Author's Note: I do not own Jackie Chan Adventures. Which you can probably tell from the fact that as far as I know JCA never had a three month mid-season hiatus.
Xu-Lin woke the next morning feeling slightly confused. She looked around her and saw she wasn't in her own room – this room was far to cluttered and messy to be hers. Clothes were strewn everywhere, there was some sports equipment lying on the floor… this had to be Jade's bedroom. She couldn't quite remember why, she was still quite muddled from sleeping, but she had a bad feeling. A very bad feeling. She looked to her right and saw there was a chair next to her, where Jade sat looking tense and morose.
The moment she saw the look on Jade's anxious face everything started flowing back all at once, and the pit in her stomach grew ten sizes.
Jade jumped – she hadn't noticed her charge had woken up yet. She turned herself around in the chair and gave her friend her full attention. At the moment, she wasn't sure whether to feel sad, concerned, or excited. "Xu-Lin! You're awake!"
"Jade, please tell me what happened yesterday was all just a dream. A terrible nightmare!"
"I'm sorry Xu-Lin… but I can't."
"No!" She cried. Tears ran down her face, and Jade couldn't bear it but to shed one or two herself as she watched her. "No, not again! What has happened to me?" She looked down at her hands in shock, and saw Jade take her hands in her own.
"I don't know, but Uncle might. I'm glad you're up, I think he's got something but he's waiting to tell everyone until after you woke. C'mon." Xu-Lin didn't move, and kept looking down. Jade winced. "You're not gonna go nuts on me like last night and try to turn yourself in to the fuzz, are you?"
Xu-Lin's face twitched, but she still didn't move and it was only after a long pause that she spoke. "No…" she said, with the weight of someone who was obviously considering it. "But can you blame me for trying? I am a monster. I must say here where it is safe, so I cannot hurt any one else."
"You're not a monster!" Jade almost shouted, for there was no way she was about to let her best friend feel that way about herself. "You're under a spell, a major curse, sure, but you're a good person. Don't let this stuff get you down, that's no way to do anything I always say." Xu-Lin showed a hint of a smile, and Jade knew she was reaching her. "We'll beat this thing, but you won't beat it sitting in bed, will ya?"
Xu-Lin sighed and finally looked back up into Jade's face. The idea of having someone to help her through it, especially someone with Jade's unending confidence, seemed to give her strength and she moved to get out of bed. "Fine. I will… try to stay optimistic. I think I need to get changed first, though."
Jade grinned. "Attagirl! Bathroom's down the hall!"
It took around fifteen minutes for the girls to get ready and make it down to the back room where the family was set to meet. Uncle was already there, poring over a book even more impatiently than usual. Tohru was casually helping him with his notes, while Jackie sat in the corner looking fairly unnerved.
"Good morning all!" Jade led the duo into the room with her usual indomitable cheeriness. "Or… is it afternoon?"
"Hatchaaa!" Came Uncle's inevitable screech. "You sleep too late! It is already afternoon!"
"Er… I am sorry…" Xu-Lin said sheepishly. If she hadn't known Jade's family long enough to know all about Uncle's signature crankiness she might have thought she was seriously unwelcome, though she felt somewhat guilty nonetheless.
Jade, meanwhile, glared fruitlessly at the old man rather than be taken aback. "Don't mind Uncle," she said to Xu-Lin, "he just hasn't had his mung beans yet."
"Been up all night studying ancient magicks for you!" Uncle continued. "Now you walk in past noon! This no way to treat your elders!"
Uncle ranted and raved on the other side of the room for a few minutes more, to which the others – used this sort of thing by now – only took occasional notice. At least, they took enough notice to know when to avoid getting whacked on the head.
Meanwhile, Xu-Lin turned to the only member of the family who had not come to pick her up the previous day. "Hello, Tohru." Tohru often came along with the Chans on their trips to China, so she had met him many times – in fact, she was slightly disappointed that he hadn't come along that time, though the events of the previous day kind of drowned that out.
"Hello again, Xu-Lin. I'm sorry to hear your vacation has gotten off to such a rotten start," he gave her an "I-wish-I-could-do-more" look, which got a smile out of her anyways. To Jade, Tohru was like a mix between a big brother and another uncle, and it was always nice to know Jade's family would be so accepting of her, even though she was cursed. Even Uncle's curmudgeonly complaining was welcome to her.
