Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar or Star Wars or any material related to them that is mentioned in this fiction. All of it belongs to Nickelodeon and George Lucas respectively.
Bender of the Force
Battles and Explanations
Iroh and Anakin walked through the woods, as they had been doing so for the past several days, following Zuko, after he had decided to take his own road following their argument.
Anakin had meditated a great deal on Zuko's last words however, as he felt he now had a great responsibility.
"Please take care of my uncle" said Zuko just before he left on his own journey, and the reason why Anakin and Iroh where now following him.
"You have been restless these past few days young man" said Iroh, as they walked through a particularly thick part of the woods. "Is there something bothering you?" asked Iroh feeling the downbeat mood of Anakin, a feeling he had seen on the young man ever since his nephew had decided to venture out on his own.
Anakin looked at Iroh, his head still bothered by the present situation he had caused to this man and his nephew. As he looked at Iroh, he realized even more how much this situation just felt like his fault, after all he had arrived at an unknown planet, and this man and his nephew had taken him in, despite the situation they themselves had on their hands.
To make matters worse he had had a vision just prior to waking up. He knew that the vision was very important, not only to his own future, but also to the future of this world, yet he had not been able to interpret the meaning of the vision. He felt frustrated and confused, realizing he had a part to play in the events that where developing, and at the same time he could not really understand what was happening, and then there was his home.
He had left in the middle of a war, in the middle of a terrible confrontation, one that included many of his friends, and close ones, a suicide mission many had called it, and for the thousand time he was wondering how they where doing, what had been of them. The more he thought about them the more his heart felt heavy with pain, and his present situation did not help at all.
"Yes, Master Iroh," began Anakin, looking down, with sadness in his face. "When I left my home, I left my friend in grave danger. I don't know what has become of them, and I fear for what may have happened to them. Plus I have caused a breach between you and your nephew, who took me in and helped when you didn't have to. I feel that lately I have been less than helpful, and have only been a burden."
Iroh looked at Anakin, and realized the pain the young man was feeling. He felt he had betrayed the trust of his friends and the trust of those who had taken him in, and that pain was causing him to suffer needlessly, at least on one front mused Iroh. "Young man, don't worry about me and Zuko. Zuko is passing through a difficult time right now, and I believe that being alone for a while may be better for him" said Iroh, attempting to cheer Anakin's spirits.
Anakin looked at Iroh, and felt a little better thanks to the old man, but he still felt restless. "Thank you Iroh, but I feel that I am not the only one who is lonely or saddened. You must miss Zuko too, don't you?"
"Yes, and that is why I am following him, I must be there to catch him when he falls, so that he can make good on the rest of his life" said Iroh as he looked at the forest where they had been passing through. Suddenly Iroh felt that he needed to know more about Anakin, if only to satisfy his curiosity, and also so that he could in some way help him cope with his problems.
"Since we are being so sincere with each other young Anakin, why don't you tell me what was this danger you and your friends where in, that you spoke. Perhaps that would help you feel better" offered Iroh with a smile on his face.
Anakin wasn't sure he felt good enough to relay the story of the war where he had lost his greatest caretaker, where the galaxy was being consumed by almost invisible darkness, and his friends and family where being hunted for who they where. He really didn't feel good enough to talk about his anguish at the moment, and he realized that may be a mistake, but his emotions and his logic where in conflict at the moment, and that it may yet be a while before he was ready to let go of that burden if ever.
All of a sudden however Anakin's senses where on high alert, they where being observed, he could feel them as they moved, five, no more. Anakin felt as several figures moved through the surrounding forest, as they observed him and Iroh.
Iroh for his part appeared oblivious, still focused on Anakin, attempting to get an answer that would not come, for Anakin did not felt adequate at the moment to answer the old mans inquiries, yet he knew the old man needed and answer. "I am sorry master Iroh, but I don't feel that right now is the time to speak of my past" said Anakin, just as he started looking around, trying to get a more precise perception of their assailants.
"What is it young man?" asked Iroh as he saw Anakin's previous behavior change.
"We are being surrounded" said Anakin in almost a whisper, and he assumed a fighting stance.
Iroh then felt the presence of the ones surrounding them, he had not been a well respected general in his part for not being alert, and although lately he was more relaxed than he normally would, constant danger had honed his ability to perceive danger. But Anakin's perception astounded Iroh, he himself was a war veteran, with many battles under his belt, and though age had dulled his senses, he remained sharp and capable. Yet Anakin had clearly felt these assailants long before him, and that mistake nearly cost him his life.
