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Post  Loyal Subject on Sun May 13, 2012 10:43 pm

Title: Gabannome
Rating: M for language (seriously if you want me to take it down I will and I don't think the filter will get everything)

Gabannome: intersection on a Go board.

Where All the Players are Introduced and the Story Begins

It’s not easy living in Republic City. The poor pretty much stay poor, the gangs run the city, there’s some sort of anti-bender revolution brewing, and if you aren’t careful enough you could easily end up floating in the Yue Bay one morning. It’s a description like that that makes one question why so many people would even bother living in a place like Republic City. But the answer is easy: it’s a city that never sleeps, a city that’s always on the go. The way the city lights up at night is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The nightclubs that are open until 3 in the morning filled to the brim with people who are just looking for a good time. The theaters that play the moving pictures for just five yuans. The stands of food that hail from every nation, one right next to the other. The latest fashion trends. The characters. One could go on and on when describing what this city’s got to offer.

But you got to be fast if you want to fully experience it. You got to be bold, daring even. You got to be willing to take risks. Because if you can’t catch up with Republic City, you’ll just get eaten alive.

There’s currently a girl who’s got no sense of how this city works. How it manages to function day to day. Clearly F.O.B. Maybe she’ll learn. Maybe she won’t. She better learn fast though because the feds are already on her tail.
Her polar bear-dog is causing a ruckus as she plows through anything and anyone that stands in her way. If you thought dodging a satomobile in the middle of a chase was difficult, you clearly haven’t tried to dodge a polar bear-dog. At least the satomobiles stay on the road. For the most part.

A young woman exclaims something incoherently as the polar bear-dog nearly takes out the man she’s walking with. Luckily, he manages to get out of the way before the massive paw completely takes him out. Unfortunately, the paper boy the polar bear-dog will run into next isn’t so lucky. Not that he dies, mind you, but his papers go flying all over the place. And that’s his livelihood gone for the day. Just like that, in the blink of an eye. That’s what this city will do to you.

“Sorry!” the girl manages to say as she continues to destroy the city around her. An older gentlemen and his partner watch from afar as the girl nearly crashes into a satomobile. They look at her in surprise and yet there’s also a hint of shame. You never really want to run into someone that’s making a complete fool of themselves especially when they’re from the same nation as you.

“Was that a polar bear-dog?” the younger of the two asks as they watch the girl try to pull a fast one by making a sharp turn.

“I swear, Water Tribe immigrants are the worse,” the older one replies.

Then of course there are the feds. She’s managed to elude a few of them but they’re still hot on her trail. Two in particular seem rather persistent in tracking her down. As if their futures depend on it. However, that sudden sharp turn throws one of them off and the other slows down to check on her partner.

“****,” she says as she realizes they’ve lost a lot of ground on the girl. She should have just kept going, shouldn’t have looked back. But he’s family so she’s really got no choice. He’s perfectly fine though and she really should have more faith in him. When you’re a pair like that, you got to trust the other one or you’re done.
So the girl on the polar bear-dog continues to run. She won’t get much further before the feds finally catch up to her and take her downtown. But that’s for another story…

* * *

“Airi my dear, this calls for a celebration!” Kenji exclaimed as they walked down the streets of Republic City side by side. His hair was unusually more messy than usual as if he had been pulling at his hair in excitement shortly before.

“Uh-huh,” Airi replied just as excitedly. Her faded yellow hat bobbed up and down as she walked along with her dark brown hair. The long brown coat she was wearing and faded pink dress was swaying with each step.

“To think we’ll be playing the infamous bank robbers Roba and Kiri! It’s the role of a lifetime, the role that could single handedly launch our careers.” With each sentence, Kenji became more and more excited. And, as the excitement rose within him, his hands moved fluently as he described their amazing fortune. “Just think of it: we’ll be just like Shin-Shin. People will recognize us on the street, saying ‘hey, isn’t that Airi and Kenji?’ And then they’ll beg us for our autographs. We’ll be just as famous as the pro-benders.”

“That sounds amazing!”

“It does, doesn’t it?” Suddenly Kenji stopped walking and, turning to Airi, he grabbed her so she was now leaning back. She held onto the sleeve of his shirt for support with one hand while her other hand was wrapped in his own. His light grey eyes were looking intently into her dark brown ones. “Airi, with our careers about to take a huge turn for the better, will you marry me?”

“No, Kenji,” she replied but her voice was just as chipper and high pitched as it had been before, as if she hadn’t just completely refused a proposal. In fact, she was even smiling a little as she looked at him.

“Well, one of these days you will,” Kenji remarked, clearly un-phased by her refusal. He then lifted her up and the two continued walking. “Now, we’ve got to take these roles seriously Airi.” He held up a finger as he said this as though he were reprimanding her. “No playing around.”

“No playing around,” Airi repeated.

“We’ve got to really get in character. Really get inside their shoes.”

“I hope we’re the same shoe size,” Airi said thoughtfully.

“We’re definitely the same shoe size. We were born to play these two.”

“It’s our calling.” There was a bit of shouting coming from behind them but the two were so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t seem to take much notice in it. Besides, people were always shouting in Republic City which made it easy to ignore.

“That’s right! Now—“ However, before Kenji could continue, someone bumped into them as they tried to get out of the way of something. The two turned as a giant polar bear-dog came running past them. One of its massive paws was just inches away from Kenji, nearly about to come down upon him.

“Kenji!” Airi shouted as he managed to fall back away from the creature and fell on the ground. Airi bent down beside him. “Are you alright?” she asked worriedly.

“I’m fine,” Kenji replied but he continued to remain on the ground as he recovered from the fall. “But did you see that amazing polar bear-dog?”

“That polar bear-dog almost trampled you!”

“Yes, but it was an amazing sight!” The two then started to get up together as people were clearly now getting annoyed that they were blocking the sidewalk. Once they were up, Kenji brushed his dark brown shirt before they continued along their way only as they continued their arms were interlocked with one another.

* * *

“Was that a polar bear-dog?” Taho asked as he saw the strange creature running down the street, nearly taking out a pedestrian in the process. Although he had Water Tribe blood in him, he had never been to the North or South Pole before.

“Water Tribe immigrants are the worse,” his partner, Capac replied gruffly. “Come on, let’s get out of here.” If there was a crazy immigrant wreaking havoc then the feds would be nearby. With that, the two slipped away from the crowd through a nearby alley.

“Hey Capac, you ever seen a polar bear-dog?” Taho asked. He knew Capac had been an immigrant back in the day but that had been when he was very young and before Taho was even born.

“Yeah, I’ve seen one. Tore a man’s hand clean off before my dad gut the son of a bitch.” The alley led to another street where their blue satomobile was parked. It was just an average blue one that could easily be mass produced and blend with all the rest. Because that’s how the Red Monsoons worked: they weren’t as flashy as the Triple Threats, they preferred to stay as under the radar as possible. Although, that didn’t stop them from wearing blue fedoras: Taho’s was light blue while Capac’s was a much darker shade to the point where it could be almost considered black.

Taho and Capac climbed into the vehicle, slamming the doors behind them. Capac took a minute to get himself settled before starting the car and driving off.

“Now remember, tonight the deal’s goin’ down with Lightning Bolt Zolt’s gang at 8 p.m. sharp,” Capac was saying. “We get in, we make the exchange, and we leave.”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it,” Taho replied nonchalantly, the toothpick in his mouth hanging loosely from the edge of his lips as he lay back in his seat. “Hey, whatta ya say we catch a couple of pro-bending matches after the exchange?”
“If you want to waste your time on some god damn matches then be my guest Taho.”

“Hey, you bet on some of them matches too!” Taho replied defensively. He hated it when Capac patronized him; like he was some goddamn messiah.

“Yeah but not right when we’re working on a deal. Man, that place is goin’ to be crawling with those mother f*****' feds. And I ain’t sticking around for that ****.” Capac turned off the main road and onto a side street. “But like I said: if you want to go and do that ****, fine. But you’re walking home.” He made another turn towards another side street.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” Taho said, thinking it was best to leave the conversation alone despite the fact he was still pissed.

The satomobile came to a halt as they had reached their destination.

“I’ll pick you up at 7:30. Don’t be late,” Capac said as Taho got out of the car. Without saying another word, Taho shut the door and Capac was off.

* * *

“Ugh, I can’t believe this!” Lei groaned as she pulled her helmet off. “We could have had her!”

“Relax sis, it’s no big deal. Not like we were the only ones having trouble,” Kato replied, also removing his helmet. The two stood on the ledge of the large police airship, looking down at the city below them. Even from way up there, it still looked so big and magnificent. The people looked as though they were ants, completely insignificant as they frantically searched through an endless maze. Just below them the girl they had been pursuing was safely tied along with her polar bear-dog. She had been trying to wiggle herself free but had by this point realized it was completely futile.

“Still, it would have looked good if we had gotten her,” Lei added before they walked back inside the massive airship.

“Yeah, I’m sure it would have but like I said, it’s no big deal. Stop worrying about it,” Kato said. Although his tone didn’t suggest it, he was reprimanding her now. She gave him a look but obeyed and kept silent. “To be honest though, I’m a little surprised you actually stopped to check up on me. You must really care,” he added and now it was clear he was teasing her.

“Shut up.”

There was nothing spectacular about the ride back to the station. It was just like any other ride. Just before they exited the airship, Lei and Kato placed their helmets back on. However, what they weren’t expecting was Lieutenant Sho waiting for them to return.

“Lieutenant Sho, fancy meeting you here,” Kato said immediately upon seeing him. He didn’t look too pleased at the informality but this was probably mostly due to the fact that he just didn’t like Kato.

“You’re wanted in the debriefing room for a special assignment,” Lieutenant Sho said sternly before leaving. Lei and Kato exchanged a quick look at one another before smiling.

“Special assignment!” Kato exclaimed. “You know what that means?”

“That promotion is as good as ours,” Lei replied.

“See? I told you not to worry so much.”

“Alright, listen up,” Lieutenant Sho began once all the officers had entered the debriefing room. A board with various photographs and a map of the pro-bending arena was displayed behind him. “We have reason to believe that an exchange will be occurring between the Triple Threats and the Red Monsoons during the pro-bending matches this evening. You are all to go under cover and bust the exchange.” He then pointed to the various photographs. “These men are said to be involved tonight so be on the lookout for them.” Lei studied their faces and which gang they were a part of, attempting to memorize as many distinguishable features as possible

“Our inside man is under the impression that the exchange will take place up here.” Sho pointed to a particular section of the arena. “I want Squad One to be in this area. Squad Two through Five will be situated here, here, here, and here respectively. The rest of you will be guarding the exits.” The room was silent as everyone listened intently to the directions. “It is important that you allow the exchange to happen before pursuing the intended targets.”

Here, the Lieutenant took a breath and looked as though he was rather reluctant to say what he was about to say. “I will be in charge of what goes on in the arena. Officers Lei and Kato will be in charge of the perimeter.”

Kato and Lei immediately exchanged a small glance. But it was one that went unnoticeable by the rest of the officers. It was their small glance of victory.

* * *

The papers were flying everywhere. Just like that, he had lost all the papers. As soon as the polar bear-dog had left, Shiki immediately ran into the street, desperately trying to pick up whatever papers he could. But it was useless: most of them were no good. Still, he took whatever papers he could and acted as though nothing was wrong.

“This just in! Hideki’s found guilty!” Shiki shouted at the top of his lungs as he tried to draw in whatever customers he could. But most were too frazzled by the recent events to notice the paper boy. Still, he tried to keep his positive attitude because no one would buy the papers otherwise. But deep down, he was dying inside.
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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Wed May 16, 2012 9:18 pm

An Exchange Goes Down; Shiki Finds Himself Roaming the Streets

The street lights were on but there were still plenty of people walking around. But it didn’t matter: his news was old news now. There were no more newspapers anyway. He had to throw out the ones that had been ruined for the simple reason that no one would buy them. His pockets were practically empty and his stomach was growling like crazy.

Shiki hadn’t been in this kind of position for a long time. Sure, he had had bad days. But none like this. And what was worse, he still had to get back to Ozu. Just the thought of him made Shiki sick to his stomach.

A couple of other boys were heading home too. Home. He didn’t consider Ozu’s establishment a home but it was the closest thing he had. It was either that or living in the streets. Though sometimes he felt he had a better chance out there than with this guy. It was either that or an orphanage. But no kid wanted to be cooped up in an orphanage.
The other boys were heading inside, handing Ozu whatever money they had made for the day. Shiki gulped as he searched his pocket for what little yuans he possessed. Luckily, the other boys had brought in a good amount of money. Hopefully that meant Ozu would be in a good mood. Hopefully.

Shiki handed Ozu whatever money he had. He was never sure if Ozu was as big and powerful as he appeared to be or if that was only due to the fact he often felt small and insignificant in front of him. It didn’t take long for Shiki to realize Ozu was not happy.

“Looks like we had a bad day,” Ozu remarked.

“…A polar bear-dog ran into me…” Shiki replied timidly.

“I don’t care what happened,” Ozu suddenly snapped. “This is pitiful. Make sure you do better tomorrow.”

“Yes sir.” Shiki then went to follow the rest of the boys. But suddenly, a slash of fire appeared in front of him, blocking the way.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Ozu said as he whisked the fire away on a whim. “No money, no food. And no shelter. Come back tomorrow morning.” And that was it. Shiki couldn’t do anything more other than to leave at Ozu’s command. So he did.

It was funny how the streets seemed even more merciless once you knew you had no place to go for the night. He kicked the pavement as he walked; thinking over what he could do next. He knew he’d end up sleeping in front of Ozu’s place simply so he could be there bright and early for the next batch of papers. But he didn’t feel like hanging around there now. Maybe someone would be generous and throw him a couple of scraps. Maybe he could find some scraps in the garbage.

A part of him wanted to cry but he didn’t. He couldn’t cry, couldn’t let Ozu get to him.

“Hey now, why are you lookin’ so down in the dumps?” he suddenly heard someone say. At first, Shiki wasn’t sure if this was directed towards him. It wasn’t until he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him that he realized he was indeed being spoken to. The man was wearing a light blue fedora, a white collar shirt with the sleeves rolled up, brown pants, and red suspenders. He also had a stuffed long eared rabbit that he held by its ears. Shiki didn’t say anything, too timid to do so, but the sudden growl his stomach made said it all. The man smiled. “You’re lucky you caught me in a good mood,” the man said.

He then flipped a couple of yuans in the air, towards Shiki. Caught off guard, Shiki desperately tried to catch them as if his life depended on it. He caught them and stared at the shiny coins in disbelief.

“See ya around,” the man said as he started to walk off.

“Th—thank you,” Shiki said in disbelief as he turned to face the leaving man.

“Don’t mention it.” With his back turned to Shiki, he waved him off before eventually disappearing down a side street.

* * *

The pro-bending matches had already started. Or, at least, Lei guessed they had started due to the cheering and screaming coming from the arena. She and Kato circled the building, making sure everyone was in place for when the culprits would exit the building.

