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A Broken Creation Book 1

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“Hot off the press! The mechanic is back, Ninjago!”

 

The Mechanic ran at Kai, hurling a ball of flame.

 

In a flash of panic, Kai grabbed the closest thing- which happened to be Zane- and pulled him in front, shielding him from the flames.

 

Zane only had a split second to realize what was happening before the fire singed his gi. He cried out as the heat burned his face and disfigured the metal on his torso.

 

The mechanic stopped and dropped back for another attack. Kai let go of Zane who stumbled. He saw the mechanic lunging for them and shot a blast of ice which enveloped the villain in a frozen block.

 

Zane’s hand fell and he turned to Kai.

 

“Why would you do that?!” He seethed. “He could have severely damaged my vital systems!”

Kai pushed him away. “Be quiet, tin can, we can just fix you later. Now come on, I’m getting a message from Lloyd. He wants us all at Borg tower.”

 

Zane scoffed before following the fire ninja. He couldn’t believe Kai would do that to him! And to call him a tin can out of malicious intent? What in the world?

 

Zane shook his head to clear his thoughts. He would grapple with that later. Right now, what Lloyd needed was more important.

 

 

As it turns out, the royal family of Ninjago had requested the help of the ninja. It turns out the Sons of Garmadon, a crime ring that has recently risen to power, had stolen the Oni Mask of Vengeance from Borg Tower the night before. Later that day the Emperor was to give a speech to reassure the Ninjago citizens about the Sons of Garmadon. They feared they would be targeted because the palace housed the Oni Mask of Deception and the SOG would try to steal it during the speech. The ninja accepted the request, and it went without incident.

 

Later, Princess Harumi, daughter of the royal family, invited them to stay to protect the Mask of Deception. They accepted and were later shown around the palace grounds.

 

That evening, Zane was sitting on the bed of Jay’s room. His chest panel was open as Jay poked and prodded at his inner workings and fixing what was damaged.

 

“Whew!” Jay said, wiping some sweat off his forehead. He shut Zane’s panel. “I’ve done what I could.” He looked down at the boiled metal of Zane’s exoskeleton.

 

“But there’s nothing I can do for that…” Jay trailed off.

 

Zane ran a hand over his mangled skin, feeling his blood boil as he recalled what happened earlier in the day.

 

Later that night, the ninja were patrolling the grounds.

 

“Okay,” Lloyd said. He rolled out a map showing an overview of the palace. “Kai, Cole, I want you two to cover the west wing. Jay and I will cover the east wing, Nya you get the southern side, and Zane, you get the north.”

 

Zane looked at the map.

 

“Perhaps it would be better if two of us covered the north wing and one on the East. By my observations, it would be more logical if we did so, due to the east side being more fortified than the-”

 

Lloyd huffed and turned to Zane. “Okay, you know what, if you know everything, why don’t you find the biggest tree in the forest and cut it down with a herring?!”

 

Zane was dumbfounded at Lloyd’s outburst. “W-what do you mean…”

 

“I don’t know, I saw it in a movie, but it’s a good idea if it gets you out of our way!”

 

Then the others turned and left, leaving Zane standing there, still trying to comprehend what happened. What did just happen? First Kai snapping at him, and now Lloyd?

 

Truly confused, all Zane could do was go to his assigned wing. He jumped up onto the roof of the palace, which gave him almost a bird’s eye view of what was inside and beyond the castle wall, and the city beyond. The bright moon illuminated the dark palace courtyard.

 

Zane sighed. Today hadn’t been right at all. He had been used as an expendable human shield to Kai and snapped at by Lloyd. Neither of them had done that to him before. What was going on? Was there something going on within the team that he didn’t know about? Was the strain of Master Wu’s absence becoming too much for them to bear? Or was it something Zane did?

 

The ice ninja was startled from his thoughts when there was a commotion right below him. He looked down just in time to see a cloaked figure jump out of the princess’ window, carrying a bag over its shoulder.

 

Zane gasped. Some kidnapped the princess!

 

He leaped down from the roof and pursued the kidnapper. He chased him over the palace wall and through the city streets. The kidnapper jumped across the fire escapes of apartments, Zane on their heels.

 

The person swung across a dangling rope from one fire escape to the next. Zane tried to make the jump but realized he wouldn’t make it.

 

Just as he was about to fall, the person he’d been pursuing grabbed his hand and pulled him up onto the fire escape. Zane was so confused until the person pulled back their hood.

 

“Harumi?” He said. “What are you doing out here? You’re supposed to be back at the palace!” He noticed the sack on Harumi’s shoulder. “And what’s that?”

 

“As you know, there’s lots of food at the palace.” She told him. “But a lot of it gets uneaten and goes to waste. There’s people who need it more than I do.”

 

Zane smiled. “That’s very kindhearted of you.”

 

“Care to join me?” Harumi asked.

 

Zane felt his smile get even bigger. Of course, he had ninja duties, but after what happened today, some kindness was too hard to resist.

 

They took a short journey to the slums of the city, together passing out food to some of the children.

 

“People must admire you for being a princess,” Zane said as he watched a child accept a slice of bread from Harumi gratefully. “You must live a great life.”

 

“That’s a common misconception, actually,” Harumi told him as they walked along. “Being a princess is great at first glance, but in reality it’s not as great as people think.”

 

Zane raised an eyebrow. “What are you implying?”

 

Harumi sighed. “We have to live up to a role that was bestowed upon us. We never chose these mantles we hold. We have to live up to the expectations of others, but not to ourselves.”

 

“I’m not even allowed outside the palace walls.” Harumi continued. “It’s not considered proper for a princess to be seen with other citizens in everyday settings. Plus it’s dangerous. I haven’t even seen the outside world except for these few times when I do things like this.”

 

“But I must say, you must take pride in being a ninja. Being a hero and admired by all,”

 

“My brothers get all the credit,” Zane huffed. He hated to say it, but deep down he knew that it was true. He looked down at his scarred metal skin on his torso and showed still through the scorched gi he was still wearing. “And like your life as royalty, there are...less pleasant aspects…”

 

“What happened?” The princess asked, her eyes full of concern. Zane sighed.

 

“We were battling an enemy of ours and my brother used me as a shield. I ended up getting burned.”

 

Harumi frowned. “That doesn’t sound like much of a brother to me…”

 

Zane didn’t know what, but something about that made him stop and think. What she said couldn’t be true, could it?

 

Zane shook his head. Of course it couldn’t. He and the other ninja had done everything together. It was the last thing they would do.

 

Even though he tried to convince himself otherwise, a small part of him still made him rethink how his teammates felt about him.

 

He was startled from his thoughts as he suddenly felt a hand on the disfigured metal where the Mechanic had struck him.

 

He was shocked to see Harumi’s hand over his “scar”.

 

“Can it be fixed?” She asked him. She looked up into his eyes.

 

Zane was paralyzed. So many things were happening at once. When he saw the princess show concern...no...care for him, he realized how long it was since someone had done so for him. And when Harumi touched his scar, he realized how starved of physical contact he was. It was so foreign to him, he wasn’t even sure if he liked it.

 

When Zane didn’t answer, Harumi cupped his face. “Zane, what do they do to you? You don’t deserve to be treated like this, and you know that…”

 

Zane looked at the ground, tears prickling at the corners of his eyes. Harumi pulled the ice ninja into a comforting hug. He returned it hesitantly after a moment, he had all but forgotten what a genuine hug felt like.

 

“Why do you stay with them if they don’t treat you right?” asked Harumi

 

“Because I have nowhere else to go and Ninjago needs me,” said Zane

 

“Perhaps there is another option, but I think we should head back now, if I’m gone too long someone might find out I’m missing then all hell will break loose,” said Harumi. Zane nodded solemnly and they went back to the palace in silence. He helped Harumi climb back into her bedroom window and bade her goodnight before resuming his watch on the roof. He looked to where the other ninja were to see if they noticed his absence. It appeared that they did not.

 

Zane breathed a sigh of relief. FSM knows what kind of trouble he would have been in if they were both caught.

 

 

The sunrise revealed itself in beautiful shades of red and orange as morning dawned over the royal palace. The ninja left their posts on the roof of the palace and met back up in front of the main entrance and went to go eat breakfast. Zane stayed silent, not wanting to risk any chance of angering his brothers by speaking out of turn.

 

“Kai maybe next time you can think about how much work it is for me to constantly have to fix Zane before you go using him as a shield from your own element, I’m getting sick of always having to fix him!” said Jay

 

“Sorry buddy,” said Kai to Jay.

 

Zane swallowed his food and looked at the table, tears threatening to fall from his eyes. He finished his food then wordlessly left the table to go back on patrol.

 

“And where do you think you’re going?” asked Lloyd

 

“Back on patrol,” said Zane

 

“I haven’t given you an assigned patrol spot for today, sit back down and quit acting like you’re the leader because you’re not,” spat Lloyd.

 

None of the ninjas noticed Harumi in the doorway. She gave a wry grin, yes Zane would be the perfect recruit, not to mention he was kind of adorable. She walked back down the hall.

 

“And with a ninja on our side, they will finally see what we are trying to accomplish,” she schemed. She went back to her room to plan for tonight.

 

That evening, Zane and Harumi snuck out again to give food to the poor. Zane actually found that he likes spending time with the princess. She was kind to him and genuinely seemed to enjoy his company.

 

“Last night, you mentioned something,” Zane said as he gave an apple to a homeless man. “What was it that you were going to tell me about this ‘other option’?”

 

Harumi sighed. “Okay, I’ll tell you. But you must hear me out.”

 

Zane raised an eyebrow. “Okay?”

 

“You join the Sons of Garmadon.”

 

Zane gasped. Was she serious? They were criminals! And we was built to protect, not to destroy Ninjago’s peace.

 

“I know you think it's not a good idea,” Harumi said, seeing Zane’s reaction. “But-”

 

“No, I would never!” Zane told her. He turned around and began to run back for the palace, but Harumi’s next words stopped him.

 

“They’ll treat you better. Better than your so-called ‘brothers’ ever will!”

 

Zane stood rooted to his spot, unsure of what to do. He couldn’t do something like that. He had a purpose, and it was to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. It would go against everything he had ever known. He stood for peace, freedom, and courage in the face of all who threatened Ninjago. And the SOG was the complete opposite of all of that.

 

But yet, Zane hadn’t been treated like a brother at all by his teammates. It seemed like lately all they viewed him as was an expendable piece of equipment that they could kick around. It seemed to him they didn’t care about him anymore. He had always been fearful of not being seen as equal by the other ninja, but now his fears were coming true. Could the SOG really give him the equality and respect he sought?

 

Zane shook his head furiously. No. They were a crime ring. There was nothing respectable in that. And he was a ninja! He was better than this.

 

He continued to leave, but right before he vanished from sight, Harumi called after him.

 

“The offer is still open if you choose to!”

 

Harumi watched him go, a wicked smile appearing on her face. She saw his hesitation. It was only a matter of time before he snapped.

 

Zane lay awake in bed, thinking over the events of the last two days.

 

“Tin Can”

 

“-It’s a good idea if it gets you out of our way!”

 

“-I’m tired of fixing him,”

 

He felt tears springing to his eyes remembering their words that had threatened to rip his heart in two. He rolled over and faced the wall. Would the SOG really be more accepting? Was turning against the side of good really a worthy price to pay to feel wanted? The first hug he had gotten in years had been from someone in a crime ring. Was the light really better than the darkness if the darkness would actually take care of him?

 

“I’ll give them one more chance,” sighed Zane.

 

He got up and went down to the banquet room for a glass of water. Not that he needed it, but simple things of that sort seemed to comfort him in times like this.

 

He walked through the entry of the banquet room and turned on the light, only to find Cole halfway through eating a whole chocolate cake to himself.

 

Zane stared at Cole, confused. He had told the team that he had given up sweets since Master Wu disappeared.

 

“Cole?” Zane asked. “What are you doing?”

 

“Eating cake…” He said nonchalantly.

 

“But I thought you said ‘My body is a temple’?”

 

Cole swallowed his bite of cake and threw Zane a nasty look.

 

“Zane, for the love of the FSM, could you please just shut up for once?!”

 

Cole hadn’t meant to be so harsh to Zane. He had been stressing out about this whole SOG predicament, and eating cake was his main coping mechanism.

 

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That was it. Zane had enough.

 

Seething with rage, he turned and left. Cole was too fixated on his cake to notice.

 

It was true. His lifelong fear was confirmed. His brothers didn’t see him as equal. They didn’t care about him.

 

To Zane, they weren’t his brothers anymore. They were strangers- no- enemies.

 

He went up to his room and threw off his burnt gi. He found a fresh change of clothes, they were black and purple with only hints of white and pale blue. Unbeknownst to him they had been placed there by Harumi. He donned them before picking up his weapons and opening the window. Just as he was about to climb onto the roof, he heard Lloyd’s voice.

 

“Zane, what are you doing?”

 

Zane turned to Lloyd, his blood boiling at the mere sight of his former teammate.

 

“Leaving.” Zane hissed. Lloyd looked at him.

 

“What do you mean, you’re leaving? You have a palace to protect!”

 

“Not anymore.” The former ice ninja growled. “You have a palace to protect. This is no longer any of my affairs.”

 

“What?!” Lloyd asked. “Why?”

 

Zane glowered at Lloyd, a look he had never seen from the once cool and collected nindroid. In Zane’s eyes Lloyd saw hurt, anger- and hatred.

 

“I quit.”

 

Before Lloyd could say anything, the nindroid jumped onto the roof and vanished into the night.

 

 

It wasn’t difficult to find the Bounty. She was anchored on the outskirts of the city. Zane jumped up on the anchor and scaled the chain before swinging up on the deck. Once on deck he ran to the sleeping quarters and took everything he owned and stuffed it into a suitcase.

 

“Zane, what are you doing?” Came Pixal’s voice

 

“Kai used me as a shield, Jay is sick of me, Lloyd pretty much told me to get lost, and Cole told me to shut up, I’m done, I quit,” seethed Zane

 

“Ninja never quit, I think you are overreacting,” said Pixal

 

“I should have known you’d side with them, you and I are incompatible after all,” said Zane leaping out the open window. He ran to the poorer side of the city and found Harumi handing out food.

 

“I’m in,” said Zane

 

“Excellent, would you mind helping me finish up here and then I’ll take you to headquarters,” said Harumi

 

“Of course,” said Zane.

 

They finished handing out food until Harumi’s bag was empty. Then Zane followed Harumi out of the slums.

 

“You made the right choice, Zane,” Harumi told him as she led the former ninja through twisting and turning alleyways. “I’ve been witnessing the mistreatment you suffered at the hands of your so-called brothers. But now with us, you’ll finally get the respect you deserve.”

 

“Where are we going?” Zane asked her.

 

“To Central Station,” Harumi answered. “It’s abandoned, and your signal won’t reach any of the ninja’s locators if they decide to try and find you.”

 

Zane nodded. “I see…”

 

Harumi came to a manhole in the middle of a dark street. She pried it open and gestured to it.

 

“After you.” She said.

 

Zane and Harumi jumped down into the manhole. Below the street was an abandoned stretch of subway tracks. Harumi pulled a flashlight from her pocket and together she and Zane navigated the network of old subway tunnels until they came to a set of old metal doors. Loud voices were heard from the other end.

 

Harumi stopped the nindroid.

 

“Welcome to your new life, Zane.” She told him. “Gone are the days where you’re treated like nothing more than a piece of scrap metal. From here on out, you will be treated with nothing but respect as you deserve.”

 

Harumi opened the doors and pushed Zane inside.

 

Inside the base was full of various SOG members, including Ultraviolet, Killow, Mr. E, and lower members. They all dropped what they were doing to see Zane standing at the doors, unsure of what to do.

 

Ultraviolet set down her drink and pulled out a knife.

 

“What is he doing here?!” She screeched. “Get him!”

 

The psychotic biker girl was about to lunge at Zane when Harumi stepped out from behind him. She held up a hand.

“Ultra, stop!” She said. “It's not proper of you to be scaring off new members, and you know that!”

 

Ultraviolet stopped and looked at Harumi, confused.

 

“New members?” She said. “What do you mean? He’s a ninja!”

 

“Not anymore,” Harumi said, smiling wickedly. She grabbed Zane by the arm and led him to the center of the crowd.

 

“Sons of Garmadon, I’d like to introduce you all to our newest member. Cast out by his teammates that had wrongfully treated him as less than an equal, I have brought him to us so he can finally get the treatment and respect he deserves. Everyone, meet Windigo!”

Chapter Text

Zane turned to Harumi. “But that’s not my name…”

 

“It is now,” Harumi told him. “Being in the Sons of Garmadon, having your name that the ninja would know you by is too obvious. Windigo is the name of an ancient beast that roams the cold regions of Ninjago, searching for unsuspecting humans to prey upon. Such a name is proper for you to command respect in others. Besides,” She grinned at him. “It's perfectly fitting for as formidable of a man as yourself.”

 

Zane felt heat rising in his cheeks. It had been a very long time since he had received any kind of complement of that sort.

 

“I like it…” Zane said. “Windigo…”

 

The name rolled off his tongue nicely and had a good ring to it. Not only that, but it felt refreshing that he was stripping himself of his old ninja identity.

 

Ultraviolet narrowed her eyes at Windigo. Then she shrugged.

 

“Alright, if you say so.” She said. “He’s cool with me…”

 

Mr. E, who had been quiet during this whole spectacle, stepped forward. He pressed a button on his chest. His red and black outfit disappeared and he took off his helmet.

 

Windigo was shocked to see another nindroid much like him staring back at him, Except his eyes were yellow and his metal was stained brown as if it had been covered in rust in the past. On his body were deep cuts that had been welded shut.

 

Windigo was in awe. “W-who are you?”

 

“This is Echo,” Harumi said. “Like you, he was created by Dr. Julien. Following the death of your father, he escaped his home on the lighthouse and came to Ninjago City looking for help, but no one wanted to take him in. Like you with your former teammates, no one saw him as an equal.” Harumi traced a finger over a weld on Echo’s shoulder. “We found him getting kicked around by a group of teens and took him in. The scars from him being mistreated are still present, but we brought him and fixed him up as best we could. He quickly proved to be worth his weight in gold and is now one of the generals of the SOG.”

 

“I didn’t know I had a brother…” Windigo said. He approached Echo. “I’m so sorry for all the abuse you had to endure. Had I known I had a brother, I would have dropped everything to find you.”

 

“I thought maybe your teammates would have told you about me?” Echo said. Windigo cocked his head.

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

“Nya and Jay.” Echo continued. “They found me at the lighthouse.”

 

Zane clenched his fists, seething. As if he already didn’t hate the other ninja enough, this only fueled the raging fire of spite within him.

“They never told me such things.” he seethed. Echo saw his brother’s anger and rested a hand on his shoulder.

 

“It angers me too, but now we are together, and together we can exact revenge on them.”

 

Zane smiled wickedly at the thought. After everything they have done to him- no, not just him, but his brother as well- the ninja deserved nothing less than the cruelest revenge he could possibly inflict on them.

 

“Revenge can wait brother, for now, let me show you around,” said Echo, noticing the smirk on his brother’s face.

 

Wrapping an arm around Zane, Echo led him through the base. For being an underground subway station, it was surprisingly...comfortable. There were places to sleep for the members, a chamber that acted as a garage and shop for the member’s bikes, a mess hall, as well as a room full of dartboards and pool tables.

 

Zane looked around his new home. It wouldn’t necessarily be what one would think of as a pleasant place to live, but to him, he couldn’t ask for anything more. He was finally in a place where people would respect him. He was finally with a real family.

 

“So, Windigo, my brother, what do you think?” Echo asked him.

 

Zane nodded, looking at the base. “I love it.”

 

“Good!” Echo said. He rested a hand on Zane’s shoulder. “I am glad we’re together now. I’ve been waiting long for this day.”

 

They walked into the recreation room to catch up and pass the time. Harumi found the two nindroids in an intense game of pool.

 

“You know, you two almost look like twins.” She commented.

Echo and Zane looked up at the sound of Harumi’s voice. Zane looked at his brother and smiled. “I mean, we are brothers after all.”

 

Echo smiled and nodded before placing his next shot on the pool table.

 

“I need to go back to the palace for the night,” Harumi told them. “I don’t want my parents or the ninja to suspect anything. Zane, in the meantime, feel free to make yourself at home and get acquainted with the others. I’ll be back in the morning.”

 

Harumi winked at Zane. “See you tomorrow.” She said.

 

Zane stared after her as she walked out of the room, heat rising into his face.

 

Echo punched him in the shoulder playfully. “So you have eyes for the Quiet One?”

 

Zane shook his head to deny it, but Echo knew it was true.

 

“Oh, don’t be so shy brother.” He told him. “Your secret is safe with me.”

 

Zane scoffed playfully and reset the pool balls. He perfectly aimed the cue ball so that one hit would knock every ball into the pockets.

 

“Nice one, I’m not allowed to play pool with the others because I’m too good,” smirked Echo. Zane playfully ruffled Echo’s hair.

 

“Don’t worry little brother, you can always play pool with me, perhaps I can teach you to play chess,” said Zane

 

“Oh I know how to play that, I’m probably not as good as you but Father’s tea bot taught me to play it,” said Echo with a smirk.

 

At the mention of their father, Zane suddenly felt guilty. He had built him- and Echo- to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. He was meant to keep peace in Ninjago, not destroy it. Besides Echo, his father was the only one who truly saw Zane as an equal. What would he think if he saw his sons now?

 

Echo seemed to understand what Zane was thinking. He stepped towards Zane and took him into an embrace.

 

“I know what you’re thinking, Zane.” He told him. “It's hard to understand at first, but remember: even though we were built to protect, our father would also want us to be happy. And besides,” Echo grinned. “We’re still fulfilling our purpose. There are lower-ranking gang members that don’t know how to fight. To them, we’re role models.”

 

Zane beamed at his brother as he realized he was right. “Indeed,” he said. “That’s another way of looking at it.”

 

Echo glanced up at a clock on the wall.

 

“It’s getting late, and I’m sure you’re exhausted.” He said. “Let’s get some rest. You can bunk with me.”

 

Zane nodded and followed Echo to the bunkroom.

 

“Lower SOG members all share one common chamber, but us generals get our own rooms.” Echo explained as they walked through a giant room filled with bunk beds. It led to a hallway that led to a series of doors. Echo paused at one and pushed it open.

 

The two nindroids walked inside. Echo’s room was a comfortable size with a large bed in one corner with a desk in the other and bookshelf in between. Various papers were scattered across the desk. Rock band posters given to Echo by other gangsters and newspaper clippings of the SOG were hanging on the walls.

 

“It seems you’re very at home here.” Zane remarked, looking around Echo’s room.

“Yes,” He said, setting his biker helmet on the desk. “The SOG has treated me well, as such as they will with you.”

 

Zane smiled. FSM, it felt so good to have someone he could truly rely on, to have a place where he was safe, and to be appreciated and respected. It was great to finally feel at peace at last.

 

Zane went to his suitcase and pulled out a pair of his pajamas. He and Echo were changing into their nightclothes, when Zane pulled his shirt off, revealing the twisted scar on his torso.

 

Echo gasped when he saw. He marched over, grabbed Zane by the shoulders and looked his brother dead in the eyes.

 

“Who did this to you?” He demanded, his voice dripping with venom. “Who hurt you like this?”

 

Zane looked down at the disfigured metal. He ran a hand over it, wincing at the memory of not only the searing pain of the Mechanic’s attack but also the memory of the emotional pain when Kai had used him as a shield with no regard for his well being.

 

“The Mechanic…” Zane told Echo quietly. “He managed to attack me with his flamethrower and the fire ninja used me as a shield…”

 

Echo was still for a moment, unable to imagine the pain Zane had gone through. Then he quickly enveloped his brother into a tight, protective hug.

 

“Zane, my brother, I swear on Father’s grave that I will let no one hurt you like this anymore.” He told him, cradling his head. “And we will make the Mechanic pay dearly. With his life.”

 

Zane clutched his brother as if his life depended on it, tears springing into his eyes. “Thank you…”

 

Then Zane couldn’t take it anymore. He broke down in the safety of Echo’s arms, finally able to be vulnerable after keeping everything bottled up for so long. Echo continued to hold his brother as he sobbed, whispering soothing words to calm him.

 

After Zane stopped crying, Echo gently pried Zane from him. He tilted his brother's face to his own.

 

“Zane,” Echo said to him. “There’s no need to cry anymore. You’re with me now. You’re safe here.”

 

Blinking through his stray tears, Zane nodded. Echo guided Zane to the edge of his bed and made him sit down.

 

“Wait here,” Echo told him. He left the room and came back a moment later with a glass of water. Zane accepted it gratefully, the cool water helping him calm down after his breakdown. When he was done, Echo took the glass from him and had him lay down.

 

“It’s been a long day for you, brother.” Echo told him. “Let’s get some rest. I’m sure your energy levels are low.”

 

Zane nodded as Echo climbed into the bed with him. He pulled the covers over both of them before pulling Zane into his arms, making a silent vow to never let anyone harm him again and to never let him out of his sight. This was his brother, and he would defend him with his life.

 

Zane melted in Echo’s arms, finally being able to truly feel like he had a family.

 

 

“Gone?! What do you mean he’s gone?!” Jay cried.

 

“He just left!” Lloyd told him. “I saw him going out the window. When I asked what he was doing he said he was leaving because he quit!”

It was the morning after Zane had unceremoniously left the other ninja. The other ninja didn’t suspect anything was wrong, that was until neither Zane or Lloyd came down to join them for breakfast.

 

Kai finished his stack of pancakes. When he saw that neither of them still hadn’t shown up, he got the feeling something wasn’t quite right.

 

“I’m going to find Lloyd,” Kai told the rest. They nodded silently as he got up and walked out of the room.

 

He went up the stairs to the living quarters and approached Lloyd’s room. He knocked on the door.

 

“Hey, Lloyd!” Kai said. “Come down and have breakfast with us!”

 

When there was no answer, Kai got even more suspicious.

 

Kai turned the doorknob and entered Lloyd’s room to find that he wasn’t there. He furrowed his brow in confusion. What in the world?

 

Kai searched the other rooms but still found no trace of Lloyd anywhere. Where could he have gone?

 

Suddenly there was a commotion downstairs. Kai ran to investigate and saw Lloyd standing in the middle of the others.

 

“Did you check the Bounty?!” Cole asked.

 

“I did! I-I can’t find him…”

 

“Lloyd!” Kai said, running to him. “There you are! I was looking all over for you! Where have you been?!”

 

Lloyd was bent over his knees, seeming to be out of breath.

 

“Lloyd?” Kai said. “What’s the matter?”

 

Lloyd looked up at him, his eyes wild with fear.

 

“Zane’s gone missing. I spent all night looking for him, but I can’t find a trace of him anywhere. It’s like he disappeared into thin air!”

 

“Did you check the Bounty?” Kai asked.

 

“Pixal said he grabbed his things and said that they were incompatible before he left.” Lloyd said. “She tried to locate him by his beacon but she wasn’t able to get a signal.”

 

Nya gasped. “Zane broke up with Pixal?!”

 

Lloyd shook his head solemnly. “Sounds like it…”

 

“Did he tell you why he left?” Lloyd shook his head.

 

“No! He just said that he quit…”

 

“He quit?!” Cole cried. “But why?! Zane doesn’t just quit!”

 

“I DON’T KNOW!” Lloyd yelled. “I don't know! I tried following him but he was too fast, and he wouldn’t answer me!”

 

“What are we gonna do?” asked Jay. “Without Zane, we’re so hooped!”

 

They didn’t have long to think of an answer to Jay’s question.

 

BOOM!

 

Shaking rattled the palace walls and the floor crumbled beneath their feet. Before the ninja knew what was happening, they saw flames licking the walls. Smoke filled the air.

 

“WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” Jay screamed over the sound of collapsing walls and exploding bombs.

 

Coughing violently from the smoke, Lloyd fought his way through the smoldering debris and punched out a window. He gasped for fresh air. He looked over to the front gate, just in time to see some SOG members, led by Mr. E and Ultra Violet, burst through.

 

Lloyd’s eyes went wide with terror. They breached the palace walls! The royal family and the mask were in danger!

“It’s the Sons of Garmadon!” He called to the rest of the team. He pulled on his mask. “Get ready for a fight!”

Meanwhile, at the SOG headquarters, Windigo was getting a more extensive tour from the members who hadn’t gone to get the mask. Killow was showing him the kitchen at the moment.

“The Quiet One informed us that you love to cook, not many of us know how to cook a decent meal so we generally just get Mr. Chen’s Noodles, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to start making meals? It would be a massive help around here and good food is always appreciated by those of us who come back from missions,” said Killow.

 

“I’d be happy to,” said Windigo.

 

“Excellent!” exclaimed Killow giving Windigo a friendly slap on the back causing Zane to stumble forward for a moment because of Killow’s size and strength.

 

“Is there proper cooking equipment and running water? Not to mention food to cook with?” asked Windigo.

 

“We have a few pots and pans and yes there is running water, I ain’t sure about how fresh any of the stuff in the fridge is though,” said Killow.

 

“No matter, I am sure I can make do,” said Windigo.

 

“A quick word of warnin’, Ultra Violet killed the last person who so much as touched her chocolate-covered tarantulas,” said Killow before leaving Zane in the kitchen.

 

He found sets of cracked and chipped plates, glasses, and bowls but no cutlery other than knives. A quick search of the fridge and cabinets revealed a sack of flour, six bags of sugar, a half-gallon of milk, a handful of strange spices, a massive bag of rice, six eggs and a few onions, as well as a can of some weird looking vegetable as well as ten cans of tuna and a loaf of moldy bread and a jar of mayo that was long past its expiration date as well as multiple half-finished boxes of take out noodles with names written on them. On the shelf above the sink was a large container of still living spiders that had seemed to have been covered in chocolate. Zane shuddered at the sight before starting on a simple fried rice dish.

 

 

The other ninja recovered from the explosion and pulled on their masks.

 

Lloyd saw Hutchins running through the fire and smoke. He jumped in front of the Master-At-Arms.

 

“You!” Lloyd yelled. “You did this!”

 

“Me?! You think I was the one that did this?!” Hutchins yelled back. “I have served this house for the better part of my life, and have sworn to protect the royal family! I don’t have any part in this!”

 

Just as Hutchins finished his sentence, Ultra Violet, Mr. E, and a couple of other SOG members jumped into the hallway. She looked over her shoulder.

 

“You go find the mask!” She said to Mr. E and the others. She turned back to Lloyd and Hutchins, a sick smile on her face as she drew a pair of sai. “This fight is mine.”

 

With a shout, Ultra Violet leaped at the two. Hutchins grabbed Lloyd and pulled him out of the way as she flew through the air, the blade slashing where the green ninja’s throat had been a second before. She slid and lunged again.

 

This time, Lloyd and Hutchins were both ready. Lloyd drew his sword and together they fought Ultra Violet, leaving Mr. E and the others to find the Mask of Deception.

 

Mr. E slammed the throttle on his bike, speeding through the flaming hallways. After a couple of twists and turns, He finally found the room where the mask was kept. It was sitting in a glass display case, miraculously untouched while the rest of the room was on fire.

 

Dodging through the burning debris, He had just about reached the mask when suddenly Kai, Cole, Jay, and Nya jumped in front of him.

 

Mr. E slammed on the brakes as they drew their weapons. The ninja charged at him, but Mr. E reached behind him and pulled out the Oni Mask of Vengeance. Suddenly he grew a pair of blood red horns on his head, another pair of arms, and his eyes became two burning flames.

 

“Really?!” Jay said. “Four arms?! Like that’s new!”

 

Mr. E lunged at the ninja.

 

“Look out!” Nya cried.

Glass shattered and more of the burning palace surrounded the ninja and Mr. E as they fought.

 

Despite the ninja’s best efforts, Mr. E was too powerful for them to defeat. He sent each of them flying back into a smoldering wall.

 

Using his fist, Mr. E broke the glass casing holding the Mask of Deception and grabbed it.

 

Groaning from the pain from fighting Mr. E, Kai got up to see him escaping with the mask.

 

“No!” Kai said. “We can’t let him get away!”

 

In a flash of desperation, he shot a fireball at Mr. E. It hit the mask out of his hands and sent it falling to the floor, shattering into pieces.

 

Seeing he had been thwarted and that the room was about to collapse, Mr. E turned and fled on his bike. The other ninja escaped the burning room, just as the roof above caved in.

 

They were rejoined by Lloyd and Hutchins, who were accompanied by Harumi.

 

“Are you alright?!” Lloyd asked them over the sound of the burning palace.

 

“Yes!” Jay answered. “Kai destroyed the Mask of Deception!”

 

“No, that wasn’t the real mask!” Hutchins said. “It was only a replica!”

 

Nya turned to Hutchins. “What? It was fake?!”

 

Hutchins nodded quickly. “Yes, the real one is in a vault below the palace, I’ll take you to it, but we must be quick!”

 

They followed Hutchins through the halls.

 

“Why didn’t you tell us the actual location of the mask before?!” Lloyd asked Hutchins as they ran.

 

“I didn’t think you could be trusted with it, it’s extremely powerful!” He responded. “But I do now! I have no other choice!”

 

They burst into the throne room, where Hutchins ran over to the throne of the emperor. He pressed a button on the throne, which revealed a secret passageway. Hutchins ducked in and emerged a second later, holding the real Mask of Deception.

 

“Take it and go!” Hutchins told Lloyd, thrusting the mask into his hands. He pulled Harumi by the sleeve next to Lloyd. “And her too! Get her somewhere safe!”

 

Lloyd grabbed the princess and began to run out of the palace, but Harumi fought against his hold.

 

“Wait!” She cried. “What about my parents?! What about you?!”

 

“Don’t worry, princess!” Hutchins called. “I’ll find your parents! Now go!”

 

Lloyd and Harumi ran through the halls. They burst out of one of the back doors. Lloyd looked around frantically for a way to escape the palace when he saw a motorcycle sitting up against the wall. Lloyd ran to it.

 

“Come on!” He called to Harumi. She too ran over and Lloyd helped her on. Lloyd gassed the bike and sped away from the palace, just as it exploded into a brilliant ball of fire. Even as they were speeding away, Lloyd felt the heat burn the back of his neck, and the light from the explosion blind his eyes. He heard Harumi cry in despair as she watched her home become obliterated, a cry that ripped a hole in Lloyd’s heart.

 

‘Oh, Harumi…’ Lloyd thought mournfully as they drove away. ‘What I wouldn’t give to make you happy again…”

Chapter Text

After the members who had gone on the mission to get the mask, returned, they all went to the garage to fix any of their vehicles that had taken damage in the explosion. Windigo watched his brother grumble about how much damage his favorite bike had taken before starting to repair it.

 

“Hey Windigo, do you have your own bike?” asked Killow

 

“No, I’ve had plenty of bikes in the past but they have all ended up getting destroyed, and I never got to have any say in what they looked like,” said Zane

 

“Well ya can’t be in a biker gang with no bike, we have some spare frames and engines as well as plenty of paint, wheels and spare parts, we all build our own custom bikes to suit our own styles and preferences,” said Killow.

 

Windigo grinned and Echo showed him where the stuff was. Now Zane had something to do when the rest of the gang was on a mission. Zane got to work building the bike, he searched thousands of instruction manuals and manufactures’ manuals within his data banks and found the style and design he wanted to mimic. Meanwhile, he could hear Echo swearing in binary from halfway across the shop.

 

“Hey, Windigo mate, what is Mr. E sayin?” asked Killow. Zane chuckled.

 

“You don’t wanna know, some curse words are so extreme it is impossible to translate,” said Zane, just as Echo began screeching like an old dial-up tone.

 

“Oy! Language little bro!” laughed Windigo. Echo stuck up his middle finger at Zane while he was under the bike.

 

“Well 01000110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110100 01101111 01101111,” said Windigo.

“Oh yeah 476f204675636b20796f757273656c66,” said Echo

 

“4e6f2120596f7521,” said Windigo

 

“Um what are they saying?” asked Ultra violet, munching on a spider.

 

“I think they’re swearing at each other,” said Killow

 

“Oooh, this should be good,” said Ultra tossing several more spiders into her mouth.

 

“Can you understand Nindroid?” asked Killow curiously.

 

“No but it will still be fun to watch,” said Ultra.

 

No sooner had Ultra finished her sentence when a crescent wrench went whizzing through the air. It hit Echo in between the legs.

 

“01010011 01001111 01001110 00100000 01001111 01000110 00100000 01000001 00100000 01000110 01010101 01000011 01001011 01001001 01001110 01000111 00100000 01000010 01001001 01010100 01000011 01001000 00100000 01000001 01010011 01010011 00100000 01000110 01000001 01011000 00100000 01001101 01000001 01000011 01001000 01001001 01001110 01000101 00100000 01011001 01001111 01010101 00100000 01000110 01010101 01000011 01001011 01001001 01001110 01000111 00100000 01000011 01001111 01000011 01001011 00100000 01001100 01001001 01000011 01001011 01000101 01010010 00100001!!!”

 

Echo jumped up from under his bike and grabbed a screwdriver and chucked it at his brother. Killow and Ultra Violet dove out of the way

“01001111 01101000 00100000 01110001 01110101 01101001 01110100 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01101100 01100001 01101001 01101110 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01100010 01100001 01100011 01110101 01110011 00101100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110011 01110101 01100011 01101000 00100000 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100001 01110011 01110011 00100000 01100101 01100001 01110100 01100101 01110010 00101110 -”

 

Zane was cut off when the screwdriver hit him in the face and sent him falling backward over a pile of spare motorcycle parts.

 

“01000111 01001111 00100000 01000110 01010101 01000011 01001011 00100000 01000001 00100000 01000010 01001111 01010010 01000111 00100000 01010111 01000001 01010100 01000011 01001000 00100001!” He yelled as he popped back up.

 

Echo laughed but stopped when Zane threw a bike frame at him. He ducked as it went flying through the air and crashed into the wall behind him.

 

“Okay! Okay!” Echo said. “You win!”

 

Zane smirked and walked back over to where his build was. Echo finished tightening up a couple of loose screws on his bike before giving it a much-needed detail. Then he walked over to where Zane was working on his bike.

 

“Do you require my assistance?” He asked him, picking up a wrench. “I can help you if you’d like.”

 

Zane grinned and nodded. “Of course. It would be a great way for us to bond.”

 

Echo knelt down beside Zane and got to work.

 

“So did you get the Mask of Deception?” He asked his brother. Echo shook his head.

 

“No. It turned out that the one behind the glass was a replica and the real one was in a secret vault.”

 

“I see,” Zane said, screwing on some parts to the bike’s frame. “It’s called the Palace of Secrets for a reason. So how are you going to get it?”

 

“The ninja got away with it, but Harumi’s with them. She told us she’d try to sneak out tonight or tomorrow to get it to the base.”

 

Zane bristled at the thought of Harumi with the ninja. “They better treat her well…” he growled. “I’d snap their necks if they hurt her…”

 

“She will be fine, brother, she can handle herself.” Echo told him. “And besides, since when did you become so protective of the Quiet One?”

 

Zane didn’t answer, he turned so Echo wouldn’t see the redness rising in his cheeks.

 

 

Meanwhile, the ninja as well as Harumi were on Destiny's Bounty, which was anchored in Hollow’s Bluff. The princess and the green ninja had escaped the palace with the Mask of Deception and had picked up the other ninja, who had escaped the explosion relatively unharmed. Nya had told Harumi that her parents and Hutchins didn’t make it, which devastated her, but Lloyd quickly assured her that she was one of them now.

 

Lloyd had taken on showing Harumi around the Bounty. As they were walking down the hall, Harumi stared out the window, at the grey sea and skies, fog wrapping around the spears of stone that would otherwise rip a ship to shreds.

 

Harumi turned to Lloyd. “How long will we stay here?”

 

“Just until we know it’s safe.” He told her. “If the SOG could infiltrate the palace of all places, then they could be anywhere.”

 

“You’ve been very quiet, Lloyd. Is something wrong? From what I’ve seen, you’re not the silent type.”

 

Lloyd sighed. “One of our teammates quit without saying why, and we can’t find him anywhere.”

 

“Do you know why?”

 

“No, I don’t. That’s why it's so frustrating. Zane wouldn’t just get up and leave!”

 

Harumi nodded quietly, going along with it. But she knew everything. It took everything she had to not smirk.

 

“So,” Lloyd said as he finished showing Harumi around. “What do you think? It’s nowhere near as good as the palace, but-”

 

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Harumi said. “I’m thankful to have a roof over my head, even more so to be alive thanks to you.”

 

Lloyd did his best to fight the blush that threatened to rise in his cheeks. He turned to the doorway just in time to see Nya, Jay, Cole, and Kai walk through the door.

 

“There you two are!” Nya said. “I was looking all over for you. Come on we need to talk about coming up with a game plan.”

 

Lloyd and Harumi followed the others to the ops room. There on the table sat the Mask of Deception.

 

“We know the SOG already has the Mask of Vengeance.” Nya began. “And we were able to recover the Mask of Deception. That leaves the Mask of Hatred up in the air.”

 

“So we need to find it before they do,” Cole said. Nya nodded. “Precisely.”

 

“But how do we do that?” Jay asked. “We know nothing about the SOG, except they want all three of the masks and to resurrect Garmadon.”

 

“Well, regardless of what we do or don’t know, we need to find the third mask before they do. Does anyone know where it’s located?”

 

“I conducted a scan of the entirety of Ninjago, but I picked up no results about its location.” Pixal’s voice said, coming through the computer. “It’s as if it never existed…”

 

The ninja and Harumi sat there, quiet, thinking of ways to navigate this roadblock. Finally, Lloyd spoke up.

 

“Then we need to focus on who’s giving orders. If we can get tabs on them, then we’ll be able to figure out the Mask of Hatred’s location.”

 

“Great idea, Lloyd,” Nya told him.

 

“I believe I may have some information that could be resourceful in your mission,” Pixal said. “One of the suspects involved at the heist of Borg Tower was taken into custody the night of the crime. But the police will be releasing him soon due to his lack of cooperation to talk.”

 

“Well,” Kai said, smirking and puffing out his chest. “If Johnny Law can’t get him to talk, maybe Johnny Ninja can?”

 

“We shouldn’t waste any time then,” Cole said. “Let's go!”

 

“I’ll stay back with Harumi in case the SOG decides to try something funny,” Nya said.

 

“Good idea,” Lloyd said before he turned and left with the others.

 

 

“If this man won’t talk, I think I know someone that can make him.” Lloyd declared as they walked through the city streets. The green ninja walked to a door and opened it. Jay looked at the sign.

 

“But I thought we were in a hurry to get to the police?” Jay asked.

 

“This is just a quick stop,” Lloyd said as they walked in. “We need to get this suspect to talk. I know someone who can help us.”

 

They looked around and saw no one inside. Lloyd cleared his throat.

 

“Is Mistaké here?” The green ninja asked. An old lady barged out from the doors behind the counter.

 

“Never heard of her!” She barked but stopped when she saw the ninja. Then she grinned.

 

“Ooh! My apologies, grandson, I didn’t recognize your voice. It’s so good to see you again, its been many years.”

 

“Wait, what did you call Lloyd?” Jay asked, surprised. Mistaké only grinned and chuckled.

 

“That’s not important at the moment.” She said, waving a dismissive hand. “I’m sorry to hear about Master Wu. He was a dear friend. What brings you here today?”

 

“We’re not giving up. But we do have a problem.” Lloyd, seeming unfazed by Mistaké’s words.

 

“What is it?”

 

“We have a suspect that we need some information from, but he’s got tight lips,” Cole said.

 

“We were wondering if maybe you had something?”

 

“I do,” Mistaké said. “The Tea of Truth. But be forewarned. The truth can be dangerous. I’ll look in the back to see any, but don’t touch anything.”

 

As the woman opened the door to the backroom, Lloyd spied a painting that piqued his interest.

 

“Mistaké, wait! That painting-”

 

Mistaké stopped and looked at the wall. “Hm? Ah, yes, the Oni and the Dragon. But you are not ready for the tale.”

 

“Please?” Lloyd asked.

 

“It is a long tale. Do you have the time?”

 

“We only came for a quick stop.” Cole said.

 

“You and Jay can go and take the tea and join Kai at the police station. I’m sure you’ll be able to get him to talk with the tea.”

 

Mistaké went in the back room and came out with a bag of tea. She gave it to Jay and the two ninja went down to the police station.

 

“Now for the story.” She said to Lloyd once they left. “Come, my child. To know the tale, you must drink the tea.”

 

 

“What is this?” Lloyd asked as Mistaké gave him a hot cup of tea.

 

“It is the Tea of Enlightenment. It will help you see the tale, the original tale, the tale of the Oni and the Dragon.”

 

“What am I supposed to see?” Lloyd asked again.

 

“See...the beginning. Long before time had a name, there was the Realm of the Oni and the Dragon.”

 

“One of the sixteen realms?”

 

“Not one of!” Mistaké said. “The first! The Dragon had the power to create. The Oni had the power to destroy. Their war was never ending. But a child arrived, born of both worlds. The child understood the power of both. Without one, you could not have the other. But when the Oni and the Dragon fought over which side the child should choose, the child abandoned their world to start a new one called Ninjago.”

 

“So, the FSM!” Lloyd said, connecting the dots. “So that means you’re part Oni and Dragon too!”

 

“Like I said, the truth can be dangerous. After the First Spinjitzu Master created Ninjago, he fathered two sons of his own. He thought he could escape the war. He saw the evil of the Oni was waiting to be unleashed in one of his sons, Lord Garmadon! It was up to Master Wu to control his brother's undying thirst to destroy, and with some help Lord Garmadon was destroyed by the most powerful force of all, the love of his own son. But in his absence, a void was created. A new darkness has arisen.”

 

“The SOG,” Lloyd said. Mistaké nodded.

 

“The three Oni Masks are relics from the first realm, and they wield tremendous power. The power to deceive. The power of vengeance. The power to hate.”

 

“What happens if the three masks are united?”
“Resurrection. They will have the power to bring back your father! But it won't be the man you recognize! There will be no light left in him!”

 

Lloyd went silent, thinking about the consequences of his father’s revival. Was Mistaké really right? Would his father really become a villain hellbent on the conquering of Ninjago once again? Would he be able to come into the light? He did once. Would he be so lucky a second time?

 

Lloyd was interrupted from his thoughts as Mistaké spoke again.

 

“I see you have already lost one of your own.” She said. “As you know, the balance of destruction and creation is extremely delicate, as is with the elements you and the others possess. All it takes is one thing to tip the scales and throw the world into chaos. Think of your actions before you lose another.”

 

Lloyd thought back to Zane, and he became aware of a sinking feeling in his stomach. What did she mean by “lost”? Was Zane dead? And what did she mean when she said to think about his actions? Did Zane runoff because of something they did?

 

Lloyd opened up his mouth to ask but was suddenly cut off as a voice came through his earpiece.

 

“Lloyd? Where are you?”

 

“Kai? I’m still at the tea shop. Did you get any information?”

 

“Uh, yes, and no. But something came up. You’ll want to come quick.”

 

Lloyd got up, thanked Mistaké for her time, and left the tea shop, her warning still in the back of his mind.

 

‘You have already lost one of your own. Think of your actions before you lose another…’

 

 

When Lloyd got to the police station, he was shocked to see the Samurai X mech there standing in the street. The other ninja stood at its feet, and Samurai X themselves was in front of them.

 

Lloyd ran up. “What’s going on here?”

 

“Samurai X told us that they wanted to help us with dissecting the SOG.” Cole explained.

 

“Okay, fine,” Lloyd said. “You can help, we trust you.”

 

Samurai X took off their helmet, revealing a familiar white and purple face with green eyes and silver.

 

“I mean, you should,” She said with a smile.

 

The ninja went slack-jawed.

 

“Pixal?!” Cole cried. “You were Samurai X all along?!”

 

“HA! I knew it!” Jay said.

 

“No you didn’t,” said Kai

 

“But why?” Lloyd asked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

 

Pixal sighed. “I had to keep my identity a secret to protect those I care about. But now with Zane being gone…”

 

Her voice trailed off as it started to crack. Lloyd saw her distress and rested a hand on her shoulder.

 

“We’ll get Zane back. I promise you. But we also need to focus on getting to the last Oni Mask.”

 

Pixal nodded and put her helmet back on.

 

“So what did you get out of the suspect?”

 

“It was Luke Cunningham, AKA the Man in the White Mask,” Kai told him. “He didn’t reveal much, but he did give us the name of a place they frequent.

 

“Which is?”

 

“Laughy’s.”

 

“The bar?” Cole said. “Huh, that seems fitting for a biker gang.”

