Hellooo,, yooo hooo... anyone there. Okay this fic is officially completed, but due to the amount of responses I have gotten the muse finally struck. Warning this is unbeta'ed. Muse struck hard, and I have been writing for the last 5 hours. So forgive mistakes or tell me exactly where I went wrong. This is a treat and a thank you for all the readers and for their support. Its a bit strange, a one off of a possible future. I hope you enjoy it. Please do give feedback if you like it.
Read, review and enjoy
Eternally mutual prey
The dreamer dreamed.
Time moved forward, a thousand, two thousand, three thousand years into the future. Many changes had occurred the world was different, alien.
The time of benders, non-benders had controlled the world as far as they could remember. With the advancement of technology and machines, bending was seen as a throw-back, limited in use. Its power all but forgotten, as trees made way for concrete jungles, waters were polluted and the air filled with strange chemicals. In a world of technology, nature was secondary.
They were warned, but who paid attention to the seemingly endless ranting of those against progress. They were warned, but the technologically advanced paid no heed to those who focused on things they could not see and touch. They were warned, but the logical did not care to listen to what seemed to be fairy tales and empty myths.
And so the pendulum swung. And as the age of benders had ended so too the age of technology fell.
An errant comet slammed into their sun. It released an electromagnetic wave that shook the plant to its foundations. Overnight technology died, aero planes fell out of the skies, satellites shut down and many fell out of orbit, crashing into the world below. Communication, entertainment, transportation, military, everything just died. The planet went dark.
But that was just the beginning. The force of the solar wave, cause the planet to shift off its axis. The earth shook and broke. Cities disappeared into the earth, mountain ranges collapsed even as new ranges were born. Mega Tsunamis swept the already beleaguered coastlines. Chaos did not begin to describe the extent of the devastation that was unleashed.
When it seemed that all was lost, that the earth would be destroyed by the impact of the cosmic accident, the earth itself rebelled and the legend was reborn.
From the ashes the Avathar arose. Long forgotten, untrained and new, the call of the elements awoke long buried memories within the one who could command the four elements. With no time to spare, to answer the desperate call, the new born Avatar was forced to embrace her full power. The ancients providing the knowledge to do what she must.
The Avatar rose to the outer edges of the atmosphere, and focused all her powers on holding the trembling planet together, on healing it. For a full revolution of the planet the Avathar stayed suspended in space. Like a star of hope in the day and night sky. Slowly but surely, she healed the damage on a planetary scale. Strengthening the planet's orbit and stabilizing the core.
Only when the planet was stable, the Avathar fell to the earth. When she recovered it was time to address the needs of the surviving creatures inhibiting the once prosperous planet. This task the Avatar could not do alone.
Those of skill and ability answered the Avatar's call. The Avatar's team slowly moved through the lands bringing sanity and peace to lands gone savage. Finding and training those with innate bending ability to help in the re-emergence of civilization. It took eight years of continuous work to create strategically placed safe havens for the majority of surviving humans and animals to populate. These were small, but they were the start of a rebuilding that would consume lifetimes.
Once the majority of that that had survived had been seen to, could they afford the time, to search for the small pockets of humans who may have survived and been cut off from assistance. To look and the twisted half buried mass of what was once great cities and try to find survivors within the deformed warrens.
:D :X :P
The teen ran through the darkness. His heavy breathing the only audible sound. He did not slow his pace however, such carelessness led to death. The Wraith-worms were silent predators, they gave no warning of their presence. They devoured all that were foolish enough to believe that silence in the darkness meant safety.
Bare feet slapped against the ground, the metal tubing clenched in his fist, the boy ran hoping he was going in the right direction.
His lungs ached as he turned the corner. But that was nothing new. Ever since the earth had swallowed him, the air had been wrong, poisoned, dead. The sun and the stars were memories that at times seemed but a dream. His reality had long been dark twisted corridors and a shattered world that was lit only by small fires.
The corrupted air within the tunnels could sustain not sustain large fires. They could barely sustain the lives of those trapped within. They knew it, the very air they breathed would one day kill them. So they had tried to work their way out, to find the sunlight again.
But they had gone the wrong way, fooled by magnetic elements, they had moved sideways instead of up. Two years ago, instead of finding freedom, they had released a nightmare. The tunnelers had broken through a metal wall, and given the worm-wraiths access to their tunnels.
