Recruiting Drive Part 2
Chapter information

Shadows of Equality



Written by


Release date

October 25, 2013

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Recruiting Drive Part 1

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Recruiting Drive Part 3

The following day no fewer than forty men and women are collected together in a cramped meeting room in the basement of a local shop, among them are a Firuz and Kiri. The two have cloaks draped over them as well as their own personal attempts to mask their identities, with the older man having his normally spiked hair combed down under a brimmed hat and his assistant with her hair tied in a bun and donning a large pair of glasses. "What are we doing here again? I thought you said we were still recruiting." she says quietly in an attempt to keep from having any attention drawn to the pair.

"We're recruiting alright. We just need to wait for them to show up." her boss says casually as the crowd becomes silent as a woman with short brown hair wearing a gray shirt with white pants takes the small stage in front of the assembly. She is accompanied by a bodyguard on either side of her. The man on the right sports dark skin, light brown wavy hair, and green eyes, wearing a jacket and pants in a combination of the grays and browns common in the United Republic. The man on the opposite side has a lighter tan with a black pompadour hairstyle sporting a loose fitting, long sleeved shirt in Fire Nation red with black pants and a pair of martial arts shoes. The obvious difference between the two men can be clearly seen in their facial expressions; while the man on the right keeps a stern look on his face at all times the other wears a bright, enthusiastic smile as the woman steps up to address those gathered.

"My friends, I welcome you all to the Anti-Equalist League." As she continues on with a speech about the increasing danger of the extremists, Kiri begins to question Firuz.

"Anti-Equalists?" she says puzzled.

"Not every non-bender in the city agrees with what Amon is doing. They're looking for a way to defeat the Equalists politically rather than by force. I've been coming to these meetings for weeks seeing if Tarrlok could use anyone here, but now we can do what we want, so for now just sit back, listen and pretend like you belong and we can get what and who we came here for." He says to her quietly as the two sit back comfortably on two chairs as the woman on stage continues, Kiri listening contently.

About an hour later the meeting lets out rather quickly with everyone going their own way so as not to draw too much attention. Firuz and Kiri themselves make their way down to a local bar as the assistant continues to barrage her boss with questions. "I thought you said we were going to recruit someone and you didn't say a single thing to anyone except that woman."

"Ainu, her name is Ainu. And were still recruiting, I just needed to know where they were headed." Firuz tells her calmly as they reach the bar. "And here they are." as he says this a man comes flying out of the door, slamming his left arm hard on the pavement. "After you." He gestures politely as Kiri gives him an agitated look before walking inside where a fight is still raging. The two take seats closest to the door and observe the situation. From her seat Kiri can make out the combatants easily, with four men on what appears to be two, or rather it would if the one wasn't leaning casually against the wall making it appear four on one. She recognizes the two as the body guards from the meeting as the fight continues with the man in red sporting an excited smile as he recklessly charges into the group, his dark skinned silent friend merely watching, a sword hilt slightly visible under his long brown trench coat. As she looks on further, Firuz slides two more dossiers in front of her and she begins reading.

"Alright boys who wants to go another round." The excited man asks as the four men attack. He parries the first attacker who throws a powerful punch forward, maneuvering around him and pushing him to the ground.

"Jiro Ota, age 25. Non-bender?" Kiri reads as her eyes stop at the last line, causing her to look questionably at her employer.

Firuz ignores her gaze and points a finger back down at the stack of papers. "Keep reading."

As she continues, so does the brawl as Jiro avoids another attack as a firebender in the group unleashes a blast of heat, prompting him to dive forward and tackling the bender to the ground. "Former member of the Republic City Police Force." he jumps off of his target as the remaining two attempt an attack from behind. He turns to them grabbing the first man and tossing him over the counter top and into the racks of bottled liquor. The second gets in three good punches to his face, causing him to stagger before regaining his senses, cross-countering the fourth blow and retaliating with four good hits of his own before delivering a final kick to his opponents face. "Relieved of duty due to excessive use of force and extensive damage to both public and private property. May be mentally unstable?"

"Well that was never proven. He's what you'd call a bit overzealous." The earthbender says in a relaxed tone as he sits back to watch the remainder of the show. The firebender, having already recovered opens fire again with a series of quick shots as Jiro finds cover behind an overturned table. He grabs a chair and hurls it over the table only for it to explode from a direct hit. Having distracted his attacker momentarily, he rushes out toward him and unleashes a torrent of kicks and punches that make short work of him. He shouts into the air in triumph, unaware that the man he had thrown over the counter earlier had come back up and grabs him from behind as his last conscious compatriot rushes forward and drop kicks Jiro square in the stomach. As the kicker falls to the ground due to the attack the man behind the counter lifts his captive over him and returns the favor by performing a suplex that slams Jiro into what remains of the racks. "Though he's never been good and thinking ahead. But he never gives up." Ota rises once more behind the man and slams his head against the counter and leaps over to finish the others, who scramble for the door, only to be blocked by Ota's silent partner, who finally draws his long, single bladed, curved sword. With their path blocked they have no choice but to face their bruised, blooded, yet still energetic enemy.

