Chapter Thirteen: The Drill

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Chapter Thirteen: The Drill By Avatar: The Last Airbender

Act I

War Minister Qin: This drill is a feat of scientific ingenuity and raw destructive power. Once it tunnels through the wall, our troops will storm their city. The Earth kingdom will finally fall, and you can claim Ba Sing Se in the name of your father. Nothing can stop us.
Ty Lee: Hmm. What about those muscle-y guys down there?

War Minister Qin: Please, the drill’s metal shell is impervious to any earthbending attack.
Azula: Oh, I’m sure it is War Minister Qin. But just to be on the safe side… Mai, and Ty Lee, take the earthbenders out!
Mai: Finally, something to do.

Katara: Aang, what are you doing here? I thought you were looking for Appa?
Aang: I was, but something stopped me. Something big.

Sokka: Now what’s so big that Appa has to wait?
Aang: That.

(The camera pans way back to show both the wall and the approaching Drill, then to an aerial view showing the massive machine flanked by eight tanks on either side.

Cut to Aang and the rest peering out over the top of the outer wall, down toward the Fire Nation forces.)

Ying: We made it to Ba Sing Se, and we’re still not safe. No one is.
Earthbender Guard: What are you people doing here? Civilians aren’t allowed on the wall.
Aang: I’m the Avatar. Take me to whoever’s in charge.

General Sung: It is an honor to welcome you to the outer wall young Avatar, but your help is not needed.
Aang: Not needed?
General Sung: Not needed. I have the situation under control. I assure you the Fire Nation cannot penetrate this wall. Many have tried to break through it, but none have succeeded.

(The general rises as he speaks, leading the group back out towards an open area of the wall manned by soldiers standing near large stacks of boulders. We are shown an aerial view of the outer wall. Nothing lies beyond the outer face but barren wastes, while a patchwork of fertile fields grow behind it.

Cut to scene of the general gazing contentedly out over the inward face of the wall, the heroes standing behind him.)

Toph: What about the Dragon of the West? He got in.
General Sung: Well…uh…technically yes. But he was quickly expunged. Nevertheless, that is why the city is named Ba Sing Se. It’s the impenetrable city. They don’t call it Na Sing Se. That means penetrable city.
Toph: Yeah, thanks for the tour, but we still got the drill problem.
General Sung: Not for long. To stop it, I’ve sent an elite platoon of earthbenders called the Terra Team.
Sokka: That’s a good group name, very catchy.

Terra Team Leader: Ready… Attack!

General Sung: We’re doomed!
Sokka: Get a hold of yourself man!
General Sung: You’re right, I’m sorry.
Toph: Maybe you’d like the Avatar’s help now?
General Sung: Yes, please.

Aang: The question is, how are we gonna stop that thing?
Sokka: Why are you all looking at me?
Aang: You’re the idea guy.
Sokka: So I’m the only one who can ever come up with a plan? That’s a lot of pressure.
Katara: And also the complaining guy.
Sokka: That part I don’t mind.

Customs Lady: So, Mr. Lee, and Mr…. umm Mushy is it?
Iroh: It’s pronounced Moo-shee.
Customs Lady: You telling me how to do my job?
Iroh: Uh, no no no. But may I just say that you’re like a flower in bloom, your beauty intoxicating.
Customs Lady: You’re pretty easy on the eyes yourself handsome. Raorrr. Welcome to Ba Sing se.
Zuko: I’m gonna forget I saw that.

Jet: I think Lee would make a good Freedom Fighter. He’s just trying to find his way in the world, like us.
Smellerbee:You don’t know anything about him Jet.
Jet: I know he didn’t get that scar from a waterbender.
Smellerbee: Besides, I thought we were going straight now?
Jet: We are, and the new Freedom Fighters could use a guy like Lee. What do you think Longshot?
Longshot: …
Jet: I can respect that.

