I own nothing.
"I need your help." Azula said as she looked over the small assemblage of people.
Need. A strange word to cross her lips
But then again, this was hardly a normal situation. For her, or for any of them.
Mai and Suki looked back at her, quietly waiting. At her side, Sokka sat, his arms folded. He hadn't been happy about this last minute change in plans, but Azula had managed to convince him to hear her out – at least to see if the other two agreed to it.
"Did Iroh give you some information?" In the gloom of the tent, Mai's face was impassive, but there was a gleam in her eye that indicated she knew – or at least suspected – what this was about.
Perhaps that was Azula's own fault. At this juncture, there weren't very many things that would make her act with such urgency.
"He told me where Ty Lee is being held." she confirmed with a nod. "But it's a prison ship that's normally on the move. It'll be docked… but only at the same time that the Comet arrives."
"You'd prefer to go rescue her over stopping the airships?" Suki frowned as she contemplated Azula.
"Not quite." Azula said at the same time Sokka shook his head.
"Ideally, it wouldn't be a time sensitive issue and we could leave it be until after the Comet," A brief pause. "Ideally."
"You're worried Ozai has standing orders about what to do with her if he's indisposed."
"My father would be vindictive enough to do it," she blew out a breath of air. "And if he thinks he can use it as leverage against me, he wouldn't hesitate."
How effective it would actually be as leverage, she left unsaid.
"Then, what?" Suki's frown had only deepened. "Did you call us here to go with you?"
"No," Mai straightened in her seat and as Azula shifted her gaze over, she nodded once. "You called us here to ask if we'd go in your place."
"It's about the distribution of our resources." She said by way of reply, placing a single hand on the wooden bench in front of her for emphasis. "The airships are the crux of their plan. And dedicating Firebenders to it during the height of the Comet's approach is, well. It's just the obvious move for when we need the firepower."
She hesitated, briefly. It had been a logical deduction, but she couldn't shake the worry that the next thing she said could be construed as an insult. Mai would probably accept it without comment, but she knew Suki could be prickly about her status as a warrior.
"And you think this job is a better fit for our abilities than trying to sabotage the airships." Thankfully, Suki had picked up the thread on her own, and if the wry look on her face was any indication, she hadn't taken the sentiment badly.
"The easiest way to disable the airships will be with bending," she confirmed. "But infiltrating the prison ship will have a greater focus on swift movement and being able to quickly disable the guards."
"I'll go." Mai said almost before Azula had finished speaking. "I'll find and rescue Ty Lee. Trust me."
"You're okay with this, Sokka?" Suki raised an eyebrow at their tactician, and she received a sigh and a shrug in response.
"I mean, I'd like to have everyone all on the same task. Can't hurt to over-prepare, you know? But she made a good point. With someone like Ozai, we may not have the luxury of focusing on one task at a time."
"The two of us, then." Mai shifted her gaze over to Suki.
"You're not coming with us?"
"Brains of the operation. Such as it is." Another shrug and a frustrated expression on his face.. "Not gonna pretend I'm not worried about sending just two of you, but-"
The tent flap behind them was drawn back, letting the soft light of the rising sun spill into the interior.
"I'll go too." A soft voice, yet carrying with it a confident air.
Azula couldn't quite keep the surprise from her face as she turned to look at the newcomer.
"I have a name," Katara kept her expression neutral as she settled herself on one of the empty benches. "And sorry for eavesdropping, but I wanted to know what had you looking so worried on the morning of our departure."
"I wasn't worr-" Azula cut herself off. No, that wasn't important. Not right now. "You're volunteering for this?"
"The airships will be in the skies. The only water I'd have access to are what's in my pouch and anything I can draw from the air around me," she drew in a breath. "This will be in a docked ship, correct? I'll be in my element – almost literally."
"I was hoping we'd have your healing available," the two siblings shared a quick look, before Sokka heaved out a sigh and raised his hands. "All right, we'll improvise. Not the first time!"
"You're certain you want to do this?" Don't look a gift horsecow in the mouth, but Azula couldn't help but confirm this. "You… don't even know Ty Lee."
Katara paused, turned back to face her
"She's your friend, isn't she?"
"Yes, but my point is, she isn't yours."
A shake of her head, and what might have been the beginning of a smile.
"You're one of us, Azula. If she's your friend, then this is our fight as well."
I'm not one of- The thought, instinctive, was in her mind and almost on her tongue when she quashed it and instead she nodded, once.
