Oh boy, this chapter was a doozy. But hey, it's here, isn't it? My gosh, I'm so sorry for making you guys wait for so long. How long has it been? I think I last updated this in September. BUT THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN.
Since I'm updating, that technically means that this story is not on a hiatus anymore. However, this does not mean updates will be as frequent as every two days. More like once a week, if even that. I will most likely get out one chapter per every two weeks. Also, it does not help that I am extremely disappointed in everything Ninjago at this point, so my inspiration may be somewhat lacking. In addition, I will be taking a new course at my school, and I have no clue what that means for homework. I can't set up an update schedule until I'm for sure.
Also, there will be no review replies on this chapter because of the long wait. All reviews are appreciated, and you readers and reviewers are what push me to continue this story. Thank you all for everything. YOU fans have significantly brightened this year, and I wish you all a very happy New Year. Again, THANK YOU.
2018 here we come!
Their flight on the Ultra Dragon had taken a lot longer than Jade had expected.
First of all, they had been riding on a dragon, which had immediately given the moon mistress the impression their trip to the Tunnel entrance would go by in a fair amount of time, if not even faster.
But that's not what happened at all, to Jade's dismay. Instead, the trio had been stuck on the ethereal beast for at least 2 hours, and Jade was the only one without a saddle to sit on. Because of this, the elemental dragon's rigid scales had dug into her flesh the whole entire time—cutting through her thick clothing—and they had left tiny red imprints all over the skin of her legs.
Not only was their time in the sky uncomfortable, it was extremely dull, nothing to look at except the glaring ocean that reflected the harsh sunlight back into their eyes. There were so many downsides, and what was even worse was the forethought of enduring that same discomfort on their way back to Ninjago.
Now on the solid ground, Jade stretched out her sore limbs, reaching down to touch her toes, then lifting her arms up and behind her head and pulling. Her joints cracked and popped as she did this, but Jade hardly acknowledged the disgusting noises as relief flooded through her. At long last she could feel her bottom half again, her body below the waist no longer numb.
"Feeling better?" Misako asked as Jade continued to exercise her arms and legs in order to increase blood flow.
"Yep. Totally, now that I can feel my backside," Jade chirped, pausing to gesture to her butt in a circular motion. At this, the historian couldn't help but let out a small chuckle.
"Ah, I see." Her head gradually bobbed up and down. "Yet that's probably either Wu or I's fault for not making sure we had an extra saddle on hand."
Jade let out a sharp puff of air through her lips, brushing off the older woman's comment. "Psh, I wasn't even supposed to come with you guys in the first place, so it makes sense why you didn't have one prepared for me. It's really no big deal," she fibbed, for once successfully faking a believable smile. One that Misako actually bought, which in the end was all that truly mattered.
"Oh. Well, that's a relief. I couldn't help but feel guilty our whole way here," Misako confessed, her hazel blue eyes breaking contact for a brief moment.
"You don't say" is what Jade would have preferred to respond with, but that would have been rude. And after all of the hospitality this woman had shown her, even without the knowledge of her true identity, it seemed as if shutting her own mouth for once would be the best course of action. From experience, she knew that bad-mouthing the wrong people could turn pretty ugly fairly quickly if she wasn't careful.
Instead, she settled on saying something much kinder. "Well, there's no need to feel guilty. We all got here in one piece, which has to count for something, right?"
"Right," Misako affirmed with a nod, then averted her attention to back to Sensei Wu, who was in the process of setting up the electric jack Cyrus Borg had generously lent to the ninja.
It was as if Wu could sense their eyes trained on him, for he raised his head at that exact moment. "It is almost ready, but this jack will not be strong enough to lift this door by itself." Sensei signaled to the huge block of stone the ocean waves were slapping against, yet the water was not as high as Misako had grossly exaggerated about an hour or so earlier. From the way she made it sound, the doorway was supposed to be submerged under the ocean entirely, not just barely. When they had first arrived, Misako had gone back on her word, describing the occurrence as extremely rare. Uncanny, at most.
Either way, Wu knew plenty of methods to open the entrance that didn't involve the ocean water flooding the Tunnels. Ways that he wouldn't disclose, but Jade and Misako knew better than to ask. Even if they did, they wouldn't receive an answer.