General Sung: What’s wrong with him? He doesn’t look injured.
Katara: His Chi is blocked. Who did this to you?
Terra Team Soldier: Two girls ambushed us, one of them hit me with a bunch of quick jabs, and suddenly I couldn’t earthbend, and I could barely move…and then she cart wheeled away.
Katara: Ty Lee. She doesn’t look dangerous, but she knows the human body and it’s weak points. It’s like she takes you down from the inside.
Sokka: (an idea suddenly hits him and he begins gesturingwildly Ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo!
Katara: Yes?
Sokka: What you just said, that’s how we’re gonna take down the Drill. The same way Ty Lee took down all these big earthbenders.
Toph: By hitting its pressure points!
Aang: We’ll take it down from the inside.

Act II

Toph: Once I whip up some cover, you’re not gonna be able to see, so stay close to me.

Toph: Run!

Ty Lee: Hey, look at that dust cloud. It’s so…poofy. Poof!
War Minister Qin: Don’t worry Princess. I’m sure it’s nothing.

Toph: Everyone into the hole!

Sokka: It’s so dark down here, I can’t see a thing.
Toph: Oh no, what a nightmare.
Sokka: Sorry.

Sokka: There!

Sokka: Toph, Come on!
Toph: No way am I going in that metal monster. I can’t bend in there. I’ll try to slow it down out here.
Sokka: Okay, good luck.

(Outside, Toph tries unsuccessfully to stop the forward movement of the Drill by bending up an outcropping of stone, but both Toph and the brace are pushed along by the unstoppable force of the Drill’s progress.

Cut to the Drill’s inner corridors, where Sokka leads the others through a red-lit area of pipes and valves.

Sokka: I need a plan of this machine. Some schematics that show what the inside looks like. Then we can find it’s weak points.
Aang: Where are we gonna get something like that What are you doing! Someone’s gonna hear us!

Sokka: That’s the point. I figure a machine this big needs engineers to run it, and when something breaks…
Katara: They come to fix it.

Katara: Hi.

Sokka: This’ll work, thanks!

(He runs off, leaving the engineer standing helplessly, eventually dropping the wrench in his other hand.

Cut to Sokka leading the others up metal stairs, stopping to unroll the plans across a large pipe.)

Sokka: It looks like the Drill is made up of two main structures. There’s the inner mechanism, where we are now, and the outer shell. The inner part and the outer part are connected by these braces. If we cut through them, the entire thing will collapse.

(Both Aang and Katara nod in agreement and they all race off-screen.

Cut to debarkation point for Ba Sing Se, which resembles a large stone train station. People are milling about in groups, and the scene shifts to Zuko and Iroh, who are seated with arms crossed at a waiting area. Jet casually sits down next to Zuko.

Jet: So, you guys got plans once you’re inside the city?
Tea Peddler: Get your hot tea here! Finest tea in Ba Sing Se!

Iroh: Oh! Jasmine, please. Blaugh! Ugh. Coldest tea in Ba Sing Se is more like it. What a disgrace!
Jet: Hey, can I talk to you for a second?

Jet: You and I have a much better chance of making it in the city if we stick together. You want to join the Freedom Fighters?
Zuko: Thanks, but I don’t think you want me in your gang.
Jet: Come on, we made a great team looting that Captain’s food. Think of all the good we could do for these refugees.
Zuko: I said no.
Jet: Have it your way.

(Jet focuses in on the seated Iroh, who is carefully enjoying the tea now steaming vigorously in his cup. Jet suddenly bristles and his eyes open wide in shock, realizing what he is seeing. Reaching Iroh, Zuko looks back toward Jet, who now wears a look of hostile suspicion on his face. Jet turns and walks off.

Watching Jet leave, Zuko abruptly turns and dashes the cup of tea from his uncle’s hand.)

Iroh: Hey!
Zuko: What are you doing firebending your tea?! For a wise old man, that was a pretty stupid move.
Iroh: I know you’re not supposed to cry over spilled tea, but… that’s so sad.

Sokka: Wow, it looks a lot thicker in person than it does in the plans. We’re going to have to work pretty hard to cut through that.
Katara: What’s this we stuff? Aang and I are going to have to do all the work.
Sokka: Look, I’m the plan guy, You two are the “cut stuff up with waterbending” guys. Together, we’re Team Avatar!

Sokka: C’mon team, don’t quit now, we’re…
Katara: Grrrrrr!
Sokka: I mean, you’re almost there.

