whitelotusmods: Katara from Avatar looking determined (Katara looking determined)
whitelotusmods ([personal profile] whitelotusmods) wrote in [community profile] white_lotus2011-02-11 08:06 pm

LNYE FIC: The Makka, for jibrailis

Title: The Makka
By: [personal profile] jetamors
Rating: SFW
Character(s)/Ship(s): Aang/Katara, original characters
Summary: Aang and Katara expected to find another normal Water Tribe village. But as usual, things don't exactly go as planned.
Content Notes: One indirect reference to rape.
Other Notes: This fic was written for [personal profile] jibrailis. The Makka is very generally based on the story "The Ogre Baby, Makkatahlungiq" from the collection Tales of Ticasuk by Ticasuk/Emily Orloff Brown. Beta by [personal profile] eruthros.

"There's the village," Katara said, pointing ahead. Waterbender villages weren't difficult to find from the air; the brown tents contrasted sharply against the white snow. "Looks like there's enough room in the middle to land Appa."

"Okay," Aang said. He pulled on Appa's reins, and the flying bison drifted down to earth.

But they didn't get the same welcome they'd gotten in other villages. In fact, they didn't get a welcome at all. No one came out of their tents or pointed their boats toward shore. The village fire was down to embers. The only thing they could hear was the blowing of the wind and an odd cracking sound, difficult to place.

"Maybe nobody lives here anymore," Aang said, looking around. Momo seemed nervous; he clung to Aang's shoulder and shivered, looking around with wide eyes.

"They would have taken their tents with them if they left," Katara said. "And if they were attacked, the tents would be torn or burnt or something." She walked toward one of the tents to take a closer look.

"Maybe everyone got sick," Aang suggested. "We should check inside."

The tent's leather was pitted all over with deep indentations, as if something had been gnawing on it. "Something strange is going on," Katara said. "It kind of reminds me of--"

"Wait, Katara," Aang said, pointing. A figure had appeared from behind a tent. "I see someone over there." He waved his arms. "Hey, hey you! What happened here?"

The person was standing oddly, with their shoulders hunched and their arms and head hanging down. They swiveled their head at Aang's call, and smiled: too widely, and with too many teeth. Aang realized that he wasn't looking at a person at all. And then it started running toward them, its back still hunched over and its steps erratic.

Katara reacted instantly. She pulled snow up from the ground to freeze the creature from the waist down, stopping it short. The creature started twisting and turning, its fingers scrabbling at the ice. Its mouth opened wide and it keened at a high pitch, an eerie, unsettling sound. It jerked more strongly, and the ice containing it started to crack.

"It'll break free at any moment," Katara called to Aang. She was already scrambling onto Appa. "We need to go!"

Aang looked back at the creature. It was moving more furiously now, and the cracks in the ice were deepening. He scrambled onto Appa's back, grabbed the reins, and in a few seconds they were airborne and flying down the coast.

"What was that thing?" he asked Katara.

"I'm not sure, but I think it's a Makka. In the stories about them, they eat everything, even people. I didn't think there were any left, though."

"Does that mean it ate everyone in that village?" Aang asked.

"Maybe," Katara said. "But they might have escaped. Let's see if we can find the survivors."

Behind them, they could still hear the creature's wail. From that distance, it sounded doubled, an ugly dissonance that raised goosebumps on Aang's neck.

It didn't take long for them to find the survivors. They were much further along the coast, at the mouth of a river. There were two boats ferrying people across the river a few at a time. When Appa landed on the nearer side of the river, an old man with a long beard stepped forward.

"You must be Avatar Aang and Master Katara," he said. "Thank goodness you're here. My name is Tuka, and this is my village. We desperately need your help."

"We saw your village," Katara said. "Do you want us to help drive away the Makka?"

Tuka shook his head. "Once a Makka chooses a place to live, it can't be budged. We've found a place on the other side of the river to establish our new village. But many of our precious belongings were left behind in the village. We would like you to lure the Makka into a herd of Arctic hippos living northwest of the village. While it eats them, we can retrieve some of our things."

Aang looked to Katara. "It's probably the only way to get it out," she said.

