Nov 27, 2020 12:29 AM
slayer karen lands on the avatarverse and runs into zuko!serg
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" - look, I don't know enough about your war to be saying what you should be doing on a grand strategy level, and I don't imagine you would listen to me if I did. Maybe you guys are better than the people you're conquering, maybe this is all for the best. But if I'm tagging along with you I'm a mercenary, and not the kind who does whatever you say if the money keeps coming. You do any obvious crimes against humanity in my presence and I'm gonna have to call quits on any mutually beneficial arrangement we have going, and also possibly punch you in the face. But if you wanna find your Avatar and you can play nice with the terrified peasants, I'd be glad to help."

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For some reason this causes him to frown in deep thought.

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"...well, those are the - not even so much the terms, that part's just kind of a natural consequence of having me around. I promise to warn you before punching you in the face unless I'm pretty sure you're already trying to attack me. If you're not good with that then thank you very much for the meal."

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"...I don't want to do things that will make you want to punch me in the face," he says. "I want..."

Apparently he has difficulty figuring out, or maybe just difficulty expressing, what he wants.

"...is it..." He's really struggling with words here. "Like with the kid. The kid was trying to fight me but I didn't want to make it a fight. Because... I don't know. Didn't want to. And I could do that, because a kid with a stick isn't really a threat to me. Is that what playing nice with the terrified peasants means? Not... making something a fight when I don't have to?"

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"Yeah. The way you handled the kid was decent. And you can do that with kids, mostly, because they're not, in fact, a threat most of the time. If you kill adults with swords, that's - how war has to be sometimes, I guess. But you didn't need to hurt the kid, and you didn't, and that was good. And if you'd done something very different I don't think I'd want to help you now."

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"Okay," he says, pensively. "I... I think I can do that."

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"Cool. Then I'm happy to join team figure-out-where-the-Avatar is if you're happy to have me."

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He nods, slowly.

"Okay. Food and a place on the boat for you and your dog, and money, and you help me find the Avatar, and when—if—when we find them I'll let you ask them about helping you go home before I arrest them. And if I do any war crimes you'll punch me and leave. That's fair."

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"Great! We have a deal."

It's kind of amazing that that worked! No more food insecurity and the possibility of preventing any potentially awful future behavior. She and Wishbone are gonna need to have offset sleeping shifts for the next forever, and she'll want to talk this development over with Glimmer later, but hey, it's better than the previous status quo.

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"Yeah." He nods again, more firmly. "Okay. Yeah. Welcome aboard, or whatever."

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"Glad to be here!" she says cheerfully, and disappears a little more food before she decides that she's finally had enough.

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Zuko looks like he isn't entirely sure what to make of this development but is starting to suspect he might be in favour.

"...I'm... gonna go practice firebending," he says, abruptly and awkwardly, and he gets up and heads back out to the deck.

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"Cool," she says, cheerfully, and then realizes that she doesn't really have anything to do here, right now. Maybe talk to Wishbone and Glimmer? But she can probably do that tonight.

" - can I watch?"

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He nods.

As soon as he starts practicing, all his discomfort and uncertainty disappears into focus. Zuko firebending is Zuko in, so to speak, his element. He moves with grace and precision, sending jets of flame across the deck that look very impressive and yet somehow never leave a mark on any of the many scorchable surfaces in reach.

It might become clear, after enough time spent watching him, that the level of control he has over his flame makes it much likelier that he was missing her on purpose than by accident, that time he attacked her when they first met.

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Yeah, she's getting that.

(She misses Alex. Misses hand-to-hand combat practice. Probably she misses lots of other things more, but combat practice is the salient one, right now.)

She watches him carefully and tries to think how she'd counter each move. Tries to guess whether you can block the flames by interrupting the movements. It's also possible that firebenders are just too dangerous to fight unarmed, under normal circumstances, and that really what you ought to do is shoot them dead with an arrow before they burn you to a crisp. She doesn't like this option but she's trying to get over enough of her natural aversion to it that she might be able to do it in a situation where it was really obviously the thing to do.

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It's definitely possible that you could block the flames by interrupting the movements. Hard to tell for sure, with no one interrupting him. It does seem like there's more to it than just a pure correspondence between the movement and the resulting fire, because he's producing flame blasts of noticeably different strengths using movements that are, if perhaps not identical, definitely only very subtly different.

 

He's at it for a while. Starts getting visibly tired eventually; doesn't stop moving. One might almost get the impression he's putting all his effort into firebending practice to avoid having to think about things that confuse him.

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Relatable, honestly. She's not gonna follow suit because she needs to, like, be aware of her surroundings and be ready for attacks, and also be able to notice and take in things that confuse her, which is in her case a much larger percentage of things. But if she were home, and mad about some inexplicable maybe-threat? Relatable.

She doesn't interrupt him.

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