|Break the Chain
Author: shirozora PM
Lives connected to the Avatar in a circle of water, fire, earth, and air, they will guide him to the destiny he hid from so many years ago. To face his fears, doubts and dreams, he needs to break the chain. DISCONTINUEDRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Katara & Zuko - Chapters: 9 - Words: 57,762 - Reviews: 45 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 04-23-07 - Published: 12-22-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3302601
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: This is not a "quick fix" fanfiction. This is for the serious reader who appreciates good spelling & grammaer, a logical storyline, canon characters, and sensible serious character relationships. Thank you.
This is a hypothetical Book 3: Fire.
Disclaimer: There is only one disclaimer for the entire story. Avatar: The Last Airbender premises, characters, cities, laws, and world are the copyright of Michael Dimartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Nickelodeon. Any possibly unfamiliar names and settings are copyrighted by Shirozora, as well as this hypothetical storyline.
Extra Note: Chapters 2-8 will be reposted en masse. So far, almost done rewriting Chapter 3...
Let us begin…
Break the Chain
«1 – The Calm after the Storm»
Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed, and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can save the world.
He hadn't said a word that would help her cause, but she was sure he knew of their whereabouts. What else could explain why he chose to protect them and in her face?. Her face. Who did he think he was, anyways? Ever since the North Pole debacle he was branded a traitor, but this – defending the Avatar – was too much. He had crossed the line.
He thinks he can save the rest of the world by protecting the Avatar but he's wrong. Dead wrong. Nothing can stand in the way of me, or the Fire Nation! Nothing!
A ball of blue fire burst in the palm of her hand and cast light on the cold earthen walls as she left the prisons, two Dai Li agents close behind her. Once two other agents closed and locked the door, she turned to the nearest man.
"My uncle is a very talkative man, entertained by simple comforts. Give him the silent treatment…and don't let him sleep."
She closed her hand into a fist in his face, snuffing out the hot blue light.
The man bowed swiftly, turned on his heels, and went back to talk to the two agents guarding the bowels of the palace. His words reached her ears as she continued down the hall.
"Yes, Princess Azula."
Ba Sing Se hadn't changed at all. Still the glorious city it had always been, the streets bustled with activity as a new day dawned. But one could hear the murmurs, ripples of words and rumors through the streets, the restlessness that was putting everyone on edge.
'The Avatar. The Avatar was here! Could it be…? But he's gone; someone saw the creature flying over Ba Sing Se. It was headed for the outer walls! And the Earth King, the Earth King was with him! What could this mean? Have you heard? Someone else rules Ba Sing Se now. Not the Dai Li but someone else. They say it's a foreign princess, Princess Azula. Ba Sing Se's never fallen before! Could this be true? Could any of this be true?''
The upper, middle, and lower rings were often oblivious to the goings on of each class, but too many people had seen the air bison fly overhead, the Dai Li were too preoccupied to silence the talking refugees, and rumors were spreading out from the center of the massive city.
The servants must be hearing this from the nobles, and spreading it to others. News is traveling fast, and the Dai Li are occupied. Once everyone knows, will chaos answer?
He couldn't see far into the city from where he was standing at: a window of the great palace in the heart of Ba Sing Se. The palace and its grounds spread for miles, and if he narrowed his good eye, he could see blurry activities in the uppermost ring.
My sister has taken the Earth Kingdom in Father's name. And I…I have restored my honor. That is enough for me. Now I can go home…home…
The word ran through his head several more times before he tired of trying to understand why he had to force an image of the Fire Nation's royal palace in his mind to connect with that word. Home. Azula said his honor was restored. His honor, his home, his country, his throne…then why is Azula the one sitting on the Earth King's throne?
She helped me show the way. No matter how far I've come…how much I've changed…home and honor is what counts. Home and honor.
Why did it hurt so much to think on that last word? He ran a hand through his hair, remembered shaking his head when Azula suggested he shave off most of it and let the rest grow out so he could tie it up in a topknot, to show he was no longer an outcast. He liked his new hair just fine; all he needed to worry about was trimming it back a bit now and then.
Why don't I want my topknot back? Without it I'm not a citizen of the Fire Nation. But now that I am…what's holding me back?
He didn't dare go further with that thought. It wasn't that he didn't know the answer; he was suddenly frightened of what he would be faced with. His conscience.
Uncle will understand. He must. I will not live in Ba Sing Se serving tea forever. That was only temporary, a stepping stone, a way. I know my destiny, and my destiny is with the Fire Nation. Wherever my nation goes, I go.
But he knew, deep inside, that his destiny was still up in the air, undecided.
Appa groaned loudly, signaling to the people on his back his complaint and his desire to land. It had only been one whole day since they left Ba Sing Se but it seemed like an eternity had passed. So much had happened…it really was impossible to sort things out and look at them rationally.
Everyone was riled up, tired, angry, and at a loss. Ba Sing Se had fallen but that was, in actuality, the least of their worries. How it fell and to whom it fell were the facts and events festering in their minds.
