Summary: In a world plagued by war and suffering for the past hundred years, all hope seems lost. The ruthless Fire Nation is on the brink of victory over the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom, and nothing could halt their advance. Then one morning, two teenagers of the Water Tribe discover a beacon of hope while out fishing; the long lost Avatar, a boy named Aang. Now destiny will take its course. With the burden of saving the world on his shoulders, Aang and his new friends begin a journey of survival, friendship, and self discovery. While Aang and his friends journey to restore balance to the world, a young prince named Zuko, who has fallen from grace, will stop at nothing to restore his honor and finds his destiny clashing with Aang's.

Disclaimer: Avatar:The Last Airbender is the property of Nickelodeon. No copyright infringements have been or will be made in the writing of this story. Everything other than established locations and characters belong to me, unless cited otherwise.

Prologue: Night of Fire

The world was a place of many diverse peoples and cultures divided into four great nations. In each of these nations, there were people who had the special ability to bend – or manipulate – their land's respective element to their advantage, though not all people in the world were benders. The Water Tribes of the North and South Poles were a nation of homogeneous people who lived by their culture and customs in their beautiful ice cities. The Earth Kingdom, the largest of the Four Nations, was home to a people were as proud and strong as the element that represented them. The Fire Nation, the most powerful of the four, was an equatorial archipelago of large islands. Fire was an element representing passion, assertiveness, and creativity. These were qualities that the citizens of the Fire Nation firmly believed defined them and many of their historical figures. The last and smallest of the Four Nations were the Air Nomads who resided in temples located in the remote mountain ranges of the world. They were a peaceful people with the strongest connection to the Spirit World, and would seldom interact with the other peoples of the planet.

In each era of humankind, there was one person who was able to master all four elements; the Avatar, the human embodiment of the spirit of the planet, and the one who kept balance and peace within and between the Four Nations. When the current Avatar would die, the next one would be reincarnated into the next nation in the ongoing cycle.

Twelve years ago, Avatar Roku of the Fire Nation had mysteriously died, and based on the Avatar cycle, that could only mean that the next one was to be an Air Nomad. This was the reason that Fire Nation Colonel Ikeuchi Ryu was preparing to launch an attack on the Southern Air Temple with a mighty battalion of elite Firebenders under his command. The Fire Lord's ambition was to share the prosperity of the homeland by creating the greatest empire the world had ever seen, and the Avatar was the only one standing in his way.

The Earth Kingdom was on the brink of a unification war between the Southern Kingdom of Omashu, the Northern Kingdom of Ba Sing Se, and the smaller Southeastern Kingdom of Yuan for absolute control of the land. Poverty and hunger had resulted from the conflict, plaguing the once proud nation of the Earthbenders. There was also separation in the Water Tribes; both the North and South had all but ostracized each other over cultural differences.

The Air Nomads, despite their claims of not getting involved with the Earth Kingdom's problems, were siding with Omashu. Firelord Sozin, for one, could not just stand by and allow chaos to come the world. He would take the path of his ancestor, Shinji, and spread the glory of the Fire Nation to all their neighbors, just as Firelord Shinji made the people of the once divided Fire Nation realize the glory of the nation as a whole and united them under the banner of Agni. However, the Air Nomads took this as an act of war, and as a result, did whatever they could to hinder his dream. Recently, it had been discovered that they wished to depose the glorious sovereign.

Despite the reports, some of the soldiers in Ikeuchi's battalion were still silently questioning the Firelord's methods, such as his annexation of the Han Tui and Wangfujing Provinces of Omashu. However, Colonel Ikeuchi was in full concurrence with his leader. The Firelord had never wronged the people before, and if he thought that the Avatar would hinder the Fire Nation from their destiny of glory, then by Agni, the Colonel would do whatever it took to neutralize that hindrance.

The military Firebenders had always been a source of intimidation with their crimson, black plate armor placed over gray robes and white protective masks complementing their steel-horned helmet. One look at them would quell the resolve of any foe they would encounter. However, high-ranking officers like Ikeuchi did not sport the mask, as it was considered dishonorable for officers of his caliber or higher to hide their faces from enemies and allies alike.

The Fire Nation had waited until a great comet would soar across the planet, endowing the Firebenders with power surpassing the sun before launching their offensive. The comet would fly low enough for its tail to catch fire, thus allowing them to draw power from it. The Colonel stood at the base of the Patola Mountains, facing his soldiers. The sun was gradually setting, painting the sky with an orange, golden, and purple hue, the warm summer breeze ruffling his cape. The Firelord only wanted the best for the world by spreading the glory of their nation to the others, and how dis these Airbender vermin repay his generosity? By plotting to overthrow him! By this act of subversion against their glorious leader, they had declared war on the Fire Nation!

