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Leaving It All Behind

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Leaving It All Behind

Chapter 1: The Moon is Gone

The battle between the Northern Water Tribe and Admiral Zhao’s Naval fleet was a long and gruesome fight, there were many losses on both sides. The Fire Nation was ultimately defeated thanks to the Avatar merging with the Ocean Spirit, resulting in catastrophic damage to the Fire Nation’s Navy fleet.

Unfortunately, many of the ships breached the great ice wall before that happened, allowing their armed soldiers to storm into the frozen city. Sokka was assigned to a secret infiltration mission with the most annoying person in the entire Northern Water Tribe, Hahn. Lucky for Sokka, he and Hahn had a rather heated disagreement, which resulted in his immediate removal from the stupid secret mission he never wanted to be a part of in the first place.

Instead, he was assigned to the outer wall on the western side, he was stationed at the base of the great ice wall with the rest of the non-bending warriors. Sokka never thought of himself as a non-bender, but his time spent in the Northern Water Tribe was a constant reminder of his inability to water bend. Their society was focused on the division of not only men and women but also those who were given the blessing of bending and those who were not.

Even with all the warrior training that Sokka had, and his exceptional boomerang skills (which he insisted was a better skill to have then stupid water bending) he was cast aside. While his sister was given the sacred assignment of keeping Princess Yue safe, along with the Avatar.

As the Fire Nation laid siege to the Northern Water Tribe, his sister and Aang were safely tucked away in the Spirit Oasis while Sokka stood outside on the ice staring up at the massive white wall.

He could faintly make out the water benders that were posted on top of the wall, they were the first line of defense. Their only occupation was to prevent the enemy from breaching the wall and keeping the Fire Nation cruisers out to sea. If they failed, Sokka and his non-bending tribesmen would be there to strike down the invading enemy.

Sokka would never admit to the other warriors that he was cold. Honestly, he wasn’t sure if he was shivering or if his limbs were trembling in fear. As strong as he pretended to be for Katara when dad left, he carried heavy baggage full of doubt and fear. After his mother died, responsibility was shoved onto him like a full grown polar dog laying across his shoulders. He had to be a man, and he was responsible for protecting his little sister.

Even now, he felt like he should be in the Spirit Oasis with her and Aang, helping fulfill his promise to his dad by keeping Katara safe.

He wondered if his dad would even care if the great Northern Water Tribe was invaded, after they abandoned the South when the Fire Nation began raiding their villages. After that, the relationship between the two tribes became very strained. The North has always, and will always, focus their energies on staying out of the war. Even if it resulted in the almost complete annihilation of their ‘sister tribe’. Stripped of their benders, and with the only men left in the village sailing off to war, the South has been crumbling into nothing for years.

The North did nothing to help.

If Katara were hurt, would he be able to face his dad and tell him, “I was defending the wall, dad.” Would he give Sokka that look , the one that showcased the disappointment that his words would never speak. His dad loved him, this much he knew, but his dad has been disappointed in him before. Shaking his head, Sokka knew he couldn’t afford to allow himself to be distracted with those types of thoughts right now, that type of distraction could cost him his life.

Shifting his feet uncomfortably, his lungs were burning with every freezing breath he took, the soot coated icy flurries were burning him from the inside. That’s just like the stupid Fire Nation, they even tainted innocent ice flurries in the wake of their destruction.

Different parts of the city had been infiltrated already by the Fire Nation soldiers, but Sokka’s particular section was still intact. It was relatively quiet where he was stationed, but the sound of a war being fought was off in the distance. The men screamed out their battle cries as the hissing sound of fire and ice filled his ears. It was a distinct sound when a flaming projectile hit the great ice wall, it hissed like a tiger seal back home. The steam it created would cast a light mist around the impact sight, it was the same when a fire bender threw their fire at the Water Tribe men, the hiss indicated the attack missed.

When the attack didn’t miss, well… there was a different type of screaming.