What had originally been a pathetic existence overnight became horrible. Of the many thousands who had managed to survived in the buried city, more than half had been hunted and eaten by the worms. What little hope they had died daily as their numbers dwindled.
"Run, just run." He whispered as he pushed his body beyond its limits. To escape the pain, his mind flashed back. To the last time he had seen the sun. He had been young, seven or eight years old. He had loved school, if only he hadn't. If only he had thrown tantrums and not left his parents side, then maybe he would be lost or dead with them.
Instead he had been in school when the cataclysm struck. First everything had died, nothing worked and despite their best efforts to keep the children calm, people had panicked. Many children running away. He had not run, even then he was brave. He tried to keep others calm. Not knowing what to do, they had waited in school.
Parents had forsaken their cars, many fought their way through chaos to reach the school. He could never really be sure but he thought he had seen them. Standing at the window, looking out at the chaos, he thought he had seen them. He could never be certain, because as he stood to check, the earth broke. All he remembered was the concrete turning to dust under his feet. Explosions, sounds loud and terrible all around him, and screaming, his own voice screaming as the earth swallowed him and most of the city, blocking off the light of the sun.
He never knew how he survived. When he finally awoke, the world was dark around him. He was found by a group of other survivors. The buildings that they had been in had saved them from death. The huge structures creating a messed up warren, buried under the earth. The man made structures were their salvation and their tomb.
Buried under the earth, after a time, the forgotten powers of earth bending began to awaken in some of the survivors. Small and weak, it was a source of hope for the trapped humans. Those that could bend the earth became the leaders, the tunnelers of the group. And as their skills grew they had tried to create an escape tunnel.
His breathing choked a little as he remembered them. They had been so brave and strong. Magical in his eyes. More than anything he had wanted to be one of them, but the earth was cold to him. All he could do was fetch and carry and support their efforts. His eyes burned with tears that could not be shed, why did they have to die.
They had broken through the steel wall, they had led the way. They had been the first to die in the jaws of the Wraith-worms. They had lost the best among them, and there had been no time to mourn. Since then the thought of escape had become another crushed dream, all their energy was focused on destroying the monsters and surviving.
A crevice to his right exploded outwards. Steak knife sized teeth aided at this warmth. Without hesitation the teen leapt back, and slammed the metal pipe down. Knocking back the monster. He leapt up, his left foot kicked the wall propelling him higher. He reversed the pipe and braced. His entire body weight behind it, with a feral roar the pipe was driven through the head of the monster. It tried to twist, to bite at him. But he was ready for it, using the momentum of the monster's own movement he forced the pipe out of the creature tearing its body. He was careful not to sever its head totally, for that action only created two worms. Instead he left it torn and hanging, its bodily juices slowly leaking out.
There was no hesitation as he reached out and grabbed a chunk of the soft exposed inner tissue. The flesh of adolescent Wraith worm, was nutrition rich. The adult flesh was harder and toxic, impossible to consume. But the adolescent worms, had been a strange god send. Without their flesh, the survivors would not have found the protein source to fight the adult attacks. He quickly swallowed the jelly-like flesh.
He began to run even as he licked the worm juice on his hands. The only problem with killing a Wraith worm so far from help was that the stench of death would quickly draw the adults.
The echoing sound of his steps were broken by a scuffle and a roar. "Shit" he swore. The adults had been closer than he expected. He hoped desperately that they would be satisfied with the body of the adolescent, that they would ignore the small vibrations he made as he increased his speed. He hoped, but he knew he hoped in vain.
He was too far from familiar roads, he was cut off from any who could help him. All he could do was keep running in the darkness and fight. He was going to die, alone in the dark, but by he would take as many of the blasted worms that he could with him.
"No, fucking regrets!" He wheeze out the words through gritted teeth. By his actions he had given the colony a chance. The colony still had a possible hope, a few younger earth benders had emerged. Too young and new to their powers to be of real help, they were the most precious beings that the colony had. By what he had done, they now had a chance to survive long enough to be strong and take the rest of the colony to the sun.
He could not bend earth, he was just a trapped teen. Trapped in more ways than one.
Inside him was so much more, he knew if things had been different he could have been so much more. But now, here he was nothing. He was frozen. The tainted water, thin air, cold darkness it weighed on him, petrified his spirit and his soul.
Inside he howled like some lost feral creature. There was rage inside, boiling and churning anger. It exploded when he fought. It was his one true outlet. Yet the anger and the battle fed the rage, fed the twisted mass in his heart. Everything else inside him was trapped and alone. Slowly twisting, his rage was growing. He was becoming increasingly feral each day.
