|By The Scollard||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from The Scollard||Adventure/Mystery||PG-13||None||No update page|
|(137 AG) A Blast from the Past|
The four benders stood in front of a large building, a casino owned by one of the most powerful men in Republic City, already knowing exactly who and what was inside. The arrest would be simple, the evidence against the Water Tribe man was overwhelming, and a conviction should be very easy to get.
"So Twinkletoes," Toph Beifong said, "Ready to your hands dirty?"
The blind police chief was almost fifty, as evidenced by her once black hair now being all gray. A metalbending police officer came up to them.
"We scouted the outside of the building and are covering all exits, Chief Beifong," he said, "There's nowhere for him to run."
"Okay, Officer," Toph said, "Head back to your post, the four of us will make the arrest."
As the officer walked away, one of the younger benders spoke up.
"Father, I do not see why I need to be present at this arrest," Tenzin said.
"Tenzin, this is experience," Aang said, "If you want to be a councilor, you may have to participate in arrests like these every so often. The job of a councilor isn't all paperwork and politics, it requires action as well."
"Besides," he said, looking his son in the eyes, "I enjoy spending time with you."
"Don't worry, Tenzin," Lin said, "It'll be fun, smashing heads together and fighting. We aren't going to let this guy run Republic City any longer."
"Wait," Korra said, in the present, "You were like that when you were a teenager." "You could say Lin took after her mother when she a teenager, although, unlike her mother, she eventually grew out of her hotheaded nature," Tenzin said.
"Lin," Toph said, "I wouldn't call what our target is doing running Republic City. He is simply the leader of one of the bending gangs, and while he isn't running the city, he fighting a destructive gang war in order to try."
"This is going to be fun," Lin said, cracking her knuckles.
"Toph, it's about time we went inside," Aang said, "Before he suspects anything is up."
They started walking into the building before Aang suddenly stopped.
"Toph, what about our informant?" he said, "How will we know who they are?"
"They said they would meet us inside the casino, so I suggest we just arrest this guy, then wait them to make themselves known to us," Toph said.
They all walked into the large building, seeing a den of inequity before them as they passed through the doors. There were tables for Pai-Sho, tables for dice, and tables for just about any game one could think of money being wagered on. The waitresses were all young women, giving the men of the establishment their drinks, as well as other, more... lucrative things. They walked through to the back of the casino, aware that the eyes of several guards were following them. As they reached the back office where they target was, Aang saw something out of the corner of his eye. He looked to see what it was, and saw a man, dressed in a black suit and a fedora, watching the group from one of the Pai-Sho tables at the back, near their destination. As they looked into each other's eyes, the man smirked at them. Aang looked back to where they were going, the door to the casino's office was at the end of a short hallway that opened into the casino's large room. Aang noticed holes in the walls near the opening, and wondered what their purpose was, after all, they could be a danger.
"Wait a minute," Korra said, "How did you know exactly what Aang was thinking at the time?"
"Well," Tenzin said, "Later on, my father discussed with all of us about what had happened, and all those things came out, what each of us noticed and such. If something doesn't make sense or there is something that we tell you about which neither me nor Lin could have seen, assume we got the information from someone trustworthy."
As they approached the door to the casino's office, a large man in a gray suit and red tie holding a briefcase pushed past them, rudely knocking them out of his way. As he reached the opening, bars of ice shot out from the walls, blocking his entrance to the office. Aang turned to see who had done it, and saw the man in the suit with his hand in a waterbending stance. The man got up from his Pai-Sho table and walked over to them.
"Chang," he said, "What in the world are you doing here?"
The man, Chang, who seemed to be some sort of businessman, fixed his tie.
"I'm here to see your boss," he said, "I would like to try and make a deal with him."
The man in black chuckled.
"Seriously, Chang," he said, "The boss doesn't do business with people like you, especially since we are currently at war with the triad you happened to do accounting for."
"C'mon, Lee," he said, "I just need to talk with him."
The man, Lee, grabbed his forehead and started shaking his head.
