Why yes, I am starting a new Tokka multi-chapter fiction. Wait! It's ok, I've already written most of the chapters, so you won't be left hanging with a half-completed story. :)
Also, I've aged up the characters and reduced the age gap between Toph and Sokka slightly. Yes, I know, taking advantage of artistic liberty. I don't care. ;)
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar TLA or it's characters.
Chapter 1: Three years before 'The Boy in the Iceberg'
Sokka took a deep breath and willed his heartbeat to slow as he stared out across the white stretch of ice. With the quiet movements of a practiced hunter, he pulled out his boomerang from its holster on his back and adjusted his grip on its hilt. His eyes remained glued to the figure that lay a mere 50 feet away, the tiger-seal was young and fit, but it was injured. Even from this distance Sokka could see the odd angle at which its front flipper was rested. It was sunning itself, blissfully unaware of an impending attack.
Crouched behind a naturally formed ridge in the snow, Sokka waited for the perfect moment to strike. He flicked his gaze to the white furry cuff on the end of his parka sleeve. It was raised above his head in preparation for the strike, there was a gentle wind and as he watched, the fur was blown back and away from him.
Good, he thought, Still downwind.
Suddenly there was movement in the distance. The tiger-seal was rolling back over onto its belly. Soon it would slide along the ice and drop back into the ocean which was lapping against the ice some hundred feet away. For a moment, Sokka's heartbeat increased in panic. He needed this catch, his father was about to-
He shook his head, he had no time to think about that now. Sokka raised himself so that he was in a low crouch, he let out a breath, the animal turned away from him and started to shuffle towards the sea. Quickly, Sokka stood, twisting his arm back behind his head and then letting his boomerang fly with a yell.
Startled by the sudden noise the seal jerked its away and the deadly projectile went skimming over the top of its head. The tiger-seal doubled its speed in the face of danger and sped towards watery refuge. Sokka collapsed onto the snow and beat the ground with a fist.
First rule of hunting, Sokka! He could hear his father say. Don't make a sound!
His last hunt before his father and the other men of his tribe left and he'd messed it up. The tribe would go hungry for another week while he scoured for another injured seal, or if he was lucky a foolhardy youngster that would be easy to take down. If he were hunting with Hakoda and his men, they could take on the larger and swifter prey. But they were all busy packing the boats. It would take Sokka another day to get back to the village from here. He would arrive to the hopeful faces of the children and women, and have to disappoint them wi-
Sokka wrenched his head up from the snow. The tiger-seal lay a few feet from the edge of the ice, its neck sliced open and his boomerang some distance away, buried in the snow. He grinned and gave a shout of triumph. Running over to the dead creature, being careful of his footing on the frozen ground, he crouched beside the furry animal and quickly pulled out a pouch from under his parka. Taking off his gloves he grabbed a bone needle and thick thread. With skilled hands he sewed up the fatal wound, stopping the blood flow to prevent waste, and so that the smell wouldn't attract other hunters.
Leaving the food for a moment, he jogged over to his boomerang and scooped it up, wiping the blood from its blade in the snow. "You do always come back!" He told it affectionately before placing it on his back.
Sokka took the rest of the morning, hauling the seal over to his temporary camp and strapping it to his sled. He packed up the small tent, using the hides to wrap and cover the seal, making sure that no blood was leaking. He didn't want to be tracked by a pack of polar bear-dogs looking for an easy meal. Eventually he strapped the harness that connected him to the sled across his shoulders and began the walk home, dragging this month's food behind him.
His sister was the first to spot him, she came running out from the village entrance and flung her arms around his neck. "Sokka! I'm so glad you're safe!"
"Wow, Katara. It's almost as if you didn't think I'd be coming back." He said dryly, patting her head.
She pulled away from him with a bemused smile. "Oh come on, you have to admit you're not the best hunter in the tribe, Sokka."
"Hey! I brought something back this time!" He said defensivly. Katara looked over his shoulder and gave a sigh.
"Yes, well. At least it's bigger than the fish you came home with last week." She said, with a small smile.
Sokka shoved past her with a sour frown, pulling the tiger-seal along with him. He heard his sister laughing behind him. "Dad wants to see you!" She called.
He merely grunted and dropped the load outside his family's shelter, it was Katara's turn to skin, prepare and store the catch. Sokka smiled, that would take her half the day, at least.
He made his way over to the main tent, where the most experienced men would be discussing the best passage to the Earthkingdom through the icy sea. Sokka walked slowly, tired from his hunting journey, and kept bumping into people who were trying to get the boats ready. They were to set sail tomorrow. Sokka frowned and tried to push the thought out of his mind.
Eventually he made it to the shelter, he straightened up and pulled back the seal hide flap that was the door. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw his father and five other men grouped around a map of the Southern seas. At his entrance, Hakoda looked up and smiled. Sokka grinned back and ignored the wrinkles that had started to form around the tribe leader's eyes.
"Sokka!" He opened his arms and Sokka rushed into them.
