Crime Scene Investigating
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The Darkest Flame



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The Scollard

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A Dangerous Game

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(137 AG) A Blast from the Past

He watched as the Avatar and her group left the restaurant from his table. He had heard their conversations with both his previous opponent and the waiter, and figured out what they were trying to do. It wasn't easy, and he had to concentrate to listen to their conversations, especially the one with the waiter. He smirked. Things were going exactly according to plan. He reminded himself that he still needed to the careful. His game with Tenzin was an unknown quantity, one that changed the situation only a tiny bit. Even a small change though, could spiral out of control, and he definitely needed to keep the situation under his control. His plan was perfect, it had served him well until now, and it would serve him well again. The Avatar was suspicious of him, he knew that, and quickly thought up a way to use it to his advantage. Yes, things were proceeding nicely, very, very nicely. He stood up from his table and walked to the front.

"I think I've played enough Pai-Sho games for today," he said to the waiter at the counter, "I'll see you later."

"Yes, Mr. Smith" the waiter replied.

Now, if he was quick enough, he had just enough time to pull this off.

Korra walked through the market. There were tons of vendors on both sides of her, crowding the street that would normally be used by Satomobiles. She did prefer the market to a busy street with all sorts of vehicles running along it. Tenzin had left her to go check something out, there was something at the market which Pema wanted him to get. As Korra moved through the crowd of people, she browsed the food vendors. There were vendors selling fresh fruit, vendors selling cooked meats, and others who sold fancy ingredients imported from the farthest reaches of the four nations. A fruit vendor caught her eye and she moved towards him. His stand was filled with fruits all colours of the rainbow, with bright yellows and greens contrasting with blue and purples. She started asking him what fruits would satisfy her need for a filling snack. It took her a bit of time, fifteen minutes, and a bit of the merchant's patience, but she had narrowed down her choices to a couple different fruits.

"So what's this green one again?" she said.

"That is a lime" the merchant said, exasperated, "It is a sour fruit, not one that would make a good snack."

"So what ones would you recommend?," she asked... for the fifth time.

The merchant was about to start yelling, but stopped himself. Then, Korra heard a voice.

"If you are looking for a snack, Avatar, I would personally recommend a tiàn lemon, one of the yellow fruits" a male voice said.

She turned to her side, and saw a familiar man dressed in black, Mr. Smith.

"It is quite tasty, though I have to admit it is an acquired taste," he continued.

"What are you doing here?," she asked.

"I am browsing the market, as many people are doing today, and I find it serendipitous that we meet each other again, Avatar," he said.

"I find that hard to believe," she said.

"Find what hard to believe, that I decided to browse the market after our conversation, and that I just so happened to run into you," he said.

There was something off about him and the way he talked, as if he knew something she didn't, and that whatever suspicions she had of him, she couldn't prove anything. Something about just wasn't... normal. Korra decided to make her purchase and find Tenzin, getting away from there. She turned to the merchant.

"I'll take one of those lemons, the one he recommended," she pointing towards Smith.

As the merchant retrieved the fruit, she fished around for some money. Sadly for her, she didn't have any. She should have asked Tenzin for some earlier.

"Never mind about that," she said, "I'm all out of money."

The merchant let out an exasperated sigh, and was about to put the fruit back when Smith spoke up.

"I will pay for the Avatar's purchase," he said, "After all, we do owe her a great debt."

"No, you really don't need to," she said, freaked out by Smith's demeanor, "I'm okay if I don't buy anything, you really don't need to do this."

"I insist, Avatar," he said, "After all, in the grand scheme of things, it really is nothing and won't affect me at all."

"You would know about schemes," she muttered under her breath, as Smith tossed the money to the merchant. Thankfully, he didn't seem to hear her comment.

"Here, Avatar," he said, handing the fruit to her, "Just a small gift from one person to another."

She reluctantly took the fruit from Smith. After that, he walked away from her, maybe to accost some other stranger. She looked down at the fruit, not knowing whether to eat it or throw it away, the latter option coming up due to her conversation with Smith. She eventually decided not to waste the fruit, and started peeling it. She started walking around, looking for Tenzin or Lin. When she had completely peeled it, she took a big bite into the fruit. From what she had heard about lemons, she had expected it to be very sour, but it wasn't. It was more of a surprising and strange combination of sweet and sour that she couldn't find the words to describe it. However, she did like the taste.

"Korra, there you are," Tenzin said, from the crowd.

He walked through the crowd towards her, eventually getting close enough for both of them to see each other. Tenzin was holding a statue of sorts, something he bought for Pema.

