Sorry for the wait! This one took a bit because I had to review the episodes with Lin in them as I was writing. This will go all the way to when Lin lost her bending, just before Bumi arrived. This chapter won't have much of him, but there will be mentions. Also, I'm back at college now so there might be a bit of a delay in getting chapters out. We'll see.
The trials that plagued her in those six years, beginning seventeen years before Avatar Korra arrived in Republic City and ending with her mother's burial, stuck with her. She had been tough and sensible as a child, her mother had taught her to be, but she had also been able to laugh freely. The trials had hardened her from that carefree, laughing girl. Now she rarely smiled, except when she received a letter from Bumi.
The first few years after she became Chief of Police, she had struggled. She had been given a taste of command in her constant promotions, but she had not realized exactly how much her mother handled. She found herself seeking out first her father and then, after his death, her mother's old Assistant Chief Harold, for advice. She wrote to Bumi about other problems that she did not feel as though she should share with her father or Harold, like the fact that some of the older officers resented her position as chief because they had been at the station longer and she was 'only the boss' daughter'. The cases she handled in those first few years were something no one dared to mention afterwards. Disasters, is what they were. She adjusted to the position in time, able to direct her officers into where they needed to be so they were of the best use to the city, but it took time.
The years passed, and life went on. She kept the peace, and protected the city that her family had worked so hard to create. As hard as she worked, the triads thrived and the group known as the Equalists began to gain support.
It was a Triple Threat Triad incident that reintroduced her to the Avatar. She had met her before, all of those belonging to 'the old group' and their children had, but the girl had probably been too young to remember. Lin recognized the girl the instant she stepped into the room. The water tribe clothing, her darker skin and hair, and her blue eyes set her off as different immediately. Most citizens were of mixed blood, and most of that blood was Earth or Fire heritage, which made Korra look exotic, especially wearing traditional water tribe clothing. Even the waterbenders of the city who held onto their traditions had adapted enough to make this girl unique. Of course, the fact that she had torn up part of Lin's city, resisted arrest, and nearly escaped did not help Lin's mood. The fact that the girl was the Avatar made it worse; by resisting the police, Korra had shown a lack of trust in the legal system. If the Avatar did not respect the police, why should anyone else?
"Let's see. Multiple counts of destruction of private and city property, not to mention evading arrest. You're in a whole mess of trouble, young lady." Lin warned.
"But there were some thugs threatening a helpless shopkeeper, and I…"
"Can it!" Lin snapped angrily. "You should have called the police and stayed out of the way." Lin explained. 'Things get done faster when people who can't help don't get in the way.' Her mother's voice rang in Lin's head. Korra had caused more damage by getting involved than she had prevented.
"But I couldn't just sit by and do nothing. It's my duty to help people. See, I'm the Avatar." Lin crossed her arms, getting irritated. If the girl thought that her title would impress Lin, or cause Lin to go easy on her, she was mistaken.
"Oh, I am well aware of who you are. And your Avatar title might impress some people, but not me." This stumped the girl for a moment, and Lin felt a surge of satisfaction at that, but Korra rallied quickly, though ineffectively.
"Alright, fine. Then I wanna talk to whoever's in charge."
"You're talking to her. I'm Chief Bei Fong."
"Wait. Bei Fong? Lin Bei Fong? You're Toph's daughter!"
"What of it?" Lin asked dryly.
"Well, then why are you treating me like a criminal? Avatar Aang and your mother were friends; they saved the world together."
"That's ancient history." Lin said gruffly. And you are not Uncle Aang. "And it's got diddly squat to do with the mess you're in right now. You can't just waltz in here and dole out vigilante justice like you own the place." Lin was on a rant now, furious. She despised vigilante justice, finding that vigilantes often undermined the police force.
"Chief." Captain Saikhan called. "Councilman Tenzin is here." Lin sighed, rolling her eyes. And here was Tenzin to get the Avatar out of trouble. She felt a headache coming on, feeling as though this would happen often if the Avatar were to stay in town.
"Let him in." She called in exasperation. She stood tall as Tenzin strode into the room stiffly.
"Tenzin." She heard the girl say in relief. "Sorry, I got a little side-tracked on my way to see you." Tenzin took a deep breath, clearly preparing to smooth talk her.
"Lin, you are looking radiant as usual." He began.
"Cut the garbage, Tenzin. Why is the Avatar in Republic City? I thought you were supposed to be moving down to the South Pole to train her." Lin demanded. She had heard through letters to Bumi that Katara was looking forward to spending more time with her son and grandchildren, and being present for her newest grandchild's birth.
"My relocation has been delayed. The Avatar, on the other hand, will be heading back to the South Pole immediately. Where she will stay put."
"But…!" Korra began.
"If you would be so kind as to drop the charges against Korra, I will take full responsibility for today's regrettable events and cover all the damages." Lin glanced between the clearly dispirited Korra and the outwardly calm but clearly angry Tenzin and sighed. Tenzin would punish the girl better than she could, she was getting a headache already, and if the damages would be paid then there was really no reason to keep the girl.
"Fine." She said, releasing the cuffs on Korra's hands with a wave of her wrist. "Get her out of my city."
"Always a pleasure, Lin. Let's go, Korra." From the look on the girl's face, Lin did not believe she would leave or, if she did leave, that she would not stay gone long. Instead, she sent a silent warning to the girl that she would be watching. Childishly, the girl returned the gesture.
Lin sighed and ordered Saikhan to send a message to the animal holdings to release the girl's polar bear dog. The rest was up to Tenzin.
Lin's headache returned the next day when her secretary showed Tenzin in. She had been right in that the Avatar would not leave, and Tenzin wanted to hold a press conference of all things. She vehemently disapproved, but she was overruled by the City Council. It became apparent within the first few minutes of the conference that Tenzin had not briefed Korra at all, and she felt her headache grow further. The girl had no experience with being drilled in such a manor, and she clearly had no idea what to say. She had potential to be a great public speaker, Lin could acknowledge that, but she had little practice and even less sense of how to manipulate a crowd. Even Lin, who despised politics, could understand the benefit of not mentioning things that could be used against her, such as the fact that Korra was still in training.
She returned to the stone house she'd grown up in with a sense of foreboding. The Avatar's presence in Republic City, and her apparent vulnerability, would cause trouble sooner or later. Lin just knew it.