The burning of his lungs, accompanied with the pounding of his heart in his ears, was enough to distract him from the lingering dread of the invasion, and possible upcoming battle. Looking at the two other warriors stationed in the same section, he could see the same lingering fear in their crystal blue eyes.

Both men were older than Sokka, actual warriors as he was informed, making him believe that maybe this entire situation was only to humor Sokka. Was it only because of his friendship with Aang that he was even assigned to a position in the city's defense? If that were the case, he would be glad to abandon his post and join his sister and beautiful, perfect, amazing Princess Yue in the warm oasis.

Before those negative thoughts could fester into something more, a loud cracking noise could be heard just overhead, accompanied by screaming. To his horror men began falling from the top of the wall, it almost looked as if some of them jumped. Sokka’s deep blue eyes shifted to the now cracked ice wall, only to see the ominous bow of a massive metal ship crashing through the thick ice, followed by a second ship.

The water benders that landed on the ground only survived because of their magic water, bending themselves ice ramps that allowed their tumbling bodies to slide next to Sokka. The water benders immediately began shooting streams of water towards the spots where the Fire Nation ships were penetrating. Icing the water, they were using all their energies to keep the bow from breaking all the way through.

If the ship fully penetrated through, it would open up, and dozens of angry fire benders would be unleashed into the city. Right where Sokka and the other men were standing, a hand to hand battle seemed unavoidable at this point. Even with all the efforts from the Water Tribe benders, the ships were not slowing down.

One of the men, who Sokka recognized from Katara’s lessons (the only one or two times that Sokka actually wandered over to watch), grabbed his shoulders.

He was older, probably the eldest of the group, his gray and brown hair was tied back in a wolf's tail and he braided the sides back. His face was leathered from years of intense training and sun exposure, his eyebrows were thick and gray, with wild hairs shot up in all directions. The man’s dark blue eyes stayed steady as he stared at Sokka, “get ready, we have a fight on our hands.”

All Sokka could do was nod, his voice was trapped in his burning throat. He tried to swallow, but all that did was remind him that his mouth was bone dry just like his throat. Reaching behind him he took his boomerang in his shaking hands, his entire body trembling like a scared polar dog puppy. In this moment Sokka wished he was stronger, more vicious, ready to kill at a moment's notice.

But that was never who Sokka was, it took him years to get comfortable killing, even though it was a fundamental and necessary part of living in the Southern Water Tribe. He remembered his first kill, it was a mouse-hare that he caught in one of the snares he placed outside of the village. Bato taught him all about how to build snares and the best spots to place them.

Sokka loved inventions, no matter how primitive, and a snare was a clever way to hunt for food without actually stalking and killing your prey. Bato assured the young Sokka that most animals that got themselves caught in a snare were dead before they were ever found by the hunter. Sokka was so excited, he remembered the morning he was going to check his first placement of snares, the dawn was just starting to pour its soft orange light onto his icy world.

The ice reflected the colors, casting a warm hue over the usually cool toned world Sokka grew up in and loved. He took his whale bone knife, pulling on his parka he slipped out of the igloo before anyone cracked an eye open. It had snowed the night before, making the journey out of the village a bit more difficult for a child. He was small, as were most kids his age, he hiked up his legs as far as he could lift them and took wide strides through the fresh snow.

The sun continued to rise as he pulled himself through the snow, the soft warm light faded into a bright morning. After what felt like forever, Sokka finally reached his first snare, to his utter disappointment it was empty. His hope shattered like the fragile and fleeting feelings children carried around with them, quickly replaced by excitement for the next trap.

Empty.

Empty.

Empty.

The last trap was further from town, Bato told him that it was unlikely that a snare this far out and so visible would catch anything. But Sokka insisted on placing his snare in that particular spot, he told the older man that he had a good feeling.

He was right, caught in the snare by its slender ankle was a mouse-hare. He remembered seeing it lying there in the snow, a few flurries resting on it’s soft white fur, with just the smallest flecks of brown in its fur as the seasons were changing. He approached slowly, wanting to remember every feature about the small creature, it was his first catch as a hunter.

