Categories > Cartoons > Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Making of Me

by hootowl 0 reviews

Companion piece to Rescue Me. After a failed prison break, Sokka and Aang are on their own. Both have some growing up to do. Training's not all just fun and games, after all. No pairings (so far). ...

Category: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Rating: G - Genres: Humor - Characters: Aang,Sokka - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2013-06-10 - Updated: 2013-06-10 - 1704 words

Things went belly-up faster than Sokka could blink. He dodged a flaming punch from one of the guards, cursing violently under his breath. He should have never agreed to this. The edge of his tunic caught fire and he quickly rolled to put it out. They just had to make it out alive. All around him, fire burned hot, fed by the coal Aang had forced up the vent shafts. He dodged again, his thoughts more on escape than fighting. Around him, earthbenders fell to their prison wards. Their screams of pain echoed loud in his ears and the stench of burning flesh turned his stomach. Sokka kept moving. A moving target was harder to hit. Someone shouted for Katara to stop, but Sokka was suddenly pinned down and it was taking everything in him to avoid the flames licking dangerously close. He could hear his sister scream and his heart clenched in an icy fist. She was in trouble and he couldn’t help her. He’d promised he look after her. Keep her safe. With a deep breath, he darted from his hiding spot, tripping a few firebenders that were in his path. Katara screamed again and he spun toward her just as the Warden loomed over her, his words mocking, “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.”

Someone crashed into Sokka’s back, taking him to the ground. Wind rushed over him and flames roared. Shouts of astonishment rose and were followed by brisk orders. A focused blast of air knocked approaching firebenders off their feet and Sokka realized what that meant. Aang had arrived. Retreat was mandatory. An earthbender hauled him to his feet, shouting words he was too dazed to understand and pushing him toward the edge of the prison rig. Aang cleared a path though it took considerable effort and he was quickly tiring. He suddenly realized they were one short and he turned back to the fighting, shouting, “Katara!”

“Go!” The earthbender urged.

Aang had already thrown himself into Appa’s saddle and the sky bison bellowed anxiously. Sokka resisted, looking back into the fiery chaos, eyes franticly searching. “But my sister!”

“Sokka!” Katara screamed for him and the terror in her voice made his blood turn to ice.

He struggled against the hands that pushed back at him, hardly noticing the words that were shouted in his ear, “There’s nothing you can do!”

He barely had time to notice fire blossom to his right and then he was falling. Above him, the earthbender burst into flames. He landed with a thump in Appa’s saddle, breath rushing from his lungs and cutting off the scream he wasn’t aware was escaping from his mouth. Gasping, he scrambled to the edge of the saddle, but already they were out of range of the firebenders. Gulping lungfuls of air, he screamed, “Katara!”

Aang was at his side in an instant, smelling of smoke and scorched flesh, gray eyes wide and terrified. “We have to go back!”

Sokka sat back, eyes burning as he watched the distance yawn wider. His shoulders sagged. Movement caught his eyes and he turned to see Aang preparing to dive off the air bison. Sokka lunged for him, grabbing his wrist and forcefully hauling him back into the saddle. “No.”

Shock crossed Aang’s young features, his mouth moving in incredulous silence before he exploded, “But Katara—We can’t just leave her! We have to go back!”

Sokka swallowed thickly, eyes watching oily black smoke rise from the prison rig. He knew what he had to do. He squeezed his eyes closed, scrubbing angrily at his eyes as a tear slide down his cheek. Sokka took a quivering breath and forced himself to meet the dawning horror in Aang’s. “No, Aang, we can’t.”

“We’re just going to abandon her?”

Guilt welled up inside him and he swallowed back a sob. When he was certain he’d be able to speak without breaking down, he spoke in a toneless voice, “We have no choice.”

Defiance rose in Aang’s face and for a brief moment Sokka thought he would leave anyway, but then his face crumpled and tears welled. A last look back at the prison rig and then Aang retreated to Appa’s reigns. A moment later, Sokka could hear the young boy’s sobs. Alone in the saddle, Sokka pressed his face to his knees and let his tears fall unhindered. In the last twelve hours, he’d shattered every promise he’d ever made to protect his sister.


