Chapter One


Where am I? Was her first thought when she woke. Her mind was feeling like sand, fuzzy… blurry. Weirder still was the cold metal she felt against her back. She brushed her knuckles against the ground. It didn't feel like iron… it didn't feel like any metal she had ever felt before. Actually worried now, she rolled onto all fours, slamming a palm against the metal.

Ignoring the sense of vertigo she could feel more. She could feel the boundaries of the room; the metal under her fingers was thin, barely even half the size of her pinkie. The surface was far smoother than she had ever felt too. But she could barely see further than an arm's length away without it getting blurry. Beneath her was empty space; she could only feel ropes of weird stuff lying in rows beneath the floor, she wasn't sure but she thought there was another sheath of metal bellow that.

Why can't I see properly, and why does it feel like someone banged a boulder over my head?

Toph put her feet beneath her, bracing herself for the wave of nausea she would feel, and stood up.

"Where am I?" she asked herself, burrowed her toes into the floor. Iron? It was iron. She could feel that now, but it was hard to bend, very hard to bend, she could almost not feel any impurities within it. Whoever made it must have been a master smith without equal. More worrying was why she was inside a room made of near unbendable metal?

She tapped her foot, worried when she couldn't get a good feel of the room again. She must have hit her head harder than she first thought as her touch must have been affected to some degree. But at least she could feel some oddity on the far wall. So that was where she was headed.

The closer she got the more curious she became over the oddity she could feel the image take shape sharper and sharper for every movement closer to it. Until she stood close enough to touch it. What she felt was out of this world, she did not even know what she was sensing, no doubt it was mechanical, but there was so many parts, most of it so foreign she couldn't even guess what it did, or what it was for.

Then out of nowhere she felt footsteps beyond the weird wall.

A door? Must be. If it was a door it had to have a gap she could force open. It was hard but she thought she found what she was looking for.

She massaged her hands and took a deep breath, this iron was tough stuff, and she knew she'd need more power than she was used to.

Releasing her breath, centred herself, and aligned her hands to the door crack. Then with a mighty punch she rent the tips of her finger into the door with a resounding clang of metal. Feeling mighty annoyed that she barely got her fingers deep enough to the first joints, the metal gave way more when she threw another spear-handed punch, widening and deepening the wedge further. She could hear a startled squawk come from the other side.

She widened the hole further with a series of palm strikes. She heard some more startled shouts and calls through the brief contacts she had with the door. It was to muffled and unclear for her to understand a word.

Memories from when she discovered metal bending resurfaced in her mind. Her current situation wasn't so different after all… except this time her prison was larger. More room to move! She couldn't help the grin that spread over her face when she drew back. Her legs spread out, her centre brought down low into a solid horse-stance. Then with the might of a rockslide, sprang at the door. Her elbow hit with such power that the metal screeched as it bent to her will and muscle. She could hear something crack as something broke within the metal frame, something she did not even reflect over has she felt the hole she'd dug, she'd gone through. The hole was nothing but a crack, barely enough to force her fingers through.

She heard a panicked cry, now when she didn't have a full hand's breadth of metal between herself and whoever was keeping her locked up. She still did not understand a single word, the words so foreign it could have as well been "bla bla".

The cry must have meant something though as she could hear armoured footsteps come rushing towards her. A handful of weird noises and beeps followed almost immediately.

Wasting no more time, she took three quick steps backwards, skipping on her last, only her toes remained in contact for a brief second to the floor before she dug them in with all her weight. And then charged; she took two quick strides before she dived for the hole! The force of her head along leap, together with plenty of bending, she managed to rip the hole wide open, caving out the door even more.

For one brief moment she felt a spike of fear, she had not thought about checking what was on the other side at all, she did not even know if there was any floor to land on, or worse, land on something that would hurt. A fear that passed the moment her arm met the ground, metal too! She let her momentum carry her into a short roll, and slammed one of her feet into the floor, stopping her with one powerful shock. It was like the war all over again on one of those Fire nation zeppelins. The metal was still as hard and unyielding as the door had been and the contact jarred her bones more than she was comfortable with, it had almost hurt!

There was three, no four people standing around her, she could feel them, three in front, one to her back, though two of them felt really weird. But the guns she felt in their hands put that curiosity far back in her mind. She could think about that stuff later, she had more pressing things to worry about. Like those gun wielding and armoured thugs!

There was no earth to grab hold of, and the metal was way too unwieldy for her to use. So a good ol' beating was in order!

Not even a second had passed since Toph had made it out of that room, and she was on the move. The closest thug, nothing but a skinny twig of a man standing a smidge to far from his comrades, grunted in pain when her iron tight grip crushed his wrist, and she swore he whimpered when her left shin met his sides. Bending the man double around her leg.

