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Chapter 17-MysteriesEdit

The Next Day, Ba Seng Se, The Office at Varrick Industries Lent To Unit 13Edit

Jet ground a toothpick between his teeth, there had been over thirty attacks in the past six months, and as far as he could tell, there was no pattern to them. He looked over his shoulder at Longshot, who was closely examining a map of the city which was covered in little pins, "Longshot, you got anything?" Longshot mutely shook his head and Jet turned to Pipsqueak and The Duke, who were coming through the door, "Did you find anything?"

Pipsqueak sat down on the bench he always sat on and opened his box, "Aside from these Varricakes? Nope." The Duke took a sip of coffee, "The crime scenes are all really old, and they've all been disturbed because they've had people working in them. Varrick's kept people out of the last factory that was attacked since he got us on the case, but there's not much left. It was completely destroyed by the blast."

Jet sighed irritably, "Smellerbee, you got anything?" Smellerbee looked up from the stack of old reports, "I think they might be Spirit Callers." Everyone looked at her and she continued, "Think about it, they're famous for their stealth abilities. And we all know there's at least one Spirit Caller in Full Moon Bay. He might have brought friends and sent them into the city." Jet nodded, "Alright, good work. Pipsqueak and The Duke, head over to records, get lists of everyone who's come into the city in the past four years. Once we know that, we can cross reference it with people who live close to the attack sites, see if that turns anything up." Pipsqueak and The Duke nodded, "Right." They rose and hurried out.

As Jet turned back to his stack of reports, they came back in, and the sound of wheels on the tiles gave away the identity of the person with them. Teo rolled in and everyone looked up. "Hey Teo, what brings you here?" Jet asked. Teo grinned, "Well I heard you guys were looking into the attacks. Thought I'd come by and see how you were doing. Asami wanted to come too, but she's with her dad at a weapons demonstration right now."

Jet's interest was piqued, "What're they demoing?" "The electroshock weapons Marrow's started using," Teo said bluntly, "which is why I'm here talking to you instead of at the weapons demo." Jet's brows furrowed, "What? How does Mr. Sato have those?" Teo raised an eyebrow, "Asami thinks the people behind the attacks might have stolen the designs. Mr. Sato's been working on the technology for months. Asami was able to make them work in one night, I don't think it's out of the question Marrow could have too. She said ninety percent of the work was already done, and she remembers her dad mentioning that he'd been having trouble with the door to his lab the day after this last attack."

Jet sat back and Smellerbee asked, "So you think whoever's behind the attacks might be using them as a smokescreen to steal our weapons for Marrow?" Teo frowned, "I don't know that they've all been smokescreens, but I think this one might have been a two birds one stone thing. If Marrow's had access to our weapons this whole time, why hasn't he bothered using them before now?"

"He's never really needed any weapons," The Duke said, "He's the toughest Bone-Monger in the world." Smellerbee frowned, "Maybe he hasn't been stealing weapons, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been stealing plans. It would explain how he's so good at taking down our Mechs, practice may make perfect, but he's a little too good. I've seen him put bone blades in the tiniest, most devastating weak points Mechs have, almost like he knew exactly where they were, like he had been looking at their blueprints."

"But if he has the blueprints, why hasn't he built his own Mechs to fight us with? If he had an army of Mechs to attack us with, he'd probably be unstoppable," Pipsqueak asked. Teo frowned, "Well, it takes a lot of metal to build mechs, and he might not have the means to make the more complex parts. You know how many mines we have to operate to keep building new mechs, if Marrow doesn't have metal, he can't build a mech."

Jet frowned, "So if he was trying to build one, he'd have to steal parts..." His eyes widened as he had an epiphany, "And Varrick Industries makes those parts!" He leapt to his feet, "Pipsqueak, The Duke, forget the immigration records, go tell Varrick we need a complete list of all his employees. If anyone knows which factories have the stuff Marrow would need to build a mech, it's the workers. Smellerbee, go tell General McLaren to step up the security on the supply convoys and send scouts to try and find any mines Marrow might be working. If Marrow's been collecting parts and blueprints for this long, he's got to be getting close to done, and he's going to need a lot of metal if he's going to build his own mechs. Longshot, dig up designs on every kind of mech you can find so we can start cross-referencing the parts that he might have taken with the ones he would need. Teo!" Teo jumped slightly, "Yes?"

