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Old May 2 2009, 07:57 PM   #1
Graywand2
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Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

Prologue

The Fire and the Rose

"The woes to come, the children yet unborn will feel this day to as sharp to them as thorn."

-William Shakespeare, the Bishop of Carlisle, Richard II


The land was dead, Ty Lee was always aware of that fact whenever she came here. The soil was a barren conglomeration of dead dirt and hard, rough rocks that she felt through the soles of her shoes. The sky was blanketed in steel gray clouds that stretched on in all directions for as far as her eyes could see. She could see her destination at last, out in the distance, a mountain jutting out of the dessicated earth and shooting up into the sky, it's summit hidden from view in the leaden skies. Ty Lee sighed, she knew she had climb this mountain, as she always did.

If I don't make this climb, Ty thought to herself. Humanity dies. The fifteen year old young woman, bedecked in a green officer's uniform, unsheathed the katana at her belt and ran her hand over the blade, feeling satisfied at the prick she felt, and indicator of her blade's sharpness, and sheathed it, continuing her journey toward her destiny. When she reached her destination, she stared up at the imposing mountain before her and began her ascent.

Ty's hands dug into the loamy soil as she crawled at a painstaking pace up the mountain as she had done a thousand times before. She felt a sharp stab of pain as she clutched for purchase at the stony rocks that jutted out of the mountain like spikes to catch unwary intruders. The pain, the blood that she seeped from her hands was irrelevant, she had to get to the top. Nothing else mattered. For the consequences of what would happen if she would fail were too difficult to comprehend. Human cities lying burnt and silent from the Agni's Ash Mountain range to Ba Sing Se, to the Poles. The entirety of the human species erased from existence, leaving only the ruins of it's once great civilization, and it's ghosts.

Ty climbed far, far up the mountain, her eyes always up, facing the summit. She climbed, one hand always going up followed by one foot, followed by the other, followed by the other hand, and the other foot. With every step the air grew thinner, and she breathed faster, her lungs burning as her body protested, driving home the sure and certain fact that it was so far out of the norm for most humans, not even most Air Nomads had gone up this far. The warrior didn't care, and ignored the physical pain she was enduring, she just continued her climb up into the mountain. She must not fail.

It was then that what always happened happened. Ty's hands lost their purchase, and the shock of it so rocked her that her hands and feet detached from the mountain. She hung their for the barest instance and then she was in freefall, hurtling to the sharp and jagged rocks waiting to engulf her below. As the ground and certain death hurtled toward her, she, in sheer, adrenaline-induced desperation, clutched for the sword at her belt. As the wind whipped past her ears as she plummeted at breakneck speeds, in one last moment of desperation she plunged her sword into the heart of the mountain, using the leverage to swing forward to grip the mountain with her feet. She slid, desperately down the mountain, still heading down at a terrifying pace, her terror and fear growing with every instant. Than, it stopped, and she hung their, hanging onto her sword for dear life.

Then, as always, the pain took her in the back, and Ty awoke screaming.

----------------

Ty Lee woke up, drenched in sweat, and cast about wildly for a brief moment until she realized where she was, she was home, among the vast bunks of the barracks of the Kyoshi Warrior base at Ishikawa Village. She flopped back into her bed and relaxed. These dreams had plagued her once a week since she was twelve, and she wondered when they would end. Every time she'd thought that, the same idea returned to her mind. This is my future, and it will end when the events they're foretelling have come to pass.

A/N: This is my attempt at a fanfiction relaunch of the series Avatar: The Last Airbender. I'd like to know what Avatar fans here think of the prologue.

Ty Lee is the intellectual property of Viacom and Paramount.
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Old June 18 2009, 05:04 AM   #2
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

Chapter One: As Darker Grows the Night


"The Nightmare Life-In-Death was she
Who thicks man's blood with cold."

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Ty Lee lay in her bunk a long time, staring up at the bunk directly above her head, willingly trying to tune out everything except the soft snores of her fellow warriors. The fifteen year old young woman, with gray eyes, fair skin and brown hair was a little put-off that she was a senior Kyoshi Warrior being put in with a bunch of rank-and-file warriors. She'd earned her rank in the Boiling Rock when the Kyoshi Warriors that had been transferred into that hellish prison suffered a leadership breakdown as their senior warriors were both killed within two weeks of ending up there. Because true command tended to fly to the person most qualified, regardless of status, she, their former enemy, and due to a tumultuous series of circumstances, a member of the small military unit for only those two weeks, took command. She kept them together as a unit and allowed them to survive until the end of the war, even as circumstances rapidly began to deteriorate in the prison around them. Suki, impressed with her leadership, formalized her position as a unit commander, and assigned as the commander of the first-response unit based out of Ishikawa. The position entitled her to her own cottage, but, in an incident that was still under investigation, her cottage burned down about a month after she moved in.

It was arson, she thought angrily, her hands subconsciously gripping the mattress under her so hard her fingernails punched holes in it, and everyone around here knows it. It was probably some disgruntled citizen who wanted to subtly strike back at the Fire Nation for Zuko's attack on the island during the War by burning down her, the first Fire Nation Kyoshi Warrior in history, house. It was the first house she'd ever had to herself, which made the anger and hurt she was experiencing, even more palpable.

Ty Lee sighed. Whenever she got angry she couldn't sleep so she crawled out of her bunk, threw on some of civilian clothes, and grabbed her katana, it's golden hilt, glinting in the light of the moon through the window as it lay ready in it's jet-black scabbard, and walked out the door. She made her way out of the base, quickening her pace as she passed the charred remains of her house, and down to the beach. She stood there, letting the sea breeze run through her hair and the salt tickle her nostrils. She stood there, savoring the moment.

I've always loved the smell of the sea, she thought to herself, half-remembered images of meeting her grandmother on her ship whenever military duty carried the legendary officer back to port flowing through her. It was the one good part of being in that hell called the Boiling Rock. Thank the gods for saltwater lakes.With that, she unsheathed her sword, and worked through her forms, imagining herself fighting an invisible opponent in the thrust and parry movements.