 

“Okay, we’ve been standing around long enough.” Lloyd said. “We need to get back to the Bounty. I got something from Mistaké that I need to share with you all.”

 

 

“They want to resurrect your father?!” Nya exclaimed. Lloyd nodded grimly.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I’m so sorry, Lloyd. You can never catch a break!”

“Thanks, Nya. But we need to stop them before they get the third mask.”

 

“And how are you gonna do that?” Harumi asked. Cole and Pixal stepped forward.

 

“Cole and I will go undercover. We’ll pose as SOG recruits and find out who’s in charge.”

 

“But how are you gonna get in without being recognized?” Nya asked. “Especially you Pix, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.”

 

Pixal grinned. “I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

 

She pressed a button on her suit, and the others watched in amazement as her robotic appearance changed into a redhead girl with green eyes.

 

“No way, that's so cool!” Jay said. “How did you do that Pixal?!”

 

“Ah-ah-ah.” Pixal tsked. “It’s Ivy.”

 

Jay paused before nodding in understanding. “Oh, I got it. It’s your undercover name.”

 

Pixal nodded. “Precisely.”

 

Cole ran out of the Ops room and came back a moment later wearing white face paint, a fake mustache, and a white fedora.

 

“Uh, Cole, what is that?” Lloyd asked.

 

“Not Cole, Lloyd.” He said, striking a pose. “It’s Rocky Dangerbuff to you!”

 

Lloyd rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.”

 

“The suspect indicated that Laughy’s is a significant spot for the SOG, so that’s where we’ll head first. I’ll have to jam all communication signals so I don’t give us away.”

 

“But what if something happens to you?” Kai asked. “How will we reach you?”

 

“I can hold my own, thank you,” Pixal said. “And it’s not like I’ll be alone.”

 

“We should get going, every second counts to get to the last masks.”

 

With that, Cole and Pixal ran out of the Bounty and headed for Laughy’s.

 

 

“You ready?” Dangerbuff asked Ivy. She nodded.

 

“Yes.”

 

Just as they walked up to the door, they flew open and someone came flying through the air. Dangerbuff and Ivy leapt out of the way to avoid the person as they crashed into the ground. From inside the bar, a bunch of thugs were cheering. Ivy recognized them as SOG thugs.

 

“We’re in the right place,” Dangerbuff said. Ivy nodded.

 

“Follow my lead,” Ivy said.

 

As they walked into the bar, Cole couldn’t help but notice how beautiful Pixal looked in her disguise. Even as they made their way through the groups of thugs and to the bar stools, he couldn’t take his eyes off her.

 

‘Damn.’ Cole thought as he also noticed quite a few gangsters giving Ivy starry eyes. ‘What was Zane thinking when he dumped her?’ They sat down.

 

“Barkeep, another boba!” A thug sitting a couple stools down from them said.

 

“Ugh, yes sir!” Came a familiar exasperated voice. “Coming up right away. Please don’t break anything.”

 

“Dareth?” Cole asked. “What are you doing here?”

 

Dareth looked up just as he was passing Dangerbuff and Ivy. His eyes lit up and he ran over.

 

“Cole!” He said. “You came to visit me!” Dareth glanced next to him. “And who’s the lucky lady with you tonight?”

 

Cole blushed. “S-she’s just a friend…”

 

Ivy must’ve known what was up, because she narrowed her eyes before slapping Dangerbuff in the face.

 

“Focus.” She hissed. Cole cried out and rubbed his face.

 

“Okay, okay!” Dangerbuff said. “Jeez, where did you learn to hit?”

 

“My ex taught me how.” She hissed with malevolence.

 

Dangerbuff chuckled nervously when he saw the fire in her eyes. “I’m in danger…”

 

“Anyways, you guys got to help me. I bought this place a while ago, but now the SOG moved in and made my place their dive. I can’t get them to leave!”

 

“We can’t,” Ivy explained. “We need to keep our cover so we can get in.”

 

Dareth was about to ask what that meant, but the sound of the door opening made the three turn around. In walked Ultra Violet and Mr. E.

 

“Two high ranking members of the SOG just entered,” Ivy whispered. “One’s called Ultra Violet, the other is the mysterious man with swords.”

 

“That’s our cue,” Dangerbuff said.

 

“Wait, you’re going after Ultra Violet and Mr. E?”

 

“Yes,” Ivy said. “We need to get close to them and keep our cover.”

 

“Well, be careful,” Dareth said. “Mr. E doesn’t talk and the chick is off her rocker. Here, Ivy, this might help.” The bartender placed a shot glass on the counter and filled it up. “Vodka ought to knock off the edge.”

 

Ivy grabbed the shot glass and downed it, not even making a face as she swallowed the fiery liquid. More of the SOG members stopped to stare. It wasn’t often they got to see a hot woman knocking back liquor.

 

Dangerbuff stared, a dopey grin on his face. ‘Hot damn…’

 

Ivy wiped her mouth, handing the shot glass back to Dareth. “Thanks.” She said. “I needed that.”

 

The two got up. “Okay, Pix, fire up those processors. How are we gonna do this?”

 

“I’ve already run countless simulations, and of the 14 million ways this could go, there’s one that will work. But it’s complicated...and dangerous.”

“Well, it's a good thing my name is Dangerbuff. Lay it on me.”

 

“You have to sing,”

 

The color on Cole’s face drained. “What?! I can’t sing!”

 

“You’re the son of a royal blacksmith. You went to the Marty Oppenheimer School of Performing Arts. You have to trust me.”

 

Before Dangerbuff could protest, Ivy shoved him to the stage. Steeling himself, Cole walked up to the stage and grabbed the mic.

 

“Ahem,” Cole said, clearing his throat. “I’m Rocky Dangerbuff, and here’s something mean to sing!”

 

Dangerbuff tossed a coin to Ivy. “Number 159, pronto!”

 

Ivy put in the coin and pressed a few buttons. The intro to a song began, but it wasn’t the one he wanted.

 

“What? No no no! I wanted 159: Creeping Death!”

 

From across the room, Ivy shrugged apologetically.

 

Cole sighed and got ready to sing, but froze when he heard the clarinet at the beginning.

 

‘Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gaaal…”

 

Cole felt tears well up in his eyes but tried unsuccessfully to fight them. It was the song Zane sang when he first turned on his funny switch. But now Zane was gone, and there was no guarantee that he would be back.

 

Some of the thugs were getting annoyed.

 

“Well?!” One of them shouted. He grabbed an empty beer bottle. “Are you gonna stand there or sing?!”

 

Cole jumped out of the way to avoid the shattering glass, but slipped on a puddle of whiskey and fell to the floor. His hat and mustache fell off.

 

“Hey! It’s one of those ninja!” A thug said.

 

Ultra Violet, who had been sipping on a tonic and gin, stood up fast.

 

“Get him!” She screamed. Cole panicked as the SOG began to rush him.

 

“Where are you Pixal?!” He cried. “Help me!”

 

“Find this ‘Pixal’ and grab her too!” Ivy said, joining in.

 

 

Meanwhile, the ninja were watching everything unfold on a screen in the Bounty’s Op room.

 

“Why isn’t Pixal helping him?” Jay asked as they watched Cole get manhandled by the SOG.

 

Nya ran over to the keyboard and pressed a few buttons.

 

“Pixal! Come in Pixal!” She said. “Pixal?!”

 

“Anything?” Kai asked. Nya shook her head in frustration.

 

“No, she still has all communication blocked!” She slammed her fists on the keyboard. “This is our only lead. We’ll never get a second chance!”

 

“Pixal wanted us to trust her,” Lloyd said

 

“Pixal’s letting this happen!” Jay cried.

 

“I’m not waiting for the coach to put me in,” Kai said, pulling on his hood. “I’m going.”

 

The others pulled on their hoods.

 

“Wait,” Nya said. “Who’s going to watch over Harumi?”

 

“I can handle myself.” The princess said with a smile.

 

“Are you sure?” Lloyd asked. “One of us can stay if you don’t feel safe.”

 

“Thank you, but I’ll be okay.” She insisted. Lloyd hesitated.

 

“Okay,” He said finally. “But if something comes up, you can radio us from here. We won’t be gone long.”

 

Harumi bade them farewell as they left. As soon as they vanished from sight, Harumi turned and pressed an earpiece hidden by her hair.

 

“It’s all clear Killow.” Harumi said. “Send someone for the Mask of Deception, and make it fast.”

 

‘It’d be best if it’s Zane.’ She thought to herself. ‘I haven’t seen him in a while…’

 

“Roger that, Quiet One.” Said another voice on the other end. “I’ll send them godspeed.”

 

 

“Windigo, that bike ready yet?” asked Killow

 

“Yes,” said Windigo

 

“The Quiet One needs the Mask of Deception to be picked up, and hurry,” said Killow

 

Windigo mounted his bike and donned a skull shaped mask and purple sunglasses before speeding out of the garage.

 

 

“Get the bosses out of here!” Yelled an SOG member as the ninja busted through the doors. “The ninja’s got backup!”

 

“We need to split!” Ultra Violet said to Mr. E. Together they both dove past the ninja. They ran outside to their bikes. Ultra Violet sped off, but before Mr. E could escape, a giant bolt of electricity arced through his bike, shutting it down. He wheeled around to see Jay in a battle stance.

 

Mr. E drew his swords, but before either of them could start fighting Ivy came and sent Jay flying back with a kick. She grabbed Mr. E and ran with him to his bike. She jumped on the back as Mr. E jammed the ignition and slammed on the throttle, ripping a wheelie as they sped away.

 

“Don’t let them get away!” Kai cried as he and the others began to give chase.

 

“Wait!” Lloyd said as he stopped them. “That was Pixal’s plan all along. She just gained their trust…”

 

 

Harumi paced anxiously on the deck of the Bounty, watching the clouds scuttle over the moon and stars. A cold sea breeze blew, making Harumi pull her cloak tighter around her. She looked up at the sky.

 

“Come on…” She said. “They’ll be back any time now…”

 

Suddenly she was aware of the faint sound of an approaching motorcycle. Through the fog, she could see a pair of purple headlights.

 

Harumi furrowed her brow. Purple headlights? No one in the SOG had purple headlights.

 

Unless…

 

As the bike came closer, Harumi could see the driver’s familiar silver shine in the moonlight.

 

They lowered their glasses to reveal a pair of icy blue eyes. “Boss ordered me to pick up a mask?” He asked, a grin on his face.

 

Harumi chuckled and couldn’t hide her blush. “Yes.” She said sweetly.

 

Harumi pulled back her cloak and pulled out the Mask of Deception from the folds of her robes. She handed the mask to Zane.

 

“And here’s your reward.” She whispered in his ear. She pulled his skull mask off partially and pecked Zane on the cheek.

 

Zane smirked and placed the mask in the saddlebag of his seat. Harumi glanced at his bike, running her hand over it’s paint.

 

“Did you do this all yourself?” She asked. Zane shook his head.

 

“No, Echo and I worked on it together.” He told her. “How does it look?”

 

Zane’s bike was mostly black, but the front fender was the skull of an animal, and where its eyes were the headlights. Antlers fabricated from sheet metal formed the handlebars.

 

Harumi smiled again. “I love it. It fits you well.” She looked up at the sky.

 

“I hate to say this, but you should go. I don’t want you to be seen.”

 

Zane sighed. “Very well. As you wish, my queen. But before we further things, I’d like to take you out in a more formal setting.”

 

Harumi’s smile widened. “It’s a date.”

Chapter Text

Pixal hated motorcycles, she much preferred four-wheeled vehicles. They were easier for her to find her center of balance and had a less of a risk of turning over in sharp turns. Not to mention four-wheelers were what she was more familiar with. And also not to mention again she was using Ultra Violet’s bike, which was giving her a death glare.

 

The psycho biker stepped out in front of the others on their vehicles, bandana in hand. “Bikers ready?”

 

Killow turned to Ivy. “Do you know the rules when you ride with us?”

 

“I’m guessing there are no rules,” Ivy said, checking the bike to make sure everything was in order.

 

Killow huffed, looking annoyed. “That was no fun…” He grumbled.

 

“Alright, ride or die!” Ultra Violet said, dropping the bandana. As soon as the cloth hit the ground all the bikers taking part in the initiation race took off in a roar of engines. Ultra Violet watched them go. She huffed in annoyance.

 

“They always get to have all the fun…” She growled to herself. Suddenly her earpiece rang.

 

“Grrr! What do you want?! Oh. No, I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was you. She is? Okay, I’ll tell Killow right away.”

 

Ultra Violet turned and pressed a different on her earpiece. “Killow!”

 

A voice came in on the other line, the roar of engines in the background. “What is it UV?”

 

“It’s that new chick?”

 

“Yeah, what about her?”

 

“She’s with the ninja. She’s a spy!”

 

“A spy?!” Killow said. He turned to a biker next to him. “Make sure Ivy doesn’t finish the race!”

 

The SOG biker nodded and sped ahead. Killow jammed the throttle on his bike also, but just enough to get ahead of Ivy and cut her off. They drove through a train station, sending people running.

 

Ivy growled and gripped the handlebars harder. She shifted gears and put on a burst of speed, catching up. She passed two members, when suddenly her cloaking device briefly glitched, showing her true form.

 

“I see you, ninja.” One of the bikers behind Ivy said. He grabbed a knife and sped by, puncturing her fuel tank and made it start to leak. A member behind them lit the spilt gas on fire and created a fuel trail. Ivy cussed as she saw the flame get closer to her. She looked ahead and cussed again as she saw a train approaching that blocked their way.

 

A few of the SOG members and Ivy screeched to a halt. She used the opportunity to kick one of the thugs off their bike and speed off with the rest. Now they were racing through the streets of Ninjago City. Ivy shifted gears again and zoomed past several bikers before approaching behind Killow, where she saw the Mask of Vengeance.

 

“Nya, can you read me?”

 

“Loud and clear, Pix!” Nya’s voice said on the other end of her earpiece. “What’s going on?”

 

“Look, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to last, my cover’s been blown.” She said. “But I have my sights set on the Mask of Vengeance, and the person in charge is called “The Quiet One.”

 

“That’s great, Pix!” Nya said. “Just hang in there! Where’s Cole?”

 

 

Speaking of the earth ninja, he was in a cell underneath the SOG base. He had tried to escape his prison using his Earth Punch, only to find out the bars were made of vengestone. He had now resorted to using a nail to pick the lock on his door. He huffed in frustration as the nail bent.

 

“Grrrr! Okay, think, Cole, think!” He said to himself, pacing around his cell. “You’re running your mouth! And having a conversation with yourself! How annoying is that?”

 

“Hey, Dangerbuff!” The guard barked. “Shut up in there!”

 

Suddenly Cole had an idea. “Hmmm…” What would be the most annoying song he could use to make the guard angry?

 

Cole thought for a moment more. Then he smiled. “I got it!” He whispered as he ran up to the bars. Then he started to sing.

 

“This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends,” Cole began singing way off-key. “Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…”

 

“Hey!” The guard said again, walking over. “Cut that out!”

 

But Cole didn’t stop. He kept singing.

 

“This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends! Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing just because!”

 

“Grrr! I can't believe Windigo put us up to this! YOU THERE!” The man yelled, marching up to the bars. “I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO-”

 

He didn’t have a chance to finish. Before he could say anything else, Cole grabbed the man by the shirt and slammed his face into the bars, knocking him out. Cole snatched the keys from the guard before unlocking his door.

 

Earlier while in his cell, he had seen two SOG members pass by with a box, saying it held the key to the third Oni mask. He ran down the hall and approached the door where he had seen them take the box. He found the key to the door and unlocked it. He pushed the door open before stepping inside. In the center of the room lay the box with a cover over it.

 

“Hm.” Cole said to himself. As he pulled back the cover, he heard cooing and giggling.

 

Cole peered inside the box and gasped. “A baby?! What are you doing here?!

 

The baby smiled and laughed at the sight of cole, wiggling in it’s swaddled blanket.

 

Cole was baffled. “That’s no key!”

 

Suddenly he heard voices coming down the hall.

 

“Sorry, baby, but I’m looking for a key. I gotta go.” He began to slip out the door. “You understand.”

 

Just as the door was about to close, the baby began wailing. Fearing whoever was coming would come to investigate, he dashed back into the room.

 

“Hey, hey hey!” He whispered. “It’s okay! I’m here!”

 

Upon seeing Cole’s face again the baby stopped crying and smiled. It melted Cole’s heart. He couldn’t leave this defenseless infant down here in an empty room with a bunch of thugs.

 

“Oh, alright,” Cole said. He scooped the baby into his arms. “But for the record, I’m no longer talking to myself, I’m talking to you.”

 

Suddenly there was a laugh behind them. Cole whirled around to see Ultra Violet standing there, spinning a knife between her fingers while wearing a smile.

 

“You didn’t think it would be that easy, didn’t you?”

 

Cole clutched the baby closer to his chest. The baby started crying and Cole did his best to soothe him.

 

“Sweet, isn’t he?” Ultra Violet asked as she stepped closer.

 

“He?” Cole asked. “If you’re after the third mask, why are you holding a child?”

 

Ultra Violet’s smile got wider. “You really have no clue, do you?”

 

Then without warning, the crazy woman lunged at Cole. He jumped to the side to avoid her knife. They fought, Ultra managing to snatch the baby from his arms. He cried as she held him.

 

“You wouldn’t dare hurt an innocent child!” Cole told her. Ultra laughed.

 

“Lord Garmadon will not be stopped!” She said.

 

“Lloyd saved his father, and Garmadon sacrificed himself for Ninjago! He wasn’t a bad man!”

 

“Well, this one will be!” She said. She kicked Cole through the doorway. “Lord Garmadon will destroy you all-”

 

WHAM!

 

Ultra was suddenly out cold when the door hit her in the face. The baby laughed as Cole picked him up.

 

“No more bad guys for you!” He told him. “Come on, little buddy, let’s get you somewhere safe.”

 

 

“Gah! I hate two-wheelers!” Pixal hissed as she swerved too hard and almost flipped her bike. She was on Killow’s tail, swerving to avoid cars as they raced through a crowded highway. Despite Killow’s efforts to shake her off, Pixal didn’t let up. Soon, they were outside the city, and the only members that were able to keep up were Killow and Mr. E.

 

“You’re the one who brought her here!” Killow yelled at Mr. E. “You better fix this!”

 

Killow slammed the throttle and sped off, leaving only Mr. E and Pixal.

 

“You’re the Quiet One, aren’t you?” Pixal asked him over the roar of their engines. “You’re the one in charge!”

 

Mr. E leaned over and grabbed the handlebar of Pixal’s bike. She tried prying it off but he was too strong.

 

“Who are you?!”

 

Pixal looked ahead and saw an oncoming cliff. Both she and Mr. E jumped off their bikes right before the two motorcycles went sailing off the edge.

 

Pixal hit the ground and skidded across the sand. She groaned and got up. Mr. E lay a distance away. She saw him get up and saw that his arm was missing, and watched in awe as he picked it up and popped it back into place.

 

He was a nindroid, like her.

 

Pixel brushed herself off and got into a fighting stance. Mr.E turned to face her.

 

“Are you the Quiet One?” She asked him. The other nindroid was silent, just standing there and giving her a blank stare.

 

“I said, are you the Quiet One?!” She repeated harshly. Mr. E popped his neck before he lunged at her and they started fighting.

 

Mr. E threw a right hook. Pixal dodged and landed a blow on his back. He fell back but jumped up and threw another punch and caught her in the side. Pixal staggered and gasped as she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. Looking down she saw that Mr. E’s punch had damaged her exoskeleton and a few wires were exposed and sparking. She heard a noise and looked up just in time to see Mr. E’s foot before it collided with her face. She went flying back in the sand and struggled to her feet.

 

Mr. E was already poised for another attack, but this time Pixal was ready.

 

“Who…” She said, swinging a left hook. “Are…” A right hook. “You?!” An uppercut. She kicked Mr. E down and pinned him to the ground. “Who’s in charge?!”

 

Mr. E kicked Pixal off of him and grabbed her by her ankles, swinging her around before sending her flying into the sand. She clutched her side as more wires sparked. Warning systems flashed in her vision as Mr. E’s blow had damaged several of her systems. She saw him approaching and got up to fight, but one more punch to the face from him sent her back on her knees. Her torso screamed in agony. She clutched her side and looked up at Mr. E, who towered over her with that blank stare. One more blow from him and she was certain he would damage her beyond repair.

 

“Please,” She said, catching her breath. “You don’t have to do this…”

 

Mr. E glowered at her silently a moment more before kicking her in the chest, sending her tumbling down the cliff. Pixal had already shut down by the time she had hit the bottom.

 

Mr. E navigated the cliff face and walked over to an unconscious Pixal. He pulled a mechanical device from his pocket and placed it in Pixal’s chest compartment. He pressed a button to his earpiece.

 

“The trap has been set.” He said. Then he walked over and picked up his bike, even though it was badly damaged, and rode off, leaving Pixal laying in the sand.

 

 

“YOU IMBECILES! YOU LET HIM ESCAPE BEFORE I COULD PUNISH HIM AND YOU LOST THE KEY DUE TO YOUR INCOMPETENCE!!” screeched Windigo at the guards who were just waking up.

“So what does a kid have to do with the third mask?”

 

“I don’t know, all I heard was that he was the key.”

 

“But how? It’s not like he can do anything. And why would you bring him? We don’t know how to care for a baby!”

 

“I don’t know! And I couldn’t just leave him there! He can’t fend for himself!”

 

The ninja and Harumi were huddled over a makeshift crib, looking down at the baby who was cooing and laughing.

 

“Have you heard from Pixal at all?” Nya asked Cole. He shook his head. “No, I haven’t seen or heard from her since she left for the initiation race. And that was hours ago.”

 

“Hmmm,” Nya said. “It’s not like her to go this long without a transmission.”

 

“Maybe she’s not in a good position to,” Lloyd said. “Let’s wait a while longer before we try to get ahold of her.”

 

Kai walked out of the room but came running back in a few moments later, his eyes wide with panic.

 

“THE ONI MASK IS GONE!” He yelled. Everyone wheeled to face him.

 

“What?!” Jay cried. “How?! It was there when we left!”

 

The ninja ran around in a panic and turned the entire ship upside down, but the mask had vanished without a trace.

 

“Nya!” Cole said. “Can you pull up security footage?”

 

Nya ran to the keyboard and pressed a few buttons. The window for the security feed came up, but it was nothing more than a black screen. She slammed her fists on the keyboard.

 

“It’s been wiped clean!” She said. “There’s no video!”

 

Kai turned to Harumi. “You were the only one on this ship when it disappeared. What did you do with it?!”

 

“What?” Harumi said, seeming shocked at Kai’s accusation.

 

“She didn’t do anything!” Lloyd said defensively and got in Kai’s face. “Leave her alone!”

 

“Oh yeah, how do you know?”

 

“After everything that happened with her parents and at the palace, you really think she’d do something like that?”

 

Kai opened his mouth but shut it when he realized he didn’t have a comeback. He sighed and stood down.

 

“You’re right. Sorry, Harumi…”

 

“It’s alright. That mask killed my parents. I wouldn’t dare touch one of those.”

 

“Nya, you need to contact Pixal now,” Lloyd said. “Tell her the SOG got the Mask of Deception.”

 

Nya typed into the keyboard. “Pixal, come in. The Mask of Deception went missing and we need to know if you’ve seen it. Pixal? Pixal!”

 

Nya slammed her fists on the keyboard again. “She’s not reading me!” She growled.

 

“You need to take it easy, Nya, you’re gonna break this thing if you came slamming it like that.” Jay said. Nya swung around and gave him a smoldering glare.

 

“Tell me that again and next time it’s gonna be your face instead of this stupid keyboard!” She hissed. Jay swallowed and chuckled nervously.

 

“Can you trace its location?” Cole asked. Nya typed for a few minutes, but nothing came up.

 

“No!” She said. “It’s like it vanished!” She slammed her fists again.

 

“Uh, Nya, can you not slam your hands like that?”

 

Smoke was coming out of Nya’s ears as she looked at him. It was the only warning Cole got before he ran screaming out of the room as Nya chased him around the Bounty with a sword. With all the commotion, the baby had started crying.

 

“Guys. Guys!” Lloyd said, trying to restore order. No one listened to him. He took a deep breath.

 

“GUYS!”

 

Suddenly everyone froze. Even the baby stopped crying and stared wide-eyed at Lloyd.

 

“This is not the time to panic! We need to find out where the Mask of Deception went and find how to get the Mask of hatred before the SOG do. Nya, have you contacted Pixal?”

 

“I tried, but she didn’t come through,” Nya said, sheathing her sword.

 

“Okay, if that’s the case, it’s time to find her. She said her cover was blown so we can go extract her and have her help us figure out our next move.”

 

“I’ve got her location from her communicator. She’s in the middle of the Sea of Sand.”

 

“What?” Jay said. “What is she doing all the way out there?”

 

“I don’t know, but if she was going out there she would have told us.”

 

Nya took the steering wheel in her hands. “I have a bad feeling about this…”

 

Nya’s fears were confirmed as they finally found Pixal laying in the desert, still shut down after hours of spotlighting through the night. They quickly rushed her aboard and hooked her up to a computer to evaluate the damage.

 

“What’s it looking like, sis?” Kai asked, looking at the mess of windows and code running across the screen. “Can Pix be saved?”

 

“I’ve diverted power to all her critical functions. She’ll have to do the rest and reboot herself.”

 

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” asked Harumi. Lloyd shook his head.

 

“No, we have to keep moving. The SOG would do anything to get their hands on the child.”

 

“But how is the baby the answer?” Kai asked. “I don’t get it.”

 

“Neither do I, but they said he was the key to the third mask,” Cole said.

 

“If that’s the case, we’ll need to get out of here, As far from here as we can.”

 

Suddenly the baby started wailing. Cole ran up to the crib but was unsure of what to do.

 

“Uuuuh, come on little fella, please don’t cry!”

 

“Maybe give him some milk?” Lloyd suggested. “He might be hungry.”

 

“I tried but he didn’t want it,” Cole said. “What else do babies drink?”

 

“Don’t ask me, ask him,” Kai said, pointing to the baby.

 

“But he’s only a baby! Babies can’t talk!”

 

“Maybe he needs his diaper changed?” Jay suggested.

 

Cole gasped. “Do we even have diapers?”

 

“Why would we have diapers, Cole, we’re ninja!” Lloyd said.

 

“Maybe we can use someone’s hood?”

 

“You are not using my hood!”

 

“Fine.” Lloyd said. “We’ll draw straws. Loser sacrifices their hood!”

 

“The spider’s in the house. Sleep sleep. The spider bit the mouse. Deep sleep. Don’t wake up or else you’ll find a spider in your mouth.”

 

The ninja turned and saw Harumi gently rocking the cradle and singing to the baby, who had now fallen asleep. The ninja were amazed.

 

“Wow,” Cole said to her. “You’re great with that.” Harumi shook her head.

 

“No, he’s just tired from all the excitement today.” She told him. “He should go to sleep now.” She tugged at the edge of her cloak. “I’m going to step outside. It’s a bit stuffy in here.”

 

Harumi walked out to the deck, and Lloyd followed her. Together they stood in silence and stared at the sky, which was harboring an oncoming storm.

 

“My father said they call this Dead Man’s Squall,” Lloyd told her.

 

Harumi turned to Lloyd and stepped closer. “Do you remember anything about your father before he left you as a child?” She asked him. Lloyd shook his head.

 

“No, I was too young. What about your parents?”

 

“Sometimes in my dreams, they’re right next to me,” Harumi told him. “It’s like they never left. But then I wake up and remember they’re gone…”

 

Lloyd took Harumi’s hand. “You’re not alone, Rumi, just remember that.”

 

“Neither are you. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling with them trying to bring your father back.” Harumi stepped closer. “But no matter what, I’ll be here.”

 

Harumi leaned in to kiss Lloyd, but he backed out.

 

“Uh, sorry, I have to go-uh-that way.” He said before nearly running back inside. Harumi smirked. He was so clueless and naive. At least her actual boyfriend had a good head on his shoulders.

 

 

Echo tossed his helmet aside in the garage as he once again got to work fixing his bike. Windigo came in to bring his brother some coffee and dinner.

 

“ 6675636b6564 your ex,” said Echo.

 

“You what?” asked Zane, almost dropping Echo’s plate.

 

“6675636b6564 her up. I think I almost killed her, but dude, you seriously dumped a hot chick like that? I mean damn if she was on our side, half the guys here would be vying for her attention,” said Echo. Killow came in eating a turkey leg.

 

“I see, I thought you meant something else.” Said Zane. As he set down Echo’s meal next to him and turned, he muttered something under his breath.

 

“Besides, I only get to do that…”

 

“Hey E, heard you beat the crap out of that Ivy/Pixal chick,” said Killow.

 

“More like be the crap out of my brother’s ex-girlfriend,” said Echo. Killow and all the other guys in the garage turned to stare at Zane.

 

“Dude, you dated that hottie?” said Luke Cuningham.

 

“She sided with the ninja so I dumped her, I have a date this weekend anyway,” said Zane casually.

 

“With who?” asked Echo.

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” smirked Zane.

 

“Well if that hottie switches sides I call dibs,” said Killow.

 

“Nope, she's a nindroid like us, I get dibs,” said Echo smugly.

 

“She won’t switch sides, she’s too much of a goody-two-shoes for that, and I always knew she secretly had a thing for Lloyd, 6269746368 was in my head for a year and still stared at mister gets-every-damn-thing-he-wants-just because-he’s-the-chosen-one,” griped Zane. “Besides, beauty is only skin-deep.”

 

“Drat, look I gotta fix this thing before the trap I set is triggered,” said Echo.

 

...

 

Cole had just walked into the baby’s room as he started crying. He started to panic as he heard him wail. The little baby had captured his heart and he hated to see him cry.

 

“Hey, don’t make that face!” Cole said as he picked him up. “Don’t make that face! Please!”

 

The baby continued to cry. Cole continued to try and console him by smiling and laughing, but he continued to wail. He tried to sing him Harumi’s lullaby and “Shine Little Glow Worm,” but neither of those helped either.

 

“Drat!” Cole said. “What other song could I sing you?”

 

Well, there was one, but he knew if he tried to sing it he’d burst into tears.

 

He looked down at the little infant in his arms, still crying. It tore at his heart to see him this way.

 

So taking a deep breath, he steeled his nerves and did his best to not let his voice break as he sung to the baby slow and soft:

 

“Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal,

 

Send me a kiss by wire, by wire

 

Baby, my heart’s on fire, on fire

 

If you refuse me, honey, you lose me

 

And you’ll be left alone, oh baby

 

Telephone, and tell me, tell me

 

Tell me I’m your very own, oh…”

 

By the end of the song, the baby had stopped crying, and was smiling and cooing at Cole. He smiled and clutched the baby to his chest as a tear slipped down his cheek.

 

“I miss my buddy, little guy…” Cole told him. “I just want him to come back…”

 

Outside, Jay and Nya were looking at the storm and standing at the deck.

 

“You know, there was an ancient tribe that worshipped a storm spirit called Wohira. They believed Wohira protected them.”

 

“Really?” Jay asked. “Pffffft, that's silly.”

 

Suddenly a bolt of lightning streaked down from the sky and rocked the ship. Jay screamed and jumped in Nya’s arms.

 

“AHHH! Not so silly anymore!” He said, clutching Nya’s arm. She scoffed.

 

“Get off of me, you big baby!” She snapped, dropping Jay. She left him on the deck and went back to check on Pixal. Walking in, she could still see she wasn’t looking so good, but definitely better than before. Nya walked over to the computer and was typing and clicking when something caught her eye.

 

“Hey, I need you all in the control room!” she called. The ninja dropped what they were doing and met her at the large screen with the giant keyboard that was glitching due to two large fist prints on either side.

 

“While looking over the progress of Pixal’s repairs, I came across this recording.”

 

She pulled up an image and pressed a button. It was Mr. E placing something in Pixal’s chest panel before saying “Tes neeb sah part eht.”

 

“Okay, it’s gibberish, what’s so important about it?” Jay asked.

 

“Watch.” She said as she tapped another button. This time the recording said a more clear sentence. “The trap has been set.”

 

“Trap?” Cole asked. “What trap?”

 

No sooner had Cole finished his sentence, the screen, and the lights on the Bounty all went dark.

Chapter Text

Zane had followed Echo to Dead Man’s Squall.

 

“It is best if you do not reveal yourself yet brother, go to Primeval’s Eye and wait for The Quiet One, I scanned the map when the child was first found,” said Echo before creating a hologram of the map. Zane looked at it and used his own scanner to copy the map into his memory banks.

 

“I will head to the temple and wait for her there, I haven’t had the chance to use my dragon in a while,” said Zane.

 

He summoned his dragon which had changed from its original form to be jet black with jagged blue spines and horns, silver armor wrapping its body and head, and glowing white eyes with violet pupils. Its teeth were jagged and dripping with a purple venom that burned the ground like acid, its wings seemed to be made of thick black smoke. Its claws were like black swords that could slice a tree in half quicker than the sharpest ax. Echo stared in awe for a moment at the sight of Zane on such a formidable-looking beast that growled with an unearthly echo, like rattling bones and the whispers of the damned (Think of the roar of Dry Bowser and the rattle of Dry Bones from Mario, but combined into a single sound coupled with ghostly whooshes). Its breath was not of normal ice, it was literally frozen venom in pale blue crystals etched with veins of purple, the sun’s light glowed black upon hitting the ice, indicating that the venom and corruption had swallowed all the other colors and the only shadow remained. The Dragon was not only a manifestation of power but Zane’s hatred of the ninja. This constant flow of pure hate allowed the dragon he manifested, to stay in existence even after he dismounted. The angrier and colder he became, the more powerful his dragon became.

 

He took off through the air, the ninja only caught the shadowy glimpse of the evil figure as lightning illuminated the sky.

 

“Um, guys? What was that?” asked Jay after he saw the shadow streak past. The echoing roar of the dragon drowned out the thunder and caused all the ninja to shiver with fear. Then out of nowhere the possessed armor of the Samurai X suit attacked, only Harumi knew that it was Echo, but she did wonder what that dragon shadow had been.

 

 

Zane landed near the river that led to the temple and sat waiting for Harumi’s arrival, no doubt she’d be with Lloyd considering only someone with Oni blood could retrieve the Mask of Hatred. He sat on his dragon, gently scratching its ears.

“I think I will call you Yuki-Onna,” he smiled maliciously. He made a canopy of ice to shield him from the rain, no doubt it would take a while for Rumi to come here.

 

 

Suddenly the ninja and Harumi were knocked off their feet as there was an explosion and something shook the Bounty.

 

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” Jay shrieked.

 

Nya jumped to her feet and ran to the deck, the other ninja hot on her heels. Rain drove down in sheets, thunder shook the air. One side of the ship was engulfed in flame- the Bounty’s thruster had taken a blow.

 

“The thruster!” Kai said.

 

“The mech is gonna go for the second one! If it gets hit-”

 

“We’re falling out of the sky and it’s game over!” Lloyd said over the raging storm. “Nya, find what caused the Bounty to lose power and get all systems back online! Jay, that lightning might strike us, hold it back! The rest of us have to get ready to fight!”

 

Cole gasped and ran inside, putting the baby in its cradle. “Don’t worry little buddy, I’ll be right back!”

Suddenly the baby’s blanket came loose, and something caught his eye. Pulling a corner, he found that the baby was wrapped in a map. The map to the Oni mask!He grabbed it before running back out to the deck.

“I found the map-” Cole began.

 

“We have bigger problems right now!” Nya said as she ran past him to the keyboard, trying to get the Bounty power back. Cole huffed and gave the map to Lloyd.

 

“This is no normal blackout…” Nya said to herself. “The backup generators would have kicked in by now!” She tried typing a few things but was unsuccessful.

 

“Grrr!” Nya said, slamming her fists on the keyboard. “What’s causing this?”

 

Suddenly a small spider-like machine jumped on the keyboard. She screamed and slapped it away from her. It jumped back off the wall and landed on her face.

 

“GET OFF OF ME!” Nya shrieked. She tried frantically to free herself from it as it scuttled around her head when suddenly a katana flashed through the air and before Nya knew it the robotic spider lay severed in half.

 

Nya turned around and saw Pixal standing there, katana in hand, a confused look on her face. “What in Ninjago is going on?”

 

“Pixal!” Nya said. “You kinda missed a lot…”

 

Suddenly the Bounty rocked again, sending Pixal and Nya off their feet. Hearing shouts from outside, the two rushed outside just as the Bounty’s power came back on.

 

The Samurai X mech stood on the deck. It swung its mechanical arm at the ninja, who all dove out of the way. Lloyd drew his spare katana and tossed it to Harumi.

 

“Here! Take this!” He shouted. Harumi caught it.

 

“But I can’t fight!” Harumi shouted over the storm.

 

“Do you want to live?”

 

The mech swiped at them again, this time catching Harumi in its grasp. She screamed.

 

“Lloyd!” She cried as the mech jumped off the Bounty’s edge.

 

“Harumi!” he cried. He jumped off the edge after her.

 

“He did not just-” Jay began.

 

“He just did…” Kai finished.

 

“Pixal!” Nya said. “Can you stop this thing?!”

 

Pixal shook her head. “I tried, but someone else is at the controls.”

 

“Lloyd!” Harumi cried, struggling to free herself from the mech’s grasp. “We’re gonna- we’re gonna-”

 

“Hey, look at me!” Lloyd said, taking hold of Harumi’s face. “We’re gonna get out of this, you understand?”

 

Wrapping his hands around the metal, he pulled Harumi free of the mech’s grasp and hauled her up.

 

“Get in!” He told her. “The suit will break our fall!”

 

Just as he was about to help her into the cockpit of the mech, a large shadow streaked by them. From under Harumi a dark substance rapidly appeared, sending her sliding off the mech safely to the jungle below. Unbeknownst to the others, Zane had just created a slide of black ice for Harumi to escape the fall.

 

“Harumi!” Lloyd called. “HARUMI!”

 

Seeing he was about to hit the ground, he strapped himself into the mech seconds before it crashed into the trees.

 

A fork of lightning flashed through the air, striking the second thruster to the Bounty. The ninja felt their hearts rise into their throats as the Bounty suddenly began to plummet.

 

“WE’RE GONNA CRASH!” Jay shrieked. “WHAT DO WE DO?!”

 

“Maybe if we create enough drag with the sails we can achieve a controlled crash!” Pixal suggested.

 

“What sails?!” Kai cried. He pointed to the mast, where the sails were tattered and flapping in the wind.

 

“Maybe the rain?!” Jay suggested.

 

“It’s worth a try!” Nya said. She used her water powers to manipulate the rain to slow their fall. But they were still falling fast.

 

“Brace for impact!” Kai cried. The other steeled themselves, and Cole ran inside to protect the baby.

 

The ground was nothing more than a blur as the Bounty approached. Breaking trees sounded like explosions. Dirt, rocks, and splinters flew through the air. The walls peeled off around them as the Bounty’s hull was stripped of its wood.

 

She came to a halt with a jerk.

 

Jay stood up. “Is everyone okay?”

 

A chorus of groans and affirmatives showed him no one was hurt. Inside, Cole lifted the baby from his chest.

 

“You okay little buddy?” He asked. The baby cooed and laughed.

 

Kai got up and brushed himself off. “Wait. Where’s Lloyd and Harumi?

 

 

“Hold still.”

 

Harumi took hold of Lloyd’s arm before cautiously folding the map into a triangle and using it to sling Lloyd’s arm.

 

“Ow,” Lloyd said, wincing as Harumi tied a knot.

 

“There.” She said. “That should hold.”

 

“Thank you,” Lloyd said, giving her a smile. He looked at the thick, dark jungle around him. “Seems like we’re on our own…”

 

Suddenly a snapping branch made them whip around. They turned just in time to see a giant green lizard-like creature prowling from the trees. It turned to them and growled, green slime dripping from its jaws.

 

Lloyd shoved Harumi. “We have to go!”

 

The two leaped to their feet and ran just as the monster pursued them. They jumped over, dodged, and dove under trees to avoid the beast's fangs and claws.

 

Suddenly Harumi tripped. Lloyd fell over her and together they fell into a hole in the ground. The monster sniffed and clawed for a time, but eventually gave up and walked away.

 

Lloyd released a breath he didn’t know he had been holding.

“Are you okay?” Harumi asked. Lloyd nodded.

 

“Yeah, just give me a second.”

 

“How’s the arm holding up?”

 

“Holding up well.”

 

Together they climbed out of the hole. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?”

 

“If this map is right, there’s a river that leads right through Primeval’s Eye and to the front door of the temple.”

 

“I don’t know Lloyd. Don’t you think we should turn back and find the others? And your arm is pretty bad...”

 

“We can’t take any chances. I’ll be fine and if the SOG gets there first they’ll have all three. We need to keep moving.”

 

Meanwhile, the others had been trying to fix the Bounty without much success. The thrusters were shot, the comlinks weren’t functional, and Nya had gone awol to find the mech.

 

The ninja were tweaking with the thrusters as Nya came back in a very scratched but otherwise undamaged mech. She jumped out of the cockpit.

 

“Look what I found,” Nya said to Pixal. She smiled. “Thank you.”

 

“I also found this.” Nya held up a note. “It’s from Lloyd and Rumi. They said they’ve gone to find the Oni Temple.”

 

Kai breathed a sigh of relief. “They’re okay.”

 

“Hey, can someone hand me, pliers?” Jay asked, holding out a hand. A second later the tool was in his hand.

 

“Hey, thanks-” Jay turned around, only to see the baby standing up, walking.

 

“Hey, uh, the baby is walking!” Jay yelled, the other rushing over to see.

 

“Uh, I don’t know much about babies, but they aren’t supposed to walk, are they?” Cole asked.

 

“No,” Kai said. “And they don’t know what pliers are.” He watched the baby drink a cup of tea.

 

“And they don’t do that…”

 

“I’ve really seen it all!” Jay cried. He threw down the pliers. “I quit!”

 

The baby giggled. “Ninja never quit.”

 

The ninja gasped.

 

“That’s no ordinary baby…” Nya began.

 

“It’s Master Wu!” Cole finished.

 

A few miles away on the top of a mountain were Killow, Echo, and Ultra on their bikes, Windigo on his dragon, and a handful of lower thugs. They had a bird’s eye view of the forest below. Some distance away was the smoke rising from the Bounty, and off in the trees was the shimmering light of the river.

 

Killow smiled. “Fine work, Echo. The Bounty’s down, just like the Quiet One planned.”

 

Echo shrugged. “It was almost too easy.”

 

“By the way,” Ultra asked. “What was that shadow we saw in the sky earlier?”

 

Echo pointed to Zane’s dragon. “That.”

 

The dragon swiped its claws and growled.

 

Ultra nodded, a wide smile creeping across her face. “This is gonna be fun.”

 

“Uh, but…” said one of the thugs. The others turned to look at him.

 

“But what?” Killow asked, narrowing his eyes. “What’s the matter Skip, getting cold feet?”

 

“What about the others who went? Don’t you remember the sea monster?”

 

Killow rolled his eyes. “Oh please.”

 

“I’ll take care of that,” Windigo said.

 

“We’ll take care of the ninja,” Killow said. “Windigo, go watch our leader.”

 

Windigo nodded and his dragon spread his wings and leaped off the cliff and sailed through the air in a billow of smoke.

 

“I mean, yes, I am her boyfriend after all…” He muttered to himself.

 

Zane kept Yuki-Onna flying close over the treetops to avoid being seen. Soon they reached the river that would lead to the Oni Temple. But he wasn’t going to retrieve the mask. He couldn’t. Only someone with Oni blood could do that. And that someone was Lloyd. But Zane could still make it easier for him and Harumi to get to the mask.

 

Zane got off Yuki and patted her neck. “You can go find yourself a feast, there’s a giant lobster in this river that would make an excellent meal for you, you do that while I make things easier for Rumi.”

 

Yuki growled before flying off. Zane watched her go before kneeling at the river’s edge. He outstretched his hand and from under his palm black and purple ice shot across the surface of the water, freezing the river. Then he retreated into the undergrowth and made his way to the temple, laying in wait for Lloyd and Harumi.

 

 

“I don’t get it,” Lloyd said, pressing his hand to the solid surface. “What is this?”

 

Harumi and Lloyd had been trekking through the jungle for quite some time now and had finally come to the river. But instead of water, it was covered with a freezing cold black and purple substance, the same substance that had caught Harumi while she was falling through the sky.

 

Harumi touched it, pretending to be just as baffled as he was, but she had to turn to hide a smile. This was Zane’s doing, and she knew it. He was making it easy for them, well her.

 

“I don’t know, but we should keep moving,” Harumi said. “Whatever this is, it’ll make it easier to reach the temple.”

 

Lloyd nodded and the two continued on their way, walking across the slippery surface that seemed to whisper menacingly to Lloyd with each step. They didn’t have to go far.

 

Harumi was looking up into the trees when Lloyd grabbed her shoulder.

 

“Look Harumi.” He told her, pointing across the riverbank. “We made it.”

 

Harumi turned to look. Sure enough, through the thick trees and underbrush sat what they’ve come for: the Oni Temple.

Zane watched from the side of the temple as Lloyd and Harumi entered before slipping through the undergrowth and into a back entrance that had revealed itself to him. He walked through the passage, hearing Lloyd and Harumi’s own conversation echoing through the caverns of stone.

He ran his hand along the crude paintings on the walls as he walked when suddenly his hand pressed a part of the wall that moved. The inscription near the stone was in an ancient language that Zane could barely read.

Betrayed by those once seen as equal
Now with vengeance and hatred has deceived all
A rule under a cold iron fist
Behold, the tyranny of winter

On the side of the hallway, a door opened.

“Zane” whispered the shadows spilling out of the now revealed chamber. It was like a siren song to him and he followed it into the darkness.

He felt the shadows wrap around him in a cold embrace and before his eyes, suspended by black flames was a mask.

It was shaped like the skull of an elk but it was ice blue and had jet black antlers. There were white patterns all over the mask.

He walked forward, the mask itself seemed to be whispering his name. He reached towards it and felt the flames lick his hands and coil around his arm like tendrils of smoke as if judging his worthiness. They engulfed him for a moment before retreating and pushing the mask into his hand.

“I am Tyranny, use me,” said the Mask. Windigo’s eyes glowed and flickered from blue to red then to purple as he turned the mask around and placed it on his face.

He felt power surge through him and he grew to twice his original size, his body twisting and morphing into a giant skeletonized creature. Bones made of solid ice and dripping with purple blood.

 

He felt pure hatred flow through him, a thirst for vengeance in his throat, and his tongue became made of silver in order to deceive. He looked at his new claws, bony and sharp.

 

Windigo made his way to the central chamber and saw that Lloyd had grabbed the mask of Hatred but was also fighting Harumi because he had figured out who she was. Harumi gasped when she saw the creature in front of them.

 

“AHAHAHAHA! Foolish little ninja, step away from my beloved,” cackled Windigo in an empty echoing and soul-piercing laugh that made both humans shiver slightly.

 

Harumi gasped, there was a fourth mask? And Zane had found it? She stared at the creature in front of her.

 

“Give me the mask Lloyd,” said Rumi, her face had taken on a sinister expression.

 

“Never!” said Lloyd, Harumi backed towards Windigo who lightly set a bony claw on her shoulder.

 

“Well if it isn’t the green ninja being noble, I suppose being the chosen one makes you think you get to choose who to save? News flash little one, creation may have chosen you but the darkness has chosen me,” taunted Windigo.

 

“Who are you?” asked Lloyd, his voice trembling.

 

“I am the one who feeds on your kind, I am the demon of the frozen north, I was once like you, now I hunt you, I AM WINDIGO!”

 

Harumi smiled and in Lloyd’s distraction, she grabbed the Mask of Hatred and put it on.

 

Lloyd was shocked at the voice of the creature, it was somehow familiar but so twisted and sinister he couldn’t place it. And that laugh, it made Lloyd tremble with fear.

 

Windigo poised to lunge at Lloyd, but Harumi, still wearing the mask of Hatred, put up a hand to stop him.

 

“Easy, my love. Allow me to take this fight.”

 

Windigo growled but obeyed, stepping back as Harumi drew a knife and tossed it to Lloyd.

 

“This won’t be a fair fight.” She said. Lloyd looked at the two in awe.

 

“W-what did the mask do to you?” He asked, his voice trembling at the sight of the person he loved and the skeleton creature.

 

“A taste of invincibility.” She said, her voice deeper, twisted by the effects of the mask. She lunged at Lloyd. She grabbed him by the front of his gi and threw him against the wall, making him fall and land on the pedestal that the mask once sat. He got up to his feet, grunting.

 

“Hurt me all you want!” Lloyd told her. “But I’m not letting you get away with this.”