"So we'll have to help lift it too?"
"Yes, that would be correct, Jade," Wu replied as he returned to his work, occasionally switching between buttons on the contraption.
"Do you even know how to operate one of those?"
"I may be old, but not incapable of operating anything electronic."
"Is that a yes or a no?"
"Jade, don't you think that's enough?" Misako cautioned, placing a hand on the teenager's shoulder.
"Oh, right. Sorry if I insulted you." Jade blurted, blushing slightly.
"You are fine. At my age, after training as many students as I have, you get used to all of the pokes and jabs. But please, the elderly man jokes do get old," Wu responded in an indifferent voice. Not even a moment later, he heaved an exasperated sigh. Misako took note of this.
"Is there a problem?" she asked, kneeling down in the sand next to him.
"I can't believe I'm admitting this, but for once I wish that lightning master was here. This device is powered by electricity." Wu indicated to the useless jack, then carelessly flung the remote into the sand.
Remembering something, Jade began to crack her knuckles "Not a problem," she said confidently. "I have three wishes to use. Wait a minute, couldn't I just wish the door open?"
"Don't." Misako grabbed her forearm, squeezing it tightly, yet not until the point where it hurt. "You cannot wish this door away. It is vengestone, a mineral that has the power to block out all elemental powers."
"Yes she can," Wu intervened, and the historian looked up at him in surprise. "It is most certainly possible, especially for her." He rose to his feet, but not before scooping up his bo staff.
"How is that possible?" Misako countered, her eyes unbelieving. "No element is immune to vengestone except for—"
"Golden power." They both came to the conclusion at the same exact moment. Realization took hold of Misako's features, while Wu gave a nod of agreement.
"And Golden Power is an element that Moon is capable of harnessing. Moon has the capacity to access both light and darkness. But in order for Moon to unlock their Full Potential, one must first choose a side," Wu explained, the bottom of his bamboo staff leaving faint impressions in the sand as he paced back and forth. "And it is an involuntary choice. If their heart is impure, it will automatically be darkness. If pure, light will shine on their path." He stopped in front of Jade, his staff hovering just above her left shoulder.
I'll have to choose between light and darkness? A troubled expression crinkled the mistress of moon's features, accompanied by an uncertain frown. Along with this formed two lucid images in the recesses of her subconscious mind—one a picture of Lloyd smiling vibrantly, the other of the Overlord flashing his mouth full of menacing, serrated teeth. But what if my heart is impure?
Her throat grew uncomfortably dry, so she swallowed to salivate it. "I'll have to choose?" she asked as if to confirm her worst fears. "But how will I know when the time is right?" Or when my heart is in the right place?
"When the time comes, you will know when it is right," stated the Sensei. "But for now, we have a scroll to attend to. Do you mind?" He pointed to the doorway with his staff, taking a step back to allow Jade through.
"Oh. Right," Jade shook her head, yet her doubts still remained. How would she be able to know which side she was on? Last time she checked, she was on the ninja's side. Now, she wasn't so sure about it.
Putting one foot in front of the other, the troubled moon mistress trotted across the sand, then halted a few feet away from the large stone archway in front of her. As she stared up at it, she gulped. The closer she got, the more ominous the door appeared.
"Is there something wrong?" Misako asked after a moment, but Jade just kept her gaze trained on the door.
Slowly, her eyes closed, darkness her new friend. She blocked out the sounds of the waves lapping the shore, the wilderness behind her, and even her own thoughts.
After a moment or so of waiting, she was met with the familiar prickle of energy coursing through her, which meant that a shooting star was within range. Then she wished upon it, imaged that the door was gone, and her eyes flew open.
Before her, the towering door began to shimmer until it disappeared entirely. It was now or never.
In a brisk movement, she grabbed both Misako and Wu's wrists, then sprang into action. On her first step, the door began blinking rapidly, a sign that the star she had called upon was too weak to support her spell for very long. Even though they had a good chance of becoming stuck midway through the door, Jade kept moving, until the point where she was practically dragging Wu and Misako in the sand.
