Wow, this turned out a lot longer than I thought it would…:
We were now approaching week number four of our stay at in Alaska. Kimiko had tried to contact Master Fung and our families, but none of her electronics would work. However, the Ice Dancer's equipment was always working; whether it was accessing the internet, making a call, or just plain old turning on, it just worked. We had asked them how they always got their stuff to work but apparently it was some big secret and they'd always say they couldn't tell us. Half of them would actually say they didn't know how it worked and that the "Ice Queen" had done something to fix it so that our stuff wouldn't work. She wanted to keep us closely monitored.
We had begun Ember's "Good Training" and so for things were going mostly well. She knew what she had to say to please us, but I doubt she was making real progress. But who am I to judge? Maybe she really was having a change of heart.
At first we tried to shoo away Icicle and her dancers during the lessons but we learned to ignore them. The dancers were quiet enough, and Icicle really seemed to enjoy watching Ember suffer through the lessons. In fact, Icicle was so entertained that she spent one evening carving an ice desk for Ember to work at it. Ember responded by creatively using her finger to melt parts of the ice, so that indented in the upper right corner it read:
Property of the
But Icicle was well behaved enough that we no longer bothered trying to get her out of the room when it was lesson time.
However, that's not to say we enjoyed her company. Thanks to Ember's knowledge that Icicle enjoys very long showers, we now had every day a forty-five minute time period where we could freely talk without fear of being listened to. These daily talking sessions were mostly a time to complain about all the things Icicle had forced us to do.
It was 6:32, which meant Icicle had just gotten in the shower. Time for fun!
"You know what she made me do today?" I began, sitting down on the very blanket-covered bed. We decided to hold our meetings in Clay's room; Some how there had been a building flaw in the design and Clay's room was slightly larger than the rest.
"What?" Ember asked.
"I was minding my own business, heading towards the bathroom because, well, I really had to go. Then she comes walking by and ask me where I'm going. So I told her. And you know what she said?" I asked, pausing for an effect. "She ordered me to stand there for twenty minutes, and if I moved a muscle she would call the police. She left after that but she said she would know if I moved before the twenty minutes were up. And you know, it's always just better to listen to her and put up with her crap, so I stood there like a statue for twenty minutes. My bladder nearly exploded."
"That's a lovely story, Rai." Kimiko said sarcastically.
"Why didn't you just move after she left?" Ember asked. "That's what I would've done."
"It isn't safe to disobey her." Omi answered for me. "She had me run around in a circle for half of an hour yesterday. I stopped running for a minute after she turned her back, and she nearly caught me. I only imagine it would be awful if she did."
"This morning at breakfast she kept starring at me and making this face. Her glaring was really bothering me so I politely asked her why she was starring." Kimiko began.
"What'd she say?"
"She said she didn't like me because my Xiaolin Element is fire."
"Ah, tough to be a wielder of fire, in' it?" Ember nudged her playfully. Ember and the other monks had finally made their peace with one another. Ember apologized for deceiving them, and said she was really committed to this 'goodness' thing. Anyway, point is, they had all pretty much forgiven each other and we were back to being friends. Not "I'll-die-for-you-best-friends" or anything, but good buddies at least. Pals. Whatever you want to call it.
"I guess so. She said she wouldn't even let any of us, but me and Ember particularly, stay here if we didn't have this stupid deal. Well…she didn't call it a stupid deal, that's my addition, but you get my point."
"That's nothing." Clay said quietly. "She made me kiss her."
"WHAT?" We all shouted.
"She just came up to me and demanded I do it. She used her favorite excuse of "I'll call the cops if you don't" and well…I just had no choice. Then she grabbed my face after I did it and tried to turn into some passionate romantic thing, while I just sort stood there all tight-lipped and nervous." He explained.
"Wow…that's awful." Omi said.
