South Pole, Three Days Southeast of the Southern Water Tribe City
"Do you see them?" The thirteen year old girl jumped from her spot, peering out of their temporary shelter, as her mother's voice called from behind her.
"Huh? No," she shook her head, and shrugged her shoulders. Large blue eyes looked down at her booted feet as she let out a heavy sigh. "I don't see them, yet."
"They should be arriving soon, Katara," the woman said with a warm smile. "Close the door. You're letting the hot air out."
Katara nodded and turned. She raised her arms and quickly closed the flaps of the tent. Her entire family, sans Gran-Gran, had set out for her brother's first trip hunting with his father as an official 'man' in the eyes of their tribe. He had turned fourteen two months earlier, and a week after his birthday, passed his ice dodging trail with flying colors.
She had been excited for him until he started rubbing it in her face that he was now a 'man' and she was still a 'baby' in the eyes of the tribe. Katara snorted indignantly and had crossed her arms. Soon, she would be a woman in the eyes of the tribe, and according to their Gran-Gran, she would grow up to a very important member of the tribe; a healer.
To Katara, that beat out her brother's 'warrior' status simply because she could water bend. Unlike him, she chose not to rub it in. Often, anyway.
"Mom," she began as she walked over to where her mother was preparing the evening meal on a makeshift stove in the center of their tent. "How long are we going to be out here?"
"Just a few more days," her mother replied as she poked the fire under an iron pot. "The trip usually lasts about a week. Then we'll go home," She heard a heavy sigh from her daughter's lips and looked up. "Are you bored?"
"Yes," Katara frowned without hesitation. "Dad and Sokka get to go out and I'm stuck here all day."
"You're the one who wanted to come, too." her mother reminded her. Katara cringed. She had a point. When their father said he would take Sokka out for a week of hunting, Katara insisted she go, too. Sokka had been completely against it; feeling it would jeopardize his time with his father. However, since their mother was coming, also, they felt Katara should also be able to go and keep their mother company. As much as she loved her mother, there was only so much waiting around her that she could take.
"I know…" Katara mumbled. "I just didn't know it would be so boring…"
"Why don't you go out and practice some water bending?" her mother suggested as she stirred the contents of one of the pots. "I'm sure Yugoda would be pleased when you return to the North Pole next summer to see you have improved."
Katara let out a heavy sigh. She had been sent away for the last three summers to learn healing from her grandmother's friend in the North Pole. It was relatively an understatement to say that she was the best student; however her true passion lay in fighting. Unfortunately, that was a 'boys only' thing and she was prohibited from taking it in the highly patriarchal and misogynistic North Pole.
She had to settle for the less bending oriented fighting style of the South Pole, and that could only take her so far. "Okay, I'm going outside…" she resigned. She heard her mother's light hearted laugh as she slipped out of the tent, and trudged out into the packed snow just outside their tent. It was growing darker outside. Her arms automatically went around her body as she shivered slightly.
Katara got three steps before she heard elated yelling to her left. She turned her head and squinted through the settling darkness to see two blobs of blue coming towards her. One seemed to be smaller, waving his arms in the air to show off a…fish?
"Katara!" Sokka shouted ecstatically as his feet sank into the snow with each step he took. "Look what I caught this time!"
A small bubble of jealousy rose inside of her. She had wanted to go out fishing that morning, too, but Sokka insisted it was only for him and their father. Feigning disinterest, she shrugged. "That's nice."
"It's bigger than the one dad caught!" Sokka bragged as he reached her. "Want to see?" He shoved the dead, arm sized fish in front of Katara, only to have his younger sister stumble back and wrinkle her nose.
"I see it, Sokka!" Katara frowned as she batted it away. Sokka chuckled.
"Katara, did you have a good day with your mom?" Hakoda asked as he reached his two children.
"Yes…" Katara sighed, almost automatically. In truth, she had been bored out of her mind, but she didn't want her brother to know.
