For My Nation, I'll Betray The World
Rated: Teen for safety
Summary: Firelord Sozin watches a group of visiting Air Nomads and wonders if Fire Nation greatness is worth the price of the other nations.
Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender is owned by Mike and Bryan, Avatar Gods!
LES: This started out as the idea of a comic, a very short one with no dialogue at all. The comic was meant to display the uneasiness Aang would have felt around Firelord Sozin even before learning about his status as the Avatar or the fate of his previous life. But then the topic for the current A: TLA Fic contest was released on KayEff, and I thought that it would fit perfectly with a few changes. The Theme is "Betrayal".
They seemed so carefree.
Firelord Sozin, although he was getting on in years, was still a strong mind and still took an active interest in his nation. He had no doubt that his son, Azulon, was just waiting for his father to die so that he could take the throne. In fact, Sozin was sure that he would hurry the process along if he could get away with it. But the petty squabbles of his family did not matter to Sozin, not anymore. Not when he had greater things on his mind.
From his balcony in the nearly rebuilt Fire Nation palace, Sozin watched as a group of Air Nomads landed in the Palace courtyard. The sight was not an uncommon one. You could not go anywhere in the world without coming across a group of Air Nomad travelers. Their constant wanderlust kept them from staying in their hidden temples. It seemed that as soon as one group of Air Nomads left to continue their constant travels, another group would arrive and stay for a few weeks before leaving, repeating the process over and over again.
But this new group of arrivals was different from the wandering nomadic groups, if only because it was made up of mostly small boys, about ages ten to thirteen, and a few monks to watch over them.
Temple wards. Sozin knew. They were boys who could not live with their parents, for whatever reason, and lived with the monks in their temples. The young Air Nomads gazed around them, awed by the sight of the Fire Nation Palace.
They are right to be awed. Sozin thought to himself. We are, without a doubt, the greatest nation that ever existed. How could their hidden temples, the Water Tribe's frozen wasteland, or the endless plains of the Earth Kingdom compare to the fierce volcanic beauty of the Fire Nation and her crown jewel?
But, still, the sight of the young boys gave him pause. The Avatar could be among them. Sozin realized. They were the proper age. And, not for the first time, he was filled with doubt about his plan to bring the Fire Nation to greatness. Of course, the Avatar had to be stopped for his plan to work, but the thought that he would have to destroy the Air Nomads to do it tormented him.
No. It is the only way. Sozin thought to himself. Roku proved it. The Avatar is only interested in his own vision of peace, with no regard that the Fire Nation had much to teach the other nations if they'd only let them. If a Fire Nation Avatar couldn't see it, than how could I expect an Air Nomad Avatar to do the same? Besides, the Avatar would only be eleven years old right now… twelve when the comet comes. The monks will not tell the world the Avatar's identity until he is sixteen, and by then the comet will have passed and it will be too late. The Avatar has to die, and for that, every Air Nomad has to die.
He knew that the other nations would hate him for a time if he killed off the Air Nomads. Perhaps he would even go down in history as the most hated of the Firelords. That was the price of mass genocide. But it was a burden that he was willing to shoulder if it meant the greatness of the Fire Nation could be seen throughout the world. He would gladly kill a quarter of the world's population or more if it was for the good of the Fire Nation.
He turned his attention back to the Air Nomad boys. The youngest boy of the group seemed to be nervous about jumping down off the back of the great Sky Bison that he rode. He was only about seven or eight years old, a novice. One of the older boys, having noticed the younger boy's plight, leapt onto the back of the Sky Bison with an Airbending-enhanced leap, and assisted the young boy to the ground.
Sozin imagined himself burning that young novice. He imagined grabbing that small child by the throat and squeezing until the light left his eyes, all the while watching the fear and terror in his eyes as he died. The thought sickened him, but he knew that he would end up doing worse things in his move against the Air Nomads. He would simply have to accept that fact.
The young novice, oblivious to the Firelord's evil thoughts about him, thanked the older boy for his assistance. It was only then that Sozin turned his attention to the older boy. He was shocked to see that, although he was dressed as an Air Nomad novice, he bore the tattoos of a Master Airbender. The boy could hardly be above the age of eleven or twelve, and yet he was the only Master among the children.
Could he be the Avatar? Sozin wondered to himself. He was the proper age, and if he was a Master Airbender so early, he had to be unique among his people.
For an insane moment, Sozin considered calling the boy to meet him. Perhaps he could get him to reveal something, prove that he is the Avatar, and kill him without having to kill all the other Nomads. But then Sozin pushed the thought aside. It was not like the boy would know if he was the Avatar. Roku had no idea that he was the Avatar until he was told on his sixteenth birthday. Sozin clearly remembered the look of shock on Roku's face when he'd been told. The boy's monk teachers would know, but it's not like they would reveal their secret to the Firelord. No, killing the boy would only give the Nomads reason to be suspicious of the Fire Nation one year before the comet. They would not be easily trapped. Surprise was Sozin's biggest strength at this point. The boy could not die at his hands, Avatar or not.
At that moment, Sozin realized that he had been staring at the young Master for too long, and the boy became aware that someone was watching him. He gazed around at his friends, but found that their attentions were elsewhere. At last, he located the source of the feeling. Even though Sozin was some distance away from the boy, the old Firelord could still see the boy's eyes finding his.
For several seconds, they stared at each other: the Firelord and an Air Nomad boy who was also a Master. And then, Sozin watched the fear develop in the boy's eyes and he instinctively took a small step away from the Firelord. Sozin realized that the boy was not just nervous about being stared at. There was genuine fear in his eyes.
For several seconds, the boy seemed frozen on the spot. And then one of his friends called out to him, and he responded. He gave the Firelord one last careful look before following his mentors and friends away.
You are right to fear me, boy, even though you don't know it yet. Sozin thought. Perhaps my actions will be viewed as a betrayal against the world, but it doesn't matter at this point. The Fire Nation will take its rightful place as the greatest nation in the world. For the Fire Nation, I'd do anything. For my Nation, I'll betray the world.
LES: Hope that you liked it!
Edit 9/11/2013: I know that a lot of people are confused about a few things, so I'll clear them up now. First of all, the young Airbending Master that Sozin spots is Aang. Secondly, the reason that Aang feels fear when he meets Sozin's eyes is mainly from Avatar Roku. It is generally accepted that when it comes to reincarnation, the younger the person is, the more past-life memories are present. Sozin was the cause of his immediate past life's death, having refused to save Roku from the volcano. Aang might not have a clear memory of the event, but there is enough of Roku's memories to cause him a moment of unease when he meets Sozin's eyes. I hope that explains a few things...