Subject: [FFML] [fanfic][Avatar] Reasons To Fight
From: "The Eternal Lost Lurker" <lurkerdrome@sbcglobal.net>
Date: 11/14/2006, 1:45 AM
To: "FFML" <ffml@anifics.com>




The moon hung low and quarter in the sky, washing the gently shifting waves
in a pale silver glow.

The journey to the periphery of the mountainous island of the Eastern Air
Temple had taken most of the day; by evening, the exhausted travellers had
agreed to make camp for the night and let themselves and Appa rest before
proceeding onward to the temple. Aang, over Katara's protests, had elected
to take first watch; even though none of their pursuers had air mobility,
they felt it safer to keep on guard just in case.

Truthfully, Aang, though weary, simply couldn't sleep. For most of the past
several weeks, getting Appa back had taken priority over everything else in
his mind; after that, he once again focused on the pressing matter of
defeating the Fire Nation, but after the horrible way they had been treated
in Ba Sing Se, they were practically back to square one. All they had to
work with was the date the comet would arrive, and the date of the eclipse
which would leave the Fire Nation vulnerable.

And Aang still had to master Earthbending, and find another Firebender who
would be willing to teach him.

Looking up at the moon, he allowed himself to lapse into a meditative state.
As he cleared his mind of these distracting thoughts, his arrow tattoos
began to glow softly...


     Aang. It is good to see you again.

     Avatar Roku?

     Yes. Your mind is troubled. You have
     entered meditation. Through your
     meditation, you are able to speak to
     your past incarnations. You should
     be aware of this.

     Of course...I've done this before.
     It's just with so much happening
     lately, sometimes...I kinda forget.

     Understandable. Recent times have
     placed a great deal of strain on
     you for one so young, so unprepared.

     ...Avatar Roku?

     Yes, Aang?

     ...can you teach me Firebending?

     Alas, I wish it were that simple. I
     can impart upon you information and
     wisdom, but some knowledge can only
     be sought from without, not from
     within.

     ...yeah, I kinda figured that.

     However, if there is anything you
     wish to know, anything I can tell
     you, I will always be here to help
     guide you.

     Thank you, Avatar Roku. ...actually?
     There is something. I've been kinda
     wondering...I never thought too hard
     about it, but...

     Yes?

     ...why DID the Fire Nation start the
     war?

     ...aaah. This is perhaps the most
     important question you could have
     possibly asked me, Aang. This will
     take some time to explain.

     I'm not going anywhere.

     Very well. The war... First, it is
     important that you understand the
     Fire Nation. Would it surprise you
     to know that the original purpose
     of this war was not malicious or
     evil?

     It wasn't? But...

     The Fire Nation, Aang, is not the
     most ideal place to live. It is a
     small, hot, inhospitable country,
     plagued with active volcanos. You
     are used to cooler, greener places.
     The people of the Fire Nation know
     soot, steam, and the fear of every
     tremor of the earth potentially
     heralding an eruption that could
     destroy all they hold dear.

     ...whoa.

     Indeed. But as a people, the Fire
     Nation managed, somehow, to thrive
     in such a hellish environment. We
     were a proud people, Aang. We still
     are. I watch my people, Aang, from
     the spirit world, and I see much
     that has not changed from my time.
     And, alas, much that is far, far
     different than the world I knew.

     So what happened? That started the
     war.

     Quite simply, we had too many people,
     too little land, and what little land
     we did have was arid and unsuitable
     for farming. Trade with other nations
     was running our limited resources into
     the ground, and we were beginning to
     suffer as a nation.
     The old Fire Lord saw the plight of his
     people, and began listening in earnest
     to a plan his advisors had conceived.
     They wanted to invade the western Earth
     Kingdom and sieze one third of the
     continent for the Fire Nation. You see,
     the Earth Kingdom controls more of the
     useable land in the world than anyone
     else, and some didn't believe that to
     be very fair.

     But...couldn't they just ask for land?

     It would be nice if the world worked
     that way, Aang, but no. However, at
     the time, I was the Avatar, and I was
     opposed to the idea of a war. I felt
     the misery of my people, and I longed
     to find a way to help them, but I had
     an obligation, and I refused to allow
     something so brutal and uncivilised
     to happen.

     But then...you died.

     Yes, I died, Aang. Shortly after the
     old Fire Lord's son, Sozin, took the
     throne, I died. Sozin had a keen mind
     for military strategy, and he saw my
     passing as an opportunity. He began
     ordering changes in military training
     and recruiting. He began ordering the
     shipbuilders to construct warships.
     It took fifteen years to prepare his
     forces for what was to come. The war
     preparations did not go unnoticed.

