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|Ep.13: Metal Walls|
July 16, 2015
Within the mountains amongst the Earth Kingdom, an airbender was having the time of her life, practicing her airbending in the mountain air. The girl kept flowing the mountain air to her will, making a calming breeze that encircled her upon the direction of her hands, the cooling wind currents flowed around her for a good minute, some of the leaves blowing within the breeze. After gathering up the amount of wind, the girl suddenly spun and spread the air blast in all directions. When she completed, she calmly exhaled. A guard appeared nearby soon after she was done, almost on cue.
"Opal, your mother's home," he said.
Smiling, Opal went back down to the city to see her mother return, the city to where Opal had decided to return sometime after her involvement with the water Qishi months ago. Zaofu hadn't changed very much in the last near year, yet it didn't remain as isolated as it used to. Upon arriving at the entrance, Opal arrived to see her siblings nearby, which included the twins Wei and Wing, and her older brothers, Huan and Baatar Jr.. Her father, Baatar, was awaiting there too. Opal happily awaited as she saw her mother arrive at the front steps.
"Welcome home, sweetheart," Baatar said, hugging his wife upon arrival.
"It's great to be back. How have things been while I was gone?" Suyin asked.
"Great, actually," Opal said.
"Good to hear. Have you been practicing?"
To answer her, Opal went right ahead and began showing her airbending moves before her mother, showing strong improvement since the last time she had seen her bend. She did a similar technique to what she practiced back on the mountain, but without the air blast at the end so she didn't send her family flying. Suyin smiled at her daughter's success.
"Wonderful to hear," Suyin congratulated. Opal smiled to her mother and gave her a welcome home hug. Wei and Wing joined in, Baatar Jr. and Huan just staying on the sidelines. It was nice for Suyin to come back after her trip with her sister, although being left out did feel a bit out of place. Huan didn't have too much trouble with it though, unlike Baatar Jr.. After that, Suyin looked to her eldest sons.
"How have you two been?" Suyin asked.
"Doing better, nothing bad happened while you've been away, and economics have been successful," Baatar Jr. stated. Indeed, Zaofu had begun trade routes and shipments to other areas of the world, and so far, it had been going well. Huan, though, didn't really answer her and just acted distant like he always had. Suyin was a bit concerned for Huan, but at least his life wasn't at a standstill.
"Huan, what about you?" Suyin asked. Huan just sighed in boredom.
"Have some sculptors to finish up, having trouble with it, though," Huan said blankly. Suyin placed a hand on his shoulder, giving him a warm smile.
"Don't worry, Huan, you'll get your inspiration back."
All Huan did was sigh, as Suyin began walking towards her house, along with the others. It was nice to get the family back together. All they needed was Lin Beifong with her, and she'd be all set. However, among them all, Huan took a bit before starting to head after them, a bit slow but still not just standing there.
After sometime, Suyin had settled back home again with her family. While most of her family was busy getting reacquainted with Suyin Beifong, Huan was outside, busy with metalbending on some of his projects. His views as an artist were important, and he tried to get some metal into shape when Opal walked out.
"Hi, Huan," Opal began.
"... Aren't you going to talk to Mom?" Opal asked, as Huan bended another piece of metal towards the top, turning it left.
"Inspiration waits for no one," Huan replied, splitting the center in a perfect oval, as Opal walked over to his side.
"But Huan, Mom's been gone for a week, the least you can do is say hello."
"I'll talk to her once I've finished," Huan concluded. Opal was a bit unsure but then looked to the sculpture Huan was working on. The sculpture was incomplete and looked like some odd-looking fruit. Before Opal could exactly say anything, Wei and Wing suddenly came out.
"Hey, bro!" Wei yelled. His voice startled Huan in his concentration, accidentally making him crush a part of the sculpture. Huan was angry on the sudden mistake and glared daggers at the twins.
"Look what you did, don't interrupt the creative flow!" Huan snapped, as Wei and Wing walked over.