Though kept updated through notes from Tenzin, the papers, and occasional meetings with the City Council to discuss solutions to the rising Equalist problem, Lin was lucky enough not to have to arrest the arrogant young Avatar again. In fact, she did not have to deal with the girl again for quite a while. Her focus returned, as it always did, to her work and letters from Bumi. He informed her that, until Amon initiated a direct and public attack, the Forces could not be commanded to step in. She wished he were here. Not only would the presence of the Forces cut down on the work she and her officers had to do, not only regular police work but also trying to find leads on the Amon problem, but she selfishly wanted the comfort that came with Bumi's listening ears and jokes.
Chairman Tarrlok's 'task force' was her newest problem. He had commandeered several of her best officers, though thankfully not her best, and several advanced waterbenders from the hospitals. Frankly, he was interfering with her station and getting very little progress done in recompense. He was, in fact, creating more work for her officers, both on his task force and those sensible enough to decline, who then had to take more shifts to cover for their missing members. When she heard about him intending to 'woo' the Avatar, she had sent word to Tenzin.
The reply she received said that her message had come too late as Tarrlok had stopped by to enjoy dinner with the Airbending family. She also learned, over the next few days, that Tarrlok had, indeed, started his 'wooing'. Presents began arriving for the Avatar, including a rather expensive gala.
Unfortunately, the gala being thrown in the Avatar's honor needed security and with the members of the Council and other notable members, and benders, of society attending, Lin trusted no one but herself to lead the security team.
She was unfortunate enough to be caught passing by Tarrlok, and was summoned forward.
"Chief Bei Fong. I believe you and Avatar Korra have already met." Lin glared at the girl, attending the party, clearly anticipating it if the work on her hair and dress was any indication, when there were serious matters to deal with. Tired from all the extra work she was forcing on herself, she snapped, glaring.
"Just because the city's throwing you this big to-do, don't think you're something special. You've done absolutely nothing to deserve this." But my people have, busting their butts every night to keep the people of Republic City safe, taking extra shifts and going on little sleep. And now we have more work so the righteous little girl playing at being an Avatar can be gawked at. She stalked away before she could make an even bigger fool of herself.
The shifts got worse, so much so that she barely sneered at the continuous reports of Tarrlok and Korra's success. She barely took notice when Korra quit Tarrlok's task force. Only one thing could knock her from the reverie of the current work-eat-sleep cycle she was in. And that was trouble.
"Good morning, citizens of Republic City. This is Amon. I hope you all enjoyed last night's pro-bending match, because it will be the last. It's time for this city to stop worshiping bending athletes as if they were heroes. I am calling on the council to shut down the bending arena and cancel the finals, or else there will be severe consequences." Lin growled, knowing that Tenzin would vote to back down, and the others might just agree with him. The last thing they needed to be doing right now, when Amon was so much ahead, was to be giving him any concessions. Give him a pebble and he'd take a boulder. She snarled her orders to the officers in the station, and stalked out, heading for City Hall.
When she got there, she realized that she wasn't the only one to understand this.
"…is the one place where benders and non-benders gather together... in-in peace! To watch benders..." the fire nation boy was stumbling, but he had a point.
"Beat each other up! In peace! It's an inspiration to everyone!" The earthbender said enthusiastically. She rolled her eyes. Not quite what the other boy had in mind, she was sure. This boy had potential, she could feel it, but he was alarmingly untrained for an Avatar's companion.
"I appreciate your naïve idealism, but you're ignoring the reality of the situation." Tarrlok said condescendingly.
"The reality is if you close the arena, you let Amon win!" Korra snapped. Lin grimaced as she found herself agreeing.
"Yes, exactly what she said! Yes!" The earthbender crowed.
"I'm sorry, but our decision has been made. This meeting is adjourned." Lin decided it was time to make her entrance, and knocked the gavel away.
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with the Avatar." She said.
"You do?" Tarrlok demanded.
"Yeah, you do?" Korra parroted.
"I expected this kind of cut-and-run response from Tenzin. But the rest of you? Come on, show a little more backbone. It's time that the benders of this city displayed some strength and unity against these Equalists." Lin said scornfully.
"We must prevent the conflict between benders and non-benders from escalating into all-out war! The council is not changing its position, Lin." Tenzin disagreed.
"Now just a moment, Tenzin. Let us hear what our esteemed Chief of Police had in mind." Tarrlok interrupted. Lin felt an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, but ignored it.
"If you keep the arena open, my metalbenders and I will provide extra security during the championship match. There's no better force to deal with the chi-blockers. Our armor is impervious to their attacks." She explained firmly.
"Are you saying that you will personally take responsibility for the safety of the spectators in the arena?" Tarrlok asked slyly. Lin saw Tenzin glance at Tarrlok suspiciously, but she didn't need Tenzin to tell her what Tarrlok was up to. Her reputation depended on outcome of this, if she said yes, and it would be known that it was her fault if something went wrong.
"I guarantee it." She said, determined. She would prove to Tarrlok, to everyone, that her force was the best and that Amon was no match for them.
"It is hard to argue with Chief Bei Fong's track record." Lin made her body as stone, refraining from glancing at the two boys beside Korra, having already known of their being living proof of one of her early mistakes as chief. "If she is confident her elite officers can protect the arena, then she has my support. I am changing my vote. Who else is with me?" Lin watched calmly as the other three voted for the idea. Tenzin, of course, did not. "The arena stays open. Good luck in the finals." The three teenagers cheered and celebrated happily. "And good luck to you, Chief Bei Fong." Tarrlok added mockingly. Lin ignored him in favor of the approaching Tenzin.
"A word please, Lin." He said, drawing her out into the hallway. They watch as the Councilmen and the teenagers file out before he turns to her. "Don't do this, Lin." She sighed and rolled her eyes.
"It's done, Tenzin."
"Tarrlok's playing you, and I don't want to see you hurt." He tried.
"I know what I'm doing, and the risks that come with it." Both Amon and Tarrlok.
"In that case, I'm going to be by your side during the match." Tenzin asserted.
"You don't need to babysit me." Lin snapped in annoyance. There he was again, sticking his nose in. What was he going to do if the Equalists showed up, be chi-blocked and fall unconscious?
