Repairs, Retrofits and Upgrades

Bust Some Heads

Self-defense was always a misnomer. For Asami, 'counter and overwhelm' is a far more accurate summation. When her front door explodes, again, from a barrage of firebending, again, Asami is elated. The triads are invading her home. Again. It's a twisted kind of wish fulfillment, but she doesn't care. Last time, she was a helpless little girl. This time, she'll make them pay.



Part 1 - Far Apart, Close Behind

Section 3: "Bust Some Heads"


"Republic City Emergency Services. What is the nature of your emergency?"

Asami, dressed in a tank top slathered in motor oil and loose pants, weaves around a series of fireballs, slinking into the brief pockets of empty air between the blasts. The flames singe her wallpaper, so she's going to have to replace that. She can already hear something burning around her. She needs to get to the fire control system by the front door or she'll lose everything. Again.

She holds the phone close to her chest, keeping her breath even and her body fluid.

Wait and Listen.

It's a fundamental principle in earthbending and it's just as important in the multitude of mixed martial arts she's trained in since she was six. Self-defense is a bit of a misnomer, Asami knows. It's really more of a fancy way of saying 'counter and overwhelm'. Of course, thats far more difficult without her shock glove. She's left it downstairs with her purse, as she most often does.

Difficult, but not impossible.

"Yes, this is Asami Sato. My home is currently being invaded by…" Asami advances on the firebender, a short woman with a nasty scar on her neck. She smashes her head against the wall with her free hand, splintering the wood. She cracks the woman's sternum with her bare foot, slamming the yelping body into the floor. "...triads. I can't quite tell if it's the Agni Kais or the Triple Threats. Yet."

"Are you in a safe place, Miss Sato?"

Asami rolls her eyes and leans back, dodging a large icicle aimed at her neck. She makes a mental note to call a carpenter when she sees it shatter one of her stained glass windows. "Sure." She spins, avoiding a series of icicles, and easily manages to wrap the phone line around the waterbender's neck. She uses it as a garrote, choking the man out with a well placed knee to the kidney. It's significantly easier, because she smells smoke. Not enough air. He falls to the ground like a bag of rocks. It's unbearably clear that he has terrible fashion sense. "Safe. Let's go with that. It's definitely the Triple Threats, by the way."

"The police are on their way, Miss Sato. An officer will be there in a few minutes. Would you like to stay on the line until they arrive?"

"No, that won't be necessary. I wouldn't want to be a burden," she says as she violently ends the call by bashing another firebender's face in with the receiver. She marvels at the excellent craftsmanship on her choice of telephone. Most models would shatter after far less abuse, but the one she has is merely dented. "Impressive," she mutters.

Asami rolls into her mother's old sewing room, avoiding a cascade of earth tearing up her hallway. Marble is gorgeous, and feels wonderful under her feet, but she's starting to realize the tactical disadvantage of it being so widely used around her home. She grabs a rather large and imposing needle, one used for leather work.

She feels a pang of guilt as she drives it into the stomach of...well, she assumes it's the earthbender who had just torn up a good part of her second floor. Her mother probably wouldn't like that she's using her tools of creation as a weapon. Then again, her mother wouldn't want harm to befall her daughter, so she supposes it evens out.

She takes a quick breath and listens. Four pairs of footsteps, one heavier than the others. Most likely another earthbender. She's very thankful that all of Mako's family are out of the house tonight. She gave them season tickets to the Republic City Pro-Bending games, but this was the first time they had gone as a family.

Tonight is the first leg of the tournament, after all.

Asami slinks against the doorframe silently and makes a rather...exaggerated pained moan. Bait. She blushes, because that was far more suggestive than she intended. Sure enough, the heavy one barrels through the door frame, only for her to take him down by flipping him and dislocating his shoulder.

Asami remembers the triads being more competent than this. She's not complaining, of course, but honestly this is just embarrassing. She ties her hair back into a tight bun and wraps a length of cloth around her mouth to protect herself from the fires that are most definitely spreading. She grabs her mother's pin cushion. She sprints out of the sewing room and dives into the library down the hall, slipping between a flying slab of earth and a fireball along the way.

More burning. More smoke. More ash.

"C'mon, lady, will you just stop moving?!"

