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Transcript:The Rift Part 2

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Real-world


The scene opens on the same moment on which the previous chapter ended: The gang stands in the warehouse of the Earthen Fire Refinery, with Loban, Satoru, and Mongke standing by. Aang, his mouth agape and a dumbstruck expression on his face, stands on Toph's left; she stands in front of a tall man in olive green robes, who is looking down into her face as she speaks.
Toph Beifong Father.
Lao Beifong stands blankly, his eyes wide in recognition, his mouth slightly parted. He gathers himself, however, as Satoru speaks behind him.
Satoru Boss man Lao? You told me that you didn't have a family.
Lao's eyes, if possible, widen even more, but, again, he gathers himself, his expression becoming suddenly stern and cold.
Lao Beifong That's correct. This girl is not my daughter.
The outcry from Aang, Katara, and Sokka as Lao turns and walks away is immediate and outraged. Toph, meanwhile, stands rooted to the spot, speechless, as if Lao's words have cut her to the heart.
Aang What?
Katara Mr. Beifong, how could you say such a thing?!
Sokka [Waving a fist.] Liar!
Satoru walks up to Toph; he seems baffled.
Satoru Wait. So he really is your dad?
Loban Satoru! Mind your own business! Haven't you screwed up enough for one day?! Get everybody back to work!
As Satoru hangs his head, Sokka interjects.
Sokka That "everybody" you just referred to? They fled the building. We just had an earthquake, remember? Everybody's scared.
Satoru [Timidly.] Plus, the production line is ... well ... I'm gonna need some time to get it up and running again. A lot of time.
Loban Both production lines out of commission?!
Satoru I--I'm not sure. The benders' line might still be okay.
Loban Then you tell those cowards outside that if they want their jobs, they will get back to work! I can replace every single one of them within the hour! We've got deadlines to meet!
Satoru [Rushing away.] Yes, Uncle.
Cut back to Lao, as Toph stands behind him.
Toph Father ...
Lao [To Mongke and the other Rough Rhinos.] Guards, escort this confused young lady and her friends out of here. And make sure they don't come back.

Gurihiru - The Rough Rhinos arrive, along with even more characters from here on out. It was really tough to do layouts that included all the people in the story.

Toph [Shocked.] Father!
Mongke [Standing facing an upset Aang, as the Air Acolytes stand behind the airbender, astonished.] You heard the man. So you wanna do this the easy way or the hard way?
Yee-Li [Turning her head toward Aang.] Avatar Aang, aren't we leaving?
Xing Ying The man in charge said we have to leave and not come back!
Aang [Firmly, preparing to defend himself.] No. We're not leaving until I talk to somebody about the location of this refinery!
Toph [Also ready to fight.] We're not leaving until I talk to my dad!
Cut to the Air Acolytes.
Yee-Li [Whispering to Xing Ying.] I didn't realize being an Air Acolyte meant I had to break so many rules!
Xing Ying [Also uncertain, whispering back.] I know. It's kind of crazy!
Jingbo [His eyes are widened in exhilaration.] Crazy exciting!
Cut to the Rough Rhinos. As the other men stand behind him, brandishing their various weapons, Mongke's hands blaze with flame.
Rough Rhino #1 You fellas need some backup?
Ogodei The more the merrier.
Mongke All right, then. The hard way it is.

Gene Luen Yang - The Rough Rhinos are like the Avatar version of a biker gang. We figured that after the Fire Nation's defeat, some Fire Nation citizens -- especially those in Ozai's armies -- would feel lost. A few might even look to a biker gang for a place to belong. That's why the Rough Rhinos have a few new members, beautifully designed by Gurihiru.

Aang We need to get them out of the building, away from the workers!
Sokka [Standing behind Aang and Toph, with Katara; he looks very apprehensive, even with his club drawn.] That's a whole lotta big, burly men. You guys sure we wanna do this?
Mongke [As he blasts a jet of fire at Toph and Aang.] Raaargh!
Aang [As he and Toph duck under the flames.] Toph, can you create a slide beneath their feet?
Toph You got it.
Toph bends the earth beneath Mongke's feet to angle up; his feet slide out from under him as Aang rises into the air.
Mongke Wha--?!
As Toph elevates the raised end of the ramp, a huge blast of air from Aang sends all the Rough Rhinos sliding backward in a heap. The gang charges on the Rough Rhinos as Sokka yells.
Sokka So, uh ... I guess that's a "yes" to the big-burly-men question?
Aang [Yelling over his shoulder.] Air Acolytes, this is gonna get messy! Find someplace safe and wait for me there!
Xing Ying But we wanna help!
Jingbo We wanna break some more rules!
Aang [Waving them off.] No, guys! Just go!
Aang's head is turned toward the Acolytes as a Rough Rhino with dragon-like tattoos snaking up his arms bears down on him, wielding a staff; at the last second, Aang jumps, flipping over the yelling fighter in midair.
Utor Yaah!
As Aang lands, he whips his head around to see the man about to attack him. He strikes up a conversation as the man tries to land a blow.
Aang I don't think we've met before. You new to the Rough Rhinos?
Utor I had no choice but to join them! I used to make a good living serving in Fire Lord Ozai's army--but then you had to ruin everything!
He brings the staff down with crashing force, shattering the earth beneath Aang as he jumps into the air again. As the soldier raises his staff again, the broken ground jumps onto his hands, binding them.
Utor What the--?!
Aang [Shown earthbending.] So what's your name?
Utor [Subdued.] Utor.
Aang Nice to meet you, Utor! A little advice? Find some other group to join. The Rough Rhinos are bad news.
Turning around, Aang sees Toph facing off with another member of the Rough Rhinos, wielding a scythe-like blade at the end of a long chain.
Rough Rhino #1 [His blade raised.] You're gonna regret picking this fight, little girl!
The blade cuts through the air; only by jumping backward does Toph avoid the blade by a tiny margin.
Toph Hey! Watch it with that thing!
Toph bends a pillar beneath the Rhino's feet, launching him high into the air, his weapon tumbling out of reach as he yells in panic.
Rough Rhino #1 Yikes!
Aang Toph, no!
Launching himself into the air, Aang catches the man before he hits the ground. Aang berates Toph as he sets the man on the ground.
Aang [Angry.] Toph, you gotta be more careful!
Rough Rhino #1 Thanks, Avatar ... now I'm gonna feel guilty for doing this!

Gene - Of all the sequences in the book, this one took the most reworking. We wanted to show the philosophical differences between the peace-loving Aang and the more practical Toph, but we didn't want either of them to cross the line. It took a few tries to get it right.