"Hakoda, Sokka, you're back?" A brown haired head poked out of the tent flap and smiled warmly at the two new arrivals. Her eyes settled on the fish her son caught, and she let out a surprised gasp. "Sokka! Did you catch that?"
"Uh-huh!" The blue eyed boy beamed as he puffed out his chest. "All by myself. It's bigger than the one dad caught."
"All right, already," Hakoda chuckled as he passed Sokka and ruffled his hair. "He hasn't stopped reminding me that all day."
"It looks good. Gran-Gran will be so happy to see it when we get home," their mother smiled. "Are you all hungry? Dinner is just about ready."
"Dinner sounds good," Sokka dropped his fish, his thoughts immediately going towards that of cooked food. Their mother ushered the children inside while Hakoda gathered the fish and equipment to be put away. "Umm…smells good!" Sokka announced as he walked into the tent.
"It should, I made some of it." Katara told him as she closed the flap behind them. She began to shed her thick parka in the warm room.
"Which ones?" Sokka asked as he looked down at the small pots of food around the fire. "I'll be sure to skip over those." He grinned. Katara shot him a dangerous look.
Their mother let out a heavy sigh and handed them both plates. "I made some sea prunes tonight, so share." She added with a hint of warning. The siblings nodded as she lifted up the lid to the bowl. Immediately, their spoons came down on the same piece, and two sets of blue eyes collided.
"Sokka, that's mine."
"No, it's mine."
"I don't see your name on it." Katara hissed.
"It's all wrinkled and pruny; you can't see it any more." Sokka retorted.
"Oh, for the love of…" Their mother brushed both their hands away and scooped up some prunes for the both of them. "Leave some for your father." She told them. The two nodded and began to dig into their bowls.
As they argued over which piece of fish they wanted, their mother lifted her head from the stove. Her blue eyes narrowed and immediately locked on to the flap of the tent. She could hear her husband's footsteps crunching into the snow…in rushed steps. The children didn't notice anything until Hakoda burst through the flap.
"Dad!" Katara began as she glared at her brother. "Sokka took the last piece of seal blubber and won't share!"
"Hey, I let you have the last one yesterday ." Sokka replied coolly.
"You did not !"
"Katara, Sokka, get your things." Their father's voice shook them out of their usual banter. His eyes were flickering around the room, a nervous look on his face. Something was wrong.
"What?" Sokka asked. He lifted his head from his bowl of food and frowned as he put his spoon down. "Dad-"
"Don't ask questions!" Hakoda said, his voice shaking. He reached down and grabbed Katara's discarded parka. "Put this on. Hurry!"
"Dad, what's going on?" Katara's voice began to tremble as she sensed the panic in the room. As her father took her bowl out of her hands, he began helping her into her parka. "Dad?"
"Sokka, put your parka back on!" their mother snapped. Sokka's eyebrows furrowed. She knew something was wrong when she heard Hakoda's footsteps rushing into the tent.
"What's going on?" Sokka said. Across from him, their mother was shoving things into a leather sack. "Mom? Dad?"
"Dad, you're scaring me!" Katara whimpered as she was hoisted up. "What's going on?"
"Sokka, take your sister and head for our boat," Hakoda told his son sternly as he gathered his children into his arms for one strong hug. "Keep running and don't turn back." He whispered into his son's ear.
"What!?" Sokka gasped. He shoved their father away and stumbled back; blue eyes wide with confusion. "What's going on?" he demanded as he batted his mother's arms away.
"Don't question your father!" their mother said, her voice panic stricken. She reached out and looped the strap of the sack around Katara's shoulders. "Just keep running," She whispered as she tightened the strap firmly to her daughter's body. "Go straight for the city."
A hand reached out and whirled her around. "Go with them." Hakoda said as he grasped his wife's shoulders.
The woman's eyes widened with horror as she paled at the implications of his words. Defiantly, she shook her head as her eyes narrowed with determination. "I'm not leaving you." Her voice was stern and strong. The two teenagers looked at each other worriedly, unsure why they were being suddenly forced to leave.
