Happy Halloween! Well, early Halloween, but still Halloween season. I recently watched the finale for the Ice Chapter of Season 11, so I thought it needed some kind of conclusion on how the ninja were feeling after the events that took place, especially Zane, and it's Day of the Departed time again. So yeah, a seasonal oneshot. Enjoy :)
"Lloyd, Lloyd!" The green ninja turned his head, he had just been spat out of the portal and landed face down on the ground, much to everyone's delight. He looked up and saw a familiar figure running towards him.
"Mum!" He cried happily, jumping to his feet and running towards her. The two hugged and Lloyd felt all the tension and stress of being trapped in the Never Realm simply roll off his shoulders.
"You made it!" Kai said excitedly, coming over to join them.
"Yeah, we thought the portal would close and you'd be stuck there forever!" Jay added. Lloyd, rather reluctantly, let go of his mother.
He saw Wu standing nearby, a proud smile on his face.
"Master!" He said happily, giving a small bow. To his surprise, Wu granted him a quick hug.
"I was wrong." He said with a smile. "No-one could do a better job of finding Zane than the five of you."
The ninja laughed and everyone took their turn in hugging Zane, who accepted them without a word.
"And you all arrived just in time to see your families!" PIXAL announced, leading to a few looks of confusion. "It is the Day of the Departed, and tonight we can all go about our routines to honour those we have lost."
Several of the ninja hit themselves over the foreheads.
"And on that note," Cole announced. "I'm out. I'll be at a cake bar if you need me!" He quickly dashed out of the monastery in the direction of a nearby vehicle.
"I forgot, time works differently in the Never Realm!" Nya sighed. "I thought we must have missed it for sure!"
"That's great then!" Jay exclaimed, coming over to her. "Now we can celebrate for real. I can't wait to see my parents again!"
"Yeah, and I guess we should head over to our parent's shop, Kai." Nya looked at her brother, who shifted awkwardly from foot to foot.
"Well you know how you and Jay are..." He swallowed. "Ying and Yang now, and we don't really need to mourn our parents anymore, 'cos, you know, they're alive, so I was wondering if you wanted to spend the night with his parents instead?"
Nya frowned. "You just want to see Skylor again, don't you?"
Kai sighed and nodded. "I promised her I'd let her meet my parents after we finished up with the Pyro Vipers, and then we had to rescue Zane, so tonight seems like the perfect opportunity. Mum and dad were at your ceremony, they'll understand."
Nya sighed and smiled.
"Tell them I'll see them tomorrow." She said, and gave Kai a quick hug. She then turned to Jay. "Room for one more?"
"Of course, my lady?" Jay grinned and took her hand.
Lloyd and Misako had been quietly observing the whole situation from a distance, turned to each other and laughed.
"Poor Cole, I don't think he's ever going to celebrate the Day of the Departed again!" Lloyd chuckled. Zane and PIXAL caught his eye, standing off to one side, talking quietly to each other. Zane took her hand and led her towards the vehicle bay, presumably to travel to the Birchwood forest.
Lloyd looked away and saw Wu approaching them.
"As happy as I am to have Lloyd back and as much as I enjoy both of your companies, I am afraid I must mourn my father alone, and the monastery must be empty." He said. Lloyd and Misako nodded respectfully, and turned towards the gate.
"What shall we do?" Misako asked her son. Lloyd gave a shrug.
"I don't know. Head down to dad's statue, I guess?"
"Your father is currently living, Lloyd."
"I know." The green ninja sighed. "It's just... it's kind of a tradition now. Maybe we can go to light a lantern there, then go out for dinner? Catch up?"
Misako smiled, and put an arm around her son's shoulders.
"That sounds wonderful." She said with a smile, and the pair began their descent down the monastery's many steps.
"Jay, you came! Ed, Ed, come on out of there, look who showed up to spend the holiday with us!
"I know it's Jay, Edna, I can see it's Jay, Jay, what a wonderful surprise!"
Nya giggled as Jay's parents encircled him with hugs and his mum's wet kisses.
"Whoa, mum, MUM, look, I brought Nya with me!"
Edna turned her head so fast Nya actually jumped in surprise. Still on high alert mode, it seemed. She let out a sigh and forced herself to relax. Jay's parents were harmless.
"Nya, dear, look at you, you've gotten so tall since we last saw you!"
