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|More from Webdog177||Adventure, Drama||PG-13||Here||Pending|
|The War Begins|
Genocide of the Air Nomads
August 10, 2013
|"This comet has been coming to our sky every hundred years, and for a length of time, the energy of the comet gives firebenders great power. Each firebender will gain the power of one hundred soldiers. It will be during this time we will begin our war"|
|— Sayuka Huoken|
Doppelganger: The Hundred Year War
Genocide of the Air Nomads Saga
"General Kozlon!" The call came from a fair distance behind the tactical table. There were not many people in the room, so everyone heard. "The meeting will begin soon."
Kozlon, who was in mid-conversation with a sergeant about the recent raids by insurgents, faltered slightly in his query. After a moment, he began speaking again. "And what of the group out of Kanzei?" He asked the sergeant.
"Uh... sir?" The sergeant stumbled, throwing his gaze to the young lieutenant that had interrupted the conversation.
"My ears work fine, Sergeant. I ask again. What of the Kanzei group?"
"Uh... well, the group has made continuous raids on outposts in the region, so nothing new as of late. But as for the future..."
The general nodded. "Thank you." He said as he heard footsteps approach from behind.
"General Kozlon!" Came the call again, louder this time. Kozlon waited until the footsteps came to a halt behind him before turning around slowly. He finished his turn and stood erect, staring down the young lieutenant before him.
"Uh..." The lieutenant started to speak, but his voiced faded as he saw the look in the general's eyes. Kozlon stared down the young man, using a glare that forty years in the Fire Nation military earned him, and finally spoke.
"I would appreciate it, Lieutenant Azen..." He said loud enough for every soldier in the room to hear. "If you would not shout out information for everyone to hear. This is the Fire Nation military, not a street market." He narrowed his eyes at the younger man, who had stiffened in fright. "Do you understand me?"
The lieutenant swallowed and slowly nodded. "Yes, sir. I understand."
"Very good. Now, what do you have to say?"
Lieutenant Azen took a moment to collect himself, and resumed his military posture. "Sir. I came to report that a council will begin in a few moments. Fire Lord Sozin has called for your presence."
"Very good. Thank you." The general nodded and stepped toward the door. After a few paces, he stopped and turned back to the young lieutenant. "Lieutenant Azen, you may return to your normal duties."
The lieutenant snapped off a reasonable imitation of a proper salute. "Sir!" He called and turned around, making his way to another door on the other side of the large room.
General Kozlon took an extra moment to sweep his eyes across the barracks, lingering on each of the soldiers inhabiting it. This was the tactical barracks, so there were naturally only officers and tactical aids inside; on most days, as least. Today was a holiday, so the majority of the garrison was on leave. Satisfied that the barracks would do well without his presence, general Kozlon exited the room and began his walk to the royal war council chamber. Fire Lord Sozin had let it known to all the upper ranks of the army that he would tell them something today. Something that would change the world.
The thought came as something odd to Kozlon when he first heard the rumors. Surely, anything that big could not really be kept in such secrecy as to be kept from him, let alone anybody else in the military. But, if Fire Lord Sozin himself was planning something, then he could keep anything secret that he wanted. Kozlon was quite interested though, he thought as he turned a corner, nodding as two soldiers noticed his pass and saluted. He had always worked hard with the Fire Nation at heart, and was known far and wide as one of the top generals of the Fire Nation... despite his disability.
He masked a grimace at the thought. He never really thought of his situation as a handicap, as some of his officers and other generals in the army often whispered behind his back. If fact, he had long believed it was his disability that allowed him to concentrate fully on military tactics, warfare, logistics, and all the other fields of expertise the Royal Fire Nation Academy had to offer. He had been the academies youngest graduate in a decade, and had immediately joined the military afterward. Rising quickly through the ranks, Kozlon had made himself known throughout the upper echelon of the military and the royal house.
He eventually became the youngest general to ever stand among the Fire Nation military, and had been part of it ever since. His lips tugged into a soft smile. His wife and daughter were proud of him, even though it meant he was gone for long periods of time.
Kozlon finally reached the royal war council chambers and the door was opened by two soldiers, who saluted to him as he entered. The heavy doors groaned as they opened for him. The inside of the huge room was lit with torches and plumes of fire scattered around the walls and pillars. Considering the size of the council room, Kozlon mused as he stepped inside, it was surprising that the fire lit the inside as well as it was. The columns glittered with gold filigree in the firelight as he passed.