As Sokka approached, to his surprise the animal moved, pulling away from the boy’s small hand. Sokka’s heart leaped into his throat, the surprise from the sudden movement sent the boy stumbling back, losing his balance and falling back into the snow. His butt hit the ground as his hands held tight to the whale bone knife he was still carrying.

The mouse-hare’s wide black eyes stared at him as its tiny pink nose wiggled with every panicked breath it took. The whiskers twitched as Sokka began to pull himself back to his feet, both hands planted firmly on the knife as he approached his prey once again. There was another sudden movement as the trapped animal tried to make a break for it, hoping to disappear back into the tundra. But it wasn't so lucky, and Sokka could see the snare digging deeper into the sling of its fragile ankle, drawing out bright red blood.

Sokka was accustomed to blood, blood was a part of hunting, it spilled as the tribe gathered together to prepare and clean each kill. Blood always looked so red against the soft white snow, but this was a different type of blood, this was fresh. This blood was still flowing through the very much alive mouse-hare, this blood was on Sokka’s small hands, and he would draw more before the kill was finished. He knew the longer he hesitated the more pain the small mouse-hare would endure, which was not what Sokka wanted from his first kill.

The first rule of hunting was never prolong your killing's suffering or you risk upsetting the spirits.

Moving towards the mouse-hare again he grabbed the frightened animal by its long ears, pulling the head back to reveal its throat. Bringing his knife to the soft flesh, Sokka closed his eyes as he cut across the vulnerable throat. The blood was dark red, unlike the bright blood he saw splattered in the snow after the tribe finished preparing a kill. This was a thick, deep red fluid that poured onto the snow, soaking into the ice by Sokka’s feet.

The animal twitched a few times before going limp, it was done. His first kill, part of him regretted it immediately, and the other part brought a small smile to his face.

It was so odd to have such extremely opposite emotions about the same situation.

Releasing the snare he grabbed the back legs and carried the now dead mouse-hare back to his igloo, imagining his dad’s excitement when he showed him what he did. Even though the back of his mind still wished that the last trap had been empty too…

Someone yelled his name, and Sokka’s mind switched back to the present day, the day that the Fire Nation was invading his sister tribe. Looking around, Sokka saw the Water Tribe men had moved back, further away from the wall, he felt someone strong grab the back of his parka and yank him backwards.

Unlike when he was a child, he stayed on his feet, stumbling backwards until he stood aligned with the other Water Tribe men. There were now 8 of them, standing in the snow, weapons ready as the two ships crashed through the wall. The benders worked together to protect themselves and their comrades from the massive chunks of ice that rained down around them.

The metal ships sliced through their icy defenses like it was parchment, and to Sokka’s horror the ship opened up; like the massive jaws of an indestructible beast, spilling out angry Fire Nation soldiers. Sokka knew this wasn’t going to be like his first animal kill, these men were not going to stare at him defenseless while he slit their throat.

These men weren’t going to look up at him with black eyes and wiggling noses, these men were going to fight back to the very end.

Sokka lifted his boomerang and picked his target, pulling his arm back and releasing it into the mid morning air. The sun was finally high enough in the sky that they were no longer trapped under the shadow of the ice wall, he could see the red and black armor of the enemy clearly.

They wore helmets and face plates so thankfully he wouldn’t have to look into the eyes of any of the men, he was struggling enough with the thought of killing a person, he didn’t want to see their eyes.

His mom taught him and Katara that a person’s eyes were the windows to the soul. She told them that you can see a man’s past and what type of person they are, just by looking into their eyes. Sokka always remembered that lesson, and he was proven how true it was over and over again. First lesson was when he looked at his sister, her bright blue eyes were soft but she had a hardness in them that only appeared there after their mother was killed.

His father had stern, compassionate eyes, his eyes were always hard like ice, but would melt whenever he looked at him and his sister. Aang was another example, his gray eyes were young and wild, full of happiness and wonder. But his eyes held something strong and wise behind them, they showed that when needed, he could let go of the child and be the Avatar the world needed.

