Parting of Ways
Sokka cast his eyes around the moonlit clearing in search of his foe, for the last three hours he had been toyed with by the beast, just managing to catch a glimpse as it lead him on a chase until he was far away from any safety.
Hunkering down into a low crouch the green demon prepared to move out of the attack.
Placing a hand on the ground Sokka felt the telltale rumble as his foe approached.
Da-Dum, Da-Dum Da-Dum, Da-Dum Da-Dum, Da-Dum…
Ignoring the noise Sokka finally caught sight of the slight disturbance beneath the light soil, rolling to the side as the massive white shark lept out of the ground the water tribe warrior managed to just barely avoid the gaping tooth filled jaws as the great white shark attacked before it dove back beneath the soil.
Blinking at the massive beast Sokka looked between where the Shark had been and the spear he held before coming to a decision “I’m going to need a bigger spear.”
Four hours later as the dawn light finally woke the Avatar from his slumber, Aang was surprised to find Sokka already awake and sitting next to the fire as he discussed something with Xander, while the avatar took note of the small white shark medallion Sokka wore around his neck the young water tribe warrior would never speak of his night facing off against a beast from legend.
As the final earth nation soldier dropped Iroh stood proudly beside his nephew, the young man had successfully managed to track him down and assist in his escape, not that he would have had much trouble but it was nice to see what his young charge had learned in the short time they had been together, he was becoming quiet the formidable opponent, perhaps it was time he started training the young prince in unarmed fighting styles, sometimes it was better to not use your skills in combat after all.
Smiling at his nephew’s request that he get clothed Iroh simply enjoyed the feeling of freedom his unclothed state allowed, after all how many people were involved in a life or death struggle while naked.
Sitting in the basket saddle Xander watched as Aang argued with Katara and Sokka about their accompanying him to the fire temple. Yet each and every argument he came up with the duo managed to shoot down. They were surprisingly good at arguing, waiting for Aang to focus on one of them before the other jumped in and threw the small airbender off track, the tactic was surprisingly good and Xander made a mental note to watch out for it the next time he had to argue the two into something.
Laying back in the basket Xander let the sounds of the argument drift away, he had no doubt that the two water tribe kids would join them, by hook or by crook if he had any real bead on the character of the duo, quiet possibly both.
Watching the clouds above Xander thought back to his debate with Hei-Bai, the spirit had proven to be very competent at the debate method and had argued Xander into a corner several times.
Thinking on the spirit and what he had set lose on the fire nation Xander couldn’t help but wonder how this might escalate, it worried him more than a little, centuries ago the different nations had agreed to keep the spirit world out of their fights, when Hei-Bai turned his anger against the fire nation they might very well seek help from a spirit themselves, leading the world into a supernatural equivalent of an arms race without the tenuous understanding of M.A.D. that his own world had to keep things calm.
Considering the options Xander decided to turn his attention back to the silently sulking Aang that had obviously lost the fight with the two water tribe kids in his quest to keep them out of the little mad adventure.
Looking over at the stare his brother had on his face Xander let a single eyebrow move up towards his hairline “you even think about it and I swear I will give you such a wedgie that avatars hundreds of years from now will walk funny.” Xander threatened before smirking at his brothers look of terror before he leaned back to catch some rest before they made it to Aumhai, he would need his sleep to deal with the brotherhood.
Resting his eyes Xander started to work towards a plan to keep his brother safe, initially he had planned on taking out everyone at the temple and then letting his brother make his run towards his little spirit chat, while he had expected some hesitance from his brother with this plan Xander was working on a better option.
With a little work he could get Katara and Aang to bend behind him and make it appear that he was the avatar, a situation that many in the fire nation would be more capable of believing due to the extended years, that would take the pressure off Aang and let him train in peace while Xander used the brotherhood to face off with the fire nation.
It wasn’t a perfect solution, and Xander was hesitant to use a force that he had no experience with in combat against a standing army, but Monk Gyatso’s journal had reported a continuation of growth in the brotherhood well after Xander was gone, the monk had anticipated several thousand were active in cells across the nations the vast majority split between the earth kingdom and the fire nation.
The split could very well complicate things should even one of the brotherhood decide that their national pride was greater than their personal oath to the brotherhood, a situation that Xanders soldier memories showed was far more complicated than many understood.
Asking a man to betray his country was always a risky business, and keeping such things secret was beyond complicated, it was one reason the cold war had been as bad as it had been.
Yet even with all those concerns Xander was willing to put his life on the line in an attempt to keep his brother safe, honestly had anyone ever told him that having a sibling would be this much work Xander would have never cursed his status as an only child.
Letting his breathing slow Xander drifted off to sleep as Appa floated on towards the Village.
Iroh looked at the small Fire nation outpost commander that had sent a report that had caught his nephews attention, as Zuko grilled the man for information concerned the great white flying cow he had seen Iroh tried not to interfere, this was his nephews mission and the General wanted him to have a chance to make it on his own before he interfered.
Sighing deeply as Zuko continued to use bluster and threats to try and get his way Iroh finally stepped up and laid a hand on the young princes shoulder, Looking at the young captain that had reported seeing the flying cow Iroh started to heal the damage Zuko had managed to create in such a short amount of time.
After a short times work Iroh had the information they needed, the captain was once more placated and Zuko was silently fuming at being overshadowed by his uncle, worse yet was the fact that he couldn’t argue with the results, he could honestly say that his uncle was better at handling people than he was, if he was brutally honest with himself his uncle was better at handling personal interaction than anyone else in his family save his mother.