From the surrounding trees came several arrows, each from a different direction all aimed at Iroh, and Iroh could have sworn that he would not live to see his nephew another time. Yet the arrows never reached him, they where simply standing in mid-air, not moving, and just as suddenly as they had been stopped they had fallen through the ground.
Iroh looked at Anakin, who had simply extended his hand, and apparently had reached to the Arrows and stopped them without any effort at all. Iroh then observed as twenty men came from all around them, each with a vicious look on his face, and all of them armed with different types of weapons, from daggers, to heavy axes, and they all looked ready to kill.
The apparent leader of the group stepped forward, brandishing his two heavy axes in front of him, by far the largest man in the group. He was easily over two meters tall, with large broad shoulders and well developed chest bulging with muscles from far too much time training. He had a large beard and a scar in the bridge of his nose, and looked by far the most evil of the bunch, but his eyes spoke of a deep cunning, and well trained in his profession.
The man spoke with a deep, and resounding voice. "Nice trick there young man he he he" laughed the leader as he positioned himself in what Iroh knew was an earth bending move. "But it won't save you from all of us. RIGHT BOYS!!" yelled the man, clearly rousing his group for the easy picking they saw in front of them.
Immediately the whole group roused up in a chorus of screams and yelling, whistling and mockery at Iroh nad Anakin, who where by now back-to-back, and preparing for an attack at any moment.
"I wouldn't try that if I where you" warned Anakin, and placed his hand on his lightsaber, as he looked at all of his opponents and opened himself to the force. Just as it had happened many times before, and very differently from his struggles with the Yuuzhan Vong who did not exist in the force, Anakin felt everything around him, and felt through the force every move of their opponents, and prepared himself for the moment when he would be force to fight, he itched for it, all his rage and frustration was being now harnessed for the purpose of defending himself and Iroh.
"Ha ha ha, and what are you going to do boy. Punch us with your little fists" said the large man, as he readied himself for an attack. "Or are you to scared to do anything, and have to cower behind that old fart at your back".
Anakin was more than ready to finish this man for everything he had said, he had failed his friends in the not so distant past. But he would not fail now, he would do as Zuko had told him and he would look after Zuko's uncle, and these men where clearly in the way of that.
"You know young man, why don't we all just sit down for a nice cup of tea. It is a great way to appease flaring tempers" said Iroh as he looked at the men around them, and for a second looked back at Anakin, winking an eye to him. "Tea is best enjoyed when it is very hot, and nothing says so better than a good camp fire, wouldn't you agree my friend?" said Iroh to the leader, with a big wide smile.
"Ha, the only tea you will taste will be the one I smack into your face" said the man, as he placed his axes in front of him, clearly his patience at an end.
"That's too bad, I was sure we would have made such good friends" said Iroh, and Anakin then felt a surge in the force. It felt hot, like burning flames, but he could see no fire, but he could feel a powerful fire, just be hind him.
"Yeah you would have made a good friend" said the giant man with pure mockery. "A GOOD FRIEND OF THE DIRT" said the giant man, in a nearly deafening tone, and in a quick motion sent a rock from the ground straight at Iroh.
Iroh in an instant surprised Anakin, and in a single instant he realized what that fire he had felt had come from. It had been Iroh, who had sent a fist at the rock, and from his hand fire had come and blasted the rock.
Anakin was surprised by what had just happened. The giant man had moved the ground from under his very feet and sent it straight at Iroh, and Iroh had answered by sending a burst of fire at the rock simply smashing it. He was puzzled for a moment, and he felt the same puzzlement from the men around him, who looked at what had happened with astonishment.
"A fire bender" said the giant in an astonished tone. For a second it was all quiet, but just as fast as it had begun the noise came back, and the giant man spoke again. "Get them boys" said the giant man, and as one the mass of thugs came at Anakin and Iroh.
Anakin felt that the time was right to act, so as the thugs came at him, he activated his lightsaber, and with the typical snap-hizz and the typical hummm of the blade as it glowed silently Anakin fell on the mob that came in at him.
Upon seeing the strange blade, there was a moment of hesitation among the thugs, who had never seen anything like it. But like any evil and amoral person, they soon recovered, and began to attack Anakin. Those who could earth bend gathered stones, and threw them at Anakin, those who had bows aimed at Anakin and shot off their arrows, the rest of them came at him with swords and other assorted hand held weapons.
The thugs thought it would be an easy victory, and that they would get to enjoy of their loot with very little trouble. But they where very wrong, just as soon as the first arrows came near Anakin, they saw the blade move with almost unnatural precision, cutting the arrows in half as if they weren't even there, and to their even greater astonishment the blade of light sliced all the rocks that where sent at it just as easily as the arrows.
