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|The Capitol Part 3 - Blazing Passion|
25 February 2011
The Capitol Part 3 - Blazing Passion is the sixtieth chapter of.
As Team Avatar arrives in the Fire Nation capital, the plot their ultimate triumph.
Crouching and raising her arms, Toph raises a flight of steps leading to Appa's saddle. Sokka, Suki, Zuko and Katara all walk up the stairs, putting various supplies into the saddle. While Sokka, Suki, and Katara remained in the saddle, Zuko leapt off. He walks back inside, entering a sitting room. Ty Lee and Mai sit idly; Mai is staring at the wall while Ty Lee is playing with her hair braid. "Oh, hi Zuko!" the bubbly Warrior calls as the Fire Lord enters the room.
"Hi," he responds. "Mai," he says looking towards his wife, "You aren't coming."
Mai's trance is broken, and Zuko had suggested his plan in the wrong way. "What do you mean, I'm not coming?"
"It's not safe for you to come."
"I can handle myself!" Mai exclaims.
"I know you can, but these people are dangerous. If they could beat Jeong Jeong, I don't want them near you. Plus Appa can only carry so many people without stopping. I want this over as quickly as possible." Mai remains quiet, glaring at her husband with a silent fury.
"Don't worry Mai, I'll stay here with you!" Ty Lee adds as Aang slowly walks into the room.
"Zuko, we'll have to leave soon," the Avatar says.
"I'm sorry, Mai," Zuko says, turning towards her.
Looking towards Mai, Aang decides Zuko needs time alone, awkwardly sliding out of the room.
"I don't want you in danger. Promise me you'll stay here," Zuko asks, his voice begging for Mai's pity.
"I won't come with you," Mai aloofly replies, rising from her seat and motioning to Ty Lee. "Come on, we might as well go to the beach." Ty Lee flips out of her chair, landing on one hand before falling forward onto her feet. "Bye," Mai says, walking past Zuko and brushing her lips across his.
"Bye," Zuko says as he watches his wife and her friend leave the room with a smile. His face becomes more serious as he turns to look at the door. He leaves his father's house, closing the door behind him and turning to look towards Appa.
"Come on Zuko!" Aang yells jovially. Zuko nods his head and climbs up Appa. Sitting in the saddle, the Avatar calls to his bison. "Yip-Yip!" Appa takes off with a loud roar, soaring through the air and making a midair turn.
", here we come," Zuko mumbles.
The ship's crew stands in the ship's largest room. A makeshift stage had been made, with its floor situated only several feet off the ground.
paces onto the mound with his face covered by a standard issue Firebender mask. Despite his awkward appearance, his presence silenced the chattering crew. Beginning his speech, he used a deep, imposing voice that he felt would disguise his identity. "Men, recently we have lost a prisoner. He escaped from the ship's brig and ran through the ship. Eventually, he found my room and stated that he was going to take command of the ship. I dueled against him for some time, trying to capture him. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep him down and I had to resort to more fatal measures. The prisoner didn't make it through that night."
As the crew heard the news, Cho heard small murmurs. He put his hand in the air, motioning for silence. "I want you to know that he burnt my face. I want nothing more than for you to be able to look upon the face of your captain, but I will spare you that horrible sight. We had orders from the Fire Lord to transport the rebel to a high security prison, but due to his death I feel we must take other actions. We will sail to the Fire Nation capital, where I will make a report to whoever will hear me. When we arrive at the Capital, alert me, but remain on the ship. I'm not sure exactly how long it will take my story to be heard, so I ask for your patience."
Cho's eyes pan across the group of soldiers that are now under his command, and tries to decide how to conclude his speech. "Long live the Fire Nation!" Cho exclaims, thrusting his fist into the air to force a reaction from the group. His plan was effective, as the soldiers burst into screams of praise and agreement. Cho salutes the soldiers as he walks back to his room, awaiting the call that signaled their destination.
Mai and Ty Lee left the beach house. "Where are we going Mai?" Ty Lee asked as she did a few cartwheels in front of the Fire Lady.
