Chapter 3: Unexpected Allies
Quick responses to reviews:
Flip the pancakes: I know, but I still feel bad because I am absolutely no fan of paranoia. Especially when it costs me sleep, which I need to have to be able to think properly. Not to mention that it gives people an irrational fear, but I suppose you could get that from a horror movie, too.
Javier: Well, I'm glad that you've liked it so far. Since I don't hate it yet and you guys seem to be enjoying it, I'll continue it for now.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Aang had to admit, the last thing he had expected to happen to him today was to have a gun to his head. Eaten by zombies, sure, but to have someone who was clearly still alive holding him at gunpoint, now that he had not seen coming.
He had assumed that any survivors would want to work together so they had a better chance of survival, but then again he supposed he should have known. In these desperate times, people would likely think only of themselves and hoard whatever they could find so that they had the best chance of surviving. Just another thing he hated about the situation he found himself in. Because of the stupid apocalypse, people would stop being kind to each other and fend for themselves, meaning that unless you had friends you could trust by your side, anybody else was liable to be killed by their fellow humans.
Fortunately for him, he did have friends he could trust, but they probably didn't know that he was being held at gunpoint right now, so he would need to figure out a way to get this person to let him go, whoever they were.
"Um, excuse me, whoever you are. I know that-"
"Quiet!" a young man's voice growled in his ear, making him shut his mouth as the gun was pressed harder into his head. "What are you and your friends doing here?"
Aang's eyes widened in disbelief. He would have thought that it would be obvious why they were there, but he decided to play it safe so he wouldn't get hurt. "We came here to get better weapons so we can get out of the city. The stuff we're using now isn't going to last us very long," he told him honestly as he showed him the badly beat up baseball bat.
"Why do you need weapons at all?" he questioned, making eyes once again shine in disbelief. Did this guy not know about the zombie apocalypse that was happening all around them? "Are you planning to rob a bank or something?"
"No, no. I would never do that," Aang assured him before taking a deep breath to calm himself. "Look, it's a long story, but you know that there are zombies out there, right?"
At this, he could feel the pressure of the gun against his head slacken as whoever was holding him hostage shook with fear. "What?" they finally choked out, their voice slightly shrill from surprise.
"You really didn't know, did you?" Aang asked in genuine curiosity, wondering how this guy hadn't known that their city had been overrun by the undead.
After a few moments of silence, the man finally decided to take the gun away from his head and allowed him to turn around to face him. His previous captor wasn't quite what he was expecting him to look like. He had bronze skin, dark brown hair that was pulled up into a ponytail and he wore a pair of blue camo pants and a white shirt underneath a blue camo hoodie.
"No, I didn't," he admitted as he kept the gun pointing at Aang, but Aang didn't think he was going to hurt him. He just wanted to make sure that Aang wasn't going to do anything to hurt him. "What do you mean, there are zombies out there? Where did they come from?" he all but demanded.
"I'll be honest with you, I have no idea," Aang admitted while keeping his hands in the air, showing that he wasn't going to do anything. "All I know is that I was at school when it started. My teacher was one and came into the classroom and bit one of my classmates. Me and my friends figured out a way to get out and then we made our way here so we'd be more prepared to fight." He let his baseball bat drop to the floor, making Sokka's eyes widen at this gesture. "I don't want to fight you, sir. I don't even want to fight the zombies out there, but we don't really have a choice. All we want to do is get some decent weapons to help us survive until we can figure out a way to get out of here."
Sokka looked between the baseball bat on the ground and at the young man in front of him for a few moments, not sure whether he should trust him or not when a loud noise came from one of the vents above them.
"Oh no. The zombies must have found their way up here," Aang thought aloud fearfully, reaching down to grab his baseball bat to be ready for a fight, but not turning around lest this guy shoot him for doing so.
Then Sokka remembered something. "Wait a minute, where's-"
Before he could get the chance to finish, one of the vent openings was kicked open as it came crashing down to the ground, interrupting him from finishing his thought. Then, after a moment of silence, a blur of blue came crashing down as well, making Sokka gasp.
"Katara! What were you doing?!" he asked angrily while waving his hands through the air.
Brushing off some of the dust from the vent off of her clothes, she let out an annoyed sigh and rolled her eyes while facing away from the two. "We've been in here for hours, Sokka. I wanted to see what was going on. Wasn't it bothering you that we kept hearing people moaning?"
"Yeah, but dad told us to stay in here!" he objected instantly, knowing that his sister could be something of a loose cannon when she wanted to be. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to be calm as he continued. "Just please, don't go out there again without telling me."