Pulling a knife from behind his back, the man slashes at Aang, who darts out of the way.
Aang Oh, pipe down for a second! I need to talk to my friend!
Aang bends a chasm beneath the feet of the man, and he sinks up to his armpits in earth.
Rough Rhino #1 Yikes!
Aang [Walking over to Toph as the man tries unsuccessfully to extricate himself from the ground.] We do just enough to stop them, nothing more! He could've been hurt --
Toph [Incredulous.] I almost got cut in half by one of his knife thingies, and you're worried about him?! He would've landed in a bush somewhere!
Aang That must've been hard for you, seeing your dad after all this time. But we can still fight these guys with an inner calm --
Toph Ugh. Will you stop talking to me like that?!
Aang Like what?
Toph I'm not one of your little acolyte kids, all right? I'll fight the way I want!
She powers away from Aang on a mound of earth, leaving him by himself. Cut to Sokka, who is doing battle with General Mongke. As Mongke shoots fire at his feet, Sokka leaps into the air, his club raised over his head, and brings the sharp, pointed end down squarely on Mongke's armor. It fails to make a dent and Sokka finds himself standing defenseless in front of Mongke as he bends a ball of fire between his hands.
Mongke [Mockingly.] Ha Ha! Was that supposed to hurt? I've used chopsticks thicker than your arms, boy! You really think you can beat me?!
As Mongke prepares to attack, Sokka suddenly darts away from him.
Sokka Nope.
Mongke [Yelling over his shoulder at his escaping target.] Hey! Come back here and fight!
Sokka No thanks.
In response, Mongke puts his fingers to his mouth and whistles loudly; several komodo rhinos make their way toward him. Cut to Katara, who is battling two people, Yeh-Lu and a burly man who wields a massive hammer. Ducking under a crushing blow from the hammer, she bends a stream of water at Yeh-Lu, snuffing out the fuse on his dynamite stick. Sokka races up to her and grabs her arm, pulling her away from the conflict.
Katara [Surprised.] Sokka--!?
Sokka Let's go!
Rough Rhino #2 [As Sokka pulls her away; talking to his compatriot, laughing] What'd I tell you about those ice savages, Yeh-Lu? They're as cowardly as they are primitive!
Katara But I had those guys!
Sokka Will you please just follow me?! I've got an idea!
Mongke [Having mounted his own rhino, ordering the other two as he rides up to them.] Saddle up, boys! It's huntin' season!
Meanwhile, Sokka has led Katara to the chain-link fence, which blocks them in.
Katara [Sarcastically.] Brilliant idea, Sokka! First, we'll let them get up on their komodo-rhinos, and then we'll let them chase us to a dead end!
The view changes, showing the three Rough Rhinos bearing down on them, great clouds of dust flying up behind them. Sokka's expression as he speaks is one of utter exhilaration.
Sokka They're coming right at us!
Katara [Preparing to defend herself.] Of course they're coming right at us! We're sitting turtle-ducks!
Sokka Shut up and jump!
At the last second, Sokka dives out of the way of the charging animals, taking Katara with him. The komodo rhinos miss them, crashing loudly through the chain-link fence and coming to a stop on the edge of the shallow gully containing the polluted river. Sokka stands up immediately and, as Katara gets to her own, she yells at him.
Katara Sokka, what has gotten into you?!
Sokka [Pointing in the direction of the river.] Hey, sis, what's that over there?
Katara [No longer upset, eyes focused as she realizes Sokka's reasoning.] A river.
As Katara and Sokka swagger up to the Rough Rhinos, the soldiers climb down from their mounts.
Mongke What kinda game are you kids playin' at?!
Katara The kind where you bozos are in big trouble.
Katara promptly bends a large glob of greenish water out of the river. Mongke refuses to back down.
Mongke [Preparing to fight.] So a little waterbending's supposed to scare us? You forget who you're up against?! We're the Rough Rhinos.
Cut to Yee-Li and Xing Ying as Ogodei advances on them, his bolo spinning in a blur over his head.
Ogodei [Smiling fiercely.] Don't worry, kiddies! I'm not gonna hurt you!
Xing Ying [Backing away cautiously.] I think he's lying.
Yee-Li [Also backing away.] I think you're right.
A yell from behind them makes them whip their heads around; Jingbo has commandeered a forklift and is driving it toward them as fast as he can.
Jingbo [Frantic.] Make way, my Acolyte sisters! Make way!
Ogodei also sees the oncoming forklift bearing down on him; terrified, he flees as Jingbo gives chase, a smile of utter euphoria on his face.
Ogodei Yeow!
Xing Ying [Crying out, a hand extended.] No, Jingbo! Stop!
Giving up the chase, Jingbo screeches to a halt and Xing Ying runs over to him.
Xing Ying What were you planning to do?!
Jingbo [Still smiling.] Smoosh him with a forklift.
Xing Ying [Sternly, wagging a finger at Jingbo, who immediately loses his smile and hangs his head.] Jingbo, you're an Air Acolyte now!
Jingbo [Disappointed.] So, no smooshing bad guys?
Xing Ying No smooshing bad guys!
Yee-Li [Walking up to the two other Acolytes.] Well, at least not all the way.
Jingbo Aw. But I thought we were supposed to break the rules.
The conversation comes to an abrupt end as a long chain wraps itself around Xing Ying and Yee-Li; they fall to the ground as Ogodei stands over them, holding Jingbo off the ground by the front of his robes. Jingbo kicks at the air around him, trying vainly to get free.
Ogodei Let this be a lesson to you, kiddies. Never have a conversation when you're in the middle of a fight!
The heavy ball on the end of Ogodei's bolo suddenly begins moving, lifting itself into the air and taking the chain attached to it with it as it moves. It flies straight at a disbelieving Ogodei.
Ogodei What -- ?! [In shock, he drops Jingbo, who lands, once again, on his back.] No! This isn't possible!
The chain binds Ogodei firmly and he falls helpless to the ground. The frame shows the other Acolytes rushing to help Jingbo; to the right stands Toph, holding Ogodei down by metalbending the chain.
Toph What, you haven't heard? I invented metalbending.
As Jingbo struggles to get up yet again, Toph rounds on the Air Acolytes, frustrated by their behavior.
Toph What the heck were you thinking, Air Acolytes?! Jingbo could've taken care of him with the forklift -- he could've chased him clear to the ocean!
Xing Ying [Flustered.] B-but we didn't want to risk injuring him too badly! We're following the precepts of Air Nomad philosophy.
Toph [As Jingbo flips off the ground into a standing position, she points angrily at the three of them.] Those precepts were created a long time ago when the world was completely different, by people who aren't around anymore! [Quick zoom on Toph's furious face.] You guys have got to stop worshiping the past and start worrying about right now! Otherwise, you're not gonna have a right now to worry about!
As Aang comes running up to the four of them, Toph relents.
Jingbo I'm so confused.
Aang Acolytes! I thought I told you to leave!
Xing Ying We ... we were going to, but ... Avatar Aang, we came today because we want to learn the Air Nomad traditions. We're not leaving until we've properly celebrated Yangchen's Festival.
The view has zoomed back, showing the three Acolytes smiling at Aang, who looks taken aback; aside from the others, Toph still seems aggravated. Aang's expression becomes one of happiness as he addresses the Acolytes once more.
Aang You know what? You're right. Let's do it, then! My talk with the refinery's owners can wait until after we're done. [Walking away from Toph with the Acolytes.] I guess the next step would be the ceremonial meal. The meadow isn't here anymore, but we can make do. [Turning around for a moment.] Toph, you're welcome to join us.
Toph [Still very annoyed.] Join you guys in a fuddy-duddy ritual so I can eat the most tasteless food in the history of food? I can think of about a million things I'd rather do.
Toph bends a mound of rocks beneath herself and uses it to propel herself away from Aang and the Acolytes. They all watch her leave.
Aang Don't mind her, Air Acolytes --
Xing Ying [A bit shocked.] Don't worry. We won't.
Cut to the interior of the refinery; Satoru stands in the midst of the benders' line, addressing the workers as they do their jobs.
Satoru I'm sorry, everybody, but we need to pick up the pace to make up for the other production line's losses.
One of the firebenders, part of a group of three bending flames into the side of the furnace, turns to Satoru as they all look at Satoru.
Worker #1 [A hand on the back of his head.] After everything that's happened, it's hard to concentrate.
Satoru [Sympathetic.] I know. But my uncle's really worried about deadlines. Just do your best, okay? [He puts a hand on the worker's shoulder, smiling.] I think we're past the worst of it.
Immediately after Satoru speaks, the wall to the left of the furnace explodes, crumbling inward with a crash and coming to rest in a heap of broken debris on the ground. On the other side of the crushed wall stands Toph. The workers all stand back behind Satoru.