The thugs who where closer to Anakin as he shortened the distance hesitated, and placed their weapons in a defensive position, hoping that this would slow down the incoming warrior, who continued to evade and cut anything that came near him.
Anakin flew through the arrows and the rocks being sent at him. He felt the trajectories of the rocks and the arrows through the force, and with little effort either evaded the projectiles or sliced them into little pieces with his lightsaber, which went unimpeded against the barrage of makeshift projectiles. Anakin saw the more close combat oriented thugs stop for a second and raise their weapons nervously, as he approached, and with a huge leap he went into the air.
In mid air he turned to face the six thugs who were surprised at the height of his jump, and with a small amount of concentration created a force blast, that sent the thugs flying in all directions.
Anakin then landed and concentrated on the archers and the strange people who could move the earth at will. With a small movement of his wrist aimed at the archers he snapped their wooden bows, and left them weaponless, and he ran towards the ones throwing rock at him.
One of the two men moving rocks mad a large leap, and when he fell on to the ground once again it split under Anakin's feet. Had he not had the force to guide him, or the extensive training he had had since very little he might have fallen unto the newly built crack in the earth. However Anakin saw the move, and quickly regained his footing on one side of the new canyon.
Meanwhile he saw the second one punch the earth with his fists, and take two large rocks into the air, and with a simple motion sent them flying at Anakin. Anakin saw the rocks flying at him, and deflected their path in mid air with swing of his hand, and with a push of his hand in the man's direction he force pushed him into a tree, knocking him unconscious from the impact.
Meanwhile, the first earth mover sent a wave of earth in his direction, to which Anakin simply jumped high into the air. But his opponent was apparently not as inexperienced as his other companion, and immediately sent a large rock in Anakin's direction.
Anakin felt the rock, and moved his body in mid-air, and using his lightsaber he sliced the rock sent at him, just as he fell closing in on his attacker. However after the first rock more came, and Anakin arced his lightsaber, slicing every rock sent at him, and the onslaught was enough to sent him back a few steps.
Suddenly the attack stopped, and the Anakin saw the man, as he moved his stance, and began to elevate his hands with great effort. As the man did this, a wall of earth rose from the ground, and it moved fast towards Anakin.
Anakin saw the wall of earth rise up from the ground, and immediately shut off his lightsaber, and focused on the force, pushing the wall of earth back. To anyone watching the battle it would have looked as if Anakin was earth bending, as it seemed like a tug of war between the two for the wall of earth that was moving back and forth between the two combatants. But the contest was over in a second, as Anakin pushed with the force, and made a hole in the middle of the wall of earth, and quickly leapt through it, rapidly gaining on his confused adversary, who didn't react fast enough to Anakin's move, and was quickly felled by an unseen force, that left him unconscious at the bottom of a tree.
During this time the rest of the bandits, had recovered and where moving enraged towards Anakin with their weapons drawn. But as they got close, an unexpected force took all of their weapons away from them, leaving them unarmed against a dangerous opponent, and like all thugs when they are unarmed, and against a superior enemy they scrambled.
Anakin saw as they left scrambling over one another in an almost comical fashion, and he felt their fear and panic. For a few seconds he saw them, but quickly recovered, as he turned to look where Iroh was fighting the other ten bandits, and making a good job of fending them off with the fire he was producing.
Anakin scrambled to aid Iroh, and ran so fast, that he caught the bandits, and Iroh by full surprise, as he launched himself on the leader, who was barely able to place his axes in a defensive stance before Anakin's lightsaber made contact with the axes, slicing through them as if they didn't even exist.
The leader of the bandits looked astonished as his weapons where cut in half without any effort at all, and at the bright blade that had done the job. However instead of running like the other group of bandits, the large man went for Anakin in a blind rage, trying to catch him and kill him.
This effort ended in failure, as Anakin extended his hand, and sent a force blast that sent the giant man flying towards a tree, toppling it over, due to the force of the impact. The rest of the bandits and Iroh looked at this event with astonishment, disbelief and fear, for here was a boy, who had almost casually disarmed their leader, and simply tossed him aside, as easily as if he was bending any element.
Without a second thought the rest of the bandits got their leader from the tree where he was slumped, and ran as fast as their legs allowed them to.