Although Katara wasn't very happy about this, she knew it was coming from a place of love, even though she knew she could protect herself just fine. "Okay," she finally gave in with a sigh. "But I'm going back out there again in a little bit. I hate being stuck insi-" she stopped when she noticed that they had company who was clearly being held at gunpoint. "Sokka!"
"Put the gun down!" she ordered, rolling her eyes at how ridiculous her brother could be at times. She knew that he wasn't actually scared of this person, he just wanted an excuse to point a gun at someone.
"Hey, I'm just doing what dad said to do!" he shot back. "Dad said that if anybody came inside, to have our guns ready!"
Katara couldn't help but roll her eyes again at her brother, but then again she supposed that he didn't know about what was outside. "Sokka, I think he meant it for-"
"Zombies," Sokka finished for her, earning a look of both irritation and surprise on her face from how he knew what she was going to say. When he saw the look on her face change to confusion, he pointed to Aang with his gun. "This guy told me."
Putting a hand on her forehead and rolling her eyes, she walked over to her brother and forced him to put his gun down. "If he was going to attack, he would have by now. Keep the gun down," she hissed at him, giving him a look so scary that he immediately did as he was told. Unable to hold back a satisfied smirk, she turned around to look at the new guy with an apologetic smile . "I'm so sorry that my-" Her breath caught in her throat as she got a good look at his face, instantly noticing how good-looking he was.
Aang couldn't help but feel his breath catch in his throat, too. She was absolutely beautiful. Her bronze skin was just like who he could only assume was her brother's, and she had long, dark chocolate locks that fell in waves down her shoulders, but the best part? Her ocean blue eyes. Staring into them felt like he was being drowned in a tidal wave, and oddly enough, he felt that he would be okay with that as long as it was her. She too was wearing blue camouflage gear, but for obvious reasons, she made it look good.
The young girl before him took in every detail about him that she could as well. He wore a white t-shirt underneath a gray hoodie with blue jeans and a pair of dark orange sneakers. His hair was short, jet black and his eyes a piercing gray. Almost as if looking into his eyes were like staring into the depths of a thunderstorm.
After a few moments of the two staring awkwardly at each other, Sokka looked between the two in suspicion, not liking how neither of them seemed to know what to say. Eventually, his small amount of patience went away and he decided to speak up. "Um, Earth to Katara? Anybody in there?" he asked as he gently knocked on her head, finally snapping her out of her stupor and making her glare at her brother in turn.
Now a bit embarrassed and very much annoyed at her brother, she smiled sheepishly and turned again to look at Aang before clearing her throat. "Um, as I was saying, I'm sorry that my brother was being so stupid," she finally finished, making her brother object.
At this, Katara couldn't keep a smirk off her face before she smiled back at Aang. "You'll have to excuse him. He's not exactly the smartest guy around," she murmured to him, but Sokka still heard her and rolled his eyes as he put the gun back in his holster. "I'm Katara," she told him with a smile.
"I'm Aang," he reached his hand out to her, making her smile wider as she shook it, ignoring the tingling feeling she felt as his skin touched hers. After a few moments of the two staring into each other's eyes again, Aang realized that he likely was doing it for too long and cleared his throat. "Well, if you guys don't mind me asking, what are you doing in here?"
Katara looked at her brother to see if he wanted to explain, but he was too busy admiring his pistol to pay attention at the moment. Letting out a sigh accompanied by a roll of her eyes, she turned back to him. "This place is our dad's store. Once a year, our dad takes me and my brother Sokka to a cabin in the woods to hunt and enjoy nature. But something weird happened," she admitted as she recalled what had happened earlier that day.
"What happened?" Aang asked curiously.
After being lost in her thoughts for a few moments, she snapped out of it and shook her head to clear her mind. "Our dad picked us up from school once he got out of work and we were heading towards the cabin when he got a call on his phone. I didn't hear what they were talking about or who he was talking to, but whatever they were saying made him get scared. Next thing we knew, he was turning around and took us here."
After she took a break to catch her breath, Sokka decided to step in. "Before he left, he put up a barrier on the door and told us it was because he didn't want anyone getting in. He didn't tell us who he didn't want getting in, though, no matter how much we asked. But he was really panicky and grabbed a few guns and knives to bring with him. I thought that the police might be after him for something," Sokka admitted.
Katara glared at her brother. "What could the police possibly be after dad for?" she asked in disbelief that her brother would even think such a thing about their father. Her father was one of the most honorable men she knew, and she had no doubt in her mind that he hadn't done anything for the police to chase after him.
"I don't know," he shrugged simply. "Wouldn't that be more believable than zombies, though?"