Heading back to the ship with his uncle Zuko considered the information that the onetime general had gained, the small party they had been tracking was heading south-west, if they continued on the path they had chosen the party would stop at the coast town of Aumhai before continuing into the fire nation, stepping onto the bridge Zuko stared at the map before coming to a decision.
“Captain, make best course for the red line we will intercept the Earthbenders party before they entire my father’s lands.” Zuko ordered as he pointedly ignored his uncles concerned look, he had spent the last four years searching for information on the Avatar and even his banishment from the fire nation lands would not sway him from finding a way to regain his honor.
As the fire nation ship chugged towards it’s destination Zuko felt a thrill as his destiny began to come into focus, he would capture this ‘Xander’ he would force the location of the Avatar out of him and he would regain his honor before the eyes of his father, to do anything less was unacceptable.
Lo and Li stared at their charge as the small Firebender princess threw a tantrum that once again destroyed everything in the room, in the last three days since the green demon had attack Azula had destroyed two rooms after waking up from particularly intense dreams.
Refusing to smirk at the princess’ inability to handle the intense emotions she was having from the young man that had attacked the fire nation fortress Lo and Li simple offered what little consolation the mad princess would allow before moving away to give her space, in her current mindset Azula would likely kill anyone that she thought suspected the true depth of her new emotions.
For the two undercover Airbenders it was an exceptionally amusing turn of events to watch.
“I want him!”
“What? Did you say something princess?” Li questioned and refused to smile at the slight flush Azula had before the girl got herself back under control.
“The Green Demon, I want him found now and brought to me…” The fire bender drifted off before growling “For Punishment,” She elaborated angrily before glaring at the two bowing ancients as they made their way out of the damaged chambers, for a moment she considered lashing out at the duo for the subtle snickering she suspected they were concealing before taking a deep breath and forcing a calm back into herself.
Patting Sokka as he dropped off the back of the Sky Bison, Xander took a moment to glance around what had once been a small out of the way village, as Sokka dropped off Appa’s back Xander looked at the young warrior pointedly shooting his eyes over at the two others before accepting the young man’s nod of understanding.
Leaving his brothers safety to the water tribe warrior Xander made his way towards the small tavern that he remembered from his last visit more than a hundred years ago.
Stepping through the town Xander refused to focus on the changes that had happened over the last century and tried to pick up on why his hellmouth honed senses were screaming at him in the small town.
While it had obviously grown since he was last here and yet something about the town was really bothering him.
Stopping at the final corner Xander froze as he finally picked up on the issue that was concerning him, the town was almost dead, while the houses and buildings were lit up for the evening the population was almost non-existent on the street.
It seemed like the entire town had turned out in front of the tavern with more than a thousand people standing silently in the street as the small space the brotherhood had originally met at was not made for the sheer press of humanity that had shown up.
For a moment Xander stared at the mob and considered running before a thin hand gripped him by the arm, turning to the person holding him Xander blinked, the face looking up at him was ancient, old beyond compare yet still held a slight amount of the beauty it once held, smiling down Xander blinked a tear away as he remembered the person that had managed to catch him, “Hey pretty lady,” Xander choked out as Maya smiled up at him, “Sorry it took so long to get back,”
A long time ago Maya had been the one main thing that kept bringing Xander back to Aumhai, he had managed an on again off again relationship with the Earthbender, she had helped him form the Brotherhood, start the different bending skills, she had managed to become proficient in mud bending, a skill that Xander had truly enjoyed watching her practice with as she usually ended up a muddy mess that she still managed to smile through.
The image of a scantily clad mud covered Maya had brought Xander back to the village time after time.
Reaching up Maya wiped a tear away from Xander face before smiling again “No tears for me Xander, I did well for myself.” Maya said happily as she thought back to their first meeting, the tom-boyish Maya had been chased away from the village by several bad dogs, and while an accomplished Earthbender Maya had been scared near witless by the snarling monsters that had already killed her mother’s prize chicken-cow, leaving the small family without any milk or eggs for the coming year.
Without thinking Maya had rushed away from the animals and subsequently away from the villagers that could have helped her taking off into the woods like a shot.
Running through the underbrush Maya had ignored the cuts and scrapes the tree limbs had put on her flesh as she ran, the chase was like a bad nightmare to the teen, running away from the monster but never escaping, she had forced her way through a river before scrabbling up the far bank as the last of her strength gave out, curling up in a ball as the snarling animals lunged for the kill Maya screamed.
When she had opened her eyes Maya had been surprised to see a young man in Earth kingdom dress but all in grey standing between her and the mangled forms of the bad dogs, blinking at the sudden turn of events Maya had shuddered at the sudden relief at the realization that she was not dead finally sank in.
Throwing herself against her savior Maya had sobbed hysterically, she must have been quite a sight hanging on to the young man while crying frantically about the bad dogs and preferring cats and the multiple stupid reasons that people kept dogs.
She had rambled for some time before finally looking up at her savior and blinking at finding herself back home with him sitting on her bed holding her, she had obviously been babbling for some time.
Coming back to the present Maya smiled again, Xander had weathered the press of time far better than she had all things considered yet she had to wonder at the loneliness he must feel, all his friends gone, all the missed opportunities.
Pulling the young man into a hug Maya refused to cry, Xander had been there for her when she needed him the most, but he had missed so much, her marriage, her Babies were born, the funerals she had endured, all the time she had needed him and now she was to old to be there for him.