Gene - I love the way Gurihiru drew Toph here. Such a perfect pose.

Toph [Plainly.] I'm here to talk to my dad.
Satoru [Pointing to his left with his right hand.] That way.
Cut to the town. Aang and the Acolytes walk down a dirt street, passing a few workers. As they walk, Momo flies through the air up to them and Aang extends an arm for him to land on.
Aang Hey Momo! You're just in time for the food! [Turning his head toward the Acolytes, explaining.] Monk Gyatso and I used to always sit beneath this giant, leafy tree for our meal. If I remember right, the tree was right about ... here.
Aang comes to a stop as the group is standing in front of a short tree stump, the only remnant of the aforementioned tree. Aang bows his head in sadness as Xing Ying tries to comfort him.
Xing Ying I'm sorry, Avatar Aang.
Aang [Shrugging it off.] No, it's ... I mean, what'd I expect? It was such a long time ago. [Turning toward a building decorated in green across from the stump.] And maybe we can still celebrate in the same spot, even if the spot's now indoors. Looks like this is a restaurant. Let's go in and ask.
As Aang walks through the front entrance, Yee-Li takes a second to survey the menu, written on a sign to the left of the door.
Yee-Li The menu's kinda weird. Cabbage soup? Cabbage noodles? Cabbage cookies?
Jingbo Yuck! Who'd want to eat a cabbage cookie?
Inside the restaurant, Aang greets the owner, a man standing in front of a stack of crates filled with cabbage.
Aang Hello!
Upon hearing Aang speak, the man jumps up in brief shock, the cabbage he was holding flying through the air.
Cabbage merchant Aaah!
Aang Sorry! I didn't mean to startle you.
Cabbage merchant [Leaning up against the stack of crates, recovering.] No, no. That earthquake left me a little jumpy. [He raises a cabbage affectionately to his face.] But luckily, my lovely cabbages were unharmed! [Speaking to the cabbages.] I told you a restaurant would be safer than a cart, didn't I, my lovely --
Aang Ahem.
Cabbage merchant Oh! Yes! How can I --?
As the merchant turns to looks his customers in the eye for the first time, he recognizes Aang from the cabbage-related calamities of his past and gasps, a look of complete and total shock crossing his face.

Gurihiru - We'd never imagined that the cabbage merchant would appear in the book. This surprised us a lot.

Cabbage merchant It's you! [Standing to block Aang from coming nearer to his cabbages.] Bad things happen to my poor cabbages when you're around!
Aang Really? You sure you don't have me confused with someone else?
Cabbage merchant No!
Aang [Turning to look at the restaurant's patron-less interior.] Would it be all right if my friends and I ate a meal in here?
Cabbage merchant [Somewhat reluctantly.] Well ... business has been slow ... I suppose so. But you must keep all bad things far, far away from my cabbages!

Gene - Throughout the cartoon series, Team Avatar encountered a traveling cabbage merchant over and over. These meetings would always end with the merchant's cabbages ruined. Poor cabbage merchant. After the war ended, he found a way to keep his cabbages safe -- by keeping them in a store instead of a cart! We've been wanting to bring the cabbage merchant back since we began working on the comics, but he never fit quite right into our storylines ... until now.