Aang nodded. "We can do that," he said. "We can't take everyone, but we can fly a few people back on Appa. They can gather everyone's things from the village."

"I'll go," a voice said. It belonged to a tall, gawky teenage boy who stepped forward from the crowd. His hair was worn loose, not half-up or in a wolf tail, and his eyes were a dull amber color.

"No," Tuka said immediately. "Out of the question, Nasuk. This is a task for warriors of our village."

"But I would be a warrior, if you just let me," the boy said. "Tuka, please?"

Tuka ignored him. "These are the ones who will go with you," he said, pointing out two men and two women. "No one else. Also, we want to establish our new village across the river. We have few tents, so your Waterbending would be useful in helping us cross the river and make igloos to stay in tonight. We left all of our saws in the village."

Katara nodded. "One more thing," she said. "I'm looking for anyone you have who might be able to Waterbend."

Tuka's face darkened. "No! No one here can Waterbend at all!" he said.

"Are you sure? Maybe some of the children?"

Tuka grumbled. "Well, you can test them, but I assure you, you won't find anyone. There are no Waterbenders living in this village!"

***

"Whew!" Aang said, flopping onto his back. "That took forever!" They hadn't erected their own tent until they'd built enough temporary igloos for everyone else in the village. "Hey, Katara, what else do you know about these Makkas?"

"Not much," Katara said. "I didn't even know that they were real."

"Are they spirits?"

"I don't think so. I know that they're nearly impossible to kill, but they can't swim, so they can't cross rivers. The best way to get away from a Makka is to give it something big to eat. Then you can leave while it's distracted. That's probably how these people got away." Katara finished rolling out her sleeping bag. "I think we should go back to the village before the sun comes up. I got an idea of how strong the Makka was when I tried freezing it before. If we go at night, we should be able to freeze it strongly enough to take it to the herd before it breaks out."

"Sounds like a plan," Aang said. He yawned. "I guess we'd better get some sleep now. We'll be getting up early tomorrow." He waved his hand to dim the fire, but then brightened it again. Someone was coming into the tent.

"Nasuk!" Katara exclaimed. Those eyes could belong to no one else. After entering the tent, he sat down in front of them, legs crossed.

"Please let me come with you," he pleaded. "I was born here, I've lived here my whole life, and yet they still treat me like an outsider! I just need one chance to prove to them who I am!"

"Why don't they want you to come?" Katara asked.

Nasuk looked down at his legs. "I was born after a Fire Nation raid," he said quietly. "It wasn't so bad when my mother was alive, but after she died, the others here didn't want to have anything to do with me. But I want to help!" he said, looking back up at them. "I'm a part of this village too."

Aang and Katara shared a long, wordless look. She nodded, finally, and after a moment, so did he.

"We're leaving tomorrow, before the sun comes up," Aang said.

"And, you know, if we happen to find a stowaway‚ we wouldn't have time to turn around and bring him back," Katara said.

Nasuk smiled, for the first time since they'd met him. It transformed his entire face. "Thank you!" he said.

***

The stars were still out when they lifted off on Appa, and the moon was nearly full. The air was so cold and clear that Katara felt braced.

The four warriors were obviously annoyed that Nasuk had come, and glowered at him in silence. Nasuk, however, was in a good mood and peppered Katara with questions.

"Why are we leaving at night?"

"Waterbending is stronger at night. It'll make the Makka easier to deal with."

"How did you learn Waterbending?"

"I taught myself a lot of it, but I also learned from Master Pakku in the Northern Water Tribe."

"Did you really find the Avatar?"

Katara nodded. "I was out fishing with my brother when we found him. He was frozen in a block of ice."

They landed downwind of the village, next to the water. They were near the village, but it was still too dark to see its walls.

"You can wait here for now," Katara told Nasuk and the warriors. "Me and Aang will use Waterbending to get the Makka to the Arctic hippos."

"I'll shoot up a big flame when they reach the hippos," Aang said. "That'll mean it's safe to go into the village."

"And what if it comes this way?" one of the warriors asked.

