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Assuming a water bender can only manipulate water that they are either touching or is within their relative touching distance (say, a few cm to a meter away), and assume that blood, saliva, and sweat all count towards water bending, however, the water bender would need to make skin contact to manipulate anything inside the skin that's not immediately visible, even if it's within their range.

In a setting with a technological level comparable to Earth, what measures would be taken and how can an average citizen who is not a water bender potentially face a water bender effectively?

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    $\begingroup$ What stops someone from shooting them at a distance with a sniper rifle? $\endgroup$
    – Priska
    Oct 5 '19 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ How fast does this power work? Do they need to spend time building up energy or directing water or is it fast as thought? (Because if it isn't, they're going to have a very bad time with guns.) $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Oct 5 '19 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ Let's assume it's as fast as thought, and as for the sniper rifle question, I was under the assumption that that isn't something an average citizen would be able to acquire, I can edit the question to disregard military equipment that's normally not what people carry, even if they carry weaponry. $\endgroup$ Oct 5 '19 at 4:49
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    $\begingroup$ OK, even with sniper rifles aside, there are still guns. At least in some countries where guns are common. Criminals would have less of a problem acquiring one. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Oct 5 '19 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ say, a few cm to a meter away So a spear or staff (easy to make DIY) or long sword. Stones and rocks. Fire in various ways and forms of weapon. Car. Truck ! Any number of booby traps. Taser. Good old fashioned bicycle chain. The list is surely endless. $\endgroup$
    – StephenG
    Oct 5 '19 at 6:09
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An ordinary person has no chance against a waterbender who is aware that they are a danger. High pressure water can cut steel, and the waterbender might be able to accelerate a stream of water to extreme velocities while it remains in their range so that it goes through the head of any enemy within several meters like a knife through butter with perfect accuracy. Also, if fighting at long range, they could use shields of water to make themselves nearly immune to small arms fire. Even large, high velocity bullets will be stopped by a few feet of water, so water shields would be a great defense, and they themselves could use mundane firearms to retaliate.

Because of this, the best strategy for an ordinary person to kill someone with power over water is to pull out a pistol and shoot them repeatedly while they are not paying attention. They might be powerful, but if you can sneak into their house while they are at work, then shoot them as they open the door to come home, or wait in a bush by their house and shoot them as they leave, or keep track of their schedule, loiter along where they commute, then shoot them in the back as they walk past, or find their favorite restaurant, then walk in and shoot them in the back of the head while they are eating, then you should be able to take them out without too much trouble, provided you don't miss. Also, if you monitor them closely, it might be viable to snipe them. In the US, you can buy sniper rifles commercially, but this could just be done with a scoped hunting rifle. Figure out where they walk commonly, then shoot them repeatedly from several blocks away. Failing that, you could make some ANFO out of fertilizer and fuel oil, put it in a car, and either ram it into their house and blow it up in the middle of the night while they are asleep, or park it by the entrance to their residence and remotely detonate it when they walk past if feeling less suicidal. If you have access to their food, you could try to poison it. A regular person might not be able to get arsenic or cyanide easily, but you can buy organophosphates as pesticides, and some of those are fairly dangerous. A more elaborate strategy would be to buy a small drone and to drop a bomb on them while they are not suspecting it. ISIS did this to some effect in Syria. All in all, the best strategy is to kill them either with surprise or trickery.

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  • $\begingroup$ You make a really good point about how a waterbender could accelerate water to an insane velocity (I mean, the speed of thought is fast as hell) and how just a few feet of water can stop bullets... HARPOONS IT IS! $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '19 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ High pressure water with sapphire dust in it can cut steel. I’ve never seen a water jet that could work with just water. But maybe you have? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Oct 8 '19 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM You are probably right. $\endgroup$ Oct 8 '19 at 6:40
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Your guide to dealing with a rogue Waterbender for the Average Citizen

It Depends

The answer really depends heavily on the specific conflict, as the average joe is not going to beat a water bender if they are near a massive source of water (Like a lake or river), and even in their own homes the pipes could be dangerous if the waterbender can bend the pipes by bending the water inside them.

