O'hana means family and family means no one gets left behind...
The full moon shone brightly over the freashly fallen snow and the ice glinted like dimonds in the pure white light. A rather small village was nestled on a fairly large ice burg and it's inhabitants nestled cozily inside their homes as they settled down for the night. The large community fire in the center of town was dwindling to embers, smoke curling off the burning blubber, oil and occassional spare driftwood piece that was burning inside of it. Smaller individual fires were bending tended to inside walls made of hard packed ice as the families made their last perperations to lay down and sleep, brushing out their parent's hair or tucking their young children into bed. The only activity happening outside was the occassional guard walking along the outer wall to the next watch tower, blowing white puffs of breath into his hands to keep warm and looking out across the harsh desert of desolate burgs for any suspicious activity.
"Not much going on tonight," said one Tribesman as he entered the watchtower and sat down beside the man he was working his shift with. A blanket was thrown over his sholders and he leaned close to the other man as they poured him a cup of steamy liquid.
"Almost makes you think it's pointless, doesn't it?" his friend replied. "It's been over a hundred years and the Fire Nation still hasn't come for us. I wonder if they ever will." He handed the cup over and went back to huddling in their blanket.
"Could've started at the North, Bato," said the first man. "If they took out the bigger city first I doubt they'd be worried about the small fish like us. Waterbenders only make up a small percentage of our population, not like in the North where they dominate the culture ya know."
"I know Kota," Bato replied. "But they were still standing when Kana left, right?" He looked out the small window from the tower, a puzzled expression gracing his face. "Odd," he muttered and Kota looked up from his drink.
"What?" he asked and Bato just shurgged and waved it off.
"A cloud," Bato answered.
"It's been clear all night. Are you sure it's a cloud?"
"Well, if clouds aren't omnunise moving black things that envelope the moon, then I don't know what that thing is."
Kota too looked out the window and frowned at the sight. "That can't be right; we weren't expecting bad weather. Go aleart the other towers, this might be something more."
Just then a semi distant drum beat was heard from the other side of the wall. Kota and Bato both looked at each other before scrabbling to their feet and heading outside for a better look at the far side of the village. Faint but forbodding shapes were beginning to cut their way though the darkness; large black vertaical rounded edge dimonds, like from the eyes of a feline creature were drawing closer. Turning around, they both saw smaller and less defined versions of the same thing approching from their side. By now the other towers had rasised their alarms as well and people were coming outside to see what the matter was. "FIRE NATION SHIPS" the call rang out and instanly everyone became much more fearful; though general mayhem insued, those with the ablitly to defend the village quickly readied themselves for battle while others battened down the hatches and tucked away the small children and elderly who couldn't go to war. Black snow began to fall as the moon was shallowed behind a dirty cloud of ash and soot.
"Mommy?" asked a scared child's voice as she rubbed her eyes from sleep. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, sweetie," her mother replied as she turned her back to her bed. "Sokka, what are you doing! Get away from there, go back to bed with your sister now!"
"But Mooom," the 13-year-old replied. "Dad is out there somewhere! I'm gonna go find him!"
"You are not!" his mother scolded as she took ahold of him by the back of his collar. "You'll stay here, where it's safe, is that understood?"
"But Dad could need me!" Sokka countered. "What if he gets hurt?"
"He's not the only one out there Sokka, he will be--"
A blast from behind forced her forward and she tripped over her son, they both fell to the floor as shards of ice and water droplets rained down on her back. "Oh Spirits, Sokka!" she cried as she pulled herself up. "Sokka, Sokka are you okay?"
"Yeah," the boy said, unnerved and shaken as she started to check him over for any cuts or scrapes. "Yeah Mom, I'm fine...Mom, who are they?"
She looked over her shoulder at the three figures standing where a thick heavy wall of solid ice had once been. Strangers clad all in blood red unlike the usual cool hues of blue her people wore. Their faces were hidden by maskes that would remind one of the face of a skull, only much more satanic looking with the embellishment of red flames around the top not unlike the horns of the devil. One held a tourch that blazed almost unnaturally, as though it was lite with hell fire. Behind them the scenes of destuction playied out as other red clad demons rode around on giant monters not seen in the icy tundra, burning down whatever they could melt with their hands.
