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Chapter 36-The Battle Begins

Etake Vale, One Hour After The Imperial Party's ArrivalEdit

Aang and Omen started to sweat a little when the ground began to rumble. They were at the back of the army, positioned on a hill. Iarna raised an eyebrow, "Here they come." Suddenly something came rocketing over the horizon, a trail of smoke behind it. Iarna calmly took a sip of tea as Aang and Omen's eyes widened with worry. "Bomb," Iarna casually declared.

One of the four Beinstyrke Agents assigned to guard the royal tent formed a bone dagger in his hand. Sokka wondered idly what he intended to do with it, then the mortar shell exploded prematurely midair. The Beinstyrke agent put away his dagger. "Now that's impressive," Katrina said with a note of admiration in her voice, her eyes bright and a smile growing behind mask. "What happened?" Sokka asked, "I blinked and missed it." Katrina smiled as she watched the sky, "Keep watching, they'll do it again, right"

Suddenly over a dozen more such bombs arced over the horizon, and just as many were knocked from the air. This time Sokka Aang and Omen saw what had happened as one got a little bit closer than the others before the flight of bone daggers tore into it midair and forced it to detonate prematurely.

They all three stared and Omen was glad to see that as calm as Iarna was, King Etachi and Princess Yue had been worried too. Iarna looked at them all, slightly smug, "Told ya." She turned to the tall man with the long hair that had just appeared seemingly from nowhere, "Ah Lord Tarrlok, how kind of you to join us. Will your father and brother be joining us?"

Tarrlok nodded, "Yes Princess, they are simply gathering some of my brother's experiments to assist in the fighting. He has a feeling we might need them. Now if you will excuse me, I've not seen my daughter in nearly a month." Tarrlok turned and Omen leapt to hug him, "Daddy!" Aang smiled, even in such dire circumstances, seeing Omen happy brought a smile to his face.

Tarrlok set Omen down and looked at Aang and Sokka, "And who are these two?" Omen smiled and blushed slightly, "Dad this is Sokka, he's the son of General Hakoda in the Southern Tribe, he's their envoy to the Imperial Court," She paused as Tarrlok shook Sokka's hand warmly and then turned and smiled at Aang as Omen continued, "And this is Aang, my er, boyfriend."

The smile vanished faster than a scared Vampiri and suddenly Tarrlok seemed ten feet tall, "Really?" He said through clenched teeth, "How very nice." He leaned down to look Aang in the eye, "And who are you to be going out with my baby girl?" Aang's knees trembled slightly, "I'm the Emperor." Tarrlok's pupils shrank slightly, and he looked at Omen, "Did I just hear him right?" he asked with a dangerous smile, "He's your Emperor?"

Omen suddenly started sweating too, "It's not like that Dad!" She protested with a nervous smile as her father seemed to swell with anger, "Aang was the Emperor before me, and somehow there's two of us now. We're only together to keep from making a mess of the succession!" The wave of bombs exploding in the air over the battlefield neatly accentuated the crushing impact her words had on Aang.

Every head present turned to look at her. Even Iarna winced as she overheard, "Ouch." Aang definitely felt "ouch". It was all he could do to keep his knees from buckling on the spot as what little color resided in his face drained away in an instant. "What?" he asked, every fiber of his being shaking with horror as an icy hand seemed to grip his heart.

Omen flinched as she realized how bad it had sounded, "Oh..." Aang caught Sokka's shoulder, the mental shock hitting him like a physical blow as Omen's eyes turned to him, the horror at what had escaped her mouth as plainly evident as the nose on her face as she clapped her hands over her mouth, "Oh god Aang, I am so sorry! I didn't...I didn't mean it like that!"

Aang turned to the battlefield, his eyes closed as her words buzzed dimly in his ears and he tightened his grip on his scythe. He took a shuddering breath and then opened his eyes. He loosened his grip on his scythe and let the handle slide through his hand until he was holding it by the end of its long oaken shaft. His face twisted angrily and his eyes glowed with such power that there seemed to be green fire erupting out of his eye sockets as the first Mammoth Mech came over the horizon.

