Alternate Route
Chapter information

Shadows of Equality



Written by


Release date

August 20, 2013

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Chapter 2: Recruiting Drive Part 1

"Firuz." Tarrlok says happily as he and many of the members of his task force attend another of the cities overly extravagant social events. "How are you my friend. Enjoying the festivities I hope." Firuz was another of the Northern Water Tribe Councilman's choices for his task force to bring down Amon's revolution. A very powerful earthbender in his own right, he did voice his concern on several occasions about having Avatar Korra work with the team, seeing it more as a publicity stunt than for any real tactical purposes.

"Very much so sir. Actually I thought I might have a word with you about the Task Force." Firuz's words fall flat as the councilman turns to talk to two of the other guests, barely hearing any of what he says.

"Of course of course. I'll have my assistant put it on the books. Now if you'll excuse me." the politician moves off to mingle with the other guests. This action angers the earthbender, once again being written off by Tarrlok, who seemingly has no concern outside of his own self-interest. This had been his reaction and response each time Firuz had attempted to give his recommendations on how to improve the force's productiveness in the field. By this point he was fed up with it.

"Ah Tarrlok. Never seems to have time for anything but publicity shots, huh captain?" Firuz turns to see the Earth Kingdom Councilman with a smile on his face.

"Sir." He jumps to attention, addressing the older man with the respect he felt he deserved.

"Ha ha, relax Firuz. You're not on duty."

"My apologies councilman Hitachi. How have you been these last few weeks?"

"Truthfully I've been better. Doctor's say my blood pressure's up; recommending me to take some time off. Would be good to visit my grandchildren in Omashu but with all this Equalist business, now is not a good time."

"Especially with Tarrlok's power trip."

"You've noticed that have you? Tarrlok may be a little too full of himself but you can't argue with his results."

"All due respect sir, the councilman is only interested in how he looks to the public. The same reason he conned the Avatar into joining the force. And all the missions we've completed our a joke. Training camps, temporary hideouts, small convoys of no more than four enemy chi blockers; it just isn't making much of a difference. We're picking off scraps while Amon and his men are amassing power. But councilman Tarrlok writes my plans off as nothing to be worried about and that he has the situation handled."

"What are you suggesting, Captain?"

"With your permission sir I'd like to put my own team together, people I could handpick myself. We'd be able to do the jobs the official task force won't. We could make a real difference. All of this would be off the records of course, so that nothing could be traced back to the council."

Councilman Hitachi stands still, thinking for a moment before giving his answer. "Very well, permission granted captain." the two shake hands, sealing the agreement.

"Thank you sir. You won't be disappointed. Of course it would be best if the other council members knew nothing about this. Best for everyone's status if they were blissfully unaware." Firuz adds as the councilman agrees, ensuring that Tarrlok will not be able to interfere with his assignment. Afterward, Hitachi excuses himself and gets back to socializing. "All right." he says under his breath before walking over to a teenage girl wearing glasses in an elegant green and yellow dress, her long Brown hair tied into two braids. "Meet me at my office Kiri. We've gotten a new mission." He says before disappearing outside the building.

The girl, her eyes a dark brown and her skin a very light complexion, watches as he leaves then sighs in frustration. "Typical. Even on my day off I still have to work."

Late night on the docks of Republic City's Yue Bay, a small group of about seven men of the Red Monsoon Triad make their way into one of the many warehouses that dot the shipping area. The group duck down behind a stack of crates as a search light from one of the patrol boats, waiting a few moments until the craft has moved out of sight before pressing on. The group reaches the locked door, one of them, sporting short black hair and an eye patch over his right eye, draws water from a small pouch on his side and uses the liquid with cutting precision, slicing the lock in half as the group swiftly enter the building, closing the door behind them so as not to be seen by the patrols.

"Alright boys, you know what needs to get done. Grab the stuff and get back out." The one eyed man says as the group scatter and begin opening the crates around the room, smashing or slicing them open.

Another of the group Rinku, a teenager no older than fifteen sets down the first of the items in the center of the room at the feet of the boss. "Here it is Kota, the spice fresh from Omashu." he says joyfully as the others finish gathering their portions.

"Alright, good job boys. We'll get these back to base and then it's to Narook's for dinner on me." Kota says as the others give light, quiet cheers, being careful to keep their voices down so as not to alert any nearby civilians. The Red Monsoon members grab their goods and in single file head toward the door. Just before they get outside they are taken by surprise as several metalbending officers storm in through the previously clear exit.

"Don't move! Hands in the air!" One officer shouts as the Monsoons drop their packages and put up their hands. Several more officers come in through the other end of the building, ending any hopes of escape for the triad members. "Up against the wall!" the officer yells again as the members comply, the younger members looking reasonably nervous, though Rinko notices that Kota is quietly composed and even sports a light smile as the officers cuff the group. "When did Bei Fong lower the standard for officer fitness?" the waterbender jokes, gesturing toward a noticeably heavy set officer. He then turns his head slightly back and looks at the lead officer. "Hey, where's Saikhan?" Kota says casually.

"Busy." the officer says blandly.

"Listen kiddo. Since you're obviously clueless as to how things work I'll make it simple so that even you can understand it. Me and Saikhan have a mutual agreement with these sort of things. So why don't you save yourself the embarrassment and get him over here ASAP." this display of authority and cool-headed leadership impresses Rinku as the officer takes a few steps back from the group, the other officers following his lead.

