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Author Topic: RRA's Tales (8/31-Shifting Sand) PG  (Read 14441 times)
RhoughRhinoAlternate
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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The lack of Rhinos, Rough or otherwise, is noted.


« on: Jul 20, 2008 06:08 pm »

When Katara first came home from the war, she thought she would never want to leave her family's side again for an instant, despite the wanderlust Aang had given her.  But, three years later and after a long day of training and building, with the new airship tower still behind schedule, Katara just felt the need to be alone.  Since Aang was away and her father has having another meeting with the council, that wasn't too hard.  
Katara didn't have anywhere in particular that she wanted to go, and so she just closed her eyes and walked, taking time to smell the salt of the sea, the chill of the wind and softness of the snow.  Katara had seen many places in her journeys, from the hostile Shi Wong desert to the walls of Ba Sing Se to the beautiful Western Air Temple, but she has never found a place she liked more than her own home.  It crossed her mind what it must be like for Aang to live in this place rather than his home in the Southern Air Temple.
When Katara opened her eyes, she saw that she had walked to the old warship.  Funny, she thought, after thinking about Aang and her journeys, she came to the place where they all began.
There had been much debate over what to do with the thing, many wanted it destroyed, but ultimately it was kept as a memorial.  Next to the ship stood an ice sculpture of a water tribe warrior dressed in wolf armor with a spear in one hand and a club in another.  Originally, the inter-village council wanted to make a statue of Aang, but Aang refused, and talked about the importance of all the warriors and benders who gave their lives to hold off the Fire Nation.
Thus, the statue of a faceless soldier was made, and beneath was listed the name of every warrior who died on Hakoda's journey, every water bender whose name could be found in the records of those awful camps; even Hama, for despite her crimes, she was as much a victim of the war as anyone, and had fought hard for her people, and every lost loved one anyone could remember.  Still, it wasn't enough, as so many had their names lost over the years...
She looked at the statue again.  Although she was proud of her work in making it, it wasn't enough, not nearly enough, to honor them. But it would have to do.
........................................
"Hey, Longshot, does something seem funny about these hogmonkey tracks to you?"
"..."
"Yeah, that is what was thinking.  But I just can't put my finger on it." Smellerbee stood up and shook her head.  "Maybe the other rangers had more luck."
The end of the war did little to curb the chaos in the Western Earth Kingdom.  Instead of Earth Kingdom rebels harassing Fire Nation colonies and bases, as well as Fire Nation troops and raiders harassing Earth Kingdom towns and forts, it was bandits and terrorists of every stripe and from every nation attacking travelers, towns and each other.  What was left of the Earth Kingdom Army after the war was ill-prepared to patrol such large spaces of mostly empty land or protect every refugee resettlement convoy and town.  It was simply too cumbersome.  Thusly, the Earth King created the Rangers, an organization of special police that cover wide tracks of land, operate independently of any bases and hopefully right any wrongs they came across.
Smellerbee took a moment to think of the irony; if her life had gone only slightly differently, she could have been one the very people she was hunting.  Still, it hardly mattered.  It was that irony that made her such a good ranger anyway.  She knew how they fought, she knew how they moved, and she knew how they thought, since she used to fight, move and think just like them.
Semellerbee saw another pair of rangers up ahead.  Like most rangers, they had customized their uniforms, officially plain green tunics, to suit their personalities.  One had shockingly clean clothes considering his occupation, as well as gold embroideries around the edges.  The other, a woman that looked almost as boyish as Smellerbee, and far more boyish than her male but yet feminine partner, had clothes practically brown with dirt and fur sown on the shoulders and belt.
"Hey, you guys seen any hog monkeys around here recently?"
"Not really.  Not since the water started drying up a few months back."
"Do you think that poachers-"
Before Smellerbee could finish a fearsome roar ripped through the air and the other rangers had no time to dodge the rampaging bullboon that tore out of the bushes.
Smellerbee felt like slapping herself. Those weren't hog monkey tracks, they were young bullboon tracks.  Bullboons were related to hog monkeys and goat gorillas, but were bigger and a lot meaner.
Longshot had already unleashed a pair of arrows, digging each into the misshapen beast's rear.  It roared again, more of rage than pain, and ignored the wounded rangers to attack these new annoyances.  Smellerbee pulled out her dagger from behind her waist and stared the beast down as it rushed at her, shrugging off the arrow strikes.  At the last moment, she side stepped its horns and plunged her dagger deep into its shoulder, losing her blade in the process. Nonchalantly, Smellerbee pulled out a Kriss and a Kukuri from her leg holsters.  She considered going for Jet's hook swords latched onto her back, but quickly decided they would be no good here.   The bullboon didn't try for her again, instead rearing up to strike at Longshot, who managed to roll out of the way.  Too close to charge or gore, the bullboon tried the same attack as before, but this time Smellerrbee dug her daggers deep into its rear knees. The creature howled and desperately tried to maintain its balance, allowing Longshot to put an arrow straight into its brain.
"Thanks Longshot, I don't know what I would do without you."
"Well, you had better learn soon."  When Smellerbee raised her eyebrows at that, Longshot clarified "There are three more coming, and I don't have many arrows left."
By this time, the other rangers had recovered and come to join them, and with additional spear and rope dart, they at least stood a chance.  Smellerbee smiled "Well, this should be interesting."
........................................
For Hope, the best part of her job was when she stopped pushing the train and got to ride on it.  She could rest her weary feet, kick back and watch the beautiful, wide open spaces go by.  Originally, Hope had taken the job of train driver just to help pay the bills without taking up a lot of time.  Then, the Earth King announced that because of improved security and stability he would be expanding the rail system outside of Ba Sing Se, and Hope new that she had to go.  Maybe her parents could be happy living in a still overly crowded city, barely making ends meet with all their hard work, but Hope knew she belonged elsewhere, knew she had to see wild trees and open spaces, mountains and valleys, rivers and oceans.  And so she went west.
"Mind if I sit beside you."
Hope snapped out of her thoughts to see a Water Tribe boy around her age standing expectantly by her seat.
"Go ahead." Despite her words, Hope found it only with great reluctance that her feet rose up from the row of seats she was using as foot rest.  "So, what's someone from the Water Tribe doing all the way out here?"
"Oh, visiting my parents.  See my mother is a healer, and she recently got a job as a professor of physical anthropology at Ba Sing Se University. My dad went with her, and he owns a seafood restaurant in the middle ring."
"How come you didn't go with them?"
"Err....it's kind of private."
"Sorry, didn't mean to pry."
Another moment passed in awkward silence before the boy spoke again. "So, I take it from your uniform that you drive the trains. Am I right?"
"You are correct sir. Its hard work, but its good, honest work, and you get to see a lot.  Even if you do have to put up with cranky passengers a lot. ‘Why isn't this thing going any faster?' ‘Because I am not a machine, mam.'"
The Water Tribe man chuckled at that. "I can relate to that last part. I'm a pilot back home." When Hope raised her eyebrows, he continued "It means I use my waterbending to ferry people around in small boats.  When you get some big shot with over-inflated ego, or some ignorant tourist, it can be a pain.  Relaxing though and it pays well."
