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Chapter 5-High Admiral JeongJeongEdit
Rendezvous Reef IslandEdit
The sky was still dark overhead with the last remnants of the clouds from the tail end of the storm. There were no stars, no moon, no light at all on the flat expanse of newly risen sea floor except for the ring of torches the Fire Nation's present forces were gathered around. In the center of the ring was an old man in the garb of an extremely high ranking officer, one of the two highest ranking officers in the Ye Gui Li in fact, the High Admiral, head of the Ye Gui Li's External Affairs. The other man in the ring was considerably younger, and also clad in the garb of an officer, this one a commodore, facing his greatest superior below the Royal Family.
"Report," The old admiral ordered quietly from his stone seat, the only one currently on the entire island. High Admiral JeongJeong didn't like raising his voice outside of training and battle, but his voice carried authority nevertheless. Hei saluted, "Yes sir. Upon receiving word from Central Command that the Avatar might attempt to contact his previous incarnation at a temple in our vicinity, Agents Earthquake, Firework, Icicle and myself hurried to the temple and laid an ambush with the recently enlisted aid of Honored Former General Iroh and his nephew. Half an hour before sunset, the Avatar arrived on a sky bison with two Southern Water Tribe Natives. Upon entering the temple, Agents Earthquake and Firework apprehended and separated the Avatar from his friends, taking him to an operating room we had set up on the level below.
"Agent Icicle then attempted to surgically cripple the Avatar. She got as far as laying the bone in his shoulder bare before the Avatar state activated and he escaped, immediately ascending to the floor above where I was sowing seeds of discord and fear in the minds of his teammates. When he came through the floor as I had predicted he would, I used a fire drill to cauterize the incision Agent Icicle had made in his shoulder to ensure it would neither kill him prematurely nor heal properly.
"Before I could engage him, he advanced higher into the temple and reached the inner sanctum before we could stop him. With the assistance of Honored Former General Iroh, we prepared to do battle with the Avatar's previous incarnation Roku. We had planned to have Honored Former General Iroh use lightning to incapacitate Roku since the Lightning Redirection technique was not invented until after Roku's time, leaving him quite defenseless against it. Our plan would have succeeded had we not been betrayed by one of the local Fire Sages. The Fire Sage in question allowed one of the Avatar's companions to strike the Honored Former General with a boomerang, disrupting his aim and causing the lightning to go astray.
"We immediately engaged Roku and fought him to a standstill. I would like to make special note of the immensely valuable contributions Agents Earthquake and Firework made to the battle. Without their unique talents we would have been quickly overrun by Roku's abilities. As was, he only escaped due to the interference of the Avatar's sky bison. Had the battle continued, we would have captured him. As is, we managed to cripple the Avatar, and Agent Icicle managed to plant an ultimatum on the Avatar to poison their resolve. We have elected to give them a two week opportunity to surrender, more than ample time for us to gather the remaining forces necessary to capture them."
"Nevertheless I beg your forgiveness for our failure to capture the Avatar. It will not happen again," Hei finished firmly with a bow that was mirrored by Toph, Ming Hua and P'Li. JeongJeong hmmed, "I take it the traitor was made to see the error of his ways?" The corner of Hei's mouth twitched ever so slightly, "Yes sir. He saw it quite vividly. We brought him with us to transfer to a proper prison if you would like to inspect him for yourself." "Bring him to me," JeongJeong demanded, "I wish to ensure that he was dealt with using appropriate severity."
Hei glanced over his shoulder, "Agent Icicle, go get the prisoner." "Of course Agent Wildfire," Ming Hua replied coolly before fading into the shadows. A moment later, a bound and severely burned figure was tossed into the circle of fire light. JeongJeong rose and kicked the narrowly conscious figure over onto his back, noting the horrific burns all over his face, "Made to see the error of his ways vividly indeed," JeongJeong said dryly, but Hei caught the note of satisfaction in his voice. JeongJeong nodded, "The traitor has been sufficiently dealt with."
His eyes flicked toward a man in the uniform of a captain, "Captain, take this man to the brig. We'll drop him at the Boiling Rock on our way back to Central." Three men from JeongJeong's crew strode from the shadows and dragged Shiou off into the dark. JeongJeong returned to his seat, "What is the status of the other agents recruited to this mission?"
Hei held out a hand and P'Li handed him a scroll, which he quickly unfurled and read. Hei closed the scroll after a moment, "Agents Havoc and Volcano have just gotten under way and should arrive two days from now. They send their apologies that the storm has held them up. Agents Cannon and Harm have been likewise held up and will likely arrive the day after Agents Havoc and Volcano. I have not summoned anymore of our agents as I believe a small and versatile team is best suited to this mission."
"I have however," he continued, "Alerted our other agents across the world to the nature of our prey. They will keep an eye out. The Avatar will not slip through our net again." JeongJeong nodded, "See that he does not. At ease." Hei immediately dropped into a crouch as was his wont, and the assembled soldiers began milling about aimlessly on their way back to their usual routines as Toph, P'Li and Ming Hua stepped into the light, quickly followed by Iroh and Zuko.