Pulling away Maya smiled again before letting him go and moving towards the crowd, she was pretty sure Xander wasn’t prepared to confront the full numbers the brotherhood had at Aumhai, over the last century the town had become a resting place for the brotherhoods numbers when they burned out or got to old to continue as such nearly the entire town was made up of brotherhood retirees.
Joining the crowd Maya moved to the front and smiled at the hush that fell over the gathering, as the eldest Bender in the brotherhood she had managed to garner a level of respect that would have been impossible otherwise, stepping up on the small stage Maya took a deep breath to settle herself before continuing “Brothers and sisters, tonight we have a special guest with us, from the golden age before the war, from the time of Airbenders and Avatars I offer you a special guest, My friend and savior, Xander, first of the Brotherhood and Master of the Broken Core.”
Turning towards the panicked Earthbender Maya slowly stepped off the platform and smiled “Go get’em Tiger,” she whispered jokingly before joining the crowd below.
Stepping up into the stage Xander looked out at the faces and resisted the urge to run away, it was worse than Timmy making him naked in front of the whole class, and as the vast majority of the crowd was benders it was considerably more intimidating.
Mimicing Maya Xander took a deep breath to center himself before starting “Good evening, today I come to you for the first time, many years ago I started a small group of like minded individuals on the path to seek out knowledge in all ways, from science and technology to new bending arts that can help everyone, I saw the rise of this small group of like minded individuals grow to a gathering of many that sought to keep the peace in this world, we wanted to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves, in the few years I was with them the brotherhood grew and flourished into a multitude of different bending arts” Xander explain before shaking his head at the multitude before him.
“And then I was pulled away and shoved into some strange version of the matrix, nothing was as I left it. I return and I find me friends have aged, my family died, my home destroyed and my world at war and the porcupines in the artichoke” looking around at the confused glances Xander shrugged “Just checking to see if your all following. yet the small group of like minded individuals had blossomed into the people I see before me, hundreds of men and women working towards a common goal of peace, what I had started so long ago has become a force to be reckoned with.” Xander said proudly.
“And now I need to beg your help, my brother needs to go to the Fire temple on crescent island, to achieve this I am asking for the assistance of several benders to help in confusing our enemies, by bending Water, Air and Earth I intend to project to the fire nation that ‘I’ am the Avatar, to do so I need all the help I can get.” Xander explained a simple version of his plan he had pretty much stolen whole hog from Katara’s ‘Let’s get captured’ ploy, without the ‘Getting Captured’ part.
“Anyone that comes with us is likely to be targeted by the fire nation, I don’t expect you to just drop everything and charge to war, yet without help my brother will most likely die, I won’t allow that to happen, I can’t force you, and I can’t order you, all I can do is ask. Is anyone willing to help my little brother?”
Taking a step back at the sudden rush of hands Xander blinked in shock as every hand there was raised, the old and injured, the young and weak, all of them were ready, willing and able to march with him to war.
Laughing at his shocked look Maya simply smiled at his look “you gave us each a chance at a family sexy, without you we would all be condemned to a lifetime of mediocre bending, being stepped on by the stronger benders and used as indentured servants by the military.” Maya said seriously as the gathered people nodded “For the first time since the four nations were formed we don’t have to depend on the strong benders for protection, you gave us freedom, and options and hope, for that we will fight for you.” Maya said without any mocking in her voice.
Shaking his head at the absurdity of it all Xander just accepted the help with as much grace as possible, “Alright, we need to get the fighters to crescent island by the equinox, and I need some dedicated benders to come with us on Appa to help me act the part of the Avatar.”
As the group split up to start moving to invade the fire nation Xander nodded at the small group of benders that remained, Maya would lead the main attack and these four were the best choices to help him pull off operation ‘Substitute Avatar’
Nodding at the four Xander decided that they just might get away without Aang being ousted to the fire nation, but this was really putting pressure on him to split from the main group. “Alright ramblers, let’s get to rambling and we will lick these guys like a lollipop” Xander declared before taking in the rather odd looks he was getting from the quartet at his choice of words. “Lets move on”
Thankfully due to Appa’s flight ability Xander was able to take a day and learn to work with the Benders as a team, each had joined the brotherhood young and brought several distinct skills to the party. Two were Earth benders, one specializing in lava bending while the other was a Corral bender, and the other two were Water Benders specializing in steam bending and ice refraction.
Together they could disappear and still bend to pull off Xanders miraculous feats of Bending, and with the Fire Nations obsession with the Avatar they would be all to happy to attribute any oddities to a miscommunication or misremembered facts.
In all, it should work. Which was why Xander was currently working on contingency plans to cover the escape in the most probably event it didn’t.
Leaving Katara to train with the Steambender Xander had some time to go over the attack in detail, the assembled benders and members of the brotherhood would sneak into the fire nation over the next couple of days and then assemble to attack crescent island in force, Xander Katara, Aang and Sokka would then hit the island with the team of secreted benders, Sokka would stay with Aang at all times to keep him from acting on his stupid impulses before Xander pretended to be the Avatar, in all they would make their way to the Roku shrine and making contact with the past avatar, the group would then split up and disappear back into the night, Xander would make a big show of his anger towards the Fire nation before disappearing with the brotherhood, Aang, Katara and Sokka were to go straight to the water tribe of the north while Xander organized the Brotherhood for war.
It looked like things were going to get very, very complicated for Xander in a very short amount of time.