"Give us your Waterbenders if you want to live," said the leader in a steely voice.
"Go back to bed," Sokka's mother said as she whipped her head back to her son. "Go back to bed with your sister and Grandmother and don't you dare come out until your father comes for you, do you understand me?"
"I Said Do You Understand Me!"
Sokka nodded, tears welling up in his eyes from frieght. She tried to give him a reassuring smile as she brushed a few stray starnds of hair from his face. She hugged him and kissed his forehead then pulled him to his feet and roughly shoved him toward the back room where the faces of his younger sister and grandmother could be seen now. He ran to Katara and pulled her close in a hug as Gran Gran stepped out into the open. "Lunede?" She said as her daughter wiped a few tears from her eyes and set on a determined face.
"This family has but one Waterbender," the young mother said watching her two children disappear into the tent that was a bedroom. She turned to face the strangers who had invaded her home. "I am it."
"Lunede!" Kana cried and reatched for her, but the fire Soldiers were quicker and pulled her from the house a lot faster. "LUNEDE!"
"Sokka," Katara's voice whispered against her brother's face as he pulled tighter the sleeping roll they shared for the night. "What's happening?" He proped himself up on his elbow and took a hold of her hand. Around them, the horrid sounds of battle rang out and all they were allowed to do was curl up into a tight ball and hope that no one found them.
It was a losing battle. They knew that from the start. There were simply to many Firebenders for them to rightfully defend themselves against. The small pack of nonbenders that had managed to scrape together, Bato and Kota among them, were apprehended, disarmed and thrown into a metal cage carted around by one of the many spare rhinos that carried the demons of fire. Anyone who defied the invaders were taken and soon all the men of the village, experianced older warriors to the younger green fighters, were rounded up leaveing only a few stray Waterbending females loose with their younger children. As the homes were broken into, Kota clutched at the bars that held him captive and looked about frantically, Bato by his side.
"Do you see him?" he whispered, dreading the answer he might recive though he couldn't decide if it would be worse for Bato to answer yes or no.
"Sokka isn't out there Kota," Bato replied. "Kana and Lunede wouldn't let him out, he's too young." His face darkened as he spotted a group of their tribe being herded like penguins when their people hunted one for the kill. "What are they doing?" Bato asked as he realized they were all Waterbenders.
"Oh Spirits," Kota sobbed noticing what Bato looking at and catching his train of thought. "Is Katara down there? Have they taken Katara?"
Bato scanned the group; although he saw many young children among them he shook his head at Kota when he couldn't find his best friend's little daughter. They watched anxiuosly as one of the many indistingushable Firebending soldiers did a quick head count, then started dividing the group into two smaller groups, women and small childeren on one side and men on the other. Then Bato saw something that made his blood freeze. "Kota," he whispered so lightly his friend didn't hear. For a moment he wreasled with the thought of not telling his friend, but it was something he knew Kota needed to know. With a shaking hand he tugged on Kota's parka and pointed out what he didn't want the other Tribesman to see.
"Lunede?" Kota whispered as he saw his wife. She was mixed around with the women and children Waterbenders, trying to comfort the younger toddlers whom had been seperated from their parents. Her hands, like most of the other Waterbenders around her, were tied as were her legs shackled. He couldn't understand why they had taken her for a moment, then it clicked: she had lied to them to protect Katara.
The men were disperesed first, followed shortly there after by the women and then any stray child whom couldn't be tied to his mother. Each individual member was led to a different stake scattered across the village and with enough rope was bound tightly to it. Extra fire wood brought by the invaders themselves was piled at their feet and at the comand of the leading officer they were all set a blaze. Lunede looked up the the dark over clouded sky, praying to her beloved moon that her sacrifice would not be in vain as her enemies flame engulfed her whole.