Faster and faster the door flickered, turning back to stone, but this didn't deter Jade one bit. Digging the balls of her feet into the sand, Jade flew across the beach. Although it didn't seem as if they would make it, something in the back of her mind told her that she couldn't stop now. It just wasn't an option, for the Golden Island Scroll was far too valuable to leave unattended on the Dark Island, the Overlord's domain.
With a grunt, she burst through the opposite side of the door, barely making it through in time. Not even a second later, the door returned to its natural solid state, bathing them in pitch darkness.
Out of breath, Jade struggled to breathe in the musty air of the damp and dark environment they found themselves in. Luckily, Misako lit a torch before Jade's claustrophobia could dictate her next few actions.
Why did I come on this mission again? Jade pondered as she nervously ran her fingers through her hair. There was no reason she had to go with Wu and Misako, but then again, she did know the Overlord's base like the back of her hand. If they had gotten lost in these Tunnels, never to be seen again, she would never be able to forgive herself. These were Lloyd's relatives, Misako his mother and Wu his Uncle. And after losing her own mother, Jade would never wish that feeling of bereavement on another human being.
Even with a justified reason for being here, Jade still snuck wary glances at the narrow, winding path ahead of them. It appeared to go on forever—never ending—which caused Jade's throat to tighten.
"Strange…" Wu murmured as he ran his fingers across the moss-covered wall, bringing the moon mistress back to reality.
Not only was there a thick layer of moss covering every inch of the wall, for there were also deep cracks running through the weathered stone. In some places, there was even seaweed poking between the brick.
"What is it?" Misako asked, stopping next to Wu to see whatever it was he was looking at.
Curious, Jade blinked, before joining the elders at the front of the Tunnel. Finally, she caught sight of what they both had their eyes on. Underneath all of the grime on the walls, there was the rough outline what appeared to be a helmet.
Wait, is that...
"The Helmet of Darkness!" Jade and Misako both shouted in unison, their voices traveling down the corridor and decreasing in volume as they grew farther and farther away.
"Precisely," Wu responded, using his staff to brush away the rest of the cobwebs and dust that hid the hieroglyphics from the world.
"But why would a that be here?" Misako asked, reaching out with her opposite hand to remove the remaining moss. "Unless this was where…"
"...most of the other stone warriors ended up after the first battle between good and evil." The Sensei finished, his voice fading into the crackle of the fire. "Which would also explain how all of the stone warriors were able to get to the Dark Island before us. As opposed to crossing the whole sea by means of a boat, they traversed these tunnels."
Misako nodded slowly as if processing the information. "T-That actually makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider how long it took us to get to the Dark Island in comparison to how quickly they found their way there. However, that also means bad news for us. Just like the cavern under Ninjago City, there must also be a stone warrior stronghold up ahead."
"Oh, and there is," Jade spoke up, and Wu and Misako both turned to her eagerly. "That's where the Overlord's base is, so it must be connected to these tunnels—"
"Wait, you knew the location of the Overlord's base?" Wu's brows creased in distrust. "Why didn't you tell us sooner?"
"Well, here's the thing: I didn't exactly know where it was. Sure, I knew it was near the coast of the Dark Island, but I didn't know its precise location. I also knew that it was a part of a system of tunnels, but not these specific tunnels."
"But you still knew its general location and decided not to tell us? Jade, I would have sent the ninja on this mission if I would have known this sooner and—"
"Look, I know that was my bad, and I admit it. But that doesn't change the fact that we're here now. If the Overlord ever decides to show his ugly face around here, I've still got two wishes left and a full arsenal of elemental powers. He definitely wouldn't stand a chance—"
"Look, Jade." This time it was Misako, concern wrought deep into her features. "That's the least of our concerns right now. He's not here. While we were on our way here, the ninja sent out a distress signal. Ninjago City is under siege, and the only way to stop this madness is to obtain the scroll. Otherwise, we really don't stand a chance. Especially with no word from Lloyd and Zane no longer with us."
