Ziggy's Corner: Chapter 21 by my count. I hate having my notes on two small yellow pages, but on the same side, even if they had been on large paper, they'd have gotten lost at this rate. This chapter is a divided one, between Azula and Katara, and Zuko's mindframe.
Azula approached Katara, her golden eyes burning with bloodlust and desire for revenge. This was the girl who had sliced her hair… who had dared to touch her better. Her nose winkled painfully at the stench of sweat and blood, and at the same time, it excited her. "I do wish I had been here before Zhao had the chance to talk to you."
Katara looked up at the evil young woman, her eyes focused at her face. There was nothing prim and proper about it, or her demeanor for that matter. Half of her face was hid by a mask, though it could not hide some of the slivers of her scars. Watching Azula slink toward her was as if she was watching a wild animal approach its prey. "I bet you do," Katara snapped. "It must be infuriating that a lowly admiral could beat you to the prize."
"Shut your mouth, you lowly peasant," Azula snapped, her eyes bulding to the size of plates. Her body shook, her fingers twited as she studied the other girl. "You think you have the right to speak to your master like that?"
"Last I had heard, it was Zhao who'd bought me, not you," Katara quipped, narrowing her blue eyes. Her body groaned with effort to keep her head up, to stare at the other young woman in the face. Zhao's abuse had left her broken… but he hadn't destroyed her completely. She could only thank the moon spirit that he'd been pulled away before he could continue to pollute her mind with his distorted ideas about her mother. "So you are no master to me."
Azula stood motionless for a moment, gritting her teeth. Then with the swipe of a perfectly pedicured hand, clawed Katara across her face. She watched the Water Tribe girl's neck twist as her head batted to the left, and cocked her head, her body calming down. "I have no interest in using you as he did," she said, her voice cold and demanding. Katara looked up, and noticed that her eye color had changed. Her eyes were no longer predatory gold, but a more dead and mechanical silver gray, with a few veins flaring around them.
"You are nothing to me," Azula said, methodly walking around the room. Her shoes clacked on the ground, making Katara whince with each step… it was if someone was clawing a chalkboard. "None of you are important to me." She stopped and stared out the window. "Do you think I don't know why father sent me here?" she smiled and allowed herself to laugh. "Because he didn't trust me. He wanted to make sure I was out of the way."
"Some father," Katara snarled. "Sounds like he deserves to win the provider of the year award to me."
"He wanted me out of the way," Azula continued, oblivious to the other girl in the room, "because he feared my power." Her fingers flexed… her skin burning with a fire that made her feel invincible. This is close to what great grandfather felt when the comet came. "But he should have never sent me here," she hissed with an animalistic growl in her throat. "I've discovered something… something people have long since forgotten." She began pacing again, her eyes again gold as the flames turned cold. "Something I have touched, but can not hold." Her head snapped to look at the other girl, her face twisted in anger and frustration.
"Do you know what its like to hold such supreme power, and not understand how to make it come to you at beck and command?" she thrust her self at Katara, striking at the other girl with her fists and nails. "You have no right to be in the same room with me, to even look at me!" Tears ran down her cheeks as she continued her assault, her blows breaking skin and bringing out more blood. Her breathe was labored, and finally after a few minutes Azula dropped to her knees, gasping for air, her eyes full of hate.
Katara lay on her side, her ribs flaming. Her face was full of blood and tears. She's insane, a monster. She wanted to try to reason or even further speak out in defiance, but her throat screamed as she swallowed and wept. She knew there was no reason to even try and speak. How am I going to survive this? This isn't an interrogation… its an exicution!
"Prince Zuko, I hirely recommend you return to your quarters," Iroh snapped. He stormed through the rebel corridor, trying to keep pace with his young relative. "This is suicide, you're not strong enough to go after Jet."
"Then I'll find Zhao and make him return Katara," Zuko growled, his own golden eyes burning with a fierce determination. He was dressed in the dark green and soft yellow of the Earth Kingdom. A silver stripe on his shoulder showed people he had some influence in the rebel movement, something he reluctantly accepted from General Adam. "Even if I have to rip out his throat to do it." He continued to march down the corridor, stopping as a stab of pain in his ribs forced him to grimace, and slump to a gray wall.
"And how do you expect to fight someone like Zhao with an inury like that," his uncle shouted. "Of all the fire headed things you've done, this is the most stupid!"
"I will not allow people to fight my battles for me," Zuko shouted back, his eyes turning dark. "I won't hide from my responcibilities, or my destiny."
"So your destiny is to get yourself killed in a vain attempt to save the girl, is it?" Iroh had long considered himself a patient, and forgiving man. But that was pushing him to the breaking point. "You will throw away your life for nothing! That is what you call destiny?" his voice rose and echoed along the corridor, causing a few people who were walking in it to stop and look. One attendant tried to approach, to see what was going on, but Iroh turned his gaze on the young man, and made him retreat so fast it was as if he had never even been there at all.
Iroh's white bearded face etched with vexation, and he narrowed his eyes. "What you need to do is rest, and get better. Once you are healed, with your new friends by your side, then you can save Katara."
