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January 24, 2013
This is the sixteenth chapter of the series,.
Three days later
Before dawn at the Sato mansion, Asami is in her workshop behind the house as she works on a new motor for a new line Satomobile. Unknown to her a figure hides in the shadows as the Blue Spirit clings to the ceiling, slowly drawing the dual blades. Without warning the vigilante jumps down and attacks from behind. Asami however knocks the blade out of his right hand, then kicks the 'spirit' in the chest pushing him back before grabbing the dropped blade herself. The two engage in a brief exchange of sword swipes before she finally knocks the other blade away. The Blue Spirit lunges forward attempting to use chi-blocking to disable the woman. She easily counters the blows and delivers a surprise kick that puts the masked figure down for the count.
"You're getting better, but you need to work on your follow through." she says, helping the attacker up. "The element of surprise only gets you so far."
"I'll remember that next time."
"Yeah, about that. I read the newspaper reports. You attacked a council member and the chief of police, let alone two close friends!" she says throwing the paper at the 'spirit'
"It's not like that. I tried to talk to Jinora but uncle Mako was already waiting to ambush me. I just wanted them to listen."
"And now you're wanted for assault on two key city officials." she walks over to the desk, turning away from the masked figure. "I can't do this anymore. When you came to me I agreed to help you because I believed you could help the city the same way Korra did. But this...this is too much."
"You said you'd help me to restore order to the city, to finish what my mother started."
"Believe me, after what the Agni Kai's did to my family I would like nothing more than to do what you're doing. But there are other ways to honor her work besides running through the streets smashing gangster's heads together."
"What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to stop this before you get yourself or someone else killed. Listen, I loved your mother, the same way i've loved you, but I won't cause your father anymore heartache. He's had enough grief in his life and I won't do that to him." she places her hands on the 'spirits' shoulders. "Please, for his sake, for mine, for yours." she says with her deep emerald eyes looking into theirs through the mask.
The Blue Spirit lets out a sigh. "Alright, if it means that much to you, no more than."
"You'll see, it's for the best." she says as she hugs the masked figure. "Hey how about you take off that mask?"
"No way, it makes me feel cool." the two begin to laugh as Asami's husband, the former mobster Shady Shin walks in. "Thought I heard somethin' out here. How's it going kiddo." he says grabbing the Blue Spirit in a headlock and giving them a noogie, as the three laugh.
"Well I better get going. I've got some big plans for tomorrow." the Blue Spirit says, leaving out the doorway.
The next morning Sakari is awoken by her father as she sleeps on the living room couch, Raza nestled on her chest. "Sakari, wake up." he says as she opens her eyes. "What are you doing down here?"
"Oh sorry dad, I got up early to do my morning ten mile run. Master Hasook kept us on a tight regime and it sticks even when I'm on leave. I didn't want to wake you guys so I slept down here."
"Looks like your brother beat you to it. He's already gone. So what have you got planned for us today?"
"Let's see." she pulls out the list and looks down the crossed out list. "Ooh, swamp skiing. Wanna come Raza?" she asks as the reptile bird flies over to the other side of the room and climbs into its basket nest.
"Looks like it's just you and me today." Tahno says as he gets dressed and the two head outside.
"Oh yeah, I have a surprise for you dad. Close your eyes." she says as he complies. She then gives a sharp whistle as her father feels the ground shake around him, now fully aware of what is about to happen. He is knocked to the ground by a familiar face.
"Hello mutt." he says lying on the ground as Naga licks his face.
"I went to pick her up yesterday. I had her shipped from the South Pole but it took her a few days to get here. Boy she sure is glad to see you."
"Yeah, me and her go way back, that's when I first met your mother."
"I'll tell you about it later. Let's get going." the two make it to the docks as he sets up the canoe. "Ready?" he asks as Sakari gives him a thumbs up from the dock where Naga watches on. He motions his arms in a rotary motion and the boat takes off. Sakari shouts with excitement as she feels the water beneath her, watching as she passes everything around her. The two then perform a dangerous maneuver as they pass between two cargo ships. After a while the two head back to the dock. Sakari uses a water spiral to fly out of the water to the dock. "That was the best. Hey can we do the real thing when we go see grandpa Yang?" she says slyly slipping the "we" in.
"We'll see." Tahno says plainly. It wasn't the response she was hoping for but at least there was a possibility.
"You want to grab some lunch? I know a really great place get some noodles."
"Narook's?" her father answers.
"How'd you know?"
"I've been going there since before you were born." the two make their way to the restaurant on Naga. "Well if it isn't jungle boy. Out in public again I see." the two look down to see a woman sitting on the pavement wearing old, ragged clothing. Her face is dirty and her hair a mess, though Tahno can tell who she is by voice alone.
"Ah Taki, looking radiant as ever." he says sarcastically with a smile.
"Yeah, well food costs money, and theirs not a large job market for criminal bloodbenders." her final word catches Sakari's ear as the young woman perks up at hearing it. "That must be your little boy I've seen around the city." the woman says, her face much skinnier due to lack of food. Tahno gives a light nod. "So polite and well mannered, always lending a hand to us less fortunate. Must get it from his mother." she says with a hint of hate toward the water-bender.
