Azula rolled her eyes as only she could and somehow managed to reach new levels of exasperation and condescension. “You worry far too much, Asami. Enjoy your holiday with Korra. I can handle things here. I’m old – not incompetent.”
Asami gave Azula a dubious look. “You do realise that you can’t simply murder anyone who annoys you, right? I know you’re good at burying evidence – and bodies – but the press will definitely start asking questions if half my board members disappear.”
“Oh, please.” Azula waved one hand. “I’m not an amateur. Killing people who annoy me would draw far too much attention. They’ll simply meet their ends in a series of unfortunate yet fortuitous accidents.”
“Really? You’re not even going to try to deny the fact that you’ve contemplated murdering some of the board members of my company?”
“Don’t act as if you haven’t considered it yourself. I’m sure you’ve already devised at least three or four ways to get rid of the most troublesome of the bunch. Besides, I’ve spent my whole life dealing with idiots. I know how to handle them. All you need to do is to give them a little bit of rope, and the vast majority will simply hang themselves.” Azula smiled thinly and motioned toward the door. “Now, go. Enjoy your holiday with Korra. I promise that everything will still be here when you get back.”
“Can you promise that everyone will still be here too?”
“I could, but I think we both know I’d be lying. Some people are just so accident prone.”
“You’re impossible,” Asami muttered. Korra’s old firebending master was the most fiendishly cunning person she’d ever dealt with. The only thing that made it bearable was that Azula was on her side. No, that wasn’t quite right. Azula was on Korra’s side, and since Asami was on Korra’s side, they were allies… of a sort.
“No, Asami, I’m incredible.” Azula made a shooing motion. “Now, get going. Korra has been planning this holiday for weeks, and given how little effort she makes to plan anything, I’m morbidly curious to know how it goes. Do let me know if she makes a mess of it.”
“Fine.” Asami sighed. “Do what you have to but please, please, please try not to leave too many corpses.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. There won’t be any corpses.”
X X X
Asami returned from her holiday with Korra two weeks later to find her company running as smoothly as ever. In fact, things were running so smoothly that she couldn’t help but wonder if she was missing something. It was difficult to believe, but had Azula actually just run the company like a normal person without resorting to treachery, skulduggery, and murder?
Knowing that she’d never get a straight answer out of Azula, she decided to ask Ty Lee.
“Oh… about that…” Ty Lee giggled. “Well, Azula got bored, so she decided to make things more interesting by not doing anything too extreme. I guess she wanted a challenge. I mean… it would have been pretty easy to wipe the board out by sabotaging the ship when they went on a cruise, but that would have been too easy. And don’t even get me started on how easy it would have been for the board room to ‘accidentally’ catch fire and incinerate them all.”
“So there haven’t been any… accidents?” Asami asked.
“Well, except for when one of the board members tripped over a bucket a janitor forgot to put away, no. There haven’t been any accidents. However, I do wonder if Azula paid the janitor to do that. The board member who tripped over did say something bad about Korra, and the bucket was perfectly placed to send him down a flight of stairs too.”
“Is that so?” Asami murmured, eye twitching.
Ty Lee smiled. “You know, you look a lot like Azula right now.”
Asami winced. “What do you mean?”
“You have that exact same look in your eyes. It’s like you’re going to do something really nasty to someone in a way they’ll never see coming.”
Asami wasn’t about to admit that several nasty thoughts had crossed her mind after hearing that one of her board members had bad-mouthed Korra. Then again, the poor fellow had apparently taken a quick trip down a flight of stairs, so there probably wasn’t much point in doing anything else. “Never mind that. You’re sure Azula didn’t do anything illegal while I was gone?”
“Yep. She didn’t do a single illegal thing while you were gone.” Ty Lee’s smile was bright enough to rival the sun. “But you know, Azula. She’s always been good at toeing the line.”
“When you put it that way…” Asami sighed. “But if she didn’t do anything illegal, why are all of my board members suddenly so cooperative?”
“Oh, that? Well, Azula decided that since you were so adamant on nobody ending up dead, she’d find a way to deal with them that didn’t involve murder on unfortunate accidents. She did a bit of digging, and it turns out that all of them have some things they’d rather nobody knew about. Once they found out that Azula knew, they were much more cooperative, and Azula did say she’d be sharing what she’d learned with you.” Ty Lee lowered her voice to a stage whisper. “I know Azula always talks about setting people on fire, but her aura is always so much pinker when she does stuff like this. I think she enjoys it more since it lasts longer, and her enemies suffer more.”
Asami laughed weakly. Trust Ty Lee to find this sort of thing endearing. Anyone else would have been terrified. “That’s, uh, wonderful.”