"You'll see," Mai replies, with a small grin flashing across her normally stoic face. Upon reaching the bottom of the staircase, Mai pauses briefly before continuing towards the beach. She walks for a distance before she reaches the crowded, public part of the beach. "Great," Mai mumbles, disappointed that the tracks had vanished.
"What's wrong, Mai?" Ty Lee asks, having had no idea as to the original plan.
"I can't find Zhentu. I followed his tracks here, they've been washed away," Mai concludes.
"Don't worry Mai," Ty Lee begins. "We'll find him."
"Find who?" a familiar voice called. The two nobles turn to see Chan and Ruon-Jian, the last people on Ember Island they had wished to see.
"Not you two again," Mai replies.
"Do you have any idea what happened to me after you trashed my dad's house?" Chan asks rhetorically.
"Are we supposed to care?" Mai asks, trying to make the boy stop talking.
"We both got cut off!" Chan exclaims.
"Yeah!" Ruon-Jian bitterly adds.
"I'm sorry," Ty Lee says, actually concerned as to the boys' fate.
"Don't be," Mai orders, growing irritated with the two. "They deserved it. They're spoiled, good-for-nothing egotists!" Ruon-Jian simply flips his hair out of his eye in response, as Chan has nothing to say either. "Let's go," Mai adds, turning away from the two as she puts her hand on Ty Lee's shoulder. "We have someone better to find."
"Not so fast!" Chan exclaims, having regained his smug attitude. "You're going to pay for that!" he says while creating a fire ball. He thrusts his hands forward, launching the blast with it. As the two girls turn, they see the blast make a sharp turn and slowly dissipate.
"What happened?" Ruon-Jian asks as he takes a step back.
"I don't know!" Chan replies.
"Try again!" Ruon-Jian orders. Chan nods his head and sends another fire blast at the girls. As the fire approaches the girls, it sharply curves up. The two boys are shocked as a fire blast makes contact on the ground beneath their feet.
"Back off," a voice calls from the town. Zhentu paces closer, assuming a stance that signified his desire to defend the girls.
"Don't you know who we are?" Chan asks.
"It's not important to me. I just had a long time where I thought about who I was, and so I don't have time for you," Zhentu calmly replies, offending Chan and Ruon-Jian simultaneously.
"Who do you think you are?" Chan stutters, trying to catch Zhentu off guard.
"My name is. I've made some poor choices in the past, but I know that I will make up for them. And the first step to my redemption is to protect these two girls." Zhentu's tone was somber; as he explained himself, he remembered each of his ineffective decisions. "Now, kindly leave them be," Zhentu adds, scowling as he finished.
"I'll show you leaving them!" Chan barks, sending a fire ball at Zhentu. The former Phoenix Warrior splits the ball down the middle and retaliates with a small ball aimed at Chan's torso. The pompous teenager dodges, but positioned himself too close to his foe. Zhentu hooked his foot on the inside of Chan's leg, smiling at the arrogant Firebender. Zhentu pulls Chan's legs out from under him, causing him to fall backwards on top of Ruon-Jian.
"Now," Zhentu begins. "Leave them alone." As he concludes his order, the two run off down the beach, eventually vanishing from sight. Turning, he sees both Ty Lee and Mai staring at him. "Are you alright?" he asks the two.
"Yes, we're fine!" Ty Lee exclaims, clearly unscathed.
"You're going to take us to the Capitol," Mai orders, catching Zhentu off guard like Chan wished he could have moments before.
"Is that why we were going to find him?" the Kyoshi Warrior asked.
"Yes, and based on that speech you gave, you're ready to redeem yourself. You are going to prove to the Fire Lord that you are not a threat to peace," Mai finishes.
Stunned, Zhentu nods his head. "Yes, yes I'm ready! I will help free the Fire Nation."
"Then let's get going. It will be a long trip," Mai suggests, walking past Zhentu and motioning for the two to follow her.
"I won't let you down!" Zhentu adds as he follows the two girls.