Aang [Ecstatic.] I'll do my best. Just one more request. Would you mind if we ate the food we brought?
Jingbo [Leaning out from behind Aang with the food in his hand.] Ta-da!
Cabbage merchant [Waving his hands in front of him, upset.] Unconscionable! I'm trying to run a business here! You're going to have to order at least one dish!
Aang That's fair. Give us your house special!
Cabbage merchant [Happy and excited, as he runs back toward his counter.] A plate of cabbage cookies coming right up!
As the merchant works at his furnace behind them, Aang uses airbending to move the tables, stools upended on top of them, out of the way, making a vacant space on the floor. Yee-Li and Xing Ying unroll a circular mat bearing the symbol of the Air Nomads on the now-clear floor, and Jingbo, taking off his backpack, unpacks the food and other items from it, arranging them on the mat. The view zooms shortly on the food in a dish next to a small vase containing several incense sticks, their ends smoking; next to that sits a picture of Yangchen and, on the edge of the view, a small bowl of soup. The view zooms out, showing the merchant walking toward the four children, who are sitting on the mat. They turn their heads toward the merchant.
Cabbage merchant Here you go, fresh from the oven! Enjoy!
Jingbo [As Yee-Li sniffs her cookie cautiously.] Hm. Not bad. Tastes kinda like a sugar cookie -- only more cabbagey.
Cut to the refinery. In a room within, its walls painted white, a multitude of workers dressed in white sit at dark-gray tables; they bend over small crystals in square basins in front of them, examining each one with a small magnifying glass. The floor is mainly gray, but a central aisle, of the same white color as the walls, divides the room into halves; it is up this central aisle that Toph walks, paying no mind to the people all around her. A voice calls after her.
Satoru Toph! Wait up! [Running, he catches her as she rounds a corner.] You won't be able to find boss man Lao's office on your own. Let me take you there.
Toph [Not turning to face him.] You sure? Aren't you afraid you're gonna get in trouble with your uncle? I wouldn't want you to have to grovel again.
Satoru [As the path leads them into a windowed corridor.] What's wrong with me respecting my uncle?!
Toph There's a big difference between showing respect and acting like a sniveling flunky!
Satoru [Flustered and insulted; Toph turns to face him as he yells.] You -- you -- you don't know anything, Toph! You think you do, but you don't! When I really needed him, he was there for me. For that, I'll be grateful to him for the rest of my life. Plus, he's my uncle, you understand? My family.
As Satoru finishes, he drops his head. He points dispassionately to a set of doors at the end of the hallway.
Satoru That's boss man Lao's office. [He turns and walks away, back the way he came.] See you around.
With Satoru gone, Toph is alone in the hallway. The next few shots show a set of cropped images: Toph facing the doors uncertainly; the doors themselves, the view focused on the brass handles; Toph's hand grasping a handle, pulling the door open; Toph standing just inside the doors, facing Lao as he sits at his desk, looking at his guest. Two close-ups show the faces of the father and daughter as they both regard each other, speechlessly.

The scene switches to a stick of explosive clutched in a frozen hand, its fuse hanging limply toward the ground, burning its way slowly upward from its position just below the pointer finger of the fist clenched around it. The shot zooms out farther, showing Sokka standing in front of Yeh-Lu, who is trapped in ice.

Sokka So you're Yeh-Lu, the Rough Rhinos' explosives expert.
Yeh-Lu Yes.
The shot zooms out even further, showing the other two Rough Rhinos trapped in ice as well.
Sokka And were planning to throw this bomb at me and my sister.
Yeh-Lu Yes.
Sokka But then my sister froze you.
Yeh-Lu Yes.
Sokka Now, you probably want me to get rid of the bomb before it blows off half your arm.
Yeh-Lu Yes! [A short pause, the fuse now just above his pointer finger; more desperately.] Please!
Sokka Even though you were trying to kill us not ten minutes ago?!
Yeh-Lu ... Y-Yes ...?
Sokka Fine.
Sokka lifts the bomb from Yeh-Lu's hand with his own left hand and tries to extinguish the fuse with the thumb and pointer finger of his right hand. A hissing sizzle and Sokka pulls his burned fingers back from the still lit fuse.
Sokka Yeowch!
Sokka tries futilely to blow it out, his face becoming redder and redder as the fuse grows shorter. Finally abandoning the attempt, he throws the bomb away from him, Katara ducking in shock as it soars over her head.
Sokka Heads up!
The stick of explosive tumbles past the wire fence on the edge of the drop and down to the river, where it explodes with a massive BOOOM! as Sokka and Katara cower away from the blast. After the shock of the blast fades away, Sokka rounds on Yeh-Lu, yelling frantically and pointing in the direction of the blast.
Sokka I can't believe that's what you were trying to do to my head!
Katara [Walking back into the odorous mist, holding her nose and staring with wide eyes.] Sokka, come here!
The view cuts to what lies in front of Sokka and Katara. A small section of the side of the canyon has given way, revealing a tunnel of sorts that was hidden by rock before the explosion. The wooden supports holding the tunnel open can be seen through the hole.
Katara It looks like a secret passageway!
Sokka No way. You know what this means, don't you?
Katara [As Sokka begins scaling the short cliff.] We're gonna have to go check it out?
Sokka You got it.
Quick cut to Mongke and Yeh-Lu, still imprisoned by the greenish ice.
Mongke [Shivering cold.] I c-c-can't f-feel my a-arms.
Yeh-Lu I told you to incorporate more armor into your uniform. I'm actually quite toasty.
Mongke Sh-sh-shut up.
Cut to the cabbage restaurant, where the Aang and the Acolytes sit in a circle on the mat, the food in front of them.
Aang Today definitely isn't gong the way I'd imagined, but Happy Yangchen's Festival anyway, Air Acolytes! Let me say a blessing before we begin.
Yee-Li [Pointing to Jingbo, whose mouth is full of food.] But Jingbo started eating already.
Jingbo Is that against the rules?
Aang [Smiling as they all take hands, forming a ring with their arms.] No, it's okay.
Jingbo Aw.
Aang [As they all close their eyes.] We are grateful for this delicious food and the friends with whom we share it.
As Aang speaks, the room begins to fade into white, the arrow on his forehead beginning to glow.
Aang We are grateful for happiness, for compassion, and for peace.
The restaurant is gone, the background and his tattoos blazing white.
Aang We are grateful for our hope for the future --
The scene comes back into focus, the brilliant white giving way to a grassy field. Aang, oblivious of the change and wrapped in a bluish aura, is sitting in a chair at a tree stump; it serves as a table and on its surface sit a box of food, a bowl of soup, and two plates. On the side of the table opposite Aang sits Yangchen, also giving off the same bluish glow.
Yangchen --And our guidance from the past.
Aang [Opening his eyes, looking up.] Avatar Yangchen! I can finally hear your voice! It's been so hard for us to connect! I've been trying for days.
Yangchen Like your meditation beads, the Avatars are linked, one to the other. Ours is a chain that extends to the very beginning of history. [Looking concerned.] When you broke off your relationship with Roku, you injured relationship with all the Avatars who preceded him.
Aang [Taken aback.] Oh. So then, how is it that we're able to talk now?
Yangchen This meal we share -- a meal that's been shared by every generation of Air Nomads between me and you -- serves as a temporary conduit. Traditions like Yangchen's Festival can allow you to access the guidance of the past.
Cut back to the restaurant, where Aang sits motionless, eyes and tattoos glowing, as the Acolytes and the merchant behold him.
Cabbage merchant [Becoming hysterical.] Wh-what's going on?
Yee-Li I think Avatar Aang's entered the Spirit World! He seems to be talking to somebody ...
Xing Ying [Excited.] Maybe it's Avatar Yangchen!
Jingbo Or that beautiful statue lady! This is sooo crazy exciting!
Cabbage merchant [Desperately clutching a few of his cabbages protectively.] Something bad's about to happen to my cabbages, isn't it?
Cut to Lao's office. As he silently regards his daughter, the shot switches to the top of his desk. Lying on its surface among the shuffled stacks of paper is a picture of a happy-looking Lao and his wife, Poppy, also smiling. Her hand rests on the shoulder of a younger Toph standing in front of them; she gazes vacantly in front of her, eyes wide, her mouth neither frowning or smiling. Slowly, Lao slides the image under a stack of papers, hiding it from view.
Lao I told you already, you're confused. You are not my daughter. Now see your way out of here before I call security.
Toph [Advancing toward Lao.] Aw, let it go, already! Nobody's here but you and me, and we both know you're lying!