"Aw, don't worry T," Jade casually leaned up against Tohru's massive bulk, looking very nonchalant. "We'll have this whole thing fixed in a jiffy, you'll see."
Tohru suddenly looked mildly uncomfortable. "Er… actually…" Before he could finish the sentence, however, Uncle's rants finally started to regain focus.
"And now you assume too much!" His arms were crossed in extreme disapproval, but it was obvious he wasn't quite as angry any more.
"Wait… what do you mean?"
"Yes." Jackie said from the corner. "We would all like to know what is going on."
Tohru started again. "Well, we-"
At that moment there came a bang from outside as the front door to the shop flew open, followed by the clutter of frantic feet as someone rushed through the store – carefully, so as not to break anything. A second later, a boy wih reddish brown hair burst in through the back room door, out of breath and looking like he had just run a marathon.
"I'm sorry! Am I late? Just tell me what you need me to- oh, hey! Xu-Lin, live and in person!" The boy paused in his many apologies to wave a hello.
"Hello Jimmy." Jimmy was one of Jade's best friends – at least, the best friend she had who lived in the same country as she did – and Tohru's own chi apprentice. However, he didn't get around like the rest of them did: Jimmy was deathly afraid of heights, which included airplanes hurtling through the air at thousands of miles per hour, and often couldn't get his mother to allow him to leave the neighborhood let alone the country, so he had never travelled with the Chans to China. As a result he was the only member of the team Xu-Lin had never met in person, having even met El Toro and Paco at least once. However, Jimmy did sometimes join in on Jade's video chats or in their IM's online, so she knew him fairly well anyways.
"I heard about what happened, sorry about y- ouch!" he was cut off by a two-fingered whack to the dome courtesy of Uncle, who seemed to glide across the room in seconds.
"Uncle needs assistants to be on time!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Jimmy said, shielding his head from any more assault. Uncle, however, seemed to be satisfied and turned back to the room, deep in thought.
"As I was saying…" Tohru started tentatively, practically waiting for something to interrupt him again. When a few seconds passed and nothing burst through his sentence, he continued on. "The curse has proven... much more difficult to break than we anticipated."
Jade's eyes widened, while behind her Xu-Lin's gaze fell downward. "What?" Jade shouted. "Why?"
"Well we-" Tohru sighed… and was immediately interrupted by Uncle.
"Spell of the Lotus Temple is powerful ancient magic. Not easy to be removed, even and especially when tampered with."
Tohru pouted and crossed his arms, but it was Jimmy who spoke up next. "But… can't we just dispel the curse?"
"No…" Uncle said calmly. "Lotus Temple magic is not dark magic – not inherently. The spell that befalls Xu-Lin is not true evil curse, but good magic condemning intruders to protect the temple's secrets – an inherently good, if ruthless, act. As it is not evil magic, a dark chi dispel will not work."
"But that is not problem! There is magic to remove such spells, many of which are stored here. But the spell has gone beyond that. Daolon Wong's dark chi has tampered with the spell, causing it to warp, become almost unrecognizable to what it once was. We cannot find any magic that can counteract it now that will not dangerously disturb the girl's chi."
"So…" said Jade, "you're saying that Daolon Wong's creepy mojo made the spell into something totally different."
"Yes. If someone," he turned to glare at Jackie, "had told me the curse was not broken before, then I could have removed it. But now…"
Xu-Lin didn't look up, but even without looking at her eyes the others could see she was fairly distraught. "I see…" she said was a somber calm.
"There is good news." Tohru noted.
"Really?" Jade nudged Xu-Lin in an effort to get her to perk up.
"We will do moooore research. But for now, Uncle has made temporary solution. The shop has been treated with special inscriptions, similar to the magic used in the Lotus Temple. While here, the transformations will become lessened."
"Now," Tohru said before the girls could get too excited, "that doesn't mean they won't happen at all. Daolon Wong seems to have altered the spell so that everyone around you is counted as an 'intruder,' that's why you changed on the airplane. We couldn't stop that, but while you're here it should happen much less often. And don't worry, we're confident the wards will hold. Or at least, fairly sure. He he." Tohru grinned sheepishly, but neither of the girls held his unsure tone against him.
"Shop's library is much too small," Uncle gestured to the enormous wall of books behind him, as if they were somehow insufficient. "Not enough books on good and dark chi mixing together. We must go shopping!"
