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January 6, 2017
Hello to everyone reading this post. This is day 3 of my 5 day fanon a day posting spree. Today's series is Fire of the Red Lotus, and it will be the third chapter in the series.
A side note that I would like to mention: Throughout the month of December, there have been a lot of people who have revisited my fanons, even though I didn't post a new chapter for them. I really appreciate the support, especially throughout this month, when it's supposed to be a happy time with your family.
Chapter 3: Rescue Operation
The last time Mako was this stressed, he was in school, he was eight, and he still had parents.
Sitting outside the office of the administrator of his school, Mako felt a pit in his gut. He knew he did something wrong, he just couldn't remember what it was. Unfortunately, the administrator didn't see it that way, and sat Mako's parents down for a conference about their son's behavior. Of course it didn't go over well, but at least the damage in that situation was minimal. He was punished when he got home, and that was the end of that.
In this case, he might well have lost his job, his stable salary, and jeopardized the whole mission.
Two sharp raps from the door signaled to Mako that he should enter. Steeling his nerves and the adrenaline rushing through his body, he went inside the room. Within the room sat the captain of the operation, Tenzin, and Chief of Police Lin Beifong. They were seated on one side of a table, and facing Mako was a chair. He sat in it and faced the three adults, as if his sentence was about to be delivered for a homicide case in court.
The captain cleared his throat. "We're terminating you from the operation. It was a unanimous decision, and there was no other way for us to punish you. I'm sorry, but it had to be done. If your brother wishes it to be so, then he can stay on the force."
Mako was not as surprised as he expected, but he still tried to make an effort to retain his job. "Sir, is there any way that I could stay on the force? I know I made a mistake but -"
The captain cut him off. "Look, rookie, you didn't just make a mistake: You messed up the whole operation. By diving into that tunnel yourself, you could have signed your death pact. We would have had to gone looking for you, and endangered even more soldiers. Not to mention the fact that you should have called in the sighting of the cave the instant you saw it was inhabited. You destroyed our operations on a massive scale, and I don't know anything that would keep you on the force. I'm sorry."
Defeated, Mako got up from the chair, bowed down to all three adults, and left the room, morose. Bolin was waiting outside, hoping eagerly for some good news, but he found the answer in Mako's downturned face. The door to the office opened, and Tenzin and the captain headed their separate ways.
Lin, however, decided to remain behind, silently observing the scene between brothers that was going on. Finally, making up her mind, Lin walked over to Mako and Bolin, unsure of how to console them. She opened her mouth to speak, closed it again, and then opened it once more, clearly showing her uneasiness.
"I want to offer you a job."
Mako almost missed the words that came out of her mouth. "Wait, what?"
Lin repeated herself, stuttering a bit in the process. "I w-want to offer you a job. Mako, I think you would be a perfect fit for an operation that I have planned. It's basically a smaller version of the one you were just in, but with more freedom, better soldiers, and a nice paycheck," she explained.
Slightly apprehensive, Mako tried to hurl a sentence back to her before Bolin chimed in: "He'd love to accept! It's not like he has much going on at the moment." A nervous chuckle cemented the awkwardness of the situation.
Mako grabbed Bolin's forearm. "What are you doing?" he hissed. Bolin returned the gesture, clenching his hand around Mako's arm. "Getting you a job. You do the same thing that you always did. Besides, even if I get sacked, which will probably happen anyway. I can tell that the captain doesn't like me."
Bolin rammed the heel of his hand into Mako's spine, driving him forward towards the bored Chief. Mako stumbled, and stuck his hand out. "I would love to join! When do I start?"
Lin stuck her hand out as well, and they shared possibly the most awkward handshake of Mako's life. He vowed that he would murder Bolin later, once he had the chance. "You start today," the chief responded. A glint appeared in her eye. "Follow me."
Korra finally broke the surface of the sand, breathing heavily. They were well over 2 kilometers away from the cave. If it hadn't been for Ghazan's seismic sense, they might not have even avoided detection. But, aside from the gigantic hole in the ground that led to the toxic sewers, they disappeared without a trace, well over half an hour before the intruders even happened upon their cave.