Making his way towards the back of the room, he could see that everyone was there already. The other five generals were standing around the tactical table, their individual conversations halted by his arrival. Further behind the small group of men was the throne of the Fire Lord. The throne in this room was an almost exact duplicate of the throne in the royal chambers, the royal greeting room, as well as almost any other room the Fire Lord might be required to sit.
Atop the throne sat Fire Lord Sozin. As Kozlon approached the table, the Fire Lord came more clearly into view. His robes were a deep red, with golden embroidery glittering in the surrounding firelight. His aged face reflecting nothing as he watched Kozlon stand beside his fellow generals.
"Fire Lord Sozin. General Kozlon arriving as requested." Kozlon said and lowered his head in a respectful bow.
"Welcome, general." The Fire Lord said after a moment. His voice was stern and clear.
Kozlon stood straight in a military position and glanced around, taking note of who was at the meeting. Beside him was General Aizo, a relatively new general, but promising nonetheless. Further along the table were General Kenzo and General Enzo. Two brothers that were equally skilled at firebending as they were at being ruthless. On Kozlon's other side was General Oron. Oron was an extremely old soldier that had easily the most experience of any soldier serving in the army. Finally, beside Oron, was General Li. Li was, as Kozlon often thought, the standard soldier. Nothing really stood out from him, and nothing really was poor in his performance. A middle-aged man, a mediocre firebender and tactician, Li had nothing that really made him special in the military. But, nonetheless, he was still a general with the experience to show for it.
Kozlon redirected his attention the Fire Lord Sozin, and stood at attention. Sozin took a long moment to eye Kozlon before taking a slow breath.
"As you are all aware of, the Fire Nation is the most prosperous nation in the land. We have military, culture, technology, and power. The other nations of the world; the Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribe, and the Air Nomads, have little or none of these." He swept his gaze around at each of his generals. "My wish is for the Fire Nation to spread its prosperity to the rest of the land. How would you suggest we do this?" He continued, clearly not waiting for a response. "By spreading our power to the other nations and forcing them to share in our prosperity."
A ripple of shock shot down Kozlon's back as he took in the Fire Lord's words. Forcing the other nations? Spreading the Fire Nation's power? Did the Fire Lord mean what he was suspecting?
"We, as a nation, have the duty to spread our power to the other, less fortunate nations. Do we not?" Sozin smiled tightly. "Even if they do not want us to."
Kozlon cleared his throat, earning a stern stare from the Fire Lord. "My lord... what you are suggesting... is declaring war on the other nations." He said evenly. "Is it not?"
Sozin's tight smile returned. "Yes. Of course. We are going to spread out power to the other nations by starting a war. A great war. A war that will encompass the entire world." He declared clearly. The silence that followed was long and suffocating. Kozlon risked a glance around at his fellow generals. Their reactions ranged from shock, to excitement, to confusion. He himself felt nothing but confusion.
General Oron was the first to break the silence. His deep, husky voice echoed in the large hall. "My lord, it is not our place to question you. But, I must make it known that the other nations are all powerful in their own right. The Earth Kingdom, for one, has a sizable force. It is much larger than our standing army. The Water Tribes, while not having many soldiers, are isolated and their land is generally difficult to navigate. The Air Nomads..." His voice faltered at a raised hand from Sozin.
"The other nations will not be a problem. I have an adviser that will elaborate."
He gestured to the side of the room. The generals all looked where Sozin was indicating, and saw a shadow walking towards them from the unlit corner of the room. As the shadow closed distance, Kozlon could see that instead of one shadow, there were in fact two distinct figures approaching. The footsteps only confirmed his guess, and as the figures entered the firelight, he blinked in surprise.
Of everyone Kozlon had expected, it certainly was not a girl no older than his own daughter. A young woman came into view. She looked to be at most twenty or twenty-one. Her attractive, oval face was framed perfectly by long, silvery hair that shimmered from the firelight. Her eyes, a bright silvery green, scanned the line of generals as she stepped to the Fire Lord's side. Beside her, another girl, seemingly the same age, shadowed the first. She had the distinct air and poise of a bodyguard, and a good one at that, Kozlon observed. Neither woman wore any armor to be seen. But their clothing and style clearly meant for them to be some sort of adviser.
"This is Sayuka." Fire Lord Sozin said. "She is one of my advisers. She and I have formulated a strategy that will finally come to fruition." He gestured for the young women, Sayuka, to step forward. "Sayuka, you may begin."