“You know, I’m beginning to wish we’d been placed inside the arena,” Kato remarked as he heard the cheering fans, looking longingly at the arena.

“We’re here to work,” Lei replied. Kato rolled his eyes at her.

“Funny, you don’t look it,” he retorted. And this was true: neither of them was in their uniforms. They were supposed to be under cover after all. Lei’s short bob was ever present and was surprisingly down for once. It was strange but she felt absolutely ridiculous with her hair down. So she felt the need to glare at Kato as if it were his fault she was stuck in such a state. But Kato merely ignored it. “I hope no one’s watching us. They’d think we were complete idiots walking around the arena like this.” He then rubbed a hand through his light colored hair.

“I doubt anyone’s paying attention,” Lei said. The two didn’t say anything after that. Not until one of the officers from inside the building came out to talk with them.

“Lieutenant Sho sent me. We’ve seen the exchange happen. Look for a man with a scar over his right eye wearing a deep red suit,” the officer said.

“Got it.” And so, the two set to work informing everyone what they had learned. Now they just needed to wait. Wait for the man with the scar to come out. They could do this. It shouldn’t be difficult.

It seemed as though they were waiting for an eternity. The minutes dragged. The matches dragged. Even Kato was beginning to grow impatient. Though Lei felt as though this was mostly due to the fact he thought the mission was interrupting his social life.

Finally, the matches were over. Of course they’d wait for the matches to end so they could leave with the most traffic. It’d be harder to spot them now. But they would catch them. Both Lei and Kato scanned the area like hawks. Each took a side as they searched desperately for the man with the scar.

“There he is,” Kato said lowly as he nodded towards someone. Lei immediately turned towards him, following the direction he was looking in. Sure enough, there he was: a man with a deep red suit and a scar over his right eye. He was with two other men but Lei didn’t find this very important. What she really focused on was the brown paper bag clasped in his hands as he walked towards a cab.

“Let’s move in.”

They walked calmly but briskly. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see other officers were moving in as well but they were keeping their distance. They were now opening the door to the cab.

“Excuse me there,” Kato said as he took hold of the door. “But, do you mind if we have a look inside your bag?” His approach was that of a friend rather than enemy. Kato was always the ‘good’ cop of their partnership. The men eyed Kato and Lei suspiciously before looking at one another.

“Hey pal, get lost,” the man with the scar replied.

“Woah, take it easy there,” Kato remarked, holding his hands up in the air. Lei rolled her eyes: she had had enough of this. With a swift motion, she flipped open her badge for the three to see.

“We’ll say it again: let us look in your bag sir.” She was expecting some sort of fight, perhaps even a chase. But the man just smirked.

“Sure,” he said smugly. Now skeptical, Lei took the bag from the man and opened it up.

It was just some dumplings.

“Can I go now officers? Or, are you going to arrest me for bringing a little snack?” He smirked, almost laughed at them. His two cronies grinned as well and they managed to let out a small laugh of victory. Lei looked at them, her expression hard despite the fact she was completely embarrassed at the moment. Reluctantly, she handed them the bag.

“Get out of here,” Lei said irritably.

“Well excuse me,” the man scoffed before entering the cab with his two pals and slamming the door on them.

“Damn it!” Lei grimaced as the cab drove away. Although he didn’t say anything, it was clear Kato wasn’t too pleased by the way things had turned out either. But he was always the type that kept his anger quiet. The two couldn’t help but to watch as the car continued to drive away before it was eventually completely out of sight. Even after the cab had left, they still checked the perimeter, just in case. But nothing turned up.

* * *

Taho was sitting impatiently in his chair as the pro-bending matches continued. The person in front of him was out of their seat. Must have been a favorite team of theirs. Either way, it was a good excuse to rock the seat in front of him out of impatience. With his toothpick on the edge of his mouth, he took a glance towards the right of him. There were two men nearby. Feds. They were undercover but he knew a fed when he saw one. Taho then looked towards Capac who was a few rows away. Capac gave a nod: an exaggerated one, one the feds could easily see. But it would still appear subtle to the untrained eye.

Capac made a gesture to another one of the gang as the signal continued. The other guy was sitting with one of the Triads: a guy in a deep red suit with a scar over his right eye. But Taho stopped paying attention at that point. His job was done. He knew Capac was probably leaving at this point. On one hand, he knew there was a chance the cops would give him a hard time if he left with the Triads. But his team hadn’t played yet and there was one thousand yuans riding on this one.

And it was a gamble too. Everyone placed bets on the Wolfbats for this current match. But there was no money to be made with these guys. Which was why Taho bet on the next match.

The crowd was up in an uproar. Apparently, the Wolfbats had won. What a surprise. Out of the corner of his eye, Taho saw one of the coppers moving out of the arena. No doubt to tell his fellow officers that the exchange had taken place. Taho couldn’t help but to smirk at this.

“Bunch of chumps,” he said. Finally, his match was up. He stood up in his chair now as the two teams took their positions.

“Introducing the Xiao Yao Zebra Frogs!” the announcer in the center of the ring called through his microphone. Immediately, a bunch of people began to cheer as the team came forward. Taho wasn’t one of them. The other team was now approaching the ring. “Introducing, the Fire Ferrets!” There were cheers but not nearly as many as there had been for the Zebra Frogs.

The two teams faced one another in the center of the ring, taking their positions, waiting for the bell to sound and the match to begin. Taho leaned over the edge of his seat, waiting anxiously for the bell to go off. When it did, his heart leaped at the sound.

“Come on Fire Ferrets!” Taho said as he watched his team immediately take on the offensive. The waterbender was a little off (at least, Taho felt he could easily take him in a fight) but the earthbender and firebender were what he was betting his money on. They had now pushed the opposing team into zone two. “Yes, yes.”

Taho looked over towards the cops who despite the fact they were supposed to be working seemed to be enjoying the match as well. Suddenly, the bell sounded and that was the end of round one. Taho looked back at the arena and the Fire Ferrets had nabbed the first round. But it was clear right from the beginning that they wouldn’t nab the second: the Zebra Frogs had completely altered their strategy by targeting the weakest link of the group. In less than a minute, the waterbender was knocked out. “No, no!” Taho remarked in desperation. ****, they needed to adjust!

But they couldn’t adjust. Not in time anyway. The Zebra Frogs took the second round. Of course it would come down to the final round. Now standing, Taho watched as the third match began. He watched as the Fire Ferrets seemed to have some sort of plan. He wasn’t sure what it was but they definitely appeared to be planning something as they weren’t as offensive as they had been before. He only hoped their plan would work.

“Come on baby,” Taho said eagerly. And suddenly, the Zebra Frogs were lined up vertically with the firebender charging them. This immediately caused the three to be pushed back into zone three just as the sound of the bell rang.

“And the Fire Ferrets take the match!” the announcer rang throughout the arena.

“Yes! One thousand yuans baby!” Taho exclaimed as he rubbed his hands through his short brown hair. His heart was pounding rapidly as the sound of their victory rang in his ear. He couldn’t believe it. They had actually won. Man, was this a good day!

Once his adrenaline rush had subsided, Taho left the arena to collect his winnings. Swiper was on the lower level, apparently un-phased by the numerous cops.

“I tell ya, you sure know how to pick ‘em Taho,” Swiper said as he handed him the one thousand big ones.

“Thanks,” Taho replied before heading out. By this time, the attendees were starting to leave, leaving the outside of the arena completely packed. As Taho left, he saw the man in the deep red suit.

“Can I go now officers? Or, are you going to arrest me for bringing a little snack,” he was saying to the two officers whom he couldn’t see. Taho couldn’t help but to snicker at their predicament. Chumps.

The streets were as lively as ever as most people were making their way home. It would be a long walk but Taho didn’t mind. It had been worth it. Before leaving the richer side of town, he stopped in a store to pick up a stuffed long eared rabbit. Carrying it by the ears, Taho continued into the rougher part of the neighborhood. As he walked, Taho suddenly noticed a little boy sniffling in the streets about something.

“Hey now, why are you lookin’ so down in the dumps?” Taho asked as he hovered over the kid. The kid didn’t say anything. But his stomach growled loudly. That said it all. “You’re lucky you caught me in a good mood,” Taho said, smiling. He then flipped the kid a couple of yuans before walking away. “See ya around.”

“Thank you!” he heard the kid call from behind.

“Don’t mention it,” Taho replied, waving the kid off as he left.

Taho finally came to a series of rundown buildings. He climbed up the steps that were crawling with city rats no doubt looking for a snack. All the walls had cracks running along towards the ceiling and down the hall. It was dark and damp to the point where it reminded Taho of a prison rather than an apartment. Towards the end of the hall, he reached for a door that read 221 on the front. The door looked as though it would collapse at any given moment. He turned the rusty doorknob and quietly walked in.

Taho ignored the woman sleeping on the couch who was undoubtedly drunk. Or worse. Instead, he went to the small room on the other side of the apartment. He leaned over the bed and lightly shook whoever was under the torn covers.

“Hey there kiddo,” Taho whispered to the girl that was just waking up. “I got somethin’ for ya.” He then handed her the stuffed long eared rabbit.

“Uncle Taho?” she replied, still waking up. However, when she noticed the toy, she was immediately awake as she hugged it tightly. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome there, kid,” Taho said as he laughed lightly. He placed a hand on her head. “Now go back to sleep.” It didn’t take her long to obey: she immediately rested back in her bed and shut her eyes as she clutched the stuffed animal. Taho watched her for a moment before leaving her room and going to bed.

* * *

In a small apartment where many of the middle-class citizens of Republic City could be found, Airi and Kenji were currently getting ready for bed. They each sat on their own bed and a curtain hanging along a string separated the two. Once Airi was finished, she went to her nightstand and took the script that was currently resting on it.

“Hey Kenji, what do you think Roba and Kiri were thinking when they robbed banks,” Airi asked as she started to read some of the pages.

“Hmm…” Kenji said as he momentarily stopped buttoning his blue and white striped pajamas. “I imagine they experienced a severe adrenaline rush as they ran for their lives! With the police shouting after them, cash falling out of their bags, and having the absolute time of their lives.”

“Wow, I wish I could feel that,” Airi replied as she lay on her back, looking up at the ceiling. Suddenly, a light bulb went off in Kenji’s head.

“Airi!” he exclaimed, suddenly excited. He pushed the curtain that separated the two out of the way, taking a seat on her bed. The shock of this sudden action caused Airi to sit upright. “You just gave me the greatest idea!”
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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Sun May 20, 2012 11:43 pm

Airi and Kenji Get an Idea and Set the Plan in Motion

It was the day after the failed attempt of the exchange. Even still, Lei and Kato hadn’t gotten over it, still couldn’t get past their miserable failure. It wasn’t just about the promotion; they were obligated to protect the city. And they couldn’t even do that. Couldn’t even put obvious criminals behind bars and keep the city safe from at least one menace.

They had found the inside man floating under the pro-bending arena. Ice bullets. Two to the chest and one to the head. He didn’t stand a chance.

Lieutenant Sho was unusually quiet during the day. But no one could really blame him. He had been planning this for months. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, all the work was wasted with a fallen officer to boot.

“We got a robbery over by Triple Threat territory,” Lieutenant Sho told the two. Lei and Kato boarded the airship, not really speaking to one another. They just weren’t in the mood for useless banter.

Turns out a jewelry store had been robbed. Watches, necklaces, diamond rings. You name it, chances are it was stolen.

“Did you happen to get a good look at any of the culprits Mr. Shin?” Lei asked as she took some notes on what and how the objects had been stolen. It was strange: there was as little broken glass as possible as if the culprits were keen on keeping everything intact. Supposedly they had waited for Mr. Shin to open up whatever glass cases he could. Though, there was one broken one.

“No, they were wearing masks. But it was definitely a man and a woman,” Mr. Shin said, still shaken up by the encounter. He stood behind the counter where he had been robbed, as if he were afraid to move from that very spot.

“Did you see either of them bending?” Kato asked. His overall calmer demeanor seemed to calm Mr. Shin. At least, it calmed him a bit. But he still remained where he was, guarding his counter and register. Even though the register was now empty.

“No, no bending,” Mr. Shin answered.

“But they had knives, correct?” Lei pressed.

“Yeah and the man had a sword at his side.” Lei and Kato looked at one another as if trying to figure out if they needed to ask him anymore questions. Eventually, they both turned back to Mr. Shin.

“Okay, we’ll let you know what we find,” Lei said as she shut her notebook and was already preparing to walk out the door.

“If you happen to remember anything else, don’t hesitate to stop by the station,” Kato added. “And don’t worry; we’re going to catch these two.” They left Mr. Shin to his shop as they searched the nearby area for anything useful.

“So, what do you think? Triple Threats?” Kato asked as they inspected a nearby alley.

“Unlikely: they didn’t bend,” Lei answered as she looked around a manhole to see if there were signs of a potential escape route.

“Unless they didn’t want us to think it was Triple Threat.” Unbeknownst to Kato, Lei rolled her eyes. Kato and his conspiracy theories.

“I don’t think so, they’re not that smart.”

“Well, they got us last night,” Kato couldn’t help but to say. They were both silent for a moment.

“Just shut up and help me look for clues,” Lei finally said. It was the Kato realized he had stopped working in the midst of their conversation.

“Oh right, sorry about that.”

* * *
“What is it Kenji?” Airi asked as she looked into Kenji’s eager eyes. His eagerness only made her want to know what his idea was even more.

“We’re going to rob a bank!” Kenji said. “It’s the perfect way for us to get in character! We’ll feel exactly how Roba and Kiri did when they were outlaws!”

“But isn’t that illegal?” Airi asked, a little skeptical about his plan.

“Not if we bring it back,” Kenji insisted. “We’ll rob the bank tomorrow and return it the next day.”

“Well, I guess that’s okay then,” Airi reasoned. “But Kenji, don’t you think robbing a bank is a little too much?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we’re not professional bank robbers. Maybe we should rob something small first and then rob a bank if we want.”

“That’s a brilliant idea Airi!” And here, Kenji was suddenly wrapping his arms around her. “And I know just where to commit our first crime.”

* * *

“Hey Capac, you hear about that robbery by Triple Threat territory?” Taho asked as the two were driving in their blue satomobile. The car ride had been silent for the most part and Taho felt the need to get the conversation going.

“Yeah I heard about it,” Capac answered. However, it was clear that he didn’t really want to talk as he drove, as if he were in some sort of zone that he didn’t want disrupted.

“Who do you think did it?” Taho asked, completely ignoring the signs.

“I don’t know. But whoever it was should be given a goddamn medal. Those Triads are dumb as f***. Bunch of lazy asses who go around flashing anything they can. Man, one of these days their cocky bullshit is going to bite them in the ass.”

Taho wasn’t entirely sure what he ought to say to that so he merely replied with a “Yeah, I guess so.” The rest of the ride was silent as the two made it over towards one of their streets. They parked the car along the side before making their way towards a hat shop.

The bell rang as they entered the shop. At first, the woman behind the counter looked towards the door absentmindedly as she instinctively looked. However, her expression quickly changed to one of fear.

“We already paid you this month,” she said but her speech was erratic.

