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The Chosen

The first time through, he allied with his brother.

Ozai hadn't always known he was destined for greatness. He had always thought well of himself, as befitted royalty, but with role models like his father and older brother running around, who wouldn't feel a little healthy inadequacy? Still, that all changed when Ozai was fifteen, on the day he first harnessed the power of lightning-bending. He was younger than both Iroh and Fire Lord Azulon had been, the first time he'd done it, and that realization gave Ozai an inkling that he might just be better than everyone else after all.

He dedicated himself to his training, both physically and mentally. He learned the ways of the court and the battlefield, of alliances and death duels. Always, he worked on his lightning. By the time his brother Iroh returned from Ba Sing Se, Ozai could generate the 'cold fire' faster than anyone alive (or even dead, in father's case). The price of that mastery was a certain sense of detachment that Ozai could no longer turn off at will, but he didn't consider that a liability at all.

On the contrary, it quickly became a benefit.

When Iroh arrived back at the palace, the older man was grief-stricken over the loss of his son. Ozai feigned sympathy, and made himself indispensable to his brother. Slowly, he began whispering of vengeance, and a return to greatness. Iroh was equally slow to accept such ideas, due to some set of mysterious scandalous experiences he had on the way home, but as the time came for Iroh to take up the crown of Fire Lord, his old sense of vision began reviving.

One thing could be said for Iroh. Fool that he was, once he dedicated himself to a mission, he put his all into it, and had a subtly effective style.

Even so, it all ended in ashes. On the day of the Comet, as the two brothers went out to incinerate the entire Earth Kingdom with their unmatched Firebending power, they were met by a young Air Nomad who claimed to be the Avatar, surrounded by old masters from across the world. The grumpy Waterbender was an unknown old man, but the Earthbender met descriptions of Mad King Bumi, and Jeong-Jeong and Piandao were of course well known to Ozai.

When it all ended, Iroh was dead, and Ozai stripped of his Firebending by some horrid magic of the Avatar's. He died forty years later, alone in a cell.




When Ozai awoke to find himself fifteen again, he was thoroughly unbalanced, but that did not keep him from re-discovering the lightning, nor from making many of the same mistakes.

It ended no better, the second time, nor the third, despite his best efforts. After the fourth, he realized that Iroh was never going to be strong enough to win.




Ozai had never been quite sure what to think about his wife. Descended from Avatar Roku, with the appropriate distant blood ties to the Royal Family, she should have been the strongest woman in the Fire Nation. Yet, she frequently disappointed Ozai in unexpected ways. The coddling way she treated their children was a perfect example; she just couldn't summon the proper sense of detachment required for greatness.

Still, Ozai didn't have many other choices, when it came to allies. She turned out to be a better killer than he expected, given the proper coaching and motivation, but wound up performing no better than Iroh at the end. That the Avatar had a different set of allies, this time, surprised Ozai. A strong Water Tribe Chief who couldn't bend, a bald but gray-bearded Earthbender with a deep voice and unconquerable spirit, and Admiral Zhao (of all people) united to stop both Ozai and his wife, and then the Avatar stripped them of their bending and locked them away on opposite ends of the Fire Nation.




He should have seen it sooner. Zuko was Ozai's spitting image, and so eager to please. All it took to wipe out that weak streak (undoubtedly inherited by his mother) was the right kind of attention. Even so, Zuko was never much of a Firebender; he never even managed to generate lightning before any of Comet arrivals, despite Ozai's best efforts.

Zuko always died, in the end. Even against the children the Avatar brought against him.

Good riddance.




Just as Zuko was Ozai's image with his mother's spirit, Azula was Ursa's reflection with all the killer instinct that her father had been looking for. She was loyal, and powerful, and vicious, and clever. With Azula, after only a few tries, Ozai came closer than ever to winning.

She killed all of the Avatar's allies- the stupid Water Tribe boy who reminded Ozai far too much of 'Chief' Hakoda, the loud blind Earthbender, the self-righteous Waterbender girl, and Zuko.

Of all people.