His mind was slowly being pushed to the abyss of madness, he knew this.
He no longer really trusted himself around other people. When he fought he did not see them, could not hear or feel anything except the desire to release the pressure within him. To kill. Others had begun to see that too. The young benders he had protected for the last two years, were now uneasy in his presence. The others feared him, the silent warrior, so young and yet so deadly in battle, too deadly. As his skill and his ferocity increased so did his sense of alienation, the yawning darkness inside him.
Before he made their fears a reality, he planned, he strategized.
"As long as the Wraith worms have a path from their spawning grounds to us, they will keep picking at our numbers, until we are all bloody dead." his low voice almost growled out the words.
The colony elder raised a brow, it was rare for the young one to approach him, let alone speak. "Young guard, you are not one to repeat useless information without reason. What is your purpose for saying this."
His eyes reflected the torchlight, he crossed his arms and spoke with confidence. "I have scouted the tunnels, the original hole made by the tunnelers is truly the main tunnel that the creatures used. We need to block it."
"We are aware of that young one. We brought down the bloody ceiling to block the passage, but those things broke through." The elder replied, in a strangely patient manner.
"Yes, they ate their way through, because we used earth and stone to block that tunnel. We need to block it with metal." The young one answered, he shadowy figure waved his hand to forestall the elders next words. "Yes I know we do not have enough metal, well...not own our side of the tunnel at least." He paused, and was not disappointed when the old one caught his words.
"On our side? You mean?"
"Yes, I saw it. I broke the rules and scouted the tunnels by myself. Do not funcking say anything, I am alive and I have a way for us to stay alive." He snapped before the elder began a lecture. "The metal we need to seal the tunnels is on the Wraith Worms side. There are huge metal boxes stacked high. The building that serves as a tunnel must have been a store factory or something. If we set off explosives under the metal just right, we can topple them down on the opening, without weakening the actual factory. It may not be a permanent fix, but it will definitely buy us time for the benders to get stronger."
"Well Jax, you seem to have it all worked out. Tell us your plan."
The teen's winch went unnoticed in the flickering dark. Jax that was the name they called him, the name his parents had called him. But now, hearing it grated. Increasingly it felt wrong as well. Every Time he was called that he felt hollow, empty. He had stopped saying the name five years ago, and he could not remember the last time he had referred to himself by that name. His own name felt wrong. His lips twisted in a grimace it was just another symptom of his encroaching madness.
They had worked on his plan for two months. Gathering and preparing explosives, planning diversions and discussing the escape. The younger ones, the benders did not see it, they would have never gone along if they had. The older ones saw it, they knew, but they also knew of the growing sense of rage within the young guard. They held their silence.
The plan was executed beautifully. The creatures were distracted, the path was cleared and the team ran in, with the long fuse to set the bombs. Timed exactly, the team ran out just as the creatures returned.
Finally the young benders saw it. Saw the monsters return, the slime trail their bodies generated, covered the long fuse. There was no way they could trigger the bombs. They were about to shout when they noticed the adult's gaze reverted at a different point. They did scream, they had to be held back, when they saw Jax stand on the inside, lite the true short fuse, and run deeper into the worm tunnels. The bombs exploded, the stack of metal boxes swayed and toppled, squashing worms as it cut off the entryway, and left Jax in the dark.
Since then Jax had been running and hiding. Catching sleep in metallic areas when he could. Days or weeks, he had no idea. All he could do was run in the endless warren, run and fight and die. He had been lucky, but that luck was running out.
Hours or days later, his luck or more precisely the tunnels finally ran out. His hand beat against the concrete wall, dead end. The long stretch of tunnel he had through lead to a fucking dead end. He knew the worms were on his trail. Adults the size of freight trains, were coming for him. He braced his steel pipe like a spear and turned to face the entry. At least only one bloody worm could come at him. No way he could kill the adult, but he would hurt the bloody thing so much its comrades would turn on it, and take revenge on his behalf.
Wild desperation in his eyes, he growled. He could see the flash teeth longer than his own thin arms in the dark. It was coming straight at him. He screamed in challenge, his thin body was slammed against the wall as his the world seemed to explode.
:) :X :( :o :0
"General, are you sure about this?" the earth bender asked.
