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1
Comics and Graphic Novels / Re: Gunnerkrigg Court
« Last post by Crystle on September 21, 2016, 11:43:44 PM »
I just assumed, actually, that everything was going as well as it was because Smitty is there. The only reason Blue's power didn't get found out, the only reason Jeanne is still partially in it, why Parley could convince her she's her friend.. all cause of Andrew.

Which may explain why Annie isn't having much luck, maybe she's like... too far away.
<< Post Merge: September 24, 2016, 12:20:23 AM >>


Robot has a really bad habit of getting cut in half.
ALSO: OW because he can feel pain right
2
Comics and Graphic Novels / Re: Gunnerkrigg Court
« Last post by wherewulf on September 21, 2016, 06:16:33 PM »
(nods)

Going back to Monday's page, I really liked that sun-and-moon way of showing time progression.  That was nice.

And re today, I wonder if Smitty's able to assist Robot.  Not to mention, gosh--this is now in the physical realm, not just etherial.
3
Television and Movies / Re: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
« Last post by wherewulf on September 19, 2016, 06:42:41 PM »
Saw the "Ogres & Oubliettes" episode this weekend, and I was a little surprised Applejack didn't join Rainbow Dash in rushing to join the game.

Am I surprised at Pinkie Pie's O&O outfit?  No.  XD
4
Misc. Topics and Games / Re: You Can Now Buy a Real D-Day Tank
« Last post by wherewulf on September 19, 2016, 06:31:53 PM »
Yes, the U.S. uses the Abrams.  I figured you'd favor the Merkava.
5
Comics and Graphic Novels / Re: Gunnerkrigg Court
« Last post by Crystle on September 19, 2016, 01:03:27 PM »
I'm betting on recreating
6
Comics and Graphic Novels / Re: Gunnerkrigg Court
« Last post by wherewulf on September 19, 2016, 11:50:04 AM »
Ysengrin's former army certainly was.  :D

Unfortunately it looks like she's headed for the surface, tho.  I think.

And at warp speed.  Good grief.

Why, hello, Percy Jackson.  Or is that Daedalus?  :D

Hmm... from the color of that thing and Kat's expression, she has either recreated the device on Steadman's arrow or a countermeasure.
7
Avatar Fan Fiction / The Legend of Lian [T for violence and mild language]
« Last post by Lionheart on September 17, 2016, 01:49:29 AM »
A/N: First off, big thanks to my Beta Reader, Ana-DaughterofHades for helping me out with this. I had this idea since 2009, but I obviously had to abandon it because of Korra, but I've been fumbling with the idea of resurrecting this ever since the finale aired. Ergo, instead of a Waterbender named Kasumi, our Avatar is an Earthbender named Lian. The Yi family's names are taken from another fanfic, the Agnishima Trials, which is on hold for now (Agnishima is the capital of the Fire Nation, a name I made up). As always, show no mercy and nitpick the hell out of it.

Disclaimer: I'm Mike, I'm not Bryan, nor am I anyone else on the creative team behind Avatar and Korra. Copyright belongs to Nickelodeon and Viacom. I just own the plot, characters, and other things concerning the story itself.

Fire

An elderly man shooting a jet of flame from his fist.

Air

A boy of twelve creating a gust of wind with a wave of his arms.

Water

Streams of water swirling around a young woman executing flowing movements with her hands.

Earth

A teenage girl stomping her foot on the ground and sending a boulder flying through the air.

My grandfather Bolin often used to talk of his younger days; a brighter time when the Avatar, master of all four elements, always restored balance to the world no matter who tried to devastate it. Weeks after arriving in what was once Republic City, Avatar Korra, Grandpa Bolin, Uncle Mako, and Asami Sato had defeated Amon's Equalist Revolution. About a year later, on the day of Harmonic Convergence, Chief Unalaq of the Northern Water Tribe merged with Vaatu, the Spirit of Chaos to become the Dark Avatar. Despite him cutting off Korra's connection to her past lives, she still prevailed and ten thousand years of balance would reign. These events were a catalyst for the reintroduction of spirits into the mortal plane. Due to Harmonic Convergence, the Airbenders had returned in huge numbers including the anarchist, Zaheer of the Order of the Red Lotus. Although Zaheer and his followers were defeated, Avatar Korra was horribly wounded and fell into depression. Kuvira of Zaofu took advantage of Korra's absence to take over much of what was, at that time, the Earth Kingdom. In time, Korra had snapped out of her depression and once again, Team Avatar rose into action. My family – the Beifongs – and Tenzin's family had assisted them in finally defeating Kuvira and her hordes.

