Notes: This fic is the first of a series of fics that involves a temporal disaster known as the Time Crash. It follows several interweaving plots featuring characters from the fandoms listed below. I've tried to write the fic so that no knowledge of the fandoms is required to understand it. That being said, the majority of the fic is set in the world of Xiaolin Showdown, since it is this world where the Time Crash originates from. It is a world of kung-fu monks, chi magic and mystical artefacts, something that appeals to my inner sense of adventure, and I hope I've done the series justice.

Rated for graphic violence, fantasy violence, death, and for some mild to moderate language. Genres are action/adventure, fantasy, supernatural & horror.

List of main fandoms:

Xiaolin Showdown
Professor Layton (based on Professor Layton and Pandora's Box)
American Dragon: Jake Long
Legend of Zelda (based on the Phantom Hourglass DS game)
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl
Danny Phantom

That's all! I hope people enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. :)

Out of Time

Prologue: Villains

The brain: a miraculous organ made up of electrical pathways, of flowing ions and electrons, and of complex chemical reactions, all of which are capable of generating emotions, images, feelings and memories to store all those experiences in. Inside the brain there resides the potential for producing grand, booming symphonies; novels with the power to invoke great sensations; and luscious art and cultured sculptures, with the beauty to captivate millions for generations.

Realities within realities can be created in the blink of an eye. That is why it is called the mind's eye. A mind can travel to a faraway world and yet never truly leave home. If the brain was simple enough to understand, so say the philosophers, then we would be too simple to understand it.

However, sometimes a mind gets stuck inside its own world. Sometimes a mind refuses to see anything else. Sometimes a mind is unable to see anything else. And in this particular mind, there was no good, and there was no evil.

There just was.

When he saw another person, he didn't see another person. It was almost instinctual, really. He couldn't help himself. His mind didn't have the capacity for empathy, nor any concept of the consequences of his actions. Offices and schools and houses always fell easily before him, and desolate ruins that a major earthquake could have caused were what he left behind, but he didn't care. He never cared. As much as the indiscriminate, wanton destruction of buildings pleased him, it was not quite as satisfying as hunting and catching all the people inside. They could move. Moving objects were a lot more fun to play with. He liked it when they ran.

Complete and total devastation followed in his wake, but the screams didn't bother him, nor did the blood and mess of limbs and organs that was the result of committing mass murder. One at a time or all at once; slowly and painfully or swift and silent - it didn't matter. He enjoyed every death. Relished every moment.

But it wasn't evil. Not in the world inside his mind. He just did it because it was fun.

Time had no sense of fun.

Time had no need for fun.

Time had no time for fun.

In all, Time should just run.

But Time had gained a consciousness. Time had grown a physical form. Time had a brain, and had even gained a name. Time was the colour purple. Time had entered a world. And, now, Time was gaining knowledge.

Time knew about the Big Collapse, the "Time Crash", even if all the creatures had forgotten. Time had drawn all those shattered pieces of itself into this world and made a huge crystalline structure, in an effort to stop itself being drawn inside the disturbance. Time didn't know it had made things worse. Time was only protecting itself, you see.

And now, Time thought, things were supposed to get back to normal, just like that?


Now, Time was angry.

Time decided that it had had enough. It would absorb every single living thing into itself. Each life force. Every emotion. Every memory. Every moment. Why not? Then it could go back to just being Time again because, in all, Time should just run.

Time raised its tentacles.

Lightning flashed atop the cliff.

Chase Young, Heylin Lord of Darkness, was not a happy man right now. He stared at the sphere of purple magic floating in front of him, almost not believing what was being displayed on the whirling ball. Something was wrong with the timeline. Something was very, very wrong with the timeline. Events that weren't supposed to happen were popping up. Events that should have happened had just disappeared. And, worst of all, after a certain point in the timeline, Time itself had simply collapsed.

Through his magical sphere, he could see that the Xiaolin temple was no longer there. In its place was nothing but grass and rocks. It went beyond a mere building vanishing. It was as if the Xiaolin order had never been founded, instead completely erased from history. It meant that generations of monks had also never existed, including both himself and the current focus of his evil plans, Omi.

Chase had only met Omi a few times, but even so he could still see hidden potential. Omi was incredibly skilled in the Xiaolin arts for one so young. Having him on the side of darkness could bring a tremendous advantage, and that was why Chase was keeping a special eye on him. But with the Xiaolin temple gone, Omi was nowhere to be found.

