The Return @tubendo
Chapter 18

The first thing Ty Lee noticed when she woke up was the coldness on the left side of her body; it immediately confused her, and when she opened her eyes, she realised that she wasn't in her bed, but instead she was lying on a cold, metal floor. For a few moments, she thought that she might have accidentally rolled off of her bed, but she noticed she had no blanket over her body. She glanced around, and noticed that the room she was in was far different to her room, and was some kind of cell; she hadn't been into the prison hold on the ship, but she knew that was all it could be. It made no sense to her that she was in a prison cell, when she hadn't done anything wrong. Rising up to her feet, she noted that her left arm felt a little numb, though she guessed that was because she had been lying on top of it.

She her gaze to the door of the cell, which she could see through and noted that through the bars she could see another person, also lying on the floor; though it took her a few moments to realise, but it was Azula, with her long black hair down, splayed across the floor, covering her face. She didn't look to be hurt, but her hands were bound with thick metal shackles, which themselves were bound to a chain which lay behind her, connected to the wall; the acrobat's hands were free, however, and she whacked them on the bars of her cell which made a loud ringing noise- she just hoped that her friend would wake from it, and not continue to sleep in her cell.

"Azula!" she called out to her friend, "Azula, wake up!" she pleaded, hoping that her voice would rouse her from her sleep; she groaned, and blinked a few times, shaking her head to get her hair out of her eyes.

"What the..." she mumbled, glancing around, noting that Ty Lee was in a prison cell, right across from her, "What the fuck is going on?"

"That's exactly what I wanna know." she agreed with her line of questioning, turning her head, trying to look down along through the prison hold, unable to see any guards standing around, "How- what happened?"

"I..." the Princess mumbled and narrowed her eyes, "I don't know." she admitted the honest truth, "I went to bed last night in my bed, and I was going to sleep and..."

"And?" she asked her friend, whose eyes narrowed as she glanced around, trying to look into the other cells.

"I smelt smoke. I didn't think much of it, and then I fell asleep." she explained her memories, which sounded rather vague; that wasn't a good thing- if they didn't know why or how they'd ended up in prison cells, then they wouldn't be able to figure out what was going on.

"This isn't like the kind of smoke from an engine, is it?" she asked her, the Princess shaking her head, turning her gaze away, looking almost confused by her own thoughts.

"No, a different kind. Pungent, almost like burning refuse." she described it, before she rose up, "There's no time to waste sitting here. Whatever happened... it had to be Zhao. He's the only one with the authority to throw us in these cells to begin with."

"And now... now he's got a working airship, and all those men." Ty Lee realised, a shiver going down her spine as she understood what might happen.

"He's going to do it... and we can't stop him." she noted with a growing tone of fear, the Princess snarling.

"No, Ty Lee, we can stop him, I've just gotta get out of these damn shackles." she declared, before pursing her lips upward, "The airship might be a safer, more discreet way to reach his goal, but this battleship is no joke."

"What... are you saying we should sail it to the Northern Water Tribe's Capital?" she asked her friend, who nodded.

"We have no other option, Ty." she confirmed, before glancing around, "Are any of you down there?!" she shouted out, a few mumbles and murmurs being made out; that assured them that the guards were in nearby cells, and thus, could be broken out when they themselves found a way out of their cells.

"It's still dark in here." the acrobat observed an obvious fact; the only light in the prison was coming from what must have been some lanterns down the hallway, though she couldn't see them from inside her cell, "Maybe the sun hasn't even risen yet." she noted, before smirking, "Zhao might still be asleep."

"No, I doubt he'd be foolish enough to waste his time. He'll be heading out soon, or already in the air." she noted, "Firebenders wake with the sun... so I'm inclined to believe you're right. I only woke up because of your shouting." she clarified, pursing her lips upward, "We still have time."

"What can I do?" she asked her friend, who turned her head around, eyeing the chains that bound her hands, which had tied around her lower back.

"I can't see what I'm doing." she noted, before eyeing the door in front of her, "I might be able to melt the door open, but it'll take some effort, and I need to break these chains so I can reach them." she observed the steps she'd need to take to get out of her cell.

Once she did that, she could melt and break her own door open, and then Ty Lee could hopefully deal with whatever guards were around; whether they'd even dare to oppose the Princess was a question in and of itself, but she assumed that many of the men aboard were personally loyal to the Admiral.

"Well, I guess you better start, Azula." she warned her friend, "We can't let him get too far ahead, right?" she asked her; her steely glare of determination assured her that she was going to do everything it took to win, despite her dishevelled appearance.

She could hear the sound of a flame being lit on her finger tip, and a few grumblings as she tried to reorient her hands around so she could melt the chain. The Princess took a deep breath, and closed her eyes, before she breathed out, the blue flame behind her growing more intense and brighter; though Ty Lee couldn't see exactly what she was doing, she could tell that the flame was hot, given the fact that the glow was so bright, lighting up the entire hallway a dim blue.

She grit her teeth, the heat from the flames obviously quite close to her hands, and the shackles that were binding them; the acrobat looked sympathetically at her friend, knowing that she might inadvertently hurt herself by melting the chain. She continued to tug and pull on the shackles, and eventually, there was a metallic thump as the chain broke and part of it fell down to the ground.

"You got it!" she grinned at her friend, placing her hands on the bars of her cell, "Now, you just need to turn around and melt the lock."

"I know that." she snarled, before taking a deep breath; she obviously didn't want to get angry at her friend- there was somebody else who was far more deserving of her anger, "Tell me when I've got the right spot and I'll make a new flame." she requested, the acrobat nodding, watching as her friend turned around, standing up to her full height and raised her arms up behind her, pointing her hands toward the door.

"Okay, move a little to... your right." she clarified, remembering that their rights and lefts were the same, given she was facing away from her; she stepped to the right, and then pushed herself closer to the door, grasping out to try and touch the lock.

She tapped on it, and Ty Lee smirked, "Yep, that's it." she confirmed, her friend taking another deep, audible breath through her mouth, before she lit four torches on the ends of the fingers on her right hand.

With each breath she took, the flames grew more intense, and they began to heat up the metal lock; the lock was large, and looked to be relatively intricate, but that didn't stop her from digging her torches into the gap between the lock and the doorway, which allowed her to melt what must have been the metal bar that would have held the door in place. She kept her fingers there for a good half a minute, before stepping back, charging a fire blast in her hands.

"Look away." she demanded of her friend, who did just that, not wanting to get blinded by the fire blast she was about to send into the door.

She covered her face, and she felt the heat of the fire blast, as well as the creaking and cracking noise of the door being blown open. She turned her eyes back toward the door, seeing as her friend turned around, looking at her through the open doorway.

"What in the name of the spirits was that?!" she heard a man shout out, pacing down the hallway; the Princess immediately turned to face the origin of the voice, and grit her teeth.

"Stand down! I am your Fire Lord!" she demanded of him, through the fact that her posture only grew more tense suggested otherwise; her feet were bound, so she was unsure what Azula was going to do.

"Get back in the cell! I won't say it twice!" the guard demanded; she couldn't see him, but she assumed that he was taking a firebending form.

She snarled and began a somersault, before disappearing from Ty Lee's field of view; she was confused by what her friend was doing, but as she saw the light of blue flames, she realised what she had actually tried to do- orient herself best to shoot the guard in the chest with her flames. The grunt she heard in the distance, and the banging noise of his body hitting the floor suggested her bending did the trick. Azula groaned, before pulling herself back up to her feet. She seemed to struggle because of her bound hands and feet, but slowly rose up, and turned back to look her friend's way.

She hobbled over toward her friend, and narrowed her eyes, "That hurt my back." she simply commented, before tilting her chin up, "Get out of the way, Ty." she warned her, the acrobat stepping back as moving to the corner of the room, wanting to be as far away from the door as she could be when the Princess blew it open.

She took a few deep breaths, and then moved her hands into position, creating her jets of fire once more, carving her fingertips into the metal; they seemed to be even hotter and brighter than before, though she assumed that was because her friend was getting angrier- or perhaps it was more afraid. She sounded like she was struggling to keep her breath steady as the metal grew hotter, to the point at which she could see a red hot glow. The Princess then let out a deep breath, and she turned her head; she looked like she had heard something, though the acrobat hadn't noticed anything herself.

"Somebody heard him hit the floor." she observed, "Shit." she snarled, before charging a fireball in her hands; it grew larger with each following breath she took, now shorter and more erratic, which definitely had to do with the fact she was panicking.

She fired the blast into Ty Lee's door, and once again, she heard a cracking noise; the door moved open, and she grinned, realising that she could leave her cell; she moved forward, waiting for the door to move out of the way, not wanting to touch the bars, which had been inadvertently heated up by her friend's intense firebending.

"Get the keys, now!" Azula demanded, rather abruptly, and she immediately looked down the hallway, noting that there were three guards, ready to fight them; her friend had been right- they had heard them, and if she didn't beat them, they'd just throw Azula back in her cell, and presumably, knock her out as well.

She charged forward, racing toward the unconscious guard, while the other three moved toward her, drawing out flames into their hands. She had two options- either to hope Azula could unlock herself and quickly deal with their enemies if she threw her the keys, or to immediately try and chi-block the guards and hope they didn't burn or overpower her. She decided that she'd go with the latter, and ran at them with her hands at the ready; she was tired, and a little out of it, but she knew that she could do it- she had to.

When the closest guard moved to punch her, she grasped his wrist, and jabbed him in the gut; to her frustration, her chi-blocking didn't go through his armour, which meant she'd need to jab his uncovered chi-paths, which consisted solely of his neck and and arms. She didn't have much time to think as his right hand hammered her right in the side of the face. She grasped at the metal bars to her left, ensuring that she didn't slam her head into them, before she was forced to weave down, lest she receive a fireball to the head. She jabbed the guard in his left arm, paralysing it before she jabbed him right in the jugular; that didn't block his chi, but he did stumble back, wheezing for air.

She kicked him square in the chest, facing off the next guard, who tried to hit her in the head with his flame covered right fist; she whacked his hand, blocking his chi and preventing him from bending with it. He obviously realised it was going to occur, as he tripped her over with his left leg before aiming to send a charged fire blast from his left hand. She then rolled out of the way, before kicking him in the shin. He grunted in pain, but didn't fall over; that didn't matter to her, as she then got up, and punched him as hard she could in the head. He was too slow, and was hit square in the chin, and knocked out cold. She smirked, turning her gaze to the final guard, who realised he'd be better off running and getting back up.

"Don't even think about it." she warned him, before jumping up and kicking him the chest, throwing him back.

When she landed back on her feet, she jabbed him in both of his arms, blocking his chi-paths which prevented him from bending, before she grasped him by the neck and threw him into a nearby metal bar, knocking him out cold. She smirked, and turned back to face Azula, who seemed to approve of her quick work of the guards.

"Now, for the love of your country, get the damn keys, Lee!" she demanded, the acrobat doing just that; she knelt over, reaching to the belt of one of the guards, and pulled out his key chain.

She eyed it, understanding that she would need to try a few before she'd unlock her friend's bindings, before moving back to Azula; she turned around, showing off her bound hands, which she immediately got to work on untying. She tried each key, and it began to frustrate her with each that didn't fit in the lock. Eventually, she found the right one, and the metal shackles fell down to the ground, the Princess sighing with relief; she then took a deep breath and charged up two jets of fire on her fingertips, which she used to cut the shackles binding her feet. Without any more restraints, the Princess stretched her arms up, her hands filling with flames, which lit up the prison hold, as well as her face, an ominous blue hue.

"Finally." she grinned, the look on her face one of devious desire; she wanted to get back at Zhao, that was what she could be sure of, "Unlock the guards' cells, and get their shackles off."

"What are you going to do?" she asked the Princess, who punched her open palm; the cold look on her face suggested she was ready to do anything to stop the Admiral.

"I'm going to get this ship moving in the right direction."

"You can't beat everyone on board." she argued, "Even you can't do that. You'll need some help." she argued, the Princess nodding.

"Oh, I won't need to. I just need to find the toughest men here, beat their arses, and the rest of them will fall in line." she declared, before striding down the hallway, "Be quick, Ty Lee. We need to take control of this ship if we want a chance of getting after the Admiral."

She immediately turned her heels, and made her way down the hallway, moving to the first occupied cell she could find; she struggled to find which key was the right one, but eventually, she did find it. She unlocked the door to the cell, and the guard rose up, unable to get to his full height with his hands bound, just as Azula's had been.

"That was quick." he commented, tilting his head up so he could look her in the eyes, "Could you unlock my hands?"

"That's what I'm here to do." she nodded, stepping around him so she could crouch down to unlock the bindings; she had figured out which kind of key was for bindings and which was for doors, so that cut down the time it took her to get the correct key- only four tries.

Once the shackles were off, the soldier turned his eyes to face her, "I can go get some other keys and help you unlock the other cells." he explained, before eyeing down to his feet, "Oh, can you unlock those too?" he asked, the acrobat nodding, kneeling over to check through the keys once more.

She hadn't unlocked feet bindings before, but she assumed they used the same keys as the hand bindings. She was correct, and the shackles fell off with just one try; she smirked approvingly, rising up to her feet, the guard pulling a similar face at her own.

"Let's break everyone else out." he told her simply what they had to do.

She immediately moved to the next cell, and suddenly heard what had to be the sound of Azula generating lightning on the floor above them; she cringed upon feeling the explosion, which rocked the ship. She immediately moved to the next cell, and unlocked the door within five tries; stepping inside, she knelt over beside the guard, who seemed relieved to be next.

"The Princess is going to destroy them." he mumbled, Ty Lee making an affirmative humming in agreement.

She got his feet shackles unlocked in three tries, and again, the same key was used to unlock the hand shackles; he stepped on out of the doorway, and turned to face the other guard, "Zheng!" he called out to him, "Give me some keys!" he asked of the other guard, who was presently rummaging through the belts of the unconscious prison-guards, picking up some keys for himself.

He tossed some keys to the guard, who then immediately moved to unlock one of his comrades' cells; the acrobat went to the other side of the hallway, and noted that the Captain was the one sitting in the cell before her.

"It's not daybreak yet." he spoke up, turning his gaze up; his hair was dishevelled, just like Azula's was, but that didn't take away from the serious expression he had on his face, "There's a chance he hasn't even left yet."

Four tries, and the door was open, "And we'll take it, Captain." she assured him, "Just stay still so I can get these bindings off quickly." she asked, Renshu nodding, staying still as requested; it took her three tries to get the shackles off of his hands, and immediately moved to get his hand bindings off.

He rose up to his feet, and instead of moving to get some keys, like the other guards had he immediately moved to a locked door, charging an jet of bright flames on his fingertips, the heat radiating brightly, and used it to slash right through the lock of the door, and kicked the door open. Ty Lee smiled, glad that he had a quicker way to deal with the locked doors, though she still moved along the hallway, moving to the closest locked down and getting to work. She pulled out the keys once more, memorising which she had already used for the doors, and was able to get the door open in five tries; the guard looked up at her with a relieved expression, and she knelt over to first unlock his feet shackles. It took four tries, and she then did the same for his hand shackles.

Suddenly she heard a shout down the hallway, and immediately got up, along with the guard she had just freed, noticing that there four men standing by the end of the hallway, ready to attack them. They got into firebending stances, but she wasn't surprised to see them knocked back by two simultaneous fire streams coming from the guards; she'd seen them during practice and knew that they were no joke- only the best of the best would be assigned to protect Azula. The guards still fought back, but Ty Lee tried to ignore them, knowing that getting everyone out of their cells was far higher a priority than kicking some butts. She felt annoyed over what happened, but she was sure that her friend was furious; she would be giving as many sailors as possible a beatdown. She moved along to the next cell, pulling out the keys once more, and trying each of them. She cringed from the heat of the flames being thrown their way, though the guards seemed to be able to disperse any attacks well enough. She got the door unlocked, and the guard inside immediately moved up.

"Just do my hands." he told her, the acrobat nodding, and quickly moving around behind him to test the keys out; she assumed that he was going to do the same thing as Azula had.

It took five tries, but she did it; with that, the guard immediately pulled his hands together, drawing heat toward them, before he directed it downward in a thin, but hot arc of flames, which cut the foot shackles in two. She moved to step out of the cell, and realised that the guards had already opened up each of the cells, with either keys or their bending, and used the latter mostly to break their comrades' shackles.