Gurihiru - We staged this scene so that Lao would be in the light and Toph would be in the shadows. By doing this, we hoped to express the disconnection of their feelings.

Lao [More aggressive.] You presume to tell me what I know? [He stands, beginning to walk toward Toph.] Let me tell you what I know. I spent countless hours of my life -- not to mention a substantial portion of my fortune -- raising my daughter to be a poised, demure, obedient young woman! I did everything I could to protect her from the corrosive dangers of the outside world! [He stands in front of her.] Now, clearly, this rude, ungrateful ... thing in front of me is not my daughter!
Lao stares down at Toph, suppressing his anger. Toph makes no reply for a moment.
Toph [Face determined.] ... I know I've put you through a lot ... but you've got no right to talk to me like that.
Quick cut to a cropped zoom on Lao's eyes, a momentary break in his stony façade visible in them.
Lao Show me I'm mistaken, then. Greet me properly ... as a child ought to greet a parent, in a manner befitting someone of our class.
Cut to the tunnel which Katara and Sokka are investigating. They each light the path with a glowing crystal, though Sokka has his strapped to his head with his belt.
Katara Sokka, do you really have to wear that crystal on your forehead?
Sokka It's dark in here, all right? So unless you've suddenly figured out how to firebend, we're gonna need all the light we can get!
Katara [Holding up her own crystal for emphasis.] Sure, but why can't you carry it in you hand like a normal person?
Sokka [Cleverly, glancing back at Katara.] Doing it this way leaves my hands free for other important tasks --
Katara [Interrupting, as the scene zooms out; she seems unamused.] -- Like holding up your pants, now that your belt is on your forehead?
Sokka [A bit aggravated.] Exactly! [As Katara walks past him, he puts his belt back on, holding the crystal under his arm.] Picky, picky, picky ...
Katara [Pointing toward a glow emanating from the end of the tunnel, eyes wide.] Sokka, look!
Walking down the tunnel toward the glow, they come upon a large, cavernous room, lit by the light of a large, blazing furnace. At the far end of the room is a number of workers on several large scaffolds, each going about their business moving earth. Beyond the workers and the scaffolds, the room's far side stretches onward into darkness where the light from the furnace does not extend.

Gurihiru - To draw this scene, we referenced an old way of making iron in Japan, the tatara steel-smelting method.

Gene - The smelting process here is based on one they used in ancient Japan. We were able to find old Japanese brush paintings for Gurihiru to use as reference.

