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|Chapter 7 - Cloak and Dagger|
Earth, Fire, Air, Water.
Only the Avatar can master all four elements. Unfortunately, the Avatar is never around enough and the world needs her. There is a depression ravaging civilization, leaving thousands to go hungry and go mad. The Avatar is too busy resolving international disputes and spirit conflicts to help the common man. In times like these, real heroes will rise from the ordinary folk and try to restore peace and prosperity to the world.
A sleek convertible Satomobile drove up a long windy road on the countryside near Republic City. The roof of the car was up and all windows were tinted. Amon himself drove in that car but had his mask in the glove box. However he covered his face with a sunglasses, a black sash over the mouth and a fedora on his head. Instead of his typical Equalist gear he wore a low profile business suit and loafers. The man in the passenger seat was older yet he had a bald head and wore a business suit and sunglasses.
"I assume your operations are successful?" The man in the passenger seat asked.
"Of course," Amon sighed while driving the car. "Why not stick to the shadows longer? I don't think we have enough recruits yet to carry out our plans."
"Of course you don't. You were never supposed to," the passenger stated.
Amon sighed then angled his eyebrows. "But you promised..."
"Oh don't worry; you'll still get a slice of the pie in the end," the passenger responded.
The car drove down the windy rode and under an arch sign that read, "Nine-Dragon Ranch". The property, however, was anything but a ranch. Instead of a vast and open prairie and grazing livestock, immense pine and cedar trees surrounded the area. Other than a few gardens, there wasn't very much agriculture in the area to begin with. Amon and his passenger drove up to a security gate and rolled down the window to show the guards his ID.
"Go ahead sirs, they're waiting for you." The guards saluted with their paramilitary uniforms.
The Satomobile drove up the long driveway and up to the enormous mansion. The estate towered over the trees put the roof covered up most of the activity below. All across the exterior, ornate engravings and illustrious banners dotted around the windows. Amon drove the car next to the giant front door and let the passenger step out.
"Now remember the plan. Election Day is coming in five days and you must be ready for when the Avatar returns to Republic City." The old man stood up and walked into the giant mansion. "I will not have that woman getting in the way again."
"I can't believe it!" Grei shouted.
It was three o'clock in the afternoon and the gang was lounging around on the roof of the abandoned hotel. Anil had been practicing his air forms, Li had been reading her books, while Baijin, Zed, and Warsh sat around playing Pai Sho. Grei however was still ticked at being unable to collect the bounty.
"Why the hell would someone kill a man and not collect any bounty?" Grei began to rant. "At least have the courtesy to cash in. And I've never heard of a law enforcement agency that doesn't except headshots."
"Welcome to Republic City," Baijin commented.
"Not funny." Grei said while fingering through the newspaper. "Looks like they canceled the bounty hunting program as well."
Anil stopped bending then walked over to Grei and sat down next to him. "Why do you think that is O' wise one?"
"I dunno man. Maybe it just paints Republic City in a bad image," Grei stated.
"Yeah we don't have the death penalty here last I checked," Li interjected.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a man in rather shady business attire stood at the corner of the street. To his left he could see the hundreds of poor folk in a breadline for the soup kitchen. To his right he saw a once wealthy business owner reduced to selling fruit on the side of the road. He held the newspaper in his hands and read the headline.
"Future Industries nearly bankrupt..." The man chuckled. "What a bunch of suckers if you ask me."
A few minutes later, a young and beautiful Water Tribe woman approached the man. She had a long fur scarf and rather revealing clothing.
"Well hello there gorgeous." The man lowered his glasses to look at the lady.
Then the woman gestured the man to follow her. So the man stood up straight and walked down the sidewalk and followed her into an alley. Then he found himself alone in the alley and without as much as a trace of the temptress. He looked around for a while then saw a dark figure emerge from the shadows with two chi blocker henchmen.
"Good afternoon Mr. Tzoah," Amon said revealing himself wearing full Equalist gear and mask.
"Well if it isn't the old cock blocker himself. I had a feeling that was a trick, but a man can dream," the man said.
"I take it your work is going well then?" Amon asked.
"Well, I've managed to cheat at least five thousand people out of their savings money this year. Not bad if I do say so myself," Tzoah said.
"I don't care about your free time operations. I want to know how it's going on the financial front. Who's still in business on that list we have provided," Amon said.
"Well sir, you can't expect me to bankrupt everybody. Am I right?" Tzoah gulped and sweat under his clothing.
"It is time for you accelerate your operations. I want to see more foreclosures, more downsizing, and especially more bankruptcies. Or else there won't be any fire bending in your future." Amon threatened and the chi blockers drew their weapons.