“Sir, it’s time to go.”
Looking up at the Lava Bender Xander nodded before heading towards their ride, walking up Xander glared at the big clean Appa before growling, “I thought you were going to camoflough him,” Xander said with a glare at Sokka and Katara and Aang sat sulkily on the Sky Bisons skull.
Shrugging his shoulders Sokka indicated the broken buckets that had held the paint they were going to use “Appa disagreed with that concept and I’m not stupid enough to argue with a ten ton flying weapon of ‘Mass’ destruction.”
Taking a moment Xander finally grinned at the pun before getting serious again and turning towards Appa with a glare “Listen Cow, I don’t feel like painting a big target on our backs by flying through the night sky in a massive WHITE bovine so get muddy and lets go.” Xander ordered and took a step back at the large animals growl, “ heres the deal you hamburger reject, either you roll around in the mud right now and you get to wash it all off later or I swear I will shave you bald as Aangs noggin right now and take my chances with the pink.” Xander threatened as he ignored Aangs indignant squawk and Sokka’s snickers as he stared the big cow down.
At the Sky Bisons glare Xander dug into the packs and pulled out Aangs shaving blade, “The choice is yours big fella, but I can promise you that washing off the mud will be far easier than regrowing all of that fluff.”
The two squared off for several more minutes before the grumbling sky bison turned and trundled over towards the mud pit in a huff.
Jumping off Appa’s back Aang stormed up to his brother and poked the bigger boy in the chest “Don’t you threaten Appa,” Aang growled as the large sky bison started to wallow in the mud behind him.
Looking at the small brother Xander Xander shrugged “A wise man once said ‘I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.’ I can only do my best Aang, and I need Appa to not show up in the night sky to do that, if I have to make him Angry I will, if I have to shave him bald and paint him grey I will and I have to hog tie you and throw you on the back of Appa to get you where you need to go I can promise you that I will do that to, I will make enemies, friends, allies and nemesis’ to keep my friends and family safe and threatening Appa is the least of what I am willing to do.” Xander explained before getting blinsided by a massive wave of mud.
Picking himself up off the ground Xander turned towards the irritated Sky Bison that had decided to return the mud favor Xander started to chuckle, with all the mud that the large animal had coated himself with his hair was spiking up like a porcupine.
“Alright, I might have deserved that,” Xander admitted as he flicked off as much mud as he could from his hands and wiped his face “Alright, mud time is over lets get to flying, we have to meet up with the rest of the fleet today, the temple has to be ours by sun down and then we need to split up, after this the brother hood will be officially moving to a war footing.”
Looking the small team over Xander resisted the urge to beat his head against the wall, he really didn’t want to bring the younger ones into this, but Aang had to go and Xander had no doubt that Sokka and Katara would insist on going as well.
In all it was less of a headache to simply bring the two and deal with the fall out later.
Climbing up to the back of the Muddy sky bison Xander leaned back and forced himself to get some rest.
It was going to be a long day.
Iroh sighed as he found his nephew exactly where he had left him four hours earlier, scanning the night sky with a telescope in search of the elusive Earth bender party that had information on the Avatar, stepping up to the young prince Iroh shifted back to his Jovial style that worked best at settling his nephews nerves.
“Come to bed young prince, it’s late and we have a long day tomarrow and you will need your rest,” Iroh said and sighed as the young Fire bender simply continued to scan.
“I know there out here Uncle, I can’t let them get past me this time.” Zuko said angrily as he scanned through the sky once more, he knew they were coming this way and he would not let them slip through his grasp again, besides how hard was it to spot a large white cow floating through the clear night sky.
Shaking his head Iroh simply turned back to go inside, he knew his nephew would work himself into an early grave if he wasn’t careful.
Behind him Zuko focused on a shifting shadow for a moment before dismissing it and continuing to scan the heavens.
Staring over the edge of Appa Sokka hocked a spit wad before letting it drop towards the lights below, while he would probably miss the thought of a Firebender getting hit with a spitwad in the middle of the ocean was of particular amusement to him.
Turning to the adult and mentor Sokka nudged Xanders foot and nodded over the edge “Firebender destroyer below, looks like our ‘pretty boy’ friend is sniffing around I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire fire nation navy is moving to intercept them.” Sokka said as Xander looked over the edge and nodded, since their last ‘run-in’ with the fire nation prince Xander had insisted Sokka research his enemy, he had been shocked that the young scar faced firebender was the crown prince in exile and the scar had been given to him by his own father after questioning a general decision in the war room.
Sokka had actually felt bad for the young man, while he was a Fire Nation and wanted to capture them and possibly torture them Sokka had been considerably more blessed by his parents, growing up under fire lord had not been easy for the young man, and Sokka could see it in his eyes, he was obsessed with proving himself to his father, a situation that Sokka could actually emphasize with all things considered.
Turning towards the horizon Sokka nodded as a line of lights could be made out coming into view, the fire nation knew something was going on and was moving to make the most of it, had the brotherhood left with them they would have had a nightmare of a time getting around them tonight.
Drifting silently across the sky Sokka sighed as his thoughts turned to his father, the water tribe warrior was somewhere out here, fighting against the fire nation, even as small as their village was the Northern Water Tribe was still helping in the war, Sokka could actually understand why Xander became so angry at the different villages that spouted off comments of peace and simply ‘Accepting’ what the fire nation was doing, the fire nation had come to their home, killed and stolen their loved ones and tried to break the spirit of the water tribe and yet they were still fighting them, for Earth Kingdom villages to cower and hide was enough to disgust Sokka even as he tried to keep his peace.
