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"Well, look at this. Enemies and traitors all working together."
|Enemies and Traitors|
Enemies and Traitors is an AU fanon story about the lives of major players in the initiation of the War and how that initiation was actually carried out. It was written in the spring and summer of 2007 and completed in September 2007, between Books 2 and 3 of the actual series. It was written before Avatar: The Heir of Ban and as an AU story it takes place in a different continuity. The name derives from Azula's line in Episode 208, "The Chase."
The story takes place over the course of several years, beginning with the childhoods of Sozin, Kuzon, Aang and Taro. Sozin and Kuzon, brothers in the story, were raised in the aftermath of the Fire Nation Civil War. Sozin, as first son and heir to the throne, receives constant pressure from his mother, Izuma, to be a strong leader so that civil war does not reoccur. The Fire Nation is still recovering from the war, and there is widespread starvation and poverty. Izuma feels she must raise Sozin to be strong and confront these problems. Kuzon, with no such responsibility, lives a more carefree childhood of visits with friends like Aang.
Meanwhile Taro, an Airbender student and peer of Aang, is raised by his mentor Afiko. Afiko does not agree with traditional Airbender philosophies of nonviolence, feeling the other monks do not understand the harsh realities of the world, and places an emphasis on combat in his training of Taro.
Two years later, Izuma has died and Sozin has become the Firelord. He plans to begin a program to end his people's starvation by getting the Air Nomads to annex a fertile island on the border of Air Nomad and Fire Nation territory. The Air Nomads feel Sozin may be dangerous, and Afiko convinces the council to not only retain control of the island but also to accelerate Aang's training as Avatar as insurance against any action the Fire Nation might take. Their refusal infuriates Sozin. He begins planning and remember how his ancestors used the comet to come to power and begin his dynasty. Sozin institutes a large scale program to prepare the Fire Nation military to capture the island, but as his ambitions grow he implements a full scale plan for world conquest.
Sozin and Kuzon attack the Southern Air Temple, with the help of Afiko, whom Sozin allowed to survive the assault in exchange for help in stealing the Airbenders' bison. Sozin attacks the Air Temples and wins easily with the help of the comet. Kuzon, however, becomes disgusted with his brother's conduct and decides to do what Aang, being absent and unable to help his people, could not. The very next night, Kuzon frees the captured Air Nomads. Sozin discovers him and they fight. Meanwhile, Taro refuses to flee with Afiko to the Fire Nation and helps evacuate his fellows. He manages to rescue Kuzon before Sozin can kill Kuzon, but Taro does not realize he is a Fire bender until they are safely away from the temple. At first Taro wants to throw Kuzon overboard, but he comes to realize he needs Kuzon's help to save the other air temples.
Taro and Kuzon only manage to save a few Airbenders at each temple, and the refugee nomads go into hiding in Ba Sing Se. Kuzon lives alone for a while but, realizing he has nowhere else to go, he joins the Airbender community and becomes good friends with Taro.
Taro, Kuzon, and a few other Airbenders believe they must try to fight the Fire Nation, though not all the Airbenders agree. They live this way for twenty-three years. One day, Kuzon is ambushed by Azulon, Lo, and Li. They take him back to the Fire nation to face punishment, but Taro and his friend Kunchen travel there to rescue him. They rescue him from the Hall of Justice and attempt to sneak out of the capital city through a secret passage under the palace.
