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Transcript:The Promise Part 3

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Real-world


The comic opens with four separate frames. A storm rages; rain falls from clouds hanging low in the air over a range of mountains; the puddles of water on the ground splash outward as Fire Nation soldiers rush through them. The third frame switches the view to the front of the soldiers; as they run, with the mountains silhouetted behind them, lightning splits the sky. The final of the four frames is a close-up of an Earth Kingdom soldier; he has his helmet pulled down over his eyes, revealing only his mouth, which betrays a barely-formed snarl. The shot pulls out to reveal the full scene: Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom forces clash in the tempest, each side supported by tanks and bending.

Gurihiru - One of the things we enjoy about drawing comics is that each story presents an opportunity to draw new things. This was the first time we ever drew rain in a comic.

Gene Luen Yang - In this page's first four panels, all four elements are in chaos.

Zuko and Aang stand atop the mountain, watching the battle with concern, while a shadowed Roku and Ozai, respectively, stand behind them.
Zuko One moment, I know, deep in my heart, that I must defend my people. But then the next, doubt creeps in. Maybe I'm supposed to follow through with the Harmony Restoration Movement.
Ozai's shadow Prove yourself worthy of the throne, my son!
Zuko [Turns to Aang.] Aang, how am I supposed to figure out what's right when his voice is all I hear?! You could have silenced him forever ... perhaps then I could have found peace! But you didn't, and now I can't!
Aang [Looks away.] I'm sorry, Zuko ...
Roku's shadow When he had a firm grasp of the good, your friend asked you for a promise!
Ozai's shadow The Fire Lord's will determines what is right! Embrace this truth and you'll possess the peace that you desire!
Zuko I don't think I'll ever stop feeling lost.
Scene zooms out to show Roku's shadow and Zuko both looking at Aang.
Roku's shadow Now fulfill your promise and restore the world to harmony!
Zuko Go ahead, Aang! Do it!
Aang closes his eyes and enters the Avatar State. He rises in an air sphere; the other three elements soon circle around him. Zuko and Roku each watch, but suddenly, the Fire Lord spots a vision of his teary-eyed mother behind Roku.
Zuko Wait ...! Don't cry ...
Aang launches a fire blast at Zuko; however, at that moment, both awaken at the same time. Aang is shown on Appa's saddle while Katara sleeps peacefully and Zuko is shown on his ship. Aang quickly tries to catch his breath while Zuko nervously feels for his heartbeat.
Aang AAAH!
Zuko Hrgh
Aang Huff huff huff.

Gurihiru - We forgot to draw the scar on Zuko's chest in the first edition of this story, so we added it in this collection.

Gene - Dreams and visions have always been an important storytelling device in Avatar: The Last Airbender. In "The Swamp," Aang has a vision of Toph before he meets her. In "The Earth King," Zuko dreams that he's the Fire Lord. Two dragons, one blue and one red, give him conflicting advice. We continue that tradition of using dreams and visions here.

Everyone is carrying on with their daily lives in the streets of Yu Dao while Appa flies above and roars.
Aang Fire Nation residents of Yu Dao, you must evacuate the city immediately! Your lives are in danger!
Earthbenders and firebenders start attacking Aang, Katara, and Appa out of nowhere.
Aang Whoa! Watch out sweetie! We're being attacked by firebenders!
Katara You mean earthbenders!
Aang [Kori bends a meteor hammer toward Aang, Katara, and Appa.] No, I mean, uh ... earthbenders who attach little chain thingies to their rocks ...?
Katara That's a meteor hammer, Aang! And it looks like someone is earthbending it right back at us!
Aang Nothing an air funnel can't handle!
Katara Here come throwing axes!
Aang Why can't they make up their minds on how they wanna attack us?! [Katara freezes the throwing axes.]
Katara That's our ax thrower over there! Looks like he's run out of axes!
Aang I'm on it!
Aang chases after Sneers with his glider; Sneers soon jumps through a window in a shop nearby.
Aang Aw, an ax factory?! Why'd it had to be an ax factory?! [The people in the axe factory start throwing more axes toward him.] Whoa! Yikes! Yeow! [He airbends at the axe thrower and knocks him over.]
Katara Aang?
Aang Don't worry, I'm fine! I just caught him!
Katara and Aang Sneers?!
Sneers Hi, Avatar Aang. Hi, Katara.
Aang [Angrily.] I don't get it. Why would you --
Kori Because you're trying to force us out of our homes, Avatar Aang! We're not leaving!
Katara Wait, I've seen you before --!
Kori My name is Kori Morishita! And we are the Yu Dao Resistance!.
Aang [To Kori.] You have to evacuate right now! You have no idea what's coming!
Katara And Sneers, weren't you helping lead the protests outside the city a few days ago?
Sneers I was confused, okay? Smellerbee wanted me to help her, so I just kinda ... Look, I grew up hating the Fire Nation! What those ash makers did to my parents-- That's why I became a Freedom Fighter! But when Jet and the other guys went to Ba Sing Se, I came to Yu Dao to live with my uncle. Then, without even meaning to, I fell in love with an ash maker.

Gene - Like the other Freedom Fighters, Sneers starts off deeply ideological. When they first appeared in the original show, the Freedom Fighters wanted to achieve their goals regardless of the means. Eventually, many of the Freedom Fighters developed a more nuanced view of the world. Sneers never did because he only showed up in a single episode.

Sneers's relationship with Kori is what happens when ideology comes up against flesh-and-blood human beings. Often, the ideology has to give way.

