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|The Mind Bender Strikes Again|
September 28, 2013
At City Hall the following morning, Tarrlok called the City Council together for an emergency meeting to discuss the happenings of last night. He called the meeting in secret so as to hide his desire to expose Jiàn's actions to the public, at least for the time being. Jiàn along with his allies stood in front of the Council to hear the punishments that potentially awaited them. The only one of Jiàn's allies missing from the trial was the Lieutenant, as nothing suspicious was held on his personal records, so he was released with a minor fine for property damage due to Jiàn taking the brunt of the blame. Bayne and Byron could also have walked off on a minor charge, but they came to the meeting to support Naomi. However, Tarrlok insisted all of Jiàn's other "conspirators" attend this meeting. Most of Jiàn's alliance had looks of worry and anxiety. Jiàn, however, stood stern yet confident. Tarrlok began to speak.
"Members of the Council," he began. "We all remember the discussion we held with the mayor only a short while ago. Jiàn promised to legally and adequately reduce crime in the city using his own resources and to do so in secret. However, not only was he seen by many raiding a gang outpost, but is also guilty of hiring infamous criminals and vigilantes to work with him." He glanced straight at Jiàn, who looked straight back at him sternly. "As a result, you are hereby suspended from the Council for two years and the Council will decide upon further charges for your crimes." Tenzin raised a hand in question. "What is it Tenzin?" Jiàn held back a smile as Tenzin began to speak.
"Jiàn cannot be suspended from the Council because he is technically not a member of the Council. According to Councilman Sokka's ruling, the mayor is only an aid to the Council, not a full-fledged member." Jiàn no longer held his smile back as he saw Tarrlok fumbling over words.
"I...uh...that's..." He sighed. "I suppose I never considered that. But that still does not solve the matter of Jiàn associating himself with criminals." Tenzin was about to speak but Jiàn held up a hand to stop him.
"I can defend myself here Tenzin," he answered still smiling. Jiàn's face returned to its stern expression. "Yes, it's true I did in fact hire some people with 'questionable' pasts. However, I could not utilize police officers or members of the United Forces, so I figured my best bet would be the citizens themselves. But I could never ask citizens with little combat experience to help me and, sadly, most people who had such experience were either too elderly to still fight or had slightly tainted histories." Tarrlok face grew red with anger.
"Slightly tainted histories?!" He shouted whilst pointing a finger at Jinshu. "That man is one of the most notorious killers in Republic City! Based on your actions you do not appear much better." Jinshu stepped forward to face the accusation, causing Tarrlok to take a step back.
"You're correct I am a killer," Jinshu agreed. "It's been a few years since I have actually killed anyone. Nonetheless, I have been and always will be a killer. However..." He then looked towards Jiàn. "This man truly cares for the city and everyone in it. Why else would he risk his life to chase down someone as dangerous as myself?" A few of the other council members whispered to themselves, but Tarrlok quickly quieted them. Jinshu continued. "He still found value in someone as evil as myself. I tried to kill him, but it ended with me at the end of his sword. He could have killed me; yet he gave me a chance for repentance, even if it meant the end of his own life." Everyone on the Council looked stunned; was this really the vicious, heartless assassin they heard so many rumors about? Jinshu took a step back in line with the other accused.
"Mr. Qudi makes a strong point," Tenzin replied. "And who is not to say that he did not have the same scenarios whilst recruiting Ping and Ms. Deity? By giving them no choice but to aid him, not only did he take three criminals out of action but also put quite a dent in the Triple Threat Triad, one of the largest and most influential gangs in the city." Tarrlok saw the other councilors whispering amongst themselves, causing him to become a little bit nervous. He decided to change the subject.
"I believe for now we'll hold off on our decision for Mayor Jiàn. His conspirators will be easier to assess. Would the man known as Ping step forward?" Ping stepped forward. "Now, Mr. Ping, you have already been accused numerous times for writing slanderous articles as well as one account of assaulting a group of police officers." Ping laughed, which left Tarrlok and the other councilors flabbergasted.
"Okay, first off, I'm just reporting the facts with some of my own analysis of those facts. And second, those officers attacked me first. I have witnesses. "
"If you're so sure of your innocence, why have you been in hiding since the charges were released a few days ago?" Tarrlok asked arrogantly. Ping stood his ground.
"I wanted to gather my witnesses first, simple as that. That and my parents told me I couldn't miss my brother's match in the Pro Bending Championship so I hung low for just a few days." Tarrlok shrugged.
"We'll hold your official trial at a later date to decide that. As for you," He looked at Talia "Ms. Scarlet Deity. You have several accounts of theft and assault and battery on your record." Talia lowered her head; she knew there was no arguing those charges. However, Jiàn stood beside her and spoke.
