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|Skeletons in the Closet|
Korra sighed. "No, I don't. Not on its own, at least." So far, they had uncovered a DUI and a solicitation charge on Tarrlok, which was definitely a good start. "And once we go public with this, there is no going back. He needs to be down and out for the count. If it isn't a TKO, he will come after you and my father, and he won't stop until you are both unable to ever cause him any trouble again."
Su wasn't convinced. "Well, unlike him, I'm not susceptible to public opinion. Everyone thinks he's untouchable, including him."
"Listen to what I am saying. I'm warning you from him. The guy's an angel in the eyes of the public, it's almost like he pisses rainbows and shits gold. Three years in office and they still like him."
-"Korra, I appreciate the sentiment, but I don't need to be warned. I know how dangerous men like him can be. He's got power and a lot to lose, and we want to get between the mother bear and her cub."
"Exactly! Su, we have one chance before he strikes back. We agreed to put him in his grave, and all we're doing with this is digging a big fuck-off hole! We need something definitive to put him in there!"
Opal came in, startled by the racket her girlfriend was making. Su steeled herself, not wanting to lose control. "Fine. But if I can't find anything, we'll do it my way." She stood up and walked to the door, where Korra followed her. Opal slammed her arm across the doorframe, blocking Korra from walking out. "A word?" she asked sternly.
Su walked out, and Opal resolutely shut the door behind her. "Korra, you're starting to lose it."
"No I'm not," Korra curtly responded.
-"Yes, you are. You were just yelling at my mom, for crying out loud. You said this wasn't about revenge."
"It's not. You know damn well why I'm doing this."
-"No I don't," Opal softly responded. "You wanted to repair your relationship with your father, and saw getting even with Tarrlok as an added bonus. Well, I'm starting to get the feeling those two have switched places."
Korra was surprised. "You really think I would take a risk like that just to get even?"
-"I think you would. You're losing track of the bigger picture, Korra."
She sighed. "What would you suggest we do? Pull our pants down to our ankles and bend over?" Korra paused for a moment. "He used us. He doesn't care about what it does to us, all he cares about is his personal gain, and maybe that of his brother. Do you just want to let that happen?"
-"Of course I don't, but he's the freakin' Vice President! Your father warned us, it's going to be an uphill battle, and if you're losing your cool, he will win."
"What are you suggesting? That we just throw in the towel when we are this close to beating him down?!"
Opal straightened herself, and looked at Korra in disbelief. "Are you calling me a coward?"
"Are you calling me an asshole?"
Opal's face hardened. "Well, it's a stretch to imagine."
Korra scoffed. "Likewise."
-"You are far more like your father than you'd like to admit. And that's not in a good way."
"At least I'm willing to do what's necessary!"
-"Including yelling at my mom?!"
"If that what it takes!"
Opal breathed deeply. "Get out," she hissed, dangerously low. Korra suspiciously eyed her up, and saw that she was completely serious. Without another word, she turned around and walked out.
The drive home was a blur. It was nothing short of a miracle that she didn't cause three or four accidents on her way home. Thought even if you did, you probably wouldn't have noticed. Of all people, Korra would have expected Su and Opal to understand. Opal even said that she would help her, but now the going gets a little tough, she wants to bail. She was inching her way to repairing her relationship with her father, and he is taking a genuinely big risk. Excuse me if I don't want to see my father ruin his career or end up in handcuffs for libel.
She walked inside, slamming the doors behind her in frustration. Korra dropped herself on her bed with a loud grunt, and after a while, her father came up. "Korra, are you alright?"
Korra sighed. "No... Su wanted to go public now, I didn't, I yelled at her, then Opal and I had a fight, we both said things we shouldn't have, and here I am."
Her father pulled up a chair and sat down across from her. "What did you say?"
Korra threw a sceptic glance his way. "What do you care?"
-"I'm not stupid, Korra. You want to bring us closer together, and truth be told, so do I. We might have our disagreements, but I think we are proving what we are capable of when we work together instead of against each other."
She smiled. "Yeah... I guess we are." She sat up straight. "I called her a coward, she called me an asshole. She's not entirely wrong, though."
-"Does she want to pull out?"
Korra sighed. "Not per se, but she was in it to help me fix our relationship," she said, while gesturing between her and her father. "She thinks I lost track of that goal, and that I'm getting hell-bent just on seeking revenge."
-"Are you?" Tonraq eventually asked.
It was silent for a bit. "I don't know. I don't think so, but Opal does. And she hasn't pegged me wrong once, so I'm guessing it's true."
Her father furrowed his brow. "Korra, every relationship has ups and downs. You are taking this personal, and I am not surprised it's putting pressure on your relationship. Give it some time, she'll come around."
Korra smiled. "Does this mean you are finally okay with me falling for girls?"
Her father thought for a long time. "I think so. I still don't like it, but your mother is right. You haven't looked this happy in years." He paused for a moment. "I said that I wanted to protect you. I still do. The thing is: I'm still comparing my past to your future. I had a childhood out of the ordinary, so I wanted everything about yours to be as normal as possible. And you being... gay... didn't fit that picture." Tonraq hesitated tremendously to say it, but it made Korra happy nevertheless. He finally said it, and he was finally accepting her.
"Thanks dad. This really means a lot to me."
He smiled. "Well, I guess you accomplished one goal. I hope you'll still help me accomplish the other one." Tonraq stood up. "I'll call Suyin. You're right, I don't think we should go public just yet." Before walking out, he turned around again. "You're going to be alright, kid. You and Opal."
Korra smiled. Her father walked out, and she let herself fall back onto her bed. Holy fish on a pancake, you actually did it. For the first time in years, their relationship was actually improving.