The path to the capitol
Appa soars through the horizon as the sun sets. As Zuko stares into the sky, Sokka has his arm around Suki, explaining the training he received under Piandao, embellishing his story with motions from his free arm. Toph sat picking her toes, flicking the dirt over the side of Appa's saddle. Aang sat in the saddle, Katara in his arms. The two were making water flow between their hands, each taking turns forming the fluid into an intricate spiral or shape. The trip is made mostly in silence, as no one wished to disturb Zuko, who seemed entranced in thought. As nighttime fell, the members of Team Avatar fell asleep, one at a time until only the Fire Lord was awake.
Zuko reaches into his robe and withdraws the small picture of his family. Starting on the left, he places his thumb on his sister. "Azula: We have fought out entire lives. We were enemies, but you were my sister. I respect you for your determination, high standards, and your friends. Your death will not be in vain." Moving on from his sister, he sees the face of his father glaring at him. "Father, you were wrong to seek conquest over the world. You will never understand the necessity of balance. Initially, I admired you as a father, but I could never appreciate your rule. Your reign will not be forgotten." After Ozai, Zuko's serious expression faded, replaced by a much more solemn facade. "Mother, you spent your life protecting me, whether I knew it or not. The sacrifices you made have shaped me and will shape the future of the Fire Nation. I will miss your compassion, selflessness, and most of all, your love. I will extend it to the rest of the world," the Fire Lord finishes, placing the portrait into the small bag that constituted his possessions. As he closes the bag, he sees his face sticking out. "And I will never forget who I am."
Suddenly, Appa begins descending. The Team did not stir, and Zuko knew that he had to do something. Moving to the saddle, he pulls up on Appa's reigns to shock the bison awake. The Fire Lord looks around, eventually finding a small island on the horizon. "Come on Appa, just a bit further," Zuko coaches. Appa lands in the island's center, with Zuko looking back into the saddle. His friends remained asleep, prompting a slight smile.
Zuko looks through Appa's saddle, eventually finding the team's mats. He lays them on the ground before climbing into the saddle. "Zuko?" Katara's droggy voice calls into the darkness.
"Yeah, we've stopped for the night."
"Oh," she replies. She helps Zuko wake the team members who unconsciously lie down on their mats before drifting back to sleep. Sokka refuses to wake, so the Fire Lord lifts him and places him on his mat, but the Water Tribe Warrior grabs the Fire Lord's hair as he tries to put him down. Eventually, Zuko manages to remove Sokka's hand and lies down himself.
Ursa had grown used to her cell on the Phoenix Warrior ship. The ship had become mostly deserted, though she remained confused as to why. The only sound she heard was the guard who was assigned to patrol the ship. The guard would come in on occasion, bringing small amounts of food to keep her alive, though he would leave soon after.
Today he was late. When the door opens, it is not the guard, but Jiang Rha. "What do you want?" the Princess asks, trying to come off as authoritative.
"I'm here about your son." Jiang paces closer, eyeing the Princess for sheer intimidation.
"What did you do to him?" Ursa's anger was rising, furious that her only remaining child's life dangled before her.
"Nothing... Yet," the Admiral sneers.
"Then why do you need to know anything?"
"I would prefer to go find him instead of waiting for him to come and get us. I would think that after his capital fell he would be more inclined to return," Jiang taunts, his tone infuriating Ursa.
"Are we at the Capitol?"
"Yes, the Phoenix Capitol of the world. We will restart the conquest of the other nations from the shores of this island. That is, as soon as we have eliminated your son."
"You're a monster!"
"Call me what you wish, but he is a child, unfit to rule a nation as great as ours. He will be punished for daring to impersonate a ruler." Ursa is left silent after Jiang's reply. "So, where is he?"
"I don't know. I haven't seen him since Omashu, and I bet you've seen him since I have," Ursa states, both telling the truth and trying to bait a reaction from the heartless Admiral.
"Well, we will use you as bait," Jiang concludes, rising and turning his back to the Princess. "Goodbye."
Ursa stares at the Warrior's back as he exits the room, glaring fiercely and wishing that he would drop dead. "Zuko," she quietly mutters as a tear falls down her cheek.
A Familiar Morning
The majority of Team Avatar wakes up at the same time, looking at the sky and realizing they were on the ground. "Where are we?" Katara asks while rubbing her eyes.
