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Channeling

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She dreams about that day. Of course she does. And it infuriates her.

It is not the day when she knelt, bound, before Amon and his Equalists, and she let him take her bending away. That was her choice, her sacrifice, and she made it willingly, to protect the Avatar. She would do it again, even if it were just as irrevocable as she had thought it to be the first time. She is Lin Bei Fong, and she does not give in.

No, the day Lin dreams about is that first attack, at the games. The day everything went wrong and all her careful planning was for naught.

She has woken again, in the middle of the night, remembering the crackle of the gloves, the agonized faces of her people as they dropped to the floor. And then, worse, standing on the airship as the wires wrapped around her, burning-hot, and she can't fight it, and she can't move she can't move--

Pushing herself out of bed, she rises and holds her scarred hands in front of her, considering them in the dim moonlight streaming through the window. The only threat is her own mind. Now, with everything that has happened, everything she has endured -- now her only opponent is her thoughts. It is bitterly unfair, she thinks, that her weakness should be herself. This is not the first night she has woken, nor the second, nor the third. It will not stand.


The evidence lockers at the station are uncharacteristically poorly-guarded the next morning. She will have to have a word with Saikhan about that, she thinks. Perhaps she will, after she brings the thing back.

The array of confiscated mechanical bits from Hiroshi Sato's factories is vast -- staggering, really -- and no one will ever notice one missing glove. She reaches into the bin, pulls one out, considers it. Something twinges and her stomach turns unpleasantly at the sight. Amon's people never used this on her. Not her. Not this. But it is close enough, and how can she even be considering--?

She shakes her head. Better not to consider. If she thinks about it, she will not do it.

This glove is left-handed, like most of the gloves, but it seems to be some sort of prototype, or so Lin concludes in the hasty few seconds she has to stare at it before the door swings open and one of the very junior officers leans her head in.

They are both surprised to see each other. The other woman -- Lin can't even remember her name -- stares at her, her eyes wide, her short hair swinging into her face, before she straightens up, her face suddenly tight.

What are you doing with that? Lin imagines the woman is making ready to say. Are you a thief? Are you becoming an Equalist now? Or perhaps, perhaps she has guessed the real reason, the things Lin cannot even explain--

"Chief Bei Fong!" the woman says, hastily, standing at attention now. Lin does not correct the title. "I had no idea you'd be here! Is it an inspection?"

Lin waves her free hand, hoping the movement seems natural. "No inspection, Officer...?"

"Zhang, ma'am," the woman says, eagerly, attentively, and Lin almost smiles. She remembers being that young once.

"Relax, Officer Zhang," says Lin. "I'll be out of your way soon. Only here to look at some of Sato's junk." That's all it is. Junk. It's nothing. It should be nothing.

She slips the glove into her bag as Zhang leaves. She walks out of the station with her head held high.


When she dumps the glove out on her bed, she can't quite believe she's done it. In the light, with all the time in the world to examine it, it does look different than the others. It is the same basic style as the rest -- a jointed metal gauntlet, with wires running down the length of it to feed into the great circle at the palm -- but, unlike the others, it seems more exposed. Open. She can almost see how it works now, all the wires fitting together.

Lin takes a breath. Well. This is all hers to do. She chose-- she was left--

They broke her, she thinks, and she shuts her eyes to hold the tears back. They broke her and left her. No. She takes a ragged breath. Focus.

She slides the gauntlet over her bare hand, enjoying the familiar feel of cool metal on her skin. It is a bit too large, and she tightens it down, piece by piece. Ha. The Equalists could never do that, could they? She molds it to her arm. It is hers now, Lin tells herself. She controls the electricity, just as she commands the metal in it.

"I will not give in," she says, and she turns the glove on.

The glove crackles -- just a little -- and comes to life, arcing out a tiny tendril of blue-white fire. It's almost pretty, she thinks, staring at it. It hardly looks terrifying at all. Perhaps if she moved one of the wires -- they're metal, aren't they? -- it would be stronger. She twists a few of them together, and--

A whip of lightning shoots forward and hits the opposite wall with a crash and a sizzle.

Lin winces and pulls the metal apart, breaking the circuit. "All right," she mutters. "Not that."

Carefully, slowly, she brings her hands together, pressing her gloved palm to her bare one. Then she breathes in, breathes out, and twitches one of the wires, ever so slightly this time.

It hurts. Of course it hurts, but it hurts less than the lightning whips of Amon's men, even when she turns up the intensity. Perhaps it is knowing that she can choose this.

Higher, now, and the sensation that once was only a pleasant heat travels up her arm, turning into a strange sort of buzzing, and the muscles in her hand twitch and tighten, locking up, and then somehow she's curled up on the bed, gauntleted arm wrapped around her and pressed to her thigh. She can't move, can't fight it, can't bend against it, but it is all right. It will be all right.

She has the power. The power has her. It feeds in on itself, a circle of fire, out of the glove, down and into her body. She can feel the trick of it now; she has it. She cannot guide the lightning, but the wires, yes, she could move those. She could make it stop. Anytime she wanted. If people come against her with gloves like this, she could silence them with the tiniest sliver of her power. She could extinguish this one so very easily. Hers. Hers. But she lets the glove run. She will hold out as long as she can, so she will know. She has to know what she can take. It will be longer than last time. It must be.

She doesn't know how long the Equalists had her before she passed out. One, two, three. It had to be longer than this. Four five sixseveneight and time runs together, then stretches out again. There is no time left in this place, only the chill heaviness of the glove on her hand, the burn of its fire on her skin. Nine. She thinks she is up to nine. Ten. She is holding out. They will not take her again.

She is Lin Bei Fong, and she isn't giving in. She's winning.