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Offline Seluna

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Winners Announcement!
« on: March 25, 2013, 07:12:26 AM »
We had a small, but fruitful number of entries during our Villain Appreciation Event! And it's with great pleasure I tell you that all our participants have made their way into the TKC Bender Booklets! Let's revisit our fine entries!




AIR

Spirit is also a very important subset of air's element, and thus we have two immaculate paintings demonstrating the spirits and all their glory. Why even I once alluded that my abilities were a gift from this ethereal realm!


Full version here!




WATER


Title: Blood Moon
Author: Cassidy Alice
Rating: T
Note: This fic is somewhat rambling and disjointed, but was written that way based on the assumption that the villian might write in such a manner. ^^'


Blood Moon (click to show/hide)
There's a full moon tonight. I can feel it. The urge to bloodbend is strong, but there's no use in it. I haven't a chance to escape.

The cell is small and damp. The food here is barely edible, but there's little for sustenance other than the awful prison gruel. Other than eating, there's little to do here besides keep to myself and think. I've done plenty of that these last few days. It hasn't been pleasant.

The weather outside has gotten colder. I haven't once been let out for air, but I can still tell. Perhaps this year, it'll snow. It's been far too long since I've seen the snowy plains of the Southern Water Tribe. The Fire Nation is nothing like the Poles. In all my years here, I can count the number of times it has snowed. The people here can't stand it, but I long for it. Given matters here, I doubt I'll be able to return to the South Pole before I die. I'd like to see snow one last time, but in this land, the chances of that are slim.

Forty-six. That's how many days I've been stuck in this cell. The warden and guards here think I won't last long so they don't bother with me much. They think I'm a frail, old woman, senile and dying, locked in here for stealing something to keep me alive. Watching them pass my cell every day and giving me strange looks makes me laugh; they don't know. They have no hope of knowing what I've unleashed into the world. Somewhere out there, there's a waterbender with the knowledge of bloodbending: Katara.

There seems to be little point in hoping she's put the skill to good use. Given the stricken expression and the tears, I'd say it's safe to assume the skill is lost on her. Perhaps if I had waited and taught bloodbending to someone else, they might have carried on my work. But it's wishful thinking and that's all it'll ever be. The chances of a waterbender willingly entering the Fire Nation are slim and even still, there's no guarantee they'd show the level of mastery Katara has shown. The girl's as much a prodigy as that conniving Fire Nation princess I keep hearing talk about. The only thing that'd have made her waterbending better is the art of bloodbending. If only she'd use it to put a stop to the ruthless Fire Nation…

Was it wrong of me to teach someone so young and innocent as she seemed? Perhaps. But it's an ugly world and one needs to do whatever they can to survive. The sooner that girl and her friends learn it, the better. I've spent years waiting to get back at the Fire Nation for what they've done. They took away my brothers and sisters, they took me, and when that wasn't enough, they destroyed my home. This was to be my revenge. In another's hands, bloodbending was to destroy them. But…

I don't regret it. Perhaps to someone like Katara, having the ability is a curse, but I welcome the power each full moon brings. There's nothing quite like standing underneath it on a still night and being able to feel the pulse of every living creature, to know that they all bend to your will. One flick of the wrist, and they obey you The Fire Nation has underestimated me and my people for far too long. It's high time the world saw just how capable waterbenders are. If I could show them, I would but, after everything that's happened here, I doubt I'll be a free woman ever again.

Sitting here in this dark cell with nothing to do and no one for company isn't much fun. I've spent most of my time thinking and when that grows boring, I try to lose myself in memories. It scares me how, after all this time, I can't remember home. Each passing day, it becomes harder and harder to remember the rolling plains of the South Pole, covered in snow and ice and glistening in the light of the sun. I've long since forgotten the sounds of the penguin-otters and seals that shared the Pole with us. I can't remember the rituals for ice dodging, the games we'd play as girl, and our traditions…it's all hazy, indistinct, like some faraway dream. When I close my eyes and try to picture home, all I see is the small inn of run for years not the house I lived in before with warm fur pelts, a roaring fire, and the smell of seal jerky (which I haven't had in decades). Living in this country for so long makes me feel like I've lost my heritage. But it's too late to go back.

Often times, I've wondered why I never returned home after my escape. Perhaps I was scared of what I'd find. Perhaps I didn't want to return without the waterbenders the raiders stole from us. Looking back, it's awfully hard to say. Either way, it's probably just as well I remained here. It's wishful thinking assuming the waterbenders the firebenders stole are still alive. They've probably all rotted in that miserable hellhole they kept us in. If any survived, I'm sure they didn't last long in this place. If there had been enough of us, perhaps we might have had some chance of getting revenge. But now, all I can do is wait and pray that this war comes to an end and that the Fire Nation is stopped. I want to see them pay for what they've done to me and my tribe. Only when I know they've suffered the way I have, will I be able to rest in peace, though I'll likely die before that happens. The warden and guards here are making sure I'm as uncomfortable as can be. The only thing that brings me comfort is the full moon and my old comb. Strange how such a commonplace item as a comb can make one feel so at peace…at least, until my mind starts wandering and thinking of how to get revenge. But there's no use in it.

My days here are numbered; I can tell. Soon, I'll vanish and I'll be nothing more than a bad memory to some. In time, no one will know my name; it'll be as it was. I shall fade and life will continue. But, I like to think I've made my mark on the world, just as I've carved my name onto the walls of this cell. In time, who knows? Perhaps bloodbending will be a well-known and practiced art, a force to be reckoned with. One can only hope.

Should anyone every get a hold of this excuse for a journal after I'm gone, I leave you my most prized possession. Do with it what you will. As for those who are wondering, my name is Hama. I don't regret a thing. And yet…

I wish…


FIRE

Title: Lullaby
Author: Water Lily
Rating: T (subtle violence, angst)
Word Count: 3,500
Summary: Heathens. They're all heathens. They are not worthy to look me in the eye. Especially her. She should be killed. And I will be the killer. The slayer of Ursa. But it's wierd because I can't do it, in the midst of these stupid, inconsiderate, uncontrollable tears. It's all a wicked lullaby.

Author's Note (click to show/hide)By this first person point of view, I do not intend to offend anyone. Obviously, ATLA does not belong to me. Enjoy.

Lullaby (click to show/hide)It’s dark. It’s solid. It’s nothing else but pitiful. Just look at this filth. It’s the only type of place a true peasant would live in, not someone as royal as I am. Perhaps you’re thinking I deserve this, don’t you? Hmm…you might be right. All in a day’s work for a fire prodigy. Then again, it’s like I once said to my crew members: settle for the one that gives you mercy. In this case, I’m pretty sure I will have more mercy on you than anything else in the world. Based on quality of course. If I think you can be modified, I will modify you. Or it’s the tides’ turns to take over you.

I can see the fear in your eyes. You’re a weakling, so soft and gushy. I almost marvel of how touchy you are. You can’t handle this pain. But I can. Because I’m perfect. You’re no match for me and you know it. You wouldn’t even dare to converse with me this way if I wasn’t so locked up. But don’t worry. I’m not in the position to slam you against any rocky shore right now. Not that the tides have taken over to control my life or anything. My motives are different for the time being. Fear is something every mortal has on this earth. Except for me of course.

Back to my point, I’m generally not the one to describe something as pitiful as this prison cell. No one would expect me to go into writing mode by describing this cell using perky adjectives. Adjectives are nothing. But trust me when I say that perfection involves imperfection. They all can think I have lost my mind, but I am the only sane person on this earth. They can think what they want, but they will bow to me.

Why would I care, you ask, about this insignificant thing identified as a prison cell? Because you…yeah you with the fear in your eyes… you don’t know me. Heck, even my own mother didn’t know me as a matter of fact. She thought I was a monster. Not that she was wrong because I am a monster. At least the kind who could calculate things.

There’s also this other reason. It’s her. And don’t you dare say you have no clue who I’m talking about because you do, you understand? I will have none of this nonsense from you. My mother. She was always a touchy subject for me. But I still don’t want to talk about it. It’s a shameful topic. I bet you’re trying to get me to spill everything, aren’t you? She hates me, and I hate her back. She never loved me. She loved Zuko. He was such a momma’s boy, but that imbecile for a mother never gave me that chance. She thought of me as a ghost.

She would run away from me (not literally, but you should know what I mean if you want to live). And the thing is, do I? Should I? Would I? I can’t help if she hated me all her life. She doesn’t deserve to be banished…she deserves to bow down to me and tell me she loves me. She deserves to love me more than Zuko! That’s her punishment for all her crimes. But it’s not the same. It’s never the same.

You were always weak, Mother. You envy me because I’m not. You think I’m a fragile doll who’s lost her way, who’s confused to choose between trust and fear. You know my answer is fear, but you try to change me, manipulate me like I’m your puppet. But I will show you I’m not. I don't think like other people. I have a sharp mind, a heart made of fire that is strong enough to burn you to the ground.

Don’t you dare give me that look of sympathy, I’m warning you.

Let’s change the subject, shall we? Why would I ask you anyway? It’s my prison cell and I demand respect from you, you understand me? In this “special occasion” I will not fail to muse upon Zuzu. It’s too bad he didn’t get killed under my blow, thanks to that stupid water tribe peasant. He’s probably making out with Mai again, talking about fruit tarts and roses and all that junk. Those traitors. And you thought I was going to go hungry after that Agni Kai in the first place. No one can beat Azula. Too bad it wasn’t you under that lightning blast.

I bet this was how Iroh passed his time during his imprisonment other than building a sixteen pack and busting out of here- musing about stuff like this. I’ll never forget when he escaped out of his prison during the Invasion. He didn’t even deserve to live at that point. And now he’s busy giving that Zuzu love advice. That oaf of an uncle who supposedly gave me crummy Ba Sing Se dolls at one point and threw me in the ocean to save his nephew. Acting so innocent as if he had nothing to do with how the world rebelled against me, huh? Hmph! That’s his problem, not mine. Unlike him, I have dignity in what I did. Again, why? Because I plan things out perfectly. I’m a people person.

This prison cell and I have basically nothing in common. This place is for the rotten, not for royalty. At this point, you might as well go ahead and say that this prison cell represents me. Well, as far as being in one with rats and all the filthy creatures in the world, it’s not necessarily what I consider truly “ugly.” It helped me realize that the world only continues to be more and more horrible. Again, it’s my motive as the soon-to-be Firelord to keep track of these things. That’s right, you heard me say it. Firelord. Something called “drinking any imbecile’s blood to escape from this death trap.”

Curse Ozai, whom I considered to be my father. He is now nothing more than a disgusting old man. He failed in giving me the true power to the Fire Nation, and he is the sole reason why I’m locked up in this cell. While the eclipse passes on slowly outside, I’m stuck here counting every nasty bug that starts to crawl over to me. Not that the eclipse matters anymore since the Avatar took away my firebending. A prodigy like me doesn’t deserve this.

I bet my father thinks of me as a monster as well. In a way, he and Mother are so much alike in realizing how horrid I can be. Only one parent used it to his advantage while the other confirmed I was a monster and abandoned me and my idiot of a brother. Father failed to realize that everything was perfectly fine under my control. If I could, maybe whacking him across his skull with a club would give me relief. Maybe I could use that same club to whack my mother. She hated me without understanding me. She deserves that whack in the head. Why am I thinking about her again? Just get out of my mind, you Ursa!

I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m losing my mind from all this… this....power. This nostalgia. This misunderstanding with a woman who left me without a goodbye and who cared only for her precious little son. There is no misunderstanding. I know her motives. And don’t forget that I can see the entire history in your eyes about how you, a worthless human being, have come begging to me for my story. Even you have crawled your way up here with that very same power to even look me in the eye as I say this. I guess you should take a mental note how I can manipulate things to my advantage. There’s always something called a rebellion. I can take on the Avatar alone. I’m not a child; I can handle things my own way. But I must be cautious and patient.

“Azula?”

Who was that? Who said my name? Probably some stupid, inconsiderate fellow who dares to interrupt me with ration of prison food. But I know this voice. The voice that always irritates a royal princess like me. Ugh…It’s her again. Who let her in? Who was that imbecile who let her in my prison cell?

“Here to see your daughter rot in prison? Oh! I’m sorry. I meant to say ‘monster’. I’m sure it won’t make a difference anyway because Azula and the monster are the same.”

What? No answer? Come on, Mother. You got this far. Go ahead and say something to humiliate me. This woman enrages me.

She gives me that sad look again. Ha! Like she actually cares. I hate how bitter that word tastes in my mouth as I say it. I’ve never known her to care. Funny thing. I hate how I get the feeling she’s just so overly concerned for me. Mark her carefully, you. Yeah you with the fear in your eyes.

She’s coming up to me. She’s sitting next to me. Do something, you! What’s she going do? Say it in my face that she likes Zuko more than me? FINE THEN! I don’t care! Why am I even perspiring right now?

“I’ve missed you, Azula.”

She misses me?! Yeah, like I would believe that. She thinks I’m still that fragile doll.

“No you don’t. You’re here to mock me of my failure. You never cared.”

She'd always sigh and sob like a little girl. Like she was the child who was lost and I was the mother who abandoned her. Huh! What a shame for her to come and visit someone as high in authority as I am. I always told her to leave me be and she did at one point. Now, she comes to me almost every day. Like she loves me so much. It was a relief every time I saw her evaporate in the corner of my eye. Today, I must experience that fair share again.

“I care more than you know.” She says.

More than I know?! How dare she?! She has no right whatsoever to lie to me.

“NO! YOU DON’T! You fear me, that’s what! You feel hatred towards me. You could kill me right now if you had the opportunity. Go all cuddly after Zuzu, will you? I would hate to gag right now, and apparently it would be gross for you to see a monster gag all over in this lowly prison cell.”

I see her everywhere, all the time. She won't leave me alone. She doesn’t tell me sob stories anymore. She talks to me about stupid nothings and tells me my favorite stories as a kid. She tells me all kinds of stuff, like one of our childhood memories. But I don't care! I NEVER cared! I don't care about any of this so why is she still here? She should be disappointed in me. But she’s not.

“You’re not a monster, Azula.” She says with that sad frown.

Oh great, another weepy moment. And then she’s smiling again. But that’s not a smile. That’s a sneer. A grimace. A gesture of insult that she’s using to turn me down. But she does it so cleverly so I can believe it’s a smile. Who’re you fooling, Mother? Who am I to calculate such a thing like this? Why does she have to be so bipolar?

“I never said anything like that to my only daughter-“

“But you think of it.” I say. “You and I both know I’m right. You hated me and you know it. You liked Zuko more than me. You always told him to never forget who he was. You gave him your final goodbye. You left for him. Him!”

I turn away. Her presence disgusts me. “You never did that for me. You never told me that.” I mutter.

“This is all a misunderstanding, Azula. I loved you both equally. I left for both of you.” I hear her say.” For your own good.”

“What good have you done?! You made me claw my way up to being Firelord until your son tossed me in here. We would have been the strongest team if it wasn’t for you. Together we would have been history. And who is he now? A traitor to the Fire Nation, ironically the so called Firelord. All because of you!”

“Zuko is not a traitor. You have to learn to trust him for his actions.” She puts her arm around me.

“Get off of me, you filthy woman!” I say. I jerk her arm away. She looks sad again. Like she really means it.

“Azula, it’s not too late for you to change your ways.”

“Who are you to say that? Why would you?” I demand her. “I'll tell you why. You’re just saying that because you want to see me weak. You want me to rot. You want me to bow to you. It’s your motive.”

“Motives are meant for strategy. Not betrayal.” She says.

But. I. Don’t. Care. Her words are all lies. Filthy, vicious, useless lies. Lies that are only meant to crush people like cherry pits.

“Oh? Well you’re not a teacher, so don’t talk to me like I’m a little child. You should have just loved me for who I was instead of fearing me.”

Isn't that what all mothers are supposed to do? Well not her. She’s not a mother. She’s an untouchable. A witch. A wicked old woman clawing for power like everyone else in this stupid palace. Don’t you dare flash me that sympathetic glare. I warned you earlier.

I watch her. She’s getting up to where I am. She’s watching me. Get away from me! No, not you. You stay. If you leave my side I will thrust you into this hunk of metal and watch you bleed to death. Why is she looking at me? Don’t look at me. Don't come near me with your smiles and insipid tenderness, Mother. You don’t deserve to look me in the eye.

Where is it? Yeah, you with the fear. Where’s your fear? Why aren’t you fearing me?! I see pity and pity only. How dare you? You’re not even afraid?!

I turn around and see her as clearly as broad daylight. Wasn’t she just here a minute ago? How did she get there? As clearly as the sunlight that gave me back my firebending on the day of the eclipse. I won’t let her leave. I must see her doom. And I must see your fear.

