Author's Note:

Hello and welcome! I've had this idea for a while now and I feel like it's been begging to get out. I'm not sure how it's going to all happen exactly at this stage, but I hope that what ever turns this plot and these characters take you enjoy the ride. I like to think of this as my interpretation of a sequel to the movie, seeing as they're yet to give us one, which is outrageous. In any case, it takes place after the events of 'Rise of the Guardians'.

As an Australian, I like to think that Bunny and myself are kindred spirits and as such I might throw in slang for him from time to time. I'll try and explain it before or after each chapter.

I don't have much more to say other than enjoy and please feel free to review, feedback is golden.

Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever, own anything associated with Rise of the Guardians or the Guardians of Childhood. I can only lay claim to my OC, Valentina, and any others that might make an appearance.


Prologue

A deafening rumble followed Lady Pitchiner as she ran for dear life down the vast, marbled corridors of her home, a moon residing within the constellation Orion. Gasping for breath, she hastened to find her daughter with lengths of her straight, dark hair flying wildly behind her.

"Emily! Emily Jane!"

She cared not if the Dream Pirates heard her. She was no fool, but she knew that while her husband was well respected as the Lord High General of the Galaxies he had a horde of enemies, each more vile and ruthless than the last. It was for this reason she'd long ago accepted fate may meet her this way. Now they were here it would only be a matter of time.

Lord Pitch, as he was known by his command, had been called away in urgency to handle a threat just off the tip of Orion's Sword. She suspected he was yet to realise he'd been duped. Would help come for them in time? She didn't think so.

Still, she grasped on to a last shred of hope. Rounding the corner, the ornate doors to Emily Jane's bedchambers came into view and she gave one final sprint, throwing them open. Gazing around with darting eyes, she found it completely empty. At first, she could only think the worst and sobbed into her fist. However, as her heart threatened to break in despair, she noticed something, or lack thereof. The right hand side of her daughter's bed post was usually home to a pair of aviator's goggles, made small to fit the face of her wonderfully bright and adventurous six year old. But the goggles were missing, and she didn't need check the dock to know her schooner would be, too.

Good! she thought. She's out on her ship. For once, she was thankful for Emily Jane's rebellious heart. Kozmotis, the adventure you inspired in our daughter has kept her safe. He would never hear her sentiment, but she chose to believe that if she sent that thought out into the universe, perhaps he would somehow understand.

Closing the doors, she barricaded herself in, buying some time before the inevitable. It was only moments later that a crash from the corridor alerted her to the advancing Dream Pirates, knowing full well that the fearlings would be following close behind. Alarmingly, an almighty bang resounded as the doors were being struck with enough force to shake her to her core. They were trying to break in.

They'll be looking for us both, she realised grimly.

Immediately, she began to formulate a plan, for she was intelligent and resourceful, and knew exactly what had to be done. Her daughter was not there, but that didn't mean that, if unfound, the Dream Pirates would allow her to remain so. They would stop at nothing, and she knew the fate of those unfortunate souls taken by these demonic thugs, their dreams sucked dry in mindless enslavement - or worse.

They must be made to think we have died.

Spying a doll, only fractionally smaller than Emily Jane herself, she held it close and arranged her cloak to reveal the suggestion that it might be her child. As she waited with bated breath, she prayed that when all had passed her husband and daughter would find each other again, even once it was too late for her.

The doors were forged open, splintered by sheer brute force, and the ruffian pirates poured their way in. Terrible, deformed and soulless, they came for her. She was already by the window.

"I will find you again, my dear," she whispered for her beloved, a vow to transcend time and space.

"She's got the girl, get them both!" one of them ordered. Before they could reach her with their gnarled limbs, before they could even comprehend what was about to transpire, Lady Pitchiner threw herself out of the window in a shattering of broken glass.


Chapter 1

The world had descended into a joyful madness as the holiday season was in full swing. Lights were lit, fruitcakes were baked and trees were trimmed. Christmas carols rang out in every shop. The days had been getting colder, accompanied by a pleasant chill that made one more appreciative of the coziness of home, with its fireplace and the smell of something delicious cooking.

A figure, who's face was concealed by the hood of his jumper, lounged lazily on a rooftop. He was merely observing the neighbourhood, taking in the festivities and sharing the excitement of children who waited impatiently for the arrival of "Santa's" gifts in just three days time (for North always delivered with impeccable taste). It was truly magical. Or rather, it should have been. There was something missing, the boy thought mischievously. It just needed a touch of Frost…

With a leap he flew from the roof into the waiting arms of the wind which carried him higher and higher, until he could see the entire town.

"Ok Burgess," he announced as he felt his magic start to build, "get ready for your first snow day!"