Not even a split second later she was on the move to the next guy, the one that felt the most weird of them all, she could swear his legs was bending in all the wrong places but he still stood straight like it was nothing. She actually had to commend this one for at least that gun in his hands was already aiming towards her, unlike the two other who was barely now jumping to action.

She would have worried about getting shot if she hadn't been a bender… which of course she was!

Her arms made the bare motion, throwing her arms up in front of her as if she was calling a big pillar of earth towards the sky, latching onto the feel of the impurities within the gun, the thug did not stand a chance to her push as his aim flew straight towards the ceiling. The gun fired, probably from the thug squeezing the trigger in his surprise. The weird and rapid spurt sound the gun made almost brought her to a halt, dozens of metallic grains flew out of the muzzle, chipping much greater chunks out of the ceiling. What kind of gun is that!?

She did not like all this weirdness, and that was her final straw. Guns was a new clumsy invention that made big barking sounds and terrifying damage to whatever person it hit, but this shot grains, only grains! With such speed and power she'd be hard pressed to even do with big chunks of metal!

She ducked in under the thugs arms and delivered a haymaker of all haymakers aimed at the liver. The hard oddly earthy armour crunched and bent under her fist and sank deep into the thugs side. And this contact gave her a full view of just what she had punched. Her earth sense showed her the freakiest thing she'd ever felt! She could feel the thing's skin littered with hard plates of bone. The bone structure was so human but so different that everything felt wrong, bones that bent in ways it shouldn't muscles that moved and was attached so oddly it made her queasy. She could barely recognize lungs and the innards, the heart beat so offset… it made her sick, deep into her stomach.

The yarbel that came out when the thing exclaimed in obvious pain, was as weird as the thing itself as she picked up the thing make two sounds at the same time.

Worse still was how little her punch seemed to have done as she felt the things right leg tense to kick her.

"Get away!" she couldn't help the worst horrifyingly girly tone she let out of her mouth, as she took hold on everything her bending could grip and pushed the creature away from her.

The thing only gave a surprised squawk as it lifted from the floor as if slammed by a freight train, and got embedded in the far wall.

Breathing heavily, Toph was made aware of the other two… three if she counted the groaning mess of the first thug, by the other weird ones barking growl. Was it another weird creature too? It felt far more normal, but its feet did not feel like normal feet should have on a human. Armoured or not.

She launched herself down at the things feet, diving under its aim, and pivoted in place, performing a leg sweep. The thing did not stand a chance as her unyielding, rock hard shins crushed the things lower leg armour, and fractured the fragile bones beneath.

Man these people are weak! Whoever, or whatever they were, she almost felt bad for the weaklings, only almost. What had they expected from trapping an earthbender?

The thing fell down hard with a pained scream, one she silenced when she dropped the heel down over the side of its head in an axe kick.

The last thug was too far away from her, she couldn't reach him without being shot with one of those weird guns. The only things she could use to protect herself were the thugs themselves. So she did the only thing she could do and bent the unconscious thug up in front of her. And got her second shock when she felt the grains simply bounce on thin air in front of her living shield. The gunfire ceased almost immediately when the remaining thug realized it wasn't her he was shooting at. She took hold of her 'shield' and charged forward.

The thug exclaimed in another foreign language before jumping out of her way.

"Oh, no you don't!"

She dropped her 'shield' and threw herself at the thug in a tackle. The remaining man went down with a squeak. She ripped the gun out of his hands and bent it around his arms into a crude but functional handcuff.

The thug struggled under her, making a huge ruckus, shouting in that nonsensical language of his.

"Eh, shut your trap." She said and punched him, hard in the head. The thug went slack beneath her, knocked unconscious. "Wuss."

She rose back to her feet, taking a deep breath to calm herself. She felt heat crawl up the back of her neck and ears as she remade the fight in her head. The memory of her screaming like one of those pathetic city born snobs, screaming for help just because of the sight of a spider or squirrel-rat. But that, thing, had taken her by surprise.

Worried that she had overdone it, and more than a little curious about just what she had sent flying. She stepped closer.

The thing crowed weakly as she came close. It really did make weird sounds.

"Shut up, will yah?" She spoke to it. The thing went silent as if it had understood her. "You understand me?"

She got another crow, different pitch to its word.

"Well I don't understand squat of what you are saying." She guessed it did as it answered her question.

She brushed her knuckles over its barrel like chest, getting a better feel of the thing's body.

"Never met something like you before," she rapped her knuckles against it, drawing a few painful wheezes out of its lungs. "Your buddies can get you out when they wake up, see yah."

She couldn't stay much longer, she had to find her way out of this place. After all She had a whole academy waiting on her, metalbending didn't teach itself after all. Stomping her foot she felt out which way to go, which was down the hall to her right, left of her ill-prepared cell. The other way only ended in a dead end.


A/N: An old story I tinkered on way back. Found myself writing on it again and felt it was starting to deserve getting published. Please tell me what you think of it.