Korra took Hiroshi up on his offer and that Saturday drove to the Sato estate along with Naga who sat in the passenger seat, content with the wind blowing through her fur. The Equalist Glove, which remained stashed in her closet, was still very much on her mind but she tried her best not to let it consume her thoughts.
That was until she heard on the radio that the police, acting on an anonymous tip, had raided the Cabbage Corps storage warehouses that morning and had ound Equalist equipment and printed material within the the building.
Korra had switched off the radio just as the owner of Cabbage Corps was lamenting his arrest and loss of his company.
"Not my Cabbage Cor--"
Part of Korra was relieved that she could stop being so paranoid about her colleagues being in league with the Equalists.
But on the other hand: Cabbage Corps?
She thoroughly examined the electric glove and she could not fathom Cabbage Corps constructing such a device without shorting out or blowing the operator's hand off.
Korra switched on the radio and turned it to an all music station. She had a plan that would settle the matter once and for all. But it would have to wait until later.
"Korra," said Hiroshi said cheerfully as the butler showed Korra into the study, "Glad you could make it. Hello Naga," he said rubbing the canine's head.
"You're chipper today," observed Korra, "Anything to do with our competition's apparent demise?"
Hiroshi adjusted his glasses. "Although I hate to see all those workers lose their jobs and the old man sent to jail, you have to admit it's an advantage for us." Korra gave him a sour look. "That's business Korra," he said with a shrug.
"I just can't believe it. Cabbage Corps?"
"I'm just as shocked as you are."
"But why," asked Korra.
"I suppose we'll find out once the investigation starts.” Hiroshi returned his attention to the papers on his desk, clearly no longer interested in the subject.
Korra ran a hand through her hair. Like her boss she too wanted to discuss other matters. "I guess. So how's Asami doing?"
"Fine. That is as far as I can tell. You know how it is. Kids tell their parents that they're fine when they're really not."
Korra nodded. "I have plenty of experience with that. That is basically my whole adolescence."
"But I think being home and us spending some time together has been good for her." The cheerful expression on his face soured. "Of course now we have new house guests."
"Have they broken anything yet," asked Korra. While glad that Mako and Bolin had found a new place to live following the attack on the arena and its classification as a crime scene she was also concern given the amount of expensive and priceless items in the Sato household. Priceless, fragile items and Bolin had a knack for being overly curious and clumsy: a dangerous combination.
"Thankfully no but there have been some close calls." Hiroshi's eyes narrowed at Korra, which made her feel very uneasy. He had never given her that look before. "You didn't tell me they had a ferret."
Korra smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of her neck. "Whoops. Uhh I better go join them,” she said backing slowly towards the door.
"Pool room," Hiroshi said with a resigned sigh, "Something tells me the staff will want a pay increase."
"KORRA," three voices chorused as she entered the indoor pool room.
"Woof," barked Naga wagging her tail.
"Hey," said Korra taking a seat in one of the deck chairs.
"This is the best," yelled Bolin, "we have own our rooms, delicious food, and I don't have to hear Mako snore."
"You're the one who snores Bolin. I will find a way to document it," said Mako.
Asami swam over to the pool's edge. Korra's heart raced as she did. She couldn't make out Asami's form underneath the water but her imagination ran while with what kind of swimsuit she was wearing. She knew it was strapless for one thing, which observing Asami from the shoulders up gave the appearance that she wasn't anything at al--
"So how are you Korra," asked Asami.
"I think how you're doing is more important," said Korra shifting a bit in the chair.
"Oh I'm fine," she said although she wasn't really. She knew this little resting period was going to end soon and she would be back to annoying Chief Beifong about stopping Equalists, who surprisingly had been quiet since the attack at the arena. "I hear you're going to test out the new roadster today." Korra smiled and nodded. "Why don't you relax a for bit and join us?"
Korra's temperature rose another degree. "Oh. Uhh. Would love to but I didn't bring a swimsuit."
"Underwear then," shouted Bolin before being splashed by Mako.
"I think we have some spare ones in the changing room closet," said Asami, who was on a mission to see some skin from Korra. She has already seen her biceps the night they met at the gala. "We have them for when Dad is entertaining guests and potential business partners."
This Korra knew as Hiroshi often had parties at his estate for both partners and employees. Sometimes she would make an appearance, particularly after she won the Great Trans Race. She usually didn’t say anything at these events, just smiled for the investors and it was Hiroshi who rattled off the technical specs of whatever car he was showing off. It did annoy her that she was being presented merely as a driver but Hiroshi to his credit did apologize and to make up for allowed her to talk about future projects in detail during press conferences.
"Oh. Well. I'll go uhh see what I can find," said Korra getting up and walking towards the changing room, not knowing Asami's eyes were following her the entire time. That is until something big and white obscured her view. Naga panted and wagged her tail.
"Hello cutie," said Asami reaching upwards to pet her, "Aww you look so beautiful today." Naga lied down by the edge of the pool so Asami could pet her.