"Oh don't worry, we're going to take good care of you boys." The officer says as he, unknown to the Agni Kai members, draws water from a satchel on his side onto his right hand, forming it into ice claws. The other officers follow suit bringing water, fire, and earth to them, the rather round officer, sporting a thick black mustache himself, forms a fireball. "We'll take good care of you." the officer gives his final words before the group unleash a torrent of their elements on the unsuspecting Agni Kai triad team. The surprised triad members fall quickly with only two or three able to make a break for the door, those remaining few are cut down by a second volley. As the last of them falls the officers move to stand over them and begin to remove their uniforms, revealing street clothes.

"Ha, Agnis are so stupid." the husky firebender says as he turns to one of the earthbenders, removing his helmet revealing his straight black hair parted down the middle of his head. "Ain't that right Seok?"

"All too true Husam." an earthbender with a short stubbly beard chuckles, his shoulder length hair kept down by a rag wrapped around his head. "What do you say boss?" the two turn to their leader as he stands, wearing a white gi with black trousers.

"I say we get this stuff back to the hideout before the real cops actually get here." he organizes the men and they grab the cases, loading them into the trucks. He stops however, walking back toward Kota's body, snatching the patch from over his bad eye. "Thank you." he says casually, tucking his trophy into his pocket before walking away.

"That Hasook guy gives me the creeps. No wonder he took charge of this job." Husam says as Seok and he watch the waterbender pass them on his way out. He'd only been with them for about a month but Zolt, before the loss of his bending, had been so impressed by his skill that he was already being put in charge of missions. And now with Zolt and several members devoid of their bending as well as the Equalist threat looming, the members of the Triple Threats as well as the other triads had been conducting smaller operations to remain under Amon's detection. This forced them to come into conflict much more often now, fighting over less and less.

"Yeah but who else would take the job? Not me. But we better get back, don't want to get caught out in Equalist hours." Seok says as they load up in the trucks and head home, leaving their dirty work behind.

The group eventually arrive at a small factory on the edge of the city. The building looks to be deserted as the truck pulls up to the loading dock. Hasook, Seok, and Husam head inside as the others unload the truck. The waterbender walks to the door and gives a knock. A small slot on the door slowly opens and a set of eyes appears. After confirming their identities the slot closes and the door opens as the three walk in to a large room filled with fully functioning machinery; young children, the oldest no more than twelve, on the active assembly line stuffing pillow cases with unknown materials. The three walk by them on their way to the office on the second floor, heading up the stairwell that overlooks the entire ground floor. As they reach the office itself they see a man wearing a black gi with matching colored pants arguing with one of the children in front of him. The man's hair is long and unkempt, going down to his mid back. He also sports short black stubble on his chin similar to Seok's.

"Now listen and listen good Skoochy. If you and the others don't get back to work the line becomes quite unsafe for everyone else. And I'd hate for one of your little friends to have another accident. The work place can be so dangerous for children." He forms a fireball in his hand. "We clear?" the man says as the boy concedes and heads back down the stairs. He then turns his attention to the three. "Hasook, buddy! How you been?" the two greet each other with a strong handshake. "So what brings you here?"

"Got that shipment of spice for you Soza. Don't ask how." Hasook says as the group head into the office. "So how's the desk job treating you?"

"Truth be told it's not like cracking skulls on the streets like the good old days." Soza says leaning up against his desk. Hasook and he had been good friends ever since the firebender stopped him from trashing a restaurant after an argument with the chef. He saw the potential of the young former pro-bender and recruited him into the Triple Threats.

"Yeah but at least your not out there with those crazy Equalists kidnapping every bender they come across." Husam says casually as he leans against a wall.

"What are you worried about? They wouldn't even be able to lift you to take you to Amon." Seok jokes as the two start to laugh.

"Still with those guys out there, and Zolt with no bending, I don't know if we'll survive this one." Soza says, peering out of a window on the other side of the room that overlooks the streets of the city. He looks down on the desk at an open letter, quickly tucking it under a stack of papers. The action does not get past the waterbender however.

"What's that all about?"

"Oh, just a letter from home. Nothing to worry about."

At one of the secret chi blocker training facilities a large number of Equalists train as they prepare for when they are needed next. One, however, is not fairing very well against his opponent. He is eventually knocked on his rear by a kick from them. "You okay?" a woman's voice comes from the kneeling masked figure who offers a hand to her downed friend.

"Not sure if I'm cut out for this stuff." he accepts her hand and stands up. The man's name was Haga. He'd joined the Equalist cause only about a week ago after having lost his job and being turned down for several others. While this in itself was depressing, he couldn't help but notice each time he'd lost out to a bender. After leaving one of these failed interviews he ended up in the park where a protester had been speaking about Amon and what he could do for all non-benders. These factors had convinced him to join their cause and he was soon put into a training group lead by Sun.

"Come on you just need more practice. Besides, someone has to teach those benders their place. They're the reason people like us can't get jobs, the reason a lot of us are getting laid off. And now they have some special police force after us. We need to stick together Haga. Just remember; you're doing this for your wife and little girl. If we follow Amon, you can make a better life for them and every non-bender in the United Republic." Sun encourages as she then turns to the other trainees, who quickly get back to work after watching the scene.

The man stands up and resumes his fighting stance. "Okay, let's do this!" he shouts excitedly as he rushes toward his opponent with renewed energy.

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