A/N: I wasn't sure if I would ever write a fanfic again. I feel like college had somehow sucked all the creative juices flowing through my brain, leaving me with some utterly ridiculous writer's block. But here I am, writing an Avatar fanfic. :) I hope that I finish this one because I have a few other fanfics that I just left incomplete. This idea has been in my head for a while now, though I was thinking of using Zuko instead of Jet. Hopefully the first chapter won't be too terrible. Enjoy.
A/N-2: I am going to try editing the story with the hopes of picking it up this month. I think I have a better idea of what direction I'm going with this than I did back then. (March 2013)
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender and its characters. Those belong to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.
In the middle of an Earth Kingdom forest, a trail of smoke rose above the treetops and into the night sky. The smoke came from a small camp site. Jet had just finished pitching the last of three tents before he took a seat by the the fire. Today's catch - some fish from a nearby river - was slowly cooking to perfection. While he should have been excited that dinner was just around the corner, his mind was preoccupied.
When things were this quiet, it was hard not to think of the past. His encounter with the Avatar and his failure had ultimately left to the disbanding of the Freedom Fighters. He didn't know where Pipsqueak or the Duke were. In fact, he didn't know where a lot of them had gone off, too. All he knew was that Longshot and Smellerbee hadn't abandoned him, which was more than he had expected. He wouldn't complain though and it was something he couldn't take for granted either. Maybe with luck, things would improve.
Smellerbee and Longshot finally emerged from the bushes. "Are all the traps set?" Jet asked, turning around.
"Yeah," Smellerbee replied. She took a seat next to the fire and Longshot sat down next to her. Smellerbee stared out into the forest where the last trap had been set. "But I doubt any Fire Nation soldiers would be out here."
"There's no guarantee of that," Jet stated. Jet noticed a twig on the ground and picked it up. He took a knife out and started to shave the twig. "The Fire Nation can be anywhere and I'm not about to let them sneak up on us." He met Longshot's gaze and sighed. "Maybe you're right, Longshot. Maybe I am a little paranoid but still: you can never be too careful."
Smellerbee and Longshot quietly exchanged looks. They agreed that a change of subject was needed. Smellerbee looked at the fire. "Are the fish almost done, Jet?"
"Almost," Jet replied. "It'll be a few more minutes until they're ready."
The three Freedom Fighters immediately stood up in alarm. Jet pulled out his double hook swords. Longshot grabbed his bow and his quiver, sliding it onto his back. Smellerbee grabbed the weapon closest to her, a dagger. They started walking into the forest, trying to spot the trap that had gone off. It didn't take long. It had been one of their specialties; the spherical cavities that went off the moment someone walked on them.
Jet smirked, looking up at the swinging cage. "See Smellerbee? The traps were useful after all."He tried to get a good look at the person but even with the fireglow behind him, the person was too high in the trees for him to see. "Who are you?"
The trap swayed back and forth in the air as the person struggled to move. Jet tried again. "Who are you?"
The trap swung a little more slowly. Finally, he heard the person speak. It was a girl from the sound of her voice. "I'm not Fire Nation, if that's what you're worried about."
Jet narrowed his eyes. "And how would we know that you're not lying?"
"If I was Fire Nation, I would have already blasted flames at you. I wouldn't waste time talking to you."
"Maybe you're a non-bender," Jet countered.
Longshot tapped Jet and Smellerbee on the shoulder. The group exchanged looks before Jet looked back up at the trap. "Good point." If the person was up to no good, the fight would be in their favor based on numbers and the three of them were not new to combat. "Go ahead, Longshot."
Longshot pulled an arrow from his quiver and notched it on his bow. Then he drew the string back and fired. Soon after, the wooden contraption came hurtling to the ground. The girl's screams only lasted as long as the fall did. Surprisingly the cage didn't crack open on impact. Longshot walked over to it and unlatched the top, causing it to fall apart.
Jet took a good look at the girl. Green eyes and brown hair, green robes that probably had once been silky to the touch now tattered and even partially ripped, dirt-covered skin and shoeless feet – this girl was a mess. Judging by her eye color and garments, it seemed that she was indeed from the Earth Kingdom. The initial apprehension Jet had almost vanished.
"What are we going to do with her, Jet?" Smellerbee asked.
Jet closed his eyes, mulling it over. "She must be hungry," he replied, opening them. "Let's give her something to eat."
The girl eagerly bit into her second fish. She was a big fan of fish but for some reason, this was the best she had ever tasted. Maybe it simply tasted so wonderful because she had been hungry for a while. She was certain the way she was devouring the fish wasn't very lady-like but considering the condition of her clothes and the dirt on her skin, did it really matter at this point? Besides, after all the crap she had been through the past few days, this was the best thing that had happened and it didn't require her to be lady-like. A campfire, food, shelter – really three tents – made her situation finally bearable. Not to mention that she had people to talk to other than herself.