Hope chuckled as well. "Well, if I could drink, I would drink to that."
"Well, I certainly hope that....whoa."
"Woah is definitely the right word." With a smile she looked at the window at the sight that had so stunned the Water Tribe man; the Great Span, a massive bridge that crossed over the Great Divide and took eight years to build. It wasn't just a useful way to avoid the dangers of the canyon; it was a symbol of the Earth Kingdom, and how far it had come since the end of the war.  You can try to knock the Earth Kingdom down, and you might even succeed, but it will always rise again.
..............................
Mongke felt no remorse as he selected a Fire Nation colony as the victim of his next raid.  After all, he had spent his whole life in service to his country, risking the deadliest foes, the most insane missions, and spreading the glory of the Fire Nation wherever he went.  And how did the Fire Nation reward him?  By allowing some scar-faced traitor to overthrow Ozai and send Mongke to their enemies in chains for "war crimes".  The very idea of crimes in war would make Mongke laugh if the whole situation wasn't so serious.
He considered joining one of the groups fighting for Sozin's ideals to continue the war, but they were too high profile, they were bound to be destroyed.  Besides, Mongke was sick of serving others, from now on he fought only for himself.
Although he lost contact with the other Rhinos, he still found like-minded people to join him.  One was a former Dai Lee agent, a man who spent his whole life serving others but was cast out as a traitor and rogue by both sides. Another was a former sergeant from the EK army, another a spearman from the Fire Nation, and two more orphans who neither knew nor cared about their origins.  All, vicious, bitter people who didn't care much about who they directed their anger towards.  A good group.
"Well then, "gentlemen", let's go see what they have for sale, shall we?"
.................
Lee never thought he would be happy to see a Fire Nation machine.  His brother had seen their devastating power all too vividly, and Lee had a close encounter with the Prince, now Fire Lord, Zuko himself.
Still, even a machine forged by evil hands could be used for a good cause, and Lee certainly had no ill will for the person driving it, an Earth Kingdom man who bought one of the many machines the Fire Nation was selling off as surplus.  He claimed his tank-train used to be owned by Princess Azula herself.  It might even be true, for less than twenty of those machines had been built, but Lee thought the Fire Nation just told him that to charge him more.  He knew that they were all too good at hiding their nature behind a sympathetic front.
"So, what have you got for me today?"
"Well, I got ash ban-"
"No, nothing Fire Nation."
"Well, then I am afraid more of the usual.  This drought isn't getting any better, and there is even talk of putting certain areas on rations.  Hence all the Fire Nation food, as the Fire Lord donated a lot of it, and many Fire Nation merchant's thought it would be profitable to get in on the act."
"They jacked up the prices I assume?"
"About half did.  The other half is trying to make a profit through bulk."
"Well, I guess I may have to eat their food eventually, but for now I will stick with the usual goods."
"Well try to think of it as taking something from them.  If you are eating it, that means someone in the Fire Nation is not."
Lee laughed at that.  "I think I like that."
................................
It seems that even in death, Bumi filled the town with gossip and speculation.  His choice of succession had been unusual to say the least, and many a philosopher sought to ponder his final legacy.  But no one spoke today, at his funeral.
Katara knew that in many ways, Bumi had lived a blessed life.  There were few who got to live as long, and even fewer got to see the 100 year war begin and end, the world before, after and in between. On the other hand, few ever had the misfortune of 100 years of war on their souls.  And yet, Bumi had never given into cynicism or depression.  Somehow, he was an optimist to the end.
As the day drew to its close and the crowds started going home, Aang lingered for a bit.  As Katara drew closer she saw that he was crying.  She was surprised at first, she had not scene him cry since the end of the war.  But she realized she shouldn't be surprised.  Aang had never been one for stoicism, and he lost a good friend.  A good friend and one of Aang's last links to his old life, the carefree child he used to be.
Katara walked over to him, they looked into each other's eyes and held each other, saying nothing the whole time.
....................................
"Hey, An-Ji, will you stop pacing? It is making the rest of us nervous."
"Oh, I was pacing? Sorry." An-Ji turned crimson with embarrassment.
"Look, we'll get through this. Just like we have gotten through all our concerts in the past."
"But this is the Peace Festival itself! This is bigger than anything we have ever done before!"
"You say that every time."
"That's because they keep getting bigger!"
Before her friend could respond, a stage hand came in on them and asked "Have you picked out your outfits yet? The concert is today and the crew needs to know how to decorate the stage."
"Oh...ummm...we'll get back to you in a minute."  As the crewman left, An Ji turned to her friend "So, do you think we should go with the dragon robes or the star tunics?"
"Wait, dragon robes?"
"Yeah, we just got them in.  Dark black with either gold or red and blue dragons for decoration. Oh and they got these little tassels things at the end of them...oohh, you should see them..."
"Those sound fine.  And since gold dragons never existed, I think I will go with the red and blue."
"All right then, I will inform the crew."
"Wait, shouldn't we ask the others?"
"Nah. You're our leader, and it is obvious to see which you like."  She stopped and looked as if in deep thought.
"Hey...what are you doing?"
"Oh, nothing...just thinking that this will be our first chance to see Aang again in...a long time..."
"Who?"
"Kuzon, remember?"
"Oh yeah, I still can't believe that he was really the avatar..."
"And he probably can't believe you are a star now.  Come on, we have wasted enough time."
.................
The Earth King sat back and mused about his adventures, first with the avatar, and then with Bosco as a humble man.  He had met so many interesting people, especially his current wife.  Truth be told, she still was still far from used to the palace life.
A good thing for them both that The Earth King was rarely in the palace.  His ancestors had spent so long cut off from the rest of the kingdom, had grown so distant from it, that when the King was needed most, he was too busy stamping art preservation requests to actually help anyone. He would never let that happen again.
Besides, it let him and his wife to indulge their mutual love of animal watching.
"Dad, when we will get to Taku?  It feels like it has been three days already?"
The Earth King chuckled softly. "I know you want to see the greenhouse, but be patient. All things in do time.  Mean while, why don't you join me here. Just beyond the river live some of the world's most fascinating creatures, like the squidephants, which are tragically rare after being used in the war. Or we can try out the new observation deck for some aquatic life."
"Er...that's ok dad.  I think I'll read my new book." The Earth King's eldest daughter, despite the tastes of her parents, was never as interested in animals as she was in plants.  Her younger brother liked buildings, the two were already planning on building a mighty hanging garden next to their father's new zoo and the central train terminal.
As his royal barge floated down the great lakes, and a passenger airship floated above in the opposite direction, the Earth King reflected on how nice it was for them to have dreams.  He had his life decided for him since the moment he was born, and had been a King as long as he could remember, so until recently he had no dreams of his own, simply content with being an average king.
But he had one now; to be a great king, the greatest his nation had ever known.
« Last Edit: Aug 31, 2008 05:15 pm by RhoughRhinoAlternate » Logged


