Whisper to Scream
Moonlight trickled in through the window, as Kanna sat on her bed and stared at the newly carved betrothal necklace in her hands. She had known this day was coming, but it still hadnt made it any easier to take. If anything, Pakku had been even more arrogant than usual. It was her 16th birthday, yet everything had been about him, his family, and her parents. No one seemed to care about what she thought about anything.
She knew Pakku loved herhe had been taken with her since they were childrenbut she did not love him. Perhaps she could come to love Pakku, but she wasnt ready for all thisfor marriage. Yet, she had no choice.
Her resentment grew.
Her fist tightened around the necklace. Stupid customs, stupid tribe, she thought to herself. If only there was another way. Suddenly, she remembered the stories of their sister tribe at the South Pole. It had been many years since the two tribes had been in contact with each other, but she knew they were different. Women actually could choose for themselves.
Kanna knew what she had to do, and there was no time to spare. There was a ship leaving for the Northern Earth Kingdom at first light. Somehow, she would make it to the Southern Water Tribe. She would have to if she wanted to live the life she dreamed of.
Acting with great urgency, the girl began to gather her belongings in a pack as well as some money. As she was about to leave her room, her eyes fell on the betrothal necklace laying on her bed. Pakku had made this for hercarved it with his own two hands. He was so proud when he gave it to her. She imagined his face at not only finding out that she had left, but had left his gift behind.
She grabbed the necklace and fled.
Under the darkness of the night, Kanna made her way down to the docks where she found the merchant ship she would stowaway on. She wished she could have said goodbye to Yugoda and her other friends, but there wasnt time. If her father found out what she was doing, it would become almost impossible to leave. Sparing one last look at the fortress, Kanna boarded the ship, her heart filled with a mixture of hope and sadness.
It had taken nearly two months, but finally Kanna arrived at the Southern Water Tribe. Her eyes lit up as she departed the ship and stepped down onto the frozen tundra of the South Pole. It felt so good to be walking on snow again. The Southern Tribe was in stark contrast to her home, which was a massive fortress of ice, with large homes and buildings. Everything here was smalleralmost cozier. There was a smaller wall that encased the entire village, but she could make out the small homes that lay within the walls.
A strong hand fell on her shoulder then, drawing her attention away from the sight before her. It belonged to the Top Warrior, Janak, of the tribe, who had been commandeering the ship she had taken from the Southern Earth Kingdom to the South Pole. The man looked down at her with warm, smiling gray eyes. Welcome to the South Pole, his voice boomed jovially as he extended his arms out in front of him. Ill take you to meet with Chief Harkaran to see about getting you settled in here, Kanna.
Thank you, Janak, she replied with a smile.
Kanna followed Janak through the city walls and to the village center. She noticed some of the curious glances she got from many of the villagers as she walked. It wasnt often that they had visitors other than traders, and no one could remember the last time they saw a member of their sister tribe.
Finally, the pair came to entrance the largest building in the entire South Pole. It was a massive igloo that dwarfed the other structures in the village, yet it was nowhere near the size of the palace at the North Pole.
Is this the chiefs palace? Kanna asked.
Janak chuckled. No, this is our village center. Its a gathering place for our people. The chief lives in a home much like the rest of us, the man explained. Come on in, and you can meet the council.
After walking through a long corridor, they arrived in a large hall where the council was seated at a long table, with the chief at center. Kanna was surprised to see women there, and one in particular caught her eyea young woman who looked to be a few years older than herself. She looked a lot like Janak, Kanna thought. Their eyes locked for a few seconds, and Kanna felt herself drawn in by the womans smile.
Chief Harkaran, she heard Janak say.
Janak, he greeted. I trust you had a safe journey.
The man nodded in affirmation. Ive brought someone from our sister tribe up north. I present you with Kanna of the Northern Water Tribe, he said before taking a seat besides the chief.
Welcome, the chief greeted her.
Thank you for meeting with me, Kanna replied, finally tearing her gaze from the gray-eyed woman.
Its been a long time since weve seen anyone from the north. What can we do for you?