"If you look at the owners of the stores she has stolen from, many of them are owned by wealthy entrepreneurs with various rumors of corruption and illegal activity linked to them. In addition, any of the people this girl has assaulted have never received any fatal or even serious wounds. She was also simply trying to meet ends meet." Talia looked surprised. Tarrlok looked even more shocked.
"Are you saying this girl should walk off totally clean then?" Tarrlok asked.
"I'm simply stating I think putting her in prison is unjust. Perhaps community service would be a better course of action, as she clearly has room for reform." Tenzin stepped forward before Tarrlok could reply.
"We always need a few spare hands down at Air Temple Island. The White Lotus guards could watch over her to make sure she doesn't try to escape and to avoid having to waste officers to oversee her." Tarrlok sighed; there was little he could do about this one.
"We'll make a final decision at her official trial but I cannot dispute Tenzin's logic." The other council members nodded in agreement. "Now, Ms. Blade." Tarrlok looked towards Naomi, who stepped forward at hearing her name. "You have kept Mr. Qudi, an infamous criminal, secret from the public for many years. You're facing some serious trouble young lady." Bayne stepped forward in front of his sister.
"If she tried to report anything, Jinshu probably would have killed her," he said angrily. Byron nodded in agreement. Again Tarrlok found himself defeated. They can't talk their way out of the next one though, he thought to himself.
"Mr. Qudi is accused of several accounts of murder. With the number of people he has killed, the citizens of this city will demand he be executed." Naomi gasped in horror and jumped in front of Jinshu.
"He's not the man you think he is!" she shouted. "He took me in and took care of me when no one else would! He protected me! There is good in him!. He's..." Jinshu lightly grabbed her arm and moved it aside.
"It's okay. I'm willing to accept punishment for my past actions," he said humbly. "What I have done in the past cannot be undone. I can't change that."
"But...But!" Naomi's face began to fill with tears. Jinshu looked at Naomi sincerely as she squeezed his arm tightly. He embraced her tightly, trying to calm her down. Noticing that Tarrlok's expression would not change, Jiàn decided to speak.
"If someone like Yakone can live in prison despite torturing hundreds of citizens with blood bending, then Jinshu should at least have that option," he stated sternly. This got a large reaction out of the councilmen. "I'm sure there is some sort of non-metal solitary confinement facility to keep him in if trying to keep a metal bender locked up is a concern." Tarrlok, knowing he was right, once again admitted defeat.
"In the end it will be the Council's decision on whether or not he lives when we officially have his trial. But once again you make a persuasive argument." He muttered his last few words angrily. Noting the time, Tarrlok called in Lin and a few metal bending officers to take away Jinshu, Ping, and Talia. Jinshu was knocked unconscious for safety measures, which deeply upset Naomi. Jiàn turned around and began proceeding to the door when Tarrlok called out. "We haven't come to a decision about you yet Mayor Jiàn." Jiàn cursed silently to himself but smiled and turned around. "While we have agreed that you cannot be suspended and your choices and methods for recruitment were unorthodox, you have not sufficiently calmed the bending gang problem." Tenzin and the Blade brothers shouted out protests but Tarrlok continued. "We never specified how much a decrease in gang activity was sufficient. As such I declare that you have not done enough. And we agreed there would be a punishment for that didn't we?" Jiàn's eyes widened in shock. Tarrlok took this opportunity to strike "Clearly the mayor is not suited for such a task, as I always believed. Even if he stopped a criminal or 2, he still left a lot of damage in your wake that the Council has to clean up. In addition, had he not been at the Council meeting when we discussed the problem, we would never have been in this situation."
"Tarrlok this is ridiculous!" Tenzin shouted. "You're not suggesting we..."
"I vote that we forbid the mayor from entering any more Council meetings, as clearly it has caused this city more harm than good. This will also allow the mayor to more effectively work on his actual goal and duties rather than worrying about things that do not concern him."
"Tarrlok!" Tenzin shouted in rage, even catching Jiàn by surprise. However, Tarrlok continued.
"All those in favor." The other council members were hesitant to react, but, after getting a glance from Tarrlok, all raised their hands.
"Then it's decided. I hope you've enjoyed your last Council meeting here Jiàn."
Tenzin emerged from the central room of City Hall to find Jiàn waiting in the hallway, resting his head against a wall. Jiàn turned his head to notice Tenzin looking at him with disappointment.
"I did everything I could," Tenzin told his friend. "But Tarrlok and the others would not budge." Jiàn simply nodded. He knew there was no chance Tarrlok would change his mind. "This really isn't fair. You did this city a great service but instead you get punished for it. It's..." Jiàn held up a hand to stop him. He then let out a deep sigh of disappointed, struggling to keep his composure. A small part of him was nearly ready to storm back into the council room and strangle Tarrlok. However, Jiàn's logical, civil side once again overrode his emotions and he decided against it.