Tahno scoffs at her and motions for Sakari to keep going as the two leave the woman. "Who was she?" his daughter asks.
"No one you need to worry about." the pair finally reach Narook's and head toward the door. As Tahno heads inside Sakari stops and sees two familiar faces across the street. "Hey dad, why don't you save us a table? I'll catch up." she says as he agrees, giving her a peculiar look. She walks across the street, where a man and woman, about her age stand outside a store, leaning on a car. The man, obviously an earth-bender, wears green pants with suspenders and a white shirt. She recognizes him as Dogu, the son of Ming and Sasame. The woman has long black hair, tanned skin, signifying some Water Tribe heritage, and light silver eyes. She wears a dark red top with blue pants accompanied with a pair of black and red fire-bending boots. She instantly identifies her as Yi, the oldest daughter of Shaozu and Ikki. "Hey you guys." she says, waving at the two as she walks over.
"Uh." Dogu says confused.
"It's me, Sakari."
"Oh hey, didn't recognize you." he says happily picking her up in a hug.
"So what are you guys doing here?"
"Business actually, we work for the Triple Threats now."
"Really?" she acts surprised even though she's aware of the whole story.
"Yep, 'Dirt-boss Dogu and Ghost-eyed Yi." he says proudly.
"Hey Yi, how's it been?" she gets no response from her friend as she looks down. "I was hoping we could talk for a bit."
"Yi really doesn't talk too much these days. She had an accident." Dogu lets slip as Yi throws him an angered look.
"What happened?" she asks as Yi slaps Dogu. She then pulls down the long collar of her shirt to reveal a long scar running across her neck. "Yi, how did this happen?" Sakari asks as Yi uses sign language to communicate. Her friend has a hard time understanding, not being fluent. As Dogu tries to explain their leader, "Chiller" Chow comes out of the building, wearing an ice blue suit and a white bowler hat, tucking a wad of cash into his jacket. He looks up and sees the three.
"Play along." Dogu whispers to Sakari and pushes her back. "Hey watch it girly."
"Well look who it is. I bet you thought it was pretty funny trying to make a fool out of me?"
"Oh believe me, you didn't need my help in that department." she goads him, smiling.
"Why you little." Chow launches a water shot from the satchel in his jacket. Sakari counters by grabbing the water in her hand and tossing it back at him, freezing the water around his head knocking his hat off. He unfreezes it and turns to look at his hair in the shop window. "Aah! Do you have any idea how long it took to style this? Get her!" he shouts as Yi and Dogu rush her, the latter apologizing under his breadth.
Dogu stomps down, causing a fissure heading toward Sakari. She leaps to the side as the earth-bender's attack breaks open a fire hydrant. She uses the new fuel and water whips the earth-bender to the side, then throws him in the air with a water spout and lets him crash on top of the groups Satomobile. She is surprised as Yi and Chow team up. Yi unleashes a flurry of fire blasts as the two water-benders trade blows. She knocks him back and rushes toward Yi, avoiding her fire blasts and grabbing her arm, putting her in a hold before throwing her to the ground.
Chow uses the water from the hydrant to form a shield in front of him, launching his signature ice daggers at Sakari. She weaves and ducks through the barrage, using her bending to return the daggers she can't avoid to their liquid state. She jumps over his shield and, after landing behind him, launches a water jet at his feet that forces him to his knees. He counters by swinging around and shooting several large ice shards from above, forcing her to back flip to avoid them. "So that's why they call you 'Chiller'. And here I was thinking you were just cold and unfeeling."
Chow freezes the water under Sakari's feet unbalancing her. She uses the new obstacle to slide toward him and surprises the gangster, kicking him in the crotch. He falls to his knees, gasping for breadth. Sakari jumps up and water kicks him into a dumpster and shuts the top down. Yi walks over, having recovered and, unknown to Chow melts the lock on the dumpster sealing him inside. She nods to her old friend and helps up Dogu as the two walk away. "Hey, let me out. This is a new suit!" Chow shouts as Sakari walks over, picks up his hat and walks back to the restaurant. "Hey, what's going on? You're not taking my hat are you? Don't you take that hat. That cost seventy Yuan. Come back here. You can't do this to me. I'm 'Chiller' Chow!"
Sakari ignores his shouting and joins her father, who has already gotten his noodles. "What kept you? Nice hat."
"Thanks. So dad, it's been fifteen years and I'm dying to know; how did you and mom meet?" she says holding her chopsticks.
"It was actually right over there." he says, pointing over in the corner. "She was on a date and I...well I was on a few myself. I spotted her across the room and she spotted me, so I decided to introduce myself. Ming, Shaozu and I walked over to her."
"What did you say? I bet it was something romantic wasn't it?"
"Not exactly. My exact words were: If you'd like to learn how a real pro bends; I could give you some private lessons."
"You didn't?" she says chuckling.
"I did. And I swear if we weren't both in the tournament she would have knocked my teeth out." the two share a laugh.
