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|"You need to stop thinking about money and start thinking about people's lives!"|
|— Toph to Loban.|
The Rift Part 2 is the second installment of The Rift trilogy. It was released in comic book stores on July 2, 2014, followed by regular stores on August 1. It was later released with its counterparts in Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Rift Library Edition HC on February 11, 2015.
Toph's reunion with her father does not go all too well as he refuses to recognize her as his daughter. After fighting off the Rough Rhinos, she tries to talk to him, getting him to see the real her. Meanwhile, Katara and Sokka discover that a secret iron mine is the source of the river's pollution as well as the earthquakes and Aang travels back in to town where he is finally able to contact Yangchen, who tells him about her history with the General Old Iron spirit, with whom she struck a deal, the specifics of which became lost due to the Hundred Year War. As the iron mine collapses, Aang's connection to Yangchen is cut off before she can complete her story and Katara and Toph become trapped underground along with several others.
In the Earthen Fire Refinery, Toph Beifong tries to speak to her father, Lao Beifong, but is dismissed to be a confused young lady rather than his daughter. When Satoru asks her if she really is Lao's daughter, he is chastised by his Uncle Loban to mind his own business and get the production lines back up and running as they have deadlines to meet.
Toph tries to address her father once more, though he asks the Rough Rhinos to escort Team Avatar off the refinery's premises, resulting in a violent confrontation between the mercenaries and Team Avatar, as Aang and Toph refuse to leave before they have talked about the refinery's location and to Lao Beifong respectively. During the fight, Aang notices that some members of the Rough Rhinos are new and learned that Utor has joined the group after the end of the Hundred Year War, as he had previously been a soldier in Ozai's army. When Aang notices Toph catapulting her opponent into the air after nearly being hit by his chain-knives, he catches the guy and gently places him on the ground, protecting him from a painful crash. When the man attempts to stab him, Aang sinks him in the ground and turns to Toph, arguing that she has to be more careful. Noting that the mercenary nearly cut her in half, Toph rebuffs Aang's plea to fight with an inner calm by pointing out that she is not one of his Air Acolytes and that she will fight however she deems fit.
Meanwhile, Sokka takes on Colonel Mongke, though his machete proves to be ineffective against the soldier's armor and, switching tactics, he ends up running away. As he passes Katara fighting Yeh-Lu and an ax-wielding soldier, he grabs her and runs toward the end of the refinery's ground, running into a dead-end as they reach a fence. As the three Rough Rhinos charge them, they jump out of the way, causing the komodo rhinos to run down the fence, and they resume the battle on the bank of the river.
Meanwhile, Xing Ying and Yee-Li are cornered by Ogodei, though are saved when Jingbo rides in on a forklift, chasing the Rough Rhino away. His charge is cut short, though, as he is reprimanded by Xing Ying, who deems his behavior to be unfitting for an Air Acolyte. Their conversation enables Ogodei to strike back and capture them all, though they are saved by Toph, who used her metalbending to tie Ogodei down with his own metal bolo. She reprimands the Acolytes, telling them that they had to concentrate on what was happening at that moment instead of "worshiping the past". When Aang appears and asks the Acolytes why they are still there, Xing Ying reminds him that they came to learn about Air Nomad traditions and that they are not leaving before they have properly celebrated Yangchen's Festival. Aang asks Toph if she would like to join them, but his offer is shot down and she leaves them to go talk to her father.
Aang and the Air Acolytes make their way back to town toward the tree Aang and Gyatso used to sit under to enjoy their meal. After discovering it had been cut down, Aang chooses to celebrate inside the restaurant that had been built on same spot. The owner, the cabbage merchant, recognizes Aang immediately as a source of bad things to happen to his cabbages, though agrees to let Aang have his ceremonial meal there under the condition that he orders at least one dish from the restaurant's menu.
Inside the factory, Toph is walking in the direction Satoru pointed her to in order to find her father's office. The young engineer catches up with her, offering to walk her there as it can be otherwise hard to find, but Toph questions if he is sure, stating that she does not want him to "have to grovel again" to his uncle. Hurt by being called a "sniveling flunky", Satoru calls her out, telling her that she does not know his situation and that since Loban had been there for him when he needed it the most, he would always be grateful to his uncle. He subsequently leaves Toph in front of Lao's office, which she enters.
