IMPORTANT NOTE: This story has been discontinued. There is a summary of the way it ends, but it was only halfway finished.
Author's Notes: Well, here's my first attempt at an AU.
Summary: What if the Water Tribes ruled the world? What if it was Azula and Zuko who found Aang and saved him from his suspended animation? What if he fought on their side to save the world? What if... Aang remembered his previous life, and the travels and friendships he had with Katara, Sokka, and Toph? What if Azula isn't all that different from his friends, in a place that could have been? Watch as Aang travels all around the world with the two Fire siblings, fighting against the ruthless Water Tribes as he tries to get back to his own home.
I know, sucky summary. But trust me, this'll be a lot better than it sounds. If you don't like it, then it's just a fun little "what if?" for me. This won't be my main project.
Heh... It was hard to find a place to start this, hope it's okay... By the way, I've never played Escape from the Spirit World, so I apologize if it's wrong. I tried, but I lost horribly.
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar, or Escape from the Spirit World.
Aang grumbled to himself as he jumped from gnarled tree to gnarled tree, occasionally pulling his foot free after it plunging into the mud. But he had to persist; it was his only hope of finally winning the war. He needed to restore his Avatar Spirit, in order to finally access the Avatar State again after all this time, and to finally defeat Fire Lord Ozai. After two years, it was still locked after Azula struck him in the back with lightning. Ever since then, his hatred of her only grew. After two years of fighting, Aang decided to finally take the initiative again and heal his Spirit. He would kill Azula for taking away many of his loved ones, and now he just wanted it to end. No more war, no more fighting, just absolute peace. He wanted to live somewhere away from the rest of the world, even if it meant estranging himself from his few remaining friends.
The war had grown to those proportions.
After first getting to the Spirit World, he encountered Yue, who told him of a way to get the Avatar State back. He would have to reconnect with his past lives, and search for them through the Spirit World. It was the only way. He had to get back at Azula and Ozai and the numerous soldiers that took his friends, his family. Azula had killed many.
Now, the only people he really had left were the ones he started out with—Katara, Sokka, Toph, and more recently, Zuko. Azula killed Uncle Iroh, the driving force that led Zuko to join them. Hakoda was dead, along with Bato and all the rest of his men, dying brutally at Ozai's orders after they were captured on the first invasion of the Fire Nation capital. Bumi was killed when Azula decided to take no more prisoners. So many were gone.
And Aang wanted vengeance.
Finally getting too frustrated from dwelling on his friends' deaths, he yelled out. "Roku, where are you?" There was no answer. He looked all around at his environment, the swampy area that he uncomfortably remembered after his very first trip to the Spirit World. He took a step, but a blast of fire shot out of the ground. He jumped back, dispelling it with his own blast of fire. When it was gone, Avatar Roku was suddenly there.
He nodded his head in greeting. "Hello Aang."
"I'm sorry, Roku," the current Avatar said to him. "I've tried to do everything—and I've failed. Nothing's going right for me... I don't know if I can do this anymore. Please, give me back the power to use the Avatar State so I can end it, once and for all," he said quietly, trying to portray the pain and suffering he felt.
"Mastering the Avatar State takes much spiritual discipline and patience. I learned this the hard way."
"But I've gone through so much already! I can't afford to have any more patience. We've already waited long enough... Sozin's Comet came; they've nearly destroyed everyone..."
"Do not make the same mistakes I have," Roku interrupted. "You have gone through much more than I could have expected of you, and for that I am proud. I have never said that you do not have the discipline or the patience. I believe you are ready for it, but the final choice rests with our other lives. Go to them, Aang." Fang, Avatar Roku's blue dragon, materialized in front of them, and the aged firebender got onto him. "Look for Avatar Kyoshi in the place where Hei Bai sleeps. Farewell, Aang." At that, Roku flew away.
That was easier than I expected, Aang thought. But what did he mean?