"Er... yes." Tohru agreed.
"Now!" Uncle shouted, shutting down any future questioning.
"I am sorry you have to do this for me," Xu-Lin said ruefully. Jade patted her on the back and grinned.
"Don't worry about it." She said. "Uncle's loves the thought of getting more info for his collection. Right Uncle?" Uncle said nothing, but gave a rare smile, prompting a thumbs up in return.
"And I have to get to work," Jackie sighed, looking a lot more relieved now that he knew Xu-Lin would probably not turn into a monster and tear up the store, or worse, while he was gone.
Tohru and Uncle moved to follow him out to the car, while Jimmy started along behind them. "Wait!" he asked. "What should I do?"
"Practice," Tohru said flatly. "You're still behind on guiding spells."
"Practice. Guiding spells."
Jade laughed. "Seems even chi wizards can't escape homework!" She caught Xu-Lin's eye and grinned. Jimmy glared at them.
Meanwhile, At An Abandoned Warehouse In Downtown San Fransisco
"How long will it be until you get something useful, Wong?" The monk scowled as he paced back and forth on the dusty floor. The warehouse itself was big, dilapidated and, best of all, vacant. No one had used the place in years – not even the homeless would go anywhere near it for fear of running afoul of a collapsing floor or frayed wiring.
From his spot on the floor, Daolon Wong paused in the middle of his scrying spell to frown in irritation. It was one thing to spy on the Chans despite the good chi wizards' protection, it was another thing to do so with the monk buzzing in his ear. "I cannot control the actions of the Chans or their ilk, magician. You will just have to be patient… isn't that a form of 'ancient wisdom?'" Daolon Wong sneered. The monk took the shot with an even deeper scowl. "Though you may want to know that the mixing of magics worked just as expected. The good wizard cannot break it just yet."
The monk smiled and clasped his hands together in fiendish anticipation. "Wonderful. All is going according to plan."
"We will have to move soon." Wong continued. "It will not take long for that blasted wizard to figure something out."
"Blast… we could never hope to strike with Chan, his Uncle and his Uncle's student all protecting the girl. Obviously we must think of a plan and… what are you so happy about?" the monk growled at his accomplice, for Wong's face was steadily twisting more and more into a terrible smile.
"We are in luck, magician. Chan, and his Uncle, and the student have all left, have left the children all alone. Oh, and the chi wizard left a paltry protective spell around their store. How adorable."
"Excellent! Can you cast the return spell on the girl?"
Wong scoffed, taking offense at the very idea. "Obviously." He rolled his eyes. "And what's more, I can do so very soon… are you ready to fulfill your end of the bargain?"
The monk smirked. "Ancient wisdom: the wolf that hunts the resting calf always eats well."
"I… shall take that as a 'yes.'"
Meanwhile, Back At The Chan House
Twenty minutes later, things had wound down considerably. Without Uncle or Jackie to boss them around (or Tohru to do the same in Jimmy's case), the three teens retired back to Jade's room to hang around for a while. Xu-Lin rested on Jade's bed with her back on the head of the bed, trying to relax. Jade sat on the floor next to her leaning on the bedside and reading a magazine, while Jimmy sat a cluttered and mostly unused desk off to the side over a bunch of notes.
There was much groaning and grumbling from the desk as Jimmy struggled through the various subjects he had to study.
"You're making a lot of noise over there, Jimbo," Jade mused. " Need any help?"
"Help? From you?" Jimmy said incredulously. "No offense, Jade, but I'll pass."
"Hey! I'll have you know I've got amazing potential in chi magic!"
"Yeah," Jimmy groaned, rubbing his side as he sifted through a multitude of unpleasant memories. "So much potential it hurts."
Xu-Lin watched the exchange quietly, trying to keep her laughter as silent as possible. Jade really was quite haphazard when it came to magic, but she wasn't about to drag herself into this by saying so.
Jade, meanwhile, was rolling her eyes with as much gusto as she could manage. "Come on, Jim! It's just locator spells, jeez!"
"Fine. So why don't you tell me what I'm doing wrong here?" He gestured to his notes with a skeptical air.
