The Last Warrior
Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender belongs to Mike, Bryan and Nickelodeon.
Suki stared out her small attic window watching the sun rise, in awe of the spectacle. Most of the men in the village had already left in their boats to catch today's fish. Most of the women and children were still asleep. It was like the universe was putting on a show just for her. The streets of Kyoshi were empty, the village square was eeriely deserted.
Then, movement from outside caught Suki's attention. A shadow appeared, moving down the street, silent as just before dawn. The person- no young woman- slipped down the main street and started heading towards the woods. The sunlight reflected off of something shiny the woman had on her head. It was a warrior.
Trying to be sneaky, Suki padded shoeless out of her room and down the attic ladder. The Kyoshi warriors were amazing! Her mother had rocked Suki to sleep while telling her all the epic stories about Avatar Kyoshi, her daugher Koko, and the Kyoshi Warriors. Giving the cat a pat to keep it quiet, Suki walked downstairs, into the store and out of the house. The Kyoshi warrior was a rare sight as most of the girls had disappeared in the middle of the night a few years ago and never returned. There was only one left in the village, and she kept to herself, living in the dojo designated for the Kyoshi warriors. The only time she appeared in uniform was once a year on Kyoshi day. Suki remembered watching her do her warrior's fan dance. The last warrior moved swiftly and silently with a graceful power in every move she did. And she had to- she was the last warrior.
Sneaking from house to house, Suki followed the older girl.
The warrior, in full Kabuki makeup and armor disappeared into the woods surrounding the village. Scrambling though briars and brambles, Suki was sure she was in on something secret. Something interesting, she smiled. This town could use some excitement.
When the warrior reached a clearing, she stopped and stood in the middle of it. She closed her eyes, her arms limp at her sides and took a deep breath in and out. In. Out. Almost subconsciously, her hands started moving too. When the warrior inhaled, they lifted, and when she exhaled, they drooped.
Minutes passed and Suki wondered if anything would happen next. And, when she was about to leave, the warrior's eyes snapped open. And she started to dance.
Fans in her hands, the warrior, thrusted forward with all her might, full of grace and power. She thrusted again, her entire body leaning into the stance. Her fans moved as one weapon, one defending while the other attacked. The warrior began to circle, thrusting forward and retreating, fighting an imaginary opponent. And then... she stopped, turned around and stared directly at Suki.
"Come out, kiddo. I don't bite."
Suki froze. She had been so careful! She stood up and walked into the clearing, careful not show her embarassment of being caught.
"I wouldn't suggest wearing bright green if I was gonna spy on someone," The warrior said, nodding towards Suki's nightgown.
Suki looked down at her half dressed state."Oh."
"So, you found my little hiding space, huh? Guess I'll have to kill you now, since you've seen me work," the older girl drawled on, talking to Suki. She checked Suki up and down. "But, you don't look like a sqealer. Just don't go looking for me again." And with that last comment, the last Kyoshi warrior sheathed her fans in her armor's sash and started walking back to town.
Suki stared. The last warrior was... weird. She opened her mouth to call back to the warrior, but no words came out. She swallowed hard and yelled: "Wait!"
The warrior stopped on the edge of the clearing and turned around, an eyebrow raised. "Oh? So she does talk."
"Teach me." The younger girl said.
For a second, Suki thought, she looked suprised, but her face settled into an arrogant smirk as the warrior looked Suki up and down. "No."
"You're like, five. You'll get your butt kicked."
The younger girl flared her nostrils. "I'm eight. And don't you need any help? You're the last Kyoshi warrior!"
"But-" Her face was earnest. She looked like a fighter, the older girl thought. Maybe at a different time, she could have joined.
"No," the older girl sighed and started her walk back towards town. "Kyoshi doesn't need the warriors anymore. So I don't need anybody anymore. Don't go peeking on me in the mornings, either. It's best Kyoshi forget her daugters." The last warrior shook her head, took one last look at Suki and disappeared into the woods, the only sign of her ever being there was a rustle of the bushes surrounding the clearing.
Suki sighed. So much for her heroes. Following suit, Suki headed back towards the shop. Time to sell some fish.
Ayame, the last warrior, sat crosslegged in the shrine of Kyoshi, trying and failing to meditate and get her mind off of that morning. Her breaths came in too shallow and they rushed out too fast. "This isn't working," she muttered, her eyes squeezed shut.
She went to the shrine of Kyoshi whenever she needed to calm down. It was an old, familliar place, where her warrior sisters had used to come to ask Kyoshi for guidance. They had told Ayame that Kyoshi's spirit still partially lived within this shrine. Some of the girls had even said that they had seen Kyoshi there. When Ayame had been younger, she had come here, put on Kyoshi's gigantic boots, and sat, in the corner, looking at the painting of the founding of Kyoshi, hoping for some advice and comfort. Somehow, just being close to her leader made Ayame feel better. Like Kyoshi was always there.
She inhaled and exhaled, shakily. She growled. Stupid relaxation. Stupid little girl. Why did she have to go and try to spread ideas like that? She felt the blood rush to her face and her heart rate began to accelerate. "Why isn't this working?" She screamed to the empty room.
