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|The Dimension Jumper: Agni Kai|
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Prince Zuko gazed at the figure writhing in its bonds, "Say goodbye to your friends, Avatar. You're headed for the Fire Nation."
Bound to the iron walls of the ship with rough, heavy chains, Aang was suspended off the ground in a spread eagle position. He tugged at his manacles in an attempt to free himself, but to no avail. Blood ran down his arms from where the cuffs cut into his skin as well as from numerous other lacerations from vicious beatings; Zuko's troops only relented because the prince feared the Avatar would perish. After being put in this pitiful chamber, the soldiers made sure to go out of their way to throw a few punches at the vulnerable Avatar. He had been beaten so badly, he could barely see out of his left eye.
Everything now was a dark blur leaving him to rely on his other senses. A damp, musky odor saturated the room in seemingly noxious concentrations. Each inhalation was accompanied with an overwhelming urge to retch. While Aang remained silent, retreating to the most secluded recesses of his consciousness. The soldiers gave him very little drink, and even less food. The situation was dismal: he was trapped and alone.
"Get comfortable, Avatar. You'll be here for a long time," Zuko left the chamber and locked the iron door with a heart dropping clang.
The night was illuminated by a dazzling display of fire, dissapating the cold night air and replacing it with a scalding heat. Zuko turned away from the wall of fire, dividing the flames out of reflex. On the other side of the flames stood a young man opposing him.
"You're a firebender?" he asked, wide eyed.
Chet shrugged, "I told you we're alike."
Zuko's look of astonishment quickly turned into a sly smile, "Well, then you wouldn't mind a small agni kai would you?" he turned to his soldiers, "Get the Avatar on the ship! I'll take care of this one."
The soldiers nodded in unison and began wrestling the Avatar up the loading ramp. They restrained him with rope and when he struggled, they dealt fierce blows to subdue him. Katara's feeble attacks barely affected the endless ranks of soldiers. They disregarded her as a fattened cow ignores the droves of flies that swarm it; and continued moving up into the ship. With the Avatar aboard, the vessel rumbled to life and carved its way out of the ice to sea.
Chet lashed out at Zuko, "Let him go!"
"You'll have to beat me first," the young prince smiled, as he began circling his opponent.
Chet mimicked his opponent's actions, breathing quickly and deeply. The two combatants revolved around each other, waiting for the other to strike. Their eyes, wary for the slightest sign of attack. Chet's heart pounded like a hammer, threatening to jump out of his chest.
Zuko gestured his hand towards himself, "Your move, firebender."
Chet naively lunged forward at Zuko, sacrificing his balance and stability. His fist, surrounded in flames, sped by his opponent's ear and collided nothing but the cold winter air. In response, Zuko snatched Chet's outstretched wrist and threw a ferocious elbow with his other arm, making contact with Chet's face. A sickening crack resonated across the flat landscape; a horrible sound that rattled the spine. Reeling from the blow, Chet was sporting a bloody lip and what felt like a broken nose.
He was still gathering himself when a bright orange light filled his eyes. Crossing his arms over his face, Chet felt the immense heat and power of Zuko's blasts bearing down upon him. Trying with all his might to hold off the onslaught, Chet's arms quickly became burnt and seared with pain. His sleeves had disintegrated and his forearms were red and blistering. If he did not act soon, he would be cooked alive. Ducking underneath a wild blast, he found an opening to retaliate. He hastily threw two wild streams of flame at Zuko, both missing and hitting the snow wall with a disheartening "psst".
"Give up, you've lost." Zuko closed the ground separating the two in the blink of an eye, swiftly swept an arm around Chet's left leg, and shoved him in the chest, sending him flailing again to the cold ground. Grunting in pain and frustration, Chet wiped the snow from his eyes to see Zuko strut over towards him.
The prince glared down at the mass of wet clothes and sweat, "You have no skill whatsoever. I have spent years training, preparing for the worst, and this is what I get." He pointed at Chet, "You can't even throw a proper punch at me."
Chet looked up at Zuko and clenched his fists, his nails digging into his skin. He was shaking with fury, melting the snow around him with his immense body heat. His anger had taken a hold of him, which unfortunately, was not a new story.