Despite this, Ozai still couldn't win. The Avatar always defeated father and daughter, and took their bending away, except for the last time. The last time, Ozai had the Avatar at his mercy, injuring him too badly for the Airbender boy to even move out of the way of the final blow, but before he could strike, there was a powerful hit to his back, and a cold pain, and his daughter's ecstatic laughter.

Ozai gave up on Azula, after that.




No, in the end, the problem was clear. No matter how many times he went back to his fifteenth year, and rediscovered the lightning to his father and brother's amazement, he would never find the right combination of allies and actions that would give him the world.

In the end, it was obvious. Why had it taken Ozai so long to realize that he could only rely on himself?

Iroh, Ursa, and Zuko were all ignored; they would never be of any use. Azula became a tool, trained in a regime honed over multiple lifetimes, and then discarded before she could prove her unreliability.

Ozai went alone to burn the Earth Kingdom, and knew that victory was at hand.

The Avatar had come alone to face him.

Ozai couldn't help but smile. He had all the power in the world, and with no one to hold him back, he would surely triumph over this mere boy. This time, there would be no one to save him. The Last Airbender would finally fall.

His destiny was finally at hand!




Afterward, Ozai lay in his cell, once again robbed of his bending. It took many years of thought, but he finally realized the problem. After lifetimes beyond count, he couldn't help but accumulate a little of Iroh's brand of wisdom, and it led him to one inescapable conclusion. One conclusion born out by experiments beyond count.

Ozai was the only common factor in all those failed ploys.

He was the weak one.

He was the failure.

When his life ended, that last time, it was followed only by oblivion.

END
First runner-up in Avatar Spirit Dot Net's drabble contest. The challenge was to write a "Peggy Sue" fic. Criteria:

Self-contained story
Creativity
Correct Grammar and Spelling


I must say, I think I had a really kick-butt idea with this one.
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:iconcapt-ba:
Did you win? You better have. I think this is one of your most solid pieces of writing, and that is saying something. Grammatically, stylistically, it's clean and mean. A machine, you could say.

Never heard of this "Peggy Sue" thing, but you sure picked the perfect character for it. It reeks of canon! And even if Ozai wasn't gifted (cursed?) to relive his life, the one constant of his lightning-bending mastery could really explain a lot for the series. I love the idea that in order to become the best lightning-bender alive, he had to give up his humanity. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Though it begs the question - Is he an exceptionally gifted lightning bender because he shut down his emotions, or because he didn't have them from the start? But still, love the idea. If and when I borrow on this, I'll be sure to let people know where I read it first. :D

And the conclusion on this was perfectly executed. Smooth, Loop, very very smooth.

5 Stars all around. :clap:
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:icondraginkyle44:
DraginKYle44 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
Awesome fanfic 
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:icondraginkyle44:
DraginKYle44 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
YW
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:iconrodlox:
Rodlox Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2015
Ozai' Groundhog Day!

if I may, o Ozai...there was another factor common to all of those attempts:  you always *fought*against* the Avatar.  you never tried to get him to join you.
(even the placid Giant Anteater can disembowel a horse if cornered)

on the other hand, this demonstrates the falseness of "try try again"

excellent fic
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2015
Perhaps, just for fun, Ozai did try to talk Aang into supporting the people who genocided his nation. It was probably the most delightfully absurd conversation of Ozai's entire existence. :D
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:iconrodlox:
Rodlox Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2015
that is true, on all counts.

though, if Ozai got to Aang early enough in the series, he could appeal to Aang's desire to not be an Avatar and Aang might live out the rest of his life in a Potemkin Village.
...at least until Azula gets bored - which, as Mai can attest, is dangerous for all.
:)
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:iconjwappel:
JWAPPEL Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014
Nice.
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
Thanks!
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:iconkradeiz:
Kradeiz Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
Short, but clever idea. It makes Ozai seem a little more human, but at the same time shows his coldness and cruelty.
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013
That's exactly what I was going for, so it's great to hear that carried through in such a short piece. Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:iconkradeiz:
Kradeiz Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013
You're welcome. Short but sweet stories are underrated.
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:icondarkdigidestined:
darkdigidestined Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013
great story
i love peggy sue fics can tell me what are the other entries where i can find him
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013
Yup, they're on Avatar Spirit's message board. You'll need an account to view the specific contest thread, but all the other entries were posted here: forums.avatarspirit.net/index.…