Aang suddenly disappeared. He reappeared high over the battle field, his scythe ready to swing overhead like an axe or a club. Then as gravity took effect, he dropped to the front lines, his scythe glowing with spectral energy. He slammed his scythe into the ground with an almighty roar and enough force to bury the blade in the ground completely, and with a sound like a thunderclap sent a hundred foot high blade of spectral energy through the hillside the Mammoth Mech was coming over to cut a gash clean through the hill and split the Mammoth Mech in half in a truly spectacular explosion. The resultant shockwave was enough to blow his cape back even from nearly a mile away as he stood and flicked his scythe clear of the ground.

Every jaw present dropped. Iarna looked over at Omen and Tarrlok, "I think he's upset."

On the Other Side of the HillEdit

Varrick stumbled as Aang's spectral energy blade shook the Tortoise Fort, "What was that?!" He picked himself up and leaned over the radio bank, "Somebody report! What was that?!" "Off hand," Jet replied, "I'd say it was that Spirit Caller that just jumped from the command tent to the front lines." Everyone who heard Jet's reply stiffened. "Say again?" Varrick asked, "Did you just say a Spirit Caller jumped the length of the battle field and did that all on his own?"

"Looks like it Mr. Varrick," Teo replied. "So is that the Emperor?" Asami asked. "Gotta be," Jet said, "Only Bone Mongers, Steins and Imperials can jump like that, only Vampiri and Imperials could do it that fast, and we just saw him cut a hill in two with one shot of spectral energy." "Has he returned to their battle lines yet?" Varrick asked urgently. "Mmm...nope," Teo replied, "he's just standing there." Varrick turned to a different section of the radio bank, "Runners deploy! Your target is the Emperor! Kill on sight!" Down below in the belly of the Tortoise Fort, fifty small powerful engines revved as fifty pilots accepted their assignment.

Varrick turned to another section of the bank, "Mammoths hold your positions and prepare to launch another wave of missiles. We need to keep whoever's been knocking our shots out of the sky busy so they can't intercept the runners!"

Back at the Command TentEdit

Omen stepped towards the edge of the command tent, "I have to go help him!" Katrina stopped her, "No, you need to stay here. In the event he dies there needs to be an Imperial left alive to take the throne." "But..." Omen protested. Katrina cut her off, "I will go back him up. Look the Churaians are already forming up around him. Between me and the three of them, trust me, we'll keep him safe. So stay put. He wouldn't want you in the line of fire anyway."

Omen nodded tentatively, "Just bring him back to me. I can't," tears welled in her eyes as her voice caught on the thought, "I can't let him die with those being the last words that pass between us."

Katrina nodded, "I understand. Don't worry, I'll bring him back for you." She took two quick steps and leapt into the air, spectral wings in the shape of a butterfly's erupting into existence on her back, easily carrying her over the battlefield to land next to Aang and the Churaians. She laid a hand on his shoulder, "Aang, are you alright?"

"I'm fine," Aang said bluntly. Katrina tilted her head to one side and looked at the gash he had torn in the hill, "That was quite a blast." "If you're here to take me back there Katrina, don't bother," Aang replied coldly, "I still have a lot of anger to get out." Katrina smiled behind her mask, "Who am I to drag an Emperor about? I told Omen I'd bring you back in one piece, I didn't say when." A spectral claw formed around her hand, "I think after we win this battle would be a good time don't you?"

"Well said Katrina!" Chuckles grinned. "Couldn't have said it better ourselves!" Mundo added. "If only she wanted kids!" Tonis added with an obvious note of disappointment in his voice. Katrina leapt and slapped him in the back of the head with her spectral claw, "I told you to keep quiet about that!" Aang looked at the two of them in confusion and then Chuckles leaned forward, "Best not to ask about it Your Highness."

Aang opened his mouth to ask anyway but Mundo cut him off, "Here they come!" Suddenly a wave of missiles arced over the horizon as dozens of small mechs in the shape of spheres rolled over the horizon in an instant and rocketed towards the frontline. They were only small in comparison to other mechs though Aang thought as Chuckles blew one up with an arrow and Mundo bashed another one across the battlefield with his hammer.

Katrina suddenly grabbed Aang and leapt upward, dragging him into the air as the roller mechs, which had begun to circle them, opened fire with flame throwers, the wind whipped up by their passing transforming the blaze into an inferno of fire that licked at Aang's heels as Katrina strove to pull them out of range.

Next Time: Churaians on the Attack!Edit