“Ms. Hatto, we have no doubt you are completely unaware of the situation at hand,” Capac said calmly as he came forward and with each passing step, Ms. Hatto quivered in fear. “But the fact of the matter is, your establishment hasn’t paid in four months.” He reached into the sleeve of his coat and pulled out a small ball of water. “We’ve been very lenient with you but if you don’t pay by the end of the week, we can’t guarantee your protection.”

“You’ll have your money by the end of the week,” Ms. Hatto said quickly and earnestly.

“I’m sorry; perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. This message isn’t for you.”

* * *

“Wow, look at all this stuff!” Airi said as all the things they had stolen were spread out on her bed. They were both looking at all the trinkets as if they were two children that had just discovered buried treasure. “I kind of wish we didn’t have to give it back.”

“Nonsense, my dear, we have to return it,” Kenji said as he was examining some of the pocket watches. “Stealing is wrong after all.”

“I know.” Though, there was still a hint of disappointment in her voice. “Still, I can’t believe we managed to pull it off!”

“It’s amazing, isn’t it? I knew those masks from backstage would come in handy,” Kenji remarked, now focusing all his undivided attention on Airi.

“And those prop weapons came in handy too!” As Airi said this, she began playing with one of the knives. As she pushed the tip of the supposed sharp object, it slid into the handle. “Though, I don’t think we should bring the sword next time. It’s a little old-fashioned.”

“Old-fashioned? Nonsense!” Kenji retorted as he looked over towards the sword leaning against the wall.

“You really didn’t have to break the glass either…”

“I couldn’t help it; it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I couldn’t fight against my impulse.”

“Do you think I could break a glass case next time?” Airi asked, now liking the idea and no longer fiddling with the props.

“Of course! Though, we should probably give them some extra money so they can fix it.” Airi nodded in agreement before continuing to look at the pile of treasure on her bed. And Kenji was quick to follow her example.

* * *

“Hey, you know that robbery you two were working on yesterday?” Satsu, a fellow officer asked when Lei and Kato entered the station.

“Yeah?” Kato asked.

“Well, you’re never going to believe this but I heard the robbers came back and returned everything.”

“What?” Lei interjected, completely astounded by what she was hearing.

“Yeah, and they supposedly left money for the broken glass too.” Lei and Kato looked at one another, confusion apparent on both their faces before they left Satsu to find out exactly what was going on.

Dear Mr. Jewelry Shop Owner
Thanks for letting us rob you.
-R & K

“What the hell?” Lei couldn’t help but to say as she looked at the letter present at Mr. Shin’s shop. It just didn’t make any sense: why would the robbers return to the scene of the crime? Why would they return everything they had stolen? Why would they pay for the broken glass? Were these some kind of psychotic criminals? Did they think this was some kind of game?

“Well, I think you were right about it not being Triads,” Kato said.

* * *

Shiki sat in the park, taking a temporary lunch break from his paper selling. He had managed to sell a decent amount. Enough to keep Ozu happy anyway. Still, if he wanted to make a better impression and make up for what had happened a few days ago, he had to sell more papers.

“Join Amon as we take back the city from benders!” Shiki heard from across the park. He looked to see a man standing on a table with a megaphone in hand. There were posters behind him of a man wearing a mask. Amon, he believed he had heard that name before perhaps even saw it once or twice in the papers. Intrigued, Shiki couldn’t help but to walk over. “You there!” the man suddenly shouted, pointing a finger towards Shiki.

Shiki felt his heart leap and for a split second he wanted to just make a run for it. He didn’t think he did anything wrong but the way this man spoke made it seem like it.

“Are you tired of being oppressed by benders?” the man asked him. Immediately, an image of Ozu flashed across his mind. Judging by the lack of response from Shiki, the man continued. “Are you tired of living off the streets with your only hope of survival being to sell papers?” It was as if this man knew everything about Shiki, knew all his troubles and the causes of them.

“Uh…yeah I guess so,” Shiki managed to finally get out.

“Then take action!” the man replied. He then handed Shiki a series of flyers. “Join the Revelation at 9 o’clock tonight.”

It was then that Shiki noticed a decent amount of people were looking at him. Not wanting this kind of attention, he simply nodded towards the man before leaving. When he was a good distance away, he looked down at one of the flyers he had been given. The Revelation, huh?
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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Sat May 26, 2012 9:23 pm

There’s a Guy Wearing a Mask and We’re Pretty Sure He’s Not Friendly

“All right now, don’t do anything stupid and nobody gets hurt,” Kenji, who was wearing a mask and a suit, told the banker. In his hand was a knife that was aimed towards the throat of the sniveling banker.

“Give us whatever money you have,” Airi added. She was wearing an identical mask and suit. Only she carried a set of nunchunks.

“Okay, okay,” the banker said nervously as he turned around to reach where the money was. Kenji jumped over the counter and followed him, knife still in hand.

“Hey, there’s not really any glass cases here,” Airi said as she looked around the bank which was pretty much deserted save for two customers who were cowering in fear. Her eyes then set on a glass vase. The banker placed the money in the bag Kenji now held out.

“That’s all I’ve got,” the banker said, still nervous, worrying that perhaps this wasn’t enough money to satisfy the robbers.

“It’s fine,” Kenji replied before sliding over the counter again. His once threatening demeanor seemed to have vanished. Suddenly, a loud crash caused the banker to jump. Kenji looked over and saw Airi now standing by the vase which was now broken on the floor.

“There wasn’t a case so I broke a vase!” Airi said excitedly, clearly enjoying the fact she had broken something.

“Excellent work darling,” Kenji replied as he walked towards her, grabbing her arm. “Now, don’t even think about calling the cops,” he added, addressing the banker. Leading the way, the two bolted for the door and ran down the street, hearts pounding, the adrenaline seeping through them, and a few yuans falling in the street.

“Stop them! Thieves!” they heard someone calling from behind as they removed their masks. They didn’t stop running. On the contrary, they only ran faster, nearly running out of breath in the process. They took a sharp turn down an alley and Kenji shoved the masks in the bag before walking at a regular pace. Airi did the same, the two suddenly walking hand in hand as they tried not to show they were positively exhausted.

A few people came running from where they had been as they searched for the robbers. But they clearly couldn’t find the supposed criminals and so turned back. Before their pursuers had time to change their minds and possibly continue the chase, Airi and Kenji got into a cab and drove away.

“Airi, my dear, this calls for a celebration!” Kenji exclaimed as they were now walking through the park together. He held the bag of money to his side but both their attitudes were never draw any sort of suspicion.

“I’ll say!” Airi replied. They were now walking towards one of the many fountains throughout the park. As soon as they were directly in front of it, Kenji stopped, clasping Airi’s hands in his own as best he could.

“Airi, after committing two successful robberies and experiencing the thrill of a lifetime, will you marry me?” Kenji asked.

“Absolutely not,” Airi replied, smiling.

“Don’t allow benders to oppress you!” someone was shouting on the other side of the fountain through a megaphone. Together, Airi and Kenji looked over towards the man standing on a table. They hadn’t really been listening to what he had said but the fact that there was a man with a megaphone had gained their attention enough. “Join Amon!” Curiously, the two walked towards the man.

“What’s this for?” Kenji asked.

“We are seeking non-benders to join us in the fight with Amon,” the man said, no longer speaking through the megaphone. But it was clear he was excited that he had wrangled interested people.

“I’m not a bender,” Kenji answered. “But I’m not much of a fighter.” Please by Kenji’s response, the man was suddenly handing Kenji a bunch of flyers. He then looked towards Airi and did the same.

“You don’t have to be a fighter to be a part of the war against benders.”

“Hey now, wait a minute, why would I want to go against benders?”

“Because benders are idolized and oppress those that are weaker!” Here, Kenji was frowning.

“Sorry, but the greatest woman I know is a bender,” Kenji said as he started leading Airi away. “But thanks for the flyers.” He waved the flyers before completely turning his back towards the man. “Can you believe the nerve of that guy?” When he was far enough away from the man, he then threw the flyers in the trash, as if disgusted by the fact he was even holding them.

“Hey Kenji, I think we should got to this Revelation thing,” Airi said as she was inspecting the flyers.

“What?! How can you say that?” Kenji asked, stopping to look at her.

“Well, Roba and Kiri didn’t like benders either, right? So, this could be a good way to find out why they didn’t like benders!” Kenji thought about this for a moment before smiling.

“Airi, that’s an amazing idea!” Kenji exclaimed. “You’re the greatest!”

* * *

Lei was sitting at the table in her apartment, intently focused on some reports that were spread out for her to clearly see everything at once. Kato came out from the other room, dressed in a rather nice looking green jacket and brown pants.

“Aren’t you going to help me with this?” Lei asked as she looked him over from head to toe. There had been another robbery by the mysterious duo: this time a small bank. Though no note had been left yet, the witness matched the description of the robbers perfectly. She had no doubt there would be a note left tomorrow.

“Can’t sis, I’ve got a hot date tonight,” Kato replied, smirking as he leaned on the wall. Lei rolled her eyes at his comment.

“Which one is it again?” she asked. Here, Kato frowned.

“I haven’t been in that many relationships,” Kato replied, clearly annoyed.

“Is it the one that works in the tea shop or the reporter?” Lei continued, smiling a little in triumph. “Or, have you moved on since then?”

“Her name is Kiki.” Kato then moved closer towards the table, looking over the papers and what Lei was doing. “You know what you’re problem is Lei? You are a stick in the mud.”

“I am not!” Lei snapped defensively, nearly getting out of her seat in the process.

“Oh, yes you are,” Kato teased, now enjoying his own triumph. “Tell me Lei, when was the last time you went out on a date? Or, how about your last boyfriend?” The corner of Lei’s mouth twitched in agitation as Kato spoke and she looked as though she were about to strangle him. “Yeah, I thought so.” When it was clear Lei wouldn’t say anything in retort, Kato then walked over towards the door. “Well, I’m going to go. I shouldn’t be too long. Try not to have too much fun without me.” He gave one last smirk before closing the door, leaving Lei alone.

As soon as he was gone, Lei groaned in frustration, nearly shoving her papers off the table. Stupid Kato and his stupid date. She was not a stick in the mud! She was merely a dedicated officer, one that put the needs of the city above her own. Besides, she was absolutely and positively convinced that she would never marry anyway much less be in any sort of serious relationship. Still, she looked at the papers on the table and towards her room. Damn that Kato.

* * *

It was late as Shiki roamed the streets of Republic City in his attempt to get back to Ozu. However, it was taking a lot longer to get there than usual. He was simply too preoccupied with his thoughts to make sure he got there before Ozu had a fit.

The Revelation. Equalists. Amon. He had seen a mass number of people all crowding together because they shared one thing in common: they hated benders. Shiki wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about all that. After all, he didn’t hate benders. Not really. He just hated Ozu. Yet, he was forced to remain dependent on him because he was the only one who could possibly help him in his survival. In short, he was stuck with the man. Until he was old enough to find another, better job. If he could.

But he didn’t hate benders. And yet, he hadn’t been afraid when he saw Lighting Bolt Zolt humiliated and defeated by Amon, a non-bender. In the blink of an eye. He hadn’t been afraid as he watched Amon place his thumb on Zolt’s head causing Zolt’s bending to gradually diminish into nothing. And he hadn’t been afraid when he saw Zolt’s cronies follow the same fate. In fact, a part of him had enjoyed it.

But he didn’t hate benders. All he really wanted was for Amon to take away Ozu’s bending. Maybe then he wouldn’t be such a jerk anymore. Maybe then he’d actually take care of Shiki and the rest properly. He could only hope.
He wished there was a way to contact Amon, to give him a request list on who he felt should lose their bending.

Aside from the gangs, Ozu would be at the top of his list. And maybe some of the metalbending cops he saw harassing innocent bystanders. Or, at least, he always thought they were innocent.

Ozu was waiting by the front door. ****. If he was waiting inside, it usually meant he could care less where you’d been. But he was waiting outside, waiting for him. Not good.

“So, where’ve you been?” Ozu asked as Shiki came closer.

“No—nowhere,” Shiki answered. It was a stupid answer and he knew it. But what choice did he have?

“Must have sold a lot of papers today,” he remarked as he eyed Shiki suspiciously. Shiki didn’t look directly at him but that didn’t stop him from feeling the intensity of his gaze. Quickly, frantically, Shiki clumsily dove into his pocket as he fumbled for his earnings.

“Yeah I did.” There was a hint of eagerness in his voice as he finally found the yuans. All hundred of them. With a swipe of his hand, Ozu grabbed the money from Shiki, counting it. Although it was hard to tell, he could see Ozu seemed pleased with the earnings.

“Not bad,” Ozu replied. “Now, where’s the rest of it?” He held out his hand for more money. Money Shiki didn’t have.

“Th—that’s all I have,” Shiki said, unsure what to do at this point.

“Liar!” Ozu suddenly shouted and if he hadn’t had money in his hands, Shiki was sure flames would be all over the place. “You can’t tell me you’ve been out this late and haven’t spent a goddamn yuan.”

“I didn’t!” Shiki protested, surprised at himself for how loud he was.

“You did so, stop lying.” He shoved the yuans in his pocket and forcefully grabbed Shiki’s arm. “And you know what we do to little thieves like you!” Shiki could feel the intense heat starting to come from Ozu’s other hand.

“I went to the Revelation to see Amon!” Shiki shouted desperately, hoping this would somehow get Ozu to stop. Luckily, it did.

“What?” It was clear Ozu was more annoyed than anything as a hint of disbelief was present in his voice.

“There’s a war coming, a war that’s going to get rid of all benders like you!” Shiki spat as he freed his arm from Ozu’s clutches. “Amon’s going to take away your bending for good! I saw him do it to Lightning Bolt Zolt!”

Ozu didn’t say anything but his brows were furrowed as he stared hard at Shiki. Without warning, he came closer to him and pushed him away. Hard.

“Get out of here,” Ozu growled. At first, Shiki didn’t move. Didn’t know what to say. “You heard me! Get out! I never want to see your face around here again!” His voice became angrier and all the more intense with each sentence. Shiki turned and ran, ran as fast as he could. But there was also another thing present in Ozu’s voice, one that made Shiki feel overpowering. Fear.

* * *

Kato walked with Kiki, arm in arm as they approached the Cabbage Club. Owned by the prestigious Cabbage Corporation, the Cabbage Club was the one of the most popular joints in town. With the biggest dance floor and best musicians lining up the entertainment every night, anyone who was anyone worth something was found at the Cabbage Club. And even those that weren’t came in as well. It was one of those places where people looking for a good time could easily find one. Especially if they had a date with them.

The room was large with the tables laid out as soon as a guest walked in. Towards the back of the club was the infamous dance floor followed by the stage where the Lion-Turtle Shu was currently playing in a white suit while the rest of the musicians were in black. From the golden ceiling hung a series of grand chandeliers made from the finest cut glass. While the balconies and floor matched the color of the ceiling, the tables and chairs were a light and dark green.