Kozlon focused his trained attention to Sayuka, and felt her eyes burn into his as she stared at him. It only lasted a moment, though. Her eyes swept away from his to look at the other generals in the line.
After a few moments of silence, she spoke.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am Sayuka Huoken." Her voice was soft, clear, and rang out around her. A shiver crept up Kozlon's back at the sound of her voice. "I will get right down to business, shall I? We will begin a war with the other nations of the world. The Earth Kingdom..." She gestured to the tactical map of the Earth Kingdom. "The Water Tribes... and the Air Nomads. To do this, we will employ no small level of tactical planning. We will utilize every part of our nation's power, and resources to achieve victory. In the end..." She took a few moments to sweep her hand across the entire tactical map. "Our nation's prosperity will encompass the entire world."
Her gaze fell on General Oron. "To your declaration of the other nations' power, I acknowledge that they are no small feat. But you forget, General Oron, that we have power that the other nations do not have. The size of the Earth Kingdom will crumble before the Fire Nation's might. The Water Tribes will eventually be reached by our flames. And the Air Nomads..." She clenched her hand into a tight fist, and slammed it into the map where the Eastern Air Temple was located. The table crunched in response to her hand. The generals all tensed reflexively. The girl, Kozlon found himself thinking, must be much stronger than she looks. "We will reach their unreachable temple... and massacre them all." She finished in a cold whisper.
It was as if a waterbender has turned Kozlon's blood to ice. There was no way he had heard correctly. He opened his mouth and immediately found Sayuka's eyes fall on his. Only his extensive experience under pressure gave him cause to speak.
"My lady... I'm sorry but... massacre the Air Nomads?" He clarified. "They are pacifists. They mean no harm to anyone. Do you mean to ignore that and commence with genocide?" He didn't dare look to his fellow generals to gauge their reaction.
Sozin was the one to speak.
"Yes, General Kozlon, we will kill them all." He stood up and stepped up to the tactical map, facing the line of generals. "As you all know, the Avatar has been born within the Air Nomads. He is the only one who can stand in the way of our plans. We will perform a fast and powerful strike to the Air Nomads, massacre them all, and continue our fight to the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom."
Kozlon stood shock still, taking in what Sozin was saying. He was going to declare war on the other nations of the world! Not only that, but he was planning on committing genocide on an entire culture of people. The thought of it alone was enough to send a sickening feeling throughout his body. He was by no means a coward, nor was he against fighting for his country. But the thought of what the Fire Lord wanted to do was...
He shook his head, clearing his thoughts. No; he was a general of the Fire Nation military. He had gone his whole life following orders to the letter and never failing. He had earned his place among the highest of the military's leaders. His loyalty would not waver now. Not now.
Fire Lord Sozin eyed Kozlon for a long moment, and then nodded to Sayuka. The girl cleared her throat and held her hands out before her.
"Now, I am positive you are thinking of how we can begin such a large assault on three fronts. The answer for how we begin lies in the sky." She smiled tightly. "Or... will be soon." Her eyes swept across the generals and back, carefully watching them. "Very soon, a comet will appear in the sky. This comet has been coming to our sky every hundred years, and for a length of time, the energy of the comet gives firebenders great power. Each firebender will gain the power of one hundred soldiers. It will be during this time we will begin our war."
"How long will this comet be in the sky?" General Aizo asked. A good question, indeed. If Aizo hadn't asked, Kozlon definitely would have.
"A matter of hours." Came Sayuka's simple response.
This time, the shock was clear in all the general's faces. Surely, this woman and the Fire Lord did not expect a worldwide strike coordinated in the matter of a few hours! The generals all exchanged glances with each other, their apprehension all clear to Kozlon. Obviously, they were all thinking the same thing. This time, General Li spoke.
"Are we to understand that we are to coordinate a massive force to strike all fronts at precisely the same time? During this... comet that will come?"
Sayuka's reply was cut off by the Fire Lord, who held out his hand in a gesture clearly meant for all the generals. "That sounded strangely like a general of the Fire Nation questioning his own military powers." He leveled his stern gaze as General Li. "Or am I just being sensitive?" Li, as average as he was, was smart enough to recognize a threat when he heard one. He bowed his head quickly.