"It's for Korra. I want to make sure she's safe." Tenzin said. Lin wasn't sure she believed him, but she still felt a twinge of embarrassment at her vehement assumption. She threw her hands up in frustration.
"Do what you want. It's not like I've ever been able to stop you before." She sneered. Then Korra walked up, which was just what Lin needed at the moment, wasn't it?
"Excuse me, Chief Bei Fong. I wanted to thank you for your help." Lin stalked away before she could snap at the girl, who definitely didn't deserve it right now. "It…really…means a lot." The girl's voice faded as Lin got further away.
Lin focused her attention on organizing security for the night. Everything would be secured. The sky and the bay were the obvious entrances for large-scale forces, and she made sure to cover those. She requisitioned a map of the arena, and assigned her officers to every entrance, various strategic points in the stands, the training areas in the back, and every other place she could think of, making sure she had a good view of the stands.
Finally, it was the night of and Tenzin met her at an entrance.
"How is the security sweep going?" He asked.
"Fine." She said bluntly.
"They've checked underneath the stands?"
"Yes." She was beginning to get frustrated with him. He was acting as though she did not know how to secure an area.
"And you have enough officers to cover all points of entry?" She turned her head to Tenzin coolly.
"I have the skies, the bay, and every nook and cranny of this place covered." She turned away. "Now leave me alone and let me do my job."
"Lin, with so much on the line it would be nice if we could help each other out, at least for one night." He said sadly. She paused.
"Like old times?" She asked, remembering when she was a newly appointed Chief and he was a newly appointed Councilman and they'd backed each other in everything, even when she didn't agree with his passiveness or he didn't agree with her aggression. Even when they messed up.
"Like old times." Tenzin agreed. She sighed silently, admitting to herself that she'd missed it.
"Okay. I'll try to be less abrasive than usual." She conceded.
"I would appreciate that." She nodded and led him to her spot. The last patrol before the match finished their sweep and came to report to her as people began filing in.
As the match progressed, Lin found that, to her amusement, Tenzin had found an interest in the sport. She remembered his disparaging comments when he found out that she and Bumi had gone or were going to a match, and couldn't help but tease him. His awkwardness was a reward in itself. As the match progressed, she couldn't help but be impressed. For all her arrogance and self-importance, Korra was an excellent waterbender and a ferocious fighter.
"I can't believe your sweet-tempered father was reincarnated into that girl. She's tough as nails." Lin couldn't help but comment to Tenzin.
"Reminds me of someone else I knew at that age. You two might get along if you would only give her a chance." He mentioned. She huffed and said nothing, not wanting to admit that he was right.
Her irritation disappeared as he began getting involved in the match. She was barely watching, having already figured out the referee had been paid off and that the Fire Ferrets had little to no chance of winning. She shot Tenzin amused glances but focused on surveying the arena. As the match ended, Lin turned to Tenzin's outraged expression with amusement. Then, his face changed.
"Look out!" he cried. Pain assaulted her body and everything went black.
When she woke up, Tenzin was just sitting up next to her. She rushed over, feeling the earth respond under her feet in relief. She crouched down beside Tenzin.
"Tenzin!" She turned in despair and saw the Equalists leaving. Lin flinched back as explosions began, destroying the main platform, lifting her arm to protect her face. Around her, the crowd began to scream.
When the smoke cleared, she saw Korra waterbending herself after the Equalists. Unfortunately, there was not enough water and Korra began to fall. Lin didn't hesitate, launching herself out of the stands and metalbending her cables. She sent a cable after the Avatar, the other reaching for support. Not hesitating, she shot the girl up after them. Regaining her momentum, she followed the girl as quickly as she could.
When she reached the roof, Korra was clinging to one of the small lifts high above her. Lin easily dispatched one of the remaining Equalists, but two others knocked Korra to the roof. Lin attempted to hook herself to one of the lifts, but pain erupted in her back again, and she fell, the metal cable detaching itself. She heard three other Equalists join the first looming over her but a fire-bending Korra interrupted them. While Korra distracted them, Lin dispatched two more before again trying to hook onto the Equalists' airship. She succeeded, but before she could reach the platform, she heard a sharp scream as Korra fell through the ceiling. She longed to chase after the Equalists, to get some victory out of this disaster, but Korra was too important. She dropped, letting her metal cables attach to the remainder of the roof, releasing when Korra has gone too far to reach. She sent her cable at the wall, the other reaching for Korra. They managed to land on the arena floor safely, if roughly. Lin helped Korra stand.
"You alright?" She asked.
"I'm fine." Korra agreed. "Thanks to you."
"Don't mention it, kid." Lin said, glancing up after the airship. "Looks like we lost this one." Lin watched as the two boys rushed to Korra, hugging her in relief. For a moment, Lin felt a pang of longing for Bumi, who would have been just as relieved that she was safe. She was startled out of the thought by Tenzin, who placed a hand on her shoulder.
"I can't believe Amon did this. I played right into his hand." She told him, ashamed. He was right. This was her fault.
"He played us all." Tenzin comforted. His next pronouncement is not quite so comforting. "Republic City is at war."
The fallout from the Probending match was worse than even Lin anticipated. Republic City was calling for her resignation, but the support of the police force, Tenzin's support to the Council, and the hectic aftermath of the attack saw that Lin kept her job, at least for the moment.
In the aftermath of the attack, Lin was running constantly. A tip had come in that Cabbage Corp was supporting the Equalists, and the witnesses of the attack, especially the team who had been stripped of their bending, had to be questioned.
That night, just as she managed to gain a moment of peace, she was asked by Korra to check out a possible lead. Lin was surprised by Korra's suspicions of the father of, what Lin assumed to be, a friend.
"So, you think Mr. Sato manufactured those gloves for the Equalists then framed Cabbage Corp?" Tenzin, apparently, found it just as strange.
"That's a bold accusation, what proof do you have?" Lin asked curiously.
"Well, I don't exactly have proof, but I know what I heard. Sato's up to something." Korra explained.
"He does have the means…and he has a motive." Lin thought out loud, flinching faintly at the reminder of her mother's death.
"That's right." Tenzin agreed.
"A motive? What is it?" Korra asked. Lin avoided the girl's eyes, hoping Tenzin would not mention her mother.
"Twelve years ago, the Agni Kai Triad robbed Sato's mansion. A firebender killed Sato's wife during the break in." Tenzin explained simply.