Hakoda's eyes saddened. A deep pain crossed his face as he shook his head. "They need you more than I do." he whispered in a low voice.
"Hakoda," she frowned. Her eyes narrowed as shaking brown hands rose and gripped on to the cold material of his outer clothing. A pleading look graced her face. "Don't-"
"Someone has to hold them off," he reminded her. "I'll hold them back," His gloved hands rose and pried his wife's hands from his clothes. He turned to his two children. His hands reached out and placed themselves on Sokka's shoulders. "Sokka, I need you to be a man now."
"Dad…" Sokka's voice was shaking, despite every ounce of his body telling him to stay calm. "What's going on." He was a demand, not a question.
Worry crossed Hakoda's face once more. "I saw the lights of marauders in the distance. There were sightings in the far south west of the pole lately. I didn't think they would get this far."
"Dad, what are marauders?" Katara asked. She had a faint idea, but wasn't sure.
"There isn't time to explain," Hakoda told her. He knelt down in front of Katara and lifted his hands. He smiled intently as he lifted his hands and gently brushed back the loops of her hair that framed her face. "I'm sorry I won't get to see you grow up into a beautiful lady."
The words cut through her like a knife. Blue eyes went wide as the color drained from her face. Dread filled her body. "Dad?" He wrapped his arms around his daughter once more and closed his eyes tightly.
"I love you, Katara."
"Daddy…" Tears collected at her eyes as her mother grabbed her hand and pulled her out of her father's embrace.
"We have to go, Katara," she said sternly. "Sokka, come on!" She grabbed his arm, only to be pushed away.
"I can't leave dad!" Sokka insisted as he grabbed his whale tooth club from the side of the tent.
"Sokka!" Hakoda frowned and looked his son square in the eyes. "You are my son. All I ask is that you take care of your sister."
"Dad, we can't leave you!" Sokka insisted, his heart ripping in his chest. He could hear them approaching. The sounds of beasts of burden trudging across the icy landscape outside their tent.
"Promise me you'll take care of Katara," Hakoda told his son. Sokka shook his head as tears began stream down his face. "Sokka, promise me!"
Sokka refused to look his father in the eyes as his hand tightened around the club. Behind him, Katara's broken, confused sobs echoed through the tent. "Dad-"
"Promise me, Sokka!" Hakoda shouted. Finally, Sokka raised his head. A determined look was etched in his features as he nodded his head.
"I'll protect, Katara." He said, his voice shaking despite his conviction.
Hakoda nodded his head proudly. "You've made me a proud man, Sokka. No father could be as proud or love his son more than I," Yelling could be heard approaching and Hakoda looked over at the hole at the top of the tent where smoke had been escaping. His hands gripped Sokka's shoulders tightly and he turned back to his son. "Go!"
His wife ripped open the back of the tent and shoved Katara through. Her arm flew out and grabbed Sokka, dragging him away from his father and through the back of the tent. As she stood at the makeshift exit, pain filled eyes met Hakoda's once more. "Hakoda…" She whispered.
His heart clenched as clear tears streamed down her soft brown face. "I love you…" he whispered softly. He took a step forward, his arm extending to touch her one last time. Katara's scream from outside the tent heralded a familiar whistling sound through the air. The blood in their veins froze.
"Hakoda!" Arrows rained through the leather tent's walls; piercing through, and embedding themselves in the clothes, supplies, and furs that littered the tent floor. She screamed as she watched one slam into Hakoda's side.
"Get the children out of here!" he yelled as he lunged forward. He grabbed one of the spears and used it to keep him standing as his other hand went down, and tore the arrow out of his ribs. A painful groan escaped his gritted teeth as he turned his back to his wife and headed out the front of the tent. "Go!" he said as he waved his hand behind him. "I'll hold them back!"
The tears wouldn't stop coming. Her legs suddenly felt like giving way beneath her as she stumbled forward after her husband; the only man she'd ever loved. "Hakoda!"
