Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Word Count: 2540
Summary: Sokka and Suki break up a pack of bandits that have been terrorizing the Earth Kingdom countryside.
Beta-Read By: kanthia
Merry Christmas To: tobu_ishi . I AM SORRY THIS IS SO LATE.
The covered wagon trundled through the forest, lead by a pair of ostrich-horses. The wheels rolled over the rough terrain, causing the whole wooden structure to shake with each and every bump and root it struck.
The man driving the wagon reached over and touched his wife's shoulder affectionately. Her face was hidden under a simple shawl, and the rest of her body was wrapped in a blanket. “We'll be there soon, dear,” he said. The figure under the shawl nodded, almost imperceptibly.
Suddenly, a piercing shout rent the still forest air; A masked figure dropped down from the treetops onto the road ahead of them. As he struck the earth, it rose up on either side of him, forming a wall that blocked their path. The man driving the wagon reined in the ostrich-horses, stopping them from coming any closer.
No fewer than a dozen men slipped out of the wilderness now, brandishing nasty-looking weapons and laughing viciously. Two men with bows covered the wagon on either side, arrows nocked and ready for loosing at any moment.
“I dare say,” the man driving the wagon said, looking around at the assembled men, “what is the meaning of this?” That elicited another round of laughter from the bandits. One of them stepped forward, pointing a polearm at him.
“What do you think is the meaning?” he asked. “We're here for whatever's on your cart. And now I'm thinking maybe we'll take some time with your wife, too.”
The man driving the wagon cleared his throat with a great harumph. “Well, you're welcome to what's in the wagon,” he said as he stroked his beard, “But I would have to counsel you against interfering with her. You may regret it.”
“If I wanted your opinion, I'd have asked for it!” the man roared, and lashed out, smacking the driver from his seat with the flat of the blade. The driver tumbled to the ground, and sprawled in a heap as the man with the polearm climbed up to where he had been seated and reached over to pull of the shawl.
“I'm warning you,” the driver said from the ground, holding up one hand in warning. “Don't look under the shawl. You won't like what you see.”
The man snorted laughter as he readed over and pulled away the shawl. “Oh, I'm sure she isn't that...ugly...”
His voice trailed off as he caught sight of the face beneath it. It was white, unnaturally pale, with red and black markings around the eyes...
“Ambush!” he shouted out to the others. “It's an ambush! Everybody run-”
He was cut off as the woman he had, moments ago, been planning on molesting shot out a fist and struck him across the jaw. He fell backwards slightly, and the woman rose out of her seat, bringing up her leg to kick him in the side of the head. He tumbled from the wagon, and cracked his head on the ground.
At the same time, the cart driver leaped to his feet, pulled a sword off of his back, and quckly ran the nearest bandit through. The others fell back, bringing their weapons to bear on the cart driver and his wife, who were suddenly threats.
This group of bandits was small, but it was still causing a massive trade disruption. Hardly any wagons or caravans had gotten through of late, choking off the small villages that depended on these roads for their survival. With the Earth King's military tied up with more pressing matters, it had seemed that the there would be no assistance coming to them, so they had let out a general call for help, from any quarter.
The warriors of Kyoshi Island answered the call.
Suki threw aside the blanket that has disguised her body armor, and stood before them. “Let's take them, girls!” she shouted as she leaped onto one of the ostrich-horse's back, then down onto the ground, snapping open her wrist shield and pulling a war fan out of her belt. Behind her, the other five Kyoshi Warriors detached the wagon's covering and broke out in different directions, charging down the bandits.
The two archers let fly. One arrow went wide altogether, and the other was cut out of the air by the swing of a katana. The archers dropped their bows and scrambled to pull out their swords as the Kyoshi Warriors were suddenly among them.
Two men closed on Suki, one on either side of her, one wielding a spear and the other with a huge sword. She danced between them, catching the sword on her shield and turning the point of the spear aside with her war fan. Twisting to the right, she bashed the spearman in the face with her shield, breaking his nose, then struck the man with the sword across the face with her fan. They both fell back as she completed the turn and ran towards the masked Earthbender, leaving them behind.