Asami smirks, despite the fires. They're getting angry. They'll fight stupid. She grabs one of her father's large encyclopedias just as two more of them barge into the library from the other entrance. She flings the pincushion into the shorter one's face and lunges at the other one, ramming the oversized book into his crotch and knocking him out with a swift kick to the head.

Her other arm is caught in a water whip, and that she can handle. It's the freezing part that worries her. Maybe they're not as stupid as she thinks. She hisses as the cold burns her skin. The waterbender pulls her toward him, which is of course a stupid idea, since she just uses that momentum to punch him in the head with her frozen fist. She continues to use that arm, and that arm alone, until the whip vanishes. The ice, however, remains.

Asami winces and bites her lip as the ice continues to eat at her flesh. She's going to get frostbite if she doesn't shatter or melt it. Shattering it will cause more damage, and she really needs her arm at the moment. She needs a blowtorch, or Mako.

Asami wrinkles her nose. Blowtorch.

Definitely a more realistic option.

She has several throughout the estate, though they're mostly centered around her workshop. Which is outside the manor proper, and thus a little inaccessible at the moment. She'll have to improvise.

"You've got nowhere to run, Sato!"

Asami whirls around to see the arrogant firebender, who reminds her of one of the Wolfbats. She can't remember their name. Fire slashes at her rapidly, and she just narrowly avoids the barrage. She can feel the heat threatening to burn her as a large stream of flame flies by her head. This one is much more competent.

A good portion of the room is engulfed in flames.

Asami's eyes widen.

Fire Whips.

She tumbles between the whips, and one of her larger bookshelves is bisected, as well as set on fire. She hates fire whips. Hates them more than everything. She's thankful that she's never seen Korra nor Mako use that technique. She's not sure she'd be able to look at them the same way if they did.

Suddenly, she's six again. It's the first day of spring. The windows are open, and she can smell the panda lilies in the garden. Her mother is reading her a story about the Kyoshi Warriors. Asami wants to be one, so they're going to vacation on the island in the summer. They hear the front door shatter, and the rest is a blur of hiding, crying and screaming. The next thing she knows, her mother is lifeless on top of her, deep burn wounds all over her body.

There's no blood. Everything is cauterized.

Asami snarls. She sees red. She lunges, crushing her frozen fist into the bender's throat. The firebender still manages to use his breath of fire, nearly searing her face off. She backs away in time, and holds her iced arm close to the flame, melting some of it away. She's going to need a healer. No frostbite. No mercy. The fire is gone, and she grips the bender's neck.

Asami doesn't hear any more footsteps, but she knows there are more of them. Her estate is huge, and they're not here for her. If they kidnapped her, she's not sure who would pay her ransom. Her chest tightens at that realization.

"Why are you here? How many of you are there?" she growls, glaring down at the firebender.

"Wouldn't you like to know, princess-OW!" Asami is having none of this, so she slams his head against the floor.

"Answer the question."

"'Bout twenty of us." The firebender wheezes, clearly being asphyxiated by the smoke that is creeping in through the door. "Just wanted to borrow some of those fancy things you've got locked in the basement, sweet chee-" She knocks him unconscious. She can figure out the rest from there.

Asami rises to her feet. Her eyes burn from the smoke, but she doesn't have time to deal with it. The mecha-tanks aren't even assembled. They're just in crates. The gloves, though. Kali sticks. Biplanes. If the Triple Threats got out of there with those weapons, she'd have more blood on her hands. She can't, won't, let that happen.

She peaks out into the torn apart hallway and finds it empty. As well as mostly on fire. She can't waste time. Asami bolts out of the library and toward the stairs only to be cut off by another three who were clearly waiting to ambush her. Okay, maybe they were playing this smart. The largest one grapples with her and tries to pin her to the ground while the other two ready fire and water. Asami sneers and reverses the hold, sending the large woman crashing into the firebender and down the stairs.

The waterbender gets the better of her and she's caught in another water whip, both arms this time. She's pulled toward the bender, and she rolls her eyes, thinking that they're going to fall for the same trick twice. She aims her feet right at the man's chest...only for him to duck out of the way and fling her toward the second floor railing, and by extension the large open foyer an entire story below her.

