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The following story is indubitably fanon and should not be considered actual canon.
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THE UNITED FORCES CREW"How incredible is it that the Fire Lord is walking around on this big tub somewhere?" Lee whispered to Bumi with the excitement of a fanboy.
"You want my honest opinion, or do you want me to get excited?" Bumi snickered.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Bumi laughed and patted his friend on the shoulder, "Pal, I have been over to the Fire Lord's Palace nearly every year since I was born---heck, I've had the Fire Lord hunt me half way across the Earth Kingdom, kick my butt, and then invite me back over for tea---twice actually?"
"Right...right..." his friend teased, "I forgot how good of friends he and your father are....and how you and the Fire Lord's daughter were a---well---what are you two exactly?"
"A gentleman does not kiss and tell my friend..." Bumi grinned... "But if I know Honora, she's probably on this heap somewhere, stalking us like a puma-lion..."
Lee took a look around the dark ship hallway and he shrugged, "Whatever you say, Bumi. Man I've got to confess one thing to you though...the Fire Lord's daughter is one hot ticket."
Bumi gave him a weird look, but shook it off just in time for the alarm to ring---a loud, subtle sound that signaled the dinner bell. Bumi stretched and replied, "Time for some grub, Lee...it's Fire Nation Fry-Day!"
"That never gets old, Bumi---" Lee scoffed, rolling his eyes.
"Doesn't it though!?" He smiled, still just as honoree as ever.
In the mess hall, Bumi and Lee grabbed their food and took a seat at their table alongside their other naval buddies. There was Jeong Ji, a Firebender who worked one of the large cannons on the deck, the men aboard the naval ship would call him "Toast" simply because of his Firebending position---that and he's a bit of a pyromaniac. Then there was Roh Tun, an Earthbender who ran one of the disk shooters near the portside of the vessel; he lost a bet with the guys one day and was forced to run across the mess hall in nothing but his underwear---ever since then, his nickname has been "Skivvy". Other than those two, there was Cragen, a look out that mostly stayed up at his post---his being up there, looking in the clouds all day, as well as his enormously ridiculous sized glasses caused his friends to name him "Scopes". Lee and Bumi had been on the crew for nearly eight years now, and they too had earned their honorary seafaring titles: Bumi was known as "Uno" due to his unpredictability and uniqueness in battle... and Lee was simply known as "Ace".
"There they are!" Skivvy clapped, "How was basement duty you two?"
"Dark and damp," Lee replied whilst rolling his eyes, "The most pointless position on the boat, but someone's got to do it, am I right?"
"Yeah right!" Toast scoffed, "I don't know why you don't join up with me on the deck, shoot a few cannons, you know Ace---you're one of the best ground troops we have, you'd do swell at a gun?"
"No, no, no," Lee refused, "I like getting off this tub every now and again to explore the coasts...plus, how could I leave this guy behind, he's hopeless without me!" he jumped on Bumi and started rubbing his knuckles across his head before Bumi shoved him off.
"Oh really?" Bumi chuckled, "Who was it again that got his head stuck in the laundry chute?"
"You told me that they were built clean into the sky!" Lee argued, "I never took the Avatar's kid for a liar!"
"Just having some fun---you're just so easy to mess with!"
"I most certainly am not!" he scoffed back.
"Alright you two, save it for the honeymoon!" Toast laughed.
"Hey, Scopes?" Skivvy asked, "How's the up-top looking? Anything new?""It's colder..." he took a gulp of his drink and pointed, "But there have been rumors that we're getting closer to land..."
"Boy, they don't tell us anything!" Skivvy grumbled, "Not even where we're going."
"They tell Uno almost everything, don't they Bumi?" Toast teased.
"I'm the direct line to the Avatar gentlemen," he chortled, before sighing dramatically... "I try to separate my home and work life, but alas they are forever intertwined!"
They all gave him a gruff punch on the shoulder and took a few more bites of their food before Toast said, "You mooks heard that the Fire Lord was onboard, didn't you?"
"Yeah, yeah..." Bumi scoffed, "He's just doing routine junk, don't get too worked up."
"The last time we ran paths with the Fire Lord, we were stopping wars up in the Northern Water Tribe!" Scopes pointed out.
Lee snickered and crossed his arms, "I'll believe it when I see it! There's no way we're seeing any action anytime soon, am I right fellas?"
Skivvy huffed, and then held his glass out in the center of the table, "To seeing some action then, huh?"
"I'll toast to that!" Toast roared with laughter.
"What the heck?" Scopes shrugged, "I'm up for some action."
Bumi and Lee also added their glasses and the gentlemen pounded them together before chugging the whole beverage down in one swoop.
"Oh man!" Scopes groaned, rubbing his eyes together, "I've been up on Lookout for too long, I'm starting to see angels on deck!"
"What!?" Bumi scoffed.
He pointed, "No, really, look!"
The five men looked back towards the door of the mess hall, only to see the princess herself dawning through the doorway dressed from head to toe in her imperial red and gold attire.
"Honora!?" Bumi gasped.
She heard her name and smiled brightly when she saw him. She rushed over just in time for him to stand from the table and wrap the long since seen princess up in a hug.
"Lucky jerk..." Toast chuckled into his glass.
"Honora, what are you doing onboard the ship?" Bumi asked her.
"Father and I are checking up on the United Army----and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see you again---it's been months!"
"I'm sorry Princess," Bumi teased smoothly, "But, duty calls, you know?"
She chuckled, before adding, "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends cadet?"
"Right!" he snapped, pointing to each man as they gave Honora a raise of their glass... "That's Scopes, Skivvy, Toast, and my main man, Ace."
"What unusual names?" Honora grinned awkwardly.
"Their nicknames my Princess," Lee chuckled, "I'm Lee, that's Cragen, Jeong Ji, and Roh Tun."
"Ah," she sang smugly, "I see... Well, let me guess...Jeong Ji, you work Fire Cannon Three on the starboard side of the ship, and you nicknamed the gun Lucy if I'm not mistaken, after your mother?"