As much as she didn't want to admit it, he had a point. Deciding to just ignore his comment, she continued on with the story. "Anyway, so our dad told us to stay inside and keep guns with us in case anything happened. He said that he would be back within a few hours, but he hasn't made it back yet." Her eyes widened as a thought struck her. "He couldn't be…"
"Dead?" Sokka gulped as he thought about the possibility of his father being eaten by zombies. "I really hope not. He didn't even tell us where he was going. He just said that he had some business to take care of."
Aang was silent for a moment as he took all this information in. Though it didn't help that he was partially distracted by how beautiful Katara was. He had never seen a girl like her before, and he couldn't help but wonder if they went to their school.
"What school do you- er, did you guys go to?" Aang wondered, trying to think of the other schools that were in the area.
"We went to Omashu High," Katara decided to tell him. He seemed like a trustworthy guy. Besides, what exactly could he do with the name of their school in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, anyway?
"Well, no wonder I haven't met you guys before," he said aloud. I definitely would remember a girl like her if she went to my school, he added in his thoughts, knowing saying that out loud would probably not be in his best interest. "Me and my friends went to the private school that's not too far from here."
Katara's eyes widened in understanding. "Oh. That makes sense. I didn't see any cars in the area when I was looking around, so I wondered how you got here." Then she remembered something. "Wait, did you say that you have friends with, too?"
"Yeah. We came here because we needed to get better weapons to fight off the zombies, but we didn't think that anyone would be in here," he admitted with an apologetic smile. "Sorry that we kind of broke in here."
She couldn't help the smile that found its way onto her face. He seemed to be a nice guy, even going as far as to apologize on his friends behalf for what she considered to be a necessary plan for their survival. Having seen the mobs of dead zombies out on the streets, she understood completely why they had come here to get better weapons.
"It's okay," she finally replied, making Sokka's jaw drop in disbelief that she was just shrugging this off. "I get it. You guys just wanted to survive. We can't blame you for that. Can we, Sokka?" she asked with a pointed look at her brother who still had his jaw on the ground.
After a few moments of being perfectly still, Sokka finally regained his composure and let out a long, annoyed sigh at how selfless his sister could be at times. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. I was just doing what dad told me to," he felt the need to mention again, even though he knew Katara didn't buy it for a second. Though he couldn't get over the nagging suspicion that part of the reason why Katara was being so cool about this was because she liked this new guy.
Rolling her eyes at her brother for what felt like the thousandth time, she turned back to Aang with a smile. "Well, if you guys need weapons, I'm sure we can help you out."
"Hold on a minute!" Sokka objected immediately, not liking this at all. "Customers pay for weapons that dad sells. That's how things work here."
"Sokka, we're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse," she shot right back at him. "What good is money going to do us now?" Although he knew that she had a point, he still didn't like the thought of just giving away weapons.
Seeing the hesitation on Sokka's face, Aang got an idea as he pulled out his wallet and started sifting through it until he found how much he was looking for and offered it to him. "Here. It's not enough to cover all we're going to need, but it's something." Looking at him suspiciously, Sokka swiped the wad of cash and counted it out, his eyes widening as he counted. "You have two thousand dollars in your pocket?" Sokka asked in disbelief.
Aang shrugged with a sheepish smile as he rubbed his neck. "I was supposed to put a down payment on a car today, but that's not going to happen now. You might as well have it." Looking between the money and the guy who had given it to him, Sokka let out a long sigh and rolled his eyes.
"Whatever. At least we got something," he finally gave in before putting the money in his pocket and walking out to the main part of the store.
Katara couldn't believe that Sokka had really made him do that, but she supposed she should have known. He had always tried to be like their father, but she was certain that her father wouldn't care about money at a time like this.
Shaking her head at her brother, she decided that it would be best to pretend like it had never happened and turned to smile apologetically at Aang "I'm sorry that you had to do that. My brother can be pretty-"
"Stupid sometimes?" Aang broke in with a laugh, making her laugh in turn and nod her head. "It's alright. I get where he's coming from. Besides, it's like you said. What good is money going to do me now?" Katara smiled at this, making him smile back at her as they stared into each other's eyes.
Unfortunately for them, the sound of something shattering interrupted their moment, making them both snap out of their daze and blush a little. "Um, we should probably go check that out," Katara murmured while glancing away in embarrassment.
"Yeah, probably," he agreed as he too glanced away before the two composed themselves and forced themselves to get moving. Walking back out to the main part of the store, they were surprised to see Sokka frozen in place and Toph with her new toy against the counter with pink shards surrounding it.
"Hey!" Sokka finally complained as he snapped out of his surprise. "You broke my lucky piggy bank!"