 

Harumi cackled. “Physical pain only hurts so much, but I intend far worse. It’s what you deserve, after all.”

 

Lloyd got into a battle stance with his knife. “What do you mean?”

 

Harumi laughed and began pacing around Lloyd slowly. “Don’t think I don’t know what’s been happening. You treated your own like nothing more than a worthless tool! You caused them so much pain and suffering, made them feel empty, and ignored them when they begged and pleaded for help! A soul filled with nothing but kindness and empathy, now twisted with hate and a savage thirst for revenge, all because they were unjustly denied the love and respect they rightfully deserved!”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Lloyd shouted. “What are you saying?”

 

Harumi shook her head. “Oh, Lloyd, I knew you were naive, but I never realized you were this blind. Do you really not understand?”

 

The green ninja’s baffled look on his face answered Harumi’s question.

 

“It’s for you to find the answer to that question, but I’m afraid now it's too late to fix the damage you’ve done. You’ve had your chances before, but now you must face the consequences.”

 

“What do you want from me?!” Lloyd demanded.

 

“We want you to feel that same emptiness we felt!” Harumi screamed, referring to Windigo and herself. “When your father comes back to life, he won’t be the man you recognize! His soul will be gone and I want his cold hands TO DESTROY YOU!”

 

“You’re a monster!” Lloyd said, standing his ground. “I’ll never feel what you feel!”

 

“We’ll see about that,” Harumi growled. She turned and began to walk out of the temple.

 

Lloyd jumped at Harumi in an attempt to get the mask back, but the next thing he knew he was slamming into the ground, and icy cold grip wrapped around his arm. There was a searing pain as razor-sharp claws sliced into Lloyd’s skin.

 

Vision swimming from the collision and his body racked with pain, he could only watch as Windigo and Harumi exited the temple with the third mask.

 

 

A hollow echoing laugh of victory resounded through the forest, making everyone shiver with fear.

“There they are!”

 

Ultra, Echo, and the other SOG members turned at the sound of Killow’s voice. Sure enough, Harumi and Windigo emerged from the trees, with Harumi triumphantly holding up the Mask of Hatred and Windigo still wearing the Mask of Tyranny. The SOG had fought the ninja for control of the Bounty and now had them chained in vengestone on the deck with the Bounty anchored at the outside of the temple.

 

“The Quiet One has the mask!” Killow said. “We have all three!”

 

As the SOG cheered, Harumi and Windigo leaped up to the Bounty’s deck, gasping as they saw the twisted creature that was once a nindroid.

 

“W-what is that?” Ultra asked, in awe of the beast.

 

“Windigo,” Harumi said, a sinister smile spreading across her face. “It seems there was a fourth Oni Mask, and he found it.”

 

“But we only need three for the ceremony?” Killow asked. “I never heard of a fourth mask.”

 

“Neither have I,” Harumi said. “But it suits him well.” She turned to smile at the monster. “Doesn’t it love?”

 

Windigo nodded, a smile creeping across his own face as he savored the feeling of power coursing through his veins. With the mask on, he felt invincible. He felt like he could bring an entire army to their knees and an entire continent under his hand. He walked over to the bound ninja and glared at them before a twisted smile etched itself across his face, their terror gave him strength, these cowards once cast him aside, now he had the power to kill them. The baby, however, seemed unconcerned and laughed as he attached himself to Windigo’s leg. Windigo looked at the child, puzzled as to why the toddler wasn’t afraid.

 

“Miraculous is the bravery of a child,” he said.

 

“Why does that voice sound familiar?” hissed Jay to Kai.

 

“I don’t know, but I don’t like it,” said Cole

 

“SILENCE!” boomed the unearthly voice of Windigo. The ninja shivered in fear and baby Wu got off Windigo’s leg.

 

“Darling I will be flying beside the ship on my dragon, this place holds….memories,” said Windigo to Harumi, the last part said under his breath.

 

“Oh, and here I was thinking we could have a little fun,” cooed Harumi caressing his cheek, her eyes narrowed seductively. Windigo grinned, amidst the cheers and whistles from the other members.

 

“Later my dear, before the ceremony perhaps, you wouldn’t want to be in the bed of a ninja now would you?” said Windigo

 

“True,” said Harumi. She leaned in closer, slightly lifting Zane’s mask to place a warm kiss on his lips. “I’ll be waiting…”

 

Kai happened to be looking in their direction and caught a glimpse of silver skin from under the mask. He turned to Jay.

 

“Guys, Windigo’s skin- it’s silver!” He said. “Could it be-”

 

“No. No way,” Cole said. “It can’t be. Zane would never do such a thing.”

 

Kai fought against the chains holding them and leaned over to Nya. “We need to get out of here!”

 

“But how?” Nya whispered. “There’s more of them than there are of us!”

 

Cole looked at little Wu, a smile spreading across his face.

 

“I have an idea…”

Chapter Text

Windigo hopped off the side of the bounty and summoned Yuki Onna once again, staring into the distance as they flew, glad to be off that ship which threatened to suffocate him with memories. Once out of sight of the Bounty he flipped the mask on top of his head, it had started to become stuffy like most masks eventually become, so he took it off. His body reverted to normal but his eyes remained purple. He sighed and closed his eyes. He was filled with so many different emotions at the sight of the ninja bound by chains. Memories of his own wrists being shackled, of crazy plans and daring escapes. He felt a hot tear roll down his cheek before he brushed it away and shook his head to clear his thoughts. His emotions settled, and like grease on water, anger floated to the top once again. His rage boiled at the thought that they didn’t even look like they missed him! His anger boiled over and he blasted the trees and anything that moved, with his black corrupted ice. He let out a guttural scream of pure unadulterated rage and hurt that those on the Bounty heard clear as day. He put the mask back on, it suppressed every emotion except hatred and lust.
The ninja had heard the scream, it had rattled them to their core. Once again it was a familiar sound but so different. It wasn’t of physical pain, they could hear the hurt, the rage, the sob caught in the throat behind the sound. Rumi frowned, she knew Zane was still hurt by the actions of the ninja but it seemed as though his rage was faltering into a more complex emotion. She sighed and looked towards the dragon and rider with a soft expression. Tonight before the ceremony she would show him all the love he deserved.

 

Cole leaned over to Nya. “Tell baby Wu to get the keys.” He whispered.

 

Nya nodded and wiggled her leg to get Wu’s attention. He looked at her and giggled.

 

“Psst.” She told Wu. “Get the keys…”

 

Wu tilted his head.

 

“Keys.” Nya said. “Get the keys!”

 

Wu walked over and picked up a teapot.

 

“No, no.” Nya said. “Keys.”

 

Wu set down the teapot and grabbed the keys off the belt of one of the SOG and ran over. Nya grabbed them from Wu.

 

“Thanks little buddy!” Nya said. She undid the lock and the ninja were freed from their vengestone chains and began to attack the SOG.

 

“Get the mask!” Kai said.

 

The ninja defeated the other thugs with ease, but the higher ranking members were a different story. Kai and Cole had to fight with Killow, Jay with Echo, and Nya with Ultra.

 

While the ninja were distracted, Harumi grabbed the vengestone chains and put on the mask before jumping off the Bounty, running for the temple. To complete the ritual, they needed a single hair from each of Garmadon’s living relatives. And plus, she wanted Lloyd to suffer as they brought back the ruthless man that was once his father.

 

She found Lloyd where she and Windigo had left him, lying unconscious on the floor surrounded by blood that oozed from the slashes in his arm left by the claws of Windigo. She chained him up and slung him over her shoulder as she made her way back to the Bounty.

 

Back at the Bounty, the ninja had been trying their best to fight, but the SOG was getting the upper hand.

 

“I don’t think we can hold them off much longer-” Cole began but was cut off as Killow punched him in the face, sending him flying off the edge of the ship and crashing to the forest floor.

 

“Cole!” Kai cried, before the fire ninja met the same fate as the last. He landed with a crash! next to Kai.

 

Echo kicked Jay off the ship, and Ultra Violet shoved Nya and Pixal roughly over the edge. Just as they fell, Harumi jumped on the deck with Lloyd.

 

“Take the ship and get us back to the city!” She demanded.

 

“They have Lloyd!” Kai cried. But just before he could get back on the ship, the Bounty’s thrusters roared to life and dust flew into the air, blinding the ninja. And so the SOG left the ninja behind while taking the Bounty, Lloyd, and the third Oni Mask.

 

 

“Zane?” Harumi called softly. “Zane, love, where are you?”

 

Using the Bounty, the SOG had returned to the city. They had planned the ceremony of Garmadon’s resurrection tonight, so they still had quite a time beforehand. In the meantime, they had secured the three Oni Masks by locking them in a room and had hastily patched up Lloyd’s arm before throwing him in one of the prison cells below the base. Zane had gotten back before the rest, but Harumi couldn’t seem to find him. She had seen Zane’s anger and despair earlier and wanted to see if he was okay.

 

She searched for him in the kitchen, garage, the rec room, and the main base floor, but there was no sign of him. She reached the private rooms for the high ranking members. She saw that the door to the room that Echo and Zane shared was cracked open. Peeking through the gap, she saw Zane sitting on his bed, hunched over with his head in his hands.

 

Harumi knocked on the door softly. “Zane?” She asked.

 

Zane made no move that showed he acknowledged her. Cautiously, Harumi pushed the door open wider and stepped inside. Now, she could see that his breathing was heavy and the Mask of Tyranny lay beside him on the bed.

 

“Zane?” She said again, softly as she slowly approached him. “Are you alright?”

 

Zane still didn’t answer. Harumi made her way to the edge of the bed and sat next to him, concerned about his silence. She rested a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Zane, please talk to me.” She told him. “It hurts me to see you like this…”

 

When Zane was silent still, Harumi sighed. She gently pried the hands away from Zane’s face and took hold of his chin.

 

“Zane, look at me, please.”

 

Harumi tilted his face towards her. His face was damp with tears and his eyes bloodshot from crying.

 

“It hurts…” He mumbled, clearly trying to choke back a sob.

 

Just as Harumi was about to speak, a commotion through the halls told her the others were back in the base. Knowing Zane didn’t want to be seen like this, she got up and gently took hold of his arm.

 

“Let’s go to my room.” Harumi told him. “No one will bother us there.”

 

Zane nodded weakly and let himself be led by Harumi to her room. She sat him on the edge of her bed and locked the door before joining him. She wrapped an arm around him and pulled him close.

 

“What’s the matter my love?” Harumi asked Zane.

 

“It hurts…” Zane repeated, fresh tears sliding down his face.

 

“What hurts?”

 

“The memories....the past...them...it all hurts…” Zane choked, his voice breaking as he quietly began to sob.

 

“Why Harumi, w-why me?! All I did was love them...all I did was protect them...and they did nothing for me…”

 

Harumi held Zane closer and cradled his head as he cried. She sighed and rested her head on his own, his sobs ripping at her heart.

 

“What did I do?!” Zane wailed, the tears pouring down more now. “What did I do wrong?! Why am I so unworthy of love and respect?! How many times do I have to sacrifice myself before someone loves me?! Why do I have to go through this?! WHY?!”

 

Zane broke down in Harumi’s arms, his body wracked with sobbing. Harumi let Zane rest his head on her chest as she whispered soothing words in Zane’s ear while running her hands through his hair to console him. Seeing Zane like this made Harumi want to cry too, but she had to stay strong for her partner.

 

Eventually, Zane’s sobbing tapered off and he was sniffling quietly, still in the hold of Harumi’s embrace.

 

“Zane,” Harumi said. “Look at me.”

 

Harumi tilted Zane’s forehead. His eyes were puffy from crying. She wiped the tears from his face.

 

“Zane, my dear, you did nothing wrong.” Harumi said to Zane quietly. “None of this is your fault. The past is behind you now. You don’t have to sacrifice anything anymore as long as you’re with me. You’re just as worthy of love and respect as anyone else, if not more. I told you that if you joined me you would receive the respect and admiration you deserve, and I intend to keep that promise.” Harumi gently cupped Zane’s face, just as she had when they were standing alone on the fire escape that night.

 

“And besides, if there’s anyone that will love you till Ninjago’s end, it’s me.”

 

Harumi leaned in and closed her eyes, placing a warm kiss on Zane’s lips.

 

Zane’s eyes widened in shock, he hadn’t experienced a kiss like this before. But when Harumi’s hand slid from his waist, up his back, and to the back of his neck and pulled him in deeper into the kiss, his surprise vanished and he melted into her lips, finding the sensation pleasurable and...oddly exciting.

 

Harumi pulled Zane closer, their kisses becoming more and more passionate. A strange buzz had become present in Zane’s body, one that he had never felt around Pixal, or any other girl for that matter. He didn’t know what it was or why it was there, but it clouded his brain and washed over him, making him want nothing more than Harumi’s touch.

 

Zane felt a hand on his shoulder and made a small cry of surprise past Harumi’s lips as she flipped him around, tackling and pinning Zane to the bed. Harumi broke the kiss and looked at Zane with bedroom eyes.

 

“H-Harumi?” He asked, taken aback. “What are you-”

 

“Shhh…” She said, pressing a finger to Zane’s lips before caressing his cheek. She bent down to give him another passionate kiss before whispering in his ear. “Relax. I know what I’m doing. I want you to make me yours. I want to be even more of a bad little princess, I want to be your Queen,”

 

Zane obeyed and couldn’t help but shiver at the sound of her voice. She let go of Zane’s shoulders and rested one hand on his chest and the other cradled his head. She began kissing Zane’s neck as her free hand began undoing the snaps on his shirt. He couldn’t help but make a small noise of pleasure as she made her way down from his ear to his collarbone.

 

Harumi finished undoing Zane’s shirt and tossed it aside, landing on the floor. She continued kissing him passionately on the lips as her hand traveled down from his chest and gently caressed his stomach. Zane shivered again in pleasure and didn’t fight Harumi when he felt her unbuttoning his pants and undoing his zipper. Grabbing a fistful of the pant leg, she ripped Zane’s pants off. Breaking the kiss, she looked down and smiled.

 

“Oh FSM, woof!” She said in awe.

 

It was a slightly disheveled and smiling Harumi that was humming as she unlocked the door to Lloyd’s cell and had Killow cuff the green ninja.

 

“What are you smiling about?” He snapped as he was hauled to his feet.

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” She retorted. Lloyd was led between Killow and Ultra Violet, with Harumi leading the way. He noticed as he walked behind her, she walked a bit different than normal, like it hurt.

 

He was led through the various levels of the base. They reached a rickety elevator, which took them up to an old trapdoor, which led to what used to be the palace courtyard. Instead of the torched remains of the palace, a temple built of wooden remains surrounded by a moat. Lloyd stared up at the temple, which towered high in the sky.

 

“Get moving.” Killow said, shoving the green ninja to the steps. Lloyd began walking up the steps. He looked up at Harumi, who saw him and smirked.

 

“So this is your true face, without the mask.” Lloyd said to her. “No wonder you covered it.”

 

“Bite your tongue, green ninja.” Harumi hissed. “The fight is all but over.”

 

Lloyd tried fighting his cuffs, but to no avail. “Where are you taking me?”

 

Harumi twirled a set of keys in her hand as they continued up the steps. “Being in the Palace of secrets all my life, it gave me time to make a few...alterations. I destroyed the palace, but I was careful not to destroy the Temple of Resurrection.”

 

Suddenly there was a beeping as Ultra’s comlink went off. She put an ear to it.

 

“The ninja survived, Quiet One. They’re in the city now.”

 

Lloyd smirked at Harumi. “What was that about the fight being over?”

 

They reached the top of the temple and stepped out on a platform. Harumi turned around and grinned.

 

“Let them come. If anyone tries to stop me, I have my insurance policy.”

 

Confused, Lloyd was about to ask what that was until he heard a scream.

 

“No! NO! LET GO OF ME!” Said the shrill voice of a woman.

 

Lloyd looked over and his face went pale with horror. There was his mother, her wrists tied, being manhandled by the same ice-skeleton creature who called themselves Windigo he had seen with Harumi in the Oni Temple.

 

“STOP!” Lloyd cried. “Leave her alone!”

 

Windigo ignored him as he dragged Misako over to a cage. He stopped at the door and spun her around, the purple eyes boring into her own.

 

“Genetics don’t lie like you do.” He hissed. He shoved Misako backwards into the cage. “Now get in, you unfaithful bitch.” He slammed the door shut, grabbed the keys from Harumi and locked the door.

 

Misako had never seen this person- no- thing before, but strangely enough, the voice sounded...familiar.

 

“Who are you?” She demanded, gripping the bars of the cage as Windigo turned away.

 

Windigo stopped, turned around, and briefly lifted up his mask to smirk at her before pulling it back over his face.

 

Misako gasped, shellshocked. Now she realized why his voice was familiar. There was no denying that silver titanium face.

 

“Lloyd!” Misako called. “T-that thing! Its-”

 

Suddenly a set of bony claws raked across the bars of her cage. “SILENCE!” Windigo boomed.

 

“I’ve been looking forward to this family reunion.” Harumi said with a grin.

 

Lloyd fought against his bonds again. “Let her go!” he said. “This is between us!”

 

“Between us?” Harumi asked. “How? There was nothing between us in the first place.”

 

She grabbed Lloyd and dragged him by his cuffs over to his cage. He grabbed him by his gi.

 

“How does it feel, Lloyd? How does it feel to be used? How does it feel to be unloved? How does it feel to be seen as nothing more than a toy?”

 

Windigo came up behind Harumi. He wrapped an arm around her.

 

“I may be considered a monster,” He growled. “But I’m only like this because I was denied the love and respect I deserve. At least I remember to treat those I care about with respect, unlike you.”

 

Windigo’s hand shot forward, and icy claws shoved him into a separate cage. The door shut and locked with a slam.

 

Windigo gave Lloyd one long look of smoldering hate before turning and joining the other SOG.

 

“Lloyd!” Misako cried. “Windigo is-”

 

“Commence the ceremony!” Harumi said.

 

She walked over to Lloyd, reached through the bars, and plucked a hair from his head. Mr. E hoisted Lloyd’s cage, which lowered Misako’s. Harumi strutted over to her cage.

 

“Don’t touch her!” Lloyd demanded. But Harumi reached through the bars of her cage and plucked a hair from her head as well.

 

“You’re crazy!” Misako shouted at her. “You really think you can bring him back?!”

 

“And I already have a hair from dear little Wu.” Harumi said. “Are we ready to begin?”

 

“My friends will stop you!” Lloyd said. “You won’t get away with this!”

 

“If they try, they’ll have to make a choice.” Harumi said. As if on cue, Mr. E lowered the cage holding Misako right above the water of the moat. Piranhas began to swarm underneath her.

 

Lloyd gasped. “No!”

 

Down below at the walls of the once-was palace, the other members of the SOG were on the lookout for the ninja.

 

“Does the Quiet One need the masks yet?” Killow asked.

 

“Not yet.” Ultra said. “Any sign of the ninja?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Remember, they’re ninja. They don’t like to be seen. Be ready.”

 

“I am.”

 

Suddenly sirens blared and lights flashed as the police raced up to the walls. The commissioner pulled out a megaphone as he stepped out of a squad car.

 

“All units approach with caution! We don't need any heroes here!”

 

He turned to the SOG. “Alright, we don’t want any trouble, we can resolve this peacefully!”

 

Ultra rolled her eyes. “What’s the fun in that?”

 

“We have reason to believe that you’ve trespassed and are about to engage in some pretty illegal activity. But if everyone come out with their hands up-”

 

Suddenly the commissioner’s megaphone was ripped from his hands by Killow, who was using the Mask of Deception to make the object levitate.

 

“Alright, I guess we can’t resolve this peacefully. Light ‘em up!”

 

Suddenly all the police pulled out flashlights.

 

“What are you doing?! I meant your guns!”

 

“Uh, we don’t have guns sir. Only tasers.”

 

“Oh right.” The commissioner said. “Then charge ‘em up!”

 

The police pulled out their tasers.

 

“And arrest them!”

 

As the police charged, the commissioner grabbed his radio. “Well, ninja, you wanted a distraction, and now you got one. Go save the city!”

 

The police force proved inferior to the SOG, Killow and Ultra using the masks of Vengeance and Deception to defeat them with ease.

 

“Get the masks to the Quiet One!” Killow said. He and Ultra jumped down and ran to the temple. They raced up the steps, clutching the masks.

 

Kai and the others raced up to the other side of the walls. With the police serving as a distraction, the ninja were able to scale the wall and get into the palace.

 

“You brought the masks.” Harumi said when Killow and Ultra met her at the top. “Any trouble?”

 

“Nothing the others can’t handle.” said Ultra.

 

“Then the ceremony is ready.”

 

She collected the masks from them and walked over to the center of the platform.

 

“Okay, I get it.” Lloyd said. “I hurt you and you want to hurt me, but this isn’t the way! You don’t have to do this! We will stop you.”

 

The SOG erupted into laughter.

 

“Hear that?” Ultra cackled. “They’re gonna stop us!”

 

Harumi shook her head. “You put too much faith in your friends Lloyd. So much so, it makes you blind.”

 

She placed each mask in position, to form a triangle, and a lectern in the center. Then she walked and placed the hairs at the foot of the lectern.

 

“The hair of the brother, mother, nephew, and wife.” Harumi declared out loud.

 

Lloyd furrowed his brow? Nephew? Mother? What did she mean?

 

Harumi stepped up to the lectern. “Clotho venge. Clotho decer. Clotho haeed!”

 

“Lloyd, it's starting!” Misako said. “Where are they?!”

 

“Clotho venge. Clotho decer. Clotho haeed!”

 

“Rumi, don’t!” Lloyd cried. “This isn’t you!”

 

Windigo stalked over to Lloyd’s cage. He put his face up to the bars and stared at Lloyd with those purple, soulless eyes.

 

“Yes it is.” Windigo growled. “This is always how she’s been. She’s never loved you, she’s only loved me. You’re blind to how people truly are just as you’re blind to how you treat them.”

 

Lloyd shook his cage. “WHO ARE YOU?!”

 

Windigo’s purple eyes only narrowed. “The one you destroyed.”

 

Without another word, he turned around to watch the ceremony. The masks had started to levitated into the air and were engulfed in purple flame.

 

“I call upon thee lord of many names. Lord of Destruction! King of Shadows! Lord Garmadon! Garmadon!”

 

There was a flash of lightning as clouds formed and circled in the sky above them. The carved surface of the platform began to glow purple, taking the shape of ancient runes and Garmadon’s face.

 

“Clotho venge! Clotho decer! Clotho haeed! Rip the fabric between realms! Oni, I call upon you! Connect me to…the Departed Realm! Yes!”

 

Suddenly a hole opened in the clouds, a pitch black darkness with purple fog wafting from it.

 

“Who calls me?” Echoed a dark ghastly voice.

 

“No!” Lloyd cried. “Leave him alone!”

 

The ninja were fighting the guards at the base of the temple, but stopped when they heard Garmadon’s voice.

 

“Did you hear that?” Jay asked.

 

“We’re falling behind!” Cole said. “Get moving!”

 

“Follow my voice! Feel my presence! Join me Lord Garmadon!”

 

“Who are you?” Echoed the ancient voice.

 

“Follow my voice! Follow the shadows!”

 

“We need to go!” Called Kai as they fought their way to the top of the temple.

 

Windigo watched the ceremony, a sick grin on his face. Garmadon was once his enemy, but he didn’t feel like that about him anymore. Once he was brought back to life, he could finally watch what he had been wanting to happen for the longest time.

 

The ninja had mistreated him, kicked him around, and didn’t care about him. Ninjago never gave him the credit he deserved. They too, had always neglected him and never gave him the respect he was entitled to. Both the ninja and the people had made him suffer in ways he never should have. But now, it was their turn. Now they would know what it was like to suffer. To feel unloved. To be used as nothing more than a piece of scrap metal.

 

The ninja will suffer for what they did. And all of Ninjago would pay.

 

“I hear you...feel you! Come and be mortal again! Your nephew wants to stop you, but I want to make you stronger! It is I, Harumi! Follow my voice!”

 

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY NEPHEW?!” Lloyd screamed, rattling at the bars of his cage. “I’M HIS SON!”

 

Windigo smirked and walked over to Lloyd’s cage. Again he bored into Lloyd with his eyes.

 

“Can you really not connect the dots?” He asked. “Do you think that a brown headed father and a brown headed slut of a mother have a decent chance of having a blonde son, especially when the brother is blonde as well?”

Windigo smirked and straightened up, leaving Lloyd to think over what he said.

 

The wind picked up, swirling and screaming around them as the portal got bigger. Lightning flashed. The ninja had finally reached the steps leading to the top, but were met by more SOG members.

 

“We’re not gonna get there in time!” Jay called.

 

“We have to try!” Nya said, knocking a thug out of their way.

 

“Harumi?” Came the echoing voice again.

 

“Your time is now! You cannot stop it! The end is near!”

 

“We need to stop this thing!” Kai cried as they made it to the top. The ninja got into their battle stances. A circle of light enveloped the summoning area, but when the ninja tried to get through it, they were pushed back.

 

“What is this thing?!” Jay asked.

 

“I don’t know!” Cole said. “How are we gonna get through it?!”

 

Nya thought. “Use the Tornado of Creation!”

 

“But we can’t!” Kai said. “We don’t have Zane!”

 

Lightning flashed brilliantly in the sky. A beam of light connected the three Oni Masks before shooting up into the portal. Everyone, the SOG, the ninja, and the police, stared in awe as a large pillar of light carried down a dark figure. As its feet touched the ground, there was a great flash of light as the portal closed and the masks fell to the ground.

 

Then there was silence. The ninja uncovered their eyes. Their hearts dropped to their stomachs.

 

They were too late. Standing there in all his glory, was Lord Garmadon in the flesh.

Chapter Text

The malicious grin on Windigo’s face would have made an Oni run in fear, but for the ninja, they weren’t focused on Windigo, they were focused on Garmadon.

“Shit, shit, shit,” cursed Kai, backing up

 

“We are so hooped,” whimpered Jay

 

“We have to rescue Lloyd and Misako,” said Cole determinedly

 

“But how are we going to get past Hi- OH SHIT!” exclaimed Kai pointing then looking at Windigo. Kai almost started shaking at the sight of the skeletal creature.

 

Revenge on Lloyd was almost complete in Windigo’s eyes, it was time to move to the one who had started the ball rolling. Windigo held out his bony palm and black, purple, and pale blue crystals formed in his hands.

 

“KAI WATCH OUT!” exclaimed Nya as she pushed her brother to the ground just before the glowing ball of poisoned ice came hurtling towards them. Nya put up a water shield which froze in a purple mist.

 

“What is that?” asked Jay

 

“Not important right now! We have a fight to win,” said Cole. Windigo laughed, a taunting, menacing, hollow-sounding laugh that rattled the air around them but then, Harumi gently grabbed his arm.

 

“Darling, let our Lord deal with them,” said Harumi sweetly

 

“Um, on a scale of Knukal to Overlord how fucked are we?” asked Kai

 

“Nadakahn,” said Jay

 

“Who?” asked Cole

 

“We’re fucked,” said Nya.

“Sons of Garmadon, no longer will I be the Quiet One! No longer shall I be silent and no longer shall you, for our father has returned!”

 

The SOG whooped and cheered and began chanting Garmadon’s name. While Harumi looked on and basked in the glory, Windigo came up behind her.

 

“I know where you’re not the Quiet One.” He whispered in her ear. Harumi giggled and reached up to caress the side of his face.

 

Lord Garmadon looked around slowly at the SOG that surrounded him. “What’s this?” he asked.

 

“We are here to help restore you to your former glory and restore you to your rightful place of power.” Harumi said. “You always wanted to shape Ninjago into your own image. Now, we’re here to help you with that. With us, you’ll strengthen your powers and your ability to rule Ninjago!”

 

Garmadon grinned. “Yes, I would like that very much…” He said. He panned over the SOG when his eyes settled on Windigo. “And what is that?”

 

Harumi walked over to Windigo and gently took him by his forearm and led him closer to Garmadon. “This is our most powerful ally besides you, my lord. Once treated like nothing more than a disposable weapon, he has come to us and wields a mask that has revealed itself only to him, the Oni Mask of Tyranny. He too will aid you in our quest, he wields a never before seen elemental power, Shadow Frost,”

 

Garmadon bent to examine Windigo’s face carefully, searching as if he remembered him from somewhere. Then he straightened up.

 

“Very well.” Garmadon said. “When do we begin?”

 

“You see, both Oni and dragon blood flow through you. You have the power to both destroy and create.” Harumi said.

 

“Tell me.” Garmadon replied. “How?”

 

“As Wu has previously taught the ninja, you too can unlock your true potential. A dark potential. But to achieve it, you must overcome the one obstacle that has stood in your way. In this case-”

 

“My son.” Garmadon said, narrowing his eyes at the green-clad figure in the cage. Harumi nodded.

 

Windigo approached Garmadon. “My lord, you can handle your son.” His soulless purple eyes swung over and settled on Kai. A menacing grin came over his face.

 

“I respectfully request to take care of the red one myself.”

 

Garmadon too looked at Kai. “Granted.”

 

Windigo cackled and advanced on Kai. The fire ninja’s eyes grew to the size of saucers as he saw him coming. Garmadon advanced on Lloyd.

 

Kai summoned his firepower. “We need to get Lloyd out of here!”

 

He ducked past a few SOG and threw a fireball at Lloyd’s cage, breaking the lock and Lloyd’s chains in half.

 

Kai landed and was about to face the SOG that were rushing him when suddenly a set of icy cold claws wrapped around Kai’s throat. He was picked up and slammed into the wall, held against the concrete by Windigo’s hand and forced to stare into those cold, bloodthirsty eyes.

 

Windigo summoned his normal ice to coat his claws and make them sharper. Kai saw this and gasped.

 

“Zane?!” He cried. “W-what happened to you?!”

 

Windigo only glowered into Kai’s eyes, hatred and anger etched into every inch of his face.

 

“YOU DID THIS TO ME!” He howled with rage. He raised his ice coated claws, shining in the lightning that danced above before he brought them down on the fire ninja.

 

Kai screamed in pain as the claws raked across his abdomen, blood beginning to drip in their wake. He cried, he thrashed, he begged and pleaded for mercy, but Windigo could hear none of it. All he could hear was his own maniacal laughter, all he could feel was the sickening joy as Kai’s blood coated his claws, all he could all he could see was the agony that twisted the fire ninja’s face.

 

Garmadon watched Windigo as he tormented Kai. He smiled. “Perhaps this one will be useful…”

 

Meanwhile, the ninja watched in horror as Kai was getting ripped to shreds.

 

“Kai!” Nya cried. “We have to do something!”

 

“I’ll take care of my father.” Lloyd said. “You guys take care of Windigo and get Kai back!”

 

Harumi turned. “Ultra, Killow, Mr. E! Watch Windigo’s back!”

 

The three nodded and went over to fight the ninja while Windigo continued his bloody handiwork.

 

Lloyd rushed over to his father and stopped right before him.

 

“Father, stop this!”

 

Garmadon merely looked down at his son, seemingly unbothered by him. “You’ve...changed…”

 

“So have you.” Lloyd said. “But I don’t want to fight you.”

 

Garmadon rushed him and threw a punch. Lloyd caught it. “Please, this isn’t you!”

 

“This is the new me.” He growled. He threw another punch, but Lloyd caught it again.

 

“You have power, but I’m not here to fight. My father is in there somewhere. I’ve saved you once, and I’ll save you again.”

 

Garmadon spun and kicked Lloyd in the stomach, sending him flying back. He fell back against the wall.

 

“There is nothing left to save!” Garmadon boomed, advancing on Lloyd. “I’ve played many roles, wore different masks- father, brother, husband, teacher. But only one was summoned back…” He held out his hands and purple flames erupted from his four fists. “Destroyer!”

 

He lunged at Lloyd again and unleashed a barrage of fiery punches. Lloyd was able to deflect them, but barely.

 

Garmadon backed off, allowing Lloyd to get to his feet.

 

“He’s reaching his true potential.” Harumi said, watching the fight. “He’s finding it- his True Potential…”

 

“But listen to me!” Lloyd said. “You don’t have to do this! Harumi’s using you as a pawn!”

 

“You are the pawn, a pawn to your own foolish hopes!” Garmadon said before attacking Lloyd again. He knocked Lloyd off his feet and grabbed him by the front of his gi and lifted him from the ground.

 

“You wouldn’t hurt me.” Lloyd said, staring his father in the eyes. “Your son.”

 

Garmadon only narrowed his eyes. “I have no son.”

 

He sent Lloyd flying back with a blast of darkness, sending him flying into another wall. The impact knocked Lloyd unconscious and he fell to the ground, limp.

 

Meanwhile, Windigo had continued to hack away at Kai. The fire ninja was covered in deep cuts and slashes. A puddle of blood had formed from his wounds and he was starting to black out from the pain and loss of blood.

 

The other ninja were trying to fight past the SOG to get to Windigo, but with no avail.

 

“NO, STOP, PLEASE!” Kai cried. “I-I’M SORRY!”

 

“You’re only sorry because now you have to face the consequences of your actions!” Windigo boomed. “You’re not sorry for what you did to me! You’re only sorry for yourself!”

 

Kai was about to resume pleading for his life but was cut off and screamed in pain as Windigo’s claws ripped through his skin.

 

“How does it feel, fire ninja?!” Windigo taunted. “To be hurt, to be betrayed? HOW DOES IT FEEL?!”

 

“If we don’t get to Kai now, he’s gonna die!” Cole cried.

 

“Cole! Give me a boost!”

 

Cole held out his hand just as Jay jumped up. He sailed over the SOG’s heads and landed behind Windigo. Jay pulled out his sword and swung it, the blade digging into Windigo’s shoulder.

 

Windigo roared in pain, dropping Kai, who fell to the floor. While Windigo was distracted, Jay dove under him and grabbed Kai, who was also unconscious. He slung him over his shoulder. “We need to get out of here!”

 

Nya grabbed Lloyd and they ran for the edge of the building, summoning their energy dragons before flying off. Garmadon’s evil laugh that they knew all too well echoed behind them as they fled.

 

“Shall we go after them?” Garmdon asked Harumi. She shook her head.

 

“We won’t need to.” Harumi said. “Let them live to see your rule.”

 

Windigo limped over to the two, clutching his shoulder. “I wasn’t through with him yet…”

 

“It’s okay, love.” Harumi said, placing a hand on Windigo’s shoulder. “You’ll get your chance again.”

 

She noticed the wound on his back. “Echo! Take Windigo back to the base! He needs medical attention!”

 

Echo walked over and took his brother’s arm. Before he left Harumi placed a kiss on Zane’s cheek. “You’ll be okay, darling. I’ll see you soon.”

 

 

During the fight, Misako and little Wu were staying at Dareth’s apartment on the other side of the city. Wu was at the table with some paper and crayons while Misako hustled about, tidying the place up and pacing anxiously, waiting for any news of her son. The news was on the TV, and the reporter was stating that the mayor had placed a city wide curfew due to the unsafe conditions.

 

Suddenly the phone rang, startling her. She rushed over and picked up the phone. “Hello?”

 

“Misako?” Nya’s voice said on the other end.

 

“Is my son okay?” She asked.

 

Wu held up a drawing. “Lloyd! Lloyd!” He said.

 

“Not now, sweetie.” She said.

 

“We managed to escape with him, but both him and Kai are in bad shape.” Nya told her. “Were headed your way but...it’s like his life force is fading…”

 

“Lloyd. Help.” Wu said again. He held up his paper. Misako looked at it. It was the symbol for Mystakè’s tea shop.

 

“I know where to take him.” Misako said.

 

 

“Careful, brother, this may be painful.”

 

Zane was sitting on one of the tables at the SOG’s infirmary, laying on his stomach with his shirt off. Echo had examined the gaping wound in Zane’s shoulder inflicted upon him by Jay and would definitely need stitches, but since Zane was metal, welding it shut would have to do. Once he was finished cleaning the silver blood from and around the wound, Echo left the room and came back with the welder. Harumi was there with Zane to make sure he was okay. Echo turned a couple knobs on the welder and tossed Harumi a face shield so she wouldn’t be blinded by the welding gun’s light.

 

Harumi took Zane’s hand. “This is gonna hurt, but don’t worry. I’m right here.”

 

Zane nodded and braced himself as he heard the welding gun’s flame turn on and grimaced as searing heat melted his exoskeleton and closed the gash on Zane’s back. Soon Echo finished, the red-hot weld cooling and returning to it’s normal titanium color.

 

Zane sighed in relief as he sat back up. Thanks to Echo’s handiwork, he felt better already.

 

It was late in the night, so after thanking his brother for his assistance he and Harumi decided to go to bed. They both changed and crawled into bed together when Harumi noticed Zane was still wearing the mask.

 

Harumi reached up to pull Zane’s mask off. “Zane, honey, our work here is done for the day, maybe you should take this off for the night-”

 

Zane saw Harumi’s hand and flinched away from it. She became confused.

 

“Zane, what’s the matter?” She asked.

 

Zane placed a protective hand on the Mask of Tyranny. “Don’t touch it-” Then he saw the confused look on her face. “I can take it off myself. Please.”

 

“O-okay?” She said. Lowering her hand. “Sorry…”

 

Zane said nothing. He reluctantly took off the mask per Harumi’s request, but still kept it with arms reach of him on the nightstand. He wrapped his arms around Harumi, casting one more longing glance at the Mask of Tyranny before closing his eyes.

 

 

“Oh..I c- There’s- He’s too much- He’s…”

 

Lloyd had been taken to Mystaké’s tea shop. He lay on a mat on the floor of the back room. Kai lay beside him, covered with bandages.

Jay felt Lloyd’s forehead, which was hot to the touch.

 

“Hurry.” He said. “He’s burning up.”

 

“You cannot hurry tea.” Mystakè said. “Only have patience to get it right.” She took the kettle off the stove and poured a cup. “There. It is ready.”

 

“Is it going to make him better?” Cole asked as the woman approached them with the cup in her hands.

 

“It will heal his wounds, but…”

 

“But what?” Nya asked.

 

“Ugh! There’s always a but!” Jay cried.

 

“It comes with a price.” She finished.

 

“We’ll pay whatever it is.” Cole said. But Mystakè shook her head.

 

“I will take no coin for this.” She told them. “I speak of a price for you and your friend. You each must lay your hand upon him. The tea will focus your powers to save him. But it may use up all the power you have left.”

 

“Wait, but we don’t have Zane!” Cole said.

 

“Ice is not lost, but fallen into shadow. Water can fulfill the need for ice, but the risk is far greater.”

 

Nya nodded in understanding. “I’ll still do it.” She said. “For Lloyd.”

 

Suddenly a groan and stirring made them look over. They saw that Kai was finally starting to come to, eyes cracking open.

 

“Kai!” Nya said, rushing to his side. “Oh FSM, I thought you would never wake up! Are you okay?!”

 

Kai slowly came to. He saw his sister.

 

“Nya…” He croaked. “W-what happened? Where’s Lloyd?”

 

“He’s here.” Nya told him. “But we need you.”

 

“What for?’

 

“To save Lloyd.” She grabbed the mat he was on and gently tugged him closer. She gently took his hand and rested it on Lloyd’s arm.

 

“Okay.” Nya said. “We’re ready.”

 

Jay, Cole, and Nya also rested their hands on Lloyd and Mystakè helped Lloyd drink the tea. Their hands glowed. Lloyd groaned and cried in pain. He opened his eyes, which were glowing green, before turning back to normal. He fell back to being unconscious. The ninja’s hands stopped glowing. Drained from the process, Kai too slipped back into unconsciousness.

 

Nya looked at Mystakè. “Did it work?”

 

She nodded. “Now we wait.”

 

 

In the light of morning, Harumi, Windigo, the other SOG and Garmadon stood outside a village. With the ninja out of their hair, they now were able to go around Ninjago and let the citizens know of the new change in leadership. As they observed the houses below, a man armed with a sword came marching up to meet them.

 

Ultra elbowed Killow. “This should be fun.”

 

The man came closer before stopping. “We are good people. We have nothing to give you.” He said.

 

“Your village is surrounded.” Harumi stated. “Kneel before your new emperor.”

 

“We will never kneel!” The man shouted. “Our people have already taken up arms. We will fight if need be!”

 

“Take up arms?” Garmadon asked.

 

“These people know not of your power, my lord.” Harumi explained. “Show them your power. Show all of Ninjago how to kneel.”

 

Garmadon grinned evilly, and raised his hands. Purple flames spewed from his palms. The ground rumbled beneath them and massive rocks began floating over to them. The purple flames enveloped the rocks and they began to bind, forming a towering rock creature that glowed an unearthly purple.

 

Windigo looked at the Colossus, impressed with Garmadon’s ability to do such things. He wondered vaguely if he also had the capacity to do so.

 

“My lord,” Windigo said. “Do you mind if I add something?”

 

Garmadon nodded. “Very well.”

 

Windigo held out his hand and touched Colossus on the leg. Thick, dark ice began to cover its limbs and body. When Windigo stepped away, Garmadon saw that he had essentially given the creature a set of armor made from ice.

 

Garmadon smiled. “Well done, Windigo.”

 

“That won’t stop us!” The man said. “The ninja will stop you!”

 

Windigo turned to look at the man. He grinned.

 

“Who?” He asked. He lifted the mask to reveal his titanium face. “Me?”

 

The man gasped in horror.

 

Zane placed the mask back over his head. He summoned his shadow frost.

 

“You will kneel before Lord Garmadon as your new emperor,” He growled. “Or you will PERISH!”

 

Then, without warning, Windigo froze the man. But he didn’t stop there. He wanted the entire village to pay for the insubordination of this man. He froze everyone and everything in his way, heeding naught to the pleas of mercy from the townsfolk, even the youngest children and the helpless of the elderly. Soon, the entirety of the town was covered in dark ice in Windigo’s wake. Garmadon smiled and looked at Harumi. “I like this one.” He said.

 

 

“Is this really the time to be singing right now?” Jay asked, annoyed at Mystakè’s lightheartedness in a grave situation.

 

She placed something in a paper bag and rolled it up, handing it to the blue ninja. “Just a little something to go.” She said with a laugh.

 

Cole furrowed his brow. “What is this, takeout?”

 

“For your time of need.” She replied. She handed Cole the bag. “Remember to go.”

 

The door opened, and the three ninja jumped into a battle stance, only to see Misako enter with Wu cradled in her arm.

 

“How is he?” Misako asked.

 

“He’s gonna be okay,” Nya said, giving her a smile.

 

“Oh good.” Misako said, clearly relieved. She put Wu down.

 

Little Wu looked around at the teas, giggling, before he saw Mystakè.

 

“Mommy!” He cried, running up to her. Mystakè smiled and bent down to scoop up the child.

 

“Why hello there, my little baby!” She cooed, tickling Wu, who squealed. “My, it’s been ages since I’ve seen you like this!”

 

“Uh, excuse me?!” Jay cried.

 

“Mommy?!” Cole said.

 

Mystakè?” Nya asked. “You’re Wu’s mother?”

 

The woman nodded. “Yes. I was the wife of the FSM. I bore Wu and Garmadon both for him.”

 

“How come you didn’t tell us this earlier?!” Jay demanded. Mystakè only shrugged.

 

“The chance never came up.” She said simply.

 

“How come Wu never told us?” Cole asked.

 

“I left when Wu was a toddler.The FSM figured it would be safer for me to do so.”

 

“Huh, guess that explains where Wu’s love for tea comes from.” Nya said.

 

Suddenly the shop rumbled. Wu began crying in fear as jars of teas came off the shelves and shattered as they hit the floor.

 

“What was that?!” Jay cried.

 

The three ninja ran outside a shop. They saw a man running away. Nya stopped him.

 

“What is it?” She asked him. “What happened?”

 

“If you see it, run away!” He cried before running away.

 

The ground rumbled beneath them again.

 

“What could do that?!” Cole asked.

 

“Something massive that's gonna kill us all!” Jay cried as the earth continued to shake.

 

A shadow fell in front of them, and they looked up just in time to see a building fall over and smash into pieces on the ground.

 

“Come on!” Cole said.

 

“Wait!” Nya said. “What about Lloyd and Kai?”

 

“Looks like it's just us three…” Jay said.

 

Suddenly the Samurai X mech flew up behind them. “Don’t forget about me.” Pixal said.

 

“You guys go. I’ll stay with them.”

 

Cole and Jay nodded and they went along with Pixal to go find the source of the panic. They turned down a couple streets to see the Colossus cornering the police force. Decimated police vehicles littered the ground at its feet.

 

“We have to help them!” Jay said. “Before anyone gets hurt!”

 

The Colossus raised its giant arm to swipe at the police force. Cole rushed forwards.

 

“Not so fast!” He said.

 

“What?!” Jay said. “That’s our big entrance? Kai used that ages ago. After all our battles, you couldn’t come up with something better?!”

 

“Uh, sorry if I’m distracted by that giant walky thingy!”

 

“Um, I don’t know if you noticed this, but the creature is wearing armor of some dark material…” Pixal pointed out.

 

The two looked and saw that Pixal ws right. It was dark, black and purple, but also transparent.

 

“Ugh, what is that stuff?!” Cole asked. He didn’t notice that the Colossus was looking down at them.

 

“Uh, Cole?” Jay asked. “I think it heard you..”

 

The Colossus swung at them, they barely had enough time to jump out of the way. They frantically ducked, dove, and dodged the limbs of the creature. They tried to use their elements, but the strange armor the Colossus wore protected it from any attack.

 

Harumi watched the ninja fruitlessly attack the Colossus from a building. She smiled.

 

“You are no match for us.” She said. “Your resistance is futile.”

 

 

“Father!”

 

Lloyd jolted awake.

 

Misako, Mystakè, Wu, and Nya rushed in.

 

“Lloyd!” They cried. Nya got to him first.

 

“It actually worked!” Mystakè remarked as she walked in. “Eh, that’s a first.”

 

“What is it Lloyd?” Nya asked, helping him sit up. “Are you okay?”

 

“I had a dream of a giant, and my father. They’re looking for Wu.”

 

“That is no dream.” Mystakè said. “That is a vision.”

 

Suddenly there was another groan beside them as Kai came to. She helped Kai up and onto his feet.

 

“Lloyd!” Kai said. “You’re okay!”

 

Lloyd gave Kai a weak grin. “So are you…”

 

“Do you still have your power?” Nya asked.

 

Lloyd held out a hand to summon his power, but was confused when none came.

 

“I don’t understand.” He said. “I-I can’t. Why can’t I?”

 

“You’re alive.” Misako told him. “That’s all you need to know.”

 

“You need to get the child out of here before it’s too late.” Mystakè said.

 

“But without my power,” Lloyd bowed his head. “I’m not the green ninja…”

 

“Don’t say that!” Nya told him.

 

“My father’s still out there. I can’t-I can’t defeat him…and that thing..Windigo or whatever it calls itself, it’s too powerful,” said Lloyd, sounding defeated.

 

“Windigo wields an Oni mask even I have only heard in legends that predate even my husband, Tyranny was said to be the mask that the first Oni Ruler used to usurp the throne and rule with all three values Oni cherished, Deception, Vengeance, and Hatred, it vanished after the FSM came here, but now it has revealed itself again, the more he uses it, the more it will over take him, I doubt even your father knows what he has allowed so close to him,” said Mystake.

 

“So we have two big bad guys to fight?” asked Jay.

 

“Garmadon must tread lightly around those WIndigo cares for, otherwise even destruction will be no match for the power of that mask, I fear the one under that mask will never see the light again,” said Mystake.

 

“You know who Windigo is?” asked Jay.

 

“Yes, but you will not like the answer,” said Mystake.

 

“LATER! Right now we have a fight to win!” exclaimed Nya.

 

The shop rumbled again. Nya turned to Lloyd.

 

“Do you have any strength left?”

 

Lloyd got up with Nya’s help. Together the three began to make their way to the door of the shop.

 

“Wait!” Mystake said. “Here. Take this with you.” She handed Lloyd a bag and rested a hand on his shoulder. “You may not have your power, but that’s not what made you powerful. It was knowing what to do, and when to do it.”

 

Lloyd nodded and the three exited the shop. Misako and Wu watched them go.

 

“The end is not the end, but a new beginning!” Mystake shouted after them. “Now go ninja, go!”

 

Cole, Jay, and Pixal hid behind a building from the Colossus. They were out of energy, out of breath, and out of ideas.

 

“Of all the big things we fought…” Jay said between pants. “This is the biggest!”

 

“We need the Bounty!” Cole said.

 

“Go!” Pixal said. “I’ll keep them busy.”

 

Wu and Misako were staring out the window to see what was going on when Wu turned to Misako. “My brother is coming.” He said.

 

“What? How do you know?”

 

“I know.”

