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|The Mind Bender|
"I'm telling you all, nothing needs to be done presently in regards to this so called upsurge of bending gangs." Tarrlok stated to Tenzin and the other council members. Like every typical council meeting, Tenzin and Tarrlok were arguing about something while the other council members sat and watched. Tenzin's brows curled as he spoke his reply.
"Tarrlok, these gangs have been causing destruction all throughout Republic City. Something has to be done!"
"There will always be gangs Tenzin; we neither have the time nor the resources to stop every little group of thugs that pops up in the city. Chief Beifong and her police force have been working overtime as it is and have already put a stop to many of them." The other council members nodded in agreement, causing Tenzin to merely shake his head. Tarrlok continued. "Now, if we have no other pieces of business to bring up, I believe I will call this meeting to end." Tarrlok began to take up and use his gavel, but stopped just before using it to speak. "Unless of course our esteemed mayor would like to add something? Perhaps something useful and informative?" Tarrlok glanced at a slightly middle-aged man sitting at the opposite end of the table who was wearing a dark, navy-colored cloak. The man raised his head from looking down at the table and rose from his seat. Before he spoke, the man brushed aside some of the black, graying hair out of his eyes. He faced the council with a stern expression.
"Tarrlok is correct; there are always gangs running around in Republic City, and I have seen the metal benders working quite hard 24/7. But what, specifically have you, as the Council done?" The mayor then formed his lips into a sarcastic smile. "Clearly, Tarrlok wouldn't want to work to catch the putrid gangs of this city in fear that he would mess up his fabulous ponytails." Ironically, Jiàn himself tied his hair, although his single ponytail was not nearly as elaborate as Tarrlok's four ponytails. Tarrlok's face flared to red with rage at the statement as the other council members chuckled to themselves. Tenzin simply placed a hand over his face, half to hide his embarrassment at Jiàn's statement and half to hide his laughter. He really does know how to get on Tarrlok's bad side, Tenzin thought.
"Is this some kind of joke Jiàn?!" Tarrlok shouted. He then calmed himself and continued. "Well, clearly you have nothing of importance to say so I'll just end this meeting."
"Now hold on," Tenzin interrupted. "I believe Jiàn had more to say." Tarrlok shot Tenzin an ugly look but allowed Jiàn to continue.
"Anyway, what I was meant through my undignified joke about Tarrlok was to say that someone in this room needs to take a direct stance opposing this gang tyranny. We all know it exists, but has anyone here ever addressed the problem publically unless they were prompted to?" Tenzin looked pensive after hearing this statement while Tarrlok continued to look at Jiàn in disgust. The other council members all shrugged and shook their heads. "It took Avatar Aang to finally stand up and stop Yakone from evading the political system, but the damages had already been. We cannot risk the rise of another Yakone; any of these gangs could possess someone as evil as he was. Someone in this room ought to take some sort of stand." Tenzin was about to reply to the mayor when the chairmen interrupted him.
"So you are requesting us to enable you to solely take a military stance against these gangs?" Tarrlok asked rudely.
"Unless someone one the council would rather take on the job, then yes I would" Jiàn stated. No councilmember seemed to volunteer. "I know such a task could be potentially dangerous but..." Tarrlok cut him off before he could continue.
"As law dictates, military power falls solely in the hands of the Council, NOT the mayor. In fact, it is the mayor's job to keep the people in calm and peace. Such talk about rising gang violence would go against what your whole job is meant to do." Jiàn shrugged; he knew Tarrlok was right in that regard. However, Tenzin pointed out a brilliant loophole.
"So as long as Jiàn keeps quite about the gangs, he is free to take actions against them?" Jiàn grinned; he had a feeling Tenzin would know a loophole around his dilemma. Tarrlok looked flustered at Tenzin's logic, knowing full well that he was right. Stuttering a little with his words, Tarrlok finally managed to piece together a reply.
"Er...a...I suppose your right Tenzin, but as we said before, we have no funds or men to supply him with."