Seeing that balance in Aang’s eyes was the deciding factor for Sokka, when he saw the young air bender being dragged away by the Fire Nation, back home in the South Pole. Sokka knew he had to rescue Aang, which is why he prepared the canoe before Katara had even decided what she wanted to do. A person’s eyes said a lot about them, his mother was right.

He missed his mom.

Fire met water as the two worlds collided on the ice, screams on both sides. Sokka saw his boomerang make contact with his target and the man toppled forwards, out cold.

Another fire bender approached Sokka on his left, throwing wild thrusts of fire in his direction. Sokka raised his club and swung towards the attacks, as the fire approached him the swift movements were enough to break up the blast’s flames before they could come in contact with his skin.

He liked to avoid being burnt.

The Fire Nation soldier kept moving towards Sokka, his menacing armor was intimidating. The soldier advanced quickly, his foot placement surprisingly steady on the ice as he approached, arms forward; he prepared for another attack.

Sokka felt the heat before he saw the flames, his right arm was covered in fire, as his parka began to crumble under the spreading fire. Another Fire Nation soldier was approaching him on his right while he was distracted with the attacks coming from his left. Swinging his boomerang to the right, Sokka dropped to the ground trying to roll out the fire on his arm. Lucky enough, the small fire was unable to eat through his outer layers, leaving his skin underneath smooth and unburnt.

Before he could raise back to his feet the bender on his left was over him, in the few seconds it took for the man to raise his hand to attack there was a warm liquid splattering on Sokka’s face.

Blinking, he saw the two large ice spikes protruding out of his enemies chest, fresh warm blood spilled from his open wounds as the ice melted to water and was pulled back to be used for another attack. Sokka was frozen in the moment, watching the armored figure drop to his knees and then fall forward. His helmet grazed Sokka’s leg before the body fully hit the ice. If it wasn’t for the more experienced Water Tribe water bender coming to his aid, he knew he would be dead right now.

Unable to take his eyes off the dead man, he completely forgot about the Fire Nation soldier to his right who was also trying to light him on fire.

Sokka was still lying on the floor, almost killed by the now dead man at his feet and letting his guard down to an attack from his right.

Blinking, he knew he had to get up.

Get up.

Get up.

“GET UP!”

Sokka felt strong arms pulling him to his feet, shoving something with a familiar shape into his hands.

“This saved your life, don’t lose it! Stay focused!” A man’s voice was yelling at him. Sokka kept blinking, trying his hardest to bring moisture back to his dry eyes. Slowly he was able to feel the focus return to his sight as he looked down at the boomerang in his hands.

He remembered throwing it at the soldier on his right just before the man on his left made it to him. Now he is dead.

The boomerang disabled the man on his right, saving his life.

Looking around he saw the battle continuing to unfold, blue and red, ice and blood, death and life. It was a nightmare, but he was living it. There would be no waking up in a panic, this was his reality and he was still alive, but if he didn’t get his shit together he was going to die.

Seeing one of the water benders, whose name he didn’t know, being overwhelmed by three Fire Nation soldiers, he thrust his boomerang once again. Running forward, he watched his attack hit one of the attackers over his head, falling to the ground Sokka’s boomerang hit the snow a few feet away.

Running faster now, Sokka grabbed his weapon out of the snow as he watched the man he knocked down stumble to his feet again. His helmet knocked sideways, Sokka watched as the man grabbed both sides and pulled it off his head. The soldier’s long dark hair was disheveled, and the pale skin of his face was bruising from where the boomerang struck.

Turning to face him, Sokka saw his amber eyes.

They weren’t angry.

They were scared.

He was young, but older than Sokka was, he shifted to a familiar fire bending stance but didn’t strike.

Even with the battle unfolding around them it felt as if time stopped, everyone faded away and left only Sokka and this unknown Fire Nation soldier. Sokka held tight to his boomerang, the sharp side facing out. He planned on making it quick, but now the man was facing him without his helmet and was not going to lie down and accept death.

