Chapter 6- New Arrangements
In his street clothes, Sokka walked in to a small café across the street from central station. The old proprietor smiled when he recognized him, "It's been a long time, Sokka! What'll you have?"
"I'll have some of your famous fire flakes, Chit Sang. I'm also looking for some information," Sokka said.
Chit Sang cocked his eyebrow. "What kind of information?" he asked dubiously.
"What have you been hearing about the Double Dragons?" Sokka aked.
Chit Sang put up his hands in protest, "Hey now, you know I've been an honest man since Lord Zuko pardoned me. I don't associate with the criminal element anymore."
Sokka smiled, "I know that Chit Sang. Because you are an honest man, a pillar of the community as it were, you are in a position to know things. People talk, and one can't help but over hear sometimes. I just want to know what you might have overheard."
The old fire bender furrowed his brows in thought, "I have heard something. The Double Dragons have asked for a sit down with the Tiger-Seals and Moose-Lions on neutral ground. It's supposed to happen in the next couple of nights."
"Hmm," Sokka rubbed his chin. "There's only a couple of reasons the Double Dragons would request a sit down. Either they're looking to expand their territory and Wu Ten Fat would rather negotiate for it than fight for it or…"
"Wu Ten Fat's not the boss anymore and the new boss is introducing himself as a courtesy," Chit Sang finished the thought.
Sokka frowned. It was most likely the latter reason, only the Double Dragons' new boss would be introducing herself. He pulled out enough cash to pay for his fire flakes and a generous tip. "Thanks, old friend."
Chit Sang took the cash. "Don't mention it. Seriously, don't mention it."
Tenzin stood outside his father's study and cleared his throat, "May I come in, Dad?"
Aang looked up from the scroll he was studying. "Yes, of course Son. Have a seat. What can I do for you?"
"I've decided to accept your offer, and take formal leadership of the Acolytes and representation on the Council," Tenzin announced.
Aang smiled and came around from his desk. He slapped his son on the back and said "I knew you would! Now we just need to let your mom know and we can start planning the ceremony and celebration."
Tenzin looked confused. "What ceremony?"
"Whenever a Master was admitted to the Council of Elders of the Air Temple, the monks would hold a special ceremony and celebration to install him into office. I know this isn't exactly the same thing but it is a way to preserve another piece of our culture," Aang explained.
Toph entered her home to find Sokka at work in the kitchen. "So, any more run-ins with Princess Crazy Bitch?" she asked.
Sokka gave her a kiss. "Nope. But I did have an interesting conversation with another old friend. Do you remember Chit Sang?"
Toph thought a minute, "He's that fire bender you broke out of the Boiling Rock with Suki and your Dad. I'm surprised he's still alive."
"He is and he's plugged in to the Fire National community. Anyway, he's heard through the cherry-grape vine that the Double Dragons are having a sit down with the other major bending gangs two nights from now," Sokka explained as he set a plate down for her.
Toph took in a deep breath, "Umm, Omashu Strip, my favorite. Did he happen to know where this sit- down was to take place?"
Sokka shook his head, "Neutral ground was all he knew."
Toph frowned, "That could mean the park, the catacombs under Central Station, or that new Pro-Bending arena."
Sokka sat down to his own plate, "The arena's still under construction and the park is too open. If I were you I'd have your cops stake out the station."
"Gosh, thanks for that recommendation Oh Great Detective, I never would have figured that out on my own," Toph snarked. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to watch the arena, just in case."
The new Pro-Bending arena was being built on a massive pier jutting out into Yue Bay. Sokka maneuvered his boat up to the massive edifice. He moored the boat to the pier, and quietly donned his armor and cloak. Silently, he scaled the pier and entered the still-incomplete arena. He was awed by the scale of the place. The plans he'd seen did not do it justice. The floor he was standing on was designed to be flooded to a depth of 15 feet. The actual platform the benders would compete on loomed 30 feet above his head. The roof was still open, but would soon be covered by a dome of gold tinted glass. The bleachers, still incomplete, would eventually seat 15,000.
Staying in the shadows, the Wolf walked softly and listened. The place was quiet. He heard a scrape behind him, and he spun around only to come face to face with the sightless eyes of his own wife.
"What are you doing here?" he whispered. "I thought you were watching the station."
"Lin and her squad have the station covered. And you can relax, we're the only ones here," Toph deadpanned.
"You still didn't answer my question," he pressed.
Toph frowned, "I didn't want you to chance taking Azula on by yourself. Not that it matters, it looks like we missed her."
At that moment, the Empress, along with her number two Zolt, were having dinner on a yacht in the middle of the bay with Suluk, the Tiger-Seal boss and his second.
"I never thought I'd see the day when a woman would run the Dragons," the water bender remarked off-handedly.
"And I never thought I'd see the day when a simple water savage would control one third of the crime in a modern city, but times do change," she said dryly.
"I'd like to hear more about this proposal of yours," Suluk pressed.
"Patience, Huaong will be here soon and I don't want to repeat myself," the Empress dismissed with a wave of her hand.
As if on cue, a tall, white headed man with a long scar on his right cheek entered the dining room. He took one look at the Empress and all color drained from his face. This was one person that Huaong, leader of the Moose-Lion clan, and former agent of the Dai Li, had never expected to see again.
"Do I know you?" the Empress asked.
"Yes, Your Highness, long ago I pledged loyalty to you as a member of the Dai Li," the earth bender explained.
The Empress smiled, "Excellent, then you know what I am capable of. Now that we're all here, I will explain my proposal: together our organizations control 90 percent of the illicit business in Republic City. Instead of fighting one another over the other 10 percent, I propose we unite and coordinate our efforts. Together, we can extend our reach and control even to legitimate trade."
Suluk was dubious, "And how are we supposed to do that?"
"The Double Dragons and the Tiger-Seals each control significant portions of the water front, along with contacts in our respective home nations. The Moose-Lion's territory covers most of the overland routes out of the city. The Fire Nation is nearly bankrupt after 100 years of war and another three decades of paying war reparations. They depend on trade with the United Republic and the Earth Kingdom to stay solvent. The Earth Kingdom will also depend on this trade now that the reparation payments have ended. Nearly three-quarters of that trade moves through Republic City. We will begin to organize the dock workers and the transportation workers and agitate for higher wages, and once they're organized, we'll control all that trade through them. Once we control the economy, we'll have more power than the Earth King and the Fire Lord combined. With our fire, water, and earth benders united under one banner, we will be a triple threat and no one will be able to stand against us," declared the Empress.
Suluk thought a second, "It makes sense. The Tiger-Seals are in."
Huaong bowed his head, "As is the Moose-Lion clan. Once again, you have my loyalty, Your Highness."
The Empress smiled and held up her wine glass, "As of now, the Double Dragons, Tiger-Seals, and Moose-Lions are no more. Here's to the Triple-Threat Triad!"
"To the Triple-Threats!" the rest toasted in unison.