Opal was right, she let Tarrlok get to her, and now they were paying the price. The best thing to do first was to give her some time, at least letting the emotions settle down. Korra didn't want to lose track of the big picture, and right now, the frame was shifting.
A week passed. Su called a couple of times to let her father know that she may have something, but she needed to dig deeper to make it stick. Neither Korra nor Tonraq knew what she had in mind, but if she was being so secretive, it must be good.
But it was the fact that Opal didn't want anything to do with Korra that started to get her worried. She had sent tons of text and called numerous times, but Opal ignored all of it. Sure, they had a fight, but that wasn't a reason to suddenly shut her out? Korra wished she at least knew what was going on Opal's head, but she could never connect all loose ends. It was a mess.
And all of a sudden, Su turned up on their doorstep.
"Su? Wha- what are you doing here?"
-"I'm here on business. We have some things to discuss." Her voice was harder and lower than usual. Suddenly her nickname 'The Full Metal Bitch' doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore. She stepped inside, making her way to Tonraq's study. He was there, and looked up in surprise when Su and Korra walked in.
-"I have what you wanted: something definitive." She sat down and pulled a file from her bag, placing it on Tonraq's desk. "This is what we need. Have you heard of Varrick Global Industries?"
Her father nodded. "Yeah, a shipping company based in Arkansas, if I'm not mistaken."
-"Exactly. Now take a look at that," she said, gesturing to the file.
Korra and her father looked at it, but it didn't make a lot of sense to Korra. The one page that made the most sense was a map of a couple of states along the Mississippi, with a few places circled in black and one in red. The rest was just an endless array of big numbers and technical terms. "What are we looking at here?" Korra asked.
-"Varrick is a brash-but-brilliant businessman. I worked with him on the railroad project your father helped me with, and let me tell you, that was once but never again. He has been trying for years to build a shipyard somewhere on the Mississippi, but the states continuously stopped him. No one really trusts the guy, he'll always stab everyone in the back. His primary target was Arkansas, and five years ago, he suddenly got his approval from the Governor's Office."
Tonraq looked up. "When Tarrlok was Governor."
Su smiled "Bingo. I looked up the contributions to the party. Eighteen million dollars came from Varrick Global, giving Tarrlok and Raiko a significant advantage over the opposition. Previously, his money had been flowing to the other side of the aisle."
"But that doesn't matter, political contributions aren't illegal, right?" Korra said, reasonably certain of herself.
-"No they are not. Even if that was what prompted the shipyard's approval, it wouldn't be enough to prove anything. But he left a loose end. Tarrlok exerted pressure over several counties in order to find one where the shipyard would be approved. Of course, it also got him credit for creating jobs, further aiding him into getting elected. But something didn't add up about the numbers. I redid the math a couple of times, and I could only conclude that twenty million dollars left the account of Varrick Global. Meaning..."
"Two million got lost somewhere along the way."
-"I used this knowledge to dig deep into records. Out of nowhere, Tarrlok became a big shareholder in Varrick's company, and a week later, the shipyard was announced. Share prices soared, and two million quickly became five. It made Tarrlok obscenely rich, and he made the mistake of flaunting it, mostly in expensive art and new shares of Varrick Global. Money he couldn't possibly have made being Governor."
Tonraq was stunned. "Are you saying that Varrick bribed him?"
Su nodded. "Absolutely. We have a solid charge of corruption lying right in front of us."
A massive smile crept across Korra's face. We got him by the balls now. All we have to do is squeeze. "This is brilliant. No way can he cope with this. If we come out with the DUI and solicitation first, then throw out this, he's going down."
Tonraq leaned back into his chair, an equally big smile playing across his face. "We got him by the balls now. All we have to do is squeeze." He grinned, quite content with his remark. "Suyin, you're an angel. If you didn't hate my guts, I'd kiss you right now."
Su smiled. "You don't have to do that, but I appreciate the sentiment. Also, I don't necessarily hate you."
-"Regardless, this is great. I... I don't know how to thank you."
-"Just bring that bastard down. I want to watch him burn."
-"And you'll have front row seats. Keep an eye on the news. I'll take it from here," her father said.
They both stood up, and shook hands. "Pleasure doing business, Congressman."
-"The pleasure was mine, Mrs. Beifong."
Korra stood up as well. "I'll show you out." They walked down to the hall, and that's where Korra decided to make her play. "Su, I want to apologize to you. Also to Opal, but she isn't here. She was right. I let Tarrlok get to me and lashed out at you in response."
A slight smile crept across her face. "You should really be saying this to Opal."
Korra sighed. "I know, but she won't answer my calls or return my texts. Could you..." She hesitated. "Could you tell her I said that I'm an ass and that she was right?"
-"I will. And thank you, for pushing me on. In hindsight, it probably wouldn't have been enough to just do the DUI and solicitation."
"Water under the bridge. You do know you just single-handedly brought down the Vice President of the United States?"
-"I didn't do it alone. You should give yourself more credit, Korra. You earned it. I'll talk to Opal. We just became the winning team." With that, she walked to her Land Rover Evoque, and drove back to the Beifong Estate.
The next day, Tonraq leaked the first two charges to the press. Tarrlok scheduled a press conference, attempting to contain the damage. He didn't know the worst was yet to come. Tonraq made sure to leak the corruption file at such a time that the FBI came in during the press conference, not so subtly taking positions on all exits in front of cameras of the entire country. They had the good graces not to slam the handcuffs on him on camera, but it was pretty close.
Korra and her father watched it unfold on their television, both of them lined with identical smug grins. "We won," she said. For the first time since she could remember, her father pulled her into a hug. This was their victory.
-"We did it, kid. The greatest trick ever played on the White House." At the same time, her phone started buzzing. It was on the table, and her father looked at the screen. "You'll want to take that."
She took a deep breath, and picked up. "Hey sweetie..."
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