Disclaimer: I really wish I owned Naruto or Avatar: The Last Airbender but sadly I don't and that really sucks.
Can it be? A new chapter? In less than a month? You better believe it, but don't get used to it people.
So here it is: Part Two. Enjoy
It was almost ironic, the man thought to himself, stroking his beard as he watched the flaming town from a distance, that after years of these people burning down countless towns it was now their towns that were going up in flames. It was even more ironic that they were the ones who set fire to their own town in the first place.
"This is just further proves that the Fire Nation is nothing but a land of monsters who know only of destruction. And they have the gall to call the Water Tribe savages." Not that he didn't think they weren't but the Fire Nation didn't have the right to talk as if they were above them.
"*cough cough* Geez, is this going to happen with every town we get?" He heard one of his men complain. He looked down at the soldiers who have yet noticed him standing behind watching the burning town with them. Many of them had their shirts over their mouths to filter the smoke that was filling the cavern. He understood the man's annoyance as the smoke was becoming a bother to him too, he had already sent people to make a couple of air holes, but he was more annoyed by that this fire meant that there were going to be more downed men.
When first started they had been a force of six hundred and seventy-three men. Now he wasn't crazy enough to believe a force of that size would be able to wipe out the entire Fire Nation but he thought with this method of attack they would take out at least one island and it seemed like it would go that way at first after taking down several small villages with relative ease and only losing two men. But then they decided to go after the bigger cities and towns and after only three towns they were down to five hundred forty-nine soldiers, of which only three hundred and eleven men were still able to go on while the other two hundred and thirty-eight were too injured to go on and had to be left behind and that number was bound to rise again after this fourth town.
"The problem is the general is having us make the drop too short; too many fire bastards are surviving the fall and worst, too many of them are in good enough condition to put up a fight." Another soldier spoke.
"Is that so? He spoke, startling the men. "I was actually thinking we should go back to bringing down villages for awhile, you know, taking it easy a bit going after the smaller targets and allow some of those injured men we left behind to heal and catch up. But that deeper hole idea isn't a bad idea, we should employ that the next time we hit a town."
"General Fong, sir! I wasn't implying that you weren't doing a good job sir, it's just—."
"At ease soldier, there's no need to explain, every soldier has 'suggestions' for their superiors once in a while." Fong said in an understanding tone, then he narrowed his eyes and spoke in a harder tone, "But in the future I should hope you would be confident enough to bring up any 'suggestions' you have for me face to face instead of uselessly speaking behind my back."
"General," Fong turned to soldier standing behind him, "the clean-up squad, it's been a while since they went up and they've yet to return."
Fong frowned, "You believe something has happened to them?"
"It's never taken them this long before."
"Get a squad up there to see what's going immediately!" Fong ordered.
He growled as the soldier hurried away. If someone discovered them and the military has been informed then it was only a matter of time before multiple battalions would come and scour the island looking for them, which would be the end of the mission, and their lives, as they wouldn't stand a chance against a force like that. Even if by some miracle they were able to escape from not only the island but the Fire Nation too and got back to the Earth Kingdom, they had violated the ceasefire order, they would be declared traitors and be destined to either get arrested and executed or live the rest of their lives as fugitives.
Fong shook his head of the negative thoughts running through his head. He had to relax. The clean up squad being late didn't necessarily mean that the mission had been compromised, there was probably just a stronger resistance up there than anticipated, or they goofing off. Neither notion was particularly good but they both more comforting to think about than his previous thoughts.
Fong was pulled from his thoughts as heard his men making a commotion about something. "What's going on? Did something happen?"
Several glanced back at him. "You didn't see it?" One asked.
"See what?" Fong questioned, his brows furrowing.
"A large amount of flames just went out all of a sudden. At first I was seeing things but then it happened again seconds later."
Fong's eyes snapped towards the town examining it carefully. He hadn't paid attention to how much fire there was so he wasn't exactly sure if there was less than before so he watched to see if this phenomenon they were talking about would happen again.
And not five seconds later he did see something happen, but it wasn't the sight of flames snuffing out, but a flash of blue light accompanied by a loud crack. Fong's eyes widened.
"Was that thunder?"
"Underground? Pfft, no way that's possible."
"No, there is one possibility." Fong stated, walking forward. "It is said that the most powerful firebenders are capable of generating lightning." Another crack of thunder sounded, and this time they were able to see the bolts of lightning. "I had thought it to be only a story, but now…" Now one of those fabled monsters was down there attacking his soldiers. "Get more men down there now!" Damn it, this was not supposed to be happening.
Naruto dropped another soldier with an electrified fist before spotting a group of soldiers approaching. "Ugh, these bastards are everywhere." Placing his electrified hand flat on the ground, a line of electricity shot forward, as it traveled the line split off into lines that continued to branch off until they spanned the entire width of the street and electrocuted the soldiers. "Raidō: Chiryuu (Lightning Art: Ground Current)!"
Looking at all of the downed soldiers littering the street Naruto turned around and made an annoyed sound when he saw more soldiers coming. "Aren't you dressed yet?" He yelled at a building.
"I'll be ready in a moment so shut up." Azula sounded from inside.
"I don't have a moment!" Naruto shouted while dodging stone projectiles. "I mean seriously, you're not going to a ball, it's a fight! It doesn't take more than ten minutes to get dressed for a fight!" A rock whizzed inches past his face, momentarily shocking him before he frowned and kicked out a strong wave a wind that blew away the rocks and threw the soldiers off their feet. "Two! That's how many minutes it took me to get ready!"
"I don't have the luxury of being able to just throw my clothes on like you." Azula said stepping out of the door, fully dressed and her bag slung over her shoulder. "These are quality clothes; it takes time to put them on properly."
Naruto rolled his eyes before frowning at what she just said. "Are you saying my clothes aren't quality? These were…" A rock hit him in the side of the head and sent him sprawling to the ground. He laid there for a few seconds before he stood up, walked back to the exact spot he was standing previously, and looked at her with blood dripping running down the side of his face, "…given to me by a noble so they have just as much 'quality' as your clothes."
Azula and soldiers sweatdropped at this. 'So he's just going to ignore that happened?'
"Oh and…" Naruto unleashed a blast of lightning that electrocuted several soldiers. "…that hurt you bastards!"
