After witnessing the death of her mother at the hands of firebending triads, Asami was eventually taken in by the lofty goals of the Equalists along with her father. With her brilliant technical mind, she was able to design the shock gloves to which the police and triads still have no counter. She believed in the cause and distinguished herself as the Equalist field commander, dedicated herself to it, threw the engineering capability of Future Industries and their newly-acquired Varrick Industries toward a better world for ordinary people…until she discovered that their leader’s spirit-given power was nothing but particularly talented bloodbending. Their shock gloves worked well on bloodbenders, she found, but not quickly enough to save her father who had run afoul of Amon. With their senior leadership decimated, Asami quickly filled the resulting power vacuum, taking full command of the Equalists.
With a long childhood of running numbers for one Triple Threat enforcer or another, Mako eventually had a chance to cut his teeth and prove himself to the higher-ups, ripping off the drug and counterfeit goods shipments of other triads. The insular and viciously competitive criminal underbelly of Republic City provided plenty of opportunity for a skilled, efficient firebender to thrive, and Mako found himself under the tutelage of the triad’s boss. With that favor, Mako replaced the ousted Triple Threat firebending lieutenant. When the boss died, Mako and his colleagues tried to manage things together as equal partners—for a time. His youth and more egalitarian ideas rubbed his older partners the wrong way, but they made the mistake of sending their own adjutants to deal with him, people Mako had taken the time to treat well. Where the old guard had maintained their grip on power through fear, Mako understood that respect, duly earned, won him more loyalty than threats. By the end of the night, he was the only boss left standing, and after doing away with his own adjutant who had sold him out, his would-be assassins became his new lieutenants. Securely in control, he set about with his plan to end the kind of gang violence that had killed his parents once and for all…by absorbing every other triad, peacefully or otherwise.
With some help from his older brother’s connections, Bolin was able to get a job as a page in City Hall for the Earth Kingdom Councilor. However, he quickly learned that the only major difference between government work and triad work was the politer conversation, and sometimes not even that. It was where he learned that people only wanted smooth talk and promises of solutions to all their problems, and swiftly decried anyone who was honest about any hard work and sacrifice necessary for promised reforms. Whatever honesty remained in the United Republic’s politics had to be kept safely behind closed doors. By the time he worked his way up to chief page, he was an old hand at the vicious business of politics, and undercut his boss during the republic’s first elections, running his own campaign on his youthful energy and community involvement. Having his brother’s triad intimidate the opposition’s voter base certainly didn’t hurt his chances, either.
Spirited away from her home as a child under the cover of a fire she was led to believe she caused, Avatar Korra was raised as an agent of the Red Lotus. Firm in the belief that her predecessor had made a serious blunder in propping up the United Republic, she set about with her training to help rid the world of the tyranny that governments imposed, like boot heels on the necks of their people. Under a cover of anonymity, her cell operated out of Republic City, stoking conflicts with the Equalists, triads, and police forces, all to erode the public’s trust in the institutions that had held them hostage for so long. Korra kept up her work dutifully, embodying their precepts as her mentor instructed her so that she might one day garner enough respect to assume leadership of her cell and the broader organization.