"Even if the whole world despised you, I'll always love you."
Those were Fang Yin's dying words to her newborn son. From the start to the very end, young waterbender Yin lived a bitter life. Bullied as an orphan, no opportunities to obtain proper education, working all her muscles and emotional strength to support herself as she got older. There were no highs, all Yin knew was anything but happiness. Sad, sad life.
She performs waterbender tricks for entertainment by day, and sells her body at night. As a prostitute in the slums of the Fire Nation, she was never taken seriously. Yin was treated a slave, thrown about like doll by clients and left alone once it was over. In the end the most she could buy with the money was enough food to suffice for a little while.
After one of those terrible flings, she had gotten pregnant. Pregnancy was the toughest things she had to go through, and she was only 18. It was harder to work and even harder to get the money she would need. She was scorned, ignored, no one wanted to help her.
But the idea of having a child gave her hope. That was how she made it through the nine months up till her death. She ran out of the slums and out to the countryside, in the rain, where she begged a farmer tending to his herd to let her stay for at least a short while. The farmer was reluctant but nonetheless allowed her to lie in the pigsty.
Hours of agony later, Tao was born. He had her hair, bright red. This baby was Yin's first and last high. It made her cry, and she held him close and promised him good future, before saying those last words. When the farmer had found them, Yin was already dead. Tao's wails were the only sound that night.
So life after Yin's passing? The farmer who allowed Yin to stay was old and in no shape to take care of a baby, so he sent him to an orphanage. Tao grew up scrawny, and was an easy target for other children. The bullying almost mirrored Yin's years as a child. The quiet kid often had to find places to hide so the other kids couldn't find him. It became an advantage. While the others were stronger, Tao was more agile and witty.
He was calculative. This was put to good use when he was 9. He learned to waterbend, unsurprisingly. The last kid who bullied him came out wet and even bruised in the aftermath. The next kid was rendered unconscious. Tao became a monster among them, so the other children ostracized him, even the patrons became a little fearful and tried to avoid him.
No adoptions came for him, and Tao was stuck in that orphanage for a long, long time. But he trained himself, his bending and his wit, which was getting sharper and sharper as the years go by. The cunning kid then got tired and ran away at 14, relying on his smarts and bending to survive on the streets. Sometimes things didn't go his way and bodies would be left behind. Tao wasn't even mad. In fact, he enjoyed taunting them and playing around before getting down to business.
His reputation spread and then he was found by an underground gangster group who wanted him to join their ranks. The Black Tigers were a feared group among the slums of the Fire Nation at that time, and had had some members observe young Tao to see his worth. They were not disappointed.
Tao's wits were a remarkable gift, however, and dangerous. The leader of the Black Tigers wanted Tao as his right hand man, promising him he'll be a fine, powerful ally in the gang. Tao was suspicious, but he joined in, thinking he could scoop up information from the group for future reference.
Tao was a member of the gang for a long time, about 2 years and little over it. His tasks went from infiltrating other gangs to stealing riches and generally terrorizing the area like any other typical criminal clan. He grew handsome and a formidable bender. His loyalties remained with his leader but I mean.. you know, Tao has short attention spans. Maybe that's why sometimes he just can't keep his eyes on one woman.
A mission of theirs went wrong somewhere after his 17th birthday, and it caused an uproar among the factions in the slums. Wars erupted among the gangs and plenty of civilian, gangster and police blood was spilled. Tao had expected this, thus left the group. How he did it? He was with his leader as the upper ranks discussed plans of attack. Tao was the only one who objected, and the leader wanted to use him as a weapon of sorts, and of course Tao was not about that life, and chaoed out the door. Not after a little brawl, of course, the leader was furious of his decision and such. Tao easily beat the leader's underlings before casually walking away..
A new chapter began. All his past underworld work he hid under a brick and appeased himself to the public. One thing led to another and suddenly, with the help of a new friend, he was part of a booming business in the Fire Nation, Ryuu Inc, a famous engineering company. He named it after his friend, and it was incredible for someone so young. Tao was something like a prodigy after all. But under the goodie goodie scheme was a notorious man who still had links in the underworld. Sometimes things were done so dirty you can't help but wonder... Tao was a very influential man, however, so the topic was never risen.
At 19 years old, Tao's work shifted him to Republic City, where his interests laid on a faction known as The Syndicate. He has some links through the underworld, so he'd the words of it before it flew by. He smiled as he stepped into the city's borders, a very mysterious smile. Boy, he was going to have fun.