Aang Wait, you are going out with you?!
Sneers Yeah, I hid it from our friends for a long time, but I'm done with that. My girlfriend is Fire Nation.
Yu Dao man #1 So are all my cousins on my mom's side.
Yu Dao girl And my favorite teacher.
Yu Dao man #2 My stepfather.
Yu Dao man #3 The guy who sells me mochi every morning.
Katara You joined the Yu Dao Resistance to defend a guy who sells you mochi?
Yu Dao Man #3 It's really good mochi!
Aang So, I just want to make sure I've got this right. You are going out with her ...
Sneers Yeah, what're you getting at?
Aang Nothing! Way to go, Sneers!
Sneers I know this makes me looks like a traitor, but I'm only fighting alongside the Yu Dao Resistance so long they agree to keep both Earth Kingdom -and Fire Nation intruders out, because Yu Dao is neither!
Kori You mean because Yu Dao is both! [To Aang.] Let Smellerbee and her protesters come! We can handle them!
Aang But the protesters aren't the only ones you need to worry about! Earth King Kuei is coming with his army! They could arrive at any moment!
Sneers No way! An entire army--?!
Aang That's what I've been trying to tell you! You have to go! A handful of resistance fighters can't stand up to an army!
Sneers We can if the Avatar joins us.
Aang Sneers, no! I told the Earth King that I would see the Harmony Restoration through to the end!
Katara Aang, maybe we should hear them out ...
Kori Well, if you won't help us Avatar Aang, maybe one of those Avatars will.
Xing Ying Greetings, Avatar Aang! The Yu Dao chapter of the Avatar Aang Fan Club has anticipated your arrival! I'm Xing Ying, the club president!
Aang Look Katara! Another fan club!
Katara [Sarcastically.] Yay.
Kori [To Katara.] You know them?
Katara I know their type.
Aang Wow! You guys seem really different from the Ba Sing Se chapter! Are all of you presidents? You're really different.
Xing Ying Why would we all be presidents?
Aang Your clothes look just like the uniforms the Western Air Temple students used to wear!
Xing Ying Of course, Avatar Aang! We pride ourselves on authenticity! Our members devote as many hours to studying Air Nomad philosophy, as you did when you were training!
Aang And the arrow you've printed on your foreheads looks almost exactly like the real airbender tattoos!
Xing Ying Oh, these aren't paint. They're real tattoos! We used the same ink as you--
Aang Wait, what?! But Air Nomad tattoos have to be earned through years and years of airbending practice! They're not --
Xing Ying Oh, we know, Avatar Aang! For a fan club member to receive her tattoos, she must master hundreds of airbender-like forms!
Aang "Airbender-like"?! Those tattoos are sacred to my people! They describe who we are and how we see the world! You have no right to tattoo yourselves like that!
Xing Ying I assure you that our members go through the most rigorous of study programs! By the end, they--
Aang But how could you study Air Nomad philosophy at at all and still do something like this?!
Katara Aang, I'm sure it's an honest mistake.
Aang For you to treat our tattoos like a part of some ... some ... costume ...! My culture isn't a game!

Gene - In 2011, Ohio University's Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) created an Internet poster campaign called "We're a Culture, Not a Costume." On the posters, students of various ethnicities held pictures of racially offensive Halloween costumes. The campaign stirred up all sorts of debate online. What's the difference between a costume that references a culture and one that's culturally offensive? And who gets to decide where to draw that line? Shouldn't cosplay just be about fantasy and fun? Why bring real-world politics into it? I was thinking about all this as I was writing this particular subplot.

Katara [To Aang.] Where are you going?
Aang To the city gates. General How's army could show up at any moment. When they do, I'm gonna try to buy you guys a little more time. Maybe they'll listen. Maybe they won't. Either way, the Fire Nation colonials have got to go. It's time we separate the nations and restore harmony.
Zuko is talking to a painting of Iroh inside his own ship.
Zuko I'm telling you, my actions make sense! The Fire Nation citizens of Yu Dao are my people! As the Fire Lord, I have a duty to protect them! [Zuko closes his eyes.] But it goes beyond that. [Zuko opens his eyes wide and start to use some hand gestures toward Iroh's painting.] When the mayor's wife invited me to stay with them, I didn't just get to see what Yu Dao was like. I got to see what their family was like. They ate together, sitting at the same table. They talked and laughed and when they argued, they didn't challenge each other to Agni Kais. They're so ... normal. You, of all people, know my family is not. In my heart, I know what I'm doing is right. I'm not defending a colony. I'm defending people. And I'm defending their bonds with one another. But there is one fact that makes me doubt myself. [Zuko looks away from Iroh's painting.] Leading an army into Yu Dao is exactly what my father would do if he returned to the throne. [Zuko looks up at the ceiling.] From the outside, It looks as if I'm acting just like him. Does it matter if my reasons are different? [Zuko looks at Iroh's painting.] You wanted a quieter life after the war and that's the one thing I can give you, to begin repaying you for all you've done for me. I can't disturb you. I won't. Even so, I wish you were here, Uncle. I miss you.
Fire Nation soldier [Entering the room holding Zuko's helmet.] Fire Lord Zuko! We've landed on the shores of the Earth Kingdom!
Aang meditates on a rooftop, and Katara uses an ice staircase to get up the roof while Momo flies up.
Katara Any sign of General How yet? Or Smellerbee?
Aang No
Katara You okay?
Aang [Sighs.] My head hurts. I think I figured out why the four nations have to be separate for harmony. Whenever two nations come together, the stronger one can't help but hurt the weaker one. They'll conquer or burn or, at the very last, make a joke of the weaker nation.
Katara You once told me that separation is an illusion. Guru Pathik taught you that. The four nations are really one and the same.
Aang But I don't want them to be the same, Katara! I love being an Air Nomad! I love our philosophy, our temples, our holidays, our food-- Everything that makes us different from the rest of the world! And now that I'm the last one left, it's up to me to preserve our way of life!
Katara How, Aang? Are you going to live by yourself, like some kind of hermit? Devote your whole life into collecting and preserving a bunch of relics?
Aang [Puts his head down.] I don't know ... But I do know this: Air Nomad culture can't survive in a world where the nations invade each other, corrupt each other. I have to see the Harmony Restoration Movement through to the end.
Katara Even if it means fulfilling your promise to Zuko?
Aang Yes.
Katara But you'd be acting against Air Nomad philosophy! Isn't that what you're trying to preserve?
Aang Aargh! It's a contradiction, I know! That's why my head hurts.
Scene shifts to a frontal shot of the Beifong Metalbending Academy; to the right of the door, on a low pedestal, sits the metal suit, shaped in the image of a flying boar, which Sokka and Toph created in the course of their attempt at metalbending training. Shot zooms in on Sokka, who sits on the steps of the building, with Toph standing a short distance behind him.