Zuko slumped his head against the wall, watching the old man, but saying nothing. He knew what Iroh was saying was true, but he had so much to make up for. All the ill he had done in trying to choice a destiny that would better only one man, and that man was not even himself! He'd been a puppet, and so desperate to have his father's understanding, he'd allowed the strings to be pulled. "I have to do this, I have to regain my honor," he whimpered. He saw his uncle glare and open his mouth, and rose a hand…, "Not the honor and destiny I once believed in, but the one that reads where I do my part to save everything… not just the Fire Nation."
"And there is only one way to do that," Iroh said, his anger burning away.
"I know what you are going to say, but stop and think. There is something wrong in these islands. You have heard the general, and you've heard the avat…, you've heard Aang. There's a darkness erupting here that needs everyone to stop."
"You can't stop that darkness by yourself, and certainly not in a weakened state," Iroh said, his anger snuffed, but his determination growing. "If you choice this road, if you go this path, I have no doubt you will come face to face with this evil. But if that happens, you will end up being swallowed up by it."
Zuko was caught in thought. "You aren't my father, you can't stop me from doing what I have to."
Iroh's shoulder's slumped, and he looked away. He knew his nephew was correct. Especially not in a corridor like this. It would be odd if he were to try and attack someone who had risen so quickly in ranks in the rebel forces for leaving. "At least do not do this alone."
"He won't have to," General Adam said, coming up. The general didn't like the lose of the prince any more than his uncle did. But things could not be helped. "I want to dispatch a small brigade… and I want you two to lead it." He stopped and crossed his arms. "And I want you to take the avatar with you."
Zuko frowned, straining to get up. "Why Aang? Don't you need him here?"
"My men are more confident with Sokka at the wheel now that we've struck a few victories. And I'm confidant of the young man's leadership ability." He looked away and turned back as a group walked passed them. "More importantly, we've heard that there is a change in tactics from the enemy. Zhao was apparently ordered to leave for a different island. Only Azula is left here now."
"You are hoping in ending the fight by capturing the most powerful piece of the game," Iroh surmised.
"Something like that. I don't doubt that Zhoa kept your friend in the same prison area here on this island. So capturing the princess, and rescuing your friend at the same time should be a proper motivator."
"Isn't Jet still on the island?" Zuko growled.
"Yes… that's another reason I wanted Sokka to lead the men who remain here," General Adam said. "He has the most experience with that boy than anyone here, save for the avatar. And we need him to focus on the princess." He turned to the prince. "You want to do this, then this will be your one and only chance. Otherwise I can have you put into solitary confimenment until your injuries completely heal on the basis that your refused to obey a senior officer."
Zuko turned his eyes away from the older man. He didn't know who he was talking to, he didn't know what Zuko was capable of. But then again, there was his uncle. I wouldn't put it past Uncle Iroh to have told him what I can do and be like. Iroh's eyes told him everything he needed to know. "Alright, I agree."
Azula gained control of her senses, running her hands through her hair and glaring at Katara. "Now you see my dilema," she barked. "I possess a power of ancient years… but I can not control it."
"What a shame, perhaps you need lessons," she croaked, forcing herself to ignore the pain.
"I need my focus, my hared." Her eyes dimmed and turned silver for a moment, then flashed back to normal, and she scowled with frustration. "I don't give a damn if the avatar comes for you or not… you water peasent. What I do hope however is that Zuzu comes."
"Zuzu?" Katara's head pounded as she pushed herself to her knees. "You're brother. You mean Zuko. But why him?"
"You mean its not obvious… you can't tell?" her voice snapped bitterly. Azula rose to her full, proper height, and reached up for her mask, pulling it away from her face. There was a watery sloshing sound as it pealed away, as if it was trying to stay united with the girl. The evil that was within Azula could be plainly seen in her face, which at one time had been so acclaimed for its beauty.
Her one eye was much larger than the other, the flesh burned away from the orb. Her skin was brown and gray, with flecks of pink skin here and there. "He did this…," she growled. She saw horror, horror that she had never seen on the face of her victims before she had been scarred. There was a devilish glee that filled her body. "I want revenge, that is what is the secret to the power." She narrowed her eyes, and approached Katara, picking her up by her hair. "You have the hint of his stench on him, you and he are connected in more ways than one."
Katara felt her body go limp, and the darkness began to take her. No, you can't do this, Katara. If you pass out now, then there'll be nothing left! I won't die here, at the claws of this maniac! She searched inward, feeling a light she hadn't known was there.
Katara found herself in a long tunnel, guided by the light. She walked toward the beam of golden and silver rays, at speeds that didn't seem human, let alone mortal. Walls of silver and diamond hugged on her on both sides, and seemed to stand guard as she passed, almost saluting her as a lower soldier would a long awaited officer. "Where am I?" She spoke the words, but they didn't come from her mouth.
"It is not important, sweetie," a very familiar, warm and comforting voice echoed in her head. Katara turned, and found herself in the center of a room so massive that it looked like it could fit the world five times over within its borders. Katara found her eyes grow wide with shock. Kya looked at her daughter proudly, "Hello Katara. What kept you?"
Ziggy's Zone: First off, let no one assume I will bow to the will of a flamer, this story will continue until the very end! And with only ten chapters remaining, that will sooner or later come. The scene has been set, the characters have begun to gather, and soon, all hell is going to break loose… next chapter, we'll find out just what Zhao's true aims are, and boy are they far worse than what the comet promises!