Toph took a particularly firm step and a curved stone bench erupted from the slab behind them. Hei slithered up onto the bench, taking the end seat on the High Admiral's right, crossing his legs and sitting forward with his jaw resting in his hand. Toph sat next to him, Zuko sat next to her, Iroh next to him, then Ming Hua and P'Li across from Toph and Hei. Hei smiled and waved at the High Admiral, "Hi Grampy. How's everyone back home?" "They're doing alright," JeongJeong replied with a faint smile, "Good job today, all of you," he added after a moment. Zuko and Iroh both blinked, Grampy?!
"High Admiral JeongJeong is your grandfather?" Zuko asked in surprise. Hei grinned at him, "Well they don't let just anybody hang around the Royal Palace you know. Gotta have connections somewhere to be buddies with the Fire Lord's kids." "I did not know you had grandchildren JeongJeong," Iroh said cheerfully. "You must not have been paying attention Iroh," JeongJeong replied, "I have six grandchildren."
"Six?!" Iroh asked in surprise before stroking his beard and looking at the ground, "Wow I really did miss a lot..." Toph laughed, "He doesn't really. Four of us are just sort of adopted." "Oh!" Iroh exclaimed, "Well, that makes me feel better." Zuko frowned in confusion, "So wait, Hei, who are your siblings?" Hei scratched his head, "Well you never really met my little brother, and of course you've met Toph. As for the other three," he gestured across the fire, "Ming Hua and her two adopted big brothers."
Zuko looked at Ming Hua and Toph, "Wait, you have a little brother?" "Adopted little brother," Hei corrected, "And Toph is sorta like a little sister." Zuko raised an eyebrow as he considered what he had gathered about Hei and Toph's relationship, decided it was definitely not a sibling relationship and figured they must be acting for JeongJeong's sake.
"I certainly hope you wouldn't do what you do with Toph with a little sister," JeongJeong said with a knowing grin. Then again maybe not, Zuko thought. Hei smiled and wrapped an arm around Toph, "Okay, you got me. Toph's definitely not a little sister, but I'd protect her like one, how's that?"
Toph elbowed him gently with a grin, "What makes you think I need protecting?" Hei grinned, "Nothing at the moment, but if you ever did need me, I'd be there and you know it." Toph smiled and leaned against him, "Yeah, I know." Iroh looked puzzled for a moment then smiled as he realized what Zuko had already figured out. Then P'Li grinned, "Hey c'mon Toph, he's mine for at least a little while."
Zuko, Iroh and JeongJeong blinked in unison. JeongJeong turned to Hei, "When did this happen?" Hei shrugged, "Few days ago. It's only until we can get Zaheer properly jealous." Another round of confused blinks, P'Li smiled, "Hei is helping me make Zaheer jealous so that he'll go out with me." The three confused faces did not light with understanding as P'Li had expected them to.
"They'll see each other for a while, and then when Zaheer's frothing mad with jealousy, they're going to stage a fight and pretend to break up so that Zaheer will think he's being her rebound guy when really he's just doing what P'Li wanted him to. I think it's a really good idea," Ming Hua explained happily. Zuko and Iroh nodded as understanding dawned on them and JeongJeong looked at Ming Hua, "I'm sure you do given that it sounds like one of your ideas."
P'Li tilted her head thoughtfully, "You know, it kinda does doesn't it?" Ming Hua grinned, "Why thank you! Thank you very much!"
Three Days Later, Kyoshi IslandEdit
"Remind me why we're here again?" Toph grumbled. Hei didn't look at her, "Because our former and possibly soon to be again crown prince got his butt handed to him here about two weeks ago and that's bad PR for the Fire Nation." His face fell, "And Harvi had a really bad episode last week." Toph flinched at the mention of her and Hei's adoptive brother who had gone completely insane a few years earlier.
They were quiet for a long moment and then Hei continued, "So we're here to kill four birds with one shot. We're going to avenge Zuko's defeat, get Harv a nurse, get Baozha some stress relief, and get me and P'Li an excuse for our staged scrap." Toph looked at him slyly with a grin, "Oh bull, you just want to make sure you've got a cute little maid for when you take over the country estate this summer." Hei smiled, "Yeah, that too."
He stretched, "It's gonna be kinda weird out there at the old country estate all by myself. Gonna be really quiet." Toph smiled, "I'll still be able to come visit right?" Hei smiled, "Of course, it's a family estate after all." Toph smiled, "Good, I like it out there." Hei smiled, "I know you do." A few minutes passed in silence before a small flame flared for an instant out over the water, "There they are," Hei said as he popped a ring of fire into existence over his hand and waved it at them quickly before snuffing it back out.
About twenty minutes later, an immense man with a mechanical arm and leg, no hair on his head and a third eye tattoo like P'Li's on his forehead hopped out of the small rowboat and dragged it ashore next to Hei and Toph's. Captain Baozha of the Ye Gui Li nodded to them. He never spoke. Nobody was sure if he couldn't, or just didn't. Of course, he could get a lot across with just facial expressions.
