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What does a new leader for the Earth Kingdom mean? Will Philip's old acquaintance prove his match?
A man in an Earth Empire military uniform stands before a large crowd outside the Ba Sing Se Royal Palace, the citizens cheering and shouting praise in his name. "Heil Emperor Ephialtes," they cried.
Ephialtes walks from the crowd to a large room within the palace. Men in military uniform extend their arms at a 45 degree angle, keeping them perfectly straight. "Heil Emperor Ephialtes," they said in unison. Ephialtes responds by raising his hand, palm facing outward. He walks to a table, with a map resting on the top.
"General Xerxes, your report?"
"We have retained most of Kuvira's army except for the Zaofu metalbenders," Xerxes explained.
"What of the Zaofu metalbenders?" Ephialtes asked in a calm voice.
"They broke away and returned to Zaofu. They have declared independence from the Earth Empire."
"And we did nothing about it?"
"And why not?"
"Sir, they are under the protection of the United Republic."
"I see. Do you think that if we invaded Zaofu, the Republic would protect them? Of course not, we've spent some time here, Xerxes. You should know just as I that Raiko is spineless. Even if the Avatar demands so, he should not intervene. We shall have Zaofu within a week."
"Shall I prepare the troops, sir?"
"Yes. Oh, and have an ultimatum prepared. We shall be ready to pounce by tomorrow. What do you think, Brutus?"
A shirtless savage with large, unsightly tattoos sat uneasily in his chair. He simply grunted.
"Uh, sir," an officer said, "what happens if they do intervene?"
"Then we must crush them as soon as possible. We can't fight them both at once, not yet," Ephialtes explained.
The next day, Ephialtes marches through the gates of Zaofu. He boards the train and reaches Suyin's house. Ephialtes stares at those who came to meet him, Izumi, Korra and Su. Strangely, no Raiko. Perhaps he was too scared to show up. It didn't matter. Ephialtes hands Su the ultimatum and gives her a pen. "Basically, give up Zaofu and your army and neither of them shall come to harm."
"No, I will never give over my home to a dictator such as yourself," Su says, ripping the ultimatum.
Ephialtes takes the pen. "You foolish woman, you have no way of resisting. I will tear your city to pieces."
Izumi opened her mouth as if to speak, but was silenced by Ephialtes. "The Fire Nation is weak; you weren't able to stop a small uprising without a lot of help. And don't you try anything, Korra. You're on your own, Su, nobody can help you. Not the Fire Nation, not the Republic, not the Water Tribes, not even the Avatar can help you!"
"Mind you," a voice called out from the opposite side of the room, "I wouldn't say all hope is lost. Nice pen, I think I'll take that. Ooohh, a collectible. Cheers."
"Philip..." Ephialtes growled, "what are you doing here?"
"Oh, so you haven't heard?" Philip said.
"I'm the new President of the United Republic."
"Oh..." Ephialtes said.
"Were you expecting someone else? Someone a bit... softer? Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you. Now, I can guarantee I didn't say that to your brother... How is Malus anyway?"
"Dead..." Ephialtes growled.
"Ah, just how I remember him. Good times. Anyway, Ephy, there is no way you will destroy Zaofu. I've brought the Hellenic army with me. Last time that happened... well, you know the rest."
Ephialtes shouted and threw a ball of fire at Philip. Philip dispersed the flame and said, "Hmmm, bit warm in here, I should probably open a window." And with that, he threw a gust of air, throwing Ephialtes out the window. He pulled a small machine from his pocket. "Nikkolas, intercept his fleet. Iroh, I want you to rush your troops into position now!" Philip jumped out after Ephialtes, cushioning his fall with a ball of air. Ephialtes, now on his feet, threw a fire blast at Philip. Philip jumped off the air ball and struck him with a blast of air. Ephialtes retaliated with another fire blast. Philip redirected it and aimed it back at Ephialtes. Ephialtes parried the blast with his fists and continued his assault.
Philip was now forced on the defensive. Ephialtes' bombardment, although relentless, was not overwhelming. Philip finally found a gap in Ephialtes' strikes and charged one of his own. He formed two streams of air and swirled them around himself. He clenched one fist, condensing the left stream into water. He then directed both of them to Ephialtes. Ephialtes fled and Philip gave chase, attacking him with blasts of fire and air. A powerful fireball sent Ephialtes tumbling to the ground. Philip stomped the ground, creating earth shackles that bound him in place. Philip closed his eyes and took a deep breath, preparing to finish the fight. A large stone to his flank knocked him over and before he realised it, he was surrounded by angry earthbenders.
An explosion, followed by blasts of fire and disks of earth attracted the attention of the earthbenders. Philip mustered his strength and floated on a powerful tornado, before throwing himself to the front line. "Time for the Battle of Zaofu. The Great War has begun."
Philip and many other men sat in the Hellenic Senate. A man ran into the room, bearing a message. "Prime Academic Panagiotis, the Air Nomads have requested your help - the Fire Nation will destroy them this time next year. Will you help them?"
A tall man said, "Maybe. What do you think, General Philip?"
Philip's eyes widened. "If they want to destroy an entire culture, we must stop them. Zeus have mercy!"
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