Aside from some birds Asami really didn't have any pets growing up although there had been discussions. The birds were a peace offering from her father when a request for a dog or cat was rejected. It didn't really work as Hiroshi was more invested in the birds than Asami was. Eventually the birdcage was moved to another room. This was during the period after her mother's death and the two of them were trying to come to grips with her absence.
Naga soaked up the attention, her tail whacking against the tiled floor.
On the opposite side of the pool Pabu looked in jealously but decided to focus on the bowl of grapes he was currently lying in.
In the changing room Korra picked out the most modest swimsuit she could find: a navy blue one-piece suit. "It'll do," she said to herself. She walked into the nearest changing room and removed her jacket.
"So are you excited to be working next to your girlfriend," teased Bolin.
Mako shrugged, "I guess."
Asami turned to Mako, still rubbing the spot behind Naga's ear. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. We probably won't be seeing much of each other since she's engineering and I'm assembly. Besides I think we should be helping Asami out with Amon."
"Come again," asked Asami.
"Oh yeah," cheered Bolin, "Team Avatar Mark II!"
Asami did not know quite how to feel about this. She felt guilty that not long after she had met the pair they had been dragged into this business with the Eqaulists. "You guys don't need to that. I’ve gotten you two in enough trouble. Isn't it enough that Bolin was kidnapped and you two lost your residence?"
"I'm over it," said Bolin leaning out of the pool to grab some grapes from the bowl Pabu was lounging in and popping them into his mouth, "besides we live here."
"Temporarily," she said firmly, "And you can thank me for that. Dad holds important functions here. Imagine if a business dinner was disrupted by Pabu scurrying across the table."
"We'll move out as soon as some money come our way," assured Mako.
"I happily would've set you two up in an apartment."
"It's fine," said Mako before turning away.
Asami was still quite confused how Mako and Bolin went from orphans to homeless. Why weren't they placed in a new home or orphange? She remembered the city orphanages as one of the places her Mother had worked to raise money for. When she asked Mako a couple weeks ago about Bolin and him being in foster care he simply replied, "For a little while."
Something caught Bolin's eye and he responded by letting a loud wolf whistle.
"Shut it Bo!" Korra had been trying to discreetly retake her seat in the lounge chair.
Asami turned to see Korra standing over her. The suit was very form fitting and Asami could see just how fit Korra was. The only other time she was able to tell that when she was wearing that sleeveless dress at the gala. Every other time she had that damn Future Industries jacket on. Then of course there was her chest, which had Asami had already noted before. She wishes more than anything that everyone else was gone and Korra was lying back in one of the lounge chairs with her on top—
Spirits help me.
After twenty minutes of fooling around in the pool, during which Korra and Asami successfully managed to get Naga onto a floating lounge chair, Korra offered an invitation to the test track. Naga opted to lounge by the pool.
Asami, Mako and Bolin headed for the track while Korra split from the group, telling them she would meet them there. Already on the track was a driver and Future Industries' racer from two years ago. The same model that Korra had used to win The Great Trans Race.
The trio sat in the stands as they waited. A servant came by with drinks. Down the track came the roar of an engine and within seconds a sleek new roadster came driving up with Korra behind the wheel.
Bolin whistled. "Nice wheels Korra."
"Now to put it to the test,"said Korra putting on her driving goggles.
"Do you have an extra helmet," asked Asami stepping forward.
Korra looked confused. "Uhh I don't have one on me but I'm sure I can," she paused as Asami climbed into the backseat, "ask for one."
"Haru could get me a helmet and pair of goggles?" The servant who had been serving the group lemonade nodded and walked briskly away to fetch the requested items.
Korra turned to face Asami. "Asami you know this is an untested vehicle."
"I know," she said fastening her seat belt, "I've been in cars since I was toddler and Dad started driving around the track with me when I was five. Mom wasn't pleased with that."
"Well now your father isn't going to be pleased with me."
"Really? Because he doesn't appear to be," Asami said with a nod.
Korra turned and saw Hiroshi in the stands with Bolin and Mako holding a pair of binoculars. He gave the two women a smile and wave.
Asami waved back. Haru quickly re-appeared with a helmet and goggles. "Thank you Haru." Haru bowed and exited the track. "Well Ms. Korra of the Southern Water Tribe," she said as she fastened her helmet, "I hear you're a pretty good driver."
Korra gave her smile and nodded. "Pretty good."
"Prove it," said Asami with a grin.
Korra nodded and quickly turned around, hoping to hide her blushing face. She reached into her jacket and pulled out her driving gloves. She turned to the driver of the other racer Kondo, who was a seven years older than her and had been testing Satomobiles for quite a number of years, well before Korra joined the company. During that time he had been in a number of scraps although nothing too serious. Despite that Kondo was always willing to roll a vehicle if needed.
"Don't go easy on me."
Kondo gave her a smirk. "Since when have I ever gone easy on you? Just don’t try and roll this one.”