Gene - You'll often find statues of lions or kylin (celestial creatures from Chinese legend) in front of Chinese buildings. These statues supposedly provide mystic protection to the buildings' occupants. Here, Toph has set up her giant metal flying boar suit from the last chapter as a kylin of sorts.

Toph What're you doing out here, Sokka?! Let me guess. You finally realized "motivational bending" is not a thing.
Sokka Katara and Aang should've picked me up by now. They're probably so caught up in their own oogieness they forgot all about me. [Imitating Aang.] "Smoochie, smoochie! Oh, how I love you, Katara! My sweet, sweet sweetie!" [Imitating Katara.] "Not as much as I love you, Aang! Smoochie, smoochie! I love my sweet, sweet sweetie so much I forgot all about my own brother!"
Toph Ah, quit your kissy-kissy bellyaching, Sokka! Appa's here!
Sokka No, not Appa! Someone way prettier and a lot less hairy! [Sokka and Suki proceed to kiss each other.]
Toph [Sticks her tongue out.] Um. Can I say "oogie"?
Suki Good to see you, Toph!
Toph Hey, Suki!
Sokka How'd you know we were here?!
Suki A group of us are serving as Zuko's palace guards. We just received an official complaint from a firebending instructor about a "dirt girl" and a "snow savage" taking over his school.
Sokka and Toph Kunyo.
Sokka You're leaving already?!
Suki So are you! Come on, I need you both!
Ho Tun Sifu Toph?! N-Not again!
Toph [Climbs up Suki's hot air balloon.] Get to practice, Lily Livers! I'll be back soon!
Penga I wanna go with you! I'm ready! Watch, I can make this helmet spin round and round!
Toph I'm supposed to be impressed by a spinny helmet trick?! Until you can do some real metalbending, you're not ready for anything! Now go do your forms!
The Dark One Oh, cruel abandonment! My bones turn to dust beneath the gaze of your ever-mocking smile!
Ho Tun Hey, The Dark One, I think you're, uh, taking the soul of a poet thing too seriously. No offense.
Penga I liked you better when you hated people.
Suki I'm sorry to take you away from your students, Toph.
Toph Not a problem, believe me.
Sokka We both needed a break from The Dark One's newfound "talent".
Toph If I have to hear about "the cloudy teardrops of his heart" one more time--!
Sokka So what's this about, Suki?
Suki See for yourself.
Sokka Oh, no.
Toph What? What?
Sokka Zuko!
Scene shifts back to Aang and Katara sitting on the rooftop.
Katara I've been wanting to talk to you ever since we left for Ba Sing Se, Aang, but I didn't know how to bring it up ... I've ... um ... changed my mind about the Harmony Restoration Movement.
Aang I know. I could tell. Why?
Katara Remember when we first came here and Zuko showed us around? I saw Kori and her family standing in the street, staring at us like we held their whole lives in our hands.
Katara But I didn't just see them. I also saw--
Aang We're gonna have to talk about this later!
Longshot and Smellerbee are leading a group of rebels holding a battering ram running toward Yu Dao.
Angry mob Fire Nation out! Harmony now! Fire Nation out! Harmony now!
Smellerbee It's been three day, Avatar Aang. Did all that talking get you anywhere? Is the Fire Nation out of Yu Dao?
Aang Please, Smellerbee ... Just a little bit longer.
Smellerbee and Longshot look at each other.
Smellerbee People of the Earth Kingdom, attack!
The earthbenders get ready to throw the battering ram at Yu Dao's gate.
Aang No!
Angry man [Charging toward the gates.] Go, go, go!
Katara uses waterbending to disarm the earth citizens while the earthbenders prepare to launch another attack on Yu Dao's gate.
Aang You're not getting to those gates again! [Uses his head to destroy the battering ram.] Sifu Toph would've been proud!
Katara Hurry, Aang! The big pieces are gonna crush people!
Aang uses airbending to throw the rocks away from the people, and Katara protects them from the remaining rocks with a ice barrier. Just as a big stone is about to hit Smellerbee, Aang saves her.
Smellerbee Thanks, Aang. Now I almost feel bad for distracting you like that.
Aang Distracting me?
Smellerbee You really think we're dumb enough to use a stone battering ram when we knew the Avatar would be here? We wanted to keep you from noticing that!
Smellerbee points down the wall, and Aang looks in that direction to see that a mechanized drill on treads has rolled up to the wall and begun to bore its way through.

Gurihiru - We first drew a handheld drill in panel 4, but this would be too small to seriously threaten the wall, so we turned it into a vehicle drill instead.

Gene - Here, the Earth Kingdom citizens have created a smaller version of the Fire Nation drill from the episode "The Drill".