Once everything had settled down, Korra had hoped to spend the rest of her life in peace with her lover, Asami Sato. The world was at relative peace for a while. During that era of peace, my grandfather married my grandmother, Opal. Earth King Wu abdicated his throne and decided to divide the Earth Kingdom states, but the land ended up becoming two separate republics after a much-heated debate. The two most popular political camps were democratic republicanism in the west and a new philosophy known as communism in the east. What originally had begun as a political disagreement over territory had soon escalated into a civil war ending in a stalemate and the highest number of casualties since the Hundred-Year War. After all the bloodshed and suffering the Earth Republic and the Earth People's Republic had to endure; the two countries – with Korra's urging – willingly reorganized into a federation of twelve semi-independent states and renamed this land the Earth Federation. The world was at peace once again for many years.

Then, unknown to the world, an ancient evil not seen for thousands of years arose. Harmonic Convergence had reawakened much of what was lost, and this evil was Shadowbending, a dark perversion of Energybending originating from Water and Airbending techniques. In the United Republic, internal corruption and global influence had led to the rise of separatists. In the National Assembly, the ambitious Senator Donghai worked for more proactive measures to quell the revolution. Eventually, after pulling all the right strings, he was elected as President.

In the years that followed, the world's nations began to crumble as the Separatist Revolt grew, and as a result, the nations were forced to pledge their loyalty to Donghai, who took them under his so-called umbrella of protection. What was once the Four Nations became satellite states of the Republic, eventually leading to the end of the Separatist movement. Little did the world know this entire conflict was a front for Donghai to bring the entire world under his rule.

In what was to be the final battle between the Alliance and the Separatists led by the Shadowbender, the Dark Lord Shang, the conspiracy was unmasked. President Donghai, revealed to be the Shadowbending master, ordered his armies to purge the lands of the vast majority of benders above childhood age. As the massacre was being carried out, Donghai declared himself the Emperor and the free lands of the world fell under the rule of the United Empire of Nations.

Avatar Korra, furious that she and nearly the entire world had been duped, confronted the Emperor while her friend, Fire Nation General Kenji Tomohiro, had faced Lord Shang in Wulong Forest. The duels were fierce, but both the Avatar and the General were overpowered by their foes. General Tomohiro was killed, and Korra was forced to retreat after being critically wounded. With the spirits' protector in the mortal world defeated, many of them returned to the Spirit World, and along with Korra, using the last bit of strength that she had, closed the portals to ensure that the Shadowbenders could not use the spirits' powers for their ambitions. The old, broken Avatar returned in shame to the Southern Water Tribe, where a fortnight later, she succumbed to her wounds and even more so, her grief. The mighty Avatar Korra, five-time savior of our world, was dead.

Avatar Korra had left behind a world where bending is forbidden to everyone except those in the Imperial Forces. The Empire examines all children born into our era of darkness: those born as benders are seized to be raised as soldiers, whereas nonbending children are conscripted at adulthood. The Empire enslaves the bending population as lifelong soldiers. Parents refusing to surrender their bender children are executed along with their babies. It is a desolate world, but there are those of us who resist. Scattered across the globe is the Restoration, a network of revolutionaries wishing to restore our world to its former glory – I myself am among their leaders.

Thus far, we are merely insects compared to the tyranny machine of the Empire, but a glimmer of hope keeps us fighting. Many believe that the Bender Genocide had ensured that the Avatar would not be reborn, but our hope would never die. We the Restoration will always hold true to the belief that the Avatar is out there somewhere and would return to restore balance to the world.


***

The Legend of Lian

革命

Book One: Revolution

Chapter One - Hope Rekindled

The freezing winds were biting as the snowflakes flew around them and the powerful winds echoed in a mournful cry. A group of four men, each clad in a white fur-lined jacket, stood at the edge of a cliff overlooking the small coastal city of Qing. Nearly all the buildings were of the ancient, traditional style from the Earth Kingdom days. The only modern style building was the enormous nuclear power plant that could not have been more out of place in this city that was slow to accept change. From the cliffs, the men could see the compound of blocky buildings, barren fields, barbed wire fences, and guard towers of a prison camp only a kilometer away from the city. The camp was brightly lit, and several agents of the Guoanbu* patrolled the grounds to make sure the prisoners did not try to escape. This harsh reminder of the Emperor's ruthlessness was one of the many reasons these men were journeying in search of a new hope. Lucky for them, their five-year search was about to come to an end. Hope would be found just over the cliff.