"Get onto Appa's back," Aang said. "He'll swim away from shore so the Makka can't get you. Right, buddy?"

Appa snuffled.

At first, everything went according to plan. Aang and Katara came to the entrance of the village without any trouble. There, they yelled and stamped their feet until the Makka came out.

"It's coming," Katara yelled as soon as she saw a dark figure appear. She shifted into a Waterbending stance, as did Aang beside her. He caught her eye and grinned; she smiled back.

"Just a little further," she murmured.

The Makka was lumbering toward them, with its back hunched and its arms hanging down. Its sharp teeth gleamed in the moonlight. Katara held steady, and waited for it to come through the village entrance.

"Now!" she shouted, as soon as it cleared the village gate. Together, she and Aang pulled up as much snow and ice as they could. They swirled it around the Makka, enclosing the creature in as many layers of ice as they could. It was hard work, especially with the Makka trying to escape the entire time. But finally it was done. The Makka was contained.

"This should hold it for at least an hour, right?" Aang asked.

"It should," Katara said, smiling. "We did it. Now we just have to roll it over to the herd."

But just as she spoke, she heard a high, keening call. And it wasn't coming from the Makka in front of them.

Katara shoved the frozen Makka aside. There was another one! It was coming out of the village entrance, and headed directly for them.

Aang's instinctive reaction was always to Airbend. He spun his staff, creating a cyclone of air that caught the Makka. He flicked his staff, and the Makka blew high up in the air. It landed with an earthshaking splat that would have pulverized the bones of any normal creature. But after a few moments, the Makka pulled itself to its feet. It shook its head in bewilderment, and then loped away from Aang and Katara, toward the sea.

"Hey, I drove it away!" Aang said.

"But it's heading straight for the others!" Katara said. "Listen, you take this Makka to the Arctic hippos. I'll take care of the other one."

"Are you sure you'll be okay?" Aang asked.

Katara nodded.

"Okay," he said. "I'll see you again at the herd."

Katara turned, and started toward the sea. She created an icy path she could skate along much more quickly than she could run, hoping that she could reach Appa and the warriors before it was too late.

But by the time she came within sight of the place where they'd landed, the Makka was already there. Katara sped up as much as she could. She could see that Appa was in the ocean, with several figures on his back. But there was a person lying down in the snow, with another person standing in front of them. And the Makka was advancing.

"No!" Katara cried. She sped up. She could see now that the person fallen in the snow was one of the male warriors, and the person standing between him and the Makka was Nasuk. She started to bring up snow, melting it and fashioning it into a water whip. But before she could form it, two things happened. The Makka reached Nasuk. But Nasuk pushed out with his arms, as if he were warding off the creature. And, with his movements, the snow in front of him was thrown into the Makka's face.

The Makka reared its head back and snorted. It was only delayed by a second. But that was long enough for Katara's whip to reach it.

When she lashed it, the Makka turned toward her. Quickly, Katara pulled water from the ocean and engulfed the Makka in it, suspending the creature so that it could barely move. It wasn't a move she could sustain for long, but it gave Nasuk enough time to cover the fallen warrior with snow and run over to her.

"What happened?" he asked.

"There were two of them," Katara said grimly. "What happened to you? And since when can you Waterbend?"

"Kautya thought he could defeat it," Nasuk said, ignoring her second question. "It flung him ten feet. I thought maybe I could get us into the ocean, but--"

"Okay," Katara said. "First, we've got to lure it away from Kautya. Then we have to get it to the Arctic hippos, if we can."

"How are we going to do that?" Nasuk said. "Have you seen how fast that thing moves?"

Katara winced; she could feel her hold on the Makka weakening already. "Listen, I can freeze it for a few minutes at a time," she said. "We'll have to leave a trail for it."

It was a dangerous game. They had to go in a wide circle around the village, for fear that the Makka might retreat into it. The Makka could run much faster than they could, and it was constantly catching up. At first, Katara froze the Makka whenever it got too close, but Waterbending became less effective as the sun rose. Then Nasuk got the idea to drop pieces of clothing in the Makka's path to slow it down.