"So what do you have there?" Korra asked.

"Art, I suppose. I really don't see what Pema sees in these things," he said, when they were side by side, "Anyway, I see you got your snack."

"Yeah, though something interesting happened to me while I got it," Korra said, "While I was browsing the merchant's stuff, Smith showed up and recommended me something, and paid for it when I realized I didn't have any money."

"Strange," Tenzin said, "What did he recommend you?"

"A lemon," Korra said.

Tenzin shuddered a bit when she said that, for some reason... possibly relating to childhood pranks and older siblings.

"It's actually pretty good, Tenzin," she said, "I think you'll like it."

"No thanks," he said, "I have had enough lemons to last a lifetime."

"I actually think you'll like it a lot, Tenzin," she said, "Here, you can try some of mine."

"As I have said before, Korra, I don't want any more of that fruit," he said.

"Oh come on, Tenzin," she teased, "Are you really scared of a small fruit?"

"No, I simply don't want any," he said.

"Really, one tiny bite won't hurt you," she said, "Come on, try it."

Suddenly he turned around.

"I DON'T WANT ANY LEMONS," he yelled, his face turning red.

He turned and started walking away, with Korra being too shocked to follow him. She blinked twice fast, with each blink seemingly letting a small ding. She quickly regained her composure and followed him. They found Lin soon after that, talking with a man in front of a vendor's stand. The man looked to be very sleepy, with dark circles underneath his eyes.

"Ah, good," Lin said, "I don't need to find you too after all."

"We came as quickly as we could, Lin,," Tenzin said.

"And what is that you're holding?," she asked.

"Art, apparently," Korra replied.

"Oh. Well, I was talking to this merchant here,," she said pointing to a significantly less tired man behind the stand, "and while he was here last night, he woke up the guy who was up late setting up the merchant's stand."

"Anything for the Chief of Police" the merchant said.

"So, I was just about to talk to him when you two showed up," she said.

"Umm" the sleepy man said, "Can we just get this over with. I need to get back to sleep. I'll have to pack up a lot of the stands when the market closes, and I should be all rested up for that."

"Okay," Lin said, "Last night, did you see anybody or anything suspicious, down any of the alleyways?"

"Yeah, I saw a couple teenagers go down that alleyway right across from you," he said, pointing across the market, "They seemed to be followed by someone, I couldn't tell you any exact details, but they seemed to be wearing all black."

"And doesn't that sound like someone we know," Lin said to Korra and Tenzin.

"Smith," Korra said, "He is looking more and more suspicious."

"Umm" the sleepy man said, "Can I go now?"

"Did you see anything else?" Lin asked.

"No," he said.

"Then yes, you can go," she said.

Lin turned to Korra and Tenzin.

"I think it's time to check out this alleyway," she said.

As they pushed through the crowd towards the alleyway, the subject of Smith came up between them.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he was the killer," Korra said, "He certainly seems cold and creepy enough to do it."

"Yes, I agree," Tenzin said, "Korra, why don't you tell Lin about your conversation with him?"

"Where was this?" Lin said, "What did he say?"

"Well, when I was getting my snack and was trying to figure out what fruit to get, he came up and recommended me something," Korra said, "I asked him why he was there... Oh, and when I didn't have any money, he paid the vendor for me. He said that it was nothing and that we owe the Avatar a great debt."

"Not surprising," Lin said, "Even though I would have hated to admit it several months ago, you have saved and brought balance to this city, and it and all the people within it owe you a great thanks."

"I know, all a day's work for the Avatar," Korra said, "But, there was something strange about the way he said it, like he knew something I didn't and was gloating in that fact. What if we are playing right into Smith's hand, and he knows that we will probably do something, or have done something, to help him."

"If that is so, Korra," Tenzin said, "Then we will just have to try and avoid his traps. Just remember, he is probably expecting you to rush right into things, like you did when facing Amon. We have to be careful and look at every possible move like-"

"Like a game of Pai-Sho," Korra said, "I know, Tenzin."

"If we are careful, Korra,," he said, "we should be able to stop him."

They had reached the alleyway, the one that the sleepy man had seen the victim head down. Korra looked to her left and saw a small opening leading to probably another, smaller alleyway. All three of them started looking for any clues, but it was difficult due to having to sort out which things in the alleyway were clues, and what was just garbage. However, it didn't take long for Lin to find something.

"Korra, Tenzin. Come here," she said, motioning them towards her.

It didn't take long for Korra to see why Lin had called them over. In the middle of the alleyway was a burn mark, a circle of black soot literally burnt into the concrete.