"This is it, men," Ikeuchi announced to the soldiers while he paced the ground in front of them, staring them down. "Once the sun sets, the comet will be upon us. Now, I know some of you may have conflicted feelings about our orders, but rest assured; any refusals, any hesitation…any hint of defiance, and it shall be met with swift retribution. Our target is the Avatar, but eliminate all who resist…actually just eliminate everyone!" Once the Colonel ceased his speech, the Major stepped forward, and executed a perfect about face to the soldiers.

"Long live the Firelord!!"

"Banzai!" The men fervently roared – raising their fists over their heads. "Banzai! Banzai!" Night took over them, but it was not the still darkness that the night usually brought, but a harsh light from above. The comet soared above them in all its glory, harshly illuminating the world with its fiery glow. It was a true wonder that a Firebender could only experience every hundred-some years, and Ikeuchi slowly breathed in its incredible power.

Exhaling for one long moment, the Colonel threw out his arms and kicked off from the ground, a jet of flame shooting from his feet as he had ascended to the top of the waiting monolith. The other Firebenders followed suit, reveling in the power that the comet gave them. At length, the battalion landed on the path leading to the temple. "Charge!" Ikeuchi roared, and they made their way up until the Colonel raised his hand to halt the advance.

The Southern Air Temple stood before them. Like its sister strongholds, it was an amazing sight to behold. Ikeuchi took in every detail of the vast white temple before him, with its spiraling towers and extensive grounds. The temple had even dwarfed the Royal Palace in Kojin, the capital of the Fire Nation. Several monks stood outside, not guarding their home, but as if they were merely on a night stroll. They were completely oblivious to the Firebenders above them. That was good, Ikeuchi thought with a grin. They had achieved surprise.

With a thunderous war cry, the battalion charged down the slope, alerting the enemy to their presence. The closest monk to Ikeuchi swung his staff and, with the aid of Airbending, sent the colonel and several men flying into the temple impact of the Colonel's body smashing against the stone sent a painful throbbing sensation through his body. He was back on his feet in an instant, glaring hatefully. "You'll pay for that!" he snarled as he swung his arm in a slashing movement. The monk's eyes widened as the enhanced fire seared through his chest. The Airbender's face contorted in agony as he slumped to the ground, never to rise again.

The four remaining monks each executed complicated motions with their arms sending discs of wind flying towards the advancing Firebenders at lightning speed striking several down. Air blades, Ikeuchi forgot about those! Launching swift jabs, he shot off dozens of flaming orbs at the remaining monks striking them to the ground. Before they could get up, the Colonel leapt into the air and threw his foot out in front of him in a semicircle to send of a wave of fire slashing across their chests.

"Move out!" With several blasts of the comet-enhanced fire, the massive front door of the temple was blown from its hinges and the soldiers stormed into the entry foyer. Upon entering, they were met by a dozen Airbenders, elite monks judging by the arrow tattoos on their hands and shaved heads. They propelled themselves from the upper landing. Ikeuchi let out a roar as he shot off a jet of fire at one of his foes. The monk jumped back and deflected the fire with a wave of his staff, sending embers flying around both forces.

Another jet of wind was set flying towards the Colonel from above, and he just barely arched his body backward to avoid being killed. Just as he was about to right himself and to send that monk to his demise, a spiraling burst of fire flew upward over his eyes, the immense heat triggering pain through his skin. This time, the Airbender was hit square in the face and Ikeuchi spun around furiously to the soldier who fired that shot. "Watch where you're shooting, you idiot!"

"Sorry, Co-" the soldier's voice trailed and then pointed his finger to the landing above the stairs, shouting, "Sir, behind you!"

Bursting out through the two massive doors on the second floor were dozens of more Airbenders to replace their comrades. Ikeuchi lanced out his left hand emitting an orb of fire twice his height. The flames sizzled through the air as the Firebenders quickly and precisely took down their enemy in minutes. The colonel's lip curled into a grin as he took in the sight of the charred remains of the warrior monks, ignoring the stench of the burnt bodies. "Captain Li," said Ikeuchi, and a taller officer turned to him. "You take your company up the left staircase and search every room. Don't let anyone escape."

"Yes, sir!"

"Captain Takeshi, you're with me. Let's go!"

"Affirmative, Colonel!"

