Author's note: I'm not exactly sure how long has it been since I last uploaded anything, but now it is time to yet again update, so enjoy
A small boat was zig zaggin through the rocks, careful not to hit them. But this boat was not in actual trouble. The ones sailing were Sokka, Katara, Aang and Naruto, with Bato sitting in the boat watching the performance. The reason they were on these waters was Sokka's rite of manhood, a test, where he had to navigate the ship to safety. So far the test had gone without problems, but now in fron of the ship was a wide wall of rocks, not possible for a ship to navigate under current conditions.
"Okay, Sokka. I think we can return now." Bato said. "Those rocks cannot be dodged"
"We'll see sbout that." Sokka answered with a confident look. "Okay team, we need to get this boat above the rocks! Katara, Aang, concentrate the water underneath the boat! Naruto, blow wind to the sails upwards!"
Everyone did like they were told and managed to get the boat over the rock, to the great relief of Bato.
Later on the beach, Bato congratulated the team for the good work.
"Now," He said. "I shall give you all a mark on your foreheads for your success. Sokka, you showed great leadership skills today, so you have earned the Mark of the Wise. Katara, you showed incredible courage in front of dangers, so the Mark of the Brave is yours to carry. Aang and Naruto. the mark I'm going to give you two exceptionally special. First of all it is given to the outsiders, who have earned the respect of the Southern Water Tribe. But today it had another purpose. Normally the one, who takes the test is allowed to have only two friends with him. However Sokka insisted on taking you both, meaning he trusts both of you greatly. So you will both have the Mark of the trusted, you truly have earned them"
After the ceremony was over, Naruto talked to Sokka.
"Umm, Sokka." He asked. "I'm still a fire national, right? One, who has caused you great trouble in the past. Yet you asked me to be allowed to accompany you on your test. Why did you do that for?"
Sokka chuckled. "Yes. I may have sounded ridiculous, when I did that. But the truth is that you are more than just a fire national. Despite being our prisoner, you have helped us whenever we needed help. Regular fire nationals are not so selfless. Besides, that test was least i could do after what you did to Aang."
"Wai-wait a second!" Naruto said surprised. "You knew I suggested lying?"
"Come on. I have seen Aang smiling a lot. I know when it is not sincere."
Naruto went silent for a moment and started laughing "And here I thought you were just a funny guy."
"Hey. I don't train to become a ninja just for show" Sokka answered turning back to the monastery, but was again stopped by Naruto.
"Just one more thing." He said. "You see, before I left, I was also training to be a ninja at the Fire Nation, but I could never do the clone jutsu correctly. Could you possibly help me?"
"Umm, I don't know, Naruto. To tell the truth I haven't masteredthat jutsu either." Sokka said, to which Naruto sighed deeply. "But I do know how to make shadow clone jutsu? So, would you like to learn it?
"Now or immediately!?" Naruto asked with his exitement returned to which Sokka chuckled.
Meanwhile Zuko's group were having a break, planning their next move.
"Okay, now we can kill two birds with one stone" Zuko said to the other kids. "If this mission succeeds, we will have both Naruto and the Avatar. Shino, Hinata and Kiba, your mission is to engage the water tribals and rescue Naruto. Meanwhile Kurenai and I capture the Avatar."
"What about general and June?" Kiba asked.
"We cannot trust uncle in this, so we will leave him out of the plan" Zuko answered, "And June will help to keep the sky bison down. Anyway, the plan to engage the water kids is this. Shino, you and your bugs face the boy. Kiba, your target is the girl. But the hard part is this. You two need to get these two closer to each other. Meanwhile you, Hinata, sneak behind the water tribals and stun them from behind. After that you find Naruto and leave. We will meet at the rendezvous point."
"Isn't this a rather risky effort?" Shino asked. "Shouldn't you have more help against the Avatar than just master Kurenai?"
"Kurenai and I have already prepared a couple of synchronized attacks?" Zuko explained. "We are both skilled in firebending and genjutsu, which none of you has skills, if I don't remember incorrectly. Anyway, do you have any questions?" All three shook their heads. "Good. Then we can leave."
At the monastery, Aang's was preparing Appa for take off. Though he trusted Naruto's plan to work, he was still worried that his friends would leave him. Soon Sokka, Katara and Naruto arrived with their stuff.