There was determination in the young soldier's face, and Sokka knew… It was kill or be killed.

There was an unsaid, mutual understanding that this was war and one of them was going to walk away and one of them was going to die. Sokka couldn’t help but think if there wasn’t a war and they met under different circumstances, could they have been friends? Did he like to hunt? Did this man have a dad who he respected and loved? Did he have a pretty girl at home that was waiting for him to come back? Did he also have an annoying little sister?

Was he really willing to die for the Fire Lord and this pointless war?

Twisting his hand tighter around his weapon the soldier made the first move.

They always did.

The man sent a wave of fire in Sokka’s direction before taking a few steps forward. Sokka moved just out of the range of attack, throwing himself to the icy ground before rolling back to his feet. Turning to the side he threw his boomerang once again, just in time to dodge two fire blasts.

Sokka watched as the enemy moved closer as the boomerang struck, stopping him dead in his tracks. His amber eyes shot wide open as the sharp side of the Water Tribe boy’s weapon collided with his skull.

The soldier stumbled to his knees until his upper body slumped onto the slick ice floor, his eyes closed, blood seeping from the wound on the back of his head. Sokka didn't hesitate, moving quickly he found himself standing over the Fire Nation man. Grabbing his boomerang and wiping the blood off its blade, Sokka was relieved that this fight didn’t last any longer, that is, until the man stirred.

Slowly his arms begin to move, in an attempt to push himself up and off of the freezing ice. Sokka saw his moment, just like when he was a child on the ice and that adorable little mouse-hare stared up at him from the snare.

But this wasn’t a helpless mouse-hare, he wasn’t adorable, and when he got up he was going to start trying to melt the flesh off of Sokka’s bones. Moving as if in a daze he grabbed the man’s hair and pulled his head back, revealing his throat. With a shaking hand he brought his boomerang forward to finish the job.

But he couldn’t do it.

He was weak… He couldn’t take this man’s life.

Sokka slowly released his grip when he felt heat and smelled the pungent smell of burning fabric, just before smelling the sickening scent of burnt flesh.

It was a few seconds before he felt the pain, the horrible, burning pain on his arm. The fire bender whose life he had just spared turned around and burnt him. Falling back Sokka gripped his arm where the man had grabbed him and began burning, the fabric that once covered his arm was charred. The cold wind biting at the fresh burn on Sokka’s bicep, the burn wrapped around the top of his arm, red and blistering.

Sokka screamed out in pain as he dropped his boomerang, the fire bender was on his feet again. The man’s stance changed as he went to finish the job, he wasn’t even going to hesitate to kill Sokka, he felt like an idiot.

Sokka flinched when the man made a sharp gasping sound as a spear head broke through the bottom of his sternum. Blood splattered onto the ice once again, this time landing at Sokka’s feet. Scooting backwards Sokka’s was scared, his pounding heart was threatening to break through his chest and spill his own blood on the ice. The noise of the battle was fading away as he stared into the eyes of the man whose life he spared, just so he could turn around and burn him.

His once scared amber eyes were clouding over as that spark of life left his body. He fell once again, this time he would not be getting back up.

One of the Water Tribe men, Ghlan, pulled his spear out of the back of the new dead Fire Nation soldier. He was older than Sokka but only by a few years. He was a non-bender like Sokka, but his weapon of choice was a whale bone spear tip. He was a master at his weapon, an excellent marksman when he practiced long range spear throwing. He had dark brown hair, and wore it in a half up wolf tail style with two white beads in a braid by his right ear. His eye color was a soft blue, gray and he had an exceptionally white smile.

Ghlan reached out and offered Sokka his hand, at this point in the day the sun was moving lower in the western sky and most of the soldiers that emerged from the ship had retreated back or were laying on the floor surrounded by red. Sokka could feel his body trembling as the adrenaline pumped through his veins, he was struggling to catch his breath.

