed before dully walking away from the bench. Brek had only made it a few paces before something hard hit him in the back of the head. Looking around, he saw a squished apple on the floor behind him, and he scanned the air for signs of Ayala.

"Can't you see me right here?" called the Airbender.

Brek followed the voice to a nearby tree with thick leaves. Looking closer, he could see a figure dressed in leaf-green apparel with long brown hair.

"What was that for?" He demanded.

"If you were thinking like an Airbender, you would have been looking up," responded his instructor as she glided towards him and landed softly. "If you were looking up, you would have either seen me or the apple."

"Whatever. What's today's special activity. Am I gonna jump off one of the temple's towers and hope I fly? Create a tornado that would end up drilling into the ground?"

"We aren't going to try any new moves today," said an irritated Ayala. "In fact, you aren't required to Airbend."

"Now that's what I'm talking about! What am I doing?"

"You'll be completing a series of tasks around the temple. Can you handle that?"

"If I can Earthbend, you bet I can! Hit me with your best shot."

This challenge seemed to amuse Ayala, who smirked without saying a word.

Minutes later, Brek was in a full Air Nomad outfit.

"Do you feel like an Airbender?" Ayala asked calmly.

"If by Airbender you mean crazy person, then yes," Brek retorted.

These rude remarks didn't seem to bother Ayala, but rather amuse her further. "Excellent, your first task should be a fun one. The monks in Southern Air Temple have been rebuilding our culture's economy since they first settled here. Although they're few in numbers, they've been able to export handcrafted goods to the other nations. You'll be helping them in packaging wooden bowls."

"Wooden bowls?"

"Wooden bowls," Ayala restated as she gestured toward a higher part of the temple, "The bowls are crafted and carved up on that upper ledge, but the boxes we send them in our down here. Generally, we use Airbending to launch the bowls into the cotton-filled boxes to be shipped out to the Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Water Tribes."

"I think I can handle that," nodded Brek with a hint of confidence. "I could easily do that with Earthbending."

"We'll see. First you have to get up there."

Brek simply made his way to the lower part of the temple and launched himself upwards with an Earth pillar. He barely made it to the upper platform, grasping the ledge with his left hand and pulling up the rest of his body.

"It would have been easier with Airbending!" called Ayala from below.

"Yeah, yeah." Brek rolled his eyes and found a line of wooden bowls waiting to be launched into the boxes. With a quick look over the ledge he found his targets and prepared to take aim. His feet planted firmly and his hands in fists, he made a swift uppercut motion with his right arm. To his surprise, he heard a loud crack and saw two halves of the wooden bowl soar in the air, neither of them finding its way to the boxes below.

"The bowls are fragile," reported a male monk standing nearby, "Don't worry. We have plenty, and Ayala said to keep giving you more until you got at least five right."

Frustrated, Brek let out a short wail of anger before calming down in preparation of a second attempt. He stared at the bowls for minutes, pondering how he could possibly complete the task.

"And I can't just carry them to the boxes?" he asked sarcastically to the monk who simply shook his head.

"Of course I can't. That would be too easy." He took one last deep breath and moved his palms upwards, lifting a stone plate from beneath the bowls. As he pushed his arms out from his body, the plate moved farther, but eventually the Avatar's arms were fully extended. The bowls had no where to go but in a vertical drop, crashing below. Brek refrained from showing his irritation and tried again, this time flinging the plate in a desperate attempt the throw the bowl towards its target box. Miraculously, he succeeded.

"There we go!" he exclaimed in celebration.

The monk simply shook his head and said, "Great. Now you just have to get that lucky four more times."

The Avatar sighed in defeat as he realized what he must do. "Airbending time?"

"Airbending time."

"Okay, but you're about to loose a bunch of your bowls." Without any hope or confidence whatsoever, Brek prepared a small ball of air behind his back, took a step forward, and launched it into one of the bowls, which was hurled through the air and caught by the cotton-lined box waiting below.

"I- I don't believe it." Brek stared incredulously at a job-well-done. With a grin from ear to ear, he repeated this move three times, successful each one. "Yeah! Now, that's what I'm talking about!" He turned to see the monk smiling and clapping slowly, to which he responded "Okay, Airbending worked that time. Ayala had me practice that move like eight-hundred times."

