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Republic City streets at night
Running Numbers
General information










Original run

August 11, 2013





Running Numbers

He really hated his job when this was what had to be done. Technically, the job was for both he and Bolin, as he was supposed to have a scout. He told Bolin to go watch a match with the Tigerdillos and Rabaroos instead. He didn't want him to have to deal with this.

Triple Threat Triad headquarters

Most work involved staying back at base.

The Triple Threat Triads had given Mako and Bolin a pretty good deal considering, especially Shady Shin. Most of the guys would have been forced to prove their weight and work the streets. Shin got it so that they just ran numbers back at the headquarters.

While that mostly meant managing money and accounts, it did on occasion have its unsavory parts. Tonight was one such night. Mako needed to pick up a drop of money from one of the scams the Triple Threats had been doing for some weeks. They needed to move the money to legitimate businesses quick before the cops confiscated it in a raid.

It was the most dangerous part of his job. If caught, he would have enough money to be convicted of extortion and a litany of other charges. Hence why he needed a scout.

Shady Shin

Shady Shin had given them a good deal.

Bolin could have easily done the job, but he didn't want his little brother anymore involved in this than he had to. Shady Shin had given them a good deal so far, but running with the Triple Threats had a price. If this was what it was, so be it.

Mako walked through the dark streets with flickering lights with hands in his pockets and appearing uninterested in the world around him. In reality, he was alert as ever, as if his entire body was a cluster of nerves.

His amber eyes kept everything in check. Crossing through Central City Station, Mako reflected on the Burroughs he had lived his whole life in. His parents weren't rich, but they made ends meet. They always had enough to eat and could go out to nice parts of the town once or twice a year. When they were gone, Mako and Bolin never left.

A light flickered erratically and it illuminated a person that blared a warning in the young firebender's mind. He wore all black and his stance was that of a strong earthbender. He could be a Triple Threat, or worse. He might belong to another Triad and maybe be an undercover cop. The light bulb cracked and died out, leaving the man enshrouded again. Mako kept walking as if he didn't notice him, finally leaving Central City and heading towards the Dragon Flats Burroughs, border with the Agni Kai's.

He seriously hoped that this scam didn't involve crossing with the violent firebending Triad. No Triad was as aggressive or bloodthirsty as the Agni Kai's. The boldest of the gangs, they always instigated turf wars and were unafraid to push it. They even raided the estates of wealthy businessmen far out of their turf.

Wind caught onto his scarf, sending the tails flying into the air as the young firebender kept walking down the dark street. A step cracked glass, and his eyes narrowed into slits as the sound came from behind.

The man was following him, damn.

Mako kept walking, two could play that game. He was just a guy walking through town. Eventually if Mako took enough turns and tricks, the guy would stop following or would confront him. Either way, this was all bad to him.

Mako started a set of twists and turns through the Burroughs. He knew it like the back of his hand, far better than cops who stayed in safe zones away from Triads. After making three turns that would take the follower a minute or so to catch up on, Mako leaned against a wall and readied himself for anything. If the guy turned his way after all this, he would make the first move. A small flame was burning in his cupped hand, waiting.

Republic City alley

Walking the dark streets.

He heard the steps and braced himself. He saw the man on the far side of the block walking down the dark alleyway and heard his teeth chatter. He waited to see if he would turn his way.

To his relief, he didn't. The man walked right past, not even looking in Mako's direction. Mako breathed a sigh of relief. He waited for a couple of minutes, making sure the man didn't double back. He then continued on with a maze walk, just in case.

It was just ten after midnight and Mako looked across for the checkpoint. He was supposed to meet his contact here. Problem was knowing if it was them. He met many of the members but didn't know all of them, especially those running the scams that made the most yuans for Lightning Bolt Zolt.

He crossed the pitch black street and leaned against a wall. He began whistling a sad tune, his signal. Now it was just time to wait.

Finally, after fourteen minutes, a response came. The whistle of his contact replied, but it had a specific tone, that of alert. Mako tensed as he kept whistling, walking up the steps to the contact. His golden eyes nearly fell out when they saw the man whistling to him.

It was him. The earthbender in black. The man that had followed him from Central City Station. Mako stayed cool and walked past the guy, keeping up his sad tune as the man kept whistling. The two walked up the walk for a few minutes before he gave the next signal.

He pulled out a cigarette and asked, "Hey kid, got a light?"

Mako nodded. He snapped his fingers, bending a small flame as the man hovered over it briefly. He then inhaled a puff of smoke as the cigarette lit. Asking in a casual manner as if talking about the weather, he continued, "Were you followed?"

Mako felt like punching him but answered bluntly, "Yeah, some yahoo from the station."

The earthbender chuckled lightly, "Yeah, that guy can be a real pain in the ass, but he has survived this long by being thorough."

"He might do better if he just met people in safer areas rather than dumps like the Dragon Flats."

"Then what test would the others have?"

The man opened his jacket and pulled out a large envelope, "Do me a favor kid, I have a friend named Shin who's looking for this, could you pass it along?"

Mako took the package and self-weighed it to make sure it was right, "I guess I could do that."

He smiled wide as his green eyes glowed from the light of his cigarette, "There's a good lad."

The man closed up his overcoat and turned to walk away, "Run along now, you wouldn't want to be seen as suspicious by anyone here."

Mako left a few seconds later as he stuffed the letter in his jacket. He really hated jobs like this, where it could have gone so wrong. But again, he was grateful they were just running numbers.


  • The author wrote this knowing that "running numbers" is not so simple as Mako played it out to be.
  • The author was a little inspired by how abysmal his one-shot contest entry was and the new web mini-series in LoK.
  • This is not necessarily meant to stick very close to canon as the author usually tries to do.

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For the collective works of the author, go here.

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