Chapter 1: Crackpots and Kidnappers

Yes! I released this story just before Xiaolin Chronicles got out. I always wanted to right my own Xiaolin story, but I didn't want to include Chronicles, so I really had to hurry. Hopefully you all like the first chapter. Chapter length will vary in this story, so if a chapter is shorter than others, that's why. Also, I have no update schedule for this, so if you have to wait weeks between updates, I apologize in advance.

Disclaimer: I do not own Xiaolin Showdown or any of its characters. If I did, I would have introduced Chronicles a long time ago.

"What the hell are you smoking?" Valerie Ashford asked the monk sitting serenely in front of her. Normally Valerie wouldn't swear when talking to the elderly, but this crackpot was spewing some seriously crazy chiz right now.

"Did I miss something?" Eric asked as he walked into the living room carrying a tea tray. He was sort of a butler, so it didn't look weird.

"This guy is talking some seriously weird stuff, Eric."

"Should we kick him out then?"

Master Fung, who had been sitting there calmly taking in Valerie's reaction, now held up a hand. "I know what I am saying sounds incredible, but please believe me when I say it is true."

"Why don't you run it by me so I can judge that," Eric said as he set the tea tray on the wooden coffee table in front the fireplace. He then settled in a comfortable, fancy-looking arm chair next to Valerie, and both stared at Master Fung as he told his tale again.

"Thousands of years ago, a furious battle was waged between the great and noble Xiaolin dragon Dashi and the evil Heylin witch Wuya. This was the first Xiaolin Showdown. Wuya pitted her dark magic against Dashi and his mystical, powerful objects, the Shen Gong Wu. In the end, Dashi triumphed, and Wuya was forever imprisoned in a simple wooden puzzle box. The threat averted, Dashi spread his Shen Gong Wu around the earth. For generations, they have secretly maintained the balance of good and evil, and a long line of Xiaolin Dragons stood ready to face evil should that balance ever shift. You, Valerie, are one of the newest Xiaolin Dragons."

"What the hell are you smoking?" Eric asked, looking at Master Fung like he was a crazy person. Master Fung raised an eyebrow. "I know what you may think-"

"Val, call the police, I'll hold him off!" Eric leaped out of his chair and took a ready fighting stance while Valerie started to run to the kitchen where the phone was. Now alarmed, Fung tried to calm everyone down when a voice said, "Whoa, whoa, calm down people!"

Everyone turned to see a green lizard creature with a little red beard and some yellow hair on its back slither its way out Fung's sleeve and onto his shoulder. "I know it sounds crazy, but it's totally true!" the little gecko said, waving one of his little arms.

"Did that snake just talk?" Valerie said in disbelief, forgetting about her earlier goal of getting the crazy bald man in monk clothes out her house.

"I am not a snake, I'm a dragon, and a darn handsome one too!"

"Right…" Valerie stepped up next to Eric, who was still in a ready fighting stance that looked like kickboxing. "Eric, calm down, let's hear the reptile out." Almost immediately Eric calmed down, settling back down in the expensive arm chair he earlier jumped out of. Valerie sat in her own chair and anxiously waited for whatever the monk was going to say next.

Master Fung cleared his throat and settled back down. "As Dojo said, what I say is the truth. The Xiaolin and Heylin forces do exist, and the world needs the Xiaolin Dragon of Aether to protect all that is good."

Valerie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose; this was a lot to take in at once. "Let's say for a minute that you're telling me the truth, and these Xiaolin and Heylin people exist. Why choose me? Why should I protect the world when someone more…qualified can?"

"Simple," Dojo said, resting on Master Fung's shoulders. "You were chosen because it was fate. You're the only person in the entire world who's qualified for the job."

"…Okay…" Valerie moved on to the next question. "What is aether?"

"Its light," Master Fung said simply. "Or, more specifically, 'the bright, glowing upper air of heaven-the substance of light.'"

"…Sounds like you got it off of Wikipedia."

"Or maybe Wikipedia got it from me."

"Touché," Valerie complimented the monk. "But how do you know I'm the Dragon of Aether? For all we know, there's someone else in the world named Valerie Ashford."

"We have your name, appearance, and current residence listed in this scroll." Fung reached into his loose, white sleeve and got out a gold cylinder with handles on it. He opened the scroll to reveal thin white paper and Chinese symbols written all over it. And right in the center of shown piece was an ink drawing of Valerie, with her waist long brown hair in a braid, wearing a red monk dress with long sleeves and slits up the legs, with blue-black tights and black Chinese slippers on her feet. She was posed in a Chinese fighting stance-Valerie forgot what it was called, but she had her feet spread out until she was nearly crouching like that, with one arm outstretched and bent at the elbow and the other arm following it but at a lower angle, her face stoic and determined.