“What did you say,” asked a slightly alarmed Asami.
“What,” shouted Korra as she revved the engine. She secured a stopwatch next to her speedometer. She looked over to the light signal, waiting for it to go green.
The second the signal flashed green she put her foot down on the pedal. After a loud squealing of the tires on the asphalt, which sent the smell of burning tires into the air as well into the nostrils of the drivers plus Asami, the two racers lurched forward and then they were off.
Korra heard an gasp from the backseat. She grinned and quickly shifted the car into the next gear. Once the car reached 70 miles per hour the stopwatch on her dashboard would stop, recording the time it would take the vehicle to reach that speed. Korra put all of this out of her mind as they came to first turn.
While Korra's racer easily outperformed the older model on the straightaway, turns proved to be difficult. There was a moment of panic when she thought the racer might actually roll so she downshifted into second, watching the older model whip past her. She made a mental note to take into account weight distribution when she got to the workshop.
For now she had a race to win.
She managed to gain some ground as they past the halfway point. The last turn leading into the final stretch wasn't as severe as the previous ones so Korra didn't lose any speed.
After making the turn both vehicles were now neck and neck as they neared the finish line. Kondo gained some distance ahead of them and started to play with them by blocking their path. Korra rolled her eyes and attempted to navigate around. With the finishing line within a hundred yards she managed to pull around Kondo and put her foot down onto pedal pushing the racer to its top speed of 105 miles per hour.
As they crossed the finish line Asami let out a big ‘Yahoo!’ as Korra slowed the vehicle down and pulled into the service pit. She put it in park and checked her stopwatch. It had stopped at 8.2 seconds. Korra smiled and tap her hand on the steering wheel. "Not bad."
"That was amazing," said Asami as she climbed out of her seat. "Spirits I thought my stomach was going to shift into another plane of existence when we took off."
Korra smiled and unfastened her helmet. "Hope you didn't have lunch earlier."
"Luckily I did-" Asami paused to watch Korra take off her helmet and let her long brown hair fall down around her shoulders. "-n't."
Korra brushed aside some strands of hair from her eyes. "Probably wouldn't want to now."
Asami cleared her throat, hoping that Korra hadn’t noticed her staring. It was quickly becoming a habit. "For a second I thought your colleague was going to win."
"What can I say," asked Korra with a big adorable grin, "sometimes I surprise myself."
"You have to take me another test sometime because that was frankly amazing."
Korra bowed. "It would be my pleasure Ms. Sato."
Their moment was interrupted by the arrival of Hiroshi, Mako and Bolin.
"Well," asked Hiroshi.
Korra turned and twirled the stopwatch around her finger. "70 in 8.2 seconds."
Hiroshi beamed. "I think I can see a new trophy in our display case."
Korra ran a hand through her hair. "I don't know. She needs a lot of work. She doesn't do corners well and seeing as the roads around Omashu is nothing but winding roads I think we would be trailing--"
Hiroshi clapped a hand on her shoulder. "Korra. Don't ruin the moment. Of course it'll need some tweaks here and there. Besides the competition is far off. You have plenty of time to work out the kinks."
Korra paused for moment, collecting her thoughts and when she spoke it was in a clam even voice. "Mr. Sato you know I've been wanting to move to airplanes. This was suppose to be my last project for the Satomobile division."
"And you will. Once this all finished," he tap the hood of the racer, "I approve your transfer."
Korra eyes narrowed. "I built a new engine and modified the car body," she said firmly, "And here it is. It works. It's fast. There are plenty of other people who can fine tune it."
Hiroshi recognized she was getting upset so he attempted to use charm. "You are correct in that there are those who can continue your fine work. But no one has the gifts you have. I need that magic of yours to ensure we leave everyone in the dust."
Korra was quiet for a long time, turning back to the racer and running her hand along the hood. Finally she turned to the mechanic Chiba. "Hey Chib."
"Yeah," he said stepping out of the small garage, whipping his hands with a rag.
"Have this delivered back to my workshop." She dumped her helmet onto the driver's seat and walked away without a word. She heard Hiroshi, Bolin and then Asami call after her but she kept on walking.
The drive back to the city was a quiet one. Naga slept in the back seat. Korra regretted how she left but soon something else was occupying her thoughts. Something that she had managed to put out of mind for the past two hours but had reared up and now Korra felt that lurch in her stomach.
When she reached the city she made the decision to deviate from the route that would take her home.
She needed to know for sure and had an idea of where she might find the answer.
Around eight o’clock the following evening Lin Beifong was about half way finished with her report on the raid at Cabbage Corps' facilities and when her phone rang.
There was a long silence before a soft hesitant voice answered. "I have some information regarding the Equalist."
Lin put down her pen and leaned forward onto her desk. "May I ask who's calling?"
There was a pause.