Katara: At this rate, we won’t do enough damage before the drill reaches the wall.
Aang: I don’t know how many more of those I have in me.

Sokka: Do you hear that We took it down. We better get out of here fast!

War Minister Qin: Congratulations crew, the Dill has made contact with the wall of Ba Sing Se.

Start the countdown to victory!

Azula is shown with an unreadable expression on her face, Followed by the Drill’s titanic bit penetrating into the surface of the outer wall.)


Sokka: C’mon brace, budge!

Katara: This is bad, really bad.
Sokka: Were putting everything we’ve got into busting these braces, but it’s taking too long!
Aang: Maybe we don’t need to cut all the way through. Toph has been teaching me that you shouldn’t give 100% of your energy into any one strike. Sokka, take a fighting stance.You’ve gotta be quick and accurate. Hit a series of points, and break your opponent’s stance. And when he’s reeling back, you deliver the final blow. His own weight becomes his downfall. Literally.
Katara: So we just need to weaken the braces, instead of cut all the way through.
Aang: Then I’ll go to the top of this thing, and deliver the final blow.
Sokka: And boom, it all comes crashing down!
Aang: Everyone inside that wall, the whole world, is counting on us.
Sokka: The whole world, minus the Fire Nation that is.

(Sokka grins, while others look on exasperated.

Cut to the underside of the Drill, where Toph still struggles mightily to slow its advance with a stone brace, which merely results in a pile of loose earth growing behind her feet as both she and the brace are drug along.)

Toph: C’mon twinkle toes, hurry up!

Aang: That’s enough, we need to get to the next one!

Speaking Tube 1: War Minister, an engineer was ambushed! His schematics were stolen!
Speaking Tube 2: War Minister, a brace on the starboard side has been cut clean through! It’s sabotage sir!
Azula: Let’s go ladies.

Sokka: Good work Team Avatar. Now Aang just needs to… DUCK!

Aang: Whoa!
Ty Lee: Wow Azula, you were right, it is the Avatar! … and friends.
Sokka: Hey.

Aang: Guys get out of here, I know what I need to do.
Katara: Wait! You need this water more than I do!

Azula: Follow them, the Avatar is mine.

Katara: Slurry pipeline What does that mean?
Sokka: It’s rock and water mixed together, it means our way out.

Mai: Ughh, disgusting!
Ty Lee: Come on, you heard Azula.We have to follow them.
Mai: She can shoot all the lightning she wants at me, I am not going in that wall sludge juice.

(Mai shudders. Ty Lee hops down into the slurry flow, sending up a great spash that narrowly misses Mai. With a final expression of disgust Mai slams closed the slurry hatch.

Cut to scene of Aang racing through the Drill’s engineering section with airbending speed, past engineers who barely detect him through their respirator masks. Aang finally races up a long ladder toward the Drill’s surface.

Cut to an overview of the Drill showing a large pool of slurry starting to form at its rear. Screaming with fear, Sokka and Katara ride the cascade of slurry out the rear spout of the Drill, sliding to a halt in the grayish ooze.

Sokka tries to wipe the revolting stuff off of his tongue, pounds his fists into the slurry in disgust. Ty Lee emerges from pipe exhaust, riding waist deep in the slurry flow with a look of wicked anticipation on her face. Just as she is about to reach the ground, Katara bends back the rush of slurry, pinning Ty Lee at the terminus of the pipe.)

Katara: Why don’t you try blocking my chi now circus freak!
Sokka: Katara, keep that up. The pressure will build up in the drill, then when Aang delivers the final blow, it will be ready to pop!

Aang: This looks like a good spot Momo. Aggh!

Aang: General Sung, tell your soldiers to stop shooting rocks down here!
General Sung: Soldiers, whatever you do, don’t stop shooting rocks down there!

(Sung draws his hands up to his face in distress, while the row of benders next to him release another volley of boulders.

Below, Aang vaults past this new wave of stones, and as he lands, begins rapidly scything the surface of the drill with the water Katara gave to him. The camera pans the entire length of the Drill. At its rear, Katara continues to block the pipe’s exhaust with a slurry ball containing Ty Lee.)

