|"People from all over the world come here because the Earthen Fire Refinery represents the future."|
|— Satoru explaining the establishment's appeal to Team Avatar.|
The Earthen Fire Refinery is a production facility founded by Loban from the Fire Nation and Lao Beifong from the Earth Kingdom, giving it the distinction of being the world's first international business venture. Situated in Cranefish Town over the largest crystal depository outside of Ba Sing Se, the company primarily focuses on mineral extraction, although it has plans to broaden its scope to other resources. In this regard, Loban gave the order to excavate a local iron mine in secrecy against Lao's wishes, as the latter had deemed the dig site to be too unstable to mine. The refinery employs benders and nonbenders from all over the world and is located on land previously held sacred by the Air Nomads.
During the final stages of the Hundred Year War, Loban discovered a meadow in the Earth Kingdom rich with natural resources. Due to political reasons, he, as a Fire Nation citizen, was unable to exploit the ground's wealth and had to wait until the end of the war before he was able to find an Earth Kingdom business partner, Lao Beifong, and could begin development on the land. The Earthen Fire Refinery attracted labor forces from all nations, such as Niyok and Nutha from the Southern Water Tribe, who worked the machinery on a production line concentrated in mineral extraction.
In 102 AG, Team Avatar visited the refinery along with three Air Acolytes on the day of Yangchen's Festival. Shortly after their arrival, the group was attacked by a unit of earthbending guards, whom Avatar Aang easily defeated. Satoru, the refinery's engineer and man in charge when Lao and Loban were absent, instantly recognized the teenagers for who they were and proceeded to give them a tour of the refinery, taking the group to both of the establishment's production lines.
After witnessing Toph's use of metalbending to repair a forklift engine, Satoru suggested establishing a partnership between the Beifong Metalbending Academy and the Earthen Fire Refinery, in which Toph and her students would periodically visit to aid in machine repair in exchange for the refinery's sponsorship of a new school building.
Following the tour, Aang attempted to reason with Satoru, stating that the refinery was wrongfully erected on land that was once sacred to the Air Nomads and blaming the factory for the pollution of a nearby river. Toph defended the factory, believing Satoru's statement that the refinery was not to blame for the pollution, as well as supporting the notion that the refinery was the future. In the ensuing argument, an earthquake erupted, causing one of the machines to malfunction, which resulted in significant damage to the factory by earthen projectiles that were shot in every direction. Despite Satoru's insistence that the machine could be turned off by unplugging it, Toph shut it down by destroying the ten thousand ban machine completely, much to the dissatisfaction of Loban.
He took his anger out on Satoru and demanded that production with the bender assembly line resumed within the hour in order to make the deadlines. Team Avatar refused to leave the premises and got into a fight with the Rough Rhinos. Sokka used himself and Katara as targets to trick Mongke, Yeh-Lu, and Utor to run down the factory's fence with their komodo rhinos. After Katara encased them in ice, Sokka threw Yeh-Lu's burning stick of dynamite toward the river, though it exploded nonetheless, revealing a secret tunnel that led to a rich, but unstable iron mine underneath the town, which was being excavated on Loban's orders. When this was brought to Lao's attention, he ventured into the mine himself and ordered all the miners to leave, though he got into an argument with Loban there, who wished to keep mining the ore. When Kahchi accidentally broke a support beam with his weapon, trying to hit Sokka, the mine caved in, trapping Loban, Lao, Toph, Katara, and several others as a result.
Toph concentrated intensely to stop the mine collapsing on her and the others. Katara instructed Satoru to bring the last of her water to Toph. The two discussed how both were runaways, and that he escaped to Ba Sing Se's Lower Ring after his parents joined an underground pro-Ozai society. Satoru complimented Toph on her braveness, while Lao approached Toph to apologize. He informed her that things fell apart between him and Poppy after Yu and Xin Fu gave up their search, but not a day had gone by that Lao did not think of Toph. He told her that he loved her, while Toph told him that if he knew the real her, he would know that she could hold the rubble up as long as she needed to.