Your blade is an extension of yourself, she thought to herself, the training axiom running through her head as she whipped her blade around her in a move programmed to deliver a devastating slicing action to an opponents shoulder. You should control it as you control your arm, your hand. Remember that, and no one can defeat you. He finished her form, taking off the head of her imaginary opponent. She re-sheathed her sword and sat down on the beach, intent on just relaxing before heading back to the section house. It was at that point that, unbidden her mind flowed back to three months ago, to the Boiling Rock, and the woman who put her there.

Azula, she thought to herself, volcanic fury pouring through her as she thought of the former Fire Nation princess. The woman, the one who'd been her friend, right up until she'd been about to murder Mai for daring to finally stand up to her. She remembered what happened like it was yesterday, striking Azula down to save her friend's life. Then she remembered the orders for the guards to lock her up, for three hellish months.

If Azula had left me alone for those three months, it would've been fine, she thought to herself, struggling to tamp down on the fires of her own rage. But she didn't. She tortured me by not even laying a hand on me. She punished me for daring to attack her, to stand up to her at long last, by going after my friends.

Azula, no doubt informed of Ty Lee assuming command of the Kyoshi Warriors in the prison by some nameless prison snitch, began a campaign of assaulting those closest to her.

Ty shuddered as she remembered what that campaign entailed. She took my executive officer and tortured her for four excruciating hours while all I could do was listen to her screams until they threw her, alive but hurt back to me. Then what she did to Kozin. She ordered him beat so badly that I couldn't recognize him anymore when they were finally done. She shuddered as he remembered what they had done to the man who'd kissed her so completely the night before they'd dragged him away.

What she'd done to those two, more than anything else, made Ty Lee's blood practically boil over. But her own sense of honor and decency kept her from doing such a thing. Azula was a broken wreck of a woman, confined to a straitjacket in a mental hospital, incapable of committing further violence. Besides she didn't want to add another body to the worlds millions of war dead. But she knew the dangerous woman who'd nearly brought the human race to ruin was still lurking inside her three months after Zuko and Katara defeated her. She would recover, if she hadn't already, escape confinement, and threaten the survival of humanity again.

Then, she thought to herself, her hand subconsciously gripping the hilt of her sword. When that reckoning comes, all bets are off.

She didn't realize that she'd spoken aloud until she heard a familiar feminine voice behind her. "I'm not a big fan of reckonings," the young woman behind her said. "They tend to leave a lot of bruises."

She turned around, a wide smile breaking out on her face as she stared at the young woman who was roughly her age, with brown hair and eyes and skin a shade darker than hers. "Michi, what are you doing awake."

Michiko Kurosawa stared back at her with a quizzical look, "I'm awake because I can't sleep."

"Having nightmares again?" Ty asked.

Michi nodded sadly. She looked at her, a look sad, yet at the same time loaded with immense gratitude and respect. "I've never thanked you properly for what you've did for me, Ty. I would've taken my own life if it weren't for you."

"You don't have to thank me," Ty Lee said. "You were my friend, I couldn't lose you. You trusted me when not one other Kyoshi Warrior did. You watched my back. I owe you my life. It was the least I could do for you. Besides, I couldn't let Azula claim any more victims, not when I could prevent it."

Michi smiled back at her. After a moment she said, "So, do you want to grab a bite to eat?"

Ty smirked. "That sounds like a good idea," she said. As they walked down the expanse of sandy beach, she found herself turning her head to the imposing shape of Mount Melchior, the highest mountain on the island, shooting up into the star-blanketed night sky. Behind it, on the other side of the island, was a new facility that only sprung up in the past few months. At it the largest airship ever constructed was nearing completion after three months of near-constant construction.

"You still want the ship?" She heard her friend say behind her. Michiko sighed. "I still don't know why it has to be built here, even if they are giving it to us, or why we need to advance military airship technology with the end of the war."

"The Joint Air Superiority Cruiser Project is designed to bring the military of the Earth Kingdom and the military of the Fire Nation closer together and prove that they can work together, without killing each other. Besides with the ever-growing number of aerial freighters out there, our military needs to patrol the skies, if only to keep our freighters safe." It was true; the amount of civilian aerial freighters was increasing by leaps and bounds. There were concerns in military circles that piracy would soon follow. To respond to those fears, Firelord Zuko and King Kuei announced the Joint Air Superiority Cruiser Project. Seven vessels would be constructed in several locations throughout the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation. One of them was announced as being given over to the Kyoshi Warriors, in gratitude for their role in ending the war.

"As for why, it’s being constructed here? It is being constructed here because the civilian government feels it needs a new industry to bring jobs to the island, and no I don't want the ship." Ty said, shaking her head. "Don't get me wrong it's fascinating, and I'm keeping abreast of her capabilities and her construction, but I'm a infantry officer, putting me in command of an advanced warship, a testbed for new weapons and engines, would probably result in her destruction."
Michiko gave her a look, "You're an excellent leader, and imaginative soldier, and you grew up around warships, even if they are surface vessels. You're the best candidate, if Suki offered you the command are you going to tell me that you'd turn it down?"

"I-" To be honest, Ty Lee did find it rather appealing. Commanding a warship had been a childhood dream of hers, a dream she’d jump at the chance to have, and Michi knew it.

Michi had an evil smile on her face, as she pressed her advantage. "Say it," she said, staring at her with a victorious look as she trapped Ty Lee in her own half-truths. “I want to hear it come out of your mouth."

Ty stood there, her mouth agape as Michi stared at her, her arms folded, a smug air around her.

"I knew it," Michiko said, a smile on her face, her victorious look dissolving back into one of genuine friendship and respect. "Let's get going I'm hungry."

--------------------------------------------------------------

Forty-five minutes later, Ty Lee and Michiko stepped out of the tavern where they'd just eaten their fill of roasted sea slug, a Fire Nation dish that was becoming recently popular on the island ever since the end of the war and with Fire Nation trading vessels putting to port at Kyoshi for the first time in over a century, hailing, if Suki's ill-fated expedition to the mainland hadn't already, a permanent end to over a century of isolation from the rest of humanity. The sight of the first Fire Nation tradeships had made her happy, that her people weren't going somewhere with conquest in mind for once. Much the same way she felt now, her belly full, driving the concerns and fears that had kept her awake away.