"Did Appa crash?" Sokka asks while looking around.
"No," Zuko says dryly, his eyes still closed. "Appa was tired, so I landed him on the nearest island."
As Aang rises to his feet, he recognizes the island. "We've been here before!" the Avatar exclaims.
"Isn't this the island we were on before the Invasion?" Katara asks, glancing around.
"Yep. There's a few Koala sheep on the other side of the hill," Toph says, pointing over the hill to her right.
"Last time we were here we were about to invade the Fire Nation," Sokka begins.
"Well, we are going back now," Zuko says, rising and walking to Appa. "I'm not letting my country stay like this for another day."
"You won't have to," Aang says, placing his hand on Zuko's back. Aang propels himself onto Appa's neck, taking the reigns in his hand. "We have balance we need to restore." The team packs their sleeping bags and get onto Appa before the Avatar orders Appa's takeoff.
"I'm coming," Zuko says as he looks over the horizon.
Taken by storm
As Appa approaches the heart of the Fire Nation, Team Avatar prepares for battle. Aang locates his staff, hidden under Sokka's belongings, while Katara slings her water pouch over her shoulder. Sokka puts his sword and boomerang around his neck while Toph sits and cracks her knuckles. "You ready for this?" Toph asks bluntly, unaware she was facing in Zuko's direction.
"Yes," Zuko calmly replies. Inhaling deeply, the Fire Lord looks over the horizon and sees the top of a volcano crater. "We're here!"
Appa flies closer, and Sokka notices the plaza's docks. "Guys! The Phoenix Warriors boats are still docked!"
"It's just like the invasion," Katara notes.
"Then we should take out their escape route!" Sokka suggests. Zuko quickly vaults over Appa's saddle and propels himself towards the ground, slowing down at the last possible second and touching the ground softly. He glances into the sky and sees Aang flying down on his glider, followed by Appa.
Zuko runs towards the ship but hears a scream from behind. "Halt!" As the Fire Lord turns around, he sees a group of approaching Phoenix Warriors. Zuko assumes a ready stance, preparing for the Warrior's initial attack. Before the Phoenix Warriors can even launch a fire blast, Aang crashed into the ground, sending a wave of land that mows through most of the group.
As the Avatar and the Fire Lord watch the defeated Warriors struggle back to their feet, Appa touches down in the center of the capital plaza. "Guys, we've got more trouble!" Sokka exclaims, pointing at the gates to the city. A swarm of Phoenix Warriors charge at Team Avatar, sending various fire projectiles at the peacekeepers.
Aang blows several away while the rest of the team dodge the few remaining blasts. Zuko sprints past Aang, sending attacks in all directions ahead of him. Toph punches the ground, raising a pillar of earth beneath a Phoenix Warrior and lifting him into the air.
Katara wraps the Warrior's leg in a whip and pulls him into the ground, knocking him out. She releases him and blocks a fire blast from another Warrior. Katara turns to see another Warrior about to attack her, but he slumps to the ground, revealing Sokka behind him. The siblings duck to avoid a fire blast sent by Katara's opponent and the Waterbender wraps her water around the Warrior's feet. She pulls his legs from under him, toppling him to the ground. Katara freezes his limbs to the ground, sealing the Warrior against the earth.
"That's from the Water Tribe!" Sokka exclaims as the two move on to another battle.
Toph slides her feet along the rough ground. She lifts and stomps her left foot, sensing the Phoenix Warrior approaching from her left. The blind Earthbender spins and again thrusts her foot into the ground. A rock levitates above the ground at the girl's shoulder level. Toph stomps again, sensing another Warrior while simultaneously punching the floating stone. As the rock moves forward, Toph raises an earth wall behind her that blocks a fire blast.
The projectile makes contact, disabling it's target as a threat. By the time the rock had left Toph's control, she had begun dealing with her new opponent. Toph punches the wall, and a section is sent hurling towards the Warrior. The rock connects, though the Warrior remains standing. He sends another fire blast, though Toph effortlessly dodges. From behind the wall, Toph swings her arms and stomps the earth. The Warrior is stunned when pillars of earth emerge from his side, knocking him into the plaza wall. Toph arrives at the wall, pinning her hands to the earthen structure and using it to contain her opponent.