But Xander was different, he was gathering an army to stop the fire nation, not out of the anger or fear that others did, he could have disappeared into the wilds with Aang and never come into contact with the fire nation again, and yet here he was leading a charge to the fire temple with an objective to bring the fight to the fire nation itself, a task that hadn’t happened since the first year of the war a hundred years ago.
Not for glory or honor, not so tales could be told or parades made, he was invading the fire nation solely so his brother could find out what he needed, simply because it was the right thing to do.
That was the type of warrior Sokka wanted to be, but even he could see that he had a long way to go until he got there.
Sitting back in the saddle basket Sokka tried to get some sleep before the coming fight, while he doubted he would be in the thick of it he had noticed Xander and Aang had a habit of getting into some interesting situations.
Dropping low as the sun rose over the horizon Xander looked down at the small fleet that was prepared to invade the fire nation, more than three hundred members of the brotherhood was standing ready to fight for him and his brother, to go to war.
Xander shuddered at that thought, his soldier memories was filled with the true horrors of war and he wondered if the members of the brotherhood were ready for that, one of the things he had learned was that the most effective tactic in a war was in making the civilians lives a living hell, not killing them but destroying the infrastructure of a nation was the fastest way to bring it to it’s knee’s.
And when they went to war that was exactly what they would do, the fire nation would suffer for their leaders and military, towns would burn, villages flood and the earth itself would turn against them, he would bring the full force of the brotherhood down onto the heads of the Fire Nation and all the nation would bear the brunt of his war.
He refused to let the civilians of the fire nation live in peace when their military destroyed the lives of the other nations, they were just as guilty and would pay just as much, he couldn’t bring himself to kill the civilians but he would make them just much a part of this war.
Today would be the first step, the brotherhood would take crescent island, and while the others would flee several of the members would stay to hold the island itself from the fire nation, the fire nation would lose the fire temple, and the brotherhood would take more from them before the year was out.
You don’t win a war on a defensive footing.
As the fleet started moving towards the island Xander patted put his mask on and motioned for the others to do the same, to date anonymity had served the brotherhood well and Xander was willing to let that continue for as long as he possibly could, the masks were featureless grey canvas hoods with the quad symbol of the avatar painted on the front, below him the gathered members of the brotherhood made their own preparations for the fight to come.
Leaning forward Xander patted Appa on the forehead “Head straight for the temple, we will go in through the top.” He announced before standing up straight and summoning stone boulders to him from the ground below, forcing the stone balls up to his level was a struggle but Xander needed to make an appearance, they reached the temple just as the clerics started their morning service outside the chamber of the fire avatar, shoving the massive stones forward Xander let gravity and inertia take over send the massive stones crashing into the building and shattering through the wall scattering the fire Sages and opening a massive hole in the side of the building for Xander and his team to arrive.
Stepping into the hole Xander glared at the firebenders that went on the offensive, stepping backwards Xander Smiled as Aang reacted creating an air funnel around Xander that capture the fire and sent it back towards the benders with a gesture, hidden behind an ice mirror the clerics were unable to see the team and only made notice of the earthbender that had just managed to bend fire, taking a step back in fear the blinked before Xander made a gesture and flooded the floor washing the fire benders off the floor and flushing them down into the levels below, Xander could already hear the sound of fighting going on down below as the brotherhood made quick work of the fire bender before starting the second part of the invasion.
As half the assault team started clearing the temple the other half went to work bending the ocean floor and creating sharp rock outcroppings far out to see, just under the water level the reinforced this with even more several feet below to make it impossible even during low tide for the massive fire nation battleships to approach without sinking into the waves.
As they finished that particular task up the move back and started to raise the level of the volcanic island, joining forces and lifting the massive island straight up leaving a sheer rock cliff face hundreds of feet straight up for the enemy to overcome before they could even attempt to take the temple, in all the shaking rumbling and grinding pseudo-earthquake did little to help the moral of the fire clerics that had suddenly found themselves under attack for the first time ever, in all with the problems they had recently discovered with the structural supports in the temple as well as the troubles the fire lord had ordered them to fix with his palace, in all the week was rapidly dissolving into a nightmare, the most they could hope for at this point was that they would be killed in battle and thus be spared the trouble of explaining exactly what had happened to the fire lord.
Several blasted their way out and fled towards the docks only to find themselves hundreds of feet higher than the last time they had looked, the imposing sharp rocks of the of the bay below reaching up to greet anyone that might try their luck with a horrible sharp pointy death before getting washed away into the depth of the oceans to feed the scavengers of the deep.
In short order it was over, the clerics and Sages were defeated or dead, with a few taking special care to make sure they were unobserved before striking against the other clerics with a flurry of attacks that dropped the fire benders before shifting away to report to the Brotherhood for further orders. At the top level Xander held his knife to throat of the cleric that was struggling desperitly to talk, after Angel Xander had little patience for the sneaky cryptic crap.
“Now one more time who are you and what do you want, anymore crap and I’ll feed you to Appa,” Xander threatened as behind him the massive sky bison gave a rumbling growl that seemed to do wonders to loosen the mans tongue, and bowels if the sudden scent was any indicator.
“My name is Shyu, I am a cleric of the fire temple and I can take you to speak to Avatar Roku,” the man stuttered as he glanced between the knife wielding man and the massive beast that was likely to eat him in a panicked frenzy.