"This was a good idea," she told her friend, clapping her on her shoulder. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," she said, smirking. "I know what you're need when you're up at night. Now all we need to do is find you a lover and-" Her next words were drowned out by a massive explosion, rocking the ground, and nearly causing Ty to fall over. When she righted herself and dusted herself off, she and Michiko looked around for the cause of the explosion. After a confused few moments, she noticed if finally, a red glow over the next hill.

Michi and Ty looked at each other, the exact same thought appearing in their heads at the exact same time as they sprinted at best speed, their bodies coursing with adrenaline and other hormones designed to switch their bodies and minds over to fast-track combat decisions vital to survival in combat.

The next village over is under attack.

Ty Lee and Michi threw themselves on the ground at the crest of the hill, seeking to avoid being sighted by the heavily armed and armored warship that was flinging metal shells at absurdly fast speeds at the village. Each time a shell landed, it exploded, destroying buildings and kicking up dirt in massive bursts.

“What the hell kind of weapons are those?” She heard Michiko asked.

Ty Lee knew what they were, she was in the meetings when they were being discussed, back when she was a self-deluded stooge of that bitch Azula.

“They’re Fire Nation weapons,” Ty Lee explained, as cool under fire as a mountain lake, as ever. “They fire explosive shells at blindingly fast speeds in order to counter the new armored vessels the remnants of the Earth Kingdom Navy were beginning to launch from their remaining shipyards. They’re powerful and extremely destructive, and they were shared with the Earth Navy at the end of the war.”

“Damn,” Michiko growled. “I knew the Fire Nation military wasn’t to be trusted.”

“Can it, soldier,” Ty said. “We can go over whose attacking us later, after we’ve dealt with those soldiers they’re landing.” She pointed that dozens of boats were being launched from the boats and heading towards the shore. Within five minutes, the warship ceased firing, as the enemy soldiers, (pirates?) made landfall. She noticed, with relief, Kyoshi Warriors were moving to engage the enemy.

“Look,” Michi said. “Keiko’s forces are moving up.” Keiko was Ty’s operations officer, third in command after Ty Lee and Michiko. “She’s good, but we need to assume command.”

“Then let’s get to work,” Ty said, and they moved forward.

To Be Continued…
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Old June 18 2009, 05:05 AM   #3
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

Chapter Two

“War is fear cloaked in courage.”

-General William C. Westmoreland, in McCall’s

Ty Lee lashed out with a swift strike with two fingers to a chi point on the neck of the enemy warrior who raised her sword just a bit too high. The young woman, in red-lacquered black armor traditionally worn by Fire Nation sailors, fell, gurgling, to the blood-soaked sand. Sand, stained, she noted with grim satisfaction, with mostly the blood of Fire Nation traitors who dared continue the war against the orders of their sovereign, her sovereign, and not her own personnel. The young woman, with black hair and brown eyes, she noted with a sense of shock, was no older than her. She was choking, her lungs desperate for air, her brain desperate for the blood she’d denied it, her face draining of color.

A jarring pang of distress ripped through her heart. I’m looking at another human being, she realized to herself. She hated looking into the eyes of people she thought, the eyes contained the soul and it brought what she always knew: that these were other humans she was battling, and it affected her ability to do her job. She lifted her sword up, intent on ending this young woman’s misery with one stroke.

All at once the reason why she made a decision and struck again, hard, at the point on her neck where she’d struck last time. As the woman breathed in a desperate sigh she stood up, ordering two warriors to take her into custody. She looked around at her surroundings. Much of the battle was a blur as the two groups of well-trained warriors participated in an elaborate dance of engage, break-off, engage, break-off, trying to break each other’s line and assessing each other’s strengths and weaknesses on the fly. At the moment the enemy had been the one to break-off this time and was now regrouping back at the shoreline, leaving behind a host of dead and dying warriors behind. She looked around at the couple dozen warriors who stood with her on the grassy field near the village. Their green dress-like armor was nicked at seemingly innumerable places, and penetrated by deep breaches in others, they’re silk undershirts the only things that had been keeping them from being skewered on the enemy shields. The katana’s and combat fans they carried were red with enemy blood, but other than that they all looked as grim and determined as when she and Michiko had assumed command of the defending forces.

It was at that point that she heard a running behind her and saw a distant green and white figure approaching from down the hill. As the figure got closer she saw that it was Michiko, dressed now in the battle dress uniform of the Kyoshi Warriors: green armor in the rough shape of a dress, complete with a hem around her legs, and a green headband on her forehead, her armor clanking as she ran toward them. The other Kyoshi Warriors parted ranks for her to get through, who stopped and stood at attention for their executive officer.

“As you were, damn it,” she growled quickly, causing them to hurriedly return to looking hunched and muttering. It was bad form to acknowledge a senior officer with any physical gestures on the battlefield, lest they become a target of enemy archers.


“Report,” Ty Lee said.

“Suki is sending whomever she can,” Michiko said, panting as she caught her breath, “she just beat back a ground attack on another location.”

Ty Lee felt her lips form an impulsive smile and one of the fresh warriors right next to her raised a victorious shout, a shout that was quickly picked up by the other Kyoshi Warriors. After the celebratory shouting and clapping each other on the back had died down. They heard a deep throbbing sound reverberate throughout the beach.

“Signal horn!” Michi shouted, over the din.

“It’s not one of ours,” Ty Lee said, pointing to the forces on the beach, as they retreated back to their landing boats. “They’re bugging out.” They watched, mixtures of fear and apprehension flowing through them as they watched the enemy return to their landing craft and shove off, making their way through the choppy seas back to their ship.

“The Fire Nation will pay for this,” she heard one of her warriors growl.

“We don’t know who’s responsible for this,” Ty Lee bit back. “We have prisoners, we’ll interrogate them later.”

“What gets me,” Michi said, “was that there was no point attacking this part of the island. The only thing of value is the airship.”

Abruptly, the disbelief that had coursed through her as she watched the attack start from cover came back. Everything about this attack had seemed wrong from the moment it started to the moment it came to an end. The enemy attacked in strength and an average commander should’ve been able to rout her forces, but they hadn’t even tried. They’d pulled back too early. She’d knew this was wrong the entire time, but she’d been too focused on defending her beachhead.