The scene rejoins Suki, Toph, and Sokka, who have landed their airship away from the Fire Nation Army. As the group, from a position above the troops, crouches out of sight of the army below, Suki finishes telling Sokka and Toph the reason for Zuko's actions.
Suki ... So when he found out the Earth King had sent his arm to remove the colonials from Yu Dao, Zuko decided to lead his own army there to defend them!
Sokka An Earth Kingdom Army fighting a Fire Nation Army? Sounds like the beginning of an all-out war!
Suki That's why I went to get you guys! We have to stop Zuko's army before they reach the city gates!
Sokka You think the three of us can stop an entire army?
Suki Hey, we've stopped an entire air fleet before, haven't we?
Sokka Good point.
Toph So what's the plan, Sokka?
Sokka Ah, the burden of being the idea guy. All right. Step one: Toph, can you get us into one of those tanks undetected?
Toph Not a problem. [Makes a hole on the ground.]
Sokka What is that?
Toph [Jumps inside the hole.] An underground slide that will take us directly under Zuko's army! Come on!
Sokka [Sliding down on his butt.] AAAH! You've really been into slides lately.
Toph I enjoy hearing your girlish scream.
Sokka That was Suki.
Suki Hey! It's so dark down here. I can hardly see anything!
Sokka Shhh! Toph's really touchy about that!

Gene - One of my favorite Tophisms is from "The Drill":

Sokka: It's so dark down here! I can't see a thing!
Toph: Oh no, what a nightmare!
Toph Quiet, both of you!
Toph grabs the lower part of one of the tanks and starts ripping it with metalbending.
Fire Nation soldier What'd I say about staying away from bean sprouts when we hafta be in the tank together?!
Toph punches a hole in the bottom of the tank directly beneath one of the soldiers, sending him flying upward, to the shock of his companion. While the sounds of Toph's scuffle with the soldiers emanate from the tank, Sokka and Suki run toward it from behind, trying to catch up to it. Toph pokes her head up through the entry port on the tank's roof, calling to them.

Gurihiru - Drawing the Fire Nation soldiers getting walloped here was one of our favorite scenes to work on.

Toph Hurry!
Clambering onto the tank, the two lower themselves into the tank's interior. Toph, smiling broadly, talks to Sokka while Suki, trying to avoid the two unconscious soldiers, enters the tank behind him.
Toph Step one complete! What's step two?
Sokka Not sure. I was sorta hoping step two would come to me while we were working on step one.
Toph [Yelling, obviously disappointed.] Are you kidding me?!
Sokka [Yelling back.] Oh, I see. Let's all blame the idea guy!
Suki Well, while you guys figure that out, I'm gonna try to get us to Zuko. If we could just talk to him ...

Gurihiru - Since we did not have reference images for the inside of the tank, it was not easy to figure out how to draw it.

Toph What, you think some polite conversation can convince him not to turn evil?!
Suki [Looking at Zuko through one of the tank's windows.] I don't know. He just seems so ... so lonely.
Toph "Lonely" isn't the way I'd put it. More like "screwy in the head."
Sokka OOOO OOOO OOOO! That's it! That's step two! "Screwy"! Toph, how close do you have to be to metalbend something small, like maybe a screw or a bolt?
Toph If you're close enough to see it, I'm close enough to bend it!
Sokka Great! Suki, pull us up alongside as many tanks as you can, one by one ...
Smellerbee and Longshot enter Yu Dao through the opening made by the drill as Aang tries to stop them.
Aang Guys, stop! You don't want to do this!
Sneers Hey, Smellerbee. Hey, Longshot.
Smellerbee Sneers?! You've been in Yu Dao this whole time?! Longshot and I looked all over for you!
Sneers Smellerbee and Longshot, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend Kori. Kori, this is Smellerbee and Longshot.
Aang Well, what d'ya know? Looks like we're all friends here!
Kori Sneers told me all about you, Smellerbee!
Smellerbee I'm sorry I can't say the same!
Aang You know what friends do? Talk! You know what friends don't do? Beat each other up!
Kori You can't force us from Yu Dao!
Smellerbee [Turns to Sneers.] You're dating an ash maker?! How could you?!
Longshot touches Smellerbee's shoulder and looks her in the eyes talking without words.
Smellerbee You do have a point, Longshot. I mean, look at her ... and look at him. [Longshot gives a thumbs up to Sneers.]
Sneers [Annoyed.] What's that supposed to mean?! Listen, Smellerbee. Maybe we've been thinking about this all wrong. What if Yu Dao is neither Fire Nation nor Earth Kingdom?
Kori What if it is a part of both?
Katara This is what I've been trying to tell you, Aang. Maybe we can make things better here without kicking all the Fire Nation people out ...
Rebel [Throwing a rock at Kori.] Bah! What are we waiting for?! Let's finish what we came to do!
Katara saves Kori from being hit by the rock, by cutting it in half with her waterbending.
Kori [Yu Dao's citizens prepare for battle.] Defend yourselves, Yu Dao Resistance! Defend our home!
Aang Aw, come on! How come nobody ever wants to just talk?!
Smellerbee [Leading the rebels.] Attack!
Aang [Uses airbending to take them out of Yu Dao.] Don't you get it, Smellerbee?! I agree with you! I want the Fire Nation colonials to leave, too! I just want them to leave peacefully!
Smellerbee [Looking surprised to the side while getting up.] I don't think that's an option anymore, Aang. Looks like the Earth King's finally stepped up to his responsibilities.
Aang [Worried after seeing the army approaching.] Monkey feathers!

Gene - "Monkey feathers!" is such an awesome way to curse. It perfectly fits both Aang's personality and the world of Avatar.