Glad you enjoyed this one. :)
Reply
:iconguyw1tn0nam3:
guyw1tn0nam3 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012
I wish I was around when this contest was going around, because I could have read this earlier. This was awesome! I think these stories always end up with some self-realization, and I think you did that so well. I was drawn in by Ozai's struggle to desperately find out who was his weak link and look for anyone worth that would aid him. It almost made me feel kind of bad for the guy after he realized he was the deadweight.

All in all, I really liked this piece. Like always, a great blend of seriousness and humor is greatly appreciated.
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012
Glad you liked it.

Ozai's realization and reaction to it just goes to show how weak he really was. Anyone else might have have used that realization to beginning working towards self-improvement, or finding a purpose in life that didn't demand the strength to break the world, but Ozai just plain gave up, because he was only ever interested in greater and greater amounts of control and power. So it's sad that he discovered how much of a failure he was, and how futile so much effort had been over however many lifetimes, but at the same time, I don't feel too bad for him, given his worldview. But, hey, it was nice to create that little bit of complexity for Ozai, who everyone calls a one-note character unless he's given some kind of tragic backstory.

Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:iconpeaniko:
Peaniko Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
:D I love his realization at the end that the only problem was him. Brilliant twist for such a short story, I love it!
Reply
:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2012
Thanks! I probably could have expanded this story, given a little more attention to the quick looks at Ozai's various "eras," but I have a tendency to get to the point quickly. I think it makes my twists and climaxes have more punch.
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:iconlavanyasix:
LavanyaSix Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011
Y'know, I've re-read this several times now, because it's a very good story, but it wasn't until today that I realized Ozai never once attempted to save Lu Ten.
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011
It wasn't something I considered, but that makes sense. Lu Ten is at best just a less experienced version of Iroh, and even he couldn't help defeat the Avatar. Certainly, Iroh proved easy to manipulate in his grief, so there's no strategic benefit in keeping the kid alive.

Also, nothing in this story rules out Ozai having something to do with Lu Ten's death. ;) That's something I did consider.
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:icontonnocal:
tonnocal Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2011
huh - you know, I really like this. We see so many good guys that do this, from the villain's perspective its surprisingly fresh.

Would be interested to see Zuko follow this same path....
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2011
Honestly, my mind quickly passed over the good guys as I pondered what I wanted my Peggy Sue fic to be. I mean, they won, and did pretty well, under the circumstances. Sure, they could maybe do it quicker, thus saving more lives in the war, but that's replying for a higher score. The villains are the ones who really needed to figure out where everything went wrong. Especially such an over-confident guy like Ozai, who had influence over so many others despite his low amount of screentime.

Although, you raise a good point about Zuko having had a lot of different options to explore. Maybe someday I'll give him a similar treatment.

Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:iconklucky25:
klucky25 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011
Wow, that was great and twisted
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011
I admit, I love coming up with AU's, the stranger the better. Glad you liked this!
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:iconjetzula4eva:
Jetzula4eva Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011   Writer
This was beautiful, haha, It was perfectly written and had a well thought out concept! :D
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:iconjetzula4eva:
Jetzula4eva Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2011   Writer
Anytime!
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:iconozai-fanatic:
Ozai-Fanatic Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok, so I'm PRETTY sure I've commented on this before, but whatever.
As I said before on ASN, awesome fic.
Really puts a new light on are favorite goatee'd Fire Lord. :]
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2011
Even if you've reviewed before, it's okay, I never get tried of love. ;) It's great that I was able to add a little something to Ozai's mystique.
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:iconozai-fanatic:
Ozai-Fanatic Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha we all know that, Loopy. xD
It's a nice touch.

