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Prologue
Chapter information
Series

Republic Station

Book

1

Chapter

1

Written by

The Walking Inferno

Editor(s)

The Walking Inferno

Release date

26th December 2014

Chronology
Next chapter

Chapter 2

Mako's feet clunked down the metal corridor, the sound made by his booted feet ruining any chance at stealth he wanted to pull off. He had finally cornered them in this place, but nothing around suggested they had been there at all. The air was its usual sanitised smell, the odour which stung his nostrils and made him exhale forcefully after every five breaths in, hoping to expel that same tingle that clung to his nose hairs.

Of course, he didn't have to worry about the sharp exhales revealing his position, the sound faded away with the soft, strong thrumming humming that seemed to circle the air around him and jostle those little particles of steriliser even more.

He wetted his lips, and feeling that flutter right at the top of his chest start to set in, he took a deep breath in and let it out. It didn't help. He quickened his pace. The only thing that would put down his nerves was catching the bad guys, putting them in cuffs and seeing them on their way down to the station where the chief would have a nice chat with them before throwing them in a cell.

After that he could go home to his small apartment, tear into a bag of dumplings he had been saving, put on the radio and just simply relax. Oh he could feel it now, that couch that he could just sink into as he lay down, the way it would mould to his shape, the way the quiet stretches of fabric would whisper in his ear that three quarters of his yearly pay was worth it –

He had to step back as something flew past his face. They flutter seemed to ascend into a pound as his heart both dropped down to his stomach and flew into his throat, pumping his body to move as he dived behind a control panel that stuck out the endless metal hallway.

Three more streaks of purple shot past him and Mako struggled to stop his hands from shaking so he could just aim his damn gun! "Give up now!" he shouted, trying to buy time, trying to broker peace and trying to strike a bit of fear into their hearts as his sharp voice bit into the temporary silence. "Make it easy on yourselves!" they swore back to him, reinforcing their statements with the bullets that flew through the air. Mako gritted his teeth, and when there was a let up in the fire, he shot his own gun, the purple streaks skimming off metal crates, chipping them with a black scorch. Mako quickly went back into his cover, waiting for the return fire, looking for any flanking routes.

After a few seconds, they never did, and Mako took the time to quickly check his weapon before moving on to an obvious trap. He looked down at the gun in his hand, noticing the steam lingering around the bulbous chamber that rested just above the handle. The chamber thinned out to make the barrel of the gun, which was also smoking at the end. Mako's signature frown pulled his brow down as he cursed his own foolishness; he hadn't cleaned the weapon recently, making it overheat far quicker than it should have.

Five shots was all he had at one time?

He snarled and turned the chamber, revealing six strips cut in the metal, made to allow the purple core resting inside to cool off. It hissed as more steam rose up, but quickly cooled in a few seconds. Seconds that the crooks used to get further away from him, or restock, or get some bigger guns. He sighed, wishing that he had the position or the money to purchase a newer, better model than the gun he had.

Taking a quick peek around the cover, he raised his gun and moved forward, quickly moving to the crate he shot at earlier. He crouched, looked, and continued. He repeated this every opportunity he could, not taking his chances when a trap was clearly ahead. Mako took a quick sniff in, recognising the slightly burnt air now mixed with that horrible sterile smell. The hum seemed to have quietened down as well, allowing Mako to hear some rustling around in a room ahead.

He made his way to the door: a big circular one made to double as an effective barrier, much like a safe. He tried opening it, not surprised he found it locked tight. He heard more clangs inside and looked for another way in. Remembering back to an old film he had watched, he looked up, seeing a vent above him. He could hear it hum too, sucking in the bad and pushing out the good, thinking it did the world justice. He could see the dust starting to line the grid, something that showed how long the place had been left for. You could always leave the machines on, but if no one was there to check everything, then the whole place would go to hell.

Mako stood on his tiptoes, fingers stretching to push the grid up just a little so he could gain a surface to grab. Finding his height just barely let him down for once, he jumped and pushed the grate up a bit before it settled back into its original position. He jumped again, fingers pushing it up and –

He was thrown to the floor, a heavy-set man on top of him recovering from his tackle to give a quick, but strong, punch to Mako's face which flung to the side as his arms started moving on instinct to bat away his attacker. Frantically he pounded on the man's back, but the guy was solid muscle and far heavier than he, so Mako quickly resorted to his gun, steeling himself to pull the trigger and possibly end the man's life. If the man didn't knock the gun out of his hands with a precise blow.