Kato and Kiki took their seats on the ground level, picking a table for four. It was a double date tonight with some friends of the family. Nine times out of ten though they were late; in fact, Kato couldn’t a recall an instance when they arrived on time. But that was never an issue as it always gave him some alone time with Kiki. Or whoever his date was.

“Flameo Hotman!” a voice called from behind the two.

“Flameo Daddy-O,” another voice followed. Kato didn’t need to turn around to know who it was.

“Hey there Kenji, Airi,” Kato replied cheerfully. As usual, the two were wearing the proper attire: suit for Kenji and a dress for Airi. However, it was clear to anyone that these were most likely clothes taken from the costumes of a play rather than actually being clothes worn on the everyday streets. But Kato never minded nor complained. The two took a seat next to them.

“So how have you two been?” Kenji asked as he leaned his elbow on the table. “It’s been ages since we got together.”

“Well, we’ve been trying to compile as much information as possible on the Avatar for an article in the paper at the end of the week,” Kiki said and it was quite clear that although she didn’t want to boast about it in any way, she was definitely proud of this accomplishment.

“You don’t say,” Airi replied.

“We’ll definitely pick up a copy of that paper,” Kenji added. A waiter was now coming over and pouring drinks for both Kenji and Airi.

“So what about you? Have you gotten that promotion yet?” Airi asked Kato.

“Unfortunately no,” Kato answered. “But me and Lei got the weirdest case this week. Turns out some couple is robbing people and then returning whatever they stole the next day. They robbed a bank this morning.”

“Oh wow,” Airi replied.

“You don’t say,” Kenji added.

“Do you think we should do an article about them?” Kiki inquired.

“Sorry, but we’ve got to get the Chief’s permission first. And, they’re just petty criminals, I’m sure they’ll get bored soon. Or caught. And then you can put that in the paper.”

* * *

With his hands behind the back of his head, Taho was roaming the Republic City streets once again. The Red Monsoons had been gathering for a turf war with the Agni Kais and the Triple Threats. Supposedly the duo that robbed the jewelry store had also robbed a bank in Triple Threat territory. The Triple Threats were up in arms, accusing either the Red Monsoons or the Agni Kais of the incident. Which of course was completely ridiculous.
But it’s not like the reasons of the turf war or the turf war even mattered anymore. Because the Triple Threats were missing. At least, their main crew was gone. Including Lightning Bolt Zolt. They’d gone missing the night before. Which meant there wasn’t going to be a turf war tonight.

So Taho took the time to enjoy himself a little by exploring the higher end of Republic City. There were some nifty places to explore. And, who knows? Maybe he’d find something Dakota would enjoy. At the corner of the next block was a drugstore. He figured maybe he’d go in and try their ice cream sodas. If it was any good, he’d get one for Dakota on the way back. Seemed like a good plan. So he waltzed into the drugstore as though he owned the place. Because when you’re going into any sort of store on the high end of town, you better act like you belong there. If you don’t, they’ll watch you like a hawk, treat you like a criminal.

Taho sat at the counter on a stool. It swerved as he sat and he rested both arms on the counter. One of his hands held five yuans which he allowed to spread on the counter.

“Hey buddy, get me an ice cream soda,” Taho said to the soda jerk behind the counter. The young kid nodded as he quickly went to fix the drink. As he waited, Taho looked around to see what sort of crowd was in this place. For the most part, it was pretty empty. He guessed a lot of people were out dancing at the night clubs. But there was a woman sitting at the counter as well just a few seats away from him. She was all dressed up as if she had planned to join the parties at the night clubs. But her expression said otherwise. It was clear to anyone she was completely agitated about something so much so that Taho wouldn’t be surprised if she was driving customers away. “Hey, what’s a gal like you doin’ in a place like this?” Taho asked.

“Excuse me?” the woman returned, appearing to be completely and utterly offended by his remarks.

“Well, what I meant was, you look like you should be having a good time at the Cabbage Club or somethin’.” The woman’s gaze shifted a bit as if confirming that this was, indeed, what she had originally intended to do. The soda jerk now place his ice cream soda on the counter to which Taho took a sip. But he kept his eyes on the woman.

“I’m not much of a party person,” she confessed, a hint of embarrassment present in her voice.

“What? A gorgeous gal like you? You just don’t know how to get in with the crowd.” The woman stared at him as if she didn’t know what to make of him. As if she wasn’t sure if he was being serious, merely flirting, had some ulterior motive, or a combination of everything. “Tell ya what? I’m taking you out on the town tonight.” No longer interested in the ice cream soda, Taho left it on the counter as he got up to approach the woman.

“You sure? I mean, you don’t want to finish your drink first? You paid for it,” she replied.

“Eh, it’s fine. It wasn’t that good anyway.” Here, the soda jerk frowned in offense. But Taho ignored him. “The name’s Taho.”

“I’m Lei.”

“Well, Lei, are we gonna have fun tonight! Come on.” Without another word, he took her hand and led her out of the drugstore.

* * *

“Oh Airi!” Kenji exclaimed as tears were running down his face, his arms tightly wrapped around Airi as they sat behind one of the many empty warehouses, leaning against a wall.

“Oh Kenji!” she returned, equally upset, holding him just as tight.

“That was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” Kenji continued, his obnoxious tears flowing quicker than ever before.

“Mine too!” Airi tried to get out between sniffles.

And here, they both started to sob. Their grips around one another became tighter to the point where it was becoming difficult for both of them to breath. But they still continued to hold one another in their overly dramatic fashion. It took them a few minutes before they finally calmed down enough to speak again.

“Airi, I’ll never let Amon take away your bending!” Kenji finally said.

“And I’ll never let Amon take your bending either!” Airi replied.

“I’m not a bender but I appreciate it anyway!”

They then started to cry once again. They probably would have continued in a similar fashion as before if a rat hadn’t scurried past both their feet.

“A rat!” Airi couldn’t help but to exclaim in alarm. Normally, she wasn’t bothered by such things but because she was currently emotionally traumatized any little thing would have scared her. Quickly, the two both stood up together. However, they continued to hold one another, still leaning against the wall. Luckily, the rat had actually calmed them both down to the point where neither of them was crying. Kenji sighed as he stared forward, not looking at anything in particular. He was no longer holding Airi and the same was true for Airi.

“Well, at least the pro-bending tournament is coming up…” Airi said a little hopefully. This snapped Kenji out of his daze as he now stared at her. She then smiled, her enthusiastic nature now returning. “And you know what that means!” A wide grin spread across Kenji’s face.

“Grandma and Grandpa are coming!” Kenji exclaimed at the top of his lungs.

“Yup!” Kenji then held onto Airi again in a tight embrace. But it was one of complete and utter happiness rather than fear.
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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:03 pm

Lost My Heart in Republic City

“You listen here Airi, and you listen good,” Airi’s grandmother was saying as they sat in the living room together. It was another of just one of the many visits Airi made during the week. Airi sat on the floor as she moved one of the pieces on the Go board that was resting on a table between the two. “You shouldn’t be here anymore.”

“What do you mean?” Airi asked.

“You’re a young woman now. You shouldn’t be cooped up here,” her grandmother said. Her tone was no longer a lecturing one but rather one filled with concern. “When I was your age, I had already been around the world. You need to start making your own life and having your own adventures.” By now, Airi looked as though she was completely horrified by the idea.

“But I don’t want to leave,” Airi protested. And by leave, she meant she didn’t want to leave the small town, didn’t want to leave her parents. And certainly not her grandparents. She then looked towards her grandfather, who was sitting in a chair across from them reading, hoping that he would come to her rescue.

“Sorry Airi, but I agree,” her grandfather said. “We’re only preventing you from achieving your true potential.”

“Exactly,” her grandmother said as she finally made her move on the Go board. “You know, you should go to Republic City. They have some really good theaters there…and studios.” However, even the mention of a theater and a film studio didn’t seem to phase Airi’s decision. Her grandmother and grandfather looked at one another before her grandmother finally sighed. “All right, I didn’t want to have to do this but you leave me no choice. Airi: get out.”

“What!?” Airi exclaimed.

“You heard me, get out,” her grandmother said, pointing towards the door. “We’re kicking you out of the house so you’ll have no choice but to go and have your own life.”

“Honey, you know she can just go home,” her grandfather said in a rather condescending tone.

“Stop ruining my plan!” her grandmother exclaimed to which her grandfather rolled his eyes. “Now go.” At first, Airi was not entirely sure what to do as she looked from both her grandparents to the door then back to her grandparents. They couldn’t possibly be serious. However, the look on her grandmother’s face suggested otherwise. Slowly, Airi got to her feet and started walking towards the door. “Make sure you take my name when you go to the city,” her grandmother called from behind her. “And call us as soon as you get there. We’ll come and visit you once you settle.”

“And don’t get infatuated with anyone. It runs in the family,” her grandfather added.

And that was it. She was now thrown into a city. But not just any city: Republic City. The biggest city in the world. And she couldn’t help but to feel completely and utterly overwhelmed.

As soon as Airi stepped off a trolley, she was immediately almost hit by a passing bike, just barely able to hold on to her small suitcase and large black hat. Still in the street, she looked down at her paper with the address of the theater she was supposed to go to. She jumped at the sound of satomobile horns honking at her and quickly ran to the sidewalk. Once she was out of harm’s way, she looked down at the paper again then back up to try and figure out where she was.

Airi wasn’t sure if she had the right street address but there was a building near her with the right number on it. She walked towards it, figuring even if it was the wrong street; perhaps whoever was there could help her. Just as she was about to knock on the door, a man came out.

“Well hi there!” the man said, his tone overly enthusiastic. He looked at her from the black high heels to the matching black dress suit with a pink blouse underneath and all the way to the large black hat with pink ribbon tied around it. His gaze was short, so short she barely had time to do the same and register the rolled up white cuffed shirt, suspenders, black pants, and burgundy satin bow tie.

“Um, hi,” Airi replied a bit timidly. “I was wondering if this was the Megaplex Theater.”

“Why, it certainly is,” he answered as he pointed to a small, faded sign above them that clearly stated Megaplex Theater. Airi felt her face turn a bit red at her stupidity. “Though the box office doesn’t open until six…you’re a little early I’m afraid.”

“Well, actually…my name’s Airi Kunisaki and I was told to come here—“ However, as soon as she had mentioned her name, this man’s expression suddenly changed. Her words faltered the entire time and she cursed herself for this. She was normally never this way: in fact she was quite the opposite. But she supposed the fact she was in unknown territory was what warranted her unusual behavior.

“Hey, you’re not related to the playwright Kunisaki are you?” he asked. He was now incredibly close to her. A little too close. He stared directly at her as if he might find the family resemblance he was searching for. But he smiled the entire time as if he were a school boy.

“She’s my grandmother.”

“Wow, really? Oh, I get it! You’re looking for a job!” Airi merely nodded. “Well, in that case, come on in,” he said as he grabbed her wrist and practically dragged her inside. It didn’t take her long to figure out that she had been standing in front of the backstage exit (it certainly explained the condition of the sign out front). “You can put your bags here for now.” The man pointed towards the floor by the exit as he continued walking. Airi put her things down before following him. Although backstage was where all the set pieces and costumes were currently laid out, Airi couldn’t help but to find herself gravitating towards the bare stage. The man didn’t seem to mind. Their footsteps echoed loudly throughout the theater. “My name’s Kenji by the way. Just Kenji.” Airi merely nodded to acknowledge she had heard him. He didn’t need to explain any further. She knew what he had meant, why he didn’t have a last name. “Hey, you’re new in town then, right? Let me show you around.” Here, Airi was taken aback by his offer and started to protest. “And I won’t take no for an answer.”

And just like that, she was whisked away and taken into the depths of the city regardless of whatever previous plans Kenji might have had. They went to Aang Memorial Island first and Kenji actually criticized her for not going there yet. He took her to City Hall just for the sake of going. There was Central City Station. Police Headquarters (in case she should ever need to go there). Downtown with all the various restaurants, shops, venders, etc. featuring cultures from around the world. The massive Pro-Bending Arena. A tower that was merely a tourist attraction and yet it appeared as though you could see the entire city from there. Kenji promised to take her there again when it was fully lit up. And finally, he took her to the park, the lovely park that seemed to take Airi’s breath away. But that was probably because it was the first large plot of grass and shrubbery she had seen since arriving in the city.

“So how do you like the city Airi?” Kenji was asking as they walked along one of the park’s many paths.

“It’s a lot nicer than I thought it would be.” Airi stopped for a moment to look at the fountain they were now passing. There certainly were a lot of fountains in this park. Then again, the park was enormous.

“Well of course it’s nice! Republic City has a lot to offer,” Kenji replied, leaning on the rim of the fountain. Airi then threw a yuan in the fountain to which Kenji smiled. The sort of smile that was given to a clear tourist. “Hey Airi, will you marry me?”

“What?!” Airi immediately turned towards Kenji, taken aback by his question. He couldn’t be serious. And yet, the expression on his face gave nothing away.

“You heard me, will you marry me?” The way he said it, it was so, so simple. And he was smiling. As if he were asking the most insignificant question in the world!

“Of course not, we’ve only just met this morning,” Airi replied, not really knowing how else she could even respond to this.

“So?” He was no longer leaning on the edge of the fountain, looking at her as if he were the completely sane one in this conversation.

“So how do you know you want to marry me when you’ve only known me for a few hours?”

“Because you’re smart, pretty, kind, and I fell in love with you when I first saw you.” The way he said it was so passionate, Airi couldn’t help but to believe his every word. Yet, she was still utterly shocked and therefore had no idea what to even say. “You seem a bit held back though. But that will wear off when you get used to the city.” Airi felt her face turning red. The way he had continued was as if he took her silence to mean she had given him a ‘yes’ even though she hadn’t said anything at all.

“Kenji, I really appreciate what you’ve done but I won’t marry you,” Airi finally said coolly. She needed to put her foot down, remembering what grandfather had said.

“Okay then,” Kenji replied as he shrugged. As if it were no big deal.

“Okay?” She couldn’t believe he had taken her refusal so well.

“I respect you. But know this Airi Kunisaki: I’m not going to leave your side until you say ‘yes’.” Again, the amount of energy he possessed while saying this was unbelievable. And yet, it reminded Airi so much of her own. Still, she didn’t know what to say to his comment. The idea of him always being by her side seemed a little strange.

“Well what about when we go to sleep at night? You’ll have to be away from me then.”

“Oh really? And where are you living?” Airi went to say something before shutting her mouth. She had no place to stay and it had only taken until just now to realize this. A childish smirk immediately appeared on Kenji’s face. “You can stay with me if you want. I have a spare bed. It’s supposed to be for two people anyway. But it’s only one bedroom.”

“No.” For the first time, Airi’s voice was flat, lacking the high pitch tone her voice usually possessed.

“I can put a curtain up between the beds,” Kenji offered as if he were begging for this opportunity to become a reality. He looked hurt just at the thought of not being able to have her stay. “Look, you need a place to stay and I’ve got an extra bed. Just for tonight.” The look in his gray eyes. It was nearly impossible to refuse.

“Well…okay. But just for tonight.”

