Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, or anything else associated with the animated universe created by Mike Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. So please do not sue me; trust me, you wouldn't get any money out of it.
Chapter 1: Gaining Something New
It was a beautiful and vibrant night in Ba Sing Se. Its citizens were awash with jovial festivities, for tonight marked the birth of the grand and powerful Avatar Kyoshi. While long dead, the last Earth Kingdom Avatar was still a highly respected and beloved figure within the nation, and thus the anniversary of her birth was still a highly celebrated event.
All throughout the city, both the poor and rich alike partied like there was no tomorrow. Spiritual festivals were hosted to honor the lifetime achievements of Kyoshi, private gatherings among more social-minded people were held, and amazing light shows were put on display with fireworks. It was a night unlike any other in Ba Sing Se, and it would be a night not soon forgotten by anyone.
Unfortunately for one Long Feng, Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se and Head of the Dai Li, he could not enjoy this night of hedonism as much as his fellow compatriots. For while the people of Ba Sing Se celebrated into the night, he was stuck in his office, going through an endless stack of paperwork that somehow seemed to be getting bigger, instead of smaller.
Such was the plight of the most important man in Ba Sing Se; since King Kuei could not be bothered with the minutiae of government administration, it was up to Long Feng to take care of all that troublesome business himself. And, combining that with his dual positions of Grand Secretariat and Head of the Dai Li, it led to a great deal of work having to be done.
Still, it was a worthy price to ensure that The Impenetrable City would remain safe and sound. And in the end, that was all that Long Feng cared about. So long as Ba Sing Se survived, he could endure a little pencil-pushing. No matter how utterly irritating and pointless it all seemed to be...
"...Perhaps I should force Kuei to do his own fair share of the work," Long Feng mused to himself, as he moved on to the next requisition form; something to do about cabbages and a loan, he gathered, as his eyes skimmed the page. Detecting nothing in the contents of the form that would harm Ba Sing Se in one way or another, Long Feng simply added his signature and moved on to the next paper.
This continued for some time, until a knock at the door interrupted his work.
Long Feng repressed the urge to smile at the opportune distraction, but all the same he could not keep out a note of gratitude in his voice, as he spoke. "Come in."
The door opened, and a Dai Li agent stepped in. The agent nodded promptly at him, and stated in a crisp, even tone,
"The operation against the Bei Fongs is complete, sir. Agents Hiu and Fukoda successfully abducted Lao and his wife from a party hosted by the Yum Soon Hans. From there they were taken to Lake Laogai, and interrogated. After we received all the useful information we could from them, they were...disposed of, as ordered."
"Excellent." Long Feng did smile, this time, though it did not contain any warmth to it.
"And the Bei Fong's house? What did you find there?" Long Feng inquired.
"All sorts of documents pertaining to the dissidents in Ba Sing Se, sir. It seems that Lao was more involved with them than we previously anticipated. With the information we've acquired from him, we should be able to grind all dissident movement to a halt." The Agent dispassionately reported.
"Good, very good." Long Feng leaned back into his chair, and motioned for his subordinate to leave. "You did good work, Agent Zu. I shall see that you are commended for your actions. You are dismissed."
Long Feng turned his attention back to his paperwork, and was set to read a report about recent skirmishes with Fire Nation soldiers on the Serpent's Pass, when he heard a gentle cough. He looked up, and noticed that Agent Zu was still present.
"I said you were dismissed, Agent." Long Feng stated with annoyance. To his mild alarm, Zu began to look vaguely uncomfortable, and his eyes wandered around the room. Long Feng brought his hands together and gazed intently at the Agent. Finally, Zu said at length,
"You should know, sir, that there was an...unforeseen complication, at the Bei Fong household."
"An 'unforeseen complication'?" Long Feng questioned as his face darkened. Whatever Zu was about to say, he had a feeling he wouldn't like it.
"Yes, sir." Zu replied. After a hesitant pause, he went on.
"There...was a child at the Bei Fong mansion. Sir."
Silence. A pause. And then...
"Yes, sir. It appears the Bei Fongs had a...daughter."
Long Feng swallowed uneasily, a sick feeling welling up inside him. This...he had not anticipated this, when he had ordered the Dai Li to move against the visiting Bei Fongs. By all accounts, the couple seemed to be childless, and none of the preliminary intelligence reports from Gaoling suggested the existence of an heir. This was...most definitely an unforeseen complication.
"...Their dossiers contained no mention of a daughter, Agent." Long Feng said at last, his voice filled with growing dread.