Another hit struck Mako's face, making him dazed. Another hit him right in the temple and the pain quickly zapped a jagged line from one side of his brain to the other. He stayed conscious though, he had to. The man's knees dug into his sides, pressing at his kidneys, forcing out a pained yell and a ragged breath as Mako fought to find that connection in his head. Another strike rocked his vision and knocked his focus from his goal. He needed to focus!

The door behind him slid open and the other man, of similar build to the one hammering away at his head, took a disinterested glance down at his cut face and walked over to his gun the was sprawled across the hallway. When it was picked up, Mako felt the trigger in his mind and a fiery feeling pooled through his blood.

He yelled and forced his palm up into his assailant's face, his vision still not clear, but his instincts guiding his actions as his mind took a temporary backseat. He forced that feeling of molten blood towards his hands and a flame spouted into the right side of the man's face. He didn't yell, but waved his hands around and stumbled back, seemingly more bothered about being blinded than burned.

Mako stumbled backwards, keeping both palms out as they spewed fire. The cover gave him enough time to orientate himself and lift that white haze of adrenaline before he had to dodge shots fired towards him from his own gun. The projectiles were fast, but still bright purple and fairly sluggish due to the guns poor condition which made dodging the shots that much easier. Mako's uniform started to burn along the sleeves, pants and back as orange tubes made themselves clear around his limbs. The tubes ran underneath his arms and behind his legs, ending underneath the wrist and at the heel respectively.

The fight seemed to halt for a second as the man with the gun threw Mako's aside like the trash it was. Mako noticed that the man was wearing red goggles as opposed to his companion's green. He might have been a superior, or an elite, or some punk with bad fashion sense. Either way, Mako didn't wait as he punched forward, his boxing style firebending working well in the tight corridors. The quick jabs kept the man from advancing and Mako could see the annoyance quickly rising with the sneer on the man's face. His head twitched and Mako thought he had fallen for a feint. Taking the opportunity, he reeled his left arm back, condensed the heat and power in his blood and punched forward.

Green goggles was suddenly up and took the blast with no effort apart from a slight slide back on the metal floor. He quickly advanced and Mako panicked, flinging his foot upwards with fire trailing after it before jumping off his remaining foot, spinning in the air and bringing a powerful foot down on green goggles' neck. Mako fell to the floor, unused to the acrobatic manoeuvre. Luckily, however, green goggles fell over too, convulsing heavily and trying to breathe though panicky gulps of air. He was in a position to be finished off, but Mako stayed his hand. He wasn't on the streets anymore.

Instead he drew his attention to red goggles who threw a quick punch that was too fast to counter. The right shoulder joint of Mako's fire suit popped and he felt the hot blood seep away and give away to freezing cold. Meanwhile, the fluid was whipped around by the stray tube and coated the attacker in his right eye, making the lens melt and burn through to his eye socket. The man didn't move, didn't scream, didn't anything and it freaked Mako out. He made a swift uppercut with his remaining hand, fighting away the fear and the man in front of him with a hot blast of fire.

Red goggles actually dodged it and stood back, easily dodging one strike, another strike, a punch, a kick, another kick and finally a shotgun blast of fire. After the combination had finished and before Mako could cool down and launch into his opponent again, the guy with red goggles picked up his large friend with ease and sprinted away from Mako, pulling out a pea-shooter side arm and firing backwards into Mako's thigh. He yelped and fell over, careful not to make his bare skin touch the orange liquid that had finally stopped spewing from his suit. Thank god that the exoskeleton was fairly top of the line – well, as top of the line as the police could afford – and the safety sealers had clotted the rest of the liquid.

Unfortunately, the damage had been done and as sirens began to flood the hallways, Mako dragged himself up by the wall and began to limp down the grey corridors of metal to where he began his search. His looked towards his limp right arm as it swung back and forth like a pendulum with no control, each step increasing the swing and the numb twangs he would get with each movement. Going Cold Turkey was never a good experience.