He nearly choked down his drink, before coughing and answering in an astounded tone, "Why---that's right Princess!?"
"Okay, Roh Tun...Roh Tun...You are from Ba Sing Se, you trained at the Beifong Metalbending Academy, but dropped out to join the army where you work the Earth Catapults, am I close?"
"Dead on!?" he gasped.
"Drop out?" Toast snickered.
"Shut up!" Skivvy mumbled, tossing his bread at him, though, Toast merely took a large gob out of it with a defiant little smirk.
"Now Scopes---You were born in the Northern Water Tribe, but your family moved to the Northern Air Temple and you became obsessed with the sky---you always possessed a knack for seeing things before any of your friends and that's why they made you a look out on this boat---one of the finest so I've heard."
"Now you're just scaring me," he laughed, "H-how are you doing this?"
"Well," she hummed, "Let's just say that I picked up a few traits from my crazy old aunt. I'm quite the people person."
"Do Ace next!" Skivvy clapped, "Unveil his secrets to the public!"
She snickered and took a good look into his eyes, digging through his golden stare in search of his history, but Honora gruffed and shot back with a pout, "Th-that's funny...you---I can't tell what you've done? I don't see any accomplishments, any regrets---you're just----well, you're here?"
"Ooo" the men laughed, "That's cold, Ace!"He sulked back in his seat and Honora quickly grabbed his shoulder, "Hey, don't feel bad!" she smiled, "You should be happy that you have your entire life to live...the rest of these chumps have already peaked."
"Oh!" Toast burst, "That's even colder! You're sure you ain't the Princess of the North Pole, are ya?"
"Knock it off guys..." Bumi shooed.
Honora pulled Bumi close and whispered, "Oh, by the way---I probably shouldn't say this, but Father is going to choose a special group to go on a mission with him in the morning---just---just be sure you're ready, Dad's always been known to play favorites..."
"Wow!" Bumi exclaimed... "Incredible!"
"What?" the boys wondered.
"Top-Secret Information gentlemen," Honora winked, "You'll find out..."
They all started laughing and teasing Bumi, as Honora chuckled and left the Mess Hall. Lee was silent and still sulking in humiliation...but nobody seemed to notice.
"You guys are embarrassing..." Bumi sighed, followed by crazed laughter of his own. He got quiet and motioned everyone closer into the table before whispering Honora's news to them, and afterwards they were about to explode with excitement, but Bumi hushed them quickly and his friends shut up tighter than hatch doors. Soon, Bumi and his pals were going to go with Zuko on a secret mission! This was just what the doctor ordered. Action and adventure, here they come!
THE SECRET MISSION
The next morning, a loud bang erupted through Bumi and Lee's quarters. They lived in a tiny room just as all of the other soldiers did...complete with two bunks built into the wall, a small table to write on in one corner, tiny closet at the other corner, minimal walking space, and a lamp dangling from above that swung left and right as the ship sailed alongside the rocking tides. Now, the knock was more of a loud bang as the huge metal door barged open and shook the entire little living quarter, thus waking the two cadets from a peaceful slumber in a most frightening haste. Bumi shot up and cracked his forehead against the top of the bottom bunk, and Lee hit the ceiling from above before falling over the side of his bed and out onto the floor. Groaning, the two looked over to the door and glared at it with equal yawns of pain, shock, and aggravation----before they saw their Commanding Officer standing at the door with a stern looking frown of authority."RISE AND SHINE LADIES!" his thunderous voice amplified across the tiny room.... "YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO REPORT TO THE BRIDGE! NOW GET YOUR DRESSES ON AND PACK YOUR BELONGINGS! REPORT THERE IN 0400 HOURS!"
"YES SIR!" they both saluted clumsily on the hard floor, and their officer turned and then slammed the door behind him.
"0400!?" Bumi stretched, "What time is it now?"
Lee dug through the desk drawer and grabbed his pocket watch groggily as his eyes shot wide open in a blink, "That's three minutes from now!"
Bumi complained, but went over to the closet and tossed two bags out onto the floor as Lee started filling them with clothes and supplies from the desk.
The two soldiers rushed into the Bridge and saw their buddies waiting there as well. Honora was telling the truth, they were really about to be off on a special mission indeed.
"NOW THAT YOU LADIES HAVE MADE YOURSELVES PRESENTABLE---" Their Captain bellowed, "IT GIVES ME THE GREAT HONOR TO PRESENT THE HONORABLE, FIRE LORD ZUKO AND LOVELY, PRINCESS HONORA!"
Zuko rubbed his ringing ears, but gave the Captain a respectful bow before ushering him away. The room got quiet in an instant and Zuko let out a sigh of relief.
"Now, you men must be curious as to why I've asked you to come here," Zuko stated. "My daughter tells me that you must be the best crew this warship has to offer. That is why I need you by my side as we conduct one of the most important and utterly secret mission of them all. Together we will change the fate of the world as we know it."
"What is it?" Bumi wondered.
"As you well know, Bumi," Zuko started, "There are small armies lingering around the Earth Kingdom that are planning an uprising against the Fire Nation and the United Republic. That is what I created the United Forces to prevent and it has been working with superb results. However, near the Tu Zin village, there have been reports of an uprising, and they have technology beyond our comprehension. If word of this power were to be released to the public, the results would be catastrophic. I am counting on you five to aid me in taking down this threat before they have the opportunity to unleash war across the world."
"If you don't mind my asking, sir---" Lee inched timidly, "Why are you dealing with this matter so personally---and why pick us? Why not send the Fire Nation Army?"
"Does my father know about this, Zuko?" Bumi added in equal concern.
"It has come to my attention that my army is corrupted by spies. The only ones I can trust are my friends, and just to be honest, if I told the Avatar to come help me then the paparazzi would follow him anywhere in the world, and expose this secret to the public---" Zuko replied. "I trust you Bumi, and my daughter trusts you---so, if your team is as reliable enough to be with you---then I want them all by my side."
