A/N: Sorry for the lack of updates on this story. Real life stuff has been keeping me from working on this. It may be a while before another update.
Chapter 11: Salvage Rights
Azula was still mad over her latest defeat, sick of being caught off guard by unconventional bending. Her clothes had been reduced to the essentials and a few more tattered bits, courtesy of the Kyoshi Warriors. Her friends Mai and Ty Lee were in the same predicament, and it would be very difficult and embarrassing to explain that if they returned to any Fire Nation base.
Fortunately they didn't have to return to civilization right away, having witnessed the arrival of Cooler's spaceship. After seeing the four aliens fly off Azula chose to wait in the forests around the meadow that the ship had landed in, just in case the aliens returned. After an hour there was no sign that the aliens were coming back, and Azula figured that it was worth the risk to investigate the space ship.
There was no door along the sides of the disk shaped spaceship, only a circular hatch on the top. Ty Lee quickly climbed up one of the ship's landing legs and up the side, reaching the top ahead of Azula and Mai. Once Azula climbed on top of another landing leg she jumped upward, firebending from her feet to make her jump high enough to reach the top of the spaceship. Together Azula and Ty Lee reached down and took hold of Mai's arms, pulling her up to the top as well.
"Let's see what's inside," Azula ordered. She walked up to the top hatch first, which was left open after the aliens had flown away. She jumped through the hatch into a brightly lit hallway below, bending her knees to absorb the force of landing on metal. Behind her came Mai and Ty Lee, and all three of them started wandering the ship. They were surprised to find no one inside, apparently the four aliens were all that were needed to operate the ship.
"Shiny," Ty Lee said, trying to look at everything at once.
Mai stopped at a metal door, which didn't have a knob to open it with. Instead there was a pad next to it with a button on it, and when Mai curiously pressed the button it made the door slide into the walls. "Neat," Mai muttered, finding it very difficult to hide her amazement with alien tech.
Inside that room were several control consoles, each covered with various buttons of different shapes and sizes. Mai wandered into the room and looked at the consoles, having no idea what they were for or how to use them. Ty Lee followed her inside and walked up to one of the consoles, compelled by curiosity to find out what they do.
"What does this button do?" Ty Lee pondered, her hand reaching for the controls.
"Ty Lee, don't," Mai said.
Too late, Ty Lee's hand pressed a rectangle button with a square light on one end. The console whirred to life, humming with electrical energy. Next to the button was a clear rectangular pad, which started to glow bright blue. The glow coalesced above the pad, taking on a physical shape. And in a flash the glow transformed into solid matter, which Ty Lee and Mai were surprised to find. Sitting on the pad was a muffin.
"Yes!" Ty Lee shouted, having been hungry since the last fight. She pressed the button two more times, making two more muffins appear on the pad for her friends. Ty Lee took one muffin for herself and bit into it, savoring the taste. "Tastes like blueberry."
"How do you know that isn't poisonous?" Mai asked.
Before Ty Lee could answer the question Azula walked into the room, seeing what Ty Lee was eating. "Where did you get that muffin?" Azula asked.
"Muffin button," Ty Lee answered, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. She picked up one of the other two muffins and offered it to Azula. "Want one?"
"No," Azula answered. She turned back towards the door and gestured for her friends to follow. "Come on, there's more of this ship to explore."
Over the next hour they explored the ship, discovering dozens of rooms filled with alien tech. A few of them appeared to be living quarters, containing strange beds and foreign artifacts. Another room had a few large tanks inside, all of them empty at the moment. One room caught Azula's complete attention, as it appeared to be the spaceship's armory.
"Now this is promising," Azula said. She paced the inside of the room, examining weird chest armors hanging on a wall.
Mai found and opened a cabinet in the corner, finding clothing inside. It was made of a fabric unlike anything she had ever seen before, as it could be stretched in her hands without tearing. "This is some strange stuff," Mai muttered.
"Cool though," Ty Lee added. She grabbed one of the chest armors with both hands and pulled them apart, stretching the armor wide enough to pull over her head.
"One size fits all," Azula said, finding elastic armor very desirable. "Girls, I think it's time for a wardrobe upgrade."
Azula removed one of the chest armors from the wall and claimed a set of elastic clothes, then walked into another room to change outfits. The elastic clothes she took were blue and skintight, covering everything but her hands, feet, head and neck. The armor Azula chose was white with a yellow section on her belly, and had yellow shoulder pads. It was a perfect fit, conforming to all of Azula's curves. And to complete the outfit were a pair of white gloves and boots, made of similar elastic material.
Mai picked a different set of armor and clothing, along with her own room to change. She put on sleeveless black clothes that had short legs, leaving her legs bare below the thighs. The armor Mai chose was black with a brown belly and shoulder pads, and had three brown pads hanging from the waist that reached her knees. Mai completed the outfit with a pair of black boots and fingerless gauntlets.
Ty Lee took another set of armor and clothing, and changed in another room. She put on black clothes with short sleeves and legs, leaving her arms and legs bare below the shoulders and thighs. The armor Ty Lee chose was blue with a yellow belly and shoulder pads, along with three yellow pads hanging from the waist. Ty Lee put on a pair of black boots and large black wristbands, completing her outfit.
Once all three of them were finished changing they returned to the armory. While she liked the armor's comfort, Mai had one complaint. "I can't hide my knives in this."