'I guess not.' Azula thought as she sweatdropped even more.
The ground beneath Naruto rose up and launched him into the air. Four of the soldiers, earthbenders, moved in position to attack as soon Naruto hit the dirt, but the blond ninja pre-empted their attack by kicking off the air and shooting down towards the earthbenders head on. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Jutsu)." Half a dozen clones popped up beside him and started to rapidly rotate their bodies while expelling fire from their hands, which Azula noticed was the standard orange in color instead of Naruto's usual red and black, causing them to be covered in a shroud of flame. "Bunshin Ryuuseiu (Clone Meteor Shower)!"
The earthbenders hastily pulled up slabs of earth that held up against the suicide bombardment but Naruto flew around and punched a soldier with a flaming fist hard enough to send him slamming headfirst into the earth wall.
"The kid just multiplied. What is he?" A soldier watching the Naruto fight against earthbenders asked.
"Wait a minute that kid is firebending, wasn't he airbending a minute ago?" One guy wondered out loud.
"You mean you're just now realizing that?" He heard a girl question and turned around just in time to get a boot to the face.
Azula watched the man go down and turned to the soldiers who were staring at her angrily. "Now you've done it girly." One said as he drew his sword and charged at her, getting a scoff out of Azula before she kicked a blast of fire in his chest that sent him to the ground screaming in pain.
Seeing her take out another man the rest of the soldiers drew their weapons or dropped into bending stances. "She's a firebender, non-benders don't engage her one-on-one."
Four of them came at her this time, one with a spear taking the lead and jabbed his weapon at her stomach. Azula sidestepped the thrust and grabbed the spear by its shaft then spun and landed a flaming roundhouse kick to the head of another soldier coming at her from the right then turned back to the spear and broke it over her knee. With surprising strength she yanked on the piece the soldier was still holding and pulled him into a vicious fiery kick.
Immediately after the man dropped Azula was forced to duck under the swing of a sword and danced around several more slashes before using one of the broken pieces of the spear to whack the swordsman's wrist and force him to drop the sword and stabbed the other piece with the spearhead into his stomach. The last guy rushed her with a loud war cry but was quickly blasted away by a shot of fire.
She then rushed at a trio of men, sending a blast of fire ahead of her. The two holding weapons dropped back while the third unarmed soldier stepped forward and raised a wall to block the blast, just as Azula wanted him to do. She leaped up on top of the wall and flipped off and over their heads, throwing her bag down into the earthbender's arms as she somersaulted over him, getting the man to regard the bag confusingly for a moment, a moment Azula didn't waste to send two bolts of fire that caught the two non-benders in their face while still in mid-flip. The earthbender angrily tossed the bag aside and shifted his stance to attack but was too slow and received a chest full of flames.
Azula turned to send a wave of fire at another group of oncoming soldiers but was beaten to the punch when a strong wind swept them aside and slammed them into a building. Naruto landed next to her and let out an impressed whistle as he looked at the fallen bodies, "Wow, someone's been busy. I guess you're not as weak as I thought." The glare Azula sent him went unnoticed as he nudged one of the fallen men with his foot.
"I defeated nine guys in the time it took you to defeat three."
"Three? I think you need to get your eyes checked Hime-chan, I took out way more than three." Naruto claimed as he pointed further down the street. Azula looked to where he was pointing and felt her jaw drop slightly when she saw a larger group of beaten up soldiers on the ground unconscious.
'There's like twenty guys. How did he take them all out so quickly without me noticing.'
"Hey these guys are dead. You killed them?" He asked incredulously while giving her a dry look. "You couldn't hold back just a bit?"
"You don't sound that upset." Azula noticed. At worst the blond sounded slightly annoyed.
"Hey I'm not ten, I know death may happen in battles like these. Hell, I've killed before too." Naruto told her.
"Really?" That was a bit of a surprise. Naruto didn't seem like a person who had taken life before, he was too naïve and innocent, but appearances were deceiving and assassination was one of the aspects of being a ninja.
Azula gazed around at all of the bodies littering the streets and sighed when as she realized that there were still hundreds of these guys left down here. "We can't keep this up for much longer."
"What are you talking about? I can do this all day." Naruto said. "These guys are a lot weaker than I than I thought they would be."
Azula resisted the urge to roll her eyes at his declaration and instead just sighed. "Well be that as it may, we'll eventually lose if we continue to fight them as groups, we don't have the stamina for that," She was winded from fighting just nine of these fools. Damn, she really needed to get back into shape. "especially seeing how you are giving your opponents a second chance to attack us by not finishing them off."
"So what, we should attack these guys all at once?"
"Oh that's a much better idea. Instead of dragging it out let's go and get annihilated instantly." Azula sarcastically stated.
"Then what the hell should we be doing?" Naruto shouted, getting frustrated.
"Right now, nothing." Azula replied.
"Nothing?" Naruto echoed incredulously, displeasure clear in his voice.
"Yes, right now isn't the time for us to go on the attack. We need to wait, stake out the situation, and look for an opportunity to strike to show itself."
Naruto groaned and slumped some. "I hate reconnaissance." He whined. A rush of memories suddenly entered Naruto's mind causing him to perk up some. "Good to know that stupid clone was doing something useful." He muttered before making around fifty clones. "Grab all of the guys who are still alive and put them in that building." The clones nodded and got to work. "I'll seal them in there and then we can go."
Azula, who had been off in her own world staring at the clones with a calculative eye, snapped out of it when she heard that last part and shifted her gaze towards the younger boy. "Go? Go where?"
"That clone that was down here gathered all of the survivors together and hid them in a safe place." Naruto informed as he pulled out a brush, some ink, and several slips of paper on which he started writing on. "Since we're doing reconnaissance I say that would make a great base."
The princess harrumphed at that. "I wouldn't call it great but it'll do." Besides this may be a find a solution to the biggest dilemma she was having with this whole situation: manpower.
Azula didn't bother to hide the look of disappointment on her face as she looked at the potential manpower.