"I can't believe this!" Sokka exclaimed loudly the moment his feet touched the ground. Beside him Toph practically landed face-first and refused to budge.
"Oh sweet land, don't leave me again!" she sang, her voice muffled by the dirt as she spread her arms and legs out and rubbed them all over the ground. She didn't seem tired at all. Or angry. Then again, she hadn't seen what had taken place beneath the palace. And then again, she was blind.
"Gross," Sokka blanched as the earthbender got dirtier and dirtier.
He turned to help the Earth King down, then yelped as Bosco slid down after the Earth King and onto him. "Get him off!"
The bear moaned and licked him in the face.
"Now Bosco, let him be. He needs to help his friends," the Earth King said sternly. He pushed the spectacles on his nose as he looked up at Appa. "We all need to help his friends."
Toph responded immediately. With some quick shifts of stances she had a walkway of earth rising up and curving onto Appa's back. Sokka quickly ran up the walkway. He turned to the left, then slowly approached the two remaining people on the giant bison. He knelt down in front of his younger sister, who was still cradling the young Air Nomad in her arms. He had fallen asleep again, hadn't waken up since, and she hadn't let him go since they fled Ba Sing Se's walls.
"Here, let me take him," he said, his voice soft.
Nodding wearily, Katara let Sokka take Aang out of her embrace and watched blearily as her older brother carefully carried the Avatar down the walkway. Toph, who by then had joined them on top of Appa, turned towards her.
"Sugar Queen, you all right?"
Toph was never one for kindness, but now everybody needed it. Katara nodded, then slowly lay down on her side and nestled into Appa's back. "I…I'm fine. I'm going to stay right here. You go ahead…I'll be fine."
Toph nodded, her unseeing gaze not quite on the mark, and turned to let the earth take her back down. Appa groaned once the walkway was off of him and eased down until his stomach was on the ground. Sokka looked up, wondering why his sister wasn't coming down, but Toph placed a hand on his forearm and said, "Let her be. I'll look after Aang. Go get some wood."
"And I'll…uh…I don't really know anything about this place…I mean, I've never…I've never been outside Ba Sing Se's outer wall before, so…" the Earth King said uncertainly, looking around the darkened forest. Somewhere something snapped and he backed nervously into his pet bear. Bosco only rumbled something as he wandered off to the edge of the clearing Appa had landed in. He stood up on his hind legs and clawed at a tree.
"You should just say here," Toph said as she gently touched Aang's bald head. "You're the Earth King; the Dai Li will be looking for you, and we're your best protection."
"…yeah, and Bosco."
A lonely silence settled. Sokka returned with an armful of dead branches, and set about making a fire. He asked the Earth King to find some stones to make a ring, and although the Earth King had never been ordered about before in his life but he followed it willingly, scouring the grounds for any and all rocks. Sokka didn't bother snapping at him when the man returned carrying rocks of all shapes and sizes; he only picked out what he needed and made a ring. Then with some flint from his pocket, Sokka made a small fire and everyone huddled close to it.
Firelight flickered on their solemn faces, then Toph sighed.
"Well, now what, Snoozles?"
"Snoozles? Who's Snoozles?" the Earth King immediately asked afterwards.
"That would be me," Sokka said lamely, raising his hand. "I don't know, Toph. I don't know what we're going to do now. Aang has to wake up…and, if you haven't noticed, not only did we lose Ba Sing Se – and the Earth Kingdom – but we got the Earth King with us – of all people, the Princess and Prince of the Fire Nation on our tails, and no firebending teacher for him."
He jabbed a finger at Aang, who was still sleeping, his head in Toph's lap.
"So I don't know. Maybe we should hide out in one of the villages, wait for Aang to get better. I don't know!" Suddenly Sokka was on his feet, his hands balled into fists, his blue eyes fixed on the fire. "I hate firebenders! I hate them! Look what they did to us! We had everything going for us, then that-that Princess ruined it! She's ruined everything!"
Toph stared in the direction of his voice, leaning back slightly at the outburst. "Sokka, calm down. Take a deep breath. Keep it up and the Dai Li will find us in no time."
"Oh I hope not," the Earth King muttered worriedly. "I'd like to not worry about the Dai Li for just one hour."
"Yeah, me too," Sokka agreed, sitting down heavily on the ground. He was depressed. "I suppose we should sleep. I'll take the first watch. You guys go ahead-"
"Snoozles, you need sleep as much as we do. Don't worry about keeping watch. Remember, nothing can sneak up on me, unless it's flying, and only Aang can do that."
Momo landed on Toph's head and chattered.
Sokka sighed, then lay down on his side and curled up, his left hand resting on his boomerang. "Fine, Toph. And thanks."
Bosco moaned as he lay down on his stomach near the fire. The Earth King settled against his pet bear's side and with a deep sigh, closed his eyes and nodded off. His spectacles immediately started sliding off his nose.