"Of course not, my Lord. I-"
"What General Li simply meant to convey was understanding at our Lord's plan." Kozlon came to Li's support. "We in no way doubt the strength of our Nation's, or our Lord's, martial prowess. It was simply..." He thought carefully, thinking of the most tactful way to say what he wanted. "My lord's plan is clearly a large endeavor. We do not wish to be mistaken in our understanding."
Sozin nodded and smiled tightly. "Of course, General Kozlon, General Li. It is indeed a great undertaking." He turned back to Sayuka. "Continue."
Sayuka took a few markers from the tactical map. "We will start by dividing the brunt of our attack forces into three main armies. We will then place forces, led by chosen generals and aids, at specific locations to strike when the comet arrives." She placed a marker on the map. "First, here, on the eastern border of the Fire Nation." She placed another. "Then here, at the southern edge of the Fire Nation." Another. "Here, at the northern border. These three forces will launch a day before the comet arrives, and be in place to attack when it does."
One of the brothers, Kenzo, took a step forward, not entirely hiding his eagerness. "Who will we attack first, my Lady?" Kozlon hid a grimace. The Brothers' Kenzo and Enzo had always been eager to please, and would happily go about it in any way possible.
"We will perform a pronged assault on-" Sayuka pointed to the first marker. "The western shore of the Earth Kingdom." She pointed to the other two markers, towards the north and south of the Fire Nation. "And we will take the Western and Southern Air Temples." Her gaze washed over the line of generals, taking a long moment at each of them in passing. "We will massacre them all. We will leave no airbender alive."
General Kenzo stepped back in line, a satisfied smile on his face. Kozlon took a chance to lock eyes with General Oron, and saw the same look of apprehension in his face. It was nice to know he wasn't the only one.
Sayuka took the silence as cue to continue. "We do not have much time to harness the Great Comet's energy, so we will act quickly and decisively. If executed well, our initial strike will knock the other nations off balance, and never able to properly regain a proper foothold. We will keep pushing after the comet leaves, taking region after region. We will take the Southern Water Tribe, the Northern Water Tribe, the entirety of the Earth Kingdom, the Northern Air Temple, and finally-" She slammed her hand on the table, right where the Eastern Air Temple was located. The table crunched under her fist. "We will destroy the Eastern Air Temple. We will be as fire engulfing the forest of the world." She did not have to raise her voice. Everyone heard her clearly as if she was screaming at the top of her lungs.
The Fire Nation was really going to declare war on the other nations of the world. The thought alone sent another shiver of fear down Kozlon's back. Just what was Fire Lord Sozin's goal with this?
General Oron stepped forward. "My Lady, my Lord, just to clarify." He gestured to the table. "We are to divide our forces and begin an attack on three fronts. One, travelling through the north. One, the south. And the last, spearheading through the middle into the Earth Kingdom. Am I correct?"
"Yes, General Oron. You are correct." Sozin nodded and placed both hands on the table. "We will begin the preparations immediately. The war..." He smiled, the skin around his eyes tightening. "Will begin in two weeks."
Each general gave a crisp salute. "Yes, my Lord!" Came the unison shout.
"Good. Sayuka will be overseeing the preparations for the attacks to come. She will coordinate the assault forces, and select who will lead them." He nodded to each general. "As of now, you all answer to both her and I. You are all dismissed."
With another salute, the line began to break up. Each general began their short journey towards their preferred barracks or place of interest. Kozlon caught Oron's eye, a clear indication of the need to talk. Nodding his head towards the doorway, Kozlon made his way with Oron following.
"That was... certainly a surprise." Oron began as they exited the room. Kozlon slowed his steps until he matched his pace with the older man's. "Sixty years, I have been a part of the Fire Nation military. In all that time, I have never been part of a war against all three nations at once." Sixty years, thought Kozlon as he walked besides his comrade, was a very long time. Longer than even him, who had been with the military for a sizable forty years. "Of course, I cannot say I did not see it coming." Oron continued. "The Fire Lord has had his sights set on expansion for the past... oh... I would have to say... fifteen or twenty years."
"Mmm..." Kozlon grunted. It was true. Ever since the incident with Avatar Roku, Sozin had spent more and more time with the military and his aides, as if he was preparing for something. Maybe this war he sprung on them was what he had planned for so long. And the women he had never seen before... Sayuka, was it? "Who was that girl?" He found himself asking.
Oron shrugged. "I had never seen her before. I assume you have not either?" Kozlon shook his head. "No... well, if she is indeed as aide of the Fire Lord, I assume we have no place to complain. We only follow our orders."