Sokka Whoa. It's some kind of underground mine!
They walk over to the railing next to the top of the furnace. The furnace itself sits in a chasm which runs through the middle of the room; at its base stand two workers, one of whom is holding a pole to stir red-hot liquid pouring out of a hole at the bottom of the furnace. The liquid waste empties directly into a river running through the chasm, turning the water a corrupted shade of green.
Sokka Katara, check this out!
Katara So this is the source of the river's pollution!
A voice from behind them makes them whirl around; two of the Rough Rhinos, Vachir and Kahchi, stand facing them, weapons drawn.
Kahchi Hey! You two! Get away from there!
Katara [As Vachir draws an arrow from his quiver.] More Rough Rhinos!
Sokka [Drawing his own club.] I got 'em!
As Kahchi swings his long-handled sword at Sokka, he ducks his head, letting the sharp blade pass over his upturned face, and spins around, hitting Kahchi in the chest with his club. Vachir, meanwhile, takes aim and lets fly four arrows simultaneously; they fly past Sokka, barely missing him, and embed themselves in a wooden support beam near his head. The impact causes the beam to fracture down the center, emitting a loud cracking sound. The ceiling begins to creak and groan ominously as Katara stares up at it. Realizing what is happening, she turns and calls out to Sokka, who is busy dodging Vachir's arrows.
Katara Sokka, stop! This place isn't just the source of the pollution -- it's the source of the earthquakes! Those supports look like they could give way at any moment ... and we're right beneath the town! You've gotta stop fighting! You're making things worse!
Sokka [Running away as another arrow zips just over his head.] Tell it to that guy!
Katara Duck!
Standing near the barrier on the edge of the river's chasm, she bends a stream of water from down below, directing it onto Vachir's arms and freezing it. She turns her attention back to Sokka; behind her, the workers have noticed the confrontation going on and have gathered on the ground to watch.
Katara It isn't safe down here! We've got to get the workers out!
Sokka No problem. [He climbs onto a crate, cupping his hands around his mouth as he yells at the workers.] Attention, everybody! Listen up! This mine could collapse at any moment! We need to get everybody out in an orderly fashion! [He jumps down, pointing toward the exit.] So if you'll all follow me in a single-file line --
The workers do not follow Sokka. He reiterates his instructions while waving his club in the air.
Sokka Come on! Didn't you hear me? The mine is going to collapse and you'll all be crushed! [Pointing at the trapped Vachir.] You aren't worried about the big burly guys, are you? They can't get you in trouble! They're frozen!
Nutha [Voice-over.] We aren't all as lucky as you and your sister, Sokka.
Sokka [The view switches to show Sokka and the workers as Nutha and Niyok walk toward him.] Hey ... I know you! Nutha, right? Weren't you friends with my sister back home?
Nutha Not everybody gets to buddy up with the Avatar and leave home. [Turning to face Katara as well.] I'm sure you're not aware, since you haven't been back, but the Southern Water Tribe hasn't been doing all that well since the war ended. We're lucky to have found work here.
Katara I'm sorry, I didn't --
Nutha Sorry for what? We know you've got other priorities these days. The whole world needs you now, right?
Niyok This job is all we've got, Katara. Without it, we don't eat. So unless the boss man orders us to leave, we have to stay.
The two pairs of siblings stare at each other; the shot is at the sisters' backs, showing Katara and Sokka's faces, worried and somewhat skeptical. Sokka abruptly takes off running down the tunnel away from the group, his crystal and club in either hand.
Katara Sokka, where are you going?
Sokka I'm gonna get the "boss man" to order them to leave!
Cut back to Aang and Yangchen.
Aang I'm sorry about what happened with Roku, but he asked me to do something that I just couldn't do. The world is so different now from when he was alive. His advice didn't fit anymore. It was like he wanted me to ... to ...
Yangchen ... To hold on too tightly to the past?
Aang Exactly! [His expression goes from exuberance to a downcast sadness and he drops his head.] You know, maybe Toph has a point.
Yangchen Your past lives aren't meant to bind you. We are meant to guide you. If you separate yourself from those who came before, you will inevitably repeat our mistakes. [The shot zooms on her face, stern and serious.] I myself have made mistakes, Aang. Mistakes you must not repeat.
The scene cuts into a flashback of Yangchen's; she narrates the events as they elapse throughout the course of the scene. The flsahback itself opens with a distant shot of a large city; the evening is dark and stormy, and bolts of lightning split the sky as rain pours down from the ominous clouds above.
Yangchen [Narrating.] Many years ago, a city stood in this very place, the grandest city of its time.
Cut to a shot of a sky bison flying through the miserable weather.
Yangchen One stormy evening, the city's king sent for my help. Though I was young and inexperienced, I was eager to make a difference in the world. And so I came.
Yangchen breaks off her narration as two voices yell over the wind from the back of the bison.
Yangchen You've fulfilled your duties, Master Boma! You didn't need to come with me!
Boma [As the shot cuts to the two on the bison, dressed in raincoats; Yangchen looks apprehensive as her master addresses her.] No! I promised the nuns that I'd watch over you until you were ready to be on your own! It's never a good idea to break a promise to a nun!
Yangchen But I've mastered all four elements!
Boma Only as of last week!
Yangchen I'm ready!
Boma That's what you think!
As a bolt of lightning cuts the sky close to them, two flying lemurs, crouching under Boma's cloak, poke their heads out from under it, and Yangchen speaks to them excitedly.
Yangchen Pik! Pak! Isn't this exciting? My first mission as the Avatar!
Boma [Peering over the side of the saddle.] Heads up! That's it down below!
The scene cuts to the throne room of the city palace; Yanghen stands before the throne of the king, Boma stands behind her, and three women sit beside a fire on her left.
King Thank you for taking pity on us, Avatar Yangchen! Our fortunetellers predict that a great tragedy will befall our city tonight!
The three fortunetellers speak as Yangchen turns to view them in shock.
Fortuneteller #1 Seduced by the new, she forsook her own kind! The new used her!
Fortuneteller #2 The new destroyed her! Now all that is left --
Fortuneteller #3 -- Is vengeance. Vengeance from the seas.
Boma [Speaking to the lemurs as they cling to him.] I know. Those ladies give me the willies, too.
Yangchen What are they talking about, Your Majesty?
King [Looking terrified.] I ... I'm not sure.
Yangchen [Resuming her narration.] I was very young and not yet fully attuned to the Spirit World, but I could tell that the fortunetellers were right. [Scene cuts to the cliffside outside the city, where Yangchen sits under a canopy of earth, Boma sleeping behind her.] So I waited on a cliff just outside the city. [Zoom on her eyes.] Then, just past midnight --
The view switches to behind Yangchen, looking out toward the ocean. A massive humanoid form, identical to the one from Aang's vision, is rising from the water, emitting a purplish glow. Yangchen and Boma, now awake, rise to their feet.
Boma Yangchen? What's going on?
Yangchen Don't worry, Master Boma. Nothing I can't handle.
The shot zooms in on her eyes again, tears now pouring down her face, as the narration resumes.
Yangchen I was lying, of course. The spirit's grief overwhelmed me. I'd never felt anything so deep, so intense. I was afraid. I confronted him as soon as he reached the shore.
Cut to Yangchen rising into the sky on an air spout, hovering in front of the massive spirit as it towers over the ocean below.
Yangchen [Fear evident in her face.] O great spirit! I am the Avatar, the bridge between the spirits and the humans! Whatever grievance you have, please lay it before me. And leave the humans alone.
Without warning, the spirit punches Yangchen out of the sky, causing her to tumble to the ground below, throwing up a cloud of dirt. Boma rushes over to her.
Boma Yangchen! Talk to me, girl!
Yangchen Master ... ?
Boma Oh, thank the heavens!
By the time Yangchen pulls herself to a sitting position, the spirit has passed them by and made its way to the gates of the city. It begins to assault them in an attempt to tear them down.
Yangchen Master Boma, what do I do?!
Boma I'll evacuate the city as fast as I can! [Pointing at the spirit in the distance as it succeeds in destroying the gates.] You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go get 'em!
Cut to Lao's office. Toph becomes progressively happier and more hopeful as she speaks.
Toph Dad, how can you be so ... so blind? Your daughter isn't the quiet little girl you're picturing in your head. That girl was just an act I put on to get you and Mom off my back. That girl never really existed. Your daughter -- your real daughter -- might not be prim and proper, but she's become the greatest earthbender of all time! She trained the Avatar, then helped him end the Hundred Year War! And now she's right here, standing in front of you. Don't you have anything to say? About any of that?
As Toph finishes, Lao appears to be dumbfounded and shocked. Having nothing to say, he turns his back on her and walks over to his desk, leaving her standing by herself. Toph turns around as well and walks toward the door.
Toph [Covering her eyes with the back of her hand.] Coming back to talk to you was a mistake. Don't worry. I won't bother you ever again.
As Toph nears the door, it swings open with a crash and Sokka enters the room with a determined look on his face. Satoru is right behind him.
Satoru Stop, stop! You're not authorized to be here!
Toph Sokka?
Sokka [Surprised.] Oh! Hey, Toph.
Toph [Bewildered.] Satoru?!
Satoru [Annoyed.] Will you people stop breaking into this place?! How and I supposed to get things back to normal?!
Sokka [Ignoring them, focused on Lao.] You! You're the guy I'm looking for, "Boss man Lao"? You gotta order your employees out of that mine! It looks like it could collapse at any moment!
Lao I assure you, our crystal mine is completely safe! We inspect it on a regular basis!
Sokka No, no the crystal mine! The iron mine right beneath the town!
Lao [Offended.] What are you talking about, young man? Earthen Fire only processes crystals. There is no iron mine.
Sokka [Turning and walking out of the room, looking back over his shoulder.] Follow me.
Cut to Yangchen sitting at the table with Aang.
Yangchen Master Boma did what he said he would. [Cut to the flashback, a shot of the king and Boma along with the people of the city.] He evacuated the people of the city to a nearby clearing. [The people are all staring, awestruck, off into the distance; the shot cuts to the fight between Avatar Yangchen and the giant spirit.] I tried to stop the great spirit. We fought through the night. Neither of us could gain the upper hand, and our battle left the city in ruins. Finally, as dawn broke --
The next shot shows the spirit falling onto its back, Yangchen floating over it, exhausted.
Yangchen Just ... Huff huff ... just tell me what you want.
The shot zooms on the spirit's empty eyes for a moment. He lifts an arm toward Yangchen, the iron chunks of armor falling to the ground, revealing a hand beneath them. As the spirit touches Yangchen's forehead with a massive finger, her arrow tattoos begin to glow. Cut to a wider shot as the rest of the spirit's armor comes off and crashes to the ground. The spirit has a long face, pointed hair and beard, and he wears a suit of samurai-like armor. His eyes glow white without any pupils and he has a third eye with a red pupil. When the spirit speaks to Yangchen, it does so telepathically.
Old Iron I am called General Old Iron.
The scene cuts to a flashback of the general's; these six frames of flashback appear almost pastel-like. The first frame shows a tall, woman-like spirit in pinkish robes, her arms half-raised toward the craggy coast in front of her. Behind her stands the general, looking on. He narrates.