“Whoever’s doing this isn’t trying to attack us,” she growled, inwardly cursing her own stupidity and narrow-mindedness. “They want the ship. This was to keep us from moving to defend the airship.” Looking around at her soldiers, she made a decision.

I have to keep that ship out of enemy hands, she thought to herself. More importantly I have to keep the ship I want to command out of enemy hands.

“Let’s move out,” Ty Lee said. “Michiko, guard our flanks.”


Ty Lee’s world was coming to an end, or at least, it looked like the war that had just ended to the relief of the entirety of suffering mankind had started up again. Ty Lee and Michiko moved through the complex like shadowcats, crouched low as they snuck through destroyed buildings,
ducking into craters to avoid enemy fire and snuck around the bodies of dead dockworkers and Kyoshi Warriors.

All this has happened before, and it will happen again, she thought to herself, thinking about the old adage. I just wish it hadn’t happened again so quickly.

Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity weaving through hell, she felt a breeze blow across her, a breeze made hot by the fires of the burning facility. Squinting through the heat she looked out to see, still standing as she sat on the sands, a massive airship, armored from stem of to stern in brown metal plating. She saw her name in large black characters painted proudly across her, 转寄给黎明.

“My gods,” she heard her friend say. “That’s the largest ship I’ve ever seen, on the surface or in the skies.

“That’s her,” she said, awe in her voice. “The Dawn Under Heaven.”

After a moment of awestruck staring, Michiko cleared her throat and whispered. “I don’t understand, doesn’t she have the same weapons of the attacking ships in the harbor?”

All at once, Ty knew what she was talking about. “She should be returning fire to the ship’s in the harbor, but she’s not. Something’s wrong aboard her.”

All at once the explosions that had been tearing through the complex ceased.

“That’s it,” Michi said, an undercurrent fear in her voice. “Enemy ground forces are going to be hitting this beach any second now, ma’am.”

“Keiko’s forces should be moving into the complex now,” Ty Lee said immediately, not betraying any of fear. “While she engages the enemy, we need to get onboard that ship, now.”

Michiko looked at the ship, an unreadable look in her eyes. Finally, after a few moments, she sighed, and said. “You’re the boss.”

“Good,” Ty said. She got up, and prepared to break into a run. “On three we run for that ship. There’s an entrance hatch in her aft end. Understood?”

“Perfectly, ma’am,” Michiko said, nodding her understanding, and she got up and prepared to make their break out of the exposed kill zone for the comparative safety of the ship.

“One, two, three,” and without another word they ran, hard, for the ship. After a few moments of the world being reduced to a blur except for her destination, adrenaline surging through them, Ty Lee stopped, grabbing hard onto the manual valve that opened the door as she panted, breathing in the burning air. Michiko stopped a second later, panting and wheezing as much as her

Ty Lee and Michiko looked at each other and Ty opened the door, quickly stepping in as her friend trailed behind her.


They walked into chaos. The normally polished brown metal bulkheads of the interior of the ship were scorched and/or covered in dark red human blood in varying places. Everywhere green-uniformed men and women moved in teams, desperately trying to get to places where they were needed most to control the damage that had been done to the ship in the bombardment. Ty Lee fought an urge to vomit at the sight of what she’d seen.

I will make whoever’s responsible pay for this,, she thought, her head swimming in anger.

“So, what do we do?” Michi asked.

“We need to keep this ship out of enemy hands,” Ty Lee said immediately, resolve hard as steel in her voice. “So we need to get to the bridge and talk to the Captain..” She turned around, trying to remember the schematic she’d perused last night. Finally, she settled on a direction and pointed to a side corridor that led to port, “This way.” And they strove off through the chaos, being ignored by the harried mass of men and woman that moved through the halls to keep their ship.


It was five minutes before she and Michiko, running at top speed reached the bridge the oval doorway that led to the Dawn’s bridge. After pausing to catch her breath, her lungs greedily sucking in air to recover from the ordeal she’d just put them through. She grabbed the valve and turned it quickly to the right. She heard the tumblers disconnect inside and she pulled the door open to reveal the bridge of the Dawn Under Heaven.

The wide space was just as chaotic as the rest of the ship, with bridge crewmembers struggling to fufill their assigned duties in the chaos of an attack and several damage control teams in green coveralls trying to make what repairs they could. What’s worse, was that there was nothing that seemed like anything resembling an overall command structure. They were carrying out their duties out of rote and training and not under the direction of anything vaguely resembling a commanding officer.

“Something tells me that their provisional commanders are dead and everyone’s starting to fall apart,” Ty said, shaking her head in dismay. Even so, she felt an undercurrent in excitement. Another unit needed leadership, and she wasn’t in the habit of letting those who needed leadership down.

“It’s a wonder how history repeats itself isn’t it?” Michiko said looking at her with a saronci.

Taking in a deep breath, she bellowed at the top of her overstressed lungs. “Report!”

Abruptly the ruckus before them ceased. Every man and woman on the bridge had their head oriented to the women who stood at the entrance to the ship’s bridge. She stared back at them, a determined glint in her eye, and she boldly stepped forward, staring each crewmember in the eye.

“I said report.”

Finally one of the sailors stepped forward. She was wearing the standard officer’s uniform, black boots, trousers, and a black turtleneck undershirt with a double-breasted green tunic over it. She had a lieutenant commander’s two and a half golden pips over her right breast.

“Are you the Kyoshi Warrior that the ship was being given to?” She asked, a curious and hesitant voice.

“I am now,” she said immediately, her tone brooking no discussion. I have to assert my authority now, otherwise this crew will never follow me, and if we’re going to survive they need to follow someone.

After a tense moment, the woman bowed low. “Yes, sir,” she began. “There were three hits to the ship, all along her portside. The acting captain and acting executive officer are dead, and thirteen other officers and crewmen along with them.”

“And Teo?”

“The young man who helped with the design of this ship?” The officer said, with a quizzical look on her face. “He’s trying to keep the engineering section together.”