Bumi bowed shortly before the other men followed his movement; he looked back to the Fire Lord, and smiled, "Well, it would be our honor, Fire Lord Zuko."
"Good," he nodded sternly, "Now here's our strategy: we are going to sneak away from the United Forces chain in a small life boat and paddle up to the shores of Gaoling. From there, we dawn disguises if needed, and we travel through the mountains until we reach the abandoned city. The cliffs are said to be protected by the rebels' greatest scouts and warriors. It will be dangerous...can I count on you?"
"Yes sir!" they all saluted.
The Fire Lord smiled, and started walking... "Then let's get going. We'll need to use the morning fog as our cover into port."
The men were silent as the creaking little boat snuck its way from the ship onto the docks of the Gaoling Harbor. As soon as they docked, Zuko shot a gust of fire into the ship and it quickly burned apart and sunk below the black waters.
"No traces?" Skivvy whispered.
"None," the Fire Lord answered.
"The sun will be up in exactly one hour," Scopes informed.
"Just enough time to sneak past Gaoling," Lee added.
"Then let's not waste any more time!" Honora scoffed before she marched forward into the dark city.Sneaking around was a rather simple task. The group made it all the way past Toph's hometown and deep into the mountains just as the sun started to peak. The men and Honora were up to their necks in leaves and vines as they all cut a path through the greenery of the mountains. The humid fog made it a little tough to breathe and of course the morning mud made hiking a living nightmare, but the Fire Lord's small battalion pressed forward to make it to Tu Zin.
"So far so good?" Bumi whispered.
"Want to know a little secret Bumi---" Toast stated.
"Yeah sure?" he shrugged quietly.
"I've learned throughout the years that the one thing a person who is trying to avoid trouble should never say, is---"
"We're under attack!" Zuko called, slashing an arrow in half with his sword.
"Way to jinx us..." Honora gruffed, unleashing her own sleeve of daggers into the trees.
"Where are they, I can't see them?" Skivvy shouted.
"They're in the trees!" Scopes observed.
"They have us surrounded!" Lee pointed out as arrows started soaring into the dirt at their feet.
Daggers shot out of the brush from every angle and Skivvy shot a rocky shield up around their group before kicking sections of it out onto the attackers.
"Incoming!" Honora wailed as the whistle of came soaring down from a bomb above.
"Watch out!" Lee exclaimed, batting the grenade away with a stray tree limb.
The bomb exploded and sent a great portion of the brush crumbling away. Afterwards, Honora and Lee exchanged a look before another arrow blew between them and the small group went back to fighting blindly in the tiny area like sitting turtle-ducks.
"We're getting killed out here!" Toast roared, shooting a massive wad of fire towards the bushes. Scopes sent out a few shots with his crossbow and everyone drew closer.
The Fire Lord blocked the oncoming attack and ordered, "Watch it with the fire! If you keep burning the leaves, the smoke could signal the rest of the army. These are nothing but scouts---"
"We can take them!" Bumi grinned.
"We planned for an ambush! You know your positions...charge in on my command!" Zuko began, "Five!"
"Four!" Honora snarled, redirecting another arrow.
"Three!" Lee continued, hitting another bomb back into the trees.
Scopes caught an arrow in his hand that was coming straight for his face, and he added with an unsure breath, "Two..."
"One..." Skivvy and Toast nodded, the two preparing to make a run for it.
"Now!" Zuko called, whipping up a massive vortex of fire, blinding the enemy, but not scorching a single leaf as it drained away into nothing. Zuko's small fleet had vanished, leaving the rebel scouts searching all around for them in astonishment. They piled out of the trees, looking all around for Zuko's army, but they had utterly vanished within the strange vortex of fire.
"Send word to the general!" one scout ordered, "We must stop these invaders from reaching our master weapon!"
"Yes sir!" the other scout bowed, turning to run off, but just as he did, the small archer found himself tumbling backwards from a tall, dense blockage in the middle of the road.
"You're not going anywhere, string bean!" Toast laughed, fire pouring from his fingertips as he prepared to attack. "Now, you're at my mercy, chumps!"
"You think he'll be okay?" Skivvy huffed, as the team made a run for it.
"He volunteered to stay behind and take care of the scouts..." Scopes panted, "Trust me, Jeong Ji knows what he's doing!"
"He's a good soldier," Zuko added, "Now the rest of you---follow his example and complete your missions!"
"He's right," Scopes nodded, "Skivvy, you and me, up top, let's move!"
Skivvy shot his fists down against the grass and he and Scopes shot into the trees to block any more oncoming attackers.
"Assuming those three can hold back those scouts, the four of us should have a direct shot to the master weapon," Zuko stated.
"What exactly is this master weapon, Zuko?" Bumi started.
"A bomb? A warship? A volcano?" Lee tried to ponder, "What?"
"No, it's worse. The Rebels have figured out a way to construct a-----" Zuko was cut off all to suddenly, when a bomb exploded near his feet and tossed him down into the river."There are landmines hidden in the dirt!" Lee shouted.
"Daddy!" Honora screamed.
"It's okay!" Bumi hollered, grabbing her hand as she tried to rush off after her father. Timidly he inched towards the bank as he promised, "I'll go down and get him! Stay here! Lee, guard Honora at all costs!"
Bumi skid down the mountain to help Zuko, meanwhile Honora and Lee were simply frozen, looking to the leaves for a sign of another mine.
"What are we going to do?" Honora wondered, "These traps aren't like any I've ever had to deal with..."
"I have kind of a stupid idea?" Lee stated in a large gulp of uncertainty, scooping up a handful of rocks before shouting, "Princess, get down!"
Honora covered her ears and bent over into the dirt as Lee tossed the stones and set off mine after mine for as far as he could throw. After that Honora urged for him to stand still, but courageously, Lee took a large step to the earth and sighed with relief that he hadn't yet been blown up.
