At the age of eight, Katara is taken from the Southern Water Tribe and locked away in a Fire Nation prison, where she learns bloodbending under the tutelage of a woman named Hama. Three years later, she discovers the Avatar and starts to tutor him in secret.
This AU story was supposed to have spanned the whole show, exploring how events would've gone down if Katara had been taken by the Southern Raiders and locked away with the other Southern waterbenders - well, those who have survived the many decades in the waterbender prison. Hama obviously hasn't escaped in this AU, and teaches Katara all about bloodbending. Long story short, the first - and only - chapter is about how the waterbenders break out of the prison and return to the South Pole. The story may not be "complete" in the sense of how the author planned things to go, but the first and only chapter feels standalone enough to be a satisfying oneshot.
The story can be read here.
- Abusive Parents: Because Katara is locked up in the same cage as her, Hama takes the young child under her wing. And forces her to learn bloodbending, often punishing her disobedience and defiance by bloodbending the poor child.
- Affably Evil: The Fire Nation guards give Katara a small amount of extra rations to eat during meal times, but Hama is not wrong when she says that deep down they would kill Katara if it came to it. Hama herself is also this.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Even after everything, Katara laments the fact that Hama never got to return home with the rest of the surviving waterbenders.
- Asshole Victims: The prison guards killed via bloodbending.
- Ax-Crazy: Hama.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Hama forces Katara to learn bloodbending. Though see The Dog Bites Back.
- Barefoot Captives: The waterbender prisoners.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Played straight with Hama. Defied with Katara and the other waterbenders.
- Big Brother Instinct: Sokka towards Katara. Not that she wants it in the end.
- Bittersweet Ending: The waterbender prisoners all escape and make it back to the South Pole. But Katara's innocence is gone, and she had to kill an Ax-Crazy Hama.
- Break the Cutie: Katara.
- Child Soldiers: Sokka is painfully aware that he is this.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: A Tear Jerker example. Even after spending four years locked up in a cage, wearing only prison rags, Katara still hasn't gotten used to having her hair hang loose and unkempt, occasionally forgetting the fact that she no longer has ties and clips to keep her hair in place.
- Darker and Edgier: In the paraphrased words of a reviewer, Katara learns bloodbending at a young age, and has her hatred for the Fire Nation multiplied by her imprisonment. If the story is continued, this certainly will have some negative consequences.
- Also, bloodbending is used to its fullest potential to kill.
- The Dog Bites Back: After the waterbenders break out of the prison, Hama tries to force them all to follow her, preparing to bloodbend them. Unfortunately for her, Katara sees this coming and kills her with bloodbending first - the very skill that Hama forced upon the young child.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Katara hates it when Sokka tries to comfort her when she and the other waterbenders finally return to the South Pole.
- For Want of a Nail: The oneshot definitely entertains this possibility. Mainly, what if Katara was imprisoned by the Fire Nation before the events of the show took place. There are several main ways this affects the timeline.
- The other Southern waterbenders are freed from the prison and return home to the South Pole, which means that Katara has mentors to teach her normal waterbending.
- Katara learns bloodbending before the events of the show, and if the oneshot is continued, she will go on to teach Aang the skill.
- Because of the years that she spent in prison, Katara has a much stronger hatred for the Fire Nation.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Hama tells Katara that once they escape, any kindness that the guards used to show towards the young girl will vanish and be replaced with cruelty.
- Kick the Dog: Hama bloodbending Katara. Enough said.
- Mama Bear / Papa Wolf: When Hama tries to force the other waterbenders to become her disciples, they refuse and instantly shield the young Katara behind them.
- My Greatest Failure: Sokka failing to prevent Katara's capture.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Katara makes Hama stay until they've freed all the other waterbenders.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: Katara experiences this when she returns to the South Pole after years of imprisonment in the Fire Nation. This is in contrast to the happier reactions of the other liberated waterbender prisoners.
- Tailor-Made Prison: As in the show, the waterbenders are kept in cages suspended off the ground, far away from water. And they are given only the bare minimum of food and water to survive.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Even after all the suffering she went through in prison, Katara doesn't have it in her to kill the prison guards. Averted when she deals with Hama, though.
- Took A Level In Cynicism: Katara's innocence and childhood is pretty much non-existent at the end of the story.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Katara kills Hama (albeit in self-defense), and at the end shows resentment towards Sokka for coddling her.
- Worthy Opponent: Defied. Katara bitterly notes that there wasn't enough guards to contain a massive prison break - meaning that the Fire Nation thought that the waterbenders would pose so little a threat once imprisoned.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- Hama warns Katara that when they break out of their cage, the prison guards won't be merciful to them if they're caught, even though Katara is only a child.
- Though hypocritically, Hama bloodbends Katara to force her to learn bloodbending.