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Chapter 18-The Straits of the SkogavdodEdit

The Next DayEdit

Dread-Eye stood over the map everyone was gathered around. He pointed to a spot, "We're here, just off the westernmost coast of Thera. If we go straight north from here, which is the shortest route to the Northern Vampiri, we've got a fairly straight shot. If we hug the coast all the way there though, then we'll be sailing through some of the most notoriously Mech infested waters in the world."

"We're bound to run into some either way," he continued, "But I think we can avoid the worst of them if we go west from here and veer up through the Straits of the Skogavdod. I've never sailed those waters though, and I've heard a lot of disturbing rumors about the place." He winced and reached up to scratch the bandages around his head as the burns he had gotten from the Faceless One's attack began to itch.

He had been pretty gruesomely burned, the entire left side of his face had been scorched by the power of his eye. Katara and Katrina had been working to ensure it didn't scar too badly but as Katrina reminded him while pulling his hand away from his bandages, "If you keep scratching it will keep bleeding. We can change your bandages after we've picked a course. Now what are these rumors you've heard?"

Dread-Eye frowned, and put his hand down, "A lot of ships disappear in those islands. Longbeard, one of the most powerful pirates I've ever met, wouldn't go near the place." "Claimed there were witches on the islands and that they keep huge monster badger-wolves as guard dogs," Chit-Sang interjected, one hand on the bandages across his stomach, trying to resist the urge to scratch.

Dread-Eye nodded, "I'm not sure I believe that, but it's a possibility. I think it's a rather slim one, probably just hokum and rumors spread by the locals to keep pirates and Mechs away. On the other hand, the possibility of encountering an armada of War Mechs if we try a straight shot is extremely good, especially if they get wind that we're in the area." He looked at Aang and Omen, "It's your call. The straits are hard to navigate and notorious for disappearing ships, and the sea north of here is full of Mechs."

Omen frowned, "What our odds in the straits?" Dread-Eye thought for a moment, "If we don't get eaten by monsters we can make it. It'll just take a few more days to do." Omen looked around at the formidable party around her and then turned her gaze to the Churaians, "I think we can handle a few maybe monsters don't you?" The Churaians nodded, "Yep." Omen looked at Aang, "Any objections?"

Aang shook his head, "Let's go." Dread-Eye nodded, "The straits it is. Mundo, could you take the helm while I get some fresh bandages to make my head quit itching?" Mundo nodded, "Yep," and hurried to the helm. Dread-Eye looked at Chuckles and Tonis, "Fellas, chart us a course for the Straits of Skogavdod." "What about me?" Chit-Sang asked. Katrina looked at him, "You're getting fresh bandages too. Now come on, injured people and healers to the sick deck."

After Katrina, Katara, Dread-Eye and Chit-Sang had gone down to the sick-deck, which was really just a cabin next to the girls' room, Sokka looked around, "I guess I'm just on standby." Omen looked at him, "You're a swordsman right?" Sokka looked at her, "Yeah, why?" Her hand strayed to the hilt of the saber at her side and a smile crept across her face, "Care to indulge me in a little practice bout?" Sokka blinked, "Um, sure. I, guess I can do that."

She smiled and stepped into a ready position, her hand going to the hilt of her saber, "Ready when you are." Aang hurriedly backed up as Sokka drew his sword, rapidly moving it into a blocking position as his precognitive sense flared and Omen's blade slammed into his, nearly knocking it from his grasp immediately. He quickly changed to a two handed grip as she twisted her blade and nearly twisted his out of his hands.

He turned and brought his sword into a horizontal arc as she spun and brought her blade whipping out from between his hands where it had been set to disarm him, swinging it in an overhead diagonal cross body arc down towards his head. He managed to keep his sword from being knocked into his own head, but Omen was strong enough that the blow drove him to his knees. She spun around behind him and he rolled forward as her blade whistled through the air where his neck had been an instant earlier. Sokka rolled to his feet and spun, bringing his sword up in an arc to block hers as she brought it down in a hammering overhead blow, which once again hit like a battle axe and nearly knocked his blade from his hand.

This time Sokka let his blade be knocked from its blocking position as he surged to the left and brought his blade up towards her throat. She went to her knees and bent backwards, making Sokka's blade fly harmlessly over her head. She slid to her feet, one foot extending out behind her as she turned and sprang forward, hammering the knuckle guard of her saber into Sokka's back, knocking him to the ground. If they had been an actual fight, Sokka knew she'd have killed him just then.