"W-What?" Jade asked in shock, taken aback by the revelation. "The Overlord is in the city?" Out of habit, she began smoothing out her hair. "But the armor is in the city! If he gets the armor we'll never be able to stop him and— Oh, you've got to be kidding me! I can't believe this is happening again! If only I had wished him away when I had the chance—"
"Jade, this is not your fault," Wu interrupted her, his voice neither reprimanding or angry. "And there is no possible way to permanently rid the world of the Overlord, no matter how powerful your elemental powers may be. Lloyd's power is the only thing that can temporarily subdue him. No other element is strong enough. Not even Pazan's, and her powers are the closest to Lloyd's of any other living elemental master. Closer than yours, Jade," Wu stated, and the moon mistress hung her head, inhaling a sharp breath.
She could feel her anxiety building up like stalagmites rising from a cave floor, poking tiny holes in each of her vital organs. Adding to this, she could feel her face becoming hot, bile rising up the back of her throat. Unconsciously, her blood increased in temperature, pulsing through her temples and raising the veins on her face. Man, the Overlord really pissed her off sometimes. So much so, it felt as if she were a young child again, her temper out of control and her words filled with bite. When she was younger, temper tantrums were just a part of everyday life. Because of the Overlord, she discovered that these same issues were resurfacing.
Clenching her teeth, Jade gritted out, "Well, I've got two wishes left, so I'm gonna use them accordingly. First things first, I'm getting out of these freaking tunnels. You guys can stay here and keep searching if you want to, but I'm gonna go and find that Overlord. Don't worry: I'll pick you guys up on my way out."
"I'm going to his base first, so meet me there," said Jade, and Wu and Misako shared an unsure glance. They had never seen this side of the moon mistress before.
"If the Overlord's lackeys are all in the city, it should really be no problem. And if there are any stone warriors still there, I could probably fool them or something since they're so gullible." Jade paused, trying to think of something that Lloyd would say. He would finish with something wise, something selfless, or something bold.
Finally, it came to her, and she allowed a small smirk. "If I'm not there when you guys arrive, just leave without me. I've got my own business to take care of, which involves a lot of kicking the Overlord's butt. Unfortunately, that doesn't include either of you." And with those words, Jade spun around and took off into the shadows.
"Jade, wait!" Misako called after her, followed by the thudding of footsteps. They were chasing her? What was the point in doing that? They would never catch her, that was for sure.
"Jade!" This time it was Wu, his voice surprisingly frantic. But she wouldn't listen. She just kept running, gaining more and more speed as she rounded the first bend in the tunnel.
If my heart is impure, there's only one way I can change my destiny. If I defeat the Overlord, surely that'll do something, right?
That same heart pounded against her ribs, air rushing in and out of her lungs as she flew down the corridor.
If only Lloyd were here, Jade thought, her despair momentarily causing her balance to waver. I could use his help right about now.
He would know just what to do in this situation.
Jade power-walked down one of the hallways, ducking into doorways to see if anyone were there. Oddly, she hadn't encountered any stone warriors yet, and it was even stranger when she saw the main computer terminal abandoned.
Where is everyone? Jade wondered, picking up her pace. The more rooms she investigated, the more discouraged she became. It seemed as if the Overlord just upped and left the island. But why would he do something as foolish as that? Was it because she knew the location of their headquarters? Was it because she escaped and lived to tell the tale?
"So you finally came crawling back, Jade. Unfortunately, the Overlord isn't here at this moment."
Startled, Jade froze in place. Slowly, she turned her head in the direction of the familiar unfriendly, deriding voice.
Yet nobody was there.
"Where are you, you evil nindroid? Show yourself!" the moon mistress growled, raising her fists in front of her.
"I would, if I wasn't stuck in this cell. Look to your left."
Scanning the area before her, Jade cautiously crept forward until she finally saw him.
Two emotionless blood-red eyes stared back, as scornful as ever, and Jade frowned, deep creases puckering her cheeks.
"Did the Overlord finally figure out that you were going to thwart him?" she asked calmly, tapping her foot in mild interest.
Zane remained motionless, his eyes never leaving hers. "Yes, and no. Rather than discovering what I was going to do, he locked me up before I received the chance to do anything at all."
"And how did he manage that if he couldn't even stop me from escaping? Aren't you supposed to be the terminator or something?" Jade remarked, smirking as she awaited his response. Zane did not appear to have a reaction to her comment.