"Yeah, and I mean, really? Just what was she thinkin' anyway?" Ember asked. "Even if you have that much power over someone, and even if you have a big stinking crush on them, you don't force someone to kiss you. That's no way to win a man over." She paused, then scooted closer to me on the bed and leaned her head on my shoulder. "Clearly I inherited all the men-picking-up skills." She giggled.
Clay shuddered. "I can still feel her to. Her lips were so cold and watery…" He shuddered again. "I really hope she doesn't ask me to that again…or something worse."
"Whoa, don't jinks it, Clay." Kimiko warned. "You wouldn't want any of the Ice Dancers to hear you say that, she might start getting ideas."
"MmmHmm." A small silence followed. "So…anyone else have a tale to tell?" All eyes turned to Ember.
"Actually…" She said slowly. "Things have been a little better lately. I mean, we still can't stand each other, and we still argue over every little thing, and we still have to one p each other ever chance we get, but lately at night after everyone's gone to bed we stay up for a few hours just talking. Telling stories and stuff." She shrugged and sighed. "I guess that's just how sisters are. You can hate each others guts but there will always be that bond between the two and…ah, what can I say? She's family and for that I love her…yet still, I hate her. It's very complicated, siblings, isn't it?"
"Yup, I know the feeling." I said. And I did know it well; I had four sisters after all. And four brothers, as well. (A/N: Sorry, I know people don't like author's notes, but there have been debates about this, so I would just like to say that Raimundo did say in the episode "The Bird of Paradise" that he does have eight brother and sisters. I did, however, guess about which were girls and which were guys. Anyway, sorry for interrupting, back to the story.)
"Same here." Clay agreed.
"It's time like this when I really love being an only child." Kimiko smiled.
"I don't. I wish I had a brother or sister. I want siblings." Omi said sadly.
"Trust me, Omi, you wouldn't be saying that if you had them." Ember said matter-of-factly. The rest of the conversation was mostly sibling-horror-stories and that somehow turned into a two sided discussion between Ember and Clay about whether or not "True Texas Barbeque Ribs" had to be made from pigs that were raised in Texas. I zoned out for that part as we continued talking into the night…
The next day it was back to Ember's good lessons. And she seemed to being feeling particularly cynical today as she kept giving us a hard time. She had gotten Clay and I so successfully frustrated that we each took a break from teaching. Kimiko had stepped up to the plate and was giving her an oral quiz.
"Okay, question number six," Kimiko began. Ember was sitting at her desk, looking barely aware of what was going on. She seemed very bored. Icicle was watching her quietly from the floor a few feet away. "You're crossing a busy street when you see a fifty dollar bill on the street. What do you do? A, ask the person in front of you if it's there's. B, leave it on the street and keep walking. C, turn it over to the police. Or D, by toys and donate them to a children's charity."
"I pick option E." Ember answered with a smug smile.
"I only gave you four options…" Kimiko said with a confused look on her face. "Just what would option number five be?"
"E, I assume the bill is mine and pocket it." She explained and started laughing.
Kimiko sighed, annoyed. "I was looking for answer A, but C or D would have sufficed to. All right…question number seven; You see an elderly women being robbed. What do you do? A, jump into action and stop the mugger. B, call the police. Or C, walk on by because it's better to not get involved. What do you choose?"
"D; I burn the bastard."
"Why are you making a joke out of these lessons all of sudden?"
"Because you're questions are jokes." She raised her voice. It was never a good idea to mess with Ember's fiery temper.
"At least I'm trying!" Kimiko yelled, matching Ember with her own attitude. "I thought you said you wanted to be good?"
"I said that I would be willing to give up the thrill of crime if it meant I wouldn't have to be in the slammer again. I guess maybe I want to be 'good' but…ahh…come on, guys, you've felt it to. All of you helped free me, and you," She pointed at me, "Wind boy, you're the worst of you four, but I mean come on! That wonderful thrill you get from stealing…Ah! I love it!" She exclaimed.
"So you're not going to be a normal respectable member of society anymore?" Omi asked, seeming concerned.
