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January 19, 2014
Chapter 7, Taylor: Meng Beifong
I felt like I had spent way too much time in waiting rooms as ChoHee, David, Caleb, Chi-Ji and I walked into the Beifong Metalbending Academy. A kid who appeared to be about Chi-Ji's age sat at the front desk. He seemed to be acting as the secretary.
"You must be here to see Master Meng," the boy said. "Are you Yukio?" He asked me, as he stood up.
"Yep. That's me," I replied.
"Welcome to Yu Dao, Avatar Yukio. It's an honor to welcome you to our prestigious school," He said, bowing. "And it's a pleasure to welcome part of the Royal Family, as well. Master Meng will be here in a few minutes."
"Thank you," Chi-Ji said.
While we were waiting, we went on a mini tour of the school. There were pictures of every class of students and teachers. There were pictures of all the Beifongs. We all laughed when we found a picture of Stella as a child, obviously taken while she had been speaking.
I had found a picture of my mom and all her friends. Dukran, Myung Dae, Stella, my dad, Kohanna, and the two people I hadn't yet met, Hitomi and Kaage were all sitting in front of my house in the Northern Water Tribe. I couldn't help but smile at them. They could all be in their teens or twenties.
The most touching photo was one that ChoHee had found. It was a picture of me as a baby and I was tucked into Stella's arms. I laughed because I had the alert face of any baby I had ever seen. I looked so serious. I had these huge ice blue bug eyes that just stared into the camera. Of course, I still had them, but my head grew into them. "You were so cute, Taylor!" Chi-Ji said.
"Yeah," ChoHee agreed. "You have those same eyes. I could tell that this was a picture of you by just glancing at it."
"Huh," Caleb said, examining the picture. "Your hair is the same."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, defensive.
"Your hair. It's still black and straight and messy," Caleb answered.
ChoHee lost all her composure and burst into laughter. I looked at her in disbelief, but I couldn't help laughing along with her. Seconds after, we were all laughing, "Is it really that bad?" I asked, running my fingers through it. "I know I need a haircut, but-"
"It looks fine, Yukio," a voice said from behind me.
I turned around to face Meng Beifong. She had thick black hair that was cropped into a bob, and eyes that were a deep sapphire color. She was wearing a Kyoshi Warrior kimono, much like Stella's, that was a deep coffee color instead of gray, indicating that she was from a different town on Kyoshi Island than Stella. She had the Kyoshi Warrior war paint, but instead of red or green eye makeup, hers was a tan color. She was tall, but not as tall as Stella, but she was just as gorgeous. Her beauty left me speechless, just as it had done with Stella
"Welcome," Meng said, grinning. "I was wondering when I'd meet the baby in that picture. I'm almost eighteen years too late." Meng laughed and then gave me a hug. I hugged her back. "It's so good to meet you, Yukio. I've been looking forward to this day for a long time."
"It's nice to meet you, Master Meng," I said after she released me. "These are my friends. Chi-Ji, Tae-Hun, Dong Min and ChoHee."
"I know the Firelord's kids. It's good to see you guys again. Happy belated birthday, Caleb," Meng said. "Come into my office, kids."
We followed Meng into her office. Her large desk was littered with unorganized paper and almost-empty water bottles. "Sorry about the mess. I've been spending too much time here," Meng said, embarrassed. "So, what can I help you with?"
"We have a connection with someone in the Independent Nation," I said. "She -or he-," I said, trying not to reveal Kohanna's identity, "gave us some information about a possible bombing in Yu Dao. We came to share information and see if we could do some sort of investigation."
"I see," Meng said, going into serious mode. She sat down at her desk and started scribbling on a pad of paper. "Do you know what kind of bombs?"
"We assume detonated," Chi-Ji said. "But we're not entirely sure. The Independent Nation has the resources and money to get detonators, but the Fire Nation makes them. We have no way of knowing what ethnicity makes up the bulk of the IN, so we don't know how easy it is for them to buy bombs without raising suspicion."
"Go on," Meng prompted.
"We also don't know when," I said.
"Or how much of the city that they are going to destroy," David tacked on.
Meng nodded. "This doesn't give me enough to go off."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Kids, I can't start an investigation on just a possibility," she said, frowning.
"But this is from a very reliable source," Chi-Ji said.
"I wish I could help you, but I can't. There's not enough information," Meng said.
"I need more than just an inkling."
"It's not just an inkling. It's a fact," Chi-Ji argued.
"It's fine," I said, trying not to sound defeated. "I understand."
"No, Taylor, we have to protect this city!" Chi-Ji shouted.
David put his arm around Chi-Ji shoulders. "There's not a whole lot we can do. Meng is right, Chi-Ji."
Chi-Ji shook his arm off. "You're impossible, Tae Hun!" Chi-Ji said. She shot a tiny blue flame at David's feet, then stormed off.
"I'll go find her," ChoHee said absently. She released my hand (I'd forgotten that she was holding it) and walked out of the office.
"Really, guys. I'm sorry I can't help you. I really wish I could. But if you hear anything else, give me a call. And if I hear anything else, I'll do the same, okay?"
"Thanks, Meng," David said. "I really appreciate you meeting with us."
"It's no problem, sweetie. How long are you going to be in town?" Meng asked.
"I don't know. It's up to Taylor. We might go back to Ba Sing Se. It's hard to say. We go where people need us," David replied.
"Well, if you ever need any help, please call. I'd be happy to talk with you guys," Meng said, cheerfully.
"We will," I promised.
David, Caleb, and I walked outside. We saw ChoHee, but Chi-Ji was nowhere in sight. ChoHee was frantically pacing back and forth. She didn't seem to notice us as we approached. I gently touched her shoulder.
She jumped back and took an Earthbending stance. When she saw it was just me, she laughed and stood up straight. "Don't scare me like that! You were about to take a boulder to the face!"
"Sorry," I replied. "That wasn't very smooth on my part."
"Yeah. Don't do it again," ChoHee said.
"Where's Chi-Ji?" David asked.
ChoHee looked down at her hands, then looked up at David. "I don't know. By the time I got out here, she was gone. I figured she walked back to the house, but I'm not entirely sure," ChoHee said, sounding ashamed.
"It's not your fault, ChoHee," Caleb said. "We'll find her."
"What if we don't?" ChoHee said, her lips quivering. "She doesn't have her phone."
"She trained with the Yuyan Archers. She'll be fine. Plus, even with her rudimentary Firebending, she can defend herself," David assured. "But we'll find her. Don't worry, ChoHee."
I squeezed ChoHee's hand gently. "We'll find her. But we need to stick together. I don't want to be picked off," I declared.
"Good idea," David agreed. "But where do we start?"
"I guess the house," I said.
"She can't be that far away. She's only been gone for fifteen minutes," ChoHee pointed out.
"Well, let's just check the forest," I decided.
Behind the Scenes!
- Meng was just being nice. Taylor needs a haircut.
- Meng is Stella's cousin.
For the collective works of the author, go here.