Hands clasped tightly behind his back, Mako took several deep breaths as he stood in front of the station. Tenzin's arrival was making the situation very real. Police officers were dead and they had been murdered in their own home. But the part he was still have difficulty wrapping his mind around was the fact the Chief Beifong was dead. He wasn't the only officer having a hard time at the loss of his boss; every person who had worked for her was gathered in the area.
The call had come in a couple of hours before sunrise. Two relief officers had arrived early for their shift. They had walked right into the left overs of the massacre that must have taken place sometime around midnight. At first, there had been panic. Who do you call when the police have been attacked? Before anyone realized they were already dead, the first few officers on the scene had attempted to contact both Chief Beifong and Assistant Chief Saikhan. Next on the list was every Captain and Commander in the chain of command. And the President of Republic City.
It had taken an hour to identify all seven officers: Beifong, Saikhan, Han, Lee, Ming, Suma, and Yuke. No one had wanted to go in. The offices had been a mess and they had a hard time determining who could still be saved. Mako had been called in when the President had ordered all members of the police force to appear. By that time, they knew that Chief Beifong was among those killed. From that moment, the entire city had been put into lockdown and all the officers had been sworn to silence. Until they knew what had happened, there was no need to cause a panic.
It had been President Raiko's decision to call Tenzin and Korra. They had tried to contact Zaofu, but had only been able to leave word for Suyin Beifong to contact the President. The next logical call was to Tenzin. It was well known that the airbending master would be up with the sun, so it wouldn't be too early. Tenzin had taken the news quietly, but Mako guessed that the man was in shock. Mako was glad that President Raiko had directed him to wait outside for Korra. He wasn't sure he wanted to see Tenzin break down over the Chief.
A Satomobile sped up to the barricade that had been put up this morning. A few reporters had arrived after the lockdown had been put into place. Obviously, something had happened, but they hadn't been getting any answers. But the arrival of the Avatar after that of the President and Master Tenzin had put them back into a frenzy.
The officers had been instructed to let the Avatar through when she arrived. The presence of the Satomobile and not Naga meant that Asami was with her. For once, Mako was relieved that Asami had accompanied Korra. Ever since their return from the Spirit World, Mako found himself in several awkward encounters with the new couple. No one seemed to be able to believe that he was genuinely happy for them. Sure, it was a bit weird; not that they were a couple, but that he had dated them both and then they had become a couple.
Mako steadied himself as Asami threw the Satomobile into park in front of him. Both women leapt out of the car quickly. "Mako, what happened?"
"The Police Station was attacked sometime around midnight last night," Mako said robotically, using his police persona to get through this particular notification. He took pause though, trying to collect any sense of calm still within his body.
Korra's eyes had surveyed the area, taking note of the numerous police officers that seemed to be in various states of distress. Snapping her attention back to Mako, she pressed again, "Did someone die?"
"We lost…" Mako's throat was closing quickly. Asami quickly grabbed his arm in concern and Mako tried to pull strength from her. "Seven officers were killed last night."
"Seven?" gasped Asami. Korra's hands balled into fists and she drew her shoulders up to an impressive stance.
"That's not…it's…I have no idea how to say this," mumbled Mako. He'd notified families of victims before. But somehow this was different. Maybe it was because he hadn't had a chance to process the Chief's death himself. But he could tell Korra was about to storm into the Police Station and she needed to know before she got in there.
"Mako, I'm so sorry," murmured Asami as she tried to hug him, but Mako shook her off. He had to tell them before he lost his voice.
"Chief Beifong was killed last night," Mako finally blurted out. Both women stared at him in disbelief and he couldn't blame them. His heart was hammering from saying the words out loud. Even the President hadn't been able to say those exact words to Tenzin. Tenzin had just known suddenly that his old friend was among the dead.
Korra seemed to deflate suddenly and whispered, "Are you sure?" All Mako could do is was nod. Not for the first time this morning, he felt like being sick. He could see the tears welling up in Korra's blue eyes and Asami wasn't even bothering to hide the wetness on her own cheeks.
"How? What happened?" Asami's voice trembled. Korra reached out to take Asami's hand. Mako wished he had someone to steady him. Or at least, maybe if Bolin was here, he wouldn't feel so alone. But he wasn't looking forward to telling Bolin that one of his heroes was dead.
