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September 4, 2010
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(Contains: strong language)


-Danger,Deceit-
Prologue .01: Under Lake Laogai (21st Year of Kuei,* Late Spring)


[No one is dead until he is dead and buried.]
-

"Can you save him?"  

"Give me a second… damn, that little girl was right.  I think I can keep his heart beatin' and hold his insides together, but we need to get him to my master, now."  

"You two, bend a stretcher."  

"Careful!  You tryin' to rip him apar'?!  Slow, now.  Someone grab my canteen for me."  

"Take the fourth and eighth passages to my office.  Your master's waiting for you."  

"… Fuuu, you had this all planned out, didn' you.  Figures."  

"Tell them we're clearing out the operation, once you've finished with him.  I'll join you after I've made sure no one else is prying around."  

"You do that, love.  Jes don' get killed off now."  

"I don't intend to."

-----

"Considering how that rock just about caved in his ribs, it's a miracle we pulled him through."  

"He's a fighter, a damned stubborn one.  If I hadn't taken him to fourth-level, the Secretariat would have liquidated him."  

"Hoo, that much brainwashing, and he still shook free?  Here I was thinking you wanted to save him out of guilt or somethin'."  

"You're not very generous, are you?"  

"Tch, I'm very generous, I just call cat gator-shit when it's cat gator-shit.  What about the other two?"  

"They were escorted to the Third Ring, and given money and passes to take them wherever they please."  

"Ooohh, so now that you've gotten what you want, you think it's all right to kick the dead weight to the sewer pit, is that it?"  

"I don't like…"  

"Dey's kids, dammit!  You coulda done the decent thing and taken 'em clear of the city all together!"  

"We don't have the resources or the time to…"  

"Pffft, don' give me the old "priorities" speech.  I've heard it enough.  I jus… oh, to hell with it!  I wish I was back home!  Occupation's better'n all dis cloak-and-dagger shit, wid our own damned people!"  

"Then stay around.  The Fire Nation will be knocking on the Palace's gates in a few days."  

"… What?  But, the Avatar's…"  

"The Avatar is a child, his companions are children, and the King might as well be a child.  The drill was hardly the Fire Nation's most deadly weapon."  

"So that's why you're closing up shop.  You're cuttin' and runnin' 'fore de big fight, aren' you?!"  

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…"  

"BULLSHIT!  Do you know what de Fire Nation's gonna do to dis city once de get deir filthy claws in'o it?!  I do, an' if you tink I'm goin' to…!"  

"We've been ordered to shut down and pull out.  The Secretariat will throw in with the invader, and we'd be discovered and purged, without making a difference.  Simple as that.  Were it up to me, I'd be manning the walls, alone if I had to, but at least this way, the Society will have full documentation of the Dai Li's methods and crimes.  The War must end, and if my city has to be sacrificed to end it, then…"  

"… I'm sorry."  

"I beg your pardon?"  

"Don' be getting all prissy-manners on me, love, you know what I'm saying.  I… I know you think you're doing what's right, that you think your hands are tied.  My master probably agrees with you.  But I still think we're running like cowards, like we always have.  When do we get to fight?  I don'… I don' think we can wait for the Avatar."  

"Neither do I.  I'm leaving the city with the boy, joining the camp.  We'll be moving the base of operations south… you're more than welcome to come along, if you want.  Everyone else is going their separate ways."  

"I'll see what my master says; we might come part of the way with you.  But I think she wants to be gettin' on home, after all this time."  

"I understand.  I'll gladly take what time you can spare."  

"Ooo, you do know how to sweet-talk a girl, being all noble like that."  

"Does that sort of thing impress you?"  

"Would I be sticking around, with the walls falling around us, if it didn'?"  

"Point taken."  

"About the boy… you'll make him a Guard, won' you."  

"Yes.  As far as the world's concerned, he died down here.  Now he can carry on his fight alongside other dead men, free of former loyalties and concerns.  A better fate than what Long Feng handed him."  

"… I guess we all gotta tell ourselves little lies to get by.  Just do me a favor: don' empty him out like you did some of the others.  That… that never set well with me."  

"I might not have a choice.  But as I said, he's a stubborn little bastard; I doubt even level-six programming can erase all his grief and hatred."  