She heard the Captain's voice rise up, "Is that everyone?" he asked, not getting any shouts from a potentially imprisoned guard, before he gestured down the hallway, where she could see their attackers already knocked unconscious, "Let's go! We need to take control of the bridge!"

She smirked, and felt the same relief Azula must have once she had her bindings taken off; they were finally going to get to the bottom of their situation, and hopefully, stop Zhao from achieving his insane spirit-slaying goals. She shook her head, knowing she was wrong in the way she had considered it; there was no 'hopefully' stopping Zhao- they would do it, or they would not. She trusted that her friend would do everything in her power to prevent that outcome from becoming reality. She darted down the hallways, weaving past the Princess' guards; she was far faster on her feet, and she'd use that to her advantage.

When she reached the doorway, she noted that it was open, and she immediately made her way through, taking note of the unconscious sailors that lay over the hallway, with singe marks on their clothes and burns on their skin; Azula had already beaten them well, and she ignored them, making her way toward where she thought the stairwell would be. They all seemed to be located around the middle of each deck, with one staircase underneath the superstructure, leading all the way up to the bridge, and a few more located along the length of the massive battleship. She made her way along, hearing the sound of thumps and shouts above her; the Princess was giving the sailors an absolute beating, given that none of them could possibly beat her head on.

When she found a staircase, she immediately paced up them, where she saw a few sailors; they weren't benders, but that didn't matter- they were armed. She jabbed one of them in the extremities, forcing him to drop his sword, before she kicked him in the chest, throwing him into the wall. His comrade tried to jab her with the pike he held, but she was able to easily dodge it, and jammed her fingers into his chi-paths, ensuring that he would drop his weapon. She didn't bother to kick him down or throw him into the wall, simply making her way past him. A fire stream was sent his way by one of Azula's guards a few moments later, throwing him back, by the time she had already climbed up to the next deck. She didn't see much evidence of fighting by the entrance to those stairs, and thus deduced her friend had climbed up to the next floor.

She made her way up the stairs, where she saw a few unconscious sailors, slumped over with burns over their extremities. She grimaced at the sight, but tried to ignore it as she continued up the stairs, noting that there was a trail of destruction, that being evidence of Azula. She immediately strode down the hallway, and noted some fearful servants in their undergarments, who ran right past her, obviously trying to get away from the most dangerous person on the ship. Ty Lee continued along, making her way toward what she assumed was the rear of the ship; there was a broken doorway in front of her, which she assumed had been blown open by her friend's lightning. She reached another staircase, and noted the presence of some more knocked out men; who were wearing full armour, though their helmets had been thrown off.

She called up the stairs, "Zula!" to no avail, assuming that her friend was already making her way well up the staircase; perhaps she'd gone for the deck, which was where the airship was- she knew it must have already left, but she had a good reason to at the very least try and see if it hadn't left yet.

Following the trail, she made her way up the staircase, hearing some of Azula's guards pacing up behind her; she kept a steady pace, making her way up the stairs, where she saw a number of unconscious sailors, and eventually reached the level of the deck of the ship. She immediately glanced down the hallway; she was forced to lean back as a blue fire stream funnelled down the hallway, and a man was thrown back to the ground. He groaned with pain, and looking past the dissipated flames, she made sight of her friend. The look of fury on her face suggested that she was correct in her assumptions.

"It's gone, isn't it?" she asked her, the Princess nodding as she approached her, stepping over the man she had just beaten.

"Let's take control of this damn ship before he gets too far ahead. We need to shoot him down before he gets to the Northern Water Tribe." she explained, stepping past Ty Lee before she thrust her left hand down the hallway, creating a fireball which hit a man in the head, who must have been trying to pursue her.

"WIth lightning?" she asked her friend, following her up the staircase.

She let out a little laugh, "I won't need to." she shook her head, "I think you underestimate the power of anger, Ty Lee. If I get close enough, I'll be able to blow it up with a fire stream from down on the deck of the ship." she argued.

Her eyes widened, realising the physical strength that would take to achieve, but knew that her friend had it in her; truly, her rage was her best weapon at that point, though she was unsure if she would be as angry as she seemed at that moment in a few hours time, if that was how long it took for them to catch up to Zhao.

"But I will use lightning. I trust in the certainty of its effects." she added, before darted off, up the stairs.

She was forced to run even faster than she had before, tailing after her friend, who didn't relent to sprint up the staircase; her hair was still dishevelled, and she was only wearing her nightgowns, but even then, she could read her aura- despite her appearance, it was burning hot and bright, with a boiling mixture of rage and fear. She knew her friend hid her fears, and the only way she seemed to be able to express them was through rage.

They were able to climb the staircase quite quickly; it was the complete opposite of when they had first climbed the staircase to Zhao's office. That afternoon, Azula had been cold, calculating and quite exhausted from all the walking they'd done, and now she was brimming with rage, looking like she was about to explode. It had only gotten worse since she was freed from her shackles; perhaps it had dawned on her that it might have been her fault. Ty Lee didn't know whose fault it had been for Zhao figuring out their plans; it could have been them talking, and the Princess' new men overhearing them, or the Admiral figuring out earlier on, back at the compound, and waiting to make his move when it best suited him.

When they reached the bridge of the ship, the Princess immediately sent out a wave of flames, bursting right through the room, knocking down the operators of the ship. She approached the helmsman, with a torch on her right index finger; grasping him by the shoulder, she positioned herself to literally melt his throat open, something that would have been certainly fatal.

"Start the engines." she demanded, his expression dazed from being knocked down; she grit her teeth, voice rising to a shout, "Did I fucking stutter?!" she snarled at him, before throwing him down onto the floor with a fire blast to the chest, "Start the fucking engines!" she ordered him once more.

"Y-y-yes, your majesty." he accepted her order, "You heard her, start the engines!" he demanded of his underlings, who heeded his panicked words; he was obviously afraid for his life, and a few moments later, Azula's guards strode into the bridge, already in their firebending forms.

"Is everyone in line, your highness?" Renshu asked his superior, who nodded, before grasping the helmsman by the collar.

"How long ago did he leave?" she demanded with a cold, slightly less furious sounding voice.

"H-half an hour ago." he clarified, the Princess raising her gaze toward the windows of the bridge, allowing her to look over the deck of the ship, and beyond that, the horizon; it was still dark outside, but Ty Lee noted that the sky was starting to turn a dim blue hue, suggesting the sun was going to rise soon.

"Set a course for the Northern Water Tribe." she demanded, the helmsman's eyes widening.

"Y-your majesty, that's suicide. They'll sink our ship."

"Do you think I care? I need to stop Zhao from enacting his insane plan. Sacrificing a single ship is worth that." she declared, before snarling, "You're too weak-willed for your station." she added, before punching him in the face with a flame covered fist, knocking him unconscious, "Which of you can read naval maps?" she asked the crew, one of the men stepping forward.

"I'll- uh- set a course for the Northern Water Tribe." he clarified, the Princess raising her chin up, sneering at him.

"Get on with it!" she demanded, before turning to face her guards, "I assume the rest of his cronies are going to come up and try and kill us." she acknowledged, before pursing her lips upward, her lips forming a devious, ruthless smirk, "That's real suicide." she ominously added, before turning to face Ty Lee, "Let's make sure they learn their lesson, Ty." she added, "We can't have them disabling the engine or blowing up the bridge."

"So, destroy the catapults and clear out the engine room?" she asked, the Princess nodding.

"Precisely." she confirmed, before gesturing for her to follow after her; she momentarily eyed her guards, "Keep control of the bridge, and if anybody explicitly disobeys my orders... throw them off the balcony."

"Yes, your highness." Renshu nodded, before turning around, ready to oversee the ship being reoriented and sent toward their destination.

The acrobat was a little unnerved by her friend's words, but in contrast, her guards were completely unfazed- they knew the old Azula in a different way; she had been her friend, and saw her make schoolgirls shudder with fear, not literally threaten potential enemies with death, which she assumed the guards were more than used to. She followed after Azula, who immediately made her way to the staircase, which she began to climb down at once; then hadn't even gotten down a flight of stairs when she raised her hands up, conjuring a wall of flames to block a group of sailors who had dared to follow up the stairs after them. She then thrust her hands forward, sending the flames into the men, forcing them down the stairs; Ty Lee heard their grunts and groans of pain, but did not relent to leap past her friend to chi-block the men before they had a chance to react. She jabbed them in their extremities, preventing them from bending and walking, the two things they'd need to be able to do to stop the Princess.

"Let's keep moving. They might sabotage the damn engine." she warned, the acrobat nodding; her friend was right, their enemies were serving Zhao, and if the Admiral didn't want her intervening, they'd probably prefer to get them stuck in the water for a few hours while Azula forced some engineers to repair it, instead of allowing her the chance to reach the North Pole and stop him.

"Just like Katara and you did that one time?" she asked her friend, recalling how she and the Water Tribe girl had once destroyed a Southern Raider vessel's engine; it didn't sound that challenging, at least how her friend phrased it, so with the help of some actually knowledgeable engineers, those loyal to Zhao could blow the engines with little trouble.

"That, minus the waterbending." she clarified, before racing down the staircase; Ty Lee followed after her, knowing that avoiding that was their only way to get to the Northern Water Tribe in a timely manner- the more time they wasted idle in the water, the more time the Admiral would have to enact his plans.

"Azula... what if we can't get to the North Pole in time?" she asked her, panting lightly as they ran down the staircase, and the Princess grit her teeth.

"Then my boyfriend will have to deal with him." she told her, as if there was no stopping it; she knew that Aang might want to stop the Admiral, but there was a possibility that he might be overpowered, or worse, defeated by him.

They raced down the staircase, and she grimaced, thinking what Sokka might be facing, "Azula... what if... what if Sokka can't stop him."

The Princess looked at her with a snarl, her eyes red, which told that she was holding back tears; Ty Lee realised what her expression implied easily enough. The Water Tribe warrior wasn't going to give up, or lose; there was only one way it could go with someone as determined as the Admiral.

"That stubborn idiot would rather die than let that piece of shit win." she assured her, before she turned her gaze down toward the staircase, "Let's just get to the engine room. If we're lucky, everyone will decide to fall in line."

"And if not... that's going to be a lot of chi-blocking." she noted, making the Princess laugh.

"As we have just seen, the prison hold is more than large enough to accommodate for any men who dare to resist my authority." she argued, before she gestured to their right, "Let's just take a momentary detour." she asked of her, "There's some weapons we need to disable."

Ty Lee nodded, remembering she had mentioned catapults earlier; the pair raced down the hallway, and immediately moved out the door onto the deck; it was still dark out, but it was just bright enough that she could disguise the deck, catapults and sky above them from each other. That was made a whole lot easier when Azula stepped forward and created a massive fire stream with her right fist alone, pouring out over the deck of the ship and knocking down a number of sailors who were standing around the weapons.

The pair didn't waste a moment to race across the deck, quickly making their way to the closest of the catapults, which her friend stood in front of, spinning her fingers around to conjure a lightning bolt. Some of the sailors obviously saw what she was doing, and moved to attack her, but Ty Lee pounced at them, jabbing their arms and legs to make sure they couldn't firebend, or in the case of non-benders, use their weapons against the Princess. She was able to quickly disable each and every one of them, though in that span of time, Azula had already shot a lightning bolt into the catapult and moved to shoot one and at the second nearest one.

The pair immediately moved toward another catapult, where a number of firebenders were already standing, prepared to defend the weapon; they sent their fire streams towards the pair and Ty Lee covered her face, the glare of the flames far too bright for her to tolerate. She heard the sound of fire rushing around her, but didn't feel much heat, which was a bit of a surprise; the flames rose up in the sky above her and Azula, the orange mixing with her own blue, the funnel cut them off from every other person on the deck, and for a few moments, she just stood her, jaw open wide with awe.

"Azula." she mumbled her friend's name, "This is amazing."

"Get ready." she warned her, the acrobat nodding; she was ready to do what had to be done.

The flames rose up, all of them turning back to the usual orange, suggesting that Azula had let go of her hold on them, before she kicked her right leg forward, "Go!" she told Ty Lee, who ran forward as she sent out a fire stream, knocking a few of the firebenders over.

It provided her with a few moments to break the gap between her and the firebenders, before they had the chance to retaliate; she jabbed one of them in the chest, winding him, before she tapped his chi-paths on both arms, preventing him from bending. She then weaved around, jabbing another firebender in the back, paralysing his legs, before she was forced to drop down and dodge a wave of fire sent her way. Her distraction proved useful to Azula, who continued to barrage the sailors with her own bending; Ty Lee jumped back up, sending out a number of concise jabs into the arms of the men around her, who were paying more attention to her friends impressive bending, which was forcing them to take defensive stances. She grasped one of them by the right arm as he tried to send a fireball into her head, before she winded him with a punch to the gut.

"That's not very nice of you." she narrowed her eyes at her opponent, before tripping him over as he stumbled forward, gasping for air.

The Princess threw her hands forward and sent out two final fire streams, which knocked the last of the firebenders defending the catapult over. She immediately began to take a lightning generation form, but stopped at once, turning her gaze towards the superstructure of the ship.

"What's wrong, Azula?" she asked her, the Princess narrowing her eyes.

"The ship stopped shaking. The shaking is from the engine, so that means it's been turned off." she deduced, before flaring her teeth, "Fucking spirits." she growled, glancing around, noting that more sailors were approaching them; she angrily threw her hands out and sent out a fire steam, which let out her rage into a physical form, throwing them back, and even knocking a few of them out with that first blow.

"You go deal with the engine." she argued, "I'll make sure everybody here behaves." she argued, the Princess nodding.

"Thank you, Ty Lee." she simply told her, before darting off toward the closest staircase that would lead her down into the ship, and thus, toward the engine room.

The Acrobat turned around, and eyed the men who were approaching her, "Which of you wants to get hit first?" she asked them mockingly; one of them threw a fireball right at her head, and she somersaulted out of the way, "So you're volunteering? How nice of you?" she grinned at the firebender, who tried his best to defend himself, raising up a wall of flames; Ty Lee, being as agile as she was, was able to jump around it and jab him in the side.

He grunted, and tried to flick his hand up toward her face, probably hoping to burn her and her clothes, but all he ended up doing was opening up his chest, which she jabbed, preventing any flames from coming out of his hand to begin with. Ty Lee weaved out of the way of another attack before she kicked a sailor square in the chest; he was thrown back, and she weaved under a fire stream before hitting the bender who created it right in the bicep, blocking that arm. He reacted by kneeing her, but given he was only able to hit her side, she was able to easily move around and pull him into a headlock, using him as a shield against any future firebending attacks.

"I think you all know how this is going to end." she warned them, before throwing the firebender forward, making him stumble into one of his comrades.

She somersaulted once more, dodging another fire stream, before she tripped one of her attackers over, making him fall flat on his face/ She jumped over his body and lunged at another firebender, who had covered his hands with flames; that wasn't an issue for her, however, as she was able to jab his thighs instead, making him fall to his knees, before she flicked her toe-tips into his skull-mask, throwing it from his face. It revealed his fearful expression, though she paid little attention to it as she jumped over, using him as a shield against the next firebending attack that came her way.

"These guys don't know when to give up." she mumbled to herself, before pursing her lips upward, with an idea of how to abuse their attitude.

She jumped up and moved toward the nearest catapult; though she couldn't destroy it by herself, she had a pretty good idea how to break them indirectly. She used the weapon as cover, and two firebenders both attacked her at once, from slightly different angles; she dropped flat on the deck, and their flames hit the catapult instead of her, just as expected. She knew it was probably fireproof, so they'd need to attack it a few times to make any damage.

She stepped around, and watched as two sailors approached her from either side, "So you think you can hit me?" she asked them, the acrobat rising up to her feet as she eyed both pairs, "Fire's bright, you know?" she questioned them once more, the sailors not seeming phased by her questioning; it was their loss, in the end, when they decided to send their attacks her way; fire streams, fireballs, and even a cutting wave of fire.

She was able to drop down, and she closed her eyes, remembering where her opponents were. The flames were bright, and so bright, that the firebenders wouldn't realise that she was already moving on them. She immediately jabbed one of them in the arms, before she shoved him into the other firebender, she stepped behind them, and let their comrades finish the job for her, by sending their attacks right into the two men she'd just startled. With her opponents dazed, she finished them off by chi-blocking their backs and letting them fall down to the ground; she couldn't help but smirk at them, ready to take whatever came her way next.