"That's terrible." Korra commented.
"It was tragic. It's possible that he's been harboring anti-bending sentiments all this time."
"Maybe we should look at Mr. Sato a little more closely." Lin said, changing the subject.
The three of them headed to the Sato mansion the next morning. The butler opened the door and Tenzin and Lin headed upstairs. Lin heard the firebender boy stop Korra, but paid it no attention.
"Mr. Sato, we just have a few follow-up questions for you." Lin said briskly. His daughter barged in, interrupting.
"My father is innocent. Just because we're not benders, doesn't mean we support those awful Equalists." She declared angrily. Lin sighed quietly.
"Equalists?" Sato asked. "Is that what this is about? I can assure you I have nothing to do with those radicals." Lin could not use her seismic sense without revealing that she was doing so, and to use it without real evidence would be a disaster.
"Yeah, you don't know what you're talking about, Korra." The boy declared angrily.
"I overheard you on the phone. You said the Cabbage Corp investigation bought you time, and you're getting ready to strike. Explain that." Korra demanded.
"This is all just a misunderstanding, resulting from the young Avatar's overactive imagination. My number one competitor was knocked out of the game. It's providing me an opportunity to strike the market with a new line of Satomobiles. It's just business. Nothing nefarious." Lin exchanged a look with Tenzin. Silently, he asked her if they should proceed. Lin gave him the go ahead.
"In order to put all suspicions to rest, might we have a look into your factories and warehouses?" Tenzin requested. The girl sighed in annoyance and put her hands on her hips, clearly ready to throw them out, but Hiroshi stopped her.
"If you feel it's necessary, you're welcome to search all of Future Industries." Sato agreed easily. Too easily, Lin thought. Still, she gathered a few of her teams and ordered them to the Sato factories and warehouses.
As she suspected, they found nothing.
"I can't believe we didn't find anything." Korra exclaimed.
"It would appear Hiroshi is innocent." Lin commented, unconvinced.
"Okay, you did your search. Now you can all leave." The girl snapped in annoyance. Lin hummed, eyeing the girl suspiciously. The girl was extremely defensive for someone with nothing to hide. The boy gestured for Korra to talk with him, and Lin surveyed her workers as they cleared up, not commenting when the boy stalked by, taking the Sato girl with him, and Korra rejoined them.
"I think you guys should hear this." Korra said a few moments later, holding up a note. Lin and Tenzin turned to her in surprise. "'If you want to find the truth, meet me under the north end of the Silk Road Bridge at midnight.'"
Lin and Tenzin exchanged a glance, and Lin turned away to give orders to her team.
That night, with an airship hovering over the bridge in case of an attack, Lin accompanied Korra and Tenzin to the north end of the bridge.
The warehouse worker awaited them behind a pillar.
"Psst. Over here." He walked out into the open. "Listen, I joined the Equalists because I believed in what Amon said. I thought he could make life better for us non-benders. But I didn't sign up for this... this war." He explained. Lin hummed faintly.
"What do you have on Hiroshi Sato?" She asked.
"He manufactured those gloves for the Equalists." The man said.
"I knew it!" Korra exclaimed confidently.
"And there are rumors he's working on something even bigger. Some new kind of weapon."
"We searched all of Future Industries and found nothing." Tenzin commented, confused. Lin couldn't help but agree; he couldn't have hidden something like this from her officers.
"That's because he has a secret factory." The man explained.
"Where?" Korra demanded.
"It's right underneath the Sato Mansion." The man said grimly. Lin let out a soft gasp of shock, hearing Tenzin and Korra do the same. Underneath his mansion was a risky move. It was a good hiding place, but she could have sensed it at any time she was on the property. One of his warehouses might have been less secure, but Sato also could have led them to believe that it had been someone other than Sato himself who was at fault if they had found them there. Lin stalked away, determined to settle this tonight. Tenzin and Korra followed with a word of thanks to the man.
It wasn't until they were in the airship that Tenzin spoke.
"Raiding the Sato Mansion is a risky move with Tarrlok breathing down your neck. If we're wrong..." He said warningly.
"I know. I can kiss my job goodbye. But protecting Republic City is all I care about. We can't let Amon get his hands on this new weapon." Lin interrupted. And there was really nothing Tenzin could say to that.
"We're not wrong. That guy said there was a factory under the mansion! How could anyone misinterpret that?" Korra demanded.
"It could be a set-up, designed to have Lin lose her job." Tenzin warned.
"There's a chance it's not. And that's worth the risk." Lin said, cutting off the conversation.
They descended from the airship, and Lin signaled her troops to cover the house, and then sent a team forward, following closely.
"What are you doing here?" Asami demanded.
"We have a reason to believe that there's a factory hidden below the mansion." Lin said brusquely.
"I think I would've noticed if there were a factory underneath my house. The lies you people come up with just to persecute my father." Asami stated coldly.
"Where is your father?" Tenzin asked reasonably.
"In his workshop, behind the house." Lin's eyes narrowed. That would explain why she had never felt a space underneath the house. Lin headed outside, the children and Tenzin following closely. She signaled her officers in, but when they entered, they find no one.
"Dad? Hello?" Asami called, confused.
"Chief, the estate's been secured. No one has left the workshop since we arrived."
"Perhaps we just couldn't see him leaving." Lin said mildly, heading for the middle of the room. Metalbending the sole of her shoe back, she stepped down, sensing everything around her. She'd gotten better at this; never as good as her mother was, as she did not have to rely on the sense for sight, but good enough. "There's a tunnel beneath the workshop running deep into the mountainside." She announced.
"What? There's no tunnel!" Asami declared angrily. Lin removed the layer of metal floor, exposing the stairs and elevator below.
"Do you think your dad knows about this tunnel?" She heard the earthbender ask the girl.
"I don't understand. There must be an explanation." The girl insisted.
"Maybe you don't know everything about your father." Korra suggested, before adding a sympathetic "I'm sorry."
"Officers, into the tunnel. Be cautious." Lin ordered. The children begin to walk forward, but she stopped them. She may have been allowing Korra, who was the Avatar, under Tenzin's orders, and had already proven herself in a fight, to come, but she would not allow civilians along. "Uh-uh, you three stay up here. Officer Song, keep an eye on them." She added, speaking to a soldier who was good at following orders but horrible with unpredictability. If there was a fight, he would be better here. Song saluted her, and Lin followed her officers towards the elevator.