"You know, before I met you, something like that would have horrified me.  Now, all I can think is, 'Thank goodness, he'll have something to keep him alive.'  How twisted am I?"  

"Only twisted as you let the world make you.  One day, we'll be able to set it all right again…"    

----


*See Author's Note for details.  
-Danger, Deceit-: An Avatar: the Last Airbender Post-War Fic

Two years after the Century War, Avatar Aang, Fire Lord Zuko, the Earth King, and the chieftains of the Water Tribes attempt to win the peace. Behind the scenes in the Royal Palace of the Fire Nation, a young noblewoman fights her own war, where the battlefield is the Court and words are the weapons.
----

Prologue .01: -> (you are here)
Prologue .02: -> [link]

----

A/N: * The numbering of years in this series is based on the Japanese era calendar scheme, in which the era is designated by the name of the Emperor, followed by the year of his reign (ex: 2010 in the Western calendar is Heisei 22, the 22nd year of the reign of Emperor Akihito ["Hesei" being the teigo - the posthumous Buddhist name of the Emperor - though I'm not quite sure why the death name is the tradition, or how it's chosen]).

In the case of the Avatarverse, for the sake of simplicity, I am naming the era according to the canonical name of the character, instead of making up a teigo for them. Also, the era name will be tied to where the chapter/book takes place - Earth King-era name in case of chapters taking place in the Earth Kingdom, Fire Lord-era name in the case of chapters taking place in the Fire Nation.
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:iconamaterasu16:
Amaterasu16 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Also

I love how you always save Jet :iconblushingplz:
Reply
:iconsylvacoer:
sylvacoer Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yep! Though the price, as always, is pretty high...
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:iconamaterasu16:
Amaterasu16 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Well yes, realistically.:nod:
Reply
:iconamaterasu16:
Amaterasu16 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Ah! who are the two people????:O
Reply
:iconsylvacoer:
sylvacoer Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You'll see - I've already drawn one of 'em. One of their accents is a clue... :meow:
Reply
:iconamaterasu16:
Amaterasu16 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Gah...The guessing :idea: :faint:
Reply
:iconalleluiaelizabeth:
AlleluiaElizabeth Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2010
Just reviewed this fic on FF.net, but figured I'd say something here too. :)

White Lotus shenanigans? Cool! Also, I suppose this *does* explain how Iroh "happened" upon a Dai Lee agent who told he and the gaang what they needed to know in Crossroads. lol Already, the White Lotus Order is more of a secret society in your fic than it was in the show. XD Plus, at least one swampbender is in it, too. :) Very nice. (Now you just need to confirm Aunt Wu's a member and my fangirling will be complete. ;) )
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:iconsylvacoer:
sylvacoer Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Though technically, since the group here is deep cover, Iroh wouldn't have known that the man was a White Lotus agent, and the man wouldn't have been able to tell him without compromising the unit in front of the GAang. Of course, since the man was caught and executed by the real Dai Li after Iroh and GAang left, he never had a chance to inform the others that the Grand Master was there and might need their help.

At least, that's how I'd write it. :iconcrowfaceplz:
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:iconalleluiaelizabeth:
AlleluiaElizabeth Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2010
And that would be an excellently realistic way to portray it, too. :)

I do wonder though if Iroh should have just forgone tradition/protocol and made the Gaang aware of the White Lotus Society in the first place. It might have proved beneficial to the gaang to have those contacts. Day of Black Sun might have gone better, too. That's a long shot, though, since the reason it failed was b/c Azula knew ahead of time not a flaw in strategy that the WLO people could have fixed. But at least they could have maybe provided an escape. Or, I dunno, facilitated some kind of popular uprising... if not then then later on.
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:iconsylvacoer:
sylvacoer Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am ambivalent about the WLS, honestly - I think the fandom has made them out to be more effective than they actually were. If they had the army that Iroh assembled in the finale this whole time, why haven't they used it before? Why depend on the Avatar, if you can subvert? The idea that a worldwide network would bank their survival and success on a savior that did bunk a century ago AND only produced limited successes that that were quickly reversed strikes me as either negligence or just plain strategic blindness. :shrug:
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