When he finally reached the exit (entrance?) he saw the Chief on the front lines, as she usually was, shouting orders at men in black and white suits as she pointed this way and that. As soon as the lights of red, white, blue, pink, orange were cast over his battered face, the Chief snapped her head in his direction and shouted his name, flicking her hand towards herself issuing him to come closer and get there quick.

When he finally arrived, she took in his beat state and put her hands on her hips. "What the hell happened in there, Mako?" Her voice was a little deep, but seemed to break out of it when the right syllable needed to be stabbed into her listener's ears. Mako didn't bother to answer, knowing that she would snap at him for any lame excuse he could offer. He suddenly hated the fact he did so well during training enough to garner her attention. Her arms were then folded. "Well?"

Mako stuttered, realising his jaw hurt with the action. "Ah... Chief, they got away..." Then her face adopted a look. It changed every time, the stoic woman's face unusually rubbery when it wanted to be, but the look always meant one thing: she was pissed. Her eyebrows raised, prompting him on. Mako stood up a little straighter and ignored the pain zipping through him from one direction to the other. "When in pursuit I briefly engaged when they took a few shots at me. Taking their opportunity, they fled and I cornered them into a storage room. Before I could get in, I was ambushed."

She looked him up and down. "So that's why you look like you've gone ten rounds with a badger-mole."

He scoffed. "Che, doubt a badger-mole could do this much to me," he said to himself, only to flick his eyes back at the chief who was pinning him with another look. "I-I mean that these guys weren't some ordinary perps, they were shrugging off fire like it was nothing." Mako paused and looked the Chief straight in the eye. "One guy, the one who busted my suit, got some reaction fluid in his eye. He didn't even flinch."

She frowned at that and looked past him to the crime scene. They stayed in silence for a few seconds, sirens and orders flying around them. "Go home, Mako, and get some rest." The harshness shook him out of his slight daydream with a little jump. "Just don't forget to drop the suit back off at the station before you do." She sounded... caring. He knew she never really put up a tough front, because being tough was in her bloodline, but when she changed just a tiny bit in attitude everyone could pick it up. Chief Lin Beifong was an enigma to the force. One they were grateful for.

"Alright, Chief," he replied and she nodded before walking briskly away, barking orders left and right. Mako sighed and turned around, looking out the large glass window that was the general observation deck.

Clusters of stars were dotted around, a green nebula lazily drifting around about half a light-year away. A purple haze dotted with pin-pricks of blue and paintbrushes of lilac took up the middle and the majority of the view from this side of the station. After all, it was placed just outside of the nebula. Mako observed a capital cruiser floating towards a tower that extended outwards from the station, connected by a bridge that no doubt had rushing shuttle traffic. Mako couldn't guess as to how much the connection bridge weighed, or how much it cost, but the tower that held the passing ships was the lifeline of the station, bringing in immigrants, goods and tech.

The tower itself was built like the other three, multi-tiered with windows which filtered the usually vibrant colours down to a light blue that stopped a clear view through the glass unless you were up close. Each tire was marked by ending with a sloped triangular roof, much similar to ancient houses built in the East back on Earth. The exception to this tower, however, was the lack of windows. Sure, there were some, but with it being the industrial sector, everything was kept secret, secluded and fairly grimy. People who were claustrophobic would hate it there, but with the human race in tightly cramped corridors in cruisers the fear was almost gone from existence.

That secret, secluded, grimy, cramped tower was where Mako lived.

A fleet of arrow-shaped fighters zipped past, leaving behind glowing trails of purple from their thrusters at the back. They must have been on training manoeuvres, practicing to engage a threat that could come close to the station. Not that it ever would, Republic Station was a newly founded one with several rich companies having their headquarters in the different connecting towers that made the station what it was. And with the companies came their own little armies, all decked out with the highest gear the company had to offer. The police never strayed near the companies, focusing more on the areas that really needed the help.