 

“Go.” Mystake said. “You need to get away from here.”

 

Misako ran with wu out of the door and into the streets. They turned a corner of an alleyway to see Garmadon standing there, as if expecting him. Baby Wu screamed.

 

“Garmadon!” Misako cried. “What happened to you?”

 

Garmadon lobbed a ball of dark fire at them. Misako shielded Wu when another fireball came flying and deflected the previous one. They looked up and saw Nya, Lloyd, and Kai standing in front of them. Wu laughed.

 

Nya plucked Wu from Misako’s arms and plopped him in Lloyd’s. “Go! Get him outta here!”

 

Lloyd and Kai ran off, leaving Misako and Nya to face him.

 

“You sure you’re up for this?” Nya asked her.

 

“I was married to him once.” Misako answered. “I’m up for anything.”

 

Garmadon rushed at them. Nya kicked over a fire hydrant and used the water gushing out to blast the dark lord back.

 

Meanwhile, Kai and Lloyd raced through the streets.

 

“Go find the others!” Lloyd told Kai. “I’ll get Wu away!”

 

Kai nodded and they parted ways. Lloyd jumped up onto the rooftops. He had made a second jump and stopped dead in his tracks as He saw Harumi standing there as if waiting for them.

 

“Running will do you no good.” Harumi said. “Give us the child.”

 

“No!” Lloyd said, putting a protective arm around Wu. “Is this what you want? To destroy the city, to create more victims?” He pointed to the Colossus destroying buildings in its wake. “Just think about how many others will end up like you. This isn’t what you want.”

 

Harumi smiled bitterly. “Oh no. This is only the beginning.”

 

She pulled out the Mask of Hatred. Lloyd gasped and dashed across the rooftops, trying to get as far away as possible. She put on the mask and continued pursuing him across the city. After a long chase she finally cornered him. Lloyd got into a protective stance and tried to use his energy powers before realizing it was gone. Harumi noticed.

 

“Where’s your power, Lloyd, as your city falls?”

 

Lloyd didn’t answer. He hugged Wu closer to his chest.

 

“The Sons of Garmadon could always use one more.” Harumi said. “Join us.”

 

“Yeah, that never works.” Lloyd said. He jumped over Harumi’s head and onto a passing tram.

 

Lloyd put a hand up to his earpiece. “I have Wu! Can anyone hear me? Where is everyone?”

 

Kai’s voice came on the other end. “We hear you loud and clear! Hold on, we’re coming!”

 

A few moments later the Bounty pulled up, pacing the tram.

 

Cole was standing at the rail. “Jump!”

 

Lloyd looked. “It’s too far!” He said.

 

“Get us closer!” Cole cried.

 

“She’s as close as I can get her!” Jay yelled.

 

Harumi jumped onto the tram.

 

“Give me the child.” She growled. “The emperor wants his brother.”

 

“Jump, Lloyd!” Kai cried. “You can make it!”

 

Lloyd jumped but Harumi caught him. With a great heave, he threw Wu through the air. “Catch him!”

 

“What?” Cole cried. “No!”

 

Wu sailed through the air and landed in Cole’s arms. Jay steered the Bounty away to avoid crashing into a building.

 

“We have to go back!” Jay cried. “I’ll circle around!” He began to spin the steering wheel.

 

Harumi grabbed a struggling Lloyd. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

 

Lloyd watched with horror as the Colossus appeared from behind a building. It reached out and grabbed the Bounty with ease. It took it into its arms and it began to crumble.

 

“No!” Lloyd cried.

 

“This is the end, Lloyd.” She growled. “Watch how you lose it all.”

 

Jay panicked as the wooden walls splintered around them. “Hands off you big oaf! We just had her repaired!”

 

“What do we do?!” Kai yelled.

 

“I don’t know!” Cole shouted back over the groaning planks.

 

“I can’t break free from it’s hold!” Jay said, wrenching the helm every which way.

 

“We have to go!” Wu said.

 

“What?!” Cole asked. “What does it look like we’re doing?!”

 

“We have to go!” Wu said again.

 

“Wait!” Jay said. “Remember what Mystake said? ‘For in your time of need, tea to go.’ I think I know why she gave it to us!”

 

“Then what are you waiting for?!” Kai said. Cole grabbed the bag from his pocket and opened it. Purple glowing leaves came floating around and surrounded them, spinning faster and faster.

 

Wu giggled. “Go!”

 

“Go where?” Cole asked as the leaves glowed brighter. They spun faster and enveloped them in a vortex.

 

“I feel funny…” Jay said as the vortex got stronger. Then suddenly it snapped shut, taking the ninja and baby Wu with it.

 

And not a second too soon. Right after the vortex closed, the Colossus crushed the Bounty into smithereens.

 

“NO!” Lloyd screamed.

 

“This. This is what I wanted. To see your father’s return, and for you to lose everything. How does it feel to see the end?”

 

Lloyd was incoherent, horrified at what he just witnessed.

 

“Oh, and by the way,” Harumi added, mockingly. “You’re familiar with Windigo right? I bet you to take a wild guess at who’s really under the mask.”

 

Lloyd thought. He racked his brain. Who could be under the mask, the ruthless, soulless person that called themselves Windigo? Who could be capable of so much hatred and destruction?

 

Then two things came back to him. One being the strange icy cold substance that coated the river at the Oni Temple. The second being Mystake’s warning she had given them awhile ago when learning about the tale of the Oni and Dragon.

 

‘I see you have already lost one of your own.’ She had said. ‘Think of your actions before you lose another.’

 

Lloyd had wondered why Windigo’s voice sounded familiar. Finally, after being oblivious for so long, he connected the dots.

 

“Zane…”

 

Suddenly, a shadow streaked across the full moon in the sky as a figure dropped from a building and onto the tram that Lloyd and Harumi were standing on. Lloyd looked up in awe as none other than Windigo towered over him, jet black horns glinting in the moonlight.

 

“Perfect timing as always, darling.” Harumi said sweetly.

 

His hand reached up and took off the mask, revealing the titanium face Lloyd would have recognized anywhere.

 

Zane narrowed his purple eyes at Lloyd. The voice that rumbled from his throat wasn’t like Zane at all, rather it was one of some twisted creature of darkness.

 

“You called?”

Chapter Text

After setting up a sort of camp, the ninja decided that it was best for them to get some sleep. Cole was in the middle of a normal dream when the entire scene shifted. Every moment of Zane’s life as a ninja played around him simultaneously, his brother’s cries of anguish and pain, his devotion to his brothers, every moment up till the night he left the team. Countless times Cole wanted to run to his brother and comfort him, yet if he tried, he remained rooted to the same spot, unable to reach out to help Zane. Then the swirling moments stopped, the world frozen in a particular moment, Zane’s sacrifice. Then out from behind a building, now the only other thing besides Cole that was moving, came the figure of a man, his face cast in shadow by the light emitting from him.
“Hello Cole,” came the echoing voice that radiated wisdom. There was only one person this could be.

 

“First Spinjitzu Master, i-it is an honor sir,” said Cole bowing “But I don’t understand, why am I seeing all the bad moments of Zane’s time with us?”

“To give you an understanding of why he has become what he has, tell me Cole, in all these moments you see, how many times did any of you sincerely try to console him, after each time the team has been split then reunited, how many times has he been denied the affectionate greeting the others get offered, I ask you this because the moment you see before you is the moment that I regret. I gave him the option to go back to all of you or to come with me to the next adventure, I regret giving him the option because he was never truly happy again, my mistake may have just doomed Ninjago to the wrath of an ancient evil that predates even I,” said The FSM.

 

“Sir, what do you mean?” asked Cole.

 

“Your brother’s pain stems from how he was treated on the team, his feeling of no longer belonging after he came back from facing the overlord, pushed him closer to the edge of darkness. Evil reached out to him, offering him a place of power, belonging, and Love. That night at the palace of secrets was the last push he needed into Darkness’s arms. Part of the foley is mine for allowing him to return instead of insisting he come with me, but you all played a part in Zane’s eventual fall to Evil’s grasp. Love is a powerful persuader, but the side that offers it is not always the right side. I refuse to punish Zane’s soul for wanting the love he deserves, his mortal punishment will suffice,” said The FSM.

 

“Sir, I don’t understand, are you saying that Zane has turned evil?” asked Cole, his heart sinking.

 

“Ice has always been darkness’s goal, for winter is a devastating time for many, Darkness saw the despair of ice and gave it a place, now a legendary evil has arisen once more, a being of hate, desperate for vengeance against those who wronged it, but a deep desire to protect those who show it kindness,” said The FSM. Cole’s heart sunk further, there was only one member of the SOG that seemed to have ice abilities and hated the ninja.

 

“Windigo,” said Cole before awaking with a start and looking around, oh right, the first realm. His cheeks felt wet, and then he noticed he’d been crying.

 

“Cole? What’s wrong?” asked Jay.

 

“I know where Zane went,” said Cole.

 

“You do?” asked Jay excitedly.

 

“Yeah, Mystake was right, I don’t like the answer,” said Cole.

 

“Well, where is he? Maybe he can help us,” said Jay.

 

“He’s…..”

 

“Windigo,” Kai finished.

 

“Wait, how do you know?” asked Jay.

 

“While he had me pinned to the wall, he lifted his mask,” said Kai, looking away.

 

“But How!? WHY?” exclaimed Jay.

 

“He felt betrayed and neglected by us, we pushed our brother away and now he’s our enemy,” said Cole, tears now freely spilling down his face.

 

“Why don’t you just shut up for once,” those words echoed in Cole’s head, the last time he saw his brother before everything went downhill, the last words he had said to Zane.

 

“Oh FSM, that's what he meant,” groaned Kai, before looking at the bandages on his torso, the lacerations weren’t random, they were specifically placed in the same spots that the mechanic had burned Zane when Kai had used him as a shield. They all sat on the ground, a defeated look crossed their faces.

 

“We can’t fall apart now,” said Jay “Sure, We’ve lost Zane and we’re separated from Lloyd and the others but that just means we have to fight harder to get home, I’m done falling apart, yeah this is our fault but we can’t quit,” said Jay.

 

“Since when are you the motivator?” asked Kai wryly.

 

“Without Nya, Pixal, or Zane, I have to be the smart one, I can’t afford to fall apart now, Cole you have to be our leader now, like you were before we met Lloyd, if Windigo wants a fight he’ll get one, but we have to get home,” said Jay.

 

 

Lloyd did the only sensible thing he could think of and bolted. He could hear Windigo growling behind him but also Harumi’s voice saying to wait for Garmadon’s orders. Lloyd found his mother and Nya with Pixal.

 

“Windigo is Zane,” gasped Lloyd, out of breath.

 

“No,” gasped Nya.

 

“Yeah,” said Lloyd.

 

“We have to get out of here and find somewhere safe,” said Misako.

 

“But where? If Windigo is Zane, he knows all our hideouts, backup plans, the location of the samurai X cave, all our allies, nowhere is safe,” said Nya.

 

“Then we need to find a place he won’t suspect.” Lloyd said. “If we’re gonna get Zane and my father back, we’re gonna need to find a place to hunker down and make a plan to take them down first.”

 

Together the four went searching for a place to hide, careful to avoid the SOG, which were terrorizing the streets. After a long search, they found a half destroyed and abandoned warehouse on the south end of the city. They inspected it carefully. Although dilapidated, it was still sturdy. Nya rested her hand on a wooden beam that supported the caving roof.

 

“Looks like this is our home now…” She said, looking around.

 

“It’ll have to work.” Lloyd said. “There’s nowhere else we can go.”

 

Meanwhile, Garmadon had made himself at home at the very top of Borg Tower, along with the SOG generals, Harumi, and Windigo. They looked on as the SOG asserted their power over the citizens, patrolling the streets, harassing passerbys, and Colossus knocking over buildings and crushing anything that stood in its way.

 

Windigo smiled. Ninjago had finally fallen to its knees. Now the people will finally get to feel what he felt, what it's like to beg, what it's like to feel hopeless, what it's like to feel unloved and unappreciated. Then, maybe then, they would understand the true extent of what the ninja and all these people have put him through.

 

Ultra Violet approached them. “The Commissioner has been captured, Lord Garmadon.” She said. Ultra had started a sort of game show where citizens could turn in dissenters of Garmadon for cash and other prizes, the grand prize going to wherever turned over the green ninja.

 

“Any sign of the green ninja?” Harumi asked. Ultra shook her head.

 

“I don’t understand.” Garmadon said. “I have all the power. He has nothing.”

 

“Perhaps some dissenters are harboring him.” Windigo suggested.

 

“Then we should squeeze the city until the traitors scurry out for us to crush him.” The dark lord said. Silence stretched between them before he turned back to Windigo.

 

“I believe I happen to know you from somewhere…” He said. Windigo nodded.

 

“I was one of the ninja once.” Windigo said.

 

Garmadon raised an eyebrow. “Oh?” He asked. “Is that so?”

 

Windigo lifted the mask to show Garmadon his true face. The warlord appeared shocked for a moment before cracking into a grin.

 

“Zane?” He asked. “Of all the ninja, you came to us? How?”

 

“I was betrayed.” Zane growled, the effects of the mask disfiguring his voice as he pulled it back over his head. “My so called ‘team’ made it very clear I was unloved and unwanted. When the SOG offered me a deal, I couldn’t refuse.”

 

Garmadon chuckled. “It is wonderful to see that you have finally chosen the right side.”

 

“Ninjago City has fallen.” Harumi said. “Their fear controls them. Anymore will make them desperate. Desperate people take desperate actions.”

 

“Perhaps I could be of use.” Echo said, stepping forward. “I will not rest until I find him, my lord. After all, I was built to be a cut above the rest.”

 

Garmadon thought for a moment. “Very well.” He said. “Go find my son.”

 

Echo nodded before heading off to carry out Garmadon’s orders. Windigo followed. He eventually caught up with him.

 

“Echo!” Windigo called.

 

Echo turned around. “Zane?” He asked. “What are you doing? Aren’t you staying with Garmadon?”

 

“I was,” Zane said. “But then as you were leaving, I had an idea.”

 

Echo raised an eyebrow. “And that is?”

 

A sinister grin spread across Zane’s face. “Remember, when I first came to you, and you saw the scar on me?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Remember what you said about dealing with the Mechanic?”

 

An equally evil smirk appeared on Echo as he caught Zane’s drift. “I see...what exactly are you proposing, brother?”

 

Zane’s maniacal grin got even wider. His eyes were glinting with malice.

 

“What do you say we go on a little hunt?”

 

 

The Mechanic looked around. He made sure there was nobody nearby before dashing across the street to the abandoned grocery store.

 

He tried the door but found it locked, so he slowly circled the outside for another way in. He found a door that was broken open in the back of the building near the dock where trucks would unload their cargo.

 

The Mechanic cast a cautious look around before slipping inside. Ever since the SOG and Garmadon had taken over Ninjago City, food was harder and harder to come by as the days wore on. People had resorted to stealing, attacking, and even killing others, just to eat. Who knows, there might be someone in here waiting to pounce on him right now.

 

Sensing no danger, the Mechanic carefully stepped over the shattered glass and debris that littered the floor. He looked around the store to see what he could find, placing it in his bag. It wasn’t much, but he had come up with a few cans of vegetables and a loaf of stale bread.

 

There was movement behind him and he caught sight of a shadow in the moonlight.

 

“Hello Mechanic,” came the malicious echoing voice of the ice demon that was now one of Garmadon’s most trusted advisors.

 

“Who are you?” asked the Mechanic, trying to find a way out. Windigo chuckled, a sound that sent shivers down The Mechanic’s spine. Bony claws lifted the terrified cyborg into the air by the fabric of his shirt.

 

“You’ll find out soon enough,” said the beast. Windigo summoned his dragon and flew to the top of the tower.

 

“My lord, this thing permanently disfigure my body in a previous battle, as your servant I humbly ask to be given the honor of publicly executing my personal enemies, both to show what happens to those who go against you and to enact revenge on those who have wronged me,” said Windigo.

 

“Granted,” said Garmadon with a malicious smirk.

 

“Harumi dear, get Ultra, I need this broadcasted,” said Windigo sweetly.

 

The Mechanic hung his head. Ultra Violet’s grin was wide as she turned the camera on Windigo.

 

“Citizens of Ninjago, Behold what happens to those who defy the emperor and cause harm to his allies,” said Windigo, holding the Mechanic in a bony claw. Windigo tore off the mechanical arm, ripped out all mechanical components of the man, ripped off his other arm then jammed his claws through the man’s eyes before tearing the Mechanic’s head from his body,, blood was spraying everywhere, coating Windigo in red. Then spikes of pure blue ice sprang up on the tower, the collective gasp of the city was audible as this revealed to the people who Windigo was. Windigo rammed the head of the mechanic onto the spike, on display for all Ninjago to see. The pure ice was now stained red. Then Windigo licked the blood from his hands and then faced the camera.

 

“Let this be a warning to all of you, just because you were an enemy of the ninja, does not mean you are our ally,” said Windigo.

 

Garmadon looked impressed and Ultra went back to her studio. Windigo smiled at his handiwork and then noticed the long black cloak that had suddenly appeared on him, a single blood red snowflake decorated the hem. He then noticed the blood that had seeped into the antlers of his mask, black stained with red, but they were also freely dripping blood without it drying up. A trail of blood and ice followed behind him wherever he stepped and the black cloak quickly became soaked and stained with blood. Garmadon just stared at the towering beast that was covered in blood. The fact that Windigo didn’t even bother trying to clean up the blood made even Garmadon a bit uneasy.

 

“He killed the Mechanic!” exclaimed Nya.

 

“This is bad, if the other members of the SOG are throwing people into Kryptarium but he is killing them, they are more merciful than him,” said Lloyd.

“I think we have to admit that, that is no longer Zane,” said Pixal sadly.

“He hasn’t been Zane since the night he left,” said Lloyd.

He had a sinking feeling that this was not going to end well. He went into the corner and put his head in his arms, his friends were dead, Zane was terrorising Ninjago worse than Garmadon, and Lloyd felt like it was all his fault. He started wracking his brain, trying to remember the last time he had hugged Zane, or when any of them had hugged Zane for that matter. He couldn’t remember! Tears began rolling down his cheeks, Zane had always been there to hold them and comfort any of them but none of them had ever held him when he was upset, the most comfort Zane had received from them was a sympathetic word from Nya and a pat on the back from Kai when the falcon had been shot down at the dark island, and that was years ago, come to think of it, Nya was the only person other than Cole to hug Zane when they found him on Chen’s island. Other than that, only Zane’s father had ever greeted Zane with a warm hug. No wonder Zane found comfort with Harumi, they shared similar pasts, both orphans, both never feeling loved by anyone other than their original parents. She showed him love and therefore he gave her his heart and devotion. Maybe Zane would spare Nya and kill everyone else, she was the only one of them Zane ever received even a small amount of care from. Lloyd felt his mother pull him into a hug, but his guilt ridden mind told him he didn’t deserve this, he didn’t deserve to have his family or any friends after the way he had treated Zane. Lloyd remembered when he got his father back from the Overlord, how not even a month later Zane lost his father, Zane didn’t even have Kai and Nya to sympathize with anymore since they now had both their parents. The ninja were supposed to be Zane’s family, but they failed to treat him right and now darkness was giving Zane the care and respect he deserved, what did that say about the ninja?

“I fucked up,” said Lloyd.

“We all did,” said Misako gently.

“NO! I’m supposed to be the leader, it was my responsibility to give the team what they needed, I let everyone treat Zane badly then I did it myself, this is my fault! Now because of how badly I screwed up, all of Ninjago is doomed!” said Lloyd pushing his mother away and facing the wall, tears streaming down his face as he punched a wooden crate to splinters. He didn’t care about his powers anymore, he only cared about how he had failed as a brother to the kindest person in the world that now, because of Lloyd’s failure, was so twisted by darkness he was no longer recognizable.

“What would master Wu say? What would the good side of my dad say? I failed as a leader, as friend, as a teammate, and as a brother, what would The FSM say if he knew his grandson had pushed the master of ice into darkness’s arms,” cried Lloyd.

“They would say to stop just blaming yourself and try to fix it,” said Nya firmly.

“HOW!? HOW CAN I POSSIBLY FIX THIS NYA? BECAUSE SOMETHING TELLS ME THAT APOLOGIZING ISN’T GOING TO DO ANYTHING FOR A MURDEROUS, TYRANNICAL MONSTER!” exclaimed Lloyd.

“No, it won’t, but it is a start, the hard part is going to be getting you in front of him without getting caught and without him killing you on sight,” said Nya.

“And then what? What can I possibly do to convince him to give up his place of power and all the love he could possibly desire, to come back to us when none of us have ever given him even close to what he has now!” said Lloyd.

“I don’t know,” said Nya.

Windigo stood on Harumi’s right, she was on Garmadon’s right. They were looking out over the city, car alarms sounded, fires from the street crackled, but other than that there was silence.

Windigo held a black snowflake rotating in his palm, enlarging it, sharpening the points and adding poison to it, the mask whispered to him constantly, telling him to seize his moment, Garmadon’s guard was down, he trusted Windigo, yet Windigo bided his time, his sixth sense told him something was going to happen soon and it was best to let events unfold.

 

The ninja were sifting among the destroyed remains of the Bounty. Their plan was to try and make a radio to possibly make contact with anyone in Ninjago and find a way back home.

 

Kai stepped carefully among the splintered wood and mangled metal, searching for any components for the radio. He pushed a broken beam out of his way.

 

“Ah! I found it!” He said. He picked up a sheet of foil. “Foil! We have foil!”

 

He raced back over to Cole and Jay, who were trying to put the radio together.

 

“I found foil!” He said.

 

Cole held out his hand, not taking his eyes off from the contraption he was working on. “Give it here.” He said. “Jay and I are almost done.”

 

A couple more screws and Cole rolled the foil into a long stick before placing it on the machine.

 

“Okay.” He said. “Lets see how this works.”

 

“Say if we’re lucky enough to reach someone in Ninjago.” Jay asked. “With Garmadon back, and with Zane...well, you know...is there even a home to get back to?”

 

“We have to try.” Kai said.

 

“We’re gonna get back to Ninjago.” Cole said, determined. “And we’re gonna face Zane and make things right.”

 

Cole pressed a button on the machine. There was nothing.

 

Kai growled and kicked the radio in anger. “We’re never getting home!”

 

“Heh, hey.” Jay said. “It could be worse…”

 

“Worse?!” Kai cried. “Worse?! How can it get worse?! A strange tea lady just marooned us in the Realm of Oni and Dragon! A realm mind you, that we know nothing about! We have no hope of getting home, and no idea of what’s here!”

 

“Uh, Oni and dragons, duh?”

 

“Alright Jay.” Cole said. “We’ve seen dragons sure, but what about the Oni? We haven’t seen one, and the only thing we know about them is that they destroy and Master Wu is part one.”

 

“I’m hungry.” Said the little boy. They’ve only been in the first realm for a short time, but during that time Wu had grown from a baby to a young child.

 

“We’re low on food, Master.” Kai told him. “How about you go find some?”

 

Wu crossed his arms defiantly. “No. I don’t wanna.”

 

Cole couldn’t help but grin. Despite being bratty, it was entertaining for him to see their sensei like this.

 

“Now come on, little master. Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today.”

 

Little Wu looked up at Cole. “Will you come with me?”

 

“Of course.” Cole said. He turned to the other two ninja. “You two fix up the radio. Wu and I’ll see what we can scrounge up.”

 

 

Kai and Jay had been trying to fix the radio while Cole and Wu were gone. A thick fog had rolled in. Kai was becoming frustrated with the contraption, while Jay had to hold him back several times because he was getting so fed up with it he wanted to blow it to pieces. After Kai’s tenth attempt of destroying it, Jay had calmed him down and they continued working on it together. Jay was screwing a few pieces into place when suddenly a crackling was heard.

 

“Have mark?” Came a scratchy voice over the speaker. “Waylay.”

 

Jay turned to Kai. “Is it working?”

 

Kai narrowed his eyes. “I think so…” He listened.

 

“In place-” said the voice again before white noise drowned it out. “Mark two. Waylay.”

 

“But it doesn’t sound like it's from Ninjago. It must be coming from here!”

 

Jay gasped. “Who do you think it is? Oni?”

 

“Mark one and two. Waylay now.”

 

Kai racked his brain. Mark and waylay. Those words sounded familiar. But from where? And what did they mean?

 

Suddenly it hit him. Mark was a word for target and waylay meant ambush. Which meant-

 

“We need to go now!” Kai said, jumping to his feet.

 

“What?! Where?!” Jay cried.

 

“Anywhere!” Kai yelled. “Run!”

 

Jay looked around wildly, seeing nothing in the thick fog. “Where are they?!”

 

“I can’t see-Ah!”

 

Kai cried out in surprise as suddenly something cold and hard snaked around his ankle. He fell to the ground.

 

“Kai!” Jay shouted. “No!”

 

“Jay!” Kai said before being pulled into the fog.

 

Jay opened his mouth to yell Kai’s name when something wrapped around his waist and pulled him to the ground and into the fog.

 

“Nooo!”

 

 

Meanwhile, Cole and Wu had been walking around the surrounding areas, searching every nook and cranny for any food, but so far were unsuccessful.

 

“It feels like we’ve been walking forever.” Wu whined. Cole turned to him and offered a smile. “Yeah? A ninja never quits.”

 

“I’m not a ninja.” Wu said, crossing his arms again. He stomped his foot. Cole raised an eyebrow and grinned.

 

“Oh really?” He said. “Well one day, you will be.”

 

They were walking by a dry riverbed when suddenly they heard chirping. Curious, the two peered in. Down below, they saw a baby dragon, happily helping itself to some melon like plants growing on vines.

 

Wu whimpered and hid behind Cole, who grinned.

 

“Aww, come on little Wu.” He said. “I was afraid of dragons too. But they’re our friends, see? Watch.” Cole climbed down the bank and slowly approached the dragon.

“Hey little fella! Whatcha eatin’?” He asked. The dragon turned and blinked at him, melon juice covering its face.

 

“Mmm, looks delicious.” Cole said as he got closer. Cautiously, he crouched down and tried to reach past the dragon for one of the uneaten fruits, when it spread its wings and hissed at him.

 

Cole backed up. “Oh, oh, oh. It’s okay buddy.” He told it. “We just want to share.”

 

Suddenly heavy footsteps shook the ground. From behind the baby dragon appeared a much larger one. And it looked very angry.

 

The larger dragon roared, lightning arcing around its head.

 

“Its a lightning dragon!” Wu cried, cowering.

 

“I can see that!” Cole yelled back.

 

The dragon opened its mouth and spat a bolt of electricity at Cole, who jumped out of the way just in time. He scrambled up the slope and grabbed Wu.

 

“You said they were our friends!” The boy said as Cole dragged him.

 

“I was wrong!” Cole shouted in a panicked frenzy. “They’re mean! Keep running! They’re alot bigger than I remember!”

 

Cole and Wu ran for their lives, the angry mother dragon in hot pursuit. The two jumped out of the way to avoid her angry bolts of lightning as they fled.

 

Cole looked around wildly for a place to hide. “We’ll take cover in, uh, uh….” He spied a cave. “There!”

 

Cole and Wu ran to it. The earth ninja shoved the child into the cave before slamming a fist into the ground. Rock shot from the ground and blocked off the cave entrance just as the dragon approached.

 

Cole and Wu held their breath. There was an angry roar from the lightning dragon before the thundering footsteps faded away. Cole and Wu sighed in relief.

 

Cole got up and brushed himself off. “Well, that was a learning experience!” He said. He saw Wu staring at the wall. “Say, whatcha looking at?”

 

“What’s this?” Wu asked, pointing to the wall. Cole walked up and examined it.

 

It was a painting done on the rock. The painting depicted a scene of dragons and two legged horned creatures with glowing eyes. The dragons and the creatures appeared to be fighting each other. Some dragons were flying, but others appeared to be in chains. What could this mean?

 

“Huh…” Cole said. “Looks like we’re not alone out here. We’ll need to warn the others.”

 

 

A ruckus and the shouting of voices made Misako get up and peer through the cracks of the warehouse. She gasped and turned back to Nya, Pixal, and Lloyd.

 

“We need to get out of here.” She said urgently.

 

“Like pronto!” Said Dareth, stumbling in through the back door.

 

Nya’s head shot up. “What is it?”

 

“Garmadon’s forces are sweeping the entire block.” Misako told them.

 

“And it’s not brooms and dustpans, it's a full on battalion!” Dareth cried.

 

The four quickly left the building and fled. But in the hurry to leave, Pixal had left her mech behind.

 

No sooner had the four left did the SOG storm the building. Looking around, they saw food and the Samurai X mech, citing clear evidence of Lloyd and the others being there.

 

Killow grinned and rubbed his hands together. “Ooh, they’re close.” He said, smiling. “Spread out and make a five block perimeter. We’ll box ‘em in.”

 

Lloyd, Miasko, Pixal, Dareth, and Nya raced through the ruins of the city, jumping and diving under debris. The SOG were closing in on them.

 

Nya led them down an alleyway but backed up when they saw the SOG. “We have to go the other way.” But Pixal was already waving her off.

 

“No, this way’s blocked too!”

 

Lloyd looked up at the rooftops. “Can we make it?”

 

“You’d have to carry me…” Dareth panted.

 

“There’s no time.” Miasko said. “She grabbed Dareth’s arm. “Hide.”

 

They dove behind a pile of trashbags just as the SOG passed by.

 

Killow looked around. “Let’s keep moving!” He said.

 

They left, and the ninja and others breathed a sigh of relief.

 

“That was close.” Lloyd said. He jumped up. “Come on!”

 

They raced through the streets and alleyways, when they came upon a mountain of broken wood. It was the Bounty.

 

Lloyd gasped. “The Bounty. This is where it was destroyed…”

 

The green ninja walked silently among the wreckage, the scene of the Colossus crushing the ship playing over and over again in his mind. He felt a lump in his throat and his eyes burn as he found a portrait of them. A painful reminder that nearly all his friends were dead. And one was consumed by darkness and hellbent on Ninjago’s destruction.

 

Lloyd looked at Zane’s face through the broken glass. A face so sweet, so innocent, and so loving and kind. Back then, if you were to tell Lloyd that same face would be the one hiding under the Mask of Tyranny, spilling the blood of both the innocent and criminals alike, he would have never believed it to save his life.

 

But now it was all too real. Lloyd had seen the bloodlust, the hatred, the hunger for vengeance in his glowing purple eyes. Zane wasn’t Zane anymore. He was a monster.

 

A tear slipped down Lloyd’s cheek. Why had he been so cruel to him? Why had he been so blind? How could he have let it get this far? Zane, the white ninja, the one who stood for peace, freedom, and courage in the face of all who threatened Ninjago, had now become the very thing he swore to destroy. And why? Because Lloyd denied him the love and respect he deserved.

 

Lloyd fell to his knees, clutching the picture to his chest. “I-I’m so sorry…” He choked. “I failed you…” He looked at the picture again. “I failed all of you…” He stared at Zane again.

 

“But especially you…”

 

Lloyd began to cry quietly. Nya sighed and rested a hand on Lloyd’s shoulder.

 

“Lloyd, I know it hurts…” Nya said, tears of her own falling down her face. “But we’re all that we have left. We need to move on…”

 

Lloyd dropped the portrait and went to go pick it up, when he spied a leaf sticking out from the boards. Curious, he picked it up.

 

Pixal walked up behind him. “Is that-” She began. “That appears to be a tea leaf…” She said. “Traveller’s tea.”

 

Lloyd stood up and looked around. “I only see one thruster…” He said. “Do you see the other?”

 

Nya looked around as well. “No…” She said. She walked further amongst the wreckage. She gasped. “But there’s only one sail! There’s the anchor, but no rudder. There’s only half the ship! Which means-”

 

“The other half is still somewhere.” Misako said.

 

“T-they could still be alive!” Lloyd cried. They cheered, but a maniacal laugh suddenly cut them short.

 

Lloyd whipped around to see Ultra standing on the wreckage. SOG members began to surround them.

 

Dareth got into a stance and pulled on his hood. “Everyone get outta here! I’ll hold them off!”

 

“Dareth!” Nya yelled. “There’s too many!”

 

Killow laughed. “We got you now, green ninja!”

 

Echo grinned to himself. He pulled off his biker helmet. “Remember me, water ninja?”

 

Nya looked and gasped. “Echo?! You on the SOG? Of all things?! Why?”

 

“Same reason why my brother is Garmadon’s right hand man.” He spat. He placed the helmet back on his head and lunged at Lloyd, but was suddenly knocked back as a huge metal fist punched him in the face, knocking him out.

 

“Back in Metalonia, it is not polite to scare weak man.” Said Karloff.

 

Nya gaped. “Karloff?”

 

A black cloud swirled around next to the master of metal before poofing into a human, revealing Shade. He shot Nya a sly smile. “Hello gorgeous.”

 

Griffin raced up next to them. “It’s been awhile!” He said with a grin. “But it looks like you could use some help!”

 

A garbage truck pulled up behind them, Skylor at the wheel. “Get in!” She said, waving to them.

 

“Skylor!” Lloyd said. They ran to her.

 

“How did you know?” Nya asked. Skylor smiled.

 

“Let’s just say we’ve had our ear on the ground.” She said.

 

The elemental masters fought off the SOG with ease. Lloyd turned to Pixal. “We need the mech!” he told her. She nodded and ran to retrieve the mech while Lloyd and the other elemental masters got onto the garbage truck. Skylor floored the gas and they sped off, out of reach of the SOG.

 

 

Echo slowly made his way up the steps to the top of Borg Tower, rubbing his face and feeling the dents where he had been punched by the master of metal. The rest of the SOG followed behind him. They had failed to capture the green ninja and now had to report back to Garmadon, who would undoubtedly punish them for doing so.

 

They made it to the top. Garmadon turned to them, smiling expectantly, but face falling as he saw that Lloyd was not among them.

 

“Where is my son?” The dark lord growled. Killow hung his head.

 

“I apologize Lord Garmadon, but he escaped.” He said.

 

Windigo saw the dent in his brother’s face and rushed over. He gently took Echo’s head in his hands, examining the damage.

 

“What happened?” He asked him. “How bad is it?”

 

“T-the master of metal attacked me.” Echo told him. “It’s bad, but it can be fixed…”

 

“Who failed to capture my son?!” Garmadon boomed. Echo cast one last look at his brother before stepping forward and bowing his head.

 

“Forgive me, my lord.” He said. “When I was trying to capture him, I was overwhelmed by the presence of the elemental masters. We were not expecting them to reinforce the green ninja.”

 

Garmadon snarled in anger. He shot his hand forward. Echo gasped and his hands flew around his neck as he was lifted into the air by an invisible force. He was choking and fighting to breathe, unable to move.

 

Windigo gasped in horror. “No!”

 

Harumi raced up to Garmadon’s side. “He did everything he could! He wasn’t expecting the elemental masters to help your son! Please, he’s a machine, built to follow orders!” She begged. She saw Zane glare at her for saying this. She’d explain later.

 

“P-please!” Echo sputtered, his voice cracking. “I-I won’t fail you this time! I-I’ll look for him again! Give m-me a second ch-chance! Just don’t-” Echo was cut off and cried in pain as his exoskeleton began to crack.

 

Windigo lunged at Garmadon. “Stop!” He cried, but Harumi held him back.

 

“Don’t!” She told him. “If you get in the way, you’ll be next! I don’t want you to get destroyed!”

 

Windigo watched helplessly as he watched his brother slowly begin to fall apart while screaming in agony.

 

“There are no second chances!” Garmadon shouted. “You have failed me, and now you will pay the price!” He curled his hand into a fist.

 

“NO!” Windigo yelled, breaking free of Harumi and racing to Garmadon to stop him. But he was too late.

 

One last horrible cry of anguish ripped from Echo’s throat before he exploded into pieces.

 

“ECHO!” Windigo screamed in terror as he watched his destroyed brother fall to the floor.

Chapter Text

It was almost instantaneous, Zane’s scream coated the tower in a thick blanket of ice, Garmadon, who hadn’t been paying attention to Windigo, was now frozen in place as spikes of ice grew toward his head. WIndigo was glowing, his cape billowing in a breeze of his own creation. Storm clouds rolled in and the wind was whipping, Garmadon couldn’t move, he was frozen to the ground with spikes of ice that inched ever closer to his head.

 

“You think that you can kill those I care about just because your son’s allies outsmarted my brother. You should also know better than to trust your allies that hold powers, well Garmadon, you have sealed your DOOM!” shouted Zane with an echoing voice.

 

He began to pace around Garmadon and then started to sing as ice encased the Lord of Darkness.

 

Look out at it,
The world you tried to conquer
The sheer irony of it all
That the way this world falls
When you truly thought you’d won
Yet you know I hold
A power as dark as it is cold

(Chorus)
Those who are broken beyond repair
Desperate to be treated fair
Will stop at nothing once they have that which they sought
And shadow will kneel before the ice

(Verse 2)
A world in your own image
A shadow of your ego
I’ve known hatred and despair
I’ve been cast aside with a glare
And that which once used to bring me pain
Now to you, I’ll make it plain
Why you do not trust anything
(spoken) or anyone He lifted Garmadon’s chin so they were eye to eye then flicked his hand away, scratching Garmadon’s chin drawing purple blood. Before pacing again

 

(Chorus)
Those who are broken beyond repair
Desperate to be treated fair
Will stop at nothing once they have that which they sought
And shadow will kneel before the ice

 

(Verse 3)
Now
Those drunk on their own power
Are oh so quick to cower
In the wake of someone who eclipses them
Now your eyes will stare eternally
At what darkness suffering can create.

 

(Chorus)
Those who are broken beyond repair
Desperate to be treated fair
Will stop at nothing once they have that which they sought.
And shadow will kneel before the ice

(Verse 4)
And now by taking him from me
By neglecting reason once again,
You have only sealed your doom

Zane’s song echoed through the city, every screen being hacked to show Garmadon’s fall, a fleeting hope spread through Lloyd that Zane might have had a change of heart but his song washed that hope away.

 

Once again, darkness was no match for ice. At the end of the song Garmadon was completely encased in clear ice, turned into a new throne that Zane sat on to look out over his new city. Ice encased each building, the holographic image that normally was in the arch at the top of Borg Tower reappeared for an instant then changed into a glowing purple screen with a deer skull shape in the center, but it was no ordinary skull shape, it was a sheet of ice suspended in mid air that was all seeing. Snow had begun falling and the air was frigid.

 

“Harumi my darling, have Ultra bring me the prisoner Ronin and the Commisioner, and add the stupid brown ninja Dareth to her list of targets,” said Windigo, A purple snowflake had appeared on his robes.

 

“Yes my love, right away,” said Harumi, in shock at the sheer power Zane had just shown. He stared out over the city. He would show this city what a real tyrant could do. He made several more ice spikes beside the one that had the Mechanic’s head on it.

 

“I know your allies Lloyd, don’t think that you are safe just because I got rid of your father,” said Zane.

 

Soon both Ronin and the Police Commissioner were on their knees. The screens in the city flickered on again and The resistance watched with bated breath. As windigo approached Ronin

 

“You sold me to Chen, an act I will never forgive, for your past transgressions of being a con artist dickhead, you will die,” said Windigo.

 

His hand shot out and spikes of the black and purple ice rammed themselves through Ronin’s chest, piercing his heart. Then Windigo tore the head off the corpse, blood splattering everywhere. He placed the head on the spike next to the Mechanic’s before turning to the commissioner.

 

“You were always so useless, how does it feel that the ninja always had to step in and do your job when you swore an oath to serve and protect, you sat in your office doing nothing while men braver than you fought, for your petty incompetence you too shall die!” said Windigo.

 

Venomous spikes pierced the Commissioner's stomach, blood leaking onto the floor, he was still alive until Windigo ripped of his head. Two more red snowflakes adorned the hem of Windigo’s cloak, a kill count. Blood dripped more readily from the antlers of the mask.

 

Two lower ranking members took the bodies away as the Commissioner’s head was impaled next to Ronin’s.

 

The colossi had fallen when Garmadon was defeated. Zane blasted the street below with ice, forming the shape of an impossibly large dragon, Boreal had risen. It’s blue eyes glowed before Zane summoned his power dragon, the now living construct of ice fused with Yuki Onna. There in the streets of the city stood an ice dragon five times the size of any other. It’s scales were white and purple, it had black armor and jet black soulless eyes. It’s roar echoed through the silent city. These last two deaths had increased Windigo’s power by an even larger margin. He looked at his new dragon.

 

“I name you Corbin,” said Windigo. The snow was falling rapidly, only a fool, or a ninja would dare try to traverse it.

 

“This is bad,” said Nya after a moment of all of them staring at the TV. Then Ultra’s show came on.

 

“A special target for today’s prize, Our new lord Windigo wishes to see his old friend, Dareth, The Brown Ninja,” said Ultra with a fake sweetness, putting Dareth’s picture on the board.

 

“And now it just got worse,” said Lloyd. Dareth had fainted.

 

“Why Brown Ninja on floor?” asked Karloff.

 

“Windigo had Ultra Violet put a bounty on his head,” said Lloyd sadly.

 

“Karloff know Windigo once Ice Ninja, Ice ninja always nice why Ice ninja now evil?” asked Karloff.

 

Lloyd looked away sadly. His failure would get them all killed.

 

“The sooner you are honest with the others about your mistakes, the sooner you can regain trust,” said Mystake.

 

“It’s my fault…” Lloyd said. “I’m the reason why Zane turned to the darkness.”

 

There were collective gasps from the elemental masters.

 

“What?” Skylor asked, in disbelief. “You pushed Zane to this point?”

 

Lloyd nodded sadly.

 

“But how?” She asked. “Zane was so kind and forgiving, what could you have possibly done to turn him into...into…” She struggled to find the right words. “That?”

 

“When one is deprived of love, they are desperate to seek it, even if it’s the darkest of enemies.” Mystake said. The elemental masters were as confused as before. Lloyd sighed. He would just have to give it to them straight.

 

“Me and the others drove Zane away.” He said. “We didn’t mean to, but we didn’t realize how badly we had been treating him until it was too late. He ran off with the SOG and Harumi because they promised him better. And they did. And now, because of me, he’s turned into a bloodthirsty tyrant that’s even more powerful than my father.” Lloyd hung his head in shame as there was a collective silence among the masters. “And I don’t know if I can make things right. It’s like he’s too far gone to save. It’s like he’s not Zane anymore…”

 

Skylor looked around and stepped forward, resting a hand on Lloyd’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Lloyd. We all make mistakes. The first big step towards fixing everything is realizing you were in the wrong, and you’ve already done that. And you won’t be alone.” She waved her hand at the elemental masters and others gathered in the garbage depot. “We’ll be here to fight with you every step of the way.”

 

 

Cole and Wu left the cave once the coast was clear. They discovered more fruits nearby and happily helped themselves, relieved to finally have a full stomach. Then they picked as much as their arms would carry and walked back to the campsite.

 

“Hey Kai! Jay!” Cole called. “We’ve got food!”

 

They entered the campsite and were confused to find no one there. Cole set down the food and looked around. “Jay? Kai? Where are you?”

 

Little Wu pulled at his arm. “Look!”

 

Cole looked at where Wu was pointing at the ground.

 

“Tire tracks?” He asked himself. “What in the world?”

 

He looked around and saw that there were multiple sets of tracks. He also saw Wu begin to follow them.

 

“Where are you going?” Cole asked.

 

“To find our friends.” He said, not stopping for Cole.

 

“Hey, little master! Wait for me!” Cole said, running after him.

 

 

Neither Jay or Kai could see what was around them. After they had been captured, they were chained and blindfolded, and were now being loaded off of vehicles and led by someone. Kai strained his ears, trying to see where they were by sound. He heard various chatter and the clinking of metal. He assumed that they were in some sort of base or lair of some sort.

 

They were walking when suddenly someone behind them tried pushing Kai to his knees.

 

“Hey, watch it!” He growled. He fought against his captor, but was easily restrained. He was pushed to his knees.

 

The blindfold was lifted, and Kai saw Jay also chained and on his knees. They looked at each other with wide eyes.

 

“Lost, are we?” Said a deep malicious voice.

 

Kai and Jay looked up. Standing before them was a man. His face was painted white, a large jagged scar running across his face, discoloring one of his eyes. He wore a set of armor with a cape and a tophat. He sat on a throne adorned with what appeared to be large dragon bones and held a staff. Looking around, Kai and Jay also saw more people dressed similarly. The people laughed.

 

Kai saw the bones. “His throne.” He growled. “I already hate him.”

 

“They don’t look as I imagined.” The man said. “Where did you find them?”

 

“To the south.” Said the person behind them. “They were building fortifications.”

 

“We took them by surprise.” Said another. “There may be more of their kind.”

 

The man sitting on the throne leaned forward with interest. A wicked grin on his face.

 

“Is that true?” He asked. “Are there more of your kind?”

 

“Our kind?” Jay asked.

 

“No.” Kai said. “We came alone.” He whispered sidelong to Jay. “Don’t reveal anything.”

 

“See how they lie?” The man said mockingly. “See their treachery. They cannot help it, it’s in their nature.” He leaned forward even closer.

 

“But there is one you cannot deceive.”

 

The man straightened up, his grin getting wider. “Throw the Oni into The Pit!” He declared.

 

The others around them erupted into cheers. “Slab knows! Slab knows! Slab knows!” They chanted.

 

“What?!” Jay cried. He fought against his chains. “We’re not Oni! We don’t even know what they are!”

 

“Oni?!” Kai said. “You’re making a mistake!” He yelled as he and Jay were led away.

 

The leader only laughed.

 

Kai and Jay were led out of the throne room and walked through a part of the settlement. It was mainly built with giant bones, chains, and cloth. As they walked down the path, they saw a fire dragon being led in chains up to a forge. It’s handler slammed a hammer on the side of its head, making it breathe fire into the furnace.

 

Jay turned to Kai. “They’re enslaving the dragons for their powers?” He asked him.

 

“Seems like it…” Kai said. “Seems like their life is built around hunting dragons and using them.”

 

One of the people ran up to them. “Ah, welcome to the Dead’s End!” He said. “May I have your parts when you expire?”

 

“At least we know what to call this dump.” Kai told Jay.

 

“Okay, but what do you make of this ‘Slab’ and the ‘Pit’?” Jay asked him. Kai shrugged.

 

“No idea.” Kai said. “Guess we’ll figure it out when we get there…”

 

 

Zane slumped into his throne, he took off the mask in order to feel the frigid breeze on his face and feel something other than burning hatred and for his thoughts to be his own. He flipped the mask to the top of his head. He placed his head in his now normal hands and felt hot tears running down his cheeks, bombarded by so many emotions, grief over losing his brother, rage at Garmadon, and...pride? He sighed and barely heard Harumi tell the other SOG members to leave and guard the tower, so they would not see their new emperor’s moment of weakness. He only noticed when she pulled him gently into her embrace. He rested his head on her chest as she whispered sweet words of love into his ear.

 

“I feel as though I am being punished for existing, I lose everything no matter what side I am on, good or evil I still lose my family,” whispered Zane.

 

“You still have me,” said Harumi softly.

 

“I don’t know if anything I do matters anymore, this mask, it’s suffocating yet has such a strong hold on me I can’t bear to be without it, my actions don’t even feel like just revenge anymore, I feel no remorse over those I have killed but at the same time I still feel love for you and grief for my brother, I don’t even know who I am anymore,” whimpered Zane.

 

“Emotions are confusing, yet they make us who we are,” said Harumi.

 

Zane just relaxed in her embrace before putting the mask back on, hate and lust were all he felt now but he remained in her arms, her misguided, yet tender heart being the only form of comfort a monster could accept.

 

Harumi looked up at her lover, a malicious smile playing on her lips.

 

“I know what will make you feel better.” She said.

 

“Hm? What is that my love?”

 

“How about we get rid of those awful snakes?”

 

Zane grinned, a sinister smile spreading. “I’d thought you’d never ask.”

 

...

 

The Serpentine were a peaceful race.

 

Ever since the final defeat of the Overlord, the Serpentine had redeemed themselves after helping the citizens of Ninjago city escape his wrath, and lived underground beneath the city, in the former Stone Army tomb. To the humans, it wasn’t exactly an ideal place to live, but the Serpentine were pretty content, not having to worry about being forced to be locked up underground and they could peacefully live alongside the people on their own free will.

 

Well, that was about to change.

 

Skales and Selma were walking along with their son, Skales Jr, hand in hand, enjoying the time together.

 

Suddenly there was a commotion. They looked around. At the entrance of their home, SOG members had flooded in and were grabbing Serpentine and dragging them out of the tomb. Skales gasped.