He rolled over and stood up as Omen sheathed her saber with a smile, "Not bad." "Not bad?!" Sokka exclaimed, "You clobbered me!" Omen smiled, "You held your own against me for almost a full minute. Most people can't even see my attacks, let alone defend against them." Sokka brightened slightly at that.

The Recently Established Republic Base At Whale Tail Island A Day LaterEdit

"MAKO! FRONT AND CENTER!" Colonel Toza bellowed. Captain Mako of Republic Navy Unit 39 rushed in and saluted, "Sir!" Toza pointed to the map, "We've had a report that there's a Death Bringer ship flying the colors of the Empire headed for the Straits of the Skogavdod. Take your unit, get to the Straits before they do and take them out." Mako saluted, "Yessir." He turned and quickly ran to find his brother Bolin and the rest of his unit.

Two Days Later, The Entrance to the StraitsEdit

"X-ADDERS!" Chuckles bellowed. A moment later there was a huge blast that rocked the ship. Omen rolled out of her bed irritably, "What the hell is going on?" She got up to the deck and saw Chuckles and Dread-Eye firing at will, struggling to deflect incoming missiles as Mundo and Tonis fought with the wheel to get them into the straits where the X-Adders would be unlikely to follow.

The X-Adders were a somewhat new design, having only come along in the last three or four years, they consisted of a cockpit and four wings, two in the water like skis and two raised like ears. The wings each had motorized propellers and all four were mounted on a ring which allowed the Mechs to roll sideways while keeping the cockpit and pilot upright and able to fire. This also made them frustratingly difficult to hit, and even though Katrina had hit many of them several times, they seemed to be lined with silver, which was impervious to Spectral Energy and the Death Touch.

Omen quickly spotted Aang, whose Bone-Monger strength was lending him slightly more success, as he could tear through the Mechs armor relatively well. He had sunk three of the probably dozen already, but he was having trouble keeping up with the extremely quick X-Adders and even more trouble keeping hold of them once he caught them as the pilots proved themselves to be skilled enough to know to roll the wings on their Mechs to dislodge unwelcome passengers. Omen sighed, "Ok, I'm annoyed."

She moved so fast she seemed to have disappeared and suddenly one of the X-Adders exploded to pieces. Those looking closely saw Omen surface behind the field of wreckage, and then a huge jet stream was whipped into existence in her wake as she dismantled the other X-Adders in short order. She paused and floated over the water smiling at her handy work, Aang flew up to her on his spectral wings, "How are you flying like that?"

Omen smiled at him, "It's a Bone-Monger trick. I'm just lifting my own bones while they're still in my body. Let's me fly without the need for wings." Aang immediately tried it and fell into the water. Omen laughed and hauled him from the water, "Why don't we wait for experimentation until we're on deck?" Aang smiled, "Yeah, that might be better." Katrina suddenly shrieked in surprise and banked sharply as something exploded out of the water next to her before submerging again. Something huge rocketed towards Aang and Omen beneath the water. Before Omen could lift them to a safe height, something exploded out of the water and wrapped around Aang, yanking him from her grasp and into the water.

Aang struggled to get free as the whatever it was drug him deeper and deeper. No matter how many spectral blades he slashed into the thing dragging him with, its grip reformed constantly in seconds, almost as though it weren't solid. Just as he was beginning to black out, something huge slashed through the thing holding him and a pair of arms caught him. Water rushed against him and a moment later they surfaced.

As the beautiful girl with the blazing red hair and startlingly bright mask handed Aang to Omen, a huge lump of vines rocketed into the straits. The girl snarled, "Kroobies." Omen and Aang tilted their heads to the side, not understanding, "Kroobies?" The girl pulled a bone staff from a strap on her back, "Yeah, Kroobies." She suddenly flew after the clump of vines and as she drew over it, just before it disappeared into the depths of the swamp, she swung her staff at it and yelled, "Chew on this you damn Kroobies!" A bizarre green fireball exploded away from the end of her staff and blasted a large chunk of the vines to ashes.

The girl twirled her staff between her fingers and set it on her shoulder before turning midair and floating back out to them, confidence utterly oozing off her, "Welcome to Kyoshi territory. You should probably introduce yourselves before I decide to let my pet down there eat you." Omen raised an eyebrow, "Pet?" Suddenly there was an immense roar and an eel-like creature as tall as the highest mast of the Albatross rose from the water.

Next Time: The Witches of KyoshiEdit