“It’s alright Sokka, just breathe, in and out. Focus on my voice, in… and out.”

Sokka watched Ghlan take a deep breath in through his nose and an equally long exhale through his mouth. He made it look so easy, like breathing was so second nature. Sokka couldn’t even imagine anything being that easy, everything in his body was tense and life seemed so complicated and difficult.

How was he supposed to breath like that!?

“Sokka, you need to get control of yourself, more soldiers could be here any moment. We managed to hold off the first wave, but more will be coming, do you understand?”

Sokka felt his head nod, but he didn’t remember giving his body the command.

How dare his brain tell his head to nod without his permission!? It was utter body mutiny, what was next? Waving without permission? Talking without permission? EATING WITHOUT PERMISSION!?

Talking to himself seemed to help, his mind relaxed and he finally got control of his breathing. Slowly, the wild feeling of fight or flight left him and he was able to stand up correctly and think straight.

“Thanks Ghlan, you saved my life.”

The Water Tribe man smiled at him, “well you owe me one, if you see one of those ash makers about to roast me, I expect you to save me.”

“Deal.”

Ghlan looked down at Sokka’s arm and saw the large red mark of bubbling flesh, he had been burnt. Untreated burns were the leading cause of death when encountering a fire bender. Sokka’s burn was enough to worry Ghlan.

“Sokka, you need to go see a healer about that burn. If you leave it untreated it will become infected and you could possibly lose that arm. Do you know where our healing station is?”

Sokka remembered the map that displayed where everyone was assigned, each person was instructed to memorize their position and places of interest. It had details about where each section's healing stations would be located, where the fallback line was, emergency evacuation routes, and names and position of each man stationed on the wall.

Sokka thanked Tui and La that he was his father’s son and reading maps was in his blood. He could read a map before he could walk, so memorizing their Chief’s battle plans was easy for him.

“I remember, should I go now?”

“Yes, hurry, nightfall is coming quickly and the moon is full. We will have the advantage once the ash maker’s beloved sun sets and our moon is revealed. We will need you back in position before that.”

Sokka gave a firm nod as he clutched his now throbbing arm and headed in the direction of the healing station.

- - - - - - - - -

The healing building was… Horrific. Men filled the scattered beds moaning and sobbing as they clutched their burned and lacerated limbs. The smell of burnt flesh was nauseating, the healers had to wear lavender and mint soaked face masks to keep the smell from disrupting their healing. The soft blue glow illuminated from bed to bed as women moved around quickly, but not hastily.

Sokka stood off to the side with other warriors that were waiting for their turn to see the healer. There was a priority system when entering the healing station, the most life-threatening wounds were first and dealt with on the right side of the building followed by the less life-threatening on the left side of the building.

There were 6 beds on each side and a long table in the center filled with bandages, water, herbs, and different varieties of tea.

The Northern Water Tribe was known for training their women water benders to be healers, putting them through rigorous training for years. Katara disagreed with the idea of women not being allowed to use their bending for combat, she was personally offended by the idea.

But Sokka could see in this scenario, how beneficial it was to have the women in their element healing the wounded men who were fighting the enemy. Each bender knew their responsibilities and what was expected of them, once the wounded warrior was healed they were expected to head back out into the ice to continue fighting.

It was an effective system for a city that has not seen a battle in the entire 100 years the world has been at war. That thought alone made Sokka’s stomach turn, how much help they could have provided the South if they had thought to lend out even a handful of their healers and benders.

He pushed those thoughts out of his mind too.

Nightfall descended onto the city before Sokka was seen by a healer, the girl had him sit on a fur pelt as she cut the sleeve off his already ruined parka. Her eyes never met him as she diligently worked on repairing the damage to his arm. She pulled water out of the basin and as it began to glow she placed it gently on his bicep. The cool water was soothing to his hot burn, he watched in amazement as the boiled skin was smoothed out and replaced with his tan, unblemished skin. The throbbing pain that was radiating from his arm up into his brain faded and then disappeared.

