Author's Note: Some things will stay a bit true to the current Ava-verse. But some will not. Enjoy! :)
BANG! BANG! BANG!
"Shit! Why of all times did you decide on now to break down? C'mon dammit! The cargo ship is coming and they are going to want fresh water." A tall, dark-hared teenager tossed aside the hammer he had been using and instead grabbed a rusty, old wrench from a toolbox that had clearly seen better days and began banging once more on the water filtration unit.
The boy pounded on the offending piece of machinery with the wrench a few more times before the filtration unit sputtered to life for a few brief moments only to shudder once again to a full stop, curls of smoke extending out.
The boy sighed and threw up his hands in defeat. "I give up." He mumbled to himself. It wasn't the first time the old machine had broken down. He had been pestering his father for new parts, but there were none to be found and after several inquiries to the cargo ships they traded with, the boy had come to the realization that he was just going to have to continue to do battle with the temperamental hunk of metal.
Thankfully, he had a back up plan for just such emergencies.
"Kataraaaaaaaaa!" He bellowed. "I need your freaky powers!"
The heavy door of the building swung open and a teenage girl stuck her head out, eyes narrowed in irritation.
"My powers aren't freaky." She said indignantly. "It's called Wa-ter ben-ding." She enunciated each syllable, her voice rising with each one.
"Okay, okay. Whatever."
"Okay, okay, whatever nothing." Katara put her hands on her hips and glared at him. "You always make fun of my bending but then want me to fix your stupid hunk of metal whenever it breaks down! Well you can just fix it yourself!"
"C'mon Katara, this "stupid hunk of metal" as you call it is the only reason we survive out here. Do you think the cargo ships would give a damn about us if we didn't have the fresh water?" Sokka moved close to his sister and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, smiling. "Beside you know that old saying: 'You only tease the ones you love.' I know your bending is important. But you're my sister. It's my job to tease you. Something in the 'Big Brother's Handbook,' I think."
Katara sighed heavily and shook his arm from her shoulders. She knew he was right and she hated it. Sokka had this infuriating habit of being right more often than not. But it didn't mean she was going to let him off the hook, she would have to think up some other way to get back at him.
"Fine." She said in a clipped tone, raising her arms and with a few flicks of the wrist and the graceful movement of her arms, the water that had been clogging and freezing up the components of the filtration unit was now removed. Sokka pressed the starter button and the machine came to life.
"Yes!" He pumped a fist in the air. "Purring like a kitten-whale."
Sokka gave his sister a quick hug. "C'mon little sister. You can't stay mad forever. Besides the ship will be coming soon. And that means real food." He grinned at the prospect of eating something other than rice and frozen cave-berries.
Laughter echoed through the halls of the Southern Air Temple as a young boy balanced on a ball of air zipped by the startled face of his mentor, swirling up leaves and rustling the pages of the book the old man was reading.
"See Gyatso!" The boy cried excitedly. "I told you this trick I made up was a good one."
He suddenly came to a stop, the air dissipating gently under his feet. The elderly man closed his book and stood before clapping his young charge on the shoulder, smiling proudly.
"Yes it is. And it earned you those tattoos, as I knew it would. You progressed quickly, my young one." Gyatso grinned mischievously, tapping a finger on the blue arrow tattooed on the boy's forehead. "And it earned me 5 gold pieces in the instructors' pool."
"You bet on me." Aang laughed. "So where are my gold pieces? I did do all the work."
"Yes, but a wise man takes the opportunity for reward when he sees it." The old man began to walk down the vine covered hallway. "Now, if you are still interested in games, Aang, how about a game of Pai Sho?"
Young Aang ran to catch up, always eager to play against his mentor. The boy was exceptional; an airbending prodigy, twelve year-old Aang was the pride and joy of Gyatso and the older man loved the youngster as if he were he own son.
The boy's story was a rather sad one. Aang's mother had died in childbirth and his father, so consumed with grief had decided to fully detach himself from all worldly things and left his newborn son in the place where he had been born – the Eastern air temple. Mindful of the timing of his birth, the nuns of the temple waited until the smiling, lovable little infant could be tested to see if he in fact was the Avatar.
The test itself had not changed over the thousands of years since the Avatar spirit had made its presence known in the world. Children born in the two-week period following the death of the previous Avatar were monitored closely for any signs that the Avatar had been reborn. Early bending abilities, certain traits in temperament like an unusual calm, early development in things like walking or teething was considered to be signs. But the definitive test was issued when the child was just over a year old. Little airbender children were taken to the Southern Air Temple to take the test under the watchful eyes of some of the most respected airbenders in the world. And it was there that Gyatso would become the most important person in young Aang's life.
It had taken little Aang only a couple of moments to pick the four Avatar relics from the pile of toys. There was no hesitation and no guessing, the boy reaching out and grasping happily in his chubby infant hands the toys that would seal his fate.
It was a fate that Gyatso tried his hardest to keep from overtaking young Aang's life. The other elder monks disapproved of keeping the boy totally in the dark about who he was, but Gyatso insisted on it.
'Let the boy have something of a childhood. It will do no good to keep him from having one.'
Of course this caused friction amongst the elders and as Gyatso watched Aang's round young face light up with smiles and laughter as they played Pai Sho, he knew all the struggle was worth it.
The duties of the Avatar would come soon enough. And if the rumors were true, so would war.