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10 December 2010
Penalties is the forty sixth chapter of.
faces the consequences of running away from his mission.
The man sprints north. It's all he knows. South is doom at the hands of savages, east, the same thing. West is an impassable ocean for his current condition, and deviating from his route in any way would essentially spell out his death. He only knew a general idea of where his contact would be. Upon reaching a clearing, the man collapses from exhaustion. "Accursed Avatar..." the man silently mumbles to himself.
He had been running for days. His unit's defeat has ruined his career. The man looks nearby and sees a relatively good sized animal, and his survival instincts kick in. He springs to his feet and sends a jet of fire at the beast, killing it to provide him nourishment for the night. Within the hour, he had a fire cooking the animal. "Captain Zifu will not stand for this any more. I will get my honor back." After finishing his meal, he heads again north.
After a few days of his travel, he arrives at his destination: Taku. The once flourishing city had been devastated early during the War and abandoned. The Phoenix Warriors had begun using the city as a base within the Earth Kingdom. While walking into the campsite, he drew odd glances from the other Warriors. His armor was both cracked and burnt; his entire aura seemed depressed, and slightly off.
He looks around, and quickly discerns that the commanding officer's area was ahead. "Hey! What happened to you? Did you get hit by a meteor?" one Warrior jeers, prompting laughter from his group of friends around him. Several similar jokes follow.
He ignores the soldier's glances for a while, until one comment happened to go too far. What, are you crazy? Say something! That made him snap. Zifu turned and sent a fire ball at the soldiers, who managed to disperse the blast.
"I prefer to let my fire do the talking. I think you should listen closely!" Zifu jests back, sending more waves of fire towards the soldiers. The Firebenders disperse the blasts as the non-benders move forward with their swords and spears. Zifu dodges the sword slashes, and grabs hold of the first spear that is jabbed at him. He swings the spear, and the soldier holding it crashes into several of the other benders. He breaks the spear in half while walking away from the group of defeated soldiers. "I think it's done talking for now..." Zifu says over his shoulder.
Search for the Captain
"Well, this is helpful..." Toph mutters from Appa's saddle. The rest of the team look around for any signs of burning villages, a telltale sign that Zifu had been at a village.
"I know! I think that we should just-"
"Shut up, Sokka!" Katara orders in a sarcastic tone.
"What? I was suggesting that we land for lunch. I'm starving."
"You always are starving," Toph adds.
"If there's one thing I know about Sokka, it's that he loves to eat," Aang replies.
"On the way back home from the Boiling Rock, all he would talk to me about was how he hated the prison food," Zuko adds.
"What? It wasn't good!" Sokka exclaims.
"But food won't help us find Zifu, will it?" Katara asks.
"Well, it couldn't hurt. We foundone time because we were hungry. It couldn't hurt to try. Who knows, maybe we'll find the Phoenix Warriors trying to take this village over?"
"Wow. He's actually right. I'm hungry too, so let's go down buddy!" Aang says to Appa, pulling his reigns and directing him towards a village in the Earth Kingdom.
Zifu enters the tent, looking for someone who appeared authoritative. The tent is empty, and looks like everything from inside has been taken out. Zifu bursts out of the tent furiously. "Where is the leader here?" he barks to the soldiers in the area.
"Sir, he was getting ready to leave. His ship just got here. You may still be able to catch him." The soldier points to where the ship was, and Zifu races off to catch the ship. He runs up the ramp and onto the deck.
The soldiers on the ship look quickly to see who arrived on their ship, but decided not to care after realizing he was a Fire Nation soldier. "I'm looking for the commander of this camp. Bring him up here!" Zifu barks at the soldiers, who feel compelled to obey. They go under the deck and soon arrive with a younger man, in his twenties and in light armor.
"What do you want?" the man asks.
"What do I want? I want to get more troops!"
"You want more troops. Sorry, I don't have any to spare. You'll have to deal with how many you have."
"That's what you don't understand. Mine were all captured or killed! I don't have any more!"
"Then maybe you're just not a good leader."
"What?" Zifu snarls.