"Mom!" Katara's cries shook her out of her shock. She closed her eyes and turned her head away. A different instinct took over. She had to save her children. Their children. She turned around and, grabbed the spear that was leaning against the side of the tent before running out to the children. Behind them, on the other side of the tent they heard the yells of the arriving marauders.
"Let's go!" she shouted as she wiped her eyes. I'll see you soon, Hakoda… Her hand reached down and grabbed Katara's hand. "Sokka, take us to the boat!"
Dumbly, the fourteen year old boy nodded and rushed forward. It was dark outside; the only source of light coming from the glow of the tent they were leaving behind. On the other side of the tent, they could hear the marauders stopping and their father's muffled voice against the wind. The sound of beasts they rode upon crushed down on the ice and snow as grunts and yelled filled the air.
Sokka resisted the urge to look over his shoulders. His father gave him a mission and he would carry it out. Katara was crushed against her mother's side. She was shaking, terrified, and crying. Whenever she tried to look back, her mother's firm arm held her in place; keeping her from looking back and possibly witnessing the brutal death that awaited their father.
Pained screams cut through the cold arctic night and Sokka bit his lower lip. Was that his father's screams he heard? He stopped himself from turning back and running back.
"We're almost there!" he choked out behind the wave of pain. The blistering cold of the artic night blew across them.
"Sokka! Take your sister!" He heard his mother's voice call behind him. Sokka turned around as Katara was thrust into his arms.
"Mom!" Sokka shouted. His eyes widened. Through the bleak landscape, he could make out their tent in the distance…engulfed in flames.
"Just go!" the woman screamed. She turned around and gripped the spear in her arms. Alarm shot through Sokka's body. Surely, she wasn't planning to do what he thought she was.
"Mom!" Katara screamed.
"Mom, come back!" Sokka yelled.
"You won't make it to the boat!" their mother exclaimed as she looked over her shoulder and looked at them with stern eyes. "You need more time to get there! Sokka, Katara, please !" Her voice was begging them to leave and escape. "I need to know that you'll be safe ."
"Mom…" Katara bit her lower lip.
Sokka lifted his head up and nodded. They couldn't die there. "Let's go, Katara." He said sternly.
"We have to go!" Sokka hand tightened around Katara and pulled her forward. The young woman stumbled behind her brother, her eyes fixated on her mother as the wind and snow began to whirl around them.
Their mother's eyes softened as she stood in her place, watching her children disappear into the distance. "I love you, both…" she whispered into the howling wind.
"There she is!" a voice boomed behind her. She turned around, a heavy weight lifted off her shoulders as she watched her children disappear into the night. She raised her spear.
"I knew there was someone else there!" another voice laughed. She could make out half a dozen male bodies approaching. "A woman!"
Her breath crystallized in front of her as she glared at the men who killed her husband and put her children's lives in danger. She lowered the spear forward. Spirits of the moon and ocean…guide my children…
Katara whirled around as a piercing scream cut through the snow swept darkness. Her heart shattered as she realized who the scream belonged to. She heard the haunting laughter. What were they doing to her mother?
"We need to go," Sokka said as he climbed into the canoe and adjusted the contents so that his sister could fit. "Come on!"
"Mom…Dad…" Katara whispered, her voice broken.
"Katara," Sokka's hand shot out and grabbed her hand. "Everything they did was for us ," he stressed, pain filling his eyes. "We need to leave." We need to live.
She closed her eyes tightly and nodded as tears streamed silently down her face. She climbed into the boat and Sokka pushed off from the glacier. As her brother paddled through the narrow cracks of liquid, Katara closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She turned around from where she stood, despite Sokka's voice telling her to sit down.
Her parents were dead. Her body swirled with a chaotic whirlwind of emotions. Anger, frustration, pain, and heartbreak. Around them, the water grew more volatile. Sokka could hear the cracks forming in the ice around them.
The last thing Sokka heard before their boat was suddenly shot forward by a wave of water was Katara's heart wrenching scream, and the sound of an entire glacier of ice caving into the water below, taking the bodies of their parents and their murders into icy depths.