"You're welcome, Sokka. Night, Momo. Night, Your Majesty."
The lemur yawned, then balled up on Toph's head. She sat there, Aang's head still in her lap. Slowly she touched his shoulder, then the back where Katara said Azula hit him with her lightning. She could feel the unnatural heat through the her fingertips, where the inflammation was in place of the blast wound.
"You have to get better, Twinkle Toes. For all of us," she whispered as her head tipped forward and her eyes slowly closed.
Katara slept lightly, her mind constantly harassed by the events that unfolded in Ba Sing Se. At times her hands curled into fists, yanking at Appa's fur and he groaned in his sleep, protesting the pain. But she didn't notice, not at the time.
Finally she opened her eyes and was aware of the cool breeze. It was deep in the night, and a crescent moon was in the sky. She turned her head and stared at its white glow.
Yue…I wonder what you're thinking, what you're seeing now. We're failing, Yue. We're losing this war. You're lucky you're not down here…suffering…like we are…
With that thought she curled up into a fetal position, pressing down into Appa's fur. She sighed and closed her eyes, willing herself back to sleep.
It wouldn't come. She couldn't escape into the dark forgetfulness. And she knew that if she tried, her dreams, nightmares of Ba Sing Se, would plague her.
She lost so much in that great Earth Kingdom city. She thought she lost it all, back home at the South Pole years ago…but it hurt just as much here. Her mind and her heart pained.
What happened to him now? Smellerbee and Longshot told her he'll be fine, but when they brought the Earth King to Lake Laogai, the Dai Li headquarters were gone. Where those two able to get Jet out of there in time? And if so, where were they? She hadn't heard from any of them since that terrible battle underneath the lake.
I hope you're okay, Jet. Despite all the things you've done, I know you've changed. I hope you're still alive…fighting the Fire Nation like we are. Maybe we'll meet again…
She had never felt fear like what struck her deep down underneath the palace of Ba Sing Se, underneath the entire city itself. Lightning could kill but when Azula struck Aang while in the Avatar State…she realized for the first time how vulnerable Aang really was. She couldn't understand why he couldn't defend himself instantly. Was it because he summoned this State, instead of going into it like he used to? She remembered all those moments when his anger transformed him and he struck wildly, crazily, instantly. In the caves, he made a little earth tent, blocking off everyone, then emerged in the Avatar State, calm, serene, but unable to react to Azula.
Aang should've known what Azula was going to do. Why didn't he strike first? What was holding him back?
Whatever it was, it cost everyone dearly. The terror as she held his lifeless body, the shock as Iroh, Dragon of the West, rushed to her aid, and the fact that this old man had given himself up for her, for Aang. Azula was ruthless, and everyone knew it.
Katara hoped Azula didn't kill Iroh immediately. There was a faint hope, a faint sliver of it, that maybe they could rescue Iroh, as payment for what he did for her and Aang.
She was only lucky she still had all of the spirit water Master Pakku gave her, and had not used it on-
Her teeth clenched and her fist pulled at a clump of Appa's fur. He complained and she let go, slightly. Her whole body was tense and she could hear her heart thudding in her ears. The very thought of him made her blood boil.
How dare he do this to her, to Aang, to Iroh! What kind of a fool would turn on the only man who had stood by him for all those years? What kind of a man would toy with her trusting nature, backstab her when she least expects it? Why wouldn't he just give up chasing Aang? For the longest time she believed he had given up, but no, he interrupted the battle with Azula to join his sister, and fight her and Aang. And – to add salt to the injury – he used her moves against her. He imitated her water whips using fire, kept her from overwhelming him.
How dare he!
"I thought you had changed!"
"I have changed."
Liar. He was a liar, just like his sister. They were both liars. Peas in a pod. Brother and sister. Why did she ever think he could change his ways?
Arrogant coldhearted jerk! The next time we meet, I won't ever think about holding back! I bet you were lying about your mother to get me to trust you! Well I don't believe you and I will never believe you!
Appa groaned again and this time shifted on his feet. Katara sat up quickly, then stared at the clump of white fur in her hand.
"I'm sorry, Appa," she whispered, opening her hand and letting the clump float away in the wind. She stroked the air bison's back, then buried her face in the fur. "I'm so sorry…"
What happened to her? Princess Azula and her two freaky friends had snuck into the palace with the Kyoshi warrior dress. Did they…they did not. They couldn't have. Suki and her girls were better than that.
But the things Princess Azula and her friends can do…
Hot tears streamed down her face as she curled up into a tight ball, bringing her knees up to her chest. How impossible everything was! And what about Chief Hakoda, their father? Sokka didn't say much, only said that he and the other Southern Water Tribe warriors were off to do battle with the Fire Nation. Did they win? Did anyone survive?
Or did the Fire Nation…
Softly, Katara began to cry.
Author's Endnote: Reviews of all sorts are appreciated.
Where do they go now?