Jade walked over and peered over his shoulder for a long moment. Jimmy and Xu-Lin sat in amused silence as she seemed to pore over every bit of the conundrum Jimmy was gridlocked by. And then, after half a minute or so…
"I got nothin'." She shrugged and walked back to the bedside and her magazine as if nothing had happened. Jimmy rolled his eyes and turned back to his work, but Xu-Lin stood up curiously.
"Maybe I could give it a try," she said serenely, walking over to the desk. Jimmy looked shocked, but Jade gave a satisfied smirked – she knew how this would end.
"Er… that's ok…" Jimmy stammered as Xu-Lin walked over and began to look over his notes as Jade did. "This is pretty complicated magic, and I don't think you-"
"I think I have found your problem." Xu-Lin interrupted, not quite listening – though more due to concentrating than actually trying to ignore him. "You have mixed up your locator spells."
Jimmy gaped. Jade snickered. They both recovered quickly – Jade merely keeping her increasing laughter silent. "I… what do you mean?"
"You are trying to apply the aspects of a tracking spell to a guiding spell," Xu-Lin continued. "Uncle, I think, usually uses tracking spells, but guiding spells are something different. A tracking spell pinpoint chi and tell exactly where they are; like putting a plot a map, you must find where it is yourself though always know exactly where…"
"Hey!" Jade piped in, momentarily stopping her chuckles. "That's the kind of spells we used to track down the demon doors."
"I suppose," Xu-Lin paused uncertainly, having not been there for that particular adventure. "Guiding spells are different – they don't pinpoint chi, but are drawn to it. They thus draw you to it instead. You trade knowing exactly what you're looking for it for being able to be led directly to it."
"That's what we used to track down the demon chis! Wow, we sure deal with demons a lot…"
Xu-Lin shrugged, again not knowing much about that adventure beyond what Jade wrote to her about.
Jimmy, meanwhile, had gone back to gaping. "H-how did you know that?"
Xu-Lin shrugged. "I spent a lot of time exploring the enormous libraries of the Lotus Temple. Though I never thought I would need that knowledge..."
Jade gave out one last chuckle and stood up. "Well, you study-philes keep doing your homework, I'm going to do something actually useful and get a snack. You two want anything?"
The two others shook their heads no and Jade left. Xu-Lin went back to lay on the bed as Jimmy went back to work, keeping the new advice he had just gotten in his head. Within minutes he had made some headway, charming a simple pen to home in on a person's chi. It was weak, but a success – he got it to draw towards a watching Xu-Lin on the bed, and then make it shoot to floor where Jade was likely raiding the fridge downstairs.
He grinned and tore back to papers to take note of his success. This cut down on the time he thought this would take by a quite a bit, he was done already!
"You know, you're a lot better a study partner than Jade," he mused without turning around. Xu-Lin did not answer, so he continued. "Usually she just bugs me while I'm trying to work, and causes some kind of disaster when she tries to help out." He laughed, and continued in a teasing tone, "it's kind of nice to have someone who can do my work for me instead of making it ten times as tough."
There was a long pause, so much that nearly turned around before Xu-Lin finally spoke. "… you should go."
Jimmy really did turn around this time – so fast he nearly fell out of his chair. "Aw, I'm sorry!" More so than most other things, Jimmy hated to accidentally offend people – especially friends. "That was a joke! I'm sorry if it came out wrong, I…" He trailed off as he finally saw the girl – she was clutching tightly onto the bedsheets, tensely shivering with her eyelids and teeth clenched together.
"No…" she groaned. "I am… changing…" Two horns shot out of her forehead as her hands darted up in what looked like a bizarre attempt to push them back it – it would be almost comical if it weren't so shocking. "You should go… get Jade… run…"
"No!" He darted up, different spells and magicks he had learned cycling through his brain at high speed in an attempt to find something that could help. "Maybe I can-"
"No! Cannot control… please, go now! Aaaaaargh!" She gave out a scream which turned into a roar, and suddenly she was four times as big, towering over Jimmy with fangs and talons and a very dangerous glare.
Jimmy edged back slightly as the monster rose off the bed, which had collapsed under its weight.
"X-Xu-Lin? Um… calm down, now." He gave what he hoped was a calming gesture with his arms. However, today did not seem to be his lucky day.
The monster roared directly in his face, prompting him to turn tail and run. At least for the moment. Xu-Lin was right before she changed: maybe it was time to regroup. He tore out the door of the room and banked hard towards the stairs, ignoring the sounds of the monster tearing apart the room behind him.