After he dumped the soldiers in the building and placed those papers on each wall, which he assured her would keep them trapped inside, Naruto lead her on a winding course through the city, sneaking past the Earth Kingdom soldiers and putting out any fires they encountered until they reached a large eyesore of a building that Azula recognized was made by Naruto's strange wood technique. Tall, tilted, and spiraling at the top before spreading out to look like a blooming flower, it was lucky that its odd shape made it look damaged from the fall like all of the other buildings around.
There were more people inside than Azula expected there to be but most of them didn't seem to be of the warrior variety, and the handful that did were, like everybody else in the building, sporting injuries. Children, older folk, and the more heavily injured were laid down on mats wrapped in makeshift bandages made of torn rags and clothing. Those who had loved ones with them were being tended to while others not so fortunate were laid down and left to wait for the only doctor to come by, but with so many patients and so little supplies all he was really doing was simple patchwork.
"So much for building up a force to fight with." Azula sighed before she looked at the blond boy and frowned. "Why haven't you changed your appearance yet?"
"Uh, well~," Naruto scratched his cheek nervously. "the thing is, my clone forgot to transform while he was in front of these people."
"What!" Azula exclaimed loudly, drawing stares from the other people. Azula subconsciously adjusted the goggles on her face. "That's still no a reason why you couldn't have transformed before we came in here." She said in a much quieter voice.
"But they already know what I look like and I don't wanna use any more chakra than I have to." Naruto whined, causing Azula to pinch the bridge of her nose in annoyance.
She followed Naruto to one of the rooms upstairs where he knocked on the door. "Come in." A voice said from the other side. Naruto opened the sliding door and they entered the candlelit room where inside were four elder people.
The first that drew her attention was a man sitting up in a futon, he looked to be in his early sixties with white hair falling to his neck from underneath the bandages wrapped around his head and a short beard on his chin, his right arm was also bandaged and was pulled into a sling. The fact that he had his own room despite not nearly being the most heavily injured person here, the way the others in the room were gathered around him, and the fine quality of his night robes, barring the dirt, tears, and missing sleeve, Azula guessed he was someone high ranking, most likely the mayor. And the white haired woman behind him, the only female of the four, wearing equally fine and ruined robes was probably his wife.
Sitting on either side of the futon were two men who seemed to be opposites of each other. Sitting on the left with his legs bent underneath him was a skinny man with long white hair that went down to his mid-back with a topknot on top his head and a small mustache, he too was wearing night robes and also a pair of round glasses that were cracked in one of the lenses. The tanned bulky man on the right looked to be the youngest of the four as he was the only one whose hair wasn't white but was instead a graying brown that was pulled into a ponytail with also a short but thick beard along his jaw line. He was also the only one who wasn't wearing nightwear but instead wore the uniform of the domestic forces.
The officer looked at Naruto with a small frown and grunted. "Hmph, so you actually made it back. I had my doubts that you would be able to."
Naruto frowned and was about to say something when the mayor spoke up. "Now now, be nice to our young savior. I for one am relieved to see you back safely, and I see you found your friend." The nervous look he sent towards Azula when he said friend told her he knew who she was.
'And he doesn't want me to know that he knows? …Because the little weasel rat probably plans on giving Zuko any information he can while not becoming the person I would first suspect.' Azula smirked. It was nice to see that people still knew to be afraid of her. Well Azula would continue to let the fool think that she was unaware he knew, after all, the mayor was getting ahead of himself. Chances were already low that he would get back to the surface alive and they just got a lot lower.
However it seemed that neither of their plans were meant to happen as the officer exclaimed, "Princess Azula!" The man bowed before Azula, getting her to raise an eyebrow at how he seemed to be happy to see her.
The mayor paled, briefly glaring at the man before glancing fully at Azula with a nervous smile then bowed, his wife and the other old man doing the same. "Princess Azula, forgive me, I didn't recognize you."
"Oh please, you knew who I was the moment I walked into the room." Azula remarked as she took off the goggles. She watched the mayor pale further and gaze fearfully at her as she stepped in front of him. "But we can worry about that later, right now we need to focus on getting ourselves out of here and back to the surface."
Learning that he wasn't in immediate danger the mayor relaxed some. "Yes, you are right of course."
"Does that mean you already have a plan to get us out of here?" The spectacled old man questioned in a meek voice.
"Who do you think you're talking to?" The officer spoke glaring at the man. "This is the woman who conquered Ba Sing Se with only two people by her side, of course she has a plan."
"Oh yeah, I've been meaning to ask you about that." Naruto said.
Azula gained a faraway look in her eyes. Ba Sing Se seemed like such a long time ago, back when everything was going right for her. "To be honest when I first infiltrated Ba Sing Se my only intention was to capture the Avatar, I wasn't expecting an opportunity to take Ba Sing Se to arise."
"So you're saying you got lucky?" Naruto sounded unimpressed, he had been hoping to hear a more exciting and action-packed story.
Azula scowled and shook her head. "No, I was lucky that an opportunity arose but it took brain and skill to take full advantage of it and make it work in the end, but that's not what I was trying to say. What I was trying to say was that an opportunity hadn't arisen yet." 'But now with all of this talk about my victory over Ba Sing Se along with what that idea I had earlier I might now have something.' "Excuse us for a moment." She dragged Naruto to the other side of the room.
"Say, how many clones can you make?" She whispered.
"I don't know." Naruto shrugged. "A lot. A while ago in a fight I made almost two thousand clones." He looked back at Azula to see her gaping at him.
"Two thousand?" Her shocked look was then replaced by an angry one. "Why didn't you tell me that sooner!" She hissed, "With just half of that we could have launched a successful attack earlier." And she wouldn't have had to come here and expose herself.
Azula shushed him before responding. "Of course. A couple hundred earthbenders don't stand a chance against one thousand Avatars."
The excited grin growing on Naruto's face fell. "Whoa, uh, I can't make a thousand Avatars."
Azula frowned. "But you just said you can make two thousand clones."
"Okay one: I only did that once and it used up almost all of my chakra. And two: I said I can make one thousand clones, not one thousand Avatars."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Azula asked with a blank stare.
Naruto sighed, how could he explain this. "The Shadow Clone Jutsu is a technique that splits your chakra evenly among each clone. One clone and your energy is split in half, ten clones and your energy is down to one tenth. Most Jōnin only have enough chakra to make ten or so clones at the most. That's why the Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, which creates many more clones, is considered a forbidden technique, it consumes a lot of chakra."