"All right then. Thank you… Katara."
The sun shone high in the sky overhead as Azula settled on a boulder as a seat, trying to use this brief break to calm herself down.
Lying on the ground beside her, hands tucked behind her head, Toph blew her bangs out of her eyes, a lazy, careless motion.
"What's it like?" she asked after a moment.
"What's what like?" She glanced over at Toph and kept her response short. Breathe deeply, breathe calmly...
"The Comet. The both of you have been jumpy since this morning. Since yesterday, really. And I doubt it's just nerves about throwing down with the big bad Fire Lord. So, what's it feel like, with it so close?"
She didn't reply immediately, instead reaching out with her hand. She observed her outstretched fingers for a moment, flexing them and feeling the muscles in her palm tighten.
"… It's akin to the feeling when I'm just about to release a lightning bolt. Except I can't actually send the energy out."
"Wow. I totally have a point of context for that."
"You asked. I answered." Azula lowered her hand and closed her eyes again.
"So why don't the rest of us get anything good, huh?"
"You Firebenders get a super powerup from the heavens. Literally!" One hand was raised and waved in what Azula surmised was supposed to be the vague direction of 'the heavens'. "Who thought that was a good idea, and why didn't they decide to spread the love a bit more?"
"This probably isn't a good time to recount the lectures I received on how Firebending is the closest of the arts to the pure Energybending practised in the age before man, is it?"
"Oof. Spare me."
"In any case, the Comet is a purely natural phenomenon that happens to align astonishingly well with our Firebending. It's not unthinkable there are similar phenomena that could boost other types of bending, but they just haven't been discovered yet." Another deep breath in.
"Hm. Wonder what'd it be that could give Earthbending a boost like that." Toph leaned forward and pushed herself into a sitting position. "Maybe a giant earthquake?"
Before Azula could ponder a reply, she heard Sokka's calling out.
"All right, everyone! Break's over! We need to make it to the airships before the Comet does! Up and at them!"
"Well," she remarked as she hopped down from the rock and glanced at Toph, who was likewise clambering to her feet. "We can worry about solving the Comet issue first. Then we can spend the next hundred years until it comes by again finding something to help the other poor, struggling bending schools."
A chuckle. "You're all heart, Princess."
The sun was just beginning to dip into the horizon as they approached the island and airship port Uncle had told them about. But as Zuko glanced up at the sky, the crimson glow in the atmosphere heralded the approach of an entirely different celestial body.
"In better times, I might have said it looks beautiful." Azula's voice behind had a thoughtful quality to it.
"Too bad Father's just concerned with the power it'll give him." He replied, his voice rough. "All right. We're almost there."
"Just in time. I can hear the engines. I think the fleet is taking off now."
He couldn't keep himself from grunting in exasperation. He'd known it would be a long shot to get to the airships before they were airborne, but he'd still held on to that hope.
Well, nothing for it. Increasing their pace, they were soon on the top of a hill – just as the first of the airships floated by.
"That's the nearest airship?" He could hear Toph demand. "Okay, hang on-"
"I'll get there myself, thanks." Azula took a running leap, and a burst of flame flared out under her feet – the raw power of the jump magnified manyfold. Zuko took a leap forward too, and while his flight was slightly less controlled than hers, he still made it onto the deck without much issue.
Beside him, Sokka landed with a thump and a groan, followed by Toph cannonballing into the deck a moment after.
"Okay, we're on the airship. What's the plan?" she asked as she pulled herself to her feet. "I kinda figured we'd start breaking things once we arrived, but I think that goes out the window a bit when the thing's already in the sky."
"We should probably seize control of the ship first, in case we need to change course on the fly." Zuko gestured in the direction of the bridge.
"Got it, lead the way."
"We'll need some way to clear the airship out once we do control it." Sokka's musings were soft, but Zuko could still hear them as he brought up the rear.
"Shave and a haircut!" Toph yelled before kicking the bridge door in. It buckled under the force of her blow, and then she was rolling forward, wrapping the metal around herself in a layer of makeshift armour. Azula charged in a moment after her, using her Firebending to disrupt the flames the bridge crew had fired at the Earthbender instead of summoning any herself.
And then she weaved to the side, narrowly avoiding a volley of stone pellets that had been shot at her.
"Starting to regret bringing them back with you?" He swung out with his foot, trying to rein himself in as much as possible. Even this small action resulted in a wave of roaring flame that knocked the Dai Li agent off his feet.