Above the surface, Sokka and Aang instructed Toph's students The Dark One, Penga, and Ho Tun to help Toph. As the students arrived on the scene, Aang explained that they needed to dig out those trapped by metalbending the ore in the earth. Toph offered some advice to her students as they dug, and uncovered a giant mask buried beneath the ground. The sight shook Ho Tun, although he tried again following encouragement from Aang. The metalbending students managed to remove all the dirt. Toph congratulated them with a thumbs up, though soon collapsed against her father, exhausted by the effort. Jingbo offered assistance to those injured, while Toph's students approached her, concerned for her safety. Soon after, Loban ordered the Rough Rhinos to be rounded up and haul the ore to the beach, to be shipped to another refinery in the Fire Nation and ensure that Lao would not receive any of the profits.
Returning from meditation, Aang informed Sokka and Katara that the uncovered mask belonged to General Old Iron, whom Avatar Yangchen promised the land would be undisturbed as a sign that humans could maintain balance between their world and the Spirit World. Aang confirmed that the refinery and the town had to be destroyed so that the land could return to its natural state. He asked Katara to ensure everyone out of the buildings and asked Toph's students for help with the armor, but noticed the mask was missing. Satoru informed him that Loban took the mask down to the beach, and Aang stressed that they needed it back.
Seeing General Old Iron rise in town, Aang entered the Avatar State and rose into the skies, ready to destroy the factory. When Lao was told of his plan, he was horrified. Toph learned of Aang's intentions, with Lao telling her that it would financially ruin him and destroy a symbol of international cooperation. Toph and her students returned to the factory, and raised an earthen wall to block the factory from three of Aang's large fire blasts. Aang asked why they were there, and Toph told him that they were stopping his assault.
Aang tried to explain why he needed to destroy the factory, conveying who General Old Iron was and his agreement with Yangchen. He asked for Toph's trust, though she refused, believing he simply wanted things to return as they were. Aang admits that is partly true, but adds that reverting the town is also to show that humans can preserve and protect. Toph remained angered at the idea of destroying everything people built and a sign of the future in the refinery. Aang told them to get out of the way, but she simply demanded he "make [them]". The Avatar fired air rings, knocking the students off the wall, but Toph held her ground and raised a smaller wall, using it to fire chunks of earth at Aang. One of these hit him, but he was able to recover and block one last shot headed right for him. With the students back on their feet, they all metalbent at him, but he dodged all the attempts. Toph asked if he realizes how ridiculous the situation is and Aang tries to convince her that he would find another way if there was one. At that point, Ho Tun and Penga interrupted, pointing out the arrival of Old Iron.
Aang tried to talk to Old Iron about how he worked to maintain balance between the physical and Spirit Worlds, but Old Iron refused to hear it, deciding to attack the humans instead. The Avatar and the spirit dueled, attempting to throw punches at the other, with Katara coming to assist Aang. Toph had her students rip off Old Iron's metal armor, and Aang defeated the spirit by launching an attack of the four elements into his chest. Aang sadly watched the spirit disappear, as Toph thanked her for saving her and her students.
Three months later, a parade took place in the town while work began in a new factory operated by Toph and Satoru.
Some time later, the town around the Earthen Fire Refinery rapidly grew into a city known as Cranefish Town, with dozens of factories being established. Toph and Katara arrived at the new, larger Earthen Fire Industries factory, where they were greeted by Satoru, who showed them around. Satoru showed the factory's new, more advanced and efficient production line, though Katara realized there were no more benders working in the factory. When Toph pressed Satoru, he explained that as a result of the upgrades, machines and nonbenders were able to do all the work, with some benders being let go to save money as they tended to demand higher wages. The remaining bender employees resigned in protest, believing they were being replaced by machines, though Satoru assured Toph and Katara that he only wanted to improve his machines and the factory's productivity. He went on to say that benders across the city had lost their jobs as other factories installed machines like his, and that some benders refused to work for factories owned by nonbenders as a result, the earthbender guards who used to work at Earthen Fire Industries being an example.
That night, Toph was woken from her sleep by a clanking sound coming from the Earthen Fire Industries factory, and went goes to investigate, discovering one of the machines to have been deliberately jammed. The machine exploded seconds later, alerting Satoru and the rest of Team Avatar. Toph survived the explosion with her metalbending, and sensed two people running away, guessing that they were responsible for the sabotage. She and Aang pursued them, but were attacked by one of them, who turned out to be a firebender gang member. Leaving Toph to take care of the current attacker, Aang used his glider to pursue the other saboteur, the leader of the gang, and cornered him on the edge of a cliff. Easily trapping the gang leader with his earthbending, Aang demanded to know why he attacked Earthen Fire Industries. Yaling, hiding nearby with Ru, used her own earthbending to collapse the part of the cliff the gang leader is trapped on and send him falling toward the ocean, in order to ensure his silence, but Aang managed to save him and flew away with him.