Toph snorted and rolled her eyes. "Well, maybe next time don't sneak up on me like that. I thought that you were one of those flesh munchers. Your precious piggy got caught in the crossfire. Maybe next time you should put the things that you love somewhere they won't be so easily smashed," she remarked dryly while putting her weapon in her back pocket.
Sokka glared at her for another few moments, but Katara decided this had gone on long enough."She's got a point, Sokka. Why did you bring Mr. Oinkers here, anyway?"
Zuko and Aang simultaneously couldn't hold back a laugh that they tried to cover by holding their hands over their mouths. Toph, however, didn't bother holding in her laughter while Mai cracked a smile that was gone as quickly as it had begun. "Mr. Oinkers?!" she managed to get out through her gales of laughter, making Sokka glare at her again but this time with an embarrassed blush.
At this, the rest of the people around him couldn't hold it in anymore and joined Toph in her laughter, making Sokka growl as his embarrassment only rose at the fact that everyone found this so hilarious. Shaking his head at the situation he found himself in, he decided that he would let them get it all out, knowing that trying to stop them would only make things worse for him.
After what felt like forever to him, the laughter around him finally settled down into giggles until they stopped, but he had to admit, it was nice seeing his sister smile again. Genuinely smile. Ever since their mother had died, she had smiled a lot less. But as he had noticed when she first laid eyes on this Aang kid, there seemed to be a new light in her eyes. It was nice to see her happier than she had been.
"Yeah, yeah, it's so funny," he rolled his eyes once they had fully settled down. Shaking his head, he decided that he would try to move past what had just happened. "Anyway. Thanks to your friend here," he gestured to Aang. "You guys can pick out what you need and then you need to get out of here."
"Sokka!" Katara exclaimed in disbelief.
"What? We're not running a motel," he argued defensively. "Once they've gotten what they need, they'll have what it takes to fight off the zombies. That's about all we can do for them." He squirmed a little as he received one of the scariest death glares he had ever gotten from his sister before she turned to the other people in the store.
"Ignore my brother. He doesn't seem to understand human decency," she shot at him with another glare before turning back to look at Aang. "You guys can stay here as long as you need to."
Sokka did not like the sound of this, and decided that they needed to have a talk. "Katara, can I talk to you? In private?" he asked through clenched teeth. Seeing that she wasn't going to be able to get out of this, the rather annoyed sister let out a long sigh before nodding and following him to the backroom where she had met Aang. As soon as they got there, Sokka whipped around on her. "Are you crazy?!"
"Yes, Sokka. I'm totally crazy for allowing people to stay in a safe place in the middle of a zombie apocalypse," she replied with heavy sarcasm in her voice, making him blink in surprise. They were both sarcastic with each other, as it was just what siblings did, but he had never seen her be that sarcastic with him before. "When will you get your head out of your butt and see that this isn't a game? Lives are at stake."
Though her words rang true, he knew enough to know that there was more than one reason for her wanting to let them stay. "Oh come on, Katara. I know that you like the new guy."
A small blush appeared on her face as she looked away in an attempt to hide it. "I don't know what you're talking about," she muttered defensively as she crossed her arms in defiance.
"Don't pretend like I didn't see the way you were looking at him!" Sokka almost shouted, but quieted himself when he remembered that they had company in the other room. "I saw everything. Don't let this new guy make you do something that you'll regret."
Katara rolled her eyes and let out a growl of frustration. "Look, Sokka. It doesn't matter if I like Aang or not. What does matter is that we have a safe place to stay at that we can share with those who need it. How would you feel if they owned this place and we wanted somewhere safe to be?" Sokka didn't respond, knowing that she was right. "That's what I thought. Now, come on. We should see what they're up to."
Leading the way back to the front of the store, Sokka gasped as he saw that Mr. Oinkers had been put back together, not one scratch on him. "Mr. Oinkers!" he cried in glee as he ran over to it and wrapped it in a hug, not even caring how stupid he looked in front of the others.
The rest of the group barely managed to hold in their laughter before Aang decided to speak up. "Toph here has something she wants to say to you. Toph?" Toph grimaced as he gave her a look, which then made her sigh in defeat.
"I'm sorry that I destroyed your pig, or whatever," she grumbled out, refusing to look up from her feet.
"How did you even fix it?" Katara wondered in amazement as she looked at it closely, seeing that there was no sign of damage whatsoever.
Toph held out her rod and showed them the buttons on it. "This thing. It's got some cool features on it, like this one." She pointed to a button that read "Restore" above it.
"Whoa. Where did you get that?" Sokka asked in equal amazement as he looked closely at Toph's new toy, seeing how futuristic it looked.