* * *

“Grandma Ai!” Kenji exclaimed as Airi’s grandparents stepped out of the cab. He immediately ran over towards her, lifting her up a few inches and hugging her tightly as if she were his own grandmother. If it wasn’t for her long silver hair that was loosely tied in the back and wrinkles, Airi’s grandmother could have been mistaken for a child. She certainly wasn’t far from being the height of one.

“Hello Kenji,” Ai replied, appearing indifferent to Kenji’s actions. Instead, she let him hug her as tightly as he pleased and for as long as he wanted. She hugged him back though it was a little hard to do considering the grip he currently had on her. “So what have you two been up to since we last visited?” she finally asked when Kenji finally let her go.

“We’ve been robbing banks Grandma!” Airi exclaimed.

“And then we return what we stole!” Kenji added, just as excited as Airi.

“Oh…I see.” That was all she said at first, as if she wasn’t sure what to make of what they were telling her. “Well I guess there’s no harm done so long as you return it.” There was uncertainty in her voice. “Just don’t tell your Grandfather.”

“We would never do anything to upset Grandpa Ryuzaki,” Kenji said. He spoke lowly as if he didn’t want Ryuzaki to hear him even though he had been shouting a few minutes before. It was then Kenji thought to look for him and saw he was currently attempting to get two small suitcases out of the back of the cab. Kenji rushed over to help.

“Well, it’s about time,” Ryuzaki said bluntly as he handed the suitcases over to Kenji.

“And how have you been Grandpa Ryuzaki?” Kenji asked, smiling just as he had with Ai. He would have hugged him too had he not been carrying cases.

“Fine, just fine. How’s your movie going?”

“It’s going great!” Before Kenji could begin to ramble about their new project, Airi came towards the two.

“Hey Grandpa.” Her voice was gentle as she wrapped her arms around him. She held onto him tightly but not too tight like Kenji might have done. It was strange how frail his body seemed compared to the last time she had been with him.

“Hey there, kiddo,” he replied; his chin rested on the top of her head as his one arm wrapped around her. Reluctantly, Airi let go of him. However, almost immediately after letting go, she felt a hand on her shoulder. Looking up, Kenji held the one suitcase in his hand while the other was leaning against his body and arm allowing his free hand to rest on her shoulder. Her grandmother joined them, locking arms with her grandfather.

“Okay now, let’s go on that double date with my three favorite people!” Kenji exclaimed, leading the two towards where they would drop off their suitcases before touring the city.

* * *

“It’s not the greatest, I’ll admit but it was the only thing I could find on such short notice,” Kato was saying. He and Lei stood in an empty apartment. There were cracks on the ceiling with some mold having formed in one of the corners of the main room. Dust was everywhere and it was clear whoever had the apartment last did not do a very good job cleaning any of the windows or appliances that came with it.

“It’ll have to do,” Lei said as she scrutinized the place. As she continued to stare at the cracks in the ceiling, she walked towards her bedroom. Just as she was about to place her bag down, she noticed the mattress was discolored to the point where there were various yellow blotches all over.

“Yeah…did I mention it was the best thing I could find?” Kato remarked as he followed Lei into the room, looking at the revolting mattress. Lei realized she must have made a face of repulsion as Kato continued. “You know, we could go home and come back when we find a better place.”

“No.” Her voice was sharp. There was no way she was going back home. Not after what they had to do to get here. The arguments with their parents, especially her mother’s protest. Or rather, her mother’s nagging. No, she wasn’t going back there.

“Well good because honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if you had decided to turn back.” Her brother was smiling. She returned the smile. They were in this together and that was it. It may take them a few years but eventually, they’d make it to the top within the police force. Or, at least, as close to the top as they possibly could. After all, they both couldn’t be chief of police.

Lei placed her bag on the bed despite the discoloration. However, immediately upon contact, the bed frame fell apart, slamming into the floor with a large crash. The two looked at one another as the dust from the dirty floor filled the room.

* * *

“And what do you think you’re doing?” Kato asked from behind. Lei spun around upon hearing his voice. She couldn’t help it: it sounded just as it did whenever he had caught her trying to steal her mother’s sweets that she always left on the counter. Only now she was in the police department, still in uniform hovering over the open filing cabinet.

“I’m not doing anything,” Lei replied. But her voice gave it all away. Not like Kato couldn’t tell what she was up to with or without her confession.

“Rule number one of dating Sis: never look to see if your boyfriend has a file.” She gave him a look that indicated she was not dating anyone. But Kato ignored her look. Lei watched as with a swift motion of his hand the metal tray closed without him touching it.

“Don’t be ridiculous: I would never abuse my authority like that.” She felt as though she had to continue even though it was completely useless by this point.

“Right, of course you weren’t.” His grin never ceased as he reprimanded her. Even as she tried to walk away from him, he was still grinning. He threw one of his arms around her as they walked down the hall. “So, Gram and Gramps are in town for the tournament and I was thinking we should all get together tonight. You know, for old time’s sake.”

It was true that their grandparents were in town. They came to visit Republic City every year for the Pro-bending Tournament. It had become a tradition amongst them and their friends to gather for the championship. She had recalled a few times where she and Kato had gone with them and she swore she had never seen elderly people act so enthusiastic. Of course, they would also slander the way bending had ‘progressed’ but that never stopped them from having a good time.

But Lei knew that Kato was not so much interested in the actual reunion with their grandparents. While she had no doubt he would see them and she knew she would pay a visit as well, there was a hidden motive behind his suggestion. She knew he wanted to meet Taho, the young man whom she had met the night she went out. In short, it was all a ploy to see just who his awkward little sister could have possibly found as a date. And this irritated her greatly.

“Sorry, I’ve got plans tonight already,” Lei replied.

“Well cancel them. We only see them once a year after all.” Kato was being awfully persistent. “Or, you could bring your boyfriend along.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Her statement was factual. There was no hint of aggravation, embarrassment, or any sort of emotion than a normal human being would convey in such a situation. And she knew it.

But Kato continued to smile. At first, Lei was confused: she could have sworn she had won this little fight. However, what she didn’t realize was she had stopped in place at this point and her hands were on her hips. Lei glared at Kato.
“All right fine. I’ll talk to him tonight about it and we can go tomorrow. Satisfied?”

“Yup.” And Lei knew he was because Kato walked away, no longer interested in their conversation or what his sister was up to.

“You know, we do have a case we need to work on!” Lei called to him. But Kato continued to walk off. No matter, they’d have to work on it eventually.

* * *

His clothes were torn. His face was dirty. There were bruises on his body from the constant falling over his own feet, the bullying from occasional gangsters, and the orphanage’s reprimanding. Intense pains were consuming his stomach. Normally, he’d place a hand over it in hopes of soothing the hunger pains. But he was too afraid to touch his stomach and feel just how thin he had gotten.

Shiki’s eyelids were beginning to droop out of sheer tiredness. And it was only midmorning. He could barely stand. But he had to find something to eat. Even if he had to pick it out of the garbage. If he could even muster the energy to find a garbage and pick through it for scraps.

But Shiki couldn’t do it. He only took a few steps before he had to lean on the side of a building. He tried to get another step in but in doing so he collapsed on the ground. People walked by. But no one bothered to stop for a boy starving on the streets.

He told himself he had to get up. If he didn’t, someone would take him back to the orphanage. And there was no way he was going back there. He couldn’t go back. He would never go back. Telling himself this, he tried to get up, tried to stand on his two feet again. But his legs gave in, causing him to slide along the wall and back on the sidewalk.
His eyes were closing now. No, he couldn’t go to sleep. Not now. What if he never woke up? Still, he couldn’t fight it anymore. He just couldn’t.

But he did. He forced his eyes open upon feeling a kick at his side. It wasn’t a forceful kick, just one to wake him up. Groggily, Shiki gazed up at a man. He was a large heavy man with a thick black beard and mustache.

“Hey you, you want work to do?” His voice was gruff and his eyes spoke of impatience. Yet, Shiki couldn’t help it: he had to take a few minutes to process what the man was offering. He was just so tired. But the man must have taken his silence as something else as he added, “I’ll give you food and board if you sell papers for me. Sound good?” Weakly, Shiki nodded his head as best he good. But it was so weak, Shiki wouldn’t be surprised if the man didn’t understand he was agreeing to the offer.

But the man did understand because the next thing he knew, Shiki was being lifted off the ground by his arm. Yet, even with someone helping him up, he still couldn’t stand. It was clear the man wasn’t pleased by this and slung Shiki over his shoulder before walking towards his next destination.

* * *

Shiki eyed the streets from behind a wall that led to an alley. He could do this. He had seen countless kids like himself do it before. Pray on unknowing passer buyers. Stealing whatever money they could out of their coat pockets. He had done it once or twice before. But that was a long time ago. Back when he was still living in the orphanage. Before Ozu.

He knew he’d be rusty. So he knew he had to be smart with his pick. Because this was the only way to get food. Unless he wanted to eat out of the trash for the rest of his life. He had to find someone. Someone easy.

Someone like the old man that was currently coming towards him. He walked with a cane. That was all he needed. This guy would be easy. He could do this. Shiki hid himself behind the wall as the man walked passed. The man didn’t see him. Good. Quickly, he followed the man. At first, he was just a few people behind him due to the mass of people they were walking through. But as soon as he got his opening, he ran towards him and made a grab for the pocket of his black coat.

But then something happened Shiki wasn’t expecting: he grabbed his wrist. The old man had actually grabbed his hand. He was caught. For a split second, Shiki had no idea what to do as he locked eyes with the old man. His stare was cold and hard, enough to snap Shiki out of his momentary daze.

Shiki was suddenly pulling his way free, trying desperately to get away. He couldn’t go back. Not to Ozu. Not to the orphanage. He just couldn’t afford that to happen. Shiki groaned in frustration as he continued to pull, still trying to get away.

“Now what do we have here?” the old man said as he looked down at Shiki. But Shiki wasn’t looking back: he was still attempting to get away. But the man’s grip was so damn tight, it was impossible to do so.

“Let me go! Let me go!” Shiki yelled in frustration, still tugging.

“I don’t think so.” The man then started to pull Shiki along but to where he had no idea. Damn this guy was strong. He had clearly underestimated his opponent. “You did just try to steal from me after all.”

“No, don’t take me to the police! Please!” Shiki began to beg. He dug his feet into the pavement, putting his weight as far away from the man as possible in an attempt to keep himself still. But the man was still dragging him forward.

“Why not, you deserve it,” the man replied but his tone was nothing but an empty threat. But Shiki was too preoccupied with his predicament to notice this. He couldn’t notice that the man was clearly now trying to get as much information out of him as possible.

“Please, I’ll do anything!” Shiki continued to beg. He was still being as stubborn as ever as he continued his stance. As if that would work. And yet, suddenly, the man stopped his pulling. But, he still held onto his wrist.

“All right.” The man bent down a little so that he was at eye level with Shiki. “I want you to be my personal assistant while I’m visiting Republic City. You’ll show me around and help do the chores in the motel room I’ve got.” Shiki stared at him for a moment. Like hell he was taking this deal. But this man seemed like a sucker: all he had to do was agree and scram when he got the chance.

“Okay,” Shiki replied. The old man smiled at him.

“Nice try kid,” he said. Shiki’s eyes widened. Did he know this was merely a trick? Damn it, this guy was good. “No, you’re the type of kid that would run as soon as I let you go. So I’ll throw this in to sweeten the deal.” With his free hand, he fished through his coat pocket pulling out a couple of bills. But they looked to be fairly large bills. The kind of money Shiki needed to survive at least a month alone. Maybe more. “You’ll get what you could have stolen from me had you not been so sloppy.”

Damn. It was a good deal. One that would make Shiki a fool if he didn’t take it. Still, he couldn’t help but to be offended by the old man. Had he really been so sloppy? He doubted it. He just picked the wrong target. But this wrong target ended up being a rather good target. If he could, he might just be able to steal from this guy when he wasn’t looking. Catch him with his guard down. And, if not, he would get money out of it no matter what.

“Deal,” Shiki said. The man eyed him as if trying to determine if he was telling the truth or not. But finally, he let Shiki go.

“Okay then. Now, let’s get something to eat.” Shiki was confused by the old guy’s sudden change in attitude. Just who the hell was this guy anyway? Reluctantly, Shiki started to follow the man. However, the man quickly stopped.

“Aw no, you’re going to walk up front where I can see you.” At first, Shiki merely frowned and for a minute he thought he wasn’t going to move and end the deal right then and there. But, in the end, he caved. Damn it. Obeying, he walked in front of the old man as if he were a prisoner.

He took Shiki to a diner. A small one on the corner of the block. It was a rather clean diner. In fact, it was quite nice. But he was still too stubborn to admire it. Instead, he appeared indifferent out of sheer spite. The old man didn’t seem to mind so much. When the waitress came over, the old man ordered for the both of them which pissed Shiki off to no end. He knew what he wanted to eat; he could order the damn food himself. As they waited, Shiki was immediately beginning to regret the deal. And yet, the yuans in the man’s pocket spoke to him. He could feel himself sliding in his chair.

The two sat in silence but Shiki continued to glare at the man until the food arrived. His plate was full with some sort of meat in the shape of a sausage on a bun. A classic Koni Island. And although his stomach told him to eat, he ignored the food in front of him.

“Hey now, aren’t you going to eat?” the old man asked as he took a bite out of his own Koni Island.

“I’m not hungry.” Suddenly, Shiki’s stomach growled.

“So let me get this straight: its okay for you to try and steal money from me to buy food but it’s not okay for you to accept a perfectly good Koni Island sitting in front of you? You’re crazy.”

“I want to leave.”

“Well if you leave, you won’t get this.” The man suddenly took the time to flash out the yuans he had showed Shiki before which only caused Shiki to glare harder at him. If that were at all possible. The old man then put the yuans back in his pocket. “Now shut up and eat your Koni Island.”

“No.” Here, the man’s once passive nature suddenly vanished as he returned the glare Shiki continued to hold on him. But the old man didn’t hold the glare for very long.

“Well fine.” To Shiki’s surprise, the man grabbed his Koni Island and placed it on his own plate.

“Hey!” Shiki exclaimed, a look of disappointment filling his face.

“Well you don’t want it so I’ll have it. I’m not letting this food go to waste.” Shiki was no longer glaring: he was glowering. He looked as though he would tear this man into pieces if he had the strength. But there was a hint of dismay present in his look as he now realized just how hungry he was.

“You’re a horrible old man!” Shiki couldn’t help but to exclaim.

“Hey, you didn’t want it,” the old man retorted. Now, it was the old man that was angry. The old man returned Shiki’s previous favor: his glare seeming just as intense as Shiki’s.

“Everything all right over here?” the waitress asked. She couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. “Does the little champ want a soda or something?”

“He’s not a little champ,” the old man said, still glaring at Shiki with Shiki glaring back.

“Well okay then…” the waitress said, leaving the two as fast as she possibly could. As Shiki continued to stare at the old man, he was certain of one thing: this was going to be torture.