As morning came, Aang returned to the Earthen Fire Refinery, having saved the life of the firebender who sabotaged it last night. He told Toph, Katara and Sokka that the saboteur, out of gratitude to Aang for saving him, revealed that he had been hired by a pair of teenage girls, one of whom was a skilled earthbender. Katara asked if there was a reason behind the attack, but Aang replied that the firebender was not given one. Lao Beifong and Satoru then arrived, with the former informing the others that several other factories were attacked last night, and noting that the attacks seemed to have been coordinated, rather than random violence. Suggesting that something was going on beneath the surface of Cranefish Town, Sokka donned his detective hat and declared that Team Avatar should investigate the attacks.
When the group returned to the Earthen Fire Refinery, Sokka found himself reunited with Suki, who had borrowed an eel hound to travel to Cranefish Town after getting Sokka's message about being delayed there. Not wanting to hang around the couple, Toph headed into the refinery and started repairing the damage with her bending. As she worked, Satoru comes up to her and admitted to feeling responsible for the situation in Cranefish Town, since he created the machines that many benders felt have replaced them. Toph replied that there would not have been enough jobs in the town for all skilled benders even if he had not made the machines, claiming that people were just looking for someone to blame. Satoru asked if she is telling him not to feel guilty about what he is done, and she agreed.
After further investigation, Team Avatar learned that Liling's bender supremacist movement was behind the attacks, and managed to detain her at a rally she held with other benders. Liling was subsequently imprisoned in the Earthen Fire Refinery within a metal cage of Toph's design. Toph assumed that they could simply capture Ru and Yaling and bring an end to the crisis, but Sokka replied that the situation was more complicated than that, since the rally demonstrated that Liling had support from numerous benders within Cranefish Town, including criminals and council members. Katara responded that Liling was the one advocating the idea of bender supremacy, but Sokka argues that she was merely aggravating tensions between benders and nonbenders that had existed for a long time. Aang said that they nevertheless needed to deal with Liling and talked about contacting the Earth Kingdom authorities, but Toph proposed another solution: Aang should do what he did to Fire Lord Ozai and take away Liling's bending, to make an example of her and discourage her supporters from causing further trouble. When she questioned why they all got so quiet, Katara explained that everyone was shocked, but Toph did not understand, saying that Liling had blown up several factories and wanted to drive out nonbenders, and that she could not lead a bender supremacist movement if she was not a bender. Katara was against the idea, believing that it was a big decision that could not be made lightly, and that Liling was not threatening to destroy the world like Ozai did. As they argued, Suki asked Aang if he was okay with taking away her bending, since he had only done it once before. Sokka chimes in that while Liling and Ozai are both very bad people, Liling is still a civilian and Aang might be risking his relationship with the bender community.
Aang remains silent, and Toph asks what his take on this is. Aang said he needed to think about it, and walked over to Liling's cage, explaining to her that he cares about benders and nonbenders in the Earth Kingdom, and asked her what he could do to resolve the conflict peacefully, but warned that he would defend the nonbenders no matter what. Liling mocked him for thinking he could change the world by talking, and that he could not even take the life of Ozai when he wanted to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground. Aang explained that he did manage to save the Earth Kingdom while also sparing Ozai's life, which enraged Liling, believing that he should have killed Ozai because a life without bending was not worth living. Aang said once more that he would not allow her or her followers to harm any more nonbenders in the city, to which she asked how far he was willing to go to protect them.
Katara sat alone outside the factory. Aang approached her, asking whether she was okay. Katara raised that losing one's bending could be akin to losing their own identity, and asked Aang if Liling truly deserved to lose part of herself. Before he could answer, a frantic Satoru approached them with the news that the Business Council building was on fire.
