Chasing the Dark Star

Bang Bang

"Bang Bang"

The back of his throat and his ears itched as the bass pumped through him. Over and over the beat hit a peak and changed pace; the mob of people on the dance floor grinding into each other, oblivious to anything and everything. Mako resisted the urge to cover his eyes, the lights flashed a dozen colors as they raced with the beat. He forced his way to the bar, shoving past the couples lost in each others mouths. Past the booths with groups of people laughing and taking the things he would normally arrest them for. But he wasn't a cop, not now. He finally reached it, the clear glass bar filled with a hundred different liqueurs in a thousand different bottles. He had to fight the sound to be heard.

"The hard stuff." was all he told the bartender, and he simply nodded back, handing him a bottle and eyeing the edge of his coat. Mako stared back, twisting the cap off the bottle and taking a drink. The bartender left and Mako ignored the urge to vomit as the alcohol slid down his throat, burning as it went. He had never been much of a drinker, he felt he lost too much control when he drank. Again his thoughts drifted to Bolin, of their childhood in the under city, dealing with the gangs and pervs, dealing with the sick ones who would buy or sell anyone or anything for a few credits. Again he resisted the urge to vomit. Not now, not yet. He wasn't ready for it to be true. How could he ready himself for that kind of truth? He took another swig and drifted away from the bar, letting the writhing of the mob carry him to a booth. The beat changed again and with it the world was bathed in red, then blue. Back again and again the lights changed, torturing his eyes. The booth was occupied, a group of women huddled together, laughing as they enjoyed themselves. He plopped down, taking another drink and ignoring the world around him.

"I'll be home next week. I'm so pumped, these back world harvest planets are so boring."

"It can't be that bad, there has to be an upside."

"Uh, no, dude, there isn't. We literally sit in orbit or walk around a little station for a few days as they ship the stuff up to us."

"Is it pretty? I heard those places have great views."

"Nope... I think I can say with expert authority that one farm is exactly like the next one. And the last one. The one before that had a little brown area, I think, but other than that it was the same. OW!"

"What are you doing...Bolin..."

"No. No, I'm just... no. No I'm not. Okay, I think I can do without the sarcasm. What do you mean it wasn't sarcasm. NO, I DO KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!"

"Okay, I'll talk to you later bro. You're obviously busy."

"No, mister guard dude guy, I am not trying to sabotage... BECAUSE THAT WOULD KILL ME TOO! I DON'T WANT TO DIE! Have you ever tried using your brain on the job? DON'T TOUCH THAT!"

Mako felt himself smile. A sad smile as he took another drink. His smile widened and he couldn't stop the laugh from coming out. It was soft at first, then louder and louder till he had tears in his eyes. But he couldn't tell if they were happy or sad. He didn't notice the woman next to him till she put her hand on his shoulder, wrapping her fingers around the bottle. She laughed with him till he stopped and she just smiled at him. Her eyes red and her pupils were dilated. She laughed again and scooted closer to him, her short dress showing a bit too much.

"What's so funny?" she whispered into his ear with a generous use of her tongue long after her words stopped.

"My brother just died." he spoke calmly and she leaned back, pouting at him, pushing out her lower lip as well as her chest.

"Wow, that sucks." she placed a hand in his lap and she leaned close again. "But I have some stuff that will take the edge off." she slid her hand up and he stared into her eyes, watching as she went from an artificial pleasure to confusion. She looked down, her hand had hit his utility belt and his coat had opened, his badge shining with the strobe lights dancing off it. She pulled back, her eyes wide with fear as she scooted away.

"I'll just pretend that didn't happen." he dropped the bottle on the table and walked away. He fought the current of the mob, bouncing from one person to another as he pushed his way to the restroom. Even outside the door there were couples locked into each other. He thought for a moment about how much he hated clubs, about how much he hated this place. He thought about how it reminded him of the places he spent his time in working as muscle. He pushed his way into the restroom, the music becoming a dull noise buzzing in the back of his head as the door shut behind him. He rounded the corner, the bass still thumping in his chest as he stared at everyone. One wall was a solid metal counter with sinks every couple feet and a mirror that covered the rest of the wall above the counter. The other wall was lined with urinals and stalls. "Get out." everyone looked at him. One looked to his friend, snorting a line of powder and Mako stared them both down. The one stepped at him and Mako pulled back his coat and the guy put his hands up, smiling as he grabbed his friend and they left the bathroom. He was alone now, or as close as he was going to get. He pulled the scarf from around his neck as he made his way to the furthest sink from the door. He ran the fabric through his fingers as he listened to his comm ring again. He set the scarf down, pulling out the comm and running the sink.