The corridors of the temple were strangely empty, and that did not feel right to Colonel Ikeuchi. So far, they had only faced a few dozen Airbenders, and this was one of the homes of the Air Nomads. It could not be that the only ones defending the Southern Air Temple was the group back at the entrance. This seemed to be a residential area of temple, consisting of empty bedrooms and lounges. When the soldiers stopped at an intersection of the corridor, Ikeuchi quietly instructed, "First Platoon, you take the left. Second Platoon, you search the right." He glanced at the Captain. "You're staying with me, Isoroku. Let's go!"

They resumed their search, he and Takeshi had halted in front of the first door that he and Ikeuchi had seen. Both men breathed in simultaneously and threw out their fists, launching blasts of fire to burn the door down. When they stormed in, the Fire Nation officers found it to be a bedroom with enough bunks to accommodate at least ten people. The Colonel surveyed the room with a furrowed brow until his eyes rested on the spot under one of the beds.

Scoffing, he casually launched a flame from his foot inciting wails of agony from under the beds. Ikeuchi just stood there with a blank expression. Yes, he was doing his duty by destroying these vermin and if they wanted to hide the Avatar, then he would be hidden in a much more clever way.

The two officers had searched every room in the corridor, sometimes finding enemies, sometimes not. At last, they had arrived at the end of the corridor, where a heavy door hindered their advance. Attached to it, was a strange mechanism of pipes and three steel medallions bearing their nation's crest. Ikeuchi had heard of this. These doors could only be opened with Airbending. Normally, that would be a problem, but today the Firebenders had the power of the comet and that door was made of wood.

The door was reduced to ash in a matter of seconds and the mechanism fell on the floor with a clang. The room behind was some kind of training hall, and it was filled with little boys no older than twelve. A single elderly warrior monk was protecting them. He was old, but he seemed very strong for his age. The monk was more than capable of standing his ground in a fight.

Nobody said or did anything for a few tense moments until Takeshi spoke. "Tell us where the Avatar is, and we'll spare your life, old man." The kids cowered in a corner of the hall as Ikeuchi stared them down. He didn't feel the need to waste time interrogating a useless old fool like this monk! His orders were to capture the Avatar and kill all who resist.

"The Avatar?" repeated the Airbender, trying to be strong for the kids inciting cries of horror from them. "He's not in this temple-"

"Don't lie to us!" Ikeuchi shouted as he sent fire flying over the boys' heads threateningly. "Our sources say that the Avatar lives in this temple, and if you don't give him up, I'll kill each of those boys one by one!" The Airbender's face blanched and he raised his staff, but Ikeuchi made good on his word before his enemy could make one more move.

Both the monk and Captain Takeshi watched in terrible horror as the flames struck down each Air Nomad child. The horror that the officer felt soon turned into cold fury. He had no problem burning down every warrior monk in the temple, but these were kids. He forlornly thought of his son, Kuzon, back home who had called this mission nothing short of monstrous and pure evil. His eleven-year-old boy had a friend who was an Airbender, a twelve-year-old boy who had already earned his arrow tattoos.

Without even thinking about what he was doing, Isoroku Takeshi lunged at his commanding officer before he could strike down a fifth child. The Colonel slammed onto the floor and the Captain pinned him by the shoulders. "Take the children and run!" he frantically ordered the Airbender. "I'll hold him off!"

By the time Ikeuchi broke free, the Airbenders had already escaped the training hall. Soon, both Firebenders stood eye to eye, glaring hatefully at one another. "What is the meaning of this treachery, Takeshi?" Ikeuchi demanded in a low deadly tone. The men began to circle each other with their hands out in front of them, indicating that both were ready for the first strike.

"I'm not a traitor, Ikeuchi," Takeshi shot back in an icy tone. "You violate your oath as a Fire Nation soldier and dishonor the Army by killing innocent children, and you're calling me a traitor?"

The Colonel scoffed. "Spare me! I won't be lectured about honor from a man who breaks his oath to the Firelord!" He produced a sword of fire with a flick of his hand. "You will die like the traitor you are!" The Captain sprouted a long flaming whip from his. The two officers circled each other, just waiting for the other to strike first. Takeshi took the initiative; his whip arced above his head, meeting Ikeuchi's sword, the impact staggering them both. With his free hand, Ikeuchi launched a ball of flame, but it was deflected by Takeshi's own fire.

With a furious roar, Ikeuchi spun around, launching a roundhouse kick, a snake bursting towards the Captain in wake of the kick. Takeshi ducked, narrowly evading the fire. the lower ranking officer drew in a deep breath, and opened his mouth wide, exhaling a jet of bright amber flames; the coloenl's eyes widening in amazement as the flames struck him squarely in the chest.