"Maybe because you don't want it to," came a voice from inside the shine.
Ayame gasped and opened her eyes. She hadn't heard anyone come in.
In the middle of the room stood a giant woman. She stood high and proud, almost seven feet tall. Her hair was brown and pulled back. Her gloved hands gripped her golden fans and she wore a long, green dress, adorned with warrior's armor. Her regal face glared, covered with Kabuki makeup.
"Lady Kyoshi," Ayame whispered and bowed on her knees, her face touching the floor.
"Ayame," the village founder said.
"What do you want, my lady?" Ayame's voice was calm- submissive even, a far cry from her usual arrogant drawl.
"Ayame," the former Avatar repeated, her own face stony, "I need to show you something."
Leaning against the broom, Suki wiped the sweat off of her face. The mid-morning rush at the fish shop had just ended, leaving Suki and her mother to clean up the place. The summer sun was high in the sky and, even though the shop was indoors, the heat was not merciful. Suki crinkled her nose. The fish that hadn't been sold yet would start to reek in a few hours and her family would lose valuable merchandise. Suki muttered one of the words she had heard her father and his buddies say down at the docks. It seemed to sum up her situation quite well, although it elicited a gasp and a "Young lady!" from her mother.
"Okay," her mother said after she had stopped fanning herself with her hand, sweat dripping down her forehead, "this shop is closed for the rest of the day. It's not getting any cooler out and I won't have my home smelling like rotten fish." She started grabbing some buckets for the few remaining fish in the shop and filled them with the fish. "Here," she said to Suki, handing her the buckets, "Bring this to you father, down at the docks. He can use it for chum tomorrow."
"Gross," Suki said, sticking out her tongue. She gingerly walked to the door, and awkwardly opened it up with her elbow. "See you in a few, Ma."
A fresh breeze greeted her as she walked out the door. It sure was better than staying in the shop to smell the fish all day. Outside she could think without the ever present smell of fish bombarding her senses. Her mother had said she'd get used to it eventually but Suki never really had. She wanted to stay outside all day, letting the wind fill her nose, free from the fish smell for the rest of her life. She walked down the main road towards the docks. Like this morning, Suki thought, she was free from that. Not that the warrior had been much help, but it was a thought, anyway. Suki shook herself. It was an amazing summer day and she was free from the fish shop for an entire afternoon! Why be so glum?
So, Suki walked down the shaded path down to the docks. They were right next the little cove where the giant koi lived. Passing by the beach, she heard the sounds of children splashing in the water. That sounded so fun! Suki made a mental note to tell her parents where she was going after she dropped of the chum. The sand on the beach was scorching and she hopped from foot to foot so as to not burn them.
"Help!" came a scream from the beach. "Help!"
Suki's heart jumped. What had happened? All the children on Kyoshi Island could swim because of the geography. Unless... no, it couldn't be. Nobody was that stupid. And with that thought she started to sprint, chum buckets still in hand, down to the water. For the swimmer's sake, Suki hoped it was a riptide.
"Ayame," the Avatar Kyoshi said, "I need to show you something."
"What, my lady?" Ayame asked, her face still bowed so low, it was touching the floor. Was she in trouble? For what? The Island of Kyoshi did not need protection.
The Avatar did not answer. Ayame looked up, cautiously. The Avatar's transparent hand was pointed out the shrine's window.
"What?" She said, more impatiently. "Do the trees need trimming or something?" The hand still pointed. Getting up slowly, Ayame walked to the window and looked out. "It's just a view of the cove? What's so special?"
From where she stood she could see the beach, where little townschildren were playing. The water lapped calmly up the shore. It was completely normal. But then she saw a flash of a fin and a shiny black ripple in the cove. Right by there was a child in the water, too far out to be alone swimming.
"No," Ayame gasped. She turned around to see Kyoshi but she was gone. Not that it mattered. Ayame knew what needed to be done.
Suki sprinted towards the water, buckets still in hand. From the shoreline she could see the child flailing in the water, out past the cliffs surrounding the cove. Stupid, she thought, why'd he go out there on his own?
Quickly, she started taking off her clothes, ready to dive in. Even though she was only eight, she had been swimming since she could walk- maybe even earlier. She could save the kid. But then she saw a dark shape flash maybe ten meters from where the child was. The Unagi. Even Suki couldn't out swim that.
Then she looked at her chum buckets, then out at the cliffs that surrounded the cove. It was a crazy idea... but other choice did she have?
Picking up her buckets, and leaving her discarded clothes, Suki ran in her underpants up the path to town and towards the cliffs. Huffing, she reached the top. She hoped for the kid's sake that the plan worked. She held onto the bucket of fish and started to swing it in circle, building up speed. She let go when it had reached it maximum velocity and height. The bucket flew towards the creature in the water and landed a few meters away from where it was. Even from the cliff, Suki could see the fish and blood sliding out of the bucket and into the water. Please let it work, Suki prayed, please, please let it work.
And then, what had been just a dark shape in the water, rose the Unagi. It was so big that its face reached above the cliffs. It roared. Suki had heard some horrible stories from her father about the Unagi wrecking boats when it was angry, and now, Suki believed him. Its face was snarled and its whiskers whirled through the air like little whips. And its teeth- oh its teeth!- were giant and as sharp as katana.