Oh. Uh. She has no counter to this. How does she stop herself from flying?! And falling!

Asami's heart stops as the railing ices over, denying her the chance to grab on to it. She falls down to the hard, marble ground. Okay, not dead, just roll as you land. Roll as you land, and then pick yourself back up. Focus focus focus focus. Don't let the house burn down.

She rolls as she lands, avoiding some of the damage. Still, she yelps in pain from the force of impact. She's going to have deep bruises. Everywhere. She groans to her feet, her head a little rattled from the fall, and finds that she's completely surrounded.

WHERE ARE THE POLICE?! HOW MANY YUANS DOES SHE HAVE TO DONATE SO THAT THEY'RE PROMPT?!

"You're going to regret what you did to our friends!"

Fire daggers ignite in too many hands.

"Give up, and we just might let you live."

Icicles hover around her. Very, very sharp ones. The kind that puncture skin and bone.

Asami flattens her lips into a thin line as she looks around the foyer, taking note of each bender's position and most probable element. Nine. Four fire, three earth, two water. She can work with that…if one of her arms wasn't still partially frozen. Also if they were closer to her. And maybe if she had a little backup.

Her front door is also burnt to a crisp, so she'll have to get a new one of those.

Again.

She can't get to the fire control system at the front door. Not yet. They'd take her down if she didn't deal with them first.

"What, tigerdillo got your tongue? Guess you're not so tough now, are yah sweet cheeks?"

Asami frowns. Do not show fear. Showing fear means you succumb to it. Make them fear you. "I'm more stressed than any of you can possibly imagine. Busting triad heads is as about as close to therapy as my schedule will allow." She can't help but wonder why it is taking so long for the police to arrive. If she were anyone else, she'd have been long dead by now. She bounces on the balls of her feet as she gets a second wind from the adrenaline pumping into her bloodstream, clearing her mind of the aches and pains that cover her body.

Okay. Okay. Okay. You can do this. You can fix this. It's just math. That's all it is. Even the odds, and the equation.

"GET HER!"

Asami moves. Fast. She bobs and weaves with hard wired grace and elegance. Well, that and a whole lot of luck. Fire misses her by inches, earth by even less, and water swirls around her harmlessly. If she just keeps moving and attacking, she'll win. The crossfire is pure insanity, and she realizes that it's almost exactly what a pro-bending match looks like. Except it's nine versus one and the one isn't a bender.

And there aren't any rules.

Pro-bending should have less of them, she realizes. Rules. It would be more exciting.

She gets a firebender in a choke hold and uses him as a human shield to block a few boulders and water blasts. He slacks in her arms, so she kicks him toward an advancing pair of firebenders, toppling them over. She sees an earthbender drop into a horse stance in the corner of her eye and quickly hops over the fallen bodies, resulting in some well-timed friendly fire. The earthbender, while aiming for her, had actually trapped his friends in an earth prison.

Asami snickers to herself. She's so clever she often surprises herself aaaaand now she can't move. Her legs won't respond. She looks down to see her entire lower body encased in earth. She was sloppy, didn't mind her surroundings enough, and now she is going to pay very dearly for it. Try as she might, she can't escape earth. Fire? Sure. Ice? Why not. Earth? No. Immovable. That's the whole point of earthbending.

The remaining six encircle her. One fire, two water, three earth. Her heart slams against her chest as she starts to panic. She's probably going to die, or worse. She shakes her head, willing those...other thoughts out of her mind. They wouldn't dare. Would they?

"Any last words, girlie?" one of them asks.

She doesn't have any. She really wishes she did.

Bright headlights burst through the open front door, slashing through the darkness and blinding her and the benders. She hears the roar of an older model satocycle and slaps her palm against her forehead. Of course he'd be the one they call in. It's clearly a waste of time for the metalbenders. It's not like her home is under siege or on fire or anything.

"Better think of your last words first, criminal! Because it's...you're...well, I'm taking you down to central and...monkey feathers, I swear I had something for this…" stammered a very familiar voice. Often times too familiar, in Asami's opinion. The satocycle roars through the front door, lifting into the air with a burst of flames. The vehicle spins in the air, giving the driver ample time to scatter her attackers with fireballs from above. She's almost burnt to a crisp, but no one is asking her.