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RhoughRhinoAlternate
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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The lack of Rhinos, Rough or otherwise, is noted.


« Reply #1 on: Jul 20, 2008 06:08 pm »

...............................
"And I do solemnly swear to protect and preach the heritage and destiny of the Fire Nation, to preserve the secrets of the dragons and the sacred flames, and to guide the Fire Nation and all its citizens along the road to enlightenment, so long as I shall live."
Fire Sage Shyu, the Head Fire Sage smiled.  "Then arise, Sage of Fire, may you gain great wisdom and spread it across the world."
Tom-tom rose, smiling with not undeserved self-satisfaction for having completed his long and difficult apprenticeship and joining the ranks of the reformed Sages.  No sooner had he risen than the door to the highest chamber of the rebuilt Crescent Island Temple creaked open, and a nervous looking novice stepped through.
"Sirs, there is an airship landing at the other end of the island."
"Strange" Shyu grumbled "there aren't any flights scheduled here for months."
"I think it is the royal airship sir."
Tom-Tom blushed and spoke sheepishly. "I believe that is for me, Masters. I think I should go get it."
As Tom-tom walked down the spiral staircase and across the barely paved stretch of road that connects the temple to the docking tower and the small harbor, he couldn't help but marvel at his family's mastery of the art of embarrassment.  Whenever something important was about to happen, they always managed to show up when he least expected or wanted them to.
"Hey there little brother. Come out to greet me personally?"
"Mai, what are you doing here? Were you just waiting for my ceremony to end? And where is Zuko?"
"First off, don't get so snippy to your big sister who flew way out of her way to come see you.  Especially since, judging by your words, I didn't actually interrupt their little initiation. Secondly, Zuko and I aren't joined at the hip, and he is very busy with the smelter's strike. Now, Tom-Tom..."
"Don't call me that! I am not a child anymore, I go by To- Ow!" He was interrupted by a small object hitting his forehead at blinding speed. "Was that a sunflower seed?!"
"I was eating some on the way over, and I figured I might need some to stop you from going on of your little rants." She gave him a glare. "If you don't want to be treated like a child, stop acting like one.  You're a Sage now, try to live up to it."
Tom-tom hung his head and shuffled his feet a bit. He wanted to say something about how a princess shouldn't use such dark make up, but he didn't know how many seeds she had left.
Mai's expression softened. "Well, mom and dad say hi, and they are really proud of you. Your uncle sent you this really neat time keeping device he confiscated off one of the prisoners.  Zuko wishes you the best of luck in your new role 'leading the Fire Nation to its roots' and...well you know how he goes on."
"When you see them again, please extend my thanks to them, and my hopes that I will be able to see them all soon."
A moment passed in awkward silence, and then Mai hugged him. "I am proud of you too."
..........................................................................................
Even though it was a bright and sunny day, Bato could barely see three feet in front of him.  Even the bridge of the aptly named Bloated Manta was oppressively dark, with only a few glowing crystals for the crew to able to see their instruments.  The captain of the ship, a hulking bald man with an Unagi tattooed along the right side of his face, never took his eye off Bato, and Bato would have done the same if that hadn't meant not watching any of the other crew.
Submarines were rare outside the Water Tribe Navy, since they required a team of skilled waterbenders to operate, and there was little civilian use for such a machine except for smuggling and piracy, so submarine crews tended to have an unsavory reputation.  Additionally, the crew of this particular ship were mostly third or fourth generation refugees who had grown up in neutral towns across the Earth Kingdom and Air Islands, and who had a somewhat strained relationship with their more traditional brethren.
However, that very crew was actually in the salvaging business, and they had made quite a name for themselves
A dangerous looking woman with all of her hair in braids stepped up and whispered something into the captain's ear.  He nodded and turned to Bato. "We think we spotted what you are looking for.  Kaji, let's try out those new Fire Nation lights." Without a word, the lanky man with dreadlocks flipped a switch and light shot out of the front of the sub, illuminating the remains of a Fire Nation warship. Around it were four waterbenders in special suits which, when combined with their waterbending, allowed to operate safely and comfortably even in the depths of these antarctic waters. 
Bato frowned.  "There are many wrecked ships like this.  Are you sure this is the one we are looking for?"
The Captain shot him a dirty look. "Try to have a little more faith for the best salvage crew around." He pointed out the window, and Bato's gaze was drawn to another rotting pile of metal, just beyond the ship.  He smiled as he recognized the wreck; a massive refueling and command station for the Fire Nation's southern fleet.  It had been the first thing that Hakoda and his warriors had demolished when they went to war.  That meant this was the ship they were looking for, and with it all the evidence they need to try some of the worst war criminals still free.
"I am sorry about that captain.  Is there anyway I can be out there?"
The captain rubbed his chin in though. "Unless you are rated for one of our pressurized dive suits or can waterbend very well, not likely. But I can take you down to the retrieval deck."
When they got there several non-benders were climbing into large, metal suits that would be connected by hoses to the sub.  With a great groan the center of of the floor grudgingly opened up, the air pressure kept the submarine from flooding, and the divers simply walked into the chilling seas.  They descend to the main cargo hold of the wrecked ship and aided the waterbenders in prying it op.  With that accomplished, the waterbenders began taking up positions in the water to deal with any sort of emergency while the armored divers placed glowing crystals around the largest supply crate.  Finally a chain balista, taken itself from a retired Fire Nation warship, was aimed, loaded and fired, reeling in the precious cargo.