Azula frowned at that. So much for her being able to create an army of herself. But Naruto was able to make hundreds of clones. How much chakra did he have to be able to pull that off. "Wait, what does this have to do you being unable to 'make Avatars' or whatever."
"Chakra isn't the only thing that's split when making clones, chi is split too." He told her. "The more clones I make…"
"…The weaker your bending becomes." Azula realized. That's why his fire was orange earlier. "Okay, how many clones can you make while still being able to bend."
"I can have up to eleven clones while still being able to bend multiple elements but anymore than that and I'm down to just bending one element until I hit twenty-nine, then I can't bend at all."
Azula bit the inside of her cheek. So it was either a dozen half-trained Avatars or thirty benders, not nearly enough for what she had planned.
She made an irritated sound. "What's the point of making so many clones if they can't bend or do any jutsu."
"They can still fight." Naruto retorted.
Azula scoffed. "What, with close combat; they're destroyed after just one hit."
"And they can still use basic jutsu." Naruto added.
"Basic jutsu? You mean like your Henge?"
Naruto nodded. "Yep, that and the Kawarimi."
"Really?" Azula asked, a small smirk forming on her face. She could work with that. "Naruto go back out into the city and take out as many Earth Kingdom soldiers as you can within the next hour but bring back at least one of them along with any firebender you run across." She turned to the others in the room and pointed at the officer. "You, go out and gather any firebender who is still able to walk and create a flame."
"Right away Princess." The man bowed then walked out with an eager look on his face that caused Naruto to sweatdrop as he followed him out the room.
'A fanboy? No at that age you're no longer a fanboy, you're a creepy weird guy perving after a teenage girl.' Naruto cringed at the thought.
"You have a plan?" The mayor questioned hopefully yet wearily.
"I do." And it would largely depend on Naruto's abilities and some great acting. If everything went right she could make the army surrender and get them to raise the city back to the surface.
Fong paced around in his tent angrily while stroking his beard. "What the hell is going on?" Fong wondered out loud. He stepped out of his tent and grabbed one of the nearby soldiers. "Where is Colonel Xin? I asked for him over twenty minutes ago."
"I don't know, sir. The men you sent to get him haven't come back yet."
Fong growled lowly and returned back in the tent. What a time for his second-in-command not to be around.
It has been almost four hours since he first sent reinforcements into the city and more a than a fourth of the men who were supposed to be down there have yet to come back, Fong doubted they would, and a good number of the ones who did come back, especially the earthbenders, had serious injuries.
Many of the heavily injured squads confirmed the existence of the lightning wielding firebender but not one of them have been able to take him down so he was still down there. 'Or she.' There were several different stories concerning the identity of the grandmaster, some said it was a man, some said it was woman, and some even said it was a child. Whoever it was, they had made quite the impression on those they had an encounter with; they were terrified of the lightningbender but seemed to be in awe too and their stories were starting to get to the other men.
If the powerful firebender wasn't bad enough, the follow-up squad he sent to check on the clean-up has yet to return. He feared that the worst has happened and the squad has been captured, and that meant it wouldn't be long before they would be forced to take a last stand.
The flap opened as a man walked in. Fong turned and scowled at him. "It's about time you got here Xin. What took you so long?"
Xin average looking, a man with no physical features that would make him stand out in a crowd. Fair skinned, green eyes, brown hair tied into a topknot, no facial hair, average height, not buff, but not skinny either, he was fit. He was probably the plainest looking man here and he also happened to be the most cold-hearted man here. A skilled swordsman, Xin was known for showing no mercy to his enemies, capable of killing even women and children without hesitation. It was probably the main reason why the colonel had been transferred so many times.
It wasn't that the man was bloodthirsty; Xin was just a cautious person who strongly believed in the idea that a dead enemy was enemy who could never hurt you again. It was just that Xin sometimes took that idea too far by not stopping at soldiers but also going after civilians who he felt could become potential enemies like wives or children who may turn vengeful, something that unnerved many of his past comrades and commanders.
Xin bowed. "My apologies, sir. I was held up with something."
"Oh?" Fong said, prompting him to explain.
The colonel hesitated before, looking around cautiously, before speaking in a hushed tone. "I believe Colonel Du has been captured."
"What? What are you talking about?" Fong demanded.
"No one can find him and in his tent there are signs that a struggle took place. I should also report that two of our majors and a lieutenant are also missing."
Fong cursed. Of course this was happening when everything else was falling apart. "Tell the men to be on high alert for an intruder in the camp and order the men in the tunnel to double their efforts."
Xin turned to leave but was nearly knocked over by a soldier who came rushing in, out of breath and a distressed look on his face. "What is it?" Xin asked.
The soldier wheezed. "From the town… huff… Fire Nation troops… huff… a lot of them…"
"What?" Fong bolted out of the tent and rode a wave of earth to the nearest ledge that overlooked the city and saw them.
When the soldier had said a lot of troops Fong had expected maybe around one hundred soldiers, but there were more than twice that amount marching towards them, about the same amount men he had that were still good to do battle.
"Were they already in the city?" Fong wondered.
No that couldn't be; they had scouted the city beforehand and there had been no sign of military within the area besides the local authorities. So how did they get down here so fast? And with so many of them they should have been noticed, it didn't make any sense.
"What should we do, sir?" Fong jumped at Xin's voice, having been too caught up in the approaching army to have noticed Xin's arrival.
Fong looked at the Fire Nation troops and estimated they would reach the camp's position in less than ten minutes. "Tell all of the men to prepare for battle and gather all of the hostages."
"Hostages?" The surprise in his voice caused Fong to raise an eyebrow at Xin, who quickly recomposed himself. "Err, right. Because of all of our injured our numbers are now down to being equal to a force of this size so we'll need any advantage we can get against them." Xin started to walk away. "I'll get right on, sir."
"Equal in numbers?"
Xin halted his steps at the General's voice. "Did you not hear me, colonel, when I said tell all of the men to prepare for battle."
The swordsman looked at his leader incredulously. "Even the injured ones? But if you send them out to battle they will…"
"What, die?" Fong gave Xin a hard stare. "Need I remind you that when coming here we abandoned the idea of surviving? The only value our lives have now are to keep the mission going forward. Those men serve no purpose lying in a tent, they belong on the battlefield. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir." Xin responded stiffly and quickly walked away.