"This old thing?" Toph couldn't hold back the grin that found its way onto her face. "Twinkle Toes found it in a supply closet at the school."
Neither of the siblings could quite believe that they would find something like that in a school's supply closet when another thought came to mind. "Who is Twinkle Toes?" Katara asked in confusion, making Aang smile sheepishly and rub his neck before awkwardly raising his hand in the air.
"That would be me," he admitted in clear embarrassment, shooting Toph a glare for the nickname she had chosen for him.
Sokka laughed with no restraint, but Katara, due to her newfound feelings for the boy in front of her, held herself to a giggle before forcing herself to stop and slapping her brother on the shoulder to get him to stop. "I'm sorry," she finally smiled apologetically at Aang. "It's just-"
"It's fine, Katara," Aang interrupted her with a smile. "After being called that since third grade, I've gotten used to it. It's totally fine." She smiled at him as he smiled at her, both looking into each others' eyes and finding that they didn't want to look away.
Everyone else in the room watched the two in their little moment in equal measures of amusement and confusion, but Sokka was just annoyed. Deciding that they had been staring long enough, he waved a hand in front of his sister. "Helloooo? Katara?"
Snapping out of her trance, she shot a quick death glare at Sokka before smiling sheepishly and pretending like nothing had ever happened. "Right." She then turned to look at Toph. "Why do you call him Twinkle Toes?"
Toph grinned maliciously. "Because, back when we were little, Twinkle Toes used to sneak up on me to scare me when I wasn't looking. He was so quiet when he snuck up on me that I decided to call him Twinkle Toes," she explained.
"Oh," Katara said in understanding, seeing that at least there was some logic behind the name.
Aang, however, took this as an opportunity to introduce the rest of his friends. "Well, since you guys know my name and nickname that Toph gave me, allow me to introduce you to my other friends." He moved over to Toph and gestured to her. "This is Toph. She doesn't have a nickname from us since she's the nickname maker of the group, but she has her own self-given name."
"And what would that be?" Sokka asked curiously.
Toph grinned again and crossed her arms over her chest. "You can call me 'The Blind Bandit'," she said in a fake announcer's voice for extra effect.
Katara looked confused. "But you're not blind… are you?"
"No, she's not," Aang assured her with a smile. "She calls herself that because when we were little, she challenged us to fight her while she had a blindfold on and she won."
"Damn right I did," Toph said proudly with a wide smile on her face. "Every match, too."
Aang shook his head at his friend and then moved on to Zuko. "And this is Zuko, my best friend since second grade. He's not always the happiest guy in the world, and that's the reason why Toph gave him the nickname 'Sourpuss'." At this, neither Sokka nor Katara held back at this, laughing to their hearts' content as Zuko smiled sheepishly and dug his hands in his pocket while looking down.
"And this," he gestured to Mai who waved at them uncaringly. "Is Zuko's girlfriend, Mai. Also known as 'Knife Girl'."
"Why does Toph call you 'Knife Girl'?" Katara asked in confusion and a slight hint of fear, wondering if she was a psychotic murderer or something.
Mai answered her by reaching into the sleeves of her red and black hoodie and showing her the shurikens that she always kept on her, making both the siblings eyes widen in surprise as they saw the sharp edge of the throwing stars gleam in the light. "Oh," Sokka gulped loudly. "That's why." Mai smirked in satisfaction at their obvious fear and put her weapons back up her sleeve.
Seeing that all the newcomers had been introduced, Katara decided that it was time to introduce her brother and herself. "Well, my name is Katara and this is my brother Sokka."
"Hmmm," Toph hummed as she walked around the two, making the siblings look at her in bewilderment before Katara looked up to Aang.
"What is she doing?" she whispered, though she wasn't sure why.
"She's trying to think of a nickname for you guys," he whispered back to her with a playful smile, making her chest feel incredibly warm all of a sudden as she felt her heartbeat pick up from seeing him smile at her like that.
Toph circled around the two for another minute or so before she stopped at Katara and tapped a finger on her chin. "I think I'll call you… Sugar Queen," she finished with a wolfish grin, making Katara's jaw drop in disbelief and Sokka snicker. "And I'll call you... " she trailed off for a moment before she noticed something that had been around his neck the whole time that she somehow hadn't seen before. "Snoozles!"
Both the siblings looked at her in utter confusion, not understanding where she had come up with such a nickname for them when she decided to explain. "I'm gonna call you Sugar Queen because you're as sweet as sugar," Toph explained while pinching Katara's cheek, making her recoil instantly before the infamous nickname giver turned to her brother. "And you're Snoozles because of your neck pillow thingie. Only people who like to sleep a lot wear those things when they're not on an airplane, so that means you must like to. Am I wrong?" she challenged with a knowing smirk.