"Yeah?" he didn't bother to check to see who it was.

"Hey, it's me... uh, Sai. I'm just... are you in a club?" Mako splashed water on his face and looked into the mirror.

"I told you I needed a drink." his voice was flat and low.

"Okay, okay. I now you are going through a tough time..." Mako gripped the comm tighter, the parts making an audible sound as they slowly bent from the pressure. But he stopped before it broke.

"Don't go down that road. What do you want?" he was in no mood for his sympathy.

"Fine, okay. I feel work helps anyway." Sai was scurrying around the point and Mako didn't like it.

"What work." it wasn't a question, more a statement to make him move on.

"Okay, uh. Changpu is dead. They found him in his apartment." Mako stood straight, shutting off the water.

"Who found him?" his inerest peaked, his grief dulled for a moment.

"A Tower investigator. I think it was that lady from earlier. They already called in a private team and wrapped the crime scene." there was chatter on the other end of the line.

"That's a fast investigation. He was only sent home a few hours ago." he felt like his head was filled with puzzle pieces as he wiped his face on his coat sleeve. Or maybe it was the booze. "How did he die?" he didn't answer right away.

"They say it was a robbery. Some guys came in and smashed the place and killed Chang because he was there." Mako rubbed his temple.

"Since when did robberies require Tower cops? No, that doesn't add up. That Tower cop was looking for him and now he's dead and they handle the investigation, just to wrap it in what, half an hour?" he didn't know if it was the booze or the grief, but he saw something deeper. "Changpu was the first on the scene... that's why she wanted to talk to him." his mind wasn't as sharp as it could have been, but it was still putting together the pieces.

"And? I think you might be trying a little hard here buddy. She found his body and called it in. It happens." Mako was less than convinced.

"Yeah, it does. I could take that. I could take that he died in a robbery. I can take all of it besides the time frame." Mako turned and leaned against the counter.

"What?" Sai simply seemed confused.

"He was the first on the scene to a life pod crash, and he just so happens to be killed as soon as he gets home, with Tower cops after him... that doesn't seem odd to you. All of that happening in just a few hours." there was a sigh.

"Yeah, it's weird." he admitted.

"Okay, well, let me know if you find anything... wait, did you get prints from the shell or the finger?" his mind was spinning and he suddenly felt exhausted.

"Well, no. Nothing salvageable. And remember that clip you got from that guys shoulder, the flower? Well, I tried to ID it and I got hit with a clearance wall. So, maybe you're right." Mako sighed and closed his eyes, feeling the bass pump through the wall. The music got louder for a moment then dulled again.

"Hey, Sai... would you mind doing some digging for me? Just... look for anything out of the ordinary and call me later." there was a pause before he answered.

"Uh, yeah. I'll see what I can find and call you later." Mako heard footsteps and saw three guys in cheap track suits standing shoulder to shoulder.

"Thanks." he said absently and shoved the comm in his pocket. "Can I help you guys?" the one in the middle smiled, his front teeth covered in gold.

"Uh, actually I think you can help us. You see, we heard there was a cop in the club, and we don't like cops." the other two shook their heads and Mako held up his hands.

"I'll leave then." he said calmly and the guy with the gold teeth laughed.

"No, you see, we don't like cops in our club. It's a point of pride for us to be cop free. So when a cop comes into our club, we need to make a point with him." Mako lowered his hands and looked over all three guys. It was obvious what was going to happen.

"Well, right now I'm not a cop." he threw out and the guys laughed.

"Really? Because I see a badge." Mako took a deep breath. His head was swimming and he was tired, but that didn't stop him. It didn't stop him from pulling off his coat and folding it up, placing it on the counter with his scarf. It didn't stop him from taking off his belt and holster and placing them on his coat.