Hei and Toph hardly noticed his nod, responding just by reflex as they saw the figure in the straitjacket in the boat with the gag in his mouth. Harv wiggled at them in greeting, "Hahe! Haoff!" Hei sat down in the boat across from his little brother as Toph quickly bent the metal bench to bind Harv in place. He may have been crazy, but he was still a Ye Gui Li agent.
"Harvi," Hei said gently, "Why did you destroy that village?" Harv's reply was muffled by the gag, but Hei could tell he wasn't apologizing. Hei sighed and Toph flinched; Hei hadn't told her the details of Harvi's episode, and this sounded to be by far the worst he'd ever had. "Harvi," Hei said a note of gentle firmness in his voice, "You can't do that." Harvi cut lose a long muffled unapologetic explanation, apparently not even caring that he was still gagged and nobody could understand him.
Hei sighed, "Harvi, what would Ty Lee say if she found out you had done that?" Harvi flinched as though struck and actually looked guilty. Ty Lee had meant a lot to him. Hei frowned irritably, "Harvi, you mauled nineteen people, killed three, and then you shot four cows in the head and stampeded the rest through the village before doing I don't even want to know what to a pair of chickens and left them to rot before blowing up the local dam and flooding the village. When Baozha found you the next morning, you were covered in blood, wearing a trout like a hat, buck naked and busily humping a pumpkin in the woods! And when he asked what you were doing, you looked at the pumpkin, and asked if it was midnight already!"
A short little gasp of horrified laughter escaped Toph and Harvi looked at her and then looked at Hei as if to say, See? It was a good line and you know it. Toph looked stricken, "Harvi, even if it was a good line, you didn't have to kill all those people to set it up. You shouldn't have done it." Harvi looked mildly abashed and then Hei barked angrily, "You're damn right he shouldn't have done it! If he does it again we've got orders from Central Command to bring him in for permanent incarceration, in the lunatic asylum or the ground. They don't care which one anymore!"
"Even with us being Hellfire Harvi, you can't just go around destroying things whenever the mood strikes you! And you damn sure can't do it like that!" Harvi sulled up and looked like he was about to start tuning Hei out completely. Hei lunged across the little rowboat and grabbed Harvi by the front of the straitjacket, yanking Harvi around to face him as the temperature around him abruptly dropped, "NOW YOU LISTEN TO ME HARVI! If you go off on your own for another little rampage like that again, if you go off on your own again AT ALL, it won't be BAOZHA coming after you, it'll be ME, and when I catch you, I will put you down like a rabid mutt because I know you'd be impossible to transport and incarcerate! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME HARVI?!"
Toph and Baozha's eyes were wide, they had never heard Hei raise his voice at Harvi before, Hei blamed himself too much for what had happened to his little brother to ever be harsh with him. No eyes were wider than Harvi's though; if it was shocking for the others, it was utterly mind-boggling for him. Even in his addled state, he looked up to his big brother more than anybody and Hei had always had his back. This was turning the world even more on its ear than Harvi had become used to in recent years.
Harvi gulped, the other side of the coin, was that Harvi knew Hei. He knew that Hei was one of the Ye Gui Li's best and most stubborn agents. If Hei went after somebody, that somebody died, and Harvi knew he couldn't compete with Hei in a fight. So now as Hei glared at him, almost daring Harvi to test him, Harvi realized that he really had pushed it way too far this time. He deflated and finally looked properly ashamed of himself as he mumbled an apology through his gag.
Hei continued to glare at him for a moment before deciding he had made himself sufficiently clear and releasing his iron grip to sit back on the rower's bench. He crossed his arms as the strange cold lifted, "Now then. We've got a mission. You are to stick to Baozha like glue understand?" Harvi nodded cautiously. "Good," Hei said irritably, "Here's the deal. There are some warrior women on this island who recently made buffoons of the former crown prince and his men." "Huho?" Harvi asked in surprise.
"Yes Zuko," Hei replied tiredly, "Now be quiet and pay attention." Harvi was quiet as Hei continued, "Our objective here is to capture these warrior women while inflicting minimal injury. There are six of them, Toph and I already checked." He fished out a toothpick, "Toph will point out the houses they're in, you and Baozha will get the ones on the east side of the village, I will get the ones on the west side, and Toph will make sure none of them get away."
"After we're done, you, Baozha and Toph will keep them contained while I deal with the rest of the village." He thought for a moment, "You can sing your song provided you stick to the mission parameters. I'll tell you why we're capturing them alive after we've caught them. Are you going to behave and do what we need you to Harvi?" Harvi nodded, "Uh-huh. Ahouee."
Hei sat back, "Good. Then quit pretending you didn't get loose from that straitjacket before you ever got to shore, get that gag out of your mouth and stop mumbling." Harvi unfolded his arms, plucked the gag from his mouth and sat back, mirroring his brother's posture with a huge grin, "Sure thing big bro!" Baozha's eyes widened slightly, he had thought Harvi was still completely immobilized.