"I mean really Chang, what are you doing here?" he said, suddenly grabbing Chang by the collar with one hand and pulling him in close so he could look him in the eye, "You know full well that this is a dangerous place for your kind. There are consequences to this sort of thing, and for you they will probably involve your body being found floating in the bay with maggot-rats eating at it. So please, go before anything bad happens."
The man let go of Chang's collar. While he was holding him, Aang could have sworn he saw something on the man's wrist. It looked like a small flask of some sort. The man placed his hands in his suit's pockets as Chang glared at him. After a couple seconds though, he turned away, smacking his palm into his forehead as he exited the casino. The man looked at the group.
"Don't worry about him," he said, "He is a businessman who works for the Agni Kai's who's been trying to buy this place from the boss for a while. It's none of your business, Officer."
"I think when a conversation heads to death threats, I think it becomes my business," Toph said.
"Relax, I wasn't serious," he said, "Showing force is the only way you can get rid of parasites like Mr. Zhao Chang. I'm planning on dealing with him later."
"By the way," Aang said, "You never told us your name. Who are you?"
"My name is Mr. Lee," he said.
"First name?" Toph asked.
"Didn't you hear," he said, "It was Mister."
The man's voice was dripping with sarcasm. He was almost like Toph when she was younger in that regard, except the two's verbal sparring would have probably quickly escalated to sparring in the physical sense.
"Oh, dear me," the man said in a monotone voice, "I didn't know who I was talking to. Avatar Aang, and Chief Beifong, it's an honor to see you here in our small business."
The man's sarcasm made it exceedingly clear that he had known who they were from the beginning, and that he wasn't too surprised that they were here.
"So, will you let us see your employer?" Aang said.
"Of course," the man said, "After all, you're the Avatar, and I get the feeling that if I don't let you in, someone will come in a break the door down, and sadly, I'm afraid we don't have money for door repairs in the budget."
He raised his hands and waterbended the ice back into the holes they came from, allowing the group to proceed. As he walked back to his table, Aang noticed he had a flask attached to his belt. As he reached his table, he turned back and locked eyes with Aang. He had blue eyes, which reminded him of something that Katara told him. Apparently, according to a legend, a lot of waterbenders have blue eyes because they were touched by the Ocean Spirit herself, their eyes matching the element they bended. Of course, Aang couldn't really comment on whether the legend was true or not, though he was probably seen as an authority in the subject, due to meeting the Ocean Spirit. The group walked up to the door and opened it, revealing the lavish office behind. There were paintings by famous artists, stuffed animals bodies of various animals spread out throughout the office. Their target was sitting at his desk, located right across from the door. He looked up at them.
"Hello, Police Chief Beifong and Avatar Aang," he said, "I wasn't expecting a visit."
He was a wearing a blue suit underneath a fur-trimmed jacket made up of blue fabric, with even the whites of his attire being dyed shades of light blue. He was a short man, in his 30's and wearing glasses.
"Yarolaq," Toph said, "You are under arrest."
He sighed, then smiled at bit.
"And may I ask what I am being charged with?" he asked.
Toph took out a piece of paper and handed it to Lin, who started reading the charges aloud.
"Yarolaq, who are being arrested for murder, racketeering, extortion, money laundering..." Lin said.
"Ah, Police Chief," he said, interrupting her, "I see you can't read my supposed crimes aloud. Problem with the eyesight?"
"Frankly, what you're doing is getting you nowhere but the inside of a cell," Toph said, "I would have memorized what we were arresting you for, but the list was so long I stopped caring halfway through."
"Ah," he said, "Well, maybe you can get your little brat to continue then."
As Lin continued reading the charges, Aang studied Yarolaq's face. As each individual crime was read, Yarolaq grinned and shook his head, believing it to be almost impossible for him to be convicted of them.
"Chief Beifong, may I ask you to stop wasting my time? You know it will be practically impossible to put me in jail for any of these," he said.
Toph let out a smile at this, that classic Beifong smile.