The officer leaps off of the bike, which slams right into the earthbender that had trapped her, and lands next to Asami just as her earth prison vanishes. "So…" He throws off his helmet, revealing those golden eyes she knows way too well. He notices her frozen arm and quickly melts the ice. She sighs in relief. "How have you been?" Mako asks casually, as if literally nothing is happening. He pulls his undershirt over his nose, most likely to protect himself against the growing smoke cloud seeping into the foyer. "I saw the flames from outside. I'm not letting this place burn down."

"Thanks for the save. They'll be time to catch up later, Mako." Asami shoots him an infuriated look and flexes her unfrozen arm. "I'm in the middle of taking out the trash. Care to join me?"

"Just like old times." He furrows his brow. "Can I borrow that one?"

"One what?"

"That line. It's really good."

Asami chortles. "I don't see why not. It's not like yours will get any better."

"Hey!"

She breaks off into a sprint and keeps on her toes, making it more difficult for the remaining two earthbenders to pin her down. Her feet are a smaller target that way. With Mako here, she's more than confident that she can win. She slides beneath a stream of fire, rolls, kicking out the bender's legs, and slams her elbow into the back of his neck. She leaps forward and strikes the nearby earthbender with a knee to the temple. Both are down for the count.

She turns to see Mako keeping the pressure on the two waterbenders, with the final earthbender already out of commission. Asami runs toward the fight, only to slip and fall onto a large patch of ice that forms below her feat. She exploits this to her advantage and uses the speed to crash into one of the waterbenders, pinning her to the ground and locking her limbs into place. It doesn't work very well, because the ice is so slippery. Still, she manages to knock her out.

Asami pushes the limp bender off of her and carefully gets up to her feet, wary of the ice. The sheer cold is burning her feet and she winces through it. Mako forces the final waterbender against the wall of her manor and deflects her water strikes until she's exhausted and literally out of her element. The bender collapses, finished. He quickly melts the ice off of her floor, careful to avoid the small patch that Asami is currently standing on. She steps onto the now thankfully warm, but soggy, marble and wipes sweat off of her brow.

Mako surveys the damage to her home and whistles. "Wow. So you did all this, Asami?"

Asami tries to catch her breath, hands on her thighs. "Besides the fire damage, water damage, and torn up marble, yeah, this was me. I counted eighteen of them in the manor itself, and that was the rest of them, I think. Fifteen me, you three." She sprints over to a small electrical box by the front entrance and flips several switches.

The fire. She needs to get rid of the fire.

The house groans, and the fire control system comes to life, showering the entire estate with water. Huge fans spin to life and within moments the smoke is vented out into the night sky. Asami is confident that she no longer has to worry about her home burning down around her.

"Smart. I think people would buy this kind of thing on a smaller scale." He pulls his undershirt down. "Looks like I got here late."

Both are true, Asami realizes.

"Yeah, you really did." She tilts her head and removes her makeshift smoke guard. She looks at him. "What took you so long?"

"Well, you did." He jabs a thumb outside her front door. "You've got construction crews working around the clock all over the city, and tonight happened to be the night for highways."

Asami sighs and looks at her feet. Of course this would happen to her. "Traffic's pretty bad, then?"

"It's a nightmare. If I couldn't just boost over the satomobiles, you'd have had to wait for an airship, and 'home invasion' isn't really on the list for approved deployments."

She looks up at him, perturbed. "This is clearly much more than that."

Mako holds up his hands in defense. "Hey, I know. I'm with you. I wasn't even dispatched here, Asami. I heard your address over the scanner and, well, you're not really one to call the police unless it's an extreme emergency. You can take care of yourself."

Asami smiles kindly. He wants to help, without protecting or coddling her. Like a true friend. She's not used to him acting like this. It's a welcome change of pace. "Thanks, Mako. I really appreciate it." She looks over at his totaled satocycle and winces. "I'll...fix that one up for you once we're done here." She catches him staring at her. "What? Something on my face?" she says, her hand on her hip.

He clears his throat and looks away. "Uhm, no, the opposite, actually…"

Asami tilts her head and hums curiously. She remembers she's not wearing any makeup and smirks. "Really, this can't be the first time you've seen me without any makeup."

"It is. You look really different."