Someone comes now. Ugh, the light burns. It’s odd, isn’t it? How I am such a prodigy in firebending and I am the one to say something burns me. At least it’s not like the shame and humiliation I faced when I lost to the Avatar’s peasant girlfriend. I would’ve been the first ever Phoenix princess rather than just your ordinary “Fire Princess Azula.” Why think of the past now? I can already hear the footsteps.

She’s still here. She’s looking at me with that same sympathy you look at me with. I will show you. I will prove to you that I’m not a caged beast who’s going insane.

There she comes. That indolent prison servant. An old woman so to speak.  There it is, that fear in her eyes. I see it.

“You!” I say. I rush over to her. I pin her down and jerk away the tray of food. "Take her away!"

“Please let me go, Princess! I’m only here to…!”

“Silence, you old woman. Just get her out of here!”

She looks at me like I’m crazy, too. “B-but I d-don’t see anyone h-here, Princess-”

“I don’t care. I see her quivering from afar, but I don’t see that fear. I see concern. Get her out of here!”

This is all a mistake. A stupid, careless mistake. They all want me to rot. She wants me to rot. She’s standing there. She’s sobbing.

“Azula, please! Darling, be careful. You need to take it easy-“

“I’m not your darling. Don’t call me that. Don’t just stand there, you old servant! Take her away!”

“B-but I don’t s-see anyone!!!” the servant wails.

Lies. LIES EVERYWHERE. I see her right before my eyes.

“Fine! I’ll take you out myself, Mother!”

I run. I hear my bare feet hitting the ground like my firebending once burned everything in its path. I jump at her. No. I lunge at her. I knock her down. I pull her hair; I grit my teeth and deliver her my best blows. But what’s this? She’s still looking at me sadly. She doesn’t even seem to feel pain.

“Princess Azula! Please! Someone call the prison guards!”

“How dare you.” I mutter. I give her another blow. She’s still not moving. Suddenly, I don’t see her anymore. Where is she? She deserves to die! For not trusting me. For not following me in my path of fear. For not loving me. Where is she?!?

The guards are here. Those imbeciles, always interrupting me in the middle of my spar. They grab my hands.

“Not again, Azula.” One says. “Guard, grab her other arm.”

“Let me go, you heathens! And don’t you address me as Azula. Princess Azula is more like it. You will not treat your future dictator this way. I’ll show you. I must kill her.”

“Who? The servant?” the other asks and laughs. How dare he laugh at me? How dare he snicker sinisterly at me? He will pay.

“Let me go or you will be the first dead corpse after my future coronation! Let me go NOW!” I demand.

“Guards, take her to another cell. It seems she needs to be in deeper isolation.”

Isolation?! That fool. I wriggle away from him and snake my arms around the servant’s neck. This is all her fault. “Die, you old woman! You will pay for your crimes for calling the guards against Princess Azula.”

“N-no! L-let….” She starts to choke. It’s been so long since I’ve seen this sight. Let her rot like I did. Watch, you fearless person, you. Watch how I’m still sane. Where’s that fear? I NEED TO SEE THAT FEAR!

“Hey! Let the woman go!”

I watch the servant gag. She must pay. But they didn’t let me stay. They take me away. They toss me in another prison cell’s wrath. One where not even the rats accompany me anymore. At least I’ll be away from Mother. That’s what I thought.

“You expected me to leave you, my dear?”

Until I see her again. And this time, I can’t do anything. I see my eyes getting blurry from these tears. These stupid, unworthy tears that dare themselves to give away my weakness. These tears that discriminate my chances of being the supreme ruler of the world one day. I see her. I feel my tears. I smell the odor of dead rats and devilish creatures. And I see her.

“Everything’s going to be alright.”

She sits next to me again. Get away from me. GET AWAY! You with the fear, why are you just standing there? Don’t you dare break down from sympathy, you understand? I miss your fear. And I will do anything to see it in your eyes again.

I cry. I wail and bang my head against my chains and cry my royal heart out. But at the same time, I still laugh. I laugh and laugh so hard that I feel like I’m the happiest princess in the world. I hate it. I hate this feeling. I despise this feeling. Curse everything. I feel sleepy. I hate this sleep. I hate this world. I hate this prison cell. It’s not the same. She’s transforming me. She’s casting her spell on me. She wants me to break down. But I won’t, even though I already am. I won’t surrender.

“Lie down, Azula. You’re tired.”

These tears, these insipid tears won’t stop. What’s happening to me? Why am I lying on her lap like a child? I’m not a child, I’m a princess. I should be ripping her head off, not be depending on her. Why do I love this moment? You evil heart, stay evil. Don’t you become weak like Mother. And you, where’s your fear? She will pay… She made me go insane. And now? This hallucination is taking over me. She's stroking my hair, saying it's the most beautiful thing she ever felt. She's telling me a stupid children's story. She's treating me like a tender little girl. I hate this. But I don't want her to go away. I will kill her if she did. It’s a wicked lullaby.

My eyes are closing. This isn’t fair. She must pay…

“I love you, Azula.”

And for once, I force myself to believe that’s true.



The Final Testament of Phoenix King Ozai
Author: Lionheart
Word count: 21,549
Rating: M
Trigger warnings: Mentions of rape, torture, and war violence

Post-series/Pre-Korra announcement of 2010. After a lengthy trial of Fire Nation war criminals, Ozai is sentenced to death. While awaiting execution, he decides to take it upon himself to write a short memoir. This is his story, the one historians would never write.

Prologue: Condemned
(click to show/hide)The Ministry of Justice in Agnishima, the Fire Nation capital, was bustling with activity as was usual for high-profile trials, the prosecutor, Mr. Yi observed. The main courtroom was a vast circular chamber with the spectator area surrounding the center on three sides with the bench raised on a dais at the far end. In most cases, the defendant would usually have to sit in a chair on a platform in the center for the trials, but as there were many accused persons in this particular case, a sitting area was allotted to them behind the desks of the prosecutor and defense attorney.

During the war's hundred years, alleged dissenters, traitors to the Firelords Sozin, Azulon, and Ozai, prisoners of war stood brief trials and were sentenced to death or to life in one of the country's many notorious prisons, having it much worse than common criminals could dream of. After the war, it became the site of the International Military Tribunal of Major War Criminals, where the highest-ranking living perpetrators of the war were indicted on several charges

The first was general conspiracy, the charge carrying the most damning evidence; documentation. The Fire Nation's own organization skills was their undoing. The second was crimes against peace. Namely the planning, preparing, initiating, and waging of wars of aggression against the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom with no regard to the peace and tranquility of said nations. The fact that these men, especially Ozai who had absolute rule over the Fire Nation, could have stopped this war, it was as if they had declared war all over again. The third charge was war crimes. Namely the wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages; devastation not justified by military or civilian necessity; and the maltreatment and murder of prisoners of war. The Fire Nation destroyed everything in their path to conquest and any enemy soldier they had allowed to live was taken captive and placed into prisons where they were subjected to slave labor, torture, and mass executions. The final charge, crimes against humanity, had caused much outrage all over the world, including the Fire Nation. This indictment carried charges of genocide, murder, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts (such as mass rape and the kidnapping of young girls to be used as comfort women) against the populations of the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom. The Fire Nation had also suffered terribly in the past hundred years. Despite the ultra-nationalism that ran rampant throughout the homeland and the colonies, citizens were persecuted, oppressed, enslaved, and murdered solely on ethnic or political grounds.

Mr. Yi, a young magistrate from the Earth Kingdom was chosen to lead the prosecution of the war criminals in a trial that the leaders of the Earth Kingdom, Water Tribes, and the new Fire Nation government under Firelord Zuko carefully put together to make sure these men were tried fairly in the name of justice and peace. It took about a year for him to prepare the case, what with who to charge and what charges to bring against them. The three surviving nations each had their list of criminals, sometimes reaching to over five hundred names each, but after much negotiations, the nations settled on the twenty-six highest-ranking members of the Fire Nation government and military to bear responsibility. The most notorious of the accused was none other than ex-Firelord Ozai himself. The Avatar had spared his life in the Battle of Wulong Forest, only removing his Firebending power, but the self-proclaimed Phoenix King eventually had to answer for his crimes. The others on trial were Prime Minister Yu, the second in command; War Minister Qin, who had a hand in organizing every raid on Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom civilians for the last twenty years of the war; Justice Minister Takahashi, the architect of the prisons in which millions of innocent people from all the nations were subjected to indescribable horrors and brutal murders for the last fifty years of the war; Senior General Nguyen Thanh An, top ranking General in the Fire Nation Army who led many raids on Earth Kingdom civilians, notably the Xu Qiang Massacre*, the most terrible act of genocide since the Air Nomad Massacre; and Education Minister Matsumoto, the corrupter of Fire Nation youth since the days of Sozin, who warped the minds of the children into the old regime's militaristic ideology. There were also twenty lesser known names who had major hand in the Fire Nation's menace such as Financial Minister Mifune who set up the industries that brought the money to fund the Fire Nation war machine; Governor Han Jian, the father of Firelady Mai and the alleged mastermind of the liquidation of Omashu; and Homeland Affairs Minister Koizumi. Princess Azula had been declared insane by the court, thus was unfit to stand trial, despite many angry demands for her head. It was likely that she would never recover from her mental state.

The main focus of the trial for the spectators had been Ozai. There were people who were initially angry that the Avatar didn't kill him in the final battle, but Yi was certainly not. In his opening statement, the prosecutor made a point to mention that he was happy that the deposed Firelord was kept alive, because now he would face justice and the whole world would come to know of his atrocities, purging doubt from anyone's mind. It was was once thought that Ozai would bear all the responsibility. Although he had pleaded not guilty, the former Firelord did nothing to provide a good case for the defense. The only time he spoke in court was in angry outbursts, claiming that he was still the Phoenix King and that they would all pay for subjecting him to this disgrace. He would never answer questions to the point and claimed to have no knowledge of the others' actions. The other defendants all had sworn statements against him, but it was clear that many of them were more than willing to carry out his orders, and the court did not recognize obedience to superiors' orders as a valid defense.

For two years, witnesses from the Three Nations gave their testimonies against the accused. Six of the witnesses included the Avatar and his band friends who all gave strong evidence against the accused. Now it was finally over. The council of judges had reached a verdict after three months of deliberations and it was to be pronounced today.

The guards flanked the accused into the courtroom from the Ministry's dungeon with Ozai in the lead. Jeers greeted the procession as they were led to their seats, Ozai shooting a disgusted glare at the spectators cursing and insulting him. He then shifted his gaze around the courtroom at the defense attorney, Mr. Tanaka, the head of the law department at Firelord Shinji University, had an unreadable expression on his face. The prosecutor stood on the other side of chamber with a hint of anticipation in his eyes. Ozai could only have been described as a shadow of the once intimidating, powerful Firelord that had almost ensured the victory of the Fire Nation. The loss of his Firebending had turned him into a bitter, distant man who did not seem to care what had happened to him anymore. His prison robes were filthy; his hair was a matted cloud, and his beard unkempt, yet he still managed to retain his air of being above all.

The bailiff rapped his staff on the marble floor. "All rise!" The courtroom instantly fell silent. There were eight judges overseeing the trials, two for each of the Three Nations (the Northern and Southern Water Tribes being considered separate). Once the judges took their seats at the bench, the court followed suit.

"Deliberations have concluded," the Chief Judge, a Southern Water Tribesman announced. War Minister Qin shifted in his seat nervously, much to Ozai's distaste. "Before the verdicts are read, I would like to remind the court that the tribunal's decision on whether any of these men standing trial are convicted or acquitted is based solely on the written or verbal evidence presented to the tribunal by witnesses or council. Previous personal experiences play no part in our findings. The International Military Tribunal was put together to make sure the victims of this war are given the justice they deserve and that the men brought up before this tribunal would be given a fair trial. The same applies for the trials taking place in specific locations of the crimes committed in this war and any future trials to take place. Now I shall read the verdicts of each man standing before this tribunal:

"Ex-Firelord Ozai!" Ozai stood up, looking the judge in the eyes in defiance. He was the Phoenix King, he thought to himself angrily. The Chief Judge lifted a sheet of paper off the table, and his brow furrowed as he read off the verdicts."On the first indictment; general conspiracy, we the tribunal find the defendant guilty. On the second indictment; crimes against peace, we the tribunal find the defendant guilty. On the third indictment; war crimes, we the tribunal find the defendant guilty. On the fourth indictment; crimes against humanity, we the tribunal find the defendant guilty. The defendant is sentenced to death by hanging." Ozai felt as though someone had punched him in the gut. They were going to hang him? The former Firelord had known from the beginning that he would be sentenced to death, that his life was over from the minute he stepped into the court room, but this was the ultimate insult.

"Hanging?" he roared over the cheers and the Chief Judge's call for order, barely stopping himself from lunging at the judges. "I am the Phoenix King! I fought nearly to the death! It was a mere stroke of luck that resulted in my defeat and you're going to hang me like I'm some common thief?" In the Fire Nation, hanging was considered the lowest and most dishonorable method of execution. It was only applied to the lowest of common criminals and to traitors within the nation itself. The point of hanging traitors was to subject them to disgrace, so that they would not be seen as martyrs. Most condemned criminals and all prisoners of war were either executed by a Firebending squad if they were benders and- by beheading if they were non-benders, but never by hanging. It was sickening that they would do this to him, especially considering that he was once royalty.

"If you think you deserve an 'honorable death', Ex-Firelord Ozai," said one of the Fire Nation judges, shaking his head and glaring at the defendant, "you are much mistaken. You've done nothing in your whole life that's worthy of honor. Take your seat." Ozai sat down heavily, seething with rage.

"Prime Minister Yu," the Chief Judge began, but Ozai was barely listening. So this was how his story was supposed to end, he thought. Standing in front of a crowd of peasants being hanged like a worthless dog. It was an outrage, a scandal, and there was nothing he could do about it. The deposed Firelord just sat there listening to the Chief Judge reading off the verdicts. Prime Minister Yu, War Minister Qin, Justice Minister Takahashi, Senior General Nguyen, and a dozen others were to be hanged as well. Out of the five others to be convicted, three, including Matsumoto were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor, one was sentenced to twenty-five years with hard labor, and the last to ten years with hard labor. The ones to be acquitted were Homeland Affairs Minister Koizumi whom the prosecution could not prove was involved in the war or oppression of Fire Nation citizens, two generals acquitted on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges, and Governor Han who it turned out did not harm any civilians and it was in their own plans to leave Omashu.

"Death sentences will be carried out in thirty days and prison sentences begin immediately at Hulao Prison in the Earth Kingdom. I ask that the acquitted remain in court for a debriefing. The International Military Tribunal is adjourned."
_________________________

The Fire Nation had specially designed facilities for people awaiting execution. These were not even referred to as prisons, but as "detention centers", and their inmates were simply called the condemned rather than prisoners. Ozai and the others condemned to death in the Agnishima Tribunals were brought to the detention center on the outskirts of the city.

The inmates were handed over to the guards, consisting of other nations, unceremoniously and were lined up against the wall of the building. The doors swung open, and a high-ranking Earth Kingdom officer, probably the warden, marched out and paced the gravel ground in front of the inmates. "I won't waste time with words," he said shortly. "You have all been brought here because you have been sentenced to death. You'd all just be on your best behavior during your remaining days, and your time here will be easy. However, if you cause any trouble, disciplinary action will be taken." He stopped his pacing and faced the inmates, but Ozai knew that the warden was looking at him in particular. "Either way, it doesn't really matter in the end, but I suggest you behave. Guards, take the condemned to their cells."

Placing the convicts into the cells had taken less than an hour, and Ozai surveyed what would be his final accommodations. The cells here were larger than what they were in regular prisons, and they were private. This was a relief, considering that he had to share a small closet of a cell with three other men during the trials. The cell was virtually empty, save for a mattress in the corner. The steel door had only a small window. Sighing heavily at his situation, Ozai paced his cell for a while. If he was to be here for a month before his execution, then he might as well do something to make the time pass a little more quickly.

The former Firelord made his way over to the cell door, looking out the window into the corridor. "Guard!" he called. Almost immediately, footsteps could be heard. A young Fire Nation guard's face appeared at the other side of the window.

"What is it?"

"I have a request," said Ozai disdainfully. "I would like a brush, some ink, and a pack of papers." The guard arched his eyebrows then nodded wordlessly. It took a while for the guard to return, and the former Firelord expected this, so he sat against the wall doing the one thing a bored prisoner can do; think. Even now, historians would be rushing to write about his downfall at the Avatar's hands. Ozai was not the first Firelord to have been deposed, there were two before him hundreds of years ago who probably sat in a cell very much like this one, recounting their lives to the emptiness of their accommodations. However, Ozai wanted to put his story on paper and have it published to Fire Nation historians. The world needed to know the story of the man behind the monster.