He was the real target here. He was the organizer and leader of this little band, a masked bandit who called himself the Spider for reasons that Suki had never been able to puzzle out. If any of the others got away, it wasn't a big deal, but if the Spider escaped, he'd probably get another bunch of men together and the whole thing would begin again.
The Spider stomped the ground, and the earth under Suki's feet heaved upwards, causing her to stumble. She gained her balance again quickly, but by that time he had turned about and was halfway up the wall of stone he had used to cut off the wagon's path, gripping the rock with his Earthbending. Suki snapped her fan shut and threw it, but she was too late. He was over the top of the wall moments before her fan passed through the space his head has occupied a moment before, bouncing off the top.
“Sokka!” she called out through the melee. Sokka finished disarming a man with an impressively large sword, knocked him down into the dirt, and then turned to face her. She gestured for him to come towards her. “He's gone over the wall!”
She didn't need to say anything more than that. They'd been fighting together for too long for anything more to be necessary. He broke into a run, sheathing his sword as he did. Suki laced her fingers together, and he stepped into them as he ran. She heaved, boosting him upwards.
Sokka barely reached the top of the wall, grabbing onto the edge to keep himself from falling back down. With a grunt, he pulled himself up to kneel on top of it, scanning the forest for signs of the Spider.
He was running on the ground a few dozen yards to Sokka's left. He hefted his trusty boomerang and sighted, aiming for the back of the Spider's head, but right before he threw it, the Spider threw out one arm up and to the right, and he went sailing in that direction.
Puzzled, Sokka dropped off the wall, giving chase on foot. As he got closer, he saw the Spider throw out the other arm and begin arcing in that direction, but this time he was in a better position to see what the Spider was doing. He had stone hands hidden within his sleeves, much like the Dai Li agents had, and to those he had attached long pieces of rope. The hands shot out and grabbed onto tree branches, and then pulled back to set him swinging through the air.
It was inventive; Sokka had to give it that. Unfortunately for the Spider, he knew what he was dealing with now. He aimed carefully and threw the boomerang. It whistled through the air, intersecting the rope, and severed it neatly.
With nothing holding him up anymore, the swinging motion became a freefall. The Spider hit the ground hard, rolling on his shoulder and skidding before finally getting enough of a grip into the earth to bring himself to a stop.
Without slowing, Sokka grabbed the boomerang out of the air and returned it to its case. He crossed the space between them at a quick run, then leaped into the air to deliver a flying kick to the Spider's face.
The Spider fell backwards to avoid the blow, then fell flat on to the ground as Sokka landed, turned around, and drew his sword in one swift motion. The blade whistled through the air inches from the Spider's face.
He rolled backwards as Sokka brought the sword down, then leapt to his feet to avoid another deadly slash. Now that he had his feet again, he threw his arms forward, and two columns of earth rose up under Sokka's feet, pushing him backwards. Sokka vaulted forward, and the Spider raised a pillar of stone to catch him in midair. Sokka took it on his shoulder and rolled across the top, dropping off the other side to land right in front of the Spider.
The Spider raised a shield of rock to deflect Sokka's blade, but the black steel cut right through it. Surprised, the Spider fell back and stomped the ground, dislodging three rocks. With a thrust of his fist, he sent them flying forward. Sokka's blade flew swiftly through the air, cutting two of them down effortlessly, but the third slipped inside his guard. He tried to jerk out of the way, but it clipped his right temple, knocking him to the ground.
He groaned slightly as he pushed himself back up to his feet. The Spider took advantage of his momentary incapacitation, firing off his remaining stone hand to make his escape. The rope pulled taut and he went sailing off to the left.