"Just stay behind me Princess...I'll get you to Tu Zin safely," Lee ordered.
"Be careful soldier," she warned.
He took another leap and nothing happened, so gradually Lee started getting more confident with each deadly step. As soon as the scorch marks would vanish, he would toss another handful of rocks out, but no more mines were set off. It appeared that they were in the clear.
"Something's wrong," Honora gasped, "It's too quiet."
"You're right," Lee agreed, "Those mines could be heard all the way to Gaoling, so why have no rebels come to find us? Unless----"
"Get down!" Honora tackled.
"ARGH!" Zuko groaned, grabbing at his leg. His pants leg was blown clean off, but his leg seemed to make it out with only medium level injuries. Even so, it seems that the Fire Lord's leg was broken upon impact---and for Zuko's plan to work out this was a huge setback!
"Zuko!" Bumi hollered, stepping over to his aid, "You're leg is broken!"
"Tell me something I don't know!" Zuko gritted. "Do you know how to splint?"
"Yes sir," he nodded, grabbing two pieces of wood to tie against the Fire Lord's leg, "This is going to hurt a little---"
"I've felt worse---" he snarled painfully, "Do it!"
In one snap, Bumi had Zuko's leg splinted and he helped him to a stand. "What do you want to do now Zuko?" Bumi asked, "You can't press on in your condition."
"I have to Bumi---there's going to be a----duck!" Zuko chopped Bumi's legs and sent him into the creek as another wave of arrows took his place. Zuko groaned in pain, but inched his way back up the tree as he and Bumi prepared to fight off more rebels.
"So much for plan A?" Bumi snickered.
"What happened to our lookouts?" Zuko growled.
"Watch your back!" Bumi exclaimed, tossing a knife into the bushes.
Zuko punched a blast of fire out behind Bumi and replied, "Same to you kid...now let's---let's take down this rebel scum!" The Fire Lord nearly passed out and Bumi held him upright. It was then he touched the wet gash at Zuko's side and he realized the mine had caused much worse damage than they had previously thought."No sir, you're too badly injured," Bumi grunted, lifting the Fire Lord over his shoulder, "Don't worry Sifu Hotman, I'm getting you to safety." He pulled out Zuko's sword and whacked an arrow away as the army drew closer, allowing Bumi to actually see them for the first time. They were painted up to camouflage within the trees, and they were all apparently master archers, but that was all that the scouting party seemed to be consisted of---only arrows? Thinking fast, Bumi looked around his surrounding and noticed a small rope set up near his foot. Bumi inched closer to it and held tighter to his wounded comrade... "Zuko, do you trust me as much as you say you do?"
He groaned wearily, but replied, "Yes son, I do..."
"Then, I guess you have nothing to worry about. I promise, I'm going to get us into Tu Zin..." and with that, Bumi kicked the fragile snare with his foot and a large net trap quickly swooped the two soldiers sky high.
The rebels rejoiced and cheered as they tossed rocks at their catch, flaunting their success as they prepared to drag their prisoners of war into their camp headquarters---located in the forgotten city of Tu Zin.
Honora gasped and looked up at the trees as two huge logs smashed into one another, almost taking out Lee in the process.
Lee was breathless, but turned back to notice Honora and he stuttered out a feeble, "Thank you..."
"Now we're even, Ace," she sneered, "Let's get out of this forest before we run into any more traps."
"Wait, Honora!" Lee pushed her into the bushes.
She shoved him off and growled, "What do you think you're----"
He slapped his hand over her mouth and pointed to the trail, where a band of rebels came out with Bumi and Zuko shackled up in a net. Honora was about to jump out to rescue them but Lee held her back and shook his head, pointing to them and whispering, "They'll lead us to the village---we need to be patient."
Reluctantly, Honora nodded, and the only two remaining members of Zuko's small army were forced to wait and watch from a safe distance as the Fire Lord and the Avatar's son were captured and drug away to prison. Meanwhile, Zuko was bleeding out and badly injured from the explosion; he would need medical attention as soon as possible, but there weren't many Waterbenders nearby and the nearest hospital was miles and miles away back in Gaoling. Slowly, this simple sneak and destroy mission was becoming all the more dangerous---and what was worse, was that it wasn't even close to noon yet.
"Wh-why did you bring us here?" Zuko coughed to the rebels who were dragging him and Bumi away in the dirt.
"Shh," Bumi ushered, "Zuko, save your strength, you're wounded badly; besides they won't talk to us."
"This better be---" he winced, "P-part of the plan, kid."
"I said I would get you into Tu Zin, and I did," he chuckled, "Just hang in there sir, I won't lose anyone else out here---not today."
The rebels tossed Zuko and Bumi in a small cage, placed in the center of a decrepit old building. The two prisoners groaned, picking stray sticks and rocks out of their bodies from the drag, and Bumi shot up to the bars and snarled, "Alright, what are you wannabe Longshots up to? Talk!"
They sneered at Bumi and pushed him into the floor, before chuckling and heading outside to guard the door.
Zuko groaned and lay weakly in the filthy floor as his body started to shake from the lack of blood. Bumi frowned and looked all around the empty room for some sort of plan, patting Zuko on the back softly while he stated, "Don't worry sir, I'll get us out of this... Somehow?"
"Okay, let's go get my father," Honora whispered, "He looked terrible, I think he's hurt..."
"I know you must be worried, Princess, but your father and Bumi will be fine as long as they are here as collateral prisoners," Lee thought over, "We need to find this mega weapon and destroy it---did your father tell you what it was by any chance?"
"He just said that they've taken progressive warfare by storm---but, he never told me what the rebels were building out here..." she frowned quietly, grasping at her heart as though it had fallen out of her chest. "I can't stand to imagine my father hurt---I have to go to him, he needs my help."
"Princess," Lee halted sternly, "We came here on a mission! Don't you think the Fire Lord and Bumi would want us to finish it---and if I know Bumi, he's already working up a plan to get free of those rebels. Now I can't do this without you, are you with me or not?"