His breath caught in his throat as the world around him faded away, and he found himself in a sort of bamboo forest. The other Avatars must have been eager to find him, too. He did not ponder such matters, only intent on finding Hei Bai now. That also came easily as he found him munching on some bamboo in the next clearing.
"Hei Bai!" he yelled. "I haven't seen you in a while," he said in a softer voice, upon finding the spirit creature. "Roku told me I'd find you here." He laid a hand on the panda's head, ruffling it. Aang was surprised to find himself taller than him, but the creature was sitting down. He yawned in response to Aang. "I don't suppose you've seen Avatar Kyoshi around, have you?" He nearly jumped back when Hei Bai snapped at him, but he simply grabbed his clothes and flung him onto his back. Then he started running. Aang found it slightly exhilarating, and he let a small smile past his weary face, which looked a lot older than the face of a fourteen year-old boy. In a few moments, they pushed through the bamboo forests, and Aang saw her. "There she is!"
Hei Bai slid to a stop in another clearing, where the much taller female Avatar was standing. "It's nice to see you, Aang. Sorry about that 'wrongfully accused of murder' thing back in Chin Village."
It took Aang a moment to think of what she was talking about. "Oh, that's okay." He put up a mask of polite kindness as he spoke to her. It wouldn't do to burst out in anger at his past lives for not helping him reconnect to them.
"After Chin the Conqueror died, I helped the world live in balance. I accomplished a lot of good, but I also made some mistakes..." White flashed in front of him for a moment, and he realized he was entering one of Kyoshi's flashbacks. When he was able to see again, he was in Ba Sing Se. "One of my greatest challenges was dealing with a peasant uprising in Ba Sing Se."
There was a crowd of angry people in front of the two of them. "Down with the Earth King!" a man in the protest shouted.
"The peasants felt that the Earth King's role was outdated and that he did not represent their interests. So they stormed the Upper Ring. The peasants destroyed priceless historical artifacts and buildings—anything that represented the 'old government.'" He saw the people pull down a statue of an Earth King. He wondered what all of this had to do with him. He didn't need to see all of this...
"The Earth King summoned me to help him end the revolution," she continued.
"I don't care how you do it, but I want you to squash those unruly peasants!" the Earth King yelled at her.
"I won't do it," the memory Kyoshi said, her face wreathed in shadows. The King abruptly stood up.
"How dare you defy your King! Guards, arrest Avatar Kyoshi!" he yelled angrily. Memory Kyoshi got into a stance as the guards surrounded her. She stomped a foot on the ground and spread her fans, sending all of them flying in all directions.
"How dare YOU defy your Avatar!" Kyoshi yelled at the King, pointing a fan in his face. "Are you ready to make a compromise?"
"Yes," the Earth King mumbled pitifully.
"I don't like this revolution either, but everyone must have a voice if balance is to prevail over tyranny," Kyoshi said to him. "So I propose this— you will listen to the peasants' grievances and I will protect your interests and Ba Sing Se's cultural heritage. Agreed?"
"Agreed," the Earth King said, a dark look on his face after a moment's hesitance.
"I immediately set to work training an elite force of earthbenders," Spirit Kyoshi said to Aang. "They would be silent, precise... and feared by all. They became known as the Dai Li."
Aang looked dumbfounded, the first true emotion he showed in the Spirit World that got past his mask. "You trained the Dai Li? But they're the worst, most corrupt earthbenders in the world!" Now, shock was replaced by anger. Even as the war went on, they continued to side with Azula, causing damage everywhere they went.
"I thought I was doing the right thing by creating a group that protected cultural history," Kyoshi apologized. "I had no idea what they would become. Aang, our actions will always have an effect... sometimes positive, sometimes negative... and sometimes not for many lifetimes." She gestured for him to get atop Hei Bai. "Hurry! You must find the waterbender Avatar who came before me."
"I don't even know his name," Aang said to her, complying with the tough Avatar. She didn't look it, but every order needed to be obeyed by her. She was nearly as scary as Toph in that regard.
