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|The Final Battle, Part 2: Behind the Mask|
Aang and Jun glared at each other, each moment more intense than the next. That is when Aang asked the question. "Jun, why do you even want me and my friends dead? You have been trying to kill us this whole time, but you have never told us why!"
"I have my reasons, Aang. You do not need to know why. All you need to know is that you will die!" Jun retorted.
"Who are you?!" Aang had wanted to ask this question ever since that day that felt like it was years ago, when the ancient Lion Turtle told him about Jun.
"Sorry, Aang, but the only way you will ever see behind this mask is if you take it off yourself!" shouted Jun.
"That is exactly what I plan to do!" Aang spat back. And he would. Aang needed to know who was behind the mask of Jun, his greatest enemy. More so than Ozai, Azula, Long Feng, Zhao, or anyone else he had encountered. He had to know the face beneath that mask. He just had to.
"Why don't you three stand down," Jun ordered his companions. "This is a battle between me and Aang."
Zhao and Long Feng obliged and left the scene. Only Azula was left. "You-you don't want my help?" she quivered.
"No. I wish to fight Aang alone," Jun responded. "But... I thought you valued me. You said my skills were enough to help you," Azula protested. She did not want to feel this way again, betrayed by the one person left she trusted.
"Azula, I suggest you stop talking," Jun ordered.
"We have always done everything together! You said I could help you kill Aang!" Azula's voice was rising.
"Silence, Azula! I have never said any such thing! I have no need for you in this battle! Now go and join the others!"
Azula stood frozen for a few moments. "My mother was right! I should have killed you and Zhao when I had the chance in Yu Dao! You don't care about me! You have just been using my rage as a weapon against the Avatar and his friends! You think you don't need me?! I HAVE ACTUALLY KILLED HIM BEFORE!!" Azula charged at her master with all of her rage but was struck by a bolt of lightning and was knocked backwards before striking. The former Princess was shocked to have been struck down by her most trusted ally. "Aang," Azula's voice was barely a whisper. "Tell Zuko, Katara, and my mother: I am sorry," these were Azula's last words before she was dead silent on the ground.
"I warned her not to forget her place," Jun repeated the very same threat he had made two months ago.
Aang then Airbent Jun into the mountainside with brutal force, catching Jun by surprise. "You think you are invincible?! Think again!"
The Fire Navy ships were a great disguise. It was helpful to have Fire Nation soldiers on the side of good. The Resistance had made it past the Great Gates of Azulon and were about to dock in the Royal Plaza. Once they were docked, several Fire Nation soldiers came to the ships. "Hello, what cargo are you delivering?" asked one of them. The ships opened their bows and released Fire Nation tanks as well as Caterpillar Tanks and many men and women.
"It's an invasion!" yelled the woman who had spoken earlier. She and the few the guards stationed on the beaches in the plaza were trampled to death by the Resistance.
"Alright, you all know the drill! We are going to do this the way it's been done twice before! Take out all of the guards in the plaza and secure the palace!" Zuko gave the order.
"You heard the man! Let's go!" Mai called out.
"Everyone stop!" Zuko tried reasoning with his people. "You don't have to do this! We can overthrow Banhen and live in peace once again!" The soldiers ignored their former Fire Lord and sent fiery orange streams of fire at him. Zuko had no choice but to retaliate.
There were battlements firing at the invasion force but Omar took care of several of them by crushing them with Metalbending, while Ping lashed out at many of the soldiers with fire whips. "Keep going, buddy!" Ping urged his friend. Omar continued to take out the battlements with little difficulty.
Ai, Toph, and Kato had broken through many troops already and had demolished most of the tanks when they heard a familiar voice yell out. Warden Mung was about to burn his foes to a crisp with a fire slash but was knocked over by a surprise attack from Suki. "You children think you can't keep a secret, can you?" Mung asked, smugly.
"What do you mean?" asked Ai.