Gurihiru - Since this is a flashback within a flashback, we made a slight change to our art style. We tried to make it look like traditional Asian brush painting, but we had a really hard time.

Old Iron Long ago, in the age when spirits still roamed this world, I lived here with my friend Lady Tienhai. She was the most beautiful spirit in existence, and she filled the world with her beauty. She tended the seashore as if it were her garden. I served as her protector. [The shot cuts to a group of people with horses walking through mountains.] One day, a small tribe of humans appeared. Without asking permission, they made their home there. [Cut to the people setting up a camp as Lady Tienhai sits on the cliffside looking down at the people; Old Iron continues looking on in the background.] Lady Tienhai, innocent as she was, became infatuated with the humans. She watched over them and entertained their requests. They seemed such weak and pitiable creatures, but I knew better, I'd heard what was happening to the other spirits. If allowed to flourish, the humans would eventually wipe away our kind. [Cut to Old Iron advancing on the cliffside where the people stand; Tienhai, her face angry, stands between the spirit and the people, her arms outstretched, blocking his path.] I planned to stomp the litle tribe out of existence, for my lady's sake and mine. She stopped me. [Cut to a shot of Old Iron leaving, disappearing into the ocean as he walks away from Lady Tienhai and the people toward the sun.] Because of the humans, she forsook our friendship. I left. [Cut to Tienhai as she surveys a city, buildings rising over the once-empty cliffside.] Over the centuries, the tribe grew into a city, the most powerful city in all the world.

Gene - Lady Tienhai's name is a transliteration of two Chinese words (天海) that mean "sky" and "ocean". Several Avatar characters are named this way. The panda spirit in the episode "The Spirit World" is named Hei Bai (黑白), or "black white". The two fish spirits who live in the North Pole's Spirit Oasis are Tui () and La (), or "push" and "pull".

The scene returns to Yangchen and Old Iron, who has righted himself and looks with glowing eyes at Yangchen, floating in front of him.
Old Iron Then, just a few nights ago, you humans proved my deepest fears. Deep within me, I felt Lady Tienhai's last breath. You humans had killed her. My friend's death is a harbinger of the world to come, a world where your kind run rampant and my kind have no place!
Hearing this, Yangchen leaves the spirit and returns on her air spout to the king and Boma, who stand on the cliff waiting for her in the pouring rain.
Boma Avatar Yangchen, what is it? What did it say?
Yangchen He told me about a spirit named Lady Tienhai. He says that her death --
At the mention of the spirit's name, the king's eyes widen in shock. His gaze falls to the ground as, filled with sadness, he speaks.
King It's true. A spirit named Lady Tienhai met her end here. I -- I caused her death. It was my fault. My fault alone. [Turning to see Old Iron advancing across the burning waste, his iron armor rising through the air and reattaching to his form.] Please, beg for his mercy on behalf of my people! Lady Tienhai's death has nothing to do with them!
Old Iron Step aside, Avatar! [Standing over Yangchen, Boma, and the king.] I'm going to do what I should have done long ago!
Cut to the iron mine in the present. Sokka has led Lao, Toph, and Satoru to the mine; they walk in the background as the miners continue their work in the foreground.
Lao [Baffled, as Katara walks toward him.] What is this place?
Katara Mr. Beifong, you've gotta help us evacuate everybody! Look! [Pointing at the shattered wooden support.] That's what's causing those earthquakes!
Lao B-but this mine shouldn't even exist! When we had this area evaluated, Loban and I agreed that it was too dangerous to excavate the iron ore here!
Loban emerges from the mining tunnel as Lao finishes, addressing the group.
Loban I made no such agreement, Lao! Because of your cowardice, I had to pursue this particular opportunity in secret, on my own!
Satoru [Shocked.] Uncle!
Loban [Ignoring Satoru, talking to Lao, who looks shocked as well.] This is the richest deposit of iron ore I've ever seen! It's -- it's almost unnaturally rich! And you just wanted to leave it here, buried beneath the dirt!
Toph Listen, you dunderhead! You need to stop thinking about money and start thinking about people's lives!
Satoru Toph, this picture you have of my uncle is all wrong! Just because he's a talented businessman doesn't mean he's evil! He wouldn't do anything to endanger anybody!
Toph You gotta trust me on this one, Satoru! [Turning her head upward toward the stony roof of the mine.] I can feel the earth and ore shifting all around us!
Lao Earthen Fire employees, exit the premises immediately! That's an order!
Sokka [Waving his club in the air as he yells.] Now we're talking! This way, everybody!
The workers start to comply with Lao and Sokka's request; Loban, furious, attempts to put a stop to the evacuation.
Loban This is ridiculous! Stop! If you value your livelihoods, you'll get back to work!
Lao Don't worry about your livelihoods! Worry about your lives!
Meanwhile, Sokka is leading his group of workers out of the mine; before they reach the entrance to the tunnel, however, they find their way blocked by Vachir and Kahchi, their weapons drawn.
Kahchi [A hand outstretched, wielding his blade in his other.] You aren't going anywhere, kid.
Kahchi hurls his blade at Sokka and the workers. They cower, the blade slicing through the air just over their heads.
Sokka No! Are you crazy?!
Flying past them, the blade buries itself with a crash in another support post. The post immediately begins to crack and fails within seconds, collapsing into splinters. Cut to the group as the ceiling above begins to rumble and shake menacingly and boulders start to fall. A few workers run for cover.

