Sokka grumbled and muttered about greedy shopkeepers trying to rip him off as he walked off with his bag of supplies. He, Aang, and Katara had stopped to restock themselves for their journey to the North Pole, first working various odd jobs for their money, then splitting up to pick up different things. Katara handled the food, since she was always a little suspicious of the street vendors' wares, and Aang stayed behind to keep Momo and Appa out of trouble. That left Sokka with the hardware: new cooking utensils, flint and steel to start fires, another water skin, sewing equipment (at this, he scowled—the shopkeeper there had given him a funny look when he bought it), and other things such as warmer clothes they needed just to survive the trip north. He and Katara were built for the cold, but Aang and Momo weren't. It was important that they kept warm.
Stupid shopkeepers—taking advantage of a guy in this much need, Sokka thought bitterly. He'd worked hard for this money! It wasn't fair that every vendor he came across jacked up prices just because he was a teenager traveling to distant lands. It's robbery!
His internal complaining was about to continue when he came across the absolute last thing he wanted to see: a Fire Nation soldier, in full uniform, buying supplies at the booth in front of him.
Okay, need to get away from here, he realized. He carefully and quietly slipped away from the alley before breaking into a run toward Aang. They needed to get back to the air fast!
Unfortunately, as he was running, another Fire Nation soldier was coming out of a side street. They collided, and Sokka's supplies went flying everywhere.
"Watch it, you little punk!" the soldier shouted.
"Sorry!" Sokka apologized, trying desperately to hold back panic. This was the absolute last thing he needed right now!
"What's all this?" the soldier asked, picking up the lightweight underclothes Sokka had bought Aang.
"A gift," he answered quickly. "For my brother. It's getting cold, and he's outgrowing all his winter things."
"I have a hard time believing that all of this stuff you have are gifts for your brother," the soldier challenged.
Sokka gathered all the courage and politeness he had and replied, "Well, some of this stuff is for my dad and me. We're going on a trip soon, and he wanted me to pick these things up before they get too expensive."
"Where are you headed?" the soldier questioned, and Sokka started to think he'd offered the wrong excuse. Curse his bad acting skills! Katara was always better than him at it, managing to get out of trouble with their parents when they were little. He needed to think fast.
"Um, west," he stammered. "It's kind of a family tradition, when we reach a certain age, and I just had my birthday."
"All right," the soldier answered, apparently believing him. Inwardly, Sokka breathed a massive sigh of relief as he and the soldier started gathering his things and putting them back in the bag. "Say, you look kind of familiar…"
Sokka felt sweat dripping down the back of his neck. "I just have one of those faces," he answered lamely.
"No, I swear I've seen you before," he replied. "And your clothes—they're from the Water Tribe."
Sokka decided to skip letting the soldier figure out his identity and just grabbed his bag and ran. Behind him, the soldier was yelling for reinforcements, and troops split up to try and cut him off.
This is not good! he thought in panic. Slinging the bag over his back, he pulled out his boomerang. He would have to fight his way out.
Three soldiers came at him from the side. Sokka threw his boomerang at the first, hitting him square in the forehead. As he fell, the second tried to catch him. Sokka flew forward with a kick that brought him down before grabbing his boomerang again and smashing at the third's knees. Another group caught up by the time he was finished, but a vicious throw of his boomerang struck them all in the chest, allowing him the chance to escape. One soldier jumped out at him as he ran, but he grabbed his arm and flipped him over. It was much the same the whole time—one or more soldiers leapt out at him, he threw his boomerang or smashed into them, knocking them out cold. At least, it had been that way until the last one.
It was the Fire Nation soldier he'd originally run from—the one he'd seen at the vendor's stand. And he was a Firebender. He just had to be a Firebender!
And no doubt about it, Sokka realized, this guy's going to be better than Zuko.
He put his boomerang back in its holder and adjusted the bag on his back. He didn't want either to burn as the Firebender unleashed a stream of flames at him. He ducked and rolled out of the way, barely avoiding singeing his clothes. Another stream came at him, and he ran to the other side, coming closer to the Bender. But the Bender brought up a ring of flames around him, preventing Sokka from getting too close. He staggered a little as he took a step back, trying to avoid the fire.
Got to make this quick, he thought. Aang and Katara would be expecting him soon, and the worst thing that could happen was letting the Avatar get involved in this. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out the water skin and splashed it at the Bender. He wasn't a Waterbender, but even he could douse some flames with a little water. Before the Firebender could recover, Sokka tackled him, making him fall backwards and whack his head on the ground. Sokka then took his boomerang and added another blow to the head for good measure, leaving a decent-sized dent in the helmet.
Thankfully, he didn't run into anyone else before he made it back to Appa, breathing heavily. He doubled over for a second, trying to catch his breath and offering the bag to Aang.
"Hey, great, Sokka!" he cried. "You got the stuff!"
Lucky none of it broke during the fight, Sokka thought as he nodded.
"What took you?" Katara asked. "And why are you so out of breath?"
"We need to get out of here," he replied.
"Huh? Why?" Aang questioned. "There isn't any trouble, is there?"
"Just trust me," he answered. "We need to go now. We can get anything else we need in another town."
Katara raised an eyebrow but replied, "Okay," and helped him climb onto Appa's back. Aang called, "Yip, yip!" and soon they were safe in the air. Sokka sighed in relief and leaned back. He hardly knew that in ten minutes, Admiral Zhao would find twenty-two of his finest men lying unconscious in the streets, beaten by an ordinary Water Tribe boy. It would inspire the Earth Kingdom people in the town to revolt against them and kick them out, and the failure would set him back in his plans to capture the Avatar. Prince Zuko and General Iroh would stop in that town four days later to pick up supplies, only to be turned away by the villagers. The Earth Kingdom would be one step closer to defeating the Fire Nation, all thanks to the help of someone they imagined to be a powerful warrior of the Water Tribe. And none of them would ever know better.
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: the Last Airbender. This fic was inspired by someone's rant about not seeing enough Sokka fics, and how he doesn't get enough glory in canon. I got the mental image of him beating up on Fire Nation soldiers, and thus this fic was born. Comments and constructive criticism appreciated.