Zaheer, P'Li and Ming - Hua were already ahead of Korra, bent over in pain. Even though each of them was in excellent physical condition, they could not run underground while holding their breath for a long period of time. Korra would have made it easier for them, but that would have drained her even more.
Once she had gotten her breath back, Korra walked over to Zaheer, still limping slightly from a stray rock she encountered along the path. "I've mad cup my mind," she announced. Zaheer raised a furry eyebrow. "I'm going to join Rayan. We're the Red Lotus, the most powerful organization in the world. The future of our goals shouldn't be decided by whether someone happens upon our hiding places. I want to join Rayan. THat's the only way we can see our visions to the end."
Zaheer smiled warmly. "You truly have changed. And to think, 13 years ago you would have screamed bloody murder and threatened to hunt them down. I'm glad you've become more rational." He gathered his fallen supplies. "Luckily, Ghazan chose the right way to take us. We're only a few days' journey away from Omashu, and I happen to know that Rayan frequents the underground operations there. We can trek there, wait for Rayan, and tell him the good news. Any missions from there on, you have to undertake."
Ming - Hua, P'Li and Ghazan, who just popped up from underground, agreed with Zaheer. Ming - Hua needed help getting her rucksack onto her back, but they were off shortly, heading in the Southwest direction towards the great city of Omashu.
Mako had no idea how he'd wound up walking the sewers of Republic City, but he did know that it was because Lin Beifong decided to hole up her operations in the most inconvenient place possible. After about a kilometer of walking in the stench and filth of Republic City's finest, they came upon a platinum door set in the side of the rock that walled the sewer. Bolin, who only came upon Mako's insistence, was the first to rush through the door once it opened.
Inside was a gigantic room, layered with technology unseen by Mako when he worked with the task force. Lin spoke up behind him. "I've learned, not only from this project but from all of my criminal busts, that the criminals usually get better stuff than what we get. I decided to use that to my advantage."
Mako whirled around. "What reason would you, the Chief of Police have, for making a secret organization? What's the point? How do I know that this just isn't a trap?" With each question, Mako stalked forward, until he was eye to eye with Lin. She didn't back down.
"First of all, rookie, I think its a bit rich of you to accuse me of trying to sabotage you, especially when there's nothing to sabotage you for. Second, do you know how hard my mother has worked to make a better world for everyone? I am not going to stay here in Republic City and pretend the world is safe when we don't know the state of the Avatar. Got it?"
Her harsh barrage of words knocked the breath out of Mako, and he slouched backwards. Lin sighed, and continued, "Now that that's over, let's get into what you'll be doing, Mako." Lin walked over to the main control center, dominated by a large electronic map on the screen. A red dot was highlighted on the location of the cave, and it also labeled with a green dot that signified the location of the Avatar's first and only mission, the village of Guandlau.
"As I'm sure that you know, the green dot is where the Avatar saved a village under attack, and the red dot is where you found her cave. Basically, to make this simple, the Avatar is going to save more people, and will try and gain more support. That is what this operation is working towards. The more locations that we can determine the Avatar helps, the better we can triangulate her position."
Mako nodded his head slowly. The better technology that Lin managed to obtain would let him - and presumably, other soldiers, thanks to the inside information from Bolin - get to locations quicker. Genius.
"Mako, I want you on watch from 8 am in the morning to 6 pm in the afternoon. You'll have the guise of a regular job. Bolin, you'll be our inside man in the task force. Let us know of any major developments in missions. Any information we get is important."
Mako and Bolin stood shoulder to shoulder, filled with a sense of purpose for the first time in their lives. Out of nowhere, Mako's arm came up and pointed at his temple. Standing at attention, Mako called out, "Yes sir!"
Lin cracked a smile. "Maybe you'll end up being a police officer once this all blows over, rookie."
