Disclaimer: I do not own the intellectual properties depicted herein. I do not own the characters portrayed. I make no claim to own any part of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'. All intellectual properties depicted herein belong to the creators of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender.' And Nickelodeon
Tales from the Fire Nation.
Training Day 2
Before World Tour…
Summer time and livin' is easy. Well as easy as it can get during the hottest season of the year and you just so happen to room and board with the world's foremost family of pyromaniacs….
Katara yelped as the air around her became spontaneously charged with static, frizzing her hair and causing her to drop her ink and brush utterly ruining her painstakingly penned Inter-national Water Tribe-Fire Nation Trade bill. This was her first official act as Ambassador to the Fire Nation and it was ruined. Her first assignment which she poured countless nights into was completely mucked up. Her first thought was to stick her head out the window and hurl vile curses upon the offending party or parties.
"Hold still and FRY!"
That idea was dashed by a wayward streak of lighting just narrowly missing her window by way of mere inches just as she moved to push it open. A couple of explosions punctuated the previous statement.
"Oh yeah…" Mumbled the Water Bender noting the noon sun beating down mercilessly. She sighed trying to fix the inky mess splattered across the table and her dress bearing in mind that she was living in a world of opposites. Where up was down, black was white and that when the sun is out the Fire Benders will prey…
On each other.
The sizzle and stench of static and ozone told the tale of yet another whiffed lighting strike by the Princess of Pain and Punishment. Katara rolled her eyes and spoke to the ceiling as if the grandiosely decorated housing feature would answer her oft repeated question,
"Why? Why did I take this job?"
A coarse feminine voice broke her train of navel…err…ceiling gazing.
"What do you think you're doing Azula?! Stopping being a one-trick Ostrich-Pony! And Zuko! Stop running like a Leopard-Wolf cub with your tails between your legs and FIGHT BACK!"
Katara had to admit, it was jarring to view Lady Ursa in the role of Drill Sergeant Nasty. It was an unexpected side to the usually placid and loving matriarch of the Royal House of Fire. But not completely out of the question as the ever progressive Fire Nation was a nation of warriors ever since time in memorial.
Mandatory military service for males started at the age of eighteen. Thirteen if one was born a Fire Bender. Individuals then mustered out and placed in the reserves after the requisite three year service. If you were born a Royal the army was your second home. Women were no obligated to serve but were encouraged to do so. In any case martial training began the moment the individual was strong enough to throw a punch. Just about every citizen knew some form of self defense be it armed or unarmed, bender or not.
A sharp contrast to the Water Tribes. Though the South had the benefit of having both her and Suki, with her crew paying periodic visits, to help change the perceived norm of women only belonging in the kitchens. With Suki it was quite literal. The girl could burn water.
The North? Ehhh…not so much. Not since Master Pakku moved to the South and brought most of his like minded New Age students with him.
Katara felt another static shift in the air. And a big one at that. Made her skin crawl and prickle. She made a note not to touch any metal objects till the proverbial storm had passed with the sound of a thousand cracking bullwhips following a flash of energy that seemed to turn the clear sky dark coupled with a thunderous roar.
Without thinking Katara headed for the door and reached for her ever present water skin, part of her just knowing someone, meaning Zuko, was going to need some attentive healing, meaning a lecture on why sensible people do not stand in front of lightning strikes. To her surprise as she descended the stairs and finally caught a good look at what had transpired in the training yard. The ground was scorched and looked as if Toph had gone on an earth ripping rampage.
Her attention was then brought to her right where Azula stood hunched over and thoroughly spent. Panting and sweating due to over exertion. But despite her bedraggled form the Princess could still manage a devilish smirk knowing that she'd once again beaten her brother.
Or did she?
To everyone, save Ursa's, surprise, the prince was still standing with a smoking arm and palm outstretched when the dust settled. Standing but in visible pain. The prince hadn't re-directed his sister's attack. He'd blocked it.
"What? Are you insane? You were supposed to…" Azula didn't finish her sentence; she got back into her attack stance upon seeing her brother do the same. Katara couldn't help but note that even after all these years, Zuko could never successfully generate lighting. Which was supposed to be the next level of the Fire Bending arts. No, he instead chose to refine what he already knew. And as the ground would show evident, with devastating effect.
Ursa's call to begin started the next round of sparring. Usually the siblings would face off against their Uncle in turn. However Firelord by proxy was off somewhere, probably devising a plan to get his nephew to finally assume the throne. Occasionally their mother would take one of them in hand and proceed thoroughly wipe the floor. She was Avatar Roku's grand daughter after all. Even if Ursa hadn't been able to see her grandfather alive, his power clearly flowed in her veins. The reason for her able to best her children in combat? Unpredictability. Years living in exile in the Earth Kingdom led her to mix both fighting styles, switching between them on the fly and using physical attacks as opposed to bending on occasion.