Ty sighed in relief. She’d met the wheelchair-bound, brilliant young man during Zuko’s coronation as the Firelord. They’d become friends during the boring parts of the sixteen hour ceremony that preceded Zuko finally getting a crown at the balcony overlooking the Imperial Courtyard. When he arrived to oversee the project, which he and his father had conceptualized, he was the one who’d kept her abreast of the ship and her capabilities.

“Fine,” she said. Stepping with confidence forward into legend, she said, her voice booming. “Secure all mooring lines. Docking connections severed. I want us in the air, now!”

Immediately the small mass of people gave various renditions of “aye. sir,” and began to flow once more, crewmembers rushing to their stations to carry out her orders. She walked forward to the glass window that opened to the outside world. Looking at the scene of devastation before her, she saw, through all the smoke, the enemy ship in the waters. Not firing. She watched as the ship started to rise, floating off the deck as she took to the skies

“Keiko’s forces must be engaged by now,” Michiko said grimly.

“Then let’s make sure the enemy has nowhere to go,” she said. She turned to the officer next to her and said, in a low voice. “What’s the status on our weapons, Commander?”

“Undamaged, and the gun captain’s are at their posts,” she said immediately. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t get anyone coordinated enough to get us in the air so I could bring them to bear on the enemy.”

“Well,” she said, looking around her and smiling at the sight of the crew attending to her duties with professional aplomb. “I think this ship’s crew’s focused enough right now, don’t you think?”

“Yes, sir,” she said, a smile forming on her face. “It’s time for payback.”

Just as she was about to give the order to destroy the enemy ship, something she saw out the window gave her pause. She saw the faint glow of light being reflected off gold armor. Curious, as if drawn by something, she walked over to the window and took out her telescope, putting it to her eye. What she saw made her clench, hard around her telescope’s lens area.

Standing on the deck, her raven hair flowing in the wind, the light of the moon glinting off her armor, was Azula. She could just make out a maniacal look on the evil woman’s face.

A volcanic torrent rage flowed through the young woman at the sight of the hated monster who’d put her through hell for defending her friend. The anger flowed through her at such fury that in an instant she found herself turning around to face the harried junior officer.

“Destroy that ship!” .

“Sir,” the officer began.

“Don’t argue with me! Just do it!”

“Aye, sir,” she said hastily, heading over to a communication stations to contact the gun captains. After a moment she heard her say the words. “All forward guns target and fire at will.”

But even as she watched, she saw the enemy ship slip into a layer of fog. The fog was like a wall of darkness, and she knew she couldn’t pursue them into that pitch.

“Belay that order,” she said, slamming her fist against her hand. “They’ve escaped and we can’t follow them.”

“Crap,” Michiko said, growling.

Ty Lee walked over to Michiko’s side, and said. “Azula was on that ship.”

Michi looked over at her, anger, and a more than subtle undercurrent of fear in her eyes as she thought about the woman who’d tortured into a blubbering mess. Ty Lee noticed her normally brave friend shaking. She understood why. She feared being caught by Azula’s torturers again, as did most people who were strong and lucky enough to survive an encounter with that bitch.

“Return us to base,” she ordered loud enough for the crew to hear. “I need to report this to Suki.”

How did she get out, Ty Lee thought angrily.

A/N: What do you think? Oh, and the officer's referring to Ty Lee as sir is a reference to Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, both traditionally refer to at least naval officers as sir regardless of gender.
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Old June 27 2009, 04:44 PM   #4
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

This really reads like a novel, very much so. I am liking the detail you are putting into this...I like how you are trying to make Ty Le a real three-dimensional character.

I may sound like a coward, but their world is not one I would want to live in. If I had to, though, I'd like to be following someone like Ty Lee.

You're also doing a great job of describing the weapons. Having said that, is there somewhere ONLINE that show's the ship they are in? Would love to see if it matches my mental image..

Keep it up..

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Old August 14 2009, 06:57 AM   #5
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

Chapter Three

Der krieg findet immer einen Ausweg (War always finds a way)

-Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and her Children


The young commanding officer of the Dawn Under Heaven turned over in the huge king-sized bed that was regulation for Earth Kingdom naval officers with the rank of Commander and above, trying desperately to get back to sleep. Unfortunately, her body’s iron-clad desire to stay awake was being aided in the battle against her will by the sensation of pins and needles poking into her skin that seemed to follow her everywhere on the, again regulation, white bed sheets and the fact that the goose feather-stuffed pillows in lime green pillowcases felt like they were stuffed with many, many, large jagged rocks that poked into the back of her head constantly. It was a miracle, an act of divine intervention that she managed to get to sleep at all last night.

These sheets are so damned itchy, Ty Lee thought to herself, annoyed.

After an interminably annoying few more moments of fighting the inevitable, she let loose with a frustrated sigh.

Why do I even want to go back to sleep? It’s just going to be more nightmares.

The few hours she’d been asleep had been laced with images of the battle that she’d just fought the night before. She found herself going over every incident again and again in her mind, second-guessing her every move, just as she had done with every battle she’d ever fought. She went over every mistake that she made that could’ve allowed her enemies to kill her.

Dreams that usually happen alongside that damned mountaintop dream, she thought, remembering that night’s latest futile climb up that dead mountain in that desolate place.. However there was one additional image that had appeared in her mind. The woman she hated and feared more than anything in the world. The woman she swore on the graves of her fellow Kyoshi Warriors, on the graves of the brave members of her crew that died before she ever got a chance to know them, that she would bring down.

Azula.

Azula standing over her as the prison guards held her down on the docking bay at the Boiling Rock, her saliva hitting her in the eyes as she condemned her to spend the rest of her life in that hellhole.

Azula about to murder Mai on that same horrible day on what seemed a lifetime ago.

Azula, she thought angrily, defeated at last by Zuko and Katara, who should never have escaped to terrorize the world, even though I knew it was only a matter of time.

Annoyed she sat up in her bed and took a look around her spacious quarters, putting Azula and thoughts of vengeance out of her mind. The bed notwithstanding, she thought to herself. It’s not too bad. The room was spacious and much bigger than the bedroom she had in her still-missed cottage back on Kyoshi Island. There was a large green sofa that could sit four people against the starboard bulkhead, a small gray metal table right next to her bed, and behind that a sizably large standing mirror. Curious she got up and walked over to the mirror intent checking her physical state before getting dressed for the day. What she found staring back at her was the incredibly desirable young woman, dressed in a green nightgown the hem of which came down to the top of her knees that had been the only thing her ditzy previous self could claim as an advantage over other woman in life.