I was betrothed to a man that I did not love. I heard things were different at the South Pole, and I would like to make a life here.
Harkaran nodded. I dont see any problem with that. What do you all think? he asked the council. They all agreed to let Kanna stay.
Chief Harkaran, the gray-eyed woman broke in. Id be more than happy to help Kanna get settled. She smiled at the girl, and Kanna found herself returning it.
Theres no better hands you could possible be in besides my daughters, Janak commented.
Then so long as you approve, young Kanna, you will be staying with Hama, the chief stated. Is that alright with you?
Absolutely, Kanna replied, feeling inexplicably happy with this arrangement.
Kanna watched Hama lead a groups of female waterbenders through their katas in awe. Hama had noticed the girl watching her, and so when she finished leading them through the basic series, the woman decided to do a demonstration. It never hurts to show off a little bit, she thought with a smile.
She lifted her arms, bending the snow around her. Her movements were strong yet graceful as she manipulated her element. The snow moved around her as if in a dance. Her display went on for several minutes, each form more difficult than the last. She caught the look of rapt fascination on Kannas face as she brought her demonstration to a close.
That was incredible! Kanna exclaimed as Hama approached her, and the waterbender broke out into a wide grin.
They never let the women of the Northern Water Tribe waterbend like that, Kanna sighed, her tone growing more serious.
They didnt let women do a whole lot of anything up there, did they? Hama asked as the two began to walk back toward Hamas modest home.
Not by choice, at least, Kanna said.
Do you ever miss home? Hama asked as she pulled back the flap of her tent to let Kanna inside.
No, because I am home, Kanna replied, gazing intently at Hama. The waterbender let the flap fall behind her as something passed through them. She was unable to look away as the younger girl took a step closer. All my life, Ive been told what to do. It feels so good to finally have a choice.
Hama was unable to speak as Kanna reached up with her hand, brushing her fingers along the side of her face.
I know you feel it too, Kanna said. Ive seen the way you look at me. And then Kanna leaned forward and pressed her lips against Hamas.
Happy birthday, Hama said, presenting her Kanna with a silver ring with tribal knots engraved in it.
Oh, Hama, its beautiful, Kanna replied, admiring the gift.
The waterbender then slipped the ring onto the younger girls finger before clasping both of their hands together. Hama leaned in, resting her forehead against Kannas, eyes searching for a moment.
I love you, Kanna whispered with a smile.
I love you too, Hama replied softly before kissing Kanna. Their kisses were long and drawn out, the passion between them growing steadily until hands began to roam. Hama felt hands slip inside her kimono and broke away for a moment. Are you sure?
Kanna nodded. Ive never been more sure of anything in my life. She kissed her soon to be lover, pulling the other girls kimono away and drawing their bodies closer. I want to make love to you, she whispered hotly in her ear.
Hama shivered with happiness.
Hama spotted Kanna lifting a pot, which undoubtedly held the food that would make up that evenings meal. Smiling, she quickened her pace to reach the other girl.
Hey, Kanna said with a soft smile as Hama approached her.
Hey, Hama replied. I just finished speaking with Toba. His polar bear dog just had a litter, and he said we could have one of the pups.
Kannas face lit up, and Hama laughed. I know youve wanted one, so
Her train of thought was abruptly derailed by the snow that began to fall around them. Something was off about itit was black.
Her lovers smile faded as she dropped the pot she was holding. The pair ran toward the village wall and up the steps. They were met with the sight of five Fire Nation warships. So far, their people had been spared in the war that had presumably annihilated the Air Nomads and taken a heavy hit on the Earth Kingdom.
I want you to go somewhere safe, Hama urged Kanna.
Kannas eyes were filled with worry. What about you?
Ill fight them off with the other benders and warriors.
Before Kanna could protest, the warships launched a series of firebombs that flew over their heads and struck the village. Several tents caught on fire.
Hama pulled Kanna in for a fierce kiss before breaking away. Go, now! With those words, the waterbender was off, ready to face the Fire Nation soldiers now making their way into the village.