Katara had to chuckle remembering a particular session where Zuko caught the business end of his mother's high kick to the jaw sending him spiraling down for the count.
As to why she'd rarely displayed such prowess?
Or rather obfuscating royal position. As Queen of the nation it would not do for her to be seen in such a violent light by the general public. Plus, back in the day her family had gone to great lengths to hide their blood relation to Roku in fear of further attacks from the House of Sozin.
Kaatar winced as the two Fire siblings clocked each other across the jaws simultaneously. It was such a comedic cliché. Azula recovered first, crouching down in a leg split before sweeping both legs across in a wide arc in hopes of tripping her brother. He countered by kicking her shins as they swung, hard enough to stop her, and obviously not enough to break the bone. After all he was her big brother.
Gritting her teeth, Azula rolled back along the ground, in case Zuko decided to follow up on the opening he'd made. In which he did, by kicking an arc of fire just over the space she'd been in not two seconds ago. It was a risky move with the kick's momentum causing him to expose his back for a brief moment. But a brief moment was more than enough for Azula. Hand springing from her crouched roll, she launched herself legs first at him in flaming scissor kick. Unable to defend him self adequately, Zuko bore the brunt of her left foot to the middle of his shoulder blades while rolling with the force of the blow, letting it swing him around and catch her in the midsection with a heel kick to the ribs.
Katara mentally kept score of how many wounds she'd have to heal. Though after their sparring sessions, the Royal family would typically patch themselves up barring any severe bone breaks. Thankfully none were intentionally made and most were self inflicted. Such as Azula breaking her arm in botched attack from a previous session. And let me tell you the Princess was none to happy to be getting treatment from the Water Bender. Sure she was a little thankful that she kept the use of her arm, but it irked her that she was getting aid from the woman who unknowingly danced the flirty fandango with her equally dense brother on a daily basis.
Brining her focus back to the fight, Katara watched as both fighters broke off and began to edge in circles around each other. She swore she could hear the creaking of bones as Zuko rolled his shoulders easing out the kick just applied to them and thought Azula tried not to show it, the kick to the ribs had done it's damage.
Ribbons of electricity arced around Azula's hooked fingers, just has flames danced about Zuko's fists. Without so much as a telegraphed movement, Azula spun around letting her lighting arcs lash out in an impromptu whip. Unlike fire and water whips, or in Toph's case earth ribbons, lighting whips were a one shot deal, unless the user could maintain the energy needed to keep them material.
Azula worked around that by simply not stopping in her movements. Her spins and footwork making her out to be dancing in a shower of lethal light than fighting. Zuko felt the sharp bites and stings of his sister's whips across his block arms and midsection. He knew she wouldn't stop anytime soon. Not of her own accord anyway.
Remember how it was mentioned that Zuko could never generate lightning? That his first attempts oh so long ago blew up in his face?
Well, he took that concept and ran with it.
Swing his arms wide open creating a moderately sized explosion of super heated air and fire, he managed to force his sister back and disrupt her concentration and hold over her attack. He followed that up with an upwards standing kick that shot a quick ball of fire towards her.
The fireball was slow and ridiculously easy to avoid. But this was an old dance for Azula. At any moment the fireball would fizzle out. It was meant to be a distraction, allowing Zuko to close in for harder hits. She'd see his fireball and raise him one of her own stronger patented blues.
The result was not what she expected. Instead of completely engulfing Zuko's red and orange flames or even negating it, the whole mix exploded blowing her back. Temporarily stunned and blinded, Azula could only keep her guard up for her brother's inevitable follow up.
True to form, and like a Vulture-Crane circling a dying animal, Zuko was on her an instant. He unleashed a flurry of flame charged punches and kicks rained down on her before grabbing her by the collar; lifting her up with one hand.
"Boom." He whispered just before turning Azula's world into one of flame, heat and explosive force. As previously stated he'd used the least amount of force for fear of really hurting her.
As she fell out of her trajectory arc smoking with small fires on her clothes, there was only one thing in Azula's pain filled psyche.
Tucking into a roll in mid air, Azula landed feet first, crouching down and springing at Zuko. All the while a massive build up of static charge enveloped her body. Zuko tried to sidestep the seemingly suicidal assault. But Azula never intended to hit him dead on; instead she dropped down into a familiar leg split, however this time instead of sweeping at Zuko's feet she launched herself into a hand standing kick with both feet connecting with his lower jaw, releasing bursts of electricity as each foot impacted. Still balanced on her hands, she spun her legs in a wide circle, clocking him tree more time across the face. Finally she locked her ankles around his neck and with an overhead slam, dropped him on his back in a spectacular blast of lighting.