In the darkness that was the bedroom Sokka shared with his grandmother and sister, he held fast to Katara and stroked her back as she started sobbing from fear at the noises coming from the outside world. A scream of bloody murder made them cringe and pull cloer to the other; that cry was from their mother and they could make out many more in the battle unfolding around them. "Madi ao," Sokka whispered against the soft flesh of his sisther's neck. "Leka sebete chia ho oele sabatha." He began to rock her back and forth. "Mo leka geme o tsaba hoa, lebo heleng ha o bue ka le ha, lebo heleng ha o bue ka le ha..." A tribal chant to mourn the death of those who have been unjustly murdered.
"Sokka?" Katara said as she walked up to her older brother, snow crunching under her foot steps. It had been nearly a week since the raid of their village. What was left of their tirbe had picked up and moved to a new and smaller glacier the next morning. The adults spent most of the days away, buring the dead and performing the scared funeral rituals of their tribe. At the time, Katara and Sokka where the youngest of the oldest children and were choosen to stay behind and tend to the infants and toddlers. A crude play pit had been established out of a ring of packed snow, but without a master waterbender to stableize it the younger children found it too easy to escape by simply throwing themselves against it.
Sokka looked up from his pitiful little attempt at building a fire for dinner. "What Katara?" he said rather irratably as he knew she had come to see how he was doing with that. He threw the two sticks he's been rubbing together into the pit, making the tipi of kindling fall over.
"Nothing," she said, deciding that bothering him with her real complaint wasn't wroth stressing him out. She reatched out and patted his back. "Do you know if there's any blubbered seal jerky left? I know the little'uns really can't eat it, but maybe just giving them something to suck on will tie them over until dad and the others get back..."
"I think we're going to war," Sokka interupted.
"What? What makes you say that?"
"I overheard Dad and the other warriors talking about it the other night. They were talking about what happened and how they were gonna leave the village for a while, saying how this injustice can't go unpunished and stuff like that." He looked at her, cool, deep, blue eyes angered with a subtle wrath that could quickly turn to a tumultuouos physical violence if given the chance and right conditions, not unlike the ocean that surrounded him and his sibling. "I want to go with them."
"Sokka," Katara said in a gentle voice and she scooted closer to him, trying to wrap her arms around him. She wanted to express so much to him, comfort him and soothe the feeling inside him, but she couldn't do that without shooting down his pride. While she would have gladly done that under any other cercumstances, she knew this wasn't the best time.
"I should've protected her!" He said as he pulled away from her embrace. "I was right there! I should've protected Mom for those evil—bastards—" Tears started to clog his eyes; he squeezed them tight to get them out and sobbed involentarily as he felt Katara wrape her arms around his torso again, this time he didn't push away. The riad was over, but a burden had been dropped on their shoulders that they were going to carry for a long, long time before they found any relief from it.
"I love you Sokka," Katara whispered aganst the back of her brother's neck. She had started to make a habit of doing this to everyone she cared about at least once a day since her mother was taken. It was only when he felt her tears falling onto his dark skin did he whisper back, "I love you too Katara."
"You're What!" Kana shouted at her son-in-law.
"I said I'm going with the other men," Kota replied. He didn't look at her as he gathered his things. "I have to do this, for Lunede..."
"Kota," Kana said, venom in her voice. "Lunede is dead now, her soul departed to the spirit world and the body laid to rest in the ice. You have honored her enough; don't you dare disgrace her by leaving behind your children while you go off and get yourself killed!"
"I won't be killed!" Kota shouted. "I'm perfectaly cabible of taking care of myself now, thank you very much!" He didn't touch the subject of his children; truthfully he didn't know just yet what he was going to do with them. There were other teens in the village, all over the age of 16 years, and it was decided that they were mature enough to come along with their fathers to the battle fields but when the issue of Sokka came up...he was only 13, and hadn't even been ice dodging yet. As sharp as the boy was, by tradtion he wasn't ready for the responsibilities of becoming a man and the other warriors had urged Kota to leave him behind. Katara being even younger and now viewed as a shining jem for her ability to bend water was deffinatly not coming along. If the Fire Nation believed they had just purdeged the South Pole of it's benders then there was no safer place for her to be.
"Hello!" called Bato's voice as he poked his head into the tent. "I just stopped by—whoa, some bad vibes in here. Is everything alright?"
"Everything is fine," Kota said, cutting Kana off even though she was his elder. "I've decided to come with you."