Southern Earth Kingdom, Six Years Later
"Check the map again," Azula frowned as she crossed her arms and sat across her mongoose dragon impatiently. "So much for your short cut." She sneered.
"I…I know where we are," a sheepish voice insisted as he unfolded the map in front of him and looked down. Big gray eyes scanned the map. "If we cut straight through here, we should be hitting a road soon. Then it's just over a wooden bridge and uphill to the estate."
"Are you sure?" Jet asked as he rode his mongoose dragon closer to the bald headed figure's beast. "We've been in this forest for two hours."
"Well, we wouldn't have been in the forest for two hours in the first place if you three males would've just agreed to go through the normal route, as I suggested," Azula hissed. "Instead, you voted on a shortcut to get us Agni knows where!"
"I'm sure we're not that far from the road," the youngest of the group insisted. "I'm sure if we just keep going ahead, we'll find the road."
" Find it?" Azula hissed.
"That's enough," a deep voice sounded annoyed as a large komodo rhino snorted beneath him. The trio looked up and saw their designated team leader scowling at them. "Let's just keep following the directions Aang came up with. Sooner or later we'll find the road anyway."
"It would've been faster my way…" Azula grumbled.
"Azula, Jet," Zuko said as he looked their way. "Ride up ahead. I need to speak to Aang."
"Sure thing, big brother," Azula replied smoothly. She turned to glare at the other rider. "Care to race?"
"Against you? No contest." Jet smirked. Before Zuko could stop them, they tore off into the forest; their dragons leaving a trail of upswept leaves in their wake.
A low rumble escaped his throat as he gripped the reigns of his komodo rhino and began to follow after them. "Zuko?" another voice asked behind him. "You wanted to talk to me?"
"You can't let them push you around so easily," Zuko frowned as Aang's mongoose dragon lumbered beside his. "If you're going to be part of this team, you can't let them push you around so easily."
"But they're not pushing me-" Aang began, only to have Zuko shake his head at him.
"Azula is my sister…we've been related for a hundred some years, I know her quite well," Zuko reminded him. "And Jet and I have trained along side of each other since that idiot stumbled into one of my clan's parties. They're both manipulative and aggressive. They'll eat you alive if you don't grow a backbone soon."
Aang nodded. He only recently joined the most top ranking vampire hunting group in the world. It was because teams within their hunting guild needed four people and Zuko's team only had three. Him, his sister, and his friend. All three were highly skilled, highly trained, and were on the fast route to becoming the most formidable team the guild had ever had.
It had taken a lot of testing and checking of his abilities, but Aang had made it into the team. Mostly because Iroh, one of the high council members in their guild, felt he had much promise and put him under the tutelage of his own nephew. The only down side was while they were a team that was that as a full psychic vampire member of his particular clan, he was not allowed to kill.
Azula and Jet had complained. They were Hunters. Killing was a prerequisite to their job. It was how they got rid of havoc causing vampires that threatened to reveal the rest of them to the humans. However, Iroh insisted that they take Aang, and they couldn't argue against a high council member.
"I'll try not to let them." Aang said.
"Good," Zuko said. "I'm not going to bail you out if they come down on you hard again. Now, is the escape route planned?"
Aang nodded enthusiastically. Their mission, this time, wasn't to hunt. It was an evacuation mission. There was a civil war going on in the Earth Kingdom and the vampires that lived in the secluded areas of the country were trapped between warring sides.
As a result, the hunting guild had dispatched several teams of Hunters to escort the vampire families out and to safer areas. Aang was explaining their evacuation plan for the family as he and Zuko emerged on to a small clearing. Azula and Jet were circling the area cautiously.
Zuko's head rose as he smelled the air. "Smell that?" Azula asked as she inhaled the chill morning air of the forest.
"Humans…" Aang whispered.
"Damn it…" Jet frowned. "Don't tell me we ran right into the middle of their damn war."
"You knew we were going to walk into it anyway," Azula said. She looked over at her brother. "What do we do, Zuko?"