"It was, like, a month ago mum!" Jay said, rather muffled still by his father's hugs. Nya allowed herself to be embraced by Edna.
"It's lovely to see you again, Mrs Walker." She said with a smile.
"Oh, we can drop that Mrs Walker nonsense, we're family now!" Edna said happily, her eyes glancing to the Ying Yang pins that the pair had secured onto their gi's. "Come on dear, I just cooked up a fresh batch of my crumb cake!"
Nya took Jay's hand, already smiling. She knew she has made the right decision when she decided to come, let Kai have his date, she would see her parents tomorrow, but for now, she just wanted to have fun.
"Now, before we get started with the lanterns, who wants another round of Jay's baby photos!"
"That's OK, Edna, I don't think there's any left that I haven't seen yet."
"Zane!" PIXAL stifled a laugh as the nindroid, exited the shop. "What, why so many lanterns? You know I have no-one to mourn today."
"I only wish I could have purchased more!" Zane sighed, tottering a little under the ginormous stack of lanterns. "But the shopkeeper refused to accept any more of my money, he said I would be buying up the entire stock."
"I am surprised you haven't already." PIXAL marvelled as Zane managed to stash the lanterns all in the side car of his bike, it must have been magically enhanced somehow, or had a wormhole hidden, or something, because her logic processors were having trouble, well processing.
Zane climbed onto the bike, and helped PIXAL on behind him.
"Who are they all for?" PIXAL asked as Zane revved up the handlebars. He didn't answer. "Zane?"
"It's a surprise." The nindroid replied simply, as the bike started and they zoomed off into the night.
Less than an hour later, they arrived as the sun was truly beginning to set. Just as PIXAL had suspected, they were indeed in the Birchwood forest, Zane's father's tree laboratory just a few paces left of them. Zane made no move to unpack the lanterns, he simply stood, looking up at the night sky.
PIXAL watched for a few seconds, but Zane didn't move. Softly, she came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Zane?" She asked softly. "Who are the lanterns really for?"
"Many people." Zane sighed. "Many people lost their lives in the Never Realm, because of... because of the Ice Emperor. I only felt it right to pay my respects, even if they are not from Ninjago." He gave an unhappy sigh.
"Then you are right to pay your respects." PIXAL told him, giving him a comforting smile. "I know that not everybody would be so thoughtful."
Zane turned to PIXAL and gave her a soft smile.
"Thank you, PIXAL. It only feels right." They remained that way for a few moments longer, until Zane broke the silence with a small sigh.
"I'd usually build a statue of my father." He told her. "Out of ice, but... I don't think I'm ready to use my powers again, at least, not right now."
PIXAL didn't move her hand from his shoulder.
"Then what do you suggest?" She asked.
"Have you ever made a snow man before?"
PIXAL laughed and was happy to see a smile return to Zane's face as well.
"No. But perhaps you can teach me."
"Here we are!" Lloyd announced softly. "The corridor of Elders." He and his mother got off the bike, Misako holding the lantern they had bought. Lloyd took a deep breath.
"That's right, just a quick visit, in and out." Lloyd murmured to himself. His mother put a hand on his shoulder as they entered the canyon.
Instantly, Lloyd felt that something was off. It wasn't the same as last year had been, there was something new, something different.
"Someone else is here!" He exclaimed as he caught a glimpse as a lantern, glowing in the darkness.
"Maybe they are just here to pay their respects to fallen heroes, as we are." Misako said comfortingly. Lloyd nodded, and began walking again. He could see the lantern up ahead of them, burning in the darkness, but it was different, the flame was different to other flames, it wasn't glowing red or gold, but a much darker, more sinister colour...
Lloyd barely had time for the realisation to hit him before he and his mother were face to face with the culprit.
"You!" He gasped, ready to power up, flip his hood over his face and protect his mother.
The figure on the ground did nothing but jolt in surprise and look up.
"Lloyd?" He gasped. "Misako?"
"Garmadon!" Misako exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
The former emperor looked uncomfortable as he made a feeble move to conceal his lantern from view.
"I just... thought I would see the statue for myself! Check on the liking to how I once looked! If Ninjago is going to be remade in my image, it best be done properly!" He glowered slightly. "What are you doing here?"
"It's the Day of the Departed." Lloyd said simply. "We came to, er mourn the person you once were. Briefly, very briefly."