"Oh?" she asks, raising a brow. "Different good, or different bad?"

He stares at the ceiling and clears his throat again. "Uhhh…."

Asami frowns and crosses her arms. He really needs to stop being such a child when it comes to things like this. They're not hormonal teenagers anymore, and sometimes he still walks on eggshells around her. It used to be sort of endearing, but not anymore. At all.

"So."

"Yup."

"Korra and I are dating."

Mako's eyes snap to her and she grins as she sees his jaw nearly fall out of his face. His entire head turns red as he sputters in a mad panic. "Wh-what? Are you serious?!"

"No." Asami laughs and waves him off. "I just thought that'd get your attention. Clearly it did." She's entertained the idea, having a...closer relationship with Korra. As to what that would have been, she's not quite sure. That was all before she left, though. Mako, of course, does not need to know this.

"How is that supposed to help me focus?!"

"It got your blood pumping, didn't it?"

"Well, yeah, but in the wrong direction." He clasps his hand over his mouth as soon as the words leave his lips. His head turns even redder.

"Why are you so embarrassed?" Asami snickers. "I mean, it's not like I've never-"

"Please just stop talking. Triads." He clutches his head and grunts in frustration. "Let's focus on the triads because I am an officer of the law and I need to focus on my job right now."

She nods and tucks away that little bit of fun to tease him about later. "Whatever you say, Detective Mako."

"You're mocking me, aren't you?"

"Not entirely."

Mako pinches the bridge of his nose. "Do you even know why they're here?"

Asami raises a brow. "Detective, Mako."

"Which is why I'm asking you first."

Asami shrugs. "That's fair. They're not after me, that's for sure. Somehow, they found out about the...vintage items in the basement," she says, giving him a sidelong glance.

"Vintage? You mean old satomobiles?"

Asami stares at him.

"Oh." He blinks, and she sees it dawn on him. "Oh! Yeah, that's not something I would classify as good."

"You think?"

"I'll call it in." He walks over to his junked satocycle and manages to use the built-in radio. "This is Detective Mako, reporting a home invasion of the Sato Estate by the Triple Threat Triad. Eighteen assailants have been disabled, but I'm unaware of how many are left in the area. Ms. Sato is unharmed, and-"

"Your family went to the pro-bending game, remember? I honestly thought you'd be there."

"...Right. Thanks. Uh, yes, Ms. Sato is unharmed. Requesting backup to take suspects into custody."

"Give me that radio! Mako, what are you doing all the way up the mountain?!"

Mako raises a brow. "Chief? Why are you helping the dispatcher?"

"I don't have to explain myself to you, detective, but if you must know, I make it a habit to keep close tabs on the good ones. Don't let that go to your head. So, why are you there?"

"Chief, come on. Why would Asami call the police if it wasn't something completely insane?"

"Well, I can't argue with that. Let me guess, she took out most of those morons before you even got there, didn't she?"

Mako looks over at Asami with a small smile. She smiles back. "Yep. Fifteen of them."

"Impressive. The Triple Threats don't attack in force like this, not unless they're after something big."

"Yeah, and it's not for ransom either. They want the old equalist stuff she has in the basement...but they can just buy that. Something's off."

"I'm not so sure about that. We've got solid intel that they're pretty short on yuans these days. The Triads have been getting desperate lately, which is mostly thanks to you, Asami. It's a little hard for them to operate when you've been cleaning up the city so effectively, so thanks for that. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is not to be able to complain about the lack of organized crime? The RCPD is starting to get really bored, kid. "

Asami perks up and jogs over to the radio. "Anything for my city, Chief," she says, smiling.

"Yeah, you've made that very clear. I'm on my way out with a metalbending unit. Should be there soon to clean this all up. Asami, I can't order a civilian to do police business, but I'd appreciate it if you could help Mako drag those dunderheads into one place. If you do it before we get there, drinks are on me. Understood, you two?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

"I'll do my best, Chief."

"Good." The radio clicks off.

Asami rolls her shoulders and looks at Mako. "I'll take the second floor, and you can take the first."

"Got it."

It doesn't take her long to haul, and in some cases drag, the beaten and broken triad members down to the main foyer. As she drags them, she's glad to see that the most of the fire damage is cosmetic. Some of the benders are still whimpering, so she kicks them in the stomach. Others are throwing vulgar curses, so she kicks them in the head. Eventually, all eighteen are thrown into a neat little pile.