She grimaced, but took his hand and nodded, "Let's hurry...I think I know where they're keeping it---let's just say my father told me he once fell face first in there---it's the only place in this abandoned city big enough to hide some weapon of mass destruction."
The way the princess was moving, slow and steady---it just showed Lee how well she had been trained for situations like this---but the look on her face, it was tormented by the thought of her father, and there was only one way Lee could take her mind off of that because the mission was throwing off her concentration... "Tell me more about this building...do you know where it is?" He asked.
They hoped to the ceiling and snuck across the broken rooftops to the building Honora was thinking about. She told Lee the story in a hushed voice, explaining how Zuko and Azula were chasing after Aang, all over the place, they hunted him down and then her father fell through this two story compound---they believe it used to be used for smelting down coal into diamonds---the roof was exposed so the smoke could run out. That was where she believed the weapon could be held.
"You seem to know a lot about this town," Lee inched, "Are you sure you don't know anything about this weapon?"
"I'm no liar!" she hissed, ducking behind the ceiling as a passing guard strolled by... "Look, I know a lot of random facts alright---and the history of old places like this one. As a child I never---well---I just learned it okay!?"
"I wasn't calling you a liar Princess---" Lee confessed, "I only meant...that you knew a lot about everything and everyone...I just thought you would know something about this threat---maybe why your father was so afraid of it?"
Another set of guards came and they hid, while Honora sighed, "My father believes such weaponry shouldn't exist in the world yet---he says it's some sort of explosive bullet---but, he didn't tell me what it was called because he didn't even know himself. The royal guards are full of spies...and sometimes they lose track of one another---one spy told one of our loyal guards and he told my father. See, no one expects Tu Zin because it had been abandoned since before my father was a kid, it was the perfect place to start construction."
"That's a little unnerving, having spies in your own fleet---in your own house."
"I've come to hope that there are no spies within the United Forces," Honora smiled, "That's why they are so magnificent...those men and women spending years on a ship ready on a moment's notice to spring into action---" she stared over at Lee and wondered, "How long have you been on that ship, Ace?"
"Eight years Princess," he replied, inching over the wall to make sure the coast was clear.
"Same as Bumi," she whispered, "he comes home every time they make port, and he has about a week of free time before he has to go back---even then, being the Avatar's son, Bumi can come over for a visit whenever he wants, but he never comes to see me---he can't---he can only see his family---and they rarely ever get to see him either..." Honora sighed, "What about you, are you allowed to take leave to see your family?"
Lee got quiet and climbed over another ledge to the highest rooftop, pulling Honora along with him before any of the rebels caught sight of them. He looked back at her over his shoulder and continued climbing, "My family died a long time ago..." he sighed, "I've been with the United Forces since I was fifteen years old. They used me as a telegraph operator until I was old enough to train and two years after that, I found myself on board a battleship."
"Oh..." she gasped, "I---I'm so sorry..."
"It's alright," he grinned solemnly, "Like you said, I've just been here for twenty-nine years---but at least I haven't peaked yet?"
"I didn't mean---" she started, but Lee hushed her and pointed inside the building, "Holy smokes! Look at all of those crates..."
She peered inside and saw huge metal tubes packed in crate upon crate all throughout the building...pondering, "What are those things?"
"You're a perspective woman," Lee replied sarcastically, "You tell me?"
"They're called missiles," a voice erupted from behind.
Honora and Lee gasped and jumped into the workshop, alerting all of the rebels that they were there, meanwhile the voice peered inside the factory watching as Honora and Lee dangled from a crate of missiles. There was a man standing at the window, a tall man who Lee was astonished to see still alive...
"You?" he gasped, "That's impossible!"
"You're behind this?" Honora scoffed.
Bumi waited, face pressed against the bars of the cell while the guards outside started yelling to one another, "What's going on up there?"
"Sounds like trouble? Go check it out; I'll stay here with the Fire Lord.""And Bumi?" the imprisoned young soldier scoffed under his breath, "Come on Bumi---think...think..." As he slammed his head against the cage, a Spider-Fly crawled down a tiny web and buzzed around Bumi's face. He looked at it and followed the web all the way to the ceiling where a whole swarm of them started chirping and taking the thick web in his hands, Bumi smiled up at the bugs and shrugged, "That could work?"
Meanwhile, outside the lowly rebel guard yawned and looked down both sides of the street. He gave off a guilty grin before picking his nose and a sudden buzzing noise made him turn towards the old sheriff's station in wonder.
"What in the---"
"WOO-HOO!" Bumi shouted, kicking the door down right in the guard's face as a swarm of Spider-Flies swarmed out of the dusty old building. Bumi took back his and Zuko's swords from the fallen guard, then Bumi swiftly went back inside and picked the Fire Lord up, tossing him over his shoulders as he rushed out of the building.
"I don't even want to know how you managed that..." Zuko grunted weakly.
"Trick is to think like a mad genius," Bumi snorted, "And as my uncle always said, you never leave the house without a snack...good thing I like honey, isn't it?"
"Just----F-find my daughter, and stop those explosive weapons before---before the rebels start a war."
"Can do sir, can do..." he nodded, placing Zuko in the alley behind an old crate. Bumi gave Zuko his dual Dao Swords back and ordered, "Wait here, I'll be back for you."
Zuko nodded...but hissed and grabbed Bumi's wrist, "Take these..." he handed him his swords, "You need them more than---than I do..."
"I won't leave you defenseless..." Bumi argued.
"I'm a Firebender---" Zuko coughed in a laugh, "Now go, hurry...the complex should be the largest building at the end of this desert---slum of a town, can't m-miss it..."
"Yes sir..." he grinned.
"And Bumi---" Zuko halted...
He turned back to the Fire Lord and waited.
"Thanks...for saving me...you make a good soldier, son."
Bumi smiled and shrugged, "Well then I guess you'll just have to promote me when I finish this fight..."