"Toph! Do you have a problem obeying orders? Just do it." the general said shortly. He ignored the raised eyebrows of the short sighted earthbender. For someone who had difficulty differentiating faces from five feet away, she saw too damn much.
Of course he was not sure. He was sure of nothing, he knew of what he hoped for, what he dreamer for. But sure? In his 28-years he had been disappointed too many times to be sure of anything.
He had been in training in police academy when the catastrophe had struck. He had been lucky, the city he had been in had been flattened but not swallowed by the buckling earth. In those first few months, hell would be the best way to describe the earth. He lost count of how many people he had saved, of how many people he had killed in those days. He could barely remember the details, just nightmare flashes.
His first clear memory was of the human shaped star in the sky, that rose and set like a new sun, a new hope.
The Avatar had healed the land, it had been his beacon of sanity. In that first year of madness, when the earth itself seemed bent on destroying them, with hail, floods and killing winds, glimpses of the Avatar had been the one solace for many across the world. When the fury of the earth finally calmed, he had not been surprised to see the beacon its task complete, flicker and float down from the sky. A part of him had been expecting it.
He and two others had reached the found the Avatar at about the same time. The elderly woman dressed in blue, had welcomed them to the small campfire, where the Avatar slept. Recovering from her year long task.
From then he had served the Avatar. The elderly woman Lady Lekka, was one of the few members of the Water Sect, the temple dedicated to preserving the ancient way of Water Bending. The new Avatar Kara's first ability had been to bend water, she had been a new pupil in the small temple, they had not guessed she was the legendary Avatar. Lady Lekka had told them the old tales of how the world had once been separated into different tribes based on the ability to bend. As the world became more technological and bending abilities waned, more mixing among the races occurred. Finally, in their time a single family could have all kinds of benders.
Bending was not based on lineage but rather the affiliation of the individual's soul to the elements. Still, they had all been a little surprised when they had met for siblings, each with the ability to bend a different element.
Serving the Avatar, he had fought bandits, rebuilt cities, saved people every kind of situation imaginable. Slowly but surely, their team had grown and they brought a semblance of peace back to the torn lands. From a member of a team, he had become a hero, a leader and finally a general of the single individual that anyone recognized as their leader, the Avatar.
Kara had not liked this. She was determined to make all others leaders and give herself a more advisory role. He had no issues with that, except the General had known that Kara was ready to make him one of the rulers. He could not do that, not yet. Before took a permanent position anyway he needed to find the missing piece of his soul.
At first it had been a whisper, a nagging of his senses. There was always something not quite right, a hollowness in his life that nothing and no one seemed to be able to fill. Slowly, like the gentle but relentless rising tides of the oceans, the nagging grew stronger, sharper. Five years ago the dreams has started, initially they had been vague, as comforting as they had been disturbing.
The two years ago, something clicked, and he began to remember to understand the meaning of the dreams. There was a dawning wonder and an equal horror as he understood that no matter what he had accomplished, it was just a drop in comparison to the duty of his soul. to be whole, he had to, needed to find the part of him that was missing.
However, he was a leader and at the time with the utter chaos of the lands, regardless of his personal pain he had been forced to put that mission aside. Now, in the relative peace, his personal mission consumed him.
The urgency of the call in the last few months had grown, and for the first time in ten years he had left the Avatars side. And Kara seeing his desperate need had with a heavy heart allowed him to go.
The General knew that while his dreams had unfolded the past to him, the piece of his soul was cut off from nature. Focused on survival, surrounded by toxins and poisons, his soulmate was unaware of him, of his presence. His soulmate believed that he or she was alone in the world, and the very thought caused the general to grieve. All he had was a feeling of the general direction his soulmate was in, he could only follow his instincts, and he had been wrong more than once.
Still his instinct was all he had, and that led him to where he was now. Tunnelling miles underground, in an area Toph swore was full of Wraith worms and had no hope of human habitation. Still his heart, his soul tugged at him. He could not ignore it.
He inhaled deeply and drew his sword, in preparation for any Wraith worms that they may encounter beyond the metal and concrete barrier. He gave the signal, and Toph with a sharp gesture imploded the wall.
:D :X :( :8
Gore splattered him. Jax thought he had surely died. His aching body, told a different story and the teen gritting his teeth against the pain rolled and stood to attack.
He blinked and he blinked again. He must have gone insane. He blinked for a third time.