"We don't know. Four officers are at the hospital now, but we haven't been able to speak to them yet. They're still in critical condition." There was a very small chance that two of the younger officers were going to make it. The healers had made that very clear. But Lu and Quon had a fighting chance. Lu's partner Gang was at the hospital with a two other detectives to collect their statements when they woke.
To Mako, Gang and the other detectives had just as hard of job as those inside documenting the scene. Mako knew that if he had been there last night, he wouldn't want to have woken up in a hospital to learn that his friends and boss were all dead, but he had somehow survived. He didn't envy telling Lu and Quon that they were the lone survivors.
"Who's in charge?" barked Korra suddenly. Mako knew that the Avatar dealt best with horrible news by facing it head on. The initial shock had begun to wear off and Korra wanted to do something. He understood. That's why every officer in Republic City had gathered here. They needed justice.
"Captain Roan. Saikhan was killed as well," replied Mako. As Korra started to stalk towards the Station doors, he stepped into her path. "Please, Korra, they're still in there. Let the police do their jobs."
"I just want to help catch the bastards that did this!"
Asami squeezed Korra's hand and tried to gently pull her back. "Mako is right, Korra. This is personal for everyone. The President wouldn't have called you if he didn't want your help. But maybe we should let them finish here first."
"Tenzin is inside right now with President Raiko. We can wait for them…" Mako turned back towards the station and stared up at Toph Beifong's metal statue. A fleeting thought came to him: would they build a statue for Lin Beifong as well? She would hate that. He was pretty sure she hated the statue of Toph. But he also had a suspicion that she hadn't had it removed because Toph hated it equally as much.
There was movement by the doors and a few officers went inside. Asami nudged Mako and asked, "What's going on?"
"They have to move their…bodies…to the morgue at the hospital," answered Mako firmly. That was one of the reason these officers weren't on the streets enforcing the city wide lock down. Five police officers and two chiefs would be guarded even in death. Everywhere they went until they were finally laid to rest, they would have an escort. This had been done for every police officer had died, either in the line of duty or of natural causes. Republic City had never buried a Chief of Police though, so there wasn't really a protocol. The original Chief Beifong had retired and Chief Shiro had retired to hand the command to Lin. Shiro had moved to the Fire Nation years ago where he lived with his wife.
The Station doors opened and all the officers in the area snapped to attention. They gathered to form a line between the doors and the waiting ambulances. Four officers carrying a long shiny metal box walked solemnly through the doors. A hush fell over the group as five more boxes came after the first. Mako raised his arm to hold a salute as the makeshift coffins passed by him. Metalbenders carried the next box and Mako knew that Assistant Chief Saikhan's body was laying in it. All six boxes were loaded carefully into the back of the ambulances. Then the officers that had carried them fell into line with the rest of them.
Beside him, Asami wrapped her arms around Korra and buried her face into her shoulder. Korra was crying now and Mako didn't blame her. They knew who the next box would be carrying. Mako straightened his back into attention as Captain Roan and Detective Shu appeared, holding the first rungs of the final metal box. Someone had taken the time to carve the Republic City Police emblem into the top of the metal. Tenzin and President Raiko were carrying the back of the esteemed Police Chief's coffin.
Like every other officer on the line, Mako stood with his hand in salute. He wasn't even sure if anyone was breathing. There was no noise from Satomobiles or carts or the normal bustle of people. Republic City was silent. The few reporters that had showed up did not raise their cameras or ask any questions. This silence lasted until Chief Beifong's body was loaded into the back of the last ambulance.
Mako slowly lowered his salute, but otherwise had no idea what to do. President Raiko was speaking with Captain Roan. His attention was captured by the red and gold robes of Tenzin as he approached them. His eyes were red and for once, Mako thought Tenzin looked old. Beside him, Asami let go of Korra long enough for Korra to throw herself into Tenzin's waiting arms. Asami reached out to grab Mako's hand and pulled him toward Korra and Tenzin. Before he knew it, Mako was enveloped into a large embrace with the rest of them. Normally, he would have pulled away, but not today.
After a minute, Tenzin took a shuddering breath and murmured, "We need to get to Air Temple Island. I told the President I would get in contact with Su. Mako you are welcome to come with us."
"No sir, I think I need to stay here," Mako replied and Tenzin nodded in understanding. "I need to tell Bolin and I'm sure he'll meet you at Air Temple Island."
"We will find who did this. I promise." The older airbender patted his back with affection. Mako tried to nod confidently, but he failed. Tenzin guided Korra and Asami back to Oogi. Mako watched them take off before turning and walking back into the Police Station. He had to find Bolin.
