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|Honour: Ba Sing Se|
9th June 2015
|"Who is your family? What is your country? You will get your honour by choosing them and defending them till the last."|
"Prince Zuko, it's time we talked." Iroh restrains his nephew. Iroh looked him in the eyes, and clasped his shoulders. He then turns his head to Katara and Aang. "Go help your friends! We'll catch up with you!"
Katara and Aang awkwardly shuffle down the dark passage, using only the reflected light from the emerald crystals as a guide.
Zuko looks away from his uncle, flashing his red scar. In a soft voice, he says, "Why, Uncle?"
Iroh strokes his big, grey beard. "You're not the man you used to be, Zuko. You are stronger and wiser and freer than you have ever been. And now you have come to the crossroads of your destiny. It's time for you to choose. It's time for you to choose good." He places a reassuring hand on Zuko's shoulder.
Zuko shouts in shock as green crystals erupt from the ground, encasing Iroh's body, with his head and arms sticking out. Zuko assumes a fighting stance and watches three Dai Li agents slide down a steep slope. A woman in a similar green tunic approaches him.
"I expected this kind of treachery from Uncle. But Zuko, Prince Zuko, you're a lot of things, but you're not a traitor, are you?" the woman taunts.
Zuko steps in the way of his uncle and extends his arms. "Release him now, Azula. NOW!"
Azula paces around him. "It's not too late to redeem yourself, Zuko. I need you. I have planned every move of this day. This glorious day in Fire Nation history. The only way we can win is together. You will have your honour back, your home and father's love."
Zuko steps back, whispering, "Father..."
Iroh immediately responds, "The kind of redemption she offers is not for you!"
"You are free to choose," Azula said, raising her hand and leaving with her agents.
Iroh looks at Zuko. "I am begging you, look into your heart and see what it is you truly want."
Zuko turns to his uncle. "I want my honour, I want my family, I want to do what's best for my country!"
"Yes, but, who is your family? What is your country? You will get your honour by choosing them and defending them till the last."
Zuko closes his eyes. An old photograph flashes before his eyes, a photograph of his father, mother and sister. He scrunches his nose and the image burns. He relaxes his nose and the image fades to a gentler, warmer image of him and Iroh serving tea. Zuko remembers his childhood, walking through the royal palace, being eyed by guards. He tenses up as his sister walks past. Yet another memory. Zuko on the run from Azula, slicing off his top knot. He's poor, he's hungry and his ostrich horse is on its last legs. A boy saves him and his horse with much needed food. Zuko defends the boy from earthbending thugs. Finally, he remembers Jin, the one who loved him, not for his power or wealth, as he was at the time, a poor shop keeper.
"I'm sorry, Uncle, there is nothing I can do for you." Zuko lowers his head and ran down the corridor.
"We've got to find Sokka and Toph!" Katara yells as they run through the glistening cave. Aang turns around and erects a large stone wall. An inferno of blue fire smashes the wall, knocking them back. Katara charges her, bending an almighty wave. The wave breaks apart and evaporates, leaving traces of a blue flame. Azula leaps in the air and throws a few balls of fire, which Katara and Aang block with a stream of water. Azula rests on a pillar, which Aang brings down with earthbending.
Azula jumps off and lands in the middle of them, extending her arms to both of them and extending two fingers on each hand. Her gaze shifts between them. A large fireball strikes the ground, forming a cloud of dust and smoke. The three combatants turn and see Zuko, fist drawn behind his head. Zuko slowly walks to them, maintaining his stance. He stares at Azula, then shifts to Aang. Aang jumps in realisation and creates an airshield to block Zuko's attack. Zuko punches furiously, forcing Azula to step back and defend. Azula parries the blasts with her two fingers and retaliates with her own, small fireballs.
"What are you doing, Zuzu?" Azula shouts in surprise, blocking more strikes.
"Defending my country," Zuko says. Zuko pulls his arms back and punches out, releasing an awe-inspiring inferno, looking itself like a comet in the night's sky.
Azula leaps back and cuts the inferno with her own fire. She was struck by the back-blast and tumbled to the ground. "Ooofff." She clambers to her feet and swirls her arms, electricity crackling between her fingers. With what felt like a mighty punch in the face by an ice golem, Azula is cast down. Aang stands over her and blasts her again.
Azula stands on her hands and spins around, kicking up an almighty ring of fire that repels her assailants. Aang and Zuko crash with a thud into crystal walls, while Katara skids to a halt, where she lies still. Zuko turns around and punches a ball of fire, destroying a rock glove. Dai Li agents swarm into the room. "Aang! Get my uncle and take Katara with you, I'll cover you!" Aang rushes through the passage and Zuko backs up, firebending his foes. Large crystals erupt from the ground and encase Zuko.
"Dai Li, arrest the traitor." Azula points to Zuko. Three agents advance on Zuko. The agents fly back, falling victim to a large blast of fire. Zuko breaks free and rushes to Iroh.
Zuko jumps into the fray and lashes out with fiery whips. He flings Dai Li agents around, but is at the mercy of their attacks. Rocks encase his feet and he is no longer able to move. Katara jumps to his rescue and attempts to flood the agents, to little avail.
Aang encases himself in a large crystal dome. Zuko resumes the offensive, trying to force back the Dai Li. "No way Ba Sing Se is falling!" Katara forms her octopus stance and tries to hold them off. Hearing a loud explosion, everyone looks to the crystal dome. Katara and Zuko look in hope, the rest in terror. Aang has ascended to the sky, his eyes glowing with power. Zaaappp. Electricity surges through Aang's body and he falls from the sky, like a plane being shot down over the English Channel. "No!" Zuko yells, drawing out the o. He looks at Azula, standing triumphantly, her two fingers extended.
Katara forms a large wave and rides it to Aang. She catches him mid air and holds his lifeless carcass. Tears stream down her face, she has lost the will to fight. Azula and an agent advance upon them. Two large fireballs block their path. Zuko and Iroh leap from their pillars and fire crescents of fire. "Come on! Let's get out of here!"
With a large jet of water, Katara carries herself and Aang out of the catacombs. Zuko and Iroh follow, propelled by blasts of fire and catching the wall in between jumps.
Appa flies from the city in the dark, stormy night. In addition to the regular passengers, Appa carries Bosco, the Earth King, Zuko and Iroh. Katara lies Aang's limp body on Appa and swirls the water from the vial around her neck over his wound. Aang opens his eyes and sees Katara. "Thanks, Katara!" Katara embraces him as he falls back into unconsciousness.
The Earth King looks longingly at the speck of the city still in their sight. "The Earth Kingdom has fallen!"
Iroh places his hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, Your Majesty, it will be free once more. Isn't that right, nephew?"
Zuko sits by Aang, trying to comfort him in whatever way possible. "Yes, Uncle."
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