Unholy Matrimony

Avatar Crack!fic by: A J

For Machete227's Crack!fic Challenge

Standard Disclaimer Applies

Author's note: I hope I'm up to this; Seven crack!fic one-shots in as many days. For full details, please see Machete227's author page. To anyone else trying this as well, Lots of luck! Catch ya on the flipside, A J. On with the story ...

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When Firelord Ozai took the throne, he looked to solidify his reign as smoothly as possible. Alliances of import and convenience were the order of the day. A paper marriage between his son Zuko and his chief advisor's Daughter Mai boded well for civilian loyalty. When his broken brother Iroh came home sonless, another political marriage was arranged.

This one, between his daughter Azula and Iroh's successor as head of Army Intelligence, a young Commander named Zhao, seemed certain to keep the military under his thumb. And so the Fire Nation marched ever forward …

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Shortly after Zhao's departure for the Northern Watertribe's Capital:

"He really is quite brilliant," Ozai told his daughter, flipping through several prospective invasion plans Zhao had given him before the fleet had left. "If even the worst of these unfolds correctly, we'll have control of the North Pole with less than fifty percent losses."

"So we sacrifice a few more of our young men to our eventual domination of the world," Azula sighed, looking at a poster Ty Lee had sent her for the circus' next stop. Maybe she'd even go to this one, and see what her childhood friend found so fascinating about life in the traveling entertainment world. "We still win, right? What of the news of Iroh and Zuko joining the flotilla?"

"Sadly, Iroh sent me news just this morning that Zuko was killed by pirates. They had a falling out about a rare piece of merchandise, apparently." Ozai glowered down at his paperwork, as if accusing the parchment before him of having a hand in his son's death. "Iroh sailed with your brother's ship and crew in his name, of course, to assist Zhao."

"It's good to know my fiancé' isn't without enough wits to employ the Dragon of the West. Luck to them all," Azula stood, her eyes dry despite the bad news. "Good night, father. I'm off to pray for Zuzu's soul." She bowed to her father the Firelord, her hands sketching the loosest of their nation's salute, before she retired to her quarters. Once there, she hurried across to her dresser, staring at her own perfect image for a moment, before she pulled a scroll from a drawer, and smoothed it out on the mirror's surface beside hers.

"Well, it's down to us now, my Admiral. I'll light a candle for your success," she said to the image of Zhao she had commissioned the last time he had been back in the Capital city. He was several years her senior, but what of it? He was so distinguished, now, especially with that beard he'd decided to grow. She'd long realized love wasn't for her; better a perfect match for her ambition, than a simpering poet looking to brighten her soul. Which reminded her …

Lighting a pair of candles, she intoned her brother and her betrothed's names over them. "Farewell, Zuzu. Goodnight, my Admiral." With that she turned in.

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Several months later:

"With these disguises, we'll be able to walk right up to the Earth King's throne unhindered," Azula said, holding up her 'borrowed' Kyoshi armor. Mai and Ty Lee were expressing their own appreciation for the well-constructed suits in their own way.

"Such a different look for you, my love, though the green does suit your eyes," came unbidden on the wind to her ears alone. Azula shook her head. Ever since she'd mastered lightning-bending, she had been hearing voices, at first at random, then more frequently as she moved further through the war-torn Earth kingdoms. She had finally realized one of them wasn't going away, and that she had the near-permanent attention of the spirit of her departed fiancé, apparently for the rest of eternity. It was one more question she would demand an answer from the Avatar for.

"Anything we should add to our plans?" she asked to the room at large, knowing she would get more answers than the other two girls could likely provide. For once, even they surprised her as well, though.

"We shouldn't be too worried about being recognized as long as we keep the ridiculous make-up on," Mai said morosely. "And change our hair. I noticed the Kyoshi girls kept it short, to eliminate fighting-handholds."

"Well, you're the one with the most at risk there, Mai," Azula said drolly, smirking.

"We can't ignore the rumors we heard about your uncle Iroh either," Ty Lee added. "My cousin in the Rough Rhinos said they were headed this way last, as well."

"If my soft-hearted uncle decides to interfere, I'll just have him arrested and sent home like I originally intended anyway."

"Speaking of Iroh, he left more than one piece of intelligence that you can utilize, my love," the ghostly voice of Zhao said by her ear. "The Dai Li are the agents of the Earth King, but moreover, they live to serve the Earth KINGDOM, regardless of who rules. Surely a brilliant girl like you can use that to her advantage."

"Yes, that sort of thing can help immensely …" Azula breathed.

"What?" Ty Lee asked innocently.

"Just remembering some old information my uncle may have found out when he was here last … Mai, send a messenger-hawk in the morning. We'll need every last scrap of intelligence the Fire Nation has gathered about the city. Persons of interest, maps, anything they can get us."

"… sure, Azula. Do you want to tell your father what we're up to?"

"Not until I can deliver the good news, the city, and the Avatar myself."

Several days later, under Ba Sing Se:

"Strike, my love! Strike now, before the Avatar can form a counterattack!"

She did, and lightning coursed through the yellow-garbed boy before he could do anything more than glow and float. Aang and Katara's screams were music to her ears. Her Dai Li agents captured Iroh as the waterbender made her escape with the Avatar's body. She'd be easy to track with that baggage, even if their 'Gaang' had managed to free the skybison, as she'd heard. Her agents had locked up the rest of the Avatar's friends as well. One lone waterbender with a corpse in tow should be no challenge. For now though, she had to deal with her brother. "Hello, Zuzu …"

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During the Day of Black Sun:

"Your name is Sokka?" she asked insolently. "My favorite prisoner used to talk about you, saying you'd free her."

"Suki?" the Water Tribe peasant asked, too quietly. Suddenly, he was across the hall, her collar in his grip as he spat his next question into her face. "WHERE IS SHE?"

"Careful with this one, my love. There's real feeling there," Zhao warned her. It only made her grin wider. Feelings were for the weak, and she'd use it to her and her Nation's advantage.

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One day after her disastrous Agni Kai against Zuko and the water-brat:

Looking around the spacious room she had all to her self, Azula grinned. "Well, it would appear nothing's too good for the former Firelord, even to the extent of her prison cell, eh, lover?"

"No, I think they just want to make you so comfortable that you don't melt down the prison," Zhao's ghost replied sardonically. "You must admit there is some irony here. The princess locked in the highest room of the tallest tower, with only her love to keep her warm." He sounded smug, even to himself. 'And why not?' he mused. He finally had her all to himself …