Two hours later Firuz and Kiri are down at the police station, having been allowed to bail out Jiro and his silent friend. The two wait in one of the interrogation rooms and are soon joined by the chief of police, Lin Beifong. The stern faced woman walks into the room and slams a clip board onto the table as Kiri begins to sweat nervously. As she shivers in her seat she notices Beifong beginning to shake slightly, chuckling under her breath before it turns into full blown laughter, creeping out the young woman. "It's been a while old friend." she says as she smiles.

"About four, five years Lin. I remember when you were still working up to lieutenant with the rest of us." Firuz stands as the two shake hands and begin conversing.

"Keeping the people of this city has always been a top priority for me, same as it was for my mother."

"Sure she'd be proud."

"Wait, you two know each other?" a confused Kiri states, having relaxed a bit.

"Your friend here worked for the city for years as a metalbender cop under my mother until he took a hit from Lightning Bolt Zolt. That shoulder still acting up?"

"It has it's days. Not to be rude but I didn't really come for a social call." He says getting back to the task of securing the two hopefuls' release.

"I see. But why are you going out of your way to get these two. Ota's nothing but trouble, the only officer I ever gave up on, and the other one I can't even tell you much about." The Chief looks directly into Firuz's eyes, attempting to discern his intentions. "Your up to something as usual. What's it this time?"

"Now Lin, you know that would be telling. But let's just say I've got plans to deal with this Amon character."

After a few moments of silence Lin leans back. "You've always been one to go the extra mile. But let me warn you right here and now: If you or any of whoever it is you're involved with get caught I can't help you. Now if you'll follow me I'll take you to the cell, they've been down there dealing with some doctor."

"Appreciate it Lin." the three head down the to the holding area where they hear a loud scream. Kiri decides to break the silence by asking the chief a few questions. She rushes slightly ahead of Firuz to catch up to her.

"Chief, could I get your opinion of these two? My boss hasn't said much about them and I'd like to know a little more than what's on this paper." she says as they continue on down the lengthy set of concrete and metal halls.

"Well I can tell you right now you're getting a handful with Ota. He's brash, unpredictable and has a serious delusions of grandeur. The only thing he wants out of life is to be the biggest hero since Avatar Aang. He'll do his job, just don't count on him not to go above and beyond. As for the other one all I can tell you is all you really need to know. His name is Tafari. He's from a tribe in the southern Earth Kingdom. We've had a few run-ins with him in the past but he usually keeps to himself."

"So what makes him so special?"

"Don't let him fool you, he's every bit as lethal as any of the gangsters in this city. His people are fierce warriors and devoutly loyal to any cause they commit to. Just don't bring up the Avatar."

"The Avatar, why?"

"It's a touchy subject for them. Their land was seized by the Fire Nation during the war. When Avatar Aang founded the United Republic, their ancestral home was right in the center of it."

"They didn't take that so well I take it?"

"Far from it. They rose up and tried to take their land back by force. Aang stopped them and they retreated back into the Earth Kingdom. Twenty years ago they attempted a smaller attack with less than stellar results. They've never gotten over that to this day and they get by any way they can, so don't expect a warm welcome if you bring it up."

After a few minutes they finally reach the source of the scream, Jiro as his doctor pours alcohol on the cuts on his arm. "Grow up will you?" the physician, a man slightly older than Jiro with smooth short hair, wearing matching burgundy pants and a shirt says as he bandages him up. "It's just not worth my time to come every time you get into a fist fight. Don't you have any kind of self control? Or better yet can't you control him Tafari?" he asks the dark skin man who only gives him a shrug before closing his eyes as he sits back on the bed against the wall.

"I was fighting for a worthy cause!" Jiro shouts as he attempts to stand only to fall back down in pain.

"And look what that got you. One of these days you're going to get yourself killed for one of those worthy causes." He stops as the three notice their new visitors.

"Good news Ota, you boys are free to go. I trust you can take it from here." Lin says as she bangs on the bars. "Just don't do anything stupid."

"Oh come on chief, you know me." Jiro says rubbing the back of his head.

"Wasn't talking to you." She says giving the other metalbender a quick smile.