"He means we knew you were coming!" Chao shot a fire disk at the heroes but they were unharmed. "What!?" Chao asked, puzzled. Where had the ice shield come from? He wondered.
Chao was then blown back by Katara's wave. "Leave my friends alone!" she shouted.
"Good job, Katara!" Sokka commentated, catching up with his friends. "This is just great!" Mai shouted angrily. "What's to say they already have not set up some kind of trap at the top of that volcano?"
"It could be a trap, but we have to go on. If we don't, we still lose," Zuko said.
"Yeah, but we will still be alive," Suki pointed out. The resistance then heard an explosion and knew what it must have meant. The tower separating the plaza from the volcano had just been taken down.
"Okay, everyone, this is it! We need to get up there, find Banhen and secure the palace!" Zuko ordered. His friends stared at him; doubt written all over their faces. "Trust me," The former Fire Lord spoke.
"Come on guys!" Omar urged.
"We can do this!" Pakku declared.
Toph looked Kato in the eyes before going anywhere. "Kato, this might be the last time we ever see each other. I want you to know something, we may not have been dating for that long and I guess I'm not the best at saying this kind of mushy stuff, but I think I lov-"
"Toph, you don't have to say it. I know you love me and there is something I want you to know too," Kato replied.
"What is it Kato?" Toph prepared for the most romantic moment of her life but instead, Kato pulled out his blade and stabbed Omar through the back. Toph was frozen with horror; she felt tears instantly form in her eyes.
"What have you done?" Omar whispered before dying on the ground.
"What Lord Banhen has asked of me," Kato replied. He then stabbed Pakku in his center, causing him to die as well.
Katara was overcome with sadness. "Grandfather!" She screamed.
Kato was already bolting away from the invasion force, stabbing as many troops as he could. Team Avatar was too shocked and saddened to speak. Before any of them could say anything, Toph was running as fast as she could in Kato's direction. Pretty soon she was sliding on earth, her eyes stinging, her heart split in two. She would kill Kato, and make him pay for deceiving her and her friends.
Aang and Jun had been battling furiously. Aang sent an Airbending slice at Jun who avoided it by ducking low and creating a fire slash with his feet. Aang took advantage of the rocky terrain and threw about seven large boulders at Jun. With unbelievable speed, Jun jet propelled himself into the sky and front-flipped on the way down, encasing himself with fire and then hurling it at his opponent. Aang raised a large earth shield to defend himself but it was destroyed on impact. The Avatar was blown back but managed to catch himself. He took seven large rocks out of the ground and surrounded himself with them on all sides. Rotating the rocks in the air, he bombarded Jun with them. Jun destroyed several, by blasting them with lightning but was thrown backwards by three of them. Two shadows had been hiding on the mountaintops, waiting for just the right moment which was now. Long Feng and Zhao transported their own ways down the mountainside and held Aang down. Jun got up and once again tried to Energybend his foe. As a last resort, Aang knew the time had come to end someone's life. He breathed fire into Zhao's and Long Feng's faces, causing them to scream in pain.
That was an unexpected move. Jun thought. "It was my understanding that you were not comfortable with killing others," he said.
"I had no choice," Aang responded. Long Feng and Zhao had finally fallen down and their screaming had been silenced. Aang was disgusted with himself. The fact that he had just killed two people was horrifying. He decided not to focus on that now, he needed to focus on his battle with Jun. "I will ask you one last time before I end this, who are you?"
Jun said nothing and remained silent for about a minute. "You wish to know of my true identity, Aang? Very well, it is time I revealed myself and used my true power to win this battle." Jun slowly removed the mask that covered his face and threw it to the floor. Aang was stunned. He almost literally could not believe the face he saw under the mask of Jun. "You wanted to see my face?! This is who I am!!" Jun's voice boomed.
Aang was speechless. He could only whisper the name of the man beneath the mask of Jun. "Xian."
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