Takeshi stood there breathing heavily. He could not believe what had just happened. He had killed a fellow Fire Nation soldier. It was likely that he would be arrested and executed for treason, but it didn't matter. Takeshi deserved to die for even taking part in this mission, and bringing shame to his family. The Firelord...he couldn't believe that he would order such vicious acts from his soldiers. Takeshi reached for his knife to finish his wounded commanding officer, but suddenly-

In a swift movement, Ikeuchi pushed himself on all fours, spinning around to launch a horizontal spiral of fire at Takeshi's feet. He jumped just in time. "A valiant attempt, Captain," the Colonel growled with a sardonic grin.

Seeing that this would go nowhere with Firebending, the Colonel slammed his palm into his new enemy's chest, throwing him back a few feet. Taking advantage of the time Takeshi took to right himself, Ikeuchi's fire sword wrenched through his enemy's heart. The Captain's hateful stare soon turned to cries of utter agony as the flames slowly consumed his innards, but the Colonel did not extinguish the flames until Takeshi slumped to the floor. Molten armor and charred remains were all that was left of Captain Isoroku Takeshi.

As Colonel Ikeuchi made his way out of the temple, he realized that it was completely devoid of any living people. He needed to find that old monk and those kids. There was no way he would be leaving this place without the Avatar.

Once he was outside again, he found that the battle had progressed to the grounds in the back of the temple. The light from the comet still overrode the darkness of the night. The remaining warrior monks fought as hard as they could against Ikeuchi's battalion, but their numbers were gradually dwindling. The Colonel dashed into the fray, as fire bellowed from the soldiers' ranks like angry dragons looking to atomize their prey. The Airbenders' efforts to deflect the flames were useless, and within a half hour, Ikeuchi's Firebending had destroyed the last of the warrior monks.

At last, he had found them, the old monk and the children who had escaped him. Ikeuchi snarled and threw out his arms to glide to the enemy, flames emanating from his hands and feet. The cold mountain wind blew in the Colonel's face as he hovered above them. With an armadillo-lionlike roar, he aimed his hands at his target and let out a fiery jet to destroy them. The children were consumed in a matter of seconds, but the monk, swung his staff to send the fire flying away from him.

Ikeuchi launched another wave of fire, and it was once again deflected. The chase took both men to one of the small outer buildings; the only one still standing. The monk took refuge in there, and Ikeuchi spotted several soldiers charging in as he once again placed his feet on the ground. There were several orange and yellow flashes from within the building for several minutes, and the Colonel had had enough.

Once he burst through the curtain, his anger grew. Scattered throughout the small shack, were the bodies of at least a dozen soldiers, all of whom had been indirectly killed by Firebending. The Colonel and the Airbender locked eyes for the second time that night. "Airbender, your race has been run!" Ikeuchi bellowed, throwing off his helmet. "This is your last chance; tell me where the Avatar is and I'll let you go!"

The Airbender's face darkened at the Colonel's demand. "You will have to kill me then. The Avatar's gone." Ikeuchi recoiled at this response. This could not be, the Avatar lived in this temple, and this old fool was trying to play him by telling him that the Fire Nation had wasted their time coming here?

"You're in no position to lie to me!" He shot an orb of fire at the monk's feet causing him to slump against the wall.

"I…I'm telling you the t…truth," the monk weakly responded, but there was still a hint of defiance in his eye. With a furious cry, Ikeuchi swung his arm in an arc to send a wheel of fire at the monk. The flames seared cleanly through the Airbender's body, cutting him in half.

Ikeuchi wiped the blood off his face disgustedly and stormed out of the building to meet up with the remainder of his forces. "Send a messenger hawk to the Fire Lord," he commanded to one of his soldiers. "Tell him that the Avatar escaped."

They had managed to destroy every resident of this temple, along with the sky bison, but they had failed to find the Avatar. The Colonel had a bad feeling in his gut that the forces attacking the other temples had not been anymore successful than they were. The Avatar was out there somewhere; the Fire Nation's greatest threat, the last Airbender.

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A/N: Well, here I am braving a novelization of Avatar. Meaning an adaption of the original story. But it won't be the script of the sixty-one episodes in the form of a novel, that would just be boring. I'm taking a lot creative liberty by eliminating/adding/changing things here and there without seriously altering the plot. Some additions will include the in-between episodes moments. Now, as my readers, I'm asking you to help me out here. Pull back no punches in telling me what I'm doing wrong because Avatar: The Last Airbender is a great story, and I wish to do it justice. However, one change I won't compromise on is that the story will take place over the course of three years. I mean, that still really isn't a lot of time for Aang to master the elements. I think it took Roku over a decade to master them. So Sozin's Comet doesn't come every century exactly, more like every hundred-some years.