"I'll try---to---remember that," Zuko chuckled, waving him away, "Finish the mission soldier."
"Will do..." he smirked, "You be sure to finish your mission as well---you better be here when I get back."
He saluted and Bumi quickly rushed down the block towards the commotion. As soon as he was gone, Zuko clenched his teeth and grabbed his side, noticing the blood for the first time. He grimaced and laid his head back against the wall, looking up at the hot noon sun, wondering who all would be here to see the evening come---would he be there to see it?
TRUSTThe factory workers stopped constructing the small missiles and immediately scrambled to fetch their bows and crossbows. Meanwhile, Lee had one hand held on a rope above the machine, and the other wrapped around Honora whose safety depended on his other hand to keep her from falling.
"H-How could you!?" Lee snarled, "I trusted you!"
"You dare call yourself a soldier Jeong Ji!" Honora spat.
It was true! Toast came onto the small scaling of the building, clapping softly as he chuckled, "Guess you don't know people as well as you think you do, Princess?"
"Why!?" Lee growled.
"My father was a Yuyan Archer," Toast tittered. "After Fire Lord Zuko stopped the war---there was no need for the Yuyan anymore, and they were forced into retirement to live normal, boring lives! My father trained with the archers since the day he learned to stand...how was he supposed to do anything else with his life?"
"Obviously he got over it," Honora grumbled, trying to keep a hold on Lee's waist, "I mean, he had you didn't he?"
"Oh yeah, and he made me train my fingers to the bone to become an archer like he was---if I missed the bullseye by a particle, he would take and arrow and slit me across the chest---however far away I missed, was how much closer he got it to ending my life! He was father of the year alright!"
"So why avenge him?" Lee accused.
"It's Zuko's fault, and that Avatar---if they wouldn't have fired my father, I would have never had to have suffered like I did---and my mother wouldn't have suffered either! He was no husband to my poor mother either. That is why I sent my last arrow, flaming glory, right at my father---teaching him a lesson for all those years of abuse. I used my skill to train my army in the forgotten way of a Yuyan Archer and I created a plan to destroy the Fire Kingdom and Republic City! So, now the world can suffer just as much as I did! I want to watch their precious cities of equality BURN!"
"Wh-what do the missiles do?" Honora demanded to know.
"Simple really..." he snickered, "Load a couple of these metal babies in a tank, or say---a ship? Grab a few Earthbenders, a Firebender or two...Fire away, and they can blow an entire city block to rubble...I learned a thing or two studying the weaponry on that blasted United Forces Ship over the years."
"So---becoming Bumi's friend---" Lee pieced together, "Joining the United Forces---it was just a cover up? You wanted to get close to the Avatar and the Fire Lord!? Was everything we did together, all of our missions as comrades---was it all just one big lie!?"
"Precisely," Toast grinned deviously, tapping the tip of an arrow with his finger.
"Where are Skivvy and Scopes?" Lee growled, "What have you done with them, and the Fire Lord and Bumi, where are they!?"
"Either bleeding out or locked in prison---maybe both?" he shrugged, "Guess which one you're about to be?"
"Argh!" Honora roared, shooting lightning against the wall, narrowly dodging Jeong Ji by a hair's length. Lee took a breath because her unstable decision to shoot lightning almost struck him away from the only thread keeping them above the factory.
"Quick, Princess, do you trust me?" Lee yelled.
"Yes!" she shouted back.
Lee let go of the rope just as Jeong Ji sent a punch of fire out at the two. They slammed into one of the missile crates and Honora dropped to the ground to find herself surrounded in amateur archers. She tossed out her arm and sent a river of knives towards them, pinning most of their bodies to the wall, just in time to send a kick of fire back at the swarm of arrows coming for her.
Meanwhile, Lee rolled off one of the higher crates only to slam into another as Jeong Ji fired an arrow at his head. The spark on the missile made the entire weapon heat up slightly, making Lee realize that these weapons were extremely flammable.
"What's the matter Ace?" he taunted, "didn't know you weren't the only sharp shooter in the army, did you?"
Another arrow came at Lee, but he rolled out of the way, dodging the oncoming fire again and again as the maniacal laughter of Jeong Ji tormented him from the high ground.
By this time, Bumi pounded through the compound doors and noticed the war within the building, he blocked stray fire as the archers shot at him, but he quickly fought his way through the chaos and gave Honora Zuko's swords, "Here!" he grunted, "You need these more than I do!"
"Where is my father?" she asked, deflecting another arrow. Honora rushed up to a gentleman and sensually blew into her hand as if she were blowing him a kiss---only instead, hot cinders crashed unexpectedly into his face and he rolled around the floor trying to regain his vision.
Bumi disarmed one fighter's weapon and swiftly conked him on the head with it before replying, "He's recovering...don't worry..."
"He's injured that badly?" she growled in a question, slamming another fighter's cranium against her knee.
Bumi nodded and yelled in surprise as a horde of rebels ambushed him from out of the blue.Honora was breathing heavily from the fear of losing her father---the gasping breaths quickly turned into smoke puffing passed her lips and Honora screamed in anger, sending out an intense aftershock of fire right at the rebels. The flames hit the wooden crates and instantly Lee heard the metal missiles beginning to charge up.
"Don't light the weapons!" was all he could shout before an arrow pierced him in the shoulder. "AGH!" He wailed.
"Lee!" Bumi and Honora shouted.
Bumi noticed that it was his friend Jeong Ji who was causing all the problems, but he didn't care to ask him why he was doing such traitorous things, instead, he picked up a stray shrapnel of metal, bent it over his knee, and tossed it at his target just like a boomerang, striking Toast unaware, and gaining his undivided attention.
"Come on Pyro," Bumi taunted, "Come show me what you got!"
"You're gonna pay for that you little brat!" Toast snarled, firing down upon Bumi with full fury.
