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Author Topic: Striving for a New Life (PG/PG-13) -- Chapter 36 added 6/July/10  (Read 22567 times)
SMBH
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Tiny!Zuko says: "I want older-me to be in TLOK!"


« on: Feb 25, 2007 05:48 pm »

Hello everyone. This is my very first fanfic, so I would really appreciate any and all criticism. I think this would be the first chapter, and I hope I rated it correctly, and if I didn't, please let me know -- I'm new at this fanfic stuff Cheesy  I hope you like it ^_^


Summary -- After Jet's death underneath Lake Laogai, Longshot and Smellerbee try to rebuild their lives as they are now completely alone in the world. Their story starts out concurrent with the latter part of Season 2, so they are at times indirectly involved with some plot points in the series. Over time they meet various people, some friendly and some not-so-much, as they make their way out of Ba Sing Se and towards their new lives.

17/Nov/2010 -- Chapter titles have been added to the story!



Striving for a New Life, by SMBH

Chapter 1: Under The Lake

Never had she felt so many emotions at the same time. Tears ran down her cheeks as she watched her first love die slowly and painfully. She refused to believe he would be gone forever, but it was all she could think about. Paying little attention to the chaos that surrounded them, she brushed away the hair that covered his face and tenderly kissed his forehead, finally accepting his unavoidable demise. She'd always loved him, but never felt strong enough to confess her feelings. She cried frantically as she felt his last breath and his body go limp. She took his dead body in her arms and silently whispered "I love you, Jet."

"We have to get out of here," she heard Longshot say. Smellerbee finally looked up and saw countless Dai Li agents on the ground, arrows protruding from their chests. She finally understood what had been going on around her.

"We can't leave without Jet," Smellerbee said as she stood up. "He's important to us. He's our leader. He deserves a proper burial."

Longshot looked at her eyes, red from crying so much, and slightly nodded to let her know that he agreed. He approached the corpse of their fallen leader, and with Smellerbee lifted him up, putting Jet's arms around their shoulders and carrying him towards the door.

Slowly walking towards the door, they heard fast footsteps just outside. "Are there more Dai Li?" asked Smellerbee. Longshot looked around, counting how many dead agents lied on the floor, and listening intently to the footsteps. He then looked at Smellerbee, shaking his head, his face stern and somber. "That's all of them? Are you sure?" Longshot nodded while keeping his eyes fixed on the girl's sorrowful expression. "Then whose footsteps are those?"

Her question was answered shortly afterwards, as two men ran by the door followed by two Dai Li agents. The former Freedom Fighters approached the door and carefully tried to see what was going on outside. They saw the alleged firebender that Jet had obsessed over so much, and his old uncle who had mistaken Smellerbee for a man, running away from the two other men. Longshot and Smellerbee thought momentarily about helping them, but what happened next startled them. The old man spat fire from his mouth, burning one of their pursuers in the face and chest. At the same time, the young man spun his dual swords around his body until fire shot out from them. The fire blasts hit the other Dai Li member, scorching his clothes and burning large parts of his skin.

Smellerbee almost dropped Jet's body at the sight, the two men writhing in pain from the burns while the firebenders ran and escaped. Longshot tugged on Jet slightly, an action that Smellerbee immediately noticed.

"I know. It's our chance to get out of here. I'm just horrified at the fate of those Dai Li."

Longshot looked at her with a blank expression and then looked back at the room where they had just been, the floor covered with Dai Li corpses. Smellerbee quickly understood what Longshot was telling her.

"At least these died quickly. Those two are still in pain." The very words that came out of her mouth sent a shiver down her spine. The two men were dying slowly and painfully, just like Jet. Her sympathy for the scorched pair immediately faded as she remembered that their leader was Jet's assassin.

She looked in the direction from which the two firebenders had come, and then in the direction to where they went. "We should follow the old man. I think he knows how to get out of here." And so they left, walking in the direction where the two burned agents lied already dead, dragging Jet's body and hoping that they would find the exit by following the old man.

Having walked for a long time, Longshot and Smellerbee came across a ladder that would lead them up and out of the underground prison. Smellerbee went up first, pulling Jet's arms. Longshot stayed behind, pushing Jet's body upwards. They sighed in relief once they were outside and saw no Dai Li agents around them. Longshot spotted the two firebenders running away in the distance, but said nothing to Smellerbee.

"We won't be able to leave Ba Sing Se carrying Jet. We're probably in the most wanted list by now!" Longshot nodded in agreement and walked towards the shore. He stomped around the sand, alternating between dry and wet areas, while Smellerbee sat on the ground staring at Jet's face.

"I'm sorry, Jet. I'm sorry we came to Ba Sing Se," Smellerbee whispered, her voice cracking as she held back the tears. "We should have come here earlier, when the Duke and Pipsqueak were still alive and could have come with us. We could have gone straight and do good without bad consequences. We would have never met the firebenders, and you wouldn't have died." She couldn't hold back any longer and a thin stream of tears ran down her cheeks. "I'm sorry I acted so jealous whenever you flirted with a pretty girl. I should have told you how I felt, even though you clearly thought of me as a little sister."

Her words were interrupted by a long whistle. Longshot had found a good burial place. He walked back towards Smellerbee and they both carried Jet's dead body towards the small hole Longshot had dug in the sand, behind a pair of lush trees that would hide the location from intruders. They enlarged the hole and dug deeper, using their hands and the small hand-shovel Longshot always carried, until the hole was the appropriate size to hold Jet's corpse.