Adding a pit more pressure to the blade Xander dug the tip into the mans neck to keep his attention “Avatar Roku is dead, how am I going to speak to him?” Xander questioned seriously as Aangs ears perked up at the possible information.
“T-The light, when the light hits the statue of Avatar Roku you can speak with him in the spirit world. The sages have guarded the knowledge and lore of the fire temple for three thousand years, many of us are still loyal to the avatar.” Shyu said nervously as he waited for the man to make a decision.
After a short time Xander nodded and removed the blade slightly “Alright then, I’ll trust you for the moment, but you will take me there now, any tricks or funny business and I will kill you where you stand and find out what I need on my own.”
Shyu was positive the man would make good on his threat, the eyes glaring at him from behind the hood held the promise of death to anyone he considered an enemy.
Walking towards the sanctuary Aang tried not to think about his brothers actions, he knew that people being hurt, getting killed even as they fought over the small spec of land in the middle of the vast ocean, the monks had raised him to respect all life taught him that each person was part of the whole, that to take the life of anyone would weaken the whole and thus hurt themselves.
But Xander had simply smiled at the elders when they tried to teach him this and pointed at one of the sky bisons the healers were working to save after a nasty collision with the mountain ledge had led to a broken leg and ultimately an infection.
“The leg is part of Paypa’s whole, to remove the leg would make her less whole, yet the infection is spreading, the part is hurting the whole, you can leave it and let the whole die together, or you can amputate and learn to live with the loss.” Xander had explained seriously before bowing to the Air Temple elders and making his way outside to play.
In all he had made a surprising amount of sense, it had created a great stir that had caused many in the temple to voice concerns until Monk Gyatso had stood before the assembled Air Nomads and explained that sacrifices must be made, but only after every possible avenue of cures had been tried.
The complicated part had been trying to figure out when someone else’s sacrifice was needed, and when it was your own, the monks were adamant that self sacrifice was the only sacrifice ever to be taken, and Xander insisted that some people were just… better off dead.
It was a troubling concept for the peaceful air nomads to accept.
Coming out of his thoughts Aang blinked as the party stopped before the massive doors that blocked off the Sanctuary from the outside world.
Taking in the intricate system of tubes and pipes Aang had to wonder if the Fire Benders had used the same person that made the Air Nomad Sanctuary for their door.
Zuko blinked in shock as the Fire Navy blockade turned and headed inland at full steam, rubbing his eyes to make sure his exhausted state wasn’t playing tricks on him Zuko turned towards the helmsmen and ordered them forward, if the entire navy was moving there was a good chance the Earth Bender and his friends were the ones responsible, and he wouldn’t let that pompous windbag Zhao capture the Avatar before him.
Standing at the prow of the ship Zuko made a mental note to get some tea before too long, he had been up all night and he didn’t want to face ‘Xander’ and his friends while completely exhausted.
He would find the avatar, and he would bring him before his father.
His honor was at stake.
Shaking the little man Xander nodded to the door, “Open it,” he ordered and sighed as the man started to babble a response that it was impossible,
Shaking his head at the idiocy of the situation Xander shoved the small man towards the four benders that had come with him before walking up to the door itself, looking it over Xander rolled his eyes the system was overly ornate and complicated to conceal the simplicity of the lock itself, a fire bender would force a flame down the central tubes heating up the water within the coils causing an expansion and pressure to the pistons within that unlocked the door itself.
While complicated for a fire bender and all but impossible for an earth or airbender due to the enclosed system the fact remained that it was a water based lock, evidently the fire nation believed it impossible for water benders to get this far into the fire kingdom, after all ten whole miles behind the blockade point was far too deep for any enemy to infiltrate.
Most likely the fire kingdom had never been told ‘How’ the system worked, which begged the question what the heck were they going to do once the system broke, while remarkably simple it was complicated enough that most were going to destroy it long before the ever figure out how it worked, only Xanders interest in Uncle Rory’s side business as a locksmith had helped him in figuring out the system.
Signaling to the Steambender Xander a grand show of waving his arms before the locked door before with a gesture the massive locks opened with a groan before the door slid open slightly before being concealed by a sudden influx of steam from the floor below, in a flash the Xander grabbed Aang by the back of his shirt and slid into the doorway before pulling it closed.
Looking around the small cloister Xander shrugged, the simple room was occupied by the ornate statue of the previous avatar Roku, the man had been a great asset to maintaining the peace of the world, yet had still failed to see the betrayal of his long time friend, the thought of what Shozin had done brought a curse to Xanders mind that he sent out to all traitors, Shozin and Ford being foremost on his list due to their betrayal of friends.
It was actually a bit weird honestly, Xander routinely asked men and women to betray their country yet he didn’t have any ill feelings for them as they weren’t betraying their friends directly and they weren’t doing it for power.
Staring at the man that had been his little brother predecessor Xander felt a small amount of pity for the man, he had trusted a friend and then been betrayed by him, cast from his country and abandoned by his own nation.
In all it was a very sad story that made Xander think about his own friend, Jesse at least had vampirism to blame for becoming a soulless monster, Shozin and Billy Fordham had only their own ambitions for their betrayal.
Sitting in the middle of the sanctuary Xander watched as the small dot of light slowly crawled closer to the gem at the center of the statues head, he had made sure the brotherhood had made sure to keep the actual position of the Sanctuary unchanged as they adapted the island to a more defensible battlefield for the predicted Fire Nation response.