"Even if it means committing genocide?"
Oron stopped walking and turned, looking outside the hallway into a courtyard covered with cobblestone. A few servants were carrying small barrels filled with something seemingly heavy. "That part is what concerned me most. I know our Lord has his... eccentricities... but I would have not thought him prone to order genocide on an entire population. Our orders of complete extermination don't seem to extend to the Earth Kingdom as much as they do the Air Nomads. That... might be our new war advisors idea in and of itself..." The older man trailed off as Kozlon stepped beside him.
After a moment of silence, he turned to Oron. "You, my friend, are the only other person I can speak frankly to. I must tell you that I do not feel comfortable with this." Oron returned his gaze and sighed.
"I know, Kozlon. You are, without a doubt the most clever among us. Even with your... disability-" He smiled sardonically. "You have still outstripped us in every way on the battlefield. I trust your judgment and your views. However..." He turned his attention back outside. "We must follow our orders. It is how our life works."
Kozlon nodded heavily. "Yes. Yes, you are correct, Oron. I may not like it but... It is our duty."
Their conversation was brought to a halt when another voice rang out behind them. "Well said, gentlemen. I can see why you two are the most successful commanders in the Fire Nation." Kozlon, momentarily forgetting his years of discipline, whirled around in shock. His embarrassment lessened a bit with the knowledge of Oron spinning around just as quickly. Behind them stood Sayuka, her silver hair shimmering lightly in the light from outside. Behind her, slightly to her side, stood the same female bodyguard as before. It was all Kozlon could manage to snap off a salute.
"My lady! I-we-"
"Do not worry, General." She chided, a small smile on her youthful face. "No harm meant or received. Outside of the royal chambers or tactical offices, treat me as an equal." Kozlon and Oron exchanged a look, and relaxed their stances noticeably. Oron was the first to recover his speech.
"To what do we owe the pleasure, my Lady?"
"I simply wanted to spend some time getting to know the ones who would lead the attacks on the other nations." She looked from Kozlon to Oron, and then back to Kozlon. "General Kozlon, may I have some of your time? I wish to speak with you about the initial preparations and introduce you to some of my attendants."
Kozlon felt himself nod and stand up a little straighter. "Of course, my Lady. Whenever you wish."
Sayuka smiled widely and gestured down the hallway, clearly indicating him to follow her. Kozlon started to walk, but turned back to Oron and snapped off a salute. The older man returned the gesture, and made his way in the opposite direction. No words were needed at that point.
"So, I have heard much about you."
Sayuka led the way with Kozlon in tow through the many hallways of the royal palace. Kozlon kept up with her pace easily, periodically glancing back at Sayuka's bodyguard, who was walking a short distance behind them.
"What have you heard, my Lady?" Kozlon asked, somewhat interested to know the extent of what this girl was aware of.
Sayuka giggled. It was an odd sound to Kozlon, but seemed fitting, considering her age. At least, what age she looked. "Please, call me Sayuka. I prefer it."
Kozlon cleared his throat stiffly. "With all due respect, I would prefer to abstain from any undue attention should that call for." Sayuka sighed and shrugged.
"As you wish, General." She rounded a corner and nodded to two guards. They opened the large door behind them, and Sayuka pushed forward. "I have a few things to talk with you about, if I may."
Kozlon followed and found himself in a reception hall. This particular reception hall was part of the guest mansion, attached to the royal palace. This girl was apparently staying in this part of the palace. "Of course, my Lady. I shall answer whatever you wish."
Sayuka reached a large seat and gestured to another seat facing hers. "Please." She said to Kozlon.
"After you." He returned. Sayuka sat down gracefully. She waited until Kozlon took his seat before speaking again.
"Bring us something to drink."
Kozlon blinked for a moment, thinking the order had been for him. But, the body guard stepped up to Sayuka and bowed.
"Something to drink. Anything else you require, mistress?" The girl asked. Her voice was low and crisp; sultry, even. Her shoulder-length brown hair covered her face as she lowered her head.
"And fetch Nagao. He should be here." The girl stood straight, as if to leave. "Oh! Yes. You may as well bring Sukal." The bodyguard eyed Kozlon for a moment, and then walked off without another word. Sayuka was silent for a few seconds, and then took a deep breath. "Well, let us just start with the introductions. I am Sayuka Huoken. I am an aide to Fire Lord Sozin. I will be the main adviser of the invasion forces."