Zu gave an almost queasy nod. "I...know, sir. But it...appears that the Bei Fongs kept her existence entirely hidden from the outside world."
"I...see." Long Feng brought a hand to his temples, and withheld the urge to groan as another wave of nausea assaulted him. So, then. He had...he had created an orphan. That was...unfortunate. To say the least.
"Mother? Why won't you wake up?"
A flash of repressed memory came to him, and it took all his strength to bat it away. He could not...he would not...allow himself to be overcome by events best forgotten. No matter the disturbing parallels they had with ongoing events. After all, Long Feng had a job to do, now. Due to the over-protectiveness of the Bei Fongs, he now had a dire situation on his hands.
A poor girl no longer had her parents, now. And it was all his fault.
"There is...more, sir." Zu said.
Long Feng looked back at him, and tried to glare, but he couldn't even muster up the energy to do that. He took no notice of how his hands trembled, slightly, as he spoke. "What now?"
"She is...blind, sir. The daughter of the Bei Fongs is blind."
Long Feng could not keep it back, and this time he did groan.
Fighting to retain some semblance of self-control, he eventually asked the question he desperately did not want the answer to. "How...how old is she, Zu?"
The Dai Li Agent looked away. "Three, maybe two years old, sir. Possibly even younger; we couldn't quite tell."
Long Feng gathered a sharp intake of breath, and slowly released it.
This...this was not good. Not in the least. The orphan was blind and a toddler. This...was not promising to end well.
"What...are our options, then?" Long Feng dared to ask, his stomach rolling at the idea of trying to make that poor child 'disappear'. If...at all possible, he would try to avoid that outcome. There had to be...something they could do for the girl. Something.
Long Feng was a man who had done many unsavory things during his life in order to protect Ba Sing Se. But he was not about to stoop so low as to murder a child barely old enough to walk and talk.
"We could send her to an...orphanage, sir." Zu answered, notably not mentioning even the possibility of sending the girl to Lake Laogai, as they had her parents.
"But..." He added, eyes downcast as his lips twitched. "Given her...disability, and her age, and the fact that the orphanages in Ba Sing Se are overcrowded as is...I do not believe she would survive there long."
Long Feng dimly nodded, and stared at his cluttered desk, contemplating the matter. There was no doubt that Zu was right. The girl wasn't even old enough to properly fend for herself, not to mention blind. She was helpless and defenseless without anyone around to protect her. She wouldn't last a week at any of the overcrowded, underfunded orphanages in Ba Sing Se.
They couldn't send her back to her family, either. Lao and his wife had no known living siblings, and what family the two did have were spread throughout the entire Earth Kingdom.
There was no way they could seek out any family to take in the child; assuming they would even do so. Not to mention sending the child to any sort of family would acknowledge that something had happened to her parents in Ba Sing Se. And as far as Long Feng was concerned, the rest of the world would believe that the Bei Fongs had disappeared somewhere between The Impenetrable City and Gaoling, on their journey home. He could not leave any evidence that would suggest otherwise.
But at the same time, he could not order the execution of a blind child. That was a level that Long Feng was determined never to sink to, if he could help it.
What was he to do, then? There was nowhere they could send the girl. What was to be her ultimate fate, then?
An idea occurred to him, then: an idea that would forever change the life of Long Feng. Should he follow the path he was contemplating now, it would not be an easy road. But it was far, far better than the alternative.
"I may be many things, but I'll be damned if I become the same sort of monster that ordered the death of my own parents." Long Feng muttered firmly to himself, his mind made up on the matter.
Long Feng snapped his head back at Agent Zu, and swiftly stood up. "Where is the girl now?"
"She is...ah, still at the Bei Fong household, sir. We were...we were unsure where else to take her. Agents Fukoda and Hiu are, ah, with her now." Zu stammered nervously.
Long Feng gave him a measured nod and immediately barked out his next question. "Who else knows about her? Have you told anyone else about this...unforeseen complication?"
"N-No, sir!" Zu was quick to reassure, his eyes widening. "N-Not at all! The only ones who know about her are myself, and Agents Hiu and Fukoda. And you, now. No one else knows about her."
"I see." Long Feng gave the Agent a long and hard stare. "See that it stays that way. Take me to her. Now."
"Y-Yes, sir!" Zu paused, and carefully voiced a hesitant inquiry, "What...what are you going to do to her, sir?"
"The only thing I can do, Zu. The only thing I can possibly do to make this right." Long Feng took in a calming breath, steeling himself for what was to come.
"I...am going to make her my daughter."