"Cool down, man, we're about to play Power Disc, and we need one more player. Wanna join us?" Wing said.
"I'm not interested, I got art to come to life," Huan said, trying to fix the mistake. Wei and Wing looked to Huan with annoyance, as Opal stepped over to them. Wing was the first to criticize Huan's statue.
"You can do other things besides carve out celery all day."
"It's no celery, it's representing the victory in Republic City against the Earth Empire!"
That immediately got Wei and Wing laughing after a few seconds, even Opal giving a very slight giggle, getting Huan angry even more.
"You got hit in the head?! That's straight up a bunch of celery!" Wei replied.
"No, it's not!" Huan protested.
"That's nothing like our battle there, not even close!" Wing laughed.
"In art, it's not just appearance. It's the representation and meaning that make true art."
"You're representing the super market, is what you did."
Huan flinched, his teeth gritted in anger. However, he suddenly turned to Opal, who turned from a smile to a look of surprise.
"Opal, you got a better eye, is that a piece of celery to you?!"
Opal took a moment to look over the sculpture he was doing. After a bit, Opal made her conclusion, a bit unsure how to exactly say it in front of Huan.
"I don't know, it looks more like a carrot stick to me," Opal said. Hand to forehead, Huan groaned upon the response. Wei and Wing were just looking at Huan with a 'told-you-so' look, making Huan red-faced. Suddenly, Huan aimed a finger right at one of the twins.
"You two are just jealous, cuz you can't make art!"
"Oh, sure, we can sculpt circles around you!" Wing said.
"Yeah right, you two are just a couple of muscle-heads with no sense of detail."
That didn't take very long to escalate, getting Wei and Wing to postpone the disc match and going out to get some metal ready. Huan got back to his sculpture, ready to continue. Huan didn't need to say any rules: that turned into a contest, who could make the best sculpture wins. Opal watched as all three suddenly went right at it. To Wei and Wing, the twins were mostly trying to get the sculpture finished faster, while Huan took some time to finish up his. The absence was easy enough to grab some other attention, as Baatar Jr. then came out.
"What's going on?"
"The brothers are making art," Opal simply said. Baatar Jr. looked to the three, both sides working at their own pace to get the sculpture done. Baatar Jr. didn't want to say anything, but he knew that Huan had the upper hand here: not only was he more in tune with art but also had more patience ... unlike the brothers. His suspicions were proven correct when the twins got theirs finished up just after five minutes, while Huan was still deep in his, not appearing to be finished.
"HA! Check it, got that done in no time flat!"
Huan stopped for a moment to compare statues. Huan would admit he wasn't finished with his work, but at least his looked like something. Wei and Wing's attempt was anything but artistic. It looked like a pile of rocks just slammed together to look like a kanji sign no one understood for the life of them. Suyin and Baatar came out and saw the same thing made by the twins as they both high-fived in victory. Huan didn't even have to say anything to get the point across, and it didn't help that their sculpture fell and collapsed into a pile of metal behind them both. Huan actually got some of the scrap metal and moved it over so he could work on his own sculpture.
"Thanks for the supplies," Huan said. Wei and Wing didn't have any reply for him and left to play Power Disc as planned. Suyin looked over to Huan's sculpture, seeing it was a lot better than what Wei and Wing had made.
"A lovely sculpture, Huan."
"Thank you, Mother. Our honor to our victory against the Earth Empire is established within this artwork," Huan said, continuing to add on more pieces and altering other parts among the sculpture. Suyin happily nodded in agreement, although the appearance wasn't really the best just yet. However, the reminder brought her memories of Kuvira at that point. Not just her involvement as a dictator, but also what she did with her back at the Foggy Swamp, letting her go. Suyin thought for a minute on what could be happening to her and how she could tell her family that she had let their once-captor go. After all, she did capture her and her family last time she took over Zaofu...
"A nice representation, Huan."