Father and son stared at each other in uncomfortable silence.
"Fine." Garmadon said stiffly.
"Fine." Lloyd replied, just as stiffly.
There was more uncomfortable silence.
"Well, if we're all here and nobody wants to leave, perhaps we can mourn together." Misako announced. She lit the lantern with a match, holding it out to Lloyd. With a side glance towards his father, Lloyd took the lantern, raising it up to illuminate the statue.
Garmadon seated himself before his lantern, gazing into the dark purple fire's depths. He looked rather like Wu did when he looked into the future, no. Lloyd wasn't about to compare his father and his uncle. He looked away from the man his father was now, and up at the man he used to be. It was a sight he would rather look at.
"There!" PIXAL said happily. "Does that resemble your father at all Zane?"
Zane laughed slightly, and shook his head. "No, but I do not think he would mind. When I was newly built, father would watch me build snow people all day while he worked on my falcon. It was a happy time for us both.
PIXAL smiled at the idea of Zane being child minded and enjoying himself in the snow. She has never gotten the chance for such youthful activities, she had been created to assist Cyrus Borg from day one.
"Where shall we put the lantern?" She asked. Zane gestured to the ground in front of the sculpture.
"There. Then it will light him up fully.
PIXAL decided not to remind Zane that the snowman would most likely melt due to the heat, as he seemed to be having so much fun already. Together, they lit the lantern and placed it on the ground in front of the statue. Zane sat in meditation position on the ground, and PIXAL copied him.
"Tell me about your father." She said softly. Zane smiled.
"Father was, a very intelligent man, he could build me anything I requested at a moment's notice, though some projects would take him longer than others. He would build or design the odd vehicle or contraption for our neighbours or a nearby town, just for the necessary income we needed for food and materials." As Zane spoke, PIXAL cold see his earliest memories come to life in his eyes as he reminisced his creator. "He taught me to always be good and protect those who cannot protect themselves. I missed him when my memory switch was deactivated, but without it, I don't think I would have met Wu and the ninja, so I am glad he did what he did. He was always very brave and... kind to everyone." The smile that had been on Zane's face began to turn into a more sad one. "What would he say if he could see me now?" He sighed.
"He would be proud. You are a wonderful protector of Ninjago. You defeated Aspheera."
"And I was then sent to the Never Realm for so many years!" Zane sighed and looked up at the slowly melting snowman. "PIXAL, I don't want you to know what I did there, what... happened to me, but you deserve to know-"
"No!" PIXAL cut him off. "Zane, whatever you did in the Never Realm, whatever happened, I don't want you to tell me unless you are ready! It is not something I am obligated to know."
Zane still looked slightly uncomfortable, but PIXAL placed a hand on his arm.
"All that matters to me is that you are back!" She smiled at him. Zane couldn't help but return it.
"Me too. I am glad I have the opportunity to see you again, PIXAL." He leant his head on her shoulder and the pair stared up at the slowly melting snowman in content. They would light the other lanterns later, Zane decided. Much later. For now, he just wanted this.
"What exactly are you still doing here?" Lloyd demanded. Garmadon scowled.
"I could ask you the same question. I find it difficult to believe the pair of you sit here all night every year!"
"In fact, that's exactly what we do." Lloyd folded his arms. "But as you can see, your statue is to the correct likeness, so your business here should be complete."
"Fine!" Garmadon snapped, getting visibly angry. "I came to pay my respects to my former self! How he managed to put up with you ninja is beyond me! But thanks to Harumi, he is gone and I remain! That foolish child had no idea what she was doing, she merely wanted to use me as a tool for her revenge!
"Don't talk about the dead like that!" Lloyd argued. "Especially not on the Day of the Departed!"
"I shall speak of her however I like, I do not take orders from my son!"
"Garmadon, Lloyd!" Both males turned instantly towards Misako. She sighed.
"It's clear that we all came here for the same reasons!" Misako said in a stern voice. "So rather than arguing like this family has been doing their entire lives, perhaps we should focus on honouring the dead. Like we used to."
Both Lloyd and Garmadon were momentarily caught in the memories of the only two Day of the Departed celebrations they had managed to celebrate together, after Lloyd had defeated the Overlord in the Final Battle. His father had sent so many lanterns up into the sky, as a small effort to make up for everything he had done. Things had been so much nicer then, but things had changed.