"Oh, man," he thought, "Jade is going to go freak about this." He jumped down the stairs two at a time and almost bowled into a familiar figure at the bottom. "Speak of the devil…"
"What happened up there?" Jade gasped. She had apparently taken off in the middle of eating, if the potato chip crumbs on her shocked face were any indication. "I thought I heard-"
She was interrupted by the sound of the monster bursting out of Jade's room, tearing apart the doorframe in the process. It bellowed angrily and turned down towards the very frightened duo.
"Uh oh…" Jade's voice was wavery, a sure sign her signature confidence hadn't quite caught up with the situation yet. "This is so not good…"
"Hey, don't steal my lines."
Jimmy stared at her. "We're about to die, and that's all you care about?"
"She won't kill us… I hope," Jade said, still sounding not quite as confident as Jimmy would have liked. "She'll just-"
Before Jade could expound on what Monster! Xu-Lin might do instead of hurting them, said monster jumped up through the roof showering them both in falling planks and spinters.
"-jump through the roof, I guess…" Jade finished lamely. "Whew… I was actually little scared there."
"A little?" Jimmy's eyebrows shot up into his hairline. "Riiight. What happened to Uncle's wards? They should have-"
"- I don't know! You're the wizard-in-training! Did you do anything?"
"No, but… I dunno." He hunched over wearily as he tried to think of what went wrong.
Jade, on the other hand, shot to attention. "Crud! We should be trying to follow her!"
Jimmy smacked his forehead. "Oh… duh!"
"Stop doing that!" Came the reply. Jimmy turned to retort, only to find that Jade was already running out the front door. He ran out after her to find that in the time it took for him to reach the door she had already nearly scaled up to the roof – something he couldn't do at all, least of all in that kind of time.
"How does she do that?"
The chase was on. On the roof, Jade began to tail the retreating form of her transformed best friend, while Jimmy followed at ground level.
"Odd," Jade mused, while trying to keep a safe distance and think of what to do. "She's not rampaging or attacking any one. She just keeps going in this one direction. I wonder…"
She was snapped out of her thoughts and to attention by the sound of Jimmy calling from the alleyways below. "Jade! What are we going to do?"
"I don't know!" She called back. It was hard enough following Xu-Lin while she was like this, let alone stopping her. "Maybe… aha!" Up ahead, she spotted a larger alleyway between two sets of buildings, and on the other side from where they were she knew there was an open dumpster (she had once… borrowed… it for a prank). She knew in this monstery form Xu-Lin could make the jump easy, but what if Jade were to drag her down and guide her into the dumpster maybe they could trap her.
"Ok Jimmy! Get ready! Time to take out the trash!" She winced at her own tactless joke as she leapt forwards, while Jimmy darted into the alley to be ready to act. "Sorry, Xu-Lin…"
She need not have apologized. On the plus side, she managed to get a solid hold of a mound of white fur. On the other hand, she acted too early. Instead of getting dragged down mid-leap, the guardian was able to readjust before jumping and was in no danger of falling. Instead, in mid-spring it twisted Jade to it's front and blasted her in the chest with a freezing roar. Knocked out cold and partially frozen, Jade was totally unable to stop herself from plummeting to the ground.
"JADE!" Jimmy yelled. He quickly ran under her and caught her before she hit the ground, but was unable to adjust to her weight in time. With a yell he toppled backward into the open dumpster, taking Jade in with him.
A few seconds later he emerged, wincing and covered in trash. Hearing the tell tale sign of claws running across a rooftop fading away into the distance, he sighed and made ready to carry Jade back to Uncle's shop.
The bestial creature that was usually called Xu-Lin lumbered on over the rooftops of San Fransisco, never veering from its due course. Several people noticed the crumbling of old roofs or the sound of its rough climbing, but only caught a glimpse of a rushing white trail before it disappeared further down its path.
It was confused by it's own actions: it could feel intruders everywhere, but instead of punishing them it was irresistibly drawn to something it could not identify, something straight ahead of it that reached out to her.
Not only that but… it remembered but a few minutes ago, when it knocked the one it deemed definitely not an intruder out of its way and onto the ground below without a second glance as to how she landed. Something deep inside itself nearly made it turn back to see whether the girl was all right, but it pushed it down.
It had someplace to be. Wherever that was.