"Your plan better work, Hime-chan." He uttered quietly.
"Come on, hurry up!"
"Let's get moving people!"
It was seven minutes later and the Earth Kingdom soldiers were mostly scrambling to prepare for battle against approaching Fire Nation troops. Unfortunately getting ready was proving not to be a smooth operation. Most of the soldiers were resting and were completely unprepared for an attack. Seriously who expects a Fire Nation army to attack while underground?
Another problem were the many commanding officers that no one could find. The lack of leadership was making for poor organization; a lot of men didn't know what to do with themselves, some didn't know what was going on, there were men who were actually still sleeping.
"Hey you! Get off your ass and come on!" One soldier yelled as he kicked a man sleeping on the ground in his side.
A man poked his head out of his tent and saw all of the soldiers rushing by. "What's going on?" He called out to one.
"You idiot, Fire Nation troops have been sighted and they'll be here any minute now!"
The man's eyes widened in shock as the flap opened wider and revealed three other men in the tent and the card game they were playing. "What?" They threw the cards down and hastily put on their armor.
"Come on, move your feet." A soldier said to a struggling woman he was dragging along. The hostages were mostly women some men brought back to have their way with while the rest were older and younger people soldiers didn't have the heart or stomach to kill and instead captured them, without letting Xin know.
Several injured soldiers grumbled as they hobbled towards front lines. "I can't believe the General is making us fight in our condition."
"I know, but the joke's on him because I'm only going as far as the back of the battalion. Far enough away from all of the heavy action but close enough for Fong to believe I'm truly participating."
A dry look was thrown in his direction. "I don't get you man. If Fong had said that you weren't allowed to fight, you would be raring to fight while claiming you could take out fifty firebenders."
"Hey it's my body, Fong doesn't have the right to decide for me whether I'm good to fight or not."
"Actually he does have the right, it comes with being the general."
"Whatever. I'm not fighting unless we're pushed back and I have no other choice, which at that point means we are doomed, but until then a fireball won't be getting within ten meters of me."
As soon as he made that declaration a fireball impacted the ground in front of him. He fell backwards in shock then looked in the direction it came from, the opposite direction of where the Fire Nation troops were supposed to be coming from, and saw more flying through the air.
"What the hell?" Fong shouted as he saw the flames which illuminated the area enough to reveal more troops just as numerous as the ones coming from the direction of the city and much closer, actually now moving through the camp and were driving the slower moving soldiers towards where the rest had been gathering. "How did they flank us?"
They stopped several meters in before a teenage girl stepped forward and spoke loudly. "General Fong, you are outnumbered and surrounded! Surrender now or be exterminated!"
Fong let out a scoffing laugh as he stalked forward. "You say that as if you won't exterminate us anyway if we do surrender. And what is the meaning of having a kid come out and act like she's the leader? Are you insulting us!" He stopped a good distance across from the girl. "You think I wouldn't strike down a child?" He sent a line of earth columns rushing at her.
Instead of frantically jumping out of the way like Fong expected, the girl moved her arms in wide arcs, electricity crackling off her fingertips before a lightning bolt surged forward, meeting and disrupting his attack. "I think you'll find that I'm not your average kid, general." She said smirking at Fong's shocked expression.
Fong narrowed his eyes at the girl. "So you're the lightningbender." His eyes then widened in recognition. "You are-! What is the Witch of the Fire Nation doing here? Last I heard you were driven insane after your brother dethroned you and he locked you up in the madhouse."
Azula raised an eyebrow at that 'Witch of the Fire Nation' title, not particularly impressed by it but not hating it either, but when Fong mentioned her humiliating defeat by the hands of her brother, any trace of amusement on her face was gone, replaced by a cold anger that she couldn't manage to keep out of her eyes. "You can't believe everything you hear."
"Apparently." The rebel general agreed. "So your brother lied about your about condition to the world, this just proves that this whole peace thing he's trying to propose is all a ploy to lure us into a false sense of security and get us while our backs are turned and our fool of a king and the Avatar, the naïve boy that he is, fell for it."
Azula scoffed. "Please, you're giving Zuko too much credit, he's not that clever nor is he underhanded like that. My brother wears his heart on his sleeve, the experiences he had during his banishment made him sympathetic towards your inferior kind. As for me, yes, he tried to lock me up but I managed to escape. So make no mistake, my brother and I are enemies, the weak minded traitor wants peace between the nations while I want to lead the Fire Nation to reign supreme."
Fong stroked his long beard as he stood there studying her for a moment before speaking. "Passionate, I admit, but am I supposed to believe the words of a known manipulator."
"You think I'm lying? What would be the point of that? You don't think you're getting out of this, do you?" She gestured to her much larger army that was surrounding his.
"Maybe, maybe not, but we won't know unless we try." Fong shifted into a battle stance. "Either way we're not giving up without a fight!"
"Actually giving up doesn't sound so bad right now." Someone voiced from behind.
Fong turned around, glaring angrily at the crowd of soldiers. "Who said that?"
"Yeah I'm with him." Another one spoke.
"Yeah, to tell you the truth I was never totally into the whole giving up on life thing we had going."
Fong stood in disbelief as more and more of the soldiers began to speak their agreement getting Azula to smirk at him. "It seems your men don't share your level of commitment."
He growled, clenching his fists in rage before snapping at his troops. "What's the matter with you people! You can't just give up!"
Xin stepped forward. "What's the point of going on? They outnumber us and a good number of us are injured. Do you really expect us to have the will to engage in a suicide battle like this when for us there's nothing at stake? If we were defending our homeland with lives of our countrymen at stake, we would fight until our last breath, but this is just us pointlessly throwing our lives away, with no honor behind our deaths. If we surrender, sure we'll live hard lives as prisoners, but we'll survive."
Fong grabbed Xin by the collar and got in his face. "What are you going on about? No honor?" He shoved Xin to the ground and turned to the rest of his soldiers. "Were any of you listening to me before we came here? I said if honor or glory is what you were looking for then this isn't the place to find it. Surrender? We all know of the Fire Nation's 'mercy'. You think they are going to live after what we have done?" There was chatter as the men realized he was right. "What would you rather happen? Death by surrender or death in battle?"