Zuko pulled himself over the edge of the Prison Rig, stifling a grimace at the rancid smell of burned flesh. The prison guards were scattered about the open courtyard clearing smoldering coals and dragging limp bodies to a growing pile near the far edge. Ash, blood, and soot scorched the metal walls and floors. It was clear a battle had taken place. Zuko look around, expression impassive even though his stomach rolled at the sight and smell. While it was clear the Fire Nation was the victor, Zuko felt no pride in the outcome. A slaughter had taken place. Beside him, Iroh grunted quietly. “I had hoped to never witness such a scene again.”

Iroh’s usual cheerful demeanor was absent, replaced by a hard, haunted look. Zuko glanced at him but was prevented from saying anything by the approach of the warden. He stalked forward, shoving a hapless guard out of the way, demanding, “What do you want—Oh, you do us great honor by visiting us, General Iroh.”

The warden’s tone changed immediately on recognizing them, adopting a conciliatory tone and a simpering smile. Zuko scowled at him, but Iroh bowed, speaking cheerfully, “Good evening, Warden Tai Yang. It appears you had some trouble.”

Tai Yang’s smile tightened. “It was nothing we couldn’t handle. A minor uprising.”

Iroh made a sympathetic noise. “That is too bad.”

“Yes,” Tai Yang said shortly. “We had to put down over half of our prisoners. It may put us behind our production.”

Iroh tucked his hands into his sleeves, sparing a glance at the bodies piled on the far side of the rig before commenting, “Fortunately, the ships sustain little damage during combat in recent years.”

“Hadoka and his Shadow Wolves are causing trouble to some of the ships in the east. Dishonorable combatants, all those barbarians.”

Zuko let his eyes drift, only half listening to the conversation. If the Avatar wasn’t here, he didn’t want to linger. The smell was making his stomach lurch. A glint of blue caught Zuko’s eye and he stepped away, ignoring whatever banalities his uncle was spouting to the other man. He bent, picking up the object and turning it over in his hand. The stone was cool in his palm, soot blackening part of the band, and he traced the carving. It wasn’t a symbol that he knew, but he recognized the necklace. His fist closed over the stone and he turned back to Tai Yang, demanding, “Where is he?”

Tai Yang didn’t quite stop the sneer that pulled at his mouth as he addressed Zuko. “Who, Prince Zuko?”

Zuko’s jaw tensed. He wanted to blast that sneer right off the old warden’s face. He could already feel his fist heating. Iroh must have recognized Zuko’s building temper as he quickly spoke up, “We are following a young airbender. If you have any information on him, we’d greatly appreciate it.”

Zuko wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries. “He was here. Where is he?”

The Warden snarled at Zuko, quickly schooling his features when he caught the raised eyebrows of Iroh. “Gone. The coward fled.”

Zuko bit back a curse, storming past his uncle to return to his ship. “Let’s go. He’s getting away.”

Iroh followed at a slower pace. “Prince Zuko, we don’t know where they went. They could be anywhere. I’m sure Warden Tai Yang would like to have tea with us.”

“There’s no time!” Zuko shouted back.

Iroh sighed, watching his nephew scramble down the ladder and drop to the deck of their ship. Zuko strode across the deck, barking orders along the way. A few of the sailors glanced toward Iroh for confirmation. Iroh waved and they turned to their duties. The crew was getting restless. Many of them missed their families. He would have to talk to them. Tai Yang followed Iroh to the rail, watching the activity on the ship. Grudgingly, he turned, offering, “They headed west, General Iroh.”

“Thank you, Warden Tai Yang. I apologize for our brief visit. Perhaps we can have tea together some other time.”

Zuko breathed a sigh of relief as they pulled away from the Prison Rig. The sea air was fresh and brisk, but he could still smell death and burning. It would probably be several days before he would smell anything else. For the time being, he stood alone at the bow, staring at the setting sun. His hand clenched around a stone, reminding him that he was still holding the necklace. Zuko studied the necklace for a moment. The girl who owned it was a waterbender. A smirk crossed his face. He was a better bender than her. He could defeat her and easily take the Avatar. For the briefest of moments he wondered how she lost her necklace.

“What have you got there, Prince Zuko?”

His uncle’s sudden presence startled him and he quickly tucked the necklace away, glaring at his uncle. “Nothing. Any news?”

Iroh gave him a long, considering look that made him shift uncomfortably. Finally, Iroh shook his head. “Not yet. Perhaps it’s time for you to practice your firebending.”

Zuko nodded, giving the western horizon one last look before moving to follow his uncle. He would find the Avatar and restore his honor, he swore to himself.
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