"I didn't mumble. I meant it. Your men were captured because you are not a good leader, not for any other reason. You should accept it."
Zifu is infuriated. He is being disrespected by this younger excuse for an officer. He probably wasn't any good of a leader himself. He was about to speak, but he is cut off by a voice coming from behind the younger officer.
"I think that this is a dispute of honor." The two, along with the rest of the crew of the ship, turn and bow in respect to. "There is only one way to settle disputes of honor: Agni Kai."
"I will destroy you!" Zifu yells to the younger officer.
"When is the duel, sir?"
"You will fight at mid day." Jiang decides. "Don't dissapoint."
"Yes, sir," both soldiers say in unintentional unison.
Zifu glares in rage at his young opponent. I will not lose.
An unsuccessful mission
"Thank you for the meal!" Katara calls back to the restaurant owner.
"We'll find the Phoenix Warriors secretly taking over this town!" Toph points out.
"Okay... I was wrong. I get it," Sokka says in his defense. "At least we're not hungry any more." Sokka points out.
"But we still have no idea where the Phoenix Warriors are. Or Zifu. For all we know, he could be burning a village to the ground right now!" Zuko says. "He's ruining what we're trying to fix. He's more important than us feeling hungry!"
"Fine. We'll go back up, and try and find him again. We'll fix everything Zuko. I won't let myself fail the world again," Aang says calmly, though the pain he had been through echoed through his voice.
The two officers stand on opposite ends of a large clearing. The ground is barren, and void of any life. They slowly turn to face each other, staring at each other from the distance.
"This will settle things. Only one of you will leave here today. Begin!" Jiang Rha orders from the center of the clearing. The two quickly assume their stances and begin circling each other. Zifu is the first to make a move, with a swirling fireball. The officer breaks up the blast, smiling while kicking in an arc, sending an arc of the same length towards Zifu. Zifu parts the blast, sending the segments back at the officer as a new attack. The commander stops the small blasts in their tracks and makes them fade into nothing. The commander has a smirk on his face, and he swipes his arms around in the air, forming large fire arcs. The arcs converge into a large fire ball, and the officer launches the ball at Zifu. Zifu shoots a large jet into the ball, but the jet fades into the ball. Zifu is knocked to the ground, but gets up quickly.
While he's getting up, Zifu was raising fire in a circle around him. He pulls the fire from around him and forms it into a powerful ball, and launches it towards his opponent. The blast is weakened on its way towards its target, and the ball is redirected towards Zifu. The ball's intensity flares as it gets closer to Zifu, and he dives to the side to avoid it.
"This is what I meant by being weak!" the officer yells to Zifu.
"Shut up!" Zifu snarls as he slowly rises to his feet.
"What are you going to do if I don't? You just duck and run like you're some kind of coward. You're a disgrace to the Fire Nation, and this is why I'm taking the liberty of ending your career."
"Shut... UP!" Zifu screams, almost sounding like a child with his tone. The commander begins creating large arcs of stationary fire around him, forming the large fire ball again. This one seemed larger, and Zifu's repeated fire blasts seemed to be absorbed into the large attack. The commander smiled briefly while he threw the ball towards Zifu. While Zifu braced himself, his opponent began swinging his fingertips in a circular motion. Zifu managed to somehow stop the blast, and began trying to swing it behind him. The only opening that his opponent could see was there, and the lightning was sent into Zifu's side.
The fire ball disperses quickly as Zifu falls to the ground, clutching his side and barely clinging to life. His opponent slowly walks up to him, raises his hand, and yellow sparks form as fire blazes in his hands. The flame grows in both size and intensity, and eventually begins shrinking in his opponent's hand. "You..." The fire comes bellowing down on Zifu's face and upper torso, burning him alive. "Lose." the commander says to himself, stepping over Zifu's body towards Jiang Rha.
"Excellent job, Colonel," Jiang Rha says.
"Thank you, sir." the Colonel says with a bow. Jiang motions for the Colonel to follow him to the ship, and he nods to accept.
- The Agni Kai originally took place on the ship rather in a field.
For the collective works of the author, go here.