Iroh looked at Anakin in awe and wonder, he knew that Anakin was strong and that he had great power, but never had he thought that he was an air bender, for surely only an air bender could have tossed a man with such strength without any apparent mean. "That was amazing young man"
Anakin looked at Iroh, with a grin on his face. It was the first time in weeks that he felt good with himself, his previous doubts and insecurities forgotten for the moment, as he realized that he had been able to protect someone. "Not really" he said scratching his head.
Iroh laughed whole heartedly, as he saw the young man and his strange antics. "Sure it was, I never would have expected you to be an air bender" said Iroh, and the more he pondered about it, it all made sense, how he had been able to move the different objects around him, his incredible speed, and to an extent his foreknowledge of the attack.
Anakin stopped grinning, and looked puzzled at Iroh's comment, and decided to ask. "Excuse me Iroh, but what is an air bender?" asked Anakin, very confused by Iroh's comment.
Iroh looked at Anakin, with near disbelief. Here he thought he had learned something about the strange boy, and now it appeared as if he himself was unaware of what he was. Iroh calmed down and looked at Anakin a little more seriously than before. "What you just did was air bending, wasn't it? I mean, tossing that man without even touching him, you did that by bending the air didn't you?"
Anakin looked confused now, he wasn't sure what to answer, Iroh was making no sense to him, what did he mean by bending the air? What did he mean by bending in general? Didn't he know about the force? How could he not know if that was what he had used to create that fire, he had felt it hadn't he?
The more Anakin asked these question, the least he was sure what was going on, he wasn't really sure what Iroh was saying, so he decided to answer Iroh as best he could. "I don't know what you mean Master Iroh, I didn't move the air, what I did was simply move his body through the force" answered Anakin, and immediately Iroh's face was as full of confusion as his own.
"The force? What is this force you're talking about young man? It is your chi, you used is it not?" asked Iroh attempting to decipher the riddle, when suddenly the trees around them seemed to move, and both of them looked worriedly at the forest.
"Perhaps we should move to a different location" commented Anakin.
"Good Idea" said Iroh as he gathered his belongings, and made to leave through the road ahead of them. But as he was preparing to leave, he saw Anakin pick up one of the swords from the bandits he had fought, and this intrigued Iroh.
Before long the two companions had left the battle area, and where once again moving on.
Later that night Iroh and Anakin where sitting close to a camp fire, not far away from where they had last seen Zuko only a few hours ago. Iroh brewed his tea, and passed a cup to Anakin, who thanked the olde man for his kindness, and it was at that moment when Iroh decided to continue their previous discussion.
"So young man, mind telling this old man how it was that you sent that giant of a man flying away" asked Iroh in a lighthearted and friendly tone.
Anakin looked at Iroh, and considered his proposition. He thought "If he is going to ask me about the force, I might as well ask him about this bending." And with that he decided to answer the old man. "I will tell you, but I would also like to ask about this bending you spoke of, I have never heard of anything similar in the many travels and adventures I've had" said Anakin, as he got into a better position closer to the fire.
"Fair enough young man" said Iroh, as he straightened himself to better listen to Anakin.
"What I did" said Anakin. "Was push that man through the force" said Anakin, as simple and clear as if he thought Iroh would understand from just sentence.
"And what exactly is this force you keep speaking of?" asked Iroh as he stroke his beard and thought hard on everything he could possibly remember regarding this force Anakin was speaking of. "In my many travels I have never ever heard of this "force" you speak of" said Iroh in a matter of fact tone.
Anakin wasn't sure how to answer to that. The one who was really good with the philosophy related to the force was his brother Jacen. Anakin was a more direct and hands-on person, and his brother was the one with the answers to this kind of question. So he did the best he could, and tried to remember the teachings of his uncle Luke.
"The force" began Anakin. "Is an energy field that exists around everything. It exists in the rocks, in the water, in the air, in nature, and of course in all living beings humans included" said Anakin, and he concentrated, and lifted a rock to try and prove his point, followed by lifting a small branch from the ground. "Sentient beings are in a state of symbiosis with extremely small beings, that we call midiclorians. These small beings can talk to this energy fields, and with enough training we can talk to the midiclorians and through this mutual talk, we can use this field for many things" explained Anakin, with an attentive Iroh hearing every word.
"Very interesting young man, I have never heard of anything quite like you describe" said Iroh as he pondered on what Anakin had said. "It is very different from what we have come to know regarding the bending arts."
Upon hearing the word bending, Anakin looked at Iroh with large inquisitive eyes. Sure his brother Jacen was the one who knew more about philosophy, and such matters, but recently Anakin had come to think hard about the nature of the force, and he knew he was very close to finding the answer he had searched for for a long time.