"It'll stop to eat them, right?" he said, dropping his gloves on the ground.

"I just hope we have enough clothes for it," Katara said, glancing worriedly at the Makka frozen only a few yards behind them.

Finally, they saw Aang circling in the sky above them in his flyer.

"The herd is up ahead, and the Makka isn't far behind you," he said as he landed. "It should be able to smell the hippos from here. I think if we hide in the snow, it'll go to them and not to us." He frowned. "Hey, weren't you wearing more than that before?"

"We used our clothes to slow it down," Katara said, pulling off one boot. She threw it in the direction of the herd.

Aang was already hollowing out a shelter in the snow. "Is this big enough?" he asked.

Nasuk was already getting into the makeshift shelter. Aang and Katara followed him, covering the top with snow. There, completely silent, they waited for the Makka.

They didn't have to wait long. A minute or two later, they could hear the Makka's snuffling and soft snarls. Katara slipped her hand into Aang's; they gripped each other tightly.

The snuffling grew louder and louder. It stopped for a moment, and then there were the sounds of tearing and chewing; the Makka had found Katara's boot. Katara held her breath.

But then there was an eerie high call from the direction of the hippos. The Makka near them echoed the call, so loudly that Katara flinched. There were a few more smacking sounds as it finished the boot, and then it started moving on. The odd rhythm of its footsteps gradually faded, and Katara knew they were safe. When they got out of the shelter, Aang shot a plume of fire as he had promised, and then the three made their way back to the village.

"Why didn't you tell me you could Waterbend?" Katara asked Nasuk. Aang glanced at the boy in surprise, but said nothing.

Nasuk looked away. "I wasn't sure that was what it was," he admitted. "Waterbending is something only people of the Water Tribe can do, right?" He looked back at Katara, golden eyes meeting blue. "I thought maybe I wasn't."

Katara shook her head. "Listen, I'm establishing a Waterbending school, and I'm looking for Waterbenders. People like you. Come to my village in the fall, and I can teach you."

"Katara's a great teacher," Aang said. "She's the one who taught me."

Nasuk nodded. He remained silent for the rest of the walk, clearly lost in thought.

The warriors had made great progress by the time Katara, Aang, and Nasuk returned to the village. They had found or made two sleighs, both of which were half full with salvaged goods. Kautya still looked rather dazed, but he was able to carry around lighter objects.

From time to time, they would hear the sad cries of the Makkas in the distance, which spurred them to hurry. When they finished, they hitched the sleighs to Appa, who walked back to the site of the new village. They reached it around nightfall.

"Aang, Katara, thank you for helping us," Tuka said. All around them, people were celebrating and unloading the sleighs. "Truly you have saved us all."

"You should thank Nasuk too," Katara said. "He saved Kautya and helped us with the Makka."

Tuka glowered. "That boy?"

"Is a hero," Katara said. "And a Waterbender, too. I've invited him to join my school."

"Impossible!" Tuka said. "Someone like him could never be a Waterbender!"

"That's what you always say!"

Katara turned in surprise. Nasuk was standing behind her, his eyes wild. "When will you accept me? What will ever be enough for you?" He turned and stalked off into the darkness.

Katara followed after him. "Nasuk, wait!"

She found him by the river. Nasuk was moving his hands back and forth, making little countercurrents in the water. He didn't say anything when Katara sat down beside him.

"I told you before that I learned Waterbending from Master Pakku," she said. "But what I didn't tell you is that he wouldn't teach me at first."

"He wouldn't?" Nasuk asked. "Why not?"

"In the Northern Water Tribe, women are only supposed to learn healing, but I wanted to learn how to fight too. Aang tried to learn from him and then teach it to me, Master Pakku was so angry when he found out." Katara chuckled.

"But eventually he taught you anyway, right?"

"He did, but it wasn't really because of anything I said or did. It was because he'd known my grandmother. But you know what, Nasuk?"

"What?"

"Even if Master Pakku had never agreed to teach me, I still deserved to learn. Don't let anyone take that away from you." She stood, dusting off her pants. "I'd better go help them unload the sleighs."

"Katara?" Nasuk said before she left.