The second they entered the massive room, it was clear that Sato supported Amon. The giant posters were enough; the large robotic machines were worse.
"Not your average backyard workshop." Lin commented dryly.
"And I'm guessing those are the new weapons." Korra said, gesturing to the machines.
"Hiroshi was lying alright, but where is he?" Tenzin asked. A metal wall shot up behind them, blocking the entrance. Immediately, Lin attempted to bend it away to clear an exit.
"I'm afraid you won't be able to metalbend that wall, Chief Bei Fong." Green lights came on, blinding them temporarily. "It's solid platinum." The machines began moving, approaching them, and Lin could only just see their drivers. "My mecha tanks are platinum as well. Not even your renowned mother could bend a metal so pure." No, Lin had to admit, glaring at Sato's figure inside one of the tanks, her mother had not been able to bend platinum, and her father had teased her mother about it whenever she tried. Something even the Great Toph Bei Fong couldn't do, he would say. She shook the thought away.
"Hiroshi, I knew you were a lying, no good Equalist! Come out here and…" Korra demanded angrily.
"And do what, young Avatar? Face the wrath of your bending? No. I think I'll fight from inside here where my odds are a little more... equal." That was when it had clicked with Lin that they had been set up.
"That source was a set-up! You lured us down here!" She watched the machines approach, surrounding them further.
"Guilty as charged." Sato agreed. And thus, the battle began. Her officers held their own, the tanks susceptible to being tied up, but no bending worked on the things and there were too many of them to fight effectively. Their cables sparked and began to overheat, and her officers began to lose their holds. Then the machines began to electrocute the officers. Lin was grabbed from behind, and knocked against a metal beam, causing her vision to spin. Then, she was flying, and another bump to her head caused her to fall unconscious.
When she regained consciousness, the other children had joined them.
"Let's get out of here." The firebender insisted. Running, Lin noticed they were missing her officers. She closed her eyes briefly in realization but stumbled through the exit, hearing the earthbender close the hole behind them. Tenzin ushered her into the airship, forcing her to lie down. She demanded that he tell her everything that happened while she was unconscious, and she slumped further and further as he did, confirming her awful suspicions. Her officers were on their way to Amon.
"My metalbenders are on their way to Amon, and it's all my fault. Tarrlok's right, I've failed as chief. First thing in the morning, I'm handing in my resignation." She told him, mind racing. She had failed as chief, had dishonored her mother who would never have let her officers be captured, and she would make sure that she atoned for it, as best she could.
"No! You can't give up like this!" Tenzin demanded. Lin sat up, face set.
"I'm not giving up. I'm gonna find my officers and take Amon down. But I'm gonna do it my way, outside the law." Tenzin looked at her with concern, knowing how much she hated vigilantes. She ignored him, turning away.
When they land, Tenzin insisted on escorting her to the hospital, telling her that he'd take care of all the official business. She pretended to give in, but stayed only long enough for the healers to take care of her concussion before she checked herself out. The bruises would heal with time.
To her dismay, she was stumbling by the time she got into her home and collapsed on her bed. Clearly, she thought before she fell asleep, she was hurt worse than she thought. Then, everything went black.
Lin sent word the next morning of her resignation, and spent the next few days in bed, unable to move. Through the radio, she heard of Saikhan's appointment as chief, and his vow to support Tarrlok's task force. It was through the radio that she learned of the imprisonment of the Avatar's friends. She scoffed to herself, knowing that Tenzin would get them out, and turned away.
It was also through the radio that she learned she was needed, despite the fact that her wounds had only just begun to fully heal.
"…We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you this special report. Late last night, Equalists attacked City Hall," Tenzin is Lin's first thought as she sat up abruptly "subduing Councilman Tarrlok and capturing Avatar Korra. Details are still coming in, b…" Lin turned the radio off. Korra had been captured. Tenzin was safe, they would have mentioned him, but Korra needed her. Slowly, testing her limbs, she rose out of the bed. Her arm cried out in pain, and she groaned slightly, clutching the limb. Slowly, carefully, she headed for the cabinet where she kept her uniform. She hadn't turned it in yet, but that didn't matter now. Turning around, she bent the armor over her body. Glancing down, the police insignia shone on her chest. She tore it off quickly, not allowing herself to think about it, knowing that it was not hers to wear anymore. She shrugged into her coat and headed for the police station. Hopefully, she would meet Tenzin there.
She didn't. Her officers, not hers anymore, didn't even notice her entering, so panicked were they by recent events. She sneered, knowing they never would have dared such a lapse in judgment had she still been in charge. She headed to the holding cells, bending the bottom of her shoe back to search for the Sato girl and the bending brothers. The girl is closest, and Lin bent the door off the cell.
"Hope you got enough beauty rest. Come on, I'm busting you out." She said.
"Thanks. I owe you." The girl said, smiling at her for the first time. Lin rolled her eyes and led her down to where the boys were. She easily bent the door aside and Asami rushed in.
"Asami!" The firbender exclaimed, kissing her.
"Ahh!" The earthbender was using the toilet in the corner. "A little privacy, please!" The boy insisted indignantly. Lin couldn't help but be amused, wondering if the boy would rather she left him here. His brother ignored him.
"Are you all right?" He asked the girl.
"I'm fine!" It's so good to see you." She cooed. Lin rolled her eyes.
"Hate to break up your lovers' reunion, but Korra's in trouble. Amon captured her." She said abruptly. You've never been known for your tact, Linny, she heard Bumi snicker in her mind. She brushed that off as the kids reacted with horror, especially the firebender.
"Come on, we have an Avatar to rescue." Lin dismissed. The three teens bolt from the cell, and Lin decided to let her amusement win for one moment. She used her bending to zip the earthbender's trousers. "Your fly was down." She informed him.
"Thanks for catching that." The boy said, mortified.
"Where are we headed?" The firebender asked.
"Tenzin will be at his office. We'll go there to see if he has any leads." Lin informed them, striding forward. As she suspected, Tenzin was on the phone when they walked in.
"I have to go. Call me back the minute you hear anything." He says to whomever he was talking. "Lin? Wh-wh-what are y- What are y- You should be in the hospital! And you three!" He points to the children incredulously. "You should be in prison!" Lin rolled her eyes as his shock.