The apparition remained in place. Instead of killed teeth, a figure cloaked in light brighter then he had seen in many years stood wiping his sword of Wraith worm residue. The figure gestured to the others to deal with any other worms that followed the first one, Jax did not notice this. His eyes were locked on the figure, then the figure turned to him. He growled, the confusion of emotions and fear overflowing, he braced to attack.
The General felt rather then saw the presence of someone to his side. He turned sharply, his eyes narrowed on a painfully thin youth, dressed only in ragged pants. His hair was matted, his body was covered with dirt and muck. His thin hands clenched at a steel pipe, as he growled in challenge. The youth's eyes were wild, desperate and with a hint of madness.
The youth swung the pipe, the General saw it coming, but did nothing. The pipe hit the side of his face, from the side of his left eye to his neck. Blood gushed forth.
Warm blood splattered his face. The teen raised the pipe to hit again, a droplet fell on his lips, he instinctively licked, and midswing he froze. He stared at the man who stood unmoving before him. His tongue darted out, seeking more droplets of blood. The blood lust faded completely from his system. The metal pipe crashed to the floor. He stood there frozen, confused.
Slowly the bleeding man, knelt on one knee. A slow smile stretched across his lips. The youth caught his breath, he had never seen anything so beautiful as the man before him. The main raised an open palm to him, patient waiting. The teen, his mind felt overloaded nothing seemed to make sense, just stared at the open palm.
Finally the man said in a voice that washed across the teen with its warmth. "I am so sorry. But I did warn you did I not?" The youth titled his head, he had not yet grasped the meaning of the words. The man's smile grew wider the tone if possible got even warmer. "I warned you, that if you did not find me, I would find you. And I have found you. Finally Zuko, my beloved Lord Zuko."
It was the words, it was the name, it was the man. It clicked, his world shifted. In that moment it turned upside down and clicked completely in place. He did not know where the word came from but it tumbled from his cracked lips. "Sokka!" He whispered, he allowed his body to relax, and he was caught by strong arms.
With all his strength he laced his arms around the powerful neck, buried his nose in warm hair, and breathed in home. He was safe, he was loved and he was home. The dam broke inside him and he was finally carried out into the sunlight.
Toph blinked, her physical eyes may be weak, but her other senses did not lie.
As they had knelt on the earth, superimposed on her General cradling the boy, she had 'seen' a Wolfhawk, full grown and powerful, curled protectively around the two. No the three. From out of the youth what seemed to be a young dragon spirit emerged. Cut off from the sun and the clean air that fueled flame the dragon spirit seemed damaged and in pain. Gently the WolfHawk curled a protective wing around the dragon, as he leaned forward to comfortingly lick and heal the injured Spirit. Toph smiled, just when you this the world could not get any more exciting... She followed them into the light.
:D :X :8 :)
The dreamer slowly opened his eyes. A soft smile painted across his face.
Mr. Pillow was rather rudely smacked across his face.
Golden eyes glared at him. "Hey Sokka, you have cheek. Falling asleep on my lap and then smiling that weird smile while I'm working. Just what have you been dreaming of huh?" Zuko demanded with a good dose of childish jealousy and envy.
He was the FireLord he wanted to sleep too, but no, he got stuck with paperwork. So what did his obnoxious mate do? Fall asleep, using his lap as a pillow. That was fine, but to have weird dreams and then smile so lovingly, leaving him FiroLord Zuko out, that was unacceptable.
Sokka continued to smile, as he reached up and pulled Zuko's head in for a long kiss, that ignited Zuko's fire.
Sokka rather seriously nibbled on Zuko's ear. "I was dreaming of you, what else can make me smile?" His lips sought Zuko's again, then he pulled back to look deep into golden eyes. "Always remember Zuko, if you do not find me, no matter what I will find you. We are eternally mutual prey. No matter how bad it is, I will always find you. Always."
They made love until they were bathed in dawn's early light.
- The end-
Hope you enjoyed it. Heheheh how many of you guessed who was Sokka and who was Zuko. Please share I was deliberately trying to confuse you. Did I succeed? This is totally unbeta'd and Im to impatient to not post after such a long time. So please tell me if you loved it, hated it etc. This fic remains completed, but if you think stuff like this is worth reading, when the muse strikes, I may add other epilogue chapters. If you want to see more versions of the future or you think this deserves a part two Please review with what you want to see. You definitely need to tell me if you think this deserves a second part because at the moment as I mentioned it's a stand alone. Thanks for all the support!