"They won't let us get away," Zuko said as he slid off of his ride. "When they engage in combat, don't be hard on them. No bending. They're humans; knock them out, but no killing."
"I could use a little exercise after riding for so long." Jet grinned as he jumped off his mongoose dragon and detached the twin hooked swords from his back.
"Same here." Azula said as she jumped down. She began to stretch out and Aang looked at her curiously.
"Aren't you going to get a weapon?" he asked as he hopped off of his ride and took his staff down.
"She just wants to show off." Jet mocked. Azula was about to hit him when Zuko's shout stopped her.
"Katara!" The woman looked up from the laundry she was doing by a river, and raised an eyebrow in question as a young boy skidded down the embankment to where she was. "Katara!"
"Lee?" her eyebrows furrowed as she stood up and wiped her wet hands on her shirt.
"Katara! Katara, come quick!"
"What?" He raised his hands and grabbed on to her hands. "Hurry!"
"Hurry? Why? Lee, what's going on?" Katara asked as she pulled her hands back and stood rooted in her spot.
The boy pointed up the embankment. "We got into a scuffle!"
"What?" Katara frowned. "How did we get into a…" Her eyes widened. "Sokka!" Her hand swept down and picked up the water skin that had been beside her. The laundry she had been taking care of was forgotten as she stormed up the embankment. "Where do I go, Lee?!"
"Down that way!" the boy said as he pointed through the forest. Katara ran off in that direction, her only thoughts of her brother. Her feet sank into the damp earth beneath the dead leaves of the forest floor.
Her heart was racing. Every time their mercenary group collided with another in that war, she feared for her brother's life. When she and Sokka joined their mercenary group, they had been orphans; their former glorious city devastated by marauders from the same group that had killed their parents.
Sokka made a vow that he would never let the same thing happen to other children. No one should have had to watch their family be ripped out from under them. So when the civil war broke out in the Earth Kingdom, he set off to do his part. In the chaos of war, Sokka had helped defend villages from rampaging private armies.
Katara had made sure she was at his side, using everything she knew about water bending to help him and the group they had been taken into. Her healing abilities became priceless during her time with the group which, on the daily, put their lives at stake. Sokka had tried to keep her out of the front lines at all times, but she was stubborn and insisted to do her part.
She couldn't stand seeing children crying when their parents were killed either. The pain was too real, and brought up memories and emotions that were all too fresh.
As she ran, she could hear them. The sounds of yelling, grunting, and metal against metal. They were familiar sounds. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Sokka. Where was he? Was he all right? Her hand reached back and uncorked her water skin. Through the trees ahead, she could see a skirmish. Katara easily recognized the men on her side. They seemed to be fighting another mercenary group.
However, in the middle of the fray was an unfamiliar sight. There were well dressed figures fighting with such skilled vigor; the likes of she had never seen before. Two men, both baring two swords, a younger man; bald and fending off attackers with a staff, and a woman were mixed into the group.
Their movements were quick, precise, and perfectly executed. They had such strength and skill that Katara silently hoped that they were not who her brother was fighting. As she reached the group, she could already see the fallen men on the forest floor. Her brother was locked in battle of strength with another mercenary. And he was losing.
Narrowing her eyes, Katara let her water whip fly through the air. The water wrapped around the opponent's wrist and she pulled him back. Sokka took that chance to knock the man out, and looked up at his sister, a frown on his face. "I told you to stay at the camp!"
"I would stay there if you didn't go off trying to get yourself killed!" Katara snapped.
Behind her, a dark haired head perked up. Was that a woman's voice he just heard? He sniffed the air. Yes, it was a distinct female scent. His eyebrows furrowed. Normally, women were not on the battlefield.
"Zuko, head's up!" Jet's voice shouted ahead of him. The male vampire casually bent down and avoided his attacker before slamming the hilt of his sword on to the base of the attacker's neck. The man fell to the ground with a grunt.