Kozlon nodded in understanding. He had known that much already.
"And you, General... are Azar Kozlon. Graduated at fifteen from the Royal Academy, excelling in many different subjects. Joined the military right after, and quickly rose through the ranks attaining the title of general at twenty-five; the youngest ever in the history of the Fire Nation." Her eyes narrowed. "A fine accomplishment... even for one unable to firebend."
Kozlon locked eyes with the girl. Of course she had found out. It was the most often talked-about topic when he was discussed among his peers. His disability was nothing but the inability to firebend. Many had told him as he was in school that, as a non-bender, his career in the military was decided before he even joined. However, even with everyone against him, he proved that his inability to firebend did not hinder his actions. In fact, not spending his attention on firebending allowed him to focus on other fields and become one of the best tacticians and military leaders in the army. And he was not about to let a girl, let alone one so young as this one, to-
"But do not misunderstand me, General. I am not discrediting you." Sayuka continued, derailing Kozlon's thoughts. "In fact, I applaud you. Not many could accomplish as much as you. Especially those as handicapped in the military. Not only did you succeed where many have failed, but you succeed with colors." She smiled lightly. "If only some people had the motivation you must have had... many things would be different in this world." The way she said that seemed as though she was remembering something. Kozlon opened his mouth to voice his questions when the sound of footsteps interrupted him.
Kozlon looked behind Sayuka to see her body guard return, a jug and cups on a tray in her hands. Two young-looking men followed behind her. Sayuka gestured to the table. The bodyguard placed the tray on the table and stepped back to her position after pouring a dark red liquid into the two cups.
"Thank you, Ikiryo." She said, and then looked shocked as if something suddenly occurred to her. "Oh! It absolutely slipped my mind. General, this is my escort; Ikiryo." She waved her hand in the general direction of her body guard. The girl simply nodded minutely. "And the two men she fetched..." She began. The two men stepped forward on either side of her seat.
On her left was a tall man, with long black hair. His height and hair length made him seem much taller than he probably was, surmised Kozlon. But, what made him slightly uncomfortable were the man's eyes. The man looked no older than twenty-five or thirty, but the look in his green eyes was that of a much older man. The look in his eyes gave away the understanding and the experience of an aged warrior. He felt as though if he looked into the man's eyes, he could understand everything about Kozlon at a single glance. It was an extremely uncomfortable feeling.
On her other side stood a completely nondescript man. Nothing really stood out about him. He was average height, and a little on the thin side. He even slumped a little. His skin was a darker complexion than himself or the older man, insinuating that this man was perhaps not from the Fire Nation originally. He looked, at first glance, to be perhaps a little younger than the taller man. But when Kozlon looked into the man's eyes-
He involuntarily felt a shiver crawl up his spine.
The man's eyes gazed back at him with a coldness he never saw before. He knew at once, this man was a killer. He was not a soldier like he or Oron, or even Kenzo and Enzo. He was a murderer.
"These two... are more of my personal escort." Sayuka continued. She gestured to the taller of the two. "First, is Nagao. He is my personal aide and advisor." Kozlon locked eyes with Nagao. So, he thought, even advisors have advisors. Nagao bowed to Kozlon politely. "And this..." Sayuka gestured to the other man. "Is Sukal." Kozlon nodded to Sukal. After eyeing the general for a moment, his nod was returned.
"You have an interesting escort, my Lady." Kozlon remarked before he could guard his words. The girl laughed brightly and nodded.
"Yes. I get that a lot." She took a cup and took a sip. Kozlon followed her lead, grabbing the other cup. "Now, I wish to take this time to brief you on your role in the upcoming war. As you were told earlier, the main force of the army will be divided into three fronts. The northern front, the southern front, and the eastern front." She gestured to Kozlon with her cup informally. "I am intending to you to lead the southern forces."
Kozlon blinked a few times before drawing breath again. "You want me to lead the southern army again the Southern Air Temple, massacre the airbenders there, and then continue to the Southern Water Tribe and the south of the Earth Kingdom?"
"I want you to wipe out the Southern Air Temple, yes." Sayuka narrowed her eyes. "But I do not want you to take the Southern Water Tribe yet. You will continue from the Southern Air temple, leaving a garrison there, and make your way towards the Eastern Air Temple. Alone the way there you will make coordinated strikes are different locations in the Earth Kingdom while Generals Li and Aizo attack from the north of the continent and Generals Kenzo and Enzo attack from the west. When you reach the Eastern Air Temple..." She placed her cup on the table. "You will destroy it."
