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|The Scarlet Deity|
September 28, 2013
The next day, the police station was busy as usual. Metal benders ran around the office frantically to file new reports about the crimes going on throughout the city. Lin Beifong was going through a few reports when Saikhan entered her office.
"Chief, there's someone here to see you," Saikhan said. "Should I let him..."
"Who in their right mind thinks they can just barge in here and do whatever they want?!" Lin interrupted. Rather than wait for a reply from Saikhan, the guest walked into Lin's office anyway. Lin sighed. "Jiàn... I should have guessed it was you." Unlike before, Jiàn did not tie his long hair in a ponytail and wore a bluish-grey tailcoat, a plain white undershirt, and beige pants as opposed to his usual formal attire. He also was not wearing his trademark navy cloak.
"Good to see you too Lin," Jiàn replied sarcastically. Saikhan, sensing tension in room, decided to close the door and leave. Jiàn then took a seat.
"Now what is it you want?" Lin asked coldly. "If it is in regards to troops, Tarrlok already gave me strict orders not to supply you with any of my metal benders." Lin then looked around and spoke her next words more quietly. "Although to be honest, I will not mind giving you an officer or two if you really need it. I can't stand you, but I can't stand Tarrlok more." Jiàn laughed and shook his head. Although he knew Lin was not a big fan of his, the two had been friends in the past, but their friendship was strained a bit after Tenzin's break-up with her, as she believed he took Tenzin's side on the whole thing. Still, she knew that Jiàn's heart was usually in the right place for things, so she did not treat him "quite" as harshly as she did others.
"All I came here for was to ask for a little, 'personal space' if you would," Jiàn stated. "Tarrlok's going to have the media all over me because the public is not supposed to know what I'm up to. I would be extremely appreciative if you and the police force would be so kind as to not hound me with questions like the media and, if possible, see if you can help keep the media off my back." Lin nodded.
"Consider it done. But are you sure you don't want any officers to help you? I'm sure I could pull a few strings to..." Jiàn stopped her.
"If the Council learned you lent some of your men to me, you'd be in severe trouble. I can deal with myself being punished, but I wouldn't feel right knowing I also had you punished." Lin was a little shocked at the comment. However, rather than thanking him for the nice thought, which she felt would make her look stupid, she replied sarcastically.
"Please, I could deal with any punishment Tarrlok and the Council could think up," Lin answered. "And, despite the recent spike in crime, I could surely spare an officer or two to assist you. But if you truly don't want any metal benders..." Jiàn stopped her again.
"I'm sure Lin. The added protection from the media is all I will need. Besides," He whispered his next few words. "Between you and me, two of my associates don't get along too well with benders." Jiàn then shook hands with Lin. "Well, it's been a pleasure, as usual Lin." Once he left, Lin went back to over viewing the criminal reports when she realized a few of the reports on her desk were now missing. What exactly are you planning Jiàn, Lin thought to herself.
Jiàn sat on a park bench reading over the criminal reports he had stealthily taken off of Lin's desk. One report described a man known simply as Ping, a pale skinned writer for the Hunky Hog Monkey newspaper who was known for his satirical criticism of the Council, bending gangs, and corruption in general. However, the report mainly noted a situation where a few metal benders "were following standard procedures" when they "were attacked ruthlessly for no reason whatsoever." The other report was for a girl known as The Scarlet Deity, a pickpocket and shop thief who was named as such for her "blinding red and pink hair, almost divine appearance, and god-like reflexes" according to the report. As Jiàn read the report, he noticed that most of the reported thefts were from wealthy benders. Hmm, Jiàn thought to himself. Both of these people could be of great use to me, but I'm thinking this Scarlet Deity may be easier to spot in a crowd than this poet. Jiàn decided he would start with finding the girl first. As he stood up from the bench and started walking, Jiàn accidentally bumped into a middle aged man with a long, handle bar mustache, causing him to drop the criminal report on Ping.
"Oh, my apologies," the mustached man said, reaching for the paper to hand it back to Jiàn. However, Jiàn quickly grabbed the paper and shoved it in his coat pocket. "No no, MY apologies, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going," Jiàn replied with a laugh. The two then parted ways, but the mustache man turned around briefly to catch another glimpse of Jiàn. Why did that guy have a police report on him, the man thought. He certainly doesn't look like a police officer. The man scratched his mustache a few times. "What are you up to?" the man said aloud.
Jiàn walked around the downtown area of Republic City in hopes of finding this Scarlet Deity. As usual, the downtown area was bustling with people from all over the city, making it quite difficult to spot out a single person in such large crowds. After only a short while, a few reporters swarmed around Jiàn and began pestering him with questions.
"Mr. Mayor, rumors have been speculating you are assembling an army to fight off the bending gangs, is this true?"
"Don't you feel such a job should be handled by the Council?"
"Mayor Jiàn, is it true that gang crime has really risen in the past few months? Should citizens be worried?"
"Is it also true that you mocked Tarrlok's hair during the last Council meeting?" Dozens of other reporters surrounded him and shouted questions at him. Once they toned down, Jiàn spoke his reply very calmly and diplomatically.