The Avatar Aang Fan Club members are all at the gate ready to fight, their foreheads covered with bandanas.
Xing Ying Avatar Aang!
Aang [Slapping his forehead.] Double monkey feathers!
Xing Ying [Bowing to Aang.] Please forgive us our unintentional disrespect! We've since covered our tattoos in deference to true airbenders! Now we, The Yu Dao Chapter of Avatar Aang Fan Club, place ourselves at you service!
Aang How about you just go home? I've already got all these protestors to deal with, not to mention the giant army that just showed up!
Xing Ying But that's why we're at your service!
General How [Gets down from his ostrich horse.] Attention, attention! By official decree of Earth King Kuei, the Earth Kingdom reclaims the former Fire Nation colony of Yu Dao!
Katara Earth King Kuei! Why don't you come down here and announce your own decrees?!
Earth King Kuei [Talking from his hot air balloon.] General How's doing just fine on his own, thank you!
How Fire Nation colonials who remain in the city are hereby declared criminals, and shall be arrested on sight! The Harmony Restoration movement shall be completed on this day, with or without colonial cooperation!
Smellerbee Yeah!
Rebels Fire Nation out! Harmony now!
Sneers [Running toward Aang with Kori.] This is it, Aang! You choose to either defend Yu Dao with us ... or doom us.
Kori [Pointing her fingers at something.] Not necessarily, Sneers! Look!
Aang [Looking where Kori was pointing.] Monkey feathers on top of monkey feathers!
The shot switches to a bird's-eye view of the field, with the wall of the city of Yu Dao in the foreground and hills in the background. On the left stands the army of the Fire Nation Army; its tanks and komodo rhino-mounted forces are closest to the gates, protectively surrounding its foot-soldiers, who carry banners and spears. On the right stands the Earth Kingdom army, arranged more neatly than the other force: How stands closest to the gate, accompanied by his escort, and behind him stand orderly rows of barefoot, banner-carrying earthbenders, followed by ostrich horse mounts and more foot-soldiers. The whole group of soldiers is flanked on both sides by tanks, while above the army, Kuei surveys the scene from his airship in the clouds. Between the two forces stands Avatar Aang, along with Katara, the Yu Dao Resistance, Smellerbee and few of her fellow protestors, and the Avatar Aang Fan club, which has thrown itself, brandishing its staffs threateningly, between Aang and the Fire Nation army.

Gurihiru - We worked on these pages last. We drew them using a Japanese storybook as an example.

Gene - While researching another project, I came across these Japanese battle prints from the 1800s. They were beautiful and intricate. They played loose with the rules of perspective, but they gave the viewer a feeling for the battlefield. All these little conflicts added up to a massive one. I asked Gurihiru to make this spread look like an Avatar version of one of those prints. What they came up with is simply amazing.

Xing Ying Stay back, Avatar Aang! We'll protect you!
Aang You guys aren't protecting anything -- You're just putting yourselves in danger! You've got to go! [Uses airbending to push them out of the way.]
Katara [Sees Sokka getting out of the tank.] Sokka?! Toph?!
Toph Suki, too. She's driving!
Sokka Aang, Katara, weren't you guys supposed to pick me up?!
Aang Sorry, Sokka. We've been kind of busy!
Katara So you decide to hitch a ride with the Fire Nation Army instead?!
Toph For your information, Katara, we weren't "hitching a ride," we were trying to slow them down! And what about you two? Since when did defending Fire Nation colonials become a part of the Harmony Restoration Movement?!
Fire Nation soldier Fire Lord?! What -- What's going on?
Zuko I'm not sure ...!
How Listen to me, Avatar! Harmony can be restored right now! My army will treat the colonials we arrest more justly than the Fire Nation treated us. You have my word! However, we cannot accomplish anything if the Fire Lord's army stands against us. We have a saying among the Council of Five: [Looks at Zuko.] "An army with no leader is a dragon with no head." You alone have the power to end this quickly.
Zuko and Aang stare intensely at each other.
Aang General How, there has to be another way!
How You know well the cost of war. I ask you to exchange one life for many.
Katara [Talking to Toph.] Well, if you guys were so busy slowing the Fire Nation down, how is it that they still ended up here?!
Toph Keep your eyes on me, sugar queen. Keep your eyes on me.
Sokka She's following my plan, in case you're wondering!
Toph jumps to the ground, making an earthquake that moves toward the tanks, causing their screws to fall, thus dismantling them.

Gurihiru - The scenes where we had to draw lots of tanks were difficult, but drawing Toph breaking them all made us feel better.

Gene - Like Imperial Japan's army, the Fire Nation army relies heavily on Western-style technology. Unfortunately, it leaves them vulnerable to metalbenders.

Sokka Ha Ha! Look at that! Idea guy's still got the touch!
How The dragon may still have its head, but perhaps it's now lost its legs ...
How Quickly, Earth Kingdom troops, while the Fire Nation is in disarray! By royal decree, enter Yu Dao and arrest the colonials!
Fire Nation soldier Fire Lord, our tanks--!
Zuko You're not all in tanks, are you? Soldiers of the Fire Nation, defend our people in the city of Yu Dao! Your Fire Lord commands you!
The Fire Nation Army advances toward the Earth Kingdom Army.
Aang No!!! [Jumps over the Fire Nation Army and lands in front of Zuko, entering the Avatar State.] The Harmony Restoration Movement was such a simple plan! Why couldn't you just follow it through?
Katara [Takes Aang from there, using an ice bridge to carry him over and away from the battlefield.] Snap out of it, Aang! Don't you remember what we talked about? You have to be calm, to make sure your decision is right!
Aang But all these people, they're gonna kill each other!
Katara Let me worry about them! [Katara and Aang land on the wall of Yu Dao, and she turns to look at him, her eyes filled with emotion.] Aang, I never explained to you ... On our first visit to Yu Dao when I saw Kori's family -- [Kori and her family appear in the background.] -- I also saw our future.
The scene cuts to Katara's vision, in which she and Aang are adults, smiling as they stand next to each other with Katara cradling a baby. The scene cuts back to the two in the present, Katara becoming more and more emotional.