 

“Ssstay here.” He told his wife and son before rushing over. He grabbed a Venomari child that was being taken from its mother out of the hands of the SOG. He placed the child behind him defensively.

 

“What’sss the meaning of this?” He demanded. More SOG flooded in armed with weapons and were cornering the snakes.

 

There was a cry of fear that Skales knew all too well. He turned and saw two SOG manhandling Selma while another was wrestling Skales Jr.

 

“Skales!” Selma cried.

 

“Mama!” Yelled her child as they were ripped apart.

 

“Leave my wife and kid alone!” Skales shouted. He was about to lunge at the men who had taken them when suddenly a strong hand yanked him back. He wheeled around and was faced by Killow.

 

“What is the meaning of thisss?” Skales demanded. He fought against Killow’s hold. “What are you doing?”

 

“Emperor Windigo demands that any and all Serpentine be brought before him.” Killow answered. “He has a bone to pick with you.”

 

He marched off, Skales in tow. The Serpentine general could only watch helplessly as the SOG rounded up the snakes, chasing them and poking and prodding them with their weapons like animals.

 

“Who isss thisss Windigo? What doesss he want with usss?” asked Skales.

 

Killow grinned, in a not-so-good way. “You’ll see…”

 

The serpentine were driven from the tomb and above ground into the streets of Ninjago City, where they were marched to the central park in the middle of the city, which was lined with a wall of ice. They were shocked to see the entire city covered in snow and ice, and the cold wind that blew through the air. What kind of being had the power to cause all of this?

 

“Women and children to the left!” Killow yelled over the group. “Men to the right! Those who don’t comply will be exterminated!”

 

The SOG set to work separating the serpentine, cries of despair as families were separated.

 

Skales Jr. clung to his dad. “I don’t wanna go!” He wailed.

 

Skales hugged his son tight. “Itsss okay, my child.” He told him, even though he knew it clearly wasn’t. “We’ll be alright. Go with your mother.”

 

Skales handed his son over to Selma, who quickly embraced him before harshly ripped from his arms as an SOG member dragged her and a crying Skales Jr. over to where the other mothers and children were.

 

Skales watched Selma disappear, questions buzzing through his head. What was going on? Who was this Windigo? What did he have planned?

 

From his spot on the top of Borg Tower, Windigo watched the serpentine being sorted far below. He grinned as he heard their cries. They too would know what it feels like to be kicked around, to be disregarded, to be thought of nothing more than a pile of dirt.

 

He had wanted to make all of Ninjga feel what he felt. And that wasn’t about to be limited to humans. Any and all living things that could feel some sort of pain would feel it under his wrath to the fullest extent.

 

After a while, a voice came over his comlink.

 

“Emperor Windigo.” Killow said. “They are ready.”

 

Windigo grinned. He turned to Harumi and waved his hand, a black ball gown style dress manifested itself on her made of his own black ice, pale blue crystals of pure ice were speckled all over the new gown, purple snowflakes made of frozen poison shimmered on the hem, sleeve cuffs and neckline.

“Oh Zane, it's gorgeous,” gasped Harumi.

“Only the best for my beloved Nightshade,” grinned Windigo.

 

“Emperor Windigo?” Kiilow’s voice said again. “Can you read me?”

 

Windigo turned back out to the city. “I’m on my way.”

 

He whistled, and Corbin winged down from the cloudy skies above, landing next to her master. Zane scratched her chin affectionately before climbing up onto her back and soaring down to the park below.

 

The serpentine looked on in awe as the massive dragon landed in the snow in front of them. Corbin dipped her neck, allowing the emperor to slide off her back.

 

The serpentine couldn’t help but cower. His cloak fluttered in the wind. His purple glowing eyes gleamed in the darkness of the winter from behind the skull mask. The blood that dripped from the antlers stained the pure snow red. Hate radiated from him with each slow and deliberate step he took as he looked over the serpentine.

 

Skales growled. “Who are you?” He demanded. Windigo locked eyes with the snake.

 

“Your new emperor.” He hissed. “And you will do everything I say when and how I say it. So SILENCE!”

 

Skales shut his mouth and gulped. He was in no position to disobey.

 

“You see, for many years, I suffered.” Windigo began. “I went many years without being loved. Many years without being seen as an equal. Many years questioning whether or not I belonged. I would give almost everything I had to save Ninjago. Yet no matter what I sacrificed, whether that be so called “loved ones” or even my own life, I was always ignored. I suffered in silence. But that all changes now.”

 

“Now, I will suffer no longer. And no longer will I be silent. I refuse to be ignored, and I refuse to be seen as inferior. All of Ninjago will feel what I had to endure, starting with you!”

 

Skales could feel his face pale. By the look of flaming vengeance in Windigo’s eyes, he knew what was about to happen next.

 

“I know you want your share of the fun, too.” Windigo said to Corbin. “You take care of the women and their offspring.” He turned back to Skales and the other serpentine men.

 

“I’ll take these ones for myself.”

 

Windigo advanced on the serpentine, a black sword made of solid ice materializing in his hand. The look on Windigo’s face was unmistakable. He had an insatiable thirst for bloodshed that needed to be satisfied.

 

Corbin roared and spread her wings, making the serpentine women and their children scream and cower in fear. Skales watched in horror as the dragon used its frozen breath to encase them in black ice.

 

Windigo nodded in approval before turning back to the remaining snakes. He smiled viciously.

 

“Now it’s my turn.”

 

“N-no, please!” Skales said, holding up his hands in surrender. “We-”

 

He was cut off as Windigo’s blade cleaved through his throat. He fell to the ground, blood coming out in spurts, staining the white snow and Windigo’s face.

 

The Emperor laughed with a sick joy as the feeling of growing power coursed through his veins. With each swing of his sword, more innocent serpentine were mowed down, dead or left to bleed out in agony. Soon the snow became slick with blood, and a sickly metallic stench hung in the air. The SOG watched as Windigo hacked away. The bodies of snakes littered the ground. Decapitated, dismembered, disemboweled, cleaved in half, or mutilated beyond recognition. And with every serpentine that fell from under his blade, the stronger and more bloodthirsty Windigo became.

 

“Collect the heads and place them on the tower spikes beside the others, all will see my power,” cackled Windigo “Corbin, hunt the last of the Anacondrai, it is time Pythor P. Chumsworth paid for his actions of aiding the Overlord,”

 

Corbin growled obediently before flying off to fulfill her master’s command. He turned back and looked at his handiwork.

 

Per his demand, the other SOG had begun collecting the heads of the serpentine. The decapitated bodies lay strewn about. The snow was so soaked in blood, it was no longer even snow. It had become the frozen lifeblood of his victims. His cloak now covered in the red snowflakes of his death count.

 

“Emperor,” Killow asked. “What would you like us to do with the bodies?”

 

Windigo swept his gaze across the carnage, seeing the bodies, limbs, and entrails.

 

“Pile it all up.” He said. “It will be a reward for Corbin when she returns, for a job well done.”

 

He returned to the tower, where Harumi was waiting. She had watched the bloodbath from down below, but it wasn’t until she saw her lover covered from head to foot in the serpentine’s blood and the number of snowflakes on his cloak that she realized the true extent of the mass murder he just committed. She grinned, they had released the Devourer in the first place and now she had her revenge and all it had taken was a small suggestion to her lover.

 

Zane walked over and sat on his throne, gesturing for Harumi to come. She did, and Zane picked her up and set her down on his lap holding her close.

 

“That was exhilarating…” Zane said, a giddy smile on his face. Harumi rubbed his cheek, which was still stained with Skales’s blood.

 

“It was long overdue.” She said, grinning as Zane leaned into her touch. “How do you feel?”

 

“Better than I ever had before.” He answered. It was true. With each beat of his power source, he could feel the unbridled power of his abilities thrum through his veins. He felt an icy fire burn in his chest, a fire that begged to be unleashed. He held up his hand. The ice that sprouted from his hand didn’t even look like ice. It was a cold flame, attesting to the new level of power Zane had reached.

 

Zane smiled and gently lifted Harumi off of him.

“My Darling this is a momentous occasion for us both, would you honor me with a dance?” asked Zane

“Of course,” said Harumi, taking his bony hand and allowing him to lead her in a fast step dance across the top of the tower, a song playing on a distant radio decided their movements. He twirled her around the tower as the tempo of the song shifted, the lyrics speaking of needing a hero yet neither dancer needed anyone but the other.

 

 

As it turns out, Kai and Jay found out what “the Pit” and “Slab” were soon enough, when they found themselves in an arena surrounded by cheering dragon hunters and face-to-face with an angry earth dragon. It roared at them.

 

“Uh, still don’t want us to use our powers?” Jay asked as they backed up from the advancing dragon.

 

“You’ve seen the way they treat the dragons.” Kai answered. “Just imagine how’d they treat us!”

 

Jay gulped. “Fair point.”

 

From his throne up in the stands, the Iron Baron leaned forwards to get a better view of the fight.

 

“Finally.” He said. “I’ve spent my whole life wanting to see the true face of an Oni. and now I get two. Slab will wipe the smirks off the faces of those dirty shapeshifters.”

 

Meanwhile, Cole and Wu were hunkered down on the edge of the dragon hunter’s camp, spying on them.

 

“Kai and Jay went in there.” Cole said, pointing at the arena. “But I don’t think they’re going to see a show.”

 

“Then we’re gonna have to go and break them out!” Wu said. He jumped out from their hiding spot, but Cole caught him.

 

“Are you crazy?” He asked him, putting him down. “There’s hunters everywhere and if we get caught, it’s over for us. We’re gonna have to wait it out.”

 

“Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today.” Said Wu

 

Cole sputtered. “D-did you just use my own words against me?”

 

“They were my words first.” Wu smirked. “You just borrowed them.”

 

“I’m not putting anything off.” Cole said. “I’m just trying to come up with a plan.”

 

Wu reached into his back pocket and pulled out a telescope, peering through it.

 

“Since when did you get that?”

 

“I borrowed it. Just like how you borrowed my wisdom.”

 

Cole shook his head in annoyance. Wu scanned the camp before pointing to a clothesline with clothes hanging from it. “There. We can use disguises.”

 

“Uh, I don’t know.” Cole said. “I’ve tried, but they’ve never worked well in the past-”

 

He looked down and saw that Wu was gone. He looked around and saw him running down the hill.

 

“Master Wu!” Cole cried. “Get back here! Wait up!”

 

He caught up with Wu, who snatched the clothes off the line and dove behind a bush. Cole followed.

 

“Here!” Wu whispered. He threw some clothes at Cole. “Put these on!”

 

Quickly they donned the clothes. They looked just like the dragon hunters. No one would suspect a thing. They went out from the bush and made their way to the arena. Sure enough, Kai and Jay were fighting an earth dragon down in the arena.

 

“There they are.” Wu said.

 

“I see them too.” Cole replied. “But we’re in the cheap seats. We’re gonna have to get closer in order to help them.”

 

The dragon snapped and slashed at the ninja, who dove out of the way to avoid its attack.

 

“See?” Said the Iron Baron. “Slab knows. Slab can smell Oni blood.” He stood up.

 

“Change for us, Oni!” He yelled. “Change for us and show us your ugly faces!”

 

“Uh, a little help?!” Kai yelled. “A sword, a shield, a bow, anything?”

 

From the crowd, a few members of the audience threw weapons, but they were just rusty knives and hammers and other weapons of the like. Useless against a giant earth dragon.

 

“Seriously?!” Kai said. “How do you guys live out here?!”

 

“We need to subdue it!”

 

“There’s nothing but rock and sand! If you want me to hold it with my bare hands just ask!” m

 

“Kai! Jay!” Said a voice above them.

 

The two looked up and saw Cole and Master Wu sitting on top of one of the massive chains that criss-crossed the top of the arena.

 

“Cole! Wu!” Jay said. “You’re here!”

 

“We’re here to help.” Wu said, beaming.

 

“Then you should go!” Kai said, dodging another of Slab’s attacks.

 

“Wait, what?!” Cole asked. “Why?”

 

“Master Wu is ¾ths Oni! He’s only making it worse!”

 

The dragon slammed its tail into the wall trying to get Jay, shaking the arena and almost making Cole fall.

 

“Jay’s right, we should go!”

 

“Wait, but I want to help!” Young Wu said. He grabbed some of the chains dangling from the air and threw them down into the arena. “There, now we can go!”

 

“Now at least they have something to work with!” Cole said. He grabbed Wu’s arm. “Now let's go!”

 

Kai grabbed one end of the chain and tossed the other to Jay. “Here! Let’s take him down!”

 

The two charged at the dragon, swinging the chain.

 

The Iron Baron snarled and stood up. “Where did they get that?!”

 

Kai ducked under Slab’s swiping claws and threw the chain at his foot. It wrapped around and Jay jumped and ducked under Slab, winding the chain through the other three. Together, the two pulled the chain with all their might and the dragon fell to the ground, unable to get up. Jay and Kai high fived.

 

“We did it!” Kai said.

 

Suddenly Slab moved from behind them and drew in a breath, hissing between his teeth. Jay knew what was about to happen.

 

“Kai!” Jay cried. “Look out!”

 

He jumped in front of Kai and electrocuted Slab, knocking him out before he could blast Kai.

 

Suddenly a hushed silence fell over the crowd as they saw Slab go limp after Jay’s attack. The Iron Baron gasped.

 

“They have elemental powers! They know the ways of the FSM! Hunt them down!” He demanded.

 

“Hunt them down!” said a dragon hunter.

 

“Hunt them down!” Another repeated.

 

Jay and Kai got back to back, summoning their elements as the arena flooded with dragon hunters with their weapons.

 

Jay gulped. “Oh, I wish Zane was here!”

Chapter Text

When Corbin arrived back at the tower with a squirming Pythor in her claws she waited expectantly for her master.

 

“GET YOUR CLAWS OFF ME!” screamed Pythor. The dragon let go and flew off into the corner of the tower.

 

Then the last of the Anacondrai saw the most disgusting sight he had ever borne witness to. The severed heads of every male serpentine on spikes of ice, the dragon that had captured him, feasting on the pile of decaying bodies in a corner. And then he saw it, the most terrifying beast his reptilian eyes had ever seen, the murderous beast of legend, The Windigo.

 

“Hello Pythor,” came the creature’s echoing voice, the woman beside the beast had a murderous grin on her face and a serrated sword in her hand.

 

“Who are you, what do you want with me!?” screeched Pythor.

 

“I am King Windigo, Commander of Winter, Emperor of Ninjago, Killer of Snakes, wielder of Tyranny, and I want revenge!” said Windigo.

 

“I’ve never done anything to you!” screeched Pythor.

 

“You released the devourer, which caused the death of my lady’s parents, you brought the Overlord back which caused my death! YOU TOOK EVERYTHING FROM ME!” said Windigo.

 

“I don’t even know who you are!” shouted Pythor, the smell of rotting corpses in the air making him slightly nauseous, he started backing away from the monster in front of him, only stopping when he was at the edge of the tower. Windigo flipped the mask onto his head, revealing his true identity.

 

“Oh fuck,” said Pythor.

 

Windigo put the mask back on and made another sword, this time with a serrated edge. Harumi ran forward and rammed her sword in and out of Pythor’s chest ten times, blood splattering everywhere. Then Windigo pounced, pushing his own blade into Pythor’s sternum and beginning to saw the snake in half.

 

“Darling, get a fire going, we’re having slow roasted snake for dinner,” smiled Windigo over Pythor’s screams of agony. Zane began to butcher the corpse of his fallen enemy, the Anacondrai were extinct. He cut the head off and spiked it next to the others.

“You’re next Dareth,” said Zane to the wind. That night the SOG feasted on roasted Pythor.

 

“Ok, this is not just bad anymore, it’s fucking messed up,” said Skylor “I mean any of us could be next,”

 

“He’s playing cat and mouse with us, trying to torment us and the people by killing anyone we might run to or he has a personal vendetta against, he’s trying to make us suffer and feel like we are alone,” said Nya.

 

Lloyd looked away, it was getting too much, no villain had ever been this cruel, the enemies they faced had never killed anyone, let alone display their severed heads on spikes and feast on their victims. The stress and fear had caused Dareth to go quiet, the once proud and vain brown ninja was a disheveled mess cowering in the corner. He was being actively hunted by the SOG and civilians looking for a very large cash prize and safety from the SOG supporters. Nya sighed, the blizzard outside had pretty much snowed them in and the heat wasn’t working right, they had to stop Windigo soon or they would die by either his hand or be frozen to death. But Nya hated sitting around doing nothing, she hated seeing what the SOG, and now Windigo, had made of their world. She closed her eyes and clenched her fists, it wasn’t over yet, not while she still had breath in her body. She walked over to Lloyd, firmly grabbed his shoulders and looked into his eyes before starting to sing. She walked over to the table in the center of the room and stood on it.

 

When the balance is uncertain
And the darkness closes in
When your faith feels threatened
You must turn to hope

But this feeling is nothing new
we‘ve faced challenges together
Our faith has waned and waxed
But if we have one thing, it’s hope

Even the longest winter
Eventually turns to spring
And even when the shadows lengthen
You know there is still light

Chorus

When the demon looms over us
When shadows grow too long
You must be our hope
You must be our light
Ninjago’s angel in green

Verse 2

So take up your sword
Yell to the heavens
Hope is not lost so long as we fight
You may not have faith
You may not have power

But so long as you have your voice
You can give us hope
You were chosen for a reason
And if he can turn summer into winter
You can call the spring

All we have is hope
Faith is not enough
All may seem lost
But time after time
We’ve proven that it’s not

Chorus again

When the demon looms over us
When shadows grow too long
You must be our hope
You must be our light
Ninjago’s angel in green

Verse 3

Has darkness ever won?
Have we ever stopped fighting for the light?
We’ve never given in before
We’ve never lost the war

We can’t give in
We can’t give up
We can’t give him hope
When it’s all we have

She finished singing with a determined look in her eyes, she wasn’t going down without a fight.

 

Corbin was perched like a vulture atop the archway on the tower and Harumi sat on Garmadon’s old throne which had been pulled to the right of Zane’s. She wore a thick black and purple fur lined cape with her new dress, it was currently wrapped around her in order to keep the frigid air of the blizzard. Windigo stared out into the blinding white, the howling wind being the only sound permeating the air.

 

The sides of the tower in Garmadon’s brief reign had been covered in dark matter, now however they were covered in snaking tendrils of ice that alternated between the corrupted black ice and the pure blue ice. Somewhere in the city, Ultra’s show echoed on an abandoned screen.

 

“Darling if you are cold, perhaps you would like to go inside and have some fun,” suggested Zane.

 

Harumi smiled and nodded, her teeth chattering. During Ultra’s water break she saw Windigo take Harumi into one of the closed offices.

 

“Lucky bitch, getting laid every night,” seethed Ultra. Now that she thought about it, there were plenty of members of the SOG that would probably love to fully experience the full Ultra Violet in all her cancer causing glory. She grinned, she’d get one of them to satisfy her, maybe even Killow, giant hunk of biker had to have a very big sword.

 

...

 

Lloyd wished he could get away with punching Dareth, the idiot didn’t even have any basic idea how to fight even after years of being friends with the ninja.

 

“Why do we keep him around?” asked Pixal to Nya, confused at how the most elite team of fighters could be friends with the vainest, most inept person in history, even a baby knew how to hit.

 

“For lack of anything else, he is insanely loyal, but honestly, I think the guys keep him around out of pity, and possibly cannon folder, ” said Nya.

 

“Ah, the same reason you still let Cole into the kitchen,” said Pixal.

 

“No, Cole is just too stubborn to let the word no stop him,” sighed Nya.

 

Lloyd was getting frustrated with Dareth’s ineptitude and turned to Mystake.

 

“I can’t fight everyone’s fights!” he exclaimed.

 

“Hmm, what was that?” asked Mystake smugly.

 

“I said I can’t fight everyone’s...how do I lead the resistance?” asked Lloyd, having an epiphany.

 

“By finding your voice, and you better find it soon, because today you will be taking back the air waves,” she said pointing to the TV where a very happy Ultra Violet was jabbering away about doubling the prize for the capture of the mailman, and tripling the prize for the capture of Dareth.

 

“My Darling I sense a disturbance,” said Zane.

 

“I will take care of tower security myself,” said Harumi.

 

“Very well, stay safe my love,” said Windigo. Harumi walked downstairs and saw Killow and a few of the lower ranked SOG talking.

 

“Be on your guard, the emperor senses something,” said Harumi.

 

“Senses? Is that like a new power he has?” asked Killow.

 

“He’s always had a sixth sense, just keep an eye out,” said Harumi before walking off, her dress dragging in the snow behind her.

 

Lloyd stared at her from their hiding place, she looked like an evil queen from fantasy stories, gorgeous and deadly. Her fur cape draped over and around her as she walked back inside.

 

“I still think we should go over the plan again,” said Shade.

 

“We need to reach the top. There’s a broadcasting station one of these floors.”

Lloyd and the elemental masters had taken an armored vehicle built by Nya and Pixal as close to Borg tower as they could without being seen. Now they were taking cover across the street from the tower, trying to calculate the best way to get in. Once they infiltrated the tower, Lloyd was to broadcast a message to the city to encourage them to fight Windigo’s rule.

 

“Its right under Windigo’s feet.” Shade said.

 

“All more the reason to keep our footprint small.” Skylor replied. She cracked her knuckles.

 

“Do you know what you’re going to say?” Asked Paleman.

 

Lloyd was caught off guard by his question. Despite planning to get into the tower, it had totally slipped his mind about what to say once they were actually in.

 

“Uh, yeah.” He said quickly.

 

“He doesn’t have a clue.” Neuro said.

 

“That’s not our problem.” Skylor said. She looked up to the top of the tower. “We just need to get him up there.”

 

Neuro put a hand to his head and focused.

 

“What are they thinking Neuro?” Lloyd asked.

 

“What I’m thinking.” He said.

 

Using his power of mind, he managed to convince Killow and a few other SOG that were guarding the front to leave for karaoke. Shade disappeared for a moment, using his powers to check around the tower for any guards. He returned a moment later.

 

“All clear.” He said. “Lets go.”

 

They quickly crossed the street and ducked through the doors of the first floor. The interior of the building was completely gutted. Chairs and tables were flipped over, the walls were crumbling, and the inside looked like it had been scorched.

 

Skylor ran over to one of the elevators. It dinged and a light came on.

 

“The elevators are still working. Come on!”

 

Lloyd and the elemental masters packed in the elevator and rode it as high as they could until it suddenly stopped.

 

“Uh, what is it?” Lloyd asked.

 

“The elevator.” Skylor said. “It stopped.”

 

Shade moved past them and tried to pry the doors open, but to no avail.

 

“They aren’t opening.” Shade said.

 

“Here,” Paleman said. He used his power to slip past the doors of the elevator and open them from the outside. “The buttons on the elevator say there’s a broadcasting station on the eighty first floor, right above us.”

 

“Okay, great work.” Lloyd said. He and the others began making their way down the hall. They rounded a corner, but stopped as Lloyd gasped.

 

“What is it?” Skylor asked. Lloyd said nothing, but only pointed.

 

There was a shadow of a pair of dripping antlers cast on the wall, getting bigger as their owner came closer. It was the shadow of Windigo.

 

Lloyd grabbed Skylor and Shade by their shirts and dragged them back down the hall and to the elevator. He frantically pressed the button, but the elevator refused to open.

 

The green ninja turned to Skylor. “You can absorb powers, but can you combine them?”

 

“I-Idon’t know, I’ve never tried.”

 

Lloyd looked down the hallway, where Windigo’s shadow was getting larger. He was close.

 

“Then try.” He said. “Hurry!”

 

Skylor placed her hands and Shade and Paleman and channeled her power to combine both of theirs. The result was a gray swirling veil of energy that made them invisible.

 

The next second Windigo turned down the hall and made his way to the elevator, straight for them. Shade and Paleman had to resist every urge to gasp as they saw the icy tyrant in the flesh. Lloyd felt his knees begin to tremble. Something had changed in Windigo’s demeanor since he had last seen him. The way hate and fear radiated from him with each step, the sheer number of red snowflakes that adorned his cloak to keep track of the innocent lives he had taken, the purple eyes that gazed soullessly from the Mask of Tyranny, whose antlers were dripping with blood, fresh trails of red running over the older smears of Serpentine blood on his face and robes.

 

Windigo approached the elevator but paused as he suddenly looked in their direction. Lloyd could hear the blood screaming in his ears as Windigo stooped within arms reach of them, carefully observing.

 

“Something’s not right…” Windigo growled, his twisted voice rumbling from his throat. “I feel…”

 

Suddenly the elevator opened and Harumi stepped out.

 

“My dear, is there something wrong?” She asked.

 

“He’s close.” Windigo said again. He looked up to the ceiling. “They must be on the next floor. Let’s hurry.”

 

Windigo and Harumi stepped onto the elevator, the door shutting behind them.

 

Skylor let go of Shade and Paleman, falling to the floor in exhaustion.

 

“You learn something new every day…” She muttered as Lloyd helped her up.

 

“W-what was...that?” Paleman squeaked, clearly rattled by what he had just seen.

 

Lloyd sighed. “That...is Windigo. Now we’re almost there. Come on.”

 

 

The Iron Baron looked up at the two ninja and sneered.

 

“Hope you’re comfortable.” he said.

 

“Whatever you have planned for us, we’ll never help you hunt dragons!” Kai shouted at him.

 

Back at the arena, the dragon hunters had overtaken Kai and Jay and had them in vengestone chains, thrown them in the back of one of their vehicles, and had driven out to the middle of the desert to tie the ninja atop of tall poles to use as bait for their hunt. Cole and Wu were still undercover and had tagged along.

 

The Iron baron raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? I beg to differ.”

 

The elder dragon hunter produced a device from his pocket. He pressed a button on it, making the chains spark with electricity. Jay giggled. Kai started to laugh and fire began flickering around his fingers.

 

“H-he’s triggering an elemental reaction from us!” Kai said.

 

“Yeah! And it kind of tickles!”

 

“Power from them will attract the power of the dragons.” Baron said. “I’m excited to see what tonight’s catch will bring!”

 

Wu looked up at them from Cole’s side. “How will we rescue them from up there?”

 

Cole patted Wu’s head. “We don’t. At least not right now, until they’re alone.”

 

“Hmmm, why don’t you join us, Dangerbuff?” One of the hunters, Chew Toy asked them. He gestured to a campfire that the others were sitting around.

 

Cole and Wu made their way over, following Chew Toy.

 

“Sit down, and listen to me.” He said as the three of them sat. “They never do, do they?”

 

Cole looked around for something to talk about, when his eyes fell on the sword that Chew Toy was wearing around his belt.

 

“Uh, that's some sword you’ve got there.” He said. “Crazy how it repelled their powers.” Cole was referring to how the sword neutralized the effects of Jay’s and Kai’s elements in the arena.

 

“Oh, yeah?” He asked, a smile on his face. He patted the sword’s hilt. “Carved from Dragonbone. From a piece of the Firstbourne.”

 

Wu looked confused. “Firstbourne?”

 

Daddy No Legs snickered. “Where have you been, Dangerbuff? In the belly of Beetlenut?”

 

The other hunters laughed.

 

“Firstbourne is the mother of all dragons.” Jet Jack said. “The most powerful in the realm. No one’s ever seen her entirely, but she’s said to possess every element of her beloved spawn. The one prize that’s always eluded the Iron Baron.”

 

“Tell ‘em, Jack.” Said another hunter.

 

“She took Baron’s arm, then his leg, then his pride.” Jack continued.

 

“But someone got a piece of her, didn’t you, Heavy Metal?”

 

The other dragon hunter nodded silently.

 

“The Iron Baron’s been searching for her nest all his life. Said she protects there the Dragon Armor.”

 

“Dragon Armor?” Wu asked again.

 

“Worn by the FSM.” Chew Toy said. “Whoever controls the armor controls Firstbourne, whoever controls Firstbourne can protect us from the Oni.”

 

Cole raised an eyebrow. “Oni?”

 

Suddenly there was a low growl. Daddy No Legs jumped up.

 

“Dragon!” he cried. The other hunters leapt to their feet and rushed to grab their weapons. “Don’t just stand there, Dangerbuff! Man the turret!”

 

“Uh-” Cole said, before running over to one of the vehicles. He climbed into the turret’s seat.

 

“Where is she?” Baron said, chain gun in hand. There was whooshing as a dragon circled above. “There! There!”

 

“I really don’t like this…” Kai said to Jay.

 

“A wind dragon!” Baron cried. “Lay low! Let her come!”

 

The dragon swooped lower as she caught wind of Kai and Jay.

 

“Wait for it!” Baron instructed as the dragon came closer. “Wait for it!”

 

The dragon dipped down and hovered right over the ninja for a better look.

 

Baron jumped up. “Now!” He and the other hunters rushed the dragon with their chain guns, the metal flying through the air every which way.

 

“Take a shot, Dangerbuff!” Daddy No Legs yelled at Cole. “What are you waiting for?”

 

Cole pointed the turret at the dragon and pulled the trigger. The chain flew from the gun and hit the chains of the ninja, knocking them free.

 

“Oh no,” Cole said sheepishly. “My mistake.”

 

Daddy No Legs growled. “I should have known to never trust a Dangerbuff!” He snapped. “Get out of here!”

 

Cole jumped out of the turret and down to Wu. “Now’s our chance!” He said. “Lets get them!”

 

They made a move to help their friends, but the hunters were already chaining them back up in vengestone. The dragon had twisted free from the hunter’s chains and fled.

 

“She’s getting away!” Baron yelled. “After her!”

 

The hunters jumped in their vehicles in pursuit of the runaway. Soon they caught up, and an expert shot from the chain turret by Chew Toy brought the dragon down to the ground. It wrenched at Cole’s heart as her pitiful cries were muffled by a chain being wrapped around her snout.

 

They finished securing the dragon and cheered as they tied it down to the back of one of their vehicles. Soon they pulled out and headed back for the camp after a successful hunt.

 

“Haha!” Baron laughed with glee, giddy after their capture. “She’s as fast as the wind, I’ll give her that!”

 

Kai sighed. “I guess it wasn’t our night.”

 

“Yeah,” Jay replied despondently. “And it wasn’t hers either.”

 

The two chained ninja looked up through one of the windows of the vehicles, where the dragon stared back at them sadly as she hung off the top.

 

Wu also stared at the creature before looking up at Cole. “You won’t let them hurt her, will you?”

 

“Don’t worry, little buddy.” Cole said, patting Wu’s head. “We’ll figure a way out of this. For us, and the dragons.”

 

 

Meanwhile, in Ninjago, Ultra Violet was still going on with her show.

 

“So what?” She said to the camera. “You help us catch everyone else, but no one knows where the mailman is? He’s just a postal worker, why haven’t we caught him, people?!”

 

Suddenly the doors to the room Ultra was broadcasting from were blown from their hinges and Lloyd and the elemental masters attacked.

 

“HEY!” Ultra screeched as she dodged one of the elemental masters. “This is a closed set!”

 

“Sorry, UV, but your show’s just been cancelled!” Lloyd said.

 

Ultra lunged forward to attack Lloyd but Paleman appeared and grabbed her before she could land a blow.

 

“Nuh-uh!” She said as the Resistance tied her and the others up. They also barricaded the doors to delay any more SOG.

 

Skylor shoved Lloyd in front of the camera before running over to a computer and a dashboard with various controls. “Alright, Lloyd, once we go live, it’ll only be a matter of time before they realize we’re here. You ready?”

 

Lloyd gulped and nodded. “Yeah. I’m ready.”

 

“Alright. We are live in five, four, three, two…”

 

Suddenly Lloyd’s face showed up on the computer screen as well as every screen in the city. They had been successful in hacking the air. Now Lloyd needed to get his message out before they were caught.

 

Lloyd cleared his throat before speaking. “Hello, Ninjago, its me. Lloyd Garmadon. The Green Ninja.”

 

Somewhere in the city, a child huddled with her parents to try and escape the cold of their ransacked home. As he turned to Lloyd’s voice, she saw his face on the flickering screen.

 

She gasped. “You said he was gone! Look, it’s the Green Ninja!”

 

One of the parents looked up and also gasped. “He’s alive…”

 

“Windigo wants you to be afraid,” Lloyd continued. “But I need you to be brave. With the help of Princess Harumi, Lord Garmadon had been overthrown by Emperor Windigo and dealt a huge blow to Ninjago City.”

 

Harumi saw this on a nearby screen. Snarling in anger, she pressed a few keys on one of the computers. She grinned.

 

“There.” She said. “That oughta rattle him.”

 

“We are ready to strike back.” Lloyd continued. “There is a resistance. We may be small, but we’re p-”

 

Suddenly Lloyd stopped as another image flashed up onto the screen. He didn’t recognize it at first.

 

It was him and the other ninja at the palace. It was two days before it was blown to smithereens. They were talking, and Lloyd couldn’t make out the voices, until-

 

“Why don’t you go find the biggest tree in the forest and cut it down with a herring?!”

 

“W-what do you mean…” Came the voice of a confused nindroid, an innocent one that Lloyd hadn’t heard in so long.

 

“I don’t know, I saw it in a movie, but it’s a good idea if it gets you out of the way!”

 

Suddenly it hit Lloyd like a brick. Someone had hacked into the airwaves. They were broadcasting the times he had mistreated Zane, to break Lloyd’s confidence.

 

Lloyd felt a lump in his throat. He could hear the hurt in Zane’s voice now. Why didn’t he then? Why did he realize what he was doing to Zane was wrong when it was too late?

 

Skylor growled. “You’re gonna have to try harder than that.” She muttered as she tried deleting the video.

 

There were more scenes. Not just of Lloyd, but the others too. Kai using Zane as a shield against the Mechanic. Cole telling Zane to shut up. Lloyd snapping at the ice ninja when he was leaving for patrol.

 

“P-powerful…” Lloyd stammered.

 

“Lloyd!” Skylor snapped. “Pull it together! Remember what Mystake said! Use your voice!”

 

Killow and more SOG members tried to get in. Shade and Paleman grabbed the doors to try and keep them shut.

 

“Hurry!” Shade said. “We can’t hold them for long!”

 

Lloyd looked down at the floor in an effort to compose himself, when he saw the victims of Ultra’s hunting show on the floor.

 

He had made a drastic mistake in mistreating Zane. Many actually. He knew that. But now he couldn’t do anything else but make up for what he had done. If he didn’t set things right soon, who else would wind up as another picture on the floor, another head on a spike of ice?

 

Lloyd took a deep breath. “I may not have my elemental power, but I call upon the power of the people. When we get knocked down, we rise up stronger than before. This is our city, and Windigo can’t take that from us. This isn’t the first time our city’s faced ruin. Buildings fall, we rise! And to you Zane, I say this: No matter what you do, that mask won’t ever change who’s really beneath it. You’re still Zane whether you like it or not. And we will put a stop to your madness. Why? Because a ninja never quits. AND THE RESISTANCE NEVER QUITS!”

 

Skylor flicked the camera off leaving that last sentence playing on loop for the people to see. “Good. Now let’s bail!”

 

The four made a run for it escaping from the window and sliding down the building before scattering and disappearing into the ruined city. By the time Killow and the others got in, they were already gone.

 

Killow looked around. “They got away?”

 

Suddenly a very pissed Harumi stormed in, glaring out the windows for any sign of Lloyd or the others.

 

“Not for long.” She growled. Then she spied the garbage trucks driving down the streets.
“It’s time to take out the garbage.”

 

Zane was pissed.

 

Oh, so pissed.

 

After everything he had done to him, Lloyd really thought he could just waltz in and act like the past was forgivable? Did he really not know that the pure-hearted nindroid he once was was now completely gone? Did Lloyd really think he could fix this?

 

Lloyd said that ninja never quit.

 

And Zane was about to put that to the test.

 

“BRING ME CYRUS BORG! It is time they learned a lesson,” growled Windigo. He checked his claws to ensure they were sharp.

 

Lloyd had broken him from the inside out. Now it was time to return the favor.

Chapter Text

It was a terrified Cyrus Borg who was thrown unceremoniously in front of Windigo. Ultra Violet was pointing the camera at the two as Ninjago and the Resistance watched with bated breath.

 

“See what rebellion gets you Lloyd? The death of the creator of the bitch who betrayed me,” said Windigo to the camera as he held Borg by the neck.

 

“How will Ninjago survive without its beloved tech wizard? He is the reason Ninjago was subjugated to the overlord for a second time, it was he who built the girl who broke my heart when she sided with those who hurt me. Now for her insolence and your little speech, you get to watch him DIE!” said Windigo as he rammed his claws through Borg’s chest before tearing his head from his shoulders and jamming the decapitated head onto another spike.

 

“One by one I will kill those you love until you come crawling, begging on hands and knees to me in surender and your lives shall be the last I take, bear in mind that with every life I take, I become more powerful than anything in all realms of creation,” snarled Windigo.

 

He tossed the body over the tower as the camera cut off, he had enough of a sense of humor to watch it splat in the snow which would bury him at the foot of his previous tower until a brave soul could come along and collect the mangled and decapitated remains of the inventor to lay him to rest. Windigo sat back on his throne, admiring the fresh coat of blood on his claws.

 

“Darling, you said you saw the garbage trucks leaving after their little infiltration?” asked Windigo

 

“Yes,” said Harumi

 

“Perfect, send a team in an hour, let’s give them a chance to come surrender before bringing them here ourselves,” said Windigo.

“Of course,” said Harumi.

 

Pixal starred in stunned horror as Windigo killed her creator.

 

"No," she whimpered, sinking to her knees. She was immediately embraced by Lloyd and Nya.

 

“This is going too far, how many more innocent people is he going to kill?” asked Skylor

 

“Everyone he can until we…,” Lloyd faltered, the idea of dying by the hand of his former brother terrified him.

 

“No! We can’t give in, we have to endure until the others get back!” said Nya

 

“AND THEN WHAT?! WATCH AS HE SLAUGHTERS THEM? NONE OF US STOOD A CHANCE AGAINST MY FATHER, WINDIGO ALMOST KILLED KAI RIGHT IN FRONT OF US! THEN WINDIGO BEAT MY FATHER LIKE IT WAS NOTHING! YOU HEARD HIM, THE MORE PEOPLE HE KILLS THE MORE POWERFUL HE BECOMES! WHAT CHOICE DO WE HAVE? WE SWORE TO PROTECT NINJAGO WHAT IF THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE EVERYONE IS TO GIVE OURSELVES UP!?” shouted Lloyd, pacing and throwing his hands over his head.

 

“We have to find a way to beat him,” said Skylor.

 

“Zane is still a nindroid, what if we hack him?” suggested Nya.

 

“Won’t work, we don’t have the equipment and when wearing that mask, Zane isn’t robotic anymore, he is organic and ice,” said Pixal.

 

“Then we get the mask away from him,” said Nya.

 

“He has to voluntarily take it off, and judging from what Mystake has said about that mask, there is no way he will now, not when he’s worn it for so long now,” said Lloyd.

 

“Lloyd, we might have to...kill him, before he kills us,” said Nya.

 

Everyone went quiet, the Ninja had never killed anyone, reform, imprison, banish, yes but never kill. And worst of all, they knew it really was their only choice.

 

“I-I can’t,” whimpered Lloyd “I turned him into this, I have to save him,”

 

“I don’t think there is anything left of Zane to save, killing him might be our only option,” sighed Skylor.

 

“But…”

 

“Lloyd, I don’t want to either but we are out of options, even if you are able to bring our old Zane back, he won’t be able to live with the guilt of what he’s done. I hate to say it but I think killing him would be more merciful than reforming him, even if it was possible,” said Nya

 

“I can’t, I won't, I have to find a way to save my brother!” exclaimed Lloyd walking off.

 

Nya sighed, the body count was rising and getting closer to them by the day, the sooner they admitted the old methods of defeating a villain didn’t work for Windigo, the sooner the count would end with Windigo. Nya knew this, Skylor knew this, all of them knew this, but Lloyd refused to accept it.

 

“Send the team, their time is up, bring Dareth straight to me, I wish to reward the lovely ladies of my court with a new toy to do as they wish with before I torture the rest of them with his death,” said Windigo

 

Ultra got a sinister grin on her face and bowed before her emperor.

 

“My emperor, you are so generous, how long will we get with him?” asked Ultra.

 

“So long as all of you ladies get a turn I do not care how long it takes,” grinned Windigo.

 

Unseen by Zane, Harumi gave a small frown, this was getting a bit too much, the tower was starting to reek with decay, it was impossible to walk without slipping on frozen blood and the snow was four feet high, impossible for the bikes to drive in.

 

“Darling, it might be difficult for the team to get there, the snow on the streets is too high for the bikes,” said Harumi.

 

“Easily fixed,” said Windigo, using his powers to clear the snow off the streets to the depot. The ambush was being sent, the resistance was rattled and wouldn’t be on their A-game.

 

 

“The Resistance never quits! The Resistance never quits! The Resistance never quits!”

 

“Grrrr! Fix your radio Muzzle! It’s driving me crazy!” Daddy No Legs growled at another hunter. Muzzle grumbled and fiddled with the radio.

 

Jay and Kai looked at each other.

 

“Did you-”

 

“Yeah. It was Lloyd!”

 

“Okay, but what is it about this ‘Resistance’? And what’s Lloyd got to do with it?”

 

“I don’t know, but whatever it is, let’s hope Cole can get us out of here!”

 

Jay felt a sword prod his arm. “Wakey, wakey, ninja!” No Legs sneered. “Welcome back to the Dead’s End!”

 

The hunters pulled back into the camp and the process of unloading their catch. The ninja were led to a giant rib bone sticking out of the ground and were chained to it and watched as the captured dragon was lifted from the hunter’s vehicle and onto a huge pile of firewood.

 

Jay gasped. “T-they’re not going to eat her, are they?”

 

“Looks like it.” Kai said solemnly.

 

Cole walked by, carrying a few chain guns in his arms. Wu followed close behind.

 

“Pssst. Hey Cole,” Kai said. “Tell me you’ve got a plan.”

 

“It’s- uh- in it’s early stages.”

 

“He doesn’t have one.” Wu said bluntly.

 

“This place is swarming with hunters. Breaking you out is gonna be impossible.” Cole told them.

 

“If only Firstbourne paid Iron Baron a visit, we could have a distraction.” Kai said.

 

Jay thought for a moment. Then he had an idea.

 

“Hey, that’s it!”

 

“What?”

 

“By the sound of it, Firstbourne and the Iron Baron have a lot of history. If we can’t wait for her to show up, maybe we can ‘build’ her!”

 

“What?!” Kai said. “That’s crazy!”

 

“Maybe so, but what other choice do we have? Unless you’ve got a better one?”

 

“No, no, no, he has a point.” Cole said. “Jay’s onto something. If we can trick Baron to think he’s under attack-”

 

“-Then it can serve as a distraction for you to break us out!” Jay finished.

 

“Hey Dangerbuff! Quit burning daylight and get over here!”

 

“Uh, yeah, be right there!” Cole said. He turned back to the other two ninja. “If you can design it, we can build it outside of camp. Then get it in the air by nightfall.”

 

“Then it’s a plan.” Jay said. “We’ll build the Firstbourne!”

 

“Okay, let’s think.” Lloyd said. He grabbed a stay piece of wood and drew in the snow. “There has to be some way to put a stop to all this other than killing Zane. Is there anyone you can think of that would be of some help?”

 

“Lloyd-” Nya began, but the green ninja stopped her.

 

“Nya, even under the mask Zane is my brother, I cannot kill him.” He told her. “He’s done too much, and it's my fault he’s this way. So I’m going to get him back, no matter what it takes.”

 

“I can.” Dareth said. Despite having a bounty on his head, he had managed to pull himself together somewhat and was doing all he can to help the Resistance fight back against Windigo.

 

“Could you go ask Mystake if she has something to warm us up? The garbage depot isn’t exactly insulated...”

 

Dareth sighed. “Yeah, yeah, sure.” he turned around, kicking a can on his way. “Drinks, wonderful…”

 

Dareth trudged over to a back room of the depot and opened the door, where Mystake was. Makeshift shelves were filled with bags and jars of tea, and a pot of water boiled over a small fire.

 

“Hey.” Dareth said.

 

The old woman looked up. “Dareth.” She said. “What do you want?”

 

“Can’t a guy just say hey without wanting something?”

 

“Dareth.” Mystake said in a knowing tone.

 

“Okay, okay!” He said. He sighed and sat down. “Here’s the thing: everyone else has some kind of power. They can control metal or water or can turn invisible. The coolest thing about me is my chest hair.”

 

Mystake raised an eyebrow. “And why are you telling me this?”

 

“Well, I was thinking, maybe there’s a tea you can give me? So I can have a power of my own?”

 

“No.”

 

“No?” Dareth asked. “You’ve got to have something. A potion! A spell! I’d do anything. Anything!”

 

Mystake chuckled. “Anything?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“Very well.” She said. She pulled a jar of tea leaves from a bag and dumped them into the boiling pot of water and prepared the pot of tea for Dareth.

 

“Drink it.” She said.

 

“All of it?”

 

“All of it.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Do you want your power or not?!” Mystake snapped.

 

“Okay, okay! Sheesh.” Dareth looked at the pot of murky liquid. “I-it’s a good thing I’m thirsty.”

 

Dareth began chugging it and almost hurled as the hot and bitter liquid burned his mouth. “Ugh, you didn’t put much thought into the taste, did you?”

 

Mystake gave him a glare of death, which was more than enough persuasion for him to keep drinking. Not soon enough for him, he finished the entire pot with a belch. He groaned as hus stomach felt heavy.

 

“Ugh, maybe this wasn’t such a great idea…”

 

As soon as he finished his sentence, brown smoke began billowing from his hands. He gasped and jumped to his feet.

 

“Oh boy, it’s happening!” Dareth ran to where the others of the Resistance were gathered. “Guys, look! Brown power, it’s finally mine!”

 

But the smoke suddenly disappeared as Lloyd and the others turned to look. His stomach gurgled and clenched.

 

“Oh, oh no…” Dareth said as he made a beeline for the bathrooms. He tried one door, but it was locked. He tried the other. He frantically banged on it.

 

“It busy.” Karloff’s voice came from the other side. “Come back tomorrow.”

 

“I gotta go!” Dareth cried. “It’s an emergency!”

 

“You don’t wanna come in here.” Karloff said.

 

In a flash of desperation, Dareth ran outside, just in time to see the SOG pull up on their bikes.

 

Dareth gasped. “Oh no, it’s an ambush!”

 

Dareth tried the door, but to his horror it had locked behind him. He had been locked out.

 

“Hello, Dareth.” said a voice behind him.

 

Dareth turned around to see Ultra Violet grinning at him. He screamed.

 

The door opened and the Resistance was surprised by the sudden appearance of the SOG. Lloyd looked down just in time to see Dareth being dragged away by UV.

 

“NO!” Lloyd cried. “Not you too!”

 

The green ninja leapt forward to save his friend but was suddenly blocked by Killow.

 

“We have to protect the base!” Nya told him.

 

“But if we let them take him, they’ll kill him!” Lloyd dodged as Karloff flew through the air and punched the muscular biker in the face

 

“And they’ll kill you too! We need to endure!”

 

Lloyd watched helplessly as Dareth was tied up and thrown onto the back of UV’s bike before speeding off.

 

“I’m so sorry…”

 

Dareth had been taken. He was a lost cause now, yet another victim had fallen to Windigo.

 

Nya and the other masters were fighting the SOG but were becoming overwhelmed.

 

“Lloyd!” Nya cried.

 

Lloyd pulled his hood over his head. Dareth may be gone, but he would fight for him.

 

The Resistance continued to fight back against the SOG, but they were proving to be too much.

 

“There’s too many!” Skylor said. She turned to Lloyd. “You need to get out of here!”

 

“No!” Lloyd cried. “We need to fight!”

 

Killow managed to pry Karloff off of him and sent him flying into the wall. “Get Mystake!”

 

“But she’s just an old lady?” Luke asked.

 

“She’s more than that. Now go get her!”

 

Luke dashed into the building and flung open the door to Mystake’s room. But there was no trace of her.

 

Luke was befuddled. “How…”

 

“We’re losing!” Lloyd cried as he aimed a flying kick at an SOG member.

 

“Nya!” Skylor said. “Get Lloyd out of here!”

 

“Come on!” Nya said as she grabbed his arm and bolted into the building, towards an armored vehicle that she had been working on. She twisted the hatch open and pushed Lloyd inside.

 

“Skylor! Mom! Get in!”

 

“You’re what’s important!” Misako said as she aided the elemental masters. “Go, son!”

 

“We will hold off!” Karloff yelled. “Get green ninja to safe place!”

 

Nya slammed on the gas as the armored vehicle tore out of the building, smashing a hole in the depot’s wall.