"Rather not say at the moment. We've met before…briefly." The person on the other end, whom Lin determined as a woman attempting to deepen her voice but not really succeeding at it, paused for a few moments before speaking again. "Cabbage Corp wasn't involved in supplying then Equalists with their tech. Well," the caller dropped the put-on voice, "they could have but they'd mostly hurt themselves than others. Anyway I have proof of who's responsible. Interested?"
"Genji's on Cherry Hill. One hour." The voice paused again. "Bring Councilman Tenzin with you."
Lin's eyebrows narrowed. "Tenzin? Why?"
"Because he needs to hear this as well."
Lin sighed as she dropped the receiver onto its cradle. Her fingers massaged her temples. She really didn't need this.
She picked up the receiver and started dialing.
"Sorry again about all of this," said Lin as her and Tenzin and climbed off Oogi.
"It's no problem. Besides you know much I love meeting informants late at night," quipped Tenzin, which earned him a raised eyebrow from Lin.
"You using sarcasm? That's rare."
Tenzin shrugged. "I guess a little of Uncle Sokka rubbed off on me." He looked ahead at the small restaurant ahead of them. "Well its better than the usual dark alley."
Immediately upon entering Genji's the two were assaulted by the smell of hookah smoke combined with various smells coming from the kitchen. The open room had a thick layer of haze. Patrons huddled around small tables, illuminated by small lamps. They were approached by the host: a tall, stick-like man with a gaunt face whom may have been an insect in a previous life.
"Your party is waiting for you," said the man, pointing towards a small room off to the side.
"How did you--", Lin began to ask.
"The young lady's description of her two party members was quite descriptive.”
Tenzin and Lin exchanged glances before walking to the door and sliding it open. Seated before them downing a shot of sake was Future Industries star engineer.
You," said Tenzin and Lin in astonishment.
Korra put up her hands up and waved them. "Surprise!" Her excited expression immediately dropped and now she look depressed or drunk, possibly a combination of the two. "Close the door have a seat," she said downing another shot.
"You said you had something some information," asked Lin as Tenzin sat on the floor. Lin remained standing, arms crossed until Tenzin waved for her to have a seat. She rolled her eyes and sat. The door opened and a waitress came in and set some cups of tea on the table. When the waitress left Korra reached under the table and produced a shoebox. She placed it on the table and opened it.
Inside was the Equalist Glove.
"Where did you get that," asked Lin in a low voice clearly not pleased that Korra had the device to begin with, her eyes moving from the device on the table upwards to Korra.
Such a look would’ve naturally intimidated Korra but the alcohol in her system combined with the looming sense of dread had dulled whatever part of her which would have wilted under such an intense gaze. "Got it off an Equalist at the tournament," she quickly held up her hand, "Please spare me your citations. I know I could get in serious trouble for having this. But there is a reason why I called you here rather than chucking this thing into the bay." She downed another shot. "I know who made it."
Lin and Tenzin stared at her, awaiting the answer.
Korra rolled her eyes. "Spirits do I need to spell it out?” She watched as the expressions on the two changed as the realization hit them.
“You’re kidding,” said Lin, sitting up, her tough demeanor gone replaced with genuine shock.
“Future Industries,” asked Tenzin, eyes wide with disbelief.
"Correct. There's no way Cabbage Corps built this," said Korra, "I took this home because I wanted to see how it worked. Natural curiosity and well you know what they say about too much curiosity and it's affect on cats." Glancing down at the table she pushed forward a small saucer of brown liquid. “By the way either one of you want to try this szechuan sauce? It’s really good.”
"What evidence do you have Future Industries was responsible for making this," asked Lin.
Korra took the glove out of the box and proceeded to disassemble it. After a few minutes she held a small circuit in the palm of her hand. "This is the key component. Without it the device doesn't work." She handed it to Lin. "It's also the only piece which has any kind of identification mark on it."
Lin took the circuit and put on a pair of readings glasses. "27B/6.”
"The next day I asked about it, the circuit that is, and I'm told it doesn't exist and someone is pulling my leg. So last night I snuck into our parts warehouse and lo-and-behold its on the inventory list." Korra placed a folder on the table and opened it. Inside were a series of black and white photographs. She handed them to Lin. "Went to the section where they’re supposed to be stored and they weren’t there. I did some more digging around yesterday afternoon to the patent office and went through their records. Sure enough I found some of kind of record of the circuit. Patent filed by Omar Tezuka who I tracked down. Teaches engineering at Kobe City University in the Fire Nation. He developed the circuit while working as a consultant at Future Industries five years ago."
"Which means--", said Tenzin, anxiously stroking his beard.
Korra finished his thought. "The circuit was built internally. Nor is it generally available unless specifically ordered. Tezuka created the first two working versions of it. He left after that. Last he heard of it was that they were going to do some more modifications on it." She pulled out a file. "It's all here." She slid the file across the table and began reassembling the Equalist glove.
Lin looked at Tenzin. "I'll go see a judge tomorrow and get a warrant."
"I don't know what I’m going to tell Asami," said Tenzin rubbing his temple.
"Don't tell her anything,” said Lin firmly.