Soon the guard slid the papers, ink, and brush through the food slot and Ozai rushed to collect the items. Dipping the brush in the ink, he set one sheet of paper on the floor close to him and began to write:

I don't know who will read this, or if it will even be released to the public, but I don't care. I feel that my story must be told, and before I die, it must be put on paper. This will be the last and only autobiography I'll ever write. My name is Ozai, the Phoenix King, and this is my final testament.


A/N: This is an idea that just popped into my head. I ask that you nitpick the hell out of it, show no mercy. I didn't like that the Fire Nation capital had no name, so I gave it the name Agnishima. Nguyen Thanh An is a recurring character in my stories and fanfics. The charges are taken from the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials after World War II.

* Xu Qiang is the (made up) name of the city you see the ruins of in the Blue Spirit. In my stories at least, it was a huge bustling city full of Earthbenders, more benders than non. Not with a big military presence like Ba Sing Se or Omashu, but it was a major cultural and historical landmark with a huge population. Think of the Xu Qiang Massacre as the Avatar equivalent of the Rape of Nanking. The only motive was to wipe out the Earthbending population in the area. Ozai himself had a hand in planning this one, but did not actually participate in the raid.

Part One: Ozai's Youth 
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Where to begin, how do I start this off? Well, I'm not going to bore you with a lengthy anecdote of what I did on Friday, October the first of X year when I was boy. Most of all, if you were expecting details about how I had planned and ordered the destruction of the other benders, and the battle strategies of the war, you'll have to wait until a bit later. This first part of my testament concerns my youth, growing up as royalty, and my engagement to Ursa.

I was born in the Year of the Dragon on September the eighteenth (fifty-seventh year of the war) to then Crown Prince Azulon and Princess Ilah. As I was the second child, I was automatically irrelevant in my father's eyes. It was all about Iroh for him: "Iroh the Firebending prodigy, Iroh the heir, Iroh the better son." I scoff just thinking about it. With my mother, well, I never knew her, as she died giving birth to me.

In my youth, my grandfather, Firelord Sozin was off searching for the long-lost Avatar so my father was already the de facto ruler of the Fire Nation. He was a man who was a monarch first and did not bother being a father later. Growing up in our family, you quickly learn that you are on your own and held to very high standards as soon as you reach the age where you are able to more or less function on your own. My father was the only child of Firelord Sozin and Lady Teimei and he learned directly from my grandfather how to rule a nation, military tactics, and most of all, to gain the respect of the people.

Not a year after my parents' marriage, my brother Iroh was born. Iroh was very different from my father in every way. When it became clear that Iroh would pursue a career in the Army, my father demanded that he and my mother produce a spare child that would take Iroh's place, should he die. I was the result, and once I was born, my mother died of childbirth. My father had always secretly blamed me for her death, but from the little bit Iroh had told me, it was not exactly the happiest marriage anyway.

It gets hazy what happened in my early childhood, but that is irrelevant. All you need to know about this is that I barely saw my father, I grew up in Iroh's shadow, and that the servants raised me until I was able to go to school. Now here is where it's all coming back to me; my time in the Royal Fire Academy for Boys in Agnishima. In my early days of school, I came to a place where I had three big names to live up to: My grandfather, father, and brother. My brother in particular was the most popular boy in the academy. He was seen as funny, smart, and a very talented Firebender. I was seen as his quiet, bookish younger brother, despite me being the best Firebender in my year, if not in the history of the school.

I remember only two kids who actually noticed me during my early days in the Academy. The first was Hiroshi who desperately wanted to be my friend and the second was a school prefect named Thanh, son of the great Colonel Nguyen Vinh Phong, and he turned out to be a great General during my time in the army and the throne. Oh yes, I am talking about Nguyen Thanh An, whom you in the Earth Kingdom know as the "Butcher of Xu Qiang", and I'll get into details about both men later.

Hiroshi, or the stuttering fool as we called him, was the first one to actually talk to me after my first month or so. It was at lunch and I was sitting next to Iroh while he chatted away with his idiot friends and laughing like a bunch of drunken hogmonkeys that I decided to go back to my dorm when this idiot bangs into me, staining my robes with his food. He tried apologizing, but I just ignored him and went on my way having to endure the laughs of everyone in the dining hall, including Iroh.

That boy didn't stop pestering me for the following six months, asking me for ink, wanting to be my sparring partner, and most of all, wanting to be around me all the time. Finally, I lost my patience during a physical training session when he messed up on carrying a barrel over an obstacle. Our PT instructor, Mr. Shiretoko had one policy: if one student makes a mistake, it's everyone's fault or if one student does well, it's everyone's triumph. The boy dropped the barrel, and everyone faced Shiretoko's wrath.

Later at night, when he tried talking to me again, I told him that I couldn't stand the sight of him and to leave me alone, reducing him to tears. I had finally proven that I wasn't the silent, bookish brother of Iroh, but my feeling of triumph was crushed by the other kids who felt that I was a heartless bully to put it in the nicest of words that were said that night. I did a lot of thinking after lights out; maybe that boy would make a good servant. He was so desperate to be friends with me, so I'd do him a favor and I became friendlier to him, boosting his confidence.

So the years rolled by quickly and I became notorious for my firebending skills. Equal to Iroh, if not downright superior. However, there was a major difference between him and me. People followed Iroh because they liked him and respected him. I had my own group of followers, but not friends, which included that boy whose name, as I mentioned before, was Hiroshi, a nobleman's son named Zhao Xing Li, and Nguyen Thanh An until he graduated and left to join the Army. People followed me because they feared me. They feared my anger and my Firebending. This was something that carried over to our military service.

Learning to be confident and show leadership qualities is something I credit Thanh for. When I reached the age of eight, he said that he'd been observing me from day one and he knew that I was trying to outshine my brother. That was the wrong thing to do; he said I should rise above him in my own way. Iroh relied on his goofy personality, but I should use my Firebending to my advantage. This boosted my confidence in my leadership skills and boys in my year, younger years, and even some older students rallied to me and my ideals.

When I reached the age of ten, word reached the Fire Nation that Firelord Sozin had died in his sleep while searching for the Avatar, reducing the whole nation into a three-day state of forced mourning, then my father was crowned Firelord after the funeral. Both Iroh and I rarely saw our grandfather, so we didn't know how to feel. One thing was for sure: Firelord Azulon vowed to win the war for the Fire Nation.


The clicking of the lock on the door made Ozai raise his head up in annoyance as the door opened. Three guards stepped in with a Fire Nation officer in the lead. As he was rudely interrupted from his writing, the former Firelord did not waste time with pleasantries. "What do you want?"

"You've got a visitor," one guard responded shortly. "Let's go." They unceremoniously hoisted Ozai to his feet and cuffed him before he could respond.

"Spare the escort and take these cuffs off me," Ozai spat as two guards made a move to grab his arms. "I'm not going anywhere."

The guards did not take that cheek from their inmate. "You will come with us to the visitors' room now unless you want to spend the rest of your life in the hole." After shooting them a nasty look, Ozai reluctantly cooperated.

They led him through the corridors to a large room with many tables, and one of them had a lone figure sitting there. One look was all Ozai needed for him to say, "I prefer to go back to my cell, please."

"Sit down!"

The guards forced him into the seat across from the visitor. He was a bald young man, no, a boy of sixteen years with distinguishable arrow tattoos on his head and hands. He stood taller than when he had faced Ozai in Wulong Forest, but the Avatar still had that youthful appearance. He was probably here to gloat, Ozai thought. It was not enough that he subjected him to disgrace.

The Avatar sat there trying to sort out what to say. It was certainly awkward meeting your archenemy in this situation. "Coming to gloat in my shame," Ozai said sardonically, "or are you just here to preach to me?"

The Airbender just sighed sympathetically, making the older man feel a flash of anger. "I don't want your pity, Avatar! Say what it is you want!" The response was the last thing he expected, but at the same time, not surprising coming from the younger man.

"It doesn't have to end like this you know," he said. His voice was considerably deeper from when they last met face-to-face. The older man's brow furrowed.

"What do you mean?"

"I can speak to the judges," he explained in that annoyingly sympathetic voice of his. "I can ask them to give you a life sentence instead."

"Do you have any sense of pride whatsoever, Avatar?" demanded Ozai, rolling his eyes. "My ancestors destroyed your people, I would have finished off whatever remained of that rabble if there were any, and you come in here preaching forgiveness?"

For the first time, the Avatar did show disdain for his archenemy. "You still don't see the true meaning of what it means to be strong," he stated in an even but angry voice. "Let me tell you something, Ozai: When I found out that the Fire Nation killed my people, I felt hate…real hate. I wanted revenge when I was in the Avatar State, I wanted Fire Nation blood and only my girlfriend, Katara was able to get me out of it." He closed his eyes for a moment as if to try to erase the memory from his mind.

"You destroyed Zhao's entire fleet, leaving no survivors," Ozai shot back. "You're not above taking other lives after all, are you? Why didn't you take mine?" Ozai's words had stung the Avatar; there was no doubt about it. The former Firelord grinned knowingly. The younger man did not answer directly.

"I was prepared to kill you that day, Ozai," he stated. "We all thought there was no choice but to do it. I never consciously took anyone's life before and it scared me. It would violate everything I was brought up to believe. It was by sheer luck that I happened to sleepwalk onto an island. I consulted my past lives, and all of them, including another Air Nomad Avatar said that I had to do whatever it took to defeat you. Just when I gave in to the fact that I would need to kill you, I found out that the island I was on was a lionturtle. He taught me energybending and I was able to defeat you without taking your life."

So that was what happened? The Avatar was ready to have the Firelord die with honor in battle, but instead relied on some spiritual mumbo jumbo to subject him to disgrace?

"Are you done?"

"Excuse me?"

"This meeting is over," said Ozai, looking sideways. "Get out of here; I don't want your favors. You've reduced me to enough shame, Avatar, and now I just want to die with what pride I have left. If you want to help me, ask them to change my execution to a Firebending squad or decapitation so I can die as royalty instead of being hanged like some common thug off the streets." Both men knew that this would not happen. The younger man was against capital punishment under any circumstances; he even said so at his testimony and the judges would never comply with such a request anyway. The Avatar got up reluctantly, giving one last pitying look to his enemy before the guards escorted him back to his cell.

"Lights out!" came a shout from the corridor and the building darkened. Ozai curled on his mattress; sleep taking him in an instant. He would continue writing later.

This is my third day in this cell, which means I have twenty-seven days left on this world. I have decided not to write every day, because this way I have more time to reflect. Despite the less than friendly introduction I had to the guards on my first day, they've been considerably less harsh with me. No doubt, my worthless son had some say in this. They read my first entry just to make sure I wasn't smuggling letters out of the detention center, but other than that, no problems.

When I left off, my father became the Firelord and everything immediately changed. In my childhood years, he was rather inattentive to me and just focused on grooming Iroh to be the next Firelord. Now that Grandfather Sozin was dead, father expected the best out of both of us and watched our every move. Of course, in his eyes, Iroh was always superior, and my brother knew our father felt that way.

The next couple of years were a competition for father's approval…that is until the night before Iroh would leave for battle in the Earth Kingdom. I will never forget the conversation we had. The night sky was nothing but a blanket of stars and a full moon was out. On a night like this, one could never expect that the following morning, someone you grew up with would be leaving and likely not come back, Firebending prodigy or not.

"It's really happening isn't it?" the twelve-year-old me dryly inquired.

"I'm afraid so, little brother." He answered me in an uncharacteristically grim tone. Normally, he'd be joking and drinking the tea that he held to be sacred. "I can't just sit here while other men are out there fighting for our nation."

One of the many things we disagreed on was the status of the Fire Nation citizens. Iroh believed that we, as the Royal Family, should give something back to the citizens who served us so loyally. He even had the audacity to put it in the term, "The Fire Nation citizens should not be afraid of their Firelord, the Firelord should be afraid of his citizens." I, however, believed that we were born with the divine right to rule, and that the people were obligated to show their loyalty regardless. We owed them nothing, but it was pointless to argue this subject with my brother.

"Just look after Kumiko, will you, Ozai?" he laughed. To this day, I don't know what Iroh saw in his girlfriend (later wife), Kumiko. She was the daughter of a restaurant owner on Ember Island with no noble background whatsoever. Both her father and brother served in the Navy for their obligatory three years and went on to their peasant jobs. Therefore, in response, I just gave an incoherent grunt.

I'm not sure how it happened, but soon our conversation turned to what would happen once father would die. Iroh may have had his approval, but Iroh too had his resentments towards him. What Iroh told me that night was another thing I should have expected out of him but didn't. "For one thing, I will not assume the title of Firelord." I couldn't believe my ears. The throne was something I had my eyes on for as long as I could remember, and now my brother, who had the birthright to the throne, was just going to give it up like a used pair of chopsticks?

"This is your divine right, and you're just giving it up?" I snapped and he was surprised at my anger. He tried to speak, but not before I demanded, "Who'll take the throne then?"

He arched his eyebrows taking a step back. "I will appoint a man who has the Fire Nation's best interest at heart as a regent. Once I have a child and when he or she is old enough to rule, we'll have a new Firelord." I knew that he certainly did not mean me, so it was no use pressing the issue.

"I swear to Agni, Iroh, that if I ever have children and if the burden of the throne falls on me, I will never be like that pitiful excuse for a father and a Firelord, Azulon."

"I certainly hope so, Ozai," Iroh replied, turning back to look over the balustrade. "Our children deserve to grow up in a better environment."

The night ended with a simple goodbye. No tearful partings, no words of encouragement, as we both knew how useless it was to pretend that everything was merry between us. That was the last time I saw Iroh for many years. Once his ship sailed over the horizon, my father had me all to himself.

I went through my school years at a relatively fast pace. I was at the top of my class, especially in Frebending and history. I would be turning sixteen in two years, which means I would come of age and have to serve in the military. Proper preparations had to have been made and one of them was a betrothal. Iroh fell in love with Kumiko, as he had met her on his own. I was never truly interested in marriage and family during my youth. What I was concerned with was respect and being the best at everything I do in school and as a prince.

When I was writing out a vital report for history class, I almost killed a servant for interrupting me and saying that Father has summoned me to his office. Being the straight-to-business person that he was, a trait that would rub off on Zuko, Azulon insisted that I look through a book of portraits of noble girls. He went on with lengthy explanations of what kind of family they're from, what their fathers had accomplished…I was barely listening. Then one girl caught my eye: a beautiful older girl named Ursa. The first thing about her that caught my interest was her hair. It was long, shiny, and styled like mane and then her perfectly angled face and almond-shaped golden eyes. She looked like a porcelain doll.

"This one is Ursa, the daughter of Mr. Kurikichi," Azulon said shortly. Kurikichi was a very well known wealthy businessman and well respected by my father. He served together with him in the Navy. Despite his wealth, he would generously donate a lot to the poor and get involved in helping families who lost family members during the war. My father saw him as a propaganda tool, I saw him as weak. Nevertheless, I took interest in his daughter and was I ever surprised with her.

On our first meeting, she impressed me with her intelligence and loyalty to her family. That was good; a woman with strong family values would honor her husband above all and she was not some brainless harlot like much of the noble girls I meet at official parties. So I agreed to more meetings before I would choose her as my bride. She was the granddaughter of Avatar Roku, and if the two of us produced an heir, his Firebending would be unmatched.

The night I chose her as my wife was at the Fire Days Festival. We decided to leave all those annoying nobles and their gossiping, especially this sycophant from the Han family. Ursa personally wanted to get away from a girl who was almost a poster child of Fire Nation nobility named Ling. Is it any coincidence that these two got married? I regret to say that they are now my in-laws, as Zuko married their daughter, Mai. That slimy weasel, Han was acquitted in the trials and I just know his fortune is secure. Ursa admitted to me that she hated the war and that she had lost her cousin in battle. I was sympathetic… normally I would have seen this as dissension, but I needed Ursa.

If you were expecting a love story gone wrong when it comes to Ursa, then you are wasting your time. From the beginning, I saw her as a means to an end. Iroh never wanted the throne and my father would never give it to me as long as Iroh lived. I told her that my brother would abdicate and revealed my plans to her if I would be Firelord. I didn't give details, but I passed myself off as an idealist who would bring Sozin's dream into fruition.

What she saw in me, to this day I do not know. But I think it was her motherly personality seeing a lost little boy beneath the hard royal exterior. I had a reputation at my school, and it certainly would not have been seen by people like her as a good one. From a young age, I had a group of followers who were true to the Fire Nation ideal in an almost militaristic way, but Ursa was charmed by me. That night I told my father that I had chosen her as my bride. We would be married after I'd return from my military service. All too soon, that time had come.

Iroh was leading a campaign to Ba Sing Se, my objective was to take the southern Earth Kingdom. On top of that, my father gave me a secondary assignment to find the Avatar. He sent me off on a ship in an elaborate ceremony with military bands and everything. Ursa and I parted with a promise to be true to one another and that I would return to her.