Having had the advantage of an ample water source, Katara managed to encase the three Rough Rhinos in ice, only leaving their heads free. Sokka makes fun of Yeh-Lu, who is holding a live explosive in his hand. Sokka takes his time to remove the explosive, but fails to make the wick go out, eventually opting to throw the bomb away. It explodes on the other side of the river, revealing a secret passageway, which they immediately investigate.
At the restaurant, Aang and the Air Acolytes join hands and the young Avatar starts to recite the ritual blessing. By the time he has finished, he has crossed over to the Spirit World, where Yangchen is sitting with him. She explains that all Avatars are connected to one another like a chain, so by severing his connection to Roku, Aang had also damaged his connection to all the Avatars preceding him. It is only due to ritual of the ceremonial meal, which serves as a temporary conduit, that they are able to communicate. Meanwhile, in the physical world, the Air Acolytes wonder to whom Aang is talking, guessing it could be Yangchen or even the lady from the statue to whom they bowed earlier.
As Toph enters her father's office, Lao quickly slides the family photo he was looking at underneath other papers and tells Toph once again that she is not his daughter and that she should leave the premises. When he is told to stop lying, he says that he has a daughter whom he raised to be a poised, demure, obedient young woman, though when he looks at the girl standing before him, he only sees a rude and ungrateful "thing". He demands Toph to show him that he is mistaken and that she is his daughter by greeting him properly like a child of their class should greet their parent.
Illuminating their path with glowing crystals, Sokka and Katara make their way deeper into the shaft and discover an underground mine which is the source of the river's pollution. Before they can do anything, however, they are discovered by Kahchi and Vachir and a scuffle ensues, during which one of the mine's support beams is heavily damaged, causing a minor earthquake. Katara ends the fight by freezing Vachir after Sokka took care of Kahchi and they attempt to get every worker to evacuate, to no avail. Nutha and Niyok approach them and explain that they need the job to survive, so without their boss's order, no one would leave, prompting Sokka to run back to the refinery to find their boss.
In the Spirit World, Yangchen clarifies that the Avatar's past lives are meant to guide the current incarnation in order to prevent the repetition of their mistakes. She emphasizes that she too has made mistakes, ones Aang cannot repeat. She recalls the memory of her first mission as the Avatar, a week after she had become a master of all four elements. Together with Boma and her two winged lemurs, Pik and Pak, she traveled to the city to which she was summoned. There, she learns about a prediction of "vengeance from the sea" and takes up guard on a cliff overlooking the water. Just past midnight, a giant spirit appears, which knocks her down and moves on to the city to destroy it when she tries to talk to him.
Meanwhile, Toph explains that the quiet little girl her father thought she was had never been more than an act to please him. She continues by pointing out that the real her, while not prim and proper, is the greatest earthbender in the world, who trained the Avatar, and helped to end the Hundred Year War. Without saying a word, Lao turns his back on Toph. She wipes her eyes as she turns toward the door, concluding that coming to him had been a mistake and that she would never bother him again. Before she could exit, though, Sokka bursts through the door, being chased by Satoru who tried to stop him from entering. The Southern Water Tribe warrior walks up to Lao and tells him to order his employees to evacuate the mine as it could collapse at any moment. Lao rebuffs the order, stating that the crystal mine is regularly inspected, and is surprised to learn that Sokka is talking about an iron mine, as he was under the impression the refinery solely processed crystals.
Yangchen continues her story, recalling how Boma evacuated all the citizens while she battled the spirit throughout the night, leaving the city in ruins. At the break of dawn, the spirit communicated his story with her, revealing to the young Avatar that his name was General Old Iron and he lived in that area centuries earlier with Lady Tienhai, whom he protected. When one day a group of humans made their home there as well, Tienhai became their guardian, though Old Iron, having heard of other humans destroying spirits, wanted to kill them. When he was about the destroy the tribe, Tienhai stopped him and he left. However, since he had felt Lady Tienhai die a few nights prior to meeting Yangchen, he had chosen to exact his revenge and finish the plan he had made so long ago. The king of the city corroborates the spirit's story, claiming responsibility for Tienhai's death, causing Old Iron to attack the people directly.
