Hey readers! As you've read, xxBelxx has been posting some of her stories up for adoption and I couldn't help but grab at the opportunity. Her story, "Facing My Old Life" was a brilliant idea and perhaps it needed some more structure or whatever, but I enjoyed it. So, when she had posted it up for adoption, I wanted to be the one to tackle the mountain, as it were. We discussed a few things here and there and I promise I will keep to the main concept of her story. I just hope you all enjoy it. So, without further ado, please enjoy "Shadows of the Past" inspired and revamped by "Facing My Old Life"

The cool, sharpened metal of my blade slowly slid up to greet the flesh that stretched across his windpipe, my breath tickling his ear. I could hear his heart pounding ferociously, his breathing staggered as he tried to refrain from moving his windpipe as he swallowed slowly. My blade slightly moved, up and down. His blood coursed through his veins rapidly, it felt hotter than most of my other bounties and I couldn't help but ponder on the fact that this target was a firebender. My lips curled in a snarl as he pleaded weakly, "Pl-lease," he was trembling beneath me, "spa-are me," I couldn't help but pull back in disgust.

With a simple exhale of breath, I breathed, "No," and before he had the chance to protest, to utter another thought, I clenched my fist, stopping his heart instantly. Slowly, I removed the blade from his throat, watching as his body fell forward, plummeting towards the earth. Dust emitted from where he fell in a tiny cloud, gathering over his body. Softly I nudged him with my boot, the only response I received was the slightly movement of his body dipping back into place after being rocked. With a flick of my wrist, I twisted the blade between my fingers furiously before slipping it back into its confinement that synched around my blade was merely a distraction, it was always the one thing every victim focused on, their minds never registering, let alone acknowledging the fact that they were dealing with a trained killer, one who knew how to get rid of someone without dirtying their hands. Over the course of my years as a bounty hunter, I perfected the technique of blood bending, finding its cleanliness an easier method of killing, rather than slicing someones throat open or ripping a hole through there chest. I found that killing with blood bending, I was also given the opportunity to kill with mercy. Though I had turned into a cold blooded killer, I didn't exactly wish for my victims to suffer physically…perhaps mentally for a few moments as they allowed the severity of their crimes against the new world order to settle in, but never did I take pleasure out of physical suffering.

Now that my job was done, it was time I headed home.

As I boarded the ship that docked for the Earth Kingdom, I pulled the hood of my cloak over my face, allowing it's shadow to cover my identity. I gave the ticket guard my passport and ticket, waiting for a few moments as he scanned each document over. I felt his eyes roaming over my features, trying to match my identity with that of the one on my passport. With a grunt, he handed my passport back to me, "Enjoy your stay in Ba Sing Se," was all he said before allowing me entrance on the boat.

"Oh, I will," I assured him before brushing past him and making my way to my cabin.

Once I was securely inside, I threw my pack onto the neatly kept cot, tossed my cloak alongside it and began to open the porthole that was on the far western wall of my room. It faced the Fire Nation, the place that once harbored everything I hated, and now, now it represented something far grander than hatred...but what exactly, I couldn't quite yet determine.

Sighing I began rummaging through my pack, trying to find an apple or something and instead found a few berries that I had gathered on my way to the ship. This mission had been an easy one to say the least. Kill a corrupt diplomat of the Fire Nation, not a big deal. It seemed as though I always received the high security targets, but they never appeared to be…that much of a threat. At least not fighting wise. They were weak, or weaker than I. They were never prepared for anything I threw at them, which to be honest, wasn't much. But, after long consideration, I did have extensive years of training in water bending, blood bending I had perfected because of my particular specialty and I trained for hours on end to become quicker, smarter, lighter. I would scale the rooftops of Ba Sing Se to become agile, nimble, and quick. I weaved through the slums to blend with the crowd, learned to adapt and weld with the shadows, to become invisible like a ghost. I had studied the geographical aspects of every nation, to know the ins and outs, to prepare myself. I'd even went as far as changing myself, physically to become an entirely new person.

I had thinned out over the excruciating months of training, my body became more toned and pain resistant. I had lost the curves of my youthful body and gained those of a woman. Apparently, an hour glass shaped figure was one to die for. I had always complained about my figure, cursing how it seemed to get me all sorts of unwanted attention, but most female bounty hunters would merely gripe about how lucky I have it…if only they knew. My hair, once long and curled to my back was now short and straight, brushing right at my shoulders. My face no longer held the fat of a child, instead I had thinned out there as well, my skin wrapping tightly across my high cheekbones, thinning out around my cheeks. My features were more…defined, more prominent and it showed off my ethnicity quite well. I had become more…feminine everywhere and it was beginning to annoy. Not only did the shape of my body attract the slum of the opposite sex, but my 'beauty' did as well. During my bounty missions, I normally cloak my face beneath a fabric mask that came up to the bridge of my nose, my body canvassed in a black stealth uniform, much like the one I wore when I had gone on my little excursion with Zuko to find Yan Ra.