Korra had only been in Omashu for two weeks, and she loved the city. Even as a member of the Red Lotus, having to hide from the patrols in the city, there was something about the gigantic mountain that the city was built on that made her almost jump for joy.
The outside of the city, seen from the roads, was a gigantic cone, with smooth enough sides that houses could be built on them. However, the secret underground base that Korra currently lived in was amazing, to say the least.
Instead of entering the mountain through the traveler roads, Korra had to come in from the flat plains in the south, completely avoiding the patrol that surrounded the perimeter. Then, they had to crawl through the sewage pipes of the city and using Zaheer's connections with Rayan, could get access to the inner city.
While it did take a lot of work to reach Omashu, Korra found that they were much safer, much more comfortable and much more suited for this lifestyle. She had an actual bed! The last time that she slept on a real bed...
She couldn't remember. Regardless, the inner city was a gigantic network of paths and walkways that ascended upwards within the mountain. The ground floor contained all of the important rooms and the vital resources for survival, including a subset of earthbending that involved the growing of food. Korra would have to try that someday.
Her room was a spacious cavern that was easily large enough to fit her supplies, as well as give her enough space to practice her bending. Within a few days, Korra had grasped the ability to draw water from sources far away, even going so far as to destroy the drains in her room because she tapped into the water source below the ground floor.
After two weeks of practicing her bending, lounging around and living the privileged life, at least by her standards, she finally got to meet Rayan once more. Like the last time, he worse special armor, specifically designed for him, obviously. He appeared in her room while she was meditating, along with the other Red Lotus members.
After asking for her presence, he quickly exited the room and began to walk in a seemingly random pattern through the mountain until he reached a room that was more protected than the rest, encased in platinum and protected by an electronic password. Inside, a large room filled with electronic gadgets emerged. In the center was an arced table in front of a screen that Rayan controlled with a remote in his pocket.
He clicked a series of buttons, and a large map of the known world appeared. Selling down in a chair, Rayan gestured for the others to take a seat as well. He began once everyone was properly adjusted.
"As you know, our goal as a group is to work on the elimination of discrimination between benders and nonbenders. I myself am a nonbender, and your Zaheer is as well. However, you have shown that benders and nonbenders can peacefully coexist. This is the way that we should spread our influence."
He clicked a button again, and many green dots appeared all over the world. "All of these dots are places where anarchists are trying to gain a hold in small villages. They are part of a larger group called The Disorder. It is a reference to both the disease that infects our world, but also the lack of order that they try to implement. That is what we must combat. The world needs an Avatar, and if you show that you aren't afraid to stand up for the oppressed."
Korra hadn't moved throughout the presentation, and now that Rayan was completed, she nodded slowly. Without any preamble, she said, "When can I start?"
A flash of teeth appeared in Rayan's face; the first time he showed emotion when talking with Korra. With another series of clicks on his remote, he managed to pinpoint a green dot not far from Omashu itself, in the northwestern direction. "An isolated village that has no name. The anarchists want to gain access to the village because it is in a perfect location as a storage center for their movements in the desert. If you defeat them here, it will be a major blow to their plans."
Uncharacteristically, Korra punched her palm with her fist. "Then what are we waiting for?"
Mako glanced at the clock once more and groaned. The clock had barely changed its numbers in the countless times that he looked at it. In fact, it felt like time was slowing down, just to put him in more agony. He leaned back in his chair and felt like hitting something.
The clock read 4:48. Mako still had over an hour left before he could go home, or the specific attic that would be his home for the next few weeks until he could afford an apartment. Thanks to the government, he and Bolin were bringing in easy money, and they could finally afford to rent out some basements and attics for Asami and her father.
But oh, how Mako envied Bolin, being able to train with government soldiers, consistent activity and making lasting relationships. Who knows, with Pabu, Bolin could get friends all on his own. But stuck underground in the bunker, having to slosh through the sewers every day to "work", almost didn't feel worth the fat paycheck. Almost.
