Never Look at the Sun

The sky overhead is a brilliant eggshell blue. Jianyu knows this because all days are beautiful in Ba Sing Se. If the day were not beautiful then he would not be in Ba Sing Se and no one would ever want to leave Ba Sing Se so he must be in Ba Sing Se and therefore the day is beautiful.

There is no war here.

"Would you like a map, sir?" Jianyu asks the man who passes by his stall.

"Why haven't you evacuated? Get out of here!" the man demands. He has bare feet and is wearing a soldier's uniform. Jianyu tosses him a map and smiles. There is no war in Ba Sing Se, so the Dai Li encourage the baring of teeth.

"I'm sorry, sir! I cannot fulfill your request at this time. The Cultural Ministry welcomes you to the Taisho District of the Outer Ring. Please enjoy your stay!"

The man curses and then leaves and so now there is no one. Maybe it is a slow day because it is raining. Jianyu cannot tell.

When there are no customers, Jianyu has nothing to think about except how much he loves Ba Sing Se. That is when he wonders about the physics of eggshells. He could reach up and crack the sky in two but he is unsure where the shards would fall and if Ba Sing Se would go pouring out the sides of the horizon like spilled yolk.

It is best not to test fate. There is no war in Ba Sing Se.

Jianyu hears shouting in the distance. An explosion rocks the piece of wall near his stall and it covers the table with fine-ground dust. That is almost distressing. All the nice maps of Ba Sing Se will be ruined once they get dirty and then Jianyu will have nothing to distribute. His job is very important. If Jianyu cannot give pictures to the people then they might get lost in Ba Sing Se without a war to guide them.

It appears that a nearby section of the wall has collapsed due to the explosion. Someone should be by to fix it soon. Perhaps they will need a map. Jianyu must clean his stall, only now many men in russet armor are rushing towards him through the gap. A few are throwing fire.

It will be difficult for Jianyu to clean his stall if it is on fire.

Jianyu picks up the broom that he uses to keep the walkway clean of stray leaves. His shift lasts from eight in the morning to six in the evening. He cannot return to the dormitory beforehand because there is no war in Ba Sing Se. Everyone must do their part.

Work, Jianyu reflects, is uplifting and character-building.

The men are coming closer. Jianyu breaks his broomstick against a stone railing so that the wood forms a nice sharp splintered point. This is not an inappropriate use of government materials. The designated purpose of a broom is to clear away debris.

When Jianyu slams the blunt end of his improvised spear into one soldier's esophagus, the soldier clutches his throat and falls to his knees. Jianyu twirls the makeshift weapon and shoves it into the gap of another soldier's helmet. The soldier's eyeball collapses with a satisfying pop.

There is no war in Ba Sing Se and Jianyu is starting over.

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Author's Note: The world needs brainwashed!Jet fanfic, so I went ahead and wrote some. I stole a page from Rawles' playbook and titled this snippet after a song.