Sokka: Good technique little sister! Keep it up! Don’t forget to breathe!
Katara: You know, I am just about sick and tired of you telling me what to do all day. You’re like a chattering Hog-Monkey!
Sokka: Just bend the slurry woman!!

Toph: You guys need some help?
Katara: Toph, help me plug up this drain!

(Bracing her muddy legs she coordinates with Katara, driving the slurry-plug even further up the pipe. Switching to an internal view of the Drill, we see the slurry pipe system begin to buckle and swell under the pressure.

Cut back to the front of the Drill, where fountains of slurry begin to jet where the Drill meets the wall. Nearby Aang continues to rapidly cut away at the outer hull in an X pattern.)

Aang: What I’d give to be a metal bender.

Aang: Momo, get out of here!

(Momo flies off as Aang assumes a stance.

The camera follows Azula’s shadow to Azula herself, as she readies a stance with a look of steady confidence, then back to Aang who looks nowhere near as sure of himself. It pulls back to show the two benders facing off about a dozen yards apart atop the Drill. Azula begins by launching a ball of fire at Aang, who ducks and simultaneously sends an arc of wind towards her. Leaping over the windblast, Azula once again attacks, but is forced to counter a rapid series of water-whips that keep slapping away her attack gestures. Leaping into the air, Azula delivers a pair of flying firebending kicks that completely vaporize the water Aang was bending sending him spinning back. She is prevented from pressing the attack however, as another barrage of boulders from above force both of them to dodge. Aang catches one of the boulders with bending, sending it hurtling at Azula who falls into a split to avoid it, rises, and launches another fire blast. Aang earthbends pieces of debris into a protective wall, then punches chunks of it toward Azula. Kicking them out of the air, she launches a sweeping counter blast which barely misses Aang’s head, who responds by punching an even larger chunk towards her. Vaulting into the air, Azula executes an incredible forward spinning double-kick fire blast, obliterating his defensive wall and hurtling him backwards to slam against the outer wall.

Readying another attack, Azula pauses as she sees the Avatar drop to his knees and slump forward unconscious. Aang is seen from above sprawled against the Drill’s hull. Azula is jarred by the forward advance of the drill, and the massive bit is shown bursting through the other side of the outer wall. Cuts to an overview showing the great Drill piercing completely through the wall, then back to a shot of Aang being slowly pulled underneath the walls exterior by the forward progress of the Drill. Azula grabs him by the back of his collar and presses him upright against the wall. Aang slowly begins to rouse, and the camera switches to Aang’s point of view as we see a blurry Azula preparing to deliver the final blow. Closeup of Aang’s eye snapping open in alarm, then his right hand cracking open the surface of the wall and surrounding itself with a mitt of broken rock. He catches Azula’s fire punch in the rock mitt and shoves her far back with it, her steel shod boots sparking against the Drill’s hull. Aang strikes a defiant earthbending stance as Azula charges towards him, both hands ablaze.

The battle is suddenly interrupted by a blast of slurry that erupts at the point where the Drill meets the wall, throwing Aang from his feet before surging out to crash against the onrushing Azula. Aang flails about trying to regain his feet, and just manages to make it to his knees before Azula, arms windmilling, skates helplessly through the slop to send them both careening into the wall. Knocked momentarily senseless, they both slide face-first through the slurry and away from the wall, diverging to slip down opposite sides of the Drill. Recovering, Azula tries to stop her descent using her hands and feet, her steel-toed boots sparking. She manages to stop herself midway down the side of the Drill, clutching at it precariously. Aang meanwhile slides down his back, his rock mitt breaking apart as he tries to stop himself with it. He is rescued by Momo, swooping down, catching the back of his collar and pulling him upright so that he can use his swift-running technique to regain the top of the Drill. Aang leaps back onto the back of the Drill, and Momo settles on his shoulder.)

Aang: Thanks Momo, I owe you one.

Aang: Now all I need is a… Actually, that is what I needed for once.

(Bending the boulder around to the incision, he begins a series of sweeping earthbending moves, each one slicing away a large chunk of the boulder. Eventually he is left with a large stone spike pointed down into the breach. Aang drops back, falls into a sprinter’s stance and starts running toward the wall. Nearing it he bends up a ball of air and leaps atop it, riding up the sheer face of the outer wall. As he rockets up the wall the ball dissipates, and Aang begins to run up the vertical face. As his momentum falls away, he turns and we see that Aang has nearly reached the top of the outer wall, the Drill far below him.