All of these could be fanfics on their own, or like a drabble series or something. :]

If I wasn't so lazy I'd ask if I could use your idea for a drabble series. xD
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2011
Well, if you ever get a burst of energy, feel free to use what you like. :D
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:iconozai-fanatic:
Ozai-Fanatic Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome!
Thanks.
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:iconyamivizzini:
YamiVizzini Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2011
Whoa. All the possibilities and what-might-have-beens you put forth could be scores of fics in themselves. As it is... heavy stuff seeing Ozai finally brought down, in every sense of the term.:lonely:
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011
Thanks for Fav'ing!

Most of the alternate timelines would probably be too similar to the "final" one to be worth actually writing out, but I have a soft spot for that one where Zhao becomes Aang's Firebending teacher. I think that has some interesting possibilities, and a nice focus on characters who are often ignored by fanfic.
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:iconpaintedbluerose:
paintedbluerose Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2011  Student Writer
Holy freakin' crap. :wow: You made Ozai the failure?! :no:
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
In his own mind, at any rate. Readers could also interpret him as a Tragic Hero in a world that literally won't let him win, possibly influenced by whatever cruel Forces that are making him live his life over and over.

But yeah, it's an easy interpretation for a guy who lost to a 12-year-old boy. ;)

Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:iconpaintedbluerose:
paintedbluerose Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Student Writer
Ah, true, but in my mind, he is never a failure!! :XD:
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:iconestrellacorazon:
EstrellaCorazon Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I meant to comment on this earlier, but I had to run off to dinner...

Okay, so after reading this, I can't help but wonder what Ozai did in his past life to deserve being reincarnated into this lifetime over and over again....XD

Which brings me to an interesting question I'd like to ask you...do you think Ursa's able to bend? I think in cannon she's a nonbender, because if she could firebend, I think she would have had a lot more influence over Azula, and then Azula wouldn't have ended up as "Daddy's little psycho." It weirds me out a bit when people do make her a bender, but maybe that's just me....however, when I read in this fic that she was a bender, I didn't particularly find it that odd...
and I like how you made Zhao one of Aang's allies in that AU. 8D
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2010
You know, I don't think I've ever reached a final opinion on Firebending Ursa. I keep switching it up in anything I write with her, just because I like keeping the mystery alive. :D Her family relationship to Roku seems to imply it, but she's so passive in Zuko Alone, that it seems odd to imagine. I don't think that being a Firebender would have affected her relationship with Azula much, if just because we have so few details about what that relationship was like. Some think Ursa was actually neglectful, others that she was simply too weak to battle Ozai's influence, and others that Ursa had more of an effect that Azula herself acknowledges. It all works, because we have no evidence for any of them.

I do think that making her a weapons master of some kind is really odd, though. I just don't get a Mai/TyLee/Piandao vibe from her. On the other hand, how did she kill Azulon?

So many questions...

The means behind Ozai's reincarnation was purposely left vague. I never even thought about it; the journey was the most important bit. Perhaps he stepped on too many turtleducks. ;)

And Zhao was a Throw It In element that I thought neat. Someday, I'll have to think about how it might have happened. :D

...

Wow, I come across as having real commitment problems, eh? ;)
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:iconestrellacorazon:
EstrellaCorazon Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
don't worry yourself about that thing known as "commitment"...

On top of the canon verse, I have at least four different AUs going on for Avatar that involve certain ships getting together. (most of which involve Mai. XD)

Some say Ursa poisoned Azulon, which seems like the most undetectable way to assassinate someone without getting caught in the Avatar-verse.

...unless, of course, there's CSI: Fire Nation.
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2010
Except poison is so boring, and there's no reason that Ozai couldn't do it himself if it's something like poison that isn't a unique Ursa-skill. Of course, not having the exact details in mind would account for why the Mike and the Bryan haven't ever followed through on Ursa's fate...
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:iconcaellachtigereye:
CaellachTigerEye Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010
Very, VERY original stuff, I'll tell you that much. And ... damn, it was only at the very end that I realised how it actually fits into canon. I had first thought that the first iteration was AFTER canon, but then I realised - it was the FIRST time it happened! I had assumed you might eventually play into him POSSIBLY not being evil - which WOULD be interesting, mind you - but this is SO much better. You should post it on FF.Net - they'll love it.