"Don't get me started."
Meanwhile, Toph had charged the captain and the two guards flanking him. As they instinctively got into defensive stances, she lunged forward – and the metal encasing her twisted off her body, wrapping up the trio and slamming them into the ground.
"And stay down." Toph snapped as she stepped over their struggling bodies. "All right, we have the controls. Now what?"
"Give me a moment. Is this the announcement system?" Sokka said as he twisted a knob connected to a speaker.
"All right, then here goes nothing." Grabbing the speaker, he leaned in close, trying to muffle his voice to sound deeper. "Attention crew, this is your captain speaking. Will everyone please report to the bomb bay immediately. Repeat, will everyone report to the bomb bay immediately. We've a very special birthday to-"
"There is no way that is going to work," Azula muttered as she folded her arms and glanced out the windows to check their positions relative to the other airships.
"I cannot believe that worked," Azula grumbled as she grabbed the throttle, pushing the ship forward as fast as it would go.
"I know!" At her side, Sokka shared her surprise, although he was markedly happier about it.
"There are dozens of systems that need to be constantly monitored on these things. Even if there was a birthday celebration you're not supposed to leave your posts just for that!"
"Father will be at the flagship." Zuko cut in in an attempt to get them to focus. "He'll definitely want to be the one dealing the first blow, so he'll be there."
Azula's narrowed gaze made it clear she'd gotten the same idea, but as she shifted her weight, another voice cut in.
"We don't need to go after Ozai first, you know? If we knock out enough airships they'll have to call the attack off." Sokka said even as he a steady hand on the wheel. "With the two of you having juiced-up Firebending, and Toph's Metalbending, we should be able to wreck a bunch of them, easy."
"Yeah, but he's the head honcho, and from what you've told me he's like, the strongest Firebender in the world, right?" Toph snorted. "We don't go to him, he'll still come for us. And saving the Earth Kingdom is nice and all but I think he'd take burning us all down instead as a nice consolation prize."
A moment of silence, aside from the steady thrum of the airship's engines. And then Azula nodded once.
"All right. You all deal with the airships. I'll distract Father."
"What?" Zuko's head snapped around to face her.
"At least one Firebender should focus on the airships, along with Toph. Sokka has… many talents, but 'capable of standing up to a Comet-empowered Father' is not one of them."
"You know, I agree entirely with what you just said, but somehow I still feel offended."
"Azula, you don't think Father is going to hold back or anything like that for you, right? Once he thinks you're no more use to him, he'll go for the kill on you as easily as he would anyone else."
"You think I don't know Father well enough by now?" She returned his glare before her expression softened slightly. "It'll be fine. I just need to stall until you're done – or maybe just until the Comet leaves."
He found his fists clenching.
What he wanted to say collided head on with what he knew to be true – and the fact that they were running out of time.
And so, he simply nodded once.
"Be safe, Az."
"Sock him in the face for me!" Toph followed up.
A smile, so slight it almost wasn't there, and then Azula had taken off, dashing out onto the deck.
"All right, we've got a fleet to wreck, and no time like the present." Toph grinned and punched one fist into the other. "Let's get to work!"
Azula leaped forward, letting her flames propel her forward with each massive jump she took from airship to airship. She could see members of the crews, necks craned and fingers pointing as they spotted her, but she was already surging past them almost before they had time to react.
And then she had landed on the deck of the flagship, her boots finding purchase on solid metal. Without looking up, she knew a half-dozen Royal Firebenders were around her.
They were alert – but not in a fighting position, and so she straightened up without launching at attack of her own.
"Here to stop me?" she inquired. 'As if you could' was unsaid and understood by everyone.
"Fire Lord Ozai has instructed us to allow you passage to him should you arrive." The closest Firebender responded.
She didn't bother to rein in her snort. "Well then. Out of my way."
In moments, she was at the bow of the airship. Father – Fire Lord Ozai stood there, arms folded behind his back as he stared down at the vastness of the world below him. Distantly Azula noted that they were no longer above the ocean.
"Can you feel it, Azula?" He did not turn back to face her. "The comet is here. Its power is here. We now stand at the apex of the world."
She knew her father didn't really want a reply. But the longer he spent talking, the more time her friends had to wreak havoc on the airships. And so she opened her mouth.
"I feel it. In all honesty, it's a bit unpleasant."