"Nope," Katara smirked as well, happy to have any chance to embarrass her brother. She was rewarded as an embarrassed blush found its way on his face as he smiled sheepishly.
"That's what I thought," Toph smirked even wider before leaning back on the glass counter behind her and allowing Aang to resume his talking.
"Well," Aang started with a laugh. "Now that we're all acquainted and Toph's picked out some nicknames, is it okay if we check out some of the weapons?"
Katara smiled and nodded. "Of course. Take whatever you need."
"Well, not whatever you need," Sokka broke in, making her once again glare at her brother. "What? We need something to defend ourselves with, too," he argued. She supposed he had a point, but she certainly wasn't going to tell him that.
"Don't worry. We don't want to take too much from you guys," Aang assured them. "We just want enough to get by until we figure out a way to get out of town."
Katara's eyes widened at this, not expecting him to say that they were going to try to get out. Though she supposed she should have figured, as she would certainly like to get out of this zombie-infested city as well. But still, despite the fact that they had just met, she already didn't like the thought of being apart from Aang, no matter how little sense it made.
"Well, can we come with you guys?" she asked without thinking, not realizing that her brother would likely freak out about this until it was too late.
And she had to say, she wasn't disappointed.
"What?" her brother shrieked in surprise. "Katara, dad told us to wait for him here. We can't just go out there!"
"Dad also said that he would be back by now," she argued back immediately. "Maybe we can find him and we can all get out of here." Then a question came to mind as she turned to the others. "What about you guys? Do you think your parents are still alive?"
Zuko and Mai looked at each other and shrugged, feeling that they didn't have much to lose by telling them. "Our parents have been friends since we started dating and are currently on a vacation in the Bahamas," Zuko decided to speak up for the two of them.
Katara nodded and then looked to Toph. "And you?"
"My parents are in the Bahamas, too," she told her in surprise, making all of them look at each other weirdly before they all focused on Aang. "What about you, Twinkle Toes?"
Aang, who couldn't believe what he was hearing, took a moment to respond before he finally replied, "My Guardian got won a free vacation in-"
"The Bahamas?" Sokka finished for him, watching him nod in affirmation as the group pondered over this shocking revelation.
"So… All of our parents won trips to the Bahamas?" Mai asked, her voice for once not being entirely emotionless as a hint of surprise showed through it.
"Well, not our dad," Katara decided that she should make clear, even though she didn't think it mattered all that much considering that he had disappeared.
"But all of our parents, yeah," Aang finished for her, making each of them try to accept that truth. What in the world was going on?
Before anyone could talk about it further, Toph decided that it wasn't going to do them any good speculating on what was happening. "Look, for all we know it could be just a coincidence. What, like someone knew that this was all going to happen and got our parents away?" she asked doubtfully, but the more she thought about it and looked at the futuristic weapon in her hand, she couldn't help but wonder if someone was watching them. Shaking off these thoughts, she decided to answer Katara's question. "If you guys want to, you can come with us. But didn't your father tell you to stay here until he got back?"
"Like I told my brother, he should have been back hours ago. Maybe if we go with you guys, we can find him," Katara repeated, deciding to leave out the part that she also wanted to get to know Aang more. "Besides, we can't stay here forever. The only food and water we have are in our backpacks. We'll need to leave eventually."
Sokka still didn't look very happy about this, as their father had been clear about what he wanted them to do, but he knew she had a point. They couldn't wait around forever for him to get back. Especially if he was… No. He wouldn't allow himself to think that until he was sure.
"Okay," Sokka finally sighed in defeat. "If you guys will have us, we want to come with you."
Aang grinned and clapped him on the back, making him yelp a little as he rubbed the spot gingerly. "Of course! You guys are more than welcome to come with us. The more people we have working together, the better chance we have of making it out of this alive." He too didn't mention the fact that he wanted to get to know Katara more, lest he scare her off before he had a chance with her. Though he supposed he was being stupid at the moment, as he figured that getting a girlfriend shouldn't be on his mind at a time like this.
"Well, we should probably pick out some weapons for when we get out of here," Aang decided to continue while moving around and looking at the merchandise on the walls. The four newcomers looked around the display cases and each picked out their own weapons. Each person got two personal pistols with two holders to keep them, but other than that, the weapons they chose were completely different. And considering that stealth was their best option of getting out alive, they all decided to put silencers on their guns.