As they started throwing the dirt back into the hole after placing Jet's body inside it, Smellerbee paused and stood there for a short time. "I need to have something to remember him, something that was part of him and that he loved... I want his hook swords, Longshot." The young man nodded, pulled the swords and their pouch, and gave them to the girl. She held the swords in her hands, examining them from all angles. She put the swords back in the pouch and held it close to her chest, closing her eyes as a single tear found its way out of them. Then both teenagers continued filling the hole until it was completely covered. She searched in her pockets and found the stick of red paint that she used to mark her face, knelt down in front of the makeshift grave, and pushed the stick slightly into the ground.

As she rose to her feet, eyes still fixed on Jet's final resting place, Longshot gently laid a hand on her shoulder. "We have to leave Ba Sing Se." Smellerbee agreed.



To be continued...



Edited to fix formatting (20/sept/08). ~SMBH
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 25, 2007 06:01 pm »

Hey SMBH,  I liked it, please continue.  Also if you get the chance, check out my thread
Poetry for Lovers--Avatar style.  I look forward to your comments.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 25, 2007 06:07 pm »

Nice chapter SMBH.  I was always curious as to what happened to Smellerbee and Longshot!  This is very well written, except...may I say...the brief fight scene.  Portraying a fight with one long sentence doesn't work very well: short choppy sentences might be better.  But anyway, keep going with it.
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Tiny!Zuko says: "I want older-me to be in TLOK!"


« Reply #3 on: Feb 25, 2007 06:13 pm »

Thank you, Windsong and dragonofthewest, for your praise and criticism ^_^

Windsong -- I've read some of your poems in the Couples thread. I'll be sure to drop by the thread where you have all of them Cheesy

dragonofthewest -- I had a feeling that sentence was too long Sad  I'll chop it up and be aware of that when I'm writing the next chapter Cheesy

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« Reply #4 on: Feb 25, 2007 06:17 pm »

Its very good! ^^ Keep going!
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Tiny!Zuko says: "I want older-me to be in TLOK!"


« Reply #5 on: Feb 27, 2007 12:14 am »

Striving for a New Life

Chapter 2: Fugitives

The walk from Lake Laogai back to the Lower Ring was a long one. After a few hours, Longshot and Smellerbee had to stop to pick some berries to eat, carefully examining them to make sure they didn't pick any macahoni berries. While picking berries, Longshot gathered some twigs and Smellerbee made a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

"We should get some sleep," Smellerbee told her companion. Longshot looked at her, his eyes sad and tired. "What do you mean we have to keep going? We need to rest, at least for a few hours." Longshot shook his head at Smellerbee's suggestions, and insisted, through facial expressions, that they should keep going. After much arguing, Smellerbee practically yelling at her quiet friend, he agreed that they would rest for four hours. Smellerbee decided that was a good compromise, and they laid down next to the fire, trying to rest and not think about what happened that day.

Smellerbee could not get the image of Jet's lifeless body out of her mind. She remembered about the time that Jet lifted the waterbender up to their hideout. "Why did he take *her* in his arms and not me?" she asked herself in her dreams. She saw herself spying on Jet as he flirted with a woman wearing a purple dress, whose name Smellerbee had never learned because Jet never told her about his gang. She thought about those female guards at Full Moon Bay, and how three of them were all over Jet, who enjoyed every minute of their attention. She cringed as she remembered how Jet attempted to flirt with that mute girl on the train to Ba Sing Se. She was mad at how obsessed Jet was with the firebender. She wanted his attention. She had decided to confess her feelings once they reached Ba Sing Se. She never got the chance, and now it was too late. Longshot noticed her tears as she cried in her sleep.

Longshot, however, couldn't sleep. His entire worldview had been turned upside-down. He'd always known that the Fire Nation were evil, cruel, ruthless. He imagined the Earth Kingdom capital as a vibrant city that offered safety to survivors of the war. Now he didn't know what to think. He thought back to the day he ran away from his home. "I should have stayed. I could have helped them." Longshot's thoughts focused on his mother and the argument they'd had on that fateful day. "I should have obeyed her. I should have listened to her. But I didn't..." Tears accumulated in his eyes, which he wiped away quickly. He needed to be strong. He needed to be there for Smellerbee. He knew she loved Jet and was very vulnerable right now. And most importantly, he had to make sure she got out of Ba Sing Se safely.

Shortly after he finally drifted off to sleep, Smellerbee woke him up with whispered shouts. "Longshot! Longshot! There's something in the bushes!" Longshot sprang up and grabbed his bow. He looked at Smellerbee and told her with his eyes to stay there. As he walked towards the bushes, he wondered how had he not heard that sound. "Maybe I actually fell asleep," he thought. He followed the sound as it moved around out of view.

Smellerbee waited near the fire, afraid that the Dai Li had followed them, or that the firebenders were there to kill them. She gasped as Longshot disappeared behind the wild shrubbery, bow and arrow in hand. A few minutes passed, but Smellerbee felt it was an eternity. The rustling sounds continued for a while, and then suddenly stopped. She covered her eyes, expecting the worse. Then she remembered the hook swords. She pulled them out and assumed a fighting stance, ready for whatever or whoever came out from behind the bushes. She held her breath as the leaves moved about, creating a narrow path as they parted. She heard weird footsteps, and then a soft neigh.