You're right about the villain rarely being given a second chance. For some reason, Peggy Sue fics are deployed quite a lot, even in timelines that DON'T end too badly - by the author totally DERAILING the tone and making them cynical, for that purpose alone. 'Neon Genesis Evangelion' is the exception - it DOES end quite brutally, and so the Peggy Sue setting works there. It also happens to be the ONLY fandom in which I've seen a Peggy Sue that takes the villain back in time - though that fic was more about possiby redemption and second chances, it was still quite intriguing and complex. It's always great to see so many original ideas - hell, imagine if a HP writer decided to give VOLDEMORT a Peggy Sue. Damn, THAT would be an interesting fic ...

This is a great story that provides some great, unexpected depth into the character of Ozai - who I will agree is pretty bland and one-note as a villain, and Mark Hamill made him work. Though I must mention the brilliance, at least, of his appearance - not only is he an older Zuko physically (tall and handsome), but he doesn't even need a scar like a typical villain to mark his evil - because ZUKO carries that mark instead!

gODSPEED!
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010
Ooh, great review. I love it when they run long. :)

I quite agree about Ozai's appearance. Lots of people were expecting a scar or some major reason for his face being hidden, but I think it works much better as a function of the narrative (we don't see Ozai's face until Zuko actually does in real time), and the contrast with Zuko is delicious.

As for whether Ozai is "evil" or not, the cartoon never gave us any indication that he had a good reason for his actions (I don't really see any actual proof that he and Iroh had a Zuko/Azula thing going, although I suppose there's room for it), so I'm not usually inclined to go out of my way to give one to him. I left room for it, in case people want it. This is just Ozai, as we know him, dealing with the Peggy Sue, and as can be expected, he flunks whatever test he was being given.

I'm glad you enjoyed and appreciated this!
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:iconoceanangel592:
oceanangel592 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010
WIN!!!!!!!!

LOVE IT!!!!!

HAVE A :+fav: AND A :llama: AND A :+devwatch:
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010
Woo, the whole set, huh? :D Thank you much, and I'm glad you enjoyed this!
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:iconoceanangel592:
oceanangel592 Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2010
you are very welcome :D:D:D:D
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:iconhawktnz:
HawkTnz Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2010
YUM!!! That was amazing! Imagine being able to see your past live to plot this life time and time again... Wow I actually felt sad for Ozai when he discovered he was the failure, and gave up... just a little bit :) Liked all the different scenario's and how they all ended with the same conclusion... Ozai defeated and his bending taken away... all but one time.... That takes alot of patience - trying to imagine an angry firelord Iroh, but there just seems to be a great gentleness/wisdom within the character that offers us a different opportunity...

Loved reading this! :)
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2010
Thanks much! Ozai isn't often seen in a very sophisticated light, so I had fun seeing how I could use this scenario to give him a bit more sophistication without softening him at all.

I'd love to see a take on Angry Fire Lord Iroh, because it really is hard to imagine, even for me. :D

Thanks for Fav'ing!
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:iconhawktnz:
HawkTnz Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2010
I love seeing what fans are doing with the other characters- especially when they expand on why they have turned out the way they have.... The rebirthing aspect in Ozai wasn't one I ever considered, so appreciated how he plotted and planned in each of his rebirths - only to still fail and end with the basically same conclusions...

oooooo Angry FireLord Iroh, just seems impossible, but probably not improbable lol.... after all he used the anger of what the Fire Nation had done to Bai Sing Sa, to take it back with the comet's energy - and also wonders if Lu Ten didn't die in the Bai Sing Sa siege would he have softened and mellowed out as he became more wise or would he have succeeded and go on to have become the Fire Lord with Lu Ten by his side?..... oooo another story entirely for you guys to do :)
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:iconbodici22:
Bodici22 Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2010  Student Artisan Crafter
Holy.

crap.


I really like a lot of your fics, but this is my favorite, I think.

Holy




crap.


Mind

blown.
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:iconloopy777:
Loopy777 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2010
I like a lot of my fics, too, but I'll agree that this one really stands out. Which really frustrates me, because I didn't even intend for it to blow my other stuff out of the water.

Thanks for Fav'ing!
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