As the light hit the gem the entire room was filled with a blinding light and Xander found himself standing next to little brother as they faced the massive form of Avatar Roku, blinking at the massive form Xander wondered if all the Avatars were massive, if so Xander had a little bit of worry that Aang would outgrow him and spend the last decades of his life beating him up in response for all the ribbing he was giving him now.
Blinking as the Avatars lips started to move Xander finally noticed the semi ethereal forms that the other two had taken since the flash of light.
Waving his hand through Aangs form Xander rolled his eyes as he started to get flashbacks to Halloween as the duo conversed silently Xander took another look around the room before stopping in shock as he caught his reflection in one of the mirrors the fire sages had used to increase the light in the room, this one was different as it held a soldier that he had seen many years ago in the mirror as he prepared for trick or treating, the only difference was the slightly glowing blue eyes that stared back at him in the mirror.
Stepping up to the glass Xander looked the other man over and shook his head, it was a blast from the past that was for sure, “Let me guess, you’re my cricket spirit here to put me back on the straight and narrow.” Xander asked rhetorically before the image shrugged.
“Actually I’ve always been here kid, just wanna see when you intend to really get this war heated up,” the soldier asked simply as Xander goggled in shock.
“Heated up, I invaded a country with a force I have NO Idea about or any clue how to use” Xander said as he stared at the spirit like it was crazy.
Of course being the spirit he was possessed with over five years and more than a century ago in another world entirely there was a passing fair chance Xander was the crazy one.
“And then you’re running away, you expect to fight a guerilla war with this force while hoping Aang gets away and gets his training, in all honesty you’re pulling the exact same crap everyone else is… Waiting for the Avatar.” The soldier said and ignored Xanders reactionary strike that cracked the mirror, “You want to make them hurt, to win by body count alone, but you saw how effective that was in Nam, these people will value the land so take the damn land and don’t ever let it go, make them bleed to hold what they have and when they retreat don’t ever give that land up again.”
As the soldiers form faded Xander rubbed his fist in thought, he had originally intended to leave a skirmishing force here to make them pay for retaking the island before they retreated away to punish the fire nation again. Yet his own world history had proven that skirmishing forces worked will to keep invaders at bay but not at defeating an established nation in force.
The beat the fire nation he needed to start taking land and keeping it, the brotherhood had to turn itself into an army, and fast or they would be overwhelmed by the established military of the Fire Nation.
Returning to the center of the room Xander took a seat and started to really consider the options he had to take the fight to the fire nation itself.
While he would definitely work to support the guerilla style fighting he had initially started but he had to put a real army together, the Earth kingdom was far too focused on the defensive to support him truly in his war, while Bumi would help Xander couldn’t in good consequences request too much help as Omashu was far too valuable to the earth kingdoms continued existence to really consider weakening them excessively.
After a short time the odd glow surrounding the room faded leaving Aang back among the world of the living.
Looking at the glowing eyed airbender with the overshadow of avatar Roku hovering over his brothers form, Xander smiled as the sounds of battle started to fade in through the building walls, the fire nations response had arrived, “Ready to go?” he asked and smirked at the look his possessed little brother gave him, it looked like Roku was going to work out some unresolved issues with his former national brothers.
Stepping away from the door Xander smiled as the possessed avatar shoved the door open and stepped outside.
Zuko was shocked, standing on the deck of his flag ship he stared at the destruction before him, cruisers and battleships were damaged and sinking in the crescent bay as fire benders struggled through the water to the beach, on arriving they began the chaotic scramble up hundreds of feet of sheer rock face that had not been there before as they fought against the assembled force that was arrayed against them.
Staring at the battlefield Zuko began to feel sick as he watched the soldiers fall from the cliff face and plummet to the ground below as rocks and water attacks were mixed with arrows from the top.
The heavy battleships were forced to keep a distance that kept the massive firepower potential they offered from coming into play in support of the ground forces leaving the soldiers to their own devices as they fought for their lives.
Turning to his uncle Zuko frowned as the old general watched the battlefield with the eye of experience that Zuko lacked, turning back to the battle Zuko frowned as he realized that he had no chance to get through this to capture the Earthbenders. “Is there anything they can do?” he questioned as his uncle stroked his beard in thought.
Watching the battle carefully Iroh pointed at the arms reaching out to sea “A team moved to the arms could assemble one of the heavy cannons to support the ground units, armored plates from the damaged ships could be used to off cover the beach front and offer a battle point for the units to engage from while navy teams open a path for the ships to offer close support.” Iroh explained before shrugging “But most likely Zhao will order one or two of his battleships to force their way through and beach themselves before firing on the cliff face.” Iroh explained just before two of the heavy battleships turned into the bay and started to accelerate “
Watching the ships Zuko considered for a moment before deciding that it was likely a decision he would have made in Zhao’s place without his uncles advice, thankfully being removed from the chain of command gave him a chance to observe the situation and really think about the issue “But, they have prepared for everything we have done so far, they must have expected…” his statement was cut off as a mist started to rise off the oceans surface and quickly observed the battle from view. Soon after the deep thudding sound of the battle ships heavy guns opened up as they fired blind.