Kuzon decides he must give Sozin one more chance to renounce his misdeeds. They confront each other in the throne room, but Sozin refuses to believe what he did was wrong. Sozin and Kuzon fight again, while Taro and Kunchen handle the guards. They get away and escape through tunnels under the palace. They wander a deserted coastline where the tunnel exits until they find a house that happens to belong to Afiko. Afiko is dying from a lung disease caused by the pollution from the Fire Nation's industrial smelting operations. Afiko is remorseful, but Taro says he pays Afiko's actions no mind anymore, and focuses on the future rather than the past. He is free, as an Air Nomad should be. Taro, Kuzon, and Kunchen leave, sailing back to the Earth Kingdom to continue the fight against the Fire Nation.
|0||Prologues||Scenes of Afiko, Sozin and Kuzon as children, explaining some of their later behavior. Sozin and Kuzon are gifted with twin dao swords from Avatar Roku.|
|1||Brothers||Sozin must endure a history and armed combat lesson while Kuzon plays hookie to visit with his friend Aang.|
|2||Responsibilities||Sozin and Kuzon have an argument at dinner, and their mother Izuma explains why things must be the way they are.|
|3||Necessities||Afiko gives his pupil Taro a lesson in combat and in life.|
|4||Resources||Two years later, Sozin is made Firelord following the death of Izuma. In order to help mitigate starvation and poverty in the wake of the Fire Nation Civil War, Sozin attempts to persuade the Air Nomads to annex fertile Kalden Island, but he makes little headway.|
|5||The Avatar||The council of senior monks at the Southern Air Temple hold a meeting to decide how to deal with Sozin's demands. Afiko persuades them not to give up the island, and to accelerate Aang's training as their eventual protector. Aang's air scooter game is interrupted and he is told he is the Avatar. Aang's friends Taro, Kunchen, and Jangbu eavesdrop on this announcement and tell the other boys. Taro promises Aang thigs won't change between them, but Aang runs away soon after.|
|6||Opportunities||Sozin recalls how his ancestors used the Comet's power to establish their Firelord dynasty. He formulates a plan to go to war for Kalden Island, and enlists the help of former war criminal Shunkai to design special tanks for him. He does this despite Kuzon's objections.|
|7||Preparations||Sozin makes Kuzon the first commander of the first armored division in Fire Nation history. Kuzon expresses misgivings about the war, but Sozin assures him it will be conducted honorably.|
|8||Betrayals||Four years pass as Sozin makes preparations. Sozin invites Airbender monks to the capital city on a diplomatic visit, but he ambushes them at dinner and threatens them with death if they do not help him. Only Afiko, fearing for his and Taro's lives, agrees. Afiko travels to the Southern Air Temple with Gizu to steal the sky bison so the air nomads cannot escape the battle.|
|9||Changing Plans||Sozin's fleet departs and attacks the Southern Air Temple. Kuzon fights with Sozin, concerned about the welfare of his nation, but is disturbed by his brother's bloodlust. The Fire Nation imprisons the monks and sets up a temporary base at the temple. Sozin has Gyatso brought before him and interrogates him as to the Avatar's whereabouts. Kuzon hears Aang referred to as the Avatar, and realizes it is his old friend. Sozin explains he plans to kill the Avatar, or to kill every Air Nomad until the Avatar is brought to him. This is vastly different than what he had told Kuzon he would do, and Kuzon becomes disgusted with his brother.|
|10||Scars||Kuzon decides to do what Aang cannot do and save Aang's people. He sneaks out at night and releases the airbenders from their cells. Fighting breaks out again as the guards try to contain the escapees. Sozin discovers Kuzon and they fight. Meanwhile, Afiko explains to Taro what he did and offers Taro a chance to live and rebuild a stronger race of Airbenders. Taro, too, is disgusted by his mentor's actions and rebukes him. Taro takes his and Afiko's bison, the only free one left, and rescues as many of his friends as he can. Sozin is about to kill Kuzon, and Kuzon has no recourse but to jump from one of the temple's terraces. Taro sees him from a distance and thinks he is an Airbender, so he catches Kuzon on the bison as he falls.|
