Zuko walked across the deck of the ship. It had been a few days since they had left Xiamen, but Zuko was still restless. The idea of having to deal with something else now really irked him.
The old man climbed up onto the ship from the small boat that had carried him out to meet them. Zuko looked the old man over. He was obviously an ex-soldier and a firebender.
"What are you doing on my ship?" Zuko said rudely.
"I've come seeking Iroh." The old man replied. His tone implied that pleasantries would have been wasted anyway.
Zuko was about to tell him to get lost when his uncle came onto the deck.
"So, Master Cho, I see you have finally found me." Iroh said dangerously.
"Yes, your long stay in Xiamen finally allowed me to catch up to you my old nemesis." Cho replied. "It's time Iroh. Show me the Blue Dragon Flame."
Zuko perked up immediately. He had heard of this attack. It was supposed to be his uncle's most powerful attack that combined airbending and firebending. Zuko looked at his uncle in anticipation.
Iroh looked on gravely at Master Cho before finally nodding. "Very well. We shall have an Agni Kai this afternoon. I must prepare myself until then."
Cho nodded with a smile and returned to his boat. Zuko followed his uncle into the ship nearly skipping with anticipation. "So you're going to prepare for your Blue Dragon Flame uncle? What type of special preparation does it take? Meditation? Prayers? Where are you going uncle?"
"To the galley." Iroh said simply.
"I thought you said you needed to go prepare yourself? What kind of preparation is that? This is no time to be eating uncle." Zuko scolded.
"On the contrary, it is just the right time. Never go into battle on an empty stomach Prince Zuko." Iroh said sagely.
Zuko sighed and went out onto the deck to await the end of his uncle's pigging out session.
The entire crew turned out for the battle with the exception of the ship's helmsman, who was stuck steering the ship. Zuko looked around with anticipation. Other firebenders were looking on in interest as well. Many had heard of General Iroh's infamous Blue Dragon Flame, but none of them had ever seen it done.
Master Cho arrived and waited impatiently for Iroh to come on deck. Zuko had to admit that he too was feeling anxious to see the fabled ultimate attack of the Dragon of the West.
Iroh finally arrived and looked determined. Zuko swelled with pride looking at his uncle. He looked grim and ready to face an army. His brow was furrowed in concentration, and Zuko could tell he was 'in the zone'.
The two old men bowed to each other and went into their fighting stances. Everyone around the ship got down in case fire caught them as well. Zuko watched, as Master Cho was the first to attack.
Iroh moved quite gracefully for a man in his later years. His years of dancing and carousing had apparently kept him at least somewhat fit. Zuko was certain he could out maneuver his uncle, but his uncle's mind could run circles around his own. The old general had tactical knowledge it would take Zuko a lifetime to master.
Zuko watched Iroh and noticed quickly that the old general wasn't returning any of his adversary's attacks. He moved, but he did not fire back. He only occasionally used his fire to parry an incoming barrage. Zuko wondered what his uncle was waiting for and surmised that the Blue Dragon attack must require magnificent amounts of control in order to use it effectively.
Master Cho pushed Iroh back slowly but surely until Iroh had his back to the rail of the ship. Cho crowed in victory as he drove forward. "Now show me your attack or DIE Iroh!"
Zuko only caught the smile that crossed the Dragon of the West's face for a brief instant before he nodded. Cho charged throwing all of his strength into a torrent of flame. Iroh merely turned his back to him and grabbed onto the rail of the ship.
Flames roared from Cho's arms and lanced toward Iroh and were answered by another roar, which issued forth from Iroh, or at least his backside.
Zuko watched as the flames coming toward Iroh were reversed into a geyser of blue flame, which caught the stunned Cho square in the chest and sending him flying a good thirty feet over the rail of the ship and into the water beneath.
Zuko could see the sweat on his uncle's face as he held onto the rail of the ship for dear life as the blue flame superheated the metal of the hull. On the bridge, the helmsman looked on in wonder until the wheel suddenly spun as the rudder was pushed to one side, altering their course and sending the navigator flying into the far wall.
Finally, the blue flame mercifully subsided having melted part of the rail and incinerating the back of his uncle's trousers. Iroh stood there in shock with the rest of the crew. Two sea gulls fell lifelessly to the deck.
The smell that then struck the prince brought tears to his one good eye. It took all of Zuko's self control to keep his lunch down. Other crewmembers weren't as lucky. Finally, the crew broke and ran for the side of the ship, not letting little things like the ship's railing or an inability to swim stop them from hurling themselves like lemmings into the welcoming arms of the ocean.
Zuko coughed and tried to keep from passing out. He walked over to his uncle who was panting heavily. "I though… you told me… firebending… comes from… the breath… uncle." Zuko managed to gasp before his world went dark and he welcomed sweet unconsciousness.