And that was it.
Flat on their backs, neither one had the strength left to even stand. For a moment Katara forgot she was in the Fire Nation, this was common place and that Lady Ursa was the kindest soul she'd ever met and like a second mother to her. Instead she could only boggle at how a mother would let her two children utterly destroy each other in such a violent display of power.
Her thoughts were dashed when Zuko began to groan, rolling on to his side in pain, "Damn, Azzie," Using a childish nickname from yesteryear, "I thought we weren't fighting for real."
Azula only raised her hand in a very un-flattering and un-becoming gesture.
"Azula." Admonished Ursa, walking towards her two children with damp towels and healing salves. Her stern countenance swiftly softened, "That was an impressive move."
"Learned it by watching Ty Lee jump around like a Monkey-Poodle." Deadpanned the Princess. Ursa sighed, turning to her eldest,
"And when did you come up with yours Zuko?"
The prince winced forcing himself to sit up, "I just imagined Azula as Katara's idiot brother or back when Aang was still an annoying kid."
"You two should speak better of your friends." Chided Ursa, helping Azula to her feet. "Especially Katara's brother." Ursa smiled at Katara, surprising the Water Bender at being aware of her presence the whole time.
"He's not my friend." Said Azula.
"In any case. You two are done." She fussed over them, shooing them off the training yard, "Get cleaned up and dressed for tea. Best clothes. Katara will be joining us."
"Mother! I'm a grown man!"
"Mom! I'm a grown woman!"
"And you'll still be my babies no matter what." With that she shot a double blast of purplish-blue fire at their feet with one sweep of her arm, "Now get cleaned."
Katara couldn't help but giggle at the sight of the Fire Nation's best being treated like unruly tots. Ursa dusted her hands off and tucked them back in the sleeves of her royal robes. She turned to Katara and gave her a slight nod in greeting.
Suddenly aware and embarrassed of her role within the palace, Katara quickly returned greeting with a deeper curtsy. Wordlessly, Ursa motioned for Katara to join her on in the training yard.
"Umm…wow." Confessed the Water Bender, "I've never seen them go at it like that before."
"It's on of your nation's mottos: To self improve."
Katara grinned nervously, wringing her hands, "Yeah….makes me feel kind of a slacker in regards to my own bending skills."
"Nonsense." Said Ursa, "You fight with grace, strength and style. You've proved to the world that Water Bending is a serious art not just confined to healing. Zuko's told me stories of how he, you, and dear little Toph used to train the Avatar."
Katara shrugged, "But that was then. And I wasn't trying to hurt Aang." Ursa picked up on the unspoken end of Katara's sentence,
"And you thought Zuko and Azula were going to kill each other and I was just going to let them." It wasn't a question, more of a statement. Ursa smiled at her,
"I understand how different it is living in a foreign culture. What some might consider brutal, we call it our way of life. Besides you don't see mindless fights breaking out in the streets do you?"
"No. No! I didn't mean to say that…"
Ursa laughed, "It's alright dear. The world has thought of us as monsters and I intend to change that. Starting with you…" She gave Katara a kindly look, "If you'll let me."
"Of course, Lady…"
"Call me Ursa."
Straightening to her full height which was considerable, Ursa clapped her hands with an excited expression, "Alright, let's start now."
"Eh?" Katara blinked as Ursa got into a seemingly slight and delicate fighting stance with heavy robes, crown and all.
"What? Now? Fight?" Katara chuckled nervously.
Ursa loosened her stance to wag a finger at Katara, "You need to learn what it's like to be a Fire National. What better way than to understand?" She got back into stance motioning for Katara to do the same.
The Water Bender blinked.
This was insane!
She wasn't going to fight the Lady Dowager of the Fire Nation.
That's just crazy talk.
Katara took in Ursa's genuine smile and kindly features.
"Well…what could it hurt?" She thought to herself, uncorking her water skin. Bending the water around her, letting it flow around her like a living scarf, "This might be just what I need to relieve a little work stress and tension."
"Good." Said Ursa immediately tightening her stance, her upturned hands, usually seen painting, writing poetry or fussing over her son and daughter, suddenly palmed blazing gouts of purplish-blue flames,
Meet Katara the proverbial deer in head lights with a single repeating thought,
Life in the Fire Nation.
This was going to be quite the experience, eh Katara?
A sort of follow through with Fight Club, now retitled: Training Day, an old action based fic I've posted and taken down before and just put up again.
Being the whore that I am, I decided to make that one part of the World Tour Avatar meta-world.
Anyway, this fic and the other one are Michael Bay fics. All action and not much else.