Uncle's reaction when the adults returned was not pleasant. It took several "aiyaa"s and finger whacks to everyone involved to get him back to a semi-normal "slightly more cranky than usual" level, and even then he was volatile enough to snap at them for the slightest interruption.
So while he pored over his wards to discern what went wrong with his protection, Tohru and Jackie helped calm Jade and Jimmy down with some tea and a little talk. Jade, who was mostly unharmed from her fall, was resistant to such attempts however…
"Look Uncle Jackie, Tohru, I appreciate you trying to take care of us and all…" she said, nursing the large band-aid on her head, "but I DON'T WANT TO SIT AROUND HERE DRINKING TEA! Our friend is out there totally out of control, if we don't do anything…" She stood up sharply and made a motion towards the door – the third in the last ten minutes – but a formidable hand gently guided her back to a seat on the couch.
"We understand, Jade," said Tohru with his usual calm compassion, though there was an mistakably stern edge to his voice. "But we can't act without knowing what is going on. And we are not going to lose you to Daolon Wong and his partner as well, so you might as well stop trying to go after them."
Jade made no further attempts to leave, but crossed her arms in frustration all the same. "Ok, I get it. You're worried. But so am I! And I can't just sit here and do nothing!"
"Could be worse," Jimmy quipped from his place at the dinner table – he was assuaging his own worries with a mild snack. "They could still be asking us exactly what happened every two seconds. At least now we're actually making some progess."
"Er… yes." Jackie said, "And we aren't be doing nothing. We are simply waiting for Uncle to-"
"Hatchaa! You talk like Uncle is slow as lame tortoise!"
All eyes turned towards the old man, who managed to walk up behind them without any of them noticing. Jackie instinctively ducked away just in case Uncle decided to whack him again, but Uncle did not seem interested.
"Alright Uncle!" Jade sat up to attention, looking slightly more cheerful now that Uncle was ready to talk. "What did you find out?"
Uncle removed his glasses and began to clean them in silence, while the others waited tensely. After he placed them back on his nose, he spoke with a contemplative serenity. "Daolon Wong." He said by way of easy explanation. "His dark magic must have broken through."
"Calm down Jade…" Jackie said softly, putting his hand on her shoulder in reassurance.
"Wong forced transformation in Xu-Lin, then drew her to him with further enchantment." He sighed deeply. "Is difficult to do against people normally, but much easier with her…"
"Thank you, Jimmy," Uncle continued. "I have tried spells to find her, but Daolon Wong blocks my attempts to pinpoint her location.
Tohru nodded. "A guiding spell then, Sensei?"
Jimmy bolted up out of his chair. Early, he had nearly fainted upon finding out that in tearing her way out of Jade's room Xu-Lin had also totally destroyed his notes. He was eager for an opportunity to show he actually had done the work he was supposed to.
"A spell to draw us directly to her chi? That could work. We could follow directly to her no matter how much Wong tries to cloud their position!"
Tohru smiled. "Excellent Jimmy. I see you did your work after all."
Jade smirked slightly, despite herself. "For once…"
Jimmy looked sheepish, but that quickly gave way to a somber expression. "Well… to be honest it's all thanks to Xu-Lin. Can I help cast the spell? I want to help her – it's the least I could do, I guess."
Tohru grinned at the sincere compassion in his apprentice's voice, which despite the situation made him proud and very glad. He was only a lower level chi wizard, and usually it would be decades until a trainee like he used to be would graduate to full wizardhood let alone take on an apprentice – to prove himself in having an apprentice that as apt and good-willed as his own was an honor he did not take lightly.
"Of course, if it's all right with Sensei." He turned to Uncle, who nodded absently, but Jackie cut in before Jimmy could celebrate.
"But after we set out, you and Jade will remain here and wait for us to return."
"WHAT?" Jade shot up again shooting off a blazing expression. Jackie, who had been expecting this, countered her angry glare with stubborn impassivity – no matter how much fire Jade breathed it did not look as though he would crack this time. "You expect me to just sit here while Xu-Lin's life hangs in the balance?"
"For right now, yes." Jackie's voice was as firm as his stare – he was not backing down at all. "You were already hurt, you need to take it easy."
"Hey! Whatever happened to me being 'mostly unharmed!' It's just a bump on the head… and a few bruises. And so what if I stink like trash, Jimmy does too!"