Gurihiru - We thought about giving grownup Aang a beard, but this is Katara's imagination, so she would not know exactly what they would look like in the future.

Katara If the nations have to be separate, what will that mean for us? I ... I know it's selfish of me to think like this. There's so much more at stake than just us.
Aang Katara ...
Katara Go find a quiet place, Aang, and figure this out. Then, whatever decision you make ... I'll trust that it's the right one. I'll support you. Even if it means you have to fulfill your promise. And even if it means we have to be apart.
The two kiss, and the background fades into blank white for a moment. When they separate, Aang immediately opens his glider and launches into the sky, as Toph earthbends herself, Sokka, and Suki to the top of the wall.

Gene - In the script, I wrote to Gurihiru about this first panel, "This is an important one. It has to be sweet and heartfelt and sad." They nailed it.

Katara Go!
Aang finds a place in a mountain and, after looking back one more time, sits in a lotus position with his prayer beads and form a rock barrier around himself to start meditating. After a little bit, Roku's spirit appears.
Aang I had a dream about you last night.
Roku Fulfill your promise and restore the world to harmony.
Aang That's what you said in my dream. Roku ... Lately, I've realized how much I love being an Air Nomad. And I'm the last one! If I turn my back on my people's philosophy, won't it just disappear? And besides, my people's philosophy isn't all I love ...
Roku The Avatar must hold the world above his own nation, his own friends ... even his family. I cannot put into words how much it pains me to advocate for the end of my own great-grandson.
Aang [Surprised.] What are you saying?
Roku Ursa, Zuko's mother, is my granddaughter.
Aang Then Zuko--! Roku, how could you possibly--?!
Roku Because you are the Avatar! TO succeed where I failed, you must hold the world above all else! Empty yourself, Aang, and contemplate the world. Then you will understand. Contemplate the world.
Meanwhile, Katara is filling Sokka in on what has happened.
Sokka Let me see if I got this. The protestors and the Earth Kingdom Army want the colonials to go, the Fire Nation colonials want the colonials to stay, and the Yu Dao Resistance just wants to be left alone?
Katara Yes!
Sokka So where's Aang flying off to, then?
Katara He needs a place to be calm, to figure things out.
Toph What is there to figure out?! If he wants harmony --
Katara Look, I trust him! And after all we've been through, you ought to, too! So for now, we need to keep all those people down there from killing each other ... Kind of like what Aang's fan club is trying to do.
Avatar Aang fangirl #1 Make peace, combatants!
Avatar Aang fangirl #2 Let your grievances depart from you --
Avatar Aang fangirl #3
Sokka Pretty impressive for a bunch of non-bending bald girls!
Katara We need to split up! Toph and Suki, you disarm as may Fire Nation troops as you can. I'll work on the Earth Kingdom soldiers.
Sokka And I'll take care of the protesters! But how am I supposed to get down there?
Toph [Creates an earth slide.] Here you go, Sokka!
Sokka [Rubs head.] Aw, not another one!
At the end of the slide, Smellerbee is fighting Sneers.
Smellerbee [While hitting him with a sword.] You didn't just betray us, Sneers! You betrayed your nation!
Sneers [Blocking Smellerbee's attack with two axes.] Smellerbee, if you'd actually listen to me for two seconds, you'd --
Sokka comes down the slide knocking both of them out of the way.
Sokka Aaah! Watch out!
Sneers, Smellerbee !
Sokka [Gets into lotus position.] Halt, combatants! Let your leaves depart from you, like a breaking wind!
Smellerbee Uh, what?
Sokka I don't know. I got it from a bunch of nonbending bald girls. So what's going on here? I thought you guys were friends!
Smellerbee We were, until Sneers decided to date an ash maker!
Sokka [Turns to face Kori quickly in surprise.] Whoa. You're his girlfriend?
Kori Yes.
Sokka [Faces Kori and Sneers repeatedly.] Hold on, hold on. You are going out with you?!
Sneers [Not amused.] Why does everyone keep saying that?!
Sokka [Hugs him, winks at him, and gives him a thumbs-up.] Didn't know you had it in you, big guy!
Meanwhile, Toph and Suki are fighting Fire Nation soldiers. Suki defends herself with her shield while Toph complains.
Toph [Traps a soldier with her metalbending.] Geez! Has Zuko actually added troops to the army since the war ended?!
Suki [While knocking a soldier backward.] You all right?
Toph [Panting, sweating, and with her hands on her knees.] Gimme a second to catch my breath.
Suki I don't think we've got a second!
Rushing toward them, a lot more guards are expecting them, but suddenly their helmets start moving.
Fire Nation soldiers ?!
Looking up, Toph's students are visible.
Toph Lily Livers?! What're you doing here?!
The students are attacking the guards with small metal coins.
The Dark One Though cast away am I from the hearth of my city, black tears dribble from mine eyes at the sight of the fearful trail blazing towards her gates!

Gene - By the end of the second chapter, The Dark One had begun overlapping too much with Mai. They were both glum, they both dressed in dark colors, they both hated everything. In this chapter, he moves into a space entirely his own, yet stays true to his goth nature: bad poetry. (Er, no offense, goths!)