"An ostrich-horse!" yelled out Smellerbee with much joy. Longshot had found the animal wandering about, eating leaves and berries. The horse was saddled, but there was no rider. Longshot found the docile beast almost immediately after he went behind the bushes, but he took a long time to come back because he searched around for the horse's owner. Since he found no one, he took the horse back to their provisional campsite.

Smellerbee approached the ostrich-horse and petted him. She studied the saddle and found it sturdy enough for three people, or perhaps a lean person and a larger person. Regardless, she and Longshot would easily be able to ride it. "Now we can get back to our apartment in the Lower Ring faster!" Longshot nodded and put out the fire, and they both mounted the animal and headed towards the city.

...

They hadn't realized how much time had passed from the time they buried Jet to the time when they found the ostrich-horse. The ride back to the city wasn't long, but when they finally arrived it was near sunrise. Longshot tied the ostrich-horse to a wooden post in front of their building, and they headed towards their apartment. They had very little stuff there, but the supplies would at least last them for a couple of days while they left the city.

As they went up the stairs to their second-floor dwelling, Longshot felt something. His sense of hearing was remarkably acute, and when he noticed the distinct sound of stone shoes on wooden floor, he pulled Smellerbee aside and gestured to her to shush. He peeked around the corner and he confirmed his suspicions. Three Dai Li agents guarded their door. Smellerbee was right; they were probably on the most wanted list, or there would be no officers waiting for them. Longshot turned around, grabbed Smellerbee's hand, and went back down the stairs.

"What's g--" Longshot interrupted her with a stern but quiet "shh" sound. They got back downstairs, untied the ostrich-horse, and rode away. A few blocks later, they stopped.

"What happened there? Why did you... Was the Dai Li waiting for us?" Smellerbee immediately understood. Longshot was only trying to protect her. She felt she didn't need protecting from anyone, but appreciated deeply how Longshot had been there for her since the prior day.

As they walked around the neighborhood, Smellerbee wondered if Longshot would ever speak again. She had only heard him speak three times -- when he told the Avatar and his friends to leave them with Jet, when he told her they had to get out of the prison, and when he told her they had to leave Ba Sing Se. It seemed to her that he spoke only when he had to say something about leaving. Even though she understood his face perfectly, she still wanted him to talk to her. She needed to hear some reassuring words, not just reassuring looks. Out of nowhere, Longshot stopped walking.

"What's wrong?" she asked. Longshot looked down at the horse's empty supply sacks. "We have no supplies. I know. We don't even have any money. Even though we need to leave, we'll have to get jobs and stay here a while."

Longshot's eyes opened wide as he heard her say those words. He shook his head and moved his eyes back and forth. Smellerbee wished he would just talk to her.

"Please Longshot, just tell me why we can't postpone leaving until we have enough supplies."

Longshot sighed as he hung his head. He looked up and said "We can't stay. The Dai Li will hunt us. We need disguises, or we need to leave fast."

Smellerbee was glad he had talked to her, but she knew very well that he was right. They needed money but they had to leave. They couldn't leave unless they had money. It seemed there was no way out.

They stood there thinking for a few minutes, and suddenly heard a loud crash. They turned around to see a man lying face-down on the ground in a lot of pain. Another man came flying out from around the corner and landed on top of the first one, face-down as well. A third man followed, but this one fell on his back, while seemingly hugging a large piece of rock.

"You said these lowlifes would tell us where she is! But they're all acting like the ignorants they are!" The man emitting those words sounded very angry. It was apparent he had a very short temper, and that he was an earthbender. He had to be the one who threw those three men.

"This sounds like trouble. Let's get out of here," said Smellerbee to Longshot. The silent archer agreed, and they started walking away. They hadn't walked ten steps when they heard a booming voice behind them.

"You there! With the bow and the hook swords! Turn around now!" The kids continued walking but then their feet were trapped in the ground and dragged back to where the voice came from. The situation startled the ostrich-horse, and it ran away.

"Treat them well, or they will not assist us." It was a softer voice, that of an educated and sophisticated man. "Now turn them around gently."

The ground that trapped their feet slowly turned until they were facing the two men. The first was a muscular man with long black hair, parted in the middle. He wore a green vest, opened to show his muscular chest. It was apparent that the angry, booming voice came from him. The other man, the owner of the softer, more sophisticated voice, had a thin mustache and beard, and wore his hair in a topknot. His clothes were elegant, with long, white sleeves and a green overcoat with yellowish designs.

The larger man began speaking first. "You filthy scum are going to help us find someone." He kicked the ground and a large rock flew up and floated in the air over his left hand.

"Now, now, rash actions will not get us anywhere," said the elegant man, while wagging a finger back and forth in front of the other man. "Remember what happened at the Misty Palms Oasis? Allow me to speak to our two friends here."

The large man responded, "Fine! Do what you want! But as soon as they lie, I will crush them!"

"We are looking for a young earthbender girl who is accompanied by a bald monk. Would you happen to know about their whereabouts?"

Longshot and Smellerbee looked at each other, silently.

"They know! They know where she is!" yelled the angry earthbender, his voice thundering through the streets. He stomped the ground again and trapped the teenagers between large slabs of rock. The man stomped again and the ground produced two large jagged rocks.

"You WILL tell us where she is, or I will kill you both RIGHT NOW!"



To be continued...



Edited to fix formatting (20/sept/08). ~SMBH
« Last Edit: Nov 17, 2010 09:23 pm by SMBH » Logged


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« Reply #6 on: Feb 27, 2007 12:33 am »

WOW;  great storyline.  I admire your ability to put together such a comprehensive story.  Keep up the great work and if you have a chance; please check out some of my new offerings.