The shortest one of the group, a Waterbender, urged his ostrich horse forward, and even though the animal's thick fur and feathers provided a natural defense against the elements, one could easily see that it was uncomfortable in the storm. "Are you sure about this place?" he asked. "I'm frankly not in the mood to get into any Imperial entanglements down there if it can be avoided."

The rider in the front, an Earthbender, gave him a reproachful scowl. "This is definitely the place," he assured them. "I can feel it. Have I ever steered you wrong before?"

"Yes!" his three companions shot back in unison.

The Earthbender shook his head in exasperation. "All right, fine, that Zhongjing* thing was a bit of a fiasco!"

"That's putting it mildly," the third rider, a Firebender, grumbled. "Strolling into the capital of the Empire wasn't a very smart move. There was also Yu Dao, where you almost got us all hanged." The Earthbender had to grudgingly acknowledge that failure.

"And then there was the time when you got us lost in the desert and led us into that nest of buzzard wasps," the Airbender amended with a dry laugh. "You know you're allergic to their stings." Now that was just hitting below the belt.

"And then there was that screw up in-" the Waterbender began, but the Earthbender cut him off.

"Okay!" the Earthbender shouted, making his ostrich horse snort in annoyance. "Fine, I've made some navigational errors - shut up!" he snapped when his companions snickered. "But I am sure of it this time. If not… you may hold it against me."

Without another word, the four companions rode along the path down the cliff leading to the city below. The blizzard would normally be a deterrent to any traveler but not to him. On the contrary, it gave him more of a drive to press on and nothing, not even an entire division of the Empire's elite Special Forces, would get in his or his companions' way.
***

A rapping on the door could only mean one thing to Zheng Yi at this time of night; he or his wife had somehow offended the Empire. Nodding curtly at his wife Ling to leave the hallway, he turned on the entryway light and opened the door. To his surprise, these were not military police, but four men in identical white jackets. He surveyed them in bewilderment as to why four regular men - well into their middle ages - were out at all in this weather, let alone at his house.

"Can I help you, gentlemen?" Zheng asked them.

"Mr. Yi," the enormous man in the center said, taking Zheng aback. How did he know his name? Could these men have been Guoanbu agents? What would they want with a poor fisherman like him? "We've come on very important business, but it's too dangerous to talk about it here. May we come in?" Blinking in confusion, Zheng moved aside to let the men inside, and as custom dictated, they removed their boots.

Zheng's home was decent enough for his income. He motioned for them to the comfortable living room where flames crackled merrily in the fireplace. Ling, who had been in there reading a book on a Cabbage tablet computer, looked up with an expression to match her husband's. "Uh, hello. May I take your coats?" The tall man, the apparent leader of the group, waved her down politely when Zheng could not hold back anymore.

"I don't mean to be rude, but who are you?" He strode into the living room and sat beside his wife. "Please, have a seat." He nodded at the sofa across from theirs and the four visitors sat down.

"We are members of the Order of the White Lotus," said the man on the right. Judging by the arrow tattooed on his forehead, this was an Airbending master. Zheng and Ling exchanged glances, a feeling of dread coursing through them. "We've been traveling across the land searching far and wide for five years now, and our friend led us here."

"And what are you searching for?" Ling asked cautiously even though Zheng had no doubt that she knew their reason for being there. The Water Tribesman leaned forward, looking them directly in the eye.

"May we see your daughter?"

Their worst fears had been confirmed, Zheng thought, feeling as though his insides had turned to ice. "W – We don't have a daughter," he stammered. "We never had any children. It was a stillbirth." It was no use. The visitors knew he was lying.

The tall leader of the group stood up, lowering his hood and unzipping his jacket to reveal a blue robe with the White Lotus symbol placed in the center. "My name is Liu Beifong," he announced with pride in his green eyes. "I am humbly asking to meet your child." At loss for words, the couple gaped at the men. Taking his wife's hand in his, Zheng nodded and Ling stood up to leave the room.

"Are you… here for what I-" Zheng stopped short. He could not bring himself to say the words. His own little girl could not be…

"We'll find out soon, sir," said Liu grimly

"What makes you think it's her?"