The monk said nothing. He simply handed Brek a small, folded piece of paper.

Congratulations on passing your first task, Avatar. Next, you'll be operating our mail system, located in the patio between the small pink-tiled towers.

Overconfident, Brek made his way to his next test, oblivious to the challenges involved in running the Southern Air Temple's mail system. When he arrived, he was surprised to see four monks gathered around some sort of chamber, waiting for him.

"Welcome Avatar," the youngest began, "If you would enter the mail room, we can begin our work."

"Sounds good to me," replied the cocky Earthbender. As he opened an elaborate door to enter, Brek's jaw dropped to floor. He had never seen a more complicated system of tubes and pipes in his life. Each tube was a different color, green, yellow, purple, white, blue, or red, and there seemed to be two of each. Before he could make any sense of it, a small, plastic container sped out of one of the blue pipes. Brek caught it and looked quizzically at the rolled up paper inside. He figured that he should drop into the other blue pipe so he leisurely made his way across the room and did so.

"This isn't bad at all. I could do this all-" he was cut off by the sound of another container shooting out of a purple tube. He reached out quickly to catch it and jogged over to the corresponding tube on the other side. As soon as he made it there, another container was fired out of a yellow pipe. He caught it, only to see yet another container come from a green pipe. Before he could deliver either, the blue pipe produced its second message. It wasn't long before each pipe was rapidly spewing containers of different lengths. If the small plastic cylinders weren't marked with the appropriate color, Brek would have lost track of what belongs where.

After thirty seconds of catching and running frantically through the chaotic mail room, Brek came to the conclusion that the only way to do his task right was to send the containers to their destinations via Airbending. He caught another cylinder and thrust his arm towards the correct tube, propelling it with a gust of air. This method proved to be effective, as he quickly gained control of the situation.

Fifteen minutes later, the tubes stopped attacking and the young monk from outside entered to give Brek with his last challenge, also written on a small note.

Your last task will reward you, Avatar. All you need to do is retrieve an air glider from our tallest tower. After that, you can brag that you never once had to use Airbending in any of these challenges.

Brek grunted as he read. She knew I couldn't do it, he thought, and what does she mean by the task will reward me? The Avatar simply shrugged and embarked on his final duty of the day.

He made his way up the tower easily, with Earthbending. He used rock gloves to cling to the walls and scaled upwards without any difficulty. He was cautious, however, as he thought that at any moment, monks would appear to force powerful gales at him. They never came. It was a short ride before Brek used a blast of fire to push himself to the tower's roof. There, he found a standard glider, waiting peacefully for him. He reached for it slowly, terrified of a booby trap or another one of Ayala's tricks. He even flinched as he grabbed it, but nothing happened. That's when he heard her voice.

"Finally! I thought you'd never take it! And you Earthbenders are supposed to be brave!"

Brek turned to see his Airbending master sitting gleefully on the back of her Sky Bison, an animal whose leavings haunted most of Brek's afternoons during his time at the temple. All Brek could do was laugh "Well, what should I do now?" he asked as he chuckled.

"Fly, of course!"

"Fly? But-"

"But what? But you can't? Just like you couldn't use Airbending in your other tasks? Fly, Brek! I know you can do it."

"Here goes nothing." The Avatar prepared his glider and leaped out of the tower to his death. He screamed throughout his whole fall, certain that he would splatter on the temple floor, but just before he hit the hard ground, he somehow tilted his glider upwards and began to soar through the air.

"I can't believe it!" cried an ecstatic Brek as he ascended higher and higher. "This is amazing! Better than anything! Better than Earthbending!" Overjoyed, he performed a loop and a few twists and turns. "Ayala, I can't thank you enough! You were right! I can- Ayala?... Ayala!" The Airbending master didn't answer her pupil's call, and Brek decided to land out of curiosity.

"Ayala? Is there another task? I'm up for it! Alright, seriously Ayala... Where are you? Do I have to find you again, because-... no!" Fear shot through Brek's spine as the eyes of a deranged killer glared into his own.

"So we meet again Avatar!" Kimma's shrill, demonic voice rang through Brek's ears as she threw Ayala toward the ground with Bloodbending. "Onjing thought we should stop by and say hello to our favorite Avatar!"

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