Ozai put his brush down just as the lock outside banged and the door opened. Two guards entered and stopped before the prisoner. "You have another visitor." Knowing that it was useless to argue, Ozai reluctantly got up and followed the guards to the visitor room. If it was the Avatar again, he would kill him, Firebending or not.

For the first time since arriving at the prison, Ozai was taken aback. He had to blink to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. "Iroh?" he whispered as he took his seat.

His brother had not changed in the slightest since the last time the two brothers met, except aging a little over the years. He was even drinking his beloved tea, yet his expression was serious. "Ozai," he replied.

"What are you doing here?"

The older man raised his eyebrow. "I should be asking you the same question." Ozai sighed disdainfully. He should have expected this from his brother.

"Don't get philosophical with me, Iroh. Say what you have to say and be gone."

"Six years and nothing has changed since we last met. I knew it was too much to hope that you regret any of your actions, but what I want to understand is where everything went wrong." His entire speech was in an even voice, but his gray brow was fixed in a frown.

Ozai laughed disdainfully. "Funny you should ask. Right now, I'm in the process of writing a short testament to be published after the hanging. I want to give historians a factual account of my life from my point of view."

Iroh stroked his beard, nodding in understanding. "At least you are using your time here wisely," he mused. "What did you write so far?"

"I'm up to the part where I left for my army service," the younger brother responded shortly. Then Ozai found himself revealing more of his written account. His feelings of jealousy towards his brother, his hate of his father, and how his lust for power overtook him at a very young age.

"You remember when we set that rat loose in the kitchen?" Iroh inquired, grinning for the first time.

Laughing dryly for the first time, Ozai replied, "Yeah, Himiko was furious at us for weeks, but couldn't say anything." Both men sighed at the memory of a more innocent time. Ozai had forgotten that there were, in fact, times when he and his brother enjoyed spending time together.

"The most vivid memory I have of the two of us is our promise to never be like Azulon to our children. I guess I didn't live up to that."

"No, Ozai," Iroh replied sadly. "You were a worse father than Azulon, but I suppose your treatment of your son turned him into the great man he has become." The two men held each other's gazes for a few awkward moments before Ozai said, "Guard, take me back to my cell."

Part Two: Ozai's Service, Marriage, and Fatherhood

(click to show/hide)Here I am again after several days of contemplation. So far, I had two visitors; the Avatar and Iroh. With the Avatar, he tried to get me to agree to a life sentence. As if he hadn't subjected me to enough shame by removing my Firebending! I basically told him to leave and let me die with my pride intact. I've accepted my fate, and now I'm just waiting for it to happen. Iroh's visit was nothing short of uncomfortable. I haven't seen him in years, so I guess I should have expected it to go the way it did. But his conversation with me gave me more to contemplate about when it comes to Zuko.

There were problems again. It was not between me and the guards directly, but bad enough for me to get involved. Admiral Nakamura broke down crying one night in his cell, waking everyone up. He was bawling, "Agni, I don't belong here! It wasn't supposed to end like this!"

In response, I yelled back, "Snap out of it, you coward! We lost, just accept it and show some dignity!" He didn't stop until the guards put him in solitary confinement for the rest of the night. Last thing I heard, he was put on suicide watch. After that incident, the cellblock resumed its deadly silence. With fourteen days left, I'm going to continue writing.

When we last left off, I was leaving the Fire Nation for my military service. My career started with my appointment as an executive officer to Major Nguyen Thanh An. And wouldn't you know it? My old "friend" Hiroshi was in that particular company. Over the years under my wing, he'd grown a lot more confident, and became something akin to a lackey to my stronger followers and I. He was a skilled swordsman, but his purpose was to follow orders, and he enjoyed it.

Our first objective was to take the coastal city of Qing. They say everyone's scared the first time they go into battle, and I was no different. After all, I was only sixteen at the time, and was used to the comforting life of royalty. However, my command potential has been there ever since I was a child. Though the Earth Kingdom forces were expecting us, I led my soldiers into battle and overran the enemy. This was the first time I had killed other men, and it was both exhilarating and terrifying the first time in combat. In just a few swift movements of my limbs, I had taken the lives of Agni knew how many men. Hah, men? More like young boys who'd never go home to their mothers.

Qing fell to the Fire Nation the same day the raid began. They did not have a massive garrison there like in Omashu or Ba Sing Se, but it was a great strategic location on the west coast to set up a colony. Nguyen and I had one policy; show no mercy. If you kill all they send, they won't send anymore. Any Earth Kingdom soldier who surrendered to us in our campaign in the Quang Lai region was killed or transferred to a prison in the Fire Nation, but most were executed on the spot.

"Looking for the Avatar" was a fool's errand, but a useful excuse to capture or burn down town and villages for us. Our excuse to the enemy was to deny him a place to hide. In that time, we finally conquered the region, driving out or executing all the Earth Kingdom citizens to set up a colony. A strategic military victory like that in only a year, and that had ensured my rise in the ranks. In time, Nguyen, in practice, fell under my command.

Iroh wrote to me only once in my entire military service. He asked if I was okay, and announced that he would be returning to Fire Nation in a few months to get married. As if I would just up and leave the war just to watch that tea-loving buffoon marry that peasant whore of his. I had a chance to make a name for myself in the army, and I was not going to give that up for anything. On the other hand, I did stay in contact with Ursa. I regaled her tales of our victories and what is was like in that forsaken country.

My years in the army had hardened my resolve and no one under my command had dared to go against my will. I studied Iroh's strategies, and while they were effective, they did not make much of a statement to the enemy. Officially, we were not allowed to harm civilians unless they "showed signs of resistance". Yes, I ordered and participated in the murder and enslavement of Earth Kingdom civilians in the army and you know what? It was more effective than any of Iroh's "great victories". There! It's all here in black and white from my own mouth. Also, there were attacks on civilians that went on elsewhere. They didn't all come straight from the palace.

Ten years I spent in the army and in that last year, my brother fathered a son named Lu Ten. I was officially out of the line of succession to the throne if Iroh had his way. Here I was, winning the war for the Fire Nation, and it was still Iroh getting all the praise. I had to make a name for myself, somehow etch my name into the pages of history.

We moved northward after I took Quang Lai, crushing anyone that stood in our way. Nguyen Thanh An has risen to the rank of Brigadier and he was becoming notoriously known as my personal attack dog, even though he was effectively my superior in rank. Many fell to the edge of his sword and to his Firebending…he specialized in purging villages of civilians in a way that would strike terror into enemy hearts. In one case, we had come across a village with no military presence whatsoever. There were only farmers who'd gone off to war leaving the women, elderly, and children alone and vulnerable. Nguyen went after the children, forcing them out of the bunker and then burned them alive. I could still see elation on his face and smell the stench, but it was the sweetest stench to behold.

At last we were approaching the city of Xu Qiang towards the end of August. I knew it had no great military presence, I knew it was mostly civilians, but it held such importance in Earth Kingdom history and culture that I had to do something about it. Me and the high command were contemplating a way in which we could capture the city, but it was then that Nguyen and I agreed that it must be destroyed. This was going to be the greatest raid on a Bending population since Sozin wiped out the Airbenders. There were a few soldiers that opted to not participate in this raid, just as there were in the aforementioned Air Nomad massacre, and I saw to it that they were hanged like the traitors and cowards they were. I myself remained at the command post and let Nguyen Thanh An take command. It would be his victory in battle, but my strategic victory.

From the mountains, I watched as the Fire Nation troops rolled into the city and the screams of its inhabitants was like music to my ears. For fifteen days, our forces took down every man, woman, and child they could find, and imprisoning some at Nguyen's discretion. Most of the prisoners were young girls and women to be used for the comfort of our younger soldiers. The officers came back to me with the numbers killed or taken captive in the raid along with plundering of goods from the richer homes. Eight hundred thousand Earthbending scum had been annihilated and with them went a city that was once a pride of the Earth Kingdom, now one massive ruin.

I expected my father to be pleased, and I think he was, but there were whispers of dissension within the Fire Nation. People on the Firelord's own staff said that this demoralized soldiers and there were cases of suicide and desertion in several units in the wake of the massacre. I received orders to return home immediately, and all records of the raid were silenced until testimony was brought against us before the trials.

I came home without ceremony and silently returned to the palace where Ursa was waiting for me. In tears, she held on to me. That was good, she did not know about the raid and if she had, she did not believe it. I still had her trust and it was time for me to play the obedient prince once again. As I was not the heir, my wedding to Ursa was not as grand as Iroh's had been. It was an event with only the most important staff of my father and a few acquaintances of mine. Nguyen served as my best man, even though Ursa had never liked him.

Readjusting to palace life came easy for me; Iroh indicated that it was tough for him. All the more reason why he should not have been the heir, I must say. I was to be my father's representative in the homeland while Iroh was off "winning the war" for our nation, so that required Ursa and I to be seen together. It also required me to be a good uncle to Lu Ten. While he loved Ursa dearly, I spent most of my time with him discussing my wartime experiences. He seemed interested at first, but then began comparing my soldiers' attitude towards me to Iroh's.

This only became more tedious when Kumiko died of cancer, but it was cause for me and Ursa to finally make a child. Both she and Lu Ten were devastated by her loss. You know I am not a compassionate man, but a part of me hated to see Ursa cry. Maybe it was awkwardness on my part, I don't know. I held her until she stopped crying. That embrace turned into a kiss and the passion between us heated until I carried her to bed. It was amazing, the power I held over her, and Agni, did she submit to it. The night ended with her falling asleep with her head on my chest.

With Iroh home from the war to raise his son, I was relieved of my duty as a caretaker of Lu Ten, and I could concentrate my attention on Ursa. I admit that our time together as a childless married couple was a happy one, even if I really didn't feel an emotional attachment towards her. I was ready to give up on my ambition to become Firelord. I had made a name for myself in the army and had the fear of an entire nation. I still wanted the throne, but at that time, I knew I'd probably never get it.

Ursa became pregnant with Zuko that year, the Year of the Tiger. This was the moment I had been waiting for; I would father a Firebender unlike the world had ever seen before. My child would have the blood of Avatar Roku and the Royal Family of the Fire Nation. He or she would be unmatched in combat. It was a very difficult pregnancy for Ursa, and that could only mean that a powerful baby was growing inside of her.

Finally, on the first of August, I was hit with a disappointment. A baby boy was born with health complications. He nearly died as he was pushed out of Ursa's womb. The doctors told me that he was lucky to be born, and I would not stand for a weak child. However, one look at him changed my view. He was the spitting image of me from the fierce golden eyes to the strong jaw. His birth may have faced trouble at birth, but I would not judge a book by its cover. He came from two strong families and as soon as he would be old enough, I would hone his Firebending skills into something the whole nation would cower before. I declared his name to be Zuko and Ursa agreed.

My earlier disappointment was reconfirmed during his years of infancy. Ursa would dote on him, as would Iroh whenever he would so much as make a sound. I knew this would make him weak as he'd get older. Iroh and I were never doted upon. We were taken care of by the nursemaids until old enough to take care of ourselves, and I wanted a strong child. However, I said nothing, I simply observed.

When I would take care of him, I would show him military bases, ships, and sing to him war songs to put him to sleep. He enjoyed his time with me, so that at least inspired some hope. He showed his first display of Firebending at the age of two, while playing in the garden. It was quite a shot and he found it fascinating. For the first time, Zuko brought a smile to my face.

It gets hazy how it happened next, but in that year, Azula was born. Other than my eyes, she was the spitting image of her mother. Her birth was easy, no complications at all. I could tell right away that she was something special.

So it was in the early years of their childhood that we acted like a family. When Zuko and Azula were very young, they were actually quite close. On our way to our villa on Ember Island, a place Zuko really enjoyed, I overheard a conversation between him and Azula.

"What's the stawrs say will happen?" she asked him. As she was only three at the time, she couldn't quite enunciate certain words properly.

"Well," five-year-old Zuko replied, stroking her hair and looking out to sea. "The stars can't tell us the future, they tell stories." He pointed to a constellation that only one with a vivid imagination like his could spot. "That is the dragon. Dragons were the first Firebenders ever and they teached it to humans." Zuko then kneeled down to Azula's level. "Did you know that you were born on the Year of the Dragon like father?"

"Mmm-mm." she shook her head.

"That means you will be a great Firebender one day. People born on the Year of the Dragon learn Firebending very easy."

"Were yoo born on the Year of the Dragon too?" she asked slowly, turning her big golden eyes to my son. He got up and sighed.

"No, I was born in the Year of the Tiger." He pointed to the Tiger constellation. "The Tiger is a big cat who lives in the fields. He has to fight for his home and for power over other animals. People born in the Year of the Tiger will have to struggle and fight to be good Firebenders."

"But yoo are a good Firebender, Zuzu." He smiled and carried her back into the cabin.

Ursa, who had also been watching, took a place next to me, resting her head against my shoulder and began to talk her usual admiration of the children. What Zuko said made me think. He was smart for his age, despite being a bit short-tempered. If he needed to fight to become a good Firebender, then he would require the best training he could get.

Zuko was right as it turned out. Azula picked up on the Firebending quicker than even myself. The discovery of her skills had changed her into being competitive while Zuko struggled to even comprehend the basic concepts of it. It was not his lack of skill that disappointed me, but his personality. More and more, he was becoming like his mother and less like me in everything but temperament. Not to mention he was spending much time with Iroh, and who knows how much that idiot was corrupting his mind. I put my focus on Azula, the way my father never paid attention to me as a child. In time, the students at the Royal Fire Academy for Girls feared her. She even had two followers of her own. One was Mai of the Han family and the other, Ty Lee of the Chan family.

Iroh returned to the battlefield with his recently engaged son to take Ba Sing Se. However, I knew it was too late to try and change Zuko. Iroh and Ursa had done a number on him, yet I could tell he was trying to impress me more than anything. It would take more than loyalty for me to see him as one fit to bear the Royal Family name. Azula saw him for the failure he was by the age of six and their relationship slowly began to deteriorate from there.

Ursa was worried about the way I was training Azula. According to her, the flower that blooms the earliest is the one that withers the fastest. "Do you want our beautiful daughter to become a weapon?" I didn't answer, but if that is what she thought our daughter was becoming, then I would use that attitude against her. I was beginning to convince Azula that Ursa saw her as a monster. That set the course for her to become a more powerful and fearsome Firebender than ever.

Two years later, it seemed that all my dreams would finally come true.

The cell door opened and Ozai knew what was coming before the guards spoke a word. "Let me guess. Another visitor?" The lead guard grunted in confirmation.

"Can they wait?" Ozai hoped his irritated tone would be a proper indication that he was not up for a chat.

"No," the guard answered. "The Firelord will not be denied." Ozai threw the brush to the floor in anger and followed his escort to the visitors' room once again. If the almighty Firelord Zuko demanded an audience, then he would damn well get it.

His son looked very much like a Firelord indeed. He wore his regal robes and headpiece, and stared at his father with the same hardened expression he wore the last time they had met. He had grown a few inches over the years and now sported a full goatee and moustache. Taking a seat, the older man waited for the Firelord to speak. He did not and Ozai should have expected this. There were times when he could never assert himself in front of him.

"To what do I owe this pleasure, my Lord?" Ozai stressed the title derisively.

"I had a whole speech planned out for you," said Zuko coldly. "How I wanted to say that you deserve everything you're going to get and already did get. But now that I'm here, face-to-face with you once again, I can't find the right words."

"That's not why you're really here, is it?" Ozai countered with a grin. "You're here because you want to know what your biological father thinks of you before he dies. Is that not so? You want to close a chapter."

He expected his son to have an angry comeback, but instead, he sighed in defeat. "I guess I'm pretty obvious." Ozai chuckled at this display.

"I'm sure your precious uncle has told you that I'm writing a testament before the execution. Everything about you is all going to be in there. Speaking of which, I hope the execution will at least be conducted according to Fire Nation traditions."

Zuko blinked in confusion for a moment, and then caught on to what his father was saying. "Yes, I saw to that. One man from each nation is going to pull a lever simultaneously with the others. Only one lever is going to drop the platform."

"Well, at least you didn't do away with all our traditions. I will give you an oversight: it turns out I was wrong about you. Though you disgrace everything the Fire Nation should stand for, you are not weak. You've proven yourself to be a great Firebender. I just wish I still had mine, so I can face you in a real contest." Zuko could find no way to answer so instead, he regarded Ozai in disgust

"Speaking of weak people, how is Azula these days?" Ozai knew he hit a raw nerve. "Last I heard, she lost to a Water Tribe peasant and fell into insanity. She's kept in a mental institution these days, the guards say. Not showing any signs of recovery."