The small, contained blizzard of ice he had been whirling and wielding in his hands suddenly exploded and then dispersed in a flurry snowflakes, disappearing into the clouds that surrounded him. Within seconds the first snow of winter had begun to fall. Water particles frozen in perfect hexagonal formations danced and spun as they fell towards the earth, catching the amber-rose light of the setting sun in the distance. It was beautiful, Jack thought. By tomorrow the town would be blanketed in snow, then the real fun would begin; sledding and snowball fights, the very best parts of winter.

The fact of the matter was this: Jack Frost's job no longer entailed merely the bringing of winter, but to protect the children of the world along with the other four Guardians. His new role was something he now took very seriously. Well, as seriously as he could when his speciality, his centre, was fun and helping children realise it. But he understood his importance in the grand scheme of things. And in doing so he gained the companionship he'd so desperately longed for during those many lonely centuries, welcomed with open arms into a team of dedicated protectors chosen by the Man in the Moon, himself; The Guardians of Childhood. Even Bunnymund wasn't nearly as resentful as he had been before Jack had taken the oath. The incident involving the "Blizzard of 68" had been forgiven… mostly. In any case, he had proven himself to be a valuable member of the Guardian's united front and took a great deal of pride in the idea that he helped save the world from a new age of chaos and darkness some years ago. And Pitch? He hadn't been heard from since he was attacked by his own devices: polluted dreamsand that formed the fear-sensing Night-Mares. He had retreated underground where he was possibly lurking in his lair to this day. For the time being at least, light and dreams had vanquished fear.

The sky, which had deepened into an inky indigo following dusk, was suddenly illuminated in gold as the Sandman made a grand entrance, bringing with him the sweetest of dreams to fill the children's heads. Jack had perched on a new roof to watch as his fellow Guardian got to work.

"Perfect timing, Sandy!" Jack called to the golden man as he approached on a cloud of glittering dust. In salutations, Sandy sent a friendly wave toward him which transformed as he reached out to to touch it. The glittering silhouette of a dog leapt to life and played in shambles with him, eliciting a peal of laugher from the winter spirit as they dodged each other this way and that. All around them, Sandy's dreams were helping the children of the neighbourhood into the realm of sleep, a fireworks display in slow motion.

With the knowledge that the dream weaver still had plenty of work to do, Jack was about to let the wind carry him home to the North Pole, but he was halted by the sounds of someone, a child, crying. The whimpers were coming from an upstairs room of a nearby house. It struck him as odd, given that the golden sand was effectively at work everywhere else. So with an apprehensive curiosity, he floated over to the window to investigate. Unfortunately what he found was deeply troubling.

"Sandy! Quick, get down here," Jack called up to him insistently. Sandy descended with a large question mark over his head and an inquisitive expression on his face. "I don't know what's going on, I mean you're the expert, but kids aren't supposed to do that," he gestured into the room of a girl aged around 7 or 8, "are they?"

The Sandman peered into the room and was shocked. As his dreamsand was attempting to work on the girl, it was fighting against a dark substance that was all too familiar to them both. In a messy tug-of-war one attempted to consume the other, causing the child to become distressed in her sleep. Jack felt his concern tighten in his chest. The presence of crystallised fear meant only one thing.

He pressed an icy hand to the window pane, leaving a light frost in its wake. "Is there anything you can do?"

Sandy raised an eyebrow at Jack's misconstrued dismay and glanced at him as if to say really? Of course there was. After being destroyed by Pitch, the man had practically been resurrected from the dead and still managed to come out on top. Making light work of the situation, he eradicated the black sand with ease. The girl settled and, with some extra help, began dreaming of everything that was wonderful to her. They departed from the window to leave her in peace, landing in the middle of the deserted street.

Jack began to speak with a hushed urgency. "If that stuff is here, then we have a problem."

Sandy nodded vigorously as symbols and images flashed at a rapid speed above his head, too fast to be comprehended by Jack.

"You have to slow down, man, you know that's not helping," he sighed apologetically. It wasn't the dream weaver's fault that his translatability often ran away with his excitement.

Sandy exhaled sharply in frustration. Instead, he conjured up, in miniature, a tall, sharp figure, with a pointed face and cloaking that seemed to melt into the ground. Jack's hands tightened protectively around his staff.

"I know. It's got to be him."

Sandy nodded gravely. Out of nowhere a dark mass too quick to be seen raced past with a shriek, nearly mowing them down in it's path. Stumbling into attack mode, Jack Frost and the Sandman stood back to back, prepared to fight whatever was threatening them. But they saw nothing and the street fell silent once more. Jack was breathing heavily, adrenaline coursing through his veins. He glanced around wildly on high alert.