Even if a Waterbender has to touch them to bend the water inside, that's not to say the Waterbender can't drown them by effectively pouring water straight down into their lungs.

Really, the best tactic is to stay the hell away from a water bender

Surprise Tactics:

Assuming the average joe has ambushed said Water bender, all they'd need to do is stab them with a knife, or hell even take an axe to their neck. Not much a Water bender can do once you've buried a good inch of steel on em'.

Or if you want a less violent option, nd if the Water Benders rely on hand motions to move the water, you could slap cuffs on them and effectively neutralize them.

Front Tactics:

The average citizen would want to stay away from the range of a Waterbender, as this is would be the "kill zone" for the Waterbender. If the citizen has a gun (or hell even a nail gun, they can be quite nasty with a bit of modification) they could attack the water bender from a distance.

You don't really want to get near a Waterbender, since it seems they can control water at the speed of thought, which could be extremely bad. That is just game over. You could bull rush a Waterbender with a long weapon (like a hot poker or some kind of spear) and catch them off guard, but this could backfire horribly if they are ready for you or react fast enough.

Measures to take against Water Benders for a Society

  • Likely, a society with water benders would imprison naughty water benders within prisons that account for their water-bending properties, perhaps prisons where the cells don't have pipes with running water, or prisons deep underground away from any sources of water. You could put the prison in a desert, but I'm not sure of the legal ramifications or logistics of exporting water-bending criminals to foreign countries with deserts (for countries that don't have deserts). I have no idea how they'd keep said Water Benders hydrated without giving them access to potentially lethal water, however. ( Maybe their powers rely on hand-motions, so their hands are restrained in a way they can't make those hand motions? The threat of death, perhaps in the form of A Panopticon-style prison with a machine gun nest right in the middle?)

  • Police and other Authorities dealing with Water Benders would likely wear full body suits (something akin to Riot gear) to prevent Waterbenders from touching them and bending the water inside of them. Perhaps they'd also wear bulky breathing cannisters to prevent Waterbenders from trying to drown them via pouring water down their throat and nostrils.

  • I imagine Water Benders would also be registered in some government database, so that when police arrive in an area they'd be able to know if they'd be dealing with water benders.

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  • $\begingroup$ You actually make a good point that's good enough for a question on its own. How WOULD society detain water benders and keep them hydrated without essentially delivering a weapon to their cell (if they don't rely on hand motions) $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '19 at 5:07
  • $\begingroup$ @maverick guards who are benders themselves would be likely societal solution. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Oct 8 '19 at 5:59
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It depends how much warning I’m given. If I knew a water bender was coming for me, I’d just get away from large bodies of water (maybe move to the Gobi Desert). I’d also wear a leotard or something, since the water bender seems pretty dangerous if they touch my skin. Then I’d probably buy a handgun or knife or something, since ideally, in the Gobi Desert, the water bender is just a regular guy, and I’m not taking my chances in a fistfight. If I can’t decide where I meet the guy, I’d just wear my leotard constantly and just run away from him; it seems like he has to be pretty close to me or to water to do much damage.

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There are a few strategies no one has pointed out yet, so I will venture.

1. Recruit Help

The average person is not an idiot, and will seek help for dangers they cannot realistically take on by their lonesome. What does this mean? Well, that any hostile waterbender looking to cause problems will likely end up facing another bender. I'd suggest having coldbenders, as they could effectively freeze a waterbender in their tracks (yes I made that dad joke and I regret nothing, it was glorious!).

2. Bargain

Sure, a waterbender may have incredible supernatural abilities, which they can use at the speed of thought, but they're still human. Granted, that's a lot of power (and thus a lot of temptation), but most people aren't going to want to become outcasts or fugitives thanks to power abuse and will therefore avoid going down this path.

In other words, unless you're dealing with an absolute wacko, you can always try diplomacy. Chances are you and the waterbender can come to an understanding. If not, that's what #3 is for.

3. Sudden, decisive action

There's a quote from Mike Tyson. I don't know who he is, but I love how his quote applies to any magical world that exists or will ever exist. "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." Waterbenders can react at the speed of thought, sure, but when you're caught off guard, your thoughts have a funny way of lagging behind the other guy's fist.