"So how did you two end up together?"
"That's a much longer story, but I'll tell you what; I'll tell you the whole story on your next visit." he says as she is delighted at his approval of another visit.
After the meal the two head to the pro-bending arena. "So whose playing tonight?"
"Your favorite team. The Wolf-bats." Sakari says as they enter the arena. "Come on, this way. I got us a private box."
"How'd you swing that?"
"That would be my work." the two turn to see Ming. He walks over as he and Tahno shake hands. "Been too long old friend."
"Great to be back." As they talk, the group are instantly set upon by the press as they snap pictures and attempt to get an interview with the former pro-benders.
"Tahno, is it true you're coming out of retirement?"
"Will you be co-managing the Wolf-bats?"
"No no, I'm just here to watch a match and spend some time with my daughter." he says dismissing the many questions as they head to their box seats. "So Ming, how's coaching treating you?"
"Wouldn't know, Sasame does the coaching. I run three bending studios on the other side of town, you should come check em' out some time."
"Sasame coaches the team?" Tahno says as the match begins. The new team consists of two girls and the sole male member is the team's earth-bender. In the team box Sasame shouts at the team for their sloppy form.
"She has a knack for giving orders."
A few hours later Sakari and Tahno are back at home. "That was the coolest thing I've ever seen."
"Glad you enjoyed yourself."
"Hey Nilak, you home?"
"Must still be out."
"Well, while he's still out, I've got some stuff to take care of, so I'll be back a little later. You'll be okay right?" she asks as he nods with a smile. "Dad, I just want you to know these last few days have been the best I've had in a long time."
"Me too." he says as he heads upstairs.
She rides Naga back to town and has her sniff around. "Come on girl find Nilak." the polar bear dog searches frantically to no avail as the moon surfaces on the horizon as night falls. She thinks to herself that Nilak must be in some kind of trouble, as she had called the Sato Mansion and Asami told her Nilak had not been working the whole week. "Didn't expect to see you again so soon." Sakari has Naga stop as Taki greets her again. She hops down in front of the woman.
"You know Nilak right?"
"I'd call him a friend, yes."
"Do you know where he might be?"
"I don't think Tahno would appreciate me talking to you."
"Right now I just want to make sure my little brother's not in trouble."
"Since you put it that way. I saw him early this morning. He handed out some food at the terminal and said he was headed out to the docks this evening."
"What's out there?"
"Couldn't tell you, but he seemed pretty nervous."
"Alright, thanks." Sakari says, ready to head off. She stops however, and turns back to the woman. "Hey, you want to grab something to eat?"
The two women sit at a restaurant as Sakari asks Taki a few questions. "So, how do you know my dad?"
"We dated for a bit, nothing serious. I was young, he was an athlete and I was drawn to the fame and fortune. After he lost his bending...well we kind of drifted apart."
"You said you're a blood-bender?" she says quietly so as not to alarm the other patrons.
"Why don't we get this to go?" the two get the food put in a bag and walk through the park as Taki explains. "Wow, that's some break up story."
"Yeah, I did ten years for that little stunt."
"I know this might sound crazy but, could you show me?" Sakari asks as the older woman gives her a bizarre look. "During my training they taught me a lot, but they never mentioned anything like that."
"So what do you want me to do?"
"Use it on me. You said a strong enough water-bender can resist it. If I want to get stronger, I need to experience every type of bending there is."
"You know it's illegal to use blood-bending right? One move and I'm back behind bars."
"Well, I am a Warrant Officer in the United Forces. If anyone questions it I can pull rank on them." Taki nods and the two find a secluded spot in the park.
"Okay, I'm not going to lie, this will hurt, a lot." Taki says as she motions her arms. The technique forces Sakari to her knees as she attempts to cope with the pain. "Okay, we should stop."
"No...i can do this, keep...going." Sakari strains to say as she tries to fight against the powerful bending art. As she attempts to move forward Taki stops and she is released from the grip. "What happened?" she turns as Tahno marches angrily over to Taki.
"What are you doing to her?" he says pushing her away.
"Dad stop, I asked her to."
"Go home, now!"
"But dad." she is cut off by her father's angered stare as she calls Naga and rides off.
"You stay away from my kids, you hear me?" he says to the woman. "If I ever see you near either of them again I'm calling the cops." he leaves Taki in the park as he walks back to the street.
At the Sato Mansion Asami and Shin are asleep in bed. She is woken up suddenly as she sees Raza perched outside the bedroom window. She gets up quietly walking over and opening the window. "Raza, what are you doing here?" she asks as she sees a note attached to his leg. She unties it and reads the letter:
Dear Aunt Asami,
I just wanted to thank you for all that you did for me. I know what we discussed earlier but I've decided I need to do what I think is best. I'm heading out tonight for one last mission and if I don't come back tell dad I'm sorry. I'm sorry for letting you down. All I ever wanted was for everyone to be proud of me. I don't know if mom would be proud of me for what I'm about to do, but I tried my best.
Asami drops the letter and rushes over to the phone and begins dialing a number. "Hello."
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