Toph sinks into the earth, confusing the Warriors she was battling. She rises behind the largest, sending a boulder into his back that brings him to his knees. Another approaches the blind bender from behind, only to be thrust into the air by a rising earth column. When he hits the ground behind her, Toph sends him into the plaza wall. As the Warrior slumps to the ground, two more charge Toph. "Come on," the little girl mutters as she stomps the ground and pulls her arms closer to her body. The earth beneath the two erupts, sending the two Warriors soaring through the air, passing Toph and crashing into a Warrior who was dueling Sokka.
Aang and Zuko were on the other side of the plaza, facing the remaining Phoenix Warriors. "Come here little Prince," an older Warrior calls to Zuko, taunting the rightful occupant of the throne. Zuko sends an arc of fire at the Warrior, forcing him to stop his words and start action. The Warrior sends a fire blast at Zuko, though the Fire Lord counters with his own. The Warrior's blast is engulfed by Zuko's and the Warrior collapses to the ground, his chest burnt.
Aang blows a Warrior into another while lifting a third into the air. He is blown into the plaza wall, where the wall swallows the Warrior, binding his limbs to the rock wall. When Aang turns, he sees Suki handling the remaining two Warriors, leaping around them and dodging their fire blasts. With a few swift jabs to his arms and back, the first Warrior slumps to the ground. While he growls in anger at his defeat, the second falls in the same way.
Toph raises an earth wall in front of Suki to block a fire blast, quickly moving as the wall moves towards the attacker. He was the last Warrior in the plaza, and Toph decided he would be her opponent. She thrusts her hand into the ground, sending a fissure that causes the Warrior's legs to sink into the ground and raises earth from around him to cover his arms.
As Toph secures the final Phoenix Warrior, Zuko turns to the ships. "They may have more soldiers in the ships. We have to make sure that they don't get away." Zuko sprints off towards the ship with the Team following him. Arriving on the deck of the ship, Zuko sees the anchors dropped. "We should make it so they can't sail away, even if they want to." Toph nods while walking briskly past Zuko. She places her hands on the anchor's control mechanism, crushing the metal object before crossing the deck to destroy the other anchor.
"Done!" the Metalbender replies with a smile.
"Let's check under the deck," Sokka replies.
"There aren't that many people below," Toph replies. "I can barely feel any motion."
"But we need to get them all," Aang replies.
"True..." Toph replies as the rest of the team runs to the stairs. As they enter the main hallway, the Warriors glance out of their room in confusion. Aang sends an air gust that blows several into the far wall. Toph causes the wall to push the Warriors away, each hitting a different wall. She rips metal from the ceiling and binds the Warriors to the wall.
"Wow," Sokka says in awe. "That was fast."
"I know," Toph replies. "That's all of them on this ship though."
"There are two more," Zuko quickly adds.
"Then what are we waiting for?" the Water Tribe Warrior asks. He runs off and the team follows. Sokka is first on the next deck, though his loud antics had alerted the several Warriors on the ship that someone was coming. One prepared to launch a fire blast at the swordsman, but stops when he sees a massive wave rising from the ocean. Katara swings her arms down, breaking the water and pushing all Warriors on deck either overboard or into the ship's low wall.
Toph quickly runs below deck, feeling for any sign of a hidden Warrior. "That's all on this ship!" she calls up. The team runs to the other ship, though Aang simply leaps over to the final vessel. Touching down on the deck gently, the Avatar waits for his friends to make their way onto the ship. As Toph makes it onto the buoyant metal vessel, she stops abruptly. "I don't feel anyone," she says, kneeling down to feel more. "Wait, there are two people, but they're on the bottom level."
Zuko runs past Aang and towards the stairs, descending to the bottom floor and looking for any signs of the two people he must deal with. He kicked down a door, luckily encountering one of the Warriors. Zuko launches a jet of fire into the room, but the rebel manages to roll out of the blast's range.
"It's you," the Warrior mumbles, just loud enough that Zuko can hear it.