     ...yeah, I kinda figured that out.

     Yes, the elders of the Air Temple were
     wise to urge an advancement in your
     Avatar training. I am not blaming you
     for what happened--you were, and still
     are, very young, far too young to have
     that kind of burden placed on you and
     be expected to carry it. Nevertheless,
     Sozin was prepared to eradicate the Air
     Nomads entirely to prevent the rebirth
     of the Avatar.

     ...but you said it took fifteen years?

     The reincarnation of the Avatar is not
     an instantaneous thing, Aang. Sometimes,
     it takes many years. Sometimes, it takes
     few years. In our case, it took three.
     Three years after I died, you were born.
     Twelve years after you were born, Sozin
     attacked.

     The comet--

     Was a lucky coincidence. Sozin's forces
     were in the right place at the right time.
     Nothing more, nothing less. It was, alas,
     enough. They would not learn until much
     later how to predict its return.

     So...I get why they attacked my people.
     What I don't get is how everything else
     got the way it is.

     Eliminating the Avatar was only the first
     step in the war strategy. This removed
     the single greatest obstacle to the Fire
     Nation's goals. In order to take the land
     they desired and keep it, they knew they
     would need to cripple the power of the
     Water Tribes as well. The Waterbenders,
     of course, are the single most dangerous
     enemies to the Fire Nation after you.

     Okay, I can see that. But...they just
     wanted a piece of the Earth Kingdom,
     right? And they've got at least that
     much. So why--

     Why did they not end the war there? It
     is seldom that simple. First of all,
     do you really think the Earth Kingdom
     would simply roll over and let the Fire
     Nation occupy land taken from them by
     force?

     ...no, I guess not.

     Exactly. Plus, there was retribution for
     the war itself, from all affected parties.
     That alone would have kept the war going
     for at least a generation. But then, the
     worst thing that could happen came to be:
     Azulon succeeded his father as the Fire
     Lord.
     The war which Sozin began was, at its
     core, still the war his father wished
     to fight. The purpose was the same. The
     execution was merciless, brutal, and
     calculating, but Sozin still had the
     interests of his people in mind.
     Not so with Azulon. Azulon was mad with
     the power of ruling the deadliest armies
     in the world. He commanded his forces to
     press further into the Earth Kingdom, to
     conquer and destroy and savage. He did
     not understand what his father had been
     fighting for, nor did he care. He simply
     wanted to take everything he could get
     his hands on.

     And his son--Fire Lord Ozai--is the same.

     That's right, Aang. Ozai has the same
     dangerous ambition and greed as Azulon.
     He has no honor, no pride in his nation.
     He grinds his own people beneath his heel
     even as he does the same to his enemies.
     And if he is not stopped before the comet
     returns at the solstice...

     I understand. I just...wish I knew what
     to do about mastering Firebending. I
     already lost the one teacher I had...
     there really aren't many Firebenders
     I could go to without ending up locked
     away in the Fire Lord's palace.

     There is one, Aang.

     There is?

     Yes. And you know who it is.

     ...you don't mean...

     He still carries the honor and pride of
     the Fire Nation. His actions in the past
     have not been out of hatred or greed or
     ambition. They have been out of pride
     and shame and a desire to regain the love
     of a father who has no love to give.

     He...HAS helped me. A lot. I always
     wondered...

     He has had his own reasons in the past.
     However, he has recently gone through
     a personal crisis of faith. A spiritual
     transcendence, if you will. I cannot
     say it is absolutely certain that this
     will come to pass, but...I believe,
     with every fiber of my being, that when
     you return from the Eastern Air Temple,
     the next time you encounter Prince Zuko,
     you will be meeting a very important new
     ally.

     ...thank you, Avatar Roku. You've given
     me a whole lot to think about.

     Thinking is the first part of achieving
     wisdom, Avatar Aang. Become wise, and
     all around you will benefit from your
     wisdom.


The next morning found the island shrouded in mist, and Aang sprawled atop a
rock, drooling onto the ground.

Toph nudged him with a toe. "Hey. Get up, drippy."

"Let him sleep a bit more, Toph," Katara admonished. "I think he deserves
all the rest he can get while he can get it, don't you?"

"I guess," the blind girl said, shrugging. "Just as long as he doesn't
sleep-bend his drool."

Katara giggled. "You're horrible, Toph."

And Aang slept on, dreaming about healing scars that ran far deeper than any
burn...


"Avatar: The Last Airbender" and all associated names and trademarks are the
property of Viacom International, Inc., and are used here without
permission, for fair-use, non-profit purposes.

================================
The Eternal Lost Lurker
www.lurkerdrome.com



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