You move to this new city when it is first established, a wonderful city, one that is revolutionary. One that defines the new technological boom of the decades following the war.

You hear of its beloved ruler who does not want to be known as a figure of power, but rather like a loving mother, like how she is to her own family. She treats her citizens like they are very much the part. You see how she regularly visits the city to talk to her citizens and let them weigh in on how the city is run. A true democracy, like the united lands to your northwest, but she is much smarter than that idiot president.

You reside as days go by, under the benevolent woman's control, a far contrast from the radio reports you get out of the capital, under the control of a monarch who, quite the contrary to your city's autonomous head, loves to show her power and boss her servants around. She loves her treasure far more than her people. You thank the spirits every night you live in a city independent of the disgusting queen. You subscribe to your adopted mother's opinion that her rule is outdated, along with their descendants.

Simply put, you love your city. You feel safe in your city. You know it is protected by an elite guard of the best earth and metalbenders anyone could find, original students of the greatest earthbender in the world.

Not even the evil airbender and his little group of dangerous benders, sneaking in to capture the Avatar, shake you. It is just a slip by the guards, you believe.

When those benders topple the oppressive queen and set off anarchy in the capital, which spreads through the kingdom, still, you do not fear. Not like the queen's overthrow worries you anyway. Sure, you would like a settled ruler for the nation, but does it really matter? You have the benevolent matriarch, you have your city well-protected, you are out of the monarchy's influence, what's the problem?

Upon her guard captain taking off with some other guards, citizens, your city's technological mastermind, you start to worry a bit. You quickly dismiss it though; she is just there to restabilize the kingdom. The world leaders support her, even if your benevolent matriarch does not. You trust the guard captain to get it all under control and come back victorious.

You will be right...

You just don't think it will happen in the way it will...

You go about your life as you normally do over the next three years, arriving home from work, hearing the evening news bulletins as you prepare for dinner.

You hear seemingly the same lead story:

"Her efforts have brought this once anarchic village under control!"

"The city is now in order!"

"Bandits are no chance for her mecha suits and tanks."

"Leaders blessed to have her in their area."

"Citizens of the city now with adequate food!"

You think the best for the former guard captain, it appears on the surface all is well. The kingdom is slowly stabilizing while your metal city remains untouched. Any risk to your home is slowly fading as she brings everything under control.

You're glad to have had this woman in the city's guard. Now she's moved up to guarding the Earth Kingdom.

You wish your benevolent matriarch had gone along, now as days pass by, you wonder why she did not come along and help. You just remain glad, nonetheless, to be under her rule - you may have some disappointment, but it does not equate disrespect.

You remain thankful for your home. How did you get so lucky?

You don't want to believe the rumors the first time they leak into the city's mainstream. You refuse to believe the Great Uniter is no worse than a power-hungry dictator over her people, worse than the disgusting, outdated monarch. She was your matriarch's protégée, standing by her side.

You refuse to believe that woman could now be silencing dissent, building internment camps for anyone who opposes her, treating concerned citizens like they were criminal scum. That's not who she is, that's not what she learned.

You believe it is impossible.

The evening news you tend to trust, you begin to doubt when they report on these rumors one night.

You believe there's no doubt that the Great Uniter is a true student of the best ruler the Earth Kingdom may ever know.

Soon, you hear how people are leaving her territories and headed to anywhere that's open, away from the guard captain's leadership. They're getting onto your favorite radio programs, the evening news, giving quotes to the town's newspaper, and reporting all the same. They're saying they've escaped her camps, her custody, and reporting what happens to the concerned citizens of her territory.

They give the same general story along these lines:

"At first she gave us everything we needed - food supplies previously stripped of us, defense against roving bandit gangs, restored housing. But when we grew concerned over her militaristic control and began to express it - we awoke one night to her soldiers at our door. The next thing we knew, we were on trains bound for her prison. We received little food, worked almost the entire 24 hours with little time to break, and were forcibly educated about how the Great Uniter was just that and nothing more."

The testimonies mount from more of her defectors - some citizens, some from her own army, and what have you.

Now the doubt creeps in.

