68-year-old Baidang stood near the center of the general's ship, the sun casting down its fading rays to the battlefield on the top of the decorated craft.
"I'll give you one more chance to surrender, general," the invader declared boldly. "You can only dream of living up to the expectations of your grandfather and the man whose name you share. The fact that you carry that name is a joke. Now, it is time for you to leave the United Forces in more worthy hands."
The general was unfazed by any of Baidang's words. "I do not intend on surrendering anything today. I assure you the loss of my crew members will be avenged, and I assure you I still will continue to stand at the head of these forces, and defend the world like my grandfather and namesake each did."
"The fact that you, a mere 25-year-old who didn't even do anything to save Republic City from Amon besides getting blasted, carry his name," Baidang snapped back, "is an abomination to the Fire Nation and the world. It's time to give these forces real leadership, not just a favorite grandson. After today, the name 'Iroh' will no longer be disgraced."
General Iroh simply glared at his opponent and took his firebending stance, standing only in his pants, much like his opponent was, in standard Agni Kai fashion. A soldier sat in a protected booth a few feet above the battlefield, holding a mallet and standing next to a gong.
The seas provided a deceiving peace, calmly brushing against the ship as only a light sea breeze blew through the battlefield.
The soldier sounded his gong, and the duel for the United Forces began.
Baidang started by kicking up an arc of fire and aimed it at the young general, but Iroh showed his agility - an advantage he could easily have being decades his opponent's junior. He then countered with a punch of flames, but his opponent quickly augmented the flames and sent them out of harm's way.
The attacker quickly came out again with dangerous fire discs, one of which caught Iroh across his stomach, burning him slightly. The young man withered in pain somewhat, but it would take a lot more than a slight burn to bring him down. He was not made general of the entire United Forces for nothing, despite what Baidang was claiming. Iroh quickly shot a fire bomb at Baidang, sending the older firebender back several feet, however, the opposition recovered quickly.
Both masters stared each other down, each one intent on a convincing victory over the other.
Baidang swept up a series of fire whips, but Iroh countered with a large wall of fire, stopping his opponent's rapid attacks. He then used the wall to shoot multiple fire blasts at the old assailant, and knocked him back again.
But the attacker would not yield.
"Face it, general, I am an old master. You may be twenty-five, but you are still a mere child compared to me! Surrender and leave this crew to a capable man."
"My grandfather had his back to the wall many times in his life, as did his uncle. They never quit, and only got stronger for their experiences."
"Bull pig manure!" Baidang barked back. "Not even the Dragon of the West could hold after losing his allies, especially his son. You no longer have a crew. This will be your downfall."
"I promise you that after today," Iroh replied, "what my grandfather and Avatar Aang worked for will stand strong."
"Your grandfather was weak for bowing to him, and to add on, he put a weak, young man in charge," Baidang answered back. "Now then, enough talking." He quickly shot a fire pinwheel, but Iroh quickly fell to the ground and it passed over harmlessly.
When his attacker fired the pinwheel, Iroh began to notice Baidang was somewhat exhausted. He quickly remembered that long ago, his grandfather had taught him always to seek out an opponent's weakness and jump on it, much like his grandfather did against his now-deceased great aunt.
He'll never survive a battle of wills.
He also remembered one vital lesson passed down from his namesake great-granduncle.
Remember your basics. They are your greatest weapon.
For several moments, the two firebenders went back and forth, throwing moves quickly and harshly at points. Iroh continued to match Baidang blow for blow, stopping his fire blasts and even sometimes throwing them back the old assailant. The setting sun added an extra light to the shimmering glows of the fire, creating the perfect scene for a classic Agni Kai as it raged on.
Baidang shot out a series of fire bombs, but Iroh held his root, not allowing for any of the swift shots to break his stance. The old man grew frustrated at this; something the junior was easily able to catch onto.
Iroh charged and hit Baidang with a couple of fireballs.
How could he be beating me? These are low-level moves! Nonsense! Baidang screamed in his head as he gathered himself up off the ground.
Baidang fired out several charged attacks, but Iroh threw up a pair of fire shields and cut off the blasts, and augmented away any remaining heat. Indeed, his basics were beginning to win out. As the younger easily conserved his energy through sticking with the basics, Baidang was fading fast by exhausting himself through overcharged blows and his older age.
Baidang struggled to rise again and managed only a weaker fire bomb, which Iroh easily withstood. He was then hit again with a fist of flames, sending him to the ground.
The old firebender continued to try and intimidate. "Do you honestly think your silly school lessons will really help you?" he asked, groaning as he rose to his feet after taking another blast from his opponent.
"They seem to be now," Iroh replied. "You were so worried about overwhelming me, you slipped on your basics. There's something that never dies, even as you get older and more advanced." Beads of sweat dripping down his face, he took a deep breath and shot out a large stream of fire, throwing Baidang back to a ship wall. He then came toward him and pointed his fists, threatening to burn Baidang to death.
The old man glared at the young general, thinking about trying something. But then, he closed his eyes in defeat, breaths wearing thin and sweat down his entire body, soaking the wall and ship floor near him. "You win...this round."
"I do not think there will be another round," Iroh declared.
And with one fell swoop, calling back to how Agni Kai always ended with an ultimate defeat, the young general ensured that Baidang would never threaten the United Forces again.