Conversations With Azula

Author's Note: Diary of a Madman: Memoirs of a Nukenin has been temporarily suspended while I figure out exactly what literary route to take. I know where I want it to go, it's just the 'how' is eluding me at present. Just purchased the 3rd and final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and I loved it, though I'm surprised that they didn't expand it to four seasons (one for each element), but then, Aang is already an Air Master...still. Left a few things unresolved, and raised up more questions. But hey! There's a live-action movie planned for release in 2010...wow. I just wrote 2010 without a single sci-fi reference. I'm living in the fucking FUTURE! How cool is that?

Her hair was matted and unkempt, greasy and torn from years of neglect, and her skin no longer glowed. It had been beautiful, once; she remembered that quite clearly. It had been beautiful, and she had been beautiful. Desirable. Sexy, even. And oh, so very powerful. Respected, honored, feared. Feared, fearedfearedfeared! The most powerful woman in the world!

Her teeth were bared in a deadly scowl. An itch tormented her left forearm, but she ignored it as best she could. It was just one of numerous sores beginning to develop.

Years of living without seeing the sun would do things like that to a person.

She couldn't scratch it, anyway – she hadn't even seen her hands since the day that Water Tribe bitch had chained them behind her back. Worse had been when her own brother - treacherous pig! - had had enough of her 'acting up', as he so delicately put it, and had used that little shit from those fucking Air Nomads to block up her ability to touch the Fire.

But she was strong, even with his perverse desecration of her RIGHT to conquer through Fire! He wouldn't kill her – more fool he – so he'd ordered her arms bound behind her back. Forever.

Her head jerked up suddenly. Footsteps. She heard everything around her – the years of silence made any noise infinitely loud. She knew it was for her, because she was the only one in this area of the prison. Father had been put somewhere else. Phoenix King, hah! Only smart thing he'd done had been to proclaim her Fire Lord, before he'd been annihilated by that stupid bald brat.

As she predicted, the footsteps halted outside her cell door. With an almost painful squeal, the door swung open, and light blinded her. She refused to close her eyes, and tears of pain gathered in the corners of her eyes as a figure drew closer to the bars of the secondary cage. She knew who it was.

"Why, hello Zu-zu," she said, grinning maliciously. "Or maybe I should call you Fire Lord Zu-zu?" Her brother sighed in exasperation.

"You're looking...unwell, Azula," he said, his roughwhisper voice sounding impossibly loud. Azula cackled.

"Well, you should have let me know you were coming, dear brother. I'd have had my handmaidens primp me up a bit. It's been simply ages since I had my nails done." Her voice turned harsh. "What do you want?" Her eyes had adjusted to the vicious glare of newlight, and she could see him now.

He looked good. Strong, tall. Handsome even. Not a single hint of a beard, though. He probably shaved, she decided. His hair was much longer than she remembered, though she couldn't tell how far it fell.

Zuko shrugged. "You are my sister," he said plainly, "so I figured you ought to know-"

"Know what?" Azula snapped. Zuko didn't flinch; he'd changed an awful lot. He used to cringe when she used that tone.

"That you're an aunt. Mei gave birth to twins a week ago. Two girls. Chu Li and Su Li."

Azula's lips twisted into a manic grin as she got to her feet and pushed her face against the bars. "How sweet! So you've got two through the bitch, hmm? Then why'd you come here? Did you want one with your sister? One with royal blood?" As Zuko recoiled, she pressed her breasts through the bars. "It's been so long; I wouldn't say no."

Zuko's brow furrowed in revulsion. "You're sick, Azula."

Azula burst into cackling laughter. "No," she countered, smirking, "just very horny!" Her face lost it's false humor. "Fuck me or leave. Better yet, fuck me and I'll leave."

"You're still insane; can't say I'm surprised," the Fire Lord sighed. "I came as a courtesy, to tell you what's been going on in the world."

Azula flopped down on her thin mattress and shrugged as she faced away from him. "Fine; torture the poor, defenseless convict with tales of a world she'll never see again." Hidden from him, she grinned viciously. "You make me so proud; it's a pity you didn't develop this kind of macabre humor ages ago."

Zuko ignored the jab. "Ba Sing Se is rebuilt from your assault," he said. "Well, mostly. I've sent three thousand men and one hundred thousand gold pieces to aid in the rebuilding. It'll be done in two years at the latest. The Dai Li have been executed almost to a man, and abolished as an accepted group. Uncle Airo spend most of his time there. He's running tea-shops, now, and chess parlors." Zuko smiled. "He's quite famous there, you know. He did lead the assault retaking of the city."