What was causing it?

When Chase used the magic sphere to look far enough back in time, back to fifteen hundred years ago, he could see that Grandmaster Dashi wasn't where he should have been either. He had vanished, shortly before the Xiaolin temple of the past was to be completed. Dashi was the founder of the Xiaolin order, and if he "suddenly" wasn't there...

It explained why the present Xiaolin temple wasn't there. With Dashi absent, it had simply never been built. However, it didn't explain why Chase himself still existed in his current form.

Because, if the grandmaster had disappeared and no Xiaolin order had been started, then Chase would never have joined said order. He wouldn't have needed to try so hard to become a fully-fledged Xiaolin Dragon. He would never have become jealous over his ex-friend Guan getting a temple for himself. He wouldn't have listened to Hannibal Roy Bean and drunk the Lao Mang Long soup. He would not have surrendered his soul to become immortal so that he could live for all those fifteen hundred years until the present day, slowly gaining power and becoming the most skilled dark Heylin master in the world.

He wouldn't be here, right now, staring at a floating sphere of purple magic.

Time paradoxes were such a nuisance.

And never mind the things that were supposed to happen - he didn't even want to start thinking about the things that weren't supposed to happen. All of his large cats - his loyal obedient servants - had turned into hideous yellow rats! And they were certainly not obedient, not any more. They'd somehow even followed him all the way up here on this cliff, and were running around and around in circles, making that horrendous Pika! racket just to annoy him. Another weirdity of time.

Chase thought hard to remember, back to his days when he had still been a Xiaolin monk, and still on the side of good. One day, fifteen hundred years ago, Dashi had told both Chase and his then friend Guan: time had limitations.

Time was rather like a rubber band, he'd said, while demonstrating with a couple of said bands in his hands. If you fiddled around with it, you altered history. Tying two previously unrelated moments to each other? No problem. That was how the magic of the Sands of Time worked - it was the temporal equivalent of a slingshot. You could even make an enormous ball of timelines and try bouncing it against the walls of reality, if you really wanted, but stretch time too far and...

Well, time had limitations. It really didn't like being pulled in too many directions at once.

Of course, Dashi had warned them of this after having snapped the rubber band of time himself, and then having to find a way to repair it. There was nothing like hands-on experience; the Sands of Time in this case had been more the temporal equivalent of a ballista. Time hadn't liked that at all.

Another of Dashi's metaphors was the one with the glass window, where, if time cracked, it let all kinds of odd things into the timeline that shouldn't have been there. Chase and Guan had both got the idea by now. You could change the timeline in tiny ways, but if you tried to change it too much, if you tried to make time go outside its natural boundaries, weird things would start to happen. Change it even more, and the universe would be destroyed.

The problem was, Chase in the present day now had the feeling that the window had cracked. Perhaps several times. Some complete idiot had gone and messed around with the timeline too much. And now he, Chase, was a paradox about to fall over the edge into non-existence. The oxbow lake was yet another Dashi metaphor, where you were trapped in a lake of your own alongside the main Time river, but oxbow lakes of Time couldn't last forever. Sooner or later, they ran out of time, and filled up with Nothingness.

Chase noticed that the monstrous yellow pika-rats were gathering in a large circle, around him. What were they up to?

Lightning flashed atop the cliff... and then there was nothing.

Jack Spicer was a hidden consciousness behind the eyes. He was in the background, just watching. Watching a dream. Watching someone else's hidden memory.

He was in the middle of an argument. His parents (but they were someone else's parents) were shocked, in denial. His sister (but he was an only child) was disappointed. His friends (but he didn't have friends) were looking guilty and embarrassed. It was then that the building exploded.

Somehow the roaring flames missed him, went through him as if he wasn't really there. But relief soon turned to panic and terror. He ran wildly through the smoke, seeing his sister by some rubble on the floor, thrown clear by the blast. Icy horror stopped him short, gripped his body and squeezed his heart tight. His sister lay lifeless, a pool of blood on the floor, skull cracked right open, like a smashed glass bottle.

He screamed. He didn't stop screaming, not when the firefighters pulled him away, not when he was taken into an ambulance, not when the paramedics tried to calm him down because he was shaking uncontrollably. Everything happened in a blur, after that. The paramedics and the hospital and the doctors and the counsellor just bustled by, like a quick breeze...