"And what will happen to Sokka and Katara!" Kana shot at him icily.
"It's not like I can't take them both with me!" Kota shot back.
Before any more insults and harsh words could be echanged, Bato took a hold of his friend's face and made him look into his eyes. "Kota," he said in a stern but understandng voice. He had always been Kota's voice of reason, even when they were little children and his rambuctious friend plotted one misadventure after another. Now he spoke with years of perfection in toning his words just right and speaking to show his concern and love wthout seeming to demanding. "You don't have to come with us."
"I wasn't the only one who buried my wife last night..."
"But you are the only one who didn't have to bury your daughter as well. They're young, they're not ready and you know this. If you come with Sokka and Katara will have to stay behind."
Kota dropped the bag he'd been holding, tears beginning to run down his face. Bato pulled him close, hugging him as he cried onto his shoulder and calmly rocked him. "I can't get the image of her out of my mind," he sobbed. "What they did to Lunede, what they wanted to do to Katara...how am I expeceted to sit here quietly while they're off terrorizing the rest of the world? And if I don't go after them...and if they come back for her...Those, bastards should pay for what they've done!"
Bato sighed and looked up at Kana. There wasn't much they could say if Kota was this dead set on going. Everyone knew that, even as flimsly as it seemed now, the South Pole was no longer seen as a threat to the Fire Nation and so therefore wouldn't be under attack for a long, long time. If Katara and Sokka stayied they'd be safe; Kota knew this though it didn't make his desicion to fight for them any easier.
Sokka trudged through the snow carrying his own sleeping bag and personal supplies over his shoulder as he made his way to the bay where the other men were loading up the boats. Bato saw him first and signaled Kota who sighed in an almost depressed way before he made his move to cut the child off. "Sokka," he said as gently as he could. True he had planned on taking the boy with him at first, but he'd never spoken to him about it and was a little surprised to see him all packed a ready to go.
"I'm coming with you," the boy replied.
"You're not old enough to go to war, Sokka; you know that."
"I'm strong, I'm brave, I can fight; please Dad?"
Kota laid a hand on his son's shoulder. "Being a man is knowing where you're needed the most. And for you right now, that's here protecting your sister."
"I don't understand."
"Some day you will." The boy dropped his bag of supplies and quickly buried his face against his father's torso, tears streaming down his face and messing up the polar bear mask his sister had helped him perfect. "I'm gonna miss you so much," Kota said as he embraced his son. He picked the boy up and rubbed a little at the paint he wore. "I just want you to know that you make me very proud Sokka; you and your sister both. Promise me that you'll take good care of her while I'm gone."
"I will," Sokka said as he wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve, smearing the paint across it. "Promise us you'll come back alive, okay Dad?"
Kota rested his forehead against his son's as he replied, "of course I will." He held his child a little longer then set him on the ground again when the others called that they were ready to ship off. The last memory Sokka had for that day was an image of his father sailing away and leaving him behind in the artic cold of his homeland; and a horrible feeling of abandonment in the pit of his stomach.
Sokka sighed and lay back in Appa's saddle. It had been over two years since he had last seen either of his parents but only a mere two hours since he had last seen Bato and had been given the chance to see his Dad again. For all the fooling around Aang had made them do previously, it sure bothered him that when it came to their own father he and Katara couldn't take the time to go see him just once because of Aang's sudden immense need to become a Waterbender. Okay, so it was Katara's lust as well, but still…their flesh and blood family member should have been just a little higher on the list Sokka thought.
"Whatcha thinkin' about Sokka?" asked Katara as she sat down beside him. "You've been kind quiet."
"Nothing really," Sokka replied, "But since you asked, and just for the record, you didn't really mean to send Zuko a kiss for 'returning your necklace,' right Katara?"
"So what if I did?" Katara replied in one of the many ways a sibling would when she wants to tease her elder blood relative. "What are yoooou gonna do about it anyway, huh?"
"I dunno, I guess I'd have to strap you to Appa's back and never let you outta my sight. You can't trust him Katara, he's a Firebender."
"I know that," she replied with a laugh in her voice. "But c'mon, tell me what you were really thinking about. Please, please, pretty please Sokka?"