Windsong
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 27, 2007 02:38 pm »

Wow.  Yu and Xin Fu still haven't learned their lesson?  I hope you have an explanation for how they got out of that metal box.   Grin

Who is that mysterious woman in the purple dress?  Is that Katara?  Smellerbee must have been so jealous of her, albeit she never showed it...

Keep going SMBH!  We are all looking forward to the next chapter!
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 27, 2007 07:54 pm »

Hehehe, Yu and Xin Fu haven't found Toph in Ba Sing Se yet Wink


The women in Jet's life:
- Smellerbee was indeed jealous of Katara, "the waterbender [he lifted] up to their hideout", but she held back because she didn't want Jet to notice
- The woman in the purple dress is this one from "The Swamp", that gave money to Iroh and Zuko. At some point sometime between Episode 10 and Episode 24, Jet met her and tried to woo her Tongue  He never told her about the Freedom Fighters, but Smellerbee followed him one day and saw them together
- The female guards at Full Moon Bay are three of the real Kyoshi warriors, sans uniform (dressed like Suki was when she first found the Gaang). Jet was hanging out with them before he met Zuko Wink


And two little details that I was giddy with glee when I noticed I could include them:
- The ostrich-horse is the one that Iroh and Zuko had and that at some point disappeared -- hence Smellerbee finding that the saddle was sturdy enough to hold "a lean person and a larger person" Grin (what? it stayed behind when they took the ferry? nonsense! Tongue )
- The macahoni berries cause blindness, which is why Smellerbee and Longshot were making sure they didn't pick any


Glad you're enjoying it Grin ^_^
« Last Edit: Feb 27, 2007 07:59 pm by SMBH » Logged


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Katara is a water-bending princess.


« Reply #9 on: Mar 03, 2007 07:55 am »

Are you going to write more?
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 03, 2007 08:00 pm »

Striving for a New Life

Chapter 3: Bounty Hunters

Smellerbee struggled to free herself from her rocky retainer, but her efforts were all in vain. Longshot had taken a different approach, and he just stood there, motionless, studying the men and hoping that 'Fancy Pants' would ask 'Muscles' to free them.

"Let us go! Who are you? What do you want from us?" Smellerbee yelled out between grunts, as she tried to break through the stone slabs, unsuccessfully.

"I am Master Yu," said the soft-spoken man, "and this is my associate, Xin Fu. We have been traveling at the request of the Bei Fong family. We are searching for their blind daughter, Toph, who was kidnapped by the Avatar. She is a delicate child, and her parents are worried sick about her."

Smellerbee was confused. "The earthbender is not a 'delicate child'. Why would her parents think the Avatar kidnapped her?" she asked herself.

"Well?? Are you going to tell us where she is, or do I have to crush it out of you?" Xin Fu said, as he moved the rock slabs closer together, making them tighten around their prisoners. "And what's wrong with YOU?" he yelled at Longshot. "Are you just going to stand there and say nothing??"

Longshot frowned, scowling at the earthbender.

"Don't yell at him! He can't talk!" shouted Smellerbee, enraging Xin Fu.

"And who are YOU to tell me how I should talk to people?? You're nothing but a pathetic excuse for a man."

The girl held back the tears. She was sick of people confusing her for a man. Only the Freedom Fighters had treated her as an equal, regardless of her being a girl. Every other person she met had thought she was a man. And when people found out she was a girl, they always patronized her, always assuming she was weak and defenseless. She didn't correct him.

Composing herself a little, Smellerbee then spoke to her captors rather calmly and nonchalant. "Well, if you're looking for the Avatar and his earthbending teacher, then you won't find them here. Nothing but penniless scoundrels like us around these parts."

Master Yu slightly raised his eyebrow, making sure that no one noticed it. "How does he know that Toph is the Avatar's earthbending teacher? This is very interesting. They must know the Avatar and his group of friends, and it is very likely that they know where Toph is right now."

He continued immersed in thought while Xin Fu tried to get information from the kids by means of brute force. Master Yu never particularly liked Xin Fu, nor could he tolerate him sometimes. Xin Fu was such a vacuous barbarian, completely fit for his job as ringmaster in the earth-wrestling circus. He was beneath actual earthbenders, who learn the art for useful purposes, not just to 'entertain', if that can even be considered entertainment. All along Xin Fu had just been a necessary inconvenience for him. Lao Bei Fong offered them both a plentiful reward for bringing Toph back. If they went their separate ways to cover more territory, there would be no guarantee that Xin Fu would not play dirty and try to get the bounty by himself. "I could care less about Toph's current life, but there is a small fortune waiting for us in exchange for her." His thoughts about the money gave him an idea.

"Very well," he said, interrupting Xin Fu's continuous string of insults. "How about I offer you gentlemen a deal? If you tell us where we can find Toph, then we will give you one hundred gold pieces." Smellerbee's eyes grew wide. With a hundred gold pieces they could buy new clothes and disguise themselves from the Dai Li. They could buy supplies that would last them for weeks. And they could finally be able to leave Ba Sing Se.

"A hundred gold pieces?? What do you mean WE will give them any money?? I'm not giving them ANYTHING!" Master Yu let out an exasperated sigh at the wrestler's crassness. Turning towards the kids, he said "We will let you think about our offer for a few minutes." He bowed and went around the corner, dragging Xin Fu with him.

