Title: Through the Woods
Character: Mai, Jet, Freedom Fighters
Summary: Mai's trip to Omashu is delayed. AU
Mai had expected the long journey to meet with her parents in Omashu to be tedious to a point as of yet unreached. She'd been mostly right, until the carriage driver took a short cut through a massive forest, and those always end splendidly. The man had a plan to make it to some tiny village so she wouldn't have to sleep in the carriage overnight; he knew she disliked that.
But it was just one of those things where plans don't go exactly as planned.
So now she was being mugged, and the carriage driver might be dead because the yelling had stopped. She didn't know for sure, and if she survived this and not one moment before, then she would care. Who else was going to ride behind those smelly animals and get this thing to move?
The door was ripped off, and a hulking, rather dopey-looking - in her opinion - male ducked down to peer inside at her. Her face was the same as ever, and her hands were filled with steel.
"Hey, Jet! Got another one."
The giant backed away, and a bushy-headed peasant with a piece of nature in his mouth, crooked up into a smile. Or a sneer. He made it hard to tell.
"Well, well, we got a real Fire Nation dainty here. Why don't you come on out and meet the boys?"
The carriage was wooden - considering it was supposed to have been made in the Fire Nation, that made little sense, but whatever. If she fired a dart or three in between his eyes now, she didn't know how many 'boys' he had - although she was confident that she had a knife for each of them. Time and advantage would be wasted with having to get out of the carriage, spot them all, then take them out before they recovered in time to hit her with a rock or whatever these people used. Although Twig Boy had two shiny, pointy hook things...swords...whatever.
"If you insist..."
There was an expectant pause, where no one did anything.
"I meant, only if you actually insist. Otherwise, I have stuff to do that doesn't involve you."
"A comedian. Cute."
He was a fast one; she had to credit him with that, at least. He reached in with a hook sword, the curving tip of one touching the nape of her neck.
"Insistent enough for you?"
She let the knives rest where they were for the moment and unhurriedly made her way out of the carriage. As she suspected, there were more peasant bandits lurking about. A casual glance revealed a very short boy(?) with a helmet, an archer lounging in a tree, and of course, the charming Twiggy. Once her feet were on the ground, he sheathed the blade at his side with a flourish that was meant to impress.
She imagined woodland hicks everywhere fawned over that trick.
Oh, and there was the driver...on the ground...not moving...maybe he just had a concussion. People could still drive with concussions, right?
"So, on your way to meet family or a husband, maybe?"
She looked him over, head to toe to the piece of grass hanging out of his mouth.
"You're not my type."
"On that, we can agree. But see, I figure a girl riding around in her own carriage, personal driver, and as much coin as we found with you, you come from money. How much do you think you're worth to your people?"
Her people? Well, her parents had Tom-Tom and Omashu, Zuko was no longer an option to ensure the family's further political advancement, so probably not much. If Azula bothered to work herself into an outrage, she'd probably set the forest on fire, with Mai still captive in one of these stank trees.
Either way, it seemed she was going to die in a tree.
It took her a moment to realize that Twig Boy was staring impatiently.
"...I missed my cue, didn't I? Just do your part again, and I'll come in this time."
His blade sunk into the wood of the carriage next to her head, and as he glared at her with just pure hate in his eyes, he had no idea how close he came to spilling his guts onto the forest floor. He was lucky Mai wasn't the jittery type. He leaned in close, their faces inches apart. Mai assumed he was either trying to be intimidating or provoke her to stab him. She was leaning more towards the latter.
"We're not just some refugee kids playing games in the forest. Unless your suicidal, your life is dependent on you realizing that, you disgusting piece of Fire Nation trash."
Her eyes watered, and she blinked the tears away.
"Do you..." she raised her sleeve to her nose, "Do you own a tooth brush?"
His eyebrow and his mouth did this weird twitching thing, and he yanked the sword out of the tree along with a sizable chunk of wood.
"Smellerbee, search her, tie her, and gag her then have Pipsqueak take her up."
"Got it, boss."
The boss...No, that just wasn't going to work for her. Twig Boy sent her glare - he seemed a bit aggravated for some reason- as he went around to the other side of the carriage. There was a really short gir - bo...person walking towards her, a knife in its hand. Mai's first thought was hers were bigger.
"So you must be Pipsqueak then?"
"Nah," it jerked a thumb behind it, to that massive blob of humanity that kindly opened the door for her before. "That's Pipsqueak."
Huh. Earth Kingdom peasants were aware of irony. Her parents barely even seemed to get that. Between that and driving Twig Boy up a tree, this could prove an interesting diversion.