"Gangs and coalitions have been an issue in societies since the beginning of human history. It is true that perhaps gang activity has risen in recent months, but our esteemed police force is working overtime in stopping the gangs' progress." Jiàn looked sternly at the crowd around him. "As far as if I play a role in all of this, I can make a promise to you as both your mayor and a fellow citizen that there is no cause to panic, everything is in good hands. No further questions." Jiàn gently pushed aside one of the reporters to free himself from the media circle. The giant crowd of reporters tried hounding him with more questions, but luckily, a few metal benders arrived to keep them back. Jiàn resumed his search a few moments later. Suddenly, shouts emitted from one of the vendors. Jiàn turned his head and watched a blur dart out of one of the store's windows. At a closer glance, he recognized the blur to be a young girl, possibly in her late teens, early twenties. Her long, crimson ponytail waved in the air during her leap, making the numerous streaks of pink in her hair rippled like waves. Her bright pink eyes also glistened in the daylight alongside her hair. The girl had a very athletic body, made even more evident by the tight, black blouse that she wore. Despite her very colorful hair and eyes, her entirely black short skirt, leggings, and facemask made her out to be quite the intimidating figure. Yep, that's definitely her, Jiàn thought. As the Scarlet Deity dashed away, a very elegantly dressed man emerged and shouted at her, ordering a few benders to chase after her. Jiàn followed closely behind them in silence.
The girl made a mad dash around a corner, and then returned around the corner to toss a few knives at her assailants before continuing her departure. The knives only knocked down a few of the men, but they did buy the Scarlet Deity a couple extra seconds. She darted down an alleyway, hoping to blend into a crowd on the other side. Unfortunately, the particular alley she chose was one way, the other side being blocked by a building. She silently cursed to herself and turned around to face her opponents. The lead assailant, a scruffy bearded earth bender in a green suit, stepped towards her.
"Man, this girl is quite the cutie," the man said in a very rugged voice. "Hey darling, I don't wanna have to mess your pretty face up so why don't you just..." The Scarlet Deity immediately tossed a few more knives at the benders, most of which the leader stopped with earth bending. She then darted straight at the men, sliding right under one of the benders and, right afterwards, stabbing two of the benders with a small sai in each hand. The girl then leapt out of the way to dodge a barrage of fireballs, kicked off one of the alleyway walls, and tossed a few darts to knock down a few more of the benders. The only assailant left was the earth bender. She got ready to strike him when she suddenly found her feet stuck in the ground. The earth bender laughed and walked toward the girl, who was struggling to break free of the ground. He then kicked the Scarlet Deity straight in the gut, causing her to fly backwards to the ground. The kick was so hard that the girl could not even stand up afterwards. "Haha, foolish girl," the bearded bender laughed. "You and the rest of you stupid non-benders outta stay out of the way of us benders." He then gave a dark smile. "Still, you're quite the girl, I'm sure a cute, non-bender like you will be good for something..." The man then felt a finger touching him on the shoulder. He turned around to see Jiàn behind him. Before he could react, Jiàn swung his sword and sheath very hard straight at the man's face, causing him to plummet to the ground. The sheath and sword had so much power behind them that the man ended up unconscious.
"Benders," Jiàn laughed. "Thinking you're so tough for teaming up against a single girl and nearly losing." He then looked at the girl, who still was struggling to stand up. He held out his hand to her. "You alright? That guy looked like he kicked you pretty hard." She took his hand and stood up, still grasping her stomach in pain. She didn't speak, only nodding to acknowledge that she heard him. Jiàn continued. "So, you're the Scarlet Deity huh?" Her eyes widened slightly when he said this. She nodded, pulling her face mask down from her mouth so she could speak more clearly.
"Yes, I am," the girl replied, simply and seriously. Before Jiàn could ask his next question, the Scarlet Deity asked a question of her own. "Knowing that, why would you save me? I was the one who was stealing, not them." Jiàn smiled at her and began scratching his chin sarcastically.
"Hmm, let's see, who should I have helped? You, who probably has to steal just to stay live if I'm not mistaken, or a bunch of thugs who may make an 'honest' living but feel the need to try and beat up a young lady just because she needed to make a few extra gold pieces. I think I'd much rather help the poor yong girl than the rich, stuffy old benders any day." The young girl simply shrugged. "Besides, selfish people like that sometimes are the reason why people like yourself have trouble making an honest living, am I right?" The girl got slightly choked up for a second then spoke calmly.
"An earth bender killed my parents. I was my parent's only child, but my dad had trouble making payments to our landlord because he was having difficulties with his job. Sure enough, that landlord sends one of his goons to hurt my father after he threatened him only once to make his payments. He nearly hurt me too, but both my parents stood up to him." A tear fell from her face. "And then the earth bender made sure they paid their price." The girl wiped the tear from her eye. Jiàn then put a hand on her shoulder.
"Benders have torn my family apart too. I don't hate all benders, but this gang issue really has gotten on my nerves." He then looked the girl straight in the eye. "That's why I want you to work for me and help me solve this problem." The Scarlet Deity raised one of her eyebrows.
"Who are you exactly?" she asked. Jiàn made an odd expression followed by a laugh; it didn't even occur to him to tell the girl who he was before asking her to help him.
"Oh, my mistake! I should have started with that shouldn't I have? I am Huàn Jiàn, mayor of Republic City." The Scarlet Deity looked at him with further disbelief. "Yeah I know, I don't look important but I'm not lying." The girl just shrugged, going along with what he said. "Listen, I'll be holding a meeting at my home in a couple days to discuss what exactly we will be doing about the gang problem. Here's the address." He handed the Scarlet Deity a small slip of paper. "Be there at dusk if you are interested Miss, um." Jiàn scratched his chin. "I can't exactly call you the Scarlet Deity in public now can I?" The girl laughed.
"Talia, my name is Talia." And so the two parted ways for the time being. One down, one to go, Jiàn thought to himself. As he emerged from the alley and went on his way as the mustache man eyed him on his departure. This guy could be quite the ally, the man thought to himself.
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