"Yes Sir!" Tzoah saluted Amon then ran back into the city life.
Anil sat on the ledge with his glider in one hand and the late acolyte's journal in the other hand. Dako laid his small body upon Anil's left shoulder. With the right hand, Anil thumbed through the journal that he had found. He couldn't make much out of it. Most of the pages were smeared with unreadable scribbles and occasional sketches of individuals. Eventually, Baijin walked up to the roof.
"What's up buddy?" Baijin said.
"Say, have you ever stumbled upon a mystery that didn't make since?" Anil asked.
"The only things I've ever stumbled upon were ..." Baijin began "Never mind that's not important."
"No Bai, this is serious. Do you even know what happened to the Acolyte?" Anil asked.
"He died," Baijin responded.
"He didn't just die, he was murdered," Anil stated.
"Wait, I thought you were hunting him," Baijin said.
"I was, but the Republic City Police Department's bounties are for alive only. Who the hell would kill him?" Anil paused in thought for a moment. He weighed in all of the factors. "Unless..." Anil leaped up on to his feet and opened his staff into the glider. "I have to go. Do me a favor and ask some questions to the people of this town, Grei will help you out. I'm going to Air Temple Island."
"Wait I thought you weren't allowed there." Baijin said. "After you..."
"I think Tenzin will overlook this, especially when lives are at stake." Anil ran off the roof, stretched out his glider, and propelled himself high into the sky. He soared over the building tops and towards the bay.
"Now what do I do?" Baijin said to himself.
Meanwhile on Air Temple Island, the Airbender family was eating dinner as usual. The Airbender kids had aged since Harmonic Convergence. Master Airbender Jinora wore here tattoo like a badge of honor on her forehead and had attained the age of twenty-two. She sat on her father's left side at the table. Nineteen year-old Ikki had recently received her master airbender status but had her hair more grown out than her elder sister and she sat by her brother Meelo. Meelo, as mentioned before, was now seventeen and is near Master Airbender status. Rohan managed to sit at the table but was pale and disoriented. He still had his hair grown out since he hadn't shaved in a while due to his illness. Tenzin and Pema had gray hair now and were weary after years of stress.
The entire Airbender family had resided on the island to support the twelve year old Rohan morally and physically. Jinora had set up her new home at the Eastern Air Temple with Acolytes and plausible airbenders there. Ikki however had yet to move to the Western Air Temple. The family was enjoying their meal until they heard a loud thud.
"What was that?" Tenzin asked.
"Don't worry father I'll handle this," Meelo said as he stood up from the table and ran outside. Meelo swiftly ran out of the dining room and into the courtyard. He then looked up at the trees and say the novice Anil climbing down.
"Ouch that didn't feel good," Anil said then looked backwards to see Meelo standing their baffled. "Oh good I need you to take this to Tenzin or any Acolyte who can read this."
"What are you doing here? You know my dad put a restraining order on you after you blew my sister," Meelo said.
"And I don't regret a single minute of it," Anil said. He plopped down on the ground. "How is fair Ikki doing any way?" Anil asked.
"She's engaged to good nonbender guy," Meelo said.
"Well good for her," Anil said. "Enough small talk, I need you to get this to your Dad. Perhaps he can't make any sense of it." Anil handed Meelo the journal.
"Okay I will. Now get your ass out of here," Meelo demanded.
Anil nodded then leaped into the air with his glider. He soared high into the air and out across the bay in time to miss the White Lotus sentries.
Late at night in one of Republic City's many skyscrapers, a lonely yellow-eyed businessman sat in his office. He had been pushing papers and making phone calls all day. In his office, a giant poster of Senator E Tim Gun stretched across the wall. This businessman was a generous campaign contributor to the Senator who was currently in the running for the office of President of the United Republic of Nations. It was late and he wanted to go home for the night. However a knock on the door changed that.
"Come in," he said.
The door creaked open and three men in semi-formal attire walked into the room. Each of them held Equalist shock gloves on their hands. Following those men, Amon stepped into the room with a chi blocker by his side holding the spirit kennel.
"What do you want from me? Money? Inside scoops?" The businessman began sweating and shaking at his desk.
"Incorrect," Amon said as he gestured for the open kennel.
Out of the kennel the dark spirit screeched and soared. The spirit nodded at Amon then leaped into the businessman. Almost suddenly, the man started seizing and twitching. Then he began screaming.
"STOP!! Please make it stop!" The man demanded.
"As you wish," Amon said. He commanded the spirit to leave the man and fly into the kennel. Once the man was released, a minion felt the business man's pulse.
"He's dead sir," the minion said.
"Very well, let's move on," Amon commanded as he walked out of the office.
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