"His name is Avatar Kuruk," she answered. And she, too, faded away.
"Now what?" Aang mumbled to himself. Hei Bai lurched forward, bounding through the forest. Ahead of them, Aang could see a small dark tunnel, which the forest spirit led him through. They emerged in another swampy looking area, but there was much more water. Aang recognized the place. "We're in the Realm of Koh, Hei Bai." They passed by a faceless monkey. Aang immediately lost all expression on his face. It was a lot easier for him now. "We better be careful."
They walked a few steps, until a man heavily garbed in Water Tribe clothing leapt down from above, landing in front of the bear and pointing a spear at them. Aang fell back off of Hei Bai. He splashed into the water, and was covered in mud. He almost exploded in anger, but he noticed the man's face. He had the face of a bear! "Koh took your face and replaced it with a bear's face!" he said, shock and a little fear creeping its way into his voice. He immediately realized how stupid that sounded when the man looked up. A face was visible underneath the bear head.
"Relax kid. I'm not going to hurt you." He held out a hand to Aang, helping him stand. "I'm Avatar Kuruk! Nice to finally meet you." Aang nodded. "Now tell me—have you seen a beautiful woman with long, brown hair around here?"
Aang raised an eyebrow. "No. Who is she?"
"She's my wife," he answered, looking down at the ground. "When I was a young Avatar..." The scene flashed white again, and Aang found himself looking at a younger Kuruk, standing next to an earthbender, both of them holding huge boulders over their heads. "...I traveled the world, challenging other benders to tests of strength..."
"I challenge you to an Agni Kai!" young Kuruk shouted, as it switched to another scene.
"Uh, I was just going to the store," a random Fire Nation civilian said.
"I loved impressing people with my bending prowess," Avatar Kuruk told him. "Especially girls." It switched to another scene where Aang saw a young Kuruk bending an air tornado in front of Air Nomad women in training.
"It's beautiful! I love you, Avatar Kuruk!" they shouted in adoration. Aang mentally rolled his eyes.
"I was arrogant, proud, and boastful," Older Kuruk said to Aang, a hint of regret in his voice, as he watched the memory Kuruk surf on a board of ice. "I never thought about settling down until I met the love of my life. We met during the new moon celebration, when the sister tribes would come together as one. It was love at first sight." Aang saw another scene where Kuruk seemed infatuated with a pretty girl, during a night at the Northern Water Tribe. "Her name was Ummi. She was from the Southern Tribe. And she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen."
He saw the two again, under the light of the moon. "With Ummi in my life, I decided to change my irresponsible ways and settle down." The memory Kuruk held out a necklace to the girl.
"A betrothal necklace?" Ummi gasped.
"Ummi, will you marry me?" Kuruk asked her, a smile on his face.
"Yes!" she answered immediately. Then they kissed.
"We were to be married in the Spirit Oasis," Kuruk told Aang, as they watched the two walk together to a very familiar place. "But on the day of our wedding, tragedy struck." Aang saw Ummi suddenly being pulled into the water by some unknown force. He watched with an impassive face.
"UMMI! NO!" Young Kuruk shouted. Kuruk jumped into the water, swimming to its depths. He saw Kuruk on the surface of the water, this time alone. "She's gone," he said quietly to himself.
"She didn't drown, she disappeared into the Spirit World..." Kuruk told Aang sadly. "...Koh took her to punish me for my past mistakes." The two were out of the flashback, and Kuruk was in front of him again. "Every year on the anniversary of our wedding, I traveled to the Spirit World, hoping to save my wife from Koh. But I failed."
"I'm sorry," Aang said sincerely. "I know how that feels..." Then he was jolted by a memory. "Wait! I've seen her!" He remembered his first meeting with Koh, as he took on the face of a beautiful woman... "Koh still has her! When I was in Koh's lair, he showed me Ummi's face." Kuruk immediately held his spear in front of him.