"Your family's history," said Liu. "Your great, great, great grandfather was the one who-"

"Convicted Firelord Ozai and the other top Fire Nation war criminals in the International Military Tribunal," Zheng finished. "I know, I was named after him. Coincidentally, he was also married to a woman named Ling."

"Your family's always been associated among the Earth people with justice and peace, especially here in Qing."

"But did you check Zaofu, Omashu, Ba Sing Se?" Zheng sounded so desperate. "Your own family has much more of a history with..."

"We have," said Liu. "Believe me. The doctor who delivered your daughter; he's one of us. You wonder why he didn't accept your bribe to keep his silence, that he seemed too willing not to tell the Empire?"

"Yeah, Dr. Nakamura even showed up at our house a few months later to administer her vaccines. We…" Zheng's voice trailed off as footsteps approached the living room. Ling had returned with a little girl in her arms, whose head lay sleepily against her mother's shoulder, Ling cradling the back of her head. She was a tiny little thing with a long, slightly tousled mane of sleek black hair and bright brown eyes that matched her mother's. Zheng's daughter gazed at the strange men with the same confusion as her parents, giving a light sleepy moan as she snuggled closer to her mother.

Ling kissed the girl on her forehead before gently setting her on her feet and she stood leaning back against her. Liu stood up towering over the child, smiling warmly. It was almost laughable how short their daughter was compared to this giant man. She was not even a meter high and barely reached the middle of the Liu's thigh. The girl placed her left fist into her right palm and bowed to him. "Good evening, sweetie," said Liu quietly, returning the bow. He kneeled in front of her, and even in this position, he towered over the little girl. Now her head barely reached his solar plexus. "My name is Liu Beifong, what's yours?"

Much to Zheng's surprise, his daughter returned a sleepy smile, broke from Ling's embrace, and stepped closer to the man as though she had met him many times before. "Good evening, Mr. Beifong," she said fixing her hair as if to make it look more presentable to their guests. "My name's Lian, Lian Ming Yi. It's a honor to meet you; we hardly never have guests." Being only five, she could not quite be expected enunciate all her words properly or use proper grammar in her speech.

Liu gave a light chuckle. "What a pretty name for a pretty little girl." Lian smiled shyly and bowed low again in gratitude. "Okay, Lian, do you know what the symbol on my robe means?"

Lian's brow furrowed as Zheng walked over to his wife to wrap an arm around her. "The White Lotus, but… why are you here?" Zheng's heart sank as he absentminded held Ling tighter. They had never told Lian about the White Lotus. They never so much as allowed her to go out into the public. As if reading their minds, Liu spoke again.

"Do you know why your parents never allowed you to leave the house?" he asked, placing his huge hand on her shoulder. Lian bent her head sadly, her curtain of raven hair hiding her face.

"They don't want the Empire to take me away, Mr. Beifong," she mumbled. "I'm an Earthbender, but I don't want to be a soldier! I don't want to go away and have to kill people!" She broke down crying, her shoulders shuddering with each sob. With a commiserating sigh, Liu took her in his arms and rubbed her back. "I... I hate th-the... I hate the Emperor!" she cried into his chest while Zheng and Ling could only watch them helplessly. "I hate him! I hate him so much!"

"Shh... I know," Liu whispered, cradling her head to his chest and stroked her hair softly. "We all hate him, sweetheart, and that is why we want to talk to you." Lian's cries subsided and she pulled away from Liu, wiping her eyes to rid away the remnants of her tears. "Please, come and let's sit down, this is very important."

Lian wordlessly obeyed, taking Liu by the hand and leading him to the fireplace. "You and your friends should all sit by the fire," she said. "It's awfully cold outside, you all are probably freezing! Did Mommy and Daddy get you tea? I can make some. Or how about some baijiu*? Daddy likes a big glass of baijiu after fishing in the ocean in the winter. You'll get warm right away." She said this all really fast.

"Thank you, Lian," said Liu smiling, "but we're fine, and we really shouldn't be drinking something so strong when we have a long journey ahead of us. We will take your offer of sitting by the fireplace though." Once they were both seated, Liu's three companions joined them.

"These are my friends, Xing Li Han," Liu gestured at a black haired man with kind golden eyes. "He's a Firebending master." Liu then nodded at the shortest man of the group (though he was still pretty tall), a thin man with a brown complexion, long dark brown hair tied into a wolf tail and a few thin braids. Like most Water Tribesmen, his eyes were a deep blue. Even if the man was old enough to be Lian's grandfather, she found him to be incredibly handsome. "This is Hiroyuki Sato," said Liu and the Waterbender recoiled instantly.