More and more presenting this dystopian view of what you suspected was a utopia.

But you're still safe in your own little city.

There's no way she would think to do this to her de facto family...

Now is the time to be fully disturbed.

The evening news leads their bulletin with "Attempted coup - world leaders left in dismay after Kuvira declares a new Earth Empire and the abolition of the kingdom. King Wu deemed as illegitimate. The 'Great Uniter', as she is called, said in a speech at Wu's coronation today that she would lead a new Earth Empire solely under her control, threatening to crush anyone who crossed her borders."

It is true - she wants power.

You realize that your little city is the only one in the kingdom that remains outside her control.

You're also, sadly, a little too aware that the Avatar has not been seen for three years.

You know all this is unchecked save for some confused world leaders.

Now you suspect the worst.

As you go on about your day, the radio interrupts your song and dance.

"This is the Emergency Broadcast Network. We have just received word that Kuvira's army is now at the outskirts of the city. At this time, the domes surrounding this city will be sealed and no residents shall be allowed in or out. You are advised to limit your outdoor activities to only the necessary in the risk of a full-scale invasion. At this time, Kuvira will be speaking with Suyin Beifong regarding the city's fate. Stay tuned to this station for further updates."

Heeding the bulletin, you seal the doors to your home.

As you hunker up, you begin to wonder what happened.

How did this guard captain go so wrong?

Why did no one do anything to stop her?

Could your benevolent matriarch had done something to end this madness?

The world leaders, did they see anything wrong with what she was doing?

Weren't the ever-increasing musings and apparent defections enough?

How could everyone miss this?

Couldn't you have said something? Your leader always sees her citizens, could it not have been you who addressed these concerns when you had the chance?

Could you have made a difference?

Questions you seem to be asking yourself just a bit too late...

The words blare across the sound system, shattering your heart.

For the first time, you feel all-out fear.

Nary a shred of confidence remains as you are informed that your leader attempted to capture the uniter, but instead found herself detained.

Your last hope is the returned Avatar, but you aren't even sure about her, she hasn't done anything of note in three years. No one even knew if she was alive for the longest time.

And as feared, she cannot take down the enemy.

You are forced to watch in fear as the army marches into the city, officially toppling any sign of your benevolent matriarch, now under arrest.

You can't believe your eyes.

Was this not supposed to be the safest city in the world?

Was it not to be prepared for something like this?

Was it not meant to be conquered by some outside army?

This was not what you dreamed of.

You are no longer a citizen, you know.

You are now a prisoner.

You are now in a nightmare.

You have one last decision to make.

When she makes her speech and her fiancé tells you all to bow before your rightful leader, you refuse.

You believe she is illegitimate.

You refuse to bow to this power-hungry dictator.

This is not what your home is about.

This is what you wanted to escape.

You don't want any part of this.

This is not a family.

This is not what you came here for.

This dictator is no benevolent matriarch who now is ensnared in unbreakable bonds.

As you're lead away to a re-education and labor facility, you could care less that you're about to suffer.

As the hours go on in the factory,

as the classes take place in any daytime break,

as the meals grow meager,

as you're crammed with so many others in one small room,

you suddenly hear this from someone.

It all falls into perspective like a puzzle, like the moment you snap up and realize where some missing pieces go, the whole thing just becomes clear.

All too clear.

"First they came for the citizens of Ba Sing Se,
and I did nothing because I am not a citizen of Ba Sing Se."

"Then they came for the citizens of Omashu,
and I did nothing because I am not a citizen of Omashu."

"Then they came for the citizens of Kyoshi Island,
and I did nothing because I am not a citizen of Kyoshi Island."

"Then they came for us,
and there was nothing to do because we were the only ones left."

You had the chance.

You did nothing.

All you have left is to hope the Great Uniter makes a wrong move or someone does something, somewhere.

You just have to wait...

and hope.

Hope that someone did the something you didn't do.

Author's notes Edit

  • In the end is something you may have already recognized, but if you did not, that is the famous Holocaust "First they came..." speech, which is attributed typically to the late German pastor Martin Niemöller.