A sound from him that might have been a snort of amusement. "And where is your brother? Still skulking in the shadows? Still relying on you to fight his battles?"
"Well, I can hardly blame him for not wanting to see you again. Of your two children, I am the one you didn't scar, so perhaps I simply have more lingering affection in my heart for our father than he does."
It felt almost familiar. Speaking to her father again. Measuring all her words carefully.
Only this time, she wanted to poke and prod. Incite his annoyance and anger – at her.
"Actions have consequences." She let a sardonic smile pass her face. "Who would have guessed?"
And at this, Ozai did turn to face her, his expression studiously neutral.
"Consequences." His voice was dry. "So you have come this far, and still, you understand nothing."
She almost expected him to attack her then and there. Or perhaps even to turn to face forward, hurl fire down at the forests far below, showing his utter contempt and dismissal of her.
Neither happened. He merely continued to stare at her for a long moment as the wind howled around them.
"What is power to you, Azula? What makes someone like me or you powerful?" Without waiting for a reply, he shrugged. "Is it bending? Physical strength? Perhaps our bloodline?"
"All of those things, and more." She dropped the false insouciance and scowled up at him. "You drummed that into my head often enough, father."
"And yet, after all that, you appear to have missed the heart of it." Ozai raised one hand, and finally, a ball of flame flared in it.
It would be impossible to spot that tiny fire from any of the other airships, but at that instant, Azula felt a surge, a flow of energy erupting from all around her.
Firebending. Soldiers across all the airships, all at once.
"Let us say that one day, I go for a walk into the capital to survey my domain. A man, heedless of his surroundings, crashes into me. I take it for the insult that it is. At the same time in a town somewhere on the outskirts, a peasant man crashes into another, and the latter flies into a rage.
"The same impropriety. The same anger. Yet my wrath could see his homestead razed to the ground, and his life forfeit, while the peasant's rage would only be considered ridiculous overreaction. And what is the difference?"
The fire in his palm flared, reaching up to wrap around Ozai, cloaking him in living flame – all with no apparent exertion on his part.
"The difference is that I, am powerful. And that peasant, is not."
His voice was a low growl, barely audible over the wind and the roar of flame. His cloak and tunic were rapidly burning way, leaving his torso bare.
"That is power. The ability to impose your will upon the world around you. The Fire Nation ascends, because I wish it. And the Earth Kingdom will burn, because I demand it."
He clenched his fist, extinguishing the flame. And then, a crackling roar rose around Azula, and she could see, in the periphery of her vision, gouts of flame blasting forth, tearing down into the earth below.
She resisted the urge to turn her gaze towards them.
Trust in Zuko. Trust in Toph.
Trust in her friends.
"Shape the world, or let the world shape you and be torn to nothing, scraps amongst the masses. Consider this my last lesson to you, daughter."
She took a deep breath, let it out again, and nodded once.
"I see. I think I do understand, after all."
"And what is it that you understand, Azula?"
"That you give good speeches. Shape the whole world to your will, is it?" She raised and lowered one shoulder. "Don't let myself be moulded by others? You're telling this to me after you spent my whole life shaping me into what I am today. I was your perfect daughter, Ozai."
Another pause. Well, she could be theatrical when the situation called for it, she supposed.
"And in all honesty, thank you for that."
It was always rare when she could catch her father completely off guard, and so her smile was genuine.
"I am what you made me." Before he could respond to that, she plunged ahead. "And I am what Zuko made me. What Ty Lee and Mai made me. What Toph and the Avatar and his companions made me. What that tea-loving kook of an Uncle made me. And yes, what mother made me."
She lowered her hands. Shifted the centre of her weight. She knew her father had caught those movements.
"You keep speaking about never changing and never yielding to others as if that's something to be proud of. I understand, father. I really do. When someone challenges me, I push back. I might not change my mind. I might not change hers. But I grow that way. I gain that way.
"But what about you? The world irritates me, so I'll just demand the whole world to change to suit me? That's the way a child thinks. Or is that what you've mistaken for authority, sitting alone behind that barrier of flames?"
Another timeless moment of silence.
"You're scared. Scared that there are parts of the world that won't simply kowtow to you for existing. And so you seek to grasp more power. If you cannot make them listen, you'll burn them away instead. Will this be enough? Will turning the Earth Kingdom into ashes satisfy you, Fire Lord?" Never taking her eyes of him she shook her head once. "We both know it won't. Because, even with all the power in the world-"
A pause, for just a bare, brief moment.