"If you're all this stupid then Azula's going to beat Zhao no problem."

Whipping a stream of water around his body, Aang tried to remain focused; Master Pakku's serious glare was unnerving, but he tried to ignore it as he moved through the forms he had been practicing. It was a set, similar to the kind he'd seen Azula practice, though, of course, waterbending was very different to firebending, even if the structure of their sets was rather similar. He moved his arms around, bending the stream of water into a water shield, before pulling it back around, creating a water whip, which he flung outwards; there was no one to hit, but the form moved as it should, as if somebody was there to get smacked in the face by his bending. He then took a breath, cutting the water stream in two, throwing one portion of it first out in the opposite direction, before doing the same, as if he were hitting someone in the torso to weaken their stance, before using the rest of the water to throw them to the ground.

He moved himself back a reserved stance, and turned to face his master, who seemed impressed enough by his moves, "You're faster than before, Pupil Aang." he noted, "Your focus has improved greatly." he added, sounding approving of his progress.

"Thank you for getting me... uh, into shape, Master." he smiled at the waterbending master, genuinely thankful for his strong but thoughtful teaching style; he then turned around, approaching Katara, who seemed almost disapproving of the praise Aang had received- he was a little confused why she'd be annoyed, given she got more praise than anybody else.

He sat down beside her, and then waited for their master to call up the next student, "Well, who wants to practice the set next?" he asked his students, "Anybody... except Katara?" he asked, knowing that she was the most confident of the group of students, and thus, more than willing to show off her skills.

"I'll do it, Master." one of the other pupils, Kallik, rose up to his feet.

He crossed his arms and nodded at the students decision to do the set, "Well then, go ahead." he gestured forward, to where he was meant to stand when practicing the set.

He moved into position, before taking a deep breath; he was probably even more nervous than Aang, and didn't want to embarrass himself. He bent the snow around himself, phasing it into water, before bending it around himself, forming into the thin stream the set required. He immediately got into motion, thrusting his right hand forward to create a water whip with the stream, before he bent the stream up and over his head, creating a water shield. He turned around, cutting the shield in two and bent the water around himself, coiling the water up his arms, taking a breath before he thrust the water out as two water whips, which then merged.

Aang would admit that the forms were pleasing to watch in motion, something he didn't pay much attention to when he was doing them himself. He moved to pull the water back into a shield once more, bending it around him before it massed on the opposite side from where he had sent out the water whips. He then readied himself for the next form, only to find himself distracted, along with the rest of the students, by what could only be described as a thundering boom in the distance.

Aang raised himself up, looking out into the distance, realising that he could actually see where the sound originated from; Katara rose up with him, her eyes filled with shock, "I think.. I think I know what that sound was."

Pakku turned her way, a serious look on his face, "What do you mean, Katara? What just happened?"

"Lightning generation, Master." she clarified, "That's... well, I don't know who else can do it."

She didn't drop her name, but their master knew exactly who she was referring to; Princess Azula was going to show up sooner or later, but that didn't explain why lightning was being generated in the first place, and what had been hit.

"But... what was shot with lightning?" he asked her, "That was loud. It had to be something... explosive." he ominously noted, before turning his gaze back to where he had heard the sound.

He didn't see much, but he knew that something was there; a few moments later, he saw a smoking object falling down from the sky- the airship. It was falling down fast, and heading right toward the icy plain to the west of the city; he wondered if Azula was aboard, and she had set off a lightning bolt inside in an attempt to stop Zhao- maybe he found out about what she wanted to do.

"Oh no." his eyes widened with fear, watching as the airship crashed, the sound of it hitting the ice audible from even that distance.

"That... that can't be good." Katara mumbled, before she turned her eyes his way, "Aang, we need to find out what just happened." she suggested, the young Avatar nodding.

"Sorry, Master, but we're going to have to take a break from our training." she explained, Pakku nodding.

"No, no, I understand." he assured her, gesturing toward the smokestack that had formed where the airship had crashed, "That is far more important."

"We need to get Appa. I don't have my staff." he explained, the Water Tribe girl nodding, before the two of them darted off as fast as their feet could take them; Aang did go faster than Katara, given that he had the help of his airbending, but he tried to not go too fast, giving her a chance to catch up.

They made their way down the staircase, and immediately moved toward the stable area where Appa was being housed while they were at the North Pole; they were quick on their feet, and luckily, both of them knew exactly where they were going. His sky-bison wasn't that far away, but neither of them had any idea what was going on; they didn't know if Azula was in danger, or if Zhao was even on the airship to begin with- he assumed he was, but he couldn't be certain.

The Princess had told them what she intended to do, but not a detailed plan that she was going to follow precisely; thus, he didn't know if what he was seeing was 'all part of the plan', or if something had just gone terribly wrong. The unknowns were making him panic, and he didn't relent to show the unease in his face; Katara looked unnerved as well, though a bit less though than himself- he could not tell if she simply was less worried, or if with age, one could become more stoic.

They raced along down a path, leading them around the area just below the palace, where he knew the stables to be; he couldn't see Appa yet, but knew that he would start flying as soon as Aang called on him. In his panic, he realised that he had forgotten about his bison whistle, and decided to blow on it; he blew hard, and hoped that by the time they found him, his sky-bison was ready for them. As they approached the stables, he saw the flying bison climbing out of the stables, roaring out to his friend and confusing the people whose job it was to attend to the place; they might have thought he was trying to escape.

"Appa!" he called on the sky-bison, who immediately moved to approach his friend; he jumped up onto the saddle as soon as he reached it, and held out a hand to help Katara up.

To his surprise, instead of accepting his hand, she used her waterbending to deform the ice underneath her, pushing her up and allowing her to climb up onto the saddle with ease. Once she was on, he turned his gaze ahead and knew exactly what he needed to say.

"Yip, yip!" he called on Appa, who roared before rising up into the air; he pulled on his reins, making sure that he turned around and began flying in the right direction, that being right toward the icy cliffs, past which he could see the smokestack the crashing airship had created.

The sky-bison rose up above the city, and he kept his gaze set on the airship, taking note of the debris that was scattered across the ice from its impact. It looked like the entire top of the craft had been scattered, presumably by the lightning bolt that seemed to have hit it. Katara tapped on his shoulder, and gestured out to their left. He could see a smoke stack in the distance, but the one he could see was not from a burning craft, but from a massive battleship; it was very close by, and he realised that soon enough it would reach the walls of the Northern Water Tribe capital.

"That's a big ship." he gasped, before turning his eyes down to the airship, "Did... did they shoot it down?"

"Maybe." she narrowed her eyes, "I don't know." she admitted honestly, turning her eyes ahead; they were approaching the cliffs, and Aang knew that they'd be able to get to the bottom of the matter once they figured out who was in the airship and why it crashed.

Suddenly, before they could get close enough, the young Avatar's eyes widened, seeing a bright light appear, and a few moments later, a number of massive fire streams were set their way; he screamed out in fear, and pulled on the reins, trying to get Appa out of the way quickly. Katara rose up and reached out, pulling ice out from the ground to try and use it as a shield; they weren't close enough to the ground, and it didn't really help. The sky-bison evasively moved, groaning out in pain from the flames as they licked his fur.

"Appa!" he cried out pulling the reins harder to try and get him to turn around, "Just keep moving, buddy!" he asked of his sky-bison; he didn't fall from the sky, as he had initially feared he might, and ducked down under the cover of the cliff, moving back down toward the city.

"We need to go around, Aang." Katara warned him, "They're going to attack us either way."

"So, stay close to the ice so we can use it to make a shield?" he asked her, the Water Tribe girl giving him a small smile to confirm that was what she had in mind; he pulled on the reins of his sky-bison, and turned him around.

He knew that Appa wouldn't want to put himself in danger, but he was sure that they would be alright as long as they stayed close to the ground, "I know it's not good buddy, but we've got to stop some bad guys." he explained to his sky-bison, who made a low, gargled groan, which suggested he was still reeling from the firebending attack.

As they approached the cliffs once more, he grimaced, unsure what they'd face, and he turned to face his friend, "Are you ready to make a shield?" he asked Katara, who nodded, a smirk appearing on her face as she took form.

She reached out toward the cliffs as they approached them, taking a layer of snow and bending it up and in front of Appa, creating a water shield which they could still see through, but would provide them with the protection they'd need to get close enough to the Fire Nation soldiers who must have just attacked them. When they moved up above the cliffs, he made sight of the downed airship once more, and watched as more fire streams appeared, and were sent their way. Katara's water shield, which continued to grow as she picked up more snow as they moved along, was able to hold off the firebenders, though their attacks created a lot of steam. That made it hard for Aang to see where they were flying, but he was able to go off where he had seen the airship to know when he had to stop; the flames grew more intense as they got closer, and he grit his teeth, wondering if he ought to help his friend, knowing that protecting the three of them was the thing he ought to be most concerned about.

When Appa landed, he immediately reached his hands out ahead of him, bending the water shield Katara had been holding up into a virtual wave of water, which he thrust toward the airship. He heard some cries and grunts, and with some confidence in his new waterbending forms, Aang jumped to the ground; he immediately dashed forward, pulling the snow around him to create a stream of water which he'd be able to pummel any standing firebenders with. He moved toward the airship, gritting his teeth as he realised that there was a crevasse before him; the airship had pierced a hole in the ice, revealing what he assumed to be some kind of cave system. He hadn't heard about any caves, and he wondered if they were able to take the Fire Nation soldiers down to the city; he pulled his stream up to block a fire stream that was suddenly sent his way.

He noted a Fire Nation soldier taking cover by the wreckage of the airship, which looked like it was about to fall into the crevasse; it seemed like it was just big enough to avoid slipping into the crack. He bent the water around himself, stringing it out to create a water whip, which he reached out to whack the soldier, who despite his cover, wasn't really able to hide when Aang knew exactly where he was. The soldier who he hit stumbled back, before he scampered away. He thought at first he was running away from the young Avatar, but it turned out that Katara was right behind him, throwing a large mass of water his way; she used it to freeze the soldier in place, creating an ice trap. He grunted and groaned as he tried to move around, and he looked at them with a fearful face.

"Nobody else is attacking us." his friend observed, "I think they all went down into that cave."

He scrunched his lips up, and stepped closer to the crevasse; he could see how deep it went into the ground, and how the Fire Nation soldiers could have climbed down it. He turned to face his friend and nodded, before he used his airbending to propel himself over the gap; landing in front of the ensnared soldier, he narrowed his eyes at him.

"Where did they go?" he asked him, the soldier's eyes widening; he obviously had seen Aang's tattoos, which weren't covered.

"Y-you're the Avatar." he mumbled, before trying to turn his head away, "You can't stop us." he defiantly proclaimed, making Aang look at him with confusion; he had a sky-bison and a pretty good idea where Zhao was going, assuming that he was the one in the airship to begin.

"No, I think I can." he retorted, before raising a hand up, liquefying Katara's ice trap, "I've got another question." he admitted, creating two tentacles of water, using them to grasp the soldier by the hands before he could try and firebend, "Where's Azula?"

"She nearly fucking killed us!" he snarled, shaking his head, "And if I don't get away, she's going to find me and kill me!"

"What do you mean?" Katara asked, having gotten across the crevasse, now standing beside Aang.

"She's a traitor! She wants to destroy our nation!" he declared, making the young Air Nomad look at his friend with a confused expression.

"What?" he mumbled, utterly perplexed by his words, "Do you know what she wants to do?"

"Sacrifice us all so she can please the shitty Water Tribes." he snarled, the Water tribe girl chuckling.

"Oh... that's just dumb of you." she crossed her arms, sounding disappointed in them; that was a bit of a surprising response, if he were to be honest, "You could have gotten away. She only wants Zhao."

"She doesn't have-" he began to argue, before the Water tribe girl threw a mass of water at him, throwing him to the ground, knocking him out cold.

"Katara, we still need to figure out-" Aang spoke up, before she raised a hand to silence him.

"Zhao's gone into the cave, that's the only way he could have gone. We need to get to the Spirit Oasis Where's Sokka?"

"Probably eating his breakfast, or still in bed." he noted, "He really likes sleeping in."

"We need to get him, and we need to stop Zhao." she declared, before turning around, "I have a feeling our friend is the one sending the battleship right toward the walls of the Northern Water Tribe."

"I hope she's alright." he admitted, before he pulled out his bison whistle, and blew into it; his flying bison groaned, and he called out to him at once, "Appa, we need to go!"

Appa rose up into the air, and flew over toward them; he grasped Katara by the wrist, and used his airbending to propel them up into the air, launching them onto the saddle. He quickly got a hold of the reins, and pulled them around, directing Appa to fly back towards the city. He tensed up, not knowing how long it would take for Zhao to get down into the city. He could see some steam and smoke down in the city proper, and narrowed his eyes at the sight of it, he turned to face Katara, before turning his gaze over toward the battleship.

"Which is more important?" he asked her, the Water Tribe girl gesturing down toward the smoke.

"I'm pretty sure the warriors and waterbenders will be able to deal with the battleship." she assured him, "We need to stop Zhao, before he can do what he wants to."

"What about Sokka?" he asked, unsure if he would have realised what was going on, and thus, gone to the Spirit Oasis.

"He'll figure it out. He's been waiting for this day for weeks." she assured him, before Aang pulled on Appa's reins.

"We need to go down buddy, not up." he told his sky-bison, who groaned as he tried to refuse his pulling; he obviously didn't want to get close to the firebenders, but it wasn't like they had much of a choice.

They needed to stop the Fire Nation forces before they reached the Spirit Oasis- if they didn't, Zhao would kill the Moon Spirit, and then they'd have something far more serious to worry about. The death of one of the most powerful spirits, at least in relation to their mortal world, was something he knew would not go down well with the spirits. His past lives, though they'd remained quiet, seemed to be telling him that he needed to do that; he didn't need to meditate to find that out- whatever was inside him, it was getting very worried, very quickly. He wasn't going to use the Avatar State if he could help it; Aang had not reached his full potential as a bender yet, and he knew that if the Avatar State took over, to defend him from Zhao and his men, then he'd probably end up destroying a lot of stuff unintentionally. They were in a populated city, not in the wilderness, or the abandoned Southern Air Temple, where it would be marginally safer to use his powers.

Appa did eventually heed his prodding, and he glided down toward the streets of the city, toward the steam and smoke, which he assumed to have originated from some guards facing off against the attackers. He grit his teeth, and felt frustrated that he hadn't bothered to get his staff; he'd have to improvise, and all he could think was how lucky he was to have already learned a fair number of waterbending forms and techniques. He did not get angry, however; he knew that getting angry would just make him clumsier and more of a threat to himself than others. The young Avatar leapt off of the saddle once they were close enough to the ground and reached out, massing some snow around him into a stream of water, which he held around his arm, spinning it as he prepared to face off the firebenders.

Katara followed right after him, and the pair ran down a side-street, where he made sight of an unconscious guard, whose parka was clearly damaged from firebending. Continuing along the trail, he eyed about for evidence of the Fire Nation attackers, but found the street surprisingly empty; he could hear cries of fear in the distance, and knew that they were what he'd need to follow. He did just that, and sprinted down the street, readying himself to defend the innocent people of the Northern Water Tribe against the aggressors; he knew this was not what Azula had intended, but he had allowed it, and he would fix it- he was the Avatar, and he would never try to forget it again.

Suddenly as he was racing forward, he was struck in the chest, by something he hadn't even seen. Falling down flat on his back, he cried out, feeling a sharp pain across his torso; he looked up and saw the source of the hit- the blunt end of a pike being held by a Fire Nation soldier, who immediately turned his weapon around to face it toward the young Avatar.

He heard a laugh in the distance, and looked over to see a man wearing a thick red cloak; his most distinguishable feature was the scar over his eye- the kind that Azula described her brother having, the kind he had given to Admiral Zhao, "You're a lot weaker than I thought, Avatar." he scoffed, "You and your snow savage friends won't stop me." he warned him, before thrusting his right hand forward, creating a bright orange fire stream; Aang reflexively pulled his arms up, creating a shield of ice, though it was immediately shattered by the Admiral's firebending.