 

“We can’t just leave them!” Lloyd cried as they sped away.

 

“They aren’t my concern.” Nya said as she pressed some buttons on the dash. “You are.”

 

...

 

Cole and Wu put the finishing touches on their contraption. It was a metal dragon with blades on the top that was driven with pedals. Jay and Kai drew the design up with a piece of charcoal and old parchment and secretly slipped it off to Cole earlier in the day. Cole finished tightening up a few more screws before standing up and wiping his forehead.

 

“We did it.” He said.

 

Wu looked at it apprehensively. “But will it fly?”

 

Cole shrugged. “Only one way to find out.”

 

Cole got in. “Give me a boost!”

 

Wu pushed and Cole began pedaling as fast as he could. It began to lift off the ground, but the wheels kept dragging.

 

“Faster! Faster!” Wu cried.

 

“I’m trying!” Cole cried. He hit a rock and the machine veered off to the side. Cole swerved and it landed on its side as it skidded through the sand. Cole got out, coughing as he pushed the vehicle back upright.

 

 

“It won’t fly.” Wu said.

 

“What?!” Jay said. “It’s got to.”

 

“I’m too heavy. Maybe your calculations were off?”

 

“No, I designed it to your measurements. Are you sure you haven’t gained any weight?”

 

Cole gasped. He folded his arms. “I have given up cake and my body is a temple!” He said, turning away, looking hurt.

 

“I can fly it.”

 

Jay looked down at Wu. “You? Your feet can’t even reach the pedals.”

 

“Easier to grow a little than lose alot.” Wu said, smirking.

 

“Hey!” Cole cried.

 

 

Night had fallen over the dragon hunters’ camp. The moon was starting to peek over the horizon, washing the desert in a silvery blue light as the hunters prepared for their feast.

 

The Iron Baron grabbed a torch from its place on the wall and walked over to stand in front of the wind dragon and the massive crowd of hunters that had now gathered.

 

“It’s tonight or never.” Kai told Jay. He nodded.

 

“I guess the kid is flying…”

 

...

 

“If we’re gonna pull this off, stay in the clouds and keep the moon to your back. Once I bust them out, meet back here, okay?”

 

Wu nodded as he climbed inside the cockpit.

 

Cole nodded. “Great. Good luck.”

 

“I don’t need luck, just a push.” Wu said.

 

Cole pushed, and Wu pedaled as fast as he could. Soon he was up in the air and was enveloped by the clouds.

 

“Whoo! Ha ha, you got it!” Cole cheered. “Fly, Wu, fly!”

 

 

“Iron Baron provides for you, and all I ask for is your undying loyalty.” Baron said to the hunters. “Obey my commands, and your belly will be full. Defy me, and-”

 

Baron paused in his speech as a shadow fell over him. He turned and saw its source.

 

“Dragon.” He growled.

 

“D-D-Dragon!” One of the hunters cried.

 

Wu pressed a button, causing fire to burst from the dragon’s mouth.

 

“Fire dragon!” Baron cried before lightning sparked where the fire had been moments before.

 

“It’s the mother of all dragons!” Kai said.

 

“Oh no!” Jay said, going with it. “But why would Firstbourne come here?”

 

“To protect her wind dragon!”

 

“They’re right, its Firstbourne!” No Legs cried.

 

“Stations!” Baron shouted. “Protect the fort! Attack!”

 

The dragon hunters rushed to their positions. In all the mayhem they didn't see Cole untying the ninja.

 

“About time!” Kai said as he massaged his chafed wrists.

 

“Yeah.” Jay said, doing the same. “Now let’s get out of this nuthouse!”

 

Baron rushed up the steps of one of the towers and shoved a hunter out of behind their gun.

 

“Out of the way!” He yelled. He grabbed hold of the cannon. “I want to take her for myself!”

 

He looked through the sight of the cannon and trained it on the contraption he thought was Firstbourne. He grinned.

 

“I got you now.” He sneered.

 

Wu saw his trouble and gulped. “Uh-oh.”

 

A cannonball flew from the fort, and Wu barely had time to dodge it. Baron laughed.

 

“I clipped her!” He said.

 

Suddenly a bigger shadow appeared from behind Wu. The ninja paused in their escape to look.

 

“Wow, little Wu’s really selling it.” Jay said.

 

“You built that, Cole?” Kai asked.

 

Cole paused, confused. “Huh, it looks bigger in the air.”

 

A second cannonball flew from Baron’s spot, crashing into the blades of the metal dragon. Wu cried out as he lost control and went spinning through the sky before crashing into the hillside. He escaped unharmed and went running to find the ninja.

 

“Wait.” Cole said. “If that’s-then who’s-”

 

Suddenly a giant red and black dragon descended from the clouds. It let out a great roar.

 

“IT’S THE REAL FIRSTBOURNE!” Jay yelled.

 

Firstbourne roared again before swooping down and letting free a giant plume of fire from her jaws as she torched Dead’s End.

 

“Show no fear!” Baron yelled. But just as he finished, he jumped to dodge the incoming flames. He scrambled to his feet.

 

“We’re being punished!” He cried. “How’d she find us?!”

 

“We can get out there!” Cole pointed to the edge of the camp that led out to the open desert beyond.

 

“Wait!”

 

The three ninja turned and saw Wu standing there.

 

“What are you waiting for, little master?” Cole asked. “We need to go!”

 

“Firstbourne is here because of the dragon they captured.”

 

“Yeah, and they deserve every delicious piece of punishment they get!” Jay said.

 

“But you’re responsible too.” Wu said. “You helped lure it in.”

 

“They forced us!”

 

“Little master’s right.” Cole said. “We have to go back.”

 

The four bolted back through Dead’s End. Cole bumped into Daddy No Legs.

 

“Dangerbuff? You’re with them? I should’ve known you were a traitor!”

 

“No, not a traitor.” Cole said. He ripped off his fake mustache. “A ninja!”

 

Kai slipped past the other hunters and climbed up the wood pile before melting off the dragon’s chains.

 

“Go, be free!” He said.

 

Realizing it was free, the wind dragon sprang up and also began attacking Dead’s End.

 

“Come on!” Cole beckoned. Together he, Kai, Jay, and little Wu fled from the dragon hunters and vanished into the desert night.

 

Eventually, Firstbourne decided enough was enough and left the village, followed closely behind by the freed wind dragon.

 

Baron got up from the ground, recovering from the attack. He looked after where Firstbourne had vanished and growled.

 

“Prepare the Dieselnaut.” He said. “We’re going hunting.”

 

“For Firstbourne?” Asked Chew Toy.

 

“For ninja.”

 

It was a shivering Dareth that was thrown in front of Windigo’s thrown, whether his shivering was from fear or cold was unknown and irrelevant to Windigo

“Well well well, if it isn’t Dareth, the self-proclaimed brown ninja who can’t fight for shit,” said Windigo with a wicked smirk and the SOG laughed

“You don’t scare me, Zane,” said Dareth, visibly shaking with fear

“Only my beloved is allowed to use that name,” growled Windigo “ However, I will forgive your innocence as it would be very rude of me not to give the lovely ladies of my court a new toy and nobody wants to die a virgin do they Dareth, let see if they find you as capable as you claim to be?”

Dareth was then grabbed by Killow and dragged to one of the emptied offices. The windows were covered in thick black curtains, there was a makeshift bed on the floor and candles were burning, Ultra violet had raided a scented candle store known for it’s strange and exotic fragrances. The whole room smelled like whiskey, bacon, and...rotting flesh? His suit was ripped off of him leaving him in his leopard-print briefs.

“The ladies are getting ready, there are contraceptives in the corner, I suggest you use them,” said Killow before slamming the door.

Dareth gulped and then noticed the lengths of rope, handcuffs, whips, and other devices scattered around the room. He shuddered before steeling himself if he was going to die, he might as well enjoy these final hours, at least being a plaything for 10 women for several hours was better than instant death, he also had the feeling that the better he was, the longer the girls would convince Windigo to leave him alive. He would do this, and if he was being honest he was almost looking forward to it, having sex to save his life was definitely something Dareth was capable of doing.

He sat on the bed, anxiously waiting for the first female member of the SOG. A woman about his age entered the room, a hungry grin on her face, she was in a black negligee that had probably been stolen from somewhere. Dareth was surprised, she wasn’t bad looking. Maybe this would be fun. She grabbed a length of rope. Or not.

“Only I get to use the safeword, which is pink,” she said with a wicked grin. Dareth nodded

“Good boy, you ready for snu snu?”

Dareth nodded again, his life depended on his performance, he’d give all these girls the time of their lives.


Ultra Violet was last to have a turn with a battered and bruised Dareth. She was by far into the freakiest shit he’d ever done in the last 15 hours. He was still handcuffed to the bed and couldn’t feel much below his waist. After she got up and left, Killow came back into the room and grabbed the exhausted brown ninja, forcing him into pant before dragging him to the top of the tower, Ultra Violet was waiting with the camera.

“Today one of the closest friends of the ninja, the useless, brown Ninja will perish for his stupidity, incompetence, being the most annoying person in the world, and above all, being their friend,’' said Windigo.

Dareth gulped and closed his eyes. He screamed in agony as he was disemboweled by Windigo, his brave little partner that had held firm these last 15 hours was ripped off and given to Ultra as a trophy, his limbs were ripped off one by one and his bones torn from his body one by one. He died very quickly and his head was placed on yet another spike. His dismembered body was fed to Corbin.

Lloyd, Nya, and Skylor watched the broadcast, with sinking hearts, they had held onto hope that Dareth might be spared when he hadn’t been immediately killed like the others. That hope was gone as one of their closest friends was murdered before their eyes. They were all that was left of the resistance, but they wouldn’t quit, they couldn’t. Windigo had to fall.

Chapter Text

Windigo was feeling extra blood thirsty the next morning and decided to deal a smaller blow to the resistance.

 

“Bring me Tox,” said Windigo with a malicious grin.

 

“Who?” asked Luke.

 

“The elemental master of poison, green hair, can’t miss her,” said Windigo.

 

“As you wish my emperor,” said Killow with a bow.

 

Two hours later the green haired master of poison was thrown in front of Windigo. Tox wasn’t going to even try to be tough and aloof like she normally was, not when she was facing the scariest creature in all of creation.

“Hello Tox, I know you never really did anything directly against me and you were very helpful in the escape from that accursed island, but unfortunately this resistance has been a thorn in my side and I don’t want to appear sexist in who I execute, all resistance members are equal in my eyes and I rather squeeze from the bottom of the tube first, so to speak. Now as luck would have it I am feeling rather generous and in a good mood so I will let you choose via spin of a wheel on how you die, and don’t worry, this little game is being broadcast to all of Ninjago, so go right up and spin that wheel,” said Windigo wickedly.

Tox shakily went over and spun the wheel, there was a tiny sliver that was marked, join us all the others showed graphic depictions of ways to die, all drawn in the blood of previous victims. It spun slowly, she could hear Ultra whispering excitedly hoping for disembowelment. The arrow stopped millimeters from the sliver that would allow her to live.

“Crushed by 50 tons of ice,” said Zane looking at the wheel.

“Aww, why do we have that one, turn it to something bloody, we don’t have to be fair,” said Ultra

“Now now Ultra, squishing someone can get very messy, and I am an emperor of my word,” said Windigo “TIE HER UP!”

To Tox’s credit she fought SOG off as long as she could but ultimately found herself tied with ice cuffs to spikes, she couldn’t break out of them, no matter how hard she struggled, she also was gagged to prevent her from using her element. Zane made a solid slab of ice on top of her, leaving her head free. One by one he and the SOG added more and more blocks of ice to the slab. Tox couldn’t breathe, her bones all felt like they were broken even as more and more ice was added.

 

“MUrPh MUrPH MURRRR MUURPH!” she tried shouting through the gag

 

“What was that?” asked Windigo with a false sweetness as he removed the gag, getting a face full of poison and hearing her dying breath proclaim

 

“THE RESISTANCE NEVER QUITS!”

 

Zane blinked the irritant from his eyes just in time to see blood spatter everywhere from her body flattening like a pancake. He stuck her head on the spike next to Dareth’s, two down, many to go.

...

 

Wu opened his eyes and blinked, met by the sun’s glare upon the sand as it rose from behind the dunes. He had just had a dream about him, his brother, and his father going fishing, where he learned an important lesson about faith.

 

“Huh?” He croaked, realizing his body felt different. He groaned and sat up.

“Well, well, look who’s awake?” Kai’s voice came from behind.

 

“And look who’s got longer legs!” Cole said, walking up to them. “Even though I’m saying it out loud, it’s still weird right?”

 

“The Time Blade’s effects must be wearing off more now.” Kai said. “Seems to me he’s more of a teenager now.”

 

“A teenager?” Jay cried. “Oh, now we’re in for it!”

 

“We’re still teenagers, Jay.” Kai reminded him.

 

“Yeah, grown up teenagers!”

 

“Is something wrong, young Master Wu?” Cole asked, helping him up.

 

“I...I had a dream.” Wu said. “I was fishing with my father.”

 

“The FSM?” Jay asked.

 

Wu nodded. “And my brother was there.”

 

“He’s getting his memories back.” Kai said.

 

Suddenly out of nowhere they were attacked. Jay screeched as Kai and Wu jumped out of the way.

 

“Show yourself!” Cole demanded.

 

The assailant stopped and turned to face the earth ninja.

 

“There is no escape.” They growled. “You are my prisoners now. Is it true?”

 

“Is what true?” Cole asked.

 

“What you said. He is the son of the FSM. Is it true?”

 

“Don’t tell him.” Kai whispered. “Remember how they treated us when they found out about our powers?”

 

The hunter raised an eyebrow. “I can still hear you.”

 

Wu stepped forward. “Yes. It’s true.” He said. “I am the son of the FSM. I am Wu.”

 

Much to their astonishment, Heavy Metal removed their armor. They were floored to find out that they were actually a woman.

 

“Then the legend is true.” She said. “You have come to take back the Dragon Armor.”

 

“Whoa.” Jay said, eyes wide. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

 

“You’re Heavy Metal?” Kai asked. The woman nodded.

 

“That is my given Hunter name. My real name is Faith.”

 

“Faith…” Wu said, thinking. He recalled the words of his father from his dream. “All you need is faith....”

 

“Please,” Faith said. “Tell me. Do you know where the Dragon Armor is?”

 

Wu wasn’t sure, but he believed firmly in his father’s words and his ability to do as he said. Trusting his gut, he looked to a random direction in the endless expanse of sand.

 

“That way.” He said.

 

“Then we must go.” Faith said.

 

“Go? Go where?” Cole asked.

 

“To the armor.” Wu said.

 

Faith began to walk. “Iron Baron and his hunters are out looking for you. And they never fail. The farther we get away, the longer we’ll live.”

 

When Faith was a good distance away, Kai leaned over to Wu. “Why are you leading us astray? You don’t even know where the armor is.”

 

“No, but I have faith.”

 

Faith returned with a small vehicle. Cole looked at it apprehensively.

 

“Uh-how are we all gonna fit in that thing?”

 

“We don’t. But it will help carry our supplies.” Faith answered. “What we cannot carry, we bury. Iron Baron cannot know I am helping you.”

 

Faith pointed a chain gun at Jay, who laughed nervously.

 

“Yeah, yeah. O-of course, hehe. Your secret is safe with us! Now lower that giant rifle thingy please!”

 

They all loaded their things into Faith’s vehicle and began trudging their way through the desert.

 

Cole leaned over to Wu. “I hope I know what you’re doing…”

 

Wu nodded as they continued walking. Silence stretched between them during their journey. At one point, he look at Kai’s, Cole’s, and Jay’s faces. He remembered he vaguely recognized them.

 

But with this came another realization. He couldn’t explain it, it was like a sinking feeling in his stomach like he knew something was wrong.

 

Confused at this sensation, he looked at the other ninja again. He felt like something...or rather someone...was missing.

 

 

Lloyd and Nya had escaped Windigo and the SOG. In order to prevent from being discovered and to get their brother-turned-tyrant off their backs for a little while, they had seeked refuge on one of the poorer sides of the city on the coast. They disguised themselves amongst the other citizens by wearing fishermen’s clothes. Currently, they were standing in a dirty alleyway, in front of a small fire of burning trash. Lloyd was holding his green gi in his hands.

 

“Are you sure I have to do this?” he asked.

 

“Lloyd, I got rid of the vehicle I spent forever building.” Nya told him. “If we want to live, we have to destroy everything that could give us away.”

 

“But this is it. This is who I am.”

 

“That suit never made you who you are.” Nya said. “Its what's inside of you. From here on out, we have to hide our identities. They’ll be looking for us, wearing our colors will only draw their attention.”

 

Lloyd stared down at his gi sadly, realizing that Nya was right. He stared down at the gi in his hands for a moment more. He sighed.

 

“The Resistance never quits.” he said before dropping his gi on top of the fire and watched as it was slowly consumed by the flames.

 

“Who’s hungry?”

 

Lloyd and Nya looked up to see Skylor, also dressed in fishermen’s clothes, approaching them. In her hand she held a few bags of what appeared to be food.

 

“You didn’t steal that, did you?” Nya asked. “We don’t have any money.”

 

“You’re forgetting, I own a noodle empire.” She said, hand Nya and Lloyd their own bag. She looked around. “Place looks a little sketchy. You sure we’re safe here?”

 

Nya shrugged. “For the time being. It’ll have to do.”

 

“Skylor, what happened to our friends? And my mother?”

 

“They scattered once you left.” Skylor told him. “But I don’t know much past that.”

 

Lloyd sighed. Nya placed a hand on his shoulder. “They’ll be alright.” She told him. “But will you?”

 

“I already lost my powers. Now my friends? We don’t even know if they’re alive. I couldn’t even protect Tox.”

 

“It took us all by surprise.” Skylor said. “But we have to endure.”

 

Lloyd rolled his eyes. “Pffft, yeah, right, endure.” He said sarcastically. “Living in squalor with rats.”

 

“Even those with nothing endure to carry on.” Skylor told him.

 

At the mention of rats, one scampered up to the now smoldering remains of the fire and sniffed at some garbage.

 

Nya growled. “I hate these stupid things!” She grabbed a long piece of wood and raised it, about to hit it.

 

“Wait! Stop! Don’t!” Came a squeaky voice.

 

Nya almost dropped the wood in shock. Lloyd and Skylor went bug-eyed.

 

“Uh-” Nya began. “Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think the rat-”

 

“Is talking to us.” Finished Skylor.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry. I forget how unnerving this could be.” It laughed. “How about this?”

 

The three watched in shock as the rat suddenly morphed into-

 

“Mystake?” Skylor said, astonished.

 

“Y-you were just-” Nya began, unable to form a coherent sentence.

 

“H-how did you-”

 

Mystake saw the bag in Lloyd’s hand and her face lit up. “Ooh, food!” She said and grabbed the bag from Lloyd. “Haha, I’m famished.” She pulled a puffy potsticker from the bag and took a bite, when she saw the other three still standing there as if they'd just seen a ghost.

 

“Oh, right. Perhaps now is the time to tell you all who I really am.” Mystake’s stomach growled.

 

“Or perhaps after I eat.”

 

 

The wind howled across the desert sand as the ninja pulled on Faith’s vehicle. They had been walking for what seemed like hours now, the sun beating down and the wind blowing dust in their eyes.

 

“Oh, my feet.” Cole groaned. “They feel like they’re gonna fall off.”

 

“Hey,” Jay said, throwing his weight on the chain to help pull the heavy vehicle through a rut in the sand. “Does this remind you guys of something?”

 

“Like our time being tortured in Dead’s End?” Kai snarked.

 

“No. When this all began.” Jay said. “Just us, hauling Master Wu wherever.”

 

“Yeah,” Kai said again. “Except we had Zane with us.”

 

Faith raised an eyebrow. “Who is this Zane you speak of?”

 

Suddenly a thick, uncomfortable silence fell over the three. They hadn’t spoken about him since they had fought Slab. Bringing him up was too painful for any of them. They knew they couldn’t ignore reality, but thinking of the innocent, selfless nindroid turned into a bloodthirsty monster hellbent on vengeance. And it was all their fault.

 

Jay turned and looked at Faith, who was still waiting for an answer. What do they tell her? Do they tell her about what Zane used to be? Or do they tell her about Windigo, the vicious and merciless rendition of the former ice ninja that seemed to have crawled out of the deepest pits of the Underworld?

 

Jay felt a lump in his throat at the thought of what Zane had become. Why hadn’t they seen this coming earlier? What could they have done differently to stop all this? Could it all have been prevented?

 

“Well, you see…” Kai began. “Zane’s our friend…”

 

“Was.” Cole corrected. “He was. He was the ice ninja. He had powers just like us. He was one of the best people any of us had ever known.”

 

“So what happened, then?” Faith asked. “You speak of him as if he is no longer here.”

 

“I-it’s a long story.” Jay said. “But we all pushed him away. He left us and went to the dark side.” He blinked back tears as they threatened to fall. “Now he isn’t Zane anymore. He’s Windigo.”

 

Faith was about to question who this Windigo was, but seeing the torn looks on their faces, she decided to not press the matter further.

 

Silence fell over them again. Wu turned to Faith.

 

“Why do you wear the mask?” He asked her.

 

Faith sighed. “That was the Iron Baron’s idea. He didn’t want the others to know that one of his greatest hunters was a woman. He forbade me to ever take it off.”

 

“So the others don’t know?” Wu asked.

 

“Iron Baron has a way to control us all. It’s either his way, or you are cast out. But when you find the armor, you can control Firstbourne. Then we can all leave this forsaken place.

 

“That’s right…” Jay said. “Dragons are the only creatures that can ferry between realms.”

 

“If we find the Dragon Armor, we can get home.” Cole said.

 

Faith cocked her head. “What is this place you call home?”

 

“It’s called Ninjago.” Kai said.

 

“Ninja-go?” she repeated, mispronouncing the name.

 

“A place where no one forces you to wear a mask.” Cole told her.

 

“It’s a beautiful place.” Said Wu. “At least it used to be. Before my brother soured it. Which is why we need to return. Could you tell me more about my father? Some things I remember. Others I forget.”

 

“Every child in the First Realm knows the tale of the FSM. Because your father was born of both Oni and Dragon, he found a bond with the dragon mother, and she with him. With her fire, and his metal, they forged the Dragon Armor. Stories say he rode the magnificent beast, but not with chains. He would soar through the skies only with the respect they had for one another. Together they sought to put an end to the devastating war and unite the realm. But there were those who wouldn’t allow it.

 

“Why?”

 

“The Oni and the Dragon have always been mortal enemies. And there are some divides that can never be bridged. Seeing there would never be peace, your father was devastated. He took off his armor and left the First realm in hopes of finding the peace he was searching for.

 

“And Firstbourne?”

 

“She remained behind faithfully guarding the armor until his return.”

 

“But he never came.” Cole said.

 

“Which is why you think Master Wu can find it.” Kai said.

 

“Think?” Faith said. “I know he can. Otherwise, we’ll die.”

 

Then, over the sound of the howling wind, the ninja and Faith heard something else. It was the low hum of heavy vehicles approaching from the horizon.

 

Faith squinted through the shimmering air.

 

“Hunters.” She said. “They’ve found us.” She jammed her mask over her head and ran to her vehicle. “Do exactly as I say.” She grabbed loops of chain from the seat. “Put these on. Quick, if you want to live!”

 

The four quickly tied themselves up as Faith pulled on the rest of her armor. No sooner had she finished did the other Hunters pull up next to them.

 

“Aye, you caught them, Heavy Metal!” said Daddy No Legs, followed behind by Muzzle. He looked at Wu and mumbled something incoherent to No Legs.

 

“What do you want?” Heavy Metal snapped.

 

“You can’t possibly take them back by yourself-” No Legs began.

 

“So you can leave.”

 

No Legs shrugged. “Well I see we aren’t wanted.” The two walked back to their vehicles. “We’ll be on our way. I’ll tell Baron the good news.”

 

Muzzle peered at Wu and mumbled something undistinguishable to No Legs, who turned around.

 

“Why yes, he does look taller. But he was in a disguise last time we saw him.”

 

Muzzle grumbled again, and suddenly it was like a lightbulb went off in No Leg’s head.

 

“Wait a minute, hold it right there!” He said. “Until we can get this figured out!”

 

Kai saw that their cover was about to be blown, so he stuck out his foot and tripped No Legs

 

“Tie them up!” Faith yelled. The three ninja and Wu jumped out of their chains and tackled Muzzle and No Legs before chaining them up.

 

“You’re a traitor!” No Legs yelled. “Iron Baron will have your head for this!”

 

The five ignored him and ran to their vehicles.

 

“Go on and run! You won’t get far!”

 

“With your speeders, we’ll have a running start!”

 

The five sped off into the desert and left No Legs and Muzzle in the dust.

 

“You’re no better than those shapeshifting Oni!” No Legs screamed after them. “You hear me, Heavy Metal?! YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS!”

 

“Which way?” Faith called over the sound of the wind whistling in her ears.

 

“That way!” Wu said, pointing ahead of them.

 

“Into the unknown.” Kai said, staring into the shimmering horizon ahead.

 

“And then, Ninja-ho!” faith cried.

Chapter Text

“Harumi Darling, I’m bored, would you like to pick the next target?” asked Zane

“Actually, could we do something together that doesn’t involve bloodshed? As much fun as it is proving your power over the people, the tower is beginning to smell,” said Harumi.

 

“What did you have in mind?” asked Zane, it amazed her how his voice could go from blood thirsty and terrifying to soft and sweet in an instant.

 

“Could the floor be cleaned up and we send all the others away while we dance again?” asked Harumi hopefully.

 

“Of course, anything for you darling,” said Zane.

 

“Could you also flipp the mask to the top of your head while we dance? I wanna dance in the arms of the nindroid I fell in love with,” she said.

“As long as I can put it on if I need to then I see no reason not to allow my beloved her wish,” said Zane. He then turned to Ultra and Killow.

 

“Get someone to clean this mess up, my darling is right, this place stinks,” said Windigo, his tone harsh once again.

Within the next half hour the tower was cleaned and vacated except for the two lovers. Zane had ordered Ultra to bring a music player and Zane and Harumi were dancing to a romantic song (Tale as old as time in a minor key)

 

The setting sun cast long shadows over the barren waste of sand when the Iron Baron and some of his hunters pulled up next to Daddy No Legs and Muzzle who sat on the ground, chained. No Legs turned to Muzzle. “Let me do the talking.” He said. Muzzle mumbled in response.

 

Iron Baron leaned out of the window of the Dieselnaut. “Who’s responsible for this? Heavy Metal?”

 

“Technically, the ninja too.” No Legs said.

 

Baron growled and slammed his fist on the door. “First they destroy our village, free our dragons, and now they’ve stolen my best hunter?!” He kicked something at the dash. “Ahh!”

 

One of the hunters, Jet Jack stepped forwards. “Let me find them!” She suggested. “With a fleet of my own, I can catch them by sundown.”

 

Baron seemed to ponder over this idea before nodding with a grunt, flustered. Chew Toy got off his own vehicle and crouched down to the ground.

 

“Yeah, yeah, yep.” He said, sniffing at the sand. He crawled around. “Oh, I smell ‘em, haha! Onto that sweet, sweet scent.”

 

He sniffed around a few more times before standing up. “Six hours ahead of us and that way!” He said, pointing.

 

Baron growled. “Then hunt them down!”

 

“No one touches Heavy Metal!” Jet Jack said. “I want him for myself!”

 

 

Despite it being almost evening, the sun was still burning hot in the sky. Jay’s throat was so dry it almost felt like it was cracking. In desperate need of refreshment, he unscrewed the lid of his canteen and took a big gulp.

 

Kai huffed and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “I’m parched…” he said, turning to see Jay drinking.

 

“Hey!” He cried. “You drank my water!”

 

Jay gasped as Kai snatched the bottle from his hands.

 

“Hey!” He said. “That’s mine!”

 

“Yours?! You said we were sharing it! It’s already half-gone!”

 

“I’m the only one?! Cole has a little!”

 

“Admit it, you’re a water hog!”

 

Faith had been hearing them argue and did he best to ignore it, but now it was too much to bear. She grabbed her Dragonbone Blade and stormed over to the two, irate. Seeing her stomping over, the two immediately backed off.

 

“Whoa, whoa, hey!” Jay said as she came closer.

 

She growled and raised her blade-

 

“Careful, careful!” Kai said, covering his head.

 

-Ony for her to slice open a cactus right next to the two.

 

“There.” She growled. “Now we all have water.”

 

She stalked off, leaving Jay and Kai to stare at each other awkwardly before looking down at the cactus Faith had just cut.

 

Even though it was green and spiny on the outside, the inside was smooth and white. The inside was hollow and filled with a clear liquid.

 

Jay shrugged his shoulders. “Faith knows. It can’t be that bad.”

 

Kai shrugged and started gulping the water.

 

“Oh wow this is very thirst quenching,” said Kai.

 

Suddenly his pupils dilated and he decided to advertise it to everyone.

 

“Drink Cactus Juice, it’ll quench ya, nothing’s quienchier, it’s the quenchiest,” he grinned like an idiot while doing the worm on the sand.

 

Jay took a few steps back, appalled. “Kai, what the fu-”

 

“Who lit Wu on fire?” asked Kai.

 

“Can I get some of that cactus?” asked Wu.

 

“Let’s keep moving,” said Cole

 

“How did we get out here in the middle of the ocean?” Kai asked in a daze.

 

“Let’s just keep moving,” said Faith.

 

“Did you know that would happen?” asked Cole.

 

“At least they are no longer arguing,” said Faith.

 

“So, you did know,” said Cole.

 

A dust cloud billowed up in the distance behind them.

 

“It’s a giant MUSHROOM!” exclaimed Kai. “Maybe it’s friendly!”

 

“Let's move,” said Faith.

 

“Friendly Mushroom! Mushy giant friend,” said Kai while imitating an inflatable tube man.

 

“LETS GO KAI!” exclaimed Cole dragging Kai by the ear. He pulled the baked fire ninja behind him as Kai continued to babble incoherently and giggle. Cole rolled his eyes.

 

“Something tells me this is gonna be a looong trip…” the earth ninja sighed.

 

Up ahead, Faith sighed too. “How you have survived this long is beyond me.”

 

Faith walked past Wu, who was staring out at the distance. Cole saw it.

 

“You know, Master Wu,” Cole said to the young sensei once the former hunter was out of earshot. “You’re eventually going to have to tell her that you don’t know where the Dragon Armor is.”

 

“My father told me to have faith.” Wu told him. “And then we find someone named Faith the same day? That’s no coincidence!”

 

“But that was a dream!” Cole said. “What if you’re wrong? What if there is no armor? What if you’re leading us to...to...something worse?”

 

“I choose not to focus on that.”

 

Cole sighed. “It’s hard to admit you’re wrong. But it’s harder to do what’s right. And you never taught us to take the easier path. I know you have faith, but you also have a responsibility to tell her the truth.”

 

Wu looked over his shoulder and his eyes went wide.

 

“There is great trouble behind you.” He said.

 

“Hey, don’t go and make this about me!”

 

“No, there’s great trouble behind you!”

 

Cole turned around. His heart dropped.

 

“Uuuh guys?”

 

Faith saw and narrowed her eyes. “Baron’s hunters.” She said. “We need to go.”

 

They jumped on their vehicles and Faith jammed on her mask as they sped off.

 

“Don’t let Kai drive!” exclaimed Jay.

 

Cole shoved Kai on the back of his vehicle as he stepped on the gas. They were fast, but not fast enough. Soon the hunters had caught up with them and forced the ninja and Faith into a frenzied pursuit. Jet Jack pulled ahead of the others, behind Heavy Metal.

 

“I always knew you were a defector!” Jet Jack yelled at her.

 

Meanwhile, Kai was finally finally coming down from his cactus high. He groaned and rubbed his head. Looking around and finally coming back to his senses, he was confused to find himself on the back of Cole’s vehicle with the dragon hunters hot on their tail.

 

One of them pointed a chain gun at them. Kai yelped as he rolled to avoid the chain and fell off only to be caught by Jay.

 

Another chain whizzed past them and wrapped itself around the back of Jay’s vehicle. He stomped on the gas to try and escape, but the chain wouldn’t give.

 

“Hold on!” he yelled and grabbed hold of Kai as another chain wrapped around before slamming on the brakes. The chains suddenly pulled back, yanking the two hunter out of their seats and making them crash. The chain guns fell away.

 

Chew Toy and Jet Jack were both pursuing Heavy Metal. Seeing she needed help, Jay sped up and paced Faith.

 

“Kai, go with Faith, help her!”

 

Kai nodded and found his balance before jumping from Jay’s vehicle to Faith’s.

 

“Hold on!” She told him. She jerked to the side.

 

Chew Toy was just about to shoot a chain gun at Faith before she moved, leaving Jet Jack in his path.

 

Seeing this, she turned around. “No, wait!”

 

But the chain had already found itself wrapped around Jet Jack’s vehicle.

 

“Ha!” Kai said. “We did that!”

 

His smile vanished as Jet Jack activated her jetpack and continued the pursuit after them

 

“Whiiiich isn’t much…”

 

Up ahead in the distance was cliffs and canyons. As the ninja and hunters sped by, they awoke a sleeping ice dragon. It groggily opened its eyes and blinked. Seeing the humans, it decided to give chase.

 

A roar made Kai look to his left. He didn’t like what he saw.

 

“Uh oh…” he said when he saw the dragon pursuing them too. “Faith, we got more company!”

 

“Switch!” Faith said. She jumped from the seat and held the wheel while Kai took her spot. She grabbed her chain gun. “Lose them in the canyons!”

 

They entered the canyons, ducking, dodging, and weaving between rocks in an attempt to shake the hunters and dragon off, but they wouldn’t give.

 

Faith climbed on the roof. “Steady!” She told him.

 

With an expert hand and a sharp aim, Faith pulled the trigger of the chain gun, taking out the dragon and wiping out the other hunters.

 

Cole raised a fist into the air and whooped. “Alright! We’re home free!”

 

Thunk!

 

Wu turned. “Spoke too soon!”

 

Cole turned and saw Jet Jack climbing up to the seat.

 

“Wu, do something!”

 

Reaching forward, Wu pressed the button to Jack’s jetpack, making her fly off backwards. But not before she stuck a tracking device to the underside of the machine without them noticing.

 

“Ha!” Cole said as they lost the last of the hunters. “Nice work!”

 

“Just taking responsibility.”

 

“Where to, son of the FSM?” Faith asked.

 

Wu looked around. “An easier path.” He pointed to an opening that led out of the canyons. “That way.”

 

 

Jet Jack’s jetpack sputtered and smoked. She was able to stagger and land awkwardly in front of Iron Baron, who was waiting expectantly with his arms crossed.

 

“Well?” He demanded. “Did you catch them?”

 

“No,” panted Jet Jack. She held up a radio transmitter, which showed a red dot on a radar. “But I know where they’re going.”

 

Darkness had begun to settle over the desert when Faith and the ninja stopped. Just ahead of them, a line of dragon skulls on sticks stretched as far as the eye could see. Beyond, they could barely see broken jagged mountains through a blue, ashy haze.

 

Faith looked at the dragon heads apprehensively. “Are you sure it’s this way?”

 

Jay joined Faith in looking at the heads. He shuddered. “Well, we’re not going back, otherwise our skulls will be on spikes next.”

 

Cole leaned over to Wu. “Think before you answer, Master.” He said. “You have a responsibility to do at least that.”

 

Wu nodded. “Yes.” he said. “The dragon armor is that way.”

 

Faith seemed to become crestfallen. “I was afraid you would say that.”

 

“Afraid?” Kai asked. “Huh. You don’t seem like the type to be afraid.”

 

Faith turned to him. “This is Oni land. As long as we stay on our side, they stay on theirs.” She looked out past the impaled dragon skulls. “But we need the dragon armor.”

 

“Need? That’s a strong word. There could be other ways of getting home.” Cole said.

 

“Cole, gaining Firstbourne’s trust so her dragons can take us back to Ninjago is the only way.” Jay said. “Yes, it’s a strong word, and we need the armor because we need to get back, and we need to stop Windigo before he plunges all of Ninjago into an eternal winter!”

 

Besides turning him into a psychedelic idiot, the cactus juice had also numbed the pain of Windigo’s scratches on Kai’s torso. But now that its effects had worn off and at the mention of his assailant, he was blindsided by such a pain it made him fall to his knees, clutching his stomach.

 

“Kai, are you okay?” Cole asked, rushing to his side.

 

Kai sucked in a breath before nodding. “Yeah…” he grunted. “It just hurts…”

 

After awhile he managed to get back on his feet, though his abdomen was still tender. Wu turned to Faith.

 

“How dangerous are these Oni?” He asked her.

 

“Dangerous enough that when Iron Baron and his bravors crossed the line to get the Dragon Blade, he was the only one to come back.” Faith said. “Oni have a dark magic about them, a destructive magic. They are like nightfall, a consuming darkness. After the stories Baron told us, we know better than to search these lands. Are you sure the dragon armor is this way?”

 

“I think so?”

 

“Do not let fear guide you.” Faith told Wu. “Your first instinct is usually correct.”

 

Faith looked up at the sky. Slowly, an orange moon was rising from the east, giving them some light to travel by. But in the west, clouds were gathering and headed their way. A breeze began to blow, cold and hollow.

 

“We must go before it gets any darker.”

 

 

Even in the dead of night, screaming could be heard throughout the streets as the SOG slowly but surely overtook more neighborhoods. People grabbed what little they had left before fleeing their homes and running aimlessly into the snowy darkness. Their terrified cries reached the poorer end of the city, where the Resistance was hiding, huddled in a ramshackled building for warmth and protection from the SOG’s prying eyes.

 

Nya peered out from behind the tattered tarp that served as a window cover.

 

“It’s chaos out there.” She said, drawing it back. “But we’re safe for now.”

 

“Alright, you’ve had your fill.” Lloyd said to Mystake. “Now, are you gonna tell us how you turned into a rat?”

 

Misako finished chewing her last bite of noodles and finished it with a slurp of tea. “Ahh! The rat is easy.” She said. “How about this?

 

Then right before their very eyes, Misako suddenly morphed into Wu before turning back. She giggled. “Not too shabby for an old woman!”

 

Skylor and Nya gasped. Lloyd wore a look of disbelief.

 

“Y-you’re an Oni!” He said. She nodded.

 

“B-but all this time...and we never knew!”

 

“But Oni are dangerous.” Skylor said. “All they want to do is destroy, right?”

 

“We are.” Mystake said. “You do not want to be on our bad side.”

 

“But how did you get here?” Nya asked.

 

“During the time of legend.” Lloyd said, finally putting the pieces together. “When they crossed over to pursue the FSM. When he fled the Realm of Oni and Dragon.

 

“You listen well, Master Garmadon.” Mystake said. “Since your grandfather was born of both worlds, our mission was to follow him and turn him to our side, or destroy him if he refused. But he wouldn’t serve, and I fell in love with the world he created. My fellow Oni wanted to complete the mission, but I turned on them. And I have helped the FSM ever since. Did you ever wonder how Master Wu and Garmadon lived so long? It’s our Oni blood.”

 

“But how have you kept your secret for so long?” Skylor asked.

 

“Transformation is a powerful ability.” Mystake answered.

 

“I’m part Oni.” Lloyd said. “Why can’t I do that?”

 

“Transform?” Mystake asked. “You’ve been transforming your entire life! From bratty child to the destined Green Ninja, and now the leader of the Resistance. But to endure and in order to defeat Windigo, you must transform again.”

 

“Into what?” Lloyd asked, fearing she would say the worst.

 

With each passing day, Windigo was getting stronger, and the amount of innocent victims that perished from under his hand got higher and higher. Whether they perished from the cold, killed by the SOG, or brutally murdered by Windigo himself, dozens of Ninjago City residents were lost by the day.

 

Defeating Windigo would be difficult, and reforming him would be nearly impossible. Even if Lloyd did find a way to defeat the blood crazed tyrant and pry him from the dark hold of the Mask of Tyranny, there would be nothing left of him to save. He would never be a shadow of his former Zane self again.

 

He thought about what Nya and Skylor had told him a couple days ago. He could deny it all he wanted, but deep down inside he knew they were right.

 

“There is but one final step for you, young master.” Mystake told him.

 

Lloyd gulped and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to fight back the tears that threatened to fall. Just the thought of having to watch his brother die made him feel sick.

 

“I-I know what I must do…” Lloyd whimpered. “But...I don’t know if I have the strength to do it…”

 

“That is your final step.” Mystake said, knowing just as well what Lloyd meant. “You must find the strength to do what is right, even if it rips you apart from the inside out.”

 

 

“What do you mean you couldn’t find him?” Windigo snarled. “You can spot the green ninja from a mile away, he sticks out like a sore thumb!”

 

Killow bowed his head. “I’m sorry, my emperor.” He said. “We’ve combed the city left and right and left again, there’s no sign of him.”

 

“Nonsense!” The ice demon hissed. He slammed a fist on the armrest of his throne. “He’s here somewhere. I can sense it. I want you to keep searching, and don’t come back until you find him! He may be smart, but you and the others need to be smarter! And if you come only to tell me that you couldn’t find him,” Windigo pointed a bony claw at the row of the frozen heads of his victims. “You’ll be next! Understood?”

 

Killow gulped and nodded his head. For the first time, he found himself fearing for his life.

 

“Y-yes, emperor Windigo.” He said, voice quaking.

 

Windigo glowered at him. “Good.” He growled. “Now get out of my sight!”

 

Killow didn’t waste any time, almost running away as he left. Windigo watched him scuttle away before flopping back on his throne. Needing to breathe, he flipped the mask to the top of his head before burying his face in his hands. He growled in frustration. Harumi saw his distress and got up off her own throne and walked over to her beloved.

 

“Zane, what is the matter?” She asked softly.

 

“Brainless, all of them!” Zane said. “They’ve been searching the entire city twice over and still can’t find the green ninja! And when they did, he slipped right past them! I should just go and do it myself! I could find him faster than all them combined!”

 

“I don’t think that is a good idea.” Harumi told him. “If you go down there, the Resistance could be able to have an opening to take you down. It's safer for you up here.”

 

Only Harumi could speak to Zane like that. If it was anyone else, not a moment would be wasted for their head to be put on a spike. She was the only one he would listen to. Even as the darkness of the Mask of Tyranny corrupted his heart, part of it had remained free, a spot where Harumi held. Even in the peaks of his wicked power, the seemingly merciless emperor would drop his facade to show Harumi affection. It was the last bit of his soul that we wouldn’t let the darkness touch.

 

Zane sat back and pondered over her words for a moment. “Very well, I suppose you are right.” he said. He growled again. “But still…”

 

Harumi made herself comfortable on his lap. “I know it’s frustrating.” She said, running a hand through his hair. “But they will get him.”

 

“I hope so…”

 

“What do you plan to do with him?”

 

“Make him suffer. I want him to feel the same kind of pain he and my other so-called brothers put me through. I want him to watch helplessly as the world he was destined to protect crumbles before his eyes. I want him to regret even walking the face of the earth.”

 

“And the others?”

 

“They’re already taken care of. I watched them be crushed with my own eyes. Once I end the green ninja, all of my “brothers” will be gone.”

 

“May I ask you something?” Harumi asked Zane. He looked down at her.

 

“Well, of course. What is it?”

 

“Who needs brothers when you have a wife?”

 

It took Zane a moment to register what she had said. “A... what?”

 

“A wife.” Harumi repeated. She smiled and got up and took Zane’s hand, gently pulling him so he stood up. “Darling, we’ve been together for quite some time now, and I knew from the start that we were meant to be. We came into each other’s lives at just the right time, when we needed each other the most. We’ve raised each other to new heights we couldn't have ever dreamed of. Now look at us. It’s only right that we make it official...so long as you want to as well.”

 

Even though he was in disbelief, Zane took Harumi’s other hand in his own and held it close to him.

 

“I thought you’d never ask.” he said, smiling, that one piece of his heart swelling with happiness, a kind of happiness he had not felt since the mask had taken hold of him. “Of course I will take you as my wife. I would a thousand times over.”

 

He gently cupped Harumi’s face and gave her a long deep kiss. Harumi was faintly aware of a cool sensation wrapping around one of her fingers. Once they broke the kiss, Harumi looked down and gasped.

 

Around her ring finger was a ring. The band was black and smooth, made of black ice. In the center was a piece of glowing purple ice, shaped and cut like a teardrop gemstone. Looking at Zane’s hand she saw a matching ring on the same finger.

 

Harumi looked at it with tears in her eyes. “It’s beautiful…”

 

“Not as beautiful as you, my Empress” Zane said, cupping her face again. Harumi hugged him lovingly.

 

“I love you, Zane.” She whispered.

 

“I love you too, Harumi.” He said.

 

Before he knew it, Zane’s bride had caught her groom’s lips in another heartfelt kiss.

 

 

Faith and the ninja had been driving through Oni territory for a few hours now, going slow and keeping an eye out for the creatures or any other danger. Their journey had taken them through the desert riddles with sharp rocks. With Wu guiding them, they had driven through the jagged canyons of the hills, twisting and turning every which way. The moon’s light didn’t reach here, so the canyon floor was blanketed in darkness. They could barely see that they were about to run into a rock wall and slammed on the breaks.

 

“It’s a dead end.” Cole growled.

 

Kai stepped out of his vehicle and cautiously looked around. Jay and the others followed.

 

Kai looked over his shoulder and saw a dark figure looming behind Jay. He yelped.

 

“Oni!” He yelled, throwing fire at it.

 

It turned out it wasn’t an Oni, but a piece of carved rock.

 

“Not an Oni.” Cole said. He stepped up and ran his hand over the figure. “It’s a statue…”

 

They peered close and saw Cole was right. Although worn from centuries of weathering, it was chiseled to depict a horned and fanged creature with narrow eyes.

 

Wu looked up at the dark canyon.

 

“Kai, use your fire again.”

 

Kai walked up next to Wu and lit his fist.

 

In the light of Kai’s element, what stood in front of them was not a canyon face, but a huge stone arch. A huge pair of stone slabs to serve as a gate was cracked open to reveal a worn path littered with broken rocks and lined with spikes, dragon skulls, and more statues. At the top of the arch sat a huge carving of a head of a fanged and horned creature.

 

“Is this…?” Jay asked.

 

“An Oni stronghold.” Wu finished. “And it’s open…”

 

 

“As a celebration of our wedding I have decided to deal the biggest blow to the resistance yet,” announced Zane.

 

Harumi looked puzzled but then felt her gut sink, only one person would mean that much to Lloyd.

“BRING ME THE MOTHER OF THE GREEN NINJA! THE CHEATING WHORE MISAKO!” shouted Windigo.

 

“Yes my emperor,” bowed Ultra, almost cackling at the thought of another murder.

 

‘Sick bitch.’ thought Harumi as the bloody thirsty monster that was her husband sat back on his throne, drumming his claws on the hand rest in anticipation.

An hour later a chained Misako was thrown at Windigo’s feet.

“Hello, Misako…..” sneered Windigo

Chapter Text

Lloyd watched the screen in horror as Windigo smiled wickedly at Misako.

 

“Get away from her, you monster!” cried Lloyd as he watched Windigo pace around Misako.

 

“I must say, you and your son put up quite the fight but you’ll be pleased to know that you get to abandon him one more time,” smiled Windigo.

 

“I never abandoned my son,” she said defiantly.

 

“Oh ho ho, the worst mother in the city has a sense of humor does she? Tell me, were you ever there when he needed you? You dropped him off at Darkley’s as an infant so you could pursue a prophecy that wouldn’t come true for years, you leave him again every time he is going to fight a massive battle, tell me, have you ever cared about your family? I think you’d rather get in Wu’s pants again rather than be a mother, I’m genuinely surprised he loves you as much as he does. I think you are a cheating, lying, bitch and I’d be ashamed to call you my mother if I was Lloyd. I’ll be surprised if he mourns you for very long, with how he grew up he should be used to losing his family over and over, I thought he’d be numb by now. My father loved me unconditionally, can you say for a fact that you, Garmadon, or Wu ever told Lloyd you loved him? You will die as the failure you are, and I will take great pride in riding my world of the whole line of the First Spinjitzu Master one by one. Two have fallen, time for a third,” he grinned as he waved his hand and ice encased her.

 

“Husband and wife, side by side. My darling this cheating bitch shall be the back of your new throne, just as her husband serves for me,” grinned Zane.

 

Harumi gave a wry grin. She wasn’t entirely on board but her husband was too dangerous for her to rely on love and vows to protect her. She held her tongue and sat on her new throne. Zane reached to hold her hand and she accepted it. It blew her mind how someone so vicious and bloodthirsty could be such a gentle person at the same time.

