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The distant caws of a murder of lizard crows remind him of who he is. Inspiring, Mako takes careful step after careful step after Wulin, padding softly behind the teenager. The scarf coils onto the ground; he picks it up and holds the hem as though holding his brother's life or the edge of the precipice, the slippery ice causing him to fall still further down the slippery slope.

When he sees the statue of Fire Lord Zuko, the memories melt into his mind, misting it with moments of Mako and Bolin, laughing and living, fears flitting far to the fog, the two together.

The fire, a beacon of light, continues to flare from the Fire Lord's fist.

On a bench is perched a boy of perhaps ten or eleven, slightly older than Mako, the fresh corpse of a dead girl lying at his shoes. His rags ill-fit for his slender, starved form, the street rat glares at Wulin. "What ya want?"

"Information." Wulin tosses the boy a yuan, which disappears swiftly as snow in summer's heat. "Have the Triple Threats been recruiting?"

"Nope." The street rat wipes his nose, his suspicious gaze held on Mako. The firebender stays silent. "But I seen that 'un muscle wit' some li'l kid. Mebbe five 'ears er so?"

Mako inhales. "Did he have long black hair and green eyes?" he asks quickly, his words tumbling over themselves. "Six, almost seven years old?"

The boy sniggers and shows the firebender his palm. Confused, he glances at Wulin, who pulls another yuan from his pocket. "Kid, this is Patch. He provides information to everyone." The drab greyness of the rock flakes away when Patch's hand resumes its previous position. Mako's breath dissipates into mist; he's a tad astounded that it is yet cold this late in spring, or perhaps that's only the cold of his heart freezing the rest of his blood. "Answer the question."

"Yeah, 'bout six er sev'n. Sounds right. Kinda dumb-lookin', bit on th' stupid side, y'know." Patch snorts and sits out a glob of saliva, the wetness landing on Mako's foot. "Th' muscle was takin' 'im t' th' Triple T's. 'S all I know."

"Well, Mako, I'm afraid there you have it. Thanks, Patch." Wulin hooks the firebender's arm and leads him away from the statue. Patch slips off of the base, landing on the girl's corpse with a sickening crack and a nauseating squelch. "We'll have to see the Triple Threats directly."

Mako frowns. "What are we going to do?" A quiver runs through his form as he recalls the last time he dealt with a triad, and his eyes widen when he understands what could be happening to his brother, right now. "We have to go immediately!"

"Hold your ostrich horses, kid. No need to rush in there like an overeager squirrel monkey." He rubs his chin thoughtfully and snaps his fingers piercingly enough to cause Mako to wince. "Actually, I think that rushing in like an overeager squirrel monkey might be the thing to do."

"What do you mean?"

Wulin smirks. "I mean we're going to talk to the big dumpling himself."

The big dumpling, as it turns out, resides within a gargantuan warehouse akin to that of the Agni Kai Triad; the sight of it makes Mako's skin crawl, the ground dropping out from under him, his blood a dull roar in his ears. Curiously the man standing guard at the front waves Wulin in without a second glance, Mako trailing anxiously after him. The hazy smoke burns his eyes and throat, leaving him blind as a bat mole, and the music pulsing through the floor deafens him. His nostrils flare as a foreign scent makes him light-headed. He seeks out his newfound friend's hand. "Are you sure we're going to find Bolin here?" His lips form three familiar syllables, his mantra bringing him some semblance of tranquillity even if he hasn't believed those words for nearly a year.

"Maybe. Maybe not. We've got to try, neh?" He is pulled forward; at least Wulin knows where to go, picking his way through the throng. Somewhere, a woman moans, and deep inside Mako is glad he cannot see. "Watch your step. This is the Triple T's gentlemen's club, shall we say."

"The gentlemen's club?" the firebender echoes.

His friend does not reply but instead stops, the heel of shoe resounding with a sharp click. "Stand there. Easy, now, kid." A rap on a door. "It's Wulin. I got to talk." The stone flies open and slams into the opposite wall. "Come on and hurry up." He strolls inside, bidding Mako to rush in rapidly after him lest what happened at the Agni Kais happen here as well.

There is a desk, yes, and a radio, much like the beast's, but a wholly different atmosphere pervades this place. One hand on his low-brimmed hat, the other wielding a pen circling certain dates on a calendar in bright red, the man sitting in the chair raises his head when Wulin and Mako enter, his amber gaze burrowing into Mako's spirit. "Wulin."

"Lightning Bolt Zolt." Wulin inclines his head and flicks the radio off, the smooth jazz dropping into silence. "Word on the street says you know where a certain green-eyed, black-haired earthbender is. About seven years old, small for his age. Street kid."

A strange expression passes over the man's face, and he turns the music back on, relaxing as the static clears. Lightning Bolt Zolt, Mako reiterates to himself, affixing the name with a person. "I don't know all the poor unfortunate spirits who come to the triad." He withdraws a tin from his pocket and places it onto the desk. "But if you were to inform me how I could help you, and how you could help me . . ."

Wulin nods curtly. "Mako, please go into that closet." He gestures towards a door, the knob broken off. "And you and I, Zolt, have matters to discuss."

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