* * *

Taho rushed towards his opponent. He pulled some water out of a pouch hidden in his coat sleeve. The water flew towards the man as if it were an extension of Taho’s body. His opponent clearly wasn’t expecting this as the force of the water sent him flying back into a series of trashcans. Taho ran up to the fallen man, ripping him up by the collar. He then roughly pushed him into the wall, pinning him there.

“And don’t you come near my sister again, ya hear me?” Taho yelled as he punched his opponent in the face. The man groaned before Taho released his grip and the man fell to the ground. Taho stood over him, panting. His fists were clenched, ready to knock the guy out if he even tried to up. But when that looked as though it wasn’t happening, Taho wiped the blood away from the cut on his left cheek.

“Impressive,” someone called from behind. Taho spun around to find a large man in a light blue suit and matching fedora standing just a few feet away. “You got a bit beat up though but that’s all right.” He pointed to the cut as he stepped closer.

“Who are you?” Taho asked.

“Name’s Capac. I’ve been lookin’ for someone like you. Someone with your kind of integrity, skills, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, you know that sort of thing.” The man on the ground groaned again as he was trying to get up. But Capac kicked him hard in the side and he was down again. “So, you interested?”

“No thanks,” Taho replied. “I don’t wanna get caught up in some gang warfare.” For, it was obvious by this point that Capac was a member of some sort of gang. Though which one he wasn’t sure. Not that it mattered either way.

“But you’re willing to bust your ass off making piss poor money living in the slums of the city.” Taho didn’t say anything. “Well, if you change your mind, you can find me over at Paku Street.” Paku Street. Red Monsoon territory. It all made sense now. Capac didn’t wait for Taho to respond. He just left him alone on the side of the street.

Now that was all said and done, Taho sighed before going back to his apartment. His sister was there waiting for him. The look on her face pissed him off to no end.

“Is he gone?” she asked. This only annoyed him more.

“What the hell were you thinking bringing a creep like that here? What if Dakota was home?” He was shouting at her and he didn’t care about the hurt look on her face. Before his anger could grow to the point where he might break something, Taho left the room. He walked down the narrow, short corridor of the apartment before entering his room, slamming the door in the process. He lay on his bed for a while, not wanting to see or do anything.

As night fell, Taho found himself on Paku Street. Capac was standing under a street light. He figured he’d be waiting. Making the decision he was about to make was predictable. So predictable. In a way, he hated himself for it.

“So, where do I sign up?”

* * *

“Man, those mother f*****’ Triads deserved what they got,” Capac was saying as he and Taho were cruising in his satomobile. “It’s like I’m always saying man, those Triads show off way too much. And Amon whooped their asses and took their bending away.”

“I can’t believe he can do that,” Taho said. The idea of some guy being able to take away bending was unbelievable. In a way, he hoped they were merely rumors. But he knew that was unlikely. And, in all honesty, the idea of a man being able to take away his bending was scary. But Taho tried not to worry about it.

“We are in some crazy times. Scary **** is happening. Which is why we’ve got to be more careful unless we want our bending taken away. Because if that happens, we are so f*****. I mean, this **** is f***** up Taho. Real f***** up.”

“Yeah.” There was nothing else Taho could really say. Capac was clearly in one of his moods where he could talk for hours if Taho let him.

“But hey, at least we can now attack those Triads. They are nothin’ without Lightning Bolt Zolt.” Yup, one of those moods.

“You can drop me off here,” Taho said. Capac slowed the vehicle down as he found a place to park.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Have fun on your date you son of a bitch.” Taho smiled mischievously before shutting the door. As Capac’s satomobile drove away, Taho couldn’t help but to grimace a little.

He knew Lei was a cop. He had found out on the first night they met. But he didn’t dare tell anyone else about it. He knew he was throwing himself in deep ****. But he couldn’t help it. It wasn’t necessarily his feelings getting in the way. A part of him felt she could be useful to some degree. He could gain information that the Red Monsoons might need one day. And they always say keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

He was meeting Lei at a small joint with Water Tribe food. It helped there was a bar there as well. She was already there waiting out front.

“Well, well, right on time,” Taho said as he walked towards her. “You ready to have some of the best food you’ve ever tasted?”

“Sure am,” Lei replied. He opened the door for her before the two went inside.

“So, anyway, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind meeting my grandparents,” Lei was saying after they had ordered a few drinks, explaining the current plight she had with her brother.

“Are you kiddin’ I’d love to,” Taho replied. “And don’t worry about your brother: my sister’s an even bigger pain in the ass. Older siblings are the worse.” They both laughed. “But, at least I got a niece out of it so it isn’t so bad.”
“Oh, you have a niece?” Lei asked as she took a sip of her current drink.

“Yeah, she’s six. Her name’s Dakota,” Taho explained. He drank from his glass as well. “Hey, maybe I should bring her along. Kids earn you brownie points with relatives, right?”

“I wouldn’t know but Kato used to use our cousin to pick up girls,” Lei said, laughing.

“There, you see? Our strategy’s flawless. We’ll have your grandparents in the bag. And your brother too.” He swung his glass in the air as he spoke as he explained his master plan.

* * *

Airi and Kenji were laughing as they walked with her grandparents towards the door to their hotel building. Her grandparents had finished telling a story in which Grandma Ai had nearly gotten her, Grandpa Ryuzaki, and Airi ‘killed’ by driving a satomobile recklessly. Airi could vaguely recall some details about the incident one of which consisted of her grandfather refusing to ever get in a satomobile with her grandmother ever again. At least, not while she drove. But Airi had always thought that particular ride was rather fun.

As Kenji and Ai were ahead of the two, Airi felt her grandfather holding her back from them. She looked towards him, confused but she knew he obviously wanted to talk in private.

“Airi, we need to talk.” He was blunt and to the point. He stared at her with his dark eyes and Airi couldn’t help but to be reminded of the many incidents when he would reprimand her for various reasons.

“What do you mean?” Airi asked.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing robbing people?” Airi was completely stunned, unsure how to react to his accusation.

“But—but how did you know?”

“I may be old but I’m not deaf.” He was clearly offended especially since Airi recalled herself yelling their shenanigans rather loudly. Of course he had heard. “For Agni’s sake Airi, I expected this kind of behavior from one of Kai’s kids maybe but not you.” Airi was silent, not daring to speak against him, the disappointment and anger clear in his voice. However, his anger gradually subsided. “Just be careful. And don’t do it again.” Airi nodded. “Okay then, let’s get inside.”

Without saying anything else, the two walked into the hotel together. Though, Airi could have sworn she heard him mutter a few times something about her being like her grandmother.
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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:07 pm

The Cat’s Either Meowing or He’s All Wet

It was another night at the Cabbage Club for the undefined outlaw duo. Of course, no one noticed the two petty thieves as anything other two dancers among the dozen or so already present cutting a rug.

They moved swiftly and completely in sync with one another. While there were some less experienced who did the simple four step with an extra kick or an extra shake of the legs, these two surpassed all. Their kicks were high, their arms were raised high in the air, their steps were quick and precise. At times they broke away from one another, performing unique solo movements only to once again rejoin each other.

But even the great dancers needed a bit of rest. Together, they walked to their table and both immediately went for their glasses of water before then moving onto their alcoholic beverages. They didn’t say anything and continued to listen to the music that continued.

“Hey Airi,” Kenji began as he continued to stare at the dancers. There were new dancers now as many of the ones that had been dancing were also taking a break. “I’ve been thinking.”

“Yeah?” Airi asked. She blew at the green feather in her hair, watching the few strands move momentarily.

“Listen,” he continued. He then leaned in a little as if he didn’t want anyone else to hear their conversation. “We should do one last job.”

“What?” Airi exclaimed. The thought was absolutely ludicrous. They had already started filming so there seemed absolutely no point in continuing their little charade. It had served its purpose and now it was time to enjoy their close ups.

“Yeah, just one more.” He was already begging. “And I’ve got the perfect idea for it too. Everyone knows the Triple Threats have been down on their luck with Amon.”

“So?” She had a feeling as to where this conversation was going. And, she didn’t like it. But she still listened.

“So, we should take some of their money and then give it to the poor!” Kenji exclaimed, his arms flying in the air. “Just like how they would do in the good old days.”

“Kenji, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Her grandfather’s warning was now coming to mind. And though many of today’s generation never listened to old kooks, Airi was one of the exceptions. For the most part.

“We can give it to an orphanage and become just like the Freedom Fighters,” he continued to persuade. His methods of persuasion, the way his large eyes looked at her with excitement. It was hard to ignore and avoid.

“Well….I guess one more wouldn’t hurt….”

* * *

Taho swung Dakota’s arm as he held her hand while they walked down the street. She wore the nicest blue dress she owned while Taho made sure he was wearing something a tad nicer than his usual garbs. At least, he made sure to wear a vest instead of suspenders with his collared shirt. It was early evening now. The street lights had yet to come on but the sun was just about setting.

“See, I told ya it would work. You’re a certified doll magnet champ,” Taho was saying. “Did ya have a good time?”

“Yeah.” Dakota didn’t pay much attention to what Taho was saying. She was too busy pulling against his arm while also sliding on the pavement.

“Hey, you’re gonna ruin your shoes if you do that.” But she continued anyway. And Taho didn’t stop her anymore. If he wasn’t careful, she’d end up taking that energy out by picking a fight with a kid on the street. Taho didn’t say anything for some time as he was thinking over certain things regarding the cop that was now his girlfriend. “Dakota, do you like Lei?”

“I like Kato,” Dakota said definitively as if he were asking her to pick a favorite. Taho laughed a little.

“Yeah, me too. But what about Lei?”

“What are you asking me for, she’s your girlfriend.” It was funny how quickly she had moved from being sweet little Dakota to sassy in a matter of minutes.

“Okay, fair enough.”

Taho noticed the all too familiar blue satomobile driving along side them as they continued to walk down the sidewalk.

“Get in,” Capac said as the window pulled down. Taho looked at Dakota who luckily did not seem to notice the potential seriousness and danger of the situation.

“Sorry, I got a friend with me,” Taho said. “Hey Dakota, why don’t you get yourself a sundae.” He gave her a bill. Dakota ran without question to the nearest shop which undoubtedly held the treat she desired. When she was out of the way, Capac continued. “So word on the street is the Red Monsoons are going to ambush the Triple Threats tomorrow night.” Someone honked behind him. Capac gave a deathly stare to shut the trap of the vehicle behind him. “You use this opportunity to sneak into their hang out and grab their stash. Sound simple enough?”

This was easily the biggest responsibility Taho had ever been given since joining the Red Monsoons. And he realized from Capac’s speech that he would be doing it alone. While this thought was enough to rattle anyone, only a certified moron would show such emotion.

“Yeah, no problem.” With a friendly nod of understanding, the satomobile sped down the street, leaving Taho in the dust.

* * *

“This is stupid,” Shiki complained as he sat on the floor of the old man’s apartment. “Why do I have to clean a broken sword?”

“Shut up and get back to work,” the old man replied gruffly from his chair. “That sword is special. Not like you’d understand the importance of a sword nowadays.”

“I’m leaving.” As if to prove a point, he threw the sponge back in the bucket.

“Fine. Go on then. All your hard work would be for nothing though.” The old man flashed the yuans tucked away in his coat. Grumbling, Shiki picked the sponge back up.

While Shiki continued to clean the broken sword, the old man sat in his chair, as comfortable as ever. Although, he also appeared to be a tad bit bored. A small flame formed in the palm of his hand and he began to do small tricks with it. As if the creation of fire would entertain him. Out of the corner of his eye, Shiki stared warily at the man.

“What’s the matter with you?” the old man asked. Shiki jumped a little.

“Nothing,” he insisted tartly. Before the man could continue his small little game, a flash of realization spread across his face. Without saying anything, he rose from his chair and went over to the radio. A small flick and it was on.

“Mystery in the Air,” the announcer began as eerie music slowly played in the background. “starring Wang Fu.”

“Good, just in time,” the old man remarked, sitting back down in his seat.

“The forces of evil stand at the threshold. Time short. Two men shall die this night. Two men shall die in The Steel Chair Murder Case. ” The narrator’s voice possessed a pitch and quality that somehow managed to sent a small shiver down Shiki’s spine. The old man began to lean in towards the radio and Shiki thought perhaps he should have just stayed standing. “We begin in uptown Republic City as the president of Upcoming Industries prepares his radio address.”

Shiki only looked for a second or so more before continuing with his work. However, he could clearly see the old man was too busy listening to the radio that he was no longer paying attention to him. Shiki wasn’t stupid: he knew he’d catch him if he tried to leave the room or something. But he still knew he could get away with leaving the sword alone and listening to the radio.

The old man’s eyes were as wide as ever. The character that was now being focused on (someone who was in charge of the room where the radio broadcast would take place) was currently shuffling keys as he prepared to lock up. A series of some string instrument began to crescendo. The man let out a jump of surprise.

“ ‘Jeez man, you nearly scared me half to death,’” The man replied to whoever he was talking to. “ ‘What are you doin’ here?’”

“BAM!” the old man suddenly shouted, flames coming out of his hands and filling the area around him as the man on the radio let out a scream. Shiki yelped and the flames quickly dissipated. The old man then stopped, looking at the boy. His once excited expression suddenly became stern and grim. But he didn’t say anything.

The radio program continued. The old man walked over towards it and shut it off.

“All right, that’s enough of that,” he said. Shiki’s gaze shifted in part due to embarrassment. “Get your coat kid.”

“Wh—why?” It was stupid to ask, he already knew why he had to get his coat. And, in a way, perhaps it was for the best.

“Well, it’s easier to teach you how to defend yourself if we go somewhere more open like the park,” the old man explained.

* * *

You can always tell when a big job is about to go down. The air is always unusually still. The streets are quiet as if every living soul knows there’s something going down. Except for the victims of course. And it’s always night. Sometimes it’s raining, sometimes it’s not. For this little job, the weather was on the Red Monsoons’ side.

There was a sudden uproar just down the street as one of the Triple Threats signaled that there were Red Monsoons on their turf. Immediately, those that were within the hide out got up, rushing towards the scene. Itching for a fight. Of course, with Lightning Bolt Zolt and their other key members, the Triple Threats were not the sharpest tools in the shed. Not a soul thought it was a good idea to hang back and miss the fight while their remaining funds lay out in the open. Just waiting for someone to snag it.

* * *

“The jig is up!” Kenji exclaimed upon entering the Triple Threat’s headquarters. His clothing was unusual and clearly some sort of costume. They were rugged with an auburn tunic and dark brown pants. Clearly clothes from at least seventy years ago. If not more. And he wore two pieces of armor that functioned as shoulder pads. However, these were mismatched: one was silver the other yellow. He pointed his hook swords forward as a piece of straw hung from his mouth.

“The jig is up!” Airi repeated getting into a fighting stance. She had a lot more padded armor on in addition to two red streaks of red paint covering both her cheeks.

“Hey…nobodies here,” Kenji said upon realizing that he was pointing his hook swords at absolutely no one.

“I wonder where they went,” Airi added. No longer in their fighting poses, the two merely stood there at first unsure what to do.

