Kai was pulled from the pool coughing, sputtering, and left to learn how to breathe again as air shuttered its way through his heaving chest down to his lungs. His pallor was only emphasized by his own chestnut hair, darkened by the water, cascading over his forehead, and poking at his eyes. The restraints rubbed at his sore and bleeding wrists uncomfortably, almost distracting him from the burning pit in his stomach.
They found out, they effing found out.
The man whose hand had a firm grip and Kai's hair was muttering between snickers, his deranged voice gave the red ninja chills where the water didn't reach. Lucky for him however, Slug's complaints and imaginative questions drowned most of the horrid sound out.
Ignoring his captor's taunting, Kai listened carefully for familiar screams, hoping they'd never come. They didn't.
Relief soothed the smallest of his layers of pain, the pathetic attempt for a bandage binding his knife wound was now soaked through by a mixture of escaped water and drying blood.
The fire ninja sighed into a new void of silence before rough hands sent him falling defenselessly into the water once more.
Kai tugged and strained against his cuffs, oh how he hated vengestone.
The water flooded into his mouth with a burst of bubbles rising harmlessly to the surface of the pool. Water, the unmastered element he once felt connected to, now sent his heart drumming for release of its cold, unforgiving hold. Unconsciousness tugged anxiously at Kai's mind, begging him to let it take over. The red ninja kept a firm grip on its wrist, keeping unawareness from running into the picture. He had to buy Jay time and he couldn't do that while lying limp, half drowned in some guy's arms.
Kai's ears popped as he broke the surface once again, choking on water and bile. They were red tipped and just about frozen. Unfortunately, Slug's nasally voice still managed to pierce through Kai's headache, making it harder to bite back a groan.
In a sing-song kind of hiss, "Drowning isn't magically gonna make me learn the Ninja's location."
Slug growled and shoved the ninja deeper into the basin.
It was Lloyd who had the unfortunate privilege of being on lookout that night.
He had himself sitting on the floor, cradling a warm cappuccino to his chest while gazing up at the screen that scanned tirelessly for his missing brothers. Every once in a while the Bridge would beep frantically with a positive sonar signal that, to the team's disappointment, always ended up as a false alarm.
The golden ninja, feeling himself droop deeper into the floor, straightened up and attempted to shake the sleep from his eyes. Another sip from his coffee immediately awakened the youth as he ran to spit it into the sink, the reminder of his hatred for the drink and why it was nearly cold coated his tongue. It made sense why his elders always had a kettle of tea near, 'teenage solutions' never satisfied them.
It was when Lloyd was using the detachable faucet to rinse his mouth that the sonar gave a small beep, he almost didn't hear it. He strained his ears, waiting to see whether it really had detected something or not. The Bridge began beeping continuously as the icon of a digital envelope popped up on the screen, a red number one appeared in the envelope's top right corner. A message.
(After this the golden ninja would never turn the machine's volume down again.)
Lloyd scrambled the few feet to the dash, stumbling more than stepping. His shaking fingers hovered over the 'Alert' button that would wake the other ninja. What ifs echoed through his head; he didn't even know who the message was from. After a moment more of hesitation, the golden ninja slammed the button, leaving his palm stinging. He stood taking deep breaths, in and out, until the first sound of footsteps reached him.
He couldn't speak. Lloyd had to rely on his unwavering gaze so his arriving teammates would too see the unopened message. Their elders would not be joining them, something about a retreat to the countryside. (The building of a school may or may not have been mentioned, Lloyd didn't know, he'd been too busy brooding about being pulled from his nationwide hero tour. Back then.)
Three presences filed in behind him, one in his suit as if he'd never slept, the other two still clothed in their pajamas with sleep barely lingering in their eyes.
"Okay, kid," Cole sighed. "Open it."
Lloyd turned around just long enough to see Nya nod eagerly before turning around and skimming his hands over the keyboard, pulling the notification up slowly so as to not make any mistake. His hopes of good (for he didn't know just how many false reports the team could take) were kept inside.
Then it was loading.
The golden ninja stepped back in line with his siblings and waited.
A couple agonizing seconds passed until a voice memo appeared, playing automatically.
"Hey, this is the Hot One…" Kai's gruff voice filled the room, muffled by both an attempt to remain quiet and radio static. "...Lightning Mouth is here too. We're absolutely starving right now and could use a heaping bowl of Cole's chili. Over and out."
The barrier from silence ended after just fifteen seconds. Nya was the first to break the resulting quiet with a long exhale. That was the only que needed for Zane to jump to life, typing into programs far beyond Lloyd's reach, even after countless hours sitting staring at it.
Cole scoffed, hiding his joy behind annoyance. "That's the extraction code he chose to use?" Lloyd stuttered out a laugh from beside him. And they're somewhat functional.
"Okay," Zane sighed. "The connection was lost, but with a little bit of time I may be able to trace their location." The nindroid smiled.
"We're bringing them home."
In the time it took Jay to escape into the ceiling whilst avoiding the piercing gazes of their quarter's long-found security cameras, the summer sun was sending its first scouts over the horizon.
The warehouse still remained cloaked in darkness, and his heart was still absolutely pounding.
As small as Jay was, the walls of the vent he was residing in was beginning to press against his torso, turning his insides to mush. The blue ninja had never been able to build and pack muscle like his teammates. His strength lay hidden in his scrawny arms and gawky legs. Jay felt as miserable in that vent, inhaling years of dust, as he did standing next to Cole on conditioning days.
That led Jay back to his myriad of unanswered questions; including but not limited to: why would Kai let himself get taken in while himself was left to underestimation?
There was only such a distance one could follow a gentle trickle of blood and struggle.
Gingerly, Jay inched forward slightly further. The metal gave a creak as the blue ninja tried to unsee the rusted seams before him. Seriously, did no one ever check on the ventilation systems? Taking a deeper breath, Jay began to scooch down the tunnel until he was nestled safely at a conjunction of rooms and vents.
A sigh escaped the blue ninja's lips. It was hopeless. He was hopeless.
"Come on Jay," he softly hyped. "You can do this, after this mess is over, Fritz Donnegan will be renamed Jay Walker." He grimaced, silently cursing Lloyd for introducing him to the space warrior.
"These damn rats."
Jay squeaked at the unexpected voice, possibly worsening his case. The person continued speaking.
"I liked the other lab better, and yet he insisted on moving."
He? The leader? Jay paused. When did they relocate? Spotting the open vent where the voice was so obviously drifting from, he shuffled closer.
He could barely see someone snort.
"Coward." he spat. The two laughed, slipping from the room.
A/N Okay, I do admit that I struggle writing ma boi Jay, which is why his little scene is shorter than the others. I also did Not feel like proofreading so, my apologies xD. Thanks for reading!