After Aang, Toph and Katara's departure, Yaling and a group of her mother's followers showed up, ready for a fight. Yaling was confident that her group would win, seeing as though the guards protecting the factory were nonbenders. The head guard asked Sokka and Suki to go get Aang, but Suki said that they weren't going to leave them there alone. Suddenly, Yaling commanded her group to take down Suki first because she was a chi blocker, and a fight ensued. While Suki attempted to chi block one of the benders, Yaling encased her in a pillar of rocks. When Sokka came to help her, he too was encased by rock walls. Yaling managed to take out a few more people with earthbending, and stole the keys to Liling's cage from one of the guards. She hurried inside, freeing her mother, happily embracing her and saying she was afraid she would not see her again. Liling told her that she knew she had be able to free her, and that the two had a lot of work to do back home.
That night, an exhausted Aang, Katara, Toph, and Satoru returned to the factory. The head guard explained that they were overwhelmed by the mob and that Liling had escaped. Katara sat with her, telling her that Aang asked the council members to stay at the factory where they could be protected, but that since Liling was free, all the nonbenders of the city were in danger. She expressed frustration that Liling always seemed to be one step ahead, and felt as though they should be doing more, and offered to heal the guard's arm. The guard then asked Katara if Suki would be willing to teach her officers to chi block. Team Avatar discussed the idea, and Aang questioned how fast they could learn, seeing as though Liling is likely to attack again soon. Suki was confident that the guards are already well-trained, and she could at least teach them the basics. Suki oversaw the security guards as they practice chi blocking. Aang was impressed to see an entire army of nonbenders, and Sokka told him that they at least had the basics down. Aang and Sokka discussed Liling, and whether or not it would have been the right choice to take her bending away before she escaped.
While Sokka waited for Suki to finish up, he spotted Ru hiding behind a wall, and beckoned her to come out and talk to him. Ru confessed that although she loved Liling and Yaling and doesn't want to turn against them, she was not okay with what they're doing. He told Ru that she now had a chance to do good, and not to waste it. Ru contemplated for a moment, and finally reveals that Liling was planning to attack the factory the next morning, and urged them all to get out of town while they can. Sokka and Suki told her that they will not leave, but now thanks to her they could be prepared. Ru asked that they not hurt Liling, and also asked Suki to teach her how to chi block.
Liling later came with her followers for her final confrontation with Team Avatar. As Toph dueled Yaling with earthbending, Aang challenged Liling, while her followers moved inside the factory to attack Sokka and Satoru. Aang entered the Avatar State, encasing Liling in ice and prepared to take her bending away. Katara rushed to him, telling him not to do it, while Ru encouraged him to. Katara reminded him to think about why he is doing this, and that he could not do it because he was angry or because it was an easy solution. Aang left the Avatar State, telling Liling that he was going keep fighting the poison she had spread throughout the city.
After the battle, Aang and Sokka wandered into the factory. Aang told him about how they were in the area last time, and there was a divide between spirits and humans, and he chose to protect the humans. He was not sure how to fix the divide between benders and nonbenders, but Sokka reminded him that he managed to bridge that divide between the two of them, and that it had to give him a little bit of hope. Aang said that it did.
The refinery is located atop the largest crystal depository outside of Ba Sing Se in an Earth Kingdom town near the Mo Ce Sea. It is protected by a large metal fence, as well as a unit of earthbending guards who patrol the grounds for trespassers. The exterior of the refinery is primarily gray in coloration, with red metal detailing on the doors and windows. Large smokestacks protrude from several points, some of which bear the company's insignia.
The facility's interior contains two large production lines, both of which are multi-level systems consisting of large furnaces and conveyor belts. The older production line employs benders, who undergo an extensive yearlong training program outlining proper extraction methods to refine crystals from raw earth. Earthbenders crush the ores and extract the mineral-rich compounds, which waterbenders treat in solution to purify. Firebenders finish the process by heating up the ovens to facilitate smelting, which further refines the crystals. The concentrated products are collected in several bins, which are separated and processed by forklifts for subsequent shipment. A newer production line uses the same purification method, but with machines instead of benders. Nonbenders are also employed in this line, as the oversight of processing requires no bending ability and only a few days of training.
- The refinery's guards wear uniforms similar to those worn by the Metalbending Police Force of Republic City.
- The name above the refinery reads , which literally translates to "dirt-fire company".
- Some time after the formation of the United Republic of Nations, the refinery had been abandoned and was taken over by the Creeping Crystal Triad.
- When a machine in the refinery malfunctions, Satoru tells Toph that she could have unplugged it, which means that the machines ran off of electricity.