Suki [Confused.] ?
Toph [Not amused.] ...
Ho Tun What The Dark One is trying to say, Sifu Toph, is that Yu Dao is our home! We want to help you keep the doom out!
Penga I wanted to show you my spinny helmet trick up close!
Toph I gotta say, Penga, it's way more impressive up close! [Sees guards getting up.] Look alive, Lily Livers! Time to spin some more helmets!
Meanwhile, Katara is fighting some Earth Kingdom soldiers out herself.
Earth Kingdom soldiers !
Once she knocks the guards out, she sees a blimp and uses ice to get to it. She is surprised to find Earth King Kuei hugging his legs on the floor; frightened.
Katara Earth King Kuei ...?
Kuei I wanted to prove to my troops that I'm finally man enough to lead them onto the battlefield! Or at least, co-lead them with General How. But now ... Oooh!' I wish Bosco were here! Who knew Yu Dao would be like this?!

Gurihiru - The servants who were with Earth King Kuei have disappeared ... maybe they got off somewhere?

Katara [Kneels next to him.] You've never visited Yu Dao?
Kuei Up until a year ago, I'd never even visited my city's outer ring.
Katara Then to you, Yu Dao has always just been a Fire Nation marker on an Earth Kingdom map.
Kuei ...
Katara Let's get of this balloon, your majesty. You ought to meet the people who have to live with your decisions. [Stretches hand.]
Kuei B-b-but it's not safe down there!
Katara No. It's not.
Katara and Earth King Kuei go down on an ice slide.
The Earth Kingdom Army has arrived where Sokka, Sneers, Kori, Longshot, and Smellerbee were at.
How Surrender, rebels! This city is once again under the Earth King's protection! Surrender peacefully, and you shall be treated with mercy!
Kori Never! [Throws her earth ball and chain at How.]
How [Destroys ball and chain.] Soldiers, arrest them!
Zuko enters the scene, firebending at the Earth Kingdom soldiers from the side.
Earth Kingdom soldiers !
Zuko General How! Withdraw your troops immediately!
How With all due respect, Fire Lord Zuko, you stand on Earth Kingdom soil! Here, your words have no authority!
As a duel between them begins, Aang enters the Avatar State, thus breaking the earth on top of him he had elevated and, from his position, a beam of light that reaches the sky can be seen; for a moment, everything in Yu Dao freezes. Aang creates a sphere of all the elements around him as he heads over to Zuko.
Zuko Aang, I know how this looks! But I swear to you, in my heart ... ! [Takes helmet off and sighs.] None of that matters, does it? I'm doing exactly what my father would have done.
Aang [In the Avatar State.] Hhhhh ...
Aang earthbends a crack open and allows Zuko to fall through it, head first.
How [Reaches out.] Fire Lord!
As Zuko falls, Aang starts flying toward him.
Zuko Aang! I don't --
Aang is able to grab Zuko's arm and shoots upward with a surprised Zuko. A giant gap Aang had earthbent around the border of the city is shown as Aang takes Zuko to the center of the city were the rebels are at. Katara sees this and takes Earth King Kuei with her on an ice slide toward Aang and the Fire Lord, much to the Earth King's surprise.
Katara Let's go.
Aang sets a frightened Zuko down while Katara helps the Earth King get off the slide. The rebels all place themselves behind Aang. He and Katara embrace briefly and hold each others' hands.
Aang Earth King Kuei, look at who you're fighting! Fire Nation, yes -- But also Earth Kingdom -- Water Tribe -- And now, Air Nomad. This is who stands against your army.
Sneers And against the Fire Nation Army, too!
Aang It took me a while, but I finally understand. You're not just fighting a colony. You're fighting a whole new kind of world.
Earth King Kuei seems to understand the realization and looks lost in thought. Across the gap, Aang had created, the Earth Kingdom defenders yell at Earth King Kuei to not listen
Smellerbee Don't listen to that ash-maker propaganda, Earth King Kuei! Harmony now!
Earth Kingdom crowd Harmony now! Fire Nation out! Harmony --!
Kuei Quiet! Quiet! [Holds hand out signaling to stop.] I need to see what I ... what I ... I just need to see.
Aang turns around to see Zuko not looking well at all.
Aang Zuko ... ?
Zuko ... So I was right, then ... ? ... All along ... my decision ... was right? [Collapses.]
Aang [Runs over to Zuko.] Zuko!
The scene shifts to night and as a crescent moon is shown illuminating the sky of Ba Sing Se, Aang meditates atop the Jasmine Dragon rooftop with his necklace. He successfully establishes a connection with Roku.
Aang I'm not like you, Roku.
Roku Aang, you are me.
Aang Yes, but ... to ask me to end your own great-grandson ...!
Roku For the sake of the world!
Aang When you told me to contemplate the world, what did you expect me to picture in my mind? A map? Some floaty cosmic energy? You know what I actually did see? Katara. Sokka and Toph. I saw the Kyoshi Warriors, the White Lotus Society, the monks who raised me. And I saw Zuko. I don't know how to "contemplate the world" without first thinking of the people I care about. Including Zuko.
Roku By refusing to take decisive action, you continue to put the world at risk!
Aang It's a new kind of world. There's no getting around risk.
Roku Aang --
Aang Avatar Roku, you've taught me so much. I couldn't have become the Avatar I am today without your wisdom. But everything's so different now. It's not like when you were alive ... I have to figure this out on my own. Goodbye.
Roku [Reaches out.] Aang!
Aang rips the Fire Nation bead from the necklace and burns it with a tear falling from his eye.
Iroh Aang! Guess who just woke up?
Aang About time! How's he doing, Iroh?
Iroh Why don't you come and see for yourself?
Aang leaves the rooftop and enters the teashop were he sees Zuko sitting down.
Iroh Thank you for bringing him to me, Avatar. He really should have come earlier, on his own. Sometimes he forgets that he always has a place here. He may be Fire Lord now, but he is still a stubborn boy.
Zuko I feel like I've been asleep for a week.
Aang No. Just four days. [Sits in front of him.]
Zuko Hm.
Aang The Earth King's agreed to talk. When you're ready, we'll meet him in Yu Dao. A small group of the city's residents are gonna join us, too. Whatever happens, though, Yu Dao can't stay a Fire Nation colony.
Zuko It can't go back to being an Earth Kingdom city, either.

