They stare at the figure in the ice.
"That's impossible." Sokka breathes, his words hanging in the frozen air. Until the war he had harbored hopes of becoming an engineer, always buried in books about cryo formulations and stasis modules- and his brain is telling him six different reasons why what he's looking at shouldn't happen.
Katara ignores him, running a gloved hand over the cliff face. Distorted by the ice, it's impossible to tell what, exactly, they've found- only that the figure is humanoid, and roughly as tall as they are.
"Impossible or not, it's right in front of us." she steps back and holds out her hands. "Give me your rifle, Sokka."
Sokka almost does (she's using her Mother Voice, the one she developed after Kya died and Hakoda left, the one Sokka uses in his head when he warns himself about things he shouldn't do) before he realises what she's planning and pulls back.
"Oh no. This will bring the Family down on us for sure, and we don't want that kind of trouble."
The kids in the village barely make it from day to day as it is. What the Alliance didn't take before the coup Cerberus picked out afterwards. Sokka was just barely too young, that time. In a few months he knows he's going to have a big problem on his hands.
He's trying not to think about it.
Katara- who will of course have an even bigger problem when Cerberus finds out she's been hiding her biotics from them- gives him a withering look and snatches the gun out of his hands.
She's not sure why she does it, really, but that first wild swing at the ice feels like freedom. Like hope and adrenaline, and everything else she carefully forgot how to feel after Hakoda left. Katara smashes at the ice again and again, her breath hard and ragged, her face flushing with heat.
On perhaps the sixth or seventh strike, there is a blinding flash that dies almost as quickly as it sparks, sending Katara and Sokka staggering backwards. Katara's amp stirs inside her, the biotics tingling in recognition of... something.
Revealed, the figure stirs. Unclenches hands that have formed into fists. Blinks two sets of eyes, and smiles at the humans staring up at him.
"What a ride! This is the planet with the penguins, yes?"
Miles away, on the only Cerberus outpost this planet has rated, a light flashes once, twice. Shuts off.
(Zuko hates the consoles. They make his remaining organic eye water as the visor compensates)
"A reading. Unusual energy spike."
Since the duel, he has become almost painfully laconic. Zuko points at the map. His uncle gets up, grumbling a little at the pain in his knees, and peers at it too.
A small flare of white light marks the icy planet. Zuko allows himself a small thrill of excitement. His father hasn't sent him on a fool's errand after all.
"Zuko-" Iroh lays a hand on his shoulder, and the boy imagines he can feel the weight even through his armour. "This could be nothing."
Zuko shrugs him off.
"Shall I prepare a shuttle, sir?"
Lieutenant Jee looks at him expectantly. Zuko nods, then turns for his quarters. In the Capital, perhaps, his father has kept his old rooms. Here, he sleeps in rooms identical to those of his men, distinguished only by the single bunk and the personal medical station necessary for his prosthetics.
"Message my father. Tell him Cerberus can expect their artifact soon."