"The crew is tired from the search. Now that we know where it is, we can come back tomorrow."
"Very well captain.  Put I would like to inspect the crate myself, see how much water damage there is." The captain nodded and went off to help his divers get back on board. Fortunately the crate had been sealed very tightly as remarkably waterproofed.  It barely had showed any signs of damage, and its contents, devices for medical experiments and detailed instructions on their gruesome uses, were untouched.  Now the mad quest to artificially create benders is more than hearsay, and justice can brought upon its perpetrators.
The war may have been over, but the quest for justice can never truly end.
...................................................
   "So, this is the rebel's fortress?  It doesn't look like much."
   "It is made out of wood so that we can't just bend our way in, and the same thing with metal in your case General."
   Toph spat into a nearby bush.  "I appreciate the consideration, but what is to stop us from burning the place down?"
   "That would be the hostages ma'am.  Several government officials and a few dozen villagers."
   The rebel's fortress was built on top of solid granite.  Good for vibrations, but hard to bend.  The tanks were made from the same stuff, so they could be moved with earthbending, but actually making one, or more importantly unmaking one, with earthbending took weeks.  Still, Toph has hesitant to deploy stone tanks against a group confirmed to have earthbenders.  However, the walls were lined with archers that would shred any infantry attack, and tunneling would take too long.
Toph started thinking, muttering that one phrase that focused and sharpened her mind when she need to think outside the box "What would Sokka do?".  After a moment or two, the answer became clear. "Commander I want you to move our forces to the north west. Make sure they are very visible."
"General, don't we want to surround them.?"
"If you surround them, they will scatter in every direction, and some might get through.  The best traps offer the illusion of escape. I will cover the south myself."
The Commander sighed. Toph handled the training of her forces personally, and the methods and standards she used were brutal.  Her soldiers were the best in the Earth kingdom, possibly the whole world.  However, when it came time for battle, they pretty much were relegated to safe mop up while Toph handled the dangerous bits herself. It wasn't that she was being protective of the troops, it was just that she loved fighting so much she could never bare to share the fin.  "By your command, General."
"Commander, before you go, I will need to explain the rest of the plan."
After circling around outside of the sight of the fortress, Toph rapprochement the back gate.  She was slightly nervous as she still had difficulty reacting to arrows, but she had prepared for that.  Besides, with any luck, the brigade assembling around the front of the fortress would draw all their attention. Certainly it took long enough for a messenger to come around a great her.
Remind her very much of a bagerfrog trying to impress potential mates, the emissary puffed himself up and croaked from the wall "Who wishes to speak with my master, King -"
"I don't care who he is.  The Earth King, the real one, ordered me to give you one last chance to stand down.  Personally, I would rather you didn't."
The emissary looks flustered.  The soldiers looked afraid, they all knew about the girl who tore apart the Fire Nation's war machines with her bare hands at age twelve, and they were not looking forward to facing a much older and more powerful version of that girl.
The emissary always thought the Avatar's heroes had a greatly exaggerated reputation, and even had he heeded those tales, his righteous indignation knew no bounds. "Do not speak so boldly for your usurper king!  My master is the heir to the rightful king of these lands!  the Earth King holds jurisdiction over Ba Sing Se alone, and its grasping tentacle have spread too far!  You take and you tax, but where was Ba Sing Se when the Fire Nation burned down our homes?  Where was Ba Sing Se when our people had to live as starving refugees or as the Fire Nation's slaves?  And now we are told Ba Sing Se is letting the Fire Nation keep the colonies built on the remains of those homes! What right does the king of Ba Sing Se have to command us?"
Toph actually pitted the man.  Most of the rebels Toph had put down had been overly strong bandit warlords, fanatics trying to continue the war, and princes playing petty political games.  Toph suspected that the so-called king was just playing the same games, but the people who worked for him seemed to have very legitimate issues with the way their country was run.  "You know that was because of Long Feng, and the Earth King has done a great deal to help these people since then. Stand down and no one will get hurt, and you can bring your grievances to the Earth King personally.
"We will nev-"
Toph turned around and walked away.  She went to a pile of fire works she had set up, and set them off.  That signaled the attack.
Immediately a dozen tanks rushed forward and smashed through the wooden walls of the fortress. The hatches opened all at once and foot soldiers stormed out and quickly overwhelmed the enemies in the breached room.  They formed a perimeter that kept the earthbenders at bay, since they had no easy bendibles they could not break though, while the tanks left, grabbed more soldiers and inserted them into the fort, completely invulnerable to the whizzing arrows.  Protecting each other in this way, the army managed to take the fort surprisingly easily.
Toph was almost disappointed that so few rebels escaped to come into her trap.  Just the king and his personal guard and advisors.  Toph waited until they noticed her, approaching wearily.  "That" Toph said completely evenly, "was the anvil."  Her voice rose. "I am the hammer!"
...............................................
 "Warden Ming, we have a new batch of prisoners coming in.  Would you like to inspect them or are you too busy?"
Ming thought this over for a moment.  In her heart, she was still just a simple gaurd.  She had never thought about actaully becoming a warden, and she had never asked for it either, but when Fire Lord Zuko needed someone to replace Warden Poon, Iroh had recommended her.  Why, Ming never knew; she didn't have the temperament of a warden.  Perhaps that was the reason.
"I'll go inspect the prisoners.  Who did we get this time?"