Zuko started by choosing an ak-47 that he strapped to his back and picked a long knife that would do well for slicing at zombies without getting too close. Mai had chosen a Famas, finding that she liked the design and how she could aim it with one hand and throw her shurikens with another. And as a bonus, this was the store she would go to to purchase more shurikens, and stuffed a bag full of ammo and her favorite lethal weapons. And, as a safety for any who got too close, she also picked out a special stiletto that seemed to suit her well.
Toph, who already had her futuristic weapon for close range, decided to choose a stg 44, feeling that it was as dangerous as she was. But, due to her love of all things that go boom, she too took a bag and instead stuffed it full of grenades and flash grenades in case they needed a quieter way to sneak past zombies.
Aang, however, wasn't as sure about what he wanted for a primary close quarters weapon. He had easily picked out an FN Scar L, his favorite weapon when he had played zombies on his playstation, but he wanted to have something that he would feel comfortable with when it came to protecting himself against zombies who wanted to scoop his brains out.
Looking around at the melee weapons while Katara and Sokka both agreed on M16s for their primary guns, Aang didn't see anything that he liked until something different caught his eye. It looked to be a futuristic mini-sword, glowing with an unearthly light.
"Whoa," he murmured to himself as he reached inside the case and took it out, admiring it in the light. "What is this?"
Katara, who had heard his amazement, turned around from the guns she was looking at and her eyes widened at seeing what he had selected. "That… has never been here before. Ever."
Aang looked at her in surprise before looking back at the half sword in his hand and took a closer look at it, seeing a set of initials engraved into the hilt: ASEI. "ASEI?" he thought aloud. "What is that?"
"I have no idea," Katara murmured as she looked closer at it. "But I do know that it wasn't there before. I've been here a thousand times and I've never seen it."
Still in surprise from what she had told him, Aang ran his thumb over the hilt until he felt a button press, changing it into a longsword, taking everyone in the room by surprise as it grew up to Sokka's neck.
"Whoa, easy there, buddy," Sokka laughed nervously and used a finger to point the sword away from him.
"Hey, that looks like my thingie!" Toph said excitedly as she walked over to her friend to compare their weapons. Aang, wondering if what he thought was true, took a closer look at Toph's toy and confirmed his theory by reading an inscription in the middle of it that read: "Property of ASEI".
"Both of our weapons were made by whoever this 'ASEI' person is," Aang said aloud as he showed the rest of the group what he had found. "But I don't get it. We found yours at the school, and now we find this one here."
Then, just when they thought it couldn't get any weirder, Zuko called to them. "Guys, come over here!" Sharing a puzzled look, the four all made their way over to Zuko who showed them a glowing red sword that he had found in the corner. "I'm guessing that you haven't seen this here, either?" he asked Sokka who shook his head in response.
"What about this?" Mai asked as she pulled out a large shuriken that was as black as night, but sharper than any other one she had before and seemed to hum with some kind of energy. Again, the siblings shook their heads at this, wondering what in the world was going on.
Aang checked both of these for the same letters he found on the others and was not so surprised to find that they too had the same letters on them.
The four each decided to see what these special weapons could do. Aang, who could see that his sword could transform from a dagger to a full length sword, also noticed that his sword hummed with an unknown power. Looking for another button, he was surprised to see a button with a swirl of air on it. Curious, Aang pressed the button and became surprised as a strong gust of wind shot from it, blowing Sokka into the wall behind him.
"Ow," Sokka groaned while Katara tried her best not to laugh.
Aang smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, Sokka."
Next up was Zuko, who had spent the last minute or so just staring at the glowing sword. It almost looked like it was made of lava. Without knowing what he was doing, he felt around for a button and accidentally pressed one that immediately duplicated the sword, making him hold one in each hand. Then, just as he didn't think it could get any cooler, he found another button that lit the edge of the blade on fire. He, however, did not realize that he was holding down on the button and unintentionally shot a flame at Sokka, who's hoodie promptly caught on fire.
"Does anyone smell smoke?" Sokka asked as he sniffed around him. It took him a few moments, but eventually he figured out that the smell was coming from him and he hastily put it out, sighing in relief once he was sure that he was safe.
With that disaster averted, it was finally Mai's turn. Taking the larger than normal throwing star, she looked for a button and pressed it upon finding it, making it scan her hand instantly. "DNA match confirmed. Prototype B37 activated." Everyone looked at each other in confusion, but Mai simply pressed the button again and threw it at the wall. Once it was thoroughly embedded in it, she decided to try her luck as she reached her hand out to it, watching in amazement as it returned safely into her hand. At this, she actually smiled. It seemed that this would work just fine for her. But, it wasn't done yet. Wanting to get some practice in, she accidentally pressed another button and threw it again, this time making it split into a dozen other smaller shurikens, making Sokka gasp and duck as some of them hit the wall where his head would have been.