Longshot watched the two men walk away and out of their sight, and then turned his attention to Smellerbee. "A hundred gold pieces, Longshot! This is like a gift from the spirits!" Longshot did not make a single facial expression, and just stood there, staring into her eyes. Smellerbee noticed his lack of expression, and she knew exactly what he was thinking.

"I know. You're thinking we shouldn't tell them. They look like they have bad intentions. But do you seriously think that they will have any chance against the Avatar and his earthbending teacher?"

Longshot thought about this for a second. She was right. The Avatar is a powerful bender. The blind girl disposed of countless Dai Li agents almost single-handedly. These two men were clearly outmatched. Revealing what they knew would not significantly affect anyone.

Around the corner, Master Yu tried his best to keep Xin Fu from losing his temper.

"Have you gone insane!!!" Xin Fu barked at him.

"Shush, or they will hear us."

Xin Fu crossed his arms in annoyance, giving Master Yu an incredulous and angry look.

"It is my impression that these two hoodlums know where Toph is, or else they would not have known that she is the Avatar's earthbending teacher. They are poor, the younger one said so himself, and I am quite certain that they would tell us everything we want to know if we give them the appropriate incentive."

These words annoyed Xin Fu even more. "I could give them appropriate incentive. Either they tell us where the girl is, or I crush them!"

Master Yu sighed. "Patience. I've told you before we need to have patience. One hundred gold pieces is nothing compared to the bounty that awaits us in Gaoling. This small sacrifice will make our hunt far easier."

Xin Fu thought this over, trying to figure out if it was worth doing. Why should those two cowards deserve one hundred gold pieces? Why should he give up fifty pieces from his share of the reward? He was certain that if he had been traveling alone, he would have found Toph a long time ago. He considered Master Yu an incredible annoyance and completely unnecessary for the task of finding the girl. Many times he thought of just ditching that spoiled sham of an earthbender and claim the reward for himself, but he knew Lao Bei Fong wanted them both to find and return his daughter. And right now there was no other option but to listen to the man's ideas.

"What if they just grab the money and run?" said Xin Fu, to which Master Yu replied "That will not happen. I have a plan, my dear friend. Patience..."



To be continued...



Edited to fix formatting (20/sept/08). ~SMBH
« Last Edit: Nov 17, 2010 09:23 pm by SMBH » Logged


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« Reply #11 on: Mar 04, 2007 02:10 am »

I continue to follow your story with great interest.  Your character development is outstanding.  Thank you for posting on my thread and I continue to look forward to your comments.


In Friendship,

Windsong.
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 05, 2007 01:38 am »

^ Thank you Cheesy  I always appreciate your kind comments.

I tried to make this chapter almost entirely about the character's thoughts and feelings. I always got the impression that Xin Fu and Master Yu did not get along at all and they both probably thought the other man was beneath him. In further chapters, Longshot and Smellerbee will get even more development, as they continue rebuilding their lives Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 06, 2007 02:34 pm »

The theme of this chapter seems to be "incipient betrayal".

S and L contemplate selling out the gaang, and Yu and Xin Fu consider selling each other out.

It is a dismal picture of human nature you paint, SMBH.

I am rooting for S and L staying true and Y and X to fall out.
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« Reply #14 on: Mar 06, 2007 03:06 pm »

^ Yup Grin

However.... things don't always go right... and happy endings don't happen most of the time...

*dun dun duuuuuun*

Chapter 4 will appear sometime within the next couple of days. I've been busy with a presentation and some codes that didn't want to work and kept crashing, but now I'm done with the presentation, so I won't have to worry about that, and I'll be able to have more free time and think about the next chapter (I've already written about 1/3 of it, but there are more things that have to go there).

Glad you're enjoying it Cheesy
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« Reply #15 on: Mar 10, 2007 03:38 am »

Striving for a New Life

Chapter 4: The Deal

"So? Are you two sewer ratdogs going to talk or do I have to break your legs?" Xin Fu yelled at Longshot and Smellerbee, as this was the only way he knew of communicating with people. Master Yu put a hand on Xin Fu's shoulder and pushed him back, telling him to calm down.

"I apologize for my companion's boorish behavior. We were just wondering if you had come to a decision regarding our offer."

Smellerbee and Longshot looked at each other for a few seconds. Xin Fu grew increasingly impatient, in spite that the silence lasted only a short time. Master Yu, on the other hand, looked calm, even though his thoughts were a mess. If the kids didn't collaborate, Xin Fu would lose his mind and possibly murder them. If they agreed to help them, then he would have to make sure Xin Fu didn't ruin his plan by being his regular thuggish self. He needed Xin Fu to collaborate as well, although he wasn't sure how this would happen.

Smellerbee turned towards the two men and said "Yes. We'll tell you what we know. It's not much, but we think it's accurate. But we have one condition that you need to agree on before we say anything."

Xin Fu had been annoyed with the seemingly endless silence that had just been broken, and hearing these words did not help calm down his nerves. "A condition?? You dare impose a condition on us?? After we've already offered you money??" he said as he began to slowly sink the kids into the ground. "Are you aware that I can just break the ground open, plunge you down into the earth, close it up and leave you there to die when you run out of air??" Master Yu then made a pillar of stone emerge from the ground in front of Xin Fu, knocking him backwards. If not for the intervention of Master Yu, Longshot and Smellerbee would have ended their lives buried alive.

"Again, I offer my apologies. My associate is not used to interacting with civilized human beings," he said to the still-trapped kids, as he lifted them up from the ground and lowered the stone slabs that restricted their movement. "You mentioned having a condition. If we comply, you are bound to give us the information we need." By the time he had finished speaking, Xin Fu was back on his feet and approaching Master Yu menacingly.