"Just three," that was not surprising.  There were very few prisoners here.  This place was reserved for those the world truly wanted to disappear.  War criminals, including Ozai himself and the former Princess Azula, crime lords, war lords and the worst order of thugs.  "One convicted of war crimes, nasty medical experiments, one blew up a pleasure barge in the Fire Nation and one seemingly kind young man with a basement full of corpses of tax collectors."
A joke about the last one being a hero entered into Ming's mind, but she quickly dismissed it and berated herself for even beginning to think like that. People, with friends and family, were gone because they had the bad luck of being having the wrong job in front of the wrong person.
The prison truck rumbled into the courtyard and the prisoners stepped out.  Ming watched them from the balcony. Ming was not good at giving scary speeches.  She didn't like it, she preferred to comfort people and bring them tea.  After pausing to consider what she was doing in this line of work in the first place, Ming decided it was her job to give the speech.
"This is the pit.  This is where we sweep away those that the world outside would like to pretend do not exist. While the rest of the world forgets about you, the men and women of this prison will watch you closely.  So long as you obey the rules, you well be able to enjoy the rest of your lives here.  And you will spend the rest of your lives here. Fire Lord Zuko and Avatar Aang have spared no expense into turning this into the holding cell in the world." Technically the Boiling Rock was better, but Zuko was seriously considering shutting that place down, since after the release of the war prisoners and the repeal of a number of oppressive laws, there weren't enough prisoners to justify such an expensive operation. "We have the best guards of all the nations, the highest tech security system money can buy, and an army of bounty hunters ready to track down anyone lucky enough to escape.  Enjoy your stay." With that Ming turned away.
In her free time, Ming worried about how much any of that would help. Iroh had escaped from this very prison.  The Boiling Rock was even more secure, and yet some prisoners had escaped from that too.  Speaking of which, if they did shut down the Boiling Rock, or move the prisoners from the palace prison to it as some suggested, then Ming would probably lose her job to the much more experienced warden there...who was the Fire Lord's uncle in law no less.
Worse for Ming, she imagined herself messing up, and giving one of the prisoners a chance to escape.  Should she fail, terrible criminals would free to prey on the innocent once again
Still, Ming was busy most of the time, so the day to day task of feeding, clothing and watching the prisoners, putting them to good use for humanity while making sure they were separated from it, rested on her shoulders.  Ming swore she would not fail.
..........................................................
Hu had felt his death coming for a long time now.  He sensed he had no more than a few years in this world.  Hu was not worried, of course, the tree had long ago shown him the illusory nature of death.  However, he knew he needed to pass on this wisdom to the next generation. Someone else would need to gather the vines and wear the mask to protect the swamp, to aide those who were lost, physically and spiritually, and make the world easier for the Foggy Swamp tribe.  He had found the perfect candidate.
Of course, it would have been easier had she sat still. 
"Hey boss, how long we gotta keep meditering fo anyway?"
You don't meditate until you reach a goal you set out for.  You meditate for as long as you meditate."
"ok then, I'm done.  Hey, check out this here flower."  The apprentice took off in a blur towards a multi-colored flower blooming on a nearby tree.  She called down a vine with waterbending and used it to climb up the tree.  She swung and slide and jumped from, on and around the branches of several trees to reach her quarry.
Hu chuckled.  That is why he had chosen the girl.  She truly loved the swamp, and she was fascinated by it, driven to learn all should could.  Still, she was at the moment too young to wait for the answers to her questions.  Hu had not been so different when he was young.
"Hey, umm...., boss? The sun is starting to go.  Home's far away and my ma and pa will get worred if I ain't home by dark."
"All right, all right, let's get going." Hu could heel his bone start to crack and he lumbered up to a standing position. "Why don't you go on ahead. This old bones cn't keep up so well."
"I reckon I'll see ya at camp then."   She darted off. swinging on vines and sliding on mossy tree branches. 
That was one way to enjoy the world, Hu thought to himself.  He enjoyed the world another way; walking slowly, breathing in deep and basking in the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world.  It was truly a wonderful place, if a bit cruel at times.  Much like the civilized world, or even the spirit world.
By the time Hu reached the village, his apprentice had already arrived, eaten dinner, practiced the drums and was starting to go to bed.  This was expected.  As Hu headed towards his own hut, her parents, Jo and Sali, veterans of the Day of Black Sun, approached.   
Jo spoke up first. "Hey Hu.  We appreciate what you are doing for Nu and all, but  me and Sali was talkin and...we was wondering...what exactly made you pick her..."
Sali stepped in "Well, I mean, we know about you said and all, about her loving the swamp and all.  But she ain't the only kid like that.  So, we was wondering, is there anything else we don't know about?"
Hu sat down, slowly as to not hurt his back, and explained. "This is hard for most people to understand, but time is an illusion, and so is death." The parents got nervous at that last part. "But even illusions can cause problems.  When I felt my passing approaching, I meditated under the great tree to see who would best succeed me.  I had a vision of a strong, woman giving guidance to the new avatar, who will be born here.  When I saw your daughter the next day at the swamp meet, I knew she was the person from my dream. She will teach the avatar, and help lead the world into a golden age."
Jo and Sali both wore serene expressions, until Sali's face crumpled up. "Wait, you chose her cause you saw her in a vision, but she is in that vision cause you chose her...where did the idea come from then?"
Hu shrugged. "I told you, time is an illusion."
However, he had to admit, in the case of the future, it was a good looking one.
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 20, 2008 06:27 pm »