Asami rubs her wrists as she stares at the horde of dunderheads, as the Chief had put it. "My one day off in months and I have to spend it busting triad heads." She smiles and sits down on the soggy floor. "Is it odd that I found it really calming? I honestly feel refreshed."

"I wouldn't call it odd, just don't make a habit of it." Mako chuckles. "You're starting to sound like Korra. I've never met anyone else who loved beating up criminals as much she did-does." He quickly corrects himself and looks away, but Asami can see how much it hurts him to not know whether or not she's improving.

If she's even alive.

Asami knows she is, though. The proof, the letter, is in her jacket pocket, and it's stayed there for months. Until she sees her best friend again, it will continue to stay there. She doesn't make a habit of reading it, but just knowing it's there helps sometimes.

She looks at her feet. Korra's carefree smile, the way her shoulders would loosen when she centered herself, her ferocity and passion for all things, that tiny glint in her eyes when she finds joy in the banal, as if it's always a welcome surprise; Asami could never quite shake those things from her mind. She never wants to, but still, they're all burnt into her memory.

Something tickles her feet, which is very odd since she doesn't have any pets.

"Mako, do you feel that?"

"No, I don't think so. What did it feel like?"

"It felt like… "Asami looks at Mako and then at the pile of idiots. "The water was…" Eighteen. Not twenty. This isn't going to be good. "Moving. Mako, I think we missed a few-"

The doors to the sitting room explode inward as all of the water that she had just released into the house rages toward it. The force and ferocity of what is essentially a river inside of her house is far beyond anything she can resist, so she is caught by the current. She hits the wall just beside the door, thankfully with her back to it and yelps in pain as new bruises form. She might have a concussion, but she can deal with that later.

"WHAT WAS THAT?!"

Asami struggles to her feet and notes that her foyer is completely dry. The basement. 'Vintage'. Oh. Oh no. No. They aren't after her old equalist tech. "Mako." They want the universal bending en-okay, fine 'chakra suit' sounds better. "Remember that chakra suit from a few months back?"

"Yes. I lit myself on fire. Kinda hard to forget that!" He pauses and slaps his forehead. "Oh, you cannot be serious."

"I think the Triple Threats found out about it," she says, stumbling over to his wrecked Satocycle. She needs to think and act fast, which she is thankfully exceptional at. Hopefully she can...fix this. Yes. She can fix this. This problem. "That waterbender will probably come in here any second, so I'm going to need you to cover me! I've got an idea!"

"Asami, it's probably just a powerful waterbender. It's not like I haven't had to deal with those before. How would they have even found out about the suit, anyway?" Mako steps into the center of the foyer. He takes a stance she's not familiar with, that is, until she sees lightning arc from his fingertips. "I've got this one."

Asami rips out the Satocycle's headlights and wiring. "Mako, that chakra suit forcibly clears the chi pathways in the body! If you hit him or the water with that, you'll either kill him and yourself from the feedback loop, or you'll actually make him stronger!" She quickly removes the Satocycle's main battery, disabling the radio, and then rips off one of the handlebars.

Mako growls and releases his stored energy out her front door and into the night sky. "Why did you even make this?! What possible reason could you have-"

Before she even has a moment to consider answering, the floor beneath them begins to shake violently. "No time for that! They're trying to spook us! We won't know which direction they'll enter from until they're already here!" Asami grabs her salvaged components and begins to sprint up the stairs. "When I give the signal, you get out of the water and stay off the ground!"

Powerful water streams begin bursting in from the windows, shattering them in the process. They pattern is seemingly random. Mako dodges them all expertly, and as far as Asami can tell he hasn't got a drop of water on him. Then, they start coming in from the deeper parts of the mansion's first floor, ripping off wallpaper and parts of the support columns as they go.

Mako bounces on the balls of his feet. "This is ridiculous! They're just toying with us!"

Asami can't hear where the waterbender is. Which is odd. If they're using this much water, she should be able to hear it flowing and splashing on the ground, or at least through the air. There has to be a source. She climbs to the top of the stairs and bounds toward the iced over railing she'd fallen from earlier. "You're probably right. I'll need about a minute or so more to finish this thing, so be ready."