That caused the Firelord to snap. "Congratulations, you bastard!" he shouted. "You raised my sister to be a weapon and use fear to dominate others! You smashed all the humanity out of her and it destroyed her!" He breathed deeply and lowered his tone, but his eyes were still blazing. "Just as your own lust for power landed you here and will destroy you."

This caused the former Firelord to laugh as he had not done in years. "That is just beautiful. You were more than willing to kill your worthless sister on the day of the Comet, weren't you? Then again, even in her insanity she might have been useful after all. She did nearly kill you. You always were second rate in battle, Zuko.

"Now, do you have anything else to waste my time with? No? Thought not. Why don't you run along back home? Your wife and two brats are probably missing you." Zuko's furious gaze met Ozai's satisfied one for a few long moments, and then the Firelord sprang to his feet and stormed out the door.

Agni, it has been three days, and I still laugh thinking about my meeting with Zuko. For all the dignity he can possess, confronting me in an argument would always result in him running off like a misbehaved child. I have the feeling that he was not the last of my visitors. In an interesting turn of events, it so happened that Prime Minister Yu has committed suicide. He poisoned himself in the night…idiot. He tried to get his execution method changed to a Firebending squad, and when they denied it, he poisoned himself.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted three days ago, by the time Zuko and Azula reached the ages of ten and eight respectively, it seemed that all my dreams would come true. Iroh had finally made it to Ba Sing Se and had breached the outer wall. Over six hundred days, and the Fire Nation was on the brink of victory. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Lu Ten was killed in action. That demoralized the entire unit. The Earth Kingdom forces reorganized their troops and pushed back the Fire Nation, resulting on one of the greatest military disgraces in the entire war.

Iroh had disappeared and abandoned the siege in the wake of Lu Ten's demise. This was my opportunity to ask my father for the throne, so in anticipation for that moment, I requested that Ursa and the children join me in the throne room with their best clothes on. I rehearsed what to say in my mind all day, and I could not screw this up no matter what.

First I displayed Azula to my father, showing him her superior Firebending and emphasizing that she was named after him. He seemed less than impressed. Then suddenly, Zuko decided that he had to demonstrate what he had been learning. I could not have him embarrass me with his substandard Firebending now. However, I kept silent and watched his pathetic display of the most simple of forms. Once he failed, he just hunched over to Ursa who was reassuring him that he was great and that she loved watching him.

Azulon had seen enough. "Prince Ozai," he said in his sandpaper like voice. "Why are you wasting my time with these pups? Say what it is you want, the rest of you, go!" Ursa, Zuko, and Azula left obediently. Now was my chance, he surely had to agree.

"Father," I began. "You must have realized as I have that with Lu Ten gone, Iroh's bloodline has ended. After his son's death, my brother abandoned the siege at Ba Sing Se, and who knows when he will return home?" I raised my head to look at my father sitting on his throne behind the wall of flame. "But I am here father and my children are alive."

"Say what it is you want," Azulon replied impatiently.

"Father, revoke Iroh's birthright. I am your humble servant," I added feeling a taste of revulsion in my words. "Here to serve you and out nation. Use me."

My father arose from the throne, pointing his gnarled finger at me. "You dare suggest I betray Iroh," my father growled in terrible fury, "my first born? Directly after the demise of his beloved son?" I was shocked. How could he still hold true to that coward? "I think Iroh has suffered enough!" Azulon's voice was rising in volume. "But you, your punishment has scarcely begun!" With superhuman speed, my father launched himself from the throne grabbing my wrists. Immediately I felt my father's hands burn my skin. Then, with a sly grin, he released me.

"Your punishment should fit your crime," he stated, stroking his beard. "You must know the pain of losing a firstborn by sacrificing your own." I gasped. Was he asking me to kill my own son? I had no love for that boy, but he still bore royal blood. "If you want any chance at the throne, Prince Ozai, you will do this."

After a moment's consideration, I bowed and replied "Yes, father. I will do it tonight."

As I made my way to Zuko's bedchamber late that night, Ursa caught me in the corridors, her expression unlike I have ever seen before in her. "I won't let you do it, Ozai." Her tone was low, deadly, and threatening retribution. How did she find out? Had she been eavesdropping?

"Stand aside, woman! It must be done."

"You would sacrifice Zuko, our first baby, just so you can have that monster's approval?" There were no tears in her eyes, just pure loathing as if she was seeing me plainly for the first time.

It was then I admitted, "There is nothing I will not do for the throne, Ursa. Do you understand? Nothing."

"I am begging you," she pleaded now. "Please spare my baby! Don't do this!" She closed her eyes for a moment. "You want the throne so much; I can make sure you have it. I will kill Azulon and change his will so that you will be crowned Firelord instead of Iroh."

I felt a smile cross my face. This was an excellent idea. I would keep that worthless spawn of hers alive if I could get rid of Azulon and take the throne to myself. "Very well, Ursa. But understand this, you will be banished from the Fire Nation, and I will make it that you won't be missed."

"I understand, just tell me that Zuko will be safe."

"He will be."

By the end of the night, it was all said and done. Ursa had poisoned Azulon's nighttime cup of tea and had rewritten the will before burning the original. The next day, the servants would find him dead and I would be name Firelord. Ursa came to me after the deed was done.

"So?"

"He's dead," Ursa replied coldly. "I am going to say one last goodbye to Zuko, but I am taking Azula with me." I raised my eyebrow. "I know Zuko will be able to stand on his own and rise above you, but Azula will not. I will not let you destroy my daughter."

I didn't laugh; I just gave her a fair warning. "I don't think so. If you take Azula, I will execute Zuko without blinking an eye. I can promise you that."

Tears were pouring silently down her beautiful face. "How could I have ever fallen in love with you? Do you have any heart? How could such beautiful children have come from such an evil man?"

I put my hand on her shoulder and she recoiled. "There is no good or evil, Ursa. There's only power and those too weak to seek it." She backed away from me, paling. Everything she thought was true was now coming crashing down on her. "Go say goodbye to your children, Ursa," I said. "It's the last you'll ever see of them."

The sun rose and I was already in my white mourning robes, preparing for my father's cremation in the garden. Zuko came to me and demanded to know where his mother was. I said nothing. It would be a very long time before he or Azula would know the truth of her disappearance. It didn't matter anymore. I was to be Firelord.

There was a large crowd gathered in coronation plaza that sunset. The head Fire Sage went on about Firelord Azulon's many accomplishments in battle as a prince, and how he did so much in his twenty-seven year reign as Firelord. I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes. All I could think about when it came to that rotting piece of meat that was once my father were the years of neglect and his delusional loyalty to Iroh, who would have driven our nation into ruin. I stood there with pleasure as the corpse of the former Firelord went up in flames. It was the most beautiful aroma I have ever smelled in my life up to that point. Azulon was gone and the citizens of Agnishima awaited the crowning of his successor.

"As was your dying wish," the Fire Sage said. "You are now succeeded by your second son." I got down to my knees and the Fire Sage placed the diadem in my top knot. In elation, I arose to my feet to look upon my subjects. "Hail Firelord Ozai!"

They bowed on the ground and once they arose, the now General Nguyen Thanh An stood by my side and roared, "Long live the Firelord! Banzai!"

"BANZAI!" the people roared. "BANZAI! BANZAI!"


A/N: I used lines from the show, which you may recognize. Also see if you can catch the Harry Potter quote. "Banzai" was a war cry from WWII Japan.

Part Three: Ozai's Reign and Defeat

(click to show/hide)When Ozai heard the cell door open, he immediately got on his feet. Another visitor, no doubt, he thought exasperatedly. However, the guard detail was different. This time, they came with the warden of the detention center, the Earth Kingdom officer the inmates had met on their first day.

"Sit," said the warden and Ozai sat on his mattress wondering what this was all about. The guards brought a chair for the warden to sit on. "As you can probably guess, we are coming down to it now. Only a little more than a week." Ozai grunted in response. As if he did not know.

"Is there anything you would like to eat that afternoon?"

"What?" Ozai responded, his brow furrowing. "What do you mean?"

"New policy," explained the warden. "A condemned inmate has the right to a last meal before the sentence is carried out. We can get you pretty much anything."

"Well, how generous," Ozai drawled and thought for a second. "I would like to start out with shark fin soup. For the main meal, I want whale steak cooked with curry, a bowl of rice, and bottle of sake. For dessert, I'll take fruit tart with tea." He wrote this all down as the inmate spoke.

"Now, would you like me to get a Fire Sage to say a prayer for you?"

"No."

"Do you have any other requests? Like someone you want to contact before the execution, a letter you wish to send?" This brought up his spirits somewhat.

"Well," he replied. "I'm writing a short testament. I intend to finish it before the hanging. I want it sent to Firelord Shinji University to the history department. Look for a man named Professor Yoshihiro Muto, he's a well known historian who has always wanted to write a book about the war, the way it really happened. I believe my testament will be a good addition to his work. I just want to know that my word is going to be out there after it's all over."

"I can't promise he'll publish it, but I will have your testament sent over a day before the execution. Is there anything else I can do?"

"Yes," Ozai said. "As it's a mass execution, how is it going to be conducted?"

"We're doing everyone at once" said the warden. "It's taking place in front of the Ministry of Justice. Anything else?"

"No." With a nod, the guards left Ozai to write.

With eight days left, here I am writing my final entry. The guards were here just a minute ago to take my last requests. This is something I never heard of. It must be a new addition by "Firelord Zuko the Reformer" as they are calling him these days. If I can't die like royalty, at least I am going to eat like royalty one last time.


I finally had everything I had desired all my life. I was the Firelord…the entire nation and our colonies in the Earth Kingdom were now under my absolute rule. Immediately upon taking the throne, I called for a meeting of all the ministers and highest ranking military personnel. I said that we were to redouble our efforts and move in on the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes faster and with more force than ever before with Sozin's Comet only a few years away.

Through my contact in a prison where we captured some Waterbenders from the Southern Tribe, I learned that they extracted information out of one prisoner that there was one Waterbender left over there. The rest had already been killed or captured by the Fire Nation. I gave Admiral Yon Rha the orders to deal with this. Not too long later, he sends me a messenger hawk stating that he has eliminated the last Waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe, a young woman no less. Yon Rha's currently being tried in the South Pole and they are not known for their mercy.

A few months after my coronation, Iroh had returned to the Fire Nation. It was so satisfying to see his expression a he arrived in the throne room, looking at me sit behind the wall of flames. He regarded me and then bowed. "It has been a long time, my brother," I could sense the smile in his words. "Or I should say, 'my Lord'."

He sounded sincere enough. That was good; I wouldn't have a rebellion on my hands. Iroh's name still commanded a great deal of respect and it could have been a problem, but he had accepted me as his Firelord. "Good to see you back and in good health," I answered. "Rise," I added as an afterthought.

"I have just finished promoting and awarding soldiers who have served our nation honorably. Frankly, General Iroh, I cannot think of a man who has served and fought for our nation with more honor than you have."

"The compliment is undeserved, my Lord," he said respectfully and I made a gesture that it was deserved, despite my really thinking otherwise.

"For your decades of selfless commitment to the Fire Nation, my brother, I hereby release you from your service in the Fire Nation Army with the highest honors." His face was expressionless as he bowed to me in gratitude. I went on to say that he is a retired war hero and his opinion on battle strategies would always be invaluable to me. I had to make it seem like I respected my brother's service, personal feelings be damned if I wanted the true loyalty of the other generals. Nguyen Thanh An became the new Senior General and his orders were to succeed where Iroh had failed. The Earth Kingdom pushed as back a long way in the Siege of Ba Sing Se, and Nguyen was going to conquer it for us.

As for the Avatar, finding him was still a priority. I did not believe for a second that the Air Nomads were all extinct, there had to be some out there in hiding. I had lesser officers search for any Airbender or people who seem to channel their character in the Earth kingdom. Little did I know that in a few years, Zuko would find him, and as a young child, no less.

Speaking of Zuko, he seemed happy for the first time in months when Iroh returned. He went into depression after Ursa disappeared from his life, but once Iroh returned, he got his old flare back so to speak. He did not adjust well to the Academy. Like me, he had much to live up to with his ancestry. There was also the fact that he had a very short fuse and was a slow learner when it came to Firebending. Other than Iroh, he only truly seemed warm and patient with Mai, Azula's friend and daughter of Master Han.

Iroh took it upon himself to train Zuko in Firebending and that had improved his skills greatly. The problem was that he was too aggressive in his forms. He relied too much on his muscles rather than his breath. Another problem of his was that he was beginning to emulate Iroh way too much for his own good. His ideas about the purpose of the Royal Family just stunk of the words Iroh spoke to me all those years ago. I couldn't wait until he'd finally turn sixteen and I would be able to send him off to a foreign battlefield. Luckily for me, I would be rid of him much sooner than I could have anticipated.

When he was thirteen years old, he began to take an interest in politics. He felt that he had needed to sit in on an important war meeting. In this meeting, one of my most valued advisors, General Itagaki, presented a strategy to use a division of new recruits to lure in an elite Earth Kingdom corps, then we would flank them with two more divisions.

"You can't sacrifice an entire division like that!"Zuko stood up and shouted, and I never felt more embarrassed by him. How dare he speak out of turn in my war room? "Those soldiers love and defend our nation! How can you betray them?"

I got to my feet in outrage, the wall of flames rising. Much like Azulon did to me before my coronation, I pointed my finger at Zuko. "How dare you question the integrity of one of my top Generals?" I roared.

"Father, I…"

"Silence! You are guilty of an act of complete disrespect and there is only one way to resolve this!" That would be an Agni Kai, a Firebending duel. One of the many things Zuko had done away with upon taking the throne. I'm also hearing whispers of him creating something called a Parliament that would limit the Firelord's power. They would be chosen by the people no less. He's even granted several unalterable rights to the people like freedoms of speech, expression, assembly, and privacy of their homes. He is revamping our justice system in the favor of the accused, modeling it after the tribunal, only instead of a judge pronouncing verdicts, it would be a jury consisting of regular citizens. Despite all these freedoms, he's placed a prohibition on any outward display of loyalty to the "Old Regime". If someone assaults or speaks ill of or to someone of another nation or a colony because of their background or even so much as shouts "Banzai", they are heavily fined or sent to prison. You know what's worst of all? He's even going to hand most of his power to an elected Prime Minister! Luckily, I'll be long dead by the time this all becomes official. It'll take at least twenty years, they say. Anyway, I'm digressing here.

Zuko gave a disgusted look to General Itagaki and nodded. He seemed to think that he would be dueling him, but that sunset, he got an unpleasant surprise. Zuko may have spoke out against Itagaki's plan, but by speaking out of turn and not to mention a plan I agreed with in my own war room, it was I whom he had disrespected. When he saw that it was me that would have to duel, he fell to his knees. He was once again embarrassing me in front of my top Generals, Azula, and even more Fire Nation officers, including Zhao Xing Li, a Captain in the Navy and an old follower of mine.

"Please, father," he pleaded. "I only had the Fire Nation's best interest at heart!"

"You will fight for your honor," I insisted in my most dangerous voice, but Zuko did not budge.

"I meant you no disrespect." There were tears welling in his eyes, I had never seen anything more pathetic. A member of the Royal Family acting so weak.

"Rise and fight, Prince Zuko!"

"I won't fight you!"

That was too much. He would need to learn a lesson that he would never forget. I would not tolerate a son who would back out of a fight. "You will learn respect," fire gathered at my right hand, "and suffering will be your teacher." In a swift movement, I lunged at my son, my flaming fist striking the left side of his face, marring it forever. He roared in pain and gasped, holding his wound.

"You have shown shameful weakness by refusing to fight me, Prince Zuko, and that I will not tolerate from anyone!" He looked up at me. "You are hereby banished from the Fire Nation under pain of death!" The unmarked side of his face blanched. "You may only return if you have successfully captured the Avatar. Get yourself to healer. You are to be gone by tomorrow!"

He was sent off without ceremony with Iroh accompanying him. I gave him an old ship manned by misfit sailors, which included Lieutenant Jee, Chef Liang, and a few others. I thought he would likely never return and Azula guessed that he would be enjoying his adventures with Iroh anyway. I would spend the next three years grooming Azula to be my heir. She perfected Firebending so well that she was able to create bright blue flames. She was cold, merciless, and even-tempered…a perfect weapon. No one had dared to defy her, and I knew she would be a great Firelord one day. The second in line to the throne would be Nguyen of course. He was exactly like Azula, only a grown man.

However, we both severely underestimated just how stubborn Zuko was. Nearly three years after his banishment, a Fire Sage barges into the throne room. "What is the meaning of this?" I shouted. "How dare you come in here without my invitation?"

"F-Forgive me, Sire!" he stammered. "The Avatar…the Avatar is alive!"