Jackie clenched his temples and sighed. "You are going to stay here and at least pretend you don't want to go rushing into danger aggravating your condition."
"You were knocked off a building!"
Jade sat back down with a grumble. "I knew I should've told you that part…"
"Jimmy?" Jackie continued. "You're in charge when we head out. Make sure Jade doesn't follow us."
It was Jimmy's turn to shout in surprise. "How am I supposed to do that?"
"You'll think of something."
"Hey, if Section 13 can't do it…" he mumbled too low for anyone else to here, shooting Jade a nervous glace. She gave him a defiant look that did not help his confidence.
"Enough!" Snapped Uncle, who had been already gathering the ingredients to the spell while the others argued. With a huff he dumped them in the middle of the room, grabbing everyone's attention once again. "Let us work before our enemies escape right under our nose!"
Another Twenty Minutes Or So Later
Currently, it was looking like there would be no escape for Daolon Wong and his monk benefactor. They had transportation all lined up fine, in fact their helicopter – a crude means of transportation that Wong found beneath him – was all lined up and ready to leave. That was not the problem.
"I do not like waiting…" Wong grumbled to his associate, who was meditating silently, which Wong currently found quite cavalier and annoying given his own impatience. "Where is the girl?"
Indeed, the abandoned dock that they had made their departure zone was currently empty of their intended captive – it was only with her that they could do what they set out to do, and thus all action came to a stop until she finally arrived. Whenever that would be.
"Ancient wisdom: the rising tide comes in slowly but brings great boon."
"Will you stop that!"
The monk raised an eyebrow without opening his eyes. "Did you not cast the spell to bring her here yourself? Have patience."
Wong scoffed silently and stared off into the distance… very soon he would have his power back and he would have no further need of this irritating charlatan.
"And to break you out of your reverie," the monk continued, "I believe I hear our boon approaching as we speak."
Wong pricked his ears up and after a moment heard it as well: the crumbling crunching of something large bounding towards them. He smirked.
The beastly guardian ran up from over a nearby warehouse roof and jumped forward in front of them, snarling angrily as it recognized the two who drew it to this place. The monk nodded at Wong, who smirked even wider and held up a glowing hand. The creature was immediately beguiled by it, and though still tense all aggression seemed to seep out of it. Instead it walked up toward the glow aimlessly like a moth to a flame.
"Yes… you are under my control now." Wong kept up his charm until it was standing directly before him, and his smirk turned into a sneer. "Far too easy," he waited a moment to make sure the spell would definitely not fail, before turning to his partner. "You want to transport this on that?" he scoffed, pointing to the helicopter which while industrial strength and more than capable of taking them across the ocean on its own, would be unlikely to be a pleasant ride to share with a Yeti-like beast..
The monk thought for a moment. "Excellent point. Change her back for now…"
Wong nodded and waved his hand a second time. Instantly the form of guardian faded away into the teenage girl yet again. She gasped and collapsed to her knees, weak from her transformation.
Wong rolled his eyes. "Get up, I do not have time for this." The girl did not budge, she did not even seem to have heard him.
As it has always been before, once back to her senses Xu-Lin could immediately recall mostly everything that happened while she had changed. And as always, she felt nothing but guilt. She had torn apart Uncle's store after the man had opened his home to her, she had run rampant around San Fransisco – again – and… oh no… her heart stopped as the remembered the last part.
Jade. When she last saw her best friend she was careening off a rooftop by her own hand. She had not even looked back, Jade could be critically injured, or worse, as far as she knew.
"N-no…" her voice was the merest whisper – obviously she was talking to no one but herself. "Jade… I-I'm sorry… I didn't…"
"Enough of your whining," Wong growled, and he used a wave of magic to force her to stand. Using another burst, he directed her towards the aircraft. She was too tired, too lost in her thoughts to resist, but she did attempt to glare at her captors all the same.
"Why..?" Despite her tone remaining soft and quiet there was a ferocity in her voice that did not suit it – it was so rarely there, after all.
"We need you to gain access to objects of great value, child." The monk spoke with deceptive warmth, but there was no hiding the truth behind that malicious smile. His eyes glinted with cold amusement and he chuckled. "An unfortunate necessity. No hard feelings, you understand."
