|The Fire nation has been a strange place since the war. People are so fearful to step on the toes of the other nations. As the nation became more and more set apart from the rest of world, it became hard to make a living for some. People who relied on commerce and trade from the other nations were left wanting as they were unable to receive it as the isolation of the country became wider and wider.
This was especially true for those who lived in the inland areas as they not only relied on the other nations for their livelihoods but also those who lived on the coasts and relied on the other nations. There was a simple set up of trade before; the inland citizens farmed the land, then traded with the merchants on the coasts and those merchants traded with the other nations and then traded back with those inland again. This system was quite effective while it lasted.
However, once the nation became isolated from the others; this balance of affairs was thrown to the side. The people who lived on the coasts began to rely solely on those inland to supply food. While normally this would sound good as the farms would sell more product; it wasn’t. There simply wasn’t enough farmland to sustain the entire nation. As such, the fishing industry began to boom in order to make up for this deficit.
Surprisingly, it did. However, it began to become too strong in comparison. Those on the coasts began to buy less and less from those inland as they could simply buy from the people in the same city as them. As such, the inland farmers began to have to rely on subsistence to survive. They ended up isolated from the rest of their country that was already isolated itself. This was also true for Kaien’s family.
His father, Ganki, and his father before him were both farmers. Their family had ties to the inlands since before the genocide of the air nomads. When his family’s livelihood became a problem Ganki decided he had to do everything he could to save his family. He lived in a small building with his young son and his wife, Seile. As Kaien was their only child, they both strove to make his life better than it seemed fated to be.
For a time, they were able to sustain themselves fine and give Kaien a decent, albeit simple life. However, one day Seile became ill. Originally they believed it to be something simple but things progressed much faster than they had anticipated. Living so far from any major form of civilization, there wasn’t anyone capable of treating her. As her illness progressed even further she fell into a comatose state and before long drew her last. Kaien was still too young to really understand it all but his father took it very hard.
Kaien life became much more difficult from this point on. He was forced to begin to work with his father in the fields much younger than normal. As he grew up, he found himself resenting his own people. This place he lived in seemed to forsake those that lived in the inland areas. He even began to resent his father for settling for the life they had. It wasn’t long before he and some of the other youths in the area began to travel toward the coasts and steal supplies.
In a mixture of naivety and childishness, he left his home and found himself claiming to be a bandit in the fire nation. Soon, he and his accomplices had made a name for themselves. The continued their pillage of the nation for a while before their actions became too noticeable to the authorities of the fire nation who were thusly dispatched to capture them. Hearing of this they dispersed and retreated to their former homes. Now 19, he returned to a home he hadn’t seen in five years. Dressed in his now signature coat, he approached the lane that led up to his childhood home.
As he walked down it, he noticed a man tilling the fields. A bit awkwardly he approached the man and was about to call out before he turned to him. He had expected the face of his father but was met with the face of a stranger. “Can I help you, son?” the man asked. A bit reserved, Kaien replied conservatively, “Uhh…yeah, I-er, I used to live here you see an--” The man cut him off and interjected, “Wait, are you Kaien!?” Shocked that the man knew his name he simply shook his head in affirmation. “Come with me, quickly!” the man beckoned as he turned and walked toward the house without waiting for a response.
Following the man, as they approached the house, the man spoke once more, “Oh, I guess I’m your relative by the way; though a bit estranged.” Kaien remained silent as the man continued. “You see, your mother was my sister-in-law,” he said as he opened the door and motioned for Kaien to step inside, “Wanting to reconnect with our family after moving away before your birth, we came here.” Kaien followed him in, a clear look of interest on his face.
He directed him to the back of the house, “Well, once we arrived we found your father. He explained what had happened to your mother and that you had left the home.” Has they got to the back of the house he pointed to a room with a cracked door, “And well, I guess you should go and talk.” Still silent, Kaien hesitantly pressed the door open and continued. He instantly recognized his father who was lying stretched out on a bed, clearly ill. “Dad!” he finally spoke as he lurched forward toward him. “Ssson,” he gasped out at him, clearly stressed to speak, “Iiii kneww you’d come.”
Unable to hold them back, tears ran down his face as he grasped his father’s hand. “Don’t worry, I’mmm ok,” he said as a smile tore at his face, masking the clear pain. “Oh, I finnally d-did iit,” he said as he attempted to reach for an envelope on the table beside him. Seeing him struggle, Kaien snatched it up rather than continuing to watch him. “I alwaysss wannted to give you a b-better life,” he said as he curled his arm back inward. Kaien opened the envelope to find a ticket. He instantly knew what it was for; it was a ticket to Republic City and to become a part of the Citizenship Project.
“I-I’m not lonng for this world,” he said as her began to cry as well, “But you cann have a b-better life than I could have ever had; and I know y-you can’t stay hhere any lon--” He began to cough heavily. As he did, the other man stepped into the room quickly and helped him sit up to clear his breathing. He uncle then turned to him, “You need to go. We know they’re after you; they were here the other day.” Kaien seemed alarmed instantly. “If you don’t go now, they will be back and we both know he doesn’t want that,” he said as he helped Ganki back to down.
Kaien nodded and embraced his father for the first time in a very long time, “I love you,” he whispered as his tears began to completely cover his face. His father kissed him and then pushed him away, knowing it was the only way to protect his son. In the next instant, Kaien was running out the door and down the lane. The next day he found himself at one of the ports he had stolen from many times over. Covering himself as to not be seen, he found his way to the ship that would take him. He boarded it and once it departed, he watched his home shrink smaller and smaller until it vanished into the distance. The next memories he’d make would be in a new place, Republic City.