Friday, March 13, 2015

Switched Powers: An ATLA Fanfic, Chapter 1

Aang rushed back to the Fire Nation palace, excitement burning in his veins, as Toph and Sokka hurried behind him. He couldn't believe he'd managed to defeat Ozai, and not by killing him as everyone had insisted, but by bending his powers themselves. When Aang arrived at the front steps, however, his eyes widened in shock at the sight before him. Azula was chained up, but Zuko lay sprawled out on the ground. His body didn't move. Only his eyes fluttering open and a low murmur indicated he was still conscious.

Katara ran over to him, eyes burning, shaking his side.

"Zuko! Zuko, are you okay?"

He gasped and coughed. "I... I don't know," he said. "My body feels numb."

"That's because you got struck by lightening, you idiot!" Katara yelled. "What were you thinking? You can't redirect something that wasn't aimed at you!"

"I think I just saved your life," he said. "Azula would've burnt you to a crisp if I hadn't stepped in!"

"I could've defended myself just fine!"

Aang sighed and shook his head. Even with Zuko flat on his back, those two still fought like crazy.

"Enough, we've all been through a lot," he said. Always the peacemaker. "We should make sure the palace is secure. Can you stand, Zuko?"

Katara bent down and slung his right arm over her shoulder. Zuko grunted angrily at the assistance, but the rest of his body leaned against her like a rag doll.

"Hey, I need some help," she said.

Zuko winced. "I-I don't think I can move."

Katara gasped. "What are you talking about? You told me you just felt felt numb."

"Yeah, as in I can't move!"

"Both of you, please!" Aang begged. "Lay him back down, Katara. If he's injured, we're just going to make him worse by moving him around."

"I know that," she said defensively.

She removed the sash around her waist, folding it up to make a pillow before letting Zuko lay down again. Then, she called forth the water from her side, letting it gather around her former enemy's neck, and back, and chest.

"Nothing broken," she said. "The lightening must've messed with your nerves, somehow."

She concentrated her power, willing the water to mend what was broken. But after sitting in her trance for several minutes, nothing seemed to change, and Katara's hands began to tremble with frustration.

Aang finally stopped her. "Katara, it's enough," he said. "You're going to hurt yourself doing that much. And I don't think the water is going to heal anymore."

Katara's eyes started to well up with tears. "But.... he got injured because of me. I have to do something."

"You can stop crying all over me," Zuko muttered. No one listened to him.

"You did everything you could," Aang told her. "And besides, it'll heal on its own in a bit right?" Katara didn't answer. That worried him. "Right?"

Katara shook her head. "I don't know," she said. "I've never dealt with this kind of injury before."

From her hunched over position in the corner, Azula began to giggle maniacally.

"Oh, this is a riot," she said. "Some ruler you'll be, big brother. Can't even sit up on the throne, let alone firebend."

Zuko gritted his teeth. Apparently he could still firebend, at least a little bit, as sparks began to fly from his hand.

"Zuko, you've got to calm down," Aang said. "You'll injure yourself more."

"I'll take care of this."

Aang suddenly realized that Zuko wasn't the only one he had to calm down. Katara practically looked like she was on fire too.

"You," she said through gritted teeth. "You say another word and I'll..."

Azula started to laugh, however her voice was quickly cut off. Her mouth closed seemingly against her will and she fell with her face down in the dirt.

Aang felt his blood run cold. Katara was controlling Azula, without a full moon.

"Katara, stop! You'll hurt her!" Azula gasped for breath, her lips starting to turn blue. Her eyes fluttered as she struggled to maintain consciousness.

"I said that's enough!" A blast of air flew in Katara's face, breaking her concentration. Azula took a huge gaps of air and passed out, the color returning to her lips, her breathing becoming normal.

Katara recoiled, as if unaware of what she'd just done. Her hands shook furiously. "Aang," she said. "I'm sorry. I'm not sure what was happening. I-"

"You wanted to kill her, and your body followed suit," Aang said. "That's obvious enough.

Katara hung her head in shame. "I'm sorry. She just got me so angry, and I- I snapped."

"Clearly," Zuko said. Finally everyone looked at him. "But my sister's got a point. How am I supposed to take over for my father when I'm like this? If there's no heir, the position will fall to one of his generals, and they'll only pick up where his destruction led off."

Toph, who'd been quiet the whole time, suddenly spoke up. "Hey, maybe water sprite over here can fake it for you."


"Y'know. She can use people like puppets anyway, so maybe she can fake that you're not injured until you get better."

"That's not funny, Toph!" Katara snapped.

Zuko seemed to agree. "Come up with a more practical solution, please."

Toph shrugged. She gave no indication she had been joking, but let the matter drop. The suggestion, however, gave Katara an idea of her own.

"Wait a minute. Aang, how did you say you beat Zuko's father, again?"

"I... I took his power away from him," Aang replied. "Why?"

"So you can take away people's powers when you're in the avatar state?"

Aang shrugged. "I don't know. It's not exactly something I've tried before now. Why?"

Katara bit her lip. "Could you switch two people's powers?"

It didn't take a genius to see where she was going. "Are you crazy?" Toph asked.

"It's the only solution that makes sense," Katara said. "If Zuko could bloodbend, he could move on his own until his body heals itself."

"If I could bloodbend, I'd be a waterbender," he said. "Which would be kind of awkward if I'm supposed to running the Fire Nation."

"Plus, I have no idea if I can even exchange powers or not," Aang said. "I agree with Toph and Zuko. It's a really bad idea. We'll find another way to help him."

"We don't have another way," Katara insisted. Aang had never seen her so worked up about something before. She was extremely determined to go through with this.

"It's not permanent anyway," she said, turning to Zuko this time. "Once you're healed, Aang can reverse our powers back again."

"I still don't know if I can actually do that," Aang said. "Why aren't you listening to me?"

"Listen, the Fire Nation needs a strong leader right now, and Zuko is that leader. If he's not established on the throne, everything will go into chaos."

No one could argue with her on that point. Aang sighed and shook his head.

"All right, look. I'll go into the avatar state. And if... if it feels like I can exchange your powers without hurting either of you , I'll give it a try. But if I'm not completely positive I can do it, then it's no, and we're not discussing it anymore, understand?"

Katara nodded.

"Hey, wait a second!" Sokka snapped. "You're not actually thinking of going through with this, are you?"

"Don't I get any say in this?" Zuko yelled.

Katara put her hands on her hips, ignoring her brother completely. "Fine. What's your solution?"

Zuko stuttered. "I... that is... I don't know!" He grunted with frustration. "Fine," he said. "Try it then. Odds are it won't work, anyway."

Aang stretched his arms to try and relax, taking a step forward to Zuko and Katara. Sokka stepped in front of him.

"Aang, may I repeat my opinion that this is possibly the worst idea Katara has ever had and you're humoring it?!"

"It's not the worst idea," Aang said. "There was that time she decided to help flood a river and almost drowned a bunch of villagers because she was in love with Jet."

"Can we please not bring up my past stupidities?" Katara asked.

"Zuko's right too," Aang said. "If the Fire Nation can't put itself back together now, everything we did was pointless. We need to try." With no more discussion on it, Aang took a a deep breath and placed one hand on Katara's forehead and the other on Zuko's.

"No promises," he reminded them.

Katara nodded. "Right," she almost whispered. "No promises." With that, Aang's arrow tattoos began to glow.

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