It’s still an advantage, she thought to herself, staring at the curvy, slim body, long-legs, dark brown hair that flattered her whether it fell lovingly to her shoulders as it did now or was pulled up into a bun, and soft gray eyes that men of all ages had been complimenting her on since she was thirteen. Now, I’m beautiful, deadly, and smart.

It was at that point that she heard the sound of a fist rapping on the metal door to her quarters, the three knocks booming loudly throughout her quarters, which to Ty Lee’s sleep-fogged early morning mind, sounded like a class three high explosive bomb was going off in her head with each and every knock.

“Who is it?” She trilled, masking the abject and pained annoyance and keeping it out of her voice. If it isn’t important I’ll kick the ass of whoever’s out there.

“It’s me,” the familiar dulcet tones of Michiko said on the over side, her voice recognizable as her best friend even through the distortion of the metal hatch cover. “Can I come in, Captain?’

“Yes,” she said, sighing, reasoning that she wouldn’t bother unless it was important. “Hang on.” She walked over to the angular, vaguely oval-shaped metal door with it’s small iron manual valve and turned the valve to the right a few times. The door unlocked with a straining and groaning sound and she pulled open the iron handle on the door to reveal Michiko Kurosawa. She was fully dressed for the day in the dress-like green battle armor of a Kyoshi Warrior with white face paint designed to remind people of the legendary Earth Kingdom Avatar Kyoshi who created the Kyoshi Islands, and it’s defense force.

“Ah,” Ty said, a smile on her face and a deliberately overly dramatic tone on her voice . “What news does the commander of my ship’s Kyoshi Warrior detachment have for me today?”

The other fifteen year old smiled and, giving a very sincere deep bow before she came up and said, in that same dramatic intonation, “The final force of warriors is onboard, sir, and the executive officer asked me to come down and report that the last collier had just left and that your ship is fully fueled, armed, and ready for launch.”

“Thank you,” she said, smiling. “Would you like to come in, Commander?”

“Thank you, sir,” she said, stepping inside the room and closing the door behind her, “I’d be honored.”

The moment the door was closed, the laugh that had been building like tight pressure in her chest exploded out of her, and she collapsed into her chair giggling. A smirk started to break out on Michiko’s face and she broke out in a burst of pealing giggles as well. After a few moments, her lungs started to hurt, so Ty Lee forcibly closed her mouth. After Michiko followed suit, barely able to keep her mouth closed, Ty Lee said, smiling weakly. “I haven’t heard you laugh like that in a long time, it’s good to hear it again.”

Unbidden to Ty Lee’s mind, she saw the woman before her not as she was now but what she was immediately after Azula’s questioners had finished their work…

Ty Lee turned over in her narrow bunk in her bare prison room, trying to block out the high-pitched screams of her executive officer coming from the torture chamber down the hall from her cell. The young commander of the Kyoshi Warriors in the Boiling Rock hated her lot in life at the moment. Her executive officer, Michiko Kurosawa had been dragged from the cell across the hall from her four days ago. And the screams of pain, the sobbing pleading for mercy, from the room had barely stopped ever since. She hadn’t slept since they took her, and her blood was practically boiling over with rage. A rage that ran through her like a liquid spike with every scream, and made her feel like a coiled spring. A coiled spring that was patiently waiting for the next Fire Nation guard to bring her food, so she could ram her throat into her neck and charge down the corridor and kill in the most painful way possible the people who were torturing her friend. She was about to roll over again when the screaming stopped. A wave of cold fear flooded the young woman.

If they tortured her to death, she thought, a peal of abject despair cutting through her. But then she heard the sound of a heavy metal door opening, and a group of people walking down the corridor. Finally, after a few moments they stopped right between her cell and Michiko’s.

“Which one did this bitch come out of?” A male guard asked in a booming, though confused voice.

“Ah,” the gravely female voice of another guard cut in, her exasperation at this task clear.
“Throw that Kyoshi slut in the one on the left, and let’s go get something to eat.”


The door opened up to throw flickering orange light into the cell, Ty Lee squeezed herself against the back wall, hoping against hope that her jailers wouldn’t see her. They unceremoniously shoved a young woman she recognized; with a surge of relief was Michiko. In the brief few moments of orange light, before the bastards closed the door, Ty Lee saw that the enemy hadn’t been kind to her friend. The stress of imprisonment was causing unhealthy weight loss anyway, but the added indignities of torture hadn’t helped. She was now about fifty pounds underweight. There were dark purple circles under her eyes to match the purple circles under Ty Lee’s own. Her face was battered and bruised; her right eye had swollen shut and was roughly the size of an avocadoberry. She was clutching her right arm in a way that made Ty Lee fear that it was broken. Her red prison shirt and pants were ripped in various places. The sight made her blood burn at the thought what had happened to her friend.

If those bastards touched her, she thought as the door closed and the prison guards walked down the corridor. Ty Lee ran over to the young woman and caught her just in time before she hit the ground. Cradling her in her arms she lowered the two of them gently to the ground. Her friend was unconscious, her eyes screwed shut as if trapped in some private hell.

“It’s me, Michiko,” she whispered softly, praying to her patron gods for her friend to be fine as she did so. “It’s me, you’re friend, Ty, you’re safe now.”

Michiko moved weakly and opened her good eye, whispering weakly… “is that really you, Ty Lee?”

Ty Lee nodded, intense relief flooding her at the sounds of movement from her friend, “Yes, it’s me. Don’t worry, I’m going to take care of you.” She moved over to her cot, flipping it over to reveal a large square shaped hole cut into the rock, created by some imprisoned earthbender in a long ago escape attempt. She reached into the bottom, pulling out a readymade cloth tourniquet, a driftwood splint, several linen bandages, as well as several brown bags.

Sleeping with the black market medical supplier has its advantages, she thought to herself. Ty Lee normally didn’t much mind the concept of sleeping with a cute guy, but having to sleep with someone to obtain medical supplies for her soldiers had left a nauseating taste in her mouth every time she did it.