From the bottom of his view, a large black sphere slowly drifted upwards. The Sato Defence Drone. A hulking machine that had proved itself time and time again to be the most effective machine at shooting down ships. It circled the station in a self-made orbit, changing slightly every now and then so that any marauders wouldn't be able to predict its pathing so they could avoid it. All the sphere was, was a dumbed down virtual intelligence that read the symbols on ships and ran them through the wanted database. If they were flying with pirate colours, or they were wanted dead, over a certain fee, of course, the drone would open up its large ocular, and fire a beam which would slice through any ships' shields. A truly terrifying weapon.

Turning away from the window, never really getting over the views he got every day, Mako took his police shuttle and after a few seconds of a vertical take-off, the aerodynamic vehicle shot off and slipped into the streams of traffic that sped along above.

He tapped his finger on the wheel, thinking over the guys who pounded his face in. They were strange, obviously, but it didn't really add up. Mako was on patrol when the call came in, but the announcement never said what they were being pursued for. Shaking his head, Mako flicked on the auto pilot and reclined his seat, digging out a syringe filled with a glowing green liquid from his uniform. Biting off the end, he jabbed the needle into his arm and quickly got feeling back into his limb as the liquid went in.

It regained the feeling of movement by replacing the connection to the nerves that were severed by his suit's disconnection. The disconnection wouldn't have been harmful if Mako wasn't running at full blast, but since he was, his arms stimulated being severed off from the brain's connection, leaving him Cold Turkey. It was a horrible feeling, especially with the hotness that came with bending fire with a pyro skeleton suit. The flashes from burning hot to freezing cold had put men into shock before and even gave a few heart attacks, although with the advancement of technology fewer accidental deaths have happened over the years.

Mako thought about the men again, thinking how horribly close he came to dying this night. He probably would have if the green goggled guy didn't go down with that kick. He shuddered at the thought. They weren't regular thugs.

Things didn't add up.

***

He slowly made his way back to his apartment which was tucked away behind his favourite noodle place. The street, like almost everything on the station, was metal, but it was the dull kind that simply absorbed the lighting instead of reflecting it back. Of course, if it did reflect back, Mako would be blinded by all the different colours of neon that made up the signs of vendors and small businesses that lined the streets.

This rainbow of colours and a few dull lamps were all that illuminated the lower areas of the station. Artificial sunlight was reserved for parks and the high-street. All the big businesses couldn't have a ruined reputation, of course.

Sadly, the divide between those with and those without would increase soon in Republic Station. Mako could see the new buildings poorly welded together made out of scrap, as well as the ones made out of corrugated iron, seemingly tied to other flimsy materials just to make a roof. Yes, the homeless population was increasing. Not for lack of work, no you could find a job anywhere in Republic Station; it was the amount of people coming to the station and there being no more space left.

So they improvised, as humans usually do, and they suffer for it. They get robbed every day and the cops don't care that much. It was something Mako wanted to change. Something he has tried to change. He opened the door to his apartment, not surprised to see his brother, Bolin, spread eagle on his own chair, empty noodle boxes littering the coffee table. Mako chuckled and moved to clean the mess, throwing it into an opening in the wall that lay just outside of the kitchen.

The place wasn't much, but it was home and had been for about a year now. After Mako got his new job, he decided it was time to move out of the old pro-bending arena, mainly for change and independence and mainly so that Bolin could keep doing what he loved and actually earn money with it, instead of most of it going towards rent.

There were two bedrooms, Mako's immaculate prized black couch, Bolin's crummy chair full of patches, the coffee table full of junk, a tiny TV and a small kitchen. All in all, it was nice and cosy, smaller than their last place, but enough for them to live.

Bolin made a loud snore and twitched, making his chair creak. Mako chuckled and made his way to his small room, peeling off his jacket and scarf as he went, wincing as his hands skimmed bruises on his face and sides. The darkness in his bedroom was sliced through with hazy blue lines made by the blinds on his window which were quickly shut off as he took off the rest of his clothing down to his underpants and got into bed. It was cold. The heating must have gone off again.

And they didn't have the money to get it fixed.

Damn.

***

"Sir, we retrieved the package." There was only a voice, light wasn't needed here.

"Good. The revolution can begin soon." The voice was deep, gravely.

"What's next then, sir?"

"Hopefully we have made enough noise to attract her attention. When she comes, we teach Republic Station to fear the name Amon."

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