Turning to the grim face of his uncle Zuko understood exactly what that meant for the hundreds of men stationed on the ships and fighting on the beach “They are lost aren’t they?” he questioned before looking back at the fading sound of the fire fight “The ships, the men…”
“Now you understand why I’m so tired Zuko, three hundred days of this was more than enough for me.” The retired general explained before turning away “Zhao is a fool, he may take the island but his loses will assure that this will never be a victory,” he growled before walking back into the ship, he knew how this would end, and he was pretty sure the fire nations opponent was sure of the ending as well.
He was tired of fighting, tired of war and tired of writing letters to parents proud that their children had been sacrificed to the mighty fire nation war machine.
He cursed his grandfather for starting the war, his father for continuing the war, his brother for pushing the other nations into bringing the war to them and his self for not stopping it years ago.
Stepping into his cabin Iroh took a moment to try and calm himself before moving over to the small shrine he had made to his son.
Kneeling in front of the shrine Iroh tried to block out the sounds of battle that was seeping in through the walls of the small destroyer.
“Leaves from the vine, Falling so slow, Like fragile, tiny shells, Drifting in the foam, Little soldier boy, Come marching home, Brave soldier boy, Comes marching home.”
As he sang the song Iroh refused to hide the tears that were in memory of a fallen soldier that he was so very familiar with that had fallen before the walls of Ba Sing Sa many years before.
Stepping away from the doorway Zuko turned and walked back to the bridge, stopping Zuko looked at the captain before giving the order he thought he would never issue “Turn us away captain, there’s nothing here for us but pain.”
As the captain issued the orders Zuko stepped out on deck and watched the last views of war, the mist had lifted and revealed the shattered remains of the two battleships broken on the beach as the few survivors struggled to survive against the prepared enemy defenses.
As the small destroyer turned away Zuko began to wonder what his country would be like if that level of destruction was ever brought to his own home.
It was a thought that would keep him up for many nights to come.
Stepping out into the evening sun Xander stared out at the battle with the eyes of a soldier, the heavy ships were being held at bay and the smaller units were being destroyed ad hoc as they made land fall, yet even then the fire nation would be capable of blockading the island until the landing forces were moved up from the main land to take the island back.
Turning to the glowing Aang Xander motioned towards the massive ships further out to sea, “if you’re willing I would ask that you send them away.” Xander said as the avatar nodded solemnly.
Taking a step forward the avatar ‘pushed’ sending a wave of water and air bending towards the ships, as the ocean itself turned against the massive vessels the admiral made the decision to take the remainder of his fleet away from the threat that was destroying him more decisively than any other battle in fire nation history.
Watching the fleet retreat Xander had to come to a decision, he could hold the island and use it as a staging point, or sink the island and demoralize the enemy.
Looking down at the assembled Brotherhood Xander came to a decision, “Sink the Island, scatter to the winds, meet back up at Gaoling at the seasons end.” He ordered and watched as the those that could hear him ran to pass the message on to those that could not, turning to his own little group Xander stared at the three sadely “I have to go with them,” he said before waving away the arguments “I have too, the fire nation will soon think I am the Avatar, they wil search for me and the best way to protect you is to be as far away from you as I can.” He explained before dropping down in front of Aang.
“You need to go to the Northern Water tribe Aang, learn to be the Avatar, if you are ready by seasons end meet us in Gaoling and I will help you find an Earthbender to teach you, we may even have some firebenders by then that could help out.” Xander said before pulling him into a hug “Be safe squirt, and don’t forget to get some fuzz therapy every now and then, if I find you have gone all emo on me I will personally have Appa sit on you until you get over it.” Xander threatened before letting him go.
Moving on to Sokka Xander laid a hand on the young mans shoulder “Keep an eye on them, I am depending on you to be the guardian of the Avatar, not boss, not brother, and not thug,” he explained as he locked eyes with the Sokka and made sure to impress the seriousness on the young man, “you are a warrior now, you represent yourself, your family, your tribe and..” Trailing off Xander handed Sokka a small emblem with the brotherhoods crest “You represent the brotherhood, Remember what I taught you, and remember what you learned from others, when you get to the north pole find someone to continue your training. “ Xander said seriously before taking a step back and saluting the young man and held until the shocked young man returned the salute.
Turned to Kitara, Xander ignored her blush as he pulled her into a hug “Take care of him, Aang needs a voice of reason and he listens to you,” he whispered before smiling “And ignore Sokka when he finds out you like Aang,” he whispered before kissing the young waterbender on the head and grunted as she landed a solid blow to his gut for the teasing “Seriously Kitara, he doesn’t need a mother, he needs a friend and ally, you are both. Don’t let that change and he will see how important you are, eventually.”
Stepping back Xander looked at the small group and shook his head, three kids, a monkey and a flying cow were going off on their own to learn how to save the world. For a moment Xander felt a deep bite of despair before shaking the feeling off, they were as ready as they could be for this.
Several minutes later Xander was onboard one of the boats as they sailed away from the sinking island, the only item saved from the doomed island was the statue of the late Avatar Roku.
(A/N) I hope you all enjoyed and give me bright shiny reviews, I do not own the Jaws Theme or any other items found within
This was written back in November for the NanoWriMo challenge, it has been sitting for more than a half a year now, I had originally intended to continue this through the other ‘Books’ showing an escalation of war that never really felt right in the series as well as the evolution of the different characters widely divergent from the originals thanks to Xander’s interference.
Unfortunately due to ongoing issues with time, energy, school, work and a rather serious back injury due to a car wreck as well as some issues with my Beta Reader that is not going to be possible.
For the time being at least, here ends the Big Brother Storyline, thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed.
Thanks Duchess for beings such a great Beta.