"Fine." Lloyd muttered, and with a sigh, turned towards his father. If his mother wanted conversation, he would just have to force it. "So, do you remember what it was like to be him? You're former self?"
Garmadon hesitated, taken aback by such a direct address. Then he shook his head.
"No. I remember everything I did and felt during that time, but not what it was like to be the one doing those things and feeling those feelings. I know how I felt, but I don't... understand it. I am more Oni now than I have ever been."
Lloyd gave a small nod of understanding, remembering the events of the Oni's invasion, and how his father had helped him and his friends, still under the excuse that he wanted to be the one to conquer Ninjago. But he had had the perfect opportunity while he and his friends had been trapped in the Never Realm and Aspheera under lock and key. So why had he chosen to remain out of sight?
"Father," Lloyd said slowly, testing the effect of the word. "Have you ever been to the Never Realm?"
Garmadon shook his head.
"No. My father told Wu and I stories when we were children, but we were not invited to come on his travels." He paused, thinking. "Is that where you and your fellow ninja have been all this time."
Lloyd nodded. "Aspheera banished Zane, so we had to go save him. Oh, and we know all about what happened with her, and Wu, when you were children." Garmadon frowned.
"Wu was a fool. Ninjago was lucky I was there to step in." He laughed slightly at the irony. Lloyd joined in, as did Misako.
"Come on son." Misako said, putting a hand on Lloyd's arm. "I want to know all about what happened in the Never realm!"
"As do I." Garmadon agreed. Lloyd hesitated, trying to decide where to begin, his mind jumping to Akita's goodbye 'present' every time. Perhaps he would leave that part out. Opening his mouth with a smile, he began.
"OK, so the Land Bounty crashed onto this cliff, dangling onto the edge, and we all had to run for it, but what do you know, Cole drops the tea, so we're..."
"They're beautiful, aren't they?" Zane said in awe as the colourful array of lanterns rose steadily from the forest. "And since everything here is so permanently covered in snow, there is no risk of a fire! This is the perfect place."
PIXAL smiled, also gazing up at the illuminated night sky. All those lanterns they had lit and sent up together really did look beautiful. They mingled with all the other lanterns that were gently brushing against the night sky. Everyone in Ninjago seemed to have sent one up and the effect was breathtaking. She slipped her hand into Zane's, and he didn't pull away. He held her hand tighter.
PIXAL wondered who else was sending up lanterns tonight.
"And up she goes!" Ed exclaimed, as the party of four sent up their lantern, watching it rise up above the desert. Nya watched with a smile, as did Jay. They didn't need as many lanterns as Zane had decided on, one seemed to be enough to commemorate all of Jay's lost ancestors, including Ed and Edna's own parents. Nya hadn't mentioned to Ed and Edna the solitary lantern that Jay had lit and sent off on their way, just as they were passing the forest. A token of respect for Jay's birth parents. She didn't need to. The story of what had happened while Ninjago had been endangered by Nadakhan was their's and their's alone. She knew Kai and her parents would have sent up enough lanterns to commemorate their ancestors, and she liked the idea of being included in Jay's family as well.
"Isn't she marvellous?" Edna sighed happily. "Well, I best get to the washing up from all that cake! Ed, care to join?"
"Oh, no thank you dear, I'm fine staying outside."
"Ed, I meant we should give the kids some privacy!"
"Oh, oh yes, I see now." Ed threw a wink in Jay's direction, causing the blue ninja to facepalm. "You kids have fun out here!"
"Come on in, Ed!"
Jay sighed as his parents disappeared into the trailer and shut the door.
"I love my parents and all, but I think one visit a year is enough."
Nya laughed and shook her head.
"I think your parents are awesome, Jay. Spending the holiday with you was definitely the right call." Jay grinned, lighting up his whole face. "And maybe you can come with me when I see my parents tomorrow, you know, get to know them a bit better?"
Jay nodded. "Yeah, I'd like that." Nya leant his head against his shoulder like they hadn't been able to do for all the time they were in the Never Realm, looking for Zane. Just be a couple, not ninja, not heroes, just... normal. Nya smiled. She'd missed this too much.
Jay put an arm around her as they watched the lantern travel upwards together. It was a beautiful sight.