With a powerful shout Aang completes his turn and wind-sprints downward at a fantastic speed. Meanwhile, Azula having finally crawled back up to the top of the Drill, spots Aang streaking down face of the wall. With a shout, Aang leaps free of the wall and plunges downward, as we cut to Azula preparing a potent blast to intercept him. Her attack passes just over Aang’s head as he strikes the spike with incredible force. The explosive shockwave hurls a screaming Azula through the air as it travels the length of the Drill. Cut to the superstructure of the Drill, where we see weakened beams begin to shear in half as torrents of slurry rush past. Cut to an exterior view of the entire Drill, as a chain of slurry eruptions begin at the front segment and work their way towards the rear. Cut to Toph and Katara, still in bending stances, with Sokka standing behind them.)

Toph: Here it comes!

(As the rock pillar rises from the lake of slurry, a great rush of it issues from the exhaust spout. Ty Lee is washed up against the pillar, slammed against it and held there by the powerful current. Safe atop the pillar, Toph and the Water siblings watch as one by one the segments of the Drill slump to a stop, great clouds of steam rising from them. On the other side of the wall we see the massive bit slowly stop rotating. Cut to a high aerial view showing the remains of the steaming drill nearly submerged in slurry. Cut back to a mud-covered Aang standing atop of the stone spike, as the sun sets in the background.

Wiping the mud from his face, he reveals an enormous grin. Momo lands on his muddy shoulder and starts licking the slurry from his forehead. Cut to a view through the mud-covered windshield of the Drill command center. As the mud slides away it reveals War Minister Qin, standing with an expression of horror and amazement. In another shot we follow a long streak of mud that had exploded up the face of the wall. General Sung stands there completely covered in mud, as it drips away to reveal the pathetic expression on his face.

Cut to Ty Lee sitting up from the slurry pool, wiping clear her face, and spitting out a mouthful of mud in disgust. Azula slides down the back of the Drill, dropping down next to her and splashing her with a fresh layer of mud. Azula looks back to see a steaming hatch open in the rear of the drill, revealing a somber Mai.)

Mai: We lost.

Conductor: Last call for Ba Sing se!

Smellerbee: Jet, relax! So the old guy had some hot tea. Big deal.
Jet: He heated it himself! Those guys are firebenders.

(Cut to a scene of the train, showing Iron and Zuko boarding a car in the background, pulling back to show Jet, Smellerbee and Longshot watching them. Jet raises his collar and Longshot pulls down his hat as they attempt to look inconspicuous as they board a few cars down.

Cut to train car interior as Zuko and Iroh enter, where we see Than and family already seated. Zuko sits down with his arms crossed, still obviously angry. Iroh, sitting down between Zuko and Ying, glances at his nephew before leaning over and smiling at Ying. She is cradling a sleeping Hope in her lap while a grinning Than has his arm draped over her shoulders.)

Iroh: What a handsome baby.
Ying: Thank you.

(The camera closes in on Hope’s peacefully sleeping face while her mother beams over her.

Cut to a shot of the rear of the train, as two earthbenders begin to scoot it forward with a grinding noise. We follow the train out of the station. The scene cuts back to show the train traveling on a raised track over sunset lit fields.

Cut to a shot of Toph, Aang, Momo, Sokka and Katara watching the sun set over the barrens from atop the outer wall.)

Sokka: I just want to say, good effort out there today Team Avatar.
Katara: Enough with the Team Avatar stuff. No matter how many times you say it, it’s not gonna catch on.
Sokka: How about… the “Boomerang Squad!”, see it’s good cause it’s got “Aang” in it. (puts hand on Aang’s head Boomer-Aang.
Aang: I kinda like that one.
Katara: Let’s talk about this on our way into the city.

Sokka: The “Aang Gang”?
Katara: Sokka.
Sokka: The “Fearsome Foursome”?
Toph: You’re crazy.
Sokka: Why? We’re fearsome!

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