“Alright, you should be good to head back out, there are replacement clothing items hanging in the next room over. You may get whatever you need to replace what was burnt. Please be safe and may Tui and La protect you.”

Sokka nodded down at the young woman as she ushered over another injured man to replace Sokka. Slowly he stood and left the awful smelling infirmary. As he passed the severely injured side of the infirmary, his stomach began churning as he saw horrific sized burns that covered the warrior’s bodies. His feet found a faster pace as he practically ran out of the room.

Rummaging through the hanging clothing, he tried not to think about where these items were gathered from.

Probably dead people, these were probably dead peoples’ old clothing.

Stop it, Sokka. Just get a new coat and get back out there.

His rummaging began to slow down, as he tried on different parkas finding extreme and unbearable flaws in each one.

The armpits were too tight, he wouldn’t have enough room to throw his boomerang.

The next one was too short. What if he caught a cold because he wasn’t properly protected?

Arms too long.

Fur collar too itchy.

This one smells… Weird.

This shade of blue didn’t bring out enough of the blue in his eyes.

“You have been trying on coats here for a while now.”

Sokka turned to see the healer who helped him just moments ago, or what he felt was just moments ago. Maybe it had been a little longer than he wanted to admit.

“I wouldn’t be here so long if I could find a damn parka that would fit right!”

She smiled at him, her soft blue eyes catching him in his moment of weakness, she saw through him and into the fear that was consuming him from the inside out. Trembling, Sokka held tight to the parka he gripped in his hands, the one that he said he couldn’t wear because of the loose thread.

He just…. Needed more time to find another one.

The healer’s hand reached out and touched the parka he held in his hands, her delicate finger gripping the fabric and tugging it slowly. Sokka let his grip fall, and she took the jacket in her hands, holding it open and offering it to him to put back on.

Sokka turned and put one of his arms into the sleeve, followed by the other, the parka slid on and he turned to look at the healer once more. She was still smiling at him, touching his arm in a comforting way and giving his bicep a soft squeeze.

“I know it’s scary, being out there, fighting the enemy. But we are all thankful to you and the sacrifice you and the other warriors are making to keep our city safe. It's ok to be afraid, it is perfectly normal after an injury to be hesitant to return to the battlefield. Just know we all believe in you, and you will come out of this alive.”

Sokka looked at her, blinking and fighting the warmth that tickled the back of his eyes. Warriors don’t cry before a battle, they stay strong and fight through the fear. He smiled at her and nodded, “thank you.” Was all his throat would let him say before the lump threatened to wobble his words into sobs.

Strapping his boomerang strap around his new parka he gave the healer a respectful bow before running out the door and back out onto the ice. It was dark at this point, the light from the full moon cast a silver glow which reflected off the ice. Sokka began moving back towards his station when everything stopped.

The sky began to bleed, a heavy red glow consumed the moon, dropping his world into chaos. Water bending ceased to exist, attacks faltered and the water tribe warriors began to run. Fire Nation soldiers went back on the offensive and the sounds of painful screaming filled the night air.

Sokka began to panic, was he dead? Did someone kill him when he left the infirmary?

Of course he would finally pick a stupid parka just to die in it.

His running slowed as he watched a group of fire benders move in on a group of defenseless Water Tribe benders, without their bending they were vulnerable. The soldiers advanced onto the Water Tribe men, backed by a crazy metal tank that Sokka was slightly impressed by.

He would never admit it out loud though.

One of the benders tried to break away and Sokka watched in horror as the tank spit out a heavy stream of fire crippling the escape attempt and burning the man into ash. His screams were drowned out by the cries of his fellow tribe members. Forced to their knees the Fire Nation seemed to be collecting select prisoners.

Three men were selected out of the group of seven, no longer eight, and their arms were dragged behind their back as heavy metal cuffs were placed across their wrists. The soldier with the fancy helmet seemed to be the leader as he pointed in the direction of the outer wall and the three, now prisoners, were dragged away. The remaining men on their knees waited for their fate.