Zuko turned around and narrowed his eyes. She was dressed in male clothes, was caked with dirt and grime, but he could tell she was a woman. A stream of water sliced across the cold air. A waterbender. A man's yell echoed. Zuko's eyes snapped to the side and narrowed.
Her arms were still raised; bending water across a man's face. She wouldn't have time to react to the man bringing a sword down behind her.
Katara was about to recoil her water whip when a body grabbed her and whirled her around. A sharp gasp escaped her lips as she was maneuvered to the side. In the spot where she had been standing, one of the well dressed men easily knocked down an attacker. Was that why he had moved her aside? Before she could thank him, she was shoved down on to the ground by a fleeing man.
"They're retreating!" Aang shouted. Zuko turned around and watched as the humans began to scatter.
"Well, that was simple…" Azula mused. She smirked as she clapped her hands together; brushing off the dirt that had gotten on her hands.
"You three, get our rides." Zuko ordered as he slid his swords back into the sheath.
"What about the bodies?" Aang asked as he looked down, sadly, at the humans that had fallen around them.
"They're not our problem," Zuko stated coldly. "Now go get the rides!" Aang shot up straight and nodded as he ran off after Azula and Jet. Zuko looked back across the meadow. Just minutes earlier, it had been clean and pristine. Now, the scent of blood and sweat lingered in the air as bodies littered the leaf covered ground.
His eyebrows furrowed. His head perked up and his eyes narrowed. Zuko gritted his teeth as he realized he wasn't the only one looking around the meadow. There were archers. His hands reached back to grip the handles of his swords when a movement at his feet caught his attention. His eyes lowered as mud encased brown hands grabbed onto his pants.
It was the woman. The water bender. She was trying to get up. Zuko reached down and grabbed her arm to help her up. Years growing up in the elite world of vampire nobility had engraved gentlemanly manners into his thick head, despite how he usually acted. As her hands gripped his shirt, her head rose. Beneath the dirt streaked skin were the deepest blue eyes he'd ever seen.
A familiar sound of arrows cutting through the air whistled in the distance. Suddenly, her hands clenched his shirt. Her body stiffened against him as her eyes shot wide open. Soft pink lips parted and let out a sharp gasp.
"Katara!" A voice was calling somewhere in the distance as he watched her body slip between his arms.
"Damn it!" Azula's voice yelled furiously behind Zuko as she shot out a bolt of blue lightning at the archer. The man yelled and fell from the tree top as Jet and Aang rushed to Zuko.
"What's going on?" Jet gasped as he slid to a stop beside Zuko.
Carefully, the golden eyed vampire cradled the human woman in his arms as he knelt down. His arms were careful of the arrow protruding from her back. Aang knelt down beside him. "The arrow's deep…" he whispered as he studied the weapon.
Azula looked over her brother. Her eyes narrowed and she shook her head. "She won't make it."
"We should go," Jet said as he turned his head away reluctantly. She was a pretty little thing, too. "Zuko…"
"Get my rhino."
The other three paused around him. They exchanged looks. Azula looked back at her brother and frowned. "Zuko, we have to go. You said the humans weren't our problem."
Zuko gritted his teeth. His head snapped up as a stream of steam blew from his nose. "I said get my rhino!" he growled as he glared up at his companions. "Now!"
Aang jumped back and Jet nodded. "You heard him," he said as he headed for the massive creature looming by the mongoose dragons. "Get his rhino." Aang nodded and followed Jet.
Azula sighed heavily. "Ride my mongoose dragon. It's faster than your rhino, and will get her to the estate faster. Take Aang. Jet and I will follow behind you." She said as she headed towards her ride to bring it to Zuko.
Her brother nodded as his head lowered. In his arms, small streams of air escaped the fallen woman's lips as she tried to breath. Her eyes were slowly closing as her chest rose and fell in labored breaths. "What's your name?" Zuko asked in a raspy voice. She didn't answer and he frowned. He shook her as gently as he could. "Tell me what your name is!" he demanded. Her eyes closed. In the crisp morning air, he could barely hear her reply.