Jet grinned, "Thanks buddy, tell Asami she's great. We may crack this case before new year thanks to you two!"

A Shaky StoryEdit

Zhao rushed to the Royal Estate and asked to see Lord Ozai, telling the servant that greeted him it was urgent. He was exceedingly fidgety, glancing fearfully at every shadow he saw, then he realized as he was ushered into a room that he was interrupting the royal family's dinner. If he had been scared before, he was terrified now, the most powerful Death Touch in the world were gathered around the table before him.

He bowed quickly and began to babble, utterly terrified of what he had seen and the gazes of those around the table not helping him any. Suddenly Prince Iroh raised his hand, "Calm yourself Commander Zhao. We can only understand so many words in one minute." Zhao attempted to calm himself and began again, still blabbering just as quickly as before. This time Prince Lu Ten stopped him, "Commander, if you would give us a second."

He turned to the beautiful young woman in red with the long dark hair and green eyes next to him, "Visumbra, would you be so kind as to help Commander Zhao settle himself?" Visumbra nodded and looked at Zhao, "You're going to feel a little tightness in your chest." She made a slight squeezing motion with her hand and suddenly Zhao felt something squeezing his heart. His heart didn't slow a single beat, but it wasn't expanding fully either. Zhao began to feel slightly light headed and then the tightness released and he had the odd sensation of blood rushing to every part of his body at once.

He began again, not quite daring to question the presence of a Vampiri at the table and being careful to talk slowly and enunciate so that the Vampiri didn't decide to rupture his heart instead of just giving it a little squeeze, "I beg your pardon for this intrusion your majesties, I have some disturbing news. Admiral Chan has just been assassinated. The assassin claimed Admiral Chan was only the first and appeared to be a Shade your excellencies."

There were a few raised eyebrows and Azula looked at Ozai, "Why father, I do believe your little sheep might be a little liquor sodden." Ursa fought a smile, "Azula, be nice." Azula shrugged and looked across the table at the Vampiri, "Visumbra, what do you think? Is he drunk or just seeing things?" Visumbra sniffed slightly, "He does not appear to have any alcohol in his blood Princess, and from his elevated heart rate, I would guess the man about to enter is carrying the same message."

A man dressed in the garb of butler was suddenly escorted in, he appeared distressed but not half so flustered as Zhao had. He bowed, "Your excellencies, I beg your forgiveness for the interruption, I have just come from the home of Admiral Chan. He was just found dead. He appears to have been stabbed." Zhao looked at Azula, still too flustered to remember that she could kill him in an instant with near total impunity and pointed to the man, "See? I know what I saw."

Azula raised an eyebrow, "But how did you see it and know to report it before Admiral Chan's butler? Was it a Shade, back from extinction, or was it a sheep?" She asked, looking pointedly at him with an exceptionally piercing gaze. Suddenly all eyes were on Zhao, who suddenly realized how very shaky his story sounded. Shades had died out centuries ago, and he had arrived just in time to deliver the news of Admiral Chan's death before anyone other than the assassin could have known about it.

Visumbra spoke, "His heart just skipped two beats. I think he's realizing how shaky his story sounds." Zhao's heart sank as he realized he might have just walked face first into his own demise. Eon might not have to kill him if the Royal Family decided to. Then Visumbra continued, "However, I don't think he could be a commander if he were really stupid enough to come and report a murder he just committed. I could be wrong of course, but the bruises growing all over his body would indicate that somebody or something unfriendly got a hold of him."

Visumbra took a drink calmly, "Perhaps Zhao stumbled onto the attack as it was happening?" She turned to Admiral Chan's butler, "Where was the body found?" "Right outside the gates to his estate milady." Visumbra raised her eyebrows, "Probably trying to leave a message for somebody in case Commander Zhao here decided to run away." Azula raised an eyebrow, "A message for who? Admiral Chan's family? Us? The Empire in general? Some group only the so-called Shade is aware of that he has some odd quarrel with?"