"My name," he said with narrowed eyes, "is Hiro. Only my mother and wife may call me Hiroyuki, and only when they're angry at me." He turned with a mock glare to Lian. "You understand, kid? My name's Hiro. If you ever call me 'Hiroyuki', I'll Waterbend your butt over the horizon." He winked at Lian who giggled.

"Okay, Mr. Sato," she replied.

"There you go making me feel old, kid," he said in mock offense.

"And lastly," Liu interjected impatiently, "Kunal Patel. He's an Airbending master and our doctor." The Airbender nodded at Lian with a kind smile.

Lian and her parents, however, were still focused on Hiro. "Sato?" said Ling. "Do you mean-"

"Yeah," Hiro confirmed. "Korra and Asami were my grandmothers." He turned to smile kindly at Lian. "And if you're who we think you are, then... well, I hope to get to know you a lot better, little Miss Yi."

Lian looked slightly confused as Kunal lowered his hood to fully reveal his arrow tattoo, removed his traveling bag, and placed it in front of Lian.

What are you doing?" said Zheng, finally able to speak as the Airbender unzipped the bag.

"A few tests," Kunal replied. "No worries, Mr. Yi." How could he tell them not to worry? If Zheng was correct, they were about to place an extremely heavy burden on his daughter. Kunal reached into the bag and pulled out three items: a shiny black stone, a plastic flying disc, and a small bottle of water. Lian looked up at him in curiosity. "Now, Lian," said Kunal. "What we're going to do is give you a few simple tests."

She silently stared at Liu who obligingly explained, "First, Lian, I want you to close your eyes and focus on the stone." She shifted her gaze to the beautiful shiny stone and closed her eyes tightly. "Very good, kiddo," Liu praised. "Now I want you to concentrate hard and imagine the stone in your mind. Make sure it's a strong imagination." He waited for a moment. "Are you seeing the stone in your imagination?"

"Yes!" Lian squealed in excitement.

Liu laughed and ruffled her soft hair. "Very good," he praised. Under normal circumstances, Zheng and his wife would've been very uncomfortable with a stranger touching their daughter, but somehow, they felt that they could trust these men. Lian somehow seemed as though she felt a connection to the giant Earthbender, and both her parents could feel that this was not simple childhood naïveté, but genuine trust. "Now I want you to put your arms out in front of you and make claws with your fingers like a tigerdillo." She followed Liu's instructions; even making a roar that under other circumstances would make her parents laugh. "Now you're going to have to concentrate very hard," said Liu seriously, "and imagine the stone circling slowly above your head three times. Then imagine it falling gently to the floor."

Scrunching her little face in concentration, Lian stretched out her arms, curling her fingers like claws and raising them above her head. The stone floated above her like a feather, circling three times before it dropped onto her lap. Her eyes shot open and the adults in the room applauded.

"Very good, Lian!" Ling praised, kissing her head. "Your first time Earthbending!"

However, Lian looked uncertain. "But the stone fell."

"It's okay," Liu assured her, patting her back. "You'll get better."

Once the applause died down, Xing made his way to her. "Now, Miss Yi, I'd like you to turn to the fireplace and close your eyes again." The room fell silent once again. "I now want you to take some deep breaths. In through your nose," he and Lian inhaled. "And out through your mouth." They both exhaled. "Now, when you breathe, I want you to slowly and gently flap your arms like wings. In... out... in... out..."

The world around Zheng seemed to disappear as he could only watch his daughter slowly breathing and flapping her arms. The flames in the fireplace slowly began to rise, and then suddenly, the flames shot up the chimney sending a wave of heat sweeping across the living room. Though she had her back to Zheng, he knew Lian's shocked eyes were fixed on the fireplace.

"Did…" Lian said in a barely audible tone. "D-Did I… Firebend?" She looked up at Liu who was now looking at her seriously as he stroked his goatee.

"We must continue," he told her firmly. "Please go to the other side of the room."

With trepidation, Lian ran across the living room in front of her parents who both placed their hands on her shoulders. Kunal bent down and grabbed the disc. "I'm going to throw this to you, little one. I want you to send it back here without touching it! Ready?" She nodded, lifting her left hand in a chopping motion. "One, two, three… go!" He hurled the disc towards the nervous Lian who chopped at the air, sending the disc flying back at the man who deftly caught it.