Ember sighed. "No, I'll try…but I mean…what do you normal people do for excitement? I mean, like, what would I do with myself?"
"Not that I really want to back Ember up here, but you are asking a lot of her. We've been given a gift of powers-" Icicle began but Ember cut her off.
"You mean a curse." Ember huffed but Icicle continued over her.
"I mean, we've practically been made to be stealing machines. I merely wish to point out that you expect my sister to make a complete lifestyle change and hide her powers."
"We never said she had to hide her powers or cover them or up anything." I said, defending my friends.
"What would I do with them, though? I can't use them. If I'm gonna be hiding from the police my whole life I can't use them…it's like my trademark, you know? And I probably can't ever go to a hospital because they'd find some weird results from any test they give me…" Ember said glumly, then perked up suddenly. "All though I guess if I use them secretly it's no big deal. All right guys…I'll stop being a pain in the you-know-where. We can continue my pop quiz now."
Kimiko and Ember had gone through two more questions before Bethany barged into the room screaming. The girl had always looked like she had just had too much caffeine, but she was positively wild looking this time.
"FROST QUEEN! OH MY GOSH! ICE QUEEN! WE NEED TO TALK RIGHT NOW!"
"We can talk here, in normal voices." Icicle said coolly, not moving from her spot.
Bethany took several deep breathes then said calmly. "I'm not sure if you would want anyone else to hear this…"
"And why is that?"
"…I can't exactly say, Miss."
"Bethany, you're annoying me, spit it out."
"But what if I tell you and then you decide you didn't want these people to hear it…'cause I don't want you mad at me and-"
"BETHANY! If you don't tell me what it is right now, I swear to God I will freeze all your limbs off!"
"All right!" Bethany shouted again, her crazed look back. "Okay…all right, I will tell you; You know that job you assigned Carol and Diane?"
"About keeping in touch with the monks temple master, right? Fung was the name?" It was like someone had just stabbed my back. All this time we couldn't contact anyone we knew, and here was Icicle's henchmen regularly talking with Master Fung.
"Yeah, that's right…Um…well, they were just talking to him and well, we have a bit of a problem." Bethany said, her face contorting into ugly shapes with ever word. She was really fighting to stay calm.
"What kind of problem?" Icicle stood up.
"Well, um, he said that the police are getting suspicious that they haven't seen the monks around anywhere lately, and Jim Cadicci knows about Raimundo's past history and everything…and well, they started interrogating Fung-"
"What?" The four of us cried out in unison.
"Uh he didn't tell them anything but according to Fung…um, well, they sort of figured it out on their own…and well um…you see…"
"What is it, Beth?"
"Uhh…an entire FBI team and Jim are currently flying on a private government jet and are on their way to the decoy base, as we speak."
"WHAT?" This time all six of us yelled it.
"Ice Queen I don't know what to do!" Bethany was hysterical again. "We've got a satellite tracking them and their nearly here and I'm freaking out and I don't want to be caught!" She paused, ripped out an inhaler from her pocket and took a long puff. I didn't know she had asthma, but it wasn't too surprising to learn it. "I think we have to evacuate!"
Icicle screamed. No intelligible words, just a scream. It was pretty brief, but she was loud and frustrated.
"FINE!" She shouted. "Get all workers on base to depart, and notify all level three Dancers to use the snowmobiles," she paused and turned to us. "I made the snowmobiles, they're specially designed to be extra fast AND carry up to six people. Plus they-"
"Um, Miss Queen?" Bethany interrupted. "Um, no disrespect but…I don't think this is time to be bragging!"
"Oh, I beg to differ, it is ALWAYS time to brag…but, I do suppose you may be right; time is of the essence. Go notify the Dancers, now!" And with that Bethany had run off, shouting orders.
"Well what are we sitting around here for?" Kimiko asked. "We have to leave! Um…emergency Xiaolin Monk meeting. Guys?"
"I think we should leave right now and fly back to China!"
"Me as well!"