I like this idea. It's nice to seen the minor characters getting a spot.  Cool
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 21, 2008 12:02 pm »

A very good story, I agree that the minor characters need some love, I can't wait for more.
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 21, 2008 04:39 pm »

These little one-shots are quite well done. Minor character love FTW!
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 18, 2008 08:49 pm »

For those who responded: thanks very much.

I wasn't planning on doing any more, but I have gotten new ideas since then.  Here is a short installment:


       Koko knew something was wrong about the crew of the unnamed junk that had been stopping on Kyoshi the past few weeks.  Koko didn't know why she knew, but the feeling in her gut was strong. Maybe it was how they bought and sold so little, and yet always seemed to have so much money.   Maybe it was their general quietness, they had to be the only sailors who didn't spend much time in the town pub, or maybe it maybe it was the way they always avoided eye contact.  They even kept their hands to themselves without anyone's fingers being broken.  They were downright bizarre.
   Of course, sailors were strange folk, and merely acting different was no grounds to arrest anyone.  Koko made sure to keep a close eye on them during her shift, but she doubted they would do anything the day light.  Other than tend to their ship and lurk around quietly that is.
   "So, which one is it?"
   Koko quickly turned her attention back to her partner. "What do you mean?"
   "You been looking on and off at those sailors for a while...so, which one has caught your eye? Who's the high seas hottie?"
   "Ty Lee! Honestly now! I have a boyfriend!"
   "Oh, it doesn't hurt to look.  I'm engaged, I still look. "
   Koko just shook her head.
   "Well, in any case, some of the other warriors and I were going to go relax at the barber shop after our shift, and maybe catch dinner later. Wanna come?"
   "Thanks, but I already have plans."
   Ty Lee shot Koko a wink "Well, have fun, but remember that doing more than looking isn't so ok."
Koko knew that Ty Lee wasn't really a dumb person.  But she was very simple and straightforward, and hard to dissuade from an idea once she had it.  It was best to not argue with her.  "Sure, I'll keep that in mind."
After Ty Lee had gone home with the others, Koko snuck along the roof tops to get a good view of the harbor.  Sure enough, several crewmen of the unnamed ship were slinking away, with shovels and torches, and one of them carrying a box.   They took a windy road into the mountains, and ever were they vigilant.  They investigated every sound, routinely stopped to look around and count their number. However, Koko was trained in an ancient and proud tradition of stealth.  They would have had better luck finding a ghost.
   It all became clear to Koko.  These guys were smugglers. They would pick up the contraband, whatever it was, probably opium, and bury it.  Then someone else would come pick it, either to use it themselves or to transport it further.  Likely, no one knew who the other links in the chain were, and if someone was caught, no trail could be traced.
   So, Koko decided to let them go tonight.  She would wait, and then catch whoever was going to dig up the goods.  She could arrest the smugglers next time.  Every chain had a weak link, and Koko felt like seeing just how many she could break.
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 18, 2008 09:43 pm »

Sweet! Grin I love Koko's characterization, and yay for Ty Lee! Tongue
I really like how you've kept the Kyoshi culture pretty strong. Wink
i.e. There's no doubt in my mind that the involved are 'in character' for a Kyoshi Warrior.

More coming soonish?
~KF
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 19, 2008 08:29 pm »

Quote
Sweet! Grin I love Koko's characterization, and yay for Ty Lee! Tongue
I really like how you've kept the Kyoshi culture pretty strong. Wink
i.e. There's no doubt in my mind that the involved are 'in character' for a Kyoshi Warrior.
Thankie much!  Although I must admit I cannot really think how I did that...

Quote
More coming soonish?
You could say that:
...


      It has been years since Ty Lee had been to the Fire Nation.  She didn't even consider it going home anymore.  Kyoshi Island was her home now.  It is more home than the Fire Nation ever was.  Kyoshi is where everyone knows her name, instead of just being one of her siblings, or an attraction at the circus, or a tool to be used by Azula. 
   Still, everyone needed a little time away from home every once and a while.  It would be nice to be someplace warm again.  And to go swimming somewhere without a giant monster just off shore.  Sure, the girls had said no one has ever been attacked any place but the harbor, but Ty Lee could never really enjoy the water anyway.
   "Are you going to take your move or what?"
   Ty Lee turned her attention back to the Pai Sho board. "Sorry Suki.  I just got distracted."
   "Or maybe you were trying to stall so I would quit before my inevitable victory." Suki made a move.
   "Made that move pretty quick. Been thinking of that one for a while, haven't you?"
   Suki merely smiled smugly.
   "All that time, and you never saw this coming." With one move, Ty Lee exploited the gap Suki's move had left, all but assuring her victory. 
   Suki slumped in depression. 
   Ty Lee is far better at Pai Sho than a first impression might imply.  Her simplicity meant she rarely fell for traps, and could smash some of the more complex plays with a simple counter.  Additionally, her airheaded personality sometimes let her come up with really outside of the box tactics.  Still, Ty Lee knew something wasn't right.  Suki was good at this game.  Real good.  For all his planning abilities, even Sokka rarely beat her.
   "Suki, are you doing ok?  You seemed tired."
   Suki sighed. "I guess I am just nervous about leaving Sokka alone for this trip."
   Ty Lee snorted out some laughter before she could stop herself.  "Come on Suki.  He fought on the frontlines of the biggest war in history. I think he can survive two weeks without you, even on your serene little island."
   "Pff.  It was a war, I would be fine.  He is finishing up one of his big inventions today.  The only thing that could kill Sokka is Sokka...and he seems to like trying to.  Remember the flying boat?"
   "You mean that plane he crashed into the harbor and the Unagi was right behind him."
   "Yes! I nearly had a heart attack." She reflected on that for a moment "Maybe Sokka was trying to kill me."
   "Oh, he got out of that fine he turned around and..." Ty Lee couldn't finish, bursting out laughing at the humorous memory.  To Ty Lee's relief, Suki joined in with a hearty laugh of her own.
   "Right in its nostril.....ah....I still can't believe it happened."
   "So, what is he working on anyway?"
   "Oh, some kind of artificial hotspring or something.  I hate when he works with engines.  And he gets the water too hot..." Suki was looking worried again.
   "You know what would calm you down?  This ship has got one of those new moving picture thingies. We should go check it out."
   Suki perked up.  "That does sound like fun.  What are they showing?"
   Ty Lee pulled her brochure out of her blouse. "Love Amongst the Dragons is the soonest."
   "Didn't Zuko try to ban that one?"
   "Well, you know how he is about that play.  After that is What do you Moon?, which is apparently 'a rip roaring spirit world comedy for the whole family'. I'll take it from your expression that's a no.  The last one for today is...oh...Immortal...‘the first avatar finds love, fear, betrayal and courage as she faces Jiang Shi, the life stealing Immortal Emperor...endorsed by the Ba Sing Se historical society'."
   "Now that sounds like fun.  But it sounds like a long way away.  What shall we do until then?"
   Ty lee thought. "We could always go for another round of Pai Sho."
   "A glutton for punishment, eh?" Suki stopped and looked up for second. "Hey, Ty lee..." Suki was blushing now. "Thanks."
   Ty lee put her hand on Suki's shoulder. "Hey, what are friends for?"