"I don't think Asami could handle what happened with Cabbage Corps. Imagine Asami watching her father being hauled off while the press watch.”
"At this point we don’t know if the Hiroshi is even involved. We're just conducting a search. No one is going to be arrested. At least not yet." Lin turned to Korra. "What do you think? Think Sato is involved or just some of his employees."
Korra gently fiddled with an empty shot glass. "I don't know. I hope it's neither but if I had to guess it would be the latter. Asami is his daughter. This Amon clearly wants her out of the way. Hiroshi would never allow anyone to hurt her."
Lin stood up. "Well I certainly appreciate your help Kor--"
Lin reached for the box with the glove inside. Korra pulled it away from her and looked her right in the eye. "I didn't give you this," she said firmly, "Understand?"
Lin looked at her and gave her a nod. "Understood."
Korra handed her the box and took another shot. Her consumption of alcohol throughout the evening was now starting to catch up with her.
"Do you have a ride home," asked Lin as Tenzin got off the floor.
"I'll get a cab."
Korra didn't recall anything either of them said after that. Sometime after they left she got up, paid the bill and stepped into the chilly night. As she waited for a cab she cast suspicious looks at the dark buildings around her. She wondered if Lin or Tenzin had been followed. What if Lin's phone had been bugged? What if someone at Future Industries has someone tailing her?
Nonsense. This was all delusional nonsense.
Still she didn't feel safe until she was back in her apartment twenty minutes later.
Naga sensed something was wrong and snuggled up against her in bed. Korra gently stroked her canine companion's head all the while thinking of what was to come next. One thing she was sure of was that Asami must never find out it was her who dug all of this information up and tipped off the authorities.
She drifted off to sleep thinking of ways to genuinely act shocked when the police showed up tomorrow at work.
"Can you believe this," asked one of Korra's co-workers the following day when, as expected, the police came to search Future Industries' facilities which included Future Industries Tower (where Korra worked), their manufacturing plant, their warehouses by the docks, and the airfield up in the mountains.
"No I don't," answered Korra, "and it's pissing me off. I have work to do and there's four cops poking around my workshop."
Naturally the press caught wind of what was going on and was waiting outside when Hiroshi pulled up in front of the building. Hiroshi was calm and collected as he swarmed by reporters.
After a barrage of questions yelled at him Hiroshi just smiled. "Is there something I can help you all with?" That earned a chuckle from the press. "Ladies and gentlemen I know of the police department's search of my company's facilities. Naturally one of my employees informed me of the search half an hour ago. Myself and my staff are cooperating with the police as we have nothing to hide." Lin Beifong was standing a yard away talking with some of her officers. "I feel our esteemed chief of police believes she can accomplish a repeat performance of her raid on Cabbage Corps and to make up for her department's complete failure at providing security during the Probending Tournament." Lin turned towards him and gave him a look that had been long practiced and refined. Alas it had no effect on the industrialist who simply smiled and bowed his head. "But I'll permit the police to conduct their search."
Korra had watched the scene earlier from above via the windows of the canteen. Hiroshi received a smattering of applause from the employees who gathered to watch their boss' arrival.
By two o’clock the police had finished searching Korra's workshop and she promptly kicked them out. As always she dove right into her work deciding to do some tuning to the racer.
"Well," she asked Hiroshi when he stopped by around four.
"Well what," asked Hiroshi confused.
"The police. Did they find anything?"
"Oh that. Nope. Nothing," said Hiroshi as he sat behind the wheel of the racer.
"Thank spirits," she said taking a sip of cold coffee. "I'm sorry but I'm going to start developing ulcers soon."
"Wait till you have kids Korra," he ran his hand along the dashboard, "you wouldn't happen to know why the police came by do you?"
Keep. Calm. Korra shrugged. "No. You know me I keep to myself in here. Only time I hear about is going on is in the canteen."
"And you haven't heard anything?"
She shook her head. "No. Should I have?"
Hiroshi sighed. "I don't know. I had a feeling that after the Cabbage Corps raid they'd come for me."
Korra leaned on the side of the car, her voice a whisper. "You don't think...you know, someone here is in league with—”
"Korra I honestly don't know what to think," he sighed and become to polish his glasses, something he did when he was in deep thought or nervous.
Korra rubbed her face and sighed. "Bet Asami didn't take the news that the police were here well."
"I sent her off to go train with Councilman Tenzin. Believe me she wanted to be here but I knew better especially with the press here." He tapped the steering wheel. "But let's not dwell on such things. Tell me about your progress."
It was around eight that night that Asami got a call from her father asking to come home and that had sent a car to pick her up at the ferry terminal. After hanging up the phone Asami thanked Pema for the meal and bid goodnight to her, Tenzin and the kids and rushed down to the docks to catch the ferry.
Korra was awakened by her phone. She had fallen asleep at her desk. She groaned and rubbed a hand through her hair before grappling for the phone.
"Alright, alright," she growled as she pushed aside some papers and retrieved the phone. "Yeah?”