He could clearly see was powerful, and the danger that he would pose to both he and Katara; there obviously was a reason Azula obviously hadn't tried to face him head on. He grit his teeth, and sent out two funnels of air from his palms, which allowed him to slide along the snow, while Katara raced up beside him, throwing a wave of water toward the Admiral and his men, who sent out fireballs in return. She was able to block most of them, but the flames pushed through and forced her off her feet.

"Ah!" she cried out, turning to face Aang, "Use your airbending!" she demanded, her voice fearful, obviously realising that they probably weren't matched up against the Admiral and his men, despite the environmental advantages they had.

He took a deep breath before throwing his hands forward, creating a fast moving funnel of air, akin to the fire streams they themselves used; he used it to strike their lower bodies, throwing their enemies off their feet. Aang turned around, and immediately saw they were being surrounded by more firebenders; he didn't know how many men Zhao had, but there had to be at least a dozen right there, surrounding the pair. He threw his hands up, creating ice traps to hold the charging firebenders in place, before turning his gaze to Katara.

"What are we going to do?" he asked her, the Water Tribe girl narrowing her eyes.

"Fight." she declared, "Let's do what our master has told us to do." she added, before throwing her arms forward, ensnaring one of their attackers in an ice trap; he picked up as much snow as he could, and created two water whips which he sent out, hitting two of the firebenders by their legs, stopping them from sending any flames their way.

That didn't stop them all, however, and a few of them sent out bolts of fire in quick succession; he jumped, weaving out of the way of their flames. Aang was not ready, however, for the wave of flames that thrown his way by Zhao himself, whose flames broke Katara's ice trap in the process. His friend threw up her arms, creating a wall of ice that momentarily protected the group. It held the Admiral and his men back for a few moments, the young Avatar glancing back to the men he had ensnared earlier. They were already using their firebending to try and break free, and Aang grimaced, realising he'd have to take a different tactic to make sure they didn't pose a threat to anybody; he raised his arms up, before pulling them down, liquefying the water the Fire Nation soldiers were in; they could momentarily move, though it didn't help, as they sunk down in the ice below, and were frozen, with only their heads and upper torsos out of the ice.

"Aang! Think of something quickly! I don't think I can hold this wall much longer!" Katara pleaded, her tone and near pained expression suggesting that he'd have to do something a little more forward that some water whips.

He didn't want to give in to anger and fear, knowing that he would best face their enemies with a level head, but he knew that he had to do something; his friend was counting on him- the whole world was counting on him. The Avatar thrust his hands forward, breaking through his friend's ice-wall, before he melted said ice to create a water stream, which he swung around, like a very long and bendy staff, whacking Fire Nation soldiers in their heads and torsos. The move worked well enough, as he was able to keep them occupied while he moved forward. The man who had first hit him in the chest with his pike charged at him, and Aang smirked, knowing that he had exactly what he needed. He weaved out of the way of his lunging attack, before he tripped the man over, grasping the shaft of his weapon. He then rammed the head of the weapon into the ice on an angle, snapping it off; with a makeshift staff in hand, he had a better chance against his opponents than he would have had otherwise.

"Aang, duck!" he heard Katara call out to him, and he did just that, weaving underneath a fire stream sent out by one of the soldiers, nearly hitting him square in the face; he then swung his new staff to the side, creating a gust of wind which threw said soldier right off his feet

Admiral Zhao strode toward him, covering both his hands with flames, and grit his teeth, "This stops now!"

He threw a volley of fireballs his way, Aang dispersing each of the attacks as they came his way; he was able to swing his staff again, this time creating an air blast which shot the Admiral off his feet. Before he could try and trap him, his men raced toward the young Avatar, covering their hands with flames. One of them tried to tackle him, but he raised his left hand up, bending his foot stuck in the ice, and stopping him from reaching the young Avatar. That didn't really help him however, as another firebender came at him, and threw out two fire blasts at once; he spun his staff around, realising that it had caught aflame.

He tried to put the burning end out on the ice, but was distracted by the soldier throwing him to the ground; he grunted as he felt the weight of an adult man holding him down. He wasn't able to do much, but he did kick his foot upward, bending the snow around his legs to trap the man; he snarled with frustration, but Aang seemed to be the least of his worries as he turned his gaze toward Katara, who had been throwing water whips toward his comrades and tossing them about with her grip. She got the man who tackled him with a water stream, throwing him off of the young Air Nomad, and broke his ice shackles in the process.

"Thanks, Katara!" he grinned at her, before grasping his staff, which was no longer on fire; he used it to jab the man who had tackled him in the gut, which decidedly kept him down.

He turned his attention toward Admiral Zhao, who didn't look like he was going to back down any time soon, "Keep moving!" he demanded of his men, "I'll deal with the Avatar myself."

"Ha, good luck." Aang smirked, readying his staff in hand, while Katara stepped up behind him, ready to assist.

The Admiral began to throw fireballs toward the young Avatar, who dispersed them with his staff, before he thrust it toward him, hoping to throw him off his feet with a gust of wind; that didn't work, as he cowered down beneath the attack, before sending a sweeping kick at Aang. The flames were hot and bright, but he was able to easily jump over them. When he landed on the ground, however, the ice was unexpectedly slippery; he slipped and fell onto his back, crying out from the shock of hitting the ground. The Admiral pounced at the advantage, sending an arc of flames right down at the young Avatar, who held his staff up in defence; though it protected his face somewhat, he realised that it had been cut in two, and thus was far less effective as an airbending instrument. He was forced to scamper back, trying to avoid the fire stream Zhao was sending out of his right hand, a callous smirk on his face.

"You will learn your place, airbender!" he mocked him, before he aimed a fire blast at Aang's head.

"Hey!" Katara called out, catching his attention; she sent a water whip toward him, which he was able to break apart with a cutting blow of fire.

He ignored his previous opponent for a moment, sending a fire stream out of his left palm, which cut right through the water shield his friend created to protect herself; she was thrown back to the ground, and was forced to pat down her parka, which was burning in some spots. The young Avatar tensed up, realising that Zhao was going to seriously hurt her if he just did nothing. So he did something; he tossed one half of the staff right into the back of head, making him stumble forward and snarl in anger, turning back to face Aang.

"You little shit." he snarled, and covered his hands with flames, set to use them to attack the Air Nomad boy.

With his attention squarely on himself, he could fight with a calm mind, knowing his friend was going to be safe. He bent the snow around the Admiral and used it to ensnare his feet. He grit his teeth and threw his arms upward, creating a wall of flames between them, which forced Aang to move back, lest the flames lick his skin. He pulled himself up slowly, and took a deep breath, wanting to remain calm as he faced off the man who probably sought to capture or kill him. He wouldn't let him do either; he had to win, for the sake of the Moon Spirit, whose importance he didn't fully comprehend, but he knew it to be vital to the world's balance.

Though they hadn't directly communicated with him, his past lives were telling him that it was the case. When the wall of flames dissipated, Aang pulled all the snow he could mass around himself, and directed it into two separate water streams, throwing them toward Zhao; the Admiral sent out a fire stream toward him, and he leapt over the top of it, directing his water streams right into his opponent, who was thrown back.

"Give up!" he demanded of the Admiral, "You won't get to the spirits!" he declared, Zhao cocking his chin up, glaring him down as he charged two fire blasts in each of his hands.

"So I was right." he snarled, "I've been played this entire time!" he furiously shouted at Aang, throwing his fire blasts toward him; he was able to block them with a water shield he conjured from the remains of the streams he'd thrown at his opponent.

He was still forced back, however, and cut the shield in two, spinning around to throw one half at him as a water whip, tripping Zhao over; he almost fell flat on his face, before he was splashed and thrown backward by a smaller water stream than last time. He froze the water, momentarily holding the Admiral in place. He then conjured some water out from the ground below himself, before throwing it right into his opponent's face; he hoped that knocked him out, and at the very least kept him down for a while, while he went to help Katara. He could see her fighting off some other Fire Nation soldiers, who must have still been coming down from the caves, and thus, weren't moving with the others toward the Spirit Oasis. He charged over to help her, massing snow beneath himself to use it to propel himself forward, before he threw said snow out in the form of a wave toward his enemies.

"Take that!" he shouted at them, watching as they were thrown off of their feet by his wave.

His friend turned back to face him with an impressed look on her face, "That was pretty good, Aang." she conceded his skill, before drawing out more snow to create a stream of water which circled around him, "Let's take these guys out before we take Zhao to the Chief."

"That's what I was thinking." he nodded, before he took form beside her, pulling some water back from his previous attack to form a ring around himself; he made two tentacles, ready to use them to strike any Fire Nation soldiers who came to face them.

The soldiers got back up to their feet, and one of them was immediately whipped in the head by Katara, and Aang moved to grasp two of them by the arms, throwing them down to the ground, where he could ensnare them in ice traps. He smirked, spinning around, taking the remaining water he had to create a water stream, which he used to throw the remaining soldiers into a wall, knocking them right out.

He smiled, brimming with confidence in his new waterbending abilities, but that happy feeling was cut short by the feeling of scorching heat all up his back. He was flung down to the ground, unable to hold himself against the attack, when his face struck the snow, he lost control of his senses; all he could feel was a sharp pain on his forehead, and cringed as he felt the heat on his back. He relieved himself of the latter by rolling over, presumably extinguishing the flames that had set his parka alight. He grit his teeth and squinted, eyeing Katara, who seemed to be taking form, sending a water stream back down the street. He glanced up, and realised that Zhao was gone; the ringing in his head made him grasp at his forehead, hoping that if he touched it, the pain would go away- it didn't.

"Aang, Aang, stay still." he heard the water Tribe girl address him with a panicked voice, suddenly feeling something cold on his forehead; he blinked a few times, and noticed that the pain had receded somewhat.

When he regained his bearings, he realised that she was healing him, and smiled, glad that she had learned that technique from Pakku when she had; otherwise, Aang might have just been forced to lie there and groan in pain while the Admiral and his goons got away. He groaned, and pulled himself up, glancing up to notice that some of the firebenders were running past, finding an alternate path around them; he gestured up toward them and grit his teeth.

"K-Katara, you've gotta stop them." he told her, trying to stress his point; she raised her left hand up and flicked up a mass of snow, freezing some of the soldiers in place as they tried to move past them.

"Ah!" one of them cried out, grunting as he tried to pull himself free of the ice.

Aang turned his attention back toward his friend, who had her right hand over his head, soothing the pain he could feel; he pulled himself upright, and glanced around as she moved her hand away from his face, "We need to get to the Spirit Oasis." he spoke up, Katara narrowing her eyes at him.

"Yeah... but somebody's gotta do something about the battleship." she noted, "Maybe Azula's there." she suggested, the young Avatar nodding.

"You should go to the walls." he explained, before he reached into his pocket, pulling out his bison whistle, "Take this... get Appa. You can fly straight to the Spirit Oasis with Azula once you find her; if anybody's going to be able to stop Zhao, it's her." he acknowledged, before he eyed up the street, "I'm gonna chase down Zhao. Hopefully, he doesn't get there, but I don't know if I can stop him."

"You've got to try, Aang." she argued, the Air Nomad boy nodding, before he rose up to his feet, "I need to find a new staff." he noted, before eyeing one of the soldiers she had frozen in place; he was holding a pike in hand, and Aang moved to grasp the weapon, unfreezing his hand so he could take it off him, "Thanks." he grinned at the soldier, who didn't seem to approve in the slightest.

He then turned to face his friend, nodding at her with a warm smile; he was thankful for her help, but now he knew he had to go handle something by himself. Her tenacity inspired him, and he did not want to let her down; he didn't want to let any of his friends down.

"We'll stop him, Katara." he assured her, the Water Tribe girl nodding, before she blew into the whistle; she looked back his way with a poignant, near nervous face, as Appa's roaring could be heard in the background, assuring them that he'd be there soon.

"We don't have much of a choice."

Azula took a deep breath, and sighed, looking at all the unconscious sailors around her- she had beaten them, but she was tired, after all she had done. She had thought that after she shot the airship out of the sky with her lightning generation, the men on board would have given up; contrary to that belief, they kept resisting, and they had tried to disable the engine of the ship, in an attempt to stop them from reaching the Northern Water Tribe. She was able to stop them, and now she and Ty Lee were surrounded by unconscious men; she had wished they would have given up and accepted her authority, but they seemed to prescribe to the belief that if enough of them threw fireballs at her, they'd eventually win. Zhao's initial tactic of forcing her unconscious with gas was smart, but it wouldn't work twice; she had disabled such attempts, and after the fight was over, she decided that a smart way to ensure the enemy wouldn't pose a threat would be to set off said gas around the hall that led toward the engine of the ship.

She picked up one of the smoke bombs, and turned to face Ty Lee, "Let's give them a taste of their own medicine." she suggested, before she lit a flame on the end of her finger.

Her friend grimaced, obviously understanding what she was about to do, and paced down the hallway toward the nearest door; Azula followed after her, and once she reached the door, used her flame to set the bomb alight, before she tossed it down the hallway. When it hit the floor, it began to let out smoke, and she immediately closed the door behind her, turning to face her friend, who just seemed to be relieved that the fight was over.

"So, are we going to get back up to the deck?" she asked her, the Princess giving her an affirmative smirk.

"Oh, that we are, Ty Lee." she confirmed, "We've got an Admiral to beat the crap out of." she argued, before narrowing her eyes, remembering that she would be likely be facing resistance; hopefully the Northern Water Tribe came to understand that she was not seeking to bring war and chaos to their capital- she had only sought to take the airship, and trick Zhao, but the Admiral had forced her hand.

The pair immediately turned their heels, and began to race down the hallway; they had to get to the stairs, and after that, the deck. The Princess kept her focus ahead of herself, and remembered what was at stake; the Moon Spirit was in mortal danger as long as Zhao was walking around, and she had unintentionally given him a means to reach it. Hopefully, in shooting down the airship, she could slow him down somewhat, but even then, she had to worry about potentially hostile warebenders. She shook her head at even considering that; she was certain they were going to be hostile. She knew for a fact that the other nations didn't consider whether Fire Nation forces were hostile to them; they were their enemy, and it was drilled into their minds, whether they'd faced off against them or not.

When they reached the stairs, she could see some nervous looking sailors standing by; they were unarmed, and didn't seem hostile in the slightest, so she didn't take any notice of them. She had to focus on making sure nobody got in her way; she was going to get to Zhao, and she was going to make him regret his actions dearly. The Princess and her friend were only up the first flight of the stairs when the ship shook violently, and she heard a loud scraping noise. She turned to face Ty Lee, who grimaced at the sound.

"That's the wall, isn't it?" she asked her friend, who pursed her lips upward.

"I'm certain." she confirmed, before she began to bolt on up the stairs.

She couldn't waste any more time, knowing that it would only be a matter of time before the Northern Water Tribe's warriors and waterbenders boarded their vessel; she had already been dealing with waterbenders on canoes, who had tried to damage the ship. They hadn't succeeded, due to her timely interventions, and she had forced whatever men on board that remained loyal to herself to attack them, or at the very least, ward them off.

She found herself panting as she rushed up the staircase, and tried to keep a grip on her breathing; she wasn't even fighting anyone, so she knew she had no excuse to lose track of her breath. She kept her eyes focused ahead of her, as she moved up and around the winding staircase, making her way up each flight of stairs, down from the lowest decks, where the engine was located, up to the top deck, where she'd be able to get over onto the walls that she knew to surround the Northern Water Tribe capital, along with the towering icy cliffs.

As she climbed up the staircase, getting herself closer and and closer to the top deck, she began to wonder how many men they'd have ready, defending their walls; she knew for a fact that the Northern Water Tribe had resisted Fire Nation attacks so far, so she was sure that they'd put up a good fight. She knew that she didn't want to fight them, but getting past them and moving toward the Spirit Oasis with no questions asked would be the simplest way forward. She had no time for pleasantries; she needed to get rid of Zhao before he killed the Moon Spirit, and gave Sokka good reason to think her either insane or an idiot.

When she finally got to the top deck, she was forced to cover her eyes to compensate for the change in light; unlike when she had first awoken, the sun was up and it was bright, despite how low the sun was in the sky- compared to the interior of the ship, it was bright, especially with all the glare from the snow. She looked over the bow of the ship, where the boarding ramp was moving down, allowing them to access the wall; a number of her guards were already gathering around on the deck, having heard the sound she had. She raised her fist up, catching their attention, before she gestured toward the walls.