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« Reply #8 on: Aug 19, 2008 11:42 pm »

Hehe that was cute, even if the ending is just a tad cheesy ;P

Quote
"Yes! I nearly had a heart attack." She reflected on that for a moment "Maybe Sokka was trying to kill me."

I really laughed out loud here. It caught me off guard and is SUCH a Sukka thing to happen/Suki thing to say Grin Brilliant.

I'm a little confused about continuity o.O Will Ty Lee's 'going home' issue be resolved? It felt like the story suddenly turned from Ty Lee's thoughts on her place to a Sokka's inventions story to Suki/Ty Lee friendship. I'm not sure how to explain it, but they each felt very separate...?

Awesome work with improving Avatarverse technology though xD
~KF
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 22, 2008 12:00 pm »

Quote
I'm a little confused about continuity o.O Will Ty Lee's 'going home' issue be resolved? It felt like the story suddenly turned from Ty Lee's thoughts on her place to a Sokka's inventions story to Suki/Ty Lee friendship. I'm not sure how to explain it, but they each felt very separate...?
Oh, I was try to show how Ty Lee's "going home" issue was already resolved for her because of the strength of her friendships on Kyoshi Island, and the story between Suki and Ty Lee about Sokka just struck me as a very friend thing to do.  I thought it all tied together, my mistake.
Thanks for your comments!

Today's story is a short one I wrote for a meme prompt, so it doesn't follow the rules I have been using in the other stories here.


...
Despite the fact it happened every year for the past five Lin still couldn't get used to it.  People celebrating the victory of the traitor Zuko over the glorious Ozai. Lin basked in the memory of Ozai's beauty, which was both masculine and feminine somehow, his elegance, and his majesty....and then contrasted that with Zuko's horrible and twisted form, his treason every bit as disgusting and obvious as the scar on his face.

Well, today at least the traitors would share her tears instead of laughing and reveling in their lack of vision.  Lin knew the explosion would take her life as well, but that would be well worth it if, somehow, Ozai recognized her beautiful sacrifice.  With that Lin lighted the blasting jelly...
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 26, 2008 12:38 pm »

I love that you're not sticking to the "happily ever after" idea that the series left us with. There's plenty more for the Avatar characters to do and you come up with and describe those new adventures very well.

I'm hoping to see some Sokka appearances soon! Cheesy
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 26, 2008 04:52 pm »

 "You have what I need?"
   "Yes....good quality too.  The coolers on my ship keep it fresh.  You can go to heaven with just a bit of this."
   "I don't need your sales pitch.  I did order this special.  The price we agreed on then."
   "Well, that's just the thing.  I think you underestimated what I had to go through to get this."
    The cloaked man loomed over the ship's captain.  "Don't play games with me.  We had a deal. I don't tend to come back to those who break deals with me."
   "Best of luck finding another ship with coolers then.  Especially another one willing to come out here with merchandise like this."  A moment passed in silence. "Five percent more for damages to the ship retrieving this."
   "Personally, I think if you are that clumsy with your ship, that is your fault.  However, I am in a hurry, so agreed.  Best not to be seen by the Kyoshi Warriors.  They ask too many questions."
   "Pleasure doing business with you. You'll find where my men buried the rest of the goods on this map, and this bag is to prove that we aren't bluffing."  The hooded man gave a quick nod, which managed in its brief existence to convey many a horrific fate for the captain if the goods were not all in place, and then he exchanged a sack of gold for a crude map and a sample.
   The men went their separate ways. The man knew the Kyoshi Warriors were on the hunt for some smugglers.  He would have to be silent and quick to avoid detection.  Fortunately, he knew a few of the Kyoshi's tricks for himself.  Only a few would be out this late, but they would likely be on the roofs, looking down into the streets.  If he took the roofs himself, he would have a much better chance of avoiding detection.
   The hooded man didn't get far until he heard a fan open up behind him.
   "Nice trick...too bad Koko saw your buddies earlier.  We have been waiting for a moment just like this.  Now turn around and hand over the evidence."
   The man did so. "Well, I hope you like a jail cell.  Course we might just feed you to the..SOKKA!?"
   Sokka flipped back his hood.  "Hey Suki.  Ummm...surprise?"
   "What are you doing?  What is that..."
   "A kiwi-strawberry.  I remember how much you liked them when we were in the Fire Nation...but we could never get any here because they would go bad on the trip over.  Then I found out these guys had coolers in the ship...like on the Boiling Rock...and that they could bring some here without them going bad...and I thought it would be a nice  birthday gift..."
   "But the crew...they were sneaky...and...hands to themselves"
   "Covertly delivering gifts is kind of their specialty.  And they are all happily married men themselves..."
   Suki just stood there with her mouth hanging open.
   "Anyway, you always seem to find out about my gifts ahead of time, so I tried to be...sneaky this time."
   At this point Suki had recovered. "I think you went a little over the top." She threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.  "I appreciate the thought though."
   "Shall we go get the rest of them?"
   "Later...I kind of order some of the other warriors to capture the ship's crew..." She blushed "This is going to be awkward..."