Sokka didn’t know how long he was watching the horror unfold before the moon vanished. Darkness covered the world, complete and utter blackness.

He couldn’t see anything around him, reaching out his trembling arms in front of him, Sokka tried to feel around for anything he could hold onto. Stumbling forward he fell onto the ice, just in time to see the flames break through the darkness.

Red and orange patches of light began popping up all around him, revealing the terrifying realization that there were hundreds of Fire Nation soldiers all around. All throughout the city fire benders were lighting up the darkness with their evil flames.

Sokka pulled himself to his knees, watching the men in front of him look confused, they were speaking to each other, trying to make sense out of the senseless situation they were in.

Did someone steal the moon?

Has La abandoned the city?

Forsaken its people the way the North did to the South?

Sokka was lost in his thoughts only to be ripped back into the reality of the world he was living in, the world at war.

The world on fire.

The fire benders moved into tight formation in front of the kneeling Water Tribe men, their arms extending out, palms flat and facing outward.

Sokka froze, he knew that certain fire bending position. He has seen enough fire bending destruction and fought against a certain angry pony tail jerk to know what that gesture meant for the men kneeling on the ice.

Closing his eyes, his fear was confirmed by the smell of burning flesh and the bone chilling screams of death. It only took a couple seconds for the screams to fade into whimpers and finally silence.

Rise, run, rise, run, move, run, his mind was stuck in a loop. A loop of thought’s begging him to get up, to rise off his knees and run, he needed to run to the spirit oasis and find his sister and Aang. He couldn’t allow anything to happen to Katara and he surely wasn’t going to die out here on his knees. This was a nightmare he needed to wake up from, and the only way he could do that was to find his sister and the Avatar.

When the fire stopped, Sokka was once again plunged into darkness. Now was his chance, he needed to use this blackness as cover to run as fast and as far as he could. Even with his legs threatening to wobble out from under him, and his arms being completely useless as the fear had crippled them, he managed to rise to his feet.

Sokka began moving in the opposite direction of the sadistic violence he just witnessed, phantom pains stinging where his own burn was branded into his skin just hours ago. Stumbling forward, he was either going to manage to successfully find the well hidden spirit oasis in the blackness.

Or he was going to struggle his way into one of the many freezing canals that were elegantly placed throughout the city and drown or freeze to death. He wondered, would freezing to death hurt worse than being burned alive?

What would be a better story for his father and sister, Sokka burned alive? Or Sokka, froze to death after stumbling into a freezing canal?

Both were startling possibilities of what his future might hold for him, and he wouldn’t even get to kiss Princess Yue. He couldn’t remember the last thing he said to his sister… He wouldn’t even get to see Aang kick the Fire Lord’s ass… He would never get to say goodbye to his dad.

Just as he began to panic, the world started to glow an iridescent blue color, rippling veins through the water as a huge fish monster rose atop the city. Sokka’s mouth dropped as he stood, stunned, watching the massive glowing beast make its way through the ice city, destroying anything in its path.

Sokka rubbed his eyes, trying to push his senses back to reality and not this spirit world mumbo jumbo he obviously was dreaming up. Instead of things returning to normal he was hit by a moving mass which knocked him off his feet, again. His right shoulder hit the hard ice and he felt his body slide a few feet, he was really getting sick and tired of being thrown down onto the stupid ice.

Frowning, he looked up to see what knocked him over, only to make eye contact with the only fire bender he had met that he hated worse than Prince ponytail.

Zhao.

Sokka saw the man’s bright amber eyes flash with recognition when he looked down at Sokka, without missing a beat the massive fire bender reached down and grabbed the teenage Water Tribe boy by the collar of his stupid parka and yanked him to his feet.

“Well if it isn’t the Avatar’s Water Tribe boy, get up, you’re coming with me.”

Sokka was dragged along with Zhao, closing his eyes and wondering if burning to death or drowning were still possible options for his future. Anything would be better than whatever this psycho had in store for him.