I came up with this idea a while back when I was at school though after really looking into the possibilities and timeline stuff I had to rework bits and pieces.
I know the concept's been done before but I 'd pondered on a less heroic version and this is probably one of the more, well I suppose you might call it 'dark' things I've ever written.
The title is based off Wilfred Owen's poem about WWI Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori which means "it is sweet and fitting to die for your country".
I'm still working hard on some other fics (ie. Ad augusta per angusta) but I'm kinda in a slump with the writing and I need to get with Olynthus about some of the chapters I have finished.
I don't own avatar, if I did I don't think it would be rated Y7 because I'm just not a good censorbender.
Anyway I'll shut up now with my rambling, please review.
Ever since my earliest school days I remember hearing people say, "It's sweet and fitting to die for your country." Like most kids back then I never really understood what that meant let along why I would have to die for my country, the state of the world was settled for all I knew. Adults talked about war, saying it was going to better the world if the Fire Nation could spread the current prosperity around the world. My father said it was a farce but only when he was at home. I had once repeated him in public and was promptly scolded as soon as we were out of earshot of others.
He told me that some things were best kept in the privacy of one's own home and certain opinions shouldn't be freely voiced.
At school we were taught to love our nation, Fire Lord, family and significant others in that exact order, anything else should be meaningless. It was a strange time for a child of Fire to have befriended an Air Nomad but in the eyes of a child it didn't mean anything. There was an age gap of three years and a few months, but I was immature for a fifteen year old. We always managed to get into some kind of trouble tougher, usually he and I would share the blame even if had been solely my fault or his. Sometimes I wondered whatever happened to him, he used to come around about four times a year but it had been nearly eight months since his last visit. It was around that time that I was starting to realize fully what the war really was, especially after the attack on the air temples. The Airbenders were our enemies, and the Waterbenders and the Earthbenders; it was us against the world. So maybe I was a little immature but I'd be growing up soon enough.
To this day I don't even know why I would willingly choose to join the military, I mean sure I could play fight but I'd never in my life seriously fought a person, a battle field definitely was no place for me, but I wasn't going to a battle field. I was put on a task force to hunt down and get rid of the last Airbenders still hiding out in the world. Afiko, a traitor to his people was giving us the information and access to where small groups would be hiding out. Sometimes the groups were women and children, sometimes a few men but mostly it was always packs of kids. I did what I was ordered to do, the dirty, disgusting dishonorable things. I did it and they all called me a hero, said my honor was immeasurable. What a sad delusion, which even my own parents had seemed to fall into it. All the young Fire Nation women seemed to love me, I could easily have the best pick of whichever woman to bear my children but I had my sights set a different and considerably wrong way.
It was during my first tour of service that I met her, before I started to hate myself. Our ship had collided with her father's trading vessel. They were from the Northern Water Tribe headed to Ba-Sing-se. The damage to their ship was so severe it was feared they wouldn't make the rest of their trip so the captain of mine allowed them to ride along with us to the Earth Kingdom territories, and some of their goods were salvaged to come along as well. My captain's explanation for this was that he was supposed to keep good commerce between the other nations so as to better complete our task. The tension in the air of the ship was noticeable, if the Water Tribe people had thought it possible for them to go their journey alone they wouldn't have taken us up on the offer.
She was too young to notice, and so was I. Her name was Liang, and at thirteen she was four years younger than myself, we only really spoke once. A little Waterbender trained to use her ability for healing. Her father didn't seem to want her to have anything to do with me, so after our little meeting I was only lucky enough to get a glance here and a wave there. My crew members would make jokes and say I was such a dog, not only going for someone younger but going for a little 'water action' as they called it.
I knew I'd never see her again but even a year later after all I'd been through I couldn't get her out of my mind.
Even a year after putting myself into a material marriage, she came in my dreams on the nights when the memories of what I had done to so many Airbenders gave me some fleeting peace and didn't weigh so much on my conscious. It was until some years later, two children and many sleepless nights, during what was to be the final battle of my military career, I would retire after it. An attack on the Northern water tribe, and it was there that I cracked and finally turned against my people.
I'm not sure if my ideals had finally caught up to me or if merely the sight of her had set me off. Age had been so kind to Liang, she had to be in her early thirties by then, she still resembled the thirteen year old I had met so long ago yet it was obvious that she'd grown into a beautiful woman. She was pulling a child alongside her running from the onslaught, and that when I turned my fire on my comrades. I yelled out her name curious to if she would recognize me as well. She glanced back for a second making eye contact with me, she'd grown, she wasn't the same wide eyed child I'd met, she feared and loathed my kind now. I wasn't fighting for much longer until a Waterbender's attack hit me. I woke up in prison, and was ordered to give up my uniform; it was a month later that I was sentenced to death none of the Water Tribe would believe I was a Fire Nation deserter.
As for Liang, the queen sat beside her husband the tribe leader to watch my execution, I knew then she remembered me, I even read her lips as she mouthed my name "Kuzon" but she did not seem to care about my wretched fate. I realized while staring at her right before I ceased to breathe that this was the fate I'd met and deserved. Though it would atone for nothing I'd done, and in the end all it would be was more bloodshed and I knew my place in the spirit world wouldn't be a peaceful one. What was I dying for? My country that I had deserted, a fleeting love, atonement for my wrong doing, an attempt to make things right all too late in life? Who was to say, but whatever I was dying for, it was anything but sweet and fitting.
I'd read really good fanfictions some time ago where Kuzon played a more heroic role so I decided I didn't want mine to go in that direction. My initial idea was have him be in one of the leading attacks on the air temples and basically lose it and jump off the cliff committing suicide but after a look at the time line I didn't think it would work and I liked pushing it this way better.
But this does kind a seem a bit dark as far as my typical style goes, I usually go for the good endings with at least SOME people comming out of it happy but it's kind of nice to try something new.
Anyway feedback is appreciated, this is probably riddled with errors I haven't managed to catch but hopefully there aren't big issues with the plot.