Kozlon closed his eyes in thought. Theoretically, the plan was sound. A strike planned to begin when firebenders were at the height of their power with the comet they were told was coming. But was that assuredly going to occur? That would be one issue. After the initial strike wiped out the Western and Southern Air Temple, they would push to the west, north, and south of the Earth Kingdom. As the push got far enough, the Northern and Eastern Air Temples would be in reach to also destroy. Not only that, but leaving a strong garrison at the Southern Air Temple will assure that any retaliation from the Southern Water Tribe will be noticed at once. But why did the airbenders have to be thoroughly destroyed? That was another problem he had to find out. Finally-
"What of General Oron?" He found himself asking. "Generals Kenzo and Enzo are attacking on the eastern front, and Generals Li and Aizo from the north. I am attacking from the south. What of General Oron?"
Sayuka blinked rapidly, not unlike a small animal, and smiled. "Ah yes. I had forgotten. He will be accompanying you on the southern front." Kozlon opened his eyes and nodded. The girl seemed to forget many things.
"I see. I have a couple more questions, if I may, my Lady?"
"Of course." She said.
"You spoke of a great comet that will come and give the firebenders in our army great power. Is that true?" He asked. Sayuka sighed lightly and nodded.
"Yes. It comes every hundred years. You may look up the star charts and other documentation in the archives if necessary."
Kozlon chewed at the inside of his cheek thoughtfully. For a royal adviser, this girl was certainly easy to handle and forthcoming with information... when she remembered it, at least. It was odd, from his perspective. He would have though a personal adviser to Fire Lord Sozin would have a more... commanding attitude and presence.
"Then, I have one more question. Why do the Air Nomads have to be completely wiped out? Genocide... while I do not go against the nation's interests or my orders... genocide is a large step to take... even for war."
The smile on the girls face cracked just noticeably. She stared unblinking at the general for a long moment, and then visibly relaxed. "Because of the Avatar." She said simply.
Kozlon blinked in confusion. The Avatar? Surely he-
"He was reborn into the Air Nomads after Avatar Roku passed away twelve years ago. The Avatar is the only one who would stand between the Fire Lord and his plans to spread the Nation's power around the world. Therefore, the Fire Lord has decided to take measures to ensure that the Avatar cannot hinder his plans."
The explanation was simple. Sayuka had said that with a level expression as if she was telling the general about her life.
"But... killing the Avatar will simply cause a new one to be born-" Kozlon began.
"Ah, no. I see the misunderstanding." Sayuka's smile returned. "We do not intend to kill the Avatar. We will capture him to halt the Avatar cycle. The plan of massacring the Air Nomads is the quickest way to draw him out." She shrugged. "And if we happen to wipe out the Air Nomads along the way... it means more of a victory for the Fire Nation, does it not?"
Kozlon was stunned. He could not believe that this plan came from Sozin. But if Sayuka, Sozin's advisor, said this was what he willed...
"I... understand." He said stiffly. He did not agree with the war that would happen whether he wanted it or not. But he was a soldier. He would follow his orders. Just as he always did. "I will lead the southern forces." He said, standing at attention.
Sayuka smiled and stood as well. "Good. The southern front is in good hands with you and General Oron."
"Shall I tell General Oron the plans?" Kozlon asked.
Sayuka waved her hand in front of her face in a very feminine gesture. "No, no, no. I will discuss it with him later. You are free to go."
Kozlon bowed and turned to exit the room.
"Oh! That is right! Before you go..." Her voice rang out again. Kozlon turned back and straightened.
She gestured back to the shorter of her two escorts, Sukal. "Sukal will join your detachment as an adviser, a lieutenant, and my voice. At least, until I change my mind." She narrowed her eyes to the general. "When I am not present, he speaks for me. Am I understood?"
Kozlon locked eyes with Sukal. The younger man stared back silently. There was something in his expression that the general absolutely did not like. He was certain that the two of them would never get along. With a curt nod to Sukal, he turned back to Sayuka.
"Yes, my Lady. I understand."
Sayuka beamed a wide smile. "Excellent. I knew there was a reason I liked you. You may return to your wife and daughter for today. Tomorrow... we have a war to plan." With another crisp salute, Kozlon turned and left the room.
To be continued in...
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