Categories > Cartoons > Avatar: The Last Airbender > Rescue Me

Twelve Hours

by hootowl 1 review

Recognizable quotes come from the episode Imprisoned.

Category: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Rating: PG - Genres: Humor,Romance - Characters: Katara,Zuko - Published: 2013-01-30 - Updated: 2013-01-31 - 1428 words

0Unrated
Fire was all around her, walling her in on all sides, pressing close and singeing her hair. She struggled to protect herself from the flames, cruel laughter echoing in her ears. She couldn't get away. She couldn't reach enough water. She couldn't control it. Fingers of flame reached for her and she screamed. Terror gripped her but she held firm. Whatever happened, happened. She would not back down. A voice called to her, pleading desperately, "Stop, Katara, you can't win this fight!"

No, she would not stop. Freedom beckoned for her. Then time stilled. The figure of Death stood before her—No, not Death, just the warden. His face was pulled into a mocking grin. "Listen to him well, child. You're one mistake from dying where you stand."

She lashed out in fear, only to have her attack carelessly brushed aside. The warden sneered. "Foolish girl! You thought a few inspirational words and some coal would change these people? Look at those blank faces. Their spirits were broken long ago. Oh? But you still believe in them? How sweet. They're a waste of your energy, little girl. You've failed."

Chaos erupted. Shouts of pain and the roar of flames filled the air. Someone tackled the warden, another was shouting to run, but it was too late. They were overpowered and her twelve hours were up. They were trapped.

.........

The cell was cramped and dirty. Filth from the previous occupants was pushed into the corners though that didn't help the smell or the cleanliness. Katara lay where the Fire Nation guards had dropped her. If she were still capable of tears, she knew she'd cry; but tears had long since dried. Tears hadn't saved her yet and they only brought more brutal treatment at the hands of her captors. Deadened blue eyes stared into nothing, and not even the rodents that had managed to make their way onto the giant steel island drew a rise out of her. Katara's head dropped back to the floor with a dull thump and she closed her eyes. Death would come soon enough.

She'd been naive to expect a prison break to be simple. Her eyes burned but still no tears came. So many had died in the initial uprising and she'd been unable to do anything despite being surrounded by her element. She wasn't strong enough. Her memories mocked her. Her optimism that good always triumphed over evil had gotten the best of her. She should have realized that evil had been winning for nearly one hundred years, one fourteen year old girl wasn't about to change that. She'd been a fool. She failed and Haru and a dozen others paid the price. Who were they to stand against the strongest nation in the world? It was only a matter of time before they came for her and then she would have nothing.

The rats scattered and a moment later the lock squealed horribly and the door crashed open. A large form filled the door, face hidden behind a masked helmet. Some inner piece of her recoiled, forcing her body to curl protectively around her vital organs. Rough hands seized her matted hair, forcing her to her feet. Pain shuddered through her body, escaping in a quiet gasp that was either unheard or ignored. The treatment to bind her arms was rough, as it had always been, and her skin had already been rubbed raw from previous restraints. The soldier gave the ropes a harsh tug, grunting, "Don't get any ideas. You're coming with me today, get moving!"

The hands shoved her and she stumbled clumsily over her feet before landing in an inelegant heap in the corridor. The firebender flung a vile curse at her followed by a swift kick. A cry escaped her as a rib snapped, reflexive tears escaped her eyes, the first in weeks. With a final kick, the guard seized her arm and dragged her down into the bowels of the steel structure. The sounds of human suffering reached her long before they reached their destination. The hot blast of air made her eyes water and the warden turned as they entered. His eyes were cold despite his smile. "Ah, so our little jeohangja arrives at last. A pity you're no good to me here, weak as you are, I'm sure we would've found some," he paused as if to find the right word, "use for you."

She said nothing, her eyes staring and unseeing. The handle of the whip pushed her chin up and the warden leaned forward, cold, gold eyes searching her face. He sharply turned her head to a different angle, eyes assessing, before he dropped her chin and spoke to the guard who still had a tight hold on her arm. "She's untouched?"

"Yes, sir."

The warden nodded, moving to the nearby table and leafing through several pages and maps, pausing to consider one. "I suppose the markets are still running?"

The guard answered in the affirmative and the soldier turned a critical gaze back to Katara, "Well, Jeonhangja, you'll fetch a pretty penny at the markets. Too bad I can't try you myself."

For a brief moment, blue eyes sharpened and the warden laughed. "Take her away and clean her up. I'm sure the traders will want a medical script for her, see that it's done."

The warden wave a hand in dismissal and Katara was propelled from the room. Once again, she tripped over her own feet, this time crashing into a wall. It had been weeks since she'd used her legs for longer than a few minutes and she could feel her muscles crying under the strain. Her vision swam and darkened as her stomach rolled. When was the last time she ate? A sharp prod in her broken ribs had her shying away with a hiss.

"Get moving, girl."

When she didn't move fast enough, another shop prod forced her to stumble away if only to avoid the pain. It was several faltering steps later that the fog around her brain lifted and the scent of illness and sterilization fluid tickled her nose. A new kind of terror gripped her. She'd prefer death to dishonor any day. Without warning, she ran. Her ribs protested violently, shortening her gasps for air, and her legs felt like she was running through mud.

She must have caught her guard unawares, it was the only explanation she had for how far she'd gotten before he gave a shout of alarm and chased after her. It was a futile attempt, but perhaps they would kill her in the process. Black encroached on her vision as her lungs couldn't pull in enough air and then she was tackled from behind, her breath rushing from her in a pained scream. She wasn't going down without a fight. She kicked. She screamed. She bit. The corridor reverberated with the sound of her fighting and the shouts and orders of several firebenders who'd come at the noise.

"Stop! You're hurting her!"

She sank her teeth into her captor's hand, prompting a pained yell. "Good riddance! She's a demon." She locked her jaw, drawing blood. "Agni! You have to sedate her!"

"I'm trying! Hold her still."

Fingers pressed beneath her jaw and she could feel her grip loosening against her will. More fingers forced her teeth apart and her captive snatched his hand back with a flurry of curses. A cloth slipped over her nose and mouth and with a few last, weak struggles, she drifted into unconsciousness.

She hovered on the edge of wakefulness, her limbs feeling like lead and her eyes refusing to open. The voices around her sounded like they came from a long way off, echoing hollowing in her head.

"That's going to leave a scar."

"Great."

"You don't sound too happy about that."

"There's nothing to brag about a half-starved girl nearly taking off a chunk of my flesh with her teeth."

"How old do you suppose she is?"

"Hell if I know. The bitch has strong jaws. Perhaps you should write a warning on that medical transcript of yours."

"She's so young—"

"Good. She'll fetch a higher price."

"That's cruel and sick."

"That's orders. It's a shame about the hair."

"It'll grow back. You better take a lye bath before you return to your quarters. Just as a precaution."

"Great. One more thing to worry about. Sometimes I really hate my job."

Footsteps moved away and Katara felt herself sinking back into oblivion. A whispered sigh reached her ears. "I always hate mine."
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