"What!" I stormed out of the throne room to my office, and waiting for me there was a messenger hawk from now Commander Zhao. Zuko had found the Avatar, a boy of twelve years, and he let him slip through his fingers. Zhao assured me that he would capture him before Zuko. I knew I was dealing with two very determined and stubborn men. They would certainly come to conflict for my approval. Neither would receive it as it turned out.

Winter had come and Zhao, who was now Admiral of the Northern Fleet, and Zuko had been following the Avatar and his friends for months. Zhao was going to launch an attack on the Northern Water Tribe. Unlike the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation would face its polar opposite in element, no pun intended. It was a disaster of titanic proportions. Zhao's plan was to destroy the Moon Spirit, the source of all Waterbending. Zuko and Iroh stowed away on his ship to capture the Avatar. My son had the Avatar in his clutches, and what happens? He gets caught in a storm and nearly freezes to death.

I was waiting in anticipation for the moon to darken and once it did, I thought we had it made. Not too long later, the moon shined white again. I knew something was wrong and once I read the battle report, I nearly set my office on fire in rage. Iroh would not let Zhao kill the Moon Spirit. When he did, Iroh killed several of our own. What made matters worse is that the Avatar went into this freakish spiritual rage called the Avatar State. His power combined with the Ocean Spirit's resulted in the destruction of the entire fleet; thousands of warships! I had a traitor for a brother and a failure for a son. I immediately called for Azula and sent her to capture them.

While all this was going on, we had captured the City of Omashu. I needed someone loyal to keep order there, but someone who was disposable as well. Only person I could think of was Han, so I appointed him governor and sent him there along with his family. It was here that Azula added the Avatar to her list of people to capture. She was joined by her friends, Mai and Ty Lee in the chase.

It would be a long time before I would get any news from Azula, and it was pretty uneventful for a few months. However, one day I got a message from her, saying that she had captured the Kyoshi Warriors. Two were executed and the others sent to prisons in the Fire Nation. Azula had taken a liking to their leader and decided to interrogate her for a while. I assume she meant that red haired girl who was testifying in court that she was tortured for months and raped (not by Azula, but by a group of guards in the Boiling Rock). Azula apparently kept torturing her after the fall of Ba Sing Se.

I'll get to Ba Sing Se now. First we tried breaching the outer wall with a drill, but were once again thwarted by the Avatar and his friends. After Azula captured the Kyoshi Warriors, she, Mai, and Ty Lee took their uniforms and infiltrated the city. This would succeed where outright attack would fail. My daughter had earned the Earth King's trust, conspired with the Dai Li, and imprisoned him. Later, she met Zuko and Iroh in the Crystal Catacombs and it was Zuko's moment of truth. He helped Azula capture my traitorous brother and in an even more surprising move, he had slain the Avatar in the Avatar State, thus ending the cycle, or so we thought at the time.

A few weeks later, my children came home to a great victory ceremony. After the capture of Ba Sing Se from the inside, Senior General Nguyen led our forces in from the outside with little resistance. He would be appointed the governor of the city. Finally, it was time for an audience with my son. Here he was, after three long years, looking more like me than ever only with the burn scar. He bowed humbly to me.

"You have been away for a long time," I began with preamble. "I can see the weight of your travels have changed you. You have redeemed yourself, my son." I extinguished the flames separating the throne from the rest of the chamber. "Welcome home." I arose from the throne and made my way to my son, who was still kneeling.

"I am proud of you, Prince Zuko. I am proud because you and your sister conquered Ba Sing Se. I am proud because when your loyalty was tested by your treacherous uncle," Iroh was placed in the prison in the outskirts of the capital, "you did the right thing and captured the traitor, And I am proudest of all of your most legendary accomplishment; you slayed the Avatar.

"What did you hear?" he responded hastily. I dismissed it then as him not being used to compliments.

"Azula told me everything. She said she was amazed and impressed by your power and ferocity at the moment of truth."

"You have my gratitude, father." He regained his humble tone.

In the months that followed, I had seldom seen Zuko. The only times I saw him were when I wanted to dine with him and Azula. These were quiet meals. Most of his time was spent with Mai, with who he was now in a relationship. If they were to announce their engagement, I would reluctantly consent to it, mostly because I couldn't stand her parents. Mai was completely different from them and I hope their younger son will be as well. He's only five now, so he still has a chance.

We had won the war, but it seemed that our problems were worse than ever. In the wake of the Avatar's "death", much anger spread throughout the Earth Kingdom. Rebellions began popping up left, right, and center, giving our forces a rather hard time. It was an outright insurgency; even civilians were rising against us. On top of that, we had an invasion coming up on the day of a solar eclipse.

A day before the eclipse, I called for a war meeting with my top military staff, cabinet, and children. We had to come up with a plan to crush these rebellions to ensure our permanent rule. It would be here that Iroh would have said that the tighter you hold on to power, the more it will slip through your fingers. I would not "hold on", that's for sure. First I had Zuko speak. He said that the Earth Kingdom people are proud, strong, and fiercely loyal to their land. They would fight for it as long as they had hope. We needed to destroy their hope.

"I think you should take their hope along with the rest of their land and burn it to the ground," Azula suggested.

Normally, I'd have punished anyone who'd talk out of turn, but she had a good idea. She was absolutely right. Sozin's Comet was on its way and it would endow us with the power of a hundred suns. One that day, we would take our airships and from those airships, we would rain a fire upon the Earth Kingdom and what remained of the Water Tribes. Grandfather Sozin started the war and used the Comet to wipe out the Air Nomads. I would use it to wipe out the other nations, Earth Kingdom. The entire world would end in fire, and from the ashes, a new world would be born; a world in which all lands would be Fire Nation, and I the supreme ruler of all!

Everything was now set in motion for the invasion. Most Firebenders were lying in wait for the eclipse to end. Zuko, Azula, and I along with my cabinet, nobles, and high military command waited in our bunker. Azula said she would distract the enemy during the eclipse and then destroy them. What happened that day, I could never have expected.

The doors to the makeshift throne room opened, and in walked my son without any invitation, his eyes fixed in a glare. I put down my tea and looked up at him suspiciously. "Prince Zuko," I said coldly, my brow furrowing. "What are you doing here?" He said nothing in response. It was as if he was trying to work out an answer. "Why are you here?" I pressed.

In a strong, confident tone, he stated, "I'm here to tell the truth." I raised my eyebrows.

"'Telling the truth' during the middle of an eclipse? This should be interesting." I dismissed my guards so that I would be alone with my son. I knew that I was about to hear something interesting. I signaled for him to speak.

"First of all," he began, his tone remaining confident and even. "In Ba Sing Se, it was Azula who took down the Avatar, not me."

I frowned at this revelation. "Why would she lie to me about that?"

"Because the Avatar is not dead. He survived."

"What?' I sprang to my feet in rage. Azula had lied to me? It was unthinkable, an outrage. She would suffer greatly for this!

"In fact," Zuko added. "He's probably leading this invasion and could be on his way here right now."

"Get out!" I shouted, anger prevailing over my dignity. "Get out of my sight right now, if you know what's good for you!" He did not budge. On the contrary, his expression hardened as he responded, "That's another thing. I'm not taking your orders anymore." Did Zuko just refuse to obey a direct order from his own father and Firelord?

"You will obey me," I warned, my expression matching his, "or this defiant breath will be your last!" In a swift movement, he brandished his broadswords, his eyes burning in anger. It was at that moment when I realized he did not look like me at all. He had Sozin's fierce golden eyes, the wild hair of Avatar Roku, his mother's prominent forehead and only my strong jaw. This was no longer the weak little brat that had been banished from the Fire Nation, but a true Fire Nation prince hardened by resolve and who'd realized the truth of the world around him.

"Think again!" he cried raising a sword and pointing it at me. I sat down in shock. "I am going to speak my mind and you are going to listen! For so long, all I wanted was for you to love me, to accept me! I thought it was my honor that I wanted, but really, I was just trying to please you. You, my father who banished me just for talking out of turn! My father who challenged me, a thirteen-year-old boy to an Agni Kai! How could you possibly justify a duel with a child?"

"It was to teach you respect!" In truth, I was at loss for words. For the first time, Zuko had me against the wall.

"It was cruel and it was wrong!"

"Then you learned nothing!"

"You're wrong," Zuko shot back. "I learned everything and I had to learn it on my own. Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation is the greatest civilization in history and that somehow, the war was our way of sharing that glory with the rest of the world. But what an amazing lie that was! The people of the world are terrified by the Fire Nation. They don't see our 'greatness', they hate us and we deserve it!"

I sat there listening to his whole speech and knew what was coming. Despite all but declaring himself an enemy, I was proud of Zuko for the first time in my life. I am being perfectly honest, I was truly proud him for finally standing up to me and asserting himself in his own way. Now I was just waiting for the Agni Kai that I never got three years before. However, he was not done with his speech.

"We created an era of fear in the world and if we don't want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness." At this, I laughed.

"You uncle has gotten to you, I see." I knew Iroh would eventually corrupt that boy's mind. Zuko's firm confirmation of my inquiry wiped the grin off my face.

"After I leave here today," he said, "I am going to free Uncle Iroh from his prison and beg for his forgiveness. He's the one that's been a real father to me."

"Well, that's just beautiful," I said derisively. "Perhaps he can teach you the ways of tea and failure." Zuko didn't respond directly.

"But I've come to an even more important decision." He drew in a deep breath. "I'm going to join the Avatar and I'm going to help him defeat you."

"Really," I challenged in excitement, grinning widely. "Since you're a full-blown traitor now and want me gone, why wait? You've got your swords, I'm powerless. Why don't you just do it now?"

"Because I know my own destiny," Zuko replied calmly. "Taking you down is the Avatar's destiny." With that, he sheathed his swords and began to leave. I wouldn't have that!

"Coward! You think you're brave enough to face me but will only do so during an eclipse? If you had any real courage, you'd stick around until the sun comes out." He didn't even slow his pace. I knew he was trying to ignore me, so I tried another tactic. "Don't you want to know what happened to your mother?" He stopped in his tracks. With a knowing smile, I knew it was my turn to back him up against the wall.

"What happened that night?" he demanded hatefully.

"My father, Firelord Azulon commanded me to do the unthinkable to you, my own son, and I was willing to do it." Zuko gasped at this. "Your mother found out and stopped me. She would do anything to protect you. She knew I wanted the throne and concocted a plan, a plan in which I would be Firelord and your life would be spared.

"That night, she poisoned my father's tea cup and changed his will. Your mother did vicious and treasonous things that night. She knew the consequence and accepted them. For her treason, she was banished."

"So she's alive?" A tear fell silently down my son's face.

"Perhaps," I replied shrugging and I could feel the fire resonating within me. "But now I see that banishment is far too merciful a penalty for treason. You penalty will be far steeper!" In a swift movement of my arms, the room illuminated in a harsh white light as lightning surrounded me. I launched the current of electricity towards Zuko and it struck home. However, he didn't writhe in pain, he seemed to….there was no other word for it…catch the lightning in the circle of his arms, pointed his finger towards me sending the lightning back. I dodged it just in time, so it struck the stairs instead, sending a cloud of smoke. Once it cleared, he was gone.

The invasion had been defeated. Those not killed were captured by our troops, including Hakoda, Chief of the Southern Water Tribe. He was sent to the Boiling Rock while the others were imprisoned in the prison by Agnishima. While it seemed like a great victory for us, Zuko's betrayal inspired underground movements to rise against us in the open. To make matters worse, Iroh had escape he prison and fled to the Fire Nation. I couldn't wait for the Comet, and then I would show them all who they are dealing with.

I didn't speak to Azula since the war meeting. She had taken it upon herself to conduct a surprise inspection of the Boiling Rock. Little did she or I know, things would just go down for her from there. Zuko and one of his new friends broke into the prison to break some prisoners out. They organized a riot, and just as they were about to escape on the cable car, Azula caught up with them, engaging them in battle. Mai turned on the guards, taking out a good few just to help Zuko escape. When Azula attempted to confront her, Ty Lee chose Mai's side and incapacitated Azula. My daughter was brought back to the palace seething in rage. It wasn't an in-control kind of anger either. Her sanity was dwindling.

As the day of Sozin's Comet began to approach, Azula became more insecure than ever. I could not allow her to jeopardize the mission, so she would not be accompanying us. Needless to say, she was less than pleased when I informed her about it. To calm her down, I declared that she be Firelord. To commemorate my new empire, which would rise from the ashes of the old world, I took up the title of the Phoenix King.

The Comet soared through the sky in all its wondrous glory; I could feel its energy surging through my veins as the ship flew towards the coast of the Earth Kingdom. A forest lay below us and as soon as we hit land, we released a blaze so great and terrible that you would have to have been there to behold it. Great plumes of yellow and orange bursting from our hands and rising from the woods below. That was one it happened. The flagship shuddered as rocks struck the propellers, sending the huge aircraft to the ground. That's when I saw him, the Avatar, my greatest foe/

Our duel took place on the craggy mountains of Wulong. Our eyes locked in a brief battle of wills before I spoke of how the Universe brought him straight to me after generations of Firelord had failed to find him. He first tried to reason me with me, warning me that we don't have to fight, that I had the power to stop what I was doing. He was right, I did have the power; all the power in the world!

This was it, the fated duel. The Avatar would face me and the fate of the world would be decided at last. In the beginning of the battle, I took the offensive and the Avatar evaded me. He only Earthbended at me a few times. It was pathetic and almost disappointing in a way. Then I shot lightning at him and to my shock, he stopped it and was about to redirect it. Zuko must have taught him that, no doubt! Just as I braced myself for the finishing blow, he shot the lightning into the air, refusing to kill me.

I held the advantage throughout the duel, until he enclosed himself in rock. I called him weak just like the rest of his people hoping that stab against the Air Nomads will inspire some anger in him… it didn't. It was only when I sent him into the face of a cliff did something happen. That heavy blow must have triggered something, because his eyes and tattoos were glowing with a fierce light.

Before I could make heads or tails of what was happening, he struck me with a heavy blow. He was in the Avatar State and now a fully realized Avatar. I tried to avoid and strike at him with Firebending, but he flew closer and closer to me, brushing aside my flames like spider flies. He was surrounded by a wind shield with rings of earth, fire, and water spinning around him. Finally, I felt a rope of water encircle my torso, hoisting me up and slamming me on top of an intrusion of rock.

I gazed up in him with fear, I'm ashamed to admit, real fear. He trapped my arms and legs. "Firelord Ozai!" the voices of thousands of Avatars escaping from his throat. "You and your forefathers have devastated the balance of this world, and now you shall pay the ultimate price!" His elemental shied dispersed, forming a snakelike combination of all for elements. I braced myself for the final blow, closing my eyes tightly. All I felt was a splash of water. Opening my eyes, I saw the Avatar hovering there facing away from me, his head bent.

"No, I'm not going to end it like this."

"Even with all the power in the world," I hissed. "You are still weak." I was just about to finish him with a burst of flame, but he sensed me somehow. I found my limbs trapped again and he simply placed his hand on my forehead, closing his eyes. What happened next could only be described as weird. I began to see my past and the Avatar's flashing before my eyes. He must have seen mine and felt my resentment to Iroh, loathing of my father, and ambition for power. Then I saw the times he spent with his friends, joking with a blind Earth Kingdom girl, kissing a rather beautiful Water Tribe girl. For the first time in my life, I felt things like love, value of friendship, selflessness and courage even though it was channeled through another. I felt like I was rising in the air and slowly weakening. The bright light flashed and I slumped on the rock, feeling wearier than ever.

I tried Firebending, but not even smoke escaped from my limbs. "W-What have you done to me?" I stammered.

"I've taken away your Firebending. You will never be able to use it to hurt or threaten anyone else ever again." He reentered the Avatar State and used the water of the ocean to extinguish the fire. From where I lay I could see that all but one airship had crashed. In a matter of less than a day, the Hundred-Year War was over and we had lost. It was all too much for me to take in. I barely listened to his friends' childish taunts, and then I fainted.

We lost the war. In the days that followed, Zuko had been crowned Firelord and reconciled with Mai. I was on hold in the prison near Agnishima to await my fate. Zuko first visited me to demand Ursa's whereabouts, but I did not know. A year later, he came back, much to my dismay.

"I told you I don't know where your mother is!"

"That's not why I'm here," Zuko snapped. "I'm here to inform you that the council of nations demands you stand trial." I perked up.

"Trial?" I repeated, grabbing the bars in disbelief. "For what?"

"You have been charged with conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. You are to be transferred along with twenty-five others to the dungeons beneath the Ministry of Justice."

I could not believe it. I was furious beyond words. It was a mere stroke of luck that resulted in my defeat and they were going to try me like a criminal for crimes they all made up? They even had the audacity to put me in this closet of a cell with three other men!