“Well, fate must be on our side Airi!” Kenji remarked, as the golden opportunity they now possessed was in the palm of their hand. Without another word, he began to look around. Airi immediately followed as the two scoured the room for anything valuable. “We have to hurry Airi. Who knows how long this luck will run,” he added as he searched some drawers.

* * *

Taho sped towards the Triple Threat hangout now. He had to take out a few of their guys along the way least they should spoil the plan. But it was no matter. Now the road was clear and the fight between the two gangs was still going on with no signs of stopping.

Without a pause, Taho burst open the doors. And, as soon as his mind processed the interior, his mouth fell open.
The place was completely ransacked.

Panicking, Taho didn’t bother to search the room and see if perhaps whoever had gotten there first had come out empty. Instead, he took to the streets again. Maybe if he started now, he’d be able to catch up to those son of a bitches.

“Aw, ****. ****! This isn’t good,” Taho told himself as he ran up one of the alleyways. This street led up to one of the main roads: perfect place to hide and go about unnoticed. He hightailed it up the alley.

And that’s when he saw them. Two of them. They were no doubt the burglars he had heard about before. They were dressed up and the girl had a box that probably had the stash of dough. She turned briefly and for a split second, Taho saw her face. But then she disappeared into the crowd. With a massive crowd coming through, there was no hope of reaching her.

* * *

“Come on Fire Ferrets!” Kato exclaimed in a self contained manner as he and Lei stood at the doorway to one of the many entrances of the pro-bending arena.

“Will you knock it off?” Lei asked, irritated that he was not taking their job of guarding the arena safely. Her eyes scanned the arena for any suspicious activity. Besides, the Fire Ferrets were losing severely due to cheating.

“Aw, come on, I doubt Amon’s going to attack now. It’s the final round.” Lei shot him a brief glare.

“Well, at least use this time for something more useful. We need to figure out who those two burglars are. They stole from the Triple Threats last night. And if we don’t do something, who knows what will happen.”

“Yeah, you’ve got a point I guess,” Kato replied. However, just when it seemed as though he were going to try and think about this, his eyes suddenly widened. “I can’t believe it!” he exclaimed, this time a lot louder than before as he watched the Fire Ferrets lose.

“I can.”

But before the two had a chance to really do anything and to continue their conversation, they both suddenly felt a pulsating shock spread throughout their bodies. Unable to do anything else but to let out a cry of pain, the two collapsed to the floor, completely and utterly unconscious.

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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:37 pm

Hittin’ on All Sixes and Sevens

It was dark as Shiki and the Old Man walked through the park. But the street lights were enough for them to see their surroundings. A few people walked through, a couple enjoying an evening stroll, a few shady characters, a patrolman, among others. But the park was emptier than usual.

The Old Man stopped when he had found a good spot. He put his cane on the ground.

“Now, it seems to me the hardest thing we’re going to have to do is get you over your fear of fire.” Shiki stepped back at the sound of this. The Old Man bent down in front of him. It appeared to hurt him a little, especially his leg, but he bent down anyway. “Listen: even if you’re afraid of fire, the object when you’re defending yourself is to dodge and get closer to your opponent. You’re not a bender and you can get in a lot of trouble for carrying a weapon at your age so you’re going to have to rely on your fists and feet.”

The Old Man held his hand out. A small flame emitted from the center of his palm. Shiki took a step back.

“Don’t back away,” the Old Man ordered. Shiki reluctantly stepped back in front of it. “Put your hand out in front of it. But don’t touch the flame.”

Hesitantly, Shiki placed his hand out. His hand felt warm as the flame’s heat touched his skin. He could feel the heat reaching his face as well.

“This is what the fire’s going to feel like when you dodge any attack. Your instinct is going to be back away. But like I said, you’ve got to move forward but away from the flame at the same time. Firebenders nowadays are counting on you to maintain your distance.”

The flame disappeared. With difficulty, the Old Man got up.

“It’s the same thing with water and earth: you’re going to feel something: hot, cold, whatever. Now, I’m going to lightly send a flame in your direction and I want you to do exactly what I just told you.”


“No buts. We don’t have a lot of time before I leave and you get your money. And I sure as hell ain’t giving money to a kid who can’t even defend himself.” Shiki didn’t say anything. “Okay, get ready.”

* * *

“Oh man, oh man, oh man,” Taho said nervously as his foot pushed on the gas pedal. It was morning but it still felt as though it was the night of the raid. The images were still playing in his head: the empty room, the girl who had taken whatever valuable was in there. “We are so screwed.”

“We’re fucked? No man, you’re fucked,” Capac replied. “You’d be lucky to make it out of this whole mother fuckin’ situation alive. I mean, damn it Taho, how did you **** this up?”

“I didn’t mean to, someone got there before me!” He was sweating now at the idea of failing. He didn’t want to think about what would happen if he was to get all the blame. Or what could happen to Dakota. It didn’t help that Capac was now down his throat.

“Well you better figure somethin’ out or you’re fucked.” Suddenly, there were two people crossing the street. He didn’t see them as they came crashing onto the hood of the satomobile. “Oh **** man!”

“****!” Taho hit the gas as he flew past them and the scene of the crime.

“Well don’t just keep driving you son of a bitch. Go back.”

“I can’t turn around.” Taho’s hands were shaking now. He couldn’t get in trouble for hittin a pedestrian now. Not with everything else going on.

“We’re in the middle of mother **** Main Street with cars looking at us every which way and you just hit two mother **** people. Turn the damn thing around.” Now panicking at Capac’s words, Taho tried to turn the vehicle around. It wasn’t easy though, bein’ on a main street and everything.

“I’m trying, I’m trying.” Other drivers honked at him as he tried to turn around.

“This is the last time you ever drive.”

* * *

“You know Airi, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say we were at the high point of our lives.” They walked down the street, Kenji with a paper in his hands.

“How do you figure that Kenji?” Airi asked. Kenji was about to walk into a pot hole. Airi grabbed his sleeve and pulled him out of the way as he continued reading.

“Well, we managed to successfully pull off three robberies, we gave our earnings to an orphanage, and we made the paper today!” he eagerly placed the paper in front of Airi. Now it was Airi’s turn to read the paper as Kenji navigated her through the crowd.

“Wow, this is amazing! We’ve never made the paper before!” Airi exclaimed.

“Exactly!” Kenji looked both ways before beginning to guide both he and Airi across the street.

Suddenly, both felt an odd sensation. Neither could figure out what it was at first other than it was painful. As if they were being hit by a satomobile.

They both fell to the ground, backs, arms, legs, and everywhere else sore. Airi was the first to try to get up.
“What happened?” Airi asked.

“Hey are you guys okay?” someone asked as a group of people began to encircle them. A few tried to help them both to their feet.

“That satomobile came out of nowhere!” another one called. “Those jackasses.”

“Where’d those bums go anyway? Anyone get their plates?”

“Well, Airi, at least we can now say we know what it feels like to get hit by a satomobile,” Kenji said as he tried to get up.

A young man wearing a blue fedora came rushing towards the two. It was clear there was panic in his face as he bent down beside both of them.

“Oh man, oh man, I’m so sorry! I—I’ve never really driven before and I didn’t see ya and I couldn’t figure out how to turn around,” he said. “Are you all right? Do ya need to go to the hospital?” People were now glaring at him and profanities were being thrown all over.

“We should have the feds throw your ass in jail,” someone from the crowd said. Kenji rubbed the back of his neck.
“Airi, do you need to go to the hospital?” Kenji asked. Airi was now fully on her feet.

“I think I’ll feel fine once we get to the theater,” Airi replied.

“Well, Airi’s fine and I’m fine so I guess there’s no harm done.” The young man helped Kenji to his feet. “Though I recommend driving on quieter streets next time.” The man looked relieved.

“Yeah, yeah. And thank you.” The man reached into his wallet and pulled out a couple of yuans. “Here. In case you realize ya need somethin’. Like an aspirin.” Kenji took the money.

“Thanks. I normally wouldn’t take this but…I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need that aspirin.”

* * *

Kato sat at his desk reading the morning paper. Someone walked by his desk. He was too engrossed in his paper to realize who it was or what they wanted. But then a hand came slamming down on his paper and on the desk.
“Stop reading the paper,” Lei reprimanded. “We have a serious issue on our hands.” Kato sighed.

“What is it now? I mean, aside from the city being overtaken by a psychotic lunatic?” He didn’t even look at the paper anymore.

“Remember the robbery on the Triple Threats? Apparently, the Red Monsoons organized a fight against the Triple Threats that same night, supposedly to ransack them.” Kato sat up in his seat.

“But we know it was the two burglars.” Lei nodded grimly.

“Exactly. Which means, the Red Monsoons are going to figure out their plan failed. If they haven’t already.”

“Ugh, these burglars are becoming such a pain in the ass,” Kato complained. He was getting out of his seat now and grabbing his helmet. Lei was already walking out.

“We need to find them. Now.”

* * *

Night had once again settled in and Shiki and the Old Man had returned to the park after a short break. The Old Man sent quick jolts of fire one right after the other, in a similar style to that of the modern day bender. Shiki moved to the left to avoid the first, then the right, gaining ground each time until he finally reached the Old Man.
“Good,” the Old Man said. “Now, when you get your opponent, you’ve got to quickly disarm them.” He took Shiki’s arms and started pointing to a spot on his wrists. “There are pressure points here. This isn’t the same thing as chi blocking but if you hit them here, it’ll stun them enough where they won’t bend. It’ll hurt like hell too.”

The Old Man then hit an area of Shiki’s forearm.

“They might try and kick you, especially after you hit their pressure points. Use this part of your arm to block it.” The Old Man let go of Shiki’s arm. “I’d have you practice but my leg ain’t what it used to be.”

“Wha—what happened to your leg?” Shiki realized he might have offended the old man. After all, some old people were just sensitive about those kinds of things. But the Old Man smiled and pat his leg.

“Hurt it on my ship one day. Had to retire shortly after.”

“You had a boat?”

“Yup. Been all over the world with it.” Shiki was in a wonderment of this fact and suddenly wanted to know more. But before he could ask anything, there was a shouting coming from the other side of the park.

“Hey! Hey!” Shiki looked and saw that it was a man and a woman and they seemed to be calling to them. The Old Man sighed.

“Just ignore them.”

But the two people kept calling to them and Shiki couldn’t help but to keep looking. They seemed weird for one thing. The Old Man eventually sighed again. It seemed like they weren’t going to be able to ignore them.

“You know, you could have at least said ‘Hello’,” the woman said. She then noticed Shiki. “And who’s this?”

“Airi, Kenji,” the Old Man said as though he was surprised to see them, “I had no idea it was you.” It was very clear to Shiki that the Old Man was being sarcastic. But the two didn’t seem to catch on. “His name’s Shiki.”

“Hey there,” the man, Kenji, said. Shiki couldn’t tell if their tone of voice was just part of their personality or if they were just treating him like a little kid. Or both.

“Uh…hi,” Shiki replied.

“We just came to tell you that we paid a visit to the orphanage,” Airi said to the Old Man excitedly. Shiki’s heart suddenly skipped a beat.

“Orphanage?!” Shiki exclaimed. He shot a glare at the Old Man. Airi and Kenji seemed very confused by his sudden outburst.

“Uh…yea there’s an orphanage that—“ Airi tried to start explaining.

“You lied to me! You were planning on sendin’ me to the orphanage the entire time, weren’t you?” Shiki started yelling at the Old Man.

“Now hold on a minute, that’s not—“ the Old Man began explaining.

But Shiki ran, ran as fast as he could. He didn’t look back, didn’t dare to look back as he heard the Old Man yelling at the two.

“You blockheads! Now look what you’ve done,” he was yelling.

But that didn’t matter anymore. He just needed to run and get away from those people. Get away from the traitor.

* * *

Taho banged his head on the building a few times. He had been at it all day. Thinking, contemplating, whatever. But he still couldn’t figure out a way out of this mess.

“Damn it,” Taho muttered.

“If you keep bangin’ your head against that wall, you gonna be totally goddamn useless,” Capac said as he leaned against his satomobile.

Taho banged his head against the wall again. Think. There was something, something that just wasn’t sittin’ right with him. Something he was missing. He thought about that night again, about everything that followed. About hitting the couple this morning with the satomobile.

It hit him.

“The girl!” Taho exclaimed. He turned towards Capac.


“The girl we hit this morning. She was the one that took the goods!” Capac stepped away from the satomobile.

“Are you sure? Are you absolutely positively sure? We can’t go around confronting random citizens just on a hunch.”

“Yes, yes I’m sure,” Taho pointed towards Capac. “She said somethin’ about a theater.”

“There’s a theater not far from where he hit them.”

“Let’s go. Maybe we can catch someone before they all leave.” Taho practically jumped in the car as Capac took his goddamn time. The blood was rushing through him; he could feel the adrenaline kicking in. Maybe he actually had a chance to fix everything.

* * *

“How in the Spirits are there absolutely no hints as to who these two are?” Lei asked as she paced their apartment. The radio was on, broadcasting the evening news in the hopes that something new would be revealed.

“I think you need to calm down. Maybe you should call your boyfriend,” Kato replied. He sat down in a chair and was finally reading the morning paper. Although by this time he should have just waited for tomorrow’s paper. Kato knew he had missed the viper glare of his sister as a response.

“I am completely calm,” Lei responded coolly. “And I don’t need a significant other to keep me in check, thanks.”

“Keep telling yourself that Lei. Maybe someday it’ll come true.” Lei groaned in aggravation.

Kato went back to reading his paper. He scanned the contents, trying to find anything interesting.

“Holy ****,” Kato said.

“What?” Kato looked up from the paper and towards Lei.

“It’s Airi and Kenji.”


“The burglars are Airi and Kenji!” Kato stood up. He showed his sister the paper. “Look! Look at this article. Airi and Kenji are playing bank robbers named Roba and Kiri.” Lei looked at the paper.

“R and K.”

“And remember what the reports say? They were wearing masks. I bet they got those from their theater.” Lei and Kato looked at one another.

“We have to go find them before somebody else does. Damn it, I can’t believe those two were so stupid.”

“I can.”

* * *

Shiki finally stopped running. He had to. His lungs were on fire and even his gasps for air didn’t subside the pain in his chest. But the more air that came in, the better he felt. Shiki leaned on a dumpster for support and that helped as well.

Water was starting to cloud his vision and he was starting to find it hard to breathe again. He shook his head and reprimanded himself. He closed his eyes tightly and clenched his fists.


It was a familiar voice. A little too familiar. He turned around. The weird couple were running after him. ****.
Shiki bolted. Again. But the man grabbed his arm.

“Hey now wait a minute,” Kenji said.

“Let me go!” Shiki demanded as he tried to pull away from him. But he wasn’t budging and now Airi was holding onto his other arm. Not like Shiki was putting up much of a fight. He was tired from all the running and life of somewhat luxury he had been living slowed him down.

“We think there’s been a little misunderstanding,” Airi was explaining.

“Indeed there has,” someone said from behind. Airi and Kenji turned around to face the new addition to the conversation.