"Yes?"

"I think I will come to your school."

Katara smiled. "I was hoping you would say that."

"And Katara?"

"Yes?"

"Um, do you have a boyfriend?"

***
"So what did he say?" Aang asked the next morning. In the tumult of unloading everything last night, it was the first time they'd been able to have a conversation alone.

"He's coming!" Katara said. She sat on Appa's head with Aang, as she usually did when they traveled alone. "With the other villages we've visited, this makes six new students."

"You're going to have your hands full," Aang said. "I hope you'll have enough time for me."

Katara smiled. "You'll always be my favorite student," she said. And then she kissed him on the cheek.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)

[personal profile] beccastareyes 2011-02-11 10:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Nice use of folklore, and hints of the war that had happened previously.
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:20 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks!
jibrailis: (avatar -- katara)

[personal profile] jibrailis 2011-02-12 12:42 am (UTC)(link)
ohhhhh, I love this so much. What a great look at Katara and Aang after the end of the series, and how they go on and have more adventures. Fantastic use of mythology -- it really blends seamlessly with the Avatar world, and I love your OCs and how Katara interacts with them; how tender she is with Nasuk, how fierce she is when she is demanding the right of waterbenders to learn their craft. I love this idea of Katara starting a school, of everyone, not just Aang, referring to her as Master Katara. This is so sweet and lovely, and it makes me happy. <3
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:20 am (UTC)(link)
I'm really glad you enjoyed it :D
eruthros: Kataraa from Avatar: TLA fighting with water (Avatar - katara fighting)

[personal profile] eruthros 2011-02-12 08:54 pm (UTC)(link)
This is so much fun1
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:21 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks, and thanks again for the beta :)
michelel72: Sokka (ATLA-Sokka-CrookedSmile)

[personal profile] michelel72 2011-02-13 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, yes, I can absolutely see a village having trouble accepting a youth whose history is so troubling, though no fault of his own. The parallels drawn here with Katara's own history and the use of legendary monsters are brilliant.
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:21 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.
zephre: Pink lotus in evening light, at Longwood Gardens. (Default)

[personal profile] zephre 2011-02-13 03:43 pm (UTC)(link)
beautifully drawn moment that feels totally connected to the show, but also to a reality of warfare that the show didn't dip too far into. Lovely!
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:22 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks so much! I did want it to have the feel of the show, though of course it goes into areas that the show couldn't deal with.
terajk: Ryoga, grabbing Ranma by his pajama-top and shouting: "Do you remember where my house is?!" (katara aang)

[personal profile] terajk 2011-02-15 03:20 am (UTC)(link)
Scary story! Eee!

The Makka remind me a little bit of the creature in the movie Little Otik, which in turn is from a fairy tale. (It's a tree stump that eats everything in sight, including people).

And I want more of your Nasuk, please.
Edited (fixing HTML fail) 2011-02-15 03:20 (UTC)
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:23 am (UTC)(link)
Aw, it looks like a cute movie! I suspect The Thing That Ate Everything is a story you find in many cultures.

I'm glad you liked the fic and Nasuk.
angel_negra: Dax is awesome (Dax)

[personal profile] angel_negra 2011-02-20 01:54 am (UTC)(link)
I liked how you used the Makka, very creepy. And I liked what you did with Nasuk. And how Katara's rebuilding the waterbender traditions of her people. Very nicely done.
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:25 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
livrelibre: DW barcode (Default)

[personal profile] livrelibre 2011-02-20 11:44 pm (UTC)(link)
The Makka is a great, creepy character and this feels like it could have been a story in the series.
jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2011-02-22 03:28 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you. The Makka's actually a bit toned down from the Ogre Baby in the story Ticasuk told >.> I'm glad I was able to keep the creepiness, though.
sinesofinsanity: For use in times of YAY!! (YAY!!)

[personal profile] sinesofinsanity 2011-08-02 02:32 am (UTC)(link)
Awesome <3

I love your depiction of Southern Water tribe being several separate villages. It makes way more sense than a big city if you consider how Arctic people in our world live.

Thanks so much for writing this. :)