She fought hard, taking down a half dozen soldiers. The raiders launched nets at the waterbenders in an effort to capture them. Hama watched as Tabo was caught in a net and dragged helplessly along the snow. She shot out an ice blade to free the man, but it was met with a fiery blast before it could make contact. She had to act fast to avoid being caught in the net coming at her. She sliced through it with a water blade.
And almost as quickly as the raid began, it was over. But the Water Tribe felt the loss of its brothers and sisters.
That night, Hama made loved to Kanna with more passion and fervor than ever before. They had both come so close to being ripped apart. Every touch was filled with gratitude and intensity. Hama poured all her love into every kiss. Whispered promises screamed every word.
The Fire Nation wont stop until theyve captured all of us, Hama said as they lay together in bed one night. Im the only waterbender left.
Kanna tightened her grip on her lover.
If something should happen to me, I want you to find someone else. Live a full and happy life.
Nothing is going to happen to you. I wont let it! There was fire in Kannas eyes. Youre mine, she declared.
She spent the rest of the night proving it to her lover.
The raiders had come again. Hama was outnumbered, but she did everything she could to fight them off. It wasnt enough, and soon she was surrounded by firebenders.
Surrender now, or else well start killing the other villagers, their leader ordered.
With a heavy heart, the waterbender lowered her hands in defeat and the raiders closed in. They shackled her in front of what remained of her tribe. She shared a brief look with her father, who stood next to her lover.
Kanna, she whispered.
No, Hama! Kanna shouted, running toward her. Two soldiers shot streams of fire at her, and Janak grabbed the hood of her parka, pulling her away from the flames just in time.
Stay back! a soldier yelled at the villagers. Or else we wont be taking any prisoners today.
Immediately, Kanna stayed put, not wanting to put Hama or any of the other villagers in danger. But her heart was breaking. There were tears in her blue eyes as Hama was led onto the raiders ship. Hamas brave façade finally cracked, as her own tears flowed down her cheeks, but she didnt break the gaze she held with her lover until the ships gangplank went up.
Kanna held their polar bear puppy in her arms. As if sensing her distress, he nuzzled against her face. She ran her fingers through his thick white fur and began to cry. I miss her, San.
Hama shivered in her cage as she closed her eyes, trying to shut out the memory of what had just happened. The guards had been relentless, going for hours, taking turns with her as if she were nothing more than a piece of meat. They had even called her that, and forced her to say it herself upon threat of even worse treatment. She could still feel their hands touching and grabbing her in places they never shouldplaces that only Kanna had touched.
Kanna stared at the nearly empty bottle of sake in her hands before closing her eyes. Three years, she thought sadly.
A warm hand rested on top of hers before procuring the bottle from her hands. I think weve had enough, Kanna, came the voice of the chieftains son. She looked up at him then to see the man smiling at her with gray eyes. Eyes so much like Hamas.
Ajan then took a seat beside her. They sat in silence for several moments, both lost in their own thoughts. Finally, the warrior spoke. Maybe this isnt the best time to tell you this
spirits know Ive probably had too much to drink tonight
but if I dont say it now, I dont know if I ever will.
Kanna looked at the man curiously as he took her hands in his and looked at her intently.
Im in love with you, Kanna.
She closed her eyes. It had been so long since shed felt the touch of someone who loved her. So long since she could just lose herself. She wanted to feel something other than sadness againjust for a little while.
Kanna opened her eyes. She could almost see Hama looking back at her with those loving gray eyes. Fueled by the sake, she leaned forward and kissed Ajan hard.
An elephant rat ran over Hamas leg one night during a full moon. At first she barely paid it any mind, too weak to really care. They often came to her cell, looking for scraps from the meager meals the prisoners were given. The small creature continued to run through her cage. She observed it with a clinical eye for long moments before it occurred to her that it was filled with water. All living things were.
Years ago, such a thought would never have crossed her mind, but it was hard to feel empathy anymore. The men and women in the cages around her had given up completely. They were forbidden to speak to each other or else they would face wicked beatings or worse. Every time Hama was violated by the guards, she felt a piece of her heart die. It became harder to remember her home, her family, her love. The only time she felt anything resembling hope was during the full moon. It strengthened her desire to find a way to escape and exact revenge on the men who had tortured her.