She finished the fish in a matter of minutes and threw the bones in the bushes. Her green eyes stared at the last fish by the fire. She had eaten two; everyone else had eaten one. Would it be greedy to ask for a third one? "Is anyone else still hungry?"
Jet, the only person she knew by name, raised his eyebrows. "You want more?"
She nodded eagerly and a moment later, another fish was in her hands. She bit into it and grinned happily. She was almost certain that she looked like an idiot now, a greedy one at that. She heard the boy clear his throat and she immediately looked at him.
"We didn't get the chance to properly introduce ourselves," the leader said, the piece of twig moving up and down between his lips. "I'm Jet. And these are my Freedom Fighters, Smellerbee and Longshot. We're also from the Earth Kingdom but our homes were destroyed. We're just travelers, kinda like you are."
She resisted taking another bite out of the fish in her hands. "I'm sorry to hear that," she said, already feeling some sympathy. "My home was taken over by the Fire Nation not too long ago. That's pretty much the reason why I'm out here by myself."
"I see," Jet said. "It was that bad that you couldn't handle it anymore."
Her fingers took the loose hairs by the side of her face and placed them behind her ear. "I guess it was."
Although a curious look came across his face, Jet didn't question her statement and the girl appreciated that. "So what's your name?"
"My name?" The girl seemed to be caught off guard by his question. When Jet nodded, she turned away from him. Her hand reached to put some hair behind her ear but then she realized that there was none to move. Her hand fell back down to her lap. "My name is Sanyi," she said carefully.
She nodded. "I was named after my grandmother." She took a bite out of her fish again, this time with more control. She was wondering what else she could say about truth, there wasn't much she wanted to share tonight. Luckily, when Jet spoke up again, it wasn't another question.
"I'm heading to bed," Jet announced as he got up. He looked down at the new girl. "You can share a tent with Smellerbee."
The girl frowned. "I'm not trying to be rude or anything but wouldn't it make a little more sense for Smellerbee to share a tent with Longshot or even you?"
Jet smirked at her misunderstanding. "Really? I thought it was a little awkward for girls to share tents with boys?"
The girl blinked and then it hit her. "Oh. Right. Of course." She glanced at Smellerbee for a quick second, surprised that she hadn't realized that Smellerbee was indeed a girl. She hoped Smellerbee didn't know what she had meant by her question.
Jet walked into the tent and a few minutes later Smellerbee and Longshot went to their tents as well, saying their goodnights although Smellerbee had been the only vocal one. Alone now, the girl started to finish the now lukewarm fish. Pretty soon she would have to go to bed too.
How is this happening? The banquet for the Royal Family was supposed to go smoothly. Heck, everything was supposed to be going smoothly at least until Mao's return. She wasn't ready for this. From the palace banister, she watched as Fire Nation tanks pushed their way through the city and firebenders set fire to everything that they could. She could see people away as fast as they could. But she couldn't help them. She would barely be able to protect the palace when the Fire Nation came knocking on the front doors. Her knuckles turned white as she only held the banister tighter.
She turned around, looking at a guard all dressed up in his armor. "What is it?" She asked.
"The Fire Nation! They're invading the palace!"
"Already?" She started to run but nearly tripped in her heels. As a last resort, Yilin kicked the heels off, sending them flying down the long hallway.
"What should we do?"
That was not the question Yilin had been hoping for. She folded her arms and averted her gaze. "I don't know."
"You don't know?" The guard reiterated in disbelief. "You have every guard awaiting your orders and all you have to tell them is that you don't know? If Mao was here-!"
"Well, he's not!" Yilin retorted. It actually hurt to say that because more than ever, she needed her rock. Trying to put on a brave face, she rolled up the sleeves of her expensive dress robes. "Where are the other guards?" She asked, walking past the guard.
The man followed at her heels. "Probably on the lower floors," he said.
"And is the Royal Family-!"
"They're safe," he said, not letting her finish that sentence. "You out of all people should know that they are our first priority."
"Of course," Yilin said. She should have told him to give her more respect than that. However, he wasn't the only one to question Mao's decision to put her in charge of the Royal Guard and to be honest, she was tired of trying to defend herself. "Let's go!"
She and the guard took off running down the hallway. The whole time, she was trying to think of a battle strategy to counter the Fire Nation's surprise attack. But she knew that the whole city was ill-prepared and so was she. If she had only been... She shook her head. There was no time to start regretting everything up to this point. She had to act while she still had the opportunity. If the city was captured, it would all be over.
Before Yilin and the guard could round the corner, a Fire Nation soldier stepped out and shot flames in their direction.
The girl sat up, breathing hard and her heart racing.
"Are you okay, Sanyi?" Smellerbee asked groggily.
"I'm fine," she said. She lied back down, waiting for her heart to stop racing. She wanted to forget that night had happened. But as long as she kept running away, she probably wouldn't forget. Guilt did that to people.
A/N: So how was that? If you have the time, please review. Till later.