He fell back down as Suki dashed up and connected with a flying kick to the jaw. While Sokka had kept the Spider busy, she had made her way around the wall and caught up with them. He tumbled to the ground, rolling a few feet; the ground beneath him moved upwards, pushing him to his feet. His feet ripped trenches in the earth as they slowed him to a stop.
“Took you long enough,” Sokka said as he gained his feet. A small trickle of blood was seeping from where the rock had struck him, and he wiped it away with the back of his hand.
“Wanted to make sure you got some action here,” Suki replied.
The Spider crouched between them, his face flitting quickly between them. Although the mask made it hard to tell what he was thinking, his body language made it very clear: he was watching to see which of them made the first move.
Suki charged forward with a yell, and the Spider sent some rocks her way. She deflected one with her shield, then ducked down and spun clockwise, avoiding one and pushing another away with her war fan. She whirled again, bringing out the fan to strike him, and he ducked away, only to find himself face-to-face with Sokka.
Caught between the two of them, there was only one way out: straight up. Stomping the earth with his right foot, he raised both hands and rose up on a pillar of stone. Sokka and Suki paused at its base, looking up at it. Then they glanced at each other, and with a mischievous grin Suki started running away from it.
Sokka gave her a moment to get a head start, and then swung his sword, slicing cleanly through the column of rock. He gave it a good hard shove to ensure it went the right way, then went chasing after Suki along the pillar's length as it toppled to the ground.
The Spider looked around, confused, then realized what had happened and dug his hands and feet into the top of the pillar, holding on with his Earthbending. To his right he could see the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors rushing to meet him when he touched down. Behind her, no doubt, was the dark-skinned swordsman who had hounded him all the way out here. If he didn't get rid of them, he'd never get out of here.
When he was close enough to the ground, he kicked off of the pillar, and angled himself towards the ground. As he fell he inhaled deeply and focused, so that when he struck the ground it was like a plummeting cannonball. His Earthbending dug a crater in the ground, the resulting shockwave sending both Sokka and Suki flying.
Suki collided with Sokka, and they both hit the ground, hard. Sokka's head cracked against the ground, and the world swam in front of his eyes for a moment. He sat up, too quickly, and the world swam again. He shook his head to clear it, and then he saw the Spider pull himself out of the crater. The man looked wounded, but he was still well enough to run away, which is exactly what he did. Limping slightly, he started moving away from where Sokka was lying. With Herculean effort, Sokka pushed himself to his feet to pursue.
Sokka's boomerang spun through the air, catching the Spider in the back of the head. He went down with a strangled cry, collapsing to the ground. Sokka turned and saw Suki, her arm still outstretched in a throwing pose.
They waited for a few moments. The Spider didn't get up. The only sound was their panted breath until Sokka burst out laughing. Suki cracked up a moment later.
“I guess our boomerang throwing lessons are doing more good than I thought,” Sokka said, sheathing his sword.
“Oh, be quiet,” Suki said, still forcing down small fits of laughter. “You know that he's the first thing I've ever hit with that damn boomerang.”
“It was still a good shot,” Sokka said, shaking his head to clear it. The wooziness was starting to fade now. He blinked rapidly, and the scenery started to stabilize.
Suki put away her war fan and shield. “I'm going to go tie him up so he can't cause trouble when he wakes up,” she said. “If you want, you can go see if the girls are finished yet.”
Sokka grinned, and leaned forward to kiss her. It was a quick peck on the lips, not a deep, romantic kiss, but it said all that needed to be said, and she quickly returned it.
“I'll be back before you know it,” he said, and ran back the way they had come. Suki watched him go, and then walked over to where the Spider was lying, unconscious. She didn't want to be separated from Sokka, but it would only take one person to restrain restrain the Spider, and the girls might need one of them to help. And to be perfectly honest she thought that Sokka was better than her at fighting. Of course, he insisted that the opposite was true, so who knew, really...
Of course, Suki thought as she set about hog-tying the masked Earthbender, there's also the fact that Sokka is hopeless with knots.
Cross-posted to: avatar_fans, avatarfic