|11||Counting Losses||As they fly away, the Airbenders discover Kuzon is Fire Nation. Taro wants to throw him overboard, but he is calmed by his friends. Kuzon explains what he did, but Taro still has a confrontation with him. Finally they decide to take him as far as the South Pole, where the Air Nomads are going for healing. The trauma of the battle makes Kuzon sick and feverish. Taro helps him after he collapses, and agrees to work with him to save the other Air Temples.|
|12||Exiles||The Airbenders must now live secretly as refugees in the Earth Kingdom. They split into different factions, some choosing to covertly fight the Fire Nation while others refuse to fight on moral grounds. Taro sides with those who fight. Meanwhile, Kuzon has nowhere to go, and wanders in the mountains. He comes to live in the cave where Taro keeps his bison. Kuzon first bonds with the bison, then gradually with Taro on his periodic visits there, and eventually Kuzon becomes an accepted member of the Airbender community.|
|13||Ghosts||23 years pass. Kuzon has joined with the militant Airbenders and is good friends with all of them. While performing a routine raid of a Fire Nation ship, Kuzon hesitates to take out a guard because he sees Sozin's face in place of the guard's for a moment. His hesitation allows the guard to kill one of the Airbenders, Khalama. They quickly escape the ship, but Kuzon blames himself for Khalama's death. Taro tries to comfort him, but Kuzon snaps back at him and goes to sulk, haunted by his past. This causes Taro to reflect on his own past and dredge up similar feelings.|
|14||Homecoming||The next day, Kuzon is ambushed by a young Azulon and Azulon's friends Lo and Li. Taro tries to fight them off, but must flee to avoid having the existence of the Air Nomads discovered. Kuzon is captured and returned to the Fire Nation to face trial for his betrayal at the Air Temple.|
|15||The Traitor and the Firelord||Taro sets out to rescue Kuzon, and finds his friend Kunchen plans to follow him. Meanwhile, Sozin comes to Kuzon' cell to berate him, but Kuzon tries to appeal to Sozin's emotions.|
|16||Escapes||Kunchen and Taro arrive in the Fire Nation capital and sneak into the prison under cover of darkness. They attempt to free Kuzon, but Kuzon has become so despondent he doesn't want to leave. Taro and Kunchen convince him he bears no responsibility for the war, and Kuzon does the same for Taro. They break out of the prison, free as many other prisoners as possible, and sneak into the Royal Palace disguised as guards.|
|17||The Last Chance||While attempting to sneak out through the Royal Palace, Kuzon feels compelled to see his brother one more time and give him the chance to renounce his past deeds. Sozin feels completely justified and will never believe he was wrong. He tells Kuzon they have no choice but to fight. Kuzon disagrees, but is forced to defend himself. Kunchen and Taro take on Azulon and the guards. Sozin and Kuzon both swear they will never stop fighting.|
Kuzon and his friends escape when Taro manages to put Azulon in a hold and threatens to kill him. Before they go, however, Taro asks Azulon if he knows the whereabouts of Afiko. Azulon tells them he has a house on the coast. Taro releases Azulon, then he, Kuzon, and Kunchen rush through the palace and down into the escape tunnels. The hurry through them all night and avoid the guards. They emerge far from the city on the coast and follow it until they reach Afiko's house. They find him bedridden, dying of lung disease. Afiko is remorseful about what he's done. He expresses hope that Taro will forgive him but Taro says he no longer feels anything toward him, good or bad. Taro says he has made peace within himself and is free of Afiko's legacy. He makes Afiko comfortable while Kunchen and Kuzon treat their burns, and then take their leave. They buy a boat with money Afiko gives them and sail into the sunset, to continue the fight against the Fire Nation.
Kuzon: In Enemies and Traitors, Kuzon is Sozin's younger brother by seven years, and is also Aang's good friend. He had a wild, reckless streak as a boy, like his friend Aang. Sozin and Kuzon are very close as children, and Kuzon initially supports his war plan out of concern for the Fire Nation's people. When Sozin goes too far, Kuzon renounces his brother and saves the Air Nomads and is eventually accepted by them. He is a Firebender and uses a dao sword given to him by Avatar Roku.