He sat up with a slight reflexive grunt and looked her straight in the face. "I was thinking about Dad and just…what it'd be like to get to see him again."
"We will some day. Maybe our travels with Aang will take us to him."
"I guess…" He looked up at the full pale moon that shone onto them and was reminded again of home. It had been a full moon the night his father had left. "I guess I just want to know for sure that he is proud of us, ya know; hear it straight from him, is all…"
"Kota!" Bato cried as he dropped his bag and ran to meet his old friend. In response, Kota dropped the firewood he'd been carrying and ran to greet him as well. They crashed together and stumbled from the momentum then laughed in good humor at being reunited again. Kota ruffled Bato's hair and messed it up a bit then jokingly made light of his injuries. When the mood settled down a bit and they began to return to the chores they had to do, Bato asked, "Guess who I ran into at the sanctuary you left me at?"
"Who?" Kota asked with a laugh as he picked up the firewood again.
"Katara and Sokka!"
Kota dropped the sticks again from shock and spun around to face him. "No," he muttered, "say that you're joking."
"I'm not," Bato replied, his good natured smile still in place. "They've been traveling with the Avatar; you know all those reports we've got that he was with a young water tribe boy and girl? Kota, they're your children! Isn't that great?"
"No," Kota instantly replied and his friend's smile slipped. "No, what are they thinking? What are they doing! Bato, were they alright? They weren't harmed were they? Was it Kana that let them go! Spirits, how could she let them do that? They Were Suppose To Stay Where It Was Safe!"
"Kota! Breathe!" Bato took a hold of his friend's shoulders and gave him a good shake. "Listen, it's okay. They were fine and I'm sure that as long as they're with the Avatar they're perfectly safe. Don't worry, they're older now and they're looking out for one another like you wanted. You should be proud, you have very fine young children."
Kota excused himself from the camp when Bato told him to take a moment for himself and wandered a little ways away. Earthbenders paid him little mind and when he came to a clearing he looked up to find a waxing crescent in the sky. Bato's words echoed in his mind but rebounding also where all the parental worries he now had. Were Sokka and Katara really okay, and would they always be? Did they have food, a safe place to sleep and money to get by? What if they ran into a Firebender camp? What if Firebenders arrested them? Or if they had a run-in with some nasty cutthroat pirates? What if someone tried to use or take advantage of him or her? What if they got caught in a bad storm? How were they reacting to the Avatar's ability to Firebend? Were they getting along with all the Earthbenders they met (after all, some had become so paranoid that they wouldn't even trust their shadows)? The Avatar wasn't unleashing any dangerous spirit monsters in their presence, was he? And what of the real live monsters that inhabited the earth every day? Saber-tooth moose lions and eagle tigers and platypus bears, oh my!
But suddenly his worries ceased and a great calm washed over him as the last of his friend's words repeated themselves in his mind, 'You have fine you children.'
Bato was right, he did have fine young children and they were growing into fine young adults. "Sokka, Katara," he whispered, "I know you can't really hear me right now, but I want you both to know that I'm so very proud of you. You are the greatest gifts ever given to me and, as hard as it may be to let you go right now, I know that you won't give me a reason to bow my head in shame. My blessings children, may our Mother Moon walk with you and keep you safe. And so too will Lunede and I in spirit and prayer for we both love you so."
A/N: Edited a bit to try and inhance it. Posted as a semi gift thing for my father's birthday which is today. Tried to go deeper on some points i was aiming to make last time, however like last time I woke up today and said "I'ma revise O'hana as a gift for my father's b-day which is today!" so I only had 24 hours about, less really due to homework and other life issues crap. For those who care to want to know, the tribal chant Sokka recites at the beginning comes from another disney referance, this time Lion King and is found in the musical version of that tale. It's the Rafiki Mourns for those of you who'd care to listen to it on the soundtrack; I really think it fits. Translated, in accordance to my little lyrics pamphlet here, he says:
Try courage so beasts may fall
Those who defy moutians are, in truth, cowards
Even in anger, you do not speak against wrong
Even in anger, you do not speak against wrong
And yeah. That's all. Hope you enjoyed. Anyone with advice is welcome to submit it.