"Did you see that? What in the.."

Sandy tugged at the sleeve of his jumper, trying to get his attention, and pointed down the road. There, at the edge of the park, a pair of yellow eyes watched them silently. Then with no noise at all, their owner disappeared into the shadows without a trace. Jack felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end - but the cold was not to blame.

"You know what this means," he determined.

The Sandman's expression hardened into a grimace.

As much as it filled him with dread to acknowledge, it was apparent their mortal enemy had decided to fight back once again. "So much for peace and quiet around here."

Together, Jack and the Sandy made the journey to the North Pole which also served as headquarters for the five Guardians. For the spirit of winter it was something of a homecoming. He had unofficially moved into the base and in the end it had almost become a necessity. Being believed in was definitely an improvement from the life he'd led perviously, and an essential part of being a Guardian. However there were some drawbacks, for instance the manner in which he existed had to be changed. His home had always been the town of Burgess, for as long as his memory served him. But being believed was to then be seen, and although sightings by the local children weren't the end of the world, it was important a sense of mystery remained. So when North suggested for him to take a room for his own (as far away from the workshop as possible at Phil's request), he immediately agreed. And if anything the constant winter was a bonus.

With a graceful agility they touched down onto the floor of North's central room, some unfocused elves scrambling out of the way just in time. The giant model globe rotated on its axis gently above them and was aglow with millions of lights, each one representing a child who believed. Jack nudged Sandy in reassurance.

"Well, at least that thing's still going," He chuckled. His companion, however, seemed vaguely unconvinced and busied himself with trying to locate the man they sought. At that moment, Jack's attention was caught by something less than favourable. Directly above Burgess, several lights had begun flickering until, after some seconds of deliberation, they went out all together. Out of the corner of his eye he saw two other lights begin to waver, one in New York, and the other in Baltimore.

"Uh oh.. That can't be good." he noted to himself. He became aware of some commotion coming from the main corridor. The decidedly Russian owner of the booming voice raised it to a volume where snippets of the heated discussion could be heard.

"…No no no! I tell you to just make them bigger, yes? But instead I get this?!" In reply there was grumbling that grew into a yell - evidently one of the yetis.

" But this is not…what… who approved this? Agh! Fine, make it work. I give up… three days.. neveroyatno!"

The grand doors leading into the main room burst open revealing a less-than-jolly, Nicholas St. North. He caught sight of them and instantly brightened.

"Sandy! Is nice to see you again," he greeted with a bone crushing hug. "And Jack," North folded his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow suspiciously, "don't think I don't know that disappearing act for three days has nothing to do with frozen wrapping machine."

"Oh what, that?" Jack played along innocently, "No, those are two completely unrelated.. things. Uh, maybe you left the door open," he laughed sheepishly.

"Yes. And maybe elves did not short-circuit conveyor belt this year, eh?" North proposed sarcastically.

"It might happen," Jack shrugged with a grin.

"Enough talk, I am busy man. Is there something I can do for you both? I am trying to negotiate errors three days from Christmas."

"Actually yes," he began, "and believe me, we would not bother you right now if it wasn't important. You see, we ran into each other by chance and something really strange happened. A kid was having a nightmare, despite the dreamsand, and it looked like it might have been one of Pitch's."

To prove the point, Sandy reenacted what happened as he had tried to confront the tainted sand.

"Then one of those things, the Night-Mares, appeared out of nowhere nearly taking us with it. Unfortunately it disappeared in the park... the point is it looks like they're active again."

"Ah katastrofa," North exclaimed, "if you saw one of those then Pitch must not be far behind."

"Not only that," Jack continued, "but just now I saw the light of that kid flicker out. And the same thing is happening to kids in other cities too. I'm not sure if what we're dealing with is exactly the same as before but it's moving fast and if it keeps going we could have another crisis on our hands."

They turned to look at the globe, spinning slowly behind them, only to see that almost half the lights were out over the east coast and inner United States. The three of them stood in silent shock.

"This is worse than first thought," decided North. "Prepare yourselves. I am going signal for Tooth and Bunny." With hefty strides, he hurried over to the control booth and turned the key that prompted the Northern Lights.

"Wait, what about Christmas?" asked Jack in bewilderment. Surely he couldn't simply press pause on such a large operation.

"At this rate there will not be Christmas if problem is not fixed," said North eyeing the globe with worry. Already there were lights disappearing over England, with darkness spreading to Europe as well.

"The children of the world are once again in danger and is up to us to act as their protectors. I am not sure if we will survive another attack so soon after the last." Over head the Man in the Moon shone brighter than ever. "But," North added knowingly, "I think Manny has an idea."