"You guys are lucky. I feel like punching something, I guess you'll do." He took a deep breath and took a step forward, turning to the side and spreading his legs, one fist outstretched and the other held close. The guy with the gold teeth smiled and the other two came charging forward. Even it if was only a second it felt like an eternity as he waited for the fist strike to come. It came from the man coming in on his right, a wild punch. He launched himself forward, deflecting the fist and landing his own in the mans cheek. He knew the knee was coming as he stepped back, out of his knees reach and launched forward again, ducking under a fist to land a punch to his ribs, then his cheek. The man stumbled and Mako felt a fist land on his jawline. He cursed himself as he spun around, grabbing the mans shoulder and throwing him into the counter. He ducked under another punch and kept hold of the man, spinning him around to take a kick and slamming him into a stall door. The first guy missed again as Mako slipped away, leaning back over the counter to avoid a fist and rushing forward, slamming his shoulder into the the second guy, sending him through the stall door. The other guy threw another wild punch and Mako fell back, again and again he slipped the mans angry punches, waiting for the moment to slam his foot into the man's knee. He twisted and fell and Mako landed a knee to chin, sending him into the counter with audible sound of his teeth cracking. He didn't see what the third guy did, he didn't hear the pipes exploding and he didn't hear the grunt of effort as he slammed into the ceiling, smashing a light and sending sparks everywhere. He landed on the tiled floor with a wet thud.

"I told you, we don't like cops." Mako let out a series of coughs and groans as me made his way to his knees. He was wet, everything was wet. Water was freely flowing from a busted pipe on the wall. It was loud, flying across the room and causing a stall door to bounce off the wall of the stall with resounding cracking sounds, over and over. His head was swimming and he felt like he just fell out of a building as he looked up at the guy with gold teeth. He had taken a pose, his legs spread and his arms waving slightly as a stream of water circled him. He smiled and threw his arms forward, the stream passing through the rushing water and exploding into Mako's chest. He went across the room, slamming into the far wall and again landing on the floor with a groan and pieces of tile.

"And I don't like benders." he nearly growled as he stood up, closing his eyes and struggling to take a deep breath. His shirt was soaked, everything was. His clothes clung to his skin, his mind was sluggish, his body ached and his vision blurred. He was hit harder than he thought. He looked at everything, realizing that even on a good day he would have trouble reaching the guy, and today was a bad day. Gold teeth laughed and Mako took another breath, turning his side and waiting. It didn't take long for the stream of water to shoot from the man's hands. It was cold and lightning quick, but Mako darted to the right, his hands barley reaching his holster as a jet of water shot at him, just barely missing his head as he fell. It was quick: his hands yanking the pistol free, the two shots and the streams of water hitting the wall just behind him. The bullets tore through Gold teeth's leg, ripping flesh and smashing bone. He dropped, screaming and writhing and bleeding. Mako rolled onto his back, coughing and groaning. "I'm just going to do that first next time." he ignored the screams of pain. He was to focused on the pressure in his ribs. He touched his side, hissing in pain. "Yeah, guns are better." it was the alcohol talking, he knew. It was the alcohol that made him do everything. It was a struggle to get up from the puddle he was in. his body ached and his mind was fogged with pain. He pulled himself up with the help of the counter. It wasn't till he was standing that he felt the pain above his eye. He felt the cut, the blood mixing with the water on his hands. He looked at the wall, realizing that it was ice being shot at him. That was close, these guys get better and better.He grabbed his things, clicking on the belt and throwing the coat over his shoulders. The dry articles of clothing hung on him, soking up the water from his shoulders. on him. He heard the music again, just for a moment before some hapless club goer stumbled into the restroom. It wasn't till he almost fell over Gold teeth that he realized he just stumbled into something bad. Mako looked at him for a moment before picking up his casings.

"Holy crap." even drunk the man was shocked at the sight. The broken pipes, the blood and the three guys rolling around.

"Hey, you. Hey..." the guy looked at him, wide eyed. "Call the cops." he didn't move. "I said, call the police." he pulled out his comm, smart enough to do what he said. But he stammered and stuttered when the line connected. "People are hurt, there is a bender." he echoed his words into the phone and Mako walked passed him, ignoring the flowing water as it pressed his clothes onto his body. The music had barely changed, and nobody noticed the gunshots or the screaming. It probably mixed rather well with the music. He pushed through the crowd, shoving people out of the way and staring them down as they tried to shove back. He felt the eyes on his back, the staff obviously confused that he walked out, not thebouncersthey sent to beat him senseless. What did I do?He had a sobering moment when he pushed into the lift. He closed his eyes and listened to the blood rushing in his ears, the music giving way to the sound of thunder and rain. The trip to his shuttle was slow, soaked and sullen. He needed sleep.As if tomorrow will be different.