Nobody applauded this time, only standing there focused on the little girl. Lian slowly made her way back to Liu who grinned approvingly. As if she knew what was next, she sat back on the floor as Hiro kneeled in front of her, opening the water bottle. He tipped the bottle over, spilling some water onto the floor.

"The last thing we want you to do, Lian," said Hiro, "is close your eyes again, put your hands over the water, and pretend you are swimming, but don't touch the water with your hands." This time, she did not even spare him a nod. She only shut her eyes and mimed swimming to the best of her abilities, sending drops of water flying into the furniture. Zheng could not even bear to meet his daughter's eyes as she stood up, looking around at each adult in the room.

The members of the White Lotus rose to their feet, standing side by side in front of Lian. "It's our greatest honor to serve you," said Liu as he and his three friends bowed to her, "Avatar Lian." It was only hearing those words that had finally caused something to snap in Zheng and Ling.

"Now just a minute, Beifong!" barked Zheng. "Lian's only five! She's a child!"

"You will not use her to fight in your war!" added Ling, striding over to Lian and pulling her daughter to her side protectively. The visitors gave them sympathetic glances that made Zheng want to kill them. "Our daughter is an innocent little girl, not cannon fodder for your fruitless rebellion!"

The legendary Beifong temper that Liu had been holding back was finally lost. "Fruitless rebellion?" he repeated, his voice rising with each syllable. "Cannon fodder? Is that what you really think?" Ling opened her mouth to retort, but Liu cut across her, now yelling at the top of his lungs. "Do you understand that the entire world's been waiting, no, praying for the Avatar's return? Your daughter's our only hope!"

"So you're just going to take our daughter away from us regardless of our approval?" Ling shrieked back furiously. "We, her parents, get no say in the matter? Over my dead body!"

"Stop it," said Lian quietly.

"What's the alternative then, Mrs. Yi?" Liu retorted, throwing out his arms in rage. "You plan on just imprisoning her here in this house for the rest of her life like it's still the Hundred-Year War and you must shamefully hide your child that society is shunning in order to save face?"

"How dare you insinuate such a-" Zheng snapped but was cut off by an angry voice.

"Stop it!" All eyes turned to Lian, angry tears filling her eyes. "Just stop it, all of you!" Zheng felt his heart sinking at the sight of his daughter in this state, guilt coursing through his body. "Mommy, Daddy," she said firmly to her parents. "I know you want me stay home 'cause you love me and you're scared, but…" Tears began to silently fall down her face as she continued to speak quietly, as though she were really speaking to herself rather than her parents. "But I gotta to go with Mr. Beifong and his friends, I just... I gotta. The Emperor can't keep taking bender kids away and grow them up to kill people he hates. He can't keep doing whatever he wants because it is just… it's wrong! He's doing terrible things to the world. If I'm the Avatar, I have to stop bad people like him."

Both Zheng and Ling dropped to their knees, hugging onto Lian tighter than ever. How could they have been so selfish? Like it or not, they had to let her go. They both knew their daughter was special and sooner than they could have hoped, they found out why. How many more families would have to be broken before Donghai would be satisfied? How many more people would have to die?

"We're going with her," Ling insisted but knew from the strangers' faces that this was not possible.

"We can't risk that," said Xing. "Traveling in large groups is dangerous and the Empire knows you're here. If you disappeared from your work, they'll suspect rebellion. Who knows what they'll do to Qing if you leave? But, we can arrange for you to see her sometimes. The maximum we can arrange is once a year for a few weeks each time, but we can't promise anything, Mrs. Yi."

"In that case," Zheng whispered in defeat, rubbing his daughter's back. "Let us just have a moment with our little girl. Just give us an hour with her, that's all we ask. Just one more hour."

"That's fine."

"Just swear to me one thing, Mr. Beifong," aid Ling sounding on the verge of tears as she hugged Lian from the side and rested her head on Zheng's shoulder. "Swear on the graves of your ancestors. Swear to us that you'll always protect our daughter no matter what. Guard her with your life all the way to end, until she's… ready to face her destiny. Swear that you'll raise Lian; that you'll love her and protect her as if she were your own."

"I swear it," said Liu with a firm nod. Turning to Lian, he said, "We'll wait here, sweetie, and I'm very sorry, I hate to have to make you hurry, but we need to leave under cover of darkness and be far away from any cities, towns, or villages before morning. Take only what you need. We have a coat for you, so you don't need to worry about that and we have food and water for three days."