"We're being persecuted by the Dai Li. We need disguises to hide from them. With the money you will give us we'll be able to buy new clothes, but in the meantime we need to hide from the Dai Li."

Xin Fu was confused and angry. Why should they help these two dirty thieves if they're already giving them money? He was certain that this was a trap. They probably didn't know anything about Toph and were trying to con them. He considered Master Yu a gullible fool, so he probably believed every word the kids had just said. Xin Fu knew that he would have to keep a close eye on them, because the two young ones could take the money and run. He even thought it probable that Master Yu had a deal with the two children. It made perfect sense to him. His eyes widened as he realized that the three of them were probably plotting to keep the reward to themselves and ditch him somehow. He would not let this happen. He should be the one to keep the reward, not those three imbeciles.

Longshot stared attentively at the muscular man. His facial expressions spoke more than any words the man could convey. It was a look Longshot had seen before. The man was becoming paranoid, thinking that other people were plotting against him. It was the same look that Jet had on his face when he wanted to expose the firebenders' true identities a few weeks before. Any man consumed by paranoia was bound to act irrationally, and this was something to be wary about. Smellerbee was a good negotiator, and the elegant man seemed a bit more trustworthy than 'Muscles', but it was very clear that neither of them were to be fully trusted. It seemed like the two men didn't even trust each other.

Unaware of the screaming silence between their partners, Master Yu and Smellerbee were ironing out the details of their deal. "We will bring you both to the Middle Ring, where you can buy new clothes to disguise yourselves. Do not try to escape while clothes shopping or we will alert the Dai Li."

Smellerbee nodded in agreement with Master Yu's words. "Fine. But you must promise that you will help us hide, even after we get disguises. We can't risk being found." They shared a handshake after a few more words, and called on Longshot and Xin Fu to join them.

As they walked towards the wall separating the Lower Ring from the Middle Ring, they were surprised to find the ostrich-horse, which had been hiding behind a cabbage cart it had crashed into while fleeing from the earthbenders. An angry merchant screamed at the horse for destroying his cabbages and walked away in tears. The animal ran towards the group and snuggled up to Smellerbee, smelling her hair.

"We will probably need an ostrich-horse to transport Toph back to her parents. May we buy it from you?" Master Yu asked Smellerbee. Realizing they would not be able to care for the horse while on the run from the Dai Li, Smellerbee agreed to let the two men keep it, but only if they doubled their bribe to two hundred gold pieces. Master Yu agreed, much to Xin Fu's chagrin, and the horse changed owners, while the two kids received twice as much money as had been promised to them in the first place.



To be continued...



Edited to fix formatting (20/sept/08). ~SMBH
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 10, 2007 05:12 am »

Striving for a New Life

Chapter 5: Disguises

"I suspect you two are happy to be out of that squalid slum you called home," said Xin Fu as they entered the Middle Ring. Getting past the guards was easy enough, since they had a Flying Boar card given to them by Lao Bei Fong.

"Yeah, this is nicer than the Lower Ring. Now we have to find a clothes shop," Smellerbee said as she looked around, making sure no Dai Li agents were near. Shortly afterwards they arrived at a somewhat fancy shop, and they stopped there.

"Let's go inside and find you two some new clothes." Master Yu led the way, followed by Smellerbee and Longshot, while Xin Fu stayed behind to make sure no one ran off.

Some time later, Smellerbee and Longshot came out from behind the dressing walls with their new clothes, which made them look quite different than before. Longshot wore a dark green robe over a light yellow shirt with long, flowing sleeves, similar to the ones Master Yu wore. His trousers matched the color of his sleeves, and were barely visible under his long robe. His new outfit was finished by dark green shoes, and a square hat to match the shoes and the robe. On his back, an elaborate contraption held his bow and arrows, as well as the hook swords they had taken from Jet after his burial.

Smellerbee's transformation was more dramatic. She wore a beautiful olive-colored dress that hugged her body to reveal subtle curves she didn't even know she had. A dark golden band marked the high collar and crossed the front of the dress diagonally from her left shoulder to her waist, where it wrapped up into a waistband. Flowing sleeves ended with two dark golden bands, a pattern that repeated at the bottom of the dress. Her olive shoes were visible only when she walked, as they were mostly hidden under the long dress. Her hair had been brushed and pulled back, held in place by a small headpiece with a panda-lily flower on top. The shop owner had made sure to clean her face and apply makeup on it, completing the transformation.

The two earthbenders were astounded at Smellerbee's new attire. Neither of them had thought she was a girl, given her previous masculine clothes and disheveled hair.

"I'm sorry, but I had no idea--"

Master Yu was interrupted by Smellerbee's raised hand. "I know. It's a common mistake. Please don't say more of it."

Xin Fu wiped the shock off his face and spoke surprisingly calmed. "You have new clothes. You have the promised money. We have the ostrich-horse, and now we need the information you promised us... Well??"

Before Smellerbee could open her mouth, Longshot voiced a response. "The Avatar lives in the Upper Ring. We've known this for a few days. The Avatar had lost his flying bison, and was spreading flyers around the Lower Ring asking for information about it." Longshot then produced a flyer he had kept and hidden in his old clothes, and gave it to Master Yu. "You can find the Avatar with the information in there. His earthbending teacher should be with him."