Cut to Yangchen, continuing her flashback as she sits at the table with Aang.

Yangchen I told you, I was very young then. The Avatar State could still be elusive at times. [In the flashback, Old Iron slams a fist into the ground as the people of the city reel back, cowering from the spirit and Yangchen rides an air spout on the spirit's left.] But when I saw General Old Iron attacking the people [Cut to a close-up of Yangchen's eyes; her eyes and tattoos blaze with white light.] the Avatar State welled up within me, unbidden.
As the spirit turns, aiming a punch at the people behind Yangchen, she bends a massive block of earth between them and his fist slams into it with a loud crack. She is surrounded by an elemental sphere; a ring fire surrounds the ball of air that engulfs the ring of water and earth the cross each other with Yancheng hovering in the middle. Rising higher into the air, she airbends, sending him flying off his feet and tumbling backward. As the spirit gets back to its feet, Yangchen swoops down on him, as the spirit winds up for another punch.
Yangchen Remember, General Old Iron, I am the Avatar. I stand on the border between the spirit and human worlds, to ensure that border never grows into a rift. [Cut to a view of Yangchen floating in front of the spirit; it has abandoned its attack.] Peace is possible. Balance is possible. Lay down your armor and listen to me.
The spirit stands motionless, the rain pouring down around it. The next shot shows its iron armor tumbling back to the ground as the landscape around them continues to burn.
Yangchen [Narrating.] General Old Iron and I came to an agreement. And as long as I ensured that the terms of our agreement would be honored for all time, he would never again take up his armor against us. So I established a ritual among my people.

Gene - In the very first draft of what eventually became The Rift, two lobster-serpent spirits played principal roles in the plot. They were eventually replaced by Lady Tienhai and General Old Iron. Lady Tienhai is inspired by Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea. Mazu has two companions, General Thousand-Miles Eye and General With-Wind Ear, who serve and protect her. They are the inspirations for General Old Iron.

Cut back to Aang and Yangchen at the table.
Aang Yangchen's Festival! By celebrating it, the Air Nomads would carry on what you started! But now, because of the Hundred Year War --
Yangchen -- All has been forgotten.
Aang Tell me, then. What are the terms of your agreement?
Yangchen First --
From somewhere behind her, a low rumble begins, building as she stops explaining and turns toward the unseen source. The ground begins to shake as Aang speaks.
Aang Avatar Yangchen? What's going on?!
Cut back to the restaurant, where the ceremonial vase with the sticks of incense falls over and shatters as the earth shakes violently. Aang exits his meditation to find the others in a panic as dust falls down from the ceiling and stools, jars, and cabbages tumble to the floor with a clatter.
Aang Another earthquake!
Jingbo [Reaching for Yee-Li.] Hold me!
Cabbage merchant [Watching boxes of cabbages tumble to the ground.] NO! NO! NO!
The shock subsides. While Yee-Li holds Jingbo, Xing Ying starts to get to her feet; Aang is already standing. The cabbage merchant is on his knees, beholding his fallen cabbages in despair.
Yee-Li [Looking around.] I think it's over!
Jingbo [His face buried fearfully in Yee-Li's tunic.] Don't let go just yet.
Aang On you feet, Air Acolytes! That was much stronger than the earlier ones! Folks are gonna need our help!
Cabbage merchant My cabbages!
Cut to Aang and the Acolytes running through the street as smoke rises in the background. Workers flee the mine as the gang runs toward it.
Xing Ying It's chaos out here!
As they near the fence separating the town from the river, Sokka, standing with Niyok, who has her head down as she grips her arm, spots Aang, waving an arm in the air.
Sokka Aang! Over here!
Aang [Turning his head.] Sokka?
They make their way over to each other.
Sokka I don't think any of their injuries are too serious, but be careful, especially with her! Niyok's arm might be broken!
Aang Air Acolytes --
Xing Ying Already on it, Avatar Aang!
As Aang has been talking to Sokka, Xing Ying and Yee-Li have already begun helping workers away from the river; Jingbo has dropped his pack and is taking supplies out of it.
Jingbo I've got bandages and a splint in my backpack! We'll have her patched up in no time!
Niyok [Turning away from Yee-Li.] Sokka, my sister's still down there!
Sokka Both our sisters are still down there! Go let the Acolytes take care of your arm, Niyok. Aang and I will figure something out.
Xing Ying [As Sokka turns back to Aang.] Food, musical instruments, and now bandages and a splint! Anything you don't have in that backpack, Jingbo!
Jingbo [Proudly.] Nope.
Aang Sokka, what do you mean, "down there"? Where's Katara?
Sokka Buried in an underground mine with Toph and a bunch of the others! We were the only ones who were able to get out before the whole thing collapsed!
Aang [Looking down at the ground.] Buried?! Where?!
Sokka Right below us! Aang, you've gotta use your earthbending to -- [He cuts off momentarily as Aang immediately bends a large amount of earth upward, creating a small depression.] ... well, to do that.
As Aang discards the removed earth, a voice from the ground below causes him to stop.
Katara Aang! Stop!
Aang [Kneeling down, staring at the ground.] Sweetie?! Is that you?!
Katara Yes!
Aang [As Sokka lets out a sigh of relief.] Oh, thank goodness!
Katara We're all alive down here, thanks to Toph!
Aang [As the shot zooms on his face.] Get everybody to step away, Katara! I'll earthbend a tunnel so you can climb out!
The shot cuts to Katara's face underground, staring at the ceiling and yelling back at Aang, her face frantic.
Katara No, Aang! Don't! If you earthbend the wrong way, the mine might collapse all the way! And there isn't just earth between you and me. This place is full of iron ore!
The shot zooms out. Katara stands upright as Lao, Satoru, Vachir, Loban, Nutha, and a few other workers crouch or sit on the floor of a tiny chamber, the low roof pressing down, dust and dirt cascading onto the people within. Toph is bending the earthen supports over and around them, hunched over under the force of it.
Katara Right now, Toph's metalbending is all that's keeping us from getting crushed!

Gurihiru - Originally we couldn't come up with a good pose showing Toph holding up the big rock in this tense situation, and so we redrew it again and again at every stage of sketching, penciling, inking, and coloring.

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