"Okay let's go! Come on Dojo!" We all started running for the door, Ember was chasing after us.
"OH NO YOU DON'T!" Icicle screamed. She shoved her way past those in the back, and before we knew what was happening, she had built a thick ice wall, blocking the only exit. We were trapped.
"What are you doing?" I yelled at her.
"You cannot just leave! I didn't agree to this deal so you could just depart whenever you felt like it!" Icicle was now the one who was hysterical. "Oh no! You aren't going anywhere! This deal is not through until I say it is! I have big plans for you five! I fact, we're robbing a national bank next Friday!"
"You had this all planned out didn't you?"
"Of course I did! It was easy! It took nothing to shanghai you into this! And now you will be my loyal slaves, and together we will be an unstoppable organization! The Ice Dancers will be invincible!"
"Ice this is crazy!" Ember yelled at her sister. "These guys have a machine that tracks my heat waves; they'll know I'm in here and when they find me they'll arrest us all! If you keep us here you're only hurting yourself!"
Icicle started laughing. And evil, dry, sort of laugh. "Ah…but that's where you're wrong. So be it if I can't have you, you'll all get arrested when they come. But as for me…they can't arrest who they can't see." And with those words, she stiffened her body and we watched in horror as she transformed into a solid ice pillar, no different looking than the rest.
"No!" I yelled. "This can't be happening! We can't just wait here until the cops show up, we have to do something!" I marched up to the pillar and punched it. The blow made my hand sting furiously, but I didn't care. "I know you can hear me in there! WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?" I started punching at the ice more; I didn't care if Icicle was a girl, I was sick of her and she deserved it.
"Rai! Stop! You're just wasting your time, she won't come out!" Ember pulled my away form the pillar, as I struggled to hit it more. "Now, Kimiko, help me this wall; We can melt out way out!"
"Right! Wudai Mars Fire!" The girl began working on the wall. Icicle had made it super thick, but they were determined to melt us out before the police arrived…though judging by the screams we heard from outside, they were probably here already. My heart skipped a beat as my adrenaline spiked.
"No!" We heard Icicle scream. The pillar shattered and she stepped back into view. Before I knew what was happening she had pinned Kimiko, Clay, Omi, and I to the wall, with a tight chunk of ice holding us in place by our hips and stretching across our arms as well. I had to admit; Icicle was fast.
My body went numb as I watched as Icicle hit Ember with another ice chunk, pinning her to the wall as well. But Ember melted right out.
"Eve; you've gone insane!" She shouted at her. Icicle appeared not be listening, as she added more ice layers to the door.
"No Mary! I refuse to be cheated from this deal!"
"Ice you're not being cheating by anyone! Certain situation call for- ah screw it!" Ember shoved Icicle on the floor and aimed a jet of fire at the wall. I could instantly feel the room heating up, but the ice bars holding us against the wall wouldn't give way just yet.
"How dare you push me!" Icicle pulled herself up. "Stop ruining my work!" Icicle turned her attention to the wall and she now had a solid jet of frost blowing at the wall. This was quickly becoming a battle of endurance.
It continued like that for a few minutes. Ember melting the wall and Icicle refreezing it. It seemed like it would never end. All the meanwhile, outside the room the screams from the Dancers were getting louder and inside the room my fellow monks were begging Icicle to let us free.
I decided to try and end the fight.
"Icicle, Ember, this is ridiculous! You can keep working on that wall forever, and you'll never make any progress! Look, Icicle…I'm sorry this deal isn't going to work as long you wanted it to, but…well we still held up our end of the bargain, and I'm sorry if you feel like you've been cheated. But please! You have to let us go!"
"No! Not until I get my justice!"
"I think Raimundo is right!" Ember yelled.
"Since when have I ever cared what YOU think?"
"Look Ice, come on, be reasonable!" Ember dashed in front of Icicle's power beam so that it was aiming at her. Ember weakened her flame, but kept it up so that Icicle little cold blast was aimed at her, but not hitting her.