Azula snorted. "Why am I not surprised? There never was much substance to the senile old fool besides his precious teas."

"He's also married again."

Azula's eyes widened in shock. "That fat old fool? Don't tell me he married an Earth Kingdom bitch, or he's sunk lower than I thought."

Zuko shook his head. "No, he married a Fire Nation Soldier by the name of Ming." Azula shot up.

"A soldier? What kind of soldier would have a traitor for her husband?"

The Fire Lord smiled thinly. "A very lovely, very strong thirty-five-year-old soldier. Who, ironically, had been very kind to him when he was imprisoned." He paused. "They're expecting."

"Traitors and traitors mix to breed traitors," Azula spat. "Of course."

"The Northern Water Tribes demanded that I turn General Zhao over to them for the death of The Water Lord's daughter, and I did so." Zuko looked away. "They made him suffer greatly for his crimes before they allowed him to die."

Azula chuckled and rolled over, her amber eyes blazing. "Oh, stop. You're going to make me actually start liking those peasants! Ah, we have so much in common."

"Zhao was a war criminal, and executed in a manner deserving of his crimes for the sake of justice," Zuko said sternly, his eyes narrowing. "You're just twisted." Azula let out a single barking laugh.

"Whatever."

"Inside the Fire Nation, I ordered all war machine factories destroyed, and all knowledge of their manufacture illegal to distribute. It may take a few decades, but we will make sure they are forgotten forever." Azula scowled. "I've also stricken father's name from Fire Nation History, along with Grandfather's and Sozin...and you."

"Hmph. When I get out, things are going to have to change quite a bit," Azula snarled.

"You're not getting out," Zuko countered sternly. "It was a kindness that I didn't have you executed, but you will die. You'll die here, alone and forgotten, surrounded by the madness and evil that you seemed to revel in so much."

"Very poetic, brother dear," Azula drawled. "Now finish telling me about the changes your pathetic regime has enacted so that I can think on how to fix it when I escape and conquer all as the Phoenix Queen."

Zuko rolled his eyes. "Very well. Aang – the Avatar – and Katara, who was the woman who defeated you -"

"Bitch!"

"I see you remember her," Zuko said in amusement, to which Azula replied with wordless snarls. "They're engaged, and will be married in the Southern Water Tribe later this year. The Avatar has been reviving Air Bending as well."

"Great-grandpa Sozin destroyed all but that little bastard Avatar a hundred years ago! It'll be but a generation before they're all gone and the Avatar cycle broken forever!"

Zuko smiled mirthlessly. "As the Avatar took away the Fire from you and father, so he's given Air to many who desired it. It will take time, but eventually there will be four Nations once again. Four distinct nations, free from interference from the others."

"Lovely," Azula growled. "I'll strike all mention of you and your filthy brood from all history when I make this world a world of Fire! I'll cut you down like I did before, and then I'll do it to your filthy whore of a wife, and your children bit by bit by bit by bit!"

Zuko narrowed his eyes. "There's an old saying: 'Never tickle a sleeping dragon', Azula." His right hand became encased in a fierce purple flame. "And it's not much wiser to anger a man who has been trained by one. You do not have leave to threaten my family."

"Please, I'm just your sweet little sister," Azula said mockingly. "I can't harm you; surely you wouldn't torture your own sister?"

The flame disappeared instantly, and Azula's grin widened. A grin that was wiped off of her face at her brother's next words.

"You know, this is an empty cell. No prisoner in it at all," Zuko said calmly. "And looking over the prison records, for some reason the entire prison has got it into their heads that there's a prisoner locked up in here. Well, having seen for myself that it's not true, I certainly won't allow the foolish waste of food and water that's been going on here."

"What!"

As if he couldn't hear her, Zuko mused, "After all, there's no point in providing food and water to an empty cell." He shrugged. "Oh, well. I guess I'll have to rectify that mistake with the Warden at once." He turned and walked out the door.

"Zuko! ZUKO!"

The door slammed, and Fire Lord Zuko's face hardened. He turned and looked through the grate of the cell door, amber eyes meeting amber eyes.

"How curious!" Zuko exclaimed coldly. "There is a draft in here, and the wind almost seems to be calling my name. How very curious, indeed!"

With that, he spun on his heel and closed his ears to the cries from the empty cell, his steps echoing as he headed back towards the world of light above.

"ZUKOOOOO!"

'Very strange', he thought fiercely. 'But it's just the wind from an empty cell.'