"So you're stalking me now?" Valerie asked. Eric was beginning to get out of his seat until Dojo began to flail his little arms. "We are not stalking you! That drawing just magically appeared one morning with all your information on it!"

"So…it's a magical stalking scroll?"

Dojo face palmed while Fung sighed deeply. "This meeting is not going well."

"Clearly," Eric said curtly.

Closing the scroll and putting it back in sleeve, Fung stood up. "The Xiaolin Temple is in the heart of China. The temple teaches everything from martial arts to normal high school subjects like math and English. Here is a ticket there along with my contact information." He gave Valerie an airplane ticket and a list of numbers from his sleeve. "I hope to hear from you before the plane leaves this Friday. I'd hate to see the other four Dragons fight evil without a light to guide them."

"I'll show you out," Eric said, slowly getting up from his chair. Dojo looked at Valerie before Fung began to leave. "Remember what we said, kid. You were destined to do amazing things."

Eric probably shouldn't have slammed the door behind them, but after what happened in the last several minutes… He believed it was justified.

He found Valerie still sitting in that chair, staring at the airplane ticket. "You're not actually thinking of going to this temple, are you?"

Valerie shrugged. "I'll look it up first. There's a website."

Valerie was in her room, waiting for her laptop to boot up. The ticket and list of contacts was right next to the keyboard. Impatient, she stood up and paced the small room with blank white walls. Valerie and Eric traveled a lot together; they knew first hand that putting stuff on the walls would make the next move harder in more ways than one.

Not that Valerie's room wasn't homey. Her bed was small, and she had a little dresser right at the end of the bed, pushed up against the wall. Her closet took up half the wall next to the dresser, which had a normal looking door right next to that. Across the room was a desk with a slightly outdated laptop on it and a bookcase filled to near bursting with must-reads from the town's bookstore. And to the left of the desk was a hang-up mirror, placed right where the door would cover it when opened.

Valerie took a second and studied herself. She certainly didn't look like the Dragon in the ink painting. Her light brown hair was out of its usual braid, hanging in natural waves all the down to her waist. She was dressed in normal jeans and a blue t-shirt with the word Switzerland on it in big, red letters-a total tourist item, but Valerie always got a tourist thing whenever she moved to a new country. She had a beret from France, a lacy white fan from Spain, a beer mug from Germany, an amber necklace from Poland, a pair of shoes from Italy…

Valerie considered herself a sporty girl; she preferred jeans, but did like to wear skirts if it looked good. She rarely wore dresses, since they were so impractical. Valerie would have even cut her hair boy-short but Eric swore he would absolutely kill her if she did. Eric was rather old-fashioned that way, saying that girls should wear their hair long and wear makeup and sparkly jewelry and other pretty things.

Valerie didn't think she was particularly beautiful. She had met girls from all over the world who were prettier than her. She recalled a girl from Germany with shiny, honey-blond hair and mesmerizing blue eyes. She used to go to school with a girl with a to-die-for curvaceous figure and deep, soulful dark eyes in Spain. None of them seemed to have Valerie's heart-shaped, pale face with forget-me-not blue eyes and stick figure body. Then again, those girls hadn't practiced martial arts for years on end, so she had easily gained some muscle.

Finally! The computer was on. Valerie quickly typed in the website for the Xiaolin temple and examined the page. It really was a school for martial arts, and it had some of the best teachers in the country teaching math and English and Chinese. Valerie combed the website for anything suspicious, like, say, any mention about Shen Gong Wu or Heylin or Dragons. But no; other than it was for young, elite martial artists, the school looked legit.

A knock was heard on her door. It was Eric, looking stern and tense. A young-looking man in his forties, Eric had been with Valerie as her parents sent her all over the eastern hemisphere. Normally he looked jovial with his twinkly green eyes and a smile hidden under his bushy black moustache, but now he looked mad, and his green shirt and slacks made him look like an angry, well-dressed dad.

"So, did you find anything weird?" Eric asked, pushing a hand through his silky black locks. Unlike Valerie's, his hair was cut boy short. It was so unfair.

"Nope; it's a school the Chinese government officially recognizes."

"Okay, so it really is legit. What else does it say?"

Valerie clicked on the homepage. "It's an elite school for up and coming martial artists. It's got great teachers for all subjects, and it's so selective that only five teenagers get chosen out of thousands. Applying for it doesn't help; the monks come to you. It's some tradition they have."

"I bet they wouldn't get so many applicants if they knew how crazy the monks were with all their talk about good and evil and magical super weapons."

Valerie looked at the airplane ticket on her desk. "…I really think I should go."

"What the hell have you been smoking?"

"Dude, that joke just got old. Don't ruin the moment."

Eric huffed. "Fine, but why are you going? For all we know, this is a school of…of kidnappers!"