"Got it!"

Asami's hands work a little too quickly for her eyes to see, and she makes several rather embarrassing wiring mistakes. Mistakes that could kill her. "Almost…" She takes a small breath.

Wait and Listen.

She starts assembling her jury-rigged weapon, which could very well blow up in her face. At the halfway point, she realizes that the only place left for the waterbender to come in through would be the-

"THE BASEMENT!" she screams down over the balcony, hoping she's not too late.

Half of the foyer's floor shatters like glass as dozens and dozens of massive icicles shoot up into the ceiling, punching holes in her roof. This is just not her day. She sees Mako bob and weave, barely avoiding the seemingly endless barrage of icicles, water whips and streams. "Sixty seconds!"

"I doubt I've got that long!"

Asami checks the power source of her gadget and is relieved to see that everything is working correctly. She holds down the brake handle, which is now a trigger mechanism, and begins charging the jury rigged weapon. Asami peeks out from over the balcony again and pales.

She's a woman. The waterbender is a woman, suspended in a water spout, and she swears there's a striking resemblance to Korra. The murderous one. The animal that was caged and tossed entire mountain ranges with righteous fury. Wild hair, limitless power that will kill her if left unchecked. Maim her.

Cripple her.

Asami remembers feeling helpless as Korra's body tore itself apart, watching her best friend in unimaginable pain. There was nothing she could do. In the weeks after, there was nothing she could build. Nothing she could...there was just nothing she could do, back then. Not this time, though.

Not this time.

"YOU!" she roars down at the waterbender. "You think I'm just going to let you flood my home!? Burn it to the ground?! Tear up the floors and bring down the ceiling?! JUST WHO THE HECK DO YOU THINK I AM?!" She just needs a little more time. A little more.

"A weak, lonely non-bender who thinks she's something special." The waterbender looks up at her with a crooked grin. One of malice, and it's unsettling because she knows that expression isn't supposed to be like that. "Hah! All of this power at my fingertips, just waiting, begging to be harnessed. This is some nice work you've done. This must be how the Avatar feels."

"You have no idea how she feels," Asami sneers at her. "I saved this city from ripping itself apart, and I'm going to stop you from destroying anything else. Right here. Right now." Drag out the conversation. Few more seconds. Then it'll be over. She can do this.

"Oh really, now?" she laughs, using a water tentacle to toss Mako up onto the second floor with a loud thump. He hits the wall hard and groans as he hits the ground.

Mako gives her a look. "...so I got out of the water,"

"Tell me…" The waterbender rises to meet her face to face, hovering in her water spout. "...what can little miss Sato do that your poor little friend here can't?"

Her weapon clicks and hums to life. It's ready.

Asami smirks. "Think ahead." She brandishes her small makeshift electrical cannon and shoves the barrel straight into the waterbender's chest. She lets go the brake handle and several thousand volts are shot directly into the woman's sternum, violently electrocuting her with a shriek of pain. The waterbender falls back down to the foyer with a sharp crack.

Asami winces and drops her smoking weapon, the excess heat starting to burn her hands. "Ah! Forgot about that." She blows on her hands and shakes them out. "You alright, Mako?"

Mako struggles to his feet and frowns. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay." He walks over to her and looks down at the lifeless waterbender. "Are you okay?.

Asami takes a very deep breath and examines the excessive property damage that was done to her home. "I'll be fine. I'll need to hire contractors in the morning, but-"

"That's not what I meant. Asami, she looks like-"

"I know," she replies bluntly. She practically collapses onto the floor and bows her head. She just killed someone. She...fully planned on killing that woman. No 'heat of the moment', no 'accidental manslaughter'. No excuses. She's fairly certain she killed at least four others before the waterbender, but those were in self-defence.

Hopefully.

Asami feels hollow, and she doesn't know if that's right or wrong.

"Mako."

"Yeah?"

"When you had to take down Ming-Hua, how did you feel afterward?"

Mako sits down beside her. He stares out her non-existent front door. "Nothing. It was a 'do or die' moment, and I had no intention of dying."

"Off the record, I mean."