"What are you doing?" Icicle demanded.
"I'm –Ow, God this hurts- Look Icicle! What if we make a new deal?"
Icicle hesitated, then stopped using her power, and held her hands at her side. Her fingers seemed to be glowing a pale blue color as if they were reading to start up at any moment.
"What kind of deal?"
"I…I'll give you half the money in my cache if you let us go free!" Ember suggested.
"What? You…you can't be serious…"
"I am…I'm dead serious. I don't want to be caught again…I'll do the whole goodness thing. If we escape, I'll go somewhere else and start a new life. You know, turn over a new leaf. Please, Icicle, you have to let us go!"
"But Ember, you spent years collecting all that money! Half your cache is like…millions of dollars! Billions, maybe!"
"Exactly! Think of all you could do with it! Please! What do you say?"
"I don't know…"
"It's a lot of money…but that's just it, it's just money…I can make my own money…"
"Fine, what if I give you something else?"
"I…I…" Ember's face slowly dropped as she thought about it. "I'll give you the house…I'll hand over the dead to our old Texas house. I know you've always wanted it."
"But Ember you love that house…you…" Icicle paused. "No, I don't have to time for sympathy right now. All right fine! I agree to your dead and I will let you all escape, but you owe me a favor some day, Ember."
"Okay, fine, whatever!" Ember dashed over to the wall and melted us all out. Quickly we all four to work on the wall; Ember and Kimiko melting it in places, Omi, Clay, Icicle, and I trying to chip it away with force.
After roughly five minutes, we had broken a hole large enough for us to fit through. Following Icicle's lead, as she knew all the short cuts, we ran the through ice palace. The place was completely deserted as we reached the exit; a large pair of thick steal doors.
The doors were dual operational and Icicle and Clay quickly got to work. As the door slid open we gasped as we saw the world outside.
Ice Dancers were running and fleeing in every direction. Cops and the FBI were everywhere, tackling people to the ground and restraining them. And to make everything worse, a monster snow storm was going on. We could barely see. The Ice Dancers on foot didn't stand a chance; the police all had flashlights. It seemed like the only ones who would escape were the people on the snowmobiles. Several of them were zooming by, as the people on board tried to grab other dancers away from the frenzy. They really cared about each other.
We all stood there, too shocked to move as one of the snowmobiles came rushing over. We hadn't been spotted by the police yet, but one of the dancers had must have seen Icicle.
"Frost Queen! Frost Queen come on! Get on; quickly!"
"Well guys, I do suppose this is goodbye!" She waved to us and hoped onto the seat as the snowmobile pulled to a stop in front of us. The girl in front was about to start the engine, but Icicle told her wait. She then turned to Clay.
"Clay, darling…not to be totally cliché, but…it never would have worked between us, honey. I'm sorry." She blew a kiss and with that, they were off, disappearing from our view in the thick fog.
"Guys come on! We have to get out of here!" Ember said tugging on my sleeve. We all started running into the distance. We didn't know where we were going, but we were hoping to find some sort of shelter where we could safely board Dojo. I worried Dojo wouldn't want to fly us though, as the dragon was cowering in Clay's hat, as usual.
The storm thickened. We had been running for what seemed like hours, but we were still in the midst of the chaos. Kimiko and Ember were leading the way, setting their hands on fire so we could see a little better.
"Hey! Over there! I think it's the Phoenix! We found her!" One of the FBI men shouted. Instantly a dozen people were on out tail. We couldn't shake them.
They gained speed on us. We either had to stand and fight, or keep running and be caught.
But Omi, apparently had a plan. Turning around he hollered in to the storm,
"Wudia Neptune Water!" A burst of water lifted into the air, the droplets quickly freezing into snow. "Raimundo now!
"What? Oh – WUDIA STAR WIND!" The gust of wind forced the snow at the group. Completely halting them as they could no longer see through the dense shower of snow.
"Good one, guys!" Ember called after us.