A day before the trial, the guards took us to the dining hall to meet our lawyer. He was a do-goody type, I could tell right away. "My name is Hideo Tanaka," he announced. "I'm the head of the Law Department at Firelord Shinji University. The Fire Nation faces a difficult time in the coming years. I have been asked to represent you all in the upcoming trials. This is the first time a government of a nation is put on trial, so I ask that you tell the truth and remember your oaths to your country." Nguyen arose from his seat in response. "Long live the Phoenix King!" The others responded with the customary "Banzai!" shout.

You may have heard that my behavior in court was outrageous. That I would have angry outbursts and not answer questions. That is almost accurate, but misleading. I decided to give the judges a fight. I would not surrender to them with a guilty plea even though I knew I was facing conviction. Mr. Tanaka tried to use the defense that our actions in the war were not at the time illegal, but it did not work. The prosecutor's argument that these circumstances do justify bringing them to court, legality at the time be damned, sat with the judges.

My defense was that I had no knowledge of the others' actions, while they tried to put the full blame on me. We had witnesses from all the nations testifying against us as well. These included the Avatar, my worthless son, and their friends. I was particularly amused during that red haired Kyoshi girl's testimony about the treatment of war prisoners. By the end of her testimony, she was barely able to speak from all that crying. Then came the testimony of the Water tribe girl whose vision flashed before my eyes when the Avatar removed my Firebending. She testified against the raid on the Southern Water Tribe and the treatment of Earth Kingdom civilians. Yon Rha had killed the wrong person. His victim was a nonbending mother. The true Waterbender had been this girl in the witness stand. During the two years of the trials, I heard news of the outside in the dungeons. Zuko married Mai and had two kids. Their first was a boy named Ryuhito and the second was a girl named Kumiko. Other whispers, as I mentioned before, were his decisions as Firelord. Ursa also came back to the palace, but hasn't visited me. Good, the last thing I needed then and the last thing I need now is her nagging. Azula and Zuko fought in an Agni Kai on the Day of the Comet along with that Water Tribe peasant. The duel resulted in a complete mental breakdown for Azula and her being transferred to a mental hospital where she's under constant care and watch.

The verdict finally came in three weeks ago. I was convicted along with twenty-one others. I along with sixteen (now fifteen since Yu poisoned himself) would be hanged. Five others, including my Education Minister and Financial Minister, were sentenced to lengthy prison time, two of them (Education Minister Matsumoto and two General) to life without the possibility of parole. The four men to be acquitted were the Minister of Homeland Affairs, Governor Han and Generals Shinu and Lee. Despite their acquittal of all charges, Zuko had banned anyone who had willingly served the "Old Regime" in its inner circle from ever holding a public office again, not that it would matter for that sycophant, Han. He was good with money and recently opened a banking system in the Fire Nation, so he would be richer than ever.

As I sit here now, writing this testament, I can tell you that I do not regret anything I have done in my life. I am not sorry for any of my "wrongs" whether they were brought against me in court or not. People are sometimes asked what they would have changed in their lives, and they could come up with many. I could only come up with one, now that I think about it: Ursa! Choosing her as my wife had led to my downfall and the downfall of the Fire Nation. Ursa, the mother of my children, and the bane of my existence. This is all I have to say. I can only hope that historians will publish this, and the world will know me for who I was from childhood to condemned inmate. In eight days' time, I will be gone and I am glad I won't live to see the Fire Nation slowly crumble into disgrace.

I am Ozai, the Phoenix King, and this was my testament.

A/N: And that brings the chapter to a natural close. Zuko banning any display of loyalty to the old way was inspired by Germany banning displays of loyalty to the Nazi regime in even the slightest way (something I applaud). Up next is the epilogue, which deals with the actual execution. Until next time, Lionheart out.

Epilogue: The End of it All

(click to show/hide)With his testament complete, the remaining days went by very slowly. For the first time since arriving to the detention center, Ozai felt boredom. He wondered what went through the minds of the previous two Firelords to have been deposed. What was going through their minds as the final day approached? None of them had written a final testament of their lives, they just sat in cells very much like this one for days on end before being brought up to the Firebending squad. Were they afraid of death? Did they just accept their fate like Ozai had? No one would ever know, and that was something Ozai prided himself for. He had gotten his word out to world for them to know who he truly was.

It was with this realization that the reality of what was about to happen finally hit Ozai in full force. He was going to die today at sunset. It was not that he wanted to die, but as he had written in his testament, it was much better than rotting in a prison cell and watching the nation he had devoted his life to fall into ruin. He just hoped that it would be done quickly. At this thought he raised an eyebrow. What was wrong with him? Did he just show fear of a little pain? Shaking his head in annoyance, he brushed that thought off.

Yesterday was the day that the guards came to collect his testament with a promise that they would get it over to the university. To his delight, the guards returned later in the day to report to him that Professor Muto had read the whole testament and assured them that he would have it published both as part of his book and as a separate entity. He would also make several copies to sell to the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom. Ozai's word would be out, and that made him know that he could die with at least some pride.

Earlier in the morning, all the inmates here given an opportunity to bathe, shave, and put on some traditional Fire Nation robes instead of these filthy prison rags. At least they would go with dignity, Ozai thought to himself. They even put their hair in topknots. As the day went on, from his cell, Ozai could hear a Fire Sage visiting the other condemned inmates and saying a prayer with them. However, since the former Firelord had fervently denied a Sage's visit, he did not approach his cell. The morning soon turned to midday and the cell door opened, bringing Ozai out of his thoughts.

Three guards, the ones who always brought him to the visitors' room, were carrying in trays full of food. It was good stuff judging by the smell. They also brought a bottle of sake. Wordlessly, the guards placed the food in front of Ozai and left him to eat. It was everything he had requested, thank Agni. From the shark fin soup, to the curry whale steak and sake, to the fruit tart and tea, he slowly savored on each bite and drop. If this was to be his final meal, then he would enjoy every last morsel of it. Once he was finished, the guards came back to clean the plates.

Soon the sun was beginning to set, the blue sky painted an orange, golden, and purple hue. The sun itself was darkening to a gold color as well. Ozai never really gave much thought to how beautiful a sunset was. All too soon, the door opened once again and in strode the warden with a guard detail.

"Ex-Firelord Ozai," he announced with his hands behind his back. "The International Military Tribunal has issued a warrant for your execution. Sentence is to be carried out today, twenty-eighth of July, Year of the Pig at seven hours past midday. Would the condemned please step forward?" Ozai obeyed after the warden's obviously well-rehearsed speech.

They cuffed and shackled the former Firelord, placing him in line with the others. The guards flanked the inmates through the detention center's corridors and as they marched towards the exit, Ozai could hear his fellow condemned. Some were muttering under their breath, one was crying, but most just walked silently. At last, they were led outside the facility and loaded onto a large waiting cart drawn by a komodo rhino.

The cart slowly rolled out the gates and into the city of Agnishima flanked by full guard detail. The warden marched ahead of the cart, leading everyone to the site of the execution of the most notorious living perpetrators of the Hundred-Year War. The streets of the city were dead. Not one soul was in the streets. There were no children playing, no merchants selling their wares, no nobles gossiping about daily life…just silence.

They passed the palace gates and a flood of memories hit Ozai. It was from this place that he had accomplished everything in his life save for his victories in the army. Nguyen Thanh An tried to get his old Firelord's attention, but Ozai would not even meet his gaze. There was no more point in talking. It was over and his fellow inmates should have accepted that a long time ago.

All too soon, the Ministry of Justice drew nearer. A large crowd had already gathered in front of the building, waiting eagerly to see Ozai and the others die. Among the reds, there were also shades of greens and blues all standing together. A high platform had been constructed in front of the building. Upon it stood the scaffold; two poles connected by one long crossbeam and sixteen nooses dangling from it. A detail of four men stood on each corner of the platform by a lever. It was just as Zuko had said. Instead of four Fire Nation soldiers, there was only one. The other men were from the Earth Kingdom, the Southern Water Tribe, and the Northern Water Tribe.

Normally, the crowd would have been jeering but they all stood there silently, respecting the importance of what was about to happen. The guards herded the inmates off the cart, up the stairs, and onto the platform. Ozai stood in the dead center of the line of condemned men and the executioners began to place the ropes around their necks. Ozai felt an involuntary shudder as felt the noose around him.

The warden of the detention center that Ozai had spent his final month in made his way up the platform and faced them. "To all of you standing upon this platform," he began in a loud, clear voice that carried to the crowd even though he was speaking to the inmates. "You have been condemned to die on the gallows by the International Military Tribunal, sentence imposed by judges of good standing in the Four Nations, may the Spirits bless the people of the Four Nations. By international law, you will all be given a chance to say something before sentence is carried out. Executioners, please collect the final statements of the condemned and once they've had their say, place hoods over their heads"

They collected final statements in order from left to right. Some expressed regret and remorse for their actions, others showed that they have no regrets whatsoever, most just muttered a meaningless nothing like a goodbye to their families or how they had found enlightenment in the past thirty days and were ready to die. After they spoke, the executioners placed hoods over their heads and tightened the nooses. Finally, they came to Ozai.

"Do you have anything you'd like to say?" the Northern Water Tribe executioner inquired. He thought for a moment and gazed out at the crowd. He had spent days writing his final testament and his feelings about everyone. In the front row, he saw her after so many years; Ursa. Her eyes met his. There was no need for her to say anything at all, her expression spoke louder. It was as if she was saying, "As much as I hate you, as much as you destroyed my daughter and harmed my son, a part of me still loves you." It made his stomach turn in revulsion to watch.

Turning his head sideways, he firmly answered, "No." The Fire Nation executioner made a move to put a hood over his head but Ozai stopped him. "I don't want that thing over my face. I'm not afraid to die."

"I'm sorry, it's regulations." Ozai rolled his eyes as the black hood was placed over his heard, leaving him seeing pitch black, never to see again. The noose around his neck tightened.

The executioners went on collecting final statements. War Minister Qin outright said that he had absolutely no regret for anything he had done and that it was an injustice that they were being executed by scum like them. Nguyen Thanh An, ever loyal to his former leader cried out one last, "Long live the Phoenix King! Banzai!" before the hood covered his head.

Once all the statements were collected, the executioners took their places at their respective levers. The warden once again stood in front of the inmates to address them. "To all of you standing upon this platform, the trapdoor shall now be dropped and you will be hanged by the neck until you are dead in accordance with international law. May the spirits have mercy on your souls." Ozai rolled his eyes as the Earth Kingdom officer made his way to the side of the platform.

"Lower the platform!" the warden barked. The executioners pulled the levers simultaneously and the trapdoor opened with a bang. For a few second that felt like an eternity to Ozai, there was nothing but falling through thin air. Then, sooner than he could have hoped for, he felt it; the stiffening of the rope, the tugging on his head, the resounding crack of the vertebrae in his neck. It was not painful, it just felt weird and Ozai had only a fraction of a second to think about it before the Phoenix King knew no more.

The sixteen ropes swung back and forth for a moment. The warden and crowd waited in silence as the swinging gradually began to slow until finally, the ropes hung still under the sunset. All sixteen men had been successfully hanged. Turning to the executioners, the warden ordered, "Cut the ropes, remove the hoods from the bodies, load them on the cart, and dismantle the scaffold." As the executioners scrambled down the stairs to carry out their orders, the crowd began to disperse, muttering quietly amongst themselves.

After the execution, the bodies of the war criminals had been loaded back onto the cart and wheeled off to the outskirts of the city, where a mass grave had been set up for them. All sixteen bodies of the hanged men and the poisoned body of Prime Minister Yu were placed side by side in the grave and the guards unceremoniously covered them with dirt. Before their bodies disappeared, the guards caught one last glimpse of Ozai's body, his unseeing face fixed in a permanent look of disdain.

Only one large slab of granite had already been placed there as a grave marker. Upon it was etched a single inscription:

"THE GRAVE OF THE MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS OF THE HUNDRED-YEAR WAR TRIED, CONVICTED, AND EXECUTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL. LET THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL OF MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS SERVE AS A WARNING TO ALL FUTURE WARMONGERS FROM ANY NATION: TYRANNY, FEAR, AND OPPRESSION AGAINST THE PEACE AND FREEDOM LOVING PEOPLES OF THE WORLD WILL NOT STAND AND SHALL BE MET WITH THE SWIFT HAND OF JUSTICE."


A/N: And thus ends The Final testament of Phoenix King Ozai. The lines used at the execution had be paraphrased from Stephen King's the Green Mile. The quote on the tombstone of the war criminals was inspired by the one left on a plaque in the Nuremberg courtroom after the hanging of the Nazis. It has been a pleasure writing this, and I hope you enjoyed it.


Here's my entry!




EQUALISTS



my submission. mostly my own digital work, the Kanji at the bottom says (in japanese) "Join the Rebellion!"


Title: “I, Hiroshi”
Rating: T – menacing words, remembrances of violence 
Writer:  A6
Word Count: 4300
Summary:  Hiroshi writes his own story of business success, his personal loss of his wife and the impact it had for him, and his views of his secret role in supporting the Equalist Insurrection.

”I, Hiroshi” (click to show/hide)“Hiroshi Sato is my name.

I am 50 years old and in the prime of my life.  In my native tongue, my name means ‘generous’. And for the better part of my life, I was. I was raised that way by my parents in Dragon Flats Borough. We had nothing but each other and whatever honest living we could make on a day to day basis.

As a kid, I did a lot of odd jobs. I enjoyed shining shoes the best, because in the reflection of the spit shine on the shoes of others I could see my dirty but determined face, reminding me that somehow I would get beyond that menial job and out of the slums.  I had to leave Dragon Flats somehow – for I neither had the strength for hard labor on the docks, and I swore I’d never pursue a life of crime like so many of my little friends did – crushing others’ lives to survive.

I have risen above that all now through the superiority of Equalism.  I have learned it is perfectly justified to crush the lives of benders and anyone who is their ally, even if it includes family, for they suppressed us non benders for millennia.

I was never a bender, and no one in my family was, despite all of them living in a former Fire Nation colony, before the United Republic of Nations existed.  All I had was my brain, and a keen desire about things that worked.  I always fixed things around the house that weren’t working, saving my parents their hard earned money.

My greatest mentor was my science teacher, who always made me believe I could do anything I set my mind on.  I devoured his textbooks showing me the world and the man-made wonders that made the world yield to man’s bidding.  My parents mostly rolled their eyes at my dreams, but while I worked hard every day at home and after school and weekends, I never took my eyes off my goal of making a difference by using my mind. 

Others did so before me, and rose from nothing too.

The Mechanist was my hero and idol.  He was a non bender.  His ideas helped both sides in the war, mostly because he was forced to, after losing his wife to Fire Nation benders, and having his paraplegic son’s life threatened until Avatar set him free.  He made a difference in Avatar Aang’s grand plan to end the war and to bring peace between all nations, both bender and non bender. And after the war, the Mechanist brought more technology to the world to make it a better place in which to live for everyone.

He and Chief Sokka, another non bending inventor I admired, created Republic City. It was absolutely nothing like any city in the world because of their innovations. Machines of war – submarines, tanks, drills, and airships - gave way to their inventions that benefitted, not subdued, mankind: electricity, electrical power plants, elevators, skyscrapers, telephones, radio, and more. They built electric trolleys that permitted mass transit without earth bending human labor like in Ba Sing Se. They made the world like it is today – that is why Republic City is so advanced. One of the Mechanist’s quotes is my favorite: “Technology makes a difference in our world”.

It was a mantra I embraced in every way. 

But most technology then depended on people’s bending power to make it work, and the four basic elements – a lot of machines depended on steam and fire energy from water and fire benders. The Mechanist had to harness the power of human lightning bending to generate electricity.

The world was still totally dependent on bending by changing one form of energy to another.  We had to get beyond that.  And we had to bring more people together.

I always wanted to connect people together in ways that were better, faster, and cheaper than before, and whenever people wanted to go somewhere at any time and any place.  Technology dependent on bending power wasn’t going to get us there.

In one of my teacher’s scientific newsletters, I read of the discovery of a new, strange flammable black liquid that came from under the ground.  Most people thought it was too dangerous to do anything with.  It had so much energy within it; it was almost like ‘stored bending’. If I could harness that, I could be a great inventor of powerful new machines that would help people in ways we couldn’t even imagine with steam engines, and give people comfort – not make them work harder.  We wouldn’t have to depend on bending power to make everything work, and people could have an easier life, as well as greatly enhance non benders’ lives.

Harnessing the flammable liquid seemed like a perfect elixir to help bring Republic City people together closer, and followed the dream of uniting everyone that Avatar Aang had.

Whenever I wasn’t working, I was drawing and inventing.  They were all just ideas. I had no money, and no way to make what I imagined.  It would never happen.

But one day my life changed, just before I graduated at age 18.  The Mechanist, a very old man then, came to my school to send the message that even the poorest kids in town could achieve greatness. He came with the Avatar. It was inspiring. Two of the most important men in the world were right there in my school. One was a bender, one not, but their differences made not a whit of difference in their friendship and their ability to work together.