Valerie gave him a look. "Eric, this school is recognized worldwide. I seriously doubt the people there would be stupid enough to kidnap teenagers when the whole world knows about it." Eric was about to protest, but she cut him off. "I just have a feeling like I should go, and if I don't, I'll be missing out on something really important."

And Valerie did feel that way. She had been training in Kung Fu and other types of fighting since she could walk. Shouldn't she use it for something? Do something good with the immense gift she had been taught? And there was the fact that she was being drawn to the Temple like it was a magnet. That was something she couldn't ignore.

Eric looked at her, defeated. "Fine; I'll take you out of that school your parents signed you up for. I'll even smooth it over with your parents. But you have to talk to this Fung guy. I'll probably flip crazy if I have to enroll you in that school myself."

"Thanks, Eric!" Valerie jumped out of her chair and gave her caretaker a bone-crushing hug. It wasn't until Eric struggled to breathe when she let go. "Sorry!"

"S'okay," he croaked as he closed the door. Valerie got the cell phone out of her pocket and dialed the number Fung left her. When he picked up, she said:

"Are you still interested in taking me on as the Dragon of Aether?"

Valerie and Eric were at the Geneva airport, waiting for the line at customs to die down a bit. The two didn't have much time left together, since the Xiaolin Temple had dormitories and it was too far away to travel every day. Valerie was all packed, since she had spent most of her life travelling and didn't have more belongings than what two suitcases couldn't hold. All of her books would be shipped straight to the temple, and her parents had renewed that special credit card so Valerie could buy whatever she wanted from anywhere in the world.

"Do you have your laptop?" Eric asked worriedly, wearing his usual green dress shirt, black slacks, and black dress shoes.

"Yes," answered Valerie, patting the laptop case slung over her shoulder.

"Do you have all your toiletries? Extra clothes, extra underwear?"


"Do you have your cell phone and credit card?"

"For the millionth time, yes," Valerie said. The line at customs was smaller now, and like a worried parent, Eric was freaking out over Valerie going across the world without him. "Eric, I'll be fine."

"I'm sure you will be, but…" Eric choked back tears. "You're growing up so fast." Valerie bit her lip as tears welled up in her eyes. She hugged Eric, and the two of them clung to each other as if for dear life, at least until Valerie pried herself out of Eric's embrace.

Valerie quickly stepped in line and patiently waited for her turn at customs. When she was done, she looked back to see Eric waving goodbye at her. Valerie waved back, and finally turned away, walking out of customs and out of Eric's line of sight. Quickly she found the closest bathroom and, climbing into an empty stall, began to cry. She didn't care who heard her; she was sad, why shouldn't she cry?

After a few minutes of blubbering, Valerie blew her nose on some toilet paper until her nose wasn't runny anymore. She stepped out of the stall and looked in one of the bathroom mirrors and cringed. Her eyes were puffy, her nose was red, and her face was a sickly pale color. Valerie quickly splashed water on her face, a few of the water drops getting on her off-white wife beater. Using a paper towel, Valerie patted her face dry and looked in the mirror again. Her eyes were still puffy, but she didn't look as sickly. She quickly smoothed down her gray cargo pants and readjusted the white baseball cap on her head. She then gathered all her things and searched for her boarding gate.

Valerie was not in a good mood when she woke up on the airplane. Then again, the seats were always really uncomfortable.

The plane had just landed in a city in the heart of China; Valerie didn't catch the name of it. All she knew was that someone from the temple was going to be picking her up and would take her there. But before that, she sent a text to Eric just as the plane stopped moving. Finally made it on the ground. I hate airplanes.

A few minutes later, Valerie got a text from Eric. Someone sounds grumpy.

It was a long flight.

That's what you always say. Just remember if something's weird at that temple, call me, okay? I'll beat 'em all up so you can make your escape.

Valerie gave a little giggle. Yeah, yeah. Are you implying that I'm grumpy?

Eric wisely didn't answer back.

After waiting until almost everyone had left the airplane, Valerie got her laptop bag and carry-on and made it out of there and into the terminal. Once she made it past the check-out and to the baggage claim, she immediately spotted two people wearing robes with a blue torso and white sleeves and a black sash belted at the waist, with black pants and black Chinese slippers on their feet.

Valerie did not like the looks she was getting when she walked up to them. "Are you Xiaolin Temple monks?"

"Yes," said the female. She was smaller than her male companion, with short black hair and brown eyes. Her male counterpart was big and beefy with a shaved head. He was obviously here just to carry Valerie's bags.

"We have a car that will transport us to the temple. There you will meet the other four Dragons," the woman reassured her. "Now, what does your luggage look like?"

I didn't want to leave off here, but I also didn't want the first chapter to be daunting, so I cut off at a weird part.

So, why is a Greek element hanging around with the Chinese elements? All will be revealed eventually, but I would like to hear your theories.

Fun fact: Ashford is actually a cigarette brand popular in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Maybe that'll clue you in on Valerie's real nationality.