Gurihiru - We tried to give Zuko a softer and slightly younger expression here, to show his relief.

Aang I know. It has to be something new.
Zuko But what?
Aang That's why we need to meet.
Zuko On the way to Yu Dao, I had a dream. You and I faced off against each other on a mountaintop. Wind and rain and lightning raged all around us. Behind me was Ozai, and behind you --
Aang
Zuko In yours, did you ... end me?
Aang Yes.
Zuko You know what I felt, just as you did that ... right before I woke up?
Aang Zuko, I --
Zuko Relief. I was wrong to ask you for that promise, Aang. I've struggled for so long to do what's right -- to even know what's right. Then when the war ended, I thought the struggle had finally ended, too. I thought I'd won for good. A visit to Ozai in prison changed that. I realized the struggle was actually just the beginning. I didn't think I could handle it, so I asked for your help. But asking you to end me if I went bad -- that was like asking you to figure out right and wrong for me. I didn't just want you as my safety net. I wanted you as my escape hatch. I can't put that on you. I understand now. The struggle isn't something a Fire Lord can escape. I'm sorry, Aang.
Aang [Smiling.] You don't give yourself enough credit, Zuko. Deep down, you've always known what's right. I mean, you were right about Yu Dao.
Zuko [Returns the smile.] Yeah. I guess I was.
Aang ... So when you feel into that chasm I created ... did you feel ... relief ... then, too?
Zuko No. As soon as my foot slipped, I knew somehow that you wouldn't let me die.
Aang Because I'm a flawed Avatar.
Zuko Don't get me wrong! I'm grateful that you --
Aang Roku told me you're his great-grandson.
Zuko That's true.
Aang Since Roku's my past life, in a way you're my family, Zuko. And no matter how hard I've tried, I've never been able to detach myself from those sorts of bonds. It's a flaw, I know, but it's one I've decided to accept. For this life, at least.
Zuko You're not the one who's flawed, Aang. [Sighs.] Why can't the struggle get easier for me? Even just a little? Sometimes I wonder how long I'll last. You know, in that dream, a woman stood with us on that mountaintop, watching from the shadows. I think she was my mother.
Iroh [Enters the scene.] Sometimes, dreams are the way a person's spirit reveals the answer to his own problems. But then again, sometimes they are just the result of eating spicy food before going to bed.
Zuko Maybe finding my mother would connect me to a part of my heritage that isn't so murky and confusing.
Aang You mean Roku's bloodline? I don't know ...
Zuko Maybe then, I'd finally find peace. I never told either of you this, but right after I became the Fire Lord, I sent out search party after search party looking for her. I even hired June and her shirshu. They all came back empty handed. What can I do now that I haven't already tried?
Aang It's a new world, Zuko. You need to take some new risks. We all do.
Iroh [Startles them both, motivated.] Speaking of risks, why don't you two try this brand-new beverage I invented? First, I cook balls of tapioca until they're soft and tender. Then I put them in tea, where they sit like little pearl-sized snacks at the bottom of each cup! Add a little milk and -- ta da! -- A revolution in tea is born!
The two boys drink up, but Zuko soon spits it out and Aang's eyes grow big.
Zuko Ptah! What is that trying to sneak into my mouth?!
Aang I've never had a tea that's quite so ... chewy.
Iroh [Leaves the scene, now demotivated and head low.] I am a man ahead of my time.

Gene - Uncle Iroh has always blended tradition with forward thinking. If anyone in the world of Avatar were to invent pearl milk tea, it would be him.

The scene shifts and now Aang is giving a speech to his fanclub while Katara sits under the shade of a tree with Momo, smiling.
Aang I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about this. I love my people's culture and I don't want to see it corrupted. At the same time, it can't just belong to history. Air Nomad culture has to belong to the future, too. According to my friends, many of you lead the way to peace on the battlefield, putting your lives at risk for the sake of others. I'm deeply impressed. You already have the hearts of Air Nomads, so I've decided to teach you the ways of the Air Nomads. But you just can't be a fan club anymore. From now on, you'll be known as the Air Acolytes!
The scene shifts and Zuko is sitting on a chair in a mental institution as Azula is brought into the room on a wheelchair, with two institution employees standing behind Zuko.
Zuko I know this is risky, but I'm going to tell you the truth. I feel disconnected from the good in my own family ... and in my own nation. For a whole host of reasons, I believe finding my mother would help me reconnect. I've had conversation over conversation with Ozai and it's gone nowhere. He refuses to reveal what happened to her. So I've come to an uncomfortable conclusion. You are the only person in the world who can coax the information I need out of Ozai. Tell me, then ... what do you want in return for helping me find mother?
Azula Don't be silly, Zu-Zu! The satisfaction of serving the Fire Lord in some way will be compensation enough! Besides, not a day has gone by since you put me in here that I haven't wondered --
Azula looks in a mirror at her left and sees her mother.
Ursa I love you, Azula. I always have and I always will.
Azula -- What exactly happened to our dear mother?

Gurihiru - We drew Azula much differently than how she looked in the show.

Gene - Azula is such a wonderful villain. After "The Beach" gave her an inner complexity, she became even more compelling. Her time in a Fire Nation mental institution has really done a number on her. We'll get into all that in The Search.

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