At the thought of my mother's killer, I sighed. I couldn't help the unwanted feelings that surged through me at the mention of his name…or my mother for that fact.

When i left my homeland, I blamed my father's actions on the death of my mother. I had yelled at him, told him how unfair he was being and that if mom was still alive, he would never have dared to force me into an arranged marriage. But, he said that with her gone, he didn't have anyone to truly direct him on how to raise a daughter, let alone how to allow her to marry and start a family of his own. He had told me that when he met mom, it was on their wedding night, that their marriage was arranged as well…which to be honest, blew me away. I had learned from Yoganda that Gran Gran had run away from the Northern Water Tribe because of said tradition and started a life in the Southern Water Tribe, only to arrange a marriage between my father and my mother! I was beyond angry when I had discovered that news, but not as angry as I was when my father told me of my future husband…one he had arranged for me to marry that was from the Northern Water Tribe.


"It will help with the diplomatic relations between our tribes, Katara," my father argued with me.

My arms crossed over my chest instinctively as I turned my head away from him, as if trying to ignore him. I couldn't believe he was doing this to me! To me of all people! Sokka had gone off and married Suki, he had a choice as to who he wanted to marry and now, now my father dared to tell me that this was what was for the better of the tribes! Screw the tribes! I was becoming fed up with the idea of being the only one to sacrifice all that I wanted, just for the sake of others. I had done that enough during the war and I was not about to do it now.

"I can't marry him dad," I cried out, "it isn't what I want. I want to marry someone I love, someone that loves me…not some stranger who only wants to marry me to better the relations between our tribes."

I could hear the disappointment in my father's air as he sighed loudly, his fists were clenching together at his sides, "Katara, for once I wish you wouldn't act so selfish! I let you roam around with the Avatar after the war, roaming from town to town rebuilding and helping people, I even allowed you to stay in the Fire Nation for months at a time helping solve diplomatic problems with the Fire Lord," again I could hear his sigh as he took a second to pause, as if he were choosing his words wisely, "but I've put my foot down. It's time you settled down, started a family and you have yet to do that with anyone here from our tribe, let alone any of your male companions," he began to pace before me, "the Avatar has fallen in love with his earth bending teacher, the Fire Lord is engaged to the Lady Mai," my chest tightened at that startling revelation, "and well…you don't have many other options."

Again I was silent, my glare went from burning a hole in the ground, to one in-between my father's eyeballs. I was furious, "How can you do this to me?" I demanded, "Has it ever occurred to you that I haven't married anyone, because I haven't had the desire to?" It was a lie, I knew it and I'm sure he knew it too. Sure I had loved once, sure I had thought that it would have been enough, but it turned out quite the opposite and I learned from that mistake.

My father shook his head, "But this isn't about you anymore, Katara," he started to approach me and I could feel my feet carrying me backwards, "this is about what's best for the tribe."

"What's best for the tribe?" I asked incredulously, "What's best for the tribe?" I repeated, only this time a bit louder and realized that a screaming match with my father wasn't going to get me anywhere. He was the authoritative figure in our family, in our tribe and to disrespect him meant to disrespect the tribe. Taking a deep, calming breath, I nodded, clenching my teeth, "Very well, father," and with a turn of my heel I left him. Those would be the last words exchanged between father and daughter, only he didn't know that at the time.

My decision wasn't one that I had planned by any means, it rose up to term when my father dared to force an arranged marriage on me. For the first time in my life I had finally said no to pushing my wants and needs aside and decided to take flight. Without a glance over my shoulder, without a simple 'goodbye' or an 'I love you,' I ran away from all that I knew, from everything that I had ever loved and put it all behind me. I fled to create a new life, to live it the way I wanted and to have the freedom to do whatever I pleased. And with that split decision, I also had to put behind everyone I ever loved, everyone I ever held dear to me as well. I knew my father well enough to know that he would come looking for me, it was only natural for a father to look for their missing child. He would have recruited my friends and brother to search for me, but I didn't care. I had to disappear, I had to become a ghost.

On the day I landed on the shores of the Earth Kingdom, Katara of the Southern Water Tribe had died and reborn from her ashes, Anaya of Ba Sing Se was born.

End of Flashback

It wasn't the fondest of memories, to say the least, but it was a constant reminder of how I came to be the person that I am now.

Stifling a yawn, I stretched my aching limbs out, feeling the desire to sleep. It had been a long day and knowing how business had picked up in that last couple of months, I knew that I wouldn't have much time to sleep back home. No rest for the wicked it seemed. With a sigh, I kicked my boots off my feet, allowing them to register with the metal flooring beneath me, enjoying the coolness of it's touch. In a ungraceful, fluid movement, I flopped down face first on the bed, moaning blissfully at the contact before allowing darkness to consume me.

So, this is kind of the prologue, the first real chapter will be up later on in the week. Please, let me hear your thoughts, this is the first adoption I've done and I would love constructive criticism.