My science teacher got me a few minutes alone with the Mechanist. I was really nervous, but I got to explain my idea of a personal transportation device that anyone could have that was not powered by steam, or ostrich horses or any other living creature, but by the liquid that burned, and showed him the engine I designed that would power the vehicle.

The Mechanist loved it.  Right after I graduated, he helped me get started right in his research laboratories at the University. He and his scientists and I made prototypes, and they worked marvelously. He helped me make my dream come true.  Because they trusted him so much, his bankers loaned me the money to make my first Satomobile in a dilapidated building right down the street in the worst part of town.

I even got the name of my fledgling business from him, when he told me to never stop thinking about the future, so my company became “Future Industries”.

Soon, everyone wanted a Satomobile. I expanded my plant constantly, and so many people wanted to be part of this new industry.  With a Satomobile, anyone could have the freedom to go anywhere at any time and do anything by themselves or just with their family and friends. Future Industries took off. We made bigger models, and cargo carrying Satomobiles we called ‘trucks’, and sportier models. We began to sell around the world.

All that spawned an even bigger industry of making paved roads, and metal bridges, and stations that stored and sold all this liquid energy which we named ‘petrol’ along the roads, with restaurants to feed hungry travelers.  The process of drilling and removing the petrol from the ground created its own highly profitable industry, especially in the Earth Kingdom.  Future Industries got a piece of all that new business.

The population of the city exploded because of me.  Soon, Future Industries was three times the size of Cabbage Corporation, an older, traditional company which had been around nearly a century. Three out of five workers in the city worked for me. And each of those created another seven jobs to support them. Future Industries drove the economy. 

My wealth soared, and I built my mansion on the hill, and lived their comfortably with my parents, who were glad to be rid of their dingy apartment in Dragon Flats.

Aside from the Avatar and the Council, I was the most powerful person in the City. And I served them all well.

Then I met my wife, mostly by accident.  I met plenty of power-hungry women at all the City’s many social events, but I saw right through each of their schemes.  The young woman who became my wife was driving a Satomobile in the country south of the City on her way to Yu Dao Province to interview for a nurse’s job.  She was in fact cursing her Satomobile, when I was driving by on business, and I fixed it for her, while she kept ranting away about how shoddy the Satomobile was. I gave her my business card to call me if she had any more trouble.  I will never forget how wide her eyes went when she saw my name, while she had been complaining so much about her broken Satomobile.

She thought that I never argued about her complaints was charming and gentlemanly.  One thing led to another and she became mine for what I thought was going to be all time. She loved me for me, and not for my name and fame. 

People flocked from the countryside to get a job in Republic City, but not everyone was there for an honest living.  There were those who preyed on the wealth of others.  Crime rose against my employees and other citizens.  So I aligned to help the police, this time turning my technology for the benefit of the Police – advanced airships, SatoPoliceCruisers, armored cars, and other crime-fighting devices.

Something else was going on the City.  The balance between non benders and benders was shifting.  In the early days, the City Council was well balanced between the factions, with a number of non benders leading our Nation.  There seemed to be a slow shift to all benders. Taxes and legislation that affected my products began to be enacted.  It was like the benders felt threatened by my technology.

While my lawyers limited the effects of misguided anti-technology politicians, I was too busy running my business to do anything about it. Personally, the benders didn’t interfere with me. In fact, a lot of my workforce and senior leadership team were benders, and I never discriminated in their employment, so it didn’t matter to me. Others who were more called to public activism noticed the trend, and there were a few who were very vocal in pointing out the growing inequalities. 

One of those was a young man ten years younger than me named Amon.

When I first read of Amon, I thought he was just another criminal. He didn’t wear a mask then, but did cover his scars and face with a scarf.  That made him mysterious and worrisome to the authorities.  And so I wrote him off.  His talk of equality for everyone seemed a childish dream. I scoffed. The superiority of benders over non benders wasn’t even a second thought to me.

But then, when my daughter turned one year old seventeen years ago, Avatar Aang died.  Most of the Gaang that saved the world was gone too.  Master Katara, in her grief, fled the city, and sequestered herself at the South Pole, far away from anything that reminded her of him.  Only Aang’s youngest son and young wife were left to carry on the vision of the City for benders and non benders alike, and to lead the Air Nation.  Tenzin became the last air bender.

There was much despair in the City with the loss of Aang, and the clear direction he provided.  After he was gone the message became muddled, and there were too many people claiming to carry on his legacy, when it was really twisted to be theirs.  The new Avatar would be years in training before she could take his place. And to me, there was really no taking Aang’s place. I was not the only one who thought so.

I saw the change then. Aang’s children were different.  They were well-meaning but less effective in keeping his vision, and less respected.  It was natural – they were not the Avatar.  Crime rocketed, and I had to create a lot of new inventions to help stem the crime wave, but it was very hard, and the Police were losing ground.

But the loss of the Avatar still didn’t really affect me. I had to stay focused on the business, my employees, and an economy to sustain for my fortunes. The stress caused by crime waves on my employees affected productivity, and some were mugged and hurt, but that was about it.  My wife and I had a young daughter to raise.  What was happening in the politics of the city just didn’t matter to me.  Or so I thought. 

Until what was happening kicked me right in the teeth when my daughter turned six.

I wanted her sixth birthday to be special, so I opened the mansion to a big party for her.  Animals and entertainers abounded, and I opened the grounds to poor kids and orphans as one of my philanthropic outreaches. People didn’t realize I could write the whole party off tax-free for my daughter as a donation to the community.  I may have been generous but I was no dummy to take advantage of the laws.  What I didn’t know is that I let crime into my life that day, and have paid the price ever since.

As a multi-billion yuan tycoon, I gave and gave and gave to the City.  Buildings and foundations and causes all had my name on them in the interest of philanthropy.  Avatar Aang made me feel good about giving. After he was gone, those that followed made me feel obligated to give, until I felt there was nothing left to give.

On that day twelve years ago, the most precious thing in my life was taken from me. My wife.

A thug, a nobody like me at that age, disguised as a fireball juggler, trespassed on the mansion grounds, and took my wife’s life because she gave everything of value she had to him. But that wasn’t enough for the thief.  He took her life too, just because she had everything, and he and his girlfriend had nothing at all. He burned my beautiful wife to a crisp, just ‘because’ in his rage to ‘get even’ with rich people. He got away just before I discovered her. I wept all night.

That loss, especially in the vindictive way he killed her, took a huge piece of my life forever, and so I was a changed man. I needed and desperately wanted revenge against that fire bender. His crime opened my eyes to all the advantages and privileges that benders have over non benders. There was not equality between the races, and it had always been there, even for me with my great influence and stature.  I was too ‘busy’ to see or care that I was still only a second class citizen by being a non bender, so my revenge grew to include all benders.  All of them were really the same, all taking advantage of the helpless non benders.

But I was a highly respected man, and was admired across the City and the world. I had a great fortune that I wanted passed on to my daughter intact and with honor.  So I properly mourned, and cared every day for my daughter as though nothing had changed. 

I dreamed every day just like I used to as yuan-less young man. Long ago I dreamed for success.  But I grew to dream and plan every day after my wife’s loss to exact my revenge on the bending world in a way that I could not be discovered, and dishonored, and not lose anything.

Republic City is known for its freedom of expression. Avatar Aang insisted on it in a world that had known only repression of thought and speech for a century.  He had experienced that first hand as a secret student in a Fire Nation school.  He championed the cause for new ideas to flourish, and only those who would espouse violence and revolt were dealt with.

I began to really notice Amon, who arrived in the city about the time my daughter Asami was born.  He attracted only a few people who would listen to his message.  He was considered extreme, was ridiculed by benders, and was dismissed by the populace. That disfigured face hidden behind a scarf scared people, long before he adopted his mask.   

At the time I was totally despondent. I wandered the park one night incognito, not caring if I was mugged or killed.  I heard Amon speak of all the equality mumbo jumbo, but as I was about to move on, I heard him tell his life story for the first time.  It was a compelling story of a young man who lost his family in cold blood. To fire benders.

My own blood ran cold as I listened, and I actually shivered hearing his tale. It was nearly like my own story. I felt an instant bond with this young man beyond any logic. I may have been running a multi billion yuan industrial empire, but in reality I had nothing without my dear wife beside me to share it with.

I came back night after night, and his message made more and more sense to me.  But his message was not getting out, so I arranged a meeting with his Lieutenant, who was a young man unknowingly injured by Avatar Aang, who wanted his own revenge.

We met in Dragon Flats, in an old haunt of mine.  I told him my own story.

His reaction moved me, ‘It looks like the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Join us in our cause to bring down the oppressive bender dictatorships, and make us not only their equals but their rulers.’

And so with my financial might, I helped him in his long plan of revenge. He was the front man, and I was the power behind him. I started subtlety by sponsoring fliers and posters for his rallies, buying ads in the newspapers, and air time on the radio, all as a ‘secret benefactor’. 

Keeping the secret of my hate for benders was hard, but fortunately I had a release through the Equalists’ clandestine meetings. It was so easy to lie to my daughter where I was going at night. Two decades ago I’d have never done that, but the end justified the means of revenge: overthrow of the benders. I helped Amon with his image by getting my best sculptors and artists to make him the mask he wore, and then blackmailed them into silence, not long before they all met with unfortunate fatal industrial accidents.

The might of the bending police and the defense forces of the Republic were formidable.  I had outfitted them all, but because of that I knew their weaknesses, and exploited that.  I was the ‘new’ Mechanist – supplying both sides of the undeclared war, but the side that had been right before was now corrupted and defiled, and so I dedicated my soul and inventive genius to Equalism.

The Equalists got my best work in decades, with technologies that are far beyond the present day’s ability to defend against, to make up for non benders’ weaknesses against bending combatants. I studied all the biological weaknesses of every bending discipline, and what it took to defeat each one.   I created weapons that reacted faster than bending does, and taught chi blockers to react instinctually faster than bending moves.  Bender moves are slower than anyone realizes.

I hid every new innovation to defeat benders that I created. Because of all my building maintenance and transportation contracts with the City, I had unlimited access to the underground tunnels and corridors of the City, and locked out all other companies by acquiring them.  Then I could build the Equalist underground transportation and communications networks.  I could provide exclusive patrols underground without the Police interfering, and could create my underground weapons laboratory hidden underneath my mansion. 

There is created my finest weapons: the mecha tank to protect an Equalist warrior against all forms of bending and overpower benders’ innate strength. It was cleverly based on my most powerful forklift products, and made of Platinum to evade the metal benders because of its metallic purity. Even more clever, and easily hidden, was something to attack and disrupt their chi the way chi blockers are trained. It was faster and allowed Equalists to attack by surprise from farther away: the taser glove and taser disc. It directly disrupts all bender synapses and chi, and boy does it work. That night in the Arena, and all the other times it was my proudest work to see Tenzin and Lin collapse helplessly, and so too Korra and Mako. And it causes them great pain as it works. I am equally proud of the fighter aeroplanes, aerial bombs, sea mines and torpedoes.  The Republic forces were initially helpless against them, and it was unfortunate that General Iroh II and Korra and their seemingly limitless bending power in those final battles defeated these weapons.

If the battle had continued, I was only a few weeks away from perfecting  a long range rocket that I would have launched from a secret island that would have leveled Republic City with a single bomb. It would have left the city area uninhabitable for centuries, while Amon and I ruled the Republic from another province. It would have provided the final solution to the air bender infestation too. The power of that weapon would have caused all the other nations to capitulate to the superiority of Equalism.

As blessings of the spirits would have it, I got to use the taser glove on the bender I hated the most. My wife’s killer. 

Ever since she was murdered, I learned from informants that he was an Agni Kai Gang member. So I let the word get out to the rival gangs of the underworld I would reward the person handsomely who delivered me my wife’s murderer. Well they did. And they are a lot richer and no trouble to me as a result now.

I know now how much a bender can take from my glove’s shocks without dying.  Let’s just say I didn’t then, but the man who killed my wife helped teach me. Slowly.  It was a great experiment with live subjects that I never thought about doing in school. Most people are due respect no matter what, and some are simply there to be crushed. 

There really wasn’t much left of him when I discovered what the lethal dose was. After awhile he begged me to end him.  So I obliged, but not before I made it as agonizing as possible – much like the agony he has caused me every day for 12 years.  His passing didn’t bring her back, but it did make me feel a lot better. For a little bit.

But rather than make me feel better permanently, my hate for benders in general and fire benders in particular remained. You can appreciate how much it pained me for my daughter to fall for that fire bender Mako. But characteristic for fire benders, he jilted her, a non bender, for another bender – the ultimate bender Korra - and hurt Asami terribly. I don’t know how she can stand being around any of them, especially Mako and Korra.

No one was aware of any of my secret involvement with the Equalists, until that cursed Avatar Korra and Chief Lin got nosy.  Had my turncoat daughter and those disgusting Pro Bending boys not intervened, my trap to capture and destroy Korra and her allies would have worked, and my weapons would have overwhelmed the Republic forces.

Not that it matters anyway – my daughter became a stranger to me. I don’t care what happens to her any more.  Yes I admit I tried to kill her, and that is one of many reasons I am here on Boiling Rock. She is now no better than any bender, and no longer my daughter.

So my life of promise and invention and generosity has become an existence of sabotage, lies, and betrayal here at the end - by my daughter, Avatar Korra, her friends, and even the repulsive hypocrite blood bender Amon, and his brother!  There were so many secrets within secrets.  I really should have known – each brother took a different means to the end for them – one for the side of bending superiority; the other for the supremacy of non benders. Ultimately they destroyed each other in separate paths for revenge for their father against a long dead Avatar.

It is so laughingly sad that I have come to realize neither side was right. All of it was just senseless violence, death, and destruction that my inventions wrought on one side against the other.  If only my science teacher could see me now.   He taught me chaos theory. I lived it.

All of them should spend eternity in Koh’s face collection.  It would be fitting - as every one of them were two-faced in the end.  It is ironic that I was too.

Amon and Tarrlok took the easy way out. So I sit here on Boiling Rock for the rest of my days. My daughter didn’t even let me have the dignity to die by execution - all in the name of her remaining love and compassion for me, even though she stared death in her face by my hands. She’ll never make it in business that way. Compassion is a farce.

So my unfulfilled desire for revenge in my wife’s name will take me to my grave one useless day at a time. My mind means nothing here, and no one has any intelligence to share anyway. I am back to doing useless odd jobs here in prison.

My eternity lasts here on earth, and the ultimate revenge is on me – that I am still agonizingly separated from my wife.  Funny; I wonder if she’ll even want me back when I get to the spirit world.

Wouldn’t that be the ultimate equalizer?”



You have made us proud, citizens of TVC. Congratulations on your fine submissions to our cause. May your contributions to our efforts live on through history!



--Amon a.k.a. Noatak
Administrator and leader of The "Villain" Connection.


Offline A6

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 11:41:32 AM »
It makes a multi billion yuan tycoon very proud to see so much evil abound in TVC!!! Congratulations to every villain! For ONCE the true talents of our colleagues soar above all the disgusting good guys!

--Hiroshi
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 12:27:34 PM »
Aren't competitions fascinating? Congrats, everyone! ^_^

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Fanfiction | FictionPress | Tumblr | dA

Offline Cowboy Colt

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 11:22:29 PM »
Congrats everyone! Nice entries!

keeps and quotes (click to show/hide)
 ATLA keeps: Kataang lovemaking, "MY CABBAGES " line, Aangs quiet badassness
Main theme (click to show/hide)
[
Elevation requires separation.

Be thankful for each day that you have.

Member of the league of butts-Guardian's of the Markiplier fandom.

Offline quidditchchick

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 12:25:48 AM »
Congrats to all the winners! :3

~Set by me~


Offline A6

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 01:48:49 AM »
Yuans to all the creative villain writers and artists from my billions in the bank!

Haha looks like I have to track you all down to do this! XD

--Hiroshi
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline bearboymcg

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 03:05:52 AM »
Congratulations everyone:)

Beautiful Kataang set made by my Secret Santa:D

Offline Glitch

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 03:14:20 AM »
The Boiling Rock is considering distributing some of the media here. It may help some of the mentally ill return to normal due to it's quality. Congratulations, EVERYONE!

Offline A6

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2013, 02:11:00 PM »
The Boiling Rock is considering distributing some of the media here. It may help some of the mentally ill return to normal due to it's quality. Congratulations, EVERYONE!
Given that the ultimate progression of my fic IS about my incarceration on Boiling Rock, my dear Warden, that is good to hear!

--Hiroshi
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 02:15:20 PM by A6 »
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Water Lily

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Re: Winners Announcement!
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2013, 09:25:48 PM »
Congrats everyone :)

*yuans all*


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