"I figured you could use our help finding Korra." She told him.
"Do you have any leads?" The firebender asked anxiously.
"I've been on the phone all morning, but nothing yet." Tenzin said grimly.
"We need Naga! She can track Korra." Mako suggested eagerly. Lin narrowed her eyes in confusion.
"I'm afraid her polar bear dog is missing as well." Tenzin said, shooting down the idea and enlightening Lin to the name of the animal.
"Then where do we start?" The earthbender asked. Lin had not been idle in her thoughts during her rest, however.
"My guess is the Equalists are hiding underground, in the maze of tunnels beneath the city." She said.
"Underground... just like my father's secret factory. Figures." The girl muttered bitterly.
"Yeah! Yeah, that makes sense! When those chi-blockers had me in their truck, it sounded like we drove into a tunnel!" The earthbender exclaimed. Lin blinked, having forgotten that the boy had almost been stripped of his bending.
"I know where to start looking! Come on!" The children rushed from the room, but Lin felt the need to explain to Tenzin.
"Wherever Amon is keeping Korra, I bet that's where my officers are too."
"Let's bring them all home, Lin." Tenzin soothed, placing a hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off and headed after the kids. Tenzin escorted them all to Oogi, and followed the firebender's directions, eventually landing in a deserted street.
"The truck with Bolin took off down this alley." The boy said, leading them to the next intersection.
"Which way?" The girl asked.
"Hmm. This way kinda... smells familiar." The earthbender said. Lin frowned faintly, promising herself that she would teach the boy seismic sense at least, if not metalbending, when this was over. He was vastly undertrained for someone who was friends with the Avatar. Lin bent the sole of her shoe back, reaching out to the ground around them.
"There's a tunnel nearby." Lin informed them, setting off towards it.
"There!" the firebender declared.
"Motorcycle tracks." Lin noticed aloud, inspecting the ground.
"Korra has to be in there... somewhere." The firebender insisted hopefully. Lin bent the gate open, and they headed into the dark tunnel, fire lighting the way. They came to an intersection and paused. "Let's try this way." The boy said, pointing.
"And what if Korra's not down there?" The girl asked.
"Then we pick another tunnel until we find her!" The boy snapped. They continued on, the girl dropping back to walk with the earthbender. Lin heard them talking, but didn't pay attention to the words. Instead, she listened closely for noise coming from either end of the tunnel. When she heard the growl of motorcycles heading towards them, she commanded them to hide sharply. They followed the Equalist pair that appeared, slipping through the doors that Lin forced open, and approached the large open space filled with Equalists and supplies. One Equalist was clearly in charge, holding a clipboard and directing the others.
"That tram goes to the training camp." He instructed, walking to a tram that has just arrived.
"Everything was delivered to the prison, sir." The woman announced.
"That's where they must be keeping Korra." Tenzin whispered as both Equalists walk away.
"We need to get down that tunnel." Lin agreed. She signaled to the group, and they all run to the tram. Once they are all aboard, Lin forced the tram to move down the tunnel. As they approached the end, they saw lights flashing and an alarm. Lin hissed for the others to jump, guessing they've been alerted to intruders.
"It's empty!" One of the awaiting Equalists announced, confused. Lin hummed to herself, finding that the alert was there to announce the tram's arrival. If they knew there were intruders, there would have been more of a welcome committee.
"Yeah, I can see that." The other Equalist said sarcastically. Lin reached forward with her cables, dragging them inside the tunnel and knocking them against the wall. She tied them up, and the brothers set them against the wall.
"You two, keep an eye on them." She instructed the playful earthbender and the rich heiress. Neither would be a true loss if it came to a fight. She bent her shoe back, and searched the prison. "My officers are inside." She announced with relief. If the earthbender had been here, and her officers were still here, perhaps they had not yet had their bending taken from them.
"What about Korra?" The firebender asked.
"I don't see her yet." Lin admitted, heading for where her officers were being held. She might not be too late. Tenzin took out the two Equalists preparing to attack them, and Lin barely noticed the firebender's rush towards them as she entered the cell where her officers are kept. She saw the expressions on her officers' faces, and she knew that she was too late.
"Chief Bei Fong?" Officer Ling asked wearily.
"I'm too late. That monster already took your bending, didn't he?" She asked hopelessly. Ling nodded, and Lin looked away, ashamed.
"I'm so sorry." Then she shook it off, knowing that none of them would want pity. "Come on; let's get you out of here." They followed her and she headed toward Tenzin and the boy, silently scanning with both feet as she walked.
"I scanned the entire prison. Korra's not here." Lin informed them.
"Why would Tarrlok make up a story about getting attacked?" the boy demanded.
"Because he has Korra. He fooled us all!" Tenzin growled. Lin's eyes narrowed. A siren went off and the group raced back to the other two children.
"Let's go, people!" The earthbender hurried. They piled onto the tram, and Lin sent it forward. From behind them, another tram tried to catch up. Even as she sent them faster, the earthbender collapsed the sides of the tunnel behind them. Lin felt his potential surge as he bent, and it reinforced her determination to teach him. "Try to chi-block that, fools!" He jeered. Lin's attention diverted as she noticed the army of Equalists awaiting them, along with mecha tanks.
"We've got more company!" She announced, bending a rail from the ceiling onto the track. "Hang on!" Lin bent a hole in the ceiling, and another hole in that ceiling, sending them flying into the daylight.
Tenzin sent a message out to the members of the City Council once they were at City Hall, and to Chief Saikhan. She heard her officers' exclamations at the news that she was no longer Chief, but she ignored their protests as she ushered them to the hospital. She returned just as the last Councilman, excluding Tarrlok, went into the chamber and followed Tenzin into the room.
"Thank you all for meeting us on such short notice." Tenzin said graciously.
"Chief." Lin addressed Saikhan coldly, unable to stop the resentment that wells up in her. From what she'd seen, he had not been doing her job properly, and she did not like him in the first place. He was one of the officers who had resented her swift rise to power.
"Lin." He said, just as coldly.
"Have you news of Avatar Korra?" Tarrlok asked from behind them. Tenzin spun, fury lining his face.
"We do. You kidnapped her, Tarrlok!" Tenzin accused.