"Mr. Sato," she looked at the clock, "Bit late isn't it? Unless you're calling to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep...which I didn't."
"I need you to stop by the house before you head home tonight," he said.
Alarm bells sounded in her head. "Oh. Sure. Something up?"
"I've been thinking about the future of the company and I wanted to run a few things by you."
Korra had that familiar sinking feeling in her gut. Even if Hiroshi has come up with a better excuse for her to come to the Sato estate, the ominous tone of his voice would've still tipped her off. "I'll be right over,” she said calmly. There was no response from the other end before the call ended.
She threw on her coat and exited the building as fast as she could. Once outside she found the closest working phone booth and called Lin. She told her she believed she was walking into a trap. Lin said she would have her force on stand by. Next she called the Sato estate to try and get in touch with Bolin and Mako. After a few moments a voice answered on the other end.
Korra, familiar with the staff, didn't recognize the voice.
"May I speak with Mako please?"
"He's not in. May I take a message," the voice said in a gruff tone. Clearly not one of the house staff.
"No thanks. I'll call back tomorrow. Thank you."
She hung up the phone and dialed for the operator.
"Air Temple Island please."
An air acolyte picked up the phone. After a short wait, which seemed agonizingly slow to Korra, Tenzin got on the line.
"It’s Korra. Is Asami there?"
"She just headed home."
Korra cursed, told Tenzin to call Lin and tore out of the phone booth. She jumped into her car and gunned the engine.
"Hello," asked Asami entering the main hall. She didn't see any of their servants. "Must've given them the night off." There was a note on a table in the middle of the foyer.
'Come to my study - Dad'
Asami proceeded up the stairs. This was unusual. Normally he would meet her at the door. She feared that he had bad news for her. But she couldn't think of what it could be. Maybe it had something to do with the police search this morning.
Korra pulled her car off to the side of the road just outside the main gate. Climbing on top of the hood she jumped and climbed over the wall. Landing on the other side she looked around. Everything appeared to be normal. There was however a large glow in the woods off to the side of the mansion.
Are the test track lights on?
She debated with herself whether to go to the house but she decided to investigate the source of the lights.
Asami knocked on the door to her father's study.
Asami opened the door. Her father was sitting at his desk. "Hey Dad where is--"
She paused. Her father wasn't the only one in the room. Flanking him on each side were tall figures dressed in red and black jumpsuits. The one on the right she recognized mainly due to his mustache. He was the Equalist member she fought on the arena roof. The other figure was one that had haunted her dreams.
It was Amon.
"I'm sorry Asami," said Hiroshi Sato before Asami felt a sharp pain in the back of her neck and then felt her body went numb. She blacked out before she hit the floor.
"Oh spirits." Korra watched from the tree line as a section of the ground open up in front of her. From within inside a mechanical lift ascended with six mechs. They were very similar to the Future Industries power loaders except these ones were armed. Each came to life and rolled off the lift before the lift descended again.
They must be clearing out.
She looked up and saw an airship approaching. She was willingly to bet it wasn't the police.
I need to call Beifong.
She looked back to the house and then suddenly an idea struck her. She looked back at the descending lift. She glanced around and walked out from her cover.
This is stupid. This is stupid. This stupid.
The covering was starting to close. Korra ran as fast as she could, rolled to the ground and fell through just before the doors closed. She landed hard on her side. It took effort not to let out a scream. She got to her feet. Her sides throbbed with pain. It didn't feel like anything was broken. She looked around for cover to which there was none. Yep this was definitely stupid. The elevator slowed down as it reached the bottom and Korra expected to come face to face with an army of goons. Luckily no one was waiting for the elevator. A large metallic door opened and she let an audible gasp. The cavernous room she found herself in was filled with mechs, each one with the Equalist symbol enshrined on it.
There was no doubt now about Hiroshi's involvement now. It was her worst fears fully realized. But she couldn't dwell on that now. She had to send in the cavalry and find Asami.
She quickly ducked behind some crates, fear and adrenaline aiding in getting her aching body to move. They were Equalists here and there, some in uniform and some in white jumpsuits. Korra moved quietly though thankfully none of the men were close to her and were busy packing crates. This gave her an idea. She grabbed a crate and after some effort as well as pain from the side of her body that she fell on she managed to pry open the top. She winced when the top made an audible CRACK! when it came off. The room was already full of various noises so thankfully the crate opening didn't draw any suspicion.
Korra threw aside the packing material and found underneath stacks of electric gloves. She put one on and switched it on. The lights on the panel lit up and felt the hum of the battery. She felt better now that she was armed.
After a few minutes of sneaking around she found a door to an office. She opened it and found inside an Equalist but more importantly a phone. She closed the door behind her and approached the Equalist sitting at the desk. She clapped a hand on his back.
"Hi there! Mind if I use the phone?"
Korra gave him a good shock. He fell forward, his head hitting the desk with a thud.