"So, what kind of decision did you make?" Aang asked.
"Well, we all pondered for a long time" Sokka explained. "Believe me, it wasn't an easy choice. Eventually we all-"
Sokka didn't have a chance to finish, because two flames flew towards Aang, who quickly dodged them. Everybody turned towards the gate, where the flames had come from. Zuko and his followers stood at the gate alongside a young woman and a strange animal.
"Execute the plan!" Zuko commanded.
Zuko's grew quickly overwhelmed Aang's group. Shino and Kiba had studied the movements of the water siblings and knew exactly, how to strike. Soon Hinata had a chance to use his stunning attack, which worked. Appa and Momo were lying on the ground paralyzed, having got struck by the shirsu's tongue. Aang was still up, but dodging two simultaneous flames was exhausting, and he could feel himself running out of stamina. Zuko was confident of gettingh both his cousin and the Avatar
"Naruto, don't worry, we're here to save you." Hinata said walking towards Naruto.
"No, Hinata! Don't come any closer" Naruto screamed. "Hacua is going to kill all of you!"
Hacua took over Naruto's body, blowing Hinata, Shino and Kiba away. Then he landed on four feet and came running towards June, ramming her out from the saddle. The shirsu came between Naruto and June, but then it smelled his scent and ran away howling. June watched in horror the boy.
"What are you?" She asked. "How can you scare Nyla?"
"I am Hacua, human, the Nine-Tailed Fox of the Air Nomads." Then Hacua discovered June's topknot. "You, you're one of them! Die Fire National"
June dodged quickly the gust blown by Hacua, which blew up the part of wall she was at a moment ago. "Wait!" She screamed "I'm a travelling bounty hunter, I'm not from the Fire Nation!"
"Liar!" Hacua screamed back "Only Fire Nationals wear topknots!"
Hacua stopped hunting June, when a flame passed right in front of him. Looking at the direction where the fire had come from, he saw general Iroh in a blattle stance.
"This has gone way too far, Hacua" He said. "I understand your hatred towards my people, but it doesn't give you any right to kill them. Release my son at once!"
"Never!" Hacua screamed throwing Iroh at a wall with a gust of wind. "I have the full right to kill every single fire national in existence, just like you killed every single man, woman and child of my and Zinfi's people. And I'm going to start with YOU!"
Hacua created a tornado with his hand. But before he could strike, he was pushed back by wind. Looking back he saw Aang, with Zuko and Kurenai at his sides.
"Why, Hacua" Aang asked with sadness in his eyes. "You promised me you wouldn't hurt others"
Tears fell from Hacua's eyes. "I'm sorry, Aang. But I cannot keep that promise, ever! I can never forgive The Fire Nation!"
Hacua jumped over the wall and disappeared to the woods. Zuko ran to his uncle, Kurenai following him.
"Come on Aang! Well have to go!" Sokka shouted to Aang, snapping him out of his shock. Aang ran towards Appa, where Katara, Sokka and Momo were waiting. Commanding Appa to fly, the group left.
"So, where shall we go now." Sokka asked.
"Isn't it obvious?" Aang commented "Well go after Hacua, before he causes more damage. Besides he's moving towards north, so it will not slow down our travel."
Though Aang had decided to keep on helping Hacua, he was starting to doubt. He wondered if it was too late, that these one hundred years had filled the sacred beast's thoughts with bloodlust not truly extinguishable, that Hacua had already completely succumbed to madness.
Meanwhile in a hut near a river, an old man was standing in the middle of candles. A young man with a scar on his nose came in.
"You called me, father" The young man said.
"Yes, Iruka." The old man aswered. "The fire has spoken to me. The Hero of the Fire Nation is getting weaker in mind, while the Beast of Revenge gets stronger."
"Do you mean Naruto?"
"Yes. Before you ask, the reason I'm telling you this is that he's coming this way alongside the Avatar. The only one who can save Naruto is you."
"Well I could try, father. But how can I do it?"
"You will know, once you see him. Also, do not tell Mizuki about this. Unlike you and me, he doesn't accept Naruto's existence. If Mizuki confronts him, Naruto might die. Now go."
Iruka bowed and left the hut. Little did he know that a white haired youth around Iruka's age had listened secretly their conversation. Silently he left the hut as well.