"I am shocked you would accuse me of such an evil act! I already explained: Equalists attacked us and took her!" Tarrlok defended innocently.
"But there were no chi-blockers here last night. You planted the evidence, didn't you?" Tenzin accused.
"That is a ridiculous accusation!" Tarrlok growled angrily.
"It's true!" A page shouted from behind a pillar and the balcony above the room. "He took her! I was here when Avatar Korra arrived last night, but Councilman Tarrlok ordered me to leave. I was on my way out when I saw Tarrlok bring her down to the garage."
"That is nonsense! Everyone knows you're nothing but a squeaky-voiced liar!" Tarrlok roared, causing the page to cower behind the pillar.
"Why did you wait until now to 'fess up?" Lin demands, looking at the page.
"I was terrified to tell because...because Tarrlok is a bloodbender! He bloodbent Avatar Korra!" The page explained shakily.
"Don't make this worse for yourself." Tenzin warned, taking an airbending stance. "Tell us where you have Korra." Lin took her stance as well, ready to back Tenzin up, but as she started to bend, she felt pain crash over her body. She couldn't move, couldn't breathe, could only watch helplessly as her own body was turned against her. It was almost a relief when she fell unconscious.
She was the first to wake, the firebender close behind her. She slapped Tenzin, waking him, as the boy helped the girl. The earthbender began moving behind her.
"Ughh! Man! I had this awful dream that Korra was taken by this evil bloodbender. So weird." He complained.
"Bolin, that really happened. He knocked us out." The girl said dryly.
"Are you serious? Where is he? Is he here right now?" The boy demanded, shocked.
"Tarrlok is long gone. I'll alert the whole force." Saikhan said, leaving with the council members.
"We've only been out for a little while. Maybe we can still pick up Tarrlok's trail." Lin demanded, ignoring Saikhan.
"It could lead us to Korra! Let's go." Tenzin agreed. They all head to Oogi, flying around Republic City in hope of spotting Tarrlok. Instead, they hear a howl.
"That sounds like Naga!" The firebender announced, causing Tenzin to guide Oogi into a turn. "Down there!" Lin and Tenzin darted to Korra, who was leaning against her polar bear dog.
"Korra! Oh, thank goodness." Tenzin exclaimed.
"Where's Tarrlok? How did you get away?" Lin demanded. The firebender shoved both her and Tenzin to the side.
"Give her some space!" He snapped, pulling Korra into his arms and heading for Oogi. Lin glanced at Tenzin, but he shrugged faintly. They all got on the bison and headed for Air Temple Island. On the way, Tenzin assured Korra, upon finding that the girl had not been fed, that Pema would feed her once they returned.
So as soon as the landed, Korra was escorted into the dining hall, and everyone sat around her. Pema exclaimed her relief at Korra's well-being and served food for the hungry Avatar.
"Mmm. Mmm. The food tastes amazing, Pema. I'm finally starting to feel like myself again." The girl mumbled, cleaning her plate.
"We're so thankful you're home safe." Pema assured her soothingly, standing to take the plate.
"Let me help." The Sato girl insisted, standing.
"Korra, I realize you've been through a lot, but I need to know everything that happened." Tenzin spoke up, finally saying what Lin had wanted to.
"Well, first off, Tarrlok isn't who he says he is. He's Yakone's son." Lin jerked slightly, exchanging a shocked glance with Tenzin. She had not heard that name since her mother had finally explained the case that had required Katara and Kya's help when Lin was eight.
"It all makes sense now. That's how Tarrlok was able to bloodbend us without a full moon." Lin murmured.
"But how did you escape? And where's Tarrlok?" Tenzin asked, voicing the questions Lin had asked earlier.
"Amon captured him, and took his bending." Korra explained seriously.
"What?" Tenzin demanded, shocked.
"Yeah, he showed up out of nowhere. He almost got me, too." Korra explained.
"This is very disturbing news. Amon is becoming emboldened. Taking out a councilman, almost capturing the Avatar... I fear Amon is entering his endgame." Tenzin said worriedly. Lin couldn't help but frown, knowing what Tenzin was thinking. If Amon was confident enough to take out the chairman of the City Council, he might be bold enough to attack Tenzin's family. Clearly worried, Tenzin rose from the table and left. Lin frowned faintly, but rose as well, following him. She came up behind him and began walking beside him.
"Lin, um, I, I- I need to ask you a favor. It would mean the world to me... but I-I know it could be a- a potentially awkward situation; furthermore..." He stammered.
"Spit it out already!" She snapped.
"Will you stay here and watch over Pema and the children while I meet with the council? With everything that has happened lately, I want to be sure my family is in safe hands." He explained. Lin felt herself soften and placed a hand on Tenzin's shoulder.
"Of course I'll help, old friend." She told him. Just then, Pema walked up with Tenzin's son in her arms.
"I didn't realize you two were out here." She said with suspicion. Lin couldn't help but feel just a tiny bit smug at the hint of insecurity.
"Pema! Ye- yes- yes, Lin has agreed to help out around here and keep an eye on things while I'm away." Tenzin stammered.
"Thank you! I could use the extra pair of hands." The woman thrust the laughing child into Lin's arms. "Would you mind giving him a bath? He's filthy." Lin couldn't help but feel disgusted as the child blows a raspberry, still laughing. Tenzin quickly mounts Oogi, running from her rage.
"This is not what I signed on for!" She yelled after him.
"Thank you, Lin. Oogi, yip yip!" Tenzin fled quickly, and Lin turned back to the child, who is picking his nose.
"I gotta poo!" He insisted, causing Lin to hold him farther from herself. "Really bad!" Of course, then he grunts and Lin bends her metal cable around his waist, telling herself that she would disinfect it later. Disgusted, she carried him away, searching for someone else to take care of the child.
It was only a short time later that explosions begin going off, as Equalist airships begin heading for the Island. The attack on Republic City had begun, and they were using the distraction to attack Air Temple Island.
"All right, kids, time to go inside." Lin urged Tenzin's children. Korra and the others rushed out as the younger ones headed inside.
"We heard explosions, what's going on?" Korra asked worriedly.
"Republic City is under attack." Lin informs them grimly, watching the approach of the ever-nearer airships. The White Lotus sentries waited at the top of the stone steps, ready to confront the first Equalists to disembark.