Iroh knew from Anakin's gaze, that he would have to elaborate on his answer, and so he did. "We have come to learn, that humans have great amounts of power in themselves. This power is internal, and spiritual, but with the appropriate mental, physical and spiritual balance we can let this power flow from us, and use it to bend the elements to our will" in order to prove his point, Iroh made a few small motions with his hands, and produced a flame on his palm. However the flame did not disappear, it did not extinguish itself, and Iroh extended it for a few seconds into a bright towering inferno, only to let it disappear, just as fast as it had appeared.
"However, those who have this balance can only manipulate one element at a time, and no other. Only the Avatar can control all four elements at will" said Iroh.
Suddenly Anakin saw the vision again. This time however the multi-colored flame was static, and the blue-red flame that radiated evil approached, and the two appeared to dance, only to be joined by another red flame, and all three flames danced amongst themselves, and soon some more flames joined the dance.
There where two red flames, one green flame, one light blue flame, one blue-red flame, and the multi-colored flame, the more he watched the spectacle the more he came to realize that this was exactly what Iroh was referring to. Each single flame was one bender, a person who could manipulate the elements, and the multi-colored flame must be the Avatar, the only one who could control all the elements.
Anakin was brought out of his trance by Iroh shaking him lightly and talking to him. "Are you alright young man?" asked Iroh concerned.
Anakin quickly recovered himself, and realized what had happened. "Yeah, sorry this happens every so often" said Anakin trying to remember clearly the images, but it was hard to picture them. Only two things where clear from the vision. One he would have to search for the Avatar, and two that the green flame was somehow important.
Iroh quickly got back to his place and relaxed. "What did you see young man?" asked Iroh, while a stunned Anakin looked at the grinning old man.
Anakin was surprised by the knowledge of the old man. How could he have known that he had had a vision? Did he really know that he had a vision at all, or was it just pure guess? More answers than questions rang in Anakin's head, but Anakin decided to not reveal anything he didn't have to. "I don't know what you're talking about, I just passed out. I must be more tired than I thought" said Anakin and faked a yawn, hoping the old man would buy his act.
Iroh looked at Anakin with a grin on his face, but said nothing, and simply went to his sleeping bag, and went to bed for the night.
Anakin did not know what to think of what had happened. Why had he been so cheerful at the end? Why hadn't he said anything if he knew? Again more questions than answers, and Anakin was finally feeling as tired as he had pretended to be. Putting out the fire, Anakin went to sleep, but he looked at the old man, not sure how to gauge him, but knowing, he was far more knowledgeable than he let on.
The next day Anakin and Iroh continued their walk amongst the forest. Fortunately no more bandits had approached them since the confrontation the day before, which both of them supposed was good. However the mood between the two of them was not as well.
Anakin still worried about the words that Iroh had spoken, and was still puzzled by his knowledge of his vision. However he could not bring himself to bring up the subject.
For the next few hours both of them simply continued following Zuko's trail through the forest, which seemed to mirror a pair of tracks that had been made not very long ago, but that none of them could really tell what had made them. Only that whatever it was, was big and heavy.
Again Anakin felt a presence behind them. But unlike the bandits this one felt strangely and worriedly similar to one he used to know, and for a few seconds he was inclined to investigate. Yet his more cautious side won over his more emotional side, and he forced a somewhat bewildered Iroh to step behind a rock.
"What is going on young Anakin, what do you feel?" asked Iroh in a quiet tone.
Anakin was hunched behind the rock, his hand on his new sword, ready to draw it if necessary. "I am not sure master Iroh. I feel a presence approaching us, but I am not sure what to make of it" answered Anakin in the same quiet tone, while he debate over what to do surged ever more in his mind.
Time passed slowly for the two of them, who where just waiting for the presence to pass. And slowly even Iroh began to feel the presence of the approaching stranger, as he got closer.
Both of them where quiet and still as the presence neared their stone. They felt as the presence stopped not far away from their hiding place, and Anakin tightened his grip on his sword, and just as he was about to launch himself to the unknown figure, his body was lamed into the ground.
Anakin and Iroh where sore from the sudden fall to the ground, when the mysterious presence jumped over the rock they had been using as a cover. There on top of the rock was a young girl, no older than twelve or thirteen years old, with her feet completely uncovered, a yellow/brown tunic and her hair made in sort of ball over her head.
As Anakin looked at the young girl images began to swarm his mind, feelings of a presence he never thought he would feel again, one that sent pain to his heart and joy at the same time. But the most important image was that of the girl encased in a green flame.