Honora took in a deep breath and killed all of the fire back into the air as smoke just before the missiles had a chance to go off. Above, Lee yanked the arrow out of his shoulder and tossed it aside in aggravation; he looked to the battlefield to see Honora and Bumi hiding from the crazy, endless fire of the rebel traitor, Jeong Ji, and he quickly gathered a plan.
"Bumi!" he shouted, "Do you trust me?"
"Sure why not?" he snickered seriously, "There's been a lot of trust going around today! What's one more to my best buddy?"
"Then get the Princess out of here, and run as fast as you can, I'll be right behind you! I have a kind of stupid idea!"
"Whatever you say, Ace!" he shouted back, frowning afterwards because he knew that Lee was lying. But, Bumi realized if he didn't leave, Honora would never go, and Bumi promised Zuko that he would protect Honora at all costs...
Jeong Ji hopped down from the ledge and shot fireball after fireball at all three of them, laughing like a maniac before Bumi took Honora's arm and they ran away, Lee following close behind. Honora looked back only to see when she and Bumi were outside, that Lee rose a wall of fire in place of the door and blocked off his own escape.
"BUMI!" Honora tried to halt, but Bumi, with a tear in his eye, grabbed onto her tighter and ran faster down the road to fetch Zuko. They made it to where he left the injured Fire Lord, but Zuko was gone and Bumi only gasped.
"We have to go back!" Honora shouted, tears steaming off of her cheeks, "Please!"
"Zuko!" Bumi shouted, ignoring Honora completely.
She gasped at the puddle of blood mixed into the dirt, but Bumi growled and just seeing him so worried took her mind off of it. He grabbed her and they rushed down the alley, nearly a mile away from the city, and they made it nearly to the forest's edge before a large---
---knocked both her and Bumi face first into the hot sand.
"LEE!" the two shouted. Honora began coughing back dirt as the small town of Tu Zin utterly burned into ashes before her eyes.
Bumi stared at the bright flames in astonishment before grabbing his face in distress, shedding a few tears for his courageous best friend. "Idiot!" He punched the sand, "You idiot!"
Honora utterly broke down and cried as she ran back towards the city, tripping over a stray piece of missile shrapnel before she even made it close to the leveled town. Bumi rushed up to her and shook her hard by the shoulders hollering, "There's no point, Honora!" his voice broke and he looked back to the town of ashes--- "He's---he's gone..."
She whimpered and fell over into Bumi's shoulder, crying for that brave boy she so blatantly misjudged. Now she can never get the chance to apologize to him---she can never pay him back for saving all of their lives---the lives of her people.
"We have to go find Cragen and Roh Tun---Jeong Ji said that they were injured---they're probably still in the forest," Bumi sniffed sternly.
Honora agreed with him and wiped away her tears, still struggling to remain strong as the two rushed swiftly back into the woods. Even hidden beneath a wall of trees, the smoke from Tu Zin clouded the entire sky in a fog of angry black, reminding the last two soldiers of the friend they lost in the explosion. Bumi only wondered what could have happened to Zuko, but for the moment, Honora could not handle another life burdening on her shoulders.
"Scopes!?" Bumi hollered, "Skivvy!?"
"Father!?" Honora shouted, "Anyone!?"
"H-here!" a frail voice coughed.
Honora and Bumi gasped looking over towards a toppled tree at Roh Tun and Cragen...they seemed to be injured, though the visible effects were hidden from Honora and Bumi because of all the mud and scorched marks scarring the skin around their tattered uniforms.
"It's alright soldiers," Honora stated, "We're gonna get you boys back to the ship."
"Wait," Scopes heaved, "W-we have to tell you---ab---about Jeong Ji..."
"We already know..." Bumi growled, "Don't worry...he's been taken care of...now let's get you two to the healers..."
"Lee?" Skivvy frowned in assumption."T-the Fire---Lord?" Scopes added in the same tone.
Honora shed a tear as the two mournfully shook their heads.
Scopes and Skivvy looked to the dirt floor in sorrow, before a sliding metal sound made everybody look back towards Tu Zin.
"No way!?" Skivvy gasped.
Honora lost all of her breath, but she saw a very blown-up Fire Lord Zuko, helping to balance out a scorched and tattered "Ace" as he dragged his Dao Blades weakly behind him.
"Daddy!?" she gasped quietly, rushing over to them as quickly as she could as her voice rang louder, "Father! FATHER!"
Zuko looked up to see his daughter and let out the smallest little grin before dropping Lee and his swords and collapsing into the dirt. The last thing Zuko remembered seeing was his daughter rushing over to them in tears, as Bumi trailed behind her to help. And---as far as old Zuko could tell---he had not quite made it to see the evening sunset.
THE WAY THE SEASONS CHANGE
Lee grumbled and blinked back into reality to see himself in a very large, fancy, green room, lined in gold and supporting Flying Pigs on a few stray posters here and there.
"There's our Ace..." a familiar voice chuckled.
"Sk---Skivvy?" he mumbled, opening his eyes to see a mass horde of people waiting for him to wake up.
"What's---what's going on?" he asked tiredly.
"You're in Gaoling, at the Beifong estate, where you've been undergoing the finest treatment by the greatest healers in the city..." Scopes smiled.
"You nearly blew yourself to kingdom come," Skivvy teased in a hearty laugh.
"I---I remember---" Lee groaned, "How---am I here?"
"Zuko managed to save you and his swords in one final escape act...I expect no less from the great Fire Lord," Scopes informed.
"Final---" Lee gasped, "The Fire Lord---is he---he---?"
"My father is fine," Honora smiled sweetly, patting him on the head to move the stray hairs out of his eyes... "Master Katara came down here in secret and healed him herself before coming to work on you. It was a long process, but he's better, and he's back home now to avoid suspicion from his long absence.""Way to go brainiac! You scared the living spirits out of me dummy," Bumi smiled, "I thought you were a goner?" He tapped Lee lightly with his fist and stated, "If you ever do that to me again, I'll track you into the Spirit World and kill you again!"