At this point I’ll lay with him willingly and with enthusiasm, Ty Lee thought, especially now that I have the supplies to treat my friend. She quickly unwrapped one of the bags to reveal a dark purple bottle of rice wine. After uncorking it, she took a swig of the wine, allowing the taste, and the alcoholic content, to settle her nerves and poured the rest on the bandages before wrapping it around her friends cut up legs. After ensuring the bandage was tight, she grabbed his friends arm.

“This is going to hurt a little, my friend,” Ty Lee said.


Michiko favored her with a pained smile. “They closed this delightful torture session with breaking my arm, Ty Lee. I think I can handle a little more pain. Just do it.”

It was at that point the reason she took out one of those little bags flashed in her mind, and she slapped herself mentally for her lapse in thinking. Grabbing the correct bag out of the small pile of supplies, she opened it up and pulled two small brown leaves out.

“Chew these, but do not swallow,” she said, shoving the leaves into her friend’s mouth. “It leaves a bitter taste, but it should numb the pain.”

Michiko chewed the leaves slowly, her jaw clearly in pain. “Thank you,” she said gratefully after a few moments, then spit them out. “I’m already feeling better.”
“Good,” she said, and grabbed and set her arm. Michiko grunted a little then settled back into her friend’s arms. She set the splint gently around her arm, and opened another bag, which contained a dark brown-green poultice that she applied directly to her friends swollen eye.

“I’m so tired, Ty Lee,” she said, softly, her good eye fully open no. “I need to sleep. They beat me, cut me, deprived me of sleep for days, they…” Her good eye flew open as she thought of whatever horrors they endured at her tormenters hand. Immediately, a cold fear, mixed with a burning anger, entered Ty Lee.

“Michiko,” she asked, fear causing her voice to tremble. “Did they…,” Michiko gave her a look that said nothing and everything, which combined the dark red aura of agony coming from her friend.

White-hot rage burned through Ty Lee like molten lead at the look of confirmation that she gave her. For a moment, she simply cradled her violated friend in her arms as her anger flowed through her. She didn’t save her friend from being violated by a fellow prisoner only to save her for violation by her captors. She had been in her cell, useless as she watched in horror as her friend was dragged away from her to be the plaything of Azula’s torturers. The new warden that had replaced Mai’s uncle was a toady of Azula and wasted no time proving it. He had enthusiastically accepted Azula’s torturers and, if the guards were to be heard gave the order to torture her friend herself.


Never again, Ty Lee thought to herself, allowing her burning rage to flow freely. Never again will I allow anyone to suffer such indignities as this. The ones who did this will pay. And I swear to the gods if Azula isn’t defeated before I’m free, I will make her pay.

She heard a soft breathing sound from her friend and saw that she had fallen asleep, the analgesic properties of the leaves having eased her pain to the point where she fell asleep. She lowered her friend to the floor and replaced the supplies in her cubby before putting the cot back in it’s place over the hole, that the guards, in their incompetence, never bothered to check for. But not before she pulled out several blankets. They were brown, woolen, dusty, and probably full of holes. But they would probably be enough to make the cot more comfortable for her friend. After arranging the additional comforters to cushion the mattress, she carried her friend over and tucked her in. She walked over to get herself some water from the decanter waiting for her in a corner of the room before she heard a gasp, she whipped around to see Michi, a look of terror in her good eye.

“Please,” she begged, her voice trembling. “I beg you, don’t leave me alone.”

“I won’t leave you alone,” she promised, sincerity hardening her voice. “Not now, not ever again. Would you like some water?”

Michiko nodded and Ty Lee hurried over to the brass decanter and poured some water into her only stone cup. Carrying it and the decanter over to her, she held the decanter itself to her friend’s lips so she could drink, which she did, gripping the glass hungrily and draining half of it into her mouth while splashing a goodly portion of the water all over herself. She handed the decanter to Ty Lee, who put it down on the floor before grasping Michiko’s hand.

“Don’t worry,” she told her friend. “I’ll be here all night.”

Michiko smiled at that, and laid her head down on her pillow, and falling back into a deep, dreamless sleep. Ty Lee sat down on the floor, flopping her head back down on the additional blankets in exhaustion of the cot in exhaustion. Four days of agony, listening to her friend being pushed to the limits of her humanity had drained her emotionally and physically. She found her eyelids coming down of her own volition. Her mind screamed at her body to stay awake, to keep Michiko alive at all costs, even if the lack of sleep killed her or drove her insane, but her body overruled her mind. She fell asleep sitting on the cold stone floor, her friend’s hand in hers…
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Old August 14 2009, 06:57 AM   #6
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

(con't from previous post)

“Hey,” Michiko said, bringing her back into the present. “It’s because of you I’m still alive to laugh. If it weren’t for you I would’ve committed suicide, and you would’ve been left with Long as your executive officer.”

Ty Lee laughed a hollow laugh. She remembered her friend’s suicide attempt, and it still didn’t make her laugh truly. Not at all.

Seeing your best friend with a noose around her neck as she stands on a box in her cottage isn’t funny, she thought. Remembering how she had arrived almost too late, as Michiko had kicked the box away from her at the same time Ty Lee opened the door to her friend’s cottage. Ty Lee had acted quickly to cut her friend down and remove the rope from her neck.

Still it’s nice to see that she’s seen the foolishness of it all, Ty Lee thought to herself.

“Promise me, something,” Michiko said calmly, giving Ty Lee a hard look in the eye. “If and when we face Azula, there will be no more tiptoeing around. None of that ‘peace and goodwill towards all and never kill even when it’s necessary’ crap the Avatar is shoving down our throats.”

“We’ll do what we have to, Michiko,” she said. “Whatever we have to do.”

“We know Aang will be hunting her,” Michiko said. “I just hope we get to her first.”

“You’d better be thankful Suki isn’t in the room to hear you say that,” Ty said, half-jokingly, because a huge part of her agreed with her friend’s bloodthirsty sentiments.

Lee’s always repay their debts, she thought

“She’d have your head. She and the Firelord are close friend’s and her orders are clear: Bring her in alive if possible, kill her if she makes that impossible for me.”