Back in the physical world, Sokka, Lao, Toph, and Satoru arrive in the iron mine, where Lao is shocked to learn that it does, in fact, exist. He was under the impression that he and Loban had agreed not to mine the iron ore as the area was too dangerous. At that moment, however, Loban appears, stating that no such agreement was ever made, and that due to the unnaturally high iron ore concentration, he had chosen to mine it in secret without Lao's knowledge. Toph blames Loban for caring more about money than human lives, which prompts Satoru to come to his uncle defense.
Lao orders every worker to evacuate, though his order is negated by Loban, who vows to fire anyone who dares to leave. Kahchi uses the ensuing confusion to attack Sokka once more and throws his weapon at him. Sokka ducks, causing the weapon to shatter a nearby support beam.
In the Spirit World, Yangchen nears the end of her story. Upon witnessing Old Iron attacking the people, the Avatar State welled up unbidden in Yangchen and she forced the spirit to stop. They came to an agreement, where the spirit would leave the people alone as long as the conditions of the deal where honored for eternity. To uphold her end of the bargain, Yangchen established the ritual that would become Yangchen's Festival. Due to the Hundred Year War, the specifics of it had become lost, though Aang urges Yangchen to reiterate the terms of the agreement to him. Before she can do so, however, an earthquake interrupts the ceremonial meal, and forces Aang to return to the physical world, where he can no longer connect with Yangchen.
Deducing that the earthquake had been much stronger than any previous one and that people would need their help, Aang and the Air Acolytes hurry back toward the refinery, where they find Sokka supporting Niyok, who has a broken arm. The Air Acolytes immediately start to tend to the wounded, while Sokka briefs Aang on the situation. Learning that the earthquake was caused by the cave-in of the iron mine which left several people, among them Katara and Toph, trapped underground, Aang wastes no time and uses his earthbending to dig a tunnel. Katara calls out to him, however, urging him to stop. She reveals that everyone is all right, though the earth is mixed with iron ore as well, making Toph's metalbending the only reason why they had not been crushed already, and if Aang were to bend the wrong way, he could cause the cave to collapse on top of them.
- Main article: Transcript:The Rift Part 2
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Yangchen refers back to Aang severing his connection with Roku, which happened in The Promise Part 3.
- On page 70, Yangchen's arrow tattoos are noticeably absent from her hands.
- Nutha and Niyok are the only two miners in the iron mine not wearing white head coverings.
Library Edition reveals
The Rift Library Edition compiles all three parts of The Rift trilogy as well as interjects trivia- and production-based notes in the sidebar of many pages. These notes were written by Gene Yang and the Gurihiru team. The following are notable points from the Library Edition that pertain to The Rift Part 2's early production phase and trivialities as attested by the aforementioned crew members.
- Gene Yang (author-perspective, storytelling trivia):
- The Rough Rhinos are the Avatar World's version of a biker gang. The group increased in membership following the Fire Nation's defeat given that many citizens, especially veterans, began to seek groups in which to belong (p. 85).
- It was important for Yang to highlight the philosophical differences between Aang's pacifist nature and Toph's practical sensibility (p. 89).
- After the war ended, the cabbage merchant kept his cabbages safe by keeping them in a store instead of a cart (p. 105).
- Lady Tienhai's name is a transliteration of two Chinese words: "tian" ( ) and "hai" ( ), which mean "sky" and "sea", respectively (p. 137).
- The initial draft of the story involved two lobster serpent spirits who were eventually replaced by Lady Tienhai and General Old Iron. Lady Tienhai is inspired by the Chinese goddess, Mazu, and her two general companions served as inspiration for General Old Iron (p. 146).
- Gurihiru (stylistic and artistic trivia):
- The cabbage merchant's appearance in the graphic novel was not expected by the Gurihiru team (p. 104).
- The confrontation between Lao and Toph was staged so that the former would be placed in the light while the latter would be in the shadows in order to express the disconnect between the two of them (p. 117).
- The Gurihiru team referenced Japanese brush paintings of tatara steel-smelting while designing the underground mine (p. 120).
- A slight change in art style more akin to traditional Asian brush paintings was used to depict a flashback within a flashback (p. 136).
- Multiple stages of sketching, penciling, inking, and coloring were undergone to perfect the panel in which Toph holds up the collapsing mine (p. 152).