Lee chuckled painfully only to hear Katara's voice in the background stating, "Alright, that's enough...the young man needs his rest now..."
Everyone slowly piled out of the room except for Honora and Bumi who waited there a little longer.
"Hey Ace," Bumi grinned, "Guess what!"
With a weak smile, Lee replied, "What, Uno?"
"Due to our bravery, Fire Lord Zuko gave us all medals, and he even made you and I honorary Captains of the United Forces!"
"Captains?" he smiled wider.
"We keep playing our cards right---we could end up as Commanders---no, Generals!"
"Wow..." he coughed in astonishment, "Captain Lee...has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"
Bumi looked down at him with that same smile, before looking to Honora with a slightly disappointed stare, and then he laughed, "Hurry and heal up partner, I'm going to look forward to Captaining our new fleet by your side."
"Will do, Captain Bumi..."
Bumi turned and left the room as he shut the sliding door behind him. Lee looked curiously to Princess Honora as she sat beside his bed and stared at him in the oddest way.
"I thought you died back there..." she frowned seriously, her voice dark now and full of remorse.
"Me too?" he merely chuckled lightly.
She gave him a look and snarled, "It's not a joke! I thought I would never get the chance to apologize to you for what I said---about you being a nobody..."
"Water under---the bridge," he weakly shooed away the statement.
"No..." Honora snapped, "No, I finally can see just who you are now, Lee...you are the bravest, kindest, most courageous Captain I have ever met! You've suffered great losses and even hidden your true power just to remain close to your friends. You sacrifice yourself just to save a Princess and you don't shout at her when she goes to do something stupid. I have never ever met a man like you, and I think that was why I couldn't judge you---I didn't know who the real Lee was capable of being until now."
"Thank you Princess," he smirked towards her, "That means a lot..."
"I've also come to the conclusion that I just can't get you out of my mind..." she blushed.
"Princess?" he winced, rising to his elbow, "What are you saying?"
She chuckled and leaned over to kiss him...and, after a long moment, she pulled away and smiled, "Call me Honora..."
Lee's heavy eyelids were wide opened now and timidly, he reached over and took Honora under the chin, easing into another passionate kiss as Bumi watched from the hallway.
They didn't see him there, but Bumi had been watching. He wasn't angry with his pal, he wasn't furious towards Honora...he was just a little sad. Sad that he had lost the love of his life---yet, equally happy to know he lost her to his best pal, and the bravest Captain he'd ever met. Bumi closed the door the rest of the way and headed down the hallway to give the new couple some privacy, whistling a familiar tune as he walked out into the Beifong's garden...it was Bumi's favorite song---and one he would often hum or whistle whenever something in his life had utterly changed as rapidly the seasons... "Four Seasons".
- Lee and Bumi have been best friends since their adventure in the North Pole, back in Year Thirty-Two.
- Due to the diversity on the United Forces crew, each day of the week offers a different cuisine originating from all of the four nations---Friday is Fire Nation Food Day.
- In the army, as well as the navy, it is common to earn yourself a nickname.
- The name "Skivvy" is a term meaning: men's underwear consisting of an undershirt and shorts. It is often a word used on a Navy Ship.
- Scopes' real name, Cragen, is a Welsh name, meaning "Sea Shell".
- Lee's name, "Ace" is a tribute to his Firebending...he is secretly the best shot in the entire division.
- Lee hides the fact that he can Firebend in order to stay with the ground troops that get to explore the shores. Only his army pals know that he secretly is a very skilled Firebender.
- Bumi's nickname, "Uno" comes from the card game known as UNO because Bumi is titled as a "Wild Card".
- In Lee and Bumi's Sleeping Quarters, there are two plaques that were awarded for their bravery at the North Pole, and there is one other frame with a Symbol of the United Forces that when enlarged looks like this.
- Gaoling is Toph Beifong's hometown.
- Tu Zin was the abandoned "Western-Themed" mining town that was last seen in the ATLA episode: "Bitter Work".
- The Fire Vortex used to help the small team escape the rebels is based on a similar Fire Nation trick used by Jeong Jeong in the ATLA episode "The Deserter".
- Note: Fire Lord Zuko has suffered very painful experiences all throughout his life.
- Number of times Zuko has literally been blown up: 2
- Lee's heroics can be compared to Steve Roger's courageous need to save people, even if he wasn't the biggest, strongest, or most qualified soldier in his fleet.
- Bumi has often been titled a "Wild Soldier"...but tricking the enemy into taking them captive and literally delivering them right to the place they're trying to get is pure "Mad Genius" Strategy!
- Honora loves her father more than anything...it is understandable that she is upset of his capture.
- Honora confessed that she had a knack for knowing pointless facts about the world back in Year Twenty-Six.
- This is the first we've heard of Lee's Backstory in the Fanon.
- Let it be known, Bumi is a mad genius and a brave soldier, just like the king he was named after.
- Jeong Ji has gone insane...nuff said...
- There has been a lot of trust going around this year---I think they took it all out of "Toast".
- The city of Tu Zin is no more.
- Zuko manages to narrowly escape death, yet another miraculous time!
- Number of times Zuko has literally been blown up: 3
- Toph's parents let the wounded soldiers heal at their vast estate in Gaoling.
- Katara was able to escape Republic City without causing conspeculation with Republic City Citizens, like Aang did back in Year Thirty-Two.
- This is the first time Honora reveals her feelings to Lee, becoming rather stricken by him after his sacrifice and bravery on the mission.
- Bumi...the only boyfriend who is still smiling when he realizes his girlfriend just broke his heart...and is happy about it.
- Bumi's favorite song, "Four Seasons", was first performed by Iroh on Zuko's old Battleship during Music Night, and was often played in the background of Sokka and Yue's relationship. The song represents change, which Bumi has greatly adapted to and made one of his most notable personality features.
- This is notably one of the longest Years recorded in the Fanon and the longest Fanon Trivias.
For the collective works of the author, go here.