"Lin, continue reading the list," she said.
"Okay," she said, "Let's see... kidnapping, property damage, and most of all, tax evasion."
At the mention of the last one, a look of shock appeared in Yarolaq's eyes. His face dropped and he started stammering.
"How... How... What... How did... How did you get that information?" he said.
"Surprised, Yarolaq," Toph said, "You don't seem to be as confident as you were before."
"How did you get that information?" he said, anger building up in his voice.
"Well, you see, Yarolaq," Toph continued, "You were right, it is hard to convict you of things like murder, and so the police of Republic City often ignore things like that, minus special cases of course. However, when you stop paying your taxes, that's where we get interested. It's probably our only way to catch people like you. There's no way out, you don't report your earnings, we lock you up for Tax Evasion, and if you do report, it makes it easier for us to lock you up for the aforementioned Money Laundering and Racketeering."
"ANSWER ME!" Yarolaq screamed.
"Isn't it obvious," Toph said, "Someone in your own triad sold you out, decided they had enough of your little war, and gave us the documents we need."
He sat at his desk for a moment, pondering the revelation, the anger clearly growing inside him.
"LEE," he screamed.
Mr. Lee quickly rushed into the office, and headed to the side of Yarolaq's desk to await his orders.
"It seems we have a traitor in our ranks. I want you to find them and deal with them," he said, "But first, I want you to deal with the Avatar and his friends."
"It isn't worth it, Yarolaq," Toph said, "We have this place surrounded. You won't get out."
"Ha," he said, "You think you know my damn casino better than the back of your hand, huh. Well, you should know that I made sure there is always a way out. Lee, deal with them."
"Right away," Lee said, raising his hands into a waterbending stance.
As the group got into their stances for the fight, Lee took some water out of his flask. He flung the water at Yarolaq, using ice to pin the gangster's hands to his desk.
"What?" Yarolaq said.
Lee proceeded to raise his foot and kick Yarolaq out of his chair, waterbending some of the ice away to allow him to fall to the floor. Yarolaq landed face first on the ground, breaking his nose in the process. He then used his waterbending to create icy handcuffs of sorts for Yarolaq.
"Here you go, Officers," Lee said, "He's all yours."
He motioned to the helpless gangster on the ground.
"Now, I believe we should discuss our agreement, Chief," he said.
"Lee? You? You're the one who squealed to them" Yarolaq said, blood coming out of his nose.
"Yes," he said, "Frankly, I've had enough of your mismanagement of this triad."
"You traitorous scum" Yarolaq said, "My men will kill you for this."
Lee kneeled down to look his former boss in the face.
"Do you know what the difference between you and me is, Yarolaq?" he said, "The men respect me, not you. They won't try anything."
He stood back up, and looked at the group, who were all frankly shocked.
"Now, I believe we agreed..." he started.
"If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me, Lee" Yarolaq suddenly screamed, "Avatar, do you know what this man has done. He's killed people, lots of people. Why don't you arrest him for that?"
Lee looked back at the gangster and shook his head.
"I believe we agreed for amnesty for all my previous crime committed under Yarolaq's command," he continued, emphasizing the last part.
"Oh, you think you can get out that easy" Yarolaq said, "Why don't I tell these people what you can do? Maybe these people should know that you can, what is it called, energybend. Hey, Avatar, ya hear that. Lee can take people's bending away, and even worse, he can give bending. Have you ever seen anybody get more bending, Avatar, it ain't pretty."
Lee shook his head. Aang and the rest of the group were even more shocked then before.
"Don't listen to him," Lee said, "His words are simply the words of a caged criminal who would say anything to get his sentence reduced. And besides, have you ever seen anyone give someone bending? How would it work? The concept itself is absurd."
"I guess that in a way, what you're saying does make sense," Aang said, "Toph, get your police in here and put Yarolaq into custody. We can talk with Lee outside after."
"Right away, Twinkletoes," she said.