"Move!" she called on her men, before she raced ahead, moving toward the walls.

When streams of the water were sent out right at them from on top of the wall, she did not relent to cross her arms before sending out a massive wave of blue flames. The attack was thin, but it was able to cut right through the water streams and stop the enemy from harming her or her men; she then pushed on ahead, toward the boarding ramp, which had lowered down further, allowing her to see the Water Tribe warriors that were getting ready to move in and attack them. She rolled her eyes, realising that their attire was actually quite similar to that which Sokka had worn when she had first met him, when he had boarded her ship and the warriors had sunk it. She did not relent to charge forward, creating a fire stream in both of her hands, sending it out to knock them back; it held back the warriors, some of whom were immediately knocked over.

"Wow, it's a bunch of Sokkas." Ty Lee observed, making the Princess roll her eyes.

"Yeah, except they're incompetent and can't chi-block." she argued, before she thrust her leg up, sending a fire blast right toward one of the warriors who had not relented and continued to charge at her.

She knocked onto his back, falling over onto the inclined ramp; she continued to charge up it, crossing her arms before spinning them around, creating two fire whips, which she was able to use to burn the arms of two warriors who came at her at once. Her guards sent out fire balls to strike down a few of them as well, as she smirked, approving of their quick work. She wasn't even going for hits to knock them out; she just needed to get past them, that was what counted, in the end. She moved forward, effortlessly charging a fireball in her right hand, which she threw into the chest of a warrior who ran her way with a spear in hand. He fell down right onto his back, and she strode past him.

"Not sorry." she chided him, turning her eyes toward his comrades, who seemed rather intimidated by her; perhaps they'd heard about her, which wouldn't surprise her- not just from Sokka, either, given that they seemed to be well-known and notorious for their actions a few months prior.

She strode on up the ramp, charging two file streams in her hands, which she used like jets to power herself forward, almost gliding up the ramp, moving right through the first opening she could find in the warrior's lines, after which she jumped out onto the wall. She eyed around, and noted that there had to be at least a hundred warriors and waterbenders, combined, on the walls, and that was not good at all; if she had the support of everyone onboard the ship, it wouldn't be much of an issue- they'd provide a good distraction while she went for Zhao. However, in her current situation, it seemed like all the focus would be on her, Ty Lee and her guards, who were still following on after her up the ramp. Scanning the approaching warriors and waterbenders, she immediately took a defensive stance, knowing that it was not her intention to give a bunch of combat inexperienced waterbenders an absolute beatdown; she could do that, but she would prefer to just get to the matter at hand.

"I'm here to stop Admiral Zhao. So, if you'd like to remain uninjured and retain your waterbending, I'd suggest you get out of my way." she asked of the people who were surrounding her; they looked at ther with perplexed faces, but those expressions quickly turned to ones of disdain and fear.

Spears pointed her way, and waterbenders took form; she sighed, frustrated that she was going to have to fight through the people she was actually trying to help, "Did you miss the part when I said he will stop you from being able to waterbend?" he asked them, the men clearly unresponsive; when a mass of water was sent her way, she spun her hands around in a circular motion, creating two arcs of flames which caused it to explode into steam and a spray of water; it covered her, and the cold made her want to shiver.

She snarled with annoyance, and took form, understanding their unwillingness to cooperate, "Well, that's just how it is, then." she sighed, knowing that she had a challenging fight ahead of her.

Azula thrust her hands outward, and then raised them up, creating two walls of flames that held back any potential attackers, even if only for a few moments, while her supporters caught up with her. She glanced back, watching as Ty Lee and the others climbed up to the top of the boarding ramp, before jumping down onto the wall, joining her. As the flames dissipated, she saw a water stream coming her way, and she sent out a fire stream right into it, breaking apart the attack, turning it into steam.

She then gestured down the wall toward a staircase, which they'd be able to take to get themselves safely down, closer to the city, and thus, closer to the hidden location of the spirits; she was sure that Sokka knew where it was, as would the Northern Water Tribe. With any luck, they were protecting it from Zhao already, and her efforts were unnecessary; hopefully, she'd get the right kind of attention, but given the immediate hostility she was facing, she was sure that would be harder to achieve than she would've liked. Her men followed right after her, sending out fire blasts, not aimed necessarily to harm the warriors, who were in their way, but to get them to move. It was rather simple coercion, which was far better than knocking each and every one of them out.

She moved forward, sending out well placed jabs with each step; each of them struck a warrior or waterbender in their extremities, forcing them back or to the ground. A water whip, a form she'd seen Katara and Aang use, was sent her way, and she stepped out of the way of it, before she swung her right hand down, creating an arc of flames which sliced right through it. She then kicked her right leg out, sending out a fire stream into the waterbender who had tried to attack her. Once they were down and out of the way, she moved along, sending one last fireball into their parka to keep them down; the attire was thick, so she knew that it was simply an impediment, rather than actually painful. Ty Lee charged past her, and jabbed a few warriors in their chests, chi-blocking them, before she turned to face the Princess for a moment.

"We need to get past these guys." she argued, Azula scoffing; that was an unnecessary comment if she'd ever heard one.

"Yeah, I figured." she noted with a frustrated tone, before she sent out another kick, knocking one of the waterbenders down before they could try and attack her.

She did not relent to continue forward, and began to clear out her path even further by sending out small fireballs to distract her opponents, while the acrobat leapt forward, cartwheeling past some of them and chi-blocking them from behind. When she tried to take another step, her feet felt suddenly heavier; Azula sighed with frustration, realising that a waterbender had tried to ensnare her. She didn't let that stop her as she channelled her bending to her soles, creating two jets which allowed her to burst free; the pent up energy of the jets allowed her to momentarily shoot up into the air, and she sent out a fire stream from above, making a few warriors dive out of the way, giving Ty Lee a clear path to continue forward. When she landed on the ground, she glanced back, noting her guards were still keeping the waterbenders occupied while they approached the stairs. They were struggling to keep back all of their enemies, but she knew she could trust them to continue fighting, if the Water Tribe forces continued to resist; obviously, they weren't going to listen to reason, so she would just need to get past them.

"Tighter formation!" she heard Renshu call out; obviously the guards needed to get closer together, as otherwise, the Water Tribesmen would just pick them off.

She and Ty Lee continued their advance, the Princess jabbing a warrior who dared to run at her in the chest with a fireball, throwing him flat onto his back as he slipped over; she would usually laugh at such a sorry state, but she was far too concerned with actually getting the job done to do that. She weaved under a water whip that was flung towards her before she made a sweeping kick. She hadn't even needed to attack that waterbender, as he was jabbed in the side by her friend, and was unable to bend, thus, defend himself from the charged bolt of flames she sent right into his chest, flinging him down to the ground.

Azula stepped forward and yelled out to her friend, "Ty Lee, duck!" as she conjured flames in between her hands, creating a large ball of flames, which she propelled forward, shooting it out in the form of a wave that spread out ahead of her, knocking down a few warriors, while the rest ducked and weaved, just as her friend did.

She continued to move forward, the pair taking advantage of the enemy's momentary distraction in the form of the wave, the two of them quickly moving in succession one after another, withe the Princess using her flames to break their stances and drawn their focus while the acrobat leapt around, jabbing their chests and backs to ensure that they were paralysed. The Princess then raised her foot up, kicking a stream of flames out and knocking out another waterbender, who failed to hit her with his water whip- she was faster, after all. She smirked, and sent out a volley of fireballs, further forcing the warriors to draw their attention to dodging her attacks over avoiding Ty Lee, who continued to move around, her agility preventing any of the waterbenders from ensnaring her.

"Princess!" she heard one of her guards call out, the Princess turning around, looking for a split-second as she saw a water stream strike her square in the chest; she grunted as she was thrown down to the ground, digging her heels into the snow to prevent herself sliding right off the wall.

"Shit." she snarled, before throwing her right arm up, sending a fireball right into the hand of the waterbender who was about to ensnare her with his next move.

One of her guards struck him with a decent sized fire blast, throwing him into the icy battlement, and knocked him unconscious; she turned her attention around, before she saw two waterbenders moving at her, sending out tentacles of water. She charged up flames in her hands, dissipating the tentacles when they got close enough, but the waterbenders changed their tactics, sinking her into the ice below her feet. She grit her teeth, and raised her hands up, creating a wall of flames, which both forced them back, and gave her a moment to deal with being sunk into ice up to her knees.

Azula grit her teeth, before she created two torches on either hand, and placed them down by the snow; the heat cracked the ice, and began to slowly but surely melt it. She then covered her right fist with her bright blue flames and hammered it down into the ice; it made a loud crack, and then she took a deep breath, before redirecting her firebending into her feet, allowing her to further break the ground, and thus, allowed herself to blast free. Ice shot up with her, and she rose up into the air for a few moments, and decided to channel her firebending even more, sending her to even greater heights; she'd had enough with playing around- she needed to get to Zhao, whatever the cost.

She spun her hands around, feeling the electricity charge between her finger tips, before she channelled her chi into her left hand. The lightning bolt was bright, and deafeningly loud; it created an explosion on the icy wall, and threw a number of men back, obviously unable to keep their footing after the explosion right in front of them. When she touched her feet on the ground, she did not waste another second, sending a fire stream each into the waterbenders who had attacked her, throwing them down onto the ice again, knocking them out cold. She then put her hands behind her, creating two jets of fire, which allowed her to propel herself forward, moving along the wall with increasing speed, moving right past the men she had knocked down.

She then spun her hands around again, and charged a lightning bolt as she slowed down, the warriors around her looking at her with fear, "I am not going to say it another time." she snarled, before she decided she was going to scream, and not just any kind; the furious, monstrous kind- the kind that she only allowed out when she was in a situation that put her life or the life of her friends in danger- Zhao was a danger to not just Sokka and her friends, but the entire world.

She had had enough of keeping a serious, stoic face; she let the rage out in her expression and it seemed to scare them more than the lightning she was about to send out,"Get the fuck out of my way!" she demanded, before she shot the lightning up into the sky above her, a reverse of what would appear in nature, the lightning reaching up into the clouds; it was impressive, perhaps even beautiful, but she wasted no time to consider its majesty, turning back to face her guards, "Keep moving!" she demanded of them, before she darted ahead to the stairs, which were just in front of her.

She raced down the stairs, seeing the few warriors who remained on it; she grit her teeth and threw her arms out, creating a wave of flames that threw them back. All the bending she was doing was exhausting, she knew that, but she had more than enough rage left for Zhao; after what he'd done to her, a practical humiliation in the end, given that he didn't even give her a chance to fight, she was ready to give him and anyone following him the kind of beat-down that would leave scars- the kind her brother and the Admiral himself bore on their faces for their own failures.

She glanced back to see the guards following after her, though the waterbenders present on the walls were still harassing them. She turned around and charged some flames in her right hand, which grew brighter and hotter by the second, until she let it loose in the form of a fire stream, hitting the waterbenders back; she didn't was any more time, and made her way down the stairs, knowing that she had to get into the city; hopefully she could find Aang and Katara, if not her boyfriend himself. She needed to get to the Admiral, before it was too late.

Racing down the staircase, she paid little attention to the men she had just knocked down, and when more waterbenders approached the base of the staircase, she jumped up into the air and sent out some jets from the bottom of her feet, both softening her landing and setting their parkas alight; the distraction lasted long enough that she could send some fireballs into their heads, knocking each of them out. Turning her attention back up the stairs, she whistled, wanting to get Ty Lee to follow after her; her friend was fast, but she could see that her guards were becoming overwhelmed by the waterbenders on the wall, who had ensnared a few of them.

"Zula! We need to keep moving!" Ty Lee shouted at her with a panicked voice as she herself stood still, wondering whether she ought to assist her men; part of her told her to abandon them, as her mission was far more important than their own safety, while another part told her to go up and beat every last bender who touched her guards- they were her responsibility, after all.

It seemed that that question was answered for her by Renshu, who sent a fire stream into one of the waterbenders who had tried to trap him, before he shouted at his superior, "You have to go, Princess! Go!" he pleaded of her, Azula gritting her teeth; at that moment, she swore to herself that she'd come back for them, once it was all over.

She turned her heels and followed right after Ty Lee, making her way toward the city; they hadn't even reached the secondary walls, which they'd have to scale, likely with the assistance of her firebending, when her friend was ensnared by an ice trap, she turned around to see that one of the waterbenders she'd knocked unconscious was still moving. She snarled, and threw a fire stream into his chest, knocking him down to the ground, before she immediately turned to face her friend, using her firebending to cut the pillars of ice up, allowing the acrobat to escape.

"Thanks, Zula." she smiled at her, before they continued onward, approaching the walls; she realised that there was a moat between them and the walls which would make her next step even more challenging.

"Maybe lightning can blow a hole through it." Ty Lee suggested, the Princess narrowing her eyes, before she took a deep breath; she could conjure another lightning bolt, but she was already feeling her energy receding- she could not waste too much, or she would be unable to stop Zhao.

Before she could even make a decision, the water in the moat in front of them suddenly burst up, making her realise that they were being bent at once again; she raised her hands up and tried to create a wall of flames. The flames turned the water into steam, and she smirked, understanding that her flames were still potent enough to neutralise the enemy's attack; she turned around, wanting to try and knock out whoever attacked them. She suddenly found herself unable to move her limbs as well as she would have liked, as if her motions had become sluggish; in any other context, she might have though that she was drunk or just fatigued, but she realised with the weight on her arms, that it was steam- it was being solidified into ice, all over her extremities, making it nigh impossible for her to move.

"The fuck..." she snarled, and opened her mouth wide while she had a chance, creating a fire stream which bellowed out at once, right toward the waterbenders who'd frozen her and Ty Lee in place.

The attack, frustratingly enough, didn't do much as they used their own water streams to snuff out the attack, and splashed her, the cold water making her shiver, along with the ice that was holding her in place. She tried to breathe out flames again, but knew it would be better to just conserver her strength; she knew that she might have a chance to break out if the waterbenders got close enough that she could threaten them, hopefully to allow her free so she could go get to Zhao, or at least, teach her friends, who had Appa and could get her to the Spirit Oasis very quickly.

"Stop moving!" she heard one of them demand, "Or we'll sink you both into the ice!" he warned them, the Princess turning to face her friend, who had a disenchanted look on her face.

"Well... I guess we're stuck now." she dejectedly noted their condition; Azula turned her gaze toward the waterbenders, who approached her cautiously.

"What are you doing attacking our tribe?" one of them asked her, "Aren't you friends with the Avatar?"

"Uh, yeah, I am you dimwits!" she snarled, "I rammed the ship into the walls because it was the fastest way for me to get here. I shot down that airship; the man onboard wants to kill the moon spirit and get rid of waterbending."

"The what?" one of them looked at her with a disbelieving face, "You're joking."

"Yeah. Koi fish, spirit pond? Sound familiar?" she asked them, the waterbenders looking amongst themselves.

"The Spirit Oasis." one of them noted, before narrowing her eyes, "How do you know the moon spirit's there?"

"Because somebody I trust read through his personal documents. Some scrolls stolen from spirits-know-where told him where the moon spirit was." she explained, the waterbenders looking at her suspiciously.

'Then how can he get here? That's your airship, right? that's what they've been saying."

"It was but he stole it. He knew I was going to betray him to your tribe." she explained, making them look at her with surprise; with their attention squarely on her, she grit her teeth, "So, let me free so I can stop him. I'm the only one who I'm certain can."

"Oh." one of them mumbled, before turning to face his comrades, "You know, that makes a lot more sense than the Avatar's friend attacking us, no matter how absurd it is."

"Did you hear me, let me-" she began to demand, before suddenly, she heard a roaring above her, "Finally." she sighed with relief, glancing up to see Appa flying around above them, quickly circling down toward them.

On top of his saddle, she could see Katara, who had a clearly concerned look on her face; she obviously understood what was going on. The waterbenders turned her way with confused faces, and before they could react, the Water Tribe girl raised her hands up, ensnaring them all in ice traps; she then moved her hands around, freeing the two Fire Nation girls from the waterbenders' icy grip. She grinned, and sighed with relief, as she looked up at the Water Tribe girl.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm really glad to see you, Katara." she admitted, the girl's serious expression not faltering.

"Get on!" she demanded, "Zhao might already be at the Spirit Oasis." she explained, the Princess nodding, and with that, she and her friend quickly climbed, up onto Appa's saddle; the sky-bison groaned, obviously pleased to see them again.