"Thank you, Aang. My search isn't over yet," Kuruk snarled. "I will keep hunting Koh until Ummi and I are reunited. Hurry! Avatar Yangchen is waiting for you!"
Aang saw only darkness as he stared after Kuruk, but it soon cleared. He found himself on a mountaintop, the clouds obscuring the ground below him. It was a peaceful place. It was the natural habitat of the airbenders. "Hello? Avatar Yangchen?" he called. He noticed that Hei Bai was still at his side, as an airbender woman materialized in front of him.
"It's an honor to meet you, Aang," she said.
Aang smiled slightly. "It's been an... interesting... experience to meet my past lives," he admitted.
"And what did you learn by meeting them?" she asked.
"I realized that no Avatar is perfect," Aang told her. "They all struggled and made mistakes. Just like I did."
"Very wise," Yangchen said.
"But it made me wonder—why is the Avatar Spirit a human in every life?" he asked. If he was an all-powerful being, he would be worshipped, and if he wished it, there would be no war... "Wouldn't it be better if the Avatar was an all-powerful spirit that never died?"
"I don't think so," Yangchen said, surprising him slightly. "The Avatar must be compassionate towards all people..." she said, as Aang saw Katara, Sokka, Toph, Iroh, and Zuko in his mind's eye, all grinning and smiling for him. It hurt to see Iroh again. "...And the only way to do that is to live with them." He saw the sandbenders of the desert kidnapping Appa again. "The Avatar must experience sadness," and then he saw himself in the Avatar State, hovering above Zuko, Azula, and the Dai Li in the crystal caverns... "Anger..." The scene once again switched, this time to a happier memory, one of him sledding on a snowy slope atop penguins, Katara next to him... "Joy..." And finally, he saw all of his friends hugging and patting Appa. "... and happiness.
"By feeling all these emotions, it helps you understand how precious human life is... so you will do anything to protect it. If you were an all powerful spirit living on the top of some mountain, you wouldn't have much in common with an ordinary person. So the Avatar continues to take human rebirth. And with each life, learns what it means to be human," she said wisely.
"Now that I've reconnected with all of you, does that mean that the Avatar Spirit is okay?" he asked her, eager to be able to return with his full power. She put a hand to his head, causing both his and her arrows to glow.
"Unfortunately, it seems that your ability to enter the Avatar State has been disrupted. Your body needs to heal. You won't be able to rely on your past lives to help you. You must rely on your friends."
Aang averted his eyes, nearly pulling away from the female Avatar in anger. "Then what was the point of this? Why did I have to be here?" he asked, his grey eyes staring right up at her.
"You still have one final lesson to learn," she said calmly, eyes still closed. "You have another adventure to go on, with more friends to make."
"What do you mean?" he asked, unable to mask the anger in his voice any longer. "I have to help my friends!"
"You still have to learn to forgive, and see the good in all life. You must see the world from all perspectives. Learn to love all life. In the situation you're about to be in, you will need to be able to help everyone. This experience will give you the chance to save your own world."
"What are you talking about? What situation? I don't need more people to save!" he yelled. Yangchen held her palm on his forehead more tightly, and he felt a pulse of some kind of energy.
"Good luck, Aang," she said.
He shouted out in pain, feeling the sensation of being ripped apart, limb from limb. Every piece of him was falling away as he was being tugged in all directions. All he saw was a vivid array of colors, all mixing together in a dizzying pattern. He felt sudden immense sickness, like he was about to literally explode from the inside... but nothing came. The feeling of sickness was gone, replaced by what felt like a sudden drop. He was cold, warm, and everything else at once. Loud noises were all around him, the peal of thunder, the roar of a creature, shouts of a child...
And then, there was nothing.
Author's Note: Do you think this is a good start so far? This was only the prologue—next chapter starts the actual story.
Don't worry, there's a meaning behind Yangchen's words. Anyway, this was fairly short by my standards, but the chapters will be longer.