Toph left the room, which was soon filled with police. After they put metal handcuffs onto Yarolaq, Lee melted his ice ones and put the water back into his flask. Yarolaq was led out of his casino and put into the back of a police wagon to be processed at the station.
As the car headed out of sight, Lee met with Aang and Toph.
"So, I'm guessing the terms of our agreement are fulfilled, and that I won't be arrested for my crimes under Yarolaq," he said.
"Yes, we will fulfill our end of the bargain," Toph said, "What do you plan to do know?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Lee said, "There is a power vacuum now that Yarolaq is out of the picture. A power vacuum I plan on using to my advantage. I always wanted to be leader of this triad, and with your help, my dream will come true."
"You mean to say you sold out your boss in order to take his place, not because he was a horrible criminal," Aang said.
"We all are horrible criminals, Avatar," Lee said, "Though, I think I will try to end this little war we're having with the Agni Kais. Decisively, in fact."
"Frankly, you disgust me," Aang said, "We would have never done this if we knew what you were planning all along."
"And still be stuck with Yarolaq at the head of this organization?" Lee said, "I don't think so. You see Avatar, there are consequences to every action, every choice. Such as choosing whether or not to kill someone, there are consequences for every decision you make. The trick is to figure out which consequences you can live with, and which you should try to avoid."
"And which consequences did this decision have, the former or the latter?" Aang asked.
"That's for you to figure out, Avatar," he said, "Now, I have some unfinished business to do. Goodbye."
As Lee walked back towards the casino, Aang and Toph started heading back towards their children. As they were walking, Aang started smacking his forehead repeatedly. The two benders stopped.
"Aang, what's wrong?" Toph asked.
"Why does it feel that I'm not doing anything as the Avatar?" he said, "Every time I think I solve a problem, I'm actually just replacing it with another one that could be either better or worse. I mean, look at Yakone, when we arrested him, it simply allowed others like Yarolaq to take control of the criminal underworld. And now, we stopped him, and we have a candidate for Republic City's most dangerous criminal right there to take his place. WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?"
"Relax, Aang. Calm down," she said, "You don't need to yell. I'm pretty sure even everyone here, including Lee, just heard most of your speech. Remember, Aang, we didn't stop Yakone because he was the head of a criminal organization. We stopped him because he was using his bloodbending to hurt others and keep himself in that position. Sure, Yarolaq may have killed people, but he wasn't as bad as Yakone, and that's what matters. Things will never be perfect, we just have to try and make them better."
"Thanks, Toph," he said, smiling at her, "You and Katara always know how to make me feel better."
"That's my job, Twinkletoes," she said, "Now let's get back to the kids before your son does something with my daughter that he will regret."
He laughed at her comment. Before he followed Toph, he looked over his shoulder. Leaning against the wall of the casino, he saw Lee chuckling at him. He seemed to know something Aang didn't and was finding humour in that fact. He turned back and headed to where Tenzin, Lin and Toph were gathered. As he approached he saw his son passionately kiss Lin, as they were a couple. Seeing them reminded him of his own romance with Katara, how it started when they were young and blossomed into something beautiful. He hoped Tenzin has the same fortune.
"Father, are we ready to leave and head back home?" Tenzin said.
"No, I don't think so, son," he said, "Toph, I don't trust Lee, and I think his unfinished business won't be of the legal kind."
"So what are you suggesting?" Toph asked.
"We follow him," he said, "See what that man is up to."
In this chapter, Lin and Tenzin are 17 and 18 respectively. Aang and Toph are 49 years old (Aang is 149 chronologically). Mr. Lee is based on a mafia "wiseguy", a hired killer who deals with the enemies of his boss. The way Yarolaq is caught, by arresting him for tax evasion, is the most common way big criminals who ran the underworld were caught in real life, Al Capone being a great example. If you have any questions, put them in a review. If you have an opinion on the story, please review as well. Next chapter may take a while, as it is long and not exactly the best it could be right now, and I have to rewrite parts of it.
For the collective works of the author, go here.