"BATTLE!" They yelled as they prepared to fight.
Azula listened to their war cries for several seconds before sighing. "So you aren't going to give up huh." Guess it was time for Plan B. "I noticed that you have hostages. What a coincidence that we have hostages too." A snap of her fingers and a number of tied up Earth Kingdom soldiers were brought forward.
"A hostage trade?" Fong questioned skeptically. After all that would just give them more soldiers to fight with immediately after, more soldiers than they had captured civilians. It would be foolish of her to offer that, unless she had some kind of trick planned.
"Oh please, like I would trade seventy-two soldiers for not even twenty civilians." Azula remarked.
Fong frowned. That, if anything, made him more wary. Even if it wasn't for a hostage trade, she had brought those captured soldiers out for a reason.
"General Fong, sir." a soldier, one of his majors, stepped forward and spoke in a low voice, "She isn't fully telling the truth. It's impossible for her to have seventy-two of our men."
"What do you mean? Why is that impossible?" Fong questioned.
"Because eighty-three of the men came back."
"We only sent one hundred and fourteen into the city."
It only took a moment for the general to do the math and figure out what was wrong before he narrowed his eyes at the princess. "What are you playing at?"
"What do you mean?" Azula asked with feigned innocence.
"I mean you are lying about the number of my men you have up there, there's no way you can have seventy-two." Fong stated.
"And why is that? Because that's forty-one more men than there should be?" She questioned making Fong tense.
"How do you know that?"
"How do I know?" Azula tapped her chin as if she were pondering. "I wonder." Her eyes briefly flickered to his soldiers.
Fong's narrowed eyes widened in surprise. "What did you do?"
"Who knows? Did I lie about how many men I captured to make your loss seem bigger and psych you out?" She shrugged. "Maybe. Or did I really capture seventy-two of your men and send forty-one of mine to infiltrate your camp?" The smile she gave made his hair stand on end. "More than likely."
Fong shot a wide-eyed look at the men behind him who were regarding each other with fear, caution, or hostility. "You're lying!" Fong yelled almost desperately.
Azula let out an exasperated sigh. "Why would I lie?"
"Why would you tell us?" The general countered. "Why not have them strike while we were still unsuspecting?"
"You may know that they are there but that doesn't help if you can't pick them out. If I give the signal I'm sure each of my men can take out at least two of yours before they are stopped and I don't need to tell you how huge of a blow would be to you." Azula paused to let the scenario play in his head, enjoying the fear growing on Fong's paling face before going on. "But the thing is, I don't need them to defeat you Fong. Even if they hadn't infiltrated, my force would still be superior to yours; like your second-in-command said; you're surrounded and outnumbered, many of your number are injured. But if that wasn't bad enough now your troops are in disharmony; they don't trust each other. They are weak and I can easily destroy the lot of you. But I don't want to." She said, confusing him. "I'm giving you a chance to get out of this alive. Just surrender and raise the town back to the surface and I'll let you leave the Fire Nation with your lives."
Azula expected the general to spend several frantic moments pathetically trying, and failing, to think of some other option he could take to get out of this before surrendering to his desire to live and yielding so it was a surprise when instead of doing any of that Fong's frightened features turned stony as he looked straight at her. "Well if those are our options then I choose to fight."
Azula grit her teeth at his stubbornness. "Why are you so quick to choose death?"
"Either option we choose means death for us." Fong said. "We came to the Fire Nation against the Earth King's order, if we were to go back home we would be executed for treason."
Azula frowned, she hadn't been aware of that fact.
"If we are going to die then I'll do it while going about on our mission and taking out the infamous Witch of the Fire Nation definitely falls into that category." The general slipped into a bending stance. "I would rather die as the general who exposed the Fire Nation's grand farce than run away and be the insane traitor who was executed after failing to prove his 'insane conspiracy' only for the Earth Kingdom to fall because his conspiracy was actually in fact true." He stated heatedly.
Azula looked at earthbender almost amusedly with crossed arms. "Our grand farce? You mean that thing you were going on about how this peace offering is just a trap to strike you while your guard is lowered? What does your mission have anything to do with that?"
"Since we couldn't convince Earth King Kuei to back out of this treaty we decided to get Fire Lord Zuko to do it. We're going to deal a blow against the Fire Nation too large for your nation to ignore that will provoke you guys into attacking us before we stupidly let you in even more."
The man was mad, Azula decided.
"Are you insane?" And apparently she wasn't the only one who thought so. All eyes were on Xin as he glared at the men who were supposed to be his allies. "That's your big plan? For the first time in one hundred years your home is experiencing peace and you want to ruin that by starting another war? How the hell does that save anyone? You're endangering your people's lives. You try to make it seem like you are the only ones who are going to get hurt by your actions but what about the soldiers who will lose their lives fighting your war? The people who will get harmed during your war? The families who will be affected by of your war? What about them?"
Azula blinked back her surprise. His outburst, while unexpected and unplanned, seemed to be the final blow that knocked the fight out of the Earth Kingdom soldiers. 'They actually look ashamed. Who would have thought that that hot-head could be such a moving speaker.'
Xin, or rather, the fake-Xin was forced to hop to the side to avoid falling in the sinkhole that opened up beneath him. He glared up at Fong who was glaring back, his hand still had outstretched from the attack.
"I can't believe that you of all people are backing down from this. I guess even the most ruthless of men can turn cowardly." The bearded man sneered at him before gazing back at Azula and once again assuming a battle stance. "If you're not going to help us then at least shut up and get out of our way. I have no need for-." Fong cut off as he heard the sound of weapons clattering on the ground. Looking back he saw that his men were throwing their weapons down and dropping out of fighting stances, all resolve to fight gone from their faces. "Cowards!" He roared at them. "You're all cowards!"
"Give it up Fong. You no longer have the support of your men, you're alone." Azula spoke, knowing from experience what that meant. "You lose. You can't hope to put even a dent in our forces."