Visumbra shrugged, "Possibly any, all or none of the above. If Commander Zhao is correct, then this "Shade" is not done. Perhaps their next kill will shed more light on them." Azula smiled, "Shedding light on a Shade, that would be a good trick."

The Southern SeasEdit

Omen stirred and woke quietly. She felt very sore, as though she had been hauling stones about all day. It wasn't a feeling she was familiar with, and she decided as she felt how stiff her body was and attempted to pull herself upright only to find herself to tired to do so, it was not a feeling she ever wanted to have again. She attempted to push herself upright with her blood bending and found it resulted in a feeling like a Bone-Monger's grip crushing her skull.

She got almost an inch up before she slumped back with a pained little gasp, the pain impairing her abilities so severely she wondered if she had been robbed of them entirely. A hand slid under her pillow and gently set her upright as more pillows were stacked beneath to keep her upright. Omen cracked her eyes and saw that the hands responsible for moving the pillows belonged to Katrina and Katara.

They were looking at her with concern and she smiled slightly as she saw Aang at the foot of the bed sleeping in a chair and Sokka poking his head in through the door. "Thank you," she said quietly, her voice little more than a hoarse whisper. Then the ground suddenly pitched beneath her and she felt as though if her stomach hadn't felt so empty it would have emptied itself.

"Where are we?" She asked. "We took to sea a few days ago," Katara said, "We're in the captain's cabin on the Albatross." Omen's brows furrowed slightly, "What? Why?" "With the Faceless One on the loose, it's not safe for us to stay in one place too long," Katrina replied as she reached for a flask of something, "So with my father returned, the Council decided that I should accompany the Imperial Party as the Southern Sanctuary's delegate, and to ensure your ordeal in the tunnel didn't make an end of you. Drink this, it'll help ease the pain."

Katrina held the flask for Omen and Omen sipped, wincing slightly at the bitter taste, "That tastes awful." Katrina shrugged, "Effective and tasty don't always coincide. Give it about five minutes and let me know if the pain's receded." Omen managed to push herself a little more upright, "I'm feeling a little better already, how long was I asleep?"

"Almost a week," Katara answered, "We were starting to worry you wouldn't wake up. Aang's been a nervous wreck, this is the first he's slept since we put to sea. He only slept before that because Katrina bonked him over the head when he wouldn't stop fussing about and driving us nuts worrying about you." Katrina smiled as she set the flask back in its holder, "It was quite sweet of him, it was just really annoying. I didn't think he had it in him to be so caring."

Omen looked at the young man she had set her sights on, "Tell me about him. I've only known him for a few days. What's he like?" Katara sat back and looked at him, "I don't really know what he's like now. He's been completely different since he took the Trial of Whispers." "Definitely an improvement," Katrina said over her shoulder as she worked on something on a desk in the corner.

Omen raised an eyebrow, "So, what was he like before?" Katara snorted, "Selfish, stuck-up, spoiled, cowardly, stupid, tactless..." "Don't forget unbelievably arrogant and rude," Katrina added. Omen raised an eyebrow and made a face, not quite believing them. "He's completely different now," Katara added, "it's almost like the Whispers completely altered his personality." "Thus far all I've seen him be since his meeting with the Whispers is polite and concerned about you," Katrina said as she turned back around, a mortar and pestle in hand.

"Which is probably a good thing," she smiled. "Yeah," Katara grinned, "You would've killed the old Aang yourself." Omen raised an eyebrow, "If he's half as bad as you claim, then yes, I expect you're right." Her stomach suddenly rumbled and as she opened her mouth to ask if there was any food available, the cabin door flew open and in came Chuckles with a large plate heaped with food, "I heard her highness is awake." He gently set the plate in her lap, "Enjoy, and do not hesitate to mention if there is anything else you may require."

Omen smiled as he hurriedly retreated and closed the door behind him, "He either has the best timing in the world or the best hearing." "Both!" Chuckles called through the door, earning a smile from everyone in the room, except for Aang, who snored slightly.

Next Time: The Straits of The SkogavdodEdit