 

‘It’s that mask conflicting with his true personality,’ she reasoned, she married Zane, not Windigo. Windigo was now that mask, the nickname had become the monster and she was not married to the monster.

 

“Something troubling you my darling?” asked Zane.

 

“Could you put the mask on your head and hold me? I want your warm arms around me, not icy bones,” she asked timidly. Windigo complied, the part of Zane’s heart the mask could not control refused to give in to the mask’s hold.

 

She crawled into Zane’s lap and felt his strong arms wrap securely around her, once again bringing her to wonder how such warmth could come from a cold hardened heart, and for the millionth time she wondered how anyone could betray that warmth. She felt his lips press against her forehead and she decided that for now she would stop worrying about right and wrong, Zane was still there, the mask had yet to win.

 

 

“NO!” screamed Lloyd, falling to his knees.

 

“We can’t sit around doing nothing, we have to make another stand against Windigo,” said Nya, she pulled him close.

 

“H-he’s gone too for…” Lloyd sobbed. “Too goddamn far!”

 

Skylor rested a hand on Lloyd’s shoulder. “I know he has. He crossed the line a long time ago. Which is why we need to strike sooner than later.”

 

“B-but how?” Lloyd sniffed. “H-he killed my mom, Skylor, you saw what he did…”

 

“I know.” Skylor said. “And I’ve got a plan…”

 

 

The SOG rolled into the poorer side of town, given orders by Windigo to scour every inch of the city and not come back until they had the green ninja. Harumi had gone with them, despite Zane’s protests. He let her go only since she swore over and over she’d be safe. Since her dress would be a hindrance while riding the bike she was wearing a skin tight leather biker outfit with a amethyst studded belt and inch high heeled boots, she rode behind Ultra. Their bikes’ headlights panned over the dilapidated buildings, causing the citizens to scatter from them like rats.

 

A man ran past Killow, who leaned over and picked him up.

 

“The Green Ninja,” Killow growled. “Have you seen him?”

 

When the man didn’t answer, Killow threw him into a nearby river.

 

“Who can tell me?” Harumi yelled at the fleeing citizens. “I know you’re hiding him! Don’t you dare defy your Empress!”

 

Two more citizens ran by, and the SOG quickly cornered them on their bikes.

 

“The Green Ninja.” Killow growled. “Have you seen him?”

 

The two shook their heads fervently, eyes wide as they trembled.

 

Harumi narrowed her eyes. “They’re lying.” She said. “Make them tell the truth.”

 

Suddenly a sharp whistle cut through the air. The SOG looked up.

 

“Look!” One of them cried.

 

They turned just in time to see a flash of green vanish behind a corner. Harumi growled.

 

“Don’t let him get away!” She cried.

 

The SOG gunned their bikes in pursuit. Killow whiskey-throttled his bike as he ran over an unseen obstacle and lost control, falling into a boat docked at the river. He groaned and sat up, rubbing his head. As his swimming vision began to come back into focus, he saw Nya standing on end, and the wooden vessel was moving underneath them like a motorboat.

 

“How are you driving?!” He asked, not aware Nya was using her water powers.

 

Nya grinned. “I have my ways.”

 

Meanwhile, two other SOG members were giving chase to Lloyd, and turned the corner that led to a dead end of an alleyway. But they were confused to see only a rat sitting on a pile of garbage where the Green Ninja should have been.

 

“Huh?” One of them said. “Where’d he go?”

 

Suddenly the rat morphed into Mystake, who grinned.

 

“Expecting someone else?” She said before lunging at the two.

 

One by one, the SOG were picked off by the last members of the Resistance, in which Harumi found herself alone, surrounded on all sides by Lloyd, Mystake, Skylor and Nya.

 

“I don’t know why you’re still trying.” Harumi growled. “Windigo is already more powerful than you’ll ever be. Soon he’ll bring all of Ninjago to his knees, and you’ll watch as the world as you know it crumble from underneath you!”

 

“He may have killed my mother and all my friends, but I won’t let him get to me that way. I know Zane’s still there under the mask of Windigo somewhere, and I won’t stop until I find him!” Lloyd said, advancing on Harumi.

 

“There’s nothing left of him to save!” Harumi snapped. “Zane’s gone, Lloyd. Windigo is all that’s left of him!”

 

Lloyd raised an eyebrow. “Really?” He asked. He pointed to the ring on Harumi’s hand. “Then what’s that?”

 

Harumi glanced down at the ring, the purple stone glimmering in the darkness. She looked back up at Lloyd, without an answer.

 

“That’s what I thought.” Lloyd said. “You see, I’ve known Zane for a long time. I may not know as much as I thought, but I know that no matter how strong the hold that mask may have on him, deep down he’s still in there. The mask hasn’t won over yet, and I won’t let it.”

 

 

The pair of stone doors that served as a gate creaked open to reveal a long stone corridor lined with stone spikes. Ash, dirt, and debris littered the floor. The place appeared to have been abandoned long ago.

 

“Where is everyone?” Cole asked, looking around as they walked.

 

Kai moved his fist, the light from his flame illuminating the walls. He shrugged. “Well whoever was here, they’re gone now…”

 

Faith growled. “That liar! All this time it was just a story. It was all made up!”

 

“What?” Jay asked. “What do you mean?”

 

“Iron Baron.” She hissed. “He made us believe this was Oni land. But no one’s ever seen one because- Look around! They’re gone! Argh!” She threw her hands up in frustration.

 

Cole thought, putting the pieces together. “Baron…” He began. “He used the fear of the Oni to control you.”

 

“He wasn’t enslaving dragons!” Faith shouted. “He was enslaving us!” She kicked a piece of wood in her path.

 

“How could I have been so stupid?!” She raged. She whipped around to face Wu.

 

“Is any of this true?! Is there even the Dragon Armor?!”

 

Wu was rooted to his spot, unsure of what to do.

 

“I think she’s asking you, Wu.” Cole said. The young master gulped.

 

“I-I don’t know…” He admitted.

 

“Don’t know? Don’t know?!” Cried Faith, who was getting angrier and angrier by the second. “What do you mean you don’t know?! Do you realize how much I sacrificed to help you?! If Iron Baron finds us, he’ll- ARRGH!”

 

Faith turned into a hissing, spitting, angry tirade, taking her anger out on almost everything in sight. Wu looked down at the floor and sighed, looking crestfallen. Cole rested a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I know that was hard to do,” Cole said. “But it’s better than to admit the truth than to carry on a lie.”

 

“Yeah,” Jay said, coming up behind the two. “Even if we can’t get home, at least we can raise you up like you did.”

 

Kai joined them and sighed. “It’s a shame about the armor. I was starting to believe in myself.”

 

Wu looked up. In her rage, he saw that Faith had kicked the door partially closed, and something caught his eye that he had not seen previously. Getting up, he walked over to the gate. He grabbed them both and closed them.

 

“What are you doing?!” Faith cried as she ran to the gate. She slammed her fist on the cold stone. “No, no, no!”

 

“Do you mind?” Wu asked. He pointed up. “Look!”

 

They did, and they were shocked to see what appeared to be a map. The paint was faded and chipped, and things scrawled in an ancient language they couldn’t understand, but it was clear about where it led to.

 

“A map?” Kai asked.

 

“To the Dragon Armor!” Jay said. “It really is real!”

“It...is…” Faith said, catching her breath and staring wide eyed at the map in amazement. Wu turned to her.

 

“We have faith. And now we have a map. I told you.”

 

“Let’s poke around a little more.” Cole suggested. “Maybe there’s some other things that can help us.”

 

The others agreed and set about exploring the stronghold. The building itself was a castle-like structure made of stone bricks surrounded by rows of walls, but its walls were crumbling with age, black and twisted vines and roots forcibly grew from the cracks on the floors, walls, and ceilings. A cold, hollow wind blew through its corridors, making the ninja and Faith shiver. Many rooms, some smaller than others, were connected by a seemingly endless twisting system of halls and passages.

 

They had been walking through the tight passageways for what seemed like hours, though none of them seemed to be able to keep track of time in the near suffocating darkness. Kai’s flame was their only source of light, but even then the blackness seemed to press against its glow, trying to swallow it up and extinguish it.

 

Suddenly the hallway they were walking down opened up into one large room. Rows of stone arches supported the tall ceiling. The vines and roots grew more here, and the weathered walls were covered in moss. The floor was littered with broken bricks and dragon bones. In the center of the room was a large stone platform surrounded by steps. On the platform sat three smaller pillars, surrounding a larger one.

 

“What’s this?” Faith asked. “Another clue to the Dragon Armor?”

 

Wu shook his head. “I don’t know.” He said. “I don’t recall seeing this on the map.”

 

“Maybe we should check it out though, just in case.” Cole said. “There might be something on the map that we missed.”

 

“Be careful.” Faith said as they stepped forward. “We know nothing about these Oni. Anything can happen.”

 

The ninja nodded and began to set about exploring the room for any clues.

 

Interested by the pillars, Wu carefully stepped onto the platform. Wu approached the one of the smaller pillars cautiously and dusted off the top. He motioned to Kai.

 

“Hey, can you come over here?” He asked. “I need some light…”

 

Kai walked over and held his flaming fist above the pillar. Etched into the stone was a crude picture. But despite the primitive marks, it was clear what it was.

 

“It’s one of the Oni masks.” Kai said.

 

“What is it?” Jay asked, followed by Faith and Cole as they came over.

 

“It’s the Mask of Hatred.” Cole said. He pointed to another pillar. “Look. This one’s the Mask of Vengeance, and the other’s the Mask of Deception.”

 

Faith stepped over to the fourth pillar. She blew the dust off and peered at it.

 

“What is this?” She asked.

 

The others came over and looked at what she was pointing to. Carved into the rock was what appeared to be another mask, but different. It was more of a deer skull shape with branching antlers.

 

Cole recognized it in an instant.

 

“The mask of Tyranny.” he said. “It's what Zane wore that turned him into Windigo.”

 

“Even we hunters have heard the legend around that mask, it predates the First Spinjitzu Master. Legend says an Oni king named Dolion sought to combat the powers of creation with a destruction that would taint the powers of the Dragon forced to wield it. So he commissioned the makers of the other three masks to create a single mask that would combine the abilities of the other three and turn the wearer into the ultimate demon. But the temptation of the weapon proved too great and he placed it on his own face. Thousands of Oni fell by the king’s hand for once the mask had hold of him, even the few laws the Oni had were inconsequential to the mask. Dolion became so corrupted by the mask that it is said he feasted upon his fellow oni and became known as the tyrant king and it was know this mask was the cause of his tyrannical ways and thus became known as the Mask of Tyranny,” said Faith.

 

“So how did it get to Ninjago?” asked Kai.

 

“The mask was torn from Dolion by Firstbourne and cast into the sea where it was lost to time and became a mere legend amongst even the Oni, The Tragedy of Black Dolion the Vile,” said Faith.

 

“What happened to Dolion?” asked Cole.

 

“Legend says he was executed, cannibalism was too far for the Oni,”

 

“I really hope Zane isn’t eating people,” shuttered Jay.

 

“This means we have to find that armor soon or there will be nothing left to go home to,” said Kai.

 

“Great, so now we have to face both Garmadon and an ultra evil Zane, and might I remind everyone that Zane is powerful enough to DESTROY THE OVERLORD!” exclaimed Jay.

 

“You may not have to face both, the mask will never allow itself to be second in command to any being, it may have dealt with this Garmadon already,” said Faith.

 

“We are so hooped,” groaned Jay.

 

“Hooped is the wrong word Jay, we’re fucked,” said Kai.

 

 

“My generals have been here before!” Harumi yelled as she fought against her bonds. “It’s only a matter of time before they find me!”

 

Skylor, Mystake, Nya, and Lloyd had finished picking off the SOG and surrounded Harumi, whom they managed to take back to their small hut of a hideout. She was now sitting on a chair, her wrists and ankles tied up.

 

“I hate to say it, but she’s right.” Nya said to Lloyd. “Whatever it is that you and Skylor came up with, you need to execute it fast.”

 

Mystake and Skylor came out of the other room.

 

“Come,” The elderly woman said. “You need to see this.”

 

Harumi growled and grunted as she tried to free herself.

 

“Go on,” Nya said. “I’ll watch her.”

 

Lloyd nodded and followed the two to the other room. “What is it?”

 

Skylor picked up a leather pouch and grabbed something from inside. “I found this in her belongings.” What she pulled out made Lloyd gasp.

 

“The Mask of Hatred.” He said. Skylor nodded.

 

“If your elemental power doesn’t return, this will certainly help.” She said.

 

“But Oni powers are dark magic. Yield it only at your own peril.” gravely.

 

Lloyd looked at the mask apprehensively. Skylor wasn’t wrong. It would be a huge help in helping the Resistance defeat Windigo.

 

But Mystake was also right. Oni power was dark unlike any other. It was not one to be used lightly. Even those with the purest of hearts could fall victim to its dark grasp. One taste of its power was all it took. Lloyd had seen this for himself.

 

“So what do you want to do?” Skylor asked.

 

No. Lloyd would not use the mask. It was powerful, yes, and it would help him compensate for his elemental powers which he had lost. But if he were to use it, he would fall into the trap of its evil power. He was here to defeat Windigo, not become him.

 

Lloyd grabbed the mask and threw it out the door. It skidded and bounced across the floor and stopped at Harumi’s feet.

 

“My mask!” She cried. “Are you going to take it?”

 

“Save it, Harumi!” Lloyd snapped as he stormed back it. “I’m not using it. I’m not falling into the trap Zane did.”

 

Harumi raised an eyebrow.

 

“Very perceptive of you, Lloyd.” She said, sounding mildly impressed. “You’re smarter than you let on. If I can’t trick you, then perhaps I can deliver a message: Windigo will destroy you, and you can do nothing to stop it because you can’t change. Say what you want, Lloyd, but I know you don’t have it in you to hurt your brother.”

 

“You don’t know Lloyd.” Nya growled.

 

“Don’t I?” Harumi said tauntingly. “Let me ask you this: Do you see this ending well? You can’t because there is no happy ending.”

 

Even though Harumi couldn’t see by the look on his face, Lloyd cringed inwardly at her words as she realized deep down that she was right.

 

“Not too shabby for an old lady, eh?”

 

Lloyd and Nya turned to see Mystake- well, at least they knew it was her- transformed into Harumi.

 

Lloyd gasped. Nya grinned. “If she can turn into a rat, she can become a mole too!”

 

Harumi grunted as she again tested her bonds. “You think you can pass as me?” She said. “Nothing is beneath you!”

 

Mystake cleared her throat. “You think you can pass as me? Nothing is beneath you!” She said in her normal voice.

 

“Uh, your voice might give you away.” Skylor said.

 

Mystake hacked and coughed. “Perhaps it will sound more convincing…” Her voice suddenly transitioned into Harumi’s. “Like this?”

 

Nya smiled. “That’s wicked!”

 

“Okay, what’s this all for?” Lloyd asked. “Quit leaving me out of the loop!”

 

“Here’s the plan,” Skylor said. “You know the dragon, right? It’s basically Windigo’s equivalent of Garmadon’s Colossus. He controls it with his power.”

 

Lloyd raised an eyebrow “Okay?”

 

“As the Master of Amber, I’m able to absorb and borrow Windigo’s power. But to do that I need to be able to touch him. So Mystake disguised as Harumi will take me in front of him so I can touch him. Then we’ll be able to use his dragon against him.”

 

“You’ll never get away with it!” Harumi yelled.

 

Nya rolled her eyes and pulled out a bandana before tying around Harumi’s mouth.

 

“How about you be quiet, Quiet One?” The water ninja said. “It’s time for you to face the corner!”

 

“Mnnph-hmmph!” Harumi tried to say as Nya spun her chair around to face the wall.

 

Mystake, still disguised as Harumi, grabbed a length of rope and tied up Skylor loosely.

 

“You sure you’re okay with staying back?” she asked as Mystake finished.

 

“I’ll only be okay when this is all over.” Lloyd said. “Remember, only get close to Windigo to touch him. Once you get his power, get out of there. Please.”

 

 

The sun broke over the desert horizon, already beginning to shimmer with heat as the dragon hunters in their vehicles and choppers drove across the barren landscape. Jet Jack was ahead of the group, leading them on her motorcycle while following the signal on the radar.

 

Suddenly the said radar beeped, making Jet Jack look down. She braked her bike and held up her hand to signal the others to stop.

 

Iron Baron and the other hunters pulled up next to her in the Dieselnaut.

 

“Why are we stopping?” Asked Daddy No Legs.

 

Baron leaned out of the window. “I don’t know.” he said. “Jet Jack! Why did we stop?”

 

“They crossed into Oni territory.” She said. “You always told us to never cross that line.”

 

“But I see they did.”

 

“I’ll fight every last Oni, but only on your command.” Jack said. The other hunters nodded in agreement.

 

Iron Baron growled. “Heavy Metal betrayed me. We cross that line!”

 

 

Faith rose with the morning sun, stamping out the remains of a small fire they had built the previous night.

 

“The sun is up.” She told the waking ninja. She yanked a tattered piece of cloth Jay was using as a blanket. “We must go.”

 

Jay grumbled as he opened his eyes. “Heeyy…” He whined. “What happened to breakfast being the most important meal?”

 

“We’re getting closer to the Firstbourne’s nest.” Faith explained as she began loading her things. The ninja followed suit. “We will eat when the FSM’s son has the Dragon Armor, and we are all in Ninyeego.”

 

“It’s Ninjago.” Cole corrected. “It’s not that hard to pronounce.”

 

“You must be ready for what lies ahead.” Faith told them. “We have no idea what to expect.”

 

“But I thought you said reuniting Firstbourne with the son of the FSM would be a good thing?” Kai asked.

 

“But what if it’s not?” Faith answered Kai’s question with another question. “Coming face to face with a dragon is one thing, but facing the Mother of All Dragons is a test you cannot fail.” She picked up one of her chain guns and held it in her hands. “Our chains are the only means of survival in this realm. We live and die by these iron bonds and are a mastery of these things.” She handed the one she was holding to Kai. “Let me see you chain that rock.” She pointed to a big boulder sitting in the sand a few yards away from them. “Don’t worry. It won’t move, it should be easy.”

 

Kai made himself familiar with the trigger and safety of the chain gun. He stepped up to the rock and pointed the gun. “Watch and learn!”

 

Kai pulled the trigger. The gun kicked back in his hand so hard he stumbled and the chain went flying at Cole, who found himself surrounded by iron, unable to move. Jay burst out laughing.

 

“At least you got the Master of Rock!” The blue ninja snickered. Kai rolled his eyes.

 

“Yeah, well it’s harder than it looks!” He retorted.

 

Faith sighed. “Perhaps we should work on this…”

 

The three gathered around the rock and tried their hand at using the chain guns, none of them successful. Wu watched them for a time before Faith approached him.

 

“You need to learn too, Son of the Spinjitzu Master.” She told him, passing him yet another chain gun. “We are only as strong as our weakest link.”

 

Wu almost dropped the gun as he struggled to hold it, surprised by it’s weight. Awkwardly, He fixed the gun into the proper position into his arms. He struggled to reach for the trigger, and when he finally pulled it the chain barely even reached the rock.

 

Faith stepped forward. “We will not stop until all of us can do it.” Faith produced a chain gun of her own and aimed it at the rock. “Together.”

 

For the next few hours and under Faith’s guidance, they all practiced aiming, shooting, and reeling the guns. Eventually, all the ninja got the hang of it, but Wu still struggled. After countless attempts and still failing, Wu gave up. He reeled his chain back in, in which the gun hit him. Heaving a frustrated sigh, he threw down the gun and walked away before sitting on the ground with defeat.

 

Faith began to walk over to Wu, but was stopped by Kai. “Let me handle this,” He said.

 

Kai walked over to Wu and sat down next to him. Wu didn’t acknowledge his presence.

 

“You know what you need?” Kai told him. “Confidence.”

 

Wu snorted. “You mean cocky, like you?”

 

“No, not cocky.” Kai said. He cleared his throat. “Confidence. You know, the feeling that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. There was a time that I didn’t think I could be a ninja, but you pushed me to be better. Now I’m pushing you. I know you can do it, but what matters is what you think.”

 

Kai handed Wu’s chain gun to him and picked up his own. Together they walked back to the others, where Faith was waiting for them.

 

“Again.” She said.

 

The ninja and Wu took aim and pulled the trigger. Five chains shot out towards the boulder and wrapped themselves around it, Wu’s included. Seeing that he had finally done it, the young master beamed.

 

Suddenly there was a roar as a dark shadow passed over them. Flying through the sky was a yellow and blue dragon. Faith had an idea.

 

“Now let’s see if the Son of the Spinjitzu Master can ride a dragon!” She said, running to her vehicle. The others followed, chain guns in hand and sped off in pursuit of the dragon.

 

The dragon looked down at the ground below and saw it was being followed. It hissed in anger and swooped down, slashing its claws at the group before shooting back up in the sky.

 

“She smells your Oni blood, this will not be easy!” Faith told Wu. She turned to the others. “I’ll keep her close to the ground! You need to slow her down so Wu can get on!”

 

Cole’s chain whizzed through the air and wrapped itself around the dragon’s neck. He let out a whoop of glee before he was promptly electrocuted as the dragon’s lightning traveled through the iron and shocked him, making him withdraw.

 

“Aim for her wings! Stay away from her jaw!” Faith yelled over the roaring engine and the beating of the dragon’s wings as she swooped and slashed again as she tried to keep pace with the beast. “Work together!”

 

The three ninja all aimed their guns at various places of the dragon. Jay’s chain wrapped itself around its leg as it reeled back, pulling the dragon closer. Kai’s found hold on it’s forearm, and Cole’s snaked around it’s wing. Faith pulled out hers and it wrapped around its body. Seeing it was captured, the lightning dragon began roaring and thrashing as it tried to escape.

 

“Now is your chance!” Faith told Wu. “Go!”

 

Wu looked at the chains that led up to the angry dragon in the sky. He gulped, unsure if he was unable to do it. What if he couldn’t? What if he fell?

 

Faith saw his apprehension. “Don’t think!” She told him.

 

“You can do it!” Kai shouted.

 

“Ride it, Son of the Spinjitzu Master!”

 

Wu looked at the chains again and took a deep breath before jumping off the back of Faith’s vehicle. He grabbed on to the nearest chain and began climbing up. Soon he reached the top and grabbed onto the rows spines on its back as he hoisted himself on. He stood on it’s back as it flew, watching as the desert below rushed by.

 

“I-I’m doing it!” Wu said, a look of glee on his face. “I’m doing it!” The ninja down below cheered.

 

Suddenly the dragon broke free from the chains on its legs and began clawing at its wing. Wu lost his balance as the dragon jostled and fell off its back. He screamed as he plummeted to the ground.

 

“Wu!” Cole cried. He throttled his vehicle and shot forward as Wu fell through the sky. The earth ninja stood up in his seat and caught Wu in his arms just before he hit the ground. “You okay?!”

 

Wu panted and grinned. “I did it! Did you see? I really did it!”

 

“You may not be ready to face Firstbourne just yet,” Said Faith as she caught up with them. “But you are looking more like a dragon rider.”

 

 

The ninja and Faith had been driving across the desert for a few hours and had now stopped to rest under a rocky outcropping at the base of a hill. They were all gathered around a map that was spread out on the hood of one of their vehicles.

 

“To get to the Dragon Armor, we’ll need to get over these mountains.” Faith said, pointing to the map and gesturing to a range in the far distance.

 

Also in the distance, suddenly the revving of engines and chopping of helicopter blades could be heard. They all turned and looked, hearts dropping. The dragon hunters were coming.

 

Faith gasped. “We were followed!”

 

The ninja and Wu wasted no time running to their vehicles. They jumped in and sped off, but not before the hunters began to close the gap. Iron Baron leaned out the window.

 

“I want Heavy Metal alive!” He shrieked. “As for the rest, I want their heads!”

 

Faith and the ninja drove wildly through the hills, desperate to lose the hunters before they were caught. Wu was with Faith ahead of the group, swerving past rocks and dragon bones that jutted from the sand, narrowly dodging the chains of the hunters above in the chopper. They turned a corner and he saw a cave on the side of a hill.

 

“We can escape through there!” He said to the others, pointing to the cave.

 

“Looks like his instincts are finally kicking in!” Jay said as they turned towards it.

 

Faith, the ninja, and most of the dragon hunters were able to enter the cave. Iron Baron’s chopper blade was unable to get inside. Jet Jack streamed ahead of the other hunters in pursuit of Faith and the ninja. A few seconds later she was coming up to the side of Faith’s vehicle.

 

“You think you can outrun us?” She yelled. She caught up to them. She looked at Faith and gasped, seeing her for the first time without her helmet.

 

“You’re...like me…” Jack said in disbelief.

 

“Not like you.” Faith replied. “Better!” She jerked the wheel of her vehicle and steered away. Jet Jack was so distracted by Faith she didn’t see an oncoming boulder and crashed into it.

 

“Auah!” She cried as she was knocked off her bike. The ninja and other hunters rushed past as she got up. Growling to herself she activated her jetpack and flew back to the entrance of the cave, where Iron Baron was waiting.

 

“You made her number two!?” She cried. “Why not me?!”

 

“How about this:” Baron said. “First one to capture her gets the position. Now go!”

 

Jet Jack turned around and flew off to continue pursuing the ninja. Iron Baron jumped down from the chopper and onto the Dieselnaut. Daddy No Legs looked at Muzzle.

 

“Did you hear that, Muzzle?” he said. “I could be his number two!”

 

Inside the cave, the dragon hunters were beginning to surround the ninja. Jay tried gassing his vehicle, but it was no match for the pursuers.

 

“Bad instincts, Wu!” He cried as he dodged an incoming chain. “You have VERY BAD INSTINCTS!”

 

One of the hunter vehicles swerved out of control and hit the cave wall. Rocks from the sides poured out in front of them. The ninja and Faith gassed it and made it through just as they closed in behind them. The Dieselnaut barreled through the rocks with ease and continued pursuing them. It quickly caught up with Faith and Wu. When he was close enough, he jumped onto their vehicle. Wu got up and prepared to fight, but suddenly Baron pulled out a chain gun and shot it at Wu. The young master lost his balance and fell, grabbing onto the side. He cried out.

 

“No!” Faith cried. She leaned over to see Wu clinging on for dear life. Taking advantage of her distraction, Baron leaned over and snatched the Dragon Blade from the side of Faith’s seat.

 

“Dah!” he said as he hoisted it in hand. “Who wields the Dragon Blade now, Heavy Metal?”

 

“It’s Faith!” She yelled, jumping up to try and grab the blade back, but Baron was too fast. He raised the sword and Faith jumped out of the seat just in time as the weapon struck the vehicle. She slid past him and over to Wu.

 

“I’m not going to lose the Son of the Spinjitzu Master yet!” She cried as she grabbed Wu and hoisted him back up. Baron instantly became shocked.

 

“Son of the Spinjitzu Master?” He repeated. Then he growled and charged at the both of them with the Dragon Blade. Faith dove past and stepped on the gas, making the vehicle lurch. Baron lost his balance and rolled towards the hood.

 

“Faith! Wu!” Cole cried as he caught up. “Here!”

 

Faith and Wu jumped across and landed on the hood of Cole’s vehicle. Baron saw he was in the path of a boulder and stumbled up, jumping onto the Dieselnaut seconds before Faith’s vehicle crashed into the rock and exploded into a fireball.

 

Kai swerved to avoid a chain when he saw light ahead in the distance. It was the way out.

 

“Wu was right!” He called to the others. “There’s a way out!”

 

“Hold on!” Cole told Wu and Faith as he gassed his vehicle.

 

Iron Baron scrambled to grab hold on the back of the Dieselnaut.

 

“We’ll make Heavy Metal pay, sir!” One of the hunters said. Baron hissed.

 

“Forget Heavy Metal!” He yelled. “Get me the boy!”

 

The Dieselnaut put on a burst of speed. Faith saw.

 

“We’ll never outrun them.” She told Cole. “We need to stop the Dieselnaut!”

 

“How about we take in instead?” Cole said. He looked at Wu. “She taught us to thread iron, didn’t she? Work together!”

 

The ninja pulled out their chain guns and fired at the Dieselnaut. Kai’s managed to get a grip on the exterior.

 

Faith turned to Wu. “Remember, just like the dragon.” She told him. Wu nodded.

 

“Remember,” Kai called. “Confidence!”

 

Wu jumped on the chain and ran along its length. Baron saw him coming and clenched his fists. “They think they can take my reign!”

 

Wu tripped and caught the chain just before he fell. He grabbed it with his other hand and began shimming his way up the chain until he reached the top. No Legs and Muzzle were there to meet him. He chuckled before lunging at Wu. Muzzle mumbled something.

 

“Wha?” No Legs said. Wu used the distraction to dodge No Legs and knock both him and Muzzle off the Dieselnaut. He then made his way to the front and saw Arkade driving.

 

“Get out!” Wu demanded.

 

Arkade narrowed his eyes. “Make me, kid!” He snarled. He jumped up from his seat, ready to fight. But before he could do anything Kai’s chain wrapped around Arkade and yanked him off.

 

“It’s all yours now!” Kai yelled.

 

Wu took control of the Dieselnaut as the other abandoned their own vehicles to jump onto it. Suddenly they shot out into the blinding sun as they escaped the cave and were back driving across the desert sand.

 

Suddenly the sound of helicopter blades filled the air. Cole looked up and saw the hunter’s chopper hovering above them. He scrambled to the turret that had a massive metal hook connected to a giant chain. Seeing one of the hunter’s vehicles gaining on them, he fired the hook and knocked the vehicle off it’s wheels, making it crash. The chain retracted and Cole spun it around to the chopper alongside them.

 

Baron had been rescued by one of his hunters and was now looking on in fear as Cole aimed the massive hook at him. “No! Don’t!”

 

Cole looked through the sights on the top of the gun. “Now I’ve got you.”

 

The massive hook sailed through the air and tore through the tail of the chopper, ripping it clean off. Baron’s heart rose into his throat as the helicopter suddenly plummeted to the ground and screamed as it spiraled downward.

 

The ninja whooped with glee, but realized it was premature when several chains suddenly attached themselves to the Dieselnaut.

 

Kai jumped into the seat next to Wu. “I’ll take it from here!”

 

Faith ran to the back of the Dieselnaut and began kicking the chains off with her feet. Jet Jack was still flying through the air and saw the perfect opportunity to seize her. She grabbed her chain gun and fired it at Faith. The chain wrapped around her.

 

“Auhh!” She cried as she was dragged over the Dieselnaut, desperately grabbing any parts for a hold. She grabbed a pipe and was able to cling onto it. Jet Jack growled and yanked the chain to attempt to get Faith to let go.

 

Wu saw Faith in danger and began making his way across the Dieselnaut. Faith lost her hold on the pipe when suddenly Wu caught her hands in his, tugging on her against Jet Jack.

 

“Baron doesn’t know where the armor is.” She said as more chains landed on the vehicle. “But you do! Go!”

 

Wu grunted as he pulled against Jack’s chain. “I won’t leave you!” He cried. “I have to have faith! I need you!”

 

“You need the Dragon Armor!”

 

Then without warning, she ripped one hand free from Wu’s grasp and grabbed the large bolt holding the two halves of the Dieselnaut together. Then she freed her other hand. Jet Jack shot up into the air, taking Faith and the bolt with it.

 

“NO!” Wu cried as he watched. The back half of the Dieselnaut began to split and the young master scrambled to the other side before it separated.

 

Iron Baron emerged from the wreckage of the chopper just in time to see Wu driving away on the other half of the Dieselnaut, quickly vanishing into the desert’s horizon.

 

“Nooo!”

 

 

Harumi growled as she fought and fought against the ropes that held her hands back behind the chair. She had been struggling for almost an hour, and her wrists were now raw and red from the thick rope. Heaving a frustrated sigh, she knew Zane was going to throw a fit that she got captured, someone was going to die tonight.

 

Seeing she wasn’t going to get out of this just by fighting alone, she looked around for anything that would help her escape. She craned her neck to look behind her and saw several large pieces of broken glass from the damaged window behind her. She leaned back in the chair and it tipped over, landing on the glass. She fumbled around until she was able to grab a piece, wincing as it sliced into her skin. She used the glass to cut through the ropes binding her wrists before freeing her ankles. Finally she stood up and brushed herself off. She saw her bloodied hand and grimaced.

 

She heard rustling from the other room and decided to leave. She climbed out of the window and vanished into the night. Lloyd walked back in and found the chair tipped over and the ropes strewn on the ground.

 

 

“Oh, there you are!” Killow said as “Harumi” led a tied up Skylor through the snowy streets. “I was getting worried. Looks like our stunt did the trick.”

 

“I couldn’t get Lloyd,” Mystake answered. “But I got the next best thing.” Skylor scowled.

 

They soon had made their way to the top of the tower. The floor was slick with black ice and one one end of the top was the rows of severed heads of Windigo’s victims. At the center were two thrones, Garmadon frozen inside the larger one and Misako in the smaller one. Both of their faces were frozen in twisted expressions of terror. Next to the two thrones, Corbin lay. At their presence, she lifted her head and snarled.

 

And standing there at the top of the stairs was Windigo in all his glory. His black and red cloak flapped in the wind, blood stained the snow as it dripped from his antlers, and a cloud of frozen breath wafted around his jaws. It was clear he had been waiting for them.

 

Skylor was trying not to scream, shaking with terror as they approached. She gazed into the glowing purple eyes of the beast and was still in disbelief that this...thing...was once Zane, the sweet, selfless nindroid that had protected the city with his life. But now this creature had taken his place, destroying lives wherever he was.

 

Mystake, still disguised as Harumi, bowed in front of Windigo. “My Darling, I present to you with Skylor, an elemental master.”

 

Windigo’s eyes narrowed. Skylor couldn’t even recognize the voice that came from Zane’s mouth, twisted by the dark powers of the mask.

 

“I am well aware of who this is.” He growled. He stepped forwards to get a better look, but not within arm’s reach. Corbin snarled again. Windigo held up a hand and the dragon immediately fell silent.

 

“Hello, Skylor.” He said tauntingly. “It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?”

 

“No matter what you do to me, the Resistance will fight on.” Skylor growled, forcing herself not to shake as she met those cold soulless eyes. “Say what you want Zane, but I know you’re still in there. The Resistance will put an end to this.”

 

Windigo chuckled and shook his head. “Really?” he said. “How? There’s nothing left of the Resistance. Misako’s death was no accident. Your leader is broken and the rest of his followers scattered like rats. Who’s to stop me now?”

 

“Lloyd is not broken.” Skylor said defiantly. “He’s too strong to fall from someone like you.”

 

A twisted smile spread over Windigo’s face. “We’ll see about that.”

 

Windigo straightened up. “Ultra! Take her away. I’ll deal with her in a minute.”

 

Ultra Violet stepped forwards and began to lead Skylor away. Windigo began making his way to Mystake, but suddenly stopped as his eyes came to rest on her hand.

 

“Darling,” He said. “Where’s your ring?”

 

“Right here!”

 

Windigo looked up and saw yet another Harumi standing behind the first. She was holding up her hand, where the ring was sitting on her finger.

 

Windigo furrowed his brow. “What is going on here?” He demanded.

 

“That is Mystake!” The real Harumi said. “She’s not the old tea lady you always thought she was, she’s a shapeshifting Oni! She’s trying to get the Master of Amber close enough to touch you so she can use Corbin against you!”

 

Seeing their cover had been blown, Skylor ripped out of the ropes and tried to lunge for Windigo but was immediately brought down to her knees by Ultra. She grunted as she struggled against her hold. Mystake saw Skylor’s trouble and ran to help her but was lifted from the ground by Killow. She flailed and kicked, but to no avail.

 

Windigo’s angry look was replaced by a more gleeful one when he saw his real beloved. “Well done, my love.” He said. “I was getting worried.” His eyes fell to her hands again and he saw the cut up one when she fell on the glass. “What happened?”

 

“It’s nothing, darling.” Harumi said. “I can fix it.” She jerked her head. “Let’s take care of them first.”

 

Windigo grinned as he turned to face Skylor and Mystake. Corbin glared at Mystake, baring her fangs and hissing. She wanted nothing more than to shred the Oni to pieces, but would only do so on her master’s command.

 

“I thought my dragon smelled an Oni.” He said. He looked at Mystake. “Looks like your plan backfired.”

 

“The only thing that backfired is you turning against your own realm!” Mystake shouted. “Ninjago is a place of light, and you’re a source of shadow!”

 

“Everything eventually comes to an end. Such is now with Ninjago, light or not. Besides, Ninjago turned its back on me long before I turned on it,”

 

“Look around you! All the suffering you caused! The frozen hell you’ve unleashed upon this land! Is this what you want?! This isn’t who you are! Causing pain to others won’t fix the damage you’ve suffered! You’re only turning your back on yourself!”

 

“I may wear a mask, but at least I’m not afraid to show who I really am!” Windigo boomed. “Go ahead, show me your real face, Oni. Or are you worried what your friends will think about you, demon?”

 

Mystake growled, but it wasn’t normal. It was an unearthly growl that seemed wouldn’t belong to even the darkest depths of this world. She morphed from a human being to a wicked, twisted creature with giant fangs, twisting horns and glowing eyes. She clawed at Killow who let go and backed away. She landed on the ground and met Windigo’s eyes.

 

“YOU’RE THE REAL DEMON!” She shrieked. Then she leapt at Windigo. He and her tumbled to the ground as they began clawing and slashing each other. Windigo pushed her off and launched a blast of shadow frost at Mystake, who caught it and sent it up in the air.

 

Skylor pushed Ultra back and put her in a headlock before kicking her across the floor and running towards Windigo.

 

“No!” Harumi cried. She jumped on Mystake, who promptly threw her off. She hit the ground with an oof! She grunted as she got up. “Don’t let her touch Windigo!”

 

Skylor was lifted from the ground as Killow grabbed her. She fought, but he held strong. She watched as Mystake back flipped over Windigo, grabbed him, and threw him against the wall. He snarled in anger and lunged at the Oni. Skylor saw Mystake’s danger and punched Killow in the face, making him double over and fall on top of Ultra. Skylor ran for Windigo again but was knocked down by Harumi. Killow and Ultra scrambled over and tried holding a fighting Skylor down.

 

Mystake saw Skylor in trouble and stepped to avoid one of Windigo’s attacks before chanting something in an ancient tongue.

 

“Ee Mah Vee-aza bub…”

 

Windigo roared and sent another blast of shadow frost at Mystake. It hit her and she fell. Windigo pounced on her and grasped the back of her neck with his claws.

 

“Ee Mah Vee-aza bub!” She chanted again. Suddenly a black staff formed in her hand and she kicked Windigo off of her. Then she jumped up and slammed the staff on the ground which caused a huge cloud of dark magic to cover the entire rooftop. Getting up, Windigo frantically looked around for Mystake, but couldn’t see through the cloud.

 

Harumi fumbled around and saw Windigo trying to get his bearings. “Zane, look out!”

 

Through the smoke Windigo saw Skylor walk towards him. He growled and blasted her with ice, who caught it effortlessly and sent it up in the air again. “What?”

 

Skylor morphed back into Mystake. She gave Windigo a wry grin. “Never trust an Oni.” She said.

 

A hand rested itself on Windigo’s forearm. The icy demon turned and saw its owner, Skylor, wearing a triumphant grin on her face.

 

“Gotcha.”

Chapter Text

Skylor’s feeling of victory didn’t last long. She met Windigo’s eyes for a split second and saw them blazing with rage. She knew in an instant that if she didn’t escape now she wouldn’t live to see another day.

 

“Don’t let her escape!” Harumi yelled.

 

Windigo roared in anger. Skylor jumped out of the way to avoid his claws that slashed through the air, but was too slow. She gasped in pain and her vision went black and white as she felt something sharp and cold tear through her arm. She lost her balance and fell to the ground as she felt yet another set of claws rake its path across her face. In a flash of desperation, she turned on her back and sent a blast of flame directly into Windigo’s face. The icy demon howled in pain and clawed at his head. Seeing their leader struggling, Harumi, Ultra, and Killow rushed to his aid to extinguish the flames. Skylor saw they were distracted and made a quick getaway.

 

Mystake began to run after Skylor but was stopped as a bony claw wrapped around her neck. She was lifted into the air and was twisted to face the face of Windigo. Trails of purple blood trickled as his claws dug into her neck. Just like his torso when Kai used him as a shield against the Mechanic, his face was now disfigured gruesomely from Skylor’s flame. His eyes glowed with a renewed hate and vengeance.

 

“How dare you capture and impersonate my beloved, steal my power, and do this to me?!” Windigo howled with rage as he pointed to the damage. “You’re no better than the rest of them!”

 

Mystake growled and formed another staff and whacked Windigo in the face. He grunted and stumbled back, still not letting go of the Oni. He shook his head and glared at her.

 

“That was your last mistake.”

 

He threw Mystake down to the floor. Before she knew it, she was encased in a mound of black ice.

 

Windigo’s breath came in heaves as he saw Mystake frozen solid. Then he groaned and swayed, collapsing to the floor. Skylor’s absorption of his power and the ensuing fight leaving him drained. Harumi gasped and rushed to his side.

 

“Oh no. Zane!” Harumi cried. She dropped down to her knees next to him. “Say something! Are you hurt?!”

 

Zane groaned. Seeing she wasn’t going to get a response, she grabbed the Mask of Tyranny. She was just about to take it off his head when suddenly an icy talon seized her wrist. She gasped in fright and looked down. Zane was staring up at her, an enraged expression on his face.

 

“Did I say you could touch it?” He hissed.

 

Harumi began to say something, but the words caught in her throat. She gulped and shook her head. Zane clenched his jaw and glowered at her as he struggled to his feet, swatting Harumi’s hand away when she tried supporting him. He grabbed her quickly by her chin and tilted her face up, making her look him in the eyes.

 

“I want to make one thing clear to you.” Zane growled. “I don’t want anyone touching this mask without my permission. And that includes you. Wife or not, if you so dare so much as to think about taking this mask off of me again, you will face the consequences. Do you understand?”

 

Harumi nodded timidly.

 

“I said do you?!”

 

Harumi flinched at his angry voice. She nodded again. “Y-yes…” She said, voice quivering.

 

Zane stared into her eyes for a moment more. Then he let go of her chin and slid the mask back over his face before turning and stalking off, leaving her alone.

 

Harumi hung her head, the snowy ground beginning to blur as hot tears began to fall down her face. Her lower lip trembled as she thought of the way Zane had grabbed her wrist, the way he rejected her help, and the venom in his voice as he spoke to her. But what frightened her most was his eyes. Even while under the influence of the mask, she would still be able to see through the depths of its effects. Looking into his eyes, she would still be able to see the Zane she had met at the palace that fateful night, the Zane that had first come to the SOG base in the subways, the Zane in her bed the night before Garmadon’s resurrection. The Zane that loved her.

 

But when she looked into his eyes today as he had grabbed her chin with a force beyond gentle, she saw nothing. Not a twinkle, not even a spark that always came when he looked at her. Her Zane was gone, replaced by Windigo and that fucking mask.

 

Harumi fell to her knees and covered her face as she wept. She loved him. And it tore her heart to shreds to see him swallowed up by the demon that called itself Windigo. She wanted him to exact his revenge upon those that hurt him, but now the mask was hijacking his once pure heart, and his last sense of decency was hanging on by a thread. She didn’t want to witness her beloved turn into a heartless monster.

 

Harumi became faintly aware of a ticklish sensation under her chin. She reached a hand up and gingerly felt along her neck. She saw a spot of red on her fingertips. It was her blood. Zane must’ve scratched her when he grabbed her.

 

Her breath hitched as she stared at her fingers, which had started to tremble. He had hurt her.

 

She had been suspecting it for a while, but now it was clear. The mask was winning, slowly taking over the last bits of Zane’s soul. Soon, it would be complete. The Mask of Tyranny would be the downfall of her, of Ninjago, and eventually of Zane himself. He would become so besieged by its hold that it would deliver all of them to death’s door.

 

Harumi looked up and through her teary eyes she saw Zane- no, Windigo- standing at the far edge of the tower, Corbin standing behind him. The two looked out at the city beyond through the falling snow. Her eyes slid over to the three frozen figures, Garmadon, Misako, and his latest victim Mystake. Zane freezing Garmadon should have been the first major red flag that this was getting out of hand.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, the rows of heads on spikes of ice had grown to include those of innocent civilians. As a matter of fact, Harumi had witnessed the murder of a family of three earlier in the day. Windigo had relentlessly questioned them about the green ninja’s location since he thought they were hiding him. Eventually he had tired of them and resorted to executing them by sending a spear of ice through their hearts. Their pleads for mercy and their cries as they perished still haunted her mind.

 

Windigo continued looking out at the skyline. The thought of Skylor not only stealing his powers but also leaving him scarred yet again filled him with unadulterated rage. Oh, how the Resistance would pay.

 

Windigo gave a short, sharp whistle, and Corbin stepped next to him. He let her sniff Skylor’s blood that still covered his claws. The dragon growled, telling her master she had registered the scent. Windigo grinned wickedly.

 

“Hunt her down.” He said. Corbin roared before jumping off the building and sailing into the sky, circling as she looked for the master of amber. Harumi watched her go.

 

This had gone on too far. This needed to stop. If Harumi wanted to prevent any chance of Zane succumbing to Windigo and wanted to save him and herself, she needed to free him of the Mask of Tyranny.

 

 

“Yeah, that's her alright.”

 

Wu and the ninja were perched at the top of a dune that overlooked a flat expanse of sand. After Faith was captured Wu insisted they go back for her, so they had tailed the hunters at a distance. Now Cole was looking through a telescope. Down below beyond the bottom of the dune was Faith, buried up to her neck in sand, wearing a straw hat with a gag in her mouth.

 

“We have to get down there and save her.” Wu said to them.

 

“We can’t,” Kai said. “We need to get to the Dragon Armor. You have the map and they don’t.”

 

“And it might be a trap.” Jay added. “We can’t go out there Wu. We need to find the Firstbourne’s nest so we can get home and stop Windigo.”

 

Wu took the telescope from Cole and peered through it himself. He saw Faith struggling as she was stuck in the ground.

 

“Maybe more of his memories came back, something that can help us in a situation like this?”

 

Wu sighed. “I can’t lie.” he said. “I still don’t remember anything new. But my father told me to have faith, and without her we never would have gotten this far.” He stared wistfully down the hill. “Besides, ninja never leave their friends behind.”

 

The three ninja looked at each other. They knew he was right.

 

“And we’ve got your back.” Kai said. “Let’s go get her.”

 

Wu smiled but his face became serious as he saw Faith stuck. “They must have left her here for the elements to finish her off.” He said. “I’ll go down, the rest of you keep watch.”

 

The ninja followed Wu down the sand dune and kept watch as Wu ran over to Faith.

 

“Mnnph-mMMph!” She struggled to say through her gag.

 

Wu pulled off her hat and then her gag. “Faith! We came back for you. Are you okay?”

 

Faith gasped for breath. “You should not have come.” She said. “It’s a trap!”

 

As if on cue, the dragon hunters including Iron Baron himself all sprung from their hiding places, surrounding them and holding weapons. Jay sighed.

 

“Aaaaand it's a trap…” he said.

 

The hunters captured the ninja and erected tall poles which they were chained to the top of. Night fell over the First Realm and the hunters feasted on dragon meat around a large bonfire. Chatter, laughter, and the clinking of glasses surrounded them as they ate.

 

Iron Baron laughed. “Eat up, hunters!” He said. “We have the son of the Spinjitzu Master, and by first light tomorrow, Firstbourne will give up the rest of the dragon armor, and it will be a feast every day!”

 

The hunters cheered before going back to their meal. Wu watched them eat and sighed.

 

“I’m sorry.” He said. “I thought i was doing the right thing but…” He hung his head. “I’ve only made it worse.”

 

“Hmm. Your heart is pure, but this realm is cruel.” Faith said with a sigh. “I am just sorry you ever had to find this place.”

 

“Don’t sweat it, Wu, we’ve seen worse.” Kai said. “At any second now Cole will have bust through those chains and get us out of here.”

 

“Uh, I tried Kai. I can’t.”

 

“But you’re the muscle of the team, Cole! I’m just the looks.”

 

Jay gasped in horror. “I thought I was the looks!”

 

“No, you’re the annoying one.”

 

“What are you? The party pooper?”

 

“That’s Mr. Party Pooper to you.”

 

“Har har, Hair Gel.” Cole said, before all three of them burst out laughing. Wu and Faith looked at them in confusion.

 

“How can you make jokes in a time like this?” The young master asked.

 

“When all hope is lost, sometimes a good laugh is all you need to stay positive.” Jay said in between laughs. “Helps cope with what's bad while opening your eyes to what’s good.”