"It's good to see you, Dad." He mumbled into Hakoda's undershirt before pulling away. Sokka glanced at the other warriors, suddenly self-conscious; he gave a cough and straightened his wolf-tail. "So, you, uh, wanted to see me?"
His father nodded and asked the other men to leave. Once they were gone, Hakoda took a seat and Sokka sat opposite him. "So how was your hunting trip?"
"Great! I caught us an injured tiger-seal." He said proudly.
"Good, good. That should last the village a while more." Hakoda said. "I'm proud of you, Sokka. Your first big hunt alone and you succeeded."
For a moment Sokka's heart swelled, but then his father's expression changed. "Now, you know that we leave tomorrow an-"
"I've been thinking about that, Dad." Sokka interrupted. "And I think I should go with you."
"Sokka-" Hakoda began sternly.
"No!" Sokka suddenly stood, "I'm fifteen Dad, a man in our tribe, I'm old enough to fight! I have to go with you."
Hakoda sighed. "Sit down Sokka."
Begrudgingly Sokka obeyed, with arms folded and brows furrowed. In a calm voice his father spoke.
"I know you're eager to fight, son. And I know that the other boys your age are coming to the Earthkingdom with us. But please, understand, I need you here. Wait! Before you interrupt, let me explain. I don't want you to stay because I don't think you can fight. You're a strong warrior, Sokka, you'll be a leader someday. But right now, you're the only one I trust to look after the village in my absence. And besides, something unexpected has come up."
Sokka's frown disappeared. "What something?"
"You know that underneath the ice in the Southern Watertribe there is earth and solid land?" Sokka nodded, Hakoda continued, "Well Lao Bei Fong-"
"Never heard of him." Sokka cut in.
"He's a rich investor from the south of the Earthkingdom, his family have very good business sense. They've done well even through the war." Hakoda explained.
"I don't understand."
"Mining, Sokka." Hakoda scratched his stubble. "Mr. Bei Fong is interested in the value of our land. He wishes to visit, prospect, perhaps even open a station. My guess is that he hopes to sell to the Earthkingdom's war efforts."
"But, the Earthkingdom has no ownership over our soil." Sokka said, confused. "Sure, were allies, but they can't just come down here and take our stuff."
"Sokka, the Southern Watertribe has dwindled during the hundred year war, we don't have the means to protect all of our borders. The southern ice plains are huge, and with our men leaving now…" Hakoda sighed, "We can't refuse Lao's offer."
"His 'offer'?" Sokka made quote marks with his fingers.
"Mr. Bei Fong puts it like this: the Southern Watertribe has shrunk in the last century to the smallest it's ever been. The men are about to go to war, the tribe barely trades anymore and makes little money. His 'investment' of starting up a mining station here, if the required minerals are found, will bring money back into the Tribe. The miners would need accommodation, food, all of which Lao is willing to pay for. Meaning we'd have the means to hire workers to build and more men to hunt, the Tribe would grow in size, become the main town for the miners to live in. The Southern Watertribe needs this, he says."
"Well," Sokka said thoughtfully. "The way he puts it, it doesn't sound like such a bad idea."
"No," Hakoda shook his head. "That's why Mr. Bei Fong is so dangerous. If he talked to the rest of the Tribe…I'm afraid it wouldn't take much to convince them either. But listen, Sokka, if he started up a mining station then wouldn't it be easier to have the smelting factories down here too? To save on shipping, he could manufacture all the weapons here and the sell them to the Earthkingdom."
"That kind of production is very messy, a lot of pollution could enter the air, the ground. If something major goes wrong, it could damage our environment to a point where it can't repair itself."
Sokka nodded, as if finally understanding. "It would kill all the animals, we'd have no food…We'd have to leave."
"Exactly, Sokka." His father stood up, Sokka did the same, trying to read the expression on Hakoda's face.
"So tell them 'No'." Sokka said firmly.
"We're not in a position to say 'No'." Hakoda replied quietly.
"Well then why are you telling me this?" Sokka flung his arms out. "What do you want me to do about it!"
"He will be here in around two years, he's bringing his family and a few trusted associates with him," Hakoda paused. "He has a daughter, she's 13 now, a year younger than Katara."
"Well great for him!" Sokka said, exasperated.
"She's blind," Hakoda continued, ignoring him. "Lao wants someone to keep an eye on her while they're here, to keep her safe."
Sokka blinked, completely lost.
"I told him that you'd be happy and willing to be her guard."
"Think, Sokka! This man is smart, but he is so concerned about his only child that he won't let her out of his sight, she's probably in more danger here than she would be if he left her in the Earthkingdom, but he doesn't see that. He clearly has a soft spot for her. You need to use that against him."
"…I…have to get close to her and turn her against him?…Make her convince him that this is a bad idea." Sokka said, face set.
"Good, you understand." Hakoda gave a relieved sigh. "I've made it a step easier for you by recommending you as her guard, but the rest you'll have to do yourself."
"I'll make sure Lao leaves this place the way he found it." Sokka promised.
Hakoda suddenly pulled him into a hug. "I know you will, son."
Ooo! Yay, chapter one complete! I hope you enjoyed! Please R&R!