"Thank you, Mother, I'm going to make this filled with creative voice," Huan replied, getting some more of the metal and getting it on his sculpture. Suyin nodded, letting Huan get back to his masterpiece. Opal was glad that Huan and Suyin spoke at all and went back inside to join up with the others.
As the day turned to a close, Huan was still trying to finish up his piece of art. By that time, it looked nearly complete, less like a fruit and more like the representation Huan had thought of it to be. While he was doing that, the other members of the family were doing their own thing: Wei and Wing were doing one-on-one matches with Power Disc, Opal was practicing her airbending with Baatar and Suyin watching. It was rather typical and relaxing for the day's end. Zaofu alone had a pretty successful time, as the sun set, and the Zaofu guards prepared to seal off the major areas of the city. Before they did, Baatar Jr. took the time to check up on the guards before the dome was sealed.
"Everything all set?"
"Yes, sir, we're about to close up right now."
"Did you check for any entrances? Last thing we need is another incident."
"We haven't found any of the sort, sir."
"Good. Seal up for the night."
Upon command, the guards began to get to work, as the seals around Zaofu started to close up ever so slowly. Baatar Jr. couldn't blame them, it was very hard moving so much metal at one time, especially to cover an entire large portion of the city. While the city was being sealed, Baatar Jr. looked to the mountains that bordered Zaofu. As he took one more look for that day, he began to notice something odd. Within the mountains, he ... could have sworn he had noticed something move ... However, before he could get a full detail, the main domes blocked the mountain view, sealing up for the night to come. Baatar Jr. just shrugged off the idea, thinking it was just either the light bouncing off the metal dome pieces or just one of those 'corner-of-your-eye' tricks, when you think something's there, look, and find out it was nothing after a second. Still, Baatar Jr. just went back on his way, leaving the guards of Zaofu to their work.
Seemed after the dome had been sealed, the area had gone dormant and dark, signaling the night time was close. Of course, it was a normal thing that had been going on for years, so there was no true alarm once it had been completely sealed up. Eventually, Huan was almost complete with his work of art, the main model almost in full shape in front of him. He didn't mind that the light had dimmed on the city due to the metal dome being put up, as he had better concentration without sunlight beaming in his face. With the artificial lighting around him, Huan continued to the best of his ability. While he was doing so, Baatar Jr. showed up (not bothering Huan yet), observing his work so far. Baatar Jr. waited until Huan stopped his motion to speak.
"How much of that do you have left to do?" Baatar Jr. asked.
"Artistry has no limit, brother."
"... So, how much do you have left?"
"I'd say an hour's worth should do it for the day," Huan concluded. Baatar Jr. looked over Huan's work for a minute or two, looking over the details. It looked something like Kuvira's giant mecha suit, surrounded by spirit vines.
"Huan? You're good with advice, right?"
"I consider it a slight gift, what of it?"
"Well ... It's about Kuvira."
Huan stopped his work for a brief moment and turned to Baatar Jr., waiting to hear the issue.
"I know what she did with our family ... but I can't stop worrying about her ..." Huan didn't need very much time to put it together. Even knowing what Kuvira did to his family and home, Baatar Jr. still loved her. Heck, he was going to marry her until Kuvira had ditched him towards the end. Huan placed a hand on Baatar Jr.'s shoulder.
"Forget about her, Brother. She's not worth it."
"But I can't help but worry about her. Mother said Kuvira's prison was destroyed and ... well ..."
"So are you worried about Kuvira being out alone, or are you worried about the Earth Empire returning?"
"Both ... but I'm more worried about Kuvira ..."
"I see. Baatar Jr., the best you can do is move on."
"... What if I can't?"
"You'll have to, Baatar Jr.. It'll be hard at first, but it's been eleven months since Kuvira has left. There's no reason to be worrying anymore," Huan insisted. However, before Baatar Jr. could say anything else, Opal suddenly flew over to them, looking worried.
"There you two are, we need your help!"
"What's the matter?"
"Something's trying to break in!"