As a child Chet always played alone, whether at home, on the playground, or at a party. On the rare occasion that someone did play with him, more often that not the encounter ended with one or both children in tears. And ten out of ten times: tears of anger. Chet's father always made remarks to family members: "You'll have to excuse my boy here, he's a congenital recluse." This remark always garnered a positive response, and always an equally strong negative response in Chet.
That had been over a decade ago but this instant was no different. Looking up at Zuko, Chet felt hot tears well up in his eyes, threatening to cascade down his face. He was a ticking time-bomb, ready to explode at any given moment. Zuko, however, disregarded Chet's overwhelming anger.
He crossed his arms and shook his head at the pitiful sight before him. "I used to hear from everyone that I had no self-control but from the nature of your attitude, I find myself relieved. You're an angry mess."
All Chet could respond with was a guttural growl. An immense inferno, began to form around him, steam filled the air. He was but a mere cornered beast at this point. Injured and looking at his fate before him, awaiting his superior's next move.
"You are a disgrace to all of humankind. You wallow in the snow and dirt like a pig. You're blinded by hate and anger. You cannot accomplish anything." Zuko stated with an intense tone of finality. "It's time we rid the world of failures like you."
Chet's eyes widened as two fierce daggers of flame materialized in Zuko's palms. He took one step, two steps, moving steadily closer to Chet. He was watching death bear down upon him. His heart raced, and he did the only thing he could do at the present time: think.
Why can't I control myself! He thought back to what Roku said to him. I need to calm myself before I get more angry and reckless. Only then can I be in full control of my actions. Actions that are not governed by hate or anger.
"Whoa, where did that come from," Chet whispered to himself. He was amazed at how quickly he came to a solution.
With Zuko a mere arm's length away from him, Chet smiled, stood up, and carefully brushed off the snow that clung to his clothes. Lastly, wiping his brow of his sweat, Chet returned his gaze to a surprised Zuko. His astonishment amused Chet, and also, gave him an idea.
"We are alike aren't we?" Chet asked Zuko, "In that case, from the looks of your face, I'm sure glad that I was scarred on the inside!" Chet smiled, and readied his stance, and motioned for Zuko to make his move.
Zuko's face became white with fury, and his mouth distorted into an awful shape, "You'll regret that! Arrghhh!" Zuko drew his hand back to unleash a fire blast. Chet foresaw what was about to happen and breathed in deeply. As the fire leaped off Zuko's outstretched arm, Chet anticipated the attack and sidestepped it, letting the wild blast collide with a fur tent, setting it ablaze.
"Hey, Prince Zuky! Does that scar affect your aim?" Chet again let out a loud bark of laughter, in hopes of angering Zuko even more.
Chet watched a maniacal Zuko charge at him, wielding two blades of flame. Paying close attention to Zuko's biomechanics, Chet noticed his gait was much more irregular, and his running efficiency was greatly impaired. It's like the only thing he wants right now is to rent me limb from limb.
"The tables have turned." Chet said. He resumed a fighting stance and awaited contact.
When Zuko was close enough he let out a howl and swung blindly with his fire daggers, hoping desperately to get Chet any way he could. Reading his every move, Chet sidestepped each attack with his hands casually tucked behind his back. He gracefully slipped around a few more strikes, then threw his arm forward, like a snake lunging at its prey, and grabbed a hold of Zuko's top knot. Pulling down, Chet brought the prince to the snow at last. Feeling calm and composed Chet gazed out at the village. Katara had untied Sokka, and the two were busy putting out the wild conflagration that had commanded the backdrop.
Bringing his attention back to the foreground, he saw Zuko out of the corner of his eye recovering from his fall and preparing to attack once again. Instead of aiming at Chet, however, he was aiming at the ground. No flames left Zuko's hands but rather, a blinding flash of orange.
A loud whooshing sound filled his ears, and copious amounts of smoke shrouded everything from view. Chet stumbled into the smoke, waving his arms around for any sign of Zuko. After bringing this much pain and suffering to the Southern Water Tribe, the Fire Nation Prince would not get away that easily. Suddenly, a dark silhouette shot out of the smoke above him. Zuko was flying, with firebending. Gazing back at the tribe, the prince's eyes were wide and bloodshot. His hair was disheveled and his garments were ripped and soaking.
"Say goodbye to the Avatar!" A deranged Zuko screamed at Chet. "You'll never get him back!"
Turning around, Zuko flew into the horizon, following the lonely smoke trail of his ship...
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