 

Wu caught Jay’s drift and smiled. “I see. You are the annoying one.”

 

The three burst out laughing again, making Baron stomp over to them. “What’s so funny?!” He demanded.

 

“What is so funny is feeding them this food to cover the taste of your lies!” Faith spat.

 

Baron laughed. “Well I’d rather be eating food with them, than stuck on a pole with you.”

 

He and the other hunters jeered and laughed. Faith scowled.

 

“He only cares for himself!” She said. “If he gets the dragon armor, he’ll have no need for you except to kiss his hand!”

 

That got the hunters’ attention. They all gasped as they suddenly became shocked at Faith’s accusation. But Baron was unfazed as he continued to laugh.

 

“Let me ask them, Heavy Metal.” He said before turning to the hunters. “How can you believe anything she says, when she hid behind a mask?”

 

Some hunters supported Baron’s reasoning and others took Faith’s side, causing a ruckus as they argued. Muzzle mumbled something to Daddy No Legs, who nodded.

 

“Yeah, yeah, that’s true.” He said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting that.”

 

Faith growled. “It’s he who is the fraud!” She yelled. “He forced me to wear the helmet just as he forced you to be his slaves!”

 

The dragon hunters looked at each other. Some shrugged in confusion before going back to arguing.

 

“We’ve all heard Baron’s stories about how he fought an army of Oni. Well, look around! We are on Oni land, yet have you seen a single one?!”

 

A ripple of murmurs went through the group of hunters. Jet Jack rubbed her head in thought. Faith saw their hesitation.

 

“No, you have not, because his stories are just that. Stories! The Oni left these lands long ago, yet he keeps you in fear of them. His power over you is built on lies! Brave hunters died so he could get the Dragon Blade! How do we know it was not him who took their lives?!”

 

Realization dawned upon them as they put the pieces together, evident in their tone and the snatches of conversation among them.

 

Baron saw he was losing them and growled. “Not another word!” He boomed. The hunters fell silent. “Now, show of hands. Who’s with her, so I can raise my Dragon Blade and lock them all!”

 

No one moved out of fear for their leader to make true his threat, save for Muzzle, who began to raise it but stopped when he saw the apprehension of the others.

 

Baron huffed. “That is what I thought.”

 

“That’s not fair!” Jay cried. “You bullied them!”

 

Baron wheeled around. “I said not another word!” he yelled. He pressed a button on the remote, making the chains spark. They all broke out into fits of laughter as they tickled.

 

Wu was laughing so hard his stomach hurt, when suddenly he gasped. There was an odd yet familiar voice speaking in his head.

 

“The best way to defeat an enemy is to make them your friend. Do not put off tomorrow what can be done today.”

 

Images flooded Wu’s brain as his memories began to return. His upbringing by his father, the lessons he had taught unto him and his brother, the ninja and their many battles, and everything in between.

 

“I-I remember.” Wu said, his voice becoming deeper. “I remember it all!”

 

A sudden burst of strength came over Wu, allowing the young master to break free of the chains and landed on the ground with a backflip. When he straightened up, the ninja and Faith saw him with a mustache and goatee on his face.

 

“He has a mustache!” Jay squealed. “And a GOATEE!”

 

Iron Baron gasped before snarling. “Get him!” He yelled.

 

There was a high-pitched yell as a dragon hunter charged at him with a bamboo staff. She lunged at him, but Wu grabbed the staff’s end and spun around to knock her off her feet and struck her in the stomach to knock her to the ground. Still holding the staff, Wu bent down and picked up the straw hat off her head and placed it on his own. He glowered at Baron.

 

“You let my ninja go, or else.” Wu said.

 

Baron was unfazed. “Or else what?”

 

“Or else I will reclaim my father’s armor and ask his dragon to end your rule. I am the Son of the First Spinjitzu Master and this is my oath!” He said, swinging his staff and pointing it at Baron and the hunters. The ninja cheered.

 

“Yeah!” Cole cried. “Master Wu’s back, baby!”

 

Baron smirked and raised the Dragon Blade in return. “So you just confirmed it: he who claims the armor controls the Firstbourne.”

 

“That’s not what I said.”

 

“You seem like a wise master.” Baron said. “But are you really ignorant enough to take on my entire camp?”

 

Without warning the hunters burst forward and rushed at Wu. The ninja thought he would be done for, but in true Wu fashion he had defeated them all in seconds. Baron marched up to Wu and grabbed the end of his staff.

 

“Before you do something foolish, let me make you an offer.” Baron said. “How about you get me the armor or else we can see right now how good you really are with that...staff.”

 

Wu raised an eyebrow. “You want me to take you to Firstbourne?”

 

“Get me the armor and I’ll send your ninja home.” Baron said, letting go of Wu’s staff.

 

Wu thought about it for a moment. He could fight Baron, but he didn’t want to risk it and his ninja. There was no better option.

 

“Do I have your word?” He asked the hunter’s leader.

 

“Don’t!” Faith cried, but her plea was ignored.

 

“Trust me.” Baron said. “There is nothing that I want more.”

 

Wu didn’t break eye contact with Baron as he dropped his staff in a silent agreement. Baron chuckled.

 

“What?!” Kai said. “What are you doing?!”

 

“I’m sorry.” Wu said, looking up at them. “But we are left with no other choice.”

 

“Ha! Now we go to the Firstbourne!”

 

Iron Baron began marching Wu out of the camp at swordpoint. The hunters cheered as they watched them go. Wu looked back over his shoulder.

 

“Don’t worry ninja.” He said. “Have faith.”

 

“I hope he knows what he’s doing.” Faith said.

 

“Yeeaah, we’ve learned at this point to not question him.” Jay replied.

 

Jet Jack broke through the front of the hunters and ran after Iron Baron. “You promised whoever got Heavy Metal would be your number two. Since it was me, I insist I go for your protection.”

 

Baron just looked at her as if she had said a joke. “Protection?” He laughed. “Once I have the armor, I won’t need protection. It will be you needing me!” He pushed Jet Jack away and cackled as he continued leading Wu away.

 

Jet Jack walked back to the dragon hunters, dumbfounded that their leader didn’t make good on his promise. The dragon hunters whispered to each other.

 

“Look.” Kai said as their voices rose. “Something’s going on.”

 

The hunters had gotten back to arguing. “They’re probably deciding which one of us to eat first!” Jay said.

 

“Dragon hunters do not eat people.” Faith said.

 

“Well, that's good to know. At least it's not all that bad.”

 

“This is our chance, while they’re distracted!” Kai said. He began rocking his body from side to side. “Let’s get these poles rocking,” he grunted. “By rocking from side to side!” He grunted again.

 

Cole looked at the fire ninja skeptically. “Yeaah, I’m not doing that…”

 

“That’s...not helpful.” Jay said.

 

“Teamwork, guys!” Kai said as he continued. “If we all do it together…” He swung his legs. Seeing they had no better option, the others sighed and joined in. Faith sighed.

 

“I hope the Son of the Spinjitzu Master knows what he’s doing, because this is ridiculous.” She said.

 

 

The pole began to sway as the ninja swung their feet and began to hear the wood creak as if it was breaking.

 

“Team...work! Team...work! Team...work!” they chanted as they swayed. The wood began splintering. “Team-”

 

“What do you think you’re doing?”

 

The ninja and Faith looked down and saw Jet Jack staring up at them.

 

“Uh, nothing?” Jay said with a nervous smile. Jet Jack raised her weapon.

 

“AAH!” the blue ninja screamed. “They are gonna eat us!”

 

The other yelled too, even as Jet Jack climbed up the poles and sliced the chains in half, freeing them. They all fell to the ground with a big oof! They groaned as they struggled to their feet. Faith was the first to get up.

 

“I don’t know if I should thank you or prepare for a fight.” She said as Jet Jack stood in front of her.

 

“We got to talking.” Jack said, gesturing to the other hunters. “And we all decided that this dragon armor business has gotten too far.” The others mumbled and nodded in a collective agreement.

 

“Iron Baron speaks of serving his people, but he really only serves himself.” Daddy No legs said. The other voiced their agreement again.

 

“Yeah,” Chew Toy said. “And I think he’s kind of...a jerk.”

 

“We fear that with Firstbourne by his side, he will become unforgiving.” Jack said. “Baron has shown his true colors, and they are colors no one likes. We can set aside our differences if you five think you can make a difference.”

 

“We’ll follow their tracks.” Cole said. “Lets go and stop them before its too late!”

 

The dragon hunters cheered and didn’t hesitate rushing to their vehicles, this time with the ninja on their side. They drove through the night across the desert, following Baron and Wu’s tracks up to a large ravine, with the remains of a crumbled bridge. Faith saw it and her hopeful face fell.

 

“We’re too late.” She said.

 

 

Iron Baron and Wu had been trekking across the desert, which began to become more rocky and steep, and the mountains off in the distance had begun to seem closer. Wu was following the map to the nest of the Firstbourne, Baron following right behind with the Dragon Blade lest Wu decide to try to make a move. They were quiet as they trudged across the flatlands and now as they meandered through rocky canyons as they neared the foothills of the mountains.

 

“Tell me something,” Wu said, breaking the silence. “Why did you lie to your hunters? About the Oni being real?”

 

“I told them what they wanted to hear, that I would keep them safe. And in return, all I ask is that I be treated like a king. Is that so wrong? Look around.” The hunter leader waved his hand, gesturing to the barren wastes of sand and rock. “This is a cruel world. We must do what we can to survive.”

 

“There’s more to life than surviving.” Wu said. Baron only laughed, as if the master’s serious statement was nothing but a joke.

 

“You already control this realm. Why do you need my father’s armor?”

 

“There’s always more to rule. That’s the beauty of power. One can never have enough.” Baron said. “Are you sure the Dragon Armor will control Firstbourne?”

 

“Unlike you, I tell the truth.”

 

“How very...honorable of you…”

 

Baron suddenly tripped over an unseen obstacle in his path. Wu turned and offered him a hand. Baron only raised the blade threateningly in response as he got up.

 

They continued to navigate the twisting canyons until they reached the end of one, which led to a split in the rock face that was a narrow, twisting tunnel. They followed it, which soon opened up into a large underground chamber. In the middle was a dark rift with a fragile looking bridge. Wu looked at the map again to make sure they were in the right place.

 

“This bridge is too brittle to hold us both.” He said.

 

Iron Baron prodded the master with his sword. “Then you had best tread lightly.”

 

Wu hesitated before walking up and placing his foot on one of the bridge’s steps. A few rocks of the bridge crumbled and fell into the darkness below. But before he could think twice, Baron’s sword again prodded his back. Wu and Baron began walking across the bridge, Wu holding his breath as more rocks began to fall. The bridge groaned and it lowered slightly.

 

“Careful.” Baron hissed.

 

The bridge began to shake and some of it crumbled in front of them. Wu ran and jumped over it to the more stable side, Baron following close behind. The dragon hunter jumped and made it but lost his balance and was about to fall into the chasm below until Wu caught him and pulled him to safety.

 

“Keep moving.” He growled. They continued on their way. They finished crossing the bridge and made it to safety on the other side. They watched as the bridge crumbled and disappeared into the darkness.

 

“That was the perfect opportunity to get rid of me, but you missed it.” Baron said as they continued walking.

 

“I gave you my word, remember?” Wu asked. “Once I get you the armor, you send my ninja home.”

 

“Trust me, there’s nothing that I want more.”

 

They continued to follow the narrow tunnel by the path of the map. It branched off in some places and in others became so small they had to crawl. Baron had begun to wonder if Wu really knew where they were going. The passageway began to slope up, and soon they came to an opening. The tunnel ended and for the first time in what seemed like hours Wu and Baron were finally able to see the early morning sky. The tunnel had led them to the center of a mountain range, tall rocky peaks surrounded them.

 

Baron peered at the map Wu held in his hands. “Mountain?! What mountain?! This map is indecipherable! There’s mountains everywhere!”

 

They wandered for a time. Soon off in the distance, Wu saw one great mountain rising above the rest. It’s sides were jagged and steep, and spears of rock jutted from the top like a set of claws. Wu gasped.

 

“I know where the nest is.” He said before taking off, Baron close on his tail. Together they ran up to the base of the mountain. Baron gasped.

 

“The nest of the Firstbourne.” He said. “And in it, your freedom and my power. Come now, our future awaits.”

 

Baron jabbed Wu and together they walked up to the opening cave of the Mother Dragon’s nest and cautiously entered inside. They were immediately met by darkness and wandered blindly through the tunnels.

 

“Wait…” Baron said after some time. “I cannot see a cursed thing in here.” He didn’t see Wu stop and bumped into him, falling down. He growled.

 

“Euh!” He said. He fumbled around and found a large stick and struck it against the wall. A flame emerged and began dancing at its tip, making a torch. “Where is this Dragon’s Nest?!”

 

Wu walked forwards and looked down. He gasped and grabbed the torch from Baron to get a better look.

 

“I believe we’re in it.” he said. Baron was just about to ask what he meant when he looked down also. He gasped.

 

He and Wu were walking on a stone arch. Below, several dragons of differing elements slept, undisturbed by their presence.

 

“They are all asleep.” Baron said in amazement. “Your dragon blood keeps them docile. Look!”

 

Wu looked to where Baron was pointing. On the other side of the arch was a giant flat slab of rock. Sitting on a small rise was the Dragon Armor, its golden hue glimmering in the dim light of the lava pools below.

 

“Its revealing itself to you!” Baron cried. “It wants to be found!” They ran over to it and he shoved Wu to the side. “Back away! Its mine!”

 

Smiling widely, he threw off his hat and dropped his sword as he placed the armor on himself. He had just finished when something shifted in the shadows beyond. There was a rumbling growl as yellow eyes appeared through the darkness. The ground shook as a massive red and black dragon with black forked horns stepped into the dim light, smoke hissing from it’s jaws. Baron’s grin grew wider.

 

“Firstbourne.” He said, picking up the Dragon Blade. He brandished it at Wu.

 

“You see this? I wear the armor now! I command you, beast, to destroy him!”

 

Firstbourne did nothing, simply glancing back and forth between the two. She bared her teeth when she rested her gaze on Baron.

 

“You know, I’ve learned a thing or two about this realm.” Wu said, unfazed by the mother dragon’s aggression towards the hunter.

 

Baron turned to Wu, irate at the dragon’s insubordination. “What are you babbling about, boy?!”

 

Wu stepped closer to Baron. “My ninja taught me responsibility, confidence, a sense of humor, and to listen to the voice within. But I also learned something from you.”

 

Baron became enraged. “Argh! Stand down!” He yelled, brandishing his blade. “Kneel before me!”

 

“You taught me the power of lies.” Wu said, not afraid. “You didn’t think it was the Dragon Armor that made Firstbourne obey my father, did you? It was because of his heart. She sensed goodness in him. What does she see in you?”

 

A threatening hiss made Baron turn around. Firstbourne was drawn to full height, fire blazing in her yellow eyes. Smoke poured from between her teeth and nostrils. It was clear that she was not fond of the hunter.

 

Seeing Wu was right, Baron quickly removed the armor and hurled it all and a rock at the dragon. The armor skidded to a stop between her talons and the rock bounced off her head. She reared back and unleashed a spew of molten rock, encasing Baron before he ever had the chance to flee. Firstbourne then stopped and dipped her head to Wu’s level, making a more pleasant and friendly sound as Wu reached out and stroked her snout.

 

“Shh.” he said as he ran his fingers across her rough scales. “It’s okay now.”

 

Firstbourne stepped back, her way of showing the master he could take the armor.

 

“My father’s armor…”

 

 

The dragon hunters and the ninja all sat in silence, unsure of their next move. They discovered that they had been too late in keeping Baron and Wu from reaching the armor. Defeated, they went back to their previous campsite, fearing what Baron would do with Firstbourne by his side if he thought they had deserted him.

 

One of the hunters, Chew Toy, dragged his foot absent-mindedly through the sand. He looked up and saw the ninja doing the same. He tried to think of something to say, anything to break the silence. Their predicament was terrible enough, but the quiet that had settled over while they waited to see what would become of them was even worse.

 

Finally, someone spoke.

 

“Do you think...Baron got the armor?”

 

Faith sighed. “Knowing him, he would stop at no length to retrieve it. I would be surprised if he already didn’t have it by now.”

 

The hunters nodded in solemn agreement. Daddy No Legs spoke next.

 

“You. You guys are ninja.” he said. “You’ll be able to do something if Iron Baron gets the armor, right?”

 

Kai, Cole, and Jay all looked at each other.

 

“We...don’t know.” Cole admitted.

 

“But you have to!” Jet Jack said. “If Baron controls Firstbourne, we’ll all be at his mercy, and that fraud has none!”

 

“We know…” Kai said. “And if Wu isn’t able to get the armor, we won’t be able to get back and stop Windigo.”

 

“I know I have asked this before, but it is still unclear to me.” Faith said. “Who are Windigo and Zane, and what do either of them have to do with the Mask of Tyranny?”

 

Silence settled over the ninja again, a heavy, suffocating silence. It pained them horribly to think of Zane as a bloodthirsty demon, but it hurt them even worse to talk about it, especially since they knew they were all equally guilty for his turn to darkness.

 

“Well…” Jay began. “Zane was a ninja, like us. He was the master of ice.”

 

“Yeah.” Cole said. “He was a robot, but he was the kindest person you’d ever meet.”

 

“So...what happened to him?” One of the hunters asked.

 

“It was our fault.” Kai said. “We...mistreated him, and well…” Kai lifted up his gi to show the hunters the scars of where Windigo shredded the fire ninja’s abdomen. The hunters gasped.

 

“W-what made him do that?” Chew Toy asked. “It looks like an Oni got to you!”

 

“Zane snapped and turned to a crime ring because they promised to treat him better.” Jay told them. “He fell in with them and managed to get his hands on the Mask of Tyranny. Now he’s overthrown Garmadon and rules Ninjago.”

 

“It’s...real?”

 

“I thought the Mask of Tyranny was just a myth…”

 

“I don’t believe it…”

 

“The Mask of Tyranny is very much real.” Cole said. Tears pricked his eyes.

 

“And now because of us, it’s turned him into Windigo…”

 

“But we’re not giving up.” Jay cut in. “Mask or not, we’re going to save him. He’s a good person at heart and nothing can change that!”

 

Faith shook her head. “If you haven’t freed Zane from the grasp of the mask already, it may already be too late. The darkness of the mask knows no bounds, just like its creator. Its power won’t stop until it’s taken complete control of its wielder in body, mind, and spirit. And the more its wearer uses it, the stronger its hold becomes.”

 

They all fell silent again, daunted by Faith’s warning. What if she was right and they were too late? How would they defeat Windigo? Would they be able to get Zane back? What state was Ninjago in? Would anything ever be the same again?

 

The sound of distant wingbeats startled them all from their thoughts. They looked up just in time to see a massive red and black dragon hovering above them. The dragon hunters screamed.

 

“It’s Firstbourne again!” Arkade yelled. “Run for your lives!”

 

The ninja were about to flee when Jay suddenly grabbed Cole’s arm. “Wait, look!”

 

They did, and were overjoyed to see Master Wu sitting on the dragon’s back, dressed in the armor. They cheered as Wu and Firstbourne landed.

 

“He’s riding without chains!” Jet Jack cried. “How is that possible?!”

 

Faith smiled when she saw Wu beaming down. “The Dragon Master doesn’t need them.”

 

Wu jumped off of Firstbourne and was immediately caught up in the arms of the ninja.

 

“You did it!” Jay cried. “You actually did it!”

 

“I knew you had it in you!”

 

Faith walked up to them. “What about Iron Baron?”

 

Wu grinned. “Baron’s days are over. He showed his true colors and Firstbourne was not impressed.”

 

The hunters erupted into cheering. The ninja finally broke the hug.

 

“Oh Master Wu, you don’t realize how much we’ve missed you!” Jay said.

 

“We need you more than ever right now…” Cole said, gulping.

 

Wu grinned again, but his face faltered as he looked at the three.

 

“Cole, Jay, Kai...where is Zane?”

 

The ninja looked at each other again, feeling as if Firstbourne had suddenly sat on their chests. What do they tell their Master? That they were responsible for the kindest soul on the face of Ninjago turning to darkness and possibly ruling it with an iron fist? How would he take it?

 

Cole was the first one to speak. He cleared his throat.

 

“M-master Wu…” He began, his voice and body trembling. “We need to tell you something…”

 

Wu grew more concerned. “What is it?”

 

Cole drew in a shaky breath before telling Wu everything that had happened from beginning to end. He had to stop a few times to regain his composure, and Kai showed him the scars left by Windigo. By the end of it all, Wu stood rooted to his spot, too shocked to speak or even move. The color had left his face long ago and an expression of pure horror was on his face.

 

“W-we didn’t know what we had done until it was too late…” Cole finished.

 

“W-we’re sorry, Master Wu!” Jay cried, collapsing to his knees and bursting into a sobbing mess. “I didn’t mean to hurt Zane like I did! N-none of us did!”

 

Kai said nothing, staring at the ground, looking very ashamed.

 

Suddenly images flashed through Wu’s brain. Zane when he first joined the team. Zane when he sacrificed himself to defeat the Overlord. Zane when they had rediscovered him at Chen’s island. But most of all, he remembered the icy demon staring down at him when they were in Primeval’s Eye. His worst nightmare had come true.

 

“No…” Wu said. “No! NO!” Without another word, he rushed over to Firstbourne and jumped on her back.

 

“Ninja! We need to get back to Ninjago NOW!” He yelled. “Before it’s too late!”

 

The ninja didn’t hesitate. They ran over to Firstbourne and jumped onto her neck with Wu. She turned and leapt into the air, soaring into the sky.

 

“Go, Son of the Spinjitzu Master!” Faith yelled after them. “Save Zane and defeat Windigo! Before you fall under his hand!”

 

A swirling vortex appeared in the sky and Firstbourne and the ninja disappeared through it.

 

“Where did they go?” Daddy No Legs asked, staring after where the ninja and Wu had disappeared.

 

“Ninjago.”

 

 

Lloyd and Nya whipped their heads around as the door flew open. A terrified Skylor bursted inside, clutching her arm and blood running freely down her face.

 

“SKYLOR!” They cried and rushed to her side as she fell to her knees.

 

“Oh my FSM…” Lloyd said, wide-eyed as he saw the gashes in her arm and across her face. “What happened?!”

 

“W-Windigo got me…” She gasped. Blood dripped to the floor. “He got me…”

“Where’s Mystake?”

 

Skylor continued panting, shaking her head. “She...didn’t make it…”

 

Nya cussed and kicked a nearby garbage can. Lloyd ran off and returned with rolls of bandages and went right to work examining the damage and staunching the bleeding. Windigo’s claws had left deep gashes in her arm. The raking of claws over her face had sliced open her nose and cheek and narrowly missed her eye. They would leave scars, no doubt.

 

“Oh, Skylor, I’m so sorry…” Lloyd said as tears pricked his eyes, still in disbelief that Zane was capable of such harm.

 

“I-It’s okay…” Skylor said through gritted teeth. Lloyd finished patching up her arm and began working on her face.

 

“Did you touch him?” Nya asked. Skylor nodded.

 

“Will you be able to control Corbin?”

 

“I-I don’t know…” She said. “There’s only one way to find out…just finish patching me up and we’ll go.”

 

“Not in this condition, Skylor.” Lloyd told her. “If the SOG catches us, you won’t be able to escape. And I…” He gulped. “I don’t want another person to die at Zane’s hands…”

 

“Lloyd.” Skylor said. “You know I was up there. I got closer than anyone ever had. Believe me when I say this: Zane is gone. He can’t be saved. What you see now isn’t your brother, it's a monster. I looked him in his eyes, there’s nothing left of him.”

 

“He’s still there.” Lloyd said desperately, still not wanting to believe it. “We can save him!”

 

“We can’t, Lloyd.” Nya said. “He’s actively hunting us down and trying to kill us as we speak! What does that tell you about him?! After all the destruction he’s caused and all the blood he’s shed, what in the world makes you think Zane is still there?!”

 

“You saw the ring on Harumi’s hand!” Lloyd argued. “I don’t care who it is, if that demon still has the capacity to love, my brother is still in there somewhere. Monster or not, I won’t stop until I find him. I’ll need proof to show that he’s gone before I even begin to think about destroying him. I refuse to fail him again,”

 

Nya growled but said nothing, obvious that Lloyd still refused to acknowledge the inevitable. She told him, Skylor told him, even Mystake told him, but in the end it was up to him to realize it.

 

A grating roar from the sky above rattled the walls. Nya and Lloyd jumped to their feet, pulling Skylor up with them.

 

“That’s our cue.” Nya said. “Can you walk?”

 

Skylor nodded. “Yeah. Get me up there, and we’ll take Corbin.”

 

They snuck out of the ramshackled house and ducked through the streets avoiding the SOG as they travelled on foot through the city, careful to avoid being seen by Corbin, circling in the sky above as she tracked Skylor by the scent of her blood.

 

Finally, Borg Tower- or what remained of it- loomed in the near distance. A few blocks away was another skyscraper almost as tall. The three dove through the entrance and climbed flight after flight of stairs until they reached the roof.

 

“Look, there he is.” Nya said, pointing. In the distance they could see the figure of Windigo. A shadow passed over them and there was another roar as Corbin sailed over them.

 

“Alright Skylor, you know what to do.” Lloyd said. “Get that dragon!”

 

Skylor watched as she followed Corbin’s path in the sky. She reached her hands out and Nya and Lloyd watched as purple flame and ice shards erupted from around her fingers. The amber master concentrated and tried to connect with the dragon, but could feel something blocking her. It was Windigo’s control over Corbin.

 

Feeling a disturbance, Windigo turned around. He saw Skylor across the rooftops using his power.

 

“What?” He said. “What is she doing?”

 

There was another roar in the sky. Windigo looked up and saw Corbin reeling in circles, shaking her head as she became disoriented. He saw her eyes flicker from black to orange as she struggled. He gasped and ran to the edge of the tower.

 

“You think you can take my dragon from me?!” He roared. “Well, think again!”

 

He reached his hand out, his element manifesting itself. He willed Corbin’s control back to him and sent her diving at the three.

 

“Its working!” Nya cried as she saw the dragon coming towards them.

 

Skylor felt herself lose hold of Corbin and gaped in horror as she whipped around and dove towards them.

 

“That’s not me!” She said.

 

Lloyd looked and saw Corbin’s eyes had gone back to black. He gasped.

 

“Get down!” He yelled. He shoved Nya and Skylor to the ground and threw his hands over his head, Corbin’s snapping jaws missing them by inches. They jumped back up onto their feet as the dragon sailed back up into the sky.

 

“Windigo’s too strong!” Nya cried. “We have to leave!”

 

Corbin wheeled around and began headed their way for another strike. Lloyd got behind Skylor. “You can do this!” He said to her. “Take control! Break his hold!”

 

Skylor tried to break Windigo’s control over Corbin but failed. “I can’t!”

 

Corbin roared and dived. Again they ducked before jumping back up.

 

“Control it Skylor!” Lloyd said. “You have Zane’s power, you’ve felt it! It’s yours now! Break his hold!”

 

Windigo felt his control over his dragon slipped. He growled and focused, battling for control over Corbin. Skylor felt it too and fought back. Corbin again became disoriented as they vied for her control, eyes flickering black and orange as she roared in confusion and veered through the sky, crashing into buildings and making them tumble to the ground. A pile of rubble fell on her and she crashed into the street. The onlooking citizens screamed and fled, but some weren’t fast enough and were crushed to death under the dragon.

 

Harumi, who had been watching the entire thing unfold from the hiding spot behind her throne, gasped in horror as she watched the innocent people die. This was getting worse and worse by the minute. She had to stop it.

 

Windigo snarled. “You’re no match for me, Skylor.” he hissed, jerking back control of Corbin. The dragon got up and shook herself free from the rubble. Under Windigo’s command, Corbin spread her wings and took to the sky once again. She spun around and glowered at the three, dark mist wafting from her jaws as she growled. Windigo grinned and narrowed his eyes.

 

“DESTROY THEM!” he bellowed, pointing at them. Corbin roared and dove at them with a vengeance.

 

“No!” Harumi cried. Without a second thought she leapt at Windigo’s back and grabbed hold of his antlers, jerking him to the side and making him fall to his knees.

 

“Control it Skylor control it!” Lloyd cried in panic as Corbin neared.

 

“I...can’t!” Skylor grunted.

 

Harumi’s distraction broke Windigo’s hold on Corbin. Lloyd cowered behind Skylor.

 

“SKYLOR!” He screamed. Corbin was feet from them.

 

Skylor finally siezed hold of the dragon and with a great yell willed her to pull up and fly into the sky above them at the last second.

 

Roars and cries could be heard in the distance. Nya looked out at Borg Tower and gasped. “Look!”

 

“Harumi?!” Lloyd cried. “What is she doing?!”

 

“I-I think she’s...helping us!” Skylor said, maintaining hold of Corbin.

 

Harumi’s hands groped Windigo’s face as the icy demon clawed at her to get off. She yanked and tugged at the antlers as Windigo stumbled around blindly.

 

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” he howled.

 

“You need to stop this!” Harumi cried, fending off Windigo’s claws. “Look at yourself, Zane, you’re becoming a monster! I can’t let you! I won’t let you!”

 

Down below, the SOG had rode in from patrol and watched the fight. Skylor saw them down below and sent Corbin plummeting down before unleashing a barrage of dark ice upon the biker gang. Killow and Ultra were barely able to jump out of the way in time.

 

Ultra pulled out out the Mask of Hatred. “Oh, it’s on.”

 

Skylor grinned. “I’ve waited so long for this.”

 

Corbin came swooping back down for another attack, this time grabbing Ultra in her jaws and sending her flying over the rooftops and out of sight. Killow saw Corbin coming down again and put on the Mask of Deception before flinging cars at the dragon in an attempt to deter her. Corbin was unfazed as the cars glanced off her armored body and they came raining back down. He didn’t move in time and he was covered in destroyed vehicles. Groaning, he crawled out from under the pile and searched for the Mask of Deception.

 

“No!” He said when he finally found it, holding two broken pieces of it in his hands.

 

Harumi’s fingers finally found the edge of the Mask of Tyranny. She tried to pry it off of Zane’s face, but before she got a chance a set of icy claws dug themselves into her calf.

 

Harumi gasped in pain and let go. Windigo finally tore free of her grasp and slammed her to the floor. She wept as she clutched her injured leg, staining her gown red with her blood. Tears were spilling down her face as she watched Windigo advance slowly on her, his eyes ablaze with rage, his claws coated in her blood.

 

“So this is the thanks I get.” The demon growled savagely. “After all we’ve been through, after all that I have done for you, and you want to stand in my way the moment I finally get my chance at destroying the green ninja?! Is this the thanks I get?!”

 

Harumi looked up at Zane, tears blurring her vision. “I-I’m sorry!” She wept. “I had to! Zane, look what you’ve become! You’re killing innocent people, you’re destroying the city! I-It’s that mask!”

 

“This mask has nothing to do with this.” Windigo spat. He stared down at Harumi as she sobbed and bled. He clenched his fists. “I let you into my heart, and what did you do? You backstabbed me!”

 

“I-I’m trying to s-save you!” Harumi cried over the blistering, freezing wind that had now picked up. “Zane, look at yourself! Don’t you see what you’ve become?! This isn’t who I fell in love with! I married the caring, sweet nindroid, not the monster that calls himself Windigo!”

 

Harumi looked pleadingly up at Windigo. “Z-Zane, please forgive me...I don’t want you to go down this path anymore...please...I love you…”

 

Windigo narrowed his eyes. The raging fire within them only grew brighter.

 

“You don’t love me…” He said, his voice dripping with venom. “You’re no better than the so called ‘brothers’ that treated me like nothing. And you and I both know what fates befell of them. Such will be the same with you.”

 

Harumi’s heart dropped as she realized what Zane meant. Her face instantly paled. She scrambled to her feet and limped, trying to escape. But she was stopped short as a spear of ice was sent through her leg. She screamed in pain and fell to the ground.

 

“Remember what I said, Harumi.” Zane’s voice said behind her. “Nobody stands between me and the mask. Not even you.”

 

Windigo pulled Harumi free from the ice spike and shoved her to the ground.

 

“N-no!” She cried. “Zane, please! This isn’t you! It never was!”

 

She looked Zane in the eyes in one last attempt to get through to the mind under the mask. But when she looked, she saw nothing. Zane wasn’t there anymore.

 

Windigo cocked his head to the side, almost mockingly. “Zane?” he asked.

 

“I’ve never heard of him.”

 

Windigo snapped his fingers, and a spear of ice shot up from the ground, stabbing Harumi straight through the heart. She went stiff in shock as she realized what he had just done and she felt the life drain from her. Windigo watched her bleed out. She struggled to form words, but couldn’t, As she felt her insides fill with what felt like thousands of icy needles as Windigo froze her from the inside out.

 

Her vision became dim, and for a split second she thought she saw Windigo’s purple eyes flash blue- the eyes she fell in love with, the broken eyes she vowed to fix, the eyes she knew would never hurt her. For the first time since she could remember, she thought she saw Zane again

 

But just as quickly, it left as Windigo shook his head, almost as if trying to fend off the nindroid from coming back, leaving Harumi wondering if what she saw was real. Silent tears streamed down her face as her vision went dark and the ice finished its painful process. Her eyes were now glazed over with the clouds she could no longer see.

 

Windigo watched as Harumi died her slow painful death, devoid of any feeling of grief for what he had just done. The ring on his finger crumbled to dust as it blew away with the wind. His eyes flickered to black as he turned his attention back to reining in Corbin.

 

Just as Harumi’s spirit left the earth, the last piece of humanity deep within Zane’s soul left with her, replaced by darkness. Zane was to be no more. He had succumbed to Windigo.

 

The Mask of Tyranny had won.

Chapter Text

A feeling of terror gripped Lloyd’s heart tighter than it ever had before. More than it had as his powers drained away from him and into the Overlord, more than standing alone at the top of that FSM forsaken tower, more than watching his beloved brother sacrifice himself for the world and the friends he loved more than anything, more than the fear that gripped him as Morro had him captive in his own mind. In all those situations he had the smallest notion of hope but that tiny flicker was extinguished just by seeing the black eyes of the brother he once loved so dearly. This demon before him was not his brother, this was a monster that could make even the Overlord cower in fear, this was doom.

 

Those black eyes locked with Lloyd’s own and what he saw within them- or actually the lack thereof- terrified him so much, so much that he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t see anything beyond those black soulless eyes, he couldn’t even hear Nya screaming at him to move as Corbin came in for another attack.

 

Nya lunged forward and dragged Lloyd out of the way. In a flash of desperation, Skylor was able to divert the dragon’s path by sending a blast of flame in its face. Corbin roared as she wheeled away.

 

Windigo growled savagely. “You want my dragon, Lloyd?” He boomed, his deathly voice rattling through the city. “Well, here she is!”

 

He tightened his fist and suddenly Corbin was back in his control and he held her stronger than he had before.

 

“N-no!” Skylor said through gritted teeth. “I’m losing her!”

 

Skylor stepped forward and concentrated. Swirls of purple sprouted from her hands as she tapped further into Windigo’s power. But as hard as she tried, Windigo’s hold on Corbin was too strong. She tried to pull away, but she couldn’t. It was like the powers she got from Windigo were gravitating towards him, making her unable to let go.

 

Suddenly everything felt cold. It wasn’t any cold she had felt before, it was a deathly cold that threatened to extinguish any spark of life. It seeped into her, muddling her vision and mind. Not only did she feel losing control of Corbin, she felt her losing control of herself.

 

“S-Skylor!” Lloyd cried, finally snapping out of his trance. “Stop! Let go!”

 

“She can’t!” Nya said. “His power- it’s killing her!”

 

Nya pulled Skylor away from the edge of the building. The master of amber collapsed into Nya’s arms like a domino. Her eyes were purple and black, her skin was pale and cold, her breathing gasping and weak.

 

“Skylor?” Nya said, shaking her. “Skylor! Can you hear me?!”

 

Lloyd raced over and saw Skylor. “Dammit, dammit, dammit no!” He cried. “Not now!”

 

Corbin roared and swooped down, narrowly missing them. “We need to get her out of here!” Lloyd yelled.

 

He grabbed her and slung her over his shoulder and ran for the doorway, but falling debris rained down in front of them, blocking their only way down. A piercing roar made them turn around and they saw Corbin with her talons outstretched and plunging towards them.

 

In a flash of desperation, Nya and Lloyd jumped to the building next to them just as the dragon came smashing into the previous one. Nya jumped to the next one after that. She turned and saw that Lloyd couldn’t make it with Skylor.

 

“Lloyd, throw her over!”

 

“I-I can’t! It won’t work!”

 

There was the sound of shrieking metal and crumbling concrete as Corbin freed her talons from the destroyed remains of the building. She glowered and hissed before lunging at them.

 

Nya gasped. “No!”

 

Corbin dove forward, plowing through the buildings. Still holding Skylor, Lloyd jumped on Corbin’s back and clung to the dragon for dear life as she went smashing through building after building. They reached Nya and he jumped off and the two took off with Skylor in tow. They climbed down several fire escapes until they reached the ground and ran back for the outskirts of town.

 

“YOU THINK YOU CAN HIDE FROM ME GREEN NINJA?!” Windigo’s angry voice howled behind him. “I’LL FIND YOU, EVEN IF IT MEANS PICKING THIS CITY APART! YOU WILL PAY FOR WHAT YOU MADE ME HAVE TO DO! YOU WILL PAY!”

 

After FSM-knows-how-long of running, they had finally escaped to a safe distance away from Windigo’s wrath. Out of breath, Lloyd felt his knees buckle as he gently laid Skylor on the ground.

 

“Oh, Skylor…” Lloyd said, on the verge of tears as he saw her sickly state. He dropped his face into his hands. “I’m so sorry, this is all my fault…”

 

Nya hoisted Lloyd up to his feet. “You and I both know what you saw back there.” She growled. “You wanted your proof, and now you have it. You know what needs to be done.”

 

Lloyd looked up at her, tears pricking his eyes. “Nya, I-I can’t... “ He said brokenly. “H-he’s my brother...I need to fix this…”

 

“Zane is gone, Lloyd, he’s dead!” Nya said. “There’s nothing left to fix, there’s nothing left to save! That thing isn’t your brother, it’s the living embodiment of death!”

 

Lloyd shook his head. Nya said nothing. She grabbed the extra sword on her back and shoved it into Lloyd’s hands.

 

“You need to own up to your mistakes and make a decision, Lloyd.” She said. “You can’t run from it anymore. It’s either us or him. Who’s it going to be? Our Zane would never have hesitated to die if it meant saving Ninjago, if any flicker of him is still in there then he would tell you to do it and not worry,”

 

“But what if-”

 

“As Sensei would say, what if there are no more what ifs, right now Lloyd there is only what must be done,”

 

“Why can’t you do it? I’ve already done enough by starting this whole thing!” shouted Lloyd.

 

“And that is why you have to finish it,” said Nya, a determined fire in her eyes.

 

“But I-”

 

“No buts Lloyd, I know what I’m asking you to do is hard but it has to be done and don’t you dare go into a mopy song debating it!” exclaimed Nya.

 

Lloyd shut his eyes and sighed, trying to steel himself for what he would have to do. For his brothers, for his mother, for Dareth, for Mystake, for all the innocent who had suffered and died
at the hands of this monster, for Zane.

 

“Okay, I’ll do it,” Lloyd said, sliding the sword into place on his back. “If this is ever going to end, it has to be now…”

 

Suddenly there was a great flash of light as the wind howled through the streets. Nya and Lloyd looked up to see a massive swirling vortex in the sky.

 

“Oh my god, is that Windigo?!” Nya cried.

 

A gargantuan red and black dragon with four familiar figures on it’s back flying out and through the sky.

 

“No, it's Master Wu and the others!” Lloyd cried. “We did it, Nya! We endured!”

 

Firstbourne flew through the skies, the blizzard winds tugging at the edges of her wings. From on her back, Wu and the ninja peered down at the city below.

 

Wu gasped softly. “We’re too late…”

 

The ninja looked down to see the carnage below. Buildings leveled, the remains of cars and other vehicles were strewn across the streets, homes, and businesses on fire and decimated. Snow fell endlessly through the air and covered the ground, as well as spears of ice that showed themselves through cars and rubble.

 

The closer they flew to the center of the city, the more prominent the smell of death became. Finally, through the thick snowstorm, the silhouette of Borg tower came into view. They were shocked to see it encased in slabs and spikes of ice. Though at a safe distance, they could still see Windigo’s icy throne and his collection of evidence of his tyrannical rule.

 

“Are those-” Jay asked, the color draining from his face. “T-that can’t be-”

 

“Y-yes Jay,” Cole answered.

 

“T-those are…” Kai trailed off.

 

“Heads…”

 

Wu turned around to look at them, his features etched with anger.

 

“What have you done?” Wu asked sternly. “What have you done?!”

 

The ninja had no answer, though they damn well knew what they had done.

 

Wu looked down. He gasped again.

 

“Lloyd! Nya!” They’re alive!”

 

There were cheers from the city as the ninja flew overhead.

 

“They’re back!” exclaimed Captain Steve the first, from his ship at the docks.

 

“They’re back!” Exclaimed Pepper from her Lemon Chicken shop.

 

From his spot upon Borg Tower, Windigo watched Firstbourne disappear among the horizon. Corbin winged down from the sky and landed next to her master. The wind billowed through Windigo’s cape, it was covered in more red snowflakes than one could imagine.

 

“They’re back,” he snarled, his last suporter was the ever crazy Ultra Violet.

 

The rest of SoG had fled the tower when he killed Harumi, fearing for their lives they locked themselves in Kryptarium voluntarily.

 

“Ultra, go deal with the nuisance, kill them if you can,” growled Windigo.

 

“With pleasure my lord,” said Ultra, running to grab her mask. She placed the Mask of Hatred on her head before disappearing into the city below.

 

Lloyd watched in awe as Firstbourne landed in front of them.

 

“Master Wu!” Lloyd and Nya cried, running to their mentor as he hopped off the dragon’s back. The green ninja practically flung himself in Wu arms and clung to his clothes like a child.

 

“Master Wu, I-I made a horrible mistake…”

 

“I see that,” Wu said. “But we all did.” He gently pried Lloyd off of him. “The only thing we can do now is fix the damage we’ve done.”

 

Kai spied Skylor and ran over to her. “Skylor? Skylor!” He cried. He looked up at Nya. “What happened to her?!”

 

“She tapped into Windigo’s power. It was too much for her.”

 

Kai scooped the unconscious Skylor into his arms, unsettled by the chill of her skin on his own. If he had not seen the weak puffs of breath in the frigid air, he would have thought she was dead.

 

“Fix the damage?!” Cole said. “How can we fix any of this?!”

 

Lloyd sighed. “We can’t…”

 

The others turned to look at him.

 

“We can’t?” Jay asked. “What do you mean we can’t? We have to!”

 

They watched in confusion as Lloyd shook his head.

 

“We can’t,” Lloyd said. “At least not back to how things used to be. I saw him as we were battling Corbin. That icy demon you saw? Zane’s not in there anymore. It’s just Windigo now. He succumbed to the Mask of Tyranny soon before you guys got here.”

 

“So- now what?” Kai asked.

 

Lloyd took out the sword Nya had given him and held it in his hands, looking at his reflection in the blade. Like Mistake had told him, he needed to transform one last time.

 

“Things will never be the same. We can’t reverse the damage that’s done before this all started. So we’ll have to do the next right thing.”

 

The other ninja looked at each other and gulped. They could only think of one outcome, and it was one that none of them liked.

 

“So…” Cole asked hesitantly. “What is the next right thing?”

 

“End it.”

 

“You mean…” Jay said. “You’re gonna…”

 

Lloyd nodded. “Yes, Jay. I have to.”

 

Silence fell among them. They’ve heard the stories about the Mask of Tyranny, its destruction, and power, and they’ve seen the extent of its wrath in the flesh. But despite all of that, nothing could brace them for what was to come next.

 

Suddenly Ultra Violet sprung out from the shadows, wildly swinging a blade at them. The ninja jumped back.

 

“What the-!” Kai cried as he sidestepped to avoid the blade. Cole leaped forwards and slammed his fists on the ground, causing the asphalt to split open. Ultra fell over and the mask fell off her head. She was about to get up when spikes of earth enclosed around her body. She fought and struggled but to no avail. She watched as Cole walked up, took the mask and smashed it against the side of the building.

 

“You think that’s going to stop Windigo?” She jeered. “You’re already too late!”

 

“Shut it, you nutcase!” Cole said. “We’re stopping Windigo whether you like it or not!”

 

She laughed. “You really think that? You couldn’t do it the first time, what makes you think you can do it now?”

 

“You’ll see,” Lloyd growled, shouldering his way through.

 

There was a roar above them, Corbin. Nya looked at Lloyd.

 

“You ready to do this?”

 

Lloyd sucked in a deep breath and nodded. “Yeah.” He nodded. “Yeah, I’m ready…”

 

They turned and left, leaving Ultra behind.

 

“You won’t be able to, you’re too weak!” She screeched after them. “Always running away from your problems! This time’s no different!”

 

“Just don’t listen to her,” Wu said. “You can do this Lloyd. I have faith in you.”

 

They jumped onto the awaiting Firstbourne’s back. She beat her wings and lofted into the air.

 

“Here’s the plan:,” Wu said as they soared across the sky. “Lloyd, I’ll drop you in. The rest of you will stay with me to fight off any stray SOG.”

 

The wind whipped through the air and the snowflakes burned their eyes as they made their way to Borg Tower. Soon it’s dark shape loomed through the storm in the distance. Firstbourne folded her wings in and began to descend.

Corbin launched herself at the descending dragon and it was suddenly an airborne battle of ice and fire as Lloyd landed on the tower, face to face with his former brother.

The whipping wind and the sound of the dragon battle above them did nothing to drown out the silence of his impending fight with death incarnate.

“It ends now Zane,” said Lloyd

“Zane has been dead since the moment his hands took human life, there is no Zane, only Tyranny,” laughed Windigo. A hollow, soulless laugh

Windigo launched himself at Lloyd who dodged.

‘Break the mask and I’ll have Zane back and won’t have to do this,’ he told himself. But this hope was futile, to get the mask away, he’d have to end the fight with blood on his own hands. Lloyd fought in silence, mourning the brother he had abandoned, Windigo’s hollow maniacal laughter echoing against the wind. Dragon’s roar overhead. Blow after blow Lloyd blocked, tears for what he was doing streaming down his face and freezing on his cheeks. The storm grew worse and so did Windigo’s fighting style. Only then did Lloyd remember that none of them had ever been able to beat Zane when sparring, and now he was fighting for his life against the brother he had never won against.

He hardly felt Windigo’s claws drag themselves across his face, he hardly even heard his own scream of pain. He slashed at the mask, severing an antler. Windigo yelled in pain and backed away. Lloyd felt the blood on his face, his eye still seemed ok but the cuts felt too deep not to leave a scar. Lloyd dodged a blast of black ice as his freezing tears mixed with the freezing blood, the salty tears stinging and aggravating the cuts. Overhead came the triumphant roar of a dragon with a flash of flame that filled Lloyd with hope as the freezing rain of the melted ice dragon pelted the final two combatants.

“NO!” shouted Windigo as his dragon melted.

Windigo’s attacks got more violent, less precise. Lloyd did his best to block and dodge, then he felt the cold claws wrap around his neck.
“It’s over green ninja,” laughed Windigo

“You’re right, it is,” said Lloyd with a rush of determination.

He thrust his sword through Windigo’s chest who promptly dropped him.

“Well done, you finally finished what you started,” sneered Windigo before groaning. The mask split in half and fell to the ground. Windigo shrunk back into Zane.

Lloyd gasped and quickly pulled his dying brother into his lap.

“L-Lloyd?” came the shaky voice of Zane, his eyes blue once more.

“I’m here Zane, I’m here,” said Lloyd

“I-I’m sorry,” whispered Zane before his eyes closed and his body went limp.

“No! Nononononono, come on brother stay with me!” pleaded Lloyd. He didn’t notice the snow vanishing or the hands that were now placed on his shoulders.

Everyone who had been frozen was now thawed and living once more, and the poisoned ice had leached the evil from Garmadon leaving the good man standing there. Lloyd held Zane’s body close, pleading for his brother to wake up, apologizing for his stupidity over and over.

“Lloyd,” said Garmadon gently as the other ninja arrived.

“It’s really over isn’t it,” said Nya, half relief, half grief in her voice.

Lloyd was sobbing now, clutching Zane’s prone form close to him desperately. It was over, it was all over, forever.