A couple of days later, the sobbing had stopped. Everything had stopped. The police were interviewing what amounted to an emotional zombie. He couldn't focus on the here and now, couldn't bring himself to care about what were, at this point, meaningless trivialities. In the end, life itself was so weak. So frail. What was the point of living?

And inside, in the background, Jack felt the overwhelming grief from a person that wasn't him, a torture rack of anguish; a black hole of sorrow, depression, despair. His chest ached terribly, a sharp pain that dulled his senses, making him oblivious to anything else. A part of him had been torn out, leaving nothing but an empty shell. It could never be replaced.

They were all dead.

And then, Jack's house exploded.

Omi could hardly believe he had survived the blast, but an icy shiver down his spine confirmed that Jack had saved him by turning him ghostly at the crucial moment. This was rather fortunate, since Jack's house had been completely incinerated. All that remained of the once proud and stately house and its immediate surroundings was a charcoaled crater. Omi might have been quite impressed – even a little awed – at the display of explosive power had the rest of the Xiaolin monks not also been inside the house at the same time.

"They're… they're dead…"

"So am I!" said Jack, who accentuated his point by phasing his ghostly arm right through Omi's body, prompting another shiver. "But we've got to get out of here! Don't you get it? We have to fix it so none of this ever happens! Otherwise it'll be stuck like this forever!"

Omi frowned at him sceptically, until Jack used his poltergeist-like powers to hover an hourglass in front of him. It was the Sands of Time. Hope rising, Omi took the Sands of Time from the air, shivering again as the spirit of Jack Spicer took temporary refuge inside his body in preparation for the time travel.

He held the Sands of Time up, feeling something cold and gooey on his left leg just before leaving that time. As he travelled back in time to three weeks ago, to when and where this had all started, he looked down and realized that there was a lasso formed around his left ankle. At the same time he noticed this, he was jerked, and forced to the ground.

Never one to give in so easily, Omi slammed a powerful fist down hard on the pseudo rope before he could be dragged on the ground, instantly dissipating it. He immediately leapt to his feet and faced his enemy - the demon who had orchestrated the explosion. The monster who had callously murdered his friends.

He refused to cry. Instead, he glared fire at his opponent and crouched down slightly, like a tiger poised to pounce. He took out the blue Orb of Tornami, ready to fire a magical swell of water. The fearsome demon sneered contemptuously in response, daring Omi to try anything – and then suddenly Jack reappeared, and preempted everyone's next move.

"Shard of Lightning!"

The powers of the Shard of Lightning came into play, and the world around Omi froze. But the evil demon didn't. Why had the Shard not frozen him?

"Nice try." Another dark chuckle. "But you're out of time."

"We shall see," Omi said angrily. Again, he held up the Sands of Time.

"No, wait!" Jack cried, even as Omi called out the hourglass's name.

There was the deafening roar of an explosion. And time decided, quite frankly, that it had had enough.

It shattered.

"See, now, that scenario just went kablooie too," said a voice, in impatient, almost disappointed tones, like a frustrated teacher or parent rebuking a naughty child who had been misbehaving for the umpteenth time.

"And he escaped again," added a second voice, sounding rather more irate than the first, as if the escape was something that just shouldn't have happened under any circumstances. Not even if the universe had been destroyed. "He's your responsibility, you're supposed to guarding him, not – not letting all this happen!"

"I love it when you state the obvious," a third voice said, with barely disguised sarcasm. "It's such a relief to know that you're going to do everything in your power to do something about it." There was a deliberate pause before it added mockingly, "Oh, wait – you can't, can you?"

The second voice sputtered, momentarily overcome with rage. Still incredulous, it then asked, "Would you rather we remained silent while we watch you destroy the universe several times over?"

"That would be preferable, yes," voice three replied dryly. "If you're going to assign me to do your universe-destroying tasks for you, the least you could do is keep quiet and let me get on with it."

The second voice made an angry, surprised grunt, but the first voice overrode this with a sigh that clearly signified that it was used to this kind of comment from the third one.

"Fine," said voice one grudgingly, "this time we'll stay for the entire duration. And we won't interfere or complain no matter what happens in this round, you obviously have something in mind. You usually do…"

"No complaining?" voice three asked, somewhat sceptical.

"No complaining?" voice two also asked, pouring all manner of disbelief into those two words.

"No complaining," affirmed the first voice. "We'll simply watch and let things take their course."

"You do that," said the third voice pleasantly. "After all, it's what you do best."

Author's note: Yes, it's supposed to be confusing. Keep reading and all will be revealed.