"Thank you. So very kind." She grabbed the phone and dialed. The dispatch at police headquarters quickly connected to the chief’s office.
"Chief, Korra. I'm at the Sato estate. The place is crawling with Equalists. Hiroshi has an underground warehouse and its full of weapons and mechs. I think they're pulling out tonight. Send in everything you got."
"We're on our way."
"Any sign of Asami,” acquired another voice on the other end. It was Tenzin.
"She's probably at the house. I'll go get her and Mako and Bolin if they're there."
Asami could hear her father's voice. It sounded far away but it gradually got closer and clearer.
"We had an agreement! My daughter was not to be harmed in any way!"
"I'm aware of our agreement," said someone in a deep voice.
"But she is a threat to our plans if you don't make her understand."
"Then give me a chance," hissed Hiroshi. Asami opened her eyes a little. At first all she saw was red. She was lying on the floor staring at the red carpet rug in the center of her father's study. She looked up and saw her father approached the two men: Amon and what appeared to be one of his top men. Amon's companion stepped in front of Hiroshi, blocking him. Hiroshi in a surprise display of strength shoved him aside. He pointed a finger angrily up at Amon who was at two feet taller than the elder Sato. "Don't you forget if it wasn't for me you'd be still standing on your little box in the park. If it wasn't for my inventions you'd be rotting in Beifong's cells. We made this arrangement based on ideals but also on an agreement. No harm comes to my daughter. Don't break it!"
There was a long silence in the room apart from the ticking of the grandfather clock.
"I have honored our arrangement as best as I could and I appreciate the tremendous service you have done for our cause," said Amon, "But we are the crossroad now. You knew this was coming." Hiroshi lowered his head. "Make her understand. You know what we have to do if she doesn't join us." Hiroshi nodded. He took off his glasses and wiped them.
"I think she's coming around," said Amon's aide.
Hiroshi turned and gently kneeled down on the ground and lowered his head so he was eye level with her. She closed eyes in response, her head still throbbing from the blow. "Asami," he asked gently. Her eyes opened and met his gaze.
"Dad," she said softly, "what have you done?"
Hiroshi sighed. "I'm sorry Asami. I know this difficult to understand--"
"You been supplying these thugs," asked Asami, her voice rising. "Why? Did they threaten you?"
"As difficult as this might be to believe but I'm helping Amon because I agree with him." His expression turned serious. "I am an Equalist."
Asami stared at him for a long time. She closed her eyes. She hoped that this was a nightmare. That she would wake up in her room and everything would be fine. The mere sight of her father standing next to Amon was reason enough to believe that it was all a product of her mind. She shook away these thoughts and concentrated, trying to block everything else out.
Aang. Aang I need you.
"Asami, listen to me," said Hiroshi, "You know just as well as I do that nonbenders are treated like dirt. We raise a hand to protect ourselves and we're locked away while Triads are allowed to freely roam the streets to rob and terrorize. You've seen what this city is like! Think of your mother!" This got Asami's attention. "It was benders who took away your mother." He scoffed. "They didn't get justice. Just locked away."
"B-But I thought they died," she asked, horrified to know that her mother's killers were still alive somewhere.
"That's what everyone was told. This is what I'm saying. There is no justice anymore. Unless you're a bender."
"And you think taking away people's bending is justice?”
"I expected as much from you having spent years being brainwashed by the White Lotus." He shook his head. "We should've never told anyone you were the Avatar. It has brought nothing but pain and grief to our family."
She looked at him with glare. "Mom believed in the Avatar. Remember how happy she was when she found out what I could do? If Mom were here she'd be sicken to hear the things you're spouting and the friends you've made."
"Don't you dare talk to me about my wife," roared Hiroshi, his expression one of pure rage, a side of him Asami had never seen of him even during the dark period following her mother's death. The mere volume of his voice and expression on his face was just as powerful as the physical blow that had knocked her out. "What do you know? You only knew her for a short period, I knew her for thirteen years! Don't you dare lecture me about my wife! If you wasn't for you and your Avatar powers she'd still be alive."
She stared at him in pure shock and she felt like she was about to breakdown in tears. But something prevented from doing so. A voice in her mind that prevented her emotions from taking over, the part of her that still recognized the dangerous situation she was in. The voice told her that this wasn't her father anymore. This wasn't her home anymore. Inside her mind all those precious memories of her childhood and of her parents burned away. The image she that still held in her mind was of her mother. Sitting on her bed letting her brush her hair. She held onto that image tightly. She prayed for the Avatar State so she could send everything else around her to oblivion. But her body was still paralyzed as well restrained.
There was nothing she could do.
So this is how I meet my end. Quite a short tenure.
"Asami?" It was her father. She looked up at him. His expression was now back to gentle, almost pleading. "Will you join me? Together we can bring justice back to the world. Make it great again equal." He leaned down and gently stroked Asami's hair. "Think about your mother. What they did to her."