"Guys! Over there!" Clay shouted pointing. I could just barely see a small mass of Ice, curled over to one side. The storm was spraying against it so that the all the wind and snow was blowing right off the top. "Come on! Let's hide!"
Feeling thankful for our incredible luck so far, we ran behind the ice, hiding in it's cover.
"Are we safe?" Kimiko asked.
"I don't know…" I answered.
"I think we're good; for now." Clay told us. "Dojo can you fly?"
The dragon slowly popped his head from Clay's hat for a look. "I can't fly in this; it's too thick. We have to wait for it to clear up a bit."
"So we just have to wait here for the storm to clear up?" Kimiko asked, she sounded scared. We were all scared. "What is someone finds us?"
"We just have to hope for the best." Omi said reassuringly. Suddenly Omi started looking left and right frantically. "Where did Ember go?"
"What do you mean–Ember!" I shouted as I spotted her a few yards away, running into the distance. Her skin beginning to glow red. She was making a run for it. I had seen this before, it was where her self titled name came from; The phoenix. She was going to turn into the flame bird and fly away.
"Ember, stop!" I caught up with her. I tried to grab onto her to stop her but I ultimately pushed her down into the snow. "Where are you going?" I asked as we got back up.
"I don't know! Somewhere! Away!" She yelled over the storm. "I'm going to do what you guys said I should! You know, keep a low profile and start a new life."
"I don't know…" She then said confidently. "Europe. Somewhere in Europe, that seems like a good place to start. Maybe I'll go to France…Italy…Or Britain. Maybe Germany."
"But Ember…will I ever see you again?"
"Rai…I will always love you and I still want to be with you. But…we can't risk contacting each other with all this commotion. I'll start a new life somewhere and when I feel safe with my new identity, I'll contact you…" She paused, frowning. "But I understand if you don't want to do that. It'll be weeks, maybe months, maybe even a year, before this all dies down…and, it's okay with me if you want to see other people."
"Ember I already waited nine months for you, and I can wait another nine if I have to!" I told her reassuringly. I kissed her briefly. "I guess this is goodbye, for now…I love you, Ember. Where do you think you'll go, though?"
"Maybe I'll go to Sweden and stay at that ice hotel Eve was raving about. Start there and then work my way somewhere else."
"Okay…uh…you're not gonna burn it down or melt it or anything like that?"
Ember hesitated, then answered sincerely, "No. The old me would have done something like that, but not me now. No more. It's the new me now, and the new me is a good, nice member of society."
There was an awkward silence.
"So…are you going to leave now? The storm is started to die down…"
"I probably should…Oh…I don't want to though, I wish I could stay with you, but I've caused so many problems all ready…" She started to tear up a little. "I guess I'll have to come back for all my stuff later…oh, great, these new clothes aren't fire proof. They'll burn up...So I guess whatever roof top I deiced to land on, I'll be naked on…that's a great start to a new life." She said sarcastically.
"That really sucks…" I commented, then hugged her tightly. "Okay…we have to stop dragging this out…Ember, I love you, and just contact me as soon as you can. I'll see you soon, I hope. And in case I don't…live a good new life."
"You too, Rai…okay…I'll go now." She pulled out of the hug. Then she said in her old, confident voice, "Be seein' you Wind Boy!" I watched as she turned into that familiar flaming bird and took to the skies. It was a familiar sight, now, one I hoped I would never have to see again, I thought, as I wished with all my heart that our reunion would be soon and forever.
With tears of happiness in my eyes, I trudged back to my friends, reassured that the love of my life and I could one day soon finally be together.
As the four of boarded a super-sized Dojo for the flight is all clicked together in my mind.
I was finally ready for a new life.
Wow…it's over…Wow…I've been waiting for the moment for so long, it seemed like it would never come, and yet…here it is.
It's been such a journey and I thank all of you for following me through it.
And well…I really don't know what else to say.
I guess you can leave your final reviews now as it's goodbye forever.