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|To the Fire Nation|
Chapter 15: To the Fire Nation
Earth Rumble VI was in full swing. With the War over, more Earthbenders had come to challenge the reigning champion, the Blind Bandit. Toph, however, was bored. As she fought her opponents, even more than one at a time, she couldn't help feeling empty. This isn't fun anymore; I used to enjoy this.
The Boulder and the Hippo were trying to take her down as a duo, but they had just as much luck as the first time. Toph could feel their every movement and countered every attack with flawless precision.
"The Boulder and the Hippo will bury you!" The bulky Earthbender cried.
Toph couldn't even laugh at them. "I'm so bored." She said under her breath. They launched two large rocks, but the projectiles had a small space in between. Toph merely had to turn sideways to dodge, and she sent two separate fissures toward her opponents. The Boulder was launched out of the arena when the fissure reached him, but the Hippo was partially submerged. Toph then flicked her hand out and sent the challenger out of the ring as well.
Xin Fu moderated once more. After being freed from his makeshift prison by some passerby, he decided to return to hosting Earth Rumble VI. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you your reigning champion, the Blind Bandit!"Toph smirked. At least victory still tasted sweet. That's when she felt three familiar sets of footsteps. "Twinkle Toes?" The Blind Bandit turned toward where they stood at the end of the stage.
"Hey Toph, how's it going?" Aang asked.
"I've never been more bored in my life!" She felt Katara and Sokka standing behind Aang. "Well, are you guys just gonna stand there or what?" They climbed up onto the stage and embraced their friend.
After Toph collected all of her things, the four of them exited the arena, and she told them how things had been. "My parents aren't overprotective like they used to be; they're still overprotective and all, but... you know, they're my parents. At least Gaoling knows that I exist now."
"That's great, Toph; I'm so happy for you!" Katara exclaimed.
"Yeah, well, it has gotten a little boring around here." She grinned mischievously. "I hope you guys aren't just here to talk."
"Well..." Aang began.
"Let me stop you there, Twinkle Toes—!" She glared at Sokka as he interrupted.
"Still not manly..."
She poked him. "Quiet you. Anyway, I want in. I don't care what you're up to; I want in."
"Great! We're headed to the Fire Nation to see Zuko." Aang said.
"Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors will meet us there." Sokka explained.
Toph's inclined her head. "Suki's gonna be there, too, huh?"
"And don't forget Yun." Katara interjected.
Aang's eyes widened. "Oh, yeah! We met this Earthbender named Yun Zhen on Kyoshi Island; he's coming, too."
"An Earthbender?" Toph smiled; she might just have a rival. "What are we waiting for? Let's go!"
Yun awoke at dawn, as usual, but found that it was difficult for someone to perform any kind of meditative exercises on a boat. He did not have to wait long for the other warriors to come out of their quarters. Ty Lee walked over to him.
"Hey, I wanted to talk about last night."
Yun nodded. "So do I."
"I want us to be friends, Yun. I don't want you to feel like I'm your enemy."
"You're not," he replied. "I promise. I just--it's going to take some getting used to. I've hated the Fire Nation for six years..."
Ty Lee grinned. "But you don't hate me anymore?"
The Earthbender shook his head and smiled. "No, I don't. I couldn't if I wanted to; you're so nice and sweet that I can't even imagine why I hated you in the first place."
Both of them blushed as the moment passed, interrupted by Suki. "Look alive, people! Whale Tail Island is dead ahead!"
Yun saw the massive island, but he was distracted by smoke coming from far off in the distance. Yun shrugged; it was probably on another island.
"When we hit port, we are going to move to the airship that will take us to the Capitol. Any questions? No? Good."
Yun gathered his belongings: his sword, a pack with clothes, and a small bag of rocks for Earthbending on the go. "I'm ready.""Good." Suki said. "Because there's our ride."
"Oh boy..." Yun said as he looked at the massive hunk of metal.
The Next Day
Zuko looked down on the courtyard, preparing himself for yet another War Meeting. This one had been called by General Shu, and he did not know why. I hope it's not another challenge. Not that he couldn't handle himself, but Zuko was tired of the plots. War Minister Qin daily tried to press him into aggressive action of any kind.
Zuko laughed. "I guess with no war, he would get pretty bored." This recent call was troubling, though. Like Shinu, Shu was not a cruel man, and he had experience. Whatever got him to ask for this meeting was bound to require the aid of Aang and his friends. "Hopefully, they get here sooner than later."
The War Meeting came, and Zuko once again sat on his throne. "Why did you call this meeting, General Shu?"
The man in question stood. "I have pulled my men out of the Southern Earth Kingdom, as you requested, but there have been some... issues with the Earth Kingdom military."
Zuko leaned forward. "What kind of issues?"
"They have begun taking back the Colonies forcefully, ruthlessly even. They've killed our colonists and destroyed their homes. We believe that action should be taken." He indicated the other officers.
The Fire Lord frowned. "That doesn't sound like Kuei or any of the generals at all."
"That is why this is troubling; we've never seen such viciousness from them."
Zuko nodded, deep in thought. "I will be meeting with King Kuei in a week at Ba Sing Se; I will see what he knows. We can hopefully come to an agreement or resolution then."
Shu glanced at the others. "What should we do in the mean time?"
Zuko rubbed his temples. "Send small contingents, and I do mean small, to each Colony to aid them. Once this is sorted out with Kuei we can simply remove them again."
"As you wish, Fire Lord Zuko."
Team Avatar rode toward Capitol Island with the wind at their backs. "We're making great time!" Aang exclaimed.
"Hey, Aang, when is that big meeting with all four nations again?" Katara slid up beside him.
"In about a week Kuei, Arnook, Hakoda, and Zuko will all be there. It is being held in Ba Sing Se."
Sokka pointed his sword at Aang. "Aren't you supposed to be there too?"
"Yeah, I was told that it was the Avatar's duty to be there, and there hasn't been one of these since the War started."
Toph chimed in. "That should be exciting for you, meeting with all of those important people. But what about us?"
Aang shrugged. "I don't know. You guys could go visit Iroh at the Jasmine Dragon."
"I guess so..." Toph blew her hair out of her face. "But you still have the coolest things happen when we're not around!"
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