He's silent for a few long moments. "...I felt like I lost a part of myself. It's one thing to take someone down in self defense, but it's not really the same with…" He stares at his hands. "Lightning."

Asami turns to look at him. "I've seen you use it before, and you didn't kill anyone."

"That's because I never had to, Asami. True lightning only exists to kill. Fire can…" He furrows his brow. "Fire can keep you warm in a blizzard. It can cook the raw fish you found. And sometimes it's just your only source of light. But lightning…" Mako rubs his forehead. "...is a choice you have to make."

Asami frowns and runs her fingers through her hair. She knows he's talking about his childhood with Bolin. Everytime he mentions it, she feels a strong pang of guilt in her heart, because she could have done something all those years ago, even if she didn't know them. Asami knows it's ridiculous to feel ashamed of probability not working out in the way she wants it to, but it hurts just the same.

"Asami." He puts a hand on her bruised shoulder, but it's not too much pressure. He's aware. "You didn't have a choice."

"I know."

"Knowing that doesn't really help, does it?"

"No. No it doesn't."

Police sirens blare outside. They're so late Asami doesn't even know what to say. Who is she supposed to yell at about this? Was there air traffic?! A squad of metalbenders use their cables to descend through the broken windows as well as the holes in her roof. They begin systemically tying up the triad members. She and Mako make their way down to the ground floor, avoiding the broken parts along the way.

"What the flameo happened here? I thought you said you had this in the bag!"

Asami looks up to see Chief Beifong at her front door, hands across her chest and eyes wide in surprise. "No. No, we'll get to that later." She glares at the older woman and balls her hands into fists. "Where were you? What could have possibly taken you so long to get here?"

"I tried to radio Mako, but the signal was dead." The Chief narrows her eyes at her. "Engine trouble." She surveys the colossal damage to her home, almost apathetically. "I think we're done with Cabbage Corp being our primary manufacturer. It's the fourth time this week."

Asami scoffs. "That's all you have to say? That I'll probably be supplying the police with better and more dependable equipment? I could have died! If I were anyone else, I would have."

"You didn't, and you're not. So, what happened?"

Mako cuts in before Asami gets the chance to punch the Chief in the mouth. "We miscounted how many were in the estate, ma'am. One of the waterbenders got a hold of the chakra suit and-"

The Chief pinches her forehead. "Okay, I get the picture." She stamps her foot to the floor and closes her eyes. Seismic Sense. "Five dead, none from burn related injuries." She looks at Asami. "That sounds inaccurate, Ms. Sato. As a non-bender, it's highly unlikely that you were able to take down over a dozen benders all on your own. In fact, many would say that's completely impossible."

Asami narrows her eyes for a moment, fully intending to take that as an insult. But, then she realizes what they're doing. Civilians taking another person's life, even during circumstances such as this, are pretty tricky if it falls outside the realm of self-defense. A few of the members who attacked her died very much outside of that protection. So, they're protecting her.

"Yes. I agree, Chief. As a non-bender, that sounds utterly ridiculous. I got in a few lucky shots, but after that I couldn't do much."

"My thoughts exactly. Mako, would you care to give us a more accurate summation of all this?"

Mako nodded. "I arrived on the scene and had no other option than to use lethal force. The waterbender in question revealed herself to be a bloodbender, and I had the good fortune to strike her down with lightning before she had a chance to attack."

"The water, property, and fire damage?"

"They were using explosives, ma'am."

The Chief shrugs. "Sounds good to me." She scowls and slaps her forehead. "Oh, for…" A badly dressed man comes sprinting in through the destroyed front door, roaring with fire in his hands She raises her fist and raises a column of earth straight into the face of the twentieth, and final, triad member behind her. He's out cold. "Okay, we're done here. Let's get you two to the hospital."

"But, what about the chakra suit?" asks Asami.

"What chakra suit? All I see is a modified wingsuit that will probably be in your mailbox tomorrow morning."

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it, kid. Now, c'mon, you look beat up pretty bad."

As they leave, Asami takes one look back at the waterbender. She really does look like Korra. A spiteful, bitter and far more physically scarred version, but the resemblance is uncomfortable all the same.

"She'll come back," Mako says, following her gaze. "And she won't look like that."

"How can you know that?"

"She's just too stubborn to stay down."


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