"Yes, you giant furball, I may have missed you somewhat." she acknowledged, patting his fur before she turned to face Katara, who immediately whipped on the reins of the bison, who flew up into the sky, rising up above the wall, putting the expansive city back into view.

The Water Tribe girl kept her focus ahead of them, directing the sky-bison in the right direction, and the Princess couldn't help but ask her, "Have you met him yet?"

"Yes." she acknowledged, "He's a piece of shit, and he needs to go down." she agreed with the very sentiment Azula prescribed to.

"Oh, well, we agreed on something." she smirked, before she narrowed her eyes, "He gassed us last night."

"Gassed you?" she asked, narrowing her eyes, "So you were knocked out?"

"Yes. And then we woke up in prison. I got here as fast as I could. If the ship was a little damn faster, I would have shot down that airship and it would have hit the sea. Then hypothermia could've taken care of Zhao for us."

"Uh... speaking of which... Zula, I'm really cold." Ty Lee admitted, the Princess cringing as she remembered that her friend had got doused wet from the steam and then Katara melting their bonds.

She raised her hand to her friends shoulders, and heated them up; she didn't create any fire, but she heated up the air instead, and her friend smiled back at her with a relieved face.

"That's better." she thanked her, the Water Tribe girl turning her gaze ahead of them, toward the palace that sat far into the city, which they were quickly approaching.

"So, I think we can admit, Sokka was right." Katara noted, making Azula cringe as she realised how correct a statement that was; all of her boyfriend's fears had come true- the Princess was just lucky that she hadn't been thrown overboard by the Admiral while she was unconscious.

"Y-yes." she muttered softly, not wanting to say it too loudly, "He was right. We were so close, but Zhao played me just as much as I played him." she conceded, before narrowing her eyes, "Sokka will be there, won't he?"

"He's probably at the Spirit Oasis right now." she confirmed, before narrowing her eyes, "Aang's coming, but I don't know if he was quick enough."

"Sokka can stop him, I'm sure of it." the Princess declared, the Water Tribe girl grimacing.

"If he can't... then, there mightn't be much of a world to save after this is over." she acknowledged, the Princess narrowing her eyes; she knew what was at stake, and she was ready to fight her all to save the spirits, knowing the power they held.

"The alliance is dead. At the very least, we might be able to save waterbending."

Eight minutes earlier...

Sokka did not relent to run; he needed to do so if he wanted to reach the Spirit Oasis in time. The Spirit Oasis of the Moon and Ocean Spirits was under threat, and it was up to him to protect them. As soon as he had heard the explosion, he had left the igloo, and realised that the airship had been shot down; though his first thoughts went to Azula, he understood that there were only two reasons the airship was being shot down. Because the Princess was on board and Zhao had figured out what happened, or because of the opposite- he could have been on board and she was the one to shoot it down. It didn't matter which was the case; the Admiral was coming, and he needed to be ready. The thoughts of the danger his girlfriend might be in first came to mind, but he forced them to the back of his mind, knowing that his own role was too important to give up just to try and find out if she was okay. She was a survivor, and he trusted she would be alright.

He had already just changed into his Fire Nation disguise, and tied his hair up into a top-knot, making himself look like a Fire Nation soldier, barring the fact he had blue eyes and the swarthy complexion of a Water Tribesman. Hopefully Zhao didn't recognise him at once, and just believed him to be another soldier; he had a cloak around his shoulders, red, like he'd expect the soldiers' to be. He was already running through the city, and the warriors who saw him were obviously confused; they probably recognised him, but that didn't make his appearance any less concerning. He feared they might attack him, but nobody was fast enough to try and call him out on his attire. He was at that moment racing up the staircase toward the Chief's Palace; behind it sat one of the entrances to the Spirit Oasis, which he'd need to take to reach the spirits. He wasn't going to enter at once, wanting to appear with the other Fire Nation forces, so he could fool them into believing he was one of them.

When he reached the top of the staircase, he could see a few warriors standing by the entrance of the palace, who stepped forward as they saw him running in their direction; he didn't actually want to deal with them, but they seemed to make it their business, readying their spears in hand, "Stop!" they demanded, the Water Tribe teen staring them down.

"It's me, Sokka!" he clarified, raising his hands into the air, "You know, the guy who dressed up and worked for the Princess." he explained exactly why he was even wearing a Fire Nation outfit in the first place, "I know they're coming this way, so I'm going to trick them into thinking I'm one them." he explained, before narrowing his eyes, "You know what, could one of you do me a favour?"

"What?" they asked him, sounding understandably concerned.

"Whack me in the leg. Not enough that it's really going to injure me, but to make it hurt." he asked, "I need to be convincing... and it's easier to play off being hurt." he argued, the Water Tribe warriors looking at each other with confused faces, before one of them stepped forward.

"Okay, Sokka." he accepted his request, before nodding at one of his comrades, who whacked him right in the left leg with the blunt end of his spear.

"Ack!" he cried out, gritting his teeth, before he made a cringed smile, "Ah, yep, that works." he nodded, realising that despite the pain, his leg was still working perfectly fine.

"No problem." the warrior acknowledged with a slightly amused voice, before Sokka raced off around the exterior palace, knowing that he had to get to the Spirit Oasis at once.

The Water Tribe teen did not slow his pace, and though his leg hurt, it did not distract him from the matter at hand; the palace was quite large, but he was able to quickly get around to the rear of the palace, where there were some buildings in the way of his access point; he didn't worry about that, as he was able to quickly climb up by reaching for the shingles. If there was one thing he was glad about Azula training him nearly every day, it was that his physical condition had never been better- he was as ready as he could be for facing the Admiral and his goons, if that was what it came to.

He then paced across the roof, and eyed around for evidence of the Fire Nation forces; he couldn't see any signs of footsteps or struggle around the area, which suggested that they either hadn't taken that path to the Spirit Oasis, or hadn't arrived yet. He eyed a wooden door that sat by the northern end of the palace, lined up against the towering walls of ice. He pulled it open, and smiled with relief as he realised Zhao wasn't there- all he could see was the lush green of the garden that sat in the middle of the oasis. However, despite the tranquility before him, Sokka knew that the Admiral would be arriving soon, and if not him, then hopefully his girlfriend. He thus decided to close the door and pace back toward the palace; he was going to play off being an injured straggler, and hopefully they'd believe his act.

The Water Tribe warrior approached the doorway at the rear of the palace, and eyed around, realising there were no guards about; he though that was rather stupid, seeing that he'd already told Arnook about the Spirit Oasis and what Zhao wanted to do. He pushed the doors open, and glanced inside, seeing that nobody was around the hallway of the palace; suddenly he heard what had to be an explosion from inside the palace.

"Oh, shit." he mumbled under his breath, guessing well enough what he had just heard, "Aang, Azula... somebody... hurry up." he grit his teeth, before eyeing the various doors in the hallway, he opened open at random, assuming that he was in some kind of storeroom for food; though he'd like to steal some of the Chief's jerky, he decided that ought to occur after he'd dealt with the Admiral.

He hid in that room, patiently waiting for the attackers to move through the hallway; they wanted to get to the Spirit Oasis, so they'd have to go through that way. He heard some shouts, and then he heard footsteps coming his way; he tensed up, hoping whoever was coming didn't have the same idea as him; the footsteps pushed past the doorway, and then suddenly, he heard what had to be some waterbending, the sound of ice cracking and shifting around.

"Oh... that's smart." he conceded, guessing that one of the Chief's men had decided to cover up the entrance to the Spirit Oasis, knowing that slowing down Zhao was one of their only options.

"You think that will stop us?" he heard the callous voice of the Admiral himself, and then the sound of a fire stream rushing past the door, moving outside, presumably to strike the waterbender who had covered up the entrance, "Nobody's stopping me. Not any of you savages, nor the Princess. I'm going to achieve my destiny." he declared, Sokka covering his mouth to quieten his breathing, knowing he had to remain calm; facing the Admiral was inevitable, but he had to do so in a way that would minimise danger to himself.

"And once I take care of the moon, I'll go for the Fire Lord next. That bastard is going to pay for what he did to my face." he declared, stepping out of the doorway and presumably toward the Spirit Oasis's door, and heard them moving up outside; there was few moments silence, before Zhao shouted out, "Take formation, we're going to break through this door."

Sokka heard the sound of fire streams being sent out, the rushing of hot air sounding a little too familiar to him- all he could remember was the training he did with Azula; because of her beat-downs, he was ready to face any firebender, though he was unsure if could beat a dozen of them. He took a deep breath, and fastened the cloak over his head, before he stepped out of the storeroom, and began to pace back down the hallway, right toward the Admiral and his men, pretending to be an injured soldier.

"Urgh..." he groaned, "A-Admiral, the Avatar, he's already at the palace doors." he lied, Zhao turning around to face him, unable to see Sokka's face as he kept it down; his fake deep voice did not concern the Admiral.

"Well, we need to melt this stupid ice quickerǃ" he shouted at his men, before he placed a hand on his shoulder, "Are you ready to fight?"

"Y-yes... sir." he assured him with a pained voice; Zhao smirked, but when their eyes met, he looked as if he had just shit his pants.

"Youǃ" he raised his voice, cut off by Sokka jabbing him his right hand, square in the jugular; he was thrown back, and Zhao's men turned around, not having much time to react, as he threw his boomerang right into one of their helmets, knocking said soldier out cold, before he grasped the arm of another as he tried to firebend at him.

"Kill the savageǃ" the Admiral screamed out, his voice suggesting the kind of terror that only Azula herself could induce; perhaps he had come to realise the danger he posed, having been trained by the Princess herself.

His men firebent toward Sokka, who jumped out of the way, kicking one of them in the shin before he grasped another by the arm with his left hand, causing his fire stream to fire up into the air. He still resisted, and the Water Tribe warrior decided to stop his efforts by tightening his grip with his hand, taking the other and hammering it right into the elbow joint, audibly ripping the tendons; he didn't just need to chi-block, not when so much was at stake.

He fell back onto the ground, dodging a fireball that was aimed at his head, before he tripped over one of the soldiers who had tried to lunge at him. He then picked up his boomerang from the ground, as it had been lying nearby, and threw it right into Zhao's face, though he covered it by raising his hand, which was slashed open instead. He screamed out in pain, and Sokka cocked a smirk; he wasn't playing around- he wanted some well-deserved retribution upon the Admiral. He didn't know how many people his barrage in Yu Dao killed, but he was sure whatever pain he was about to suffer would make up for it, at least in part.

"Does it hurt?" he quipped in response, before he leapt up, chi-blocking two soldiers who tried to tackle him; they lurched back, and when they tried to bend, they could only look on in fear.

"Sir, he's like the acrobatǃ" one of them shouted out, which didn't seem to soothe Zhao's fears one bit; he did respond to that warning, however, throwing a fire stream right into Sokka's chest; he was thrown back, and hit the door of the palace, which hurt his back.

He groaned, knowing that he ought to have been faster; he was just lucky Azula wasn't there to chide him, though he'd certainly prefer his assistance and to team up against Zhao, to finally punish him for his misdeeds against the world.

Though his back hurt, he was more than capable of using his legs, and rose back up to his feet, which seemed to surprise his enemies, "I'm wearing the same fucking fireproof armour as you idiotsǃ" he mocked them with as boisterous a tone possible, wanting to chide them for their ignorance, before he charged forward.

A fireball wasn't much when he could just block it with his forearm guards, and then he proceeded to chi-block one of them, paralysing his legs before he kneed him in the chin, throwing his helmet off his head. He weaved about, dodging a fire stream from one of the soldiers before he jabbed another in the leg, disabling it; he fell down to a knee and Sokka dropped down, using said soldier as cover, and made his comrades inadvertently firebend at him. He grunted with pain and the Water Tribesman grasped his helmet, taking it off the enemy's head, and placing it on his own.

"Thanks for the protection." he smirked at him, before jabbing him in the face, making him sputter out blood and fall back.

He then rose up to his feet, weaving out of the way of another volley of fireballs that was sent his way, this time by firebenders further away from him. He quickly realised that Zhao and his men were going to melt open the Spirit Oasis, and thus decided that preventing that was a far more reasonable thing to focus on than simply knocking out every man who came his way. He picked up his boomerang once more, and tossed it toward one of the men beside the Admiral, who was knocked out by the weapon striking his helmet. They immediately turned around and their attention was momentarily drawn to the Water Tribesman.

"Fireǃ" Zhao commanded, and with that, his men moved into form, sending out their attacks right toward him; though he was able to weave out of the way of one of them, he was thrown back off his feet once more by two fire streams striking him at once.

Skidding along the ice for a few moments, he grit his teeth, just glad he had the helmet on to protect his head from being violently slammed down into the ground. He felt a hand grasp his right, and he turned around, noting a soldier was trying to restrain him before making a final blow. Sokka was able to pull himself closer by abusing the grip his enemy held on his arm, before he tripped him over; the downside was that the soldier twisted the Water Tribesman's wrist in the process, though the pain was bearable. He rose back up, grasping the arm of a soldier who tried to firebend at him at point blank range; he then jabbed him in the gut with his right hand, blocking his bending.

He immediately grasped his opponent by the neck, holding him in a headlock, which made him a useful human shield against the inevitable firebending attacks that would come from Zhao's remaining men. He could clearly see that they were about to break into the Spirit Oasis, so he decided that he had to take a desperate measure; he blocked a fire stream with the soldier as his shield, and he grunted in pain.

"I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not." he bluntly admitted, before he threw the soldier forward; he stumbled a little, and most importantly, got closer to the Admiral.

His men weren't able to hit Sokka while he was behind his 'shield', and he charged into the soldier once more, kicking him down and leaping over his back, ready to pounce on the soldiers. He picked up his boomerang which had been laying between them, and threw it into another soldier, who was only struck, but not knocked out by the weapon; he as clearly hurt though, and with only five more men by Zhao's side, he felt that he might have a chance to defeat them.

He drew out his bone dagger which he had hidden behind his cloak, and slashed it at the Admiral, hoping to kill him then and there; he wasn't fast enough to catch him, as he was forced back by a fire blast to his chest, once again. He didn't fall over, given the attack wasn't potent enough to force him over, but the next few attacks from his men did force him over, and he groaned with pain as his extremities were struck; the burns were light, but that made them worse- they stung all the more when they were only touching the skin for just a moment. He grit his teeth, and immediately moved to roll around, making sure that if any of his uniform had caught aflame, it wouldn't burn through.

Though he was on the ground, he was able to somersault backwards and dodge a fireball sent his way, and raised his arms to block a fire whip; it latched onto his arms, and he decided to let the attack to its work, and moved closer, which effectively made the enemy's attack pointless. He kicked the firebender in the shin before jabbing him in the neck, paralysing him. He then turned around and realised that Zhao had opened up the door to the Spirit Oasis; he hadn't stepped inside yet, but Sokka couldn't waste another moment. He raced toward the Admiral, hoping to grapple him and prevent him from getting any close to the spirits, but he was stopped by the man himself throwing a fire blast into Sokka's chest, throwing him back through into one of Zhao's own men. He grunted as his back struck a soldier, and the two of them fell down to the ground. Though he was a little disoriented, he didn't waste the opportunity to elbow the man he'd just fallen on top of in the nose; he cried out with pain and flinched as he reached for his face; the Water Tribesman then glanced around, trying to find his boomerang, which wasn't helped by the clunky helmet he was wearing on his head.

Before he could find his boomerang, and get after Zhao, he heard a shout of fear, "He's here!" one of the soldiers shouted out with fear before suddenly there was the sound of water splashing around; Sokka rose up slightly, and turned to face Aang, who was in a waterbending form- he immediately regretted wearing the firebender's helmet, as he was flung back by his friend's waterbending into a nearby wall, and frozen in place. He groaned with annoyance before he called out to his friend.

"Aang!" he shouted at him, "It's meǃ I'm in disguise!"

"Oh! Sorry, Sokka!" he apologised, sounding rather surprised to see him, before his eyes darted into the Spirit Oasis.

"Zhao's going for the spirits!" he shouted at his friend, who immediately took action, sprinting through the broken doorway before he sent a stream of water right toward the Admiral; though Sokka couldn't see what was going on, still stuck to the wall, he heard the sound of the Admiral crying out.