"Okay," said Lian, leaning against her father's shoulder as he picked her up. Ling gently stroked her cheek. "I'll be ready to go soon."

Liu nodded as Lian and her parents out of the living room, breaking down in tears once again. Another family broken by the Empire, the White Lotus members bitterly thought.
***

Lian had always loved the snow. It was almost magical the way the snowflakes would fly around and then cover the world in a pure white sheet. She rode dressed in a heavy white winter jacket with Mr. Beifong on his ostrich horse, watching the whitened landscape in a fascination one could only find in a child. It was only after she left home and they had made it into the wilderness that she realized that this man was the grandson of Bolin and Opal and… wow! By the Spirits! He was the great great grandson of her favorite Earthbender in the world, Toph Beifong! As soon as Mommy and Daddy told her that she was an Earthbender, she wanted be like the powerful hero from her bedtime stories. Little Lian swore to herself at that moment that she would be like Toph one day. She would be the greatest Earthbender of all time and she would make sure that the evil Emperor would pay for everything he did to the world. He would pay for all the people he had killed, for all the benders he was using as slaves so he could control the world. Even if Lian would have to kill him herself, he would pay big time!

"Where are we going, Mr. Beifong?" Lian asked, lowering her hood so she could feel the cold yet refreshing wind on her face, her long black hair flying behind her.

"We're going to a faraway place where benders like you and me can live and practice our bending safely, my little snow flower," said Mr. Beifong, wrapping his arms tightly around her torso as she opened her mouth to catch snowflakes on her tongue. Now that was an odd nickname, Lian thought. It was odd, but she really liked it. "It's time for you to take the first step in becoming the Avatar. I'm going to teach you Earthbending."

Lian sprang around, her face lighting up excitedly. "You are?" A Beifong was going to be her Earthbending master? She would be a great Earthbender like Toph; she could hardly believe it!

"Absolutely," he confirmed and pressed his thumb on the tip her nose affectionately. "Then you'll learn fire, then air, and then water."

"And then will I have to fight the Emperor?" Lian asked excitedly as she stroked the side of the ostrich horse's neck.

"War is not fun and games, little one," Dr. Patel said with a grimace and Lian gave him an offended scowl as he continued to speak. "It's a very terrible thing and has to be taken very seriously. I hope the Emperor falls before you have to experience war."

"I know it's not fun and games!" she yelled. "I am taking it seriously! I just want to make everything back to good again, Doctor, I'm the Avatar..." Lian's voice trailed sadly as she turned to face forward, continuing to stroke the ostrich horse's neck.

"Hey," Mr. Beifong replied, once again stroking her hair. "I'm going to train you hard like my Great Grandma Suyin trained me, but I still want you to be a kid. There are other children there and you will have the chance to make friends and play."

"Okay," said Lian, not sure what to think.

"But make no mistake, kiddo," Mr. Beifong laughed. "I'm a very, very, very, very, very tough master. Even though I want you to play and have fun, I still expect you to practice hard, focus on your Earthbending, and listen to everything I teach you because as my friend here said, war has to be taken very seriously. We want our Avatar to be strong and ready when the time comes."

"Okay," Lian replied, fully intending to listen to everything Mr. Beifong told her. "Dr. Patel, Mr. Han, Mr. Sato?" The other men turned to her smiling. "Are you going to teach me Airbending, Firebending, and Waterbending?" The three men laughed good-naturedly. Despite Lian being a little annoyed that Dr. Patel did not think she understood war, she still liked him, Mr. Beifong, Mr. Sato, and Mr. Han. All these White Lotus men were very nice to her.

"No, little one," said Dr. Patel. "As the Avatar, only the best of the best masters should teach you. I am not worthy enough to teach the Avatar."

"When you turn sixteen," Mr. Han added, "you will be a full grown young woman and you'll begin your journey to learn the other elements. I believe nobody should teach you Firebending, your next element, but the Crimson Dragon - ah, he's not an actual dragon, sweetheart," he clarified upon seeing the excited look on Lian's face. She responded with a slightly disappointed sigh. "However, he's the leader of the Restoration and the best damn Firebender to ever live after the great Firelord Shinji thousands of years ago. He wants all the nations of the world to be free and independent, and I know he's going to be very happy to have you fighting for the Restoration."

"The Restoration?" Lian repeated, confused.