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« Reply #12 on: Aug 27, 2008 10:05 am »

those are GOOD. all of them. I like it how you gave the more serious after-war themes a place in avatar, it adds an extra dimension to it.

you got me confused on the timing here and there, but that's ok. it only makes the story more interesting when some of the details are left for the reader to fill in. your writing style is perfect for this.

you wrote a follow-up on the Koko one, I'm glad. Smiley does that mean you will be writing follow-ups for some of the others, too?

if so, I request more of Smellerbee's story. Tongue it's my favorite so far.
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 27, 2008 08:47 pm »

I like the idea of Sokka learning roof-walking from Suki.

This addition made Koko's tale a funny read. Your speculations are interesting, but I'm interested in the idea of follow-ups revealing a continuing storyline. It could give you a chance to play around a bit.
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 31, 2008 04:20 pm »

Thanks to everyone for your comments!

Quote
I love that you're not sticking to the "happily ever after" idea that the series left us with.
First, sorry I didn't respond sooner.
Funnily enough, I thought this was happily ever after.  No resurgent war or main character deaths or breaking up couples...
Happy has room for adventure though.

Quote
you got me confused on the timing here and there, but that's ok. it only makes the story more interesting when some of the details are left for the reader to fill in. your writing style is perfect for this.
you wrote a follow-up on the Koko one, I'm glad. Smiley does that mean you will be writing follow-ups for some of the others, too?
if so, I request more of Smellerbee's story. Tongue it's my favorite so far.
Originally I was going to try to give everything an exact date after the war, but ultimately that was a lot of work to more restrict my writing than help it.  So, I am a bit confused about the time too. 
yes I will be writing more follow ups...although I haven't decided on who and when.  i will keep Smellerbee and Longshot in mind then.

Quote
I like the idea of Sokka learning roof-walking from Suki.
This addition made Koko's tale a funny read. Your speculations are interesting, but I'm interested in the idea of follow-ups revealing a continuing storyline. It could give you a chance to play around a bit.
Thanks.  I always wanted to show the various couples picking up skills and habits from each other.  Glad to know you like the Koko thing...I was worried I robed the poor girl of her triumph...well, I could always give her another one. I actually do have a longer plot in mind...threads of it should appear soon(ish).

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. .... ... .. ... ... . .. . . .. .. ... .... . .... .. . . . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .... .... .... .... .... .... ... .... ....
     Ghashiun stared out into the desert.  The stars were bright enough to navigate by, but a low layer of dust blown up by a soft wind provided good cover.  In the old days Ghashiun would have gone raiding in conditions like this.  However, age had changed him, as had nearly being killed by the avatar.  Conditions like this meant a sand storm was coming, probably in a day or two.
His mind started cataloging all the preparations that would need to be made.  The dune behind them would need to be solidified so it could provide some relief, and then everything would need to be tied down and covered with a tarp.  Of course, he would need to make sure that every tent would have enough food and air to survive long enough for the people inside to dig themselves free in case anyone is buried.  The sand sailors should probably be buried now so that they wouldn't suffer any erosion, the tribe was still desperately short of sand sailors so many years after the avatar's rampage, but there would be the trouble of making sure they could be found again.  Last time, one of the markers had been blown away and it took three days to find the sailor in question.
     "Interesting dunes tonight?"
     Ghashiun turned to his wife and gave her an odd look.  She had been the daughter of some big wig amongst the beetle merchants.  The marriage had been political in nature, but Ghashiun had been pleased.  They couldn't say he was in love with her, but she was beautiful, a good listener, a giver of sage advice and someone who could make him laugh, even when he didn't want to.  Ghashiun was fairly certain she was fond of him as well, and after a rocky first week she had grown to rather like her new home.  She still got homesick, so Ghashiun often traded with her family, even when he could get better prices elsewhere.  Of course, there are always downsides, and she could be annoyingly cryptic and teasing at times.
     "You were staring pretty intensely at the sand out there." she clarified.  "Do you see anything?"
     "Not really.  I am just thinking there is going to be a storm soon.  That means a lot of work to be done."
     She sat down next to him.  "Well, at least we have plenty of food this time around." She peered out into the endless sea of sand.  "So, in a few days those dunes won't even be there anymore.  The wind will have blown, the sand will have shifted, and we will be in a whole new world."
     He nodded in agreement.  "That reminds me.  Not too long ago when we were at the Oasis, I ran into a man.  He asked me how I could stand living in such chaos, barely surviving day to day."
She shrugged "I like it actually.  Everywhere else, the land always looks the same.  You take it for granted and get sick of it, no matter how beautiful the place is.  But the desert is always new."
     Ghashuin nodded again.  But his own reply to the man had been different. In the desert, the goal was always the same: find food, find shelter, find water.  Live another day.  It is simple, but is rewarding.  Elsewhere people became bored of their own existence and tried to give it "meaning", usually by meddling in the lives of others.  He couldn't remember when the war had ended, since it had no impact on his life, but he remembered how happy everyone was.  But everything he heard after that had been about someone trying to start the war again, or about plagues, famine and criminals reeking havoc on a weakened world.  He had said this to the man, looked into his eyes, and asked ‘Who is it who really lives in chaos?'
     The man had no answer.
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 31, 2008 05:07 pm »

Really good, so far I really enjoyed the Sukka and Koko (she cute) stories  Wink
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 31, 2008 09:00 pm »

I'm liking all of these.  Short, simple, and all differing in content or theme.  I do like the realistic look to things and how everyone's acting out in character.


Yeah, anything involving Kyoshi Island is great, but I have to give a honorable mention to Lin's story (I'm surprised by the death, but found is surprisingly appropriate).
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« Reply #17 on: Sep 02, 2008 09:48 am »

the ending of that last one is really good.
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