Fong bared his teeth and growled. "I don't need to defeat your army, I only need to kill you. After that I don't care what happens to me!" He pulled up a large boulder and hurled it forward before rushing forward in its wake. Azula rolled under it as the men around her were forced to scatter and popped back up with a blast of fire from her two fingers. Fong tilted his head, the blast just narrowly missed his face as he felt the intense heat pass by his cheek.
A stomp shot up two head sized stones into each hand which Fong threw at her one after the other but both were knocked back by a wave of fire which was followed by a second horizontal wave. Fong bent a pillar earth that launched him over the flames and landed behind Azula, sending a wave of earth outwards but she too used her bending to propel herself above the attack.
"Oh man, they're both so even." The head officer commented that caused one of the masked soldiers next to him to scoff.
"Even? What fight are you watching? This is going to be over in a minute." The masked soldier said getting the man to watch the fight closer to see what he was talking about.
Still in mid-air Azula shot several blasts down at the general. Fong erected a barrier that withstood the assault before he broke it in several pieces that he was going to hurl at the firebender but found she wasn't in the air anymore. Looking around he spotted her to the right just as she finished going through the lightning technique. Fong hastily gathered the rocks into a wall but the loose rock shield was unable to hold against the lightning blast and Fong was blown back, bouncing on the ground a couple of times.
Fong groaned as he tried to push himself to his feet but a foot flipped him on his back before stomping on his chest and two fingers burning with a small flame pointed a few inches away from his face. Gulping nervously, Fong looked up from the hand to the face.
"Yield." Azula commanded.
Up on the surface the man who didn't have a broken leg, also known as Ye, sat in front a campfire with a bored look on his face and looked around. It has been several hours since that girl and the weird boy went underground to get the city back – a hopeless quest in his opinion – and the survivors had moved to the outlying forest, dragging the immobile earthbenders with them. The only one besides him who awake was the old man who hadn't been interesting company.
"The sun is going to rise pretty soon." The old man spoke.
Ye looked over to the horizon. "Yeah you're right, it'll probably be just another few minutes."
The old man looked over to where city used to be. "I wonder if those kids are alright."
'I doubt it.' Ye thought to himself before speaking out loud. "Who knows but it looks like that kid's not going to make his deadline."
The old man chuckled. "Don't count him just yet. He still has a few minutes left."
The earthbender captain let out a barking laugh, letting the two Fire Nation men know he was awake as they looked at him. "A blizzard would roll in before your city will get raised."
"Shut up." Ye threw a rock at his head. Even if he agreed with the man the soldier didn't mean he could say it out loud.
Just then the ground started to rumble and shake, startling the three men and waking everybody else up. They turned to the city and watched as buildings rose out of the ground just as the sun started to rise over the horizon.
"The city!" The citizens rushed into the unearthed city except for Ye who stared at it in disbelief.
"I don't believe it. They actually did it."
"I-impossible!" The earthbender captain exclaimed. "They couldn't have beaten General Fong and the others."
Ye laughed at the earthbender as he walked away towards the city. "Two kids beat an entire army of you guys, no wonder we were kicking your ass during the war."
The buildings, while all there, were pretty damaged, some had even completely collapsed. It was going to take a lot of time and hard work before the city could return to its former glory. The only building that wasn't damaged at all was a strange looking one that didn't look like anything the old man had seen in the sixty plus years he had lived in this town. As he and his wife stared at it the door opened up and a man stuck his head out, squinting from the sunlight before a smile broke out on his face and he fully stepped out. "It's the sun. We're above ground again!"
Cheers sounded from inside as more people poured out of the building with happy expressions on their face as they celebrated being under the sun again. Having heard the commotion the other survivors rushed over, reuniting with separated family and friends.
The ground rumbled again, not as much as the last time, as a large hole opened up. Azula, the mayor supported by his wife, and the head officer walked out followed by the soldiers, both Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. They walked in line several people wide, three Earth Kingdom soldiers in the middle and four Fire Nation soldiers on the outside, two on each side. Now out in the sun it was apparent that some of the 'Fire Nation soldiers' weren't wearing actual armor but were instead makeshift consisting of scraps iron and if one were to pay closer attention they would notice the armored soldiers didn't look right, the color was off and the masks and helmets weren't exactly right. Fong was up at the front, tied up in chains as they were lead through the city, many curious citizens following them, until they stopped the at a clearing on the outskirts of the city.
Azula looked around and surveyed the area a bit. "This will do." She said and the Earth Kingdom soldiers were moved to the middle of the clearing except for an unrestrained Xin, something Fong noticed and glared at.
"I don't understand Xin. You didn't have any objections to the plan at first; you helped come up with it even. What happened between then and now that changed your mind?"
Xin shook his head. "Nothing happened." He said as he saw more Earth Kingdom soldiers being herded into the clearing. "Because I doubt Xin changed his mind." He gestured to two soldiers carrying a second unconscious Xin.
Shocked, Fong and his men could only wildly swivel their heads back and forth between the two in alarm and confusion. "What sorcery is this?" He cried.
"Not sorcery, ninjutsu." The general's jaw almost unhinged itself when in a puff of smoke the conscious Xin changed into the younger and smaller Naruto. "The Henge… er, Transformation Jutsu." Almost all of the Fire Nation soldiers and many of the Earth Kingdom men revealed themselves to be clones as they too dropped their henge.
Everybody, even the Earth Kingdom soldiers, looked at all of the clones in wonder except for Fong who looked outraged. "You tricked us you—! What the hell are you?"
"Me? I'm the Avatar and a shinobi."
"Avatar? The Avatar?" At Naruto's nod Fong exploded at the young boy. "What is that? I know the Avatar, I've met him before! You don't even look anything like an Air Nomad!"
Naruto rubbed the back of neck sheepishly. "I would bend two elements to prove I'm not lying but with all of these clones out I can't bend anything right now." He paused then added, almost to himself. "Though I do have to dispel them anyway to do this next part so…"
He dispelled all of the clones and started forming hand seals. Seeing that all of the clones were gone Fong took that as an opportunity to attack as he rushed towards the blond ninja with a loud cry.
'This had better work for once.' Naruto thought to himself as he held the final hand seal. "Mokuton: Renchūrō no Jutsu (Wood Release: Serial Pillar Prison Technique)!" The charging Fong was knocked back as a beam of wood shot out of the ground in front of him, many more followed after it as they formed cages around the green-clad soldiers. Adding more chakra Naruto formed more beams of wood underneath the cages that pushed them higher in the air, separating the earthbenders from their natural element.