"Everyone, hide inside and remain calm." Suddenly, Pema screamed. Lin spun on the woman, furious at her for reacting like that when there were frightened children to care for. "Pull it together, Pema! Didn't I just say 'remain calm'?" Lin demanded.
"Mommy, what's wrong?" the younger girl asked the woman, who was clutching her stomach. Lin felt a moment of panic for Tenzin's unborn child.
"The baby's coming!" Pema gasped.
"Oh no!" The oldest girl exclaimed, a hand covering her mouth.
"Not now, baby!" The boy insisted ridiculously. Two of the acolytes ushered Pema inside, the children watching in concern. As Lin saw the Acolytes usher the children to safety, she turned her attention to the battle that had just broken out, the first Equalists having reached the sentries guarding the steps. Lin waited in the courtyard, her duty to the children. Using her cables and her bending, she managed to take out the first Equalists to reach her. Unfortunately, one Equalist managed to intercept her cables and sent a bolt of electricity through her. The combination of the pain and the irritation of her old injuries sent her to the ground. The Equalist stood above her, ready to strike, and all she could think was that she had failed.
"Stay away from my dad's ex-girlfriend!" The elder girl shouted, gliding in and using the staff to blow the man away from Lin.
"Jinora! You shouldn't be out here!" Lin snapped, though relieved that the girl had been. The next girl arrived on an air scooter, and knocks several Equalists over.
"Get off our island!" She shouted, knocking down several more before joining Lin and her sister.
"Girls! You need to go back inside this instant!" Lin snarled. Of course, the boy just had to show up next.
"Taste my fury!" He shouted, farting in the face of an Equalist, knocking the man unconscious.
"Meelo! Be careful!" Lin exclaimed worriedly as the other Equalists closed in. Of course, the disgusting boy managed to take care of himself, sending the remaining Equalists flying. "Never mind." She said dryly. She bound the Equalists quickly, ensuring that they didn't wake up before she could secure them.
"Take these Equalists and lock them in the temple's basement!" She ordered. "Nice work, kids." She added faintly. Oogi's grunt gives her a sense of relief as the children race to their father.
"Dad!" Jinora shouted.
"Oh, thank goodness you're all right!" Tenzin exclaimed.
"We caught the bad guys." Meelo announced as he climbed onto Tenzin's shoulders.
"You let them fight? Do you realize what could have happened?" Tenzin demanded, reminding Lin of Katara.
"I would have been toast if it weren't for your kids. You should be proud. You taught them well. Go on, be with your wife." She gestured toward the house. Just then, the cry of a baby was heard and Tenzin bolted. Lin paused, watching the sky. Unfortunately for the family, more airships were approaching.
"What're you gonna name him? Can I pick?" Jinora asked from inside the room.
"We already chose a name." Pema said, resting her head on Tenzin's shoulder.
"Rohan." Tenzin announced quietly. It was Korra who broke up the moment between the family.
"I'm so sorry to interrupt, but more airships are coming." Korra said sadly.
"Everything's not gonna be fine, is it, Daddy?" The younger girl asked worriedly.
"Stay with your mother." Tenzin instructed, following Lin, Korra and the firebender outside.
"What do you want to do, Tenzin?" Korra asked.
"I need to protect my family, and get them as far away from this conflict as possible. If Amon got his hands on my children... I hate to even think of it." Lin nodded silently.
"If you're leaving, then I'm going with you." She said bluntly.
"But…" Tenzin protested.
"No arguments. You and your family are the last airbenders. There's no way in the world I'm letting Amon take your bending away." She informed him.
"Thank you, Lin. Korra, I want you to leave this island and hide for the time being." He ordered.
"I'm not giving up." Korra denied, determined.
"I'm not asking you to. I sent word to the United Forces. They will be here soon. And once my family is safe, I will return. With the reinforcements, we can turn the tide in this war." Tenzin told her. Lin felt her heart leap. Bumi was coming.
"What you're saying is, we need to be patient." Korra sighed.
"You're learning well." Korra brightened and Tenzin turned away. Together, Lin and Tenzin hurried the airbender family onto Oogi. "Stay safe." Tenzin told the girl.
"You too." Korra responded.
"Tenzin, if we're leaving, we better do it now." Lin shouted from Oogi's saddle. He airbent himself to Oogi's neck.
"Oogi, yip yip!" Tenzin ordered. Lin watched Korra dove into the water on Naga before turning her attention to the airships, which were now pursuing them.
"They're gaining on us!" Lin shouted to Tenzin.
"Faster, Oogi!" Tenzin urged. A large net approached, but Lin broke it apart with her cables. Silently, she turned and observed the scared family behind her. The children were curled around their mother, who held the baby close. She glanced back at the ships, knowing what she had to do. She remembered her mother's near death due to airships in the last war, and could only hope that her mother's luck held true for her. Even if she didn't fall and die, she would eventually be captured, and her bending stolen. She closed her eyes briefly, feeling the grief well up in her, but it would be worth it for Tenzin's family. She turned back to the head of the bison. Tenzin would not have to live with the guilt of leaving her behind.
"Whatever happens to me, don't turn back." She ordered him. He turned.
"Lin, what are you doing?!" He demanded, but she ignored him, running and jumping. She landed hard on the closest airship, jumping up and beginning to rip the metal skin. It began to fall, and she catapulted herself to the next. She didn't allow herself time to think, didn't allow herself time to focus on the pain searing her skin from metal colliding with skin, only focusing on the task ahead of her. As she began to rip apart this airship, Equalists electrocuted her from behind, and everything went black.
When she wakes up, she is forced from the airship, which has touched down on Air Temple Island. She is forced to kneel before Amon.
"Tell me where the Avatar is and I'll let you keep your bending." All she feels is a rush of relief that Korra has not been captured.
"I won't tell you anything, you monster." She snarls at him defiantly.
"Very well." Amon says simply. He moves around behind her. Silently, Lin closes her eyes, digging deep into the earth, feeling the rain pound onto the stone beneath her, feeling the creatures scurrying about for shelter. In that moment, she is sure her mother is proud of her.
Then her head is yanked up and the feeling is yanked from her abruptly. The earth is silent and still. Her body is numb, in shock, and she falls to the ground face first. She allows herself the tears, knowing they cannot be distinguished from the rain.