Baatar Jr., Huan, and Opal quickly rushed over as quickly as they could to one part of the metal dome. A lot of the guards were trying to keep the dome from breaking up, them all able to hear some sort of loud, ghostly moan as the dome literally dented from whatever was on the other side. Suyin, Baatar, Wei and Wing were there too trying to help as much as they could.
"What's going on?!" Baatar Jr. asked in worry, rushing over to Baatar himself.
"We're trying to keep this beast out, but we need more help!" Baatar groaned. Suddenly, another dent jutted out of the wall as the beast changed positions. Before anyone could end up fixing it, the jut dent ripped open, revealing a rocky, roaring head jutting out. The roar emitted echoed from within the enclosed city, shocking everyone within. Wei and Wing rushed over, launching power discs at the head as the guards sealed the hole in the dome. Baatar Jr. went over to help, yet Huan and Opal weren't sure what to do. Opal could airbend, not metalbend, and Huan wasn't good at combat in the slightest. The group heard more moaning from the other side of the wall, but no more dents were made in the wall ... then silence ...
"Is ... Is it gone?"
No sooner after Opal said that, something GIGANTIC launched out of the ground from right behind her and Huan, catching everyone off guard. The giant beast was, much to Suyin's dismay, a Voronon. Though the one that invaded Zaofu looked much different from the one back on the Foggy Swamp. This one appeared more like a giant worm covered in fur with multiple rocks jutting from its body. Dangling from its mouth were two long strands, looking like a split sensei mustache, connected to a set of large rocky ruin orbs, which swung around underneath its gaping jaws. It looked as large as a freight train and just as durable.
The Beifong family was not prepared for such a monstrosity.
The guards quickly came alive, trying to apprehend the creature, but any and all attempts had proven ineffective against the giant worm. They kept trying to use the metal floor as a sort of trap, digging the sides into the skin of the worm, but that proved to cause it little harm, as it was easily able to breach out of the ground and out of their grip. The giant ended up slamming into the earth below, but since it was metal instead of dirt, it landed harshly with a rough thud, unable to dig through from up top. No one was injured in the fall, but the beast thrashed around for a bit, eventually spinning around. As it did, its gaping mouth grabbed hold of Wing and pulled him down underground with it. Desperate to save his twin, Wei rushed forward and grabbed Wing, but all that did was drag them both underground, as the Beifongs rushed to the hole.
"No, not again," Suyin thought, remembering her mother's death from these same creatures. Suyin quickly turned to the other members of her family.
"Opal, Huan, come with me. Baatar, Junior, you two watch out here in case it breaches again," Suyin ordered. They didn't waste anytime, and Baatar and Baatar Jr. went off to the other guards while Huan, Opal and Suyin went down the giant tunnel to find the Wei and Wing. When the three went running down the tunnel, it got dark very very quickly. Since there wasn't much light outside to begin with, light within the tunnels was almost non-existent. The tunnel, however, was surprisingly well maintained, very smooth as if it too was made of metal instead of dry dirt. However, that would be good if the group could actually see where they were going, keeping close together so they wouldn't be picked off.
"Stay together, everyone," Suyin instructed.
"This would be easier with Aunt Lin, she could sense through this easy," Huan groaned. As they continued on for another minute, listening closely. They continued on for a while longer, but as they went, the three suddenly began hearing something very faint from within the cave ... it grew bigger and bigger, until they all suddenly saw light from within the tunnel, much like bright cyan blue lights ...
They were the Voronon's eyes.
The entire head filled up the whole tunnel, its jaws opened up and ready to attack them all, as it moved forward at them. Suyin and Opal fought against the beast, launching pieces of earth and air right at its face. The hits kept moving it back, but not for very long. Huan moved back, eyes directly on the beast.