"Whatever caused this must have been burning incredibly hot, as well as large," she said, "From what we heard from the waterbender, coupled with this, I'd not only say what she described to us actually happened, but that we are looking on the spot where her friend died."

"So she didn't misinterpret anything that happened here?" Korra asked.

"No, she didn't," Lin said.

Korra looked to her left after investigating the burn, and saw an opening to small, side alleyway.

"You know what?" she said, "I'm going to check this area out. If my idea is correct, this will lead to an opening right by the entrance to the alleyway."

"Okay," Lin said, still analyzing the burn.

Korra walked through the small opening, which lead her to a cramped side alleyway. It couldn't allow more than two people through at a time, and even that would require a lot of coordination. She pushed some garbage out of her way as she headed in the direction of the street. She eventually reached an opening, the same one she saw earlier. This was probably how the killer managed to get in front of the group after following them. She looked into the crowded street, leaning up against the wall of the alleyway to just relax for a couple seconds. She saw blurs of people far away on the other side of the road rushing through the market. She saw people of various nationalities mingling and browsing the wares of the merchant. Suddenly, she noticed something black in the crowd. She focused to get a better look. It was a man, Smith, and he was staring straight at her. He was grinning, the same sinister grin that he had on when he beat Tenzin in Pai-Sho. They looked in to each other's eyes, and he shook his head, the grin still plastered on his face. He seemed to chuckle a bit, then turned away. When he was gone, Korra thought about what had happened. This was the second time she had seen him in the market. He seemed to be following them. In her mind, that made him even the more suspicious. When she got back into the larger alleyway, Lin and Tenzin were in the middle of a conversation.

"Horrible thing to happen to anyone," Lin said.

"Yes," Tenzin agreed, looking up to notice Korra.

"Korra, did you find anything?" he said.

"Yeah," she said, "This alleyway leads out into the road. This was probably how our killer managed to cut off the group as they walking through."

"Well, the picture of what happened is becoming clearer," Tenzin said, "We have to make sure nobody else is killed like this. Horrible thing, to take someone's life just as it was truly starting. But that is one of the consequences of being young; you are reckless and put yourself into unnecessary danger."

"Consequences...," Lin muttered.

She stood up, and started rubbing her chin. Then suddenly, it was as though she had a lightbulb flash over her head. She let go of her chin and pointed her finger out in front of her.

"Consequences, that's it!," she exclaimed.

"What is it, Lin?" Tenzin said.

"I knew some of the details of this case seemed familiar," she said, "Tell me Tenzin, who did we meet as teenagers who went on and on about consequences?"

"Mr. Lee," he said, "Your right, the suspicion of seeing something like this before was gnawing away at me since this morning."

"Umm," Korra said, "Who's Mr. Lee?"

"A waterbender we met as teenagers, when me and Tenzin were still a couple," Lin said, "We came into contact with him while working with my mother and Avatar Aang."

"Lin, that was over thirty years ago," Tenzin said, "I don't think Lee even can be involved in this"

"Can one of you tell me who exactly this Mr. Lee is? I think I have the right to know," Korra said.

"Fine," Lin said, "I'll tell her the story, Tenzin."

She turned to Korra, and looked her in the eyes.

"As Tenzin already said, this took place over thirty years ago. If my memory is correct, 34 years to be exact. I was training with my mother in the duties of being an officer of the law, while Tenzin was learning firsthand the duties of being a leader in the city, such as dealing with the seedier side of Republic City's already seedy underworld."

"I wouldn't say that anything that happened that day had anything to do with being a councilman," Tenzin said.

"I think your father would agree with me in saying it helped you in some ways," Lin said.

"Anyway," she said, turning back to Korra, "It all started with what seemed at the time to be a fairly normal arrest, but spiraled into something, much, much bigger."

Author's Note

FLASHBACK TIME! The next two or three chapters take in the year 137 AG (After the airbender Genocide), with older Aang and Toph, and teenaged Tenzin and Lin. I'll get to their exact ages in next chapter's author's notes. The chapters also take place some years after the incident with Yakone, the previous LoK flashback. Sorry this one took so long, as even though this chapter was easy to write, the next chapter wasn't, and I attempt to have the next chapter ready before I release the previous one to allow me to look it over objectively and to correct any inconsistencies. I was also writing a new chapter for one of my other fanfics. We'll also find out more about this mysterious Mr. Lee next chapter. So, if you're liking the story, please review. Also review if you have any questions.

Cave Johnston out.

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