"Will you people stop trying to kill me?!" he asked in clear annoyance, making the others poorly attempt to hide their laughs behind their hands at his bad luck. Shaking his head at them, a thought struck him as he looked at their new weapons. "Hey! Why don't we get cool weapons?"
"Sokka!" Katara chided him, but was interrupted as Aang noticed something out of the corner of his eye. In one of the corners of the room were two objects that he hadn't noticed before. One looked like a full sized sword and the other looked like a gauntlet of sorts.
"Hey, I was standing over there a second ago, and there wasn't anything there!" Toph exclaimed in disbelief, making the others look at each other in surprise and bewilderment.
"Maybe you just didn't notice them," Aang suggested hopefully, not wanting to make things weirder than they already were.
But to his dismay, Toph shook her head. "I was leaning against the corner, Twinkle Toes. I would have felt… whatever that is against my back."
"Okay, this is just getting weirder," Sokka said in disbelief, but he had to admit, his curiosity was getting the better of him. Walking over to the corner, he picked up the two objects and handed the gauntlet to his sister who took a closer look at it as he unsheathed the sword, gasping as he saw it. "Whoa."
The sword was as dark as a midnight sky, and as sharp as obsidian. Looking for a button as the others had, he eventually found it and watched in amazement as it changed shape with every press. It had started as a sword, then went to a spear, then a club, then a musket, then an axe, and finally into a crossbow. But there was something different about the material that this weapon was made of. It was almost like it was from outer space.
And last but not least, Katara looked at her gauntlet for any indication what it might do. She noticed three buttons on it, each a variation of the different forms of water. She pressed the first one and watched as a small cloud of steam shot out of it, blinding everyone in the room.
Once it cleared up, she tried the next one which had the symbol of regular water on it. Pressing the button, she watched as a large stream of water shot out of it, hitting an unsuspecting Sokka right in the chest as he was once again pushed back against the wall.
Sputtering out some water, he glared at his sister. "Katara!"
The group barely held back a laugh at what had just happened as she smiled apologetically. "Sorry, Sokka." Liking this new gauntlet already, she pressed the final button and made sure to aim it away from her brother this time, choosing instead to aim it at Mr. Oinkers. A beam of pure white shot forward at the porcelain pig, freezing it in a block of ice.
Sokka looked like he was about to be angry again, so before she could hear him wine again, she decided to try her luck and aimed it at the pig again while pressing the button, watching as the ice cube got sucked back into the gauntlet.
"Wow," she said in amazement. "This thing is amazing. But who are these 'ASEI' people?" she asked in confusion as she looked at the letters embolden on her gauntlet in gold.
"I have no idea," Aang admitted as he continued to admire his own sword. "But maybe we'll find out later. Right now, we should try to get some sleep. We'll need to head out at night."
At this, Sokka put a hand up in objection. "Um, why are we leaving at night? Won't it be harder for us to see the zombies who want to eat us?"
"Yeah, it will," Aang admitted. "But it'll also be harder for them to see us, too. We already have the advantage with sight, because they can't see far away. The only way that they can tell we're there is when we make noise, so as long as we're quiet, we should be fine." Sokka still didn't look very happy about this, but he understood his reasoning and decided not to argue. "Okay. I know that there's still a lot we don't know, but at least we have what we need to survive. Let's just all get some sleep and we can figure out what to do next once we've gotten some rest. Sound like a plan?" The group all murmured their agreement and started figuring out where they would each sleep, using whatever space they could to keep some distance between them.
As Aang picked his own spot behind the counter, he was surprised as he felt someone tap on his shoulder. Turning around, he was even more surprised to see Katara standing there. "Hey Katara. What's up?" he asked as he tried his best not to show how her proximity to him made him somewhat nervous.
"I just wanted to say thanks for letting me and my brother come with you guys," she told him with a smile. "I don't know how long we would last here on our own."
Aang smiled back at her. "Hey, the more the merrier. Besides, you guys are letting us stay here. It's the least we could do." He paused and smiled a little. "I'm glad that you asked to join us."
Katara smiled even wider at this before deciding to reply, "I'm glad I asked to." Taking a deep breath, she gave him one last smile and started walking over by her brother before looking over her shoulder and smiling mischievously. "Night, Twinkle Toes," she whispered to him with a wink before laying down and using her hands as a pillow.
The young man couldn't keep a smile off his face at this, and although he knew that a lot of danger lay ahead of him, couldn't help but feel a sense of hope that maybe just maybe everything would turn out alright. "Night, Sugar Queen," he murmured to himself as he laid down and fell asleep, falling into sweet dreams of her.