Lloyd was flopped down on the hard dirt floor of the canyon, finally finished his account of what happened in the Never Realm. Misako had interrupted once or twice with questions or expressions of concern, and even Garmadon had raised an eyebrow once or twice when Lloyd accounted some of the scarier moments. After such a speech, however, he felt a little tired, and really, he hadn't managed to get a good night's sleep since Aspheera had showed up, so was looking forward to having diner with his mother, then crashing into bed when Wu had finished up his Day of the Departed ritual at the monestery.
Both lanterns had been sent up, hovering just above the statues as if they were afraid to go further. Lloyd allowed himself to focus on the flickering flames and not the danger of the situation that was his father. For some reason, he had decided to let his guard down, just for the night.
Misako smiled, a caring smile down at her son.
"I best go get the bike ready for departure." She said with a smile. "We ought to be leaving soon, Lloyd."
"Oh yeah." Lloyd sat up. "Yeah, I'm hungry. I haven't eaten a decent meal in weeks!"
Garmadon grunted slightly, and Lloyd wasn't sure what it meant. Then he realised, Misako was leaving the pair of them alone for the first time in months. She actually trusted them not to blow up the canyon with a battle! Lloyd didn't know whether to be impressed or nervous.
"Will you be staying here all night?" Lloyd asked, turning to face his father. Garmadon hesitated, then shook his head.
"No, I'd rather be out of sight by the time the sun comes up. Many travellers and tourists pass through here, and I want to remain inconspicuous."
Lloyd nodded, and looked at the ground.
"Is this it then? Are you just going to lie low for a while and stop trying to conquer Ninjago?" Garmadon raised an eyebrow and Lloyd blushed. "I mean, this is the first real conversation we've had in years without trying to kill each other! Are we just going to go back to fighting like this never happened?"
"You just got back from the Never Realm." He said in a low tone. "I thought you might deserve the night off."
Lloyd realised that this was a joke, and laughed. After a moment's hesitation, his father did too. After they were done laughing, Lloyd turned his face up to his father's stature. If he concentrated really hard, he could just about see the resemblance to the man he was sitting with now.
"Lloyd, do you remember when you first became the Green Ninja?"
The question took Lloyd rather by surprise. He frowned slightly and nodded.
"Yeah, it was one of the most important days of my life, you know, along with the Final Battle, defeating the Oni, being freed from Morro's possession..."
"Do you remember what I told you, before I left?"
Lloyd frowned and thought back, he had just been a kid then and so much had happened since.
"I said... I said that when we meet again, I was going to do everything in my power to defeat you."
Garmadon nodded. "And I said I wouldn't have it ay other way."
Lloyd smiled. Deep down, he knew they were both still the same people they had been that day, so many years ago.
"You said something else too." Lloyd frowned, "You said... you said you were proud of me." He looked up at his father, who wouldn't meet his gaze.
"That still stands." He said very quietly. Lloyd smiled, and stood up.
"You know, we didn't really need to come here to mourn the man you used to be." He said. Garmadon raised an eyebrow.
"Well, that man may have been beaten down by the Oni masks. But he's still here." He smiled. "Father."
Garmadon gave a very small smile back.
"Perhaps you are right, Lloyd." He stood up as well.
"Do you, erm do you want to join me and mum for dinner?"
Garmadon shook his head.
"No, I don't think that would be wise. Ninjago is still recovering from my reign of terror. It is best if I go back to lying low."
Lloyd instantly felt foolish, of course, his father was still Lord Garmadon, no matter where their personal relationship stood.
"Well, I better go then." He said awkwardly. "Mum will be waiting."
"Yes." Garmadon said stiffly. "I suppose she will." He too stood up and turned towards the other end of the canyon, presumably the direction he had come from.
"Look after yourself, Lloyd." He said. "For Ninjago's sake, as well as your own."
Lloyd smiled. "I will." He said, and watched as his father turned and vanished back into the shadows. Was it his imagination, or did his father stop and raise a hand as a parting gesture, or maybe it was a trick of the light.
Either way, Lloyd was hungry. He smiled, and turned towards his mother and their bike. This had turned out to be a pretty good Day of the Departed after all.
I didn't really include Kai and Cole's bits, because that wouldn't be as interesting. So, yeah, what did you think, if you liked it, then favourite or leave a review. Thanks for reading! :)