"Yes, it's me," Zuko replies while launching another attack and entering the room. The two trade fire blasts for a while, circling the room. The Warrior is overwhelmed and tries to exit the room, but the door wraps around his body and pins him to the wall.
"That is still cool!" Sokka exclaims, entering the room and taunting the Warrior.
"Thanks," Toph replies with a grin. Zuko runs past them, though he stops in the hall.
"Toph, where is the last one?" he asks.
"I feel something in the last room over there," Toph replies, "But-"
Zuko ignores the blind girl as he runs down the hall. He kicks the door in and prepares to battle, but stops when he sees the room's occupant. "Mom?" Zuko manages to whisper as he gazes upon his mother. Team Avatar files into the room behind him, and most of them are equally stunned.
"Zuko," Ursa mutters, barely more audible than her son's line a moment earlier. Zuko runs to the bars, but he cannot break them. Sensing this, Toph walks past the team members and peels the bars apart, freeing the Princess.
The two royals embrace each other, a tear falling down each's face. "I thought I lost you," Zuko says. "Again."
"I'm here now, and I will not leave again," the Princess replies, cradling the Fire Lord tighter in her arms.
On the Doorstep
Zhian parts the curtains of the Fire Lord's chamber, exiting the darkened room. As he walks through the halls, he stops at the gallery of Fire Lord Portraits. "Where you have failed, I will triumph," he mumbles to himself with a smirk.
"Sir!" a voice from behind calls. The colonel turns to see a messenger approaching. The runner bows and begins his report. "One of our officers reported seeing large fire blasts coming from the Capital plaza, sir. After closer inspection, we noticed a Flying Bison was in the area. We've not received any reports from the ships since, so we have concluded that it must be the Avatar and the Fire Lord."
"Hmph," Zhian scoffs. "Fitting that I will defeat the pretender to the throne outside my palace." The Colonel sets of at a brisk pace, passing the messenger who begins tagging along.
"Do you have orders, sir?"
"I would recommend stalling the Avatar," a voice from the shadows notes.
"Admiral Rha," Zhian mutters sarcastically. "Thank you for your input. Send anyone that is occupying the Capital to battle against this invading group." The messenger nods and runs off, carrying the orders to officers who would put them into action.
"Why are you opting for such rash actions?" Jiang blurts out, unable to handle the decimation of the organization he had built from scratch.
Zhian, seemingly ignoring the Admiral, begins walking away. "That's what you don't seem to understand. We have the legitimate Fire Lord available. We are technically rebels, and as such we are not entitled to command anything. But if someone defeats the Fire Lord in an Agni Kai, the title is shifted. I will finish this teenager and begin the conquest of the world." As Jiang stares at his young leader, Zhian motions for him to follow. "Come, we have work to do."
Princess Ursa holds her son in a tight embrace and the two begin to realize the prevalent danger. After a seeming eternity flew by, Ursa relinquished her hold on her son. "You need to know that the rebels have taken over the Capital," Ursa says, believing she is informing her son of vital information.
"I know," the Fire Lord replies, his joy quickly shifting to stoicism.
"We're going to go get it back!" Toph exclaims, cracking a large grin.
"It's not like this is going to be easy," Sokka interjects.
"Then what do you propose?" Suki responds.
Sokka sighs and prepares to describe his plan. "Well, since the Phoenix Warriors know that they are under siege, they would want to spread out, you know, seize hold of the Capital so they can use any advantage they've got."
"So what does that mean, idea guy?" Toph asks sarcastically. Sokka shoots her a glare that she couldn't see and continues with his plan.
"So, I think we should work in sections. We should secure the Palace first, since it's in the center of the city. Once we've got it, we work our way around the city, taking out any Warriors we find."
"What do we do after that?" Katara asks.
"Put them in jail or something?" Sokka responds, exasperated the barrage of questions.
"Zuko," Aang says to his friend. "Are you ready?" The Fire Lord nods his head before hugging his mother one more time.
"Stay here, please," he begs, his fear only slightly soothed when his mother replied with a nod of her head and a smile. "We will be back for you!" he adds as he sprints down the hall, determined to end the rebellion.
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