"Honestly I knew something like this would happen, Tenzin," Jiàn interrupted. "I knew the moment I accepted this task I'd end up losing authority. In the end, I figured protecting the people of this city was far more important than retaining all of my privileges as mayor."
"And that precisely is why you are more deserving to sit in that council room more than the rest of us," Tenzin replied with the hint of a smile. "Besides, Tarrlok never said I couldn't keep you informed about the happenings of each meaning." Jiàn turned to Tenzin and smirked.
"Looks like some of my deceitfulness has finally rubbed off on you old friend," he replied. "Only took 40 years." The two then shared a laugh until Bayne and Byron walked in. They had urgent looks on his face.
"Mayor Jiàn, there's a huge crowd of people waiting for you outside," Bayne told him. "I think they're looking for some answers." Jiàn adjusted his cloak and belt and walked with Bayne towards the entrance of City Hall.
Hundreds of people stood outside City Hall. As Jiàn made his way to the podium, numerous camera flashes assaulted him. Many reporters also began assaulting him with questions, so many that it was impossible to make out a single one of them. He had expected this. Jiàn held up a hand to call for silence, which surprisingly worked. Besides a camera flash or two, nothing audible could be heard. Jiàn then began to speak, completely composed and ready to address the masses.
"People of Republic City, I understand you are anxious to hear about the events which transpired the previous evening. There have also been speculations that I played a role in those events. I am here to tell you that I am in fact the one responsible for the take on the Triads last night." The crowd began gasping and muttering amongst themselves at this surprisingly revelation. Once the whispering died down a little, Jiàn continued. "I led a squad of hired fighters to break into the supposedly secret headquarters of the Triads in an attempt to take their leader, Lightning Bolt Zolt and also to send a message to all the gangs out there that they are not the ones who run this city." He paused for a brief moment. "Sadly, my allies and I were unable to capture Zolt, but I can tell you that the Necromancer is no more." This sparked a large reaction from the crowd, as many assumed he was just a myth used by the Triads to scare people. "Yes he exists, or at least he did. That bloodbender is now dead." At the word "bloodbender", the crowd gasped loudly and began speaking amongst themselves again, this time much louder than before.
"How do we know you're telling the truth about the Necromancer?" a member of the crowd shouted. The masses muttered in agreement. Jiàn looked at the man and nodded.
"An excellent question. The police force was present at his death so they can fill you in on such details during their press conference. Also, my associates and I were also bloodbent by him that night so if you wish to gain more proof you may ask them." The crowd muttered in acceptance. However, another person from the crowd shouted a question once things died down.
"They say you hired criminals to accomplish your task. Why not just use the police force?" Before the crowd got anxious, Jiàn began to speak once more.
"I figured why not give the gangs a taste of their own medicine?" A few chuckles came from the crowd. "But in all seriousness, military and police authority lies solely in the hands of the Council, so I need to recruit people myself. In addition, I needed to conduct a covert operation so as not to risk the gangs learning of the potential plan. Furthermore, I could never ask the honest, noble, and hard-working citizens I am trying to protect to risk their lives to help me in this cause. As for the few criminals I recruited, they were willing to turn their talents towards the side of justice, after a little convincing of course. Not to worry though, while some of their sentences will be lessened thanks to their change of heart, they are all willing to accept legal punishment for their past actions." He paused briefly and sighed. "And I am willing to accept punishment for my actions." Everyone in the crowd began mumbling and chattering, confused as to what crime the mayor committed. Jiàn started to explain. "Tarrlok and the Council have ruled that my actions were unfitting of my role as mayor and believe the reason for my actions was due to my attendance at Council meetings. As a result, I and the mayors who follow will not be allowed to attend such meetings." Cries of outrage and protest rang through the crowd. The noise got so loud that Tarrlok could even hear them from inside his office. However, thinking they were aimed at Jiàn, he decided to simply smile and ignore them. Although the avid crowd pleased Jiàn, he knew he could not let the crowd get out of hand, so he raised a hand to call for silence. As before, the crowd died down after a few moments.
"While I am just as disappointed as all of you, it does not mean I cannot work any less for all of you. Perhaps I can't sit in during those boring meetings anymore, so what? I am still your mayor. I will still keep my office door open to all of you. I will make sure your voices are heard. And, as I showed yesterday, I will fight for you! You all are the heart of this city, do not ever forget that!" The entire crowd erupted in cheers as many in the crowd starting chanting the mayor's name. Jiàn let out a sigh of relief and smiled. He then stepped down from the podium to walk towards the crowd with Bayne on his left and Byron on his right.
Tarrlok, hearing Jiàn's named chanted so many times, looked out the window to see what the commotion was about. He watched in disgust as Jiàn walked through the crowd, shaking hands with everyone, receiving admiration from every single one of them, bender and non-bender alike.
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