Happy with the information they now had, Master Yu thanked them for their aid. "We have the information we need, but we still have to make sure you are not lying. You will accompany us to the wall to the Upper Ring and we will let you go once we make sure this is correct."

...

"Yeah, the Avatar and his friends live in a house here. Why do you ask?" The guard at the wall was indeed curious, as no one from the lesser rings had come asking for the Avatar.

"We have a letter for his earthbending teacher, from her parents." Master Yu gave the guard a parchment he'd kept with him for a long time. Xin Fu didn't know what this was about. Master Yu had not mentioned a letter from Toph's parents. He was being betrayed. He was certain of it. But then he remembered Master Yu's words. He had a plan. This must be the plan. The letter had to be fake. If not, he would make sure that Master Yu would never be able to write anything again.

The guard looked at the golden winged-boar emblem that sealed the parchment and deemed it authentic. "Alright. We'll let you in. But you have to follow protocol before your letter gets delivered." The gates to the Upper Ring slowly opened, and the group walked inside, ostrich-horse in tow. A woman with short black hair and an unusually wide smile received them at the other side of the gates.

"Welcome to the Upper Ring. My name is Joo Dee. I have been told you have a letter for Toph. May I see it, please?" Master Yu gave the parchment to the woman, who then inspected the seal. "This letter is very official, and must remain private and delivered quickly. I will deliver this letter personally."

Smellerbee and Longshot were uneasy with the woman's appearance and behavior. She looked like the women being brainwashed under Lake Laogai. She was one of them, one of Long Feng's pawns. She would probably just give the letter to Long Feng himself instead of delivering it to the Avatar. This, however, did not concern them. The two earthbenders needed confirmation about the Avatar's location, and now they have it. Whatever that letter says will probably lead the Avatar's earthbending teacher to the men, so their part of the deal had been completed. Now they just had to be let go.

"You must stay in the Upper Ring while you wait for Toph's response. Do you have a place to stay, or should I find you an inn?"

Xin Fu was surprised at what the woman told them. He had no idea people in the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se were so credulous. But he was even more surprised at Master Yu's response.

"Thank you, but we have a place to stay. We will wait there for Toph's reply." He bowed to the woman, and she left.

"We have a place to stay?" asked Xin Fu, confused, and speaking softly so the two kids did not hear their conversation.

"Yes, we do. Lao Bei Fong had suspected that Toph would come to Ba Sing Se at some point. A while ago I wrote that letter, pretending to be Toph's mother. Someone will read it to her and she will come straight to us. The Bei Fong's house in Ba Sing Se is available to us, and I included that address in the letter."

Xin Fu was amazed at the man's wit. "So... Toph will come to us and we will not have to do anything?" he asked.

"We do have to do one thing. We need a metal cage to trap her, lest she run away." Xin Fu agreed, and they decided to search for a metal cage to buy before going to the Bei Fong's Ba Sing Se house.

Turning towards Longshot and Smellerbee, Master Yu bowed and spoke to them. "We thank you for your help. You have the promised money and are free to go. If you encounter any Dai Li agents, do not worry because they will not recognize you." The kids bowed and headed towards the train station, where they could finally find the way out of that cursed city.

The sun was already setting when they reached the main train station. They bought their tickets to the Outer Wall and waited impatiently for the train. There were no Dai Li agents in sight, which calmed their nerves. Regardless, they were listening to other people's conversations, just in case someone said something about the Dai Li. Everyone seemed to be talking about the Earth King riding the train earlier that day, which apparently was a rare thing.

"Longshot, everyone is talking about the Earth King. Nobody will take notice of us, so we're safe. We're finally safe." Longshot smiled at the girl and nodded. "I hope you don't stay silent anymore. Or at least I hope you will speak to me sometimes. It feels lonely to not talk to anyone, even though we travel together." She held his hand in hers and squeezed it lightly. Longshot looked at her, at how different she looked now, and smiled again. "I will," he said, just as the train arrived.

...

The train reached the Outer Wall a few hours later, when it was already nighttime. The two kids ate at a small shop, fearing that they wouldn't be allowed to bring any supplies into the boat going to Full Moon Bay. There were shops at the other side, and they would be able to buy them over there. When they were done eating, they walked towards the Outer Wall. The guards opened the gates, and they slowly went on their way, finally exiting Ba Sing Se.

At the other side of the wall they saw three women wearing green warrior outfits and very distinctive makeup on their faces. One of them, a woman with golden-brown eyes who seemed to be the leader of the group, spoke to the guards in such a loud and authoritative voice that Longshot and Smellerbee were able to hear her as they walked by.

"We are the Kyoshi Warriors and we need to see the Earth King. Let us pass."



To be continued...



Edited to fix formatting (20/sept/08). ~SMBH
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« Reply #17 on: Mar 10, 2007 11:48 am »

Hey SMBH,  Your words flow like a gentle river.  I love the detail in your story and continue to look forward to its continuation.  Again, I thank you for your input and support on my thread.
It is it just me; or are you into Astronomy?  I'm a little slow on these things, you know.
But it might be interesting to have in your next chapter the main characters walking below the night sky and commenting wondering about the heavens above.


Keep up your good work!