"It's a network of people who want what you want," Mr. Sato replied, as Mr. Beifong continued to hold her tightly with his arm. "We want to restore peace and balance to the world. We want families to stay together. We want nobody to live in fear of any government or anybody else who would take away the fundamental freedoms and human rights from others. People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people. In order to do this, we must defeat the Empire, but all in good time, sweetie." Lian let out a yawn as he spoke. "I will teach you Waterbending when you're ready. I need to return to headquarters since I'm one of the Restoration's leaders, so after we get you safely to the valley, I'll be leaving."

"Oh," Lian responded sadly. "Before you go, can you tell me a little bit about Avatar Korra, please?"

Mr. Sato looked at her for a moment and then laughed. "Sure thing, gran-gran."

Lian's jaw dropped. "I'm only five! How can I be your gran-gran?"

"You were in your last life," laughed Mr. Sato, winking at her and making her giggle.

"He can tell you all you want about Korra in good time, my little snow flower," said Mr. Beifong smoothing her hair. "But now, my young pupil, your first assignment is to call me 'Master Liu' from now on and your second is to get some sleep. We've got a long way to go, so I want you to be strong for tomorrow. I'll tell you what, if you get a good night's sleep, we'll begin learning Earthbending after breakfast tomorrow. That's a promise."

That was an exciting idea, but Lian was way too sleepy to really think about anything else. "Okay, Master Liu," she murmured, put her hood back on, and settled her head into his stomach. Master Liu held her tightly with his strong arm the same way her parents did when she was scared or sad. It made Lian sad thinking about how she would have to leave Mommy and Daddy, so as if to remind herself of their comforting hugs and kisses, she began to softly sing Daddy's favorite song, Mo Li Hua*. He was very proud of the old Earth Federation and the history of their country before the evil Emperor took over, thus he and Mommy would always sing what they called "folk songs" about it before bedtime. Daddy often told Lian about the history of their country all the way back to before Avatar Kyoshi, and learning about how great the land was had made Lian love her country as much as her parents did. She would free her beloved Earth Federation as well as every other nation the Empire took over!

Too sleepy to keep singing, Lian let out a yawn as Master Liu continued the song quietly. She was soon lulled to sleep just as Master Liu placed a kiss on her forehead. The hours passed on, darkness giving way to light seeping through the cracks in the clouds as the five travelers pressed on.

* Republic City's new name after it was rebuilt. It's Mandarin for "Central Capital". Obviously taken from Beijing (Northern Capital) and Nanjing (Southern Capital). It can't be called "Republic City" anymore because the "Republic" part of the United Republic of Nations has been changed to "Empire" and to be perfectly honest, "Empire City" sounds kinda dumb. Sorghum wine, really strong stuff.

* Mo Li Hua is a Chinese folk song that translates to "Jasmine Flower". It's featured in the episode, "City of Walls and Secrets".

* Guoanbu is an abbreviation of Gònghéguó Guójiā Ānquánbù, the Chinese Ministry of State Security or to put it bluntly, the secret police agency.

A/N: Yes, I did make a Pokémon reference even if I don't like the franchise at all. Yes, a big, tough Beifong has a soft spot for little kids, but we'll see how that changes when she's a teenager. As for the technology, I was originally going to go cyberpunk but I decided to have it like we do in our world nowadays. Before anyone asks, yes, Liu's tests were based on the ones in the-movie-that-shall-not-be-named. It wasn't all crap, just 99.9%. Lastly, no this will not be Star Wars: The Avatar Edition. And yes, Cabbage is that world's version of Apple.
8
Misc. Topics and Games / Re: You Can Now Buy a Real D-Day Tank
« Last post by Lionheart on September 16, 2016, 10:35:34 PM »
I think the we use Abrams. Israel uses Merkavas.
9
Misc. Topics and Games / Re: You Can Now Buy a Real D-Day Tank
« Last post by wherewulf on September 16, 2016, 10:13:48 PM »
Yeah, I figured you'd go with something "homemade". :D

I looked around here in the US to find a Sherman tank for years, and I didn't find one til 1998--and that one I found in Portsmouth, England.  :D  Of course, that was at the "dawn" of the Internet, so it'd be a lot easier for me to find a Sherman closer to me nowadays.
10
Misc. Topics and Games / Re: You Can Now Buy a Real D-Day Tank
« Last post by Lionheart on September 16, 2016, 06:29:24 PM »
I'll have that as my personal everyday vehicle. For my... work, I'll go with the latest Merkava. XD
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