He took manual control, cutting the shuttle in and out of the flow of traffic, the sound of the rain smacking against the shuttle the only thing he could hear. It was a short trip, full of sorrow and frustration. He was angry at himself for letting his emotions take control. He knew what would happen, the club would finger him in an assault. They would wring the Department for everything they could. And he would be thrown in some dark hole deep in the ground. He knew this wasn't over, someone would retaliate. Not yet, not yet. It was all he could do to keep from lashing out at the controls before he landed in the garage making up the top floors of his building. The shuttle whined and shut down as he opened the door, the sound of the rain ever present and the sound of thunder drawing his eyes to the sky. It lit up as lightning flashed and he took a deep breath, moving quickly over the worn concrete of the garage. It was old and cracked from years of weight and exposure to the weather, but it was still solid. He looked around the garage as he waited for the lift, moving his coat out of the way, just in case. The lift announced it's arrival with a thud and a ding. He was soaked to the bone, leaving behind wet footprints as he stepped inside. He pressed his floor button repeatedly, trying to make the doors close faster. It was a full minute before he stepped out of the lift, the only sound was the whirring of the motor as it descended further behind him. He made his way through the twists and turns till he found his hallway, his door, and stopped. The lock had been picked and the door as slightly ajar, a faint voice could be heard inside. Mako took a deep breath. That was quick. He drew his pistol, slowly pushing open the door. He stepped inside, the lights were off but he knew his way around, avoiding the piece of flooring that creaked whenever stepped on or the chair he was too lazy to push all the way in. He made his way to the only source of sound. He waited, just around the corner, taking slow breaths to steady himself. How did they figure where I live so quickly?He swung around the corner, his weapon at the ready, but he wasn't ready for what he saw.

"HANDS!" he called out to the figure digging through the hallway dresser. The man turned slowly, his gray uniform torn and bloody and burnt. He was covered in scratches and scraps, dirt and sweat coating his face. But all Mako saw were the big green eyes. "Bolin..." Bolin rushed to him, throwing his arms around him and giving a nervous chuckle. Mako pushed him away for a moment, looking him over and pulling him into a hug. It was short and bittersweet, a whirlwind of emotions passing through Mako.

"I know I should have called first or something, but I need your help. Do you have any first aid stuff, I thought you would and wow, you are soaked." his voice is quick and distracted.

"Bolin, what is going on? They said you were dead. All hands lost. Wait, you were looking for it in a hall dresser?" Bolin turned around and looked at the dresser.

"Right, bathroom. And I was panicking, why do you even have a dresser in the hallway?" he bolted in one direction then the other, looking for a bathroom, exclaiming in triumph as he found it.

"I got the place as is... wait, are you hurt?" he grabbed Bolin by the shoulders, looking him over.

"Yeah, it's kind of hard not to get hurt when your getting shot at and spaced. I have cuts, like, everywhere. Here, and here, and this big one here." Mako narrowed his eyes and shook him.

"Spaced? What do you mean spaced." Bolin blinked a few times, marching over to the bedroom, aid bag in hand.

"Yeah, it was awesome and terrible at the same time. I thought I was dead but she saved me." his answer was simple as he opened the door. Mako looked inside at his bed and he saw her. A darker skinned woman, curled up in a ball, bleeding from several places and shaking like she was freezing. Her breathing was shallow and her skinned looked like she had just been taken out of a freezer yet she was drenched in sweat. He moved closer, slowly, cautiously. She watched him closely with weary green-blue eyes. He looked her over, noticing the numbers tattooed on her arm and her hair matted to her head from sweat. She reached out and grabbed his wrist, her left ring finger covered in a makeshift bandage.

"Don't shoot..." she tried to smile and her arm fell away. Mako looked at his hand, realizing he still had his pistol drawn. He holstered it and noticed the blood on the sleeve of his coat.

"Bolin..." he turned around and saw him standing there, exhausted and weary and Mako could only give a sad smile at the sight of him. "What did you get yourself into?" Bolin scratched the back of his head and gave a big smile.

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