"Huan, get the guards, we can't hold it off for long!" Suyin ordered. Before Huan could do anything, the beast dug downward like a giant drill, suddenly appearing in Huan's way. The beast rushed to Huan's right and left them behind quickly. The beast soon breached the surface, close to Huan's sculptures. The breach got the guards' attention, and they all rushed over to apprehend it again. The giant worm landed hard on the ground below, slamming into the metal under it. The tail of the beast swung around like mad and smashed into Huan's metal sculpture.
"Huan's not going to like that," Baatar Jr. thought after seeing his metal sculpture go flying off. The guards tried their hardest, but no matter how much they tried to keep it still, the beast wasn't able to stay still. Suyin, Opal, and Huan got out from the other hole to see the devastation.
"Oh no. Huan, you and Opal keep looking, I'm going after it," Suyin ordered, as she ran off towards the giant Voronon beast. The giant worm struggled more and more, but every time it got one loose, the guards would replace it right away, tiring the beast more and more as time went by. Within the tunnel, Huan and Opal continued to look around a bit more within the tunnel.
"Wei, Wing, where are you guys?!"
So far, they didn't find anything in the tunnel. The tunnel network was simply too dark for them both to figure out anything. As they continued, suddenly they both began hearing something up ahead of them. The two, only barely, could hear someone screaming from the other end. Huan and Opal began running off as fast as they could, trying to save whoever was there. Huan was a little bit ahead of Opal, trying to reach whoever was in trouble. However, suddenly, the ground dropped off, and Huan started to fall, being caught by Opal just behind him. Huan and Opal both looked down, unable to see what was at the bottom.
"Thanks, Opal," Huan said. Opal and Huan both looked down into the deep abyss, unsure of how deep or how large it actually was. To test it, Huan got out a large rock and tossed it down below. They heard it hit...and then a yelp.
"OW! Who threw that?!"
"Wing, is that you?!"
"Opal?! Thank Raava you're here, get us out!"
"I'm on my way!" Opal quickly jumped down and soon found the twins at the bottom. They could only assume that the worm dropped them there for later. Opal quickly got Wei and Wing out of the pit. Huan, Opal, and the twins quickly began rushing out to reunite with the others outside. By the time they ran out, the worm was completely secure, completely wrapped in the metal plating to keep it still. Suyin found them first as they ran over, the worm trying to move from its restraints.
"Wei! Wing! You're alright!" Baatar gasped upon seeing them. The twins hugged their parents as Opal and Huan went to Baatar Jr..
"Baatar Jr., what are we going to do with this thing?" Opal asked. Baatar Jr. looked to the beast wrapped up, noticing it actually weakening from its restraints as it groaned more. Baatar Jr. wasn't sure why it was weakening, but soon the worm finally weakened too much, as the light in its eyes dimmed away completely...
"...I don't think we need to worry," Baatar Jr. concluded.
"It's done...I'm just glad you two are alright," Suyin said after a bit. However, as the family tried to think on how to move the body from the city, Huan saw what remained of his statue...He was silent at first, his face completely blank, eyes wide.
"Oh no, Huan, I know what you're thinking but -" Opal said, trying to get Huan calmed down before things could get out of hand, but Huan walked over to the statue's remains...but he didn't appear as upset as they thought he would be. In fact, he used his earthbending to lift the statue back into place and began going crazy with it, adding and altering metal at a fast speed, his mood turning positive very fast. In just under a minute, the others saw him complete the sculpture to its full extent. Before he just thought of spirit vines wrapping around Kuvira's statue, but that turned into a statue of the mecha suit in mid explosion, a metallic explosion splitting the mecha suit at the stomach, held up by the spirit energy. Inspiration had just slammed hard on Huan, and he used every second on it for the alteration of his work. The family looked at the statue with a big smile, very impressed on how good the sculpture had turned out. However, everyone was a bit tired, so they began heading inside.
"Thanks, Mother. *yawn* Now let's head in," Huan finished. At that note, Huan began heading back inside with Suyin. Before heading inside, he took one more look at his masterpiece with a smirk on his face, before finally heading off inside.
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