Title. As the Turn of the Worlds, Book One
Author. andromeda3116/cupid-painted-blind
Warnings. Some gore, disturbing imagery, surgery and other medical situations; mentions of sex and sexuality
Pairings. Zuko/Katara (established relationship), Smellerbee/Longshot (established relationship), Sokka/Suki, eventual Mai/Jet, eventual Toph/Haru
Author's Note. Thanks to somniumweb and feral-shrew for looking over this during the editing process and giving me pointers. This is a fusion with the world of the TV show and movie Firefly and Serenity, however I made a concerted effort to write this so that those unfamiliar with them could still understand it. If there is anything you don't understand, and isn't explained in the link on my profile, please feel free to ask me and I will explain. In fact, even if you do know the show, you might want to check out that link, because there's a lot of backstory there that didn't make it into the final cut.

Aang never woke up from the iceberg, and the world went on without him, and without the Avatar. Over the next three thousand years, technology advanced astronomically - literally, the people of the overcrowded world taking to the stars, colonizing a whole new solar system with dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Now, the Avatar is a barely-remembered myth, bending is regarded as a relic of a rightfully-dead past - and any children showing bending talent are scooped up by the government for "teaching" and are never seen again - and only two of the original countries still exist: the Fire Nation, part of the Union of Allied Planets and still one of the most powerful forces in it, and the Water Tribe, clinging to life on the Outer Rim, fighting desperately for the dream of independence. The most recent civil war ended seven years ago, in a landslide victory for the Alliance - but that doesn't mean that the fight for independence is over.

Book One: Objects in Space: Katara is a Companion - a high-class prostitute - working in the capital city of Sihnon, and has been lucky enough to be hand-picked by the Princess of the Fire Nation to attend to her surly brother. However, there's strife in the family that spills over into her life: when she inadvertently exposes the princess's plot to kill her father, she finds herself in prison for conspiracy, and is forced to call in a favor from an old friend, another Companion who travels the border with a band of thieves. Meanwhile, a man named Sokka is on the hunt for his long-lost sister, Prince Zuko is exiled for his sister's crime, and a man named Iroh smuggles a large box onto a transport ship...

As the Turn of the Worlds

Book One: Objects in Space
Prelude: the Matryoshka Doll

"You know what the first rule of flying is? Love. You can know all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off, just as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love's what keeps her in the air when she ought to fall, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her home."
Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

(on the cutter-class spaceship blue moon)

"What have you got for me?" he asked, lounging in his fuzzy chair and tinkering with the matryoshka doll that he always kept near. "You mentioned a job to Sihnon. That still open?"

"Sure," Faith replied on the other side of the cortex. He tried valiantly not to sneer - he did not like Faith, but ever since his disastrous run-in with Patience last year, he'd been forced to turn to the old woman's worst enemy, on the other side of Whitefall. Faith wasn't as rich as Patience, didn't have as many jobs (and the ones she did have were usually less-than lucrative) but she also wasn't as likely to fill him with bullets for breathing in her sacred presence.

Plus, he had it on good authority that she was just aching to get into his pants, so there was that.

"What's the cargo?"

"Illegal shinies for the teeming underground drug rings," she answered coolly, and he swallowed a snarky response. He didn't have the luxury of refusing any jobs, legal or illegal, especially if they were one-man jobs like this one was supposed to be - he'd tried to hire a crew once, but his obsessive tendencies (well, tendency), his cramped ship, and his perpetual lack of funds had quickly run them off, leaving him to do all the heavy lifting by himself. He only really minded during those awful stretches through the black where he had nothing but his thoughts and memories for company. "You in?"

"Of course. I'm out of options," he explained sourly, "and the Core is just about all that's left. May as well get started."

"You're still on this crazy search?" Faith asked, a mocking tone in her voice. "When will you give up?"

"When I find her," he replied through clenched teeth, "or at least her body, so I can take her home."

"She's just your sister," she said, like he didn't already know. "Why do you care so much? I haven't seen my family in, God, years."

"Well, you wouldn't understand the concept of familial love, then," he said flatly. "I promised I'd look out for her. I've gotta find her to do that."

"Who's going to care if you don't?"

He bit his tongue; the truth was, no one would care. He'd made the promise to his dying mother years and years ago, and while his father might hold him to it, his father had also gone off the deep end after the war and still held out for Independence. He believed in the cause, too, but he also knew when to let a lost cause go.

This, however, wasn't one of those times. His sister was out there somewhere, and maybe she needed help or maybe she didn't, but as her older brother, it was his duty - the last thing he had left in the entire universe - to help her in whatever way he could. But wherever she was, she wasn't giving him any clues, if she even knew he was still alive (or cared one way or the other; although a part of him refused to accept the possibility that she was out there and safe and just didn't want to be found, he had to acknowledge that it was possible).

He stared hard at the doll sitting innocently beside the feed - he hadn't opened it in over seven years, but he knew without having to look what all the other dolls inside of it were. His father's (badly-carved) face looked at him from the largest doll, and within that doll was his mother, and then himself, and then - the smallest doll was his little sister.

"I will," he replied shortly. "Where's the pick-up?"

Faith sighed theatrically before giving him the coordinates to his newest drop. "You know the drill. You get half from me when you pick up the cargo, half from Jun when you drop it off. I'll see you there," she said, and then cut the transmission.

Sokka fell back into his chair, exhausted.