"He stole my elemental power, doused me with water, and left me here to rust," Zane stated, his facial expression unreadable. "Which is highly illogical, considering that titanium is resistant to corrosion."
The moon mistress was about to retort, but she faltered. "Wait a sec, are you meaning to tell me the Overlord now has the ability to steal elements?" Jade shook her head in disbelief before shouting, "How? How is that possible?!"
"No no no, of course not. But with the help of Master Chen, it is. With the power of the elemental staff, he can steal anyone's elemental power," Zane explained, then his eyes narrowed. "Including yours."
Jade rolled her eye, tossing her hair over a shoulder as she turned away from the nindroid. Just as she was about to walk off, Zane called out to her.
"Wait!" the robot shouted, and Jade whipped around to find Zane in a state of perturbation, his eyes darting to and fro. Quickly, he composed himself, yet he still let out a nervous laugh."You can't possibly leave me here."
"The hell I can't," Jade snorted in partial surprise, "and I will. All you've done is try to kill me. What makes you think that I'd magically trust you all of a sudden?"
"Well…" Zane lowered his voice, gaze shifting once more. "I know the Overlord's plan. And if you don't release me, you'll have no way of knowing what exactly that is."
Jade didn't really like the sound of his proposition, yet she was still willing to listen. "And how do I know you're not lying?" She arched a brow.
"Look, all you need to know is that it involves your friend Lloyd—"
"He's your friend too, you know."
"Oh, don't even get me started there, Jade. But that doesn't matter right now. What matters now is that the Overlord holds the fate of Ninjago in his hands. If he completes his plan, there will be no stopping him."
Jade's heart fluttered in fright. What was the Overlord planning? "Alright, here's the dealio. You give me the lowdown on the Overlord's latest scheme, and I'll let you out of there. If you refuse to cooperate with me, I will wish you to the furthest reaches of outer space. You hear me?"
"Loud and clear," replied Zane. "Also, for your information, I do not expect to, nor do I want to receive your trust."
"Good, because you're not getting it. Now tell me what's up."
Obstinately, the nindroid shook his head. "No. You free me, then we talk."
Jade stamped her foot into the sand, standing just above the Overlord's lair. She couldn't believe that robot had duped her into letting him out of his cell. The first thing that pathetic robot did was run, and now Jade had lost him in the foliage.
In a fit of rage, Jade swung at a tree, but Zane just caught her fist, causing her to jolt back in surprise.
Before she could say anything, Zane's red eyes slitted, immediately silencing her. "You don't get it, do you? The green ninja—"
"Dontcha mean Lloyd?" she shot back, shoving the nindroid back against the trunk.
"—is still on this island," Zane finished bitterly. "Yet you still don't seem to believe me. The last thing the Overlord plotted while I was still second in command was an ambush. However, he spoke of many different locations of where to stage it. His main focuses were the Temple of Light and The Tunnels."
The mistress of moon's brows furrowed until the realization hit her like a bucket of ice water to the face. Lloyd traveled to the Temple of Light with little to no protection, making him an easy target for the dark lord. From what she gathered, Pazan was a pacifist—not a fighter—and Garmadon stood no chance against the Overlord alone. In fact, nobody did.
Except for Lloyd.
"Out of the two locations, I take it you know where he is?" The titanium robot cocked an eyebrow, and Jade's lungs deflated.
Lloyd was in no condition to fight the Overlord. Especially not alone. Never alone.
"I can't believe I'm listening to you right now, but I'm gonna take your word for it," she muttered, grabbing Zane's wrist and squeezing it until she swore the metal was bending under her fingers. "But if you're wrong, I'm serious about that space thing."
"Oh, don't worry. I'm not." Zane grinned, and Jade scowled. "I'm never wrong."
Rolling her eyes, Jade released his wrist, spun around, and took off into the wilderness. She didn't even bother to check if Zane was following her. Right now, that was the least of her worries.
Don't worry, Lloyd.
Whoa, is Zane actually helping Jade? What is going on? Is he turning good? What is Zane hiding? And what exactly IS the Overlord planning? Find out in the next chapter! (Which is the chapter I'm looking forward to writing. So far there are at least 23 more chapters!)