But, although the Unagi was terrifying, Suki did not freeze. She thought she saw somthing out of the corner of the eye in the reflection of the chum bucket. A woman? But when she turned around she saw nothing. She snatched the second bucket, only leaving one left, and flung the bucket with all her might at the Unagi's head, hoping it would notice her instead of the meaty morsel of a child three stories beneath the cliff.
The bucket clanged off of the eel's head and it turned around with a hiss, it beady eyes looking straight at the girl's head. It reared back and Suki feared for her life. And as the head of imminent doom dove towards her, Suki snatched the last bucket of chum and flung its contents towards the monster's eyes.
It reared back, flailing, as the fish and fish guts stung the monster's eyes. Suki knew that she did not have much time before its eyes were cleared. She needed to save the kid.
Suki closed her eyes, mustering up the courage for what she knew she'd have to do. She took a deep breath in and out. In. Out. Her opened her eyes and with a roar she sprinted towards the side of the cliff, hoping that her father's boasts of cliff diving were true.
And she jumped. At first it felt... freeing. It was just her and the wind whipping her hair. And then she started to fall. Her stomach lurched upward and her hands were left behind as she plummeted towards the Unagi and the drowning child.
Splash! Her feet hit the water, slapping hard against the surface, followed quickly by the rest of her body. Her body felt numb and she could barely move her legs as resurfaced. Gasping for breath she started to swim limply towards the drowning child. She hoped that she had made enough time to rescue the child before the Unagi cleared its eyes. Suki grabbed the boy by his chest the best she could with her small arms and turned around, looking for the Unagi.
It was nowhere to be seen.
Relieved, but all together confused, Suki started to swim towards shore where a crowd had gathered, cheering. Suki stared. They were cheering for her! When she had gotten inside the bay-proper a rope was thrown towards her and the boy. Gratefully, she snatched it before it could sink and she was pulled to shore. Gasping, she collapsed on the beach, dropping the boy next to her. The sand felt good against her back and, her body finally catching up to after the fall, started to burn. Exhausted, her vision grew fuzzy as she stared up at the sky and at the crowd of people surrounding her...
When she opened her eyes again, she found herself in a darkened room.
"You had a lot of guts back there, kid," came a drawling voice from the shadows of the room.
"Who's there?" Suki hissed, still tired from the day's ordeal. As if in response, a candle was lit, illuminating the room- Suki's bedroom, as it turned out. A figure in the corner was also illuminated: the last Kyoshi Warrior.
"What do you want?" Suki groaned. The warrior looked at her from the corner of the room.
"I just wanted to congratulate you, that's all," she said, walking slowly into the middle of the room, swaying slightly in a way that reminded Suki of a cobra-python. "You know, only a few people have ever tried to tussle with Kyoshi's guard dog," the last warrior continued, "Legend says that the only person that actually tamed the Unagi was Kyoshi herself."
"But that means that that eel is three hundred years old," Suki retorted, despite herself.
"Hey, I dunno. That's just what legend says," the last warrior shrugged and made herself over to Suki's bed and took a long look at Suki's face. "Legend also says that the only one that had ever ridden the Unagi was Kyoshi's daugher. But she's dead, too." The older girl was staring. "I mean, the town keeps the Unagi at bay by feeding it every morning but that's not exactly taming it, now is it?"
"I guess not."
"So why, after years of feeding, does it just turn against the village?" The last warrior stepped away from the bed and stared out the window.
Suki rolled her eyes. What was she getting at? "It's not like the Unagi has ever been nice. Remember the fishing boats it sunk a few years ago? Maybe the Unagi was enjoying the sun in shallow waters and the kid was stupid and swam too close? It's not a pet. It's a wild animal!"
"I guess you're right," the older girl said, sitting on the foot of Suki's bed. "I wanted to ask you something. What's your name?"
"That's your question? How did you find my house if you didn't know my name?" She asked. The warrior looked the Suki in the eyes, one of the eyebrows raised. "My name is Suki."
"Suki, huh? My name's Ayame," Ayame replied. She reached down and pulled something out of her warrior's sash. They were two gold fans- just like Ayame's own. The older girl gripped the fans in her hands and then handed them over to Suki, properly with the gifts laying on her open palms and her head bowed.
Suki gasped as she received the gift. Then, suspiciously, she looked at Ayame. "What are these for?"
"Straight to the point, huh? No 'thank you, Ayame'?" She chuckled and shook her head. "I think we're gonna get along just fine."
"What do you mean 'get along'?"
"Suki? How would you like to be a daughter of Kyoshi? How would you like to become a Kyoshi Warrior?"
A/N: I hoped you all enjoyed the story. Suki's one of my favorite characters and certainly deserves her own adventure. This story may become multi-chaptered but, for now, will be considered completed and read as a oneshot. DFTBA.
Edit: I fixed a couple typos I caught just after I posted. Also, I learned from the Avatar Wiki that Suki started her warrior training at eight, instead of ten, so I fixed that too.