Sozin: Sozin first appears as a tightly-wound but generally well-meaning boy, but he eventually becomes mad with power and obsessed with making his country the most powerful in the world. He disowns his brother Kuzon for opposing him at the Southern Air Temple. Sozin goes on to become a hard despot who rules the Fire Nation mercilessly. He still feels something for his brother, but cannot acknowledge those feelings. Sozin is an expert Firebender and also uses a dao sword given by Avatar Roku, which is the twin of Kuzon's.
Taro: Taro is an Airbender and friend of Aang. His mentor is Afiko, who encourages him to be aggressive and strong, although the other monks and Taro's friends counteract this influence somewhat. Feeling conflicted between the two viewpoints, Taro is a shy, quiet boy. When Afiko reveals that he betrayed the Air Nomads, Taro rejects his offer of guaranteed survival in the Fire Nation and evacuates the other Airbenders. Taro is the quickest to cry for revenge against the Fire Nation and hates Kuzon bitterly at first, but they bond thrugh Taro's sky bison Pema and eventually become the best of friends.
Afiko: Afiko's mentor was murdered when he was a boy, which caused him to grow up aggressive and paranoid. He believes the other Airbenders are weak, and teaches as much to his student Taro. To Afiko, his and Taro's survival are paramount. Consequently, when Sozin threatens his life, Afiko agrees to betray his own people. He has no love for the other Airbenders anyway, though he tries to secure Taro's safety as well, showing he does care for his charge. Following his betrayal, Afiko has nowhere to live but the Fire Nation, and though Sozin gives him great wealth he must live alone as an outcast in a country made to hate Airbenders. He eventually succumbs to a lung disease from the pollution in the Fire Nation, an unforeseen consequence of his actions.
Kunchen: Kunchen is an airbender several years younger than Taro. They are good friends, and Kunchen is also one of the first Airbenders to show kindness toward Kuzon, who also became his good friend. Kunchen accompanies Taro to the Fire Nation to rescue Kuzon when Kuzon is captured by Azulon.
Alternate Universe Status
When Enemies and Traitors was begun, it was in keeping with the then-known canon, because it dealt with a time period that was rarely discussed in the series. Soon after the story began, Avatar creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko confirmed in an interview that the trading card game characters (Afiko, Kinto, Malu, and Jojo) were not canonical, and that absolutely no Airbenders other than Aang survived Sozin's assault. Having Airbenders survive was a necessary element of the story, so it became an AU story. Although Afiko's name could have been changed to keep him within the realm of possible canon, the name was kept because it is already recognizable to readers.
Later, when the story was nearing completion, a clip of "The Avatar and the Firelord" was released, showing Roku and Sozin as about the same age, whereas in Enemies and Traitors Sozin is only a few years older than Aang. With the airing of the episode, Sozin's age was confirmed to be canonical, and Mike and Bryan later elaborated on the chronology between the war's beginning and Aang's awakening, which was different than what is shown in Enemies and Traitors. The motivations and characterizations of certain characters differ from what is shown in the series as well. However, author manzai made a point of keeping everything that happens in the story within the realm of plausibility, even if it is not officially canon.
Enemies and Traitors first appeared on the Distant Horizons forums on July 24th, 2007. Some initial reviews stated that "the plot doesn't seem to be going anywhere" by chapter 3, and that there was too much exposition. However, reviews that appeared from the second half to the end of the story were consistently positive. Distant Horizons user ReelTrebleMaker said of the story "ritten. The amount of time that passes between chapters goes a little fast, I'll admit, but within them? The pacing is wonderful, very easy to read. Your characters are also well fleshed out and easy to understand; even Sozin (who is undeniably evil) is obviously a human being." User Zenjamin said he "loved how you tackled and linked the theams [sic] of loyalty, family, guilt, and how they can blur the lines of right and wrong," and user jetsa said "It is easily as fun reading this, as watching an episode of Avatar." Other reviews praised the fight scenes, use of imagery, and tie-ins to the real Avatar series.
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