I hope she makes it impossible for me, she thought to herself. Part of me still won’t be satisfied until I see her blood stain my sword.

“You know he’s mobilizing a fleet in the Garsai sector,” Michiko said, staring back at her friend. “They have orders to hunt down Azula. Rumor had it the Privy Council all but come out and said that no punishment would be handed down if Azula was returned in a box.”

The Privy Council was the name for the new governing taskforce that Zuko had formed upon taking office. The Privy Council consisted for the moment of the triumvirate of Zuko, Katara, and Mai, with Katara serving as his Prime Minister and granted significant administrative and executive powers. Mai was technically Lord President of the Council, which held the responsibility for cleaning up the propaganda twisted educational system, as well as being third in line for executive power until Zuko issued forth his own son or daughter to inherit the throne.

Which I hope Mai accomplishes sooner or later, Ty Lee thought. Otherwise the Imperial House designation passes to my family, which puts me in line for the throne should something happen to my parents and my five elder sister die in an inexplicable and freakishly unlikely possibility of something happening to them. Being a soldier is enough for me, I don’t want a job in the civilian government of any country.

“Well of course I expect the Privy Council to say that,” Ty Lee said . “If it was only the Right Honorable Katara and Lord President Mai who were giving out the orders.”

“I heard that Zuko himself was in the room, and didn’t censure the Prime Minister or the Lord President of the Council.”

“I just hope that whomever the Council in it’s wisdom appointed to command the fleet is good at his or her job.”

Michiko smirked and said, “You’re not going to believe who it is.” She then opened her mouth and proceeded to tell them.

When she was done, Ty Lee’s mouth was open in shock and she said, “How did those two gain command of the Fire Nation fleet?”

“How did a Fire Nation girl become the greatest Kyoshi Warrior war hero other than Suki?” Michiko responded.

A/N: The Fire Nation events will be revealed next time. Oh, and unless you figured this out, I was digging into British governing structures to inspire Zuko’s government.
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Old August 14 2009, 06:29 PM   #7
RobertScorpio
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

yes..I did get that british government strucures; very good. Cant wait see the all of this stuff with the Fire Nation happened. Good set up!!!!'Keep it coming and bravo zulu!!! Seeing your best friend with a noose around her neck as she stands on a box in her cottage isn’t funny...loved that bit!!

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Old May 21 2010, 07:22 PM   #8
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Re: Avatar-The Last Airbender: As Sharp As Thorn

By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel, I swear; and by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee, to pursue the daemon who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life; to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever. And I call on you, spirits of the dead, and on you, wandering ministers of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that now torments me.
-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Interlude: Where Man’s Glory Begins and Ends
Ty Lee walked through the gray fog, her eyes alert and scanning the endless blanket of gray above, around, and behind her that surrounded her for any sign of her quarry. She could feel the cool metal of her blade’s hilt in her sword hand, as her anger and hate seethed in her chest. Her quarry was close now, so close she could practically smell her. There was no one else in this place except for the two of them. She smiled, a predatory smile born of hate and lust for vengeance. They would have it out now, once and for all.

“Come on out!” Ty Lee shouted, her voice echoing all around her, bouncing off a hidden wall hidden somewhere in the silvery mist. “There’s just the two of us now. If you have any semblance of decency left you’ll come on out and face me like a woman.”

“Just as you did?” an amused Azula said from the fog, her voice echoing through the expanse as well. “I fail to see how attacking someone from behind counts as facing someone like a woman.”

“You were about to murder Mai,” Ty Lee growled back, her body quivering with a sudden urge to charge into the cloud, an act that would likely get her killed. “I wasn’t about to let that happen.”

“At any rate I’m not about to come out an face an uppity girl who thinks herself a woman just because she tried to kill me,” Azula said mockingly. She heard the other woman give a frustrated sigh. “When are you going to give up this playacting of being a woman and go back to your life of slavery where you belong? You would’ve had all the benefits of being close to the future ruler of the world, privileges, men to satisfy your youthful appetites. ”

“As the world around me writhed in agony,” she growled, drawing her sword half out of its scabbard with the rough hiss of metal on leather. “I may have had a life of luxury, but that luxury would’ve have come at the expense of humanity and I wasn’t going to be a willing party to that, not anymore.”

“‘It’s not enough to survive, you have to be worthy of survival,’” Azula said, repeating the old adage, that had driven her to stand against Azula at the Boiling Rock. “Is that it?”

“Something like that,” Ty Lee responded, fully drawing her sword and holding before her in a defensive stance. “Now get out here and fight me!”

“Oh, such a waste,” Azula’s voice said from behind her. Her words coming impossibly from behind her caused her to fly into a rage, seeing red as she whipped around to see Azula standing there, the look on her face one of absolute nonchalance, as if they’d just been discussing the weather. The other woman fixed her with her golden eyes, her black hair flowing to her shoulders encased in gold plated armor. Without so much as a change in expression, Azula grabbed Ty Lee by the shoulder and shoved her roughly towards her.

Ty Lee felt her stomach explode in a blaze of pain. The fiery pain surged throughout her body and exploded out of her mouth in a gut wrenching scream that bounced off whatever walls surrounded her. Azula, her eyes blank and cold, shoved her back. Ty Lee, her entire body feeling as weak as a newborn kitten, simply collapsed to the ground. Strength draining out of her arms and legs, she looked up to see a straight sword sticking out of her stomach, the surrounding flesh a red ruin. As Ty Lee’s vision began to flicker and blacken at the edges of her vision, she saw Azula standing over, giving her an almost sad look.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” she said, giving a frustrated sigh. “You would’ve lived longer serving me like you were supposed to, like you were born to do.”

Ty Lee exploded awake, lurching up in her bed in her darkened quarters. Her entire body afire with panic, she moved her hands moved down her belly, feeling for a cut, and she let out a relieved breath as she felt whole, unblemished skin on her stomach.

Sighing in frustration she flopped back into her bed, listening to the hum of her ship as she made best speed towards their rendezvous point to meet up with the Fire Nation military attaché who was assigned to her ship to oversee the Fire Nation’s interests.

That was certainly new, Ty Lee thought as her fear begin to recede., replaced by black curiosity. Though what does it mean?
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