"Aang, let me loose." he asked of his friend, who immediately turned around and raised a hand, liquefying the water he'd used to freeze him to the wall; the Water Tribe warrior slumped down, taking a knee for a moment before he threw his helmet off of his head, knowing that he needed to be able to see properly for what came next.

He dashed over to his boomerang, before he followed the young Avatar into the spirit Oasis, where he could see Zhao, standing by the pool with his body frozen in place by a massing of ice, which looked to be a splash of water frozen by Aang's bending; the Admiral's firebending was not to be underestimated though, and he was already breaking free of the bonds he had been frozen in. He immediately drew out his boomerang and threw it, timing his throw so it'd reach Zhao as soon as he broke free. He bellowed out flames from his hands, before wringing himself free, aiming to throw a fireball into the Spirit Oasis; he didn't get the chance to send those flames out as the boomerang flew around and struck him in the back of the neck, disabling his bending. The Admiral didn't realise this however, and simply turned to face them with a triumphant look on his face.

"It's too late! The Water Tribes will be extinguished by my hand!" he declared before thrusting his hand forward, only for his jaw to drop, realising he couldn't firebend.

"Aha! You just got Long-Feng-ed!" he proclaimed proudly, the Admiral's eyes widening as he realised he couldn't attack the Moon Spirit, let alone defend himself from the wave of water Aang pulled out of either side of the oasis.

He threw the water over him and froze him in place; Zhao was just standing there, unable to do anything but raise his arms and grimace in fear as the Avatar ensnared him.

"It's over, Zhao. You can't harm the spirits." he warned him, "You nearly won today, but Sokka's smarter than you are tough." he declared, proudly smiling at his friend, who nodded before the two of them approached the Admiral.

"You wouldn't happen to have any way to properly shackle him with waterbending, would you?" he asked his friend, who shook his head.

"No. I can make an ice trap, but I'm pretty sure that a firebender like him could melt it." he conceded, "we'll just have to wait for the Chief's men to get here. A lot of them got beat up, but I was able to get past the men Zhao left in the palace." he explained, narrowing his eyes at the Admiral as they approached him, "Where's Azula? Did you hurt her?" he asked him; Sokka was a little surprised he hadn't asked the question himself, but he was a little concentrated on gloating over their victory to consider where his girlfriend was at that very moment.

"The Princess nearly killed me." he snarled, 'If the Water Tribe has half a brain, they'll throw her in prison for ramming my battleship into the walls."

"Wait... what?" Sokka asked him, turning his eyes to Aang; he'd heard a large bang earlier on, but he had assumed it had had something to do with the airship itself, not with a battleship hitting the walls of the city, "The battleship?"

"Yeah." he nodded, "I saw it coming toward the city on Appa. I'm pretty sure Katara went over to make sure the people onboard weren't a danger, and to find Azula." he explained, the Water Tribe warrior nodding.

"Ah, so they should be here pretty soon, I guess." he guessd, before he turned around, hearing the sound of footsteps in the distance, that even if Zhao was frozen, his men were still well and truly alive; a few of them were standing at the other end of the Spirit Oasis, and had taken firebending stances already.

"Aw, come on." Sokka groaned with frustration, picking up his boomerang, which Zhao luckily hadn't touched after it hit him in the head; he turned his eyes to Aang, who was already taking a waterbending form, "Let them have a wash, Aang." he suggested, his friend smirking before he drew out some water from the oasis and created two water whips in his arms.

He threw his hands forward, and moved in a swift, flowing motion to strike one of the men over, before whacking another into the water; he cried out as he fell down into the water, and Sokka turned his attention up to the entrance, where he could see a few more soldiers approaching from, taking form at once.

"Get me out of here!" Zhao shouted out, demanding his men to approach, and Sokka retaliated by suckerpunching the Admiral in the chin, and he was unable to react other than to wince as his head was throttled backward.

"Shut up, you're ruining my concentration." he snarled, before turning his gaze and around; he readied his boomerang in his right hand, taking aim at one of the soldiers that Aang wasn't close enough to to hit with his water whips.

He threw his boomerang out, and it flew through the air, striking one of the soldiers in the shoulder; he was thrown to the ground, but the hit didn't seem to knock him out. He did not relent to charge on ahead over the bridge, making his way toward the closest firebender, who tried to send a fire stream right into his face; the Water tribesman was expecting it, after all, and ducked under the attack, before he jammed his opponent in the legs, making him fall down onto his knees. He snarled with annoyance and raised his hand up, and tried to burn Sokka's face. He didn't get the chance, as his hands were both chi-blocked a moment later. Unlike when he sparred Azula, the firebenders he was facing were slower and weren't as cautious as she was when it came to his chi-blocking; he mightn't have been as good as Ty Lee, but he could certainly beat the men before him, especially given he had Aang's help.

He weaved out of the way of a fireball, and was forced to charge toward one of the firebenders, who was sending a volley of attacks his way; he was struck in the chest a few times, but the fireproof plating of the armour proved useful once again. In the cold, their firebending was a lot less potent and thus, less of a danger to him, especially given they probably had had very little time to adapt to the new environment they found themselves in. He heard water rushing out behind him and ducked down, watching as a stream of water smacked one of the soldiers in the chest, throwing him backwards. Sokka then took the opportunity to lunge forward and chi-block the man who had been attacking him, getting his right wrist first, before he kicked him in his shin. He fell to one knee, and the Water Tribe warrior cocked a smirk.

"Sweet dreams." he mocked his opponent, before flicking his steel-plated toe tips into the firebender's head; he was out cold at once, and the warrior immediately tensed up his stance, ready to face off whoever came his way next.

He jumped down to the ground, dodging a cutting wave of flames, before he was forced to use the unconscious soldier as a shield against a barrage of fireballs sent out by three soldiers at once. He realised that his boomerang was beside them, so he'd need to beat them to retrieve it; he whistled, catching Aang's attention, and the young Avatar raised his hands up, creating a wave which pushed right down the length of the Spirit Oasis, before it spurt out and caught the soldiers, ensnaring them as it solidified into ice.

He approached the group, and eyed his boomerang, before he noted that there were a few more soldiers coming up their way; they seemed to have come from inside the palace, and must have been the ones his friend had mentioned earlier. They were almost entirely non-benders, unlike the men he had just been fighting, and had a number of pikes and swords as they approached the entrance to the Spirit Oasis; they were clearly injured from the fighting, and he assumed that the Chief's men would soon arrive and capture the Fire Nation forces, though he guessed that they had a little bit more than usual on their plate with a battleship ramming into the walls.

He dashed over to his boomerang, and grasped it, throwing it toward one of the soldiers who approached; he was struck in the head and knocked out cold, dropping his sword- Sokka didn't know how to use a sword, but he was pretty sure he'd be better off with a weapon than none at all. One of the soldiers preemptively charged at him with a pike, and the Water Tribesman stepped out the way, tripping the man over; he stumbled and fell into the water behind him, which made the Water Tribesman let out a little laugh.

"Seriously?" he asked them, before he shook his head, gesturing for more of them to approach, "Are you going to run for your lives or have a swim?" he asked them, the soldiers seeming unfazed by his humoured commentary.

Two of them charged at him, wielding jian swords, and he ducked under a sword swing, before jabbing its wielder in the gut; he blocked one of his chi-paths, making his legs buckle underneath him; the other soldier tried to stab Sokka, but he was able to kick the blade with his boot, forcing the soldier to step back. The Water Tribe warrior took the opportunity and raised his leg right up, kicking the enemy square in the chest. He turned around momentarily and realised that Aang, in focusing on the firebenders who were trying to reach Zhao, hadn't been paying much attention to the Admiral himself, who was trying to firebend again; chi-blocking by boomerang usually didn't last too long, while wasn't good, given that his friend still had to defend himself, let alone consider their enemy going for the spirits once again.

He didn't know what to do other than to shout to his friend, "Aangǃ Stop Zhaoǃ" he tried to get his attention; the young Avatar immediately moved himself around, reaching into the water beside him, before he threw it over at Zhao once more, freezing him again.

Sokka would have been relieved by this, but his friend was forced further on defending himself; the Water Tribesman too faced the threat of the Fire Nation soldiers who were approaching him still, and he was forced to weave out of the way of a sword that was swung his way. He jabbed the wielder of said blade in the arm, and chi-blocked it; his right hand went limp, and he struggled to retain a hold on his sword. The warrior tried to jab him again, but he was forced to move away as one of his comrades swung his own sword down, nearly slashing across Sokka's arms. He dropped down and made a sweeping kick, tripping the soldier over, before he punched him right in the face; he sputtered blood from his mouth, and slumped down onto the icy ground.

The Water Tribesman was forced to duck down once more as a pike was thrust his way; he grasped the shaft of the weapon, and jabbed the blunt end into the wielder's side, making him groan with pain. He then ripped the pike out of his hands and swung the sharp end around to whack him in his helmet; he was thrown to the ground, and with that, Sokka moved forward, knowing he would need his boomerang if he hoped to defeat the other firebenders. He swung the end of the pike down onto a sword, getting it out of his way, before he spun the pike around and threw it at a soldier's head; only the polearm hit him, but that was enough of a distraction to allow him to lean down and draw out his boomerang. He proceeded to throw it around, hitting another soldier in the head, the weapon flying back into his hand; he then leapt forward and jammed him a few times in the gut, blocking his chi paths. He fell to his knees, and Sokka didn't waste a moment to throw his weapon again.

"Take that!" he grinned as he realised that he was winning; the next soldier to be hit was thrown back and slipped over, falling onto the icy ground, and the one after him found himself tripped over by the boomerang hitting his shin.

He glanced back and realised that Aang was still fighting the firebenders, and his fears seemed to be quickly becoming a reality. The Avatar was fighting his hardest, freezing soldiers in place, dispersing flames with his waterbending and sending out air blasts to knock them away, but he couldn't fight indefinitely, let alone focus on Zhao, who was quickly melting himself free. He ran, as fast as he could, with his boomerang in hand, toward the Admiral; he couldn't let the spirits be killed- he couldn't fail. He was the one who was meant to be good and righteous, unlike the pompous shitheads who lived in the very place in which he stood. He was no saviour, that was Aang's job, but he was going to do what was right, and if consciously killing Admiral Zhao was what it took to be right, then he'd have to do it. He wondered what his father would have to say; he remembered how he felt about what Katara did the Southern Raiders. This was the same thing; he would not disapprove, not in the slightest.

"Zhao!" he shouted out, getting the Admiral's attention; he was forced to weave under a fire stream that was sent his way, but he continued racing toward the bridge, hoping to get over to the spirit pool before the Admiral could make a move.

He was yet to be free of his icy bonds, but flames were coming out of his hands; he snarled with anger and forcefully broke himself free, and the Water Tribesman still wasn't close enough to get an assuredly hit. Despite his fears, Sokka threw his boomerang toward him, and it struck him square in the chest; the blow didn't seem to injure him, but simply gave the Water Tribe warrior time- the precious time he'd need to stop him. He charged at Zhao, who threw a fire stream his way; though it hurt to get blasted in the chest by another fire stream, forcing him to the ground, he knew that if he was firebending toward him, he wasn't attacking the spirits. He heard Aang cry out, obviously worried about his friend.

"Sokka!" he called out his name before he threw a water whip toward the Admiral, who was tripped over.

The Water Tribesman grit his teeth, and pulled himself up to his feet, drawing his bone dagger out once more; he ran toward Zhao, but was forced to cower down from the fire stream that one of the Admiral's men sent his way. He somersaulted forward onto the grass, and then moved right in front of the pond where the two koi fish were swimming. Another fire blast came his way, and he raised his arms to block the Admiral's attack.

"No." he snarled, readying his dagger, "You don't get to win."

"Die." Zhao simply told him, charging two fire streams in his hand- he only had a moment before he'd be flung over into the water by his attack.

He lunged forward to attack the Admiral, but instead of stabbing him in the throat, as he had hoped to do, his enemy cowered down in fear. Sokka didn't realise why he did that until his entire field of view was covered by a massive blue fire stream; his eyes widened with awe, and he realised what had just happened- Azula had arrived, and Zhao was doomed because of it. He watched as his opponent scampered away, running for the bridge; he reached for his boomerang, which was on the ground nearby, and both he and Aang moved to attack him at once. They weren't as fast as the Princess however, who, standing at the other end of the Spirit Oasis, shot out a lightning bolt from her finger tip and struck the Admiral square in the chest, throwing him back into the water that surrounded the small grassy island.

He looked over at his unconscious body, watching it sink into the water; he narrowed his eyes, wondering if letting him drown and thus die would be a fair fate. Sokka, not an arbiter of justice by any means, decided that he'd let Aang choose. The young Avatar pushed some soldiers out of the way before he approached the spirit pool, letting Azula, Katara and Ty Lee, who had just stepped inside, to deal with the other soldiers. He looked down at the spirits with relief, before he reached over to the water nearby, and raised his hand up, bringing up Zhao's unconscious body, the fact that he didn't seem to be dead surprised the Water Tribesman. He was sure that after betraying Azula, she would have killed him.

He turned around, and saw as the others demolished what remained of the soldiers, Azula knocking them out with fire blasts, Ty Lee paralysing every man she could reach and Katara freezing them in place with her waterbending. He was so relieved to see his girlfriend, but he knew that she had some questions to answer; the fact Zhao had even gotten to the Spirit Oasis in the first place was something she needed to explain- he was under the presupposition that she'd had everything under control, and it clearly showed that she didn't. Once the enemy were all but beaten, Sokka sighed, running his hand through his messed up hair, and slowly moved toward Azula; the leg that he had gotten one of the warriors to hit certainly wasn't the thing that was hurting the most at that point. His hands were probably burned, not to mention he probably had bruises all over his chest, though he hadn't had any time to check for that specifically.

"What..." he mumbled, Azula staring him down, and deciding to approach as he stopped walking, "What happened to you? How... how did Zhao even get here?"

"He found us out." she simply told him, before she grimaced, "I failed. I had to ram his battleship into the walls, and luckily, that got Katara's attention." she explained, looking at him with an ashamed face, her eyes darting downward- she usually didn't seem to openly regret her actions, but it seemed that day was different, "I came as quickly as I could. It seems that you and Aang... had it under control."

"Not really." he shook his head, before turning his gaze back to Zhao's unconscious body, "I nearly got him before he even got inside... but I'm not that fast."

"You did good, Sokka." she assured him, placing a hand on his shoulder; he cringed and looked away.

"Why did you do it?" he asked her, knowing what the answer would be.

"Because I thought I was right. But I wasn't... again." she conceded honestly; she could admit her faults, but that was only because she had failed so badly before- Zuko was the Fire Lord, after all, and that fact was an ever present reminder, "I knew I shouldn't have taken you with me, and I'm glad. I don't know what he would have done to you."

The Water Tribe warrior nodded, understanding that she was right in that initial presumption, though he understood that the whole plan was flawed to begin with; she had thought Zhao would not see through her, when he had.

"You shouldn't've gone, Azula." he simply told her, before stepping past her; the Princess turned around to face him, seeming confused as to where he was going.

"What are you doing, Sokka?"

"Going to see Arnook. Hopefully they won't have you imprisoned." he noted, the warrior's eyes narrowing in thought, "What about your guards?"

"They're probably in shackles as we speak. There were a lot of soldiers at the walls." she admitted with a serious face, "I need to speak with the Chief."

"No, no, you don't." he stressed, raising a hand, "I can't have you there. You literally rammed a battleship into his city's walls."

"I-" she began before clenching her fists, "I need to free my men." she declared, the Water Tribesman nodding; he knew that, and that's half the reason he was going to see the Chief.

If he wasn't worrying about their fates, he might have just told everyone to get on Appa, fly back to their igloo, get their things and fly south; the guards had served his girlfriend well, and he knew that to betray them and leave them there would be a grievous dishonour.

"I'll organise that, Azula." he assured her, before turning his gaze over to Katara, who was looking at him with a worried face.

"S-Sokka." she whispered his name, before running over to him, hugging him tightly, "You look really hurt."

"Well, I am." he noted, "You wouldn't happen to be able to heal me, could you?" he asked his sister, who nodded.

"I can, we should get you back to the igloo if we're going to do that." he noted, the Water Tribe warrior shaking his head.

"No, I need to speak to Arnook." he argued, his sister shaking her head.

"No, no, I'll handle it. Maybe I can get Pakku to help." she argued, making him scoff.