It would be a short ride to the new part of town where Asami had helped Bolin set up a new Pro-Bending Gym. Bolin was training earth benders to be pro-benders and, with the help of several other pro-benders, changing the game to welcome in new airbenders. Asami had dictated her own section of the gym to sparring classes for non-benders. Future Industries was backing the gym, but Bolin was the front man.
However, when Mako reached his patrol car, he couldn't bring himself to open the door. He gripped the keys so hard that they were cutting into the palm of his hand. How was he going to tell Bolin that the Chief was dead? It had been hard enough to tell Korra and Asami. He kicked the door of the satomobile and cursed at the pain that shot through his leg. He forcefully pulled the door open and sunk down into the seat, his head in his hands. It took several deep breaths before he was calm enough to start the ignition and drive away from the station.
Republic City seemed quiet this morning. Of course, most of the city was just beginning their day and they were going to wake up to the news that the Republic City Police Department had been attacked. After all that had happened over the years, Republic City had been enjoying a sense of peace over the past few months. Since there was very little traffic, Mako reached the Pro-Bending Gym without any problems.
He used his key to get in the side door to the gym and glumly climbed the stairs to Bolin's loft. With a heavy hand, he knocked three times on the wooden door that had the Fireferrets' emblem carved onto it. Inside he heard Pabu's chirping and then a loud thump that must have been Bolin falling out of bed. A few seconds later, he heard, "Who is it?"
"Mako," he called back and the door swung open to reveal a yawning Bolin in his boxers.
"Come in, bro." Bolin wandered aimlessly back into the loft and slumped back into bed facedown. Pabu jumped into Mako's arms as a greeting before rushing to curl up on top of Bolin's back.
Mako sat down in a chair and gave a deep sigh. He wasn't sure how to start the conversation, especially since Bolin was starting to snore again. Glancing around the room, he spotted a picture on the kitchen table. He pushed himself up from the chair and grabbed the frame. It had been taken six months ago when Asami and Bolin had opened the new gym.
Asami and Bolin stood in the middle with a large pair of clippers to cut the ceremonial ribbon. Korra stood beside Asami and Mako and Opal stood next to Bolin. Also in the picture were Tenzin and Jinora, representing the air nation, and seven other pro-benders. Next to Tenzin, with her hands clasped behind her back, was Chief Beifong. She had attended the opening because her officers would be handling the crowd control, but Mako wasn't sure who had convinced her to stand in the picture.
His eyes began to mist and Mako placed the picture back down on the kitchen table. To keep himself from crying, he pulled open the little door to the ice box and saw that Bolin only had eggs and milk. Smiling at his brother's lack of responsibility, he grabbed a few eggs and the carton of milk. In no time, he had whipped out some scrambled eggs.
By the time he had plated the eggs, Bolin had crawled back out of bed and to a chair at the table. Mako silently served his brother and took a seat across from him. Pabu and Bolin noisily shoved the eggs into their mouths. Bolin looked up, his eyes open now, and mumbled, "You want some?"
Mako's stomach turned over and he shook his head. Bolin's world was about to be shattered and there was no way he was going to be able to keep food down. "Listen, Bolin…something happened last night…"
Bolin's eyes flickered away from his plate, now empty. "You ok?"
Mako wished that his brother didn't have the intuition to know when something was wrong with him. He watched as Bolin's face changed from hungry and sleepy to concerned and confused. Taking a deep breath, he launched into the news, "Someone attacked the Station last night. It was bad, Bolin…"
Mako leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He was beginning to cry again and this time, he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to stop it. "Bolin, the Chief is dead. They're all dead…seven people and it may be nine by tomorrow." He let out a gasp as the pain gathered in his stomach.
Bolin's arms were suddenly around his shaking shoulders. He could hear his brother's own crying and he grabbed Bolin to try to steady them both. The brothers clutched each other in a sobbing embrace. Mako had worked so hard when they were growing up to make sure they never felt the loss of their parents again. They only depended on each other. But after Korra joined the Fire Ferrets, everything had changed.
They had a family again and somehow, the stoic Chief Beifong had become a part of that family. She had given Mako a chance to turn his life around and become a police officer. He honestly didn't know what he would have done without her. And now she was gone. For Bolin, the Chief had been a hero. For Mako, she had been the mentor he never knew he needed.