Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: the Last Airbender; otherwise you'd be seeing these stories on Nick. I am also not sure of the name of Zuko's sister. One of the TV episode web sites had it listed as Azula, but around here she has been referred to as Zula. Oh well, if I'm wrong just over look me. Special thanks to Vicki So for her fantastic job at beta reading.
Blue Spirit Blues
"Please, Uncle!" Zuko begged. He hated trying to do things this way, but threatening and cajoling had thus far failed so the young fire prince was pretty much stuck with abject pleading. "You MUST show me the 'Blue Dragon Flame'. It could mean the difference between catching the Avatar or having him escape again."
"No, Zuko." Iroh adamantly refused. "The Blue Dragon Flame will not help you catch the Avatar."
Zuko growled. A few days ago he had managed to commandeer a new ship from the remnants of the North Pole invasion fleet. The captain had been an old friend of Iroh's who had been getting ready to retire and had been more than willing to be 'subdued' and have his ship taken over by the Dragon of the West. They had stayed up late into the night drinking; Zuko had been obliged to attend, and the old friends had talked of their old exploits together. The old captain had recounted the awesomely powerful Blue Dragon Flame attack that Iroh had apparently mastered, which was rumored to combine the powers of airbending and firebending into a devastating attack.
Since that day, Zuko had not ceased to pester his uncle for the knowledge he had never let him know he possessed.
Today being no different, the two of them walked toward the bow of the ship. The ship had put into port yesterday afternoon and they were going to be taking on supplies today. Once completed, they would set sail for the North Pole once again to await the Avatar's departure. The waiting was driving Zuko insane.
Zuko sulked, trying to think of another way to coerce his uncle into teaching him. He would have probably tried just about anything.
Zuko stopped when he realized his uncle was not walking anymore. He looked back at the haunted face of the general as he stared out in front of him. Zuko turned to see Fire Nation soldiers surrounding the crew.
"What is the meaning of this?" Zuko demanded.
"Oh, nothing much big brother." A familiar female voice said behind him. "We're just going to arrest uncle for treason."
Zuko turned to face his sister Azula. She stood there smugly with her arms crossed as the soldiers surrounded himself and his uncle.
The trip back to the Fire Nation port of Xiamen had been a short one. Zuko had spent his time in the brig with his uncle. While he was not technically under arrest, he was still a banished prince, which meant his sister could pretty much do whatever she pleased with him.
Iroh was bound once the ship landed and the two of them were escorted off the ship under heavy guard. Azula looked pleased with her catch as she brought them to the commander of the port.
"Princess Azula, an honor to have you among us." The commander said with a smile that didn't touch his eyes. Apparently he really DID know Azula. Zuko smirked.
"Thank you commander. I want you to have the royal inquisitor sent for as well as the royal executioner. My uncle has been convicted of treason and is to be executed in front of witnesses." Azula said imperiously.
"WHAT?" Zuko screamed. "You mean you're not even going to have a trial? Uncle has been a proud soldier of our nation for longer than the two of us combined have been alive…"
The blow that struck Zuko sent him to his knees. He looked up through the pain at his sister's smiling face. The port commander looked stunned. Azula merely nodded her thanks to the guard that had struck him. "It would appear my brother might be joining him as well." Azula sneered as she knelt down in front of Zuko.
"If you insist, we'll be nice enough to wait and execute uncle Iroh right next to you. His trial was concluded before I left the capital. Father signed his death warrant and gave it to me. You, however have yet to be tried. I didn't receive these letters from Admiral Zhao until after I had left. They say he suspects you of having helped the Avatar instead of hunting for him." Azula said smiling.
"That's absurd." Zuko shot back.
The second blow came as a kick to Zuko's stomach. The force brought him down onto his hands. Zuko coughed uncontrollably as he looked down at his wrists. He noticed the ivory bracelet that Katara had given him and tried to take reassurance from it. He looked up at his sister's guards and growled.
"I don't know if 'absurd' is the word I would use, brother. You apparently knew the Avatar had returned before anyone else, and yet had not bothered to share that information. Both you and uncle actively undermined Zhao's efforts to capture the Avatar, and reports from the survivors at the North Pole place you in combat with Admiral Zhao just before his disappearance. You also seem to have been spared by the Avatar during the battle, while other soldiers perished." Azula said menacingly. Zuko's stomach was starting to feel worse and it wasn't from the kick.
"There was also an interesting message from Zhao concerning this 'Blue Spirit'; who saved the Avatar not once, but twice from his custody. Apparently, your ship was spotted close by both times the Blue Spirit appeared. Zhao had his suspicions when he saw a pair of distinctive broadswords the Blue Spirit had been seen using hanging on the wall of your old ship. When he questioned you about them, you said that you didn't know how to use them. Brother, I KNOW you are an expert in the use of the broadsword. And now, I have proof you have been helping the Avatar." Azula said smugly.
Azula reached down and revealed the bracelet partially covered by Zuko's sleeve. "These bracelets have been circulating through the Earth Kingdom for some time now. It seems some Water Tribe boy carved a few of them and they came to the attention of King Bumi. They are all the rage now among earthbenders and waterbenders who believe in the Avatar. Amazing that you would have one."
"It was a birthday present." Zuko growled.
"From dear sweet uncle Iroh no doubt, a known criminal charged with treason. Your future isn't looking very good, brother. Whereas with you out of the way, mine is looking brighter and brighter." Azula said smiling.
Zuko stopped himself from retorting. The truth of where the bracelet had come from would be more damaging than the story Azula already believed. Iroh had apparently come to this same conclusion.
"I did not know the bracelet's significance when I gave it to him." Iroh lied.
Zuko looked up at his uncle as he stared straight forward. He had the impassive look of chiseled stone. Zuko's heart ached to see how much his uncle cared for him, that he would try to protect him even now, like he would his own son.
"Very well, uncle." Azula said happily. "We'll see then. We can avoid this entire trial. Zuko if you will destroy that bracelet, I will consider the matter concluded and you can return to living in exile. You can get onboard that ship and can go live someplace for the rest of your days while I look for the Avatar. Iroh will no longer be any of your concern. However, if you refuse, you will be tried for treason and executed alongside him. So will you destroy the bracelet?"
Everyone was looking at Zuko as he stared at the smooth surface of the bracelet. It was smooth like her skin. Incinerating the bracelet would be like burning her, and Zuko now realized it would be like burning part of himself. He never imagined the simple ivory bracelet could carry any more significance than it already did for him. He looked up into the face of his doom and smiled coldly at his sister.