Xu-Lin could not remember the last time she had shouted so loud, but then again she could not remember the last time she had been so angry, either. "YOU FORCED ME TO HURT MY FRIENDS! I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!" She shook with rage, and unbeknownst to her her eyes glinted a very light blue for the merest of seconds. Wong and the monk noticed this and shared an amused glance before used one last spell to force her through the door into the aircraft.
"I can live with that…" Wong sneered again. Xu-Lin's head fell with tearful resignation as he mocked her outburst.
The cruel smile never left the monk's face as followed her up the steps. "You should learn to live with it, child…" he gestured to the back room of the helicopter, and her feet walked into it of their own accord. "After all, when Jackie Chan and his family inevitably come to stop us, it will be you who will take care of him for us… heh heh…"
Xu-Lin's eyes widened with shock and fear. "N-no-" The monk heard nothing more as he slammed the back room door in front of her.
"Wong! Are you coming?" He called to the outside – after all the complaining his accomplice did regarding the payoff he assumed he would be the first to be telling the pilot to get going.
"Wait a moment…" Wong whispered just loud enough for his partner to hear on the inside. He had been about to board, when he felt a chi he had not felt in a long time – one of the things he missed greatly about having his powers was the ability to feel the flow of chi, and now he was feeling one he had known, and hated, for quite some time.
Sure enough, from around the corners of the warehouses littering the dockside came the piddling nuisances of cavalry – or so they thought they were. The infuriating good chi wizard and his entourage. How expected.
"Chan!" He snarled, readying his magical tools for a satisfying duel.
"We are not ready for them yet!" said his partner. "We are leaving! Now!"
Daolon Wong scowled. He would very much like to take his revenge now, but his comrade was right. It would not do to jeopardize the mission now, and the last thing he wanted to think was that his years in prison had made him lose his meticulous patience – he, Daolon Wong, mastermind of the arcane arts!
So with great disappointment he instead made a gesture and created a circle of flame around the aircraft, stopping all entry for the time being. He could already see the good wizard taking out his accursed blowfish and chanting, so he did not have much time. Without taking another look back he turned and climbed the stairs up
"Where is Xu-Lin!" He heard behind him. Apparently the wizard's nephew had rushed up as close as he could to the flames in a vain attempt at bravery. Wong chuckled malevolently in response, gestured for the pilot to take off, and looked out of the window in grim satisfaction as he saw his enemies disappear like ants below him…
The helicopter took off just as Uncle managed to dispel the ring of fire blocking their path. In a brief mad moment Jackie tried to leap up and grab the bottom – he had done so before, he was somewhat sad to say – but he missed by a few inches, and just like Daolon Wong and the monk were up and away, likely carrying Xu-Lin in tow.
Jackie resisted the urge to kick something in frustration.
Beside him Tohru sighed deeply, looking just as angry and worried. "What will we do now? What can we do?"
"We will have to think of something. We won't let them do this. I-"
Jackie turned around in surprise and subsequently groaned and slapped his hands over his eyes. Naturally, Jade and Jimmy had followed them the entire way. As they ran up, out of breath – they had probably run the whole way - Jackie shot Jimmy an exasperated glare. Jimmy just shrugged in response.
"What happened?" Jade said, not missing a beat. "Did we miss the action?"
"Unfortunately. Wong escaped with Xu-Lin."
His hand met her shoulder again. "But we will find them." She looked up at him, but to his surprise to look on her face was not sad but readily determined.
"You bet we will! We know where they're going!"
All eyes (besides Jimmy's) turned curiously towards her. "We do?"
"Yeah," Jade pulled a printed piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to her uncle. "After you left it suddenly hit me, so me and Jimmy looked it up. Tomorrow the moon is full over China!"
"The full moon… but that means…"
"The Lotus Temple!" Jackie and Uncle shouted in unison.
Jade smirked. "Anyone up for a trip back home?"
Author's Note: The term "it's going to get worse before it gets better" comes to mind.
Surprised to see another chapter? I know right? It's been what, three months? I have to say I'm sorry, but stuff always seems to distract me. The good news is I think I can finish this one and get onto the third in just one more chapter and an epilogue. Maybe.
Anyways, introducing Jimmy! He was mentioned earlier but this is the first time he shows up on camera. Much like Xu-Lin he's from a one-shot episode, so if you don't know who he is go back and watch "J2 Revisited," I believe it was.
The cast of characters is nearly complete! I'm so excited...