Naruto took several deep breaths as wiped the sweat off of his face. After making of so many clones that also maintained a henge for several hours and then creating all of these prisons, two acts that alone would have be a huge drain on even his massive chakra reserves, it was no wonder he was almost out of chakra.
Speaking of the cages, Naruto sweat dropped as he looked at the different shaped prisons. Some were dome-shaped, some were circular, some were pyramid-shaped, and there were even a few spiraling cone-shaped ones.
'Not one of them is box-shaped.' Naruto noted with a twitch of hiseye. 'Oh well, it did the job at least.'
Floating up to where Fong was being held Naruto raised one hand and formed a tornado above it. "Windbending," With his other hand he lit a small flame. "And firebending. Who else besides the Avatar can do that?"
Fong stared wide-eyed at the two elements in his hands before Naruto cut off his bending then floated back down and started walking away. "Who- Who are you?" He heard Fong call out to him.
Naruto looked back over his shoulder, not stopping his stride. "I'm Naruto Uzumaki, the Crimson Avatar; the Avatar from the future. Remember it!" He announced with a smirk on his face.
"I still say we should kill them." Azula muttered when he walked by.
Naruto sighed, shaking his head while rolling his eyes, "We won, give it a break already. Besides we can't kill three hundred guys just like that."
"Sure we can." Azula said moving after him. "It would be simple. You have them trapped in wooden prisons; a few small flames would be all it would take to turn them all into charred corpses."
Naruto paused, looking back at her with a 'what the hell' look.
"What?" She asked obliviously.
The sun was much higher in the sky when, after spending the time being fed, receiving many thanks, and getting some much deserved rest, the two teens – mainly Azula – decided it was time to leave.
"We owe you a great debt Avatar." The mayor said as he stood in front of Naruto, his advisor and the chief officer at his side, and most of the townspeople gathered even further behind them. "If not for you our buildings would still be buried and our people dead. Thank you." He bowed, the two men behind him quickly doing the same.
Naruto smiled. "Well I can't take all of the credit. Most of the thanks should go to Hime-chan." He looked back at the girl leaning against a building tapping her foot impatiently waiting for him. "If she didn't come up with that plan I don't know what I would have done." And that was the truth. He had gone down there with a goal but no plan in mind on how to achieve it. It was amazing to him that Azula was able to bluff them into surrendering like that. He was beginning to see how she conquered a kingdom with just a few people by her side.
He shot her a grin that she rolled her eyes at and turned away. She wished that he would remember they were wanted people and hurry it up already. "Honestly, what is there for them to talk about? All these people have been doing is thanking us, I'm sure they've gone through every form of gratitude possible." She looked over and met the eyes of several children who smiled and waved at her. The princess huffed and turned away, though unknowingly her lips curled into a small smile.
[What's this? First you go out of your way to save some peasants.]
'Oh great,' Azula turned her head, narrowing her eyes at the image of her father in a nearby window, a frown on his face.
[And now you're feeling good from these simple gestures of thanks from people who should bowing before you, thankful for just being in your presence.]
"I am not feeling good" She hissed then paused. "…Well I am, but not because of them."
[So it's your victory over those soldiers then.] 'Ozai' deduced. [I admit you did well. But Princess Azula, needlessly risking your life to play hero for these people?] 'Ozai' shook his head disappointingly. [You were taught better than that.]
"It wasn't like that; I just felt it would be better to take care of this problem now before it became any worse later."
'Ozai' harrumphed. [Lying when things start to get difficult. How typical of you.]
Azula glared at him. "What do you know? You're not even real."
[I know it was that boy who convinced you to go down there.] 'Ozai' replied harshly, making her flinch. [When did you become so weak as to let some imbecile manipulate you?]
Azula turned on him, her face scrunched up in fury. "I'm not being manipulated! I'm just going along with what he wants until-" Azula cut off when she noticed she wasn't actually alone anymore. Naruto stood next to her, face pressed against the glass, peering inside curiously.
"Who are you talking to?" He asked.
Azula glanced back at the window, the image of her father gone, and then shook her head. "Nobody. Are you finished here?"
"Uh, yeah but-"
"Then let's go already." She said sharply as she stalked down the road.
Naruto blinked before taking one more look through the window, shrugging when he found nothing then jogged ahead of his traveling companion. Azula watched as he threw one last wave over his shoulder to the townspeople.
'I'm just going along with what he wants until some chance of power comes along, and after I seize it I'll be the one in charge.'
A/N: This chapter was supposed have more of a focus on Azula's strategic abilities than the actual fighting but as I was writing I realized something; I'm not very good at making gambits, which shouldn't surprise me seeing how I'm more interested in fight scenes than anything else. Or maybe I'm not as bad as I think I am, I don't know. Someone told me it wasn't a bad plan but I don't think it was all that great. I don't know you tell me.
About Naruto being overpowered right now; that's on purpose. First of all this is a Naruto who already knows how to fight, and in action mangas when the hero knows how to fight in the beginning those first few fights tend to be curb stomp battles. Also I'm trying to show that people from the Avatar-verse wouldn't stand a chance in the Naruto-verse, let alone my Naruto-verse, except for the most powerful benders i.e. Aang, Toph, Ozai, Iroh, and the other White Lotus benders. And even then only Aang and Toph would stand out because they're twelve and they're that strong while the other old guys wouldn't be so impressive and would have been more like your average, nameless, in-the-background Jōnin.
Something I forgot to address in last chapter, the Reibaigan. Several people have been complaining that giving Naruto a doujutsu will make him overpowered. I admit when I first made up the Reibaigan it was something to get rid of Naruto's weakness of genjutsu. But while I was writing chapter 3 I realized I wanted a flawed Naruto so I thought about taking away several of its abilities to make it weaker before I thought of an interesting idea. I won't explain it all now but I'll tell you this; the Reibaigan, Kyuubi, and the Avatar Spirit will all have an effect on each other that should balance things out hopefully.
So, thanks for reading Chapter 6, I hoped you enjoyed it. Next chapter things are moving forward; their party of two is going to become a party of three.
Till next time