Windsong.
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« Reply #18 on: Mar 10, 2007 01:14 pm »

Thank you, Windsong. I'm glad you're enjoying my story Cheesy

I actually am into astronomy. I've been in love with the stars since I was 8yrs old, and now I'm an astrophysics graduate student. I study supermassive black holes (SMBHs Wink) and I'll get my PhD in about 2 years Cheesy

That's a great idea, of having Longshot and Smellerbee look at the stars at some point. I'll definitely include it in further chapters Cheesy
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« Reply #19 on: Mar 10, 2007 03:14 pm »

Hey SMBH!  Thanks for your input.  Since we are sharing ideas; I like your Toph one  Kiss  Isn't there a Star Cluster called  The "Pleiades" forgive my spelling; or Seven Sisters?  That would be an interesting name for a Chapter. "The Seven Sisters."  Also, can they been seen at night with the naked eye?  That could be the point to introduce Smellerbee and Longshot to the night sky.


Just a passing thought,


Windsong.
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« Reply #20 on: Mar 10, 2007 03:53 pm »

Indeed, the cluster is called "The Pleiades" Smiley It's barely visible to the naked eye, though. I can't see it looking directly, but I can see a faint outline with peripheral vision. To me it looks like a little teeny tiny "Big Dipper" lookalike. It would probably be a good idea to introduce them to the night sky using a big constellation -- or, maybe they just look up and see many many stars (since it's so dark out), and they get curious ^_^  But thanks again for the suggestion! And I will use it, if not in the next chapter, then the one after that Cheesy


...


dragonofthewest -- if you're reading this, I just wanted to say thank you again for pointing out the long sentence in the first chapter. I've paid attention so that I don't use overly long sentences, but if you see another one, don't hesitate to point it out Cheesy
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« Reply #21 on: Mar 10, 2007 04:52 pm »

Longshot smiled at the girl and nodded. "I hope you don't stay silent anymore. Or at least I hope you will speak to me sometimes. It feels lonely to not talk to anyone, even though we travel together". She held his hand in hers and squeezed it lightly. Longshot looked at her, at how different she looked now, and smiled again. "I will", he said, just as the train arrived.

 Kiss  Smellershot is the way to go, baby!

Like the makeover.  LOVE the Cabbage Man tie-in.  "Ratdogs" is good.  So is

Quote
Xin Fu yelled at Longshot and Smellerbee, as this was the only way he knew of communicating with people.

One problem I have.  L and S's long awaited intel is nothing more substantial than the flyer that, as you mention, was scattered all over the city by Aang.  Aren't the Avatar's whereabouts common knowledge by now?  Wouldn't Y and X have easily learned it on their own; and mightn't they have been a litte upset that they spent all that money to get nothing more than a flyer that must be pasted on half the walls in Ba Sing Se?

Well, that's a minor snafu.  And maybe it's not really one at all, because I haven't thought it out thoroughly enough.

Other than that...yeah.  I love how you tie everything in from the series to this story.  They even meet Azula in passing!

And Xin Fu is going to betray Yu...or the other way around...I just know it.
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« Reply #22 on: Mar 10, 2007 05:03 pm »

Kiss  Smellershot is the way to go, baby!
Wouldn't they be just so cute together?  Kiss But Smellerbee is still mourning Jet... Then again, anything can happen Wink


Quote
LOVE the Cabbage Man tie-in
Cabbagy just HAD to make an appearance. No fanfic is complete until The Cabbage Man shows up Grin


Quote
One problem I have.  L and S's long awaited intel is nothing more substantial than the flyer that, as you mention, was scattered all over the city by Aang.  Aren't the Avatar's whereabouts common knowledge by now?  Wouldn't Y and X have easily learned it on their own; and mightn't they have been a litte upset that they spent all that money to get nothing more than a flyer that must be pasted on half the walls in Ba Sing Se?
I toyed with different ideas on how the two kids would tell them what they know about the Avatar. This was the most efficient way I could think about. The way I get around the little plothole is to think that Yu and Xin Fu just arrived at the city a few days ago, and never noticed the posters because Zuko went around collecting them all like they were Pokemon cards ^_^


Quote
And Xin Fu is going to betray Yu...or the other way around...I just know it.
I really like this idea. I have to figure out a way to do that. They do get stuck in a metal cage at some point Wink


I'm very happy that you're enjoying the story Cheesy
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« Reply #23 on: Mar 10, 2007 05:13 pm »

No fanfic is complete until The Cabbage Man shows up Grin

YES!  That should be a compulsory rule for all ASN fanfics!  If you disobey you get booted off the board!   Cheesy


Quote
Zuko went around collecting them all like they were Pokemon cards ^_^

 Grin  Gotta catch em all!


Quote
Quote
And Xin Fu is going to betray Yu...or the other way around...I just know it.
I really like this idea. I have to figure out a way to do that. They do get stuck in a metal cage at some point Wink

Oh yah...what I really hope is that you'll contrive some way to get them OUT of that cage.  As I've said elsewhere, I actually felt sympathy for those two bumbling stooges after the season finale.  Maybe because I'm slightly claustrophobic myself.

Get those two clowns out of there S!
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Tiny!Zuko says: "I want older-me to be in TLOK!"


« Reply #24 on: Mar 10, 2007 05:23 pm »

Oh yah...what I really hope is that you'll contrive some way to get them OUT of that cage.  As I've said elsewhere, I actually felt sympathy for those two bumbling stooges after the season finale.  Maybe because I'm slightly claustrophobic myself.

OMG yes, when I saw the inside of the cage and how they were completely smooshed inside it, I shuddered a little bit. I got MRI flashbacks, what with the small, confined space. *shudder*

I should find a way to get them out of the cage. They will be making another appearance in the story, but I still had them in the cage Tongue I'll figure out a way to release them Cheesy
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