And so she attempted to harness the liquid inside the elephant rat. The creature stopped dead in its tracks. Hama furrowed her brow in concentration, trying to manipulate the blood within.
Im pregnant, Kanna told the newly appointed chief. It was the first time theyd spoken since that fateful night. Ajan stared at her wide-eyed.
Kanna, Ajan finally began. You know the scandal this will become once word gets out.
I know, she replied. I dont want you to have to go through that. We can avoid the scandal by getting married.
But, Kanna, you dont love me.
But I do care for you, Ajan. Youve always been a good friend to me.
Then I will continue to be a good friend to you, he said, placing a hand on the womans belly. And I will be a good father for our child.
It had taken her five years, but Hama had finally learned to completely control the elephant rats that would wander into her cage during the full moon. She knew it would take her much longer to control another human being, but it was only a matter of time. She would escape.
A guard smacked the side of her crate with his club and leered at her as he passed by her cage.
Her eyes narrowed at the man. And she would make them all pay for what they had done to her.
Kanna stood outside her home and gazed up at the moon, recalling the beautiful display of waterbending Hama would do under the same moon. Soon her thoughts turned to the conversations held in the dark and the lovemaking they shared. Is she even still alive?
Suddenly, a small hand grabbed onto hers and tugged. Kanna brought her gaze down to look at her five-year-old son. What is it, Hakoda? she asked.
You look sad. I dont want you to be sad, Mom.
She smiled at him thenher little warrior. Im just remembering.
Kanna could not find the words to explain to her son. My best friend, my lover, my laughter, my heart. She was everything to me. Finally, she spoke. My everything, Hakoda. Im remembering my everything.
It had been a long timenearly 20 yearsbut tonight it would come to an end. No longer would she be a prisoner of the Fire Nation. The rays of the full moon trickled into the prison holding, filling Hama with an extraordinary power.
Then she saw him, that horrible prison guard who had forced himself on her so many times she lost count. As he approached her cage, Hama lifted her arms, gaining control over the blood in his body. She could see the fear in his eyes as she twitched her fingers, causing his body to jerk unnaturally. She smiled at his fright as his own hand moved against his will to the keys at his belt. Suddenly, he was dragged forward toward Hamas cage. He placed the key into the lock and turned.
The cage door opened and Hama released her hold on the man, causing him to drop harshly against the walkways floor. The waterbender jumped out of her cell then, her legs a bit wobbly from so many years inside that cage. If not for the full moons power, she doubted shed be able to walk at all.
Hama watched as the guard tried to get up, put she forced him back down. Memories of the countless hours she spent at his mercy flooded through her. Her eyes glowed with sadistic pleasure at the fear she was inducing in him. To be violatedto be at her will. She would make him suffer, and suffer he did.
The waterbender killed at least a dozen men that night. And even as she walked to freedom, she could not feel anything but vengeance. The Fire Nation had stolen everything from her. She would continue to fight against them, just as they had done to her and her people.
I cant believe Kyas gone, Hakoda wept as he clung to his mother. She was everything to me.
I know, son. I know what its like, she said, running a comforting hand over his back. I lost the love of my life nearly 50 years ago during the first raids.
The man glanced up in surprise at her. You mean, before Dad
Yes, before your father, there was someone else. The greatest waterbender in our tribe. When they took her, I didnt want to go on without her.
What changed? he asked.
You came into my life, my warrior. You became my hope. Just like Katara and Sokka are yours. They will give you all the strength you ever need. Love them, Hakoda.
Fresh tears came to the mans eyes as he embraced his mother.
I will, mother. I will.
Sometimes in the stillness of the night, Hama would remember the life she was forced to leave behind all those years ago. If she closed her eyes, she could almost make out the passion burning in blue eyes of her former lovercould hear her whispering I love you.
She wanted to scream. The Fire Nation took it all awayripped her away from the only person who ever touched her with tenderness. Soon she was filled with nothing but a burning hatred for the country that gave birth to people who would act so inhuman.
She looked up at the moon and was reminded of her own power. She would fight back, with any means necessary.