Shock (whether physical or mental) and confusion should logically render a bender incapable of wielding their power effectively or at all, thus giving ordinary citizens an advantage they can play as a last resort.

However, this also means guns, any weapon really, will be a potential issue, as most people don't expect to face a situation where someone has a weapon and intends to use it on them and go into shock when they end up in such a situation. I believe this will reduce the numbers of hostile waterbenders, as having incredible power is not necessarily going to reduce one's fear of death, sharp objects, or harmful projectiles.

4. Respect the bubble

Waterbenders have a relatively limited range of 1 meter around them, and other benders likely have the same range, so in a world of benders people will likely stay one meter away from all benders to compensate. If COVID-19 is any indication, this is perfectly feasible and relatively easy to put into practice.

Going off this, benders will likely be registered by the government, with severe consequences for those who evade this protective measure, so any waterbender who decides to abuse their power can expect a visit from their friendly neighborhood Anti-Bender Defense Force. Oh, and one other thing....

5. Hydro Extension

Studies have been done on the brain, and it's been found that violinist's brains change in such a way that the violin essentially becomes an extension of the body. A similar phenomenon will most likely occur for your waterbenders, causing them to feel the water around themselves as acutely as if it is part of them.

In other words, step in a puddle within a waterbender's range, and they'll feel an odd rippling sensation go through their body, causing them distinct discomfort. Think of it as the waterbender having a special receptivity to the water; they communicate with the water, sure, but they can only wield it because the water is giving them feedback, same as feedback from your body allows you to move it effectively.

However, this causes the waterbender to feel discomfort when water is disturbed around them, and may even cause them to feel overwhelmed when they have a lot of water around them (like when they are in a swimming pool). This is like you feeling your feet tingling when you try to wake them up (because when a waterbender is starting to use their power, they are 'waking up' to the water), or a young adult who had a quiet childhood getting sensory overload over entering the hustle and bustle of a big city.

This means that a waterbender has to get used to the discomfort caused by using their power, and can potentially lose focus (potentially even be stunned or knocked unconscious) when they go beyond a certain threshold. This threshold varies, but all waterbenders are stunned or knocked out upon their water being frozen, evaporated, or blown apart.

This also means that a waterbender can only have a certain amount of water around them, or they may pass out from sensory overload. This can be mitigated with enough training and experience, but it's still very possible for a waterbender to pass out in, say, the ocean, for its currents, waves, and various moving elements can easily cause overwhelming feedback.

Or in other words, since people are mostly water and waterbenders can bend blood, sweat, and tears, a waterbender could very well get overwhelmed in a crowd of people. With this, I believe the average citizen has a good chance against a waterbender.

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Our water-bending friend here has been neigh unstoppable in the face of every foe heretofore. But alas, what goes up must also come down. The universe is just and as for our water-bending friend like the rest of us, is also the author of its own demise. There is no karma but ones own ignorance. Fate, a cruel mistress. Tides, turned by a savvy Joe Rogan Experience podcast listener with cash to blow on a HECS Suit. To the uninitiated, it appears as unremarkable as any run of the mill hunting fatigues. Scoring a 1 in the physical defense department, while being written off as pure pseudo science by anyone else lucky enough to have even heard of it. The HECS Suit is said to safely contain the bio-electric (electromagnetic/static electric which ever works best I guess) field of the wearer. This attribute allegedly renders one more or less invisible to anything that relies heavily on their bio-electric senses the way humans rely heavily on their eyes. Water benders have gone on for eons researching, practicing and growing in power without really, truly knowing about its source. The source of the water-benders power being, the manipulation of static electric fields that surround any and every body of water regardless of how big or small.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to wb.se - please use paragraphs and format your answer. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Oct 5 '19 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ This answer seems to presume a number of aspects of bending that are not specified in the question. It’s an interesting approach, but I think it is out-of-bounds unless question goes into details about how bending does what it does. Basically, answers can only deal with the effects of bending, not prevent the bending, because the question doesn’t give us enough data for that extrapolation. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Oct 8 '19 at 6:04

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