"You are still weak."
Ozai's eyes narrowed, slightly. Almost imperceptibly.
"You've gotten better at giving speeches as well, Azula." He nodded once. "And it would be even more effective-"
The attack came without warning, a blaze of hellish red scything across the deck of the airship, tearing through where Azula had been a moment ago.
She dodged, raised her hands, firing off a burst of fire in turn. Her attack was batted aside, the flames crashing into the floor around them, blue light splashing with the red that now stained the deck.
"-if you believed a word of what you were saying."
I've struck a nerve, then.
A torrent of fire blasted out, forcing Azula backwards, but he was trying to corral her, and there was less and less space for her to move across the ruined deck of the airship.
And then she felt the railings of the ship pressing against her back, and she took a deep breath.
"And one more thing. I am no longer a mere Fire Lord."
The curtain of fire raging around her parted, and there he stood, bathed in the fiery light of the comet.
One hand was raised above his head, and a towering pillar of flame sprouted up from his palm, ready to be brought crashing down like a bludgeon onto Azula.
"Henceforth, you will address me as Phoenix King Ozai."
"That's one!" Toph yelled as she twisted the rudder, locking the ship into a collision course with the one next to it. Her ability to sense metal that she wasn't touching still wasn't at the level she'd wanted it to be, but it was kind of hard to miss the giant hulking mass next to hers regardless.
"Great! Then we – ooh boy."
"What is it?" Couldn't be more guards. Toph didn't sense anyone approaching.
"That is a lot of fire." Sokka said by way of reply.
"And the Fire Lord, from the looks of it. There's some blue – but not a lot."
"That means she's doing her job." Toph said and pointed to the exit. "And she's counting on us to do ours! Keep moving! We gotta get to the next airship before this one crashes!"
She felt Sokka's nod, and as they turned away, Toph noticed the third member of their party was still standing still.
He didn't turn to face them.
"You two go on ahead."
And before Toph could reply, Zuko had taken off running.
Getting a crash course on not-quite-flight with Firebending was something Azula hadn't planned on today. But life, she supposed, never quite stopped getting in the way.
Jumping off the airship had been the only way to reliably evade the attack her father had aimed at her. And he had to have known that too, which was why he had jumped after her barely a moment after she had leapt off herself.
Angling her body, she fired off a single blast of a fire from her feet, propelling herself onto a rocky pillar.
A moment later, Ozai landed on another pillar above her.
Above them, the airship was slowly being swallowed up by the conflagration they had caused.
"I thought you needed those." She inclined her head to indicate his ruined flagship.
"Everything is replaceable. You should have learned that by now."
Twin lances of flame rocketed at her, tearing gaping holes in the stone she had been standing a moment prior.
The terrain around them was rocky, filled with cliffs, pillars and boulders. Plenty of places for her to duck and weave through, breaking Ozai's line of sight to her.
Another blast, aimed at her. Azula swung her hand up, and a wall of a blue fire surged forth, diverting enough of the attack that she was able to block the blow with her hands.
She was still sent staggering back, and several precious seconds were needed for her to regain her footing.
Another rain of fire, carving through the terrain, seeking to flush her out of her hiding spaces.
Another leap, this time using her hands to Firebend herself through the air.
She whirled and threw fire in an arc, blue crashing messily against red as she twisted, controlled her wild tumble into a crouching land that sent a shock through her knees.
Ozai was behind her. But by the time she turned to face him, she knew he would have moved.
And so she spun, scything her leg through the air and letting a wave of fire jet out across the terrain.
At the same time, she cupped her hand, and a fireball sprouted in it.
Her wave of blue fire was met with a burst of orange-red that cut through it. And then father was leaping at her as Azula hurled her second attack-
Fire flared from his feet, and he had already jetted out of the way.
"I taught you everything you know, Azula!"
He was closer now, another wave of blazing flame coming at her.
No time to dodge.
Raising her hands, she summoned her own blast of fire to counter it, both streams of fire flaring up and chewing up the land around them.
She was being pushed back. She was never going to match her father in a contest of raw strength. Her only option would be to divert the blast just enough to leap out of the way when she was overpowered, but that would leave her open-
A third blast of fire lanced out, chopping through Ozai's attack and dissipating it.
Her brother jumped forward again, punching rapidly and sending attack after attack at Ozai. He leapt back too as he summoned a wall of flame to block the flurry of attacks.
"Are you all right?"