"Yeah, I doubt he'll be much help when it comes to Azula." he noted, gesturing back toward his girlfriend, who was still standing there with a solemn, pained look on her face; she was not angry at all, which surprised him- she just looked guilty over all that had happened.

He raised his hand to his face, and realised how sore he was; he fell down to one knee, and he glanced up at his sister, who reached out to the water beside them, and immediately pulled a stream over to him, covering his forehead with it.

"Urgh." he groaned, before he felt an unusual sensation across his face and into his head; it was like the opposite of a headache, and it made no sense, but he smiled, feeling the pain recede away, at least in that area of his body, "Th-thanks, Katara."

"No, Thank you, Sokka." she assured him, "Thanks for beating up Pakku a second time. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do this." she smiled at him brightly, before running the water down over his chest plate; Sokka turned around and saw Aang approaching them, standing up beisde Azula, who watched silently as he was healed.

"Are you... how much did they hurt you, Sokka?" he asked the Water Tribesman, who chuckled.

"Ah, it's not that bad." he assured him, making a small smile, "That one explosion was worse."

"Do we need to get the Water tribe warriors to help deal with all the soldiers here?"the young Air Nomad asked him, the Water Tribesman shaking his head.

"They'll be here soon enough." he stressed, before turning his gaze over to Ty Lee, who was standing by the spirit pool, over in the distance; she glanced back up to face them and made a small smile- the spirits were safe, after all, and that was what counted.

"How are we going to get the Chief to understand all this?" Aang asked them, Katara and Azula both cringing at the question.

"You're the Avatar. Persuasion is one of your powers." the Princess suggested, making the boy look at her with a confused face.

"No it isn't." he stressed in return; the Water Tribe warrior snickered, remembering the feast they had gotten at Kyoshi Island, as well as all the respect and awe he had been showered with.

"My full stomach on Kyoshi Island would like to disagree with you there." he argued, the young Avatar looking at him with a perplexed face.

"Am I asking Chief Arnook for a feast because the Moon Spirit didn't die?" he asked, making Sokka chuckle, pulling himself up as Katara moved her hands away from him; his pains were soothed, and he felt confident enough to make one little quip.

"I love food, but you know, that brotherly bond I have with the Captain means so much more to be than that." he declared, Azula obviously picking up on his sarcasm.

"If he heard you say that, he might just shed a tear." she argued, before narrowing her eyes at Katara, "Please, go make sure my men don't end up in a Water Tribe prison. I have a duty to them."

"I don't think they're going to be as inclined to believe that." she admitted, before she nodded, "But I'll try."

"And if you don't succeed, we'll break them out of prison." Sokka argued, before wincing as he tried to get up, "Okay, maybe not me. But I assume Ty Lee might be able to help."

"I will." she assured them, "They're my friends now. I don't want to let them be stuck here."

"Oh, so did you get the 'beat you up until you're best friends' treatment from the guards to?" he asked her, making the acrobat chuckle.

"I wouldn't say best friends." she admitted, "But I know they're good guys. All they wanted to do was help Azula... and now look what's happened."

"Without their help we wouldn't have taken control of the boat, let alone got past that wall." Azula argued, before narrowing her eyes, "They did their jobs today." she noted, before turning her gaze down to her boyfriend, "As did you, Sokka."

"I wish I didn't have to." he sighed, before leaning back, "Can you heal my leg too?'

"Wait, your leg?" Katara raised a brow, "How'd you hurt that?"

"Asked a warrior to whack it so I could more convincingly pretend to be one of Zhao's men." he clarified, making his sister roll her eyes, before she drew the water out once more.

"You're an idiot, Sokka."

"Yeah, an idiot who just saved the Water Tribes... though Aang did most of the muscle-work."

"I came just in time." he admitted, before smiling at him, "You deserve some rest."

"And some jerky." he added, eyeing around to not see any willing volunteers, before he pouted slightly, "Please?"

"Urgh." his girlfriend rolled her eyes, before she paced off toward the destroyed doorway of the Spirit Oasis.

"Where are you going?" Katara asked her, the Princess gesturing outside, toward Appa, who was idly about the exterior of the palace.

"Well, the jerky isn't going to get itself, is it?" she asked, the Water tribe girl shaking her head; Sokka pursed his lips upward before chuckling to himself.

"Jerky with legs." he murmured under his breath, making his sister look at him with a slightly confused expression; obviously it was as weird thing to say, but all he could think about was the jerky walking on over to him, offering itself up as a sacrifice to the victorious warrior.

"Isn't that just seals?" she asked him, making him narrow his eyes at her; that had to be the most absurd thing she'd ever said, given that he was certain seals just had flippers and a tail.

"In what cursed world do seals have legs?" he asked her, making Katara grimace as she realise the absurdity of what she had just said.

"Pretend I didn't say anything."

"Seals with legs." he murmured to himself, "Wouldn't that just be a really fat dog?"

"I don't want to think about that, Sokka." she shook her head, before turning her gaze over toward Appa, "Does she usually get you things?"

"Nope." he admitted, "But, she knows I've done a good job." he proudly added, "And that I was right."

"Don't get too cocky." she warned him, "Otherwise, you'll... well, I don't know what'll happen. It can't be good."

"Something something Zuko." he mumbled, making her narrow her eyes at him.

"Do you think she's going to want to compromise with him?" she asked, Ty Lee clearing her throat.

"Not at all." she clarified, "It'd be best if we just avoid that bridge until we really need to cross it."

"You don't want... Mai to get hurt because of all this, right?" Sokka asked her, the acrobat nodding.

"I don't."

"Well, I certainly know somebody's going to hurt, and I have a feeling it's the guy who's even worse than that shithead." he gestured over to Zhao's unconscious body.

"Stand back if you know what's good for you!" he heard the distinctive sound of Azula's voice, loud and agitated, in the distance.

Aang and Ty Lee immediately dashed over to the entrance of the Spirit Oasis, and turned back their way, "Oh, it's the waterbenders."

"Tell them if they attack her, I'll kill the Moon Spirit myself." he quipped, making Aang's eyes widen.

"Wait, what?" he asked him, the Water Tribesman cringing.

"Ah, no, that's way too extreme a bluff." he conceded, before turning his eyes to Katara, "Please, go do some persuading. I know you like to rant at people for being mean or stupid, so... go on." he gestured toward the entrance.

"I'm warning you!" the Princess shouted out once more as she stepped back toward the entrance, a fireball in one hand and the jerky in another.

His sister stepped forward, and his girlfriend turned around, noting that she was approaching, "Ah, finally, do the thing again." she requested, making Katara roll her eyes.

"I'm not attacking them." she retorted, before stepping forward, "Please, stop. We need to speak to the Chief, right now." she spoke out toward the waterbenders, who were all standing in form, ready to pounce their way.

Azula strode over toward Sokka, and threw the jerky into his hands; he pulled himself up slightly, "Well, I guess we might be going to prison." he noted, making her roll her eyes.

"It isn't the first time we've been in danger of that." she argued, before she knelt down beside him, "Don't worry, Aang and Katara will be able to handle it."

"You're telling me not to worry?" he asked her, genuinely confused by her words, "You look like you're one water whip away from losing your shit." he noted, making her roll her eyes.

"Your bluntness continues to surprise me." she noted, before reaching forward, offering him a hand, "Let's get you to an actual healer."

"And what if the soldiers try to attack you?"

"Then I'll beat them and take you anyway. Nobody's going to refuse me." she declared proudly, before he accepted her hand; it was the first time they'd made physical contact since they kissed after he'd been paralysed- he missed that moment, and he missed that time.

He didn't know if he could be sure that she'd trust him to be by her side, to fight with her and put himself in danger, just as he couldn't trust her to just up and leave him again. He wanted to, he really did, but he knew that was wishful thinking. So, Sokka, having had enough bullshit for one day, decided to cut to the chase.

"Azula." he narrowed his eyes at her, "If it was me or beating him, what would you choose?"

She looked at him with slight confusion, before she looked away, turning her eyes to face Aang, "I don't need to beat him." she admitted, "So, that's a sutpid question, Sokka."

"You know what I mean." he told her with a tense voice, raising a finger toward her face, "I know you think you can get everything you want, but the world doesn't work like that."

"I know, Sokka." she admitted, before she sighed, "Fuck you." she snarled, making him laugh; he was not expecting to be insulted, but he would take it, just to hear what had to follow.

"Oh, and why am I in the wrong here?"

"Why'd I have to fall in love with you?" she asked him, flicking his hand away, "You and your stupid smartness." she narrowed her eyes at him, her glare seeming weirdly cold yet familiar, "I wish I could have remained ignorant, just so I didn't have to see the world for what it is."

"If you didn't... then you'd be the other Azula." he noted, before narrowing his eyes at her, "You're not her anymore. Not really, even if you do stupid things like trying to fool a man with a wish to destroy the world into being your friend." he argued, making her chuckle.

"Well, from the perspective of some in the Fire Nation, Aang's that man."

"Well, everything's just a matter of perspective, isn't it?" he scoffed, before glared her down, remembering what she had said, "And there's no reason why you had to fall in love with me, Azula." he argued, "Shit happens and love happens."

"Wow, that's the greatest philosophy I've ever heard." she sarcastically quipped, "Perhaps you're thinking of becoming a guru and not the Chief of the Southern Water Tribe."

"I'm not." he assured her, "But I do love you, Azula. Just don't do anything stupid again, please. You're meant to be the smart one."

"I am the smart one, but you've got to hit me every once in a while to make sure I'm right." she argued, making him purse his lips upward.

"Oh, do I?" he asked her, before he grasped her by the shoulder, "This is for the chi-blocking." he whispered to her, before elbowing her in the gut, and tripping her over as she lurched forward, stumbling over and falling into the pool of water.

"What?!" Aang turned around, his eyes filled with fear, "Sokka, what'd you do?!" he asked him with a panicked voice, before Azula rose up out of the water, her hair over her face.

"Why is this water so warm? It's like I'm in a spa." she noted with a surprisingly pleased voice, the Water Tribe warrior raising a finger.

"Spirit magic." he answered her question, before turning his gaze over toward the waterbenders who his sister was still trying to reason with, "You better get out, or I think they're going to waterbend you out."

"Oh, no, I think I'm just going to enjoy myself. I haven't had a proper bath in days." she argued, making him roll his eyes; even she could be playful at times, making him question if he was really 'the immature one' in their relationship.

"Get out of the spirit pool. I know I tripped you in there, but that's because you were being a shitty girlfriend and not because I wanted you to clean yourself." he clarified, making her roll her eyes, before she ran her hands through her hair, getting it out of her face.

"That sounds like it'll be a challenge, Sokka." she noted, "Ice is slippery, you know that." she excused herself from getting out while she floated there.

"Aang, please just bend her out of there, and bend the water out of her clothes for measure." he asked, the young Avatar shaking his head.

"Sometimes I don't get you, Sokka." he murmured, before reaching his hands forward.

"Don't you dare waterbend me, Aang. I'm relaxing."

"It won't be relaxing if some unhappy waterbenders come in here and freeze you in there." he warned her, before raising his hands up, raising her up, along with a mass of water, over to the ledge; he did so slowly, to make sure she was held in place, before dropping her down, and dispensing of the water.

"You know, after all crap I had to go through to get here, you could have at least given me the chance to have the slightest relaxation." she argued, the young Avatar shrugging his shoulders, before they all turned their attention ahead of them, seeing Chief Arnook and Princess Yue, both of them looking into the Spirit Oasis and noting all of the unconscious and beaten Fire Nation soldiers.

"By the spirits." he gasped, turning to face his daughter, "These men desecrated our most sacred place." he grimaced, the Water Tribe warrior clearing his throat.

"We stopped them." he simply spoke up, "The Princess included."

He turned his eyes toward her, and narrowed them, slightly confused by her dishevelled appearance, "Did she get thrown in?"

"Yes." she confirmed, side-eyeing her boyfriend, who held back a laugh.

"You should get checked by the healers." he warned her, "Unusual things can happen to people who go in there."

"Well, I feel fine." she argued, before smirking, "Wait, that mean the spirits don't have a problem with me, doesn't it?"

"Uh... I believe you'd be right." he conceded, making Sokka roll his eyes.

"That does not mean what you did today was smart by any stretch of the word." he warned her, before narrowing his eyes at the Chief, "So, are you here to arrest her?"

"The Princess is not a guest of our tribe, and nor is the Fire Nation welcome here." he acknowledged, before placing his hands together, "But I see that you've stopped somebody far more of a threat than yourself." he observed, "I understand what happened today was a mistake, and that mistake has had costs. You will have to answer for the crimes of your people."

"How?" she simply asked him, the Chief narrowing his eyes.

"I believe you can provide us with things. Resources that might suffice to repay the damages you've incurred." he decided, the Princess crossing her eyes, momentarily looking toward her boyfriend, before she pursed her lips upward.

"Oh, I don't think my subjects in the Earth Kingdom are going to like me taxing them to give a handout to the nation least affected by the war." she admitted, "Would you like to tell those people that your grievances are more important than their own?"

"Your people did that." he simply stated the fact of the matter, "Just like your ship destroyed the walls and you and your men injured the noble warriors of my tribe."

"Well, I don't hold personal responsibility for what occurred in the Earth Kingdom over the past hundred years, but I hope to redress those issues." she argued, before crossing her arms, "You know what... I'll accept your demand, but on one condition."

"What is that?"

"That you relinquish all sovereign authority and claim over the rule of the Southern Water Tribe, indefinitely." she demanded, making Sokka snort, covering his mouth; he knew she wanted to help his tribe, but he didn't think she'd be so forward.

"I what?" he scoffed, the Princess crossing her arms.

"Do you want your reparations or what?"

"Uh..." he mumbled, before his daughter tapped him on the shoulder.

"That is a fair proposition, Father. She simply wants her allies to have the dignity that we hold dear to our own tribe." she argued, Arnook nodding.

"Y-yes... you're right." he agreed, "With those promised reparations for these damages, I will elt you and your friends travel free from here."

"I have one... minor request." she asked, the Chief furrowing a brow.

"Your guards?"

"Yes. I'd like them to be able to take a steamer from the battleship and sail south." she simply asked, "I require their services, and they have served me honourably. They hold no ill will against your tribe, and everything they did was under my command. The harm they committed, that was my doing."

"There are bruises and burns, but no man has died today." he admitted, before eyeing up toward the spirit pool, where Zhao's unconscious body lay, "Unless he did?"

"No, he will live to pay for his crimes, however you see fit, Chief... uh, nobody told me your name." she admitted somewhat awkwardly

"Arnook." Sokka clarified, making her nod.

"Chief Arnook." she acknowledged, "I am glad you were so... amenable to my offers. I do apologise for what occurred today, but I must stress, I am here to fight for peace. I do not mean to harm your people, despite the things I have heard of your backwards culture."

"Our what?"

"Treating women like dirt is not something that even the Fire Nation tolerates." she argued, "And the Southern Water Tribe, they're disgusted by your culture, though I'm sure Sokka already made that clear." she added, before stepping forward, "Though I see a woman before me, I assume she's your daughter?"

"I am." Yue confirmed, "You're... not what I expected."

"Well, people tend to think that about me when I'm not coming to destroy them." she argued, before turning to face her boyfriend, "Have you been dispelling rumours about me, or what?"

"I've tried." he admitted honestly, before turning his gaze to Aang, "But nobody really believes us."

"I think she just proved the stories true." Arnook admitted, "Not that I blame you for what you did. That man was going to try and kill the spirits, and you rightly defended them."

"Well, I'm not stupid, Chief. I know that those beings hold control over the forces of our world. Their power ought not to be reckoned with." she argued, Sokka stepping forward, having something on his mind.

"And now, we can all forget that the spirits were ever there, and hopefully, nobody ever tries this again." he suggested, the Chief nodding.

"I believe that is best." he acknowledged, "Thank you for protecting the spirits. It was rather dangerous of you to face off all those firebenders... I can see you've been injured."

"I've faced worse." he admitted, thinking back to when he had nearly drowned, back when he had just met and fought his girlfriend, "And I have a feeling I'll face something similar soon enough." he admitted, turning his eyes to Azula, who tilted her chin up, obviously understanding what he was referencing.

"Well, the Dai Li aren't going to overthrow themselves and bring peace to the Earth Kingdom, are they?"

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