"Not a problem," Jiàn replied quickly. "I have my own way of doing things..." Tarrlok opened his mouth and raised a finger to retort but Jiàn continued. "...That follows all laws and guidelines set by the Council. Also, any and all funds and resources used will be my own." Tarrlok shut his mouth and put his hand back down. Tarrlok then gave a dark grin and gave a very strict condition to Jiàn's proposal.
"Very well, so you take full responsibility for this task of reducing gang activity, correct? However, with concerns to your role as mayor, let it also be known that if the public learns of the full details of your task, you shall receive punishment for your misdemeanors and failure to abide by policies set for the mayor."
"And what punishment would you have put on me Tarrlok? Certainly a fine or imprisonment would be unjust because I would not be committing a serious offence." Tarrlok scratched his chin, and then another wide grin appeared on his face.
"I believe a 2 years suspension from the Council would be reasonable. And further punishment may be determined if he is unable to reduce gang activity sufficiently within the next month." The other council members muttered to themselves, including Tenzin. Not only would a suspension prevent Jiàn from attending council meetings, but it would also severely taint his reputation as mayor, possibly so much as to force him to resign. "Think about it. It is a gift that we are even considering allowing him to undergo such a task that essentially defies his whole job description. Jiàn should be glad I am not considering permanent dismissal. So, will you undergo this task and accept consequences for your discovery?" Jiàn thought for a few moments and nodded.
"I will take full responsibility for the job. I will accept your punishment for failing this task, but you and I both know there will be no need for further punishment, because I will accomplish this goal." At this, Tarrlok told Jiàn he would hold a vote, which passed unanimously for the Council. Even Tenzin agreed on the vote, although he was only swayed to do so when Jiàn gave him a look of reassurance. As all the council members walked out, Tenzin pulled Jiàn aside. "Are you sure what you know what you're doing?" Tenzin asked. "Tarrlok's playing you. He's going to have the media all over you, which will just make solving the gang problem even more difficult." Jiàn turned to the air bender and placed a hand over his shoulder.
"Tenzin, old friend, look at the big picture here. I actually get to do something besides the cultural busywork and random speaking Tarrlok assigns me. I can actually help the people of Republic City, not just be their supposed 'representative'!"
"But that 2 year punishment possibility is far too severe. It will only make your task that much more difficult!" Jiàn chuckled slightly when Tenzin said this.
"Oh Tenzin, has it ever occurred to you that I'm not actually a member of the Council?" Tenzin scratched his head in confusion and stuttered for a second or two before Jiàn continued. "Tarrlok said so himself; I just sit in on these meetings so I can keep track of any new rules set for the city. Tarrlok said I'd be suspended from the Council; he never said anything about being suspended from council meetings. He never specified at all what he meant by a suspension from the Council, which, from what I researched yesterday, is not specifically written down as to what suspension from the Council really is." Tenzin nodded, although he was still not completely sure of what his friend meant. "In fact, it was written done explicitly by Councilmen Sokka that the mayor is not an actual member of the Council; rather he is an aid to the Council." Tenzin looked very shocked at Jiàn's logic, which he knew was exactly right.
"How did you know exactly what Tarrlok would do in response to your idea?"
"Tarrlok's an easy person to read. He wants to help the city, but he wants attention and a good image far more than aiding the people. I could tell he felt the gang problem to be an issue, but not one vital enough that he could gain much reward from it. Tarrlok also can't stand me, so he figured giving me the task, which he knew I'd do no matter what, and applying a punishment would be killing two raven hawks with one stone. So, as you can see, I was the one who played Tarrlok, not the other way around."
"I just don't know how you do it Jiàn..."
"You may be able to bend air, but I can bend my mind and my opponent's in such ways that I can always get what I need." The two then proceeded to exit the council building. Just as they reached the door to exit, Tenzin realized one potential problem.
"So how exactly do you plan to solve the gang problem without the aid of the police force or the United Forces?"
"There are plenty of people in this city who need work and want revenge against the gangs like I do. I'm sure I'll find a couple of people in that mix who can keep this a secret."
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