“Well if it isn’t our fine friend who ran us over this morning. How have you been?” Kenji asked. Airi and Kenji both looked from the familiar face of Taho to the man next to him. They didn’t recognize him but he had a blue fedora of similar fashion just in a different shade.

“Is this a friend of yours?” Airi asked as she motioned to the stranger. Shiki looked at the two strangers. They didn’t seem too friendly.

“You could say that, yeah,” Taho replied.

“You see, we’ve come here in the hopes of clearing up a little mess,” Capac added. “We believe you acquired some money recently that belongs to us.” At the sound of this, Shiki tried to break away from the two’s grips. This didn’t sound good at all. “And we’d really appreciate it if you did your civic duty and returned it to its rightful owners.”

“Oh, we don’t have that money anymore,” Airi said.

“We gave it to an orphanage,” Kenji added. “The best in town.” Shiki stopped trying to fight. So that’s what all that orphanage talk was all about.

Taho’s face sank at the news. He didn’t know what was more annoying: the fact the money was gone or the fact these two seemed so goddamn smug about it. Capac glanced at him. Well, ****.

Capac tapped the tip of his fedora.

“I’m sorry to say that’s not good news. Not good news at all.” Capac reached into his coat and pulled out a handful of water that rested like a sphere in the palm of his hand.

Finally realizing the danger, Airi and Kenji now took a step back, both shielding Shiki in the process.

“I’m sure there’s something we can work out…” Airi was saying as Capac and Taho stepped closer. Kenji placed Airi in front of him.

“Airi, teach them a lesson,” he said.

“Hey! Why me?” Airi complained.

“Well, you’re the bender of this relationship,” Kenji said. Kenji then looked at Shiki. “When Airi’s got them both distracted, you make a run for it.” He spoke lowly. Shiki was momentarily stunned by Kenji’s request. They trusted him to run and find help? They didn’t even know him.

Capac froze the water and sent it flying at them. He was fast.

But Airi was faster. She sent a large flame that spread at least ten feet across them. Taho had never seen anything like it. Most of the ice melted and whatever didn’t Airi ducked to dodge. Kenji and Shiki followed her example immediately after but they were slower and just barely missed it.

Airi charged forward. Taho and Capac each shot water discs at her. They were fast and quick just as an earth disc would be in a probending match. Shiki expected Airi to send equally fast fireballs to counter the attack.
But she didn’t. Instead, a flame circled around her and she pushed it forward towards the ice discs, stopping every single one in its path. Taho and Capac were forced to take a step back from the heat of the flame.

“What the ****?” Capac blurted. Shiki thought this was a good time to make a run for hit. He didn’t run directly in their eyesight but around so they hopefully wouldn’t see him. But Capac saw him. “****, don’t let the kid get away!”
Taho was about to run after the boy. Using both fists, Airi sent jets of flame in front of Taho’s path. Shiki felt the heat but kept running. Taho was forced to move back.

“****!” he exclaimed as the flames almost hit him. Normally, he would have tried to bulldoze through it. But this **** was different.

Airi had to cut the move short as Capac tried to expose her opening. As soon as she had dodged it, Airi paused. She took a deep breath.

A flame was forming around her. It was a very large flame. But Taho and Capac quickly realized it wasn’t just any flame. This flame was in the shape of a dragon and it was now flying towards them.

Capac and Taho braced themselves but before they could unleash their own attack, the dragon spewed fire at them. Taho tried to change his attack into a defensive one but as the fire passed over him, patches of clothes still burned and although he didn’t see it, he could feel his skin either burning or turning beat red.

The force of the flame also sent Taho flying back into a pile of trashcans. Capac had managed to brace himself. Airi was still full of energy.

“Way to go Airi! You’re doing great!” Kenji called from behind. “Just one more to go.”

Airi looked back and smiled quickly before facing her opponent once again. She went to move her arms.
And found that she couldn’t.

Airi appeared frozen in place. She stared frantically at her arms which still weren’t moving. Kenji sensed something was wrong.

“Airi, what’s the matter? Use your firebending!”

“I can’t,” Airi answered, panic in her voice. “I can’t move.”

“Little girl. Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to **** with a waterbender when there’s a full moon?” Capac said, grinning. Taho was out of the trash and coming up from behind Capac, water in his hand.

Airi’s face began to distort and her limbs began to move in an erratic and unnatural fashion. She was being forced down to the ground.

“Airi!” Kenji began to run towards her as she cried in pain.

“Don’t move,” Taho ordered. His water turned into a sharp icicle as he aimed it towards Kenji. Kenji stopped.

“You have been a real pain in my ass. But you know what? I’m feeling a little generous today. So I’ll make this nice and quick,” Capac said. He squeezed his hand. Airi cried out again. “It’ll only take a second.”

Capac’s face suddenly contorted. He looked down and saw metalbender cords through his chest. The blood was already seeping through his clothes and trickling on the ground. Airi gasped as she was released from the bloodbender’s grip.

The cords were ripped out of him from behind. He fell to the ground instantly. Taho looked in horror at Capac’s body lying in a pool of blood.

“Stand down,” Lei commanded, blood now on her arm guard. Kato stood next to her with Shiki behind him. Lei and Taho stared at one another.

The icicle melted into water and fell to the ground. Kenji immediately ran to Airi who was still on the ground.

“Airi, Airi are you okay?” he asked. Airi slowly moved her hands.

“Yea, I’m okay.” He hugged her.

“You are under arrest,” Lei said as Taho placed his hands out while Kato placed the cuffs around Taho’s wrists. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law…”

Shiki walked towards the weird couple that he now guessed wasn’t so weird on account of them saving him. Sort of. Before he could say anything, Kenji pulled him into the hug.

“Nice job kiddo.” Shiki didn’t know what to say. And, before he even could say anything, a shadow loomed over them.

Lei and Kato stood over the three with Taho in tow. Lei didn’t look at all pleased. In fact, Kenji would describe her look as downright scary.

“You’re all coming with us.”
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Re: Gabannome

Post  Loyal Subject on Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:10 am

Dustin’ Out

The lights of the interrogation room beat underneath the two. Airi and Kenji sat with a blanket wrapped around each of them. The large, metal doors slid open. Airi tugged her blanket as they stared up at Kato.
Kato’s expression gave nothing away as he took a seat in front of them.

“Well it looks like most of your charges have been dropped since you only technically stole once,” Kato was saying as he looked through their paperwork. “However, we strongly urge you to go into witness protection given the circumstances.” Airi and Kenji exchanged glances.

“Absolutely not,” Airi said firmly as she tugged on her blanket some more as if her blanket was now a robe worn by royalty.

“Our lives are here,” Kenji added as he imitated her.

“I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation.” Kato placed the papers down on the table in front of them.

“We understand it perfectly. And our answer is still no,” Airi insisted. Both sides stared at each other hard before Kato sighed.

“Yea, had a feeling that was going to happen.” Kato closed the folder on the table.

“How’s Lei doing?” Airi asked.

“We are not here to discuss that,” Kato replied as he flashed them both a look. “You do still have one charge.” Airi and Kenji suddenly looked alarmed.

“Does that mean we’re going to jail?” Airi asked.

“You’ll never put us in the slammer!”

“Normally yes,” Kato intervened before the two could get too excited. “But you’ve mad bail.” Kato got up from his seat and walked towards the wall. The two metal doors slid open once again with Grandma Ai and Grandpa Ryuzaki on the other side.

“Grandma Ai!” Airi exclaimed. She and Kenji were suddenly on their feet, rushing towards the two. Their arms flew in the air and wrapped around Grandma Ai.

“You’re lucky we hadn’t left yet,” Ryuzaki grumbled.

“Grandma Ai, it was terrible!” Kenji exclaimed, clutching her tightly.

“It’s okay Kenji,” Ai replied, bombarded as she pat Kenji on the back. Airi looked over towards her grandfather and wrapped her arms around him.

“Grandpa I’m sorry.”

Kato stepped out of the room, the wall still wide open.

“If you’ll excuse me, we still have one more witness to deal with.”

“Thank you Kato,” Grandma Ai said. Kato merely nodded before leaving the four in the interrogation room.

* * *

Lei kept her focus on the ground as she and Kato walked through the halls. She was silent which wasn’t surprising. But her rushed footsteps and overtly sour look were something new.

“Hey, you okay? I can handle this one if you want,” Kato suggested as they approached one of the interrogation rooms.

“I’m fine.” Her voice was hoarse. She placed her hand on the metal wall.

“You sure?” Lei took a deep breath.


The door opened and Lei walked in. Kato watched until the walls behind her closed before making his way across the hall towards the other interrogation room.

* * *

Lei and Taho sat on opposites sides of one another with Taho’s hands handcuffed to the metal table between them. Neither spoke as Lei folded her papers neatly.

“You will be held here for ninety days until your trial. Any questions?” Her voice was as sharp as ice. Taho tried to move his hands but found it difficult to do so, him being strapped in and all.

“Listen Lei, I—“

“Save it,” Lei glowered. Taho shrugged as he backed off or, at least, attempted to. He was finding it very difficult to communicate. “Apologies will do you no good.”

“I wasn’t gonna apologize,” Taho explained and now, his voice was earnest. Lei raised her brow. “I was gonna ask for a favor.”

Lei scoffed.

“You have no right to ask for favors.” There was disgust in her voice and she practically threw her paperwork on the table.

“This is important. It’s about Dakota.” Taho was becoming agitated. His wrists banged against the metal cuffs.

“What about her?”

“I need ya to bring her somewhere safe.” Lei didn’t say anything and averted her eyes. “Face it. You and I both know my goose is cooked.” Lei was silent for a moment.

“What you are asking me to do is out of my jurisdiction.”

“To hell with your jurisdiction!” Taho pushed his chair over as he tried to stand up. “If you don’t get her out of there, there’s no tellin what the Red Monsoons will do.”

The two stared at one another, long and hard.

* * *

Shiki waited in a room alone with nothing but a chair and small table. He was completely and utterly still as he nervously waited for the doors to open.

They were going to send him to the orphanage now. He just knew it. He had nowhere to go. No family to speak of. And he was pretty sure the Old Man was either long gone or didn’t want anything to do with him anymore.

The door opened. Shiki tried to stop himself from jumping in his seat. It was hard to tell whether or not he succeeded as the officer didn’t give any hints.

“Okay, you’re free to go.” Kato said. Shiki was surprised. He must have shown it. “There’s someone here to pick you up. He’s waiting in the lobby.”

Kato gestured for Shiki to follow him. Eager to get out of the slammer, even if he was completely innocent, Shiki high tailed it out of the room. They didn’t walk very far down the halls and Shiki was glad. The cops were too intimidating for his taste.

“You’re missing person has been found safe.” Kato said to someone in the lobby. Shiki peeked over. It was the Old Man.

“Thank you,” the Old Man replied. Suddenly, the comfort of the police officer was gone. One minute he was there, and the next, he was off doing whatever it was police officers do.

Shiki approached the Old Man slowly. He didn’t look at him directly.


“Let’s go home.” It wasn’t condescending. It wasn’t badgering. It was a simple statement. The Old Man didn’t even wait for Shiki to answer. He was already turning to leave.


* * *

It was morning. Another day in Republic City. Some shady business had been reported from the night before. Somewhere downtown. Some looked through the paper and skimmed the article. Some commented on it to their husband or wife or co-worker or friend. Maybe for a good five minutes the conversation went on if they were in a talkative mood.

And then the story vanished and suddenly nobody cared. There were more important things to deal with in Republic City after all.

“Well, it’s good to be back to normal,” Kenji remarked as he and Airi walked down the street.

“Yea, normal’s good,” Airi replied.

They were now in front of the entrance to the theater. Airi made her way up the stairs. Kenji followed but stopped midway. He only reached the first stair.

“What’s wrong?” Airi asked as she turned around.

“Airi,” Kenji said, “Will you marry me?”

They looked at one another as the satomobiles and street cars rolled by. As the paper boys shouted and thugs cursed at one another. As the city remained as it was and how it had been five years ago.
Airi smiled.

“I thought you’d never ask.”

* * *

It was the lowest of the low in terms of residence. To say ‘the building was falling apart’ would be an understatement. But such was the city life. Especially for those who chose to handle their business and affairs in a more underground type setting.

A woman was passed out on a couch in one of the rooms. The room was in shambles just like the rest but had a few good pieces of furniture. Probably from that underground business. A girl slept in the other room. Probably napping. Probably ditching school. Or rather, not attending school because the woman was incapable of taking her there.

A knock on the door. An assertive knock. There was a pause then another knock. But the woman did not answer the door. The girl was fast asleep and did not answer either.

The door burst open. Lei stood in the doorway with Kato behind her.

* * *

Shiki followed the Old Man as they walked down the street. It was a decent neighborhood and Shiki was trying to figure out what exactly they were doing there. But he couldn’t really find anything to give it away.

Finally, the Old Man stopped in the street. He moved over to the side to the let the people walk by.

“Well, here you go,” the Old Man said as he took out 40 yuans from his pocket and handed it to Shiki. Shiki stared at the money unsure what to do with it exactly. “Our deal, remember? That’s exactly what I had in my pocket. No lie.” Shiki remained silent. What was he supposed to say? What was he supposed to do now that he had the 40 yuans in his possession?

“Thanks,” was what eventually came out of Shiki’s mouth. The Old Man scoffed.

“There’s one more thing. Think of it as a bonus for making it this far.” Shiki raised a brow. The Old Man began walking up the stairs to an apartment. He motioned for Shiki to follow. The Old Man knocked on the door. They waited.

A man in his mid-forties answered. He seemed decent enough but Shiki still couldn’t figure out the Old Man’s angle.
“Shiki, this is Ren.” The name suddenly clicked. “He’s in charge of—“

“The Ren House,” Shiki answered. Orphanage.

Shiki backed away. He couldn’t help it.

Ren came forward and bent down so he was now on Shiki’s level.

“Shiki, I’ve heard a lot about you,” Ren said. Shiki didn’t say anything. “You’re supposedly a lot like me when I was your age. So Lee and I have been talking and we’re wondering if maybe you’d like to come and live with my wife and I.”

Again, silence. Mostly because Shiki was trying to figure out who the hell Lee was.

“I figured you’d rather stay here with someone that can take better care of you than being stuck with an old coot like me in the middle of nowhere,” the Old Man explained. And suddenly Shiki understood.

Shiki took his paperboy hat and pulled down the cap. He rested his head on Lee’s chest. He didn’t say anything as tears fell down his face.

* * *

Ren led Shiki into the apartment and the warmth of the kitchen. Shiki sat at a table with a bowl of rice already made. He took off his hat and placed it on the table.

A girl sat next to him. She was younger.

“Hi,” she said. She wasn’t eating anything, just drinking a nice tall glass of some beverage.


“I’m Dakota, what’s your name?”


* * *

It’s a city that never sleeps. Where you have to be fast if you want to catch it. Where sometimes it’s all about luck and chance and fate or whatever it is you believe in. Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes they do. But one thing’s for certain: Republic City is one hell of a ride.
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