Asami gave her father the heaviest glare she could muster and in a low voice she gave her reply: "Don't ever mention Mom to me again you piece of shit." She turned to Amon. "Go ahead and kill me. I'd rather die."
"I'm afraid that's not going to happen," said Amon stepping forward, "But I will purge of your bending. That was the deal I made with your father and I'm honorable man. I shall respect his wishes."
Asami closed her eyes. "It would seem the father I knew died a long time ago."
"I told you that wine tasted funny," said Bolin.
"Oh give it a rest," said Mako.
"Will the both of you give it a rest. Giving me a headache," said the Equalist guarding them.
The brothers had been drugged during dinner and now sat tied up on the floor in the billiards room.
The door opened and another Equalist entered.
"Where's the Avatar," asked the Equalist, clearly a woman by her voice.
"In the study. Why," asked the guard.
There was a bright flash and a crackle. The guard crumbled to the floor. The Equalist removed her mask.
"Man these guys are dumb," said Korra.
"Korra," exclaimed Mako and Bolin.
"Hush! You want to put the whole place on alert?" She began untying them.
"You're an Equalist," asked Bolin. Korra stared at him blankly and then gave him a small slap on the cheek. "Ow!"
"How did you--", Mako started to ask.
"No time." She pulled the ropes away. She thrust a pair of keys into Mako's hand. "My car is parked just outside the main gate. Drive it up to the front door. I'll meet you there."
"Ooh can I drive," asked Bolin.
"No." Korra stood, pulled on her mask and was out the door without another word.
Bolin turned to Mako. "Can I please drive?"
As Korra was bounding up the stairs and ran towards the study and barged in. What she saw stopped her dead in her tracks. Two Equalists had a firm grip on Asami while Amon was leaning down towards her, her fingers inches from her forehead. Korra could feel her body freeze as could guess what was about to happen based on what Asami and the others had told her of the night they saved Bolin from a similar fate.
She snapped to attention. "Sir! Our operation has been compromised!" She hoped Hiroshi, whom she loathed so much in that moment for just standing by as her daughter was held down and about to have something personal to her taken away, didn't recognize her voice.
"What? How,” exclaimed Hiroshi. Korra breathed a sigh of relief.
Before Korra could come up with an excuse a loud voice came from behind her which made her jump. "Sir!" It was another Equalist soldier. "Police sirens in the distance."
"Everyone pull out. Take the Avatar to the airship," said Amon. "Mr. Sato I suggest you come with us." Hiroshi nodded.
Asami was pulled to her feet and dragged out of the room. Korra followed them, waiting for the perfect moment to snatch her away.
"Where are you going?"
She looked behind her. It was a tall, thin Equalist.
"What does it look like," she said looking ahead. They were coming to a stairwell. "Taking the Avatar to the airship."
"Stand at attention when I'm speaking to him," barked the man following after her.
"Why I should I? I don't take orders from men," she growled, doing her best impression of a friend she knew at college.
A hand grabbed her shoulder. "Who are you?"
Korra grabbed him, heaved him over her shoulder and flipped him down the stairs.
"You just threw the Lieutenant down the stairs," said one of the Equalists carrying Asami.
"Was that who it was? Huh. Well what do you know." She shocked both guards and grabbed Asami before she hit the floor. Asami struggled to break free. "Sami relax its me."
"Yes. Long story. Let's get the hell out of here." They managed to descend the stairs. "How are you feeling?"
In front of them the Lieutenant was starting to get to his feet. Asami kicked him in the face knocking him out.
They dashed for the front door, Korra helping Asami as she limped along, the work of the chi blockers wearing off. They threw open the front door and saw at the bottom of the stairs Mako and Bolin pull up.
"THE AVATAR IS GETTING AWAY," screamed a voice from within the house.
"Shit," cursed Korra. They ran down the stairs towards their only chance at freedom. The police sirens were closer now. Korra wanted to be far away when the fighting started. "Bolin grab Asami! Mako move over!"
Bolin hauled Asami into the back seat while Korra jumped into the driver's seat. She floored it, tires squealing. She sped down the long drive way. Ahead of them was one of the main gates but it was closed and it was risky turn back and go for the other one. It also would've put them into the path of any Eqaulist members not to mention the oncoming police force.
"Mako! Clear a path!"
Mako stood up in the passenger seat and launched a powerful ball of flame towards the iron gate, blasting it open. Korra pulled the handbrake and did a tight turn onto the road. As she sped down the road the police were just arriving at the estate. A police cruiser broke off from the main group and gave chase.
"Korra pull over," yelled Mako.
"Not until we're clear!"
She continued to lead the cruisers for half a mile before pulling off to the side. Korra put the car in park and tore off her mask.
"Spirits that was intense," she said trying to catch her breath, her adrenaline slowly receding. She could hear a cop speak into his radio.
"We have them Chief."
Korra turned to her friends. "Everyone alright?"
Mako and Bolin nodded, shaken but unhurt. Asami sat in the backseat, hugging herself, her head lowered and tears flowing down her cheeks.