"I thought you were supposed to deal with the airships," was her reply.
"I wasn't going to leave you."
She let out a breath of air and found a smile on her face.
"… Thanks, Zuzu."
"And here you are too." Ozai's voice was a disinterested drawl as he stepped forward, hands already raised to call forth another attack. Yet, there was also a smirk on his face. "We once faced each other like this, didn't we, Zuko?"
Zuko did not reply, save for shifting into his own combat stance.
Ozai's smirk only grew.
"Well, at least you won't die a coward."
A screech of tortured metal sounded through the air as another airship was forced into a collision. Slowly, it began to sink, no longer able to remain airborne.
Through the smoke and the flames, one could spot the figure of an Airbender, flying towards land with all the speed he could muster.
Standing on the rocky shore, Ozai had to admit that his children worked well together.
Neither were a match for him individually. And so they covered for each other. Azula, darting here and there, harrying him with constant attacks. Zuko, using some strange form and style he didn't recognize, doing all he could to push back against his strikes.
They did their best to harmonize their attacks in a steady rhythm, making it difficult for him to focus and pin down one of them.
If he kept his attention on one, the other would be moving, swooping around to flank him and catch him by surprise.
He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised. That was how people fought when they had no chance of standing up to a direct fight.
But this was wasting time, and he had things to be doing.
He spread his arms out at the same time that he breathed fire – three snaking columns of flame roared out, twisting and converging on the spot where Zuko was. Immediately, he spun, kicking and sending a wave of flame to where Azula was as well.
Both of them leapt out of the way – their attention taken off him for a brief moment.
He focused on his inner energies, felt his chi split apart, come together again -
His first bolt of lightning was for Azula. To her credit, she had already recovered and jumped out of the way. But lightning travelled faster than flame did, and the impact of the blast was close enough to stagger her, knocking her off balance.
He drew back his other arm, preparing a second bolt he knew she wouldn't be able to dodge, and-
Another blue light shone from behind him.
He whirled, instinctively throwing his arms up to ward off an attack even as he twisted to dodge-
Pain crackled across his arm.
He saw Zuko standing there, arm still outstretched, looked down at his left forearm – an angry red burn wound from the lightning's glancing blow.
No, he had avoided it. But the Comet's power had amplified the sheer might of the attack and-
He had been wounded.
By the boy.
Rage sharpened his focus. He lashed out with his leg, another stream of flame the boy was forced to evade. His attention had been taken off Ozai again.
A foolish mistake.
A fatal mistake.
He thrust his arm out and the second lightning bolt tore through the air. Time seemed to slow down. He could see the boy's eyes widen as he realized his error, a moment too late to do anything about it. And then-
"ZUKO!" A red blur appearing in front of the boy, at a speed that was almost inhuman.
The force of the blast threw Azula back, and she slammed hard against a boulder. She fell to the ground, body jerking and shuddering.
And suddenly, there was silence.
The boy was staring at his sister, mouth hanging open as he tried to process what he had just seen.
She had chosen that fate, of her own accord.
She had thrown everything away, specifically to shield her useless brother.
It was almost poetic.
No matter. It was time to finish this.
He turned to Zuko – the fool wasn't even looking at him any more – took a step forward-
Something was wrong.
The fires were ranging around them, the familiar smell of ash and burnt wood.
The Comet was still overhead. The raw energy of it still flooded his body.
There was another sensation in the air. Something that felt like…
He swung about to face the girl-
Golden eyes snapped open.
And the bolt of lightning blazed silver-white as it was returned.
Her form had been atrocious.
She could hear Li and Lo's voice in her head, reminding that her outstretched arm should be perfectly straight to regulate the flow of energy, not bent and barely pointed in the correct direction.
She should have been standing, knees bent to absorb the shock of the release, not lying in a crumpled heap on the ground.
She should have been looking at her target before the attack, to make sure her aim was true.
And while not a part of her lessons, she knew she should have been able to seize on and retain more of the lightning blast's power, not letting most of it dissipate into the air before she had been able to wrest control of it.
And she definitely shouldn't have held onto it for so long, letting the cold fire wreak havoc on her body before releasing it again.
But she had managed to catch her father by surprise, strike him with it, and send him flying backwards.
And as she watched, she saw a boy – the Avatar – come to a landing right in front of Ozai, his face determined.
So, it would have to be enough.
She closed her eyes, and let darkness wash away the pain.
Happy New Year!
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