Somedays, however, Mako was glad the map didn't change. Yes, he would be bored, but some of the technicians and passing soldiers sometimes greeted him. And besides, the fact that he could stay in the room, without having to do anything, and receive money was more than he could ask for.
Until, approximately two minutes later, the map began to flash red. Mako was jolted out of his stupor, and immediately smashed a red button to his right, yelling into the microphone in front of him that echoed throughout the underground bunker. Within seconds, Lin was in the room, suiting up. Mako sat in the chair, simply waiting for an order from the Chief of Police.
Lin looked up, halfway through getting her suit on. "What, you don't want to join me out there?" For the second time in two minutes, Mako was shocked, but this time, it wasn't for long. Leaping out of the chair, Mako told a technician to handle the control room, and retrieved the same suit that he used when he was still with the government. Quickly pulling it on, Mako grabbed some weapons and followed Lin out of Republic City and into one of the transport vehicles that would take them to the spot of the attack.
It would take nearly two days for Mako and Lin to return, having spent the majority of that time in the vehicle. Luckily, the bridges that were built across the canals in the Earth Kingdom were much sturdier now, otherwise their bodies would have washed up on the shores of a river hours ago.
Unfortunately, and yet as expected, they didn't find anyone of interest save for a few beaten mercenaries and awed citizens. Citizens who, on many occasions, praised the Avatar for her omnipresence in saving them. Had it not been for her, they said, they would have lost all of their resources to the bandits, and they might not have survived the storms.
But Lin was not discouraged, even if Mako was. Groaning in the passenger seat of the transport vehicle, Mako complained, "What was the point of that? We didn't get any information. Do you think the Avatar's going to stay out here and wait until we get here so that we can ask her questions?"
Lin gave him a look mixed with disgust and awe. "No, you moron. We're doing this so that we can determine where the Avatar is. Think like a cop. Now, according to numerous eyewitnesses, the Avatar went in a southeast direction. We can't search all of the desert, so we let this play itself out. The Avatar isn't harming anyone, except for mercenaries that we would have to take out anyway. So let's allow the Avatar to save people, and then, with all the information, we should be able to figure out where she is."
Mako nodded, taken aback by the Chief's intuitive skills and analytical observations. He would have to apply himself more if we wanted to perform as well as her in the future, especially if it came to looking for the Avatar.
Rayan snuck away from the Red Lotus as soon as he could. Stealing away to the screen room, Rayan punched in a code that only he knew, which would allow him direct access to Republic City. Just like the last time that he saw his leader, he was completely in the dark, with only his gloves to show that he still sat in the room.
Rayan bowed, bending onto one knee. "Our plans are working, sir," he intoned. "We had to pull some strings, but the boy is out of our problems now. All that remains is getting the Avatar to gain support, and then we can get her to replace each of the world's leaders. Once that happens, then we can move forward with Phase 2. Everything is working."
A dark chuckle escaped the man's lips; deeper than one would think imaginable. "It is amusing that you think this is so. I have many sources that say otherwise."
Rayan gulped, choosing his words carefully. They may be his last. "We...regardless of any problems, sir, simply keep your trust in me. I will perform to the best of my abilities and eradicate any opposition to our plans."
The man leaned forward, not so much as he was visible, but enough to show the insignia of a flame, outlining in dark black the words "Disorder". "I hope so, for your sake. I have put all my faith in you, and should you fail me..." He let the sentence hang in the air. Moving back to his original position, the man finalized the conversation with a monotone, "Disorder is the only order."
Rayan nodded, and he whispered the words to himself, as if they were an incantation that would strengthen his own belief in the words.
"Disorder is the only order."
Somehow, throughout this chapter, I made being underground and in the sewers a major part of the story. I'm sorry for anyone who is slightly squeamish regarding those things, but they had to have been included at some point.
That's all I have to say for this chapter. Remember to come back tomorrow for day 4 iin the 5 day long fanon posting spree, which is the 3rd chapter for The Avatar's Apprentice. See you then!
For the collective works of the author, go here.