"Thank you Lin." Firuz walks up as she unlocks the cell and heads off. "Gentlemen, I have an offer for you that I'm sure you won't want to pass up." The doctor and Ota give a confused look while Tafari merely opens his eyes to their direction as Firuz allows Kiri to begin explaining.

At the pro-bending arena the Rabaroos are in the middle of another intense training session in preparation for the tournament, Binh seated on a stake of earth discs against the wall. While dodging one of Ula's attacks, Umi continues an hour long argument with the team's firebending captain, a conversation that had been repeated over the past three days and one to which neither of the two would back down from their stance. "But seriously, why can't we help these guys out. And don't give me that whole "I burnt the card" excuse because we all know you have a picture perfect memory."

Adi responds with a blast of fire that knocks Umi off her feet. She proceeds to through three more strikes that send the waterbender across the floor. "Because I'm team captain, because it's my apartment we've been staying in that the prize money pays for, and because we've practiced too long and too hard to drop it all for some anonymous note dropper." She calms herself, using the standard breathing techniques of firebending, ending the scuffle.

Ula helps Umi to her feet as she looks back at Adi. "Fine. Man you can be such a pain!" she throws what remains of her water toward an unsuspecting Adi's feet, causing her to lose her footing and tumble to the ground. The firebender slams her hands against the floor of the training hall, turning the thin sheet of ice into steam before charging at Umi. The two seem to forgo the need for bending, choosing to handle things with direct combat. Before their fists meet an earthbending disc separates them as both of their hands smash against the object. The two jump back, blowing and rubbing their wounds as Ula lowers the projectile.

"Now the two of you need to get a grip and calm down." The earthbender's voice powerful and commanding, appropriate for her muscular build. "Now I'll admit we've been training a long time for this, it's all we used to talk about, but this guy, whoever he is, has a point. We can't completely ignore what's going on with the Equalists either. Whether this is the right time to talk about it or not I don't know but what I do know is that we should at least consider the possibility that we might have to face these guys sooner or later. I'm not saying we drop out of the tournament, but the least we could do is hear this guy out." she finishes by bringing over a bucket of water for Umi to heal them with.

"Why do you always have to make it seem like everyone's in the right in some way. I hate that." Umi dips her hand into the water, utilizing her healing before putting some around her hands and helping Adi out. "I'm sorry okay. You're team captain and I can respect that. I just think we should keep an open mind."

Adi swallows her pride as well and precedes to apologize. "And I can respect that you've got your heart in the right place. Sooner or later we might have to step up and help out. It's just been a lot of hard work and I just don't want all we worked for to go to waste. That and the rent doesn't pay for itself." the captain rubs her hands together seeing the fine work the water has done. "Tell you what, how about we go to the address tomorrow and just see what this whole thing is about, deal?" the two shake in agreement as Binh hops down from the stack.

"Ah, happy ending. To think, under all that pro-bending toughness is just a couple of softies." He fakes wiping a tear from his eye and starts to chuckle.

"Softies huh? Let's show him how soft we really are girls." Adi says as the trio pounce on him. The group fall over in a heap, laughing and playing. A short while later they all enjoy a refreshing drink as they talk more.

Binh, barely able to hold his excitement any longer speaks up. "Still, how cool would it be to fight those Equalists? I'd be all like hi-yah." he jumps up, kicking into the air sending a streak of flames across his path. He then performs several more punches and kicks before finally attempting a back flip, only to fall on his back. The others laugh and smile at his efforts, despite his clumsy finish. "Well you guys get the idea." The fun ends when the bell on Aang memorial island sounds to the tone of ten in the distance. "Aw man, I was supposed to be home by now! Listen I'll see you guys tomorrow, but don't go without me. Okay?" he rushes out and takes the streets and alleys for the fastest way home.

He finally reaches the steps of his home, checking his pocket watch to confirm the time. He checks the window and can see the dim light of the lamp on the table of the living room. He takes a deep breath before unlocking the door with his key and stepping inside. "Mom, dad, I'm home. Sorry for being so late."

"It's okay honey. Come into the living room, there's someone your father and I want you to meet," his mother, Chun's soft voice calls from the living room. He steps in to find his mother and father, Gang seated on the couch against the back wall of the room. Seated across from them against the window are a man and woman he'd never seen before, each sipping a cup of tea. The man sports a short bowel cut hairstyle while the woman has her black hair tied up.

"There's the man of the hour." the woman says excitedly. "I'm Sun and this is Haga." the man stands and shakes a confused Binh's hand.

"Uh, hello. Mom what's this all about? Did I do something wrong?" he asks as his parents look at him with serious faces.

"Why don't you sit down honey? We really need to talk."

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