Summary: Older Aang-centric Dark AU. What if the tyrant Chin the Great hadn't fallen off that cliff? What if his armies invaded the whole of the Earth Kingdom and turned its people against the Avatar? In this AU, the Earth Kingdom holds in thrall the other three nations as its vassal states.

Chapter One: Avatars Kyoshi, Roku and Aang

"Avatar Kyoshi, please don't ask me to do this." Tears began to fill the warrior's eyes when Kyoshi placed a sheathed sword in her trembling hands.

The warrior, young enough to be Kyoshi's daughter, stilled and held back her tears with determination as Kyoshi calmly reminded her that her hands have to be steady when she administered the killing blow.

"I would prefer it highly that you do it right the very first time," said Kyoshi with her voice sounding rather dry.

After several long and tense moments, the warrior swallowed hard before nodding once. "I will not fail you, Avatar Kyoshi."

Her tone this time gentle, Kyoshi told her chosen executioner that she didn't expect her to fail.

---

Roku could barely recall how it felt to have the sun shine down upon him. The flickering light of a firebended flame simply was a very poor substitute.

As always he had only the four stone walls of his cell to look upon. How long they had kept him locked up could probably be counted in years though oftentimes it felt as though it had only been yesterday when they had thrown him still as a child into this cell. He had long since lost track of time and because he never needed to eat or drink, he didn't even have mealtimes to count.

His captors had informed him that the Avatar, which was he, needed neither food nor water to sustain himself. Sleep was all that was required. Yet Roku was always hungry, always thirsty and always yearning to see the sun.

---

Aang, I want you to promise me something.

What is it, Monk Gyatso?

Look at these drawings.

... Toys?

Correct. I want you to remember how they look like.

... Why?

So that you'll recognize them, and when you do see toys like these - do not ever touch them, hold them or play with them. They are very dangerous.

---

Monk Gyatso?

Yes, Aang?

Why was Luri taken away?

... What do you mean, Aang?

Luri, one of my friends - he was taken away.

... When did this happen?

... Just a short while ago- ... Monk Gyatso, where are we going?

Shh, keep quiet. I'll tell you later, but for now - just follow me.

---

We're never going back, aren't we?

Hmm...?

We've been on this island for four years.

What? Already tiring of my company, Aang?

Don't smile. This is not funny. ... Maybe they've stopped looking for me.

They'll never stop looking for you, Aang.

... I didn't do anything to them.

I know, Aang, but they will lock you up if they ever find you as they did your predecessor, Avatar Roku.

... Am I gonna be stuck on this island with just you for the rest of my life?

---

Gyatso, hold on! I'll take you to a healer!

... Aang-

Don't talk! Appa, fly faster!

... Aang, no. Turn back. There's a storm.

I have to get you to the Southern Water Tribe! I don't care if they lock me up; I'm not going to let you die!

... Aang, I'm sorry.

Gyatso, no! Don't leave me!

---

End Chapter One