"Then we'll have to modify the outfit," Azula suggested. "Once we figure out what it's made of."
"I wonder what these are?" Ty Lee wondered aloud, having walked over to a cabinet and opened it. Inside the cabinet were two weapons, both resembling miniature cannons. They were white in color and their open ends were narrower than the closed end, and there were hand grips below the larger ends with squeezable triggers.
"I don't know," Mai said, walking over to the cabinet. She picked up one of the weapons and examined it more closely, putting one hand into the grip of the weapon with its weight resting on her forearm. By accident Mai squeezed the trigger, prompting the weapon to fire a beam of energy from the open narrow end. The shot hit a wall and burned a small hole in the metal, the sight of which made Mai smile. "Oh I am so keeping this."
"Take both of them," Azula ordered. She watched Mai take the second weapon and hold it in her other hand, positioned so that the large parts were on the back of Mai's wrists. "We'll have to reverse engineer those. Just imagine what they'll do for our troops."
"What other goodies do you think this place has?" Ty Lee asked.
"Let's find out," Azula said. She walked over to a box half her size in one corner of the armory, crouching to open a lid on the top. Inside the box were three small devices resting in form fitting mold. They resembled a small box cushioned on one side, with curved metal connecting another side to a square colored glass screen.
"That's weird," Mai commented. "What is it?"
Azula picked up one of the devices and examined it, taking a peek through its blue screen. She found a button on the side opposite of the cushioned side, which made the screen light up. Azula was holding it towards Ty Lee at the moment, and the screen made a yellow outline around her body. Alien symbols appeared next to the outline, though Azula couldn't tell what they meant. "Huh?"
Every head turned towards the open box, where Azula's voice had echoed from the other devices. Curious, Azula spoke again. "Hello?"
"Now that is useful," Mai said. She walked over to the box and picked up another device, which had a red screen. Mai pressed its side button and then walked out of the armory, stopping when she was far enough away that her voice wouldn't reach her friends.
"Can you hear me now?"
Mai's voice came out of the device Azula was holding and the third one still in the box. "Good," Azula said, and Mai heard it from the device she held.
"This is so much better than using messenger hawks."
"Yes, yes it is," Azula said, thinking about how instant communication over distances would revolutionize warfare. She examined the device again, noticing that Mai's voice had come out of the cushioned side.
"I think it goes on your head," Ty Lee guessed, guessing that the cushioned side went on the ear and the screen over the eye.
"You might be right," Azula said. She placed the device on her left ear, where its curved shape placed the blue screen in front of her left eye. The blue screen made her amber eye look violet to Ty Lee, who thought it looked cool. Azula's fingers found a small knob on the device and turned it, which made the device stick to her head.
At that moment Mai walked back inside the armory, wearing her own device over her left ear and eye. Her device's red screen made her amber eye look like blood, which she didn't notice or care. "You figured that out too," Mai said, seeing Azula wearing her own device.
"Me next," Ty Lee insisted. She grabbed the last device in the box, which had a green screen. Ty Lee put it on the left side of her head, and the green screen made her gray eye look light green. She pressed the device's side button while putting it on, making yellow outlines and alien symbols appear on the screen as Ty Lee looked at Azula and Mai. "I wish we could read this stuff."
Azula pressed her device's side button and looked at her friends, seeing the yellow outlines and symbols. Ten basic symbols repeated before settling in on one pattern, almost like numbers. And for both Mai and Ty Lee the symbols settled on two symbols each. "If I'm guessing this right, it's showing somewhere between ten and ninety-nine for you two."
Ty Lee compared that to what her device showed for Azula. "So… for you it's between one hundred and nine hundred ninety-nine?"
"It better mean over nine hundred," Azula said. Another press of the side button made the outlines and symbols disappear, getting the useless information off the screen.
"Let's see what else this ship has," Mai suggested, seeing nothing else of interest in the armory.
The three girls all walked out of the armory and resumed their exploration of the ship, searching for any other wonders from the stars. Some of the rooms contained various kinds of machinery, the likes of which had yet to be imagined by human minds. They had no idea what they were for or how to operate the machines, making them useless until more intellectual minds could examine them. Eventually the exploration took them back to the ship's roof hatch, their way in and out of the ship.
When they arrived at the hatch Mai noticed one little problem. "So how do we get out?" Mai asked, looking up at the hatch too high up to reach.
Casually Ty Lee wandered to the nearest wall, seeing a control console with nothing else nearby. There was a little red button on it that seemed to attract her attention, compelling Ty Lee to press it. Part of the floor below the hatch moved down and slid to the side, allowing a ladder to slide up from the floor and up to the hatch.
"Never mind," Mai said.
One at a time they climbed up the ladder, getting on top of the ship again. There was still no sign of the four aliens that had flew off, something that Azula was glad to find. But she hadn't been expecting to hear a bird's screech coming from the sky, and she looked up to see a messenger hawk flying by. The hawk was looking down to search for the recipient of the message it carried, and it immediately changed course when it saw Azula.
The hawk landed on the left shoulder pad of Azula's armor, allowing her to remove a scroll from a tube on the hawk's back. "This had better be good news," Azula muttered, unrolling the scroll.
"What does it say?" Ty Lee asked.
Azula reread the scroll several times, doubting that the message was accurate. "The invasion of Ba Sing Se has begun."