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Dec 10, 2019 5:16 PM
Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
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Oma doesn't want to fight. She doesn't have the strength, or the stamina, or the courage. 

Oma wants to heal. So she learns. And every minute she spends learning to heal is time she can't spend training to fight, but they don't need her. They have better prospects.

She practices, and she practices, and when the ships arrive, she has the same sinking feeling in her chest that comes from losing a patient.

She hopes that they don't force her mother to watch her die. 

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The ships are announced by the smoke. They've heard of the smoke - it's been a herald to the Fire Nation for forty years, now, ever since they invented those thrice damned boats - but it's the first time the Southern Water Tribes get to see it firsthand. It approaches from the horizon, dark clouds made only more menacing by the vague silhouettes within.

And then a ball of fire shoots up into the sky from the middle of the cloud, and other balls do the same from other boats, and they pick up speed to approach the shores.

The Water Tribes have tall, strong walls, and capable waterbenders. The ones trained in combat go to the front lines, on top of the walls, ready to face whatever they need to face to protect their nation. They're a ways away from the ocean, so a few teams rush ahead to get closer to the ocean. The ocean is theirs. The Fire Nation will learn what that means.

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Oma helps squirrel the young ones away. It won't help if the soldiers break through, but they won't. She hopes they don't. She stands at the ready, to help anyone who needs it.

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Mahesh wants to fight. He wants to be out there, doing something useful, but his training wasn't done. They have plenty of bodies. He stews quietly, waiting.

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The waterbenders reach shore range before the firebenders get close enough, and start moving back and forth, causing slowly growing reverse waves to rock the boats. A few of them create ice in the boats' path, trying to slow them down. A fireball shoots from one of the boats at them and they have to quickly scramble out of the way and erect an ice wall to protect themselves. It explodes on contact.

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Yeah, no. He goes closer to the fighting. No one is going to waste time trying to stop him. 

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That boy is going to be the death of her.

Oma makes her apologies to the other healers and tries to catch up.

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The boats advance, inexorable.

Well, not exactly inexorable, but only kinda exorable. Even the huge waves and blocks of ice seem unable to really stop them, and when they get close enough they shoot anchors into the ocean floor and the boats are kept in place. A barrage of smaller fireballs forces the waterbenders to scatter and seek refuge and doubles as cover for the smaller boats with firebenders approaching the shore.

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She advances.

She's getting uncomfortably close to the fray now, and no sign of Mahesh. If he's already joined the battle...

He doesn't stand a chance against trained firebender soldiers.

She advances. 

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In one of the boats, wearing Fire Nation armour, is a girl who has a plan. She is indistinguishable from everyone else in that armour. But she will make sure the waterbenders will win this.

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There are many such indistinguishable soldiers. Most of them harbor no such doubts or qualms. They prepare to disembark. 

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He probably turned back already. She's just digging herself deeper into this mess and for what? He ran off, he was risking his life for no reason, and now she was the one too close to the approaching fleet.

Oma turned back.

This was, naturally, a great time for her breath to fail her. 

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The soldiers disembark just as the waterbenders finish regrouping and start advancing. The waterbenders sound a signal and retreat, back to their walls, creating ice structures to block the soldiers' path, thinning the ice here and there, creating traps. This girl moves in unison with everyone else, but she has long since learnt to do small-scale firebending without the usual stances. Her feet touch the ice, and it becomes a bit more treacherous - not just near her, but even in places she's not even looking at.

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While the Water Tribe may be grateful, the girl lying on the ice is hardly in any position to be. 

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One of the soldiers sees her, and peals away from the others. 

This could be an opportunity to prove himself.

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She tries to focus on something other than her breathing, tries to reach out for water- she closes her eyes and hopes it's quick.

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He sees her. He has already taken the appropriate stance to attack her, but then he looks at her. 

He sees her, and the idea of hurting someone in pain, so completely vulnerable, it burns him. 

His mind races. What can he do? The others will see his hesitation and act, soon enough. He could take her, carry her, but she might protest, drawing more attention to them...he might have already hesitated to long. 

He falls out of his stance. 

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Someone decides to take advantage of his hesitation -

- to make the ground beneath his foot thinner and give him an excuse to stop.

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Yeah, that's a good reason to stop. One person isn't worth his attention, right? He should rejoin the others. Unless she's dying- she doesn't look injured- he steps back.

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Not being dead is good. She avoids reacting, in case that might set the soldier off. 

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The girl is good at this, too. She doesn't break stance, but she pays attention to that situation, there.

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"Are you going to be alright?"

He would try to keep his voice low, but he doesn't want it to get lost in the sounds of the fray. 

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"I will be."

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He nods, and backs away, rejoining the others.

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As they're advancing, they hear a loud explosion behind themselves. When they turn to look, one of the boats is in flames.

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Is it. Litar looks at the other soldiers, trying to see if any of them stand out.

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